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Friends of Clara Harris Speak Out; Drunk-Driving Accident Survivor to Blame for Crash?

Aired January 31, 2003 - 20:00   ET


CONNIE CHUNG, HOST: Good evening. I'm Connie Chung.
She's on trial for murder for mowing down her husband with her Mercedes. Tonight, her friends come to her defense.

ANNOUNCER: Clara Harris on trial for murder. An accident or jealous rage? Tonight, her friends speak out in her defense for the first time.

He's charged with abandoning a 3-year-old. Does he have anything to do with the disappearance of the child's mom?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Evidence that we have discovered during a search warrant -- certainly would lead us to believe that there was foul play.


ANNOUNCER: Tonight: missing or murder?

Who's to blame? A drunk driver loses control, killing all but one passenger, who videotaped the unfolding tragedy.


TERESA HEDLUND, CHARGED IN FATAL CRASH: I lost this man I love and I lost people that were friends and people that were like brothers to me.


ANNOUNCER: Now why do prosecutors want to put the lone survivor behind bars?


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I would like to introduce to you, my shadow for the day, Constance Banks from Booker T. Washington High School.


ANNOUNCER: This student's special day: What's it like to shadow the secretary of state?

And our "Person of the Day," always there when they needed him.

This is CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT. From the CNN Broadcast Center in New York: Connie Chung.

CHUNG: Good evening.

Tonight: The defense is getting its turn in the case of Clara Harris, the dentist and former Colombian beauty queen accused of murdering her unfaithful husband by driving over him repeatedly in her Mercedes. The defense argument: It was all an accident.

We'll meet three of Clara's friends who believe that. And they're standing by her.

But first, CNN's Ed Lavandera has been covering the trial in Houston.

Ed, I know the first witness was an important witness to the defense. He was the accident expert. Did this man make any dent in the prosecution's case?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's kind of hard to tell at this point, because prosecutors haven't had a full chance to cross- examine this witness.

But what defense attorneys are going to use is, they're going to use this witness to go right to the heart of what prosecutors were able to show in their testimony, putting forth several witnesses saying that Clara Harris did run over David Harris more than one time. So that's what they're going to.

They're going to argue that Clara Harris only ran over David Harris one time, and, therefore, much easier for them to prove that this was an accident, in their opinion, and that this is something that she shouldn't be sentenced to life in prison for.

CHUNG: What's his reasoning for why she only ran over him once?

LAVANDERA: That's what this expert witness is going to be able to use.

They've reconstructed this accident. And they're going to try to follow the path and rebuild the path that the car took in that parking lot. And they're hoping that, through that, they're going to be able to show that perhaps it was physically impossible for the car to reach the location where David's body was left.

So, you can kind of backtrack from there, saying that, if the car was going in a circle and David's body is outside of that circle, how could they have hit him more than just -- more than once?

CHUNG: All right.

One of the witnesses who will be testifying sometime next week is Gail Bridges, the mistress. And that really surprises me, Ed. Why would the defense call her?

LAVANDERA: Well, everything that I've gathered, from speaking with defense attorneys, and the kinds of questioning that they've been putting forth so far, is that they are going to try very hard to paint this -- a portrait of Clara Harris as a woman who had tried everything she possibly could to save her marriage.

And they want to try to make her as sympathetic as possible, so, having the -- quote -- "other woman" on the witness stand up there and to show -- remember, the day that this happened, Clara Harris was under the impression, they say, that David Harris was about to end his relationship with Gail Bridges. And that obviously didn't happen. And that's their reasoning behind why Clara Harris had such an emotional outburst on July 24 last year.

So, they're going to try to paint a very emotional picture, a very sympathetic portrait of Clara Harris.

CHUNG: Did you get any gauge of how the jury was reacting today?

LAVANDERA: Well, today was a very difficult day in terms of the kind of testimony.

The hearings that we talked about last night, they've gone through this process of trying to certify these expert witnesses and the kind of evidence that they would be able to present. Quite frankly, it was rather tedious at times. So, there was one juror in particular who was dozing off. And it was very slow this morning. But, clearly, after the expert witnesses started testifying, things picked up, I imagine, for them.

CHUNG: All right, Ed Lavandera in Houston, thank you.

Joining us now: three friends of Clara Harris who have been following the trial, Shelly Canada, Gina Blanchard, and Amy Redus.

Thank you all for being with us.

Shelly, how well do you know Clara Harris and how long have you known her?

SHELLY CANADA, FRIEND OF CLARA HARRIS: I was probably the first person in Houston to meet Clara when she came and interviewed at the Texas Medical Center, where I was a resident. That was in the winter of 1989.

We toured. I got to know her for a couple of hours. And I fell instantly in love with this beautiful woman that was everything you could want in a friend. I've known Clara socially, professionally. I was president of the dental association that she was a member of. So, we saw each other many numerous times. We have very many mutual friends. All of my friends know Clara. I've just always been with her.

CHUNG: Were you close enough that she would have told you that her husband was having an affair? CANADA: She told none of us, because this happened in such a short amount of time. Really, Clara was just trying to come to grips with it herself.

CHUNG: Did you know that something was wrong, though?

CANADA: No. I really -- I didn't.

CHUNG: Gina, how well do you know Clara? And can you tell us, did she ever confide in you regarding her husband's extracurricular activities?

GINA BLANCHARD, FRIEND OF CLARA HARRIS: No. We never -- I've known Clara for 11 years. And we never had an opportunity to discuss what was going on.

CHUNG: Well, did you notice, of course, that she had dyed her hair blonde and she was going to work out a lot more? She was doing all of these sort of self-improvement activities. Did that make you wonder?

BLANCHARD: No. She always took care of herself. And she had her hair -- actually, it was lightened prior to all of this. So that wasn't a big change.

CHUNG: Did you talk to her after she ran over her husband?

BLANCHARD: Yes. I did get to see Clara.

CHUNG: What did she tell you about what happened?

BLANCHARD: At the moment, I don't recall, just that she was -- felt terrible about the whole thing. But I don't know the details. I don't remember.

CHUNG: Amy, how well do you know Clara? And how would you describe your relationship with her?

AMY REDUS, FRIEND OF CLARA HARRIS: We go to church together. Her and the Harris family all go to our church. I just know her mainly through church.

CHUNG: How long have you known her?

REDUS: They've been going to our church for about 10 years.

CHUNG: All right. Did she ever confide in you regarding her -- the affair that her husband was having?


CHUNG: Did she talk to you after she ran over her husband?


CHUNG: What did she tell you? REDUS: I just -- we talked as friends. And I trust that she said it was an accident. And, as friends, we just didn't -- it's not something we talked about. I just wanted her to know that I was there for her.

CHUNG: Did you know her stepdaughter Lindsey?

REDUS: I knew her from church, yes.

CHUNG: The question is -- Lindsey testified. And there was really quite damaging testimony, I think, everyone would agree.

Is Lindsey the type of girl who might fabricate quotes that she heard from Clara? Because, indeed, she said that Clara said, "I could kill him and get away with it."

REDUS: I don't know her well enough to say that.

I just know that she was -- she's a teenager and she's -- it's been a very traumatic experience for her. And she may not remember things as well as she thinks or maybe -- it's just been so traumatic. I don't know that -- I'm sure it's just difficult for her to deal with.

CHUNG: All right, Shelly, can you describe the relationship between David Harris and Clara Harris?


It's -- Clara is a big romantic. And she married him on Valentine's Day. And she's always talked extremely well of David. I would see them at meetings together. And Clara and David were always holding hands. I would see them at parties and they were always standing together and dancing together. They also went through a very trying time trying to have children. And they were a real team through all of that.

I know that Clara and David strived so hard to have these children. And when God blessed them with two boys, David could not have been happier and Clara was in heaven.

CHUNG: There had been a report that David said that they had an open relationship. Were you aware of anything of the kind?

CANADA: That -- Clara is an extremely religious person and that is not even a consideration for Clara. That is such a lie, it's not even funny. That's not even possible in Clara's life.

CHUNG: When you found out that David Harris had been having an affair, what was your reaction?

CANADA: I know Clara. I don't know David as well.

David has been -- he's more self-centered than Clara. Clara's not self-centered in any way, shape, or form. And you know how opposites attract. And that's really kind of, I think, what David liked. He wanted to be the center of attention. I know the twins took away from a lot of that.

And Clara is an amazing woman to do -- to take care of twins, to have a dental practice, and to be a loving, considerate wife. A woman just can only do so much. And to be that observant that David was having this affair, I think it just got past her. I mean, they were building a practice together. Clara was going to move into the new practice and be much closer to home, so she could spend more time with David and more time with the boys.

And they had dreams that they were building. And Clara was very into doing this with David. It was like their project together. And she never even saw this coming at her from the side. This completely hit her by unbelievable, total surprise.

CHUNG: Did you talk to her after she did discover that David Harris had an affair?

CANADA: I talked with Clara many times after this.

CHUNG: You mean after the accident?

CANADA: After the accident.

Immediately, we were in complete, total shock. I wrote Clara a very touching letter that Clara tells me she reads from time to time to keep her strength up. But she has -- Clara is not the kind to ever tell you about her problems. She's always concerned about you. And so we had to really drag a lot out of Clara, because she, at first, just couldn't even believe -- she was in a daze -- that this had even happened, because this is the last thing Clara ever wanted to have happen.

She loved David. The whole thing, the frenzy the week before this happened was all about keeping David in her home, in her marriage, with her children. They were a team. This was the love of her life. She never wanted to hurt him. Never. I know that 100 percent. I stayed up until 4:00 in the morning one night asking Clara every question I knew, even asking her what Lindsey had said, what was her answer.

Clara answered every single thing to my 100 percent satisfaction or I would not be sitting here right now.

CHUNG: Did she tell you that she said to Lindsey, as Lindsey testified, I could kill him and get away with it?

CANADA: Connie, I've said that about my husband so many times.


CANADA: And you say it in jest. She did not tell me she said that. But, I mean, I've said that.

You have an argument with someone. They've put you through intense stress. And you just say it as kind of a joke release, a stress release or -- I know Clara didn't mean that, because she was in a panic to get David back and keep him in her life. I mean, she loves him. There's nothing she'd ever do to hurt him.

CHUNG: Do you know Lindsey fairly well?

CANADA: I don't know Lindsey at all. She would only come in the summertime. And, usually, they would have some kind of summer projects. And summertime is very busy for my life as well. So, I didn't really get to see any of them at all this summer.

CHUNG: Shelly, do you know why Clara brought her stepdaughter Lindsey in so much into this investigation of the mistress?

CANADA: Oh, yes, I do, because everyone in Clara's immediate circle knew about the affair. And when one of Clara's closest friends confronted David and told him: You have a choice. Either you tell her this week or I will.

When Clara found out that everyone knew about this, she didn't feel like she could turn to anyone else. That's why I think she didn't call us immediately that week before. She just could only see that she had to change and be this thing that David wanted. And Clara is a one-in-a-million kind of person. She does not have to change anything she is. She is beautiful. And it's so sad to see her portrayed this way with the media.

CHUNG: Portrayed what way, Shelly?

CANADA: As a cold-blooded killer. Clara doesn't even know how to spell that word. She could never be that way.

CHUNG: Shelly, there are some wives who seem to be insanely jealous. Is that the kind of person Clara is or was?

CANADA: No, not at all.

Clara, I've known her for 13 years. If Clara was this kind of person, you would have seen it. You'd have seen some weird quirk thing. Or I'd have seen her blow up. I saw her in her residency. That is a very intense year. You don't even sleep most nights. If I'd have seen Clara being that way, I would have seen some inkling of this person. And there was none.

I am 100 percent behind Clara that this was an accident. She thought she saw David running away. She had no idea she had hit David. And she did not run over him repeatedly. I want to make that clear.

CHUNG: Why are you so confident, Shelly?

CANADA: I know -- I know Clara.

And I have asked her everything you could humanly imagine, Connie. There is nothing -- I mean, I am a very intelligent woman. I'm a dentist. I'm used to hearing people lie to me every day. Clara is not lying. I know it. I have asked her every angle of question to see if there's some weakness in her story. And there is nothing there. CHUNG: Has she ever acted irrationally or fly off the handle with you that you've witnessed?

CANADA: Never. Sorry. Never seen it.

CHUNG: Has Clara indicated to you, what would she do if she is found guilty and has to go to prison for life?

CANADA: Clara will die in prison. There's -- people like Clara do not survive prison. She will be eaten alive. There is no doubt in my mind.

Her mother will die, also, because her mother is in very frail health. Clara has insisted she stay in Colombia, because she cannot handle taking care of her medical needs. And I know, if Clara goes to prison, her mother will die. And, if that happens, Clara will kill herself. She'll find some way to. Clara cannot be away from her boys for life.

Why would you want to live if you can't be with your child? And that is just -- I cannot tell you how many times we've talked about this and I've seen Clara break down.

CHUNG: Shelly, can you explain to me why her in-laws, David Harris' parents, support her?

CANADA: Why do I support her, Connie? We love Clara. We know she is totally incapable of doing something this malicious. Even his -- David's aunt and uncle are in the courtroom every single day.

CHUNG: Don't you find that extraordinary? These are relatives of the person she killed.

CANADA: They're extraordinary people.

And that ought to tell you what kind of a loving environment Clara is able to put herself in. People who appreciate those qualities in a person are attracted to Clara, because she's so -- she's such a rare friend to find.

CHUNG: Shelly, Gina, and Amy, I thank you so much for being with us.

And still ahead: She videotaped the worst single car accident in Washington state history while she was in the car. Should she be held responsible for the crash?

Stay with us.

ANNOUNCER: Next: Police say this man abandoned a 3-year-old. Did he have something to do with the disappearance of the boy's mother? Murdered or missing?

CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHUNG: Police who searched the home of an abandoned 3-year-old boy said what they found there makes them fear for the safety of his mother. Jonathan Jacob Corpuz was left at a store on Saturday. And his stepfather is now accused of abandonment.

But what made police so suspicious when they searched the stepfather's home?

CNN's Thelma Gutierrez has details.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Jonathan Jacob Corpuz is only 3 years old. But this little boy, allegedly abandoned by his stepfather hundreds of miles from home last Saturday, may hold clues about what happened here in the Reno home he shared with his stepfather, Lyle Montgomery, and his mother, Jeanette Corpuz, who has not been seen since January 13.

JERRY HOOVER, RENO POLICE CHIEF: This is a missing-person case that we are treating the same as we would a homicide.

GUTIERREZ: According to these court records, Jacob told investigators his stepfather shot at his mother, but hit a dresser instead. The child also said he remembered going on a nighttime drive with Montgomery through the mountains.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Evidence that we have discovered during a search warrant -- and, again, I can't discuss what that evidence is, but it certainly would lead us to believe that there was foul play.

GUTIERREZ: An affidavit filed by police to obtain a search warrant claims Reno investigators found two large bloodstains on the couple's bedroom carpet and pad, which had been pulled up. Police have not said whether they came from the missing woman.

The child's biological father, Joel Corpuz, lives in Northern California. He says he's anxious for a reunion. Corpuz says he has recently spoken to Jacob, who's been in custody of a foster family in Salt Lake City since Saturday.

JOEL CORPUZ, FATHER OF JACOB: I tried to talk to my son from the social worker about two days ago -- I mean yesterday.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): And what was that like?

CORPUZ: He can't really talk, because he is pretty much (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

GUTIERREZ: Authorities say Jeanette Corpuz and Lyle Montgomery were on the verge of divorce, that they had a history of domestic problems. But Montgomery's attorney says his client, a licensed pharmacist, is not a violent man.

MARC PICKER, ATTORNEY FOR LYLE MONTGOMERY: There's a lot of accusations. There's a lot of innuendo. There's a lot of inferences. There's no facts yet.

GUTIERREZ: Forty-two-year-old Lyle Montgomery remains in a psychiatric facility in Reno. He was involuntarily committed after taking a combination of sleeping pills and alcohol.

Records show, when police confronted him Wednesday night, he was in a fetal position, with a firearm laying 20 feet from his head. Reno police are now focusing on locating Jeanette Corpuz, but are refusing to give further details today.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Reno, Nevada.


CHUNG: And an interesting footnote that tells you the kind of interest this story has generated around the country: More than 50 people have called area adoption agencies inquiring about adopting Jonathan Jacob, calls coming in from as far as Alabama. The little boy's biological father is working with social workers in an effort to take custody of his son.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair came to the White House with a message today urging President Bush to get U.N. backing for military action in Iraq.

Prior to the meeting with President Bush, Blair previewed that message in an exclusive interview with CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.


TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think it's right that we go for a second resolution, because that's the way of saying, this is an issue the international community is not going to duck. We didn't last November. We're not going to now.


CHUNG: At their meeting, President Bush said he welcomes a second U.N. resolution. But he reiterated his contention that the U.S. does not need such authorization.

The meeting was part of an intensive diplomacy effort aimed at firming up support for the U.S. if it decides to invade Iraq. The high point will be Secretary of State Colin Powell's appearance before the Security Council next week. The president was asked whether Powell will present undeniable proof of Iraq's noncompliance.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He will make it clear that Saddam Hussein is fooling the world, or trying to fool the world. He will make it clear that Saddam is a menace to peace in his own neighborhood. And he will also talk about al Qaeda links.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHUNG: Will any deadlines be imposed on Iraq? Well, the president said Iraq has weeks, not months to disarm.

And as we see in tonight's look at "The World in: 60," government leaders weren't the only ones speaking out on the Iraq crisis today.


CHUNG (voice-over): Top U.N. weapons inspectors said they would accept an invitation to return to Baghdad for talks ahead of the next weapons report only if Iraq provides more evidence of its commitment to disarm. The next inspections report to the U.N. Security Council will be submitted on February 14.

Investigators began sifting through the wreckage of a U.S. Army helicopter that crashed Thursday in Afghanistan. A military spokesman said there is no indication so far of hostile fire. All four crew members were killed.

In Italy, 28 Pakistani terror suspects have been arrested, suspected of being a sleeper cell linked to al Qaeda. Police in Naples seized explosives, maps, and manuals on how to falsify documents.

The U.S. confirmed its spy satellites over North Korea may have detected nuclear fuel rods being taken out of storage. This is prompting fears that North Korea is preparing to produce nuclear weapons.

It's the year of the goat. On the lunar calendar, the new year starts tomorrow, and festivities will be taking place throughout the world.


ANNOUNCER: Next: Why do prosecutors want to put the lone survivor of a deadly drunk-driving crash behind bars?

CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT will be back in a moment.


CHUNG: Now the story of a horrible drunk-driving accident that killed six people.

It started with a party. Almost everyone consumed alcohol. Then seven people crammed into a Ford Escort and went for a drive. As the car went faster and faster, one of the passengers, the only one who hadn't been drinking, screamed for the driver to slow down or stop. But, moments later, the driver of the car, traveling an estimated 80 miles an hour, plowed into a concrete pillar.

A passer-by called police and described the horrific scene.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There are three bodies in the road that have their head cut off. I'm going to go the car. There are bunch of teenagers. There's a person in the passenger seat. And she's breathing. I just saw her body move up.


CHUNG: Every one in the car in their teens and early 20s died, except one person, 28-year-old Teresa Hedlund. She was the sole survivor of this crash, who -- get this -- videotaped the terrifying moments before the accident. Prosecutors say Hedlund bears some responsibility for the deadly crash.

Even though a judge threw out the most serious charges, aiding and abetting drunken reckless driving, his ruling could be overturned after a review on Monday. It is the worst single car accident in the history of Washington state.

Earlier, I spoke with Teresa Hedlund, her attorney, Tom Campbell, and Kelly Montgomery, the prosecutor in the case.


CHUNG: Joining us now from Seattle: Teresa Hedlund, her attorney, Tom Campbell, and Kelly Montgomery, the prosecutor in the case.

Thank you all for being with us.

Teresa, let's go back to that night. Can you tell us what happened? You were apparently drinking with some of your friends, including your fiance. You were 28 years old at the time. Then all of you piled into a tiny little car. And you were videotaping everything. Why were you videotaping?

HEDLUND: I can't really answer that. The only time that I was actually videotaping was in the car. I didn't do the video recording in my mother's apartment.

CHUNG: Do you think your friends were playing to the camera?

HEDLUND: No. I actually think it was just all of us having a party.

CHUNG: Well, you know how people are when they know that they're being videotaped. They tend to want to do something for the camera. Do you think that they were doing that?

HEDLUND: I don't think anybody on the video did anything really -- I don't know how to explain it. They didn't really play-play to the camera. They talked to the camera, but I don't think anybody went to extremes to show off for the camera.

CHUNG: Tell me, Teresa, were you or any of the others goading the driver on to drive dangerously? HEDLUND: No. I mean, I've only seen the videotape. I don't remember anything that went on that night or what was said. I only can go by what the videotape shows.

CHUNG: Were you drinking a lot that night?

HEDLUND: You know, I've never asked my attorney what my blood- alcohol level was. So...

CHUNG: Well, was your fiance drinking a lot that night, and his twin brother, who was driving?

HEDLUND: Well, according to their toxicology reports, yes.

CHUNG: Mr. Campbell, why shouldn't your client be held responsible?

TOM CAMPBELL, ATTORNEY FOR HEDLUND: Some people act up for the cameras. Others shy away from the cameras.

It can be a situational type of thing. And here, the act of videotaping, in and of itself, I don't think does that type of thing. And, clearly, it wasn't a situation where Teresa knowingly did that and suggested to Tom Stewart that he should drive under the influence or that he should drive in a reckless manner.

CHUNG: Kelly Montgomery, just because she had the camera pointed at the driver's face doesn't suggest at all, does it, that this person was more drunk or had more alcohol in him?

KELLY MONTGOMERY, AUBURN CITY PROSECUTOR: That's not what the law requires. But I think it's a carryover effect from the party to the car. At one point, on the video, you clearly see the driver leaning in to the camera saying: It's me driving. It's me driving. Record this. Record this.

He wanted to be on the camera. And the reason the party scene is so very important to the theory of the city's case is that in fact the party continued into the car. And the same outrageous behavior that was depicted in the video at the party continued in the car.

CHUNG: Teresa, Jamie (ph), the only person who wasn't drinking, 18 years old, kept saying, according to this videotape, stop. Why didn't you try and encourage the driver to stop?

HEDLUND: Well, I had -- on the videotape, I do ask Jamie if she would like me to drive. And she says: No, I want Tom to stop.

She -- I don't know. Just telling me no, I guess I just assumed that it's not my place to say anything. It's her car. And she was 18 and able to make that decision. But I did make that effort to get Tom out from behind the wheel.

CHUNG: Didn't Jamie appear scared to you? And all you did was record her, instead of trying to help her or trying to get the driver to stop. HEDLUND: Well, there was other people in the car that didn't do it either. I don't know -- I don't know why. I can't answer that.

CAMPBELL: I think that that gets into the moral issue as opposed to the legal issue, quite frankly.

I think that, in retrospect, Teresa would have loved to have been able to make Tom stop right then and there. But, legally, it doesn't make her responsible as an accomplice that she failed to take some action to make him stop.

CHUNG: Mr. Campbell, you have seen the videotape, have you not? It's been described as graphic and disturbing.

CAMPBELL: I've seen it, yes.

CHUNG: Can you describe it for us?

CAMPBELL: Well, it certainly depicts moments in Teresa's life that are not her proudest.

But to call it graphic, I think that that's an overstatement. The scenes in the early parts are full of kind of a hip-hop lifestyle. And I think that that's disturbing to a lot of people. But other than that, it's really not that unusual.

CHUNG: Ms. Montgomery, aren't you bringing in all sorts of factors that you find disturbing and graphic? And, in fact, what this case has to do with is whether or not she was responsible. Did she help cause this accident?

MONTGOMERY: Yes, in a way.

But when you think of it, if you were to see the video, the party and the driving happened so very close in time. And like I said before, the best evidence that the driver was a showboater for the camera is seen at the party and then it continued into the car.

CHUNG: Do you think you'll be able to get the judge to overturn or change his mind?

MONTGOMERY: We will be seeking what's called a writ of review. It's sort of an extraordinary remedy.

However, I hope that another judge will look at this, look at the facts in the case, and see that her criminal behavior happened at so many points along this fatal ride.

CHUNG: Aren't you just trying to make her the scapegoat for a horrific accident?

MONTGOMERY: Absolutely not.

The bottom line is, she was kneeling there, un-seat-belted in an unsafe manner, filming somebody who was screaming for their life. We are not making her a scapegoat at all. Had she been sitting in her seat in the proper way, with the seat belt on, had she been not actively engaged in encouraging Tom Stewart to drive out of control and recklessly, then she wouldn't be here.

CHUNG: Teresa, in the end, do you feel some responsibility for this horrible accident?

HEDLUND: I will always have a sense of responsibility.

And my focus was not just on Jamie screaming and scared for her life. It was just a bunch of us having a party. And we were making the bad decisions. I will -- I mean, I'll never forget this. It will be with me for the rest of my life.

CHUNG: Teresa Hedlund, Tom Campbell, Kelly Montgomery, I thank you all for being with us.

MONTGOMERY: Thank you.

CAMPBELL: Thank you.

HEDLUND: Thank you.


CHUNG: Joining us now: CNN's legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Jeffrey, it is not only an unusual case, but, I don't know, don't you think it's a tough call?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Very tough case. I sort of changed my mind about this one several times in the course of...

CHUNG: Oh, as you were listening?

TOOBIN: Of listening and thinking about it.

But, ultimately, I can understand why the prosecutors brought the case. It's such a horrible crime. But I also can understand why the judge threw it out, because, ultimately, the legal system never deals well with the question of holding one person responsible for the crime of another. She wasn't the drunk driver.

The act of taking the photograph, it's very hard to say, as a legal matter, that that is what caused this accident. And, of course, she's the only survivor. We want to hold her responsible. She acted horribly throughout this whole evening. But did she commit the crime? I can see why the judge cut it off.

CHUNG: Well, there's another part to it, too. And that is, in that state, the whole question of being a victim or an accomplice. And she did suffer. She was in a coma. She went through just so much rehabilitation. So, obviously, she was injured.

TOOBIN: Right. And that is an unusual provision of law that obviously applies here, that Washington says, if you're a victim, you can't also be an accomplice. And that would seem to give her an excuse.

And, also, in the rough justice that judges and prosecutors always do, you do have to figure in that this -- Teresa did suffer, although, of course, she's alive to tell of it and no one else in that car is.

CHUNG: So do you think, Jeffrey, short of her actually saying on the videotape, "Drive faster, slam into that concrete pillar," it would have to be that kind of smoking gun, wouldn't it?

TOOBIN: It would have to be really encouraging the act.

I mean, aiding and abetting is a crime that it's often hard to -- it's hard to explain exactly how it works. But here, the mere act of photographing, though we know that can act as a goad, it doesn't necessarily act as a goad. And I think, if that's all you have, I can see why the judge threw it out. But, boy, you just hear about this crime, you sure want to see someone pay a price for it.

CHUNG: Jeffrey Toobin, thank you.

Still ahead: the stunning new lead in the search for a woman who is pregnant. She's been missing since Christmas Eve.

Stay with us.

ANNOUNCER: Still ahead: Did Laci Peterson make a desperate plea, telling a store clerk she was kidnapped? Why is this just coming out now?

CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT is coming right back.


CHUNG: Did a grocery store clerk in Washington state really see Laci Peterson the day she went missing in Modesto, California? And did the clerk forget to call police? Did husband Scott Peterson, who is still not ruled out by police as a suspect, really cut his hand, leaving a bloodstain in his vehicle also on the day Laci went missing?

CNN's David Mattingly has been covering this story and joins us now from Modesto.

David, did the investigators in Washington state go through all the surveillance tapes in that grocery store?

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that was the daunting task ahead of them when this clerk first came forward. They thought they were going to have to look at weeks worth of surveillance from that grocery store.

Instead, they were able to figure out when the clerk was there at the approximate time this sighting was supposed to have taken place. They whittled it down to about 45 hours, which was a lot more manageable. And they were able to take care of that relatively quickly. CHUNG: It must be so difficult for investigators to pursue every single tip, because I would imagine there have been so many. And you almost can't take every one seriously.

MATTINGLY: That's right. In fact, here in Modesto, the police have taken in 6,000 calls since Laci first was reported missing back on Christmas Eve, 6,000 calls. That's about 150 a day averaging coming in here to Modesto. They try to check out as many as possible.

But here's the surprising fact. They say that 92 percent of those calls -- 92 percent -- are of absolutely no value to them at all, leaving them with about 400 to 500 that they can follow up on.

CHUNG: David, at this time, are the Washington state investigators and the Modesto investigators taking this grocery clerk tip seriously?

MATTINGLY: Well, it was a compelling story that she came forward with.

It was, however, a little strange that she waited almost an entire month to tell anybody about this, or even the fact that she couldn't remember it until almost a month later. So, they were skeptical from the beginning. Particularly here in Modesto, they were very careful not to put any credibility into that report.

CHUNG: All right, David Mattingly, thank you.

Still ahead: If you won more than $50 million in a lottery, would you show up to claim the prize? Well, you'd think so, wouldn't you?

Stay with us.


CHUNG: These days, you might worry if you found out someone was shadowing Secretary of State Colin Powell. But there was no cause for concern, because Powell's shadow today was a 17-year-old high school student invited to tag along with America's top diplomat as part of America's Promise's Groundhog Job Shadow Day.


COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: And a couple of years ago, when I was chairman of America's Promise, my youth program, America's Promise and a number of other youth-oriented programs came up with Groundhog Job Shadow Day as a day when we would bring young people into the workplace and show them what work is all about.

And I have with me, and I would like to introduce to you, my shadow for the day, Constance Banks from Booker T. Washington High School.



CHUNG: And Constance Banks took some time off from trailing her famous guy to tell us what it was like.

Constance, thank you so much for being with us.


CHUNG: So you want to go -- you go by Constance, not Connie, right?




Constance, tell me, what was your favorite part of the day? Because you really got to have a day in the life of the secretary of state, Colin Powell.

BANKS: The most favorite part of the day was when I got to ride in his car and we went to the Marriott Hotel and he introduced me to the World Affairs Council. And that was the most funnest part of the day.

CHUNG: Did he tell you any secrets that you're not supposed to tell us?



CHUNG: Oh, too bad, huh?

So, he was your mentor. And you were sending e-mails to each other. Isn't that the way this happened?


CHUNG: Oh, isn't that wonderful?

Tell me, what did you think he was like -- I mean, you got to know him a little bit through the e-mails -- but meeting him in person?

BANKS: Meeting him in person, I know he is a nice man. I know he has a lot of business to take care of. He took time out today to talk to me and talk about what I wanted to do in the future. And he's an excellent and nice man.

CHUNG: Did anything surprise you about him?

BANKS: That I didn't know that he could take time out of his busy job and talk to me. And he had time to show me around this -- the building, the State Department. CHUNG: Did he give you any advice?

BANKS: Yes, to be successful and go to school, after I graduate, to go to college and take up my major, and just have fun and just be successful.

CHUNG: Well, you know what? I know that that's what you're planning to do, because you're going to go to Howard University right in my hometown in Washington. And Washington is your hometown, too.

So, Constance Banks, good luck to you and congratulations on quite a day.

BANKS: Thank you.

CHUNG: OK. Bye-bye.


CHUNG: In New York City, having a fake gun could soon mean real trouble, as you'll see in tonight's "Snapshot."


CHUNG (voice-over): Water pistols and toy guns may soon be banned in the Big Apple. The New York City Council is reportedly considering a plan to make possession of the toys a crime.

A court ruling in the war of the Welches: Jack Welch, a former chairman of GE, won a temporary court order to keep depositions private in the messy divorce with his wife, Jane. Earlier documents revealed the lavish lifestyle and generous perks Jack Welch received from General Electric.

Fans of "American Idol" and "Star Search" can soon turn to VH-1 to get their reality show fix. The music channel is getting ready to air "Destination Diva: The Search for a Superstar."

And someone has a Powerball ticket worth $51 million, but has less than six weeks to collect the prize. It could become Powerball's first-ever unclaimed jackpot.


ANNOUNCER: Still ahead: our "Person of the Day," always there when they needed him.

CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT continues in a moment.


CHUNG: Tonight: a guy who takes his job seriously, very seriously, is our "Person of the Day."

Every day, sheriff's deputy Phillip Cress of Marion County, Indiana, gets up and goes to work. OK, you say, so what's the big deal about that? Well, what makes Phillip Cress different is that he's done it without taking a single sick day, not once in 42 years.

The sheriff, Cress's boss, isn't sure that's a record, but he recognized the achievement at the ceremony awarding Cress a certificate of appreciation. He put a little pressure on his conscientious deputy.


FRANK ANDERSON, MARION COUNTY SHERIFF: We expect to at least get another 42 years out of you.



CHUNG: Deputy Cress started out in 1961, when deputies often had to work seven days in a row for a salary of only $4,300 a year. As Woody Allen said, 80 percent of success is showing up.

And today, that's 100 percent of being our "Person of the Day."

And on Monday: the professor who caught his students cheating by cell phone. Good for him, right? Well, could he now be in trouble for entrapment? We'll talk to him.

And coming up next on "LARRY KING LIVE": the cast of "Will & Grace," not that there's anything wrong with that.

Thank you for joining us. And for all of us at CNN, good night and see you on Monday. Have a good weekend.


Survivor to Blame for Crash?>

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