CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Missing Teen Murdered?

Aired April 13, 2012 - 19:00   ET

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


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you from Los Angeles. The search for a beautiful, missing teen moves to two reservoirs from her home. Some are now asking was Sierra LaMar the victim of an experienced sexual predator?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Tonight, new developments in the hunt for missing beautiful cheerleader Sierra LaMar as cops search underwater for her. Could an experienced sex offender have targeted this stunning 15- year-old? And could he be looking for his next victim?

Also, it`s just the beginning of act three in the Trayvon Martin shooting case. Now, George Zimmerman is sitting behind bars, but could he get out on bond any day now? I`ll have all the latest details.

Plus there`s a new witness in the Drew Peterson murder trial: his dead wife. Will the testimony from beyond the grave be the key to the case against this accused killer? I`ll talk to his attorney tonight. And brand-new details on just how soon Drew`s trial could start.

MARLENE LAMAR, MOTHER OF SIERRA: She`s around here this time of day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Marlene LaMar talks through tears to drivers coming through the intersection where she believes her daughter was last seen. She hands out fliers and fishes for information, perhaps finding a nugget of information that might help find her daughter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifteen-year-old Sierra LaMar disappeared in San Francisco.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t believe this is happening to one of my best friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sierra disappeared on her way to school. Her cell phone, clothes and a purse have been recovered, but nothing else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When was the last time that you saw her?

LAMAR: At 6 a.m. that morning. And I gave her a big hug, and we were happy. And there was a loving exchange between us before she left the house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now we are praying for her to come back home, and it just makes us so sad.

LAMAR: Sierra, you know, if you`re out there, there`s that possibility, we love you so much. And we want you home, and we want you safe.

As each day comes it`s like longer and longer, and it`s become more real. It`s like more real. I just want her back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a community on edge as a teen`s disappearance sparks a terrifying mystery. Was 15-year-old Sierra LaMar kidnapped by a dangerous and experienced sexual predator who is still on the loose as we speak? The popular cheerleader vanished one month ago after kissing her mom good-bye before school. She never made it to the bus stop that morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAMAR: I talked to her, said good-bye and gave her a hug. And things were good, and I told her I loved her. She would never want us to go through all this pain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Detectives took their search for clues underwater this week. They captured sonar images from two reservoirs near Sierra`s Morgan Hill home, which is about 60 miles outside San Francisco, California.

Now that police are searching underwater, does it mean this has gone from a rescue to a recovery mission? Sierra`s purse and cell phone were found the day after she vanished, both thrown away within two miles of her bus stop.

Then, about two weeks later, a bizarre and frightening discovery, condoms and an empty box used for holding handcuffs were also found in the same area. Police have not confirmed whether they are connected to this case. But tonight, we are asking, is a sadistic predator behind Sierra`s disappearance?

Straight out to David Lohr, senior crime reporter for the "Huffington Post."

Thank you for joining us, David. You`ve written in-depth on this case. What have you garnered from your look into this terrible case?

DAVID LOHR, "HUFFINGTON POST": Well, you know, Jane, I think everything seems to point to this girl being abducted. I mean, if you look at the circumstances, she had a good relationship with her family. She had no history of running away before.

You know, she goes to walk to the bus stop. All of a sudden, she`s missing. The next day, her cell phone is found alongside the road. The day after that, her clothing.

So, we`re dealing with someone who`s either done their research or they`re experienced in abductions. They knew to ditch the cell phone. They knew to get rid of her clothing.

You know, are the handcuffs and the other items related? We don`t know yet. But I would think, given how many weeks have gone by since that that discovery, the law enforcement must know whether they`re connected at this point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But David, in the article that I`m reading from the Huff Po, it says here, abducted possibly by an experienced sex offender based on clues police have found so far. Why that? Why "experienced sex offender"?

LOHR: Well, I mean, if you look at it, there`s -- you know, nobody saw this take place. You know, there`s no evidence this girl took off on her own. I mean, either this person got extremely lucky or they were experienced. They`ve done this before. They`ve researched how to do it. And they`ll likely do it again in the future, once they realize they`ve gotten away with it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, you`ve covered so many of these cases. Here is what the local sheriff is saying. The local sheriff is saying that the likely scenario is an acquaintance abduction, abducted by an acquaintance -- I`m quoting here. An acquaintance could be anything. It cannot just be someone she knew. It can be someone that she`s comfortable seeing in the area that she knows would be there, someone that is really known to the area. And we don`t believe she ran away or left voluntarily.

So how do you dovetail that? On the one hand, we`re hearing people say, oh, experienced sexual predator. On the other hand, we`re hearing police say that is an acquaintance, the person responsible.

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: And I`ll tell you why. As a prosecutor, these kinds of cases, I remember, disproportionate numbers of these kinds of cases involved kids on their way to or from school. Often, it was on the way to school.

An acquaintance knows the habit of the child that that person wants to -- wants to take, whether for sex or murder or both. And here`s what`s interesting. They know the habits of the kid and the family so they know if they pick the kid up on the way to the bus stop, it`s likely no parent is going to start to worry until the end of the school day. It gives you plenty of time to get away with the crime.

Who knows that? It`s somebody in the area. A stranger, unlikely to have so much wherewithal to predict such things about a kid, to know that they`re going to be able to get away with it. That`s why I agree that it probably isn`t a scary stranger.

Remember, her father, a convicted sex offender, may well have buddies who know about her, who know about him. Therefore, also putting her high up the list in terms of risk for this kind of crime.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. But Wendy, in truth, kid goes to school in the morning. I think we all know that. So there are going to be kids leaving. I mean, we plan our driving schedules -- oh, my gosh, it`s -- kids are about to go to school. I want to get on the road before the school buses hit the road." So, there is a possibility of knowing that she`s going to walk out because she`s 15, and she`s going to school.

Now, you are absolutely right. Sierra`s dad happens to be a registered sex offender. Five years ago, he was convicted of lewd or lascivious conduct with a child under 14. Published reports claim the female was a friend of his older daughter. He spent eight months in jail.

Police insist they have checked him out, up, down and sideways. He is not a suspect in his daughter`s disappearance. He has been cleared. Let`s listen to the dad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come home, baby. Please come home. You`re not in trouble. Everyone -- everyone wants to see you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, we have to have compassion for both of these parents who are suffering horribly.

But my question, Pat Brown, criminal profiler, do you think that Dad`s past caused police any time early on, took them away from the focus of finding the actual kidnapper, because they had to check and clear him? He lives 40 miles away.

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Well, they`d have to clear him, Jane, and they`ve got to clear the boyfriend of the mother. They`ve got to clear anybody else that she had regular contact with. And I don`t know that they`ve done that, which is why they may be saying it could be an acquaintance crime.

And I see absolutely nothing in this crime that says it`s an experienced serial killer. Could it be a serial killer, a serial predator? Sure. But I see nothing brilliant about this.

I mean, we have a girl that`s alone. That`s very easy to grab, whether you live down the street at a farmhouse, where you moved her back to your property, raped and murdered her, and hidden her right on your property and dumped her stuff or whether you`re some local guy who`s just grabbed her and thrown the stuff out the window. That`s not brilliant. You don`t want to throw her stuff away, because then people can pick it up, and it`s evidence.

It will be smarter to leave town, go way out of town and bury the stuff in the middle of the hills someplace. I mean, we`re not talking about brilliance. We`re just talking about opportunity. And because it`s a stranger crime or an acquaintance crime, no one saw it happen, you really don`t have to be that smart.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go out to the phone lines. They are lighting up. Lee Ann, Arkansas, your question or thought, lee Ann.

CALLER: Hi, Jane, how are you?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hi. I`m good.

CALLER: OK. My thing is, you know, I used to smuggle clothes out of the house, and I never took undergarments. Ever. OK. Have they analyzed the clothing for any DNA? And if so, if they found some unknown, have they compared it on the offenders registry?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think what you`re referring to is the fact that Sierra apparently a purse about a shirt and a pair of pants folded neatly inside, because that was found a very short distance from her reported abduction, because it was found very close to her home.

Now, I found that odd, so I asked her mother about it. Her mother was on this broadcast not so long ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAMAR: I`ve seen her borrow clothes -- frequently from her friends, and they would borrow clothes from her, as well. So I would see her bring a pair of pants that she`s returning that she borrowed to her friend and a blouse. So, as far as clothes being in her purse, you know, that -- that happened frequently.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon Lieberman, your thoughts on the clothing in the purse?

JON LIEBERMAN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: It is very interesting, and that`s what I believe made police think that this might be an acquaintance situation, as well. Clearly, she packed some clothes. Maybe she was going to meet somebody.

And the caller`s question about forensics. Forensics are going to play a very big role in this case. We`re still waiting on the forensics from those condoms that were found, from the handcuff box that was found as well, because right now, police have very little go on. They don`t have a primary crime scene. They don`t know if this poor girl is alive or dead.

But with every second that goes by, things are looking bleaker and bleaker, unfortunately.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: By the way, we reached out to police, asking them have the tests come back on the condom, which was a used condom? And we have not heard anything back on our numerous questions to law enforcement.

Coming up, will Drew Peterson`s wife testify against him from beyond the grave?

But first, more on this beautiful missing teenager. We are just getting started. Will cops find her abductor? And could this individual, this very sick individual, strike again?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAMAR: I feel guilty because I`m always worried about where she is and just realize how much I love you and want you back. I want you back. I love you, and I just want you back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sierra disappeared on her way to school. Her cell phone, clothes and a purse have been recovered, but nothing else.

LAMAR: I talked to her, said good-bye and gave her a hug. And things were good. And I told her I loved her.

She would never want us to go through all this pain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lone searcher discovered condoms and an empty handcuff box one mile from the LaMar home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s one of those sad things where you want to find her for the family, but at the same time, you`re dreading what you`re going to find out there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t believe this is happening to, like, one of my, like, best friends.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now we`re praying for her to come back home, and it just makes us so sad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Detectives took sonar images of underwater objects in two reservoirs just outside Sierra LaMar`s hometown of Morgan Hill.

This beautiful 15-year-old cheerleader has been missing for a month now. Police say the sonar pictures they captured were somewhat suspicious, so they are sending divers to take a closer look. One officer described the objects as, quote, larger than normal.

I wonder what this means, why they focused, Joey Jackson, criminal defense attorney, on these two reservoirs. Some say it doesn`t bode well, that it would imply that they are in a recovery effort now, but I don`t want to believe that.

JOEY JACKSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, Jane, I don`t think any of us do, and if ever there was a case that turned your stomach, I mean, this is a prime case that would do that.

A couple of observations, the first of which is, is I wouldn`t be too, you know, focused or really committed to it being an acquaintance. It certainly could have been a stranger who was simply stalking her movements and knowing what her M.O. would be and therefore lining himself up so that he could take advantage of her.

Second, Jane, on the issue of what the sonar, you know, images could be, I think this is something they have to do. And if they detect something in a sonar way that could potentially be a body, they can`t rule it out. It`s sad; it`s tragic to think that way, but you know, the family deserves closure. Hopefully, that closure will be with finding her alive, but if not, certainly, this is a step that they have to explore. And I think we`re all anxious to see what those sonar images really are.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, there`s suspicion the person who kidnapped Sierra is very familiar with the area, the terrain, and cops say, maybe an acquaintance, although you heard other analysts say maybe a total stranger. Maybe closely watching the extensive media coverage of this case.

Sierra last seen March 16 at her Morgan Hill home. The very next day, her cell phone found about three-quarters of a mile away. It looked like it may have been tossed from the vehicle. The next day, searchers found her purse about two miles from her bus stop. The purse had a shirt and a pair of pants folded neatly inside.

The used condoms and empty handcuff box were found nearly two weeks after Sierra vanished. Again, neither has been directly linked to this case.

Jon Lieberman, we are eliminating people left and right, because that`s what we have to do in our effort to find this young woman, this 15- year-old beautiful cheerleader.

Now, reports indicate the mother has a boyfriend. He has been eliminated as a suspect, because that`s what they have to do. It`s not shedding suspicion on anybody. It`s -- they`ve got to look at the people closest and eliminate them, John.

LIEBERMAN: Well, absolutely. The first thing do you in an investigation like this is you look at that inner circle, and you work your way out. So the boyfriend was cleared. The father was cleared. The mother was cleared. It doesn`t mean they can never go back and ask them questions again and relook at them, but that`s the process.

Now, in terms of a stranger abduction, you have to look at this area. What we found in this area is there are 130 registered sex offenders in this city and...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How many? How many?

LIEBERMAN: One hundred thirty, just in this city. But the more telling figure is there are 30 registered sex offenders just in this ZIP code, and this is not a huge, huge ZIP code. You`re talking about maybe 45, 50,000 people.

So obviously, police have to look very strongly first at the ZIP code, the sex offenders there, and then branch out from there, again, going from the inner circle out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And getting back to the clothes. At this point, a month into this investigation, I would assume that cops know whether she had a good reason for those clothes or not. More next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So much breaking news this week, but here`s a little break, your "Viral Video of the Week."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SOUNDS OF CAT SWIMMING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love you, Sierra. Come home. We miss you. Love you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love you, Sierra. Come home. We miss you. Love you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love you, Sierra. Come home. We miss you. Love you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She would never run away. She would -- she wouldn`t feel safe being alone. She loves being with friends and being with a lot of people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What a heartbreak for the friends and fellow students of this missing 15-year-old, beautiful cheerleader, Sierra LaMar.

Let`s do a fact check and take a look at the critical timeline of this case.

March 16, 6 a.m., Sierra`s mom kisses her daughter good-bye and leaves for work.

6:29, Sierra posts the last tweet from her Twitter account.

7:11, Sierra sends a text message to a friend.

7:25, Sierra`s school bus arrives at the bus stop. She is not there.

6:30 that evening, Sierra`s mom gets an automated message that she never showed up to school.

First of all, Pat Brown, criminal profiler, there`s got to be a better system. It shouldn`t have to take till that night for the school to inform a mother that their child never showed up.

BROWN: You would think they would get something right at the first class that would go out and say she`s not here. I don`t know what the school`s problem.

But I will say that I think this person, whatever happened to Sierra, whoever did something to her, is right there in that area. I do not believe that anybody was rolling through and took her out of town. And I don`t believe anybody came in from out of town, because all her objects are there. So it`s either -- somebody right there. So at least I think they can narrow down their search to -- to maybe a, you know, two- or three-mile circumference there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And, I mean, this is not an inner-city area. This is an area with lawns. I mean, there`s not that many people there. You saw the search. It`s kind of countrified.

David Lohr, you`re the senior crime reporter at the Huff Po. Shouldn`t everybody in this neighborhood be looking for anyone whose pattern has changed? Someone who goes on a vacation, leaves a job, stops picking up their mail, left immediately after this day and has now resurfaced?

LOHR: Oh, yes, exactly, Jane. You know, anybody who`s acting out of the ordinary.

But you know, you have to keep in mind, at the same time, this could be someone who mows lawns in the area. This could be someone who works in the area. They don`t even necessarily have to live in the area. And, you know, I would say if I lived in that area myself, I certainly wouldn`t be letting my kids run around alone right now until we find out who`s responsible for this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon Lieberman, investigative reporter, Sierra was active on Twitter. We just saw that. I would think her cell phone records, her social media computer records are crucial.

LIEBERMAN: Absolutely. They have her computer. They want to see Facebook interactions. They want to see Twitter interactions. Who was she e-mailing? What Web sites was she on?

Because one active theory obviously is that she met some man or somebody who portrayed themselves as someone who might want to meet up with her or date her. So we don`t know if she left the house that morning planning to skip school and had a preplanned meeting with somebody that she met over the Internet. That`s a very important part of this investigation.

And police are still combing through those computer files, trying to find out. Not to mention text messages, phone records and the like.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we really, really hope that this child is found alive and well. She is 15 years old. Something horrible has happened. We`re not giving up on her. We`re staying on top of this case.

If you know anything, contact police.

Trayvon on the other side, the latest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So many across the country were waiting to see the moment to see George Zimmerman appearing before a judge and those people got their wish.

CROWD: No justice, no peace. No justice, no peace.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Zimmerman --

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, CHARGED WITH TRAYVON MARTIN`S MURDER: Yes, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your appearing here for you first appearance at this time for a charge of murder in the second degree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We felt it was the appropriate charge. As Miss Corey stated yesterday, we are seekers of the truth and seekers of justice.

MARK O`MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN`S ATTORNEY: He has gone through some tribulations of his own; he is facing second-degree murder charges now. He is frightened.

SYBRINA FULTON, MOTHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: It has been a nightmare, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that justice will be served.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, it was a horrible intersection of two young men`s lives and it ended in tragedy. We have to figure out how it happened -- why --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: The first battle in the prosecution of George Zimmerman is already being waged. It would appear Zimmerman`s high- powered defense attorney wants the presiding judge kicked off the case.

Plus, will George Zimmerman be able to get out on bond as early as next Friday? We`re waiting to find out if defense attorney Mark O`Mara will formally request Judge Jessica Recksiedler step aside. In a status hearing today, O`Mara brought up the fact that there could be a conflict of interest because the judge`s husband is, are you sitting down, a law partner of HLN legal analyst, Mark Nejame.

Listen to the judge`s response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE JESSICA RECKSIEDLER, PRESIDING OVER GEORGE ZIMMERMAN CASE: If he is a CNN analyst as my understanding or has a contract, Mark Nejame does directly, which is why I disclose that at that time. So that way you could address those issues with your client as well as address them with each other. If you do or choose to file a motion to disqualify me as the judge, of course, Mr. O`Mara, you realize that has to be filed in writing for me to address it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here is the deal and it is definitely one of those six degrees of separation things. Judge Recksiedler husband is Jason Recksiedler who is an attorney with Mark Nejame`s law firm. And on top of that Mark Nejame twice turned down George Zimmerman`s request to be his attorney and then referred Zimmerman to his current high-powered attorney, Mark O`Mara.

Wow, did you get all that?

So we`re examining right now what conflict of interest because Mark Nejame in fact was asked that question on CNN earlier today. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ok. Do we assume that the judge will recuse herself?

MARK NEJAME, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think that since she has not recused herself at this point and because her husband is my law partner, I would allow another legal analyst to give a legal opinion on that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Has the sideshow already begun? Straight out to former prosecutor Wendy Murphy. Spell it out for us. What is the potential conflict of interest here?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, you know, the overarching principle, of course, is that a judge has to act not only with fairness and without bias but even against the appearance of bias. You know, I think in a high-profile case like this you have to be extra careful because whatever the result, somebody will likely say that there was something about this relationship that produced an injustice.

Now, I also think that there is a real problem when somebody with the capacity to be on CNN and say certain things, number one, you know, does that lend favor to one side or the other? Are the jurors going to be influenced in a particular direction because a person with an agenda -- given that that`s his law partner -- has a perspective to spin?

I think it is a really hard question to answer without hearing more about how the judge feels and -- you know, I`ve been in front of judges that I`ve also been out to dinner with. And in most cases the judge says I`m friendly with Miss Murphy and her husband and you know, are you ok with that. I`m still going to be fair and 99 percent of the time, the lawyer on the other side says I`m fine with that judge. And judges worry so much about being unfair they sometimes overcompensate.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I will boil it all down to two words, pillow talk. That`s what they are worried about, too. And if you put --

MURPHY: Well, yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- this plot twist in a movie, people would say, oh this is (inaudible), the chance of that happening, nah, that`s out -- that`s farfetched. Well, it`s happened.

Now, let`s talk about Trayvon`s phone conversation with his girlfriend the night that he was shot dead. First, let`s listen to the girlfriend`s account of what she says she heard from Trayvon that very night. Listen.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said he lost the man (inaudible) the man still was following. I asked to run, and Trayvon said he wasn`t going to be running. Trayvon said he wasn`t going to run like that. He was going to walk fast.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, the girlfriend`s call with Trayvon disconnected a 7:12 p.m. And he was shot tragically shortly after that. I want to go out to "In Session correspondent, Beth Karas, this charging document, which basically lays out the bare bones of the prosecution`s case, do you think it is based primarily on what the girlfriend said and how is that going to play into the trial, given that tragically the person she was on the phone with is no longer with us? He`s the victim.

BETH KARAS, CORRESPONDENT, "IN SESSION": Well, it does appear Jane, that they are relying on this witness to a large extent to determine exactly what happened in those moments before Trayvon Martin was killed. So, his girlfriend, her conversation with him is critical to this affidavit and I expect will be at all the hearings and at the trial as well.

And I`m assuming that the prosecution believes there is a hearsay exception where Trayvon Martin`s statements to his girlfriend about there`s this guy following me, I don`t know what he is doing. She tells him to run. That there`s exception that will get that in for when the jurors will let Trayvon Martin speak from the grave, so to speak.

Because otherwise there is absolutely no way that I see the prosecution can prove that he was on his way home, that he said somebody was following me. I don`t know why he`s following me, that he started to run. We don`t know that any witnesses were drawn to this until there was yelling for help and a gunshot. That`s what drew people`s attention from the neighborhood. So it`s the girlfriend who is really critical to rejecting Zimmerman`s story that he had gone back to his car and was jumped by Trayvon.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And another little wrinkle, her conversation disconnected at 7:12. So between 7:12 and went shot was fired that is also going to be a crucial gap figuring out what was happening during that gap.

I want to go to Mark Nejame. He is HLN legal analyst at the center of this latest storm. Thank you for joining us, Mark. First of all I`m sure you didn`t expect this much excitement during your first few days as an HLN/CNN legal analyst. But I guess the bottom line -- we were just talking about this is -- what is the potential conflict?

Are they worried about pillow talk? Are they worried about well, one person says something to another person who says something to another person. Are they worried about the appearance, let`s say --

NEJAME: You hit it on that one.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- it goes one way or the other. Go ahead.

NEJAME: It`s just the -- I think it`s the appearance. I think very simply, you are dealing with a lot of ethical people, you know, the odds are astronomical that the universe would put all this in order as it did.

You know, I get a call from -- we got the releases, of course, from Mr. Zimmerman to represent him. We declined representation. We refer him to Mark O`Mara. I think he`s a great lawyer who would be great for Mr. Zimmerman, as I believe Trayvon`s got great counsel. So I think it is the right group to all be addressing it.

In the meantime after I turned it down, I get hired by CNN/HLN and then the case randomly gets assigned to Judge Recksiedler, who`s my law partner who manages my personal injury division, his wife. So we have to bring it --

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Let me ask you this question b because obviously you are friendly with this law partner of yours and his wife is the judge. Do you feel bad for her? I mean you`re a friend of hers, presumably at least socially. If she has to step back from this high- profile case, I mean this is her opportunity to have her face in front of the world for months on end?

NEJAME: I don`t think that`s -- she would have to speak for herself, but she is a very ethical, excellent jurist and I don`t know -- you know, look, we are all big boys and girls and professionals. Things happen.

The fact of the matter is I turned this case down. So it`s not all about being in front of the world. I think -- she is a jurist and she`ll make the right legal decision and she`ll move on. So it`s not a matter of that. I mean I don`t know whether she wants the case or not. That is not the discussion. I have not talked to her about this. It wouldn`t be appropriate.

Her opinion was --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You make a very good point. I think a lot of judges don`t want a headache like this. I mean look at Judge Lance Ito from the O.J. Simpson trial. That`s Exhibit A of why some judges would not want to be involved in a high-profile case. I agree with you there.

Let`s go out to the phone lines. Tierney, Florida, your question or thought, Tierney?

TIERNEY, FLORIDA (via telephone): Yes, this is in reference to Frank Taaffe and the statements that he has been making concerning the 911 tapes. I feel as if you can clearly hear when the 911 dispatcher asked him is he following Trayvon and he says, "Yes, I am." And they say, "Well, we don`t need you to do that."

You can clearly hear him get out of the car around the doors slam to the vehicle and that`s when --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Tierney, let`s give Joey Jackson a quick chance to respond to that.

JOEY JACKSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER: Sure. Well a couple of things here. First of all, that`s one aspect of this. I think the 911 call is going to be critical but that only explains him following him or if he was following him. Certainly, the door could have been slamming when he was going back to the car, but that`s one part of it, Jane.

I think the critical part as to whether it was second degree murder is going to center around the actual confrontation. What happened? Was he retreating? Was he coming forward? Were things said? Was he defending his interests or not? That`s where this is either going to result in a conviction or an acquittal.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And who saw that confrontation, if anyone? It was a dark, rainy night. And the people who have come forward anonymously say, oh, they couldn`t see this, that and the other, it was dark. It is a mystery that we are going to stay all over, obviously.

Now coming up next, could Drew Peterson`s testimony from beyond the grave -- well, certainly not Drew Peterson`s, but the testimony of his dead wife be what could be so crucial in his upcoming trial?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DREW PETERSON, ON TRIAL FOR WIFE`S MURDER: I won`t be able to go anywhere and show my face anywhere without people pointing or coming up to me or getting some sort of amusement over this.

I`m all for them doing their job and their investigation but I think they should be handling it a little bit more professionally.

I can`t tell you. I wish there was more for you.

Thanksgiving is in the next couple of days. Please go home. Please leave me alone. Please don`t get involved in my little world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you explain why you`re doing this?

PETERSON: Yes, I could. Yes, I could. I don`t want to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, will testimony from beyond the grave be the key to the Drew Peterson murder trial? That`s right. A judge just ruled that a slew of hearsay statements from Drew`s third and fourth wives will be allowed into court. Will comments like this one sway the jury in the murder trial? Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SUSAN DOMAN, KATHLEEN SAVIO`S FRIEND: We never felt that it was an accident she always told us that whether it was a premonition or not, she always said it would be an accident and to take care of her children, he was going to kill her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Drew`s third wife, Kathleen Savio, died in a bathtub and it was originally ruled an accident, even though her friends and family insisted to cops she was afraid Drew would kill her. But once Drew`s fourth wife, Stacey Peterson, went missing, then Kathleen`s body was exhumed and they changed their mind. Drew was charged with murder.

I want to go to Jon Leiberman, investigator reporter. who actually interviewed Drew Peterson. Tell us about -- we have heard something like 14 statements from beyond the grave. Who did these two women you the missing Stacey and the deceased Kathleen talk to and what did they say about Drew?

JON LEIBERMAN, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, they talked to family members, they talked to friends.

Let me point out that there`s a gag order in this case you so the judge will not allow the actual dozen or so statements that were made to be released but I want to give you a glimpse into what was going on here. I spent a lot of time with Kathleen`s family. They shared with me a suitcase full of letters and notes that they had from Kathleen, many of which indicated that she was in fear for her life.

I want to read you something, Jane this is from a protective order that Kathleen filed against Drew Peterson in 2002. And she says, quote, "He wants me dead. And if he has to, he will burn down the house just to shut me up."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Jon it is just so shocking that despite all that, they initially said, oh, yes, she drowned in a dry bathtub. Stacey, Drew`s fourth wife, has been missing since October 2007. Police searched everywhere for that blue bin that Peterson`s brother-in- thou thought held her body. Listen to this -- shocking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETERSON: I have no idea what anybody is talking about like that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Warm to the touch.

PETERSON: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He says he believes that he helped you dispose of your wife`s body. Can you at least respond to that?

PETERSON: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not at all?

PETERSON: No response. Talk to my lawyer. I got nothing to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No truth to it whatsoever?

PETERSON: None. Nobody helped me with anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On October 28th where were you on October 28th? This gentleman says he help you had carry container out of your home?

PETERSON: Again, talk to my attorney.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We are very delighted to have with us Pam Bosco, a close friend of missing wife number four, Stacey Peterson. Pam, are you thrilled by this ruling that the statements from beyond the grave can come into this trial, this murder trial of Drew Peterson?

PAM BOSCO, FRIEND OF STACEY PETERSON (via telephone): Of course we are. We finally feel now Stacey and Kathleen have a voice in this trial.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now what about the search for Stacey? Are people still looking for her?

BOSCO: We do that routinely. We had some searches going out. And you know the Illinois State police are still doing their searches. You don`t really hear about those but we are in communication with the Illinois State police still and we know that they are doing their searches.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is an unbelievable case. We have to say, legally, Drew has maintained his innocence in both his third wife`s death and the disappearance of his fourth wife, but it`s going to be an astounding trial. And of course, we are going to be all over it. Back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brad and Angelina are engaged. Breaking news just in. A rep says yes it`s confirmed. A promise for the future, their kids are very happy. No date set at this time. And we have the ring to show you out of "People" magazine. Take a look, there she is. She`s got the rock. Congrats.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a so-called bear farm. It`s actually a cruel, heartless place.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is what we call the (inaudible) trap. They`re in China where bears are being confined and incarcerated for anything up to the first two (ph) years of their life.

It just hurts and degrades these animals so badly, that you know, body and mind --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sad truth is that in order to provide an at best tenuous human health benefits, these bears must live in a permanent state of living death.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Animal lovers, there is a terrible tragedy taking place on the other side of the world that we can all get together and stop right now. Thousands of bears forced to live in tiny cages, some so small they can`t even sit up.

These so-called bear farms house as many as 20,000 bears in horrific conditions all across Asia. Also the bear`s bile can be used in traditional medicine, bile that many studies now say causes more harm than good for humans.

But the good news is you -- yes, you, have the power to do something about it. Straight out to one of my heroes, my very special guest, Jill Robinson, founder and CEO of Animals Asia who works to rescue these bears from these torturous farms.

Speak to America, what can Americans who are horrified by this -- when I first found out about this, I couldn`t sleep for -- look at this -- I couldn`t sleep for weeks because I kept thinking about these bears. What can Americans do to stop this?

JILL ROBINSON, FOUNDER/CEO, ANIMALS ASIA: Well, Jane, we need help to rescue these bears. We`ve rescued 277 so far in China, another 106 in Vietnam. We need the people of America to be behind the Animals Asia Foundation.

We actually need the people of America to be behind the people in China, believe it or not, who are now, as I speak to you, rising up against this egregious practice. I`ve never seen anything like it in my life. I`ve been out there now for 26 least and for the last 19 years fighting this bear farming industry. And at long, long last, we are seeing just droves of people now in China fighting against this industry.

The bears` time is coming, and people like you can really help them by writing to the Chinese embassy, joining Animals Asia and just getting behind this massive campaign to end bear farming once and for all.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If you remember nothing else, remember animalsasia.org and go to animalsasia.org and get involved.

You are in New York, Jill, because of this new documentary about your work called "Cages of Shame". It is premiering this weekend. Let`s take a look at a clip and then you can tell us more about this extraordinary film.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This convoy of vehicles is preparing to set out on a major rescue mission. And this is where they`re going for the rescue. This is a so-called bear farm. The word "farm" sounds so normal, so innocuous, but it`s not innocuous. It`s actually a cruel, heartless place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why is it still going on, Jill -- briefly?

ROBINSON: I`m afraid it`s still a legal industry in China, and obviously there are benefits to be made for the farmers, and it`s just something that we`ve just got to keep punching away at until the end. But as I said before the good news is that people are uprising against it and the Chinese government is beginning to listen.

You know this particular --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what; I will disagree with you one thing. There is no benefit to participating or profiting from cruelty. This is a horror, and I don`t think it helps the soul of any farmer to say this is how they make their living. I think it`s dehumanizing. More on the other side.

END