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Police Launch New Search for Clues to Disappearance of Laci Peterson

Aired February 18, 2003 - 20:00   ET


CONNIE CHUNG, HOST: Good evening. I'm Connie Chung. Tonight, police launch a new search for clues to the disappearance of Laci Peterson.

ANNOUNCER: Modesto police execute a search warrant in the home of Scott and Laci Peterson. What does this mean for the husband of the missing pregnant woman. What will they find?

Nightclub, nightmare.


REVEREND JESSE JACKSON: So somebody says poison gas, somebody said, terror. Someone says hit by (ph) lightening. And the fourth is (ph) the dash for the door.


ANNOUNCER: Were heightened terror fears to blame for the stampede that killed 21 in Chicago?

The North Korean threat. Are Kim's rhetoric and atomic ambitions a clear and present danger to the United states? Tonight, inside North Korea.

Defending Clara Harris. Tonight, family and friends speak out in defense of the woman convicted of murdering her husband.

This is CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT. From the CNN broadcast center in New York, Connie Chung.

CHUNG: Good evening. What were police looking for today at the home of Scott Peterson, and what have they found? Police, today, executed a search warrant at the Modesto, California home where Laci Peterson, 8 1/2-months pregnant, was last seen seven weeks ago. Police said the search was made necessary by unspecified discoveries during the investigation. CNN's Rusty Dornin has been covering today's search and joins us now from Modesto. Rusty, I know this is the second time that police have come and searched the home, but the first time they took not only Scott Peterson's pickup but his boat. What did they take this time?

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this time, it's very interesting, Connie. Because they took a car that Scott Peterson purchased five weeks after his wife Laci disappeared, a white Dodge pickup truck. The police did drive that away this morning. They've also been bringing out items all through the day in folders, and some things in grocery bags. We don't know what it is. We can see investigators through the slotted fence.

It looks like they've been searching also on the outside area around the pool, but we haven't seen them bring anything from the backyard. So it's still a big question what they're bringing in. They bring it into the van right here behind me. This is an evidence van, it can also be taken down to the Modesto Police Department. And they also have a forensics lab nearby that some of the evidence can be taken there.

CHUNG: Rusty, did the police surprise Scott Peterson? Was he home at the time?

DORNIN: Apparently, he was home this morning. They only described him as being very cooperative. He came outside, was in the yard for about an hour and a half after the police arrived. And then he apparently took personal belongings and work-related items is how they were described, and he left. Now what was interesting was about four or five hours after the police were here, he did drive back up in an SUV and handed police a piece of paper. We don't know what it was, it could have been related to the search warrant.

CHUNG: Rusty, was anyone else in the home along with Scott Peterson?

DORNIN: Well, this morning, I don't know anybody was in the home with him. About 12 investigators have been in and out all day. But it was very interesting, about noon, Amy Rocha, Laci Peterson's sister, arrived with investigators, was taken into the house, and was in there for about an hour and a half. Came back out, didn't take any questions from reporters and left.

What's interesting about that is that Amy Rocha was one of the last people to see Laci Peterson, of course, along with Scott Peterson. Because Scott came into Amy Rocha's hair salon and Amy cut his hair. Laci was with him. So she was one of the last people to see, you know, the clothes that perhaps Laci was wearing, and that sort of thing.

CHUNG: All right. Rusty Dornin, thank you. Now joining us, some legal perspective on what this warrant and search might mean, our own legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin. Jeffrey, apparently they needed a new search warrant for this search. What would they find more than 50 days later that could possibly be of use?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's hard to think of much they could find, because any person would likely get rid of something incriminating if it was there, if they had 50-plus days to do it. But, you know, obviously, they have been investigating. They have learned something that allowed them to go to a judge or a magistrate and say we have probable cause to believe that the evidence relating to this investigation in the house, the judge agreed, and said you could go in and look for it. CHUNG: So are we to believe that there is some kind of progress in the investigation?

TOOBIN: I think it is an indication of some progress. I wouldn't overstate it. It doesn't take that much to get a search warrant, especially in a high-profile case. But I think it is significant that here 56 days after Laci Peterson disappeared, the police are still aggressively investigating the case. And that in itself is something significant because, in some cases, 56 days just would be too long.

CHUNG: You know what I think I don't understand, and probably a lot of people are wondering, is why they would take Scott Peterson's second pickup, because, you know, what conjures up in your mind is, if he was taking anything out of the home or away from the area, why would he do it much later?

TOOBIN: It is very peculiar. I mean, this is a vehicle that was purchased well after his wife disappeared. I guess they are looking for something in that vehicle that may have been removed it, that may have been carried in the vehicle. But there is - it is peculiar to think that that could be of much investigative use to the prosecutors and the police.

CHUNG: Finally, wouldn't anything like hair or blood samples have been taken before, not now in the new pickup, not now in the house?

TOOBIN: That's what makes this kind of investigation so difficult, is that Laci and Scott Peterson -- who is obviously a major subject in this investigation, even if he's not a suspect -- hair, fiber, DNA, they both lived there. So it's unlikely to be very significant to find that kind of evidence, which is usually so significant in a missing person's case.

CHUNG: Jeffrey Toobin, thank you.

In Chicago tonight, a disturbing question arising from the nightclub stampede that killed 21 people. Has fear of terrorism alone become powerful enough to kill? Is that what drove a crowd of hundreds into a deadly stampede at the E2 nightclub yesterday? CNN's Chicago bureau chief Jeff Flock has the latest on the investigation.


JEFF FLOCK, CNN CHICAGO BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): In the alley, next to the E2 nightclub, there is a cross for each of the 21 victims. While some come to mourn, others' grief turns to anger and resolve.

RICHARD DALEY, MAYOR OF CHICAGO: The city will go to court today to file criminal contempt charges against the owners of the club.

FLOCK: Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, whose own mother died of a stroke Sunday, emerged from his grief to charge club owners for operating for months in violation of this court order that said the second floor should be shut for 11 separate code violations. City attorneys asked the owner, Dwayne Kyles, to be jailed.

TOM ROYCE, CLUB OWNER'S ATTORNEY: He's struck down by this tragedy. He's saddened. My client can't get over this.

FLOCK: Attorneys for Kyles and the club say when the order called for the second floor to be closed, it meant the second level skyboxes, visible in this video, which are above the dance floor, not the whole club which is on the second floor of the Epitome restaurant building. Some asked if there was a court order to close the club, why wasn't it closed long before the tragedy Monday morning?

REVEREND JESSE JACKSON: The events were advertised on the Internet, on radio.

FLOCK: Reverend Jesse Jackson, a friend of the club owner, tells me E2 never operated in secret. He says the blame is more likely to fall on the security guard who has now admitted to pepper spraying the crowd, and another factor. Some panicking over what they thought may have been a terrorist attack.

FLOCK (on camera): How much did that contribute to it in your mind?

JACKSON: That was big. When you combine a small fight and a big reaction, immediately, mace or pepper spray takes the rest of the oxygen out of room. So, somebody says poison gas, somebody says terror, somebody says bin Laden. And, of course, there is a dash for the door.

FLOCK (voice-over): This woman, Nakisha (ph) Blackwell was inside the club.

NAKISHA (PH) BLACKWELL, E2 CLUB PATRON: Well, some people was like it's bin Laden.

FLOCK: The fire commissioner says he's never before heard of a crowd being sprayed by pepper spray. That, he says, would be tantamount to yelling fire in a crowded theater. I'm Jeff Flock, CNN, in Chicago.


ANNOUNCER: Next, is North Korea a ticking time bomb? We'll ask the man who advises the president on North Korea, Governor Bill Richardson, when CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT returns.


CHUNG: Could the Korean War, which never officially ended, be on the verge of starting up again 50 years later. North Korea is threatening to pull out of the 1953 armistice that kept the guns quiet on the world's most fortified border. Why? North Korea accuses the U.S. of planning a blockade, in addition to stopping oil shipments. And warned that possible U.N. sanctions would be treated as an act of war. The standoff has the U.S. insisting that China use its considerable leverage to make North Korean leader Kim Jong-il disarm. North Korea wants one-on-one talks with the U.S., and a guarantee that the U.S. will not invade. So could the Korean War actually start up again, and what do we know about Kim Jong-il? Is he a madman or a master manipulator? Joining us now from Santa Fe is New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., who's recently been in talks with North Korean diplomats. Thank you, Governor Richardson, for being with us.


CHUNG: Before we get to North Korea, one question regarding Iraq. Sir, do you see any other avenue besides war?

RICHARDSON: Right now, no. The last possibility might be the secretary-general of the United Nations, at the last minute, going to Baghdad to try to avert war, as he did five years ago. But I don't see real diplomatic options. I think it's either war or Saddam Hussein disarming. And I think the odds are very strong that it's going to be war, because I don't believe Saddam Hussein is going to disarm.

CHUNG: Do you believe that the Bush administration is simply backed itself into the corner, and this is -- there's no alternative because of that?

RICHARDSON: Well, I believe the Bush administration deserves credit for going to the United Nations for the original resolution, and now for going back and trying to persuade the U.N. to adopt the material breach resolution. I do think it's still possible, Connie, to get France, and Russia and China behind a simple resolution after two weeks -- after we've made some progress, and perhaps some reconnaissance flights in Baghdad, perhaps some missile destructions there of the Iraqis. Interviewing Iraqi scientists outside of Iraq. It's going to be a very fun end game the last two weeks when inspections basically conclude. But I think the odds are pretty strong that war is going to probably happen.

CHUNG: Depressing. Governor Richardson, do you believe -- turning to North Korea -- that North Korea is actually using our impending war with Iraq to basically tweak the United states, knowing that we would not want to go into two fronts of war?

RICHARDSON: Yes. There's no question the North Koreans, tactically, are using our diversion into Iraq and the war on terrorism to get the international stage. They frequently escalate their rhetoric, their statements, their threats right before North Korea enters into a negotiation, right before, for instance, North Korea's case is being considered before the Security Council. This is typical behavior of theirs.

CHUNG: You can explain to us why the U.S. will not engage in face-to-face negotiations with North Korea, because that is simply what they want?

RICHARDSON: Well, I believe that the Bush administration is basically saying, we're not going to reward you for bad behavior by engaging in direct talks. What I believe a compromise could be that satisfies both sides is preparatory talks at the U.N., at a low level, that would set up a formula for negotiating talks later at higher levels. I don't believe the answer to the North Korean issue is, take it to the Security Council or the U.N., give it a multilateral focus. I also don't think that China has much leverage over North Korea. What the North Koreans want is face-to-face talks. I say, let's do it, but let's do it on our terms at low level.

But, at the same time, asking the North Koreans, as a condition for these talks, to start looking at ways that they disarm, that they stop some of them their nuclear production -- as they said they will -- to freeze plutonium at some of their reactors. I think a negotiation is possible with it. We've done it before, yes, they've broken some agreements. What the North Koreans want is food. They want fuel. They want economic assistance. They want us to make a pledge to not attack them. What we want from them is to stop their proliferation activities, their nuclear weapons. To basically engage in a dialogue with neighbors, with South Korea, with China, with others, and ease tensions. That's what we want, and I think it's worth it to talk to them.

CHUNG: Governor, we only have time for a yes or no answer to this. Do you believe taking it to the U.N. will simply inflame Korea? North Korea?

RICHARDSON: Yes, it will. And I think that's risky. I'd be very careful, I hope we simply get statements of condemnation, and there won't be sanction at the Security Council. I think that'd be a mistake.

CHUNG: All right, Governor Richardson, thank you so much for being with us.

RICHARDSON: Thank you.

CHUNG: Joining us now from Washington is Kongdan Oh, coauthor of "North Korea Through the Looking Glass," and a senior fellow the at the Brookings Institution, who advises the Bush administration on North Korea. Thank you, Katie, so much for being with us.


CHUNG: Can you tell us -- we don't know Kim Jong-il that well, but we read a great deal of information about him. And one of the things that is so curious is that he has so many adjectives to describe him. He's described as a hypochondriac, a vain man. He's described as 5'3", a man who wears platform shoos and a bouffant hairdo to make himself look taller. He comes off as such an eccentric, as a madman, is he?

OH: Well, all the descriptions that you just used are actually correct. And he has an eccentric personality. And also in the past, he did some mad things, such as state-sponsored terrorism. While I don't deny that he had some eccentric personality and elements, the most important thing for us is to look at him as the leader of the society that he has put under his control for the last 20 years. So, I think for the policy approach, we have to see him as a shrewd, calculating, bright, hardworking, efficient leader. And I think only from that point, we can deal with him in making real deal and policy between U.S. and North Korea.

CHUNG: Well, let's talk about the citizen of North Korea. While they are starving, he's eating steak and drinking cognac. Why do these people follow him?

OH: Well, that's a very, very important and critical question, because right after the demise of the former Soviet Union in eastern Europe, a lot of people basically said that North Korea is the next country. But North Korea has sustained and, as a matter of fact, February 16th, two days ago, only the 61 birthday, entire North Korean people showed adulation and respected him. So that, basically, the North Korea has a very peculiar aspect.

My answer is that North Korea is not a simple, modern socialistic state. North Korea is a hybrid state of a Confucius tradition, feudalistic element. And Kim Jong-il has used the control mechanism so well, and he, basically, created a very unique society that all the population basically under his control, and only from that point we can truly understand North Korea.

CHUNG: Now, North Korea wants face-to-face negotiations with the United states. You just heard Governor Richardson suggest that some preliminary talks occur, and then moving on. If you were advising the Bush administration, would you say that the United States should engage in these negotiations?

OH: Basically, I agree what Governor Richardson said. Talks doesn't cost very much at all. So, arranging working-level talks between North Korea and the United States is not a bad idea.

CHUNG: But let me ask you this.

OH: Yes.

CHUNG: Even though in 1994 that agreement, signed with the Clinton administration, was broken by the North Koreans?

OH: I agree with you. So what I am saying here is that talks are okay. But making another deal, negotiating to maybe reword them for the bad behavior, I don't think that's a good idea. In a sense that North Koreans was the one who broke the rule, and we have to be very formal about our attitude. In that sense, I think I have a disagreement with Governor Richardson.

CHUNG: All right. Thank you so much for being with us, Kongdan Oh.

White House officials today said a new resolution on Iraq could be proposed at the U.N. before the end of the next week.

France is continuing to try to gather votes against such a resolution in the Security Council. France is trying to avoid using its veto, but still opposes authorizing an invasion of Iraq. Both the U.S. and France call war a last resort. But France says there are still alternatives, mainly continuing inspections. In fact, a new poll found that 87% of French citizens polled called war with Iraq unjustified. Three out of four said their reason for opposing war was their dislike of America's behavior in this crisis.

And as CNN's Serena Altschul reports from Paris, French reaction to America and President Bush, in particular, goes beyond diplomacy, and is sometimes far from diplomatic.


SERENA ALTSCHUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bush on a stick? President Adolph? What's going on here? This is France. America's oldest ally. They even share a famous lady. But it's true that snubbing their noses at the unsophisticated Americans has always been a favorite national past time. For many French, U.S. culture is not much more than "le Macdo" or "le coca." We didn't expected her, or him to buy into it, did you? And by the way, they're not fond of being made fun of, says this security guard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Always the same stereotype, French, froggies. They smell bad, or they are not clean.

ALTSCHUL: Having said that, most French people, at least publicly, told us they like America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a lot of American friends, and I really like the people.

ALTSCHUL: And U.S. culture.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love American movies, you know!

ALTSCHUL: Yet, take a look at these recently published books. "The anti-American Obsession," "After the Empire," "The American Enemy." Get the picture? Many resent what they call, the American Rambo mentality. You are the first country in the world, you are the strongest in military terms.

NOEL MAMERE, FRENCH CONGRESSMAN: You are the first country in the world. You are the strongest - the strongest in military terms. You are the strongest in economic terms. You are the strongest in export terms, but you cannot impose your point of view and your way of life at all the world.

ALTSCHUL: But this French Congressman is not referring to you there at home. Right now, there's only one American the French really love to hate. It's him, depicted here on the French TV network, "Canal Plus."

MAMERE: I think that the Bush's administration and his domestic policy and foreign policy are very dangerous for the American people and for the world.

ALTSCHUL: Is there anything that you like about President Bush?

MAMERE: Nothing.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: You're thinking of Europe as Germany and France. I don't. I think that's old Europe.

ALTSCHUL: Of course, the latest wave of anti-Frenchism in the U.S., well publicized here, hasn't helped much. But many French think it's nothing more than good old bickering.

CHRISTAIN MALARO, FRENCH JOURNALIST: It's not a story about old Europe, it's an old couple. Franco-American couple, with ups and downs. Right now, it's down, but I'm convinced that in the future, it will be in the ups again, I think all of this will belong to the press, believe me.

ALTSCHUL: On verra bien. As they say here, only time will tell. Serena Altschul, CNN Paris.


ANNOUNCER: Next, a teen clings to life after an organ transplant mix-up at the hospital. How could a mistake have been made in such a critical operation? CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT will be right back.


CHUNG: A horrifying medical mixup has turned a 17-year-old girl's hope for life into a deadly enemy. And it may be that a clerical error -- if you can believe it -- turned out to be her death sentence.

Jesica Santillan came to America seeking a heart-lung transplant to save her life. When donated organs were found, everyone thought the transplant at Duke University hospital earlier this month would give her a new life. Instead, it turned out the donated organs were blood type A. Jesica is O-positive, which means her body sees the new organs a threat and is trying to destroy them.

Family friend Mack Mahoney says she has just days to live. He joins us now from Durham, North Carolina, along with Jesica's mother and father, Magdalena and Malisio (ph) Santillan, and niece, America Santillan.

Thank you all for being with us.

Mack Mahoney, you are such a close friend. You were there when the operation occurred. And when the doctors came out, the family and you must have been in shock. What did the doctors tell you?

MACK MAHONEY, FRIEND OF JESICA: Well, they told us that there had been a mistake and there had been a clerical error and that Jesica had received type-A organs and her blood type was type O. The doctor took full responsibility, said that it was his mistake. He should have tapped the organs, but he failed to do so. CHUNG: The family had to be devastated?

MAHONEY: Absolutely. I was devastated. This child was like my grandkid.

CHUNG: So, when she emerged from this operation, what was her condition?

MAHONEY: When she emerged from the operation, she had already started rejecting and she was critical.

CHUNG: America, can you tell us what Jesica's condition is now?

AMERICA SANTILLAN, NIECE OF JESICA: She's real critical at the moment. Her kidneys are starting to shut down. And they have all of these -- many machines on her that I couldn't imagine. I don't even know half of what's the name of all these machines. She's hooked up to everything. She's practically on life support right now.

CHUNG: America, what have the doctors told you as to whether or not she'll be able to get a new heart and lung?

A. SANTILLAN: They just say that we're just -- that she's on the list and that they're waiting.

CHUNG: What are the chances? Have they told you that?

A. SANTILLAN: I mean, she has no chances of surviving if she doesn't have a new transplant.

CHUNG: America, can you translate for her Magdalena and Malisio for us? Can you ask them: Was Jesica fearful before the operation?



Jesica was not fearful of the operation. She was just not ready for the operation yet.

CHUNG: In what way was she not ready?



A. SANTILLAN: That she had talked with Jesica lots of times and they -- that Jesica wanted this transplant already to have a new life, to start her life, and that, at the end, she really didn't know why the reason why she, Jesica, didn't want to -- she wasn't ready for the transplant.

CHUNG: I see.

Can you ask them, America, what their thoughts are about this terrible mistake? Are they angry? A. SANTILLAN: (SPEAKING IN SPANISH)


A. SANTILLAN: She said that, yes, she's very angry at the moment, but the priority right now is for her to get a new transplant, because the days are going by and she's losing her life.

CHUNG: America Santillan, I thank you so much for being with us. And Magdalena and Malisio, Mack Mahoney, all, thank you very much. Our prayers are with Jesica.

The hospital says it accepts responsibility for what it calls a tragic error.

Joining us now is Duke University Hospital's CEO, Dr. William Fulkerson.

Thank you, sir, for being with us.


CHUNG: I think the question that everyone wants to know is: How on earth could this have happened?

FULKERSON: Well, as we reported, an error did occur in the heart-lung transplant for Jesica Santillan. She received organs that were not compatible with her blood type.

Our transplant staff believed that they had confirmation of compatibility, but that was incorrect. We've performed thousands of transplants at Duke Medical Center over the past several decades. And something like this has never happened before. So, it's certainly a unique, tragic event for us. Immediately on learning about this, we started an investigation of the process. And that investigation continues.

I don't have all the answers for how this occurred, but I hope we will have it soon, as we pull all the information together and continue to talk to everyone that was involved in the transplant process. Because of this, even though we've been doing transplants for decades without an event like this, we have put some immediate new safeguards in place to make our process even safer.

And those safeguards include a number of things. But, primarily, they include multiple people on the transplant staff performing independent confirmation of compatibility of donor organs with the recipient.

CHUNG: Dr. Fulkerson, Jesica needs a new heart and lung. Otherwise, she's going die. What do you believe her chances are of surviving? Will you be able to save her?

FULKERSON: Well, she certainly is the focus of all of the attention of our staff now, taking care of her in the pediatric intensive care unit at Duke. And that continues to be our primary focus, both trying to support her and sustain her, as well as support her family and her friends right now.

CHUNG: But the question is, will you be able to save her life?

FULKERSON: She is critically ill now. She is requiring tremendous advanced support to support her.

We do not think she will survive without a retransplant. Since her first transplant procedure, she has been at the top of the transplant list, waiting for a new heart and lung transplant. But, as you have probably read, those are very rare events. And we're just hoping and praying that this will occur.

CHUNG: Dr. Fulkerson, I thank you so much for being with us.

FULKERSON: Yes, ma'am.

CHUNG: We'll be right back.

ANNOUNCER: Next, the friends and family of convicted murderer Clara Harris share their outrage over her 20-year sentence.

CONNIE CHUNG TONIGHT will be right back.


CHUNG: Friends of Clara Harris are still in shock over her fate. A Houston jury sentenced her to 20 years in prison for running down her unfaithful husband.

The trial featured some surprising witnesses on Harris' behalf, including the parents and brother of the man she killed. Throughout the trial, we've spoken with friends of Harris. And we've pulled together 10 of them tonight. Three of them will be speaking with us: Steve Elsner, Melissa Johnson, and Ana Jones.

Thank you all for being with us.


CHUNG: Ana Jones, you are described as a very, very close friend of Clara Harris'. In fact, you are described as a confidante. You talked to her after the verdict. Can you tell us what her state of mind is now?

ANA JONES, FRIEND OF CLARA HARRIS: She is very distraught. And, yes, she did have a dark moment. And who wouldn't? Because we were totally -- we were not expecting the sentence that we got. She is a strong woman with a strong faith and she knows that she is going to come through this.

CHUNG: Is she mentally prepared to spend at least a decade in prison?

JONES: We're mentally preparing her for one day at a time and to keep her faith strong and that God will see her through this.

CHUNG: I know that your twin boys play with her twin boys. Have her children been told?

JONES: No, they have not. They have been shielded and protected throughout this whole ordeal. And they're very happy little 4-year- olds, well adjusted. They have not been told yet.

CHUNG: Melissa, who's taking care of the boys?

MELISSA JOHNSON, FRIEND OF CLARA HARRIS: Right now, their nanny is still taking care of them. And they're staying with family members.

CHUNG: All right.

It was really quite extraordinary that David Harris' parents were supportive of Clara. What was equally as extraordinary was that Lindsey Harris, who is the granddaughter also of these grandparents, testified with such damaging testimony against Clara Harris. Do you know if Lindsey was torn about what she was doing in terms of the verdict and the sentencing phase?

JOHNSON: Well, Connie, I think it's a tragedy the way she was manipulated by the state.

The state was given unfettered access to her. And Clara, nor her attorney, nor even her grandparents were able to communicate with her during this time. And I do know that, after the sentencing was read, she went to the attorney the day after and she is deeply upset about the sentencing. She didn't want the only other mom that she knows for 10 years to get that type of sentencing.

CHUNG: She didn't? I'm surprised. I thought that she did want Clara Harris to go to prison and spend a good deal of time there.

JOHNSON: That's one more guilt that she's, like, stuck with. Now she has effectively helped remove the other parent from her brothers.

CHUNG: Steve Elsner, all of you are professionals, in addition to being parents and churchgoing people. I know you are a manager at NASA. And I know Ana is a registered nurse. And Melissa is a lawyer. You all are professionally educated, etcetera.

You don't condone what happened, do you?


What happened is a terrible tragedy. So many lives have been affected. We're all human and make mistakes. And so, it's not a matter of condoning, but we can understand and relate to the situation Clara's in.

CHUNG: What do you want for Clara Harris, then? ELSNER: Well, we want God's plan to unfold. It's hard to understand what that is. As Ana said, we're taking it one day at a time. We're trying to be strong for her and trying to pursue -- put our energies into all of the things that can help reduce the sentence or get Clara out of jail sooner than later.

CHUNG: She is also facing a civil lawsuit that's being brought by Lindsey Harris, is she not?

ELSNER: That's my understanding.

CHUNG: Ana, do you have any clues as to -- do you know how Clara Harris feels about this civil lawsuit that's been brought by Lindsey Harris?

JONES: She is very hurt about it. Of course, she's known about it for a while. And, at first, she was in disbelief.

Clara loves Lindsey very much. Lindsey was a very big part of their lives. And she was very distraught about this. The civil suit is hurting Clara very much, because all her assets are frozen. And for this reason, we have -- her friends have started a defense fund account at Bank of America for Clara Harris to help her with her legal fees and her appeals.

CHUNG: Tell us, Ana, have the grandparents talked to Lindsey, because they were on different sides of the fence with this trial?

JONES: Yes, they have. They kind of mended fences, so to speak, during the trial. And Lindsey told them that she loved them and that she also loved Clara. It was a very touching moment for them. And it was very uplifting for the grandparents, because, until that point, they had not talked to Lindsey.

CHUNG: All right, I thank you, Ana so much.

Melissa, thank you as well.


And, for all of you, we thank you so much for being with us tonight.

ELSNER: Thank you, Connie.

JONES: Thank you, Connie.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

CHUNG: Still ahead: What about Clara Harris' family? You'll meet two of them right after this.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHUNG: Many members of Clara Harris' family live in Colombia. Two of them are in the U.S. and join us now from Houston, two of her cousins, Daniel (ph) and German Gonzalez.

Thank you both for being with us.


CHUNG: German, I know you have -- you've known Clara your entire life and you grew up together in Colombia. Tell us about Clara and her family.

G. GONZALEZ: Oh, Clara's just a wonderful person.

I was surprised when I came here and heard people calling her Clara. We in Colombia call her Clarita, which is a loving way to call somebody. And for me, it was surprising to see, who's Clarita? This is my cousin you're talking about. She's just a sweetheart. And she earned that Clarita. She didn't put that with her name. We love her very much.

CHUNG: I know Clara came to the United States 20 years ago and she came here after you did. Why did she come here? What was she looking for?

G. GONZALEZ: Well, like most immigrants that come to this country, we all come to look for a better opportunity, a better place to live and better place to raise our children and better place to work. And that's what we all come here for. And I think she was -- it was an expectation for her.

CHUNG: German, do you know if Clara had been involved in anything violent over the years?

G. GONZALEZ: No, no, no.

CHUNG: So, when you found out about the accident, what did you think think?

G. GONZALEZ: I couldn't believe it. I just couldn't believe it. This is Clarita we're talking about. She's the sweetest person. I just -- I couldn't believe it.

CHUNG: Daniel, I know you spoke with Clara's mother. How did she deal with the fact that her daughter's going to be in prison for as much as a decade, up to 20 years?

DANIEL GONZALEZ, COUSIN OF CLARA HARRIS: Well, she did great, I think. But imagine. It's not easy to say a mother: Hey, your daughter's going to be in jail for 20 years. She's an old woman. She's almost 80. But I think she did great, really.

CHUNG: German, how are her boys?

G. GONZALEZ: Oh, they're doing good. We keep them busy. And the friends that -- their friends and their neighbors and everybody, the church, everybody's been helping. So, we are trying to keep the boys busy. This is something that they don't need to know right now. They are boys. So we're keeping them busy.

CHUNG: All right, Daniel and German Gonzalez, I thank you both for being with us tonight.

G. GONZALEZ: Thank you very much.

D. GONZALEZ: Thank you.

CHUNG: Next: Is there a magic number for the right number of kids? We'll tell you when we come back.


CHUNG: Topping tonight's "Snapshot": Did you know that the number of children you have can affect your health? Take a look.


CHUNG (voice-over): British scientists say having more than two children leads to coronary heart disease. Another problem: the more kids, the more pounds parents put on.

The winter wallop came at a bad time for retailers counting on Presidents Day sales to help make up for a weak Christmas season. One to two feet of snow kept many shoppers from the stores.

ABC's new reality show, "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here," runs 15 consecutive nights starting tomorrow. It puts B-list celebs such as Melissa Rivers and Robin Leach into an Australian rain forest.

No slogging through the jungle for the models in the annual "Sports Illustrated" swimsuit edition. They will be partying at a swanky New York City party you can see on a Web site tonight.

It may not look as good as the swimsuit models, but robots in Japan are taking on chores such as vacuuming, changing TV channels, and even guarding the home from intruders or fire.



CHUNG: Tomorrow: the warriors. We'll take a close-up look at American soldiers preparing for war with Iraq. You'll meet a fighter pilot stationed in the Persian Gulf as he trains for a potential conflict. And we'll meet his family back in the U.S.

And coming up next on "LARRY KING LIVE": some of America's most powerful senators, including Arizona's John McCain, weighing in on the anti-war movement and the prospect of war with Iraq.

Thank you so much for joining us. And for all of us at CNN, good night and we'll see you tomorrow.


Laci Peterson>

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