Edition: U.S. | Arabic | Set Pref

 

Return to Transcripts main page

ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Inappropriate Behavior Continues for Drew Peterson; Does Factory Farming Lead to Stronger Flu Strains?

Aired May 18, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, a facedown in court. Drew Peterson uncharacteristically silent as his attorney enters a "not guilty" plea that he murdered his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

Meantime, a new controversy erupts as prosecutors try to get the judge thrown off the case, claiming he may be biased in favor of Peterson.

Then, Casey Anthony`s parents, Cindy and George, join in an emotional rally over the weekend for missing 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings. Is this part of their public relations blitz?

Meantime, could the Zanny the nanny civil suit get thrown out? The judge is expected to rule on that controversy tomorrow. I`ll have a preview.

And a miracle in Mexico. Adorable 3-year-old Briant Rodriguez, who was snatched from his California home by two gunmen leaving his mother distraught is found alive, wandering the streets of Mexico. Cops hot on the trail of the gunmen. I`ll tell you if they made an arrest today.

Then, sentencing day in the MySpace suicide. Lori Drew, the mother accused of driving a teenage girl to suicide by posing as a boy on the Web site learns her fate. Should she face hard time for her cyber crime?

Plus, the death toll reaches six in America`s swine flu outbreak, as a school principal in New York dies over the weekend. I`ll tell you why Americans must address the harsh conditions for pigs at factory farms. For the sake of our health, it`s the real story you`ll only get here.

ISSUES starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news tonight in the Briant Rodriguez case. Cops have now named two suspects and one person of interest in the kidnapping of that adorable 3-year-old boy found alive wandering the streets of Mexico over the weekend. I will have the very latest on this crucial, critical development, coming right up.

But first, outrageous. I mean, really outrageous behavior, scandalous accusations in the Drew Peterson case as he pleads not guilty to murder charges in the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

The shackled Peterson did not say one single word during his arraignment this morning. Instead, he let his lawyer do all the talking and enter the plea of "not guilty" for him. But just because the clowning ex-cop was quiet in the courtroom does not mean he behaved appropriately. Peterson still managed to infuriate members of the victim`s family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL LISAK, KATHLEEN SAVIO`S NEPHEW: He was waving to my mom, just continuously looking at my mother and our family, the Savio family, almost in a mocking way. He was rocking back and forth in his chair the whole time like he was waiting to, you know, go see a movie or something.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Waving? Dodgy Drew apparently can not help himself. His own lawyer says humor is how he handles the stress of being charged with murder.

As for Drew, listen to what he tells Matt Lauer during a phone interview from jail on NBC`s "Today Show."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, CO-HOST, NBC`S "THE TODAY SHOW": You said in the past that this kind of sense of humor of yours is the way you react to stress. But do you understand how it can tend to make you a very unsympathetic character in the eyes of the public?

DREW PETERSON, ACCUSED OF MURDER: Well, there`s no book written on how you`re supposed to act, you know. I mean, would it be better if I hid my head down and tried to hide my face and hunched over and had tears in my eyes? I mean, no, that`s just not me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Drew, yes, it would be better, actually.

Meantime, turmoil erupts over the judge. In a very shocking move, prosecutors try to get the judge thrown off the case. Apparently, there is bad blood there. Prosecutors say the judge is biased in favor of Drew Peterson.

Well, that move didn`t sit well with the defense. They lashed back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOEL BRODSKY, DREW PETERSON`S ATTORNEY: It`s nothing but gamesmanship. I think it shows that the state does not want to try this case on the merits.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Could the state`s bid for a new judge put the entire trial on rewind? The defense couldn`t even ask for a bail reduction today, because of the whole judge mess.

I want to hear what you think about all this.

Straight out to my incredible and distinguished panel. We are delighted to have tonight Andrew Abood, one of Drew Peterson`s defense attorneys, along with Mark Eiglarsh, criminal defense attorney; Mike Gaynor, former NYPD detective; Dr. Gail Saltz, psychiatrist and associate professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital; and Lisa Bloom, anchor on the legal network In Session and CNN legal analyst.

Lisa, this is pretty wild. The defense says it`s extraordinary, almost unheard of for prosecutors to try to change the judge. It sounds like something the defense would try to do normally. What is behind all this?

LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, IN SESSION: Well, the prosecution says that in a previous case, this judge has shown a bias towards Drew Peterson by making an outlandish ruling. And P.S., the defense clearly likes this judge. That`s why they`re fighting this, and that`s why they let Drew Peterson sit in jail for ten days, rather than try to get another judge ten days ago when he was arrested.

The defense likes this judge, the prosecution does not like this judge and wants him out of there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Prosecutors say the judge, as you just heard, biased in favor of Drew, and they want him off the case. Drew`s lawyer, Joel Brodsky, says it`s nothing more than gamesmanship and that signals a weak case. Listen to what else he has to say about the prosecution.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRODSKY: It wants to try to do this on technicalities. A motion by the state for a substitution of judges is almost unheard of, extremely rare. And I think it just indicates to us the weakness of the state`s factual position.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Panel, and those at home, here`s the back story.

Cops arrested Drew Peterson for allegedly owning an assault rifle with a barrel shorter than allowed by law, and that`s not good, because you can easily conceal that kind of gun.

In November, this very judge, Richard Schoenfeld [SIC], threw out the felony gun charge against Drew, because prosecutors refused to hand over internal documents that led up to Drew`s arrest on that gun charge.

Now, Mark Eiglarsh, my original thought was, oh, they might be afraid to release those documents if they refer to, "Hey, let`s try to get Peterson on something. If we can`t get him on a murder rap, then let`s get him on a gun charge." Am I wildly off base?

MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, I think that...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I am wildly off base?

EIGLARSH: Well, your theory is what now, Jane? Let me -- before I disagree with you. I want to make sure I understand.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: My theory is that there was a reason, obviously, the prosecution didn`t want to release those documents, those internal documents with Illinois State Police and the prosecutors over the gun charge. And the first thing I thought of was, well, they were probably discussing -- it`s like the Al Capone thing. If you can`t get somebody on a murder rap, you get them on something else, in this case, a gun charge.

EIGLARSH: Well, an interesting theory. And maybe Brodsky will argue that in closing arguments. Possibly.

But what they`ve done is very, very risky. If this judge doesn`t get off this case, they`re stuck with him. That`s No. 1.

And No. 2, the attorney for Peterson has a very valid argument. The motion that the prosecutors put forth simply alleges that this judge can`t be fair, essentially. Why? You need to specifically list those reasons. And they failed to do so.

MIKE GAYNOR, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: I agree.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, we have Andrew Abood, co-counsel for Drew Peterson. You say -- this is the mark, or your team says this is the mark of a weak case. Expound on that. Why is it the mark of a weak case? Maybe they just feel this judge isn`t fair.

ANDREW ABOOD, CO-COUNSEL FOR DREW PETERSON: The fact ob the matter is, this was a strategic move on their part. And you would think that if they had a strong case, that any judge sitting on the case, any judge in that county, would ultimately get the same result. And they don`t feel that they can get the same result with this judge.

And I think that suggests that their case is not as strong as it should be, or could be.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Gail Saltz, as a psychiatrist, it also occurred to me that this poisons it from the get-go. Because if he remains on the case, every time he issues a ruling, let`s say favorable to Drew Peterson, people are going to say, well, he`s biased in favor of Drew Peterson. And if he does the reverse, he`s going to say he`s trying to prove that he`s not biased.

DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: Unfortunately, at the end of the day, lawyers, judges, you know, victims, perpetrators, they`re all human beings. So you know, yes, when you`ve been told, "Hey, we don`t think you`re fair and we want to kick you off," and "we want to do this and that," you know, it is going to move people.

But the question as to whether he will side with one side or the other has a lot to do probably with his character. You know, is he going to feel more guilty, and therefore he should move in one direction? Or is he going to feel more defensive, and then he`s going to be in the other direction?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It really does poison the environment there, and I think it`s almost inevitable that they`d have to get another judge. I know that the defense doesn`t want to hear that, but...

EIGLARSH: Jane, you can`t. You can`t. Let me tell you why.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK.

EIGLARSH: If it was so easy just to get a judge off, everyone would be filing motions in front of the judges that are more conservative. You can`t forum shop. Cases are randomly assigned, and you get what you get and you don`t get upset.

BLOOM: Judges are used to being asked to recuse themselves. It`s not all that uncommon. So even if this judge stays on the case, I`m sure he`ll be fair and impartial.

ABOOD: In Illinois the judges are not randomly assigned. They`re assigned by the chief judge. In this case the chief judge of the criminal division is Judge Schoenstedt, and he`s been on the case since November.

And if you look at any of his decisions that he`s made in this case, then he`s been very, very even-handed. And even when he dismissed the case, it was only as a result of the government saying to the judge, "We`re not going to follow your order." And under those circumstances, the judge was left with no other remedy.

BLOOM: That`s right. That was the right ruling. I agree. I`m no fan of Drew Peterson, but if the state didn`t turn over the documents it was supposed to turn over, the charges had to be dismissed. That`s the law.

ABOOD: The prosecution wants to have it both ways. They want to be able to hold on to the right judge, and they want to use the materials available to them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mark Eiglarsh, is this going to hold up the whole case?

EIGLARSH: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The defense couldn`t even get bail reduced today because of this mishegoss, as they say. I mean, is it going to just draw it all out now?

EIGLARSH: Temporarily. I think the judge will make a quick ruling. Maybe he said something during the last hearing where the prosecutors can say, "Judge, you said these words. These words mean that the appellate court would find that you`re not being fair to us. So you need to get off."

Or the judge will just say, "Listen, don`t cry. I`m staying on the case. Let`s move on."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We have much more to debate on the Peterson murder case in a moment.

Be sure to tune in to "NANCY GRACE" tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern. She will have the very latest twists in this outrageous case.

And much more analysis here on ISSUES. Also, do you think we`ll see a big shakeup in this case and a new judge? Give me a holler: 1-877-JVM- SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. Let me know.

Then, breaking news, just in, in the Briant Rodriguez kidnapping case. Cops have just named two suspects. We will talk about them. They have criminal histories. I will have the very latest in just moments.

And there`s also a female person of interest. It`s wild.

But first, Drew Peterson`s attorneys working frantically to get him out of jail. Here`s what one of Kathleen Savio`s family had to say about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICHOLAS SAVIO, KATHLEEN SAVIO`S HALF-BROTHER: I do not believe he should be able to get out of jail. He should sit there. You went on the media and you made a fool of himself. So if you ask for a change of venue, everybody knows who you are. No one told you to go on the media and address the way -- things the way you do.

We`ve been through five years of suffering. We don`t want any more suffering. So he should sit in jail, as far as I`m concerned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELISSA DOMAN, KATHLEEN SAVIO`S NIECE: My aunt deserves justice. She deserved justice five years ago, and she deserves to be listened to before she was murdered. He got five years over life that my aunt was not allowed. I believe he should sit there until the verdict is reached. I don`t think he should be able to go and enjoy my cousins and Stacy`s children, because my aunt can`t.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Emotional words there. Kathleen Savio`s family distraught over her murder. And they want Drew Peterson to pay.

We are back talking about the drama swirling around this case. Phone lines are lighting up, jam-packed.

Susan in Missouri, your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Hi, Jane. I just wanted to know if the state might seek the death penalty against in order for the death of Kathleen in order to get Drew to disclose information about Stacy?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Andrew Abood, my understanding is that there`s a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois. Correct?

ABOOD: Well, yes. And I think that, if you look at the factors in regards to a death penalty case, this case meets none of the factors. And it would be highly surprising based upon our analysis that they would seek the death penalty.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let`s talk about motive a little bit. After the arraignment today Kathleen Savio`s family spoke out about that to reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAVIO: She`s going to get half of his pension, which is $60,000 (ph). To anybody, it`s a lot of money. Some people only make that. I know she was going to get half of that. And she was married 10 years. Probably a lot of the child`s rights, he didn`t want to see his child -- his children get taken away from him. And she`s -- so for all that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Retired detective, Mike Gaynor. We know Kathleen Savio and Drew Peterson went through a highly contentious divorce, a bitter divorce, were engaged in a battle over property.

Now we`re hearing about battling over the kids, battling over the pension. Prosecutors don`t have to prove motive. But certainly it helps, doesn`t it?

GAYNOR: Yes, it certainly does. And let`s not forget he also inherited about $1 million as an insurance policy as a result of her death. Not only that...

ABOOD: That`s not true. He didn`t inherit a single penny.

GAYNOR: The family said he did.

BLOOM: Well, he got a million -- he got $1 million in life insurance, and that money is set aside for the kids. He also got...

ABOOD: The children were the beneficiaries of the life insurance policy.

BLOOM: According to John Q. Kelly, who is the attorney for the Savio family I spoke to today, he netted about $1.5 million, about $500,000 from the businesses that would have gone to her in the divorce and the sale of real estate.

ABOOD: That`s not true.

BLOOM: He got it as a result of her death. A million set aside for the kids.

ABOOD: That`s not true.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is the kind of issue that is going to come out at trial, undoubtedly, Mark. And they`re going to hash it out with direct examination and cross-examination.

GAYNOR: Whether it`s true or not...

EIGLARSH: And if I`m the prosecutor in this case, I don`t spend that much time focusing on that, because I don`t have to prove it. I will come up with reasons why he did what he did. But I will make sure the jurors keep their eye on the ball. And that`s going to probably be the forensic evidence explaining why he did what he did. And that he did it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but there`s -- there`s a problem with the delay in the forensic evidence. And the first autopsy, which said it was accidental, and the exhumation in the second autopsy. I mean...

EIGLARSH: What else is there then, Jane? I mean, what else is there?

BLOOM: There`s a lot more, Jane. I`ll answer that. How about 18 calls of domestic disturbances to the police? How about bruises?

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM: How about going to the emergency room over and over again?

ABOOD: ... in this room, because those aren`t all about the deceased. Kathleen Savio calling on Drew Peterson.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.

(CROSSTALK)

EIGLARSH: That`s compelling evidence. But there better be more.

ABOOD: But it`s circumstantial.

BLOOM: And a history of beatings, financial gain.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Where`s my gavel? Where`s my gavel? Look -- guys, look, I have to use my mirror here as a gavel. That`s not a good thing.

ABOOD: Go ahead, Judge Velez.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Andrew Abood, give us your take on the 18 911 calls to Kathleen Savio. Give us your take. Give us your take. Obviously, you have...

ABOOD: Some of them are so insignificant, bringing the kids back late. Many of them, some of them are Drew calling the police on Kathleen. Ultimately, I think they`re a non-factor in this case. And whether they`ll even...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What about the visits to the hospital? The E.R.? What about the protective order?

ABOOD: Never charged. There was no crime ever...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, yes, but Lisa, they say it was never charged because he was a cop.

BLOOM: That`s right. Listen, I`ve read the autopsy report.

ABOOD: The cops never get charged with any offenses? They do all the time.

BLOOM: I need to be allowed to make my point. The autopsy shows -- the first autopsy shows that she was covered with bruises, lacerations and contusions...

ABOOD: No, it doesn`t. Read the autopsy report.

BLOOM: ... and the cut on the back of the head.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She had a cut on the back of the head. You can`t deny that, Andrew.

BLOOM: Healthy 40-year-old women do not dry in their own -- own bathtub covered with fresh bruises. It just doesn`t happen.

ABOOD: This is all circumstantial.

BLOOM: And the fingerprint on his chest.

ABOOD: All circumstantial.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s get in the shrink, because this is such a hot- button case. So look at all these professionals here and how heated they`ve gotten. Imagine what it`s going to be like in court. I mean, this -- why does it touch such a raw nerve?

DR. GAIL SALTZ, PSYCHIATRIST: Yes, I think this guy really stirs people up. You know? I mean, there are a lot of things about him that do remind one of sociopathy. But he is in this weird kind of way -- as she was saying, sort of weird, bizarre, but charming. You know, very -- there`s something sort of engaging about him, and it draws people in.

Look, he`s supposedly on -- being thought of maybe having murdered two women, and yet women are still getting engaged to him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Shontel -- I want to get Shontel in for a second. Shontel, New Mexico, your question or thought?

CALLER: Hi, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hey.

CALLER: What I was wondering is, what made them exhume the body? And what is the actual cause of death that she died from?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Lisa Bloom.

ABOOD: Good question.

BLOOM: Her body was exhumed after Stacy disappeared. The family always thought that he killed her, and it was covered up. After Stacy disappeared, now it was highly suspicious. Her body was exhumed. The cause of death both times is considered to be drowning. But remember, she was found in a dry bathtub.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK.

ABOOD: Come on, that`s even close to the facts.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`ll come back and debate it again. We`re going to stay on this. Let`s come back -- come back again, Andrew. Debate it again. I want to thank you for joining us.

Swine flu strikes again in America as a New York school official dies from the virus. I`ll tell you the story about swine flu you will not hear anywhere else.

And the miracle in Mexico. Adorable 3-year-old Briant Rodriguez, kidnapped by two gunmen in California, found alive. He is high-fiving and celebrating. We`ll have breaking news in this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In the spotlight tonight, the death toll climbs in America`s swine flu outbreak, as a school principal in New York City dies over the weekend.

So as the World Health Organization considers raising the pandemic alert to its highest level, we are seeing two stories converge. One, this flu virus that`s killing people, the desire to find the source never greater. And two, there`s a growing movement to ban cruel factory farming practices that some claim may have links to swine flu. The pork industry says there is no connection.

Straight to Jane Garrison, an animal welfare advocate and Dr. Michael Gregor, the director of public health and animal agriculture for the Humane Society of the United States.

Dr. Gregor, most people when they think of a farm, they think of rolling fields and animals moving about. Today pigs are kept by the hundreds of thousands in tiny gestation crates. What are these crates, and why do you feel they`re a threat to human health?

MICHAEL GREGOR, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH & ANIMAL AGRICULTURE, HUMANE SOCIETY: The veal-like metal stalls that allows farmers to keep thousands of animals into a single building. The reason it`s such a breeding ground for disease is not just the sheer numbers of animals -- they`re packed snout to snout -- but the overcrowding, the stress crippling their immune systems, the ammonia from the decomposing excrement burning their lungs, the lack of fresh air, the lack of sunlight. With all these factors together, what you have is the perfect storm environment for the emergence and spread of these new so-called super strains of influenza.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trust and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health say large-scale industrialized farming poses an increased risk of bovine or avian flu. Quote, "Such novel viruses not only put the workers and animals at risk of infection, but also may increase the risk of disease transmission to the communities where the workers live," end quote.

Jane Garrison, you helped get pig gestation crates banned in California by helping to pass Prop 2, which is also known as the Ban the Crate Initiative. That goes into effect over several years.

Now, the state of Maine just became the sixth state in the U.S. to ban pig gestation crates on factory farms with similar legislation coming up for consideration in four other states. What can average Americans do if they look at these crates and they conclude they`re cruel and they need to go?

JANE GARRISON, ANIMAL WELFARE ADVOCATE: Well, the best thing consumers can do is contact their elected officials and demand an end to these cruel gestation crates that don`t even provide enough room for the pigs to turn around or lie down for their entire lives.

Consumers could also make healthier choices when they sit down to eat. Healthier choices are better for the environment. They`re better for the pigs. And they`re certainly better for human health.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, we invite the pork industry to tell their side. We`ve invited them on in the past, and they`ve declined. But what would you say, Jane, to the pork industry that says this is a perfectly acceptable way to raise farm animals?

GARRISON: Jane, these animals on factory farms are suffering tremendously. And that cannot be denied. These intelligent, sensitive creatures are crammed into cages where they can`t even move.

And quite frankly, we can do better than this. We should at least give them move -- room to move. We should at least give them grass under their feet, and we should give them sunshine on their backs. All animals, including those raised for food, deserve to be treated humanely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So Dr. Gregor, they`re kept in these indoor, large- scale warehouses. They`re never allowed outside. Do they have contact with each other?

GREGOR: The studies show that even measures as simple as providing straw to these animals, just so they don`t have the immune-crippling stress of lying on bare concrete their whole lives, can significantly decrease swine flu influenza transmission rates.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Jane, Michael, thank you so much. Please come back.

GARRISON: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This story isn`t going away. We`re going to stay on top of it.

Accused killer Casey Anthony`s parents attend a rally in support of missing 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings. I will analyze the bizarre intersection of these two horrific cases. You will not believe the connection. `

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN ANCHOR: Miracle in Mexico. Adorable three-year- old Briant Rodriguez who was snatched from his California home by two gunmen found alive in Mexico. I`ll tell you if cops made an arrest today.

Stunning developments in the Briant Rodriguez case in moments.

First though, two worlds collide tonight as families of missing 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings and murdered 2-year-old Caylee Anthony rally together to raise awareness for all missing children.

Little Haleigh vanished more than three months ago, but her mom, Crystal Sheffield, who has suffered regular seizures since that tragic day, will not give up hope. That somebody out there, somewhere knows what happened to her precious little child.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRYSTAL SHEFFIELD, HALEIGH CUMMING`S MOTHER: Whoever has her, I know you`re watching. Please just bring her home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What hell she`s got to be going through. Standing strong next to Crystal were George and Cindy Anthony, the grandparents, of course, of slain toddler Caylee Anthony whose mom Casey is awaiting trial for her murder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CINDY ANTHONY, CAYLEE ANTHONY`S GRANDMOTHER: Do not give up hope. To the Zachary Bernhardt family, you should not give up hope.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whoa, what emotions overflowing. Cindy Anthony, who knows all too well the sting of a missing child, advocating for all missing kids in Florida. But was this weekend`s vigil just another stop on the Anthony PR blitz?

They`ve been hitting all the major outlets since their explosive depositions in the Zanny the nanny defamation since became public.

Meantime, could that case be dismissed? I`m talking thrown out as early as tomorrow? We will have all the latest.

Straight to my expert panel: Mike Gaynor, retired NYPD detective and president of East Coast Detective Ltd; and back with me, the one and only Mark Eiglarsh.

Mark, let`s start with you, is it smart for George and Cindy to be putting themselves out there again while their daughter is waiting for the start of her trial for Caylee`s murder? There has been a lot of criticism every time they go out there and talk that they`re not doing their daughter any good.

MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I`m one of those people who keeps saying, you know what, you`re just not doing a good job of it.

Clearly, their message, number one, is we want our daughter freed. Now, number two is, well yes, if we can help other kids out there, yes, that`s great, too.

Clearly, this is a woman, Cindy Anthony, who when confronted with her daughter being out partying when the granddaughter was missing, she said, "Well, it was just one photograph."

What kind of message, what kind of poster child is she for teaching us how to behave and what to do when our children go missing? I understand their grief to some extent, I sympathize with them but they`re out for their daughter right now, they`re not out for all these other kids.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I have a tendency to agree with you.

Now, tomorrow Casey Anthony`s civil attorneys will ask that the Zanny the nanny case against her be chucked out. Zenaida Gonzalez claims her life was ruined when Casey Anthony connected her name to little Caylee`s disappearance. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZENAIDA GONZALEZ, SUING CASEY ANTHONY FOR DEFAMATION: My focus right now is just mainly like trying to get my family back to where I had my family. And we weren`t the richest people in the world, but I lived happy. All of this is just kind of changed my life dramatically. And I only mind for my daughters. For me is the most primary thing right now, is just getting my daughters where they need to be stable, in a stable place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re also joined by Lisa Bloom, CNN legal analyst. Lisa, Casey`s attorneys claim this lawsuit is all for publicity. But this woman Zenaida said she can`t get a job, she had to change her appearance, her hair color; she may have to change her name because of all this negative attention.

Now, the depositions for the Zanny the nanny case were made public, and they could be seen as very damaging to Casey`s criminal case.

My question to you is, should this case be thrown out or should it simply be postponed until after the criminal case?

LISA BLOOM, ANCHOER, "IN SESSION": Well, I don`t see the need to postpone it, if she`s got a valid cause of action she`s entitled to pursue it now. But she probably doesn`t have all of the legal standards set forth in order to pursue the case.

I don`t know if she can show that she specifically was targeted by Casey Anthony when Casey made up this Zanny the nanny lie and it was obviously a lie.

And by way, if could just briefly, Mark Eiglarsh, I mean, why would you attack George and Cindy Anthony for lighting candles at a vigil about thousands of other children? I mean, can they never do anything worthy?

EIGLARSH: I`ll tell you why...

BLOOM: They`re talking about thousands of other kids; they`re not even talking about their own grandchild.

EIGLARSH: Because Lisa, it`s transparent what they`re trying to do.

BLOOM: How do you know what they`re trying to do? Can`t they have a good motive?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Lisa -- Lisa in Mark`s defense, I mean, even the memorial, the critics say they turned it into sort of a campaign.

BLOOM: These are grieving grandparents who are not accused of doing anything wrong.

EIGLARSH: Lisa you saw that interview...

BLOOM: If I can make one point...

EIGLARSH: Yes.

BLOOM: There are thousands of children missing who weren`t pretty little white girls who don`t get in the media. And that`s what that vigil was about. Little boys, for example who we rarely talked about, non-white children, who we rarely talk about; that`s what that vigil was about.

EIGLARSH: I agree, I`m not -- Lisa, I`m not...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s they`re involvement...

EIGLARSH: I`m not putting down the vigil. I think the vigil was wonderful. And Lisa, I agree with you 100 percent. I`m specifically saying that if you watched the Larry King interview, the second one...

BLOOM: That`s not what we`re talking about, we`re talking about the vigil.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lisa, listen you have to at least admit that a lot of these public appearances boomerang on them and don`t create more sympathy.

BLOOM: I`m talking -- you asked us about the vigil, I`m talking about the vigil. I think sometimes they can do something that`s worthy of praise. And this is one of those things.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, in a startling twist today...

EIGLARSH: Transparent.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Deputy Richard Cain resigned -- resigned from the Orange County sheriff`s office. The department wanted to terminate him for improperly investigating allegedly a tip that might have led to the remains of Caylee Anthony way back in August, three months before her remains were finally found at the same location. Cain was apparently caught in a lie about just what he did following up on meter reader Roy Kronk`s tips back then. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POLICE: But earlier you said it was a bag and you picked it up and leaves fell out of it.

RICHARD CAIN, DEPUTY SHERIFF, ORANGE COUNTY: Right.

POLICE: But that`s not the case.

CAIN: No. I mean, my perception may have been it was in a bag and I just picked it up, looking for the bag, but I didn`t -- I didn`t pick up a bag.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So some conflict there.

Mike Gaynor, why do you think he decided to just drop out and say I`m not fighting anymore for my job?

MIKE GAYNOR, EAST COAST DETECTIVE LTD., PRESIDENT: Well, he probably found out that the odds are going to be against him and he would be better off resigning than to be terminated. He might still have a future in law enforcement elsewhere but with this department he screwed up and that`s that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. That`s very specific. Very good. Well said.

EIGLARSH: That`s the reason. That`s it. You give up when you know you`re going to lose. That`s it. He lied.

GAYNOR: You lawyers know that best, don`t you?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, guess what, we have nothing to argue about for once.

But just for a second, I`m sure we`ll be arguing again momentarily. Mike, Lisa, thank you so much for joining us.

BLOOM: Thank you.

GAYNOR: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news, amazing news in the story of lost and now found California boy Briant Rodriguez, a.k.a. the miracle in Mexico.

Just moments ago, cops announced the identities of two suspects, and a third person of interest in little Briant`s abduction. They say these men, Israel Ledesma Moreno and Liberato Vega are the primary suspects in Briant`s kidnapping. And Vega`s girlfriend, Claudia Acosta-Serrano, is a person of interest. Cops believe the threesome fled to Mexico and they are in hot pursuit.

Luckily the precious child who has been missing for nearly two weeks was found wandering -- literally wandering the streets of Mexicali, Mexico last week and reunited with his mom, who must be so on cloud nine this weekend.

Briant appeared to be in good shape physically, but he did suffer through a pretty severe hair cut apparently, at the hands of kidnappers. Briant`s long, curly brown locks were completely cut off, probably, to try to give him a different look.

But that didn`t stop the little guy from high-fiving just about everybody when he finally returned to the United States. He was so happy. There you go. High five, buddy. An endearing moment, even the cops got choked up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROD HOOPS, SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, SHERIFF: They came across the border and we watched the mother and the son reunited. And he said that the last thing he saw was Briant clutching his mother`s neck. And that kind of says it all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ah. I love it when the cops get choked up. All too often these cases end very differently. This kid beat the tragic statistics. He beat the odds. But now the cops have named the suspects who are on the run. Just how will they find them?

Straight to my expert panel: back with me, Mark Eiglarsh, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor and Dr. Gail Saltz, clinical psychiatrist. Erin Runnion, founder of The Joyful Child Foundation; and by phone, Stacia Glenn, crime reporter for "San Bernardino Sun." Stacia, what is the very latest?

STACIA GLENN, CRIME REPORTER, SAN BERNARDINO SUN (via telephone): Well, there is a press conference this afternoon where they released the identity of the two suspects and the girlfriend of one of them who they`re calling a person of interest.

Investigators are saying that there`s a 50/50 chance that they`re actually hiding out in Mexico, which is where they`re both born. Apparently the suspected kidnappers, even though they had addresses here in San Bernardino County were living here illegally. And have both been deported at least once before.

The investigators are saying that they`re going to keep looking for these guys now that Briant is back. They can focus their full attention on finding justice.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Erin Runnion, you are one of my heroes. You have done so much for missing children. Your own child was taken horrifically in a brutal murder, and I know you still feel that pain every day.

But does this give you a sense of joy when you see this little boy, so adorable, high-fiving, back home safe with his mom after this horrific ordeal?

ERIN RUNNION, THE JOYFUL CHILD FOUNDATION: Tears of joy. I couldn`t have been happier, so excited. You know, everything about this case was sort of atypical. But we were all -- we were all waiting on baited breath to have him home. So we`re very happy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Does it temper your sadness in any way, shape or form when you see a happy ending like this? Does it help you psychologically?

RUNNION: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. And I think for all of the parents of children who are still missing -- there are thousands of them out there -- I think it gives them all hope, absolutely. Every recovered child is a huge victory for the whole sad club of parents of children who have been taken.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I`ve got to say, for me, too, as a reporter, when I heard he was found alive, I just jumped out of my chair. I was so happy, because it gets depressing.

RUNNION: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Really covering these tragedies.

Now, there`s so much breaking news in this case. We`re going to dissect these new suspects. Stay right there.

Baffling news, by the way, in the MySpace suicide trial: sentencing day for Lori Drew, the mother accused of driving a teen to suicide has been postponed.

And, of course, more on stunning developments in the Briant Rodriguez kidnapping case. The boy is home safe and sound. Authorities say they have new suspects. We`ve got some incredible new details about these suspects. We`ve got the lowdown.

And give me a call, what do you think, 1-877-JVM-SAYS. Sound off to me on this case. 1-877-586-7297, I want to hear your opinion.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: More breaking news in the Briant Rodriguez case in just a moment.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.

A shocking twist in the tragic suicide of 13-year-old Missouri girl Megan Meier: Lori Drew, a neighborhood mom was supposed to be sentenced today for her role in the cyber-bullying of Megan, minutes before she took her own life.

A judge today, postponed the sentencing until July. Why? Drew, reportedly with the help of her business assistant and daughter created a fake MySpace account pretending to be a new guy in town. They then exchange flirty messages with Megan only to dump her later saying, "the world would be a better place without you." Megan`s mom then found her daughter hanging in a closet 20 minutes later.

Both Megan`s parents want 50-year-old Drew to be held responsible for their daughter`s death. Megan`s parents say Drew knew that the teenager suffered from depression and should have faced more serious charges.

Just a dreadful, horrible story. We will stay on top of it, all the way through sentencing and beyond.

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

END

Home  |  Asia  |  Europe  |  U.S.  |  World  |  World Business  |  Technology  |  Entertainment  |  World Sport  |  Travel
Podcasts  |  Blogs  |  CNN Mobile  |  RSS Feeds  |  Email Alerts  |  CNN Radio  |  Site Map
© 2009 Cable News Network. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.