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Shockwaves in Small Texas Town after DA's Murder; White House Easter Egg Roll Today; Kevin Ware in Recovery after Surgery; Derek Jeter Misses Opening Day; Get a Gun

Aired April 1, 2013 - 08:30   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Berman. Our STARTING POINT this half hour -- a small Texas town really gripped with fear this morning as an intense manhunt gets under way for the killer or possibly killers targeting criminal justice officials. District attorney, Mike McLelland, and his wife, they were shot to death this weekend at their suburban Dallas home

Remember, only two months ago, assistant district attorney, Mark Hasse, was gunned down steps from the county courthouse.

BALDWIN: We talked to an attorney and friend of one of the prosecutors killed about how this town is reacting. Here's what he told us this morning.


PETE SCHULTE, ATTORNEY: The law enforcement community here is very uncomfortable. I mean, we're talking about -- we have a county just west of here Dallas County has got about, you know, two million people in it and we're standing in a county that has got about 100,000 people in the entire county. Everybody knew each other here.

It was a great place to practice law. Everybody liked the district attorney's office. There just wasn't a lot of activity out here. So, you know, the biggest shock out here this morning is why in Kaufman, Texas are we having an assistant DA get killed and an elected DA. It's really sending shockwaves through the community.


BALDWIN: So far police have no suspects and no motive for the murders. I want to bring in Congressman Ted Poe, a Republican from Texas, who also has served both as a prosecutor and a judge in that state. Congressman, good morning.

REP. TED POE (R-TX), FORMER TEXAS JUDGE: Good morning, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Let me begin with Mike McLelland. You knew him. Can tell us more about him? POE: He was a career law enforcement person in the sense that he served as a criminal defense lawyer, he worked in the criminal courthouse. Before that, he served 23 years in the military. So he was, you know, just basically a good person who believed in upholding the law. And now as district attorney, he was very well liked in Kaufman County and very well respected by both sides of the bar, the prosecution and the defense.

BERMAN: Congressman, you were a judge for years; you were a prosecutor for years. In both those jobs, you were threatened with violence. So the question this morning is are we doing enough to protect our law enforcement officials?

POE: Well, we can always do more. Of course, judges especially those who have worked in the criminal courthouse like I did for 22 years, when you hear criminal cases, the person that is tried, if convicted, goes to prison, but a lot of the family members and friends, associates of the individual, they don't go to prison. So you always have that constant concern. And then people getting out.

But in the big scheme of things, nationwide, there has really not been that many attacks on prosecutors. Thirteen have been killed over the last 30 years, so that's not very many. But more prosecutors are watching out for their own safety and the safety of their families; and judges, as well, because people sometimes have become more violent and don't like -- not only the case, but the case that the prosecutor is investigating. And in this case, it seems to me like this was a case where the DA's office was investigating a certain criminal cartel -- excuse me, criminal gang -- and that's why these events may have occurred.

BALDWIN: So here we have, Congressman Poe, over the course of the last two months, an assistant district attorney here in Kaufman County. And then you have the DA. We were talking to the mayor of Kaufman a little earlier this morning and he brought up this point about who they could find to fill the role.

Take a listen. This is Mayor Fortner.


MAYOR WILLIAM FORTNER, KAUFMAN, TEXAS: I believe he was doing an excellent job as district attorney. I wonder if the governor's going to find anyone brave enough to take the job of district attorney because that's what I've been told -- the governor will appoint a new district attorney before long.


BALDWIN: Congressman, if I can just get you to react to what he said and then just also how do you fill a role where potentially he or she would have a target on his or her back?

POE: Well, this is a small county, not very many people, really not very many attorneys. But there will be someone that the governor's office will appoint to fill the role of district attorney. My own opinion is that one of the purposes of these murders was intimidation not only of the district attorney but the assistant district attorney was intimidation by someone or a group of individuals to intimidate the district attorney's office not to investigate their particular criminal activity.

I do not believe that intimidation will work. There will be someone who will step forward to continue this investigation and find the culprits who are responsible for these two homicides, or really three homicides now.

BERMAN: You keep referring to a group of individuals who may be involved with these crimes. There's been a lot of talk this morning about the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, that perhaps they were responsible for this. Do you think that's a possibility? Or are you talking about another group in the organized crime community?

POE: Well, I believe it is a group. It could be possibly the Aryan Brotherhood. The district attorney has said they operate in his portion of the State of Texas. Aryan Brotherhood is a prison criminal gang. When they get out, many of them continue criminal ways, involved in drugs or prostitution; anything for money. And it seems that a scenario may be developing that the district attorney's office was investigating this gang, or another gang, and they wanted to prevent that investigation and therefore they resort to violence.

That is just one possible scenario. But I think more than one person was involved in these three homicides now.

BALDWIN: Just a final question. If you are waking up in Kaufman County, as you potion out, this small town, I know we were talking to the judge, I mean this is the kind of town where neighbors know neighbors. How do you proceed? How do you not constantly look over your shoulder?

POE: I'm sure that the people in Kaufman County, most of them who know each other, and people that come into the county, they are very concerned about maybe their safety, but also the safety of law enforcement personnel. These murders, the three murders, seem to me to be specifically aimed at certain people in particular roles in law enforcement, not other people in the community. That's why now the Texas rangers, FBI and law enforcement are going to find these culprits and bring them to justice. But people are very concerned about their own safety.

BALDWIN: Congressman Ted Poe, we appreciate your time with us this morning. Thank you.

BERMAN: The concern is certainly understandable this morning.

BALDWIN: Absolutely.

BERMAN: Let's go to now Christine Romans for some of these other headlines. Hey Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPODENT: Thanks, you guys. Startling pictures when a CNN crew is caught in a firefight between U.S. forces and the Taliban in Afghanistan. For the crew, including a reporter Anna Coren, it's a rare and dangerous look at the military's elite as it hunts down the enemy.


ANN COREN, NEJRAB, AFGHANISTAN: We got intelligence that there was an IED right in this area with a number of associates. We've come into these open fields.


ROMANS: The CNN crew is embedded with special forces in Afghanistan.

A frightening Easter Sunday for churchgoers near Cleveland. Police say a man shot and killed his father at the church entrance just as services were ending for Easter Sunday, then walked inside and started ranting about God and religion. Worshippers were hiding in bathrooms and escaping through windows. The suspect was taken into custody. No one else was hurt.

Hillary Clinton planning her first paid speaking engagement since leaving the Department of State. It'll take place April 24 when she addresses the National Multi-Housing Council in Dallas. She'll reportedly collect a six figure fee. Mrs. Clinton also plans to deliver two unpaid speeches this week at women's leadership events in Washington and New York.


Talk about a noisy neighbor. A Florida man was arrested twice last month for refusing to turn down the volume on his music. Will Presley says he's a deejay; he has to check his equipment. It's his job. Some of his neighbors say, hey, the music is too loud, too long, and too late.


TYLER SHANNON, NEIGHBOR: The baby's asleep right here and trying to put the babies down at 9:30, 10:00 and the baby won't go to sleep because all you can hear is boom, boom, boom.

WILL PRESLEY, DJ: I feel like it is our freedom of speech, that it's kind of being slammed on and criminalized. That's the worst part about it is that we're all going to jail for this such simple thing.


ROMANS: Now Deejay Will says he'll be pumping down the volume at home. He tells CNN, quote, "I look to find success in my business while finding a way to do so with respect for my neighbors."

All right. A British boy band, a viking and racecar driver will be among the headliners this morning at the 135th annual White House Easter egg roll. There were concerns the event could be canceled because the forced spending cuts, but the eggs prevail. They will roll at 10:30 a.m. Eastern -- 35,000 people from all 50 states will be attending. It will be a star-studded line-up. Running back Adrian Peterson, that's the Viking, Danica Patrick, that's the racecar driver, and the boy band, the Wanted, all scheduled to be on hand. There you go.

BERMAN: The Wanted.


BERMAN: I like Deejay Will right now.

ROMANS: Deejay Will had to turn up the music so he didn't hear the baby crying in the apartment backwards. It's all backwards.

BERMAN: That, too. All right, Christine. Thanks so much.

BALDWIN: OK, no laughs on this next one because this is tough to watch. We want to talk about this, though, because this is what all you are talking about and tweeting about. This is Kevin Ware of Louisville recovering from a surgery after this gruesome injury he suffered during Sunday's regional final win against Duke.

BERMAN: You saw a blur right there. We blurred it because it really is just frankly too disturbing to see. What you can see as it happens, though, is the reaction. You see it on the bench there. You can see people just covering their faces on the bench right there. This is Coach Rick Pitino who was crying on the court. A coach who's seen everything on the court in tears there. His teammates there also in tears. And really, one of the most startling things, was before he was wheeled off, Coach Pitino called the whole team together and Kevin Ware basically told them to go out and win it for him.

ROMANS: The images of the other teammates and the coaches and the people in the stands, even, are so powerful, you don't need to see the gruesome picture of what happened, right? I mean, it's just the power of the people who witnessed it all, I think, is the -- journalistically -- is the interesting and lasting thing about this.

BALDWIN: Everyone is saying this is one of the worst injuries they've ever seen. Not exactly something you would expect to see on a basketball court. It was his right tibia; it was an open fracture, so they immediately had to go in. We know he's gone through surgery. They had to reset his bone, if you can imagine, and now he has a rod in his leg.

The amazing part -- everything I read this morning and I know Elizabeth Cohen was talking to us about this -- this may not be a career-ending injury despite the gruesome nature of this whole thing. He may be able to play.

BERMAN: Elizabeth Cohen tells us he could be back six months from now. He could start playing or at least training six months from now. And I got to tell you, if you watched last night, that is astounding and wonderful news. We just hope he recovers well. Our thoughts are with him this morning.

BALDWIN: Good luck. BERMAN: All right, ahead on STARTING POINT, a new twist in the gun control debate. Why one town might order every resident, every single one, to own a gun.

And he has not missed Opening Day in more than 10 years. Yankees' captain Derek Jeter sits down with CNN's Rachel Nichols to talk about missing today's game and what his future holds. Coming up, you're watching STARTING POINT.

BERMAN: Derek Jeter.


BALDWIN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT this Monday Morning. Updating you now on a developing story. Detroit Metropolitan Airport has been given the all clear after a suspicious device was found in a passenger's carry-on luggage. The North Terminal back open after a forced evacuation. No details on what, if anything, was found.

It's arraignment day for a California teen who was allegedly drunk when his SUV slammed into a van and killed five members of the same family. The crash happened early Saturday morning in Southeastern Nevada. Police say 18-year-old John Soriano's Dodge Durango slammed into the back of the family van, causing it to spin and flip over. They also say they found beer bottles inside his SUV. Two other people in the van were taken to the hospital in critical condition.

An oil spill in Arkansas is providing ammunition for opponents of the controversial Keystone Pipeline. Twenty-two homes are still evacuated after thousands of barrels of oil spewed from the Pegasus Pipeline last week. ExxonMobile is still cleaning that up and says it recovered about 12,000 barrels of oil. Some environmentalists say this is exactly what they're worried about if the Keystone Pipeline is built from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

Rory McIlroy apologizing for canceling a humanitarian visit to Haiti. The world's number two golfer was supposed to be in Haiti this morning in his role as a UNICEF ambassador. Instead he's decided to play in this week's Texas Open to better prepare himself for the Masters beginning April 11th. Rory has been struggling with his game. He said his caddie convinced him to postpone the trip and keep playing.

BERMAN: Nice of him to throw the caddie under the bus there. He actually -- look, he -- if he promised to go to Haiti, he should go to Haiti. But his game has been suffering big time of late. He's not been playing well, the Master is coming up.

BALDWIN: So you're siding with the caddie?

BERMAN: I'm just saying.

BALDWIN: You're just saying.

ROMANS: Well his first job is golf, his second job is the --

BALDWIN: UNICEF ambassador. ROMANS: Another story I want to bring to you update on the tiny town in Nelson, Georgia it might soon compel every household in the community to have a gun. A city council vote tonight would make it law. The council men who proposed this measure says "Look, Nelson only has one police officer and when citizens have a problem, it can take a long time for help to arrive." An Atlanta suburb has had a similar law on the books since 1982.

BERMAN: You know, I don't know the case in this town today but every other time we've seen one of these votes and they have been going on lately, there is no way to enforce this. The town is just making a statement if they want to be on the record telling the world that they you know they love their guns.

ROMANS: But there are a lot of towns that have had a lot of budget cuts, they can't afford even like a fire truck now. So maybe they could some of those towns should make everyone have their own fire truck.

BALDWIN: Now there are other towns I think it was a Houston graduate student who came up with this idea to then begin their pulling all these donations together to give people shotguns. It started in Houston, now it's in Tucson. They're hoping it will go to 15 other cities just so and in these crime-ridden they say take matters in to your own hands. Own a shotgun.

BERMAN: Interesting.

BALDWIN: Yes. Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, opening day for the New York Yankees and --


BERMAN: Who are they playing?

BALDWIN: Some team, the Smucks, Sox, something or other they will missing their captain though. Coming up next, Derek Jeter tells us why he will not take the field today for the first time in more than a decade.

BERMAN: He's scared. He's scared. That's why.



BERMAN: So welcome back to STARTING POINT everyone.

You know this is the day when we all say we made it, we finally made it. For baseball fans it's like, the New Year's Day and Christmas and the Fourth of July all wrapped up in one. It is opening day. All teams created equal. It means the Red Sox by the way are in first place, the Yankees are in last place depending on how you look at it right now. Opening day 2013. It is an unusual one for the Yankee Captain Derek Jeter. He starts the season on the disabled list. This is first time in more than a decade. BALDWIN: I appreciate your enthusiasm John Berman, very much. Now most of the focus this afternoon though at Yankee Stadium will be on these youngsters, the victims of the Sandy Hook School massacre. The season opener is dedicated to them.

And CNN's Rachel Nichols sat down with the Yankee Captain to talk basketball and also to talk about the importance of honoring those who lost their lives in the Newtown tragedy.


RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: On opening day the Yankees and Major League Baseball are going to honor the victims of Sandy Hook. Why do you think that that's particularly important?

DEREK JETER, NEW YORK YANKEES: It's an unfortunate incident. I mean, I don't have children of my own. I have you know a younger sister, I have a nephew. And I can't sit here and tell you how -- how it would feel. But I -- it's -- it's unimaginable to think what those families were going through. Horrific incident like that, and not knowing, going to the school and not knowing whether or not your kids were safe, it's something that is just mind-boggling to think about.

NICHOLS: You called the mother of one of the teachers, the 27-year- old who was protecting her kids was killed in Sandy Hook. What made you decide to pick up the phone?

JETER: Well, first of all, I didn't do that for any attention in doing it. You know I just understood that she was a big Yankee fan, the mother was a big Yankee fan. I just did it, I thought it would -- it would, you know just to reach out and say what a hero her daughter truly was. Because you know -- I think sometimes people use that term kind of loosely. And they say this person is a hero, that person's a hero but you know you're speaking about a true hero there.

NICHOLS: You start opening day on the DL because of your ankle, what's that going to be like, what's going to be going through your head?

JETER: Well it's going to be odd. And it's disappointing for me because I feel as though it's my job to be ready for opening day, but it just didn't happen. I just ran out of time to get ready.

NICHOLS: What's different as you're 38 years old from when you're 22 years old?

JETER: Well, I think the thing is you spend much more time getting ready to play. When you're younger, you just show up 30 minutes before. You don't even have to stretch. You go out there and play and you move around. Now you get up at night, you've got to stretch before you get out of bed.

So it's a -- it's a lot more difficult. And you spend much more time at the stadium.

NICHOLS: And what about out there, what are you better at now than you were at 22, 23 years old?

JETER: Answering questions from you.


JETER: A lot of people don't realize, I've been answering your questions for years.

NICHOLS: I was going to say, you've been doing this since you were 22, 23 years old.

JETER: Yes we've been working -- we've been working together for a long time.

NICHOLS: Second act for you. Is there anything else that you want to accomplish?

JETER: I really want to win again. I hear from MJ all the time he won six, we won five. So he's always bragging he's got more. It would be fun to have just as many as all your friends.

NICHOLS: You have played baseball or thought about baseball or been preparing for baseball every day of your life probably as long as you can remember in one way or the other. What's scary about the idea of not being in the game whenever down the road it does happen?

JETER: Pretty sure I'll be involved in the game in some facet. I want to own a team one day. That's my next goal.

NICHOLS: You think the Yankees are for sale? You could buy this team.

JETER: Too expensive. Unless you give me some of your money.

NICHOLS: Would you be like George as an owner?

JETER: In some ways, I would.

NICHOLS: The yelling, the firing? What are we talking about?

JETER: I don't know. I still have to hire people. I can't tell you how bad I'll be before I hire anyone.


BERMAN: So Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixiera, Curtis Granderson -- that's like $100 million of players not playing today for the New York Yankees. It's going to be a tough season for them, I'm sorry to say. Really sorry.

BALDWIN: ROMANS: Can I ask you. I just love going to see ball games. Grew up in Atlanta with a million and one Brave games. Other than Fenway, what's your favorite stadium?

BERMAN: You know, I went to Dodger Stadium for the first time last year and there was something so like 1960s about it that I kind of loved it. You can see all the --

ROMANS: Come on, Wrigley, Wrigley, Wrigley.

BERMAN: I've been in the bleachers at Wrigley.


BALDWIN: I've been in the bleachers at Wrigley. Love San Francisco, too.

ROMANS: Nothing beats --

BALDWIN: Heading to the park, kayakers in the water.

BERMAN: But really you do have to stipulate other than Fenway because there is only one stadium --

BALDWIN: Thus the stipulation. And we'll be right back.

BERMAN: STARTING POINT will be right back.


BALDWIN: Just in to CNN, the alleged abduction of a New York city couple Friday afternoon is apparently a hoax. The NYPD now confirms it was all part of a surprise birthday party and, yes, there will be no charges. So there you have it, it was a hoax.

BERMAN: A hoax.

BALDWIN: That is it for us on this Monday morning for STARTING POINT. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

BERMAN: And I'm John Berman.

Tomorrow we have former Maine Senator Olympia Snowe and chair of the Democratic Governors Association, Peter Shumlin from Vermont. You will want to join us please.

BALDWIN: Please. We'll be back. In the meantime, "CNN NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello begins right now.