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Subway Death Outrage
Aired December 5, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST (voice-over): "This man is about to die." That was the headline on the cover of "The New York Post" yesterday. Story has gone viral.
Why? Because the photograph underneath that chilling headline shows a man desperately trying to escape an oncoming subway train. The paper then says one word -- "doomed".
That man did die. Dozens of people stood by and did nothing.
Did this man have to die? What would you do if you were caught in a life or death crisis?
Then, a mother of four who spent 13 years behind bars for the murder of her child. He was later found innocent, set free. She won millions for wrongful conviction.
But can money heal her rage? Her grief? And having to get to know her twin boys and husband all over again?
Let`s get started.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: Crushed like a rag doll. That is a direct quote from the photographer who took this chilling photo, published in "The New York Post" yesterday, showing what ended up being the final moments of Ki-Suck Han`s life.
Mr. Han was 58 years old, the husband and father who died after being pushed on to the railroad tracks. The photo, itself, has sparked outrage and debate.
Joining me to talk about this is Anderson Cooper, host of CNN`s "A.C. 360."
Anderson, thanks for joining me. We`re hearing so much about the story. You and I discussed it last night on your show.
The one thing that keeps coming up about this topic it seems to me is outrage -- outrage that nobody helped, outrage that nothing could be done, outrage somebody took a picture, outrage that the photographer who took the picture was busy taking the picture.
What`s your sense at what is really at the core of this story?
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "AC360": You know, I don`t feel like I know enough details about how long it took. I heard 22 seconds for this entire incident to take place. I mean, these things happen fast.
I`ve been in riots. I`ve been in situations where people have been hurt. I`ve chosen to intervene in one case. In other cases, I`ve chosen not to intervene overseas.
But, so I`m sympathetic to, you know, how fast these things can occur, and I feel like we weren`t there. There`s a lot of details we don`t know.
That being said, I do think there is a culture today where -- and I`m not talking about this professional photographer -- but where people aren`t engaged in the present. They`re not engaged --
COOPER: -- with their fellow citizens.
COOPER: They`re just there document -- you know, taking pictures to post things on Facebook or to post things on YouTube.
COOPER: We se all this time people engaged in fights, and all these people just standing around on their cell phone cameras videotaping it and laughing and put it up on YouTube. I do think that, to me, is the larger issue here, and the larger problem of people not being citizens, and, instead, just being observers. And reporters have a role as observers, but people should also be citizens and be actively engaged.
PINSKY: OK, Anderson, I want to unpack this a little bit, because this is something -- you were the first person I heard articulate that issue very clearly. We have the one issue, which is the bystander effect, which is something psychologists have documented which is that if you`re alone with somebody who`s suffering, you`re more likely to help. If you`re with five people, you`re little less likely. If you`re with 30 people, you`re going to fade into the crowd. It`s called a bystander effect.
And crowds behave differently than individuals and individuals in crowds behave differently than if they`re by themselves.
And here`s what the research shows. We don`t help.
And, Anderson, I think you were adding to that, saying not only do we not help, we stand back and think it`s more cool to document what`s going on than to engage in it. Is that pretty much getting to the core of it?
COOPER: I think people almost don`t feel like it`s real. Like it`s not -- you know, it`s like I`m sure you have people coming up and this is a complete kind of different situation, but there`s a grain of similarity.
People when they recognize a celebrity, like, people who recognize me come up. They just want a picture with me. They don`t want an actual experience. And sometimes if I`m out I`ll say, you know what, let`s have an actual experience. What`s your name? I`d rather engage with you --
COOPER: -- rather than you just take a picture.
COOPER: What`s interesting is often they don`t really want that.
PINSKY: They want something to put on Facebook. I think that`s maybe why you saw this is clearly. I have that same experience. People are like, hold on, I need a picture. And before the phones and digital cameras, people would actually want you to write something. They`d want you to say something. They`d want to have a experience to take home. Not a picture.
COOPER: Even introduce themselves, say their name. They`d want to take away a real experience, which I think is much more valuable, frankly.
But, look, I also think, look, this can be a scary situation. You have, you know, what appears to be a homeless guy throwing some guy on a train. People are scared. You know, when safety is involved, it can be difficult.
I was in a riot in Haiti a couple years ago. And, you know, somebody threw a concrete block on a little kid`s head. And, you know, he was in great distress. Blood was pouring from his head and everyone ran away from this kid.
My first instinct, honestly, was to take his picture and rush toward him and started taking his picture and I took two or three steps and realized, you know what? That`s inappropriate, I don`t need this picture. I`m going to help this kid. And I grabbed the kid and moved him to safety.
But, you know, not everybody makes those decisions or is trained or has been in enough of these kinds of situations to be able to act.
COOPER: You know, you never know how you`re going to respond --
PINSKY: That`s right.
COOPER: -- when someone starts shooting or someone starts, you know, when violence starts. It`s an impossible thing to predict until you`re actually in the middle of it.
PINSKY: That`s right. But I think, Anderson, by becoming aware and having these conversations about these kinds of circumstances, maybe we can push people to be more, as you said, citizens. You`re talking about --
COOPER: I agree.
PINSKY: -- the photographer who took the pictures today. He was on the "Today" show. They spoke to him about the photos of the victim as the train was barreling toward him. Here`s what he told Matt Lauer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
R. UMAR ABBASI, FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER: I was on assignment. It`s not that, you know, I ran to "The Post" and said, hey, guys, I have a photograph you might be interested in. If this thing happened again, with the same circumstances, whether I had a camera or not and I was running towards it, there is no way I could have rescued Mr. Han.
What really surprises me is the people who are maybe 100 feet or 150 feet away from Mr. Han, they did not reach out to help him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY: And, Anderson, that`s what you`re talking about here in terms of us trying to judge the circumstances. It maybe took, as you said, 20 seconds. I mean, we`re going to talk later on in this particular program about when do you step in, who should step in, how much time, how do you assess whether you`re going to become a victim, yourself? We`ll talk about that.
But did this interview change your opinion about the photographer?
COOPER: I read his account in "The Post" today, and I -- you know, I`m sympathetic a little bit to what he`s saying. I think it`s very easy to judge from afar when you`re, you know, in the safety of your own home and not on that subway platform and it`s all happening fast and it`s happening in a matter of seconds.
I think -- I don`t want to judge this guy, because I do think it`s very easy to just throw stones at this guy --
COOPER: -- when you, yourself have not been in this situation.
PINSKY: That`s right.
COOPER: I`ll give you a similar case. Just last week, I was getting off a plane, an elderly -- getting on one of those shuttle buses. An elderly woman tripped, fell, cut her leg, started to bleed.
There were probably 30 people on the bus. It was only me and this other man who I don`t know, instantly went toward this woman, helped her up. You know, held, you know, I held some Kleenex on to her bloody leg. You know, changed her bandage and stuff, got her a wheelchair.
And it was me and this other guy. Everybody on the bus just stood around watching and I found that really unusual and surprising to me. And I guess -- it`s, again, just another small example of, I think people need to be more engaged and think in these situations.
Often we act like sheep and just follow what everybody else is doing.
PINSKY: That`s right. We are wired to become bystanders. Let`s two ahead and override that. How about that?
I`d like to see if I can take a quick call. Pamela, are you still there? Pamela?
PAMELA, CALLER FROM PENNSYLVANIA: Yes, I am.
PINSKY: Go right ahead.
PAMELA: Hi, Dr. Drew.
PAMELA: I have a family member that was shot and killed. As a matter of fact, it was my cousin. And the local newspaper put a picture of him lying on the sidewalk dead right on the front page of the newspaper. My family was horrified, to say the least. My heart and prayers go out to the family, because I know how they must be feeling.
PINSKY: Pam, and this is another layer of the outrage. Should we be posting pictures of people whose families are going to be adversely affected by these dramatic moments?
Anderson, you`re a journalist. Do you have feelings about that? There used to be long conversations about the ethics of this. It seems like now, we`re going to the distributor, going for the circulation. People are barely thinking a beat before they print a picture.
COOPER: You know, I`m certainly sympathetic to any family members. And I don`t want to be in a position where a family member has learned about a tragedy because --
PINSKY: I got to stop you. Then, here we go -- hang on a second, Anderson. Now here we`re putting the picture on television. You know what I mean? I don`t know if you can see it or not. It`s alongside you or me here.
COOPER: I would argue, though, you know, this is a good discussion to have, and if this picture does prompt people to talk -- and, look, I`m a reporter. My job is to document what happens. Horrible things happen to people all the time. I have taken pictures of it. I`ve taken pictures of people being killed in front of me and, you know, in a riot situation.
And sometimes you don`t know how intervening is going to change a situation. Sometimes you think intervening is going to help and it actually makes a situation worse. I`ve been in those situations. I don`t think that would have been the case here.
COOPER: But, again, it`s very hard to --
PINSKY: Second guess.
COOPER: -- to judge other people in these situations.
PINSKY: Yes. I really appreciate this conversation. Thank you for joining me today. Really, it`s something we all have to think about.
And if -- and if we improve our sort of instincts 10 percent, to overcome this tendency to be a bystander, we`ll have done something tonight. So, thank you for joining me. I really appreciate it.
COOPER: And, you know what, what I -- you know, if people had at least rushed toward the guy and tried and not even, you know, just rushed toward the guy, and then maybe they said, look --
PINSKY: I can`t.
COOPER: -- I didn`t get there in time, but I didn`t see people rushing toward him.
PINSKY: That`s right.
OK. Now, joining us next, I have a man who did act heroically to save someone`s life. Questions we`ll be asking tonight, why do some spring to action while others don`t?
Later on, last part of the show, a mom who spent 13 years in jail for killing her daughter then proved she didn`t do it. We`ll talk about that.
Stay with us.
PINSKY: Thanks again to Anderson Cooper. I really do appreciate it when he joins the program.
We`ve been talking about the shocking subway death in New York.
My next guest knows what it is like to save someone`s life. What made them do it, why did they act differently than others?
Also, Steve Kardian, he`s a former police detective who rescued a boy buried in sand when he, himself, was 16 years old.
Joe Zamudio jump into action when Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and six others were shot last year.
Now, I had another -- I had a third, which was Jeremy, who actually jumped on the tracks and pulled somebody off. I guess we lost contact with him.
Wait, there he is. Is that Jeremy right now I see? Jeremy, can you hear me? That`s Joe.
OK. So, Joe, you jumped in front of the circumstance when Gabby Gifford was being shot. Can you tell us what do you think made you go toward action, when you hear gunshots, when most people would run away?
JOE ZAMUDIO, HELPED DETAIN SUSPECT IN GIFFORDS SHOOTING: Well, Dr. Drew, I was carrying my gun that day. So I always carry my gun, and I felt like I was safe and I was going to be able to help somebody.
PINSKY: So, Joe, let me stop. Let`s -- hang on, Joe. Joe, let`s not make this about -- hang on a second, Joe, if you can her me.
Let`s not make this about guns or not guns. Let`s talk about preparedness versus not preparedness.
Do you think by virtue of having a weapon, you felt prepared, you knew how to act, you knew you could make a difference and that`s what allowed you to do so?
ZAMUDIO: Yes. Well, I mean, allowed to or not, I don`t know. I think that what we should all do is help. You know? We should all be wanting to help somebody and be there for our fellow man.
If somebody is in danger, you see a guy fall into a hole where a train might go by at some point? How is your first action not to run over there and see if he needs help? Like if I fall into a hole, I hope to God somebody comes along to help me, especially where a train goes by.
I can`t imagine being somebody standing there and not running up to the edge, doing something.
PINSKY: Well, I`ve actually got a young man who did do that. His name is Jeremy Clifton. He rescued a man from subway tracks in Atlanta. We`re going to show you that video.
Jeremy, again, we`ve got it here. Let`s take a look at that tape.
I`ll talk to you, perhaps, while the tape is playing. Can we take a look at that? There it is. There you are, oh, my goodness, and is there a train coming, Jeremy, as we`re watching you pull this guy off?
JEREMY CLIFTON, RESCUED MAN FROM SUBWAY TRACKS: It wasn`t a very close thing. The train wasn`t about to come through.
The part right before that, you hear screams on the tape and he`s being shocked on the third rail.
PINSKY: So hang on. You`re being somewhat modest. So he`s on the electrified rail. By you reaching out, you, yourself, could become electrocuted as well.
PINSKY: And you knew that reaching in.
PINSKY: Yet you did. So why -- what made you step up? We just heard Joe say it`s unthinkable people would turn away, wouldn`t take action. You knew you were putting yourself in harm`s way. It wasn`t a train, it was electrocution. Yet you did it.
Why you? What was different?
CLIFTON: Well, no offense to Joe and no offense to Cooper, I think, as well, but I don`t think there was a difference. I -- I think that I am not special in this way. I -- when you look at this tales of folks who do brave things, you discover again and again that they`re not special. Like, they had a special training of some sort.
I -- I was a fireman for a bit. I did a bunch of things. I didn`t act the way I was supposed to. I did dumb stuff. You`re not supposed to grab a guy when he`s on the third rail.
PINSKY: Right. But you did. You had some training. You had some sort of confidence of that, you know, backing you up. You had that sense of training.
I want to go back to Steve -- Steve Kardian.
Steve, you understand this stuff very deeply. You actually saved an 8-year-old when you were 16. That was your first experience with this. What are your thoughts on all this?
STEVE KARDIAN, SAVED SOMEONE`S LIFE: Well, it was, Dr. Drew, and I just want to quickly thank you, you and Anderson Cooper, for that information. It was right-on, expertly done.
When I was a young kid of 16, I was on a beach with my girlfriend, now wife, and saw a lady jump up. She ran over to a pile of sand. I ran over and there was an 8-year-old boy that had piled the sand up and dug down in. It collapsed on him for a lengthy period of time.
I went about digging as fast as I could. It took me a while to reach him. I lifted him up.
He wasn`t breathing. He was purple. His eyes were rolled back in his head. He was completely limp.
At that time, there were 20 adults standing around me that live and vacation at that beach. I held him up and repeatedly said, please, does anyone know CPR, does anyone know CPR? Not a single person spoke to me.
I laid him down, I had read about doing CPR, so I did rescue breathing. A little bit later, he began -- about a minute or so later he began breathing.
I was left with the question, you know, why was that delegated, that task delegated to a 16-year-old kid?
PINSKY: What do you think now as an adult? You`re now somebody that works in the helping professions. What? What is this about us?
KARDIAN: Well, Dr. Drew, there`s a saying in law enforcement that we have, is that danger, exposure to danger makes a brave person braver. That`s a law enforcement thing.
The average person is not exposed to that daily event, what we saw in that subway. They become panicked. They don`t know what to do.
Unless there`s a leader in the group that dictates and takes command and runs over and leads them into that rescue, it`s likely not to happen.
PINSKY: OK, Steve, how do we create leaders out of this? How do we not freeze out of fear? How do we prepare ourselves? Do you have any advice?
KARDIAN: Yes, what do we see ourselves today do? We`re on our cell phone, we`re texting. We`re reading a book. When we get on the subway, we look down at people`s feet. The only people looking straight ahead are law enforcement, fire, and EMS.
So, prepare yourself every day for anything that could go possibly wrong in your life. Come up with a blueprint. It`s a plan of action to go to so that you have something to draw upon in a time of extreme emotional stress and duress.
PINSKY: Yes, it`s about being conscious, being aware, thinking about things, having presence of mind. Not thinking it can`t happen to me. I say that all the time on this show. Thinking it could happen to me, how do I prepare for if?
When we come back, we have another shocking video of people saving someone from train tracks moments before a certain death. What would you do?
We want to hear from you, 855-DRDREW5. Be right back.
PINSKY: I want to thank Jeremy and Joe for sharing their stories of courage and quick thinking.
Going to bring in now Cade Courtley, former Navy SEAL and author of "SEAL Survival Guide."
Cade, now, we`ve seen people in public and perhaps those who are behaving questionably.
We have a video, I think, of the guy that was pushed on to the track. We don`t have it just yet. We`re going to get it for you. We`re searching for it right now.
The question is, I want to sort of sort out now, is when do we intervene? And when does intervening just create another victim?
CADE COURTLEY, FORMER NAVY SEAL: You have to intervene. The day when we stop helping each other out, we`re on a bad path.
It would have taken 10 seconds for somebody to say, you and you, get down here with me, you and you, pull him up. OK. Let`s get out. Are you OK? Ten seconds.
Instead of doing that, you had people consciously taking pictures, taking video, and refusing to help. And I don`t want to hear about this you can`t Monday morning quarterback. That is an excuse for being a coward.
I`m sorry. I just -- it`s wrong. You don`t have to be a Navy SEAL to do something as simple as trying to help somebody out who`s down there with a train approaching.
PINSKY: All right. Well, this is why I got you here, because I want to know what we need to do and how we can change outcomes in the future and how I -- how people watching, do not become a coward. How we actually have the wherewithal not to freeze.
Now, you and I have talked about situations like the Colorado shooting where people do freeze. They lose their fine motor coordination. How do we become that leader, that marshals resources? I have, what, 15 seconds. You`re going to answer this when we get back from the break, Cade.
How do we marshal resources and become that guy unless we`ve been in these situations before? You`re a Navy SEAL, you`re saying you don`t need to be a Navy SEAL to be that person. I agree with you.
When I get back from this break, I`m going to show you the tape of another rescue, another person who nearly died and we`re going to talk about how to prevent this from happening to somebody else.
Be right back.
PINSKY: All right. We have now one of the tapes I wanted to show you. This is a guy who jumped on to the train tracks deliberately to harm himself but was saved by quick thinking heroes. Take a look at this.
Here it is. This is an intentional dive on to the tracks. Then, look, everybody springs into action.
Again, Cade, I want to go to you. You said all it takes is 10 seconds for a -- oh my goodness, this was close, too -- for a leader to step up, marshal resources, and really change the bystander effect.
I mean, this is really a close call. Tell us how we do that if we`ve never been in these situations before, Cade.
COURTLEY: Look, I would never expect somebody who`s never been in combat to know how to react to a situation where there are multiple people shooting, like in the movie theater, in a mall. But all it takes -- it doesn`t even take 10 seconds. It takes one person to decide, we need to help this individual. And then when one person does it, the rest will follow.
PINSKY: Well, but, Cade, it`s simple to say that, but here`s the two things fighting against that. We naturally -- when we become very afraid, we become literally petrified. We freeze. That`s a common response, number one. And then number two, there`s the bystander effect that`s been well documented.
People don`t, when they`re in a group, more than a few people, they stand by. Is it really just about calling that into awareness now because of this horrible tragedy? That we can counteract that? Is it as simple as that?
COURTLEY: It really is as simple as that. Look, I spend the first portion of my book just talking about a mindset to survive. And that mindset has got to be starting with this, not like you said earlier, this will never happen to me, to when this happens to me, what am I going to do? Take that a step further. If I`m in this situation, I need to rise to the occasion.
Whether it`s somebody who has fallen down, there`s somebody shooting, and I need to get away, you need to mentally prepare and think about these things. You don`t have to be in the situation. Just think about, what would I do if this happened? Make a visual movie of it. Think about it and act. But look, it`s a dangerous world. We need people to step up.
PINSKY: All right.
COURTLEY: Every day.
PINSKY: I don`t disagree with you. Now, Steve, let me go out to you. Do you think that`s too aggressive or are we going to end up with more victims as a result of people developing a vigilante attitude? In fact, in the control room, if you have a video of the guy fighting with the gentleman, I think there`s a video out there, I think we have it, who eventually pushed him on to the tracks, if you could play that behind Steve`s response here.
There it is now. That`s the guy that eventually pushes him on to the tracks. Was that a mistake, to confront this guy who was, Steve, harassing other people in the subway station?
STEVE KARDIAN, SAVED SOMEONE`S LIFE: No, especially if the reports are true that he had been drinking. It`s at no time during that scenario that he should have approached him. If you are intoxicated, stay away. We have plenty of things we can do. Thank you, Cade, for your service. Everybody should read his book.
But, the people that actually respond to something like this are our true heroes. And they`re far and few between.
PINSKY: Wait, Steve, hang on, Steve. Hold on. I want to be able to respond. Am I wrong? Am I going to just be a guy laying on the tracks bloody, too? Am I wrong to think that way?
COURTLEY: Dr. Drew, if I could cut in here --
PINSKY: Steve first, then Cade. Steve, please?
KARDIAN: Yes, people need to be told that they can do that or a leader has to step up to undertake that, because the general person, the 9:00 to 5:00er is not going to do that by himself. Our heroes will, but not the 9:00 to 5:00er in general.
COURTLEY: I`m looking at this video, real quick, and if you can play it back. Two things are totally glaringly apparent to me. You have a guy who apparently was picking fights with everybody. Number one, remove yourself from the immediate vicinity of that guy. Number two, unfortunately, our victim here is standing in between him and the tracks when he should move away from that.
Get against the wall. Just step away. And all of this is all examples of being aware of your situation. Situational awareness. Step away. Instead, unfortunately, he`s put himself between a threatening person and the true threat, and he ended up on the tracks.
PINSKY: Let`s go to a call. Debbie in New York. Debbie, you want to ring in?
DEBBIE, NEW YORK: Sure. Real quick. I was in actually Brooklyn and a guy apparently he was on pain medication from what he told me later, fell on to the tracks, and I actually -- I mean, I just went up to him, you know, quickly enough. He kind of -- he was stubborn.
He didn`t really want any help, I think, because he was disoriented. But, I felt the need to do something because it just freaked me out. And I felt like he`s going to get hit.
PINSKY: What did you do?
DEBBIE: So, I mean, it`s a natural reaction to want to do something.
PINSKY: And what did you do, Debbie? Tell us. What did you do?
DEBBIE: It`s as simple as that.
PINSKY: What did you do?
DEBBIE: No, I went ahead and pulled him out. He was a little stubborn and resistant. I think it was also because he was disoriented.
DEBBIE: And I finally was able to pull him out. It did take about 15 seconds. He was heavy. You know, I`m about 5`5", 140 pounds, not very strong.
PINSKY: OK. All right. Hold on, Debbie. Cade, go ahead.
COURTLEY: Do you have any law enforcement or military training? Did you use to be a wrestler? Any kind of athletic background?
COURTLEY: Why did you do that?
KARDIAN: She is a hero.
COURTLEY: Did you feel compelled to help?
DEBBIE: I mean, yes. It just freaked me out. I mean, there was people on both sides of me. I think everybody felt like the train wasn`t - - it took, like, a minute for the train to finally come in. So, I think a lot of people -- one person even laughed --
PINSKY: But hold on, Cade, what`s your point? Should she not have done it?
COURTLEY: No, my point is Debbie is a prime example of somebody who felt the need to help. She didn`t have military training. I don`t know how strong you are, Debbie, but you went in there and you saved a life.
COURTLEY: More people need to do what Debbie`s doing in this time we`re living in.
PINSKY: I agree. Debbie, thank you, my dear. Thank you. I`ve got another Debby. She`s in Louisiana. Debby, you have a call?
DEBBY, LOUISIANA: Yes, hi, Dr. Drew.
PINSKY: Hi, Debby.
DEBBY: I think this is totally disgusting, and I don`t know which is more disgusting. The fact that some idiot took a picture instead of helping or the fact he probably sold his picture to the newspaper office. You know, I`m real sorry for this poor man`s family that I wasn`t there, because I would have helped this man.
DEBBY: But my question is, can the man who took the picture, can he be held liable either from law enforcement or this man`s family?
PINSKY: Well, I think there`s a bigger question here that every viewer needs to ask themselves. In a day when people represent their lives, their experiences -- Anderson was talking about it earlier on the show, by virtue of what happens on Facebook, would you have taken that picture?
If you were frozen there and saw a $1 million picture you could take, would you take it? I want to hope that Debby you`re right, that people would feel outraged about it. Do either of you have an opinion about the guy taking the picture?
COURTLEY: Yes, absolutely. I would like to take him and beat him with his camera personally.
PINSKY: Don`t do that, Cade. Steve, your point?
KARDIAN: It tells a lot about his inner core, Dr. Drew. No, that was a cowardly act. It can`t be condoned.
PINSKY: OK, gentlemen. Thank you. Of course, to Anderson Cooper from earlier, Cade Courtley, Steve Kardian, Jeremy Clifton, Joe Camudio (ph), all for sharing their videos.
Now, switching gears. We`re going to speak to a mother who spent 13 years in jail for killing her young daughter, but guess what? She didn`t do it. And now, she`s free. Her very interesting story after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (voice-over): A mother of four who spent 13 years behind bars for the murder of her child. She was later found innocent, set free. She won millions for wrongful conviction. But can money heal her rage, her grief, and having to get to know her twin boys and husband all over again?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PINSKY (on-camera): And joining us from Buffalo, New York, are Lynn Dejac Peters and her attorney, Steven Cohen. Lynn, 13 years in jail for a murder you did not commit. Tell us about your daughter and the night she was killed. Give us that story.
LYNN DEJAC PETERS, CLEARED OF MURDERING HER DAUGHTER: Well, first of all, I`d like to say hello, Dr. Drew. And it is hard for me to go back, but I`ll do my best. I went to a wedding with a gentleman, and I will call him a gentleman for the sake of the show. And after the wedding, I had broke it off with him. We had only gone on a couple of dates, so, and I just didn`t want to date him anymore.
So, I proceeded to tell him that I was breaking it off. He continued to ask me why. He would not leave my home. I called the police. And then, afterwards, I took the situation away from my home and then several hours later --
PINSKY: Lynn, I`m sorry. It`s hard to track your story. I`m sorry. I know it`s hard to talk about this stuff. So, am I -- if I sort of try to understand what you`re telling us, you had a nasty breakup with a guy? He came -- he was stalking you or something, is that right? He came after you or threatened you?
PINSKY: OK. So, he ends up threatening you. How does he get his hands on your daughter?
PETERS: No, he didn`t threaten me. He threatened a friend of mine.
PINSKY: OK. How does he get his hands on your daughter? Is he the perpetrator? Is that what we`re saying?
PETERS: Yes. I don`t know how he got his hands on my daughter.
PINSKY: Where were you the night of the murder? I`m confused.
PETERS: I was with a friend.
PINSKY: Did you know that this guy was out lurking and trying to get to you?
PETERS: I don`t understand what you mean.
PINSKY: Why was -- Steve, maybe you can help me. Why was the daughter alone?
STEVEN COHEN, ATTORNEY, WON $2.7 MILLION FOR INNOCENT WOMAN: Well, she was 13 years old. She was home sleeping. She, herself, was a baby- sitter. She was a responsible girl. She was an honor student. She was asleep. Her mom, Lynn, was worked at the family tavern, and it was not unusual for Crystal Lynn to be at home sleeping by herself.
PINSKY: OK. So, mom was at work. Is that right? Mom was at work and daughter was at home, 13-year-old, and this guy got through to her. Now, how did -- now, tell us, how did you get blamed for this murder?
PETERS: From what I`m understanding, a family friend said that I confessed.
PINSKY: A family friend said you confessed? And that`s what was told in court? I mean, if I were sitting on the jury, what would I have heard? This is all -- this is all hard to understand. I`m on the jury, what would I have heard, Steve?
COHEN: Well, your confusion is well-founded. The jury was made to hate Lynn as being a rotten mother. That was the theory of the case put forth by the prosecution. And no facts supported this murder.
PINSKY: What would they have told me about her? If I`m sitting on the jury, what would they have told me?
COHEN: Nothing relevant to the murder. They were just saying -- they harped on the fact that what was your daughter doing home alone? What were you doing out not with your daughter? If you call the police on Dennis Donahue (ph), who you say killed your daughter --
COHEN: -- why would you have left her alone?
PINSKY: That`s my question. I would wonder that, too. I would sit on the jury and wonder the same thing.
COHEN: OK. But that`s all they focused on.
PINSKY: Then I heard -- hang on a second. I heard that there was cocaine in the daughter`s system as well, also. Is that right?
COHEN: Absolutely correct. And it`s known that night that Dennis Donahue used cocaine earlier that day. There has never been any suggestion of cocaine use by Lynn or the daughter, Crystal Lynn, ever. No suggestion of that. And there was cocaine in the daughter`s system.
PINSKY: How are we saying that got there? How did that get there? The cocaine?
COHEN: The prosecution refused to focus on that. See, the problem is, as incredible as this seems, the prosecution gave immunity to Dennis Donahue to testify against Lynn. What`s more incredible is that Dennis Donahue did not give any damning testimony against Lynn.
COHEN: He got complete transactional immunity for this crime. They couldn`t prosecute him. So, they leveled all their guns at Lynn.
PINSKY: I see. OK. I have somebody -- I brought in a legal expert to help me sort this out. I didn`t know I was going to be quite this confused about things. I brought in former prosecutor, Loni Coombs. Loni, great to see you. Help me clear this up.
I understand you studied this case a little bit. How did this happen? How did the cocaine -- I want to tell you, as a clinician, my first thought is if she was raped, cocaine shows up in bodily fluids that can be transmitted to somebody else. Believe it or not, that happens. What`s your -- clear this up for me.
LONI COOMBS, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, first of all, Dr. Drew, let me say I have great empathy for Lynn, for, first of all, the loss of her daughter, and then also the loss of the time she spent in prison.
PINSKY: It`s awful. Yes. It`s awful.
COOMBS: However, I did go through the transcripts of the trial and the prosecution actually was able to put on a very compelling case showing some very depraved behavior on Lynn`s part from the time that the coroner said that her daughter was dead to the time that she actually reported her death to the police which was about 15 hours later.
Fifteen hours from the time that she -- the coroner says she died. During that time, Lynn was out drinking. She was having a confrontation with this gentleman that she said was stalking her. She called other people kind of implying that her daughter was still alive but home alone even though it was during that time the coroner said her daughter was already dead.
At one point, she called another young friend and said, would you please go check on my daughter because my ex-boyfriend is psychotic and might try to harm her? But Lynn, herself, did not go home and check on her. Instead, she went to her current boyfriend`s house, had sex with him, stayed with him until noon the next day when the boyfriend said he dropped her off.
And it was still two more hours until Lynn called another ex-boyfriend and said, I think my daughter is dead.
PINSKY: OK. So, a lot of stuff piled up. And the prosecution presented all this. How, then does she get off if all that stuff was so compelling? And I think she wins even a lawsuit against the state for wrongful imprisonment. How did that all switch around?
COOMBS: Right. Well, and there was also evidence, some more at the crime scene about the body being moved and washed before the police got there and things like that. But, what happened was DNA evidence. And at the time this trial went on, the DNA evidence was not as sophisticated as it is today.
And as we know with the innocence project, a lot of cases are being looked at, evidence that was not able to be tested back in the 1990s is now being tested. And there was DNA evidence recovered from the scene which was finally tested and was linked to this person that was stalking her or her daughter or whoever it was.
This person linked to Lynn, and it showed that his DNA was in the blood smear on the daughter`s bedroom wall. It was inside her daughter showing some type of sexual molestation.
PINSKY: So, Loni --
COOMBS: It was on the bed sheets. So, he was clearly there.
PINSKY: So, help me make sense of all this. Why was there so much evidence piled up against her and then she isn`t the perpetrator? It doesn`t make --
COHEN: Framed Lynn, and the passion with which Loni just expressed the prosecution`s case is evidence of the fact that when there was no murder committed by Lynn against her daughter, the jury was snowed just like Loni seems to have bought some of this stuff, but, of course, Loni now sees that the DNA evidence may --
COOMBS: No, no, no. No, no.
COHEN: No, no, no, no. Listen. Just listen. There is no question, at this point in time, that Crystal Lynn Gerard (ph) was murdered by Dennis Donahue. Dennis Donahue`s DNA was found --
COOMBS: Actually, the evidence is that she died of an overdose of cocaine. We don`t know how that happened.
PINSKY: People don`t die over overdoses of cocaine. They don`t.
COOMBS: So, they`re not prosecuting Dennis Donahue for this either.
PINSKY: All right. You guys are going to break up the fight. Hang on. Actually, I`ve ran out of time over this particular break. So, hold on a second. We`re going to talk about -- Lynn evidently left the set right now. She didn`t like this conversation. I`m going to get back, see what`s going on with her. More with Loni, more with Steve, and get to the bottom of this after the break.
PINSKY: All right. We got all kinds of drama here. Loni, I think you -- I`m not going to blame myself. I did not intend to upset Lynn nor her attorney, Steve. I can understand -- hang on a second. I know you didn`t, either. I can understand how revivifying those unpleasant experiences could be tough.
We`re just trying to understand these things. She didn`t commit the murder. She was awarded millions of dollars for wrongful imprisonment. And yet, both she and her attorney have bailed out on us and ran off the set. So, I don`t know.
COOMBS: Well, I apologize. That was not my intention. I, you know, what happened at the trial in 1994, before the DNA is available, is really an important lesson, I think, for all of us in that you can take a set of circumstances and without all of the evidence, it can fit a certain scenario that makes sense which made sense to the jury, the judge, and the appellate judge --
PINSKY: Stop, Loni. I understand, if I were sitting on that jury or you were sitting on that jury, we probably would have convicted her without the DNA evidence.
COOMBS: Right. Right. And that`s why this DNA evidence is so crucial that we be able to have that evidence so that people get the full story and people that are innocent don`t go to jail or to prison like Lynn did for 13 years. What she would been saying about this stalker coming after her was true.
COOMBS: And it ends up that he did go on --
PINSKY: Whatever nefarious stuff she was involved with does not make her a murderer. This is the issue here. She -- the case sounds a little Casey Anthony-esque, you know what I mean? The sort of nonsense she was involved with makes us think about that case. But here`s the thing where she was clearly exonerated.
Now, I`m also joined now on the phone, I finally got somebody else in here. She`s a guest who made an impression on me the last time she was on the show. Her name is Brenda Clubine. She went to prison for 25 years for killing her husband. Brenda says she knows too well that feeling that anyone would have. There she is of being, you know, imprisoned and then trying to get back incorporated into the real world.
I mean, Brenda, when you came into the world out of prison, there were -- you`d never seen a cell phone before, I imagine?
VOICE OF BRENDA CLUBINE, RELEASED FROM PRISON AFTER 25 YEARS: Right, right. And, you know, people don`t understand that, you know, there`s been so many changes, not just technologically, but you know, children grow up, grandchildren are born. Life goes on without you.
And, you know, I -- I totally -- my heart goes out to Lynn, because I understand in a way why she left the set.
PINSKY: That`s what I want to ask you. Can you relate to the fact that even talking about this -- I mean, she had to reacquaint herself with her twins, with her husband. She must be very upset. And this stuff must be very tender for her.
CLUBINE: Absolutely. It`s like, you know, having that many years stolen out of your life, and then, finally, to have someone listen to you and really understand and know the truth, and you know what, yes, things will still evolve, but what people don`t get is, you know what, there`s a great amount of character assassination --
PINSKY: Got to go, Brenda. I`m sorry. Don`t mean to cut you short. I`ve got to take a break. Be right back.
PINSKY: Now, on Monday, Anna David was on the show, and she said that Jeff VanVonderen from the show "Intervention" had relapsed. She was misinformed. Mr. VanVonderen is an active, highly respected interventionist and is still very much a part of "Intervention." We would like to pass along Anna David`s personal apology for spreading this misinformation.
Thank you to Anderson Cooper, Loni Coombs, and all my guests tonight. I`d love to go list every one of you. I think it was a very interesting program. Cade, I can`t -- I don`t have time to get to everybody. I want to thank you all for watching. Thank you for calling as well. I`ll see you next time. Just a reminder here that "Nancy Grace" begins right now.