Return to Transcripts main page


Amanda Knox`s Lawyer Preparing Her Appeal

Aired December 8, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, Amanda Knox wages war on the Italian justice system. Family and friends vowing to fight her controversial guilty verdict.

New global outrage over a 23-minute video created by the prosecution. Critics say the video shows Amanda slicing the victim`s throat, and it was shown to the jury. But was this theory of how the crime went down simply made up by the prosecutors?

Now the judge has 90 days to explain why the jury reached the guilty verdict. Was the trial unfair and anti-American? We`ll get insights from her outraged family and friends as they point the finger at the Italian justice system.

And breaking news in the still-imploding Tiger Woods sex scandal. An ambulance was once again called to his house. This time his mother-in-law rushed to the hospital.

Meanwhile, new reports say Tiger`s wife is moving out of the country. All this as more alleged mistresses continue to pile up. Some news reports claiming there could be ten women.

And, as if that`s not enough, there`s new questions about drug use. We`ll break down this entire nightmare.

Plus toxic secrets and dangerous addictions. A high roller in Vegas gambled away $127 million in a single year. But get this: he`s blaming the casino, and he`s refusing to pay his debt. He`s accused the casino of boozing him up and popping him full of pills so he would keep gambling. Does this guy really have a case or is he just a sore loser?

ISSUES start now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, percolating outrage over the Amanda Knox guilty verdict. The American student dubbed Foxy Knoxy by the European press was sentenced to 26 years in prison. Lawyers for the 22-year-old are already furiously preparing her appeal. But Amanda will likely sit in an Italian prison for an entire year before that appeals process even gets started.

First, the judge has three months to announce why the jury found Amanda guilty. This report is just one tiny example of how the Italian justice system is so, so, so different from ours.

After a trial that dragged on 11 long months and three convictions, guess what? We still really don`t know what happened the night of Meredith Kercher`s brutal murder. Crime-scene photos from ABC`s "Good Morning America" show blood covering the walls and the floor. Meredith`s dead body lies under a blood-soaked blanket. Meredith had -- get this -- 47 wounds on her body. Bloody fingerprints, bloody footprints are everywhere. But none of them belong to Amanda Knox.

She begged the jury to believe she was not involved.


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


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But prosecutors insist Amanda is the killer. They showed the jury a 23-minute-long video to try and prove it. In that video -- are you sitting down -- an animated version of Amanda taunts Meredith with a knife and then slashes her throat. We`re talking about avatars, animation here. All during an orgy of violence.

Amanda`s parents are stunned that that video was allowed in for the jury to see. They say Amanda was with her then-boyfriend and co-defendant Raffaele at his house, not at the murder scene.


EDDA MELLAS, AMANDA KNOX`S MOTHER: Amanda and Raffaele were seen at Raffaele`s house. It shows computer activity at his house. They were there. They took cooked dinner. They watched a movie. They hung out. All of that is proven through computer records, all the way up until, at least I think, 9:15.

Now, they believe that Meredith was killed about 9:30. And somehow the prosecution claims that, in 15 minutes, Amanda and Raffaele got totally wasted, ran off, found a guy that they didn`t know, committed this murder in about 15 minutes. It`s ludicrous.

Amanda was at Raffaele`s house. They stayed there all evening. That`s what we know for sure.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So how did Amanda end up as the prime suspect? Is her odd behavior partly to blame? Was it this incriminating kiss snapped the day after the murder? Was it her continually changing stories? Or is the media to blame?

Will Amanda Knox go from a promising college student to washing clothes behind bars? She has asked to work in the prison laundry room, all for a crime she says she did not commit.

Is she is the victim of a flawed, anti-American system? I want to hear from you. Give me a call, 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7287.

Now straight out to my fabulous expert panel: criminal defense attorney Bradford Cohen; prosecutor Wendy Murphy; and psychologist Brenda Wade. We`re going to have some very special guests with us in just a moment, friends of Amanda Knox.

But I want to start with you, Bradford Cohen. Does their appeal have a chance? A coalition of Americans gathering tonight, saying, "We`re going to fight this verdict."

But it`s a totally different system in a totally different country. This poor girl is behind bars. If, in fact, she didn`t do it, is there a chance she`ll get out or will she have to serve 26 years?

BRADFORD COHEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think the appeal has a lot of merit. In looking at the U.S. law compared to Italian law, of course, there`s a huge, huge difference.

But if you look at what went on during this trial, if you look at the evidence that was presented, the arguments that were made and things that were introduced by this judge, I think the appeal is going to have a lot of merit to it. And I think that they`re going to end up winning the appeal, and this is going to get reversed.

I cannot believe, based on the evidence that was presented, based on what -- the lack of evidence that was presented, that she was convicted.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s revisit the night of the crime. Investigators believe Meredith was murdered sometime around midnight. But Amanda`s then-boyfriend and co-defendant doesn`t call police until 12 hours later. That call, which the prosecution played at the end of their video reenactment, is full of contradictions.

First, the boyfriend, Raffaele, says there was a robbery. Then he says nothing was stolen. Also Amanda allegedly knew the position of Meredith`s body, even though she never admitted being in the room.

So Wendy Murphy, is knowing the position of the body damning evidence if she never admits to even being in the room?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: It`s one piece of a very big pile of evidence against her, absolutely. You know, she knew other things, as well.

For example, she told police she -- during the statement when she said she was there -- remember, she changed her story several times. First she wasn`t there, then she was there. But she was in a drug-fuelled haze, so she`s not exactly sure what she heard and saw. You know, she said, "I heard -- I heard Meredith screaming." Well, it turns out a neighbor said that there was a blood-curdling scream. But Amanda wouldn`t have known that, had she not been there.

There is so much evidence in this case. And I just want to tell folks, just Google "justice for Meredith," and you`ll find the true facts in this case. In my column at goes into a lot of information that we don`t have a lot of time to get into tonight.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.

COHEN: Name the physical evidence. Name the physical evidence.

MURPHY: I would be glad to. I`d be glad to.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hey, let`s talk evidence.

MURPHY: Please, let`s. First of all the most important piece...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me talk evidence for a second. And then you can...

MURPHY: Most important piece of evidence --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... respond, Wendy.

MURPHY: All right. OK.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s talk about the broken window.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Investigators say that the broken window is too small for a person to fit through. There it is. So the question is, was it smashed to make it look like there was a break-in? The prosecutor said yes. And adds, "In whose interest would it be to stage a fake robbery? Only the people who live there," end quote. Now, of course, that was Meredith and Amanda Knox.

Raffaele`s DNA was found on Meredith`s bra clasp, but that piece of evidence was contaminated, according to the defense. It sat in the apartment for months after the murder.

The prosecution said a bloody footprint and this bloody footprint belonged to Raffaele. The defense argued, guess what? He had a hammer toe, and it would have left a different print.

And then there`s the alleged murder weapon, a knife found at Raffaele`s house. Remember, the crime occurred at Amanda`s house. Amanda and Meredith were living together, rooming. They were students. Amanda, the knife was found at Raffaele`s house, a totally different place. But it has Amanda`s DNA on the handle and Meredith`s DNA on the blade.





COHEN: Not blood DNA.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. So now that I have presented, now that I have presented the evidence, continue, Wendy. Continue, Wendy, to tell me...

MURPHY: Let me -- let me say a couple of things. First of all, let`s be very clear about the knife. It wasn`t just the knife that police believe was involved. They believe two knives were involved. But clearly, this one was involved, because Meredith`s blood was on the tip.

Now, let me be clear. Everyone on the defense team has been saying publicly, it wasn`t blood. It was only skin cells. As if that makes a difference. it was still on the tip of the knife.

But Sollecito, Raffaele Sollecito, said to police when they told him her DNA was on the tip of the knife that they found hidden in a shoebox, way in the back of his closet -- I don`t know what it was doing there. What do you think? Scrubbed clean with bleach, by the way. When they told him about her DNA being on the tip of the knife, you know what Sollecito said?

"Oh, yes, that`s from the time we were all having dinner at my place and I accidentally stabbed her while we were cooking." He said it was blood. And it was unrefuted evidence at trial. That`s why the prosecution gets to argue that it was, in fact, the victim`s blood.

So can we stop saying it wasn`t an important piece of evidence?

COHEN: ... bloody scene, Wendy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold it, Brenda Wade -- Brenda Wade.

COHEN: This is a bloody, bloody scene. Wendy knows as well as I do bleach and all that other stuff that you try to get blood off of knives, it doesn`t work. It gets stuck in the hilt.

MURPHY: Oh, please.

COHEN: It gets stuck in the crevices of the knife.

MURPHY: Oh, please. That`s why there was only a tiny piece left.

COHEN: I mean, you`re an experienced prosecutor. You`re telling me that in this scene, where there was so much blood...

MURPHY: That`s why there was only a tiny bit left. They scrubbed it like crazy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Please, wait! One at a time!

OK, let me just say this. Let me say this. The defense says it makes perfect sense for Amanda`s DNA to be on the handle, because it was found in her boyfriend`s house. So they cook. And so, of course, her DNA is going to be found on the handle.

And this was a roommate of hers that was murdered, so it makes sense that maybe a little DNA of the roommate shows up on the tip of the knife, because they all hung out together and they socialize together. Now what about that explanation, Wendy Murphy?

MURPHY: It was -- it was scrubbed clean with bleach, hidden in a shoe box way in the back of Raffaele`s closet. I don`t know where you keep your knives, Jane. Even -- you know, even clean college students might wash the knife. Why would you scrub it clean with bleach and hide it in your closet? He said it was bloody.

COHEN: Why wouldn`t he just throw it out?

MURPHY: Raffaele said it was bloody. Let me finish one point. Raffaele is the one who said it was blood from the victim, because he accidentally stabbed her. And guess what? Witnesses testified at trial she had never been to his apartment. Bad excuse.


MURPHY: It was blood because it was the murder weapon.

COHEN: Wrong.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hang on, everyone.

More on the Amanda Knox verdict and worldwide reaction. And I want to hear from you. Give me a call: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Plus, the hits just keep on coming in the Tiger Woods sex scandal. How many more women are going to come forward? And what caused Tiger`s mother-in-law to be rushed to the hospital?

But first, was Amanda Knox railroaded by an Italian court? We will have more on the murder case that is splitting the globe.


CURT KNOX, AMANDA KNOX`S FATHER: She knows she had nothing to do with this. And, you know, they just can`t put an innocent person behind bars.

MELLAS: There`s no way that, with no evidence, they could convict her of the crime she didn`t commit.




C. KNOX: Amanda was actually questioned and interrogated for over 41 hours and it culminated in a 14-hour overnight, very aggressive interrogation. She told us she has never been more scared in her entire life. And at that stage in the game, you`re virtually willing to sign anything in order to get out of that situation.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was Amanda Knox`s dad. And after that very long interrogation, Amanda pointed the finger at her boss, bar owner Patrick Lumumba, who turns out had an alibi. That false accusation is why she got 26 years and her boyfriend only got 25.

But her family says after 41 hours of being interrogated in a very brutal fashion, she was scared. And she may have changed her story and admitted to something she didn`t do because she was being browbeaten.

We are delighted to have with us tonight, two good friends of Amanda Knox, Andrew Seliber and Jessica Nichols. Thank you so much for joining us.

Jessica, how is Amanda holding up in the wake of this devastating verdict?

JESSICA NICHOLS, FRIEND OF AMANDA KNOX: She`s, as always, an inspiration to us because she`s found that inner reserve of strength that is really remarkable. And she`s looking forward to pushing on and going on from here to find what comes next and another way to -- to find an end to this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What I heard was that she was sobbing during the verdict as the judge read it and then returned to her prison cell, sobbing hysterically, and that some of her jail mates, who are also foreigners from China, Kosovo and Romania, actually comforted her, and that she is quite popular behind bars. What do you know about that?

NICHOLS: I know that the people that are around her in there, they care about her, and they`ve come to know her as the same person that we do, who you can`t -- you can`t help but love. And they wanted to be there for her and help her. And the guards and the prisoners both have taken care of her since she -- since she came back, and that`s a comfort to us, as well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Andrew Seliber, we`ve been talking about the evidence, particularly the knife evidence. Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, is saying, "Hey, this knife evidence is pretty darn incriminating."

What do you say? What`s the defense explanation of the knife evidence?

ANDREW SELIBER, FRIEND OF AMANDA KNOX: Well, from how it`s been -- how it`s been explained to me by the lawyers and everybody is that there`s a lot of dispute over the knife, because when the scene was examined and you look at some imprints on the sheets, the knife imprint there doesn`t exactly match the knife that the prosecution says is the knife that was used in the murder.

And there`s a lot of inconclusive talk about the DNA that`s on the tip, whether or not it`s -- it`s enough and it`s a high enough percentage when it`s tested to be considered usable in court. And, you know, there`s a lot of debate for what`s a good standard in that.

And in addition, the DNA that was on that knife was tested out in the first test on it. There wasn`t enough for a second test.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, let me ask you a provocative question here. Play devil`s advocate. Did Amanda`s changing story seal her fate?

First, she told police she was not at the apartment the night of the murder. Then she signed a confession, putting herself at the scene and pointing the finger at her boss, a bar owner by the name of Patrick Lumumba. She wrote, "I met Patrick. We went to my apartment. Patrick had sex with Meredith. I confusedly remember that he killed her," end quote.

Then Amanda took that confession back, saying that she was browbeaten during an interrogation by the Italian police that went on for 41 hours. Listen to this from CBS`s "48 Hours."


A. KNOX: They said that I was going to go in prison for 30 years because I was hiding something. And they said that I was lying. I was terrified, because I didn`t know -- I didn`t know what to do anymore.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jessica, do you believe she was browbeaten into the false confession that she later recanted?

NICHOLS: I take Amanda at her word. And if that`s what she said happened, then I do believe that.

And even more than that, it`s not the first time that this is something that the prosecutor, Magnini, has been involved in. This happened to an author named Douglas Preston, who was subjected to similar interrogation techniques.

And I think that, after that kind of pressure for that long in a language that you`re not completely familiar with, in a foreign country away from your family and your support system, I think that, you know, the browbeating, as it`s being called, is absolutely believable.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and I -- I think your point is absolutely well taken. It`s translation. Was something lost in translation? English, obviously, is her first language.

Everyone stay right where you are. We`re going to have more on the Amanda Knox verdict and the international outrage.

And a businessman lost $127 million -- $127 million -- gambling in Las Vegas, as much as $5 million a day. Now he`s playing the victim card. He`s blaming the casino, claiming they kept him drunk and stoned as he gambled away his fortune. It`s a wild story. How`s it going to play out in court?

But first, the Amanda Knox verdict splits the globe. Did the young woman known as Foxy Knoxy across Europe get a fair trial? Was her verdict a sign of anti-American sentiment?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The information that`s being reported out there that there was Amanda`s bloody fingerprints in the bathroom, that is completely false. There is no...




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. It seemed 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 is going on. But every time the prosecutor spoke, the jury was wide awake.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight`s big issue. Culture clash. Was Amanda Knox found guilty because she was naive about Italian culture?

Amanda`s actions bugged the police after the murder. She was spotted at a lingerie shop with her boyfriend. Here are those photos from Amanda also allegedly did splits and cartwheels when she was questioned at the police station. Then there was the "All You Need is Love" T-shirt she wore to court and her ever-present smile. I mean, take a look at some of these photos. Italian prosecutors didn`t think that a woman should be smiling when she`s accused of murder.

Jessica, why did she behave this way?

NICHOLS: I think that Amanda smiles because it`s a source of strength and she`s trying to put on a brave face for her family and her friends who are supporting her. And it`s difficult for them.

And I think that, you know, more than anything, when you look at all this behavior, and they`ve taken so much of this as what has been used as evidence against her, really the behavior and the character and all that should not have this central role in a trial. It...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But it does, Brenda Wade. That`s the point. Clinical psychologist, Brenda Wade, your analysis of this situation?

BRENDA WADE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: It definitely -- I`m sorry, Jane, under no circumstances would somebody who`s accused of murder be appropriate to sit and smile at the very, very least. If the woman who was murdered was indeed her friend, to look sad about it would be appropriate. The cartwheels.

And unfortunately, one of the things we have to look at is the impression that`s left on the minds of the jurors. A video is a very compelling thing. Because when you see an image, you hear words that tell a story. We have evidence that the mind completes the story before you get to the end.

So there`s a lot here in terms of her behavior, the video, that would leave the jurors deeply impressed that she`s guilty. And she didn`t help by sitting there smiling.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ninety percent of communication is nonverbal. I think that`s another way of saying it.

WADE: That`s right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Terry from Massachusetts, your question or thought?

CALLER: Yes, I want to know how come nobody talks about the victim or their family? I mean, can anybody imagine what the family is going through?


MURPHY: Yes. You know, one of the saddest things about this case is that the victim is from another country. I think we`d at least have more balance on the airwaves if she had a presence here. And that`s a bias that I really think is doing a disservice to truth.

You know, the only thing that matters is what really happened. It doesn`t really tell us anything that Amanda is nice and she`s cute and -- that`s what we`re all latching on to, because it`s really hard to look at a face of such a sweet girl and think...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is the face of the victim right now that we`re looking. This is the face of the victim.

MURPHY: That`s right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me go back to Jessica.

MURPHY: And let`s focus on that. And talk about the evidence and not how sweet Amanda is. Let`s talk about...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have been talking about the evidence. And we...

MURPHY: Not a lot in the past ten minutes. No, we haven`t touched on the most important evidence in my opinion, Jane. That -- no one is disputing it and they can`t, and that`s why it doesn`t get a lot of air time. Five different blood spots in the cottage where the murder took place...


MURPHY: ... a mixture of the victim`s blood and Amanda`s DNA. Three different rooms.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But no footprints of Amanda Knox is around anywhere in the blood room. So how do you explain no bloody footprints?

MURPHY: There was a footprint that matched Amanda.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news in the still imploding Tiger Woods sex scandal. An ambulance was once again called to his house. This time, his mother-in-law rushed to the hospital. We`ll have all the updates including claims of more mistresses and drug use?

Plus, toxic secrets and dangerous addictions: a high roller in Las Vegas gambled away $127 million in a single year. But get this -- now he`s blaming the casino. Does this guy really have a case? Or is he just a sore loser?

Tonight, Tiger Woods` domestic disaster erupts yet again with another late-night 911 phone call from his Florida mansion. This time, it`s his mother-in-law rushed to the hospital with severe stomach pain. It was the very same hospital where Tiger went after his Thanksgiving night SUV crash.

Listen to the just-released 911 call.



911 OPERATOR: Fire & Rescue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God. My mom just collapsed.

911 OPERATOR: Ok, calm down, ok? What is the address? Is she breathing? They`re coming, ok? Calm down for a minute so I can understand what`s happening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She collapsed in the bathroom. I didn`t know what to do.

911 OPERATOR: Is she breathing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just ran to the phone. Hold on, hold on.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: We haven`t confirmed that`s Tiger`s wife Elin calling but the caller was certainly quite distraught. Elin`s mom was released from the hospital a few hours later. It doesn`t take a sleuth to figure out what could have made her so sick to her stomach.

Her famous son-in-law is now linked to as many as ten mistresses. Now new on the list: Cori Rist, seen here in a hooter`s tank top. Rist is a 31-year-old model and a Manhattan nightclub regular. Her connection to Tiger could now cost her custody of her young son. Then there is 26-year- old Jamie Jungers, who is not to be confused with reality TV star Jaimee Grubbs. Yes it is hard to keep up.

With all these alleged girlfriends, a lot of people are wondering if Tiger could be a sex addict.

Here`s addiction specialist Dr. Drew Pinsky on the CBS` "Early Show".


DR. DREW PINSKY, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: You have to wonder about addiction. That`s the process that has people doing things that don`t make sense. I won`t be surprised if we find out that there`s a chemical addiction here as well because sometimes these sexual compulsions come out as part of an overall addictive process to a chemical.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Witnesses say Tiger has been prescribed the sleep aid Ambien and the pain killer Vicodin. Was either drug a factor in his SUV crash? We don`t know because cops never tested him.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel: Leslie Marshall, host of the nationally syndicated radio show, "The Leslie Marshall Show". Hey there Leslie, good to see you. Clinical psychologist Brenda Wade; Howard Samuels, co-founder of the Wonderland Center, a drug and alcohol treatment facility

But we begin with CNN correspondent David Mattingly in Orlando. David, what is the very latest?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jane, what we know is that Tiger Woods` mother-in-law was brought by ambulance to this hospital where throughout the early morning hour, she was treated, listed in stable condition. She was described as having pain in her abdomen but they wouldn`t go any further to say what possible cause there was or how distressed she might have been.

We do know she was released without fanfare in the middle of the afternoon today where she went back to Tiger Woods` home reportedly in good condition.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: When Tiger smashed his SUV on Thanksgiving night, a witness told cops Tiger had been drinking that day. This neighbor described Tiger`s condition right after the accident. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was he conscious or unconscious?

JARIUS ADAMS, NEIGHBOR WHO CALLED 911: At that point he was snoring.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was snoring?

ADAMS: He was actually snoring.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So David, reports are Tiger had prescriptions for Ambien and Vicodin. We all know those are mood alterers. Why didn`t cops test him at the scene the way they would with any driver you suspect of DUI because now we`re never going to know because they can`t get the blood work from the hospital?

MATTINGLY: Well, I`ve got the document right here that explains what was going on. And the witness that they are quoting is presumably Tiger Woods` wife because it`s described as the person who helped pull him out of the vehicle and we know that she was the one who did that.

She indicated that he did have something to drink earlier in that day and that he had prescriptions for these two drugs. But there`s nothing in these documents that says he had actually taken them. The police did not have that information when they went to the prosecutor and the prosecutor actually here in Florida has a very high bar to clear when they try to get that kind of subpoena.

So he looked at what the police were offering him and said that we just don`t have what we need to go after that kind of subpoena to get those medical records. And we`re told that`s not an unusual thing for prosecutors here in Florida to do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ll explain, but nevertheless, I think if I had been an average Jane driving down the street and had crashed into a tree and then a fire hydrant and then rolled out of my car and was snoring on the street, somebody probably would have given me some kind of a test or locked me up.

Here`s my big issue. Could Tiger be a sex addict? He`s got a gorgeous wife at home but he also has an untold number of women on the side.

Here is sex addiction expert Rob Weiss talking on CBS`s "Early Show."


ROB WEISS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SEXUAL RECOVERY INSTITUTE: When someone is publicly portraying themselves in one way and then living very, very differently on the side -- very, very differently in secret and living and holding that double life; that is a really clear side of an addictive process going on.


Howard Samuels, you`re the expert. Is he a sex addict or are we just giving new names to the old, he`s a guy who`s lustful and now he`s got the money, the fame and the power to pull off his fantasies?

HOWARD SAMUELS, CO-FOUNDER, WONDERLAND CENTER: Well, no. I think that without question there`s an addiction issue here. Anybody, if the media reports are correct, who is sleeping with 10, 11, 12 will and they have a beautiful family, married, the whole nine yards, obviously there`s an addiction, there`s a need for sex.

There`s no question in my mind that he has an issue with this that needs to be treated.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, here`s my theory and I want to get all of your reaction to this. Tiger was a child prodigy. He never had a real childhood. He`s been playing golf since he was barely out of diapers.

He had a domineering father, Earl Woods, who was a former Green Beret and a Lieutenant-Colonel, a very powerful force in Tiger`s life and career. In fact, Earl wrote two books about his son, "Training a Tiger: A father`s guide to raising a winner in both golf and life" and "Playing Through: Straight talk on hard work, big dreams and adventures with Tiger".

So my theory is Tiger is acting out immaturely, Leslie Marshall, because he never got a chance to have a normal childhood. His dad was overly controlling. The dad wanted him to be this phenom in the golf world.

Did Tiger really ever have a choice? So Tiger is rebelling. Dad died a little over three years ago and that accelerated Tiger`s desire to act out. That`s my theory. Leslie?

LESLIE MARSHALL, HOST, "THE LESLIE MARSHALL SHOW": I agree with you somewhat, because I do think the link to daddy`s death, rebellion, daddy is gone and I can be the rebellious thing I always wanted to be.

But I also think and I`m sorry for the sex addicts out there and all of you sex addict professionals out there, but I love how we just don`t have personal responsibility. This guy has tons of money, he has gorgeous wife. He`s got the kids, he`s got the career. He`s got women throwing themselves at him.

What this to me is, a guy who wants it all. A guy who wants it all, rebels a bit with dad. But this is clearly -- some guys call it -- my husband and I were talking about this today. Mid-life crisis. It`s like I`m sorry, no.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s too young to have a mid-life crisis.

MARSHALL: ... who can get what they want, you know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s in his 30s.

Brenda Wade...

BRENDA WADE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I think there`s another view of this that we do need to consider. And I think that your theory has some merit. You can hang out a shingle if you want when you`re done with news.

I think nothing happens in a vacuum. And we do have to understand the role that history plays. Now, there`s a piece I have to add to your theory, however. Which is he didn`t grow up in an emotional way as part of this and part of what allows a person to hold good, healthy boundaries and have integrity is when we grow in wisdom and say my job is to protect my family not betray my family.

Now that interacts with the addictive process. I do believe we are looking at an addict. Now, my definition of addiction is doing something that stops your life. This has stopped his life. He was such a phenom, it stopped his life.


SAMUELS: Well, it`s doing something that makes your life so unmanageable that you create such self-destruction and you can`t stop.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think subconsciously he wanted to self-destruct. I don`t think he ever chose to be a golfer.

SAMUELS: Hang on. Every addict has to take responsibility. This isn`t an excuse. Addiction is not an excuse. I`m a drug addict. I`m 25 years clean and sober. I take total responsibility over what I did to myself and my family.

Tiger`s going to have to do the same thing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can he clean up this mess, though David Mattingly? Apparently one of his alleged paramours, Cori Rist, her ex is now going after their child saying I want custody of that boy because she was palling around with Tiger Woods. Is that correct?

MATTINGLY: Well, the only thing we know that Tiger Woods has admitted to is transgressions. And we`re talking about alleged behavior that was conducted in private. And he`s asked so far to be able to handle this in private.

But again, a lot of these details, it`s difficult to speculate. What we can report to you are the facts about the investigation, about what`s happened to his family. The rest of this is going on inside the Tiger Woods` home and in Tiger Woods` family and they`re the ones who really have all the answers to this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I could tell you one other big piece of news -- Elin Woods bought a $2.7 million mansion in her native Sweden so, there is speculations she bought this with her twin sister, that she is out of here and headed back to Sweden.

Thank you fantastic panel.

The daughter of Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley hospitalized after an attempted suicide. How is she doing? What led to her severe depression?

Plus a high roller loses get this, $127 million in Las Vegas; gambling away as much as $5 million a day. Now he says it`s not my fault. He`s actually blaming the casino, claiming they kept him drunk and high. We are taking your calls on this one. What do you think? 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hey, how you doing? We were just talking about the fact that eating your fruits and vegetables is one of the best things you can do for your health and for the environment. But here`s the funny thing, a lot of people package their fruit in plastic. So while they`re helping the environment, they also kind of hurting it too with all the unnecessary plastic.

It doesn`t have to be that way. Come on nature provides its own packaging. What could be better packaging than a banana peel? So let`s keep it simple.

I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell and that`s your "Green Alert."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Coming up, a gambling man is giving new meaning to the term high roller, we`re going to tell about it in a minute.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight: Alexa Ray Joel, the daughter of Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley at home recovering after an apparent suicide attempt this past weekend.

On Saturday, Alexa reportedly called 911 after taking several prescription pills and stated that she quote, "wanted to die" end quote.

Hours later she was released and has been recuperating at her famous father`s Long Island home. What caused this rising star`s alleged suicide attempt?

Some friends and family claim Alexa spiraled into depression after breaking up nearly a year ago with her long-time boyfriend. Other sources claims she was distraught after a nine-day vacation with her famous mom, claiming the two rarely see eye-to-eye.

"The New York Post", source claims Christie Brinkley regularly trashes her famous ex-husband in front of their daughter and urges Alexa to stay thin at all costs.

The police report from Saturday says Brinkley told cops she was not aware of how her daughter had been feeling. Maybe it`s just that it`s very hard to grow up in the shadow of fame.

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

Turning to head games of another sort, a high roller goes on a gambling binge, and I mean binge. He gambles himself into a hole, losing $127 million in a single year. Sometimes he lost as much as $5 million a day. Can you imagine that? Now he`s suing the casinos.

In 2007, wealthy businessman Terry Watanabe bet $825 million all told in two Las Vegas casinos. He wound up in debt and in trouble. Watanabe claims two casinos plied him with booze and prescription drugs as part of their plan to keep him gambling. His attorney made that jaw- dropping claim on NBC`s "Good Morning America."


PIERCE O`DONNELL, ATTORNEY FOR TERRY WATANABE: We have dozens of statements from employees who are still there and are no longer there that they knowingly plied him with alcohol. They`ve said that media, "The Wall Street Journal". I`m confident we`ll establish that the senior management knowingly plied him with alcohol while he was losing staggering sums. And gave him highly addictive pills, eight to ten a day, Lortab.


O`DONNELL: The employees gave it to him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The employees did?

O`DONNELL: Sometimes in a candy box.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: In his lawsuit, Watanabe says the casinos knew he was addicted to alcohol and gambling and they exploited it. What`s more, he was considered a whale, the highest of the high rollers; that`s Las Vegas talk. He says he was given a three-room suit at one of the casinos, personal concierges, imported Russian Vodka and a $17 million gambling limit. You call that a limit, $17 million.

Meanwhile, Watanabe is now facing 28 years in the slammer. He paid back most of the colossal debt but he still owes about $15 million to Harrah`s Corporation. So Nevada prosecutors have slapped him with four felony counts of attempt to defraud and steal.

Tonight`s big issue: was this guy operating on addiction or by choice? I want to know what you think. Give me a call. 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to my awesome expert panel: Joining me now, David Schwartz, director for the Center of Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas -- a perfect place to have that center, by the way; and still here, Bradford Cohen and Howard Samuels and Leslie Marshall.

Let me start with David Schwartz. You`ve heard me explain the story. Is this guy responsible? Or do you think that he`s an addict and therefore powerless over his desire to gamble, drink and take these pills?

DAVID SCHWARTZ, DIRECTOR, CENTER OF GAMING RESEARCH UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA: Well, it`s a very difficult question. A lot of times obviously...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I always ask the tough ones.

SCHWARTZ: Yes, there are people who can`t control their gambling impulses. You would think that when it gets to this magnitude when you hear dozens of millions of dollars being gambled away, there would be either he or somebody in his inner circle would kind of step forward and say look, it`s time for you to hang up the gloves and maybe stop gambling for a while.

So I think in this case it`s probably leaning on the side of personal responsibility.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know -- what I...

BRADFORD COHEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don`t agree with that at all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead, go ahead.

COHEN: I don`t agree with that at all, Jane. I mean, here`s a guy who they know is a known addict that drinks two bottles of vodka a day. They provide him with the vodka. They allegedly provide him with these pills. The people that are around him know that he is addicted. They wake him up sometimes when he passes out at a table to continue to gamble. It`s outrageous. It shocks the conscience.

I can`t even believe that a casino like Harrah`s would go forward and sue the guy for $15 million, filed with the state attorney`s office for $15 million and charge him with four felonies. It`s shocking.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Bradford let`s remember, that this is what he`s saying. Harrah`s Entertainment says Watanabe still owes them almost $15 million plus, but his lawyer pointed the finger back at the company on ABC`s "Good Morning America."

Listen to Watanabe`s lawyer.


O`DONNELL: Harrah`s need to take responsibility for preying on Mr. Watanabe. They have this self-righteous statement on their Web site, "We don`t serve (INAUDIBLE) problem gamblers", yet they did everything in the world to lure him keep him there and frankly to exploit him.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ISSUES reached out to Harrah`s; we didn`t hear back before air time but Harrah`s did issue a brief statement to AOL news Web site, They said they didn`t want to get into a, quote, "public debate with a criminal defendant who`s trying to avoid imprisonment. He is the one on trial," they said. "He is the one who needs to explain his actions," end quote.

Leslie Marshall, what`s your take on this?

MARSHALL: I have to tell you , when I go to the mall and there are sales, are they responsible for all the shopping I`m doing? Am I an addict? Listen, clearly he has a gambling problem and you don`t need to be a medical professional.

But how come he wasn`t suing them and they weren`t suing him? Maybe he paid up all this time. So this sounds like the biggest loss perhaps he`s ever had. It`s beyond control and I think everyone as litigiousness as our society is, is within their right I guess to see each other...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I disagree, I think we are a nation of addicts. And we have to get a grip on that, next.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: $500,000. It`s up to you, Mr. Bond.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bond will have to go all in to call his bluff.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s a scene from "Casino Royale".

Here`s tonight`s big issue: was Mr. Terence Watanabe being exploited for his addiction to -- let`s see -- gambling, alcohol, drugs. Or did he just willfully hit the gambling tables and lose a bleep-load of money?

Here`s his attorney on ABC.


O`DONNELL: He was so addicted and so out of it that he didn`t really realize what was going on. His sister came at Christmastime, intervened and brought him home. He went into rehab facility and he`s doing very well in rehab both on drinking and gambling, hired a lawyer. Lawyer looked at it and said, "I think they owe you money." We had a legitimate business dispute which they turned into a criminal indictment.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Is he an addict or not? Joe, Ohio, your question or thought?

JOE, OHIO (via telephone): My question is what if he was winning the money? Would there be any lawyers involved?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s a good question. That`s pretty funny.

Howard Samuels, you`re a co-founder of the Wonderland Center, an alcohol and drug treatment center. What do you make of this? Because my feeling is that we live in an addict nation. Everybody`s addicted to something.

You can take advantage of addicts because the definition of addiction is powerlessness. But nevertheless, if we let everybody off the hook for being addicts then forget it, it`s open season for any kind of behavior.

SAMUELS: Absolutely. There is a dual responsibility here. This gentleman is an addict; he needs to take responsibility. No one tied him down in the chair, no one tied alcohol, tied him to pills and alcohol and everything else.

This is guy that needs help. So he has a responsibility there. He lost the money, he lost the money. Forget it.

COHEN: I don`t...

SAMUELS: Hang on. I`m not done yet. The casino has to also take responsibility and when they recognize that they have somebody who`s out of control it`s their responsibility to go in and help that person.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on a second. I`ve got to go to William in Nevada because he says he actually saw this guy gambling in Nevada. Tell us what you have to say, sir? William.

WILLIAM, NEVADA (via telephone): He was always -- a table was always available to him in every pit at the Rio Casino where I worked for nine years as a casino supervisor. When he was in the hotel, he had his favorite two floor persons that would follow him from game to game. He would take his time and gamble at a fast pace, sometimes a slow pace, but he seemed to be out of it quite often.

He would wear sunglasses. You couldn`t really get a take on his condition because of the sunglasses. But he was a quiet, nice guy. He didn`t say much.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Was he a tourist attraction William?

WILLIAM: Was he a tourist attraction?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what I have heard. His gambling was so out of control losing $5 million a day that essentially he became a tourist attraction with some people.

WILLIAM: Well, he had followers that just liked to watch. They are in every casino like groupies.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Leslie Marshall -- I`m going to give you the last word on this. You see that this guy was out of it. Can you be out of it day after day, year after year and not have a moment of clarity where you say, "I`m losing $127 million?"

MARSHALL: Yes, Jane, I agree. When I have been to Vegas a lot of people kind of look out of it and have on those glasses.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have to leave it right there.

You`re watching ISSUES on HLN.