Edition: U.S. | Arabic | Set Pref

 

Return to Transcripts main page

ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Did Haleigh`s Father Abuse Her?

Aired March 19, 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, stunning developments in the Haleigh Cummings case, as the child abuse scandal escalates into an ugly war of words. Haleigh`s mother claims Ron beat the kids, but now Ron`s enraged family says, not so fast.

ANNETTE SYKES, HALEIGH CUMMINGS` GREAT GRANDMOTHER: This is ridiculous. Ridiculous.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Meantime, Florida`s child services confirms they are investigating the abuse allegations. Could this lead to a break in the case, or is it just white noise distracting from the search for little Haleigh?

Then today, accused killer Casey Anthony spent her 23rd birthday behind bars. Did she have a celebration? She may not be getting any presents, but her defense team got ten. Key pieces of evidence. And mystery surrounds shocking new claims about missing pages from Casey`s diary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a report out about supposed missing pages.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do they contain a confession?

Plus, Britney, Paris, Lindsay and Octomom? The mob scene as Nadya Suleman brought her two babies home was right up there with the most infamous celebrity media frenzy. I`ll show you Octomom`s reaction. And what should be done about these out-of-control paparazzi swarms?

And Hollywood`s biggest names react to the tragic death of acclaimed actress Natasha Richardson. As her family begs for privacy, everyone wonders how a fall on a bunny slope could become such a nightmare, and why was the first ambulance that arrived after her fall turned away? I`ll try to find out if it could have made a difference.

ISSUES starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely stunning new developments tonight in the case of missing Florida girl Haleigh Cummings. Haleigh`s father, Ron Cummings, has just hired a lawyer. That after Haleigh`s mom, Crystal Sheffield, publicly claimed he has abused his two children with sticks and belts, even causing them to bleed.

Now Florida`s Department of Children and Families is investigating the claims. So is the local sheriff`s department. But Ron and his extended family insist these claims are complete garbage and hearsay. It`s an all- out war of words between the two parents, and it was this comment that set off the firestorm.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM PICAZIO, CRYSTAL SHEFFIELD`S ATTORNEY: When a parent beats a child until the child is bloodied, that is a crime. It`s legally and morally wrong. And he needs to be brought to justice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Someone has told you that?

PICAZIO: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, reaction pouring in from Ron and his family. They say they`re enraged, complaining that the focus has shifted away from finding his precious daughter.

Here is how they have reacted to the accusations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SYKES: It`s ridiculous. Ridiculous. Ronald spanked his children just like -- like he said. Just like children`s services say you can spank them, on the rear end.

RON CUMMINGS, FATHER OF HALEIGH CUMMINGS: I`ve been slandered into a sorry father. Obviously, in most cases the fathers don`t get custody of their children. I took good care of my kids the three years I had them by myself. A lot of people are talking about like this is a custody battle. It`s not a custody battle. It`s about finding my 5-year-old daughter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ron`s family essentially saying, "Bring it on. We welcome any investigations. We have nothing to hide."

A lot to get to tonight. And as always, I`m taking your calls on this. But first, I want to introduce my expert panel: Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor; Vinny Parco, private investigator; Vinny Politan, attorney and Sirius XM radio host; as well as Judy Kuriansky, Dr. Judy, clinical psychologist and author.

But first, I want to turn to a very special guest, Kim Picazio, the attorney for Haleigh`s mother, Crystal Sheffield.

Kim, thanks for joining us.

PICAZIO: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Reports are that after your complaints alleging child abuse, two investigations are now under way by cops and family services. So my question to you is, are you also going to go to court to formally seek custody of Ron Jr.? Given the very serious nature of the charges that you`ve leveled, wouldn`t that be something that you`d want to do immediately?

PICAZIO: Well, no. Actually, if we wanted a side show and we wanted to direct focus away from the search for Haleigh, that`s what we would have initially done.

And plus, you know, family law setting, it takes many months sometimes to obtain results. There`s discovery that has to be done. Whereas the proper protocol if you heard that there`s been child abuse in a household would be to first contact the authorities.

And Department of Children and Families can conduct a swift investigation, can attain medical records, et cetera. And after their conclusion of the investigation, we can go from there and see if we need to bark up that tree.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, our attempt here is to be entirely fair and basically to cover this story in the hopes of finding this precious child, God willing, alive and return her. So there`s two sides to every story.

Let`s listen to the other side for a second. Ron Cummings and his entire family have taken major issue with these claims of abuse. Ron has just hired a lawyer. The law firm`s press release wrote that Ron saw these allegations as, quote, "a cheap shot, a publicity stunt that detracts from the search for Haleigh."

Ron`s grandmother, Annette Sykes, had this to say. Quote, "We`re not worried about the investigation. It`s just a matter of if they want to investigate facts or if they don`t want to take the time and go by hearsay."

And Ron`s own mother spoke out saying this. Quote, "This is not the first time they`ve pulled this out. I don`t think it`s going to turn out the way they want it to. They must want custody really bad."

Kim, the Cummings family says, basically, Crystal has made similar accusations and taken them before the courts before, and the courts have not sided with her. What`s your explanation?

PICAZIO: Crystal and her family have called Department of Children and Families in the past. Crystal has called twice. Her mother has called several times. They have seen bruises or injuries on the children that they -- they suspected could be abuse.

And also, Ronald`s girlfriend after Miss Sheffield had called DCF on him also, alleging that he was mistreating Haleigh and Junior. Because there have been claims made, but never before has Crystal attempted to gain access to the courts to change custody. Quite frankly because she didn`t know that was an avenue that was available to her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you were on Nancy Grace show last night. And along with your client, Crystal Sheffield. Let`s listen to one of Crystal`s responses to one of Nancy`s questions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY GRACE, CNNHN ANCHOR: In four years, you did not observe any physical abuse on the children?

CRYSTAL SHEFFIELD, MOTHER OF HALEIGH CUMMINGS: No, ma`am, because when we were -- when me and Ronald was together, he had nothing to do with the children. I took -- I took care of them. I did everything. He had nothing to do with them. And then when I left, he decided he wanted to take them from me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, Kim, again, we`re just trying to solve this mystery. I think a lot of people are wondering, if your client never witnessed the abuse personally, how is she getting all this information about alleged beatings with sticks and belts and blood? Who`s telling her this?

PICAZIO: Well, it`s people telling me this, and people are telling the authorities and the investigators that we`ve brought here from South Florida are accessing people with a lot of information, people that have personally witnessed these particular crimes.

And we have released some photos. We`ve given other photos to the -- to DCF. And they are conducting an investigation from our allegations.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I know Nancy Grace is going to have exclusive information on this later tonight right after our show. So stay tuned for her show.

Last question. Why did Ron Cummings get custody of these two children? It usually goes to the mom.

PICAZIO: It usually does. And I believe that Crystal was -- has a 10th grade education. She had been with Ronald since she was 14. He had fed her drugs the entirety of the relationship. She didn`t have a driver`s license because Ronald wouldn`t allow her to. She was not allowed to speak or was alienated from her entire family by Ronald, who kept her in a very controlled environment and one that was filled with domestic violence.

When she was sitting in that courtroom, that`s the last thing she wanted to do was to speak up in defense of herself with Ronald, the person who had beat her for years, sitting there glaring at her. She simply was not feeling safe.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think we`re going to have to leave it right there. I thank you.

And again, our effort here on ISSUES is to be fair. So we have an open invitation to Ron, any members of his family, his new lawyer, come on and give us your side of the story. We want both sides of the story.

All right. Now to my expert panel. Let`s first start by listening to the startling exchange between Ron Cummings and Geraldo Rivera, which happened last month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUMMINGS: No, never ever have I ever hit my child. Me and my child have an agreement, daddy, daughter. She has been spanked on her behind the way DCF says that you can take care of disciplining your children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Vinny Politan, that was last month. Why didn`t the sheriff`s department start investigating this when this issue first came up last month?

VINNY POLITAN, ATTORNEY/SIRIUS XM RADIO HOST: Well, maybe they weren`t watching Geraldo. They were watching Jane Velez-Mitchell.

But serious, Jane, this is -- anytime there is a squabble between an ex-husband and an ex-wife and there are allegations going back and forth, you have to take it all with the grain of salt.

However, when evidence is produced, and you`ve got witnesses or you`ve got photographs, things get much more serious. Now you take a look at it. In this case, you know, is this distracting from the whole Haleigh thing? I don`t think so. Because if it can be demonstrated that there was abuse of these children, now all of a sudden, you look at the disappearance a little bit differently.

I think it`s important that it gets investigated now. Why they didn`t do it before, maybe they did but not as seriously as they will now if, in fact, these photographs are produced.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stacey Honowitz, Vinny Politan is proving by point. If, in fact, this came up a month ago -- and we did discuss it here on ISSUES; everybody discussed it. The whole world heard about it. Why didn`t the sheriffs investigate this immediately? Because if they had been, it would have been done by now. We would have had a conclusion.

Obviously, it`s relevant to the case. I mean, the Cummings family says it`s not true, but hypothetically, if it were true, it would certainly shed light on Haleigh`s disappearance.

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, first of all, you would have never, ever had a resolution within a month on a child abuse investigation that involves DCF, the Department of Children and Families, and lots of times brings in the state attorney. And that`s the interesting question in this case.

Was the state attorney ever brought in on any abuse allegations? Did anybody, a teacher at a school, anybody see any bruises? Vinny is right. A lot of times when these cases -- when it`s a husband against an ex-wife, abuse claims do come about.

It is imperative that they do investigate now, that they start and they do a complete investigation, because it will have an impact on how they investigate the child`s disappearance. So I don`t think we need to figure out why they didn`t do it. I think now we have to figure out are they concentrating, who are they talking to, are these witnesses credible? Why...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I understand what you`re saying, but to me it`s like the whole world is focusing on this missing child`s disappearance. They have so many investigators there. You`d think that they would have jumped on this.

But everybody hang on. Stay right there. More to come on this intense battle over allegations of child abuse in the home of Ron Cummings, which Ron vehemently denies. Do you think these claims are distracting from the search for little Haleigh? Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. Let me know.

Seventy miles down the road, Casey Anthony celebrates her 23rd birthday behind bars. She may not be getting any gifts, but her attorneys did. I`ll have the shocking details.

First, claims of abuse in a custody battle have shifted the attention in the Haleigh Cummings case. Here`s dad, Ron, trying to turn the spotlight back on little Haleigh.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CUMMINGS: I`ve been slandered into a sorry father. Obviously in most cases, the fathers don`t get custody of their children. I took good care of my kids in the two years I had them by myself. A lot of people are talking about like this is a custody battle. It`s not a custody battle. It`s about finding my 5-year-old daughter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SYKES: It`s ridiculous. Ridiculous. Ronald spanked his children just like -- like he said, just like children services say you can spank them, on the rear end.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The paternal great-grandmother of Haleigh Cummings responds to claims that Haleigh`s father, Ron, has abused his two children. Back taking your calls on this new war of words between Haleigh`s parents and how it will impact the search for the missing girl.

Betsy, Virginia, your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Yes. I was wondering, did Ron have any girlfriends prior to his wife that may be scorned, that someone Haleigh would know to leave with?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know the answer to that necessarily, but I want to bring in psychologist Judy Kuriansky. There is so much emotion laced through all of this. Give us your analysis.

JUDY KURIANSKY, PSYCHOLOGIST: First of all, it`s very common that a great-grandmother -- we`ve heard this in other cases -- would be defending the son or the grandson. So that makes sense. That doesn`t mean that it`s not true.

It`s also very logical that Haleigh`s dad is going to say, "I didn`t abuse her." What guy do we know who comes out right out of the bat and says, "Yes, I abused my child?" Is takes a lot before they eventually will admit it. So I`m not buying it from him. And I am appreciating all those other people, by the way, who may have done the reports because this is what we think in all child abuse cases, that if people notice this is going on, that they need to report it. So thank you to all those people.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And, again, let`s see what happens with the investigation. We don`t want to jump the gun here. He says that this is nonsense.

Lisa, Iowa, your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Well, I noticed that whenever Ron is asked a direct question that might implicate Crystal in some way or point out that she always is changing her story, he always says, I don`t know, I was at work. And then, you know, as if to cover something or, you know...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You mean Misty?

CALLER: OK, yes, Misty. Is Misty the wife now? The one he`s married to now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, yes.

CALLER: OK. Sorry.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, so you`re saying that he seems to defend her?

CALLER: Well, you know, he -- well, whenever they ask a question about, you know, what`s going on, you know, like why did she keep changing her story? You know, he says, "I don`t know, I was at work." And then he runs off and marries her, you know, instead of looking for his daughter.

KURIANSKY: OK. So you`re pointing out just the thing that I was talking about, that he`s behaving a little bit suspiciously. And I know, Jane, you`re being really kind and saying he`s certainly innocent until proven guilty. But your caller is even noticing there`s strange behavior that he is doing that doesn`t sit normally with people.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m not being kind so much as careful. I think it`s important to be careful with people`s reputation.

KURIANSKY: Yes, that`s true.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Vinny Parco, you are a private investigator, a lot of experience. What do you make of all of this? It`s really quite baffling.

VINNY PARCO, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: First of all, when you`re doing an investigation to find someone, you interview all the parents, all the people involved. And you try to find out any facts that might help with the investigation.

How come the -- the mother did not tell the police about this allegation when the child was missing? This is an important facet of an investigation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, I think the timeline absolutely true. Vinny Politan, why didn`t this come up like the day after little Haleigh went missing?

POLITAN: Yes. That`s where an investigation should start, with the people that are closest. And obviously, that`s where I think law enforcement would look first. But here you have to look at Misty.

And it`s interesting that the caller said -- every time Misty has a little problem with her story. There`s this inconsistency. The husband, Ron, says, "Well, I was at work." Well, that was his story. He was at work.

So there`s a lot of questions and unanswered questions in this case. And when you talk about timelines, perhaps the most important timeline might be Misty`s.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And Stacey Honowitz, I do agree that Ron often says, "Well, I don`t know. I was at work." Well, he lives with this woman. He`s just married her. They certainly have a lot of time to talk about the situation. You`d think he`d know her story intricately.

But yet, he does fall back on "I don`t know. I was at work." He was at work until the child went missing. Then they`ve been together ever since.

HONOWITZ: Look, Jane, I`m a prosecutor. I`m the first one to look at body language, and we try to sum up the credibility of an individual. That`s what we do in order to make a case.

In this case, none of us are standing in his shoes. We all heard the phone conversation with the police officer: "If someone doesn`t find her, I`m going to kill him first." So you heard the -- the distress that he was in at the time.

I don`t know if there was an involvement. I don`t think any of us know if there`s an involvement. That`s why there`s an investigation.

And I think -- Vinny makes a very good point by saying that, at the time this child went missing, if the mother, the biological mother, knew that this father was abusive, that would be the very first thing she would tell an officer: "My child is missing, and this father is the one that has been abusing this child. Now, go ahead and do something with it."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Judy, it`s not just that. The authorities have been interviewing all the neighbors and all the friends. Wouldn`t they have picked up on this during their initial interviews?

KURIANSKY: Yes, indeed, they certainly might have noticed something from all the people talking about it. But there`s something fishy about what`s going on in that family and particularly with the fact of his getting married. It`s so inappropriate. I know you`ve mentioned this before. It`s -- it`s just -- psychologically does not make sense and doesn`t sit well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`ve got to go. I want to thank my excellent panel. Boy, we could talk about this all night. We`ll be back again soon on this.

In other scandalous news tonight, Rihanna seen out and about in Hollywood while conflicting reports flood in about whether she`s still dating Chris Brown, who is accused of beating her. Stunning developments.

And then more fall-out from Octomom. Paparazzi swarms, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOAN RIVERS, COMEDIAN: I knew yesterday, and I knew yesterday that she was brain dead. And I was told -- which is again so dear -- that they kept her alive purposely to bring her back to New York so that the boys could say good-bye to her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Join Rivers remembering Natasha Richardson on CNN`s "LARRY KING LIVE."

In the spotlight tonight, Richardson`s heart-breaking death after a fall while skiing is ruled an accident.

As Hollywood heavyweights react to the tragic death of this acclaimed actress, there are some questions. Why were the first medics at the scene turned away?

Her husband, actor Liam Neeson, and her entire family begging for privacy so they can grieve. We have seen them returning home. You see it right there. Now we need to respect their privacy.

Richardson fell Monday on a beginner`s run at a Quebec ski resort. There was no sign of injury. She declined to see a doctor. Paramedics sent to help were turned away. Why? Could it have made a difference? Richardson soon complained of a severe headache. She died late yesterday at New York`s Lennox Hill Hospital. Broadway will dim its lights tonight to honor Richardson.

With me now, Mike Walters, assignment manager for TMZ.

Mike, the just-released autopsy says Richardson died from blunt impact to the head. But everybody wonders how a fall on a bunny slope could become such a nightmare. What do you know about these first medics being turned away?

MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: You know, it is confusing, Jane. What we`re being told -- what we were told first was that there was low impact, that it was on a bunny slope called the Flats. And that when she fell, there wasn`t much impact and that she was conscious, she was joking. But it`s protocol for Ski Patrol to take her to their, you know, area where they treat medical.

What`s weird is they did call an ambulance. The ambulance gets there, and we`re told by the ambulance company that they were told to -- not to go away. And that they actually didn`t even see her.

Now, obviously what you were saying before, this sort of injury, the hematoma, time is of the essence. Time is critical because this bleeding between the skull and the brain was what causes the pressure that does the horrible things to the body like shutting down the lungs and the heart. So, yes, the -- go ahead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s what I don`t understand about it all. I`ve taken ski classes. I`ve skied. You fall a lot when you`re learning how to ski. It`s part of the process.

Now, they said she fell but she felt fine. But nevertheless, they followed protocol and took her down the mountain. But people fall all the time during a class, and they`re not taken down the mountain. It`s not, to my understanding, protocol unless you say you`re hurting. Oh, I hurt myself. Otherwise, you get up and you continue your lesson. So there`s something here that doesn`t seem to add up to me.

WALTERS: Right. No, you`re right. It`s confusing why first, like you said, if you fall on a bunny slope, it`s kind of normal when you`re learning. So -- and they said it was the impact.

But yes, they took her on a sled down to the end of the mountain where they called an ambulance. So obviously something happened that they felt they should call an ambulance.

But anytime with a head injury -- I know this from playing football and other sports and baseball. If it`s a head injury, you have to be careful. You have to get medical attention right away. And why they sent this ambulance away and hours later the next call came in is shocking.

And we`ve been trying to work on it all day to figure out why this happened. So far, there`s no answers from either of them. So that`s what we`ll keep working on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I`m sure you`ll get to the bottom of it. Mike Walters, always a great job. Assignment manager at TMZ.

Accused killer Casey Anthony spends her 23rd birthday behind bars while her attorneys get ten pieces of key evidence. I will have the very latest. It is a shocker.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Today is accused killer Casey Anthony`s 23rd birthday. Did she celebrate behind bars? She may not be getting any gifts, but her defense team got ten -- key pieces of evidence including the infamous video shot by a private eye working with the Anthony`s. I`ll tell you what it means.

Plus, Britney, Paris, Lindsay and octo-mom? The mob scene as Nadya Suleman brought her two babies home was right up there with the most infamous celebrity media frenzies. I`ll show you octo-mom`s reaction.

Stunning new information in the Caylee Anthony murder case tonight as mom Casey spends her 23rd birthday behind bars. No jailhouse celebration for the accused killer, who got some gifts she cannot return, you might say. Shocking revelations about her diary have surfaced in a new report; questions and grim suggestions about the meaning of so-called missing pages.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHI BELICH, WFTV REPORTER: What I can tell you is that when that -- that part of the diary was released, if there was more to be released, it probably would have been released at that time. The prosecutors wouldn`t play games with evidence and pick and choose part of the book to be released now and part of the book to be released later.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So was something released or wasn`t it? Meantime, ten new pieces of key evidence were definitely released to Casey`s defense team, including that infamous video shot by a private eye working with the Anthonys. Remember all that? It shows a fellow private eye picking through the brush in the very same location where little Caylee`s remains were later found a month later.

And in a macabre development that plot of land -- that same plot of land which became a make-shift shrine to little Caylee is now up for sale. Want to guess the asking price? $90,000.

Let`s get straight to my expert panel. Still with me, Vinny Parco, private investigator, and Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor. And joining the conversation, Drew Findling, Atlanta criminal defense attorney and Terence Lenamon, a former attorney for Casey Anthony.

Terence, let`s start with you. You`d actually, I understand, worked with Casey Anthony and therefore you`ve likely met her. What could you tell us about how Casey likely reacted turning 23 years old today?

It was her birthday today. But being behind bars, no visits from relatives, although, her dad did deposit $100 into her commissary account, which could be counted as a birthday gift.

TERENCE LENAMON, CASEY ANTHONY`S FORMER ATTORNEY: Well Jane, I can only speculate, but considering that this woman has maintained her innocence diligently from the very beginning, she`s been vilified in the court of public opinion over the last nine months.

Her family has been ripped apart. Her daughter`s dead. I can`t imagine what she`s feeling on her birthday and how significant it is or not.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I guess the reason I ask, I don`t know if you`ve ever talked to her or spent time with her, but she seems very lack of affect. I mean, she doesn`t seem to let things get to her except in outbursts of anger.

LENAMON: Well, I have spent time with her. But, you know, as I told your producers, I can`t get into the specifics of my conversations with her...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, I`m not asking you specifics. I`m talking about personality here. I`m saying 23rd birthday, is she likely, given what you know, to just sort of say, la-de-da, I`m here and I`m going to make the best of it. Because she seems to have a devil-may-care attitude toward a lot of things that would make other people just completely crumble and lose it.

LENAMON: I think your taking a long stretch with that. I think this is a 23-year-old girl who is in the middle of a huge tragedy that`s been made public. And she`s continuously vilified by everybody and as far as our law is concerned, Jane, as you know, she`s innocent until proven guilty. And a jury has not decided her guilt or innocence as of this time.

So I think she is like any other 23-year-old girl who is stuck in a tragic, tragic situation. And now she`s dealing with, you know, the possibility of spending the rest of her life in prison.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, she sure is. Now, here`s a question. Did Casey Anthony write herself into a corner? The matter of her diary and the so- called missing pages could come back to haunt her. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DREW PETRIMOULX, WDBO REPORTER: There were some interesting things that were found in there that we did see. It said that she was looking to move on and she was concerned about what had happened, and hoping for a brighter future.

But from what we see from the page date, it says 2003.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let`s discuss this.

Let`s take a look at these images from Casey`s diary. Maybe I can go to Stacey Honowitz on this. They were recently released in the discovery process.

Now, some are arguing that there are missing pages that have turned up. In other words, we`re hearing some very vague reports that some of these pages were torn out and they`ve turned up. And it could hurt the defense because there could be something that is very damaging to Casey that she wrote.

What are your thoughts on this? Because we don`t really -- we haven`t been able to get to the bottom of these missing pages.

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: I don`t think at this juncture we`re ever going to be able get to the bottom of the missing pages unless something comes forward down the pike.

Certainly if the prosecutors have theories in their case, and I`m sure they do, and everybody has got theories that either, number one, she didn`t want to be a mother. Number two, Cindy Anthony was too overbearing and she acted as the mother.

So there is a theory brewing. And if the diary reflects that she didn`t want a child, that she felt overwhelmed, all these different things, certainly that`s something that a prosecutor is going to want to try to move into evidence.

We can`t speculate though, on what those missing pieces are. We don`t know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But, Vinny...

HONOWITZ: And also...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

HONOWITZ: There`s other things that -- you know, there`s got to be a hand-writing analysis done to make sure it`s her, to make sure that its words that they were able to move in. So, there`s a lot of, you know, hoops that you`re going to have to jump through if the prosecutors are going to try to admit anything within the diary.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But, Vinny Parco, if the missing pages weren`t included somehow with the discovery, shouldn`t we assume that they`re lost because if they had been found, wouldn`t they have already been released along with the other discovery?

In other words, you wouldn`t rip up a book and present it piece meal.

VINNY PARCO, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: No. And the prosecution has a responsibility I think on the Brady (ph) to give all this information to the -- to the defense. There`s an inference that those pages are damaging to her. And everybody is going to think, well, what was on those pages? What did she say on there that`s -- that could hurt her case?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And complicating it is the fact that on one corner, it says 2003. So the defense could argue, "Hey, this wasn`t written because she had written some damaging things already in the pages that were found."

There were some things that could be used by the prosecution, but the defense, Drew Findling, is going to argue this wasn`t even written right before little Caylee went missing. This was written way back in 2003.

DREW FINDLING, ATLANTA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That`s right. There is a legal term that we call rest-just-time (ph), that`s just fancy words for meaning right at the time. And that`s really important for the judge to admit this.

This has to be something that`s right at the time so it`s relevant and admissible. But if it`s removed by half a decade they`re going to really struggle, the prosecution, to get it in first because of that and second because it is -- it is piece meal and they`ve got to show that it`s not been disturbed, the evidence and it`s not been disrupted.

And clearly ripped-up evidence, could arguably you can say that it`s been disrupted and it`s not pure.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s talk about the ten pieces of critical evidence that were released today through discovery.

One is the infamous video shot by a private investigator who is working with the Anthonys. It shows another P.I. who was also working with the Anthonys, Dominic Casey, rooting through the brush on November 15th.

And we`re going to show you that in a second, there it is. In the same area where Caylee`s skeletal remains were later found about a month later on December 11th.

Also, just released in discovery, emails from one of the labs that had been testing evidence to the Orange County Sheriff`s Department. An email from Detective Uri Malich that was sent to the lab and a photo of a child`s T-shirt.

Stacey Honowitz, you`re the prosecutor, what`s the significance of all this?

HONOWITZ: Well, you know Jane, in any prosecution you have bits of evidence that the prosecution once again tries to move in to make their case, to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she`s responsible for the death of her child.

So if there is little links in the chain, because we don`t have direct evidence here -- you don`t have a confession from her, you don`t have anybody that saw her kill this child or move the body.

So everything is -- it`s like a puzzle. All these little pieces of evidence, if they are brought together, they actually set the theory of the case. And they prove beyond a reasonable doubt. So that`s what`s the prosecutor is doing.

What they`ll do is they`ll try to say the shirt is somehow relevant to the case. Now, with regard to the videotape, that`s -- that can go both ways. Because the defense is going to say the body was moved there afterwards. Prosecution is going to say that was under water at the time and we have experts that are going to say the plant life, the bug life, all the experts are going to refute anything like that.

So that`s what the prosecution is trying to do. Not everything that you see or that we see is moved into evidence. In other words, this all could have been part of a search warrant --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

HONOWITZ: And it doesn`t mean necessarily that it`s going to be used in the case in chief by the prosecution.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I hear you there is -- I`ve just got to get to this quickly. Obviously a great deal of bitterness toward Casey Anthony. Some have turned their hatred into humor.

You`ve got to check out these birthday cards created by a blogger-mom. One says, "Happy Birthday Casey, have fun hitting the bars."

The other one says, "Hi, Casey, I`m thinking about you today. L-wop in the gen-pop," L-lap stands for a life without parole, general-pop stands for general population.

Terence, how does Casey handle this kind of stuff? It is ugly.

LENAMON: Well, I mean, you can imagine, again, this is only speculation. You can imagine any 23-year-old, a young mother, having to be put through this. And remember, she is innocent until proven guilty. And this is something that we`re forgetting.

This is a woman who is in the court of public opinion, had been dragged across the mud. Her family has been dragged across the mud. It`s just a -- it`s a horrible circumstance. This is -- this kind of case should have been tried outside the public light and let justice take its course. But this is --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes well, I agree. And there have been a lot of leaks. And I think we`re going to have to leave it right there. And supposedly prosecutors are trying to crack down on those leaks. Or at least the Sheriff`s Department is.

Stacey, Drew, Vinny, thank you so much.

Octo-circus continues. Tuesday`s paparazzi swarm outside Nadya Suleman`s house put her on par with superstars like Paris and Britney, but did it put her babies in danger? Do you think we need stricter paparazzi laws? Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297. Let me know next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we see the babies, Nadya?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look at that. That was the media frenzy outside Nadya Suleman`s house Tuesday night. I will have the latest on the fall- out.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.

An update on the Rihanna/Chris Brown soap opera, Rihanna spotted leaving a posh nightclub in Hollywood last night. But she couldn`t escape more drama as the SUV she was riding in was pulled over by the LAPD for not having a front license plate.

Meantime, conflicting reports about the status of her relationship with accused batterer Chris Brown amid the flood of rumors that the two reunited and recorded a love song together. E!Online reporting they are actually taking a break.

That would be a very nice thing.

And another source claims there is no new duet. I will be sure to update you with any developments to this saga as we get closer to Chris Brown`s April court appearance. That is tonight`s "Top of the Block."

Octo-madness reaching a potentially dangerous level tonight: The frenzy surrounding octo-mom Nadya Suleman`s arrival home with her babies. We`re talking little, tiny babies, raises serious safety questions.

Helicopters, cars, swarms of paparazzi invaded her yard and her home Tuesday night, creating a dangerous environment for her precious preemies. If the circus continues, could Nadya be prevented from bringing home the next two babies and the next two after that and the next two after that?

Or worse, lose them to Child Services? Nadya addressed that issue on radaronline.com.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NADYA SULEMAN, OCTUPLET`S MOTHER: They`re still at risk because they were born so early, but the doctors are very ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you get it last night and were you worried at all about that?

SULEMAN: I did, I walked in and I got worried about contamination. I worried about people in here. And we`re not supposed -- no one is supposed to be in here. So I did worry after seeing that many people. That`s just not ok. I got reprimanded a lot by the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did they?

SULEMAN: Yes, and they said if that happens -- if we`re -- if any of that happen again, they won`t release the babies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well the babies are little angels. It`s not their fault.

Octo-mom is now the focus of the same level of paparazzi obsession as Hollywood stars like Lindsay Lohan. And who could forget in 2007, there was an infamous paparazzi swarm when a quickly released Paris Hilton was ordered back to the slammer in California.

Take a look at that. Remember that scene when they all chased her down the block? People were hurt. It was a nightmare. There are supposed to be laws in California to protect celebs from out of control photographers. Is anybody enforcing them?

Straight to my fantastic expert panel, all of whom are veterans of Hollywood`s paparazzi swarms. Sounds like a title for a movie. Back with us, Mike Walters, assignment manager at TMZ Pete Demetriou, a field reporter for KFWB News 980 and Howard Bragman, publicist to many Hollywood stars and author of "Where`s my Fifteen Minutes?" Great book, glad to see you, Howard.

Let`s start with you. Who should get in trouble for this out-of- control mob scene at Nadya`s homes? I mean, shouldn`t the cops have had barricades and a big presence there given that this was quite predictable?

HOWARD BRAGMAN, AUTHOR, "WHERE`S MY FIFTEEN MINUTES?": There has to be a level of coordination. The police don`t know unless there`s communication and coordination.

She`s obviously spent a lot of money on getting this new house. She should have spent some money on security, number one, on fencing and making sure her house had some measure of privacy.

And she is culpable right now. Nadya, the mother, is culpable right now. One of the reasons there`s this huge media swarm is she is throwing gasoline on this media fire. She`s talking to the media, she`s building the frenzy and, guess what, it`s getting huge ratings, which is why we continue to talk about this story.

So she has to take responsibility for this mess that she created, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, radaronline.com asked Nadya how she felt about the dangerous scene comparing her to the late Princess Diana.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel a bit like Princess Diana?

SULEMAN: No. I just feel as though this is all wrong. It`s all wrong. I`m no different than anyone else. They have it wrong in their heads.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uh-huh.

SULEMAN: I don`t understand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you get scared sometimes? I mean, yesterday was scary.

SULEMAN: Yes, yesterday was -- for the babies; scared for their safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You, too I mean I saw you.

SULEMAN: I was more scared for their safety because they`re little. Adults are durable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She was so scared, but she didn`t do anything about it. Your right Howard, it`s been more than a decade since Princess Diana was tragically killed in the car accident. That prompted laws all across the globe to take action against overly aggressive photographers.

So, Pete Demetriou, what are the laws in California and are they ever enforced?

PETE DEMETRIOU, KFWB NEWS 980 FIELD REPORTER: Well, there aren`t really any laws against over-aggressive photographers. You can get restraining orders against individuals if they`re invading your personal privacy.

But the thing of the Nadya Suleman thing that really sort of drives me crazy, all it would have taken would be a phone call to the Harbor Police Department. They have contingency plans. They would have put in to effect almost immediately to cordon off certain areas of the street to allow the car to get in to the garage and to get in safely.

Now, you`re seeing media members here going on private property, charging into that garage. Right there, you`ve got trespassing laws. You could have them blocking the car in the street, that`s violation of the California Vehicle Code. And technically, if a police officer saw there was a danger to everyone there by this continued crush of people being, you know, in front of a car and everything else, technically they could walk in, stop matters and separate things, under 830.1 California Penal Code, protecting public safety.

The point is Nadya Suleman didn`t call for it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but, you know, Pete, the cops had to know, I would think. They watch television. They had to know that something like this was going to happen.

DEMETRIOU: Jane, they didn`t know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Walters...

DEMETRIOU: No, wait a minute, hold it. They didn`t know. They got very little warning on this type of thing.

They had a couple of residents telling them something was happening. By the time they got there more or less her car was already there. This would have required coordination. Maybe a half an hour to 45 minutes worth of warning, that`s all they would have needed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I hate to say this but, Mike Walters, how is it that everybody in the entire world knew to be there except for the cops? I mean, look at all those people. Somehow they got warning that the two babies were coming back.

MIKE WALTERS, TMZ: Well, no, I agree with Howard. I mean, the bottom line is that she`s bringing it upon herself. She`s getting paid to do interviews. One of the interviews earlier that day was my babies are coming home tonight.

So everybody got the warning and this reminds me, this video of when Paris Hilton went back to jail, another person who gets paid and their lifestyle is in front of the cameras.

So this is normal for this person because she knew, and she even had a camera inside the car, you know, taping the entire incident. So this is brought upon them...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.

WALTERS: But I agree with Pete, I mean, they could have called the cops in advance and given them warning and they can maybe fix it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: More octo-circus in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we see the babies, Nadya?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. There is the infamous paparazzi swarm at octo-mom`s house. Let`s compare it to other famous paparazzi swarms.

Remember the one involving Paris Hilton`s way back in 2007? There it is. That`s when she was ordered back to jail. First she was jailed and then she was released and then the judge said, no you`ve got to come back to court and then he sent her back to jail and that created a huge, huge paparazzi swarm.

Why is Hollywood the place that all this happens because, you know, there are plenty of stars, for example, in New York?

Let`s go to our phone calls. Linda from New York, your question or thought, ma`am.

LINDA FROM NEW YORK: Yes, I have a comment.

I know that Gloria Allred said that all money given to "Angels Waiting" will go strictly to the babies. Why should we give money to this organization and this frees up Nadya`s money to do whatever she wants to, the money that she earns from TV interviews and book reviews?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think that`s an excellent point. You`re right. I mean, everybody`s paying for all her expenses then she`s got more money and money is coming in Howard Bragman, correctomundo?

BRAGMAN: There`s a lot of money coming in. There`s Websites paying for those TV interviews reportedly being done now for (INAUDIBLE) sweeps a lot of stuff. This is amateur hour. You know what the difference is between her and Paris Hilton?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What?

BRAGMAN: You saw, Paris Hilton lived in a gated home with canvas protecting her privacy, she left in a police car and she has a private security team. She`s handling it smart and like a professional.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right.

BRAGMAN: This is amateur hour here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree.

Let`s go to these famous shot which I think is when it really crossed the line. Mike Walters, there is the Britney flashing. Isn`t it true that the paparazzi swarms got worse after drunken starlets and I`m not saying she`s a drunken starlet, but others, drunken starlets began flashing the paparazzi brought in a whole bunch of guys who weren`t really a journalist they just got a camera?

WALTERS: Well I mean, yes and no. I say no, because look, this is reminiscent, this video the one of octo-mom to when Britney actually got rolled out on a gurney when she went 50/150 to the hospital. And I`ll tell you what, the first images of that were from ABC 7 News.

And so the choppers, all the media, neighbors, paparazzi, this isn`t just paparazzi-style cameramen. This is all those people that are there hovering over and getting images of Hollywood starlets, people like Britney Spears. So this is -- everybody wants to know and everybody wants to see.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I am so sorry. We`re out of time. We`re going to come back to this story.

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

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.