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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Discussion of suspect's confession he abducted and murdered missing 9-year-old Florida girl; Guess panel Discusses Terri Schiavo
Aired March 18, 2005 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF JEFF DAWSY, CITRUS COUNTY, FLORIDA: John Couey admitted to abducting Jessica and subsequently taking her life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: Is this the tragic end of the search for missing 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford? We've got the latest with reporters on the scene, plus Ed Smart -- his daughter, Elizabeth, survived her abduction -- Brenda Van Dam -- her 7-year-old daughter, Danielle, was abducted and murdered three years ago -- and Marc Klaas -- his daughter, Polly, was abducted and murdered in 1993.
And then Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed today, but this the end of a bitter 10-year tug-of-war over the brain-damaged woman's fate? Her family and members of Congress say no. We'll hear from Terri's sister, Suzanne. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We begin -- Sara Dorsey is with us in Homosassa Springs, Florida. A CNN reporter, she is on the scene at the site of the search for Jessica Lunsford. In Augusta, Georgia, is Susan Candiotti, the CNN reporter. Augusta, Georgia, is where John Couey, the apparent abductor, is being held and will be transported to Florida.
In Salt Lake City is Ed Smart, the father of Elizabeth Smart, who's home and healthy and happy. In San Diego is Brenda Van Dam, the mother of 7-year-old Danielle Van Dam, who was killed in 2002 after being abducted from her home. And in San Francisco, Marc Klaas. His daughter, Polly, was abducted in October of '92, found murdered. He is founder of the Klaas Kids Foundation.
For the latest -- Sara, the search goes on for -- the body is supposed to be where, according to Mr. Couey?
SARA DORSEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, they -- all the sheriff would tell us is that they're searching in a general area. Now, I'll tell you, that general area is right behind me, really over my shoulder. That is directly behind the trailer that Mr. Couey was staying in. We're hearing from a stringer that they weren't digging yet. They're showing flashlights in the area, kind of searching, and at some times, they're even getting so close to the trailer that it looks like investigators are looking under it. So right now, that's what's going on. We expect that after they determine where they're going to start that they will then begin digging, possibly tonight. The lights are set up, and it looks like investigators are ready to go, trying to get to the bottom of if, in fact, this is a credible confession and if they will find the body of Jessica Lunsford.
KING: How many people are involved in the digging?
DORSEY: I don't exactly know how many are involved in the digging, but I will tell you it looks like the entire Citrus County sheriff's force is out here. The minute that confession came through, they all rushed out here. There's sheriff's deputies manning in front of the Lunsford home, so no one goes over there, and there's several, including a crime scene investigation truck, behind that trailer that they're searching. So I would say a number, a good number of people involved in this right now.
KING: Susan Candiotti of CNN -- she's in Augusta, Georgia, where Mr. Couey is being held -- what's happening there? Are they going to -- have they waived extradition? Is he coming to Florida? What's the story?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we don't know just yet because the sheriff isn't revealing his hand at this hour. It's been an interesting day because Couey has been interviewed by investigators, I would say, more than 11 hours over the course of two days. And it was only late this afternoon, after he had already waived extradition to Florida on those probation violation charges -- that late this afternoon, according to police, he told them after he had given them a polygraph -- he told them, Look, I don't want to waste your time anymore. You don't have to wait for the results, says the sheriff. He said, I'm going to tell you what you want to hear. And at that time, he allegedly made a confession. And I asked investigators when they left here tonight, And what happened after that? They told me that John Couey broke down and cried.
And Larry, we've actually known about this for several hours, at least more than two hours before this was publicly announced. But because we were told the family had not yet been informed, we held back on reporting the information because we wanted to make sure the family knew about it first.
KING: And the sheriff is saying that Mr. Couey is, in his mind, credible.
CANDIOTTI: That is correct. According to them, they believe he is. When we asked more about his motive, precisely where he, according to sources, said he had buried the body behind the house, we were told that's all part of the investigation and they wouldn't reveal it at this time. But over the course of two days, investigators said he had been cooperating fully with them. In act, at one point, we were hearing from sources that their interview with him really wasn't going places. But clearly, they said, this afternoon, things took a turn.
KING: Ed Smart, on the dark days, did you envision a story like this about Elizabeth?
ED SMART, FATHER OF RESCUED ABDUCTEE, ELIZABETH SMART: You know, there were certainly times when I had doubts. I mean, statistically, everyone said that she was dead. And there were certainly times when I had doubts, but the not knowing was so horrible, I think that, you know, sometimes not knowing is worse than knowing.
KING: What do you imagine the father and mother, who's in Cincinnati, are going through?
SMART: You know, I'm sure that they are in pain and, you know, can't believe that it has come to this. And I mean, I can't directly -- since I didn't end going where they are now, I -- but I just -- I know how hard it was to go through those nine months and -- but knowing, at least, is going to bring some closure to them. I'm sure it's difficult.
KING: Brenda Van Dam, did knowing that Danielle had been murdered bring some closure? Did it, in a way, help?
BRENDA VAN DAM, DAUGHTER DANIELLE ABDUCTED AND MURDERED IN 2002: Oh, it definitely helped because the not knowing part is the most difficult part. And just knowing that finding her and knowing what had happened to her -- I don't think I could have lasted as long as Ed Smart did. But I would hope that her family would be able to get a little comfort from this, this closure. And I really feel in my heart that she's in heaven with Danielle, and I have to get a little bit of comfort from that.
But there's so many things that we can do to prevent this from happening to another child, and I think that we need to monitor these sex offenders closer. They're allowed to go wherever they want to. And you know, Senator Hollingsworth (ph) in California was working on Safe (ph) teams, which would monitor these sex offenders like parolees. I feel that's what needs to happen to them. But it boils down to funding. So I asked them, How much is a child's life worth? I think that the funding needs to be sought and found, and we need to get this rolling nationwide.
KING: Marc Klaas, you went through it as a father, so you can describe what it's like.
MARC KLAAS, DAUGHTER POLLY ABDUCTED AND MURDERED IN 1993: Well, yes, I can describe a couple of things. First of all, you know, I think because we're running on some very human level of emotion that for us to hear that Jessica was murdered is an immediate letdown. I mean, it's just like your heart sinks, you feel heart-broken for this family. But for the family itself, it's quite a bit different.
I can tell you from my experience that when they told me Polly was dead that I intellectually understood that very, very well, but it took several hours for the emotions to really hit home and bring it all together. And then I was just absolutely inconsolable for some period of time, I would say for -- well, you know, immediately for many, many hours. But it took a long, long time for the members of our family to recover from the devastation of the horrible crime. And I suspect that that's what's going to happen in this case. And I would hope that the state of Florida offers some kind of psychological counseling services for the family because they're going to need all the help they can get as they try to move forward with their lives.
KING: Marc, how were you told?
KLAAS: Well, I was told as they were told. The law enforcement always told us that we would hear relevant information about the case from them before we heard it from the media. And sometimes that was only by a few minutes, but they were always true to their word. And I think that what Susan said just a few minutes ago just shows the level of respect that we're holding for victims' families these days by not moving forward with that kind of information, just knowing that they don't need to and don't want to hear it on television before somebody has a chance to tell them personally.
KING: By the way, we will be taking calls on this subject for our panel. Brenda, how did you hear about it?
VAN DAM: Well, I heard it from the police department. They came to my home. I knew at the time that they had found something, but they were not sure what they had found because the searchers from the search center found Danielle. You know, Lieutenant Jim Collins (ph) actually went to the site, identified Danielle, and he personally came to my home and told me and Damon (ph) that they had found her. So every time that I got any information, it came directly from the police department and it was definitely before the media knew. And I think the media was grasping at straws in our case.
One thing I'd like to point out in this case is it was so similar to Danielle's abduction and murder, and I would hope that people -- you know, unfortunately, people chose to scrutinize Damon and myself and somehow wanted to point the finger at us and make it seem that it was our fault. This case is so similar, and I hope that everyone across the nation would realize that this can happen to you.
KING: Yes. Let me get a break. We'll come right back with Sara Dorsey in Homosassa Springs, Susan Candiotti in Augusta, Ed Smart in Salt Lake, Brenda Van Dam in San Diego, Marc Klaas in San Francisco. Your calls will be included. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAWSY: I wish I could give you all the figures. We're in the process of talking with our state attorney here. He's not going anywhere up there. He's on a no-bond. And we will bring him back once we do everything correct. And you know, we've talked about building a case, and this is not a time to sing anybody's praises, but I will tell you that we have built a case, a very methodical case. And I've got my man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: There's the scene, as investigators prepare to do some digging tonight behind the house of the suspect, John Couey, who apparently has identified that as the place where he buried the victim.
Sara, before we talk -- back to Susan Candiotti, Sara Dorsey, what have -- have they taken stuff from the house?
DORSEY: We just saw, Larry -- right now, we saw a mattress coming out from behind there and a bicycle. There's two investigators on their hands and knees, picking some things up from the ground. But prior to this, two days ago, Sheriff Dawsy told us they did take some items from that house for testing. He wouldn't tell us what those were. The only thing he would tell us is that they were not items belonging to Jessica. But now it looks like they're looking at some other items behind that house, and of course, searching for the body where Mr. Couey told them that they could find it.
KING: So do you know, Sara, where Mr. Lunsford and his parents are?
DORSEY: They are in their home, as far as we know. They were in there earlier today when they were told, of course, this very tragic news. And Larry, what makes this worse, Mark Lunsford throughout the afternoon, once he got off work, was in and out of his home and another trailer on their property, preparing for a search tomorrow, a volunteer search, where they were expecting up to 100 people. He was preparing more maps, telling us he still believed that they would bring his daughter, Jessica, home alive. So I would imagine this news just a devastating blow to this family right now.
KING: And Marc Klaas was the one who arranged for that search.
Susan Candiotti, there's an extraordinary videotape of the suspect that was taken the day before he was taken. What's that story?
CANDIOTTI: Well, coincidentally, Larry, the day before John Couey was arrested, a local television station, WAGT, was videotaping a feature story about people smoking in bars. And coincidentally, it turns out, they got videotape of John Couey at this bar. You see him sitting there drinking and smoking. In fact, he even looks into the camera at one point when they move in for a close-up. Well, according to police, that would have been the day before he was arrested. He was here in Augusta for two days after spending some time at a homeless shelter in Savannah and coming to another one here. And that would have been, according to the authorities' timeline, nearly three weeks after this man says, according to authorities, that he killed Jessica Lunsford.
KING: Did the station get any of what he appeared to be saying on tape?
CANDIOTTI: I don't know the answer to that, Larry. We haven't had an opportunity to thoroughly examine that.
KING: Ed Smart, do you believe that things like this are preventable, since the stalker knows where he's going and the victim doesn't?
SMART: I do really think that there are things, steps that we can take to prevent these, you know, organizations like Rad (ph) Kids, where they teach children things that they can do. I think that, you know, children in many situations aren't empowered. They feel victimized and freeze up. And I think when they have an opportunity and they know what they can do, it can make a difference between life and death.
KING: Marc Klaas, do you think...
KING: Go ahead. Continue, Ed.
SMART: Anyway, I just think it's very important to realize there is a real mental shift, as far as when a child thinks that he can do something and when he just thinks he's going to stand there and be victimized.
KING: Marc Klaas, do you think it's preventable?
KLAAS: I don't believe that the prevention is on putting the burden on the children to learn skills to be able to avoid this. I don't think that a little child like Jessica or Polly or Elizabeth or Danielle is in any position, under any circumstances, to be able to fend off a determined predator, particularly in the middle of the night. We don't know how most of these children were taken out of the house.
I think that if we're going to prevent this kind of crime, we're going to have to get tough on the offenders. We're going to have to get tough on Megan's law. We're going to have to break down the borders. We're going to have to make sure that people know who these individuals are. We have to remember that never in the history of the world has a psychopath or a pedophile ever been cured. And this individual, as Richard Allen Davis and David Westerfield, falls into all of those categories.
KING: Would you then not let them out?
KLAAS: Well, you know what? I might give them a two-strike option because if you're convicted one time for some kind of a sexual crime, the possibility always exists that you have been falsely accused. And certainly, once we get to the second point, we're dealing with somebody who has not been falsely accused twice and somebody who has established a pattern of behavior that can extend and extend and extend.
We see what happens when we do the other. We see what happened in the priest situation, the priest scandal. They lived in anonymity. They kept going to treatment centers. They kept being moved from parish to parish to parish, and the church is paying a very, very high price for that deception right now.
KING: When we come back, I'll ask Brenda if she thinks it's preventable. We'll also include your phone calls. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAWSY: John Couey was polygraphed today. And at the end of the polygraph, he says, You don't need to tell me the results. I already know what they are. Could I have the investigators come back in? And the investigators came back in. He apologized to the investigators for wasting their time. And I'm now going to use the word that you've probably waited for me to use. John Couey admitted to abducting Jessica and subsequently taking her life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Still to come, Michael Schiavo, the husband of Terri Schiavo. The feeding tube was pulled today and there are still legal wranglings over that. We'll also talk to Suzanne Vitadamo, who is Terri's sister. We'll also have a debate on that whole situation.
But right now, we remain with our panel. We're going to go to your calls. But first, Brenda Van Dam, you think it's preventable?
VAN DAM: I definitely think it's preventable. It's unfortunate that it's been going on for so long. And I really feel vigilant parents uniting with vigilant legislators will help to bring this issue up, and we need to make stronger laws for the sex offenders.
I'm getting a little confused here. I'm sorry, Larry.
But I think it's preventable, but I think that we -- the awareness needs to be out there that this happening more often than we think it's happening. And I really -- I think it all boils down to -- I agree with 100 percent with Marc. It boils down to making tougher laws for these registered sex offenders. I do not think they're curable, and I do not think they should be allowed to roam among us and us not know they're there.
KING: Let's take some calls. Woodbridge, Virginia. Hello.
CALLER: The question I want to ask is -- I think they should post, you know on the Internet or give flyers out to let us know about sex offenders and pedophiles because in the area where I live at, I am living, you know, around people that, you know, committed rapes and commit crimes against children, but I don't know who they are. They give the address, but we don't know their faces. So when I walk my children to the bus stop, they could be standing there.
KING: Ed, what do you think of that idea?
SMART: I mean, I think it's very important for people to know where the sex offenders are. I mean, if you don't know where they are, you know, you're subjecting your children to risk. And so making sure that you know is critical.
KING: What do you think, Marc?
KLAAS: Well, first of all, most states offer that kind of a service already. You can go onto our Web site, klaaskids.org, select the Megan's law option and look at the Web sites for, I think, 48 states. Now we're preferring the information on the Internet. You can look at pictures. You can select the information via a variety of criteria, including county, state, zip code. Some states even map the information.
I think what they should do at this point, though, is break down the borders. We've seen by what Couey did that they don't have any respect for state borders, and a Florida sex offender could easily find himself in Georgia, Alabama or any of a number of states within a very few short hours.
KING: Davie, Florida.
KING: Yes. Go ahead.
CALLER: Yes. Thank you. My question is this. Why can we not microchip these children so that every predator knows our children have some microchips in them before they grab them, that we will know, that we will their location instantly? We Lojack our cars, but we can't Lojack our children.
KING: Marc, you're shaking your head no. Why?
KLAAS: Well, no to that particular option. There's three different ways of approaching the GPS technology, which I believe is what she's talking about, the ability to find out where a child is once the child has been taken. The one option is a big blue watch that is secured through various alloys that make it extremely difficult to take off. And that has the chip in it that the lady is talking about. Another option is a piece of equipment that would be hid inside a backpack or inside shoes or a wallet or a belt or something like that. The third option would be the implant.
But obviously, once the company comes out with version 2.0, everybody's going to have to take their kids back for another round of invasive surgery. And we have to remember, we're talking about something that may be around the size of a cell phone. We're not talking about a tiny little chip. So I completely endorse the idea. It would have saved my daughter's life. It would have saved Danielle's life. It certainly would have gotten Elizabeth home much sooner than she was able to get home. But the implant is not the way to go about it.
KING: Ed, what do you think?
SMART: I think that if you are microchipping someone, you ought to microchip the sex offender so that they can be watched because I think that that is a -- that's a big issue. And I mean, I agree with Marc and I agree with Brenda that, you know, legislative, we've got to make a difference. But I think that we have to work in all different angles to make this happen. You know, I think that it's going to take a huge effort.
KING: Sara, the people there in Homosassa, are they visibly upset, the neighbors?
DORSEY: Oh, absolutely, Larry. They are visibly upset. We see people with candles right now, doing an impromptu vigil. For you to understand this town -- it's only a couple thousand people, and in the days just following Jessica's disappearance, we had 400 and 500 people here coming out to help search. It was bad, rainy weather. But every chance that they could get to get out here and search, they did that. And like I said, Mark was planning -- the father of Jessica was planning another search, a volunteer search tomorrow, where he hoped to have at least 100 people. Just when this news broke on the news channels, we started to get a group of people out here with candles. This is a visibly shaken community. They wanted this little girl home safe.
KING: We'll be back with some more moments with the panel, and then we'll check in with Michael Schiavo and Suzanne Vitadamo. Michael is the husband of Terri Schiavo, and Suzanne is the sister. There'll also be a debate on this whole question. Don't go away.
LARRY KING, HOST: We're back. And we understand that Michael Schiavo is available. So, we're going to thank Sara Dorsey, Susan Candiotti, Ed Smart, Brenda Van Dam and Mark Klaas on this tragedy today in Florida, and learning of it in Georgia. We thank them for being with us. And for their outstanding coverage. And I'm sure next week, we'll be doing more on this topic.
Right now to Dunedin, Florida. Michael Schiavo is there. He is Terri Schiavo's husband. Also with him is George Felos, the attorney for Michael Schiavo.
Fifteen years ago, of course you know the story, Terri Schiavo collapsed when her heart temporarily stopped beating and oxygen cut off resulted in Terri suffering severe brain damage. She is now 41- years-old being cared for in a Florida hospice, kept alive by a feeding tube. That tube was removed today. You were not there, Michael?
MICHAEL SCHIAVO, TERRI SCHIAVO'S HUSBAND: No, I wasn't, Larry.
KING: Any reason?
M. SCHIAVO: I just didn't want to be in the room then.
KING: And Everyone keeps saying, Michael, I'll ask George in a minute, even if she said to you, I don't want to live like this, which is the reason you've been doing this, so what? If she's not in pain and the parents want her to be alive and you're no longer involved, so what? Why not keep her alive? M. SCHIAVO: Because this is what Terri wanted. This is her wish.
You know something, Larry, I feel like the government. What I'm here for tonight is I'm going to tell you -- I feel like the government has just trampled all over my personal life. It is uncomprehensible that a government can walk all over somebody's private judicial matter, because of their own personal feelings.
You know, I should be sitting with my wife right now. You know, her tube was removed and I should be with her. But you know, I felt the need to speak out, because it is just horrible the way that this government is acting with this case.
KING: Now they have asked, Michael, the United States Supreme Court, to sort of put a stay on this, Justice Anthony Kennedy has jurisdiction over emergency appeals. Tom DeLay said they're going to do all they can in Congress. Why is that wrong if that is their heartfelt feelings, if they're just trying to, in their opinion, preserve a life?
GEORGE FELOS, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL SCHIAVO: Well, Larry, let me answer that.
KING: All right, George.
FELOS: Each and every one of us in this country has a constitutional right to refuse medical treatment they don't want. Terri exercised that right. She made her statements clear. A court has found evidence to be convincing.
And just because Tom DeLay and cohorts in Washington don't like Terri's choice, doesn't mean the federal government can make medical treatments decisions for you.
We received a subpoena today from the House of Representatives saying Terri is a witness in an investigation, force-feed her against her will. That is just an outrageous abuse of government power. And everyone in this country should be alarmed about that. They ought to be writing their Congressmen and senators, and say -- telling them, please let Terri die in peace. This is a private matter, it's been reviewed for years, the Congress just has no place in this.
KING: Hold it Michael -- on hearsay, George, thought, the only word that she said that is Michael's, right, George?
FELOS: No. That's not correct. Because she made those statements to her best friend, Joan and also to her brother-in-law. There were three witnesses and numerous statements to those witnesses over different periods of time. I don't want to be kept alive artificially. No tubes for me. I want to go when my time comes. If I ever had to be dependent upon anyone, I wouldn't want to live that way.
I mean, Terri made her wishes clear. And that's what the court found. M. SCHIAVO: And this is the problem...
KING: Why do you undergo, Michael, all that pressure. I'm back to that again. OK. It was a wish. If she's not in pain -- and by the way, she's not artificially being kept alive in that sense, she's not in a comma. She's being fed. Again, I come back to, all right. Give it up.
M. SCHIAVO: I won't give it up. Terri is my life. I'm going to carry out her wishes to the very end. This is what she wanted. It's not about the Schindlers, it's not about me, not about Congress, it's about Terri.
Now, I want you all to think about going through a judicial process to have your wishes granted and then the Congress and the government walking in on that because of their personal views. That's absurd!
Governor Bush, he's only doing this for votes. And I urge everybody out there, call your Congress, call your House legislators, call your House representatives in Washington and tell them to stay out of our personal business. They're going to be running everybody's life.
KING: Michael, what do you expect to happen? Congress is in recess now, they have to come back into special session. The Supreme Court could put a stay on it. What do you think is going to happen?
M. SCHIAVO: I don't think the Supreme Court is going to put a stay on it. And I hope and implore that everybody call their legislators. They have to stay out of people's personal lives. There's no place for government. Call them and tell them.
KING: Have you had any contact with the family today? This is a sad day all the way around, Michael. We know of your dispute.
M. SCHIAVO: I've had no contact with them.
KING: No contact at all?
M. SCHIAVO: No.
KING: Do you understand how they feel?
M. SCHIAVO: Yes, I do. But this is not about them, it's about Terri. And I've also said that in court. We didn't know what Terri wanted, but this is what we want...
KING: You're not -- it didn't cost you anything. This is not something where you're looking to save money?
M. SCHIAVO: No. There's no money involved. We need to move on from that question. That question has been asked me 50 million times. There is no money!
KING: George, what do you think is going to happen? FELOS: Larry, this case has been so unpredictable, it's impossible to say. But we have found a real ground swell of support, especially with that atrocious intervention by the Congress. We've gotten calls, letters, people e-mailed and a lot of people very upset about this.
I mean, it's scary to think that the government, just because they may be ideologically opposed to your medical treatment choice, has a right to overturn what you want. And people are up in arms about this and they're letting their Senators and Representatives know.
M. SCHIAVO: I want everybody to know. I want to know which Congressman, which House legislator would come down here and take Terri's place? Who's going to take her position? You won't get an answer.
KING: Michael Schiavo and George Felos. Michael Schiavo the husband, George Felos the attorney. We'll take a break and come back with Susan Vitadamo, Terri Schiavo's sister, and David Gibbs the Schindler family attorney. And then we'll have a debate on the topic. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RE[/ TP, DELAY (R) TEXAS: In my opinion, the sanctity of life overshadows the sanctity of marriage. I don't know what transpired between Terri and her husband, all I know is Terri is alive and this judge in Florida wants to pull her feeding tube and let her starve for two weeks. That is barbaric. And unless she had specifically written instructions in her hand and with her signature, I don't care what her husband says.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining us now in Tampa, Florida, Susanne Vitadamo. She is Terri Schiavo's sister. And David Gibbs, the Schindler family attorney.
Suzanne, where were you when they pulled the feeding plug?
SUZANNE VITADAMO, TERRI SCHIAVO'S SISTER: Larry, I was in the room prior to that. And I was asked to leave the room while they pulled Terri's feeding tube. And I waited a couple hours and went back in. I was with her from 8:30 in the morning until I left at 5:00.
KING: Why do you want your sister's wishes not listened to?
VITADAMO: Well first, we don't believe Terri had those wishes. We knew Terri, obviously, better than Michael did. Those wishes surfaced several years after a medical malpractice suit. I mean, we're talking many years later. They're hearsay with Michael and two of his family members. And they surfaced late. And we don't believe Terri ever wanted to die.
And secondly, we don't believe Terri is in the condition some doctors are saying she's in. We see Terri as a vibrant, fairly healthy, except she's severely brain damaged.
But she needs help, Larry. She hasn't had therapy since 1993. She's disabled. She needs help. She's trying to talk. And we want to get her the help she needs as a disabled woman.
KING: David, Michael's point and his attorney's point, you've lost in the Florida courts, you've lost in the United States Supreme Court. So as I ask Michael why he continues, why do you continue?
DAVID GIBBS, SCHINDLER FAMILY ATTORNEY: Because it's the right thing to do, Larry. When you look at a mother and a father, when you look at Bob and Mary Schindler and they say, David, is there anything we can do to keep our daughter, a daughter of 41 years that we love dearly. A Bob and Mary Schindler would trade places with Terri in a second if they could. They would give up their health, they would give up their energy to allow Terri to be well. They say, can you help us save our daughter.
And in a life and death case like this, Larry, everything reasonable that can be done. I mean, the Congress has recognized it, the president has recognized it, the Vatican has recognized it, religious and leaders across the nation have recognized it, Governor Bush has recognized it. This is just flat wrong. We are starving to death an innocent, disabled woman. It's unAmerican
KING: We are a nation of law.
GIBBS: Law needs to be moral. It needs to be guided by what's right.
KING: Your morality may not be my morality.
GIBBS: But I think killing a disabled woman is something that's always been against the law. I mean, going back to the ten commandments, thou shalt not kill. And we're in a situation where an innocent disabled woman is facing a barbaric death. And it's something that needs to be stopped.
KING: Suzanne, what is Michael's point if she didn't tell him that? What is his point in wanting this done? How does he gain by it, Suzanne?
VITADAMO: You know, Larry, I don't know. There's quite a bit of speculation out as to why he is so bent on killing Terri. You know, Michael has his family now. We agree that this is a family decision. But we are Terri's family. He has a fiancee and children, we're asking him to take care of his family and let us take care of ours.
KING: So, you don't -- you can't figure out a motive?
VITADAMO: As I said, there's speculation out there that I've heard running around. There might be maybe -- we have evidence that something may have happened pretty ugly the night that she collapsed.
And, you know, again, he received quite a bit of money back in '93. And it was shortly after that he remembered these so-called wishes that we honestly don't believe. So, let everybody else maybe put something together and figure out why he's doing this because we certainly, you know, -- it really doesn't make any sense.
KING: When the incident occurred, it was fully investigated, wasn't it?
KING: It was not?
VITADAMO: Terri -- we do not at this point know why Terri collapsed. Her heart did stop, but she did not have a heart attack. And she did not. It has not been proven that she's had an eating disorder which I've heard. So, we asked for an investigation. And to this day have not gotten one. But again, we don't know why she collapsed that night.
KING: David Gibbs, where are you legally right this minute?
GIBBS: Well, we have appeals that are up before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, but quite honestly Larry, our strongest hope is the United States Congress. And if the law is passed on Monday, they stopped the feeding of Terri today. Terri will remain alive for at least seven and maybe as long as 30 days, death by dehydration and starvation is a long and slow process. But what we're hopeful is that the United States Congress will confer jurisdiction on Bob and Mary Schindler as parents where they will go to court and defend the rights of Terri.
KING: Can the Congress make a law about a state matter?
GIBBS: Absolutely. It's not a state matter there making a law about. Congress establishes the authority of the federal courts. And what Congress is saying, is the same thing we do for mass murders. Ted Bundy had these guarantees. We're going to extend it to innocent disabled people. It's a good, it's good bipartisan.
KING: How will -- how will the law read, since you can't use a name in the law, you can't say we the Congress keep Terri Schiavo alive, what's the law say?
GIBBS: What the law will say, is that the parents will go into federal court.
KING: This is in any case? It has to cover any case, right? You can't do a specific law?
GIBBS: Well, no, Congress can actually do a special law or general law. They have broad constitutional authority over the jurisdiction of the federal courts. But in any case, they could say is the parents or any interested party could go forward and make sure that Terri's due process rights were protected. The judge who made all these decisions, Larry,has never looked at Terri. And that's a fundamental unfairness. How can you decide whether a person is alive? How can you decide whether a person would want to live or die without ever looking at them?
And that's one of the sadness in this case.
KING: Suzanne, what do you think's going to happen?
VITADAMO: I don't know. This case is so unpredictable, Larry, it's very hard to say. We're pleading with Congress at this point to do the right thing, and to save Terri. And you know, we're hopeful.
KING: Thank you. We'll do a lot more on this. Suzanne Vitadamo and David Gibbs. Suzanne is Terri's sister. David is the Schindler family attorney.
And when we come back, John MacCarthur, the president of the Masters College, and Art Caplan, chairman of the Department of Medical Ethics, and the University of Pennsylvania will debate this issue. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY SCHINDLER, MOTHER OF TERRI SCHAVIO: Put your head back. Is that OK? Huh? How you feel? How do you feel? How do you feel? How do you feel? Huh?
TERRI SCHAIVO: Ugh.
MARRY SCHINDLER: What? That's my girl.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We realize we're just going to skim the surface here, we'll probably do a lot more on Monday.
John MacArthur is with us, president of the Masters Church, pastor of the Grace -- the Masters College rather, and paster of the Grace Community Church.
In Philadelphia, Art Kaplan, chairman of Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania.
John, is this a moral or legal question?
JOHN MACARTHUR, GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH: Well, I think, obviously, it's become a legal question. But I think behind that is a serious moral issue, very serious
KING: Which is?
MACARTHUR: Well, I think you've got to turn to the Revelation of Scripture and look at what God says about...
KING: That's not the Constitution. The judge has to deal with the Constitution not scripture.
MACARTHUR: Right. But I'm saying, if you ask me if it's a moral issue, then I'm going to take you to the scripture. If you ask if it's a legal issue, then we'll go to the courts. I think the Constitution has already been tested on this issue in 1990 in the case with Nancy Kuzan (ph). And the court came out and said, basically, they couldn't guarantee the right to die. And they turned it to the states. There has to be a compelling, clear reason to give someone the right to die, that I don't think is visible in this case.
KING: So, therefore the state and United States Supreme Court are wrong?
MACARTHUR: Well, I think that they're -- no they're right. I mean, in saying there has to be a clear compelling reason.
KING: They're saying that. Obviously...
MACARTHUR: But there's no clear compelling reason.
KING: Art, what's your response?
ART CAPLAN, CHMN. DEPT. OF MEDICAL ETHICS, U. PENN.: I'd say if you have this case litigated for seven years, 11 appeals courts look at -- 11 court appeals in the state of Florida, four to the Florida Supreme Court, two to the U.S. Supreme Court, one to the U.S. District Court, and they keep saying, the husband should have the right to make the decision. He hasn't divorced her. He stuck in this case and said, he wants to act on what she would want. I think it is clear that he should have the right to make this decision.
KING: But you understand, Art, when you look at her, it does look like she's not in agony. I mean, she makes facial -- right.
CAPLAN: Yes. It is true.
KING: This not a comma.
CAPLAN: Well, you know, Larry, it is true. It is true, but you have to keep something else in mind. Everyday we have situations where someone says, I'm a Christian scientists, I'm a Jehovah's Witness, I want to pray rather than take medicine to cure my cancer. And we don't force them. It's fundamental right, a liberty right to be able to control my medical care.
It doesn't matter, in one sense, whether she is completely unconscious, nearly unconscious. He's saying she wouldn't want to be in this state, few people would. If you look at it from that point of view, the core moral question is, is it the husband right, the wife's right to make the decision or is it Tom DeLay's right, Bill Frist's right, Art Caplan's right or anybody else's right to make that decision.
KING: John, you're a strong defenders of marriage, the husband, she's an adult, doesn't the husband have the right? MACARTHUR: No. First of all, there's no written documentation to prove what she would want. Secondly, there's nothing to indicate what she would want now. Thirdly, this is not about a right to die, this is about a right to live. She's not dying. And I think, it needs be made very clear. This woman is not dying. She's not any on medication or drugs. She's just being fed and given water.
KING: Let's assume that he's telling the truth with what she said. What do you owe morally, the promise to someone when you promise someone something. He promised her he would do that. What does he owe her?
MACARTHUR: I think, that's a bad promise. You've got to take that one back.
KING: Bad promise.
MACARTHUR: Yes, you've got to take that one back. You can't take a live. The Bible says, God says, I give life, I take life, I am the Lord.
KING: So, therefore, your against capital punishment?
MACARTHUR: Oh, no.
KING: Wait a minute, I give life, I take life.
MACARTHUR: Yes, but God specifically delegates that to society in the scriptures very clearly. Everything else beyond that, of course, constitutes a kind of murder.
KING: Art, is this a great moral question to you, this case?
CAPLAN: It is a tough moral question, but it's a clear moral question. I think we've carved out a right to control what happens us to when we get in that hospital. If we don't want a blood transfusion. If we don't want chemotherapy. If we don't want insulin. If we don't want a feeding tube, we have the right to say, no. If we can't, our immediate family or husband or wife should be next in line to make that decision.
I'd say this, Larry. We heard something about God in the scriptures. God doesn't need feeding tubes. God, doesn't need antibiotics. If you want to pray and hope for a miracle, that's fine. As far as the secular side goes with science and the medicine, I think every one of us should be able to say I'm not afraid that someone in Washington, some third party is going to force upon me treatment I don't want.
MACARTHUR: Yes, I think it's a phenomenally important thing that the government is weighing on this. I think they're absolutely consist, because the Disabilities Act set their path, set their course. They're being consist to say part of the greatness of America and goodness of America is we take care of poor. We take are of the people who can't take care of themselves. We don't take a life. We're outraged at what has happened to this little girl. We're outraged. There we are in the same state wondering how we feel about taking another life because there's a perceivable difference. But in terms of the heart and soul of that woman, she's never had an MRI, as far as I know, never had CAT scan. The least in this technological age, we could take a real hard look at her real cognitive character.
KING: Do you think, Art, people have a right to die?
CAPLAN: I do. I think they have that right and no one should be allowed to take it away from them. It's a right that's exercised every day in nursing homes in hospice and hospitals. We see it with Lou Gehrig's Disease. We see it with people who basicly say I don't want to prolong my cancer.
I support that right. And don't think everybody is going to choose the same way. But in this country, I would hope we can say each one of us should be able to make that decision and not have any forced coercion imposed upon us by people in Washington. It should be local, and it should be up to each individual.
KING: Would you want to live with a tube, John?
MACARTHUR: Sure. I don't want somebody to take my life, particularly if I can't speak.
KING: So, you don't have a living will?
MACARTHUR: No. I -- Look, I believe in the sanctity of life. I will live as long as I can live. I want whatever medical care I need. I don't want heroic efforts if I'm brain dead. We're not talking about that. We're talking about literally taking someone's life. In a sense, this is, like, I suppose our friend here must believe in physician assisted suicide from what he says.
KING: Art, do you?
CAPLAN: No. What I believe in is...
MACARTHUR: How is it different?
CAPLAN: What I believe is letting people choose what they want to have done to them.
MACARTHUR: Well, if somebody says, OK, I want you to kill me, then what do you do, kill them?
KING: What about who's life is it
KING: It's my life.
CAPLAN: I'd say, I can ask -- I can ask -- I was going to say, Larry, I can ask for all kinds of things in life. What I can say is, it's my body, don't you touch it. Don't you treat me. Don't come near me with your medicines if I don't want it. I have the right to be left alone.
KING: We have -- We have not heard the last of it. Thanks, John.
MACARTHUR: And she's not saying that, by the way.
KING: Not saying anything (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
MACARTHUR: No, that's right.
KING: John MacArthur, president of the Masters College, Art Caplan, chairman of the Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania. What a night. I'll be back in a couple of minutes, tell you about the weekend. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night, Peter Max (ph) will be with us, another great artist and a great lawyer too.
Sunday night, we'll repeat our interview with Rick Warren, who's become more famous then ever.
And Monday night, Joe and Tina Simpson, the parents of Jessica and Ashlee Simpson.
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