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Dust-Up Over Madonna`s African Adoption Continues

Aired October 23, 2006 - 20:00:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight, breaking news on alleged illegal international adoptions. At center stage, musical icon Madonna, as the biological dad of her newly adopted baby boy changes his story. Does the Madonna controversy signal a clampdown on the baby business?
And tonight, North Carolina and a brand-new threat. It`s one-stop shopping for criminals, kidnap and armed robbery at one local ATM, a 19- year-old coed swiped at a well-lit local ATM, forced into a locked car trunk. Tonight, grainy surveillance video emerges from that ATM. Will it nail the kidnappers?

But first, adoption war.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When we agreed with Madonna that she wants to take care of the child, it wasn`t any arrangement that she was going to have him, David, as her own and forever. No. It was supposed to be just like when he was at the orphanage, that he will be raised and educated, and thereafter, he would come back to our family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE This marks a 180-degree turn to what he said barely a week ago, when he declared himself only too happy for his 1-year-old son to be taken from a local orphanage to be raised by one of the world`s most famous celebrities.


GRACE: Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. Does the so-called Madonna controversy signal the clampdown on international adoptions?

Straight out to staff editor with "People" magazine Larry Sutton. Why the uproar?

LARRY SUTTON, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Well, I think a lot of people are upset because they feel that Madonna got away with something that happened very quickly. What they don`t know is that Madonna has been working on this adoption for almost a year. She has met with legal people over there for months in the past. And this is something that she really worked on a long time. So I think the fear comes from thinking she just ran in there~ and grabbed a kid. That`s not the truth.

GRACE: Well, take a listen to what the boy`s biological father had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I don`t know who she is. All I know is that she will give my son a good life.

When we agreed with Madonna that she wants to take care of the child, there wasn`t any arrangement that she was going to have him, David, as her own and forever. No. It was supposed to be just like when he was at the orphanage, that he will be raised and educated, and thereafter he would come back to our family.


GRACE: To Larry Sutton, staff editor with "People" magazine. Larry, it seems to me that the biological father has certainly changed his story.

SUTTON: He certainly has. I mean, last week, our reporters in Malawi spoke with him, as well. And remember, he spoke with Madonna at length. And she had an interpreter there. They went back and forth. He has changed his story a little bit. I think he`s been listening to a lot of people in Malawi who don`t have maybe his best interests or the child`s best interests at heart.

GRACE: Let`s break down what the law is in Malawi, very quickly. What does it require?

SUTTON: Well, there`s a phrase that`s the center of the debate, and it`s called -- the word "resident." It says that someone must somebody resident in Malawi when the adoption takes place. However, this does not mean you have to be living there. It just sort of means -- according to the dean of the faculty of law at the University of Malawi, what this means is you have to be there for them to check you out when the adoption process is taking place. And clearly, by that interpretation, Madonna did OK.

GRACE: you know, it`s a matter of simple Trial 101. Here we call it domicile, where a party lives. In many jurisdictions, there is a domicile requirement, such as the old example of you have to live in Reno six months before a divorce. That is a domicile requirement. And it`s different in multiple jurisdictions.

Let`s unchain the lawyers. Joining us tonight, Paul Batista and Ash Joshi. Let`s talk about the domicile requirement. We will know, apparently, that Madonna has been back and forth to Malawi for some time now. It`s not that she just showed up and did a tribal dance and took home a baby boy. That`s not what happened.

Also joining us tonight, Penny Douglass Furr, an expert in adoption and custody law. Out to you, Penny. It seems to me that Madonna has been visiting this jurisdiction for some time now, so what`s the controversy?

PENNY DOUGLASS FURR, DEFENSE ATTORNEY, ADOPTION & CHILD CUSTODY SPECIALIST: Well, Nancy, I think people don`t realize that she`s been doing paperwork now for almost a year before she even went to Malawi, and she has met all the legal requirements to take this child. I think there`s a lot of controversy because there`s the cultural difference and she`s taking this child out of Malawi, and there are just a lot of groups that are opposed to that, and so they`re now making a huge controversy about it. But apparently, these are people that also are not interested in the best interests of the child. They`re just concerned about other things.

GRACE: Take a listen to what a child advocate says. Let me know when you get that, Liz.

Out to you, Ash Joshi. With any court proceeding, Ash, the first thing you look at is whether people have changed their story. And I`ve got documented where this biological father has gone from being thrilled Madonna wanted to adopt his baby, being angry at human rights groups that want to give the baby back, talking about how he couldn`t feed the baby, and suddenly, it`s like he`s confused. What happened? Where`s the baby? The first thing you look at is credibility. Why would he change his story, Ash?

ASH JOSHI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, that`s a great question. You have to assume that there`s more to this than just him changing his mind. The man could not feed his child. He had given up a child for adoption because he physically could not feed a child. Now all of a sudden, he says he wants the child back, he`s capable of taking care of the child, of feeding the child. You have to wonder, is somebody giving him something? Are these human rights organizations saying, Look, we`ll pay you, we`ll give you money, we`ll make it so that you can take care of your child? Something has changed other than just people saying that We don`t think it`s a good idea. Something`s...


GRACE: Paul Batista, weigh in.

PAUL BATISTA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: ... all these years, I hate to agree with you, Nancy, but on this one, I have to.

GRACE: You start every sentence that way.


GRACE: You`ve got to come up with a new one. That`s very tired. Go ahead.

BATISTA: Let me -- let me -- let me say this. The father -- if this were an American court of law, the contradictions in what this father has said are amazing. I`d like to know, for example, a good lawyerly question is, How often did you see your son in the 13 months he`s been alive and living in that orphanage? I wonder what the answer to that question is. I wonder if -- let`s say the man makes $10 a month or a year. What portion of that has he given to the support of this child? Why are these stories changing? Why is there -- are there so many issues about this fellow`s credibility?

GRACE: Joining us here in the New York studio is Diane Clehane. She is not only an author but an adoptive mother, her little baby girl from China, and she is currently working on a memoir about her adoption experience. I was lucky enough to be working with Diane when she was adopting this beautiful baby girl and all the struggles she went through.

Diane, what do you make of this controversy?

DIANE CLEHANE, AUTHOR, ADOPTED BABY FROM CHINA: Well, I think what`s interesting is that to the untrained eye, to people that are not involved in adoption -- there`s a process in every country. Every country has their own rules, their own regulations. It`s very, very difficult to speculate, certainly, on anyone`s motives. You can`t speculate on anyone`s motives for giving up a child for adoption. And the countries are all different. I mean, our process through China was very much clear to us what we were going to have to go through. It`s not easy.

GRACE: And what did you have to go through?

CLEHANE: Well, it took about 19 months to get Madeleine (ph). And we went through a domestic agency here in the States. We went through a mountain of paperwork like you can`t believe, being sort of cleared security-wise by the government, by the agency, having China look over our paperwork. We created a photo album fro them to sort of see what our life was like. We wrote essays about why we wanted to have a child.

It was a lot, but I understand why it all had to be done because they want to know who their children are being adopted by. And in the end, I`m extremely grateful that the country had the process they had put in place because I know that everything was done the right way.

GRACE: Diane, when you got there to China, what did you observe about the orphanage, about the conditions that children live under there?

CLEHANE: Well, I think what was really heart-breaking to see was that there is a lot of poverty in these countries. China certainly is a country that does the very best they can with what they have. Fortunately, China is supported by a lot of different agencies and organizations, like families with children from China who mobilize people like myself that have adopted, that constantly contribute funds and materials that they need.

It was very difficult to see children in these orphanages, but it was heartening to see that the officials and the caregivers, particularly, were doing everything that they could. I mean, there are multiple babies sleeping in one crib. When we got Maddie, she was wearing a little outfit that had -- was clean, but it had been washed countless times. And you knew that they weren`t new clothes, certainly. But these people really are very caring about the children, and people that are at these orphanages want the very best for their children.

Our dossier -- when we sent over information is, you then get a referral back from the country that tells you about the child. Our dossier, our referral was very, very detailed. It said that she loved music, that the caregivers loved her. I mean, these people that take care of these children really want the best for them.

GRACE: Let`s go out to the lines. Karen in North Carolina. Hi, Karen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. You do great work. I watch you every night. I love you. Thank you for all of the hard work you do to protect our children.

GRACE: Thank you, dear. What`s your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is, of all of the impoverished countries in the nation -- I`m sorry -- in the world, I was wondering why Madonna chose this country of Malawi that we`ve heard little about.

GRACE: That is a really interesting question. And I`ve heard so many people say, Why Malawi? Why not America? We have children to be adopted here. But you know what, bottom line? Here`s a child who had both siblings die of tuberculosis. The mom died of complications between malaria and childbirth. The dad could not afford to feed the baby. So he went to an adoption center, an orphanage.

Let`s go to Dr. Robi Ludwig. Thoughts on that, Robi?

ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Yes. Madonna, as many people know, is affiliated with the Kabbalah Center, which has basically adopted Malawi as their charitable foundation. And so they`ve invested a lot of time in this country in terms of educating children. This is a country that has 12 million people, and 1 million of those children are basically orphans. So this is a very poor country that`s in need, so I`m sure that she`s had a relationship with this country for quite a long time, even before the adoption went through.

GRACE: And back out to Larry Sutton, staff editor with "People" magazine. Larry, a lot of people think Madonna just went to Africa -- that she, excuse me, went to Malawi specifically, that she did tribal dances, got caught up in the thought of adoption and brought home a baby. That is not at all what happened. What`s the inside story, Larry?

SUTTON: No, I don`t think so. What people should know, too, is that Madonna has been helping to fund six different orphanages in Malawi. She`s been doing this for quite some time. So this isn`t someone who is coming in, not knowing what she was getting into.

GRACE: What do you mean by quite some time, Larry?

SUTTON: I mean about a year or so.

GRACE: OK, now, hold on. Let`s unchain the lawyers just one more moment, taking all risks involved with that. Let`s go back out to them. Back to you, Penny Douglass Furr. We know that Malawi requires an 18-month residence or domicile. So if she`s been going back and forth for over a year and they`re going to have her on a probationary period for 18 months, domicile does not mean you can`t leave the area, that you`ve got to stay there for a full 18 months, does it.

FURR: That`s correct, Nancy. Most countries that you do an international adoption, they will require you to go there and spend a certain amount of time with the child so the child can bond with the parents, and then you will go back to your home, generally, and you will go back to that country again and then you will go through their legal process.

And I`m not sure exactly what it is here, but I understand that she does have an 18-month probationary period where people from Malawi will watch over what is happening with the children. And if they saw any indication that this child was being treated any differently than her other two children, they would cancel the adoption and she would not be allowed to adopt this child.

GRACE: Yes. I want to take a look at the changing statements the biological father has made. His name Yohane, his son David. Here we go. "Where were these people, the human rights people, when David was struggling in the orphanage? These so-called human rights groups should leave my baby alone. As father, I have OKed this. I have no problem. The village has no problem. Who are they to cause trouble? Please make them stop." His statements go on to suddenly degenerating into, "What, I adopted the baby? I`m not a" -- this was one of the first ones. "I`m not aware of Madonna. I don`t know who she is. All I know, she`s going to give my son a good life. We trust Madonna will look after our child and he will have a better life. I see no reason why my child should be given away."

You know, that`s quite a departure, one from the other. What do you make of it, Larry Sutton?

SUTTON: Well, you have to remember this is a father who actually did give away his child to the orphanage about a year ago. So to say now that someone else is giving it away, it`s one step removed from that process. I think he`s got people, bad advisers perhaps, talking with him.

GRACE: Let`s go to the lines. Liz, who do we have on the line? Diane in Michigan. Hi, Diane.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. Congratulations on your show.

GRACE: Thank you, dear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question, does anyone know if the father has an attorney? And if he has an attorney, are they requesting a monetary amount or is he strictly asking for his child back?

GRACE: What do we know, Larry?

SUTTON: Again, as I said, he gave that child up a year ago to the orphanage, so the child was in the orphanage`s possession. As far as having a lawyer, I don`t believe he`s got a lawyer, but he has a lot of advisers, a lot of new friends have popped up.

GRACE: Yes, they really have. And very quickly, to our editorial producer here on the set with me, to Ellie. Ellie, question. Didn`t the Malawian officials go through all of this with him? Aren`t they speaking out and -- I mean, we`ve got a court date set for next Friday, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. Right. Well, and as "People" magazine reported, Madonna and Yohane Banda, the father, actually met face to face and discussed this in a courtroom.

GRACE: And the adoption officials say they went through it word for word...


GRACE: ... with him.


GRACE: When we get back, everyone, we`re going to be joined by the founder of Americans for African Adoptions -- and she`s just not the founder, she has actually adopted children from Africa -- to shed some light on this controversy. And will the result of this -- the tangential result of the Madonna controversy signal a clampdown of adoptions of children that are desperately in need of loving parents? We can only hope not.

Very quickly, to "Case Alert." Finally, a top Enron exec pays the price in one of the largest corporate scandals in U.S. history. Former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling gets 24 years 4 months behind bars. That for conspiracy and fraud. Skilling also forfeiting a $45 million payout to Enron victims. Just last week, Enron founder Ken Lay escaped being buried with a rap sheet when a federal judge threw out Lay`s case.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I lost $1,310,577 and something-cents. We were told the company has never been any stronger, and we believed them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Rafael (ph) from Tampa, Florida, corporate attorney and a close observer of the Enron trial. Ultimately, the lengthy sentence that was imposed today will provide very little comfort to the employees and pension holders of Enron. The fact that be Jeff Skilling will probably spend the rest of his life in jail is very little comfort that to people that have lost huge amounts of money and virtually their whole savings.



GRACE: Is music icon Madonna in trouble with the law? Well, if the father of a Malawian baby has anything to do with it, the answer is yes.

Let`s go straight out to Cheryl Carter-Shotts, a special guest joining us. She is the founder of Americans for African Adoptions and the mother of two African children. Ma`am, thank you for being with us.

CHERYL CARTER-SHOTTS, FOUNDER, AMERICANS FOR AFRICAN ADOPTIONS, INC.: Thank you for having me. You`re not going to like what I have to say, though. I think your guests, the other speakers, are very wrong. After spending 20 years in and out of Africa, what everyone is overlooking is the culture of Africa. When a mother, a birth mother, dies and the father is still in the picture, he knows that he cannot breastfeed this child. He cannot afford the formula for this child. So it`s very customary to temporarily put your child in an orphanage.

You may or may not go back to visit, but your goal is to have someone else take care of your child because you can`t. You don`t want to lose your child. You don`t want them to die, but you want them cared for, and you`re going to go back as the dad when that child is four or five years of age.

What`s being overlooked here is this man is totally illiterate and he only knows what people told him and what they read to him. And I have seen this happen in Africa again and again and again, where we have gone into orphanages, we have been given permission by orphanage directors to take a child, move the child into our foster home, and when we get down to the legalities of it and when we get into meeting with lawyers and courts and judges and we have to bring back the biological relative, in some cases, they have said, Wait a minute. We don`t want our child to leave the country. We need help taking care of that child, but we don`t want to lose our child. That`s the culture of Africa, and that`s not being taken into consideration here.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) buy other people (INAUDIBLE) to come here (INAUDIBLE) Madonna (INAUDIBLE) and we support her. She should get a child (INAUDIBLE)


GRACE: Third world adoption. Malawi`s children have 110 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Horrible. One million orphans as of tonight, 83,000 children with HIV or AIDS, 500,000 AIDS orphans. Madonna goes to Malawi, brings home a baby boy, and over the course of time, the biological dad`s story has changed.

Joining us is special guest Cheryl Carter-Shotts, the founder of Americans for African Adoptions. Question. What is the reality in Africa? How many children are living in poverty? And how many orphans are there?

CARTER-SHOTTS: I don`t think that anyone really knows, but I know that when the news media talks about the millions of orphans, I think the average viewer believes that they`re babies and toddlers. Those mostly are HIV-positive. Certainly, there are some healthy children, but the children from about 5 years of age and up are the children who have been orphaned by AIDS and they`re the ones who need to be adopted -- the older children, the special needs, handicapped children, which were my two adopted African children, who are now adults.

But what is not being taken into consideration here is the culture, and that`s critical. We have to respect their culture.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The high court in Malawi`s capital, Lilongwe, will begin hearing arguments Friday by a group of 67 human rights groups which are arguing Malawi`s laws forbidding international adoptions, even those by celebrities. Madonna had insisted that baby David would be able to travel to Malawi and visit his family as often as possible and that way maintain his roots.


GRACE: Adoption in third world countries seemed to have boomeranged on music icon Madonna, trying to do an act of goodwill and bringing the new baby into her home. Suddenly, the biological dad of a little boy from Malawi has changed his tune.

Let`s go straight back out to Cheryl Carter-Shotts. Also with me, Diane Clehane, author and adoptive mom of an international adoption.

Cheryl, you mentioned that we have to take into account the culture. Well, according to statistics, the babies in Malawi are dying. They`re dying. The mortality at -- the death rates at birth are horrible, with HIV, malaria, and T.B. rampant. It`s very disturbing to me that this biological dad has changed his story so much. I can`t reconcile it. Help me.

CATER-SHOTTS: I don`t think he changed his story. I really don`t. I think he didn`t understand totally what was happening.

He`s not familiar with adoption. He may or may not be familiar with Madonna. He is a very hungry man. He has lost children, but he is still the biological father. We`ve had this happen in our work over the 20 years, and if the parent or a grandparent comes back and says, "You know, I`ve rethought this, and I don`t want my child, my relative to leave the country"...


CARTER-SHOTTS: ... we give them their child back.


CARTER-SHOTTS: This man should get his son back.

GRACE: I`m not -- I don`t know all the facts yet, but I want to take a careful look, Diane Clehane, an international adoptive mom and author with us. It starts from, "I don`t even know who Madonna is. All I know, she will give my son a good life." Then it morphs, "We trust Madonna will look after our child and he will have a better life." Now, suddenly, "I see no reason why my child should be given away." Diane Clehane, response?

CLEHANE: Well, I think first and foremost most important part of this is, is that people should want what`s best for this child. And I think, as an adoptive parent, you go to an adoption agency thinking that they are going to give you all the information, all the things that you need to know about that the adoption is being handled properly.

I really feel badly for Madonna, if she did do everything the way that it was supposed to be done. And this poor man wasn`t -- someone wasn`t talking to him properly. But I think the idea being that, when you adopt a child, you really have to rely on those parties, the liaisons, the adoption agencies, the government, to do everything correctly.

GRACE: Let`s go out to the lines. Calling in, Kim in Canada. Hi, Kim.

CALLER: Hi, thank you very much for taking my call, Nancy. I love your show.

GRACE: Thank you.

CALLER: Question: Why is it that movie stars -- it seems so easy for them to go through this adoption process? But let`s take the average Joe from Canada or the U.S. that wants to adopt a child, doesn`t have the big bucks to put up front, obviously, and they make an age issue, as well, in terms of adopting internationally. Why is that? Why is it?

GRACE: Well, I think that part of the reason is because they`ve got a fleet of lawyers doing, for instance, all the paper work that Diane Clehane and Cheryl Carter-Shotts probably had to do themselves. So it`s a lot more difficult for someone that doesn`t have a staff doing all the investigation, all the paperwork, everything that has to be done for you. You`re doing it all yourself; you`re dealing with the adoption agency yourself.

Let`s go back out to Penny Douglass Furr, adoption and child custody specialist. Not only that, from my understanding, Penny, there have been numerous trips back and forth by Madonna to Malawi to make this happen.

FURR: Nancy, Madonna herself met with the father and said to the father, "If you do not want to do this, it is fine. I will take a different child." She personally met with him. They had interpreters. It was extremely clear.

Apparently, someone is putting pressure on him. The only thing I can imagine is that possibly, when the child went to the orphanage, he was in the position that a foster child would be in this country and had not been completely taken away from the father. He went into foster care, as children do in this country, when you cannot take care of them.

But I`m sure it was completely explained to the father. And, apparently, someone`s putting pressure on here, but we have to consider what is in the best interests of this child. To me, the culture would be explaining to the child and raising him in the culture and helping him be proud that he`s from Malawi, not necessarily dropping him off at the orphanage and then picking him up in five years.

GRACE: Out to Larry Sutton with "People" magazine, staff editor. Larry, do we know if -- our culture comes into play, as well.


GRACE: Do we know if the biological father had visited the child, how far away the orphanage was from the dad? Did he want to keep the child but couldn`t afford to? I mean, what are the circumstances surrounding it?

SUTTON: Well, I can tell you this. Not only the father, but the grandmother of the child told us that she said, "They answered our prayers when Madonna showed up. We were looking for help." Now, these are two family members, the two closest the child can have, the father and his grandmother, who both said a week ago that this was the best thing in the world for the child.

GRACE: And it defies common sense to me that you would have someone else pay for everything for your child, have the child raised in your home, send your child to school, integrate your child with your own biological children, and then suddenly say, "Oh, that`s not what I meant."

Madonna gives a statement. "We have gone about the adoption procedure according to the law like anyone else who adopts a child. The procedure includes an 18-month evaluation period after which time we hope to make this adoption permanent. This was not a decision or commitment my family or I take lightly. I`m overwhelmed and inspired by my trip to Malawi and hope it helps bring attention to how much more the world needs to do to help the children of Africa," signed Madonna Ritchie.

To you, Robi Ludwig, shrink it.

LUDWIG: Well, we don`t know what this man knows, and he is illiterate, so we have to assume that the people that were communicating to him were basically getting through to him in a way that he can understand.

GRACE: So we`ve got to believe either him or the Malawi officials.

LUDWIG: Well, right. We have to find out a little bit more information about what did he understand about this process. The other issue is maybe he`s having second thoughts. I don`t think it`s uncommon for somebody to be ambivalent about wanting the best for your child and then wondering, "What is that best?" Is it best to have the child close by or is it best to give the child an opportunity at a better life and expose him to many things?

GRACE: Well, if we all think back on the most recent high-profile adoption was baby Sahara, adopted by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie out of Ethiopia. Maybe I`m remembering incorrectly, Diane Clehane, but wasn`t there the discussion that baby Sahara had to go back to Ethiopia, that somehow the paperwork hadn`t been done properly? That never happened though.

CLEHANE: No, it didn`t. And the case got really sensationalized. The tabloids got a hold of that. I mean, the truth of the matter is, I did reporting about adoptions in that country. And I found another single mother who was on the same trip as Angelina, and she, too, got a 3-month- old baby. These countries all have different processes. There were only 441 children adopted out of that country last year. There`s not a huge line. That`s why it takes a shorter period of time; that`s why it`s easier to adopt in that country.

A country like China, where more people adopt than any other country, it takes longer. It takes everyone two years, almost two years. It took Meg Ryan almost two years to adopt her baby girl out of China. People have to understand, there are all different parts of a process, and we`re not privy to what exactly happens in individual cases.

GRACE: Out to the lines. Vicky in North Carolina, hi, Vicky.

CALLER: Hi, Nancy. My question is why, if all these people want to adopt babies so badly, don`t they look at the children in this country first that need homes?

GRACE: You know, my initial reaction when celebrities started adopting in third world countries was yours. But you know what, Ms. Vickie? I`ve seen so many children in court, molested, mistreated, starved, beaten. I`ve come to the point where I don`t care from where the baby is adopted. It is a baby in need, desperately in need, be it within our borders or beyond. And I really commend anyone willing to undertake a lifetime commitment.

And believe me, to Cheryl Carter-Shotts, you said I wouldn`t agree with you. I don`t agree or disagree. I don`t want to see some dad, a biological father, robbed of his child when he did not mean to put it up for adoption. But on the other hand, to Larry Sutton, it seemed as if his statements have really morphed over time.

SUTTON: They have changed. And it`s a bit of a mystery why the big change, because, again, interpreters were there, going back and forth between Madonna and the man. Folks from the orphanage were there chatting with him. And again, let`s get back to the crucial point of it was a year ago that he decided to give his child to the orphanage.

CARTER-SHOTTS: He didn`t though. He didn`t.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police say an 18-year-old woman and a 19-year- old man were sitting in her car in the parking lot when the three men, two with guns, jumped in and drove off with them in search of cash.

The three men brought the two suspects to various ATMs. They forced them to withdraw all their cash. When they were tapped out, that`s when they headed to Troutman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I woke up, and there was two guys standing over top of me with guns.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The girl`s family lives in Troutman, and for almost two hours the suspects ransacked the home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They took us downstairs in the house and made us lay down on the floor in the downstairs, and they held guns on us down there.


GRACE: Now there is one-stop shopping, you can get an armed robbery and a kidnapping at one ATM. Bye-bye. Straight out to our reporter standing by with the "Statesville Record and Landmark," Donna Swicegood. Hi, Donna. What happened?

DONNA SWICEGOOD, "STATESVILLE RECORD AND LANDMARK": Hi, Nancy. From my understanding, these two kids were sitting in a parking lot not far from the campus of the local community college talking about 11:00 Saturday night and were approached by a couple of guys with guns, when three men, as I said, jumped in the car. And off they went on kind of a spree of making them withdraw money from various ATMs and just taking and eventually wound up, as she said, at the girl`s house, where they held her family hostage while she went with another suspect to get money out of an ATM again.

GRACE: About how many ATMs did they end up going to?

SWICEGOOD: At least two that I know of. You know, the police could probably give you a little bit better answer on that, but I know they went to at least two.

GRACE: To Chief Steve Hampton joining us, Statesville Police Department. Chief, thank you for being with us. How many ATMs did they hit?


GRACE: And how many withdrawals?

HAMPTON: There were two withdrawals from each of the ATMs and had gone to a third ATM, as well, but no withdrawal was made there.

GRACE: And let me get this straight. They then take the girl home to her home where the family is there. Was there a little brother involved?

HAMPTON: There was a child in the home, yes.

GRACE: And then open fire? Why did they open fire inside the home?

HAMPTON: The individual, the 18-year-old and 19-year-old, had been terrorized all night, so you would have to make your own assumption as to why they fired then inside the residence.

GRACE: So after they leave the residence with another ATM card, they put the girl in the trunk of the car and take off?

HAMPTON: A lookout was given for the vehicle. The vehicle was seen in the south Statesville area. Officers turned around on it, and we knew the girl, when the car left the residence, that she was in the car. We did not know where. The chase ensued at speeds in excess of 60 miles an hour through a residential area for a distance only of about .6 mile when it hit a fire hydrant and crashed.

GRACE: So were all three of these guys armed?

HAMPTON: There were two weapons that were seen throughout the night.

GRACE: Let`s go out to former D.C. cop and former fed with the FBI terrorism task force, Mike Brooks. Mike, what`s your analysis?

MIKE BROOKS, FORMER D.C. POLICE: I`ll tell you what, Nancy, this family is extremely lucky to be alive. I mean, these guys were brazen. They acted like they really didn`t even care if they got locked up.

Their pictures were all over the news from the ATM video. You know, the one guy was caught there at the scene, Collins. He caught there at the scene. The other two bailed out. Dewayne Davis, he was caught later on. His car he was driving at the time ran out of gas. And the other idiot, he was caught at the delivery room of the hospital. He had gone to see his girlfriend who was having his baby.

So, I mean, these three brazen idiots deserve to be locked up, and hope they do some crime. And there`s a possibility, Nancy, that they may be wanted for a string of other crimes in the Statesville area.

GRACE: Let`s unchain the lawyers once again, taking our lives into our own risk. We`ve got Paul Batista, Ash Joshi. Also joining us, no Penny. Paul and Ash. Thanks, Elizabeth.

Paul, first of all, we`re looking at some very, very serious crimes, aggravated assaults with a gun, deadly weapon on the entire family, home invasion, kidnapping, and multiple robberies.

BATISTA: And attempted murder, because part of the story that we haven`t heard yet is that the members of the girl`s family were made to lie on the floor while these guys were doing outline shots, shooting guns on the floor while these people were lying there.

This was a walking or driving crime wave on a single night -- maybe on other nights, as well -- by people who were as brazen as they can be. The most difficult job a lawyer can have is they`re depicted on the cameras. They don`t seem to have any credible defense.

GRACE: Out to Ash Joshi, what are they looking at, Ash?

JOSHI: The rest of their life in jail, quite frankly. I would be surprised if any of these young men got out of jail before they were in their fifties, may be even their sixties. The reality is, you got so many crimes. You`ve got more than one county. Nancy, they will be in jail until they are very old men.

GRACE: You know, what`s amazing to me, Robi Ludwig, is the brazen nature of this, at a shopping center, in a well-lit ATM.

LUDWIG: Yes, I mean, these are career criminals in the making. And they are dangerous, and it sounds like they were very predatory.

GRACE: Career criminals in the making? One already has a rap sheet. The other two were juveniles, so who knows what they`ve got?

LUDWIG: Yes, yes, no, these are very serious -- I mean, these are dangerous guys. And it`s unfortunate, but, you know, very often these crimes are a matter of convenience, who`s close by, who do you know? And it sounds like they were in it together, and there`s something very scary about these three.

GRACE: To Mike Brooks, I want you to analyze as a veteran law enforcement officer the brazen nature of this.

BROOKS: I`ll tell you what, Nancy. I just can`t believe how lucky that girl is. I mean, they had her in the trunk of that car while the police were chasing her, and then they got to the scene and they got the one guy out after the other two bailed, and they heard kicking coming from inside the trunk. They pop the trunk open, and there she was. The whole Champ family is extremely lucky, Nancy.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This should never happen at a public place where you get mugged out here in the parking lot. I want to see them go to hell and burn in hell.


GRACE: Welcome back. It`s one-stop shopping. You can get so much at just one ATM. Let`s see, you can get kidnapped, armed robbed, stuck in a car trunk, your family, pot shots taken at them with handguns in the home. Let`s go out to the lines, Bud in Missouri. Hi, Bud.

CALLER: Hi. Am I on?

GRACE: Yes, dear, what`s your question?

CALLER: Was the family injured in any way? And were they in the car when they caught them?

GRACE: Good question. To Donna Swicegood with the "Statesville Record and Landmark," I believe the girl was actually pistol-whipped, wasn`t she, Donna?

SWICEGOOD: I`m not sure about that. That would be -- the police could tell you that a whole lot better. But to my understanding, pretty much everybody was OK.

GRACE: Chief Hampton, was the girl hurt? Chief, are you with me? OK, Liz, let me know if we get the chief back. It`s my understanding, Bud, that the girl was pistol-whipped; the rest of the family not harmed. What about it, Mike Brooks?

BROOKS: I`ve heard also, Nancy, that the girl was struck with one of the weapons, and the other family members came out of this unscathed, which is unbelievable to me, especially with shots fired on the floor while they`re lying on the floor being terrorized by these three predatory animals.

GRACE: And, you know, back to you, Ash Joshi, criminal defense attorney out of Atlanta, you see people graduate to crimes out in the open. Typically you don`t start off like this. I find the brazen nature of this very suggestive that there`s a long history.

JOSHI: Yes, I would be surprised if this was their first go-around. Anytime you start doing things out in the open, what`s so scary about this, Nancy, is when your face is out in the open, we assume you have less to lose. That`s why I agree with Mike Brooks: I`m shocked that nobody was killed, considering that these guys know there`s so many witnesses, so many people who can identify them. It`s really amazing that it turned out the way it did.

GRACE: And not only that, they`re caught on the ATM.

JOSHI: That`s right.

GRACE: All I`ve got to say is, "ATM, bye-bye."

Let`s stop one moment to remember, tonight we remember Army Specialist First Class Richard Henkes, Portland, Oregon. Joined the Army straight from high school, he got the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Henkes loved snowboarding and his family, including four sisters, two brothers, and a 5-year-old little girl, Isabelle. Richard Henkes, American hero.

Thank you for inviting us into your home. NANCY GRACE signing off for tonight. See you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.


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