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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Casey`s Lawyer Tries to Block Suicide Note; D.A. Not Going for Death Penalty against Casey Anthony; Survivor Says Players Removed Life Vests
Aired March 4, 2009 - 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): Tonight, shocking news in the Caylee Anthony murder case. Casey Anthony`s lawyer will finally see the secret video of her prison meltdown. Meantime, the attorney for Cindy and George wants a gag order on George`s suicide note. Could its contents influence his daughter`s murder trial?
And 70 miles away, frustration mounts in the search for Haleigh Cummings. Mom Crystal and her family set up camp near the search site, but anger builds as a local landowner tells the tormented family, "Get off my land."
CRYSTAL SHEFFIELD, MOTHER OF HALEIGH CUMMINGS: I just want to be close. I was really upset.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And it`s triple torment in Florida. A dramatic search in the very same region. Sadly called off. Two NFL players and their friend presumed dead in the Gulf of Mexico. Anguished family and friends refuse to give up hope and band together for a private search effort.
Plus, outrage boils over in the case of super scammer Bernie Madoff. Victims furious as they learn Madoff`s hearing was canceled today amid rumors of plea deals in the works. And did his wife play a part in the scam? Suspicion mounts over claims that some of the loot is hers.
Then, the Suleman circus continues. Think you`ve seen a lot of Octomom? Think again. A video of her giving birth to the octuplets is reportedly being shopped around for seven figures and -- big surprise -- it was filmed with the Octomom`s consent. I thought she didn`t want publicity.
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Shocking developments tonight in the Caylee Anthony murder case. A feisty Casey Anthony fights back from inside her jail cell, trying to turn the tables in the defamation suit filed against her by the now infamous Zenaida Gonzalez. Zanny`s lawyers hit Casey with 29 questions, including "Were you involved in the death of Caylee?" I will tell you about Casey`s bizarre answer and why some are wondering if she even wrote it herself.
And new information on the judge`s ruling earlier this week that embarrassing photos of Casey partying can go public. When we will actually get to see more of these potentially damaging images? I will tell you.
Also, Anthony family attorney Brad Conway wants the state to block the release of George Anthony`s suicide note written back in January. Conway says the note could be embarrassing for the family. Could it also say something incriminating?
And new controversy over why the state is not seeking the death penalty against 22-year-old Casey. Today also in Florida, same state, a 22-year-old man was sentenced to death for a brutal murder. Is there a double standard?
I will be taking your calls on all of this. But first, to my panel: Paul Callan, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; plus, Steve Kardian, former criminal investigator; and Susan Bartell, psychologist; as well as Courtney Pilchman, former district attorney and criminal defense attorney; and Cindy Adams, a contributor at TheExaminer.com.
Cindy, what is the very latest?
CINDY ADAMS, CONTRIBUTOR, THEEXAMINER: Well, like you said, Jane, Brad Conway filed a motion. And he`s trying to block the release of George Anthony`s suicide note. He`s claiming it`s irrelevant, that it has nothing to do with the murder case, that it contains information that`s embarrassing to the family, very personal information. So he does not want that released.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s get right into that issue. George`s attempted suicide -- apparent attempted suicide is what we have to call it -- took place on January 28. Two days earlier, hundreds of pages of evidence were released, including the fact that Caylee`s skull was found wrapped in a hamper bag and then a garbage bag with duct tape over the child`s mouth and a little heart on top of that.
A childhood friend of Casey`s said when she read that, she got chills, claiming they used to bury their pets in the very same location, also double wrapped and with heart stickers on them.
My question to Steve Kardian, since you`re a criminal investigator, is it possible that George also made this connection, since he`s Casey`s dad and makes some kind of incriminating reference in that suicide note?
STEVE KARDIAN, FORMER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: It`s possible that he had, Jane. And, you know, if he didn`t, I think they should leave the man alone. But if there is something in there incriminating, then law enforcement should take that and run with it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I agree. I don`t particularly want to read his apparent suicide note. The man has been through hell. And I think we all kind of want to respect his privacy.
The irony with these things -- Susan Bartell, you`re the psychologist -- by trying to keep them quiet, we end up focusing more on them. And this has happened over and over and over again in this case. The same thing happened with the embarrassing photos of Casey Anthony.
SUSAN BARTELL, PSYCHOLOGIST: Absolutely. The other thing about the note, is that it`s possible he made some reference to his daughter`s mental state when talking about his own mental state. But I don`t think that we can ignore that suicide note until we know what`s in it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. Absolutely.
Now, here`s another huge issue that has been really focused on all this week. We reported this week that the prosecutors say they are not going to put the death penalty back on the table in their case against Casey.
Now, this has angered a lot of people, including HLN`s Nancy Grace. Listen to what Nancy had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY GRACE, CNN HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: In 2007, the state of Florida sent more people to Death Row than any other state in this country. But yet they don`t have room for the tot mom? Is it because it`s a little girl and children don`t count as much? Or is it because the tot mom looks pretty darn good in a mini-dress and a push-up bra?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Paul Callan, isn`t Nancy right? I mean, isn`t this sort of the "too pretty for prison" syndrome? I`m sure you all remember the case of Debra LaFave, that beautiful teacher who had sex with a young student. Her attorney actually said to place her in a Florida state women`s prison, to place an attractive young woman in that kind of hellhole, is like putting a piece of raw meat in with the lions.
Isn`t that the same kind of mentality, Paul, that we`re dealing with here? If you`re going to have a death penalty, shouldn`t you apply it whether you`re male, female, young, old, pretty or ugly?
PAUL CALLAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, Jane, I think Nancy does have a good point here. There`s gender discrimination that takes place in every state in the United States with respect to the death penalty. You almost never see it applied to a woman. You see it applied to men in every state that has it, of course.
And, you know, the second thing is you never see it applied in a situation where a mother is accused of killing her children. For some reason, prosecutors are very afraid to seek the penalty, because I think they`re afraid the jurors won`t apply it and that they`ll look bad in the end.
I think it`s clear-cut gender discrimination. If women want to be treated equally, then they`ve got to face the same penalties that men face.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this is a touchy subject, but I think it really deserves examining.
Courtney Pilchman, is it also just -- is it just gender discrimination or could it have a racial component, as well?
Let`s take a look at this case today. A 22-year-old man sentenced to death. They`re both 22. Casey and this man, both living in the same state. Now this guy, Cornelius Baker, 22 years old, convicted of killing a 56-year-old woman. She -- she was shot, and he dumped her body in the woods after a home invasion, holding her family at gunpoint, forced her to withdraw money, and again, shot her and then dumped her body. Convicted, sentenced to death.
Is this any different, Courtney, from what Casey Anthony is accused of? A child -- if, in fact, she`s guilty -- we don`t know -- but a child who`s wrapped and dumped in the woods with duct tape over her mouth?
COURTNEY PILCHMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I see your point, Jane. And I think what`s going on is that this is not a very easy or what we call slam-dunk case for the prosecution.
And I think what they`re a little bit concerned of is the -- the Anthony family sitting in court. Casey is going to be really conservatively dressed probably. She`s going to look like everybody`s next-door neighbor or friend of their daughter`s or boyfriend`s or whatever. And it`s going to be tough for jurors to maybe want to send her to the death chair.
And, you know, it`s tough. And they`re going to know that in jury selection, whether or not the death penalty case or not.
And I think they`re taking a conservative approach. They want a conviction, first and foremost. And then, you know, she`ll spend the rest of her life in prison, which you know, the community will be safe, and she`ll have received the proper punishment.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but Susan Bartell, I think the bottom line issue, the bigger issue is, is justice blind? And apparently, it`s not. We`re going to get to this in numerous cases. We`re going to be talking about Bernie Madoff in a little while. And a lot of people feel justice is not blind in that case either.
But -- but impressions count. And who people are and what they look like, it all ends up filtering into how they are punished.
BARTELL: Absolutely. And I think in this case, there is a very compelling psychological component. They are afraid that the jury would not find her guilty if they know in advance that she could, you know, get the death penalty so that they are really hedging their bets and saying, "You know what? We`re going to give her a life sentence," and hoping then that the jury will instead of, you know, sort of not -- making sure that they give her the sentence that she deserves, finding her guilty, rather than in advance saying that they`re going to give her the death penalty. They`re really hedging their bets, and it really is very much that justice is not being served in this case.
CALLAN: You know, Jane, it`s really prosecutorial cowardice...
BARTELL: Definitely. Absolutely.
CALLAN: ... not to seek the death penalty.
CALLAN: This is a brutal murder case like this one. And just because she makes a nice appearance and she looks like, you know, a wonderful woman as she sits at the defense counsel table, flip it around. If it were a male dressed in a nice suit who looked respectable and he brutally murdered a child, all the more reason that prosecutors would seek the death penalty.
This is gender discrimination. This is a throw-back to the attitude that we have to treat women differently than men, and it`s downright wrong.
All right. And just a caveat. The prosecution has said that they reserve the right to change their minds at any time up until the trial starts. So maybe they will. Who knows?
All right, everyone. We`re just getting started on these developments in the Caylee Anthony case. Do you think the judge will release Casey`s prison meltdown video? Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297. And let me know.
Meantime, 70 miles from the Caylee case, frustration escalating in the search for little Haleigh Cummings. I`ll tell you why Haleigh`s family might have to find a new place to stay during their anguish.
But first, as the focus moves to Casey Anthony`s murder trial, her family increasingly under the microscope. Here`s her brother supporting her during his deposition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it your impression that night that she was making it up or did you believe that to be true?
LEE ANTHONY, CASEY`S BROTHER: To this day, I believe everything that my sister tells me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How`s Cindy holding up?
BRAD CONWAY, ANTHONY FAMILY ATTORNEY: I think I`ve said this a lot of times: as well as can be expected. But she`s good. George is safe. And se`s with us. And so it`s all good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What -- we`re hearing things that he may have been leaving behind notes that he may have been threatening to harm himself.
CONWAY: George has been through a lot. The entire Anthony family has been through a lot. And George is OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Anthony family attorney Brad Conway responding to questions about a suicide note written by Casey`s father, George. Now Conway wants the judge to keep that note from the public, because it could be embarrassing for the family.
We are back, taking your calls on this and all of the other latest developments in the Casey case.
Let`s go straight to the phones. Jean, Ohio, your question or thought, ma`am?
CALLER: Hi, Jane. Who needs a nanny when you don`t have a job? You know? That`s what I don`t understand. And if she did -- if someone did say that she was getting paid for these nightclub show-ups or whatever, why can`t the police trace the money? She had to have gotten paid in order to pay a nanny, which there never was a nanny to begin with. Do you know if the police have checked into that? Thanks a lot.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Thanks for those questions. Cindy Adams, I`ll let you take a hit at those.
ADAMS: Yes. I believe the police have probably checked into all of that. And they know the lies she`s told. And I`m sure they`ve checked into all of that. They know that there was no nanny. So I don`t think there was anything to trace.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Exactly. It`s all a fiction, according to prosecutors.
Marlene, Washington state, question or thought?
CALLER: Yes. Jane, I love your show.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, thank you.
CALLER: I`m just very upset. I think she needs to be in population, No. 1. And No. 2, could you explain what right that that attorney has putting his arms around her with an umbrella. That is not appropriate. He has gotten by with this several times. I`ve seen him put his hands on her. There`s no lawyer that should be doing that. Thank you, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, thank you so much for those questions. Why don`t we throw it out to the male attorney on our panel -- Paul.
CALLAN: Well, I`m not defending it, but I will say a lot of times lawyers try to create a simpatico with their client. In other words, they want prospective jurors to see, "Hey, I like the client. I believe in the client." So if the juror likes the lawyer, they`ll like the client. And that`s what he`s doing. He`s trying to say, "I wouldn`t be putting my arm around a murderer." So whether it`s a good idea or a bad idea, you know, I don`t know. I can understand the caller`s being upset with it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sure. Now we have so many issues. It`s just a slew of issues to cover tonight. In her Zenaida Gonzalez deposition, Casey got a whole bunch of questions she was supposed to answer in writing, including this one: "Were you involved in the death of Caylee?"
Now, Casey responded, quote, "The defendant would object to the question and would move to strike it. This question is being brought solely to embarrass, harass, and brought in an attempt to implicate the defendant in an ongoing criminal prosecution for first-degree murder." Obviously, Courtney, she didn`t write this herself.
PILCHMAN: Absolutely not.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Are attorneys allowed to just say, "I`m going to answer a deposition for my client?"
PILCHMAN: I wouldn`t say that they`re allowed, per se, because it is supposed to be the deposition of Casey Anthony, but clearly, she`s been in shock. But the language is even written by a third party. It`s not written by Casey Anthony. But they`re just trying to protect her. And they certainly could object to the question. And maybe that`s what they`re trying to do, is just object to the question. It doesn`t have a place in a civil suit.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, just to follow up, couldn`t Zenaida`s attorney come back and say, "Wait a second, Casey. You didn`t even answer this question. You have to answer it."
PILCHMAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. The questions are propounded to Casey, not an attorney. So sure, they could go forward and maybe ask for sanctions. But likely, nothing is going to happen with it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Dana in Washington, your question or thought, ma`am?
CALLER: Hello, Jane. I love your show. You`re doing a great job.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, ma`am.
CALLER: My question is the prosecutors put the death penalty on the table prior to finding this baby`s body. Now they found it, they have all of this evidence. Why are they not putting it back on the table, because if there`s never been a death penalty, that one is one. Thank you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Excellent. And of course, as we know, Casey Anthony was arrested before the body was found. She was sitting behind bars when her child`s body was found. And, Paul Callan, maybe you can take that. Because, again, the caveat is that the prosecution apparently is saying, "We can decide to put it back on the table anytime we want."
CALLAN: Yes, they are -- they are reserving their right to put it back on the table. And I would say maybe the reason they didn`t seek it initially was because there was at least some thought that maybe this was an accidental death. In other words, maybe she -- the child was being drugged with chloroform and was accidentally overdosed, and it really wouldn`t be the kind of case appropriate for the death penalty.
That may have been what they thought early on. They may think something very different now. And who knows? Maybe they`ll reassess as the case goes on.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to talk about these photos, because everybody`s wondering, OK, the Photobucket photos. There`s thousands of them, apparently, some of them very embarrassing to Casey Anthony. And of course, her attorney, Jose Baez, lost his attempt to block them from the public. And so we were all sitting around wondering, well, when are more of them going to be released?
Now Steve Kardian, we actually called the state attorney`s office in Florida and spoke with an official who told us there is no release date, per se. They are busy processing a lot of information for discovery. They`re moving through it, and those disks with those images on them are just among the items.
And when it comes out, it`s going to come out. So how soon would you think, given how much discovery we`ve already seen, when will we see these photos, do you think?
KARDIAN: I don`t they`re in any rush to release them now. I think that they would be more prudent to wait until the actual...
KARDIAN: ... trial as it comes up. That`s when they`re going to be of most value to the prosecution.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. But let me ask you this question, Courtney. You can`t just hold discovery until it`s convenient for you. There`s a process and very liberal discovery laws in Florida.
PILCHMAN: This is a great question for you, because you were in L.A. You were covering the biggest trials. O.J., you know, for one. When have you ever seen a case where the prosecution is giving out information to the public? It`s unheard of. And I have no idea why they`re doing this. Because they`re only setting themselves up for an appeal. So you know, they should keep the evidence. I don`t know when it`s going to be released.
It`s amazing to me, you know, as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney that they`ve ever even wanted to release any of these photos.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to go. I want to thank my fantastic panel. Come back soon.
Moving now to another tragic story in the very same region of Florida. Two NFL players and their friend presumed dead in the Gulf of Mexico. Family, friends organizing a private search effort. Are they putting themselves at risk?
And I`ll play the shocking 911 calls made by Nadya Suleman, Octomom. This is a story just breaking. You will not believe what she has to say on those 911 calls. Shocking.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STUART SCHUYLER, FATHER OF NICK SCHUYLER: He`s been in the water roughly 40 hours. He said the last four or five hours, he was alone. He said they drifted apart. It was still dark. They couldn`t see each other. He just kept crying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was the lone survivor`s dad relaying what his rescued son, Nick Schuyler, had to say about his final moments with his three buddies at sea. But today, more questions about the fate of the three missing men and more stunning details from survivor Nick Schuyler.
According to "The St. Petersburg Times," Schuyler said both NFL players Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith took off their life jackets and let themselves be swept away, but Marquis` father, Bruce Cooper, had a different take.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE COOPER, MARQUIS`S FATHER: I guarantee you just as sure as you`re born -- I raised the kid, I lived with the kid -- that`s not his character. It`s not his personality. As I -- as I said (ph) yesterday, he has so much to live for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joining me now, Howard Altman, editor for the "Tampa Tribune" and contributor to WFLA.
Thanks for joining us. Certainly, Nick Schuyler has been through a traumatic experience. That`s the understatement of the year. But what`s the latest varying accounts? What`s the significance there?
HOWARD ALTMAN, EDITOR, "TAMPA TRIBUNE": Right now, they`re waiting for the boat to be taken back. It`s been a very eventful day here in the Tampa Bay area.
It started off around 6:30 a.m. Crews from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission went out to go find the boat that Nick was on and the others. About the same time, boaters began showing up at John`s Pass to help find Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith and Will Bleakley, the other three men that were on that boat.
Later on, the -- a doctor who was attending to Nick talked about what an amazing, you know, miraculous...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You said miraculous survivor. That`s absolutely for sure. It`s a miraculous survival. Being in the hour -- water more than 40 hours.
ALTMAN: He was only -- the doctor said he was only about five to ten hours left that he could have survived in that water. The Coast Guard crew of the Tornado, the cutter Tornado, you know, was searching for him and just happened on him. They saw him about 500 yards off their boat. They were, you know, amazed to see this sight.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. Let me ask you about this. Last night after the Coast Guard suspended their search, Marquis Cooper`s friend and NFL colleague, Terry "Tank" Johnson, spoke out. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERRY "TANK" JOHNSON, FRIEND OF MARQUIS COOPER: What we are conducting right now is a private ongoing search. And what we`re asking for is experienced aviation pilots who are interested in helping out -- us find the remains, if not Marquis floating on the water and Corey and the other gentleman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, these three men have been in the water for four days. And tragically, they are presumed dead at this point. Should a civilian search happen? I mean, couldn`t that put more lives at risk at this point?
ALTMAN: Well, the Coast Guard is certainly worried about inexperienced boaters being out there. It takes, you know, very special training, very special equipment to be out that far in the water and to conduct search and rescue or recovery.
But the boating community here is very tight-knit. The fishing community that these men were part of is very tight-knit. They care greatly about all of the people who go out in the water, and experienced boaters have organized to continue the search.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Yes. Got it. Howard, thank you so much.
Outrage in the Bernie Madoff scandal. Reports that his lawyers are working furiously for a plea deal have victims worried. That`s next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Desperation mounts in the search for Haleigh Cummings. Mom Crystal and her family set up camp near the search site, but a local landowner tells the tormented family to pack their bags, leaving Haleigh`s mom in tears. I`ll have the stunning details.
Then, think octo-mom is overexposed now? Think again. A video of Nadya Suleman giving birth to the octuplets is reportedly being shopped around. I`ll have the truly bizarre details.
Octo-mom developments in just moments. But first, the desperate search for Haleigh Cummings continues as tensions mount at the crime scene. Little Haleigh`s mother, Crystal Sheffield, has been told to clear out of the makeshift camp she has called home for nearly a month now. Crystal broke down in sobs when a property manager told her she had to leave. The news hit her like a punch to the stomach.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRYSTAL SHEFFIELD, HALEIGH`S MOTHER: I got really upset. I cried. Because I just want to be close. And yesterday I was just -- I was really upset yesterday. And I tried to hold it together, but it`s hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It sure is. I`m sure.
Meanwhile, investigators say their leads have totally dried up on the whereabouts of little Haleigh. How is that possible with the FBI, state, and local law enforcement all working furiously on this case?
As the family clings to hope, they are now asking psychics for help; psychics to find their precious daughter. Ron Cummings made another desperate plea this afternoon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD CUMMINGS, HALEIGH`S FATHER: Baby, I love you. I really love you with all of my heart. And my heart breaks every day that you`re not with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is just heart-breaking.
Joining me now, my expert panel: Char Margolis, a psychic intuitive and author of "Discover your Inner Wisdom" who has worked on previous investigations, hand in hand with law enforcement and Steve Kardian, former criminal investigators.
Char, before we get to the details of the investigation, you saw the mom`s reaction to being told to leave. Why is being close to the crime scene so emotionally important for family members who are now told they have to leave?
CHAR MARGOLIS, PSYCHIC INTUITIVE: When somebody is psychic and -- and working on a case, you want to feel the energy of the -- of the whereabouts of the person. And everybody has their own unique energy thumbprint.
So emotionally, the mother needs to be there because she wants to try and find her child. A psychic will go there to feel the energy, to see into the future of where that child may be.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So in other words, it`s sort of like a lesser version of what you experience? You say that you experienced intense energy but for family members and loved ones, there is a sense of energy when they`re close to the last place that she was seen before she disappeared?
MARGOLIS: Well, of course.
Imagine not knowing where your child is. Emotionally, this woman wants to be as close to her child as she can. In the last place that she knew her child was, was there. So she wants to grasp on to anything. She`s desperate.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, before we get to the whole psychic issue, I want to have Steve Kardian, you`re a criminal investigator. Weigh in here. The authorities are saying they have no idea. They`re no closer than day one.
Now, my suspicion, I could be totally off base here, is that that is not true. That they`re saying that as a strategy to see what happens because I can`t imagine that with cadaver dog hits, with all sorts of things that have happened that they have absolutely nothing.
STEVE KARDIAN, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: Yes, I agree 100 percent with you, Jane. And law enforcement, if they have a cooperative individual who is a person of interest or a suspect if you will, they want to continue a dialogue and actually befriend that individual for as long as they possibly can.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And I must point out that those cadaver dog hits, the authorities said, were false positives. Nevertheless, I would think that they would want to test some of the material found in that dumpster that the dogs hit on to see if maybe there`s some DNA or some other forensic evidence there.
Now, the cops are telling Haleigh`s family, as we`ve just talked about, they`ve run out of leads. Haleigh`s maternal grandmother, Marie Griffis, spoke to Nancy Grace about what a psychic has told them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIE GRIFFS, MATERNAL GRANDMOTHER OF HALEIGH: Yes. Some of the things that they have told Crystal, they`ve told her things about her past that they would have no way of knowing. So, you know, we kind of lean towards believing some of the things that -- that they`re trying to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, Char, how effective are psychics? And I know you`re a little biased because you`re a psychic, in this kinds of investigations. But I also know that I`ve actually watched shows where police -- these are reality shows, they`ve brought in psychics when they can`t find anything and they`re desperate themselves.
MARGOLIS: Well, I want to make it clear that I`m not working on this case.
MARGOLIS: To begin with.
MARGOLIS: Psychics can add things that other people may not be able to. And when a psychic works on something like this, it`s a team. You need to work with the family, the detectives, the FBI.
When I`ve worked on cases and some have been successful and some have not been, but the ones that are successful are the ones where everybody works as a team. There`s no like, you know, nobody is God. It`s teamwork.
Everybody respects everyone else`s abilities. And then you`re able to really come up with things because a psychic can see a vision of where this child can be.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let me ask Steve Kardian to have the last word here.
I know in the Casey case, there was a psychic who said she approached authorities and they didn`t take her seriously. What should the attitude of authorities be toward psychics who were trying to help out?
KARDIAN: It`s an investigative tool. And it`s a very good tool when it`s successful. And it`s kept relatively quiet, but the FBI and the U.S. military do use psychics on a regular basis.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`ll have to leave it right there.
Ok, we`re going to have leave it right there, I hope you guys -- you psychics out there are successful. They need help.
Steve and Char, thank you.
Now I want to turn to a story that continues to make my blood boil. Accused $50 billion Ponzi schemer, swindler Bernie Madoff`s return to court today was canceled; that amid growing speculation that a plea deal is in the works.
His thousands of victims, outraged at the thought of that. They want to see him face justice. Madoff`s attorney declined to confirm any plea negotiations saying quote, "We`ve never talked about that. That`s always been our position," end quote. Oh, really? Madoff is facing 20 years in the slammer.
Meantime, the wife of the alleged scammer says, hands off my assets. Ruth Madoff`s lawyers filed documents saying $62 million in cash and that fancy $7 million penthouse in Manhattan are hers and hers alone and should not be forfeited.
Ruth Madoff has never been charged in connection with her husband`s alleged crimes.
With me now, my fantastic panel: Paul Callan, criminal defense attorney, and former prosecutor and Joanna Chung, U.S. financial correspondent for "The Financial Times."
Paul, first of all, why is the government even considering a plea deal? The money is reportedly gone. We`re going to get to that in a second. He would get a reduced sentence. What do we get in return?
PAUL CALLAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Boy, it does make your blood boil, doesn`t it, Jane?
CALLAN: And this sweetheart deal has obviously been in the works since day one when they allowed him to remain out on bail in his swanky penthouse apartment.
So the Feds are doing a deal with him. The question is what is the deal going to be? Now, I`m betting when they first started negotiating, they figured what he had to trade was, where`s the money? How can I help the victims in this case?
That`s probably why they intended to do the right thing and to do a deal with him. But since there doesn`t seem to be any money forthcoming, I don`t see what the benefit is in doing a deal with him.
But he may be agreeing to plead to all of the charges against him. Under the federal rules, he gets a sentence reduction for cooperation if he pleads to everything he`s charged with. So that may be the deal ultimately that comes down.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well meantime, the Madoff`s claim Ruth, Bernie`s wife of nearly half a century, is the sole owner as we`ve mentioned of $62 million in assets plus that $7 million Manhattan Penthouse. The judge said quote, "They maintain that some of the assets are unrelated to the alleged Madoff fraud and only Ruth Madoff has a beneficial ownership interest in these assets."
Ok? That`s what they`re saying.
Published reports cite a lawyer for one group of victims as claiming that Ruth sometimes operated as Bernie`s bookkeeper for a number of years. And she reportedly withdrew an additional $15 million from her husband`s firm just days before he was arrested.
So my question to you, Joanna, how does she possibly own these assets?
JOANNA CHUNG, FINANCIAL TIMES: Well, let`s just remember something. First of all, Ruth Madoff has not been charged with anything so far in any of the cases.
However, she is increasingly becoming a figure for discussion because there`s a huge tussle for assets out there. The trustee, who is trying to get as much money as possible back for the investigators, is going to go after everything.
I mean, it is his duty to look at every possible avenue for recovery, and that includes, as he has said recently, looking at all family members.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me just jump in though, and ask you a follow-up. Ok, she`s saying that or they are saying $62 million is hers. And she`s been married to Bernie Madoff for 50 years. I know she`s written a cook book and she`s sometimes worked at his office -- reportedly as a bookkeeper.
CHUNG: That`s correct.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: How do you make $62 million doing that? I mean, that must have been a really hot-selling cook book.
CHUNG: Well, that`s the question that needs to be considered. And it`s more than $60 million. It`s nearly $70 million if you`ve take in the penthouse and everything aside.
CHUNG: It`s over $70 million. And I think, that`s one of the questions that the trustee and also all of the lawyers who are representing various investors will have to -- I mean, Ruth Madoff has fired the first shot through his lawyer by saying that these assets are mine and you can`t touch them.
And now we have to wait for what the -- what the investors` representatives do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right Paul, let me ask you this question. How is it that he`s basically the only one here who has gotten into hot water so far?
I mean, if he had 14,000 victims and he did detailed forged accounts for each one of them, which I guess is the allegation, he`d have to have a team of people working just to type, just to type it up.
CALLAN: It makes no sense whatsoever, Jane. This is a multi-billion- dollar scam. There is no way that he could have done this by himself. And even if his wife -- she was the bookkeeper. She signed the tax returns at the end of every year.
To think that she has no involvement whatsoever, as she lives off the $62 billion he --
CALLAN: He stole from charities and other people, it`s just too hard to swallow.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, you`re right. Ok. Guys, so much money at stake. Paul thanks so much come back soon.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Another outrageous story. Octo-mom, Nadya Suleman, reportedly eight times in the past year, cops came to her home and a 911 call that is shocking.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We may soon see a lot more of the octo-mom and I mean a lot. Reports now that a video of her giving birth is on the market for $1 million plus. I`ll have the strange details in a second.
But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.
An update on missing 25-year-old Laura Garza: Garza was last seen leaving a Manhattan nightclub with convicted sex offender Michael Mele on December 3rd. Snowy conditions caused the search to literally go cold. But over the weekend, some melting, allowing 200 police and volunteer firefighters to comb the woods. Authorities did not announce whether this latest search provided new clues on Garza`s whereabouts.
Meantime, detectives are preparing a murder case against Mele, which will move ahead with or without the recovery of Garza`s body; Mele currently in jail on probation violations.
Here on "ISSUES," I will provide you with any developments in this mysterious and tragic case.
That is tonight`s "Top of the Block."
Just in from the never-ending octo-mom drama -- celebrity Website TMZ has obtained Nadya Suleman`s frantic 911 call last year. You will remember, TMZ was the first to report that the octo-mom had called 911 several times and that cops had paid multiple visits to the home before she gave birth to octuplets in January.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
911 OPERATOR: 911 emergency.
NADYA SULEMAN, OCTUPLETS` MOM: Help me.
911 OPERATOR: Hi, what`s going on?
SULEMAN: Help me. Help me. My son is missing. I`m going crazy. I`m going crazy.
911 OPERATOR: You`re going to have to calm down. What address are you at?
SULEMAN: My son. What if someone came and -- or some stranger -- oh, God. Oh, God. I`m going to kill myself.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Her son had apparently gone out for a walk with the nanny. The call went on for a full four minutes before young J.J. returned.
My guess, it will be a lot tougher to keep track of 13 kids. How will these 911 calls affect this whole octo-drama? Let`s go straight to my panel: Mary Margaret, senior news editor from radar online; Jennifer Hartstein, clinical psychologist; and Mike Walters, assignment manager for TMZ.
Mike, tell us about your latest scoop with these 911 calls.
MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Yes. Jane, we broke the story that these 911 calls exist. There was eight in the last two years. But the one where Nadya actually called 911 happened in October. And basically what had happened was one of her young sons decided to go on a walk around the block. Nadya didn`t know that he was gone. She called 911.
This tape is unbelievable. You guys just heard it. It`s like she doesn`t know what`s going on or where her son is. And luckily -- I don`t want to down play the fact that her son is missing.
She`s obviously upset. But during the tape she says, "I`m going to kill myself" and you hear the 911 operator say, "Please don`t say that in front of your other kids." There are some other kids there while she`s looking for J.J. Luckily he came back.
But these tapes are unbelievable. They do paint the picture, what we`ve been talking about on your show, Jane, for the last couple of days. She already had six kids and there was a problem with taking care of them. Obviously you can hear it and you can see it and she has eight more.
It`s going to get even more interesting.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jennifer Hartstein, you`re the psychologist. Nobody really wants to beat up on this woman, but things keep popping up that are so alarming. And it`s really crossed a line. It`s really kind of gotten almost tragic.
JENNIFER HARTSTEIN, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: It really has. And my one question is I keep wondering why has no one -- why has no court stepped in and assigned someone to just go and assess what`s really going on so we can clear some of the air? We have all of these questions.
Many of us have said, "I`m so upset about this I`m going to slit my wrists." But she`s so frantic and so out of control, it makes you wonder how stable she is with 6, which is overwhelming as it is. Now she has 14, eight of whom are the same age. Many of whom may have special needs. How is she going to balance and manage?
It seems almost impossible if she`s already so emotionally all over the place and up and down all the time.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There are a lot of people who want to help her. TMZ caught the octo-mom on tape leaving the Beverly Hills home of Dr. Phil; also in attendance at this top secret summit, famed attorney, Gloria Allred.
Mike, what exactly took place here? What went down?
WALTERS: You know, there was a deal on the table. Gloria Allred has come forward with a company or a place where they were going to help -- I forget the name. They were going to help her with the next year of the finances and taking care of the kids. She turned them down.
And Dr. Phil has now gotten involved. He`s had them all over to his house in Beverly Hills and of course the cameras are rolling, obviously. But he had him all there -- you know Dr. Phil. He mediated Gloria and octo-mom basically.
I think everybody wants her to take the help, whether it`s from this organization or it`s from somebody. Please take the money, please take the help because you have 14 kids. And I think Dr. Phil probably --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Okay. Got to jump in and ask this question. And I have to take it back to you, Mike.
What about the reports that you`re publishing that she`s shopping around the video of her birth for $1 million? Frankly, you`d have to pay me $1 million to watch that tape.
WALTER: I actually paid $100 so I didn`t have to see it in my newsroom. No, yes. No. Obviously we`ve talked about this before. Nadya has sold a lot things, including interviews and pictures and things in her life to the media, which is fine, because she has money.
But this tape was of the actual birth. And I don`t know who wants to see it and I don`t know who would pay $1 million to see it, but it`s on the table. You`re not going to see it on TMZ, but you might see this tape come out in the next couple of days.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Radar Online`s Mary Margaret is also here with us. What have you got in terms of the latest octo-mom developments?
MARY MARGARET, RADAR ONLINE: We talked to Nadya about the latest 911 controversy because obviously we knew that was going to hit and break today. And what she explained, and that`s played down with advocates because I do agree with a lot of the criticism out there, but she explained one call.
It was a neighbor who was complaining because her kids were throwing rocks over into their yard. And the neighbor complained, said the kids were dirty, kind of had all these allegations. The agency came over to her house and found that a lot of the charges were unfounded. There is something to be said that she is a good mom in some ways.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, guys, hang on. More on the never-ending circus. And the calls lining up; we`re going to take them when we come right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAROLE LIEBERMAN, FILED COMPLAINT AGAINST SULEMAN: What I think is the best solution is that each of these children, before they bond with her more and get taken to a home where they`ll be in danger, physical and psychological danger, that they each be given to a home where they can be the focus of attention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Psychiatrist Dr. Carol Lieberman wanted octo-mom`s eight babies to be adopted out right from the hospital. But it`s looking more like they could be headed home within the next two weeks, wherever home turns out to be.
Back with my panel talking about octo-mom outrage. The phone lines lighting up. Bob in Michigan, questions or thought, sir?
BOB FROM MICHIGAN: Well, yes. First off, Jane, I must say I love the show.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, thank you.
BOB: You`re quite welcome.
Here`s my question right here. The problem that we have is when she went to the doctor as other mothers do to have this procedure done, she wasn`t screened because the doctor has the academic skills to get the job done, but doesn`t have the common sense to screen her. Why wouldn`t she be sent to a psychologist or a psychiatrist to be screened?
These politicians are making laws to make this illegal when they should making to have screening.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think it`s an excellent question.
Jennifer Hartstein, psychologist?
HARTSTEIN: It`s a great question. You need a license for a lot of things and you don`t need a license to be a parent. And one of the things that should be included in any medical screening is really questions about psychological health. And it`s often missing.
She had a relationship with the doctor and he might have said, okay, no problem, and not even really thought about. I think it`s really great legislation to figure out how to pass to have psychological/psychiatric screenings to see what people can handle and it`s fixed enough. It brings a whole lot of questions into play, but it`s a really great idea.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Some would say it opens a Pandora`s Box, but I think when it comes to embryo implantation, it`s definitely something that they should consider.
Linda, South Carolina, question or thought, ma`am?
LINDA FROM SOUTH CAROLINA: Hi, Jane. Thanks for taking my call. You have a great show.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.
LINDA: I have two questions, really. First of all, who would be paying for this medical bill at the hospital? And contention that maybe she will be getting money from some of these pictures.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mary Margaret, Radar Online.
MARY MARGARET: Well, Radar Online, we don`t pay for interviews, ever. But of course, it`s not a secret that Nadya has a long history of trying to broker deals and trying to figure out a way of, you know, having some kind of income from this.
Again, as you brought up a few days ago, Jane, when she got hurt on the job, she was able to get money from that and has been living off a pretty big settlement.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And I`m sure she`s in the process -- Mike, last ten seconds -- of making some kind of deal here, whether it`s for the birth pictures of the octuplets or something.
WALTER: Yes, she`s made deals. She has money now. I hear that she`s already leased another house, but she made money. She`s going to continue to make money. She`ll be fine, hopefully.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we are out of time. Thank you, panel.
I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell and your watching "ISSUES."