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Does Family Member Know Where Isabel Celis Is?

Aired August 27, 2013 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Breaking news tonight. Is somebody in Isabel Celis`s family keeping a terrible secret that is stopping investigators from finding the precious girl who has been missing for a year and a half now?

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve had a young 6-year-old girl abducted from her home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody that we feel has a lot of information to give.

SERGIO CELIS, ISABEL`S FATHER: We love you. And we miss you so much.

REBECCA CELIS, ISABEL`S MOTHER (voice-over): No. I didn`t hear anything at all.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The parents say she was snatched from her bedroom.

R. CELIS: The person who`s going to bring Isa home is that angel that`s out there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One frantic, the other parent eerily calm.

R. CELIS: It`s a bad dream that I just can`t wake up from.

ALICIA STARDEVANT, MISSING GIRL`S NEIGHBOR: I remember briefly waking up and hearing male voices outside my bedroom window.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isabel was last seen in this home by her parents.

S. CELIS: We will never give up looking for you.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Isabel Celis, just 6 years old when she vanished from her family`s Arizona home in April of last year. Her father claims he tucked her in around 11 at night and fell asleep on the couch watching TV. He says he moved to his bedroom, where his wife was, at about 5 in the morning and by 8 a.m., little Isabel was gone.

Now on Isabel`s 8th birthday, her parents are pleading for a mystery family member to come forward with information. Listen to this.


S. CELIS: It`s frustrating to run against a wall of, you know, this person has an attorney, and they`re not going to let them speak a word. Protecting somebody that we feel has a lot of information to give.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Isabel`s parents clarified that they do not believe this mystery relative actually committed the crime of abduction, but they do believe that this individual has information that could find Isabel. But that this individual -- we don`t know who it is -- is protecting someone.

So who is protecting a kidnapper of their own relative? And for what reason? Police say they don`t have any suspects, but they haven`t ruled anybody out, and the investigation is ongoing.

A police report says one witness said a man who was staying with the family owed somebody a whole lot of money. And that`s why this beautiful young girl was taken.

Another witness alleged that Isabel was abducted because her own father owed money.

So what happened to this beautiful child, this happy child? Where is this precious little girl right now as we speak? This case fascinated the whole country.

Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. What do you want to know? 1-877-586-7297.

Tonight, in the Lion`s Den, we have a fantastic panel, including Nickelodeon`s "Instant Mom" star Sheryl Lee Ralph; Marc Klaas, president of Klaas Kids; and famed Judge Larry Seidlin.

But first, straight out to KGUN reporter Kevin Keene in Tucson.

Kevin, kudos for breaking this story. You interviewed the parents, Sergio and Becky, about this unidentified relative with information about their missing daughter. What have you learned?

KEVIN KEENE, REPORTER, KGUN: Well, the original story was that today is Isabel`s birthday; it`s her eighth birthday, the second birthday that she has gone through since she originally disappeared nearly 16 -- more than 16 months ago.

But during that conversation, we talked in general about the need for tips, that police and the family`s private investigators still need information, something to go off of. And in that discussion, they started talking about that particular family member whom you`ve talked about, one that they say has some kind of information but isn`t talking.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and they said that an attorney is protecting this individual, and this individual was not responsible for the crime but knows something. Did you get any sense of why they`re not saying who this person is?

KEENE: Well, what they tell me is that they still want this person to come forward, to agree to answer questions, whether it`s by public investigators, by the police or by the family`s private investigator. And they wanted to apply some kind of public pressure to let the world know that there is something out there who isn`t talking.

But they didn`t want to name this personal in particular, they say, because it would jeopardize the case; it might make this person go further away from talking to investigators, and they still want those answers.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Something -- thank you for that report. Stand by, because we have other questions for you. But something about this doesn`t add up.

Let`s go to our Lion`s Den filled with experts. And I`ve got to start with Marc Klaas, founder Klaas Kids Foundation. It doesn`t make sense to me. It`s been 16 long months. OK?

Marc, the time for this kind of hinting is over. Now is the time to lay all the cards on the table and say, "Hey, you know who you are, and here`s your name. We`re going to tell everybody who you are, because you need to provide information" or not say anything. But this teasing of us, I find it odd.

MARC KLAAS, FOUNDER KLAAS KIDS FOUNDATION: I couldn`t agree more, Jane. I think if this were me in this situation -- and you know that I`ve been in a situation of my own -- I would have given up anybody at any time to get my child back. Nothing would have stood between me and solving this case, particularly 16 or 18 months of just hanging out and not doing anything.

If they know somebody in this family that has information, that can blow this case open, they need to turn that information over to the police, so that they can launch -- or so that they can instill it into their -- into their investigation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, Isabel`s father, Sergio Celis, is aware that some people have suggested that he might somehow be involved. To those people he says flat out, "You`re wrong."

But let`s go back to the beginning. Listen to him talking to the 911 operator on the very morning after he discovered Isabel was abducted. Some say his tone is odd. He appears to even crack a joke. Listen to this.


S. CELIS: Hello, I need to report a missing child. I believe she was abducted from my house.


S. CELIS: Six years old.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it your daughter?

S. CELIS: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why do you think she was abducted?

S. CELIS: I have no idea. We woke up this morning. I went to go get her up for her baseball game, and she`s gone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is mom there also?

S. CELIS: She had just left for work. I just called her, and I told her to get her butt home. (CHUCKLES)


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Heh-heh, did you hear that? Let`s go straight out to the Lion`s Den. Jon Leiberman, investigative journalist, the chuckle, what a bizarre moment. And he sounds so eerily calm. What do you make of it?

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, well, look, it was bizarre, but every parent in this situation acts differently.

What is bizarre, as Marc pointed out, was the way that the family is now communicating about this other person. It`s clearly meant to do one of three things. It`s meant to send a message to this person, to put pressure on this person; or it could be to create a smoke screen and protect the father even more by suggesting that there is this mystery person out there with information.

That said, Jane, my police sources since the beginning in this case have said they believe that this abductor is close to the family, is somewhere close to the inner circle of this family. And it`s not a complete stranger abduction. If those sources are right in what they are telling me and what they believe, then it does speak to the fact that there could be some credibility that there is somebody in this family that knows more than they`re saying. And now is the time for them to come forward and tell police what they know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sheryl Lee Ralph, you are an actress. So I presume you can tell when people are acting. Listen. You just heard the dad. What did you make of his reaction?

SHERYL LEE RALPH, ACTRESS: You know something? It`s very hard, because like you`ve heard it said, different people react differently. And once again, we`re speculating about so many things.

But there is one thing we do know: that that child is still missing. She was taken from her bed. She is gone, and today is her birthday.

Somebody knows something, because we all know in all of these cases, somebody knows exactly what happened to that little girl. But the pain that her mother, her family, her father is experiencing today because this child is missing, there is no closure, and until there is closure, the pain carries on. And it is awful to look at that beautiful, bright face and know that she is just gone. Anything could be happening or happened to that child. And it`s awful.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s the ultimate torture. The ultimate torture not to know.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And some saying it`s worse than learning that your precious child has died, because your mind goes wild and you think horrible thoughts. You think what could be happening, and the imagination is often worse than the reality.

Selin Darkalstanian, senior producer of our show, you reached out to the cops. I would think that, if there was, indeed, this individual who knew all this stuff and wasn`t talking, that the cops would at least confirm it?

SELIN DARKALSTANIAN, HLN PRODUCER: The cops have been tight-lipped on this case from the beginning, Jane. I was down there in Tucson. We were outside the home. If you remember about a year and a half ago when she first went missing, the cops, what they were doing was they were suspicious of the family. They were taking the mom in individually, questioning her. And we were staked outside the house. We were watching this house. And they took the mom inside. They questioned her. They brought her out. They took her away.

Then they came back in with the dad. They went inside, questioned him, took him away.

And then they brought Isabel`s two older brothers and they took them into the house. So they were questioning each family member alone to try to see what they could get out of them.

But throughout the entire investigation, the cops would not tell us anything. I just e-mailed them and called them again, and we have not heard anything back. So who knows what the cops know and what they -- what they don`t know about this guy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to go back to reporter Kevin Keene, who is on the scene there in Tucson for KGUN. Remember that shortly after the child went missing, a court ordered her dad not to see his two older sons. That went on for several weeks. And eventually he said, never mind, you can all come back together and live as a family again. What was that all about?

KEENE: That is one thing where we weren`t able to ask specific questions of the Child Protective Services agency, the state agency that`s in charge of those kinds of things. And also, with Tucson police, it`s just a private matter that wouldn`t normally be in the public. It wasn`t in this particular case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you this. Let me jump in, Kevin. When you -- did you ask -- I`ve always said the Celises -- I`ve heard somebody say "Celeese," but I`ve said the Celises. Did they answer everything, or did they say, "I`m only going to talk about this." Or "I`m only going to talk about this."

For example, the reports from -- right from the get-go when this child disappeared showed that detectives saw apparent blood on the floor of the child`s bedroom. And they took into custody a white hat, vinyl curtains that had dark red brown or brown stains and were found in a car located outside the family`s home.

Now obviously, a long time has passed. The cops have got to know whether or not that`s Isabel`s blood. Did you -- did you talk to them about any of that?

KEENE: Not in this particular case, just a few days ago when I sat down with them. Although right now -- in the early days they did want to just focus the efforts on getting the word out, getting her face out so that people could bring in tips. Although in my experience, the more...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But you know what?

KEENE: ... if you ask them a question, they can answer it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Listen, I have compassion for this family. For all we know, it was a stranger abduction. But answer every question. And don`t say, "We want to focus." That is how you focus on finding the child, by looking at the details of the case.

If somebody asked you, "Well, what is that blood from?" OK, if I find blood in my apartment and somebody comes up to me and says, "Where did that blood from -- come from?" I`d be able to answer them.

I`d say, "Well, you know, I cut my thing. I was slicing vegetables and I cut my finger." I would have an answer. But if I turn around and say, "Well, you know what? I just really want to focus on the investigation," that doesn`t make sense to me.

We`re going to talk more about this on the other side of the break. We`re just getting started. The phone calls are lining up, and we`ve got the experts to try to find out where is this child? Who knows something?


R. CELIS: The person who`s going to bring Isabel home is that angel that`s out there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isabel Celis`s family waits for an angel. On her eighth birthday, they pray for the return of their daughter, missing since April of 2012.

R. CELIS: We are here today to beg, to plea for the safe return of our baby girl, Isabel.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sergio tells police he fell asleep on the couch in the family room before joining Rebecca in bed at 5 a.m. the morning she disappeared. He tells police the window was closed the last time he saw Isabel.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow, there are a few clues that police have been investigating in their efforts to find this precious child who`s been missing now for a year and a half. And as you know, the parents now are speaking out, say that there`s a relative that they won`t name and who knows more than he`s saying, being protected by a lawyer. He didn`t commit the crime himself or herself but knows what happened or knows more.

Now, remember, this bedroom where she vanished from, there were neighbors who lived right in the area, and they heard something in the dead of night or maybe actually in the dawn of the next morning. Listen to this, and then we`re going to talk to a neighbor.


STARDEVANT: My dog, she woke me up. She`s very skeptical of people, and when she heard voices, she started barking. And that woke me up and that`s when I noticed the male voices, multiple male voices, and I noticed that the Celises` dogs were going crazy. They bark a lot, but this was a different type of barking. This was a very, very frantic barking.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are very delighted to have with us tonight Alicia Stardevant, the neighbor. I believe it`s the neighbor you just heard from, just now, speaking. And she heard the dogs barking. Alicia, tell us again about what you heard and exactly when so we can get a sense and try to incorporate it into the new information we`re getting tonight.

STARDEVANT (via phone): Sure. It was about 6:30 in the morning, and my dog was -- you just heard on the sound bite -- was barking. She woke me up, and I noticed that there were a couple of male voices outside of my bedroom, which is right across from Isabel`s bedroom. But it was early in the morning; it was kind of light outside, so I didn`t really think anything about it. And I just -- I ended up going back to bed. I didn`t check on anything.

Then I was woken up about 8 a.m. by her uncle knocking on my door, asking if I`d seen her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. The uncle. So this is somebody that we have not mentioned up till this point. Did this uncle live with the family or was he called by the family? Does he live in the neighborhood or maybe in the same county and "Hey, help us find her?"

STARDEVANT: Yes, I`m pretty sure that he wasn`t living with them. He was called over by Sergio, I believe, in the morning to help find Isabel.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So let`s go back to the night Isabel disappeared. And we`re going to go through the timeline now with our viewers. Here`s what her parents say happened.

Isabel`s parents told cops she went to sleep at 11 in the evening in her own room. Her dad, Sergio, says he fell asleep watching TV on the living room couch, which is very close to Isabel`s room.

Sergio says he moved back into his bedroom at about 5 in the morning, his real bedroom. Neighbors say the family`s dog started barking like crazy at 6:30 in the morning.

7 a.m., Isabel`s mom leaves for her job as a nurse and tells cops she did not check on Isabel before leaving.

Then 8 a.m., Isabel`s dad says he goes into his daughter`s room, and she`s gone.

All right. So no screams heard that night, but while -- while Alicia stands by, let`s go back out to the Lion`s Den. I`ve got to bring in Judge Larry Seidlin.

You just heard the timeline. You`ve heard what the father said. Put it together for us. What are you -- what are you thinking at this point?

LARRY SEIDLIN, JUDGE: I`m thinking this. The statistics show that, in the vast majority of these cases, there`s a relationship between the victim, the child, and the suspect. And we`ve seen time and time again, unfortunately, it`s an inside job. It`s either a family member or -- or a parent or a friend that`s involved in this case. It`s...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But let me say this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Marc Klaas, your tragedy, and my heart always goes out to you. Your precious daughter, if I remember correctly, was -- it was a stranger abduction from a sleepover that she was having with friends at her mother`s house? Is that correct?

KLAAS: That`s correct. And let me just say, Jane, just to support the judge, her -- Polly`s bedroom was accessible. It was right off of the driveway, and anybody could walk by that bedroom. And if they were lurking, they would be able to determine that little girls were in there.

It`s very different in Isabel`s case. Her bedroom almost butts up against a very high wall. It`s almost like whoever went into that bedroom to take that child had to know the layout of that house and had to know specifically that it was the little girl`s room.

And also the father is -- I think I have to believe this man, simply because fathers who are guilty try to put the case behind them as quickly as possible. It`s almost like going into denial. They pretend like nothing has happened and they want to move on with their lives.

This guy is not letting this thing rest.


KLAAS: He wants to find his daughter, and he`s being vocal about it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: J. Wyndal Gordon, your thoughts?

J. WYNDAL GORDON, ATTORNEY: I also think the child was abducted by someone she knew, because the child would have screamed. It`s 5 a.m. in the morning, and some unknown stranger is banging on the window? Or I think that they coaxed the child into opening the window so they could grab her out and told her to be quiet.

This is definitely someone that the child knew. And I do believe that that brother, if he`s not responsible, maybe it`s one of his close family members or friends who are responsible for it. But I definitely believe that, if he actually exists, and I believe he does, this relative, because he has an attorney, that he knows a lot more. He`s -- they`re doing right to look at him as -- as a person of interest with information.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side of the break, what I want to know - - and we`re going to answer your calls -- is why isn`t the police moving in on this guy? Why can`t they get him for a speeding ticket and lock him up? I mean, there are ways.

More on the other side.


R. CELIS: I know in my heart she`s -- she`s somewhere out there. Just -- just taking longer than I was hoping.




S. CELIS: Frustrating to run against a wall of, you know. This person has an attorney, and they`re not going to let them speak a word. Protecting somebody that we feel has a lot of information to give.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: One of the most bizarre parts of this case is that the father of the missing child, Sergio Celis, utterly calm when he`s calling 911 to report her missing. But then, five days later, he is hysterical, in tears, begging for her return. Watch and listen, and we`ll analyze.


S. CELIS: Please, please, to the person or persons who have Isabel, tell us your demands. Tell us what you want. We will do anything for her.

We`re looking -- we`re looking for you, Isa. We love you, and we miss you so much. And we will never give up. We will never give up looking for you.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Such pain, and he hasn`t given up. A year and a half later, he`s now speaking to the media, saying a relative knows something but has hired a lawyer and is not talking.

I want to go back to the Alicia Stardevant. You were the neighbor at the time that this tragedy occurred, this abduction. Tell us your impressions of this dad, Sergio. We`ve heard people say not so nice things about him. We`ve heard people say wonderful things about him, that he sings opera, that he`s a good family man. What was your gut feeling?

STARDEVANT: Well, I never really got to know the family. It was always just in passing, you know, a wave or whatever.

I did notice, though, after she was taken that he was very cold. I remember one time I lived there for another six months and I ended up moving out. And one of my dogs got out, and their older son was helping me try and catch him. And Sergio saw that I was talking to the son, and he whistled to his kid; and his son just stopped talking to me and just went right back in the house.

So I mean, it just kind of seemed like a different vibe, just very cold, not really friendly afterwards. So I don`t know. They seemed fine before everything happened. They seemed a genuinely nice family. Just kind of quiet and kept to themselves, but they were nice.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what does that tell you, Jon Leiberman, investigative journalist?

LEIBERMAN: Well, what it tells me is it speaks volumes. Because keep in mind, too, the police have not publicly come out and ruled out the parents either. And that`s extremely important.

My guess is that the police are not thrilled that Mr. Celis has come out and now mentioned this other person, as well. Because if police were looking at him or if they hadn`t yet gotten to question him, although I`m sure police have already questioned this guy.

The relationship between law enforcement and the family has not been very good since the start. And it does speak volumes to the fact that the police haven`t publicly come out and said the parents are not suspects.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Lisa, Canada.

GORDON: There is a need to protect your family, as well. I mean, everyone is a suspect, according to the police, or no one is ruled out. So you really don`t want your family members talking to people and maybe -- people are going to obviously ask you about this situation. So it`s important that you keep your family close and be sort of tight-lipped about this situation until it can get resolved.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I hate to say it, Sheryl Lee Ralph. Unless you`re afraid that one of the sons, who was there that night, knows something, you don`t want the son blabbing -- he`s a kid -- to a neighbor.

RALPH: Absolutely. And what you just heard is very important, because whether you are guilty or innocent, while this investigation is going on, everybody is under a great deal of pressure. Yes, you are innocent until proven guilty, but they`re going to do everything possible to find out who knows what. And if you don`t know, or you know, keep your mouth shut.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: On the other side of the break, what are the police doing? Is this a cold case? Do they know something? Why haven`t they revealed the results of the blood analysis? The apparent blood found in the home? That was a year and a half ago. Stay right there.


S. CELIS: We just want her home. We want our baby home, and we want this nightmare over.




SERGIO CELIS, FATHER OF ISABEL CELIS: Please, please, to the person or persons who have Isabel, tell us your demands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not ruling out anything in this investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s just not a possibility if you knew this family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The family are being treated as victims. Their child is missing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s just no possible way the family would have anything to do with this.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news tonight. The parents of little Isabel Celis, who has been missing for a year and a half, have told a local reporter in Tucson, Arizona that one of their relatives, they won`t say who, knows something but isn`t talking. Something that could help find their child and that that relative has lawyered up somehow.

Now the police aren`t responding to that at all. They say nobody has been ruled out. Isabel`s mom, admits when her daughter vanished, she left for work she didn`t check on her daughter before she left the house to go to her nursing job at around 7:00 that morning. But here is part of her desperate 911 call when she realizes her daughter is missing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ok. Have you looked everywhere, under the bed, the closets, everything?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I looked everywhere. (inaudible) I even checked the windows out of our house. Somebody took the window out of our house.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re almost there ma`am, ok?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where is your husband and your kids?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re outside waiting for the cops.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: J. Wyndal Gordon, so different from the father`s 911 call -- is that a gender thing, you think?

J. Wyndal Gordon, criminal defense attorney: Well, I always am hesitant to render an opinion about how people grieve over their loved ones. I mean it`s very self-righteous of me to impose the way I would react to the loss of a loved one on someone else. So I don`t really judge them based upon that. They seem sincere. They seem like a credible couple. And I really do hope for the best with regard to their child. But I do feel --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, it`s interesting that they stayed together, because a lot of couples split up under this kind of stress. But they`re two individuals. They`re not necessarily completely aware of all the same things even though they are acting as a team.

Sheryl, you wanted to say something?

SHERYL LEE RALPH, TV PERSONALITY: You know, it`s like you just said and you just heard, who am I to say how people should react? But it is very interesting that they have managed to stay together, because usually when something like this happens, it`s something that will drive people -- couples apart from each other. And we do see that they are managing to hold it together.

So, you know, on her birthday, as a mother, you know, all I can say is, God, I hope that their child comes back safe and at least gets to see her mother again, that we don`t have another birthday that goes by that she`s not at home, that as a mother I pray for the safe return of the child.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s go out to the phone lines. Lisa, Canada -- you have been waiting such a long time -- your question or thought, Lisa, Canada?

LISA, CANADA (via telephone): First, can I say, please, thank you for everything you do for victims and their families, of course.


LISA: Now, my quick question is that whenever we hear Sergio, the father calling 911 or another police force, why does he always sound so calm, cool and collected, please?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think that`s what we`re talking about. Marc Klaas, I mean you have led the nation in solving these missing children cases. Let`s put it all together.

We have Alicia (inaudible), on the phone, she`s a neighbor who said the dog started barking like crazy, and she heard male voices around dawn the day this child disappeared. You have blood -- apparent blood, excuse me, apparent blood -- very different -- apparent blood on the floor of the bedroom. Nobody has come forth -- the police haven`t come forth and said anything about that. And there was something else in the research that I saw, FBI canine dogs hit on items around the home.

According to some of the early reports, the Tucson police chief Roberto Villasenor said that specialized canines were flown in to help find the child and the dogs, quote, "did alert on some things that caused us to go back", end quote, to the house. What do you make of it?

MARC KLAAS, FATHER OF POLLY KLAAS: Well, I`ll tell you what, first of all, I would like to make a correction. Most families do not break up in kidnap situations. I think you would be hard pressed to even come up with one that did.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. All right. Good.

KLAAS: I think that they`re making a terrible miscalculation here if they think that family secrets should take precedence over finding this little girl.

GORDON: But I do want to make one point.


GORDON: I don`t think it`s a nefarious move on behalf of that cousin -- being a lawyer myself -- to lawyer up as they say. I mean your words can be misconstrued and I`ve always said even the truth, when it`s not well defended, can cause you to lose a case very badly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Judge Seidlin.

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Somebody in the family --


GORDON: So in defense of lawyers all across this country, it is nothing bad or nefarious about paying a lawyer when you`re being looked at.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: J. Wyndal, there`s a child missing.

LEIBERMAN: But if somebody in that family knows something, they need to come forward. I mean come on now.

GORDON: They can come forward, but it`s all right to have the lawyer with them to ensure --

LEIBERMAN: Fin, yes, bring your lawyer in. Tell them what you know.

GORDON: -- that they are being treated fairly and, you know, and reasonably.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Judge Seidlin, I thought it was fascinating that somebody said that somebody owes somebody money. And I think that that is a very important clue. I don`t know who owed anybody money, but those male voices that the neighbor heard, I bet you those are the people owed money to, or they knew the people that were owed money to. That is my theory. I have no proof.

But does anybody -- Judge, what do you think?


LARRY SEIDLIN, PRESIDED OVER ANNA NICOLE SMITH CASE: I think money obviously is a root of all evil. God gives you the gift of children, and you`re entrusted to protect them. You have to know who is coming in your home. You must protect your children at all times. And that`s the duty of a parent, to protect and safeguard a child.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: When you owe somebody a lot of money, and that person isn`t a bank, you can be in a lot of trouble.

We`re staying on top of this.

Up next, a baby shot to death in front of his mother -- unbelievable horror. She is now re-living it on the witness stand in court, and somebody is trying to put her on trial.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What really enraged me about this case was that there`s only one person left to tell the story and that`s Jodi Arias. And through her lies and through her manipulation, she basically assassinated this man a second time, assassinating his character the second time around. Accusing him of something so outrageous, so outlandish without any actual basis, and it was horrifying. She painted him as a pedophile.

I can tell you as a journalist, he`s not a pedophile -- he was not a pedophile. It`s all made up, but she was allowed to get on the witness stand with Travis Alexander`s grieving siblings, sitting just a few feet away from her and spew this garbage about him. It was infuriating and it actually enraged the nation. Jodi Arias tried to make Travis Alexander the person on trial. She tried to make herself the victim.

In this book, we outline precisely why Travis is the victim and she is the villain. It`s really her demonic behavior in trying to turn him into the monster that makes her the true monster.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brunswick 911, where`s your emergency

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Emergency, a woman`s baby has been hit in the head or shot.

SHERRY WEST, BABY`S MOTHER: He walked over and shot my baby.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her baby has been hit in the head or shot?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shot, I can`t tell. She`s screaming now.

WEST: And I had to watch him die. And I want that boy to die.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news. Tonight, a distraught mother takes the stand and comes face to face with the teen she says shot and killed her precious son, a baby -- only a year old, by shooting him between the eyes, shooting him dead. But now this mother has become the target of an ugly defense tactic, and it`s called "blaming the victim". We`ve all heard about that tactic.

This mom, Sherry West, claims she was just strolling her 13-month-old son down the street when she was approached by two young punks who tried to mug her. Here she is re-enacting that very traumatic experience. She said she told the kid she didn`t have any money and that`s when the experience then turned deadly.

Listen to this grieving mother`s heart wrenching testimony from just minutes ago.


WEST: He walked over and shot my baby.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see him shoot your baby?

WEST: Yes. I tried to stop him. I put my arms over my baby, but he still shot him.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is the beautiful baby boy, the victim of this unimaginable crime. And this is the young man on trial, 18-year-old De`Marquise Elkins. He has pleaded not guilty and now the defense team is trying to put the dead baby`s mother on trial, claiming she`s the real killer, saying she took out an insurance policy on her own child and she tried to cash it right away after the child died, calling her a drug addict, calling her all sorts of things. Will that tactic backfire?

Straight out to "The Lion`s Den" -- listen, this is a trend in defense work. We saw it with Casey Anthony. She threw her dad under the bus. We saw it with Jodi Arias. She tried to make victim Travis Alexander the demon and the pedophile -- all these things that weren`t true. And now we`re seeing this tactic in this trial but against a mother who has lost a child.

Let me say, J. Wyndal Gordon, I want to get your take on this.

GORDON: I know it. I know it. This case keeps me on the edge of my seat, and it does so because there is a lot of other evidence that will come out, I expect during the defense`s case. One of the things that bothers me the most about this case is the gunshot residue on her hands and on the baby`s father`s hands. But something terrible happened to that child. Everybody feels for that child. Do they have the right person? I`m not 100 percent absolutely sure.

They have a 14-year-old`s testimony connecting this 18-year-old to this crime. And this 14-year-old can be --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: J. Wyndal Gordon, the mother of the defendant took police to the pond where the gun was thrown.

GORDON: I remember seeing that --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How would the mother of the defendant --


GORDON: It`s a .22. I mean how many .22s are flooding the streets of Brunswick or anywhere?

LEIBERMAN: Oh, but come on. Not in that pond.

GORDON: So we have -- look, I`m willing to wait and see. And call it the defense attorney in me, I`m not 100 percent sold on this case. I want to hear the entire case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. Jon Leiberman, I would like to hear your take for a second Jon.

LEIBERMAN: Well look, first of all, you feel for the mother. I mean when she`s sobbing on the stand, that tugs at the heart strings. And obviously the defense attorney is going to try to pick apart her credibility.


GORDON: The case can`t be judged based upon --

LEIBERMAN: Obviously that`s what`s going to happen. I think it got taken too far today though when he`s trying to insinuate that she had all these money problems and that somehow she wanted to collect on this life insurance policy. She called to check on the life insurance policy, she didn`t call to collect on it. That`s a big point of distinction. There`s a lot of evidence in this case, including the gun, including defendant`s mother who led them to the gun. Including, you know, this co-defendant who has now flipped --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Including the fact that just ten days earlier, there was a witness who said ten days earlier this same young man held him up and shot him in the arm. He was a pastor.


GORDON: That testimony was put together to show, at least to suggest that if he did that, he must be guilty of something else.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, yes. It`s called a prior bad act.


GORDON: I do see that as a prior bad act so, you know, I have --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask Sheryl Lee Ralph to weigh in.

RALPH: Let me tell you something. In this case, that woman could have been a crackhead in the wrong place at the wrong time. She could have been a crackhead trying to do whatever, came up against a young man who was trying to do whatever and the two of them met at the wrong place or the right place or whatever at the wrong time -- whatever happened. But what we do know for sure is that baby is dead.

And in the court of justice, not the court of public all of that, we are going to find out what happened. Because I will never forget the woman who drove her children into a lake, killed her children, got out and said it was somebody else and they almost sent somebody else to jail because of something they had done a few days ago. So it`s a bad, bad situation but it could be worse.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me say this, the prosecution says they`ve got the right defendant on the witness stand and that the defense is spewing inflammatory falsehoods.

We`ll keep going on the other side.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you see in the courtroom today the man who shot and killed your baby Antonio Santiago?

WEST: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Point him out to us.

WEST: The young man in the blue.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Time for Pet of the Day. Send your pet pics to

Ellie May -- you made my day, Ellie May. And Chloe -- don`t you look like you`re in a night club. Get ready to dance the night away. Everybody in the club all eyes on her. Ruby and Lucy -- they say, "We`d like to go out too and do a little clubbing." Sparky & Co says "Count us in. We`re ready to party."



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you see in the courtroom today the man who shot and killed your baby Antonio Santiago?

WEST: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Point him out to us.

WEST: The young man in the blue.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: As we`ve been saying, the defense attacked the screaming mother claiming she wanted insurance money. She said Hey, I wanted money to bury my child." They accused her of being a crack addict claiming she`d trade sex for crack cocaine. That was in a motion they filed asking for a hair sample. She says "I take two medications to treat mental illnesses."

So straight out to "The Lion`s Den" -- Judge Larry Seidlin, as a judge where does the criminal justice system draw the line. Yes, you want to defend somebody vigorously but what happens when they try to put the other person, the mother of the dead child on trial?

SEIDLIN: It`s a game of diversion. They`re trying to divert the jury`s attention from the heinous crime that was committed and they`re putting the mother on trial. As you`ve said earlier, we`ve seen it in a lot of cases.

What this is a tragedy involving people in poverty. In your earlier book, Jane, about addictions we need the money to help these mentally-ill people. The mother has serious mental problems and so does the defendant.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well I would agree, it`s a troubled group all the way around. But wow, they`re playing hardball.

Stay right there.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: See you tomorrow night, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Nancy is next.