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Mom Loves Her Kids` Molester?; Hoffman`s Secret Double Life Revealed

Aired February 5, 2014 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, the secret double life of Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, found dead in an apartment turned heroin den. Stunning new revelations tonight, as four unlikely suspects are hauled away in handcuffs in this exploding drug scandal.

And the killing of an African-American teen, Jordan Davis. A middle- aged white software developer guns the teen down. Tonight we`ve got breaking news on this story as we ask, is Michael Dunn a racist? Is thug the new "N" word?

But first tonight, a disgusting, disturbing case that is going to infuriate every mother out there. Indeed, every human being. Cops say this woman, Darrika Driver, brought a child predator into her home, not once, but twice, allegedly forcing her own two little girls to live with a man who had just served time for sexually abusing them.

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


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stupid in love. Dump in love.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Driver allowed her boyfriend, 22-year-old Natavious Mays, to move in with her here, after he was released from prison, even though he had served time for molesting two girls, ages 12 and 14, in her home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s disgusting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neighbors say police broke down the door to the apartment looking for Driver and Mays.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops say 31-year-old Darrika Driver`s boyfriend, 22- year-old Natavious Mays, sexually assaulted -- this guy there -- sexually assaulted her two daughters and was convicted. And did hard time for those crimes.

But then he gets out of prison, and cops say the mommy lets him right back into her home, giving this convicted child predator access to her two young daughters, again, knowing he`s attacked them before.

That`s when cops say this convict boyfriend sexually assaults the 14- year-old girl again. And even records the vicious attack on his cell phone.

Tonight, the child`s mother behind bars, accused of hiding her predator boyfriend from cops. She told police she didn`t know where he lived. Cops say yes, she did. He lived with her. It`s sickening that the woman who gave birth to these girls and is supposed to protect them from harm is the one cops say put them back in the hands of a child predator.

What do you have to say to this? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586- 7297.

Straight out to Veronica Waters, reporter, WSV, Atlanta.

Veronica, thanks for joining us tonight. How did cops find out about this horror?

VERONICA WATERS, REPORTER (via phone): Jane, that is an absolutely great question. And whether it was just a routine check or whether something smelled funny, the sheriff`s deputies and the probation officer of Natavious Mays figured out that something was off.

Now as you said, Natavious Mays served time, hard prison time for child molestation. He was just released from prison in October of 2013. What was going on, Jane, was that Mays was going to his probation officer and to deputies and saying, "I have a location, a home here in Henry County. This is where I`m living; this is where you can find me."

Of course, they have to do routine checks, like I said. Not sure if something was suspicious, but they started checking up on Mays, as they are wont to do for convicted sex offenders. And they found that they weren`t finding him in the locations that they thought he should be.

What was happening, Jane, was that Mays was actually going to Clayton County, where Darrika Driver lived, and staying with them most of the week. So Monday through Friday, he was generally in Clayton County. He`d come back to Henry County on the weekends and pretend that that`s where he was living.

Cops started sniffing around. They took a flyer over to the apartment complex and asked neighbors, "Have you seen this guy? Does he look familiar?" And the neighbors would say, "Oh, yes, that guy is around here all the time." And that`s how police found out where he was living.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, good detective work, excellent reporting. Thank you for that.

This is what one of Darrika`s neighbors says about why, the key question, why on earth this mother of two would allow a child predator back into her home.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s disgusting. For her to sit here and let -- you know, that`s awful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would make a mother do that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess stupid in love. Dumb in love.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stupid in love. Wendy Walsh, psychologist, author of "The 30-Day Love Detox," does it really come down to that, love? Is that what love makes a mother do?

WENDY WALSH, PSYCHOLOGIST: I`m sad to tell you, but I would call that a weird traumatic attachment, not love. Some people would call it love. But love is the most vicious drug we have sometimes. It makes us do and say things we wouldn`t do otherwise.

In this case, Jane, I`m thinking that maybe she herself was either a victim of sexual predators as a child herself, so maybe she`s thinking this is somehow normal. Who knows? Maybe she felt, oh, her 14-year-old daughter seduced him, so now she`s got to compete and win her man back from her daughter. This is all crazy thinking. It`s all unhealthy. But I`m just telling you the mindset of somebody who has this kind of attachment disorder.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, some say this reminds them of the controversial hit movie "Precious," where the mother allows her boyfriend to sexually assault her own young daughter. Here`s a clip.


MARIAH CAREY, SINGER/ACTRESS: You let him abuse your daughter.

MO`NIQUE IMES-JACKSON, ACTRESS: I did not want him to abuse my daughter.

CAREY: But you allowed him to hurt her.

IMES-JACKSON: I told him to do nothing to her. I wanted him to make love to me. That was my man. That was my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) man. That was my man. If he wanted my daughter.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, this, of course, is a film, a controversial film, but in real life it is called the "anything to keep a man syndrome."

Anahita Sedaghatfar, criminal defense attorney, you`ve covered so many of these kinds of cases. Is it true that women will go to such extraordinary lengths just to keep a man in her life?

ANAHITA SEDAGHATFAR, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think that`s what we`re seeing here, Jane. And like you said, we`ve seen this before.

This is just so disturbing, to think that a mother, someone who`s essentially supposed to protect and keep your children safe, would open the door and allow someone to continually molest her children. I don`t even think we can call her a mom, Jane.

And I don`t think she`s really going to have much of a defense here in terms of trying to seek an acquittal. I think it`s really going to be about trying to show mitigating factors, to reduce her sentence. She`s going to have to show maybe she herself was a victim of abuse -- sexual abuse, violent physical abuse, emotional abuse -- maybe she was under the control of this man, the control of her boyfriend. So I think it`s really going to be trying to set out some mitigating factors to try to reduce her sentence. But I don`t think she`s going to get an acquittal here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: The phone lines, they`re lighting up. Laurie, Ohio, what do you have to say? Laurie, Ohio.

CALLER: Well, I think because she should also be charged as a predator. And it seems to me she knew exactly what was going on. And you`ll let your kids (UNINTELLIGIBLE) just to keep a man, I think she`s sick. Something`s wrong with that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon Leiberman, HLN contributor. You`ve been investigating. What have you learned?

JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. Well, first of all, Jane, one thing we know about these predators is they are recidivists. They don`t offend once and then go get a day job. They offend and offend and offend.

Let me tell you what I`ve dug up, Jane, and this is going to anger a lot of people, as well. This gentleman was convicted on September 15th of 2011 for child molestation. Just two years later he was let out of jail, essentially a slap on the wrist for molesting a child. He`s let out October 30, 2013.

And I want to give it to these cops. On December 13, they verified where he was living, but heads-up cops, didn`t believe his story. They didn`t believe the whole situation. So they kept on him and on him and on him. And finally, they arrested him.

But look, a lot of police departments don`t have the resources to go and check where registered sex offenders are living.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Briefly, Veronica Walters, I want to ask you, where are the kids tonight? Let`s pray the kids are OK.

WATERS: We are not getting a lot of information from police, but I`m hearing that the -- that relatives of the children, they have custody of them, Jane. Which is a really needed thing. Because this man molested these girls right in their own mother`s bed. The bed he shared with their mother.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s hope they are in safe hands tonight. Thank you for that report.

The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, cops bust four people. Tonight, we are asking questions about who are they? What was their connection to Philip Seymour Hoffman? And the answer lies in his cell phone.


MATT DAMON, ACTOR: You know, does something ever come out of it? Like, is there somebody watching who goes, "Wow, that guy was amazing and he`s brilliant and he`s a genius? And, you know, he was probably smarter than me and maybe I should just stop doing this, or maybe I should try to find help"? Or -- I don`t know. You know, I hope so. I hope something comes of it somehow.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Arrests in the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.



HOFFMAN: Smart kid.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Four people have been called in, possibly connected to the heroin that killed him.

HOFFMAN: You cannot make friends with rock stars.

MIKE WALTERS, TMZ: He was telling people around the New York area, "I`m back on heroin."

HOFFMAN: Anything I could get my hands on, yes. Yes. I liked it all.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, the deadly drug scandal surrounding actor Philip Seymour Hoffman`s apparent heroin overdose continues to explode with new information. Cops on the hunt for the dealer who sold the Oscar- winning actor his deadly heroin dose. At this apartment, about 20 blocks from Hoffman`s own multi-million dollar rental apartment in Manhattan`s West Village.

Cops arrest four suspects, and they find an astounding 350 baggies of heroin littered inside. Three hundred and fifty.

Tonight, Hoffman`s secret double life revealed. Cops find the actor`s private journal. He`s been sober for many years, but we`ve got brand-new information about how he fell back into addiction and succumbed to a dark double life. Could his secret journal crack this case?

TMZ reporting tonight cops were tipped off to this -- you remember Mott Street. It`s a famous street mentioned in songs. Well, a Mott Street building just 20 blocks from Hoffman`s luxury apartment, a heroin user told them he bought from that dealer and would often see Hoffman, the actor, in the dealer`s apartment. Was this his neighborhood connection?

Here`s the raid caught by TMZ. Cops arrest this guy, Robert Vineberg, a.k.a. Robert Aaron. This young woman, Juliana Luchkiw, along with Max Rosenblum and Thomas Kushman, all in connection with the drugs sold to Philip Seymour Hoffman. But not necessarily the drugs that killed him.

The "New York Post" said Robert Vineberg, who goes by the stage name Robert Aaron, is a jazz musician who`s recorded with music legends Mick Jagger, Amy Winehouse and Wyclef Jean. Watch this video we obtained of the suspect.




VINEBERG: No. Actually -- actually, I was born in Montreal. But I came here when I was quite young. I`ve been doing music forever. That`s all I think about, all I do.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops say that`s not all he`s been up to. He`s been up to more. Now he`s facing drug charges and possibly more.

Straight out to TMZ news manager Mike Walters. Who are these four people who`ve been arrested overnight in this massive bust? What do you know about the bust?

MIKE WALTERS, NEWS MANAGER, TMZ: Well, like you were saying, Jane, the police actually have an informant, a heroin user who frequented these several apartments, including Robert`s, who he says is the main drug dealer behind a gigantic ring of heroin.

He says he saw Philip there multiple times a week, buying a large amount of heroin. And every time that he saw him, he tells police that he seemed out of it. He seemed quiet, kind of depressed. Obviously, because he was doing heroin again.

I can tell you that all four people are being arraigned as we speak, Jane, in court. And Robert, the key person here, they claim they found over 350 bags of heroin in his apartment.

But like you said before, what they`re trying to do is line up if the heroin found in Philip`s apartment, that killed him, could be heroin he bought from this dealer. If so, they`re going to go after him for a lot more than just possession of heroin.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But we don`t know, nobody knows whether the drugs found in this apartment that was raided are the same drugs as found in Philip Seymour Hoffman`s apartment.

For example, that there were 70 bags of heroin in Philip Seymour Hoffman`s apartment labeled Ace of Spades, and Ace of Hearts. Along with 20 huge syringes, used syringes, and along with a whole bunch of prescription pills used for ADHD, anxiety; one used for treating addiction.

And by the way, here`s George Clooney talking about the very last time he saw the actor.


GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: Had dinner with him a couple of months ago. And I have to say he seemed in pretty good shape. It`s -- there`s no way to explain it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Who better than a brilliant actor to cover up a massive drug problem?

Out to the Lion`s Den. And we have a very special guest with us tonight, Jason Brunetti, the owner of Pizzetteria Brunetti. I hope I said that the right way.

You say that Philip Seymour Hoffman ate there in the weeks before his death. And we`ve been talking about this possible double life, Jason, where by day Philip Seymour Hoffman is this popular, successful actor, father of three gorgeous children, and by night he is someone else entirely, essentially a junkie on the hunt for drugs. Which Philip Seymour Hoffman did you see, Jason?

JASON BRUNETTI, OWNER, PIZZETTERIA BRUNETTI (via phone): I mean, I saw a Philip Hoffman that was -- he was kind. He was having such a good time with his family, with his kids. He sat at my restaurant in the front window. And there was him and his three kids. And I mean, they were just laughing and playing, and having a great time.

He would come over and he would like order something that we really didn`t have on the menu just to be cute. And the whole time they were just laughing and having fun.

I remember saying to my bartender, you know, it would be fun to sit at the table there and have a laugh with them, because they were just having such a blast. The kids with a smile on their faces. They were just having a great time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, this was approximately three weeks ago. And the word we have is that, obviously, he slipped after 23 years of sobriety. Philip Seymour Hoffman slipped last year, and then last spring went into rehab for ten days after he was reportedly snorting heroin. And after ten days he came out. But he could not maintain his sobriety.

So Jason, when he`s visiting you, your restaurant three weeks ago, he`s struggling with this drug addiction. Did you see any signs of it? Did you see him looking disheveled? Did you see him -- did you think, this person`s a drug user?

BRUNETTI: No, I didn`t actually. You know, he was unshaved, but that`s pretty typical for him, as I understand. But I mean, you would never be able to tell anything was wrong. The way they were laughing, having fun. It was, you know, like just being the great dad with his kids, just having a typical Sunday. Just, you know, enjoying themselves. And I would have never thought, and I didn`t think anything other than that. He was just happy to be with his kids.

And he was around the neighborhood all the time. He was a staple in the neighborhood here. He would always be on his bicycle. He got his hair cut locally. You know, he`s a local average fellow. And he was a great part of the neighborhood. It`s sad to see him go, for sure. And when I -- go ahead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: When you got the word -- well, why don`t you stand by for a second? We`d like to talk to you again in just a second.

Wendy Walsh, psychologist, I want to talk to you about there are -- here he is, with his kids, at games, walking around the street. He has a wonderful -- had a wonderful partner of many years, who not so long ago reportedly threw him out of the house that she shares with the three kids - - a 10-year-old, I believe a 7-year-old and a 5-year-old -- saying, you know, "You`re a mess. You`re using drugs. You can`t stay here. We don`t want you exposing it to the kids."

And yet you heard from this nice guy who is the owner of the pizzeria where he would go with his kids, he saw no sign of it. Now how do you reconcile that double life?

WALSH: Well, you know, addicts have a very good public face. And as you said, Jane, especially if they`re trained actors. They know how to be on, and they know how to perform.

But generally, they are medicating from terribly painful emotional pain that`s going on. And as you know, often the only time they go for help is when they hit that bottom. And part of his partner kicking him out is a step towards reaching the bottom.

Jane, one other thing I want to mention. I`ve been reading reports about this. And the police are looking at the drugs found in the apartment and comparing them to the drugs found in his body, to see if -- whether he overdosed or he took a lethal dose that was a mixture of heroin with some other painkillers. Because a lot of drug addicts have been dying in the last few months because of this lethal combination of drugs that they`ve been buying on the street.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, actually, we`ve got some new information on that, Jon Leiberman. Because my understanding from reading reports, is that the heroin they found in the apartment they tested -- we don`t have the results of the autopsy or the toxicology report on his body, but the heroin that they tested inside the apartment was reportedly 59 percent pure, which is some of the purest heroin that they have seen, New York City cops.

LEIBERMAN: Yes, it was extremely, extremely pure. However, what they didn`t find in the apartment was anything labeled Ace of Spades or Ace of Hearts, any of this, which wouldn`t match what Philip Seymour Hoffman had in his possession.

So we need to be clear, Jane, these four are charged at this point with possession. My police sources say they`re being milked for information now, because police speculation is there are much bigger fish on this totem pole. Much bigger people they want to go after than these four.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. What I was saying was that the heroin that was tested from Philip Seymour Hoffman`s apartment was very pure. Meaning that he did not die, quite possibly, of this toxic heroin, this heroin laced with other things. That indeed, with the 20 used syringes found inside his apartment, it appears that he died of a classic standard overdose of using too much heroin. Of course, we`ll know for sure when the autopsy and toxicology reports come back.

Stay right there. On the other side we`re going to talk to a recovering addict who lives and works in that Lower Manhattan area where all of this is going on, where this scandal is unfolding. What does he know about the scene that Dustin [SIC] Hoffman was in down there?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a wonderful human being with a terrible illness.

HOFFMAN: Folks have thought they had me pegged because of the way I talk.

Depends on the day. Depends on the day, yes, it does, you know.

And you actually act well and you go home and you can sleep well at night. Those are good days.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And of course, I meant Philip Seymour Hoffman. Philip Seymour Hoffman is who we`re talking about, who tragically died of a drug overdose. And again, an addict in recovery who knows the scene, when we come right back.



HOFFMAN: Once you go to L.A., you make friends like crazy. But they`re going to be fake friends. They`re going to try to corrupt you. You`ve got an honest face. They`re going to tell you everything. But you cannot make friends with the rock stars.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Such a great actor. Such a tragic loss.

And we are learning new information tonight about the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman and the raid that occurred overnight.

Cops say they busted four people in a massive drug raid. And they suggest that they are possibly connected to drugs sold at one time to actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. And the photos you`re seeing are of those who were arrested overnight on various charges, including the four people arrested, criminal possession of controlled substance, criminal use of drug paraphernalia. They found 350 bags of heroin inside the building that they raided.

And tonight cops say Hoffman`s personal phone number was stored in one of the suspect`s, Robert Vineberg`s, cell phones. Here is more with that man speaking. He is an artist, as well.


VINEBERG: People are very nostalgic, aren`t they? People are very nostalgic.


VINEBERG: Right now.


VINEBERG: Everybody -- everybody talks about Marvin Gaye or Led Zeppelin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I talk about that stuff all the time.

VINEBERG: Everybody that`s not around anymore, we love them. Anybody who`s here right now, couldn`t care less.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Some ironic comments. Of course, long ago, and here`s some video of this suspect playing music, playing saxophone.

And we understand that this man, Robert Vineberg, is well-known in the music scene, and plays the saxophone and flute. And had even played with some major musicians.

I want to go to Peter Santoro, recovering addict and vice president of the Lower East Side Service Center. So you work right around this area, where all of this is going down. And you know, what strikes me about these suspects -- again, there`s no confirmation whatsoever that they were selling the drugs that killed him. They were raided as a result of information that was given to them by a source that Philip Seymour Hoffman had been seen in Vineberg`s apartment reportedly, allegedly. But they found 350 packets, according to police, of heroin.

But my question to you is, these are not your stereotypical dealers. You know, people think of dealers, kids from the hood. This man is an artist who`s a saxophone player, who has reportedly worked with major stars. So we`re shattering stereotypes as we sort of dig for secrets in this case, Peter.

PETER SANTORO, VICE PRESIDENT, LOWER EAST SIDE SERVICE CENTER: Yes. These people, I guess, don`t come out of central casting for drug dealers. You know, then again, I`m sober 23 years. So I must say that, although I was doing the same drugs as him -- I was doing pills and doing heroin -- it`s been a long time since I`ve been on the street buying drugs.

But I work for the Lower East Side Service Center, and we have a strong presence for 54 years in this area. And the way -- you know, the way it`s changed today, as compared to 23 years ago, drug addict -- drug addicts and drug dealers used to hang out on the corner. And drug addicts would come to the dealer. They would buy their drugs on the corner.

It`s changed over the years. It`s very -- it`s increased because of technology. And the way many people buy drugs today is there`s a cell phone, and they text someone. And they agree to meet that way. And in many cases, it`s really just like buying a pizza or a dinner. They call their order in, and the delivery person delivers it to them at the house.

So that thing we see in movies, where you`re on a corner and there`s a buy, although that, I`m sure, still happens, it`s very, very different these days.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And heroin is a middle-class, even upper-class addiction these days. We`ve only got a few seconds, Peter. But weigh in on that.

SANTORO: Look, it`s, you know -- it`s at an epidemic proportions. I mean, this drug addiction with opiates, whether it be heroin, you know, it`s a baffling disease. It`s cunning. It`s baffling. It`s incurable. It`s chronic. And in many cases it`s fatal. But I think what`s most important for your viewers is that it`s treatable. There is hope.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You have been sober the same amount of years that Philip Seymour Hoffman was sober when he slipped.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m sober from alcohol 18 years. All we have is today. There is no cure. You don`t get to the point where you suddenly got it licked.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It never happens. It`s a daily reprieve. If you stop working on it, you can go out after 23 years, 50 years of sobriety. So let`s hope that through this tragic death, we learn something about how addiction works. And it is cunning, baffling and powerful.

Up next a middle-aged man on trial for shooting an unarmed teen -- this software developer in orange here has referred to victim Jordan Davis as a thug. He has no history -- he had no history of problems before he was gunned down. No history whatsoever. Is thug the new "n" word?


MICHAEL DUNN, ON TRIAL FOR MURDER OF JORDAN DAVIS: The guy that was in the back was getting really agitated. And my window`s up, I can`t hear anything he`s saying. But, you know, there was a lot of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and (EXPLETIVE DELETED). (EXPLETIVE DELETED), that (EXPLETIVE DELETED). And then the music comes back on. You know, just like live and let live and then, you know, don`t need any trouble.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Someone got shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said, Oh, I hate that thug music.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I hate that thug music, he said that when he`s pulling up.


RON DAVIS, FATHER OF JORDAN DAVIS: And then you`re going to call them a thug. Just because of their music, you`re going to call them a thug.

DUNN: You just hear the heavy bass. I just said, hey, would you mind turning it down?

I thought it was a shotgun. He goes, You`re dead (EXPLETIVE DELETED). And he opens his door.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, bring help. Please, now.

DUNN: Another carload of thugs to come. I mean I`ve never been so scared in my life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said, I love you, mom. And that was the last time I saw him.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Breaking news in the trial of Michael Dunn. He is the middle-aged white man who gunned down an unarmed African-American teen at a gas station in Florida during an argument over loud music.

The breaking news, a jury has just been selected. 12 jurors, plus 4 alternates, opening statements expected tomorrow. We will bring it all to you as this explosive racially charged trial unfolds.

Now, Michael Dunn is expected to hang his defense on Florida`s controversial Stand Your Ground law. We`re learning Dunn`s attorney said, no, Stand Your Ground is not part of their strategy. So what is his defense? We will find out tomorrow during opening statements.

47-year-old Michael Dunn, a software developer, shot and killed 17- year-old Jordan Davis. Dunn put eight -- eight bullets into the SUV in which Davis was riding, striking Davis twice. Police say Davis and his three friends were not armed. No gun found -- period, end of story. But Dunn insists the victim pointed a shotgun in his direction and threatened to kill him.

This case is racially charged, and the suspect himself is the main reason for that. He has repeatedly referred to the victim, the young man killed, as a thug. Is this evidence that thug is the new "n" word? Here is part of Dunn`s interrogation.


DUNN: We went right to our room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You went right to the hotel?

DUNN: Yes.


DUNN: (inaudible) Just (EXPLETIVE DELETED), I wasn`t going to wait for another carload of thugs to come. I mean -- I`ve never been so scared in my life.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And in a disturbing letter from the jail to a reporter, Dunn wrote, quote, "This case has never been about loud music. This case is about a local thug threatening to kill me because I dared to ask him to turn the music down."

So straight out to our fantastic panel -- is thug the new "n" word? I`d like you at home to call me, 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. I want to hear from you.

All right. "Lion`s Den" panel -- we begin with Natalie Jackson, the former attorney for Trayvon Martin`s family. Many are saying this is very similar to the George Zimmerman case. Natalie -- I want to ask you, do you think thug is the new "n" word?

NATALIE JACKSON, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR TRAYVON MARTIN`S FAMILY: I definitely think so in the way that Michael Dunn has used it. This is a man who sent letters from his jail cell to news stations using that word, and using it in a very inflammatory manner. He did it as a sort of call to arms. And I believe he did it to pollute -- to try to pollute a jury pool --


JACKSON: -- into thinking hat this young black male was a thug.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Anahita Sedaghatfar, criminal defense attorney, your thoughts?

ANAHITA SEDAGHATFAR, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I totally disagree here. Look, I`ve heard the word "thug" being used to describe people that are tough, that are hard, that are bullies. Even white people are called thugs. I don`t think this is racist against African-Americans.


SEDAGHATFAR: Chris Christie has been called a thug -- Chris Christie has been called a thug left and right all over the media and he`s a white man.

So look, Jane, I don`t disagree that we really need to have a serious discussion about the role race plays in our criminal justice system. But to take this man`s use of the word "thug" and lead to the conclusion that he acted this way because this guy was African-American, I just think it`s a stretch.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let`s go around, Tanya Young Williams, attorney, L.A.

TANYA YOUNG WILLIAMS, ATTORNEY: Jane, I agree with both of the women in some part. Yes I do believe that "thug", as it is being used by this gentleman, is trying to characterize this young man in a very negative light. And therefore, I think this gentleman is probably a racist, and using this term carefully.

However, I do not think "thug" universally is a replacement of the "n" word -- a word that was used to characterize in a way all people of color. What is true, "thug" has been used for Christie, "thug" has been used for Justin Bieber.

So "thug" represents a way, a negative aggressive act of a person, not their race. I don`t even want people to think that the "n" word is something synonymous with thug. It is not. We should not be confused here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: J. Wyndal Gordon, attorney out of D.C.

J. WYNDAL GORDON, ATTORNEY: I think it`s code language, Jane.

JACKSON: I agree.

GORDON: I think it`s another word to dehumanize and belittle a person just to transfer them from being human to what some may say homo sapiens in the Neanderthal type. This is a word that has no place in our usage today because --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well let me say this. Let me say this.

GORDON: -- in the context in which it`s being used.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And by the way, we`re going to get updated on -- we`re going to get updated on the jury selection in a second. I want to say this. I want you to listen to the upcoming sound byte of Michael Dunn`s girlfriend -- what she said because my question to you is did Michael Dunn have a preconceived notion in his head about who these kids were when he even pulled up, before he had any interaction with them.

Listen to what he told his girlfriend, according to her telling investigators, as he pulls up, before they even say the first words. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Mike made comment about the fact about the music? What did he say?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said, "Oh, I hate that thug music."



VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, Anahita Sedaghatfar, also in a letter from behind bars, Dunn wrote quote -- and this is very disturbing, please don`t blame the messenger, but I`m quoting the defendant. "The jail is chockfull of blacks and they all appear to be thugs." In another letter he wrote, "This gangster rap thug-talking culture that certain segments of society flock to is intolerable. The three thugs that were in the car are telling stories to cover up their true colors."

Anahita Sedaghatfar, the kids in the car had no criminal record. Jordan Davis had no criminal record. He was a good student. He was thinking of joining the military. He never got into trouble. He was not a thug.

JACKSON: I have met both of the parents and this was --


SEDAGHATFAR: That doesn`t -- that doesn`t negate the fact that this could have been self-defense, Jane. And I actually think that there`s a possible argument here for self-defense.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on. One at a time. One at a time.

SEDAGHATFAR: Here`s the thing.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Finish your thought very briefly and then we`ll get to Natalie.

SEDAGHATFAR: I don`t think that negates the fact that this could be self-defense, Jane. I think he has a plausible argument that it was because look, he just needs to convince the jurors that he feared grave bodily injury or death. It doesn`t have to be death in Florida and he has the right to use deadly force to defend himself.

The fact there was no gun found really is inconsequential, because that gun could have been ditched somewhere, thrown in a field, hidden somewhere. So you know, there was four boys and one defendant so I think the argument is possible. He was threatened.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Natalie, it almost seems that she`s saying that anytime you see a young African-American male playing loud music you have the right to be in fear of your life. I mean that`s absurd.


JACKSON: And that`s the wrong message that is sent to people from the Stand Your Ground law.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`re just starting our debate. We`re going to have more right on the other side. Stay right there.

On the other side -- your calls lining up. We`ve got a report from Jacksonville about the jury that`s just been selected.


DUNN: I went over this a million times. What I should have done is put the car in reverse. But the shotgun come up or whatever, it was fight or flight. I don`t think there was any time for flight at that moment because I was going to get shot.


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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s stuck up against a tree?


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Pushed up against the tree, again. You see the fire coming out now. You see Bubba unhooking himself form his harness, jumped out. That car is just stuck up against the tree. That think could fall on top of him -- very precarious and dangerous situation.

But the fire extinguishers are on hand with the safety crew pretty quickly. Bubba got out, says that he`s ok. But what a crazy, crazy way to end your run.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now his -- now Bubba Bacon`s car`s all crispy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, crispy bacon.


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DUNN: I rolled down my window, and I thought I was polite. I asked them nicely, I said, "Hey, would you guys mind turning that down." And they shut it off. I was like, "Thank you." Cordial, right? Things are cordial.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we`ve got breaking news, a jury has been selected just a couple of minutes ago in this case -- opening statements tomorrow.

Let`s go straight out to Leslie Coursey with WAWS in Jacksonville. Tell us about the makeup of the jury that has been selected.

LESLIE COURSEY, WAWS REPORTER (via telephone): So a jury of 16 people total -- there are 12 jurors and 4 alternates. 10 of those people are women, 6 are men, 5 of them are minorities. We have three African- Americans, one Asian, one Indian and one Hispanic person.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So from your sense of it, covering it there, what is the mood there? Because again, we`re not going out of our way ourselves, we`re not trying to make this a racial case, if it`s not. It`s the comments of the defendant himself from jail that have been racially charged, racially offensive. What is the mood there in terms of racial component of this trial, Leslie?

COURSEY: The mood here in Jacksonville is that this is really not a racial case, it`s more of a -- it`s more just the fact that this man`s accused of shooting a teenager over loud music. That really has everybody -- everybody really just shocked.

These jurors were chosen today after an intense day of questioning by state attorney Angela Corey and Dunn`s attorney, Cory Strolla. Both attorneys asked the jurors their opinions on guns and gun laws. They were asked about their feelings toward law enforcement, their feelings about loud music and common courtesy, and they were asked whether rage and the age of the victims would influence their decisions, and they all answered no.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So, J. Wyndal Gordon, do you agree with the reporter who said this is just about an older guy shooting a teen?

GORDON: Well, no, but I respect her opinion in order to report it in that fashion. However you have to think about what made him feel like he had the right to shoot these four teenagers who were all inside of a car, minding their own business, armed with nothing but music. What was it in his genotype or his makeup that made him believe that was the appropriate response to loud music? And I think that`s the underlying -- or the underpinning issue that actually brings up the issue of race.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Your calls are lining up. We`re going to take them on the other side. We`re also going to talk about why is the defense not using Stand Your Ground? Taking a page from Zimmerman who also didn`t use --



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last set of rounds when the truck was backing away from you -- you put four more shots into them -- four more shots into it. (inaudible) because backing away is no longer a threat.

DUNN: Yes, sir, I understand that, and in my mind they had a weapon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t shoot someone because in my mind they had a weapon.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And more breaking news for you. Michael Dunn`s attorney says they are not going to use the Stand Your Ground law, they are going to rely on, quote, "justifiable use of deadly force," end quote, as their defense. Natalie Jackson -- an expert on all of this because she was formerly the attorney for Trayvon Martin`s family; how do you argue justifiable use of deadly force when four of the shots he fired into the SUV were as the vehicle was driving away from him?

JACKSON: Well, we saw this in the Zimmerman trial. They`re really going to argue let`s confuse the jury with the gun laws, because you will see Stand Your Ground in the jury instructions, I can bet you.

Their argument doesn`t hold water because there were two volleys. He shot four times first. As the kids were literally fleeing for their lives, he shot in the back of their truck. Again, he got out of the car and shot in the back of their truck as they`re fleeing for their lives. I don`t see how a jury cannot convict him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok, Anahita Sedaghatfar how do you defend that?

SEDAGHATFAR: I think you can Jane. Like I said it`s plausible that he was acting in self-defense. I think it`s going to be a more difficult defense than George Zimmerman. I thought all along George Zimmerman was --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Couldn`t he just drive away?

SEDAGHATFAR: Yes, and that`s why it`s going to be a little bit more difficult. And he`s going to have to say that he didn`t stop until he felt that that fear was completely abated. And like I said it`s going to be more difficult, but it`s plausible. It`s plausible to think that he`s in fear --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Opening statements tomorrow, we will cover them right here.

Nancy next.