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New Motive in the Florida Murders?; Debt to Society; New Jackson Developments; Chris Brown Apologizes

Aired July 20, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN ANCHOR: Tonight, a complicated murder mystery unraveling in the execution of a Florida couple dedicated to helping special needs kids. Cops first said the motive for the vicious attack was plain and simple, stealing a safe.

But now they expect to release another motive; this as investigators still hunt for the suspects who failed to disable the security cameras. Which ultimately led to the eight arrests, how deep does this case go?

Then a tidal wave of developments in the Michael Jackson death probe; a senior law enforcement official tells the "LA Times" there will be no murder charges. But some family members aren`t buying it. How can murder be ruled out with the toxicology report still days away? Meantime, Jackson`s mom reportedly brings out the big guns in the battle over her son`s will.

And disgraced NFL star, Michael Vick, is a free man today after serving a 23-month sentence for running a dog-fighting ring. Now the court of public opinion weighs in. Is a permanent ban from the NFL the best way to send a message that dog-fighting is totally unacceptable? We`ll debate it.

Plus, Jon and Kate together? The estranged couple post for pictures in New York City after Jon was spotted carousing with a mystery blond. Is he already on girlfriend number three?

ISSUES starts now.

Breaking news just in, hip-hop star Chris Brown has just publicly apologized on camera for the brutal February beating of Rihanna. I will show you his videotaped apology in just a bit. Is it too little, too late? You be the judge.

But first, a flurry of jaw-dropping new developments tonight in the brutal double murder of Byrd and Melanie Billings, that Florida couple well-known for adopting children with special needs.

Tonight: a brand new report that the alleged organizer of the crime, Leonard Patrick Gonzalez Jr., knew the victims. Byrd Billings reportedly gave Gonzalez money to open up a martial arts studio. Could there be a connection?

Investigators plan to talk to the wife of that alleged mastermind today. The Billings were shot dead after seven men invaded their home in ninja garb, some with masks, as about eight of their children slept nearby. The men also stole a safe.

Initially authorities said robbery was the primary motive. But now the sheriff says he will reveal another motive in the coming days.


SHERIFF DAVID MORGAN, ESCAMBIA COUNTY, FLORIDA: We are very sure as to the additional motives. But right now we just can`t release and the state attorney`s office is not prepared to speak to those issues. We are in a game of high stakes poker at this point with the defense lawyers are coming onboard and the evidence is being processed.

And as I tell folks it`s pretty critical at this phase that we say as close-mouthed at possible.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops arrested eight people in connection with the murders and they plan to make another arrest later this week.

Plus, new reports that the wealthy victims, business owner Byrd Billings had a history of cooking up somewhat bizarre legal schemes. New court documents claims Billings tried to make billions copyrighting his own children`s names allegedly requesting large sums of money when those names we`re used by others. But what, if anything, does that have to do with his tragic murder?

Straight out to my amazing expert panel: Lisa Bloom, a CNN legal analyst; Mark Eiglarsh, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; Mike Gaynor, retired NYPD police detective and president of East Coast Detectives; Brenda Wade, clinical psychologist. Plus, Rob Williams, anchor and morning host at News Radio 1620 in Pensacola, Florida.

Rob, a flurry of new developments just coming in, what is the very latest?

ROB WILLIAMS, ANCHOR & HOST, NEWS RADIO AM 1620 PENSACOLA, FLORIDA: Well, the very latest is this, all this talk about Gonzales Jr. -- Patrick Gonzalez, Jr., saying, oh, I got money from Bud and Melanie Billings to open my Tae Kwon Do studio or Kung Fu Heaven, or whatever he was calling it.

Wait a minute, where did that come from, investigators aren`t talking. Do you think maybe its a little smoke screen from his lawyers? That`s what we`re thinking -- number one.

Number two, also the leak that investigators are looking for a black briefcase taken from the Billings` house. You remember that news conference on Friday, I asked the question to Sheriff David Morgan, what else was taken and he said quote, "We are not prepared to talk about that at this time."

A couple other things, one of the guys is still in a hoosegow up in Brewton, Alabama; that`s just north of Pensacola. He went home and he fled to Alabama. They got an extradition hearing underway for that.

And there is a report unconfirmed that this may have been -- get this now, this may have been a paid hit. The money going to Pat Gonzalez and whatever the other guys could get that was theirs to keep. But of course, the source is a little dicey on this apparently the writer has a -- shall we say -- personal relationship with one of the people in the sheriff`s office.

So you might want to put a few buckets of salt water with that one to verify that. But we`re checking it out anyway -- Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well yes, CNN cannot independently confirm any of those blogs about it possibly being a hit. That falls in the rumor category. But thanks for bringing us up to date Rob Williams.

Lisa Bloom, you heard Rob say that the alleged mastermind is claiming that he knew the victims. That the victims, Byrd Billings ... (END OF CAPTION)

(START OF TRANSCRIPTION) particular, the wealthy businessman gave him money to start his self- defense school.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whatever you want to call it, it`s a karate school. Why would that help them out by admitting that? I don`t see the connection there.

BLOOM: Well, it sounds like no good deed goes unpunished, right Jane?


BLOOM: I mean, you`re the victim, is helping out one of the perpetrators with this small business apparently that he`s trying to get going. But it also smells to me like potential motive, a financial deal gone wrong. Perhaps there was a dispute about it especially with this new information that you`ve just revealed about Byrd Billings being something of an odd Byrd.

And I hate to speak bad of the dead, but trying to get millions of dollars from social services every time they wrote him a letter. Mentioning the kid`s name, he said, "I`ve copyrighted those names; you now owe me millions of dollars." I mean, that`s beyond bizarre.

So maybe this was sort of prickly guy, he got into a financial dispute. Certainly it doesn`t excuse the horrific consequences that occurred to him but it may be an explanation that may give us some idea of the motive.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Brenda Wade, you`re the psychologist. I think the reason why there`s so much speculation is that nobody can understand for a mere motive of a private home why people would train allegedly for more than a month.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Done ninja outfits with masks. It felt personal it felt like it there was more than something that is mere robbery.

WADE: Yes and it also feels crazy...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I`m hearing from the sheriff that they`re going to announce another motive -- continue...

WADE: Yes, it also feels very crazy Jane, when you talk about somebody who had a self-defense studio, somebody who you know has martial arts background it`s almost as if he`s watched too many kung fu movies.


WADE: ...or too many Bruce Lee movies...


WADE: ...or something and has this great fantasy that he had to live out and live out in an incredibly brutal and tragic way. So I see some -- some deranged thinking to be quite honest with you. The whole thing just smacks of grandiosity, of somebody living out a fantasy.

And no matter what went on or whether it was a business deal -- no matter what happened the way it was constructed is so bizarre.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely, I think I heard Mark Eiglarsh`s voice popping out there.

EIGLARSH: Jane that was my voice, you`ve gotten very good after a few weeks.


EIGLARSH: Let me explain -- let me -- for those viewers...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Your voice is just unique and impossible to mistake for anyone else is...

EIGLARSH: God bless you -- yours too Jane. Let me say this -- 14 years of sobriety -- let me say this, for those people who are very concerned that any of these people might escape justice because they have to prove motive. Let me explain -- they do not. It doesn`t matter what type of guy this was -- the victim, it doesn`t matter what the motive was, the elements of the crime have to be proven and nowhere do prosecutors have to say, this is the reason why.

It could be challenging with all this people they each might have had a different reason why they went it. And also there`s times where you just don`t know why they did it. They did it allegedly and if they did, that`s going to be enough for a jury.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the victim`s daughter has spoken out saying her dad was a legitimate ethical businessman. Still with so much speculation about possible motives, the attorney for the Billings family felt compelled to shoot down those rumors about what was in the safe that was stolen from a home during the double murders. Listen to this.


CRYSTAL SPENCER, BILLING`S FAMILY ATTORNEY: As a result of the intense speculations regarding the motive of the crime. I have been authorized to tell you that the safe that was removed from the Billings home contained only children`s prescription, medications, important family documents and some jewelry of sentimental value.

Hopefully, this will put to rest the intent speculation and rumors that are swirling about the Billings family.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It did to a certain extent, but now they`ve sort of reemerged with this bizarre reports that Byrd Billings, according to -- CNN actually that documents released from the Florida Department of Children and Family showed that Byrd Billings allegedly tried to copyright his children`s names -- the children`s name and request money from the department for their use.

A department attorney told the "Pensacola News Journal" that every time the agency send Billings a letter referencing the children by name he would reply with an invoice demanding millions of dollars in copyright infringement.

What do you make of that Mike?

MIKE GAYNOR, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: Are you talking to Mike Gaynor?


GAYNOR: Ok, well I don`t make too much of it because I understand he didn`t get too far with that. And I don`t know that it would have any relationship to the homicide at all.

WADE: Well Jane, let me just say it sounds as if he had a beef with the Social Services Department and it sounds a little bit like I`m going to stick one in your eye and who knows. I do know that because they had so many adopted children he probably had a stock of paperwork a mile high. And this may have been of his way of saying, I`m really irritated and annoyed. I don`t know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think you make a very good point that this could have been something personal between him and the Department of Children and Family.

Lisa Bloom, if there is another motive, why don`t the police and this sheriff, why don`t they just come out and say it because the speculation is just growing with every passing minute?

BLOOM: Well, I think they have a very good reason Jane, they need to just play their cards close to the vest because they`re still interrogating all of these suspects. And I think what they`re trying to do is to get some of them to flip.

You know first in, first out, who ever makes the deal first, they`re going to get the lightest sentence so they need to keep some information private so that they can use this in these interrogations.


All right, stay right there. The more we learn about this brutal case, the more unbelievable it becomes. Give me a holler, 1-877-JVM-SAYS; 1-877-586- 7297, weigh in.

And the Michael Jackson death probe takes a surprising turn. We will tell you why one source things us there will be no -- no murder charges.

Plus, Chris Brown stuns the world releasing a video apology for the Rihanna beating. We will show you the jaw-dropping video up next. Here is a preview.


CHRIS BROWN, SINGER: I told you countless times and I`m telling you today, that I am truly, truly sorry and that I wasn`t able to handle the situation both differently and better.




ASHLEY MARKHAM, VICTIMS` DAUGHTER: They have asked --we have shielded them as much as possible and that is probably my fault. I know that they need to know.

They have asked questions. It has been talked about with the ones who have asked questions.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The daughter of Melanie and Byrd Billings talks about the many children left behind after the brutal double murder of her parents.

Nine kids were at home during this bizarre home invasion killing spree. Three of them reportedly saw the intruders. One courageous child snuck away to call 911 from a neighbor`s home.

Now the Billings` 26-year-old daughter Ashley Markham plans to move back to the scene of the crime and take care of the many orphaned siblings. That as the investigation continues into the motive behind this bizarre team of men who allegedly practiced and rehearsed this home invasion which they carried out in ninja outfits.

It is beyond comprehension. It`s just too weird.

The phone lines are lighting up. Kelly in Florida your question or thought.

KELLY, FLORIDA (via telephone): My question was


(START OF TRANSCRIPTION) where are the kids going to be living now that they`re parents aren`t here but you kind of just answered it. The daughter`s going to be moving in?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. But Brenda Wade, she`s 26 years old and now she`s got to move back to the scene of the crime.

WADE: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They`ve changed the doors. They`ve changed the locks. They`ve changed some of the carpet. But can they erase the memories?

WADE: Absolutely not, Jane. And I think this is a lot for a 26-year-old to take on. And bless her for having a big heart and trying to do the right thing. But she is going to need a tremendous amount of support -- number one -- just to deal with the traumatic loss of her parents, as are her sisters and brothers.

Never mind all the help and support they`re going to need to manage day to day life. When you`re a 26-year-old and you`re suddenly becoming the parent of 9 children, that`s an impossible task. And I do hope there`s some older family members who will step up or people in the community who`ll step up to help her and help these kids.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And it`s such a tragedy and that`s one of the reasons why it`s so difficult to talk about it. You have these rumors that are swirling about, "Well, it`s a bigger story than just a robbery and now they knew each other," the alleged mastermind and the victims.

And we certainly -- as you said Lisa Bloom -- don`t want to speak ill of the dead. But what do you make of the fact that authorities are saying they want to talk to the person who was supposed to be the one who turned off the security system, the video system, and failed to do so.

Why do you think they`re having such a hard time finding that person since essentially he betrayed all the others and you`d think that those people who are betrayed would hand him over on a silver platter?

BLOOM: That`s right. Well I think they`re trying to get some of these guys to flip. When you have 8 defendants, you really have a bonanza as a police investigator because you know that at least one is going to flip. And probably a large number of them are.

They`re going to start turning on each other. They`re going to start singing like canaries and they`re going to get a gold mine of information if only they can start. If only they can get one person to start talking.

That`s what happened in the O.J. Simpson case, for example, all those co- conspirators in Las Vegas started turning on each other. And pretty soon it was just O.J. and one other guy left at the defense table and they got their conviction against the head honcho which was O.J. Simpson.

EIGLARSH: Jane -- Lisa...

BLOOM: That`s what`s going to happen here.

EIGLARSH: Lisa`s right and I know that it already has because at the bond hearing of Gonzalez Sr. it was the prosecutor who passionately was saying, "Judge, leave the bond at $250,000." It`s because he was cooperating. The yanked it up to $500,000.

So it`s already happening. We know they`re getting information. They`re all -- as Lisa said earlier -- trying to get first through the door. Those who jumped through the door first are the ones who`re going to get the best deal on this case.

WADE: It`s that old saying, Jane, there`s no honor among thieves.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Exactly. Now, let`s talk about the...

WILLIAMS: That`s right, Jane -- don`t forget, Jane. Don`t forget Sheriff David Morgan said upfront, "This was going to be a humdinger."


WILLIAMS: I think we`re only a couple, maybe three chapters into this book so far. And there is a late word as no word on a 9th, 10th or 11th suspect or the next person of interest. They did talk, of course, to Gonzalez Jr.`s wife today -- I think here name is Tabitha -- they did talk to her but not sure were she fits in the big scheme of things, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, what about the search warrant affidavit that was just released today that says that they`re looking for a black briefcase that belonged to the victim. The "Pensacola News Journal" is reporting they found that black briefcase; nothing of value inside it.

It also talks about seeking a small safe. Is this another safe? Because we know they found a safe, Rob Williams, in the backyard of a woman who was accused of being an accessory after the fact; a friend of Gonzalez, Jr.?

WILLIAMS: I was in her -- I was not in her backyard -- I was at her house over the weekend. Saw the pile of bricks where it was all buried.

In fact, I went out to the Billings house after that and I have to tell you, things were getting back to normal pretty quick. There were kids in the pool, kids in the backyard. At least a dozen cars in the driveway -- family and friends -- they`re getting an awful lot of support. Ashley Markham and her husband and the whole family is coalescing around -- well, around the group of kids to help them get back to normal.

So that`s -- that will be the answer to that question right there.

In terms of that black briefcase, who knows? Remember, David Morgan dodged the question, "What else was taken?" He didn`t answer it on Friday. Maybe he`ll have an answer sometime soon for that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but it just seems Mike Gaynor that they keep looking for something of value. They found a safe -- it turned there was only the kids` medical records and some family items in there, no money. That was the stolen safe. They find this black briefcase -- we`re hearing from the "Pensacola News Journal" nothing of value.

Could it be -- and I`ve said it before -- the stupid factor gone tragic? That this people assumed, big house, big pool, a businessman with all these various business -- he`s got to have loads of cash in his house.

WADE: Well, Jane you can say it was the stupid factor...

MIKE GAYNOR: I think you hit it right on the head, Jane.

WADE: ...but we`re going to have to add the crazy factor right along with the stupid factor because this is so bizarre and deranged in the way it was thought out.

GAYNOR: Let there be no doubt though, Jane, that these people did not go in there thinking there was nothing inside of value to find.


They all went in there thinking that they were going to get rich. Not just a couple of bucks but get rich. What they found, we don`t know yet.

BLOOM: What we know from all that practicing is premeditation. This is a premeditated murder which means murder one, which means long sentences for everybody involved unless they flip early and get a sweet deal.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`re going to have to see what happens. Thank you, brilliant analysis, great panel.

Disgraced NFL star, Michael Vick, finishes his sentence for running a dog- fighting ring. Now he has to face the court of public opinion. Should he be able to play football again?

And a stunning development in the Michael Jackson case.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, disgraced ex-NFL star Michael Vick is done with his 23-month sentence for operating an illegal dog-fighting and gambling ring. The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback spent 18 months in the slammer and the last few under home confinement. Vick was once one of the NFL`s highest paid players with a ten-year $130-million contract. But in his spare time he king-pinned an operation that sadistically tortured innocent dogs.

You are looking at generic dog fighting video. It is actually a whole lot worse than that. The dogs almost always fight to the death.

Here is what Vick said about his brutal crime.


MICHAEL VICK, NFL PLAYER: What I did was very immature so that means I need to grow up. As I move forward to a better Michael Vick person, not the football player.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But now that his sentence is complete, could Vick have another shot at the NFL? The commissioner Roger Goodell had suspended Vick, but has now agreed to meet with him to see if he`s really changed.

But who`s speaking for the voiceless animals? With me Jane Garrison, a well-know animal protection advocate.

Jane, Michael Vick has served his sentence, but do we have evidence that he has actually changed? Should he have a chance at this particular juncture to go back ...



... to the NFL and earn millions of dollars again?

JANE GARRISON, ANIMAL PROTECTION ADVOCATE: Well, you know Jane, in a perfect world, not only should Michael Vick not be allowed to play in the NFL again, but in a perfect world, he should still be in jail for the torture that he put those dogs through.

At minimum, he needs to go through an extensive psychological evaluation. Let`s not forget that Michael Vick did not stop fighting dogs because he thought it was wrong. He stopped fighting dogs because he got caught.

If they decide to let him play again, what they should do is they should require that he donate a large percentage of his income to funding anti- dog-fighting campaigns around the country.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michael Vick brutally tortured dogs, forcing them to fight each other to the death. You`re not really seeing dog-fighting. You`re seeing two dogs looking at each other before the fight. He also sadistically killed them.

I want to read to you from the indictment against Vick and his three co- defendants known as Peace, Phillips and Taylor. In the documents in March 2003, Peace consulted with Vick before he, quote, "executed the losing dog by wetting the dog down with water and electrocuting the animal." That`s clearly sadistic.

It gets worse. Quote, "Peace, Phillips and Vick executed approximately 8 dogs that did not perform well in "testing" sessions at this location by various methods, including hanging, drowning, and slamming at least one dog`s body to the ground."

So essentially this was no momentary lapse in judgment, this was a long- running, well-organized criminal enterprise. You know, if we let him back in, what kind of message does that send to the millions of young boys who emulate sports stars?

GARRISON: Jane, this sends a horrible message. Our youth idolize these players. It sends a message that what he did was ok.

The statement that you played, Michael Vick blamed this on being immature. We`ve all been immature at one point in our lives but we didn`t torture animals; drowning them, electrocuting them, hanging them. Taking peoples` family pets and throwing them into a ring with fighting pitbulls, this is not immature behavior. This is sadistic and demented.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I think that at the very least, there has to be some kind of counseling that he undergoes to try to understand why he did this and that`s not an event -- that`s a process that takes some time.

I believe everybody is capable of redemption but it takes time.

Jane thank you so much.

The law enforcement officials say no murder charges expected in Michael Jackson`s death. How will that change the investigation? We`ll tell you.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: A tidal wave of developments in the Michael Jackson death probe. A senior law enforcement official tells the "L.A. Times" there will be no murder charges. How can murder be ruled out with the toxicology reports still days away?

Plus, Jon and Kate together? The estranged couple pose for pictures in New York City after Jon was spotted carousing with a mystery blond. Is he already on girlfriend number three?

Tonight, we are bracing for the next clash in the Michael Jackson death probe as cops drop a bombshell about the investigation. And a tug-of-war over custody of Michael`s 3 kids takes a new twist.

An anonymous law enforcement source is on the record with the "Los Angeles Times" saying, quote, there is nothing I have been told that would suggest a murder charge. It is just so remote and so unsupported by the facts," end quote. Oh really?

That statement sharply conflicts with Joe Jackson`s foul-play theory. And now, sister LaToya`s explosive accusation made to TMZ.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: LaToya, do you still believe in a conspiracy?

LATOYA JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON`S SISTER: It was murder. I think someone did it. That is my opinion.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: TMZ, for its part, standing by its report that the LAPD is treating Michael`s death as a homicide. Could they both be right? Could involuntary manslaughter be the ultimate conclusion? The upcoming toxicology report obviously crucial.

Meantime, remember the custody hearing we were supposed to have today? It has been postponed again, this time until August 3rd.

In the wake of rumors that Debbie Rowe and Michael`s mom Katherine are making some sort of backroom deal, superstar attorney, Tom Mesereau, a friend of this show who has successfully defended Jackson against sexual molestation charges is now weighing in.


TOM MESEREAU, FORMER JACKSON ATTORNEY: I hope Katherine, you know, prevails because she`s very spiritual and very kind, a very wonderful woman. Debbie Rowe just survived (ph) his trial and she was very, very pro Michael and very nice to us. I have nothing against her at all.

But, I think Katherine is a wonderful spiritual, delightful woman. I hope they all work it out without litigation.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that is a very wise man right there. But what about Janet Jackson? "Ok Magazine" reports that the kids want Janet to raise them and that the feeling is mutual?

A whole lot of drama to discuss including a possible war over Michael`s will.

Straight to my fabulous panel: Mark Eiglarsh, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; April Woodard, host and anchor on BET; and Stuart Backerman, Michael`s Jackson`s spokesman from 2002 to 2004.

And we begin with Jim Moret, attorney and chief correspondent for "Inside Edition." Jim, today was supposed to be that big custody hearing we were all waiting for. What happened to delay it again? And what do you think is going on behind the scenes?

JIM MORET, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": I think, I was at the first hearing and this judge was very clear with all of the attorneys.

He said, "Look, you can come in and fight in court and I will decide. What I would rather happen, is for you to make a decision, bring it to me, and let me approve or deny it.

I think that is what is happening. I think it is in the best interest of the children and the families if they can work this out together amicably so that this isn`t a battle and it isn`t long and lengthy and blood.

I think that is what is happening behind the scenes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So it`s counter-intuitive even though we are kind of frustrated by delay after delay, it might actually be a good thing for the kids. That`s good news.

Today was supposed to be the big custody face-off, as we`ve been saying, between Debbie Rowe possibly and Katherine Jackson. That has now been moved to August 3rd.

But a new story coming to light in "OK magazine" has sister, Janet, as a major player; someone emerging as a potential guardian.

For evidence of her bond with the children, let`s take a close look at Paris Jackson`s tearful speech at Michael`s memorial.


PARIS JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON`S DAUGHTER: Ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine. And I just want to say I love him so much.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Just look at the way Paris takes to Janet, like a magnet. That is pretty darn touching.

April `, you have interacted with Janet many, many times. I was fascinated to read that when you were both teenagers you taught her how to do the steps to Michael Jackson`s "Beat It."

APRIL WOODARD, HOST AND ANCHOR, BET: Yes, I was stunned but she didn`t know. Everyone in the world, of course, knew how to do the steps to "Beat It" but Janet didn`t and I had to show her. That was a great opportunity as a teen-ager. And I have seen her over the years and talked to her one- on-one on the Red Carpet.

The interesting thing about this was there was an article in the "Enquirer" -- I know it`s the "Enquirer" but sometimes they get things right. In February that said that Michael was asking her, begging and pleading with her that if anything happens to him that she would take over and take custody of these kids. What a coincidence if it`s true.

It`s possible now that Janet could be taking on a motherly role; a role in 2006 when she talked to "People" Magazine she said she was ready for when she was dating Germane Dupree. Now they`ve broken up but she still could be ready for motherhood.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Stuart Backerman, you were the spokesman for Michael Jackson for 2 years -- crucial years, 2002 to 2004. why do you think, in that will, he said if anything happened to Katherine, Diana Ross should be the guardian of the children?

STUART BACKERMAN, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR MICHAEL JACKSON: Well, to tell you the truth, I don`t really take that too seriously from the point of view that Katherine is very well suited. Michael felt that Katherine was the best person to take of his children because there was a lot of continuity there.

Remember, over time, Katherine was the person that the children went to. Michael was very close to his mother. And I think that she really is the perfect person to kind of lead the way.

I think the extended family, Tito`s children and Tito himself frankly are very close with Michael. I think Janet has been mentioned. And the extended family, in general, I think provides tremendous support.

But Katherine is the stability in the family and provides the continuity for the kids because they`ve been there with her all along.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Mark Eiglarsh, could the judge fashion something that make everybody except perhaps Debbie Rowe happy. In other words, say, "Technically you`re the guardian, Katherine. But we want to make sure that Janet and the other siblings are involved." Because let`s remember Katherine`s 79 years old?

MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He can. But what he`s doing is he`s trying like a good judge to avoid making the final decision. Work it out amongst yourselves and he`ll delay this as long as possible to ensure that all the parties get together and come up with something amicably.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me talk, Jim Moret, about this law enforcement source that spoke to the "L.A. Times" saying, quote, "There`s nothing I have been told that would suggest a murder charge. It`s just so remote and unsupported by the facts as they`ve been gathered."

That seems quite shocking to me given that we`ve heard so many reports from various sources that while they`re treating this as a homicide investigation and they`re honing in on the prescriptions and who wrote them.

MORET: It`s not inconsistent though if you really think about it. There are other charges of homicide, involuntary manslaughter; you can have some form of criminal negligence. It doesn`t have to be second or first degree murder.

And this person wasn`t ruling out that. If you keep reading in the "Times" they even mentioned involuntary manslaughter.

And if you look at the Anna Nicole case, that`s a case of conspiracy and drugs. That death happened outside of California; this happened here.

This case is different though. I`ll tell you why; because of the Propofol, the Diprivan. You can`t give it to yourself. A doctor, basically, has to give it to you. So there`s a link, an active link, where somebody could be implicated.


MORET: I`m not suggesting that`s what`s going to happen but it`s possible.


EIGLARSH: For sure, we are going to be seeing arrests for doctors who prescribed medication in his pseudonyms. He sent out these people to get drugs and I counted at least 5 different names. You can`t do that. You could check into a spa under a different name. You can make reservations under a different name, but you can`t circumvent the rules -- the federal and state rules -- that require you to get powerful medications in your own name.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: April, with all of Michael Jackson`s millions of fans, does this boil down to some state medical board yanking a doctor of licenses as opposed to more serious charges? Do you think fans will be outraged?

WOODARD: I think if they don`t have criminal charges, I think fans will be outraged. I think being that we`ve had Nicole -- Anna Nicole`s situation and now a Michael Jackson situation -- all of these celebrities getting these drugs from these doctors. I think that we have to set a precedent and really put our foot down.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I mean, quite clearly, I would think that the Diprivan difference is what`s really going to make this different from the Anna Nicole Smith case. Yes, that was a drug cocktail there but hypothetically, Stuart Backerman, she could have consumed those drugs herself. You cannot physically administer -- as Jim Moret mentioned -- Diprivan to yourself because it knocks you out instantly.

BACKERMAN: No question about that obviously. It`s a serious situation of great concern. However, people have to remember, Michael was a troubled soul at that point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So what? That doesn`t mean -- just because you give Diprivan to a troubled soul doesn`t mean that you`re doing it legally. You know, the law is the law but...

BACKERMAN: No question about it that there was negligence in some fashion but when you`re a celebrity like Michael Jackson and you demand something, you often get it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, well I want to thank my fabulous panel for wonderful insights. Obviously, we`re going to be staying on top of this one.

Addiction is a chronic illness in America. And in my new book, "I Want" I lay out my own personal battle with the disease and my road to sobriety. It`s a recovery memoir due out this fall. You can pre-order your copy right now. Just click on and look for the pre-order section. It`s my very personal story and there are some things in it that will surprise you.

Up next on ISSUES, Jon and Kate link up in New York City but not before Jon was spotted with yet another blond beauty. Is the newly-single bachelor trying to make Kate jealous? Or is the poor guy just trying to find love again? What`s going on?


And Chris Brown releases an apology video for what he calls the incident with Rihanna. Is it too little, too late? We`re going to play you the clip and get your feed back.

Give me a holler, 1-877-JVM-SAYS; 1-877-586-7297 give me your take.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Pop star, Chris Brown, making a very public apology for beating up his ex, Rihanna. His lawyers said it was ok to take responsibility. Now, that in moments.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight: Jon and Kate Gosselin are back together but just for a promo shoot for their reality show. Jon Gosselin and his estranged wife, Kate, and their 8 kids were in New York City at TLC Studios to get ready for the new season of their reality show, "Jon & Kate plus 8". But how real is this show actually going to be?

Will it show Jon gallivanting across the globe with 22-year-old girlfriend Hayley Glassman? The two just got back from a romantic trip to the south of France.

But just days later, Jon was photographed out on the town with another Kate, Kate Major, a reporter for "Star Magazine" -- now she says they are just friends.

It looks like the laid-back dad of eight has some free time on his hands. But I`m sure TLC hopes it means more ratings gold. But will they tell the truth on the show? The whole truth? And nothing but the truth? I guess we`re going to have to watch to find out.

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

Turning now to another drama playing out in the public eye; pop star, Chris Brown, apologizes to Rihanna and his fans.



Only a month ago, Chris Brown pled guilty to felony assault charges stemming from the February 8 beating that left pop princess Rihanna battered and bloody. Police reports say Brown repeatedly punched Rihanna, bit her and choked her.

Brown unexpectedly released an apology on his Web site and YouTube today.


BROWN: Hi, I`m Chris Brown. Since February, my attorney has advised me not to speak up even though I was supposed to answer that. I wanted to publicly express my deepest regret and accept full responsibility.

Although I would do some interviews and answer some questions in the future, I thought it was time that you heard directly from me that I am sorry.

I have tried to live my life in a way which can make those around me proud of me. And until recently I think I was doing a pretty good job. I wish I had the chance to live those few moments again. But unfortunately I can`t.

I have told Rihanna countless times that I`m telling you today that I`m truly, truly sorry and that I wasn`t able to handle the situation both differently and better.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I probably heard "I`m sorry." Brown`s plea deal gave him 180 days of community service, 5 years probation, court-ordered domestic violence counseling and he`s also ordered to stay 50 feet away from his victim Rihanna, unless of course they`re at the same event in Hollywood, then the rules change a little bit.

But was this apology too little, too late? Can this young man change?

Of course he can.

Straight out to my fantastic panel: Carlos Diaz, correspondent for "Extra;" Brenda Wade, clinical psychologist; and A.J. Hammer, I`m so delighted to have the host of "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" here tonight.

A.J. what do we know about this video? Why now?

A.J. HAMMER, HLN HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": Well, he had to wait obviously until his lawyers gave him the ok to do this. Any releasing of a video like this or a public apology for beating Rihanna before they had struck a plea deal would have been an admission of guilt.

So he wanted to put this out there as best we know just to say to the world, "I`m sorry." He had to do something.

Why did he wait a month? There`s a lot of speculation about that. There`s the idea that he wanted to get away from the criminality of the trial, spend some time. And then of course, the Michael Jackson death happened and that was heavy in the news cycle. He`d released this on a Monday and now it`s getting all this play.

I have to tell you though, Jane, my opinion here is it`s sort of a no-win situation putting out a video like this. I`m looking at this right now and all I see is a guy who`s reading a script. He had a lot of points, a lot of talking points to get through, so of course he`s going to have to read it.

I sit here though wondering how many takes did this take? How contrite is he really? I don`t get that feeling from watching this.

What I`m now waiting to see Jane, is him go on a talk show, him speak one on one from the heart, away from any talking points. Really let the world know how he truly feels.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think that`s interesting.

Carlos Diaz, why didn`t he do this let`s say on Oprah or one of the other big shows? Dr. Phil, whatever.

CARLOS DIAZ, "EXTRA": Well, first up, I agree with everything A.J. just said. And adding to what A.J. just said is that point, I think he threw this out there first. To say here`s two minutes of me being contrite, me being apologetic and that kind of opens the doors for going on Jay Leno`s new show at 10:00; maybe open the new season with that. That`s your big get, Chris Brown apologizing.

So, you throw this out there first. And then you do the talk show circuit and maybe this is kind of a rehearsal for that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And Chris Brown addressed his own experience with domestic violence in his apology video on YouTube. I thought this was the most interesting part.

Listen to this.


BROWN: As many of you know, I grew up in a home where there was domestic violence. And I saw first hand what uncontrolled rage could do. I sought and I`m continuing to seek help to ensure that what occurred in February can never happen again.

And as I sit here today, I can tell you that I would do everything in my power to make sure that it never happens again. And I promise that.

What I did was unacceptable, 100 percent. I can only ask and pray that you forgive me please.

I hope that others learn from my mistake. I intend to live my life so that I`m truly of the term role model.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Brenda Wade, as a psychologist -- I`m not a psychologist but I was moved by that because I know from reading about it that if you grow up in a house where there`s domestic violence, you`re almost programmed to do it unless you get intervention.

BRENDA WADE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: That`s right Jane. And every one of us has some sort of love pattern that we learn growing. Some people have a "love isn`t safe" pattern, some have an "I can`t get enough love" pattern so they`re dependent.

In his case he has a "love equals pain and rage." And I`m so glad he used the word rage, not anger because rage is very different. Rage is the out of control, I can`t stop myself. It`s almost a compulsive kind of feeling where the brain has been hijacked and that is definitely what happened.

What disturbed is, I really think that this was a watered-down apology. I`m sorry, I really felt that earlier when A.J. was saying that it was rehearsed. Yes, it was rehearsed, definitely that came across.

I hope he means it. And I hope he will be a role model.

But Jane what that`s going to take is it`s going to take a lot of intensive work on the trauma that he absorbed as a child that made him act out in this terrible violent way towards this young woman.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I just -- looking at it, I didn`t think it was entirely spin. I thought that there was some genuine contrition there. And I do believe that he`s doing at least the right steps.

WADE: It is the right step.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s court-ordered but he`s getting...

WADE: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...domestic violence counseling and that`s so important.

Panel, stay right there.

Don`t forget you can catch A.J. Hammer on "Showbiz Tonight" 11 p.m., Eastern. He`ll have the latest on the Chris Brown saga, and more Jon and Kate drama.

We`re going to have more on the Brown saga.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your attorney has advised the court that you wish to enter a plea of guilty to that charge. Is that correct?

BROWN: Yes, ma`am.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Chris Brown copped a plea to felony assault charges stemming from the February 8th beating of pop princess Rihanna. He didn`t spend a single day in jail. Today he is apologizing on camera. Is it too little, too late?

Phone lines lighting up with opinions on that. Tracy Nicole of Florida, your question or thought, ma`am?

TRACY NICOLE, FLORIDA (via telephone): Hi.


TRACY NICOLE: My comment is that I believe that Chris Brown is a very talented and gifted young adult. And I think he deserves an opportunity. It`s very unfortunate what happened in his personal life being that he`s under such a high profile relationship with another young adult.

And I just feel that he deserves the opportunity to re-dignify himself. He`s not a 45-year-old man that`s been through many cases in his appearances. And I just think that he`s very gifted. He has a lot more to show the world. And I think we should all give him that opportunity.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, thank you very much for calling, ma`am. And Carlos Diaz, certainly that is one side of the coin.

The other is when you read the search warrant affidavit -- some of the details like quote, "He punched her in the left eye with his right hand and he then drove away the vehicle and continued to punch her in the face with his right hand while steering the vehicle with his left hand.

The assault causes Robyn Eppes (ph), which her real name, mouth



... to fill with blood and blood spotter all over her clothing and the interior of the vehicle. It`s brings you back to what people were originally...

DIAZ: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... upset about.

WADE: Right.

DIAZ: Well Jane, I was the person that said over and over again that his career is done. I mean, when it happened -- I`m like he is done -- he`s out of -- no, there is no chance.

But you know what, watching this video to today, if he can keep misdemeanor going for the next -- and I`m talking years to -- the next few years keep this kind of timid demeanor going -- I think he`s got a shot, because he does have talent.

He is a very good singer and performer.

HAMMER: Yes and he should be given the opportunity Jane, to redeem himself like the caller said. I don`t think there`s anybody who will disqualify that but at the same time you bring up a very good point.

And I think it always needs to remain a part of his story. He beat Rihanna to a pulp, he pleaded guilty to doing that, he needs to be watched.

And also allow the chance to do what he has to do to rebuild his career. Be contrite about it but -- but as the doctor will tell you -- a pattern that we`ve come to learn about in covering this story is domestic abusers...

WADE: Right.

HAMMER: ...who will apologize and then they`ll do it again.

WADE: And do it again and again and again and again and it is important Jane, for him to also at some point talk about how horrible it was that he did this to Rihanna. And I want everyone to learn how to love better because we can change.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Love better, I love it.

You`re watching ISSUES.