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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Sixth Suspect Arrested in Gang Rape; Dodgers at Center of Testy Divorce

Aired October 30, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, cracking down on the war on women. Cops rounding up more suspects in the horrific homecoming gang rape. Six males have now been arrested, accused of raping a 15-year- old girl for two and a half hours. Four more rapists could still be out there. And what about the video and pictures? Has this girl`s nightmare gone viral?

Plus, a bitter divorce of billion-dollar proportions. The owners of the L.A. Dodgers are splitting up. And you will not believe how much money the wife wants. She`s demanding almost half a million dollars per month. That`s more than $15,000 a day. So how`s this going to shake out? We`ll crunch the numbers.

Also, too fat to kill? A man accused of murdering his former son-in- law said he couldn`t do it because he`s too fat. What a fascinating defense. This guy weighs 285 pounds. I didn`t realize there was a weight limit on guns. Will the jury buy this new Twinkie defense?

Plus, another lawmaker caught with his proverbial pants down. Cops say Roland Horning was parked at a cemetery with a stripper, sex toys, and Viagra. And all this allegedly happened during his lunch break. We`ll give you all the sordid details.

ISSUES starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, more suspects nabbed in that horrific gang rape outside a California high school. Some of the suspects are juvenile boys, ages 15 and 16. Now they`re charged as adults and could go to prison for life. They are accused of raping a 15-year-old girl for two and a half hours just steps from a homecoming dance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. MARK GAGAN, RICHMOND POLICE: It`s something out of a Hollywood movie. It`s so extremely vicious and absolutely unnecessary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Will the crowd of gawkers who did absolutely nothing to help this girl ever be punished? Police say as many as 20 people, males, laughed, took photos, possibly even took cell phone video while this victim was being brutalized. What is being done to make sure those images are locked down forever? If they go viral, this girl will be victimized all over again.

Now, is the school going to take any responsibility for the lack of safety here? The victim`s friend was at the dance and says school officials and police were completely negligent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAMI BAKER, VICTIM`S FRIEND: I looked outside of the gym, and I saw 12 to 15 guys sitting there with no I.D.s. The officers, not only did they not check the I.D.s of those students or men sitting outside of our campus, but the security officers who are employed here did no job checking either. The assistant principal looked outside and actually saw those men and did nothing about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What? That`s an outrage. I want to welcome my fantastic panel: Judge Karen Mills Francis, host of "The Judge Karen Show"; Michelle Golland, clinical psychologist; Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels and WABC radio talk show host; and Tom Kenniff, criminal defense attorney.

Got to start with the Guardian Angel tonight. Tonight, Curtis, we have both covered so many crimes, but this one seems to have crossed some invisible line. It has generated outrage around the world because of the sheer number of males involved in this brutality. As many as ten participating, as many as 20 watching.

Is this not the most hideous example of what we call, on ISSUES, the war on women, a hunter/prey dynamic that is somehow developing between males and females?

CURTIS SLIWA, FOUNDER, GUARDIAN ANGELS: No question. And it`s like the gal was a pass-around pack for these guys to get their jollies off, while others were passing by, back and forth. And you know with the wireless technology, with their cell phones, their wireless, taking video, taking photographs, wanting to post it out there on the Internet.

And nobody did jack diddly squat, to warn, to yell, to scream, to evade, to stop, none of that, while you have the authorities inside were watching the people who obviously were celebrating and partying at the dance.

And you scratch your head and you say, obviously, women under siege. This is something that was more akin to a gang initiation. And that`s exactly what you saw outside, in the public, for all to see: a gang initiation with a victim.

And you know these guys misused it. They should lose it. Castration should be their cure. They should have kept their rocket in their pocket.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Nothing, absolutely nothing can justify what happened to this young girl. But I do want to know, as a recovering alcoholic myself, and we talk a lot about addiction here on ISSUE, what role alcohol may have played in this crime.

"The Mercury News" cites police as saying there was drinking among the group in this poorly-lit courtyard before the incident. Quote, "The victim consumed a large amount of brandy in a short period of time while socializing and then collapsed," end quote.

The paper said that`s when the attack began. An investigator told us, quote, "We are looking at toxicology reports to determine her blood alcohol content and determine if she was drugged."

My question to psychologist Michelle Golland: if the victim was passed out, how might that have influenced her attackers psychologically? Could it have made them more likely to objectify her?

MICHELLE GOLLAND, PSYCHOLOGIST: You know, it doesn`t matter to me. She -- whether she was passed out or resisting, these men attacked her, brutalized her, and they should be prosecuted to the fullest extent. This is horrific. And it doesn`t matter to me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is horrific. It is -- But we`re trying to understand. I know it may not matter to you, but if we don`t understand -- OK, because otherwise, guess what? We`re all part of the pornography of violence. If we just sit here and talk about this as who, what, when, where, why, without getting to the deeper why, without trying to come up with societal solutions, then we`re just part of the pornography of violence. So that is why, Michelle, we`re trying to understand the dynamics at work here.

Now, Curtis Sliwa said maybe this was a gang initiation. I`m saying maybe they were in some way justifying their behavior psychologically, Judge Karen Mills Francis. Nothing excuses this.

KAREN MILLS FRANCIS, HOST, "THE JUDGE KAREN SHOW": Right. You know what? Just the basic tenants of decency, I think we need to be concerned about what`s going on with our children. It bothers me that 24 people -- 24 different people from different homes and different environments could all stand there and watch while this brutalization was going on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. Right.

FRANCIS: I believe it`s the symbols that they see of women in videos and on TV, half naked girls that are giving up their bodies for a couple of dollars. It is the image that women aren`t worth anything.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, guess what? You have brought me to my big issue. And we need to make this case a national wake-up call.

FRANCIS: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Our society is saturated in sexually-charged violence. We associate masculinity with violence. We sexualize violence. And teenagers are picking up on it. It`s everywhere in these horror movies that are going to make millions over the Halloween weekend, which is coming up. Films, video games, TV. It`s become way more explicit.

Now, Tom Kenniff, criminal defense attorney, wait a second. I want to cite a new study that just came out this week by the Parents Television Council that says incidents of violence on television against women and teenage girls is skyrocketing -- OK? -- at rates that far exceed the overall increase in violence on television.

Violence, irrespective of gender, on TV increased 2 percent from 2004 to 2009. Incidents of violence against women increased 120 percent during that same time.

The most frequent type of violence against women on TV was beating, 29 percent, followed by threats of violence, 18 percent. Shooting, 11 percent; rape, 8 percent; stabbing, 6 percent; torture, 2 percent, and violence against women resulted in death 19 percent of the time.

Now, this is a study that just came out. It`s essentially saying we are literally, Tom, indoctrinating these young men to associate masculinity with sexual sadism.

TOM KENNIFF, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, it`s a two-fold problem. It`s not just television. It`s television in a vacuum in parenting. We have a parenting crisis in this country. Look, up to close to 50 percent of the children now are born out of wedlock. There`s a huge problem with the absence of any...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know about the wedlock schmedlock. I`m not buying that. I don`t care...

KENNIFF: Hold on. Hold on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Angelina Jolie is not married to Brad Pitt. Nobody says a thing about that.

KENNIFF: They have millions of dollars. Change the environment. Put them in the inner city with the absence of any sort of fatherly figure. I`m not talking about an upper middle class...

FRANCIS: This has nothing to do with the inner cities.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know these kids didn`t have that. I don`t know anything about these kids.

KENNIFF: No. We`re talking about the problem in general. It`s not just television. I mean, kids can manage what they see on television if they`re guided correctly at home.

FRANCIS: ... family. "The New York Times" just said last week the average American family isn`t the Cleavers anymore. The average American family is usually headed by a single parent, and that`s usually a woman. Black, white, Asian, Latino, across the board.

KENNIFF: Right. And there`s a lot of problems in our culture because of that. I`m not talking about...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t think that that`s the reason. I think it`s because we -- we don`t teach kids what they need to learn these days. What we teach them is precisely what they need to avoid.

KENNIFF: And that is parenting.

FRANCIS: We need to have...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I never watched this kind of violence. I remember when I went to see "A Clockwork Orange as a teenager, and I walked out of it when they started kicking. They did -- there was a very sadistic scene. That would have been child`s play today. That would have been nothing. The kids today would laugh at that. I was horrified. I walked out. OK?

GOLLAND: Jane, it`s one thing...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... teenagers are experiencing is monumentally greater then when we were kids.

GOLLAND: We`re also not speaking about what public schools need to do and funding in public schools for mental health professionals and teaching exactly what you`re talking about, Jane. Conflict resolution, what to do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. We`re going to talk about that in a second as we try to dissect this nightmare.

Plus, does murder have a weight limit? One man claims he couldn`t have killed his son-in-law, because he`s too fat to kill.

But first, a girl raped for two and a half hours, nobody does a thing. Where was security? How can anyone feel safe going to that school from now on?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BAKER: Disrupted the school`s morale briefly, including my own. I am friends with the girl. When I started here, I felt extremely unsafe, and so did she, due to the lack of police officers and security officers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACK MCDEVITT, CRIMINOLOGIST: What you`re seeing is that people won`t call the police because of fear of retaliation. Particularly young people won`t come forward and won`t all the police because they`re afraid of what`s going to happen to them. So they develop a culture that they`re not going to report any crimes, even something as horrendous as this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was a criminologist describing the sick and dangerous "no-snitching" mentality out there today. It`s part of the reason the gang rape was able to go on for two and a half hours in front of a huge crowd of gawkers. Instead of using their cell phones to call police, they used them cell to snap photos and possibly record videos of this nightmare. That is how numb these teens are to violence, especially violence against women.

Curtis Sliwa, you are out there on the streets, dealing with the teenagers today. What is it about this whole "no-snitching" phenomenon that we`re seeing? We`ve got another case we`re going to talk about in a second.

SLIWA: Well, Jane, it is part of the gang culture. But more importantly, it`s part of the hip-hop monsters that they project in their rap lyrics, in reggae tone and dance hall reggae music. Constantly saying snitches get stitches and end up in ditches. You should have window shades on your eyes, cotton balls on your ears, and a zipper on your mouth. Never rat anyone out, no matter what the crime is.

If you`re the victim, instead of letting the police know, just get a gun and try to settle the score.

But I`ll let you know, there`s another case that recently took place, of Roman Polanski, that got a lot of attention throughout California. An adult male, feeds Quaaludes and booze to a 13-year-old girl, rapes her, flees.

And look at all the trendoids in Hollywood, the stars and the starlets coming to his defense. What kind of a message are we sending to kids out there...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, look, we know...

SLIWA: ... that you can do this and get away with it?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right. We know that there`s a double standard of justice in this country. We know that the rich and famous and the powerful get away with crimes that the poor and powerless don`t. And that is a fact.

I mean, anybody who`s ever sat in court waiting for a celebrity case, as I have, and seeing how the public defenders will shoot through 20, 30, 40 cases, convicting and sending away people who don`t even know what`s going on because they don`t even know the lingo that`s being used by these people. And you see the celebrity case come in and...

(CROSSTALK)

GOLLAND: I don`t buy -- I don`t buy that it was about the snitching.

FRANCIS: I don`t either.

GOLLAND: I do not buy that. Because any of those boys or men could have walked away and called 911 anonymously. They could have found a security guard. They could have done any -- any one of -- numerous things.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say this. Let me say this, OK? There`s a couple of ideas here. We`re trying to figure out what was going through the minds of these teens who participated in the violation of this girl.

Now, it could be, is it possible that it could be a case of bystander effect? Sociologists say the more people who watch an event, the less likely somebody is to take action.

GOLLAND: Jane...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We can remember the most famous case was -- let me just finish this. The bystander effect was illustrated in the murder of Kitty Genovese. She was stabbed to death in 1974. There were several dozen people who heard her screaming hysterically for police. Nobody called police. And that`s -- the bystander effect was coined because of that case.

Anything to do with this, Judge Karen?

FRANCIS: I don`t -- I think that we`re trying to be politically correct here. You started out, Jane, talking about the rise in violence.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m not trying to be politically correct.

FRANCIS: No, but you started out talking about the rise in violence against women. We talk about these girls that are being picked up off the streets every day by men. These women that are being picked up every day off the streets by men. The fact that a woman is more likely to be killed by a man than she is to be killed by a woman.

It`s a fact that 24 boys, young men, can sit around and watch a girl being brutalized. What has happened? We fought 100 years for women`s rights, the right to be equal. Now we need to fight for our right to be safe.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s why I talk about a war on women in this country. It seems like every week there is a case of juvenile violence that`s more hideous than the last one.

I mean, I want to go to this case that we had recently. The cell phone video of Derrion Albert`s fatal beating in Chicago that prompted national outrage. The 16-year-old boy was pummeled and stomped to death by a mob. This was last month. Dozens of people watched. Three teens are charged in the attack.

If not for the video, who knows if anybody would have been caught, because the snitching factor was at work here, as this kid was pummeled and brutalized.

There was another case in Florida where a young boy was set on fire because he snitched, and he told, basically, the adults about the fact that one of the kids was trying to steal his dad`s bike. And he was set on fire. So I don`t understand what this snitching thing is.

Tom Kenniff, weigh in. You`re the former prosecutor.

KENNIFF: Yes, absolutely. Look, there`s -- the problem isn`t simply violence against women. It`s not simply television. It`s a culture of youth violence. And that violence derives from the lack of proper parenting.

I`m not talking about simply single parenthood. I`m a single parent myself. I know what it`s about. But you have a whole generation of young, mostly inner city, but it`s rural and suburban, too, of young males and young women who are being raised without any sort of effective role models in their life, without any sort of effective parenting. And there could be plenty of single parenting that goes on out there. But...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is rural (ph) as well. There was a case the other day, I think it was in some rural state, very, very rural area, I think it was New Hampshire, where these kids came in and they beat this mother to death with an ax, and then they set on the daughter with an ax. And that was in the rural, rural wilds of...

KENNIFF: It goes on everywhere. But look, kids turn to street violence; kids turn to street gangs to find a family. They`re looking for a street family. That`s why you have the rapes, the initiation...

GOLLAND (?): Of course. They travel in packs.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it right there, panel. Sorry. We`re out of time. We`re going to stay on top of this. We`ve got to.

You know, peer and societal pressure comes in so many forms. That dovetails with addiction, whether it`s to drug, alcohol, violence, even food. I struggled with so many addictions myself. I`m sharing my battle with alcohol and other substances in my new book, "iWant." You can order a copy at CNN.com/Jane. Or just go to your local bookstore.

I want to thank my fantastic panel for that healthy debate.

Coming up, a hefty defense, literally. A man accused of murdering his former son-in-law says he couldn`t do it because he`s too fat.

And a super expensive divorce battle brews between Dodgers` owner Frank McCourt and wife Jamie. This one is so ugly, and you won`t believe some of the details. We`re going to tell you after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In the "Spotlight" tonight, a very rich wife has an apparent affair with her limo driver, and the next thing you know, there`s a battle over who owns the Dodgers? Even in L.A., land of the vicious divorce battles, this one`s a humdinger.

Jamie McCourt has filed for divorce from her husband of 30 years, Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, citing irreconcilable differences. What else? The trickiest part of this process might be figuring out who actually owns the team. He says he`s the sole owner. She claims they both are but that he tricked her into signing away her legal standing. Mrs. McCourt wants to be reinstated as the Dodgers CEO. Her husband fired her, claiming she was fooling around with the company driver and vacationing with the chauffeur on the Dodgers` dime.

Now, here`s the biggest shocker. Mrs. McCourt wants -- get this -- $321,000 a month in spousal support, plus, her old job back. If she`s not rehired? She wants nearly half a million dollars a month.

Oh, and she also wants use of the owner`s suite at Dodgers Stadium, private jet travel, five-star hotel access, unlimited travel expenses, payment of country club and BlackBerry fees, and let`s not forget flowers in the office. Now, that is what I call a real sense of entitlement.

Joining me now, Mike Walters, assignment manager at TMZ.

Mike, I look at this list of requests. I can`t help think how really obscene they are. You know, most Americans make something like 30 grand a year or less. She spends that much in clothing every single month, doesn`t she?

MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Yes. Well, here`s the weird thing. This divorce is only a couple days old, and the file`s already over 600 pages of both of them saying, "Here`s what I want, here`s what I want."

The most interesting thing, I think, about what you`re talking about is the Dodgers itself, the entity is now a party in the divorce, because what they`re saying in divorce court is that they both own the Dodgers. She wants her job back. He wants sole ownership of the Dodgers. The Dodgers are saying if a judge from divorce court gets involved in this argument, they`re now controlling day-to-day operations of the Dodgers. So it`s really weird, but...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I know. I think it is very bizarre. You know, Mrs. McCourt`s lawyer says she already has plans to buy out her husband`s ownership of the Dodgers. This team is worth about $800 million.

Now, Mr. McCourt says, "Unh-uh, I have no plans to sell the Dodgers to her or anybody else." However, there`s a possibility, as you just mentioned, Mike, the court could declare the team community property, which is when she would attempt to make this bid.

So let me ask you this. She`s asking for all this money. Is she actually planning to buy the team with the money she gets from her husband in the divorce settlement?

WALTERS: Well, I think that in a divorce like this, one of the only things left -- I mean, there`s so much money -- is power. And so power is taking the Dodgers away. That`s his baby. And if she could take the Dodgers away from Frank McCourt, that would be the ultimate slap in the face.

Now, you`ve got to remember, Jane, in all these divorces that we work on with celebrities, there`s so much money there. But remember, when you`re a wife or a husband and you get divorced, you should be able to, at least by law, to live the lifestyle you were living before you got divorced.

So what she`s saying, all that money per month, she`s saying, "Look, hey, guess what? I lived that way with Frank. Why shouldn`t I live that way with the security guard that I now hang out with that was my driver?" And that`s what she`s doing.

She -- and also, that`s my favorite part. She wants a job back for the guy they fired, Jeff Fuller, who is her boyfriend/driver/security guard. She wants him reinstated so they can -- so they hang out on company money and go and travel around and go to nationally-televised (ph) baseball games.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, boy. Just -- just proof that money doesn`t buy you happiness. Thank you, Mike.

WALTERS: Very true.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Coming up, just when I thought I heard it all, this guy is saying he couldn`t have killed, because he`s too fat to kill.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Too fat to kill: a man accused of murdering his former son-in-law says he couldn`t do it, because he`s too fat. Oh, really? This guy weighs 285 pounds. I didn`t realize there was a weight limit on guns. Will the jury buy this new Twinkie defense?

Another lawmaker caught with his proverbial pants down. Cops say Roland Corning was parked in a cemetery, with a stripper, sex toys and Viagra. We`ll give you all the sordid details.

Just when you think you`ve heard it all. A New Jersey jury is being asked to swallow a super-sized defense, 62-year-old Edward Ates, as in "I ates too much" is accused of murdering his former son-in-law. He said he couldn`t have done it, no way, no how. Why? Because he`s to fat to kill. I`m not making this up.

In just a moment I will be cross-examining his lawyer about this new variation on the old Twinkie defense -- there you are. Prosecutors say the 300 approximately pound man, Ates, wanted his former son-in-law dead because of tensions between the accused killer and his victim were strained after an allegedly bitter divorce settlement between his daughter and the victim. On the stand, he nixed that theory.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDWARD ATES, ACCUSED OF KILLING FORMER SON-IN-LAW: There isn`t (INAUDIBLE) as I did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you care about him one way or the other?

ATES: No, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you murder Paul Duncsak?

No, I did not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: According to the cops, the victim was talking on his cell phone when he was shot six times. His fiance was on the other end of the line.

This clip from ABC News.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LORI ADAMO, VICTIM`S FIANCE: Suddenly he started to scream. He said, oh, oh no. And then he stopped speaking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The weighty question for the jury, could this obese man manage to do a flight of stairs, clean up the crime scene and then hustle off in a quick getaway driving 21 hours to his mom`s house? If the jury says yes he could do that, even though he`s overweight, he could get up to 20 years in the slammer, where I hear the food ain`t so great. So a lot is at stake here.

We do have some serious matters tipping the scales of justice.

Back with my fantastic panel: and joining me now, Walter Lesnevich, the very creative defense attorney representing Edward Ates, as in "I ates too much".

Your client is accused of shooting the victim with a gun. How is his weight a factor in his ability to pick up a gun and fire a weapon?

WALTER LESNEVICH, ATTORNEY FOR EDWARD ATES: It`s not just his weight. It`s everything that goes along with being morbidly obese: diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, physical movement restrictions.

The man was 62 at the time, 5`8" and almost 300 pounds. The killer shot upwards, four stairs down and then jumped four stairs and fired two shots, straight into the victim. The coroner testified to this. He then put four more shots straight in, never missed.

A man of Ates` body mass, going up four stairs, is going to have some heavy breathing. He`s going to be going -- and that gun`s going to move. To hold it perfectly straight and not miss seven shots is impossible.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can I say something. You`re a good attorney. If I ever get in trouble, I`m calling you.

LESNEVICH: But the doctors said it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m calling you, my friend.

LESNEVICH: We have medical testimony, unrefuted, unrefuted internist. And this isn`t subjective. Ates spent three nights in the hospital tested overnight for sleep disorder, sleep apnea.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re saying that he was too asleep -- ok Judge Karen?

MICHELLE GOLLAND, PSYCHOLOGIST: No this is Michelle.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, Michelle, ok. Michelle, talk it away -- somebody.

GOLLAND: Thank you. We also know that people who are small and weak can lift up cars when they get an adrenaline rush. Our bodies take over in moments of stress, fight or flight, and will do what we need to do to get done.

And literally this could -- I find it very interesting.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Like sumo wrestlers...

(CROSS TALK)

LESNEVICH: The doctor addressed exactly that issue. The doctor said, you can lift up a car, an old lady can lift up a car to free her child. But she cannot hold the car up for 21 hours.

JUDGE KAREN MILLS FRANCIS, HOST, "JUDGE KAREN SHOW": Isn`t there somehow evidence against the defendant in this case, isn`t there some computer evidence that he was searching on how to commit the perfect murder?

GOLLAND: Using a silencer.

MILLS FRANCIS: How to pick a lock on a sliding glass door? Don`t they also have some wiretaps where he`s talking to his sister and his mother and saying, let`s make sure we all have our stories straight? Isn`t there some evidence that his sister lied to the police about where he was the day before? And his 83-year-old mother...

(CROSS TALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Let Walter, answer those -- answer briefly.

LESNEVICH: Circumstantial evidence. There`s no eyewitness, there`s no fingerprints, there`s no DNA. There`s very good circumstantial evidence. There`s also medical testimony, unrefuted, that he physically couldn`t have done it. And there`s an unrefuted eyewitness who saw Ed`s car in Louisiana a half hour after the murder in New Jersey. It could not have happened.

(CROSS TALK)

MILLS FRANCIS: I want to say one thing, please. He`s got good enough facilities to drive 21 hours to visit his mother, ok? And drive a car but he doesn`t have the facility to hold a gun and shoot it? Give me a break.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on, hold on. We have heard of the abuse excuse, but now we`re hearing the obese excuse. It`s being used in defending Edward Ates, as in "I ates too much" against charges that he killed his ex son-in- law.

Here`s a clip from ABC. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LESNEVICH: In bright daylight in August, the fat old man`s running and nobody sees him.

DR. MICHAEL FARBER, WITNESS FOR THE DEFENSE: I find that very difficult in someone with obstructive sleep apnea, who`s morbidly obese.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Curtis Sliwa, the Guardian Angels, this man, the defendant, is also an experienced marksman with military experience.

LESNEVICH: No, no, no.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Whoa, whoa, that`s not true?

LESNEVICH: Not true. That`s not true.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what`s being reported. Go ahead, Curtis.

CURTIS SLIWA, FOUNDER, GUARDIAN ANGELS: Jane, fat man`s not nimble, fat man`s not quick, we know fat man can`t jump over the candlestick. But fat man can take that gun and go -- that much I know. I got shot by a guy who was 325 pounds and he aerated me with hollow point bullets.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I think you make a good argument right there.

It`s not just a matter of being too obese to carry out this crime. Ates said he wasn`t there because he was visiting his mama in another state. The prosecutor was not buying that either.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How often did you visit your mother who you cared for?

ATES: I have visited for about 30 minutes since 1999.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So from `99 to `06 you spent 30 minutes with your mother?

ATES: Approximately, yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. That sounds kind of like the old kitchen sink strategy, Walter. I mean, if the jury doesn`t believe the obese excuse, then he had no motive. And if we don`t believe that, he had an alibi. What about the evidence as we`ve been talking about here that he allegedly asked his sister to lie for him?

LESNEVICH: That evidence is very, very contradicted by the next-door neighbor, who says no, I saw the car there on Wednesday.

Let me make a point. This is totally different than a Twinkie defense. Twinkie defense and all of that is, "I did it. But here`s why." This is "I didn`t do it. I physically could not have done it." It`s nothing similar.

MILLS FRANCIS: Wasn`t there some evidence also that...

(CROSS TALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold it. One at a time.

MILLS FRANCIS: Wasn`t there evidence that when he was in Louisiana visiting his mother that same year, that there was a snake in the grass and he shot him and killed him with one shot?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on. Hold on. We`ve been talking -- let`s examine these kind of cookie defenses. We`ve heard about the old Twinkie defense. And that`s now become sort of a code phrase for any kind of wacky legal defense strategy as we all know.

You know it was an actual real tactic used in the defense of Dan White, who was accused of assassinating gay rights activist Harvey Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone in the late `70s. White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter.

Ronnie Zamora`s lawyer argued that Zamora had TV intoxication from watching violent shows like Kojak and that`s why he fatally shot his elderly neighbor. The jury didn`t buy that and convicted him.

But here is the absolutely strangest defense of all from Tondo Ansley (ph). She was one in a string of defendants who claimed the movie "The Matrix" turned them into murderers. But in her case the Twinkie-esque "Matrix" defense convinced the jury to find her not guilty by reason of insanity.

I think actually Walter, if your client gets off, this is really going to be a watershed moment and it`s going to set one for the record books here.

LESNEVICH: Again, this is very different. Those people said they did the act. They had an excuse. This is a case where we say the act was not committed; very different.

(CROSS TALK)

GOLLAND: I actually think it`s also -- I mean, people who are overweight should be offended by this. I mean, to say he couldn`t go up four steps? I personally -- my father is overweight and has diabetes and all those things. And I think if he was vengeful and angry, that could happen.

I mean, I just think it`s offensive to people who are overweight, who are - - who still could be healthy and are still agile, that you use this as an excuse.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think it`s...

LESNEVICH: It`s not an excuse, it`s a fact.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... another reason why we should all eat healthy and try to stay in good shape and perhaps that is the lesson we have to take away from it.

Walter, thank you so much. Again, you are one fantastic lawyer. Big thanks to our entire fantastic panel.

Now we`re moving on. Six black students who were denied entry into a night club reached an agreement with the owners. But the students were not after money. Stick around and see what they achieved instead. It`s pretty amazing.

Plus, cops say a lawmaker went out for lunch and ended up -- you won`t believe this -- in a cemetery with a stripper. Maybe he should just pack his lunch next time. We`re going to have all the really, really bizarre and salacious details coming up in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let us meet today`s winner, Tyrone from Houston, Texas. Before getting sober, he was known as "Killer" (ph) and eventually landed in jail. He drove a stolen car to rehab and he now celebrates 16 years clean. Way to go, Tyrone.

Tyrone founded the Bonita House of Hope, a drug and alcohol rehab center. What a fantastic story of recovery.

Thank you, everyone, for all of your e-mails and iReports. We`ve gotten such uplifting stories and so many of them; something like 100 a day are coming in; stories of recovery that we`re going to continue featuring them here on ISSUES.

Go to cnn.com/jane. You could win a copy of my new book and have the chance to win a trip to New York City and come and hang out here on the set with me. I will show you a very good time, but a sober time.

All right. Cops say a South Carolina lawmaker took his lunch break and ended up in the car with a stripper and sex toys and Viagra. We`re going to take a look at that story in a second.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight: taking the high road in the fight against racism. Here on ISSUES, we covered the story of the six black college students who were recently denied entry into a Chicago nightclub.

Now we can tell you that those six young men have scored a big victory. The students reached an agreement with the club owners. Instead of suing the company, the students will join together with the bar to fight discrimination. The club has agreed to apologize to the students. The club owners are also joining the students in a rally against discrimination, and the club will take part in four, count them, four fund- raisers.

It`s refreshing to see these six young students come up with a creative solution that will help prevent something like this from happening again. Instead of suing the company and getting a quick payday, they`re actually turning this fiasco into a teachable moment. I think this is really a 21st century way of treating the problem and I hope it inspires others.

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

Whoa, this one is a shocking scandal: sexcapades (ph) in the cemetery of all places? A politician caught with his proverbial pants down in a graveyard; with him, an 18-year-old stripper.

South Carolina deputy assistant attorney general Roland Corning was on his lunch break when he met up with a stripper from the Platinum plus Gentleman`s Club. A cop spotted the pair on a deserted road at the edge of an empty cemetery. The cops searched Corning`s car.

Straight out of the police report: inside the car, the cop found Viagra, and several vibrating sex toys. Corning`s explanation? I always keep them with me just in case. What a practical guy.

The scandal has already sparking the late-night jokes. Listen to this clip from NBC`s "The Jay Leno Show."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, HOST, "THE JAY LENO SHOW": Well, I love this story. A 66-year- old deputy U.S. attorney general in South Carolina, home of Governor Mark Sanford, you know him. The guy`s name is Roland Corning. He`s lost his job, got fired after police discovered him at a cemetery with an 18-year- old stripper, a bag of sex toys and a bottle of Viagra.

To be fair, people do grieve differently, ok? Ok. Everybody grieves differently. Some bring flowers, some -- you know, we all -- yes. We all grieve in our own way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s pretty funny. As if this story couldn`t get any tackier, there`s another twist. The officer realized his wife worked with Corning in the attorney general`s office. So, hey, honey, he calls her from the scene. She spoke to her boss and allegedly told her husband, let him go.

Corning and the stripper then went on their merry way. Was this some kind of attempt to cover it up people? The scandal soon broke in the media. Corning was soon fired. Police say they did nothing wrong even though in some published reports this teenage stripper is being described as a prostitute.

ROLAND corning was a Republican South Carolina legislator in the `80s and `90s. What is it with these politicians and these sex scandals.

Straight back out to my fantastic expert panel: also joining in, Meg Kinnard, an AP reporter in Columbia, South Carolina. Meg, dare we ask what else is happening with this case?

MEG KINNARD, REPORTER ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, Jane, I tell you, it`s definitely been -- it`s definitely been an interesting year here in South Carolina. One thing we`re waiting on now is the dash camera video, and those phone calls that you mentioned that go along with this police report. That we got from the Columbia Police Department.

Like you said, Corning`s out of a job. And we still have a few questions that we`d like him to answer. But he hasn`t called us back.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So Judge Mills, I think one of the big questions, Judge Karen, is should the cops have treated this differently? First of all, I don`t know if it`s appropriate -- and I certainly don`t think it is -- to make a phone call to your wife when you find out that the person you stopped in a car works with her. And then take direction from her about what to do about the case.

MILLS FRANCIS: You know what, it`s totally improper. The attorney general is the chief prosecutor for the state; the chief legal officer for the state. And there are codes of conduct. And they`re supposed to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

I read in one report that the very first thing he did when the cop came up to the window was flash his badge and said, "Hey, I`m with the attorney general`s office," trying to use his influence.

What`s going on with South Carolina? I love South Carolina but they have problems with the governor. Remember he was supposed to be somewhere on the Appalachian Trail and he was in Argentina with his mistress. Now, the chief -- the chief prosecuting officer for the state is with an 18-year-old hooker in a cemetery? What`s going on?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And this is also very embarrassing because this South Carolina Attorney General, in other words this guy`s boss, has tried to make a name for himself cracking down on online prostitution.

So once again, it`s a case of the pot calling the kettle black; briefly, Curtis Sliwa.

SLIWA: Oh well, I don`t understand, in South Carolina, you go to the trunk of the car the Black and Decker power tool box, you have the wrench and you have the flairs for emergencies. Oh, yes and the Viagra, too. This way it`s one stop shopping, whenever you need it, it`s available to you in South Carolina.

MILLS: Unbelievable.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, stay right there, we`re going to have more in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF TANDY CARTER, COLUMBIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: We don`t see any impropriety by the officers. We don`t extend professional courtesies to other folks that have badges, you know. And I think he acted correctly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was the Columbia South Carolina police chief vehemently denying that the South Carolina state attorney got any special treatment. Roland Corning was pulled over at a cemetery with a car full of sex toys, Viagra and a stripper.

Now, I have to ask you, Meg Kinnard, you`re the reporter covering this, was there a controversy about the police report, I seem to remember?

KINNARD: Well, it did take us a little longer than usual to get a hold of this police report. And there were some questions as to why we weren`t able to get it within a couple of hours of sending an e-mail or affirmative information at request. That`s what usually happens. But it took a little longer this time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes and the suspicion is perhaps there was no police report written until media started asking and then and only then, they wrote a police report. We don`t know about that.

Now we`ve been talking South Carolina has been in the spotlight because of the other big recent sex scandal.

MILLS: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We all know about Governor Mark Sanford.

Let`s recap and review that one.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. MARK SANFORD, SOUTH CAROLINA: It began very innocently -- as I suspect many of these things do -- in just a casual e-mail back and forth; in advice on one`s life there and advice here. But, here, recently, over this last year, it developed into something much more than that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Governor Sanford disappeared this summer, he said he was hiking the Appalachians Trail; he was actually hiking up the skirt of his mistress in Argentina. I`ve got to call it like it is.

GOLLAND: Jane...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead.

GOLLAND: Jane, I really want to, I really want to weigh in on this, I mean what this is about, it`s about judgment.

MILLS: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, he is at a cemetery with the sex toys in his car at a known place for prostitution. This is why I question all these men that keep coming out that are doing inappropriate sexual things, at risk of their job, of their family of all these things. We have to question what sort of judgment is going on here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that brings me to my big issue: sex and politicians. Why do sex scandals and politicians always seem to go hand-in-hand? Listen to this montage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I engaged in adult consensual affair.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I engaged in conduct that was wrong. These encounters did not consist of sexual intercourse. They did not constitute sexual relations as I understood that time to be defined.

ELIOT SPITZER, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: To every New Yorker and to all of those who believed in what I tried to stand for, I sincerely apologize.

SANFORD: The bottom line is this, I have been unfaithful to my wife.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To my wife and my family, I apologize for what I have caused. I am deeply sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we`re just getting started, people. Let`s not forget about John Edwards` affair or remember the family lawmaker recently caught on tape talking about spanking his mistress.

MILLS: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I notice that there`s no female politicians here, Judge Karen.

MILLS: That`s what I was just about to say. Is that I was waiting to see the one woman who was in power, who used her power for sexual favors.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You can`t find one.

MILLS: It`s got to do with men and power.

But you know what? To give credit to the attorney general of South Carolina, he fired this guy two hours later.

KINNARD: Yes.

MILLS: All the news reports I read said he fired him two hours later. So at least he did the right thing. And the reason why the police didn`t arrest him is because it wasn`t anything arrestable (ph).

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, he`ll have more time to use that Viagra.

Thank you, fabulous panel. You`re watching ISSUES on HLN.

END