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Amanda Knox Found Guilty on all Charges

Aired December 7, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, international outrage spewing from the Foxy Knoxy murder trial. The American student was found guilty murdering her roommate during a deadly, drug-fueled sex game. The Italian court sentenced Amanda Knox to 26 years in jail.

Now the verdict is splitting the globe. Was this a fair trial, or was she railroaded because she`s an American? We`ll go inside the evidence as the Knox family plans their appeal. Was this trial tainted by anti- Americanism?

And a major breakthrough in the search for Kristi Cornwell. The 38- year-old woman was abducted by a mystery assailant back in August. She was walking on a country road just blocks from her parent`s home. Now cops say her suspected kidnapper tried to abduct another woman just two weeks earlier. Will this new break lead cops to Kristi?

Meanwhile, police knew about this other attempted abduction from the start of the case. So why did it take them so long to connect the dots? Tonight, we`ll talk to Kristi`s frantic brother as they hunt down her alleged kidnapper.

Plus, a bombshell decision in the brutal chimpanzee attack. The prosecutor announced he`s not going to charge the animals` owner with any crime. Sandra Herold`s so-called pet mauled a woman, ripping off her hands and her face, leaving her so disfigured she has to wear a veil. All this because somebody insisted on keeping a wild animal as a pet. So why isn`t this owner being charged?

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Growing outrage across the U.S. tonight over a shocking verdict out of Italy. Twenty-two-year-old Amanda Knox, who is from Seattle, found guilty of murder by an Italian jury. Amanda has been sentenced to 26 years in prison. The judge read the verdict in Italian.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: As the judge spoke, Amanda`s sobs filled the room, and her relatives expressed outrage.


JANET HUFF, AMANDA KNOX`S AUNT: This is stupid. They didn`t listen. They didn`t listen to the facts. They didn`t listen to the facts of the case. All they did, they listened to the media. Lies that were put out there.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The American student, dubbed Foxy Knoxy by the European media, was on trial for the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher. Now, that guilty verdict is causing an uproar.

This gruesome case played out in the picturesque city of Perugia, Italy, where Amanda and Meredith were both studying abroad. Their quaint Italian flat turned into a grisly crime scene. Meredith was found half naked and stabbed to death, her throat slashed. A pathologist ruled she died a slow and agonizing death.

The prime suspect, her angelic-looking roommate, Amanda Knox. Police believe Amanda`s boyfriend held Meredith down while Amanda taunted her with a knife, slashing her throat. But that`s the prosecution`s theory.

Amanda gave an emotional final plea to the jury. Listen to this.


AMANDA KNOX, CONVICTED OF MURDER (through translator): I`m scared of having the mask of an assassin pushed upon me.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Speaking in slow but perfect Italian, she also told the jury she is not how the media describes her, the devil with an angel`s face. Her defense team argued another man, Rudy Guede, was the sole killer.

Now, there he is, on the right. The Ivory Coast native was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison. His DNA was found on Meredith`s body.

Amanda`s Italian ex-boyfriend and co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, was sentenced to 25 years in prison. All three will appeal.

Tonight, did Amanda Knox get a fair trial, or is she innocent, a victim, railroaded by an over-imaginative Italian prosecutor with an ax to grind? I want to hear from you. Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877- 586-7297.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel. Joining me tonight, CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom. And we`re also going to be joined later by -- there she is -- prosecutor Wendy Murphy. Also, we`re delighted to have with us tonight, contributing editor for "Vanity Fair," Judy Bachrach. And from KOMO News Radio, reporter Travis Mayfield. And joining us by phone, David Johnsrud, Amanda`s friend.

I want to begin with Amanda`s friend, David Johnsrud.

This verdict -- hi, can you hear us, David?

DAVID JOHNSRUD, AMANDA KNOX`S FRIEND (via phone): I can hear you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What was your reaction to the verdict?

JOHNSRUD: Well, initially, I think every one of us was absolutely crushed. We very honestly expected Amanda to be home right now, and she`s not. But at the same time, we`re -- we`re gearing up for this appeal, and we`re all getting ready for it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Amanda`s parents were too distraught to speak after hearing the verdict. They spoke after the very first time the next day after visiting Amanda in prison. Listen to what they had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We told her she`s going to get out of here. It`s going to take a little longer. Be strong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She`s innocent and she will come home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What kind of a night did she have?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She had a rough night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She had a -- you know, she had a lot of support when she got back to the jail. Everybody there, the inmates and the guards, were all taking great care of her. They care a lot.

Thank you.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Amanda`s family vowed she will appeal. They also say they`re planning to move to Italy to support their daughter.

Lisa Bloom, appeals are very different in Italy, and apparently, they`re often successful. Tell us what you know.

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That`s right. And for all these attacks on the Italian justice system, let`s remind ourselves that they have a lot more protections in some cases for defendants than we do.

One is that they have two automatic rights of appeal. Here, you have to get an appellate court to accept your case for review. Not so in Italy. They will automatically hear anything that the defense chooses to put in front of them. It`s virtual retrial in the case. Defendants have a much better chance on appeal in Italy than they do here in the United States. The first level of appeal will take about one year. The second level of appeal could take another one or two years. So in total about three years.

And my view is she`s innocent. This is a reasonable doubt case, and I think she stands a good shot, a shot at prevailing on appeal.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Judy Bachrach, contributing editor of "Vanity Fair," you`ve been covering this. The whole trial to me seemed totally bizarre and surreal. First of all, it went on something like 11 months, which is a long time to remember a lot of evidence. They took breaks. They took vacations. Closing arguments were heard, I think, on the weekend.

When you would see video of the case, it looked like some kind of cocktail party. Everybody is talking in the courtroom to each other. And they didn`t even need a unanimous jury. It`s just a majority jury, and I heard somewhere that there were even judges that were jurors in this case. None of it seemed to make sense to me.

JUDY BACHRACH, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "VANITY FAIR": Well, in Italy, judges are part of the jury. In fact, juries are very new to Italy, relatively speaking. It`s only in the last 12 years or so that there have been jurors made up of common, ordinary people. It used to be just the judges. So those jurors are going to be very influenced by the judges and...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is this a kangaroo court?

BACHRACH: In my opinion, yes. There were serious violations of her human rights. For instance, she was not allowed to bring in her own DNA expert. They refused that to her.

And at the end, in a very, very shocking moment, the prosecutor, during his seven-hour summation, had an animated video like Avatar, showing a fictional Amanda murdering her roommate. It was like a cartoon. And at the end, you saw the massacred real body of the roommate.

So this, on a jury, I don`t have to tell you what effect that has, when you see a cartoon of Amanda murdering her roommate, and then you see the real body of the roommate as it was when it was a corpse.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to get into that. The prosecution, as you just mentioned, painted a very compelling picture of this gory murder. They whipped up a 23-minute, highly-produced video that they then showed to the jury. In that video, photos of the crime scene, which we have here from ABC`s "Good Morning America" -- Meredith`s brassiere ripped from her body, the bed covered in blood -- look at there, there`s the blood right there -- Meredith`s foot sticking out from under the duvet.

And along with the crime scene photos, prosecutors weaved in, as you just heard from Judy, this digital re-enactment of what they claim happened. Many insiders say that video is what sealed the deal with the jury. But was that incriminating scenario simply made up by the prosecution?

BACHRACH: Well, how would they know? They wouldn`t know whether that`s what happened. They weren`t at the scene of the crime. This was all fictional.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me ask...

BLOOM: Jane, may I respond to that?


BLOOM: Because animations are done very commonly in the United States.

BACHRACH: Not those kind.

BLOOM: There are entire companies that do nothing but put together animations for litigation. That`s what they do. I`ve seen it myself in the Phil Spector case in the closing argument, for example.

And Wendy can back me up. This is what closing argument is all about. It`s the prosecution`s view of what happened. They can bring in the crime scene evidence. That`s what it`s there for in the courtroom, to be used by the attorneys.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s my question. Where did this perverted sex game theory come from? The only person that I`ve heard say anything about this is the prosecutor. I haven`t heard -- maybe I`m wrong -- anybody taking the stand and say, yes, earlier on in the evening they were talking about having this crazy sex game.

BACHRACH: Prosecutor Mignini believes that Satan walks the earth, and Amanda Knox, in his view, is the distillation of Satan and the worst of America. This is his view...



MURPHY: Can somebody say the other side for a second?


MURPHY: Look it, look it, first of all, the stories in the American media are so grotesquely out of proportion to the objective evidence. Let`s just talk about why this jury probably found her guilty for good cause, and by the way, there standard of proof there is beyond a reasonable doubt. So let`s not talk about kangaroo courts.

It`s actually good to have judges on juries sometimes so that they`re not so stupid, they do what the O.J. jury did.

But look, the most important evidence here is the knife. Not to mention DNA evidence that mixed blood from the victim with Amanda Knox`s DNA in a variety of different spots around the place where the crime took - - occurred. You can`t explain away a lot of different blood spots where Amanda Knox`s DNA is mixed with the victim`s blood by saying, "Oh, well, Amanda lived there."


MURPHY: It`s just a little too fortuitous. Let`s talk about the knife. Let`s talk about the knife, though.


MURPHY: All right. Let`s talk about the knife when we come back.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, thank you.

MURPHY: Because it`s the most important evidence, and it nails her. It nails her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s get both sides on that. We hopefully will still have Amanda`s friend David on the line, as well as Travis Mayfield, the reporter who has been covering this.

More on the Foxy Knoxy verdict in just a bit. And anyway, we shouldn`t call it that, because that`s what the European media is calling it. Is this a fair trial? Do you agree with the verdict? We`re taking your calls on this: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Plus, Kristi Cornwell vanished four months ago, abducted on a country road just blocks from her parents` home. No evidence left behind. Now cops finally have their first huge break in this case. Could new evidence of an attempted abduction nine days earlier lead to Kristi`s kidnapper?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s tough getting out looking for your daughter, you know. And now the weather`s getting colder. But we`re not going to quit. We`re going to keep looking. And what we need is to bring her home.




MADISON PAXTON, FRIEND OF AMANDA KNOX: Amanda was being judged based on her character. It didn`t seem to have almost anything to do with evidence. When I was there, I saw -- every single day I was in court, I saw jury members sleeping through Amanda`s defense. And it seemed like they had already convicted her. And that means they felt like they...

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You actually saw jurors sleeping?

PAXTON: Yes, literally every single day I was in court. The prosecutor sleeps, the jury sleeps. I`ve seen people on the stand. the president even answering his cell phone while the trial was going on. But every time the prosecutor spoke, the jury was wide awake.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was Amanda Knox`s best friend, calling this essentially a kangaroo court. She says Amanda was convicted because, well, the Italian police, she says, had it in for her. They didn`t like the fact that she admitted doing drugs, that she reportedly had condoms in her purse.

But her family says she`s not promiscuous; she had a boyfriend.

All right. Mary, your question or thought, ma`am? Mary?

CALLER: Yes, Jane. The question I want to ask is, was she -- is this case going to be like the North Korean case, where the United States intervened for her.

And I`d also like to say -- make a comment of what -- something someone said on your panel before, was that the jury -- I heard this from a judge. There`s no such thing as justice in a courtroom. There`s only who puts on the best show. He once told me that. Right in front of...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Travis Mayfield, what`s going to happen in terms of international negotiations? Because my big issue here tonight is, was this a tainted trial? Was Amanda Knox convicted because of an anti-American mentality?

You know, the verdict set off an international debate. It`s become very politicized. Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington is now complaining to the Italian embassy, and she wants to bring this issue all the way to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. What can you tell us? Travis?

All right. Let me -- let me add this. This editorial from an Italian newspaper says it all. If Hillary wants to meet these doubters, then maybe she can also find the time to look into the cases of numerous Italians held in American prisons for nonexistent motives and crimes they have not committed.

So Italian journalists -- get this -- even brought up a 1998 plane crash in which a U.S. Marine crashed into a ski lift, killing 20 people in the Italian Alps and was acquitted.

So David Johnsrud, you`re a friend of Amanda Knox. Do you feel anti- American sentiment played a role in this case?

JOHNSRUD: I feel that, yes, anti-Americanism did play some -- some role, yes. But I think even more so than that is that there is a lack of adequate information out there about this case. People don`t realize what actually happened in the courtroom.

For example, during the prosecution`s entire case, the reporters, because of, you know, the fast-faced media environment today, they would leave halfway through after the prosecution had presented. But then they never stayed for the defense`s rebuttal.

The defense has gone through and literally disproven almost all of the evidence presented by the prosecution. I mean, not just cast doubt on, disproved it. For example...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let`s talk -- let`s talk some of the evidence.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Can I just set up -- let me set up the knife issue, and then we`ll get both sides.

The alleged murder weapon, a kitchen knife, belonged to Amanda`s boyfriend, Raffaele. The knife had Amanda`s DNA on the handle and Meredith`s DNA on the blade.

But Travis, didn`t the defense argue that the size and shape of the knife doesn`t match the wounds on Meredith`s body, and the DNA examples were too small to be conclusive?

TRAVIS MAYFIELD, REPORTER, KOMO NEWS RADIO: That`s exactly what they argued, Jane. They said the knife was smaller than knife that would have been used as the murder weapon and that there just simply wasn`t enough DNA to make an actual case.

And the argument, really, here in Seattle has been this sort of evidence simply wouldn`t work in an American court system. You know, you were talking earlier about Senator Maria Cantwell, our senator here. She is trying to make a case of this. She is trying to get everyone internationally involved so that this case can be looked at. She wants to bring the State Department into all of this, because she...

MURPHY: That`s because she wants -- politics -- that`s because when the facts are overwhelming, you try to play the political card. And it`s not going to work. If Hillary Clinton gets involved, she`s going to look at the evidence and say, "Forget about it." Because the knife -- don`t -- stop lying about the knife.


MURPHY: First of all, it was found in a box hidden in the back of a closet at Sollecito`s apartment...

BACHRACH: No, no. No, it wasn`t.

MURPHY: ... hidden. And...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to bring out the gavel for the first time tonight. Everyone, please stay right where you are. We`re going to finish this debate in a moment. We`re going to have more on the guilty verdict for Amanda Knox. Did she get a fair shake, or was this trial tainted by anti-Americanism?

Plus, no charges in the brutal chimp attack. A woman had her hands and face completely torn off. Why isn`t her former friend, who kept the chimp as a pet, facing charges?


SANDRA HEROLD, CHIMP OWNER: Send the police! Send the police!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the problem there?

HEROLD: The -- that the chimp killed my -- my friend. Please! Please! Hurry!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I need you to calm down a little bit. They`re on the way.

HEROLD: They got to shoot him, please. Please! Hurry! Hurry!




LYLE KERCHER, BROTHER OF MEREDITH KERCHER: We are pleased with the decision, pleased that we got a decision, but it`s not time -- you know, it`s not time for celebration at the end of the day, you know. It`s just not a moment of triumph. And as we`ve said before, we`re all gathered here because, you know, our sister was brutally murdered and taken away from us.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was the victim`s family in England, reacting to the conviction of Amanda Knox. Was Amanda convicted because of her odd behavior?

Get this: she was caught on camera in a lingerie shop two days after the murder. Here are those surveillance photos, posted on Amanda allegedly shopping for thong underwear with her boyfriend. The store owner told police the couple was laughing and joking.

I`ve got to bring in David Johnsrud. There was a lot of strange behavior, David, attributed to Amanda: cartwheels after being arrested, et cetera. What do you make of it?

JOHNSRUD: My friend, she`s from Seattle. Seattle is a city where people embrace being an individual. Her behavior to all of us was entirely normal. Now I`ll admit that right away a lot of people are going to misinterpret what she does. But what we need to ask ourselves is, is that what we`re going to allow into a court of law anywhere in the world? Not in the states, anywhere.

BACHRACH: They allowed everything. They allowed everything.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jonathan, North Carolina, question or thought?

CALLER: Yes, I`d like to make a comment that one of your guests had mentioned that her blood was found with the victim`s blood in five different locations. And if that happened to my son or daughter, and if they were the victim, and they had found her blood in five different locations, mixed with my daughter`s blood, in my mind, she would be guilty.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Thank you, sir. It sounds like you`re agreeing with Wendy Murphy -- Wendy.

MURPHY: Yes, but you know what? Look, there was far less DNA evidence in the Scott Peterson case, and we`re all fine with that Vermont.

You know what else kills Amanda Knox? She falsely implicated an innocent black man. She said, "He`s bad"...

BACHRACH: May I say something?

MURPHY: No, let me finish. You let me finish.

BACHRACH: Since I`m the only person that covered this story.

MURPHY: ... implicated an innocent black man to cover -- to cover your own butt. I don`t care if you`re the sweet type, the Pollyanna- looking type. If you`re the type who would falsely implicate an innocent man, you`re the type who would kill because you don`t have a conscience.

BACHRACH: And Jane...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Lisa Bloom.

BLOOM: The problem is, many of the criticisms that are being lobbied against the Italian system could be lobbied against our own system. And with all due respect, a lot of the people who are making these criticisms are non-lawyers who don`t understand how the court process works.

BACHRACH: No, but we...

BLOOM: Of course, somebody`s behavior after the murder always comes into a case. After -- behavior after the murder always comes into trial. I`ve seen that many times.

Animations come in during closing arguments. You put together the scenario. You don`t have to have a piece of evidence, and you don`t have to have motive. Motive can change during the trial.

Having said all of that, I think she`s innocent. But Wendy Murphy is making some very good explanations about the evidence. And I don`t think it`s right to say that this was anti-Americanism, given that...

BACHRACH: Wendy Murphy...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Hold on.

BLOOM: ... who was also convicted...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Judy, 20 seconds. Twenty-second rebuttal, Judy.

BACHRACH: OK, very simply, there is very little DNA evidence, and some of it was picked up a month and a half after the corpse was found, during which time there was plenty of opportunity for contamination. I don`t say there was contamination, but there was plenty of opportunity, and Italy is famous for that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it right there. Thank you, fantastic panel.

A major break in the hunt for Kristi Cornwell. She vanished in August. Could a failed abduction be linked to her disappearance? We`re going to talk to her brother.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A major breakthrough in the desperate search for Kristi Cornwell. The 38-year-old woman was abducted by a mystery assailant back in August. Now cops say her suspected kidnapper tried to abduct another woman just two weeks earlier. Will this new break lead cops to Kristi?

Plus, a bombshell decision in the brutal chimp attack. The prosecutor announced he`s not going to charge the woman who kept the chimp as a pet with any crime. Sandra Herold`s so-called pet mauled a woman, ripping off her hands and face. This woman kept a wild animal as a pet. So why isn`t she being charged?

Turning now to a huge break in the search for a Georgia mom and tough questions for investigators; 38-year-old Kristi Cornwell was kidnapped four long months ago near her parents`. We now have a sketch of a possible suspect. Police think he is a white male, in his mid-20s, with dark hark. Police believe the very same man tried to kidnap another woman just nine days earlier. She was jogging in North Carolina, a short drive from where Kristi disappeared.


JOHN BANKHEAD, GBI SPOKESMAN: The woman told us that a vehicle approached her, pulled up behind her, and struck her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The woman managed to escape. Here`s what I don`t understand, people. Why did it take police four months to connect these two cases? Kristi Cornwell was abducted just 25 miles away from that attempted abduction, which occurred nine days earlier. And the suspect had the same M.O.; it was even around the same time.

Kristi was walking along a rural road, talking on her cell phone to her boyfriend. She told him a car was following her. Then he heard a struggle through the cell phone. Kristi`s boyfriend described the terrifying call on NBC`s "Today Show".


DOUGLAS DAVIS, KRISTI CORNWELL`S BOYFRIEND: I know her voice, and the tone that gave her this foolish confidence that she was being abducted, she was afraid and I know for a fact this is an abduction.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to my expert panel: Don Clark, former FBI special agent in charge; Pat Brown, criminal profiler; investigator reporter Michelle Sigona; and joining me by phone, Kristi`s brother, Richard Cornwell.

Richard, when did you learn that police were connecting these two cases? And do you think they might have been able to connect the dots a lot earlier given the many similarities between these two cases?

RICHARD CORNWELL, KRISTI CORNWELL`S BROTHER (via telephone): We were briefed on this development only very recently. I`m not aware of when GBI actually obtained this information on the ranger (ph) North Carolina case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Are you concerned that it took too long?

CORNWELL: We still have full confidence in the GBI and the sheriff`s office that they`re going to solve this case. And, you know, I believe that they`ve been doing what they can do to put these pieces together.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Richard, I know that you`re saying exactly what you need to say to help your sister so that your sister can be found.

But Michelle Sigona, I have to say that there is -- there`s a lot of similarities in these two cases. I know you just called the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and other authorities to try to get their side of the story as to why it took so long to connect these two cases. What did you learn?

MICHELLE SIGONA, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: I just got off the phone with John Bankhead from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations as promised, Jane, in our last show. And what he told me is that this tip was one of 664 other leads that came in to them. That some of them were very similar.

And what he did was, after this information came in from North Carolina, they took in the information, they did create a sketch. They went out to more than 450 homes in the area, they showed the sketch. They tried to match the vehicle description between 400 to 500 other vehicles in the area and pretty much exhausted this lead to the point to where they could finally put it out to the media.

This one -- and we may see more coming out in the future -- I do want to mention the Georgia Bureau of Investigations has done 1,600 documented transactions on the Kristi Cornwell case. They are actively working this. They are doing their best. And they want to find Kristi just as much as her family does.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The jogger who escaped, the initial incident, says a man drove up behind her, knocked her to the ground and got out of the car. It was only when he saw another car approaching that he jumped back in his car and drove off. Apparently he was scared off by that other vehicle.

It sounds very similar to what Kristi Cornwell told her boyfriend moments before she was actually abducted.


BANKHEAD: She specifically told him, it`s public knowledge at this point in time, that she was stepping off the road because a vehicle was approaching.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s the gentleman that I believe that Michelle Sigona just spoke with.

Kristi`s boyfriend says he heard her struggle with somebody through the cell phone. These two cases are 9 days apart, 25 miles apart. They occurred around the same time of night around 9:00 p.m. And now it`s four months later and we are getting a suspect description and a vehicle description.

Pat Brown, what could have been accomplished had we gotten this suspect car and description earlier?

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Well, Jane, I think you pointed out something that is a problem. I believe in a thing called suspected serial homicide unit at every police department. What happens now is these things come into the CID the criminal investigations division. Tons of these reports, you know, there`s robberies, there`s homicides, there`s attempted rapes, so many cases.

But some of them should be put in a special unit, which will be a suspected serial homicide unit. So that when something like this happens, each police department has someone to contact to share their information. It doesn`t happen that way. They could have used it a lot sooner.

But than again, I want to say, Jane, here`s a problem. This may not be the same guy. There`s more than one of these guys running around out there. So yes this is important information but we don`t know yet if it`s the same person.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, since we have no other leads that are viable that we talked about, what`s the loss to put up the picture?

Here`s my issue. Did investigators drop the ball by not linking these cases sooner? It does not take an expert to see the similarity. The suspect stalked his suspect using a car, striking both times at around 9:00 at night. the attempted kidnapping happened in Ranger, North Carolina. Nine days later and just 25 miles away, Kristi was abducted in Blairsville, Georgia.

However, just a few weeks after Kristi vanished, an investigator said this about the two cases, quote, "We`re following up on it, but right now there is no connection," end quote.

My question is why were they so quick to say there was no connection? We asked the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and you heard what Michelle Sigona asked and got answered a moment ago.

Look, I could never -- Don Clark, I could never be a law enforcement expert. I have taken the courses and they`ve told me forget it. I do the films, I shoot everybody who goes around the corner, I know how hard it is to be a cop, I do.

And I`m not trying to play Monday morning quarterback but to me the similarities in this particular case seen quite obvious. And my question is, what did they have to lose to say there`s still this outstanding case? This woman who was almost abducted; they didn`t find this guy, so let`s release the picture and just see what happens.

DON CLARK, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Jane, you`re absolutely right. And you know, I`m very pro law enforcement and my heart goes out for the family of Kristi`s here.

But look, here are the similarities that took place here. First of all, it`s a very short distance between where Kristi was abducted from and where this other incident occurred, you know. It`s less than 20 miles. All these law enforcement should be sharing information and there should have been someone prioritizing all of these leads that come in. Someone -- the light should have gone on when they found out that this happened just a couple weeks ago, and within 20 miles of that.

So someone, in my opinion, just did not really carry the ball on that one.

SIGONA: I think if they did connect it early on, and what they did was they were working it behind the scenes and they were trying to make those connections directly in the neighborhoods and trying to keep it close to the vest to be able to rule that out...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on a second, I hear Richard Cornwell, the brother. Richard, briefly, what did you want to say?

CORNWELL: That wasn`t me, I`m sorry. That was someone else.

BROWN: Jane, I want to say they should have gotten that information out there. You`re absolutely correct. One problem we have with serial homicides is that the police don`t like to admit there`s a serial killer out there. If a woman has been abducted for sexual purposes, there`s a serial killer and you have to go to the public right away with everything you can...

CLARK: That`s right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Everyone, stay right where you are, including Kristi`s brother. I have questions for you sir. Thank you for your patience.

We`re going to have more in this search for Kristi Cornwell. We`re not letting it go.

Plus, no charges in the horrifying chimp attack. A woman disfigured for life, her hands and face ripped off. Wild animals should not be kept as pets. When are we going to make it illegal?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This chimp probably felt threatened somewhat with its person that`s taking care of the female and went after her.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Done for the day, heading home. Going to go shopping for groceries, but I`ve forgotten something -- what have I forgotten? I`ve forgotten my reusable bags; can`t go shopping without these. Here`s a sturdy one.

But this is my favorite. Look, it wraps up into a tiny little pouch but when it`s open carries a bunch of stuff. The main thing is not to use these. You see that smiley face? These are what you call the little white bags of death. They last a thousand years.

They`re ruining the coral reefs. Birds are getting stuck in them. They`re bad. We shouldn`t use these bags.

It`s time to say, bye-bye bag and hello common sense.

I`m Jane Velez Mitchell and that`s your green alert.




JOHN BANKHEAD, GBI SPOKESMAN: This is just what we believe happened: while he was driving down the road and given the location of the cell phone right on the side of the road where the man cutting the grass found it, it`s an indication that it was just tossed out of the window.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are searching for Kristi Cornwell. What happened to her? Who took her?

Police have now released a description of a suspect`s vehicle. It`s a late-model silver Nissan Xterra. And we`re going to show it to you in a second; it`s got tinted windows and a brush guard. That is a metal frame that wraps around the car`s grill and headlights.

You know, there are as many as 500 -- can we see the car, please? Thank you. There are as many as 500 vehicles just like this registered in that area of North Carolina alone. Take a good look at this vehicle. That may be the vehicle that the suspect is driving.

But I`ve got to tell you, Michelle Sigona, you`ve covered so many of these. Four months later, there`s so many of these cars, 500 in that one area of North Carolina and not to mention Georgia. Is it -- what are we going to do with this information now, Michelle?

SIGONA: Well, I think at this point if the vehicle was possibly sold or if the person moved out of the area, now investigators can say, "You know what? We canvassed that area the best that we could. We really ruled this lead out and now we`re moving on."

And another thing John Bankhead had said to me on the phone just a little a while ago was that, "Look, we didn`t want people to get tunnel vision early on."

If you remember, Jane, as well as I do, in the sniper case, in D.C. early on information was put out about a white vehicle and everyone zoned in on that and they weren`t even in a white vehicle.

So this is one of those instances where they had some information, they had to get to the bottom of it. They had to interview this particular witness to find out exactly what would happen. And early on also when this first initially happened nine days before when she called investigators, an initial report wasn`t taken.

So GBI had to come in and not only they have to backtrack through that whole entire instance, gather the information, put together the sketch, go out to 450 homes, try to figure out where this vehicle is. And now they`re to the point to where they can put it out to say, "Ok, we`ve exhausted this, let`s move on and put it out there and see what we get."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Richard Cornwell, you are Kristi Cornwell`s sister. You have done heroic things to try to find your sister. Your family, I understand, just auctioned off your lakefront vacation home to raise money for the search for your beloved sister who has been missing since August 11th.

CORNWELL: That`s correct.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I understand you raised $300,000 plus. How are you going to use that money to try and find your sister? We`re seeing her on video right here.

CORNWELL: We`re going to continue our direct mailings to the public in Union County and surrounding counties. We`re going to put out photographs of this -- this composite sketch of the suspect and photo of the vehicle in hopes that a tip from the public will come in that lead us to Kristi and her abductor.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Richard, I want you to know that here on ISSUES, we cover the war on women and we`re not letting this case go. We are going to keep this case alive. We are going to do everything we can to find your precious sister.

It`s obscene that America, in the 21st century, a woman cannot walk down a country road right near her parent`s home, on the phone with her boyfriend without taking her life into her hands. And it`s got to stop and we must make sure that we, as women and the men who love women, demand, demand that society change so that we can be safe, so that we don`t have to wear psychological burqas as women and fear for our lives every time we walk out alone.

It`s got to stop.

Thank you, fantastic panel.

We`re going to move on to another fast-breaking story.

Developments in the swirling controversy in the tragic chimp attack story. Tonight, we`re learning no charges will be filed against the Connecticut woman whose pet chimp went berserk and mauled another woman to within inches of her life.


DAVID COHEN, STAMFORD-NORWALK, CONNECTICUT STATE ATTORNEY: It is therefore my determination that no criminal prosecution is warranted in this case. This does not in any way minimize the horror that we all feel with what occurred and with the horrendous injuries suffered. Our prayers go out to the family and to the victim.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: In March, Travis the chimp violently attacked Charla Nash. Here they are in a photo from the "Hartford Current". The 200-pound primate tore off Charla`s hands, nose, lips and eyelids. Cops called to the scene shot and killed the chimp. Experts say he was likely protecting his surrogate mom. Critics said the primate should never have been kept as a pet in the first place.

Now Charla Nash is suing Travis` "owner," quote unquote "owner," for $50 million and she`s suing the State of Connecticut for $150 million. Last month, Nash appeared on Oprah to explain why she`s suing. On the show, she revealed her severely disfigured face.

We have to warn you, the clip you are about to see is shocking and graphic, but it does put the story into context.


CHARLA NASH, VICTIM: You can take the hat off.


NASH: Right.

WINFREY: Ok, all right. All right. So the veil is lifted. You know, many people around the world want to get a picture of you. You`re aware of that, right?

NASH: I had been hearing that there are a lot of reports.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s horrifying. Could it have been prevented? Yes. A lot to cover.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: Jane Garrison, animal welfare advocate; and still here, CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom; and investigative journalist Michelle Sigona.

Michelle, what`s the very latest?

SIGONA: The very latest in this case is Jane, I spoke earlier today with the state`s attorney`s office in Connecticut and they say that they will in fact not file the charges because, at this particular point, they do not feel that there was no evidence of recklessness.

Having said that, at the time of the attack there was no law on the book banning Connecticut homeowners from keeping chimpanzees in the house. But since June, now the state legislator added gorillas, chimpanzees and orangutans to the list of animals that cannot be privately owned in the state. So that is one little step in this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No recklessness?

Lisa Bloom, these animals are not supposed to be kept as pets if you have any common sense. And she was urged by several people to send this animal to a sanctuary. How is that not reckless to keep that animal?

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I certainly agree for the sake of the animals and the sake of the public, nobody should keep these animals. But at the time, Jane, it was legal. And legally it`s the equivalent of having a dog that all of its life was a very good dog and one day becomes very vicious and attacks someone. You`re not going to be held criminally responsible for that.

We have 25 percent of the world`s prison population, Jane, 5 percent of the world`s population. We don`t need to lock up everybody for everything. This is a horrendous accident. I agree with the state`s attorney. It doesn`t warrant criminal charges.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Was it just a matter of time, Jane Garrison, before this primate would act?

JANE GARRISON, ANIMAL ACTIVIST: Absolutely. You know Jane even when these animals appear to be loved, captivity is hell for exotic animals...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hang in there. We`ll be right back.



911 DISPATCHER: What`s the problem?

SANDRA HEROLD, CHIMPANZEE OWNER: Send the police. Send the police.

911 DISPATCHER: What`s the problem there?

HEROLD: The -- the -- the chimp killed my, my friend. Please. Please, hurry.

911 DISPATHCER: Ok. I need you to calm down a little bit. They`re on the way.

HEROLD: They got to shoot him, please. Please hurry. Hurry.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A chilling and frantic 911 call made by the woman who kept Travis, the chimp, as a pet. She told the NBC`s "Today Show" how she tried to save her friend.


HEROLD: And I saw what was going on. And I hollered at him. He was just grabbing at her. And then I went and got the shovel. I was trying to hit him with the shovel to stop it. It wasn`t working. I went and I had to get a knife.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you stabbed him?

HEROLD: I had to. He looked at me like, "Mom, what did you do?"


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mom? Jane Garrison, we see this time and time again, people who say to themselves they love animals but their behavior is actually totally self-centered. It`s all about using the animal to fulfill their needs.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is not that exploitation?

GARRISON: It absolutely is Jane. And even in these cases where the people really appear to love the animals. And I believe that she really did.

But captivity is hell for these wild animals that are meant to roam free. They suffer from depression, from boredom, from loneliness. And it`s not a matter of if they will lash out, it`s a matter of when they`re going to lash.

This tragic case is such an example that wild animals, they belong in the wild, they do not belong in our homes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No criminal charges for Sandra Herold. Listen as the prosecutor explains why.


DAVID COHEN, STAMFORD-NORWALK, CT, STATE`S ATTORNEY: There is no record of this chimpanzee having attacked previously. Two, the chimpanzee was very familiar with the victim, and they had interacted numerous times in the past.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But some, including Sandra Herold, speculated the chimp didn`t recognize Charla Nash that day. The victim was reportedly driving a different car, had a different hairstyle, she was holding a stuffed toy in front of her face.

Animal expert Jack Hanna had this to say about that on ISSUES.


JACK HANNA, ANIMAL EXPERT: This chimp probably felt threatened somewhat with the person there that`s taking care of it, the female, and went after her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Clearly, Jane, the chimp thought it was protecting the woman who kept it as a pet. You said it was just a matter of time before this happened. What do you say to people who say there is a bill right now in the U.S. Senate that would outlaw this situation? Should people call their U.S. Senators and say, "Pass the primate safety act so we don`t have another horror story like this?"

GARRISON: Yes, Jane. People need to call their legislators today. They need to tell them that exotic wild animals should not be kept as pets. If people want a pet, go to your local animal shelter and adopt an animal that`s more suitable to be a member of the family.

Wild and dangerous animals do not belong in our homes and we need to prevent another tragic case like this from happening in the future.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We only have a couple of seconds...

BLOOM: Hear hear.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lisa, here is the capper. There were reports that she gave him wine and Xanax and that that could make the animal actually more aggressive. Ten seconds.

BLOOM: Yes. People think that these animals are their babies, they`re humans. They`re not. They`re wild animals. I agree. I have two wonderful rescue dogs from the shelters. Those are the pets we should be adopting. Let the wild animals be free.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you fantastic panel, for joining me tonight.

By the way, remember to click on and order your copy of my new book "I Want."

You are watching ISSUES on HLN.