Return to Transcripts main page
ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Casey`s Attorney Interviews Witnesses; Madonna Under Fire for New Adoption
Aired March 31, 2009 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, it`s a watershed week in the Casey Anthony case as her defense team goes on the attack. Jose Baez today set to question a jailhouse sergeant who may have witnessed Casey`s meltdown when her child`s remains were found near the Anthony home, but before they were identified.
Meantime, parents George and Cindy seek to storm the jailhouse gates. They`re demanding a requiem behind bars with Casey.
Then the Haleigh Cummings case takes a dramatic turn. Mom Crystal Sheffield is in a car crash after suffering an apparent seizure behind the wheel. Extreme stress is starting to take its toll on family members caught in a vortex of accusations and unanswered questions.
And does Crystal`s lawyer have more information on the mystery man named Greg who some claim was with Misty around the time Haleigh vanished?
KIM PICAZIO, CRYSTAL SHEFFIELD`S LAWYER: I just got off the phone with Greg. He did intimate a lot of details.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: does Greg hold the key to Haleigh`s disappearance?
Plus furor grows as Madonna visits Malawi in her attempts to adopt a second child from that impoverished African nation. The poor girl has no mother and lives in an orphanage. So why are people so opposed to Madonna taking her in.
And explosive news in the Octomom saga. Fifteen workers at the hospital where Nadya Suleman gave birth to octuplets were fired for taking a look at her medical records. First, the paparazzi swarm. Now this? Didn`t the workers learn anything from the Britney Spears case when UCLA workers were in hot water for sifting through her confidential records?
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a mountain of explosive new evidence set to be released in the Caylee Anthony murder case. This as Casey`s attorney, Jose Baez, suits up a string of depositions this week that could turn into verbal boxing matches.
Will the answers he gets from cops and Casey`s former friends -- emphasis on former -- backfire on his client?
And we`ll get to the bottom of Casey`s reported meltdown the day little Caylee`s remains were found, but before they were identified. Just hours ago, Baez grilled a deputy who supervises Casey. What does he know about Casey doubling over, hyperventilating and asking for medication?
Also on the defense docket, an ex-party pal of Casey`s. She told police that Casey stole and lied. She also said Casey partied like a rock star when she was supposed to be looking for her missing daughter.
Meantime, Baez has asked the judge for a private hearing. Private so he can talk strategy in secret. Should we brace for a Perry Mason moment at the trial?
Let`s go right out to my fantastic panel: Darren Kavinoky, criminal defense attorney; Remi Spencer, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; Rick Robinson, former West Virginia state trooper; and Jayne Weintraub, criminal defense attorney.
Jayne, could Jose Baez be taking a huge risk here by talking to these potentially hostile deposition witnesses who may even have more damaging secrets to tell about Casey? After all, we all hear a lawyer should never ask a question that he or she doesn`t know the answer to.
JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think that goes more for when you`re in court.
Actually, these are precisely the witnesses that he wants to take the deposition of and use it to his advantage. For example, any lawyer can walk into a deposition and say, you know, "Well, tell me what happened. And then what happened?" And then you get killed. The witness just goes on and on and on.
But a skilled lawyer will use this opportunity to thread the questions properly, condemn (ph) the details, which he already knows that the guy has said something opposite of, and use it to thread the defense strategy. That way, once in trial, you`ll be able to use it to your advantage by impeaching the witness with prior inconsistent statements. Leading questions and depositions, skills, that`s the way you take a good depo.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, by the way, the jail sergeant was deposed today, was a big bust. He was reportedly asked about Casey`s meltdown that the very day that the little remains of Caylee were found, but before they were identified as Casey`s. And he said he didn`t see anything. So, so much for knowing the answers when you`re asking questions. Apparently, Jose thought maybe this guy had seen it, and he did not, but apparently, there are two jailers who did see it who will be deposed.
Now, Jose Baez is expected to depose two of Casey`s former friends this week. This is hot-button stuff. Their testimony could be extremely damaging.
Here`s what Amy Huizenga told cops last July.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMY HUIZENGA, FRIEND OF CASEY: She was telling me the story about the fact that she`d gotten a letter from the impound saying that the car had been impounded since the 30th. They went to go pick it up, and that the car smelled like something had died.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grandma told you that?
HUIZENGA: Grandma told me that, and at that point I`m like, "Oh, yes, Casey told me she had run something over with her car." And then she proceeds to say, "Well, you know, we didn`t know that," but proceeds to tell me the rest of the story, that the impound lot because they didn`t have the keys.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, but didn`t you say that Casey blamed her dad for running something over?
HUIZENGA: ... is what she told me, but we now know that...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s what she told you.
HUIZENGA: ... nothing Casey says is true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: "Nothing Casey says is true." That`s from the mouth of the person who`s going to be deposed.
Rick Robinson, this woman, I think, could be very damaging, because she was a friend of Casey`s. She probably knows more secrets than she`s telling. Couldn`t she just blurt something out during this deposition when asked a generic question that could even hurt Casey more?
RICK ROBINSON, FORMER WEST VIRGINIA STATE TROOPER: Well, I think that that is a distinct possibility, and it would be interesting to find out exactly what happens.
But the one thing that`s interesting is attorneys, your attorney is going to tell you to go in there and answer truthfully and only answer what you need to answer. Don`t go into something that you really don`t know much about or what they`re not asking you. And it`s probably exactly -- I don`t know that there`s going to be a bombshell, in other words.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, how do you -- Darren Kavinoky, how do you defang a witness like this? This is a girl, Amy Huizenga, who grew up with Casey Anthony, who knows her like the back of her hand. This is treacherous.
DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, well, it is certainly dangerous ground to cover, but this is what`s so wonderful about the deposition. Remember, there are many, many states where you are not entitled to take depositions in criminal cases.
ROBINSON: Criminal, yes.
KAVINOKY: So this is an excellent opportunity for the defense to get this information out. The devil you know is much, much better than the devil you don`t, and if I`m defending this case, I want to know every horrible, ugly thing that this person is going say so that...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Haven`t we heard enough?
KAVINOKY: I`m sure there`s more. I`ll bet there`s more, but I`m going to want to get it out now so that I can diffuse it when it counts, which is in front of those 12 people who are ultimately going to be deciding the evidence in the case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Another doozy from Amy Huizenga. Listen to how she describes how Cindy nailed Casey in a lie about going to work when she was really out partying. Listen carefully.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUIZENGA: Casey kept saying she`s fine, "She`s fine. She`s with the nanny." And she pretty much, you know, said that she thought Casey was an unfit mother and that if this goes on much longer that she would sue for custody of Caylee if it got to that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you -- why did she think she was an unfit mom?
HUIZENGA: The going out, the partying. She -- I don`t know if you guys have seen the picture of Casey and the American flag. That`s from the No-Clothes Party that we went to in May. She pretty much shoved that picture in her face that she had printed off from her computer in her face, and said, "You`re at work, huh?" So that was the night that she had been watching Caylee, and Casey had said she was at work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That picture, of course, is this picture, showing Casey draped only in an American flag. I`ve got to ask you this, Remi Spencer. Here you hear this friend saying Cindy was about to go after custody of little Caylee, which prosecutors reportedly may use as a motive for murder.
In other words, Casey basically didn`t want her own mother to have custody of the child and would have thought it would be better to have the child dead than to have to give the child up. That`s the theory. I have no proof of that, but the theory the prosecutors are going to operate under.
REMI SPENCER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You`re right. That`s a disgusting theory, but it`s absolutely that. It`s a theory that prosecutors can pursue at trial to give the jurors an explanation for why a mother would do something so awful and tragic as what we`ve seen in this case.
The prosecutors don`t have to prove a motive in a murder case, but in my experience both as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney, the jurors want to know that, and this is certainly just that, a motive.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just don`t understand why nobody is agreeing with me that these depositions can backfire, Jayne Weintraub. I mean, this case has been crazy from the start.
WEINTRAUB: It really won`t backfire because, remember, these witnesses have given sworn statements before. Just to give you a sprinkle, for example, the private eye, Hoover. Hoover gave his sworn statement December 18. He`s on the witness list; he`ll be deposed.
He gave a sworn statement saying that Dominic Casey called him on the night that they went filming the remains, supposedly, on a tip. And Dominic Casey said that he believes that he knows now where the child is and that he believes the child is alive.
With that information Hoover goes with his cameras, and they go down to the wooded area. Now we know where the body was eventually found.
Fast forward to the deposition. In deposition under oath, he just said the other day, "I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth," and same oath and he says Dominic Casey just called me, and he said that he`d just been talking to Lee...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s your point, Jane?
KAVINOKY: But none of that`s going to make...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. We`ll go...
KAVINOKY: It`s not going to change anything. This is not going to change anything. What Jayne just mentioned, it`s not going to make any difference, because either Casey did it or she didn`t do it.
WEINTRAUB: But the depositions give you the chance to say one witness says one thing and exactly the same question, the opposite answer on another day. So you can`t believe these people, because when the judge gives the instructions, one of the things the judge will say is take into consideration, did the witness have an outcome in the interest of the case -- an interest in the outcome? All these witnesses have sold out!
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Hold on, panel, stay right from. More on the case against Casey in just a bit. Do you think one of these depositions will rock the case? 1-877-586-7297. That`s 1-877-586-7297. let me know what you think.
Meantime, 70 miles away, drama in the Haleigh Cummings disappearance. Mom Crystal in a car crash after an apparent seizure behind the wheel. Is the stress finally taking its toll?
But first Casey Anthony under fire for having a meltdown when her daughter`s remains were found, but were not yet identified. Should we cut her some slack? Everybody eventually got emotional.
Here is the sheriff after they were identified as Caylee`s remains.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF KEVIN BEARY, ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA: I think there`s been an open wound in the community, and I believe we can start putting some closure to those open wounds. And having a kid, you know, I`ve raised two girls. Goodness gracious.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE ANTHONY, FATHER OF CASEY: That`s the last time that I saw my daughter and granddaughter. My granddaughter had her backpack on. My daughter had stuffed her backpack, for work. She was dressed, I believe, in work attire. And she says, "Dad, I`m on my way to work. Caylee is going to Zanny`s house. I`ll be working late so we`ll be staying over tonight. We`ll see you guys tomorrow."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All that, a pack of lies. That is, if we`re to believe what everybody else, friends and family included, say that Casey and her fake reality.
Back with my fantastic panel, the phone lines lighting up.
Beverly in New York. Your question or thought, ma`am.
CALLER: Hi, Jane. I`m calling about the memorial service the Anthonys would like to have for Caylee behind bars.
CALLER: And I don`t feel that`s right when she`s charged with first- degree murder of Caylee.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we feel...
WEINTRAUB: She`s presumed innocent.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got some breaking news on that. And let me bring you up-to-date, and I`ll bring our viewers up-to-date.
The Anthony family had a televised memorial, of course, for little Caylee, but Casey could not attend because she was behind bars. So the Anthonys just reportedly made yet another attempt to storm the jailhouse gates and have a private service with Casey Anthony behind bars to mourn little Caylee.
But we have just learned moments ago that the Orange County jail said ain`t happening. Not happening.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Casey is, quote, "getting no special treatment," and they have no plans to allow an in-person visit. And I hear Rick Robinson saying good?
ROBINSON: She has killed her child, we all believe. I don`t think there`s anybody on the panel that feels otherwise...
WEINTRAUB: Whoa, whoa, whoa!
ROBINSON: ... memorializing her.
ROBINSON: I think it`s absurd to even -- you know what? Those guys in that jail, in the Orange County jail, that was the right thing to do. Congratulations. You made a great decision.
WEINTRAUB: Not up to them.
ROBINSON: But I think most of America will agree with me on this.
SPENCER: The decisions in this case can`t be made based on our presumption of her guilt at this stage in the case.
ROBINSON: Yada, yada, yada!
SPENCER: ... could be innocent. The fact that we presume her to be guilty and, therefore, make restrictions on her ability to do things that she might otherwise be entitled to do...
ROBINSON: She didn`t care for a month. An entire month went by. She wasn`t mourning her child. It`s absurd!
VELEZ-MITCHELL: People are afraid that the Anthonys, they`re going to think cynically, are going to use this to make points with the potential jury pool out there.
ROBINSON: Yes. That`s right. It`s almost as incredible -- it`s almost...
WEINTRAUB: At the top, you know -- you know that...
ROBINSON: ... $800,000 bucks worth of pictures of Caylee and Casey? That`s disgusting.
WEINTRAUB: Rick, no, what`s disgusting is seeing these interviews, and they`re never, ever aired publicly, never given up in discovery. They are strictly for security purposes. The cameras are for security, not for eavesdropping. But sheriff`s...
ROBINSON: Not in Florida.
ROBINSON: That`s why so many defense attorneys lose about 90 percent of the time. They don`t realize that the laws in Florida allow that.
WEINTRAUB: But I don`t. I don`t lose 90 percent of my cases.
ROBINSON: They allow that to be done.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The voice of reason -- who I nominate as Darren Kavinoky. Weigh in here.
KAVINOKY: Thank you. Gosh, I love you, Jane. So here`s -- I think everybody`s got some excellent points that they`re bringing to the discussion. And the depositions we`ve been talking about in Casey Anthony being convicted in the court of public opinion, all of that is accurate, and at some point the defense lawyer`s going to have to stand up.
If there was and they`ll have to look those jurors in the eyes and say, "You know what? I`m scared." As the defense attorney for Casey Anthony, I am frightened that all of you good people who have sworn to uphold the law and only convict somebody based upon the evidence would be so swayed -- please. Get the music, but this is absolutely true.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... hearing that, I`d be scared if I were Jose Baez, because you sound like you`d be a good attorney for Casey Anthony.
ROBINSON: I want Darren representing me.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Hold on one second. We`ve got to get to the phone lines again. Linda, Texas. Your question or thought, ma`am.
CALLER: Hi, Jane.
CALLER: My question is if Casey were to admit that she accidentally killed Caylee...
ROBINSON: Wouldn`t that be convenient (ph)?
CALLER: ... would she get the involuntary manslaughter charge?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why don`t we throw that out to Remi?
ROBINSON: That would be the decent thing to do. Wouldn`t it?
KAVINOKY: If it were true and, of course, it is.
SPENCER: Prosecutors have discretion as to how they want to prosecute their cases. If there was credible evidence to support that fact that it was an accident or it wasn`t intended, well, then involuntary manslaughter or manslaughter would be appropriate.
But ultimately, it`s up to the prosecutors. And you know, nothing about this case right now seems to support an involuntary manslaughter, but rather a more premeditated, intentional murder.
WEINTRAUB: Do you have any forensics to back that up? I haven`t seen any eyewitness and I haven`t seen any DNA.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s talk about the fact that there were searches for chloroform on Casey Anthony`s computer.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And -- found in the trunk.
ROBINSON: I wonder what that was all about. Chloroform laying around.
SPENCER: I think any trial lawyer would say that circumstantial evidence can sometimes be far more difficult to overcome than direct evidence.
ROBINSON: You`re right about that. There`s no question.
WEINTRAUB: The judge will instruct them to view it the same way.
SPENCER: My point is -- my point only is that you can cross-examine an identification witness or some other witness who is giving direct testimony or direct evidence, but you can`t cross-examine circumstantial evidence. And it can be very difficult and stuff made up.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... speculation and stuff made up.
SPENCER: Well, that`s -- that`s not accurate.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s circumstantial evidence here that he is going to explore this week in these depositions is, from ex-friends, Casey Anthony allegedly lying and stealing. Amy Huizenga is basically a victim, in her mind, of check theft.
Casey Anthony stole her checks and allegedly went to the store and bought beer at the very time that she had have been caring for her daughter.
WEINTRAUB: That doesn`t make her a killer.
KAVINOKY: She`s engaged in conduct unbecoming to a mother. There`s no question about that. There are many people who with -- exactly, it doesn`t make her a murderer. There are many people that have challenges dealing in the truth. It`s a huge step to say that they`ve killed.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`ll have to leave it right there with the voice of reason having the last word. I want to thank my fiery panel. Please come back soon.
Darren, Jane, stick around. Switching gears to the Madonna adoption scandal. She wants to adopt another orphan from Malawi. But some are saying not so fast. Why all the opposition.
And Octomom sees the downside of being a celebrity. Hospital workers snoop into her secret medical records. Now it`s nosy nurses, but first it was the paparazzi pile-on.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: In the spotlight tonight. Madonna`s powder keg of controversy as she tries to adopt a second child from the impoverished African nation of Malawi. Some human rights groups in that country are slamming the material girl, calling her plan to adopt a 3-year-old girl a kidnapping. What?
This child has no mother and lives in an orphanage. Dad, nowhere to be found. Please! Why the opposition to giving her a quality of life that`s a heck of a lot better than she will get in an orphanage?
Madonna is telling the world, butt out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell us why you`re adopting again, Madonna?
MADONNA, SINGER: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you understand people`s reservations about it seriously?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She`s got other kids. You see Lourdes is right there. She`s got Rocco. They`ve got kids to play with. And David.
Madonna says she`s going through the proper international adoption channels, so why are people hating on her and not, for example, on Angelina Jolie?
Here to hash this out, Sanford Bernardo, president of the American College of Assisted Reproduction and Adoption Lawyers. Sanford, Madonna`s charity Malawi has built a day care center that helps local kids. Her charity is establishing health programs. She didn`t just fly and scoop up the kid and leave. She also adopted another child from this very same orphanage, David, who seems to be doing quite well with her.
Why is she being demonized for giving these kids a better life?
SANFORD BERNARDO, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN COLLEGE OF ASSISTED REPRODUCTION AND ADOPTION LAWYERS: Think she went through the same firestorm a couple years ago with David that she`s going through now. The issue is the perception -- may not be the actual reality -- but the perception that a lot of people have that she`s cutting the line in order to get ahead; waive the residency requirement that Malawi has to be able to return home sooner with the child.
I think her heart`s in the right place, but I think a lot of people are rubbed the wrong way by the fact that she`s maybe not going through all of the checks and balances that others have to go to that want to adopt.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that seems to be so bizarre, to say you`re cutting the line. If you`re trying to save somebody`s life, right, and you cut the line to save somebody`s life, is anybody going to criticize you for doing that?
This child is in an orphanage.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Every day that passes this child languishes there. Yes, she has a grandmother and uncle. Where are they, though? Is she living with them? No. So I really don`t understand. Let`s listen to Madonna supporters and critics for a little bit. Listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOMINIC NUTT, SAVE THE CHILDREN, UK: Our biggest concern is that we believe that most -- the majority of cases, orphans so-called orphans, in fact, most orphans, have at least one parent living. And even those that don`t have a wider family that can`t look after them. And we believe that children in poverty should be best looked after by their own people in their own environment.
AUSTIN MSOWOYA, LAW COMMISSION OF MALAWI: If you project 20 years from now where will the child be if the child is left in the orphanage where it is or if it gets the chance to get an education with Madonna.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Obviously, the child gets a better life with Madonna than in an orphanage. What are these people thinking? I just think that they`re jealous. I think they`re threatened by a strong woman who lives a unique life, and they just can`t handle it.
BERNARDO: Well, I think this child will have a better life, but the issue is also creating this lottery concept now. Who`s going to be the lucky one next time Madonna wants a child two or three years from now, or even Angelina Jolie goes to another country, if she decides to adopt again.
It`s this perception again that there`s a lucky one that`s going to be pecked, and all the other ones get left in the orphanage. Madonna does leave a lot of money behind, health care, education and housing is improved for everybody. But some people think she`s got to have a surplus, souvenir, or a trophy instead of simply funding adoption and helping to grow the families.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She`s bringing attention to this fundamental issue. Thank you, sir.
Haleigh Cummings` mom Crystal in a car crash. We`ll tell you about it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The Haleigh Cummings case takes a dramatic turn. Mom Crystal Sheffield is in a car crash after suffering an apparent seizure behind the wheel. Extreme stress is starting to take its toll on the family members caught in a vortex of accusations and unanswered questions.
And explosive news in the octo-mom saga: 15 workers at the hospital where Nadya Suleman gave birth to octuplets were fired for snooping into her medical records. First a paparazzi swarm, now this?
More on this seemingly never-ending drama that surrounds octo-mom Nadya Suleman in just moments.
First a dramatic turn of events tonight in the search for little Haleigh Cummings, as the investigation into the 5-year-old`s disappearance enters its seventh week. That`s right, seven weeks.
Haleigh`s mother Crystal Sheffield is involved in a car accident after suffering an apparent seizure at the wheel. Her youngest daughter unhurt, thank God, in the backseat. Reports suggest Crystal has had seizures in the past, but is the stress of little Haleigh`s disappearance taking a physical toll on this distraught mother?
Plus what was Misty Croslin, Ron Cummings` new wife doing the very night little Haleigh vanished under her watch and more important, who was she with? New details emerged on ISSUES, right here just last night, about Misty`s alleged relationship with a man named Greg.
Could this have been the man in black Ron, Jr., allegedly saying he saw take Haleigh or is the finger being pointed at the wrong guy. And when will authorities finally weigh in on all of this?
So many issues, but first my expert panel: back with me, criminal defense attorney Darren Kavinoky also known as "The Voice of Reasons;" and another fabulous attorney, Jayne Weintraub; and joining us Dr. Reef Karim, psychiatrist; and by phone, Jared Halpern reporter for KOKV in Jacksonville, Florida.
Jared, what is the very latest?
JARED HALPERN, KOKV REPORTER JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA: Now, the very latest as you mentioned is that first of all that car accident that happened Monday afternoon with Crystal Sheffield. Police say that Miss Sheffield complained of a medical episode just prior to that accident. She was distracted and caused her to rear end another vehicle.
Miss Sheffield actually checked herself in and out of that hospital. Family members have told at least some news agencies out here that Crystal has had seizures in the past and that she probably will not be driving any more until doctors determine exactly what`s going on.
Obviously, it`s a situation that they`re going to look at fatigue, exhaustion, stress. You can imagine the different elements.
Beyond that, though, police have not said much, you know? A local television station had a sit-down interview with Putnam County Sheriff Jeff Hardy today who said that he`s quote, "Taking this investigation very personal."
He said it`s frustrating was that there are so many different angle it`s tough to find a focus and really narrow this broad investigation down, considering this number of inconsistencies that he said they`ve heard from a number of different people. And about this war of words that we`re starting to hear have actually said that that fight within the family is not helping that investigation, quote, "saying it`s losing the focus of the mission at hand" and that`s obviously finding little Haleigh Cummings.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow, well great update there. I wonder why authorities don`t eliminate the false rumors because that would stop the rumor mill. Rumors swirling about Misty Croslin`s alleged possible affair with a man named Greg.
Last night on our program, Kim Picazio, the attorney for Haleigh`s mom told me she had spoken with Greg. Let`s listen to exactly what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM PICAZIO, ATTORNEY FOR HELEIGH`S MOTHER: Yes. I just got off the phone with Greg. So I was here at your studio and one of my investigators that are on the case has finally located this person.
He did intimate a lot of detail. I asked him as many questions as I could. We`re going to have to -- I`d like to go and check some of his allegations. It`s my understanding he was with Misty the weekend prior to the disappearance of Haleigh. And with regard to anything with regard to that night that Haleigh went missing, I need to double-check his facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, she didn`t tell us much, but she`s going to be back with us real soon. Her story seems to corroborate what bounty hunter Cobra told T.J. Hart just last week. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WILLIAM "COBRA" STAUBS, BOUNTY HUNTER: Ronald is convinced now beyond any question of doubt that she was not there. She wasn`t home, bro. She was out [bleep] very possibly with [bleep] again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And once again, we have no knowledge of what the truth is here. We`d love to hear from Misty. We keep reaching out to her. Misty, come on the show and tell your side of the story.
But Darren Kavinoky, if all of this is nonsense and there`s no truth to it why don`t police just come out and say that so we can stop the rumor mill?
DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, first Jane, I want to thank you for publicly dubbing me "The Voice of Reason." I`m going to get a lot of mileage out of that when I get home.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I could take it back too, you know.
KAVINOKY: I know, I know.
The reason police won`t want to silence the rumor mill is because in some respects it can actually serve them. The way that people respond when these rumors come out could be very telling. And of course, investigators don`t want to come out with anything until they really have it nailed down.
So I wouldn`t hold my breath and expect that law enforcement is going to publicly come out and start denouncing anything until they really have this case sewn up.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, there are so many insinuations. The insinuations that Misty may have had some kind of affair are mounting. Kim Picazio, Crystal`s attorney, told us about her relationship with Cobra last night on ISSUES.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PICAZIO: I met Cobra which is Bill Staubs, William Staubs. I purchased a house from him, and he knew I was a divorce attorney. He needed a divorce. I was friendly with both he and his wife at the time and remained friends with him throughout the course even after the divorce.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now it seems like all these negative accusations about Misty are coming from one camp, the Crystal Sheffield camp. You see there`s a connection now between Crystal`s attorney and Cobra, the one who is going around investigating and found Greg.
Jayne, is it possible that Misty just has a friend named Greg and there`s nothing here?
JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No. I don`t think it`s possible, but I do think that the police have already found Greg and spoken with him and taken a sworn statement. I think if Kim`s lawyer found him, - - Kim`s investigator found him surely the police found him already.
What upsets me or what troubles me and the police will not comment on is, what were the circumstances of the interview that was had yesterday? And was it going to compromise in any way the missing person interview? This is not about the custody issue or the divorce. We don`t care about that. We care about trying to find Haleigh and what happened.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Reef Karim as a psychiatrist, how would you counsel either side to lower the volume on this? This has gotten so stressful and so ugly between the estranged father and mother of the missing child that you just heard, the mom had a car accident and a seizure.
DR. REEF KARIM, DIRECTOR, BEVERLY HILLS CENTER FOR LIFESTYLE ADDICTIONS: Yes and you know any time you have a lot of stress in your life and this is a huge stress. I mean, a missing kid is incredibly huge.
A lot of times people don`t know what to do because they don`t have control over the situation. So they find other ways to expel the energy that they have. And a lot of times it goes out in a negative way where you`ll see parents fighting like this.
In regards to the car accident, when you have a lot of stress, what it does is it impacts everything else that you already have in your medical history. So if someone has a history of a seizure disorder, it`s more likely that they may have a seizure because of the stress going on in their system.
Now, additionally, there could be low blood sugar. Somebody mentioned fatigue. You could have a transient ischemic attack which is like a mini stroke. There`s all sorts of other things that could be happening to cause somebody to lose consciousness or even look like a seizure.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh absolutely, I think if you`d had a nervous breakdown it would be totally understandable in a situation like this. I can`t even imagine the pressure that both of these people are under with their child missing and then at the center of a national focus and then a custody battle and all these accusations.
Last week, Kim Picazio who is the attorney for Crystal, the missing child`s mom was on "Nancy Grace." She spoke about the night Haleigh went missing and I want to play a clip from that interview. Listen very carefully.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PICAZIO: We have uncovered people, eyewitnesses that have seen her out that night with another individual. Whether or not she propped open the door and allowed a person in that night, we don`t know. None of us were there, but we surely know that she was not home with the children that night according to our eyewitnesses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Misty says she was home although she`s changed her story a number of times within that overall claim of being home. Kim claims to have spoken to people who saw her out that night.
Jared, do we have any idea who these alleged eyewitnesses are?
HALPERN: -- spoken to any of them, certainly there have been claims made that she wasn`t home. A lot of them have been made as we`ve seen throughout this entire investigation from the Sheffield side of the family.
Now, I`ve spoken to Misty seven, eight, maybe nine times since this case first broke and every single time she says that she was home the entire night.
There have been a few inconsistencies in her story but those inconsistencies that at least appeared to be relatively minor in the sense of exactly where in the mobile home Haleigh was sleeping in relation to where Misty was sleeping. But again, she`s been questioned about this I know a numerous times from police as well as to were you home the entire time?
Police have said that they`ve used polygraph and they`re obviously not disclosing what the results of those polygraphs were, however, Ronald Cummings and Misty Croslin Cummings indicate that they were told by police that they passed those polygraph tests. And of course, police obviously not disclosing publicly what the results of those polygraphs were. Also aren`t going into a lot of detail about what specifically they asked the couple. But the number of times I`ve spoken to Misty, her story about being home the entire night has not veered.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow, ok thank you, everyone, for excellent insight.
It remains a total mystery which we will try to solve and get this little girl home ok, we pray.
Turning now to octo-mom -- is her desire to be a star backfiring? Fifteen hospital workers fired after sifting through her secret medical documents. Call 1-877-JVM SAYS, that`s 1-877-586-7297 to sound off on the sad state of celebrity privacy or the lack thereof in our country.
Britney Spears was in a similar situation when UCLA workers snooped into her records, so I guess the octo-mom is in pretty good company.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Octo-mom sees the dark side of celebrity after hospital workers get their paws on her medical records. I`ll have the details.
But first "Top of the Block" tonight.
This is a horrible, disgusting, awful, nauseating story from the "You can`t make this stuff up" file. A cult member pleads guilty to killing her one-year-old son. The catch, she demanded the plea be withdrawn when the child resurrects.
Rya Ramkissoon starved her son to death because he refused to say "amen" after a meal. Cult members then stuffed his decomposing body into a suitcase with mothballs and fabric softener to mask the odor. Cops didn`t find the child for over a year.
It`s just awful to even have to report something like that. That`s tonight`s "Top of the Block."
Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, George Clooney and now octo-mom? Nadya Suleman has just become the latest paparazzi magnet to learn somebody`s been illegally peeping into her medical records. In fact, 15, count them 15 nosy employees were fired this weekend from the hospital where the octuplets were born for snooping into octo-mom`s files and eight more were disciplined.
Regardless of how you feel about octo-mom, isn`t she entitled to some privacy? Where is the balance between the public`s right to know and a celebrity`s right to privacy or -- or, or, or, when you turn your life into a media spectacle, should you expect to have your privacy violated?
Also tonight, a report surfaces Pampers rescinded their offer to sponsor her. But Pampers says that offer was never on the table. We`ll try to get to the bottom of that stink bomb.
Back with me, Dr. Reef Karim, director of the Beverly Hills Center for Lifestyle Addictions and assistant clinical professor at UCLA; and joining the conversation, the one and only Ashleigh Banfield, an anchor at the legal network "in session;" plus Ken Baker, executive news editor at E!
Ken, the hospital says these workers were just curious. But Nadya`s lawyer thinks they were trying to find the name of Nadya`s sperm donor which could be worth big bucks. What`s your take on all this?
KEN BAKER, E! EXECUTIVE NEWS EDITOR: I wouldn`t say that these people were smart because you can basically see or learn anything you want about Nadya Suleman on the Internet anywhere. You don`t have to violate any ethics code to go and do it on a hospital computer.
She`s been monetizing her entire existence; her eight children -- her 14 children`s existence ever since she became a public figure. And so I think the example here is a bad one because there`s not a lot of sympathy for her out there in the public, but when you break it down to civilians, to real people who are actually being violated like this, I think people do get up in arms about it.
So she`s just a bad poster child or poster mom for this cause because people really -- people don`t have a lot of sympathy for her because she`s sold herself out already so much. We`ve been there every step of the way. You can go on the Internet and see videos of her doing everything from burping, feeding, changing a diaper. It`s fairly ridiculous.
But the issue is a serious one in general. But I think it`s just really hard to be sympathetic to this woman.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s really crazy about this is the hospital says they gave the employees primers and told them, "Hey, you only look at records when it`s a medical necessity, not because you`re curious." And still all these people apparently did it anyway.
We all remember that crazy night when Britney Spears was taken by ambulance into the hospital. It seemed like the entire world was fascinated by that, dying to know what exactly happened to her.
At least one hospital worker was also dying to know and she acted on it. Lawanda Jackson looked up Britney`s record. She also snooped into Farrah Fawcett`s and sold those to the "National Enquirer." She pled guilty to charges and could face ten years in prison.
Ashley, what about the news organizations that buy these private details, can they get into trouble?
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": They can if they do it knowingly. And when I say that they have to knowingly be buying something that is illegal.
If someone comes to them and says I have information and they buy it not knowing that it`s stolen they`re not necessarily culpable. But Jane, if they put someone up to it, not only can they be civilly liable but they could be criminally liable for it as well.
So news organizations better take heed. Be careful of your sources.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but it doesn`t seem to stop anybody. All these warnings and all these people getting into trouble, it keeps happening.
Each celebrity reacts differently to this peeping. George Clooney`s records were improperly accessed after a motorcycle accident he had with his girlfriend at the time. He was annoyed, but he didn`t want the workers suspended or punished.
Paris Hilton on the other hand had a bunch of private information posted on the Web site including her medical records and she sued.
One star reportedly didn`t even have a chance to tell her son about a cancer recurrence when the diagnosis popped up in the "National Enquirer." And, Dr. Karim, that can certainly make somebody feel terribly violated.
DR. REEF KARIM, DIRECTOR, BEVERLY HILLS CENTER FOR LIFESTYLE ADDICTIONS: Absolutely.
This has been a problem for a long time and that`s why the U.S. Health and Human Services set up the privacy rule and the HIPAA Act which is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in `96 which essentially says, "Hey, there`s all this medical information that`s private out there. It should only be accessed by people that are actually part of the medical care or the administrative care or the insurance care of the person."
You know, a bigger issue here is why are so many of these people so focused on celebrities? It`s like -- you know? It`s like celebrities...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is the big question for our society today.
DR. KARIM: Well, that`s my point. My point is that I think celebrities; they`re almost like our new mythology. In the history we used to have Zeus and Aphrodite. We looked at Zeus for strength and Aphrodite for beauty.
Now we look at celebrities to distract from ourselves.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Ken, do you want to take a shot at that. Why we`re so obsessed with this celebrity?
BAKER: Well, work at E! I don`t think I`m going to sit here and tell the culture that they shouldn`t care about celebrities; that would that be pretty stupid of me.
BAKER: But what I will say is that Nadya Suleman she`s a celebrity I guess. She`s a public figure but she`s really just a crazy lady next door who we`re all fascinated by because we do know women sort of like this. We`ve met people who...
BANFIELD: I don`t. I have never seen anyone like this nut.
BAKER: I have to admit, I never met anybody...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m so glad she`s not living next door to me.
BANFIELD: But Jane, I want to go one further on this theory of why we`re so obsessed with celebrity. And after 21 years of working in news I think that I know why.
We`re inundated with news and most of it is bad and celebrities offer a bit of diversion. They offer us the "People" magazine amongst the racks of "Economist," "Time" and "Newsweek." It`s a diversion and something to get us away from our mundane lives and realize that we`re not as bad off as some of these folks are.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you.
Talk about octo-mom again learning the downside of celebrity, more on the octo-snooping in just a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY FOR ANGELS IN WAITING: She and her attorney permitted a dangerous and unhealthy environment inside of home for the babies` arrival.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s the famous attorney, Gloria Allred, the attorney for Angels in Waiting criticizing octo-mom while reports surface medical records for Nadya Suleman were illegally accessed by hospital staffers.
Phone lines lighting up. Haley, Missouri, your question or thought.
HALEY, MISSOURI: Hi, Jane. I watch your show all the time.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you. I hope you keep watching.
HALEY: I sure will.
My question is like we all have to -- if we go at the hospital doctor, we to pay our bills. Why she any different to pay hers when she is getting big bucks in?
BANFIELD: Well, we don`t really know her medical setup at this point. We don`t know how much of her bills she may be paying or how much the state of California may be taking on. There were earlier reports saying a lot of the state of California was splitting the bill for these babies.
But she has since started making some money with the videos that you`re seeing currently on your screen. That it is well thought that she`s selling to Radaronline or licensing to Radaronline. So we don`t know exactly what it is that she`s costing us and we really shouldn`t pass judgment.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I did ask her attorney, who was on our show last night, who was going to pay the medical bills from the hospital? And he said that he thought that the hospital was going to bill Medi-Cal, California`s health care system.
BANFIELD: Most of it will be.
BANFIELD: Honestly, it`s into the millions.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, millions.
BANFIELD: And so there`s no way she`s going to be able to foot the bill for that fancy house and pay her medical bills.
Linda, Tennessee. Question or thought, ma`am?
LINDA, TENNESSEE: Well, yes, I thought it was reported before by somebody that she probably already raked in a little over a million dollars. And quickly before we go off, the other thing is I think the doctor`s the dad and I don`t think that she care that her medical records have been looked into because that`s a loss (ph).
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I have to tell you, Ken Baker, I don`t know anything about who the dad is, but what about this money claim? How much is she raking in, do you know?
BAKER: You know the sources that I talked to estimate that she`s made at least hundreds of thousands of dollars. I doubt she`s made as much as a million dollars.
But this is a woman who essentially was unemployed. She did not have job and her job has become to sell herself and to sell her children`s lives and the documentation of that.
And guess what? We`re all sitting here talking about it. We`re watching it. We`re consuming it. And as long as we care, she`s going to continue to make money off it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Does this story have legs, Ashleigh, as they say?
BANFIELD: It has 16 legs. And hate to say that, but I think the reality of this, Jane, is it`s not just a freak show. It`s something that we all can`t imagine ourselves being in. And unless we see it all day long, we can`t believe it`s going to end.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It seems like fiction, except it`s all too real. Thanks to my fabulous panel.
I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell. You`re watching ISSUES.