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Girl Fights Off Kidnapper; Fifth-Grade Teacher Charged with Raping Student

Aired February 9, 2012 - 19:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, coming to you live from New York City.

A young girl thwarts her own abduction, and it`s all caught on videotape. I`m going to be speaking to this young hero live in just a moment. And we`re going to tell you how to make sure this doesn`t happen to your child next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Tonight I`m talking to the one who got away. The 7-year-old girl, almost kidnapped at a Georgia Wal-Mart, but she fought back, and her attacker gave up. We`ve uncovered the suspect`s criminal past, and we`ll tell you all about it. Brittany Baxter and her mom join me live, and they`ll share what every child needs to know about stranger danger.

Then, a married mother of three and fifth-grade teacher charged with raping a boy under 16. Was this trusted teacher leading a double life? I`ll speak to Owen Lafave, the ex-husband of notorious convicted sex offender and former teacher, Debra Lafave.

Plus, a handsome husband accused of beating his pregnant wife to death claims he was away on business when she was killed. Now, a gas station clerk testifies Jason Young was in her store when he claims he was in a hotel sleeping. So will this witness hold up under cross-examination? And how does a marriage get this toxic?

And we`ve been telling you about families who have fire spewing from their water faucets and say fracking is to blame. Tonight, a pro-fracking filmmaker joins me. He insists the fire in the faucet has nothing to do with industry drilling. Really?

And we`ll show you a fabulous way to save money and show you really care this Valentine`s Day. We`re taking your calls.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A man had tried to kidnap her. Had picked her up and put his hand over her mouth. And she was kicking and screaming. And he dropped her and then ran out.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Good evening, everyone. Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live from New York City.

A heroic young girl, just 7 years old, fights off a kidnapper in a Wal-Mart. Brittany Baxter and her mom are joining me tonight in a primetime exclusive.

This is a story every mom, every dad, every grandparent, every babysitter absolutely has to hear. What an amazing little girl.

Watch this, all caught on surveillance video. The man comes into view after scooping up this little girl, but she forces him to put her down. And then he runs away like the coward he is.

Seven-year-old Brittany explains exactly how she escaped the man cops say was trying to abduct her.


BRITTANY BAXTER, FOUGHT OFF KIDNAPPER: Yes. I was just like moving, trying to do this, kick as hard as I can. To try to get away and go tell somebody I can trust.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And such a cutie too.

This sicko here raced away. But security cameras in the Wal-Mart parking lot captured him getting his car and zooming off. It took just minutes for police to catch up and arrest the suspect who, by the way, just got out of jail. Just imagine if this little girl had been taken. But thank God she wasn`t.

I want to hear from you. Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to my very special guest, 7-year-old Brittany and her mom, Georgann.

Brittany, first of all, I think we can all give her a round of applause. Woo! You are amazing.

And you too, Mom.

And I`m so glad that you, Brittany, knew what to do. So start from the beginning when this bad man approached you, came up to you. Tell us what happened, Brittany. Take us through it.

B. BAXTER: Well, he just came up to me and started a conversation. And then after he was like -- I said, "I`m going to go get my mom." And he picked me up, and I was kicking and screaming as hard as I can.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How did you know to kick and scream?

B. BAXTER: Because my mom, my dad, and people at my school always tells me that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you learned this in school from the stranger danger program. Can you give me an example of how you screamed right now? And what -- give us an example. Show us how you screamed. Do it.

GEORGANN BAXTER, MOTHER: Scream. Show them. Show them how you screamed.

B. BAXTER: I`m too shy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re too shy. Oh, all right. I`m going to give you one more chance. Come on. Three, two, one. Give us a little scream. You know what, you don`t have to scream. You did it at the right time. And that`s the most important.

But it does show you that sometimes, just because a parent says or an adult says scream doesn`t mean that the child can. You know, a

As adults we become paralyzed with fear. Have you ever thought somebody had broken into your house and all of a sudden you -- it`s happened to me. Not that it was broken into, but I felt like I heard something and I became paralyzed with fear. You must be so proud, Georgann.

G. BAXTER: I am. I am very proud of her. She did the right thing at the right time. Because we were walking around the Wal-Mart and we felt safe, and we were picking out Valentine`s Day cards and just, you know, looking around at the toys and things. We went there to get strawberries. And I told her, I said, "Are you ready to go get the strawberries?"

She said, "No, Mom, I want to stay here and look at the toys for a few more minutes."

And then I told her, I said, "I`m going to go get the strawberries. I`ll be right back." And now that I think back, I think probably that man, you know, may have been listening to our conversation and, you know, was waiting for me to walk away.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I want to bring in Jon Lieberman, who was a correspondent for "America`s Most Wanted" for years. He covered so many of these abduction cases. Tragically, so have I.

You were nodding your head when she said that this perpetrator may have been listening to their conversation.

JON LIEBERMAN, JOURNALIST: Absolutely. Generally, these perpetrators plan out, at least a little bit, how they`re going to do it. And it starts many times with them eavesdropping and picking a good target, in their mind a good target.

And you know, like she just said, we all start feeling comfortable with our kids. We feel safe in a certain store. But these predators, and that`s what they are. Accused predator here. They come in all shapes and sizes. They don`t have to look strange. They don`t have to look a certain way. And so we can never really get lulled into that sense of false security, because you never know who`s lurking around that next corner.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes. Our stereotype in our mind of what a predator looks like or an abductor. No. This guy could look like anybody`s father or brother. And this is the guy, who -- it took less than an hour for cops to find this guy in this attempted, alleged kidnapping.

Thomas Woods lives in the very same area as this Wal-Mart. And he was arrested. And of course he proclaims his innocence. Let`s listen to this suspect.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened in the store?

THOMAS WOOD, SUSPECT: Anybody -- didn`t bother nobody. I was never there.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Obviously, he or his attorney are invited anytime on our show. I have some questions to ask him.

But look at his rap sheet. And I`m going to show it to you right now. He was released from jail on probation just this past October. His crime: voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to seven years. He got out after serving four and a half.

And I`ve got to go to the chief of the local Georgia police department.

You know, this to me says what I`ve always believed, is that you can`t take people who have tendencies that would get them convicted of manslaughter and then free them back on the street without tracking them, without putting some kind of ankle bracelet on them, without putting them in some kind of a program where they are monitored, because it`s a catch- and-release situation.

And given their history -- you know what they stay in 12-step? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, Chief.

Do you think we need to change the rules so that guys like this are not, allegedly -- he hasn`t been convicted yet, even though there`s a video -- running around trying to abduct children?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I agree with you. I think it`s time we have to look at things for the safety of our children. Fortunately, things are in place to train our kids and Brittany did exactly the right thing to do. So those things are in place. And maybe we need to look at our end of things.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, one of the unsung heroes of this whole story is Brittany`s younger brother. And I want to show you a photo of him. And his name is Chad Knowles. He`s 18 years old. He is a private in the U.S. Army.

And get this: just by coincidence, a few days before this attempted abduction, he was with his kid sister, Brittany, and teaching her how to defend herself against bad guys. And little did he know how profound and important a lesson that would be.

So first of all, let`s go back to Georgann. What kind of lesson was Chad giving Brittany? Tell us. Describe it.

G. BAXTER: He would show, like, different moves. Like, if anybody ever grabs you like this, like do this. Or hit them there or something to try to free yourself. Because that`s what he was being taught in basic training. And he would come home and teach the same thing to her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, there are so many organizations out there dedicated to teaching kids precisely this.

Another one of my heroes, Erin Runnion, her daughter was abducted and murdered. And she founded this organization, the Joyful Child Foundation, to educate kids. Let`s take a look at some of the training that they give kids to protect themselves.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon Lieberman, some parents might say, "Well, that`s a little over the top." But I say no, not in this day in age.

LIEBERMAN: Absolutely not. Two of the best things that I`ve seen in my time when I was at "America`s Most Wanted," was going for the eyes with your nails and also going for the mid-section, kicking somebody in the mid- section. Those are two very good ways that kids can stop a would-be attacker from abducting them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And as we look at this video, I want to show you what somebody told me. And this was somebody who had done a lot of work with children. And let`s screen it so I can show you what I`m talking about.

If a car is going like this and you teach your child if you`re running away from the car, do not run in the same direction the car is going but go in the opposition direction. If you teach your child that one thing, just to run in the opposite direction of the car, so that the car would have to turn around to follow you, it increases the child`s chance of survival by a huge percentage and makes it quite likely that the child will get away.

These are the kind of tips that you parents, you grandparents, you babysitters have to know. And we`re going to share them with you right here on our show.

More in just a second. We`re taking your calls. What would you like to ask this little girl, this brave child and her mom? 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1- 877-586-7297.

Later, a trusted teacher charged with rape. Did he [SIC] have sex with a student -- or did she?

We`re going to have more of our second grader brave enough to fight off a would-be kidnapper. Would your child know? Would your child know what to do in the same situation?


B. BAXTER: Yes. I was just like trying to do this, kick as hard as I can and try to get away and go tell somebody that I can trust.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stunning video shows a little girl fighting off a man who grabbed her in the toy aisle of a Wal-Mart.

B. BAXTER: I was looking at princess stuff. Yes. I was just like trying to do this, kick as hard as I can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s chilling to know that -- how quick something can happen.

B. BAXTER: You try to get away and go tell somebody I can trust.

G. BAXTER: If this can help save another kid then, you know, then that would help.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Take a look at that video. It`s every parent`s worst nightmare, the thing that they fear most. And they`re at a Wal-Mart just shopping, getting ready for Valentine`s Day. And we`re going to show you the mug shot of this guy.

This guy just got out of prison for manslaughter. And he`s in his mid-20s. And he goes up, and he tries to abduct this child. Thank God Brittany, being inherently courageous and also taking a special program at her school that teaches kids how to protect themselves.

Listen to her school counselor explain exactly how this whole class worked.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do have a program called Good Touch, Bad Touch. And it mainly focuses on abuse, on physical abuse. But the rules, the body touching (ph) rules that that program teaches are applicable to any situation where the child feels uncomfortable. Certainly, this situation. And Brittany basically executed rule No. 3 to perfection.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. All right, we`re going out to the phone lines. They`re lighting up. Brian, Washington, your question or thought, Brian?

CALLER: Hello?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hi, Brian. What`s your question or thought?

CALLER: All right. Well, my first though -- my thought is kudos to the mom. I think, you know, it`s great parenting for her to teach her child to be, you know, protective of herself. So good job, Mom.


CALLER: Second, I think this country seems to be in severe moral decay. And it`s really sad, because we hear this going on all over the place. It seems like more now than ever.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You are absolutely right. In fact, this abduction happened near Bremen, Georgia, just a little -- over an hour away from Canton, Georgia, where another 7-year-old girl, Jorelys Rivera, was kidnapped and killed by the handyman that worked in her building. Watch what her murderer said as he confessed in court.


RYAN BRUNN, CONFESSED MURDERER: Was going to lure her in for sexual conduct with myself here. I never had an idea of killing a child in my life. I was just so terrified and scared that -- I didn`t want her to go home and tell her mom or dad on me.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, again, this person doesn`t fit, maybe, the stereotypes that are out there about an abductor. You might think of a hulky, very large man, or maybe an older guy in a trench coat.

These are young guys that look like they could go into a sporting event, or going to work or be somebody`s brother or somebody`s husband.

Georgann, I want to ask you as the mother, what did you hear? And what did you do?

G. BAXTER: Well, I had went to get the strawberries so I didn`t -- I didn`t hear it. And I was in the store looking for her when they paged me to come back to the front. The manager that I passed on the way to the strawberries, he found her. So I guess he saw it. And I`m assuming the guy dropped her. And so I didn`t -- I didn`t see any of it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, how did you know that something terrible had happened?

G. BAXTER: Well, they paged me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So somebody -- some adult saw this?

G. BAXTER: I`m assuming the manager. Like when I was on the way to the strawberries, I passed the manager. And he -- you know, we passed. And he was going that way, and I was going towards the strawberries. So I`m assuming that he -- you know, when the guy saw me walk away, you know, he didn`t know that anybody was coming. And then I`m assuming the manager came up and saw it, and that`s why he dropped her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, thank God.

Here are some important tips to prevent your child from being abducted. Teach your kids to never approach a strange car. Make sure they remember, adults will never need directions from kids.

If you lose a child in a store or crowded market, immediately go to the cashier or security check. Do not yell out for them. That will only make the kidnappers move away faster.

There are so many tips like this.

I`ve got to go back to Brittany. Were you scared? Were you scared? Were you shaking, Brittany?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What would you tell your friends about how to fight off a bad guy?

B. BAXTER: Well, punch, kick, and scream as hard as you can. And then go tell somebody that you trust.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Push, kick, and scream as hard as you can. Well said. Brittany, hats off to you. You are my hero.

Thank you, fantastic panel.

Up next, a shocking story that you`ve got to see to believe.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Back in a minute but first, here`s your "Viral Video of the Day."





UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fifth-grade reading and language arts teacher Heather Whitten`s arrest came as a surprise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It really makes you think. It makes me worry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of our employees here, they get a background check.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, kids look up to their teachers. They`re supposed to be role models.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s really hard to believe. A married mother of three children and a fifth-grade teacher is now accused of a sexual secret relationship with a boy under 16. If it`s true, that`s called rape.

Cops say the seemingly prim and proper 38-year-old woman led a double life. Now she is charged with second-degree rape. She apparently has no prior history of this kind of behavior. So how on earth does this happen?

Straight out to somebody who knows what this kind of betrayal feels like, Owen Lafave, author of a great book, "Gorgeous Disaster," about his ex-wife, Debra Lafave.

Your wife was a stunning teacher who had sex with a 14-year-old boy while she was married to you. Given that was such a huge scandal -- I think we all remember seeing these videotapes -- are you surprised that these scandals keep happening over and over again, Owen?

OWEN LAFAVE, AUTHOR, "GORGEOUS DISASTER": Yes, Jane, I really am. Especially after all the publicity it seems that each one of these get. And I think the reality is there`s just not a deterrent.

Two things. When you hear the sentences that are given to these female teachers, I think the general perception of the public is that, you know, these boys aren`t victims. And that`s reflected in the sentencing, you know, provided by the judges which, you know, more often than not are a lot more lenient than a male perpetrator.

And then secondarily, I think schools, although they`ve gotten better over the past number of years, haven`t really done an adequate job of training teachers.

And then probably more importantly, it`s the follow-up training and the reinforcement.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think to your point -- exactly. If convicted, Heather Whitten joins a long list of very attractive teachers who have preyed on school boys. When your ex-wife, Owen, when her scandal broke, some men very vocally claimed, oh, this boy was lucky to be chosen by such a beautiful woman. And the boy`s mother even said the court refused to take this whole issue as seriously as it should have, the judge.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t think he took my son into consideration at all with the agreement. On one hand he says he is appalled about the teacher and the child and the molestation because of a person they trust.

And then on the other hand in his statement, "Hey, he`s 16 years old. He was 14 when this happened. It`s not like he`s under 12 years old."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What we know is boys are just as damaged by being sexually abused by adults as girls are. And I think it`s sexist against boys to assume it`s not damaging.

Let me ask you, Owen, about double lives. How -- how do these women and why do these women decide to embark on secret lives that they hide from their husbands?

LAFAVE: You know, that`s a great question. I wish I knew 100 percent in the case of my ex-wife.

But you know, a lot of these teachers, you know, they`re looking for a -- you know, a relationship. And quite frankly, a lot of them have had some sexual abuse in the past. So mentally, you know, they`ve had some damage. And they feel like they are actually having a relationship.

And the unfortunate thing is there`s so much damage that`s done to a child. And yes, boys are victims. And they are severely impacted in their development.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I talked to a man who said he had sex with his teacher as a young boy, and it completely changed his life because it was a peak experience he could never repeat with any other women. It corrupted his morals. He was at an impressionable age, and so his idealization of what was right and what was wrong was impacted. It really, really messed him up.

Great to see you, Owen. You look great. And always -- always wonderful.

All right. Up next, what a case.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That night there was just an eerie feeling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think my sister`s dead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me what happened, ma`am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no idea. Oh, my God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I asked Michelle, do you ever get scared alone by yourself?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a brutal, personal beating.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These wounds could have been received while using her hands to defend herself.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My husband`s first words were, I hope to God he didn`t do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you kill your wife, Michelle?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you there when it happened?

YOUNG: No, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was just a lot of things happened the day that his wife was murdered that he can`t explain.


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: A critical day in a murder trial chockfull of explosive family secrets. How does a marriage get to be as toxic as this one did? Today witness after witness took the stand to describe a scheming, lying, cheating husband who was not where he claimed to be the night his wife was brutally, and I mean brutally murdered. Jason Young insists he was, oh, innocently asleep in a hotel room. His pregnant wife who you are looking at here, Michelle, was beaten and strangled in her bed three hours away.

The prosecutors say he left that hotel, drove to his home, murdered his wife, and drove three hours back to the hotel leaving their precious little child to waddle in the blood. There were bloody footprints of the child -- that child all over the house.

That timeline backed up by a store clerk`s testimony. She says she sold Jason gas the morning of the murder just about 40 miles from where Michelle lay dead. If that`s true, that means Jason is lying.


GRACE CALHOUN, WITNESS: Yes, ma`am. There was a young gentleman that would come in and went to the farther pump to where I couldn`t see nothing at all and tried to get me to authorize the gas pump and I wouldn`t do it. When he came in to pay, he started cussing and raising Cain and threw a 20 at me and told me he was going to get 20 and walked out.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, don`t be rude if you`re not where you`re supposed to be on a night like this. On cross, the defense took direct aim at the store clerk`s memory. And you`re going to hear that in a moment.

Straight out to "In Session" correspondent Beth Karas who is all over this case; Beth, so many secrets are revealed in this trial about things that we would never, ever learn about had tragedy not struck. What have we learned about the toxic state of this marriage?

BETH KARAS, CORRESPONDENT, "IN SESSION": Well, the things we learned about we wouldn`t have heard if there hadn`t been a murder. But other people did know. We heard that it was always a bad relationship. They fought more than they got along.

They married because Michelle got pregnant so one could argue that maybe they just weren`t ready even though they certainly weren`t children. They weren`t teenagers. They were in their late 20s.

We learned that he was very juvenile. She wanted to be romanced. He would say things like "How about a hot beef infection," and it just turned her off. He had a party, just took his clothes off in mixed company and got naked. He swallowed a friend of Michelle`s wedding ring on a dare and they had to wait for him to pass the wedding ring.

So really juvenile things he did. But he also, when he found out she was pregnant with this little boy, who died along with her, that was 5- month-old fetus, he wasn`t very happy about it. She had lost a child that summer in 2006 because they got in a car wreck and she got pregnant right away again. He wasn`t happy about it.

So they fought a lot. There`s no evidence he was ever physical with her, though.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, if he didn`t want her to get pregnant, maybe he shouldn`t have had sex with her. Maybe he should have divorced her.

There are other solutions than the crime that he is charged. Michelle`s friend Shelly testified about the stuff you`re talking about, about the Young`s crumbling marriage and talked about those events. Jason even dragging her into the situation -- this friend -- when his wife discovers evidence that he`s sleeping with other women in the couple`s bed.

Listen to this.


SHELLY SCHAD, VICTIM`S FRIEND: UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michelle discovered a pair of panty. Michelle confronted Jason about it and he said they must belong to Shelly even though they were found in Jason and Michelle`s bedroom. And Michelle immediately called me and asked and I told her no.

The lack of sex in the relationship -- Jason was not shy about telling us, you know, his opinion on that. He was flirtatious with other people. One night at my house after a tailgate he urinated on the floor, you know, in my house on the rug. And my husband threw him in the shower and he ran out completely naked and just sat down on the sofa in front of a group of people, kind of like it was no big deal, like laughing.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Beth, I`m a recovering alcoholic with hopefully if I make it to April, 17 years of sobriety. When I listen to that I think booze, booze, booze. People don`t do these kind of things like urinate on the floor when they`re sober. Did he have a drinking problem? Is there evidence of that?

KARAS: You know, I`m not aware of a drinking problem that people wouldn`t characterize as more than recreational drinking, although we know that recreational drinkers often are alcoholic indeed. But I`m not aware of that.

He was gainfully employed. He was a medical equipment salesman. So I`m sure he wasn`t drunk every day on the job. He had to have a license to work.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know. I was a functioning alcoholic when I was a local news anchor. Go for it for a second -- sorry to interrupt, Beth.

JON LEIBERMAN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Yes, look, here`s the thing. I mean prosecutors are painting him as an irresponsible drunk moron. The problem is just because you`re an irresponsible drunk moron doesn`t mean you`re a killer. And prosecutors are going to have a real tough time.

He took the stand in his own defense during the first trial and said, look, we had problems in the marriage. I was immature at times but he got off the first time with a hung jury. So this is a tough one for prosecutors.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ladies we need to learn to do the math in our relationship before it`s too late. I`m not blaming anyone. I certainly do not blame the victim. But if we don`t learn from these cases, then really we`re wasting our time.

Jason`s behavior was a series of red flags: serious emotional and mental problems. We all know he liked to drink and party. I believe he probably had a drinking problem. As a recover alcoholic myself, you know, it takes one to know one. And people don`t usually urinate on the floor when they`re sober. They don`t usually swallow somebody else`s engagement ring and then have to pass it.

Then you add the money problems. And get this -- he takes a $1 million insurance policy out on his wife three months before she`s murdered with him as the beneficiary.

Jayne Weintraub, criminal defense attorney, you have covered so many of these cases. Again, I am not blaming the victim here. Ok. But I am saying that women, these things happen so often that we have to start learning about the patterns. This is a classic pattern. It`s right out of the Scott Peterson playbook.

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Jane, you know what my feelings were about Scott Peterson. And here for Jason, all I can say is I`m surprised the prosecutors are even trying this case again. I mean think about, not only is there no physical evidence, there`s physical evidence that it was somebody else.

The DNA doesn`t match this Jason`s. Footprints don`t match Jason`s. And there are footprints and DNA of somebody else. There`s no eyewitness. There`s no evidence whatsoever linking this defendant to this murder except supposition. That`s it. There are no statements.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t know if he`s guilty or not. But he says he`s in a hotel and we had testimony today from this clerk at a store who said uh-uh, he came in and bought $20 worth of gas because he couldn`t charge it.



WEINTRAUB: -- this clerk -- this clerk was treated rudely by somebody and she has a brain injury. She does not recall well. She has a poor memory. She`s a victim of drug abuse and abused drugs herself. This is not a credible witness.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`ll get to that in a second.

But first we want to go out to the phone lines. Sandy, Arizona, your question or thought, Sandy?

SANDY, ARIZONA (via telephone): Hi, Jane.


SANDY: Actually, I`m following this trial on "In Session". And I have learned that he propped open the door at the Hampton hotel and he also unplugged the security camera and I believe he turned it so it would not surveille him going in and out.

What I`m wondering is if they have dusted that area or the surveillance camera for fingerprints?


KARAS: You know, I believe that they did dust for his fingerprints. And I don`t know that we have heard the results of that yet because when the photograph of the camera was shown the other day, the witness was asked, the maintenance worker said that`s what it looks like, right, except it`s been dusted for prints. It`s a little bit dirtier now at least in the photos. We haven`t heard the results.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, this was a brutal crime. The medical examiner said Michelle, the wife, suffered so much trauma, he had to divide her injuries into 10 different groups. Listen to this.


DR. THOMAS CLARK, MEDICAL EXAMINER: And I received a small envelope that was labeled teeth from near the victim`s head. It contained several bloody teeth and tooth fragments. There had to be at least 30 distinct blows and there may have been more.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: 30 blows -- her jaw, teeth knocked out. Quickly, I mean that`s personal. Who has to have the motive?

LEIBERMAN: It is. It`s personal and full of rage. But again, you have to prove it. And at least in the first trial they couldn`t prove it. And this time really nothing has changed. So keep your eyes on that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, you know, a number of people think he`s going to walk. And you`re not the only one. So that`s extraordinary.

Now, we`re going to have two exclusive guests, close friends of Michelle Young. They`re going to be on the show in the coming days, this coming Tuesday. And they`re going to talk about what she was like and what her life with husband Jason was like.

But later, I`m going to take you on my personal adventure and I`m going to be turning trash into art with you for Valentine`s Day. You can save some money and have some fun.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m on for popsicle sticks. I`m kind of craving a little popsicle stick action. I think I`m going to build like a little castle.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that`s in my future.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fracking is an explosive topic.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Many are also worried about the possibility of pollution from chemically-treated water used to break up rocks and free trapped gas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go. Wow.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s amazing that what took Mother Nature millions of years to build can be destroyed in a few hours with a piece of heavy machinery.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s a nightmare. And it`s happening all across the country. Regular Americans turn on their water faucet and instead of clean, fresh, beautiful water, fire pours out. Look at it. I`m showing you right here.

This week I have talked to one of many families who complained that hydraulic fracturing or fracking is making them sick.


JASON LAMPHERE, AGAINST FRACKING: Jodie and my boy, they`ve had rashes. And our daughter, she`s had nose bleeds.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Basically gas companies pump pressurized water, sand and toxic chemicals underground to push natural gas to the surface. The industry says this process is 100 percent safe.

Tonight I`m going to talk to somebody who insists, yes, it`s not only safe but it`s a fabulous idea. So we have had one side. Now we`re going to have the other side.

Straight out to Irish journalist and a producer of the upcoming documentary "Fracknation", Phelim McAleer; Phelim, thank you so much for joining us for this little back and forth.

Listen, we have talked to people who say after fracking started near their homes, in short order, their hair started falling out. They started getting blisters. They started getting. They started getting rashes, nose bleeds. The water started smelling and it was contaminated. They got the fire water. And even their animals began keeling over, vomiting, keeling over.

And then we had guy called and saying there`s been earthquakes as a result of fracking. I don`t know. I`m not a scientist. But are all of these people wrong?

PHELIM MCALEER, PRODUCER OF DOCUMENTARY "FRACKNATION": Well, many of those things probably happened to those people unfortunately. It`s very sad. But people do get ill. People do get rashes, you know. But, no, there`s no scientific evidence or there`s no proof that any of these illnesses have anything to do with fracking.

But that`s one of the reasons I want to make this documentary, "Fracknation", is to investigate this further and not to rely on the anecdote. Yes, to hear what people have to say but then go and look at the science. Because so much of what`s been said and documented, such as gas (INAUDIBLE) has been, you know, very emotional based anecdote.

But really we need to go beyond that. We need to stop scaring people. We need to look at the hard science and say were these people sick before? Was their water contaminated before? Was it naturally contaminated? Is it contaminated? All these things that real journalists should ask and that`s what we`re going to do.

I`ve been out there. I`ve talked to people. I mean you take --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I`ll tell you one thing that real journalists are asking is what are the toxic chemicals that are used in the fracking process? And I understand that there`s a huge debate over whether or not to release those substances, the identities of those substances. There`s a tug of war over that.

Now, if there`s nothing wrong with it, and they`re all fine and nobody is getting hurt -- again, I don`t know, I`m not a scientist. But I believe in freedom of information. Let`s find out --

MCALEER: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- all the chemicals that are being used in this fracking.

MCALEER: Absolutely. Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, why is it that this is a struggle?

MCALEER: Well, it`s early in my research and my documentary at the moment, but I understand that all the chemicals used in these frack fluids are freely available on a Web site called --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, can you name -- can you name a couple?

MCALEER: Every chemical`s available on the Web site called and haven`t heard anyone contradict. So I think people should go there and look at what`s available. Look at what they use.

I think maybe, you know, ten years ago, the industry might have said we can`t release the chemicals. They have put their hands up. They`re releasing them now. It`s a nice stick to beat them with but, you know, that`s outdated information. And I think we need to get out there.

I went to Dimock, Pennsylvania which is ground zero for polluted water. There are 11 families there and I spoke to them. I spent a couple of days with Victoria Switzer (ph) and the Sautners (ph) who said their water is polluted.

But then there are 1,500 other people in Dimock who signed a petition, put their names on a petition saying our water was not polluted. Our water is fine. Our water is clean. I think it`s time to give those people a voice, you know, rather than having middle class journalists talk to middle class environmentalists. This has been a conversation among very rich people from cities telling people in rural areas --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, listen. I appreciate you weighing in --


MCALEER: -- telling people in rural areas how to live.

And I think it`s time, you know, 99 percent have a part in the conversation.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s why we`re talking to you, sir.

Thank you so much and come back soon. We`re going to get a debate going.

Up next, Upcyle, it`s Jane`s adventure.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: My adventure in a second. But first, you deserve, and so do I, a laugh break.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here we are at another party. Doesn`t it seem like it`s always some event that we have to buy a gift for, whether it`s the holidays or somebody`s birthday or somebody`s anniversary, and it could really add up to become expensive and also it`s a lot of unnecessary consumption.

So there are exciting things going on in America today that will preclude us buying for every one of these events. We can actually make it a fun adventure, not spend any money and do something very creative.

Check it out.

Here`s an example. I had a bunch of keys that I didn`t really know how to recycle, so I made a heart out of them and this was a gift I gave to somebody. And this little key says "do not duplicate". I thought I was very clever.

But then I actually ran into some real artists who are doing something very similar to this. It`s called Upcycle Art. They`re taking stuff that is actual garbage from the street.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will recycle these into art.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What are those?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re like -- I don`t know. They`re wood panels of some sort.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And they are turning it into art and some incredible art. I`m going to show you.

This blue is --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Gum wrappers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I chew a lot of gum. And I wanted to figure out a way that I could recycle the gum wrappers. And make art out of it. This colored background is made from this impressive (INAUDIBLE). You just basically glue these on to, you know, an old file folder, a cardboard, whatever you have what laying around. And then the pods are these inside. And you just attach them and you glue them on the back and then you put your stencil (ph) over it. And you have a beautiful piece of art.

I was visiting my mother and she had all these old pieces of wood lying around in the garage. And I took one and I thought what can I do with it? And I simply did another stencil of an image I found online that I really enjoyed and (INAUDIBLE) a bit or painted it. And then these are the parts again, the squash, a woman`s hair. That`s the way see it.

But it can be interpreted the way you want to interpret it. But she`s a very colorful woman.

This is a hard coaster. You can really use anything. And you just press it down and there you go. That simple.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There we go. Ashley`s doing it, too. Fabulous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exciting and creative and it really inspires the creative juices.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is for vegans. Yes, so this one`s really simple. I just glued them on to a canvas I had laying around and put some glue in the background and made a V central and there you have it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This upcycle artist is going to make a piece of art right now in just a couple of seconds for everyone to see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The other day I was walking afternoon New York and there was a whole bunch of these -- I believe they`re old wooden floor boards like, you know, fake wood floor boards. And I thought I could probably make something out of this. So I grabbed them out of the dumpster and brought them home, painted them a thin layer of gold and now I`m going to do something with the pod.

The idea I`m getting here is to have two arrows pointing opposite directions. And then the colored pods all around it. So the arrows will pop out. That`s the idea where it`s headed right now. That could change as I go on because art often changes as you`re making it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was so easy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it has a story.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to do it -- the ideas that go in my head. I think I can come up with something.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So how many people here have decided they want to do this?



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hey, that was one fun party. I`m going to continue my upcycle art adventure and give you more Valentine`s Day ideas in a minute. And we`re going to continue the discussion on Facebook.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Check out more of my adventure turning trash into art.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it`s super fun. My mind is already turning. I`m thinking what can I do with those cat food cans? Take out containers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would much rather have a gift that somebody sat down with their recycled items or free items and be able to make something from their heart for me rather than go online and click two times and get me something that I don`t need and I don`t want.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Think outside the box. And I`m talking about the gift box. There are so many things that we can do that are fun, that are creative; that we give to people we love. It`s not all about the money.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We want you to try it yourself. Ok. Gather your trash and make a fabulous Valentine`s Day gift for your loved one. Post the photos of your art on our Facebook page. And I`m going to display the best works of upcycle art on the show.

Now I`m going right up stairs to my office and continue with the conversation on Facebook.