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JOHN KING, USA

Casey Anthony Goes Free Next Wednesday; Nancy Grace Answers Her Critics; Cut Medicare and Social Security?; Texas Execution Controversy

Aired July 7, 2011 - 19:00   ET

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


JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Candy and good evening, everyone.

Tonight, cautious optimism from President Obama. The Democrats and Republicans are ready to set aside years of bitter differences and strike a deal to slash trillions from the government's red ink.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Everybody acknowledged that there's going to be pain involved politically on all sides, but our biggest obligation is to make sure that we're doing the right thing by the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: In a moment, what a deal could mean to your mortgage deduction or your Medicare costs. But, first, the crime and punishment drama that has captured the nation's imagination. Casey Anthony was back in court today.

The judge threw the book at her, yet Anthony will be a free woman out of jail and on the streets next Wednesday. Just a remarkable turn of events for the 25-year-old woman who just days ago faced the death penalty if convicted of murdering her 2-year-old daughter Caylee back in 2008.

But, remember, she was found not guilty of first-degree murder, not guilty of abusing Caylee and not guilty of manslaughter. Her sentencing hearing today was for four misdemeanor counts of lying to the police investigating Caylee's disappearance.

Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr. said he had good reason to impose a maximum sentence for each count.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHIEF JUDGE BELVIN PERRY, ORANGE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: As a result of those four separate and distinct lies, law enforcement expended a great deal of time, energy, and manpower looking for young Caylee Marie Anthony.

The search for her went on from July through December over several months trying to find Caylee Marie Anthony. Four distinct, separate lies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The judge making his disdain clear there, but the maximum sentence is four years total. Casey Anthony gets credit, though, for the time that she was held without bail.

And when you add it all up, the bottom line is, Casey Anthony will be free, released from prison next Wednesday. So let's get some reaction to that stunning turn of events from someone who makes no secret she believes Casey Anthony is guilty.

Nancy Grace of our sister network, HLN. Nancy Grace, Casey Anthony will be on the streets in a matter of days. You call her tot mom. You say she's guilty. What did you think of the sentencing today?

NANCY GRACE, HOST, HLN'S "NANCY GRACE": Well, frankly, I was stunned. I was stunned the way the entire thing has unfolded and I think that most of the public agrees with me.

But the reality is, it's over. The jury has spoken. There are no do-overs in our justice system. So we have to accept what has happened and move on.

I know that I will pick up the next file for the next missing child, the next unsolved homicide and continue forward, but this will forever remain a travesty of injustice.

KING: If Nancy Grace would have bump into Casey Anthony in the mall or if somehow you could convince her to come on your program, what would you say to her?

GRACE: Well, I don't really need to know anything about the facts. I think the facts have been adequately proven by the state, but I would like to know why.

But frankly the only thing that tot mom has ever told the truth about was Caylee's D.O.B., her date of birth. Everything else she's said since then has been a lie. So I really don't know what good it would be to speak to her.

KING: We talked just before the verdict, moments before the verdict, you were --

GRACE: And, plus, John King, I don't think I could afford what she would charge for a sit down interview any way. Apparently, her lawyer's already got a talent agent, Jose Baez. I'm sure she will soon follow. So I guess some things you just can't put a price tag on, John.

KING: We'll watch how that one plays out. We talked moments before the verdict. You were convinced it was going to go the other way. I want to remind our viewers, you were adamant when I asked you this question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Did the defense do a good enough job, sure, you might think she did it, but you can't know she did it. If you have reasonable doubt, you have to come back and say not guilty.

GRACE: John King, there you go. You don't have to know she did it the way you said. The state must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

That is not a doubt founded in fancy such as little green men could have come down and did it. That could have happened, but did it happen? What is a reasonable hypothesis as to what happened?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You've heard from several of the jurors now who've explained why they had that reasonable doubt. Do you accept their explanation? I saw one interview where you said that they are cookie.

GRACE: Well, John, they've also said that they are sick to their stomachs over the verdict that they believe she is not innocent. Now I don't know how you can reconcile that statement to other statements that they have made.

I think they're having a severe case of buyer's remorse. Now they realized that they made a bad decision and they feel bad about it, I would.

KING: I want you to listen. You mentioned Jose Baez. He was one of the lead defense attorneys. Moments ago, I want to you listen to his characterization of his client in this interview with Barbara Walters here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Describe Casey Anthony. You know her now probably better than anyone else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Casey is an extremely intelligent, kind, warm-hearted individual.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think Casey was a good mother?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What do you make of that?

GRACE: I think that he is still defending his client. I think that they have become extremely friendly over the course of the investigation and the trial.

And I think that he will always defend her. His reputation is tied into defending her. So that's what I would expect him to say. I'm not surprised at all. KING: You say much of the public agrees with you. I think that's probably a fair statement. We've seen a lot of great outrage about this verdict.

However, you're a former prosecutor. You're an attorney, so you're an officer of the court. I want you to listen to some of the things that you've said about this verdict and then we'll have a question on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Not guilty. The devil is dancing tonight. I'm not going to let some jury stop justice. A stunning blow to justice. It's not the first time somebody guilty has walked free. Tot mom is guilty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Again, as an attorney, you agree you're part of a system where it's innocent until proven guilty. Do you have any remorse for saying this, any sense that you owe Casey Anthony an apology?

GRACE: John, can I ask you, why would you ask me that? That is just so nonsense cal because clearly I think the evidence showed that tot mom, Casey Anthony was guilty.

And to suggest that somehow because I am a former prosecutor, because I am a former crime -- I am a crime victim myself, because I have a TV show now, that somehow that suspends my freedom of speech and frankly my commonsense?

That question does not make sense. Tot mom, in my mind, has been proven guilty and as far as any apologies, I think it should be her apology, apologizing to the public for spending about a million dollars of their money looking for a child that she says they already know is dead.

The Sheriff's Department is asking to pay a half million dollars bill and Texas (inaudible) just piling over $100,000 to that, but on her own defense she knew the child was dead and yet let everyone hundreds of volunteers, police, sheriffs on foot, mountain patrol, ATV looked for Caylee the whole time. The whole time she's sitting there twiddling her thumbs on Facebook.

KING: I would never question your right to freedom of speech. That's why we're here. That's why our system is the way it is. But as you know, you've become a lit bit of a lightning rod here.

I want you to listen to George Stephanopolous talking to one of the jurors. He asked her, one of the jurors who said I have reasonable doubt. He asked her what she thought of Nancy Grace.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIFER FORD, JUROR IN CASEY ANTHONY CASE: I have no comment on Nancy Grace. It's not fit for television.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you do have thoughts, you're just not going to say them?

FORD: They are negative and it's just -- there's no point in it. I think a lot of things she says just fuels the fire and they are based on nothing. I'm obviously against making decisions based on just speculation and opinions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What do you make of this? As you know, you've caught some harpoons in the last 24, 48 hours.

GRACE: Well, how many clips, critics against me are you going to show and how does that advance the story that Caylee was murdered and found rotting in a swampy field, but whatever?

What do I think about the juror disliking me or what do I have to say? You know, I didn't enter into this to win a popularity contest, John. I don't think I'm going to go home and crowned Miss Sweet Potato.

When you take a stand, when you believe in anything and you have to guts to stand up for it, you can expect criticism, you can expect being scoffed at, being ridiculed, being made fun of, but I recall back in 1979 when my fiancee was murdered that changed my life forever.

From that point on, it has been my mission to represent crime victims and to do my duty to seek justice and just because some juror that rendered a bad verdict doesn't like me or some defense attorney makes fun of me or talks about me or some talking head talks about me, I don't care.

That's not changing anything because I know what is true and what is real. So you can play all the clips you want to and it won't change a thing.

KING: Controversial and unapologetic. Nancy Grace, thanks for your time tonight.

GRACE: Thanks, John.

KING: Still ahead, the lead prosecutor in the Anthony trial also says he thinks Casey is guilty, but is he opened to changing his mind?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like the boy who cried wolf. There's really no version that Miss Anthony could give.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And, next, high stakes negotiations at the White House about letting the government borrow more money but the outcome, make no doubt about it, will affect your bottom line, too.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Here's the biggest question in Washington tonight, can Democrats and Republicans work together over the next 26 days and resolve differences that have divided them from the past decade even longer.

Things like major spending cuts, possible tax increases and politically risky changes to Medicare and Social Security? It's part of a complicated and very consequential negotiation designed to raise the government's debt ceiling or in English, to allow the government to borrow more money.

First a few days of private meetings then back to the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I will reconvene congressional leaders here on Sunday with the expectation that at that point the parties will at least know where each other's bottom lines are and hopefully will be in a position to then start engaging in the hard bargaining that is necessary to get a deal done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin with us live with the behind the scenes details. Jes, the president is talking there hoping for a big grand bargain. What is your sense?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they have to get one done. So it's sort of the opposite of a cliff hanger. We know how it will end. The question is how do they get there from here?

The big question first of all that I can report is that the president told congressional leaders at this meeting today that under no terms will he sign a short-term deal.

He is not going to accept anything other than something that raises the debt ceiling through 2012 and that is flat out a promise. He was unequivocal.

Beyond that, the question over the next few days is, how do they get to this negotiation and all eyes are on John Boehner, Speaker Boehner is the man who has to explain to them where he can get the votes, what it would take for them to deliver.

And they are really looking to him, all the negotiators, to explain what the deal would look like for him and see if they could get on board with that.

KING: Jes, let's look at some of the tough choices that they have to make. Essentially, if you have a grand deal, you have to have a number of things. Maybe Social Security means testing if you're making money, you get fewer benefits.

Maybe raise the retirement age that is likely. Probably change how you formulate the cost of living increases. One big question is they want the tax cuts to expire and Republicans say no way.

The Republicans are opening to closing loopholes, could be an increase in federal contributions, Medicare patients could pay more, could even raise the eligibility age. One of the big issues, Nancy Pelosi, she's at the meeting.

She comes out, Jes, and she says, I want to help the president. I want to get a deal, but listen here, don't touch social security.

And the other side, Jes, are the Republicans who say maybe they'll take closing some tax loopholes, but they told the president they are adamant, no increase in rates on the table.

How does the president broker this? Everybody is in a good mood right now, but they also have their red lines.

YELLIN: Well, they will not accept the raise in rates, but there is the possibility. So here's the theory. What they could do, John, is potentially agree to close certain loopholes, say certain subsidies to corporations and in exchange the corporate tax rate is reduced.

And so you can say those loopholes come out in the wash. That's one way to look at it. And then you could look over to Nancy Pelosi's side and say, maybe they could change the estate tax rules and give her something or her group something on that side.

The bottom line is, it's a bit of a parlor guessing game at this point. There are a lot of moving pieces and we can't really know what exact deal is going to click into place.

They have to figure that out over the next few days and then see if they can actually get the votes for it next week in the House of Representatives. It's really a big unknown.

KING: A big unknown that becomes like a game of whack a mole. They have a deal on one thing, but then that collapses and another one comes up. As the president said today, nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to.

Our chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin will stay on top of it. Jes, thanks. Let's get some perspective now from CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

You know, Fareed, still huge differences between the Democrats and the Republicans even among the Democrats and the Republicans, but tone matters at the beginning of negotiations like this. I want you to listen, the president sounds pretty optimistic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Everybody acknowledged that we have to get this done before the hard deadline of August 2nd to make sure that America does not default for the first time on its obligations.

And everybody acknowledged that there is going to be pain involved politically on all sides but our biggest obligation is to make sure that we're doing right by the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Do you really believe that polarized partisan Washington is about to do right by the American people?

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, CNN'S "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": The crucial sentence in what President Obama said was all parties acknowledged there was pain -- going to be pain on all sides. If that's the case, if that's an accurate representation of what the Republicans are now saying and are now feeling, that's great news.

Pain is good because what that means, we have a compromise possible. A compromise is only possible if both sides feel the pain. If there are concessions made on both sides and both sides feel that giving up something that they cherish dearly. If that's the case, this is a numbers game.

This is easy. The Democrats don't want to have big spending cuts. The Republicans don't want to have big tax increases. And there's a lot of space -- there's about $2 trillion between those two statements and you can split the difference any number of ways.

But the key is, are we at a stage where the Republican Party, in particular, has decided that they are willing to concede on the issue that they will have to be pain for them, which means tax increases, call them what you will, elimination of loopholes, deductions, however you describe it, but you're going to have to have some kind of increase in revenues.

KING: And you also can't do it to get those big numbers without going after Medicare and Social Security. The president says he's willing to do so.

The Democratic leader and the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, wouldn't even give a comment to reporter because he's mad that the president had that on the table.

Former speaker said let's deal with that separately. Who's willing to lead that conversation beyond the president? Because if you look at Pew Research Center polling, 32 percent of Americans say let's reduce the budget deficit, but 60 percent say keep Medicare and Social Security as they are. Who will lead that?

ZAKARIA: Look, the math is inevitable. You have to cut Medicare in order to make the long-term budget outlook of the United States feasible before the country to be fiscally solvent.

I think the president has done something very bold, very courageous because there was a very easy way to run his campaign next year. Let's be clear about this. He seems to be forsaking the opportunity to run a Medicare campaign, which always works because think of those numbers whether it's 60 percent, 78 percent, huge numbers of people support Medicare.

I think it's a start. Clearly Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid are less forward looking on this issue and reading the polls more carefully. But if the president of the United States comes out there and says, yes, I'm willing to consider cuts and entitlements, it changes the dynamic and it will over time mean ultimately that the Democratic Party will make those concessions.

KING: But as we watch this play out, you know, some have said, so what. The government will find ways to find money elsewhere. Default on a few loans so be it. Others have said doomsday.

I want to read something that the Council of Foreign Relations wrote on your GPS blog in this past week. If the fight over the debt ceiling turned the world's risk free benchmark into a risky asset, pandemonium would ensue.

Investors would not know which way to turn. They might hide from all risk. Think of the market meltdown following the Lehman Brothers bust and then double it. Do you believe it would be that bad?

ZAKARIA: I think there is a significant possibility that this would be the most disruptive event for financial markets ever. American treasuries are the gold standard of the modern - international economic system.

If suddenly that is cast into doubt, who knows what effect that has on euro bonds, on Chinese growth rates and all kinds of things. You can imagine ripple effects that go well beyond any simple systematic calculation. Do we really want to play with that?

Do we want to try and risk that scenario? It's possible nothing will happen, but let's say there's a 15 percent possibility, that this poses an economic magnitude that plunges the world into a second global recession. Is it really worth it?

We've got to get this straight any way. We've got to solve this problem, our fiscal problems any way. Is it really so hard to get it done? I think people who want to play this game of chicken with the credibility of the United States.

We have not in 222 years defaulted on our debt. We have an impeccable credit history. Do we really want to risk it for some political game of chicken?

KING: Stakes laid out by Fareed Zakaria. Negotiators do back at the White House on Sunday. We'll keep on top of that. Fareed, thanks for your insights.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure.

KING: In a moment, the lead prosecutor in the Casey Anthony trial. He still says he can't believe the woman he says killed her 2- year-old daughter will be let out of jail in just a few days.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If anybody could find a rational reason for why you put duct tape on a child that died by accident, then I'd love to hear it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And next in other headlines driving this busy news day including the latest on a controversial execution scheduled for this hour in Texas.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. Here's the latest news you need to know right now. We're awaiting word from Texas on this scheduled hour execution of a Mexican man convicted of raping and murdering a San Antonio teenager back in 1994.

The Obama administration and many world leaders wanted to reprieve because authorities originally did not allow him to contact the Mexican consulate that's a right guaranteed by international treaty.

The U.S. official tells CNN the accused Somali terrorist who's brought to New York this week has been in direct contact with the radical American war cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki. And the two may have been in the same place for a period of time.

The House today defeated a measure to cut off all funding for U.S. military operations in Libya, but lawmakers did narrowly pass a ban on money to train or equip the Libyan rebels.

And we've learned the great news today that CNN's Larry King will receive a lifetime achievement award at the News and Documentary Emmy Awards this September. Congratulations, my friend, well deserved.

Coming up, more on tonight's top story in just a moment. We'll hear the prosecutor who tried to convince the jury that Casey Anthony was guilty of first-degree murder.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: More now on today's top story.

This time next week, Casey Anthony will be a free woman. A Florida judge sentenced her today to four years in prison -- but that's essentially time served - for lying to police about the 2008 death of her daughter, Caylee. On Tuesday, a jury acquitted Anthony of murder, child abuse and manslaughter.

CNN's Martin Savidge was in courtroom today.

And, Martin, the judge gave her the maximum. Take us inside the courtroom, why the reason? What was it like to be in there today?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the most striking thing today was, of course, Casey Anthony herself. This was a totally different woman than we saw just two days ago. She let her hair down -- I mean that both literally and figuratively. She saw her at the beginning there with her hair down after been out with a bun the whole six weeks of the trial. And she was much more animated. She was smiling. She was laughing, and she was engaged with her defense attorney. That was very different.

And, of course, this time, she isn't fearing for her life as she was two days ago. This time, she's only worried about what could the remainder of the sentence be as far as these misdemeanors, four of them. And I think she really thought that she might get out of prison or jail today. That was not the case.

But she's not going to have to wait long. As up point out, she's going to be released on July 13th, which is just a mere, what is it, six days from now? It's going to be next Wednesday -- John.

Any other legal threats she faces?

SAVIDGE: Very -- she has a number of them. First of all, the state is trying to get back some of the money, restitution, they say, for the prosecution and for the investigation. That's still to be worked out over the next 60 days. She's got a civil suit coming from a woman who claims, that well, you defamed me because you said I was the nanny that took your child. That was not the case.

And then on top of that, now, you have Equusearch, one of the groups that looked for daughter Caylee, they're saying we want to get back $100,000-some back that it costs us to come for a search that you knew she was already dead.

She still got legal trouble.

KING: We'll continue to watch that as this case continues to unfold. But Casey Anthony -- the big lead is -- will be on the streets next Wednesday, free.

Martin Savidge, thanks.

SAVIDGE: Yes.

KING: Let's get some unique insights now into today's sentencing of Casey Anthony and the broader issues raised during this fascinating trial that captured the nation's imagination.

Joining us is the lead prosecutor, Jeff Ashton.

And, Mr. Ashton, I just want to ask you quite simply, you still believe in your heart that she is a murderer. Knowing that she will be on the streets in just a few days, what goes through your mind?

JEFF ASHTON, CASEY ANTHONY PROSECUTOR: Well -- I mean, we obviously didn't prosecute the case unless we believed in it, so we still do. At this point, the jury has spoken. They are the ones who have decided the case and we have to respect that.

When she's on the street, I simply hope that people will just leave her alone. KING: Do you view her at all as a threat to public safety, as a risk?

ASHTON: I would be concerned if she was a caretaker of children again. But aside from that, no. I think she's at greater risk from the public right now than vice versa.

KING: But let's talk a bit about the case. Some of the jurors coming out -- I want you to listen to Jennifer Ford. She told ABC that one of the issues for the jury that made it so difficult, and some of the jurors have talked about being sick to their stomach, some of them talked about how -- they have hunch that she might have done it, but they said they couldn't vote guilty because this was a capital murder case.

Listen to Jennifer Ford.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIFER FORD, JUROR IN CASEY ANTHONY TRIAL: We were -- I think it was mentioned a few times, if they charged her with other things, we probably could have convicted, or, you know, got a guilty sentence -- but not for death, not for first degree. There's not enough to substantiate that. It's a very serious charge.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Any hindsight given that, given the emotions of this case, given that the jurors are not lawyers, that you should have perhaps not had a charge that involved the death penalty?

ASHTON: Well, no, I don't. If the jury had accepted or seen the evidence as we did, then it was a legitimate case for the jury to decide. Jurors in the guilt phase are instructed that they are not supposed to ask consider potential punishment in their decisions. So, you know, if that was a deciding factor, then they weren't following the instructions of the court.

But, you're right, they were given lesser included offenses. So, you know, their job was to look at the facts and decide on what the facts were proven beyond a reasonable doubt. So, if -- to say that they might have found her guilty of something less, you know, then they should have. If that's in fact how they viewed the evidence.

But, you know, everybody, you know, has their own view of the evidence and we respect the jurors' view, but, you know, the evidence was what it was.

KING: Not once in the last few days have you thought, you know what, given the emotions of this, given that I don't have a smoking gun, I can't conclusively connect the dots? Maybe that was a mistake?

ASHTON: No, I don't. I don't. That - ultimately, that was the state attorney's decision, Mr. Lamar's decision, but no, I do not think it was a mistake and it certainly should not have affected the jurors' verdict. So -- KING: You say it was the state's decision. Did anyone bring up in those conversations, you know, we're taking a risk here?

ASHTON: Well, those decision are really -- the decision was his, and the advice we gave him was really his or not to discuss. And I have not been discussing those conversations with him because they're really his privilege to keep.

KING: You think you had a solid case. And many who watched every second of the trial think you did have a solid case. But I want you to listen to Miss Ford again where she makes the case that in her view, you did not conclusively prove that it was not an accident.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORD: To the conclusion that it was an accident, then it is to get to the conclusion that it had something to do with chloroform and duct tape, for me, because if it was chloroform, George said Casey left the house with Caylee. So, were they in a public place when it happened? The whole chloroform thing -- was Caylee in the back seat chloroformed and duct tape or did she, in public, put her in the trunk?

I mean, I don't know -- I don't know how to make that whole picture come together at all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Other jurors have said similar things, that the accident scenario was at least as plausible as the scenario that you presented.

Again, in hindsight, anything you wish you could redo or is this just a compliment to the defense?

ASHTON: No, I don't think there's anything that I could redo, quite honestly, as I've said from the very beginning, if anybody could find a rational, reasonable explanation for why you put duct tape on a child that died by accident, then I'd love to hear it. We didn't hear it in court. But that was the juries' decision to make.

With all due respect to them, I do think that was an issue that really hasn't been explained and never was.

KING: You're being quite the diplomatic and I'm going to say almost dispassionate. I think that is a reflection for 30 years in the courtroom in your experience.

I want to take you back to that movement, the jury is coming back, short of 11 hours of deliberations. You have to assume at that point if they're coming back so quickly, you have a guilty verdict. I wanted to listen here to your opponent, Jose Baez. Here's how he describes his reaction when he hears on those three felony counts not guilty.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not guilty, not guilty, not guilty. What did you think? How did you feel?

JOSE BAEZ, CASEY ANTHONY'S TTORNEY: I felt a great sense of relief, I felt -- I was ecstatic for my client. Really the happiest moment came after the first not guilty because I knew that I had saved her life and that was really my biggest fear and I -- once I got through that, I grabbed Casey's hand and I held it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I've been in a lot of courtrooms, Mr. Ashton, and I was watching you and mouth the words wow, I think they were. Take us back.

ASHTON: Well, that's pretty much -- you summed it up. When the jury came back with those verdicts, we were all -- I think everybody was shocked and, you know, my expression was, wow. But, you know, you accept the juries' verdict, you move on, and that's kind of where we are right now. We felt like we presented every bit of evidence, that there was about this case and about poor Caylee's death. Presented it in a way that we felt was fair and legitimate and the jury decided what they decided.

KING: We don't know what comes next for Casey Anthony. We do know that she will be free next Wednesday. There is talk that she may write a book, tell her story.

If she were to write a book and lay out, here's exactly in my words, how this happened, given all the lies we know from the trial, would you believe a word of it?

ASHTON: No, I don't -- I don't think I could. At this point, you know, it's like the boy who cried wolf. There's really no version that Miss Anthony could give -- unless it's one that accounts for all of the evidence, you know?

But the versions that we know so far, including the version expressed by her counsel in opening statement are not true. And I do not believe them. I do not believe for a moment that George Anthony had anything to do with disposing of his granddaughter's body and I believe his suicide note is the strongest indication of that.

KING: You didn't

ASHTON: There's just no way he was involved.

KING: You didn't get to hear from her at the trial. Would you like read that book? Would you like to hear at least try to explain it?

ASHTON: I would not read that book. I would not care to hear the explanation, because quite frankly, I would not be able to take it as anything about fiction at this point.

KING: Jeff Ashton, appreciate your time tonight, sir.

ASHTON: I thank you. KING: This just in from Texas. The Mexican man has been executed for the 1994 rape and murder of a San Antonio teenager. Humberto Leal Garcia, Jr. was pronounced dead at 7:21 Eastern Time. That's just shy of 20 minutes ago.

The Obama administration and world leaders wanted a reprieve because authorities originally did not allow him to contact the Mexican consulate, a right by international treaty. But, first, the Supreme Court today, then Governor Rick Perry of Texas denying a reprieve. Again, that execution taking place 20 minutes ago in Texas.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Here's an image that speaks volume about the public's debate about the Casey Anthony trial. Here's the window of Skyline Chili in Clearwater, Florida. Right there, a clear message to the jurors who found Casey Anthony not guilty of abusing or killing her 2- year-old daughter Caylee.

So, why does this case stoke so much emotion? And now, a debate about what lessons we might have learned about the trial and verdict?

Harvard law school professor and famed defense attorney, Alan Dershowitz, says the system worked. Sunny Hostin of truTV's "In Session" -- well, she saw the evidence a little differently.

Let me start with you, Professor Dershowitz. You wrote an essay in "The Wall Street Journal" today and you've heard the debate about this trial that continues. We just heard from the prosecutor at the top of the program, Nancy Grace says it's a miscarriage of injustice.

You wrote this today, "A criminal trial is not about who is the better lawyer. It is about the evidence. And the evidence in this case left a reasonable doubt in the mind of all of the jurors. The system worked."

You would probably be on the losing side of public opinion. But explain why this is so important in the court of law.

PROF. ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR: By the way, I would have written the same essay if the jury convicted. There was enough evidence to convict and there gaps in the evidence for a jury to acquit.

Jurors are not computers. Twelve jurors on a different part of the country and a different day might very well have convicted on this evidence. There are hundreds of people in jail today on lesser evidence, some even on death row.

There were gaps in the evidence. There was no cause of death. There was no time of death. It was overcharged.

You know, women who murder their children don't usually get the death penalty and it was foolish of the prosecution to seek the death penalty in a case where they were unlikely to get one and more likely lose their credibility.

The best thing that happened in this case was that the judge today just threw the book at her for lying and obstructing because she succeeded in destroying the evidence. By not reporting the missing child ands by misleading the police, she prevented the police from getting the evidence that might have conclusively prove whether she was guilty or innocent.

So, the proper crime was obstruction of justice. She should have gotten more time for that. But there was really no evidence beyond a reasonable doubt about premeditated first-degree murder that was so conclusive that you could really condemn the jury for having acquitted.

KING: And, Sunny Hostin, you just heard from the lead prosecutor. He said there was a discussion about whether to go forward with the capital murder charge. He wouldn't tell me about any of the debate. He said that's a privileged conversation with his boss, the state's attorney.

You're a former prosecutor. Given the emotions and given the fact Mr. Dershowitz just said jurors are not computers. They're also not attorneys. So, a lawyer can say, after a while, if they read the judge's instruction, they would know, they could have come back with manslaughter. But they're not attorneys. Should they have dropped that charge and essentially put aside the better politics of the case to get a better verdict?

SUNNY HOSTIN, LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR, "IN SESSION" ON TRUTV: You know, these charging decisions are made by prosecutors all over the country every single day. And so, I think I would be remiss to try and second guess the charging decision actually and I've spoken to Jeff Ashton and he believed that the evidence supported a first-degree premeditated murder count.

I think that certainly there were gaps in the evidence, but I agree with Professor Dershowitz, it's possible that another jury could have come to a different conclusion. And so, I agree, the system worked here. I think the prosecution believed in its case. That's why they brought the case. Prosecutors don't bring cases unless they believe the evidence doesn't support the case.

And, you know, bottom line, this jury, after listening to all of this testimony, 33 days of testimony, over 400 piece of evidence, came to a different conclusion -- a conclusion that most people don't agree with but 12 people did agree with it. And I think that the lesson that we take from this is that our system is one of the best systems in the world, if not the best system in the world.

And we should be pleased that 12 people listen to all of the evidence and came down with the verdict that they all agreed on.

KING: One of the controversies after the trial is the media discussion of a case in progress. And you're both prominent attorneys and you're both on TV quite a bit. I want you to listen to a part of the conversation I had with Nancy Grace, who is lightning rod about this case at the top of the show. Listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Again, as an attorney, you agree that you're part of a system where p it's innocent until proven guilty. Do you have any remorse for saying these things? Any sense that you owe Casey Anthony an apology?

NANCY GRACE, HOST, HLN'S "NANCY GRACE": John, can I ask you, why would you ask me that? That's just so nonsensical. Because, clearly, I think the evidence showed that tot mom, Casey Anthony, was guilty. And to suggest that somehow, because I am a former prosecutor, because I am a former crime -- I'm a crime victim myself, because I have a TV show now, that somehow that suspends my freedom of speech and frankly my commonsense, that question in no way doesn't even make sense.

KING: In no way suspends -

GRACE: Tot mom, in my mind, has been proven guilty and as far as any apologies, I think it should be her apology -- apologizing to the public for spending about $1 million of their money looking for a child that she says she already knew was dead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Professor, to you first. Everybody has a right to a free speech. And I would die to defend it. But do lawyers have a special obligation to talk about cases in progress when they're on television?

DERSHOWITZ: I think they do. Nancy is a friend of mine. I like her. She is a terrific TV personality.

But she's among a group of people that -- for her, some crimes are so heinous hat even innocent is not a defense. She can't imagine or contemplate that a person could possibly be innocent. She really does undercut the presumption of innocence and she often rushes to judgment, often she's right -- in a case like this, she was wrong.

I do think that when you have a bar certificate, you have a special obligation to tell the public over and over again about the function of a criminal trial, about the presumption of innocence, about the risks of the conviction of the innocent.

Remember, we live in a system where we say it's better for 10 guilty to go free than for one innocent to be wrongly confined. But when one person goes free who might possibly be guilty, the world seems to collapse. We see signs, "We won't accept jurors coming in here," that's just awful.

First of all, the public has an obligation to protect the life of this woman. A sheriff has an obligation to protect the life of this woman. We may not like her, I don't like her. I think she's despicable, the way she covered up the death of her child, no matter what it was caused is revolting.

But we have an obligation to the law, and that obligation is paramount. And it applies to all of us as members of the bar and members of the public.

KING: I need to end the conversation there, but this debate will continue in the weeks and months ahead.

Sunny Hostin, Alan Dershowitz, thanks for your time tonight.

Still to come here, stop the presses, literally. A shocking media scandal in Great Britain leads to a stunning decision by the media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: A blossoming scandal involving the media mogul Rupert Murdoch took a stunning turn. The British subsidiary of Murdoch's News Corporation announced its flagship British tabloid, "The News of the World," would be shut down after printing one final Sunday edition.

This rare Murdoch surrender comes amid revelations "The News of the World" tabloid hacked into cell phone conversations and voice mail accounts.

CNN's Richard Quest is with us now from London with more on a media scandal that is also a huge political controversy in Great Britain.

Richard, first, help us understand the tabloid culture here. "News of the World," are they beyond the pale, are they that much more sleazy than the rest of the British tabloids? Or did they just get caught?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Oh, I think they were, to some extent, in a league of their own in terms of exclusives.

And the truth of the matter is, whether it was stories about Prince Harry and his drug taking, David Beckham and his affair, or any of the other stories, Max Mosley of the Formula One sensation, whatever it was, their stories always managed to have a certain truth about them.

So, they had a certain disgusting credibility about it. They were very sure about what they went to press with. As, indeed, all the tabloids are. You can't -- you dare not with the British libel laws, or what used to be, go to press with a story you're not pretty certain is true or you've got a defense.

So, you end up with this paper that spews out some of the most vitriolic sewage every week, but, frankly, more often than not, gets away with it.

KING: And so, the question is: what next? I want to talk more about the specific examples here that led us here. One of the questions is what next.

Listen here to James Murdoch. He, of course, is the CEO, or the deputy chief operating officer of the parent company, News Corp here. This is his interview with ITN. He's responding to now the prime minister says there will be inquiries, there will be other inquiries.

Mr. Murdoch trying to make the case that it's not just him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES MURDOCH, DEPUTY CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, NEWS CORP.: These are industry-wide inquiries, and I think you will see both an industry-wide process with the police and these criminal investigations are industry-wide, and I think that's really a question for the industry, for other papers, for other people to really come to grips with. And it's really for them in terms of their practices and how they do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)\

KING: Is everybody to blame, or is he just trying to say everybody's to blame?

QUEST: Oh, no, there's more than enough blame to go around here. These two inquiries, one of them is into the hacking, the other is in to payments to police. It's widely believed that most of the other tabloid newspapers, at some stage, have paid off the police for tips. And that, of course, is not unique in the U.K. That's also alleged to happen in other countries.

But also, this hacking scandal, it's widely believed other papers have dipped their toe into that nasty bit of business.

What Murdoch is doing is justifying the reason for closing a paper of 160-odd years' age, putting more than 200 people out of work, and saying he's doing it all in the spirit of journalism.

But, tonight, in Britain, people are saying, well, (a), you didn't need to do it, (b), the only person that really need to lose their job was the former editor, who is now the chief executive, and (c), maybe this is something they wanted to do all along.

The Murdoch papers have been trying to streamline, cut costs. They want to take their "Sun" newspaper, seven days a week -- and this provided the perfect opportunity to do all of that in one fell swoop.

KING: You talked about allegations of drug use by the prince, you talked about David Beckham -- much of this dedicated, early on, anyway, to high political figures or what we would consider sports or cultural celebrities. But how much did it matter, how much did it get into British public opinion when these hackings were also about, as you mentioned, dead soldiers and victims of terrorist bombings on the subways there.

I want you to listen here -- Ester Hyman's sister, Miriam, was killed in the London transit bombings. Listen to her. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ESTHER HYMAN, SISTER DIED IN LONDON TERROR ATTACK: It's disgusting to have anyone to have their privacy invaded in this way. But when it moves out of the realm of celebrity and into the realm of victims of crime, it's a different matter and really pretty sinister.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Did public opinion pivot because it involved everyday folks?

QUEST: To use a phrase you'll understand, this was the game changer.

KING: As you can see, it's a pretty hardy, pretty feisty tabloid culture in Great Britain. This is "The Sun" here. "The Daily Mirror" here. You see some of the very personal stories. I'm not going to repeat some of these headlines. But you can see them as we go through here.

You see as well here, dopey Daniel Radcliffe smokes spliff at party. He's the "Harry Potter" fame, you know that.

It is this newspaper, though, "The News of the World" at the center of his scandal, again, hacking into voice mail accounts, even victims of terrorist bombings. This paper will shut down Sunday, its final edition.

Rupert Murdoch of the News Corporation making that decision. The inquiries into this behavior will continue into Great Britain. This, a major setback, though, for the Rupert Murdoch empire, although you heard Richard Quest saying perhaps, perhaps he sees money to be made here.

That's all for us tonight. Hope to see you right here tomorrow night.

"IN THE ARENA" starts right now.