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Woman Goes Missing while Hiking; Murder Suspect in Teen Jogger Case Appears in Court; Casey Anthony`s Defense Tries to Get Evidence Thrown Out

Aired March 9, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, a cold blooded connection in the war on women. John Gardner III faces a judge again. This monster is accused of killing Chelsea King. Now he`s at the center of Amber Dubois` gruesome murder. Two teenage girls killed just miles apart, two families completely destroyed. Now battles are already erupting in the courtroom. We`ll go inside the case with a private investigate for Amber`s family.

And here we go again. A superstar athlete accused of sexually assaulting a young woman. This time NFL quarterback Ben Roethlisberger accused of sexually assaulting a college student inside the bathroom of a Georgia nightclub. This guy has won two Super Bowls, but tonight cops are going after big Ben`s DNA. What happened that night? We`ll go inside the investigation.

Plus, the pornography of violence taken to a whole new level. Meredith Emerson was viciously raped, murdered, decapitated while hiking with her dog. Now in a grotesque twist, "Hustler" magazine wants pictures of her mutilated body to post in their magazine. If you ask me, this is beyond sick, disgusting, vile. But could "Hustler" actually win?

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Those stories in just a moment, but first, we`ve got breaking news in the war on women. A beautiful 24-year-old woman -- it`s happened again, people -- has vanished in Washington state.

Katherine Huether told friends she was going for a short hike Thursday afternoon. She has not been seen since. Rescue workers found a receipt from Katharine`s credit card, but it was discovered two hours away from where she started her hike. Friends say she wasn`t planning on going that far. Her dad also said she normally would not go hiking without her dog.

And tonight, new disturbing details. Just three hours before Katherine started her hike, a woman had called cops to report a man exposing himself on the trails.

Now, there is a news conference going on. It just finished second ago. We can show you a live picture very briefly of the news conference. Searchers mobilizing to try to find this young woman.

Let`s bring in criminal profiler Pat Brown.

Pat, I am so disturbed by this. Perhaps most disturbed by reading that a sheriff`s spokesman said that, at this point, they still don`t believe foul play was involved. Hello? There`s a guy who was exposing himself.

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Well, I agree, Jane. That`s kind of scary. I mean, we can hope she just wandered off the trail or she fell or she`s just waiting for help. But when you have somebody out there like that, you know you have a sex predator of some sort. And the question is, did she just run into him and something has happened to her and -- yes, they should be -- obviously, they should be investigating that. That should be their No. 1 focus.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this is a theme. And we`re going to get to this in a moment. With the Amber Dubois case, it turned out that, for three weeks, according to Amber`s mom, authorities didn`t investigate it, didn`t send out searchers because they thought, well, maybe it`s a runaway. A 14-year-old girl who was the most clean-cut girl was not a runaway. Now she`s dead.

I mean, time is of the essence with these cases. Why aren`t they treating this like the foul play that you and I, covering these stories over and over again, fear that it obviously is?

BROWN: Well, I think the problem, Jane, comes in that they get so many of these cases that are runaways, they start ignoring the ones that probably are not.

But what they should be looking at is, if there is pretty darn good evidence that that person is not that kind. This -- you know, you`re talking about Amber Dubois. She was -- there was nothing in her past. And she was looking forward to that day and her little lamb that she was going to get. And she was so excited. She`s not just going to disappear.

They should listen when there`s absolutely no reason for the child to disappear. And they should go focus right on what could have happened to her and get that predator before something, you know, ends up happening.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are going to stay on top of the story of another missing woman, this one out of Portland, Oregon. When is it going to end? An update on other cases in the war against women in 60 seconds.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: More fast-breaking developments as the outrage mounts in the murders of Amber Dubois and Chelsea King. Convicted sex offender John Gardner`s case is now delayed for months. So much for a speedy trial. And the list of potential victims, growing and growing.

John Gardner III showed up in court today with that very same jumpsuit, with that same smug look on his face, only allowed to speak from behind a glass wall. That`s how angry people are. He needs to be protected behind a glass wall.

He`s already pleaded "not guilty" to rape and murder in connection with Chelsea`s death. He now remains the focus of the investigation into 14-year-old Amber`s death, but he has not been charged. Her remains were found last weekend.

Today, the judge asked Gardner if he understands his rights to a speedy trial. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has Mr. Gardner been advised of those rights?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has, your honor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Gardner, do you understand those rights?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you agree to waive time for your preliminary examination?



VELEZ-MITCHELL: There is outrage, because Gardner served only five years for molesting and pummeling a 13-year-old girl back in 2000.

Here on ISSUES we`re determined to find freedom from fear and plug those loopholes that let predators like this one roam free. It`s what I call junk justice.

What is your solution? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Joining Pat Brown tonight, my fantastic panel: attorney Darren Kavinoky. There`s Pat Brown, there`s Darren. And two moms who know this hideous pain all too well. Melissa Baum joins us on the phone. She is the mother of Lindsey Baum. Lindsey disappeared in Washington state last June and is still missing. There is beautiful little Miss Lindsey.

And we`re also delighted to have Erin Runnion. Erin Runnion, who is a friend of our show, whose 5-year-old daughter, Samantha, was abducted and murdered in 2002.

Also, private investigator Lawrence Olmstead, who`s been hired by Amber`s grandmother.

We begin with ex-E! TV reporter Lynn Stewart.

Lynn, what is the very latest? I understand you have some new information in the form of Gardner`s probation report from 2000?

LYNN STEWART, FORMER E! TV REPORTER: Absolutely. And according to criminal defense attorneys, there`s some real flags in that report. They were saying that they relied very heavily on the psychiatrist report at that time, but still the probation officer, who was a senior probation officer, only recommended that Gardner be given six years behind bars.

And they said there`s some significant red flags. I want to read to you from a quote directly from that report. It says that "There`s significant predatory traits and it`s a danger to the community," referring, of course, to Gardner, yet Gardner was still only recommended to have six years behind bars.

Also in this report, it points out that Gardner is not even a candidate for treatment, according to the psychiatrist in this case, because he said he never, ever would take responsibility. He stayed to the very end he was innocent. And the psychiatrist said you can`t get anyone some help until they actually admit to the crime that they`ve committed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And -- and the defense didn`t want this to be released, right? They`ve been fighting the release of this incriminating information.

STEWART: Initially they said they don`t want this out there. They said it was going to only add lots of fuel to the fire. You know, there`s a lot of...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what the truth does.


STEWART: And so they said they didn`t want it out but they relented and let it out today. And you can see from this the real reason they didn`t want to let it out. They said that Gardner is a smart person. He had an I.Q. Of 113. He was a high school graduate, a 3.2.

But it also pointed out that there were priors in this case. Before he was actually convicted of sexually assaulting that 13-year-old, he was also convicted of trespassing at a high school and raised questions: why is this guy at a high school, even before this?


My big issue tonight: advantage defense? This family has been through hell, the Chelsea King family. And the judge said they wanted input from Chelsea`s family on when to hold this monster`s preliminary hearing, but then he ignored their wishes.

Listen to this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We don`t have it, but let me just say what happened. The family said, "We want the preliminary hearing to be held in July." So what does the judge do? He sets it for August.

Darren, why on earth do they need till August to hold a preliminary hearing?

DARREN KAVINOKY, ATTORNEY: Well, keep in mind that it`s the defendant`s right to have a speedy trial. It`s not a right that belongs to society in general, although there is an interest in moving these cases forward.

Why it is that they need until August, that`s something that really would be contained in the discovery materials. And the defense, of course, would be -- would be allowing a real miscarriage of justice if they didn`t do everything that they needed to do to prepare.

Generally speaking, in these kinds of very complex cases, it`s the defense attorneys who want all the time they need to go over details.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Yes, of course they do.

KAVINOKY: Sure, well, because they`re charged with safeguarding the Constitution here, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I know. So is the guy from "Hustler" who wants some photos of a decapitated woman.

Amber`s grandmother hired a private eye to find answers about Amber`s abduction. Amber`s mom complained to us that authorities didn`t even start searching until weeks after her daughter disappeared. We were just talking about this in connection with the other hiker. Listen to this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: When your daughter disappeared, I understand that they didn`t even declare it to be a missing person right away? Didn`t issue all the alerts that they could because they said there was no evidence of foul play?

CARRIE MCGONIGLE, AMBER`S MOTHER: Yes, there was no evidence of foul play. We didn`t have search and rescue come out for three weeks.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lawrence Olmstead, you`re the investigator hired by Amber`s grandmother. Are you saying police dropped the ball?

LAWRENCE OLMSTEAD, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: You know what? It`s hard to say that they dropped the ball. Initial -- when they came on the scene basically, they reported -- or Amber was reported to them, no, Amber was not a runaway. That`s the point I`m trying to make. But they -- they somehow started investigating this as she was a runaway. There`s something called a...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Please, please, can I say something? All you have to do is take one look at this girl and you know she`s not a runaway.

OLMSTEAD: There`s no way she`s a runaway.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She`s got no piercings. She`s got no tattoos. She`s -- she doesn`t have a shaved head. She`s a little girl who sat around and who loved animals. I mean, common sense.

All right, everybody stay right where you are. More on these horrifying murders and the ongoing war on women. We`re taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Plus, a young woman brutally murdered, decapitated, raped. Why in the hell does "Hustler" magazine want pictures of her dead body?

But first, two beautiful teen girls killed in cold blood tonight. What is being done to keep women safe, children safe? It is time to stand up and demand change.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This heartbreaking tragedy leaves a lot of unanswered questions about our criminal justice system and how it deals with sexually-violent predators. It is unacceptable to allow a failed system to fail our children.




MAURICE DUBOIS, AMBER`S FATHER: First of all, we`d like to thank everybody involved in the search for Amber. The entire community, everybody who helped out in our search efforts and, above all, our huge volunteer corps. They were the most dedicated people you can ever imagine. Without them, we couldn`t have done anything.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Amber Dubois`s father gets the news he dreaded most, that his daughter`s remains were found on Saturday. He was at the courthouse today for John Gardner`s hearing in the Chelsea King case.

Erin Runnion, he obviously, along with authorities, have now declared this man as the focus of the death of Amber Dubois.

You know, every time one of these horror stories happen -- and when I was a local news reporter, I covered the horrific death of your daughter, and it really struck me so deeply. But we always think, well, things are going to change. That`s just too much. Things have to change.

And yet, here we are, years after your daughter`s tragic death, and we`re talking about a similar situation. Is it ever going to change?

ERIN RUNNION, MOTHER OF SAMANTHA: I sure hope so. You know, there`s no easy answer, but we`ve got to keep pushing for it. We`ve got to stop looking at sexual predators as like every other common criminal. They`re not.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What are these families going through? You lost your beautiful 5-year-old daughter, Samantha. It`s -- it`s -- there`s the shock and then after that, the shock wears off. Where are they now?

RUNNION: You know, I can`t say in Amber`s family`s case. I think that both families have been unbelievably strong, just unbelievably strong, to be in that courtroom so soon after hearing that news. I -- my heart just bled for them. But...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And when you go out there and you confront the person who is accused of violating and attacking your own flesh and blood, what is it like to see that person with your own eyes?

RUNNION: It just makes you sick. It -- there -- I remember for about a year during that trial, I would wake up and just -- my hands would be clenched, my jaw would be clenched. And I would be going over in my head everything I wanted to say and do to him until it woke me up, because it would get so bad. But...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The sad part is you can`t say anything until, like, the time where there`s a victim`s impact statement at the very end.

RUNNION: Exactly. Exactly. They are, I think, right now, just focusing on how they can best honor their daughters and seek justice for them and not let anything else get in the way of justice.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now we`re going to talk to another mother who`s been through hell.

Melissa Baum`s 10-year-old daughter Lindsey disappeared last June. She`s convinced her daughter is alive. Lindsey vanished walking home from a friend`s house in Washington state. It was only a ten-minute walk -- look at that beautiful child -- through a busy neighborhood.

Recently here on ISSUES, Amber`s mom said she believed her daughter had been swept into a sex trafficking ring and was still alive. Sadly, as we all know now, Amber`s body was found days later.

Melissa Baum, it is a very sad commentary on our society when mothers, their only hope is to hope that their daughters are being held by a sex- trafficking ring. Has it really come to that in America today, Melissa?

MELISSA BAUM, MOTHER OF LINDSEY (via phone): It appears to be the case. You don`t know what else to think. I mean, obviously, we -- we pray that the outcome is not what Mo and Carrie and Chelsea`s families are going through.

I do believe -- I do believe that my daughter is still alive. And law enforcement is very active and working very hard right now, and they`re making some good progress. So at this point, I`m still going with the "no news is good news." I truly believe that my daughter is still alive.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And look at her with that shirt. It says, "Mommy`s - - Mommy`s Little Girl."

BAUM: Mommy`s little troublemaker.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What a beautiful child. We are going to keep your case alive, Melissa. We`re going to keep your daughter`s face out there. We`re not going to let this go. It`s just horrific.

Gina, Nevada, your question or thought?

CALLER: Yes. First, it`s just an honor to speak to you. My heart goes out to the victims of all these low-lives.

Anyway, I was just thinking, you know, if some of these really high- profile lawyers would have a little compassion for victims and refuse to take some of these cases, I mean, they are -- everybody deserves the right to an attorney, but, you know, let them get something like the rest of us can afford. Instead of...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this guy has a public defender, I believe, right, Lynn?

STEWART: That`s correct. He has two public defenders on his case right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Two public defenders, which would probably indicate the possibility of the death penalty, which they haven`t decided on.

Darren Kavinoky, let me ask you this. What do you say to the caller who says, how can you defend those people?

KAVINOKY: Yes. It`s a fair and frequently asked question. And really, criminal defense lawyers don`t get into that line of work because of an overwhelming love of criminals. It`s about protecting the system and the integrity of the system.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Got it. I`ve got to go to Lawrence Olmstead, private investigator.

Do you think that law enforcement mishandled the investigation into Amber`s death? Didn`t you say that they -- that you pointed out the area where she was later found a long time ago?

OLMSTEAD: Well, let`s start with some basics. First, she was reported as a runaway. That`s how the police considered her initially.

There`s something called a CARD team the FBI runs. It`s part of the FBI. It`s basically a team that comes out. It`s a Child Abduction Rapid Deployment team. And they`ve got 48 agents throughout the country that are assigned for just this type of matter. When a child goes missing, they`re supposed to be reported to the FBI, put in the NCIS system. And this CARD team is supposed to act on it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did they not do that? I guess not.

OLMSTEAD: You know what? I guess not.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Casey Anthony, up next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Casey Anthony, the party girl, steals the spotlight. Casey`s defense team has asked the judge in her murder trial to throw out all of the pictures of Casey partying. They say the images serve to, quote, "vilify her" to the public.

According to cops, these blue-dress snapshots were taken less than a week after little Caylee was last seen alive in June. All right. Her daughter disappeared. She`s out partying. Casey`s charged with murdering little Caylee and could face the death penalty. So the stakes are very high, but is it too late to unring that bell?

Casey`s defense also wants this chilling 911 call tossed.


CINDY ANTHONY, MOTHER OF CASEY: I found out my granddaughter has been taken. She has been missing for a month, and her mother finally admitted that she`s been missing. Get someone here now!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your daughter admitted that your -- the baby is where?

ANTHONY: The baby-sitter took her a month ago, that my daughter`s been looking for her. There`s something wrong. I found my daughter`s car today, and it smells like there`s been a dead body in the damn car.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Darren Kavinoky, attorney and legal analyst for "The Insider." It`s gotten to the point where anything that`s incriminating to the defendant is somehow violating their right to a fair trial.

KAVINOKY: Well, that`s certainly what the defense is going to argue, no surprise about that.

It`s very interesting. When we`re talking about the photographs, the key question is going to be the timing of them. Obviously, that`s the issue that`s been framed. If these photos were taken prior to any alleged wrongdoing, then the question would be, well, what relevance do they have to the events on the night in question? If they`re taken afterwards...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They are taken afterwards. The daughter has disappeared, and she is out at a nightclub dirty dancing.

KAVINOKY: Right. Right. And I suspect that what this is ultimately going to -- what`s ultimately going to happen here, the way this will play out, is that those photos will likely come in, as much as the defense would like to keep them out, that they will likely come in. Because it certainly shows conduct that is inconsistent with the position of a supposedly grieving, worried mother.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You can always find what the prosecution`s best evidence is by looking at the defense motions to exclude said evidence.

In a late motion, Casey`s defense team decided, "Oh, no. We want all the party pics thrown out, even the ones taken during a wild Halloween party in 2006."

She got these compromising positions. So I mean, while you`re talking, Darren, this is pretty wild stuff. It`s sort of like a little, again, dirty dancing.

Yes, go ahead.

KAVINOKY: I get it. But Jane, here`s-- here`s the problem, is you don`t want people to be convicted for engaging in conduct that`s unbecoming to -- to a mother, as opposed to being convicted for actually committing the crime. And that`s ultimately what happens.

Or you`ve got the very real potential for that to happen where you`ve got cases where -- or where you`ve got these photos that enflame the passions of people that have very -- may have very little relevance to what actually happened on the day or night in question.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I actually agree with the photos before her child is missing. But after her child is missing and she is claiming that she`s doing her own investigation for the child, and she`s caught in these hot positions at a nightclub on the dance floor? That is really -- that goes to her character. That goes to possible motive.

KAVINOKY: Well, it`s -- it`s probably going to get admitted in a different way, relating to her state of mind, or perhaps for impeachment. If she says she`s out doing one thing but photos depict that she`s actually doing another thing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it there.

Next, Ben Roethlisberger, accused of sexual assault by a co-ed. Big story, next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A superstar athlete accused of sexually assaulting a young woman. This time NFL quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger is accused of sexually assaulting a college student inside the bathroom of a Georgia nightclub. What happened that night? We`ll go inside the investigation.

And the pornography of violence, taken to a whole new level: Meredith Emerson, viciously raped, murdered and decapitated while hiking with her dog. Now in a grotesque twist, "Hustler" magazine wants pictures of her mutilated body to post in their magazine.

If you ask me, this is beyond sick, disgusting, vile. But could "Hustler" win?

Tonight, scandal swirls as a college coed accuses an NFL superstar of sexually assaulting her. A 20-year-old student of Georgia College and State University claims Ben Roethlisberger, the celebrity quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers assaulted her in the bathroom of a nightclub last Friday. There are reports the two were together most of the night, including stops at two other bars.

At a news conference, cops refused to divulge very much at all, but that only brought up more questions. Listen to this.


TOM DAVIS, SPECIAL AGENT, GEORGIA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: There has been contact between our departments and the accuser. I`m not going to go into what her credibility is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did she submit to a blood alcohol test herself?

DAVIS: I`m not sure.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Today, cops asked the two-time Superbowl champ, a.k.a., Big Ben for a DNA sample, but they have not -- not charged him with anything. Roethlisberger`s attorney says his client is, quote, "completely innocent of any crime". Now ISSUES reached out to that player`s lawyer for comment. We did not hear back.

Meantime, this isn`t the first time Big Ben has been accused of sexual mischief. There`s still a civil suit pending against him from 2008 when a woman says he raped her in a Lake Tahoe hotel room. He denies that as well.

So is Big Ben a hulking 240-pound sexual predator? Or is a hulking 240-pound target for women seeking to take advantage of his fame? What do you think? Call me, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to my fantastic panel. Joining our panel Lisa Guerrero, special correspondent for "Inside Edition", who has a lot of inside information. Lisa spent countless hours on the sidelines interviewing superstar athletes over the years including Ben.

But first, Mike Walters, managing editor for TMZ; Mike, what is the very latest?

MIKE WALTERS, MANAGING EDITOR, TMZ: Well, the latest, Jane, is that the cops are poring over this bathroom where the alleged incident took place, looking for hard evidence of what happened. Also, one of the big issues that I was told going on is that she is a minor, as in under 21 and cannot drink at some of the establishments she was in. So they want to know was she drinking or being served alcohol at the establishments.

Also they`re collecting videotape from multiple locations to see if, at all, they can see any interaction between the accuser and Ben Roethlisberger.

So at this point they`re going through all these thing, having a really thorough investigation. We`re also told that they`re trying to interview at least eight more people.

So it looks like they`re taking their time, again, like you said, they`re also trying to pull DNA from Ben, and that`s pretty much it. So the alcohol, definitely a factor.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, speaking of DNA -- yes. What do we know about what happened last Friday night?

The alleged victim said she was assaulted in the bathroom of the Capital City Club, that`s about 100 miles outside Atlanta. Right after, she reportedly told a cop, right outside the club and was immediately taken to a hospital for an exam.

Roethlisberger was reportedly interviewed by cops at the nightclub. He wasn`t charged and he was allowed to leave the state.

Now police say they`re going to examine video surveillance from this club and as you just heard from Mike Walters from TMZ, interviewed as many as eight witnesses and they`ve also asked for Roethlisberger`s DNA.

But Darren Kavinoky, so what? Even if they find DNA, I mean, isn`t this a he said-she said because he could say, "Well, I did have sex with her, but it was consensual."

DARREN KAVINOKY, LEGAL ANALYST, "THE INSIDER": Sure, and the fact that -- if they get a DNA match, at least they have some objective evidence. As I`m hearing you describe the story, obviously there have to be some concerns about her, about her credibility, or he would have been arrested on the spot and not free to go anywhere.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I don`t know about that. I`ll tell you why. This is the second time Big Ben has been accused of sexual mischief.

Andrea McNulty (ph), seen here on in a moment, claims he raped her in a Lake Tahoe hotel room in 2008. She filed a civil suit, which is still pending.

Roethlisberger denied that accusation, but Lisa Guerrero, you apparently were there at this Tahoe hotel when this incident took place. You know Ben. Give us some insight into all of this.

LISA GUERRERO, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": Great. Over the years, Jane, I have interviewed Ben. I have seen him out socially and, in fact, he was at an event, a golf event during this weekend that this allegedly took place with my husband and I. We actually saw him earlier the same evening.

He seemed perfectly normal and polite as always, but I will tell you this -- there were a lot of women there that -- to call them groupies or gold diggers would be a compliment. There were a lot of women there that frankly stalk these kinds of athletes at these events. I`m not saying that anything, you know, did or didn`t happen, but I will tell you that these guys are targets of a certain kind of woman and a lot of those women were there in Lake Tahoe in 2008 when this incident occurred.

I do think that we can certainly try and convict Ben Roethlisberger of being stupid because after 2008, the last place he should be is in a bathroom in a college nightclub with a young lady. But he doesn`t just represent himself, of course, he represents the city of Pittsburgh and he should know better.


KAVINOKY: And this is what -- forgive me for --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait a second, hold on. I want to go back to Mike Walters. Listen, one incident, ok, all right? But two incidents back to back, there`s certain commonalities here. Does that tend to implicate him or make him seem like he`s a target over and over again.

WALTERS: Look, I don`t think that the new incident and the police looking into this are looking back, but I do think that the person who still has the active civil case against him, Andrea McNulty, is looking forward. She`s saying, "I told you he was like this. I told you that this was going on."

And now I know, I can tell you for sure that her lawyers are looking into this and going -- they`re watching exactly what happens. But I think to be fair to Ben, you have to say look, they declined to file criminal charges against him before. So he is not being criminally charged with that.

But you definitely have to say -- I agree with the stupid thing. It`s like -- you shouldn`t have been there anyway, bottom line.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lisa, last 20 seconds. Is he -- do you think he`s devastated by this? Or is he the tough guy that he appears on camera?

GUERRERO: I`m sure he`s embarrassed by this as well he should be. And this is also embarrassing to the team that he works for and that he represents. So I think, you know, this is a horrible situation, but before we convict and try this guy of being a criminal, let`s wait and see what happens with the actual facts.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Thank you so much fantastic panel. We`ll stay on top of this one.

The man who tried blackmailing late-night legend, David Letterman in court today; he`s going to jail. We`ll have the very latest.

Plus, another battle in the war on women: why would "Hustler" magazine possibly want crime scene photos of a bloody, decapitated young lady who was a victim of a horrific crime? We want your thoughts on this. This is an outrage. 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. Demented and depraved.


DAVID EMERSON, MEREDITH EMERSON`S FATHER: No punishment is too severe for Mr. Hilton. I only pray that he suffers immensely for his heinous acts and that even his fellow inmates recognize his evil and malevolence for mankind and treat him with appropriate measures.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: Meredith Emerson, brutally raped, murdered and decapitated. Why in the hell does a hardcore porn magazine want pictures of her mutilated body? That is next.

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

The David Letterman saga officially over -- well, at least in the eyes of the court. Robert Halderman the man who tried to blackmail the late show legend pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny. Today, Halderman had threatened to expose Letterman`s sexual affairs if he didn`t cough up $2 million.

Well, Letterman did not whip out his wallet. Instead, as we all know he came clean to his live audience back in October. David confessed, yes, I`ve had sex with staff members. He admitted being blackmailed by a CBS producer. Today, it was that producer`s turn to come clean.


ROBERT HALDERMAN, ACCUSED OF BLACKMAILING DAVID LETTERMAN: Again, I apologize to Mr. Letterman, his family, to Stephanie Birkitt, her family and certainly to my friends and family. I will not be doing any interviews and I thank you all for your patience.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Halderman is going to jail for six months, plus five years probation and 1,000 hours of community service. Way to go, dude.

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

Meanwhile, we`re going to turn to -- there are no words really. This is a stomach-turning, vile, disgusting request from the hard core porn magazine "Hustler". They want the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to send them crime scene photos showing a young woman`s battered, naked, decapitated body for a so-called news story they`re planning to write.

You remember this heart breaking case. Beautiful, 24-year-old Meredith Emerson; she went for a New Year`s Day hike with her dog in the north Georgia Mountains. Three days later, her killer led police to her body.

An autopsy showed Meredith died from blunt force trauma to the head and was decapitated after she died.

Now "Hustler" wants those photos. Why? So sickos can look at her dead body? Can you even imagine the horror and pain this is bringing to her family? Listen to how distraught they were after their killer`s -- their daughter`s killer was sentenced to life in prison.


EMERSON: Our days are filled with tears, blank stares and we constantly struggle through each day. Meredith was the shining light in our lives. And now we are left with a hole in our hearts that will not heal.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Shame on "Hustler" for putting these people through even more pain. This is all part of the war on women. Why should a porn magazine be allowed to desensitize and glamorize the brutal murder of innocent women? Look at "Hustler" magazine; does it look like they do crime stories?

And even if they did, what purpose would showing -- what purpose would there be of showing these horrifying photos. Georgia officials have instructed the Georgia Bureau of Investigation not -- not to hand these photos over. They`re trying to fast track a bill that would prevent crime scene photos from becoming public.

Unfortunately, they`re doing a disservice to the first amendment. Now they`re ruining it for everybody and all legitimate requests. Shame on "Hustler".

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel. Joining me by phone, Georgia State Representative, Jill Chambers, she`s working on that bill; also joining me Lesli and Christos Catsouras, who fought a similar battle after their daughter died in a horrific car crash.

Meredith`s friend and former roommate Julia Karrenbauer joins us. And she has an attorney hired to represent Meredith Emerson`s family as well.

Julia, I can`t find the words to express my outrage over this effort by "Hustler" to get these photos. How would you express your outrage?

JULIA KARRENBAUER, MEREDITH EMERSON`S FRIEND: I think you`re right, Jane. There really are no words to describe this outrage and it`s absolutely senseless. And no matter who it came from, it`s an inappropriate request to torment, not only her family but her friends and just really the general public.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And do you agree that this is part of the war on women? In other words, this is part of a greater moral degeneracy where we glamorize violence by showing sadistic murders in movies and television. And it`s all stylized. And then, we see it in real life and we`re horrified. And this is sort of the penultimate example of turning women into prey essentially.

KARRENBAUER: Absolutely. And nobody has any right to hurt women or to prey on women. You know, most of the time, these people never even knew their abductors or their killers. And to already go through that once and for anybody to bring up the fact that, you know, that this is done at a request, such vile images that are absolutely inappropriate, is there`s really just no words and the pain and the agony to put us through is absolutely senseless.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I just have to tell you that we`ve covered so many gruesome stories here and this is one of the worst. And it haunted me for a long, long time, Julia.

And please pass on to Meredith`s parents that our hearts, all the staff here go out to them. It made us all just devastated and sick.

Also joining us tonight, Lesli and Christos Catsouras, their daughter Nikki was tragically killed in a car accident. It was such a bad accident the coroner didn`t even let her parents identify the body, then, the unthinkable.

Nine close up photos of their daughter nearly decapitated began popping up all over the Internet.

Nikki`s parents went through hell and back trying to stop the photo from spreading. They join us tonight. I cannot imagine what you have been through. Thanks for joining us.

Can you give us some insight into what Meredith Emerson`s parents must be going through right now?

CHRISTOS CATSOURAS, DAUGHTER`S PHOTO WAS LEAKED AFTER CAR CRASH: Well, first and foremost, our hearts go out to their family as well in their difficult time right now. You know, I think that firstly that the bureau is doing the right thing by fighting this and trying to put laws into place in stopping this and not allowing it.

But it`s -- it`s one of those things that it`s just absurd. It should not happen. It shouldn`t even be a thought. And unfortunately, what happens is it doesn`t allow -- really, it doesn`t allow a family to grieve, because they are so -- there`s so many distractions and so much going on with everything -- each and every day.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, it`s kind of like defiling the situation all over again.

Now you won`t believe this, we reached out to "Hustler" for a statement. They are angry that they can`t get their hands on these photos of Meredith they say, quote, "Hustler is aware of the GBI`s refuse to honor its reporter`s requests for copies of the Emerson crime scene photos, which were to be used in a news story about this crime."

"Hustler" and Mr. Larry Flynt disagree with the GBI`s decision and they are currently exploring all legal options available to them should the decision be made to go forward with this story.

Now, Jill Chambers, you`re a state representative from Georgia, are you on the line ma`am?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you want to do to stop these photos from being released?

CHAMBERS: Well, I work in legislation dealing with open records laws and some public safety laws. So this works for both of the statutes that I enjoy working with. What we are going to do is make it illegal in Georgia to disseminate and publish the types of photos that are graphically depicting the genitals of crime victims.


CHAMBERS: If there`s a mutilation or a dismemberment, these pictures will also be under the same category.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, listen, I have to say, as a journalist, I have worked with many crime scene photos. And there are legitimate reasons for legitimate photos, but I agree with you. See, I thought you were going to say like no crime scene photos at all and I would have had to disagree with that because there are legitimate purposes for crime photos.

CHAMBERS: Yes, ma`am, there is. And one thing I want to tell you Jane --


CHAMBERS: -- is, if you as a credentialed journalist had a serious intent to see these, you could probably apply to the GBI and be able to view photographs, but taking copies to be able to publish them in a for-profit magazine with a reputation such as "Hustler" that is totally inappropriate.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, it`s so sick because -- let`s be real -- what they`re essentially doing is trying to use these sickos who get off on sexually-charged violence. That`s the bottom line. People don`t read "Hustler" to study crime. They read it to get off.

Everybody stay right where you are. We`re just starting on this "Hustler" horror. More after the break.



GARY HILTON, MURDERED MEREDITH EMERSON: As to what extent she was injured, her two eyes were somewhat blackened. She may or may not have a fractured nose. I checked with her a number of times. She was not in any pain other than afterwards she was not in any pain other than a headache. I offered her and gave her aspirin.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can you imagine Meredith Emerson`s parents having to listen to that sociopathic drifter, sicko, confess to killing their beautiful daughter?

And now "Hustler" magazine is adding to their pain by trying to get their hands on photos of Meredith`s body. It is depraved.

We are delighted to have on the phone with us a lawyer for Meredith`s family, Lindsay Haigh. Lindsay, how is this impacting Meredith`s parents emotionally?

LINDSAY HAIGH, ATTORNEY FOR MEREDITH EMERSON`S FAMILY (via telephone): Well, they are forced to again relive the horrors and potentially live with the idea that these pictures would be displayed in any way or possibly published for the world to see allowing the horrors of their daughter to be revisited again and again.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s beyond the pale.

Here`s my big issue tonight: the pornography of violence. We have created a hunter/prey mentality between men and women in this country. This is just the ultimate example.

Glamorizing violence subsidizes violence against women. That`s why I urge people don`t go to see violent movies. Don`t go to see these slasher movies. Don`t go to see these extremely violent crime shows on television either because it is part of the problem, ok.

And "Hustler" takes it to the extreme. It makes the brutal rape and murder of an innocent woman somehow entertainment? Ok. We have a sick society. We are addicted to violence, ok? So this is the problem.

This is a porn magazine that people get to essentially get sexually aroused. How dare they? How dare they further, further traumatize the family of this beautiful young woman by seeking these photos?

Christos Catsouras, I have to ask, how angry are you given that your daughter died in a terrible car crash and you experienced this very similar issue. I hate to say it but as part of my research I went on the Internet and found those photos of your daughter and I was very upset to have found them.

Catsouras: Well, I`m extremely angry. It`s been a challenge every day to really maintain your anger and frustration and in our case here in California there was no law at the time. We finally established case law but we were faced with something that there was no laws in place. We were fighting the biggest battle of our lives and really were challenged with the Internet and the state of California.

So it was a huge, huge battle and just the thought that somebody would send -- quick send -- those pictures out to share with their friends and family --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s beyond comprehension.

CATSOURAS: I cannot even tell you what it does.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s sick. Janet, Virginia, your question or thought, quickly ma`am; we only have a few seconds.

JANET, VIRGINIA (via telephone): I just have a comment. I feel that we -- I know there are people that are probably thinking it`s my right to view these photos but I just want to remind people that we also have a responsibility to one another not to look at these kinds of things.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. They are giving the first amendment a bad name. Thank you.