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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Misty`s Grandmother Sheds Light on Haleigh`s Disappearance

Aired April 21, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, fast-breaking developments in the desperate search for beautiful little Haleigh Cummings. Tonight, Misty Croslin`s grandmother is back to talk one-on-one with me. Grandma Flo claims Ron, Misty, Tommy and Cousin Joe are all involved in a conspiracy surrounding Haleigh`s death. What happened to little Haleigh on the banks of that river?

And shocking new claims in the Casey Anthony case. A new prison inmate has NOW come forward. She claims Casey described in graphic detail how she used chloroform to knock out little Caylee so she could go party. This jailhouse informant is a convicted murderer herself, so is any of this actually true?

Plus, a very special guest here on ISSUES. I`ll be sitting down with Mr. 007 himself, Pierce Brosnan. He`ll talk about the fight to save the whales. He is up in arms over a controversial move by the U.S. government that critics say could allow more whale hunting. Tonight, what you can do to stop it.

ISSUES starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jaw-dropping new developments tonight in the Haleigh Cummings murder mystery. The 5-year-old vanished more than a year ago. Tonight, are investigators on the brink of nailing Haleigh`s killer? Does Misty Croslin, the very last person to see this little girl alive, know who killed her and how they did it?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MISTY CROSLIN, RON CUMMINGS` EX-WIFE: They`re not going to put me away for something I didn`t do. And I didn`t have anything to do with Haleigh. And if I knew who did, I would tell. I`ve told them everything that I can tell them. So they need to leave me alone about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Really? Hmm. Misty`s own grandmother, Flora Hollars, is back with us tonight live. Flo says Misty knows what happened to Haleigh.

Last night, right here on ISSUES, Flora dropped a huge bombshell. She says she thinks all three of her grandkids -- Misty, her brother Tommy and their cousin, Joe Overstreet -- were involved in Haleigh`s murder.

Investigators did take Misty to the search site to question her. Flo says Misty, who`s behind bars on drug charges, told her Tommy and Cousin Joe tied Haleigh to a brick of cement and then tossed the child into the St. John`s River.

Last night, Flo told us even before Haleigh went missing Cousin Joe spoke to Tommy about dumping a body in that very river.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FLORA HOLLARS, MISTY`S GRANDMOTHER: Tied Haleigh up with a yellow rope and tied a brick or block to the rope and dropped her into the St. John`s River.

She was crying and I told her, I said, "Baby, don`t cry. This is something you should have said a long time ago."

She says, "But, nanny, I was scared."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Plus, divers discover bones in the muddy water. It was reported that they could belong to little Haleigh. Investigators even told Haleigh`s dad, Ronald, to plan a funeral.

Well, tonight, breaking news on that front. Those bones have been analyzed and have been identified as animal remains. There is still no body in this case.

And we are taking your calls tonight with Grandma Flo: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel, all experts in this case, but first, my very special guest and the prime expert in this case, Flora Hollars, Misty Croslin`s own grandmother.

Flora, let me say again for the record I applaud you for immediately reporting this tip to police, even though your own family is at stake in all of this.

HOLLARS: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Great to have you here.

Last night you said you believe Misty, Tommy, Joe and Haleigh`s father, Ronald Cummings, were all involved in a conspiracy to cover up Haleigh`s murder. Flo, we did some research. We found that cops have cleared Ronald Cummings, Haleigh`s dad. So why do you think he knows something more?

HOLLARS: Well, really what it boiled down to is the fact that him and her had been arguing all day where she`d been out on that drug spree. And then he made her keep those babies -- those two babies that night. And there`s -- it takes him 50 minutes to get from home and work, back and forth. And what did he do in that ten minutes?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. So you`re saying that there`s a time discrepancy?

HOLLARS: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But he went to work.

HOLLARS: Uh-huh.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: My understanding was he was -- he`s working the night shift, he`s informed at work that little Haleigh is missing by Misty. He rushes back, can`t find her and then called police. He calls police. Where is the time discrepancy there?

HOLLARS: The -- getting to work is 25 minutes, getting back from -- getting home from work is 25 minutes. That -- that makes 50 minutes. There`s ten minutes to spare there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, I want to stress again that law enforcement has said that Ron Cummings is not a suspect. They have investigated. They`ve cleared him. They`ve said they`ve checked his phone records, they`ve checked everything, and they really believe he has absolutely nothing to do with this.

We`ve also reached out to attorneys for all -- Tommy, Joe, Misty and Ron -- and we have not heard back today.

But I want to ask you about this, Flo. After Ron leaves for work, somehow we have now Misty who`s in the trailer, she said she just went to sleep with the two kids and woke up -- initially she said this -- and they were missing. But it emerged that perhaps she had been visited by Tommy and Joe.

So set the stage for us. What was going on inside that trailer, do you believe? Do you believe all three were there, and were they partying?

HOLLARS: I know they were al three there, because Joe and Tommy was looking for the machine gun that Ronald had.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And what were they doing? Were they partying? Were they drugging, do you think?

HOLLARS: They didn`t say that, but I`m pretty such if they had any they were.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why do...

HOLLARS: Yes, ma`am.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why do these three grandchildren have troubles? Why are they so troubled? Now, two of the three are behind bars. Joe is clear at this point. Investigators have not charged him with anything. But why do you think Misty and Tommy have such a troubled history and now they`re behind bars on drug conspiracy charges?

Did they have trouble as kids? Did any of these three of your grandchildren that we`re looking at now have violent streaks when they were kids growing up?

HOLLARS: Not that I know of. But they never really had parents that stayed straight enough to take care of them anyways.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you mean?

HOLLARS: Tommy and Misty, their mom and dad were crackheads. And they stayed messed up on crack all the time. What time I didn`t have them, their grandmother in Michigan had them. Well, I had Misty. She had the other two.

I went to Colorado three summers in a row and only caught the kids home one time. They were in Michigan.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Only what one time?

HOLLARS: Only one time out of the three years that I went up there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Only one time what? I didn`t get you.

HOLLARS: When I went to Colorado to visit, I went there three times. The first time that I went, they wasn`t there. The second -- the second time they were there. The third time they wasn`t there. They were in Michigan.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you`re -- is this the parents of Misty?

HOLLARS: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So what -- how old was Misty and who was taking care of her?

HOLLARS: Her grandmother in -- June Croslin in Michigan.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you`re saying that Misty and Tommy, they`re brother and sister, their parents were drug addicts and did not take good care of Misty and Tommy, which may have led to their own addiction? As a recovering alcoholic myself, I know that that can be handed down. We`re not saying for sure they`re addicts, but this is your premise?

HOLLARS: Oh, yes, ma`am, they are addicts.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How do you know that?

HOLLARS: They live like gypsies.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How do you know that Misty and Tommy are addicts?

HOLLARS: Well, from the -- my daughter`s own words down there and the way that he was stealing his daddy`s pills, which his daddy is going on trial for doctor shopping. He was getting roxies. And he said they were stealing all of them. But Misty stated out of her own mouth that he was giving them to her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Flo, you say there are a few different stories you`ve heard about how little Haleigh was murdered.

HOLLARS: Uh-huh.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want you to listen to this.

HOLLARS: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLLARS: I`ve heard two different details. I heard that she got a hold of one of Ron`s pills and swallowed it and O.D.`d on it, and then I heard that Misty supposedly hit her in the back of the head, and Joe supposedly raped her and then got rid of the body.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Flo, those are three very different scenarios. Where did you hear each of those stories, and which one do you believe?

HOLLARS: I believe the one that Misty told me, that they tied her up in a rope and dropped her in the river. I just don`t know whether they raped her or not. But I sort of believe that they did. I just hope and pray that the child was already dead before she hit that water.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But how do you know that, based on what Tommy told you on the phone? I mean, did Tommy tell you how the child -- if, in fact, this is what happened, got from the trailer to the river and what happened in between the time that the child left the trailer and got to the river, and who took the child from the trailer to the river?

HOLLARS: No, ma`am. All Tommy told me was that Joe did it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you didn`t ask any follow-up questions?

HOLLARS: Yes, I asked follow-up questions, but he didn`t answer any of the rest of them. He was crying too hard, so he started talking about his kids and his wife.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So how do you know that Misty, in your opinion, Misty, Tommy and Joe were all there at the river that night with little Haleigh? How do you make that leap, when all Tommy said was Joe did it, and then all Misty said was they tied a rope around her and, with cement, threw her in the water?

HOLLARS: Well, in my opinion, the way that I feel that -- knowing that is that she knew she was throwed in the St. John`s River.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you`re saying how would she know that without having witnessed it?

HOLLARS: If she hadn`t have witnessed it or -- see, Joe left the next day after this happened. Now, maybe Tommy carried her over there and showed her where they had dropped her at. I don`t know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Grandma Flo, you`re such a great interview. We really, really appreciate you being here. Stay right where you are. Don`t move.

And we`re going to get some calls in: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. Phone lines lighting up.

Plus, here we go again. A new prison inmate coming forward in the Casey Anthony case, this time claiming Casey talked about chloroform. You won`t believe this one. Are any of these roommates telling the truth.

But first, what happened to Haleigh Cummings? And did she end up in this river? We are hunting for answers with Misty`s grandmother.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANK CROSLIN, MISTY`S FATHER: I don`t want to say nothing that will hurt you, Misty.

M. CROSLIN: I know, Daddy. It`s nothing against me. I`m telling you.

H. CROSLIN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Your brother told me to tell you he loves you.

M. CROSLIN: I love him, too.

H. CROSLIN: We want to get your brother out, too.

M. CROSLIN: Well, worry about me first. OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

M. CROSLIN: So I got up and went to the kitchen. And that`s when I noticed the back door was wide open. The back door was open. The screen door was holding by a big cement block.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Misty told cops a cinderblock was propped open, holding the door of her trailer home open the night Haleigh went missing. That was her initial story. Investigators reportedly pulled two cinderblocks from the St. John`s River, and they are examining them.

We are talking to Misty`s grandmother, Flora Hollars, who says she thinks her granddaughter, Misty, was somehow involved in Haleigh Cummings` death.

We have a team of experts with us tonight. We begin with HLN law enforcement analyst Mike Brooks.

Mike, what would you like to ask Flora?

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Ms. Hollars, good to have you with us again.

HOLLARS: Thank you.

BROOKS: Misty has taken now, it looks like, four polygraphs. Initially the first two were by law enforcement, one by Texas EquuSearch, and then apparently, another one. Has she ever discussed what the questions were that were asked to her and why she failed so badly?

HOLLARS: No, sir, she hasn`t.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jayne Weintraub, your question for Flo.

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Have you ever spoken with Misty prior to this about any details like the yellow rope? Did she ever mention anything?

HOLLARS: She didn`t say anything about that until the Monday after Tommy had told me on Sunday about the -- Joe being the one that did it. And that following Monday is when Misty told me that they tied her with a yellow rope and tied the blocks around it and dropped her into the St. John`s River.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Levi Page, host of "The Levi Page Show," your question for Flo.

LEVI PAGE, HOST, "THE LEVI PAGE SHOW": Yes. Ms. Hollars, I want to ask you. Misty was jailed along with Donna Brock, a former volunteer with EquuSearch, in that drug-trafficking scandal.

HOLLARS: Yes.

PAGE: Donna Brock went undercover in October to try to get information out of Misty. According to what`s been reported, Ronald Cumming, when he learned that Donna Brock was going undercover to try to get information out of Misty, Ronald called Misty to warn her not to say anything. If Ronald doesn`t have any involvement, why do you think he warned Misty not to talk to Donna?

HOLLARS: That`s something that I would really like to know, too.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Because I think you`re saying that Ron may have at least some knowledge of what happened, even though I have to stress investigators have cleared him as a suspect.

Cheryl, North Carolina, your question for Flo?

CALLER: Yes. Why did she wait so long to come out with this? Obviously, they told her earlier on. And so she`s known this for a while, and she waited until they all got arrested on the drug charges to come out with this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Flo?

HOLLARS: Who waited?

CALLER: You did.

HOLLARS: I just heard this last week.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Well, let me ask a related question, then. Why do you think Misty waited so long? If, in fact, she was going to spill this, why wait until 15 minutes after Tommy calls?

Have you ever considered the possibility that somehow they managed to coordinate their stories and that none of this is true, that maybe there`s nothing down there at the river, that -- that basically this is just another story made up out of whole cloth, the way Misty initially said she woke up and Haleigh was simply gone?

HOLLARS: No, ma`am, because 15 minutes after Tommy called me, Misty called me. I told her what he said and she was crying and all she could say is, "Nanny, I`ve told them this all along." Misty didn`t tell me until the following Monday about the rope and the bricks in the St. John`s River.

BROOKS: And Jane, I really don`t think also that law enforcement would have gone to all this trouble and this whole dive operation, had they not thought that the information they got was very credible.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

WEINTRAUB: Especially to stay all night on a river. I mean, it`s really -- it`s unheard of. Jane, can I ask you to ask a question?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead.

WEINTRAUB: Can you ask Flo whether or not there were any discussions from Misty about the police about the time in prison she was going to spend before she came up with this confession? In other words, was she complaining to Flo that they`re going to put her in jail for 30 years if she doesn`t just tell them, so that`s why she`s telling her?

HOLLARS: No, ma`am. She told me that she didn`t think she would get over five years.

BROOKS: But, Jayne, we`ve seen -- we`ve seen how Misty has been since she went in. You know, the initial video we`ve seen of her until now. You saw her with her father, Hank. "Yes, Tommy is in here, too, but get me out first." It`s starting to get to her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Fantastic panel, stay right where you are. Are police finally closing in on little Haleigh`s killer? What happened that night?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RON CUMMINGS, FATHER OF HALEIGH CUMMINGS: If you have my daughter, bring her home, please. All I want is Haleigh. That`s all I want. I want nothing else but Haleigh. That`s it. Please, if you have her, bring her home.

Babe, if you`re watching, you know you`ll always be daddy`s little girl. I love you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Investigators did an intense underwater search over several days using divers, cadaver dogs, underwater sonar devices, focusing in n this area, a dock along the river bank of the St. John`s River.

Flo, after you called in your tip to investigators, telling them what Tommy and Misty told you, have investigators been in contact with you? Have they updated you at all as to whether they believe the story, what they found down at the river, anything?

HOLLARS: No, ma`am. I keep leaving them messages.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Really?

HOLLARS: Different things that I hear, I leave them messages, but they`ve not bothered to call me back.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How do you feel about that?

HOLLARS: I think it`s dirty. At least they should pick the phone up and call me back and answer my questions.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How has your extended family reacted to your going forward and calling police, even though it could jeopardize your three grandchildren?

HOLLARS: None of them like it, but it`s like I said, if it was me, I would want somebody to be doing the same thing that I`m doing sitting here right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you want more than anything else?

HOLLARS: I want that little girl to be put to rest.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Closure.

Mike Brooks, a question?

BROOKS: Ms. Hollars, just a little while ago you said that they went over to Ronald`s house looking for his machine gun. It had been reported earlier that apparently he had a .38 revolver. Does he have a machine gun in that house?

HOLLARS: That -- Misty said that he had a machine gun there, but he had turned it and put it somewheres else.

BROOKS: Hmm. That`s something that we`d never heard either.

HOLLARS: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t understand why somebody would take a child in reaction to not finding a machine gun.

Now, let me ask you this question. Flora, what was the relationship between Misty and Haleigh? You said that Misty didn`t want to baby-sit that night. Did Misty resent the responsibility of having to take care of Haleigh, much as Casey Anthony is accused of resenting the responsibility of being a parent regarding Caylee?

HOLLARS: That one night, I`m sure she did.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But in general, did she resent the child?

HOLLARS: No, ma`am, not in general she didn`t. I`ve talked to the child on the telephone.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And?

HOLLARS: And she was a nice-talking little girl.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But I`m saying do you think -- we`re trying to figure out a motive, a motive for any of this. Something just doesn`t add up here.

HOLLARS: I`m saying Misty was jealous of Ron and Haleigh.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Misty is jealous of Ron?

HOLLARS: Ron and his daughter. I`m saying she was jealous of them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why?

HOLLARS: The attention that he give his daughter.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh. And do you think that was a motive of some sort?

HOLLARS: Yes, ma`am, I do.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Motive for what?

HOLLARS: Getting rid of the little girl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa.

HOLLARS: She had what she wanted.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s pretty serious stuff. Again, nobody has been charged as a suspect in this case -- Jayne Weintraub.

WEINTRAUB: I was just going to say, you know, what`s clear also that we`ve learned from the last few days is that, one, tragically, Haleigh is not alive anymore.

And, No. 2, we`ve learned that this case will eventually have closure, because there`s no statute of limitations on murder. The cops will have a chance to develop the case when the drug case comes. They`ll make the squeeze play. One will admit it until they turn evidence against the other. And they`ll come up with some corroboration. This case will be made eventually.

BROOKS: It`s just a matter of making that probable cause.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stay tuned. We`ll have more on this case with Flo.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

M. CROSLIN: If I have something, she wants it. So if we buy something for me, we buy the same thing for her. Our shoes, me and Haleigh have the same pair of shoes. She wanted me to have pink and white Jordans just like hers. So me and her are like -- we try to do everything together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are here with Flo Hollars, the 67-year-old grandmother of Misty Croslin, trying to break this case, trying to really understand what happened that night. Did they go down to the river with Haleigh and throw her in the water with a weight? If so, who did it and why?

Flo, you said Misty and Ron fought because she didn`t want to baby sit Haleigh and junior the night that Haleigh went missing.

We talked about Misty`s relationship with Haleigh. You say Misty was jealous of the attention Ron gave little Haleigh. She was the apple of his eye. He said that.

FLO HOLLARS, MISTY CROSLIN`S GRANDMOTHER: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So take us further. Where are you going with that?

HOLLARS: Well, if it was your child or your step-child, would you be walking and laughing with her gone? Look how Misty is laughing. She didn`t care. She had Ron by herself.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you feel that Misty was, like, madly in love with Ron?

HOLLARS: Oh, yes, I know she is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Still?

HOLLARS: Still.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is that why she had Ron`s name tattooed on her?

HOLLARS: Uh-huh. That`s -- that`s why she`s tried to mail letters to get us to mail them back to Ron but we will not send them back to him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tell us about that. I`m not sure I understand you. Can you spell that out?

HOLLARS: She has mailed letters to her mother mainly to be sent -- put in another envelope and be sent to Ron under her mother`s name. And I told her mother, I says, "You better not do it because you`re sticking your foot in too deep." And she didn`t do it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike, thoughts?

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: No, I think -- that`s good information you gave her. Good advice. Because, no, if the jail found out about that, it could definitely get -- get them in trouble.

HOLLARS: Yes, it could.

(CROSSTALK)

BROOKS: One other thing, Ms. Hollars, Tommy had initially said that he went over that night and he pounded on the door of that trailer. Has he talked to you about that and said that he fabricated that? Or has he said that that was exactly what happened and then went back with Joe?

HOLLARS: He`s never said to me that he went over there. When I found out that he had went over there, I asked him why did it take him eight months to come out and say that he had been over there. And he never answered.

BROOKS: Interesting.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you this, Flo. What were in the letters that Misty was writing, trying to get her own mother to send them to Ron behind bars so that Ron could read something from her?

HOLLARS: How much she loved him and how much she wanted to be with him. And he tells her in the courtroom that he`s in love with her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So this is some kind of twisted love story?

HOLLARS: Yes, ma`am, it is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, here`s one thing I`ve never understood. How could you marry somebody who basically lost your daughter? I mean, for lack of a better phrase, the child disappeared on her watch. Everybody was shocked that he then proceeds to marry her. What do you make of that?

HOLLARS: They`d only known one another for four months. To me, that was staged marriage.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why do you say that?

HOLLARS: To keep from testifying against each other. But they found out real quick that it don`t work in Florida.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but -- ok. Here`s what I don`t understand. You seem to agree that Ron said Haleigh was the apple of his eye.

HOLLARS: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yet why would he then be involved in any conspiracy? He`s the one who`d likely be outraged if anybody hurt Haleigh.

HOLLARS: Well, leaving him with her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What?

HOLLARS: Leaving them with her that one particular night when she was so messed up. Would you leave your child with somebody that was doped up?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No. We`ve covered that. Ok. Jayne Weintraub, question? Question?

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, I -- no, other than I`m troubled that the police have not called Flo back. I wonder if that`s a message.

And also, I`m curious if Misty mentioned anything about being charged with a murder or Tommy, for that matter. Has anybody spoken to that they`re afraid of being charged with the murder?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Flo?

HOLLARS: I`ve not got to talk to them. I don`t have the money to get pay-toll minutes put on my telephone right now. But as soon as I get the money, I`m having them added on there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just want to say, Flo, we really appreciate your courage in speaking and being part of this effort to get to the truth. It takes a lot of guts to say something that could have blow-back to your own family.

HOLLARS: Yes, I know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We applaud you. And we`re going to stay on top of it. We want you to come back real soon, ok, Flo?

HOLLARS: Ok. Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.

All right. Switching gears. Mind-blowing claims tonight from a young woman who says she shared whispered conversations with Casey Anthony behind bars. This woman claims Casey used drugs to get her daughter, Caylee, to go to sleep so she could go out and party. But is this woman telling the truth?

Now, here is the inmate, Maya Derkovic (ph); this photo taken back in 2007 when Maya confessed to killing a teenage girl during a gang fight. Derkovic says she and Casey used to whisper to each other through the vents at the Orange County jail.

Casey Anthony is accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee. Derkovic told ISSUES affiliate, WFTV, that Casey confessed how she would get her daughter to sleep at night. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYA DERKOVIC, CASEY ANTHONY`S FORMER INMATE: She would pour it on like a rag, like a wash rag, and put it over the baby`s face so she`ll inhale it and that will knock her out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did she say what she used to knock her out?

DERKOVIC: I can`t pronounce it. Chloro --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Chloroform. So is this woman for real? Or just hopping on the Casey band wagon and hoping for a reduced sentence? I`m taking your calls on this, too. 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to my fantastic panel: HLN law enforcement analyst, Mike Brooks; criminal defense attorney, Jayne Weintraub. And we begin with Beth Karas, correspondent for "In Session" TruTV.

Beth, what do you know about this woman? Does she have any credibility?

BETH KARAS, CORRESPONDENT, "IN SESSION": Well, you know, it depends upon which side you`re on. If you`re the defense, you`d say she`s convicted of second-degree murder. She was charged with first-degree murder. She took a plea to second-degree and took a 30-year sentence in a gang-related murder of a high school teenager, a basketball player, another girl who went to Orlando Christian Prep School, found in a lake. It was a cold case. Police had no clue who did it.

And now if you`re a prosecutor, here comes the credible side; she came forward way after the fact. After it was a cold case because her conscience got to her, she said, and she confessed to this and agreed to testify against the other two. It doesn`t appear she ever ended up having to testify.

So, you know, there are some real issues with her credibility, but then again, she is someone who came forward and helped the police solve a cold case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Casey does refer to Maya in some of her letters from jail, so at the very least we know that they know each other.

Maya Derkovic apparently talked to investigators last November about her alleged conversations with Casey Anthony, but she never mentioned any chloroform back then. Why?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DERKOVIC: (INAUDIBLE) I only remember bits and pieces because that`s really how it was because it was a year later.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: When the reporter asked her about her motive for coming forward, she had this to say.

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DERKOVIC: I was facing the death penalty. I got 30 years. I`m blessed. So there`s nothing I need. I`m fine with the sentence I have.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Brooks, Derkovic is serving a 30-year sentence. Why do you think she is making these statements about chloroform now?

BROOKS: You know, that`s a great question, Jane. Obviously she was deposed by law enforcement. They went in, they interviewed her under oath.

My question is had she heard any other media reports, you know, before this because this happened back a long time ago? It was just Kathi Belich that just interviewed her recently. Had she heard something about this? Or was it, in fact, Casey that gave her this information?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jayne Weintraub, would you put her on the stand if you were the prosecutor?

WEINTRAUB: Absolutely not. I would hope that they don`t need her in a first-degree murder case where they`re seeking death to muddy up their case. She doesn`t have credibility and I`ll tell you why.

If I was the prosecutor, I would think why would I muddy up a good case and put somebody on that`s so vulnerable.

For example, Casey Anthony has been in solitary confinement. Casey Anthony doesn`t have access lately or recently to the vents, so recently they haven`t been having any of those conversations, number one.

Number two --

BROOKS: Or conversations via letter like we`ve seen recently, Jayne.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, yes. Or the vents. The vents.

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BROOKS: The vents.

WEINTRAUB: Isn`t it curious, Mike, that it`s in the cop`s report? Where do you think that`s going? Where that`s going is cross examination of the cop who made it up. So the problem is --

BROOKS: Oh, the cops again made up the story.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to bring out the big gavel because we`ve got a commercial break. More debate on the other side -- two seconds.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: A jailhouse snitch coming out saying -- breaking news -- Casey Anthony talked to her through a vent about using chloroform on little Caylee when Casey wanted to go party.

My big issue tonight, the chloroform connection; chloroform keeps popping up in this case. Casey exchanged numerous letters with another inmate, Robyn Adams.

Casey allegedly told Adams that she had to use chloroform to put her daughter Caylee to sleep. And if you recall cops discovered that somebody did an online search for chloroform on a computer in the Anthony home and traces of chloroform were found in the trunk of Casey`s car.

Beth Karas, it sounds like more than just a coincidence. Or, on the other hand, could this young lady simply have been watching TV behind bars and see us talk about chloroform?

BETH KARAS: You know, it`s quite possible because the police reports talking about chloroform and what was found in the car have been a matter of public knowledge for some months. So it is possible that these women knew about it. I don`t believe she wrote chloroform in the letters. But I think she did say it to the police, though. This is Robyn Adams.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes now, the Casey Anthony case got a new judge as we all know just this past Monday when Judge Dan Strickland recused himself. This has created a huge debate right here on ISSUES about when, if ever, Casey`s case will finally go to trial.

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MARK EIGLARSH, ATTORNEY: This will not go to trial in May.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right.

EIGLARSH: News flash, everybody. It`s not going to go to trial, but it wasn`t go to go to trial even if it was Judge Strickland for many reasons.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, in May of 2011. Ok --

EIGLARSH: It`s not going in 2011. I`m telling you, it`s not going to go in 2011.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jayne Weintraub, there is so much going on this case to me it feels like a runaway freight train no judge can control. Kind of like those other famous cases we all know about.

WEINTRAUB: Well, I think that`s why it`s a good thing that we`ve got a judge who is going to take this case by the reins and that`s for sure. This is a judge who`s no-nonsense, who is going to take control and he`s going to keep to the schedule. I think the case will go next May.

And I will say something else, you know, Jane, you might have said it in jest, but it`s true. The TVs are on in the jail all day long and it wouldn`t be surprising to me if the inmates watch your show and any other show that`s talks about this case and that`s a problem.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Brooks, I think -- I`m going to say it, I could be wrong but I`m going to proclaim this case is out of control officially. Kind of reminds me of the Michael Jackson case or the O.J. Simpson case or the Robert Blake case or the Phil Spector case, if you know what I mean.

BROOKS: You know what, I have to agree with you here, but I have to agree Jayne. Jane, they now have a judge -- who I`ve talked to attorneys and law enforcement down in Orange County. This guy is no-nonsense. In fact, I wouldn`t be surprised if possibly you see his own timeline put on this to make sure that it does go to trial in May of 2011.

WEINTRAUB: I`ll tell you what you`re not going to see. You`re not going to see 800 pages dumped when they`ve had this stuff for --

BROOKS: No.

WEINTRAUB: -- five months in November and they`re turning it over now. The state is going to have to start producing this stuff a lot quicker according to the rules. And this judge will hold both sides with their feet to the fire.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So is this a -- a positive or a negative, the appearance of this woman, quick from everybody.

Beth Karas, is this positive for the defense or negative for the defense? Positive for the prosecutor or negative for the prosecutor?

KARAS: Well, it`s positive for the defense if the state doesn`t call her and she`s really incredible, right? I don`t know that she`ll ever take the stand. But it could help the prosecution. But I don`t know, I agree with Jane, I don`t know that they really Maya Derkovic, quite frankly.

BROOKS: No, they don`t need her and she`s impeachable.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Gosh. Jayne Weintraub, you often side with the defense. So I assume this is good news for you?

WEINTRAUB: Well, I think it`s good news for the defendant. And I think that in this case, Casey Anthony deserves it. They`re not going to use this. And I`ll tell you something in federal court a judge would instruct the jury that somebody`s testimony like an inmate was looking for a reduction of sentence or some benefits, a judge instructs them that you must look at it with great care and scrutiny because it is -- it is so vulnerable.

BROOKS: I don`t know if she deserves it Jane, you know she -- she should have told law enforcement the truth from the very beginning, but she didn`t.

WEINTRAUB: Maybe she did and it`s not your truth. But what I will say also about Robyn Adams --

BROOKS: Oh, come on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on one at a time, go ahead Jayne.

WEINTRAUB: Robyn Adams -- Robyn Adams said in the letter, "This may be the only way out of prison for me sooner than my expected term. I only want to come home." That`s a quote.

So where do you think we`re going with these kind of letters and this kind of (INAUDIBLE) testimony, whether her name is Maya, Robyn any of these inmates? They`ve got an axe to grind; they`ve got a benefit they`re looking for. They`re of no use and they`re not credible.

KARAS: And Jane, Maya says that she didn`t want, she`s not looking for a reduction in her sentence. Just a couple of weeks ago the Court of Appeals reduced a motion on her own she went pro se trying to get it reduced.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, this case has just gotten completely out of control in my opinion. Now, this new judge, are you -- are you meaning to tell -- because everybody disagree with me, that the judge would -- the change in judge would not postpone the case.

Do you really -- everybody mean to tell me that with all of this confusion, with all of the nuances, with all of the depositions, with all the civil suits, with everything else, this judge is going to be able to get up to speed?

BROOKS: Absolutely.

KARAS: Yes.

WEINTRAUB: Absolutely and he`s got 13 months.

BROOKS: Yes, right.

WEINTRAUB: He`s the judge. He`s not a litigant.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time, go ahead.

WEINTRAUB: I`m sorry, he`s the litigant, he`s the judge. I mean, he`s not the litigant, he`s the judge. He doesn`t have to read every single statement and every single deposition. He has to make rulings on the law and be --

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Thank you. Ok. Thank you, all.

Tonight, we are taking a stand on an urgent global issue. With us tonight, Pierce Brosnan -- thank you panel -- who is famous for playing James Bond, 007.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mr. --

PIERCE BROSNAN, ACTOR & WHALE ACTIVIST: The name is Bond, James Bond.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Pierce Brosnan has starred in a slew of blockbuster films. His latest project: the voice behind an astounding new film, Disney`s "Oceans".

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BROSNAN: When it comes to more practical matters like using tools, the sea otter is front and center. They use rocks to crack open shells and get at the tender morsel inside, while soaking up the rays in Monterey Bay.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: "Oceans" premieres tomorrow, which is Earth Day. But here`s the tragic irony; also scheduled for release on Earth Day, a controversial new deal on international whale hunting. The U.S. government has taken the lead on this agreement and claims it will prevent thousands of whales from being hunted and killed.

But many critics, including Pierce Brosnan, call it a sellout that will actually increase and legalize whaling on the promise that sometime in the distant future all whaling will end.

Joining me now: actor and whale activist Pierce Brosnan; along with award-winning marine biologist Dr. Sylvia Earl. Pierce, I`m so glad to have you on ISSUES tonight. Give us your thoughts on this announcement that they`re going to do this on Earth Day.

BROSNAN: Well, this is a shocking blow to anybody who cares for the oceans or the well-being of the whales. And they are considering lifting this moratorium which has been in place since 1986.

For me, whales are more valuable alive than dead. And I think anybody who sees this film "Oceans" will be enthralled and just very angry at the thought that we could do such a thing to these magnificent creatures once more. And if they do have a heart, these people, if they do want to stand up and fight for this issue --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Back in a moment.

BROSNAN: -- then they should call --

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, Pierce Brosnan is with us live on an escalating controversy over whaling. And here`s my big issue. What can viewers do?

Animal advocates are putting out alerts. They say join over 100,000 people who have called the White House already. You can also go to this Web site or contact your Congressperson.

Pierce, so glad to have you here. If you could say one thing to President Obama about the whale issue, what would you tell him?

BROSNAN: Don`t let this happen. I think it`s not a good thing to be doing to these creatures. I feel that this moratorium has been in place for many years now and it should stay in place.

I think if they set these nations free with the slaughter of the whales, I think it will be a free-for-all for every other nation too.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Pierce`s outrage is shared by Captain Paul Watson, star of the hit show "Whale Wars" on Animal Planet. One of Paul`s vessels, the "Sea Shepherd" was attacked and sunk by Japanese whalers in the Antarctic just last January. Paul tells ISSUES, "I don`t understand how they intend to save whales by legalizing whaling. It`s only going to open the floodgates for other countries to resume whaling," end quote.

Pierce, what do you make of U.S. officials announcing this on, of all things, Earth Day?

BROSNAN: It`s a real body blow to everybody in the environmental movement and people who are concerned and -- for the welfare of these great creatures. And I think if anyone sees the film "Oceans", they will come away with a renewed hope and spirit for our oceans.

And for this to come on such a day is just a mighty blow. I mean, whales are more valuable alive than dead. And to these countries involved like Japan, Norway, and Iceland, they have huge revenue from tourism. So to go out now and to commit the slaughter against these creatures is just mindless.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, last year, Pierce, the Obama administration pledged to keep the ban on commercial whaling intact, calling it a necessary conservation measure, adding lethal scientific whaling is unnecessary. Critics say this apparent about-face is another example of the Obama administration`s hostile position on animal welfare.

ISSUES, by the way, has also covered the Bureau of Land Management`s wild horse roundup that`s being aggressively pursued by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Now, I`m wondering, Pierce, why are we seeing all this activity that animal organizations are up in arms over under the Obama administration? Weren`t they supposed to be friends of the animals?

BROSNAN: I thought so. I mean, I voted for the man. And I am very shocked. I mean, this news came to me the other day as we were presenting the film "Oceans". And my wife, Keely, and I and our other friends from IFAW were quite taken aback by these proceedings.

They say it`s going to help the whales, but I don`t see how it possibly could. I mean, there`s no moral justification for killing whales. They`re not our enemies. And if they pursue this, then I think there will be a mighty roar from the people.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What can people do? We only have about ten seconds, Pierce.

BROSNAN: Call IFAW, Ifaw.org; call them, rally up, get the phones ringing, and have a voice.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Call the White House, too. Thank you, Pierce.

BROSNAN: Call the White House.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Huge fan. You`re watching ISSUES.

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