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Texas Fugitives Surrender: Last Two in Custody; Local TV Reporter Who Interviewed Suspects Discusses IncidentAired January 24, 2001 - 7:40 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LINDA STOUFFER, CNN ANCHOR: We return to our top story, a developing story overnight, the peaceful surrender of the final two Texas fugitives. It all happened after police in Colorado Springs arranged for the two men to do an interview with a local TV reporter there.
Now our Frank Buckley is on the scene in Colorado Springs. Frank is actually with the journalist who did the interview.
FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Linda. We are with Eric Singer, the anchor from the local television station here, KKTV. Eric is the anchor who actually conducted that interview.
And, Eric, what we're going to do is throw to a piece of sound of your interview. Then we'll talk to you about that in a moment. Here is a portion of the interview with Donald Newbury.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD NEWBURY, PRISONER: Our judicial system in the state of Texas has really gone to the pits. We're receiving 99 years for a robbery for $68. Nobody was injury -- injured. There's no proof that a gun was used in the robbery, other than an unreliable witness that just picked out several IDs and everything and before was -- created a statement through information, of my priors and everything else, that apparently the prosecutor had given to him, which is strictly against the law as well.
We have a Texas ranger. He admitted, in trial, that the evidence was tainted; yet I received 99 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUCKLEY: And that was Donald Newbury speaking with Eric Singer of KKTV.
Eric, first of all, tell us how you became involved in this last night.
ERIC SINGER, KKTV ANCHORMAN: Well, basically, what happened was, about 10:35, right after the newscast, we listened to the scanners as we always do, you know, as the morning crew's about to come in. And, basically, what happened was we put two and two together as we heard all the scanner traffic. We rushed out there. We were doing live shots. And then about 11:30, we got a call from the Colorado Springs Police Department. Skip Arms, who you just talked to a few moments ago, gave us a call and said he'd like me to come down there and play a small role in negotiations.
BUCKLEY: And your reaction to that?
SINGER: Well, I think, just like in any situation -- especially in a big story -- at first it's great, but the second question is: Why me? I'm not a trained negotiator. I mean, you have negotiators there but they said they wanted me. Both men, Newbury and Murphy, both had been watching our coverage from the start.
BUCKLEY: When you got there, tell us the scene. Set the scene for us in the command post where the negotiations were underway.
SINGER: Well, the command post basically had -- when you walked in the door, obviously, there was a -- believe it or not there was a media frenzy outside here at the Holiday Inn. When you walk into the command post, there's probably about 20 men inside. Then there's also outside, where they're listening on, you know, basically on the phone, listening to what the two men are talking, they are doing the negotiations. Then outside, there's also a group of officers who are listening to the same negotiations going on, taking notes, possibly, you know, trading notes between the two. So, we got -- we were privy to about two hours of information.
BUCKLEY: Tell us -- we've talked to your news director a bit about what you heard, but give us your views and thoughts. What did you hear? What was the tenor of the negotiation?
SINGER: Well, the tenor of the negotiation was -- at first let me say that the negotiators are enormously professional. They steered everything and everyone in the right direction. In other words, basically, when they're talking to two men, Newbury and Murphy, there was no hot buttons pushed. They weren't trying to somehow, well, this is what you should do and this is why you shouldn't do it. This wasn't a forced kind of confrontational incident.
This is more of a let's talk about it. What exactly do you want? And that's how they got, after several hours of enormously professional brokering, they did broker that deal.
BUCKLEY: There is no training for this sort of thing when you go to journalism school, or when you're a reporter or an anchor. Tell us how you knew what to say and what guided you, as you conducted this interview?
SINGER: Well, first, basically, what happened was we had -- I had spoken with and news director was there too -- we had spoken with negotiators. We were talking about what hot buttons not to push. I came up with a list of questions that they listened to. They felt that it wasn't going to be able to push any hot buttons. I felt it wouldn't. And then what happened was I -- the list, basically, it was just going to be two questions a piece. Well, I don't know if you were listening to the first interview, basically, I had to keep a rapid fire because the deal was, you have five minutes a piece to be able to talk, and I wasn't going to in any way take that time from them to somehow, you know, make the situation even worse.
So I had to -- I continued to come up with different questions that would steer them in a general direction so they wouldn't relive any violent situations, they wouldn't relive what they had remembered that could perhaps set the whole tone of the negotiations in a negative way.
BUCKLEY: They're asking me to wrap it up so I'll ask you this quickly. But do you in any way feel that you were used inappropriately to the extent that these fugitives were able to get their message out on live television?
SINGER: Well, I don't believe so, and I say it just quickly. One, our job -- it's a big story -- our job is to cover the story as reporters. Two, we did nothing but save lives, and that's what our job is to do.
BUCKLEY: OK, Eric Singer, thank you very much and KKTV. That is the latest from the person who was actually involved in speaking to the two fugitives.
Frank Buckley, CNN, reporting live from Colorado Springs.
LIN: Thank you, Frank.
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