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American Coed Testifies in Her Murder Trial; Monkey-Breeding Facility Plan Under Fire

Aired June 15, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, the petite American coed dubbed Foxy Knoxy grilled by aggressive Italian prosecutors about her drug use and sex life. On trial for allegedly killed her roommate, Knox`s testimony could decide her fate.

Her parents were in the courtroom for the agonizing details. I`ll show you her father`s reaction. Also, we get our hands on Knoxy`s secret jailhouse letters to her ex, who is also on trial for the murder.

Then, a sickening anniversary. One year ago, the world last laid eyes on little Caylee Anthony. Now the case is a national obsession as mom Casey sits in jail, waiting for her capital murder trial to begin. Meanwhile, yet another person chose to Casey says she never heard of Zanny the nanny.

And huge developments in the search for adorable little Haylee Donathan, last seen with her mom and her mom`s sex-offender boyfriend, Robbie Potter, believed to be on the lam despite a national manhunt. Newly-released surveillance video allegedly shows Haylee in the back of a blue pickup truck in a Wal-Mart as her mom enters the store. Did mom change clothes inside? And if so, why?

This as Haylee`s convicted rapist uncle speaks out from jail, saying this all may have started out as a joke?

Plus, Puerto Rico, is it really the island of enchantment? PETA`s pioneering leader weighs in a controversial plan to breed lab monkeys in Puerto Rico that is sparking a global outcry. It`s the story you`ll only get here.

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, Amanda Knox speaks out for the first time in 18 months. The American coed nicknamed Foxy Knoxy by the tabloids is on trial for the alleged murder of her roommate in Perugia, Italy.

Knox spent all Friday and again on Saturday taking the stand in her own defense. She began her testimony in English and then, frustrated with the translator, switched to Italian. Apparently, she is fluent after spending a year and a half in an Italian prison.

Amanda painted a terrifying picture of the 14 hours she spent being interrogated, grilled by Italian authorities on the day after the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher.


AMANDA KNOX, ON TRIAL FOR MURDER: I was very, very scared because they were treating me so badly. I didn`t understand why.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s the first time we have heard her speak. Knox says the intimidation tactics included being -- see, right there, hit on the head twice, causing her to say she was there, that fateful night, which she now says simply was not true. In fact, Italy`s Supreme Court threw out her so-called confession.

Her new alibi: she says she spent the night with her ex. But he`s also on trial for murder. They both say they were at his house. They smoked pot. They watched a movie. They had sex. But how did a simple night in turn into being changed with murder? And why did she feel so compelled to describe her friend`s murder as "yucky"? Is that what you say?

Knox`s family and friends say the DNA evidence linking her to the crime is bogus, and they are standing by her.


CURT KNOX, AMANDA`S FATHER: She has nothing to hide. She has done nothing wrong. She`s 100 percent innocent. And you know, I look forward, you know, to the end of this trial, and hopefully, we`re going to get a "not guilty" verdict, because she had nothing to do with this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What a nightmare for the dad. Her dad says she is innocent, and you will not believe what he says about the prosecution. Are they out to frame an innocent American abroad?

Also, Amanda`s jailhouse letters to ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito. We`re going to tell you what`s in them.

Straight out to my fabulous expert panel: Drew Findling, Atlanta criminal defense attorney; Mark Eiglarsh, criminal defense attorney, former prosecutor; Judy Kuriansky, Dr. Judy, clinical psychologist; Jayne Weintraub, criminal defense attorney; Tom Ruskin, former NYPD detective, investigator, and president, CNP protective and investigative group; and joining us by phone, Tim Haeck, reporter, News Talk 97.3 KIRO-FM in Seattle, which is Amanda`s Knox`s hometown.

Tim, what is the very latest?

TIM HAECK, REPORTER, KIRO: You know, this is a five-month-long trial and amazingly, Amanda just got her chance to testify. As you mentioned, she told the jury that she was browbeaten by the police in Perugia, Italy.

And as you refer to, she was actually -- they actually put hands on her. She says any confession she might have given them was given under duress. She got to testify about accusations that she is the killer. She says, "No, I wasn`t there." And of course, her testimony does contradict some earlier testimony in this trial by people who say they did see her near the crime scene.

She got to testify for two days. Her father, we talked to her, and he said that she is proud of Amanda Knox. That she did a great job. That she was poised on the witness stand. And she showed that she`s really just a normal student and not this dark angel character that the police and prosecutor have portrayed her as.

Coming up next, this week later on, Amanda Knox`s mother is set to testify in her defense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Now, two quick questions. Did she have an attorney during this interrogation when she was grilled by Italian authorities? And was it videotaped?

HAECK: You just mentioned it. Much of that confession was thrown out. And that`s because she did not have an attorney present. That was like the day and the night after the killing in Perugia, Italy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And yes or no, was it videotaped or not? Was it videotaped or not?

HAECK: I`m not sure if it was videotaped or not.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. You know what, Mark Eiglarsh, this seems to me like a kangaroo court. I mean, they meet, what, once every couple of weeks? Now they`re going to go on vacation for the summer. She`s interrogated without an attorney. We don`t know if there was a video of it, but I would assume that we would have seen it by now. And, you know, this witness starts out in English and the translator`s bad, so she switches to Italian.

What the heck is going on here?

MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, this whole vacation for the summer -- you know, "Hey, we`ll get back to you with a guilty or not guilty verdict when we`re done sipping on pina coladas" -- gets me just a little bit.

She has some challenges in this case. I`ve heard that, allegedly, her DNA is on the knife. She also says that she wasn`t beaten but knocked on the head twice, and then didn`t then say anything other than, "Oh, it was the bartender," who then spent time in jail because of her falsely accusing him. Then he gets released. Now he`s suing her.

I think that they`re probably going to hold that against her to some extent.

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. Don`t confuse the DNA evidence. Maybe I explain it just for a minute?


WEINTRAUB: Because I think the viewers are going to get the wrong impression. DNA evidence in this particular case -- the DNA is not on the blade; it`s only on the handle. And DNA, remember, it means what her skin was in contact with, remnants of skin cells. It`s like a fingerprint. It lasts forever.

This was in the house where she lived in the kitchen where she lived. This was a regular kitchen knife. My DNA is all over my kitchen knives just by dish washing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what I`m saying. It seems like -- it doesn`t seem the way this is being conducted is very scientific, which is precisely the point of Amanda`s terrified parents. That she`s over there in Italy being tried, and they`re Americans. They`re used to an American justice system, and this system is very strange by our standards.

DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Jane -- Jane, let me -- Jane, let me...


FINDLING: Let me say having -- I`ve actually tried part of a criminal case in Europe before, and you just want to stand up every day and sing "The Star-Spangled Banner," because you cannot believe what you endure when you go over there.

When I heard that she didn`t want to use a translator anymore, I can identify with that. Having been in trial over there, you`ll have a witness give a three-minute answer, and the translation lasts four seconds.


FINDLING: They don`t give -- they don`t entitle you to what we consider a thorough and sifting cross-examination of leading questions. Anything that we have does not exist there.

I would be extremely paranoid of a system where you have your trial on the weekends? That is just a different world.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And then they`re going to take a break? A summer vacation? How could anybody keep track of a trial and keep -- and present a coherent case if you`re only meeting every couple of weeks for a couple of days?

FINDLING: The viewers should know -- the viewers should know that this is not a jury of her peers or lay people. It`s eight tainted judges. Eight judges. Any defense lawyer would tell you in the United States, we never want bench trials. We want citizens. She doesn`t have that right.

TOM RUSKIN, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: And Jane, as you alluded to earlier, she was questioned by authorities without a videotape camera, with no prior knowledge of Italian. We don`t know what they questioned her in English, what they questioned her in Italian, how good their questions were. This is all sort of a kangaroo court that`s taking place of an American citizen.

KURIANSKY: And you`re all criticizing the system as potentially supporting her and defending her, which I appreciate. Let me give you an opposite scenario that`s more prosecutorial here. And that is, first of all, the girl is very involved in sex. She shows a vibrator to the now- dead roommate...

WEINTRAUB: And that means she`s a murderer?


EIGLARSH: All you have to do is say "vibrator" and you get Jayne to jump in.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... the United States of America...

KURIANSKY: ... that she`s going to visit a sex shop. They had -- the night before it was Halloween, and the now-dead roommate was dressed as a vampire. Here`s a potential scenario.

WEINTRAUB: That`s a good fact.

KURIANSKY: Here`s the potential scenario. They`re playing in a sex game, and there`s a knife that the now-dead girl throws, because she was dressed as a vampire. And we know how college kids are really into all this blood sucking now and have been for...

FINDLING: They are? Wow!

WEINTRAUB: You have an incredible imagination.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me just say -- hold on!

FINDLING: I`m planning on starting college tomorrow.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on. I`ve got to use my gavel.

KURIANSKY: ... because of the way college kids are acting and I know that. So they`re very into -- and the biggest issue now in the movies is about vampires.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. But...

KURIANSKY: The biggest superstar. They`re playing in a sex game. She`s got a knife to her throat...


EIGLARSH: Is there anyone who`s going to testify to all this? Who`s testifying to this?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s been a lot of misinformation in this case. Is it shown, really, beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim was wearing a vampire outfit?

KURIANSKY: That was reported that she had been dressed as a vampire. I`m giving you a possibility.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. But Tim, was she -- the victim dressed as a victim?

HAECK: I have not heard that one, although I`ve heard a lot of strange things.

I`ll tell you one thing that strikes me about this case, and maybe your attorneys can express it better than me, but her character is really on trial here to a great extent. And I think that`s simply because the DNA evidence is very much in question. And the defense is going to challenge that DNA evidence when they`re -- when they take this -- when they further this case next week.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And she`s done some eccentric things, allegedly, cart-wheeling after she was arrested.

WEINTRAUB: But I`ll tell you something, Jane.

KURIANSKY: Yes, she did, as a...


WEINTRAUB: Women -- women do not traditionally split throats. I`m serious. Women do not commit violent acts like that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you.

KURIANSKY: Jane! Jayne Weintraub! Women do not commit violent acts like that?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ll be back in two seconds. Stay right there for more analysis of the pretty American coed accused of killing her roommate in Italy. Did Amanda Knox convince the court she`s innocent? 1-877-JVM- SAYS. Give me a holler. Tell me what you think about this American trapped abroad.

All right. And little Haylee Donathan, missing for more than two weeks. Now cops release surveillance video showing her in the back of a pickup truck. Are they closing in?

But first, Amanda Knox on trial for murder in Italy. This weekend she gave her make-or-break testimony. Her dad was there to see it. Here`s his reaction.


C. KNOX: I think today went phenomenally well. I think what everybody has now had a chance to see is who is Amanda, versus what she`s been portrayed as, you know, up until now.




A. KNOX: They called me a stupid liar. And they said that I was trying to protect someone. But I wasn`t trying to protect anyone.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Amanda Knox also testified about being confused while being interrogated. Let`s listen. She testified in Italian this time. You`re going to hear a voice-over of what she told the jury.


KNOX (through translator): Because I was no sure whether it was my imagination or whether it was reality, and therefore I wanted to say that I was confused and that I could not know. But at the same time, I knew I had to sign these statements.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s got to be a first, where you have a bilingual kind of testimony on the stand. I`ve never actually heard of that before.

Jayne Weintraub, and the fact that she could just switch to Italian and nobody said anything, it just shows you what kind of a loosy-goosy system they have over there.

WEINTRAUB: Well, I don`t know that I would call it loosy-goosy. I would say that we`re so blessed -- and I honestly mean that -- to be in the United States of America, where we have the constitutional right that we do enjoy. And that`s why it`s so disheartening -- disheartening to me when they`re violated in this country.

But, remember, the Supreme Court in Italy did throw out the confession, so it must have been more than what Mark was saying of him just knocking in the head. I mean, obviously, she was threatened, she was intimidated, and she was given a false confession. For a reason, she threw it out.

RUSKIN (?): She also didn`t have her attorney present, which is the main reason that they threw it out. And you know, this is a trial that`s going on and going on and going on week after week after week. And now they`re taking a summer recess. It`s ridiculous.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is ridiculous. But let`s take a look at some of the problems with her testimony.

Drew Findling, she testified, essentially, she gave a false confession after she was hit on the head. We keep seeing her go like that over and over again as she describes how the investigators interrogated her and smacked her in the back of the head.

But by the same token, she also testified that she was confused about what was in reality and what was in her imagination. By the time she said she was there that night, when in fact she`s now saying she was at her boyfriend`s house and not at the murder scene. So that`s not the same thing as a false confession when she say, "Oh, I`m confused about what`s real and what`s in my imagination."

KURIANSKY: Thank you.

FINDLING: Well, let -- let me say this. I`m not so blown away, and you know, "Wow, they`re so great," because they suppressed her statement. Because it`s truly the fraud that is their system. We do such a great job in this country of when we suppress a false statement or a statement given without the benefit of counsel, preventing the jury from ever knowing that took place. But the operative word is "jury."

This isn`t a jury. This is eight judges. These eight judges know that she made this confession. Call it a false confession or not, they know she made the confession. And you can rest assured when they deliberate after they`re done taking their vacation and coming in on the weekends and hearing the evidence, they`re going to use it when they make their decision as to her guilt or innocence, guaranteed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Judy Kuriansky, what do you make of her behavior? Because Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, are both standing trial for murder. And now love letters have been released. Amanda apparently wrote to him from jail saying, "I try not to think about `what ifs` at all but these aren`t sad at all for me to think about." She also said, "We really could have had something special, it`s true."

I mean, they say -- OK, they were together at his house the night Kercher died at another house. And we have these diary entries. We have these reports that she has behaved erratically after her arrest, doing cartwheels, doing splits. She seems a little eccentric and perhaps juvenile. You know, referring to the murder as yucky.

How does that hurt her in terms of how the judges -- this jury of judges will rule on her?

KURIANSKY: I think you put the nail on the head for so many words that are appropriate, psychologically. Juvenile, inappropriate, immature, and not believable, doing cartwheels in prison.

Also, there were reports that in her diary, she was considering the now-dead girls as raped and killed and wondering what would she feel like that there was...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But let me just say...

FINDLING: Jane, Jane...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: First of all, I want to say, the aunt says -- and she was very upset with some of the things that have been reported, because we are playing a game of Telephone. Things are happening in Italy and then they come here. And by the time they get translated, it`s a game of Telephone.

But apparently, she wasn`t doing cartwheels and splits. According to the aunt, she was doing yoga stretches. Whatever!

KURIANSKY: OK. It`s still inappropriate.

FINDLING: What she was doing, I`ll tell you.

KURIANSKY: She admitted, even, by saying, I get very silly, but getting silly, as you said...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: When I was in college...

EIGLARSH: One thing -- one thing I noticed (ph), Jane...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead, Mark.

KURIANSKY: I don`t think she`s believable.


FINDLING: The point is, in the United States, you can...

EIGLARSH: I`m Mark. That`s me.

FINDLING: ... pick a jury.


FINDLING: OK. Sorry, go ahead, Mark.

EIGLARSH: Yes. One thing for sure that she did, though, was she wrote those love letters to the co-defendant. I would run to the jail and say, "Didn`t you listen to me when I told you, do not have any communications with anyone?" And it doesn`t help when he`s a co-defendant in this case. It just doesn`t do her any good to write those letters.

KURIANSKY: I would totally agree. And let`s not forget that she admitted to using drugs. And a lot of the kinds of behaviors that we`re talking about are drug-influenced.

FINDLING: Regarding the drug...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: True. Final words.

FINDLING: Sure. When you pick a jury, you can get parents, aunts, uncles that are used to kids being goofy at times. You don`t have that benefit. You have eight men and women with black robes that are not going to care about these issues.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We all have to remember what we were like in college. I couldn`t stop giggling, no matter what. And, you know, that doesn`t mean you killed anybody.

I want to thank my panel.

A controversial plan to breed monkeys in Puerto Rico for painful lab testing creating a fierce outcry. I will talk to the founder of PETA about this next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: In the "Spotlight" tonight, a myriad of controversies involving animals: swine flu, Michael Vick, a global outcry over plans -- just a plan -- to breed monkeys for painful lab testing in Puerto Rico. There`s been an ongoing investigation into recent revelations of violent abuse of primates at a research facility in Louisiana.

Now comes this news that a new facility to breed lab monkeys could be in the works in Puerto Rico. It would reportedly capture monkeys in the wild, imprison them, breed them, sell their babies for use in experimentation.

An international coalition of animal abuse prevention group calling on Puerto Rico`s governor to prevent the destruction of this monkey breeding farm. Listen to what one Puerto Rican official said when I caught up with him just yesterday.


REP. PEDRO PIERLUISI (D), PUERTO RICO: It`s just a matter of striking the right balance. Making sure that science can progress and we can find better ways of taking care of all human beings, but at the same time, treating animals with -- with the care that they deserve.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Officials in Puerto Rico say they will investigate this plan.

Joining me, a personal hero of mine, Ingrid Newkirk, founder of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and author of the fantastic new book -- got to get it -- "The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights: Simple Acts of Kindness to Help Animals in Trouble." An amazing read.

Ingrid, science is often used as a justification, a blanket justification for experimenting on monkeys. But is there a way to do -- basically, get the same information without testing on these primates that -- that are really like little children?

INGRID NEWKIRK, FOUNDER, PETA: Yes, Jane, this is a money deal. It has nothing to do with science. And you heard the words that, oh, they wanted to strike a balance.

Well, nowadays scientists have not only recognized that these primates are like us in important ways and that you shouldn`t be sticking them in metal boxes for decades and depriving them of everything that is important to them; that they`re not like us when it comes to their blood, the diseases they catch, and so on.

And so it takes us down a blind alley to continue to use circa-1920s science when we have, today, whole, human DNA on the Internet. You don`t have to kill a rabbit to see if a woman is pregnant.

We need to leave these old-fashioned ways behind and to take these animals away from their families, family units that are just like ours, loving parents, doting kids, and lock them up so that they`re stressed, we shouldn`t be doing that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ingrid, if you want, there`s an alert on about this issue. You can contact the governor of Puerto Rico.

Swine flu, another big issue, global cases, close to 30,000. You know, what are we going to do about that in terms of looking at the issue of pig gestation crates? Take a quick look at those pig gestation crates and tell me what your opinion is of those, Ingrid?

NEWKIRK: Well, of course, it`s coming back to bite us. We`ve wanted cheap meat for so long and pigs, again, they`re very feeling animals. You know, the cover of my book is this beautiful mother pig with her infant and the smile on her face is wonderful.

But we`ve crammed them into filthy stalls. They live in their own manure. Disease is rampant. And so when you see the price of pork chops, you need to think, what is the price the animals are paying, and is that going to come back in a pandemic? Apparently, it is, this year. And when winter comes, we do not know what`s going to hit us, but it`s not going to be the last.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ingrid, stand by. I`m going to talk to you later in just a moment about the cat serial killer case in Florida.

Meantime, a sick milestone in the Casey Anthony case. The last images of little Caylee alive captured one year ago. We will analyze where the murder case stands right now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A sickening anniversary. One year ago, the world last laid eyes on little Caylee Anthony. Now the case is a national obsession as mom, Casey, sits in jail, waiting for her capital murder trial to start. Where does the nightmare stand one year later?

And huge developments in the search for adorable little Haylee Donathan, last seen with her mom and her mom`s sex-offender boyfriend Robbi Potter. New surveillance video allegedly shows Haylee in a back of a blue pickup truck out of Wal-Mart. Are cops closing in?

Profound sadness on the sickening one-year anniversary of the day the last images of little Caylee Anthony alive are captured. One year -- the precious child alive and happy cuddling with her great grandfather on June 15th, 2008 one year ago.

Her grandfather would later tell police about the last time he saw his granddaughter.


GEORGE ANTHONY, CASEY ANTHONY`S FATHER: Well as of June 16th, that`s when I -- that`s the last time that I saw my daughter and granddaughter together. My granddaughter had her backpack on. My daughter had some stuff, her backpack and stuff for work. She was dressed, I believe in work attire.

And she just said, "Dad, I`m on my way to work. Caylee`s going to her Zanny`s house. I`ll be working late so we`ll be staying over tonight. We`ll see you guys tomorrow."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Authorities believe that tomorrow was the day little Caylee disappeared. Caylee`s badly decomposed remains wouldn`t be discovered for months.

Tonight, cold water being thrown on the outright lies told by Casey Anthony.

Casey`s BFF, best friend from childhood revealing to a detective that she never, ever, ever heard of Zanny the nanny. Quote, "Have you ever heard of before July 16th, 2008, Zenaida Gonzalez? Never. What about Zanny the nanny? No. What about Casey using a nanny? No.

It doesn`t end there. The ex-best friend delivers more potentially explosive information about Casey`s relationship with her mom, Cindy.

She describes a collision over control of little Caylee`s second birthday party. She also told cops that Casey was very afraid of Cindy. What?

Will prosecutors use Casey`s own parents against her to argue that Casey sought revenge on her mother, Cindy, by murdering Caylee? Is that the motive?

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: back with me, Jayne Weintraub, criminal defense attorney; Drew Findling, Atlanta criminal defense attorney; and Mark Eiglarsh, former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney.

Mark, how damaging could this particular ex-BFF, Michelle Murphy, be if she becomes a witness for the prosecution?

MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don`t think this is the blob bombshell we`re looking for at all.


EIGLARSH: It`s just not. It`s just not, I know it sounds great to say so, but it`s just not. The best thing that the prosecutors can get from her is that here`s her best friend who knows nothing about her having a nanny.

And you couple that with the fact that nannies cost money. I know personally and she doesn`t have any money. She didn`t have money; she was stealing to get money.

But other than that, I don`t see anything of value in the latest round of discovery and I`ve been through over 1,000 documents.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I mean, come on, Jayne Weintraub, she`s saying, this woman says Zanny the nanny took the child. You know, I mean that, now we`re hearing that nobody has ever heard of Zanny the nanny until this became a case and until it became sort of this drama that we`re all witnessing.

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, a lot of people -- I`m sorry.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In other words, back in the day, nobody ever heard of Zanny the nanny or Zenaida Gonzalez or any nanny. And she doesn`t have money for a nanny, she didn`t have a job. So she basically...

WEINTRAUB: They stole a lot as Mark said, number one. Number two but that`s not the answer. The answer isn`t that she may have lied about Zanny the nanny or whoever she had given the baby to or whoever she had thought had took the baby.

What really matters is, what evidence do they have that she murdered the child, as she is charged with doing? They still have a year later no witness, no forensic.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How about the smell of death, how about cadaver dogs hitting on her trunk? How about signs of decomposition in her trunk? How about the fact that she Googled all sorts of suspicious -- somebody been on her computer...

WEINTRAUB: We don`t know that she did the Googling. We don`t know that she did the Googling. And you know what we don`t have? We don`t have any hard evidence. We don`t have forensics, an eyewitness, a confession.

They`re looking for the death penalty, as they did six months later. This best friend is a best friend from grade school. As a matter of fact, she came into Lee, her brother`s life, and she`d only seen Casey a couple of times.

So I don`t think she would have been confiding in her or unusual that she didn`t know anything about her personal life.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Casey`s ex-best friend, Michelle Murphy, the ex-BFF told police about a disturbing conversation she had with George Anthony at one of the prayer vigils held for little Caylee.

Quote, "George had mentioned it to me. What if we`d only gotten cus, which means custody, apparently? You know, if we had just done it instead of talking about it."

George also told investigators when he went to pick up Casey`s car from the impound lot in July of last year and smelled that vile odor, he whispered to himself, "Please, don`t let this be my Caylee."

Will, Drew Findling, Casey`s parents end up being her worst nightmare at trial?

DREW FINDLING, ATLANTA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, I don`t think so because who wouldn`t make that statement. Whether it was her did it or a stranger that abducted Caylee and did it, you still think, "Gosh if we had had custody, this wouldn`t have happened. Please don`t let this be my grandchild that`s dead."

Those comments are completely appropriate and what any grandparent should say, no matter whether Casey did it or didn`t do it. I don`t see that being an issue whatsoever.

EIGLARSH: Jane and Drew -- right...

FINDLING: I also will say that as far as -- I agree with Jayne completely. And I have to tell you, Jane, I know it sounds good about the odor in the trunk. But let me tell you, Andrea Lyon is going to be so all over that when it comes to motions, the battle has first begun. There is a good chance none of that is going to be admissible from a forensic standpoint...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Mark it`s not just odor in the trunk, they sent it to the body farm in Tennessee and it came back with signs of decomposition.

FINDLING: And the admissibility of that is far from acceptable. And I`m leaning towards it not being admissible. I think what...

EIGLARSH: Ok, a couple of things...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mark, jump in.

EIGLARSH: Yes. Drew is right, let me just say this. Drew is right, Jane is right and let me just add this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m right? This Jane?

EIGLARSH: Yes, no, she is. A couple of things she said Jane. I`ll give you a couple.


EIGLARSH: There are challenges that the prosecutors have. We have yet, after we`ve looked at this evidence to see how this exactly happened. Now, let me just argue with them for one second.

I still have not heard one, any one of you guys talk about why she didn`t report her child missing for 30 days and that tight piece of tape over her daughter`s mouth, that`s a problem.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, that is definitely a problem.

Jayne, Drew, thank you for your insights. Mark, I`ll be back with you in just a bit.

Turning now to breaking developments in the desperate search for beautiful Tracy Ocasio, missing now for almost three weeks; Texas Equusearch on the case. Tonight, launching a massive ground search for the 27-year-old; she was last seen leaving a trendy central Florida bar with James Hataway -- there is the video -- Now a person of interest in her disappearance.

Hataway had been behind bars -- another kind of bars -- for unrelated drug charges over the weekend. He faced more charges for choking a woman, allegedly, who left a bar with him back in 2008.

Not a good sign.

This morning, searchers began combing through an illegal dumping ground that was known to have been used by Hataway`s former employer. Tim Miller, the Head of Texas Equusearch says they are not ready to give up the search.


TIM MILLER, DIRECTOR & FOUNDER, TEXAS EQUUSEARCH: We`re a long ways from pulling the plug, let`s put it like that. So we`ve got a lot of work to do.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s get the very latest on this crucial search from Rich Giles, a liaison officer for Texas Equusearch. Rich, is this -- and it`s a difficult question -- but I have to ask you, a rescue or a recovery mission right now?

RICH GILES, LIAISON OFFICER, TEXAS EQUUSEARCH: It`s a recovery mission, Jane. We`re trying to bring Tracy home to her parents.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what strikes me as such a sad irony with all of these searches is that you have all these people who gather and they form teams and they start at a central point and they fan out and generally they don`t find the body.

And I`m not saying that this woman`s dead. I pray that she`s found alive. I pray that there`s a miracle. I`m talking hypothetically. In these searches for a body, generally, it`s an accident.

I mean, in some of the cases we`ve covered, somebody fishing stumbles upon the remains. It`s never usually the organized searches, or is that just my imagination?

GILES: It`s not necessarily just your imagination. It does happen that way, but I`ve got to tell you, Jane, Texas Equusearch is one of the best organizations that I`ve ever been involved with and I`ve spent 26 years in law enforcement.

And they`re great and I can assure you that if there`s any way possible that Tim Miller, myself, and the rest of the organizational members and the volunteers from the community can bring resolution to this, it`s going to be done.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Hataway claims that she left after dropping him off that night. Cops found her car less than half a mile from James Hataway`s home. Reportedly, both the driver and passenger seats were thrown forward. A change of clothes was found in the backseat.

What are you doing in terms of using this car as a central point from which to expand the search? Or are you saying, well, that`s been covered by the police already. We`re going to go somewhere else?

GILES: No, in reality, that`s where we began our search in this case is at the location where the car was recovered from and then began working outwards.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And so what do you do? I mean, don`t you play detective and say, where would he have gone as opposed to just do it.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, all right, listen Rich, I want to thank you. I think you do amazing work and I just pray we find this young woman alive; somehow, a miracle.

A teenage boy arrested for going on a cat killing spree allegedly in Florida. I will analyze this very sick, twisted case with the founder of PETA.

And new leads in the search for little Haylee Donathan last seen with her mom and her mom`s sex-offender boyfriend: surveillance video shows Haylee in a blue pickup truck with her mom. Is the mom a willing participant in this abduction?

Give me a holler. 1-877-JVM-SAYS, that`s 1-877-586-7297; sound-off about little Haylee.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Seismic developments in the frantic search for little Haylee Donathan. I will show you the unbelievable surveillance video that cops believe is the missing 4-year-old.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.

An 18-year-old charged in a gruesome string of cat mutilations and killings that has horrified two south Florida communities. Tyler Hayes Weinman was charged Sunday with 19 counts of animal cruelty.

In court earlier today, a judge ordered the teen to undergo a psych evaluation before any possible release. Release? Bond was set at $250,000.

In the past month, residents have reported finding the mutilated remains of dozens of cats. Cops confirmed that some have been skinned. Not usually being skinned alive, people.

The accused teen maintains his innocence. Some neighbors call him you guessed it, quiet and well spoken. Authorities suggest more arrests may be coming.

Back with me, one of my heroes, Ingrid Newkirk, founder of PETA and author of "The PETA Practical Guide to Animal Rights."

Perhaps not in this case because he has just been charged, he hasn`t been convicted, but hypothetically speaking isn`t it true that killers that start with animals often graduate to killing people, Ingrid?

INGRID NEWKIRK, "THE PETA PRACTICAL GUIDE TO ANIMAL RIGHTS": Yes, it`s a fact. And Jane, thank you so much for covering this story. Because children, animals, they`re the littlest of victims. They`re the innocent ones. They`re the easy targets and often they are practice for something that comes later.

And you`re right, the FBI, sociologists have gone into the prisons and they`ve interviewed serial killers, even the school shooters. And each one of them has a history of cruelty to animals.

A lot of times you find that people who are sociopaths actually project their fears and their fantasies into cats in particular because cats are quiet. They`re not rambunctious like dogs and you can project on to them whatever you please. It`s serious business.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, it`s a hideous world we live in and the work that you do is so important. Everything boils down to compassion for the powerless, the helpless and the voiceless. And I applaud you for your work. You are one of my heroes.

Ingrid, thank you for joining us.

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

NEWKIRK: Thank you, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Fast-breaking developments tonight in the nationwide manhunt for a 4-year-old girl on the run with her mom and her mom`s tier- three sex offender boyfriend, the most serious kind of sex criminal.

Now, brand-new surveillance video just released shows Candace Watson, the mother of little Haylee Donathan, entering an Ohio Wal-Mart three days after they were last seen. Watson is seen walking into the bathroom in one outfit and exiting in another outfit.

The camera also may have caught little Haylee sitting in the parked car outside with Robbi Potter; that`s the sex offender boyfriend. Potter`s past victims were reportedly just 7 and 9 years old. What is his mother thinking?

Authorities say the missing trio is in a 1988 dark blue Chevy pickup truck with lightning bolts on the back and could now be as far away as Arizona or Colorado.

Meantime, the uncle of little Haylee a convicted sex offender himself allegedly helped Haylee`s mom, sex offender boyfriend, escape from a halfway house. Are you keeping track? He talked to reporters at the "Mansfield News Journal."


CYLE WATSON, UNCLE OF HAYLEE DONATHAN: This is all mind-boggling. It`s like, ok, it was from like a trick to now things are really, really serious. And it`s like this guy messed with this girl and then he might have -- there`s a chance that he might be messing with my niece. And I just -- I don`t know. They didn`t have any type of relationship before. They`d never talked or nothing like that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Authorities now are offering a $10,000 reward for any information that could lead to the arrest of Robbi Potter, the dangerous sex offender now on the lam with a 4-year-old child and her mom.

Straight to my expert panel: Mark Eiglarsh, former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney; Judy Kuriansky, Dr. Judy, clinical psychologist; plus, Tom Ruskin, former NYPD detective and president of CMP Protective and Investigative Group.

Tom Ruskin, we now have new images of what could be little Haylee, her mom, and sex offender Robbi Potter. What do authorities do with this new lead given that it happened quite a while ago and they could be anywhere, far, far away from this particular Wal-Mart at this point?

TOM RUSKIN, PRESIDENT, CMP PROTECTIVE AND INVESTIGATIVE GROUP: Well, at this point in time, what you`re going to do is you`re going to determine which way they possibly could have gone. From where they started to where they are, which direction they`re probably heading in.

And then you`re going to hit those convenience stores. You`re going to hit the places along the way. They have to be paying for gas and other kinds of food and stuff along the way somehow.

So you`re going to travel those roads. You`re going to get the state police involved. You`re going to get the FBI involved and you`re going to try and narrow it down.

The good news is if it was her in the back of the pickup truck, she is, physically, all right at this point in time. And it looked to me like the mother was changing the clothes to maybe change her looks, her disguise.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, there`s another possibility as well. Let`s take another look at that surveillance video. Haylee`s mom, Candace, appears to enter the Wal-Mart in one outfit and then exit in another. What I was thinking, Mark Eiglarsh, is that perhaps they didn`t have the money to pay for a change of clothes and they didn`t want to go somewhere where they could be exposed, so they decided to just, essentially, allegedly, shoplift.

MARK EIGLARS, FORMER PROSECUTOR: That`s one possibility. But look how idiotic they are to go in where there`s surveillance cameras. That`s why -- I guess that`s a good thing because soon, hopefully, they`ll all be captured.

And there goes her argument about duress. I think that was probably her best legal argument. He forced me to do this. There she is. She doesn`t tell a soul what`s going on. Freely walks in, changes her clothing and walks out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, Dr. Judy Kuriansky, this guy that she left with was serving two years for three counts of sexually battery on two children. There`s been conflicting reports about the ages, either 9 or 11, or 7 and 9.

But oh, my gosh, you wouldn`t want to let your kid near somebody who had done time for that. But yet the child`s uncle, the brother of this woman, was sentenced to three years in prison for the rape of a 12-year- old. He claims it was consensual and she lied about her age. It does essentially being in the company of somebody who`s a convicted sex make you less likely to freak out when you run into another sex offender.

JUDY KURIANSKY, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, this woman, the mother of this poor little girl, as you -- even pointed out, can you follow the story -- is surrounded by sex offenders and dysfunctional people. It tremendously worries me.

And actually I would make a supposition from a psychological point of view that the mother was probably sexually abused herself and she has lost all her ability to make judgments about this. The little girl is not subject to an amber alert because she is with her mother. As you have pointed the out, Jane, there probably should be an unfit mother alert.


KURIANSKY: Because that`s what`s going on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: An unfit mother alert. I love.

More on this furious manhunt when we come back. Save that thought. We`re going to be back in just a second. We`re going to talk a little bit about this ridiculously bad judgment mother`s past, which reportedly includes addiction in a second.



MARY WATSON, GRANDMOTHER OF HAYLEE DONATHAN: I feel something`s happened to them. I don`t know what. I don`t know if he`s hurt my granddaughter or if he`s hurt them both or what. I`m just scared.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The grandmother of missing 4-year-old Haylee Watson says she`s absolutely frightened the little girl may have been hurt by the sex offender who`s believed to be with the child and the child`s mom. It`s outrageous.

Let`s go straight to the phones. Ronald, Florida, your question or thought, sir?

RONALD, FLORIDA (via telephone): Hi, Jane. Thanks for taking my call.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thanks for calling.

RONALD: my question has to do with -- of course what you`re talking about the Haylee Donathan. If George Kennedy (ph) is a tier 3 sex offender, why was he in a halfway house instead of prison? And who`s responsible for that? Who dropped the ball?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, well, it`s Robbie Potter I believe is the name of the person that is being sought. So I think we have a little case confusion there. There`s Robbie Potter.

But yes. Let`s ask this, Tom Ruskin, he`s in a halfway house. He only does three years in jail for everything that he did involving sexual battery of two children and there`s conflicting reports about the ages. But they`re 11 and under.

Why did he only do three years? And then why is he put in a halfway house where he can easily escape?

RUSKIN: I have no idea. I would have put him away for 25 years to life on the first offense of a minor child where he sexually offends. And he`s a Level 3 sex offender. What is the criminal justice system doing to monitor this guy once he`s out of the halfway house? Even if he broke out, what are they doing to catch him?

I don`t understand and I agree with your caller, I don`t understand why he`s not in prison.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Claudette, Ohio, your question or thought, ma`am.

CLAUDETTE, OHIO (via telephone): Yes, thanks for taking my call.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thanks for calling.

CLAUDETTE: I wanted to know if they catch up with -- is the mother going to be charged with endangering her child?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this is a fascinating question, Mark Eiglarsh, because supposedly she can`t really get hit for that much, yet, you know, sort of abetting...

EIGLARSH: Aiding and abetting.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. But I mean shouldn`t she be charged with something a lot more serious given the chaos that she`s created here?

EIGLARSH: It certainly depends on the facts. We don`t know all the facts and we don`t know whether the child is there; whether the child`s been harmed.

I think if you`re going to lean to one side, lean on the right side based on what she`s put everybody through.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Judy Kuriansky, last ten seconds, your thoughts on this.

KURIANSKY: I would be very worried also about the mother and her collusion in everything that`s going on. I think this is a real calling card for being very careful about child abusers and also about the women who get involved with them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. It is a cautionary tale. Thank you, fabulous panel.

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