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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Kidnapping Hoax Perpetrator Under Investigation for Allegedly Stealing 300K; Rihanna Breaks Silence
Aired May 29, 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, HNL ANCHOR (voice-over): Tonight, a terrifying nightmare turns into an outrageous bogus scare. Bonnie Sweeten claims she was violently kidnapped with her daughters, sparking an Amber Alert and sending authorities on a frantic two-state manhunt. Sweeten was later discovered with her 9-year-old cavorting at Disney World. Now, new details pouring in suggests she may have fled because she was under investigation for allegedly stealing at least $300,000. We`ll analyze the bizarre details of this kidnapping hoax.
Then, a seismic development in the Chris Brown assault case. Rihanna will break her silence; the pop star set to testify against her equally famous ex in what`s sure to be a dramatic courtroom face-off in June.
Meanwhile, Brown`s high-profile attorney, Mark Geragos, tries to get his paws on police records, but a judge shoots him down.
And the fight to save Casey Anthony`s life heats up -- her defense team firing on all cylinders, but with the spotlight on new death penalty lawyer Andrea Lyon, does this mean Jose Baez has to take a backseat, and could this high-powered attorney be in it to promote her new book?
Plus, astounding new "Jon & Kate" drama. Ratings for their hit reality show have never been higher and neither has the tension. The estranged couple spent the holiday weekend apart. Jon spotted at a bar with two women while the kids spirited off with Kate to an island down south. Is this the beginning of the end?
ISSUES starts right now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking developments tonight in the incredibly bizarre case of Bonnie Sweeten. She is the 38-year-old Pennsylvania mom who repeatedly called 911 to say she and her 9-year-old daughter were violently abducted and thrown in the trunk of a kidnapper`s car. Then she turns up hours later sashaying around Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It is the small, small world after all.
At a hearing this morning, an emotional Sweeten waived her rights to fight extradition.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Preliminarily, what is it you wish to do? And you may consult with the attorney to your left as you wish.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She wishes to waive extradition, Your Honor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And go back voluntarily?
BONNIE SWEETEN, HOAXER: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She doesn`t look too happy there. Sweeten made her hoax calls to police on Tuesday claiming she and her daughter were stuffed into the trunk of a Cadillac by two black men. In actuality, she was plotting her escape, boarding a plane to Florida illegally using a co- worker`s driver`s license as a phony I.D., allegedly. But just what was she running from? Her ex-husband, who is the father of the 9-year-old daughter she brought with her, spoke to "Good Morning America."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY RAKOCZY, EX-HUSBAND OF BONNIE SWEETEN: I think she got herself in over her head a little bit, and I just think she just kind of lost it a little bit. I mean, you know, I`ve known this woman for, you know, a long time, and, you know, she`s always been very together and, you know, tons of friends, everybody loves her. I just think she had a, you know, just a bad time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, really? Now she faces charges of identity theft and filing a false report, but there are stunning new allegations that Sweeten may be a financial swindler, as well. Published reports allege cops believe she stole an incredible amount of money from her employers and family members.
CNN affiliate, WPVI, says investigators believe it may be as high as $1 million. One million dollars? Some of that money was allegedly taken from a charity for Burmese children. Can`t make this stuff up.
So, what made this seemingly normal soccer mom crack in such a big way? We`re going to break it down, straight out to my fantastic expert panel. Mark Eiglarsh, former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. Steve Kardian, a former criminal investigator. Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels -- right at you. Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor and author of "And Justice for Some." Dr. Reef Karim, psychiatrist.
Boy, do we need you today.
And by phone, Brad Segall, suburb bureau chief for KYW News Radio.
Joe (sic), I`m almost afraid to ask, what is the very latest with this kooky lady?
BRAD SEGALL, KYW NEWS RADIO: The very latest, Jane, is that she did waive her extradition in Florida. And that means she is headed back to the Philadelphia area, Bucks County, in particular, to face those two charges that you talked about, identity theft and also making false reports to police.
Now, she`ll make her first court appearance, here in Bucks County, at some point, and a judge will arraign her here, and then set bail. Now, keep in mind that these are two misdemeanor charges that she`s facing here in Bucks County. However, it`s expected that prosecutors will probably ask for some pretty significant bail at this first court appearance, given the fact that Bonnie Sweeten obviously is at risk to flee.
At this point we still don`t know whether those theft allegations are true, and if they are, and if she did steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from either the law firm she used to work for or the Carlitz Foundation, which is that nonprofit organization that you talked about that helps Burmese children and also raises money for autism research, the big question then, Jane, is where is that money and does she have access to that money.
So, you would think the prosecutors here, in Pennsylvania, would certainly want to keep Bonnie Sweeten behind bars as this case continues to move forward.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Curtis Sliwa, what I don`t understand is, she sent everybody on a wild goose chase, created all this drama, all this chaos. I mean, Amber Alerts and cops racing hither and yon trying to find her and her child. Terror, fear amongst people who love her and her family that something untoward happened to them. And she gets two misdemeanor charges?
CURTIS SLIWA, GUARDIAN ANGELS: Well, I anticipate there will be a lot more. That`s just the tip of the iceberg. But you`re right, fear, fright, then she freaks out and hypes this kidnapping that never occurred. I can`t tell you, Jane, how many times I`ve been down in Orange County in Orlando where Disney World is, you`d be surprised the number of felons and criminals on the run. The last thing they know before they go to the hoosegow for 20 years or more, they take their kids to Disney World where the whole world is watching them.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Wendy Murphy reminded me of that Super Bowl campaign where the MVP has just won the super bowl and they rush up to him with a mike and they go, you just won the Super Bowl. What are you going to do now? And they go: I`m going to Disney world. In this case it`s, you just pretended that you were kidnapped and stuffed in the trunk of a car. You`ve just allegedly stolen your driver`s license of a co-worker, and illegally boarded a plane, what are you going to do now when you should be hiding out from the world? I`m going to Disney World.
WENDY MURPHY, FMR PROSECUTOR: I tell you, maybe it will help her with an insanity defense ultimately, because it`s the wackiest thing to do in the aftermath of getting in trouble for the things she`s apparently going to be accused of. You know, I think that, frankly, running to Disney World was maybe a last hoorah for her. Strange as it might sound, I think she knew she was going to get this trouble and this was sort of a nice thing to do. It`s so incredibly crazy.
Here`s the thing, though, two misdemeanor charges, I agree with you, Jane, that just doesn`t seem enough. There may be larceny charges ahead, I don`t know. Here`s what I would like to see. I`ve enough of white people falsely accusing black people of crimes that didn`t happen. How about making that a felony. False report to a cop, OK, that`s a misdemeanor, but if you falsely accuse people and incite racism, make it a felony.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I absolutely agree. And this isn`t the first time. Bonnie Sweeten told police she was hit and stuffed into the trunk of a car by two black men. She made a point of saying that. We have seen this before when somebody makes up a story about a minority violently attacking them. Remember Susan Smith, the woman who killed her own kids by driving them into a lake? She claimed a black man took her children and her car.
Remember Ashley Todd, the McCain campaign volunteer, who claimed it was a black man who carved the letter "B" into her face? Look at that right there. Turns out she did this to herself.
Charles Stewart claimed a black man shot his pregnant wife in 1989. In all three of those cases, Mark Eiglarsh, these people were lying and actually themselves were responsible for these acts. To me, this is villainous and it`s malicious, because it could very likely result in the arrest of a totally innocent person.
MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTY: I agree. And it`s weird that I find myself agreeing with Wendy so much lately. But -- am I going to the right? I don`t know.
MURPHY: You`re getting smart.
EIGLARSH: Well, I don`t know.
MURPHY: No, you`re getting smarter by the minute. I love it.
EIGLARSH: Well, let me just say this. What bothers me equally as much is that what she put her husband through, and what she`s going to put every future parent who potentially loses a child for at least a time being, because then devoted resources will be, well, maybe the child isn`t really gone, maybe one of the parents has it. And they`re going to spend all this time focusing on an area that they necessarily shouldn`t. That bothers me, as well.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, get this, this is the really wacky factor. Sweeten`s current husband had a possible explanation for her extraordinarily bizarre and seemingly uncharacteristic behavior. Listen to what he told "Good Morning America."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY SWEETEN, BONNIE SWEETEN`S HUSBAND: I know when you do in vitro, you take hormone shots. I know it messes with her extremely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, so she has an 8-month-old child with her current husband.
EIGLARSH: Causes you to steal -- yeah, causes you to steal thousands of dollars. It causes you to make phony police reports. I`m not going to throw that defense out I court.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Dr. Reef Karim, you`re the psychiatrist. We`ve had the Twinkie defense, Casey Anthony might end up using the ugly coping defense, now we have the messed-up hormones defense.
EIGLARSH: Oh, no.
DR REEF KARIM, PSYCHIATRIST: Yeah, I don`t see the messed-up hormone defense as really going too far on this. It`s -- you know, when we`re profiling someone from a forensic psychology standpoint, we look for intent, we look for motivation towards the behavior, we look for secondary gain. We look for the mental status at the time of the crime, or the event. And in this case, it`s very well pre-determined, it`s very well planned.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What are you saying?
KARIM: What I`m saying is, you could look at -- somebody mentioned the insanity defense, because she went to Disneyland, but the reality is she got somebody else`s I.D., she planned, supposedly she planned taking money from different accounts.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. She`s calculating. I hear you.
KARIM: This is very calculated and very pre-determined and including Disneyland.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: More insight into this bizarre story in just moments. There`s so much more to tell you about. Casey Anthony has a tough new attorney on her side. I`ll find out if this means Jose Baez be shoved out of the spotlight.
But first, Bonnie Sweeten was found in Disney World after claiming she was kidnapped along with her daughter. Here`s the D.A. explaining what Sweeten told her hubby.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE HENRY, BUCKS COUNTY, DA: She again reiterated the story that she had been car jacked by two black men, that she was in the trunk of the car, that she did not know where she was, she was crying at the time. She said that she was scared. She told her husband she loved him and that if she never saw her children, to tell them that she loved them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: She stated that she got out of her vehicle to check the damage to her car, and at that point two black men apprehended her and her daughter. That they hit her and her daughter, struck her, and that she was calling the 911 operator from the trunk of her car.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oy vey. Bonnie Sweeten faked her own abduction and then went to Disney World with her 9-year-old daughter. She now faces charges of filing a false report and identity theft. Plus, new allegations suggest she may be an embezzler, too. We are discussing the latest in this truly bizarre case with my fabulous panel.
People, Steve Kardian, are going to have to realize in this day and age, with cell phone pings and surveillance video and all the rest of it, which tripped this woman up, you can`t get away with these crazy, absurd stories anymore.
STEVE KARDIAN, FMR CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR: Well Jane, I would hope at some point she`d be able to keep a day job, because she`s a terrible criminal. She parked her car down in Center City, in central Philadelphia and it received a summons. Her cell phone pings were made from the airport. She made it very easy for law enforcement to track her whereabouts. And her showing up at -- they tied her back to the Philadelphia airport, and she showed up on video surveillance camera with her and her daughter. So, she made it a very easy job for law enforcement to track her down.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brad Segall, you`re the reporter on this case, didn`t she -- she got an actual parking ticket, which the time stamp of that disproved her entire story.
SEGALL: That`s right, Jane. Early on there were a lot of inconsistencies in what was going on, here. First of all, she claimed the accident occurred at what is one of the busiest intersections in Bucks County, in broad daylight. That was a question, right there. Then they found her car very neatly parked in a very congested area of Center City, Philadelphia, many people questioning how she even got that parking space if she was being driven around and if somebody wanted to ditch the car.
There was a parking ticket on the car that had a time stamp of about 2:30 in the afternoon, she had initially made those 911 calls around 2:00, claiming that that was about the time that she had been bumped in Southampton, in Bucks County. It would have been nearly impossible for her to get that car from Bucks County into Center City, Philadelphia, in time for her to have a ticket put on that car at 2:30, so the time line certainly didn`t match up.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, that`s for sure. I use to work in Philly a few years ago. Bucks County, down to Center City is a huge drive. It`s just ridiculous. Now, let`s talk about the money issue, because this is fascinating. Bonnie Sweeten`s husband appeared on the "Today" show this morning and responded to questions about whether his wife had stolen money from him or his family. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
L SWEETEN: No, my family`s not missing any money. I asked them. They said no.
MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: There are also reports that she took up to $12,000 from various bank accounts of yours, in your family`s. Have you checked on that money?
L SWEETEN: Hopefully today, or this week I`ll be looking into my bank accounts try into figure out if I have money. I mean, I`ll be starting over fresh. I don`t know about my mortgage, I might be behind in my mortgage. I have no idea what`s going on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: He seems quite amused by the whole situation. Wendy Murphy, Sweeten now thought to be a financial criminal, she`s being investigated for possibly stealing even from a charity. WPVI is reporting she could have stolen upwards of $1 million, some of it from a charity for children in Burma, who have autism. You cannot -- I mean, she`s making stuff up, but some of this stuff you can`t make up. What do you make of this money angle, because she wasn`t apparently living very lavishly?
MURPHY: Well, different accounts of what the motive might be in terms of taking money, if she took any at all, from her family or these other places, to fund IVF procedures. She apparently had a number of miscarriages in the recent past and she was doing IVF to have a baby. That doesn`t justify anything, but it could have been why she felt desperate.
Here`s what`s funny, her husband, who apparently, you know, lives in the same house and they share the bills and the mortgage, has basically said, on more than one occasion, I know nothing about the bills, I don`t pay anything, she pays all the bills. That`s fine enough. His wife and daughter were gone for a week. OK? And he still maintains as of yesterday: um, I don`t know if I`m missing any money from my bank account. What an idiot. What is he talking about? He didn`t check whether money was missing when his kid was gone -- potentially gone forever and he just didn`t bother to check?
EIGLARSH: Wendy, Wendy he had some other things on his mind. His child was gone. I don`t know that`s the time to check bank accounts.
MURPHY: You follow money when you`re looking for your kid. You follow money. If your wife is taking your kid and leaving town, you go to the money first.
EIGLARSH: He was very distraught. I hope the investigators are following the money trail.
EIGLARSH: Here`s the worst thing about not having the money -- the worst thing about her potentially stealing money, is that she must, at a minimum, pay back, in my opinion, law enforcement for all the time, effort and resources they devoted to this bogus claim and unfortunately you can`t squeeze water from a rock. I don`t think she has anything to pay them back with.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Curtis, let`s get into how this kind of thing happened in the mind of a criminal, and she hasn`t been convicted yet, but apparently she was working at a legal firm, some woman who had gotten a personal injury settlement, was trying to get 50 grand and couldn`t get it and she was allegedly possibly cashing those checks. I mean, is this something that happens once and then they get away with it and they say, ooh, I can do this again and again?
SLIWA: No, no, I think she`s wining, dining, pocket-ling all along the way. And I think the husband had window shades on his eyes, cotton balls in his ears, zipper on his mouth. He sort of knew that they were living a life that they shouldn`t be living. Wasn`t he the one who suggested the defense that it was hormones going out of control? Maybe he could get a new day job as a defense lawyer. That`s a pretty creative defense.
EIGLARSH: Wait a second. We`re not that bad. We`re not that bad.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The hormone defense. Thank you, panel, for your amazing analysis.
Shocking news in the Chris Brown assault case. Rihanna set to testify against her former lover.
And, more "Jon & Kate" drama unfolds. While Kate took the kids on vacation, Jon spotted in a bar with a couple of lady friends.
Now, breaking news just in, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor just announcing its investigating the (INAUDIBLE) involving child labor laws on "Jon & Kate Plus 8."
VELEZ-MITCHELL: In the "Spotlight" tonight, a seismic development in the Chris Brown assault case. Rihanna will break her silence and tell the world what really happened the night she was allegedly brutally beaten by her ex. The pop star set to testify in June in a dramatic courtroom face- off. Her lawyer says she is ready.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD ETRA, RIHANNA`S ATTY: The district attorney did advise me that they will be seeking to subpoena Rihanna. I will accept the subpoena on her behalf and she will appear as required by that subpoena.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Meantime, Brown`s high-profile attorney, Mark Geragos, tries to get his paws on police records, but a judge shoots him down, for now. Geragos wants to find out who leaked this gruesome photo showing Rihanna`s battered face after Chris Brown allegedly pummeled her repeatedly.
So, does this whole case hinge on how Rihanna plays it on the witness stand?
Still with me, Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor and author of "And Justice for Some."
Wendy, Rihanna, as we all know, gave police a long statement describing in excruciating detail the battering she says Chris Brown gave her. So when she takes the stand, some have predicted now, she might try to downplay the entire incident. But, wouldn`t that fly in the face of the statement she gave cops, the evidence of blood on the car and the gruesome photo we`ve all seen?
MURPHY: Yeah. I mean, I hope she doesn`t do that, Jane, because I think she`s an important role model for a lot of women victims who are watching this case play out. How she conducts herself in this case is going to influence a lot of people and I hope she takes responsibility for that. She has to tell the truth, because citizens subpoenaed to testify have to tell the truth under threat of perjury and prosecution for the crime of perjury if they don`t. so, if she wants to try to soft pedal it, and I hope she doesn`t do that, she has to understand there are inconsistencies in her testimony? The prosecutor may well throw her in jail for contempt or perjury, so she has to tell the whole truth, just to protect herself from getting in trouble.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, here`s why there`s all that speculation. In an earlier hearing, back in April, it seemed like the accused batterer was on the very same team with the alleged victim, speaking with one voice through Rihanna`s lawyer. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ETRA: I believe that there is efforts on behalf of all of the parties to try to resolve the case expeditiously and fairly. I think that would benefit everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, Rihanna is now apparently going to testify against Chris at this June hearing. Does that mean that Rihanna and Chris have now switched to an adversarial stance?
MURPHY: Well, you know, I don`t think so. Look, this is not her private lawsuit, this is the government`s case against Chris Brown. She`s really just a witness for the state. That`s why she has to tell the truth and can`t make a deal privately like that lawyer just suggested. That wouldn`t even be legal. The government gets to decide what to do with this case. They`re going to put her up there, she`s got to answer the questions truthfully. And if she does, I think there`s no question the case will proceed and then we`ll have to hear from her again when she testifies at trial.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Predictions -- could there be a plea deal? Still?
MURPHY: Well, sure there could be, but it shouldn`t be and it won`t be, because she wants to forgive him and make kissy face and make up with him. This is not about their relationship, it`s about the crime that was committed against society. She just happens to be the witness.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Wendy, thank you for that analysis. And we`re going to stay on top of that case and bring you that hearing when it happens in June.
Casey Anthony has a new attorney nicknamed the "Angel of Death Row." So, does this mean Jose Baez is pushed to the sidelines? The very latest Casey Anthony drama-ramma next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The fight to save Casey Anthony`s life heats up, her defense firing on all cylinders. But with the spotlight on new death penalty lawyer Andrea Lyon, does this mean Jose Baez will have to take a back seat to the woman known as the "Angel of Death Row?"
Plus, more Jon and Kate drama, ratings for their hit reality show has never been higher, and neither has the attention. The estranged couple spent Memorial Day Weekend apart. So is this the beginning of the end?
Explosive developments for Casey Anthony whose life is now in the hands of one of the country`s most powerful death penalty defense attorneys. Andrea Lyon, a.k.a. the "Angel of Death Row" was brought in to crush the prosecution`s capital case against Casey.
Lyon has an incredible, I mean, perfect record of winning life sentences for her condemned clients. Good news for Casey and maybe not so much for Jose Baez. Now everybody`s asking, who is in charge?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA LYON, CASEY ANTHONY`S DEATH PENALTY ATTY.: Under Florida law, I`m designated as lead counsel. But I consider myself an equal member of an excellent team.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We shall see how all that plays out. Meantime, Lyon is releasing a new book in January about her life as a death penalty defense lawyer called "Angel of Death Row." Is her timing coincidental, or is it convenient for the promotion of her book?
So much to talk about including the heated argument over whether the judge should seal Casey`s now infamous jail house medical meltdown when she learned that the skeletal remains of a child had been discovered, began hyperventilating before anybody knew those remains were in fact Caylee`s.
Joining me now: Darren Kavinoky, criminal defense attorney, a.k.a. "The Voice of Reason;" Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, professor at New England Law School and author of "And Justice for Some;" Rebecca Rose- Woodland, criminal defense attorney; and Drew Findling, Atlanta criminal defense attorney.
Drew, you have known Casey`s new high-powered defense attorney, Andrea Lyon, for two decades, I hear. Everybody`s talking about her take-charge attitude, holding court yesterday right outside the courthouse.
Andrea already saying as we just heard, "Hey on paper, I`m the lead counsel." Could there be a battle of egos brewing on the defense team with Jose Baez getting overshadowed?
DREW FINDLING, ATLANTA DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I don`t think that Andrea will create any battles. What you have to understand with Andrea is a complete dedication to her client and a complete dedication to the practice of law.
There are very few lawyers in this country that are praised, that a criminal defense attorney that are equally praised by judges, their colleagues and the criminal defense bar, and most importantly their competition, prosecutors. Everybody admires Andrea. She`s one of the great lawyers in America.
As far as precedent for somebody coming out of town on a death penalty case, don`t forget that in the Susan Smith case, Judy Clark, the federal defender in the state of Washington, because she`s death qualified came in to assist in that case. So a precedent has been set in this type of situation.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, let me jump in Drew, what about her reputation for crying at key moments in front of the jury?
FINDLING: You know, one of the things that you have to understand about Andrea, she is such a tremendous lawyer, but it`s because of the sincerity that she brings to the courtroom. One thing that she will do from the beginning is she will not only get to know the plight of her client, but I guarantee you, she will learn everything she can about Caylee, in life, and in death.
And everything she can to understand the tragedy that is her death. And that`s the kind of thing that drives Andrea. Because even though she`s a criminal defense attorney, even though she`s defending Casey, she will cry. She will cry sincere tears for the death of Caylee Anthony.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, they might try to stop her if she cries sincere tears, Wendy Murphy.
FINDLING: They will strike, yes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I mean, this is something that they filed motions in one previous case to try to preclude her from crying tears down her face.
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes, she may be a good lawyer, but she sounds more like a master manipulator, if you ask me. Or an actress even.
REBECCA ROSE-WOODLAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh, come on, Wendy.
FINDLING: I have to tell you something...
Hey, Wendy, you crossed the line...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me finish. Let me finish.
FINDLING: You crossed the line, Wendy.
ROSE-WOODLAND: Come on. Yes, Wendy get serious.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on. I`m not a judge, but I love to use this gavel that I was sent. Go ahead.
MURPHY: Thank you. Any lawyer tough enough to take on this case can take the criticisms that little old me might launch at her, ok?
Here`s what I really think. She may be a lot of things. She`s not a magician. And you can do all sorts of things with your own tears, and try to tweak the heart strings of the jury. This case is brutal.
And I guarantee you she`s never had a case like this, which is why she may have a perfect record so far. I don`t think she`s going to keep it up.
FINDLING: Well, one thing and I will...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think she`s right in that -- Casey Anthony is one of the most unsympathetic characters on the national scene at this point, at least how she`s portrayed in the media. Andrea Lyon appears in an Internet documentary her sister produced about defending death penalty cases.
Listen to what she says about the media. Does this foreshadow of strategy of blaming the media for taking Casey down?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA LYON, CASEY ANTHONY`S DEATH PENALTY ATTY.: Crime has been going down for years and yet it gets reported, I don`t know, 500 percent, or 600 percent more than it used to be. I think in part because of the 24- hour news cycles and the need to feed that entertainment beast.
All the research shows that people that watch local television are more afraid of crime than people who don`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Even though Andrea is attacking the media, she may need it once January rolls around. That`s when her new book "Angel of Death Row: My life as a death penalty defense lawyer" comes out.
Rebecca Rose-Woodland, everybody`s wondering how can Casey Anthony afford these high-powered attorneys? Could she be doing it pro bono to get publicity for her book?
ROSE-WOODLAND: Well, look, she could be doing it pro bono but I would never say someone is doing it for publicity for a book. I do believe Andrea is truly -- cares and cares about her clients and cares about the Constitution.
Whether or not she manipulates the jury, I would never say that. There have been times I have stood before a jury. It is a very troubling - - cases can be troubling. That does not mean she`s manipulating, nor do I think she`s manipulating now with her book. Wendy, I`m sorry. I think she`s truly has a dedication...
MURPHY: Now, these attorneys manipulate all the time. Look, in fact, this is not attorney`s secret -- she maybe dedicated...
MURPHY: And she manipulates, all defense attorneys, if they can...
FINDLING: Whoa, whoa, whoa. I`m sorry.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Darren, voice of reason, go in.
DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Let`s throw everybody into that. I mean, prosecutors are known for manipulation just as much. It`s all about the...
MURPHY: I don`t just agree with that.
KAVINOKY: ...and trying a case. And you know what, in life fashion (ph), great prosecutors, I mean the real prosecutors that win consistently, try to understand the plot of the accused, and the plight of the accused and it gives them an advantage in the courtroom.
That`s all she`s doing, because she`s a great defense attorney just like there`s great prosecutors.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I want to move and I have this question.
MURPHY: Fake crying, please...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Darren Kavinoky, all right, she`s the one who, if Casey is convicted, argues, "Don`t put her to death. Let her have life in prison."
So the first thing that I thought of is, after, of course, insisting that she hasn`t done it all the time, then once she`s convicted, essentially they acknowledge in that penalty phase, that she has done it and asks for mercy based on certain factors. That`s a bizarre switch, number one.
And two, could this Andrea Lyon end up throwing Cindy under the bus and kind of blaming Cindy for what Casey became?
KAVINOKY: Well, your question speaks to the -- any conflict between Jose Baez and now this new lawyer, Andrea Lyon. And here`s why that`s not going to happen, for exactly the point that you raised.
The trial is bifurcated, there`s two parts, there`s the guilt phase and the penalty phase. And I would expect Jose Baez to be the one arguing the guilt phase. If the jury finds her guilty, obviously Jose Baez has lost credibility. That`s where you bring in the new lawyer to argue penalty.
And you typically want to keep it clean and sanitized that way, because once the jury reaches a result that`s contrary to the advocacy of that first lawyer, they`re going to be tuning out and that lawyer has lost credibility for penalty phase.
So I think you can expect a very neat division in terms of how this is done in court.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now Rebecca, what about my theory that she might have to throw Cindy under the bus to explain why Casey became the person she did?
ROSE-WOODLAND: Well Jane, in Florida, what she`d be doing would be presenting mitigating circumstances. The prosecution would be presenting aggravating circumstances, which would hopefully have the jury lead to death.
And what she is there to do is present the mitigation, if there`s a guilty finding in the first phase of the trial. She is there to present the mitigation.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But, but -- yes...
ROSE-WOODLAND: Part of the mitigation could be, yes, that her mother did not treat her properly. That she has been under tremendous amount of stress. That she has mental issues. Those all go in the mitigation portion of the trial.
FINDLING: Jane, Jane...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Drew Findling, how does she handle all that?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She does psychological analysis? Does she actually interview the parents?
FINDLING: Well, let`s -- I think we`re really putting the cart in front of the horse here. Because let me say this, I have no doubt that when Andrea Lyon signed on for this case, she let priority be known she wants to keep Casey Anthony alive.
And I can guarantee you every part of this case she is evaluating from a legal, factual and evidentiary standpoint. And she will absolutely speak up if she thinks the guilt/innocence phase needs to be handled in a way that will keep her client alive.
That being said, she is going to do anything she can to keep her client alive.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`d look at this lady and I say, wow. Just looking at her I can tell she`s an amazing lawyer. Everybody thank you for your incredible insights.
New clues in the search for Madeleine McCann missing for more than two years. Cops got DNA from a convicted pedophile who was reportedly near the scene when the little girl was abducted. I will have an update.
Then, Jon and Kate Gosselin spend Memorial Day apart. Is the couple close to calling it quits? And a stunning new report says, the show is being investigated in connection with Pennsylvania Child Labor laws.
Shocking details next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon and Kate Gosselin spent Memorial Day weekend apart. I will find out if it`s splitsville for the reality couple.
But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.
New clues in the search for Madeleine McCann, the beautiful little girl vanished two years ago during a family vacation in Portugal. Investigators now have what could be a break in the case. A DNA sample from a convicted pedophile who was reportedly near the resort at the time of the abduction. 64-year-old Raymond Hewlett, a repeat child molester, voluntarily submitted a swab of his saliva to police from his hospital bed in Germany where he`s being treated for throat cancer.
The sample will be sent to police in Britain where it will be compared to unidentified DNA that was found at the scene of Madeleine`s abduction.
Here on ISSUES, we will stay on top of this investigation.
That is tonight`s "Top of the Block."
And breaking news tonight in the "Jon and Kate plus 8" saga: TMZ now reporting that the Pennsylvania Department of Labor is investigating whether the hit reality show is complying with child labor laws.
Just last night, former child actor Paul Petersen voiced his outrage over the situation on this show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL PETERSEN, FORMER CHILD ACTOR: I am desperately concerned. I don`t think this family had any idea when they began just how grinding notoriety can be. And these children did not have the power to disobey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Could his words here on ISSUES last night have helped trigger the announcement of that investigation? The laws protecting child actors primarily just in California and New York. But with all this press, will legislation, national legislation perhaps come out of this mess?
Meantime, TMZ also reporting that Kate and the kids spent Memorial Day without Jon. He spent his weekend, according to published reports, drinking beers without his family surrounded by a cluster of young women.
Why would he do that? He`s denied cheating, but admitted showing poor judgment by being out with another young female friend. Isn`t this more of the same?
And those cheating rumors are not going away. We will hear all the details about Jon`s alleged affair from the brother of his alleged mistress.
But first, my expert panels: Dr. Reef Karim, psychiatrist; A.J. Hammer, host of "Showbiz Tonight;" and Ken Baker, executive news editor for "E!"
Ken, you have the exclusive with Jason Hummel, the older brother of Jon`s alleged girlfriend, Deanna Hummel. What did he tell you?
KEN BAKER, EXECUTIVE NEWS DIRECTOR, E!: Well, what Jason Hummel told me was that unequivocally he believes that Jon did have an affair with his sister. And I know this is a family show, so I`m not going to get into it too much.
But he claimed some very tawdry things, including how Jon would come over numerous times, have sleepovers and then he heard things through the walls that a brother shouldn`t hear from his sister. That`s all I`m going to say right now.
BAKER: So very clearly, according to him. And I found him very believable. And according to him, this affair was real. Now, of course, Jon has denied this. He has said that he didn`t cheat on her.
So there`s a couple of people who know for sure if something did happen. And those two people know the truth, and but we can say is that -- is that clearly Jon is in a heap of trouble. I mean, his image is just suffering. He`s getting beat on, like you said, this report just came out that he was partying on Memorial Day without Kate and the kids. They were down in North Carolina on a boat trip.
Clearly they`re living separate lives. And it`s very unclear where this is all going to go.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A.J. Hammer, what about this breaking news story that the Pennsylvania Department of Labor is investigating whether child labor laws were violated because of a complaint against the show? What do you make of that?
A.J. HAMMER, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" HOST: Well, it makes perfect sense that they are looking into this. Now, TLC for their part, Jane, is saying we are completely compliant with all child labor laws.
But let me just point out. And I don`t think you have to be a legal expert or even a sociology or psychology expert to know this. Even the laws may not be in place in Pennsylvania specifically protecting children, the way they do in the entertainment world in New York and in California.
It doesn`t mean that some of the practices that they`re employing are necessarily a good idea. TLC says everything is good and as it should be. But I think it was pretty short-sighted as Paul Petersen your guest last night and also a guest on "Showbiz Tonight" pointed out, that it has to be a grueling schedule and these kids are living with these cameras around them for their formative years.
Whether it`s for a few hours a week, whether it`s all week long, the constant presence can`t be good. And it`s all they really know at this point.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kate`s brother, Kevin, told Radar Online about what Kate was like as a kid. This is fascinating. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN KREIDER, KATE GOSSELIN BROTHER: I would help her out. She would always get me to do her share of the chores or part of her chores or help her with her chores. But no -- she was never -- I mean, I don`t remember her as a super loud kid, or a super obnoxious kid. I mean, I would say just an average -- an average kid.
I don`t even really remember her freaking out until after she was married for awhile.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, he certainly is a mellow guy. But they say Kate was type "A." Now, a lot of people said she`s very domineering on the show.
Dr. Karim, I don`t think it`s fair to blame Kate for this. I think we have to look at both parents. But what kind of a personality does it take to get involved in something like a reality show with your kids?
I mean, we`ve all heard about stage mothers. Is this some kind of new fangled variation on the stage mother syndrome?
DR. REEF KARIM, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, yes the stage mother syndrome is interesting here. The validation that somebody needs to be on a reality show has to come into play. Whether it`s excessive and it`s narcissistic, and you`re thinking about yourself instead of thinking about your kids.
It sounds very easy to go, "Oh, yes, I`ll just bring my kids on this reality show, it will be great. It`ll be a great bonding experience." But the reality is, childhood development is a very fragile time: mentally, emotionally, physically.
And this is an inauthentic parenting happening here. They`re being parented by producers and celebrity parents, not real parents. And that`s really problematic here.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, A.J. Hammer, the way all this has unfolded, it seems that the whole controversy and criticism of Jon and Kate has emanated after we heard these allegations of the affair. Is there a connection there?
HAMMER: Well, I think the connection is that all of a sudden they were getting a lot of attention that they weren`t getting before. Look, "Jon & Kate Plus 8" has been a wildly popular show based on the good nature of the show, based on the idea that we were getting to have a glimpse at what is a pretty tough situation.
It`s a couple of parents trying to raise eight kids. Great premise for a show. But I think all the attention that the scandal got, yes, that`s why everybody`s taking a very close look at it now, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Fabulous panel, stay right there. More Jon & Kate dramarama in just a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOSSELIN: We are living our lives like a normal family. Cameras come in and film us. And that to the world, to the public makes us celebrities. I do not like that word. I am not a celebrity. I am a mom and a wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kate Gosselin denying to Larry King that she is a celebrity. News flash, you are a celebrity; 10 million people, or something like that, watch your show.
Meantime, Jon keeps denying he cheated with Deanna. But let`s listen to Ken Baker`s exclusive interview with Jason Hummel, Deanna`s older bro.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JASON HUMMEL, SISTER HAD AFFAIR WITH JON GOSSELIN: I heard some psychologically disturbing noises in this house.
BAKER: What do you mean by that?
HUMMEL: Psychologically disturbing noises. They came home late one night, and you know...
BAKER: Jon and your sister came home?
HUMMEL: Jon and my sister came home. She came in the front door, snuck him in the back door. I was studying for a psychology test and that`s what I had to hear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MTICHELL: You could see more of Ken`s interview tonight on E! at 10:30 p.m. Ken, I know you think this is a family program and you don`t want to be graphic, but let`s stop dancing around. What is it that he heard between the walls?
BAKER: Well, he believes he heard what sounded like his sister having sex. I mean, that`s basically what it comes down to. And you know, he describes in great detail -- and you can see it on the show tonight -- of how Jon would sneak in through the back door and sneak out the back door. And that he was doing this over the course of several months and that he was keeping it secret for his sister and apparently had a falling out with her and was able to -- and willing to spill the beans to me.
And I have to say, I did think he was very believable, very credible. I do believe he was telling the truth. Either that or he`s a great actor who`s waxing poetic and telling a great story.
But you know what? That part of Pennsylvania from what I understand is not a hotbed of acting. So I would say he`s telling the truth.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Listen, A.J. Hammer, this is what just occurred to me. Here we are debating night after night the appropriateness of putting these kids on this long-running reality TV show. You would think at some point the parents themselves would ask the question, "Hey, maybe we`ve got it wrong, maybe this is dangerous and harmful to the kids, maybe we should rethink that." Is there any sign at all that they`ve done that?
HAMMER: Not really. I mean, we`ve heard rumblings that Jon wants to get out, nothing official. Nothing that we can actually say he said.
But the truth is I have to believe they got so caught up in what was presented to them as a terrific idea and it had some nice success at the beginning. But then the money started to come in and all of the popularity, and I think it`s just been very hard to separate themselves from that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I think when it comes to problems across the board in life there`s a general rule. Follow the money.
Thank you, fabulous panel, for joining me tonight.
Got a question or comment? Go to cnn.com/jane.
You`re watching ISSUES.