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Judge to Allow 911 Calls in Casey Anthony Trial

Aired July 15, 2010 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight explosive legal battles ignite the Casey Anthony case. Her mother and brother have now been forced to testify in open court. Tonight the fight to have Cindy`s emotional 911 calls thrown out.

CINDY ANTHONY, CASEY`S MOTHER: I found my daughter`s car today, and it smells like there`s been a dead body in the damn car.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can these calls from her own mother be used to put Casey away forever or worse?

And an ugly family feud turns vicious. Tensions mount in the desperate search for a mother in Texas. Julie Ann Gonzalez has been missing for more than three months. Her family is pointing the finger at her estranged husband. Now he`s firing back at Julie Ann`s mother, claiming she`s abusing his daughter. Is he just seeking revenge? Tonight I`ll talk one-on-one with Julie`s desperate mom.

Plus Lindsay Lohan checks into a sober living house. Is the hard- partying superstar trying to get clean or just trying to avoid jail time?

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, breaking news. A massive -- and I mean massive -- victory for the prosecution in the Casey Anthony murder case. Cindy Anthony takes the stand, coming face to face with her daughter, the defendant, Casey Anthony. The entire Anthony family in court for an epic battle over three panicked, chilling, 911 calls made by Cindy Anthony exactly two years ago today. How bizarre is that timing? The very moment Cindy found out her 2-year-old granddaughter Caylee had been missing for more than a month.


CINDY ANTHONY: There`s something wrong. I found my daughter`s car today, and it smells like there`s been a body in the damn car.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The judge just ruled the calls are in. They will be presented as evidence.

Casey`s defense desperately wanted Cindy`s damning 911 calls off the table, calling them hearsay, arguing Cindy heard George say the car smelled like a dead body, that she just repeated it to the 911 operator to get cops to rush over to the house on that crucial day exactly two years old today.

Cindy was called to the stand, sworn in and grilled about how she said the car smelled like death. Check it out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the 911 call, did you tell the 911 operator that "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"?

CINDY ANTHONY: Yes. At the time, I don`t know. I mean, there was something wrong. I just said whatever I could -- whatever I was thinking at that time to get them to come out there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the one that told you that it smelled like there`s been a dead body in the damn car was your husband, George? Correct?

CINDY ANTHONY: He told me that that was his first thought, yes.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: A frail-looking Casey remained calm and stoic until her brother Lee took the stand and mouthed, "I love you."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You may have a seat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Please tell the court your name.

LEE ANTHONY, CASEY`S BROTHER: Lee Alexander Anthony.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m assuming you weren`t speaking to me just now.

L. ANTHONY: Absolutely not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I didn`t think so. How are you related to the defendant, Casey Marie Anthony?

L. ANTHONY: She is my sister.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: When Lee was up there, that was also the only time Casey cracked a smile.

So many stunning new developments tonight, and I want to hear from you a home. Give me a holler: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to my fantastic expert panel, all really expert in this case. But first to Beth Karas, who is at the courthouse.

Beth, what is the very latest?

BETH KARAS, CORRESPONDENT, TRUTV`S "IN SESSION": Well, you know, there were three motions that the judge took up today. The defense prevailed on two and they lost on the 911 calls. That is the big story today, that these three 911 calls will be in evidence should the state choose to present them.

But the state also -- I mean, the defense won their motion to have that list of evidence that the experts looked at the last few days sealed so we can`t see what evidence they looked at.

Also, they won a little bit regarding these Texas EquuSearch documents. They`re going to be able to take notes when they review these documents, and there will be a special magistrate looking at the ones they want copies of to see if they`re relevant.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But the big, big news is the news about the 911 calls. I heard, Beth, that Jose Baez just walked past your chair moments ago. Did you get a chance to say anything to him?

KARAS: Yes. Actually, he doesn`t want to come on air, but he`s sitting next to me. He`s -- he watches your show often, and he`s listening to the show now. But you...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Come on, Jose. Come on, Jose, you`re right there. Come on, let`s at least see you. Lean in. Peek in and at least show your face for one second. Come on. Let`s pull back and see Jose Baez. Come on, Jose. Come on. There you are. OK. I`m glad you`re listening to the show. You sure you don`t want to say anything? He probably not miked up yet. Maybe we`ll convince him by the next segment to mike up.

KARAS: But I can tell you, Jane -- he`s listening but he doesn`t have a mike on. Very careful. All day he`s been saying no to me.

But the defense really was concerned about the statement we`re talking about, which is it smelled like there was a body in the car. That really was a big concern of theirs, and that was a blow to the defense today. But they understand that 911 calls typically do come in because they`re made close in time to the event that`s being described in the call.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: In one of the most emotionally-charged moments, Cindy told the court that she`d always held out hope that little Caylee would be found alive, and then she blurted out this bombshell. Listen carefully.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You wanted them to keep searching for a live Caylee?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you`re clear about that?

CINDY ANTHONY: Oh, absolutely. I -- I still think Caylee is alive.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whoa! And you see there that Casey began sobbing.

Little Caylee Anthony`s body was, of course, found in December of 2008. That was the first time that we saw Casey get emotional in this court hearing today. You can see her tearing up.

Drew Petrimoulx, you were in the court for this dramatic moment. Tell us all about it.

DREW PETRIMOULX: Well, this is actually something that I reported a couple months back. If you go back and look at some of the letters she wrote to Casey in jail, she still believes that Caylee is still alive.

And when she said that in court today, a hush kind of fell over the people that were there and everyone kind of looked at each other, because I don`t think everyone in the courtroom had realized that she has been -- she has said that before. So didn`t get a chance to have her explain exactly what that was.

I did ask Jose Baez about it, and he said that he heard what she said. But as to the substance of it, I should ask -- ask the Anthonys` lawyer.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, the big ruling again, the 911 calls are allowed in. We`re going to play a little game here so that we can show the viewers precisely the arguments that were used.

Starting with Jayne, 30 seconds to summarize the defense argument. Then we`re going to go to Stacey, 30 seconds to summarize the prosecution argument. And then to Judge Greg Mathis, host of "The Judge Mathis Show," to summarize what the just decided. We`ll start with Jayne. You`ve got 30 seconds.

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I would first argue that the prejudice far outweighs the probative value and that it`s so prejudicial it should stay out of the courtroom. It`s not necessary.

Next I would argue, like Jose did, that it was not an excited utterance because we know that the two prior calls were contrived. They were made up. Therefore, it`s not as if it`s coming out of the sky to say that it was only a luring and bait to get Casey to talk and to get the police to come over. That`s all it was there for. It was not said for the truth of the matter asserted and therefore, it shouldn`t be admissible.

You know, hearsay -- in the real (ph) of hearsay...

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: OK. If you wanted the police to come over, why not call up and say, "Hey, somebody is here with a gun"? Come on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re not on the witness stand yet, Mike Brooks.

OK, Stacey Honowitz, you`ve got 30 seconds to summarize the prosecution`s argument.

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: The prosecution`s argument is crystal clear. First of all, always in a criminal case, you`re going to have prejudicial facts that come out that defense doesn`t want the jury to hear. This is prejudicial, but it`s also an excited utterance. It meets the test of an exception to the hearsay rule.

These statements were made at the time of the event -- near or at the time of the event under the state of mind when she was thinking that she smelled a dead body. It`s an excited utterance, and it meets the exception. That`s why the judge ruled the way that they did.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Judge Greg Mathis, now summarize the judge`s decision in plain English.

JUDGE GREG MATHIS, HOST, "THE JUDGE MATHIS SHOW": Well, as both counsel said, an excited utterance is when something is said so quickly off the top of your head that a court would rely on it, because you can`t lie that quickly, if you will.

In this case, I think that two of those statements would be an exception using excited utterance, because it came off the top of her head, and you could rely on it because it wasn`t contrived. One of those statements was contrived, because the husband coached her to say it. And so I would have admitted two into evidence and would have excluded one of them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. That`s 30. All right, Mike Brooks, I know you`re chomping at the bit to say something. Weigh in.

BROOKS: No. I would say if you want the police to come to your house immediately and as she was saying, "Well, I was doing this to get the cops." Hey, why didn`t you just say somebody at the house has a gun instead of going through all these other motions?

You know, I`m not buying -- I`m not buying her story that she was trying to get the cops there right away. If that was the case, "Hey, somebody here has a gun." They`d be right there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, Lee admitted he begged Casey to tell the truth, telling her the situation would get a lot more difficult if the police showed up that day. Listen.


L. ANTHONY: I just simply said, you know, "When the officer gets here, he`s going to ask you or he`s going to say, Ms. Anthony, how are you doing tonight?" "Great." "Where`s your daughter? OK. You know, let`s go get her. Her mom is going to follow. We`re going to go pick her up.

So I was just trying to say this is what`s going to happen. And if -- what might fly with my mom isn`t going to fly with the police officer.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Drew Petrimoulx, did he seem supportive even though she in letters accused him of fondling her breasts when she was growing up, something that her dad said devastated the family?

PETRIMOULX: She did. You heard there he mouthed "I love you" to her at the meeting. That`s what set off her tears.

But he did seem supportive of her. He did seem very light-hearted about the whole thing. He was able to talk without losing control of his emotions like some of the other people in the Anthony family have done in the past. So he seemed to be supportive and he seemed to be able to talk pretty freely about what happened with the prosecution.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Testing the limits of unconditional familial love. That`s what this case is about in many respects.

Everybody stay right where you are. We`re just getting started on today`s explosive testimony. We`re taking your calls on this: 1-877-JVM- SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297. Irma, we`ll get you on the other side.

Plus, a beautiful mom vanishes in Austin. Now there`s an all-out war between her family members. Tonight I`m going to talk to this woman`s heartbroken mother.

But first, how will today`s ruling impact Casey Anthony`s murder trial?


CINDY ANTHONY: I asked her if she opened the trunk and she didn`t answer. And then she said that -- that she felt that it smelled like a dead body.




L. ANTHONY: My sister reiterated, that, mom, I haven`t seen Caylee in 31 days. She was very angry. She -- I mean, her first reaction was she had a clenched fist and hit the bed that my sister was sitting on. I`m assuming out of frustration or anger or something like that, and said, what did you do? We could have found her 31 days ago.


Tonight Lee Anthony takes the stand talking about the very moment his sister Casey finally admitted to her frantic family that her 2-year-old daughter Caylee had been missing for 31 days. That was exactly two years ago today. Two years ago today. How bizarre is that timing.

Today a judge ruled in really a dramatic courtroom session that all of those 911 calls are admissible. The jury will hear them.

Irma, Texas, your question or thought ma`am.

CALLER: Yes, thank you for taking my call.

I find it very strange that now they`re down to the real nitty-gritty, the trial, that everybody is retracting their statements or changing them somewhat 360 degrees. I mean how -- how is that.

And her brother is mouthing he loves her. Maybe -- I think the whole family knows what happens. The whole family knows something. And wouldn`t it be ironic if this girl was trying to protect somebody in her family? I wouldn`t say taking the rap for somebody. But wouldn`t that be kind of ironic? They all know something and they`re all trying to protect -- there`s something that someone don`t want to be told.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, there`s so many conspiracy theories surrounding this case, Drew Petrimoulx. You`re down there in Orlando. Was this giving us a real taste of what this trial is going to be like when it finally gets under way I don`t know how many months from now?

PETRIMOULX: Well, it depends on what level of conspiracy theory you`re talking about. I`m sure that the defense has their own idea of what happened that -- that day and they`re going to portray that.

As to some of these, you know, more wild speculations of what may have happened or maybe even what Cindy Anthony thinks -- I know that the defense doesn`t give any credence to that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, I do have to wonder how these 911 calls are going to impact the trial. Very quickly, Stacey Honowitz, you`re the prosecutor. How will -- will we have a repeat of all of this in several months with these tapes being played and these same people being called in the actual trial?

HONOWITZ: Absolutely. I mean, Jane, this is really a pivotal moment for the prosecution. These 911 calls are extremely important, and the jury will be riveted when they hear them.

This was a big move for the prosecution to get those 911 calls in. A jury is going to want to know what the mother said to the police and why she said it, what the brother had to say. This is the family, and this is the person that reported the child missing. So it is a huge impact. It will make a huge impact on the jury and to the public that`s going to be able to hear it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cindy also testified...

WEINTRAUB: It isn`t the end, though.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This 911 call she made telling police she wanted Casey arrested for stealing her car. Check this out.


CINDY ANTHONY: I have someone here that I need to be arrested in my home. And I have a possible missing child. I have a 3-year-old that`s been missing for a month.


CINDY ANTHONY: Have you reported that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m trying to do that now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did the person do that you need arrested?

CINDY ANTHONY: My daughter.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But today Cindy testified Casey did not, in fact, steal the car. Cindy says she only said that to get cops to come to her house so they could grill Casey about what happened to little Caylee.


CINDY ANTHONY: I wanted to speak to a police officer. And I didn`t think that if I said that she wouldn`t take me to see my granddaughter, that they thought that her and I might just be having an argument and think that I was some crazy grandmother and not come out and talk to me.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Judge Greg Mathis, do you think the defense is regretting right now filing these motions, given that this was an opportunity for the entire jury pool to hear all this damaging stuff again today?

MATHIS: Well, certainly they`re regretful. However, the prosecution filed the motion to enter the evidence, and they countered those motions. And as I said earlier, I think the judge ruled correctly on two of them. The third one, as we just heard, was contrived.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I understand that. But I`m trying to find out whether -- Jayne Weintraub, you`re a criminal defense attorney. Do you think Jose Baez, who`s sitting there listening to this right now, who won`t get on the camera, do you think he regrets going to this trouble, given that we all heard this damaging stuff today?

WEINTRAUB: Absolutely not. Of course not. Jose -- and I`m sure the ruling was predictable, just like many rulings in court that we see.

But the bottom line is, Jane, the case hasn`t even begun, and there is no conviction but there is a judgment. The bottom line, there`s no cause of death. There`s no manner of death.

So yes, it is a blow to the defense, but it`s not significant. Nor is it devastating to the defense that this is coming in. It was predictable that it would come in under some -- under some theory.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we`re going to have to see...

HONOWITZ: I`ll tell you what. I think that the witness...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... the emotion in Cindy`s voice. They say 99 percent of communication is nonverbal. I think the emotion in her voice speaks volumes.

Fantastic panel, stay right where we are. We`re just getting started. More on Casey`s explosive day in court. The 911 calls are in. A jury will hear them.

Plus, is Lindsay Lohan going to sober living house to avoid jail time? Does anyone believe she actually wants to clean up her life?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You connected the smell in the car to Caylee being gone?

CINDY ANTHONY: If that`s what my mind went to, yes.


CINDY ANTHONY: I don`t know how -- you know, I don`t know how the mind works when you`re under stress. I -- you know, again, I said whatever I said.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mind-blowing developments. A judge rules three damning 911 calls made by Cindy Anthony, including one where Cindy says, "It smelled like a dead body in the damn car," will be allowed. The jury will hear them in the Casey Anthony murder trial.

Casey`s mom, Cindy, and her brother, Lee, both took the stand today in an explosive court battle that left Casey in tears.

Melinda, Michigan, your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: Yes. I have a thought. And thank you for taking my call.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you for -- what`s your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Well, Cindy is a nurse. A health professional knows the smell of a dead body. That is unmistakable.

Also, George went to the police station. He worked as a cop in Ohio. He knew what the smell was when he said that. I have no doubt she knew it and she was shocked.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we`ve got some tape to play on that very subject. Cindy testified that, when she got Casey`s car from the impound, there was a pair of Casey`s pants that smelled, quote, "terrible." So she put them in the laundry. Check this out.


CINDY ANTHONY: We just kept the car in the garage and kept all the windows open and opened up the sunroof. And I told George he needed to go on to work because he had just started a new job.

And I briefly went through the car and found a few items in the car. So I took them out to air out. And I found a pair of her trousers. And at that point, they smelled pretty bad, so I put them in the laundry.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Brooks, she`s talking about a smelly car there. And there is crucial evidence, forensic evidence that was also discovered in that car that dovetails with all of this.

BROOKS: It does. And I can tell you, having been a former investigator, once you smell a dead body, there is no other smell like it, Jane. And George knew that. Cindy knew that, too, even though today on the stand she testified that her experience was from a body in a morgue in a different kind of condition. But I still -- I still think she knew exactly what that smell was.

But I`m sure Mr. Baez and the defense team are going to bring in experts to refute the K-9 dogs who initially hit on that vehicle, as well, as hit on a spot by the pool. You know, we heard early on during one of the hearings that some of the expert testimony is going to be -- had to do with K-9 scent evidence.

So you know, it`s going to be interesting when it comes up. But the smell of death, nothing like it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And there was a hair that prosecutors say correlates with an Anthony that showed signs of decomposition in that car, as well. That`s why this is so crucial. You`re looking at the car.

Another big point of contention: whether or not Cindy knows what a dead body actually smells like. She says no. But the prosecutor said, "Hey, you`re a nurse." Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You took off the dressing of a patient in the past and that it took days to clear the smell of rotting flesh from the ventilation system.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You indicated to law enforcement that, in fact, the smell of rotting flesh is a unique smell.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stacey Honowitz, your thoughts. Ten seconds.

HONOWITZ: The bottom line is she knows what she said. She said it at that time. That`s what she meant. And so now she`s backpedaling. We`ve seen it before. She`s trying to say, "That`s not what I really meant."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s it. Back with the panel.

HONOWITZ: But we all know that that...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: An ugly family feud turns vicious. Tensions mount in the desperate search for a mother in Texas. Julie Ann Gonzalez has been missing for more than three months. Her family is pointing the finger at her estranged husband. Now he`s firing back at Julie Ann`s mother claiming she`s abusing his daughter. Is he just seeking revenge? Tonight I`ll talk one-on-one with Julie`s desperate mom.

Plus, Lindsay Lohan checks into a sober-living house. Is the hard- party superstar trying to get clean or just trying to avoid jail time?

What a huge day in court today and it all was testimony about what happened exactly two years ago today when Cindy first discovers that Caylee is missing.

Casey first confessed on that day two years ago to the day to her brother Lee that she hadn`t seen her daughter Caylee in 31 days. Cindy overheard this and then quickly, in a frantic, frantic effort to find the child, her granddaughter, calls 911.

Listen to this and you can hear Cindy frantically telling George, Caylee is missing.


CINDY ANTHONY, CASEY ANTHONY`S MOTHER: George, Caylee is missing. Caylee`s missing. Casey says Zanny took her a month ago. She`s been missing for a month.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: By the way, this is new tape for us here on ISSUES; never before heard.

Stacey Honowitz, the level of panic and hysteria in Cindy`s voice during those calls, why is that so significant? Spell it out for our audience. Why are these tapes so significant, in plain English?

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Well, what everyone is hearing now is Cindy protecting her daughter. And naturally that`s what you would expect to hear. Certainly at the time of the event, when she found out Caylee was missing, this was her true reaction.

Where is she? She`s been gone for 31 days. You never reported it. You never told us. So it`s significant for a jury to know that this is the mother of the defendant, who can`t believe that her own daughter did not report her own child missing.

The impact, the significance to the jury, to the public hearing these tapes is intense because now what we`re seeing is a different Cindy. Someone who is portraying herself as someone who didn`t really know, and she kind of understands and she doesn`t know what a dead person smells like, all the things she stated earlier were so significant she`s doing the backstroke.

That`s why these tapes that happened at the time of the event are so relevant.


MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: And, Jane, this is where the lies started too on Casey`s side. Because we heard Casey as part of these 911 tapes talking to the 911 dispatcher saying basically when Cindy went to hand her the phone, I don`t want to talk to them. But she did. And she started the lies of Zenaida Gonzalez, Zanny the nanny. And she said, well, I actually received a phone call today from Zenaida Gonzalez.

It didn`t happen. There is no Zenaida to begin with. And cell phone records show that. How are they going to defend against that?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s ask Jayne Weintraub. How is the defense going to mount -- counter act all of this?

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, probably by the truth. I mean, there is no evidence -- first of all, they don`t have to counter act everything. As you know, the burden of proof is on the state. They have to prove someone beyond a reasonable doubt is guilty of a crime. That`s number one.

Number two is I think what they`re going to be able to show very easily here is, even if there was a dead body in the car, even if there was something that wasn`t alive in that car, there are other people that had access to the car. Other family members had access to the car. I`m not blaming anyone.

I`m just saying the car was abandoned and there`s no doubt that there is no connection exactly of this person and the death. There`s no cause of death. There`s no manner of death. Just because it was in her car; it could have been another member of the family.

BROOKS: But, Jayne, why the lies to police the next day when they took her all around? Everything she told law enforcement was a lie. All the inconsistencies --

WEINTRAUB: Mike, you know why; because she panicked.


BROOKS: Thirty-one days, Jayne.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait. Hold on. I`m going to bring out the big gavel.

BROOKS: Come on, 31 days

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look at these, guys. I`m going to bring out the big gavel if you interrupt each other.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What Mike Brooks is referring to is the fact that when the cops showed up and they said, where do you work, she took them to Universal Studios and gave them a tour. And it turns out that she hadn`t worked there for ages. And so she was essentially lying about the fact that she worked at Universal.

Beth Karas, here is the question. You have covered so many trials. How is the prosecution going to weave all this into a coherent story? That`s going to be a challenge.

BETH KARAS, CORRESPONDENT, "IN SESSION": They`re going to have to make a timeline. I always thought linearly when I was making my case, as in putting together my proof. In this case, it`s going to begin with these 911 calls because that`s when the police got involved. Then they`ll go back for a month, you know, the last time she was seen and what Casey was doing in that month. That`s critical what she was doing during the month her daughter was missing and she wasn`t reporting it. And then they`ll go forward.

They`re going to have to build a timeline but I`m sure this case is going to be full of PowerPoints and charts and all kinds of things so that people can keep the players and the evidence in order. We`re all overwhelmed. Imagine the jury.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you just made a prediction, and I think it`s a very good one, Beth, that the prosecution will open with these tapes. I find that fascinating.

You`re saying that you think on day one as the jury sits down to hear this case, the tapes -- and that means Cindy and Lee -- will be back on the stand right at the start of the trial?

KARAS: Well, because these tapes are coming in independently, they don`t have to be on the stand for them to come in. They could just put a tape player in front of the jury with speakers and play it.

But I think these tapes may -- or at least the third one may be played early in the case because this is when the investigation begins. There was no case before two years ago today and these tapes --

WEINTRAUB: Jane, the whole --


WEINTRAUB: I`m sorry. The whole point of today --

HONOWITZ: Start strong and end strong. That`s the bottom line of the prosecution.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Guess what, guys. We`ve got to leave it right there. Obviously, we`re going to stay on top of this. We`ll have every twist and turn in this never-ending drama.

Tonight a nasty family feud escalates in the wake of a young mom`s disappearance. Could the bitter fallout hamper efforts to solve the case? Julie Ann Gonzalez vanished back in March. Her family fears the worst.


DORA COOPER, JULIE GONZALEZ`S AUNT: Someone lured her or someone abducted her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Julie`s estranged husband George de la Cruz said she showed up at their place to pick up their 2-year-old daughter but he says Julie left without little Layla and nobody has heard from her since.

Listen to the husband.


GEORGE DE LA CRUZ, HUSBAND OF MISSING WOMAN: I got plans this weekend, can you please take care of her? I`m like, ok, yes. And I said, so when are you going to come pick her up. She said I`ll let you know. I`ll call you whenever I want her. I said is it going to be this weekend? She said yes.

So, like I said, I never thought anything bad was going to happen. So I said, well, ok.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Police never named George a suspect or even a person of interest. But Julie`s family insists that he`s hiding something. We witnessed some of the family drama right here on ISSUES. Listen to this.


DE LA CRUZ: I want to be there with her but I know I`m not wanted. So why be there if everybody is going to look down on me?

GIL SOTO, UNCLE OF JULIE ANN GONZALEZ: Well, Julie didn`t trust you and you know that. Ever time Julie went to go meet you with Layla to do the exchange, she always was escorted because she didn`t trust you. This particular time she wasn`t escorted and this happens.

So you have to understand us. We don`t trust you because of what you`ve done in the past.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now George is firing back with some shocking allegations of his own. He claims Julie`s mom, Sandra Soto, has abused their 2-year-old daughter. We have to stress we on ISSUES cannot confirm the allegations so we`ve essentially invited both sides on to debate it.

But first, Mike Brooks, what`s really troubling everyone is that there`s no development, no new development in this case. This girl disappears. The cops are saying nothing. We called them today. They`re like nothing new, nothing new and click.

BROOKS: And there isn`t anything new. They served some search warrants, Jane. It`s just -- where is she? There`s been so many different stories about two people being sighted at the house when she went over to George`s house. The search warrant, as I said, was served at George`s house. They took his computer. They looked at a lot of different things. But nothing. Nothing at all.

Jane, did anything ever come of that computer guy that someone talked about that she allegedly may have been meeting somewhere? You know, there`s so many different stories out there.

And now the attorney for George is saying that a family member threw a rock through his client, George`s, window. So --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Thank you, Mike. And I want to bring in now the attorney for George de la Cruz, Patrick Fagerberg.

I have to say that when I first heard this accusation that your client is claiming that the missing woman`s mom abused their 2-year-old daughter. I thought, well, he`s trying to get back at her because she pointed the finger at him. So this is tit for tat.

PATRICK FAGERBERG, ATTORNEY FOR GEORGE DE LA CRUZ: Well, Jane, I didn`t hear any of the previous conversations. Our connection was bad.

But let me make something clear. When Julie went missing, my client voluntarily gave Sandra access to Layla three and four days a week even though he had no legal obligation to do so.

When Layla came home and made an outcry that Sandra was hitting her in the face, I told my client to not give her access anymore to Sandra. The next day, my client took his daughter to Child Protective Services, where they did a forensic interview. And they determined through three different workers that her outcry was credible.

Since then, I told my family --


UM1: -- do not give her access. She -- apparently, Sandra has lawyered up and is trying to gain legal access.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, I`ve got to say this. We called child -- Texas Child Protective Services. They would not comment and the cops are saying nothing. We cannot independently confirm the serious charges.

And on the other side the break we`re also going to talk to Sandra Soto, the mother. But I`m going to ask you as well on the other side of the break how does a 2 year-old explain that? And were there any injuries, visible injuries? Do you have photographs of those coming up?

Also, has Lindsay Lohan really decided to sober up or is she just trying to avoid the slammer?

But first, Julie Ann Gonzalez missing for more than three months; have cops dropped the ball in this investigation?



DE LA CRUZ: I kind of feel bad because I was the last person. I should have done a little bit extra to find out what was wrong if there was something wrong. Because it`s been a month and there is nothing that we have heard from her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was George De La Cruz here on ISSUES back in April. His wife Julie has been missing since March. They were going through a divorce when she disappeared. George claims he`s got no clue as to what happened to Julie and now he`s throwing some pretty nasty allegations at Julie`s mom claiming that she`s abusing the couple`s 2-year- old daughter.

We`re here with Patrick Fagerberg, the attorney for George De La Cruz. What proof is there -- are there bruises on this child? How can a 2-year- old articulate something like that?

FAGERBERG: Jane, let me make something clear. George is not throwing allegations at anybody. Layla came home and made an outcry to George`s mom. At that point, I told --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What outcry? What outcry?

FAGERBERG: That -- the outcry is that Sandra is hitting me in the face.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A 2-year-old said that?

FAGERBERG: Yes. And then the next day I told George, take Layla to Child Protective Services and have them do a forensic interview with her to determine whether or not those allegations are substantiated.

I didn`t take her word for it or George`s mom`s. I said take her to CPS and let the professional determine whether or not those allegations are true. And they determined that, yes, they were. And that`s when I said, you will not see Layla until Sandra has gone through a full thorough CPS investigation to determine whether or not that`s a safe place for Layla.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right now --

FAGERBERG: Let`s be sure -- there is no legal obligation for George to allow Sandra to see Layla. He did it because he wanted to. And he wanted Sandra to visit with Layla.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So all right. All right, so you`re saying that the child isn`t being used as a pawn in this battle.

Now, George, who has not been named a suspect at all or a person of interest did appear on the "Dr. Phil" show where he reportedly failed some sort of polygraph test. Let`s listen to this.





DE LA CRUZ: I don`t know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me the truth, George.

DE LA CRUZ: I don`t know, mommy. I don`t know. I wish I knew. I really wish. You think I like this? You think people thinking that I had something to do with it?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Patrick, I can certainly understand -- him being upset if he had nothing to do with this and he`s being portrayed in that manner.

FAGERBERG: Jane, let me be real clear at this point. My concern is not only for George and his family and Layla. Ok. We are going to go to court August 5th and a judge is going to determine whether or not Sandra is fit to have visitations with Layla.

It is not being used as a pawn. Had it be used as a pawn, George could have denied Sandra access from day one. But he didn`t do that. He wanted Layla to visit with Sandra. But when she came home and made allegations of abuse, in the best interest of the child, until we know for sure that Layla is not being abused we are not going to let her see her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right --

FAGERBERG: Furthermore --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- thank you.

FAGERBERG: -- let`s talk about retaliation. The day after we went to court, that got continued, someone in Sandra`s family threw a metal object through George`s mom`s car.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Guess what --

FAGERBERG: So that`s the only retaliation and abuse that`s going on in her family --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I hear you. We`re trying to get both sides here. So thank you, sir, for your side.

Now we`re going to go to the other side. We have Sandra Soto here. This is the missing woman`s mom. And you`ve been listening to all this, Sandra. What do you have to say for yourself?

SANDRA SOTO, JULIE ANN GONZALEZ`S MOM: Ridiculous. Ridiculous. It`s just another one of George`s schemes. Who -- let`s get to the facts really. Who is the one that is mentally unstable? Who is the one who failed a polygraph? Who is the one who has been hospitalized for trying to kill himself? I mean, let`s get real. Where is the truth?

CPS never investigated me. To tell you the truth, CPS said this is just what Layla said and we are backing out. They said there is not an investigation. We are not going to investigate you. There is no charges against you. There is nothing against you. You guys are just going to have to figure it out in court.

And so CPS backed out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, we have heard that there was a hearing in August -- we`d heard there`s a hearing in August about all this. Is that -- is there a hearing coming up?

SOTO: Yes, there is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, so does that mean that there is an investigation if there`s a hearing?

SOTO: No. The hearing is about custody of Layla. That`s what the hearing is about. I am not --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you want full custody of Layla?

SOTO: Definitely. I mean, the facts speak for themselves, Jane. We have -- look at all the strikes against George. Look at all the strikes against George. You know, have they looked at my record? I don`t have anything on my record. I don`t have anything to hide.

FAGERBERG: Jane, I`ll tell you what, we will come back --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait, one at a time.

SOTO: I have never been -- I have never been investigated by CPS. See, he had to sign an agreement to have adult supervision with him and his daughter.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok you know what --

SOTO: You know, CPS never gave me an agreement.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I can`t -- I cannot confirm any of that. We`re trying to figure out what happened to your daughter. And that`s the bottom line.

SOTO: That`s right. That`s right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, I have to say she disappeared. We`ve been critical of the cops initially for not really checking out what happened to her. And then we heard that Julie`s neighbor came forward last month and essentially said he saw Julie the day that -- the day she vanished with two mysterious men in her back yard.

And George`s mom said she found a suspicious hole inside a shed in the back yard of the couple`s home.

Now, take a look at this picture, these are allegations that this hidden hole could have been used to stash drugs and cash. So my question is, do you know if police have been out to inspect this shed? Do you have any idea who these two mystery men are? And could they be the responsible for your daughter`s disappearance?

Well, you know, the shed is in the back of George`s yard. The mystery men, I have no idea. Those are not Julie`s neighbors. Those are George`s neighbors.

If they went to George`s house, maybe they were looking for George. George has not worked since last December. Who you think has time to dig a hole in the ground? George.

Julie has been working 40 hours a week. She takes care of her child. She has no time to go back there and dig a hole in the ground. George is sitting around twiddling his thumbs all day. What do you think?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, again, we must say, he`s not a person of interest. Thank you.

Our primary goal is to find your daughter. We are going to come back to you soon.

Up next, Lindsay Lohan.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It seems Lindsay Lohan is doing everything in her power to avoid her 90-day sentence in the slammer which is coming right up next week. The troubled starlet was spotted checking herself into Pickford Loft; that`s not a condo complex, it`s a sober-living house in Los Angeles.

Just yesterday she did this. Less than a week before she has been ordered to report to jail. The facility was opened by attorney, Robert Shapiro of O.J. fame who could potentially be taking over Li-Lo`s case.

The former O.J. Simpson attorney has reportedly contacted the DA but does not intend to appeal the judge`s sentence.

Joining me now: the fabulous Kim Serafin, senior editor of "In Touch Weekly". Kim, if she is not going to appeal, why is she checking into sober house just days before she is supposed to surrender?

KIM SERAFIN, SENIOR EDITOR, "IN TOUCH WEEKLY": Well, the reports are that she wants to maybe show the judge that she is taking some positive steps. Or at least Robert Shapiro, this is his idea; reportedly he is her new lawyer. And they want to show that she is trying to take steps that she needs rehab, not jail. And that she is trying to do something to take responsibility for what she has been accused of and what she`s done.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And now, I have to point out in her probation report it showed she tested positive for opiates, including amphetamines. She`s apparently allowed according to the courts to take a whole bunch of mind-altering substances that are prescription pills. So, I mean my big question is when she goes in there, is she going to take the pills with her and is she going to be allowed to keep popping them?

SERAFIN: Yes. I mean, of course, as you mentioned, there have been five different prescriptions that reportedly she is on and that she`s allowed to take.

Now, this, of course, is a sober house. It is rehab, but it`s called transitional living for people in recovery. And it definitely, from the web site, it is certainly a nicer place than jail. They have flat screen TVs and designer kitchens.

But it is a sober house. So hopefully she is trying to show the judge that at least she is doing something and maybe they will alter her jail sentence. Maybe they can`t completely eliminate the jail sentence but maybe they can convince the judge that she`ll be allowed to go to rehab first and then do jail time.


SERAFIN: Or maybe they can eliminate jail time completely by just doing rehab. I think that is what the goal is. That`s what the reports are. That`s apparently what Robert Shapiro is planning for her according to reports.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It seems very hard to put a celebrity behind bars in the City of the Angels.

Lindsay Lohan, by the way, is coming out with a chilling new song. That`s right. She`s decided this is a perfect time to release a new song. And it`s been leaked to Listen to this.


LINDSAY LOHAN, ACTRESS: Hit by a train falling from a building crashing my car come flying through the windshield. Falling in love with you I`m heading to get me killed. I`m too young to die.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kim, the lyrics say "I`m too young to die". I mean that`s really disturbing on so many levels. Does it give us insight into this 24-year-old`s state of mind?

SERAFIN: Yes. I mean that and so many other things. I mean she is clearly afraid of going to jail and Dina Lohan -- except that Dina Lohan did an interview with "In Touch" where she said Lindsay is very afraid of going to jail. And maybe this is finally starting to knock some sense into her. But I think she really does need to take these steps.

She needs to show the court, she needs to show everyone that she really understands what she did. She`s trying to take responsibility for this. But I think that song gives us a little bit of insight into what she has been going through.

She has a long way to go, of course. And again, this is the fourth time that she`s been in rehab. So hopefully something will eventually help her and knock some sense into her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree. As much as we razz her, we do hope she gets help. We hope she turns it around. We`re on her side.

You are watching ISSUES. Thank you, Kim.