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Medical Marijuana in New Jersey; Kidnapped Teen Hannah Anderson Attends Fundraiser; Jackson's Ex-Wife Testifies; Young Girl Missing from Gas Station

Aired August 16, 2013 - 11:00   ET


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It is Friday August 16 and welcome to the LEGAL VIEW where we dig in to the day's top legal stories and the top stories in the news as well.

And we want to start with this one -- a desperate dad saying that marijuana may be the only thing that can save his two-year-old daughter's life. And he is pleading with his governor -- the only, the one and only New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He wants him to help by signing a bill that makes medical marijuana available to children, including his child. The governor has been thinking about it and he has promised to make a decision by today.

CNN's Rosa Flores looks at this emotional confrontation. And I do want to warn you that some of the images and scenes that you're about to see may be difficult to watch.


BRIAN WILSON, FATHER: I was wondering what the hold up is because it's been like two months now.


WILSON: This is very well documented.

CHRISTIE: These are complicated issues.

WILSON: Very simple issue.

CHRISTIE: I know you think it's simple.

WILSON: It is.

ROSE FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A heated exchange between New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and a concerned father over medical marijuana.

WILSON: Have you heard from our doctors?

CHRISTIE: I've read everything that's been put in front of me.

FLORES: Christie sitting on a medical marijuana bill passed by the state legislature bill about two months ago that Brian Wilson says could save his daughter's life. Two-year-old Vivian Wilson suffers from Dravet syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy with only about 500 reported cases. That's according to the National Institutes of Health.

Her family says she suffers 20 to 70 minor seizures every day, averaging major seizures like this one every four days.

WILSON: She has stopped breathing many times during seizures. She can also die of SUDEP, which is sudden unexplained death in epilepsy.

FLORES: She sleeps with a heart and oxygen monitor, wears an eye patch because certain patterns in the environment trigger more seizures.

Her dad says, she's been on temperature different drugs and a special diet, but nothing works.

Wilson wants to try a form of medical marijuana not available in New Jersey because he says he's seen it work in other children, although the American Academy of Pediatrics opposes cannabis.

WILSON: Current law only allows for the plant or a lozenge. We're looking for like an oil or butter, some sort of extract.

FLORES: Governor Christie says it's a complicated issue.

For the Wilsons, it's a matter of life or death.

WILSON: Please don't let my daughter die, Governor.

FLORES: An impassioned plea to a politician, father to father.

Rosa Flores, CNN, New York.


BANFIELD: Now, obviously, it is extremely difficult for little children to inhale any kind of marijuana as a treatment, and it's also very dangerous for little kids to ingest marijuana in a lozenge form. We almost never give little candies to kids who can choke on them.

So this is a bill that would actually allow access to different forms of the drug, like another kind of edible part of the drug, or an oil.

But the governor, Chris Christie, has expressed his concerning about this in the past. And in July, he said this, and I'm going to quote him.

"I am not going to turn New Jersey into Colorado and California. I'm not legalizing marijuana in New Jersey."

The Wilson family says that this type of medical marijuana that they want for their little Vivian doesn't actually get the child high.

In fact, the treatment isn't about the high or the THC that you would get in recreational marijuana. It's about the other properties that come in cannabis.

I want to bring in CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who -- what timing for this story, to have this on today, Sanjay, because you have been doing this incredible special report on the highs and lows of weed.

And, by the way, that does air tonight, again, at 10:00 Eastern.

But I wanted you to weigh in on little Vivian and connect it to the little girl in the piece that you've done, little Charlotte because they seem like identical cases.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Very similar cases, I mean, you're talking about young children who basically develop a form of epilepsy, or seizures pretty early on in life, for whom nothing works.

They try all these different medications. I know in Charlotte's case, and I had spoken to Brian Wilson yesterday as well, they have been on several different medications at a time. And a lot of these medications are very sedating.

I know in Charlotte's that these medications could be toxic. Her mother had to perform CPR on her as a result of the medications, not the seizures, a few times.

So it's -- a lot of medications, they don't necessarily work, and there's some real concerns about safety.

So they're very similar and I know in Charlotte's case, again, after trying all that and finally getting approval for an oil form of marijuana, to your point, it's like a tincture of marijuana that's high in CBD, which is the medicinal part, and low in THC, which is the psychoactive part, she went from 300 seizures a week to basically one a week, or three or so a month.

So it's pretty incredible, pretty remarkable.

BANFIELD: So, Sanjay, look, I think a lot of people watching would have mixed emotions about this.

They'd say, God, can't we try anything if it's proven to work when it comes to kids who could actually die from this kind of a condition, and that compared to other people who might say, dear God what is the proof that marijuana -- again, marijuana, works with children like this?

Do we have any kind of definitive proof?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I will preface by saying these studies are hard to do and they're hard to do with any medication. They're hard to do for adults and even harder to do for kids, so some of the science is hard to come by.

But let me tell you. First of all, marijuana as a term, it really is referring to cannabis, which is, you know, it's been thought of as a medicine, and there are all sorts of different strains.

So the idea of conjuring up the images reefer madness where people are smoking the stuff and maybe using a high THC. It's a totally different thing that what we're talking about with these kids.

They're not smoking it. It's a different strain that doesn't get them high. And I think that's important to point out again.

But I think if you look at Dravet's, which is what Brian Wilson's describing with his daughter Vivian, and what Charlotte had as well, you have now studies of about 41 kids in the states where it is legalized medically, marijuana is, who have all gotten some benefit from using this.

Now some have gotten more benefit than others, but there are kids like Charlotte who are off all of their other medications now.

I think a lot of this is certainly wanting more studies to be done, but I can tell you, Ashleigh, it's a whole other discussion. Just simply getting the science done in the United States is very hard to do for all sorts of different reasons.

So we'd love to see more studies on this, but I think with this particular condition that Brian's describing, there is some pretty good data, as he mentioned.

BANFIELD: Yeah. And I'll tell you I learned a lot, watching your documentary, "Weed," and I'm very glad that we're reporting additionally tonight.

Your program, "Weed," airs again tonight, 10:00 Eastern time. I encourage anybody who's watching this right now and has any questions to watch Sanjay's reporting.

Dr. Gupta, thank you very much -

GUPTA: Thank you.

BANFIELD: -- for joining.

By the way, I want to take you to a live event right now because out in Harrison, New Jersey, there he is. There's the governor, Chris Christie, who's at a public event right now.

Whether he will be asked by anyone else in the audience as he was previously, what are you going to do today about this bill that would give medical marijuana to kid remains to be seen. We'll keep watching it for you.

In the meantime, I want to bring in defense attorneys Danny Cevallos and, also, Jeff Gold, who's also a prosecutor as well.

There's so much to chew on when it comes to this. There is a lot of support for medical marijuana and there is a lot of dissent. And as Sanjay said, it's hard just to do the studies. Jeff Gold, as a former prosecutor and defense attorney, could we not rise above, when it comes to research, the fact that this is still a substance that the feds consider criminal, to do at least the research on it?

JEFFREY GOLD, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, that's right, and the New Jersey legislature and the governor have been at war over this really.

The bill was held up by the governor's regulations. He imposed additional regulations that the legislature didn't, which is what's going on right now.

A lot of politics, there's an election coming up in New Jersey. So in addition to the problem between the feds and the state, there's also a problem between the legislature and the governor and an election.

BANFIELD: OK, so here's a question and I'm sure that this would be extraordinary for the Wilsons right now.

They legally cannot use that form of cannabis that Charlotte is using and seeing so much success with. They can't do that here in the state of New Jersey.

Can they do it legally any other way? Can they get their hands on it and try this for their children any other way, Danny?

DANNY CEVALLOS: Well, not in New Jersey. That's the fascinating thing is that we're now getting that patchwork legal mess in all these several states.

And isn't America fascinating in that we take marijuana and we place it in Schedule I. That means the government thinks it has no medicinal value and a high potential for addiction.

Contrast that with alcohol which has a very high level of addiction and no medicinal value, and if you want that, it's not Schedule I. A 21-year-old bartender at Hooter's will give you all you want, any time.

America has a fascinating view of its drugs. Alcohol is in our history and traditions. It's legal.

But marijuana, because it doesn't appear -- and the Supreme Court has used that term, "history and traditions" -- because it appears in that -- it does not appear, marijuana is not part of that.

BANFIELD: I'll do you one better. I learned from Sanjay's report on weed, that the government holds a patent for actually doing medical research with marijuana at the same time saying it has none of those benefits.

So, hold those thoughts. Thank you both for that insight.

Danny Cevallos and Jeff Gold are going to stick around because we do have a lot more reporting and I do want to remind you, once again, that Sanjay Gupta has this special on the highs and lows of weed. You have to watch it for the story of Charlotte and Charlotte's web alone, 10:00 Eastern tonight, right here on CNN.

And also coming up this hour on the LEGAL VIEW, the first pictures of kidnapped teenager Hannah Anderson. We're going to take you to the fundraiser that was held for the family.

Plus back it up, shut up or pay up. Yeah, those would be the words of Judge Judy, and on her left there, that's the son, her right, our left.

He's a prosecutor and he is suing law enforcement for defamation. And she's weighing in in only the way she can.

And the family of missing teenager Alexis Murphy, angry, angry about the story that the suspect who's been arrested is telling police about their daughter. You won't believe what he's saying.

That's coming up and much more on this hour of the LEGAL VIEW. Stay with us.


BANFIELD: Welcome back to the LEGAL VIEW. I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

Hannah Anderson is trying to deal with the trauma of her kidnapping. This California teenager has now made her first public appearance since her rescue. It was for a fundraiser for her family that was held yesterday.

Her friends are talking and saying that Hannah is a very strong person and that they knew she would come back.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's really kind, and she's always that person to go to if you have any problems, and she'll help you out.

And she's always happy. Like, she didn't deserve this. She's just -- I don't know. She's an all-around good girl.

KYLAH HAYES, FRIEND OF HANNAH ANDERSON: She's really like an outstanding person. Like, she's always, like, putting others before her, and she's so smiley and, like, just cheerful and everything.


BANFIELD: CNN's Casey Wian has been reporting on this story and has a whole to add. Take a listen to this.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, Hannah Anderson looked perhaps a little scared as she hurried past maybe more than a dozen cameras, walking into that fundraiser. She did not say anything to reporters.

But, once inside, people who were there said she was much more comfortable at home with her neighbors and her peers. What she really wanted to do is thank everyone who has supported her during and after her ordeal.


WIAN: Hannah Anderson's arrival at a fundraiser came as a surprise to her family and friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This night was an unexpected reunion, honestly. All her friends were here. It was like we haven't skipped a beat.

WIAN: The media were invited to Boll Weevil restaurant in Lakeside, California, but weren't allowed inside during Anderson's reunion.

BRETT ANDERSON, HANNAH'S FATHER: Hannah sends her love. She's doing good, day by day, and we'll just keep moving forward from here.

WIAN: Wearing "Hannah Strong" and "Pray for Hannah" T-shirts, neighbors friends and the teenager's grandparents helped raise money for Anderson's mother and brother's funeral.

ANDERSON: I want to say, thank you all for coming. This is a small community that we're a part of, and the community came together and put on this great fundraiser for Hannah and hopefully her future and healing.

WIAN: What has it meant to this community to have to go through this ordeal?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's horrifying that that guy did what he did. It's just sickening to me and I just want to put them all to rest.

WIAN: The fundraising event drew a large crowd. Raffle ticket sales, cash donations and 20 percent of the restaurant sales all donated to the Anderson family.

ANDERSON: We have a lot of expenses in front of us and, right now, we're just looking to her future and getting here settled.

WIAN: A family hoping to help Hannah adjust after she was allegedly kidnapped by her father's best friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We keep hearing the term "Uncle Jim." He really was like a Uncle Jim to them.

WIAN: Meanwhile we're still learning new information about what police discovered at DiMaggio's burned down home. This newly released search warrant obtained by CNN affiliate KFMB said that police discovered a handwritten note and letters from Hannah that detectives say proves DiMaggio had control over that house.

Police also recovered incendiary devices leading them to believe the house fire was caused by human actions.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WIAN: Given what we have learned about her kidnapping, some of the items police recovered during that search, chilling. Empty boxes of camping gear. Empty boxes that once contained handcuffs and lots of ammunition. Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: Casey Wian reporting for us. Thank you for that. And also I want to remind you that this weekend you can watch Anderson Cooper's special report, "KIDNAPPED: THE RESCUE OF HANNAH ANDERSON." Starts tomorrow night at 6:30.

In Egypt, the Friday of anger has erupted into anger and violence. State-run television there is reporting Molotov cocktails and automatic gunfire can be heard at a police station in Cairo.

Supporters of the former president, Mohammad Morsy, had called for a national day of protests today. What they're protesting over is actually about what happened in earlier protests. A deadly crackdown on the pro-Morsy demonstrations that happened earlier this week.

Oprah Winfrey sat down with out Anderson Cooper to talk about a whole lot of topics. One, her new movie, but also the Trayvon Martin verdict and race in general. Have a listen.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It's interesting to me how people form different backgrounds see this. I mean I talked to a juror on the Trayvon Martin case who clearly did not understand or did not feel linked to Trayvon Martin, felt connected to George Zimmerman in a way but not to Trayvon Martin. And I wonder if she felt that race was not a part of this case at all. I'm just wondering --

OPRAH WINFREY, ACTOR: People feel that it's race (ph) because they don't call it race. That's not what they call it. They don't say , oh -- you know what I found too? A lot of people if they think they're not using the N-word themselves, they actually physically are not using the N-word themselves, and do not harbor ill will towards black people, it's not racist. But to me it's ridiculous to look at that case and not think that race was involved.


BANFIELD: Oprah's movie "The Butler" opens today, and you can also see that full interview with Oprah and Anderson at 11PM eastern. On Saturday night, it's right here on CNN.

When you see pictures like these of Prince and Paris and the little boy call Blanket Jackson, do you ever wonder what kind of family life they had? Being the son of Michael Jackson or the daughter? What were their family routines like? What about family pictures that sort of thing? You might be shocked to see some of the revelations that came out in a courtroom yesterday. You might be surprised just how much like you they are. Hear that story next.


BANFIELD: From celebrity court, welcome back to THE LEGAL VIEW, I'm Ashleigh Banfield.

We all know Michael Jackson as a famous pop star. I mean iconic Michael Jackson, but maybe not too many of us know him as a family man, a doting dad. I once interviewed his bodyguards who told me all of these stories about padding around his house in jammies, making pancakes for the kids, walking around in his slippers, and reading stories to his kids. A very different story than we usually hear. And his ex-wife actually appeared in court yesterday to tell a lot of those touching anecdotes, but also some troubling stuff too. CNN's Ted Rowlands has more in this report.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Ashleigh, Debbie Rowe was a fantastic witness. She was believable, she was emotional, breaking down several times. She was funny telling stories about living with Michael Jackson. What is unclear is which side did she actually help.


ROWLANDS: In a second day of testimony, Jackson's ex-wife Debbie Rowe mesmerized jurors talking about her life with the kind of pop, including his journey into addiction, which she said started after this horrific accident in 1984 that burned Michael Jackson's scalp.

But Rowe also talked about the good times. He wanted to be the best parent he could be, Rowe said, as photos of her and Jackson and their children were shown in court. This photo, she said, was taken when she picked Jackson up on her motorcycle from a movie set. He stayed in costume while she gave him a ride.

And Rowe broke down in tears while this concert video was played from 1996 in Munich, Germany. Munich is where Rowe testified she saw doctors administer doses of propofol to induce Jackson's sleep, the drug that eventually killed him. She said she told her boss, Jackson's dermatologist Arnie Klein, that she was worried that Jackson was addicted to propofol. AEG lawyers say that's why they called her as a witness.

MARTIN PUTNAM, AEG LIVE: I don't know how she couldn't do anything but help our case. She just let everyone know that the people in Michael's life were worried about his propofol use as early as the late 80's early 90's.

ROWLANDS: The most dramatic moment came when she was asked about how Jackson's death affected the children. She referred to Paris Jackson's recent suicide attempt saying, quote, "she's devastated, she tried to kill herself, she doesn't feel she has a life anymore."


ROWLANDS: And Ashleigh, clearly she did help AEG in that she established Mochael Jackson's drug use ans specifically his propofol use. But she also did what the Jackson family attorneys wanted, and this is continued to humanize Michael Jackson. She absolutely did that.

BANFIELD: Ted Rowlands, thank you for that. He's been doing such a great job covering a very long, long case. We'll continue to update you as those updates are warranted.

We have another story as well. Imagine if you had someone you knew, god forbid a family member, kidnapped. The family member of this adorable girl now has to listen to the guy who was arrested in her disappearance talking smack about her and not just a little. Going to find where this one falls in just a moment.


BANFIELD: So complete outrage from a missing teenager's family today. Alexis Murphy was last seen at a gas station in Virginia on August, 3. That was 13 days ago if you're counting. But her hair, at least a small part of it was found in a man's camper. That man, her alleged abductor, is Randy Taylor. And he was arrested. That's a picture of Randy Taylor.

His attorney is now saying quite a tale, actually, to the press that Mr. Taylor wanted to buy marijuana and says that Alexis said that she knew someone, could help him out. Says that Alexis and a mystery drug dealer went to his camper, but left in separate cars. Mr. Taylor claims that that guy was the last to see Alexis and not him.

Alexis' aunt has hold HLN's Jane Velez-Mitchell that this story simply doesn't add up.


ANGELA TAYLOR, ALEXIS MURPHY'S AUNT: Why didn't you call authorities on Monday when you saw her missing persons flyer hanging up and on the news. You had your opportunity. I can't imagine that this sick person being able to do this to another young girl, this -- it has to stop.


BANFIELD: You can imagine how this family is feeling, they're already suffering through having a missing child and loved one and now the story that she was going to help deal pot.

Joining me now is defense attorney Lisa Bloom, she's also a legal analyst for Lisa, this is not the firs time you and I have covered sotries where someone's arrested and then comes out with a story about mystery other guy. But how effective are these stories, or does it all come down to what this guy said when he's arrested before he lawyered up?

LISA BLOOM, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We call it the SODI defense, some other dude did it. And the story is really not plausible as that family member just pointed out. I heard other family members say this is a young woman, 17 years old, who was always on her phone, she was always texting and tweeting like so many teenagers do. Yet all of that activity stopped at the gas station when she met this man. It didn't continue. If she had met voluntarily with a man who brought her into the camper, she would have continued all that texting. She would have let somebody know. I'm going to this camper with this guys. Here's where I am. She'd be taking pictures. Even in some of the pictures we have of her, we see her using her phone. So I think that's a very good argument too.

Bottom line is this guy has to say something, he's not going to confess. Very few people do. This is his story, the question is whether the forensic evidence and everything we know about this young woman matches up with his story.

BANFIELD: But what about the actual ceiling of all of the warrants and the affidavits and everything else that might give us some kind of a clue as to what else has been said or done in this case?