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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Bermuda Pair Accused of Blackmailing Travolta; Could Family`s Murder Have been Stopped?
Aired September 22, 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, was somebody trying to cash in on the Travolta family tragedy. In the dark days following Jett Travolta`s heartbreaking death, two people are accused trying to extort $25 million from his dad, Hollywood megastar John Travolta. One of the accused is actually a senator in the Bahamas.
Now the trial has begun, and Travolta has returned to an enchanted island that turned hellish. Will he become the star witness?
And cold-blooded murder. A father is accused of slitting the throats of his wife and five young children, then fleeing the country. Cops arrested this guy in Haiti. He says he had plans to surrender and was just going to say good-bye to his family. Cops aren`t buying that story. Now they`re trying to bring him back to America to face justice in a case police are calling the most gruesome they`ve ever seen.
Also Plaxico Burress is headed to the slammer. The NFL wide receiver accidentally shot himself in the leg at a New York nightclub. Now he`s going to prison for two years. Tonight`s big issue, in this country, athletes get less time for killing people.
So why did this superstar get the book thrown at him? And is it fair?
Plus, shocking new claims that Anna Nicole Smith was prescribed a pharmaceutical suicide, according to court documents. Her psychiatrist supplied Smith with two sedatives, 300 tablets of methadone and four bottles of painkillers, and that`s just the beginning. This woman is also accused of having improper sexual contact with Anna Nicole. And apparently, there`s pictures of these two naked and touching each other in the bathtub.
ISSUES starts now!
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, an outrageous and despicable act. Was a grieving John Travolta the victim of attempted blackmail? That question being put to the test before a jury in the Bahamas. That`s where two alleged extortionists are on trial accused of trying to squeeze $25 million bugs from the superstar.
John`s 16-year-old son, Jett, who suffered from medical problems, died tragically last January at a resort in the Bahamas after suffering a seizure. Now the ambulance driver, Tarino Lightbourne and former Bahamian senator -- that`s right, senator -- Pleasant Bridgewater are in hot water. Prosecutors say they threatened to release to the public a refusal to transport document.
Now, this is a form typically signed when an ambulance is refused. But guess what? The Travoltas reportedly did put Jett in the ambulance, and they even rode with him. Something doesn`t add up here, people.
Meantime, reports are John Travolta is on the ground in the Bahamas, set to testify as the star witness. Here is what one of the defense attorneys said about that to ABC News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MURRIO DUCILLE, BRIDGEWATER`S ATTORNEY: He has to be -- he has to come to give evidence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why does he have to be?
DUCILLE: Without him then the prosecution cannot get off of the ground because he`s a complainant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: TMZ reporting tonight both defendants have pleaded, quote, "100 percent not guilty." Wait a second, wait -- isn`t that the line O.J. Simpson made famous?
And tonight`s big issue: is it open season on celebrities at their most vulnerable? I want to hear from you.
First, straight out to my fantastic expert panel: Stacey Honowitz, supervisor of the sex crimes unit in the Florida`s prosecution office; Darren Kavinoky, criminal defense attorney, a.k.a. the Voice of Reason; Brian Russell, attorney and forensic psychologist, 2-for-1 offer there; Don Clark, former FBI special agent in charge; and the one and only Harvey Levin, executive producer of TMZ, my former boss and dear friend.
Harvey, you`re a busy man. Thank you for joining us tonight. This is such a bizarre case. What exactly are these defendants accused of doing?
HARVEY LEVIN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, TMZ: Well, it is -- it is bizarre, Jane. Because the basis of the alleged extortion is almost irrelevant in the case.
What happened was this. John Travolta`s son was laying dying, basically, in the bathroom of this vacation home. When they found him, the -- one of the defendants, the paramedic showed up, Lightbourne, and then John Travolta and Lightbourne are in the ambulance. And Travolta`s thinking, "I can make it to the airport and get to Miami faster and get better medical care than if I go to the hospital in the Bahamas."
So Lightbourne wanted him to sign this document that basically said, if you don`t go to the hospital, all of the medical professionals are relieved of liability. That`s what they need to get signed.
Ultimately, Travolta decided to take Jett to the hospital. So the document became really irrelevant. But the allegation is that Lightbourne and Pleasant Bridgewater, the former senator, conspired together to say to John Travolta, "Look, if you don`t give us $25 million, we`re going public with this document." It is bizarre on -- and that is why they`re on trial.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, because why would anybody pay 25 cents, much less $25 million, for this document which doesn`t seem that incriminating? However, after Jett`s death, a Bahamian friend of the Travoltas spoke out about John`s love for his son, Jett. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBIE WILCHCOMBE, TRAVOLTA FAMILY FRIEND: John Travolta knew his son was a special child, and he nurtured their relationship. He gave him love, demonstrated publicly at all times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, Harvey, clearly John and Kelly Travolta were always devoted to their son. That`s certainly not in dispute. But back in January, "People" magazine covered what they called, quote, "longstanding questions surrounding Jett`s health," end quote. The issue was whether the child suffered from this rare Kawasaki disease, as the Travoltas believed, or for autism, as some others had suggested.
There was also a question as to whether Jett may have been left unsupervised when he had the deadly seizure, which the Travoltas attorney hotly disputed, saying, hey, there were two nannies within the entire evening and he was spectacular supervised.
But my question to you, Harvey, do prosecutors believe those controversies had something to do with this alleged blackmail scheme, perhaps giving someone an idea that there were something there to capitalize on?
LEVIN: Well, they would -- if they really had that idea they would have gone for that rather than an irrelevant document.
Look, John Travolta is going to testify about two things. One, his interaction with on -- with -- help me out, Jane, the paramedic.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Which one? Oh, Tarino Lightbourne.
LEVIN: Lightbourne, Lightbourne, right. His interaction with Lightbourne during the ambulance ride and while they were at the house. That`s one thing he`s going to testify to.
The second thing is the heartstrings of the case, which is his reaction to the extortion to them. He never spoke directly with anybody who made the alleged extortion demand, but his reaction is going to become relevant in the case. We know that`s what the prosecutors are going on ask him about. And that reaction is going to have an emotional impact on this jury.
They`re not going to get into the kind of treatment, the kind of disease. That`s all irrelevant. What`s going to be relevant is how John Travolta reacted to all of this, and that could be a huge turning point in this trial.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And final question. When is he expected to take the stand?
LEVIN: Well, we`re told it could be tomorrow. It could be tomorrow or the next day. My hunch is tomorrow is the day, because he flew there, and I don`t think he wants to hang out there, necessarily.
By the way, Kelly Preston is not going to testify. But my hunch is it`s going to happen tomorrow.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, well, Harvey, thanks so much for bringing us up to date. You`re always on top of these cases. This one`s no exception. And great talking to you.
LEVIN: Thanks, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now -- talk to you soon. Tonight`s big issue. Is it open season on celebrities? And is it being waged by -- let`s face it, Harvey`s got to go because he`s a busy guy. He`s running that TMZ show, so when you see him taking of his mike. That`s because he`s got a lot of other jobs to do.
Is this war on celebrities being waged by nut jobs looking to make a buck off celebrities in times when they`re most vulnerable? If the allegations against the two defendants in the Travolta case are true, it`s horrific, but it wouldn`t be the first time.
Remember, Sarah Jessica Parker and her husband Matthew Broderick were alleged victims of bottom feeders. Their home of their baby surrogate was burglarized. The accused criminals were a pair of police chiefs, who allegedly tried to sell some of the woman`s items, the surrogate`s clothes -- it`s just crazy. Both of them denied the charges.
And then of course, our favorite example, the poor Jackson kids in the wake of their dad`s death. There`s a steady stream of weirdoes, wackos, wannabes trying to claim biological parenthood.
So my question, Brian Russell, you`re the psychologist. Have these celebrities now become magnets for the lowest common denominator of society? People who can profit?
BRIAN RUSSELL, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Absolutely. Absolutely, I think so. And I think, Jane, if we pulled our viewers and if we asked them to rank the seriousness of certain crimes, blackmail or extortion may not rank that highly on the list, but psychologically and it should, and here`s why.
These things are always premeditated. There`s no spur-of-the moment, heat of passion, anything like that. They`re always -- they`re always nothing but a cold-hearted attempt to profit off of somebody else`s pain or embarrassment. There`s no insanity. These perpetrators always know exactly what they`re doing.
And so the person who would do that is actually a more dangerous person than you might otherwise think, which means that they ought -- we ought to come down hard or them as a society than we usually do.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, Stacey, Stacey, Stacey Honowitz.
STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA`S PROSECUTOR`S OFFICE: I think the most disgusting part of this case is that John Travolta allegedly had a relationship with one of the defendants. So it`s not only somebody that`s trying to extort a celebrity out of a lot of money at the most vulnerable time, horrible, grieving time in his life, but this was a supposed friend of his that was doing it. So that just adds insult to injury and even makes it even more despicable of a crime.
RUSSELL: Yes, but -- but I don`t know why any of us should be surprised about this. The fact of the matter is that there is no shortage of people demonstrating poor judgment in all of their affairs. And that`s what keeps some of us that are in the business of, say, criminal defense or mental health fully employed.
So I think we`re going to see this and continue to see it, and of course in the case of celebrities, it`s just a much more public opportunity for these kinds of bottom-feeding individuals.
And of course I am, for one, am completely shocked, that there would be a Bahamian political official involved in something like this. Perhaps they`ll have Rod Blagojevich as a character witness or something.
DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I`m not -- I`m not...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A Bahamian official involved in the Anna Nicole scandal, remember that, caught in bed?
KAVINOKY: That was sarcasm, by the way. That was supposed to be sarcasm, for the record.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We should have a little sign that says "being sarcastic now" -- Don Clark.
DON CLARK, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Jane, I just want to say that, yes, I`m not at all surprised by that, and usually, in many of these cases that I`ve been personally involved in, that it`s someone that is close to the victim in this that finds some way to try to extort them, either by using somebody else or another system or something. So...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You are so right.
CLARK: ... that they really try to go after.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You are so right. I had my identity stolen. It was by somebody I went to high school with. How do you like that?
All right. More on the John Travolta extortion case in a moment. We`re also taking your calls on this: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586- 7297.
Also, a husband accused of brutally murdering his wife and five kids, slashing all of their throats. This guy had a history of domestic violence. Amazingly the victims` family, not shocked that this happened. Not shocked. Could these killings have been prevented?
But first did two people try on cash in on Jett Travolta`s death? Here`s a family friend who actually had the horrific task of escorting John Travolta to the morgue back in January.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His words were, "That is my son." And then he asked for some moments, he and his wife, to spend with Jett. And they stayed more for several hours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN TRAVOLTA, ACTOR: I probably cried harder and heavier than I have ever cried in my life. I didn`t know what I was going to do because I never felt that level of love for another human being, you know. And there it was, my baby, my son, was 2 1/2 and it can`t be. I can handle death. And I can handle people dying but my baby, the thought of that was just, forget it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was John Travolta talking to ABC News back in 2001.
When his son Jett died this past January, the network played clips of that interview during "Good Morning America." Totally heartbreaking.
Aside from a family appearance at the open of the movie "Old Dogs," in which John starred alongside his daughter Ella Blue, the Travoltas have kept a very low profile. We`re going to talk about that they moment, but first phone lines lighting up on this one.
Diane, Mississippi, your question or thought, ma`am?
CALLER: ... thank you for taking my call. And I just want to say I had a 19-year-old son that passed away. And this just absolutely makes me livid, that anyone would stoop to this to hurt John and his wife and family any longer.
And I would like to say thank you and your staff for the work you`re doing for women and children that are abused. And God bless you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you so much, Diane. And my condolences over your loss. That`s something that nobody ever gets out of.
CALLER: You never get over it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You never get over it.
CALLER: No, you don`t. It`s like I said, my son`s 40th birthday was yesterday, and it`s just -- some days it`s just like it was yesterday, and other days it`s like a hundred years. And for these people to do John and his family like this, they should be hung.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I have to say, Don Clark, what adds insult to injury is that this -- this whole area was a place that they considered their retreat. They would go there, the Travoltas, year after year. They had about, what, 50 people there with them when this tragedy occurred. They were having a huge party there. They had made friends there. They considered this their home away from home. And then when something like this happens it`s even more devastating.
So I would like to debate the issue, should John Travolta have moved forward with this criminal case? Or is it reopening an old wound? What do you think, Don?
CLARK: Well, I really think that you cannot let criminals get away with these blatant type of crimes. And if you let it get away with, it won`t ever go away. They will be coming back. They`ll come back at you some other way, Jane.
So it`s a tough time for them. I really feel badly for them. But I think if they`ve got the evidence, if they`ve got the taped conversations, they can be authenticated, I think they ought to move forward with it. And maybe this will send a signal to the next person that maybe I shouldn`t.
RUSSELL: Absolutely. You`re not going to get behavior to stop if you make it easier to do.
KAVINOKY: Yes, it`s important to note. And this actually cuts both ways. I`ve seen it with victims who participated in the trial. And for them it can be a very therapeutic thing, to actually be there in a public place in open court and point the accusatory finger at somebody that did them wrong or they believed did them wrong.
And on the other side of it, it does happen that defendants are falsely accused of crimes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me -- let me jump in here, though. Here`s the thing. John Travolta is a superstar. He`s going to attract controversy. We have to recap and review all the controversy surrounding what was his son really suffering from, to put this story in context.
Isn`t he opening up a Pandora`s box, Stacey Honowitz, by pursuing this criminal investigation? Because if he dropped out, would they really have the goods to do it?
HONOWITZ: Listen, I think it`s very personal, and I think that nobody, none of us can judge as to what his actions are, how he`s feeling at the moment. If he didn`t think he was up to it, if he didn`t think he could go and reopen everything -- he knows he`s a public figure; he knows it`s been all over the news. I don`t think if he thought he could handle it, he would have never gone through with it.
So while it is opening old wounds, and it might be very difficult, as Darren said, it might be therapeutic for him. And maybe he knows that "If I step forward and I set an example, and I show people that they can`t get away with it, then it won`t happen to somebody else."
RUSSELL: Yes, Stacey`s exactly right.
HONOWITZ: ... and it`s his decision.
RUSSELL: Stacey`s exactly right. For some people it is therapeutic, and this guy`s been in the public eye for a long time. I would say that he can handle it. And I think -- I admire him, because I think he probably looks at himself and says, you know, I am in a position to make something happen in a case like this and, hopefully, it will reverberate out and deter some other people.
KAVINOKY: And for the rest of his life he is going to than, when push came to shove, although it was difficult, he stood up. He did the right thing and he won`t have to carry around that emotional baggage: "if only I would have done something differently," especially if the case would be dismissed or -- or these folks or folks are otherwise vindicated.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Don Clark, why would these people allegedly concoct this ridiculous scheme that doesn`t make sense?
CLARK: Yes, a lot of them are dumb, but it`s all about greed. It`s all about greed. They say, they think that John has whatever amount of money and wealth that he may have and that they can get some without working for it. That`s what it`s all about. That`s what all extortionists are all about.
They are about, "I can make better use of this. I can figure out a way to take your money without doing anything and I can get away with it." And that`s point that we don`t want to happen here. I hope John feels that way, that he doesn`t let it happen here, that they can get away with it, because they`ve got to get the evidence lined up right and I really hope that the Bahamians do it right. If they`re going to prosecute this case. And convict these people.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So far, so good. Thank you, fantastic panel. We`ve got to leave it right there.
Up next, an NFL superstar heading to prison. It seems like most athletes walk. Why is he getting so harshly punished?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news tonight in the horrific deaths of a mother and her five children. Her husband has confessed to slitting all of their throats inside their Florida home. That`s the latest from Haiti, where Mesac Damas fled after the murders.
He told police that a, quote, "evil thing" made him butcher his wife and kids one by one. Six in all, five kids and a mother. Police charged him with six counts of premeditated murder. They`re trying to get him extradited back to the United States.
The victim`s relatives are in agony. But get this: they don`t sound very surprised to hear what Damas is accused of. Listen to the victim`s niece and brother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRITTANY, VICTIM`S NIECE: He always said he was going to kill her. Always abused her and her kids.
KENNY, VICTIM`S BROTHER: She was all by her family, all by her kids, waiting for her kids. That was her main priority. I know he did this. I don`t think. I know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: They do not sound surprised. Did anyone in Guerline Damas` family ever try to intervene? Here she is in January after her husband attacked her. Look at that: there`s bruises. He was arrested. He didn`t serve anytime at all but just days before this family was slaughtered, child welfare workers checked up on them. Found nothing wrong. Could more had been done to protect this family from this monster?
Back with attorney and forensic psychologist Brian Russell.
What`s so shocking to me, Brian, is the family`s reaction. They are not shocked. What does that tell you?
RUSSELL: Well, I think that it`s pretty clear that there was a history of some kind of domestic disturbances in this family, and it just underscores what you and I are always saying when we cover these things, which is you`ve got to get yourself, and especially your kids, away from people at the very first signs of violence, because it typically continues, and it typically escalates.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s just -- I mean, my mind is not able to get around the concept that all these children we`re looking at there are dead, and their throats were slit one by one. Imagine what one was thinking, watching the others get killed, knowing that they were probably next. It`s just beyond comprehension.
RUSSELL: It`s horrific, and I think most of our viewers watching this cover the story tonight are thinking, "Gosh, you know, I almost wish there were some kind of insanity, some kind of a disorder, something that somebody would have to be laboring under to do something like this." But the flight after the fact to Haiti suggests clear consciousness of guilt. So...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right I want to jump in and get on this. Ironically, this family was on law enforcement`s radar. There are domestic violence reports dating back to 2000. The most recent was filed in January after he assaulted his wife. Here you can see she`s got a swollen eye and bruises on her neck. Listen to what cops say about that attack.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM WILLIAMS, COLLIER COUNTY SHERIFF`S OFFICE: In January of this year, he was arrested for a simple battery -- or misdemeanor battery against the female that we found deceased in the apartment. He pled no contest to it in June.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
WILLIAMS: I do not believe so other than the initial arrest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brian, final thoughts. What can we learn from this?
RUSSELL: Well, I think what we may be seeing in this case is -- and because you pointed out the other night, which was an excellent point, that a lot of these kids were born apparently after there had already been some violent incidents.
RUSSELL: And what that says is that a lot of times these women are thinking, not so much about the best interests of their kids but, in their own twisted way, about their needs for the chaotic relationship. And this is what can come of that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got to leave is there, Brian.
All right. Up next, Plaxico Burress behind bars. The NFL superstar was sentenced to two years. We`re going to talk about it next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Plaxico Burress headed to the slammer: the NFL wide receiver accidentally shot himself in the leg at a New York nightclub. Now he`s going to prison for two years.
Tonight`s big issue, in this country athletes get less time for killing people. So why did this superstar get the book thrown at him? Is it fair?
Plus, shocking new claims that Anna Nicole Smith was prescribed a pharmaceutical suicide; according to court documents, her psychiatrist supplied Smith with two sedatives, 300 tablets of methadone and four bottles of painkillers. And that`s just the beginning.
Millions of dollars, celebrity status, and a high-priced attorney: not enough to keep Plaxico Burress out of prison. The New York Giants star is behind bars tonight, as we speak, as he begins to serve two years in prison.
Burress accidentally shot himself in the leg inside a New York nightclub last year. He pleaded guilty to a weapons charge last month. You know we`re so used to hearing about rich pro athletes getting off easy for crimes that are a whole lot more serious than this one.
We`re going to get to some of those classic cases in just a moment.
Here`s tonight`s big issue, people, did Burress get a fair sentence, or did the judge and the D.A. make an example out of this guy? I mean, after all, he shot himself by accident. I`m all for rules, I`m all for law, I`m all for tough punishment, but this seems like overkill to me.
Back to my fantastic panel: Don Clark, I don`t get it. Apparently there were negotiations between Burress and the Manhattan D.A.`s office. The D.A. insisted on jail time. Burress took the risk of testifying before the grand jury and an indictment came back and all of a sudden, wow, we`ve got him going away to the slammer for two long years as his wife is about to give birth to their second child.
DON CLARK, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT-IN-CHARGE: Yes, Jane, you know what, I`m going to think that there`s more to it here than you -- than what we see.
I`m not very sympathetic here. Because I bet you that there was a pre-sentence investigation done. And we might find that during the course of that pre-sentence investigation that there`s been a lot of bad boy activity there.
Also, we all know, I`ve lived and worked in New York, and we all know that New York has a very, very stiff gun law and if you don`t abide by the rules there and you get caught -- and a lot don`t -- but when you get caught you are usually going to pay for it.
So based on that pre-sentencing summary and investigation, that`s probably why the judge went this hard on him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I want to debate this issue because I really don`t buy it. Let`s face it Burress` sentence can seem harsh if you compare it to the ridiculously light punishments some other star athletes have gotten.
We look no further than Donte Stallworth of the Cleveland Browns, pleaded guilty in June to DUI manslaughter. He got drunk. He killed a man and served just one month in prison. To me that`s outrageous. Here`s Stallworth at his sentencing hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONTE STALLWARTH, WIDE RECEIVER, CLEVELAND BROWNS: I accept full responsibility for this horrible tragedy. I assure you that this tragedy will continue to bear this burden for the rest of my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And then there`s Leonard Little, in 1998 he drove drunk, ran a red light and killed another driver. He served 90 days in jail. That`s it, finito. And Little is still playing in the NFL.
So Stacey Honowitz, where is the justice in all of this? Burress` punishment, it seems like it could be a makeup call, as they say in sports, for these other lenient sentences.
STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Listen, Jane, I think the most important thing that you and the viewers have to understand is this, when judges and D.A.`s get cases, we don`t pick up the newspaper and look to see what Donte` Stallworth got or what an athlete got three years ago to draw comparison. We look at the case and the facts that are in front of us.
And I agree with Don. It hasn`t been let out. We do not know but I bet there was a pre-sentence investigation. There might have been some prior contacts with the law and this is a weapons charge where he took a loaded gun into a nightclub.
He accidentally shot himself but that gun could have gone off and killed anybody in that club, so while we`re sitting here today saying that the gun laws are too stiff or his sentence is too stiff we could be sitting here next week saying why did the guy in Oklahoma only get three days?
Every case is judged on its own merits and no D.A. in any state is sitting there and looking and comparing anybody else.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, hold on.
DARREN KAVINOKY: I have to jump in on something here, Jane. I know the fashion police in New York are very, very tough. But two years in jail just for wearing sweatpants to a club, it seems unseemly.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I mean, basically it was an accident. He had the gun in his sweatpants. The gun fell and it accidentally discharged. He didn`t shoot off the gun.
KAVINOKY: I know. I was going for humor on that one.
HONOWITZ: Jane, he carried a loaded weapon into a nightclub. That gun could have dropped, spun and hit somebody and killed somebody else.
CLARK: That`s exactly...
HONOWITZ: Well, what if he accidentally shot himself. Look at all of the facts.
CLARK: If you`re afraid you`re going out into a location like that where you have to take a gun, number one don`t go. And with the type of money that person is probably is making get yourself a bodyguard. Why did you have to do this? Think. There is some history there I can tell you that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Brian Russell, this is not a criminal. This is a person who, as his attorney said, violated the law and essentially we`re not sentencing him for a criminal act in the sense that he was trying to commit a crime of violence against another person. There`s got to be a distinction there, Brian.
BRIAN RUSSELL, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, psychologically, let me just point out, we seem to see a lot of celebrities, athletes, and entertainers, disproportionate number of them in really stupid trouble like this. And I think that part of the explanation for that is these people`s talents are identified early in their lives and at that the point people start to develop nothing but the talent. Not their mind, not their intelligence, nothing.
So what you end up with are really stupid people with a lot of money and that is just almost a prescription for this kind of trouble.
KAVINOKY: But there`s a real political aspect to this case as well. And that`s Michael Bloomberg and his campaign, which was very heavily weighted on this anti-gun thing. So it was really a bad case of timing and it was a bad location for this to take place.
If this same incident took place in other jurisdictions, I suspect that you`d find a much less harsh sentence.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s all like saying, Stacey Honowitz, is nothing happens in a vacuum. Politics always plays a role and I applaud Mayor Bloomberg.
I`m living here in New York City. Just a couple of block away from CNN headquarters, a woman was murdered. It`s scary, okay? Around the world it`s scary but it`s also scary in the city.
I applaud these efforts to keep us safe. I want to stay safe. But my heart did go out to this man who made a horrible error of judgment but now he has to take his 2-year-old little boy and say I`m not going to see you, son, for two long years and his wife has to give birth to a child without him there.
CLARK: Jane, I hear what you`re saying...
HONOWITZ: Jane, where do you draw the line? You could say that about so many people.
HONOWITZ: I understand everything you`re saying but you could say that about a million people. I stand in court every day and I watch people out there say good-bye and wave good-bye to their little kids because they made a stupid mistake that happened to have been criminal.
So in this case, if you were standing in that club and god forbid a million times you got shot because he was stupid and brought a loaded weapon in, you wouldn`t be saying he got such a light sentence.
KAVINOKY: But see, Stacey, no one did. He was stupid and shot himself. It was bad judgment but nobody else got shot. Obviously we don`t want to encourage people bringing guns to clubs but he really only hurt himself and this is adding insult to injury unnecessarily.
RUSSELL: It`s unfair but the way to fix the unfairness is to sentence those other guys that Jane mentioned more harshly.
RUSSELL: Not necessarily to sentence Burress less.
CLARK: That`s right. I agree.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And I think that gun control is very important and I know it`s not a popular position to take but I`m in favor of it because I`ve seen so many crimes where you take alcohol, you take rage, and you add guns and you`ve got death. And often the people who die had nothing to do with that situation. They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
So you change said my mind. All right?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You changed my mind. Send him away to the slammer but I still feel sorry for him. I still think we have to have compassion.
CLARK: Feel sorry for his family, Jane. That`s the one.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes I feel sorry for his family. I really do.
Thank you, fantastic panel, for your insights.
We have an exciting addition to our primetime lineup coming your way next week. "THE JOY BEHAR SHOW" will air every night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time right here on HLN.
Here`s a quick taste of what you will get. It`s her "Moment of Joy" commentary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOY BEHAR, HLN HOST, "THE JOY BEHAR SHOW": You know, unless you`re a professional kick boxer or a traveling salesman with a fetish, there is no real reason for an adult to ever engage in spanking.
A new study says there are actually parents who are spanking a 1-year- old child. Now, what could a 1-year-old possibly do to deserve being spanked? Come home drunk after a date? Lose the family fortune playing the ponies? Start a war under false pretenses?
In my opinion, there`s nothing a child can do that warrants parent`s spanking them. Young children, pee poop, cry and throw food. Ok, so does my Uncle Louie at the Olive Garden, but that`s another story because he drinks.
But that`s what children do, that`s their job. And it`s the parent`s job to raise them, teach them right from wrong and communicated in a manner that does not involve bruising physically or psychologically.
The philosopher, Rene Descartes, I dated him. He didn`t say I spank, therefore I am. He said, I think, therefore I am.
So when your children start carrying on and screaming and yelling and driving you crazy, don`t lift your hand to them, lift your mind. Think it through. Spanking your children won`t make them love or respect you. It will make them fear and resent you.
Do you want to be a parent or a network executive? I believe that spanking is abuse. Hopefully that`s not just me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well done. "THE JOY BEHAR SHOW" starts Tuesday September 29th at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on HLN but you can check it out right now on cnn.com/joy.
Up next here on ISSUES, are cops look for more suspects in the Yale murder case? We`re going to have an update on the Annie Le investigation.
And new shockers in the Anna Nicole Smith case: claims of pharmaceutical suicide and sexual contact between Anna Nicole and her female psychiatrist, stunning allegations. And we`re taking your calls on this one; 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. Weigh in on Anna Nicole Smith.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did Anna Nicole Smith`s doctor attempt to prescribe her a deadly dosage of prescription drugs just days after her son`s death? What about claims the late model had improper sexual contact with her doctors?
All of that in just a moment, but first, "Top of the Block" tonight.
Jonathan Widawsky, the heartbroken fiance of the murdered Yale grad student was seen leaving his Long Island home yesterday wearing what would had been his wedding ring. Annie Le and Widawsky were set to wed the very day that her decomposing body was found stuffed behind a wall.
As her loved ones plan her funeral, cops announced no other arrests are expected in this case. They believe lab techie Raymond Clark acted alone when he allegedly strangled the 24-year-old. And police are now disputing claims that Clark, quote, "broke the bones and mangled the body of the strangled Yale graduate student to fit it through a wall," end quote.
Le`s memorial and burial are set for Saturday near her family`s home in California. What a terrible tragedy.
That is tonight`s "Top of the Block."
Brand new court documents just unsealed. Inside, I mean, shocking new details about Anna Nicole Smith`s death. Investigators called the star a drug seeker -- yes, we knew that -- and say multiple pharmacists warned Anna Nicole`s doctors, "If you give her all these drugs, she will die."
After Anna`s son died, her psychiatrist, Christine Eroshevich allegedly wrote prescriptions for a boatload of drugs. One even nicknamed hospital heroin.
A pharmacist says he saw this list and said, no way. He refused to fill the scrips calling it pharmaceutical suicide. He says he thought to himself, "They are going to kill her." Anna`s shrink also allegedly got her hands on chlorohydrate to help Anna sleep.
Another pharmacist warned, "I wouldn`t give her that unless you want your picture on the front page of the National Enquirer." The infamous blond battled drugs long before her son`s death. This disturbing video shows a pregnant Anna completely out of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I bet this is worth money.
ANNA NICOLE SMITH, MODEL: Why?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: this thing you`re looking into.
SMITH: It`s a camera.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did everybody surrounding this addict enable her to die? Scandalous new claims inside these new documents that Anna Nicole had -- are you sitting down -- sexual contact with her doctors. We reached out to the doctors involved, Sandeep Kapoor`s lawyer told HLN, "No way, Jose." He`s openly gay. Hey, that rhymes.
Straight out to my expert panel and Mike Walters from TMZ. Mike, what is the very latest coming out of the shocking documents that were just released?
MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Well, there`s so much of these documents. I just got finished reading it cover to cover for the second time to see what I could find out. But I will start with the fact of all the medications.
In there these two doctors, they`re describing the overmedication of Anna Nicole Smith. The pregnancy was key. Doctor Sandeep Kapoor according to documents was over-prescribing in some cases ten times over the limit that a normal person would get.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: During her pregnancy?
WALTERS: This is during the year the nine months that she was pregnant that the prescriptions were coming in and going out. So -- and then you go to Eroshevich where this is days after her son died.
Now remember she was in a hospital. She had -- remember she was in the hospital in and out because of her baby. So she`s in a hospital. But this fax goes into these pharmacies that you were talking about saying we will never give her this medication. It was a handwritten fax so these guys were going, "What is this?"
And the list was like this huge cocktail. And guess what? The killer in these documents which is going to come out is the two drugs: chlorohydrate and Clozapam (ph) that -- the ones that were on that list. The big ones -- they were like, "I would never give this if you want to be on the cover of National Enquirer." Those two were the keys in this drug cocktail that killed Anna Nicole Smith when it came out.
And also I have to go into the sexual thing really quick because that was explosive. They described the photos. This isn`t sexual as in a bathtub and they`re nude. It is -- there are multiple photos which they have. This isn`t -- didn`t happen.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Of who?
WALTER: Of Eroshevich, her psychiatrist/the person that sent the fax to get the dope and Anna Nicole in sexual positions. This isn`t, like, you know, topless sunbathing. This is really graphic stuff. And Sandeep Kapoor, the other doctor in the nightclub nuzzling her neck, kissing her neck on video and in photos.
So this is highly inappropriate and I can`t believe that the doctors have that relationship with her. And it`s still -- I can`t even describe.
I could go on forever of all of the stuff that`s in there about how many other people these doctors also did this to is why I think they`re on the chopping block right.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely and I want to say that we did contact, reached out to Dr. Eroshevich`s attorneys as well as Dr. Sandeep Kapoor`s attorney. And Dr. Kapoor`s attorney said Dr. Kapoor did not have a sexual relationship with Anna Nicole. He is openly gay and he did not have a social relationship with her either although there is this photo of him cavorting with her.
I mean was Anna Nicole having a sexual relationship with the other doctor? We`ve already covered the documents referencing a video of Dr. Kapoor. We`ve explained that. But then we have a pic of a shirtless Dr. Kapoor.
Take a look at this photo. I want you to take a close look at it and when we come back we`re going to analyze it. Is this how a doctor is supposed to behave? I wonder.
It seems that when it came to Anna Nicole she would get professionals, whether it was a foreign minister of a country or a doctor or a real estate magnate, they all seemed to respond to her sexually.
And I`m not saying this doctor here did, because he`s openly gay. But something`s going on. Something`s fishy in Denmark somewhere with Anna Nicole.
All right, addiction is at the very heart of Anna Nicole`s tragedy and so many stories, including my own. As you know, it`s national recovery month. I want to urge you to pick up my new book "I Want." You`re going to learn so much about my struggle with alcohol addiction and how I overcame it.
Some of my confessions are rather shocking I`ll put it that way. Get my recovery memoir in bookstores now at CNN.com/Jane. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi this is (INAUDIBLE); if you can please respond to the Hard Rock. She`s not breathing and she`s not responsive. She`s actually Anna Nicole Smith.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Outrageous new developments in the case against the doctors who allegedly helped Anna Nicole Smith get the drugs. Did those drugs ultimately kill her? And the phone lines lighting up. Melody, Ohio; your question or thought, ma`am?
MELODY, OHIO: Yes, Jane, I myself am no stranger to addiction. And I do believe that she did have the drug-seeking behavior. But for a psychiatrist to give out these medicines, I just -- I don`t understand it.
But my question is have they ever said that Anna had any underlying diseases or any underlying pain that would have required her to have these types of medicines? Thank you.
VELEZ: Well, I think, Brian Russell, the reason she was given these, or that the prescriptions were written for these meds was that her son had died five days earlier.
RUSSELL: Some of them. Let me give you the micro and the macro on this, Jane. The micro is this is an example I believe of Hollywood health care in which doctors are willing to give a celebrity just about anything to be in their company, maybe sexual company, maybe just their company.
But at the macro level it`s like you said at the top of the show today. We`ve become a quick-fix culture in which happiness is to be pursued by the fastest road, or what looks like the fastest road as opposed to the most lasting or meaningful road.
People don`t want to do anything hard. They don`t want to overcome any obstacles. But parts of life like losing a loved one are hard and there`s growth to be obtained by overcoming obstacles. So I`m with you.
I wish that people would start looking for their happiness not at the bottom of pill bottles or alcohol bottles but by actually working through these difficult issues and overcoming these obstacles and psychotherapy is a great way to do that.
CLARK: It sure is Jane.
KAVINOKY: There`s one thing more here. There`s one other feature. And that is Anna was very publicly a train wreck and there were hordes of people that profited by her remaining in that condition. There were plenty of people surrounding her who not only weren`t providing her with the incentive to get well but it was the incentive to stay sick because everybody made money by her being that way.
HONOWITZ: That was her thing. I mean, that was what she prided herself on, unfortunately. She didn`t pride herself -- maybe she did but others didn`t take pride in her being an actress or a model. The fact of the matter is people watched her show and watched her because they wanted to see what she would do to screw things up.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It was a train wreck.
HONOWITZ: That was her thing.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It was a train wreck.
CLARK: For sure.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Anna Nicole had prescriptions for 44 medications when she died. Her long-time companion/attorney Howard K. Stern testified that it was her son`s death that killed her. Let`s listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD K. STERN, SMITH`S ATTORNEY, COMPANION: On the day that Daniel died Anna honestly was never the same. I mean, I would say that physically she died last week, but in a lot of ways emotionally she died when Daniel died.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLARK: But Jane...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Don Clark, go ahead.
CLARK: Yes, first of all, I don`t believe anything that Howard Stern says about this situation because these drugs, there`s a history that goes way back with these prescription drugs and I think it`s time for us to target on it.
We`ve been following this and she didn`t just start taking these when Daniel died. I mean, there`s information...
CLARK: ...that`s floating out there that she was taking it all through pregnancy and they were doing these sorts of things to her.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Anybody who saw her show saw how messed up she was...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...or appeared to be, unless she`s -- she was the great actress of all time and that was all put on. She`s been on drugs for a long time before her tragic death.
And it`s a cautionary tale for all Americans. Live life on life`s terms, don`t medicate yourself away.