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Three Charged with Providing Drugs to Anna Nicole Smith; Lindsay Lohan Getting Special Treatment?

Aired March 16, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... outrageous new details in the tragic downfall of a superstar, as Anna Nicole Smith`s script doctor and so-called friend turns herself in. Dr. Eroshevich is accused of supplying the former Playboy playmate with a killer dose of drugs, allegedly authorizing all the meds found in the Hollywood hotel room where Smith passed out shortly before her death. I`ll have the very latest.

Lindsay Lohan, off the hook again, as a judge says, "never mind" to a warrant for her arrest. The tabloid queen, on probation for a DUI, blames a misunderstanding and the paparazzi for an apparent mix-up involving her alcohol education classes. Was this really just a misunderstanding or another celebrity let off the hook?

Are we in for a crackdown in the Caylee Anthony case? As a slew of shocking details about accused child murderer Casey Anthony and her family keep seeping out, law enforcement officials issue an edict: put a lid on the leaks. Could the steady stream of embarrassing leaks cripple the prosecution`s case?

Then, unbelievable news in the Rihanna/Chris Brown saga. A stunning twist in that story about the duo`s late-night recording sessions. Did the stars really make beautiful music together? And if so, when?

Plus, more outrageous allegations against Drew Peterson. His stepbrother speaking out about his suspicions that the former police sergeant was planning to kill. I`ll have the chilling details.

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, stunning developments in the death of Anna Nicole Smith. Smith`s psychiatrist and so-called friend, Dr. Khristine Eroshevich, has turned herself in and is now behind bars.

Dr. Eroshevich, accused of being in a conspiracy with Smith`s one-time boyfriend and lawyer, Howard K. Stern, along with another doctor. The three are accused of conspiring to supply the former "Playboy" playmate with drugs, lots of them.

Authorities say Anna Nicole was a notorious addict. One, they should have known better. Prosecutors add the conspiracy had, quote, tragic consequences. In other words, she died.

Dr. Eroshevich allegedly authorized the meds found in the Florida hotel room where Smith passed out shortly before her death. The doc`s lawyer admitted that his client wrote some of the prescriptions using fictitious names for Smith, but insists she did so to protect the star`s privacy.

California`s attorney general says Howard K. Stern was Anna Nicole`s chief enabler, but Stern`s lawyer claims this case should not be tried in the court of public opinion. Stern`s lawyers questioned the motivation of the A.G. on CNN`s LARRY KING LIVE.


KRISTA BARTH, ATTORNEY FOR HOWARD K. STERN: There are sometimes political motivations for things that are done. You have to ask why is this case important to so many when what Attorney General Brown is talking about is a pervasive over-prescription of prescription drugs?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But the sheer number of drugs available to Smith immediately jumps to mind whenever you see bizarre images like this one.


STERN: This footage is worth money.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s remember one important thing: these three are not charged with murder. Anna Nicole Smith`s death was ruled an accidental overdose, and she was an adult, theoretically capable of making up her own mind. But does that apply to an addict? A question for my expert panel.

Stacy Honowitz, Florida prosecutor; and John -- Jonna Spilbor, criminal defense attorney; Vinny Parco, private investigator; Dr. Reef Karim, director of the Beverly Hills Center for Lifestyle Addictions and assistant clinical professor at UCLA; and Ken Baker, executive news editor for "E! "

Ken, I know you`ve been tracking this case from the start. What do you make of these new conspiracy charges?

KEN BAKER, EXECUTIVE NEWS EDITOR, "E!": Well, I think to people who were around Howard K. Stern and Anna Nicole Smith during the time when she was alive, they know that Howard K. Stern would literally do anything for Anna Nicole. And if these charges proved true, he went too far. He simply took it too far. He was obsessed with her. He loved her. And if he broke the law doing that, then shame on him.

But clearly, as his lawyer is stating, we don`t know exactly what happened. We don`t know if these charges can stick. It certainly seems as though the doctors who in conspiracy with him, allegedly, would definitely have violated some serious laws.

You know, you have to look at this. This was a multi-agency investigation. You had the state attorney general, the L.A. D.A.`s office, the Drug Enforcement Agency. The initial raided, in late 2007, the offices. So this has been going on for a long time. They took a lot of care in investigating this before putting forth the charges.

So the fact that they finally came out, they have a lot on these three characters. And it`s going to be a long story. This is going to happen for a very long time. And like you said, the psychiatrist was just arrested. She did post bail, by the way, $20,000. She is free. All three are free now, and we wait for them to face their arraignment.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Stacy Honowitz, a lot of people are saying, OK, a better case against the doctors than Howard K. Stern. However, according to prosecutors, some of the drugs were allegedly prescribed in his name and the reports are that more than 600 pills were missing for prescriptions that were only weeks old, including Valium, Vicodin, Xanax, Ambien, Methadone.

So what do you think of the case against Howard K. Stern? Could it stick or not?

STACY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, I think -- we don`t know all the facts, but certainly what the prosecutors and the attorney general is alleging is very detailed.

And if you look back at some of the trial testimony from the burial trial that took place down here, Howard K. Stern was questioned very in depth by the judge on that case with regard to his involvement in getting these drugs. So certainly, it doesn`t take a brain surgeon to figure out that he was -- she was everything to him.

So he had to be responsible in some way for calling in the prescription, using the fake names, asking the doctors to fill those prescriptions and then picking up the prescriptions themselves. So I think that, if all of that can be proven, the case against Howard K. Stern is just as strong as the cases against the doctors.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And a big caveat. If all that can be proven. We don`t know that yet.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Howard K. Stern was Anna Nicole`s lawyer and a former boyfriend. During the court battle over her remains, as you just heard from Stacy, he was asked about Smith`s drug use. Listen to this.


STERN: Anna Nicole was on prescription medication at different times. When you say drugs, I don`t want to give the impression she was using anything illegal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was she abusing these drugs? Was she taking too many of them?

STERN: Look, I`m not a doctor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She took methadone prior to the last five months?

STERN: She did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And are you aware that methadone is a narcotic?

STERN: Sir, I know it`s a prescription medicine. It may or may not be a narcotic.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So Dr. Reef Karim, you`re the addiction specialist. He`s making a distinction there between legal and illegal drugs. Does that distinction really matter?

DR. REEF KARIM, DIRECTOR, BEVERLY HILLS CENTER FOR LIFESTYLE ADDICTIONS: Yes, this highlights a huge problem. We in this country are in a prescription drug abuse epidemic. And when I say abuse and dependence, we`re talking about pills that are prescribed by your doctor, by medical physicians.

You know, if there was a bag of cocaine in front of someone and a bunch of pill bottles, you wouldn`t think anything of the pill bottles, because they`re being prescribed by the doctor. But here`s the thing: they have synergistic affects. So a Vicodin, a methadone, these are narcotic analgesics. They`ll slow your respiratory drive, and you can O.D. on these pills.

And the Valiums and the Xanax and the Klonopins and Atavans all taken together, in combination, can kill you. These are all good drugs, but they have to be really regulated when they`re prescribed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, I agree with you. I think that there is an epidemic in this country, and I think the fact that something is legal doesn`t make it ethically correct, morally correct or correct in terms of your health. And I think this is a problem. Perhaps something good can come out of this horrific tragedy. And people need to look in the mirror and say, "Hey, why am I taking these drugs?"

Dr. Karim, isn`t the key question the intention? If you`re taking it for a legitimate reason, because you`re in pain, your doctors prescribe them. I`m a recovering alcoholic, I`ll have, hopefully, by the end of this month, 14 years of sobriety. It`s all about when you go to the doctor, if it`s absolutely necessary.

The second it becomes unnecessary, or you`re doing it to escape, or you`re doing it because you want to just zone out, then that becomes drug abuse.

KARIM: Yes, absolutely. I mean, in my business it`s called non- medical use of medications. Are you using it medically as prescribed, or are you using it for non-medical reasons, to get high, to get off, to escape, to do whatever you`re using it for?

It`s really important here also that when, you know -- I consulted a number of rehab facilities. And when somebody goes to rehab for drug addiction, a big part of this is A.A. and the community fellowship and the sober community. Another part of it is to minimize the symptoms, to decrease the symptoms, to decrease the cravings. And we use these medications to do that.

But as somebody slowly tapers off the medications, as they get better, as they leave the rehab program, when they`re out in the real world, when they reintegrate and do whatever it is they`re doing, they`re supposed to do off. And we use these medications to do that. But as somebody slowly tapers off the medications, as they get better, as they leave the rehab program...


KARIM: ... when they`re out in the real world, when they reintegrate and do whatever it is they`re doing, they`re supposed to do off.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Vinny Parco, I`ve got to jump in. I want to get Vinny Parco. You have investigated, as a private eye, medical fraud. What do you make of the doctor`s explanation that Nicole suffered a nervous breakdown in September 2006 because of the death of her son, which also had drugs involved, and therefore, she was so overcome with grief, she had to administer something to help this woman cope with this tragedy?

VINNY PARCO, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Well, you know, I work for the state board of medicine before I became a private investigator, and we prosecuted many cases like this. A doctor has a responsibility to prescribe the correct medication, not just give a patient what they want. You have to give them what they need. And in this particular case, they were overmedicated.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. And everybody, we are going to just get into this subject much more. I love the idea that we`re talking about this silent epidemic in America.

Much more to discuss about a very troubling case. And I want to hear from you. Do you think Anna Nicole`s former attorney/boyfriend was motivated by the millions she stood to inherit? Give me a call: 1-877-JVM- SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Then, do you love me enough to kill for me? The question Drew Peterson asked allegedly his stepbrother days before his fourth wife, Stacy, went missing. I will have the shocking details.

But first, Anna Nicole`s former boyfriend, Howard K. Stern, on the stand fighting for custody of her body.


STERN: She was my best friend, my lover, the mother of my daughter, everything to me. Everything. The whole world.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was she abusing these drugs? Was she taking too many of them?

STERN: Look, I`m not a doctor.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Howard K. Stern, Anna Nicole Smith`s lawyer and one- time boyfriend, making a distinction between Anna Nicole`s prescribed meds and illegal drugs. But does it matter in the end whether drugs are legal or illegal, if they hurt you?

Back with my panel. Phone lines lighting up.

Dawn, California, your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: Yes. What I was wondering -- OK, now Howard Stern was -- allegedly picked up his meds -- picked up Anna`s meds. And if he`s found guilty of contributing to her death by doing that, how can that affect other people? Other cases?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, in other words, you`re saying that that could set a precedent. Well, Jonna Spilbor, do you think this case could set a precedent?

JONNA SPILBOR, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I do think it could set a precedent, because here`s what I have a problem with, Jane. There is merit to the privacy argument. Why do I say that?

Let me take my favorite actor. George Clooney isn`t going to be waving a prescription around CVS for something embarrassing like E.D. Why? Because he`s a famous person, and you cannot have privacy as a famous person, even though the law says it`s none of the doctor`s business to disclose it, the pharmacist can`t disclose it. Famous people, their private information is sold to the highest bidder. We know that.

So it makes sense to me that a doctor or a lover would try to protect Anna Nicole`s identity in gathering these prescriptions. So that part to me is not criminal.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Stacy, maybe that`s a great argument for Howard K. Stern and the doctors to use: "Hey, the reason we used fictitious names, and I put in my name, is that she`s a famous person. And we didn`t want this all over the tabloids."

KARIM: A lot of this -- a lot of this comes down to controlled substance. It`s a controlled substance. If it`s -- you know, she`s right. I mean, this happens all the time where if there`s celebrities or famous people, where there`s a lot of pressure on us doctors to help with the anonymity in regards to the pharmacy and in regards to the meds. Often, their manager picks up the meds.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. Stacy, is that...

HONOWITZ: I mean, the bottom line is, Jane, you have to talk about over-prescription. One prescription someone could see the famous person didn`t want their drug to get out.

But in this case and in the 11 counts against each one -- or how many counts are there, the over-prescription, the amount of pills that were used, the amount of times -- you know that these doctors write on every prescription how many refills somebody can get. It`s a different story with controlled substance, and that`s what you`re dealing with here.

The amount of pills, the amount of prescriptions, the amount of times that they were filled, knowing, of course, that she was an addict.


HONOWITZ: And then you have to start make a decision as to whether or not pharmacies now have to be clued in. And that`s why there needs to be some kind of electronic network so that everybody is on board to know how many prescriptions this person is actually getting.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And if we have any doubts that this is a serious problem, let`s go once again to that infamous clown video of Anna Nicole Smith.


STERN: People are going to say you`ve lost your mind.


STERN: They think you`ve lost your mind. He thinks you have. Is this a mushroom trip?


STERN: Is this a mushroom trip?


STERN: Is this a mushroom trip?

SMITH: What do you mean?

STERN: I`m kidding. I`m kidding.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Vinny Parco, do you think that this will be used in the trial if there is a trial?

PARCO: Definitely. It was public knowledge that she was doing drugs. Everybody knew about it. I mean, it was always in the tabloids that she was -- she was a known drug addict. So the doctors knew she was a drug addict. So by giving her even legal drugs, they were acting in an illegal capacity.

BAKER: I don`t think you can say -- how can you say she was a drug addict? She`d never been in rehab. That was never something that was proved. She had some serious issues. She did like to party, but I don`t know how you can say she was a drug addict. She clearly did like to party. If you watch any of the "E!" reality series that ran, she was always having fun and partying, was never far from a bottle. But at the same time, we don`t know she was a drug addict.

Look, I think one thing I do agree with on this panel is that she definitely was a celebrity and that this case has everything to do with celebrity. When Jerry Brown went -- where the attorney general in California gave the press conference after the charges were filed and after they were all arrested last Thursday, he said he wanted to use this case to make an example of the larger problem.

And so that clearly -- what he`s doing is using Anna Nicole`s death and the celebrity that she had to make an example of doctors and people who conspire to break laws to get drugs to people. And so it has everything to do with celebrity. But I would be really careful before we go and call someone a drug addict and say that they knew she was a drug addict. Because the truth is, we really don`t know that.


PARCO: The amount of drugs that she received, the amount of drugs in the prescriptions, I didn`t see the entire list, but a normal person cannot take that amount of drugs. It`s impossible.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Look...

HONOWITZ: And Jane, one other thing: there`s no different rules between celebrities and regular people.


HONOWITZ: Doctors get in trouble for writing fictitious prescriptions. And there`s no separate statute because you have a celebrity you get to get away with it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Candy, South Carolina, I know you want to get your question in. Your thought, ma`am.

CALLER: Yes, ma`am. Thanks for taking my call. I wanted to say it makes me sick how many people say how much Howard loved Nicole when -- I mean, Anna, I`m sorry. When it`s obvious what it was doing to her. Why didn`t he intervene? Why didn`t he have an intervention? And the clown video is a perfect example of all he wanted was the money.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Dr. Karim, if it looks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, it`s a duck. She -- her behavior was often slurring. And people assumed that she was a drug addict. Should we make that assumption?

KARIM: You know, she definitely -- I don`t know her, but she definitely appears to makes criteria for at least substance abuse, just based on the fact that she developed tolerance to the medications, and she`s prescribed so many. You know, the one thing I do want to say...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it right there. Sorry. Thanks to my wonderful panel for their insights. We`re going to cover this again.

Can Lindsay Lohan be spared the same fate as Anna Nicole Smith? Lohan dodging a legal bullet today. But rumors of all-night partying and fighting with her ex may be leading her down a dangerous path. May be, operative word.

Pop superstar Rihanna on her own dangerous road, spotted out in New York City by TMZ without her alleged abuser. But is there more trouble on the horizon? His camp now saying it was a lovers` tiff.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Actress and infamous party girl Lindsay Lohan can`t seem to get herself out of the spotlight lately. An arrest warrant for Lohan stemming from her 2007 DUI was tossed by a judge this morning after a lawyer promised that the "Mean Girls" star would enroll in a new alcohol program and come back to court in April to prove it.

We`ve got some breaking news just in. TMZ just reporting right now Lohan made her way to class just hours ago. There you see the video of her headed to class. Wow. Look at the paparazzi around her. What a life to lead.

Lohan doesn`t appear, does she, to be leading a calm and sober lifestyle. The star reportedly partied this weekend and allegedly smashed a window with a vase during a crazy intense fight with a girlfriend. I`ve got to say, if you or I behaved this way, the way Lindsay has over the years, we might be looking at eight to ten.

So is Lindsay`s celebrity status getting her off the hook?

I am joined now by Dr. Brenda Wade, a clinical psychologist.

Here`s what puzzles me, Doctor. The judge said today Lohan has not -- and I want to repeat that -- not failed any drug or alcohol tests. Yet, her behavior -- cops coming to her house, the loud public arguments -- seems very reckless and less than sober. How do you explain that discrepancy?

DR. BRENDA WADE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: You know, just because someone isn`t drinking or using doesn`t mean that they are what we call sober. Real sobriety comes from working a program of recovery like Alcoholics Anonymous or a 12-step program.

In her case, she was caught once with cocaine. And just because she`s not using doesn`t mean she`s changed the behavior.

And Jane, I have never seen a clearer case of someone who is caught in old family patterns. Look at her family history. She has a dad who was in and out of prison, four years in prison while she was a little girl. And her mother told her Daddy was away working.

So what did she learn growing up? That life is chaos, life is drama, people come and go. There are reports that her mom has had problems with drinking and drugs.


WADE: What can we expect?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know about that, but I certainly know that there was a lot of drama in her life. Lohan`s current legal troubles stem from her 2007 second arrest for DUI. Listen to this 911 call made by her former assistant`s mom, while she was allegedly chased by Lohan, although she thought it was a man behind the wheel.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, what`s going on there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t. We were -- we were just about to park her car. We were returning home, and out of nowhere a huge, white GMC came up and... OK, that`s OK. We`re coming. We`re 4th and Wilshire. We`re coming down right now. We`re being followed by a GMC. The gentleman has jumped out of the car...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God, sir! They`re following us! We need help!


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You can`t make this up. Lohan was charged with DUI and cocaine possession that day and spent a total of 84 minutes in jail.

WADE: Wow.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Of course, there is the community service and the rehab, but really, Doctor, was this sentence harsh enough to get her attention, to get her to change?

WADE: You know, it`s hard to get people to change because, Jane, unless you change your thinking, you cannot change your life. And we are products of what we`ve had a chance to learn.

Lindsay has only learned one thing growing up. That is to keep the chaos, keep the drama going, and she hasn`t learned. I don`t care how painful it`s been to show up in jail, go to jail. She hasn`t learned yet that she deserves anything better than that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just want to say, she`s been working since she was 3 years old. Never had a chance to experience her childhood and is probably trying to make up for lost time.

Thank you so much, Doctor. Come back soon.

Stunning news in the Caylee Anthony murder case. Could leaks from the sheriff`s department sink the case against Casey? You won`t believe these new warnings.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: As a slew of shocking details about accused child murderer Casey Anthony and her family keep seeping out, law enforcement officials issue an edict. Put a lid on the leaks. Could the steady stream of embarrassing leaks cripple the prosecution`s case?

Then, unbelievable news in the Rihanna/Chris Brown saga -- a stunning twist in that story about the duo`s late night recording sessions. Did the stars really make beautiful music together? And if so, when?

Plus, more outrageous allegations against Drew Peterson: his stepbrother now speaking out about his suspicions that the former police sergeant was planning to kill. I`ll have the chilling details.

More on the shocking and very public accusations against ex-cop, Drew Peterson, in just moments.

But first, the Orange County Sheriff`s office has issued a stern new warning to its staff about the Caylee Anthony murder case, "Keep your mouths shut. Loose lips will no longer be tolerated." The sheriff himself fears any leaks could backfire and cause the prosecution to lose its case against Casey Anthony.

For months, most of the media`s information has come from unnamed sources close to the investigation, if you know what I mean. Here are just a few of the many times these sources broke the news.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we`ve got some breaking news to tell you about, just moments ago out of Florida, new reports that there were clothes in the bag that was discovered along with the remains. Clothes in the bags -- that`s the new report.

Reports are that Casey`s dramatic reaction to the December 11th news that remains of a child had been found was caught on tape. Tonight, a total shocker in the Caylee Anthony case; reports of another jailhouse meltdown caught on tape. This time the video captures accused murderer Casey Anthony and her lawyer, Jose Baez.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Get the idea? Casey Anthony`s attorney, Jose Baez, is also attacked the leaks, calling them an attempt to play mind games with his client. But if anyone could have put a stop to these leaks, wouldn`t that have happened a long time ago? Aren`t both sides using the media as a resource to try their cases in the court of public opinion?

I`m back with Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor; Jonna Spilbor, criminal defense attorney and joining the discussion by phone, Cindy Adams, a reporter at the

Cindy, you`re following the case. What do you know about this new edict and what sources say sparked it?



ADAMS: I think this came about because of the videotape and the leak about Casey`s reaction to Caylee`s remains being found. And so now today it`s come out the source of the leak is a jail employee and they are having problems with it. They`re thinking that this could hurt the prosecution`s case and -- but this is going to happen.

You know, the jail employees are human beings. If they see something, they`re going to talk about. The only time they`re not supposed to talk about it is that they`re acting as an arm of law enforcement. And that`s where the problem comes in, so if they have an observation, they can talk about it. But if they`re working as an arm of law enforcement they can`t.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Stacey Honowitz, you are a Florida prosecutor. The sheriff said he has never seen a case ever where there have been so many leaks. Do you agree? Because I certainly do; I think, this one takes the cake for that.

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Yes. You know, the media is all over this, Jane. We talk about this case all the time. And the bottom line is not all the leaks always come from employees from the sheriff`s office or anything like that.

Lots of times the media gets their things from the public records requests because everything that`s discoverable is in a court file, then the media has access to it.

But the bottom line is this case has been played out so much. You have to wonder how are they ever going to get a jury? And that`s the important thing here. They don`t want to smear what could be a possible panel because when you bring in all those people and you begin to ask questions, you immediately get a reaction. Well, I heard on this and I heard about this and I heard another thing.

Are they all true? Are they all false? Nobody knows. And that`s why the sheriff came in and said, "Enough is enough."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but Stacey...

HONOWITZ: Stop with the leaks.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... why now? I mean, it`s been months that we`ve been getting these leaks. And all of a sudden now he`s developed a conscience about it?


HONOWITZ: No, I don`t know why he`d never put a stop to it. And I don`t know if he`s warned them in the past and we`re just hearing about the warning now.

So why he didn`t ahead of time and go ahead and say something, I couldn`t tell you right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, we`ve got to move on. Because so much news here.

Casey Anthony`s defense team grills the deputy who responded when, remember meter reader, Roy Kronk he called 911 way back in August begging cops to check out a suspicious bag he thought might contain Caylee`s remains.

Kronk called that deputy rude. The cop didn`t find anything at the scene. And yet Caylee`s remains were found at that very site months later.

So my question to you, Jonna Spilbor, why do you think the defense is focusing on this deputy now? Are they setting up an argument that perhaps the body was moved there later after Casey was in jail?

JONNA SPILBOR, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh yes, I think that was the first thought for many of the defense bar when that information did eventually come out. And, you know, and it`s quite plausible. I mean, we`re starting to see now where we think the defense is going to go with this.

And it`s not a bad thing from our perspective because originally we`re like, all right, this woman is defenseless. Now not so much, there could be a viable defense here for her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And it`s kind of embarrassing, Stacy Honowitz, if some of the reports are true. Reports quote, "Kronk the meter-reader were saying that the deputy got within six feet of a bag but never touched it." That`s not good news for the prosecution.

HONOWITZ: No. I mean, certainly putting this deputy on the stand for the -- I mean, if the defense is going to impeach this guy, it`s pretty good for them in the sense that he didn`t do what he was supposed to do.

Why didn`t he see it? Why did he dismiss Kronk? Why didn`t he go back when Kronk called three times?

But you have to assume that the prosecution in this case is well aware that these arguments are going to come up. They`re well aware that this is the line of defense that`s going to be used and they are ready. They are ready to go forward and so they know what to expect and they know what to expect from this deputy.

So like -- Jane, we`re going to have to wait and see how this plays out.


HONOWITZ: For now, we are speculating; that`s what we`re doing.

SPILBOR: The prosecution should not have tunnel vision. Perhaps there is more to this story than meets the eye and they shouldn`t ignore that.

HONOWITZ: Well, I`m not saying they`re ignoring it. I`m just saying, when you`re a good prosecutor and you have a big case and you go into court, you definitely know what the defenses are going to be brought in. You`re not stupid when you`re standing there.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I can`t wait for this trial to start. That`s for sure. But it`s not going to start anytime soon. That`s also for sure, Stacey, Johna, thank you so much.

Now, an astonishing twist tonight in the on-going saga of battered pop princess Rihanna. Last week, Rihanna and her alleged attacker, boyfriend Chris Brown, reportedly recorded a duet. Now reports say the pair recorded it before the alleged beating.

Meantime, Rihanna partied in New York this weekend as rumors swirled about her career. Could Cover Girl drop the battered beauty? And I`m looking at that video and I`m saying word to the wise, Rihanna, you should drop the fur, adding cruelty to the mix will not help your image.

More breaking news here, is Rihanna attempting a career makeover by stepping into Whitney Houston`s shoes in a remake of "The Bodyguard?" Some people say what she needs is a bodyguard.

Plus, reports that Chris Brown`s lawyers claimed this horrifying photo makes it impossible for Brown to get a fair trial and they want the charges dropped. The "Sun" newspaper reports reps from Browns camp claim the alleged beating was just a quarrel between two people very passionately in love.

Hey, Chris, that`s not what love looks like.

A special hearing is set for next week. Will Brown`s lawyer manage to get him off the hook? So many ISSUES.

Joining me, my expert panel: Dr. Jill Murray, psychotherapist and author of "But He never Hit Me" and Mike Walters, assignment manager at TMZ.

Mike, I know you`re following this, what is the very latest?

MIKE WALTERS, TMZ: You know, like you said, Rihanna was out this weekend in New York. She was with Brandy. We have a bunch of photos of her laughing. She went to dinner with Jay-Z and Beyonce. And also the most important thing is this is the first time she`s really spoken at all since that picture, since that night, since all this happened, since Chris was charged.

And basically we asked her, how do you feel? I mean, that`s what I wanted to know anyway. And she says, "Good." Which I don`t know if she feels good because Chris Brown is 2,000 miles away in L.A. or it`s just that right now she is out with her friends and with her boss and they`re having a good time.

But, you know, she said she feels good. So, you know, she went out this weekend, she had a good time it seems like and I think she`s trying to move on, at least a little bit.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, reports say attorneys for Chris Brown claim the alleged beating was just a lover`s quarrel. They want the charges dropped but the police affidavit paints a picture of domestic violence out of control.

Let`s listen to what Chris Brown himself told to Tyra Banks on her talk show last January.


CHRIS BROWN, SINGER: I know some people in their families go through domestic violence and stuff like that. You know what I`m saying? I don`t want to mention the person`s name, but like somebody that hurt my mom. You know what I`m saying? And me having to deal with that from the age of like seven until I`m 13. Me seeing that and being, you know what I`m saying, like visually abused by it.

TYRA BANKS, HOST, "TYRA BANKS SHOW": And how did it affect you?

BROWN: It affected me, you what I`m saying, basically especially towards women I treat differently because I don`t want to go through the same thing or put a woman through the same thing that that person put my mom through, you know what I`m saying.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. You know, Jill Murray, you`re the psychotherapist. He says he grew up watching his mom suffer abuse, vowing not to be that man. Does his childhood experience explain the alleged assault of Rihanna?

JILL MURRAY, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: I think it explains a lot, Jane. You know, he vowed not to do this. And he did it anyway. I think largely, aside from his family background, the kid has got a sense of entitlement.

You know, he`s rich, he`s young, people are admiring him, kids are screaming for him. He`s wealthy.

Abusers have this sense of entitlement that they can abuse their victims the way he abused her. It`s not just a lovers` quarrel. Passionately, he threatened to kill her. He choked her. He bit her ear. He -- you know, he tried to throw her out of a car. This isn`t a lovers` quarrel.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Allegedly. Allegedly, we do have to say that.

MURRAY: Well, allegedly. Ok.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, let me go another issue. The "Daily News" here in New York reported Rihanna is considering a remake of "The Bodyguard." Warner Brothers just minutes ago, Mike Walters, said there`s no remake of "The Bodyguard" coming up and this is just a crazy rumor. When does this end, these crazy rumors surrounding Rihanna?

WALTERS: Well you know it`s funny we did a story over the weekend and there was this stuff about you know "Bodyguard" and the duet all that stuff is happening. And I think what`s happening here is everyone is jumping on the band wagon that this is the biggest story in the country in entertainment. and a lot of times -- you know, we got a statement from Chris Brown`s publicist, the one that doing his crisis PR that just said, look, let me give to you straight she`s not pregnant, they`re not married...


WALTERS: ... they didn`t do this, they didn`t do that.


WALTERS: It`s like let`s put it all on the line. But I think that`s absolutely important.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, guys.

Mike, I love you, I`ve got to leave it there.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Shocking riot in New York City over the weekend. Models go wild. I mean bonkers, we`re going to explain this cookie story in a second. You`ve got to see it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Shocking confessions from Drew Peterson`s stepbrother in just a moment.

But first, "Top of the Block."

You are watching sheer madness in Manhattan over the weekend. A stampede erupted during a casting call for the 13th cycle of the reality show, "America`s Next Top Model." These are models stampeding. I kid you not.

Bedlam broke out as these beauties waited to strut their stuff for host and executive producer Tyra Banks. Reports say that some women started screaming "fire" and "there`s a bomb." The stampede/riot or whatever you want to call it that ensued left six people injured and three people under arrest. If you put this in a movie, nobody would believe it. They`d say it was too outlandish. This is so crazy.

Tyra banks issued a statement thanking the NYPD for their efforts but has not rescheduled the New York auditions; that might be the best for everyone. I`m sure the hard-working men and women of the NYPD have better things to do than deal with the surreal carnival of reality television complete with stampedes.

And that`s tonight`s "Top of the Block."

Family ties in tatters tonight after Drew Peterson, the only suspect in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy, is thrown under the bus by his stepbrother on national TV. Thomas Morphey made shocking, and I mean shocking, accusations about Peterson today on ABC`s "Good Morning America." The most stunning of all, Morphey claims that he knows drew killed Stacy. Just how does he claim to know? Morphey says Peterson asked for his help in covering up the alleged crime.


THOMAS MORPHEY, DREW PETERSON`S STEPBROTHER: He said, "How much do you love me?" I said, "I do." And he said, "Enough to kill for me?" At that point, I -- I was in shock. I said, "That`s not something I can live with." And he said, "Well, can you live with knowing about it?"


VELEZ-MITCHELL: He says Peterson even offered to pay him $2,000 to rent a storage unit in his name, presumably to store Stacy`s body.


MORPHEY: I said to him, "Well, isn`t it going to smell? You know, what about the smell?" He said it would be in a sealed container. I knew it wasn`t -- it wasn`t good. He was planning on killing somebody.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So now what? Investigators consider Peterson a suspect in his wife`s potential homicide, but I have to stress here, Peterson has not been charged with anything.

In light of this morning`s stunner, will cops look more closely at some of the evidence? I want to hear what you think. So give me a holler.

But first to our fabulous experts: Michelle Suskauer, criminal defense attorney; Ashleigh Banfield, anchor at the legal network "In Session;" and on the phone, Joe Hosey, reporter with Chicago`s "Herald News" and author of a book about Drew Peterson called "Fatal Vows."

Joe, given that Stacy has never been found dead or alive, now that Peterson`s stepbrother is making these claims publicly, could this finally move this case forward?

JOE HOSEY, REPORTER, "HERALD NEWS": If this doesn`t, I don`t know what would. It`s pretty shocking stuff, this revelation.

Also, they played the clip of Tom Morphey saying, "Would it bother you knowing? And Tom`s response was pretty chilling. It was like, whoa, "No, it wouldn`t, Drew, because we all figured you killed Kathleen, referring to his third wife who Drew Peterson was also under the microscope for. She was the victim of a 2004 bathtub homicide.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s a crazy story.

Just moments ago, by the way, Drew Peterson`s attorney issued a statement and had this to say about Peterson`s stepbrother`s appearance on "Good Morning, America." Quote, "Morphey has concocted quite a tale, but it`s just that, a tale. One that cannot and should not be believed."

Ashleigh Banfield, according to the attorney, Morphey has serious problems. He`s bipolar. He`s had substance abuse. He`s just not a credible witness. And they point out that the grand jury has not even heard his story even though he`s been interviewed many times by cops, implying that the cops don`t even believe him, perhaps.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": No, but the authorities have also put out a statement saying nobody knows where specifically we are with this investigation and they shouldn`t assume to know either. Does that mean that Thomas Morphey will appear before a grand jury? Possibly.

But I think there is a lot that a lot of people don`t know. And what`s interesting is that a lot of the circumstantial evidence in this case so far seems to kind of match. Because what Mr. Morphey says coincides with what neighbors said they saw as well, people walking out with Drew with those giant blue containers. So I don`t know that you can say he`s that incredible.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. The missing woman`s sister, Cassandra Cales, said she saw a blue barrel in the Peterson`s garage two days before Stacy disappeared, something that Peterson says absolutely was not there.

Peterson and Morphey agree on one thing. That they went together to check out a unit at a local storage facility, but the reason -- that`s a totally different story. Listen to this.


MORPHEY: Sometimes I wish I had rented that locker just because we`d know where she was. But on the other hand, I partially think that that locker was to be put in my name so he could set me up. I was a perfect target for him. I had credibility issues.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And here is Peterson`s matter-of-fact reason for looking into that unit.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You did go to the search facility and you did try to rent a locker?

DREW PETERSON, STACY PETERSON`S HUSBAND: No, I just went there to inquire about renting a unit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ok. And it had nothing to do with Stacy? To allegedly store a body and wait until things died down...

PETERSON: No. I was going to put tires in there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... try to pin the murder on him?



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thoughts? We only have a couple of seconds before the break, Joe.

HOSEY: Well, a lot of coincidences. He says he`s renting the storage for his tires was what he says. He gave his reason for it. There`s a neighbor who police say saw Peterson and a relative carrying a blue barrel out. This man comes forward, and says, "Yes, I carried the barrel out. Stacy was inside. I knew Stacy was inside of it." It might be circumstantial but like you guys said, it all seems to match up as well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes. Absolutely.

I can tell you, we`ve got callers lined up. We`re going to get to them in just a moment. This is such a bizarre case. They say, no body, no case but we`ll ask that if that applies here.

More on this truly unsettling case and your calls in just moments.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To Joel Brodsky, Drew Peterson`s defense attorney with us tonight, it`s amazing how your client keeps happening upon dead and missing women. It`s quite a coincidence, isn`t it?

JOEL BRODSKY, DREW PETERSON`S ATTORNEY: Well, I mean, it`s one -- one dead and one missing. That`s a coincidence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. That`s more than most people have in a lifetime.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Peterson`s lawyer on and the "NANCY GRACE" on the day investigators reclassified the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, from accidental to homicide.

Back with my guests. Phone lines lighting up. John, New Jersey, your question or thought, sir.

JOHN FROM NEW JERSEY: Hi, Jane. Love you and Nancy and thank you for all you do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, thank you.

JOHN: Why is he still not in jail after two women are dead or disappeared? And why is there two separate laws in this country for the rich and poor? And is that girl still dating him? And if she is, she deserves what she gets.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s cover the first part, Michelle.

MICHELLE SUSKAUER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, obviously if the prosecution had enough to charge him, they would charge him. And they haven`t yet. So they`re probably getting all of their ducks in a row but this is a problem. It`s a circumstantial case.

They have a lot of speculation. A lot of conjecture and they need more to charge him. They haven`t charged him yet. That doesn`t mean that they won`t; it just means maybe they`re getting closer and is not releasing enough info.


Nancy, West Virginia, your question or thought?

NANCY FROM WEST VIRGINIA: Hi, Jane. My question is this, the stepbrother had mentioned just like your reporter Joe had said a few minutes ago that the stepbrother said, we all knew that you killed Kathleen. If that was the case and they all knew or thought they knew at that time, why didn`t anyone come forward before now and just bring that up that they had reason to believe he killed Kathleen? Why didn`t they come forward before this?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ashleigh, want to take a crack at that?

BANFIELD: That`s a tough one. We don`t know if anyone didn`t, we just don`t know publicly at this point. One thing that has been reported is that Stacy`s minister apparently has reported that Stacy said to him, "Drew told me that he killed Kathleen." And he of course, Drew, for his part, denies that that`s true.

It`s very, very disconcerting. And we do know that after Stacy went missing, they exhumed Kathleen`s body and reclassified her death as having been accidental to being not accidental. Very, very circumstantial information on that case as well.

But by the way, your other caller, I think they`re asking about why isn`t he in jail? You don`t have to charge a case quickly. There`s no statute of limitations on murder. And it`s better to get your ducks in the row because once you start to get into the indictment process, the time clock starts and you better be darn sure that you`re on the ball.

There`s no statute of limitations. I have covered a case where it`s been ten years before it gets to trial.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re out of time. They`re saying no body, no case. But let`s see what happens on this one. Thanks to my fabulous panel.

I am Jane Velez-Mitchell. You`re watching ISSUES.