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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Award Raised for Info on Haleigh Cummings; Father of Missing Girl Comforts Cummings Family; Bernie Madoff Expected to Plead Guilty to All Charges
Aired March 10, 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, a heart-wrenching scene as Haleigh Cummings` family forced to tear down their camp site and move out, but to where?
CRYSTAL SHEFFIELD, HALEIGH`S MOTHER: Haleigh, I love you. Your daddy loves you. Please just bring her home.
RON CUMMINGS, HALEIGH`S FATHER: I love you very much. We will find you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Plus Misty Croslin shows off her engagement ring as new details pour in about her upcoming marriage to the missing girl`s father.
And the family of abducted teen Tiffany Sessions, who vanished 20 years ago on the same date as Haleigh, never to reappear, arrives in Satsuma to comfort Haleigh`s relatives.
Then, 70 miles away, stunning news in the Caylee Anthony murder case. Where is Casey Anthony getting the money to pay for her dream team of eight lawyers and famous experts? Prosecutors demanding to know if there`s a secret source for the big bucks. Will Jose Baez spill the answers?
Then shock as reports say Rihanna is recording a duet with Chris Brown, even though he`s facing two felonies for allegedly assaulting her. As the case gets over to focus in on domestic violence, I`ll tell you why their punch drunk love is sending all of the wrong messages.
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a community tries not to crumble in the face of a devastating mystery. It was one month ago that a desperate and frantic 911 call alerted authorities that little Haleigh Cummings had disappeared from her home without a trace.
Today, a heart wrenching news conference in Satsuma, Florida, marking the terrible one-month anniversary. Standing before a small army of cops, Haleigh`s mother, Crystal Sheffield, broke down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHEFFIELD: I just want to say thank you for everybody that`s doing everything. Haleigh, if you`re out there, Mommy loves you and your daddy loves you and we miss you. We`ll be right here. Please -- please, whoever has her, bring her home. Please. We need her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Her ex, Haleigh`s dad, Ron Cummings, who has just gotten engaged, also made another emotional plea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: Please, if you have my daughter, bring her home, please. All I want is Haleigh. That`s all I want. I want nothing else, but Haleigh, that`s it. Please, if you have her, bring her home. Baby, if you`re watching, you know you`ll always be daddy`s little girl. I love you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unfortunately, despite a massive investigation, cops stood before the media today and seemed to acknowledge they have absolutely no idea, not a clue, what happened to this precious 5-year-old.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF JEFF HARDY, PUTNAM COUNTY SHERIFF`S DEPARTMENT: I ask this community to please have patience and to bear with us. And we`re looking for that one lead and that one tip that it`s going to take to bring Haleigh home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So today the Justice Coalition, in a desperate bid to get answers let would-be tipsters know that the reward has been upped to $35,000 for information that will hopefully solve this mysterious case.
In the middle of all of this, the Cummings family is being evicted from their camp site. They are tearing down their tents as we speak. Where will this tormented family go to wait for news?
We will be taking your calls on all of this tonight, but first, to my expert panel: Rebecca Rose Woodland, criminal defense attorney; Drew Findling, Atlanta-based criminal defense attorney; Pat Brown, criminal profiler, joining us by phone; and Jennifer Bauer from CNN affiliate WJXT.
Jennifer, what is the very latest?
JENNIFER BAUER, WJXT: Well, I think the big news today coming out of Putnam County, Jane, is that the reward has been upped to $35,000. Investigators are telling us they hope the additional money, of course, will bring in new tips, new leads, talking with investigators today.
They say, you know, people all the way from San Diego, California, to Cape May, New Jersey, are really taking an interest in this case. And the FBI field agent who was here at today`s news conference said the FBI is going out of state, handling these calls, these sightings, these tips. The number still remains at 2,400 and the investigators here still remain optimistic.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to bring in Pat Brown, criminal profiler, because what I have noticed, and it`s certainly pretty obvious, is that the law enforcement teams operating on this case are being very, very tight- lipped. They`re not saying anything. They`re not saying whether the family passed the polygraph.
Contrast that to the Casey Anthony, case where there were leaks left and right. Do you think this strategy is working in the Haleigh case? It does not appear to be working. Perhaps they should hold a news conference and tell us everything they know, Pat.
PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Well, that is the concept, Jane. May have a strategy that we just don`t know at this point. Lots of information that they do believe will eventually bring them in something.
And one of the things that`s very interesting about this case, if you compare it to the Caylee Anthony case, is there are always two options in any child abduction or supposed child abduction: that indeed, a stranger did take the child or the family was involved.
And in Caylee`s case there was a lot of, you know, obviously right away the behavior of Casey Anthony was suspect, so everything kind of focused there, but you will notice that law enforcement still looked around for her. They still didn`t just go with that. They kept their options open.
And I think they`re doing the same thing in this case. There are some concerns with the family, but they`re looking elsewhere.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s the problem, Pat. If they don`t say, OK, for example, this is just one example. The family took their polygraph and passed them. Now, the family said, "We passed them," but the authorities won`t confirm that. So people are sort of, well, we don`t know. They`re not letting their imaginations open up to consider other possibilities. And I think that that is a problem. Do you see what I`m saying?
BROWN: Well, I see what you`re saying, Jane, but I actually don`t think that`s true, because if you take a look at the blogging out there in the blog world, people out there are very, very suspicious of both Misty and Ronald, especially in light of the recent engagement, something that you wouldn`t imagine would happen when you`re focused just on finding this child. It doesn`t make sense that suddenly, you thought, "Oh, let`s think about ourselves and let`s get married and get an engagement ring." Very peculiar behavior.
Actually, a lot of people are looking at that. But I think that`s already out there. So I don`t know quite what the law enforcement are thinking, but I think that they`ve got their plans.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I think that you and I are essentially agreeing. I`m saying that assuming that this family is not involved, we should clear them at this point, because that would open the focus and allow people to think of other possibilities and look elsewhere.
DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Jane, I have to say I disagree. Having worked on these cases before, remember that abductors and people of that mindset are often boasters. And if they know -- if they know that that suspicion is still there, then they may possibly boast about what they did. And if they boast and it`s somebody that will respond to $35,000.
So I think there`s a little bit of a strategy in not letting us know. And I think we should probably give credit to law enforcement for keeping that to themselves. And that`s based on years and years of experience.
And I promise you they`re consulting with Quantico on every move they make. If they`re not, they`re truly remiss.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, sure. FBI was there today. I know they`re doing a great job. They`re working very, very hard. We`re just trying to offer alternative possibilities.
Now, Pat Brown, you mentioned the whole idea of the engagement. Haleigh`s cad, Ron Cummings, proposed to 17-year-old Misty Croslin, the last person to see Haleigh Cummings before she disappeared on Sunday. The couple has come under scrutiny, as Pat mentioned, over that decision. Let`s listen to what Misty and her mom, Lisa Croslin, had to say about just that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MISTY CROSLIN, FIANCE OF RON CUMMINGS: We`ve been planning this for a while, actually.
LISA CROSLIN, MOTHER OF MISTY: It`s just -- they`ve been getting for me to do it for, like, five months. And I said you all need to wait until you`re 18 and everybody`s trashing them. And I`m going to go ahead and let them do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Additionally, Misty maintains that the engagement is what little Haleigh would have wanted. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
M. CROSLIN: Everybody might take this marriage thing the wrong way, but it`s not. It`s still focused -- everything is still focused on Haleigh. This is what Haleigh wanted. She`s always talked about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Misty showed off her engagement ring today, and we`re going to show you that in a second. Still, some are raising eyebrows, wondering why Ron would, at this particular juncture, marry Misty when his daughter disappeared on Misty`s watch and is still missing, and we still have no idea what happened to her.
Jennifer Bauer, what`s the reaction in the community?
BAUER: I think people at first were pretty shocked. I spoke with Teresa Neves today, who is Haleigh`s paternal grandmother. And she told me they`re doing it because it makes them happy. This is what Haleigh would have wanted. She says this is what Ron Jr., Haleigh`s brother, wants. She says the children talked about it. Ron Jr. still talks about it today.
And she said when Haleigh comes home she`s going to be a flower girl at the wedding. They`re going to have a reception once Haleigh comes home. Of course, the wedding itself possibly taking place at the courthouse, we`re hearing, maybe sometime this week.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Jennifer -- Rebecca Rose Woodland, another stress on this Cummings family is that they have to pack up their campground. Why do you think the county is giving them a hard time on this rule that you can`t have a campground at an unofficial camp site for more than 14 days? I mean, to me that sounds like going after people who are not putting their dogs on leashes when there`s a murderer on the loose.
REBECCA ROSE WOODLAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, I guess the county is just trying to do everything by the book. I think they think there`s some conflict. They want to keep everything really quiet here.
As you were saying before, Jane, they really are keeping this very tightlipped, and maybe they`re afraid something in that camp site, something or another there will be some sort of clue that will just go by the wayside.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, wait a second. You`re saying this is a strategy.
WOODLAND: I`m thinking so because why would you make these poor people have to remove their campsite? All they want to do is find this poor little girl. So maybe it`s a strategy, and they`re trying to keep everything really tight.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`ll explore that more. Everyone, sit tight. We have lots of ground to cover in this case.
Do you think it was unfair to force the Cummings family to move their camp? Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297. Let me know your thoughts on this entire case.
And 70 miles away, in the Caylee Anthony case, prosecutors demand to know where Casey is getting all of the money for her dream team of eight attorneys. I will have an update.
But first an emotional news conference with the Cummings family today, made more so because they were forced to move from the spot they have called home for weeks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TERESA NEVES, HALEIGH`S PATERNAL GRANDMOTHER: We felt closer to the investigation here. Nobody thought we would be here this long.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHEFFIELD: Just bring her home. Please. We need her. We need her. Just bring her back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A mother`s desperate plea for her baby girl. Heartbreaking.
We are back with my panel and taking your calls, as we try to figure out why this is such a complete mystery. But first, I want to introduce a very special guest.
Patrick Sessions knows all too well the horror Haleigh`s parents are going through. Twenty years ago Patrick lived their nightmare when his beautiful 20-year-old daughter, Tiffany Sessions, disappeared after going on a jog. She has never been seen since. Period.
In a heart-wrenching coincidence, Tiffany disappeared on the same date as Haleigh. Tiffany`s death was so upset over Haleigh`s disappearance, he drove to Satsuma to visit with the Cummings family.
Patrick, thank you so much for joining us.
PATRICK SESSIONS, DAUGHTER WENT MISSING: You`re welcome. Glad to be here.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m sure it brings up some very painful feelings. Why did you feel the need to reach out to the Cummings? And were you able to comfort them?
SESSIONS: Well, you know, we try to work with other families that, unfortunately, are in the same position we were, and I just felt like this was the time.
We normally get involved earlier, but they had great television coverage, and they had good law enforcement activity. So I didn`t think they really needed us at that point. But I don`t know whether you`ve lost anybody, but people who any through what we`ve anyone through and lost loved ones, you kind of hit a wall at about 30 days. And I just felt like they were hitting that wall. I know I hit it, and I thought it might be a good time to try to show some support.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. We`re going to go to so many people lining up to give their thoughts on this case, but I want to ask you a follow-up on your case.
How is it possible in this day and age of forensics and all sorts of high technology that a human being can simply disappear without a trace and it ends up in a cold case file and police don`t have a clue? Does that boggle your mind?
SESSION: Well, it does. I never expected to be to be sitting here 20 years later. But I said before, you don`t have to be a brain surgeon to get away with murder. If you get lucky enough to commit the crime and hide the body and nobody sees it, unless there`s some good evidence there`s nothing to go on.
And unfortunately in Tiffany`s case, there was absolutely no evidence. No witnesses, no forensic evidence, nothing. So it`s a classic whodunit.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And my heart goes out to you. I can`t imagine what it`s been like to live with that, not knowing for 20 years.
Now, again, the phone lines lighting up. And let`s go to some of our callers with questions and thoughts.
Ralph from California, your question or thought, sir.
CALLER: Yes, I have a question. Have the police investigated into Misty`s ex-disgruntled boyfriend?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jennifer, what do you know?
BAUER: I don`t know anything about her ex-disgruntled boyfriend. I haven`t heard anything from investigators on them.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But does she have an ex? I mean, she`s only, what? Seventeen? She`s pretty young.
BAUER: Yes. All I know, I mean, she`s 17. I know she met Ron when she was 14. I know that they`ve been dating for about the last six months. That`s the only information I know about her past.
But I know her family does live in this same neighborhood where Ronald has his mobile home where he lives with Haleigh and Ron Jr., but beyond that I don`t have any information about any ex-boyfriend.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Kitty in Canada. Your question or thought?
CALLER: I love your show. Who was the last person to see Haleigh other than the dad and the girlfriend?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Good question. We`re going to take it back to Jennifer Bauer on that.
BAUER: The grandmother. Great-grandmother, Annette Sykes. She is Ronald`s grandmother, Teresa Neves` mother. She came by the house that night about 7 p.m. She had to drop off some clothing, and I think she did some laundry, helped the family out. She was dropping that off.
She says the kids were eating dinner, and Misty had just made them dinner. And that was the last time she saw Haleigh. And then, of course, as you know, Misty Croslin remembers seeing Haleigh at around 10 p.m.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Donna in Florida, your question or thought, ma`am?
CALLER: Hi, Jane. Love your show.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.
CALLER: I was just wondering how could the father of Haleigh afford to buy a diamond ring for Misty, and you know, Haleigh was sleeping on a mattress on the floor? It just boggles my mind that he would do something, you know, like that. I mean, buy a bed for the baby. I just don`t understand that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me go back to Patrick Sessions, because, again, I always say we have no idea what it`s like to walk in the shoes of somebody who has lost a child. And there has been a lot of questions and eyebrows raised over the timing, Patrick, why little missing Haleigh`s father would decide to get engaged right now to the very woman who was there the last time that anybody saw little Haleigh and sort of -- if the child disappeared on her watch. And then you just heard that question.
Could you give us any insight into why they may need to come together at this juncture?
SESSIONS: Well, the first thing, and I`m not sure it`s fact, but I`d understand that the ring was actually the grandmother`s ring, that she gave that to them. If that`s true, that explains some of it.
I think what explains more of it is you all are trying to understand what`s going on in the head of someone who`s lost a child. And I don`t think it`s necessarily the greatest idea either. But I don`t think we should be standing here trying to judge people that are just trying to get through day by day. And I`m sure I did some pretty stupid things during the time -- those first days.
And as I said, they`re hitting a point now where it`s awful hard to divide reality. You can talk about it all you want, but after 30 days, you realize you`ve got a real problem. And the odds are getting worse every day of a happy ending.
So I don`t know what drove it, but I suspect what drove it is just a moment of happiness in an absolutely terrible situation.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Drew, thoughts on this, because there are some people who have been very harsh. We only have a couple of seconds.
FINDLING: Well, again, I`m going to fall back on my position that I think that somebody in Ron`s position really needs counsel. He needs an attorney, even if he`s not a suspect, to council him through this investigation through this stage.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think that`s an excellent suggestion and, unfortunately, we have to leave it right there. I want to thank Patrick Sessions and my excellent panel. Please come back soon.
Now, Rihanna back in the recording studio with Chris Brown making a love song? Hard to believe.
Plus, prosecutors in the Caylee case demand answers. Where`s the money?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSE BAEZ, CAYLEE ANTHONY`S ATTORNEY: I don`t think that these images are related to the case in any way. These irrelevant images should stay as they are, private and irrelevant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was Casey Anthony`s lawyer, Jose Baez, unsuccessfully trying to keep the lid on shocking photos from Casey`s Photobucket account. I`m going to tell you about the new controversy surrounding Baez in just a moment, but first the spotlight.
Alleged Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff reportedly makes a shocking decision today that could leave the 70-year-old man with a 150-year prison sentence. He emerged from his Manhattan penthouse dressed in a bulletproof jacket and headed to court.
In the short hearing, Madoff`s lawyer shockingly announced that he would likely plead guilty to all 11 counts this Thursday. Those counts carry a maximum of 150 years in prison. The most stunning part of all: the judge insisted that there is no plea deal. No plea deal.
I`m joined now by Greg Palast, who has been investigating the Madoff case for the BBC.
Greg, good to see you again. We learned now that Madoff is expected to plead guilty to 11 counts Thursday, presumably going to prison until he dies. Why no plea deal?
GREG PALAST, REPORTER, BBC: What`s there to bargain with? I mean, he has no bargaining power. They`ve got all the evidence. They`ve got the smoking gun in his hand. That`s it. They -- so the prosecutors don`t need to bargain with this guy. They`ve got him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, that`s fascinating. See, I thought it was Madoff who refused to do a plea deal, because he wants to essentially protect those around him. He claims he operated alone, this very complex Ponzi scheme. Prosecutors, I certainly don`t think, believe him for a second, but they might need his help to implicate other people.
With 14,000 victims, how could he possibly have pulled all of that off alone? But if he pleads guilty to everything, he doesn`t have to give any information, which he would have to in a plea deal.
PALAST: Well, if he wants some leniency in sentencing. They`ve got something over him.
But according to the criminal information which is all of the details they have, they don`t have nothing on his family. What they have is that he had some clerks, some people who knew nothing, make out a bunch of forms for him. So that`s his criminal co-conspirators, basically a couple of minimum wage guys with pencils.
So basically, he`s protecting his family. That`s what he`s doing right now, so he`s going down to keep his family criminal -- you know, intact and free of criminal charges. They`re still going to probably lose most of their money. I don`t see how they get out of that...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me ask you about that. Ruth Madoff, his wife of about half a century reportedly is saying through their lawyers that at least $70 million in assets belongs to her, the penthouse, the 7 mill, plus 62 in assets. Can they just walk away with that money?
PALAST: Yes, yes, yes, and she swallowed her wedding ring. Sure. No, they`re going to see right through that. I`m sure she`ll file for bankruptcy and try to protect some -- basically her home, which she`ll probably get to keep.
But basically what little assets -- not little. They`re multimillionaire, but it`s all stolen money, and they`re going to have to give it up. I don`t see how to get out of that one. All they can do is stall and then cut a deal. I`m sure she`ll be able to keep her nice penthouse and a nice place in Palm Beach.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you`ve got to come back on Thursday, because this hearing is going to be dynamite. Victims will want to testify. The attorney for Madoff getting hate mail. We`re going to get into it on Thursday. Greg, thanks so much.
Casey Anthony`s dream team attorneys on the hot seat about secret funds. Where is the money coming from to pay for Baez and the other attorneys?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stunning news in the Caylee Anthony murder case. Where is Casey Anthony getting the money to pay for her dream team of eight lawyers and famous experts? Prosecutors demanding to know if there`s a secret source for the big bucks. Will Jose Baez spill the answers?
Then shocking reports say Rihanna is recording a duet with Chris Brown even though Brown is facing two felonies for allegedly assaulting her. I`ll tell you why their punch-drunk love is sending all the wrong messages.
A true shocker tonight in the Caylee Anthony murder case -- Casey Anthony slams prosecutors in a handwritten note filed just a little while ago. In a sworn affidavit Casey said, quote, "I believe that Mr. Ashton, the prosecutor is angry because I have refused to take a plea agreement for a crime that I did not commit," end quote. The words "did not" were written in capital letters.
The affidavit also says Casey has no agreements to sell her story or "that of my daughter Caylee Marie Anthony." This letter, part of Jose Baez`s response to the prosecution`s demand to know how -- how Casey is paying for her very high profile defense team, a.k.a., the dream team which includes eight lawyers and a slew of famous experts.
Prosecutors believe the only way Casey could afford her legal team would be to sell images of little Caylee. They claim Baez may have a conflict of interest if he`s managing Casey`s assets. But Baez says everything he`s done is ethical and above board, still, could this be the basis of an appeal if Casey is convicted of murder?
With me my fantastic expert panel: Paul Callan, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; Rebecca Rose Woodland, a criminal defense attorney; Drew Findling, Atlanta based criminal defense attorney; and Bob Kealing, a reporter for CNN affiliate WESH.
Bob, what is the very latest?
BOB KEALING, WESH, ORLANDO, FL: Well, what`s interesting, Jane, is that I just got off the phone with Jose Baez and he said it was difficult for his client not to take that show me the money motion from prosecutors a little bit personally because the prosecutor, Mr. Ashton, used a line like she`s been from pauper to princess.
That`s why she came back with her own handwritten response, as you mentioned, saying, "the prosecutor is angry that I`ve refused to take a plea agreement for a crime I did not commit." And some very interesting news that`s contained within that is that she is acknowledging the existence of some sort of plea agreement that either is on the table or has been on the table.
Baez won`t talk about it and neither will the state.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s pretty fascinating, Paul Callan. You`re a former prosecutor. This is how we`re finding out that there was a plea agreement possibly offered to her?
PAUL CALLAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, very strange. And you know, I`ve got to say, Jane, I usually take the prosecutor`s side in these issues, but this is outrageous. Where do they get off asking how she`s paying for her lawyers? They didn`t ask O.J. Simpson that. I don`t hear anybody asking Bernie Madoff how he`s paying for his lawyers.
So where did they get off saying that Baez has to reveal how he`s being paid? You know something, half of these lawyers, probably all of them are working for free and they`re working for the publicity and frankly, it`s none of the prosecutor`s business.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this is quite the dream team, however. The prosecution wanted to know just who was paying for this very expensive, if it is, in fact, they`re not working for free legal defense team.
Now, here`s part of the motion that you just referred to. "The defendant`s seeming conversion from pauper to princess did not come from the sale of some tangible asset available to her prior to her initial arrest on charges related to this case."
Now we`re going to go through this list. This is an extraordinary list of defense attorneys. And why don`t we start with the most famous of all, of course, aside from Jose Baez, you have Linda Kenny Baden, she has been involved in the Phil Specter defense, you have famous experts like Dr. Henry Lee who has assisted in more than 6,000 cases including O.J. Simpson and Laci Peterson.
You have Dr. Westerner Spitz who testified in the O.J. Simpson murder trial. You have Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky; he`s one of the top experts in DNA. Dr. Timothy Huntington, a rising star -- You what? It would take us the entire show to list all of the experts that are on this dream team along with eight, count of eight attorneys.
DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: But Jane, but Jane, you`re missing Paul`s point because Paul and I have practiced in case together and we both travel around the country. And you`re right, there are a lot of experts and who knows what the financial agreement is with them. But with due respect to the defense attorneys in this case, as I think Paul would agree with me, this isn`t a dream team of defense attorneys.
There are some mega superstars in Orlando that have been practicing for 25 years that aren`t even near this case. We read their commentary in the sentinel.com, but other than that, they have nothing to do with this case. So calling it a dream team of experts is one thing.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait, Linda Kenny Baden got a mistrial for Phil Specter and I covered that case and let me tell you she was brilliant.
FINDLING: That`s fantastic but where is the rest of the dream --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It was a brilliant defense, so I think she alone makes it a dream team.
FINDLING: Well, a dream team is when you talked about O.J. Simpson and you talk about Barry Scheck, Johnnie Cochran, F. Lee Bailey and Peter Neufeld, it doesn`t stop there. That`s the dream team that we start talking about hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
That doesn`t exist in this case. There are apparently attorneys that are willing, as Paul said, to maybe do it for next to nothing whether it`s the publicity and whether it`s the intriguing philosophical aspects of this case. Who knows?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, I`ll give you that one.
Now, let`s take a look at another big issue today. Let`s look at one of the recently rediscovered YouTube videos of Caylee. This is Casey Anthony playing with Caylee. Now when first saw this we thought somebody associated with the family posted it; that would make sense, right?
It makes Casey look good -- maybe, maybe not. We now know that somebody going by the name of mom-tective (ph) was posting these videos to YouTube. She addressed the image we are looking at on her blog saying, quote, "I certainly don`t see a loving mother when I watch the videos of Casey playing with little Caylee. To me Casey looks very uncomfortable, kind of like she`s trying not to break a nail, muss her hair or smudge her makeup."
So let`s go to Rebecca Rose Woodland, the female criminal defense attorney on the panel. You know, we`re both women and we look at this. What do you see? A loving mother or a woman trying not to mess up her makeup?
REBECCA ROSE WOODLAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think it`s offensive that that woman would say that. Quite frankly I think it`s a woman who loves her child. So I know what she`s being charged with and again I`m going to say this as I say it all of the time; innocent until proven guilty. We have a constitution.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me jump in here though, Rebecca, and say this is the same woman who didn`t let anybody know for a month that her child was missing. This is the same woman who lied to her parents and investigators about having a job at Universal Studios and even took cops to Universal Studios until they confronted her.
This is a woman who allegedly stole money from her own family and from friends.
WOODLAND: I agree. Jane, I agree, this is not a dream defense here. But does this video depict a mother who doesn`t love her child? No I do not think so, I think this video happens to depict a woman who clearly loved her child. What happened? We don`t know.
Yes, there are a lot of very, very difficult obstacles for the defense to overcome in this case, absolutely. But again, she is constitutionally innocent before proven guilty. And does this video depict anything other than a loving mother to me? No, absolutely not.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, let`s take a look at some more of the video of little Caylee that resurfaced on YouTube. And here she is in front of the television and this is really heartbreaking. She`s learning her ABCs so young, and so precious.
Take a look at this little image of this just adorable little child.
Bob Kealing, what`s the word out there in that area about the impact of these videos and the fact that they`ve resurfaced just recently?
All right. Well, you`re hearing a little natural sound of little Caylee dancing and responding to this video that`s trying to teach her the alphabet.
Let me go to Paul Callan. As you look at this, you`ve been on both sides of the defense; prosecutor and defense attorney. What impact are these videos is going to have?
CALLAN: Well, people love this little baby and it`s going create enormous sympathy for the prosecutors in the case. You know, the fact that this little child could have been potentially murdered by her mother and you know, Rebecca makes a good point about the constitution in innocent until proven guilty. But you know something?
That`s something that happens at the time of trial. You presume innocence until someone is proven guilty. But you know, there`s an absolute truth here. She either did it or she didn`t do it and it`s not looking very good for her at this point.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And Rebecca Rose Woodland, I`m going to give you the last word on the impact of this whole demand to know who`s paying for Casey`s defense. Could it be used by Casey as an argument for appeal if she`s convicted?
WOODLAND: Sure. Absolutely. She could say she`s being harassed. Why is her personal information coming to play here? Her dream team is there it. You want to call them the dream team? And she probably wants to call them a dream team and I think she`s very confident in them.
Hey, they are here to help her. It is not about how she`s getting paid. She said in an affidavit as did Mr. Baez -- they are not receiving money for any stories they are selling. That is enough.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, thanks again to my panel for their fantastic insight.
And moving on -- shocking reports in the Rihanna/Chris Brown saga claim. The two are recording a song together. What the heck is Rihanna thinking?
Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS; 1877-586-7297 to sound off on Rihanna and Chris, next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Outrageous reports claiming Rihanna is recording a duet with Chris Brown. I will try to figure out what she is thinking.
But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.
A stunning twist in the disappearance of Stacy Peterson; Peterson went missing on October 28, 2007. Many suspect her husband, ex-cop Drew Peterson is the one responsible.
Now Drew`s stepbrother Tom Morphy (ph) is finally speaking out publicly. He had previously told investigators he may have unwittingly helped Peterson dispose of Stacy`s body. On the same day that she was reported missing, Peterson allegedly asked Morphy to help carry a blue barrel from the master bedroom down into the car. And later believing that the barrel contained Stacy`s body, Morphy tried to kill himself.
Investigators in the case have recently granted him immunity and now he says he has no doubt that Drew Peterson killed Stacy. I will be sure to update you with any developments in this very bizarre case.
That is tonight`s "Top of the Block.
Now to startling developments in the Chris Brown/Rihanna saga -- in the wake of shocking accusations that Brown punched, bit and choked girlfriend Rihanna until she nearly passed out. E! Online is now reporting that the two are working together on a duet for Brown`s new album.
Meanwhile, Radar Online says Brown shelled out, get this, $50,000 to buy Rihanna a diamond ring last week. What the heck is going on here? Career rehab for Chris Brown? If so, is it at Rihanna`s expense?
The beautiful 21-year-old superstar has been warned in the most compassionate way by Oprah herself that she could be putting herself in danger by going back to him. What will it take for her to listen?
I want to hear from you, but first, straight out to my fantastic panel: Lisa Bloom, anchor for the legal network "In Session," Laura Arens Fuerstein, therapist; and Ken Baker, executive news editor of E! Thanks all for joining.
Ken, what could they possibly call this duet? Here`s one we thought of. Reunited and it feels so bad?
What the heck is going on here?
KEN BAKER, E! NEWS EDITOR: It is true as you said. What we report at E! is they are in the studio together right now working on a duet. And I`m told that this is the working of Chris Brown`s camp -- no surprise there -- to get them in the studio together.
But, get this, this is what`s disturbing a lot of people is that Rihanna, I`m told, is doing this because she somehow feels as though it`s her fault that Chris Brown is getting such a bad rap. That he is in this PR debacle and that she feels a lot of shame over it because she felt as though she sort of just threw him under the bus.
Of course, we`ve all seen the photos. She looks severely beaten. Someone beat her up and no matter what the reason was, it`s just not right. So I think a lot of people out there, even Rihanna fans are starting to question what is she doing? Why is she doing this?
And even her own father has come out and said that he can`t reach her. That she has all these people around her and he is deeply disturbed and concerned for her safety.
Right now it`s really a waiting game. A lot of people are waiting to hear from Rihanna to understand where she`s coming from, because to a lot of people looking from the outside in, it doesn`t make any sense.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, yes. We have even more celebrity Website TMZ reports that the mystery woman behind the three-page text message which triggered the fateful incident of February 8th is none other than Chris Brown`s former manager, Tina Davis. At the same time, according to the "New York Post," Brown`s camp Rihanna is the one who provoked him and hit him with her stiletto heel.
What I don`t understand is what`s up with people trashing her at the very same time that a supposed reunion is in the works?
LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Look, if she attacked him I`d like to see the police report that he filed against her. Oops! He didn`t. I`d like it see the injuries that he had from her. Oops! There aren`t any, at least not any documented that I have seen.
Look, what she`s making is a terrible choice. There`s not a single person out there except Chris Brown and his friends and his attorneys who think it`s a good idea for her to reconcile with him or to make a song with him. I mean, that`s just the sad reality.
But here`s the good news, Jane, Los Angeles County has a no drop rule in domestic violence cases. Translation: they are going to prosecute with or without the victim`s cooperation. That`s the written policy that they follow in every case.
And I talked to some L.A. County domestic violence prosecutors over the weekend and they said they are going to treat this like any other case. They`re going to follow their policies. She can either come in and testify voluntarily if there is a trial or they`re going to haul her in and threaten her with jail time if she doesn`t testify. It`s not up to her anymore; it`s going forward.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me just jump in because I want to clarify. I thought I had heard last week that essentially, if she decides not to cooperate since they can`t use her statement that that basically makes it not an easy case to prosecute.
BLOOM: No. They can bring her in and force her to testify. If she does not testify, look, they can`t open her mouth and make her talk. If she refuses to testify, she is in contempt of court and she is facing jail time.
If she does testify and she changes her story, nothing happened, I provoked him then they can bring in these other items to impeach her. The police statements, the photographs -- they can use all of that to impeach her.
And Jane, this is what is done every day in dozens of cases in Los Angeles court. This is a very common place situation and there are policies in place to deal with it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, famed sex crimes prosecutor Linda Fairstein compared the alleged beatings of Rihanna to Nicole Brown Simpson. Nicole, of course, tragically murdered a year after allegedly suffering domestic violence at the hands of her accused killer who was later acquitted. Here is one of the 911 calls placed by Nicole.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
NICOLE BROWN SIMPSON, MURDER VICTIM: Can you send someone here now to 325 Gretna Green. He`s back. Please.
911 OPERATOR: Ok. What does he look like?
BROWN-SIMPSON: He`s O.J. Simpson. I think you know his record. Could you just send somebody over here?
911 OPERATOR: Ok. What is he doing there?
BROWN-SIMPSON: He just drove up again. Can you send somebody over.
911 OPERATOR: Wait a minute. What kind of car is he in?
BROWN-SIMPSON: He`s in a white Bronco. First of all, he broke the back door down to get in.
911 OPERATOR: Wait a minute. What`s your name?
BROWN-SIMPSON: Nicole Simpson.
911 OPERATOR: Is he the sportscaster or whatever?
BROWN-SIMPSON: Yes. Thank you.
911 OPERATOR: Wait a minute. We`re sending police. What is he doing? Is he threatening you?
BROWN-SIMPSON: He`s (bleep) going nuts.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Truly chilling phone call.
Laura, you`re the therapist. Is that a fair or unfair comparison? After all, Chris Brown is 19 years old.
LAURA ARENS FUERSTEIN, THERAPIST: Well, I think it`s a fair comparison in the sense that there`s an out of control situation. There`s a rage in these men and this rage has come out without a control. There`s something inside them that just, there was a tinderbox and it was set off by an incident.
A lot of us are talking about what we don`t understand, what the people involved don`t understand. And that`s the problem itself. They don`t understand what they`re doing because there are forces beneath the surface that are driving them to act in the ways they are, including the women who are staying in the situation.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And I agree. When a child sees this kind of behavior, they tend of repeat it and he says he did see this kind of behavior.
Sit tight everyone. More details on the story. Be sure to check out my exclusive commentary on the Rihanna/Chris Brown soap opera on cnn.com.
We are back with more in just a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTI LOUSTEAU, L.A. COURT COMMISSIONER: Mr. Brown, you are ordered not to annoy, harass, molest, threaten or resort to violence against anyone. And we don`t have a no contact order?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your honor, Miss Fenty does not request that type of order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Miss Fenty, A.K.A. Rihanna; her attorney told the judge -- as you just heard that his client did not request a no contact order. Maybe now we have some idea why they`re recording a duet together, reportedly.
I`m back talking with my fantastic panel. Phone lines lighting up. Vanessa, New York. Your question or thought, ma`am.
VANESSA FROM NEW YORK: You know, I think that a positive spin should be put on it, where Chris Brown should be the poster child for those kids that are exposed to domestic violence and not get therapy, what happens. Because he`s the tested physical violence against his mother and he`s become that person. So I think that what should be done is he should be given therapy.
Well, let me ask you, Ken Baker, we`ve all been going around and around on this. Obviously, nobody wants him not to be punished. But because they`re both celebrities, people are watching this. This is an opportunity to learn.
He did see it when he was a child, reportedly. So it`s sort of like he`s a ticking time bomb because we know that people who see violence as children have a tendency to repeat it. Isn`t there something more that should be done beyond just throwing him in jail? Shouldn`t we use this as a learning experience?
BAKER: Yes. A lot of people are learning a lot about domestic violence through this case. Now, of course, that, I don`t think is what Rihanna or anyone really wished to come out of this. They`d rather that this never even happened in the first place.
But there`s an interesting -- the caller mentioned something interesting. That this cycle of violence that a lot of people have been speculating about caused Chris Brown to act out, allegedly, against Rihanna. And that was this.
There was an excerpt in the police affidavit about the arrest in which they said that Rihanna said that Chris said to her, in addition to saying I`m going to kill you, saying that, "When we get home, I`m going to beat the you know what out of you."
And a lot of people have looked at that line and said, that`s not something that a 19-year-old says, that`s something a 19-year-old has heard an adult say before and is repeating that.
BLOOM: Ok, but Jane. Jane, can I say one thing though?
BLOOM: We`ve got to start with some serious jail time for him. The defense is already floating the idea of a plea deal with no jail time. Yes, he should get therapy. Yes, we should understand the root causes. But this is a guy who`s accused of punching her in the face over and over again, choking her until she almost lost consciousness. There`s got to be some jail time here.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Lisa, Laura, Ken, thank you.
I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell. And you are watching "ISSUES" on HLN.