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Mom Charged for Driving Minivan Into Ocean; Boy in Toy Chest Starved to Death?; Search for Missing Mom Intensifies

Aired March 7, 2014 - 19:00:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Breaking news tonight. This just in. The pregnant mom who drove her minivan into the ocean, loaded with her three precious children, she has just been charged with three counts of first- degree attempted murder.

Thirty-two-year-old Ebony Wilkerson is also accused of aggravated child abuse. Get this: she`s now reportedly claiming to investigators that she was actually trying to drive out of the surf. She`s denying trying to kill her children or even hurt them.

Wilkerson doesn`t have an attorney yet. Police say as she drove her minivan into the waves, she told the three children, ages 3, 9 and 10, "Close your eyes and go to sleep. I`m taking you to a better place."

Wilkerson even tried to fight off rescuers who were racing to save her children. At one point she fought her older child for control of the steering wheel, according to police. Here`s one of the heroic rescuers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A kid on her lap was fighting her for the steering wheel. And the two in the back seat was crying, with their arms out saying, "Our mommy`s trying to kill us. Please help."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Straight out to Mark Starling, reporter, News 96.5 out of Orlando. What are the new details that are emerging about what was going on in this minivan in the moments before and during the plunge into the ocean, Mark?

MARK STARLING, REPORTER, NEWS 96.5 (via phone): Well, Jane, you know, we heard Sheriff Johnson talk about it this afternoon during a press conference, and it was just amazing how much that they have been able to find out over the last 24 hours.

You know, this woman, and the reason she`s being charged with premeditated murder, exactly the reason that you described. She fought off the people that were trying to save her children. Fought her children for control of the steering wheel. Just, you know, really unbelievable situation.

Sheriff Johnson today really adamant about premeditated murder, and that -- the fact that there had never been talk of mental illness up until this point. And that was the big thing that he stressed, was that everyone that they had talked to, there was no signs of mental illness prior to.

I did some research today and tried to find her Facebook account and social media accounts. I was not able to find her exact account. However, you know, a lot of this information that we`re getting about her now, it`s almost like she`s kind of throwing in a book of excuses. It`s domestic violence; "I was hearing demons." You know, it`s -- the sheriff, though, he`s very adamant: premeditated murder, first-degree, aggravated child abuse.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, one of the things that -- that struck me is that the authorities say she locked the doors and rolled up the windows just before driving into the ocean.

STARLING: She was adamant, Jane, about trying to kill her children. I don`t think there`s any question. And I don`t think the sheriff`s office has any question about that anymore either.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Just hours before she drove into the ocean, a relative of this woman called 911, saying she was worried because the pregnant mom talking about demons.

Now let`s go right out to the Lion`s Den. Wendy Murphy, there was a stop hours before this, and they decided, no, she`s not so out of it, that we can hold her involuntarily. But the relative did say she was talking about demons.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now they`ve decided with this murder one charge, that, no, she`s not crazy, she`s totally sane. And she made a cold, calculating decision to try and murder her kids.

MURPHY: You know, it doesn`t flow, Jane, for any law-enforcement official to confront a mother in a van who`s talking about demons, whether she`s saying, "And by the way, a few hours from now I`m going to drive into the ocean with my kids to kill them," she doesn`t have to say that for a smart law-enforcement official to say, you know, mother, kids in the car, talking about demons. There`s not a big leap between that and doing something a little cuckoo in a car with kids.

I think they should have taken her in.


MURPHY: They should have protected her from herself.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. But -- but the greater question now is, was she insane? Did she know right from wrong? Because while she`s driving into the ocean, according to the kids` account, mommy`s telling them, "Close your eyes. I`m taking you to a better place."

Wouldn`t that indicate, Evangeline Gomez, that maybe she doesn`t know right from wrong, that she`s hearing some sort of command hallucinations that are telling her, "Oh, this is good for the kids," a la, Andrea Yates?

EVANGELINE GOMEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: She`s going to need a mental evaluation done. Right now she doesn`t have counsel. Obviously, when she does get an attorney, I`m sure that`s the first thing he or she is going to make sure gets done.

The issue here is that the police immediately -- remember, there was a phone call about a domestic violence incident. Some type of allegation. Why didn`t they contact child welfare services at that time to conduct an interview of the children, of her, and of her husband, her paramour? That didn`t happen.

Again, when it came to the car, they had the right, the police officers, to stop her, and to take the kids out, because when it comes to children, constitutional rights are relaxed. And the state has, as a priority, the priority to protect children.

So there`s no excuse as to why the police officers couldn`t have immediately stopped her and removed those children from the car and prevented this from happening.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the good news is, they`re OK. They are going to be placed with a family member, quite possibly as soon as authorities determine that that family member poses no threat.

And they are -- they are heroes, in my book, because they`re the ones who managed to figure out how to roll down the windows and start screaming for help. And one of the older children actually wrestled with the mother, trying to get control of the steering wheel.

They`re the ones who told the rescuers, "Hey, there`s a baby still in there." It wasn`t the mother. The mother fought them when they tried to rescue the baby. All three kids OK.

Now this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sad story of a boy`s bones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The remains were found in a blue, apparently toy chest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I pray to God that this child isn`t someone you know. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s the one that nobody is (ph). Nobody knew.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roman`s parents kept him hidden.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Relegated to living in an attached structure on the outside of the home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A 3-year-old many of them never even saw.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know that our Roman is now in heaven.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Horror, heartbreak, and just mind-boggling cruelty, after the darkest of family secrets is uncovered inside an abandoned home.

The remains of a precious 3-year-old boy found stuffed inside a toy chest, of all places. His parents tonight are charged with starving him to death. We`re still awaiting the official cause of death.

The older couple has four children, all reportedly in good health. So why was this little boy, this innocent child, isolated and tortured to death?

Relatives of Martin and Raquel Barreras say they kept little Roman hidden away for most of his life. Many of their relatives hadn`t even met him. They would routinely ask about the boy, and the couple turned extremely evasive every time.

Extended family members reached out to Child Protective Services, but they say nothing was done. The boy wasn`t even allowed to live inside the family`s home.


CHIEF ROBERT VILLASENOR, TUCSON POLICE: According to the statements taken, was relegated to living in an attached structure on the outside of the home.

The remains were found in a blue, apparently toy chest inside that structure.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The family was evicted from this home earlier this year. It was their former landlord who happened upon Roman`s remains when they came to clean up the house.

Court documents say the dad knew his wife was starving their son but did nothing to stop it.

Straight out to the Lion`s Den. This story makes me sick. What would drive parents to abuse and starve a beautiful little boy like this, when apparently, Simone Bienne, behavior expert, he`s the sole victim? The other children -- they have four other children -- were at least physically healthy kids.

SIMONE BIENNE, BEHAVIOR EXPERT: It doesn`t make sense. But it does make sense if you put her as a female psychopath. Because what female psychopaths do is, much more than male psychopaths, they harm their children.

To the outside world everything is fine. In fact, she looks like a supermom: she`s got five kids. But on the inside, she is torturing her child and doing what she does in a sadistic, cruel way.

And if you look at the father, I mean, for goodness sake, could he not do anything to stop it? He`s as sadistic and cruel and psychopathic. They should be locked up for life.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know what?

MURPHY: ... not charged with a crime? Why is he not charged with murder?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He should be.

MURPHY: He knew how to get the food out of the pantry. She`s charged with murder.


MURPHY: He doesn`t know how to fix macaroni and cheese?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: When I see hideous stories like this, there`s often one thing at its core: drugs.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Because drugs allow people to do the unthinkable.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hold on a second. Let me give you this criminal history of this woman and her history of drug addiction.

She got hooked on oxycodone about ten years ago, when a doctor misdiagnosed her. In 2008 she pleaded guilty to shoplifting and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, because her children weren`t going to school. 2009, she pleaded guilty to stealing a prescription pad, trying to fill prescriptions for oxycodone to feed her habit. She twice violated probation for failing to finish rehab. Sounds like all her problems began with oxycodone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jane -- but Jane...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK? So now proceed from there, Brian Claypool.

BRIAN CLAYPOOL, ATTORNEY: But Jane, why isn`t Child Protective Services being investigated for this? You just read four drug charges against this woman. Some of the kids were previously removed from the home. She had violated probation when they found this child dead. Why aren`t they being investigated?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Excellent point.

CLAYPOOL: There were major red flags here. They should have done something to rescue that child.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. The Barreras family moved around a lot. And that obviously helped them, as many abusive families do, keep their hideous secret about this child. Relatives tried, but they couldn`t get any straight answers from them, what happened to this little boy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one could tell you where they lived from one day to the next. And that`s not because we didn`t try, because we all asked. Where`s Martin, where`s Raquel, where`s the babies? Nobody knew.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We contacted Child Protective Services. But they`re not speaking.

Turns out CPS took this child just after he was born, because the mother had tested positive for methadone. So that tells me, Evangeline Gomez, they really, really dropped the ball. They knew about this woman`s drug addiction. They had this child when he was an infant.

And then, here`s the capper. The last time they contacted this family was August 2012. That`s two years ago.

GOMEZ: Did -- did they ask about -- yes. Did they ask about him? Did the child protective case worker, did she actually see the child? Did she interview the other children? Did she ask them, "How is your brother doing? Have you seen him? I don`t see him here." Is he thin, if he was present? Did they check the refrigerator? I mean, this is an issue.

And this would not be the first case where Child Protective Services, their caseworkers dropped the ball. Many -- there have been many cases that we see where they claim they do a check. They never even showed up. Or they go in, they walk right out of the house five minutes later. And a thorough interview is not conducted.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Child Protective Services, all over the country, need to be revamped top to bottom. This is an obscenity. They knew about this child. They knew about the mother`s drug addiction. There`s no excuse for this.

We need to completely revamp every single CPS agency around the country, to bring them into the 21st century, use 21st century tools, OK, to monitor families that are troubled.

Stay right there. We`re just getting started.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of things run through my head. Like, if they said it was a little kid, I`m like thinking, is it one of the little girls that my kids played with? It`s crazy. Hard to believe something like this would happen so close.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why would they leave this little boy`s remains behind in a chest? They had to know somebody would discover, one day open that chest and find this child`s remains.

I want to go to Carol Gaxiola, director of Homicide Survivors. You`re working with the extended family. First of all, what we heard is the extended family would try to find out about this child, and the Barreras would become very evasive. What do you know about that?

CAROL GAXIOLA, DIRECTOR, HOMICIDE SURVIVORS (via phone): Well, what I know -- thank you for having me on. What I know about that is what the family has told me, that they were very concerned, because they loved this little boy. They did see him when he was born, when he was little. And many of them were devastated when they could not locate the family.

And they would try to contact the family. The family would move. Or if they did find out where they lived, they would not answer the door. They would not have any contact.

And unfortunately, with privacy laws, and the way we choose to have our communities, that`s perfectly fine. And they don`t have to have contact with anyone.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, what about CPS? CPS knew about this child. They had taken the child when he was an infant because of the mother`s drug problems. How is it that CPS couldn`t keep track of this child? I`ve said it a million times: We can track a FedEx package coast to coast and know where it is every second of the day, but we can`t keep track of an infant child that was in CPS`s care?

GAXIOLA: Well, what happens is once the parents comply, and reunification happens, then that -- that part is closed. To my understanding, it`s very difficult -- I know, I was a teacher -- it`s very difficult when families would move, change phone numbers, to locate them and communicate with them.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this is why I want to bring in Joey Jackson, HLN legal analyst. Where we need to bring 21st century tools to Child Protective Services. This whole idea that -- oh, we`re having trouble tracking them, because they changed their phone number, you know, balderdash. I mean, we track people down here in the news media every day. We have ways. There are background searches. There`s no excuse in a technological age where we`ve got drones, you know, overhead, and we can monitor anything, all sorts of minutia that we can`t track living flesh and blood children.

JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: I cannot agree with you more, Jane. One hundred percent correct. And the evilness and the inhumanity of a parent.

And first of all, with respect to the charges, I know the mother`s charged with murder. The father absolutely needs to be charged, too. This is acting in concert theory.

No. 2, as you mentioned, Jane, if the child is taken away, from Child Protective Services, because of the mother`s methadone problem, do you not follow up? If the family is moving, should you not be notified as to that? Did you not inquire as to the well-being of this child?

And No. 3, as to the family and the relatives who are so concerned about the child, what about voicing that concern such that the family is, whatever, given the assistance or police are investigating or something happens so that we`re not talking about this story; it`s prevented?

Who puts a child -- starves them to death and then puts them in a toy chest? Where are we living, Jane? It`s just outrageous. It`s horrible.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right now, I am calling for a complete revamping of CPS`s around the country, Child Protective Services. It`s one story too many, where a child was on their radar, they had a file on them, and then the child turns up dead. In this case, in a chest. OK?

The last time that they checked on this family was 2012. Are you kidding me?

We need to use high-tech tools to track children. Once they become a problem, once the family is troubled, they`ve got to be on the radar. And I mean that literally. For the rest of these children`s lives.

Freshman at one of the most prestigious schools in the country reveals she`s also a porn star. Belle Knox. Yes, she borrowed the name from Foxy Knoxy. I`m sure Amanda Knox is thrilled about that. Not.

But anyway, Belle Knox is taking it all off, and more, to pay for her pricey tuition, and she says it`s liberating and empowering, and she loves doing porn. Are you kidding me?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that probably every single person at some point in their life has watched pornography. So I think it`s extremely hypocritical of the same industry -- the same society that consumes me is also condemning me.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s amazing. You think you`d be safe around this area.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She disappeared without a trace. Thirty-three year old Karla Villagra-Garzon has not been seen since 10:30 on February 24.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope somebody will come forward, you know, and try to help the family.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was desperate, walking to the store to buy medicine for her 2-year-old daughter who had the flu.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, breaking news in the case of this beautiful missing mom, Karla Villagra-Garzon. Could the fight with her husband be the clue cops need to bust this case wide open?

Brand-new information tonight. We`ve just learned from police that this 33-year-old mother and her husband had an argument just before she left the house, reportedly to walk to a neighborhood Walgreens. Police say all this went down around 10:30 at night on February 24. Cops say after the argument, Karla walked to Walgreens to get medicine for her 2-year-old daughter, who had the flu.

Fast forward 11 days. She`s still missing. The Walgreens is about a half hour walk or about a five-minute drive from her home. But according to surveillance video for that Walgreens, Karla never made it there. She has not been seen or heard from since.

Karla, 5 foot tall, weighs 120 pounds, long black hair, brown eyes. Last seen wearing a brown jacket, blue jeans, black rain boots.

Straight out to the Lion`s Den. Wendy Murphy, published reports indicate it was the husband who reported her missing. Cops say the husband told them they`d just had an argument before he left -- before she left. He`s not considered a suspect. He`s being extremely cooperative. So could the argument be irrelevant here?

MURPHY: Well, look, he`s a suspect until they eliminate them, even if you don`t use the "S" word in a formal sense. And he probably, if he is innocent, accepts that label.

My understanding, he even reported her missing until the next day? That`s convenient.

And if they had a fight, there`s motive. I mean, he`s the last one to see her alive. They had a fight. She`s missing. Hello! Ding-a-ling. What are you looking for, Martians?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It could be that she stormed off because they had a fight. You know, when people fight, sometimes you go, "All right. I`m going to go out." And you walk out into the night and don`t use your head, because normally you wouldn`t walk out at night as a woman alone in that neighborhood.

So that could be, Simone Bienne, the explanation for her walking out into the night. Because of the argument.

BIENNE: Yes. I think that she was in a really troubled marriage. I just somehow think she could have been a runaway mom. I don`t know why, but I feel there could have been another guy. And if she did, she could, and off she went. And she`s run away with him. Runaway moms are far more common in America than we imagine. But I really have...

MURPHY: No. Domestic violence murders are more common.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Evangeline Gomez, what should cops do? What should they do? I mean, obviously, search for surveillance video, yada yada. But what should they do to find the back story?

GOMEZ: Investigate all of her friends, speak with them, find out more about her. Talk to her family members, what was going on that day, what was going on that week. Get more information about the relationship the two of them had. Obviously, I`m sure they -- if you check their databases to see if there were prior DV incidents involving the couple.

But in this situation, you can`t make any assumptions at this point. They probably have more information than what they`re telling us. Which is most of the time the case here.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Brian Claypool, ten seconds, last word.

CLAYPOOL: Yes. The husband is absolutely a suspect.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: He`s not. You can`t say that.

CLAYPOOL: You need to start searching the area right around the house. Clearly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cops did not identify him as a suspect, and we can`t say that. So all I can say is that I really hope that we find her. And we`re going to stay on top of this story.

Up next, a Duke University freshman turned hard-core porn star. How did this happen? And why is she sounding like she`s living the dream, when a lot of people say, "No, honey, you`re being degraded sexually"?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re told not to show our bodies. That`s really true for women. And to be in porn, and to be able to be naked and to be able to be free and have that sexual autonomy, it is so incredibly freeing.




BELLE KNOX, DUKE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: I can make about $1,200 each scene.

PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: You don`t feel that you`re being used?

KNOX: There are a lot of women in the pornography industry who really love their job and who find it really empowering.

MORGAN: Would you want your daughter, when she was 18, to be doing what you`re doing?

KNOX: I would want my daughter to make an informed decision about her career.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, one of America`s most elite colleges, Duke University in North Carolina, is in the throes of yet another sex scandal. After being spotted by a fellow classmate who was surfing the Internet, a gorgeous Duke freshman admits, yes, she`s a hard-core triple x-rated porn star by night so she can afford Duke`s $60,000 in tuition and expenses by day.

Now America`s most infamous co-ed is speaking out, insisting doing porn brings her, quote, "unimaginable joy".


KNOX: To be perfectly honest, if I was just another college girl who does porn, sort of like a day of news. I think that because I came out in defense of myself, and because I really talked about how much porn empowered me and I really told my story, I think that`s what sets this story apart.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: You heard it right. Duke freshman/porn star, Belle Knox, told Piers Morgan, doing hard-core porn is empowering. She suggests it would be far more degrading to do blue collar work, like waitressing. Really, Belle? You think having rough sex with strange men, penetrating your body, in a room full of people with cameras rolling, is less degrading than asking somebody, hey, what`s your order? Those who are challenging her in her words are "hypocrites".


KNOX: Absolutely. I mean, I think 80 percent of the world`s traffic on the Internet is pornography. And I think that probably every single person at some point in their life has watched pornography. So I think it`s extremely hypocritical of the same industry -- or the same society that consumes me is also condemning me.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Whatever. Straight out to the "Lion`s Den" -- let us debate it. Critics condemn this co-ed as a traitor to all women, and the ultimate hypocrite for painting degrading rough sex in pornography is somehow liberating. Personally I agree with this anonymous tweeter who wrote, "So being choked, spit on and degraded is now suddenly empowering?"

Straight out to Simone Bienne, behavior expert -- do you buy her rap?

SIMONE BIENNE, BEHAVIOR EXPERT: I don`t. And if you look at her body language, the smile, to me, looks as if she`s a very angry young woman. I think she`s narcissistic. I think this is to get attention. And I think she`s really pissed at her parents.

Because if she`s doing what she`s doing and it`s so empowering to women, why didn`t she tell her parents? I find her insulting to women and I wish she would grow up.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Brian Claypool --

BRIAN CLAYPOOL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- you`re a guy. I don`t know if that is a reason why I think you`re going to defend her. But it could be. Because let`s face it --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- because the consumers of pornography are overwhelmingly male.

CLAYPOOL: Jane, if I was 15 years younger, I might try to get a date with her, but I think she might be a little bit too young for me. Listen, she doesn`t owe --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This isn`t funny. This isn`t funny, Brian.

F1: That`s right, it`s not funny.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what, pornography is gross, it`s degrading and it objectifies women and turns them into commodities.

CLAYPOOL: Jane, Jane -- she doesn`t owe --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And the fact that this woman is using her higher education to come up with intellectual rationalization for her behavior --

F1: That`s right.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- doesn`t make it any cleaner.

CLAYPOOL: She doesn`t --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s dirty. It`s gross. It`s disgusting. And women need to stand up and say, "We`re not for it."

JACKSON: Tell us how you really feel, Jane.

CLAYPOOL: Jane, her tuition is $47,000 a year. She doesn`t owe an obligation to all of the women across the country to do the right thing. She`s now an adult. She`s making a decision to generate money to pay for her higher education. I`m not hearing her say, "I`m going to be a porn star the rest of my life." Good for her for finding a way to pay to go to a good school.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, come on.

EVANGELINE GOMEZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I would have gone to a different school.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There`s plenty of respectable ways, Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor and author of "And Justice for Some" to pay for higher education. She says she would be more degraded to be a waitress? Are you kidding me?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes, well, look. Let`s be clear. It`s better to go into debt than to go into body denigration. And look it, let`s tell the truth about porn for a second. People who want to know the truth should go to There`s a lot of really important stuff there.

The vast majority of women in porn are not gorgeous and beautiful and young like this woman. They are struggling. They`re drug addicts. They only last in the business for three months, because their holes in their body become unusable, if you know what I`m saying. It`s disgusting.

The vast majority of mainstream porn is violent. We`re not talking about vanilla sex. Everybody who thinks that`s what porn is, you`re wrong. So for her to make this sound like an appropriate (inaudible) she`s not just having sex in front of a camera for money. Violent, degrading porn is what she`s doing, selling herself in a violent exploitation of sexuality. That is harmful to all women.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Belle Knox says she`s proud of it. "I`m proud of it," she says. But we still don`t know her real name. And in fact, she tried to keep her porn career a secret until she was outed by a fellow student at Duke and became the object of campus ridicule. Then she fought back writing an article for, and honey, I wish you would keep my name out of it. 0 (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KNOX: We are in a society where we are so repressed every single day. We`re told that sex is bad. We`re told not to have sex. We`re told not to show our bodies. And that`s really true for women. And to be in porn, and to be able to be naked and to be able to be free and have that sexual autonomy, it is so incredibly freeing.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: How incredibly freeing, not. She`s claiming what she`s doing is, quote, "taking ownership of her body". But Evangeline Gomez, criminal defense attorney, I think what she`s missing here is, first she`s taking ownership and then she`s selling that very same body into the porn trade. She admits she`s engaged in rough sex porn, i.e., a woman being roughed up. So the devil`s in the details.

I personally have -- I`m not a prude, I have no problem with nudity if a film calls for it. I have no problem with erotica. But hard-core porn is different from nudity and erotic. It is by its very nature degrading to women.

GOMEZ: It is. And the sad part here is that she tries to rationalize it and sell it to everyone as if it`s something that is empowering her. She gets emboldened from it. She`s going to have a lot of problems when she tries to get a regular job, after graduating -- if she makes it to graduation. A lot of women who are in the porn industry -- there are tons of studies that have been done -- they suffer from serious psychological damage as a result.

She may try to hide it now. But it will show later.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m going to toss too, another sound byte of this woman because seriously, every time she opens her mouth, she says something that sounds very intellectual, and at first your head kind of spins, she`s using a lot of big words. The bottom line is she`s trying to justify and rationalize her participation in an industry that exploits women.

Listen, and we`ll debate.


KNOX: I think 80 percent of the world`s traffic on the Internet is more pornography. And I think that probably every single person at some point in their life has watched pornography. So I think it`s extremely hypocritical of the same industry -- or the same society that consumes me is also condemning me.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Of all the points she`s made, I would say that`s the best point because the fact is, Joey Jackson, that porn is a massively consumed product. A businessman going to hotels consumes huge amounts of porn. We are a porn-addicted culture. So we do have to look in the mirror and say, wait a second, we can`t just attack this woman. We`ve got to look at the fact that there`s a lot of consumers for this stuff.

JACKSON: You are absolutely right, Jane. What I find fascinating about pornography is that it`s a multibillion dollar industry but nobody watches porn. Wow, how do they make their money? "Watch porn, me -- no way." So the reality is there is a demand for that. But I`ve learned not to make judgments.

The reality is that we live in the United States of America. And people do what they want with their lives. They have the freedom to do it. If she chooses to live this way, you know what, while I may not think it`s appropriate, and we may condemn her, the reality is, that it`s fine with her. And if it`s fine with her, it`s fine with me.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, it`s not fine with me. There are better, easier, more ethical, more righteous ways to get money for higher education. And you know what? You don`t have to go to Duke. Go to a community college if that would be, I would say, a more ethical decision than participating in porn.

Here`s what you are saying in our "Skype Gallery" at home. Tonight, remember, if you want to Skype in your opinion, just e-mail Jane at and we`ll set it up.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are so many other schools out there that are less than $60,000 to attend. I feel like she can be a full-time waitress or a full-time cashier at a grocery store to raise money to go to a lesser expensive school.

I just don`t think exposing herself and her body to the public is the right way to go about doing it. Especially nowadays, because it`s more common for women to just be looked at as objects. So I feel like she`s just kind of making the rest of us look bad, and herself look a little silly.

But then again, this is my opinion, and that`s her opinion.




JODI ARIAS, CONVICTED OF KILLING TRAVIS ALEXANDER: To me life in prison was the most unfeeling outcome I could possibly think of. I thought I would rather die. But as I stand here now I can`t in good conscience ask for the penalty of death. Asking for death is tantamount to suicide.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, convicted murderer Jodi Arias sits in her little jail cell waiting to find out if she will spend the rest of her life in prison or die for the brutal murder of ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander. The death penalty trial was supposed to start in two weeks. But it has been postponed, again.

This is all happening while there`s a huge national tug-of-war over the death penalty. Should we get rid of it or keep it? Tonight, I`m going to talk to Kirk Bloodsworth. He was convicted of a horrible crime. He was convicted of raping and murdering a nine-year-old girl based on the testimony of five witnesses. He was convicted. He was sentenced to death.

There was just one little problem. He was innocent. That`s right. He spent more than eight years in prison. Two of those years on death row for a crime he did not commit. Ultimately DNA fingerprinting proved it wasn`t Kirk who committed these hideous crimes.

Straight out to my special guest, Kirk Bloodsworth. Kirk -- great to see you; glad that you`re free to appear on our show.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What was it like to sit on death row for years knowing they want to get rid of you? "They want to send me to the gas chamber, but I didn`t rape and murder that little girl."

BLOODSWORTH: I mean it`s the most horrible experience anyone could ever imagine. Just picture yourself one day you wake up at about 3:00 in the morning to banging on the door. And then somebody takes you in handcuffs, reads you your rights, and puts you in a police car. And that`s the last time you see your hometown for eight years, 10 months and 19 days.

Then on top of it all, they`re going to tell you they`re going to execute you for something you didn`t do. It was awful, Jane -- awful.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It sounds like sort of a surreal Kafkaesque nightmare, that you keep think you`re going to wake up from but you don`t. But ultimately DNA evidence exonerated you. And it was hidden away in a closet and found almost by accident? Tell us about that.

BLOODSWORTH: Yes. I mean, I read a book by Joseph Wambaugh called "The Blooding" and the first time new technology known as DNA was ever used in a criminal case. The book really pushed me to seek the DNA evidence in the case. There was possible semen stain on her underclothes, semen on swabbings and different forensic evidence.

And I wrote the prosecutor a letter and I asked her for this. And she wrote me back and said, it had been inadvertently destroyed. I panicked for like a couple minutes. And I just didn`t believe the veracity because honestly, Jane, they did some stuff that I wasn`t really happy with. I mean they had the evidence about another suspect and so on.

So I had my lawyer go check. Lo and behold it was sitting in the judge`s closet in a paper bag in a cardboard box on the floor. That`s the evidence I needed to free myself.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I`m glad you`re alive. Keep fighting.

BLOODSWORTH: Me, too, Jane. Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Don`t forget to check out "DEATH ROW STORIES" an eight-part series on CNN. The first episode airs this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. I`m going to be watching.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He goes inside (inaudible) motel. You see the wall of blood for the first time. But he doesn`t call police. He decides that he`s going to go to the other side neighbor and get her to come in the house with him.

So he`s at the closet door again. And he decides to put gloves on and then he opens the door. Lo and behold, there she was.

Really, he put his gloves on before he went to open the door?



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hey, Little Rico.

Tonight America`s animals are in crisis after Idaho becomes the sixth state to pass an AG Gag law that criminalized the filming of undercover video that exposes cruelty on factory farms. That means that this Mercy for Animals investigation you are looking at would now be illegal.

The organization went under cover at Bettencourt Dairy, The largest dairy operation in Idaho, two years ago. What they found was absolutely sickening. Here you see workers punching cows, beating them, beating them with canes. Jumping on their backs, doing things so horrible we can`t even show them on television.

One worker was sentenced to 102 days in jail for abusing a cow. Mercy for Animals says part of that abuse was sexual abuse -- yes, gross beyond words. But true. A farm owner told CNN, quote, "We are all devastated by it. We are family owned and we love our cattle. It`s something we don`t allow," end quote. As a result of the undercover investigation, five workers were fired, three of them charged with animal cruelty.

But rather than thank Mercy for Animals for bravely exposing this despicable cruelty the Idaho dairy industry turned around and pushed to pass an AG Gag bill that makes these undercover investigations illegal.

What does that tell you? Straight out to executive director for Mercy for Animals, Nathan Runkle. Nathan, first of all, I applaud your work on this investigation. Idaho, shame on you for becoming the sixth state to pass an AG Gag law. 17 other states have rejected similar laws.

Nathan, is this AG Gag legislation backfiring on the meat and dairy industry. Does it have people asking, what are they trying so hard to hide?

NATHAN RUNKLE, MERCY FOR ANIMALS: Absolutely. Consumers should be aware animal abuse runs rampant on factory farms. Every time we send investigators in to these facilities, they find workers beating, kicking, stomping animals, even sexually abusing them. And this is absolutely unacceptable. The dairy industry and the meat industry`s response to this, you might ask? Well, it`s to shoot the messenger and to hide this abuse from consumers rather than actually take actions to address it.

We should have lawmakers working to improve conditions for animals, not shooting the messenger which is exactly what these AG Gag bills do. It`s safe for consumers to assume that animals are tortured in the production of meat and dairy and these AG Gag bill seek to hide that from their view.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And the idea that we -- we have no idea this is going on, your undercover investigators recorded this and, "We had no idea." I mean that`s absurd. That`s absurd.

This Idaho governor, Butch Auber, ok, just signed the AG Gag bill making it the sixth state to criminalize hidden camera recordings on factory farms. We reached out to his office for comment -- there he is. We`re waiting to hear back. We`d love to have you sir. I have some questions to ask you about this AG Gag bill.

Now, get this, Tennessee is considering an AG Gag bill. This is crazy. The meat and dairy industry needs more transparency, not less. If the industry really wanted to change their practices and eliminate animal cruelty, they`d welcome these investigations.

By the way, if you want to get involved, this is a consumer issue. These animals can`t speak for themselves. Go to Get involved, or you can contact your Tennessee legislators and tell them, say no to "AG Gag".

You know, Nathan, what about this whole notion every time you go undercover, you find cruelty. And every time you find cruelty, whatever company it is, they always say we had no idea. We had no idea. We condemn that.

RUNKLE: Well, it`s absolutely outrageous. These animals are treated as meat and milk-producing machines. Their lives are filled with misery and depravation. The only thing that these factory farmers seem to care about is profit. Animal welfare isn`t even on the map, we oftentimes find. We find animals thrown away while they`re still alive into trash cans, beaten mercilessly.

This is an industry that wants to operate in secrecy. We can`t let that happen.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: These are pig gestation crates. These animals don`t even have room to turn around. If you did this to a dog, you would be charged with animal cruelty. Something is wrong here. This is a consumer issue. Americans, you`re decent people. Speak up for these voiceless animals.

"Nancy Grace" is up next.