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Johnny Cash`s Great-niece Stabbed to Death; Cops Arrest Alleged Toe Sucker
Aired March 21, 2014 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s like an animal. He`s a killing machine. And he would continue to kill if we had not stopped him.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST: Tonight, breaking news. A grisly murder strikes country music royalty. The great-niece of legend Johnny Cash found stabbed to death inside her Tennessee home.
Good evening. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell.
This is so sad. Joining me exclusively tonight, victim Courtney Cash`s grandfather, Tommy, the brother of the late Johnny Cash. The horror erupted with a gruesome discovery. The body of 23-year-old beauty, Courtney Cash, dumped inside a wooden trunk like the one you`re looking at here.
Cash`s boyfriend, who is the father of her toddler daughter, was also stabbed, but he managed to escape alive. And he got the child to safety. What made this beautiful young couple the Target of a life-long criminal?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A mother murdered, a father injured. Courtney Cash, the great-niece of the late country-music legend Johnny Cash.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Investigators found her mangled body inside a cedar chest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An altercation ensued, and that`s when the stabbing occurred.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They had to wear hazmat suits to avoid the blood.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her boyfriend was also stabbed but managed to drive himself to a local hospital.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re all in shock. It`s devastating for something like this to happen. You know, especially next door.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In an attack that may have been fueled by drugs.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is Wayne Masciarella, the man charged with murdering Courtney Cash.
Police say on Tuesday, Courtney and her boyfriend had gone out with his friend, Wayne, who, by the way, has a long rap sheet involving drugs and violence. The three of them, according to police, came home at about 3 or 4 in the morning, and then things took a very nasty turn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF DAVID ANDREWS, PUTNAM COUNTY, TENNESSEE: They were out together Tuesday night. What they were doing, we`re not sure yet. But they came home and sometime about 3, 4 a.m. in the morning an altercation broke out. And from basically what we`ve learned so far, we do believe there`s a meth collection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Cash was stabbed multiple times. She died right there inside her home. Her boyfriend was also stabbed, but he managed to grab their 18-month-old daughter, who was not hurt, thankfully, and he raced out the door. The boyfriend then called 911 and drove himself to the hospital.
That`s the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the late country music pioneer Johnny Cash is the victim`s great-uncle. Courtney`s grandfather is Johnny Cash`s brother.
Here`s one of Cash`s most enduring hits.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(MUSIC: JOHNNY CASH, "RING OF FIRE")
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Is having the last name "Cash" what drew this dangerous suspect into Courtney`s life?
Straight out to our exclusive guest, Tommy Cash, the brother of the late Johnny Cash and the grandfather of the victim Courtney Cash.
First of all, sir, we are so very sorry for your loss. Our deepest condolences. My heart goes out to you and your family. How did you first find out that your granddaughter had been attacked and indeed murdered?
TOMMY CASH, COURTNEY`S GRANDFATHER (via phone): Yes. My other granddaughter, Cara (ph) Cash, called me on my cell phone on Thursday afternoon, I guess, about 3 p.m., and that`s the way I learned that she had been killed.
She was a wonderful human being. A great person. Very talented. Very smart. I can`t understand why anybody would want to kill her.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And so beautiful. And the mother of an 18-month-old daughter, who thank God, is OK tonight.
Do you know what is happening with that child, given that the child`s father raced to the hospital, and we don`t know at this point whether he`s out of the hospital or not?
CASH: I don`t know for sure if he is. But the baby is with Cindy Cash, the grandmother, and with the grandmother and the grandfather. And we are just thankful that the baby is safe. And hope that justice will be done in this case.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I know you want justice. And we have to talk about this suspect. He has a rap sheet a mile long.
You know, so often when people have a famous last name, there are those who will want to insinuate themselves into their lives. And of course, I`m speaking about your beautiful granddaughter, Courtney.
This suspect, who was purportedly a friend of Courtney`s, has been arrested half a dozen times in different counties in Tennessee. He`s tonight charged with first-degree murder in Courtney`s death. More charges are expected. But past arrests includes drug possession, aggravated assault, domestic assault, vandalism and theft.
And now I have to say that authorities have announced that there`s a meth connection. So I want to ask you, and I know, you know, this has got to be difficult for you to absorb all this, but how did this man, this man with this rap sheet, do you have any idea how he insinuated himself into your granddaughter`s life?
CASH: They were friends in high school. And they have been communicating with each other ever since.
And he is a troubled person. And I don`t understand why anybody would want to kill her, especially him, because I thought he thought a lot of her. And was very fond of her and her talents. I don`t know the answers to why, when, or where. We are all devastated as a family. And we`re going to miss her always.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And I believe you said, sir, that this suspect had known Courtney since high school? Is that what you said, sir?
CASH: Yes. That`s right.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my God.
CASH: I meant to mention that the baby -- the baby`s father is my son, Mark Alan Cash. And he is devastated, as well as all of us are.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I just want to say that my heart goes out to your entire family, sir. I`m so sorry that we`re speaking on this very, very tragic occasion. And we`re going to do everything we can to get to the bottom of why this happened, and talk to now the sheriff about motive. So Tommy Cash, again, our deepest condolences, sir.
We want to go out to Putnam County Sheriff David Andrews. We`ve just outlined the suspect`s lengthy rap sheet. I have to ask you the question on everybody`s mind: What made you suspect a meth connection in this case?
ANDREWS (via phone): Based on the initial interview that was conducted by the White County Sheriff` Office, the surviving victim spoke of it in his interview.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: In what sense? I mean, here`s what I don`t understand about the case. And the timeline particularly.
They go out, the three of them, and now we`re learning from the family, from Mr. Cash, that they`ve known each other, at least this friend, this suspect -- some friend, right? -- and the victim had known each other since high school. So she and her boyfriend go out with this so-called friend.
They come back at 3 in the morning. A fight breaks out. But it`s really around 10:40 the next morning that the 911 call is made. So what was happening all that time for at least five hours, sir?
ANDREWS: I can`t go into a lot of detail. But I think the -- the homicide occurred probably around 3 or 4 a.m. in the morning. The boyfriend was there with the suspect. And it`s my opinion at this point that he was looking for a way to get away with his child. And did not get that opportunity until in the morning sometime.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. And my final question, sir, is there was an 18- month-old child there. Now, they`re out until 3 or 4 in the morning. And they come back, and they have this altercation, and then ultimately the boyfriend is able -- William Johnson is able to take his child and get out, even though Courtney has been stabbed.
Who was watching the child while they were out? Did they take the toddler with them and then bring this toddler back at 3 in the morning? Or was there somebody else, like a babysitter who might be an additional witness?
ANDREWS: There is no one else involved that we know of at this point. And again, it is still an active investigation. But as of today, we know of no one else. So we would just assume the child was with them. And we think at this point that during a lot of this -- the child may have very well have been watching a movie.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Had been left at a movie? Or watching a movie at home?
ANDREWS: Watching. Watching.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Watching a movie. OK. So were there drug paraphernalia found at the home? Was there meth found at the home? Is this suspect a known meth dealer?
ANDREWS: He has a -- he has a meth history. That`s about all I can go into about his drug use. But no, there was no meth lab found at the house.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, thank you so much, sir. And I appreciate you taking the time. I know that this is very, very disturbing for everyone. I mean, possibly the most famous man ever to come out of this state. And now this tragedy associated with it. Thank you, Sheriff.
Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, what do you make of it?
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I don`t know where to begin, Jane. It doesn`t make sense to me that a child, 18 months, is watching a movie someplace, alone? Or with somebody that we haven`t heard about yet? There`s a stabbing at 3 or 4 in the morning and no 911 call until 10 in the morning? Wow!
I mean, I understand meth makes people crazy. I understand, you know, drugs can make a lot of things happen that make no sense to people who don`t understand that scene. But this story, at this point, makes no sense to me at all.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Well, we`re going to take a very short break. And on the other side, we`re going to dive deeper with our Lion`s Den expert panel. What was going on during that time gap?
Stay right there. We`re just getting started.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, tragedy as the great-niece of legendary performer Johnny Cash found stabbed to death. There she is, this beautiful young woman, a mother. The child is OK. Her boyfriend, the father of her child, injured, but going to be OK is our understanding.
We want to go to the sheriff again. Thank you for joining us, Putnam County Sheriff David Andrews. Here`s what we`re trying to wrap our mind around.
We know that the suspect, who is her high-school friend, has a long rap sheet. They were out. They come back, Courtney, her boyfriend, and this guy, the suspect, who you say stabbed her.
But what is the back story here, Sheriff? Because we were -- we were investigating -- we found that Courtney herself has a mug shot. We don`t know what for. Is there a history involving Courtney, as well, possibly having any kind of legal criminal problems, drug problems?
ANDREWS: The only thing that we have on Courtney is a DUI conviction. It was last year. And that`s the only type of conviction we have on her, and that`s why we do have the shot.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And William Johnson, her boyfriend, also a clean record?
ANDREWS: He has been arrested, but I don`t know exactly what it was for. The shot that I have is just for a failure to appear in court. But he does not have an extensive record, as does the suspect.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I guess nobody understands what`s going on for hours, and how this child is being taken care of, if the fight erupted at 3 in the morning, and the 911 call is around 10:40. Is there any way you can clarify that, Sheriff?
ANDREWS: No, I wish I could, just for the welfare of the child, if for nothing else. But we -- we know that the child was in the home. We know that an altercation broke out around 3, 4 in the morning. We do know -- we not know at this point -- we certainly are looking into it, but we do not know what all the times (ph) were during that period.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, thank you, Sheriff.
Jon Leiberman, HLN contributor, what do you make of it? Because we`re getting these pieces in, trying to put together a portrait of just a horror show.
JON LEIBERMAN, HLN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I`ve been digging through the arrest warrant for the suspect and his criminal history. If you read between the lines in the arrest warrant, it certainly appears possible that the suspect could have killed this young girl and then kind of held hostage her boyfriend.
Let me just read you a line that I thought was interesting, Jane. It says that investigators claim he stabbed the female victim with a kitchen knife and did not attempt to get the female professional medical assistance. Then went on to attempt to clean the crime scene and hide the body to avoid detection. So obviously, this would take a certain amount of time, if indeed, as the warrant states, he doesn`t -- the suspect doesn`t ever call 911 to get medical assistance. He then tries to clean the crime scene, according to the warrant, then he disposes of the body.
It`s very possible that he was holding this boyfriend hostage, if you will, so that he couldn`t leave the residence until such time as 9 or 10 in the morning when the 911 call came out. If you read between the lines and the warrant, that`s what I get.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tiffanie Davis-Henry, psychotherapist. When you have a famous name like the Cash name -- nothing could be more famous in the country music world -- does that attract people who have other agendas, and often who are what you would call lesser companions is a nice way of putting it?
TIFFANIE DAVIS-HENRY, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: For sure. Anytime you have someone of some history like this, you always think, well, they must have money because their grandfather had money or their great-grandfather had money or the great uncle had money. So you kind of start to see that.
And certainly you want to kind of vet your friends and make sure that they`re your friends for the right reason. Now they`ve been friends since high school, so they probably had a really good history. And it sounds like from the guest that you had earlier, that there was no sign that something like this would have happened, that this person seemed to be a really good friend.
But drugs, as you know, Jane, will make you do some very uncharacteristic things.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Especially -- especially meth.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Evangeline Gomez, when I hear that they`re out till 3 or 4 a.m. in the morning, and I`m not casting aspersions on the victim here -- she`s a victim. But the child`s watching a movie, they`re out to 3 and 4 in the morning, and then an argument transpires and then there`s like some kind of possible hostage situation until 10:40 in the morning? Where`s the babysitter?
EVANGELINE GOMEZ, ATTORNEY: Yes, where was this child throughout the entire time? What was the mother thinking? What was the father thinking? And you wonder, in these situations, in my experience as an attorney, when there`s a child that`s left unattended, people are partying, there`s a fight, there`s drugs more times than not involved, and it`s just not the accused.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Although, Areva Martin, this woman is not here to speak for herself. She may have simply been loyal to an old high school friend who was super bad news. I think we`ve all been kind of in that boat, where somebody from our past is bad news and you`re trying to do the right thing.
AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY: Absolutely. That happens all the time, Jane. But as a parent, you know, we have a responsibility to our child.
And this is, I think, a wakeup call and a teachable moment for young women. Sometimes the people you grow up with, as they go in a different directions, specifically if its crime or drugs, you have to disassociate yourself from them, because you might be putting your child in harm`s way. .
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. But I want to stress that cops said no drugs found at the house. This is the suspect. This is the man charged with murder.
For all we know -- and I believe the boyfriend of Courtney Cash was a hero in managing to escape with his child and pull that maneuver. And in fact, the cops complimented him.
So again, our hearts go out into the entire Cash family. What -- what a terrible story. We`ll keep you updated.
On the other side, "Viral Justice." Surveillance video helps cops nab a convicted sex offender. But not before he allegedly assaults a woman in a Wal-Mart. And you will not believe the manner in which cops say he assaulted that woman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got anything to say about what happened at Wal-Mart?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She allowed him to help her try on some shoes. She said at that point, he took one of her feet and put it in his mouth.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anything you`d like to say?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, "Viral Justice." Cops say a convicted sex offender caught on camera moments before sexually assaulting a woman by sucking on her toes.
That`s right, cops say Michael Brown posed as a podiatrist student, somebody studying to be a foot doctor. He offered to help a woman try on shoes at a Wal-Mart in North Carolina. The alleged victim says before she knew what was happening, his mouth was wrapped around her toes. She was horrified. So then she says he offered to buy her groceries to keep her quiet. There are the feet in question.
Thankfully she ran with those feet to management instead, and they called cops. But cops say this wasn`t his only attack. Investigators believe he went to another Wal-Mart nearby and tried again with a second woman, allegedly telling her he was studying the feet of different races and nationalities. Oh, boy. But when he asked her to remove her sock, that woman ran away. You don`t want perverts preying on you while you`re shopping. It`s terrifying.
Straight out to psychotherapist Tiffanie Davis-Henry. Explain the sexual obsession with toes and how that toe sucking can lead to more serious sexual acting out. Let`s say the woman froze in panic. What might have happened next?
DAVIS-HENRY: Well, a lot could have happened. Obviously, she`s violated. And a lot of times the layperson will say that this is some sort of fetish. And in clinical terms, it`s not really a fetish; it`s more fracturism. Fetish is said to be inanimate objects, so things like shoes, or women`s panties, or latex. Where fracturism is more of sexual behavior, sexual acting out upon someone who`s unsuspecting.
And these women did not walk into Wal-Mart thinking that someone was going to put their foot in their mouth.
But I think, too, Jane, you have to have common sense. I have never been in a Wal-Mart, a Target or even a Macy`s or a Nordstrom`s where a shoe person, a salesperson actually put my shoes on for me. They don`t do that anymore.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I have. I have.
DAVIS-HENRY: They don`t do that anymore. Where do you shop, Jane? Because they don`t do that anymore.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I wear vegan shoes. I wear vegan shoes, special store.
It isn`t the first time we`ve heard about this foot sexual obsession. "Sex in the City" even did an episode where Charlotte ran into the -- well, we`ll call him the foot fetish salesman. Check this out from HBO.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because these beautiful feet are tired. And they need a little rub.
SARAH JESSICA PARKER, ACTRESS (voice-over): When a shoe fetish meets a foot fetish, all reason goes out the shop window.
KRISTIN DAVIS, ACTRESS: Well, I let him hold my feet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor. We can`t forget the toe-sucking scandal involving Duchess Fergie, caught with her toes in her financial adviser`s mouth.
I mean, this is a serious -- you know, we might be a little bit chuckling, but it`s a serious thing. If somebody is sucking your toes, that is a violation -- that`s a very serious crime that you will do time for.
MURPHY: It`s an intrusion into the personal autonomy of the individual who doesn`t want you in their space.
You know, Jane, I`m only laughing, because we do so many serious stories where the sex offenders are so grotesque. And I`m just sitting here, like how exciting is this? (LICKS HER OWN FOOT) It`s disgusting. Who wants to do that?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, my gosh, you just didn`t do that! That`s autoerotic toe sucking.
All right. This isn`t just a harmless guy. He`s a registered sex offender with a laundry list of arrests, including assault with a deadly weapon, indecent exposure, simple assault, and a second-degree sex offense. I mean, Jon Leiberman, this is -- this is serious.
LEIBERMAN: Well, and that`s what makes this offense that much more serious. This is a guy who has served prison time. This guy served three years in prison for attempted rape.
And as we`ve said a million times, sex offenders are recidivists. They don`t just stop doing what they do. And again, that`s what gives this case a layer of more seriousness, the fact that he has served hard time for attempted rape.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Evangeline Gomez, we only have a couple of seconds, but given that he`s a registered sex offender, if he`s convicted, I mean, are they going to really -- that`s going to exacerbate the amount of time he`s going to do.
GOMEZ: Yes, definitely. You definitely are going to see, from what we`re seeing right now, a conviction of assault, and who knows how many years in jail he`s going to serve? And is he going to be civilly committed indefinitely? That`s something you have to look at in the state of North Carolina.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable. Keep your mouth off our feet.
A Georgia teen dies under mysterious circumstances, his body found in a rolled-up gym mat. Cops call it an accident, but Kendrick Johnson`s family is saying it`s murder. They`re charging there`s a cover-up. Breaking news that could change the entire investigation, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Investigators believe Kendrick climbed onto these rolled mats, slipped his 19-inch shoulders into the 14-inch center of a mat to reach for his shoe. They say he got stuck upside down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An accident. We just didn`t believe it. You could tell he was beaten.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who do we want?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was the cause of Mr. Johnson`s death?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe, indeed, that he was murdered.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The official cause of death was positional asphyxia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was Mr. Johnson`s death the result of a crime?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only question we want to know is why they`re covering up for whoever killed their son.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t believe this was an accident. I think this young man met with foul play.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HLN HOST: Tonight, jaw-dropping new developments in the now infamous case of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson found dead inside a rolled-up gym mat. Has there been a confession? Tonight that very question is causing its own controversy.
Warning, what I`m about to show you is disturbing, but essential to the case. There you are -- photos of Kendrick`s body, ok, found just over a year ago inside the rolled-up gym mat. You can see his feet right there. The sheriff`s office originally concluded Kendrick crawled inside that small opening looking for a shoe, got suffocated and died. His parents call that absolutely ridiculous and accused the cops of a cover-up.
Now a CNN investigation has caused this case to explode on the national stage, with the victim`s family calling the medical examiner`s conclusion that Kendrick Johnson died of positional asphyxia absurd.
Here`s both sides.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We examined all the alternatives that were presented to us and the only one that fit the physical evidence and the forensic evidence and the testimonial evidence we received was this was an accident.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An accident we just didn`t believe. You could tell he was beaten.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s Kendrick`s father slamming the accident theory. He believes his son was murdered. Now, word of an anonymous e- mail claiming an ex-schoolmate confessed to killing Kendrick Johnson.
An initial report from the sheriff`s department said it interviewed two of the four students named in that e-mail. Both of the students say they knew him but they were not involved in his death. No students have been named a suspect. There are no suspects.
Meanwhile, the feds have stepped in now. And a grand jury is hearing testimony. Students are being called to testify so, is it murder or a very bizarre accident?
Straight out to CNN`s Victor Blackwell who`s been breaking news on this case. Victor, you got your hands on this January e-mail that says somebody confessed. Who is shooting it down and why?
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Jane, the Lowndes County sheriff`s office is shooting down this e-mail. They believe it`s not credible. I have the e-mail in my hand. I`m going to read you two parts of it. First this sender, again who is anonymous, says that "two students met KJ and killed him." That`s a quote. And they say that one student has been heard admitted to killing KJ more than once over the phone.
Now after those two interviews with two students of the four named in this e-mail, the very next day after this was received, more than a week and a half later, the Lowndes County Sheriff`s office through the assistant D.A. there in Southern Georgia subpoenaed the subscriber`s name through the Internet provider. The subscriber`s name, address, phone number. Now, that was the beginning of February.
Fast forward to just this week, when we received these documents as part of an open records act request. We contacted the Internet service provider, and they said they had still not received the subpoena more than a month and a half later. Later that day, the detective there in Lowndes County forwarded the subpoena and got the information and spoke with the student they say sent this e-mail and they determined what this e-mail was based on was a rumor and not fact. They, again, believe it`s not credible, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, gosh, so many questions in my head. First of all, just because something`s a rumor doesn`t mean it`s not a fact, a rumor can be a false rumor or it could be a rumor based on fact. So as they say information has no context. If it`s good information, it`s good information even if it`s based on a rumor.
The other thing that I`d like to say about this is, it called into question, I think, the investigation of a local authority because they said they subpoenaed the information. And it didn`t go through. Look, I`ve gotten a subpoena. Ok?
Evangeline Gomez, I`ve gotten a subpoena. It`s handed to you, boom. There`s no ifs, ands, or buts or did I get it -- didn`t I get it. Was it lost in the fax -- fax machine?
EVANGELINE GOMEZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Exactly. And if you`ve got verification that it`s served, that`s all that you need. This stuff that it took some time, it wasn`t processed, it just doesn`t make any sense.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It doesn`t. And then Areva Martin, the sheriff`s office is saying, well, nothing to see here with this e-mail essentially, right? It`s based on a rumor. This is the same sheriff`s department -- and correct me if I`m wrong, Victor, because it`s a complex case -- that decided that this strapping young man got stuck in that little space looking for his shoe, and suffocated himself. That is an absurd theory on its face. Why are we giving credence to the sheriff`s department`s conclusion that these e-mails are nothing to see here?
AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY: You know, Jane, everything about this case is troublesome to me. The investigation has been, you know, very poorly handled. Many of the witnesses who had firsthand information were not interviewed until weeks, and some even months after the incident occurred. We know what happens the further away you get from an incident the more unreliable your memory becomes.
So the only good thing I see in this case is that federal government has stepped in, the U.S. Attorney`s office is conducting its own investigation. I don`t think we can trust anything that`s coming out of that local law enforcement`s investigation. I`m glad that the U.S. Attorney`s office is there, because I think there`s a cover-up going on.
There are too many issues. There are too many facts. There are too many things that just don`t make sense in this case. And I just hope this is not another case of an African-American teen who`s, you know, been murdered, and the investigation is not being handled properly. There`s evidence from the medical examiner that there was blunt trauma.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Kendrick`s parents, as we`ve been mentioning, they are convinced this was a cover-up by the sheriff`s office. They say it`s obvious that their son was murdered. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s enough evidence to show that Kendrick was murdered. (AUDIO GAP) and they don`t want it to come out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: One thing that caused suspicion was surveillance video from inside the school. Kendrick died on a school day. We see him in this video. And there are other people around. Plus, there were kids going in and out of the gym.
So I want to go back to Victor Blackwell because you know so much about this case. Ok. So an e-mail comes out from an anonymous person saying, "Oh, somebody`s been bragging that they killed Kendrick."
And so these four individuals are named, two of them are interviewed. Well, what are the alibis for those four individuals? Were they amongst the kids playing basketball right there next to Kendrick when he was in the mat? Or in that area? I mean what were they doing at the time? Do they have an alibi?
BLACKWELL: I`ll tell you two things about these students. First, they were not some of the students you saw in the video when Kendrick Johnson ran into the gym on January 10th of last year. But I`ll tell you as we analyzed the 111 interviews from the original file, that was from the case of the Lowndes County Sheriff`s office, not one of the students, there`s no evidence in those reports that one of the students who was in that gym when Kendrick Johnson walked in was interviewed as part of this investigation.
The second thing I can tell you is that when the federal grand jury convened about a week ago, and there were several Lowndes County students who were called as a result of the investigation by the U.S. Attorney, two of the students who were named in this e-mail, we`re not going to give their names, they were also subpoenaed as part of the federal investigation.
So to your question about is there anything to this e-mail, the sheriff`s office has said that it`s not credible, but the U.S. Attorney has subpoenaed two of the students who were mentioned by name in this e-mail that they determined to be just a rumor.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t even understand why the sheriff`s department -- and by the way, you`re invited on anytime, the sheriff`s department, we would love to talk to you -- why they`re still involved in the case
You remember when George Zimmerman, ok, there were complaints about how the local police department handled his case when he shot Trayvon Martin. There was no charge, there were no charges. Special prosecutor was brought in. Then the local police department sort of recused itself, it went away.
Why is this local sheriff`s department still involved in this when you`ve got the feds and you`ve got a grand jury? We`re going to try to answer that question on the other side. And there`s so many more questions. We`re just getting started.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: The official cause of death was positional asphyxia. Kendrick was suffocated by his own body weight. But a second autopsy paid for by the Johnsons found Kendrick died as a result of unexplained, apparent non-accidental blunt force trauma, a blow to the neck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was indeed blunt force trauma to that area.
BLACKWELL: So he took blows to the neck?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He took at least one blow to the neck.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We found an area on a wall that appeared to be blood. We tested it, and it was blood. Then we did DNA testing and it was not the blood of Kendrick Johnson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So the independent pathologist hired by the parents came up with a totally different conclusion, blunt force trauma is what killed Kendrick; so an accident, blunt force trauma -- two very different things. And Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, we also heard that blood was found on the walls of the gym. So if it`s not Kendrick`s, whose blood is it?
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: How about some of those suspects? I`m just saying. Hopefully they still have that DNA. Blunt force trauma is not otherwise explainable. And you know, when you have a suspicious death and blunt force trauma, you can`t rule out homicide. You can`t determine that it was an accident.
But make no mistake, when a thing like this happens, the scandal that would, you know, befall this community and this school if it got out that not only was a child killed, but that it was racist in nature, wow.
So my concern is, the feds have been involved here since last October. Presumably they`re involved because they`re investigating whether there is a civil rights violation, if this boy was hurt because of his race. That`s a good reason for the U.S. Attorney to be involved. However, the U.S. Attorney can`t then prosecute, even if they determine it was murder, they can`t prosecute because it`s not a federal crime. It`s only a state crime. The sheriff`s office has to stay involved.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me get back to Victor Blackwell, is this a suspected -- is it anybody`s theory that this was a hate crime? Do we know? Is there a theory emerging about what happened to Kendrick? Was he bullied? Did somebody have a grudge against him? Did they get into a fight? A theory about what really happened?
BLACKWELL: Now, we can`t speak directly to the theory from the U.S. Attorney`s office, because he`s not making comments as this investigation goes on.
But I can tell you what we`ve learned about Kendrick`s time at school. Most of the people we`ve spoken with, in fact, all but a few, have said that he was someone that everyone liked, someone everyone enjoyed. You look at his attendance record the only day that he missed was the day that he disappeared, on his attendance record.
But I will tell you that there was one fight that was noted in the file, the investigative file from a school discipline report that he had on a school bus on the way to a football game back in 2011. That was the only one that was mentioned and that was included in the sheriff`s office investigation.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, it`s a total mystery. What really happened? And we know, you know, high school can be a very cruel place. We`ve all experienced it. We`re going to stay on top of this story until we get to the bottom of it. And find out what really happened to Kendrick Johnson. Excellent work, Victor Blackwell. Thank you fantastic panel.
And up next, you stand by, because you can make a difference. You can do something to make this world a kinder place. This is a breaking news story, it`s happening right now. We need you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hey, little Rico. Hundreds of thousands of animals just like you are in big trouble tonight; seals, the so-called dogs of the sea, being hunted down and slaughtered right now during Canada`s animal field harvest. Some harvest.
Why does this have to happen to these beautiful creatures? It doesn`t. But one answer is fur. Don`t wear fur, people. Canada claims the market for seal fur is booming. Now we can tell you seal fur was banned in the United States in the 1970s. The European Union just voted to uphold their ban on the sale of seal products.
We can`t show you the worst of this video, it`s just too horrific. The world has begged Canada end the senseless brutal slaughter. Paul McCartney, the pop legend, has begged Canada, stop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL MCCARTNEY, MUSICIAN: It`s disgraceful, and the Canadian people have been told when they`ve been asked in a poll that`s not loaded with all sorts of what-if questions, they are asked, do you know about the seal hunt? Do you want it to continue? A majority of the Canadian people say they don`t want it to continue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is making Canada look bad. Look at the face of this gentle, helpless creature. They can`t run away from these brutal killers. They`re stuck on the ice. Seals less than three weeks old cannot be killed, they`re saying. Oh, that`s an improvement? No, instead the babies watch their mothers bludgeoned to death and then they starve to death. The hunt is at its peak right now.
Straight out to Christopher Gervais of the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival -- you`ve witnessed the slaughter. Take us there for those who hear the government say well, it`s humane, it`s not so bad.
CHRISTOPHER GERVAIS, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION FILM FESTIVAL: Thank you Jane. Humane, absolutely not; not so bad, I would completely disagree.
It is brutal, it is shocking, it is something I hope no one has to see in their lifetime face to face. It is something that I will never forget, and it`s something that I sometimes cannot sleep at night because of the memories that I have seen. Defenseless seals being killed that had absolutely no means of escape, and it is not humane. Not by any means.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What tool do they use?
GERVAIS: They use something called a hacket pick and it`s essentially a baseball bat that has a pick at the end. The seal is beaten to death with that pick, and then the razor sharp end of it, they are then dragged on the ice. And in some cases they`re not dead, they`re still alive.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The seal slaughter is a horror, and you can help end it. These animals cannot speak for themselves. We cannot show you the worst of it. This is the man who can stop the seal hunt -- Steven Harper, the prime minister of Canada. You can speak for the seals and tell him to stop this hunt.
You can go to our Facebook page and find out how to contact the Canadian government and the international fund for animal welfare, and all sorts of organizations. Ifaw.org has a whole page that will tell you as well how to get there.
What`s so horrible is that we can`t even -- Christopher, we can`t even show the hunt, that`s how bad it is. They won`t let us show the hunt because it`s too brutal. Imagine that covered with blood. Imagine a baseball bat going up to one of those seals, boom, and pounding that innocent little dog of the sea in the head.
We`re showing the pretty pictures. Let`s at least show the still pictures of what happens. Let`s show the public what really is going on. And these are wide shots. When you see the video, it`s beyond comprehension.
And the economics are not there for Canada. These are fishermen. They only do this for a couple weeks during the year, right? The rest of the year they`re fishermen. They could do something else.
GERVAIS: Yes, it`s supplemental income. It`s income they only get for two or three weeks, and you`re absolutely right. During the rest of the year, they are living their lives as fishermen.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, why the heck is the Canadian government so stubborn? Is this just -- see that? Look at that -- about to come down on that seal. Is this just about, well, we`re not going to listen to the international community?
GERVAIS: It could be that. It also is they do not want to disrupt their way of life and their culture that has been there for hundreds of years.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A culture? Slavery used to be a part of culture. Women kept in chastity belts used to be a part of culture. We would put people in stocks. That used to be -- that`s no excuse. That is no excuse. Traditions that are cruel need to end. Thank you for bringing this story to us.
And please, I`m urging all of you who care about these voiceless creatures, and they are the dogs of the sea. Go to our Facebook page Jane Velez-Mitchell Facebook. Tell Canada, shame on you.