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Search for Two Missing Toddlers Ends in Heartbreak; Debbie Rowe to Testify Against Ex-Husband Michael Jackson
Aired April 25, 2005 - 20:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight, the search for two missing toddlers, 2- year-old Nicole and her 3-year-old little brother, Jonah, ends in heartbreak. Their bodies found in a pond very close to their own home. Is foul play involved?
And Michael Jackson`s ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, will go under oath and take the witness stand.
And is Martha Stewart out of the fire, into the frying pan?
Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. And I want to thank you for being with us tonight.
She`s taking Michael Jackson to court to fight for custody of her own two biological children. But now Debbie Rowe is headed to the witness stand for the state in the Michael Jackson child sex trial. That`s a powder keg waiting to explode.
And did Martha Stewart party a little too hearty? The feds want to know whether partygoer is part of Stewart`s job description.
But first, tonight, the search called off for 2-year-old Nicole and her 3-year-old brother, Jonah Payne, missing since Saturday. Their mom left them alone in their home just briefly she says. Their bodies discovered in a nearby pond.
Tonight, in Warrenton, Georgia, from the Office of Emergency Services, Sandy Yelton; in Atlanta, defense attorney Renee Rockwell; in Seattle, defense lawyer Anne Bremner; in L.A., psychoanalyst Bethany Marshall.
But first, let`s go to CNN`s correspondent Tony Harris.
Tony, bring me up-to-date, friend. I think I`ve got Tony with me.
OK, hold on. Elizabeth, do I have Tony? OK. He can`t hear me.
Let me go quickly then to Sandy Yelton. She`s the media coordinator with the Office of Emergency Services.
Sandy Yelton, it couldn`t have ended any worse than finding the kids basically hiding in plain sight at a pond so close to the home. What can you tell us tonight, Sandy?
SANDY YELTON, GEORGIA OFFICE OF EMERGENCY SERVICES: Basically, all I can tell you is that the bodies were found earlier today in a wastewater pond that belongs to the city. I`m not sure of the exact distance that the pond is from the house, but it is, I would say, within a half a mile of the home. And really, that`s all I know.
GRACE: Well, Sandy, the pond apparently was used for government purposes. Is it a waste pond? I mean, it`s covered in very thick algae.
YELTON: It is. It has very thick algae over it. I saw it this afternoon. It covers all of the pond, as a matter of fact, the algae does. It`s a totally -- if you look at it, it`s green with algae.
GRACE: You know, that could definitely have thrown off the search efforts. You know, they couldn`t see in there. My question to you is, what can you tell us about the search effort? Why did it take so long to find the kids?
YELTON: Well, the search effort began right after we received the call from the mother on Saturday night, which was around 6:00 p.m. We searched until 1 o`clock that morning, called it off because night searches have proven in the past to be unproductive. If there`s any clues or any evidence, you are usually walking all over them in the dark. We began the search again at daybreak on Sunday morning.
GRACE: Let me quickly go to CNN correspondent Tony Harris. I think we`ve got our audio cleared up.
Tony, can you bring me up-to-date, friend?
TONY HARRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I sure can, Nancy. I only wish you could have seen the expressions on the faces of the law enforcement officials who gave us a briefing at about 11 o`clock this morning on the update on what kind of progress they were making in trying to find the children. We walked away thinking that, boy, this was not going well.
And throughout the afternoon, we began to hear information, bits of information here and there, that seemed to indicate that this was not going well. And then at about, oh, about 3 o`clock or so this afternoon, there was just a flurry of activity.
Just to set the scene for you, we`re in Warrenton, as I`m sure you`ve told all of your viewers. And behind me, you see a pond. And just over my other shoulder is the road leading up to the family home.
There was a flurry of activity around 3 o`clock this afternoon. We understand some officials from the children`s school made their way to the family home. And then the pastor for the family made his way to the family home.
As for the search, it was about 12:15 or so this afternoon that an officer in this brand-new search of this area around this family home, about 200, 300 yards from the home is this sanitation pond where the children`s bodies were found. And this officer is walking along the bank of the sanitation pond when he notices what he describes as a bump in the water.
And sadly, that turned out to be the body of 2-year-old Nicole, and then a short time later, the body of 3-year-old Jonah was found.
GRACE: Tony, Tony, do we know the cause of death yet?
HARRIS: We don`t know the cause of death. The bodies have been taken to the GBI lab in Augusta, Georgia, where a complete autopsy will be performed.
GRACE: Tony, tell me, what do the parents have to say? How did the kids get out of the home?
HARRIS: Well, we talked to the father of the children, Dennis Payne, a short time ago. And what he said is that 2-year-old Nicole was the really precocious one, and that she was the one, on many occasions, who would just -- who understood how to unlock the door, to get out of the front door, and understood how to unlatch the gate, to get out of the gate.
Understand, Nancy, what we learned later this afternoon is that this is not uncommon for these children. Earlier the day they disappeared on Saturday, the children apparently wandered off. And neighbors in the community called to tell Lottie, the children`s mother, Lottie Kain, that the children had wandered off and that they were safe and sound.
GRACE: Tony, Tony, let me interrupt you quickly.
HARRIS: Yes, sure, sure.
GRACE: Joining us by phone, the children`s father, Dennis Payne.
Mr. Payne, thank you for being with us.
DENNIS PAYNE, FATHER OF CHILDREN FOUND DEAD: Hi.
GRACE: Mr. Payne, I am so sorry. Our prayers and our thoughts are with you and your wife.
PAYNE: Thank you.
GRACE: Sir, how do you think the kids got out of the house?
PAYNE: Well, my wife, simply like she said, she was in the room and they -- the youngest one opened up the door. That`s what she said. And when she came around the corner, the door was wide open, and the kids were gone.
GRACE: Oh, gosh.
PAYNE: And we ran around the house, the yard, and everything looking for them. No sign of them.
GRACE: Sir, how are you and your wife doing tonight?
PAYNE: Right now, we`re in a lot of hurt and a lot of grief because it was her first two kids. And the youngest one (UNINTELLIGIBLE) was closer to me because I delivered her.
GRACE: Well, they are beautiful. They are absolutely beautiful.
PAYNE: They are. They was my pride and joy. They was both of our pride and joy. And she loved them anyway. I mean, she loved them every which way.
She was a good mother. Like I said to people, you can`t let your eyes off those kids not for one minute. You never know what they`re going to do.
GRACE: Now, your wife had, I understand, just gone into the bathroom briefly.
PAYNE: Yes, just for about 15 minutes. And she kept calling their names.
GRACE: In 15 minutes they got out? And they got out in 15 minutes?
PAYNE: In 15 minutes. And I mean, she kept calling their names. And she didn`t hear no noise. So that`s when she just jumped up and went in the living room.
When she didn`t, she went around the corner. When she came around the corner, she seen the front door was wide open.
GRACE: Oh, gosh. Now, how far away was this pond from your house?
PAYNE: It`s a pretty good ways. That`s why we`re trying to figure out how they got down there. They ain`t never been down there.
GRACE: Where were you? Where were you, Mr. Payne? You were at work?
GRACE: So you were in -- what happened? Did she call 911 quickly or did she go out to try to find them herself?
PAYNE: She tried to find them first, and then she called 911.
GRACE: Yes, you`d think that they would be in the yard, maybe playing around the car.
PAYNE: That`s what she -- that`s why she went in around the yard and looked first. And then, I mean, to be honest with you, I don`t have a answer for any of those because I wasn`t here.
GRACE: Yes, and then the longer she looked in the yard, unbeknownst to her, the further away the kids were getting, you know, if that`s what happened to them.
PAYNE: It`s like we said, where that pond is, that`s a good, good ways. And I don`t even have no answer or any information about it to give right now.
GRACE: Yes, sir. Is there a fence around that pond?
PAYNE: What I understand, there was. There`s a chain-link fence.
GRACE: Now, I don`t -- but there are holes in the fence that the toddlers could have gotten through?
PAYNE: Well, that`s what I don`t have that information. That`s why I`m here. Everybody is telling me about it but I never got told that. And that`s why I`d like to know what`s going on, because we did walk down there just a few minutes ago, and we got back from the...
GRACE: How long did it take you to walk that, Mr. Payne?
PAYNE: Well, we didn`t take a long -- you know, trying to get shortcuts and trying to get rid of people following us. So me and my wife could have some time, and go down there, and see it, and pray a little prayer, and look at it.
We would have been there in a few minutes. I mean, the oldest boy, he gets running, he`s real stumbley. I mean, he`ll trip. And no woods -- he`ll trip over a tree stump real quick.
That`s what I`m saying. There`s no way that -- I don`t know. To really be honest, I`m trying to figure this all out. And that`s why right now I`m so confused.
GRACE: Oh, I know you are. I know nothing makes sense to you right now. I just...
PAYNE: I mean, because I know those two little ones, they can move.
GRACE: They can take off. They can take off. It`s hard to catch them. But what would they have had to go through to get from the house to the pond all on their own? Wouldn`t they have had to go through forest, and trees, and the fence?
PAYNE: That`s where we live. A punch of pine forests. And that`s why I`m saying there`s no way...
GRACE: That they could get there all on their own. Look, I`m from Georgia, too. I know exactly what you are talking about. I grew up in a rural area and look how thick.
Elizabeth, did you just see how thick that brush was they were getting through?
PAYNE: Well, what I -- when we got there, there is a little road path. But we never took them over that way, never.
GRACE: So how would they know to get there exactly?
PAYNE: Well, we took that road path one time, a long, long time ago, and there`s no way they could recall that road. But I think they were smart. They fooled us. Like I said, my little girl could pull up a stool by the sink and start washing dishes.
GRACE: Well, the other thing is, she managed to beat the lock on the door and get out before. This was not the first time.
PAYNE: No, there was no beating. There was no beating. She turned it like a grown-up would turn.
GRACE: Well, the thing is, this is not the first time. It`s not unheard of for them to get out of the house. They got out of the house recently. And the neighbors saw them. And they came back home. So we know they know how to get out on their own.
PAYNE: Yes, they did. And you know, like I said, we was going to put a chain across the door, like a safety chain, but it was too late.
GRACE: Oh, gosh.
PAYNE: We just bought it. We was going to put it on that evening.
GRACE: Mr. Payne, have they told you the cause of death yet?
PAYNE: I have no information about it yet. Like I said, the law enforcement, and the rescue people, and the GBIs, they are doing a wonderful job. They did a good job.
And I don`t know. I`d rather let them handle it, and then as soon as they get all they need to know, they`ll let us know. But...
GRACE: Mr. Payne...
PAYNE: ... the only thing I can say, those kids mean a lot to her. We loved them. And we still love them, and they always will be in our hearts.
And there won`t be nothing to replace them, one thing you can`t -- you know you`re lost. And I wish I could bring them back, but I can`t.
And the only thing I can say, they are in a better place with God now. I wish I could bring them back. They mean a lot to me. And I wish I -- it was just too short of time.
And excuse me, I`m just losing my voice. But like I said...
GRACE: Mr. Payne, thank you for talking to us.
PAYNE: My wife, and she`s hurting big time. And like I said, she had -- you could do whatever -- you know, you could give them time-out and everything, but my little one, she was a hard-head. And she will keep going, and keep going, and keep doing it. She was a daredevil.
And I wish -- I don`t know what to, you know, say. That`s all I can say. I want everybody to know that thank you from the bottom of our hearts of the people who have been out here voluntarily and everybody who took time to help us.
And I want you to let them know that we really mean -- we really loved them and appreciate them for helping us find our kids. And I wish it wasn`t in that term, but, you know, I still want to know some answers, and I want to know how it happened, really.
GRACE: Mr. Payne, thank you for being with us. I know that this must be one of the worst nights of your life.
PAYNE: It is. I have never in my life had this ever happen to me. And to be honest, I don`t know what I`m going to do. I mean, I don`t know -- I have a confusing mind.
I have never experienced this before. But I will always let people know, don`t ever, ever leave your sight with your kids. And make sure, if you have to, put dead bolts or something, because that`s the only way you`re going to protect them.
They`re young, they want to have fun. They had a backyard. They had a front yard. They never -- and what I don`t understand, they left the front yard. Why was the gate closed?
GRACE: Mr. Payne, I know that you must be beside yourself tonight. And I don`t know what good it will do for the way you feel tonight, but please know there are millions of people praying for you and your family and your little children tonight.
Thank you for being with us.
PAYNE: I appreciate it.
GRACE: Yes, sir.
PAYNE: Thank you for your time. And I just want to let people know that we all appreciate everybody`s concern. And just all we can do is say a prayer. And we said they are with God right now.
And I wish it would never have happened. I wish I could bring them back, but I can`t.
GRACE: With us, the father of the two toddlers missing, Dennis Payne, speaking out. Please stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BANKHEAD, DIR. OF COMMUNICATIONS, GEORGIA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATIONS: It appears that our worst fears have been realized. The bodies of Jonah and Nicole were found at approximately 12:15 today in a sanitation pond approximately a few hundred yards from the house to the left, in that direction.
The bodies were positively I.D.`d by the father using a photograph. They`ve been taken to the Augusta GBI crime lab where an autopsy will be performed in the morning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE: I just want to thank law enforcement. And they did a wonderful job, all the hard work. And the Warrenton police, the sheriff`s department rescue. From both of us, thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Parents mourning the death of their little children. Two- year-old Nicole, three-year-old Jonah Payne found dead today in a small pond just a short distance away from their home. When I say short, it`s a couple of hundred yards from the home, thick brush and a fence separating them from their home.
Welcome back. I`m Nancy Grace.
Let`s quickly go back down to CNN correspondent Tony Harris.
Tony, is there any evidence of foul play?
HARRIS: Well, you know what, Nancy? Let me pick up on something that you just mentioned, because I think it`s very important to fill out this story here. You mentioned that the sanitation pond is just a few hundred yards away from the family home.
And as Dennis was talking about it, he mentioned how there were trees, and there`s brush, and there are fallen trees and fallen limbs. I`ve got to tell you, he also mentioned -- and this is important -- there is a road that will take you essentially from the road into the wooded area and directly to a fence that surrounds that sanitation pond. And there is a gate on that fence.
I asked the sheriff here, Sheriff McClain, if I could walk that path. And he was kind enough to allow me to walk that path. And I will tell you, there is a direct path right to the gate that is a part of that fencing that protects that pond. And I don`t know if there was enough give in that fence where there was locked that Saturday.
GRACE: Tony, Tony...
HARRIS: Yes? Yes?
GRACE: ... Tony, I get it. There`s a path.
GRACE: My question, is there a fence around the pond? How tall is the fence?
HARRIS: There is a fence around the pond. And there is a gate to the fencing. The critical question is, was it open that day? What we are getting is that it wasn`t, but we don`t know if there was enough give for these little people to slide through or under that gate and get into that pond.
GRACE: Quick break, everyone. We`ll be right back. Please stay with us.
GRACE: A 2-year-old and a 3-year-old, their bodies found today in a pond near their home. How could they have gotten out of the home through thick brush through a fence and into a pond in which they were found? A lot of questions tonight, very few answers.
Welcome back. I`m Nancy Grace. Thank you for being with us.
Tony Harris, have there been any polygraphs of the family?
GRACE: To who?
HARRIS: We understand there have been -- that the mother and the father have been polygraphed. GBI would not give us any information about the results of the polygraph. But we can tell you that the father and the mother were polygraphed.
GRACE: Let me go to Bethany Marshall, psychoanalyst.
Bethany, what`s your take on the facts as we know them tonight?
BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST: Well, this is a very confusing situation. And it`s impossible to really know what happened at this point.
But one statistic that`s relevant is that out of every 10,000 children who are reported missing, only one child abduction ends up in murder. But of those who are murdered, almost half of those murdered are murdered within three blocks of the family home.
I think it`s interesting that the children were playing on the front lawn. They went back inside, and the mother went to the bathroom, and that the front door was unlocked, because sex offenders are opportunistic. They push open doors.
GRACE: Right. And the reality is, this is very possible, them leaving on their own, they had done it before in the past. The enigma is how they made it from the home through that very thick brush, through a fence to the pond.
Everybody, I`ve got to take a quick break. Please stay with us.
GRACE: Michael Jackson in happier times, literally, the king of pop. In fact, there are people, believe it or not, that think Michael Jackson is a deity, a lesser form of divinity, a god. Yes, it`s true.
Welcome back, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace.
Let`s go straight out to Santa Maria and Jane Velez-Mitchell with "Celebrity Justice."
Jane, bring us up to date, friend.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, "CELEBRITY JUSTICE": Well, Nancy, another absolutely wild day here at the Santa Maria courthouse, and fortunately, most of the excitement outside the jury`s presence.
First of all, there was a very intense argument right in this parking lot between members of the defense team, lead defense attorney Tom Mesereau and Jackson family attorney Brian Oxman going at it. Mesereau, considered one of the best attorneys in America, doesn`t want Oxman, it seems, at the defense attorney. And when Oxman showed up today, he was turned away and had to sit with the Jackson family.
Meantime, the prosecutors are scrambling madly themselves trying to come up with the dramatic finale for their case, which they promise will end at the end of this week. And they`ve gotten it. The judge granted them permission to bring Debbie Rowe to the stand, Jackson`s ex-wife, the mother of two of his children, who is locked in a bitter and ugly custody battle in Los Angeles. She knows a lot about Jackson, has known him for decades and that could be a real humdinger on the stand.
GRACE: Jane Velez-Mitchell with "Celebrity Justice" is with us just outside the courthouse.
Jane, are there parameters, are there limits on Debbie Rowe`s testimony?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. The judge is going to try to limit her testimony just to keep this trial ending some time this century.
In fact, the defense threatened to play three hours of her rebuttal video if they didn`t limit the testimony. She is going to testify about the rebuttal video that she made. Prosecutors claim that she, too, was arm-twisted into saying nice things about Michael Jackson, dangling the prospect of visitation with her children.
Now, the defense says that`s nonsense, that it wasn`t scripted, as the prosecution claims. But the prosecution is trying to corroborate the accuser`s mother story, the current accuser`s mother, who says a similar thing happened to her, and her story was widely regarded as unbelievable. So, if Debbie Rowe gets up and says, hey, it happened to me, that would make this current accuser`s mother seem a lot more credible.
GRACE: Tonight with us, special guest, Joe and Katherine Jackson`s attorney is with us, Debra Opri.
Welcome, Debra. Thank you for being with us.
Debra, what do you make of Jackson`s ex-wife, the mother of his two children, taking the stand against him?
DEBRA OPRI, ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL JACKSON`S PARENTS: Well, forgive my candor, but this woman is nothing to me but a breeder. She was hired to carry Michael`s children, to bear them and to sell them to him. And that`s what she did.
And now she came back and she wanted custody. I think it was after the Germany situation. And her testimony will be very limited, Nancy. It will be to the rebuttal video she was asked to do. And I can assure you, Mesereau is a good attorney, and he`s going to object and keep her within that little box.
GRACE: Question. You referred to Debbie Rowe as a breeder hired to give birth. Who would it be that hired her? Whose idea was it to hire a breeder, as you say?
OPRI: Well, I`m looking at it a little differently than you as a prosecutor would. I`m not going to blame Michael for wanting to father children and to hire her to carry.
GRACE: Then you are saying it`s Michael that hired her?
OPRI: She sold them. No, I`m just saying, she carried his children.
GRACE: But you said she was hired as a breeder. Hired by who?
OPRI: I`m just giving a what-if. She carried his children. Complete that sentence. It`s obvious that he...
GRACE: Actually, you said she was hired to be a breeder. And my question to you is, who hired her?
OPRI: No, come on, Nancy. I said she is nothing but a breeder to me. She was...
GRACE: You said she was hired to be a breeder.
GRACE: You`re saying that Michael Jackson paid her off.
OPRI: Whatever it is.
I`m assuming this is what happens, but she carried children and sold them for what I understand to be $1 million for 10 years. So I don`t respect that person.
GRACE: Who paid her?
OPRI: I understand there was a contract with Michael Jackson. And that`s public knowledge.
GRACE: So, Michael Jackson paid someone off to have his kids. You referred to the German situation. What`s the German situation?
OPRI: Oh, when he was accused of dangling his child over the railing, that one.
GRACE: Right, right.
GRACE: Question. What do you expect her testimony to be about?
OPRI: I expect the prosecution to use her to expound on what her relationship and inside knowledge is of Michael Jackson.
Mesereau, I believe, will be very careful and use his objections to keep her within the box of just testifying with the rebuttal video. And that`s all she`s allowed to do, pursuant to Judge Melville.
To Renee Rockwell.
This is a powder keg waiting to explode because if one wrong question is asked on cross-examination, Renee, you know that will open up the door for further testimony by Debbie Rowe.
RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely.
And not only that, Nancy, but there`s quite a possibility that if she acts as if she was so scripted and so prepared and so forced to give a glowing video about Michael Jackson, the defense might just want to play the entire video from top to bottom, so the jury can see whether or not it looks real, if it looks like she was scripted or if it looks like she was just paid to talk so well about Michael Jackson.
GRACE: Bethany Marshall is with us, psychoanalyst.
I don`t know about you, Bethany, but I`ve got a problem with a woman giving birth being called nothing more than a breeder. I got a problem with that.
MARSHALL: Quite frankly, Nancy, I`m not surprised, because if the allegations against Michael Jackson are true, he is the type of pedophile who does not want to engage in a sexual relationship with a woman.
Certain types of pedophiles only want to bring children in to the family if they do not have to have a mature adult sexual relationship with another adult. So typically what they do is, they`ll bring in a woman, artificially inseminate the woman, use the woman to bring in foster children, so that the woman can attract -- bring children in who will then attract other children in to the household.
So, to my mind, this just fits the whole general pattern of this particular type of pedophilia. And I`m not surprised at all.
Take a listen to this, Bethany.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEBBIE ROWE, EX-WIFE OF JACKSON: He would never hurt a child. Never. It`s not in him. It`s -- no way. He would never do anything inappropriate with a child. It`s the furthest thing from his mind. When those allegations came, `93 I think it was, he was devastated. I mean, talk about going for the jugular.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Anne Bremner, you know, that`s a big, big problem for the prosecution, that she made this glowing video for Michael Jackson. But, hey, she`s also got him in court fighting for custody.
ANNE BREMNER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, what a surprise, another tainted witness, Nancy, another opportunist, another person coming into court having said, Michael Jackson, I gave him a gift. I gave him my children. But she didn`t give him a gift. It was for pay. It was $1 million a year.
And when the money stopped, when Michael Jackson stopped paying the money, here she came in to court. She has nothing to say. She didn`t live at Neverland. She knows nothing. And she gave a taped-recorded, taped statement long before this rebuttal video, saying how great Michael Jackson was.
GRACE: Well, so did everybody else. Everybody.
BREMNER: That`s right.
GRACE: I`ve got a question.
Bethany, Anne Bremner is right. Everybody gave these taped statements, but why is it that Jackson would solicit all of these taped statements declaring his innocence and his good character?
BREMNER: Because he wants to restore himself in the eyes of the community as a great father, a great father to all these kids, so that he can gain access to more children, if the allegations are true.
Look, there`s one thing that all these mothers have in common. They have bad judgment. But in order for a pedophile to get into bed with a child, metaphorically, he has to get into bed with the entire family. Pedophiles don`t just groom the children. They groom the entire families. And, in order to do that, they have to find women who are willing to give up their children, women who have bad judgment, women who will let their kids sleep in a bed with a grown man.
This is a pattern, and it fits with all these mothers.
GRACE: Very quickly to Jane Velez-Mitchell.
Jane, what`s the story behind firing Oxman? Oxman`s got a good reputation. We saw this happen earlier in the Jackson camp, right after the indictment came down, I believe. Jackson got rid of two highly respected lawyers. I can tell you, Ben Brafman is one of the greatest trial lawyers I`ve ever seen. He`s a street fighter.
And then, of course, there`s Mark Geragos, who oozes charm in front of a jury. Now we see another upheaval.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, there`s a lot of tension in this courtroom. The stakes are very high.
And Tom Mesereau is the leader here. And he has the right, I believe, to choose who he wants sitting at that defense table.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And he has chosen a very, very good team and he doesn`t want Brian apparently to be a part of it. And I assume that`s his right.
GRACE: Debra Opri, before we go to break, response?
OPRI: I have no comment on the Brian Oxman.
But I would say, if you look at all the prosecution witnesses so far, severe credibility problems. It will extend to Debbie Rowe.
GRACE: Do you think Michael Jackson will take the stand, speaking of credibility problems?
OPRI: I do. And the only reason I`m really leaning and insisting on it, because I take Tom Mesereau`s words in opening statement verbatim. He says, you will hear from Michael Jackson.
So there you have it. Yes.
Quick break, everybody.
To trial tracking. Florida state law enforcement officials say they warned the Citrus County Sheriff that convicted sex offender John Couey was missing six months before he confessed to kidnap, rape and murder of 9- year-old Jessie. State authorities can`t confirm the sheriff received the letter. But the information was also available online. If police followed through, Couey may have been arrested in November.
This weekend, Jessie`s father, Mark Lunsford, attended the funeral of another Florida girl also killed by a convicted sex offender, 13-year-old Sarah Michelle Lunde. She was found in a shallow fish pond near her home last weekend. Her mom`s ex-boyfriend, convicted sex-offender David Onstott, charged with murder.
You know, many of you have been calling in asking how to find registered sex offenders in your area. Here`s a quick, easy way. Go to KlaasKids.org, KlaasKids.org. Hit on Megan`s Law. Find your state on the map. It`s really easy. From there, you can get this specific information.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL JACKSON, DEFENDANT: If you`re going to be a pedophile, if you`re going to be Jack the Ripper, if you`re going to be a murderer, it`s not a good idea that I`m not. I didn`t sleep in the bed with the child. Even if I did, it`s OK. I slept on the floor.
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GRACE: Michael Jackson speaking out after allegations of child molestation surfaced.
Welcome back. Quickly now to Jane Velez-Mitchell with "Celebrity Justice."
OK, Debbie Rowe set to take the stand. That is a major, major blow-up waiting to help. Number two, lawyer thrown off defense team today, fight in parking lot. Anything else I need to know about the Jackson trial?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Cynthia Montgomery, Michael Jackson`s former travel coordinator, is set to take the stand tomorrow. She got immunity. She was involved in some way in that XtraJet fiasco, when he came back from Las Vegas to Santa Barbara to surrender and there were cameras hidden on board that plane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: She`s gotten immunity. She`s going to testify. Prosecutors say she will talk about how the alleged unindicted co- conspirators tried to get a one-way ticket for this family to Brazil, backing up the conspiracy theory.
GRACE: Man. Oh, Manishevitz, never a dull moment in the Michael Jackson child sex trial. We`re letting Jane Velez-Mitchell head back toward the courthouse.
Jane, thank you, friend.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you.
GRACE: Everybody else staying put. Let`s switch over to the latest Martha Stewart controversy.
Joining our panel tonight here in New York, "Slate" magazine contributor Henry Blodget.
But first to CNN correspondent Mary Snow.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there.
GRACE: Bring me up to date, friend.
SNOW: Well, Nancy, it always seems that Martha Stewart is taking center stage. And, once again, she is.
And her attendance at a party last week is the cause of scrutiny. The federal probation office that monitors her movements here saying that it`s going to investigate whether she violated the conditions of her release. Now, she is allowed out of her home for home confinement 48 hours a week. This is primarily for work. Now, she attended an event last Tuesday night. "TIME" magazine was honoring the 100 most influential people. She was on the list.
And the probation office says she was approved to go to that party. But it now says that it`s taking a look at the events of that party, calling to -- what it appears to be is that it`s going to look at the description that she wrote up in terms of her request against the actual event. But she did -- was permitted to go to this.
GRACE: So it sounds to me, Henry Blodget that they told her she could go. Then she went. Then it got in the news. It made the headlines. Now they`ve been caught with their pants down. They`re embarrassed. And they are fussing at her about it. That`s the way I`m taking it.
She was at the event. What was her role and was it preapproved?
HENRY BLODGET, "SLATE": It certainly was preapproved. And I have to say that, based on the tragic stories earlier on this broadcast, this I hope is a nice light ending, because I think this whole thing is really a tempest in a teapot.
But she was approved. There`s now some question as to whether she actually received the award. And I think what people are looking for is that she got a little statuette or whatever. But, obviously, this is work for Martha Stewart. Martha Stewart`s life is this business. She was honored as a business leader, a titan. So, I don`t think there`s any question about that. She was approved.
The only question is whether she misrepresented it in asking permission to go, which just seems absurd to me that that would happen. So, my guess is that this will blow over quickly. I know that some people definitely want to see her shuffling around in leg irons for the rest of her life. But...
Renee Rockwell, party hearty or work-related?
ROCKWELL: Nancy, absolutely work-related. Martha Stewart has got to promote herself. It`s all about work.
And surely she is smart enough to know the most important person in her life right now is her probation officer.
GRACE: Man, tell it.
ROCKWELL: So I`m sure -- I am sure that she put it down just like she expected the party to go. I know it was 90 minutes of cocktails and dinner, which included poached lobster and rack of lamb.
GRACE: Hey, hey, hey. Were you on the guest list? Nobody said poached lobster to me.
ROCKWELL: She is...
GRACE: OK. I think I`m getting a different opinion from Anne Bremner.
Anne Bremner, party hearty or work-related?
BREMNER: Yes. Party hearty. I mean, this is work release. The key word is week. This was a gala, Nancy. It`s a gala.
GRACE: Anne, girls just want to have fun? You know, why aren`t the feds out trying to track down repeat child molesters, instead of worrying if Martha Stewart had a martini?
BREMNER: They`re doing that, too.
BREMNER: It`s work-related. Yes, my trial prep, I can say, I go to Saks Fifth Avenue. I have to go to Bloomingdale`s and get a mani and pedi. You know, and that`s work related.
GRACE: Bethany, is Martha getting special treatment?
MARSHALL: She is.
GRACE: I think I`ve got Bethany.
MARSHALL: Can you hear me?
GRACE: Yes. Go ahead, dear.
MARSHALL: Look, Martha built her whole empire on power, influence and persuasion, which are not good characteristics for somebody who is on probation.
Someone on probation is supposed to be compliant and submissive. So, this is just a clash between two different systems. The fact is, of course, she was working. This was a work event. She has to represent her company. But she is doing Martha Stewart does.
GRACE: OK. I`ve got 30 seconds left.
Mary Snow, what comes next? Please, don`t tell me Martha Stewart back in leg irons. There are murderers and rapists and child molesters running around out there, OK?
Everybody has said the chances that she`ll have to go back to prison for this are slim to absolutely none. Tomorrow, though, we`re going to be hearing from her company on how it`s doing and the focus might shift to that. But she`s been at several events over the last couple of weeks. There was a magazine award that she attended. So, I think we`ll still be seeing Martha Stewart.
So, if this progresses any further, Henry Blodget, you and Mary have got to come back and make sense of it.
A quick break, everyone.
To tonight`s all-points bulletin. U.S. Marshals looking for this man, Frederick David Russell, a fugitive after being charged with vehicular homicide, drunk driving June 4, 2001. He went into the wrong lane in Washington state, killing three college students, permanently disabling two others. Russell, 26 years old, 6`1``, 215, red hair, green eyes, two tattoos, left arm.
If you have any information on him, please contact 800-336-0102.
GRACE: We at NANCY GRACE want very much to help solve unsolved homicides, find missing people.
Tonight, take a look at Summer Shipp. Summer disappeared December 8, 2004, from Independence, Missouri. She`s a mother age 55, 5`1``, 105 pounds. If you have any information on this lady, Summer Shipp, please call the tips hot line 816-474-TIPS. There is a reward leading -- for information leading to Summer`s safe return. Please, help us.
Welcome back, everybody.
In our last remaining moments, to Renee Rockwell.
Renee, look, in a lot of people`s mind, there`s no doubt that Martha Stewart made the trade, for Pete`s sake. That`s not even what she was prosecuted on. She was prosecuted by the feds because they got a trophy defendant, a celeb defendant. They got a tiger by the tail. Couldn`t hold on, couldn`t let go. Are they still chasing Stewart because she went to this party? Was she DUI? Did she rob a bank?
Tell me, Renee.
ROCKWELL: Don`t you think it is, Nancy?
After all, she has to do this. Martha Stewart isn`t all about just making Christmas decorations and setting a table. She`s got to go to these things. One of the -- she`s one of the 100 most influential people.
GRACE: Renee, please, get real. She went to this party. Don`t you know everybody came up and said, how was Alderson? How was it behind bars? Do you think that`s fun?
ROCKWELL: But, Nancy, imagine her receiving the invitation and not going. She got permission. She put it in writing. She went. And then probably some supervisor at the probation office felt a little slack and, you know...
GRACE: And, suddenly, suddenly, it`s a violation.
Anne Bremner, tonight, friend, you and I are crossing swords. I disagree with you.
BREMNER: It`s got to be all work and no play, Nancy.
GRACE: Yes. I think I saw her carrying a Diet Coke. That looked like a lot of fun.
GRACE: OK, guys, I want to thank all of you for being with us tonight, all of my guests.
But my biggest thank you, like every night, is to you for being with us and inviting all of us into your home.
Coming up, headlines from around the world.
I`m Nancy Grace, signing off for this Monday night. Hope to see you here tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. And, until then, good night, friend.