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Defense Opening Statement: Caylee Anthony Drowned in Pool

Aired May 24, 2011 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, it`s the moment we`ve all been waiting for. Gripping opening statements kick off the Casey Anthony trial. The prosecutor has Casey sobbing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened between June 16 and July 15? Where was Caylee Marie?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Then, Jose Baez delivers the explosive mystery explanation everybody`s been waiting for, and it`s a shocker.

JOSE BAEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: First off, I`d like to tell you what happened.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got complete in-depth analysis, and we`ll take your calls.

Plus, Oprah Winfrey is closing the curtains after 25 years. Now we`re looking back at the queen of talk`s most controversial moments as we bring you wall-to-wall coverage of the Casey Anthony murder trial. It`s all here.

ISSUES starts right now.



BAEZ: How in the world can a mother wait 30 days before ever reporting her child missing? That`s insane. That`s bizarre. Something`s just not right about that.

Well, the answer is actually relatively simple. She never was missing. Caylee Anthony died on June 16, 2008, when she drowned in her family`s swimming pool. As soon as Casey came around this corner and went back, she saw George Anthony holding Caylee in his arms. She immediately grabbed Caylee and began to cry. And cry. And cry.

And shortly thereafter, George began to yell at her, "Look what you`ve done. Your mother will never forgive you, and you will go to jail for child neglect for the rest of your frickin` life."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a mind-blowing defense in the opening statements in the Casey Anthony murder trial. Casey`s lawyers promised jaw-droppers, and boy did they deliver.

The defense now claims little Caylee accidentally drowned in the family swimming pool and that George and Casey found her dead and the two of them covered it up. The defense says little Caylee was never missing at all. Not for one solitary second.

Then, defendant Casey Anthony broke down sobbing when her lawyer, Jose Baez, introduced the second shocking premise of the story, that Casey suffered sexual abuse at the hands of her own father, George.


BAEZ: This child at 8 years old learned to lie immediately. She could be 13 years old, have her father`s (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in her mouth and then go to school and play with the other kids as if nothing ever happened. Nothing`s wrong. That will help you understand why no one knew that her child was dead.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why is she crying? Because it`s the truth or because she knows it is a lie?

Jose argued that Casey kept her child`s accidental drowning death a secret for 31 days because she was brought up to lie by dysfunctional parents, a mom and dad who sat in the courtroom listening to their daughter`s lawyer trash them.

Meantime, after Jose Baez wrapped up his opening statement, the prosecution puts their first witness on the stand, and it`s none other than Casey`s father George. After defending Casey for almost three years, George completely refutes Jose`s claim that he knew about the accidental drowning and sexually abused his daughter Casey. I guess he realized, "It`s either Casey or me, and I guess I`ve got to defend myself."

We have so many clips to play for you tonight. So much to talk about. I am taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

First, straight out to "In Session" correspondent Jean Casarez. She was in the courtroom. Jean, what was it like watching Cindy and George listen as their daughter`s lawyer trashes them? And what was the jury`s reaction?

JEAN CASAREZ, CORRESPONDENT, "IN SESSION": You know, Jane, I was upstairs in the gallery, and I looked down. And there were Cindy and George Anthony. Cindy had a teddy bear on her lap. And George had the Bible. And he was going through the Bible reading the passages early this morning before everything started.

But when Jose gave that opening statement, it took this trial and it put it on a completely different course because now you have a father versus a daughter.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but the jury, what was the expression of these jurors as they heard all these shockers?

CASAREZ: The jurors had no -- they weren`t taking notes, Jane. They were focused. They were stoic. They were intense and just listening and taking it all in. And tonight, I`m sure they`re very confused.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, they were restraining themselves, because we were watching this, obviously, on the feeds and everybody, from the hair and makeup people were all like, "Whoa, wow, one shocker after the other. My gosh, my God." That was erupting throughout the day.

Now, one of the most shocking moments of the day came when Jose made this comment about Casey`s childhood. Listen.


BAEZ: This family must keep its secrets quiet, and it all began when Casey was 8 years old and her father came into her room and began to touch her inappropriately. And it escalated, and it escalated.

What does a sex abuse survivor look like? They wear scarlet letter? They have a tattoo on their forehead?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here is my big issue. Could this defense strategy backfire?

Casey accuses her father of sexually assaulting her and points the same accusation pretty much at brother Lee. If jurors don`t buy this defense story that Caylee accidentally drowned. Will that make the jurors despise Casey and be more likely to convict her and vote for the death penalty? Couldn`t they regard her as a woman capable of murdering her own daughter and then accusing her own brother and father of sex abuse, essentially destroying her family to save her own scalp? Mike Brooks, HLN law enforcement analyst?

MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I tell you what. She`s been lying all along. Who`s to say she`s still not lying about the sexual abuse? We don`t know. Are they going to have to get her on the stand for her to get up there and for her to tell her story? That remains to be seen, Jane, but I tell you what. It`s far from over.

This case has a long, long way to go, and maybe Jose Baez bit off a little bit more than he can chew today, but that remains to be seen.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Louise, Florida, your question or thought, ma`am. Louise?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: HI. I`m so grateful to get a hold of you.


CALLER: I have two things for you.


CALLER: I think the opening statement from Baez really kind of closed the case for Casey. It`s too much mud-slinging. And for two years Casey has not been able to see her parents, and I think Jose is behind that, because they knew that they were going to have to use them as the scapegoat.

But there`s a comment that I want to make, that has -- I have never heard anything about, from the beginning, no one has ever picked up on this. On the day that she went missing, they all claimed she went missing on June 9.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, yes, we`ve talked about that ma`am. Then it turned out there was video of the little girl with her great-grandfather, on June 15, Father`s Day and Casey had to change her story, and that`s another lie.

But Jeff Brown, this caller is saying essentially what I`m saying. Could this boomerang? Could this defense boomerang, because it is really attacking her own family?

JEFF BROWN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: This is a huge, huge mistake. Set aside the emotional bombshell, but you know there are no facts to support any of this. You didn`t hear about DCF reports. You didn`t hear about any witnesses are going to come forward and say anything. So you have to be left with the belief that the only way he`s going to prove sexual abuse is through Casey.

And as Mr. Brooks just indicated, we know one thing about Casey, is that she never tells the truth about anything. So this is a huge mistake, I think. I think the government is now going to go through the next eight weeks blasting this story. You`re going to hear them blasting it in closing arguments. The jury is going to realize that he`s not -- Baez is not proving up any of this. And let me tell you, he does has to prove it up. Forget what you learned in law school.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Vinnie Politan, I hear that you`re nodding. Yes or no nodding?

VINNIE POLITAN: I agree. I think Casey Anthony, I think to prove any of this, has to get up on the stand. I was wondering whether George Anthony would concede any of this in an even more jaw-dropping moment. That didn`t happen. She`s got to get up there and tell that story.

Otherwise, if I`m a juror and you`re throwing your whole family under the bus and you`ve got nothing to prove it, I `m going to think the worst of you. I may believe the prosecution theory about the duct tape around the mouth and that you`re a murderer and someone who`s so evil that to save yourself you would spare your -- you wouldn`t spare your family. You`d throw your family under the steam roller.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now get this. OK? They are now claiming accidental drowning. Well, we found an old clip of Casey, if you`re dubious about the pool drowning story. Guess what? Casey and her mom were, too. Check out this clip from a jailhouse conversation back in August 2008. Listen to this.


CINDY ANTHONY, MOTHER OF CASEY: It`s blowing up at the media.


CINDY ANTHONY: Someone just said that Caylee was dead this morning, that she drowned in the pool. That`s the newest story out there.

CASEY ANTHONY: Surprise, surprise.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jayne Weintraub, I know you`re close to the defense. Casey is in a jailhouse tape, knocking the pool drowning story. Hello?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Say it again. Say it again.

WEINTRAUB: I think that Casey was trying to tell her mother -- remember, she`s being tape recorded. She knows it. She`s telling her mother, "Look, the truth is coming out. The pool story is coming out." Remember what happened here?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whoa. Whoa, whoa, who, whoa. She -- she`s making fun of the pool story, Jayne.

WEINTRAUB: No. She`s indicating to her mother, and she`s maybe nervously laughing. We don`t know. We know that she`s letting Cindy know, the pool story is out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable. Well, I guess we`re just getting started.

WEINTRAUB: And the fact that there`s no DCF report? I mean, what sexual victim? Are we going to blame her now of being a victim of sexual abuse? They did a paternity test on Lee.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold it. Jeff Brown. Jeff Brown, go ahead.

BROWN: There`s not a single piece of evidence that he offered, other than we`re going to hear from Casey. She`s throwing -- she`s throwing her father under the bus on a horrible accusation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And her brother.

BROWN: And her brother. There`s not a single witness that she`s going to offer. That`s despicable.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Everybody, hang tight. We`re just getting started, and we`re taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. There is so much Casey Anthony craziness to talk about. We`re going to cover it all here tonight.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The story of this case is not about Casey Anthony. It is about what happened between the photograph taken on Father`s Day, June 15, 2008, and the photograph taken on December 11, 2008. What happened to Caylee Marie Anthony?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, breaking news. The prosecution and defense in the Casey Anthony murder trial have made their dramatic opening statements to the jury. The state went after Casey, taking her to task for partying like a rock star in the month that little Caylee was supposedly missing.

But when the defense had its turn, well, you could hear the jaws dropping right on the floor. Jose Baez claiming Caylee was never missing for a second, that she died accidentally in the family`s pool and that George and Casey covered it up.

And he also took a stab at George, accusing him of sexually abusing Casey from the time she was 8 years old, using very graphic language.

I`m taking your calls on this. And caller Joan from Pennsylvania, your question or thought, ma`am?

CALLER: Hi, Jane. I have two questions. I love your show.


CALLER: The way Casey is throwing her father under the bus after the fact, way after the fact, and writing these letters to an inmate she didn`t know, never saying anything to anybody she did know since she was 8, do you think it`s a good idea that he divulges what was in his suicide letter? That`s my first question.

And the second question has to do with the prosecution...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me -- you`ve covered a lot of ground. I`ve got to say, Mike Brooks, I`m hearing a theme here in the callers, that they are angry at the defense for, quote, "throwing the dad under the bus."

We are also not hearing any explanation of if there is this story that they, that George, you`re being looking at right here, and Casey discover little Caylee`s body having drowned in the family pool, how did they dispose of the body if they didn`t put it in the car?

BROOKS: That`s a great question. That`s something that Jose Baez may have to explain. But apparently, whoever disposed of the body -- because they talked about the duct tape. We know there was ankle duct tape over the mouth. Three pieces over the mouth of little Caylee. And also on the gas can. Also, they said that George was using -- as I said, George was using some of this duct tape to put up flyers, you know, at a public.

So were they -- was he trying to say it was George and Casey that conspired to get rid of the body. And then Roy Kronk is the one that found it, found the little body of Caylee and then took it somewhere for months and then deposited it there on Suburban Drive in December? There`s a lot of things that he didn`t explain.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and he kept saying we can`t explain everything.

WEINTRAUB: But does he have to?


BROOKS: Yes, he does. Yes, he does.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is he wants to win the case it might be good. You can`t leave that many things unresolved.

WEINTRAUB: But it`s opening statement. Only opening statement, and opening statement is just a preview of what the evidence is going to show. And let`s also remember that George`s girlfriend testified in a deposition that George confided to her in an intimate moment this was a terrible accident that has snowballed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, well that was somebody that he was lying with that could have a reason to make something up.

WEINTRAUB: Why would she make that up, Jane? What would her reason be?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, sometimes...

WEINTRAUB: In the intimacy moment like that?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... doesn`t work out, though. Well, you hear different things. It`s like "Rashomon." Let me get to this. This is so important.

OK. Minutes after the defense wraps up the opening statement, the prosecution puts George on the witness stand, witness No. 1 in this case. George flatly refused all of Jose`s claims, from the sexual abuse to Caylee drowning in the family pool. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever sexually molested your daughter, Casey Anthony?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you present in your home when Caylee Anthony died?

G. ANTHONY: No. When I heard that today, it hurt really bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you dispose of the body of your granddaughter?

G. ANTHONY: No, I did not.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Vinnie, were you shocked that George stood up for himself instead of backing his daughter?

POLITAN: I didn`t know which way it was going to go. You know, I was wondering: is George Anthony going to go along with this? And is this going to be another jaw-dropping moment? But it wasn`t.

And I think it ended up being the best moment of the day for the prosecution, because I thought George came across very credibly, completely denied all those allegations against him. And I think he withstood cross- examination, so I think George Anthony was the best thing that the prosecution had today.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I`ve got to say, I`ve got to wonder how Cindy -- what Cindy is going to do. Who is she going to side with?

More in a moment.



BAEZ: This family must keep its secrets quiet. And it all began when Casey was 8 years old and her father came into her room and began to touch her inappropriately. And it escalated and escalated.

What does a sex abuse survivor look like? Do they wear a scarlet letter? Have a tattoo on their forehead?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow, what a dramatic afternoon in the Casey Anthony courtroom for opening statements.

I am joined right now by Casey`s former defense attorney, Linda Kenney-Baden.

Linda, you know...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. You know the defense team well. Were you surprised with how far Jose Baez went with his alternate story?

KENNEY-BADEN: Well, let me put it this way. I`m not going to comment about what I knew as the defense team but as I listened to that, I was surprised that any defense team puts out their case.

However, having said that, I think that`s what gives it credibility, because usually what happens is we rag on the defense teams. They don`t say anything. They want reasonable doubt. They jab holes. Here we finally have a defense attorney that says, "This is my case and this is what I intend to prove, even though I have no burden of proof." And people are saying, now we don`t believe that. So I think we`ve got to sit back and let the jurors hear it all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, they didn`t say how, in his story, George and Casey disposed of the body. All they did was argue that it wasn`t in Casey`s car, which to me is sort of having a fall back. If the jury doesn`t believe the accidental drowning story, they don`t want them to believe that the child was in the car, because that points to Casey being responsible.

KENNEY-BADEN: Jane, they didn`t say how -- the prosecution didn`t say how the body was disposed of and when and at what point the child died either. Just because people don`t say it doesn`t mean the stories are inconsistent.

I`ve contended, and you know this from day one, that the scientific evidence regarding the air samples in this car is not ready for primetime scientific courtroom. You don`t use it in a death penalty case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, then let me talk about this incriminating evidence. The defense is claiming accidental drowning in the family pool.

The prosecutors argue this was premeditated murder. Prosecutor Linda Drane-Burdick argued months before Caylee vanished, Casey Anthony used the family computer to do some incriminating Google searches. Listen to this.


LINDA DRANE-BURDICK, PROSECUTOR: On Friday, March 21, 2008, between the hours of 2:16 and 2:28 p.m., Google searches were conducted for, quote, "how to make chloroform," quote, "how to make chloroform" with a different spelling, quote, "self-defense," quote, "household weapons," quote, "neck breaking," quote, "shovel." There were Wikipedia searches for the words inhalation, chloroform, acetone, peroxide, hydrogen peroxide and death.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: How is the defense going to explain that, Linda?

KENNEY-BADEN: Well, so you`re taking the prosecution`s word that they said Casey Anthony was the only one that had access? First of all, the defense doesn`t have to explain anything. But I think you heard a hint of how they`re going to do it. I think you heard something about Jose saying that George may have had a make-believe job. So I expect that it`s not going to be just based on time records of who was allegedly working on the day, but the defense is going to look at other records and other scientific and forensic evidence, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow, this is going to be a battle, and I think it`s going to be a long one. Thank you, Linda.

KENNEY-BADEN: Thank you, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Love having you on.

And we`re not done. We`re just warming up with the Casey Anthony case. More, next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oprah Winfrey is closing the curtains after 25 years. Now, we`re looking back at the queen of talk`s most controversial moments as we bring you wall-to-wall coverage of the Casey Anthony murder trial. It`s all here.


JOSE BAEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR CASEY ANTHONY: This child at 8 years old learned to lie immediately. She could be 13 years old, have her father`s (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in her mouth and then go to school and play with other kids as if nothing ever happened. Nothing`s wrong. That would help you understand why no one knew that her child was dead.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, Casey`s lawyer drops the bombshell explanation. He has been promising us all along with a one-two punch.

First, Jose Baez claims that Caylee accidentally drowned in the family pool and then the shocker: that George, he claims, had sexually abused Casey when she was a child and a young teenager and he used some very graphic language.

I`m taking your calls; they are lining up.

But, first, I`ve got to Casey Jordan, criminologist. When you look at Casey in the courtroom, she gets very emotional over the abuse and a lot of times she is like zoned out, just like -- almost like checked out especially during the prosecution case. What do you make of it?

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: Oh, I`m sure Jose Baez will say she`s disassociating because everything the prosecution says is a lie and that`s what she does when bad things are happening.

Listen, it was a bombshell, even though we hypothetically knew that this was the only place the defense could go. It really was a jaw-dropper when the words came out of Jose`s mouth. Even though, at the best, we`re expecting it, we`re in shock. And truly it was -- he knocked it out of the park, Jane. In terms of the defense strategy, it is brilliant.

The question is can he pull it off unless he puts Casey on the stand? I don`t think it will work unless she gets on there and delivers her side of the story and it is more credible than her father`s and I don`t know if that can happen.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Jayne Weintraub, you`re close to the defense. Do you think that Casey is going to take the stand?

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, my guess from his opening statement, having nothing to do with my discussions or relationship with the defense, my guess would be that she is going to testify and my guess would also be that when George Anthony testifies again, he will again be discredited greatly.

I think that George Anthony was not a credible witness. In Florida there`s a jury instruction that --

MICHAEL BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I disagree. And the prosecution is going to declare Casey a fraud.


WEINTRAUB: Let me say one thing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No. Let`s hear the other side.

Weintraub: Ok.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Because you`ve got two people here, Jeff Brown and Mike Brooks. Jeff, you start and then Mike. I thought he was very credible. He seemed very friendly and very humble.

JEFF BROWN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Exactly. George is painted as a monster. Within minutes the government puts him up there, he came across as anything but a monster. In fact what we did learn was Baez can`t cross- examine anybody. He didn`t know how to ask the questions. He got stopped constantly because he didn`t understand how to ask leading questions or beyond the scope. And if anything came out of that, the jury sat back and said, wow, George isn`t the monster they said he is and maybe this defense is just a defense created up by Baez. I completely disagree with Jayne.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Mike Brooks.

BROOKS: I can just say "ditto" basically with Jeff Brown as he said. I totally disagree with Jayne. You know, we disagree on occasion but I thought George was the best witness, the only witness we had but he was the star for the prosecution today.

BROWN: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well now, let`s get a glimpse of what role Casey`s brother Lee Anthony might have in this defense case. Listen to this.


BAEZ: Everyone was aware that they hid this beautiful child like a flower in the attic. And you`ll hear evidence that Casey has a brother and he, too, wanted to follow in his father`s footsteps and on certain occasions when he was a teenager, he also attempted to touch his sister although it didn`t go as far.

It got so bad that the FBI did a paternity test to see if he was Caylee`s father and when he was confronted with this information, he didn`t deny it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. So Casey Jordan, you see the dad who has vigorously defended his daughter now standing up and defending himself saying, "No, I didn`t sexually abuse my daughter. No, I wasn`t there for any accidental drowning."

Now what is going to happen with Lee Anthony and what is going to happen with Cindy? Are they also going to basically be witnesses for the prosecution against their own family member, Casey Anthony?

JORDAN: You know, they have been waiting for this moment because I don`t think they were caught off guard at all today by this. I think they anticipated it and they just needed to hear it for themselves before they decide what to do in terms of their allegiance.

Hey, did you catch the subliminal suggestion, a flower in the attic? That`s the name of a book by V.C. Andrews I read in grade school where a brother and sister had an incestuous relationship. Jose managed to slip that in there.

But you know what? Lee is going to get on the stand and he`s going to do what George did. He`s going to say it`s not true and he`s probably not going to blame his sister so deeply for trying to save her life that they are going to emphatically, systematically, without emotion deny, deny, deny everything that she says. It really is the only thing they can do. If they get too emotional it will backlash.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, hold on a second. Jayne --

BROWN: Better have other evidence.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jayne Weintraub, is it possible that --




Do you think this doting father really didn`t ask his daughter who`s pregnant until right before she`s delivering the baby who`s the father? Do you really believe that? I don`t believe that. Do you really believe --

BROOKS: What is that actually?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say this. This is a family that is dysfunctional. I completely agree with Jose Baez on that count. They are enablers, they are co-dependent and they are in denial. And they were in denial about a lot of things. They were in obvious denial about the fact that she was pregnant.

Parents do these things sometimes. It`s called the "my dog doesn`t have flees" syndrome. They cannot see that their precious little daughter is grown up and acting in a manner that would make their hair curl. It happens all the time to families.

To make the leap that because they didn`t recognize their daughter`s protruding stomach that somehow then they are complicit in this conspiracy to cover up the drowning of the granddaughter, it`s quite --

WEINTRAUB: No, Jane. It`s just the beginning of the -- it`s the lies.

BROWN: Exactly.

WEINTRAUB: It`s the lies. It`s the lack of credibility. It`s the lack of honesty and the lack of being, you know, just being honest and forthright when a lawyer asks you the question. He went around and --

BROWN: Look at Casey.

BROOKS: What about Casey?


BROOKS: You`re talking about forthright --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Mike Brooks, your turn.

BROOKS: You`re talking about forthright -- what about Casey, right from the very beginning? If she`s lied from the beginning, is she still making up stories about her father, about her brother Lee? We don`t know. That`s why I said, they better have --

WEINTRAUB: Mike Brooks, when was the last time --



BROWN: That`s why I said, they better have something besides Casey to prove these up because Casey can`t be trusted about anything that she says.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me tell you, they do have something.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jose Baez also claims that while thousands were searching for little Caylee, George was having an affair. While little Caylee was supposedly missing? George was having an affair with a woman named Crystal Holloway. So listen to this.


BAEZ: Crystal Holloway will tell you that one day they had a conversation, her and George Anthony and George began to breakdown and cry and she asked him what happened to Caylee? And he said it was an accident that snowballed out of control.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Casey Jordan, you`ve got a witness for the defense that s going to take the stand and say George admitted to her while he was having an affair with her, allegedly, that this was an accident.

JORDAN: Ok. And how credible is she? And maybe the accident that snowballed out of control is her affair with the father of this missing girl that she`s pretty much injected herself into this investigation. Honestly, it`s going to be her word against his, and since everything in their relationship demised, what does she have an axe to grind with him?

You really -- I don`t know whether she`s going to be credible enough and whether or not the jury is going to be swayed by this. The one thing we know and Mike Brooks nailed it, Casey has lied about everything always and the only hope she has is to get on the stand and say, you`re right. I`ve lied about everything always. But I`m telling the truth now. My dad tells the truth half the time so I`m credible and he`s not.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joe -- I want to go to Joe in Colorado, he`s been waiting a long time. Joe, Colorado, your question or thought, sir?

JOE, COLORADO: Hey Jane, how are you doing? Thanks for having me on. My question is I do understand that the judge did say, if there is anybody in the courtroom, any member of the court that overreacts to anything that is said or done in the courtroom, they will be held in contempt and thrown out of the courtroom immediately.

Well, obviously we all know around the nation today and everybody involved that this was quite the bombshell dropped and Jose Baez told us about this new defense. And what I`m wondering is, out of all the people that should have reacted or I think as a man would have reacted --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Was the dad?

JOE: Why Casey`s father didn`t have any facial expression?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Very good point. Jayne Weintraub, why no reaction from the dad, George?

WEINTRAUB: Because he knew it was coming. He knows the truth. He knows exactly what is happening. Did you really expect a Perry Mason moment and for George Anthony to say, yes, I admit to a capital sex battery where there`s no statute of limitations?

George Anthony sexually abused Casey and -- Jane Velez-Mitchell, you of all people know the most -- there are no witnesses to sex abuse. It happens every day. You know that these women and these girls are ingrained in their brains that it`s their fault, they deserve it, they did it, it`s their fault. And Jeff Brown --


BROWN: You have to have more than a liar. Jane you have to have more than liar. A woman who lies all the time; you need more than that before you start accusing people. I`m sorry. But she`s throwing her father under the bus and there`s nothing else there. There is nothing there. We would have heard it at opening.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I find -- I don`t know. I wasn`t there -- I wasn`t there in the household. All I know is that there`s a child who died and there`s a mother who is a pathological liar --

BROOKS: That`s for sure.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- and the lies go on and on and on. So is this a case of -- I don`t want to say this phrase -- but is it a case of somebody finally telling the truth who has lied all of their lives and this is the one time they are telling the truth?

Stay with HLN for the latest.



MADONNA, ENTERTAINER: The great thing about Oprah is that even if you don`t know her personally, you feel that you know her personally. And that`s, you know, a talent that she has to -- you know, she is very accessible.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Get set, America. Tomorrow, Oprah goes off the air. I for one am a little sad about that. Her day time talk show is ending after a whopping 25 incredibly successful years; a quarter of a century of interviews, diets, book clubs and, of course, controversy.

Yes, Oprah has had her share of scandals. And I`m going to tell you my top five Oprah scandals: stories that had the whole world talking and arguing, starting with this unforgettable moment when Oprah gave everybody in her studio audience a brand-new Pontiac G-6. Here it is from


OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: You get a car. You get a car. You get a car. You get a car. You get a car. You get a car. You get a car. You get a car. Everybody gets a car.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The only problem with this give away, everybody who got a car also got hit with a huge tax bill -- $7,000 in taxes for each one of these happy people. They weren`t so happy after that. They might have been screaming in pain.

All right. I want to go to Lisa Wexler, host of "The Lisa Wexler Show, a radio talk show host. This one kind of bit Oprah a little bit. It was like a blow back -- a car giveaway blow back, right?

LISA WEXLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Yes, a little bit. But, Jane, I`m having a little trouble hearing you. Did you say it was a blow back because of the giving away the cars and the taxes?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, that`s what I said my dear.

WEXLER: Yes. Well, yes, I mean -- but that was just a blip. I mean overall I think everybody was really happy to get their car. I don`t know if she ended up having to reimburse them for the taxes or not. Knowing Oprah, she probably wanted to make good.

But I think what is so extraordinary about Oprah, Jane, is consider -- and you`re a broadcaster yourself -- what she did for 42, 43 minutes a day, five days a week and the fact that "The Today Show" is four hours a day. Nobody has had the impact that Oprah has had with the amount of broadcasting that she has done every single day.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, speaking of impact, here`s another moment that nobody is going to forget. Octomom Nadya Suleman came on the show and she got ripped to shreds by Suze Orman. Watch this from


SUZE ORMAN, FINANCIAL EXPERT: Are you a baby addict?

NADYA SULEMAN, OCTOMOM: I think it could have been part of me --

ORMAN: Yes or no? Are you a baby addict? Yes or no?

SULEMAN: Today, no. Back then, probably yes.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. That fiery exchange was the first time anybody publicly accused octomom of being an addict. I loved it because I think she is an addict. I even wrote about that in my book, "Addict Nation".

Demetria Lucas, relationship editor, that`s why Oprah is so -- she tells it like it is. She says the things that other people think but they`re afraid to say.

DEMETRIA LUCAS, RELATIONSHIP EDITOR, "ESSENCE" MAGAZINE: And she does tell it like it is. And she also has a way of doing it with class which is absolutely amazing if you compare her to some of her contemporaries like, you know, Springer and Maury. You know, they didn`t really handle themselves with class and that`s what made Oprah stand out so much.

And in terms of octomom, you know Oprah did take a little flack for Suze Orman really just giving it to octomom like that but she needed it. You know, that was a media spectacle.


LUCAS: That was a media spectacle and someone had to be very firm with her and tell her the truth.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Someone had to give that octomom a smack down and I`m glad it was Suze Orman.

Another interview that had our jaws right on the floor: actress Mackenzie Phillips 2009, revealing a decade-long sexual relationship with her own father. Check this out.


WINFREY: How did it finally stop?

MACKENZIE PHILLIPS, ACTRESS: I became pregnant and I was in a relationship with my son`s father as well.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yikes. Mackenzie Phillips also claimed her dad gave her drugs and injected her with cocaine. This interview really blew the lid off of so many taboos.

I think this on shook -- it really shook the Hollywood community to its core, Lisa Wexler. No?

WEXLER: I think so too, absolutely. In fact, I just saw Michelle Phillips last night at an event which related to nothing whatsoever but it reminded me of that.

That was very shocking, very troubling and Oprah was famous for taking the lid off of a lot of taboos. That`s what she was famous for. She was willing to go where other people did not go.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, she told it like it is and she had tremendous empathy. She almost always seemed to have tears welling up in her eyes; connecting with people like no other person honestly that has ever really appeared on television.

Demetria, Lisa, stay right there.

Up next, we`re going to get to a dangerous tornado tearing through Missouri, ripping families apart. But we`re going to tell you about the hope. We`re going to tell you about what went right. Unbelievably, there is reason for hope in this horrific story.



NATE BERKUS, HOST, "THE NATE BERKUS SHOW": She completely understood how I was feeling at that moment. And if anyone anywhere ever asks what the magic of Oprah really is about, it`s about that level of empathy and I`ll never forget that moment.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oprah`s last show tomorrow. We`re talking about her top controversial shows.

Earlier this year Oprah introduced us to the sister she never knew she had. It was a moment that showed Oprah at her most vulnerable. Check it out.


WINFREY: Since I have been a person known in the public, there had been few times that I`ve been anywhere, and not been sold out.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oprah has always had to fight for her privacy, but in this case she really opened up. Some were even accusing her, Demetria Lucas, of using her own family as a publicity stunt. Did she go too far?

LUCAS: Well, you know, Oprah was in a really tough position with that one. I mean you`re talking about a woman who people pry into her life. Kitty Kelly has made millions off of a biography of Oprah`s book. So Oprah really didn`t have a choice but to put the information out there. Otherwise it could have been exploited in so many ways and she couldn`t leave that to chance.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Here is my number one -- drum roll please -- Oprah controversy, for me anyway. And it`s when Oprah gave her viewers a coupon for a free meal from KFC. The fast food chain was flooded with four million Oprah fans seeking a free lunch. But they also got picketed. Watch. Here is my good friend, Nathan Runkle with Mercy for Animals protest the conditions of KFC chickens.


NATHAN RUNKLE, MERCY FOR ANIMALS: They are bred and fed antibiotics to grow so large so fast that their heart and lungs and legs oftentimes can`t support their unnatural weight.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This whole episode got us talking about the terrible price when we eat fast food and Oprah knows as well as anyone this country is suffering from an obesity crisis. I was concerned, Lisa Wexler, that she promoted this kind of food.

WEXLER: I think you`re 100 percent right. And by the way, I commend you for bringing attention to that. It bespeaks the fact that Oprah herself is a woman of rather insatiable appetite. And I don`t say that to be derogatory. I think it`s a fact she seeks a lot of fame, that she seeks a lot of things, that she`s admitted to having an eating problem.

And actually if you really look at her career she`s really on to the next even bigger challenge. She`s going from a show to a network. This is who she is. I don`t criticize it, I admire it. But I recognize it.

And it`s funny because in your book "Addict Nation" you actually ask us all to take a step back from the consumerism, from the wants and to come back to a spiritual place.

Oprah is an expander. This is a woman who I don`t know inside herself she can ever feel peace and contentment with what she has.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But her brilliance is that she lets us see her, warts and all. She opens up and really acknowledges her flaws and that`s her genius.

LUCAS: Yes, Oprah has been very forthcoming about even her issues with food, her issues on drugs, her issues with men. She`s pretty much confessed it all. And that`s part of the reason that we love her so much.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I love her. I`m going to miss her but I know she`s on to a fabulous new adventure, her own network called OWN.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I have to say, we wish her the very best. She`s been a role model for so many women, women of color, women around the world. We love Oprah.

Up next, tragedy.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m 22 years old. I have a wife and two kids, four and two months old. We lost everything in the tornado. We`re just trying to salvage what we can.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The Joplin, Missouri tornado being called the deadliest twister in the U.S. in about 60 years. Today, the death toll reaches a staggering 122 people. But almost 1,500 are still unaccounted for, missing.

The tornado ripped through southwest Missouri on Sunday destroying thousands of homes, leveling hundreds of businesses. Now as new storms threaten the south, again there are stories of hope. Seventeen people have been pulled from the rubble and found alive.

Our thoughts are with the people from Joplin and we`re hoping that number of survivors continues to rise.

Nancy Grace starts now with the very latest in the Casey Anthony murder trial live from Orlando. She has an exclusive interview with George and Cindy Anthony`s attorney. You got to see that. I will.

Nancy, next.