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Casey Anthony Facing Death Penalty; Animals Feeling Effects of Oil Spill

Aired May 11, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, Casey Anthony breaks down and sobs as she learns the death penalty is still on the table. This tough, new, no-nonsense judge shoots down the defense team`s fiery arguments of sexual bias, ruling Casey can still be executed.

And horrifying new insight into the Lawrence Taylor rape case. The 16-year-old runaway is now speaking out, describing in graphic detail what happened inside that hotel room: the sex, the condom, and the money. We`ll have all the disgusting details.

Plus, a young reality TV star is headed to jail. The Bling Ring burglar admits breaking into actor Orlando Bloom`s apartment. Then she tried cashing in on her newfound fame with a reality TV show. Tonight, she`s headed to the clinker. So what about the rest of the so-called gang of entitled brats?

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news in the Casey Anthony murder trial. And it`s bad news for Casey and her defense dream team. Casey could be executed if she`s convicted of killing her baby daughter Caylee.

Casey visibly sobbed throughout today`s high-stakes hearing while her death penalty defender passionately -- and I mean passionately -- argued that prosecutors were sexist and biased against women in asking for the death penalty.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People don`t say, you know, she`s -- I say an impolite word, but you know, she`s a whore, so she should die. Right? They don`t say that out loud, although they do in blogs, actually. In some of the blogs they should just actually die with her. But that`s neither here nor there.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: At the heart of the issue, the sexy photos of Casey partying it up at a nightclub just four days after little Caylee went missing. Did the state use these photos to justify asking for the death penalty?

Now the new, no-nonsense judge, he rejected the sexism argument, as well as a somewhat bizarre accusation that prosecutors were using the death penalty to bankrupt the defense.

But there was one big victory for team Casey. Within ten days, prosecutors have to reveal specifically why they believe the death penalty is warranted. Major rulings, major implications for Casey.

And I want to hear from you at home. Give me a holler: 1-877-JVM- SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel. Linda Bloom, attorney and CNN legal analyst; Mike Brooks, HLN, law enforcement analyst; Sunny Hostin, former federal prosecutor and legal contributor to "In Session" on TruTV. And we begin with Jean Casarez, correspondent for "In Session," on the ground live outside the courthouse in Orlando.

Jean, why was such an emotional, tearful, intense and high-stakes hearing?

JEAN CASAREZ, CORRESPONDENT, TRUTV`S "IN SESSION": Well, for a lot of reasons. First of all, the defense was really trying to get death off the table today. They believed they had the arguments that could do it. They believed that this prosecution was bringing this as a death penalty case in bad faith. That was the basis of their arguments.

But in the end, the judge said the prosecutor has a lot of discretion in bringing a case such as this one as a death penalty case. So motion denied.

There were tears in that courtroom, though. Casey Anthony started to cry at one point today. And it was the first time and probably the only time that Caylee`s name was mentioned. Andrea Lyon, her defense lawyer, was talking about that she had been a good mother, and everyone close to her knew that. That`s when she emotionally began the cry.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hmm. The new, no-nonsense judge did not waste any time in making his ruling. In fact, it seemed to me he ruled the second the defense stopped talking. Listen to this.


BELVIN PERRY, JUDGE: I find that the defense has not met their burden in this case. The motion to preclude the death penalty for the impermissible gender bias will be denied.


Judge Belvin Perry`s apparent speedy decision-making stands in sharp contrast with the previous judge, who often pondered for days before ruling.

And here`s my big issue tonight. Note to Casey`s defense team: be careful what you wish for; you may just get it. Remember, Casey`s lawyers successfully got the previous judge, Stan Strickland, bounced from the case after he admitted communicating with a blogger who wrote things like, let`s see, "Casey must die."

So do you think the defense is kicking themselves, Lisa Bloom, right now for making that switch?

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don`t think so. But they didn`t really get much today. You know, to get the prosecution to have to reveal to them the aggravators, that is the reasons why the prosecution thinks there`s a death penalty on the table here, is not much of a win. Because the obvious one is that the victim was under the age of 12. And the prosecution even said, "Look, you really need us to reveal to you the aggravators? Come on." So today was a big loss for the defense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, but Mike Brooks, the judge did rule that the prosecution has to reveal the aggravating factors they intend to prove within ten days.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So is this going to force the prosecution to show its hand? Are we going to learn, basically, how they`re going to conduct this trial?

BROOKS: Yes, you know, I have to disagree with Lisa a little bit. Following it all day on "In Session," I thought -- and Jean Casarez mentioned this earlier today on "In Session." I thought it was a pretty good win for the defense because, yes, the prosecution`s going to have to show some of these aggravators that they plan to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

But Jane, when you come down to aggravators, you think about the tape. And we heard Mr. Ashton at one of the other hearings talk about the three pieces of tape that were put across little Caylee`s face. And when he said that during that hearing, that also brought tears to Casey while she sat at that defense table.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Essentially what you`re saying, Mike, is no, it`s not sexism or the fact that she`s a woman or a loose woman or whatever.

BROOKS: No, no. Not at all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re saying that they`re seeking the death penalty, because there are legitimate aggravating factors. Well, we`ll have to...

BROOKS: Right. And I think they will be able to prove aggravated child abuse, count two, in this case. And that`s going to -- that would be a big, big win for the prosecution.

BLOOM: Yes, but Jean, the sexism point, as I understand it, is a little bit different. I took a close look at it. I knew everybody was going to pooh-pooh it today. The sexism argument is that the media focuses disproportionately on white, middle-class mothers who kill their children. And there`s no question about that.

And then the next step of the argument is that the death penalty is more likely to be asked for and imposed in high-profile cases.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But let`s examine...

BROOKS: But they talk about her being a bad parent. But let`s think about this.

BLOOM: There are a lot of bad parents and very few of them, even murderers, very few of them have the death penalty asked for or imposed in their cases.

BROOKS: Well, a good parent...

SUNNY HOSTIN, CONTRIBUTOR, TRUTV`S "IN SESSION": I think that that motion was complete nonsense.

BROOKS: Thank you, Sunny.

HOSTIN: It had no debating to fact (ph). It had no statistics to back it up. I mean, they`re arguing that she was really, you know, given the death penalty -- or rather charged with a death penalty case because she`s a woman. There`s no -- there are statistics to support that. And I`ve got to tell you, I thought it was a completely frivolous and baseless motion.

BLOOM: Don`t you agree with the media bias point?


BLOOM: You think that African-American little boys who are missing get the kind of attention that Caylee Anthony got?

HOSTIN: No, I actually don`t think that the media argument supports it, because we know that this jury, Lisa, is going to be sequestered. It`s going to be a jury that`s not even from Orlando, that isn`t even privy to all the media attention that we all have heard about.

BLOOM: I`m not from Orlando. I know all about this case.

HOSTIN: Well, I`ve got to tell you, the judge basically decided that he was going to sequester this jury. There was going to be a jury that wasn`t from Orlando. And so the argument that she was going to get the death penalty because of the media attention that this case is going to get, I think is also completely frivolous, baseless.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let`s go out to the callers. Chenna, Connecticut, your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: Hi, Jane, can I just say, first of all, hi to all the old Court TV people that`s on your show right now?

BLOOM: Woo-hoo.


CALLER: I`m a big, big, big fan.

BROOKS: And the new "In Session" people, too. Hello.

CALLER: I`m sorry. I`m from the old school.

BROOKS: There you go.

BLOOM: Me, too.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Your question, Chenna.

CALLER: I`m sorry. Hi, Jane. Yes. Motion denied, that`s right. Gender bias, that`s absolutely ridiculous. Let`s not forget the pictures of her in the club. No one is going to be able to put that out of their mind. And you don`t even have to be a parent. If you just be around children, no one`s going to be able to get those pictures out of their mind. The kid was found in a garbage bag.

BROOKS: Jane, it`s really such a good...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I got to go to Jean Casarez. You had a very interesting point. And I agree with you, that this was some kind of Hail Mary pass, more intended to influence the jury pool than actually to win the ruling, because I think the defense knew they didn`t have a snowball`s chance in hell with this ruling, but it`s a way to get their message out to the public.

CASAREZ: You`re exactly right in a very legal way, a very respectful way. Right? They want this potential jury pool to say, "OK, wait a minute. Let`s not look at her lifestyle any more. Let`s look at the evidence." And the defense wants you to believe that there is no evidence that goes toward even first-degree murder more or less the death penalty.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, everybody stay right where you are. We`re just getting started on the Casey Anthony case and this new no- nonsense judge, and we`re taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Plus very disturbing insight in the Lawrence Taylor rape case. The runaway forced into prostitution is now speaking out. Gross details of what happened inside that hotel room.

But first, rejected. The new judge in the Casey Anthony case has ruled. And the death penalty stays on the table. Casey is crying. More of her tear-filled reaction.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you observed that prosecutors are more or less likely to seek a severe sentence if there`s intense media interest?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say more likely, yes. Definitely more likely.




ANDREA LYON, CASEY`S DEATH PENALTY ATTORNEY: No matter what people have said about her, they all say that Caylee was happy and healthy. Women are often tried and punished, not only for the crime they`ve committed but also for their degree of nonconformity with traditional gender types.

JEFF ASHTON, ASSISTANT FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: To say that we are seeking the death penalty in this case solely because of her gender is not proven before this court and is patently absurd.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And the judge agreed with the prosecution. Motion denied for Casey Anthony. After passionate arguments filled with fiery language and tears, the judge ruled Casey will indeed face execution if she is convicted.

Jackie, Iowa, your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: I consider that`s the price of equality. If a woman commits the same crime as a man and he would be facing the death penalty, she should, too.

BLOOM: But the problem is most killers don`t face the death penalty, men or women.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, wait a second. Who said that? Sunny?

BLOOM: Lisa. I said that. Listen, Jane, this is the reality. Very few killers -- people think that all murderers get the death penalty. That`s an absolutely false idea. Most people who commit murder in this county do not face the death penalty. Only a very small number face it. And of that, a very, very tiny number actually get the death penalty.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me ask you this question, since you made that argument. Do you think the defense would have been smarter to argue that the bias is not against her gender but against the fact that she`s a mother? Because if there was any claim of bias that would seem to make sense to me it`s that they are waiting -- overweighting, perhaps, the fact that this -- this woman is the mother of the victim. That would have made, I think, a narrower argument that might have made more sense.

BLOOM: Well -- I see what you`re saying, Jane, but the fact is that each most mothers who kill their children don`t get the death penalty. I`ve covered dozens of cases like that. None of them even face the death penalty.

The situation here is it`s a high-profile case. And in a high-profile case, everybody wants to get tough. And that, in my opinion, is why they seek the death penalty.


BLOOM: Initially in this case, they didn`t seek the death penalty. After the remains of the little baby were found, then they did. It was the same time -- this case blew up into a media firestorm. And why was there a media firestorm? It`s an attractive young girl that we can show on the screen like we`re doing right now who is the defendant.


BROOKS: ... never told the police.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time, please!

BROOKS: It`s an accused -- it`s an accused that has not cooperated and has told lie after lie after lie when confronted with it. And did not even report...

BLOOM: But those aren`t aggravators.

BROOKS: Did not -- OK, well, what about the...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s hear from Sunny Hostin.

BROOKS: What about the tape around her mouth when found?


HOSTIN: What I would like to say, I mean, Lisa`s saying that there`s no reason for them to seek the death penalty after they first said they weren`t going to seek the death penalty, other the fact that the media...

BLOOM: No, I`m not saying that.

HOSTIN: ... got involved. Well, that`s what you seem to imply, Lisa. And the bottom line is...

BLOOM: I didn`t say there`s no reason.

HOSTIN: Once they found Caylee`s remains and she had duct tape, three pieces, across her nose, across her mouth, across all of her airways, that`s when they got that additional information and decided to charge her this way.


BLOOM: The sad thing is that no prosecutor...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: One at a time!

BLOOM: ... they don`t get the death penalty.

HOSTIN: Well, that is true. However, each time a prosecutor looks at a case, Lisa, as you know, you look at it on a case-by-case basis, and you look at the facts of the case. And there is -- and that...

BLOOM: You think the media...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait, wait. Show me the panel. Show me the panel. Hold on a second. OK, I`ve got two gavels here. I`ve got a little one and a big one. Now I`m going to have to bring out the big gavel, because our viewers have told us they don`t like it when people talk over each other.

OK. So Sunny, finish your story, and then we`re going to go to Lisa.

HOSTIN: The prosecutors always have the ability to look at things on a case-by-case basis, and that`s what they did in this case. Once they found out the conditions of Caylee`s remains, they decided to charge this as a death penalty case.

And let`s face it. The fact that there was a toddler that was murdered is an aggravating factor. A child under 12 years old. There`s no way that it is inappropriate to charge this as a death penalty case. It`s a classic.


BROOKS: Thank you, Sunny.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let Lisa have the reaction, and then I`m going to move on to another issue that I want to bring up -- Lisa.

BLOOM: OK. I think that the defense made a little bit more of a sophisticated argument than that. What their argument is, is this case got a lot of media attention. And I think we all know that some cases, where there is a murder, get a lot of attention, and some cases don`t. It tends to be when the defendant or the victim are young, white and female. There`s no question about that. We`ve all talked about that.


BLOOM: And when the media shines a spotlight on a case, everybody -- the prosecutors, the judge -- everybody wants to get tough and throw the book at them. That`s the argument. I`m not saying it`s right or wrong. I`m just saying that`s the argument we need to deal with. Not that we`re mad at her, not that there are aggravators.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I got it. May I dare say that, if you had been making the argument, Lisa, maybe it would have been more successful, because you seem to be making more sense than the lawyers inside the courtroom.

BROOKS: It would be.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But I want to go to another issue. OK. The defense claims prosecutors used racy photos of Casey taken while her daughter was missing to portray Casey as an oversexed, unfit mom. The prosecution counters that defense has also referred to Casey`s lifestyle.

Listen carefully to both sides now.


ASHTON: The defendant`s attorneys described it as a wild, drunken, possibly bisexual dance.

LYON: The prosecution also argued to you that the only thing we had was scantily clad, and then he read something from our writing about the possibility of bisexual. That is the way that those photographs have been characterized in the press, your honor, that`s why we said that. That`s how the public is looking at it and how our potential jury pool is looking at all of this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Bisexual. They had to whisper, bisexual.

Here`s what`s ironic to me, Jean Casarez.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The defense is up in arms about gender bias. But it seems to me both sides are showing their bias regarding sexual orientation, whispering as if there was something inherently immoral about those pictures. What`s disturbing about that photos is that Casey claimed to be searching for her child and was instead out partying. It shouldn`t matter who she was dancing with. Who wants to take that hot potato?

BLOOM: It was June 20, four days after the prosecution alleges that little Caylee was dead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Up next, six...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, our spotlight is on the horrific oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. More than 200,000 gallons of crude are spilling into that water every single day. It is an environmental catastrophe that is having a horrific impact on beautiful, innocent wildlife.

There are more than 400 species in the gulf area, including whales and dolphins. So far at least 100 sea turtles have turned up dead along the gulf coastline. They started washing up ten days after the rig explosion. Animal autopsies are under way to prove what killed them. But come on, coincidence? I don`t think so.

Even hardened reporters have gotten choked up over the devastation.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is something we didn`t expect to see. This is a sea turtle. It`s right here in the water. It`s right near the top. It`s swimming right in the middle of all that oily mess out there. We`re going to try to get as close.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s having trouble. That`s why he`s doing that. He should not be doing that.

MATTINGLY: He`s clearly in distress.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to my fellow animal lover, Lisa Bloom. We are looking at a turtle in the water, drinking in oil and dying. It was caught by a CNN reporter. We have hundreds of animals that are washing up, and it could go into the thousands or the tens of thousands.

What, as an animal lover and an environmentalist, is your reaction to how this catastrophe is being handled?

BLOOM: It`s horrendous, Jane. It`s a heartbreak. And who speaks for these animals, Jane? Who is standing up for them? Who is asking the government and the company responsible for this, BP, what they are going to do to make sure that this never happens again, to make it right, not only for the many people in the Gulf Coast affected but also for the animals?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There are 400 different species of wildlife impacted by this catastrophe. Four hundred. We`re talking whales. We`re talking dolphins. We`re talking sea turtles. We`re also talking birds.

And it`s particularly bad timing for the animals, because it`s springtime. And you know what that is? It`s nesting time. There are tens of thousands of birds in this area.

And you know what happens to birds when they get coated in oil? Look at that poor creature, right up against the rig, completely coated in oil. There`s no way that we can save all of them.

And this is what gets me so outraged, Lisa, is that people still talk about, "Well, we`ve got to drill, baby, drill." I say, that`s spill, baby, spill and kill, baby, kill.

BLOOM: Yes. And your caption right now says it all, Jane. Drill, baby, kill. That`s right. I mean, as far as I`m concerned, everything about oil is bad. It comes from countries that have the most misogynistic cultures in the world, that are terrible to women. It`s a nonrenewable resource. It pollutes the air and causes climate change. And we have disasters like this periodically that are horrendous to wildlife and to people. There`s just nothing good about oil.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got to do something. And I say look INTO the oil slick and you may see your own reflection, because this is the ultimate consequence of our policies, our energy policies. We need to get solar power and clean, green energy into our country for our own sakes.

Next, disgusting new details on what happened inside L.T.`s hotel room.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Horrifying new insight into the Lawrence Taylor rape case. The 16-year-old runaway is now speaking out, describing in graphic detail what happened inside that hotel room. The sex, the condom and the money; we`ll have all the disgusting details.

Plus, a young reality TV star is headed to jail. The Bling Ring burglar admits breaking into actor Orlando Bloom`s apartment. Then she tried cashing in on her newfound fame with a reality TV show. Tonight, she`s headed to the clinker. So what about the rest of this so-called gang of entitled brats?

Tonight, graphic new details emerging from football great Lawrence Taylor`s alleged sexual encounter with a 16-year-old runaway. Now some of the details are so explicit we have to warn you about them ahead of time. So children, leave the room, please.

Police say the NFL superstar paid the girl $300 for sex in a New York hotel room last week. The girl told the "New York Daily News", quote, the condom got stuck inside me. I told him, "I`d better not get pregnant." And he said, "It`s all right. I`m fixed," end quote.

Police say this alleged pimp Rasheed Davis (ph) forced the girl into the act of prostitution. Here is his mug shot from 2008. This monster was convicted of killing someone and he served 15 years. Now he`s out and back to his old tricks, so to speak.

Davis allegedly punched and stomped on the girl to get her to agree to go to Taylor`s hotel room. Despite allegedly being beaten, given a shiner and repeatedly sold for sex, this girl says she feels bad for Lawrence Taylor, the very man accused of statutory rape in her case.

The girl said, quote, "I don`t want to ruin his reputation," end quote. Well, guess what? Honey, you don`t have to worry about that. That ship sailed a whole, whole long time ago.

But here`s more. Wait till you hear what this girl said about looking up to Lawrence Taylor. Will the power of celebrity overwhelm this case, as it has so many times before in other cases?

I want to hear what you think about this mess. Call me 1-877- JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. Straight out to my fantastic panel: CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom back with us; and we`re delighted to have Jody "Babydol" Gibson, renowned former Hollywood madam and editor-in-chief of Corona books. Good to see you Jody.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hey, how`s it going?

Steve DeOssie former NFL player and sports radio talk show host from WEEI. Steve got to begin with you. You actually played with Lawrence Taylor. What was your reaction when you heard about these charges against your former teammate?

STEVE DEOSSIE, SPORTS RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, WEEI: Well, the first reaction was one of disgust and one of concern for the young girl and her family. And just the idea that this is another one of a long history of bad decisions by Lawrence even though he was probably the best teammate and best locker room guy that I ever played with in 12 years of the NFL, he still had a history of making bad decisions. This could be the very worst that he has made.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, last night we had Lisa Guerrero and another former NFL player on and they said they both worked with him and that he had an attitude of disrespect toward women. Did you ever see that, Steve?

DEOSSIE: Not so much. We were friends both on the field and off the field. And I saw certain situations that he was in, but never a total lack of respect. More of an attitude of somewhat entitlement, but I wouldn`t say a lack of respect.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now Taylor faces third degree rape and prostitution charge. So why don`t we see the book thrown at johns more often?

Take for example disgraced New York governor Eliot Spitzer. Two years ago he was outed as client number nine -- who could forget -- in a prostitution ring. This a guy who once prosecuted prostitution rings. Two days later he resigned as governor, but he was never charged.

Jody "Babydol" Gibson, you are the former famous madam. Why it is that johns typically get off easy, and what do you make of LT actually being charged with being a john, essentially?

GIBSON: The first question is the $20,000 question, why. "Why" is a crooked letter. I think it`s a dated misogynistic attitude that they think that the woman incites it or invites it. That`s the first answer to your first question.

However, the second question about Lawrence Taylor, I think this is so messy, I think it`s possible he was set up here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, you`ve been talking to his wife.

GIBSON: No. No, no.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what she`s saying. I don`t buy it. I don`t think --

GIBSON: Let me extrapolate just a minute.


GIBSON: I do believe he did send out for the girl. I wouldn`t be surprised if they found her on Craigslist. That`s usually the $300 market, by the way.

But I think that once they knew somehow that they were going to see Lawrence Taylor, that`s when the idea started forming.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say this, Lisa Bloom. My understanding, according to published reports, is that Lawrence Taylor had a middleman, who was somebody in the music industry, who knew the alleged pimp. And he was the one who made the call and arranged for this girl to go over there.

My understanding is that the girl had no idea that it was Lawrence Taylor when she went over there and that the lights were off so that she couldn`t even see that it was Lawrence Taylor. She only found out, allegedly, that it was LT after she texted her uncle who called police and police went over there and arrested him.

LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right. And now she wants to protect him because he`s a celebrity.

Look, bottom line is she`s 16 years old. This is statutory rape. And it doesn`t matter if she`s older than that. But legally -- that`s just legally speaking. Morally speaking, any man who goes to a prostitute who he even thinks is 19 years old is doing a horrendous thing because this is the reality of prostitution.

If you`re 19 years old, you`re probably getting beaten up by your pimp, you probably are a runaway, you probably have a history of sexual abuse as a child or you`re currently being sexually abused. That`s why it is degrading to women. That`s why anybody like Lawrence Taylor or any other man who goes to a teenage prostitute is, I think, degrading women.


GIBSON: You know what, though, Lisa.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and of course, this is all alleged at this time. But I agree with you in fact.

What I`ve learned from studying this issue of sex trafficking is that runaways like this girl are approached within 45 minutes of running away from home as soon as they get to the bus stop.

Yes, go ahead Jody.

GIBSON: You`re right, Jane. You`re right Jane. However, you`re leaving out a very important part of the equation in that these athletes are sitting ducks. I mean, I`ve written about situations like this. I have the Barry Bonds story, not terribly different than this, in one of my books. The girl --

BLOOM: But what`s in it for her? She`s not asking for any money.

GIBSON: I haven`t figured out yet any of the details though. I`m just --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Finish your argument, Jody and then we`ll tear it up.

GIBSON: That`s ok, that`s ok, ladies.

I think that a lot of times the athletes are sitting ducks. For example, how about the Mike Tyson story? I always felt that the girl who showed up at his hotel room at 2:00 in the morning, I was always suspect of what that modus operandi was. So I --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can I say this? I think that there is an issue with sports figure, but I think it`s a totally different issue. I want to go back to the former NFL player Steve DeOssie -- I think it`s an issue of entitlement. If you look at the Tiger Woods case, if you look at the Ben Roethlisberger case, if you look at this case.

What is it about the sports culture that seem to encourage certain -- certain, not all -- but certain men to treat women like they`re commodities that can be ordered and shipped to their room and then shipped out, like a dinner order?

GIBSON: It`s availability of opportunity. The fact that they can and the fact that so many women are vying for their attention; so many women will throw themselves at them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This woman was beaten before she was taken to his room. She wasn`t throwing herself --

GIBSON: Oh, I didn`t know that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She was beaten by her alleged pimp and given a shiner. But go ahead, Steve.

GIBSON: I did not hear that. I did not know that she was beaten by him.

DEOSSIE: Jane, I`m glad that you said it was just some players, because as a father of a current NFL player and a teammate of -- former teammate of hundreds of players, I`d like to remind your viewers that this is a -- the vast majority of guys make great decisions. This is a small group of guys that are making these terrible decisions.

But sometimes guys get into position where things are handed to them. Things are basically put on a platter for them. So they expect a lot of things put on a platter, whether it`s through the money, through the fame, through the celebrity or whatever it is. The coaches or the agents or anybody else who is trying to get a piece of their action, guys tend to lose track of what`s real and what`s not real. Sometimes they lose track to a point of doing something stupid like this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I want to get to my big issue quickly, and that is the power of celebrity which looms large over this case.

I mean check out what the alleged victim said. Quote, "I was a huge Giants fan and I used to look up to him. I don`t want to ruin his reputation. After all, he`s in the hall of fame and he won two super bowls."

I mean my gosh, Jody, the victim is worrying about the john`s reputation. How crazy is that?

GIBSON: Well, then, I mean does she sound like a victim to you?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, she does. She`s a 16 years old girl.

BLOOM: She`s 16 years old.

GIBSON: No, but I`m saying -- and I`m not undermining the seriousness, by the way, of anybody that does anything like this. If this is true what Lawrence Taylor did, if in any way -- well, first of all, if she is under age that is rape.

However, if she was of age and he did do something that violated her, that is unforgivable. But I do think a lot of these athletes are just targets for girls coming out of the woodwork that think -- I mean I knew a girl that did this with Barry Bonds and tried to, you know, had sex with him in his limousine after a show and then wanted to have his baby.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think that`s a little bit of a different case.

GIBSON: It is, it is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I understand all of your perspectives and it`s fascinating to get everybody`s take on this. We`re not leaving it there.

We`ll be back with more on LT, you know, in the coming days.

Thank you, fabulous panel.

Police say they broke in the homes of Hollywood stars like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton and stole millions of dollars worth of clothing and jewelry and bags and shoes. Now, one of the members of the so-called burglar bunch gets time, she`s going to the clink. We`re taking your calls on this 1-877-586-7297.

And a young professional golfer found dead. What killed Erica Blasberg, just 25 years old -- it`s a mystery.


MEL BLASBERG, ERICA BLASBERG`S FATHER: This is devastating. And we`re going to have to bury a 25-year-old daughter.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Critics call them a gang of entitled brats, robbing from the rich and famous. Tonight: the first member of the so-called Bling Ring tossed in the clink. That`s next.

But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.

This is a sad one. Mystery in Sin City, a beautiful female golfer found dead inside her Las Vegas home. Erica Blasberg was young, beautiful and athletic. She was a professional golfer on the ladies PGA tour. Cops are not saying whether foul play was involved, but here`s a very odd twist.

Yesterday her father suggested his daughter may have committed suicide. Today he has backed away from that statement and is now adamant that this was not a suicide. Mel Blasberg told TMZ he visited his daughter on Thursday and she was very upbeat.


BLASBERG: Something -- something happened. She was supposed to leave for a tournament that morning. She didn`t. This is devastating. And we`re going to have to bury a 25-year-old daughter. So it`s sad.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: More right here on ISSUES. Please join us for that.

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

Stunning, head-spinning: inside tonight, into the so-called California Bling Ring as the first of six defendants heads off to jail. Did these young people really think they would get away with stealing millions of dollars worth of clothing, jewelry, shoes and art from movie stars?

Even when surveillance cameras allegedly caught them in the act, reality star, Audrina Partridge released these pictures. It still did not stop the Bling Ring from allegedly hitting the homes of more stars including Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Rachel Bilson (ph). They allegedly hit Paris` house five times.

Well, now here is the first defendant to go down: 18-year-old reality star Alexis Neiers. She pleaded no contest to burglarizing movie star Orlando Bloom`s home.

TMZ caught the action in court today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s a felony commonly known as first degree residential burglary of Orlando Bloom`s residence. You understand the charge against you?



VELEZ-MITCHELL: What a pout. Ask me, that spoiled brat deserves everything she gets. She actually had the nerve to brag about her exploits on her reality show "Pretty Wild" on E! Check it out.


NEIERS: We don`t take it for granted. And at the end of the day we are so wholesome and down to earth.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes, very wholesome. Neiers is only the first. There are five more defendants. And all but one has pleaded not guilty. We know one of them won`t be going to any A-list parties for a while.

I`m taking your calls on this. 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to my fantastic panel: we`re delighted to have "Vanity Fair" writer Nancy Jo Sales with us, who wrote a fascinating article about this gang. CNN legal analyst, Lisa Bloom, is back with us. And we begin with TMZ assignment manager, Mike Walters.

Mike, you were all over the court situation. What is the very latest?

MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Well, Jane, Alexis Neiers got 180 days in county jail. And let me tell you something. She wants to be a reality star. Guess what, here`s reality, county jail`s not fun, Alexis.

And guess what else? She`s about to have a restitution hearing where she could owe up to $600,000 in what was owed to Orlando Bloom, the stuff that was taken from him.

Guess what? Reality check again, that`s a lot of money. And I bet you you`re not making that much money on your show.

So the reality for her right now, the latest is she`s sort of trumping it up with her reality show and she really wants to be a star, Jane, but that`s the problem in this situation.

I`ll tell you something from inside court that some people didn`t see. She`s doing her makeup in the hallway because she`s going to go outside and do -- her TV show`s cameras are there. And she wants to look great while she comes out of criminal court after getting a 180 days in jail.

Just wait until she goes in that booking loop Jane, and realizes that she`s in jail. We`ll see what happens then and we`ll see if -- if they have the reality cameras running when that happens.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, let`s see if the reality cameras can get behind bars.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Alexis Neiers pleaded no contest, but she admits that she was there when Orlando Bloom`s house was burglarized.

Now, "Vanity Fair" writer Nancy Jo Sales wrote a really fascinating article about this Bling Ring also known as the Burglar Bunch. And says, Neiers turned to the other defendants inside Bloom`s house and said, quote, "What are you doing? Get me the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of here. Then she went outside and threw up and peed in the bushes."

And here`s another quote that shows another defendant Rachel Lee`s obsession with celebrity culture. Lee asked Detective Hoffman of the LAPD if she had spoken to the victims. Hoffman replied that she had spoken to all the victims. Lee became very excited and asked what did Lindsay say?

Nancy Jo, fantastic article.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What were your insights into these defendants` frame of mind? Why were they doing all this?

SALES: You know, there`s an obsession among young people with fame and celebrity culture and with material possessions, brands that I think has really gotten out of control.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It sure has. And these people, these young people epitomize what is really a social malady and a social contagion of obsession with celebrity and obsession with materialism. I agree with you 100 percent on that.

You need a scorecard to keep track of this group. So I`ll give you the scorecard: Rachel Lee, Diana Tamayo, Nick Prugo, Roy Lopez, Jr., Courtney Ames and, of course, the one in court today, Alexis Neiers.

Now, Rachel Lee, is reportedly the mastermind. Even her dad is accused of helping hide the stolen goods. Let`s go to Nick Prugo, he is accused of seven break-ins. He allegedly told investigators, he would identify targets and then research them on the Internet and find out when the stars would be out of town. Nancy Jo Sales writes about Roy Lopez, Jr., he allegedly stole close to $2 million worth of Paris Hilton`s jewelry.

And how brazen were they, Nancy?

SALES: So brazen. Out of control brazen. They were going back to these homes multiple times. They would find out when the celebrities were going to be out of town or, say on a photo shoot or something, a film shoot. And they would go back repeatedly to their homes and steal more.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So apparently they go to one star`s home like six times -- the chutzpah.

Ok. More on this Bling Ring at the other side of the break.



BRETT GOODKIN, LAPD: Is there some aspect of this that this burglary crew targeted these people because of a fascination with celebrity? Oh, there`s absolutely that. But this wasn`t a scavenger hunt of young, crazy kids just trying to get close to celebrity and this was the best way they could do it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s my big issue tonight. Entitled to steal? This gang of Bling Ring teenagers acted like the law didn`t apply to them, because, as far as they could tell, it didn`t, until now.

They had this mentality that because we are who we are, we`re not really stealing. This is kind of performance art. We`re just being renegades. We`re living large.

Here`s Alexis on the reality show "Pretty Wild" on E! acting like she`s just another 18-year-old.


ALEXIS: I find myself just to be a normal, typical teenage girl. I`m like, big into shoes and handbags.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Did you have any compassion or sympathy for these kids, Nancy, or did you just feel that they`re spoiled brats who deserve what they get?

SALES: Well, have you seen the show? I mean, there are some -- it raises some parenting questions. On the other hand, if I came home and found my house ransacked, I wouldn`t be too happy either. So I think that they should be punished.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I absolutely thing they should. Lisa, go ahead.

BLOOM: Jane, look, teenagers don`t commit crimes in a vacuum. This show "Pretty Wild" encourages three underaged teenage girls to be pretty and wild. And that`s about it. I mean their single mom, who is a former "Playboy" model, encourages them to model lingerie even when they`re underage, to learn pole dancing, and schooling -- home schooling consists of cutting pictures out of fashion magazines.

These girls were raised to be this way. Of course at 18, she`s responsible for her own behavior. But how dare a network exploit a family like this that is clearly giving very bad messages even encouraging crime among their own children.


SALES: Can I just say one thing? I agree with everything you said except that she`s not a single mom and there`s nothing wrong with being a single mom.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, there`s nothing wrong with being a single mom. BLOOM: I`m a single mom, too. Of course -- I`m a single mom. I`m not saying -- there`s a stepfather in the family, that`s true.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, no, I believe she`s married. One at a time.

BLOOM: -- supposedly home schooling them, teaching them to pole dance.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, Nancy, go ahead. Make your point.

SALES: I thought she was married. I could be mistaken.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I mean, the bigger issue I think is why did these kids become this way. What is the commonality? Why do they have this lack -- the values that are really I would call an absence of values? There is a tremendous superficiality. There is a sense of entitlement. There`s a haughtiness. There`s a materialism that is really toxic.

You know, at one point on her reality show "Pretty Wild" on E! Alexis even dares to leave the country though she is out on bail. Check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can leave. We can`t do nothing to stop you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But if you don`t come back, we`ll have our bond holders in your house. They will be all over your family trying to locate you. And they won`t be as courteous as the police is.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We only have a couple of seconds. I thought the most telling line was they thought what they were doing was, quote, going shopping.

SALES: Yes, that`s what they called it, going shopping, burglarizing homes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But they were specifically burglarizing homes of the stars because they wanted to wear the clothing of stars. It`s such a commentary on our society or obsession with celebrity.

Thank you, fantastic panel.

You are watching ISSUES on HLN.