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Police: Massacre Plot Foiled; Deadly Violence In Ukraine; Appeals Court: Evidence Shows More Than One Person Killed Meredith Kercher; Deadly MERS Virus Confirmed In United States

Aired May 2, 2014 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.

Breaking news tonight, another new development in the search for the accountability at the VA and this one is a potential blockbuster. Already, President Obama has weighed in. Yesterday, the head of the Phoenix VA hospital and two other administrators were put on leave, that woman there. Now, a whistleblower has come forward.

A doctor at that Phoenix hospital, where patients waited months after months to see a doctor and dozens died while waiting. What she says is shocking, plain and simple. A story of orders coming down to destroy potential evidence.

Senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin has been "Keeping Them Honest" from the very beginning. He joins us once again with the latest.

So, as I understand it, Drew, this is even more evidence that people who run the hospital there were trying to hide the fact of those long wait up to 21 months for vet to see the doctor.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: And even more concerning here is what the second doctor is now telling us. In just the last recent weeks, an attempt to hide that information from the office of the inspector general which is investigating this. This is a second doctor from inside that the VA hospital coming forward to CNN tonight.

Her name is Dr. Katherine Mitchell, a physician who works right now inside the Phoenix VA. She is confirming what several sources, Anderson, have already told us. That in fact, the VA kept a secret list. That list was being used to hide the excessive wait from the public, and from headquarters in Washington.

And Dr. Mitchell also tells us she complained about these excessive wait times as far back as two years ago when the current management first came on board. Specifically, she said, she told the new director back then Sharon Helman that the emergency room at the hospital was overloaded and overloaded, Anderson, for one reason. It was full of vets who were sick and could not get a doctor's appointment.

And Anderson, I just got off the phone with Dr. Mitchell who also told me that in recent weeks, the management of that VA she believes was trying to destroy or get rid of the evidence at the excessive wait times. The work was being conducted on the weekends. She herself, just this past Sunday, went to the hospital and hid some of the evidence so the investigators would be able to examine it.

Dr. Mitchell said she actually had the stacks of what she called the new enrollee appointments request tracking report. She hid those until she get the report on the hands of investigators that took place on Monday. An actual doctor in this hospital was trying to preserve evidence she felt was being destroyed, and destroyed Anderson for one reason, to make sure investigators could not get it.

COOPER: This is just unbelievable, the fact that this is happening at a VA hospital for our veterans, I mean, it is outrageous. You have been trying to reach the secretary of Veterans affairs, Eric Shinseki, trying to get answers to how this could have happened. Did you have any luck today? Because you have been trying to do this for months.

GRIFFIN: That is right. And we have been trying to talk to him about several different problems at six or so different hospitals. But we have been so frustrated by the lack of any responses from the VA. We actually put the story on asking why wouldn't secretary Shinseki talk to CNN?

Within just a couple of hours with that going online we received a statement from the VA with a legalized excuse. The statement reading that accordingly the VA may not be able to respond with respect to specific inquiries that fall within the bounds of the OIG, that is the office of inspector general investigation on this subject.

In other words, they are telling us they don't want to tamper with anything going on with the inspector general's reports which I suppose is their explanation of why the director has not been able to talk to us for months and months and months on many different hospitals. And now most recently on our request for information on the Phoenix VA hospital -- Anderson.

COOPER: It -- yes, it is just incredible. I mean, our vets waiting weeks and weeks and months and months just to see a doctor, a very basic thing.

Drew, appreciate the update.

Now, the lawmaker who has been spearheading the congressional approach into all this, Florida Republican Jeff Miller, chairman of the House committee on Veteran's Affairs. He is trying to get answers as well as are we as is everyone from VA secretary Shinseki.

Congressman, what do you make of this report on the Arizona Republic that just this past weekend, on Sunday night, evidence was being destroyed at the Phoenix VA hospital?

REP. JEFF MILLER (R), VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, I'm not surprised. I had actually heard information that corroborated what the Arizona Republic has already put out. I, in fact, have given a request for a preservation order to the department. And unfortunately, it took them eight days before they actually passed that preservation order down to Phoenix. So I'm very concerned that there is possibly some destruction of evidence going on as we speak.

COOPER: You know, we have been trying to get Secretary Shinseki just to sit down and do an interview with us on this program. I know your committee has been seeking information from his office, as well. Have they been forthcoming with you?

MILLER: Not at all. I have been battling the department for a number of years now on transparency issues. In fact, I have on my Web site something called trials and transparency. I have over 90 requests that are in to the department, some dating back two years. So we are expecting nothing less or more from the department right now. I would expect that they will stonewall us as long as they can.

In fact, yesterday, I sent a very strongly worded letter to the secretary saying if they didn't have the information that we were requesting of them that we would begin subpoenaing that information on the 7th.

COOPER: It is pretty incredible. Because I mean it is one thing to stonewall reporters, another thing to stonewall the members of Congress. And Secretary Shinseki, I mean, he is not some faceless bureaucrat. He is a retired four-star general who led the army in the Iraq war. He obviously knows what veterans go through and the care they need when they get home and the subsequent years. Why do you think this is happening on his watch?

MILLER: I think that they have put the secretary basically in a box. They won't let him get out and speak. We haven't heard anything from him on this particular issue. Unfortunately, all you hear is from people like Dr. Petzel, who has made a comment like, nothing to see here, move along, when in fact, they are not even involved in the investigation that is ongoing. The office of the inspector general that is doing the investigation they came at my request, even though the department continually says they invited them?

COOPER: It is also incredible that in this country where, I mean, universally, no matter what political background you are, opinion you have, everyone believes vets should have the highest level of care, they served our nation. They put their lives at risk. They have sacrificed body parts. They have sacrificed their livelihood for all of us. The idea that they are waiting so long just to see a doctor, I just find just stunning.

MILLER: Well, what is even more stunning, Anderson, is the fact that the department has the ability to send veterans out into the private sector using fee basis care. So it is not even like the department does not have a tool or the avenue to get the care to the veterans. They're just forcing them to wait in line to go through the department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities, whether it be a hospital or a clinic.

COOPER: The fact that the VA put three employees, including the director of the Phoenix hospital on leave, is that enough for you? And why do you think it took them so long?

MILLER: I have no idea why it took so long. I think it was an appropriate action. They do not need to have the people who are at the top of the list of causing the problems still at that particular facility. I think I have heard widespread acceptance from a lot of my colleagues about what has happened. But no, yes, it doesn't solve the problem.

My question is why did it take so long? And I'm anxious for the office of inspector general to get their report out.

COOPER: Congressman, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.

MILLER: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: Just want to give you one quick note. As you know this is not a one-day story for us. People deserve answers on this. Our vets deserve answers. We'll keep trying to get those answers Keeping Them Honest. We're not going away on this. We'll continue to try to get an interview at the very least from the head of the VA. This guy is a public official and he should be transparent and willing to talk to the American people.

As always, make sure you set your DVR so you can watch "360" whenever you like.

Up next, more breaking news tonight. Donald Sterling is talking and what he is saying has been making headlines again, this time it is about a payout he wished he had made. A comment he made to a magazine publisher. Who did he wished he had paid off? Stay tune to find out.

Later, what you need to know about a strange and highly deadly virus, now that the first case of it has arrived in America (INAUDIBLE). You haven't heard right before you should. Dr. Sanjay Gupta's potential life-saving information.


COOPER: More breaking news tonight, L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling is speaking out publicly for the first time since this tape rant came out. It has been just a week since his remarks about African-American became public. In the short time span, the NBA has banned him from the league for life and began proceedings to try to force the sale of his team.

Also in the short time, we learned about his history when it comes to race and lawsuits. We came to know his female companion, the one he was talking to on the tape. Even though, we have seen her face, now, sometimes goes around in a visor, sometimes in roller skates.

We have also been introduced to his wife, Rochelle, who has been both publicly condemning him and supporting Mr. Sterling in this certainly complicated. It has been quite a week. It is not over yet now that Donald Sterling has reportedly talked.

More from Brian Todd.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Sterling tells Jason Ben of (INAUDIBLE) quote, "I wish I had just paid her off" referring to V. Stiviano, the woman reported to be his girlfriend. As he faces intense pressure from the NBA to sell his team, those who have tangled with Sterling say he is not about to rollover.

DOUGLAS BAGBY, ATTORNEY WHO OPPOSED STERLING: I would be very surprised if he doesn't make a battle out of it.

TODD: Douglas Bagby represented the former girlfriend of Sterling's in a lawsuit Sterling filed against her. Sterling has a long history of contentious litigation. He has been sued for sexual harassment, has given combative depositions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have an understanding of what sexual is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just the word sexual?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the word sexual is sexual.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does it mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does it mean to you?

TODD: Sterling won that case. And experts say there is at least one legal strategy he can use to stall the NBA's effort to force him to sell the L.A. Clippers. It involve Sterling estranged wife, Rochelle.

NELSON GARCIA, DIVORCE ATTORNEY: He could file for divorce, of course, requesting that the court distribute their community property with the L.A. Clippers certainly are.

TODD: Divorce attorney Nelson Garcia says filing for divorce alone wouldn't fend off the sale of the Clippers. Garcia says Sterling could try to sue the NBA separately, try to make the two cases related and ask for a court order.

GARCIA: What he would then do is file for an injunction against the NBA to delay any sale until the divorce or just to have the family court distribute that property.

TODD: That means more courts involved. Another layer of legal complexity which Garcia says could stall the forced sale of the Clippers for two years or longer. Sterling has reportedly stalled an attempted sale before. "The L.A. Times" reports in 1982, Sterling was heard saying the Clippers needed to finish last in order to draft the top player.

A committee of NBA owners voted to remove him for that, the Times reports. Sterling later announced his desire to sell the team. That bought him time. And a few months later according to the "L.A. Times," NBA official David Stern who later became the commissioner said the league would not pursue the matter any further, even said the Clippers were operated in a quote "first class fashion." LZ GRANDERSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Now, I'm wondering can Commissioner Stern come forward and tell us exactly why he gave that organization his blessings back in 1983.

TODD: A spokesperson for former commissioner Stern told us, he was traveling and unavailable for comment.

As for Donald Sterling's remarks about paying her off, we couldn't get comment n that specific quote from the lawyer for V. Stiviano, the woman accused of recording Sterling's racist comments. But that same lawyer had earlier said that Stiviano was not Sterling's girlfriend and that she did not leaked the recordings later published on TMZ.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: Well, quite a lot to talk about.

Senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin joins us, so does Rachel Nichols, host of CNN's "UNGUARDED." Also, legal analyst Sunny Hostin.

So Sunny, Sterling says reportedly said he plans to fight any forced sale of his team. This is the first quote from him that was actually seen, the I wish I have paid her off, reportedly speaking of V. Stiviano. The magazine said he expressed force quote (ph) for the way his situation unfurled. That is the magazine's language. Does it surprised you?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It doesn't surprise me. I mean, this is the guy who sues people for sport. He is also an attorney, we have to remember that. He was a pretty good divorce lawyer. And the first rule of thumb for any attorney is, you know, never admit anyone -- anything, rather. So the fact that he is not admitting anything, that he is showing no remorse, I think that that is indicative of where we're going with this case. There is no question that he s going to file suit.

COOPER: We don't know he didn't show any remorse. He just -- he didn't say it to this (INAUDIBLE) magazine, whatever that is.

HOSTIN: Well, I think it is pretty remarkable that he said I should have paid her off, rather than anything else. And there is something that do want to mention on this topic, because I've been getting so many tweets and so many e-mails from people really blaming V. Stiviano, saying she is a gold-digger, she is a horrible person.

And while she is less than noble in this, let's look at Donald Sterling here. He is 50 years her senior. People like that are predators, in my view, if there was a sexual relationship here he is very much a predator and I think that is something --.

COOPER: Wait a minute.

HOSTIN: Something we need to talk about.

COOPER: Wait a minute, how do you say -- because there is an age difference, he is a predator?

HOSTIN: Well, he has a history of sexual harassment. And I do think when you have somebody 50 years, someone senior, in addition to having this huge, huge economic disparity, there is no question in my mind he is a predator. And to blame V. Stiviano for this relationship is just remarkable to me.

COOPER: Jeff a, what do you make of that. And the idea that he might force a sale or tie up a sale through a divorce, and through other -- some other strategy?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the romantic life of Donald Sterling is really well beyond my ability to imagine. However, I do think it is quite possible that Ms. V. saw all that money and became a very willing participant in that relationship. I think that is certainly a possibility. But I wouldn't presume to know the intimacies of what went on between them.

I think the larger point is that Sterling has less and less of a leg to stand on in fighting this sale. All the NBA cares about at this point is getting this franchise out of Sterling's hands, certainly what he said to Du Jour magazine is not going to help him. But frankly, nothing he could say would help him at this point.

COOPER: But can they get him out of the door? Can they force a huge sale? I know he would make a lot of money out of the sale based on the initial investment, but if he was forced to sell it he would be hit with the capital gains taxes, which if he was able to pass it on to his wife and, I think two kids, who were adults, who are part of this trust that owns it, they wouldn't be hit in the same way so they would be wouldn't hit with hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes.

TOOBIN: It is out of his hands, and you know what? Anderson, my ability for sympathy doesn't extend to people who have to pay capital gains taxes on $600 million in profit. I mean, you know, maybe you have a bigger heart than I do. But you know, this is -- he is -- he is out the door.

HOSTIN: I don't agree with you on that, Jeff. I don't agree with you. I mean, I think when you look -- and Rachel you can speak to this. I mean, I think when you look at the NBA constitution, I don't know that it is that clear. And I also think in terms of sports law we're in uncharted territory here. This never happened before --

COOPER: Right, Rachel, to Sunny's point based on the constitution, it is usually for economic issues that there is a history of how to force somebody to sell the team. Not for comments they made in a private phone conversation.

RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN HOST, UNGUARDED: Yes, I got to say, you know Jeff's vision of this utopia where he walks out the door, I can't see it for the say it yet. I hope for the sake of the NBA, and really for the rest of us, Jeff that you are right. But I have seen this before with Donald Sterling.

You know, we talked about it in 1982 in that piece where he was talking about basically tanking games which was against the NBA constitution, they had a recording of him. Sound familiar. They had an advisory committee meeting, sound familiar. They recommended to the rest of the NBA that they remove him from the franchise, sound familiar. And guess what? He got to keep the team.

We saw him pick up and move the San Diego Clippers to Los Angeles, without the permission against the NBA constitution. I mean, we are talking about details with this. That is a pretty big deal. Just pick up and move the team.

TOOBIN: Respectfully.

NICHOLS: They fine him $25 million, he counter sues for $100 million. And by the way, that was in 1984. It took until 1987 to untangled that and it ended up reducing it to a $6 million fine.

The point is, obviously that was a much smaller potatoes issue are than this which was mushroomed into a huge issue that has gripped the nation. But it shows a pattern with Donald Sterling. And if he tells a magazine editor today that he is not going down without a fight I'm going to listen to him.

TOOBIN: I don't doubt that he will fight. I just think the legal and cultural and political setting is entirely different from 1983. This is a major national story. The NBA recognizes that its own credibility is on the line. You have already a unanimous rule. A unanimous judgment of the first nine owners involved to get him off the stage.

Yes, it is certainly possible, maybe even likely that Sterling will fight this in court. But you know in America just because you file a lawsuit doesn't mean you're going to win a lawsuit. And as I read that contract when you see the sponsors fleeing as they did that is a good enough economic reason to get to -- to force the hand of the owners.

COOPER: Jeff --

What about the fact, Jeff, that it is owned by a trust in which his wife and his two grown kids are part of? I mean, is there precedence for forcing the sale of everybody? Of forcing the trust sale? I mean, there is one thing about getting him out.

TOOBIN: It is certainly possible that the NBA would say look, we're going to sell this franchise and we're going to put the money in trust and you can fight about who gets it. And that certainly is an easy way to resolve this. But it is not -- it is not ,you know, the ability for them to get divorced or arrange their internal relationships in such a way to forestall the sale, it is just not going to happen. I mean, the NBA is too start and they have too much at stake here.

HOSTIN: I completely disagree with you guys.

NICHOLS: Guys, there is one potentially explosive -- there is one potential explosive consequence here, too, if this does drag on. Charles Barkley said this morning, he said let me assure you that if Donald Sterling still owns the Clippers from some sort of legal reason or things are dragging too long at the beginning of the next NBA season, he says no games will be played.

He is alluding, of course, to the fact that players are not interested in playing in a league where he is still owner. And they have held off on a boycott. They discussed it, by the way. But they held on opt on a boycott during these playoffs because they feel the NBA is taking swift action. If that -- if that stops being swift the players have come out and said they are going to be concerned.

Lebron James said this morning after practice he said, I'm letting things take their course. We're not talking about a boycott yet. So how long this takes is definitely going to be an issue for the players out there. And if it drags on even just a few months it could affect games.

COOPER: We got to go. I think we're going to hear a lot more next week, more to come.

Rachel Nichols, Sunny Hostin, Jeff Toobin, thanks very much.

Up next, two women held as heroes after calling 911 when police say they spotted a teenager going into one of these storage units. Authorities say thanks to them, a massacre at a school was thwarted.

Also tonight breaking news in Ukraine, a rising death count. We have a live from the region.


COOPER: In crime and punishment tonight, authorities in Minnesota say a 17-year-old planned to kill as many students as he could in a school massacre. The plot they say, involving guns and bombs and would have begun with a high school junior killing his parents and sister. They said the plan was thwarted on Tuesday, thanks to some quick-thinking young women who some are calling heroes tonight. They say they spotted the suspect to acting suspiciously as he headed for a storage unit so they called 911. I spoke to one of them this evening.


KATIE HARTY, SAW TEEN SUSPECT (via phone): He walked right through our back yard full of water. So we were like, what is he doing? And then we saw him going to the storage and it took him like 10 minutes to get into it. But we thought he was just breaking in. So my cousin was going to go and knock on the door. But I told her not to. And I just told her to call the cops and have them deal with it because I didn't know what he was doing. So then the cops came and a few minutes later he was hauled away.


COOPER: Just word on why we're not mentioning the name of the suspect, it is because stories about mass killings and would-be mass killings should not be about the subjects, we believe. It should be about the people who likely would have lost their lives or saved lives.

Here is Susan Candiotti with the latest on the investigation.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was right there in a notebook, tucked away in a guitar case. On those pages, police say, plans to kill and blow up as many students as possible at Waseca. Minnesota high school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have escaped what could have been a horrific experience.

CANDIOTTI: A 17-year-old student is now accused of plotting a mass attack, meticulously writing down his every move starting last July. Somehow police say he managed to accumulate an arsenal including explosives, seven guns, ammo and three bombs found in his home and three more bombs and even more ingredients in the storage unit. Authorities say a friend's mom rented it for him.

(on camera): Police say it was supposed to go down like this. The teenager plotting to shoot and kill his parents and sister at home. Then go to a nearby field set off a big fire to distract first responders, then rush to his high school to kill as many students as he could with bombs and bullets.

CAPT. KRIS MARKESON, WASECA POLICE DEPARTMENT: He intended to set off numerous bombs during the lunch hour, kill the school resource officer as he responded to help, set fires and shoot students and staff.

CANDIOTTI (voice-over): Originally the planned attack was set for the anniversary of Columbine. But because it fell on Easter Sunday this year, the plot was delayed. The police say the accused teen idolized the students behind the Columbine School shooting, even though he was only 2 years old when it happened. In the journal, police also found notes on the shootings at Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook Elementary School. The investigators even recovered a pressure cooker, the same kind of bomb used to maim and kill at the Boston marathon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can either believe that this occurred as a result of a lucky break or as I do, choose to believe that God was looking out for all of us.

CANDIOTTI: Investigators credit two young women who became suspicious when they saw someone wearing a backpack going into this storage shed and called police.

CHELSIE SCHELLHAS, WITNESS: He shut the door and I thought it looked funny because normally we see people come here and it doesn't take 10 minutes to open up a storage shed. So that is why I called it in.

CANDIOTTI: Inside that shed, police confronted the teenager, confiscated an array of bombs and other ingredients for even more, foiling the plot.

KATIE HARTY, SAW TEEN SUSPECT: It has not really sunk in yet. Like we have been getting flowers and people are mentioning us on Facebook. I'm glad we did what we did.

CANDIOTTI: At the time, not knowing they may have saved countless lives. Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.


COOPER: Incredible. There is a lot more happening tonight. Randi Kaye has a 360 Bulletin -- Randi.

RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, police in Nigeria now say more than 200 girls were kidnapped at a boarding school more than two weeks ago. Authorities say dozens escaped from their captors. Nigeria's militant Islamist group, but over 223 girls are still missing. At this rally Thursday, the crowd called for their safe return.

In North Eastern Afghanistan, an official fears of 2,700 are dead after a massive landslide. So far the official death is 350.

And Bill Gates no longer Microsoft's biggest shareholder after selling nearly eight million shares of stock over the last couple of days, he now owns roughly 330 million shares, just behind the company's former CEO, Steve Balmer, his famous is on his foundation -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Randi, thanks. We have more breaking news now, the crisis in Ukraine, which has only gotten much bloodier in the last 24 hours. Deadly street fighting in Odessa. Choppers gunned down elsewhere. Russia and the west squaring off diplomatically. President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussing tougher sanctions. Mr. Obama warning Russia not to further militarize its dispute with Ukraine.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If in fact, Mr. Putin's goal is to allow Ukrainians to make their own decisions then he is free to offer up his opinions about what he would like the relationship to be between Ukraine and Russia, and I suspect that there will be a whole lot of Ukrainian leaders who will take those views into consideration. They can't be done at the barrel of a gun. It can't be done by sending masked gunmen to occupy buildings or to intimidate journalists.


COOPER: Well, joining us now where some of those masked gunmen. Arwa Damon has more. Arwa, what is the latest?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, at this stage it seems that the situation has slightly calmed down. But just a few hours ago the Ukrainian forces that were positioning themselves out of the city of Slavyansk, that is where they made their push this morning came under attack by pro-Russian militants. According to the government at least two Ukrainian soldiers were killed. And then of course you have the violence that flared up in what was previously a fairly calm area. Odessa in the southern part of the country. Clashes breaking out between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian camps. There, at least four people were killed initially. And then a fire broke out in the main administration building. More than 30 people killed because of smoke inhalation, others because they tried to jump out of the windows. But Anderson, the situation is growing incredibly grim here by the day.

COOPER: And just the other day they say they were helpless against the armed separatists. Now they seem to be pushing hard against them. Does the government have a plan? Are they capable of projecting force?

DAMON: Well, they have the military troops in position right now outside of Slavyansk. It seems as if those troops are under orders to simply hold the outskirts, the perimeter of this city. We need to see if another force may move in and re-take the buildings. That is going to be incredibly difficult, Anderson, because of where they're located in the very center of these cities. As you mentioned here where we are in Donetsk and Luhantsk, regaining that in Ukraine will prove to be very difficult. And if they do take the military option, potentially very bloody.

COOPER: All right, Arwa Damon, stay safe. Thanks very much.

Up next, Raphael Sollecito speaking out tonight on CNN regarding the case of Amanda Knox and what he has to say about the case, the new allegations.

Also ahead, a very mysterious and deadly virus believed to have originated from the Middle East, turns up for the first time in the United States. I'll talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta how worrisome this development is and what you need to know about it.


COOPER: Raphael Sollecito is speaking out tonight, publicly proclaiming his innocence in the murder of Meredith Kercher in Perugia, Italy back in 2007. Sollecito and his former girlfriend, Amanda Knox, who was Kercher's roommate were convicted of murder in 2009, then freed, and then reconvicted. Well, this week, the judge explained his ruling, a new theory of the crime. He said that Amanda Knox and Kercher argued violently over rent money and that Knox struck the killing blow. Here is what she told CNN's Chris Cuomo in an exclusive interview.


AMANDA KNOX, CONVICTED OF MURDER IN ITALY: I -- I did not kill my friend. I did not wield a knife. I had no reason to. I -- I was -- in the month that we were living together. We were becoming friends. A week before the murder occurred we went out to a class call music concert together. We had never fought.


COOPER: Well, in the meantime, the judge who tossed out their first trial released a statement harshly critical of the new conviction saying the verdicts were based on fantasy, not evidence. Knox and Sollecito agreed they have 90 days to appeal to Italy's highest court. Raffaele Sollecito joins us tonight with his attorney.

Raffaele, the appeals court reached a conviction regarding you and Amanda. They now say that Meredith Kercher's murder stemmed from a fight over rent money and then turned into a violent sexual encounter, where you and Amanda participated in a desire to abuse and humiliate Meredith. What do you say to that?

RAFFAELE SOLLECITO, EX-BOYFRIEND OF AMANDA KNOX: That is completely a fiction. There is nothing real in what they describe. I am a stranger in this case. I have met Amanda for less than one week. I didn't know Meredith. I met her once, and I didn't speak with Meredith. I had no reason to have any argument or have any participation, than really living inside the nightmare. It is very hard for me to go on, to live my life day by day, and live with this burden on me.

COOPER: Amanda talked to our Chris Cuomo yesterday and I want to play you a little bit about what she said.


KNOX: Right now, me and Raffaele together are fighting for our innocence and I -- like I said, I truly believe that that can happen. It is only speculation that convicts us. It is evidence that acquits us.


COOPER: She says that you and she are fighting for your innocence together. Is that true? The way you see is that you're fighting together or are you saying that you were not barely there, you didn't know her or Meredith? Are you seeing it more separate now?

SOLLECITO: I am working by myself in this tragedy. I'm in Italy. And she is very far. I appreciate her fighting also for me. But I am dealing with my lawyers and my legal team by myself.

COOPER: John, let me bring you in here. From a legal standpoint, do you want to separate Raffaele's case from Amanda's?

JOHN KELLY: Well, I think they have to -- at least the courts have to sit up and take more notice of Raffaele's case and the distinctions there, and also he is the one that has the exposure of 25 years in jail that Amanda does not have. And you know, the circumstantial evidence is different between the two.

Raphael never accused somebody of being involved in the murder. He didn't engage in questionable behavior that cast a suspicion on him. All of these things were attributable to Amanda. And to think he took up with somebody he never met, along with a girl he knew for less than a week to torture, mutilate and kill a woman he never met for even more than 5 minutes is just beyond the pale. There is no evidence to support it. It is rank speculation, a horrific tragedy that he is in this position right now.

COOPER: Do you have any regrets about returning to Italy to face these charges?

SOLLECITO: No, I already said, I came back because I have nothing to hide. I have a clear conscience. I am open-minded. There is really nothing against me. I didn't do anything wrong. I have really nothing to hide.

COOPER: Seven years of your life have been spent in this legal limbo. I mean, are you able to have a regular life on a daily basis or is this always in your mind? Are you always dealing with this?

SOLLECITO: I have always to deal with this. My family is completely destroyed. Psychologically and tragically inside their own lives. And my life is completely stolen. I cannot take a step farther because I am still in this situation. Just the future is only a dream. It is not real.

COOPER: Raffaele, I appreciate you being on, John Kelly, as well. Thank you.

SOLLECITO: Thanks, Anderson.

Up next, a deadly virus now arriving in the United States. We'll check with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and details on the threat.

And the 44th anniversary of a Kent state shooting this weekend. A CNN special report ahead.


COOPER: After more than a year, scary headlines, 263 cases and 100 deaths, and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS has finally come to the United States. The CDC confirming the first case of it. The symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath, which can lead to pneumonia and kidney failure and also fatal outcomes in about one and three cases so far. Now, an American patient traveled on April 24th from Riyadh to London then to Chicago where he caught a bus to Indiana. He is now stable in condition.

The question now that MERS is here is what kind of a risk does it pose to all of us? Let's some answers from chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta? Sanjay, what do we know about this patient and his condition.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is an American. He is a health care worker. He was working in Saudi Arabia in that capacity. He flew back on April, went from Saudi Arabia to London then to Chicago by plane and then took a bus to Indiana. It was three days later that he started to get sick, with fever and difficulty with his breathing. It sounds like he is in stable condition. He is not on a breathing machine and just getting oxygen. And most importantly he is in isolation. They confirmed he has the virus so the isolation is part of the treatment. COOPER: And they believe that camels are the reason for the outbreak?

GUPTA: Yes, for two months they have been looking into this, Anderson. In the past two months they examined the camels and their blood. They found that 3/4 of them had anti-bodies of the virus, meaning they had been exposed. In the past week they found the actual virus in the camels, identifying it as the same strain. So camels are a good source, they don't know how, is it the droplets, the meat, milk? They're just not sure right now.

COOPER: And that is in Saudi Arabia. How easily is the virus spread? I mean, now that it has come to the United States it is something a lot of people are concerned about.

GUTPA: Yes, and I think there is justifiable concern. Obviously, people think of SARS, for example, these are similar viruses. But SARS probably spread more easily from human to human. We just don't know if that is the case with MERS yet. So far it has been health care workers, family members, people who spent a lot of time with the particular patient. And I think that seems to be the most at risk. Same sort of thing we talked about with Ebola, usually the person is quite sick. And as a result it is the health care worker or family members who are most likely to get the infection.

COOPER: So what is your advice for travellers who want to reduce the risk of getting sick or coming in contact with this?

GUPTA: You know, right now we monitor this very closely and talked to the folks at the CDC. I think the best advice, people are still traveling to Saudi Arabia, obviously. What happened here was not unexpected. You have global air travel and people are going to get on planes and move around. I think you know, avoid camels is probably a good piece of advice avoid the milk and meat, that may not sound good, but is pretty popular in parts of the world. If you are in that part of the world, and get sick get it checked out. This may not be something that just develops on a plane. It could be more serious if you have been in that part of the world.

COOPER: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Sanjay, thanks.

GUPTA: You got it, Anderson, thank you.

COOPER: Up next, witnesses to the massacre at Kent State University back in 1970, now working to preserve accurate historical information that led up to the shootings of the four by the Ohio National Guard. We'll be right back with more.


COOPER: Well, Sunday marks the 44th anniversary of the deadly shootings at Kent State University. May 4th, 1970, where students gathered to protest the Vietnam War were fired on by the National Guard, and four students were killed. Sunday, we'll hear from people who saw what happened and have worked to try to preserve that moment in history by creating a May 4th Visitor Center on the Kent State campus. Here is a preview in the journey. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought this was going to be perfect for my photography class. Went out and saw the kids on the common and heard the bell. And saw the guard, who sent out the jeep, to tell everybody it was an illegal gathering.

And that was the part where I really started to get angry because it was on the campus. And nobody was doing anything but standing in a group.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said OK, we're going to have to disperse them because it is an illegal assembly. And with that I called the grenadiers forward and we fired tear gas onto the hill and in front of them. I never imagined that the National Guard would determine that they had to break up the crowd. That we were illegally on the hillside. And that we needed to get out of there. And so I didn't like that. I thought you know, man you guys are not even giving us a chance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was about 150 feet away. About 50 yards away from the National Guard. I was shouting at them. Mostly anti-war slogans, but perhaps a few insults if I remember correctly. I saw that they were aiming at me, they had their fingers on the triggers. I felt my life was in danger, but still I felt it was unlikely they would shoot. We all ran away over the hill, and were surprised to see the guardsmen come up over the hill and chase us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And when they reached the top of the hill, being a farm boy and country boy I saw them wheel with their rifles and knew what that intention was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw them lift their rifles together and start to fire.


COOPER: Witnessed the killings at Kent State airs Sunday night here on CNN, a powerful interview. We at CNN produced the interview, very powerful. We encourage you to watch it. That is it from us on CNN. "SMERCONISH" starts now.