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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Ron Cummings Tells Anthonys to Stay Away
Aired May 20, 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 truly bizarre turn of events in the Haleigh Cummings disappearance. The missing girl`s dad, Ron, puts his foot down, releasing a statement through his lawyers telling George and Cindy Anthony to butt out of the search for little Haleigh. Ron accuses of the Anthonys of having their own agenda and stresses there are no similarities between these two cases.
But is this a case of doth protest too much? Wouldn`t Ron want all the help he can get?
Then a stunning turn of events in the case against accused killer Drew Peterson. The whole nation has been waiting on pins and needles to see what a grand jury will do about the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacey. Well, they`ve wrapped up the investigation. But at this point no sign of an indictment. Was there a lack of evidence? Or could the other shoe still drop? This as Peterson prepares to go to court tomorrow to try and reduce his $20 million bail for the murder of wife No. 3.
And disgraced NFL star Michael Vick released from prison today after serving 19 months for his role in a dog-fighting ring. Vick set to work with the Humane Society. Has he learned his lesson, or is he just trying to butter up the public so he can get back into the NFL?
Plus, a nationwide manhunt under way for a cancer-stricken boy and his mom. Citing religious beliefs, the family refused chemo that could save the boy`s life. Where do we draw the line when it comes to a parent`s right to decide their child`s fate?
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A shocking development just in, in a very disturbing case out of Birmingham, Alabama. The video you are about to see, very graphic. Five -- count them -- five Birmingham police officers have been fired after beating a seemingly already unconscious suspect after he flew out of a vehicle -- You just saw that there -- during a high-speed chase. There it is. There is the controversial beating. We`re going to analyze it. We`re going to slow mo it for you.
Details in a moment, including what the suspect did that might have provoked this violent reaction from the cops. We`ll show you that, as well.
But first, the clash of two worlds as a battle, and I mean a battle, erupts over twin tragedies in Florida. Ron Cummings, the father of missing 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings, tells George and Cindy Anthony, the grandparents of murdered 2-year-old Caylee, "I don`t want your help."
Through his attorneys, Cummings lashed out at the Anthonys after they spent Sunday with his ex and frequent opponent, Crystal Sheffield who is missing Haleigh`s mom. Are you keeping track of all this? The Anthonys and Haleigh`s mom rallied together for all missing children.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE ANTHONY, GRANDFATHER OF CAYLEE: Helping with someone missing is the most gut-wrenching, sick, open-wound feeling that you could ever, ever have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: When Haleigh first went missing three months ago, Ron and his then girlfriend, now wife, Misty Croslin accepted help and comfort from George Anthony. But Ron doesn`t want it now, because according to his statement, the Anthonys have their, quote, "own agenda" citing the Anthonys` recent media tour. George and Cindy have been making the TV rounds -- we all know that -- ever since their explosive depositions last month.
But are they really missing persons advocates when their granddaughter`s case is actually a murder case with no proven link to an actual abduction?
Ron trying to distance himself and his daughter`s disappearance from the tragic case of little Caylee Anthony, who was allegedly killed by her own mom. The question is, why is Ron so opposed to having the cases compared? Insisting there are no similarities.
Let`s take that question right out to my fantastic expert panel: Dr. Dale Archer, clinical psychiatrist; Art Harris, investigative journalist; Lisa Bloom, an anchor on the legal network In Session; CNN analyst and judge Karen Mills-Francis, host of "The Judge Karen Show"; along with Kim Picazio, the attorney for Haleigh`s mom, Crystal Sheffield.
Judge Karen, we get to start with you, because you are in Florida closely tracking these two cases. Why do you think Ron has taken such a dramatic stance and appears so very afraid of having people compare these two tragedies? One where his child is missing, and the other where a child is dead and her own mom is accused of killing her.
KAREN MILLS-FRANCIS, HOST, "THE JUDGE KAREN SHOW": Well, you know what? There could be several reasons for this. But, you know, we`re talking about a man who married his 17-year-old girlfriend, the person with whom this child was seen last, within 30 days after this child is reported missing.
I believe the reason why he doesn`t want the Anthonys` help is because he`s afraid of analogies being made between what happened in their case and what`s happened in his case.
Also, there`s 2,300 kids that go missing every day. We tend to forget about so many children. Maybe he`s hoping we`ll forget about it. And if the Anthonys are involved, then you can best believe the press is going to be behind him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the war of words accelerated after Haleigh`s mom, Crystal Sheffield, joined forces with Cindy and George Anthony this past weekend at a rally for missing kids. Listen to what Crystal said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRYSTAL SHEFFIELD, MOTHER OF HALEIGH: Whoever has her, I know you`re watching. Please just bring her home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Crystal reportedly owes Ron Cummings $4,000 in child support, and there has been an ongoing custody battle regarding Ron Jr., missing Haleigh`s little brother. So my question to you, Lisa Bloom, do you think Ron is lashing out against the Anthonys` involvement just because he has a feud with Crystal, and Crystal has aligned herself with Cindy and George?
LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, IN SESSION: Well, you know, that`s a lot of sophisticated thinking to impute to him. I think he probably feels that this relentless media drum beat against George and Cindy Anthony, which I think is terribly unfair to them, may have something to it.
I mean, look, they`re not defendants. They are not suspects. Yet, they go to a vigil, and everybody screams and yells about them having some kind of a hidden agenda. These people cannot breathe or take a drink of water without everybody in the media attacking them. And so I`m sure he does not want to be associated with them, because he doesn`t want his family to become suspects in Haleigh`s disappearance.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I think you just hit the nail on the head. He doesn`t want to become a suspect, and he is not a suspect. And he doesn`t want more fingers being pointed at Misty, who was the last person to see little Haleigh before she vanished, the person on whose watch the little child vanished. And they have since gotten married.
Kim Picazio, put all this in perspective for us. You are the attorney for Crystal Sheffield. There is a feud between Crystal and Ron. Is that why Ron is so upset with the Anthonys coming, being a part of this rally with Crystal?
KIM PICAZIO, ATTORNEY FOR CRYSTAL SHEFFIELD: Well, I guess it is. And I can`t knock his attorneys for attempting to raise his public image, which has been very damaged lately with all of the allegations that have come out and the witnesses that have come out on the media, to make statements against him.
And I`m sure that he`s trying to distance himself away from a family whose daughter has actually been charged with murder. And I`m -- not to say that I`m accusing him of murdering Haleigh, because Haleigh is not found.
But you know, you can read between the lines. Ron always only comes out in defense of himself. He was not at that vigil. It`s my understanding his mother has stated to some of the media that she would have been there, had she known about it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, listen, Kim, let me ask you this. I read a report that claimed that that vigil was organized by the former spokesperson for Cindy and George Anthony. In other words, it`s not totally up front what`s going on there.
PICAZIO: Well, we went to the vigil. Actually, my client did. I was going to go, but I had a sick child at home. So my client went with her mother to show support. It`s a National Coalition for Missing Children.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Was it organized with Cindy and George?
PICAZIO: No, absolutely not. We had no idea that they were going to be there. And it wouldn`t have mattered. My client would have still attended. We were grateful that the Anthonys were there to show support. They`ve got two losses on their hands: their daughter and their granddaughter. So I think that it was only appropriate that they try to show the community and the world that they want to show support.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s a slight problem with that theory, OK? And whoever`s laughing, feel free to jump in.
DR. DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I`ve got to say I totally disagree with this. I think this is probably the best judgment Ron Cummings has shown throughout this entire ordeal. I think having the Anthonys involved in looking for your lost toddler is like having Michael Vick run your local Humane Society. I think it just doesn`t make any sense.
BLOOM: That`s really -- that`s really unfair to people who have never been charged, who are not suspects. That`s really unfair to people who have lost a grandchild.
ARCHER: But the reason I`m making the comparison is because of the fact your motives will be suspect no matter what you do. They don`t need the distraction in this case, just like if Michael Vick were to get involved. People would question his motives.
BLOOM: Vick is a convicted felon. That`s a big difference.
ARCHER: It`s a media circus no matter what.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me -- let me bring in this angle. George and Cindy Anthony, as you know, spoke at the rally for missing children. So first, let`s listen to what Cindy herself said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY ANTHONY, GRANDMOTHER OF CAYLEE: Do not give up hope. Do not give up hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, George and Cindy are out there advocating for missing children. But according to prosecutors, Caylee was never a missing persons case. She was a murder victim, allegedly at the hands of her mother, who is the daughter of Cindy and George.
You know, the Anthonys have actually been accused, Lisa Bloom, of hurting the efforts of missing children`s organizations by blending what cops say is a murder case with missing children`s cases. And some of the groups have said, "We don`t want your participation." This isn`t the first time.
BLOOM: They can say that if they want. But I`m just shocked at the lack of empathy for these two people who have lost a granddaughter, have not done anything wrong, have completely cooperated with law enforcement from the very beginning. George Anthony testified at the grand jury...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we`ve got -- we`ve got outtakes on that, too. Let me bring in Art Harris. Put this in perspective.
ART HARRIS, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Jane, if you look at the car, or the truck that Ron Cummings drives, you`ll see on the windshield, he says -- it says, "Only God can judge me."
He doesn`t want to be judged any more than he`s already been. He`s been slammed. And here you have parents of an alleged mom, tot killer as she`s called.
And he is married to, as you pointed out, the last woman who saw Haleigh. And so, you know, he doesn`t want the blending of analogies and doesn`t want to be judged any more than he`s already has been, especially not as the parents of Caylee Anthony.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Fantastic panel. Sit tight; more analysis on the way.
Do you think George and Cindy should help search for missing Haleigh Cummings? Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. Let me know.
Then five cops fired after a beating that you will not believe. But you will see it. It`s all about this car chase. We will show you the shocking video, the shocking aftermath. We warn you; it`s graphic.
But first, Ron Cummings wants Casey Anthony`s parents to butt out: "Leave us alone. We don`t want your help for the search of our missing daughter." The cases, it seems, so intertwined in everyone`s mind. Even George mixed them up at a rally earlier this year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
G. ANTHONY: I`m here in support of them. I`m here to bring Caylee home. Haleigh Marie Cummings -- no, no, Haleigh, I`m sorry, I apologize for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: Please, please keep looking. Keep calling in tips. Whatever you think, call it in. It doesn`t matter, just keep looking. Thanks for everything you`ve done.
And Haleigh, if you`re watching, baby, I love you, and we`re still looking for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ron Cummings making yet another desperate plea for any tips leading to his young daughter`s safe return. But he doesn`t want any help from George and Cindy Anthony, the grandparents of slain toddler Caylee Anthony.
What do you think his problem with the Anthonys is all about? Give me a holler. The phone lines lighting up. Shannon in Alabama, your question or thoughts.
CALLER: Yes, thanks for taking my call. You know, I don`t blame Ronald for not wanting Cindy and George to help. The focus the whole time should have been the search for Haleigh. And I believe that the custody battle and the alleged child abuse, it just destroyed the whole search. And I think George and Cindy have been covering up what Casey did. So, you know, I don`t blame the man for not wanting their help.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Art Harris, you`re on the ground, monitoring this situation, trying to find little Haleigh, using all your investigative skills. Has this been a distraction from finding Haleigh?
HARRIS: Well, a blip on the radar right now. And anything is a distraction, because there`s not a lot breaking, Jane. And as far as the Anthonys, they support their daughter, whether she turns out to be convicted or not of killing their granddaughter.
Right now, it`s unclear if Ronald would support Misty if she turns out to be in any way implicated. He has said...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: He married her, even though the child went missing on her watch. Something nobody can really get -- a lot of people can`t get their head around that, Dr. Dale Archer.
ARCHER: Absolutely. I totally agree with that, Jane. And I think that, again, the big issue here is that the focus needs to be finding little girl. And I think unfortunately the Anthonys are such a lightning rod, if they get involved in this, it`s going to be a distraction no matter what. People will question their motives, and it`s going to be a problem. They need to stay out. And they`ve got a daughter on trial for murder, and possibly for her life.
MILLS-FRANCIS: The reality is -- the reality is that there have been no new leads in Haleigh`s case. And if it were my child, I don`t care if it`s negative publicity or positive publicity, the fact that this little girl`s face is back on TV again, there`s a vigil being held for her, it only helps in the search for her. If you care about finding her, you take help from wherever help comes, if it`s getting your child back in the news cycle.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I agree with you, Judge Karen. I think that it does -- look, we`re looking at her face right now because of this controversy. But in a way, he`s also spawning the controversy by saying he wants no part of it. He knows we`re going to cover that, too.
BLOOM: Jane, look, we keep saying that this child was with Misty when she went missing and how could he marry her. I mean, Misty is not a defendant. She`s not a suspect. She`s not been charged.
MILLS-FRANCIS: It`s not the fact that she`s not charged. Of course she`s innocent.
BLOOM: Look, if I may finish my thought. We`re spending a lot of time casting aspersions on people who are not charged.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree, they`re not charged and we don`t want to cast dispersions. But Art Harris, what do several people say Misty was doing in the days leading up to this child`s disappearance?
HARRIS: Well, the woman who drove her around in the three days beforehand on a wild party, drug and sex binge with a young man named...
BLOOM: That doesn`t make her a killer of a little girl.
HARRIS: But she leads up to a babysitter who was certainly not in her right mind, Lisa. And...
MILLS-FRANCIS: The law enforcement has said it`s impeded the investigation.
BLOOM: You know, and I...
HARRIS: A babysitter like that in that condition...
BLOOM: Well, there`s a big jump to calling her a killer.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re not calling her a killer.
BLOOM: Oh, please. How could he marry her? How could he marry her? How could anybody in his right mind marry her?
MILLS-FRANCIS: How could he marry her 30 days after the child is missing?
ARCHER: That`s the point.
BLOOM: Not knowing what happened to the child. And...
MILLS-FRANCIS: The ceremony couldn`t have waited 30 days?
BLOOM: These are real people -- these are real people, folks, who have flaws just like we do. And some people on this panel have probably had alcohol or drug problems.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m a recovering alcoholic for 14 years of sobriety.
BLOOM: Then don`t question how is it that somebody could love her and want to marry her.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: People have said there are inconsistencies in her story.
BLOOM: Well, so what? She`s not a suspect.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to...
HARRIS: The key link, she`s the key piece. Investigators tell me they`re looking at her.
BLOOM: And she is a victim right now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.
HARRIS: She said she would never hurt a child.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t have a gavel. I have a mirror. Hold on. Judge, can I borrow your gavel, Judge Mills?
OK, Katherine in Virginia, your question or thought.
CALLER: Yes, I have a comment. You know, I have not been a fan of George and Cindy Anthony. You know, with their daughter and everything. But what I don`t understand is, if they are going to help, you know, this situation, and they want healing from this situation, what is the big ordeal? They want to help these people. So why Ron is making a big ordeal about it, I don`t understand. If it was me, I would let anybody help me that could help me to find my child.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s exactly what Judge Karen said.
Art Harris, here`s what I don`t understand about this case. There is no way that authorities can find out why she has, Misty has these inconsistencies? In other words, there`s no charges whatsoever that they can level, vis-a-vis her alleged drug use? Anything?
HARRIS: There has been talk of that. And the question is, would that be a case worth prosecuting and worth trying to make stick?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And by the way, Misty, you`re invited on. We want to hear your side of the story. We`re not trying to accuse you of anything. We just want answers. There`s a missing child.
Thank you, excellent panel.
Disgraced football star Michael Vick out of prison for his role in a dog-fighting ring. Should he stay out of the NFL, too?
Five cops get the ax for viciously beating an already unconscious suspect. I`ll tell you about it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: In the "Spotlight" tonight. Disgraced NFL star Michael Vick released from prison today after serving 19 months for his role in a dog-fighting ring. Vick reportedly wants to return to the NFL, but that is setting off a wild controversy. Some say his desire to change is genuine. Others say he should never return to the NFL.
We do know Vick did not just mistreat a few dogs. He actually financed a massive criminal enterprise. Sixty-seven abused dogs seized, and other dogs were slammed to the floor, hanged, drowned and electrocuted.
Now, Vick says he wants to work with the Humane Society of the United States to eradicate dog fighting among urban teens. So, has Vick seen the light or is he just taking a stepping stone in the hopes of returning to the NFL?
Joining me, my dear friend, Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.
Wayne, you and I go way back. And we usually agree on a lot of issues. I have a few questions for you. Why do you want to work with Michael Vick when...
WAYNE PACELLE, PRESIDENT/CEO, HUMANE SOCIETY: Easy on me, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I always am. But when he`s admitted to personally participating in the killing of some of these dogs?
PACELLE: Well, listen, Jane, you are 1,000 percent right. What he did was vile and repugnant, and you and the Humane Society of the United States were really leading the choir, condemning his behavior. We helped write the federal laws under which he was prosecuted. We urged Nike to drop him, the NFL to drop him, and the Falcons. So we were no friend to Michael Vick.
Now he`s served his time, and he says he wants to contribute to the solution. He doesn`t want to be part of the problem. We have urban-based programs to reach at-risk youth in Chicago, and L.A., and Atlanta. We think he might be good.
But we don`t want to vouch for his character at this point. We want to give him the chance to do the right thing. But if he fails, it`s shame on him, not shame on the Humane Society.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We have another animal organization weighing in. PETA has called on the NFL commissioner to think hard before reinstating Vick to the NFL.
Quote, "Until Michael Vick undergoes the rigorous psychiatric tests now available to determine his ability to experience remorse, there`s no way to establish whether he will reoffend and does not deserve to be rewarded with a multimillion-dollar contract."
To me, Wayne, these are two separate issues. One is working with the Humane Society, and the other one is returning to the NFL. My concern is, if Vick wants redemption, working with the Humane Society should not be linked to going back to the NFL. To me those are two separate issues.
PACELLE: Well, we have not urged the NFL to -- to reinstate him. We believe that Michael has to demonstrate on the ground that he`s really willing to commit to turning around young kids on the issue of dog fighting, steering them away from this horrible, vile activity and moving into a more productive arena.
Urban dog fighting is an epidemic. We`ve been struggling to fight it and combat it. And maybe someone like Vick can help. If he does, and if he shows remorse, and if he really shows on the ground that he`s helping combat the problem, then we should, I think, keep an open mind. But we`re not prepared to make any recommendation at this point.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I also feel that there has to be some therapy involved. Because you`re talking about sadistic killing of dogs. You have to find out where that comes from. And really, the work has to be on the inside, dealing with whatever caused those violent urges and how you`re going to change.
In other words, before you can change on the outside and tell other kids to change, you`ve got to do your work on the inside. And do the change first.
PACELLE: I think that`s a great point. I think that we know that animal cruelty just doesn`t happen out of thin air. There are deep-seated problems.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wayne, I want to thank you so much.
PACELLE: Thank you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Five cops fired after giving a brutal beat-down to an already unconscious victim. We`ll show you the shocking tape next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A stunning turn of events in the case against accused killer Drew Peterson. The whole nation has been waiting on pins and needles to see what a grand jury will do about the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacey. Well, they`ve wrapped up the investigation. But at this point no sign of an indictment.
Plus, a nationwide man hunt for a cancer stricken 13-year-old and his mother: citing religious beliefs the family has refused chemo that could save the boy`s life. Where do we draw the line when it comes to a parent`s right to decide their child`s fate?
I will have more of that shocking and graphic police video coming up in just a moment. Five Birmingham police officers fired after beating a seemingly already unconscious suspect. You will not believe your eyes.
But first, a stunner -- and I mean a stunner -- in the Drew Peterson case. The grand jury investigating the death and disappearance of his last two wives, packs it in without indicting Drew in the case of missing and presumed dead wife number four, Stacey Peterson.
Peterson is facing two counts of murder in the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio and now it looks like the grand jury has called it a day, ending two days ahead of schedule. And there is no sign that he will be charged with killing wife number four. But officials say the investigation into Stacey`s disappearance is still on.
Meantime, Peterson is back in court tomorrow to argue for a bail reduction in the allege murder of wife number three, Kathleen Savio. Right now, it stands at a whopping $20 million. Drew`s defense team says he`s not a flight risk. Oh, really?
They want bail reduced to $50,000 max. Take a look at how they trash the state`s case in a motion filed with the court, quote, "The amount of bail is excessive and oppressive. The case against the defendant is weak and circumstantial at best."
Oh, really? So does all this now mean a double dose of disappointment for the families of Kathleen and Stacey?
Straight to my amazing panel: Paul Callan, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; Darren Kavinoky, criminal defense attorney; and still here, Lisa Bloom, anchor on the Legal Network "In Session" and CNN legal analyst.
Lisa, we`ve been tracking this together. It appears the grand jury has gone home without indicting Drew Peterson in the disappearance and presumed death of wife number four, Stacey. Why do you think that was the outcome when they heard testimony on the matter?
LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": Well, they`re not done, Jane. This grand jury`s turn has timed out, has expired and they have not issued an indictment. But we don`t know some critical evidence.
Number one, did the prosecutor ask for an indictment? I mean, that`s the critical thing. Everyone always says a prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich. And it`s basically true. They can usually get an indictment from the grand jury if they want one.
The grand jury did not return a no-bill, which means that he would be exonerated, not charged for Stacey`s disappearance. So a special grand jury could still be convened. The regular grand jury could be presented with the evidence that they have regarding Stacy.
But my suspicion is the prosecutor just has not asked for an indictment yet. But the state attorney says they are continuing to investigate and they`re not giving up on this.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The grand jury had been in session, as you just heard, 18 months. The last person to testify, this is fascinating, was Drew Peterson`s stepbrother, Thomas Morphey and he was called just last week.
Now, listen to what he had to say on ABC`s "Good Morning America" back in March as he alleged that he helped Drew carry a large blue bin that was warm to the touch from Peterson`s home into his vehicle around the time Stacy disappeared and after allegedly discussing and having talked about killing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS MORPHEY, DREW PETERSON`S STEPBROTHER: I said to him, well, isn`t it going to smell? What about the smell? And he said it would be in a sealed container. I knew it wasn`t good. He was planning on killing somebody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So Paul Callan, why has this critical witness, start testifying to the grand jury, and then they wrap up and they go home? So close end of the term? I mean, won`t the state have to start all over with him and then bring him in again?
PAUL CALLAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, it`s very, very strange, Jane, for a prosecutor to do this. Usually you have your case ready to go. You can make out the charges, and then you present all of the evidence.
It`s obvious to me they that they don`t have a case against him. And what they were trying to do was to use the grand jury as an investigative tool, hoping they would develop a case against him. They obviously failed. But there`s no statute of limitations on murder, so they can reopen the case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And can I say something, how can you say they don`t have a case against him?
Darren Kavinoky, when you`ve got this guy saying, that he`s claiming and he`s a relative by marriage, that he moved a barrel that was warm to the touch around the time Stacy disappeared, and all sorts of other things. All sorts of claims that they discussed killing, that they went to a storage facility.
DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes, well, on the face of it, those are certainly not helpful facts for the defense. That much is obvious.
But the prosecution is certainly going to get another bite at the apple. And there will be an opportunity for a grand jury to ultimately return that true bill. And I align myself with Lisa on this. My experience with grand juries is that they would be willing to indict a ham sandwich if the prosecutor asked them to do so.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Does it have to be a ham sandwich?
BLOOM: Yes, it`s health food sandwich Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, come on.
KAVINOKY: It could be a vegetarian sandwich, absolutely.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I veggie my sandwich. We`ve got three vegetarians here. Darren, Lisa Bloom and me, and we`re talking about ham sandwich here. All right, go ahead.
KAVINOKY: Well, I was just going to say, Jane, there`s no question that being married to Drew Peterson is like being the drummer for the rock band "Spinal Tap." It doesn`t usually end it very well. But you still have to have enough evidence to convince the grand jury. And in this case, that`s usually not very much. So they ultimately -- an indictment is coming down.
BLOOM: And there`s another reason Jane, there`s another reason why the prosecutors may want to wait, and that is that Stacy`s body has never been found. Once he`s indicted, then time limits start expiring, then they`ve got to bring a case and they`ve got to get a conviction.
If they don`t get a conviction and he`s acquitted, they can never try him again, even if they find her body.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Paul Callan, I don`t understand the grand jury system. The first time I really got face-to-face with it was when I started to find the grand jury in the Michael Jackson case. And boy, was that a wild, wild chase. And we eventually found it. But it was secret, it was hidden. And it was -- it was like literally a detective story. Why all the secrecy surrounding this grand juries?
CALLAN: Well, you know it`s very interesting, except for prosecutors, and occasional witnesses who appear before the grand jury, you`re right, nobody ever gets to see it. It`s 23 people sitting in a secret place and they hear only the evidence that the prosecutor decides to present.
The reason it`s kept secret is because it takes place early in the proceedings in a criminal case. It`s an investigative tool to help prosecutors develop evidence. And they`re really afraid that witnesses would get spooked early on...
CALLAN: ...if their names were revealed. So it`s secret.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Paul, thank you so much. Lisa, thank you as well.
And now, to shocking video that is so graphic, I want to warn you, before we roll it. These dramatic, disturbing images caught on tape by a video camera mounted on the dash board of a Birmingham, Alabama patrol car.
The video, taken in January 2008, shows police in pursuit of a suspect and a stunning rollover that ejects the driver from the vehicle. But the most shocking part comes as cops, you see them right there, appear to descend on the unconscious suspect and begin beating him with their fists, and even a billy club.
Investigators say the suspect didn`t even know that he had been beaten. Meantime, the five police officers responsible for this alleged brutality, they have been fired.
Out to the lawyers: Rebecca Rose Woodland, criminal defense attorney; and Darren Kavinoky, a.k.a., "The voice of reasons."
Darren, take a look at this next piece of video, from earlier on in the pursuit. Watch as the suspect clips, take a look, clips -- where is it -- two seconds. Coming up, coming at what boom! Look at that; knocks down the police officer who was trying to lay out spike strips on the roadway.
And certainly that does not excuse the behavior of officers. But it could explain their motivation. You know, we call you "Mr. Voice of Reason." So what do you say?
KAVINOKY: Well, it definitely explains their motivation. And certainly law enforcement officers are challenged with keeping their cool in some very difficult situations.
However, these guys are lucky they`re not being arrested for felony stupid. They violated -- that basic premise, that what we`re doing in society is relying upon them to exercise better judgment.
And this guy, when he rolled out of the car, was obviously unconscious. It`s inexcusable to go in and beat them in the manner that they did. They`re lucky if they just get fired and there aren`t criminal charges brought and the city of Birmingham better get ready to stroke some big checks.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes and I -- and hopefully we can look at this in slow mo as well as we discuss this. The police chief said the officers were seasoned veterans, but acted in a shameful manner. Adding, the department quote, "terminated 50 years of combined service due to ten seconds of injustice."
So it sounds like he`s a little conflicted. But Rebecca Rose Woodland, is that really a fair argument given that it only takes a second to fire a gun and kill someone. That doesn`t mean you don`t get charged.
REBECCA ROSE WOODLAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right, I mean, it`s the same for police officers as it would be for anyone else. And in this case, they`re there to protect the law. But they are not there to hurt people.
So I agree with Darren, not only might they face criminal charges; they may face a civil lawsuit by the victim here. I mean, for police brutality and for injustice.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, guess what, that victim, that victim -- has been charged with attempted murder for clipping the officer as we saw on the videotape when he was laying down the spike strips.
ROSE WOODLAND: That may be true. But he may also file attempted -- file a civil lawsuit against Birmingham, the city, and keeping the police officers on, if there`s any evidence or any history in their police records of prior brutality, these things all come into play in a civil lawsuit.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Darren, here`s what I don`t understand. Don`t they know the cameras are rolling? I mean, how many episodes of "Cops" do you need to see to know that eventually this video is going to come out?
KAVINOKY: Yes, and that`s why I say felony stupid. There`s no question that the driver of the car is righteously going to face charges for attempted murder. But it`s the police who are sworn to uphold that law, not violate it. And it`s just no excuse for them to then act out against this guy.
So it just comes down to that old childhood phrase of two wrongs don`t make a right. This one`s really, really simple.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, "Voice of Reason," will be the last word on that one. Thank you, fantastic panel for great insights.
Accused Craigslist killer Philip Markoff, due back in court tomorrow, I will have a preview.
And a mom on the run with her cancer stricken son after refusing chemotherapy that could save the boy`s life. And we`re going to show you that video in just a second. There is the child. Should he be -- should the mom be charged with child endangerment? 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586- 7297; sound off.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A cancer stricken boy and his mom flee after they refuse treatment that doctors say could save the boy`s life. I will have the very latest developments.
But first, "Top of the Block."
Suspected Craigslist killer Philip Markoff prepares to face a judge. This 25-year-old med student will be hauled into court tomorrow in connection with a fatal shooting, allegedly, of Julissa Brisman and the armed robbery of another woman.
Cops say, both women advertised erotic services on Craigslist. The popular Web site has since banned erotic listing due to public outcry from this case.
When investigators search from Markoff`s apartment they say, they found a gun and plastic hand restraints. And they also found panties, which cops claim he kept as sick souvenirs of the crimes.
Markoff has pleaded not guilty and tomorrow on ISSUES we will have full coverage of his courtroom showdown.
That is tonight`s "Top of the Block."
An astonishing story tonight: a nationwide manhunt now under way for a 13-year-old cancer-stricken boy and his mom. The two fled their Minnesota home after refusing the court-ordered chemotherapy that doctors say could save the boy`s life.
Daniel Hauser was diagnosed with Hodgkin`s lymphoma in January and set for multiple rounds of chemo. After one treatment the parents declared the chemo torture. Instead they began treating Daniel with alternative medicines in line with their religious beliefs. The boy`s mom told the world, "Butt out."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLLEEN HAUSER, MOTHER OF DANIEL HAUSER: We`re a simple, honest family. We`re not out to harm anybody. We never -- this is just our way of life. And why people want to infringe on it, I don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Colleen Hauser, now wanted by cops after the pair missed a court hearing where it was revealed the child`s cancer is in fact getting worse. So are mom and dad signing his death warrant by refusing treatment that doctors say could save his life? Daniel`s dad says he just wants his family home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY HAUSER, FATHER OF DANIEL HAUSER: I`d like to tell them, you know, come back and be safe, and be a family again. That`s what I`d like to tell them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A judge has now ordered custody of the boy transferred to the Department of Family Services, assuming young Daniel is found. His dad now believes the pair may have left the country.
So the debate becomes, where do we draw the line when it comes to parental rights? Back with me: Dr. Dale Archer, clinical psychologist and we`re delighted to have joining us tonight, Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst.
Jeffrey, give us the analysis of this case, because it is rather complex but there`s very basic legal issues at the heart of it.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: There really are. And frankly, I don`t even think this case is all that complicated. It`s a tragedy. You have to feel nothing but sympathy for these parents to watch their son go through this.
But stop and think -- this is child abuse, period. This is a child who could be saved. This is a cancer with a 95 percent cure rate with chemotherapy pitch.
What Colleen is doing here is no different than if he got hit by a car and he left -- and she left him to bleed to death in the middle of the street and blocked the ambulance from getting to him. This cannot be allowed to happen.
The court system is doing exactly the right thing. The father appears now to be doing the right thing. The only question is, can they be found?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, Dr. Dale Archer, the mom has suggested, let us try the alternative first, and then if it doesn`t work we`ll try the chemo, which, of course, doesn`t make any sense because this is a race against time. Cancer, this type of cancer, worsens and it could be very, very aggressive. It can get to the point where even if he does get chemo, it won`t help him.
DALE ARCHER, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Absolutely. It makes no sense. Because as he said, there`s 95 percent cure rate with this cancer; without treatment there is a 5 percent cure rate. You`re talking about such a vast discrepancy that no reasonable person would possibly refuse treatment in this case.
And I think that you also have to factor in the fact that this is a mentally-challenged boy; he can`t read. And so I think the court is right in stepping in and saying, look, he is not competent to make this decision. And the parents are committing child abuse. So he absolutely has to be forced to get treatment.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jeffrey Toobin, the mom says he doesn`t want it, that that`s his decision. But does a 13-year-old have the intellectual capacity, the sophistication to make a decision about complicated medical matters. His own doctor says he doesn`t think he`s sick, even though he`s very, very ill.
TOOBIN: You know, this is why they call them children, because they are not adults. They are not allowed to make decisions on their own because they don`t have the intellectual capacity, the maturity, and frankly, I don`t even think it matters that he has some particular mental challenges himself. Any 13-year-old would not be qualified to make this decision.
Now, we draw lines in the law all the time and one of those lines is between an adult and a child. And if Colleen were ill, as an adult, and if she wanted to engage in this incredibly unwise medical course of treatment, she would have the right to do that because she`s an adult. That`s what we allow adults to do. But we don`t allow them to make those kind of decisions for children.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Such a hot-button issue.
The phone lines lighting up. Sharon in Florida, your question or thought, ma`am.
SHARON, FLORIDA (via telephone): Yes.
I don`t think she should be arrested. I think when they get him and her, they should take this kid to St. Jude children`s hospital as quickly as possible to do this treatment. And she and her husband, everybody, they need heavy-duty counseling and everything to realize what`s going on.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But they could face, Jeffrey, criminal charges. Couldn`t the mom?
TOOBIN: The mom definitely could. But I think in situations like this -- and these are actually not all that unusual -- often it has come up in connection with the Christian Science religion, with the Jehovah`s Witnesses religion. There have been similar cases.
TOOBIN: And the authorities who have some common sense, they don`t want to arrest anybody. They don`t want to be throwing people in jail. They want to get the child treatment. And if they can get him into treatment, I expect there won`t be any arrest.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. More on this wild case in just a moment. Stress or stubbornness or ignorance. We`ll be back with more in a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
C. HAUSER: It`s more of our religious freedom here. It`s our religious freedom and right to do this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Colleen Hauser saying this case is about her parental rights. She is now on the run with her son as a nationwide search continues.
And there is so much confusion about parental rights. There`s that old saying, freedom isn`t the right to shout fire in a crowded movie theater. And there are those who would say parental rights don`t give you the right to allow your son to die for lack of medical treatment.
The phone lines lighting up. Julie, Arizona, your question or thought.
JULIE, ARIZONA (via telephone): My thought is I`m a pancreatic cancer survivor with only a 5 percent chance.
JULIE: And as a mother I would not deny the treatments, so I could be alive for my son. And I can`t believe she`d deny the treatments with a 95 percent survival rate for her son.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What is it about cancer, Dr. Dale? My own father died of cancer and did refuse standard treatment. And I often think if I had been more forceful perhaps he would have gotten it in time. You don`t see it -- with a gunshot wound you see it. With cancer you don`t see it, so you can lie to yourself.
ARCHER: And not only that, I think that the treatments for cancer are so brutal and so devastating and you get so sick when you take them that many people opt not to go through that. And I think as an adult that`s fine.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got another Julie from Illinois. Julie from Illinois, your question.
JULIE, ILLINOIS (via telephone): I am -- I feel the same way as the last caller. My mother-in-law died of cancer without chemo, and I don`t think the DCFS should be involved in this child`s decision-making. He`s 13 years old; 13-year-olds get charged with murder. It`s his right to have dignity left in his life, whether it`s a 95 percent chance or a 5 percent chance.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Jeffrey, I`ll let you take that one.
TOOBIN: I couldn`t disagree more. This is a life and death matter where these are not closed questions. Five percent versus 95 percent chance is simply too big a spread to simply leave it to a 13-year-old who is, by law, not legally qualified to make these decisions. The state has to come in and make the decision for this family, unfortunately.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: If he dies, Jeffrey, could the mom be charged with something like murder or anything of that nature?
TOOBIN: In theory, it could be something like manslaughter because that would be sort of unintentional taking of a life. But I think that would be very unlikely. The pain of losing a son is so great that this -- I just can`t imagine most jurisdictions would want to make a case like that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s a sad case all the way around. We hope this boy is found and survives.
Thank you, fabulous panel. You`re watching ISSUES.