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Interview With Terri Schiavo`s Parents
Aired March 28, 2006 - 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, one year after the death of a young woman, Terri Schiavo, 26 at the time of her collapse, the battle over pulling the plug rages on hotter than ever. Tonight, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth with Terri Schiavo`s parents and her entire family and their fight to keep Terri alive.
And tonight, for the first time ever, Terri Schiavo`s family answers your questions live. We are taking your calls.
Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. Tonight, the one-year mark of the death of Terri Schiavo and the controversy over pulling the plug on her life between Terri`s then-husband, Michael Schiavo, and her parents, that controversy still white-hot. Tonight, the story behind the headlines, with both of Terri`s parents, her brother and sister, plus a panel of experts, all of us taking your calls.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOBBY SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO`S BROTHER: There`s a reason Michael and his attorney are doing everything they can to keep Terri hidden from the public. Terri could be sitting here right now. She could be on the House floor during this debate.
MICHAEL SCHIAVO, TERRI`S HUSBAND: It`s my turn to talk now. I have been vilified. I have been called a murderer, that I strangled Terri, I abused her, I broke her bones..
BOBBY SCHINDLER: Terri, your family intends to stand up for the other Terris around this nation, and we will do all that we can to change the law so others won`t face the same fate that has befallen you.
MICHAEL SCHIAVO: So they were angry about the money. I said, I`m giving it all to Terri. And Then he wanted to know how much Terri was going to give him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: That battle still raging on. Let`s go straight out to a reporter with "The Washington Times," Charlie Hurt. Charlie, thank you for being with us. Everyone, before we go to Terri`s family, let`s get an update. The one-year mark has come, Charlie. Any results on Capitol Hill?
CHARLIE HURT, "WASHINGTON TIMES": There hasn`t been any result from legislation or anything like that, but that doesn`t mean that people haven`t stopped talking about it. You know, we`ve been hearing murmurs about it for the last couple of weeks, and this week, as you know, Senator Sam Brownback, a Republican from Kansas, is launching, a -- you know, a new -- Terri Schiavo Foundation on Capitol Hill, right outside of one of the main Senate office buildings.
GRACE: So bottom line, Charlie, there`s been a lot of talk, no action after Terri`s death.
HURT: That`s correct.
GRACE: OK. Let`s go to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN medical correspondent. Sanjay. you were with us as we covered this while it happened a year ago. Sanjay, why the big controversy?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I`m sorry, why the what?
GRACE: Why the big controversy?
GUPTA: Well, you know, there was a controversy over what her diagnosis was, initially, Nancy, as you know, persistent vegetative state or not, which is a clinical diagnosis. It`s only a diagnosis that can be made when somebody is alive.
And so then there was the autopsy results, obviously, after that, talking specifically about the status of her brain. And you know, this is a -- you`re getting a static picture in time, Nancy, at that point, when you`re doing an autopsy, what exactly has happened to the brain. It appeared that the brain went for a period of time, a long period of time, without enough oxygenated blood, without enough oxygen, essentially, to the brain, and that what`s caused so much of the damage that you saw.
GRACE: You know, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN medical correspondent with us, reporter with "The Washington Times," Charlie Hurt, with us, Terri Schiavo was a person. She was one of a family, a lovely family with us tonight. And we are taking your calls.
I want to go first to Terri Schindler Schiavo`s mother. Mary, when you look back after all you have lived through, through this controversy, can you even think back to the time when Terri was alive, for instance, as a little girl, growing up, her first date? What is your most vivid recollection of Terri?
MARY SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO`S MOTHER: I remember her mostly when we used to go upstate New York, where I lived. And we used to go up there on Thanksgiving. That was our Christmas for everybody. And she loved going up there. She loved my parents. She called them Nima (ph) and Pipa (ph). And she just -- she couldn`t wait. We all -- you know, her and everybody else, we just couldn`t wait to get up there.
GRACE: Bob, your most vivid recollection of your girl, Terri.
ROBERT SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO`S FATHER: The last couple of weeks, unfortunately, when she was being dehydrated and starved to death, because I was in there every day and I watched her deteriorate, and there was nothing I could do about it. And that just tears my guts out.
GRACE: What was your relationship with your girl? Was she a daddy`s girl or a mommy`s girl?
ROBERT SCHIAVO: Terri...
GRACE: Your wife is saying she was a daddy`s girl.
ROBERT SCHIAVO: She used to tease me and I used to tease her. My favorite example is she bought a Christmas tree. It was the Christmas before she had collapsed. And she called me on the phone and she says, Dad, I bought this tree and the tree is crooked. And I said, Terri, take it back to where you bought it, and they`ll put it in the tree straightener. And she hung up the phone and she left.
GRACE: A tree straightener.
ROBERT SCHIAVO: A tree straightener.
ROBERT SCHIAVO: A Christmas tree. And I got a phone call about 45 minutes later, all I heard was, Oh, dad, oh, dad. And -- but she was gullible.
GRACE: She fell for the tree straightener?
ROBERT SCHIAVO: Yes, she fell for that. And she used to tease me. And she had a lazy eye. And when she was a teenager, if I was trying to (INAUDIBLE) reprimand her or if I was talking serious, she would let her eye roll to the corner or bridge of her nose.
GRACE: On purpose?
ROBERT SCHIAVO: On purpose, just to...
GRACE: What did you think of Michael Schiavo when she first brought him around?
ROBERT SCHIAVO: Well, when I -- when I met him, you know, you look to find a commonality.
ROBERT SCHIAVO: And everything that I`d talk about -- he didn`t like sports. I like sports. And the most offensive thing was when I mentioned John Wayne, he didn`t like John Wayne. And that absolutely...
GRACE: OK. I know this has nothing to do with anything, but why didn`t he like John Wayne?
ROBERT SCHIAVO: He thought he was a brute. But that`s beside the point.
ROBERT SCHIAVO: But we -- I was trying to find, like, common ground, as you do, and there was no common ground. So we could literally sit in a room for an hour and not have any conversation.
GRACE: You say your most vivid recollection is of her suffering at the end. I cannot even imagine weeks going by, if I had to watch my father lie in a bed and know he wasn`t getting food or water.
ROBERT SCHIAVO: Well, it was tragic, is that -- right next to Terri`s bed, there was a vase with water. And we had -- they had a SWAT team member in the room at all times, so we couldn`t go near Terri, for fear that we would be, you know, giving her water. So she was closely guarded. They had police outside of her door. And...
GRACE: So you couldn`t give her water.
ROBERT SCHIAVO: So we couldn`t get near her.
GRACE: Did you try to speak to her?
ROBERT SCHIAVO: Oh, yes.
MARY SCHIAVO: She was very active during those two weeks until the -- you know, (INAUDIBLE) she got closer, but the first week, she tried so hard to talk and to communicate, just like she used to.
GRACE: Now, they would say to you now that -- after the autopsy, that, see, she was brain-dead. That is what they would say to you. What do you say to them?
ROBERT SCHIAVO: Well, what they`re doing is they`re justifying her death. And there (INAUDIBLE) when she (INAUDIBLE) kind of condition. And we had a firestorm of doctors that had contact with us after the autopsy report was released, and critiquing that autopsy report, particularly on two items, one saying it`s impossible to determine if a person has PVS...
GRACE: Persistent vegetative state.
ROBERT SCHIAVO: ... right -- after -- on a post-mortem, you cannot detect that. And I had an ophthalmologist telling me it`s impossible to tell if a person is blind, you know, once they`re dead. They have to be alive. And the other one was the shrinkage of the brain that, very possibly, the hydration could have had an impact on that.
GRACE: You know, let me throw that to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our medical correspondent. Sanjay, it is true that the autopsy showed that Terri Schindler Schiavo`s brain was about 50 percent, around 50 percent the size of a regular woman`s brain at her age. But Dr. Gupta, what about the fact that she had not had water or food for such a long period of time?
GUPTA: Yes, I mean, that could play a little bit of a role over here -- in this sort of situation. But you know, when you talk about this and you`re comparing it to people who`ve been in similar situations -- so people who have been in situations where their brains have not received enough oxygen for a period of time -- and even in those situations -- for example, in the report that I know that the family has seen, as well, they talked about Karen Quinlan, who had been in a persistent vegetative state for about 10 years, and her brain`s weight was about 800 grams, they talk about, versus Terri`s, which was about 600 grams.
And do these numbers really mean anything? Probably not, but the lack of food and water may have played a small role, but not enough to account for all of that, most likely, Nancy.
GRACE: Take a listen to what Terri Schiavo`s husband, Michael, had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL SCHIAVO: I could see that Terri was changing, her breathing was changing. It would be a little abnormal for a while and then go back to normal. And so I spent the night with her. I stayed by her side. I cradled her in my arms, and I told her I love her. It`s still hard, to this day! And I told her, It`s OK.
About a quarter of 9:00, the administrator came down and said, Michael, if you want to see Terri, you need to come now. So I jumped up from the bed and I -- you know, I hurt my knee and all this, and I was hobbling down the hall as quickly as I could. And as I was there, the administrator said, Well, we asked Bobby and Suzanne to leave because we`re going to do an assessments and we noticed the change in Terri. But Suzanne left with the priest, and Bobby got into an argument with the police officer.
I had no time to sit and think about Bobby Schindler and what he was doing out there with the police officer. So my attorney quick said to me, Do you want him in? And I said, No. I had seconds, when I got in the room, to spend with Terri.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Here on the set with me is Terri`s brother, Bobby, who you just heard Michael Schiavo referring to. Response?
BOBBY SCHINDLER: Well, it is true, my sister and I and Father Pavone (ph) were in the room with Terri, and were asked to leave so Terri could be assessed. But they -- we were promised that once she was assessed, we would be allowed back into the room. Once we go outside the room, a policeman said that we had to leave the hospice building. And that`s when I became very upset because I wanted to be with my sister.
GRACE: Did you feel she was about to die?
BOBBY SCHINDLER: Oh, we knew she was close. And you know, Michael has even testified...
GRACE: That would be so heart-breaking, to be torn away from your blood relative, your sister, at the moment of her death!
BOBBY SCHINDLER: And Michael has even testified that, hey, he knew how close her family was. So for him to purposely keep his family away from Terri at the time of her death is just -- it was cruel. It was cruel for Terri to be denied her family to be with her in her last moments.
And that was what was so -- I didn`t care that Michael was in the room. You know, I couldn`t care less. My concern was to be with my sister when she passed away. So in the end, Terri passed from this earth without her family being there -- any of her family members to be there. It was horrible.
GRACE: Terri`s sister, Suzanne Vitadamo, is with us.
SUZANNE VITADAMO, TERRI SCHIAVO`S SISTER: I just wanted to add that we even said to the policeman (INAUDIBLE) in the hallway, we said, Please, we`ll be in the room with Michael. At that point, we didn`t care. I said, We`ll be quiet. I said, Just let us be with her, because we knew, we could see. I mean, she was very close. And we said just, We don`t care if he`s there. We just want to be with her. And they were -- the policeman got belligerent. He said, You -- Michael Schiavo said you have to leave this property now.
BOBBY SCHINDLER: But this has been going on. This is -- we have been dealing with this since 1993.
GRACE: Where did it all go sour between her family and the husband, Michael Schiavo?
BOBBY SCHINDLER: Nancy, you can draw a line -- and that`s one of the reasons we wrote this book is because -- to see what our family went through and to see what was done to our family. We believe, you know, as I said, you can draw a line. Before the money was awarded for Terri in her trust fund, you know, Michael was acting a certain way.
GRACE: What way?
BOBBY SCHINDLER: After the money came in -- well, he was doing everything he could to help us and to help Terri. She was improving. In her medical records, it said -- it is noted that she was talking, she was saying words. In Michael`s own diary -- and we include this in our book -- Michael was making a diary when Terri was receiving therapy and rehabilitation. And in his own diary, he was writing how Terri was improving.
The money came in, and it all stopped. In 1991, it is medically documented that that was the last time Terri had any rehabilitation or therapy. If you put anybody who had a brain injury like Terri did and you deny that person rehabilitation therapy, what do you think is going to happen to them over a period of years? Of course they`re going to deteriorate.
GRACE: So you`re saying once he got the award, all the money -- it was close to a million dollars, right, $700-something-thousand?
BOBBY SCHINDLER: It was $1.6 million, was the gross amount of money.
GRACE: After that is when everything changed, Suzanne?
VITADAMO: That`s when it changed. It was 1993. That money, it`s important for people to know, was for Terri`s rehabilitation. Michael and my parents, prior to that money coming in, had looked into some facilities. There was a facility in Florida that she was going to go once this money came in, and Michael made a commitment to that. And when that money came in in 1993, he decided not to send her there, not to send her anywhere, and then there was an argument.
GRACE: So the rehab ended.
VITADAMO: The rehab ended.
GRACE: I want to go to a special guest, Max Lucado, pastor of Oak Hills Church. Thank you for being with us, Pastor. Do you believe that Terri Schiavo`s feeding tube -- feeding tube -- this is not a ventilator, sir, this is a feeding tube -- should have been removed?
MAX LUCADO, PASTOR: No, I do not. I think that we crossed a line there that we should not have crossed. I believe that, at that point, we began taking on a role that we didn`t have. And it begs the greater question, and that is, What does a society do with its weakest members? Who are we to determine where her life would have ended? Who are we to say that we should stop praying when we discontinued her life? And I just don`t think that we have the right to do that, and I think it opens the door, the Pandora`s box to all kinds of issues that are going to be very, very difficult for us to resolve.
GRACE: When we get back, we will have rebuttal from Dr. Art Caplan, chairman of the Department of Medical Ethics, University of Pennsylvania. With us tonight, unprecedented, taking your calls, is the family of Terri Schindler Schiavo.
To tonight`s "Case Alert." Just hours ago, Matthew Winkler, a beloved Tennessee minister, laid to rest. And tonight, still more questions than answers. Why would his wife, Mary Winkler, mother off three little girls, plan and execute the shooting death of her own husband? Winkler charged tonight with first degree murder in her husband`s shooting death. Police say she confessed to the shotgun killing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love these girls. They are just precious. They`re intelligent. They`re happy. They`ve been well cared for. And now we want to focus a hundred percent of our attention on helping these young ladies. We want to let you know the fund that`s being established, 100 percent of the proceeds will go to help the girls immediately with counseling. They have faced some trauma. They`re having peaks and valleys. But by and large, they`re incredibly happy. And we want to do all we can to help them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: I want to report to you that earlier with us was Michael Schiavo, but he didn`t want to answer any questions and got up and walked off, leaving his lawyer on the hot seat. I`ll go straight back to his lawyer. Sir, my question...
GEORGE FILOS, MICHAEL SCHIAVO`S ATTORNEY: Hold on a second, Nancy.
GRACE: Yes, sir?
FILOS: That`s not true that Mr. Schiavo didn`t want to answer questions.
GRACE: Where did he go?
FILOS: He was seated here. He did not know until he sat down today and listened to the first half hour of your show that Jessica Lunsford had died. His wife is in her death process. When he heard that, he lost his emotional composure. It has nothing to do with facing the cameras or answering questions, so I just want to straighten that out.
GRACE: Sir, I`ve got to go to break, but thank you, George Filos...
FILOS: You`re welcome.
GRACE: ... with us. Schiavo walked off!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: That`s right, he was so upset about someone he didn`t even know, he couldn`t answer questions about his wife!
Welcome back, everyone. With us tonight for an unprecedented hour, Terri Schiavo`s family, and we are taking your calls. Let`s go straight to the phones. Lori in North Carolina. Hi, Lori.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. Do we know from the autopsy definitively if she was bulimic, like Michael said, or if there had been abuse, like her parents think?
GRACE: You know, that`s very interesting. Isn`t it true, Mary, that there was a 1991 bone scan that showed injury to one of her bones?
MARY SCHINDLER: Yes, she had a broken femur.
GRACE: You`re sure?
MARY SCHINDLER: Yes.
GRACE: Now, in the autopsy, though, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, didn`t show that, correct? Dr. Gupta, now can we explain that, in `91, break in a leg. Was it a break or...
MARY SCHINDLER: Yes.
GRACE: ... and then, by the time the autopsy was done, just last year, it was there -- It was not there.
GUPTA: Yes, you know, I looked at the autopsy report, as well. She had a bone scan, is my understanding.
GUPTA: And I don`t want -- the family obviously knows better than I, but I`m just going on what I have here, Nancy. The bone scan showed that she had some areas of what`s called hyper-ostosis (ph), which is basically just overgrowth of bone in certain areas of her body. Now, that could be in respond to a fracture. Some people get that as a consequence of immobility, as well. So someone who`s immobilized for a long time may start to develop a lot of bone in that area...
GRACE: But could a fracture to a bone, Sanjay, over 10 years, for Pete`s sake, heel?
GUPTA: Yes. I mean, a fracture obviously could heal, and sometimes it heals so well, in fact, that you have extra bone there, which may have been what showed up on that bone scan. But again, Nancy, it`s just pictures in time that we`re getting, so it`s hard to extrapolate backwards and say for sure what caused that. Just the bone scan showed that there were some areas where there was some extra bone there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VITADAMO: Terri is now with God and she`s been released from all earthly burdens. After these recent years of neglect at the hands of those who were supposed to protect and care for her, she is finally at peace with God for eternity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Welcome back. Tonight, Terri Schiavo`s family is with us, answering your questions. To Bobby -- this is Terri`s sister (SIC). What happened to cause the initial collapse, when she went into a coma? She was 24 year old! Now, I had already read it was a heart attack, but that`s not true!
BOBBY SCHINDLER: No, the autopsy ruled out a heart attack. The autopsy ruled out bulimia. We still don`t know to this day what caused Terri`s collapse. In fact, the autopsy -- the IME who conducted the autopsy has left the case open. he has not closed it.
GRACE: Were you with her the night she collapsed?
BOBBY SCHINDLER: I was with her just hours before she collapsed.
GRACE: What happened?
BOBBY SCHINDLER: She usually would go out with us. It was a Saturday night. She said no, she was not going to go out with us that night, my friend and myself. She was going to go home and wait for Michael because they had been fighting all day. Then next thing I know, I got home, I went to bed, I got a phone call from my father saying something happened to Terri. We lived in the same apartment complex. I ran -- I got in my car, got there within a couple minutes. I went over to see Terri. She was lying face down with her hands up by her neck. I reached down and shook her shoulder. I wasn`t upset at that time because I had seen her just a few hours earlier and she was perfectly fine. The paramedics got there almost immediately after I got there, after I shook her shoulder, and that`s when they -- I saw how serious...
GRACE: She was still lying on the floor face down?
BOBBY SCHINDLER: Now, what is so troubling...
GRACE: Was he there?
BOBBY SCHINDLER: Yes, he was there. He answered the door. He was hysterical. Michael was hysterical.
What is so trouble is if you go back and look at Michael`s testimony of how he found Terri, it changes two or three times. And the only investigation that was conducted about the night of Terri`s collapse was done by Mark Fuhrman. And after Mark Fuhrman investigated that night in particular, he was very concerned and troubled with the way Michael was acting and the timeline of the events that occurred that night.
GRACE: Because he changed his story three times.
BOBBY SCHINDLER: Because -- and if you read it and see, he says he was cradling Terri when he found her. He said he found her face down. It changes every time he tells it.
GRACE: Suzanne, what was the fight about, the big fight?
VITADAMO: The big fight was about Terri had her hair done that day, and she spent -- had color and cut and she spent too much money.
ROBERT SCHIAVO: Timeline, though.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can see that Terri had taken a big change. I knelt down beside her. I cradled her in my arms, and I told her I love her. It`s still hard to this day, and I told her it`s OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We know that many of you never had the privilege to personally know our wonderful sister, Terri. But we assure that you that you can be proud of this remarkable woman who has captured the attention of the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Welcome back, everyone. With me tonight, Terri Schiavo`s family with the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, her mother, father, sister, brother.
We were just taking a listen to her husband, Michael Schiavo. I tried to ask him some hard questions recently. He walked off the set, leaving his lawyer to hold the bag.
To Terri`s brother, how soon after Terri`s collapse did Schiavo start dating another woman?
BOBBY SCHINDLER: We believe it was within a year-and-a-half after Terri collapsed. He had already admitted in testimony that he was intimate with another woman.
GRACE: To Terri`s mom, Mary, what was the state of their marriage? I`ve heard so many different, conflicting reports.
MARY SCHINDLER: Well, she told me that, you know, that they weren`t intimate probably...
GRACE: They weren`t having sex?
MARY SCHINDLER: Right, the last year.
GRACE: For a year?
MARY SCHINDLER: No, no, no, no, the year before, I mean, in that year before she collapsed...
MARY SCHINDLER: ... that they weren`t getting along and Michael was tired all the time. When he used to come home from work, he used to be tired and he just didn`t...
GRACE: And how old was he at that time?
MARY SCHINDLER: They were 26.
GRACE: And he was tired at age 26?
MARY SCHINDLER: Yes.
GRACE: OK! There have always been allegations that there was domestic abuse, wife-beating. Do you believe that? He says no.
MARY SCHINDLER: I don`t know, because Terri would never tell us anything, but she had bruises on her thighs and up on her arms.
GRACE: Is that true?
VITADAMO: She did, because, you know, actually, Michael would horse- play quite a bit...
VITADAMO: Right. I mean, he even gave me bruises when he would horse-play. But she had -- she would always attribute it to that. But you know, more so, you know, what we learned a little bit more about, we knew that Michael would control Terri`s mileage on her car. He would mark it down.
GRACE: What do you mean?
VITADAMO: Well, before he left for work, he would mark down the mileage. And then when he got home, he would look at it again, and then calculate, see where she`s been that day, and see how many miles she`d driven.
MARY SCHINDLER: He used to tell her, "It`s OK to go to your mom`s," which means it`s OK to go see your mom and dad, but don`t go any further.
VITADAMO: So, you know, of course, Nancy, hindsight is 20-20. I mean, there were signs that we see now, of course, you know, all along. We just didn`t put two-and-two together, and Terri did a very good job at hiding a lot.
BOBBY SCHIAVO: But when you connect the dots, we just -- our family not knowing what caused her collapse, all we wanted was a proper investigation, and we never got one.
GRACE: We invited Michael Schiavo on the show tonight. He did not want to answer my questions.
Let`s take your calls. Let`s go to Toni in Florida. Welcome, Toni.
CALLER: Hi, Nancy, how are you?
GRACE: Hi, dear.
CALLER: I just want to say I love you, Nancy. You`re an inspiration for a lot of people.
And my question is: How does Terri`s family feel now that Michael is all over the news and everything that has been going on? And, also, was Michael involved with the woman he is now married to while Terri was still alive?
GRACE: OK, let`s throw that to her father.
How do you feel seeing Michael Schiavo all over the news? He`s got a book out. He was asked where the proceeds are going to, and he said he was unsure on that.
I`d like to point out that this book that has been written by Terri`s family, who`s with me tonight, their proceeds are going to a fund, a fund to help people that are helpless, and we`ll tell you about that in a moment.
But what about the woman he is now married to?
ROBERT SCHINDLER: Well, no, our -- my feeling was that the only connection we had with Michael Schiavo was Terri. And once we lost Terri, Michael Schiavo went out of my life. And whatever he wants to do with himself, it really doesn`t make any difference to me. But I`m very serious about that.
MARY SCHINDLER: He started going with her in `95.
MARY SCHINDLER: That`s the one he`s married to now.
GRACE: Let met go to our producer, Steph Watts. Steph and Elizabeth, could you please put up the full screen that we devised today about the two points of view between the Schindlers` book and the husband`s book?
Steph, first of all, the Schindlers claim Terri wanted to live. He says Terri wanted to die. Steph, what inconsistencies have you found in the books, as you compare them?
STEPH WATTS, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: Well, Nancy, it was really interesting, as you know, because you read the books, as well. I read these books, and they were both so far apart on so many different issues, I felt like I was reading two different stories.
I mean, the biggest inconsistency was Michael points the fingers at Terri`s father, saying he was responsible for Terri`s death. He belittled her when she was growing up, which caused her to have bulimia, which caused her to collapse that night.
Mr. Schindler points fingers at Michael saying that he was abusive. They do admit that there was no -- they couldn`t substantiate those reports and that he was responsible for her demise. That was the biggest inconsistency in the books.
GRACE: How does that strike you, Bob, when you hear the husband claim her collapse, which ultimately led to her death, is your fault, because you kidded her about her weight, which, in turn, made her bulimic, which made her collapse, and ultimately, many years later, die? That`s a pretty heavy load to put on your shoulders.
ROBERT SCHINDLER: Well, can I answer that?
ROBERT SCHINDLER: Anyone that would sit there and allow a person to die or ask for a person to die is liable to say anything. That`s how I look at that.
BOBBY SCHINDLER: Can I answer that? You know, that is totally -- that is so offensive for someone. If people knew how much Terri loved my father, all of us, if they knew how much she loved him, that is a totally ridiculous and, as I said, offensive statement to think that my dad would ever, ever belittle Terri or make fun of her, if anybody who knew our family.
GRACE: I mean, that`s quite a heavy load.
Let me go to Wendy Murphy, former federal prosecutor, at this juncture, to look back and say, "You`re the reason she collapsed and died," but, Wendy, you know, a lot of people are waving this autopsy around saying, "See, nanny-boo-boo, she was brain dead all along."
You know, Wendy, I want to put on the record right now: Don`t pull my plug, all right? Put me in front of the TV, feed me chocolate, comb my hair, pay me attention. I don`t want hindsight. I want a chance to live, all right?
Because what if, Wendy, the autopsy had shown otherwise, then what are we supposed to do?
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: You can`t fix this result now, can you? I mean, I think that is one of the most important arguments here is that this is not a mistake you can repair after the autopsy is done.
Nancy, you know, I`ll honor your wishes. I`ll feed your chocolate if that`s what you want. I may choose a different path. But the thing that bothers me the most about this case, aside from the vile statements this man is making about this family that loved their daughter so much...
MURPHY: ... aside from his vile statements and the fact he was on "Larry KING" last night, and at the very end said something like, "I`ll never forget her."
He didn`t say, "I loved her dearly." At the very end, he said, "I`ll never forget her." Well, I won`t either. You know, that doesn`t tell us very much about his feelings, does it?
But here`s the thing: This guy was a fraud on the court, before anybody gave him the power to make the decision about this woman`s life. Forget the abuse. Forget the lies. Forget all that stuff for a minute.
The reason I`m offended by my legal system is that he is a fraud on the court and was known as a fraud on the court before anybody let him make the choice and have the power to tell anybody what she wanted.
And this is what I mean. After the dollars started flowing from the malpractice lawsuit, after the dollars started flowing, within weeks, this guy decides to go to a different courthouse and pull the plug. Now, why is that important? Because he had just told all the jurors in the medical malpractice case that he needed lots of zeros in that settlement amount, you know, in the jury award...
GRACE: To keep her alive.
MURPHY: ... to keep her alive forever and ever...
GRACE: And rehab her, exactly, Wendy Murphy. But you know what? Another issue to point out tonight -- and I`ll go to Lauren Lake on this -- is trial 101, a living will.
This has become a battle extraordinaire where the life of a woman, her life -- the life that she had lived -- became overshadowed by this bickering and fighting. The husband not wanting her to have rehab, according to the family, not wanting to keep her alive.
Living will, Lauren Lake, what is it?
LAUREN LAKE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, it is a document which says what type of medical care you would wish to have at the end of life. It gives instructions. It even may name a medical proxy, meaning this is the person -- I want Nancy; I want Kim; I want Dan to be the person that decides when it is time to pull the plug or pull the feeding tube away from me if, in fact, I am ever in a vegetative state.
And these deals -- these documents are necessary now. We need them, and people need to take heed from this case.
GRACE: To Linda in Toronto, welcome, Linda.
CALLER: Oh, hello, Nancy.
GRACE: Hi, dear.
CALLER: I just wanted to let you know that I so love you. My husband and I watch you every night. But my question to the parents is: How and when were they able to say goodbye to their daughter, if they were at all?
GRACE: You know, Linda, that`s a point I have on our screen for you. It`s my understanding that, without your knowledge, Terri was cremated and buried. Is that true, Bob?
ROBERT SCHINDLER: That is very true.
GRACE: What happened, Mary?
MARY SCHINDLER: I don`t know. He just decided that he was going to cremate her, and we didn`t know where she was going to be buried.
GRACE: And ultimately?
MARY SCHINDLER: He said she was going to Pennsylvania. And then we heard, read it in a paper at home where she was. And I saw the stone that he had, and it said where she was. And so I went up there, and she has a stone there, but I don`t know -- I mean, I go there, but I don`t know if she`s there.
GRACE: Did you have any idea, Suzanne, that she was going to be cremated?
VITADAMO: No. Well, no. But I wanted to add, about saying goodbye to Terri, you know, when Terri passed away and we were in the room, we had -- there were like three policemen in the room. We were unable to have any time, the four of us with Terri, alone after she died.
ROBERT SCHINDLER: We had a violent argument...
MARY SCHINDLER: They wouldn`t let me go near her, the policeman.
ROBERT SCHINDLER: I had a violent argument with the policeman in the room.
MARY SCHINDLER: They made me get out of the room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOBBY SCHINDLER: Terri, your life and legacy will continue to live on, as a nation is now awakened to the plight of thousands of voiceless people with disabilities that were previously unnoticed. Your family intends to stand up for the other Terris around this nation, and we will do all that we can to change the law so others won`t face the same fate that has befallen you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Welcome back. With us tonight in an unprecedented hour, taking your calls, Terri Schiavo`s family.
I want to go to Dr. Art Caplan, chairman of the Department of Medical Ethics at the University of Pennsylvania. Welcome, Dr. Caplan.
DR. ART CAPLAN, DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL ETHICS: Hi, Nancy.
GRACE: Question to you: What does the autopsy say about Schiavo`s condition? And, in retrospect, what do you believe about pulling the plug on her life?
CAPLAN: Well, I don`t believe that she was able to feel or sense for a long period of time. We had the autopsy report looked at today by neurology colleagues of mine, just like Sanjay, and all agreed she couldn`t have suffered, she couldn`t have been in pain.
And I take some support from that fact that her brain had been so damaged, so atrophied, and it wasn`t something that was due to just food and water withdrawal. This was due to prolonged lack of oxygen.
What do I think about taking away the feeding tube, causing her death? I hope -- I hope this is true -- that that is what she would have wanted if she was in that state.
And I agree with our prosecutor friend who came on earlier. The goal here is to avoid future Terris. And the way you do that is to make sure that you write down who should make your decisions and what you want.
GRACE: Right. I want to go to Max Lucado, pastor of Oak Hills Church. Response?
LUCADO: I think the great question here is: Where does this lead us? If we feel like we have the authority to take the life of an innocent person who did not indicate what she would want done in a situation like this, where does that lead us? Who`s next?
If we`ll take the life of someone who has no voice, does that mean in the next decade or so we`ll be taking the lives of those who have a small voice or a weak voice?
This is a very dangerous precedent that takes us right into the question of the value of human life, and I think we have to err on the side of caution in this case.
GRACE: And you know what? Dr. Caplan, what if we had looked at that autopsy report and it showed her brain was rehabilitated? What if it showed she could recognize her family? Then where are we?
CAPLAN: Well, you know, about a week ago, Nancy, we had a Jehovah`s Witness in our hospital who was talking. And he said, "No blood; it`s against my faith." And he died.
GRACE: OK, thank you for sharing that, but I`m asking you about Terri Schiavo.
CAPLAN: For Terri Schiavo, I would say Terri Schiavo could refuse treatment. If a court tells the doctor that the husband is the person who`s making the decision and knows what she would want, that is how medicine is going to respond. So at the end of the day...
CAPLAN: ... it isn`t, "How is your brain doing?" It`s, "What are your wishes?" And we don`t want to give up that right to control your care.
GRACE: To her brother, when did these wishes, her wishes to die, manifest themselves?
BOBBY SCHINDLER: In 1998.
GRACE: In 1998.
BOBBY SCHINDLER: Eight years after her collapse.
GRACE: Eight years later.
BOBBY SCHINDLER: But what`s most important about that, Terri`s wishes surfaced one year after Michael announced that he intended to marry his fiancee, Jodi Centonze, one year after he announced he was going to marry her...
VITADAMO: And the big question is, in 1992, when Michael was in front of a jury crying, reciting his wedding vows, why didn`t he tell the jury that Terri had a wish to die when he was fighting for $20 million to take care of her the rest of her life?
GRACE: Yes, Michael, why not? Why didn`t you tell that jury that? Why did the wishes that you claim Terri Schiavo had to die, why didn`t they manifest themselves until after you had been involved intimately with another woman for a year? Why is that?
Let`s go to Bill in Illinois. Bill, are you with us?
CALLER: Yes, hi, Nancy.
GRACE: Hi, dear.
CALLER: I guess I`m going to be kind of your devil`s advocate here...
GRACE: Oh, dear!
CALLER: ... but it seems to me that the press is really making Michael out to be some kind of a villain.
CALLER: And, I mean, I guess my question is pretty simple. I mean, 15 years -- you know, I mean, don`t you think he`s suffered a little? I mean, you know, 15 years...
GRACE: OK, you know what? That`s a good question. Let`s throw that to Terri`s mother -- Mary?
MARY SCHINDLER: You know, Bill, is it Bill?
MARY SCHINDLER: OK, let me just say this. I wanted Michael to go on with his life. All I wanted him to do was to give my daughter back to me and our family, and we would take care of her. That`s all I wanted from him.
I didn`t want him to do anything else. He didn`t have to.
GRACE: And, seemingly, he was very happy with his new love.
MARY SCHINDLER: Exactly.
GRACE: They had two kids together.
MARY SCHINDLER: Exactly.
GRACE: He had all that pot of money.
MARY SCHINDLER: Exactly.
ROBERT SCHINDLER: If I add just one more fact here, is that Terri was not rehabilitated in those 12 years. The condition that she was in was deteriorating because she was...
GRACE: No rehab.
GRACE: ... after he promised to a jury, right, that he needed the money for rehab?
MARY SCHINDLER: Right.
ROBERT SCHINDLER: The last five years of her life, she laid in a hospice room sequestered. She was not permitted outside.
GRACE: That would be like if I didn`t walk for 15 years and stayed in a hospital bed.
ROBERT SCHINDLER: But, remember, she was in a cell for five years. She was not permitted any type of visitors.
MARY SCHINDLER: She couldn`t go outside.
GRACE: We`ll all be right back. With me, Terri Schindler-Schiavo`s family answering your questions. Please stay with us, as we stop to remember tonight Army Private First Class Peter Wagler, 18 years old, Partridge, Kansas, killed by an explosive, Baghdad.
One of eight siblings raised on a farm, he dreamed of serving his country in the military since he was a boy. He left behind his family a letter saying he had no regrets. Peter D. Wagler, tonight, an American hero.
GRACE: Welcome back. With me tonight, Terri Schiavo`s family taking your questions.
To clinical psychotherapist Dr. Mark Hillman. Can a family ever really heal from grieving when this type of dispute is going on?
MARK HILLMAN, CLINICAL PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Absolutely not. The reserve of resentment is absolutely overwhelming.
Understand, I`m here in the studio right now with the entire Schindler family. And, first, I`d like to express my sincere condolences to them.
What you`re asking the parents of a child to do is to kill their daughter, and I think that`s absolutely reprehensible. But now you go back to what the attorney said earlier about a living will, the legal ramifications of marriage, but we don`t talk about death education.
We don`t talk about the legal entity of marriage in pre-K classes and pre-marriage classes. And then I think is, if we take something sincerely away from this, it`s: How do we move forward? It`s reinvesting, not this PAC, not this challenging politicians and getting the White House involved. What did we learn from this as a family of people...
GRACE: Right. Right. Here in the studio with me is Terri`s brother. The foundation, what is it?
BOBBY SCHINDLER: Well, you know, Nancy, we`re tired of all this fighting with Michael. And anything he says, you know, about our family really doesn`t change the fact that he killed my sister.
So, you know, our family in turn are trying to take my sister`s death...
GRACE: The foundation.
BOBBY SCHINDLER: ... and created the foundation, and that is to protect those that are less -- that are weak and cannot speak. And we want to be their voice and protect them, so that something that happened to Terri won`t happen to them.
GRACE: There you go. Thank you, Elizabeth, for putting that up. And could you please put up the Schindler Foundation, quickly, Elizabeth?
To Terri`s sister, final thought?
VITADAMO: I think the final thought is I think we all need to pray. We need to pray for the disabled. And I think we need to pray for compassion for people like Terri and the handicapped and those that take care of people like that and to give them strength. I think we need to pray.
GRACE: The proceeds from their book, "A Life that Matters," is going to their foundation to give a voice for those that cannot speak for themselves. Thank you to Terri`s family.
But our biggest thank you is to you for being with us, inviting us into your homes. I`m Nancy Grace, along with Terri`s family, signing off for tonight. Until tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern, good night, friend.