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Did Father of Murdered Girl Miss Warning Signs?

Aired November 18, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, sickening twists and turns in the murder of Shaniya Davis. This beautiful little angel was allegedly sold into prostitution by her own mother. Tonight, disturbing new claims that a family friend actually warned Shaniya`s father not to allow this little girl to live with her mom. And there`s allegations that this woman was using drugs and claims there were signs of abuse on Shaniya`s little arms, after a previous visit. Did Shaniya`s dad know about any of these alleged problems? Were obvious warning signs missed?

And cutting in line leads to racial divides. Outrage, controversy and charges of racism ripping through a small Missouri town. It all started when a woman was accused of jumping the line at Wal-Mart. An African- American high school teacher claims she was brutalized by police and mistreated by employees because of the color of her skin. But cops say she was belligerent and assaulted an officer. Now she`s facing 15 years in prison.

The case has sparked a face-off between the NAACP and the KKK. With all the murders and horrific crimes we`re talking about every day, is this really the kind of case we need to be prosecuting?

Plus, toxic secrets of a soccer mom. Diane Schuler was boozed up and high on pot when she drove the wrong way on a New York highway. Eight people were killed. Now an explosive new article in "New York" magazine goes inside her marriage. Her husband continues to defend her against accusations that she was reckless, and a regular drug user. Is he putting his wife up on a shrine? Did he miss the warning signs of addiction? Or is this all a giant and deadly case of denial?

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, horrifying claims that 5-year-old Shaniya Davis, who cops say was sold into prostitution, 5 years old, had previously been abused. And there`s accusations her mother was a known drug user.

Shaniya`s lifeless body was discovered a week after she was last seen on surveillance video with her alleged kidnapper, Mario McNeill. Tonight, just when you thought this case couldn`t get any sicker, the man who takes care of Shaniya`s half-sister is speaking out.

Tim Allen says he warned Shaniya`s dad not to send the 5-year-old to live with her biological mother, Antoinette Davis. Antoinette, as the world now knows, is charged with selling her daughter into sexual servitude. Tim Allen added this charge to the list of vile acts in Antoinette`s home.


TIM ALLEN, CARES FOR SHANIYA`S HALF-SISTER: Boyfriend, and his friends, or whatever, would put the cigarettes out on the baby`s arms.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What? He`s claiming they snuffed out their cigarettes on this baby`s flesh? Did anyone else see the alleged marks? You`d think they`d be hard to miss. Tim Allen believes the father shares some of the blame for the child`s death by allowing the girl to live with his troubled mom.

The explosive allegations do not stop there. Shaniya`s 17-year-old half-sister says the mom, Antoinette Davis, smoked pot in the home, and she suspects she did cocaine.

All this, and still no murder charge. Why not? And why aren`t cops telling us more about when Shaniya left that hotel at 7:30 in the morning? That`s the last time she was seen alive. Where`s the video of that? Is there somebody else involved?

Meantime, an extraordinary and dramatic moment last night on HLN. Nancy Grace interviewed Shaniya`s half brother, Byron.


NANCY GRACE, HLN ANCHOR: Have they told anybody what was the cause of death, Byron?

BYRON COLEMAN, SHANIYA`S HALF BROTHER: Actually, I haven`t heard anything. I don`t think my father has either. We`re not really sure too much yet. We`re still trying to figure that out now. So...

GRACE: And there is your dad right there.

COLEMAN: Yes, ma`am.

GRACE: There`s your dad.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Shaniya`s devastated dad, wracked with grief and perhaps even feeling some guilt.

And there is this: Shaniya`s 25-year-old mother, an accused human trafficker and suspected druggie, is pregnant again, as she sits behind bars.

Tonight`s big issue: breaking the cycle. It is up to us to take action to stop abuse from being handed down generation to generation. We have to learn something from these horror stories, or we are part of the problem. I can`t talk about it anymore. And just talk about the details of the crime without talking about a solution.

What`s your solution? Give me a call. The number, 1-877-586-7297.

Now straight out to my fantastic expert panel: Lisa Bloom, CNN legal analyst. We`re delighted to have Brian Monroe, visiting professor, Northwestern University`s Madill School of Journalism; and Ken Sealy, addiction expert, interventionist and author of "Face It and Fix It"; as well as Tom Ruskin, former NYPD investigator.

But we begin with Michelle Sigona, investigative reporter and founder of

Michelle, what is the very latest?

MICHELLE SIGONA, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: The very latest, Jane, is that more charges were supposed to come down today from investigators. But they`re actually waiting until possibly later on this week to figure out which jurisdiction will, in fact, handle those charges.

They`re also waiting for the autopsy results to come back from Shaniya. She is at the medical examiner`s office right now.

And they`re still trying to piece together this puzzle, because what investigators do know is that when she was last seen one week ago, and that when she was coming out of the hotel in Stanford, North Carolina, she was alive at that point. So they`re trying to put together that time line to figure out who killed her, when she was killed, when her body was dumped, and at what stage it was found in when it was actually discovered earlier this week.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Michelle, quickly, we have video of her being taken into the hotel, allegedly by Mario McNeill, who`s charged with kidnapping. We don`t have video of her leaving the hotel. Have police said she left the hotel with McNeill, or is there a possible third person involved in this horror?

SIGONA: There could be another person involved. But when I spoke to investigators a few days ago, Jane, what they told me was they feel at this point that they have the two main people in -- who are involved.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So then why not show us the video?

SIGONA: Well, I think that the video -- stills of the video were released at the time before Shaniya`s body was found and before Shaniya`s mother was charged with all these allegations. So they put out a few stills to be able to show the public, look, this is what Shaniya looks like.


SIGONA: We could have evidence of her being alive.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Very good explanation. Thank you for that, Michelle.

You know, the man who cares for Shaniya`s 17-year-old half-sister spoke out to CNN affiliate WRAL. Tim Allen says he warned Shaniya`s father not to send the child to live with her mother. Allen actually lays the blame for her death on the dad, believe it or not.


ALLEN: He`s 99 percent the reason why this happened in the first place.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This man, Tim Allen, also made some shocking allegations that Shaniya was abused when she was living in her mother`s home. Listen once again.


ALLEN: The boyfriends, and his friends, or whatever, would put the cigarettes out on the baby`s arms.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. It turns out Shaniya`s grief-stricken dad has, in fact, a messy back story. According to court records, in addition to Shaniya, Bradley Lockhart, the dad, has five other children with three women.

WRAL reports there have been several custody and child support disputes, none involving Shaniya, interestingly enough. Lockhart suffered another tragedy about ten years ago when his wife, Vickie, was violently murdered. And P.S., Vickie`s father is also pointing the finger at Bradley Lockhart. He told the "Fayetteville Observer," quote, "he knew the kind of environment," end quote.

I hesitate to bring this up, Lisa Bloom, because who wants to blame, or in any way point the finger at a grieving father, a father who has been seen very publicly weeping. He obviously feels terrible. What do you make of these criticisms?

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, without knowing more, I think it is cold to blame him at a time like this. He`s just lost his little daughter. He`s clearly grieving, very upset at what happened.

And what he says is that he was the primary caretaker of his little daughter, and about a month ago, he decided that the mother was capable of taking her back, that she had gotten structure in her life, she had gotten a job. And he was trusting the mother, gave Shaniya back, obviously, with horrendous results.

But to cast blame on him at a time like this, without more evidence, I think is a little bit over the line.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now Shaniya`s half-sister told Nancy Grace that she knew drugs were present in the home of Shaniya`s mother, Antoinette Davis. Listen.


CHEYENNE LOCKHART, SHANIYA`S HALF SISTER: I did know about Antoinette using drugs, but I knew of DSS going to her home. But I never knew that -- somebody told me that she wasn`t supposed to have her. So I didn`t know of that. I was told that she wasn`t supposed to have Shaniya, but I did know about, you know, I knew she did drugs and stuff.

GRACE: Do you know what drugs she was on? It`s our understanding it was cocaine.

LOCKHART: Yes. I mean, I didn`t know for a fact, but I figured that -- but I did know she smoked marijuana. But I`ve always thought that she did cocaine.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So yesterday during a news conference, Shaniya`s dad was asked about that very accusation. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brad, do you have a reaction to what Cheyenne said last night, that you knew that Antoinette had some drug problems, there were drugs being sold in the trailer? You let your daughter go there anyway?

BRADLEY LOCKHART, FATHER OF SHANIYA DAVIS: She was not to talk about that. Most of it`s speculation, though.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So Brian Monroe, let`s talk about tonight`s big issue. Breaking the cycle. Bottom line here, we`ve got a problem. We have a woman who was accused of committing this unspeakable act against her own daughter. Cops say they drug raided her home, turned up drug paraphernalia: razor blades, baggies. People who know her are claiming they believe she used cocaine and pot.

Meantime, she has a 7-year-old son, and she`s pregnant again. How can we break this cycle? How can we prevent this kind of tragic occurrence from being passed down to the next generation?

BRIAN MONROE, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY: Well, unfortunately, Jane, there really are no easy answers. We know that the grip that drugs have had on all of our cultures -- black, white -- they have really permeated every fiber of American society. And we`ve seen, you know, in this very dreadful case, how someone who allegedly was so hooked on drugs, that she was offering her own child -- her own child -- up to others. That is just unconscionable.

But Jane, I`ve got to tell you, I`ve got to commend you, and your program, for putting a spotlight on this. Too often, particularly in cases of missing black children, and murdered black children, they don`t get enough media attention. We see a lot of coverage on the Laci Petersons and the JonBenet Ramseys of the world, but putting attention and coverage on a story like this of this tragic child that was killed, really helps cast attention onto it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we don`t just want to just cover the details, Brian. We want to look for solutions. This has to be a teaching moment. Otherwise, we are part of the problem. So we`re going to look for solutions tonight.

Everyone stay right there. We`re going to have more disturbing details in this case in a bit. We`re also taking your calls on this: 1- 877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. What do you think?

Plus, a small Missouri town boiling over with racial tensions. The NAACP and the KKK square off. How did this all start? When a woman allegedly jumped the line at Wal-Mart, believe it or not.

But first, a family searches for answers. Who killed little Shaniya? Why hasn`t anyone been charged with her murder?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was crazy. It was crazy when it first happened. Nothing is making any sense. Nothing is making any sense. Nothing. None of the stories, nothing. Nothing is making any sense from day one.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nine-one-one, what`s your emergency?

ANTOINETTE DAVIS, MOTHER OF SHANIYA DAVIS: Yes, ma`am, my name is Antoinette Davis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, ma`am. How can I help you?

DAVIS: I woke up this morning, and my daughter was not in the house. I don`t know if she walked out. I don`t know what`s going on. She`s not here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How old is your daughter?

DAVIS: She`s five.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is her name?

DAVIS: Shaniya Davis. She`s wearing just a blue -- a big old blue -- just a blue shirt with designs on the front but her hair is out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, did she have on any pants?

DAVIS: No, she didn`t take no shoes, no pants, no nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did she have on underwear?

DAVIS: Yes, ma`am.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Police say that was Shaniya`s mom, full of you-know- what when she called 911.

Ken Sealy, addiction expert. Police are saying this woman is lying, flat out, even though we`re hearing this distraught, emotional-filled voice. How does that dovetail with addiction?

KEN SEALY, ADDICTION EXPERT: Well, Jane, what you`re seeing here, again, is what we keep reporting on. But I love that you want the solution, because that`s what this is really about, is bringing the answers.

And yes, the people that watch the behavior and had seen the red flags, they need to be held accountable, because the addicts do what they do. The addict is an addict. They lie, they steal, they cheat. They do bad things. But the people that are healthy in the addicts` lives need to hold them accountable. They need to be monitored. They need to be put into a program where they`re being held accountable, that they`re going to their meetings; they`re testing clean.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But -- but let me ask you this. Because from what I know of addiction, and I`m a recovering alcoholic, but -- but what I know about addiction is that when somebody is jonesing, their ability to lie increases incrementally. In other words, the more they need the drug, the wilder the lies.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And this, in fact, sounds like an Academy Award- winning performance. This sounds like a distraught mother. Is that how addicts can behave?

SEALY: Oh, Jane, they can -- that`s only the type -- the tip of the iceberg. They could get themselves out of anything. Addicts know how to lie to get their drugs. This is not out of the norm. This is what we see every single day. So this is what the addict does.

But the family, the people surrounding the addict, we need to be held accountable. That`s the solution.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, if -- let me just say this. I think we have to be very careful, because we have a grieving father.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And, you know, a 20/20 hindsight, what do they say, Monday morning quarterbacks? There`s a million cliches. It`s so easy for us after the fact to say, this guy shouldn`t have sent her down there.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But, you know, a lot of -- a lot of what he says is my heart was in the right place. I had faith and trust that this woman had changed.

The one thing we know about addiction, though, is people don`t change. If they don`t get clean, they have not changed at all. And all their words and their fancy, flowery talk about "how much I`ve pulled my life together" means absolutely nothing. It is a crock if they are still using. And it would appear that this woman was using, according to friends. That is the devastated dad there and the devastated friends and relatives.

Bertha in Connecticut, your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Hi. A comment. I got very upset just now when I heard them talking about him, that he -- you know, that he should be to blame for his daughter going down there. He gave the woman another chance, just to be with his daughter. He didn`t know she was still addicted and doing all this stuff. Do you think he would have sent his daughter down there then? That is very upsetting to me.

BLOOM: Jane...


BLOOM: Jane, can I jump in? Because I agree with the caller. And if we`re going to talk about solutions, one thing is very important. And that is, if people have any sense that a child is being abused, and that includes a child living with a known drug user, to please call child protective services. If you see a bruise on the arm, if you see somebody lighting up a crack pipe, if you have any sense of this, the lesson from this case is, please call child protective services so we don`t have to have another Shaniya Davis tomorrow.

SIGONA: I just want to mention, Jane, that Byron Coleman -- so last night on Nancy`s show, that was the younger Byron. That is one of Bradley`s sons. Byron Coleman is his grandfather, which was Bradley`s ex- wife -- excuse me, they were separated at the time...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is hard to keep track of everybody.

SIGONA: It is. It is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that brings me back, Brian Monroe, to the issue of this mother accused of selling her child, also being pregnant. You know, I was thinking about this. When is -- when is the last time we ever talked about family planning on television? When did contraceptives and birth control become dirty words?

SIGONA: Thank you, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Nobody talks about it anymore. And a lot of these problems would be solved if we simply had excellent family planning, birth control and contraceptives, and contraception. And I understand that there is a lot of resistance among a lot of young people to even using condoms. What`s up with this?

MONROE: Well, you know, you`re right. In this case we know the father -- and I don`t know if the father should be blamed for any of this. I don`t know any...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Of course not. And you know what?

MONROE: Knowingly putting a kid in this situation. But Jane, let me tell you. If he indeed has, what, five children by multiple women, that`s a problem. And that`s a problem about responsibility. And it`s the responsibility of raising a child, not just bringing a child into this world, but raising it right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to have more. We`re just scratching the surface.



LOCKHART: Don`t give up on me and don`t give up on Shaniya.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. While law enforcement sorts out the red tape, we have so many unanswered questions this evening. The chilling surveillance video is time stamped at 6:11 in the morning. Police say Shaniya and her abductor, Mario McNeill, seen arriving at the hotel. Cops say they believe the child was alive when she left the hotel at 7:30 in the morning. But we have not seen that video.

And we also have many unanswered questions. You know, who was Shaniya with on her way out? Why did McNeill allegedly take her to a hotel in the first place? Is somebody else involved? Could that be why cops are waiting to announce murder charges? There have been no murder charges so far.

Tom Ruskin, you`re the investigator. Why do you think that`s the case?

TOM RUSKIN, FORMER NYPD INVESTIGATOR: Well, what they`re doing is they`re looking to put all the -- dotting the "I`s" and crossing the "T`s." That`s why they haven`t released the other video. They feel that this video may be helpful for people coming forward and giving them information. I believe that the other video will tell us a lot more once that`s released. It will probably be released after they make an arrest.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I guess what I`m not figuring out is, why -- the allegation, Michelle Sigona, is human trafficking, selling this precious 5- year-old for the purposes of sex.

McNeill allegedly takes her to a hotel. And then she leaves. But we`re not sure who with. Why would this man, who is supposedly the ex- boyfriend of the mother`s sister, even need to go to a hotel if he were going to be the person who was assaulting her himself? He could have done that anywhere. Doesn`t the whole notion of a hotel raise the specter of a third party?

SIGONA: Yes, it does. That`s something investigators are looking into, the fact that he could have been possibly the delivery person for someone else. He could have been the middleman. That`s why he only has these kidnapping charges against him initially.

But I`m sure that, you know, as we see if those charges will come down, possibly tomorrow or possibly Friday, then we`ll see exactly what`s going to stack up against him and also against Antoinette.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And also the DNA tests on the child as the autopsy is done...

SIGONA: That`s right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... will reveal a whole lot in terms of was she sexually assaulted, and if so, by whom?

Rita in Missouri, your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: Yes, thank you for taking my call, Jane. I was listening to Lisa saying you need to call child protective services. I`m wondering if she`s ever tried to call child protective services? Because I have, and they don`t do a thing, at least here in Missouri.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Lisa?

CALLER: They`ll take a report, but I mean, the child...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We hear you. I hear what you`re saying. Good question. Lisa, I`m going to give you the last word.

BLOOM: But -- but you`ve got to do it. You`ve got to do it anyway. And you`ve got to follow up. And you`ve got to call the police, and you`ve got to do everything humanly possible. It does take a village to raise a child, and it takes all of us to save children who are in jeopardy.

Imagine being 5-year-old Shaniya.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I can`t even.

BLOOM: Her last moments are being carried off by this man into a hotel. And we know for what purpose. And we know what happened to her afterwards. That`s why you`ve got to make the call. That`s why you can`t give up.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. But I think the caller makes an important point. Our system is broken. It doesn`t work. I have never called a government agency and gotten a person to respond. I either get a busy signal, or "this number is not in service." And we`ve all had that experience. The system is completely broken. And we need to fix it.

Thank you, fabulous panel.

An innocent move in the checkout line sparks national outrage and cries of racism. We`ll have it next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cutting in line leads to racial divides: outrage, controversy, and charges of racism ripping through a small Missouri town. And it all started when a woman was accused of jumping the line at Walmart. Are you kidding me?

Plus, toxic secrets of a soccer mom: Diane Schuler was boozed up and high on pot when she drove the wrong way on a New York highway. Eight people were killed. Now an explosive new article in "New York" magazine goes inside her marriage.

Tonight, a racially charged trial divides a small Missouri town. And it all started at a Walmart checkout line? Yes, indeed.

Now, 24-year-old Heather Ellis, a preacher`s daughter, could face 15 years in prison. That`s 1-5 years in prison. Is she a victim of racist police brutality or did she lose her cool and assault a police officer?

Here is Heather`s dad.


REV. NATHANIEL ELLIS, SUSPECT`S DAD: This has been a horrific roller coaster. She has her moments. Sometimes she wakes up kind of hollering with nightmares.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The scuffle broke out three long years ago at Walmart in Kennett, Missouri. Heather says she simply joined her cousin in line. But she was accused of cutting the line.

An argument quickly got out of control. Police were called to the store. According to the police report, Heather threatened an officer saying she would beat his ass. When cops tried to restrain her, she began to swing her arms and fists and kick her feet. The report says Heather "kicked one of the officers and struck the other officer on the mouth".

Heather says the report is just plain wrong. She claims the white officers roughed her up while spewing racial slurs at her. The case has stirred up some pretty nasty racial tensions.


DWIGHT MONTGOMERY, SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: This is a racist and bigoted town. Racism and bigotry is thick in this city. There are skinheads, there are Ku Klux Klan in this city.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now here`s what I want to know. With all the hideous violent crime in this country, is this really the kind of case we need to spend our tax dollars on when there are a slew of unsolved murders and rapes that need solving and prosecuting?

I want to welcome back CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom. Also joining me, Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels -- there you go. And we`re also joined by civil rights activist, Boyce Watkins, founder of

Boyce, thanks for joining us. I understand you helped organize a rally the other day to support Heather. But there was also a counter- protest. Tell us all about that. I understand that it was pretty interesting, let`s put it that way.

BOYCE WATKINS, FOUNDER, YOURBLACKWORLD.COM: Yes. There were some skinheads and some neo-Nazis there holding up flags with swastikas on them, confederate flags, et cetera. You know, I respect their right to freedom of speech. I wasn`t upset about it. We had a much bigger crowd than they had.

But what`s also interesting actually is that the new prosecutor, Morley Swingle, actually wrote a book that has a picture of the confederate flag on the cover of the book. I think that he should understand how offensive that flag is to people of color.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re saying that the person who`s prosecuting this case against this young woman had -- say that again?

WATKINS: Yes. He put a picture of the confederate flag on the cover of his book. And also there`s...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In what context?

WATKINS: We`re not sure. But he should know that that`s an offensive symbol to people of color. And it certainly doesn`t help him in terms of attempting to come in as an objective figure.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got two starkly different versions of what happened here. Why doesn`t the store surveillance video just get released so we can figure out what actually went on because that usually tells the story?

A Walmart spokesperson said they handed the tapes over to the feds and prosecution but will not release the video publicly. My question is why not? Video can really tell the story.

Remember the Alabama woman who was charged with felony child cruelty because of this shocking tape? It shows her dragging her son all around the store on a leash. Then there was -- there, take a look at that. That tells a story. You don`t need either side to comment. That tells the entire story.

How about the surveillance footage of a JCPenney burglary, the video helped bust a mass theft operation in California last year. There you see the kids running out.

Should businesses be required to release video like that? Here`s my question. Curtis Sliwa, a lot of times the cops do release video. But it seems hit or miss. And I wonder, well, do they release the video when the video backs up their story and they don`t release it when the video doesn`t back up their story?

CURTIS SLIWA, FOUNDER, GUARDIAN ANGELS: Jane, this whole story makes absolutely Jack diddly squat no sense. I used to be a night manager of McDonald`s in the Bronx. I managed a supermarket. I had people bum rushing to the front of the line, fighting with cashiers, fighting with attendants.

Yes, they sometimes get dragged out by the police. They cool out for 72 hours and they get a disappearance ticket and everybody goes their way.

I would think Walmart, the number one corperation in America, would want this to go away. This is not good news to Walmart.

WATKINS: Thank you.

SLIWA: And yet the Tennessee stump jumpers over there in Kennett, Missouri they just want to make this a capital offense case.

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I`ll tell you why it hasn`t gone away. I`ll tell you why it hasn`t gone away. Because my reading of the police report is the police got a little too personally involved in this case.

She was leaving the store. Whatever happened inside, whether there were racial epithets, whether she cut in line or not, she was leaving the store at the time that the police arrived. And she was ranting and raving according to them. And they said, calm down. And she didn`t calm down.

By the way, note to men, telling women to calm down, that never works, ok? Never has worked in history. Never is going to work. Does not calm us down; just makes us angrier.

So she continues walking away. She gets angry. And at that point they come and apparently a scuffle ensues. Let it go.

I agree with you, Jane. We don`t have enough Child Protective Services workers, enough police resources on important cases. This is a woman who got mad, maybe justifiably, maybe not. But the (INAUDIBLE) to the story, the P.S. to the story is the KKK is handing out cards in that neighborhood? There`s people with swastikas? Are you kidding me?

That only supports her claim that there could have been racial epithets thrown around in that Walmart.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And you know, here`s my big issue. Does this case really warrant all the time, tax money and heart ache? You know, we here on ISSUES cover these horrific cases of violent crime -- mind-boggling -- every day in the very same state; we`re talking about the state of Missouri all this is happening. Five brothers and their dad are accused of heinous sex acts with children.

In North Carolina, we just talked about it, the young mom charged with selling her daughter for sex. That little girl is dead.

You know, you`ve got Fort Hood, the soldier who mowed down fellow soldiers. And these are just from this month alone these cases.

Let`s assume that Heather did lose her cool and she had a big fat tantrum. She didn`t go in there with the purposes of robbing or killing. We have so many horrific cases at this point that are unsolved. Why do you think prosecutors are focusing on this one, Boyce?

WATKINS: Well, I think they`re focusing on this, and again, I say this as the son of a police officer, so I`ve seen both sides of the system very closely. Sometimes people don`t like to have their authority questioned.

In this case, Heather made the mistake of telling the truth. She said, I`m not going to sign your plea deal, even though you`re threatening with me with extra prison time if I don`t because I didn`t do anything wrong.

The reality is that this whole justice system is infected; it`s very sick. And we`re not angry at anybody but we are asking the attorney general to step in and to investigate because if they`re doing everything on the up and up, the investigation will be fine.

You can`t just destroy lives with the stroke of a pen and think that that`s ok.

SLIWA: Jane...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, guess what? We have Heather`s attorney, Pat Rosenblum, who`s joined us on the phone. Have you been listening?

SCOTT ROSENBLUM, ATTORNEY FOR HEATHER ELLIS: I just tuned in. I listened enough to know you got my name wrong. It`s Scott.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Scott, all right. Well, he told me in my ear. And you know, these ear phones that we have aren`t perfect. You got me on that one, Scott, all right? Scott, Scott, Scott, Scott, Scott. What`s your point?

ROSENBLUM: Pardon me?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s your point? You want to weigh in. Weigh in.

ROSENBLUM: I had nothing to say. You called. I said -- you wanted to ask me a question.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Don`t use this technique in the jury room, I`ve got to tell you, it`s not going to work for you, sir. Why do you feel that the police are prosecuting this case, Scott? Do you feel that this is a case of racism?

ROSENBLUM: I`m not going to go there. It`s up to the prosecutor, to decide prosecute the case that the police investigate and present to them. Once the person is accused -- once a citizen is accused, they can elect to negotiate a disposition short of the ...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did they offer some kind of plea deal? Did they say this could all go away if you just plead guilty to whatever -- disorderly conduct and we`ll call it a day?

ROSENBLUM: I`ve only been on the case for two months.


BLOOM: Jane, can I weigh in on the plea deal?


BLOOM: Because I can tell you I think one of the reasons why she refused to sign it is because part of the plea deal was that she was supposed to drop her complaints against the police. Remember, she`s complained against them that they were unprofessional in this situation.

WATKINS: That`s right.

BLOOM: She didn`t want to drop that. That`s one of the reasons she didn`t take the plea.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You might take this case, Lisa. I think you would do a good job representing this lady.

BLOOM: I`ll take it, baby. I`ll take it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I need you think to go there and help her out.

BLOOM: I`m hopping mad. By the way, being angry at Walmart is not a crime.

WATKINS: No, it`s not.

SLIWA: Jane, you notice coming up, Black Friday, there are going to be people playing roller derby in all these box stores, knocking each other out, bum rushing. There will be total chaos and nobody`s going to get arrested.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Black Friday, watch out. Thank you, fantastic panel.

Is Nicolas Cage addicted to spending? Has the Hollywood megastar wasted his fortune? Cage blames his manager. But the guy owns 22 cars and two castles. Could he be a spending addict perhaps?

Plus, explosive new insight into the drunk driving mom: a new article pulls back the curtain on Diane Schuler`s marriage. This as her husband fights to defend her honor. We`re taking your calls on this one. 1-877- JVM-SAYS; 1-877-586-7297, weigh in on drunk-driving mom.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s meet today`s winner, Michael, from Magnolia, Ohio. Michael turned to the crack pipe to escape his childhood demons for 21 long years.

When he had to tell his three daughters there was no money left for food, the look in their eyes forced him to destroy all his drug paraphernalia right then and there. Clean for almost a year. He says the fact that he`s no longer disappointing his family is the best motivation of all.

Michael, wow, way to go. For sharing your courageous story you`re going to be getting an autographed copy of my book "I Want", plus a chance to win a trip to New York city and visit me here on the set of ISSUES. We`re going to have a sober dinner if you make it here.

If you`re struggling with addiction or know somebody who is, you may want to check out my new book "I Want" at It`s my story of recovery and it could help you out.

Well, a mom allegedly drunk and high gets behind the wheel and kills eight people, including her daughter and herself. Now her husband`s calling her a saint. You will not believe what he has to say about his perfect wife.

But first, tonight`s "Top of the Block."

Is Nicolas Cage addicted to spending money? His former business manager says yes. He`s one of Hollywood`s highest paid movie stars and now he`s in financial ruin. Nic Cage blames it on his business manager; Nic suing him for $20 million.

But his old money manager is firing back. He says Nic squandered away his fortune by buying two castles, 15 mansions and multiple yachts and countless Rolls Royces. The guy says he warned the Oscar winning actor, "You will go broke if you don`t stop spending."

Cage allegedly bought three mansions, 22 cars and 47 rare art pieces, plus expensive jewelry in 2007 alone. Wow, that could even top one of the late Michael Jackson`s wild spending sprees. Ah, Hollywood.

And that is tonight`s "Top of the Block."

It started with a chilling phone call. A frightened child says, "There`s something wrong with Aunt Diane." Then a horrific crash: Diane Schuler, her minivan packed with kids, her body full of alcohol, driving the wrong way on a highway. She smashes into another car. Eight people killed including Diane, her daughter and three young nieces.

But her grieving husband isn`t angry. Instead he`s putting Diane on a pedestal. Danny Schuler tells "New York" magazine his wife was perfect, a saint. He describes their marriage as idyllic. He tells his son, the lone survivor of the crash, that his mommy`s in heaven where good people belong.

But in another home, Diane is no saint. Ginny Bastardi (ph) a relative of two men killed in the crash says Diane is a murder, "Not even a moment have I felt sorry for Danny. He becomes a man you can`t hate enough," end quote.

Danny refuses to accept test results that show Diane was drunk. Listen to this.


DANIEL SCHULER, HUSBAND OF DIANE SCHULER: I go to bed every night knowing my heart is clear. She did not drink. She`s not an alcoholic. Listen to all that? She is not an alcoholic. And my heart has rested every night when I go to bed. Something medically had to have happened.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But in a fabulous new article in "New York" magazine, Danny unknowingly paints a very telling picture. A husband and wife closed off from one another. Their conversations limited to talking about cleaning the gutters and kids?

Was he oblivious to his wife`s toxic secrets? Did he really know her or was their relationship superficial? Is he in denial? So many good questions.

Straight out to my expert panel: also joining me tonight, criminal defense attorney David Schwartz, and the author of this very compelling article, contributing editor for "New York" magazine, Steve Fishman. Thanks you for joining us, Steve.

But first to Tom Ruskin; you have been hired as an investigator by Diane Schuler`s family to determine what caused the accident. How do you explain the fact that his wife had alcohol and signs of marijuana in her system?

TOM RUSKIN, FORMER INVESTIGATOR, NYC PD: I really can`t. Listen, I`m a finder of the facts. When Danny Schuler and the Schuler family approached my firm and said find out what happened, that`s what we have attempted to do. And at this point in time, what we`re going to do is retest the specimens and samples and tissue that was taken at the time of the autopsy to re-verify the Westchester medical examiner`s findings.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s taking so long? You told me that a long time ago.

RUSKIN: To be very honest with you, the Schuler family is not a wealthy family. They have had trouble raising the money that it`s going to cost for these tests and have just really recently come up with the money to be able to pay for it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m going to quote the "New York" magazine article. "She was a pot smoker. Danny told the police she smoked once in a while. But Jay, her friend, knew better. She likes pot and smokes it on a regular basis. The police understood from the interviews," end quote. Tom?

RUSKIN: Well, Danny Schuler is the husband, and saw her every day. And even though they kept different schedules, they saw each other routinely in the morning, before she went to work, and they saw each other every weekend. And they spent summers together up in their camper.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What does that have to do with that quote, though?

RUSKIN: Relative to Jay -- Jay says she was taken out of context; that the last time she knew Diane to smoke pot was two and a half years ago, before Aaron (ph) was born. I don`t know what happened. I know that they were interviewed on the day after they buried Diane, their daughter, the nieces. And Jay wanted to be -- and Danny wanted to be as cooperative as possible with police and gave those statements.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. I want to bring in Steve Fishman, contributing editor of "New York" magazine. Really, really insightful article; I commend you.

What`s the take-away -- what`s the big take-away in terms of the relationship between Danny and Diane? Were they just a superficial couple and didn`t really know each other in a sense that a man and wife should know each other?

STEVE FISHMAN, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "NEW YORK" MAGAZINE: Well, it was difficult for them because I think as Tom has mentioned, they had different schedules. He worked nights; she worked days. They really rarely saw each other during the week.

They had two kids. And weekends were devoted to the kids. I mean, they were clearly very devoted parents. You know given that schedule, I think it`s very difficult to have the kind of...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, can I jump in? Because I think one of the things you said is neither seemed inclined to learn each other`s secrets? I mean, schedules aside -- was there a disinterest in going too deep?

FISHMAN: I don`t think there was a disinterest. You know my kind of frank assessment is that that`s not the way Danny works. I mean, he`s a guy who goes to work, does a job. Doesn`t really need to pry, doesn`t really to know secrets. He`s probably not the kind of guy who`s built in some ways to handle secrets.

Diane was very independent. She ran the house, she controlled the money.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, in just a second, we`ll get some more. We`re going to dive deep.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The girls just called in distress. They said the aunt is driving very erratically. We think she`s sick, and we`re trying to locate the kids. And the best they could come up with is that they were on -- they were at the Tarrytown rest center.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was the 911 call that came too late to stop the deadly crash that killed eight. My big issue tonight is the husband of the driver Daniel Schuler flying blind? Here`s the "New York" magazine article: quote, "Danny didn`t even know that Diane had packed vodka in the car. Diane left McDonald`s with a cup of orange juice, a good mixer. And how about the weight gain? In older photos on the press Diane has a pretty face and dark hair a lovely smile and doesn`t weigh 204 pounds, her weight according to the autopsy."

Ken Seeley, co-dependents come in gorgeous disguises. Has Danny mastered the nice guy loyal husband act while remaining clueless and blind to the conclusion of law enforcement that Diane was under the influence of alcohol and pot?

KEN SEELEY, INTERVENTIONIST: Yes. I agree. I think what happened here is that, I see this every day in my practice where what happens is the family wants to protect their loved one. They don`t want them to see that they`re an addict. And they don`t really believe it in the core of who they are.

So it`s part of that denial that you were talking about. That`s so strong in the family systems, it`s the denial. And we`ve got to breakthrough that denial and tell the real truth about those red flags, everything else that everyone was seeing.

DAVID SCHWARTZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Jane, Jane at the same time, though, I don`t understand why Danny is blamed for Diane`s criminal transgressions, by everybody.

And the other thing I don`t understand is Tom Ruskin is an investigator. He was hired by the family to investigate, to be a fact finder. Why is he being attacked for just merely doing his job as an investigator? I just don`t...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t -- I don`t know Tom, do you feel you`ve been attacked?

SCHWARTZ: I think he`s been attacked everywhere.

RUSKIN: Well, I have by some of the other people who were victims of the crime been demonized at different times. But listen, that goes with the job.

SCHWARTZ: But, we should want these facts investigated fully and I`m not too sure -- and the fact of the matter is, whether or not they had a good marriage or bad marriage or he didn`t know what was happening, you know what? The bottom line is, she -- Diane is the one that transgressed here, not Daniel.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, let me just say this.

SCHWARTZ: And we need to understand that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, but I think it`s because of Danny`s attorney. His attorney has basically spewed at a news conference. And we`re going to play a sound bite of the attorney. You`ve got to listen to this because I think this is where the controversy started.



DOMINIC BARBARA, SCHULER ATTORNEY: She had numerous medical conditions, problems. One of them was an abscess, which was almost two months old.

She had diabetes, at various levels; she also had a lump on her leg.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Steve Fishman, what do you make of this attorney?

FISHMAN: You know in defense of Dominic, I think it was his job to deflect. And he did, in weird ways, kind of changed the story. I mean, people now wonder what happened to her.

I think the other thing though, at the center of this and to David`s point...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got ten seconds.

FISHMAN: ... and also the time is that, she really was not the profile of somebody who would do this. Even if...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s the whole point. That`s the whole point. We can`t stereotype what an addict looks like. This is the face of addiction right here.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you fabulous panel for joining me.

You`re watching ISSUES on HLN.