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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Trail of Bones Discovered Near Caylee Anthony Home
Aired December 15, 2008 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Bombshells tonight. Police find a trail of bones in the very area where last week they found a child`s skull, said to match little Caylee Anthony`s age and hair. Despite the growing evidence, Caylee`s grandparents still refuse to give up hope, waiting for positive identification that could take two weeks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a roller coaster. They`re devastated.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Meantime, shocking questions as to why the grandparents were asked to give their fingerprints, and a tense confrontation between reporters and family members over a memorial to little Caylee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do not follow us down to our property.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ll by taking your calls as the search for answers continues.
Plus, stunning new developments in the case of 25-year-old Laura Garza as hundreds of volunteers comb the wood. Police find new clues on a discarded carpet that could link Laura to a known sex offender. We`ll have all the details, including an in-depth profile of Michael Mele, the last man seen with Laura.
These ISSUES and more, tonight.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Gruesome and shocking developments tonight in the Caylee Anthony case. A trail of bones discovered in a wooded area near Caylee Anthony`s home. That`s the very area where a child`s skull was found last Thursday.
The medical examiner, teams of investigators meticulously sifting through the dirt. With more than 200 bones in the human body, it could be days before forensic investigators are finished.
Meanwhile, emotions and tempers flare at makeshift memorials in Caylee Anthony`s neighborhood. Caylee`s uncle, Lee Anthony, actually got into a confrontation with reporters over one memorial.
Also, her grandparents, George and Cindy Anthony, have returned home, and they are begging for privacy.
But another stunner. There is growing speculation over why George and Cindy Anthony have been asked to give fingerprints to authorities. Their new attorney, Brad Conway, insists they have not done anything to hinder the investigation into the murder case against their daughter, Casey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRAD CONWAY, ATTORNEY FOR ANTHONYS: No, they are not persons of interest. The exclusionary prints were given as exclusionary evidence. Nobody wants to make a mistake. The best way to avoid a mistake is to offer the evidence that`s going to lead to the responsible person.
So they are not the subject of a prosecution. They haven`t obstructed any investigation. They haven`t destroyed any evidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And so the tragic nature of this case intensifies tonight. I want to hear your thoughts. Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1- 877-586-7297 with your questions or comments tonight.
We have an expert panel. Zack Stein, a reporter for News Talk AM 580 in Orlando, Florida. He is at the scene where the remains were found. Drew Findling, criminal defense attorney; Brian Russell, forensic psychologist; Jayne Weintraub, criminal defense attorney; and Ashleigh Banfield, the anchor of "In Session."
Zack, you are right there. Paint a picture of what went on today, both at the scene where the remains were found and nearby at the Anthony home.
Zack, can you hear me? All right. Well, we`re having a little trouble getting Zack, but I can tell you a little bit about what did go on.
You can see the investigators right there. Teams of them, some from the FBI, some local authorities, went to the scene. They cordoned off a huge area, and they were sifting through, looking for bones. Now, we`re talking about children`s bones, Ashleigh Banfield, and that means that they`re smaller bones than adult bones. So this is almost like an archaeological dig. It`s absolutely fascinating. It`s meticulous work.
Apparently, Ashleigh, they had an anthropologist, a botanist and an entomologist there, as well. Give us some insight into what they are doing and why.
ASHLEY BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Well, I`m not the least bit surprised that they`re treating it more like an archaeological dig. It`s been at least -- well, at the most, I suppose, six months, because that`s the last time little Caylee was seen alive.
But here is the deal. When a body has been underwater or in -- in an area that can be affected by just the elements alone -- and let`s not even go towards the animal issue -- there is a good possibility that that body doesn`t stay intact, regardless of the reported garbage bag that the skull was found in.
So they want to make sure that they go as far as they can to make sure they find everything, every minute piece of evidence and detail. And not just the actual bones, Jane. They`ve got to find any hair, any fibers, any telltale signs.
And, you know, the entomologist is fascinating, because of course, with -- if anyone doesn`t know what an entomologist is, it`s the study of bugs, entomology. Oftentimes, they`ll come into court to talk about what bugs can actually do to change the nature of a corpse or any evidence that`s found on scene. It`s all very macabre, but it`s all very important.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we`re going to get more into the search at the scene. But Zack Stein, what I`d like to ask you is about the grandparents being fingerprinted. The attorney for the grandparents today said they were handing their fingerprints in, but exclusionary fingerprints. Explain that and all the talk about them possibly being investigated for possible obstruction of justice.
ZACK STEIN, REPORTER, NEWS TALK AM 580: Well, Jane, I have to be honest with you. I`ve been out here at the scene all day. I was not at the home. I was not privy to that information. It`s been released to me.
Mostly what I`ve been doing out here is talking to people in the neighborhood. Captain Angela Nieves from the Orange County Sheriff`s Office did speak to the media and said they have found items at this crime scene. They do, obviously, hold interest with what they have from the home, but they cannot really release to the media. It`s really all been, you know, sources and hearsay, as far as what all that means.
Officially, the sheriff`s office, the investigators are not talking about anything other than there is a reason to keep staying there. It looked like they were going to break this down at one point.
And then they put the mask back up and they put the generator back over there, and they kept working. They said they`re going to be here a few more days. And Captain Nieves said the crime scene will dictate how long they are here. It`s not up to the investigators. As long as they keep on uncovering evidence, they will stay here until it`s all -- it`s everything that they need.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Zack, have you heard anything about the published reports indicating that an unknown covering was also found, along with the duct tape and the plastic bag? And that that unknown covering might be extremely significant to the case?
STEIN: Again, those are yes -- those are all coming from sources. Those are all the rumors. Again, the hearsay, that`s what people are talking about. The media amongst themselves, the reporters. But what`s coming from the sheriff`s office. They have to be very careful, very...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The sheriff doesn`t ever say anything. I mean, they say the absolute bare minimum. But a lot of information does come out, nevertheless, and I`m trying to get some insight into some of these other reports that have come out.
And so let me go to Brian Russell, forensic psychologist and attorney.
When you hear that they may have found an unknown covering along with the duct tape and the garbage bag, what does that tell you? And how could that be significant in terms of, let`s say that unknown covering is a bedspread that`s been photographed in the Anthony home. And I`m not saying that that`s the case, but hypothetically, what would that indicate?
BRIAN RUSSELL, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Well, Jane, just as importantly as looking at what the authorities are saying, I think it`s always as important to look at what they`re not saying.
For example, on Friday, some were saying, "Well, we aren`t sure yet that these remains are Caylee." But all throughout the case prior to Friday, we were getting lots of cautionary tales from the authorities not to go with certain -- you know, every time the bounty hunter found something in the forest or whatever, don`t run with that. Don`t run with that. We weren`t getting any of that on Friday, which is what tells me this is Caylee.
Now, if there is some kind of a wrapping or something that can be tied to the house, then clearly, that is highly incriminating. It shows that at one time, unfortunately, the deceased body was located at the house and transported from the house. We just don`t know yet.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let`s talk to Drew Findling about this fingerprint issue. We heard from the attorney from the grandparents they have handed in their fingerprints as exclusionary fingerprints. But we don`t have the details. When did they hand them in? Et cetera, et cetera.
I would think the timing would be very crucial, because if they were asked to hand them in in the last couple of days, after the body, after the duct tape, after the plastic bag was found, wouldn`t that indicate maybe that they`re -- they found fingerprints and are trying to exclude people from the evidence that they found?
DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely. Listen, we -- one thing is clear, that that plastic covering, duct tape, it`s a treasure trove of forensic evidence, particularly fingerprints and DNA.
And they already have Casey`s fingerprints. And now the question is, anybody else that would have contact with Caylee, let`s get their prints so we can distinguish the prints and particularly where they`d be located. Clearly, duct tape would not be good to have your fingerprints there. So they want to go ahead and exclude people to make specific allegations.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And the reports that we`ve heard is that the grandparents have been excluded as suspects. And certainly, nobody ever really had any serious thoughts that they were involved in, anything untoward toward their grandchild. It was more along the lines of could they have, in their zeal to protect their daughter, which is totally understandable, perhaps crossed a line?
Jayne Weintraub, as a criminal defense attorney, explain to us when you cross the line and when obstruction becomes obstruction.
JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, obstruction of justice could be as little as not telling them the truth when law enforcement officers were asking them questions. Or it could be as far as giving her a shovel or helping dispose of the body or any -- any of the above. I mean, those are all accomplice crimes, and they are all conspiratorial crimes. Obstruction of justice would be just that: obstructing the investigation in any way or steering it intentionally in a deliberate, wrong way.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Ashleigh, I have to ask you. If it turns out that they threw something out of their house -- because it`s their house, and they all throw stuff out -- that might have been connected to the investigation, how can you use them of getting rid of evidence when they didn`t know what would be evidence and what wouldn`t be?
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Well, I think the best example of that, Jane, would be the pants that were found in the car. Cindy Anthony washed them. Who knows why she washed them? She might have washed them because she thought they got the car back and the clothes were dirty, not that there was a missing child and there could be a murder.
Here is the other really difficult part. Everybody has been talking about the treasure trove of information that might be contained on duct tape and in that bag.
But the sad part is, if the information -- DNA, hair, fibers -- comes from the Anthony family, well, there`s a really good reason. Because she lived with the Anthony family.
BANFIELD: Transfer evidence might be just that. Transfer evidence.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what? Ashleigh, you raised a great point. How can we really tell what`s evidence and what`s just stuff from the house because they all lived there.
Hang tight, panel. Lots of ground for us to cover on these shocking new developments in the Caylee Anthony case.
And a programming note. Even more details to follow at 8 p.m. Eastern when Nancy Grace will weigh in on today`s stunning progress.
And don`t forget: I want to hear from you. Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297 and tell me what you think of all of this new evidence. And how will it affect the case? But first, take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we`ve -- this is Orange County utility emergency dispatch. We`ve found a human skull.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know. We`ve got -- is it a meter reader?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m letting you speak right now with a representative from our field services facilities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything is recorded. Here he is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you doing? A skull from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that we believe is human.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s the location?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s right off of Suburban and Chickasaw, in the Caylee Anthony area, right by the...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh. Do you have a specific address for me or not?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it`s right by the school. If you have (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: East side of Chickasaw. And what is your party`s name that we`re going to meet with? He`s not touching this, I hope.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he`s?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a meter reader.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meter reader?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, and I`ll just tell him to stay at that location and just stay away from everything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. And if you can try and instruct (ph) to him to please not draw attention to the area.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONWAY: They`re grandparents. This may be the body of their child. If it`s not the body of their grandchild, their granddaughter is still missing. It`s a roller coaster. They`re devastated.
Why would anyone do a polygraph test? A polygraph examination is not admissible in the state of Florida or any other state in our country. A polygraph, the reliability of a polygraph examination depends on the experience of the polygraph examiner, and even then, it`s at best an educated guess.
I would not subject my clients to a polygraph examination, because I don`t believe on the reliability of it. It measures the physical response to a question, and if -- if it`s an upsetting question, there`s going to be a physical response. And we`re just not going to go into hocus pocus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, hocus pocus. All right. That was Anthony family attorney Brad Conway, describing the hell Caylee`s grandparents have been through and why they won`t take a polygraph.
Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297. And tell us if you think George and Cindy Anthony are being treated fairly.
Meantime, police have now uncovered a trail of bones near where a child`s skull was found, a short distance from the Anthony home.
I`m joined again by my fantastic panel. Let`s go right to the phones.
Sheryl in Missouri, your question or thought, ma`am?
CASEY: Hi. You know, the country wants to grieve with the Anthonys. They brought us all in. And -- and when the information came out about the remains, I cried as a mother. And why now will they not let us grieve with them? Like the memorial that was set up outside their home?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Excellent question. Jayne Weintraub, there is a makeshift memorials. They`re popping up in the neighborhood. But Lee, the brother of Casey, took one down and there was actually -- I think we can probably track up this video. There was a confrontation between Lee and reporters. People are upset that the family is taking down the memorials that they`re putting up.
WEINTRAUB: See, I take it just the opposite way, Jane. My view was that these poor people, the Anthonys, have already been through so much, with strangers and reporters trespassing on their property and literally harassing them, throwing things at them. They`ve threatened to have people arrested. I think these people want to grieve in private. They know that this is their granddaughter, and I think that they`re trying to...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: They`re acting like they don`t know.
Zack Stein, they are apparently still in denial perhaps or actually just waiting until the actual positive I.D. comes back. We`ve been waiting so long. When are we going to get the positive I.D.? I`ve heard everything from two days to two weeks.
STEIN: Well, they said 7 to 14 days and that it was being rushed. And that`s why everybody is going crazy. And to talk about the memorial, the more official one is right here at Suburban and Hope Spring Drive. That`s where a lot of people, the true mourners, are coming. And they don`t need to be on the Anthony property. They don`t need to have that attention. They can do it right here, and that`s what`s working for them.
But meanwhile, everything is on pins and needles. It could be this Thursday. It could be Friday. It could go into Christmas week, which would really be an upsetting holiday for the entire region, if not the country.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re absolutely right about there. Let`s hope we get closure before Christmas.
Edith, New Jersey, your thought or question, ma`am?
ANTHONY: Yes, ma`am. My -- my thoughts are they did obstruct justice. Cindy did. When she was asked for Caylee`s hair brush, she deliberately gave them one that was used by Caylee and Casey.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, OK. I understand your point, but Brian Russell, we don`t know whether that was deliberate. That could have been a mistake. I couldn`t tell you what hair is on any brush that would be in a family home that might have several relatives.
RUSSELL: Yes. You know, I`m treading lightly on the Anthonys tonight. They`ve annoyed me throughout this whole thing at various times. But look, in the last few days, they found their daughter is looking more and more guilty of murder. Their granddaughter is looking more and more likely to be deceased, and so, you know, you can`t really -- I`m treading lightly on them tonight.
I agree with you. It`s tough to know what was intentional, what wasn`t intentional. And keep in mind, Cindy Anthony is the person who made the initial phone call to report the child missing.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but...
RUSSELL: And at that time she had suspicions that she wasn`t getting the full story from -- from Casey.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but Ashleigh Banfield, initially, she called 91 and said, "It smells like there`s been a damn dead body in the damn car." And then she retracted that and said, oh, it was pizza decaying.
BANFIELD: You know, it`s -- it`s extraordinarily difficult to be a family of a defendant and a family of a victim. A lot of times these people are caught in the middle.
And I`ll take you back to the Elizabeth Smart case in Salt Lake City. The Smarts were desperate for any media attention they could get. They courted every media personality as well as they could to try to get the word out that their -- their child was missing.
When that attention turned negative, as has happened in Florida -- there`s been a lot of protesting out on the lawn of the Anthonys -- things changed, and it got more difficult for them. The fingers were pointed at them as the guilty parties. This is a terrible, terrible situation...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, it is.
BANFIELD: ... for any family member to find themselves in.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s awful, and we have so much on that. We`re going to talk a lot about the nanny, Zenaida Gonzalez, in a second.
Stay right there. Back with more in-depth analysis of this tragedy. What are your theories? Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAYLEE ANTHONY, MISSING GIRL, BELIEVED DEAD: (singing)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is so heartbreaking, a home video of Caylee Anthony taken just a month before she disappeared.
Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297 to talk to our panel about this tragic case. I am joined once again by my panel of experts. Let`s get right to some more calls.
I believe we still have June from Pennsylvania hanging in there -- June.
CALLER: Hi, Jane. Congratulations on your show.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.
CALLER: Two quick questions. Has the family been in contact with Casey at all? And also how is Casey reacting in jail to the news of the remains being found?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, excellent question. I can tell you that the attorney today, Drew Findling, said that they want to go visit Casey. But they are afraid to go visit Casey, because every time they do, it shows up -- the videotape of them talking on the jailhouse phone shows up on a national TV show the next day. This is what the attorney said. Do you buy it?
FINDLING: That would make sense, and I`ll tell you that it`s interesting you referenced the jailhouse tape recordings. Because we`re talking a little bit about the parents.
But if you look at those -- those tapes, they`re condemning of Casey, because, you know, I counted in the three-minute segment of them, she said the word "I" 30 times, but only uttered her daughter`s name two times.
But yet, you see a -- frustrated parents. You see George and Cindy probing and pushing and trying to extract information from a somewhat avoiding the subject daughter. And I think that, in the long run, is really what just excludes them from having anything to do with this case. There will be no obstruction. There will be no hindering. It`s something fun to talk about.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You can`t say for sure. You can`t say for sure. It doesn`t look like it. And we have compassion for them. I mean, that`s -- that`s the bottom line. I mean, they have been through such hell.
Tanya in Florida, your thought or comment? Tanya?
CALLER: I was calling in to find out the brother, he was gone for a couple of months, and we haven`t heard very much out of him. But basically, the actions from the daughter in the jail, she doesn`t seem to have any feelings at all towards -- towards the child. And the parents, how can they back something up like that?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think this is really interesting, Jayne Weintraub. We don`t want to -- we don`t want to attack them. They`ve been through hell. But they`ve done a lot of strange things. I mean, the fact that they won`t take a polygraph. The fact that they insist that this babysitter still exists. A babysitter that the police have said does not exist, period, end of story.
WEINTRAUB: You know, the burden isn`t on the defendant. Let`s get this and remind people that the burden of proof is on the state. It`s on the prosecutor. They`re supposed to have the evidence that they want to charge first. This is not supposed to be, you know, a digging expedition here to try and make charges stick. They should already have their ducks in a row.
There`s an indictment charging her with first-degree murder, felony murder, and you all are talking about the death penalty. The bottom line is, you still -- even if this is Caylee, you need to -- you need to tie her and the cause of death to the defendant.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, the country waits for answers in the heartbreaking case of Caylee Anthony.
Here`s what we know. A child`s skull was found near the home of Caylee`s grandparents. Over the weekend, investigators found what they call a trail of bones in the area. Little Caylee`s grandparents are now said to be preparing for the worst.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are worn down. They are tired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tensions reaching a boiling point as lawyers on both sides await DNA test results.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do not follow me onto our property.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We want to know your thoughts. Give us a call at 1- 877-JVM-SAYS; that`s 1-877-586-7297. We`re taking your calls in a moment.
But first, back to Zach Stine, reporter for News Talk AM58 in Orlando, Florida. He is right at the spot where the trail of bones has been discovered. What is the very latest with this investigation? Where does it stand?
ZACH STINE, REPORTER: Right now, we`re waiting, like everybody is waiting to exhale; we`re waiting for the evidence to come back. If you want to glean what`s happening, the Anthony`s home was searched last week, then it was searched again over the weekend.
As they find stuff, they keep getting enough for a search warrant to go back into the home. As Captain Nieves said earlier, the crime scene is dictating what happens next. They`ll keep gathering what they can from the scene. They thought they would be wrapped up about by now, thought they would be wrapped up last week. It keeps going on.
Stuff is coming from there. If you want to glean from Casey Anthony`s reaction, she had a panic attack the night they found the bones and needed to be sedated. So when you add all these things up --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whoa. Say that again. That`s a big piece of information there. Say that again.
STINE: That is a big piece I wanted to share that with you. The night that the stuff was found, Casey Anthony had a panic attack in her cell and needed a sedative. And why? She didn`t cry, she didn`t break down. She had a panic attack. Why do people have panic attacks: because they get caught.
I don`t know. That`s what you can glean from it. The Anthony`s home keeps getting searched. They come home, then they got to leave again. Then they`re sweeping for bugs. Why are they sweeping for bugs? They are worried that their home is being bugged.
We are still here at the crime scene, they can`t seem to get out of here. Those maps (ph) went down, they went right back up again today. We`re just waiting to exhale. We`re just waiting for answers, but I think we all know where this is going to go, but we got to wait.
We just have to do the right thing and just wait for the absolute -- to be confirmed that this is indeed Caylee`s remains.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Zach, of all the things that you`ve told me and than I`ve heard, the fact that -- if in fact Casey had a panic attack when she heard that they found the bones in that location, that says to me more than anything else that those are the bones of little Caylee.
STINE: That speaks volumes. It speaks volumes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, it sure does. Zach, I want to thank you so much for being a part of our team. Great information.
I want to bring in the rest of my panel. Drew Findling, criminal defense attorney. Bryon Russell, forensic psychologist. Jayne Weintraub, criminal defense attorney. Ashleigh Banfield, anchor of "In Session".
And so many calls lighting up. Jessica in Georgia, thank you for your patience. Your questions or thought, ma`am.
JESSICA FROM GEORGIA: Yes, I was wondering how long it may take the authorities to find out if the bones at the Anthony`s residence are human or animal and if Caylee may have been decapitated, since her skull was found a half mile away.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Those are very interesting questions.
Jayne Weintraub, as they look for these bones and literally do it like an archaeological dig, sifting through the dirt, I`m wondering, how are they going to distinguish between, let`s say, animal bites and just the effects of nature from being underwater and in the wild for that many months since this happened?
JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: They have already identified that, Jane. They have already come out clearly and said that it is human bones, a female of the approximate age that Caylee was. I mean, remember, before we had DNA, we did have forensic identification; whether it be by dental records, by the skull, by the bones. Those things are done routinely.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Jayne --
WEINTRAUB: The other question the caller asked about the decapitation, I`m sure also, they`re going to be answered already by the medical examiner`s office, and we just don`t know. We haven`t been told yet.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But, Jayne and I`ll take this to Ashley, my question isn`t so much about identification. How are they going to distinguish in terms of determining manner of death and cause of death whether an animal picked up this bone and carried it away and chewed on it, versus let`s say a mark from an instrument that was used to commit a crime?
ASHLEY BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": And that`s a very, very good question and not always an easy answer. Sometimes an easy answer, if there`s a tool mark that`s very specific, that might show up on a skull. That might show up if the head was severed with a particular tool, doesn`t always. If the head is severed because an animal had attacked the corpse in some way, you can`t necessarily tell that they did have. As you mentioned at the top of the show, the entomologist on the scene because bugs can do a lot to a crime scene and to a corpse, and so they`ll want to try to assess as much as they can. But it`s not a perfect science.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ghoulish, ghoulish stuff.
Meagan Tennessee, your thought or question, ma`am.
MEAGAN FROM TENNESSEE: I was wondering if they thought about the possibility of two sets of prints because when you rip the tape, the person who used it before is going to have their prints on both sides of the tape.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Very interesting. And let`s go to Bryon Russell, forensic psychologist who is also an attorney. I have to ask you a follow- up question on that. The bounty hunter, Padilla, who has been very involved theorizing about this case, theorizes that -- and this is hypothetical -- let`s face it, she hasn`t been convicted of anything, that there was an accidental death and Casey put the tape over her mouth to make it look like it was a kidnapping. What are your thoughts on that hypothesis?
BRYON RUSSELL, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: I think that`s possible and that`s part of the reason, Jane, we need exclusionary fingerprints from the parents. We have been talking all throughout the show tonight about different ways of grieving. And it`s been strange to one of our callers that the Anthonys wouldn`t want people doing memorials on their property and we`ve talked about Casey Anthony`s emotional response in jail.
Was it a panic attack because, oh, no, the evidence has now been uncovered or was it a legitimate emotional reaction to that fact that now her daughter has been found for sure deceased. So I think we have to -- we have to consider those alternate possibilities and I think -- I`d be interested to know from Jayne Weintraub how likely do you think it is there in Florida that the prosecutor, given the evidence that we`re aware of now would allow Casey Anthony to plead guilty to reckless homicide and a cover up of the body. And if so, how much better would that be for her than what she`s facing now with the first-degree premeditated murder charge looming over her?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jayne, you want to take that one?
WEINTRAUB: Count one is felony murder first degree and I`m sure they`re going to re-evaluate whether or not to bring the death penalty. However, would they take a plea? I doubt it. Although she`s charged in count three with manslaughter of her child, an accidental or negligent death. We just don`t know given the media coverage --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is that like a lesser included? In other words, when the jury takes the case, they can decide, well, we`re going to go with -- we think it`s not premeditated, so we`re going to go with one of these?
WEINTRAUB: Excellent question. The answer -- and I looked at that as well this afternoon. The answer is normally with a first degree premeditated murder instruction, yes it would be lesser included. However, Jane, this is not charged as a premeditated first degree murder case. It`s charged as a felony murder as part of an aggravated child abuse they have to prove first. And therefore, it may not be considered a lesser included. So I think in the interest of just being all inclusive, the state threw it in like the kitchen sink.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Listen to the grandparents` lawyer talk about the mystery babysitter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you still believe that Zenaida Gonzalez had something to do with this?
BRAD CONWAY, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE & CINDY ANTHONY: Yes. But not the Zenaida Gonzalez that Mr. Morgan represents. And Casey Anthony has made it clear from the beginning that the individual that Mr. Morgan represents is not the Zenaida Gonzalez that she is referring to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Drew Findling, how can the parents still believe in Zenaida Gonzalez? At a certain point we have to stop believing in certain fairy tales.
DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I`m with you on that. I think it is really time to move away from that. And again I`m going to go back to the interview with law enforcement from the very beginning, that same day that this all began for Casey. And it was so evident at the time that she was just making that up. That it was just a lie. It was mixing a whole baggage of fabrication, and I hate to second guess and grade counsel, but we really as defense lawyers, even representing witnesses, have to be really careful about adopting something that is just starting to look like, well, at this point it`s a total fabrication.
BANFIELD: I got to be honest with you. This whole idea that the stories are fabricated, it`s been difficult to trace leads. We don`t know if some of the evidence that`s discovered on the scene is going to be evidence from the Anthony home.
I want to give all of my deference to Jayne Weintraub. But I think there`s a possibility that a deal could be offered to Casey Anthony. They didn`t go with the death penalty because they didn`t have any aggravating factors; maybe the body will provide some, maybe not. But without a good amount of evidence, a deal is a great thing for prosecutors to offer. So I wouldn`t discount that right away.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you`re saying Ashleigh that maybe they will go up to her and say we could put the death penalty back on the table. You better tell us exactly what happened. This is your last chance. If you do, maybe we`ll take it back off the table where it is right now.
BANFIELD: You know, there`s that opportunity, but there`s also, you know, start talking to save your life. Or the prosecutors are thinking, what am I going to do with a whole bunch of evidence of Casey Anthony on the body of her daughter? They lived together. There`s going to be evidence of Casey Anthony anywhere her daughter`s possible remains might be found. It`s very hard to tie that.
Yes, some forensics might be able to see that maybe there`s only one set of prints on the duct tape. But barring that, it`s very hard to suggest that just because there is DNA or there`s fibers or hair or fingerprints of a mom on her daughter`s body that the mom did it. They live together.
WEINTRAUB: Why should she plead to the count if they are not going to be able to prove that?
BANFIELD: Well, they don`t tell her that, and maybe her lawyer isn`t going to be smart enough to figure that out.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Drew, you were going to say something?
FINDLING: Yes. We are focusing on all this time to determine the identity of the body. Most of us on this panel, all of us, we`ve all done this before. This is what we do for a living.
We know that this is Caylee Anthony. Let`s get that out of way. Here is why we`re going to take 7 to 14 days. Number one, law enforcement did the right thing, they brought the FBI in. It`s not one of the cases where we don`t want let the big boys come in.
We`re waiting to find if there is forensic evidence as to the manner of death. That`s what this is about. Because this is an indicted case, and depending on what is determined regarding how this little girl was killed, will determine whether or not this goes back to becoming a death penalty case, which is huge, because that can mean the dismantling of the defense team.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Drew, leave it right there for one second. We`re going to be back with our panel in just a moment.
And a reminder, more details of the case at 8:00 p.m. Eastern when Nancy Grace will weigh in on today`s stunning developments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH ESQUIVEL, LAURA GARZA`S MOTHER (through translator): She is a wonderful person. My heart is broken. I love her so much. I want her back alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: How sad. The anxious family of beautiful Texas native Laura Garza waits in agony. That, as more than 150 firefighters and police search for the missing 25-year-old aspiring dancer.
Meantime, we`ve learned investigators have found stunning new evidence. Authorities now say they found several significant items about a quarter of a mile from the sandwich shop, co-owned by the convicted sex offender last seen with Garza, Michael Mele. Police reportedly also have found a piece of carpet that had been bleached -- always a bad sign. They believe that carpet matches the carpet inside Mele`s home. Mele, currently in jail on a probation violation. He has a history of forcibly touching and masturbating on women.
The beautiful Texas native was last season after leaving a New York City nightclub on December 3rd with Mele. So will this new evidence be what it takes to find Laura Garza and keep this guy locked up for good?
Joining me now Jayne Weintraub, criminal defense attorney and Janet Finici (ph), family law attorney. Also joining me my phone, Adam Bosch, a reporter at the "Times Herald Record". Adam, thanks for joining us. What is the very latest in terms of this new evidence and where it was found?
ADAM BOSCH, TIMES HERALD RECORD: Well, the very latest is that a piece of carpet was found near the village of Bloomingburg which is a small village in the county of Sullivan about 75 miles north of New York. And that piece of carpet was found off of highway route 17, and sources close to the investigation have told our reporters that the carpet is a match to the carpet that was missing from Mele`s apartment. And that it was bleached and obviously that is a significant because court papers showed that Mele was frantically bleaching his apartment in the days after he was caught on tape leaving a Manhattan nightclub with Laura Garza and obviously, he was the last person seen with her.
He was also seen with her later that night or I should say later that morning in Newberg which is about 15 miles away. They were kissing and laughing at a local McDonald`s. The discovery of this carpet is significant.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, let`s not forget that there are reports that he had bite marks and scratch marks and apparently according to a published report, Adam -- and I`ll get to the panel in a second, but this is really important. Apparently there are reports that he yelled at an employee at the sandwich shop when the police came there and she told the police where he lived, he was furious and yelled at her, also not a good sign.
BOSCH: Yes, and I can`t speak to the yelling, but I can speak to the bite marks and the scratches on his neck. That was actually revealed in court papers and these court papers were required to be filed when law enforcement wanted to photograph Mele nude. They had to file certain court papers and reveal a lot of evidence in order to get something from the judge that would allow them to take those photos. And in those court papers it did say he had bite marks on fingers and scratches on his neck. So we can read into that however we want.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Adam, hang in there because I want to ask you a couple more questions. But first I want to bring in our expert panel of lawyers: Jayne Weintraub, criminal defense attorney and Janet Finici.
Jayne, when we heard the word bleach, it`s always a very bad sign. Why?
WEINTRAUB: Because people think commonly that that would eliminate the sign of blood, but it doesn`t and luminol and today`s technology, there are many ingredients that can get past the bleach. The question with the carpet, just like with the Anthony case, is not whether or not he did it -- not whether or not it was there, but whether or not there are any traces of bodily fluids, any blood trace of her body on the carpet that came from his house.
In other words, you need to be tying the murder to him, so you accuse, and that`s what we don`t have. We have a tragic situation of a young girl leaving a bar with a pedophile. It`s horrible. But that doesn`t mean that she died there or with him. You need evidence of that.
Her body is missing. When they find it, they`ll be looking under her nails, they`ll be looking for her teeth marks, they`ll have a forensic dentist that will check whether or not those bite marks will match up with any one of these women who were complainers.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Janet Finici, this guy pleaded guilty to several incidents involving fondling women, going up to them in malls and literally masturbating on them. How is it possible that this guy got probation and then repeatedly violated probation according to published reports and still wasn`t put in jail?
JANET FINICI, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: There are two questions there. One has to do with whether or not he should have gone to jail with what he did to this younger nursing student outside the mall. He didn`t rape her and he didn`t do a more serious crime, even though he apparently had the opportunity. So the sentence was set for purposes of meeting what the crime was at that time.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I personally think that if you masturbate on somebody you should go to jail for a long time.
You`ve got to listen to this woman. She described her interaction. It`s horrifying. Listen to this. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADRIANA MCLEAN, ATTACKED BY MICHAEL MELE: I think he saw me, and he was like that`s it. Like, I choose her. And yes, he was like a predator. He ran after me. He didn`t try to do it subtly at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Janet Finici?
FINICI: Well, don`t you think that -- what you also have to realize is that when he was sentenced, they took into account that what he did wasn`t one the more heightened sexual offences, such as rape. I understand that she is going to be traumatized forever. But the sentencing is about this person. It`s about the individual.
The problem comes from the system because they had him in the system, and they lost track of him. He missed three of his sessions. He was a sex offender who was registered, who was violating probation, and they didn`t do anything about it. That`s one of the problems with this case is it`s going to show some of the problems of the system.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, the probation system and the parole system -- messed up.
FINICI: Massive problems there.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Shocking developments in the Garza disappearance in just a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVAN GARZA, LARA GARZA`S BROTHER (through translator): We need her here with us. I never thought something like this could happen to her. People should pray for her, even if they don`t know her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look at that beautiful girl and that devastated family. Back discussing the latest developments in the case of missing 25- year-old Laura Garza. Joined by my panel, let`s go straight to Adam Bosch, who`s a reporter of the "Time Herald Record."
Let`s talk about the timeline, Adam, because we have to find out how much of an opportunity he had to allegedly -- if, in fact, he is responsible which we don`t know yet, he is just a person of interest -- kill her and dispose of her body.
They leave the nightclub at 4:00 in the morning, December 3 already, which was a Wednesday. And two days later on December 5th in the evening that cops begin searching his apartment. What was he doing during that interim?
BOSCH: Well, it`s hard to say. I`m actually not really sure about that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ll tell you a couple of things. He was seen with another girl the next day, Thursday --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- in his apartment. An inspector came by and saw him with another girl. And he also ordered furniture, apparently.
BOSCH: Right. That`s news that came out today. The town of (inaudible) building inspector was doing a routine building inspection of all of the apartments in Mele`s complex, which is a very upscale complex. And he happened to see Mele with another girl the day after, while he was doing the inspection of Mele`s apartment. And also neighbors reported that he did get a shipment of new furniture on Friday, which was the day when investigators began looking into him, that obviously became more intense on Saturday.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jayne Weintraub, he was a level-one sex offender, but correct me if I am wrong, they don`t show up when you go to a sex offender registry. Why not?
WEINTRAUB: That`s part of the breakdown of the system. That`s just the most honest answer I can give you, Jane. I mean, in Florida in particular, we have a problem with following and supervising sexual predators. And the problem really is -- I think in manpower.
So I think that we really need to deal with the cultural issues of what we can do to help these people be rehabilitated, rather than just warehousing them and then letting them out.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And we have about ten seconds. Janet, is the system broken?
FINICI: The system is horribly broken. We knew this guy was supposed to report to three different sessions, and he didn`t go there. So they were trying to treat this guy, and they were trying to stay on top of his deviance, but it was escalating, nonetheless. And now we are looking for Laura.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We have to leave it right there. Jayne, Janet, thanks so much. And Adam, too.
We`re going to have more on the search for Laura Garza tomorrow, as well as continuing developments in the Caylee Anthony case.
Thank you so much for joining me. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell. Come back tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. Eastern for more real "ISSUES."