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Oscar Pistorius Grilled on Cross-Examination; Signal Detected in Flight 370 Search; Stabbing Spree Shatters Quiet Community

Aired April 10, 2014 - 06:30   ET



Right now, Oscar Pistorius is facing blistering cross-examination at his murder trial in South Africa. The prosecutor grilling the Olympic sprinter on his relationship with girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, the woman he says he shot accidentally.

Let's get the latest from CNN's Robyn Curnow joining us now from Pretoria.

It has been unbelievable to watch, Robyn. What's the very latest?

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi. I've been in court the last three hours, throughout this morning's session of the cross-examination. I can say that Oscar Pistorius has not once looked at the state prosecutor as he has been probing. All of his answers are directed to the judge, of course, who is the only one that matters.

And state prosecutor is essentially talking to Oscar Pistorius' left ear but he's carrying on regardless, dogged, aggressive, probing. Take a listen to this report.


OSCAR PISTORIUS, OLYMPIC RUNNER: I never got the opportunity to tell Reeva that I loved her.

CURNOW (voice-over): A fierce second day of cross-examination leaves Oscar Pistorius upset.

PISTORIUS: I'm terribly sorry that I took the life of their daughter, my lady.

CURNOW: Prosecution on the attack.

GERRIE NEL, PROSECUTOR: Life is just about you, what's important to Oscar.

CURNOW: Doggedly pressing the Olympian on why he apologized to Reeva Steenkamp's family on the stand.

NEL: If you were wanting to do it, why would you create a spectacle in court in the public domain, in the public eye, apologize and not in private?

PISTORIUS: I would love to have the opportunity one day to meet Reeva's parents. I never got the opportunity before.

CURNOW: The prosecution reading allowed text message disputes. Pistorius says some of her messages were untrue.

PISTORIUS: She exaggerated on some of the things that she said.

CURNOW: The Olympian questioned about high Steenkamp wrote, "I'm scared of you sometimes and how you snap at me."

NEL: Why would she be scared of you?

PISTORIUS: I think she's scared of the feelings that she has for me and the way that I rushed her off.

CURNOW: The prosecution also rehashing an incident where one of the Olympian's friends passed a gun to him underneath a restaurant table. When Pistorius says it accidentally went off in his hands.

NEL: You fired that gun. There is no other way that bullet could have been discharged without you pulling the trigger. You are lying.

PISTORIUS: I didn't pull the trigger on the firearm.

CURNOW: A month before he shot and killed Steenkamp.

NEL: That gun cannot fire if you don't pull the trigger.

CURNOW: On Wednesday, the prosecution presented video of the athlete shooting watermelons. Saying, as they explode, "it's a lot softer than brains."

NEL: You know that same happened to Reeva's head, it exploded.

CURNOW: Comparing the melon to Steenkamp's head wound. The prosecutor pressuring Pistorius to look at a graphic photo.

PISTORIUS: I've taken responsibility but I will not look at a picture where I'm tormented by what I saw and felt that night. As I picked Reeva up my fingers touched her head, I remember. I don't have to look at a picture. I was there.

CURNOW: Pistorius says shooting Reeva was a tragic mistake.

PISTORIUS: I shot because I was, at that point, with that split moment, I believed somebody was coming out to attack me.

CURNOW: The Olympian battling with the prosecutor who is determined to prove it was murder.

PISTORIUS: My mistake was that I took Reeva's life, my lady.

NEL: You killed her, you shot and killed her. Won't you take responsibility for that? PISTORIUS: I did, my lady.

NEL: Say it then. Say yes. I killed -- I shot and killed Reeva Steenkamp.

PISTORIUS: I did, my lady.


CURNOW: OK. Unlike previous days, Oscar Pistorius has been quite emotionless, I think, in court today. Quite calm, quite collected. Perhaps a little bit more confident. This despite the fact that Gerrie Nel, the prosecutor said to him a number of times you haven't taken responsibility and you're a liar.

Chris, back to you.

CHRIS CUOMO: It's also been a lot less detailed in some of his answers which is to be expected on cross-examination. This dynamic will well determine his guilt or innocence in this case. We're going to follow very closely.

Robyn, thank you very much. We'll be back to you for sure.

Other news as well you need to hear about this morning. So, let's get you to John Berman, in for Michaela.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much, Chris.

We have breaking news this morning in the search for Malaysia Flight 370. Australian officials say that now sonar buoys picked up possible underwater signals in this narrowed down search area. Now, the signals still have to be analyzed to determine if it is from the black boxes. This would be the first ping heard since Tuesday and really the first using this technology, not from the towed pinger locator -- 14 planes, 13 ships out searching today.

Now to suburban Pittsburgh where a high school sophomore, 16-year-old Alex Hribal is now charged as an adult for allegedly stabbing or slashing 21 people. Four of them are in critical condition this morning. Investigators have seized Hribal's phone and computer, as well as his parents' computers.

Breaking overnight, General Motors is reportedly asking NASA to help in this investigation into the recall of millions of cars for faulty ignition switches. "The Detroit News" says the head of NASA's engineering and safety center will lead an independent review to determine whether the cars are safe to drive. NASA and General Motors have not yet responded to CNN's request for comments on this story -- guys?

BOLDUAN: All right, thanks so much, John.

Let's take another break. Coming up next on NEW DAY, a quiet town, and bloody stabbing rampage. What drove the young suspect to allegedly slash his way through a high school? We'll have more on this.

CUOMO: Also, a new signal heard in the Indian Ocean. Surface sonar buoys hearing something possibly from the missing plane. But the inevitable underwater search is still a huge task. We're going to hear from a former FAA inspector about what the crews are facing.


BOLDUAN: We are following breaking news we are following breaking news in the flight -- in the search for Flight 370. Australian plane picked up a possible signal from sonar buoys in the water. That data, they say, needs to go through more analysis. So, we'll have more from you as we get new information.

But let's discuss this and much, much more on how they are not only -- what they're going to do with this. David Soucie is here, of course -- but what they're going to do also with going forward with the pings.

Let's start with the latest information, David, in this sonar buoy. This, I believe, is the first time we have detected a signal from the sonar buoys. Talk me through what they do, how they put them in the water and how they use these.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Sonobuoy is put into the water by dropping it out of the back of the airplane. They can deploy as many as 80 or so out of one aircraft. The reason I think they were getting the pings out of them because they centralized the location. They've been dropping sonobuoys all along.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

SOUCIE: But this time they put them in what is already identified as an area of where it's likely to be. So now they're dropping them. They will go 1,000 feet below the surface of the water, that get you below the thermal layers so you can actually hear things.

BOLDUAN: I tell you, when you initially hear that it only gets you 1,000 feet below, it does offer a little bit of skepticism because you have the towed pinger locator going to a maximum depth of 20,000 feet to listen. Why is this effective?

SOUCIE: Well, because what it's going to identify is the farthest reach of the ping.


Now, again, that's below the thermal layer because the ping sound is going up to the thermal layer and bouncing back down which we'll talk about later here. As that sonobuoy -- as the pinger is creating this, the sonobuoy just has to far enough down to reach below that thermal layer. So, it's not going to give you a real accurate location like it's right underneath me or over here, because it's not sensing the strength of the signal. It's just saying there's a signal here.

BOLDUAN: And what do they do with this going forward? I was reading that overnight they had put in some 84 of these in just this one kind of -- in this one location. What are they going to take from this information? How does it help in the effort to narrow the search field?

SOUCIE: Well, what it's going to do mostly, the information is going to say here is where the Ocean Shield needs to go and get down to depth and see what's going on down below and start to narrow in on what it is that's going on where that pinger might be.

BOLDUAN: So, I'd like to if we can to change to the next animation and move through. I'm going to have to figure this out because they put up a different one that I'm used to.

SOUCIE: This is the arc.

BOLDUAN: So, this is when we move into the concept of triangulation.

SOUCIE: Correct.

BOLDUAN: It's confusing, obviously.

SOUCIE: Right.

BOLDUAN: Here are the four pings that have been detected.

SOUCIE: This is the actual path of the Ocean Shield and where it went, making the turns, going up this way and coming back down. You can see they're attempting to make a grid along this arc. You saw the arc before.


SOUCIE: That was in here before. Now you can see that you're starting to pick up these pings. You have a two-hour ping and few others. Some of these are outside, way far away.

BOLDUAN: This seems scattered to the uninitiated eye. But there is a method to this?

SOUCIE: Absolutely, there is. You can see they're starting to come together here. Partly the reason the way it is, is because when you're dragging the pinger you have to pull it back up again to make this turn. You've got as four or five miles of cable hanging behind you so you can't just make the turn and expect it to go because the sonobuoy or detector would drop to the bottom.

BOLDUAN: And how -- now, let me see -- I think this is going to help us and also showing the path and how they narrow this down.

SOUCIE: Right.

BOLDUAN: Explain.

This is the climbing the ladder or the mowing the lawn.

SOUCIE: Exactly. Mowing the lawn. BOLDUAN: This is what we're seeing.

SOUCIE: This is a really good mowing of the lawn. This is more like a golf course.

BOLDUAN: Yes, cleaned up.

SOUCIE: You're going to go both directions. What you're trying to do here as you make these passes is you're going to pick up these pingers, ping receptions, and as you can pick them up you're going to listen to how many decibels there are, how many sound there is with them.

And on this -- these, as you can see here, these aren't the actual points --

BOLDUAN: So, they're the kind of -- these are maybe the weaker ones?

SOUCIE: Right.

BOLDUAN: What you're trying to do is then narrow it down to these stronger signals?

SOUCIE: Yes. If these are the three stronger signals -- let's say, for example, this is the two-hour signal which is really the only one of true validity right now. They're skirting the outside ones, kind of narrowing in their search this way. They haven't even looked up here in the north yet. They're starting that today.

So, this gives you that. If you look at these three strong signals, three of them, triangulate, so, that's where you start your search.

BOLDUAN: So, that's where they think.

So, why do they need more? You've got three strong -- let's say we have four strong signals. Why do you want more?

SOUCIE: Well, actually, what we have now is only one really strong signal.

BOLDUAN: Got you.

SOUCIE: That was the two-hour one. These others, one could be skirting the outer limits of what that pinger can radiate out.


SOUCIE: So you've got the pings coming out. Now the others out here could be one of two things, either they are inside here and the battery is getting week, but we kind of know that's not the case. It's been going for a day. Lithium batteries don't slowly degrade over days. They will degrade and then they'll stop.

BOLDUAN: And they potentially detected something just overnight.

SOUCIE: Exactly. The sonobuoys are out here and getting weaker signals. But that could be from a number of things. One is it can be refracted. These signals can be bouncing off of that thermal layer that Dave Gallo talked about earlier. It's really degraded signal. It starts at 160 db. By time you're out here they're only being received at maybe 30 to 40db.

BOLDUAN: It really does get degraded.


BOLDUAN: So then what is -- let's see right here. Let's talk about -- I want to just get your take because it's interesting talking about the depth and the silt factor.

SOUCIE: Right.

BOLDUAN: How does this play into all of this? We're working on the triangulation. They want more pings.


BOLDUAN: Talk to me about how the depth then when we are looking at going beneath the surface with the Bluefin and the silt that we've discussed. How is this going to play into the search in the next stage?

SOUCIE: In this next stage there's a couple of things in play here. One is the silt has two different affects. It's positive in one way in that you've got a more flat debris field. You're not looking at rocks. Silt is the debris covering it. As debris falls on to that silt the heavier smaller items may fall down into the silt.

On several other accidents that we've investigated the engines in the silt, same silt base, has sat right on top of that silt and not even fallen into it because of currents and other reasons that it just doesn't go down inside. The small things like the pinger boxes and black boxes, they may be down inside there. The two ways to search once you're down there is visually by using cameras or by sonar. Sonar is fantastic for this because it can see down into the silt.

BOLDUAN: Visually is where you would have a problem. Sonar, what the Bluefin offers, would not be a problem.

SOUCIE: Right. It would identify any hard objects and which ones are manmade objects versus rocks at that level. You will start at a pretty high level, which gives you a wider swath of sonar. Then once you say, there's something interesting here then you can come back at a lower level and get a much more detailed, because here you're only at about 400 megahertz signals, which are not giving you a really detailed picture.

BOLDUAN: Let's just hope we can move into this stage of the investigation of the search very, very soon.


BOLDUAN: David, great job. You can take the magic wall home with you. Thank you so much -- Chris.

CUOMO: Own that wall.

BOLDUAN: I'm saying. Better than me.

CUOMO: We're going -- no, never.

We're going to have much more on the plane in just a few minutes. Our expert panel will be here to talk about the latest and break it down for you.

But next, an attack at this school. Terrifying, not just for the people there, but also for those who loved him and had loved ones inside. We're going to talk to a student who saw the violence and a relative of one of the victims. Stay with us.


CUOMO: All right, let's get to the latest in that high school knife attack that shocked this quiet suburb of Pittsburgh. Twenty students and a security guard were slashed or stabbed. Four of them are still in critical condition. The 16-year-old suspect has been charged as an adult and is still missing from this story, of course, is why he did it and how we can fix the system that surrounded him or didn't.

Let's get some more perspective though from Murrysville, Pennsylvania. We have Dan Stevens with the Westmoreland County Department of Public Safety, Murrysville Police Chief Tom Seefeld, and Gennaro Piraino, the superintendent of Franklin Regional Schools. Gentlemen, thank you for joining us this morning.

We know there is difficult work ahead of you, but we want to be there with you for it because we all see these situations as -- it's about what we learn now and it's about how we change going forward and about what we saw and how we made it through.

Let's talk about it. Starting with you, Chief, what do we know about the victims this morning who are still in the hospital and their condition?

CHIEF TOM SEEFELD, MURRYSVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT: We received word that this morning around 1:00 a.m. that one of these victims that was in critical condition has been taken back into surgery.

CUOMO: So at least one of them is still very much in harm's way and people have to remember that as we go through. The others, though, to your knowledge has been discharged or they're being seen as stable or in fair condition?

SEEFELD: Yes. I don't know, Chris, at this time how many have been discharged, if they are in stable condition, that's correct.

CUOMO: What's your understanding about what was going on inside of this school, how much intentionality there was by this kid with these two knives? What was the behavior? SEEFELD: We believe through the investigation that this was random. We don't have anybody that was targeted, as far as we know at this point. The suspect went up the hall with two knives, slashing motions to a lot of students, and one of the security guards.

CUOMO: So he was trying to do as much damage as possible. There was nothing random about this. There was intention behind it. That's our understanding as well. Superintendent, the understanding of how this was stopped, it's always the case in these horrible mass -- these kind of situations that somebody has to step up and do something that's extraordinary. What happened here?

GENNARO PIRAINO, SUPERINTENDENT, FRANKLIN REGIONAL SCHOOLS: What happened here was hour school resource officer, Assistant Principal Sam King intervened in the situation. Sam King tackled the actor, at which point as he was being tackled, Joe Melon was able to get the weapons away from the student and the officer was able to cuff and search the actor. So all three of them intervened in a way that was courageous and the way that I would hope that any educator would respond to such a horrific education.

CUOMO: It takes such guts when you see the damage being done. Were any of them hurt when they were subduing this guy?

PIRAINO: I'm going to let the chief respond to that.

SEEFELD: Assistant Principal Sam King was not cut or injured in that manner. He did receive medical treatment for chest pains. He's fine, by the way.

CUOMO: Mr. Stevens, now we have to think about how we treat the kids going forward. Do you have counseling and therapy in place? What's the plan? You're dealing with vulnerable emotions and minds here.

DAN STEVENS, WESTMORELAND COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: Well, the school district has set a plan in motion. The first and foremost thing that the school district is concerned with is to bring back some normalcy to schools. So the elementaries and middle schools have been reopened as of this morning. Normal schedule will occur this morning for the elementaries and middle schools. The high school remains closed during the restoration process and we're hoping to have the high school reopened on Monday.

Counselors are available for all students, both in the high school, middle, and elementary schools to make sure that if a child, a parent, a faculty member needs any type of assistance we want to make sure that we are provide that for them. But you know, we go back to all the plan that we've done in the past, working really closely with the Franklin Regional School District to make sure that we're planning for these type of things because our nation has changed over the years and we want to make sure that we do the right things for all those that are in our care and custody during the school day.

And we work from the Department of Public Safety very closely with Franklin Regional and all the other school districts in Westmoreland County to provide whatever training is necessary and assistance in their planning. And ironically, not less -- over the past year we've had at least two in-school trainings, both the table top and a functional exercise to make sure that the school's plan is in order and ready to move. But in any situation like this, you can plan and have the best plans in place, you can never be prepared for what might happen.

CUOMO: Chief, what's the best guess on why this happened? The word from his lawyer is nobody saw it coming, it was just a random event, we don't know. We both know that's almost never the case, that there's no indication that something like this is going to happen and it just happens. Do you have any information yet on motive here?

SEEFELD: We don't. Chris, we had received word that there was possibly a phoned threat the night before. We don't have any concrete evidence to that effect yet, but we are investigating that. And any other reason that we may find that led to this.

CUOMO: You getting help from the FBI, but you guys can handle your business now. You're going to know the community around this kid and obviously, is it safe to say the key is going to be the digital footprint here, who he was online, where he was, what he was influenced by?

SEEFELD: We hope. You know, the electronic devices were seized by the FBI. They will be analyzed to see what evidence, if any, exists on that was related to this incident.

CUOMO: Superintendent, ending with you. You know, this is like a scene out of the "Following" what this school had to live with here. It's a hot show now. Who knows if this kid was watching this gory violence with these knives, what is your message to the community? There is fear that we've changed as Mr. Stevens was just saying, that people are more violent, more bad things happen. What is the message to calm the nerves coming out of something like this?

PIRAINO: Well, I can talk about is the Franklin Regional School community. I've been here for approximately a year and yesterday was horrific. Single incident with the single actor was absolutely horrible. But what I've seen since I've come to Franklin Regional is a community that really is centered around their kids, around the best interest of their kids, a community that cares deeply about their greatest asset, what they consider to be their greatest asset, which is their children.

And with their kids, I see kids that are caring, compassionate, bright, articulate, and the caring nature, the concern about their fellow man was evident yesterday in the way that our students responded to protect one another, the way our students responded to take care of one another, the way their teachers responded, as well. Our teachers care about our kids, and our kids in return care about our teachers and one another. I think that was evident yesterday in a time of crisis, it showed through.