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JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL

Will Father Testify Against Teen Accused of Murder?

Aired July 30, 2013 - 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, breaking news the as a baby faced Kentucky kid sits in a jail cell right now, about to go on trial tomorrow morning. And you can bet that boy is wondering right now if his convicted killer dad will throw him under the bus.

Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live.

The teen on trial for his life is accused of helping his dad brutally beat another boy to death. Tonight, we`ve learned the dad, who has already pleaded guilty to this vicious killing, will take the stand for the prosecution this week. So will this mad man testify against his own flesh and blood and help send his own kid to prison for life?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOSH GOUKER, CONVICTED OF MURDER: I said, "Josh, if they catch us, you just play crazy."

AMANDA CAMPBELL, TREY ZWICKER`S MOTHER: Hardest thing I ever had to do was bury my 14-year-old son.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you set your son up to kill Trey Zwicker?

GOUKER: No, absolutely not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No parent should ever have to feel that pain.

GOUKER: It`s one murder.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s so heartbreaking, and my daughter (ph) says to me to get Trey back.

GOUKER: It`s probably the worst thing I`ve ever done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just wish this never happened.

GOUKER: We`re even.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What a horror story. A 14-year-old boy beaten to death with a pipe, his body tossed into a ditch behind a school. And when the boy was murdered, he`d been living with his mom and his ex-con stepdad. That stepdad initially blamed the murder on his own son, who was just 15 at the time.

But look at this kid defendant. He`s now 17. There he is taking off his tie and his belt and his shoes before being hauled back to jail.

His dad later changed his story and insisted this son had nothing to do with the killing. Instead, the dad pleaded guilty himself, insisting he had killed his stepson in an act of revenge because the boy`s mom, his wife had aborted their child.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOUKER: I`m just mad. I hit him, he went down. I stepped on his hand, pulled the bar. He still had the bar in his hand. I hit him and before I knew it, it was all over.

I didn`t really even really think about it at first. It was just too late; I hit him. I don`t know, I couldn`t stop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This demented dad is a lifelong criminal, a murderer, a liar, a drug addict, and quite possibly the worst father in all of America. What on earth will he say when he takes the stand in his son`s trial for the prosecution? Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to the Lion`s Den. Let`s start with Michelle Suskauer. We`ve got a fantastic panel tonight. What do you expect this sicko dad, whose name is Josh Gouker, to say? Will he turn on his son again and implicate him in a murder, and he`s already pleaded guilty to it. If so, why?

MICHELLE SUSKAUER, ATTORNEY: No, I think, look, this is not the most credible witness. But I think when he sees his son sitting at the defense table facing life in prison, he`s going to come into the defense of his son. But again, he`s going to be ripped apart by both sides depending on what he does, and he could be very, very inconsistent based on his background. He`s already said, he`s already backed away from his statement that his son was involved. He`s already pled guilty. He`s already doing life in prison. So he has nothing to lose, and maybe out of guilt he`s going to be helping his son.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Tanya Acker, he`s a witness for the prosecution? Does that mean he`s a hostile witness? Or could he decide, you know what? Maybe they`ll let me out early if I throw my own son under the bus.

TANYA ACKER, ATTORNEY: Well, Jane, you never know what kind of deal the prosecutors may have struck with him, but it seems really unlikely that now, after having changed his story once, that he would change it again and then blame his son.

And I really tend to agree with your earlier guest. I think this is a situation where now perhaps he wants to make it right.

Now the prosecutors want to use, certainly, his earlier statements against his son against him. That`s probably why they`re calling him. But I don`t know that we can suggest that he`s going to turn on his son again.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon Leiberman.

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Right, and Jane, the other thing, too, is that Josh Gouker might inadvertently help the prosecution, as well. Because we`ve learned they`re actually going to use many of Josh Young`s seemingly contradictory statements against him, and what they`re going to try to do is to get, you know, his father to corroborate many of these contradicting statements. So he might actually inadvertently help the government...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ashley...

LEIBERMAN: ... even know he`s not throwing Josh under the bus.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ashley Merchant, go ahead.

ASHLEY MERCHANT, ATTORNEY: ... help his son. I definitely think he`s going to try and help his son. I think that the state will try and use the statements against him that he`s made, because it`s all they`ve got. They really don`t have much in the way of a case. So they`ve got to try and use this dad against their own son.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, why on earth are they, then, trying to send a kid to prison for life by trying him as an adult, if they have no evidence against him?

And as for all of your assurances about this man, this man is one of the sickest characters that I`ve run across in covering very sick cases. This is a guy who allegedly fed drugs to his own son and stepson, who allegedly showed them porn: himself having sex, allegedly, with other women. And you`re so confident he`s going to do the right thing? I ain`t. I`m not that confident.

All right. Look, the family dynamics in this case, very complicated. Josh`s childhood -- that`s the defendant -- it was very tainted by abuse, neglect, drugs. I just talked about it. Now, take a look at this timeline.

At 11 years old, this defendant was caught trying to break into this car with his mother`s boyfriend. That same year, he tested positive, positive at age 11, for narcotic painkillers. His mom died of a drug overdose three years ago when Josh was just 14. When his mom died, Josh was put in foster care and was doing great until his convict dad got out of prison, after serving eight years for robbery and assault, and fought for custody of Josh about a year ago.

This bad dad was allegedly then giving both his son and his stepson, who was ultimately murdered, drugs, alcohol and showing them videos of himself engaging in sexual activity.

So the boy on trial had been flourishing with his foster parents until he arrived at this ex-con father`s home, just a couple of months before the brutal killing.

I want to go straight out to my exclusive guest, the aunt of this young defendant.

Linda Lanham, thank you for joining us from Louisville, Kentucky. I know this has to be very difficult for you, so I appreciate you weighing in at this very crucial juncture on the eve of your nephew`s trial.

How do you feel about your nephew facing trial tomorrow as an adult with the possibility of going to prison for the rest of his life?

LINDA LANHAM, JOSH YOUNG`S AUNT: Oh, this has been very, very hard. And I think it`s all been orchestrated by Gouker.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The dad?

LANHAM: I don`t think my nephew should be there. Yes. I don`t think my nephew should be there at all. I don`t think he was at the scene. I don`t think he had anything to do with it. I think this is all the father manipulating the system and everybody involved in it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, now, another relative yesterday told us that, when he got out of prison after serving eight years for a violent offense, he became this actor and convinced social services to give him his son back and manages to get this boy, who was doing so well with his foster family. This is the kid on trial right now.

And next thing you know, the stepson, that other boy, is dead under this guy`s watch. And this young son of his is accused of murder. I mean, how on earth was social services allowing this man to get his hands on two impressionable boys?

LANHAM: Here is something that everyone doesn`t know yet, but when my sister, Angelina, passed away, myself and another cousin of the family hired an attorney, and we fought to get custody of the children. And we were denied, because I was too old, and then as soon as this man got out of prison, they put him right in his hands.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You were too old? Well, you don`t look old to me, and when is age...

LANHAM: Well, thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And if age accompanies wisdom, when is that a bad thing? I mean, generally, when you hear of parental units getting into trouble, they`re not in their 40s. They`re usually their 20s and 30s. This terrible dad who`s in -- he`s in his 30s. I mean, how dare they say that?

LANHAM: I know. And my -- my sister, Angelina, was actually about 20 years younger than I was. My father had her when he was 53, I think. And that`s how old I was when I was fighting for custody for him. But that`s what I was told.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me ask you this. You are the sister of the mother of the boy now on trial. Yes.

LANHAM: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And she, with all due respect -- and I`m a recovering alcoholic with 18 years of sobriety, so this is -- I`m not saying this to embarrass you -- but she did reportedly die of a drug overdose. When she died, was she with this man, this Josh Gouker, this con? Or...

LANHAM: No. He was...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He was behind bars?

LANHAM: He was in prison. Yes, he was still in prison.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: When they were together, though, at one point obviously, because they had a child together, this boy who is now on trial. Was he a bad influence on your sister, this...

LANHAM: From things that I have heard -- from things that I have heard that he did to my sister, that I find out now, he was very abusive to my sister. Very manipulative.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So why -- did he -- was he physical? Was he physical with her?

LANHAM: Yes, yes. He told somebody at one time that he locked her in the trunk of a car and forgot about her. And when he finally remembered her, her lips were turning blue, and he just -- he thought it was the funniest thing in the world.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s a sadist.

LANHAM: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He beat the family dog to death with a bat, according to court documents.

LANHAM: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s alleged. He killed the family cat.

LANHAM: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And now he has admitted to killing, murdering his stepson, because he was upset that the stepson`s mom had got an abortion with the child that he had conceived with her. And somehow...

LANHAM: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... this is the same person that, when he gets out of prison, social services gives your nephew to him?

LANHAM: Yes. And I still kept contact with Josh after he -- he was released to his father. And when he was around his father, he wasn`t the Joshua -- the Joshua that I knew. He was very reserved. I couldn`t even go to his house unless he got permission from his father.

It just -- it was so weird to me, because you know, I would call him and say I was going to take him to buy a pair of tennis shoes, and he had to get clearance from his father before I could even just ride by the house and give him money to go buy his tennis shoes. I couldn`t even show up without him asking his father if it was OK.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, men who have no power often become dictators in their own household. We all know that.

LANHAM: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s the thing. The boy, who is now on trial, your nephew, has been quoted as saying, despite everything we`ve just discussed, quote, "I love my dad more than anybody in the world. My life is much better with my dad." That breaks my heart.

LANHAM: And that...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead.

LANHAM: That was before he knew his mother -- I mean, I`m sorry. That was before he knew his father murdered his stepbrother. And he was. His father -- his mother had passed away. You know, he wanted to be with his father. He wanted to be with his family. That was the main thing he wanted was to be with his family.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why on earth do you do you think...

LANHAM: Just like I would want to be.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, we all know that. You know, blood is thicker than water, as the old cliche goes. But why do you think prosecutors are so intent on trying your nephew, who looks like a baby, as an adult and trying to send him away to prison for life? Why do you think the prosecution wants to nail this kid when they`ve already got the dad?

LANHAM: Because I think they made a big mistake and they don`t want to admit it. And if you get all the discovery and you see how this whole case has been investigated, you would understand more about what I`m talking about. If you had the discovery, you would know the way the -- the investigators have handled it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, if you would...

LANHAM: And I think they`ve made a big mistake.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If you wouldn`t mind hanging on, we`re going to take a break. We`re going to be back with you. We also have a panel. So let`s just take a break. We`re just getting started, and we`re taking your calls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOUKER: I didn`t plan on killing Trey for nothing. That`s what we wanted them to think, that Josh did it, because he`s a juvenile.

I said, "Josh, if they catch us, you just play crazy. You know? You`re a minor."

He didn`t have anything to do with it. Josh loves me. I let him down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAMPBELL: Josh Gouker has admitted to killing my son. Josh Gouker, he`s admitted to that. He also killed our pet. My innocent son and our innocent pet. Little pets and children. He doesn`t deserve pity; he doesn`t deserve mercy. He leaves nothing but a path of destruction. He`s a worthless person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s a monster, according to his own relatives.

Straight out to the Lion`s Den. First of all, should social services be on trial for giving this impressionable young boy back to his ex-con father, who had a history of violence and who proceeded to steep them in drugs and inappropriate sexuality, Ashley Merchant?

MERCHANT: I want to know where social services was. I want to know where parole was. This man was on parole. Why weren`t they going out doing home checks? Why weren`t they drug testing him?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right.

MERCHANT: Why weren`t they checking to see about this porn that he has in his house? That`s all illegal when you`re on parole.

LIEBERMAN: I disagree.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Social services dropped the ball. The parole department dropped the ball.

LEIBERMAN: But let`s be fair. Let`s be fair, Jane. Look, I don`t agree that he should have been back in that household. But they did a number of supervised visits. They did a number of different assessments.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, please.

LEIBERMAN: Look, and at the end of the day, social services always wants a child to be with their biological parent if there is one there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Maybe that`s the big problem.

(CROSSTALK)

LEIBERMAN: But I`m saying they did follow their process.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tanya Acker, maybe that`s the big problem. Oh, biology, the blood always wins. I mean, this guy...

ACKER: That is a big problem.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... didn`t become a monster yesterday. He was in jail for eight years. He has a history of violence. What were they thinking, to let this boy into his hands?

ACKER: I mean, the idea that reunification should always be the end game is just really not a good one, Jane.

And you know what`s interesting. We started this segment talking about how sort of crazy and maybe overreaching it is for the prosecutor to be going after this kid. You know, look, it`s not the prosecutor`s job to intervene and to see family problems and remedy them before they come to this. It is the problem of all the other social service agencies that were not there.

Now when push comes to shove and this kid is on trial for the rest of his life, everybody wants to know who dropped the ball before. Why wasn`t he being watched before this tragedy and the tragedy that this Gouker brings to him before it culminated in yet another death?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re not getting involved (ph).

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree.

ACKER: At this point, they are dropping the ball because they`re prosecuting him. He was a child when this was committed. He was 15 years old. He should have had social service intervention. He should have had juvenile justice, not go to adult jail. Not go to adult justice system. Someone...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Michelle Suskauer.

LEIBERMAN: In a lot of ways Josh Young is a miracle.

(CROSSTALK)

LEIBERMAN: I mean, in a lot of ways, Josh Young was a miracle. He hadn`t even been arrested prior to this.

SUSKAUER: OK, listen. The problem...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Go ahead.

SUSKAUER: The problem that we have -- look, it`s -- there is a variety of problems.

But first of all, in terms of social services, and you know this, Jane, from reviewing all these things, that they are overworked. They are underpaid. They don`t have necessarily the best vocal, and they`re not necessarily the best intentioned.

But in terms of charging this child as an adult, it depends on the state. I know down in Florida, it seems that we charge more children as an adult more than almost any other state. And that`s the problem: children are not adults. And this has to be looked at differently.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s the problem. We have reactive justice. We`ll spend millions prosecuting a kid, but God forbid you spend a couple of grand sending a social worker out to make sure he`s not being perverted by his demented dad.

This boy`s defense attorney says jurors might compare the manipulative-like traits in this case with the 1991 movie thriller "Cape Fear" about a convicted rapist who was released from prison and stalks the family of the lawyer who defended him. Check out this clip from "Cape Fear."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... assault third, escape in the second degree and federal misdemeanors. And this was for inflicting serious injury on a man after unlawfully detaining him and causing...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. You know what? I`m glad they didn`t show the clip from "Cape Fear." That was a movie I was too scared to watch. I said no, I`m not going to go see it, because I don`t like to watch movie violence.

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

CALLER: Well, hi, Jane and panel. My question, please, is first a quick comment. Now, OK, teenagers and children, they are born innocent like we all are. So my quick question is that, could it be that the father just went nuts and said, "Listen, I`ll kill you if you don`t help me kill him"? Meaning that he`ll kill the son and the stepson at once?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me go back to Linda Lanham, who is our exclusive guest tonight. It`s the young defendant`s aunt.

What do you think really happened?

LANHAM: I think what really happened -- I don`t think Joshua was there. I think this was all Gouker. I think he had the rage in him from Amanda aborting his child. He had already said he was going to get even. And I think he saw the opportunity, and he went for it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And so you`re talking about...

LANHAM: That`s what I think. I think he is -- I`m talking about Gouker.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. This guy, yes.

LANHAM: Yes. I don`t think my nephew had anything to do with it. Joshua liked Trey. They played basketball together. They were friends. I just don`t see my nephew being involved in this in any way.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Where`s the motive? More on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAMPBELL: Hardest thing I ever had to do was bury my 14-year-old son. No parent should ever have to feel that pain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOUKER: I don`t know, drinking, smoking weed. I`m my biggest enemy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That monster has already said, "Yes, I killed my stepson." But now his biological son, that kid over there, is on trial. The trial begins tomorrow with opening statements, and the dad is set to testify for the prosecution. Where`s the evidence against this boy? I really don`t see any.

Let`s go out to the phone lines. Michael, California, your question or thought? And I understand you have a question for the aunt who is joining us exclusively, the aunt of the young defendant. Michael?

CALLER: Yes, hi. I want to say first things first. My heart and condolences goes out to you and this family. I know your sister would be ashamed of her son being on trial right now. But my question is this: what will your sister say?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What? I didn`t hear that.

CALLER: I`m sorry. All right. First things first, Linda...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, all right. I got it. I got translation in my ear from a producer who can hear it better.

Linda Lanham, you are the aunt...

LANHAM: Yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... of the young defendant and the caller wanted to know what would your deceased sister have said about this entire sad saga?

LANHAM: If my deceased sister weren`t deceased, this wouldn`t have happened. My nephew would not have been with him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So what is the lesson there?

LANHAM: What is the lesson where?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, your -- your sister tragically died of a drug overdose, correct?

LANHAM: OK. The night my sister passed away, I was on the phone with her until 2 a.m. in the morning. It was Easter. We had made plans to meet and to have a family gathering on Easter. And she passed away sometime during the next five hours of when I had spoke [SIC] with her.

So if she died of a drug overdose, it was accidental. It was a mixture of something that she shouldn`t have mixed or something. It wasn`t that she was on drugs and took a bunch of drugs and killed herself or anything like that. She wouldn`t have made plans with me for Easter for an Easter egg hunt for the kids and all this if she had planned on not being here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, thank you for clarifying that.

LANHAM: If she was alive -- if she was alive, my nephew would not be going through this.

And what I think is I don`t think Joshua would sit in this place for two years, two years of his life and know something and not tell. If -- I think if he knew something, he would tell it to get out of there. I don`t think he would just sit there and know something and not tell it and not care about his own life.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think you make an excellent point, and frankly, everybody -- all the experts are asking what is the evidence against this youngster, aside from the fact that his father, who`s an admitted liar and a violent person and a killer said, oh, he did it and then took it back. Where`s the rest of the evidence? We`ll find out tomorrow.

Linda Lanham, thank you so much for joining us.

LANHAM: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I really appreciate you taking the time, ma`am. And I hope you come back.

LANHAM: Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to be covering this trial in depth. Opening statements tomorrow, and then the defendant`s dad could be taking the stand the day after tomorrow. So we`re all over it.

LANHAM: I will be there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, ma`am.

Up next, a doctor accused of killing his much younger wife with cyanide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was very happy, she was very relaxed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I read that she suddenly passed away, I just couldn`t believe it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A medical researcher charged with poisoning his wife with cyanide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was young. She was vibrant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was an overnight rush order --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- for cyanide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you won`t believe how police say he convinced her to eat it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was just so shocked to hear what happened to her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She talked about his wife in the past tense before she was even dead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This doesn`t happen. This is like somebody said, it`s like a movie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could this be the perfect crime?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He must have thought he was brilliant enough to get away with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Tonight, breaking news: a community stunned as a very well-respected doctor, a medical researcher who works in the lab is dragged back to Pittsburgh to face murder charges after cops say he poisoned his young, successful doctor wife by spiking her energy drink with (inaudible) cyanide.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were stunned. I mean she was young. She was vibrant. She has a young daughter. We were just stunned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Detectives say Dr. Robert Ferrante ordered half a pound of deadly cyanide on his company credit card and then tricked his wife, Autumn Klein who`s also a doctor, into drinking an energy drink laced with the deadly killer, telling her, "It`s going to help you with your fertility, honey."

The cops say text messages just hours before the doctor, Autumn, went into a coma, show her husband was encouraging her to drink creatine an energy supplement, but cops believe it was actually cyanide in its place. Autumn texted, "According to my calendar, I ovulate tomorrow." Her husband, the doctor, responded, quote, "Perfect timing -- creatine."

Dr. Ferrante told 911 he thought his wife was having a stroke, but then suspiciously, he didn`t want her rushed to a hospital at the trauma center. And then he desperately tried to convince the hospital to skip an autopsy and get her cremated ASAP. By the time the cops issued an arrest warrant for this doctor, well, he had to be hauled back to them (ph).

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ask you now if you believe you are the same Robert Joseph Ferrante named and described in this paper.

ROBERT FERRANTE, ACCUSED OF POISONING WIFE: Yes, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What do you think? Call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to "The Lion`s Den". Given all of the evidence against this Dr. Ferrante, is this an open and shut case? And let`s start with Tanya Acker.

TANYA ACKER, ATTORNEY: Yes. You know, I mean look, the only other thing they need, Jane, is it would be nice if there was a hidden camera that secretly caught him spiking the tea or the drink with cyanide. But short of that, I mean it seems pretty open and shut to me.

You know, he buys the cyanide on the company credit card. He tries to avoid an autopsy. I mean that in and of itself is suspicious. If you`re married to a 41-year-old who drops dead and you`re a doctor, you`re going to want to get to the bottom of that. I mean the fact that he was trying to avoid the autopsy that in and of itself is suspect without all the other evidence.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ashleigh Merchant.

(CROSSTALK)

ASHLEIGH MERCHANT, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That is not suspect at all. Anybody who has sat through an autopsy, or knows what an autopsy is about is never going to want a loved one to go through that. I can tell anybody in law enforcement, anybody in the medical profession who knows what goes on in an autopsy could not imagine letting someone they love go through that.

ACKER: She was 41.

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: : Yes. But here`s what`s interesting, Jane, you know, there`s actually a hero doctor in this story, as well. They tested the blood at first and a doctor noticed that there was a high level of acid, so he decided just on a hunch to test for cyanide. Had he not tested that for cyanide, because she was cremated, this would not be a murder case. There is a hero doctor in this story.

MICHELLE SUSKAUER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: But you know -- but you know --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Michelle Suskauer.

SUSKAUER: we have a one-sided presentation of evidence right now. Of course, the worst facts, the worst information is coming out. Now why is this doctor going to put -- first of all, a half a pound? You don`t need a half a pound of cyanide on a corporate credit card. I mean he`s either incredibly arrogant or there has to be another explanation. Do we need a half a pound of cyanide? And that`s a tremendous number, don`t you think?

LEIBERMAN: He thought he could cover his tracks.

(CROSSTALK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There was no grant associated with it. And unfortunately, a lot of animals are tortured to death in laboratories and they do use things like cyanide. But in this case, there was no grant. So why does he order this cyanide?

LEIBERMAN: Right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: For what apparent purpose?

Now look, the autopsy reveals Dr. Klein, that`s the female doctor, died from cyanide poisoning. It only takes the size of a baby aspirin to kill somebody with cyanide. Cops believe this Dr. Ferrante hid it in her creatine which is also a white powder. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will probably be a claim that he accidentally mixed up the cyanide with the creatine because they`re both white powders and that this is an accidental death.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Famed forensic scientist, Dr. Lawrence Kobilinsky joins us tonight. Dr. Kobi, it seems almost like something off of a TV movie. Really, you`re just going to get some cyanide and say "Here, honey, take this, it`s going to help you with (AUDIO GAPE) -- creatine.

DR. LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST (via telephone): Well, you know, cyanide is not a substance that is easily obtained. It`s true that there are certain industrial uses in fumigation and in the plastics industry, electroplating, synthetic rubbers, and of course, academics can get it because it`s used in research. But for the most part, it`s not a commonly used poison.

And when somebody is poisoned, there are some telltale symptoms. You have the smell of almonds from somebody`s breath. That`s a give away. And also the skin appears to be pinkish or cherry red -- very similar to carbon monoxide poisoning. And it`s not as if there are no symptoms from a poisoning.

The thing is, is that having her cremated after death does away with the evidence. And the only reason this case got broken is because of the blood sample that was kept behind to check to see if there was any possibility of some toxin in her blood stream.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well Dr. Kobi, yes. There was a hero doctor who said let`s test that blood. Get this, the doctor, the wife who is now dead, was prominent, popular with her patients. Not only was she the chief of women`s neurology at the University of Pittsburgh medical Center, but she was featured in a Discovery Channel report about women with epilepsy.

Check out this clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. AUTUMN KLEIN, NEUROLOGIST: Pre-conception counseling is incredibly important to women with epilepsy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Lion`s den. Lion`s denners -- is it possible that the husband was jealous of his wife who was becoming more successful? And I`ll throw that to one of the women, Ashleigh Merchant.

MERCHANT: Of course, it`s possible. But I don`t think that`s likely. This is a smart man. This is a doctor who would have planned this out better quite frankly if he did intend to kill his wife. He`s not going to order cyanide on a company credit card where there`s a paper trail. He works in a laboratory.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He allegedly did. All right. Let me throw in Michelle Suskauer.

SUSKAUER: I don`t think that that would really be because she was more successful. He`s a success in his own right in terms of his research. I believe on ALS. But wasn`t it that she may potentially have been having an affair that he discovered.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

SUSKAUER: Obviously that would be more of an incentive for him to go ahead and poison her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We don`t know that she was having an affair. All we know is that he accused her of having an affair right before she died.

On the other side -- thank you, panel -- the villains of "Real Housewives of New Jersey", and they`ve got some real, real problems.

That`s next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 19 times.

JOE GIUDICE, "REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY": Well, he`s got a huge forehead. He`s got no hair. He looks like the little guy from "Planet of the Apes".

He looks like your brother (ph)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is there to like about Richard (inaudible)? With his collar he brings up -- he`s got like shoulders this big.

TERESA GIUDICE, "REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY": I can`t control what comes out of my husband`s mouth. I mean Joe is Joe, you know. He likes to speak his mind.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This all kind of come to a head. 39 counts, mail and wire fraud, bank fraud, loan application fraud, bankruptcy fraud, failure to file tax returns.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a real life legal saga for two stars of Bravo`s "The Real Housewives of New Jersey".

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Serious federal charges that could land them behind bars.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A show like "The Real Housewives" is a show about rich people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news tonight, a real housewife in real trouble. And her new reality could be decades behind bars. She`s considered one of the more obnoxious cast mates in the "Real Housewives" series known for fighting with everybody. And tonight, she`s in a fight with Uncle Sam. You know, Teresa "It`s Never My Fault" Giudice from this table-tipping freakout on "Real Housewives of New Jersey".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

T. GIUDICE: You are (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, Teresa. Now you`ve got something to be mad about. Teresa and her husband Joe in court today charged with a slew -- we`re talking 39 counts -- of federal crimes that could land the mother and father of four precious children in the slammer for half a decade.

We`re learning Joe, who is from Italy, is not a U.S. citizen could be deported. The indictment says the couple lied to the IRS, the banks, the bankruptcy court several years ago. And they`re basically accused of keeping money in their pocket, despite being TV stars and basically telling Uncle Sam they`re making less than they really are.

Tonight I`m going to talk to a former "Real Housewife of New York" the one and only lovely Alex McCord. But first, straight out to RadarOnline`s Alexis Tereszcuk, what the heck is going on with this kooky couple?

ALEXIS TERESZCUK, RADARONLINE: Oh my gosh, Teresa and Joe are in so much trouble. We actually like to call him "Juicy Joe" in my office. Any way, they have been indicted on 39 counts of tax fraud and evasion, and it looks like these two could wind up behind bars. They are the most controversial couple on television.

Joe has been probably the worst husband out of all of them. He`s been accused, in fact caught cheating on his wife multiple times -- we`ve reported. He has called Teresa the worst names possible that I won`t even say on television. And now they`re in trouble in front of the law.

So they go to court today and of course they cannot even behave. I`m not sure if you saw the pictures, but Joe`s mother took a swipe at a cameraman. His father --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. We have it.

TERESZCUK: -- flipped the bird --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes.

TERESZCUK: -- flipped the bird and then he actually bent over and sort of showed off his backside to photographers, too. Yes, this is the family that --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Lovely. Lovely. We`re going to move on for a second here because people are looking at the story and saying does reality TV encourage people to live way beyond their means financially? Look at this lavish Christmas episode from Bravo, for example.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to say we`re being smart. We`re not going to spend all this crazy money on gifts.

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VELEZ-MITCHELL: Alex McCord, former cast member of "Real Housewives of New York", reality TV correspondent for CelebBuzz. Thanks you for joining us. It seems like on these reality shows, people are either breaking things or they`re opening new things. To me, it`s a gross example of materialism of our culture. Can these people get into financial trouble or is all of it covered?

ALEX MCCORD, REALITY TV CORRESPONDENT, CELEBBUZZ: No, absolutely they can get into financial trouble. The problem is that the whole "Real Housewives" franchise is about keeping up with the Jones. It`s a show about rich people. And the producers want to turn a great show in to their bosses and so they encourage people to go bigger, louder, faster, more expensive. They want you to throw the most lavish party you can possibly throw. I mean really except for the trips where all the girls go away together, everything else is on you as a cast mate. This is why you see so many bankruptcies, so many divorces and now we`re seeing federal charges.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And do you feel sorry for Teresa and Joe?

MCCORD: I do. I feel particularly sorry for Teresa. She and I have always had a nice relationship, and I just feel awful for her. I think that she`s a little stand by your man-ish. At the beginning, I`m sure that he just said "Here Honey, sign this". And she probably didn`t even know what she was signing. Later on, she probably didn`t want to know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, that`s probably why they reportedly have separate lawyers. I wonder how ugly this is going to get.

More on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They love their children, they love each other. They`re supporting each other and they`ll continue to do so. And as importantly, they really truly do love each other.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Time for Pet of the Day. Send your pet pics to hlntv.com/jane. Mali I want to go with you to Bali, oh my gosh, you`re stunning. And Jack -- well, simple, elegant, a classic look. I think it`s fabulous. Now, Traffic and Britney, they like to sit around and check out what`s going on. Maybe there`s a jitney out there Britney. And Dash, I pet you can dash. You`ve got that look in your eye like I`m out of here any second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM ZOLCIAK BERMANN, "REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ATLANTA": They always force people in essence to keep up with the Joneses. And what starts out as a reality turns into anything but reality on many occasions and this is a prime example.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Teresa and Joe seemed to have other problems beyond bankruptcy and IRS troubles. Joe accused of having an affair after this aired on "The Real Housewives of New Jersey".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

J. GIUDICE: Hey, what are you doing? Don`t even tell me that.

We`re actually celebrating Caroline`s 50th birthday over here.

Oh look here she comes, my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) wife. She`s such (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I ought to hang up, I want to talk to Mike or whatever.

T. GIUDICE: Who are you talking to?

J. GIUDICE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

T. GIUDICE: Why did you walk away?

J. GIUDICE: I wanted to talk to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) over there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Joe denies any infidelity but there`s been other -- so much other real life drama for "Real Housewives". We all know Beverly Hills cast mate Taylor Armstrong`s husband tragically committed suicide. Adrienne Maloof, one of many housewives getting divorce. Is there a reality TV show curse?

MCCORD: Yes. In a word, yes.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok.

MCCORD: Yes. I think that shows like these encourage people to act in ways they wouldn`t normally if they didn`t have cameras on them. And they want it so badly to be dramatic that people are a heightened sense of their reality. It`s so hard not to get sucked in.

And the thing is I don`t know where Teresa goes from here because Bravo when they pull other shows, when they get spin offs it`s for weddings and for babies. It`s not for sad stories. So I`m worried that now she can`t go out of the state area to do work promoting books and making appearances. Bravo is going to be the only income she has left.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s the least of her problems. Apparently she could go to jail for decades. I wouldn`t be worried about her visibility but I appreciate your concern and thank you so much for joining us Alex McCord.

More on the other side. Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Join me tomorrow night. Opening statements tomorrow for the boy accused of complicity to murder with his dad.

And Nancy Grace is up next.

We`ll see you tomorrow night 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Bye.

END