CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Brenda van Dam, Gloria Allred
Aired December 3, 2002 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight. Brenda van Dam, her daughters death touched the nation. 7-year-old Danielle van Dam abducted a brutally murder by a neighbor David Westerfield. Now, she faces her first Christmas without her little girl, while still wait for Daniels convicted killer to be sentenced. Brenda van Dam joins us along with her lawyer Gloria Allred, the civil attorney for the van Dam family. And they'll take your phone calls. And they're next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Brenda, we can only guess that Christmas is going to be very tough.
BRENDA VAN DAM, DAUGHTER DANIELLE, 7, MURDERED: It is. Every Christmas we have a family tradition. We usually go to the "Nut Cracker" ballet. My kids have been there three times. My littlest one is six. He went when he was three. He sat through the entire thing in awe. And it's difficult. It's -- every day is a challenge.
KING: Who are the other children?
B. VAN DAM: Derrick is 10 and Dylan is six.
KING: And how are they doing?
B. VAN DAM: They're doing better than I expected. They're very loving and caring. Whenever I'm having a hard day, they're there for me, hugging me giving me support.
KING: Gloria, your role in the van Dam chapter of life is what?
GLORIA ALLRED, VAN DAM LAWYER: Well, to act as their civil attorney, to advise them of their legal options in reference to Mr. Westerfield, the convicted child murderer. I want to say, Larry, too, I can't even imagine a more painful year in anyone's life than Brenda and Damon have had to suffer.
KING: Are they contemplating a lawsuit?
ALLRED: Well, they're reflecting on their options against Mr. Westerfield.
KING: Whether to sue or not sue?
ALLRED: To sue or not to sue. Looking at the upside and down side. But I think the most important thing is to know how Mr. Westerfield could be held accountable, and always in the justice system and decide whether they want to pursue anything.
KING: Does he have means?
ALLRED: Well, whether or not he has assets or may acquire assets in the future is a question. But I think the most important issue is how he can be held accountable in each and every way.
KING: The down side when you do that, you keep it going. The story keeps going?
B. VAN DAM: That is a down side. But I -- my biggest -- actually my goal in doing, whatever I do decide to do, is to make sure that he doesn't profit from her death. And there's a possibility that he may one day write a book. I don't think he deserves to profit from what he's done.
KING: Can he? Isn't there a law where you can't profit from a book about a crime that you committed?
ALLRED: There's a new law that's going to take effect in January, kind of, amending the old son of Sam law. And it will allow convicted murderers to write a book, but the victims should be the ones that profit from any book, if there are profits.
KING: What's the button you're wearing?
B. VAN DAM: This is the Danielle Legacy Coalition, which just changed in the last two weeks to foundation.
KING: And does what?
B. VAN DAM: It's pretty new. We are just kind of getting our feet in the ground. Right now the motto is child safety awareness prevention and protection.
KING: Let's deal first with the sentencing delay. How has that -- has that thrown you at all? Does it affect you much? You would have testified, right?
B. VAN DAM: Actually, no. We would have just heard from the judge on what his decision was on the sentencing.
KING: You don't have to -- you don't have to say anything at that point?
B. VAN DAM: We would have delivered an impact statement that day.
KING: That's what I mean.
B. VAN DAM: Yes, we would have delivered an impact statement that day but it's prepared for January 3.
KING: Are you disappointed, saddened? Does it mean much to you or not? B. VAN DAM: I was let down at first because it was one of the most stressful weeks of my life, just knowing that was coming and preparing myself and --. but now that I have been through that week, I think when January comes it's probably going to be less stressful.
KING: The delay was granted because the attorney for Mr. Westerfield, Steven Feldman told the judge he wasn't prepared for a variety of reasons. He had surgery. Usually they give lee-way, do they not?
ALLRED: Well, the judge was indicating, Judge Mudd, he was not happy about this particular situation, that he didn't like the idea of delay. That he felt it was important for the family and the court system to have closure. But he really didn't have much choice, Larry, because the defense had to have an opportunity to argue why Mr. Westerfield should get life in prison without the possibility of parole instead of the death penalty, which is what the jury recommended.
KING: The judge can overrule the jury though, right?
ALLRED: The judge can decide to disregard the jury's recommendation. Because only the judge can sentence, not the jury. All the jury can do is recommend. Generally judges don't disregard a verdict recommending the death penalty, but it is possible a judge could do so.
KING: Do you want the death penalty, Brenda?
B. VAN DAM: I really didn't care one way or the other as long as I knew he couldn't hurt another child.
KING: So if he got life in prison without parole, that would not -- doesn't bring her back?
B. VAN DAM: It doesn't bring her back. The death penalty doesn't bring her back. The only thing that we can do now is make sure he doesn't hurt anybody else.
KING: Meaning make sure he never gets out?
B. VAN DAM: He never gets out and he can never harm another child.
KING: What was it like to be in court with him?
B. VAN DAM: It was very hard to control myself. I wanted to lash out at him
KING: You were there a lot?
B. VAN DAM: It was difficult. But I did it for Danielle. I got up every day. I think the hardest part about the trial is when it was over. Because that was -- I was not busy any more. And I all of a sudden I realized that I had not grieved. I was so busy doing what I had to do as a parent, finding my daughter and then going to court every day, making sure her killer was put away, that all of a sudden I have faced with that part.
KING: Why did you go to court every day? There are some who say, I can't bring her back. All this is bringing -- it's self- inflicted pain. Why go?
B. VAN DAM: I wanted to go every day so that Danielle was represented. Somebody there -- somebody was there every day who loved Danielle, and I think the only way that I saw that I could deal with this was to go straight through it. I think some people may choose to go around it. I chose to go straight through it. And that involved going to court every day.
KING: What's been the effect on the marriage?
B. VAN DAM: It's very stressful. We have our very bad days. We're both on different pages as far as grieving.
KING: Death of a child in every marriage I have heard, this happens. Even accidental death.
B. VAN DAM: It's very stressful. But I think we just both take our own space when we feel like it's getting too tense. You know, he'll be downstairs, I'll be upstairs. And give ourselves time away from each other so we don't say anything we regret.
KING: Any fear of breaking up?
B. VAN DAM: It has been tense enough to where I thought that would happen, but then the next day you wake up and you realize you really love this person and it's just part of your life right now that's not normal.
KING: I'm not going to delve into it, but how did you react when another aspect of their lifestyle was introduced in this case that had nothing to do with the murder of their child?
ALLRED: I thought for the most part it was irrelevant.
KING: A defense mechanism?
ALLRED: A defense tactic. I thought there were wild accusation and distortions out there in the press. I think what is most important is the murder of this beautiful little girl, Danielle. And...
KING: I'm not going to get into it tonight except that you had to hold up through that right?
B. VAN DAM: Exactly, I had to deal with it. And what I chose to do was to keep the attention on Danielle, where it needed to be. Nothing -- none of the other stuff had anything to do with her missing. And so it was just ridiculous. It saddened me that there were people out there that wanted to take the focus off what was most important, and that was Danielle.
KING: This part of the culture, you deal with it all time? ALLRED: Yes, I think often it's a defense tactic to try to put parents on trial. Or...
KING: You been a defense lawyer?
ALLRED: Many years ago. And to put victims on trial rather to have your own client on trail. Try the police, try the victims, try anybody but your own client. It didn't work in this case because the jury found that Westerfield was the child murderer and they convicted him.
KING: How many days was there, from missing to what you knew happened?
B. VAN DAM: Twenty-six days.
KING: That had to be endless?
B. VAN DAM: It was very difficult. I would wake up every day and I would say, today's the day. I lit candles and I thought if I left the porch light on. If someone turned the porch light off, I thought, oh my gosh, you got to keep the porch light on because Danielle's coming home. I just looked so deep into every tiny thing. That I didn't give up until the very end when they came to my home and told me that...
KING: What do you say -- what do you feel when you see couples like the Smarts in Utah, who have never heard anything?
B. VAN DAM: My heart goes out to them. Because I know too well what they're feeling. And every day you wake up with an empty spot in your body. And the first night was so hard because it was cold, and I cried because my baby wasn't in her bed. And she deserved to be in her bed safe. And she wasn't there. And I just -- I didn't know where she was. It was so frustrating.
KING: Brenda van Dam is our guest, her attorney Gloria Allred. We'll be including your phone calls.
The sentencing has been delayed to what, January what?
KING: Third. We'll be back with more. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B. VAN DAM: I started looking around the house and looking under the beds and looking in the closets. And Damon came up the stairs and he started looking with me. We were yelling out her name. And then we went downstairs. Damon went out front and I went out back. But we couldn't find her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was it like getting being her father?
DAMON VAN DAM, FATHER: It was fun. She was very adventurous. She liked to try anything. She loved to help. She loved to help other people. She loved to be involved. She was so involved with Brenda and I and the things we did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: with Brenda van Dam and Gloria Allred on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Did you talk to the jurors?
B. VAN DAM: I did. At the sentencing on the 22nd, I went inside and sat down.
KING: You mean the supposed sentencing.
B. VAN DAM: The supposed sentencing. Went inside and sat down. And I looked behind me and I realized that the person sitting directly behind me was the foreperson. And then I looked down the entire row and everybody was there. And I got up and I gave them a big hug. And I just felt like there was so much support for our family sitting right behind us. And...
KING: Did you get into a discussion with them about the trial?
B. VAN DAM: Actually I didn't get to discuss the trial much with them, but I was out front when they all came out. And I gave each of them a hug and I am planning privately to get together with them after the sentencing in January.
KING: What's your scenario? What do you think happened that night? Do you remember seeing Westerfield earlier?
B. VAN DAM: I did. He was at Dad's. I did see him.
KING: Dad's is the bar or the restaurant?
B. VAN DAM: Yes. Yes.
KING: Did you know him from the neighborhood at all?
B. VAN DAM: I had just learned his name on Tuesday, actually. I would drive by and wave to him. You know, had maybe a hello, how are you, but really did not know the person.
KING: So what's your own scenario?
B. VAN DAM: I don't know. I don't know if he was after the babysitter or if he was after me. I just don't know. I don't know...
KING: But he went back to your house?
B. VAN DAM: He went back to my house.
KING: Do you guess? Do you think there was a motive at 8:00 at night?
B. VAN DAM: He thought we had a babysitter. And, you know, if you think about it, the babysitter would have been a teenage girl, most logically. But our baby-sitter would have been a teenage boy because that's who we have baby-sitting our children. I don't know what made him snap.
KING: Did you ever hook the two? Did you ever think that guy might have been the guy?
B. VAN DAM: Honestly, I think -- I think every mother has that mother's intuition and that gut feeling. And when I first realized she was gone and we were all out front and they had gone through every house but his and he was not home, I kind of had the gut feeling that something wasn't right, but I didn't know what it was.
KING: Had you warned your children about possible abductions? Were you the kind of mother who would tell them what to do and..
B. VAN DAM: Exactly. I did and I would ask them, you know, has anyone, you know, has anyone touched your private parts in any way or done anything to you that you don't like? And they'd say no, and I'd said, You realize that is your body part and no one is allowed to look at it or touch it except the doctor and mommy. You know, because I bathe them and stuff. And they said, yes.
And so she knew. And the boys know. And I would say, you know, if anyone ever hurts you in any way, you come and tell me. I'm going to take care of it. And I could just see Danielle saying to him, I'm going to tell my mommy. You know, and now that I think about it, I think children need to be taught how to get out of that situation. I have told my boys now that if something like this were to happen to them, they need to lie in any way they can to make that person realize that they're not going to tell on them. They're not going to...
KING: They're safe.
VAN DAM: They're safe. And once you're gone, then you go and tell somebody.
But when you're in that situation, you -- you're not dealing with a rational person and you need to lie and get out of it.
ALLRED: It's interesting, Larry...
KING: Nobody understands any of this.
ALLRED: No. No. It's hard to understand, Larry, and it's interesting at the last hearing the defense tried to argue that based on an unidentified police law enforcement officer, that -- who made a comment or was alleged to have made a comment in "San Diego" magazine that Danielle was hit, basically in her home and that was it. Trying to suggest that she was not murdered outside of her home but was murdered inside of her home.
That, therefore, there was no felony murder because there was no kidnapping. Because you can't take -- it's not kidnapping if you take a body that is not alive outside the home.
KING: Did the magazine say Westerfield killed her in the house?
ALLRED: Well, I mean, the defense tried to argue that -- that that was the implication one might draw from that quote from the unidentified police officer. The judge didn't buy it. And they were trying to argue that, of course, because then there wouldn't be the death penalty because there wouldn't be the special circumstance of kidnapping.
The judge said there was no evidence that she was killed in her home, -- that she was murdered, but there was evidence that she was alive outside of the home after she was taken.
KING: All indications are they're going to give -- the judge will comply with the jury and give the death penalty. That's automatically appealable, right? This is going to go on for years?
ALLRED: Yes. The...
KING: David Westerfield is not going to be -- have his life taken from him within two, three years.
ALLRED: That's correct.
B. VAN DAM: But you got to think about it. He's already had his life taken away. This is a man who was in total control of his life. Had to have everything in a certain spot and liked to drink his rum. And now he cannot do any of that. So he's sitting in a four by four cell. His life is gone. He doesn't necessarily have to die to have his life taken away. His life, as he knows it, is gone.
ALLRED: But if, as and when he is -- if, as and when he is sentenced to the death penalty, yes, it can take years. Sometimes four years, sometimes five years. He will have an automatic right of appeal to the Supreme Court.
KING: But you're not going to feel any better if he's gone, right?
B. VAN DAM: It's not going to bring my daughter back.
KING: Would you go to the execution?
B. VAN DAM: I don't think I would, but if Derek and Dylan are old enough at the time, I will talk to them and give them the option.
KING: We'll be back with more. We'll include your phone calls. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID WESTERFIELD, CONVICTED MURDERER: I was gone all weekend so -- and I offered to let them look through everything and check it. They were just walking through looking. They took the dogs through is what they told me. So, I saw them go in, so I'm guessing that's what they did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're the homeowner here?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Brenda van Dam. Her daughter would have been eight on September 22, was killed in February. David Westerfield, sentencing has been postponed until January 3. She's here with her civil attorney, Gloria Allred.
You wanted to say something before we take the next call?
ALLRED: I'm supposed to be wearing a blue ribbon today for Sally at Parent Help USA. I apologize I don't have it on. But
KING: Parent Help USA.
ALLRED: Parent Help Usa is all about child abuse awareness and prevention. And she has great ideas on things that she'd love to see happen as far as getting help for parents who abuse children. And trying to help them work through that. And actually if -- I think the statistics are high that if you were abused by a child, you grow up abusing your children. And so we need to stop the repeated, the chain.
KING: It's almost beyond belief how anyone could harm a child, right?
ALLRED: To those of us who love children, who are grandparents and parents or aunts and uncles.
KING: We assume it's automatic that you love your children.
Muscatine, Iowa, hello.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Brenda, Larry, thanks for taking my call. I just wanted to say that I did watch the entire trial and I commend you, Brenda, for your strength.
B. VAN DAM: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is, since the trial, have any other families come forward with any allegations concerning Mr. Westerfield?
B. VAN DAM: None that I know of at this time.
ALLRED: I will say, however, that in the death penalty phase there was testimony by a niece of Mr. Westerfield. Who testified that when she was much younger, that Mr. Westerfield came into her room at night and she was pretending to be sleeping. He placed his finger inside of his mouth and rubbed gums around her teeth. Which the prosecutor alleged was a battery and lude conduct on a child. Even though he was never prosecuted for it.
B. VAN DAM: She actually told her mother. He had a good excuse.
KING: Golden, Colorado, hello.
UNIDENTIFIED: Hi. Brenda, memories of Danielle must be overwhelming in your home. Are you planning on staying where you live now for any length of time?
KING: Good question.
B. VAN DAM: Actually, I am not ready to leave her bedroom. and...
KING: You keep it as it was.
B. VAN DAM: I keep it as it was. It's a different color now, but we keep it as it was. I go in there often and cry. But I just -- I'm not ready...
KING: Are her clothes there?
B. VAN DAM: Her clothes are all there, they are all in plastic, because everything had to be dry cleaned because of the fingerprinting dust. So I haven't taken anything out of plastic. I do eventually want to move and start fresh, but I am not ready...
KING: You keep her dolls?
B. VAN DAM: Everything's in there, her bed, her dolls, her journals. I read through her journals one night. Actually Dylan was going through the art box because our kids love to do art. And this piece of paper fell out and I picked it up and I was looking at it. It was Danielle's writing. And she had started writing a story. It said once upon a time there was a little girl who lived with her family and then she stopped.
ALLRED: It's really hard for her, to, to have the live in the same neighborhood that the house exists as Mr. Westerfield was living in.
KING: You go buy that house?
B. VAN DAM: I go by that house every day. People live in them but you never see them.
KING: There are people living there.
B. VAN DAM: There are people living there, but they don't come outside.
KING: Miamisburg, Ohio, hello. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello. I was wondering how have you been coping? Is there any mechanisms you've been using to try to get through this?
B. VAN DAM: Actually, I have very good support from wonderful friends and family. We were seeing a therapist for quite some time. And I think that we will have to continually see a therapist.
KING: You got to work on the marriage. In these situations, they're going to occur more and more.
B. VAN DAM: There's always something different that brings up, like the holidays. This is very, very difficult. For Thanksgiving we went to Sedona which is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.
B. VAN DAM: Arizona
That's about our sixth trip out there. One of the pictures you're showing on the show tonight is of Danielle standing on the rocks in a creek in Arizona in the summer. And it was beautiful.
KING: Everything's a memory isn't?
B. VAN DAM: Everything's a memory. Last night I was videoing Dylan and I rewound the tape too far and there was Danielle. And I just was shocked. I had to sit and listen to her voice. It made me feel so good to hear her voice. I go around saying her name just so I can hear it.
KING: Do her brothers talk about her?
B. VAN DAM: They do. They were sitting there with me and when they realized that she was on there, they both got really close and put their arms around me. And they knew I was going to get emotional. But as far as when we're doing something fun as a family, they'll stop and say, wow, Danielle would have really loved this.
KING: How about neighbors, classmates, do they come over?
B. VAN DAM: When I go to the school I get so many hugs from all of her friends.
KING: The boys are in the same school?
B. VAN DAM: The boys are in the same school. We haven't changed schools or anything yet. And so I still see her little friends.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Brenda van Dam and Gloria Allred. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B. VAN DAM: It's not on right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know if your father had any pornography in the house?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you know?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I found some on his computer and I found some on disks in his office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The stuff that you found on his computer, which computer was that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was the computer with the Internet access.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The one in his office?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How was it that you found it on the computer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the operating system that he uses there's a button in the lower left hand corner called the Start button which contains all the short cuts to your programs, and on one occasion there was a link there which was to a pornography site on the Internet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Brenda van Dam and Gloria Allred are with us. We'll be taking your questions at the bottom of the hour.
Brenda's brought along something -- you won't be able to see it too clearly -- but it was written by Danielle. She's going to read it.
B. VAN DAM: What it is, they did a little project in school. They each had to tell a little bit about themselves.
KING: What grade was she in?
B. VAN DAM: Second grade. They have a mask they put on it. So then other classmates would get to read it and they'd have to guess who it was.
And this was Danielle's. "I have dirty blonde hair. I am pretty. I am a surfer. I like to read. I have dark blue eyes. I am a second grader. I like math. I do science after school. I am a tall girl. My favorite thing to do is surf. My favorite color is purple. My grandma lives in Miami, Florida. And I was born in Texas. I have two brothers. Can you guess who's behind the mask?"
KING: Beautiful little girl. This is -- we'll be going to your calls at the bottom of the hour.
During the -- what was it like for you when the jury filed back in?
B. VAN DAM: Oh, I don't know. It just felt...
KING: Because they had been out 40 hours, right?
B. VAN DAM: They had been out 40 hours. I was glad they took their time. I think they were looking over everything. Which they should have. They had a really important job. But when I got that call, it was just wonderful to know that I was going to know that day. And I was very happy with the verdict.
KING: Did you ever have doubts that he was the killer?
B. VAN DAM: No.
KING: Was there ever a moment in the trial where someone introduced something that caused you to say, Maybe it's not him?
B. VAN DAM: No. I think there was a lot of smoke being blown around to try and, you know, cover up the eyes of a few jurors that might hang up things.
But I never thought for an instant that he was innocent. But it wasn't until the day that evidence came out that there were fibers in her hair that were found on his headboard in his motor home and they matched that it just killed me to know that my precious little angel was hurt by him.
I just wanted to go and hurt him right back. I had to leave the court room. I kept dropping my purse. I couldn't function.
ALLRED: And I want to say I know how hard this is on Damon, who couldn't be here tonight, Danielle's father and Brenda's husband. They've been so courageous through this. It's hard for any of us who haven't suffered this to imagine how anyone gets through this. They've showed tremendous courage.
KING: Have you shown studies on people like this?
ALLRED: I think there needs to be more.
B. VAN DAM: Are you talking about sex offenders?
KING: I'm sure there are studies. I'm sure people have interviewed them. B. VAN DAM: I want to tell you one of the hardest things for Damon is knowing that her last few hours was really bad. He adores his children. He's a wonderful father. And that kills him daily. It just eats him alive, to know that she was hurt.
My father, when he came to visit I was crying in his arms and he felt as a father you want to be able to take all that pain away from your child, and you can't.
KING: Have you explained it well to the other children? You say they're coping well.
B. VAN DAM: They know everything that has happened from day one. We have kept them informed.
There have been times like when we know they found a body, but we didn't know it was Danielle. They went over to a friend's house until we knew. And once we composed ourselves, they came in and we told them.
But Derek, I have talked to Derek about how he believes she died. He believes that when he was carrying her out, that he covered her mouth so that she wouldn't make noise and she couldn't breathe. That's where I'm leaving it until they're old enough to understand what else happened. I think they're way too young.
KING: They don't think she died as they were carrying her out?
B. VAN DAM: Yes. I'm not going to keep that from them. When they became teenagers and adults and they want to know more, I'm going to tell them more.
KING: Do you have any feelings of guilt? I should have left the door open? I should have done this? I shouldn't have gone out?
B. VAN DAM: You can always second guess yourself to death. I've done it. I've done it many a nights. I think the hardest thing for me was the fact that I walked up that night and I closed their door. We sleep with our doors open.
When I closed Danielle's door I had this strange feeling and I didn't know what it was. And I closed the door anyway. And I went to Derek's and closed his door.
So, yes, you can sit back and you can think that night, I wasn't really even supposed to go out with my friends because Damon was going to be out of town. It just so happened that he was in town and he said, Go have fun. I did it. I feel guilty for that.
ALLRED: I hope she never does have to feel guilty or that Damon does. The only person who is guilty here is David Westerfield.
KING: We'll get a break and come back and take your phone calls.
Paula Poundstone lost her children, through her own neglect. Got them back and will be with us tomorrow night to tell us all about it. We'll be back with calls for Brenda van Dam and her attorney Gloria Allred. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you could say anything to David Westerfield right now, what would it be?
B. VAN DAM: I would ask him why.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think he would tell you?
B. VAN DAM: I don't think I would want him to tell me anything. I don't think I want to hear his voice.
One of the questions if I ever have one question answered, it would be how he did it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Brenda van Dam and her attorney, Gloria Allred. The sentencing will take place January 3. The jury has recommended death. That's done by injection in the state of California, is it not?
ALLRED: Yes, sir.
KING: Lethal injection.
We'll go to your calls.
Jefferson, Louisiana. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Brenda.
What I'd like to know is, did you know or have any idea that he had tried to make an agreement, you know, bargain with the prosecution before they found Danielle's body? And I'm really sorry for your loss.
B. VAN DAM: Thank you.
Actually, the plea bargain was in progress when they found Danielle's body, so Feldman (ph) and Boyce (ph) were actually standing in front of Paul Finks (ph) trying to cut a deal and they found the body and Sergeant -- Jim -- Lieutenant Jim Collins (ph) actually was at the site identifying the body and he called Paul and said, We found Danielle and that's when they decided not to cut a deal.
KING: Gloria, what does that mean? Explain this to the layman. They were trying to get what in a plea bargain?
ALLRED: In plain English, something lesser than what they might be convicted of.
KING: So in other words, I'll tell you I did this if you give me life, right?
ALLRED: Or I'll tell you where Danielle is buried if you give me something less that I'm charged with. Yes, but then of course, then if the police find Danielle on her own, which they did, there's no bargain.
KING: Hillsville, Virginia. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, and thank you for taking my call. Hi, Brenda.
B. VAN DAM: Hi.
CALLER: After the sentencing hearing, would you like to visit with David Westerfield just one on one to see if he would talk with you to let you know exactly what happened?
B. VAN DAM: I actually have considered this a lot, and the day of the sentencing I would hope that he would see me. I do want to go to the jail.
KING: You do?
B. VAN DAM: I do want to see him. And I do want to know which day my daughter died. I think I deserve to know which day she died. The day on death certificate...
KING: You want to no details?
B. VAN DAM: I don't want to know details. I just want to know which day to honor her each year. And the day on her death certificate is the day they found her, which is not the day she died.
KING: What does it say on the tomb?
B.VAN DAM: Actually, her ashes are in our home with us. I couldn't bear to bury her. I had to have her with me.
KING: So you want to know her date of death?
B. VAN DAM: I want to know which day it was.
KING: Grand Forks, North Dakota, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Mr. King.
Brenda, I just wanted to ask you if ever you thought maybe in the time of the deliberation that you thought the jury might come up with an innocent?
B. VAN DAM: Actually, I never really thought that that was going to happen. And the reason is, as I sat in that court room every single day and I saw what they saw, and the only thing that worried me -- I can't say I wasn't a little worried about things -- the smoke screens that Feldman (ph) were going around and trying to confuse them. But they did a great job.
KING: Santa Fe Springs, California, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Brenda, my heart and love goes out to you and your family. I want to know how you feel about castration and maybe like Megan's Law and just tougher crusades to take away just these the -- they get pornography in jail. Just to not even let them even think of harming our innocent children and having access to any of that. And, like John Walsh, if you'll crusade to get these laws -- to get these monsters from harming our innocent children.
B. VAN DAM: I feel very strongly about the legislation, and I do believe in Megan's Law. But as far as the castration, I don't think that -- I think they can still hurt the children. I mean, you can do that to them, but it's all in their mind. And I don't think that's going help.
KING: Are the penalties tough enough, Gloria?
ALLRED: I don't think there is anything tougher than death or life in prison without the possibility of parole, but I think more can be done in reference to child predators and protecting against that. And I also have to commend Brenda because I know she's been very involved in child safety efforts and plans to continue to be involved.
KING: Castration a little barbaric, right?
B. VAN DAM: Well, you know, I think there are -- there are different things they can do. They can focus on the children. They should have something in schools that will let them know that it's OK to tell that somebody is touching you in that area, or that you feel uncomfortable and that someone's done this to you.
I think as parents we try to teach our children the right thing. I also think that just child abuse in general is higher. I mean, it's just -- I think we don't see it. You know, I didn't know that, until this happened to my family, I had no idea that this was happening as often as it is.
ALLRED: And of course, Mr. Westerfield was not convicted of a sex crime, but that may have been because there wasn't sufficient evidence because the time that her body was found, it had, you know, degenerated basically and there wasn't -- the genital area couldn't reflect any evidence one way or the other.
KING: Ann Arbor, Michigan, hello.
CALLER: Thanks for taking my call.
Brenda, I want to tell you that I watched every moment of the trial and to me, you are a beautiful, wonderful, loving, dedicated mother.
B. VAN DAM: Thank you.
CALLER: You're welcome.
And also, I'm a writer and I have covered a few pedophile case here in my hometown, during which I interviewed specialists. And it was so clear to me during the trial that this man is the -- fits the perfect MO for a sex offender.
I'm wondering if you have any plans to go public or do a sort of public information outreach so that people can look at and understand in their own communities who may be doing these sorts of things and prepare themselves?
B. VAN DAM: Well, you know, our foundation -- I have formed a foundation for Danielle, in honor of Danielle. And we are actually working on right now what I have to get together is our mission statement and what we plan to do. We're so new that we have...
KING: Do you have a dot com number or...
B. VAN DAM: It's daniellelegacy.com. I mean, dot org, I apologize. Daniellelegacy.org is her Web page. And we're working on setting up -- just trying to figure out what we want to do and which direction we want to go in.
KING: So they can punch into that now.
B. VAN DAM: And actually, you can punch into that now. And if you have any ideas as far as which direction our foundation should go in or what you think, you know, that you'd like to see done, you can -- you -- there's a section there where you can e-mail me.
ALLRED: I might add that Megan's Law is presently being challenged before the United States Supreme Court. And I can only hope and pray that it will be upheld.
KING: On the grounds that -- what's the...
ALLRED: There are various grounds that, I guess -- that it's ex pos facto punishment and so forth by defendants who were affected by it whose names were listed as sexual predators.
KING: When you get out of jail, you paid your crime, why should the community know, right?
ALLRED: That's the theory. Hope the Supreme Court doesn't buy it.
B. VAN DAM: Who are we protecting here? Are we protecting our children or the sex offender? You know? I mean, the sex offenders have more rights...
KING: Well, the argument on the other side would be, I served my seven years. I can't have a life.
B. VAN DAM: Well, I understand. I understand that. But I don't believe in it. I don't believe in it. And I think that -- I think -- if you go to daniellelegacy.org there are two petitions on there that we have going. And one is for the Two Strike Law and the other one is for Megan's Law. And I fully believe that Megan's Law should be passed. KING: Does your husband go to work every day?
B. VAN DAM: He does.
KING: What does he do?
B. VAN DAM: He's an engineer.
KING: And you are at home or do you go to work too?
B. VAN DAM: I have started back working. I basically work out of my home. So, and -- I just realized recently that I am burning the candle at both ends and it's very difficult and I am going to take a little bit of time off.
KING: We'll be back with more calls on this edition. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, in the above entitled cause find the defendant, David Allan Westerfield (ph), guilty of the crime of murder in violation of penal code section 187, Paran A (ph), as charged in count one of the information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: For the benefit of radioers we're showing pictures of little Danielle. Does that -- (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a good example of her personality?
B. VAN DAM: Definitely. When she would smile, she would skrunch up her face. That was a photo that I had taken at a gallery and I wanted to it be a Christmas card. It was the last year I could have Derek, he's actually in that picture, do anything like that.
And it said something like, Hope all of your angels are as sweet as ours this year -- this holiday season. When I sent it out, I had people calling saying, Is that really your children on the card? I'm like, Yes, it's really them. It was beautiful.
KING: Reno, Nevada, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Brenda. I just that want to say Jesus loves you.
As an educator, I'd like to know how the school reacted to Danielle's death and how has it been for your boys to go back to school. B. VAN DAM: The school was actually wonderful. Mrs. Wardlow (ph) is their principal.
KING: What's the name of the school?
B. VAN DAM: Creekside (ph) Elementary. She was actually wonderful. The boys stayed home for two days. She went to the school. She prepared everyone. She had told them what happened and that Derek and Dylan were coming back to school. And try not to talk about Danielle that much.
When they got to school, no one would talk to Derek. He's like, No one talks to me. So then she had to go back and talk to his class and say, You can talk to Derek, but let's just try not to talk about Danielle a lot.
I found that Derek -- Derek met a new friend this year who was from out of state. He was from Texas. Derek told him all about his brother. His friend was telling him about his sister. Later in a conversation Derek mentioned Danielle. His friend said, you didn't tell me you had a sister. Derek said, Oh, well, let me tell you about that. He had to explain the whole thing to his friend.
KING: I don't know how you -- I just don't know how...
B. VAN DAM: Do you know what keeps me going? I would so love to be with her and comfort her and know someone's holding her and that she's OK.
I wake up every morning and see those two beautiful boys that look at me. They look at me to guide them through their life. I have told them that my job in life is to guide them through their life. And they need me. That's why I do it every day.
KING: The caller said Jesus loves you. Do you believe? Are you a believer? This affected your belief?
B. VAN DAM: I do believe, but I did question it quite a bit in the beginning, because I didn't understand why something like this could happen.
KING: Have those questions been answered?
B. VAN DAM: Father Josh told me that it wasn't God who did this, it was man. And I really believe that now.
KING: Toronto, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Brenda. My question is that, I saw earlier the son's clip testifying in court. If you had met the son or spoke with him, what could you say to him?
B. VAN DAM: Actually, I saw his family outside of the court room. I deeply feel for his children, because they, too...
KING: They didn't do anything. B. VAN DAM: They'd didn't do anything wrong and they, too, have to live a horrible experience.
Actually, they have to live with the fact that their father is a murderer forever. You know? And so I feel for them. But, you know, I know that they feel for our family and they're not to blame for anything. They haven't done anything.
ALLRED: Child murderers just don't think of anyone but themselves when they murder. They don't think about the impact that it will have on the victim's family, on the community, on the family. It's a selfish, arrogant, criminal act. They need to know that it really hurts people.
KING: Unfortunately, children don't have advocates, do they? They don't have -- they don't vote. They don't have representatives in the legislature. They need others to carry on the fight for them.
ALLRED: They're voiceless, they're powerless and that's why they need advocates. Brenda would be a great advocate.
B. VAN DAM: We are supposed to protect them and be their voice. not hurt them. They look up to us.
KING: Did you ever think of this when you saw -- before anything happened to Danielle when you would see others come on television shows like this and you'd see fathers and mothers. Did you ever think of being in -- ever think any harm could come to your children.
B. VAN DAM: No. I think it's a 1 in a million chance that it could happen to you.
KING: So you don't think about (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
B. VAN DAM: I kind of wished I played the Lottery that day to tell you the truth because maybe it was my day to win the Lottery. Who the heck knows?
But I just -- every time I would see something like this happen, it was devastating to think that there were children out there who were being abused. Those videos of mothers hitting their children. It shocks me.
KING: Last call. Old Orchard, Maine, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. Thank you very much for taking my call.
CALLER: I was just called to ask Brenda, to give her my condolence. I lost a son, so I can understand it. And I would just like to ask how she feels about the cameras in the court room during the trial?
KING: Did you like that idea? B. VAN DAM: Well, I think more people were affected by that than the judge thought. People who testified in that hearing, other than Damon and I, because everything was, you know -- it was total chaos at the time. A lot of people were affected. I think it shouldn't happen.
KING: You wouldn't have cameras.
B. VAN DAM: I think if these people are coming to court to do a duty, they should not have their...
KING: You disagree with your client?
ALLRED: My view is all proceedings should be open to the public because the taxpayers support the court system. But I do respect anyone's right to disagree with me. I also have a conflict because my daughter is an anchor on Court TV, Lisa Bloom. I know she likes cameras in the court room.
KING: For more information, it's Daniellelegacy.org.
B. VAN DAM: And I'd love to hear from you. So if you have any ideas...
KING: Any ideas you have she'd love to hear from you. Daniellelegacy.org. Than you, Brenda.
B. VAN DAM: Thank you.
ALLRED: Before we go, congratulations on being chosen as one of the 100 Most Influential Jewish People in History. That's in a book that just came out. Congratulations.
KING: It's in a book. Influential.
ALLRED: Why not?
KING: Thank you.
B. VAN DAM: Thank you so much.
ALLRED: Thank you, Larry.
KING: We'll tell you about tomorrow night right after this. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night Paula Poundstone's with us. She's got her children back. They were taken away because of her alcoholic problems. We'll discuss that at length.
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