Edition: U.S. | Arabic | Set Pref

 

Return to Transcripts main page

ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Why Different Stories of Missing Girl?; Father Says Focus Should be on Haleigh; Rihanna-Chris Brown Outrage; Drugged to Death?

Aired March 13, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, strange love as Ronald Cummings, dad of missing 5-year-old Haleigh, ties the knot with girlfriend Misty Croslin. The two appear on "The Today Show" after yesterday`s massive ground search. Seemingly grasping for straws, cops reexamine inconsistencies in Misty`s story.

Meantime, Ron says Haleigh`s mom, Crystal, made up the story about Haleigh`s little brother seeing a man in black take his sister.

And shocking news as Anna Nicole Smith`s boyfriend is charged with eight felonies. Howard K. Stern accused of giving Smith thousands of prescription drugs leading up to the starlet`s deadly overdose in 2007. You will not believe the sheer number of pills authorities are talking about.

Then a crucial part of Casey Anthony`s defense strategy finally revealed as her dream team battles over more hair they say they found in Casey`s car.

CINDY ANTHONY, MOTHER OF CASEY ANTHONY: There`s something wrong. I saw my daughter`s car today. And it smells like there`s been a dead body in the damn car.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Could it be a break for Casey?

Plus, scandalous details emerge about the reported duet between Rihanna and alleged batterer, boy toy Chris Brown. Reports say it`s a sweet song about the challenges of love. The list of powerful women calling for Rihanna to leave Brown is piling up.

NANCY GRACE, HOST, "NANCY GRACE": FYI, I`m a woman, and I don`t have Brown`s back on this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: When will Rihanna get the message?

ISSUES starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely stunning news in the Haleigh Cummings investigation tonight. Authorities are reportedly questioning the many inconsistencies given to them by the missing girl`s new step-mom.

In a wedding shocker, Haleigh`s father Ron and his teen girlfriend Misty tied the knot in his grandmother`s backyard yesterday. The couple didn`t plan a honeymoon, but they did fly to New York to appear on NBC`s "Today Show." That`s where Misty, who was in charge of watching little Haleigh when the child disappeared, offered this stunning revelation about a recent shouting match with cops.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MISTY CROSLIN, WIFE OF HALEIGH`S FATHER: There was a new guy that was new to the case, and I didn`t feel comfortable with him. He was just being very rude to me. And I told John Merchant and the state attorneys I would talk to them, but I wasn`t going to talk to.

MEREDITH VIEIRA, CO-HOST, NBC`S "THE TODAY SHOW": What was he doing?

CROSLIN: He was rude, like yelling and telling me I`m a liar.

VIEIRA: So he was accusing you of lying to him?

CROSLIN: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is Misty getting defensive, given all the questions regarding her story about what happened the night little Haleigh went missing? "Today Show" host Meredith Vieira pressed Misty on those inconsistencies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VIEIRA: Why were there -- help me out, Misty. Why were there inconsistencies? Why would you say one thing one time and one time the other?

CROSLIN: I don`t know.

VIEIRA: But you know you did do that?

CROSLIN: Yes.

VIEIRA: And you`re not sure why?

CROSLIN: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She looks like a child to me. Is this the uncertainty of a 17-year-old or something else again?

Also, Ron lashed out at his ex, Haleigh`s biological mother. Remember that story from Haleigh`s little brought J.R. about a man in black taking Haleigh? Ron accused Haleigh`s mom, Crystal, of making all that up. But why? Why on earth would she have any reason to derail this investigation into finding her own daughter? Is this just part of the deepening rift between mother and father?

Right now, I am joined by my fantastic panel: Rebecca Rose Woodland, criminal defense attorney; Paul Callan, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; Steve Kardian, former criminal investigator; Jennifer Hartstein, clinical psychologist; and joining us by phone, T.J. Hart, program and news director at WSKY 97.3 FM.

T.J., you`ve broken a lot of details on this story. What is the very latest?

T.J. HART, WSKY NEWS DIRECTOR: The very latest right now, I just got off the phone with Captain Dick Schauland. I was talking about Misty`s appearance on television today.

And also a few things that she said in the past about passing the polygraph, to which he said the FBI takes that polygraph. No one knows if you completely pass or completely fail. Every question is pass/fail. And to blatantly say that you passed the polygraph is, well, maybe a bit disingenuous.

He also says that she continue to be the focal point of this because of those inconsistencies that was pointed out once again on the program this morning.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Steve Kardian, you`re a former criminal investigator. To me, this young lady looks like a child. She`s a very young-looking 17-year-old.

Would it be possible for someone to have the sophistication to go on national television and lie in this way? I mean, either this woman is a very gifted liar or she`s a very young girl who is caught in a firestorm and doesn`t know exactly how to handle it.

STEVE KARDIAN, FORMER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: It could be a combination of both, Jane. She doesn`t have an answer today. She didn`t have an answer the night that she reported the child missing. And I don`t think she`s going to have an answer in the future.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I just look at her, and I see somebody who might have been like a deer in the headlights when you say inconsistencies because in her defense, if somebody asks you something three or four times, you`re not going to say it as if it`s a script. And I`ll bring this to our psychologist, Jennifer Hartstein. You`re going to say it in different ways.

Oh, did you walk the dogs this morning? "Well, yes, I took them both out." Then if they ask me again, "Yes, well I went down the stairs." They ask me again, "Yes, well, we talked south." You see what I`m saying? It`s going to change a little bit. That doesn`t mean that I`m lying each time.

JENNIFER HARTSTEIN, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: No, you`re just offering more information each time. And that`s really what it comes down to. And the question you have is initially she`s on the defensive. And so many times, with teenagers, their first reaction is to protect themselves, protect the situation. They want to get defensive. And then little by little, they`ll let out more and more information.

So there`s bold-faced lying. And maybe it`s a lie of omission in that maybe she`s remembering more things, remembering more details each time, which tweak the story a little bit. And it`s letting us know what`s true, what`s not true, the reality. And she`s so young. I mean, and who knows the maturity level overall.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s get into this. Part of what has been so very bizarre about this search for little Haleigh has been these changing stories by Misty about what happened that night. So this morning, she was flat-out asked on "The Today Show" if cops suspect her of anything. This is what she said. Let`s listen carefully.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VIEIRA: And, Misty, as you sit here, do you believe in your heart that they see you as a suspect?

CROSLIN: No, I don`t.

RON CUMMINGS, FATHER OF HALEIGH: I don`t either. I talked to a lead detective. His name is John Merchant.

VIEIRA: And he said?

CUMMINGS: Nope. He doesn`t think that she`s a suspect.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Now, you heard that, T.J. You`ve been speaking to investigators. Is there an inconsistency between what the cops told you and what you just heard from "The Today Show" this morning?

HART: I think we`re talking apples and oranges. He says that the inconsistencies are focal point. He didn`t say Misty was a suspect. And that`s the difference there. So they`re going by the information that goes in a couple of different directions by the inconsistent statements.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Paul Callan, if she`s not a suspect, why not come out and say that, because this girl is under a lot of heat and a lot of pressure with everybody asking her.

And the suspicion is fueled by this information vacuum where authorities won`t confirm whether she passed the polygraph, or whether she`s still a suspect or not. Or ever was a suspect. In other words, they haven`t eliminated anybody as a suspect, but the focus has been on her because she was the last person, the last adult to see little Haleigh before she disappeared.

PAUL CALLAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, of course, and I think, Jane, it`s a stretch even to call her an adult. She`s 17 years old. And as you`ve indicated, you know, at that age, you know, everybody maybe has a tough time telling the same story twice the same way.

But I think she has not been ruled out. I mean, this is a wide-open investigation. Her story has got real holes in it anyway. I mean, this whole thing about, you know, her being in the house when the child was taken away and was she in the bathroom, or was she in the kitchen, who was in the bedroom. There are a lot of inconsistencies. And the police certainly are not going to rule her out definitively until their investigation is completed. So I`m not at all surprised that they`re unwilling to rule her out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But there`s something here that doesn`t add up. Rebecca Rose Woodland, everybody is talking about how she`s this kid, this 17-year-old, not sophisticated, but yet if, in fact, she were hypothetically involved in some way, she would have had to have pulled off something incredibly sophisticated to elude searches by hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of law enforcement authorities who are -- who are digging and searching all in that area.

REBECCA ROSE WOODLAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. I mean, Jane, really, she doesn`t seem sophisticated at all. She seems quite like you said before, a deer in the headlights. And she was on "The Today Show" and Ms. Vieira asked her that question. She just kind of sat there and didn`t know what to say. She looked at her now-husband, which is, again, bizarre.

I mean, this whole story has taken some bizarre turns, but the reality is, there is a missing child. And to have a child go missing with absolutely no clue and a 17-year-old be responsible, wow. This is really a fascinating development. But I -- it`s hard to say that she could have possibly done this or acted alone.

CALLAN: Hey, Jane -- Jane, can I jump in on this husband/wife thing, too?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

CALLAN: Because this is a question that`s come up to me all day long. People are asking this. Did he marry her, this 17-year-old girl, so that the spousal privilege, the husband/wife privilege will prevent the cops from doing further investigation?

You know, a lot of people may not be aware, but there`s a husband/wife privilege, and the police cannot question a husband about what his wife did in a crime and vice versa. So people are asking is that why he married her or is that why she married him?

The answer is, by the way, no, it can`t be, because that privilege only applies when people are married to each other. It would not prevent questioning about the disappearance of the child here. So it`s just a question that I think a lot of people are asking. Because you know, why is he marrying a 17-year-old girl at this time in this place? It just seems so inappropriate.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. But your nuanced interpretation of the law is something that they might not be aware of.

CALLAN: Well, they may not be. You`re absolutely right about that. Maybe they need a good lawyer, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We hear about spousal privilege in movies, you know and take our cues from the movies. All right, guys. Hang tight. Much more to come on the Haleigh Cummings case.

In other shocking news tonight, Anna Nicole Smith`s boyfriend charged with giving the starlet thousands of drugs that led ultimately to her fatal overdose. I will have the very latest.

And after getting married, Misty Croslin back under the microscope, as we`ve been saying. Cops looking at inconsistencies in her story. Here is one account of Haleigh`s disappearance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROSLIN: Usually Haleigh will wake up at nighttime. She gets cramps in her legs, you know. And I have to rub her legs to get the cramps out of her legs to get her back to sleep. And, you know, she didn`t make no noise that night. I would have woke up if I heard anyone. I didn`t hear anything at all. I was really exhausted that day, you know, really exhausted when I lay down, I guess. And I just was out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRYSTAL SHEFFIELD, MOTHER OF HALEIGH CUMMINGS: I just want to say thank you for everybody doing everything. Mommy loves you and your daddy loves you. We miss you. We`ll be right here. Please, bring her home. Please. We need her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Back with my fantastic panel. Just yesterday, authorities conducted an intensive search with about 100 officers. I understand, T.J. Hart, it was just a couple of miles from the Cummings home. Tell us about this search.

HART: This search was there at Buffalo Bluff road, which is the turn- in road off U.S. 17 that leads back into hermit`s cove where they live in Satsuma. It was on U.S. 17 between County Road 309 and Union Avenue, Crescent City. For the first time, they took a little bit of that -- of that trip about 30 miles out of either side to see if anything had been tossed out along the road, which is a major artery through the area. Nothing helpful to the case was found. But some other evidence closer to home was taken in.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What? Any idea?

HART: Yes. It was the home -- it was the back door to the mobile home where Ronald Cummings lived with Misty Croslin and the two children. Now, that house had been taken -- had been taken personally apart by investigators earlier, but they tore off the door and took that into the FDLE, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, for more forensic testing. And God only knows what they`re going to find. I know that I`ve got a fingerprint on there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Yes. How did you get a fingerprint on there?

HART: Doing the -- doing shows for CNN from the house.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. So Steve Kardian, too little too late? Maybe they should have taken that door the very first day.

KARDIAN: Oh, I agree. They should have taken that the very first -- the very first day, Jane, to compare that with anything that has developed up to that point and/or in the future. That`s something they should have done earlier.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I heard that there was no tip involved in this latest search. Rebecca Rose Woodland, I find that hard to believe, that they would have 100 officers descending on an area and searching intensively based on absolutely no tip. Do you buy it?

WOODLAND: No. I don`t. I don`t buy a lot of this. The door absolutely, why did we not have that door taken off immediately? Because the allegation is -- or let`s say the story is that she`s sleeping, Misty is sleeping, Haleigh is sleeping next to her on the bed on the mattress on the floor, odd, and the child disappears. That means someone -- either she walked out of the home, so her fingerprints would be on the door anyway, or someone entered the home, as we saw in the Jessica Lunsford case years ago, where that man entered the home and took the child out.

Well, if that`s the case, why wouldn`t -- why wouldn`t we look at the door? And there must be something. Why are they focusing on that one area on, what did we say, Route 17? Why are they focusing on that main swamp area for evidence or something thrown out of a car? Maybe someone called and said, "Hey, that night I remember seeing something strange or bizarre."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But they`re saying no tip whatsoever.

WOODLAND: I know. Come on, Jane. Maybe they don`t want to reveal it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why go out of their way to say no tip whatsoever? That`s what I`m saying. Say nothing at all?

KARDIAN: Jane, it would appear that their efforts have been concentrated on that area, are going to tell you a couple of things. No. 1, that they don`t have anything that`s directing them outside that area and/or, No. 1, that they do have some information that they`re not revealing that is making them concentrate on that area.

CALLAN: Well, or there`s a third possibility also, Steve, and that is, of course, that maybe they`re totally lost at this point. They don`t know where to look. And they`re just randomly selecting areas close to the home to search. And that`s a really bad sign for this child.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. It sure is. There`s reportedly also another bad sign, a deepening rift between Haleigh`s dad, Ron, and Haleigh`s mom, Crystal. He now questions the story of the man in black. Remember what Crystal said last month? Let`s listen carefully.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: I know this sounds crazy, but to the best of your recollection, what were his exact words?

SHEFFIELD: He said, "Mommy, I want to find my sissy, and some man in black come in and took her."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. But on NBC`s "Today Show" this morning, Ron was quizzed about this mysterious piece of the investigation. Watch how this information differed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VIEIRA: Your 4-year-old son and the fact that he said that somebody, a man dressed in black, had taken Haleigh out of the -- the trailer that night she disappeared. Did he tell that to either one of you? Misty, you were there at the time. Did he say anything to you at the time?

CROSLIN: Huh-uh.

VIEIRA: Nothing?

CROSLIN: No.

CUMMINGS: Me either. I think this is some of the garbage that Geraldo and Crystal, the mother, has made up, but I`m just going to leave that at that.

VIEIRA: So you don`t even believe that Ronald Jr. said this at all?

CUMMINGS: I don`t know. I wasn`t at home. I was at work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I wasn`t at home. That has nothing to do with it. Why would the mother have any reason to derail the investigation by making something up like this, Jennifer Hartstein, as a psychologist. It doesn`t make sense to me. Is this part of the deepening rift between mother and father?

HARTSTEIN: It could be. I mean, what motivation does she have? You`re right. She wants to find her daughter. You know, so there is definitely going to be a he said, she said, who`s in charge. She`s probably blaming him because Haleigh was in her house -- in his house, all of these things.

But there`s also the issue that it`s a 4-year-old child. And initially people descend on the house. He`s going to be frightened and afraid to say anything. So he`s going to -- and he sees his father uber worried with his girlfriend, now wife. He`s not going to know what to do. So he`s got to figure out who to go to, to talk to. Maybe he was more comfortable saying it to the mom. Maybe there isn`t anything and he`s trying to make everybody happy. There`s -- who knows the motivation of a 4-year-old?

And the issue between the two of them not being on the same page is really going to cause bigger problems overall.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and we only have about five seconds, but you had mentioned that it seems like Misty looks to Ron for answers. Five seconds. That has to tell you something, doesn`t it?

HARTSTEIN: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely.

I want to thank my excellent panel. To another high-profile case. Casey Anthony`s defense team in a fierce, and I mean fierce, battle over key evidence. We`re talking hair. Could this be a big break for Casey`s defense.

And a stunning twist in he Anna Nicole Smith death. Boyfriend Howard K. Stern charged with a slew of felonies. Is he responsible for something?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLIE TIGER, SEMINOLE POLICE CHIEF: We are convinced based on the extensive review of the evidence that this case is an accidental overdose with no other criminal elements present.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was the original take on Anna Nicole Smith`s death back in 2007. But in a staggering twist, her former boyfriend is now charged with supplying her with drugs. I will have the details. But first, tonight`s "Spotlight."

Accused murderer Casey Anthony was in court again this week, flanked by her star-studded defense team. One high-powered member played a starring role in yesterday`s hearing. We`re talking about famous forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee, who became a household name during the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Dr. Lee examined Casey`s car for the defense. And what he found could put the prosecution on the defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSE BAEZ, CASEY ANTHONY`S ATTORNEY: Now, I wanted to point out with this witness something that I -- I hope I -- I made clear. And that is Dr. Lee went in there, he inspected the vehicle, and he took them to school and basically showed them many items that they did not find.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Could Dr. Lee be putting his infamous stamp on this case? Defense attorney Jose Baez implied that criminologists bungled the job and that Lee found 17 hairs -- 17 hairs -- and several stains in Casey`s car that were not found by investigators.

I am joined by Paul Callan, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor. You were involved in the O.J. Simpson case where the phrase "garbage in, garbage out" was first coined. Meaning the way evidence was collected was so sloppy it was totally ruined. I am personally getting the impression we`re starting to see the same strategy here. What do you think?

CALLAN: Oh, we`re definitely seeing that strategy. And you know, I can`t overemphasize how effective Dr. Henry Lee has been as a witness in cases like this. He`s got impeccable credentials. He`s considered to be a very serious forensic scientist.

And if he, Jane, is now saying, "I examined the car and I found 17 hairs and stains that were not found by prosecution experts," that`s a severe allegation of contamination, either contamination of the crime scene or gross bungling and not finding key evidence.

Remember, this is a circumstantial evidence case. So that evidence, that stuff in the trunk, is what makes or breaks this case. So this is a big, big story.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Up until now, we had only heard about one hair. And this hair sample that the investigators, the police investigators, found in the trunk of Casey`s car were so small that the judge actually ruled the defense cannot test it because there wasn`t enough of a sample.

Now we`re hearing about suddenly about 17 hairs that Dr. Lee found. That`s a tremendous discrepancy. So how do police make sure that the evidence that the defense says they collected was actually collected from that car? Are they there photographing Dr. Lee when he`s collecting evidence?

CALLAN: Yes. Traditionally, there will be a police officer and usually a police expert watching while the examination goes forward. And usually, they videotape these things, as well.

One of the things they may claim going down the road is that the hairs that Henry Lee found were maybe left by police investigators as they initially went over the trunk themselves and that this, in essence, was no longer an uncontaminated crime scene.

But to present this to a jury and to try to make a compelling case, I think prosecutors are in a problem.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got to leave it there. I guess it depends on whose hair it is. And we might find out soon. Thank you, Paul.

New reports flood in about Rihanna`s duet with Chris Brown. Is it a lovey-dovey song about relationships? Is that sick?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN ANCHOR: Shocking news as Anna Nicole Smith`s boyfriend is charged with eight felonies. Howard K. Stern accused of giving Smith thousands of prescription drugs, leading up to the starlet`s deadly overdose in 2007. You will not believe the sheer number of pills authorities are talking about.

Plus, bizarre twists in Foxy Knoxy`s sex game murder trial. New reports claim Amanda Knox was hitting herself in the head before being questioned about her roommate`s 2007 death. I`ll have the latest shocking details.

A stunning development in the tragic death of Anna Nicole Smith in just moments.

First, global outrage over the reported reconciliation between beaten pop star, Rihanna and her alleged abuser, boyfriend Chris Brown. Perhaps Rihanna is too busy partying to hear all the warnings.

This week, she has been out clubbing. We`ve seen her out there. We now have confirmation that she and her alleged batterer were in the studio recording a duet, of all things. It`s reportedly about the challenges of a love relationship. Perhaps there`s a lyric in there about ducking punches.

Extremely influential women have been reaching out to Rihanna all week long, but when will Rihanna take out the ear plugs and start listening to these dire warnings that if she stays with him, it will happen again? Is she doomed to repeat history by staying with Chris Brown?

These warnings come from Oprah, Campbell Brown, comedienne Ellen DeGeneres, supermodel Tyra Banks and, of course, from the woman who has been the biggest advocate for victims of domestic violence anywhere, HLN`s own Nancy Grace.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY GRACE, "NANCY GRACE SHOW" HOST: Am I supposed to pretend he didn`t beat the crap out of her?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no not at all, not at all and I`m not supporting Chris Brown on this.

GRACE: Just because P. Diddy got them back together and is all proud about it? That`s supposed to mean something to me? It doesn`t.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now it is time for all women to join us, female TV pundits to create a new feminist movement. One in which we will declare we will not accept male violence against women as business as usual, period.

To paraphrase the immortal words of Howard Beal in the classic movie "Network," we`re mad as hell and we`re not going to take it anymore.

Joining me to dive into this topic three powerful articulate women: Rebecca Rose Woodland, a criminal defense attorney; Jennifer Hartstein, clinical psychologist; and my dear friend Diane Dimond, journalist and author of "Be Careful Who You Love.

What a great title for this subject, Diane.

DIANE DIMOND, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: That`s right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, we`re supposedly in this post-feminist era where women are so busy worrying about their own careers and their families --

DIMOND: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They don`t have the time to do the kinds of collective protests for example women did back in the `60s and the `70s. But could the collective outrage we`re seeing over this case spark a new wave of feminism?

DIMOND: Well, that`s a really good question. I`m not sure I`m ready to go out burn my bra in a public square --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead.

DIMOND: Again, but, yes, I mean, I see it everywhere. This is really a water-cooler topic, isn`t it?

You know, Rihanna, wake up. That`s what I have to say. Jane, you and I have both covered so many domestic abuse violence cases and we cover them and we cover them and then we go back and we cover the murder case that follows.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

DIMOND: It doesn`t get any better. There`s not a one case that I can remember where a woman stayed with the man and he just got all better about it. It doesn`t cure itself. You have to get yourself out of the relationship, period.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I do believe that there is redemption. I would certainly be much more depressed about life if I didn`t believe that people can change. But I also know having done many years of therapy myself, we`ll go to the psychologist on this, that change does not happen quickly.

It`s not an event. It`s a long, slow process. And that`s what I think is so upsetting about this Rihanna reconciliation is that it happened so quickly. It would be one thing if she got back together with him in two years after he did a lot of therapy and anger management and counseling and speaking to kids and working on himself.

JENNIFER HARTSTEIN, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Right, exactly. And I think the challenge is, you know, life is a journey, as is your therapeutic process. And it`s not event to event. And unfortunately, also due to their age, but just because we are instinct gratification culture we see event and event and event instead of the longer-term process.

So it`s like, oh, he apologized, it`s all great. I love him, I love him, I love him. Yes and we go back. And it`s really problematic. And I think it`s very short sighted and it`s really scary because as you have mentioned, it could end up in her death; that could lead to more beatings.

He hasn`t changed. He`s apologized. Maybe he`s sworn he`d never do it again. And this is really the bigger problem. And why more women go back and end up dead and end up in abusive relationships for longer periods of time because they do believe change is instant.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, we`ve got some breaking news to tell you about in this case. I`m going to go Rebecca on this. As a criminal defense attorney, sources are telling us that Brown`s attorney, Mark Garagos, who is a famous attorney in his own right, wants to meet with the judge to discuss Rihanna getting a pass on having to testify against Chris Brown.

And his argument is going to be that her privacy was violated when her name surfaced as a victim in this case.

REBECCA ROSE WOODLAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Of course he does.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And when her photograph surface and so he wants actually an in-chambers meeting with the prosecution and the judge on March 23rd before the arraignment, which was postponed until April 6th.

WOODLAND: Yes, nice try, Mark Garagos, but quite frankly, we all heard those 911 tapes. We`ve heard -- we saw her picture. Really, her privacy was violated? How about Chris Brown beat her to a pulp?

Absolutely not. She needs to go in and testify. And at some point, even if she does feel a certain way about him, she needs to understand this man needs help. And he needs a lot of help before she can in any way reconcile with him as a relationship.

Tina Turner, look at what we saw with Tina Turner. And unfortunately, look what we saw with O.J. Brown (SIC) and Nicole Brown Simpson -- O.J. Simpson I`m sorry. I mean, we don`t want to see this happen again. She needs to go into court to testify. We have the evidence. We need her also. Come on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me just say in all fairness, he has not even issued a plea yet.

WOODLAND: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The arraignment was postponed and he hasn`t been convicted of anything. We haven`t gotten to trial. Hearing what some teens say about the Rihanna-Chris Brown relationship will leave you totally speechless.

Listen to this clip from Oprah yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know what? To be honest, I feel sad for her this much. Maybe she`s so caught up in this love thing, I don`t -- I don`t really feel too bad for her because she`s giving him that ok to probably do it again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I kind of think she deserved it. Because there was pictures of her like kind of striking him first. Like I always believe if the girl has enough nerves to hit a boy, then she, like, she should get hit back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What?

HARTSTEIN: Oh, my God.

DIMOND: As the mother of a daughter, can I tell you how disturbed I am to hear young people speak like this? And this is the thing that bothers me the most about this whole case, Jane.

Do the young people think it`s cool to have a relationship like this? Do they think it`s ok that if one -- the woman, the girl in this case, throws somebody`s keys out the window she gets to have a beat down on her face?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right.

DIMOND: That`s the thing that bothers me the most. And can I just say about Mark Garagos, that makes me worry -- your little piece of breaking news there, Jane, because he`s not a stupid man.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s not.

DIMOND: I wonder if the fixes are already and she has agreed not to testify against him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, all of this is why I say we have to use this as an opportunity to really change how society thinks about crimes against women in general.

On this show, we do something called the "War on Women."

And let`s face it. This is an opportunity. You know, we didn`t have this many women on television 15, 20 years ago when Nicole Brown was getting beaten up. We didn`t have "The View." We didn`t have Nancy Grace.

DIMOND: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We didn`t have all of these women who have a voice now. And we, as women who have a voice, need to get together and change the way we cover these stories. I`ve been a reporter for 30 years and I can`t tell you the anger having to report murder of a woman, murder of a woman, murder of a woman, year after year.

DIMOND: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Never being able to give an opinion. Well, now we have a voice. We have to say, "This has to stop." Police have to take these crimes more seriously. Judges have to take these crimes more seriously ...

DIMOND: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Rebecca.

WOODLAND: Yes, absolutely.

I mean, you know, Mark Garagos can ask for whatever he`d like, but I hope the judge does not agree. And oh, well, her privacy was violated, absolutely not. That is nothing to do with the fact that she was beaten by Chris Brown and there needs to be testimony and he needs to get whatever -- granted, he has a right -- I`m a defense attorney.

He has a right to a defense. Absolutely. But I want to see Rihanna stand up and say what happened so we all know what happened. And if he is found guilty, well, then he is and he needs to do whatever time or whatever the judge determines.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let me just say, I don`t think it can just be the women on television. It has to be all women coming together. Get involved.

WOODLAND: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that`s what we really need. We need to use this as an opportunity to coalesce.

Rebecca, Diane, and Jennifer, thank you so much. Please come back soon.

DIMOND: Thanks, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stunning news to report in the death of Anna Nicole Smith. New charges against former boyfriend Howard K. Stern suggests he may have played a role in supplying drugs to her that ultimately resulted in her 2007 overdose. These are new allegations. I`ll have the jaw-dropping details next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely stunning news to report in the death of Anna Nicole Smith: as new charges suggest, people allegedly supplied her with the drugs that ultimately led to her accidental death.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.

Bizarre twists in the Amanda Knox sex game murder trial. Foxy Knoxy on trial in Italy for the 2007 stabbing of her roommate, Meredith Kercher, who died. We already heard reports that Knox was doing cartwheels and splits before her interrogation.

Well, new reports claim she was also hitting herself in the head. Is that the behavior of an innocent person? Meantime, her then-boyfriend had a big knife on him allegedly when cops nabbed him in 2007. Along with Knox, he is charged with murder and sexual assault.

Here on ISSUES I will update you with the very latest developments in this truly strange case. That is tonight`s "Top of the Block."

Tonight, a startling development in the mysterious 2007 death of Anna Nicole Smith: her one-time lover and lawyer, Howard K. Stern, arrested for his part in an alleged conspiracy to fuel her with prescription drugs. The twisted plot is unraveling before our eyes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERRY BROWN, CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: So what we have in this case is a conspiracy among three individuals: Howard K. Stern is the principle enabler; Dr. Eroshevich and Dr. Kapoor are prescribing drugs excessively to a known addict and using false and fictitious names all in violation of the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Prosecutors say for three straight years, Stern and two of Anna Nicole`s doctors unlawfully provided the playboy playmate and supermodel with thousands -- thousands -- of pills including many antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. That gives us a totally new perspective on the bizarre and puzzling behavior we witnessed in this home video right there, shot by Howard Stern and shown in court two years ago.

Could the man who declared his love and dedication to Anna Nicole Smith under oath turn out to have had a hand in her demise? A question for my expert panel: Bradford Cohen, criminal defense attorney; Carlos Diaz, correspondent with "Extra" and our very own A.J. Hammer, host of "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT."

A.J., first we`ve got to go back --

A.J. HAMMER, HLN "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" HOST: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- and remember how huge this story was at the time two years ago. It was octo-mom and Rihanna and five other stories wrapped into one, wasn`t it?

HAMMER: No kidding, it was a circus. It was a soap opera and remember, the whole Anna Nicole Smith fascination goes all the way back 15 years now when she married that billionaire, J. Howard Marshall.

Then he dies. They fought over the money for years. That battle was still going on. Back in 2006 she announces she`s pregnant. Later that year, she gives birth to Dannielynn. Her son Daniel dies, February of `07 she dies and then the paternity battle.

It went on and on and on with this cast of characters straight out of central casting.

Jane, octo-mom has got nothing on Anna Nicole Smith.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely not. Howard K. Stern and the two doctors have been charged with providing Anna Nicole Smith with drugs unlawfully. Now, they have not been charged with her murder. I want to clarify that. Just a reminder of what cops said back in 2007.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF CHARLIE TIGER, SEMINOLE POLICE DEPARTMENT: We are convinced based on the extensive review of the evidence that this case is an accidental overdose with no other criminal elements present.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bradford Cohen, there is a difference between supplying somebody with drugs and actually stuffing them in her mouth.

BRADFORD COHEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Since she was a 39-year-old adult, ultimately they ruled it an accidental death. Under the assumption that she, as an adult, chose to take those drugs that were supplied to her and take them herself.

COHEN: Correct and that`s the big thing here. A lot of people are associating the death with Howard K. Stern, that he`s responsible for it. And that`s not what they`re saying. What they`re essentially saying is that he was an enabler.

And, you know, in reading the complaint against Howard K. Stern and these other two doctors, it`s going to be a very difficult case to prove against Howard K. Stern. In terms of -- that he went to go pick up prescriptions, they`re not actually -- he didn`t actually prescribe obviously, because he`s not a doctor.

So it`s going to be a tough case to prove against him. Because if that was true, any assistant in Hollywood that goes to pick up prescriptions for any of their employers would be criminally liable.

So I think it`s going to be very difficult to prove this case against Howard K. Stern.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, it absolutely.

Carlos Diaz, you know, remember Dr. Perper, the medical examiner who became famous in this case?

CARLOS DIAZ, "EXTRA": Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And he said that she had a long history of drug addiction and self-medication. She may have taken doses that she was accustomed to, but she succumbed because she was already weakened. Remember, she had a flu when she died and she also had ...

DIAZ: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... an infection in her buttocks because she has been injecting B-12 shots into her butt, essentially.

DIAZ: Yes. And that`s the thing, too. I mean, a lot of people forget with this case, we were all waiting. We were waiting with baiting breath as to the cause of death. And we had to wait for the toxicology reports to come back. And when they finally came back, it was just a combination of drugs. And that was it.

There wasn`t any kind of smoking gun. And I agree with your lawyer. I think it`s going to be very difficult to find Howard K. Stern guilty of anything for these specific reasons he pointed out because he was just picking up the drugs.

And also keep in mind, Howard K. Stern, whether you like him or not, is a brilliant man as far as, you know, being a lawyer. And he knows how to -- he knows what to do in court. A lot of people forget that he was the one who wanted Anna Nicole buried in the Bahamas. He got what he wanted. I think he`s going to get what he wants in this case, which is very little penalty in this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s get in to the details. In the months following the death of Anna Nicole Smith, Howard K. Stern publicly insisted he never gave drugs to Anna Nicole. According to the California attorney general, the evidence says otherwise.

Remember the photos obtained by TMZ. They show her refrigerator stocked with methadone. TMZ also got a hold of a prescription for methadone written out to Anna Nicole by one of the doctors who was arrested last night 13 days before she gave birth to her baby Dannielynn.

What about the irresponsibility, Bradford Cohen, of prescribing that to a very pregnant woman?

COHEN: Oh, certainly that`s -- that`s the crux of it is the doctors. The doctors are at the center of this. That`s why I`m saying it`s going to be hard to prove against Howard K. Stern.

But these doctors -- in looking at these type of cases, and I handle a lot of cases for pain clinic downs in south Florida, you have to look at the legitimacy of them prescribing these pills. Is it for a medical, legitimate purpose?

And in this case, one of the doctors I think prescribed methadone and Xanax when she was eight, seven or eight months pregnant; another one who was prescribing these things up until 13 or 14 days before her death.

So that`s really the -- the main center and the focus of this investigation ...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right.

COHEN: ... I would say would be into those doctors. And I don`t think they`re going to be able prove that these were for legitimate purposes especially when someone`s pregnant.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh especially when somebody is pregnant.

A.J. Hammer, we saw so, so much video of Anna Nicole smith slurring her way to award shows and on home videos. She was clearly intoxicated. Was this, for Hollywood, the ultimate de-glamorization of the drug culture?

A.J. HAMMER, HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": Yes, I think it was in a way. And of course the video that you were showing a moment ago, the clown face video that Howard K. Stern shot of her, that is an image that I think is going to forever be burned into our collective memories. And if not, well, this was an opportunity to see it again, wasn`t it?

But really it was what we came to expect from her. We would go onto her Web site. We would watch her video diaries. When she announced she was pregnant, you know, she didn`t seem all with it. Did she own up to being on drugs or alcohol at any of those times? No, but people were making judgments for themselves earlier.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, everyone, stay right there. More shockers in the death of Anna Nicole Smith when we come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD K. STERN, ANNA NICOLE SMITH`S FORMER BOYFRIEND: She was my best friend, my lover, the mother of my daughter. She`s everything to me. I mean, literally everything, the whole world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was Howard K. Stern, now formally accused of supplying Anna Nicole Smith with drugs. Anna Nicole`s bizarre behavior wasn`t limited to home video or TV. It made its way onto shows like "Larry King Live." Listen to her slurring her way through interview about her dramatic weight loss.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNA NICOLE SMITH: It was depression from reliving the trials.

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Yes.

SMITH: From my husband. Twice. That`s why I got fat twice. And nobody understands that. Nobody cares because they think I`m a gold digger. And it`s not true. I love my husband and I had to relive that over. I had to keep reliving this court thing. You know, it depressed me. It depressed me to hear the awful things that I had to hear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Carlos Diaz, we all saw and heard her slur so many times and Howard K. Stern was always there with her looking sober as a judge.

CARLOS DIAZ, REPORTER, "EXTRA": Yes, you know but here`s the thing. I don`t want to come on and start ripping on Howard K. Stern. Because whether you like him or not, okay, he did have a bond with Anna Nicole Smith. And he still does miss her. And to have to be brought back into this once again, it`s -- it`s tough for him to kind of keep reliving the Anna Nicole Smith thing over and over again.

And you know, I`m not, like, you know, sitting here trying to defend the guy. But imagine if you lost someone close to you, whether you like the guy or not, you have to feel for him that you have to keep going through this over and over again.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, he always said he never supplied drugs to her and we`ll have to see how it plays out in court. He`s innocent until proven guilty but again a lot of people including Larry Birkhead said that he did. So we`ll have to bait and see.

What`s happening with little Dannielynn, that`s what I would like to know? Do you know, A.J. Hammer, she`s the sole heir to this huge fortune from a former husband of Anna Nicole`s who was an oil tycoon but that interesting part is that the co-trustees of that estate, Birkhead and Stern, together.

HAMMER: Yes. Well, now you still have the money hung up in the court system, Jane. So you know, in terms of the inheritance from J. Howard Marshall and just today, E. Pierce Marshall`s widow; that`s the son -- or the daughter in law I should say of the late J. Howard Marshall has come out and said, "You know what? I don`t want them being able to get at this money still." So this is still going on.

And in fact coming up on Monday on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" I just found out, remember crying judge Larry Seidlin who decided where the body would be buried? He`s appearing on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" and I`m so interested to get his take and to see if he keeps a clear eye.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to keep it right there.

Joshua Perper, the medical examiner is on "NANCY GRACE" tonight.

Thank you so much, fabulous panel.

I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell and you are watching ISSUES on HLN.

END

Home  |  Asia  |  Europe  |  U.S.  |  World  |  World Business  |  Technology  |  Entertainment  |  World Sport  |  Travel
Podcasts  |  Blogs  |  CNN Mobile  |  RSS Feeds  |  Email Alerts  |  CNN Radio  |  Site Map
© 2009 Cable News Network. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.