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Actor Dead in Hollywood Murder Mystery
Aired September 28, 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: Tonight, was a rising TV star secretly struggling with drugs when he went on a violent rampage before falling to his death? Tonight, new details surfacing about the mysterious murder -- and vicious, mind you -- of the actor`s 81-year-old landlady and the stomping death, dismemberment of her cat and the actor Johnny Lewis` own death. Were drugs at the heart of this Hollywood homicide? Was this rising star unraveling in the months leading up to this horror? We`ll investigate.
VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): Tonight, horror in Hollywood as cops make a gruesome discovery. Is the "Sons of Anarchy" actor who fell to his death behind the brutal beating death of his 81-year-old landlady? Was the star suffering a psychotic break? Tonight we`re investigating this bizarre murder, possible suicide.
And breaking news: San Antonio cops investigate a stunning new tip. Is Baby Gabriel`s body buried in a park? Plus, secrets from inside his mother`s kidnapping trial. Does it seem like mom, Elizabeth, is dressed for a party instead of her day in court? Hear what her lawyer has to say to me tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Investigators are trying to unravel a disturbing murder mystery involving, they say, a former "Sons of Anarchy" actor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a very gruesome scene. It`s a very senseless crime.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An elderly woman and young man dead. A painter and next-door neighbor badly beaten. What happened inside this upscale Los Feliz home, the bizarre murder mystery.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bizarre and gruesome murder investigation underway in Hollywood.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police believe that actor Johnny Lewis killed his landlord, an 81-year-old woman, and then fell to his death trying to get away from police.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Neighbors say they heard screams from the home where Lewis lived with 81-year-old Katherine Davis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Numerous calls actually took place at around 10:40 this morning, from a screaming woman to two men being battered by a suspect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t usually hear stories like that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officers looked to the left, and they saw someone who lived in the mansion, description of the suspect, laying down in the driveway. It appears that he may have jumped or lost his footing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police suspect that drugs were involved.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do now know the cause of death for Katherine Davis. We`re being told blunt head trauma as well as strangulation. It`s now been officially ruled a homicide.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, a rising star found dead at the gruesome scene of a Hollywood murder mystery.
Good evening. Jane Velez-Mitchell.
Actor Johnny Lewis starred in hit shows like "Sons of Anarchy" and "The OC," but was he secretly battling with mental-health problems and drugs? Authorities believe the 28-year-old TV actor brutally, brutally beat his defenseless 81-year-old landlady to death. Cops believe he also viciously stomped to death and dismembered her cat with his bare hands before falling to his own death.
Cops raced to the scene after frantic calls came in reporting a fierce fight and loud screams.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What took place at this point is that we had erratic behavior from a suspect who initially several calls -- numerous calls, actually, took place at around 10:40 this morning, from a screaming woman to two men being battered by a suspect who was described as a male, white, approximately in his 20s.
When officers responded, they spoke to the victims of that battery. Officers looked to the left, and they saw someone that matched the description of the suspect laying down in the driveway. As they approached they determined the suspect probably had been deceased from a -- from a fall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: No one saw what happened inside the home where the elderly woman was brutally beaten to death. But two men in the area, neighbors, say Johnny walked up to them and said hi. The next thing you know they were attacked by this Johnny Lewis. And that was before they had this struggle, and he ultimately fell to his death.
What caused this violent rampage? Was this actor`s life crumbling behind the scenes? We`re digging deep into this murder mystery, uncovering secrets tonight with a panel of experts.
Straight out to Dylan Howard, editor in chief of Celeb Buzz. You`re coming to us from the heart of Hollywood. Boy, this is the talk of Hollywood. What is the very latest, Dylan?
DYLAN HOWARD, EDITOR IN CHIEF, CELEB BUZZ: Well, homicide detectives from the LAPD continue to investigate what took place inside that sprawling mansion at Los Feliz. Incidentally, it is a noted home and has housed many famous writers for many years here in Hollywood.
But as they continue to investigate, the most crucial piece of information that they`re trying to obtain will be the toxicology reports which will reveal what, if any, drugs were in Johnny Lewis` system. It seems inevitable that there was, given his history of drug use according to probation reports which have also been made public.
Those toxicology reports could take some time, however, amid reports that he was using the synthetic drug which has a street name of smiles.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Smiles. That is absolutely fascinating. And we`ve got an addiction specialist who is going to analyze that in a moment.
But first, I`ve got to tell you about the litany, and I mean litany. And by the way, you`re looking at the beautiful Los Feliz estate where all of this horror went down. And this was created by this elderly 81-year-old woman who was beaten to death as a writers` and an artists` creative sanctuary. And she would allow famous people to go there and stay at her sanctuary. He was staying there. And this is what happened.
Now, in the months leading up to that, well, "The L.A. Times" says they`ve looked at court records that show Johnny severe violent acting out leading up to this tragedy.
January 3 he allegedly breaks into the home of strangers and beats up two men with a Perrier bottle when they try to get him to leave. He`s also accused of punching a man in the face at a yogurt shop just a couple of days later.
Then, just a few days after that, he tries to break into another home.
Despite all that violence -- get this -- in March he`s released on bail. Then he fails to appear in court. Then he`s arrested again. Still, for some reason he can`t be kept in jail, despite all of his alleged violent, violent behavior, and ultimately, a judge orders him to spend 30 days in an outpatient program for mental health issues and substance abuse.
Let me tell you something: even after getting out of that treatment center, he ends up back in jail. He was released just five days before this rampage that ended up with this 81-year-old woman dead, her cat dead and him dead. I`m outraged.
Jon Lieberman, HLN contributor, investigative reporter, there are more people locked up in this country than any other country in the world. Yet this man is beating up people left and right, allegedly, punching strangers in the face, and nobody is willing to lock him up.
JON LIEBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Katherine Davis did not deserve this. That is the outrage.
The other outrage is you just mentioned it, is this guy got out five days ago from jail. As you said, he was on supervised probation. But even the probation officers supervising him said, one said, quote, "He will continue to be a threat to any community where he will reside." That`s one of them. Another one said obviously his behavior is out of control.
Everybody close to him foreshadowed something like this happening, yet nobody had the gall or the wherewithal to keep him somewhere away from innocent victims.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, I`ve said it before, I`ll say it again, there is a two-tiered system of justice in this country. I`ve lived in Los Angeles for 18 years. And if you saw a so-called gang member, i.e. translated a young, minority kid with his pants hanging low, and he was doing graffiti or drinking beer, they`re down on the ground, they`re spread eagle, they`re locked up. They`re taken to jail.
This guy, Mr. Pretty Boy Hollywood Actor, is punching strangers in the face, breaking into houses, hitting people over the head with Perrier bottles, and nobody keeps him in jail.
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes. And you know, there apparently also appears to be a three-tiered system where girls like Lindsay Lohan get a little bit more whacked than guys, apparently.
Look, here`s the other problem, Jane. You`re right that wealth and celebrity always get you a discount, no matter what you do. O.J., hello, murder, walk. But here`s another problem.
We live in a nation where we are bumping up against an entire culture of people, some well-intentioned, saying if it`s addiction and a nonviolent drug offender, we have to get him treatment, not put him in our precious jail beds. Why are we locking up all the addicts?
This is exactly the problem. We need to lock up some addicts. We need to lock up this kind of addict.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what? He is -- he was not a non-violent addict. I mean, according to the "Los Angeles Times," he would break in randomly to people`s houses. And he was hitting, OK -- Lewis, this according to "Los Angeles Times," Lewis broke into a North Ridge town home and beat two men with an empty Perrier bottle.
He had once lived in the same complex. One of the victims, who asked not to be identified, said he found Lewis in an upstairs room and basically told him to get out. And then he attacked them, biting them, beating their heads with the bottle. This is violent, violent behavior.
Then he punches a man in the face at a Santa Monica yogurt shop, allegedly.
First of all, Jamison Monroe, you`re an addiction specialist, founder and CEO of the Newport Academy. You`re an addiction specialist. What do you make of what you`ve heard so far?
JAMISON MONROE, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: Well, first of all, I`d like to politely disagree with Wendy. I do think that we need a lot more treatment in this country. Incarceration is not going to help addicts.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but before we get into the wonky policy talk, let`s talk about this guy, OK.
MONROE: OK. Yes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Who police believe bludgeoned an 81-year-old woman, a kind-hearted, kindly lady, to death and stomped on and dismembered her cat with his bare hands.
MONROE: It is a very sad story. And I think it is something that could have been prevented.
As you know, Jane, in the state of California we have something called a 5150 or an involuntary psychiatric hold. Judging by what Jon said and what that probation officer said, this young man was definitely eligible for an involuntary psychiatric hold in a psychiatric hospital for a long period of time where he could have been evaluated and medicated and hopefully gotten into some sort of stable condition before he was ever released back out into the public.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And there`s also jail. More on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do know there was a physical confrontation. Both male victims sustained injuries. And they were transported -- they were actually treated here at the location and transported over to Northeast where they gave statements.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A fight or what happened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Physical altercation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know what started that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point the information that we had is that the owner of the residence along with someone doing some work for him were confronted by the suspect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Twenty-eight-year-old "Sons of Anarchy," "The O.C." actor Johnny Lewis, the young man you`re looking at there, dead, and police believe he viciously and violently and brutally killed his 81- year-old landlady and also viciously stomped on her cat and dismembered her cat with his bare hands. That`s what police believe.
Let`s go straight out to Mike Walters, TMZ, you`ve been all over this story. What do you know about his alleged or we could say substance abuse problem, since he was ordered by a court into treatment?
MIKE WALTERS, TMZ: Well, I can tell you that within the last year, I am told that it went severely downhill. That before the last year totally normal kid, very good actor.
But what I`m told is he`d had a string of arrests, including burglary, assault with a deadly weapon, including a really bizarre episode where he came up to a person, sucker-punched them walking out of a yogurt shop for no apparent reason.
And what I`m being told is that he did experiment with some drugs. This wasn`t a hard-core drug addict but somebody that experimented. And that he had some deep-seated mental-health issue that, when he experimented with the drugs he had a, what they call a psychotic break. That all of a sudden about six months ago he never recovered from whatever happened to him using that substance. It`s actually called co-occurring disorder. It`s very common with people like that.
What I am told, that this is not very common of what his behavior would have been. This is shocking everyone, even the people that treated him; that he was never really violent, you know, like the stuff that happened to his landlady and the poor cat. But...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, wait a second. Yes, go ahead. Go ahead. No, no, continue on.
WALTERS: I`m told basically -- you know, the violence that she showed was getting worse was my point, that he did just this odd thing at the yogurt shop. this was several months ago. He did the jail time. He got out six days ago, Jane, got out of jail, I`m told wasn`t taking certain medications they hoped he would take for his mental illness. And they think this was some sort of psychosis that turned him into the person he was that day.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Mike Walters, thank you for that excellent report. And what struck me about what you said was psychotic break as a result of dabbling with an undisclosed drug.
Again, obviously, Johnny is -- Johnny Lewis is not here to tell us what was really going on. So we`re operating off of published reports and what people are saying. So we don`t know for sure until the toxicology reports come back. I want to stress that.
But let`s go out to Jamison Monroe, again, founder and CEO of the Newport Academy and an addiction specialist. When you hear that and hear Dylan Howard, editor in chief of Celeb Buzz, talk about Smiles, tell us hypothetically what we might be talking about here.
MONROE: Well, first of all, Smiles is very similar to bath salts. It`s an amphetamine, just like methamphetamine. Although chemists mixed the compounds around, and the Smiles gives you more of a euphoric or an Ecstasy high along with the speedy amphetamine high.
Now, the psychotic break part of things, I`m not a doctor, but I do have a lot of personal and professional experience with psychotic breaks, mainly due to drug-induced bipolar disorder, triggering manic episodes, both within my family and friends and with the patients that we see at Newport Academy. What happens is a young person is exposed to bipolar disorder, a strong drug such as a hallucinogen, an amphetamine, LSD, can trigger a manic episode and a psychotic break. And that`s really what I believe happened in this -- in this case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And I think what you`re saying, and I think you`ve done a very good analysis, but I`ve also seen this happen with a friend very dear to my heart when -- many years ago, is that bottom line, they have some kind of mental-health issue, and then they take a hard drug and that`s it. Something fries inside their brain, and they are never the same again. I saw it with a friend of mine. It was a tragedy.
And you know, for some people it only takes that one time of experimenting with a drug and having it go wrong and impacting your brain. This is a very sensitive, sensitive piece of hardware up here. And these drugs are very strong. And if they mess up something key in the hard drive of the human brain, you`re never the same. And then this can happen. This is a tragedy.
And I will say my heart goes out to Johnny Lewis` family. They tried, reportedly, very hard to help him, and they were unable to. More on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a very gruesome scene. It`s a very senseless crime. Someone that`s just defenseless, someone that`s in their late -- late years, 70, 80 years of age, I think -- and then looking this up, you don`t expect anything like this to take place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The gruesome scene is the Hollywood area writers` villa that was owned by the victim, Katherine Davis, 81 years old. Bludgeoned to death. Police believe the man responsible, Johnny Lewis, who was staying there and who also, according to cops, stomped to death her cat and decapitated her cat with his bare hands.
Other stars who have stayed there reportedly include Parker Posey and Paula Poundstone, Chris Parnell. It`s an absolutely horrifying story for Hollywood. Everybody is talking about this all across Hollywood.
And I have to say that he was in "Sons of Anarchy." Let`s check out a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don`t go to the cops. They come to us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a brotherly guy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need to know the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yesterday the creator of "Sons of Anarchy," the series that Johnny Lewis once starred in, tweeted about the death and the alleged rampage. He said it was a tragic end for an extremely talented guy who unfortunately had lost his way.
But get this, Wendy Murphy, he says, "I wish I could say that I was shocked by the events. I was not."
The idea that people who work with him were not shocked by what cops say was a brutal bludgeoning death and the dismemberment of an animal, to me, that says a lot, Wendy.
MURPHY: Yes. And what it sort of makes me wonder is if everybody around him knew that this was likely to happen, why do we have a judge who could have saved him from himself and this poor elderly woman from a disgusting, brutal death not to mention the cat, how come everybody else knew but the legal system says, "This is just a guy with an addiction problem. And he`s one of those eccentric Hollywood types so this isn`t really a public safety problem"? That`s the issue, Jane. How many times have we done your show about somebody on this exact kind of drug who kills and then eats the flesh off the dead person? Right?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And let me jump in there, because I think...
MURPHY: Why aren`t the judges doing the prediction that we`re doing?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think you have to separate out addiction from violence. This guy -- violence trumps addiction. The people who were allegedly attacked by him said that, when they were trying to control him, it was like hitting him with a fly swatter. He didn`t blink. He had super human strength.
Ten seconds, Jon Lieberman.
LIEBERMAN: Because nobody pays attention until somebody is dead and murdered, and then it`s too late.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we should pay attention, just like we`re locking up all the kids who spray graffiti, if somebody is punching a stranger cold punching a stranger who`s walking out of a yogurt shop. Maybe we should realize that goes beyond just mere drug addiction. That`s violence addiction. That`s serious mental illness. Something should have been done.
More on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Johnson`s alleged conspiracy to give away her infant son, Gabriel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where is Baby Gabriel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 8-month-old was last seen at a Texas motel back in 2009.
ELIZABETH JOHNSON, ON TRIAL FOR SON`S DISAPPEARANCE: I don`t exist anymore. I`m a ghost.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The boy`s mother, 23-year-old Elizabeth Johnson, picks up everything and takes her baby on a two-day journey traveling from Arizona to San Antonio, Texas.
LOGAN MCQUEARY, MISSING CHILD`S FATHER: She told me on the phone, "You`re never going to see Gabriel again."
Where are you and where is Gabriel?
JOHNSON: I killed him this morning. Gabriel`s in the dumpster. You want to talk to girls, that`s the price you pay.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She confessed to strangling the baby, putting him in a diaper bag and throwing his little body in a Dumpster like trash.
Tonight, secrets exposed. A brand-new tip leads cops to a San Antonio park in the search for Baby Gabriel. Look at this precious toddler. Could he still be alive?
A search party swarmed Frederick Wilderness Park on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas, after a tipster said the 8-month-old could be buried there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were pushing through underbrush, climbing up a rock, sliding down into drainages.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Investigators search for hours even using cadaver dogs. But they came up empty handed. Does that mean little Gabriel who would be more than 3 years old now, could still be alive?
His mother, 26-year-old Elizabeth Johnson, is on trial as we speak for his kidnapping. Even though she originally told the baby`s dad that she suffocated her son and then dumped him into a diaper bag and then heaved him into a dumpster.
Listen to her horrific confession.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH JOHNSON, MOTHER OF BABY GABRIEL: I suffocated him and he turned blue and I put him in the diaper bag and put him in the trash can.
LOGAN MCQUEARY, FATHER OF BABY GABRIEL: You did not hurt Gabriel.
JOHNSON: Yes, I did. I suffocated him.
You knew I would do it and you pushed me anyway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She later switched her story, however. And told cops, "Oh, no, I didn`t kill my child. I gave my baby, Baby Gabriel, to a mysterious couple in San Antonio."
Elizabeth`s lawyer, Marc Victor, has been using some bizarre strategies to defend Gabriel`s mother including not cross examining many of the prosecution`s key witnesses.
Joining me now by phone is Marc Victor, attorney for Baby Gabriel`s mother, Elizabeth Johnson. Mark thank you so much for joining us. A lot of people have been kind of scratching their heads wondering, whoa, why aren`t you cross examining some of the key witnesses for the prosecution like Logan, Elizabeth`s ex and the father of Baby Gabriel?
MARC VICTOR, ATTORNEY FOR ELIZABETH JOHNSON (via telephone): Well, Jane, it shouldn`t be a surprise to people that there`s very little to no cross-examination of many of the state`s witnesses because that`s exactly what I said to the jury in opening statements. It`s the state`s burden to prove the case. And frankly I`m only going to cross examine when issues come up that I either want to highlight to the jury or there`s a fact that is presented that we dispute.
And as I`ve said in opening statement, we really don`t dispute much of the facts as the state has presented them. That`s why there hasn`t been much cross-examination.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you think she killed her baby?
VICTOR: Well, I don`t get into those kinds of questions because it`s no part of my case. And I really don`t even have an opinion about that. And if I did, I certainly wouldn`t make it public. There really isn`t any evidence --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what`s your defense?
VICTOR: Well, there really isn`t any evidence that she killed her baby. There`s her statement. And then later as you pointed out already there`s a different statement that she gave the baby up for adoption, which was indeed the plan between Tammi Smith, at least generated from the beginning; so that shouldn`t be a surprise to anybody.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And Tammi Smith is her friend. You`re seeing her now -- her former friend who was desperate to adopt the child.
Now, Marc, you`re not just Elizabeth`s attorney, you`re also running for the U.S. Senate. Here is a clip from one of your campaign speeches. We`ll listen to it and then talk to you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICTOR: I`ve been a freedom activist most of my life. As proof of that, if you looked at my high school yearbook and you look where it said "What`s your life`s ambition", mine says to be a United States senator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Marc, a lot of people are wondering, could this be a conflict of interest? She`s a very unpopular defendant. There`s nobody who is more castigated than somebody who potentially allegedly does harm to their own child. Could you be sort of throwing the game because if you were to successfully defend her, it could negatively impact your campaign?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Jane, if I had known you were going to play a sampling of one of my speeches, I certainly would have picked something out a little bit more riveting than that. But, no; I mean, I`ve been an attorney almost 19 years. And I think I have a pretty good reputation for seeking out clients who are unpopular. I have a very principled position in terms of giving every single accused a strong defense.
And so it`s the kind of thing I`m proud of. It`s not something I would shy away from at all. And, you know, I hear that she`s unpopular, but frankly I get e-mails and lots of communications on a daily basis from people who support Elizabeth Johnson.
So at the end of the day it`s not anything that I`m thinking about or concerned about. My role as a defense attorney is to do my absolute best to defend her. And that`s exactly what I`m doing.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Well, we`ll have to see how it works out given your strategy. And I`m looking forward to hear your closing argument. I`ll put it that way.
Thank you so much, Marc Victor, the attorney for the mother of missing Baby Gabriel.
Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, you`ve heard he`s running for the U.S. Senate. He hasn`t done a lot of cross-examination of prosecution witnesses. If she is convicted, could this be the basis for an appeal?
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, no. I mean he`s entitled to do the strategy that he thinks is most likely to succeed and be zealous about it. I mean it`s hard to conceive of the concept of being a zealous attorney with silence. But it`s absolutely a fair strategy to say the government hasn`t proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt. That is a defense strategy that often works.
Let me say, I don`t know the guy, but I love when good defense attorneys are proud of their profession. I think he deserves to be elected in terms of this question even if he represents hideous monstrous murderers so long as he plays fair and by the rules and a lot of lawyers don`t.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, we`re going to have to see. I think it`s all very, very interesting that he`s running for the U.S. Senate.
Mike Brooks, thank you so much for joining us, HLN law enforcement analyst. You saw the breaking news today that there is a search going on in a park in San Antonio. Do you feel like the trial has sparked interest or maybe jarred somebody`s conscience to, oh, now I have to come forward?
MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know, it could, Jane. But I tell you, those people in San Antonio, especially San Antonio police and the police in Arizona, they`ve worked so hard on this. There`s nobody that wants to find this little boy, little Baby Gabriel, more than Chief Bill McManus of the San Antonio police -- he`s a personal friend of mine, he`s been on the show before -- and his investigators. They want to bring this to a close one way or the other.
But you know what; one thing with the aspiring senator, Jane, he says there`s been letters of people supporting Elizabeth Johnson. I`d like to see those because everyone I speak to they say, "Are you kidding me?" Either she killed her little boy or she gave him up for adoption to keep him away from a loving father. So there`s not a lot of people that I know that support Elizabeth Johnson, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Me neither. I think that when somebody loses their child, when the child disappears on their watch and then they give two horrifying explanations -- one, that the child was killed at their hands and the other they gave the children -- the child away to a stranger -- they`re not going to win any popularity contest.
More on the other side.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Your pick for "Viral Video of the Week" is mine too. Watch this heroic pig jump into some muddy water to rescue his friend, a goat who was trapped in the water. Pigs are so smart. They have a higher IQ than dogs and they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Oh, look at that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Elizabeth Johnson, the defendant and the mother of this missing child, sobbing audibly in court. She is charged with kidnapping, her child disappeared three years ago and she told the dad that she killed the child. She told the police she gave the child away to strangers.
Now, let`s take a look at what she is wearing in court. Because we just talked to her defense attorney who also hasn`t cross examined a lot of witnesses. He says everything`s going fine, thank you.
But look, Jon Leiberman, she`s dressed like she`s going to a nightclub. She`s wearing these earrings, the low cut -- I mean, shouldn`t her attorney say dress in a more appropriate manner?
JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, we know that her attorney, Marc, is pretty hands off in this case. Not even cross examining witnesses. He may have advised her to dress a little better but who`s to say she`s going to listen. She clearly is a free spirit. And the one positive with Marc not cross examining is this thing`s going to go to the jury probably by midweek next week. So we could have a verdict very shortly. But he even said they`re not really challenging the facts as put on by the prosecution.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But that doesn`t really make sense, Wendy Murphy. It doesn`t make sense they`re not challenging the facts because there are no facts. She`s told two wildly different stories: one that she killed the child -- that`s caught on tape. She told that to her ex-lover, the child`s father. And the other to cops that she gave the child away.
So when they`re saying they`re not disputing the facts, well, which facts are they not disputing?
MURPHY: Yes, good question. I mean, one of the things he`ll argue I`m sure is this case is such a mess with stuff all over the place, none of it glues together to prove any particular crime beyond a reasonable doubt and you know, that may prevail. Without a body, you know, it`s not an unprovable case, but it`s hard.
And look, here`s the thing I disagree with marc victor about. If I`m her lawyer, the one thing I`m going to do no matter what even though I`m afraid if I cross examine facts might come out that add weight to the prosecution`s case -- you have to be careful about that -- I still would have gone after the father a little bit.
I don`t know enough about why the father might not be such a great dad, but if there`s evidence and good faith to do this, I would have said to the guy, you know, she lied to you when she said she killed this baby. You know why? Because she was afraid of the child being with you -- you`re a terrible father and she saved the child`s life by giving him away. But she lied to you.
MURPHY: She lied to you about killing him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s a defense.
I would have at least asked and said, you know, you two have had arguments. Well, it takes two to argue. Did you ever argument with her? Might she have been afraid of you? I mean any number of things but just not to ask any questions.
Now, I think they do have an opportunity here, the prosecution has tried to show Elizabeth and this ex-friend of hers, Tammi Smith, who desperately wanted to adopt would have done anything to get this little Gabriel adopted.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEEANN AYALA, WITNESS: Elizabeth and Tammi came up with a plan in order to get the baby away from Logan. She was going to do whatever she had to do to make sure that he was going to sign those adoption papers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Brooks, could it just get too confusing with this other person who wanted to adopt the baby who has already been convicted of forging papers? Maybe the jurors are going to throw up their hands and say who knows what happened?
BROOKS: That could be very well. Because, you know, Tammi Smith, she was convicted of forgery in dealing with those papers that DeeAnn Ayala was talking about. But Tammi Smith was so desperate to have a child herself, you know, during her trial I said she wanted a baby at all costs. And it seems that Elizabeth Johnson wanted to get rid of little Baby Gabriel at all costs no matter what.
And they`re trying to say, well, this couple that they met in a park in San Antonio, they were friends of Tammi`s and Jack Smith. No, I think it would kind of confuse the jury a little bit. But I still don`t understand why her attorney -- and I agree -- didn`t go after, you know, Logan McQueary saying you`re a bad father, that`s why she didn`t want you to have the baby.
BROOKS: But was she a good mother? No.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: No. We can all agree that she was not a fit mother.
Thank you, panel.
Our "Kooky Video of the Day" -- a puppy in a high chair. Starship is a four-month-old Collie mix from Greenville, South Carolina, who has to eat while sitting in a highchair just like a baby. She has a condition that makes it hard to digest food, so she needs to sit up while she chows down.
And most important of all, this little angel is looking for a home.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Time for our "Pet o` the Day". Send us your pics to hlntv.com/Jane. Bobo and Gucci, tres chic. Thurber is very dignified and he has a manner. Nikita says I`m just hanging and having a good time. And Rosie and Angel are making the scene.
Have a great weekend all you pets.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you`re exporting live animals from Australia in the most horrid method possible. Many of them die only to end up on the other end in another country for more torture.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hundreds of thousands of these animals -- sheep, goat, cattle -- that are being shipped. This is some of the worst stuff I had ever seen.
America needs to see what`s going on over there in Australia -- what the Australian government is allowing to happen. It`s got to stop.
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Talk about toxic secrets. It has happened again, and this time a report claims nearly 4,000 head of cattle, many of them reportedly pregnant, left the United States bound for Russian farms and were trapped in what critics claim is a torture chamber. The cows were loaded onto a huge freighter ship to sail across the ocean, but the conditions. Once the ship docked, well, you`re looking at some photos that show really horrific conditions.
It`s difficult to watch, but I urge you to bear witness because only by bearing witness can we then do something for these helpless, voiceless creatures, cattle -- perhaps the most forgotten of all creatures in the world. Critics say, when the ship arrived halfway around the world, 400 cattle were already dead and hundreds more were reportedly killed later because they were so sick. Did 1,200 cows die as a result of this journey?
Critics are now asking for live animal exports out of the United States to be stopped until safeguards are put in place to prevent tragedies like this.
Joining me now, Leah Garces with an incredible organization -- Compassion in World Farming; why do you feel, Leah that live animal transport is a global problem?
LEAH GARCES, COMPASSION IN WORLD FARMING: Well, Jane, as it turns out, there are millions of animals that are transported from one farm to another farm across the world. And we believe strongly that this trade could easily be exchanged for either a meat only trade or in the case of these breeding cattle that were sent from Texas to Russia in a trade and sperm and ovaries. There`s no reason for this trade to happen.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the questions we posed to the USDA did result in some answers because my understanding is that -- correct me if I`m wrong, Leah -- the USDA has to sign off on any ship leaving with animals to go to a foreign country.
GARCES: That is correct. Veterinary service from USDA has to approve the health and wellness and well-being of these animals and the ship before they are allowed to leave our shores.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. So will this ship in question be transporting more animals? The USDA tells us no, at least not for now. In a statement the USDA said, "This vessel will not be reapproved for transport of additional livestock by the USDA until we have been assured that appropriate measures have been taken to prevent future problems."
Now, they won`t speculate further except the USDA does note that live cattle exports have increased dramatically to Russia -- they call it a growing market. Here`s the thing, Leah. I`m upset because did this have to happen? It`s not like you put a boat out to sea and there`s no communication like the 19th century, there`s many ways to communicate with a boat.
I believe that the USDA should have monitored this boat and every other boat with these helpless, sentient beings on it for every second of the trip. And so we`re going to take a break. On the other side, we`re going to tell you what you can do, how you can get involved and try to help stop this horror from ever happening again.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are exporting live animals from Australia in the most horrid methods possible. Many of them die only to end up on the other end in another country for more torture. Hundreds of thousands of these animals --
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VELEZ-MITCHELL: We must bear witness, and we can take action. These animals are helpless. And so many of them, millions of them, transported in boats across seas. Who is looking out for them? If you want to get involved, you can go to Compassion in World Farming that`s CIWF.org. They also have a Facebook page -- Compassion in World Farming. Or go to my home page or my Facebook. We will take you there.
These animals are voiceless. They cannot defend themselves. They are completely forgotten. And they have the same feelings that your dog or cat have. Now, was this latest case with a ship that went from Texas reportedly to Russia a disaster waiting to happen? Russian authorities and this organization I`m talking to today, Compassion in World Farming, have questioned whether the manure removal and ventilation system was working on the ship.
Leah, explain to us how these animals, obviously they produce manure. They`ve got to be cared for. They`ve got to be fed. They`ve got to be watered. And the manure has to be removed, and there has to be ventilation.
GARCES: That`s right. From what we understand, the manure removal and ventilation system stopped working. So these animals, potentially, the ones that died on board, died of the ammonia fumes from their own manure. And you can see in these horrific photos, the animals nearly drowning in their own manure.
So something should have been done. Why someone didn`t manually remove the manure, I don`t know. Why the ship didn`t call for help --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But the bigger issue is that this is a horror. And I think that we as a civilized society need to step in and say no, we do not put animals on a boat without making sure that they are well-cared for.