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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Could Gym Shooting Have Been Avoided?; Governor`s Wife Moves Out but Sends Mixed Signals; Victims` Family Fights Back; Kate Gosselin Speaks Out; "Paris is My Daughter"
Aired August 10, 2009 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight gut-wrenching new details in the Pittsburgh gym executions. We`re now finding out this woman-hating gunman was reported to police a week before the killings. Witnesses say this monster took out a hand grenade while riding on a public bus. Cops questioned him, but they couldn`t hold him on any charges. Could this massacre have been avoided?
And enough is enough. Seven weeks after the governor of South Carolina was forced to admit cheating on his wife with an Argentinean mistress he calls his soul mate, the first lady and his kids have moved out of the governor`s mansion. So why the change of heart? And why is she still fulfilling her duties as first lady?
Also, victimized again. The family who lost their father and grandfather in the New York drunk driving accident is speaking out. They have harsh words for the driver`s husband, who`s had his own DUI. They`re not buying the fact that this, quote, "perfect wife" wasn`t drunk and high when she drove the wrong way down a highway. Is there a parallel with the death of pitch man Billy Mays, whose family is outraged that his autopsy was released, showing cocaine in his system?
Plus seismic developments in the Michael Jackson custody case. In a page right out of the Anna Nicole Smith baby daddy saga, another man has thrown this name in the ring as a possible father to Jackson`s kids. The former British child`s star says he`s willing to take a paternity test to prove he is Paris`s father. He thinks there`s an uncanny resemblance. Do you?
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Heart-stopping developments tonight in the Pittsburgh gym massacre that left three women dead and nine other women injured. Stunning new reports say the now dead shooter, woman hater George Sodini, was questioned and released by authorities just days earlier. That after allegedly taking a hand grenade onto a public bus and showing it off.
Forty-eight-year-old George Sodini was let go by police because he denied the accusation, and cops could not confirm it was him. The public reports say that authorities found writing inside his home about this incident. He apparently wrote in one of his diaries, "Don`t worry; it was a false grenade."
A witness said a man fitting Sodini`s description pulled a hand grenade out of a computer bag and asked the person next to him if he wanted to hold it. It all raises the question: could authorities have captured this killer earlier and prevented this horrific massacre of women by this woman-hating nut job?
The incident brings up new questions about this killer. Did he flash a grenade to get attention? George Sodini had discussed his intense loneliness and isolation in a clip he posted on YouTube.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE SODINI, GYM SHOOTER: It is easy for me to hide from my emotions for one more day. Take a long drive in the car, listen to some music, daydream or do some task around the house that doesn`t need to be done that is not too important. And there you go, one more day and one more day turns into one more year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Should somebody have noticed Sodini`s odd behavior earlier? Is there anyone the victims` families can sue over this? Or was there really no way to determine that he was such a colossal threat?
I want to hear what you think about this whack job and this latest jaw-dropping twist.
Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: Tom Ruskin, former NYPD detective and president of Protective and Investigative Group; Belisa Vranich, clinical psychologist. Wow do we need one tonight. Mark Eiglarsh, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; Bradford Cohen, criminal defense attorney; Pat Brown, criminal profiler and CEO of Pat Brown Criminal Profiling Agency.
Tom Ruskin, I have to start with you. You just heard the facts laid out. Did cops drop the ball by not saying, "Hey, this is a hand grenade"? We`re not talking about a bubble gym wrapper he dropped littering. We`re talking about a guy who got on the bus with a hand grenade in a post 9/11 world. Did they drop the ball by not following it all the way to his home, where they would have found that diary entry, perhaps?
TOM RUSKIN, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: I don`t think there`s anyone who had reasonable grounds to go into the house.
No, I think the public dropped the ball. I think if you see someone on a bus with a grenade, you have the obligation, not only to call the police but to be there and say, "That`s the guy who I saw with the grenade" and point him out and finger him and have the police then arrest him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait. Now, Mark Eiglarsh, somebody did call authorities. That`s how they finally tracked him down a couple of days later. But they couldn`t positively identify him. They couldn`t say, "Yes, 100 percent for sure, that`s the guy."
Now listen, once again, we live think a post-9/11 world. Had this man maybe fit a profile, maybe if he had been, let`s say, and I`ll be a little provocative here, Middle Eastern and he had gotten onto a bus with a hand grenade, do you think they would have done something differently?
MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, I commend law enforcement. In this case -- I`m very critical of law enforcement as a defense attorney. In this particular case, they did everything that they probably could. They had a guy who called up. It was after -- it was a couple of hours after. So when law enforcement did everything they could. They looked for the guy. They found someone. He couldn`t say for sure that`s the guy. End of story. That`s it. You need probable cause. You need probable cause to make an arrest, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t believe end of story. Somebody out there in that panel agree with me.
EIGLARSH: Jane, it`s called the Constitution darling. You need something more than a hunch.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes. Well, let me tell you this. When Pennsylvania Port Authority officials responded to allegations that George Sodini allegedly took a hand grenade onto a public bus and showed it off just days before the Pennsylvania shooting, here is what the spokesman had to say. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM RITCHIE, PENNSYLVANIA PORT AUTHORITY SPOKESMAN: The person said that he pulled the grenade out of what looked like a computer laptop bag, and he started playing with it in the sands. There was nothing we could hold him on. He didn`t have anything illegal on him. There was no grenade at the time. He didn`t even have a parking ticket to his name.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. So cops let him go because he denied the accusation, and the witness couldn`t say for sure it was him. Now, compare that reaction from authorities to the recent incident at LaGuardia Airport. On August 1, a man walked into LaGuardia Airport with what looked like a realistic-looking bomb device. He was tackled by a hero cop. I`m a big fan of cops here. You know, I`m not trying to criticize cops, but I`m pointing out the difference. Turns out that was a fake bomb to scare...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: They shut down the entire airport until the wee hours.
RUSKIN: Had there been a cop on that bus he would have tackled him, and you would have had a second hero cop.
EIGLARSH: Apples to oranges. Come on, Jane.
PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Yes, and I`m entirely in agreement with that. Because this man on the bus, who saw this, should have run up to the front of the bus, notified the bus driver. He could have called 911 immediately. They should have stopped the bus. If that`s what they -- if he really believed it was a hand grenade.
But the problem was he let it go for too long. By the time the police got to it, it cannot -- if he`s no proof that he`s got no hand grenade, that man just didn`t see something that looked like one, thought it was one, couldn`t even identify the man, what are they supposed to do? They cannot do -- I also commend the police. I think they did more than we would normally see. That they tracked this man down and did all that work instead of just going, "Oh, come on. That guy -- if he was really serious he would have called us right away."
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m going to try one more time. Bradford Cohen, do you think if he had brought a grenade into the airport, do you really think they would have said, "Well, you know, it`s been a couple of hours. We can`t say for sure if it`s you. We`re going to let you go."
BRADFORD COHEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think it`s a completely different situation. What you`re comparing it to is where the police officer actually saw something that looked like a bomb and tackled that individual.
In this case that we`re discussing here, is this guy said that he saw something that looked like a grenade. He reported it to the police. The police pulled him up.
I mean, the thing is, this guy has no priors. There was nothing to go on. There was nothing to go further on. I mean what were they going to do, follow him to his house and say, "Hey, can we take a look inside your house, even though we don`t -- this guy can`t even recognize you?" I mean, they went as far as they could go with this.
What the citizen should have done was exactly what the other panel member said, is reported it immediately to the bus driver and said, "Hey, this guy said that this individual rode the bus two or three times with him a week, every week or something like that. I find it hard to believe that he wouldn`t be able to recognize...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But this is the kind of guy who just blends into a crowd. He`s a hard guy to pick out of a line up.
COHEN: I don`t think so.
RUSKIN: What we`re forgetting is this guy also worked for a law firm. So you always face the possibility of a suit against police for overstepping their bounds, which we criticize them for all the time.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, speaking of lawsuits, do the -- do the families of the victims that he killed and maimed have losses against anybody?
EIGLARSH: Absolutely not. Jane, come on. Jane, you really want something to be here. It is nothing. Police did everything they could. When they say, "Is this the guy?" and he says, "I have no idea," you went them to strip the guy of his liberty, thrown him in jail when you don`t even have a positive I.D.? That case would go nowhere. There`d be lawsuits against the police.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, well maybe if they went to his house they would find the diary notes and would bring the reporter (ph) in there.
EIGLARSH: How would they...
RUSKIN: Jane, they have no rights to go into that house.
EIGLARSH: Jane -- Jane, it`s the 4th amendment. You`re violating all the constitutional rights here. They can`t just go into somebody`s house.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think you go to the judge and say, "I have probable cause to believe this guy had a hand grenade."
EIGLARSH: No. No. Never going to happen.
RUSKIN: The judge is never going to sign that search warrant.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Darieth Chisolm, what would they have found had they got into his home?
DARIETH CHISOLM, WPXI: Quite possibly suddenly more information leading to information to support all of this. Or course police found the note that he had written about having been involved on the bus with the grenade after the fact. Had they been able to search his home prior to that, they certainly would have found more information.
The question tonight of course is whether or not, if he had been arrested at the time, assuming they found the grenade or more information supporting these claims, they might have prevented this. Of course, no one knows that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I mean, in the community, what`s the mood? Is there a sense of people pulling their hair out: "Oh, we came so close to stopping them"? It didn`t happen. I think it`s a yes or no, Darieth.
CHISOLM: Of course. That is what people are saying. Something could have been done had they acted quickly.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: More on the Pittsburgh gym shooting in just a moment. Did those around George Sodini miss the warning signs? Did cops drop the ball when they let him go a week before he went on his shooting rampage?
You heard my panel. They think no. Cops did absolutely the right thing, that I`m crazy for asking the questions. But what do you at home think? Give me a holler at 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. Weigh in.
Then cops say a woman was drunk and high when she caused a horrific crash. The victim`s family torn apart. Now they`re firing back at the driver`s husband, who many believe is in denial over his dead wife`s substance abuse.
But first. The Pittsburgh gym killer was grilled by cops one week before the massacre. Could it have been prevented? Cops originally said no.
(BEGIN VIDEO CIP)
SUPERINTENDENT CHARLES MOFFATT, ALLEGHENY COUNTY: He blames everybody. In our opinion, there was nobody in that club that could have did anything to prevent Sodini from committing this horrendous act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOFFATT: He says that -- he complains about he`s never spent a weekend with a girl. He`s -- he`s never vacationed with a girl. He never lived with a women. He -- he`s maybe had sex a few times in his life, and he goes on like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Killer George Sodini so fixated on getting a woman he attended dating seminars. We`ve seen the video of whack job George Sodini in the white shirt at the dating seminar, more than a year before he went on a rampage. What I notice from this video is what the instructor writes on the white board and then repeats to the class. Listen and watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice guy must die. I would say that`s probably the problem with most of you guys in the room, that you`re too nice. Women don`t like that. They don`t respect it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Clinical psychologist Belisa Vranich, "nice guys must die." Now, nobody is saying that instructor is in any way responsible for Sodini`s actions, but what moronic advice to give to a group of men who might possibly be lonely, isolated and socially inept? "Nice guy must die."
BELISA VRANICH, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, not only nice guy must die, but someone who`s not paying attention to me and somebody who is rejecting me must die. So he took that very much to heart and then added his own twist, and the violence that came out of it is really devastating.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and was he trying to get attention with this? This is a guy who never even said "hi" back when his neighbors said "hello." But he gets on a bus with a hand grenade and goes, "Hey, hey you right over there, you want to play with this?"
VRANICH: Exactly. It`s tension; it`s really about prompting people and teasing them with what he`s going to do. There`s something very sadistic about it. And vengeful. It`s not socially appropriate in any way. It`s about someone who is really -- has a lot of psychological problems. And he`s looking at their reaction and laughing.
Yes. Like I said, whack job. It`s just unbelievable. Sondra in New York your question or thought, ma`am?
CALLER: Hi, Jane. I just believe that if something like being caught with a hand grenade on a bus doesn`t give someone probable cause for that case to be turned over to detectives and have him investigated, it seems like I`m hearing a lot of excuses, excuses, excuses.
EIGLARSH: No, no, no. Jane, hold on.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, Sandra.
EIGLARSH: Jane, Jane, hold on. Jane, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right mark. Mark -- Mark, he`s got the sign. He gets picked.
EIGLARSH (holding a sign that says, "Pick Me Jane!"): Jane, Sondra needs to understand something. At 7 a.m. he sees the guy on the bus holding a grenade. At 12:30 he chooses to call law enforcement. They don`t know where the guy is. When ultimately a photograph is taken of someone who fits the description, found two days later, the guy says, "I`m not sure if that`s him." There`s nothing more law enforcement can do at that point. Sondra, your caller and your viewers need to understand those facts.
BROWN: Jane -- Jane, I want to say something.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Go ahead.
BROWN: We`re all saying what could we have done about it? Now the point it, ignoring this little incident, which they couldn`t do anything about either, you could go to Sodini`s house. You could find that he is on the Web site to go to Columbine. You could see Cho`s picture all over the wall from Virginia Tech. You could have -- he could have a little...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Not to mention buying guns over the Internet and ammo.
BROWN: Yes. And he could have a whole stockpile of weapons. He could have done every one of those things. But the fact is he hasn`t committed a crime until the day he walked into that place and committed a crime. You cannot put somebody away just because they have all this stuff.
And even if you go talk to him, one of the family, one of his supposed non-friends, anybody who knew him, walked into his house and said, "Hey, you know, buddy you`re kind of -- this is scary."
He`d say, "Oh, you`re being ridiculous," and he`d lie to them that he wasn`t going to do anything, and the next day he`d do it. So he had committed no crime until that time. Nothing you can do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: He did commit a crime. He took a hand grenade onto a bus.
BROWN: But they didn`t know that until today.
RUSKIN: They weren`t able, police at the time, to finger him at one time.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let`s go to Bruce in Georgia and see what Bruce has to say about all this.
CALLER: Hi, this is Bruce from Georgia. I`m actually -- I`m from Pittsburgh. And I can honestly tell you that I`ve traveled on the Pittsburgh buses, and they actually have three surveillance cameras on the buses. I`ve seen before where someone was smoking marijuana at a Port Authority bus stop, and they`ve actually pulled them and stopped them and arrested them right there. There are surveillance cameras on the bus. This could have been stopped. I`m sorry, this could have been stopped.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bradford Cohen?
COHEN: Well, that would -- that would add something to the whole point. If they had video of him showing someone a hand grenade, now you have something, something to corroborate what this other individual said. Without that video or if they didn`t obtain that video, now you have something. But without knowing if there is an actual video of that bus, of that individual showing a hand grenade and...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, he`s saying there are. Darieth Chisolm, you`re the reporter in the area. What about the video angle?
CHISOLM: You know, I can`t confirm that at this point, whether or not there was a video recording device onboard the bus. Certainly, police would have considered that, you know, if it was the case.
I can tell you, though, that Port Authority police, along with our local police agencies here, are obviously upset about this and wish that they could have done more. There was nothing they could do at the time that they questioned him. They found nothing on him. They did not have evidence to arrest him, and they certainly hadn`t been in his home at that time. Not until afterwards did all of this information come together. And, of course, at this time they are just upset about not being more proactive.
COHEN: Yes, they have a video. You know, Jane, I know you love to say, here`s the bombshell. That would be the bombshell, if they had a video and they didn`t obtain that video.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, maybe they have that bombshell. I mean, listen, we listen in this post-9/11 world. We all go to the airport. Little old ladies in tennis shoes have to take off those shoes. There`s a lot of what would seem like inane stuff that has happened to our society in the wake of 9/11. We all put up with it, because we say safety first.
Then a guy gets on a bus with a hand grenade. They actually speak to him, because we know that, because he referred to it in his diary notes in his home. And they let him go, because one person couldn`t identify him.
All I`m saying is perhaps something else could have been done. But I want to thank you, fantastic panel. Because I hear your arguments, and I could very well be wrong.
I hate to say it, but there`s a very good possibility there.
All right. Mrs. Sanford, moving out. Seven weeks after the governor admitted an affair, the first lady packed up her things, and she`s taking the kids.
Plus, a family ripped apart by a horrific drunk driving accident. We`re going to talk to a private investigator on the case, next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: In tonight`s "Spotlight," the South Carolina governor finds out that if you humiliate your wife enough, you can`t expect her to stick around.
Mark Sanford`s wife, Jenny, has moved out of the governor`s mansion, along with their four sons. Sanford`s affair with an Argentinean woman became international news in June. For weeks the governor`s wife insisted they were trying to work things out, but the governor gave painfully candid interviews and at one point, in an e-mail he even called his lover his "soul-mate." Do you think that would be enough to make Jenny Sanford run, not walk away from her husband in the public life.
Instead she`s sending some rather mixed signals. After the move, Jenny Sanford released a statement: "We will return often, and I will remain engaged in activities in my role as first lady." What? Why return and continue to be a part of your husband`s political career? Does Mrs. Sanford still perhaps crave the perks of public office, despite the perks her husband was enjoying on the side?
I`d like to welcome my fantastic analyst, Alex Wellen, deputy political editor.
Alex, what do you make of Mrs. Sanford`s mixed signals?
ALEX WELLEN, DEPUTY POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, I think she handled it with grace, to be frank. I mean, we`ve seen a lot of other cases with lots of other political scandals where they stand by their side or they`re supportive until they`re not supportive.
But here we`ve seen, specifically with the governor`s wife, that she was not about to commit to standing by this side physically or even within the press. So it`s interesting. Yes, we get some mixed messages, but the fact that she`s leaving isn`t a big surprise. But it also is a step in the direction away from the governor`s mansion.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just find it odd that she`d say, "We`re going to be leaving, but we will return often, and I will remain engaged in activities in my role as first lady, acknowledging that my responsibilities to my family come first." Maybe that`s -- I don`t know -- some kind of technical speak for, "I`m still going to be first lady, but don`t count on me showing up at that luncheon next week."
WELLEN: Well, you know, the people that lose out the most are the constituents, right? I mean, they`re the ones who elected them. He -- you know, he was elected on a platform that deals with family and commitment. You look in his letters to his lover, and they talk about a man who even identified and knew that his family was critical to his success and a loving relationship. And then to some extent there`s some hypocrisy from it. And ultimately, it`s the constituents that lose out.
So maybe, just maybe, she`s trying to take steps to help them, thinking of her family first, thinking of the people who voted first.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is a very good point. That`s a very good point. Gracious lady, I think.
The governor passes himself off as Mr. Family Values. He attacked then-President Bill Clinton`s affair and urged him to resign. Now reports say this famously tight-fisted politician used state planes, crew and fuel to ferry his family around. That`s against the law.
And then there`s that rambling speech he made after he was caught cheating on his wife. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MARK SANFORD (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I`ve been unfaithful to my wife. I`ve developed a relationship with a -- what started as a dear, dear friend from Argentina.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think he thinks the rules just don`t apply to him.
WELLEN: And we see that. What about with Senator Ensign, as well? I mean, we see these people in very, very high political offices. There`s only a few in this country. And there`s some hypocrisy about it. And they -- you know, you had -- you had Senator Ensign, who was involved in an organization where he promised to be committed to marriage, to helping men deal with family, to having religion in their lives, and then ultimately is involved in a scandal.
It really -- it really rocks the institution of marriage. It`s really -- it`s troubling, I think, for a message that it sends out there.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s hypocrisy. As the truth (ph) to call it, reaction formation.
Thank you, Alex Wellen.
Eight people killed in that New York drunk-driving crash. Now the victims` families want justice.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Victimized again -- the family who lost their father and grandfather in the New York drunk driving accident had harsh words for the driver`s husband. They are not buying the fact that this, quote, "perfect wife" wasn`t high when she killed eight people including herself on the highway.
Plus seismic developments in the Michael Jackson custody. In a page right out of the Anna Nicole Smith baby-daddy saga, another man has thrown his hat in the ring as the possible father to the kids. And he is willing to take a paternity test.
Tonight the family of two of the victims in the tragic wrong-way drunk- driving accident that left eight people dead are speaking out. Shocking details emerged last week about Diane Schuler; she is the 36-year-old soccer mom ho caused that horrific crash.
Toxicology reports say Schuler was wasted on booze and pot as she sped along in her mini-van carrying her on to children and her three nieces the wrong way down the highway before colliding head on with an SUV. The carnage left Schuler, her nieces, her daughter and all three men in that mini-van she hit dead.
Well, now the family of two of those men killed are speaking out reeling from the revelation that Schuler as was drunk and high and saying this massacre could have been avoided.
Listen to what they told Matt Lauer on "The Today Show" this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t believe everything we hear, you know, from the Schuler family. When he says that his heart clear, my heart is broken at night, ok? I lost my father and my brother, my family is devastated by this.
But I feel like he`s -- he is in denial. Because somehow, somewhere along the line you have to know somebody can drink like that.
Michael Bastardi`s (ph) daughters are responding to this statement made by Diane Schuler`s husband last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL SCHULER, HUSBAND OF DIANE SCHULER: I go to bed every night knowing my heart is clear. She did not drink. She is not an alcoholic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Husband Daniel Schuler insists his wife never drank and the toxicology reports are wrong. But Daniel himself has a DUI on this record and some find it hard to believe he never knew she had a drinking problem. Is he simply a grief-stricken dad and husband in denial?
Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: Belisa Vranich, clinical psychologist; Pam Hayes, former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney; Bradford Cohen, criminal defense attorney; and Tom Ruskin, former NYPD detective, investigator and president of CMT Protective and Investigative Group.
Tom, as a private eye, you were working with the dead driver`s husband. How do you explain the toxicology results that came back and said Diane was drunk and stoned at the time of the crash?
TOM RUSKIN, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: I can`t explain it. The only thing that I`ve seen thus far -- my company has been retained by Dominic Barbara the attorney as well as the Schuler family to get to the bottom of what happened there.
We are going through the evidence meticulously. We have not been given the autopsy or the toxicology as of yet. Hopefully within the next day or so I`ll have that, Mr. Barbara will have that and we`ll be able to review that.
We are going through -- at this point in time -- the timeline. We are trying to put together the time she left the camp ground until the time of the accident. And we are missing about two hours that it would have taken to get to that location. And what we are trying to do is put those timelines together.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You may be proving the point of the opposition if you say that there is a two-hour window. If she is driving back, Tom, and she is gone for two hours. She was sober when she left the camp site and at the crash site she has all this alcohol -- the equivalent of ten drinks in her system. That`s hat you do for two hours is you can drink ten drinks.
RUSKIN: Not with four kids in your -- well, really five kids in your car. You can`t drink and be drinking unless you are drinking from a sippy cup at that point in time. And I`m not making fun of this.
You have to believe that a mother who has a stellar record -- no one we have interviewed outside the family, people she`s worked with, people that she knew, has never said that they have really seen Diane ever slightly intoxicated. This is a woman who occasionally had a drink. Could she be a closet drinker? It is possible.
The family wants to know the truth. Remember, Daniel is also a victim here. He lost his wife, he lost his daughter, his son is still in the hospital from a brain injury and he lost his three nieces (INAUDIBLE) plus he grieves for the other family of the car that was driving north with the three men in it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tom, I understand that he suffered a horrific, horrific, horrific tragedy as well and I have compassion for him. But by the same token, if you look at the family that lost their loved ones because somebody out of the blue hit them head on.
They are pointing out that he, the husband, had a DUI in `95. They are pointing out that the "New York Post" is reporting that a woman said, Diane liked her vodka and went to a local bar and belly up and said "I`m not happy in my marriage, I feel trapped." And the point and the fact that there was a vodka bottle in the car.
RUSKIN: Ok. Let`s cover those three points.
The first point: the "New York Post article regarding an unnamed Sheila in an unnamed saloon somewhere in Long Island is unsubstantiated. There is no proof that that woman even exists or that there`s even that saloon. This is a woman who went to work, went straight home after work. Maybe she stopped at the grocery store, but was home every single night with her two children, caring for those children, because they couldn`t afford anyone to watch the children other than the three or four hours that Daniel went to work to the time Diane got home.
The second point, relative to the um -- I forgot the second point.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well we had two. We had the vodka bottle and then we also had the fact that he had a DUI, the husband.
RUSKIN: The DUI was in 1995 when he was 24 years old before he even knew Diane. He has a stellar record and people make mistakes in their life. 14 years ago, never a mark on his license since that time.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I know what you`re going to say about the vodka bottle. He said publicly that they drank so little they would have the same bottle going back and forth in the car.
RUSKIN: And the police sort of verified that because the bottle was found towards the rear broken up.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She had ten drinks, the equivalent of ten drinks in her system.
But Belisa Vranich, clinical psychologist, I`m a recovering alcoholic. I know some people go out and drink, I used to drink at bars and nightclubs. Some people hide it from everyone. They hide the bottles in their house, doctor.
BELISA VRANICH, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: And when they are drinking, behind closed doors, they do it behind closed doors, so this isn`t sounding like that sort of situation at all. She is coming from a camping ground and there`s kids in the car.
This doesn`t sound like someone who drinks quietly and is a binge drinker. This sounds like someone who has a problem that has been going on for a long time. And the family sounds like a family of an alcoholic that enables this to continue and is in a lot of denial.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Pam Hayes -- let me say this, I got to get Pam Hayes in; she`s come here to give her opinion. Pam, does this family that was hit -- boom, out of the blue -- do they have a lawsuit?
PAM HAYES, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Do they have -- of course they have a lawsuit. But New York is a no-fault state. Unfortunately, they`re going to be suing the insurance company, and if they don`t get enough from the insurance company, then they will sue her estate.
But you know attacking him, because he has a conviction for a DWI, it`s clear that she was driving up the wrong side of the road, she had a bottle of alcohol in the van and you have the tox report. It`s going to be a little difficult to get around that. It is not just one thing.
I think they have a very good lawsuit. The question is how much money they are going to get.
BRADFORD COHEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And I`ll tell you something, I like Tom. Tom is great. But this is a tough case.
Not only did she have alcohol in her system, she also had alcohol still in her stomach. Just the blood alcohol alone didn`t actually reflect the actual amount of alcohol that was going to be in her system given another hour to absorb what was in her stomach. If it was just the marijuana, you could say, "Ok, she might have smoked it within a 30-day period because it stays in your system."
But the alcohol is very difficult to overcome. And in New York, I`m sure there`s...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to briefly go to this because there`s a parallel here to another case; TV pitchman Billy Mays found dead in his Florida home last month. In an alarming twist, the medical examiner`s office released a report stating cocaine was a contributing factor along with hypertension and heart disease. But he had Vicodin, Oxycontin, Xanax, Valium, alcohol in his system.
Belisa Vranich, the family of Billy Mays is angry at the coroner`s office for releasing this information. Instead of saying, "Wait, why where we clueless?" Instead of looking in the mirror and saying, "Wow, why didn`t we know that he had a problem?" They are attacking them for releasing the facts.
RUSKIN: There`s a difference in this case versus the Schuler case. And the difference is the Schuler case was an accident that killed other people. Billy Mays case was a self involved death. Really the coroner`s office had no right in releasing that report.
COHEN: They had to release it. They were in Florida, the Sunshine Law -- the freedom of information act -- so when they released it there`s nothing wrong with the coroner in releasing that information. That`s information that can be released. They are angry that it was released for any reason that they want to say...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It has to be released because we have to realize the face of addiction is not the crack addict sitting in the curb. It is only the poor people who get arrested and put in prison. The rich people, the famous people, the only time we find out that they have a problem is when their toxicology reports turn up.
The face of drug addiction is this. It is the person next door. It is not just somebody sitting in a dumpster with a needle coming out of their arm.
Great thanks to my panel of guests.
People across the country grappling with addiction, I`m one of them. I know about this. In my new book, "I Want," I reveal details of my battle with alcoholism. I finally got sober 14 years ago.
It`s a recovery memoir, due out this fall. You can pre order your copy right now. Click on cnn.com/jane and look for the pre-order section.
If you know somebody in your life who has a problem, this book can help you deal with that problem. If you have a problem this book can help you with that problem. This is a crisis in America; a crisis and it is a middle- class crisis. It is not just a crisis of people who are basically homeless and living on the street.
Divorce drama for "Jon and Kate plus 8:" Kate finally breaks her silence about the break up. Why is she still wearing her wedding ring?
The godfather of Paris Jackson now claims he is her biological dad but can he prove it?
1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297; tell me what you think about all of it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: When it comes to Michael Jackson`s kids, I`m about the only person who hasn`t tried claiming them as my own, which brings me to a British child TV star who says he is Paris`s dad. Is he for real? We`ll analyze.
But first, "Top of the Block" tonight: TV mom Kate Gosselin finally breaks her silence in her first TV interview since her marriage ended on national TV seven weeks ago. The mother of eight broke into tears when explaining why she still wears her ring -- wait, which finger? The one Jon gave her 10 years ago.
On NBC`s "The Today Show" Kate reveled she hasn`t taken it off because she doesn`t want to upset the kids. She repeatedly described herself as determined to hang in there. Kate admits she still wakes up and feels like a failure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATE GOSSELIN, "JON & KATE PLUS 8": I was not perfect. Nobody is perfect in a marriage in life, no parent is perfect.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does any part of you still love him?
GOSSELIN: When I think back to the Jon that that I knew, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ll tell you that hair is perfect.
Here is the new Jon, the soon-to-be ex-husband Jon. Kate told NBC that he and she are very different people with two very different sets of goals. I think that`s the understatement of the century.
Do you want more "Jon and Kate plus 8?" "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" -- get to the bottom of Kate`s teary tell-all tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific right her on HLN. And that is tonight`s "Top of the Block."
Tonight, sensational claims about Michael Jackson`s three kids: as the LAPD puts the cabash on releasing the coroner`s findings. Just hour ago, the LA coroner officially announces their report in to the pop star`s death is done. It`s finished, it`s completed. But if you think they announced the caused of death, forget about it. Cops want the results kept under locking key until they`re finished investigating his death.
Meantime, there`s a new player in the Jackson`s children paternity claim game -- say that three times -- Michael Jackson`s long-time friend and the godfather of his three kids, Mark Lester. Lester is a former actor who played Oliver in the 1968 film classic -- I remember it well.
Jackson`s manager reached out to Lester 27 years ago because Michael wanted to meet him. Listen to what Lester told UK`s "News of the World."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK LESTER, GODFATHER OF JACKSON CHILDREN: I believe that Paris could be my daughter. And I would be willing to take a paternity test. Paris -- she has blue eyes and fair complexion and high cheek bones. My girls all have similar features and it has been commented many times how similar Harriet and Paris are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: He might be onto something there is a resemblance there. But Mark Lester isn`t the only one coming forward. TMZ reports during today`s probate hearing a well-known Jackson fanatic Billy Jean Jackson, that`s right, that`s her name. At least that`s what she says her name is. Stood in court and said quote, "I am Blanket`s mother and I am concerned about what`s going on" end quote.
And wait until you hear what went down outside of that hearing. You can`t make this stuff up.
Meantime, the judge approved that big bucks movie deal using AEG`s footage of Michael Jackson`s rehearsal. Jackson family stands to make millions off that deal.
Straight out to my wonderful panel: Mark Eiglarsh, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; Tanya Acker, attorney and blogger for the "Huffington Post;" and Jim Moret, attorney and chief correspondent for "Inside Edition".
Jim, wow, what a slew of developments today -- let`s start with Mark Lester. Does he pose a problem for Katherine Jackson and let`s say he takes the DNA test and it comes up that he is the dad?
JIM MORET, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": I mean, I have to tell you, my feeling about all of the people coming forward claiming they may be the parents, I have two words, so what? There is a rule in California presumption that if a child was born to a couple that`s married -- in this case, that`s what happened with Michael Jackson and Debbie Rowe -- those kids are presumed to be Michael Jackson`s.
It doesn`t really matter. I mean, if you are a sperm donor, you give up parental rights. So just because he now wants to be part of the girl`s life that he believes to be his daughter. I mean these kids have had enough disruption. Leave them alone. Let them get on with their lives. They are grieving for their dad, they don`t even have a mom. They`re getting settled, let them be.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you. But Mark Lester has made this stunning, quite possibly credible, claim that Paris Jackson could be his daughter.
Now, listen to this, totally bizarre claims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLAIRE ELISABETH FIELDS CRUISE, CLAIMS SHE`S THE MOM OF JACKSON`S KIDS: I filed paperwork in this building last Friday the 7th, declaring myself as the sole biological mother of all three Jackson children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now what`s crazy about this, Mark Eiglarsh, is that this was taken seriously. She held a news conference outside the courthouse and everybody who`s been there taking notes, with all this serious reporters.
MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh goodness, gracious. Jane, I would like to join with you and be part of that select group of people and go on record and say I`ve never donated any substances for the Michael Jackson children.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Good for you.
EIGLARSH: And so now the record is clear on that. Jim, you want to go on record, I don`t know? We didn`t hear anything from Jim. Let`s start a rumor there.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jim I`m worrying now.
MORET: I have no claims. I have no claim -- I`m officially making that statement right now.
EIGLARSH: Let me say this. In all seriousness I take exception to Lester coming out and doing what he is doing at this point. So what -- Jim is absolutely right -- if he`s a donor; he gave away -- he gave away allegedly his sperm. You don`t ask for something in return unless you have ulterior motives.
These children finally have a place to grow to feel safe. They believe that Michael Jackson is their father. And a loving father he was. Why do this to the children?
TANYA ACKER, ATTORNEY: Why?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tanya, go.
ACKER: I think the question of why is clear, Oliver needs some attention as do all the other people who are now trying to jump in and become a part of this conversation. I mean, not only is it irrelevant and everybody is completely right about that.
But it`s just completely distasteful. Put aside the fact that a sperm donor has no rights, it`s not in the kids` best interests.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I know.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stay right there and that was one of my favorite movies, "Food, Glorious Food." I love that song. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ARNOLD KLEIN, MICHAEL JACKSON`S DERMATOLOGIST: They want me to DNA -- test again my DNA. I don`t care at this point.
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Your concern is the kids.
KLEIN: My concern is the kids. Because I`ve never met children like these. They`re the brightest children I`ve ever met, the best behaved children I`ve ever met. They come over my house. They behave wonderfully. I know how deeply he loved them and how deeply they loved him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michael Jackson`s Dr Arnie Klein also talked he`s a possible father.
Alleged doctor shopping isn`t the only thing Michael Jackson story has become with Anna Nicole Smith`s tragic life. In light us today`s shocking revelations we are reminded of the many, many, men who claimed to be the father of her baby, Dannielynn.
There was of course her lover and manager Howard K. Stern, he`s now mired in a criminal investigation and pleaded not guilty to supplying her with drugs. Then there was the absurd claim by the husband of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, Frederic Prinz von Anhalt (ph). He asked for a DNA test and has sued to be Dannielynn`s baby daddy, no dice there. And in the end, Anna Nicole`s former boyfriend, Larry Birkhead turned out to be the real dad.
Jim Moret, I am just astounded by the bizarre parallels between the Anna Nicole Smith tragedy and the Michael Jackson tragedy. And now you`re seeing this -- this parentage thing be another theme.
MORET: Well, but the big difference here is that Michael Jackson was married when his kids were born. And fortunately for the children that resolves the issue at least in the court`s eyes, because these other people don`t have legal standing to come and make claims about the kids.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Maria, California, your question or thought, ma`am.
MARIA, CALIFORNIA: Yes Jane, my question was would a judge even consider these claims from all of these people just because the children were born into a marriage? And I think it would just open a bunch of different issues for other children that would -- that are born through surrogates or through sperm donors.
EIGLARSH: A judge, a judge.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead.
EIGLARSH: A judge is free to -- who is going?
ACKER: They`re legally irrelevant. I think the caller is absolutely right. These claims are legally irrelevant.
Our whole notion of sperm donor-ship and egg donor-ship is premised on the fact that you want to preserve the relationship -- the parental relationship of the parents who end up raising the children and to whom the children are born.
They`re completely irrelevant.
EIGLARSH: I agree, I think a judge -- a judge can consider whatever he wants. He will give this very little, it`s no merit whatsoever. So I question why former "Oliver" is seeking additional 15 minutes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Where is your sign, Mark?
EIGLARSH: I got -- I`ve got it. I don`t have to.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me see it one more time, I`ve got to see this, "Pick Me."
Ok. I love that.
Let me ask you, Jim Moret, about this coroner saying, essentially, I have the coroner`s report done but I`m not going to tell you.
MORET: Well, the coroner is not saying that. The coroner is saying because the LAPD is continuing its investigation they have asked the coroner not to, or they have actually put a security hold. I`ve never really heard of a security hold.
But what they`re saying is, "Look we`re continuing our investigation. We have more people we want to interview. And this might scare people away if we reveal our findings now." But they clearly know what killed Michael Jackson. And I suspect that it is not one drug, but a cocktail of drugs.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Very much like Anna Nicole Smith.
Tanya Acker, we`ll give you the last word. Why the suppression of the coroner`s report? I mean, it`s not going to change, no matter how long we wait. Why not just get it over with?
ACKER: Its certainly isn`t going to change anything. But clearly I think the notion is that they`re probably going to be to tie certain drugs to certain potential suspects. Suspects or many suspects and I think they just don`t want to tip their hands right now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So it gives them an advantage to hang on to that coroner`s report as long as possible.
Thank you, fabulous panel, for joining me. Love you all.
You are watching ISSUES on Headline News.