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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Ex-Husband Speaks Out about Melissa Huckaby; Attorney Wants Second Autopsy; Police on Trail of CraigsList Killer; Communal Defense?; Do Creeps Win Out?
Aired April 17, 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, shocking developments in the Sandra Cantu murder. The ex-husband of suspected rapist and killer Melissa Huckaby breaks his silence, saying Melissa had a history of depression and mental illness. But he never thought she was capable of violence. I will show you the ex-husband`s chilling interview.
As more details emerge about Huckaby`s past, questions pile up. Did her pastor grandfather know about her mental issues when he let her teach Sunday school? And was Huckaby`s own 5-year-old daughter at risk?
And now that Casey Anthony could face the death penalty, it will reportedly cost millions to defend her. I`ll tell you why Florida taxpayers could end up with that bill.
Also, astounding updates in the Haleigh Cummings disappearance. Dad Ron gets the ax. I`ll examine how it will affect the fierce custody battle for Haleigh`s little brother.
Then, he`s being called the CraigsList killer. And he struck again last night. Cops say the monster schedules rendezvous with hookers and masseuses who advertise online. The sicko has killed one woman and is suspected of tying up and robbing at least three others, all in hotel rooms. I`ll have an update on the frantic search.
Plus, I`ll ask why America rewards despicable behavior with riches and reality shows. From baby-exploiting Octomom to ousted governor Rod Blagojevich, is there anything too shameful to cash in on?
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stunning new revelations tonight about Sunday school teacher Melissa Huckaby, who allegedly raped and murdered 8-year-old Sandra Cantu. New details emerge about Huckaby`s troubled past. The 28-year-old single mother was already on probation for petty theft. She also reportedly went bankrupt, and she was in a court-ordered mental health program at the time of her arrest.
Now, it turns out those alleged problems, just the tip of the iceberg, people. Today her ex-husband, Johnny Huckaby, described his troubled ex- wife to "Good Morning America`s" Chris Cuomo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNNY HUCKABY, EX-HUSBAND OF MELISSA HUCKABY: A care-free person. Somebody that I really could not see doing something like this.
CHRIS CUOMO, "GOOD MORNING AMERICA": Do you believe that she struggled with emotional issues?
HUCKABY: I do believe that the emotional issues came into play quite often in her lifetime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Meanwhile, Melissa Huckaby has reportedly claimed she was abused by that very ex-husband, something he adamantly denies. And she`s reportedly claimed she was abused and talked by another man before that. What is going on here? What connection could this very messy past have to the charges of kidnapping, rape and murder Melissa Huckaby now faces?
And even as the community of Tracy, California, mourned little Sandra yesterday. Huckaby`s defense attorney was asking -- are you sitting down? Asking a judge to exhume the little girl`s body for a second autopsy. A judge refused to rule on that request, even though the defense complained the body is deteriorating with every passing hour.
Prosecutor Thomas Testa called the request obscene and said he was outraged by it. So is it an inappropriate request, or standard procedure?
So many issues. But first, my expert panel: Steve Kardian, former criminal investigator; Jonna Spilbor, defense attorney; Jennifer Harstein, criminal psychologist; Drew Findling, Atlanta criminal defense attorney; and Bob Moffitt, reporter with KFBK Newstalk 1530.
Bob, what is the very latest?
BOB MOFFITT, REPORTER, KFBK NEWSTALK 1530: The latest is that the judge said he could not make a final determination on that motion to request the second exhumation of the body for a second autopsy. This is Melissa Huckaby, still in observation, in an observation cell in the San Joaquin County jail cell. She`s still on suicide watch.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, let me just ask you this before we dive into this very controversial and, frankly, disturbing and upsetting aspect of this new defense request. We know that she was laid to rest, this beautiful angel was laid to rest this week. And she was taken, her body, to a local mausoleum.
Was she buried underground or put in a crypt that would be more easily accessible?
MOFFITT: From the paperwork that I`ve seen, and the reports that I`ve seen, it would indicate that she was buried underground. But to be honest, I can`t tell you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Just a day after Sandra Cantu was entombed at the Tracy mausoleum, we don`t know exactly how, Melissa Huckaby`s defense already asking for a second autopsy on this precious child. Huckaby`s defense claims a second autopsy is necessary, because the initial autopsy may not have had Huckaby`s best interests in mind.
And please, forgive me for repeating these graphic references, but this is what the defense said. They are interested in the genital trauma Sandra suffered. A judge refused to rule on that request.
Drew Findling, of course, all of this is turning our stomachs. We are paying our last respects to the child, even as the defense attorney is going after an exhumation. Why the heck didn`t they ask for this before the burial?
DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you know, before we start doing the defense attorney thing, this is an appointed attorney. This is an attorney getting government money, public defender money, that`s trying to do the best they can in a case where the state may be seeking the death penalty.
With the aggravating factor being rape by a foreign object, this public defender has no choice -- I repeat, no choice -- but to file this motion, because this autopsy may determine whether or not this woman ultimately is subjected to death by lethal injection.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Drew, the prosecutor said...
FINDLING: That`s most important to the client.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... the request was obscene and was outraged by it.
FINDLING: Really? Well, if he`s so upset by it, then don`t file or talk about the death penalty. Because this appointed lawyer has no choice but to do this. No choice. They are to defend this woman, Ms. Huckaby, to the end. And that`s what they need to do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just don`t understand, Jonna, why he didn`t do it right off the bat. I mean, we`ve been talking about this for a while now. Why wait until she`s already buried to bring up an exhumation when they could have asked for it right at the time that -- right there, when you`re looking at this woman, when she was first brought before justice.
JONNA SPILBOR, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know why, Jane? Because criminal cases truly evolve. And we don`t always know when we should know what we want to get out of certain pieces of evidence.
When they -- when they did determine that this would probably be necessary for all the reasons that Drew said, A, it could eliminate the aggravating factor; B, it could point to somebody else as the true culprit. The defense has no choice but to ask for this.
It`s sad that it has to happen after the little girl was laid to rest. But this is Criminal Defense 101. She`s got a right to this. And the judge will probably, probably rule in her favor.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I just have to say, common sense tells me that we could have seen this coming down the pike, and done it in a less hurtful way to the family.
Jennifer Harstein, what is it going to be like for this family, already reeling from the news that their precious 8-year-old child was raped with a foreign object, according to authorities? Now they just buried her. They`re reeling from grief. And they`re being told they`re going to have to possibly exhume the body.
JENNIFER HARSTEIN, CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGIST: It`s an impossible situation for them any way you look at it, Jane. I mean, their daughter is gone. Their beautiful little girl is murdered. And now there`s rape allegations on top of it. And someone that they knew, spent time with their daughter who they trusted did it. All the way around it`s a terrible situation.
And now this exhumation, although it might really point in the direction of who to prosecute, so it could have benefit. But in this moment, there`s really -- it`s so hard for them any way you look at it. That -- what good could come of it from them. Even in the long run, it could give the right answers, which would be the best outcome.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, Melissa Huckaby`s ex-husband, Johnny, confirmed that this woman suffered from mental problems. Listen to what he told Chris Cuomo today on "GMA."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUCKABY: She did suffer from depression. She did have issues with her self-persona, who she saw herself as.
CUOMO: Did she ever receive treatment as far as you know?
HUCKABY: As far as I know, that I could positively say, no. But she was on medication that was prescribed. So I imagine at some point in time she did see somebody for the problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She reportedly tried to kill herself last week, swallowing three X-Acto blades.
Now, he says, her ex, had been on some medication in the past, as you heard. Drew, given all of this, if you were her defense attorney, how would you advise her to plead when she goes back into court next Friday?
FINDLING: Well, clearly she`s going to plead not guilty. That`s a no-brainer. It`s not going to be very exciting. We don`t need to put it on the front headlines. They have to plead not guilty in the beginning. It would be ineffective assistance to just run out and plead guilty. But they...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Even if she`s confessed, because...?
FINDLING: It doesn`t make a difference. It doesn`t make a difference. It`s going to be a death penalty case, so that what you do is a matter of course.
I`ll tell you, in federal court, they already have printed out "not guilty." They won`t even let you in federal court. They want you to do your job.
But here, what they need to do is they need to get evaluations. She needs to be evaluated. Both sides, including the court wants her to be evaluated. Not because they`re going to put up an insanity case. They want to make sure she can understand the charges against her, and assist her counsel in her defense. That`s critical right now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: First of all, the prosecution hasn`t said whether they will seek the death penalty, although the special circumstances could make her eligible, if convicted.
But I think that`s what`s wrong with our criminal justice system. She can`t even plead guilty. Let`s say theoretically she did confess to cops. They won`t say. There`s been reports she`s told four stories. She can`t say, "I`m guilty"?
SPILBOR: Not right now, Jane. Later, perhaps. But certainly not right now. And I`m not sure whether this whole depression part of her story is a red herring, or whether they are -- the defense is gearing up to present some sort of insanity defense. Because look, the first people that are going to know whether she`s guilty or not is her defense team. And we can`t say anything. Not yet anyway.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whoa. It just blows my mind, every aspect of this case.
Hang in there, fantastic panel. More on Melissa Huckaby`s troubled past in just a moment.
Then, I will examine the pathetic state of celebrity in America, with people like Octomom, and ousted Governor Blagojevich trying to cash in on very, very questionable behavior. How low can we go?
But first, as new details emerge about suspected rapist/murderer Melissa Huckaby. Cops wonder could she have abused others in the past?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SGT. TONY SHENEMAN, TRACY POLICE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: What we`re asking is for the public, if they have any indication that any of their children may have had inappropriate contact with Miss Huckaby, to contact us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once I heard that it was the lady that lived in the same place, the same area. It just made me break town really bad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to know why. Why did you do that to her?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why? The question we`re all asking. Members of the Tracy, California, community outraged that Melissa Huckaby, a trusted Sunday schoolteacher and mother of a 5-year-old girl, could be charged with the rape and murder of beautiful 8-year-old Sandra Cantu, who played with her own daughter. They were playmates.
I am back with my expert panel. And I understand, Bob Moffitt, you`ve been checking out the very latest on the entombment. And you have an update for us.
MOFFITT: The Bay area has reported that Sandra was entombed in a pink casket two days ago, to answer your previous question.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So as opposed to being buried underneath the ground, she was put in some sort of a crypt in a mausoleum?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Steve Kardian, criminal investigator, what about this claim by the defense that they have to get at this body and exhume it immediately because it`s deteriorating as we speak, and that, if they don`t get that, that could be prejudicial to her defense?
STEVE KARDIAN, CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: It`s likely that, in the state that the body is prepared, it`s not deteriorating by the day. And as sad as it is, unfortunate as it is, I believe the judge will eventually grant that request for a second autopsy.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but eventually? I mean, they`re not meeting until next Friday. Should he appeal?
KARDIAN: The -- to make the motion to have that sooner?
KARDIAN: It would be in his best benefit to get that done soon, and quickly. But the body is preserved. The body is not deteriorating.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Drew Findling, if he`s saying, well, every passing second counts, and then he just waits for the hearing next Friday? He`s kind of undermining his own argument. But if he were to appeal immediately to an appeals court and say, "I need to exhume that body," he might win.
FINDLING: Well, first of all, every day that passes is a line of questioning from the prosecution down the road for the state`s witness, to the defense`s witness that, oh, you waited one week, two weeks, one month to do your examination.
So it`s going to come back in the defense`s face. So they`ve got to move for it to be quickly. They`ve got to move every day and push every day for a decision to be made. There`s not much for this judge to decide on this. He just needs to issue an order and get on with it.
SPILBOR: Jane, it could work this the defense`s favor, as well. Because down the road before trial, if the defense tries to make a motion to suppress the evidence of the sexual assault and say, "Look, you had an opportunity. You didn`t give it to us to do a second -- exhumation and a second autopsy," then that evidence might get suppressed and thrown out. That would work in the defense`s behalf.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. So many issues to cover here. Melissa Huckaby reportedly alleges two men that she had relationships with abused her. Her ex-husband, who you met a little while ago, who adamantly denies those claims, and another man she claims threatened to kill her.
And now police say Huckaby more recently had a relationship with this man, Christian Sinclair, who has been described by court records as abusive, an alcoholic and as a repeat offender of domestic laws, allegedly. He lives in the same mobile home park as both Melissa and the precious little victim, Sandra.
Police say Sinclair is not a suspect. They are not looking to make any more arrests in Sandra`s murder.
But Jennifer Harstein, as a psychologist, what do you make of her history with men given that this is a crime of a sexual nature?
HARSTEIN: It`s so interesting. I don`t know. It`s hard to really tease it apart, Jane. Because the fact is that her domestic violence history is going to keep her in relationships that are abusive.
That`s no guarantee that that`s going to then transfer to her daughter or to Sandra. So you can`t necessarily say that one definitely begets the other. But her choices in men...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There have been -- there have been indications from psychologists that, statistically speaking, if in fact -- and we don`t know this woman is guilty. She hasn`t even issued a plea.
But if, in fact, this is true, and police are right. And she did it. That she, statistically speaking, is likely to have been sexually abused as a child herself that, statistically.
So if a woman is sexually abused as a child, is she likely to grow up and have abusive relationships with men in her adult life? In other words, is this all the tracking into the same story?
HARSTEIN: It`s definitely possible. There is definitely a link that brings in over time that abuse gets perpetuated down. So it`s definitely likely that there could be some connection to whatever happened to her as a child.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jane -- Jane, I would have to say, though, that the only relevancy to this is if, in fact, there`s a death penalty case and there`s a sentencing, it could be a mitigation to try to keep her alive.
But other than that, really, the only thing that I see relevant is, from a mental illness standpoint, is if she tried this attempted suicide by swallowing these blades. And of course, we know that sometimes suicides are to get attention.
You know, another way to get attention, unfortunately, really unfortunately in our society, is to kill a little kid. Because right now, you become a superstar in a weird, psychotic sense. Look at Casey Anthony. I guarantee you she`s one of the ten most recognizable faces in America right now. And everybody involved in Cummings case, and it`s tragic.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what? Drew, you are absolutely right. And I think that`s part of the sickness in our society, where we are living in a society that is completely obsessed with violence. And we use it for entertainment. We use it for information. And then we wonder why violence occurs in real life. I absolutely agree with you.
In a shocking twist, the same day Huckaby was charged with murder, rape, and kidnapping, in the same courthouse, another trusted member of the Tracy community was in court. You won`t believe this.
This man, Jesse Llorente, a substitute teacher at the Tracy Elementary School for five years, was in court facing charges he molested 12 girls at the school. He pleaded not guilty to ten felony charges of lewd acts with a child, three misdemeanor child molestation charges, and one count of possession of child porn. Another blow to the Tracy community.
So Jonna Spilbor, the police have said there were no other suspects in Sandra`s case. But could this provide the defense with another person to point the finger at in their defense case?
SPILBOR: You bet. And why, in a case that is not a slam dunk, the case against Huckaby is certainly not. We have a little bit of circumstantial evidence right now and that`s it. Why did the police stop looking? She very well may present a third-party culpability defense in that some other person could have done it, or maybe somebody assisted her. For the police to stop at her right now is ludicrous.
FINDLING: I seem to remember -- I seem to remember...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She explained to them that possibly she did it, and how she did it. And gave them information only the killer could know.
I seem to remember somebody that was -- there was somebody flown over from Asia that claimed that they killed JonBenet Ramsey.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s a whole other subject for another day. Thank you, excellent panel.
The CraigsList killer strikes again as cops furiously expand the manhunt to Rhode Island.
Plus, Octomom, angling for a TV deal.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news in the spotlight as the monster known as the CraigsList killer strikes again, just last night. Surveillance photos revealed a suspect in the slaying of a woman in a Boston hotel.
And now Rhode Island cops say another young woman who also advertised services on CraigsList was bound with cord and held at gunpoint at a Holiday Inn late last night. She lived to tell her tale. Thank God. Police quickly connected the crime to the Boston murder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF STEPHEN MCCARTNEY, WARWICK POLICE DEPARTMENT, RHODE ISLAND: Preliminary investigation suggests that the assailant was responding to an advertisement that was posted by the victim on CraigsList. Warwick police detectives are actively investigating this case to include the possibility that this incident may be related to similar crimes occurring in the Boston area.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops say the sicko schedules rendezvous with hookers and masseuses who advertise online. He`s killed one woman and is suspected of tying up and robbing at least three others, all in hotel rooms. All posted services on CraigsList.
Back with me, Steve Kardian, former criminal investigator, and Maria Cramer, crime reporter with "The Boston Globe."
Maria, thanks for joining us. What`s the very latest?
MARIA CRAMER, CRIME REPORTER, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": Well, at this point, like you said, they are -- they`ve now extended this investigation to Warwick, Rhode Island.
Boston police are still saying they`re not sure if these cases are connected. But they do have detectives down there to see whether this man could have been the one that killed Julissa Brisman in Boston two nights ago and also assaulted another woman, a hooker from -- a prostitute, excuse me, from Las Vegas.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, the description of this Rhode Island suspect matches that, as you just mentioned, of a person of interest in the slaying of 26-year-old Julissa Brisman. She was the beautiful masseuse who was found shot to death Tuesday in her Boston Marriott Hotel room. Cops believe she was targeted after advertising on CraigsList. Her killer allegedly, again, arranges a hotel room rendezvous before committing the crime.
Steve Kardian, obviously cops are using the Internet and cell phone records to track this guy down.
KARDIAN: Yes, likely they are, Jane. But let me just say that I`ve done CraigsList prosecution investigations, and it`s my opinion that CraigsList is promoting prostitution and hiding behind the First Amendment right of freedom of speech. They have created...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, OK. This is not about attacking CraigsList right now. You know, CraigsList also is a very successful site that many people with legitimate uses for it, use.
But I think what we`re concerned about right now is catching this guy. And that`s why I brought up the question of using his contacts on the Internet and his cell-phone records to track him down. This guy`s brazen. I mean, this guy is brazen, going from crime to crime, according to authorities. And that means he`s dangerous.
KARDIAN: Well, typically what happens, Jane, is that the prostitute or the masseuse will put up her phone number online. The john will contact that phone number and make an arrangement to meet them. So there should be some sort of a record. Hopefully, he did make the mistake of using a familiar phone or a his cell phone or his own phone.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Maria, what is CraigsList doing to try to prevent other women from getting into danger?
CRAMER: Well, we know that CraigsList is working with Boston police on this case. They`re released a statement saying so, also expressing condolences for the families of these women.
As far as what they`re doing to prevent this kind of crime from happening again, well, you know, they`ve posted -- they say that they charged to get posts on this to see if you`re legitimate. But I`m not sure what else they`re doing.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Thank you both.
Casey Anthony murder trial, capital punishment case now. And it could cost taxpayers millions.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN ANCHOR: With Casey Anthony facing the possibility of death, her defense could now cost millions. I`ll tell you why Florida taxpayers could end up with that bill.
Also, astonishing updates in the Haleigh Cummings disappearance. Dad Ron gets the ax. I`ll examine how it will affect the fierce custody battle for Haleigh`s little brother.
Plus, I`ll ask why America rewards despicable behavior with riches and reality shows, from octo-mom to Rod Blagojevich, is there anything too shameful to cash in on?
Astonishing new developments tonight, in the case of missing Florida girl Haleigh Cummings. Father Ron Cummings has just gotten the ax. Yes, he was reportedly fired by his plant yesterday for abandoning his job after not showing up ever since his 5-year-old daughter went missing in February. Sounds like a good excuse to me.
Cummings and his lawyers are hopping mad about this decision. They claim the company agreed to let Cummings return to the job in April, and now they`re going back on their word. Ron`s lawyers also took a jab at his ex, the missing child`s mother, Crystal Sheffield.
Ron`s camp said, quote, "It should be noted that Crystal Sheffield is currently thousands of dollars in arrears for child support. She has not been gainfully employed in approximately two years. When Crystal and Ronald lived together, it was mainly Ronald`s grandmother who cared for their children since Crystal was usually watching TV."
So, how will Ron`s recent firing affect the bitter custody battle? More important, what about the search for the missing child, Haleigh?
Straight to my panel: Rebecca Rose Woodland, criminal defense attorney; plus, Jonna Spilbor, criminal defense attorney; and T.J. Hart, program and news director for WSKY 97.3 FM.
T.J. what is the very latest?
T.J. HART, NEWS DIRECTOR WSKY 97.3 FM: Well, the very latest, is yes there`s a lot going around about Ron losing his job, and there`s some debate as to whether or not he should have. After all he was trying to deal with his child being missing now since February 9th.
But it appeared that he had agreed a date which was April 3rd to return to work, and that was withdrawn from the table, he is now jobless. In speaking of last night with Kim Picazio in an interview, it appears that, you know, they don`t have a child custody case going on.
But unemployment could be a factor in whether or not one of the parents should or should not get young Ronald, and hopefully Haleigh when she returns.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: In other words, what I`m hearing from you is that Kim Picazio will likely use the fact that he no longer has a job to press for her contention that these children, the one who is still there, little junior, as well as Haleigh, if and when she`s returned, should be with the mother?
HART: It`s on the table. Let`s put it that way.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Rebecca Rose Woodland, could Ron sue his former employer if he had any proof that in fact they said, you know what, your child`s missing, we`re going to let you take a leave of absence, you can come back at XYZ time and now they reneged on it allegedly?
REBECCA ROSE WOODLAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Sure. I mean was he -- if he had an agreed-upon in a contract or some sort of a letter written that states I`m going out on disability, I`m going out on any sort of -- any sort of agreement with the company.
Now, we have to see that in writing. He`s going to claim it was an oral agreement possibly, well, he has to prove it. But if he had a return date of April 3rd, I would think that something had to be discussed.
Did his lawyers discuss it with their lawyers? Sure he can, he could sue for his job back, that`s wrongful termination. If you were given time off and you`re under the impression that you have the time off and you return on the date that you`ve agreed upon and then you`re told sorry, no job?
WOODLAND: Well, that doesn`t make any sense.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And look at this guy. This guy is on his knees right now crying because his daughter is missing, has vanished. I think it`s quite heartless, at least on its face. But there are complications here.
Ron`s lawyers have lashed out in their press release, quote, "Ronald Cummings in the last two months has had to deal not only with the disappearance of his daughter, Haleigh, but also false muck raking allegations by attorney Kim Picazio representing Crystal Sheffield, and Picazio`s personal friend, the bounty-hunter, Cobra," end quote.
Is it possible, Jonna Spilbor, that these allegations and the whole back and forth with charge and countercharge between the estranged parents of this missing child could have played a role in Ron losing his jobs?
JONNA SPILBOR, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, maybe. And if it did, it shouldn`t have. But yes, you know, the employer is looking to somebody to come back to work. And he`s embroiled in -- this is a tragedy. And the employer should be more compassionate.
But what Haleigh`s mother is doing right now is truly as heartless as what the employer has done by trying to rake this person over the coals. But have both -- they`re missing a daughter.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But wait a second...
WOODLAND: Wait a minute...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...Kim Picazio, you know, has issued just moments ago a very long statement essentially saying she`s doing what she has to do as an attorney representing the mother of a missing child. And a story about how this child went missing that doesn`t add up.
And remember, this child was with Ron, and under the watch of his teenage girlfriend, now wife, when this child went missing on their watch.
So there are those who would say, she has every right to question whether there is something good amiss at this home.
WOODLAND: And you know what, Jane? She`s not the only one. He and his attorneys are slurring them as well. I wish these two parents could get along, in the interest of the missing child and the one they still have.
They still have a child who when he grows up he`s going to read things that both his parents said about each other. That`s terrible.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think the whole thing is so ugly and is so hideous...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...and lastly, T.J. Hart, it seems like a lot of this is because there`s a vacuum created, no police commentary. Basically they`re acting like, we`re in a dead end. And we don`t know what`s happened.
HART: There are a lot of raw nerves. I mean, you`ve got a high-stress situation here with a child missing. You`ve got people who are angry, frustrated and they`re looking to lash out at anybody or anything. And they turn against each other like this.
And yes, police have not been very forthcoming with a whole lot of information because they are really trying to narrow this down. You know where they are right now? The police are still back at that timeline with Misty and the night the child disappeared.
Some other things have come to light here recently with the investigation by a lot of private investigators bringing these things to light, about a lifestyle that Misty Croslin Cummings had been living almost like a double life, with drugs and sex, and rock and roll and what have you, and being away from the home, and also having some relationships with people outside of her relationship with Ron.
Now, all of this has come to light. And you know what? The police are following those leads, they`re following several others. They don`t want to compromise this investigation any further. There`ve already been some missteps, letting people live in the home which is the crime scene at the very beginning until they decided -- you know we better to seal this off.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right...
HART: ...and then a month or two later taking the door off the back...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...all right.
HART: ...which should have been forensics evidence for a long time, too.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, T.J., thank you for that excellent update. And by the way, we`ve been trying to get in touch with Misty to get her side of the story -- we call her over and over again; cannot get it.
But we`d like to hear it, Misty. If you want to explain all the inconsistencies and the allegations of less than perfect behavior, to put it mildly, please come on our show and do so.
Thank you T.J. Rebecca and Jonna, stay right there.
Now, to the other Florida case captivating the nation: The murder of 2- year-old Caylee Anthony. Accused murderer and mother, Casey Anthony apparently making some cold hard cash behind bars, people.
WFTV reporting, Casey`s bank account flourishing from two men in her life. Her dad George Anthony and a second mystery man who is sending money all the way from California. What? A San Diego man named Michael Kelly apparently gives the accused killer $25 bucks every week.
Does this guy even know Casey? Or is this some sort of weird fascination with somebody behind bars? We`ve seen that so many times.
Also tonight, Jose Baez warning the decision to seek death against his client may cost millions of tax dollars.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSE BAEZ, CASEY ANTHONY`S ATTORNEY: Will it affect the trial? Yes, it may delay it. It may -- it certainly will make the costs to the taxpayers and the state of Florida at least triple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELEL: Now, new revelations the taxpayers may now have to foot the bill for her defense. What? That makes absolutely no sense to me. She doesn`t have a public defender. She`s got a legal dream team.
So much to cover tonight. Let`s bring back our expert panel: Jennifer Hartstein, clinical psychologist; Jonna Spilbor, criminal defense attorney; Rebecca Rose Woodland, criminal defense attorney.
Jonna, let me start with you on this.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t get it, how is it possible that taxpayers could be forced to pay for Casey Anthony`s defense?
SPILBOR: Say hello to the Sixth Amendment, Jane. This is -- this is a variation of that...
SPILBOR: ...no seriously, what happens here is even though she`s got her legal dream team, she is entitled to a free defense if she is indigent. That includes expert witnesses.
So if she can afford a lawyer, but she can`t afford the experts, guess what, she can make an application and the taxpayers will pay for that. It`s -- it`s under the Sixth Amendment...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just don`t understand this.
Listen, Rebecca Rose Woodland, we`ve been talking about how is the defense paying for their dream team. These are legal experts; tons of them, famous people like Dr. Henry Lee. And, you know, the list goes on.
And everybody has been wondering how are they going to pay. Now we`re hearing maybe the taxpayers are going to have to pay for that?
WOODLAND: Well, that`s a possibility. What Jonna was saying was the attorneys, no, because you can get a public defender. These are not public defenders. So they are being either paid or taking this as pro bono. We don`t know, right? Jose Baez has been a little vague with that.
But the experts, yes, you are entitled to defend yourself. And under the Sixth Amendment, if you cannot -- but you have to prove that you do not have the money for it.
And in this case we`ll see...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.
WOODLAND: ...what her financials are.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jennifer Hartstein, very quickly what about these people who send her money to buy snacks?
JENNIFER HARTSTEIN, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: It`s so interesting. And I really have to wonder if it`s really related to this whole fascination with, she`s so famous and she`s so interesting and it gives him a moment of time in the limelight. And he`s just so fascinated with someone behind bars.
We know so many people who that is impacted by. And maybe he`s another one of those kind of hanging on to that and figure this is the way.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you know, she`s got to watch out, because if she keeps getting that money to buy snacks, and keeps buying snacks she could be putting on weight.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let`s face it, this is a televised case, people. Ladies, thank you so much.
Speaking of which, too fat to fly, United Airlines telling overweight passengers, either pay for two seats or get off the damn plane. I`ll have the latest on this controversial new rule.
And it looks like octo-mom could be coming to a TV screen near you. Why do we reward pitiful behavior with riches and reality show deals? I will examine the sad state of American celebrity next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The octo-mom`s rumored TV deal, just another example of the pathetic state of celebrity in America. I will have an update.
But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.
Too fat to fly? That`s what United Airlines is telling overweight passengers under a controversial new rule: passengers who cannot squeeze into one seat will be moved to two adjacent empty seats.
However, if the plane is full, they will be forced to upgrade to business class or buy two seats on the next flight. Some think punishing obese people is going overboard. But I say, America has to start getting serious about our weight problem. And yes, that may include penalizing people.
Two out of every three Americans are overweight. That means two out of every three Americans use more resources than they need. We are sucking this planet dry. And we are destroying our own health in the process. Obesity now threatens to surpass smoking as the nation`s number one killer.
If it takes a couple of people getting bumped off a flight for us to start changing, so be it. And I say that with a caveat that I battle with my weight. That`s why I`m going to yoga right after this show.
That`s tonight`s "Top of the Block."
Good news tonight for people who act like jerks. Seems that the more offensive their behavior the greater chance they will come away with their own reality show.
Octo-mom became a pop culture obsession the very day she gave birth to those octuplets. At first she was a medical miracle. But it didn`t take long for the public to turn on the unemployed, in vitro addicted, camera- loving mother of 14. Yet she says a show is in the works.
Then there`s disgraced ex-governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich. He`s facing years in prison if he`s convicted of corruption charges. And yet he, too, could be headed for 15 minutes of reality infamy on the show called "I`m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here."
And even the despicable Michael Vick who admitted to a role in killing dogs that underperformed in his dog-fighting operation, his lawyer said he has agreed to a documentary deal that could net him $600,000. This guy killed dogs. Meantime, his agent says, no, on rumors of a reality show.
I really do not get it. What is it with these people? What is it with America? Have we no shame? Is there some deep seated need to reward people who do things that are just wrong?
Kim Serafin, senior editor of "In Touch Weekly;" Brad Cohen, criminal defense attorney and a former reality show contestant himself, but he`s one of the good guys -- we`ll tell you about that in a second; and Russell Wetanson, pop culture and legal expert and founder of popsquire.com.
Russell, let`s start with you. Does it seem like the bigger the creep, the better the reality show performance?
RUSSELL WETANSON, FOUNDER, POPSQUIRE.COM: It does seem that way. I have to say that America loves train wrecks. I`ll be watching all of these shows, even if they are jerks.
I think my favorite thing about this is that Rod Blagojevich might be on a reality show with Spencer Trent (ph) and Heidi Montague (ph). If that isn`t punishment enough, then I don`t know what is.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s face it, he`ll probably win because it`s all about scheming to maintain your position and not get eliminated. Isn`t that what he does essentially, he`s accused of doing? Bradford Cohen?
BRADFORD COHEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, I mean, listen, I think it`s a huge mistake for him to go on any reality show while there`s a criminal case pending. Hot Rod is making a huge mistake here. They don`t want to see you being smart on that show. They want to see you being cunning, sly, underhanded. And that`s what they`re going to show.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what I`m saying, he`s perfect for this show.
COHEN: It`s an awful, awful idea for Hot Rod.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s type casting. And I thought you were "Dancing with the Stars," but you`re with the "Apprentice," right Bradford?
COHEN: Yes. I`m not very light on the loafers (ph).
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Octo-mom`s attorney says they haven`t made a deal yet for a reality show, but they`re negotiating. Part of the issue? 14 kids are involved. And even octo-mom, herself, has expressed concern over how it would impact the children.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think you`re going to start a reality show?
NADYA SULEMAN, MOTHER OF OCTUPLETS: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When your kids are all grown up?
SULEMAN: No, I think that`s exploitation of my kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did you hear that? It seems like it`s exploitation. But apparently she may have had a change of heart; the reality of those bills setting in for the unemployed mother of 14. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SULEMAN: If I were ever to agree on any kind of a reality, it would be like documentary style where they would just monitor and assess their growth and development from like the stage until they`re maybe 18, probably. I think that`s fascinating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kim Serafin, when this show happens and everybody pretty much says it`s inevitable, how do you make a woman who`s been so vilified likable. Or do we just sort of love to hate her?
KIM SERAFIN, SENIOR EDITOR, "IN TOUCH WEEKLY": You don`t really need to really make her likable. She`s polarizing. That`s why people do watch reality shows. And I think she`s kind of growing on all of us, as this kind of drags on.
SERAFIN: I think so.
COHEN: I don`t know about that. She`s not growing on me.
SERAFIN: With Rod Blagojevich, I just say that one is a win-win situation. That`s for NBC. NBC needs the ratings. People will tune in to that.
I think people would like him to be, I`m a celebrity, get me out of here, but they want him to stay there in Costa Rica, they don`t want him to leave.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s -- I mean he could be a flight risk actually. Let`s talk about this Rod guy. It seems that like octo-mom, he wants attention at any cost. It doesn`t matter as long as it`s attention.
I mean, right after he was impeached by the Illinois house of representatives he went on TV chatting it up with Barbara Walters on "The View." Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROD BLAGOJEVICH, FORMER GOVERNOR, ILLINOIS: If you hear the whole story and you hear all of the different tapes, you`ll hear a combination of discussions in an effort to try to do the right thing and make the right decision. Let me unequivocally state right here before you and the whole country, under no circumstances was I trying to sell a senate seat. Under no circumstances did I break any laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Russell, he`s enjoying this way too much.
WETANSON: Yes, he definitely is enjoying it. And I can already hear his speech on that reality show. "Under no circumstances are Heidi and Spencer going to beat me. Under no circumstances am I going to be kicked out of this jungle."
It`s pretty ridiculous. And I think people will watch. We`ll have to see what it turns out to be. But one point I wanted to make about Nadya Suleman...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you`ll do it right after the break.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Our session continues. More bad behavior in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SULEMAN: Thank you. I`m not a celebrity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are a celebrity.
SULEMAN: But I`m not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re absolutely a celebrity. You`ve got paparazzi around you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLAGOJEVICH: I`m here in New York because I can`t get a fair hearing in Illinois. I know the fix is in. I`ll soon join unfortunately the legions of others who are losing their jobs in our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, we`re talking about America rewarding people for bad behavior.
Michael Vick, in my opinion, has no business whatsoever getting any kind of reality show, period, or even a documentary. The disgraced ex-NFL star admitted to a role in killing dogs that were underperforming in his dog- fighting ring. Some of these dogs were, according to prosecutors, hanged and electrocuted and shot and drowned.
According to the "Hollywood Reporter" Vick was talking to producers about a show sort of like "My Name is Earl" where he would make amends for his past acts. But it could earn him $600,000. Once again his agents saying, Kim Serafin, that this reality show is a farce, there is no reality show. But as far as a documentary is concerned, I think that there still may be a possibility.
I don`t think -- you know, it would be one thing if he was going to give the $600,000 to PETA or the Humane Society of the United States. But there`s no talk about that, Kim.
SERAFIN: No. There`s talk about him trying to repay his debt. That`s why he`s doing this. And it sounds like he`s just parsing words; documentary, reality show. This is something I would not watch.
Like you, Jane, I`ve always been a big animal welfare advocate, and I think this is kind of disgusting. This is like the Nick Hogan reality show idea, the second he got into jail he was already talking about a reality show to remake his image. And I think this is something that a lot of people will not tune in to see.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I hope those producers who were trying to make a deal listen to you and to me and say no. When you kill you cross a line. There`s no way that this man should have a reality show.
But Russell, you know, what gets me is that I think that the more dysfunctional the behavior, the more entertaining the show. And that`s why we`ve gotten ourselves into this rut. People who are well balanced, behaving politely, and doing reasonable things don`t make for good TV.
WETANSON: Absolutely. That is true. I mean, we want to watch people who are train wrecks. There have been some really good reality shows about people who are normal and sweet. But those days are gone.
Now we have Michael Vick. And you know, what is this going to be? I mean, he isn`t even sentenced to community service. It`s not like the show would show him doing anything good at least maybe not. I don`t know. But this is not a show I`d want to watch either.
VELEZ-MICHELL: Brad, I just want to give you your 15 seconds of talking about your reality show. Did you enjoy it?
COHEN: Oh, I loved it. I thought it was great. I had a great experience on it. Obviously, they show you the best and the worst and they decide what they`re going to put on TV, and that`s the danger of reality shows. And that`s the danger with these people. They don`t have production value.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Out of time.
I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell. You`re watching ISSUES.