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Obama To Answer Reporters' Questions; Defense Team's New Hire; One Fund Boston Raises $27,500,000; George Zimmerman Hearing; Amanda Knox's Memoir Out Today; Consumer Confidence Jumps; S&P Edges Back From Record Level; Jury Gets Abortion Doctor Murder Case Today; Close Up View Inside A Drug Tunnel; Willie Nelson Concert For West, Texas; Michael Jackson Wrongful Death Trial; Struggling To Rebuild After Sandy
Aired April 30, 2013 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers on the east coast and those waking up on the west coast to this special edition of NEWSROOM. I'm Chris Cuomo here in New York. Carol Costello is on assignment in Boston and will join us soon.
Now a heads up for you, in just about 15 minutes, the president will come to the Brady Briefing Room in the White House and take reporters' questions. We will bring it to you live as soon as it begins. We're watching right now. As soon as it gets going, we'll be there.
But first, we want to give you a new development in several fronts of the Boston bombing investigation. Federal agents have new interest in this man, take a look, a Canadian boxer turned Jihadist who may have had ties to the slain Boston suspect. Russian troops killed this man and other militants last year at about the same time the older alleged marathon bomber was visiting nearby.
The FBI is also taking a closer look at the suspect's widow. Why? Well, among the items taken from her home were DNA samples. They're looking to compare those samples to female DNA found on one fragments of the bombs.
Meanwhile, the younger brother has a new lawyer. Judy Clark is an expert in death penalty cases. She helped secure life sentences for high profile clients like the Unabomber and Eric Rudolf who detonated backpack explosive during the 1996 Olympics.
I want to turn now to Carol Costello. She's up in Boston and has the latest on donated money to help bombing victims. Hi, Carol.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris. There are a lot of generous people in this country. That's all I have to say. I'm here at the memorial site for the victims of marathon bombings. Many of you have sent money to help those who are hurt or lost loved ones. And a little more than a week, just a week, the "One Fund" has raised more than $27 million.
Joining me now is the man overseeing the donations, Attorney Ken Feinberg. Hi, Mr. Feinberg.
KEN FEINBERG, ADMINISTRATOR, THE ONE FUND BOSTON: How are you?
COSTELLO: I'm good. So I think the fund actually is now up to $30 million and counting. Will this be enough to cover all the costs?
FEINBERG: Absolutely not. First of all, never under estimate the charitable impulse of the American people. Over $30 million or around $30 million already contributed. Mayor Menino and Governor Patrick took the lead in urging these contributions from all over the country, but it will never be enough.
I mean, you have dampen expectations when you have four deaths and a half a dozen or so double amputees, another six or seven single amputees, brain injuries, lengthy hospitalization. It is a great deal of money. It will distributed wisely, but enough, absolutely not.
COSTELLO: I think people forget that some of these people will never get back to life as they knew before the Boston marathon bombings. Many people won't be able to go back to the same jobs. For example, these two brothers who both lost their right legs, they are roofers. They are construction workers. It is unlikely they'll really be able to do that again. So what dollar amount do you put on their lost wages?
FEINBERG: Well, it depends on how -- what's the total amount? How much should we allocate to the families of the four lost loved ones? How much should we allocate to people who have been hospitalized and will continue to be hospitalized or rehabilitation for weeks or months maybe?
And what about lost income, lost future earnings? This will be a very difficult job. Next Monday and Tuesday, I'll be in Boston holding open public town hall meetings. Anybody can come and voice the opinion on how the money should best be distributed.
COSTELLO: I was talking to some of the victim's family members and they tell me the real worry here is not what happens now but five or ten years from now. For example, a prosthetic leg, they run anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 and they have to be replace every three to five years and they require constant care.
You know, as to what's left of your leg, to put it bluntly, sadly. But the family members say, yes, we have this fund and we have Ken Feinberg deciding where the money goes, but what are we going to do ten years out?
FEINBERG: That's right. Well, families all around our nation face uncertainty. All I can do and it's not very much, is get this money distributed. I promise it will be out by June 30, by June 30. After that, we may make another distribution depending on the amount of available funds around Labor Day. That's it.
And I agree is that there's a great deal of uncertainty going forward, but there is only so much the One Fund Boston can do. And I must dampen expectations. If people expect that this is going to be some sort of financial wind fall or will give people stability financially, it won't do that. It can't do that.
COSTELLO: Just a final question for you. You have a lot of experience doing this sort of thing. You've done it for the Virginia Tech victims. You've done it for the victims of 9/11, the Gulf oil spill. You know how these town hall meetings are full of emotion. A lot of people will be yelling at you frankly. A lot of people will be crying. How do you absorb that as a human being?
FEINBERG: You can't help but be effected by it. You must give everybody including the public, the public as well, an opportunity to express their views before you make a final decision on how to distribute this money. I brace myself for what will be, I think, next week very emotional, very trying couple of hours on Monday evening and Tuesday morning in Boston.
But it is something that has to be done. You give people this opportunity to voice their concern, very transparent, and then you make a decision that will be the decision that will allocate money to eligible claimants.
COSTELLO: Ken Feinberg, thank you so much for being with us this morning. We appreciate all your efforts. We really do.
FEINBERG: Thank you.
COSTELLO: Back to you, Chris.
CUOMO: All right, thank you very much, Carol. We want to get to some other top stories this morning, accused murderer George Zimmerman back in court right now in Florida. This is the last hearing before the start of his trial in just six weeks for the shooting death of 17- year-old Trayvon Martin. There are some critical things that could happen today. One, Zimmerman might speak. Two, the future of his controversial stand your ground defense could be in play.
Also, Amanda Knox's new memoir waiting to be heard is on store shelves today. She is hoping the book will convince readers she had nothing to do with the 2007 murder of her British roommate Meredith Kurcher. Both were exchange students in Italy. You'll remember Knox spent four years in an Italian prison before an appeals court overturned her conviction. In an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, she says all the harsh names people called her were wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She-devil with an angel face thinks of Perugia.
AMANDA KNOX, AUTHOR, "WAITING TO BE HEARD": I haven't heard those. I mean, I've heard the gist of them and they're wrong. I was in the courtroom when they were calling me a devil. I mean, it's one thing to be called certain things in the media. It's another thing to be sitting in a courtroom fighting for your life while people are calling you a devil.
For all intents and purposes, I was a murderer, whether I was or not, and I had to live with the idea that that would be my life. I want to truth to come out. I'd like to be reconsidered as a person. What happened to me was surreal, but it could have happened to anyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Again the idea of it being surreal is becoming more real because the legal troubles aren't over yet. An Italian court has ordered a retrial in the Knox case. So we'll have to keep watching that.
Two big stories today developing that could affect your bank account. First, a new report says home prices climbed at their fastest face since 2006. We're just getting a look at new consumer confidence numbers.
We'll go to Alison Kosik. She is on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Alison, what does the news mean?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Chris, it looks like consumer confidence had a big jump in April. So Americans were basically they are more optimistic about the health of the economy. They actually are more confident about the labor market and many are saying they expect to have higher salaries soon.
And a confident consumer is important to keep the momentum moving in the economy. Because if they're confident, they're more likely to spend money and spending money is important because consumer spending accounts for three quarters of all economic growth.
Then you look at how the first three months of this year did here in the U.S. for overall economic growth. It was actually consumer spending that was a big driver. Once again, it's that confidence that helps to drive that spending.
Also in focus today, as you mentioned, that key reading on home prices, S&P Case-Schiller said home prices rose 9.3 percent in February from a year ago. It is the biggest year over year jump since May of 2006.
You look at some of the cities that are having the biggest growth in those prices, they include, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. As for stocks, not seeing much action as far as positive events and after these reports, the major averages are mostly lower right now.
The Dow is down 69 points. The S&P 500 is interesting because it just eked out into an all time high yesterday, but as you see it's pulling away from record territory today. You look at the S&P 500, Chris, that is really the best representation of the overall market that we have.
Because it's what your mutual funds track. It's what your 401(K) track. It is the best gauge of your investments. So it is interesting that the S&P hit an all-time high yesterday though, as I said pulling back a little bit right now -- Chris.
CUOMO: Right. And obviously, stock markets still a little bit of a close game, but that consumer confidence number very important. Alison Kosik, appreciate the reporting from you. I'll be back with you soon.
Now as you all know, we are waiting for President Obama's news conference. It is expected to begin a few minutes from now, about 10:30 Eastern we're hearing now. We'll bring it to you live. Let's take a quick break. See you in a second.
CUOMO: All right, everybody. I'm fixing my tie because I have important news for you. I'm Chris Cuomo in New York for this special edition of NEWSROOM. Welcome to our East Coast viewers and those waking up on the West Coast. It is a "NEW DAY" at CNN. That's a play on word. It's the name of our new morning show.
I'll be one of the anchors with Kate Bolduan, Michaela Pereira. You see the two beautiful people on the outside, the guy with the big nose on the inside that would be me. We're going to be starting June 10th, 6-9 every morning Eastern Time. We're really excited here. It's what brought me to CNN.
It's been a great experience. It's like I have a new family. I've never been more excited to be with two people than I am with Michaela and Kate in the morning. They're great journalists. I know you're going to love them and hopefully they'll offset me when I'm there. So that's something we wanted to tell you about.
More importantly, we're also monitoring for the president to begin his press conference. Here a live picture there. Now we're looking. The press conference is supposed to start at 10:30. You will there is no president in your picture. We'll keep monitoring. When he comes out, when we have the president, we will go to it live and we'll give you complete coverage of that.
So let's come back to me now for some top stories that we want to tell you about. A Philadelphia jury will decide if a doctor is guilty of murder. Prosecutors say the Dr. Kermit Goznell killed four babies and a mother during illegal abortions. The defense is suggesting their client is being prosecuted because he is black. Prosecutors are saying the doctor prayed on low income minority women. If found guilty, Goznell could face the death penalty.
A Mexican warehouse that investigators say concealed a drug tunnel designed to reach the U.S. has been shut down. Our San Diego affiliate KGTV went inside the tunnel that is almost four football fields long. The tunnel included an elevator, electricity even a rail system. Investigators say the tunnel shows the length that cartels will go to, to get drugs into the U.S.
Important update for you now, remember the plight of people in West, Texas. They're getting a boost from country music star, Willie Nelson. It wasn't the best sound. We love Willie Nelson. He grew up near West, Texas. He played to a sold-out crowd, donated the proceeds to the town's volunteer fire department.
At least 14 people were killed there. Remember 200 injured, it is a small town, 3,000 people. Half of it had to be evacuated when a fertilizer plant exploded earlier in the month. Keep them in your hearts and in your minds, they are going to need our help going forward.
Late night at the ball park, make that early morning. Some party Oakland Ace fans stuck with their team as the game with the Angels went into the bottom of the 19th inning. Those fans were rewarded when Brandon Moss smack the game winning home run. The six-hour-32- minute game was the longest in Ace history. What a way to end it. He is happy and beaten.
Witness testimony begins today in Michael Jackson's wrongful death trial. Jackson's family claims concert promoter, AEG Live is liable for the pop star's death. They want billions of dollars and the trial is expected to get ugly. Opening statements provide add glimpse of what's to come with the Jackson family's lawyer calling AEG executives ruthless.
CNN's Kyung Lah has more from Los Angeles.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You could barely see Jackson family members amid the crush of cameras. They arrived at the wrongful death civil trial, the familiar circus that follows Michael Jackson, even beyond the grave. Part of the performer's rehearsal for his ill-fated "This Is It" tour was the first video clip played by his family's lawyer during opening statements.
Jackson's mother, Katherine, and her three grandchildren, Paris, Prince Michael and Blanket, say concert promoter AEG Live was a greedy commercial enterprise that put profits ahead of Jackson's health by hiring and controlling Dr. Conrad Murray. Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for injecting the insomniac pop star with a lethal dose of the anesthetic Propofol.
Seated in the court's first row, 82-year-old Katherine Jackson listened as her lawyer told the jury, AEG ignored the obvious red flags and they hired Dr. Murray. They were ruthless and they wanted to be number one at all costs. The Jacksons say AEG Live should pay. On the witness list, Jackson's defense attorney in his child molestation trial.
THOMAS MESEREAU, JACKSON'S CRIMINAL ATTORNEY: The question is what was Michael Jackson's life worth? He died at 50 years of age. He was the son of a wonderful woman, Katherine Jackson, the father of three beautiful children. What was his life worth? It was worth quite a bit. He was the best-known celebrity on the planet.
LAH: But AEG Live Defense Attorney Marvin Putnam told jurors the blame in Jackson's death lies with Jackson. Promising the case will get ugly. Putnam said Jackson ex-wife Debbie Rowe helped administer Propofol ten years ago and his decades-long use of the drug was Jackson's deepest, darkest secret.
They didn't see this coming. They had no idea, said Putnam. They were a concert promoter. How could they know? (on camera): The next step, testimony begins in what promises to be a star-studded line-up from Sharon Osborne to Spike Lee and Jackson ex- wife Lisa Marie Presley. This trial could last well into the summer. Kyung Lah, CNN, Los Angeles.
CUOMO: All right, thanks, Kyung. Still to come, struggling to rebuild. That's the story for many families some six months after Superstorm Sandy. Our Poppy Harlow talked to them about their journey. We'll bring you that story after the break.
CUOMO: Survivors of Superstorm Sandy getting some much needed help from a New York state judge that blocked the plan that would have ended temporary housing today for those who were displaced. Nearly 200 families have been living in hotel rooms paid by the city until, quote, "Permanent, safe and sustainable housing was found."
A lawsuit claimed the city hasn't done enough to help those people find new places to live. So Poppy Harlow is with me now. Poppy, you went out and spoke to one of the families that is living through this situation.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Living through what they call a nightmare. This is a family we met right after Sandy that was working every day to try to repair their home and try to save it. This is what they had to watch folks on the six-month anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. It just shows you that the struggle for so many families is not even close to over.
HARLOW (voice-over): Ryan Panetta rescued his family from the rushing waters of Superstorm Sandy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I jumped out.
HARLOW (on camera): You jumped out here in the water?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I wasn't even thinking that like a log would hit me or anything.
HARLOW: Or the electrical power lines?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
HARLOW: You swam to this house?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, right here. They took us into the second floor.
HARLOW: What did you think when your 13-year-old son jumped in the water?
KAREN PANETTA, RYAN'S MOTHER: I was panicking.
HARLOW: Did Ryan help save your family?
KAREN PANETTA: No question, absolutely.
CHRISTIAN PANETTA, RYAN'S BROTHER: I was thinking that the water was going to come --
HARLOW: Do you feel like your brother helped save you?
CHRISTIAN PANETTA: Yes.
HARLOW (voice-over): He didn't just lose his home that day, his school was so badly damaged he had to move to a temporary one, a lot to deal with at just 13.
RYAN PANETTA, 13-YEAR-OLD STORM SURVIVOR: When something brings you down, you got to get up.
HARLOW (on camera): What makes you so sad?
RYAN PANETTA: I honestly don't know.
RYAN PANETTA: It's everything.
HARLOW (voice-over): They worked long hours determined to rebuild the one thing that gave them hope. But six months after Sandy, the Panetta family could only stand and watch. After all that work, they were told the foundation was shot.
KAREN PANETTA: This is where all my babies lived and to watch it just be broken down like this is tearing me up.
RYAN PANETTA: It's tough to go through, watching my house just come down.
HARLOW: Their home gone in an hour.
KAREN PANETTA: The impact of Sandy is we're living it every single day in the last six months. This is a nightmare that we're never waking up from.
JOE PANETTA, RYAN'S FATHER: It's 17 years here. This is everything we've ever done. This is our whole life here.
HARLOW: They're still paying the mortgage on the home that is no longer there. Their fight right now is over insurance.
JOE PANETTA: How do you justify that? Insurance only pays you for what you had, not for what you need.
HARLOW: They say they'll rebuild right here though have to build them higher and get approval from the city.
(on camera): I think a lot of people would ask why rebuild here. It could happen again.
KAREN PANETTA: There's no other way for me to explain than for me to say we love it here.
HARLOW (voice-over): That's one thing Sandy couldn't take away.
KAREN PANETTA: As long as we all have each other, that's going to get us through everything.
HARLOW: An amazing perspective from this family. You know, I saw firsthand why, Chris, they want to stay there. Neighbors came up as they were watching their home demolished yesterday morning, hugged them and said new home, new memories. It's this community.
Even though it is dangerous to rebuild because it could flood again, that's why they want to be there. You know, they told me their challenge with the fight with the insurance now seems never ending. They have a policy for $250,000. They said they've been offered $180,000, but they need the max to rebuild.
And the catch point too is they have to pay someone to draw up plans to rebuild, but they don't know what they can rebuild until they know how much money they're going to get from insurance and what plans the city will approve. So they're stuck in limbo now like so many other families.
CUOMO: That's the last part, probably the most important, so many families in exactly the same situation. That's why it is important for you to get out there and tell the stories. Poppy, thank you for doing it.
Now here we are monitoring the situation with President Obama. He's supposed to be holding a news conference and taking questions from reporters. No lead on it as to why this is happening, but it is an opportunity for the media.
So let's get to our team captain, Wolf Blitzer, anchor of CNN's "THE SITUATION ROOM," down in D.C. Wolf, take it from here.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S "THE SITUATION ROOM": All right, Chris, don't go too far away. I'm going to need you in a little bit. The president suddenly announcing he's going to have this news conference in the press briefing room. You see reporters getting ready for their live shots.
Our own Jessica Yellin is among those reporters standing up right now. Gloria Borger is standing by as well. Jessica, first to you, Jay Carney tweets this morning the president didn't answer questions Saturday night at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, but he will answer reporters' questions today. What's going on?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. I think the president is going to come out here to get some of the tension out of the room. A lot of us had not had a chance to ask him questions since the Boston marathon attacks, since the news of Syria having chemical weapons. Perhaps he just wants to let us all have at him and see what he'll say.
He goes off to Mexico and Costa Rica for a trip in a few days and he holds a series of press conferences when he is overseas. Sometimes they find it more effective to let us ask those kind of questions that can be more combative when he is here in the U.S. than when he is overseas with some foreign leaders.
The questions can focus more on the trip that he's on. He also, of course, will probably try to talk about the economy and his work addressing jobs, et cetera. He'll have to address the questions we ask him and I really am led to believe that's what he's here to do, as simple as that -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I assume he'll open up with a little brief statement. We're not exactly sure what subject, but Gloria, there are so many questions.
If I or you were in that room, I'm sure we would love to ask the president on Boston, for example, were there clues that were missed that could have prevented the Boston marathon bombing?