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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Sunday Schoolteacher Arrested in Sandra Cantu Murder; Should Animals be Kept in Zoos?
Aired April 13, 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, a town torn apart as cops arrest a Sunday schoolteacher in the brutal murder of Sandra Cantu. Twenty-eight-year-old Melissa Huckaby, whose own daughter was close friends with little Sandra, is held without bail, facing murder and kidnapping charges.
JOE CHAVEZ, SANDRA`S UNCLE: We have to live the rest of our lives without Sandra. She`s in jail. She can still see her little girl grow up.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: With Huckaby on suicide watch, did something cause this mother to snap?
Then, the war of words boils over in the Haleigh Cummings disappearance. Mystery man Greg speaks out on camera, saying he had absolutely nothing to do with Haleigh`s vanishing. He also has some choice words about Haleigh`s dad, Ron.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard he went around robbing people and stuff for drugs and stuff like that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ll show you the shocking interview.
And seismic developments in the Casey Anthony case. After butting heads with attorneys for hours in the Zanny the nanny civil suit...
GEORGE ANTHONY, FATHER OF CASEY ANTHONY: Yes, you are.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dad George might be in for another round of testimony in this knockdown, drag-out fight. Will George be more cooperative the second time around?
Also, the deputy sheriff who reportedly ignored meter reader Roy Kronk`s original tips about the location of Caylee`s remains has been fired. But he`s not going down without a fight.
Then, absolutely incredible video of a woman jumping into a polar bear habitat at a Berlin zoo. I`ll show you the unbelievable rescue attempt and ask the question, should these animals be kept in a glorified prison like this?
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news tonight. A double dose of the death penalty as Florida prosecutors announce they will -- will -- will now seek the ultimate punishment for Casey Anthony in the murder of her beautiful 2- year-old daughter, Caylee. More on this truly stunning development in just a bit.
But first, a shocker almost beyond comprehension. A Sunday schoolteacher and mother, arrested for allegedly kidnapping and murdering 8-year-old Sandra Cantu. Sandra was the playmate of her own young daughter. They lived just doors from one another in their Tracy, California, mobile home park.
And in another mind-boggling new development, the district attorney has just announced they`re also considering rape and molestation charges against this very mother, 28-year-old Melissa Huckaby. That means she, too, could face death.
Right now, Melissa Huckaby inside an observation cell on suicide watch.
Little Sandra Cantu`s body was found a week ago, stuffed into a suitcase -- you see it right there -- then dumped into an irrigation pond. Melissa Huckaby claimed she had an identical suitcase that was stolen the very same day.
Meantime, news of the arrest did nothing -- absolutely nothing -- to soothe Sandra`s family. They erupted in disgust and outrage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J. CHAVEZ: We have to live the rest of our lives without Sandra. She`s in jail. She can still see her little girl grow up. We don`t. We don`t get to see that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want the death penalty?
CHAVEZ: Of course. Prison is too -- prison is too lenient.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: For their part, the family of Melissa Huckaby, the suspect, is also reeling. They`re bewildered by the allegations against her. After all, she has a young daughter herself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONI HUGHES, MELISSA HUCKABY`S AUNT: Very shocked. It`s very out of character for Melissa. We love her dearly. She`s a fantastic mother.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very, very loving.
HUGHES: Very loving. A great -- a great sadness for our family. And this is a very difficult time for us. And very difficult to express to you right now how we`re feeling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is this a case of the killer next door? If so, what made a young mother snap, and allegedly -- allegedly -- murder her child`s playmate? I want to know what you think. Give me a call: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.
But first, out to my fantastic panel: Dr. Gail Saltz, clinical psychiatrist; Mark Eiglarsh, criminal defense attorney; Thomas Ruskin, former NYPD detective; Drew Findling, Atlanta criminal defense attorney; Bob Moffitt, reporter with KFDK Newstalk 1530 in Sacramento.
Bob, dare I ask, what is the very latest?
BOB MOFFITT, REPORTER, KFDK (via telephone): Well, we`ll find out tomorrow what the actual charges are in San Joaquin County. But the deputy district attorney there told the Associated Press this afternoon that possible death penalty charges could be coming against Melissa Huckaby, including rape with a foreign object, lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, and murder in the course of a kidnapping.
Like you said, she is on suicide watch and should make an appearance sometime tomorrow in a San Joaquin County courtroom. We`re also wondering if there may be a gag order issued in that case. These kind of high- profile cases have a tendency to bring out the media in droves.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Gail Saltz, psychiatrist, boy, do we need one. I had to read this Associated Press report three times just to make sure I was reading it correctly. Prosecutors considering rape and molestation charges against this mother and Sunday schoolteacher. The deputy D.A. said the homicide charge could include a special circumstance of rape with a foreign object.
Again, these are allegations. This woman hasn`t been convicted of anything. But psychologically, hypothetically, what possible explanation could there be for the mother of a young child to sexually assault with a foreign object her daughter`s playmate?
DR. GAIL SALTZ, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, look, if this is true, you know, women pedophiles are unusual, compared to men. As we`ve been hearing about many cases, women pedophiles are usually having sex with young boys, basically.
For a woman to assault a young girl, it`s extremely rare. Actually, women killing young children is extremely rare. So we would wonder about, you know, serious mental illness. But there are cases of sociopathic women who are pedophilic, who go after young girls. It is very unusual, but it has happened.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And it is very sick. Here are a few more hints.
Melissa Huckaby`s family has admitted she has a troubled past. Her father says as a single mom, she struggled with finding a job, raising her child and has suffered from depression.
The Reverend Lane Lawless, her grandfather and pastor of a local church, told ABC News, quote, "I have no doubt in my mind that she knows right from wrong. At least I thought she did."
But reports are Melissa Huckaby was currently on probation for petty theft after pleading no contest over an incident at a Target store back in November. Now, in fact, she was reportedly supposed to appear in court this coming Friday to check in with county mental health program, as part of that probation.
So out to you, Thomas Ruskin. You`re a former detective. You`re an investigator. She denies that that`s her. In other words, the person who did whatever they did at Target, she`s saying that`s somebody else by the same name. What does that tell you?
THOMAS RUSKIN, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: Listen, the difference between a petty thief and a murderer is a drastic difference. What`s amazing here to me is that, basically, she gave herself up.
She basically talked to the reporter from the local press, which told her that the suitcase that -- was hers, that the suitcase that was stolen was waterproof and that a note was left behind, which basically then put the spotlight on her, which is not unusual for a psychopathic killer.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Melissa Huckaby drove herself, believe it or not, to the police station Friday night. Now, listen to what police had to say about her demeanor over the course of their five-hour interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SGT. TONY SHENEMAN, TRACY POLICE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: She came in of her own accord. She drove herself there. I believe you all recorded her leaving here. She walked through the front door of the police department and started a conversation with our investigators. And during the course of the conversation, she was calm, cool and collected, and then became very emotional, and then was calm again, and then became resigned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, Mark Eiglarsh, give me your insight into all the numerous inconsistencies in her story that police are citing. She apparently told the local media -- she told the Tracy press newspaper that Sandra visited her home the very day of her disappearance and then she told Sandra, her daughter couldn`t play because her daughter needed to pick up toys.
And about the black suitcase, Huckaby claimed that she had a black suitcase and that somebody had stolen it from her driveway March 27, the very day that Sandra went missing.
And the final thing that`s so bizarre, the newspaper also said Huckaby was released from the hospital on Thursday, and she claims she was there because of internal bleeding. What do you make of all this?
MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I make that this insanity defense that I`m anticipating is not going to be effective, because she`s lying. And those who lie and those who go through great detail and effort to try to -- try to mislead everybody, it tends to show that she knows right from wrong. And thus, a defense of insanity probably won`t work.
What else does she have? I don`t know. We`ll have to wait and see what the evidence shows.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Bob Moffitt, let me get your insight into the fact that police are saying this happened quickly. They believe the little girl was probably dead by the time that the missing persons report went out at about 8 on Friday, March 27.
Authorities reportedly, according to witnesses who spoke to newspapers, took a folding cot out of the church. So there is some question as to where this horrific murder happened. Is there a possibility, or speculation that it could have even happened at the church where her grandfather was a pastor?
MOFFITT: Absolutely. And there have been search warrants served twice at that church, the last one being Friday at that shed that was on the church grounds. There -- that is the speculation right now, is that the little girl was murdered at the church, possibly. But once again, we`re going to have to wait until all the facts come out in court tomorrow.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Drew Findling, what I don`t understand is how would she be able to get this child from the home in the mobile home park to the church to do this, as she`s alleged to have done?
DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, what you`re hitting on is that there`s so much more to look into. No. 1, we may think she`s the only suspect. But you can rest assured, law enforcement is trying to determine right now whether she even accomplished this by themselves.
They`re also trying to determine whether or not she`s been involved in any activity like this before. You can rest assured they`re reached out in the community to see if she`s ever perpetrated any suspicious activity with any child before.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Just when I think I`ve seen the most disgusting things, something more disgusting comes down the pike.
All right. Stand by, panel. More on this shocking arrest in the Sandra Cantu murder in just moments. An arrest, but no motive. What could have caused a Sunday schoolteacher to allegedly kill? Give me a call: 1- 877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297. Sound off.
Then truly stunning developments in the Caylee Anthony murder. Prosecutors now say they will -- yes, they will -- seek the death penalty against mom Casey. But first, the small town of Tracy, California, reeling after the murder of Sandra Cantu. But all along, cops have vowed to make the little girl`s killer face justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHENEMAN: There is still a lot of work left to be done over the next several weeks and to ensure that Miss Huckaby pays for what she has done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGIE CHAVEZ, SANDRA`S AUNT: She`s like a daughter to me. I can`t imagine a mother doing this to a child.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does an arrest mean closure?
A. CHAVEZ: There`s never closure in something like this.
J. CHAVEZ: This is just the beginning. Are you kidding?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sandra Cantu`s aunt and uncle reacting to the arrest of 28-year-old Melissa Huckaby for the murder, allegedly, of their niece. We`re back, talking about the latest developments in this sick and tragic case. Prosecutors now considering charging Ms. Huckaby with rape and molestation. That means she could face the death penalty.
Back with my panel. The phone lines lighting up. Robert in Louisiana, your question or thought?
CALLER: Good evening, Jane. Thank you for sharing. You`re wonderful.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.
CALLER: My question is -- I have two quick questions, and they may tie in. Do we know how long that -- that Sandra had been playing with Huckaby`s daughter? Is this something that had been going on for awhile?
CALLER: I would think that, if that had happened before, that Sandra would probably be leery about going over. And if you look at that video, which it still disturbs me, if you show the video, she`s happy-go-lucky, skipping. And it looks like she`s coming toward the house. And then she stops and starts walking, like -- almost like somebody got her attention to, "Hey, come here for a minute."
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Fascinating stuff.
Bob Moffitt, what do we know about this actual moment, what happened next after this beautiful child walked out of frame?
MOFFITT: What do we know about after -- well, that`s the key question. That`s what investigators have been trying to figure out is, what happened to the little girl? Where did she go from there? Whose home did she enter? That`s why all these search warrants have been served.
And including that Melissa Huckaby`s house, the neighbor`s house, her grandfather`s house, the pastor, and then also at the church two times. The police have been to that church.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bob, let me jump in with these questions. What about reports that actually Melissa Huckaby, the suspect, had popped up at a vigil, and what about this crazy note I`m hearing about?
MOFFITT: Well, there`s a -- there`s a lot from Melissa Huckaby that she did when she was -- you know, she showed up at the vigil two nights after Sandra disappeared. And then talked to the press repeatedly, first to tell them about the suitcase, that she put it on the curb and then it mysteriously disappeared. But police, of course, say that they had never received a stolen -- stolen item report.
She also said that on the suitcase, there was a note that had three cryptic words on it: suitcase, Sandra, and something else. And then she talked again on Friday. She`s also talked to the press about her -- you mentioned the internal bleeding. And we`ve seen -- you know, we`ve seen a number of these cases where someone...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s that about, internal bleeding? I don`t -- I don`t really understand that.
MOFFITT: Who does?
MOFFITT: But the question is, you know, how many times did she make herself available to the public? Did she hang around? We`ve seen a lot of cases where somebody was murdered, and then the murderer hung around and made themselves available to everyone before people finally started going, "Hey, aren`t you paying a little too much attention to this?:
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thomas Ruskin, what do you make of it?
RUSKIN: That`s not unusual. A lot of times when you`re investigating a homicide, at the scene of the homicide, you`ll say to your detectives, "Do me a favor. Let`s shoot the crowd that`s hanging around to maybe later put the murderer right there at the scene."
The murderer a lot of times wants to be around to watch and see what police are doing. Remember, they`re the center of attraction at that point in time, in their mind. They want to see what the police are doing and if the police are doing exactly what they expect the police to do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s an old saying: the criminal returns to the scene of the crime.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Drew Findling, how does this impact the case? I mean, as you hear all these facts, what are you seeing in terms of the case?
FINDLING: Well, look, I think that we`re really jumping the gun. And I appreciate you saying that right now she is just alleged to have done this. But, you know, we`re talking about eliminating the insanity defense and whether she knows the difference between right or wrong.
Hey, we don`t know -- we don`t know that there are some really, really bad circumstantial evidence here right now. But we don`t know what her mental condition is. We can`t distinguish -- we can`t tell that she can`t distinguish between right and wrong. We can`t make these decisions. We didn`t even know who she was 72 hours ago.
Now, it is true that quite often a perpetrator will hang out at a scene. That is recognized by the Department of Justice and crime scene investigation handbooks. But we just don`t know enough yet to point the finger to her.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead.
EIGLARSH: Drew`s right. Drew`s right. Absolutely everybody`s presumed to be innocent. We`re hearing, however, and assuming it`s true, that post-Miranda, after her arrest, she waived her rights and she spoke freely about this. We`re hearing reports she confessed. And I know that`s, you know, it`s premature at this point. But they absolutely are passionate about their belief that she did this.
But again, we don`t know. But again, with the possible confession, assuming that to be the belief, then we have a right to...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tomorrow we might hear more, right?
Dawn in Washington, your question or thought?
CALLER: Hi, Jane. How are you?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m doing great, thank you.
CALLER: I was wondering if Melissa Huckaby might have a history of sexual abuse or something like that?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Dr. Gail Saltz, what creates -- assuming that this is true -- and our lawyers are right: these are just allegations. She hasn`t been arraigned, meaning formally charged yet. But what brings a person hypothetically to this point, if it`s true?
SALTZ: That`s an excellent question. And very often in the history of women who have either killed children and -- or women who have sexually abused children, there is a history of either sexual or physical abuse. So that wouldn`t be surprising if this turns out to be the case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bob Moffitt, only a couple of seconds. Tomorrow, arraignment. What time and what do we expect?
MOFFITT: 1:30 in Stockton. And hopefully, we can expect to have a much clearer picture of what was going through her mind that -- two Fridays ago when a little 8-year-old girl disappeared.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is just such a disturbing case. You know, when the caller asked me if I`m doing OK. Yes, I am. But I`ve got a pit in my stomach, having to read all this stuff and think about that poor child. I`m sure all of you at home and in the panel feel the same way.
Thank you to my expert panel.
Turning to another mother charged with the murder of a little girl. Prosecutors in the Caylee Anthony murder case now seeking the death penalty against Casey.
Plus, unbelievable video of a woman who jumped into a polar bear habitat at a zoo. We will talk to the president of the Humane Society of the United States.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: In the spotlight tonight, a horrific tragedy averted after a woman jumped into a polar bear habitat at the Berlin zoo. What a nut. She survives. But so many questions raised once again.
Look at this video. This kooky, unidentified woman, vaulted a fence, plunged into the moat in the polar bear enclosure. She was bitten several times by an adult bear. Don`t blame the bear, people.
She was eventually pulled to safety. But the people who did it risked their own lives to get her out of there.
This is a manmade problem, people. These majestic animals are born to roam in the wild, not live up in tight pens. And these incidents keep happening over and over and over again, highlighting the absurdity of keeping these animals in glorified prisons.
Joining me is my dear friend, Wayne Pacelle, chief executive officer of the Humane Society of the United States.
Wayne, what is the lesson we need to take away from this very disturbing, strange story?
WAYNE PACELLE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, as you said it, Jane, it`s really weird and very disturbing. A woman jumped into a polar bear enclosure. I mean, these are the most powerful carnivores on the planet, and she jumped into the water with four polar bears. So obviously, we shouldn`t consider this a polar bear attack. We should consider this human behavior that is beyond bizarre, inviting natural behavior from the polar bears.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, this happens over and over again. Human beings, like this crazy nut, provoke animals and animals that are stuck in a pen, basically with their energy pent up. And then they are tossed like bait, a human being, who is just out of her mind to do something like this, and then people end up blaming the polar bear.
When are we going to evolve beyond that mentality? This happens all the time.
PACELLE: Well, I think this is one of the situations, Jane, when people on all sides of this divide about animals in captivity agree that this woman was way out of bounds.
I think some of the issues that you`re getting at are the ethical questions of, you know, should these animals be in these captive settings. We at the Humane Society have criticized zoos for having certain animals in captivity like elephants, who can migrate up to 40 kilometers a day. You know, should they be in small enclosures in zoos?
The same with polar bears. These are wide-ranging mammals, range over the arctic ice in search of seals and other food. You know, when you see them in zoos, they pace back and forth. I think there are ethical questions. But I think no one is defending the behavior of this woman. She really was way out of bounds.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A nut job.
PACELLE: And she should be charged.
PACELLE: This is trespass and all sorts of issues. Even the zoo probably couldn`t entirely protect, you know, the animals in the enclosure.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: As we go, I just want to show photos -- video of Billy the elephant. Because this to me is a heartbreaking case out in Los Angeles where they are still fighting about this poor elephant all by himself. And what he does is he rocks back and forth, over and over again, because he`s been left alone so long that supporters who want to get him out to a sanctuary say he`s gone psychotic. Look at him rocking back and forth over and over.
Wayne, I`ve got 20 seconds. What would you say about this being an example of the horrors of zoos?
PACELLE: Well, I mean, you know, really, it`s not just about protecting the animals from predation or the problems. We need now, in our day and age, to think about the psychological well-being of these animals.
And elephants are, you know, herd animals. They live in matriarchal groups with family members. When they`re isolated like this, when they`re kept in a small enclosure, we cannot possibly reproduce the complexity of the wild in these settings.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Of course not. Wayne, thank you so much as always. Free Billy, that`s what I say.
Prosecutors in the Caylee Anthony murder case just announced they are now seeking the death penalty against mom, Casey. I`ll have the controversy next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Huge development in the Casey Anthony case. After butting heads with attorneys for hours, dad George might be in for another round of blistering testimony in the Zanny civil suit. And the cop who reportedly ignored the meter reader`s tip about the location of Caylee`s remains is fired. I`ll have an update.
Then, the war of words boils over in the Haleigh Cummings case. Mystery man Greg speaks out on camera, making some damning claims about Haleigh`s dad, Ron. I`ll show you the shocking interview.
Tonight, a big breaker: a shocker in the case against Casey Anthony. Prosecutors announce they will, yes, they will seek the death penalty against the 23-year-old for the murder of her precious two-year-old daughter, Caylee. This huge announcement comes days after Casey`s parents, George and Cindy Anthony, sat through grueling, confrontational depositions in the Zanny the nanny civil case against Casey.
When Casey was indicted back in October -- remember that -- Prosecutors said the death penalty, off the table. At that point they had no body. They seemed to maintain that sense even after Caylee`s remains were found close to the Anthony home in December.
So why the change now more than four months later? And will Casey`s attorney, Jose Baez, even be allowed to defend her? Reports say he doesn`t have the experience required by the Florida bar to defend a death penalty case. So many issues.
Let`s go to my expert plan: John Morgan, Zenaida Gonzalez`s attorney; Drew Findling, Atlanta criminal defense attorney; and back with me, Mark Eiglarsh, criminal defense attorney.
Mark, this is huge news; the state now seeking the death penalty. Why do you think they`re doing this now and how does this change the whole equation with this case?
MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, only they know. My guess is that they put all the pieces together finally, little by little. They don`t just make this decision overnight. No one has nothing to do with these depositions. This was in play for awhile.
But it changes the case significantly. I agree with you, this is a -- I`ll let you get away with blockbuster, bombshell and shocking on this one.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.
EIGLARSH: All three apply because first of all, it extends the start of this trial for at least another year, year and a half. So I think Obama will start giving his re-election speeches by the time we start with this trial.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Are you kidding me? Are you serious?
EIGLARSH: No, I`m not. You have a whole penalty phase now, after the guilt phase, assuming it`s a first-degree murder conviction. That has nothing to do with the evidence. It`s all about her mitigating factors. That`s going to take us many more years.
This is very significant. Because now you`re going to have to death qualify the jury, which means you have to ask the jurors, can you impose the ultimate sanction of death if you find in favor of the prosecution and vote for first-degree murder? If so, you`re getting rid of all the liberal jurors. You have the conservative jurors that are left.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow, this is -- I have to tell you -- this is such a stunner. Because in the past, Drew Findling, they said they weren`t seeking the death penalty. We all kind of got resigned to that.
I for one applaud this decision. And I say that with the caveat I`m not really sure if I`m in favor of the death penalty or I`m not because I go back and forth. If there`s a horrific crime, sometimes I say give them the death penalty, and other times I think it`s uncivilized.
But if you`re going to have the death penalty, it has to be enforced fairly. It doesn`t matter whether the suspect or the defendant is a young woman or whether she`s pretty or whether white or whether she`s young. None of that should matter.
And unfortunately, the stats show that it does matter. And I`m glad that this case hopefully is a step in the right direction. What do you think?
DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I disagree with you. I`ll tell you exactly why. All we ever do is we bash Baez. Everybody`s bashing Baez. You know what? This is a clueless and a prosecution team that`s without leadership. That is exactly why they sit and tolerate videotaping of her when she finds out about her daughter`s death. Stupid decisions are made.
Now what they`ve done, ok, by opening a door to this, number one, Baez is gone.
FINDLING: If they think they can take advantage of him, he`s not death case qualified.
EIGLARSH: He`s not gone, Drew. Drew, he`s not gone. He`s not gone. I know for a fact he`s not gone. He`ll never leave this case. He`s working as we speak for a second chair to handle the death phase. He`s not gone.
FINDLING: I agree with you. Let me say this.
He`s not death qualified. So if the court brings on a death qualified lawyer, and somebody that`s forensically, not just experts, but forensically on top of their game, everything`s wide open right now. The meter reader is going to be wide open right now because that affects the forensic analysis of the body which is critical in a death penalty case.
Everything`s wide open.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Hold on, I have to move on to another big subject.
Another big announcement today. Cindy and George Anthony giving their first TV interview since Caylee`s remains were found to -- want to take a guess -- Oprah. The show is set to air in May.
Now, John Morgan, you`re Zenaida Gonzalez`s attorney. They were emotional, they were uncooperative, they were confrontational with you and your associates, refusing to answer certain questions. Is this hypocritical? Now they`re going to go on Oprah and they`re going to talk and answer questions?
JOHN MORGAN, ATTORNEY FOR ZENAIDA GONZALEZ: Well, of course it is. They say they don`t want any publicity. But they`re going to go on Oprah. What this is, is just what I call the alibi tour and to go out there and to plant reasonable doubt before the trial. And that`s all it is.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Does this upset you?
MORGAN: No. Because quite frankly, you know, it`s their daughter. What they`re trying to do is to save her life. I don`t like the people. I mean, I got to see her true colors. I mean, when she came at me and she came at Zenaida and her husband had to restrain her. She likes to be in control.
And she came to the deposition she set up her own video camera to video the entire proceeding. In the 25 years I`ve been a lawyer, I`ve never seen that done.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, actually, I think that`s kind of smart, Mark Eiglarsh. She`s stealing a page from Michael Jackson. Remember when he was doing the infamous documentary interview with Martin Bashir, he had his own cameraman videotaping. And they kept videotaping when the other side was turning off the camera and they got a lot of stuff that could have ultimately had something to do with his acquittal.
EIGLARSH: Yes. I don`t know her motivation. Perhaps she`s got somebody who`s willing to buy it. Everybody is willing to buy photos and video in this case.
MORGAN: That`s what I`m thinking. That`s what I`m thinking.
EIGLARSH: But what John Morgan said is absolutely true. We`re now seeing from these depositions that they`re setting up this alibi. All of a sudden they`ve become key players in this case. Before, they were going to talk about certain aspects of the trial. Now, all of a sudden this other Zanny exists. Now there`s phone numbers and addresses that they had. They`re going to be key players in the defense case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. George Anthony butted heads with Zenaida Gonzalez`s attorney. You`re looking at one right there, John Morgan. George almost walked out countless times and they weren`t happy with him either. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE ANTHONY, CASEY ANTHONY`S FATHER: I`m not going to answer anything about the criminal part of this. I am not going to do that.
MORGAN: But you`re going to have to. The bottom line...
ANTHONY: I have to do that sir when the criminal case comes out not in a civil case, I do not.
MORGAN: I`m either going forward and doing my job and I`m going to get questions and answers and I`m not going to get a lecture every question I ask. I`m empathetic of your situation, but I`m not going to sit here and be berated every question I ask.
Either we`re going to do this business-like and get it done, or we`re going to go to the judge and ask him what he thinks about it. What do you want to do? I`ve had it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: John Morgan, are you going to call him back and try to force him to answer those questions again?
MORGAN: We absolutely are. We`re going to go to the judge. We`re going to try to have him found -- sanctions imposed on him. He stone walled. He dragged his feet. We suspended the deposition. We`re going to go back and ask Judge Rodriguez to rule.
We`re going to reconvene and he`s going to have to answer the questions. And, by the way, we really let him get away with a lot, because they came with their lawyer, Brad Conway, who is not Casey`s lawyer. He was speaking all throughout this deposition.
All he can object to is privilege. And you watch the tapes you`ll see what went on. These people are very much wanting to control the spin.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, I agree with you. I think that it`s absolutely a fascinating psychological study. I think this was part of a plan, maybe to inspire sympathy with this confrontation.
MORGAN: That`s what Oprah`s going to be all about. The reason they are going out there to use Oprah Winfrey, to be these sad grandparents, who, by the way, came back -- the night that the body was found, they came back, went to the Ritz Carlton, feasted on crab puffs and big dinners. That`s how upset they were.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what? I`ll never judge anybody who`s lost a grandchild. And I certainly don`t know what it`s like to be in their shoes. But I do think that the Oprah interview is going to be fascinating.
Oprah`s no pushover. Oprah might end up getting stuff out of them that nobody else has. Gentlemen, thank you. Another -- and please come back again, John; really great to have you here.
Another monumental moment today in the murder retrial of infamous pop music king Phil Spector. After more than 30 hours of intense deliberation, the jury finally reached their staggering verdict.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, in the above-entitled action, find the defendant, Philip Spector, guilty of the crime of second-degree murder of Lana Clarkson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Spector, found guilty, convicted of second-degree murder in the 2003 shooting death of beautiful actress, Lana Clarkson -- finally.
She died at Spector`s California castle just hours after meeting this music mogul. Spector claims she shot herself because she was depressed. At a stranger`s house? A couple of hours after you meet the guy?
Prosecutors said he shot her after a romantic encounter soured. She had a gunshot wound through the roof of her mouth. Sentencing set for May 29th.
Joining me now: once again, defense attorney, Drew Findling.
Drew, I have to tell you, this is personally very satisfying to me. I was the first reporter at Lana Clarkson`s house when we found out that this was the woman who had been shot to death at Phil Spector`s castle. I was there as her sister showed up, hysterical; all her neighbors, hysterically crying, talking about what a wonderful woman she was. Her land lady telling me that even if she was a day late on her rent, she would write a long letter.
Everybody thought she was one of the kindest, not just beautiful, but kindest, sweetest human beings. And to have to wait six years, more than six years for justice, and this guy you`re looking at right now, never having spent a night in jail until just now, being taken away.
FINDLING: Jane, I know -- I`ve heard you have time and time talking, and when I`m on, and not on the show and watching, that he`s never been in jail. Unfortunately for your position, he`s always carried, no matter how angry you and others are, that presumption of innocence. He made bond.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Not anymore.
FINDLING: That ended when the jury came back with their verdict. The presumption of innocence is no longer exists, because he has been found guilty. And this judge, listened to you and many others out there and immediately took him into custody.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Fifteen to life. He`s going to be sentenced soon; makes me happy.
We`ll be right back with the presidential dog in just a second.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The mystery man named Greg speaks out in the Haleigh Cummings case. I will show you the interview momentarily.
But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.
There`s a new dog in the White House. Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog, adopted by the Obama family after the original owners returned the dog. That makes it an adopted dog.
Of course, I wish the best for the first family and their new first pooch, who has been given quite a second chance. But I also want to use this story to remind people about a serious crisis in our country.
Every year, 3 million healthy, lovable dogs and cats are put down in America. That`s just a nice way of saying they are killed. Three million killed in shelters every year.
So if you want a dog, do not buy one. There are millions of priceless ones waiting for you in shelters. Look at these beauties. It`s despicable that some people are still breeding dogs for a quick buck while all of these gorgeous dogs do not have homes. If you want a pet, save a life. I`m begging you, don`t shop, adopt.
That`s tonight`s "Top of the Block."
Fascinating developments in the case of missing Florida girl, Haleigh Cummings; the 5-year-old vanished from her home more than two months ago without a trace. The official investigation into little Haleigh`s disappearance has remained nearly silent.
But explosive twists and turns have developed. Thanks to bounty hunters, and fabulous investigative journalists. Misty Croslin, the 17- year-old the teen bride of Haleigh`s father, Ron, was reportedly the very last person to see little Haleigh.
Now, her private life thrust into the national spotlight, as the man reportedly with her the night before Haleigh went missing speaks out. He talked exclusively to artharris.com at "The Bald Truth."
Greg says he had absolutely nothing to do with the child`s disappearance and is upset about being dragged into the case. Also, he did not hold back in his criticism of Ron.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREGORY PAGE, ACQUAINTANCE OF MISTY CROSLIN: He didn`t force Misty to do anything. Right before she went back to him she was with me and she was telling me that she left him because he was going to beat on her or whatever. They used to fight all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ron has previously denied all claims of physical violence and has said repeatedly that his private life is completely irrelevant to his search for his daughter Haleigh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD CUMMINGS, HALEIGH`S FATHER: I believe that any of that is personal, and that it has nothing to do with my daughter going missing. We need to just focus on my daughter going missing and not what`s going on in my life besides my daughter going missing. It`s about my daughter going missing, not what`s going on in my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Again, his daughter, Haleigh. So just how much will Greg`s allegations stir up the case of little Haleigh Cummings? Could there be any relevance, or is it just more of that he said/she said to add to the big gossip mill?
I am joined now by Kim Picazio, lawyer for Haleigh`s mother Crystal Sheffield; Dr. Judith Orloff, a clinical psychologist and author of "Emotional Freedom;" and by phone, T.J. Hart, program and news director for WSKY 97.3 FM.
T.J., what is the very latest on the Greg front in this case?
T.J. HART, PROGRAM & NEWS DIRECTOR, WSKY 97.3 FM (via telephone): The Greg front is that Greg is that making some noise in the community to our sources at artharris.com as you just played. Saying, "Why am I being dragged into this mess? What do you want with me? I did what I did. I said what I said. It was left a long time ago."
He`s getting rather indignant about the whole ordeal at this stage of the game. But once again, this was a fellow that was turned on to all of us by investigators on the ground. Especially William Staubs, a bounty hunter bondsman who made a contact through Ronald Cummings, and again, through other sources to find this Greg Page character who it was believed to be central to what may have happened the night of little Haleigh`s disappearance.
Well, Kim Picazio, you are Crystal Sheffield`s attorney. Crystal Sheffield is the mother of the missing child. What do you say to that? You work with the bounty hunter, "Cobra," William Staubs. He`s the one who kind of originally found this guy. You brought this man to life. He`s saying, "Hey, leave me out of it. I was with her the weekend before little Haleigh went missing. But I wasn`t with her when Haleigh went missing. I don`t want anything to do with this. Please, leave me out of it."
KIM PICAZIO, ATTORNEY FOR CRYSTAL SHEFFIELD: Well, what I have to say about that is we`re not going to leave anyone alone. There`s a child that is missing. And we`re going to uncover every single rock. We`re going to try to ferret out facts from fiction and we`re going to try to find Haleigh.
With regard to Ron`s personal life? May I refer you to the Caylee Anthony case. I think that the personal life of the parents may in fact lead us to what happened to this little child. And if people in the community are going to come forward, and tell us exactly what the lifestyle they led. This is not the first person that we have heard of that`s had a tryst with Misty. There`s going to be more to come.
I believe that once we uncover a lot of the facts...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I hear you.
PICAZIO: We`ll see.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: During Greg`s interview with Art Harris at "The Bald Truth" -- got to check it out -- he opened up about his relationship with Misty Croslin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAGE: It`s just riding around. It`s typical Friday, Saturday night, riding around, having fun. Partying, getting high. I don`t exactly remember the last day. But I`m sure I seen her like Sunday. And that was the last day I`ve seen her.
But Monday I did talk to misty and she told me she was at the hospital with the dad, when the dad got in a car wreck. And then she said I`ll call you back. And I never heard from her again.
I haven`t tried to contact her since because I just want to stay the hell away from her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: To check out the entire interview go to the Web site you`re looking at. That`s artharris.com, "The Bald Truth."
Dr. Orloff, though, we`re talking about the possibility of drugs repeatedly entering the equation here. We tried to get Misty`s side of the story; can`t hear it. What do you say of the possibility of drugs vis-a- vis this child`s disappearance?
DR. JUDITH ORLOFF, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I think it`s so important town cover every stone when it comes to finding this child. And if drugs were a factor in this, we have to know that because that can alter everything, if substances were involved. So I wholeheartedly support a complete investigation in this, to find out, you know, what were the motives on every single level? And if there`s drug abuse, we need to know about it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, sorry about the shortened time there.
A lot of breaking news tonight. Once again thank you both.
Check out artharris.com, "The Bald Truth," to see the complete interview with Greg. Fascinating stuff. That will stay right there.
Ron has talked, Greg has talked. It`s Misty`s turn to talk. We want to hear from you Misty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: Please, if you have my daughter, bring her home. Please. All I want is Haleigh. That`s all I want. I want nothing else but Haleigh. That`s it. Please, if you have her, bring her home. Babe, if you`re watching, you know you`ll always be daddy`s little girl. I love you."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Haleigh Cummings` father, Ron, pleads for the safe return of his little daughter. Little Haleigh went missing more than two months ago now and still no sign of what may have happened to her.
We`re back discussing this case with my fantastic panel, phone lines lighting up.
Lynn in Maryland; your question or thought, ma`am.
LYNN, MARYLAND: Yes, hi, Jane.
LYNN: I think Ron knows way more about this than he`s letting on. And I think that`s why three weeks into this they ran out and got married, not knowing that spousal privilege didn`t apply to cases of child abuse and child neglect. And I know he`s retained attorneys. How about Misty? Does she have a lawyer?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. T.J. Hart, you want to take that one?
HART: Yes, in fact, her comment has been, "Attorneys are for guilty people." That`s why I haven`t heard any mention about lawyering up in her case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s fascinating. Pat, South Carolina, your question or thought.
PAT, SOUTH CAROLINA: Yes, hey, Jane, I love your show. I watch it every night.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.
PAT: my question is this -- there`s been a lot of reports in the media from that Cobra guy saying that Misty was on a three-day drug-bender prior to Haleigh going missing. Did the police take a hair sample from Misty Croslin-Cummings the night Haleigh went missing? That would answer it plain and simple.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Kim Picazio, what do you know about how police are treating all these allegations in general?
PICAZIO: Well, I met with all of the top members of the task force searching for Haleigh the other day, and I can tell you they are doing a very sophisticated job. They have been very aware of all the facts that we have uncovered thus far. And I think that maybe at day five they knew about many of these allegations.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Then why haven`t they acted on them? Couldn`t they use that to bring her in...
PICAZIO: Well, I think...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to hold you on some kind of alleged drug charge.
PICAZIO: Right, well, I think they`ve done over 30 hours of interrogation. And as they`ve said her inconsistent statements have held up this investigation and have held up finding Haleigh. I mean, if they cannot get the truth out of Misty, and they`ve tried, they`re going to continue to do so, I`m sure, but at this juncture they have gone through all of these witnesses.
They know what everyone in that county, it seems like, was doing. I can assure you that the Putnam County Sheriff`s Office is on this case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I hope that they are going to have a break in the case soon because we`ve been waiting. It`s been months. And everybody`s on pins and needles praying for this child to be returned alive. Let`s hope.
I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell. You`re watching ISSUES.