Return to Transcripts main page


Whitney`s Toxicology Report Released; Rally for Justice for Trayvon

Aired March 22, 2012 - 19:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, live from Los Angeles.

What an extraordinary day. Two huge stories coast to coast. On the East Coast, huge protests as the Sanford police chief leaves office.

On the West Coast, Whitney Houston`s toxicology report has just been released. Kareen Wynter, you`re live at the L.A. Coroner`s Office. What was in Whitney Houston`s system?

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you can actually hear -- she -- we have some new information. I guess we`ll share that with you in a bit. But what was found in Whitney Houston`s system, cocaine. It also showed that she had heart disease at the time of her death and that her death was due to drowning.

But again, we have some new information for you, Jane. Do you want to hear that now from the assistant chief out here, Chief Craig Harvey with the Los Angeles County Coroner`s Office?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What we`re going to do is come back to you in a little bit. But the big news is cocaine, marijuana, Xanax, Flexeril, which is a muscle relaxer, and Benadryl all found in Whitney Houston`s system. Hang in there. We`ll get to you in a second.

Now we have to go to John Zarrella on the other coast here, live in Florida at that massive protest for slain teen Trayvon Martin. What is going on, John?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, in fact, massive, just as you say, Jane. The crowd is growing every single minute here. We estimate there are probably about four or five thousand people right now. And continuing to grow as we move toward the start. Right about now here at 7, Reverend Al Sharpton will be here. The family of Trayvon Martin will be here.

Two other key developments today here. The police chief, Bill Lee, stepping aside temporarily, he says, because he has been a distraction here in the community.

The city manager now saying that he will begin a search for an interim police chief. The other piece of information, the Department of Justice met with Trayvon`s parents this afternoon. It was an introductory meeting. And during that meeting the word that was used by the DOJ representatives, please use and understand we need patience.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, John, let me ask you: who is expected to speak where you`re at now? All these people gathered. We`re going to talk a little bit to somebody who organized an entire bus from Atlanta to the location where you`re at. What is going to happen?

ZARRELLA: Well, we`re going to hear from the Reverend Al Sharpton, for one. We`re also going to hear, again, from the parents of Trayvon Martin. We`re going to hear from representatives from the NAACP, as well. All of the names of those who may end up on the podium and may speak, we don`t know any of the other individuals.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And briefly, what`s the mood? Because so many people have been so frustrated and felt so helpless over the shooting of this unarmed teenager. We had some pretty fiery comments yesterday in New York City at Union Square. But this looks rather calm, very, very quiet by comparison.

ZARRELLA: Yes. The people here, many of them are carrying signs. And I think that one of the things you notice right away is that all of the signs say there will not be justice until Mr. Zimmerman is arrested. Until George Zimmerman is arrested there will not be justice.

We`re also hearing that there will not be justice, you know -- just because the police chief has temporarily stepped aside, that is not enough.

The other thing we`re hearing is a lot of frustration over this, quote, "stand your ground" law here in Florida. A lot of people carrying signs opposed to that, as well.

The big overriding thing you see on all the signs is satisfaction here in this community, here among these thousands of protesters won`t come unless George Zimmerman is arrested -- Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: John Zarrella, thank you so much. Excellent report. And we are just getting started.






UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Growing calls for an arrest in the death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, ALLEGED SHOOTER: He`s a real suspicious guy. This guy looks like he`s up to no good or he`s on drugs or something.

SYBRINA FULTON, MOTHER OF TRAYVON: Our son was not committing any crime. I want to stand up for justice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will not go quietly into the night.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trayvon Martin was you. Trayvon Martin did matter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a perfect storm. We had a neighborhood that was experiencing extremely high tension, anxiety. We`re at Def-Con 5.

FULTON: This is not a black and white thing. This is about a right and wrong thing. Justice for Trayvon.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right now, thousands protesting in Sanford, Florida, the town where volunteer Neighborhood Watch Captain George Zimmerman gunned down young Trayvon Martin.

There have been protests all over the country in the past 24 hours. People are furious, demanding answers, wanting to know why George Zimmerman still has not been arrested nearly a month after he shot and killed an unarmed teenager.

Now, we want to show you again live pictures of a protest that keeps on growing. And people getting up to speak one after the other, even after the announcement by the chief of police of Sanford, Florida, that he is stepping down. Listen to him.


BILL LEE, SANFORD POLICE CHIEF: It is apparent that my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the process. Therefore, I have come to the decision that I must temporarily remove myself from the position as police chief for the city of Sanford.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, that is not a resignation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did it take so long?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does temporarily mean?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what the reporters were crying out. What did that mean temporarily? I want to know, as well. Why is the chief removing himself only temporarily?

Just moments ago, the dead teenager`s mother asked the same thing. Listen.


FULTON: The chief has stepped down temporarily. We need a permanent relief.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The investigation can go on and on. What we want is an arrest of George Zimmerman today.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is Chief Lee hoping this will just blow over if he goes on a long hiatus and then comes back?

Critics say it was his, the chief`s, lackadaisical attitude toward this unarmed teen`s death, his hasty insistence that there was no evidence the shooting was criminal, that ignited the outrage.

And tonight, new secrets revealed about shooter George Zimmerman. His parents both worked for the court. Did their connections somehow protect him? I want to hear from you: call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS> That`s 1-877-586- 7297 through the hour.

Straight out to Marcia Clark. She`s the author of "Guilty by Association," but she is also world famous as the prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson case here in Los Angeles.

Marcia Clark, you went through what they called at the time the trial of the century. The emotions ran high. Are you sensing that there is a similar emotional quality to this outrage, that really we`re seeing something about this story, about this case just hitting people, touching a red button and getting people from all over the country quite upset?

MARCIA CLARK, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, yes, Jane. There is a lot of emotion here. But in this case it`s because the prosecution, the police failed to act, and not because they did act. And that is what continues to fuel the outrage, because this seems such an obvious case of a bogus claim of self-defense. And this man should have been arrested. He should be in custody. He should be interrogated. We`re not seeing any of that happen.

And under all of the circumstances, it can`t help but fuel outrage. And the fact that none of the normal steps seem to be taken here by the authorities as they should.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, to your point, Marcia, we`re learning more tonight about George Zimmerman`s reputation as a cop wannabe. Did police investigate this?

Listen to the 911 call as George Zimmerman, just before the shooting occurs, stalks Trayvon Martin, who was just visiting his dad.



This guy looks like he`s up to no good or he`s on drugs or something. Something`s wrong with him. Yes, he`s coming to check me out. He`s got something in his hands. I don`t know what his deal is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you following him?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. We don`t need you to do that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But he did anyway. Now we are learning that the shooter, Zimmerman`s parents had connections to the city government. His father is a magistrate judge for the supreme court of Virginia. And I know this is happening in Florida, but nonetheless, his mother was a deputy clerk of court for 20 years.

So you have to wonder if that had any kind of impact on the case or on his attitude that he was somehow, what, part of bureaucracy royalty?

I want to go out to Derek Bozeman. You are there at the rally. You are a former Atlanta city council member, and you organized an entire bus load to travel from Atlanta to Florida. Let me ask you about a couple of things. No. 1, what`s your reaction to this chief of police stepping down temporarily? Does that do it for you or does that just increase the dissatisfaction?

DEREK BOZEMAN, FORMER ATLANTA CITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Absolutely not. I don`t think the police chief stepping down. What we really need is for this community and the city council to step up.

The reality of it is the police chief blew it. They did not investigate the case. They let a cold-blooded murderer go home. They didn`t test his clothes, didn`t test him for a gunshot residue. This case was blown and some of us believe and I believe it was blown purposefully.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I want to go out to Richard Kurtz, former special prosecutor, criminal defense attorney. You`re in Jacksonville, Florida.

Here`s what I was thinking today. As I`m listening to the chief say he`s resigning temporarily, if they didn`t do a proper investigation, if they didn`t go back to the crime scene and figure out where were the Skittles? Where was his ear bud? Because the young man was talking to his girlfriend. Where was the cell phone before they picked it up and took it? Where was the can of Arizona iced tea? If they didn`t take photographs, if they didn`t create a crime scene, is it possible that they basically allowed the evidence to get destroyed so that it would be impossible to prosecute George Zimmerman at this point?

BOZEMAN: No. I don`t believe it would be impossible by any stroke of the imagination. There`s all kinds of other things that we have. We obviously have circumstantial evidence by talking to the witnesses, the 911 calls. We`re also going to have ballistics. When they do -- somebody mentioned gunshot residue. We can find out this residue on the actual victim in this case. If there is, then we know it was a close struggle. If there was gunshot stippling on his clothing or on his body we know it was a close gunshot. If it wasn`t that would indicate he was further away. And if he wasn`t further away, then he wasn`t necessarily in harm`s way, which would lean towards he was going to be charged in this case.

I think we all learned that there`s a new prosecutor assigned to this case that`s going to change things drastically.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How so? In a few words.

BOZEMAN: OK. Angela Cory is the chief prosecutor in this circuit. She is one of the best prosecutors in the state of Florida. She does an excellent job. I am in Jacksonville, Florida. We have more homicides and more death penalty cases prosecuted throughout the state than anywhere else.

I can tell you, I can tell your viewers, I can tell everybody at the rally if you`re concerned for justice in this case, Angela Cory getting assigned to this case is the best thing that could happen in this state. She will investigate it thoroughly, and nothing -- nothing that`s not done.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`re going to quickly go out to a phone call. Missy in Illinois. Your question or thought, Missy.

CALLER: I would just like to say that after having -- I`m a grandmother. And after having marched with Dr. King in Selma, to still have to live with this stuff is horrible.

You have people killing their babies and getting off. Now you`ve got a man with a gun that can kill a kid and get away with it? I have grandsons in college, and I fear for them. We are a multicultural family. I espouse a black culture because that`s where I was raised, but we have everything in our family. Some of my grandsons are fair like I am, and others are brown-skinned. I worry that my grandsons will be killed on a college campus behind this same kind of thing because they live in the south.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you raise an excellent point ma`am. And let`s hope that that last comment is wrong, that something will be done.

We`re taking your calls: 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Coming up, Whitney Houston`s toxicology report just released moments ago. What does it tell us about how the legendary singer died?

Plus, crowds are growing in Trayvon Martin`s hometown. We are bringing you live coverage of the rally on the East Coast and the latest developments from the coroner on the West Coast. So much happening tonight. Stay right there.


FULTON: Our son was not committing any crime. Our son is your son. Stand up for justice. Stand up for what`s right. This is not about a black and white thing. This is about a right and wrong thing. Justice for Trayvon.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As someone once said, all politics is local. Mayor Jeff Triplis (ph) of this great city of Sanford, we invite you to come now and to address the people.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You are looking at live video and sound from a rally happening in Florida at ground zero, Sanford, Florida, where Trayvon Martin was shot. And speaker after speaker getting up to talk to several thousand people who have gathered. A massive crowd of people all over the country.

And adding to the outrage: did George Zimmerman utter a racial slur, horrible racial slur when he called 911? The phrase so offensive we`re not going to repeat what`s alleged. Top CNN audio engineers tried to enhance the audio on the 911 call to find out. Listen.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have not listened to this portion of the 911 tape a at all. I just want to hear it raw right now if you could play maybe ten seconds before it, and let`s listen.


ZIMMERMAN: Down toward the other entrance to the neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Which entrance is that that he`s headed toward?

ZIMMERMAN: The back entrance. Fucking coons (ph).


VELEZ-MITCHELL: CNN cannot say with any certainty what was said on that tape. So we`re not saying that it was a slur, but Yolanda Watts, briefly, if it is, will this be possibly a hate crime?

YOLANDA WATTS, JOURNALIST: Yes. Absolutely a hate crime. And I don`t know. I don`t have to be an engineer, but I just heard it. I heard it. And if that was -- if that came out of his mouth before that shooting, there is absolutely no question that this is a hate crime.

And I think that all of us -- Los Angeles, Hollywood -- are just as outraged as the rest of this nation. And...



VELEZ-MITCHELL: More Trayvon protests in a moment. But first, here`s your "Viral Video of the Day."







TUCHMAN: I have not listened to this portion of the 911 tape a at all. I just want to hear it raw right now if you could play maybe ten seconds before it, and let`s listen.


ZIMMERMAN: Down toward the other entrance to the neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Which entrance is that that he`s headed toward?

ZIMMERMAN: The back entrance. Fucking coons (ph).


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. So that is the disputed piece of the 911 tape. What was George Zimmerman saying? Was he uttering a racial slur that we certainly do not want to repeat here, or not?

CNN has analyzed the tape and cannot say for certainty one way or the other. But you heard Yolanda Watts, TV personality who`s been a news reporter, journalist, TV personality for a decade, say she thought she heard it.

Now, I want to go out to Frank Taffy, who is George Zimmerman`s neighbor and defender. You`re a former Neighborhood Watch block captain. What do you say about George Zimmerman and his attitudes?

FRANK TAFFY, ZIMMERMAN`S NEIGHBOR: George Zimmerman very plainly was a concerned citizen and resident of Twin Lakes, Jane. I`m glad you had me back on. You looked great in your hoodie last night.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I wanted to ask you about this audio recording. Thank you for that. But I wore the hoodie to demonstrate, and I`ll show you again. You`re referring to the fact that I had this hoodie. I put it on because this is really what a lot of people are talking about. That he was wearing a hoodie. The young man who was shot.

TAFFY: I heard the tape. I heard the tape, Jane.


TAFFY: I heard it when with it first came out. And once again, look at the facts in this case. It was a cold night. What I heard was that particular F-word, but what I heard time and time again was the word "cold." "It`s F-ing cold." He did not say the other racial epithet.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The other word.

TAFFY: That`s correct. I just want to go on record that I heard it. I know what they are talking about. Let`s not blow this up. Let`s keep it real here. He did not use that word.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, Yolanda, you`re hearing one side. Frank is saying that it was cold down there; that`s why the young man was wearing a hoodie, although the young man`s girlfriend, who was talking to him on the cell phone at this time, said he put on the hoodie because he felt he was being scrutinized by the stranger who was following him, George Zimmerman.

But to Frank`s point that maybe some of the rhetoric is getting a little bit inflammatory, what -- what do you think about that, Yolanda?

WATTS: Well, I heard what I heard. And either way you look at it, we have a child who was hunted down and shot like a dog.

TAFFY: I agree. Let`s keep it real. Let`s keep it real. Don`t blow it up.

WATTS: You don`t have to say anything. What is keeping it real is his actions.

TAFFY: He said -- he said "F"-ing cold. It was cold out. I was there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whatever he said. I`ll tell you what`s cold.

TAFFY: You`re in L.A. I was in Sanford. He didn`t murder him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on. Hold on one second. I just thought I heard Frank say that you were there. You were standing -- you were there and heard him? In other words, you were standing next to George...

TAFFY: No. I was in my townhouse.

WATTS: Let`s keep it real.

TAFFY: I`m just giving a depiction of what the weather was like on that Sunday night.

WATTS: Listen. What is -- what was cold was shooting a child who...

TAFFY: A 17-year-old teenager, right. OK.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A 17-year-old is still a child.

TAFFY: George was punched in the nose.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side, we`ll continue this discussion. Stay right there.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the case that`s consuming the nation right now. A neighborhood watch captain shoots and kills Trayvon Martin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police, I just heard a shot right behind my house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just said he shot him. Yes, a person is dead, laying on ground.

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH CAPTAIN: Something`s wrong with him. Yes. He`s coming to check me out. He`s got something in his hands. I don`t know what his deal is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George Zimmerman is not a racist. George Zimmerman is a caring person who cared for his community.

CROWD: Prosecute Zimmerman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to have George Zimmerman arrested for killing Trayvon Martin in cold blood.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Boy. What a story and you are looking at live pictures right now of a demonstration. And speaker after speaker -- you see the media trucks there and you see one of the speakers just -- he seems very passionate. Can we listen to him? Can we listen to him for a second?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know you are in full control. We pray, Lord, today that you who are the God of all comforts provide comfort and peace that passes all understanding for the Martin family and for the great travesty and loss of their son Trayvon. We pray that you would keep them under the shadow of your wings and provide for them wisdom and safety.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Meantime there is growing controversy that the Sanford police chief is temporarily stepping down. Let`s listen to what that chief who has now stepped aside said today.


CHIEF BILL LEE, SANFORD POLICE DEPARTMENT: It is apparent that my involvement in this matter is overshadowing the process. Therefore I have come to the decision that I must temporarily remove myself from the position as police chief for the city of Sanford.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, that is not a resignation. Why did it take so long to start the investigation?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does "temporarily" mean? What does he mean "temporarily remove" himself mean?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Everybody asking, what does "temporarily" mean? We looked into the police chief`s background. He`s a former homicide detective who made chief just last May. He`s a native of Sanford, Florida, the city. The commissioner gave him a vote of no confidence yesterday.

Now, this is what`s interesting. The previous police chief was forced out over what some might call a similar situation. Check this out from YouTube. The son of a white police officer was not arrested despite beating a black man in downtown Sanford, even though the video you`re seeing here captures the beating. It captures the beating on tape and you`re looking at it right there.

So I guess we have to ask, and I want to go to Marcia Clark on this, former prosecutor here in Los Angeles famous for the O.J. Simpson case. Do we have to maybe get -- I know the Department of Justice is involved -- but take this away from the locals completely? And bring in the feds and say, hey, we want objective parties analyzing all this.

MARCIA CLARK, FORMER PROSECUTOR: It`s not a bad idea, Jane. I have to say somebody should step in here. It might actually make the prosecution have a little more credibility if you have someone removed from the jurisdiction. That way there can`t be -- there will be -- there may still be claims of unfairness or lack of zeal in prosecuting, but you have a better shot at having a prosecution that has some real respect and some real gravity and credibility to it.

And that`s something that`s sorely right need now. You need to have people step in and look very carefully at all this evidence. There is a great deal for them to look at. I wish they had preserved the crime scene. I think it`s shocking that they didn`t.

But there is nevertheless evidence left look at. As I said gunshot residue, the existence of stippling, where exactly are the wounds, what was the nature of the injury to George Zimmerman`s head? What was the timeline? There is a lot to look at here.

If you have a good prosecutorial agency that doesn`t have involvement in the area and that does not have an affiliation with the police department, I think it will do a great deal of good for the credibility of the case, if it`s ultimately filed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m glad to have with me tonight former NBA superstar Chris Webber. He`s now an NBA analyst, philanthropist and host of "The Chris Webber Show". There you see him; a superstar in the world of sports. And Chris, I want to get your reaction to this entire tragedy.

CHRIS WEBBER, NBA ANALYST: Thank you for having me, Jane. My reaction is that this is just a sad day. It`s been sad weeks. My reaction is that when, you know, we pray that justice is always served and you teach your kids to do right; that you could be killed because you are holding the suspicion and the weight of the world on your shoulders. I think it`s very sad.

When I think about Trayvon, I think about everything he may not have been able to do from going to prom to have a serious girlfriend, to have children. I don`t know if he`s been to an amusement park. I just think of all the things his family lost and the time that lost. And I just think it`s a sad day.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to go out to a caller who has called a couple of nights in a row and has been so patient. Barbara, Georgia; your question or thought, Barbara.

BARBARA, GEORGIA (via telephone): Ok. Thanks for taking my call, Jane. My thought on this whole thing is we have a neighborhood watch here where we also live. Our detectives have told us get a description, do not follow, do not try to stop them. The police will do their job. Do not carry any kind of weapon because they could be used against you.

This man, if he had notified this young boy when he started following him, running after him, chasing him, he could have identified himself and let this boy be at rest knowing that this guy`s not going to be out to kill him.

Also, I believe that yesterday on Vinnie`s show one of the other gentlemen that is defending him said that this is a good guy. The prisons are full of good guys who did bad things. So I`m really upset with the fact that our police department does not defend us anymore. They are more or less just there to protect themselves and protect the ones that have done --



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Barbara, I think you have raised some good points. And I want to bring Frank Taaffe back because he`s George Zimmerman`s neighbor, a former neighborhood watch block captain and pretty much the biggest defender of the shooter at this point. And we want to give you your chance to have your say. We want to be fair.

What about this? I mean is perhaps, the police department of Sanford to blame? Did they drop the ball in patrolling your neighborhood? Do they have sort of a history of not taking these kinds of cases seriously; a lackadaisical attitude that ignited the controversy? Does this go way beyond George Zimmerman?

FRANK TAAFFE, FORMER NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH CAPTAIN: Yes, Jane. That`s a fact. I myself have been there since July of `06. I`m one of the long- term residents at Twin Lakes. You`re absolutely spot-on. That had been a major problem.

The response time from Sanford police to our community led to the inception of the neighborhood watch. We had to take it upon ourselves to stop the criminal activity that was going about. Once again, the facts are prior to Trayvon`s shooting, we had eight burglaries in a 15-month period. These are the facts. I`ll stay with the facts.

We are at a heightened sense of alert, anxiety and paranoia over all the criminal activities that had happened in that period. This was, as I said before, it was a perfect storm.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Rolonda Watts, what do you say to that?

ROLONDA WATTS, TV PERSONALITY: I think the perfect storm is when we have so much hate in this nation. We have so much isms, so many isms. I think that we are feeling that our children, there is open season on our children.

And I`m not just talking about black children. I`m talking about hate. And it goes everywhere whether you are gay, whether poor, whatever it is. It`s this hate that we have to deal with. This is something that all of us have to look at. Not just black folks. All of us have to look at this.

This is our nation and our children are dying because of hatred and because of racism and because of supposition. This is wrong and we have to look at ourselves as a nation. We have to address this. And I think -- and I`m so sorry for this family. But I think that this child --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to -- to your point, Rolonda --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to jump in because I think you brought up an important point. This is a point I made in my book "Addict Nation". Is our nation`s, what I call, prison industrial complex contributing to racial profiling? People of color are more likely to be arrested, more likely to be stopped, more likely to be prosecuted, more likely to be incarcerated. Now that may be fuelling a terrible stereotype.

More than 50 percent of U.S. prisoners are minorities. And in particular African-Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population but account for a whopping 35 percent of our prison population.

Now, listen to a mother whose two sons were given extremely harsh prison sentences for nonviolent crimes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How much does the color of your skin have to do with the sentence?

KAREN GARRISON, TWO SONS SERVED TIME IN PRISON: What? That is it. If my sons were little white boys and I was a little yuppie mommy, my sons would have been out. Nothing can make me believe that they would have been in prison.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Former prosecutor Richard Kuritz, does our prison industrial complex, encourage stereo typing?

RICHARD KURITZ, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Absolutely not. And some of those comments, I understand the theory behind it because it touches our lives personally. I have done the prosecution side. I`ve been doing criminal defense for 15 years, I`ve got 15 homicides pending right now.

The whole idea that someone is going to get sentenced more harshly in my area in Jacksonville which is a very conservative northeast Florida area because of their race getting more harshly done is totally a misrepresentation of the state attorney`s office and the judges in our system.

As I indicated, we now have a -- I`ve heard Marcia Clark talking and - - I`m sorry. Go ahead.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me just say this. I have covered so many cases in Hollywood where when the celebrity client comes in with the high- priced dream team.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: They get probation. And then somebody with a public defender who doesn`t have a dime in their pocket -- to jail; I have seen it with my own eyes. I have seen it with my own eyes in the same courtroom. Ok? There is a slew of celebrities who are getting probation right now in Hollywood for drug offenses that other people are serving hard time for.

We`ll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whitney Houston was found in the bathtub.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paramedics were called to the scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someone tried to resuscitate her but it did not work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We confirmed that there were several prescription drugs found in her hotel room: Valium, Xanax, Lorazepam.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were no visible signs of trauma or a foul play.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At 3:55 p.m. this afternoon Whitney Houston was pronounced dead at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. She has been positively identified by friends, family and co-workers.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news: Whitney Houston`s coroner`s report released just a little while ago and it`s a stunner. It shows that Whitney Houston was on a powerful and dangerous drug cocktail. Her death has officially been ruled an accident. But the final cause of death was, quote, "drowning and the effects of heart disease and cocaine use". Listen to this.


SPOKESMAN CRAIG HARVEY, LA COUNTY CORONER`S OFFICE: There is no indication of foul play in this death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you believe she ingested cocaine not too long before she died?

HARVEY: Correct.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The report says Whitney had five -- count them -- five drugs in her system at the time of her death -- cocaine, marijuana, Xanax, Flexeril -- a known muscle relaxant -- and Benadryl -- five drugs. Whitney found dead in her hotel room just under six weeks ago; her behavior had friends and family worried she might be back on drugs.

Listen to Whitney`s last impromptu performance two days before her death.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whitney. Yes, Jesus loves me


VELEZ-MITCHELL: She was mixing downers, uppers. Was this a tragedy waiting to happen? Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to Kareen Wynter; you are live at the coroner`s office in Los Angeles. What is the other big news?

KAREEN WYNTER, HLN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jane, we have some new information to share with you. We just spoke with the chief coroner investigator here, Craig Harvey, and he helped us fill in the blanks, some things that weren`t specifically contained in that toxicology report.

Listen to this. We were told that there was acute cocaine use in the time period prior to her collapse at the hotel. That, of course, explains why cocaine was found in Whitney Houston`s system. Now they`re not specifically able to determine if Houston actually died of a heart attack, but one of the investigators said that they think something obviously occurred that caused her to slip down, to go under water in the bathtub of that hotel room adding that cocaine, of course, can cause a heart attack.

We also learned when she slipped under water that she was still alive. There was water that was found in her lungs, Jane. Houston`s drug use over time contributed to her heart disease. It was listed on the toxicology report that that was one of the contributing factors here.

What about alcohol? We asked that question again. They say that they don`t believe that was a factor at all here. Sure, she may have had some level in her system but that was not a contributing factor.

The toxicology report was finalized mid-week this week. Family members were notified today and the detailed report will be available in the next couple of weeks, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, excellent report. Thank you for that, Kareen. And of course, when you`re at the coroner`s office you`re likely to have sirens. That`s what we were hearing even as we were watching tape of an ambulance from file tape.

Howard Samuels, quickly weigh in.

HOWARD SAMUELS, FOUNDER, THE HILLS TREATMENT CENTER: You know what, Jane? Unfortunately Whitney is an addict. She died an addict. And the cocaine and the heart attack is very, very common. I have had numerous clients that have done a lot of crack, a lot of cocaine just like Whitney did who now have permanent heart conditions.

So all of this, her dying of a heart attack, the Xanax, all the sedatives that were in her system, it`s just a tragedy. And hopefully, Jane, people out there will get the message. You get sober or you die. That is really the bottom line here and hopefully people will learn that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Those who said, oh, she was just drinking champagne, it was ok. Not if you`re an addict.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. More Whitney Houston in a moment, but first, we all need a laugh break.






UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Based on her physical condition, did you conclude that she had an apparent long history of cocaine abuse?

HARVEY: The toxicology findings suggest chronic usage.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Take a look at a photograph of Whitney Houston leaving a nightclub just a couple days before her death. And friends said she was drinking champagne. She looked disheveled.

Marcia Clark, former prosecutor here in L.A., should they be looking for her pusher? That`s our burning question. Who gave her the cocaine?

CLARK: Well, sure. I mean it`s a crime. And that would be a felony. Whoever sold it to her should be prosecuted, if they can be found. That`s a very, very tough order. Because it`s been a while now and I don`t know how you`d even trace it down. But if they can, they should.

The tragedy of Whitney Houston, of course, is our memory of this beautiful, amazingly talented singer. We all remember her, I mean "The Bodyguard" -- you name it. And to the see this last picture and to see how she went downhill is absolutely so heartbreaking that I hope people do get the message that has been given earlier on your show. Don`t do this.

You know, these drugs are not just playtime. They do serious and lasting and permanent damage, as has been shown to Whitney Houston`s heart. I do hope they find the person who was selling to her, but good luck with that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Howard Samuels, you`re an addiction specialist, founder and CEO of The Hills Treatment Center. Should the doctor who prescribed a known addict, Flexeril, a powerful muscle relaxant, and Xanax, a powerful anti-anxiety -- should that doctor be investigated?

SAMUELS: Oh, without question. I mean, you know, and this is the problem with the medical community. The doctors out there are prescribing known drugs that are harmful to addicts, alcoholics on a daily basis.

And you know, I think they should be investigated. I don`t know if that`s a crime, but it`s certainly an ethical issue within the medical community that needs to be changed. And we need to talk about it in a public forum in order to make sure this thing gets changed.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you. As a recovering alcoholic, addict who hopefully I`ll be sober 17 years, April 1st, coming up, you cannot even mouth wash with a mouth wash that has alcohol in it because it could trigger a binge.

Rolonda Watts, you`ve been in Hollywood for so long. How many more do we have to see? Anna Nicole Smith, now Whitney Houston -- the list goes on and on -- before we wake up to this drug cocktail epidemic.

WATTS: Well, I think that all the news and attention around it -- and Jane, I applaud you so much for being so open with your own struggle. And I just think as we bring more news to it, as it becomes more publicly discussed, we see that that`s what addiction leads to.

And Whitney was a friend and it breaks my heart. This is not the news that we wanted to hear. But it certainly is a wake-up call. And I think that, you know, especially here in Hollywood, that these types of stories resonate and hopefully will make a difference.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look at this beautiful woman, and gave so much to the world. And we can never forget that her legacy is her music. We will always have that. And hopefully we can also learn from the tragedy surrounding her death.

More on the other side.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Coke, pot, Xanax, Flexeril -- a powerful muscle relaxer, and Benadryl found in Whitney Houston`s system. And I agree, the doctors should be investigated, who prescribed this. But also, look at the people around.

Howard Samuels, the people around her. Sadly, when I first heard that she had died, the first thing I thought of was her infamous comment to Diane Sawyer, "crack is whack". And when are we going to get real about when people are addicts, they`re always addicts, and if they don`t work their program, they`re going end to up using again?

SAMUELS: Well, Jane, she was totally enabled by all the money and the power that she had and the people around her. But let`s remember, she mirrors what is happening in the whole country. We are an addict nation, just like your book, and if we don`t get it soon, there`s going to be a lot more people dying all across our country, that are housewives -- everybody.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We need to wake up to it.

"NANCY GRACE" is next.