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Bully Cop Caught on Tape?; "Hiccup Girl" Charged with Murder

Aired September 19, 2013 - 19:00:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he go too far? He`ll get both sides of the story. JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL starts right now.

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight shock and outrage as an Ohio traffic stop spins totally out of control. A cop is seen forcing a family to lie down in the middle of the street, laughing and pointing a gun and a Taser at them. It`s all caught on tape, and guess what? It`s gone viral. More than 200,000 hits on YouTube.

So did this police officer go too far, or were unruly citizens, perhaps, interfering with his job? We`ll debate it tonight.

Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell coming to you live. Thank you so much for joining me.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we need more police here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The whole thing caught on cell phone.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ordering her family, including her 14-year-old son, to lay on the ground, drawing his gun and Taser.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He needs -- yes, he needs to put her down. Yes.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: The confrontation started when Officer Eric Hart pulled over 21-year-old Cassandra Meyers over an alleged tag violation. Things turned very ugly, very fast when during the routine traffic stop, Cassandra`s father-in-law, Aaron Tatkowski, drove up and allegedly screamed at the officer, quote -- and this is according to the police report -- "I`m bleeping sick of you cops. I`m bleeping sick of you harassing people for no reason."

Well, Officer Hart ended up allegedly making Tatkowski, along with the woman who`s reportedly his girlfriend and his 14-year-old son lie down right in the middle of the street.

Tatkowski said two granddaughters remained inside the truck during all of this.

Now neighbors caught the whole terrifying altercation on tape.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody get Toledo police on the phone!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m trying to, Aaron.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get the baby! 911, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aaron, seriously. Aaron, shut up.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, we need Toledo police here.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Aaron Tatkowski was charged with misconduct in an emergency, obstructing official business and resisting arrest, but he pleaded not guilty. And guess what? He`s joining us tonight to explain his side of the story.

The police report, which I`m holding in my hand, says he and his girlfriend refused to comply with the officer`s command.

So this is the debate tonight. Did this cop take things way too far? Or did these citizens cross the line with the officer?

Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

We have a fantastic Lion`s Den debate panel tonight, including Greg Kading, former LAPD detective and author of "Murder Rap." And I`m also joined by Aaron Tatkowski, the man involved in this terrifying ordeal, who was on the ground and arrested, and his neighbor who taped the whole incident.

Again, was this cop completely out of control, or were these belligerent and unruly citizens who deserved to be arrested?

First to Christine Lipper. You videotaped this incident. Your video has gone viral. You were right there. What do you think -- who do you think was in the wrong? What went wrong?

CHRISTINE LIPPER, VIDEOTAPED INCIDENT (via phone): Oh, gosh. Well, I just believe that he had a look of rage in his face. From the video you can tell. They really weren`t doing anything wrong. When he told him to get in the car, then he yanks him out of the car and throws him on the ground. And it all escalates from there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, when you say he had a look of rage on your face, who are you referring to? There`s two guys involved here.

LIPPER: Well, the policeman, sorry.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So why did you decide to whip out -- I believe this is your cell-phone camera and start videotaping? What was it about the situation that made you say, "I need to roll tape on this"?

LIPPER: My neighbor, actually, was in handcuffs and screaming for his life and said, "Get this on camera. This guy`s going crazy." So I ran in the house and grabbed the camera.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, listen, let me grab Aaron Tatkowski. He is seen in the video getting arrested. He is the gentleman on the ground there in black. OK. And reportedly, that`s his girlfriend next to him and his 14, I believe, year-old son also on the floor. And there`s the officer pointing at him.

So Aaron, according to the police report that I`m reading here, and I never put on glasses, but this is very, very, very small lettering. It says that you approached the officer, pointing your finger at him and yelling, "I hate you bleeping cops. I`m bleeping sick of you harassing people for no reason" and screaming "Get off my property."

Can you tell me, is that -- is that what you said when you approached the officer, Aaron?

TATKOWSKI (via phone): Obviously, I`m not going to be able to talk much about this. This is an ongoing investigation. I`m just going to tell you that there isn`t a single thing in that police report that is true. I mean, if I wrote the report, how do you think it would look if I wrote it?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. So that`s a pretty...

TATKOWSKI: ... will come out in the end and -- sorry.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s a pretty serious thing that you`re saying. You`re alleging that the officer made up stuff in this police report. That`s what you`re saying?

TATKOWSKI: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s go back to beginning. Why were you upset? And what did you -- what do you say you did in this -- in this incident?

TATKOWSKI: Again, I can`t really comment on that. I can tell you that the stories are misconstrued, that it wasn`t my daughter-in-law.

Nobody is talking about the two grand babies that are in the back of the vehicle. Nobody`s mentioned the fact that a Taser and a loaded pistol was pointed at both of those babies. That started the whole outrage.

So again, I`m not going to say a whole lot. This is under and investigation, and it`s all going to come out shortly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I understand that. But we have you on to get your side of the story. So let me...

TATKOWSKI: Obviously...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me just read a couple of key things and then you can say whatever you want in response. OK. So in the police report, Officer Hart said the family was repeatedly refusing commands. That -- he was referring to you.

He goes on explaining that once he restrained the female on the grand she began, quote, "clawing at my arms." And the officer also says when you asked to be taken to the E.R. for scratches on your arm you sat on the cop, looked at the officer and said, quote, "This act ought to make a good payday for me, thanks." End quote.

I`m not saying that to embarrass you, sir. I`m reading from the police report, because I want to get your side of the story. So tell me.

TATKOWSKI: I`m totally not embarrassed by this whatsoever. Everybody is going to have their own views and our own opinion. Obviously, this officer has his own views of what he thinks he seen, and we have views of what we think we seen.

We`re not angry, nasty, crazy people. We simply viewed something we didn`t seem to think was right. We voiced our opinion calmly about it. And again, some type of a wacked-out, steroid rage popped (ph) through this officer, and this is what happened.

I don`t care what anybody does to anybody. This is not acceptable. And clearly, this is not protocol. This guy had just pulled this girl over in a driveway. And there was marks (ph) for that plate.

Why did he park his car where he parked it and not turn on his camera, because (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? Which we believe he had. We`re hoping to God he does have, which will set us all free.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Now just -- I just want to get your response on this. Did you or did you not say, which is what the police officer contends, "This act ought to make a good payday for me"? Did you say that, sir?

TATKOWSKI: I`m not going to respond to any more of what I did or didn`t say. And I don`t see the relevance for it at all. Maybe there is, maybe there isn`t. But again, I`m not going to comment on it right now. Give it a couple of weeks here, and I`ll be happy to give you another interview.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, the only reason it might be...

TATKOWSKI: I`m not out for money here. We`re after just getting an officer to comply with the law. And if he`s a bad cop, which there are a lot of allegations. Whether they`re true or not, I don`t know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, listen...

TATKOWSKI: If he is, then he got one off the street. If he isn`t, then we got a good one. We`re going to find out.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: By the way, he`s on mandatory paid leave while the law- enforcement office fully investigates whether there were any criminal civil rights violated. And I want to say that this officer and attorney is invited on any time. We want to get all sides of the story.

But obviously, something went on here because there were a number of people videotaping. Listen, I want to go out to the Lion`s Den. So let`s go to the Lion`s Den. You guys can hang on, our phoners.

And I want to start with, let`s see, how about Adam Swickle, criminal defense attorney. You heard the police report. You`ve seen the video. You`ve heard the side of the story of the man that was arrested.

ADAM SWICKLE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: With all due respect, I`ll start off with this. Why do you come on TV to talk about an incident if you`re not going to actually talk about the incident?

But understanding all of that, I`ve done a ton of these cases. This officer did everything straight by the book.

J. WYNDAL GORDON, ATTORNEY: Are you serious?

SWICKLE: He never shot his -- Yes. When you`re an officer and you`re in the middle...


SWICKLE: You have plenty of time to give your side.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait. Finish your thought, Adam.

SWICKLE: Thank you. You had plenty of time to give your side, and you chose to sing.

Here`s one of the most important things that he says. He doesn`t deny what the officer wrote in the report. He said that people could have misconstrued or seen the situation differently.

GORDON: It`s true.

SWICKLE: He did exactly what we learned. If the officer saw this as a threat, he did exactly what we learned. Escalation of the use of force, reasonable force. He did nothing wrong in this situation.


SWICKLE: I guarantee you he`ll be back to work soon.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. J. Wyndal, your -- your thoughts.

GORDON: And I apologize to counsel. These types of cases really disturb me. I absolutely detest police brutality.

In this particular case, let`s assume that the guy did everything that the police officer said he did. He`s in his car. He drove up. And he said, "Hey, what are you doing? What are you saying to my sister or daughter" or whoever she is to him. Where did he violate the law? That sounds like he was exercising a First-Amendment right. So where is the law violation?


SWICKLE: Obstruction of justice is not a First-Amendment right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, guys, we`re going to take a short break.

SWICKLE: ... investigation. There`s no right to interfere.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are just getting started. We haven`t played the half of it. Stay right there. There`s some commentary that is controversial between the police officer and the man on the ground. Let`s listen to what the police officer says on the other side of the break, and we`ll debate it some more.


TATKOWSKI: I got back in my truck, next thing you know, I was getting out of the truck. And my girlfriend said some things. Then he yanked her out of the truck.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tatkowski says the officer threw him, his girlfriend, his daughter-in-law and 14-year-old son to the ground. (END VIDEO CLIP)



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tatkowski says he complied with the officer, but worried for his two granddaughters still inside the truck. That`s when he asked witnesses to start recording.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was totally uncalled for the way he was using force on people. I`m sorry to say it, but that`s the way it is.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: According to published reports, Officer Hart has been working part time for Washington Township Police for about two years now, and his brother is reportedly the local fire chief.

Now, you can hear a lot of yelling and screaming in this video. But listen very carefully as this cop speaks. Critics suggest he may have been taunting the people on the ground. Listen.


OFFICER ERIC HART, WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP POLICE: You don`t even know who the -- who the hell are you? I got more friends than you can count on your hands and feet. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) You don`t know who you are.


HART: Shut up!


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to the Lion`s Den, and I want to go to Kelly Saindon, former prosecutor.

That`s odd, I think. I mean, the attitude. Listen, cops are trained to remain professional, even when they are taunted. But this idea that he`s saying, "I`m the freaking officer over here and I got more friends than you can count on your hands and feet." What do you think of that?

KELLY SAINDON, FORMER PROSECUTOR: This guy has an attitude problem. He didn`t use reasonable force. Your other expert said that he`s allowed to escalate force.

Well, the problem is, it`s either to effectuate an arrest or if he`s in imminent danger. None of those were happening. He could have answered. They complied with what they were told to do. He overstepped, and he is cocky.

The other witness said he had a look of rage on the face, so I think he`s on a power trip. And I think he used emotion instead of training, so he was way out of line. That`s my opinion.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Greg Kading, former LAPD detective, author of "Murder Rap." Greg.

GREG KADING, FORMER LAPD DETECTIVE: Hi, Jane. Yes, ma`am. It really comes down to it looks like testosterone wars. You know, I understand what this officer`s training is. He has to control a situation.

And there`s nothing more dangerous for a cop than these family incidents. You think everybody is trying to defend each other, and he`s outnumbered, so he`s reacting to that.

We don`t know what took place prior to the video. But certainly on video he`s not deescalating the situation as he should be. He`s escalating it. And much of what we see on video is definitely inappropriate, at least from law enforcement standards.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, you`re -- you`re saying from law enforcement standards. That`s interesting, because you`re a former LAPD detective. So the natural assumption would be that what you may understand is behavior. But you`re saying, Greg, that you think the officer is acting in an inappropriate fashion.

KADING: Yes, I`m agreeing that he has to control that situation. You can`t have people reaching into trucks while you`re trying to handcuff somebody. And it`s getting more and more escalated.

But once he has them handcuffed and under control, there`s no reason to be pointing Taser guns at him. There`s no reason to be using that taunting language. There`s no reason to be trying to have this, like, debate with him. You deescalated that situation if you`re going to maintain your professionalism.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, the cops didn`t just put two adults on the ground. He also handcuffed the 14-year-old boy there. Listen to this.


HART: Who are you?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have no right to throw him on the ground!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please get them here now. Get them here now. We`ve got an officer in distress.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have no right!


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to the Lion`s Den. Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist. This is a 14-year-old boy. I believe -- it`s hard for me to see everything. It looks like he was handcuffed. Correct me if I`m wrong, people. Yes, he was handcuffed. Is that appropriate? And is that going to traumatize this young man?

ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Listen, the very best thing that I can say about this police officer is that he`s not very good at what he does. It looks like, from the video, that he has an anger management problem. Clearly, he escalated the situation.

And I`m going to say that he was grandiose and even sadistic. The way he treated this family just seemed like he was out to show who was in control. And it had nothing to do with whether the actual family was dangerous or not. That`s what it looks like.

Granted, I wasn`t there. But just everything about this was inappropriate. And maybe the police officer should take a time-out or find another job.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s go to the phone lines. Tammy, Canada, your question or thought. Tammy, Canada.

CALLER: Hey, Jane. How are you? I love your show, and I love your whole panel.


CALLER: My question to you is it doesn`t seem like he`s actually in this driveway or she was in the driveway. That being said, if the gentleman was that irate, why didn`t he wait to pull the family out and call for backup at the time?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you`re saying that the officer should have called for backup.

What`s really interesting is that this guy over here, the guy in the white shirt on the corner of the screen, on his cell phone, he calls the police, and he says, "Get over here. There`s all heck breaking loose."

And we`re going to show you what happened in a second. The police officer appears to come over, grab that cell phone and throw it on the ground.

Now, that`s also something that is very strange.

I want to go back to Aaron Tatkowski. You were there; you`re the man in the videotape on the ground. Is that your son, sir, the 14-year-old, and how has he reacted to all of this?

TATKOWSKI: Yes, that is my son. And yes, I`m really not at liberty to say how he`s reacting to all this. I think he handled himself very professionally, and I`m very proud of him for how he handled it in this situation. That`s all I can really say about that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. So, I want to go to Adam Swickle. You seem to be the only person on the panel. We try to have a balanced panel where we split it 50/50. But I was sort of surprised to hear the former LAPA detective say, "No, this officer, once he got them handcuffed, is now then behaving inappropriately," because he doesn`t seem to be deescalating.

Your response? You`re the only one defending him at this point.

SWICKLE: Yes, I mean, you`ve got to be kind of ridiculous not to agree that his behavior may not have been appropriate or what we would like to see from officers at that time. But that`s not really the question.

The question is at the moment did he feel some type of need to place people on the ground? He never kicked anybody. He never punched anybody. This isn`t abuse.

If this is police brutality, I don`t even know what to call the ones where police officers are beating on people.

Somebody went to go reach into a car. Officers are shot every single day in our country because they let their guard down. You cannot let your guard down in this particular situation. And I think he acted appropriately, other than maybe some of his comments and his attitude later on.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And some of the most dangerous situations start out as nothing. Remember, this was a traffic stop because of an alleged sticker on a license plate that was wrong. And sometimes tragedies do result from those minor traffic stops.

Stay right there. We`re going to get deeper into this. And we`ll talk about the cell-phone being tossed to the ground.

Stay right there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aaron, shut up.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We need Toledo police here.




HART: You don`t even know who the...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who the hell are you?

HART: I`m the freaking officer here and I got more friends than you can count on your hands and feet. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I wasn`t somebody? Shut up!


VELEZ-MITCHELL: At one point during this bizarre confrontation the officer walks up to a witness apparently talking to a 911 dispatcher and repeatedly tells him to go away.

Watch as it would appear the cop yanks the man`s cell phone out of his hand and throws it to the ground. Then we`ll debate it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get off the phone. Hang up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not the city of Toledo, and they`re already on their way.

HART: Hang up the phone.

There you go. Oh, get out. No. I don`t need you people, go!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re saying you don`t need witnesses.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Straight out to the Lion`s Den. J. Wyndal Gordo, is that a good way to handle the situation is this?

GORDON: Absolutely not. This officer is out of control. You see it right there. Everything about the situation is just completely wrong.

And again, I`d like to go back to the reason for the stop. Like there was supposed to be some tag violation. Well, why didn`t you write the ticket and get out of there? People have the right to say whatever you want to say. You cannot breach an officer`s peace. OK? They have to be able to deal with the public.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A couple of things. I just want to say this. One, are you allowed and Greg Kading, let me ask you, former LAPD detective.

If I see something that an officer is doing on the street, and I said, "This is out of hand, this is wrong," what should I do? Should I approach the officer and say, "Why are you doing that? Or should I call 911? video tape? That`s what somebody did. Should I videotape that? That`s what somebody else did. What`s the appropriate response for a citizen if they see something that they think is out of control?

GORDON: All of the above.

KADING: Don`t interject yourself in the situation.


KADING: Let the officer handle that situation, and then question it after the fact. Stand back. Videotape it. It`s absolutely appropriate to sit there and videotape officers conducting their business. You can ask questions afterwards. But let him handle his business. And especially when...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me jump in, then.

KADING: Especially when it`s a family member.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s a man calling 911, and that officer throws his cell phone to the ground. Is that something that he should have done, according to procedure?

KADING: Absolutely not. I mean, why do you want to alienate your witnesses who can be -- you know, helping you on your behalf? Now, that`s just a bystander. There`s no reason whatsoever to walk over there, take his phone over his -- out of his hand and then discard it like that with such disrespect. I mean, absolutely inappropriate with the way he conducted that.

And you don`t want to alienate witnesses. Especially in a case like this.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re going to go to Rolanda. Yolanda. Yolanda in Missouri. Yolanda, Missouri. You say you had a similar situation?

CALLER: Oh, my God. Absolutely, so bad. I got pulled over. Doing everything they asked me to do. And it was a testosterone thing or something. They were cocky. They think they`re God.

You know, you`re snatched -- I was snatched out of the car. This went on for five years. I went to court every time I was scheduled for five years. Not one time did the cop ever show up. They were throwing it out.

Mr. Tatkowski is really wasting his time, because they write whatever they want to say, and it`s never the truth. My view, I know you have to call the police when you`re in trouble and stuff. But nine times out of ten they cause more trouble than they fix.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, Yolanda. We`re going to stay on top of the story and see what the resolution is.

Thank you, fantastic panel.

Now on the other side, this woman went from famous hiccup girl to accused murderess.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I get bad chest pain, abdomen pain, throat pain, backpain, it`s unbelievable.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That interview happened in 2007 when Mee`s struggle with uncontrollable hiccups went public. Robodeux said Mee had issues being dubbed "the hiccup girl."



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The allegation is murder in the first degree.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one ever thought they would see the "Hiccup Girl" being booked on murder charges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Video of her uncontrollable hiccups went viral.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What you think you know about the "Hiccup Girl" and did you know anything about her and her hiccups.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She set everything up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He blamed the victim`s murder on a love triangle between Mee`s friends.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deceased from multiple gunshot wounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Suffered painful and annoying hiccups -- only one per second.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing we didn`t see from her was any hiccuping.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can tell me if she`s innocent or guilty. You`re her mother.

RACHEL ROBIDOUX, MOTHER OF JENNIFER MEE: I wasn`t at the crime scene.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looks like the possibility of a robbery was a motive.



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Tonight from hiccupping to a homicide charge. You may remember her as the famous "Hiccup Girl", but a Florida court knows her as a defendant in a murder trial.

We`re just hearing an explosive jailhouse tape between her and her mom. Could that be the smoking gun? 22-year-old Jennifer Mee became famous back in 2007 when she got these chronic hiccups. I mean we`re talking serious hiccups -- one per second at their very worst.

She got hiccups in court today -- yes, today. You can`t see her behind her attorneys, but listen closely and you can hear that unmistakable sound.

"Hiccup Girl", it`s very serious. It isn`t funny. On trial for murder accused of luring a victim to a vacant home with the promise of selling him some pot. Prosecutors say she and her two co-defendants planned to rob this man; the man was shot dead during an apparent struggle with a gun.

A key to the prosecution`s case could be this jailhouse conversation between Jennifer and her mom right after she was arrested. Listen -- this just came in, breaking news.


ROBIDOUX: Why are you in jail?

MEE: They`re charging me with murder in the first degree.

ROBIDOUX: Who`d you kill?

MEE: I didn`t kill nobody.

ROBIDOUX: Well then how are they charging you with attempted murder?

MEE: Because I set everything up. It all went wrong, mom. It shouldn`t have went down until after everything happened, mom.

ROBIDOUX: Who were you trying to kill, Jennifer?

MEE: Nobody. It wasn`t even supposed to happen like that, mom.

ROBIDOUX: Well, something happened obviously Jennifer because you`re in jail.

MEE: Ok. Me, Lamont, Laron all right and dude (inaudible) talking about he wants a half. All right. So I told him to come meet me over at the park where I used to stay out. And the boys brought him into a little alley and Laron pulled the gun out on him and they guy went to go reach for the gun and pulled the barrel and (inaudible) -- mom? I`ll call you when I can because I got to go.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Will the jury have any sympathy for the girl whose life took a very dark turn after her "Hiccup Girl" fame ended? But maybe not because she was hiccupping in court. Call me.

Straight out to Josh Rojas from Bay News 9 -- Josh, lay out this story for us. It`s very complicated. What do police believe went down the night of the murder?

JOSH ROJAS, BAY NEWS 9 (via telephone): Jane, police say that the "Hiccup Girl", Jennifer Mee, along with her two roommates, Laron Raiford and Lamont Newton planned to set up this fake marijuana robbery to rob that victim of $55. They say that Jennifer Mee, the "Hiccup Girl`s" role was first befriending the man on an obscure social networking Web site, having conversations with him there then texting the man, luring him to the vacant home in St. Petersburg, where she knew her two roommates were going to be waiting with a gun.

Now what she didn`t anticipate and even police acknowledged that they didn`t expect to kill this man. They just wanted his $55, but the Shannon Griffin, the victim, reached for the gun when it was pointed in his face. There was a struggle, and he was shot and killed.

Now, in Florida if you`re involved in a felony robbery, it doesn`t matter whether you pulled the trigger or not, you`re going to get charged with first-degree murder. And that`s what`s happening with Jennifer Mee, Lamont Newton, and Laron Raiford. Police believe in the end Laron Raiford pulled the trigger.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What a senseless, awful, awful horrific tragedy. So many lives, so many families destroyed by mindless, mindless violence involving a gun. A 23-year-old man already convicted of murder, one of the roommates. He`s going to spend the rest of his life in prison. No chance of parole. If that isn`t a cautionary tale to avoid these kinds of situations, I don`t know what is.

Now, Jennifer initially told cops the shooting was a result of a love triangle that did not involve her. Let me lay this out because it`s complicated but it`s crucial. There`s the victim on the left. The defense says Jennifer`s co-defendant on the right killed him after finding texts between his girlfriend in the middle and the victim. So is the love triangle theory supported by the victim`s cousin who says well, this victim, this the man who was killed thought he was going on a date the night he was murdered and was all dressed up?

Listen to this.


DOUGLAS BOLDEN, VICTIM`S COUSIN: I was the last person to see him from his family. And he left my home right here in St. Pete, so happy because he earned his first vacation and he was going to go on a date. He just thought he was going on a date. Just a young (inaudible) kid grinning ear- to-ear, about to go on a date, just as happy as could be.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to the "Lion`s Den". Kelly Saindon, former prosecutor, the prosecution would argue they have made up this love triangle, the defense, out of whole cloth because somebody testified that the victim happened to be all dressed up and looking dapper and wearing cologne when he walked out the door before he was killed. What do you think?

KELLY SAINDON, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, you know, I think as a former prosecutor, regardless, Jennifer Mee is in trouble because she did set it up and she was involved in a felony case where somebody got killed. And as for whether or not there was history if I was the prosecutor on the case, I would say if you leave credibility, if you believe that there was a love triangle, it doesn`t negate the fact that this is a set-up drug deal that went wrong and someone died that didn`t have to. I think you secure a conviction either way.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Adam Swickle, criminal defense attorney, I understand you`re defending "Hiccup Girl" tonight. How? What is the defense for this young woman who authorities say lured an innocent man to his death on the promise of buying pot that didn`t exist in order to rob him?

ADAM SWICKLE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, first of all, it`s very important that they actually go out and prove that. And it seems like the only thing that anybody can suggest her state of mind or what she believed was going on when she lured him there allegedly is the fact that she set this up. That is the phrase that is going to be used against her.

But we don`t know what she was setting up. We don`t know if she was setting up a confrontation. We don`t know if she was setting an embarrassment situation. We don`t know what it was that she believed was going to happen. That`s the hard part for the prosecution -- they`re going to have to be able to prove that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Look at her crying hysterically. Look at her crying hysterically. On the other side of the break, we`re going to talk about her claims that she is suddenly schizophrenic. And that she has Tourette syndrome. Is she playing the mental illness excuse card or does she have a serious mental problem. And did the fame that she got for that hiccup situation influence the trajectory of her life?

Stay right there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Jennifer Mee earlier this year. For 37 continuous days the Pinellas County high school student suffered painful and annoying hiccups almost one per second.




MEE: It`s been kind of rough because of me not being able to see all my friends that I would like to see and stuff like that. But other than that it`s been kind of interesting. I`ve got to go to new places that I`ve never been to.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: When Mee was a teenager her chronic hiccupping turned her into a national sensation. She was on news all over the world. Take a look at this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there anything you want to tell me?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: She was even on the "Today" show. But I got to go to Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist, could this infamy as "Hiccup Girl" had somehow contributed to her very bad decisions down the road leading to her now being on trial for murder?

Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist I`m not sure what the connection would be other than this was a girl who became vulnerable to needing to get attention. And the people who she got attention from were not good guys. And she may not have had the wherewithal to distinguish who was good for her and who was not good for her. Just anyone who gave her attention was good enough.

But I don`t really see any other connection. They could be independent. I know it`s very easy to make the connection between --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s a real coincidence that you would become infamous on the national level twice within a few years for totally different things like this. I believe there has to be a connection. I think that she may have convinced herself that she was famous -- infamous. And that somehow just like child stars often get into trouble, I think that somehow it did get her into a situation where she felt she had to continue getting that attention, good or bad. And this is the ultimate negative attention being basically the star in a courtroom because you`re accused of murder.

Now, let me ask this question. Is the jailhouse tape that was just played today, the key to convicting "Hiccup Girl" of murder? Remember, in the state of Florida where all this is going down, all you need to prove is that she lured the victim to the spot where he was murdered. Not that she pulled the trigger herself. She can get convicted for doing that alone, luring him to his death.

Listen again.


ROBIDOUX: Why are you in jail?

MEE: They`re charging me with murder in the first degree.

ROBIDOUX: Who`d you kill?

MEE: I didn`t kill nobody.

ROBIDOUX: Well then how are they charging you with attempted murder?

MEE: Because I set everything up.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to the "Lion`s Den". J. Wyndal Gordon?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s devastating.

GORDON: That tape is devastating. Now, you can spin it a bit. She may have set it up but she may have just been setting him up to purchase marijuana and that she had no idea that her roommates or whoever they were attempted -- were going to attempt to do anything other than assist her with the purchase. She could have -- she may be able to say that she had no idea that their intentions were to rob him. Her intentions were merely to exchange in a small kind of drug transaction.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me ask you a question, J. Wyndal.

Do you think because she`s a pretty young lady she`s going to not get life in prison, even though 23-year-old male Laron Raiford is going to spend the rest of his life in prison, no chance of parole?

GORDON: Yes, and I`m sure there has some people -- by some people`s standards but the law is the law. I don`t know what she`s going to get. Does she deserve as much time as the actual offenders, I don`t know. I would leave that up into the judge`s hands. But she is certainly subject - - that is the jeopardy that she`s facing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Josh Rojas, quickly, how is she now claiming insanity? That she has schizophrenia.

ROJAS: Yes, Jane, that came down yesterday in court that the -- her defense attorney John Trevena told the judge he just found out during jury selection that his client had schizophrenia.

The judge was not happy to hear that last minute news. Trevena, her attorney said he did not intend to use an insanity defense but did say that it could help on the motive of it. Some of it could help with the motive.

The judge quickly had her evaluated by a court appointed psychologist who found her competent to stand trial. The court psychologist did say though she felt that the "Hiccup Girl" had a low IQ -- Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, ok. Well, on the other side, we`re going to see if there`s a connection between the hiccups, the schizophrenia, all of this. Or is it just a wild coincidence that she`s on the national stage twice in a few short years for two very bizarre things -- chronic hiccups and alleged murder.

Stay right there.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one ever thought they would see the "Hiccup Girl" being booked on murder charges. But investigators say Jennifer Mee participated in the killing of 22-year-old Shannon Griffin. They say she confessed, and it seems her mother Rachel Robidoux isn`t so sure of her daughter`s innocence either.


ROBIDOUX: Any question you have, see Mr. Trevena please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can tell me if she`s innocent or guilty. You`re her mother.

ROBIDOUX: I wasn`t at the crime scene.


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

Cooper -- he says "I have a wedgy going on." Brick -- you are sturdy and reliable, heroic. Scarlett and Cyrus -- we do things a little bit different. We have quite a lifestyle going on. And Kiki says, "I`m an intellectual and you have to read my book."



JOHN TREVENA, JENNIFER MEE`S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It`s unlikely we`ll see any episodes of hiccups, because she`s now controlling that condition through medication.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, wow. Medication -- and her attorney claims that the hiccups were a symptom of Tourette syndrome. And now he says his client has been diagnosed with a very serious illness, schizophrenia. A court psychologist deemed her competent to stand trial

Out to the "Lion`s Den". Psychotherapist Robbie Ludwig, wow what a potpourri of -- we have low IQ, Tourette syndrome, schizophrenia, hiccups, medication -- does any of it make sense?

LUDWIG: I wonder where the schizophrenic diagnosis came from. But sometimes people who have Tourette syndrome and schizophrenia, they both use the same medication because it works on the dopamine centers in the brain. So I`m wondering if that`s where the connection came from. They`re using the medication that she`s on, to indicate what kind of diagnosis she has.

But people can be schizophrenic, very bright and still sane. So I don`t know if that would reduce her sentence in any way, shape or form. I`m not exactly sure what they`re doing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to go to Greg Kading, former LAPD detective. The defense says that this was actually a love triangle. That the shooter, the guy who was convicted Loran Raiford was jealous of this guy that he shot because he caught his girlfriend texting with the victim. Is that going to work -- Greg?

GREG KADING, FORMER LAPD DETECTIVE: Well, I don`t think so. I think that both those -- yes ma`am -- I think stories can actually co exist, so even if that`s true it can actually co-exist so even if that`s true, it can co- exist with the original story of the setup of the robbery. So one doesn`t really nullify the other, it really doesn`t help her out either. She`s still involved in setting up a crime which led to a murder so she`s equally guilty regardless if there`s a love triangle or a robbery.

GORDON: I`m going to go on a limb --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You think it will work? You think it will work, J. Wyndal? We only have a second or two.

GORDON: I think it will work because of the racial element there in St. Petersburg and to certain jurors with certain prejudices and backgrounds that might be a plausible explanation and the fact that they might find this young girl demure and kind of meek.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to go, but we shall see.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ll track it. We`ll track it. Stay right there.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tomorrow night, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, a man accused of murdering his wife and, get this, all his girlfriends are taking the stand to testify.

Nancy Grace is up next.