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Missing Mom Killed Over Custody?

Aired July 27, 2011 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, mind-blowing horror- movie-style violence in the war on women.

CHIEF DEPUTY CRAIG BRADY, FORT BEND COUNTY SHERIFF``S OFFICE: The suspects evidently purchased an ice chest, dismembered the body, placed it in an ice chest.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Police say pieces of a body found in Texas might be the remains of a missing North Carolina mother of two. They`ve arrested the father of her children, who`s a popular musician, and his wife, in connection with her murder. Did this couple murder and dismember this beautiful mom over a custody issue?

And the battle and the price allegedly skyrocketing for that first tell-all Casey Anthony interview. Claims that Jose Baez is in hush-hush meetings with famous high-powered lawyer to the stars Mark Geragos about Casey`s next move. Tonight, I`ll talk to Mark Geragos himself to sort out truth from fiction.

Plus, are cops any closer to solving the horrifying mystery deaths at the multimillion-dollar mansion of a high-powered pharmaceutical mogul? As secrets from his dead girlfriend`s past leak out, her devastated sister is speaking out. Does she have any clues into her sister`s grisly death? I`m taking your calls.

ISSUES starts now.



BRADY: The severed remains of a white female believed to be a missing woman from Raleigh, North Carolina, were found in Oyster Creek.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Divers and ground crews arrived just after 9 a.m. this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Hayes, you`re being charged with first- degree murder.

JASON ACKERSON, LAURA`S BROTHER: Grant Hayes and his wife are monsters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ackerson says he learned from authorities that they found his sister`s dismembered body in Texas.

BRADY: The suspects evidently purchased an ice chest, dismembered the body, placed it in the ice chest.

ACKERSON: It was hard to contact her without her getting in fear of, you know, her life from her ex-boyfriend.

BRADY: They do have two children together. Evidently there was a custody battle going on over the children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is known as someone who is really a joy and who loved her family.

ACKERSON: We should have taken -- taken the threats more seriously.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a gut-wrenching, stunning case that stretches from North Carolina to Texas and beyond. A young mom murdered and then dismembered, allegedly by the father of her two children. Could this all be over their very bitter custody battle?

Good evening, I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, coming to you live from New York City. This is a terrifying mind-blowing crime that seems like a real- life horror film unraveling before our eyes.

Twenty-seven-year-old Laura Jean Ackerson went missing two weeks ago. She was supposed to be in Raleigh, North Carolina, to meet her two young sons, who lived with their dad. But when she didn`t show up to work Monday morning, her friends reported her missing. Frantic detective work led rescue crews to Texas. Cops scoured a shallow creek and discovered the dismembered remains of a woman. And now authorities have arrested the father of Laura`s two children and his new wife.


BRADY: It`s believed that the actual homicide occurred in North Carolina, where the suspects evidently purchased some ice chests, dismembered the body, placed it in the ice chests, acquired a U-Haul trailer, put the ice chests in the trailer, and transported her through several states to Fort Bend County, where they tossed her remains into Oyster Creek.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable.

Tonight, Laura`s ex-boyfriend, 32-year-old Grant Hayes -- you`re looking at him right there -- and his wife, Amanda Hayes -- you`re looking at her, too -- are both charged with first-degree murder in this hideous mutilation that involves decapitation.

Grant was in a vicious, vicious custody battle with his ex, the victim. Oddly enough, Grant Hayes is a popular musician with a following and big plans, or at least he had big plans. Check out this clip of the suspect on YouTube.


GRANT HAYES, MURDER SUSPECT (SINGING): So far away razors for your mistakes. Settlements are high stakes.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Razors for your mistakes. Hmm. Sounds like a laid- back sound, but those lyrics are pretty scary. They`re downright disturbing, in fact. The brother of the victim claims Hayes is manipulative and controlling. Listen to this.


ACKERSON: Hayes and his wife are monsters. And I hope that anybody that knows them or has followed them and enjoyed his music understands that about them.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joining me exclusively tonight, a very special guest, Laura`s brother-in-law, Mike Anderson, from her home state of Michigan.

Mike, I`m so very sorry for your loss. This has to be a hellish time for you. We`re going to talk to you in a moment about what you know about this custody battle Laura was in with the suspect, Grant Hayes.

But first, I want to go out to Joe Gomez, news reporter, KTRH News Radio. He`s been all over this case from the beginning.

What do you know, Joe?

JOE GOMEZ, REPORTER, KTRH RADIO: Jane, police are calling this the most gruesome discovery they`ve made recently. I mean, Laura Ackerson was found in a murky creek a few miles outside of Houston. Her dismembered body was in the water there. They found her leg. They found her torso. They even found her sawed-off head, Jane. Unbelievable.

Police believe that Grant Hayes, Laura Ackerson`s ex-boyfriend, was responsible for the murder. He along with his new wife, Amanda. They killed Laura over a bitter custody battle, chopped her up into tiny pieces, put her in several ice chests, then drove her to southern Texas, where they dispatched Laura into her grisly, watery grave, Jane. Unbelievable.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. We`re going to show you the Google map from Raleigh, North Carolina, to Oyster Creek, Texas. And the reason they purportedly went to Texas was to be with the family of the new wife, Amanda Hayes. However, police say that family actually assisted them in the investigation and even called the cops in. So you`ve got to wonder, Joe Gomez, were they turned in by their own flesh and blood?

GOMEZ: The police aren`t saying right now exactly how they were tipped off as to, you know, apprehend Grant and Amanda, but we do know that -- you`re right, they tracked them both down to Amanda`s family house, just outside this dumping ground, this creek area. And there they found the ice chest. They also found a machete. Now Amanda`s sister then...


GOMEZ: Amanda`s sister then moved police over to the creek. The divers then discovered parts of Laura, this poor mother of two, Jane. Words cannot describe how horrifying this is.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Disgusting. And we have this clip from Laura`s brother, Jason Ackerman. He has described reported threats from the suspect, Grant Hayes, in the past. "It was hard to contact her without getting in fear of her life from her ex-boyfriend. We should have taken the threats more seriously."

I want to bring in Mike Anderson, Laura Ackerson`s brother-in-law. First of all, again, our hearts go out to you. This is just horrifying. Tell us what you know about the custody battle Laura was in with this Grant Hayes.

MIKE ANDERSON, LAURA ACKERSON`S BROTHER-IN-LAW: Honestly, we hadn`t had contact with Laura for a few years, so we knew that there was a little bit of a custody battle going on, but we didn`t know a whole lot of details about it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what do you know about it, sir?

ANDERSON: All I know is what I`m hearing from the reports that -- that you have -- that you played earlier from her brother. All we know is -- is him stating that he was controlling and manipulative and that she was in fear for her life. That`s really all we know is what he`s stated.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable. This is -- this is just so awful. Do we have Chevon Mathes, Laura Ackerson`s business partner?

Chevon, what was -- how did you learn about this, and what was your reaction when you heard that your business partner who you loved and respected had been murdered and possibly in the most despicable, horrific unimaginable way?

CHEVON MATHES, LAURA ACKERSON`S BUSINESS PARTNER (via phone): Jane, it was just -- it was very difficult for me, it still is at this point. It`s just hard for me to express my emotions right now. And I`m trying to stay focused and continue on with what we had going on and trying to make sure that her children are OK at this point.

But it`s so very difficult, and it just hurts to think that somebody would do something like this to her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, it`s so awful.

Jo Jackson, you`re Laura Ackerson`s friend. You`re the victim`s friend. You knew, apparently, some of the troubles Laura was having with this man who is now accused of murdering her, Grant Hayes, her common-law, you might say, husband, the father of her two children. Tell us what you know about the problems they were having?

JO JACKSON, LAURA ACKERSON`S FRIEND (via phone): Well, the problems that they were having were, of course, related to the custody issues in that Laura is a very dedicated mother, wanted to have the children with her on a full-time basis.

However, I have to say that, in the times that I was with Laura and these issues came up, I did not hear Laura expressing hostility. Instead she focused on what would be best for the children. And I think that that...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why didn`t she have custody? I understand on June 25, a judge entered a consent order that said the fighting parents [SIC] would reside -- that the two boys would reside mainly with their dad and Laura would have visitation on weekends.

She was apparently a wonderful mother who organized her life around her kids. Why didn`t she have custody, Jo?

JACKSON: She didn`t have custody. She was -- the custody was taken away from her at the time, from my understanding, really because Laura did not have permanent housing and a permanent job at that time. But that`s what she was working toward and certainly was able to accomplish.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And he did? He`s playing music somewhere? That`s a permanent job? Going from here to the Virgin Islands and back again? That doesn`t sound so permanent to me. Unbelievable.

JACKSON: Well, if you`re referring to Laura`s doing that (ph), what I have to speak to is just since I`ve known Laura. And she has put together a business and been able to provide for her children and has moved into an apartment that is certainly suitable.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unfortunately, we now have to return to her in the past tense. She`s been murdered. She`s dead. Her battle for her kids, over.

We`re also going to be talking about the battle for Casey Anthony`s first big interview. Is it heating up?

But first, did a popular musician and his wife who used to be an art gallery director murder a beautiful mom of two over custody?


BRADY: The severed remains of a white female believed to be the missing woman from Raleigh, North Carolina, were found in Oyster Creek. The investigators from North Carolina have made two arrests in North Carolina.



HAYES: I have these two boys and, you know, when I started making music, it was about something totally different. When I was 18, it was about crowds, fame, fortune, acceptance. Now to me, making music is more about legacy. They`re my barometer if it`s a hit. If they start dancing, it`s a wrap. Nobody else needs to hear it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s smiling and talking up a storm. Tonight he is charged with murder, murder of the woman who bore his two young sons. That`s a YouTube video. Unbelievable. Just unbelievable.

Look at this beautiful woman. Her head was found severed. Her body parts found in Texas about a stone`s throw or so from the home of a relative of the new wife of her ex, the father of her children. Tonight, that ex-boyfriend and his new wife are behind bars, locked up, charged with murder. A horrific murder.

Casey Jordan, criminologist, what just makes me absolutely livid is that a judge gave him custody and said that she, the victim, could visit her sons on the weekends.

CASEY JORDAN, CRIMINOLOGIST: I know. And so often these things that determining who`s a better parent or a more fit parent, often it comes down to the economics of a situation.

As her business colleague just mentioned, she -- she didn`t have permanent housing. She didn`t have a permanent job. And of course, judges take that into consideration, because where is she going to keep the children if she has them full time and doesn`t have anywhere to go? How can she look for a job if she`s watching her children all the time?

It`s entirely possible that Laura actually agreed that Grant was the better person to have custody at that time. But as these reports are coming in, she had gotten her life together and there was going to be a hearing this Friday over talking about custody issues. And clearly she planned on getting her children back full time and he could have them on weekends. I think that was probably her plan.

But as you just heard in that video, in his mind, very controlling mind, according to Laura`s brother, these children were his life, and it doesn`t sound like he was ready to give them up to anybody.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, well, now nobody`s going to have them. Neither the father nor the mother. The mother is dead and the father is charged with murder. Let`s check out his arraignment that just occurred.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Hayes, you`re here charged with first degree murder. If convicted or if you plead the maximum punishment is life without parole or death penalty. You have no bond because of the nature of the case. OK?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, my understanding, Joe Gomez, is that there was a history here, that he had, even before their second child was born, said, "Oh, I`m sick of living in the states. I want to go to the Virgin Islands." He went to the Virgin Islands allegedly. Got another girlfriend, I don`t know if it`s this person or somebody else. And she followed him down to the Virgin Islands and lived with him in St. John`s. And then they had their second child there.

But it seems that there was a real problem. If there is a cautionary tale. Never, never, ever, ever blame the victims here, but to try to learn, so that some other young woman in this situation, if you are in a bad situation with a man, don`t have another child with him, because his control over you increases.

Mike Anderson, you are Laura Ackerson`s brother-in-law, the dead woman`s brother-in-law. What is the family reaction to all of this?

ANDERSON: Obviously, even though the family knew a custody battle ongoing. Obviously, especially the nature of the way this was committed, they`re obviously shocked. And they`ve been dealing with it. Very difficult. It`s very difficult for them to handle.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why didn`t she reach out to her family if she was struggling financially? Why didn`t she just take her two boys and go live with one of her relatives?

ANDERSON: That I`m not sure of. We haven`t had a lot of contact with her, so I`m not sure. I know at one point at the beginning of it, she was living with my brother-in-law, Jason, the one that`s in the interviews there, but I`m really not sure.


Jeff Brown, criminal defense attorney, as you watch this -- first of all, we have to wonder where the kids are. And apparently they were taken, obviously, into protective custody, and they are now possibly with a family member. But what happens to kids when Mom has been murdered, allegedly by Dad?

JEFF BROWN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, there`s going to be another legal battle, probably by parents or siblings as to who`s going to have custody of these two children. So they`ll probably look towards her parents. They`ll look towards his, and there will be a dispute and a fight over who`s going to be the proper guardian or custodian over these children. If they can`t figure it out, they`ll become wards of the state, and the state will be responsible for it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Chevon Mathes, again, you are Laura Ackerson`s business partner. What did she say about this custody battle? About her back story with this guy?

MATHES: She just said she was excited, actually, that she would -- that she would be getting the kids back soon. She seemed very positive about it at this point. She had taken a psych eval, and the results were in her favor, and so she was just very excited about the upcoming court -- court hearing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s very bizarre, because this man seems very cheerful, and apparently on some of his mug shots, he`s smiling. Unbelievable.

And we`re going to also talk about the mansion murders in San Diego. Stay right there.



BRADY: They`ve never actually been married, but there`s some indication they may have considered themselves to be married at some point. They do have two children together. There was a custody battle going on over the children. And speculation at this point, we believe that`s probably one of the factors leading up to this homicide.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And there`s a very odd wild card in this case, and that`s this woman, who was also arrested and accused of murder along with her husband, the ex of the woman who is dead tonight. This is Amanda Hayes.

Now, she is 39 years old. So she`s a lot older than her husband`s ex, the murder victim, who was only 27. You have to wonder, could she have been jealous of her husband`s much younger ex? What is her story?

I`ll you what. We know that she owned an arts supply store, which I think may have been down in the islands? She was the director of an art gallery in the Virgin Islands, and she was a former actress who was originally from New York City.

Boy, that is a completely different wild card thrown into this mix, Casey Jordan.

JORDAN: It is indeed. And you really have to wonder. You look at that interview with him. He strikes me as a very charming man. And you have to wonder a few things. Did he really just want to relocate permanently back down to the Virgin Islands, perhaps with his new wife, Amanda? I have to tell you, if you have joint custody of a child, that is not going to be possible. Maybe she really, really loved those kids and wanted them for herself.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me tell you this. He wanted her to be able to adopt the two boys.

JORDAN: Doesn`t surprise me at all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And that`s the motive right there.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jo Jackson, you were Laura Ackerson`s friend, and I know you`re heart broken. Did she ever talk to you about her fears that he would take the children?

JACKSON: No, Laura and I did not talk about that. I`m not able to speak to that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She was a church-going woman, Laura, right?

JACKSON: Yes. Laura, first (UNINTELLIGIBLE) online, early childhood education. And then she began going to Grace Fellowship Church, where I also go to church, and became very, very active in our small group and began meeting with one of our church members and her husband on a weekly basis to...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So she`s a beautiful -- she was a beautiful -- look how beautiful she is, beautiful woman.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Everything in front of her. Church going, a good person, and as one relative said, she made a very bad choice. She made a bad choice.

Mike Anderson, you`re a relative by marriage. Your thoughts on that?

ANDERSON: Well, obviously, she had no idea that anything like this would ever happen, but looking back at it, and hearing statements from some other people obviously that there had been problems for a while.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, they did. And again, Jeff Brown, when you hear something like this, what do you say to young women who have one child with a man who then says, "I want out of here. I want to move somewhere else to another country" and then follows them and has another child? There`s a lesson here.

BROWN: Well, I mean, it`s not just one bad thing, though. Normally, what you find is a series of the bad judgments and mistakes along the way. I mean, in this situation, they had broken up. He moved to the Virgin Islands. He found another girlfriend, wants her to become the mother of these children. And somehow she ends up moving down there and having a second child with him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it right there. Thank you.


AL TAYLOR, INDEPENDENT TV PRODUCER: I tried to explain to her why she should take my deal and not another deal. Because I said, "I`m going to give you the money up front." Fame is fleeting but infamy is even more fleeting. And by the end of the meeting I told her I said look, in six weeks you`ll be worth $100,000 not $1 million.

HARVEY LEVIN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, TMZ: The billing exceeded $1.5 million. I know that the big three networks were all negotiating this as of last Thursday night. Jose Baez actually met with Mark Geragos in the hotel bar and talked about -- and got pointers from him on how to negotiate the deal.

You should probably try to get Mark Geragos on your show.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, hey bookers, start making those calls.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And guess what? The bookers made the calls and we got him. Tonight, famed defense attorney, Mark Geragos live here on ISSUES. And we`re so delighted to have him. We want to know, is he giving Jose Baez advice on what Casey Anthony should do next?

TMZ`s executive producer, Harvey Levin told me right here on ISSUES live last night that the bidding war for Casey`s first interview is up to $1.5 million, yes, for Casey`s first tell-all interview. And here`s what Harvey said about an alleged secret meeting between Jose Baez and Mark Geragos. Check this out.


LEVIN: That`s somebody I would certainly go to. And I don`t know what he`s say to you but I would certainly try because I just know from the people we had out there, I know that he was at that hotel talking to Jose Baez about this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, if it wasn`t Jose Baez -- ok, he`s talking to Jose Baez but for all we know, he could be talking about something totally unrelated. But if she was --

LEVIN: I have to stop you. I am telling you that I know what they were talking about.


LEVIN: And they were talking -- because I`m just telling you that they were talking about how to negotiate this deal.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. One look at Mark Geragos`s high profile client list; you know he has a lot of experience in trial, pre-trial, post trial, during trial spin control. He`s represented the likes of Michael Jackson, Winona Ryder, Chris Brown, Scott Peterson.

Straight out to the one and only Mark Geragos; so can we set the record straight? Were you meeting with Jose Baez in New York? Can you confirm that you were or were not talking about Casey Anthony interview offers?

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I just want to say for one thing, you have the most tenacious producers I have ever seen in my life there. They`re unbelievable.


GERAGOS: You`ve got that little Armenian girl, Celine --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She`s fantastic.

GERAGOS: -- she deserves a raise, doesn`t she?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: She`s fantastic. We love her.

GERAGOS: And you know, Harvey is just as incredible because I don`t know how it is Harvey knows what he knows or when he knows although maybe he has hidden microphones every place in America.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ll tell you, I worked for him for three years and when I wanted to get an exclusive, I would hand him the phone. I would go here Harvey, do it, work your magic. But seriously, were you there at the Mandarin Oriental or at some other place talking --

GERAGOS: Yes, I was. I met with Jose. I`ve met with Jose a couple of times. I would never talk about what I talked about with him. I wanted to congratulate him. I thought he did a spectacular job. And I had my daughter who`s in college here in New York with me who wanted to meet him as well. He was very gracious and he`s a wonderful guy. That`s probably all I`m going to say, which will disappoint your viewers.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Disappoint me.

GERAGOS: Well, no. It`s always good to see you, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, Mark. But here`s the thing. Obviously everybody in the world wants to hear from her even though she`s a pathological liar. And I don`t say that -- in fact, that`s been established at trial, the defense laid that out in their opening statement.



GERAGOS: Right. I mean you`re right. I mean nobody -- and look, I`ve said, and I would say to Jose if I had the conversation, there`s no surprise in it. They did prove she`s a pathological liar, that`s what she`s convicted of. That doesn`t mean that she`s a murderer.

And contrary to kind of all of the back flow that`s been going on post verdict, you know, they didn`t prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury did what it was supposed to do. That may upset a lot of people. A lot of people still, as you say, want to hear from her. And at some point, I suppose she will talk.

I don`t particularly, and I`m not telling you that this is what we talked about, but I don`t particularly think that I would have her go out and do anything right now. I think I would have her lay low. I think I would not have anybody know where she is. And so far they`ve done a magnificent job of doing that. I think I would wait. There`s always going to be a payday there at some point.

You know, she`s got a lot of bills to pay and she`s got to put her life back together. And whether you like her or not, we live in America, and that`s the system. If you don`t like it, move to Iran or North Korea.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I don`t have any plane tickets for Iran or North Korea. I will say a lot of people think it`s absolutely abominable if she becomes a millionairess off of this because she did not report her child missing for 31 days and a lot of people are upset about that.

GERAGOS: I understand that. But you know, a lot of people would be upset. You know, we have these laws which in some states that have been declared unconstitutional where if you`re convicted you cannot profit from it. Remember, she wasn`t convicted. So people can be as upset as they want.

The fact is the prosecution didn`t prove it. The people who are upset about it are people who don`t understand the system and frankly who are ignorant. If you don`t understand the system, when somebody is acquitted, that`s it. Game over. You don`t get to retry them again.

You can hate them, you can be as upset as you want at them, but they`ve got a right to go and live their life. That`s the way it works, that`s the American system; that`s why we`re in three theaters fighting wars.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re filibustering me, I know you are. And you`re doing a great job of it.

Let`s get back to this whole idea of is she or isn`t she going to get $1.5 million for her first story. ABC is telling us, "Not true." In fact they`re saying, they`re not even paying any more for any kind of licensing fees. CBS says, "Not a nickel." NBC says, "Yes, they did talk with Baez." They paid for one night at the hotel, but they said no payments, no job offers for the defense team.

And Jose Baez himself had said, "She`s her own person. If she wants to give an interview in the future, she will. Right now she wants to rebuild her life. No plans for an interview at this point."

But we all know that there are a million loopholes around all of that. We`ve seen it a million times.

GERAGOS: Jane --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: For example, ABC paid Casey $200,000 in 2008 and she owes $70,000 in back taxes to the IRS as a result of that. I know they`re saying they`re discontinuing this practice, but there`s a million ways. She could form her own corporation -- an offshore corporation and they could -- somebody could pay her corporation or somebody could pay somebody else who could then pay her corporation. I mean there`s a million ways around it.

GERAGOS: Let me just tell you three ways that I`ve personally done in the past that know that it`s done. Number one, they license photos or they license video. All of the major networks have done it. CBS has done it, ABC has done, NBC has done it -- I know that for a fact.

Besides licensing -- "People" magazine does it all the time. "Us" magazine does it all the time. Every single one of these media outlets licenses stuff and then they suddenly, or not so suddenly tie it to an interview of some kind.

In addition to that, do they have a subsidiary that has a publishing house?


GERAGOS: They may just -- they have an imprint. The imprint says we`ll buy your book. We`ll buy your book, by the way, in order to promote the book or market the book, we want you to go and do this interview somewhere else. That way the one corporate entity says I don`t have any connection to it while their other corporate arm is the one who`s paying the money.

So we know that --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now how does Jose Baez know all of this, though? He`s new on the scene. And, by the way, I`ve complimented him a million times. I think he`s mad at me because I had Al Taylor who was somebody who claims that he was working a deal.

But the fact is I`ve always given him credit for doing a great job and I always thought that his closing argument was brilliant with all the charts. I said it and people laughed at me when I said it. The charts laid out the case very clearly, his alternate theory.

But how does he know to negotiate all the stuff you`re talk about, Mark? He`s got to get someone to give him tips. Give me a hint. Did you at least discuss all the alternatives with him?

GERAGOS: Look, I would never discus what I discuss with anybody else in a confidential setting. So I`m not going to go there. I will tell you, though, any lawyer who is smart knows that they go and get counsel and they get advice. That`s what people do.

If you`re outside of your kind of your sweet spot, and that happens to me on frequent occasions, you talk to somebody who knows what the lay of the land is, so to speak.

Jose is not a -- Jose is not a naive person. He`s an outstanding lawyer. He`s made a name for himself and it`s well deserved. And Jane, I`ll give you credit. You were early money on this and saw this thing coming when nobody else did, who wasn`t kind of privy to what goes on in a criminal trial.


GERAGOS: I mean you did an outstanding job. You were kind of the lone voice in the wilderness on your network.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I did say that I thought that his -- in other words, I saw it with Michael Jackson. I saw everybody saying Michael Jackson is going to get convicted. He`s going to get convicted and then he was acquitted on all counts. That taught me a lesson.

I saw the same pattern here. People don`t realize these jurors are living in a vacuum. They`re not hearing all these prosecutors talking about what a great job a fellow prosecutor has done. And I was underwhelmed by their closing argument. I thought it was filled -- the prosecutors -- with a lofty rhetoric and short on details like how do you make chloroform.

I still don`t know. I`ve watched the whole trial. If they`re going to say that she made chloroform to kill her kid, then tell us how you make chloroform if you have no receipt for chloroform?

And by the way, I have to throw this one other thing in. There is a latex mask -- a Casey Anthony Halloween mask on eBay. The bidding has now gone up to -- it`s way past $25,000 and some people claim it`s almost at $1 million which, of course, I think has to be a hoax. But I mean this gives you an idea of how intense the interest in this case is.

GERAGOS: Well, and it`s going to be there. It`s not going to go away. I just think from a public safety standpoint for her own personal safety, she needs to lay low for a little while. But I agree with most of what you said, Jane, which is amazing today, isn`t it?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Isn`t it? It`s a shocker. Usually we`re fighting but I like it. I like this new kind of rapprochement.

GERAGOS: You`re right, a gentler relationship of ours, right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Hey Mark, thank you so much. I hope you come back real soon.

GERAGOS: Thank you Jane. See you.


Clues to the mansion mystery; could they come from the dead girlfriend`s past? Some shocking new developments; we`re all over it next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On Monday, a child was injured in the home and was transported to the hospital for treatment. Are they connected? There`s nothing to indicate that those two incidents are connected.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What strikes you as most unusual about this case?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know what? The case is suspicious, there`s no question about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We found the (INAUDIBLE) with a rope around her neck and hanging from a balcony off the main house. The victim`s hands and feet were bound and she was completely nude.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s her body blurred out. This is actual footage of her body in the courtyard before police arrived. And you can see, we highlighted the rope that was trailing behind her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, new suspicions swirl around these mysterious California mansion deaths -- two of them. And it`s been exactly two weeks since this Burmese beauty, Rebecca Zahau, was found hanging by a noose totally naked from the balcony of her multimillionaire boyfriend`s mansion. And that was just a few days after her boyfriend`s six-year-old son Max took a deadly plunge down the mansion staircase.

What`s the likelihood of both of those things happening and being accidents? When are we going to know what really happened?

Rebecca`s sister is desperate for answers.


MARY ZAHAU-LOEHNER, REBECCA ZAHAU`S SISTER (via telephone): We, as a family, want people to remember that she was a very, very special person who can make anybody smile. She has love and strength about her. She was full of energy. She loved her life, she loved God and she loved her family. She lived her life to the fullest.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So will Rebecca`s past shed light on how and why she died? Jon Leiberman, host of "True Facts" on webcast TV, what do we know?

JON LEIBERMAN, HOST, "TRUE FACTS": Well, I`ll tell you Jane, police right now, two dozen detectives are looking into this woman`s past. And I`ll tell you one they have found. They have actually found that she was an extreme fitness buff, a very, very strong woman.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s not difficult to find out. She`s in perfect shape. I mean -- yes, but proceed, proceed.

LEIBERMAN: And my sources are saying right now that they are actually, as you mentioned, they`re trying to determine whether this is murder or suicide. My sources are saying right now the active theory is indeed that she did commit suicide.

What they`re trying to find out is they`re looking at the victimology, they`re looking at her state of mind over those 48 hours prior to when she was actually found hanging.

The other thing, Jane, that`s going to be very important here, police are hoping when all of the forensic tests come back they`ll be able to find out, did she have any foreign DNA, you know, on her body anywhere, any foreign fingerprints so that they can rule out homicide.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Christine Pelisek wrote a very interesting article, you`re a staff writer with "Newsweek" and the "Daily Beast"; thanks so much for joining us. What do we know about her past? I was struck by one thing and that is that she was apparently dating this pharmaceutical mogul, Jonah Shacknai for a couple of years, yet her divorce was just finalized. Her divorce from somebody else was just finally in February. To me that looks like a little alarm bell there.

CHRISTINE PELISEK, STAFF WRITER, "NEWSWEEK" AND "DAILY BEAST": Well, I heard that she had been separated from him for quite some time and that she had been with Jonah Shacknai for two years. I`m not exactly sure when they split up, but I heard that they had been -- they hadn`t been together for years and that it just took her a while before she actually filed for divorce.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the whole thing -- a lot of people are saying she couldn`t have committed suicide. Her hands were bound behind her back. Ok. She was naked. What woman even though she has a perfect figure -- what woman wants to hang herself naked in public and then managed to tie her hands behind her back and bind her feet as well? There`s something very suspicious about that.

Now, let`s talk a little bit about her background. She was apparently a wonderful, loving person. Beautiful, beautiful woman, originally I guess from Burma, came here with her sister. They were struggling; she had this divorce that was finalized.

She had, according to RadarOnline, one shoplifting arrest in 2010. We could not find that, but that is being reported by RadarOnline. And did she quit her job as like some kind of assistant for an eye care specialty place to be with this multi, multi, multimillionaire and his son.

What else do you know Christine?

PELISEK: Well, one of the things I thought was very interesting was that -- she had her funeral on Saturday, and Jonah Shacknai went to the funeral. And I think that was interesting because I mean a lot of people think that maybe he had something to do with it.

And so I thought that was interesting that he went. He apparently sat with the family at the funeral. They were all very friendly. There wasn`t any animosity. And you know, you just wonder if the family actually suspected he was involved, would they allow him to go to the funeral. So I think that`s interesting.

You know, it is very odd that I mean that she was nude and her hands were bound but I think that a lot of people think that she might have fallen off the balcony that`s how she was pushed off the balcony and that she was hanging there.

But from what I gather, they actually took -- the police actually took a table from down on the ground where they found her so there`s a possibility that she actually stood on a table and put the rope around her neck and then stepped off from the table.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let me just say this. Jon, I`m sorry we didn`t get more time with you. But we`ll have back really soon. But I think it`s very odd that this child just falls down a flight of stairs and then she is found hanging a couple of days later.

You have to wonder did somebody in this family have enemies? It doesn`t make sense, up next fighting to free the carriage horse.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the horses, that was pulling the carriage had gotten clipped by a car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw the driver of the carriage kind of go flying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were a lot of people surrounding the horse. I think a lot of people were appalled by it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was out. He was not getting up again.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Just one of countless reasons to ban horse-drawn carriages once and for all. My special guest tonight: a New York state senator who`s trying to do that.

These are photos from a buggy crash this month, just a few days ago near Central Park. Look at this horse. It`s got a cut right down its middle. The horse got spooked, bolted into traffic, was hit by a taxi reportedly. Four people hurt, the carriage landed on top of this poor animal.

Everybody is expected to recover but you need more reasons to stop this unnecessary and inhumane practice?

Watch this clip from the film "Blinders".




VELEZ-MITCHELL: There is a horse drawn carriage protest going on in Manhattan as we speak right now. I want to welcome state senator Tony Avella. You`ve tried to get this banned before -- and here`s live footage of the protest as its happening right now via Skype.

Senator Avella, what do you want? Let`s get down to brass tacks -- this protest is going on right now. What do you want, bottom line?

SEN. TONY AVELLA, NEW YORK STATE SENATOR: We need a ban on this industry. I think, you know, we as a society has grown up to realize that cruelty to animals is no longer appropriate. Plus the inhumane treatment of the horses in this case, it`s a huge traffic problem waiting to happen.

This is a dangerous condition to operate in New York City, especially in midtown traffic. Think about it. There`s got to be a reason why horse- drawn carriages don`t exist anymore. It`s insane to have them in midtown traffic. And I`ve introduced legislation along with Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal to ban this practice in New York City once and for all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And we tried to get comments from city council speaker Christine Quinn and never heard back but we did hear back from the Horse and Carriage Association of New York and obviously they`re in favor of this. This is their business.

"The recent incident was isolated and rare, they say the horse was uninjured other than a few scrapes and scratches. The industry is over regulated. This bill is nothing new, it won`t succeed here.

Your reaction, sir?

AVELLA: Nonsense. First of all, the industry is regulated but the city of New York actually doesn`t enforce the current regulations. But the fact that we have had two serious accidents involving horse-driven carriages in ten days only points out the fact that something needs to be done about this. And this is just a series of accidents that have occurred over the years. How long are we going to allow this to continue?

It puts the horse in danger. It puts the driver and the passengers plus pedestrians and motorists who may be around the carriage horses.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And there are alternative. You see the people on the bicycles, they do the tours. I`m right in the middle of this every day. And let me tell you, I see these -- I`ve been in cabs that whizz by these horses. I`m screaming at the cab driver "Slow down, you`re going to hit that horse."

I mean it`s madness, this is unbelievable madness. And one of the reasons that I want to really get involved is that I see these animals every single day, I really do. And there is this protest going on right now as we speak.

And I got to tell you, it`s been banned in many other great cities, that protest that you`re looking at right there, it`s live, right across from the Plaza Hotel, right next to Central Park. Get involved,



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The environment needs to be free from any kind of stimuli which they will interpret as frightening.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That poor thing. That`s another clip from the documentary "Blinders". FYI, I am in completely in favor of retiring these carriage horses forever and sending the remaining horses to a sanctuary where they can live out their lives in peace.

On a personal note, I live near the park and pass these horses every single day. It never fails to break my heart. I actually look into their sad eyes and say I wish I could help you, buddy.

Well we can, go to and get involved. That stands for Ban Horse-Drawn After all, without us, they are totally helpless. They cannot speak for themselves. So we must for them.

"NANCY GRACE" up next.