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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Missing Arkansas Woman Found Dead; Jodi Arias Murder Trial Delayed

Aired January 3, 2012 - 19:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, breaking news. Cops confirm an Arkansas woman who mysterious disappeared right before New Year`s Eve has just been found, tragically, dead. And now her husband, who was going to appear on our show tonight to beg for her safe return, has just been taken into custody by police, minutes ago. We are live with this late-breaking story.

And it`s a new year and another new stunning Casey Anthony twist. You will not believe what Casey prosecutor Jeff Ashton is doing now.

Plus, the famous medical examiner, Dr. G., who did the autopsy on little Caylee`s body, is now at the center of a brand-new controversy.

And she`s this year`s Casey Anthony. Jodi Arias, a beautiful young woman, charged with brutally murdering her ex-boyfriend, stabbing him 27 times. Her attorney just quit. I will bring you the very latest in what promises to be one of the biggest trials of 2012.

And watch out, Kim Kardashian. Honey, you`ve got competition! Superstars Katy Perry and Russell Brand, Splitsville only after only 14 months of matrimony. We`re going to tell you why their "I dos" turned into "I don`ts," and I`m taking your calls on it all.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CASSIE COTTA, MISSING WOMAN: I`m being arrested (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s the voice of Cassie Cotta. She vanished.

PEARL COOK, CASSIE COTTA`S MOTHER: I received a phone call from her husband, and he said that she didn`t show up for work, which is highly unusual, especially around New Year`s Eve.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s a missing girl, a local girl that just came up missing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cassie was last seen right here at her home, but what they`re worried about is this is her vehicle. It hasn`t been moved.

(voice-over) Cassie may have went [SIC] to a party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She always stayed in contact with somebody. She`s all on her phone. She`s always Facebooking, texting. You can`t call her phone anymore. It won`t take any more messages.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is so very tragic. We`re sorry to have to report this, but it`s breaking news.

A woman goes missing after her husband says she went out partying, but just moments ago, she`s been found dead. And now her husband has, just a little while ago, minutes ago, been taken into custody.

Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, coming to you live from New York City.

A frantic search has been going on for five days, trying to find 24- year-old Cassie Cotta. Her husband was handing out flyers today, right up until, we`re sad to say, her body was discovered just a little while ago, and he was suddenly arrested.

Brent Cotta said the last time he was with his wife was just this past Friday, when she planned to go to a party, supposedly with another man named Brandon. The next day, he contacted Cassie`s mom. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COOK: I received a phone call Saturday night from my husband, and he said that she didn`t show up for work, which is highly unusual, especially for it being New Year`s Eve. She`s a bartender at Perry`s Place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cassie`s mom was going to bring Brent on our show tonight, right now, to plead for Cassie`s safe return. And then, just a couple of minutes ago, as we`re getting ready to come on the air, we hear the news, the very sad news -- and it`s a shocker -- that that husband, himself, has been arrested in this case.

Did Cassie`s death have anything to do with some very odd recent Facebook posts where another man appears to be flirting with her two days before she disappeared? Somebody named Brandon wrote on her wall something very strange, and we`re going to get to that in a second.

Now, let`s go straight out to Sergeant Daniel Grubbs of the police department that`s handling this case.

Sir, again, if the family is watching or listening, our hearts go out to you. We`ve been on the phone with you all day, hoping to do a story to bring this beautiful young woman home, safe and sound. And it`s gut- wrenching to have to report that this beautiful woman that you`re seeing there has now been confirmed to be dead.

Sir, if you can tell us where Cassie`s body was found and why you arrested her husband.

SERGEANT DANIEL GRUBBS, POLICE (via phone): At approximately 3:30 p.m. today, after conducting extensive interviews and additional interviews with the husband, friends, and family, we did receive information of a location in rural Crawford County, to the possible location of where Cassie may be located. We did use that information to locate her, and with the gross inconsistencies in the husband`s stories, we brought him in. Additionally, and we were comfortable, we charged him with first-degree murder.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable! And today, that very husband still claimed that he was looking for Cassie. In fact, he said, quote, "We just want her to come home safe. She`s colorful, she`s irritable, she`s blunt, she`s beautiful, she`s perfect."

And the first thing that stood out to me, anyway, Sergeant, was that that was a very odd description for a husband to give of a woman he`s purportedly searching for, to call her irritable and blunt. Sir, why do you believe he killed his wife and how?

GRUBBS: At this time, there is not any real definitive injuries to her body. At this point, we will send her to an Arkansas state crime lab for an autopsy to get more facts on what actually the manner and cause of her death. It`s sad.

And I want to echo your comments to her family, especially right here close to the holidays. This is a very, very selfish, malicious crime. And we`re just happy that, at least, there will be some justice served, but I just wish this could have ended in a better -- a better way.

And just God bless all the people that have really put down and took their time to assist these people in locating this young girl. And the only thing I can say to them is thank you, and just rest assured, justice will be served against this guy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, again, he is accused of murdering his wife, and in court, he deserves the presumption of innocence, and we give it to him here, as well. We don`t know his side of the story, and if he has gotten an attorney, we`d be happy to hear it.

But you`ve got to wonder if there may be some kind of jealousy at work here. There was a mystery man named Brandon, who seemed to be flirting with this guy`s wife on Facebook, the woman who was ultimately found dead.

Shortly before Cassie disappeared, those conversations then turned ugly. The day she goes missing, this mystery Brandon says, "Ur mean." About five hours later, she responds, "Go bleep yourself, seriously."

So last question to the sergeant, who is this mystery man, and was the husband allegedly jealous of her going off to a party, possibly with him?

GRUBBS: Well, I mean, at this time, I could see where that would be a logical explanation. And I`m not privy to a lot of the details of the final interview with the ex that may establish some type of motive, from his statements. But rest assured, we`re confident in the charges we do have against him, and hopefully if there`s additional details, we`ll be able to pass that out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, thank you so much, Sergeant.

I want to go to Dana Wimbley, who`s an Internet radio host with DanaRadio.com. You`re there in Little Rock, Arkansas. How has this horrific crime, during the holiday season, impacted the folks there?

DANA WIMBLEY, INTERNET RADIO HOST: Well, you can first imagine how serious and heartfelt the people in the community of the Ft. Smith area are actually feeling, as this is a holiday time. You know, New Year`s Eve, people are going out, supposedly, to have fun. And for something like this, of this sort to happen, to such -- what many of her friends and family were saying, to such a sweet, outgoing young lady, it`s pretty sad, for it to happen -- at any time of the year, it`s very sad.

But I wanted to mention something when we were talking about her husband, Brent. And I looked at a couple of police reports, and they actually, Cassie and Brent, had a couple of incidents in the past.

And I noticed on the police reports, back on March 6 of this year, Brent was arrested and charged with battery with the third degree. And in that incident, the police report says that Brent pushed Cassie up against a dresser and hit her head, and there was a bump that was noticed on the back of her head. And all of this information was actually documented in that police report.

But there was also another police report dated October 7, 2010, when Brent was once again charged. That time, it was for second-degree domestic assault. And in that incident, the police report says when Cassie came to bed that evening, he grabbed her by the hair, pulled her out of the bed. And they started fighting, and he put his hands around her neck in an attempt to choke her. And the police report goes on to say a lot more graphic things than that.

But one thing that I did notice and the consistency is that alcohol did play a major factor. And it was also said by the young lady`s mother that she was intoxicated the last time she was seen. And we do know that New Year`s Eve, the holiday, people were having a little fun and going to some parties and things of that sort.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me ask you that, Dana. Do we know where she was last seen? Because I know her car was found at the home that she presumably shared with her husband, and there were reports that she had said she was going to another party. Did she actually go to a party, or did she never get there?

WIMBLEY: That is actually evidence that`s still floating in the air, because the thing -- it says that she was supposed to go to the party with that guy that was mentioned on Facebook, Brandon. But we still are not for sure if she ever went to the party. Nobody -- if there ever even was a party. That information is still kind of part of the investigation right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to bring in Steve Moore, former FBI agent. What really breaks my heart is that, and again, this man is just accused. He preserves the presumption of evidence. His attorney is invited on any time.

But given the facts that we`ve just heard about a history of domestic violence, that this is such a classic case, it would seem, if, in fact, the police are right. And we have escalating violence that sometimes leads to murder. This happens! And we`ve got to warn women. We`ve got to warn women that, if you`re in an abusive relationship, get out immediately. Get out far, get out fast, and don`t come back.

STEVE MOORE, FORMER FBI AGENT: Yes. Abusive relationships do not get better. I don`t know the dynamics of staying in one. I honestly -- I understand that women are sometimes prone to stay in those, because of traumas that they`ve had, but you`ve got to get away. You`ve got to get away. It will not get better.

And you know, you`ve got this guy, who might have some -- some jealousy issues on top of it. Heck, you don`t know if he`s not -- if he`s not Brandon [SIC] trying to check on his wife. I think it`s kind of interesting that she tells Brandon to get lost just a few minutes before the last time she`s seen.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, and then, if Dana`s accurate, and Dana gave us a very good report with a lot of facts in it, if there`s alcohol also involved, that`s another factor that can ratchet up the drama and the potential for violence.

Again, if that family, the family of Cassie Cotta, is watching, our hearts go out to you. We`re so sorry to have to report that breaking news. It pains us deeply.

Coming up, a new twist in the Casey Anthony saga. Medical examiner Dr. G., who did little Caylee`s autopsy, is speaking out.

Plus, a shake up on Jodi Arias` defense team. We`re going to talk to a woman with who sat down on one-on-one with this absolutely mystifying defendant and talked to her. This is a young woman who`s accused of slitting her ex-boyfriend`s throat and stabbing him 27 times.

And we`re taking your calls. What do you want to know about Jodi Arias, accused of murder in a capital case, very similar to Casey Anthony, many said. 1-877-586-7297. Give me a call now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JODI ARIAS, ON TRIAL FOR MURDER: This isn`t a -- it isn`t a two-sided story. This is a multi-faceted story. There are many sides to this story, and I just don`t feel like mine has been represented.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jodi Arias, she`s young and beautiful. Police say she`s a cold-blooded killer.

ARIAS: This isn`t a two-sided story. This is a multi-faceted story. There are many sides to this story. And I just don`t feel like mine has been represented.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s frightening, both her calm, and what`s also a little disturbing is how much she seems to be liking all of this attention.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news tonight in the murder trial of Jodi Arias, that beautiful woman accused of viciously -- and I mean, viciously - - murdering her former boyfriend by stabbing him 27 times and slashing his throat. Oh, did I mention a shot to the face, as well?

Today a judge ruled that, well, the trial has to be postponed, all the way until October 17. That`s right, about 10 months from now. This after Jodi`s attorney withdrew from the case, citing a conflict of interest. And now a new death-penalty-qualified lawyer who`s on the case and needs time to get up to speed.

You know the story. We`ve heard it all before, in different cases. Is justice delayed justice served? Hmm.

Jodi is facing the death penalty because she is accused of unimaginable brutality against her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander. Police say she shot Travis in the face, stabbed him 27 times, and slit his throat from ear to ear. Listen to this from CBS` "48 Hours."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAUREEN MAHER, CORRESPONDENT, CBS`S "48 HOURS": You never called anybody. You never told anybody. You never did anything. And it wasn`t until five days later that anyone even knew the guy was missing.

ARIAS: I`m really ashamed for the way I left him there. And I know that people will look at me and say, "Oh, yes, he really meant a lot to you, didn`t he, by the way that you just left him there. "

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And tonight, in just a moment, we`re going to talk to the reporter who conducted that extraordinary interview for "48 Hours."

Arias has repeatedly changed her story. First she insisted she wasn`t anywhere near the house. Then she blamed intruders. Finally, she said, "Oh, yes, I killed him, but it was in self-defense."

Straight out to my very special guest, Maureen Maher, correspondent for CBS`s "48 Hours." She interviewed Jodi Arias in prison.

Maureen, thank you for joining us. I guess that the bottom line here is people cannot -- they cannot reconcile this ladylike, soft-spoken woman and the horror that she`s accused of. Now, you spent time with her behind bars. If you had to tell a friend, what`s your impression of Jodi Arias?

MAHER: You know, Jane, I think at "48 Hours," one of the things we like to do is walk right down the middle of the line of the line and try to present both sides as fairly, as accurately, and as objectively as we can.

But every once in a while, we do an interview with a defendant who is so fascinating, and not necessarily in a good way, but just truly a psychological way, I`d rather just put the interview of that person up. And Jodi Arias was one of those people.

We had a long evening with her. If I remember, it was about four, almost five hours with her at the county jail where she was being held at the time. And Jodi is extremely articulate. She`s beautiful, but she`s also very well spoken. She`s not hysterical. She`s not overly emotional.

And interestingly enough, she never once said a negative word about Travis. She never once tried to say that he was anything other than very good to her, despite some obvious problems in their relationship. She was a fascinating character.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I want to play a clip from your "48 Hours" interview with Jodi Arias. Lots of talk about Jodi`s attitude throughout the investigation, starting with her very happy-looking mug shot. Look at that. She`s smiling. It looks like a head shot for somebody who wants to get into TV commercials. Here`s what she said about that mug shot.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ARIAS: One of my first thoughts when I was actually being booked, I was a little bit like, "Wow, I see this stuff on TV all the time. This is so interesting. It`s almost just like I`ve seen it on TV." And I thought to myself, you know, what would Travis do if he were in this situation? This is why I`m here.

And barring the fact that he would likely not get himself into such circumstances, he would -- he would be smiling. He would be like, hey, you know? He would just flash this grin that he always does. And so there was part of that, and also part of the fact that I knew it would be all over the Internet, so, why not?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, her inappropriate reactions, Maureen, make me think that maybe she`s cuckoo in the head, maybe not clinically to be judged incompetent to stand trial, but just enough to be a stalker, to be dangerous, and to have no understanding of the horror she allegedly committed.

MAHER: She`s either a tremendous actress, and without deciding whether or not you think she`s guilty, if you just look at her behavior since the incident, since Travis was killed, she`s either a tremendous actress or she does have tremendous psychological problems.

She`s able to sit and talk with us coherently for hours at a time. She has been in the spotlight, by her choice, from the very beginning. And the detective who arrested her told us that, when he went to the house to arrest her, she said, "Just a minute, let me go. I want to put some makeup on before you take me outside."

So there`s this strange disconnect with Jodi, which is why I say she`s either a great actress, that she`s playing this role, or truly, there`s something in this young woman`s head that does not connect with what happened to Travis. Whether you believe -- which story you believe of hers, it doesn`t matter. There`s just a true disconnect.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Or have we got to the point where people want fame, infamy, and it doesn`t matter at what price? More in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC: "O HOLY NIGHT")

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, she`s winning singing competitions behind bars, no joke. Meantime, the victim, Travis, well, his friends found his body and called 911. And those friends immediately pointed the finger at Jodi. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, does anyone know if he`s ever -- if he reported that to the police?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he`s ever called the police? No one -- I don`t think he has. I asked him because I was -- he told me one time -- well, several times, she slit people`s tires that were parked in front of his house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s her name, Traci?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jodi. I don`t know her last name, though.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We have tonight Taylor Searle, who`s a close friend of the victim, Travis Alexander. Tell us about what you believe were her stalking tendencies and behavior, slashing tires, et cetera?

TAYLOR SEARLE, FRIEND OF VICTIM: A lot of the stories I`ve heard are that she would always follow around him and the girls that he was dating, and either I`ve heard stories of her watching them sleep, or heard stories of her watching through windows or doorways. And there`s stories also of allegedly her slashing his tires two nights in a row, outside his girlfriend`s house. So there`s a lot of stories like that going around that I`ve heard, since and from him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You -- Taylor, you attended the memorial service and she showed up. What was her behavior like there?

SEARLE: She acted like the rest of us, sad and melancholy, and when she spoke to me, it was just like you`d expect her to speak. Just soft- spoken.

One thing I did hear from one of the speakers was that, during one of the speeches at the memorial service, she sat in the center, just glaring up with a big smile, beaming to the speaker, almost as if she was -- had won a prize or something. It was really creepy to hear that story.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, creepy is the sense I`m getting from so many people. We`ve got a caller, Nelly, Michigan. Your question or thought, Nelly?

CALLER: Hi, Jane, how are you tonight?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Good, thanks.

CALLER: My comment or question is, what has happened to the defense team member that recently quit, right before Christmastime? Is there any word on what happened, why they left?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Excellent question. Maureen?

MAHER: Why they left? My understanding is there was a conflict of interest. And you have to have -- if it`s a death penalty case, you must have a death-penalty-certified attorney at the table throughout the trial. And apparently, there was some conflict of interest with this attorney, so she stepped aside. A new attorney is going to be coming on, and they have to be brought up to speed before they can start the trial.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, there was a camera found, and there were some very sexual pictures on it, but then two minutes later, there was purportedly a picture of the victim dead. How, Maureen, could she possibly argue that there`s going to be self-defense if there were supposedly loving or sexual pictures two minutes before?

MAHER: Well, Jane, we`ve got ten months now before the trial is scheduled to start. We`ve had quite a few dates, and then they`ve been pushed off. And Jodi seems to have changed her story several times. She`s changed it with us at "48 Hours." She`s certainly changed it with the court and authorities. So I think before we can comment on how she`s going to argue self-defense, we`ve got to wait to see what she`s going to show up with on day one of the trial.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I want to thank you, Maureen.

I want to thank you, Taylor. We`re just getting started. We`re going to stay all over these stories and this story. Come back soon.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF ASHTON, PROSECUTOR: I don`t want to address any specific case during this race. This race is not about any one case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, find the defendant not guilty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, they just let a baby killer -- obvious baby killer out of jail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have an opinion as to the manner of death in this case?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is that opinion?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Homicide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is disgusting. The baby -- what about her?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justice for Caylee. Justice for Caylee. Justice for Caylee.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As to the charge of first-degree murder, verdict as to count one, we the jury find the defendant not guilty. Not guilty. Not guilty.

Not guilty. Not guilty.

ASHTON: I believe the state attorney`s job is to be a prosecutor. And I hope to be that prosecutor in 2013. Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It never ends. More crazy developments in the Casey Anthony case: the famous medical examiner, Dr. G., who examined little Caylee`s remains, finally gives her opinion about what she thinks happened to Caylee in a new special on her hit TLC show. Check it out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. JAN GARAVAGUA, MEDICAL EXAMINER: Although I strongly suspect that it was an asphyxial type of death, possibly mixed with drugs, it wasn`t enough to give the cause of death.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This as -- well, this is a head spinner -- the lead prosecutor in Casey`s murder trial, you know, Jeff Ashton, he made a huge bombshell announcement today. Yes, here he is, the guy who lost the biggest case Americans have seen in years, and he has just announced that he is running for Florida`s top prosecutor in that area, the very gig that basically his old boss has right now.

And Jeff says, hey, we need to have a higher conviction rate. Hold on, didn`t he just lose the biggest case that they`ve seen come down the pike in decades? I love Jeff, but he made the announcement on the very same courthouse steps where people screamed and fought after Casey Anthony was found not guilty of all the serious counts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASHTON: The present state attorney`s office has the second lowest conviction rate in the entire state of Florida. For the last ten years of my service at the state attorney`s office, I saw the reputation of that office in steady decline. I believe that it is time for new leadership.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You cannot make this stuff up. I have interviewed Jeff Ashton. I like him. I respect him. He is a very decent man.

But does anybody else see something a little ironic about this? Is it just me? You think it`s odd he`s using the bad conviction rate as an argument for running, to take over for his boss, his former boss, when he lost the biggest case in the country?

I want to throw it out to a woman who sat next to me, and I sat next to her during the trial of Casey Anthony, Robyn Walensky, author of "Beautiful Life: The CSI behind the Casey Anthony Trial and My Observations from Courtroom Seat Number One". I guess I was in Seat Number Two, Robyn. Do you find it ironic, or is it just me?

ROBYN WALENSKY, AUTHOR, "BEAUTIFUL LIFE": You know, first of all, Happy New Year, Jane, thanks for having me on the show.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You too.

WALENSKY: I have to just tell you that I knew for a long time that he was thinking about doing this. He is a household name, Jeff Ashton. And as you know, Jane, this is a popularity contest when you run for any office. And I believe, you know, he`s running against his boss, Lamar, Lawson Lamar, and the bottom line there is that there in Florida, there are many people who believe that Lamar overcharged this case by going for the death penalty.

And you sort of, kind of want to believe that Jeff Ashton, if he would have been in that job, perhaps he wouldn`t have gone for that charge, and there would have been a very different outcome to this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well --

WALENSKY: And that`s what I think this is about. And you know, you remember, Jane, when we were walking into the court every day, when we were standing outside and all those people, Jeff Ashton had a lot of fans. There were a lot of women that would comment on his suits and his ties. And he would pose for some pictures and sign autographs and stuff. He`s sort of a star down there, even though he didn`t win. I think he has a really good shot.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Well, it`s interesting. They say, spell my name right, it doesn`t matter what they say about me, just spell my name right. I don`t personally adhere to that. Don`t spell my name at all if you`re going to say something terrible.

But I think that name recognition has to relate in some way, shape, or form to what you`ve accomplished. He says he has a 75 percent conviction rate and I know he`s done hundreds of cases. But still, you`ve got to think, well, he lost the Casey Anthony case. That`s just a fact.

In his book, which is a great book, and I urge everybody to read it, Jeff Ashton says, before the trial started he earned a, quote, "Unwanted reprimand". He was told by the folks in his office that he was not a team player and he says he became an overpaid desk ornament, doing trials he was way too qualified for. He says "The political players in the office wanted me buried."

So now, Holly Hughes, criminal defense attorney, that overpaid desk ornament is going after his old boss` job, ripping him apart. Is this a grudge match?

HOLLY HUGHES, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don`t think so. I think Jeff Ashton is ready for the next step. People fail to realize, you know, Ross Perot said it years ago, Jane, if something`s rotten, it`s rotten from the top down. Just because he had to prosecute that case does not mean that he was given everything he needed to do it. He didn`t make the ultimate charging decision to seek the death penalty.

So what Jeff is saying, hey, you know what, my personal conviction rate is 75 percent, which is 25 percent higher than the office at large; if I was in charge, I would give the prosecutors what they need. I would make sure they have the proper investigation.

People don`t realize, you know, the police don`t just bring you a perfect case. As a prosecutor, I did it for ten years --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but Holly --

(CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: I had my own investigator go out and do the job. But I`ve done the job, I know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Like I said, I like Jeff Ashton, but ok, Alexis Tereszcuk, behind door number three, senior reporter at RadarOnline -- maybe you`ll back me up. I like Jeff, he`s a nice guy, he did a good job, but you know what, he didn`t win.

And there are many things that I would have done. I would have taken the jury to the crime scene, so they could see how close the lot where the body was found was to the Anthony home. I would have explained how chloroform is made in the home or how it can be made. I would have done a lot of different things than he did. I mean, are we supposed to just give him a complete pass on this?

ALEXIS TERESZCUK, SENIOR REPORTER, RADARONLINE: You know, I think the thing is, I completely agree with you. There are a lot of things they should have done differently. And even the defense says he shouldn`t have been laughing during closing arguments. It seems like the people of Florida actually blame the jurors. They really don`t seem to place any blame on Jeff.

His book was very successful, as you said. He is somebody that is very popular despite losing the case of the century. People really blame those crazy jurors. They think that they just ignored everything that he gave them and just went with Casey being not guilty.

But you`re right in that it was -- perhaps it was the overcharging, but it`s really hard that when your biggest case is a loss that you`re going to win a political office. People, when they get in that voting booth, they really want results, and that`s one huge loss; I don`t know if he can overcome that, at all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: all right. Well, we`ll see. It`s a horse -- I don`t want to say horse race, that species is -- sorry (ph) -- take it back.

We`re going to go to the phone lines. John, New Jersey, your question or thought, John.

JOHN, NEW JERSEY (via telephone): Hey, how are you doing? Can you hear me?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, I can.

JOHN: What was your question, ma`am.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No, it`s your question, sir. What is your question or thought about Casey?

JOHN: I think she did it and I think she got away with murder on that one.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, would you vote for Jeff Ashton, the prosecutor, to be the top prosecutor in that area, John?

JOHN: Sure. I think he did a pretty good job. I mean, you know, you can`t win them all. I think he did the best he could with what he had to work with. You know, it was a difficult case, you know?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Well, guess what, I think you`re a pretty good survey. We just did an instant survey of one person. But apparently all the experts think that he has a good chance to overcome his old boss and win.

And you know what, I wish him the best. He`s a good guy and he`s a great attorney. I`m just saying he lost the biggest case they`ve ever seen. That`s all I`m saying.

Casey`s defense attorney, Cheney Mason, who is a character in and of himself, and who loves to flip the bird at reporters, he has just filed a motion, I`ve got it right here, trying to hold Jeff Ashton in contempt of court for spilling secrets in his book, secrets that were supposed to remain sealed, allegedly, according to Cheney Mason.

Check this out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You say Casey told not one but two therapists that her own father, George Anthony, murdered Caylee, either intentionally or in the act of molestation.

ASHTON: She went to great lengths to point out certain facts, as she said they were, indicating that George had killed her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Robyn, it says here, Cheney Mason is saying he violated a court order to keep all that stuff sealed about what Casey told the psychiatrist, which was a totally different story from what we heard in court, and now he wants Jeff Ashton, who`s running for top prosecutor, to be held in contempt.

WALENSKY: Well, listen, Jane, there`s bad blood between these two. I don`t think this is going to go anywhere. I think that the folks in Orlando have had enough of this case. And while he`s filing motions, Cheney Mason, at the end of the day I think it`s going nowhere fast. And you know, when people write books, they come up with nuggets, you know, to sell the books. I`m sure what he said was true. But I really don`t think that this is a legal thing that is going to go anywhere at all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Holly, ten seconds. Do you think Jeff Ashton is going to win?

HUGHES: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was four seconds.

HUGHES: That`s all I need. No, that`s all I need, Jane. I think the man`s going to win. Because as our other guest pointed out, everybody blames the jury, not the prosecutor for this big loss.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think it`s multi-determined, as the shrinks would say. I think there were a lot of factors that went into the loss. And we`re going to have to see. I guess we better be real nice to Jeff, because everybody seems to agree, he`s going to take that job that used to belong to his boss.

Thank you so much, fantastic panel.

Up next, yes, it`s happened again. Another celebrity marriage bites the dust; Katy Perry and Russell Brand, filing for divorce. What a kooky couple they were to begin with. I`m taking your calls, 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1- 877-586-7297. Why are all these Hollywood superstars getting married and then getting divorced right after? And how are they going to divide up their millions?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hollywood couple Katy Perry and Russell Brand are getting divorced. This past week, the pop star and the comedian were spotted separately without their wedding rings. They did have a massive fight over the holidays.

RUSSELL BRAND, COMEDIAN: I`ve discovered increasingly that my wife is very, very funny. She`s a funny person to be around. She`s a lunatic, has crazy voices, and a lots of frankly undoable domestic requests.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In divorce papers, Brand had cited irreconcilable differences, but he says, and I`m quoting, "I`ll always adore her, and I know we`ll remain friends."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is there something in the sparkling water in Hollywood? Yet another superstar couple headed for Splitsville. Pop princess Katy Perry and her hilarious movie star husband Russell Brand calling it quits after only 14 months of marriage. Come on, kids, get it together.

Katy Perry rocketed to fame with a song I happen to love "I Kissed a Girl" from Capital Records.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(EXCERPT FROM KATY PERRY`S "I KISSED A GIRL")

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I guess he kissed off her cherry Chapstick and was done with her. TMZ claims that Katy Perry actually wanted Russell to be the one to file for divorce, so as not to upset her Evangelical Christian parents who reportedly believe divorce is wrong.

Ironically Russell, the recovering drug and sex addict, was reportedly none too happy with Katy`s alleged hard partying and her fun-loving friends like Rihanna. You remember this from Def Jam Records.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(EXCERPT FROM RIHANNA`S VIDEO)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I guess old Russell settled down in what looks like a classic case of role reversal. The recovering party boy, who allegedly used to do tons of drugs and sleep around a whole lot, told the pastor`s daughter, "Tone it down, wife."

Russell having already sowed his wild oats has allegedly become a home body and didn`t want his wife to party so much. This is all in the ether. I don`t know. I`m not partying with them, that`s for sure.

What do you think? Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to entertainment reporter extraordinaire, Jawn Murray; I think this is a case of extreme opposites attract like a magnet, but then they turn into a reverse magnet.

JAWN MURRAY, ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER: And Jane, I agree with that, and I also think they didn`t really spend enough time getting to know each other. Now I know this is -- I`m saying this in the world of Khloe and Lamar Odom who knew each other for 30 days and they got married and they`re still hanging in there.

But, you know, people have to really get to know their mate before they jump the room. These people met at the MTV Video Music Awards, four months later they were engaged, and next thing we know, they were married.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Come on, haven`t you ever fallen in love at first sight?

MURRAY: Yes, but love at first sight not in California where you have to split things in half, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you have to take off your sunglasses if you`re going to fall in love at first sight. That`s what I say.

Ok. There have been rumors for months about trouble in paradise, but even as recently as last month, the two were saying things were going swimmingly. Listen to Russell Brand on Ellen just last month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRAND: She should have told me. I`m married to Katy, perpetually, until death do us part, is the pledge.

ELLEN DEGENERES, TALK SHOW HOST: Yes.

BRAND: I`m still alive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Alexis Tereszcuk, why do they do that? Why do they insist everything is just fine and dandy two weeks before they get divorced?

TERESZCUK: I think they are hoping and praying that nobody finds out, that they think that everybody will believe them if they go on a television show and say, we`re perfectly happy, don`t worry. They think that no one`s going to find out about their fights or no one`s going to notice when they step out without a wedding ring on, which isn`t really the case anymore, unfortunately.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, I mean, please. These people are very sophisticated. They`re at the top of their game. I love them both as artists. Just don`t lie. Don`t get on television and say everything`s fine. Be honest. Say, hey, things are a little messy at home. We`re trying to work on it. Say something other than, "I`m blissfully happy."

Katy and Russell`s divorce is right on the heels of another big Hollywood split -- Kim Kardashian`s fairy tale $10 million wedding, seen on E! to Kris Humphries ended in only 72 days. A lot of people were royally PO`d.

Katy and Russell had a lavish six-day wedding in India, and I think it`s very offensive that they used 21 camels, horses, elephants -- those animals should not be used for entertainment. But frankly, a marriage and a wedding shouldn`t be just entertainment.

Vikki Ziegler, I think that these big stars -- that`s disgusting to me. These big stars use these weddings like performance art.

VIKKI ZIEGLER, FAMILY ATTORNEY: Yes, absolutely, Jane. And I think everyone`s focusing on that big, lavish wedding, where everyone`s watching and hoping that that love affair continues. But they`re not really planning a marriage. That`s what they`re not doing. And that`s a major problem, because that won`t last.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side we`re talking money, lots of it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRAND: I`ve discovered increasingly that my wife is very, very funny. She`s a funny person to be around. She a lunatic, does crazy voices and a lot of bizarre, frankly undoable domestic requests.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think he`s so cute. He`s crossed over from a comedian to a movie star to wit, "Arthur", from Warner Brothers. Check out this clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRAND: What was that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A French kiss.

BRAND: Really? Because the French always surrender. That was decidedly German.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your mother will see you now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Arthur, to what do I owe the pleasure?

BRAND: I don`t want to marry --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Vikki Ziegler, family law attorney, I`m holding the divorce papers. It says property rights to be determined. Some people say that implies they did not have a pre-nup. He`s worth $17 million. She`s worth anywhere from $44 million to $70 million. How does it get divvied up?

ZIEGLER: Jane I have that document in front of me. And you`re 100 percent right. Paragraphs four and five say nothing about the premarital agreement which means whatever they have before they had before they got into this marriage is going to be kept separate. Anything that was acquired or earned from the date of marriage to the date of separation which we`re not 100 percent sure what actual date that is -- it could be the filing, it could be a date they agree on -- can be divided equally.

Katy Perry is on tour; she`s making serious money right now. In the last 12 months they could be dividing up to 15 million in half -- 50/50. He could be looking at $7 to $8 million on top of his $15 or $20 million net worth.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: No wonder he didn`t want her to party so much. Renee, New Jersey, your question or thought?

RENEE, NEW JERSEY (via telephone): yes, Jane, how are you? I just wanted to say I knew from the beginning that this marriage was not going work. When I look at her divorce and Kim Kardashian`s divorce the amount of money that has gone into the wedding and into the divorce is -- by all means get married everybody has a chance on love. To put that money out is such a waste when on the other side of the world, not to sound cliche, but on the other side of the world, many, many people could be using that kind of money to feed those kids that are starving.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you. I agree with you, Renee.

Jawn Murray there`s something obscene about spending millions of dollars on a wedding when every five seconds somebody dies of malnutrition.

MURRAY: That`s true, Jane. I mean Whoopi Goldberg puts it best. Go to the justice of the peace and just throw yourself a party afterwards.

And I have a theory about this couple, Jane. You know, Rosie O`Donnell premiered back in October with a new talk show, you know. Russell Brand is her new Tom Cruise, he`s her big crush and she`s been inviting him to come stay at her house to live and I think that`s why he filed for divorce.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that would certainly be an odd couple. We thought Katy Perry and Russell Brand was an odd couple. You got something else coming. Who knows?

And since people are apparently getting married because it`s good for the ratings, you never know what could happen. Pretty exciting, I think not.

No. Seriously, I believe in real love and I think that while it`s great that they are adventurous and they throw their hat over the fence and they hope that maybe it will last. Let`s be real. It`s Hollywood. I mean being married for 14 months in Hollywood is like being married for 14 years in Middle America. The temptations -- the temptations are huge, Alexis.

TERESZCUK: You`re absolutely right. Katy is really young and she`s got this huge career. She can travel all over the world. She can get into the best clubs, the best parties. She can afford to fly all of her friends with her everywhere. I think she`s really enjoying having a good time.

And Russell is beyond that. He`s almost a decade older than she is. He wants to stay at home. He wants babies. He wants a normal life and Katy is just at the beginning of her career so she`s going to have a good time without him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, look, he`s in recovery. I`m in recovery. Yes. You can`t go partying until 4:00 in the morning when you`re in recovery. Nothing good happens after midnight.

Back in a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Singer O`Connor has everyone beat. She got married December 8th and filed for divorce 18 days later. Sinead, you are the big winner or actually the big loser. What`s going on with these Hollywood couples?

Adele, California, your question or thought?

ADELE, CALIFORNIA (via telephone): Hi, Jane, how are you?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hi. Good.

ADELE: I have to say I believe that once you choose to enter the limelight and choose that kind of a life you`re essentially forfeiting your right to marriage. At the end of the day you can`t have your cake and eat it too.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I kind of think you`re right. I think we should have a ban on all marriages once people reach a certain level of fame and stardom. Not really but I think they should think twice; they are not like us regular humans.

"NANCY GRACE" next.

END