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Interview With Michael Schiavo; Interview With Mark Lunsford, Angela Bryant

Aired March 21, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Michael Schiavo speaks out as we await a judge's ruling that could end or save the life of his brain- damaged wife, Terri. Now that his bitter legal battle for her right to die has made U.S. history, with Congress and the president getting involved. We've got all the latest in this still developing story, dividing the country.
And then, Mark Lunsford and Angela Bryant, the parents of abducted and murdered 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford share their thoughts and feelings now that a registered sex offender stands charged with Jessica's capital murder.

Phone calls for all, too, and all next on "LARRY KING LIVE."

We begin in Clearwater, Florida with Michael Schiavo, Terri Schiavo's husband, and George Felos. George is the attorney for Michael Schiavo. Earlier today, Judge James Whittemore heard arguments on Bob and Mary Schindler's request for a temporary restraining order on the Florida State Court ruling that allowed the removal of their daughter's feeding tube. The judge has taken it under advisement. Michael, have you heard anything from Judge Whittemore?

MICHAEL SCHIAVO, TERRI'S HUSBAND: I haven't heard a thing, no.

KING: George, have you heard anything?

GEORGE FELOS, MICHAEL SCHIAVO'S ATTORNEY: No, the judge made it pretty clear, Larry, that he's going to take a little bit of time to review the evidence very carefully and the record very carefully, and he did not indicate when he would issue a ruling, but obviously it's going to be pretty soon.

SCHIAVO: I wasn't there for the hearing. I stayed with Terri.

KING: And you've been with Terri throughout this, right?

SCHIAVO: Yes, I have.

KING: Except you weren't there when they pulled the plug.

SCHIAVO: No, that was a little too painful for me, but I've been with her ever since.

KING: Michael, first, what was your reaction to what happened last night in the Congress?

SCHIAVO: I think it's outrageous, and I think that every person in this country should be scared. The government is going to trample all over your private and personal matters. It's outrageous that these people that we elect are not letting you have your civil liberties to choose what you want when you die. They're going to tell you, you can't.

KING: Michael, when President Bush said, though, when it comes down to such a great question, and the answer is, like, beyond, and people are disagreeing and the like, isn't it better to come down on the side of living for a while?

SCHIAVO: Larry, she's lived like this for 15 years. We have been in court for seven years. This is what Terri wanted, and this is what it's been found that Terri wanted. Just because you believe that things should err on the side of life because that's what you believe in, what about Terri? What about Terri Schiavo? What did she believe in? Don't take that away from her.

KING: Is...

FELOS: If it takes this long for a patient to reach a decision, then no one will ever have a choice to refuse medical treatment. No one should have to wait seven years to have their medical treatment choice carried out.

KING: Michael, if Terri is not in pain, then it might be put -- and I don't mean this crudely -- so what? You're not paying for it. She's not in pain. She's not harmful to anyone and no one harmful to her. So what?

SCHIAVO: Again, Larry, you've asked me this question before. This is what Terri wants. She does not want to be in this condition. She does not want to exist in this condition. And I'm going to carry out what she wanted.

KING: But she didn't specifically say, a feeding tube. She might have said -- did she say coma? Did she say life support? Did she specify, if I'm on a feeding tube...

SCHIAVO: She said "no tubes for me."

FELOS: And that was in reaction to a -- one of the things she reacted to was watching a movie with her friend Joan, and a person was on a feeding tube, and when she said "no tubes for me," it was pertaining to somebody on tube feeding.

I mean, Larry, people don't sit down at the dinner table and say, well, if I have this medical condition, I don't want this precise treatment. People talk generally about their feelings and their desires. And that's exactly what Terri did.

SCHIAVO: You know, this happens across this...

KING: I'm sorry, go ahead, Michael. SCHIAVO: This happens across this country every day. People are removed from their feeding tubes every day across this country.

KING: But wouldn't it be...

SCHIAVO: And the government chose this one to pander for their religious rights, pander for their votes.

KING: Wouldn't it be ironic, Michael, if it were pulled and suddenly something happened and they found something that cures or aids people in this condition, and they can live at least a partial life again? Wouldn't you feel terrible?

SCHIAVO: There's nothing out there that's going to do that, Larry. Let's be realistic, Larry. You can't regrow a brain.

FELOS: And, Larry, would you want to be kept alive indefinitely on life support to the bitter end just for the sake of some miracle that may happen? I mean, if everyone thought that way, we'd all be hooked up to machines. That's not what people -- that's not what people want for themselves when they're talking about their end of life.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Michael Schiavo and George Felos. We'll also be taking your phone calls. If the judge makes any kind of announcement, you'll hear it right here. Don't go away.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Democrats and Republicans in Congress came together last night to give Terri Schiavo's parents another opportunity to save their daughter's life.


This is a complex case with serious issues. But in extraordinary circumstances like this, it is wise to always err on the side of life.




ROBERT SCHINDLER, TERRI'S FATHER: I think it's imperative that Terri receive a fair trial, and that's been our, you know, concern and frustration, is that everything that was presented in this trial before in the circuit court was being ignored. So hopefully if we get this in front of a federal court, that they will listen to the evidence as presented, and Terri will be a free woman again.


KING: Michael, do you know what he meant by the trial being unfair? SCHIAVO: That's an absurd statement. This trial, this court action has been lasting for seven years. Nineteen judges have heard this case. He's mad because it didn't go his way. He didn't get the verdict he wanted.

KING: George, is this now a federal case?

FELOS: It sure is, Larry. We've been up to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, down to the Middle District of Florida. And whatever the judge rules tomorrow, assuming he does rule tomorrow, I'm sure we're going to be probably up to the United States Supreme Court.

I just want to mention that I was really proud to be an American today, and a lawyer in that courtroom. This federal judge is under a lot of pressure. He has shown a lot of poise and courage, and that's one thing that makes our country great. You can have the president and the Congress going one way, but we also have the federal judiciary there to protect our civil liberties, and we're hopeful -- we're very hopeful that the judge will protect Terri's by denying the parents' request.

KING: What did he do in court that shows you he's courageous?

FELOS: Well, you have to understand, our state court judge has been under protection for a significant period of time. There are a lot of protesters. There's a lot of public opinion stirred against this. He made it very clear that he was going to be very methodical. He was going to look at all the evidence. He was going to consider this very carefully. And most important, that he was going to follow the law as presented to him, and we can't ask for more than that.

KING: Michael, are you surprised at all in the polls, ABC News coming out with one tonight, 60 percent oppose Congressional intervention. 70 percent called it inappropriate, 67 percent think that elected officials trying to keep your wife alive are doing so more for political advantage than of concern for her. Are you surprised that those polls indicate more people agree with you?

SCHIAVO: No, I'm not surprised at all. I think Americans should speak out. This is outrageous. These people should not be in our personal, private matters.

FELOS: The American people are very smart and have common sense, and they know when something stinks, and this sure did.

KING: Yes, but George, you will admit, in a matter of life and death when someone's not in pain, you would think, all right, it's been 15 years, so what if it's another year. Who's harmed, George? Who's harmed by keeping her -- in the whole matter -- who's harmed by keeping her alive? Let's do what Tom DeLay said. Forget the legal. Morally, who's harmed by keeping her alive?

FELOS: I think it's immoral to perpetuate her against her will. Our country was founded back in the Revolutionary War by patriots who said, give me liberty, or give me death. There was something about liberty that was even more precious than life itself, and that's what this country has been founded on. And she has the liberty, the right, to make her own personal choice. That's why her choice shouldn't be ignored, even if she is in a vegetative state.

KING: How about, Michael, the parents' point that she is a Catholic, and as a devout Catholic, no Catholic would agree to voluntary death?

SCHIAVO: That's another absurd statement. A lot of Catholics are taken off of ventilators. A lot of Catholics have living wills. A lot of Catholics make their wishes known to their families. Terri is a Catholic, but she wasn't a devout Catholic.

KING: In all this time, you have -- you're involved with someone else, you have children. Do you have any emotional tie left to Terri? In other words, this is just keeping a promise? Did you tell her when she said, I want to be removed, you will see that it would be? Did you make a promise to her?

SCHIAVO: Yes. I made a promise to her, like she did with me. I loved my wife. She will always be a part of my life. She will always be in my heart. Terri and I weren't against each other when this happened. We were very much in love, and she will always be a part of my heart, Larry. She will never leave it.

KING: How does it affect your feelings for your new family?

SCHIAVO: I can love more than one person. Everybody can do that.

KING: George, are you questioning -- are you saying it's only political? Are you saying that President Bush doesn't have any feelings for life and -- based on his stand and moral principles?

FELOS: Larry...

KING: There's no votes for George Bush. He can't run again.

FELOS: Larry -- well, Larry, a lot of people have very sincere and deeply held beliefs about the subject. That's why this case has generated so much controversy, and I think we should all respect the beliefs of others. I think the problem comes when you have one side of this debate say, well, the other side's wrong. Our beliefs are right, our beliefs are superior. It's that type of intolerance and confrontation, I think, which was stirred up in this case and evident in the Congress, that's wrong and it's counterproductive.

KING: Did you watch the Congressional proceedings last night, Michael?

SCHIAVO: Some of it, yes. I do have to say, there were a few, a few Democrats that stood up, and I was very proud to call them a Democrat, and I thank them.

KING: How did you feel when you learned today that President Bush had sign a law in Texas, when governor, permitting a hospital to take the life of someone in that kind of condition, if they couldn't pay, overriding the wishes of parents or husbands and wives?

SCHIAVO: Are you speaking about President Bush when he was governor of Texas?

KING: Yes. That's a law in Texas. Apparently -- there's a name for it -- that the hospital can remove a life support system if the patient is indigent, even though the mother or father may say don't.

SCHIAVO: OK. That's the first time I heard that. Yesterday when one of the gentleman stood up and did announce that, that when President Bush was governor of Texas, he signed a bill saying that a hospital can remove a feeding tube of an indigent person without the family's consent. Our president did that.

KING: George, what do you make of that?

FELOS: Well, obviously, there's a tremendous amount of hypocrisy there, in there's de facto medical rationing for the poor. There are people on Medicare who would live healthy lives if they could get a transplant, and Medicare doesn't cover it. Yet, for a woman with no consciousness, the same politicians want her life extended for decades. That would -- I mean, it's -- there's no logic there, and it would lead one to believe that a lot of this was politically motivated, and I think that's what the American people have concluded.

KING: Michael, why didn't you get divorced, marry the new woman in your life and let the decisions regarding Terri be up to the parents? I mean, there's no reason to stay married.

SCHIAVO: Larry, we've discussed this. I made a promise to Terri. I'm going to stick by her side, and I'm going to do this for her. Terri is not a piece of property you pass back and forth. She didn't say, when I become sick, give me back to my parents. I will stick by Terri.

KING: All right, emotionally, all right, you said it, isn't it hard for you? If that tube is not put back, going to be very hard for you, her husband, her lover, the man who found her in the morning when she had the attack, won't it be hard for you when she dies?

SCHIAVO: Of course it is, Larry. I never wanted her to be in this position, but she's there. It's going to be very hard. I've cried many tears so far. Trust me.

KING: Do you think her parents have any ulterior motive?

SCHIAVO: Well, their motives right now are to trump the state court and try to get this into federal court. You have the right wing constituents helping them out, you have the coalitions helping them out and you have Mr. Randall Terry -- which I must tell you, his act is so old now. He needs to just retire and move on -- running up to Tallahassee, running up to Congress, knocking on doors, giving them false information, and the leaders of our country are listening to that.

FELOS: Larry, that was one of the most sickening and distressing things in that Congressional debate, the amount of lying going on and deliberate spreading of misinformation. Those of us in this case who know what the facts are, we're just astounded at the level of untruth spread around. And I think that's one reason that the public is swaying -- the facts are misrepresented so much.

KING: We'll take a break and come back with more. We'll include phone calls. They'll be for the attorney, and we'll take your calls in just a moment.

Oh, by the way, tomorrow night, his first appearance since that book attained new headlines, Rick Warren, the author of the "Purpose Driven Life," will be our guest live tomorrow night, with your phone calls. The story last week out of Atlanta. Rick Warren, his first appearance since all of this story broke will be with us tomorrow night.

We'll be right back.


SUZANNE VITADAMO, TERRI SCHIAVO'S SISTER: We are very, very, very thankful to have crossed this bridge, and we're very hopeful, very hopeful, that the federal courts will follow the will of Congress and save my sister's life.




R. SCHINDLER: Look over her, Terri. Terri, there you go. Can you follow that, Terri? There you go. Can you follow that at all? Terri. Come on. Terri, no, no. Come on, I'm using both sound and something. Can you follow that? Can you see that? OK. Look over here. Look over here. That's fine. Look over here. Look over here. That's it. Now, look at there. Now come on over here. Now come on over here. There, you see that, don't you, huh?


KING: By the way, we should stress that the video that they show a lot is not current video. These are edited home videos from August of 2001. The other videos date from 2002.

Why, Michael, are there no current videos?

SCHIAVO: There are six and a half hours of video in the court's record.

KING: Current?

SCHIAVO: Judge has signed it. They're from the 2003 evidentiary trial. Was it 2003?

FELOS: 2002. SCHIAVO: 2002 evidentiary trial. The judge also signed an order there are to be no videos or audio taken of Terri without the consent of the court.

KING: Now, Michael, are you there a lot. I mean, do you have -- can you go there at any time? How does it work? Do you run into her parents when they go there?

SCHIAVO: No, I don't see her parents at all.

KING: Can you go at any time?

SCHIAVO: Oh, yes, oh, yes. I'm in and out of there all the time.

KING: But you've not run into them?

SCHIAVO: No, I haven't.

KING: Could anyone in that room feed her, spoon feed her?

SCHIAVO: No, they cannot.

KING: Because she can't swallow?

SCHIAVO: No, she can she cannot swallow at all.

KING: I see. So that feeding tube isn't in, she is dying by what, starvation?

SCHIAVO: Larry, she's not dying by starvation. This is a natural, painless death. What happens is when you stop eating, your electrolytes will slowly diminish. You'll slowly go into a nice, deep sleep and then pass away. This happens to people all the time. People with cancer in their last two to three weeks of living, they stop eating. This is how they die.

KING: Lets take a -- we'll take a few calls. We understand the call will be directed to George Felos, as per Michael's request. He wants it that way.

Spirit Lake, Idaho, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi, go ahead.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. With regards to Mark Lunsford, our hearts and prayers go out to him. I'm just wondering, I am receiving an E- mail from a gal by the name of Debbie (ph). And she is soliciting that this particular E-mail be sent to E-mails that I, you know, may know of. It is a letter to the -- a petition to the U.S. government, and I'm just wondering if that's actually coming from the Lunsford family?

KING: What -- you've got Lunsford's and Schiavo's mixed up? CALLER: Pardon me?

KING: We're talking with Michael Schiavo.

CALLER: Right. And I was on the line...

KING: You mentioned, Mr. Lunsford, he's on later.

CALLER: Right, and I was on the line to talk to Mr. Lunsford, according to your gal.

KING: Oh, well, she gave me the wrong information. I'm sorry. I don't know what -- we're taking calls now for Michael Schiavo through his attorney, George Felos.

Do you have any expectations, George, about how the judge might rule?

FELOS: Larry, it's hard to predict what courts will do. We were very encouraged in the argument in court and the questioning of the judge. He asked some hard questions of the parents. And basically what the judge is going to look at is this, the parents have to prove that there's a good chance that they'll win this case in order to have the feeding tube put back in.

And unless they can do that, the judge won't put it back in. And I think there were a lot of doubts raised in the court's questioning as to whether the parents could prevail. I think the court, by just mentioning all the proceedings, is indicating that things were done properly in the court system, and Terri's due process rights were protected.

KING: No matter what the ruling is, will that appeal on either side go right to the U.S. Supreme Court?

FELOS: Eventually. It will probably take a little stop your way in Atlanta at the 11th Circuit. But I'm sure within a couple of hours it will be up in the United States Supreme Court.

KING: Sebastian, Florida. Hello.

CALLER: Hello. Mr. Felos, I -- my question is -- I mean, for one thing, I do support Michael in his endeavors for removing the tube, but has anybody ever considered Terri's quality of life? I mean, at this point, for 15 years, she's been this way. She has no quality of life. Wouldn't it be better for her to not continue living in this condition?

KING: In fairness, George, her parents said today, that when they told her it was going to federal court, she smiled.

FELOS: Well, I'm sure desperate parents see what they want to see. Terri doesn't have any cognition, Larry. Quality of life is one of those tricky thing because it's a very personal and individual decision. I don't think any of us have the right to make a judgment about quality of life for another. And decisions in these cases should not be made upon whether we think another person's life is worth living or not. I think the decision should be made based upon what that particular person wanted or didn't want.

KING: We'll be back with some more moments with Michael Schiavo and George Felos, his attorney.

And then we'll talk with Mark Lunsford, the father Jessica Lunsford, the late Jessica Lunsford.

You're watching "LARRY KING LIVE," don't go away.


R. SCHINDLER: Asked her if she was ready to take a little ride. And I told her that we were going to take her for a little trip and take her outside and get her some breakfast, and I got a big smile out of her face. So, help me God.



KING: We're back with Michael Schiavo and his attorney, George Felos. They are in Clearwater, Florida. And we go back to the calls, and we go to Niagara Falls, Ontario. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, sir.


CALLER: Quick comment. I'm not understanding why a blood relative wouldn't make this decision and not a non-blood relative. My question is, if this happened 15 years ago, and this gentleman and his wife decided between them that they would pull the tube and let each other die if they were in this kind of a situation, what took him eight years to make that decision and why didn't he make it in those first eight years and has now had another seven years tacked on?

KING: Michael doesn't want to respond (UNINTELLIGIBLE). George, you want to respond?

FELOS: Sure. For those years, Michael was trying desperately to -- as, I guess, he had a desperate hope that Terri would get better, despite the doctors telling him that, you know, Mike, there's nothing there, there is no hope. He refused to believe it. It took many, many years for Michael to finally, I guess, come to reality and believe that Terri was not coming back.

KING: Michael, how is your fiancee taking all of this, how is she handling this rollercoaster ride you're on?

SCHIAVO: She's very supportive of me, and I'm really not going to make any comments about that part of my life.

KING: Norfolk, Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Yes, I'd like to know, when Terri Schiavo dies, how much money does Michael get?

KING: George?

FELOS: Zero. He won't inherit one penny. Larry, I also wanted to say, if I just have a chance...

KING: Sure.

FELOS: ... if there's anything that would make somebody go out and get a living will, it should be this case. I mean, every American out there should get a written living will and specify what their medical treatment choices are, what their wishes are, so at least maybe some good will come out of this case, that Americans -- other Americans won't have to go through this.

KING: Do you have one, George?

FELOS: I sure do.

KING: Do you, Michael?

FELOS: Do you want to get one, Larry?

SCHIAVO: Yes, I do.

KING: No. Do you, Michael -- Michael, do you have one?

SCHIAVO: Yes, I do.

FELOS: Larry, get one.

KING: Was it recent, or have you always had one?

SCHIAVO: Who are you asking, me?

KING: Michael.

SCHIAVO: I've had one for about six years, seven years now.

KING: Shreveport, Louisiana, hello.

CALLER: Yes, I have two questions. I'd like to know why it took him so long to decide that he wanted her to die, and also what happened to the money that was given to her to take care of her for her therapy?

KING: The first question was answered, that for a long time he felt that she might pull through. George, what about the financial end?

FELOS: Well, as on the financial end, Terri's money for years went to her medical care and to her nursing home care, and her guardianship money has also gone to the legal costs and fees. But there hasn't been any money there for, oh, about three years.

KING: Villa Rica, Georgia, hello. CALLER: Yes, I would like to know how long he had lived with that woman, and what are the laws in that state about being common-law married?

KING: Well, he can't be common-law married if he's not divorced. How long were you and Terri married, Mike?

SCHIAVO: We've been married for 20 years.

KING: Including all this time, right?


KING: How did you meet?

SCHIAVO: Terri and I?

KING: Yeah.

SCHIAVO: We met in college, in community college. I believe it was a psychology class.

KING: Were you planning a family?

SCHIAVO: Yes, we were. We were trying to get pregnant.

KING: What was finally diagnosed as the reason for what happened to her?

SCHIAVO: They're speculating that she had bulimia.

KING: Did you have any knowledge of that?

SCHIAVO: No, I did not.

KING: Was she concerned about her weight?

SCHIAVO: Believe me -- she was always concerned with her weight, yes. She was very heavy when she was younger, before I met her. Bulimia is a very secretive disease. You can ask any psychologist about that, that deals with that, and he'll tell you that it's a very secretive, quiet disease. Family members will never -- will tell you that they never knew that she -- these bulimics were that way.

KING: Michael, what do you think is going to happen?

SCHIAVO: You know, Larry, I'm taking it day by day now. That's all I can do. It's in the hands of the judge right now, and I'll let him decide.

KING: George?

FELOS: I'll just repeat what Michael says. We don't know. We have confidence in the judge to do the right thing, and we can just hope.

KING: Does this judge, can he rule on the constitutionality of the law they passed last night?

FELOS: Sorry, Larry. He can, and we asked him to. We believe this law is unconstitutional, and we don't even have to get to the other aspects of the act. Because it restricts a person's right to privacy, it's presumptively unconstitutional, and that could be a basis for the court's ruling.

KING: And Michael, you're not questioning the sincerity of everyone who disagrees with you, are you? It's not all right-wing or all -- because certainly you would agree that many, many people can have a counterview.

SCHIAVO: Oh, yes, everybody's entitled to their opinion. I agree, you know. But keep it to yourself. Don't push it on other people.

KING: Finally, you agree, Michael, that there is no happy ending here? There's no happy ending.

SCHIAVO: No, there's no happy ending. When Terri's wishes are carried out, it will be her wish. She'll be at peace. She'll be with the Lord.

KING: Thank you, Michael Schiavo and George Felos. Again, we have no ruling yet from the judge, Judge James Whittemore at the U.S. District Court.

When we come back, Michael Lunsford, the father of the late Jessica Lunsford. Don't go away.


R. SCHINDLER: Look up, look up, follow it, follow it, follow it. OK. OK now. Look up. Look up here again. OK, I see. OK. Now, Terri, Terri, look at me. Look at me over here. No, over here, Terri. Try and look at me. I understand one eye -- one eye is further out, the right eye is further out than the left, so when she looks this way, the right eye has the tendency to be further over toward me. Look at me over here.



KING: Joining us now in Homosassa Springs, Florida, is Mark Lunsford, the father of the late -- that's hard to say -- the late Jessica Lunsford, the 9-year-old girl who was kidnapped from her bedroom and killed. The suspect is John Couey, who was charged today with capital murder in the abduction, and killing. He's a registered sex offender.

Mark, what do you want to have -- if Mr. Couey is guilty of all this, if everything is as it appears, what do you want to have happen to him?

MARK LUNSFORD, FATHER OF ABDUCTED, MURDERED 9-YEAR-OLD JESSICA LUNSFORD: I'd like to see them bring the electric chair to Florida. To my understanding, it's death by lethal injection. I just want him to die. That's all I want him to do. I just want him to die.

KING: Mark, how were you told that Jessica was killed?

LUNSFORD: It was very discreet. They were very careful about how they told me and that she died from asphyxiation.

KING: Who told you?

LUNSFORD: The sheriff's department.

KING: They did it in person, I hope.

LUNSFORD: Oh, yes.

KING: Now, I know Angela, your ex-wife, was supposed to come on tonight, but she declined.

Mark, how are you -- first, how are you living? How are you taking all of this?

LUNSFORD: Well, I mean, I just got a new fight on my hands, and you've seen how I am when I make up my mind to do something and what I want to talk about, and now it's time to change some of our laws.

To me, anybody that commits a heinous crime against a child should receive the death penalty. The registration with them should be federal. You can go to a lot of different Web sites and get one picture, but not another, and it all needs to be on one.

KING: What about -- there are some who think that since this apparently is not curable, do you think they should not be let out?

LUNSFORD: No, I don't. If they think it's not curable, then I can't imagine why they're even letting them out.

KING: Did you at all...

LUNSFORD: I don't think people that...

KING: I'm sorry, go ahead.

LUNSFORD: I don't think people that -- if you commit a crime against a child, I mean, you just don't deserve to be out. You should be in prison. If it's a heinous crime, then you should be put to death. The children are our future. If we can spend billions of dollars saving our ozone layer, ozone layer and other things, why can't we spend billions and billions of dollars of saving our children?

KING: What have you heard from your community?

LUNSFORD: My community is very supportive to me, and even now, and they want to be more. I mean -- and it's not just my community. It's coming from all over the United States. KING: And what's the reason -- some might say, you know, when this happens, it might be better to just shrink away. Like, why are you on tonight?

LUNSFORD: Because we can't just shrink away. There's other children out here. There's families that don't have closure. There's children that's not been found. There's people that's committed crimes against children and they're still walking, and that's not right. There's nothing right about it at all, and I really need -- I mean, I've not asked for anything from the politicians and people like that, but now I'm asking them, you know, we need to make a difference. We need to change some things. This is too close to home. I'm standing here talking to you and I'm trying not to look at these people's house, and I mean, this ain't right. This ain't right at all.

KING: The house is where in relation to where you're standing?

LUNSFORD: I don't even have to turn my head. I can just move my eyes and I'm looking at the front porch.

KING: How on earth did he get into your house?

LUNSFORD: They've started to go over that with me. I didn't really stick around for all that. They told me how my daughter died and what happened to her, and that's all I needed to hear. I'm just -- right now I'm focused on changing the laws, and that's my fight now.

KING: Authorities, though, do say there may have been an unlocked door. If that's true, do you feel any guilt at all?

LUNSFORD: Well, of course I do. I mean, all this time I've said something about the front door, and I mean, my guilt, actually -- I mean, I know it's not my fault, but what if I'd have been here? If I'd have been here, then this -- maybe this wouldn't have happened.

KING: And you'd like to see the laws strengthened in the way, obviously, you favor capital punishment for anything like this involving a child.


KING: What else do you want in regard to predators? Do you want them listed on more than a Web site? Explain what you want.

LUNSFORD: Well, there's a lot of people that don't even have access to computers. There's a lot of people that don't have any way to get this stuff. We need to make it accessible to everyone. And it all needs to be on one, you know, not different Web sites, but just one where you can get a picture of every one of them, anywhere.

So far, the way they're registering these guys, it's not working out real good, and we need to change that for sure. It should be federal. It should be all in one. Doesn't matter where they're at. I mean, it's hard for me to explain things because I've never had to do it before, but I'm learning, and I'm figuring it out.

I don't see -- I mean, if we could have GPS on our phones, why can't we put GPS on them? Why can't there be halfway houses where they can live and be monitored if they're going to let them out of prison?

KING: You make a strong case. Did you at all ever see Mr. Couey in the neighborhood?

LUNSFORD: No, Larry, I've never seen him before. I never knew his name, but I know who he is now, and I know what I want to happen to him.

KING: In there is a trial, would you attend?

LUNSFORD: Every day. Every day.

KING: When is Jessica's funeral?

LUNSFORD: We're having a viewing for the family on Thursday, family and friends on Friday, and on Saturday, at the Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church in Crystal River on Highway 19 at 1:00 on Saturday, and that's a memorial service to the public.

KING: That's this Saturday, 1:00 p.m., Highway 19, Crystal City. Where is it at?

LUNSFORD: It's Crystal Rivers. It's Seven Rivers Presbyterian Hospit -- Presbyterian Church.

KING: Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church, Crystal Rivers, Florida, Highway 19.

LUNSFORD: Yes, sir.

KING: We'll take a break, come back, and take calls for Mark Lunsford. We'll be right back with Mark Lunsford after this.


KING: We're back with Mark Lunsford. Four other people, apparently living at that house were arrested. Do you know anything more about that, Mark?

LUNSFORD: No, I don't. I really didn't, you know, haven't talked to the sheriff about those people.

KING: The church where Jessica attended, yesterday the Faith Baptist Church, the pastor asked for forgiveness for Mr. Couey. Were you there?

LUNSFORD: No, I wasn't.

KING: How do you respond?

LUNSFORD: Well, I mean, you know, that's the way -- that's the way things are in church, it's forgiving. But not with me. I can't forgive this man for what he's done. I devoted my life to raising kids, and I've got grandkids now, and this was the last one. This is all I had to do was raise Jessie, and he took that away from me. I mean, the man -- just Anybody who hurts a child should be put to death. That's our future.

KING: By the way, would you like to work with Marc Klaas and John Walsh and others who have lost children and make their life a battle against fighting this?

LUNSFORD: I hope one day that I would be able to compare myself and work beside these guys. They've been through so much, and they've done so much. I mean, I'm at the beginning. I'm down here at the bottom right now, but I'm trying to work my way up.

KING: Yes, they've been through what you've been through. You've been through what they've been through.

LUNSFORD: Yes, they have, and they've learned how to deal with it. And they've learned how to accomplish things to help and save missing children.

KING: Some are questioning the police handling of the case since the body was found about 150 yards from where you lived. Do you have any criticism of the police?

LUNSFORD: No, no. The sheriff's department has done the most wonderful job. You know, it didn't turn out the way either one of us wanted it, but she came home, and can't nobody hurt her now. And Couey will never hurt anybody again.

KING: Let's take a call for Mark Lunsford. Spring Hill, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I'd -- first of all, I'd like to say my sympathy and prayers go out to you and your family. I feel like that this has become part of my life. I've followed it. And having a 10-year-old daughter really hits home. And I just want to know as parents what we could do to help you to try to make people aware. I know I get on the computer at least once a week, and I check the area out and I look at the predators, and they're all around the area. And I don't let my daughter even in the driveway alone. But I wish there was something I could do for you and for everybody. Or something you can give us to do to help you?

KING: Mark.

LUNSFORD: Pray. Pray a whole lot more. Write your Congressman a letter. Let's get real loud with these people, OK? And let them hear us. And they'll help us. They will help us. That's what they're there for. I've been contacted by some people, senators -- it's just been overwhelming with who's trying to help me. Just, you know, sign these petitions that we put out. I'm working on one. I've got some lawyers working on one that's a little more defined on what I want. And the way I feel like it should be taken care of. This is all about Jessie. You know, it ain't for me. It ain't for anybody else. It's just for Jessie and other little kids. We have to save our children from people like this.

KING: What are you doing with her room at the house?

LUNSFORD: Nothing. We're not doing anything with it. We're putting a lot of cards in there that the kids from the school sent and stuff like that. People are bringing a lot of flowers and stuffed animals. We're trying to -- I got all the stuffed animals that I could into the house before they got wet from the rain. And that's what I continue to try to do with that.

KING: Edmonton, Kentucky, hello. I'm sorry. Are you there, Edmonton?

CALLER: Yes, I am.

KING: All right. Go ahead. I'm sorry.

CALLER: Yes, Mark, this call is for you. Anyway that I can ever help you pass a bill, that were -- a sex offender that's ever done anything like this, they need to be wearing a bracelet where they're known at all times, don't you agree.

LUNSFORD: Well, if you commit a heinous crime against a child, you should receive the death penalty. The way the system works -- I'm not a politician. I don't know how to word things. I come up with a lot of confusion in trying to explain what I want. But if they're a danger to children and they're going to let them walk around, then why can't we use GPS? We've got it on cell phones. We can tag our dogs. Why can't we tag these guys? I mean, they're not much better -- well, actually, dogs are better than them. At least they will listen.

KING: Do you think it's coming to that, Mark?

LUNSFORD: I hope it does. They should be tagged. They should be branded. We ought to be able to post their pictures on billboards. I mean, they're a threat.

KING: Best of luck to you, Mark. Our deepest condolences from everyone here at CNN.

LUNSFORD: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Mark Lunsford, the father of Jessica Lunsford. The funeral is this Saturday at 1:00 in Crystal River.

And I'll be back and tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Tomorrow night, Rick Warren joins us, exclusive. He's just back from Africa. He's the author of the "Purpose Driven Life." That book may have saved the life of that young lady in Atlanta last week. Rick Warren tomorrow night.

Right now Aaron Brown takes things over. He's going to host "NEWSNIGHT" out of New York. And he's going to do a full hour on a perplexing problem, right, Aaron?


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