Edition: U.S. | Arabic | Set Pref

 

Return to Transcripts main page

ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Body Found of Missing 8-year-old; Eliot Spitzer Opens Up about Scandal

Aired April 7, 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 horror strikes a close-knit California community as they come to grips with the unthinkable. One minute beautiful 8-year-old Sandra Cantu is skipping joyfully down the street. Tragically, last night her body was found stuffed inside luggage in an irrigation ditch near her home. As grief turns to outrage, cops vow to track down the killer.

How does a family cope with such a horrific discovery? We`ll bring you expert analysis.

Then, another murder of a young girl. What`s with this, America? We sift through the stunning new evidence in the Caylee Anthony murder case. It appears prosecutors botched the latest evidence, though, as they mistakenly released audio of cops giving their take on Casey`s jailhouse meltdown when a child`s remains were found near the Anthony home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She collapsed into the chair and started to -- what appeared to be hyperventilating.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We were not supposed to hear that. Has it tainted the jury pool? Has the prosecution handed the defense a gift?

Plus Chris Brown pleads not guilty in the Rihanna beating. But after the arraignment Rihanna`s lawyer spoke for her and Chris Brown. It seems the accused batterer is on the same team as his alleged victim. Is Rihanna betraying herself and other women?

And speaking of betrayal Eliot Spitzer breaks his silence. The disgraced former New York governor sits down with Matt Lauer to talk Hookergate. Is he truly remorseful or just trying to clean up his image for another stint in the national spotlight? I will show you the clip.

ISSUES starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s happened again. A beautiful young girl with a family and community that adored her is abducted and brutally murdered. Why? How is it that this keeps happening over and over again and we seem helpless to stop it?

The latest gruesome discovery late last night in the case of missing California girl Sandra Cantu. The 8-year-old`s body was found stuffed into a piece of luggage and thrown into a local irrigation pond.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF JANET THIESSEN, TRACY POLICE DEPARTMENT: The bag was taken from the water and transported to the San Joaquin county morgue where it was opened. Inside the bag we located the body of Sandra Cantu.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Authorities are conducting an autopsy today as friends and family try to come to grips with this child`s incomprehensible death. Sandra`s mother passed out and was hospitalized after hearing this horrific news.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SGT. TONY SHENEMAN, TRACY POLICE SPOKESMAN: This is an unimaginable loss for any parent. It`s a very difficult loss for our community.

THIESSEN: We will be determining the person or persons responsible for this reprehensible act, and we will bring them to justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Today, the search for her killer intensified as police executed a search warrant on a Baptist church just a stone`s throw from Sandra`s home. The eerie sight of crime scene tape around the church has everybody wondering could there be a connection? We have a full panel of experts onboard tonight.

Dr. Bill Mannion, a pathologist and assistant medical examiner; Don Clark, former special agent in charge, Houston FBI; Jean Casarez, legal correspondent for the legal network In Session. Plus Crystal Evans, a clinical psychologist with MomLogic.com. Also, Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels and a talk show host for ABC, as well as Sergeant Sheneman, public information officer with the Tracy Police Department along with a reporter from Eric Firpo, reporter at "Tracy Press."

Sergeant, we have to start with you. You just held a news conference a little while ago where you updated us about the church that was cordoned off with police tape as well as the pastor. What did you tell the public?

SHENEMAN: I told the public that there had been some misinformation put out earlier today that the pastor was our prime suspect and that he was about to be arrested, and that is incorrect.

There is going to be a search that`s going to be conducted at the Baptist church later today in conjunction with this investigation and that we`re continuing to ask for the public`s assistance in determining who murdered Sandra Cantu.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So I`m understanding you to say you do not have a suspect? You`re following various leads, and this pastor is not a suspect. So why are you going into the church?

SHENEMAN: Probable cause was developed through the investigation last evening that allowed a judge to sign a search warrant, and that`s why we`re going in.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. So just to recap because these are developments that are changing very rapidly. Police cordoned off a church today, the Clover Road Baptist Church just an eighth of a mile from the little girl`s mobile home park.

The pastor of that church confirmed through KRON saying that he was questioned by police and that authorities seized computers, phones and other items from his family`s trailer. He said his granddaughter played with Sandra on a regular basis, but that he had had absolutely nothing to do with her disappearance. You just heard police confirming that he is not a suspect, I repeat, not a suspect in Sandra`s killing, and he`s not connected to the luggage. Of course, sadly, this poor child, found stuffed into luggage.

Let`s go to Eric Firpo. He is the city editor at "Tracy Press," and he has been following this case from the very start. Eric, so many fast and furious developments. What can you tell us about the search, because apparently various search warrants were served and various cars were seized, various people interviewed.

ERIC FIRPO, CITY EDITOR, "TRACY PRESS": Well, I mean, we can only sort of repeat what the police have said and what the people that we`ve talked to who have been searched. We`ve talked to a couple of people who had their home searched.

Next -- next on the list to be searched is the church, which is just a few hundred yards from where we`re standing. And the pastor of the church did live in the mobile home park. We don`t know if his home was searched last night. He lives with his wife, but they did search a house and a home that had not been searched before in the mobile home park last night.

So, you know, which one that was, we don`t know yet. The search warrants are going to be sealed. So until they`re unsealed we`re not going to have answers to these kinds of questions because, you know, unless there is a leak in the police department they`ve been pretty good about not having any of those.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Farm workers draining an irrigation pond found the black suitcase, which hadn`t been there when they dug it up more than two weeks ago. They immediately reported it to cops as being suspicious. Before the authorities even looked inside the bag, they did a massive sweep of the location, taking in evidence, including footprints and tire tracks. They even mapped the entire area with a laser device.

Don Clark, why the meticulous evidence gathering before removing and opening the suitcase?

DON CLARK, FORMER SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, HOUSTON FBI: Jane, just great police work, and I really applaud this police department. They have done a spectacular job of moving to find this little girl`s body.

First of all, you don`t want to contaminate the scene that you`re going to go into and get something out. You don`t know what`s there. It may be nothing there. In this case, it was a very unfortunate little girl that`s in there.

So they took very delicate steps to get to that, and they followed through to get to the church and get a search warrant.

And I want to mention one other thing, Jane, with you being a lawyer and other lawyers on that you know how difficult it is to get a search warrant, but any building, and particularly a church building, which tells me that they have some other evidence there that we don`t know about.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Don, thank you for promoting me, but I`m not actually an attorney.

But I want to go to Jean Casarez, who has covered so many cases. Tell us where this all began. The last time we saw this gorgeous little child skipping happily near her home and bring us up to these latest developments, the tragic news of her death discovered.

JEAN CASAREZ, CORRESPONDENT, IN SESSION: Jane, it was March 27, a week ago Friday. She came home from school. She told her mother she wanted to go visit a friend. And this is in this mobile home park, which is really an exclusive community, I think, foreign to the outside. It`s the mobile homes and entrance and exit.

She went to that little friend`s house. We saw her skip away from her own home. Her own family had actually put cameras up because of some auto theft issues. And that was the last time she was ever seen.

She went to that little friend`s house. She did play, but after that no one saw her again.

And I think at this point, Jane, the big question and you hit it off the top of your show, what is the probable cause that led them to that church? If we look at the timeline, last night on your show you showed that black bag which is now being referred to as luggage, and it was daylight when it was found.

And then we saw the crime scene tape around the church, which I think was the evening hours. So what probable cause did they get from that suitcase or from the execution of a search warrant on a home inside that led them to that church?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but just to clarify, Eric, the police, did they not say in their news conference moments ago that the pastor is not connected to the luggage -- Eric.

FIRPO: Well, I`m not sure I heard that. Yes, I don`t think I -- I don`t think I necessarily heard that. I mean...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jane, I think we did hear that.

FIRPO: You kept saying, well, here`s the thing. Jane, you kept saying, so he`s not a suspect, but they`re not really saying who is a suspect and who isn`t a suspect.

Tony Sheneman did not say the pastor is not a suspect. What he said was that there was information earlier today that was put out that he allegedly said this guy was a suspect, and he said that information is wrong.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, isn`t that the same thing? Jean Casarez?

FIRPO: Because they`re not saying -- they`re really not saying who is a suspect and who isn`t a suspect. They`re kind of leaving it wide open. So...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I see what you mean.

FIRPO: The guy is not necessarily not a suspect.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But he`s not necessarily a suspect.

FIRPO: That`s true.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. I think it`s a nuance. Jean, do you want to clarify it a little bit more?

CASAREZ: Sure.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jean, do you want to clarify more?

CASAREZ: I think you`re exactly right. Let`s look at the facts. This is a church that is very close to the mobile home park. Traditionally churches have been an open building. Anyone can go into a church. Traditionally churches are open.

So it being a crime scene, I think we just have to look at the church itself as a possible crime scene at this point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Exactly. You`re absolutely right, Jean. Anybody could have gone in there with this poor child, and it might have absolutely nothing to do with anybody who`s associated with the church.

Hang on. More on last night`s tragic discovery in just moments. And of course, I want to hear from you about this outrage, this obscenity, this child`s life taken: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. Your thoughts on this truly awful development.

Then, another beautiful child tragically murdered, Caylee Anthony. I will examine the newest evidence against her mom Casey. But first, the heartbreaking discovery of little Sandra Cantu`s body has left this small community in total shock.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHENEMAN: It is very difficult for us to fathom that someone would do this, and we were looking forward to finding Sandra alive and well. Most of the investigators involved with this are parents, and it`s very difficult to imagine that as parents.

Professionally, it`s a fact that`s driving everyone to find out who did it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHENEMAN: This is an unimaginable loss for any parent. It`s a very difficult loss for our community.

THIESSEN: We will be determining the person or persons responsible for this reprehensible act, and we will bring them to justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Police now searching for the killer of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu after finding her body stuffed into a piece of luggage and discarded like trash in an irrigation ditch. Absolutely sick of seeing and disgusting. And we will not here on ISSUES treat this as just another news story.

This kind of horror must stop. We must, as a society, say this is totally unacceptable.

I`m back taking your calls on this latest tragic case, and they are lit up. But before I go there, I want to go to my old friend Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels.

You know, 30 years ago when I was a cub reporter and you were a young guy in a cap running around the streets of the city and riding the subways fighting crime. I did an interview with you, and we talked about violent crime. And here we are three decades later, still talking about violent crime.

Something is sick with our society, Curtis, that we have to deal with. I think the only thing that has to change when it comes to this kind of violence is everything.

CURTIS SLIWA, FOUNDER, GUARDIAN ANGELS: Tell you something, Jane, 30 years has made a difference. So we had Guardian Angels from Modesto and Sacramento help the thousands of citizens who came out looking for clues to try to track down where Sandra was, and in fact, unfortunately, as you could see, found in that suitcase in an irrigation ditch.

And the horror of finding out, as you go through the registry of pedophiles and sexual assaulters and molesters who live in proximity of that trailer camp, Jane, there are dozens of them! Dozens! Embedded within an area that we consider to be like "Leave it to Beaver," "Father Knows Best" and "Little House on the Prairie." All of these men potentially capable of striking out at young children again. It`s just horrific.

Once a tragedy like this occurs, you become aware of your surroundings, and you go, "We`ve got to protect the kids. If we can`t protect the kids who can we protect?"

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Dr. Evans, as a clinical psychologist, you must know how terrified the people in this mobile home park are, because right now they have said they think there`s a killer on the loose, and they don`t know who amongst them might be responsible.

DR. CRYSTAL EVANS, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: That`s true. That kind of fear kind of enlists everyone to come forward and say, "We`ve got to do something about it."

The bottom line is they don`t know who it is. They don`t know if it`s somebody they know, if it`s somebody that`s been watching, if it`s someone who lives within the community and, therefore, we have to take measures. The people feel that they have to take measures to be cautious and safe and reduce that level of fear that they must be feeling.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Steve in Missouri. Thanks for your patience. Your question or thought, sir.

CALLER: Thank you, Jane. Love the show. And I`m with you, I had a chance to meet Curtis and his wife in St. Louis one time. And it`s a great group, and they don`t get enough credit.

SLIWA: True.

CALLER: My question is for Don Clark. If you would kind of turn this into the Casey Anthony case, if they found the bag and the skull would have never rolled out, they would have opened the bag to see what it was if someone reported it.

Obviously, they have a lot of evidence because they never opened that suitcase, they took it straight to the morgue, and they put all the police tape up. So, obviously, they knew what was in the bag. They wouldn`t just take the luggage to the morgue not knowing what was in there, would they?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Steven, let me direct that question, excellent question to Dr. Bill Mannion. We have a forensic pathologist here, and we`re very happy to have him. Dr. Mannion?

DR. BILL MANNION, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Now, that`s an excellent question, and I thought about that myself. And I think, because of all of the publicity here, when something showed up unexpectedly, they were immediately thinking, "Well, this little girl`s missing. Maybe this little girl could be in this bag."

I don`t think there was any evidence ahead of time that said that the child was stuffed in a bag or something like that. I haven`t heard anything like that.

But just because of all the publicity, I`m very grateful that no one opened the bag. There are things that could have spilled out or lost evidence. Instead, they intelligently took the body -- the bag to the morgue where they can photograph things, document things, even look for latent fingerprints on the bag itself before they even opened the bag. So that was a tremendous bit of police work.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Smart move by the police. This weekend, cops released the last known video of Sandra Cantu. The surveillance video, as we`ve been mentioning, shows the 8-year-old child joyfully skipping through her community, wearing a pink Hello Kitty shirt with black leggings.

Authorities have said they identified Sandra`s body, in part, by the clothing she was wearing, including the Hello Kitty T-shirt.

So, of course, Don Clark, everyone is totally afraid and hoping that this child wasn`t subjected to some horrible ordeal even before she died. What does the fact that she was wearing clothing tell you as an investigator?

CLARK: Well, you know, the fact that she was wearing clothing does not mean that she didn`t go through some horrible ordeal that was going on. Oftentimes, unfortunately, these people will try and make things the way they were before whatever incident took place did.

And people who do something this sinister will do these types of things. I think the clinical psychologist will bear me out that we never can really depict what they`re doing. So I -- you know, we just can hope. We can only hope that she didn`t go through it, but we just don`t know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Linda, Texas. Question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: I have two short questions. First of all, was there a national Amber Alert? Did that happen whenever Sandra first became missing. And also have any of the family members -- have they taken any kind of polygraph test or anything?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let`s go back to Eric on that.

FIRPO: OK. There was no Amber Alert. And the explanation that`s given is that in California, apparently, they only will issue an Amber Alert if they have a description of a car or a license plate. They didn`t have either one of those.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I understand that the dad said that he did take a polygraph, but we don`t have any independent confirmation of that.

FIRPO: Right. Police aren`t saying whether he did or not.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I want to thank my excellent panel. We will have more on this heart-wrenching story in just a bit.

And I will have an update on the case against Chris Brown. Is Rihanna working with the man alleged to have beaten her because she wants to get this case over with?

Plus disgraced former New York governor, Eliot Spitzer, finally speaks out on camera about Hookergate. You don`t want to miss this one.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A prostitution scandal deals a crushing blow to one of the nation`s most powerful politicians. In the spotlight tonight Eliot Spitzer, known as client No. 9 at a VIP escort service, had a hooker habit that cost him his career as governor of New York. His fling with call girl Ashley Dupre nearly destroyed his family and now, just over a year since his fall from grace, Spitzer is speaking out to Matt Lauer on NBC`s "Today."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIOT SPITZER, I have tried to think about it deeply, address it. As I say, there are no excuses. I have tried to address these gremlins and confront them. What I did was an egregious violation of trust to my family, to colleagues, to the state, and I`ve paid a price and appropriately so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Gremlins? Is that what they`re called these days?

So is this real remorse or is Spitzer plotting a course back into the national spotlight? Let`s go straight out to Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels and WABC radio host.

Curtis, what gives with Eliot`s -- I guess you`d have to call it an apology tour.

SLIWA: Well, you see, he normally would have said demons, but he`s already thinking of recycling himself and saying, "I`ll do what Blago did. I`ll refer to movies." That`s why he said gremlins.

So Ashley Dupre did the freaky-deaky, the jiggle-wiggle, had unsafe sex without the jimmy cap for $4,300. And I`m telling you, I know Eliot Spitzer and know him well. He`s already figuring out states are on the verge of imploding fiscally like California, $42 billion looming deficit.

He`s now going to turn this around after doing his mea culpas and say, you know, "We should legalize prostitution."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s your prediction?

SLIWA: Tax it. Oh, yes. Just like Nevada.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I kind of agree with him to a certain degree, because obviously, it`s something that is the oldest profession. And it`s not going anywhere. So maybe we need to come up with a new approach.

Obviously, his approach of cracking down on it while using it at the same time wasn`t working.

SLIWA: Yes, but you see, he`s going to say, "Hey, if we`re going to bail out Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security -- and you know that`s the looming monsters that we face -- we`re going have to tax. And if rich guys like me want to spend in order to have sin and flesh, then sin tax me 20, 30, 40 percent.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know if his wife is going to like that whole proposal.

Now, Spitzer was an anti-crime crusader cracking down on prostitution and Wall Street corruption. So some people were looking to take him down.

Here`s more from NBC`s "Today Show."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, NBC`S "THE TODAY SHOW": You were a man who had enemies. You had to considerate some point down the road that somebody was going to say something to someone else, and you were going to get caught.

SPITZER: Right. Right.

LAUER: Did that cross your mind?

SPITZER: It crossed my mind, but like many things in life, you ignore the obvious at a certain moment because you simply don`t want to confront it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If he`s the governor of New York and he`s made a lot of enemies, he`s paying for prostitutes and he`s not worried about getting caught?

SLIWA: Yes, but you see, he was on top of the world at the time. The sheriff of Wall Street and the guy who had aspirations like all elected officials that one day he`d run for president.

And remember, Jane, he had his own dossier. He had his own J. Edgar Hoover file on a lot of these guys, the so-called enemies. They dropped a dime on him and he dropped a dime on them. And naturally, he figured johns never get busted. It`s always the madams, the hookers and the pimps.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, he was right. Except that he`s not in jail right now, is he? He`s jogging in Central Park, I hear.

Hey, Curtis, I want to thank you, because I`ve got to say, this story, we need to stay on top of it and bust the hypocrisy.

More outrage, fallout from new evidence in the Casey Anthony case. You`ve got to see it to believe it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The mistaken release of stunning new evidence in the Casey Anthony trial. Cops give their take of that cataclysmic day of Casey`s jailhouse meltdown when remains were found near the Anthony home. We weren`t supposed to hear that. I`ll examine this and other explosive clues.

Plus Chris Brown pled not guilty in the Rihanna beats, but after the arraignment Rihanna`s lawyer spoke for her and Chris Brown. Is the accused batterer on the same team as the alleged victim?

More on the evidence explosion in the Casey Anthony case in just minutes, but first, back to the heart wrenching discovery of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu`s body last night. The second grader found stuffed into a piece of luggage and discarded like trash in an irrigation ditch.

How obscene.

I am back with Jean Casarez, a legal correspondent for the network "In Session." Jean, what is the very latest?

JEAN CASAREZ, "IN SESSION" LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this missing person`s investigation has now turned into a murder investigation.

And the suitcase that migrant workers found -- law enforcement has been combing the area for over a week now -- but it was the migrant workers, the irrigation workers that went to this pond. They were going to drain it for irrigation purposes. They are the ones that found that suitcase. They are the ones that did not open it, but called law enforcement.

Law enforcement arrived at the scene, secured the scene as a crime scene because they now knew what they had to do and that investigation has been forthcoming.

The autopsy has been taking place today. We do not know any results on the cause or manner of death, but there is crime scene tape of a Baptist Church very close to the mobile home area. But now is the time investigators and police are putting together the puzzle pieces which may end up in the district attorney`s hands for formal charges.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, you mentioned the autopsy. We know that the child was missing for ten days before that suitcase was discovered. We also know that that suitcase was submerged in a pond. So obviously, one of the issues is going to be the condition of this poor child`s body.

CASAREZ: That`s true. And we don`t know what the condition is.

Now, we have heard that the clothes are on the child, but you know what I think is interesting, forensically speaking and also possibly intentional murder interesting, is the fact that her "Hannah Montana flip- flops" are said to have still been on her feet.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh.

CASAREZ: That shows me, Jane, an intentional act by someone to try to dispose of every single bit of evidence that could have been linked to this little girl.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know -- and I have to say you and I have both covered so many violent crimes and I`ve been saying on this show, enough. We can`t just treat it as another news story because on some level that`s sort of a tacit, "Well, it`s going to happen."

And I think we as media, as a society need to stand up and say enough. This is unacceptable and we would like to envision a world where this cannot happen because in order to achieve something you first have to imagine it.

CASAREZ: That`s right. And when you think about the mobile home park where everyone knows everyone -- that`s really a secluded environment -- it`s not just a neighborhood that anybody can drive up in, one would think.

Then you have to say well, what are police doing right now the search warrants that have been executed and the crime scenes and there can be multiple crime scenes in this case. I think we can develop what you`re saying, Jane, as we go along in this investigation and find out who they ultimately will find in charge.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, we need justice in this case. We need to find the monster who did this or the monsters and put them away. And we also need to look at our society and find out what is so sick about it that we have this cancer of child after child, usually girls being killed.

It`s sick. Thank you, Jean. Come back soon.

CASAREZ: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We re all hoping for swift justice for Sandra Cantu. And I`m hoping we can make some changes in our culture that lead to less violence especially against helpless children.

Turning now to yet another tragic story of a little girl found dead, Caylee Anthony. Her own mother Casey Anthony awaits trial for the toddler`s murder. Yesterday prosecutors dumped a ton of evidence in the case but get this, some of the evidence was never supposed to be released.

That`s right. It was a big mistake. Potentially damaging recordings of cops describing Casey having a meltdown on the December day she found out that the body of an unidentified toddler had been found.

We will listen to every detail. It seems like prosecutors dropped the ball here big time. Will the mistaken evidence leak help or hinder Casey`s defense? Plus the million dollar question, why did Casey Anthony wait a month to report her little girl missing?

We will listen to another ridiculous claim Casey made in a police cruiser on her way to her indictment for first-degree murder of her little girl. You will not believe your ears.

So many ISSUES. First to my fantastic panel: Dr. Dale Archer, clinical psychiatrist -- and quite a team we have here as well; Jayne Weintraub, criminal defense attorney; and Stacey Honowitz, Florida prosecutor.

We`re going to the ladies first. Stacey, did prosecutors make a huge mistake by releasing these audio interviews. In essence, have they given the defense a gift and now they can turn around and say, "Hey, she can`t get a fair trial. Look at the stuff that`s being released."

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, I have to tell you something, Jane, you could say that about all of the evidence so far that`s been released that prosecutors might have made a mistake because she`s not going get a fair trial.

We all know the bottom line is this case has taken on a life of its own. And so this is just another piece of the puzzle where the defense is going to be able to walk in and say this is not -- we`re not going to be able to find a fair jury and we`re going to have move it. Another set up for a motion for change of venue.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, well we have to listen to the details on this one.

The evidence prosecutors mistakenly released were recordings of interviews with jail officers who were with Casey Anthony on December 11th as the news broke on TV and radio that unidentified remains were found near her parents` house.

Here`s Lieutenant Tammy Unser describing Casey`s reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. TAMMY UNSER, JAIL OFFICER: She collapsed into the chair and started to, what appeared to be, hyperventilating. She lost her breath, we told her a couple of times to take some deep breaths. She was, got real shallow breathing. Her hands started to sweat. She started rubbing them profusely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It was only many days later that those remains were actually identified as being Caylee`s. Many days later, during previous erroneous news reports of remains being found let`s say in a local park, jail workers say, Casey had no reaction at all.

She reportedly reacted only to the story that turned out to be the real deal.

Sergeant Billy Richardson also describes her meltdown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SGT. BILLY RICHARDSON, JAIL OFFICER: She showed signs of despair with the way she was holding herself, trying to pull herself in, she had signs of hyperventilation with heavy, deep breathing that was taking place. She then bent over and made complaints that she was feeling sick to her stomach and was going throw up and not that she ever did, but she still made those complaints.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Dr. Dale Archer hearing that, what do you make of her reaction?

DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHIATRIST: Well, I mean, I think the important thing here, Jane, is you hit the nail on the head. Why did she not react when other remains were found earlier?

So she only reacts when it`s actually her daughter. I mean, this to me is just very, very -- looks very bad for her, and I mean, if everything that I hear on this case amazes me more and I`ve gotten to the point now where I`m thinking she`s not just a sociopath. I`m starting to think that this woman may have a paranoia disorder.

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER: And if prosecutors wait much longer, what are you going say then, I men, when they can`t find the evidence to bring her to trial within a year or two are you going to have a different statement?

ARCHER: No, I mean, I think that the point is that we`re learning more and more every day. I mean, every day that more comes out, more that doesn`t fit and more that`s starting to say, you know what? Maybe there is more than just someone who is trying to cover up a murder if she`s guilty.

Maybe this person really does have a psychiatric diagnosis that we need to be able to evaluate. And the problem is...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes but she didn`t plead insanity. She didn`t plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

(CROSS TALK)

ARCHER: It`s impossible in this case where she has a vested interest...

WEINTRAUB: This is why we have to confront the evidence under our Constitution.

ARCHER: ... interest in order to be able to maintain her innocence to just keep this going. So this is an extremely difficult case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Jayne what do you say there, Jayne?

WEINTRAUB: Look Jane, there are very simple legal issues. We all have a Constitution and rules of procedure that we all need to abide by. A prosecutor`s duty is not to convict at all costs. A prosecutor`s duty is to be fair, evaluate the evidence and present the evidence through a jury.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me jump in, do you think prosecutors should be punished for this...

WEINTRAUB: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... goof up?

WEINTRAUB: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So why should they be punished?

WEINTRAUB: Yes and I`ll tell you why. How many times are they going to say, "Oops, I`m so sorry?" That`s why we have rules. They have to abide by them and when they don`t they have to be sanctioned.

But I`ll tell you something more Jane, what`s very troubling, you have polluted the integrity of the whole system when you let prosecutors just say, "Oops, I`m sorry. Oops, I`m sorry." And I`ll tell you the worst of all of this, they are dumping this discovery so piecemeal months later. These statements were transcribed back in December.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right.

WEINTRAUB: Why did they take four months to learn this thing?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Listen I agree, I agree.

HONOWITZ: But they could have come out at that time four months ago. Listen Jane, the bottom line is as Jayne Weintraub knows, this case in and of itself is huge. You have prosecutors that sometimes don`t know what investigators or police officers, what`s going on because it`s just so big.

Is it accidental? Of course, it is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.

HONOWITZ: Is it going to pollute the jury any more than it already has? It`s been going on for months.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to get to this other startling piece of evidence; a recording of Casey Anthony talking to investigators from the back of a police cruiser the day of her arrest. Listen to this ridiculous claim.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

CASEY ANTHONY, MOTHER OF CAYLEE ANTHONY: I`ve had interest in helping law enforcement from the beginning. Unfortunately, my hands were literally tied and I was put in a position where someone`s trying to trick a confession out of me and...

OFFICER: Well, I don`t want to -- no don`t, don`t...

ANTHONY: ... that`s not going to happen.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right Dr. Dale Archer, what do you make of her claim that she wanted to help them from the start when she didn`t report the child missing for a month?

ARCHER: You know, I mean how are they going to trick her into a confession when she didn`t do it? So I mean, this is just one more example of things that she is saying that are so bizarre and so skewed from reality that it`s just is painting a picture of someone...

(CROSS TALK)

WEINTRAUB: We`ve never had this situation. She probably just spoke to her lawyer. This was not the first time that she was brought into the police station. She knows the words trying to trick me even though the cops was right over her and Jose Baez left for five minutes and said whatever you do, don`t talk.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Stacey ten seconds.

ARCHER: Yes, I`m not going to disagree with that...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stacey has the last word, ten seconds.

ARCHER: Yes, I`m not going to disagree...

HONOWITZ: Jane, if you want to believe that she was trying to cooperate. She`s a mother who didn`t turn this or who didn`t even give the information for 31 days.

She`s not the one that reported it. It was her mother.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.

HONOWITZ: So how could she say that she was trying to cooperate? And that`s all the evidence they have.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We will argue about this case, again another day. Thank you, excellent panel.

Turning to the death of Anna Nicole Smith, her former boyfriend in court today expected to fight charges that he drugged Anna Nicole or at least supplied her with drugs. I will have an update.

Plus, another celebrity in court, Chris Brown pleads not guilty in the Rihanna beating, but he allegedly is working hand in hand with the alleged victim, Rihanna, to tidy it all up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Chris Brown enters a not guilty plea in the Rihanna beating. I will tell you what Rihanna`s dad had to say about that.

But first, "Top of the Block."

Anna Nicole Smith`s former boyfriend hauled into court today. Howard K. Stern and Dr. Khristine Eroshevich were set to be arraigned on felony drug and conspiracy charges related to Anna Nicole`s fatal 2007 overdose, the arraignment now delayed until May 13th.

Stern is expected to enter a plea of not guilty at that time. It appears he is ready to fight these charges with everything he`s got. Here is his lawyer attacking the Attorney General today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE SADOW, LAWYER FOR HOWARD K. STERN: Brown, not Howard K. Stern is the real enabler in this misguided and unprecedented prosecution.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Here on ISSUES I will update you on the very latest developments in what is sure to be an intense legal battle.

That is tonight`s "Top of the Block."

Chris Brown pleads not guilty in the alleged assault on pop star girlfriend Rihanna, but in the aftermath of the arraignment some disturbing questions. Why was Rihanna`s lawyer speaking for her and Chris Brown at the same time and what`s up with those screaming fans as Brown strolled into court?

Take a look at this. Why are these women screaming and exalting this man who faces felony charges, felony charges that he bit, punched, choked and threatened to kill pop star Rihanna? I do not get it. Why are they cheering him?

Also, it seems the accused batter is in cahoots and strategizing with the alleged victim speaking with one voice through Rihanna`s lawyer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD ETRA, RIHANNA`S ATTORNEY: I believe that there are efforts on behalf of all of the parties to try to resolve the case expeditiously and fairly. I think that would benefit everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Does that make a mockery of justice? Is Rihanna betraying herself and other women? How is justice served if the victim and the accused are working together to make it all go away. Somebody please explain that to me.

Plus, Rihanna`s dad reacts to Brown`s not guilty plea by asking so what happened. Did somebody else do this to my daughter? Rihanna`s dad then tells Brown to stop being in denial.

And joining me: Brenda Wade, clinical psychologist as well as Mike Walters, managing editor at TMZ. Mike, what is the very latest?

MICHAEL WALTERS, MANAGING EDITOR, TMZ: Like you said Jane, the weirdest part of this and I think it was a bold statement, is that Donald Etra who is Rihanna`s attorney was the one speaking on behalf of both parties after the Chris Brown`s hearing.

Now, remember the thing we just heard him say was all -- there are efforts with all the parties to resolve this quickly. Who is all the parties? When was the last time that you saw a victim -- the victim`s attorney speak on behalf of the person that`s being -- you know, is on trial or in court? It`s just weird and maybe two music moguls in this situation that makes sense.

But like you said it, it doesn`t make sense, even the fans outside. You`ve got girls yelling about Chris Brown about how they want to see him and oh, I`m a fan. It`s like, it doesn`t make sense in the normal world or in a normal case like this. None of it makes sense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well Brenda Wade, as a psychologist, does it upset you because it really upsets me to see girls cheering on this guy...

BRENDA WADE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... when he`s accused of beating up this beautiful woman and then it`s doubly upsetting that she apparently wants it all to just go away as opposed to working through the system.

WADE: It is very upsetting, Jane. It is very upsetting because the message here is that Chris is not accountable. And by working in cahoots, the two lawyers, what Rihanna is basically saying is that she deserved to be beaten and he`s not accountable.

And what we know is that if people are not held accountable for this kind of behavior it does not change. Chris is not going to get a strong enough message that there are boundaries. Those boundaries are called justice. And Rihanna is not going to learn to grow her own self love, her own self esteem and stand up for herself as a woman.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes and this wasn`t just a slap or a moment. This was something that went on and on. I`m holding in my hands ...

WADE: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... the statement that she gave to cops. And let me tell you, it goes on and on; punched her in the face, mouth filled with blood and blood spattered all over her clothing and the interior of the vehicle. Page after page it goes on and on.

Mike Walters, this isn`t just a slap.

WALTERS: Right, well remember, we TMZ posted the one photo which was horrible in itself. But I can tell you the other thing is one of the reasons they don`t want to go to trial in this case and Rihanna and Chris Brown don`t want this to go any further is because there are more photos, Jane -- there are photos of Rihanna a little bit after the ones we posted where it`s swollen shut.

Her eyes, apparently what I`m told is they look ten times worse than the one they posted; that they don`t want to get out there so that`s one of the things. But yes this is really odd and I can tell you one more thing. Rihanna is...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So wait Mike, you`re saying the TMZ photo, the photo that you have here, the TMZ photo. That`s not the worst one, there`s one that`s worse than that?

WALTERS: There are multiple that are worst on that, that is not the worst one, that is -- what I`m told one of the first one. There is one taken after that are a part of the investigation that if it goes to trial and if this goes to that point they could be made public in an open courtroom during this criminal trial and they don`t want anyone to see those.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now listen, I want you to listen to an interview with Chris Brown gave Tyra Banks about a year before the Rihanna beating. He talked about witnessing his mom being the victim of domestic violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS BROWN, SINGER: I`m just saying that from being -- like visually abused by it so...

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

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s totally fascinating, because he`s saying, essentially, that he does not want to repeat the pattern. But the studies and the statistics show that somebody, a boy who witnesses that kind of violence in the home, is almost pre-programmed to repeat it unless he gets intervention, treatment.

And when we come back, I want to talk a little bit about prevention. Because, yes, crime and punishment is fine, but we as a society have to figure out how to stop it before it happens.

Everybody, hang tight. More on the Rihanna-Chris Brown mess in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you plead with count one of violation of section 245-A-1 of the penal code?

BROWN: Not guilty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As to count two, a violation of section 422 of the penal code?

BROWN: Not guilty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There it is. In the aftermath of Chris Brown`s not guilty plea in the alleged assault on pop star girlfriend Rihanna, a lot are asking, "Hey, why do these two people appear to be working together? Aren`t they on opposite sides of the fence here?"

I`m back with my panel. Phone lines lighting up. Bridget, California, your question or thought.

BRIDGET, CALIFORNIA (via telephone): Hi, Jane. This is Bridgette calling from Santa Maria, California. I have more of a comment than I do a question.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go for it.

BRIDGET: And I think that his -- all endorsements need to stop, you know. I`m driving in my car they`re still playing his music. I have an 11-year-old daughter that looks up to him. Now she doesn`t like him.

And just because they`re famous, they think they can get away with anything.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Mike Walters, how is this affecting his career? It seems like the more that the more either one of these stars try to make this go away, the worse it gets for them.

MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: I actually have a great answer to that question. It`s a picture I`m going to paint for you real quick.

The last images we got of Chris Brown was from last week. He playing basketball at a place called University of Mary Washing which is in his hometown in Virginia. He was playing basketball and in the next images that came up with him with the girls` basketball team -- the whole team. Like this like, "Hey, it`s us and Chris Brown. We`re fans."

The reality of the situation, you were about to talk about prevention is that week, there were people wearing white ribbons on their shirts because it was the week of students against violence against women. And Chris was on campus during this week and the only images that come out of there is him with the women`s basketball team. It`s on our Web site but how unbelievable this that?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brenda Wade, I mean, as we talk and I want to hear your thoughts. Let`s put up the power and control wheel that the abusers use to control their victims.

BRENDA WADE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: And it`s easy to control the victim, Jane, because in this case, we have a very young woman who despite the fact that she`s a pop star, her self-esteem isn`t that strong.

We just saw the interview with Chris, with Tyra Banks in which he said, "I don`t want to be an abuser, because I saw it." So this is definitive proof. You cannot just wish away a historical pattern. He has the pattern, but you know, I always give free service whenever I can on my Web site docwade.com. Anyone who wants to break historical patterns can go there and get a free love lesson to help them do it.

And I hope Chris and Rihanna will break them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I want everybody to get help. Thank you.

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.