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Four Infants` Bodies Found at Maryland Home
Aired July 30, 2007 - 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, breaking news, a stunning discovery, bodies of four dead infants found at the home of a young Maryland mom, initially accused of killing her own baby, police raid the home of 37-year- old mother Christy Freeman, finding infants buried from in the front yard to under the kitchen sink. As we go to air, a full-scale search with cadaver dogs going down on that Maryland property.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bond, at this point, bail has been denied for Christy Freeman, but she is facing charges of first degree murder, second degree murder, manslaughter, and all of these are in relation to the first baby that police found on Thursday, that they believe had died recently. The remains of these four pre-term infants have been sent to the medical examiner`s office in Baltimore. We are told that they are going to probably release details of those reports some time next week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: And tonight: NFL superstar multi-millionaire quarterback Michael Vick indicted by a secret federal grand jury, allegations of hanging, shooting, body slamming, even electrocuting dogs to death as part of a multi-state underground dog fighting operation, much of it at Vick`s super-secret estate near Richmond, Virginia. Headlines tonight. Vick remains free after pleading not guilty, but today, the NFLer`s co-defendant agrees to cooperate with the feds, pleads guilty, and is set to testify against Vick at trial. Also tonight, we learn the football star`s the bankroll behind this vicious underground dog operation, an operation that spans the Eastern Seaboard.
And tonight: The feds reveal more federal charges set to be filed against Vick. What else do they have? Also, do we finally know the identity of at least one of those four top secret witnesses in the original indictment set to place Vick at the head of illegal canine-fights-to-the- death scheme? And tonight, after weeks of hiding out in silence, Vick finally speaks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A major blow to Atlanta Falcons star quarterback Michael Vick. One of his co-defendants in the Virginia dog fighting case, Tony Taylor (ph), reached a plea deal with prosecutors today. That deal presumably includes an agreement that Taylor will testify against Vick and the other two co-defendants.
Shortly after that bombshell this morning, Vick gave an interview to an Atlanta radio station thanking the fans who have been supporting him throughout this ordeal.
MICHAEL VICK, ATLANTA FALCONS: Good to know that I still have support out there. And that means more to me than anything because without the fans, there really wouldn`t be no Mike Vick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight. First, breaking news. Four infants found dead at the home of a young Maryland mom.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here`s what led police to Freeman`s home. This was early Thursday morning, in the 4:00 o`clock AM hour. She went to a hospital complaining of cramping and bleeding. When medical staff examined her, they found a placenta and an attached umbilical cord, but no baby. So social service got involved. Police got involved.
They got a warrant and went to her house on Thursday night. And that night, they found in her bathroom a dead pre-term infant who was wrapped in a blanket. They continued their search in her bedroom, and they found in a trunk a garbage bag. In this garbage bag, they found three smaller bags. Two of those bags held remains of the second and third pre-term infants that police found. And the third bag contained what investigators believe is a placenta.
Then on Friday morning, police got a search warrant for a motor home on Freeman`s property, and that is where they found the fourth body of a pre-term infant, also wrapped in a garbage bag.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Bodies of infants turning up from buried out in the front yard to under the kitchen sink.
Let`s go straight out to CNN correspondent Kathleen Koch joining us there in Ocean City. Welcome, Kathleen. Tell us what happened.
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously, you heard Brianna Keilar there, one of our reporters working the story along with me today, reciting much of what happened.
What you see behind me right now is a police command post. And Ms. Freeman -- Christy Freeman`s home is just behind me, as well. Basically, police have been here all weekend and all day today, searching the grounds of this home at 209 Sunset Drive in Ocean City, basically, looking for more bodies.
It was on Thursday morning, again, when this 37-year-old mother of four, the owner of a taxi company here in Ocean City, Maryland -- - that her family called paramedics to her home. She, again, was vomiting, was bleeding profusely. She was taken to the hospital. And as doctors examined her, all the time, she was saying, I`m not pregnant. I`m not pregnant. But again, as Brianna reported, doctors did, indeed, found out she was pregnant.
And when police questioned Ms. Freeman, she finally did relent. She said yes, she actually had been pregnant, but she had delivered a pre-term baby. And she said it was deformed. According to the charging papers, Nancy, she referred to the baby as gloopity-glop and she said it didn`t have any hands. It didn`t have any feet. She said she pushed on the infant, the umbilical cord snapped, and she just flushed it down the toilet.
But obviously, we know that`s not what actually happened to the baby. When police came here to this home in Ocean City with a search warrant, they found the first baby wrapped in a blue and white towel underneath the bathroom sink. They found the bodies, the bones, the actual remains of two other pre-term babies in a trunk in Ms. Freeman`s room. Then on Friday, they got a search warrant to search a recreational vehicle, a Winnebago, basically, that was in her driveway. And then found the body of this fourth infant.
So they`re doing all these tests right now to find out how these babies died and if Ms. Freeman was responsible in any way -- Nancy.
GRACE: Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Maryland, police, in a resort town, Ocean City, Maryland, have discovered three more bodies at the home of a woman already accused of killing her newborn. Investigators have been searching the woman`s home since last week. A hospital reported it was treating a 37- year-old woman who had just given birth, but there was no sign of an infant. The child`s body was found at the home, along with other tiny bodies, none of them full-term.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A Maryland judge has denied bond for a mother charged with killing her baby. Officers found two infant bodies in Christy Freeman`s Ocean City house and another one in a motor home. Police say none of the bodies appear to be full-term. The tests are being conducted to see if any of them were related to Freeman.
Here`s the thing. Authorities were alerted to her last weekend when she was hospitalized. Police determined she`d been pregnant but couldn`t account for the baby. They searched her home Thursday night and found an infant`s body wrapped in a blanket. She`s only been charged with the one death for now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Out to the lines. Katie in Maryland. Hi, Katie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. How are you?
GRACE: I`m good, dear.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good. OK, here`s my question. I understand earlier that -- from what she said, that the babies were stillborn. How could she be charged with murder? Couldn`t she just be charged with illegally disposing of bodies?
GRACE: You`re absolutely correct, Katie. There are conflicting reports as to whether all the children are stillborn. Are they newborn? What kept happening? How many fetuses do they expect to find? Are there more?
Let`s go out to Beth Ward, reporter with "The Daily Times," joining us there from Ocean City, as well. Beth, in some AP wires, it`s started a newborn. In other wires, it`s stated stillborn. So what`s the answer, or do we know yet, Beth?
BETH WAR, "DAILY TIMES": A preliminary medical examiner`s report was released this afternoon, stating that the most recent fetus was about 26 weeks into pregnancy and was stillborn. However, they`re still investigating the cause of death.
GRACE: So they`re saying 26 weeks in, plus stillborn. The baby was not born alive?
WARD: Right. That`s according to the reports at this point.
GRACE: Let`s go out to Dr. Marc Siegel, internist and author. Dr. Siegel, how do they determine by finding a body whether the child was stillborn or a newborn? I mean, it`s a very different matter if it is stillborn versus alive and then she murders it.
DR. MARC SIEGEL, INTERNIST: Absolutely, Nancy. You know, sometimes they can tell the difference. But the first thing they do is look for whether there`s air in the lungs and fluid in the GI tract because when a baby is born, the first thing it does is gulp in a lot of air and swallow a lot of fluid into the stomach. Then they can tell also whether the baby has been strangled. They`ll look for external signs that maybe something like strangulation occurs. So there`s a lot of things that forensics can do. And of course, a baby can be saved at 26 weeks going forward.
SIEGEL: Well, at this point, at 26 weeks, you know, the baby wouldn`t be viable on its own, but it could be hooked to a respirator. Its lungs could be supported, and with 24-hour monitoring, intensive care unit, it probably could live.
GRACE: How soon can the baby be viable?
SIEGEL: At least 25 weeks going forward. It won`t -- until it`s about 32, 33 weeks, it won`t be able to live on its own without support. But we`re getting better and better...
GRACE: Doctor, I`m sorry. I couldn`t hear you. What is the time period? How many weeks does a baby have to be in womb before it is viable outside the womb without being hooked up to -- how soon can it live, at 26 or 28 weeks?
SIEGEL: At about 26 weeks, it would have to be hooked up to devices. At about 28 or 29 weeks, it could live on its own.
GRACE: Out to the lines. Kim in Indiana. Hi, Kim.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. How are you, Nancy?
GRACE: I`m good, dear. What`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was wondering if they checked this lady for the RU-486 drug to see if she has been taking that to cause all the miscarriages that she`s had.
GRACE: Excellent question. Let`s go out to Chief Bernadette DiPino joining us. She is the chief of police there in Ocean City. Chief, thank you for being with us. Was her blood taken? Did she give a blood sample at the hospital?
CHIEF BERNADETTE DIPINO, OCEAN CITY POLICE: We`re in the preliminary steps of this investigation, and there`s a lot of information, evidence I really can`t discuss at this point. But we`ll be doing everything we can to be able to bring the facts forward and the evidence forward to proceed in this case.
GRACE: Chief Beverly (SIC) DiPino is with us. She is the chief of police there in Ocean City. Chief, how did investigators discover the four infant bodies?
DIPINO: Well, after we got the call from the Department of Social Services, being told that Ms. Freeman had given birth to a child but the child was missing, we responded to the location. We conducted a search of the area, and we obtained a search warrant for the home. While we were searching the home, we actually found the children that were in the trunk, the bags first. It was three bags. There were remains of two children in two separate bags, and then a third bag which had a -- which we later learned was the placenta. And then as the search further was conducted by the investigators, they found the child that had just been delivered underneath the sink, wrapped in a blanket, and the child was dead at that point.
GRACE: Chief DiPino, how far apart were the infants? I mean, how many months apart were their deaths, or do we even know that?
DIPINO: Well, at this point, we don`t know the exact time of the other three infants that were found because we`re waiting for the forensics and the medical examiner to help us. We also have been in contact with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and they have resources which we are going to use to try to determine the age of the children that we found.
GRACE: Back to Dr. Marc Siegel, internist and author. How can you look at a deceased fetus and tell the age of the fetus, therefore, by backtracking, determine how much time was between each fetus?
SIEGEL: Absolutely. Very important question, Nancy. First you look at the bones to see how much they`ve grown in a case where there`s a lot of deformity. But you also can look at the heart. The chamber sizes and the brain develops in a very certain specific pattern that they can look at to determine the exact age of the infant.
GRACE: OK. I don`t necessarily mean the gestational age, like how many months or weeks was it. I mean, did she have one baby, bury it, have another baby 10 months later, bury it, or was it three years later? Was it one year -- I mean, how can you tell that, or can you tell that?
SIEGEL: Well, you can tell the gestational age, as I said. But then you can tell by how much the body has decomposed exactly how long it`s been dead. So you put those two facts together and you can make a pretty good estimate of this.
GRACE: Out to the lines. Nancy in Georgia. Hi, Nancy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. How are you?
GRACE: I`m good, dear. What`s your question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is, didn`t this lady have any family or friends or the dads of the babies not know anything?
GRACE: Excellent question. Back out to Kathleen Koch, CNN correspondent. How could the father not know what was going on? Is he being charged? Is he being questioned? She is.
KOCH: At this point, what the police have told us is that they`re not ruling anyone out. But this woman, Cynthia (ph) Freeman, lived in this home behind me with her boyfriend, Ray Godman (ph). Now, at this point, he has told police, apparently, that he did not know she was pregnant, had no idea. When I saw her, Ms. Freeman, in court today, when she was there for her bond hearing, she is a short, stocky, a heavyset woman, a kind of woman who you might not actually be able to notice that she was pregnant. One of those people you wouldn`t want to ask them. Maybe they`ve just put on some weight lately.
But again, Godman apparently has told authorities he didn`t realize she was pregnant. They were living in this home behind me with their four other children. Neighbors report they range in age from about 15 to somewhere around 5 or 6. And all the neighbors say, Nancy, that she was a wonderful mother, very kind woman, very good woman, talked about her children all the time.
As a matter of fact, she ran this Classic Cab Company, and on their Web site, she talks about her relationship with her children and with Mr. Godman. She says, "My hobbies are our four children. We enjoy NASCAR races and the ocean. As a family, we fish, boat and camp together."
So it`s very puzzling, though, and a really difficult question to answer as to why, again, if she was pregnant, that no one really knew.
GRACE: Back to Beth Ward with "The Daily Times." Beth, if these are four miscarriages -- let`s give her the benefit of the doubt -- what`s she charged with?
WARD: Well, the charges right now are only for the first fetus, the most recent delivery. And under new Maryland law that was adopted in 2005, any accident or an accident that results in the death of an infant can result in prosecution and...
GRACE: Wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wa-wait. The death of an infant. How old does the infant have to be? I mean, what if it`s in the first three months?
WARD: That`s something that authorities will probably be taking into account when they move forward with this.
GRACE: OK. There is a 2005 law just enacted. I don`t know if all of these infants would fall under that law.
Let`s unleash the lawyers, Doug Burns, Sandy Schiff is with us tonight. To Doug Burns. Doug, if these are all four -- Sandy, are you with me? If these are all four miscarriages, then what`s the charge?
DOUG BURNS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, you`re absolutely right. If they`re miscarriages, that`s one thing. Under the fetal homicide statute, however, if you intentionally kill -- and it`s a question of fact. If you intentionally kill a fetus that can be viable outside the womb -- and you hit it right on the head with your whole discussion earlier. And that`s why this is a close case in terms of the 26 weeks. But if you kill a fetus that`s viable outside the womb, at that point, that can be a homicide. But I think this case is going to be a difficult one, probably.
GRACE: Twenty-six weeks. Sandy Schiff joining us, New York attorney, as well -- both of them defense attorneys. Sandy, OK, I`m trying to see what the state really has in this case. Dr. Siegel has just said the baby may not be viable at 26 weeks. All right. Then what`s the charge?
SANDY SCHIFF, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The charge depends upon whether or not the child was 26 weeks. We don`t know the actual age of the fetus. We don`t know whether or not it was viable outside the womb. We don`t know the cause of death, and we don`t know what the IME is going to find.
GRACE: OK. Question. Hold on. Out to the lines. Terry in West Virginia. Hi, Terry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. How`re you doing?
GRACE: I`m good, dear. What`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congratulations first.
GRACE: Thank you. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was just wondering, was this woman seeing an OB/GYN? Did the doctor not know that she was pregnant with all these babies? I mean, was there -- did they question him at all?
GRACE: Good question. Beth Ward, did she have an OB/GYN? Was she under a doctor`s care? It seems like all this was done in secret, and there`s not a law against keeping a pregnancy secret.
WARD: I`m sure that that`s something that police are looking into. Like Chief DiPina says, that there`s a lot of things in the investigation that they haven`t revealed at this point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Department of Social Services called the Ocean City Police Department and reported this information to us. We began a search for the baby. We conducted a search warrant on the residence of 209 Sunset Drive. When we were doing our search, we discovered several things. We discovered a small infant that was wrapped in a blanket underneath of the sink in the bathroom. The child was deceased.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Four infants in all turning up on the property. And Tonight, the four living children tonight have been taken from the home and are in state custody.
Back to Chief Bernadette DiPino, chief of police there. Chief, I`ve been reading the statute there in Maryland, and it clearly states that this statute does not apply to the pregnant woman herself in regard to her own fetus. It seems to apply to other people, like if someone punches the lady or there`s a car crash or an intentional action to make her miscarriage. So how is she charged?
DIPINO: Well, the state`s attorney, Joel Todd (ph), is the one that directed us on the appropriate charges in this case. And there is some case law that will -- not the exact same circumstances, but will help us with our prosecution of this case, the state`s attorney and we believe.
GRACE: OK. In those cases, how are they similar to this case?
DIPINO: There`s a case where a mother was pregnant and ingested crack cocaine, and they were able to prosecute for reckless endangerment in that case. But again, this is very early in the stages and we`ve got a lot of evidence to continue to gather and -- that hasn`t been revealed yet. So again, it`s going to be a tough case for the state, but We`re going to continue on.
GRACE: OK. With me, Chief Bernadette DiPino in Ocean City.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The medical examiner`s office has had the opportunity to examine the initial remains that we found of the child wrapped in a blanket and has determined that the child was 26 weeks old and was stillborn. But it is at this time undetermined exactly the circumstances of the child`s death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Four infants` bodies found on one property. Tonight, the four living children removed from the home.
Out to the lines. Rita from Virginia. Hi, Rita.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: HI.
GRACE: What`s your question, dear?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that you mentioned that there are four children in the home, 15 and down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I was wondering if the oldest one was a female, and if by any chance it could be her babies.
GRACE: Excellent question. Out to Kathleen Koch, CNN correspondent. Is the 15-year-old a girl?
KOCH: No, Nancy. From what neighbors told us, the 15-year-old was a young man. So obviously, it wouldn`t be, you know, applicable in this case, but a very good question from the viewer, very astute.
GRACE: You know, to Andrea Macari, clinical psychologist, there`s nothing against the law in miscarrying, the last time I checked the federal and misdemeanor statutes. However, the problem that I see right off the bat, if I found out that there were four infant bodies buried on a property, I would think something nefarious had happened because why wouldn`t you go to a doctor? It`s just very unusual for her to keep the bodies and the placenta and bury them.
ANDREA MACARI, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Right. Let`s give her the benefit of the doubt and say they were stillborn births.
MACARI: Why would she lie about it? It doesn`t make any sense. It seems to suggest that there`s some type of foul play going on. And we know, usually, in cases like this, that there`s some type of unintended pregnancy that results in this type of problem. And the problem is, is Maryland is a safe haven state, Nancy.
GRACE: Long story short, we don`t know enough about the evidence to support or not supporting these charges.
Everyone, when we come back: NFL superstar multi-millionaire quarterback Michael Vick indicted by a secret federal grand jury, allegations of hanging, shooting, body slamming, electrocuting dogs to death. The latest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick`s defense has a new challenge. One of Vick`s codefendants has pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting charges. Tony Taylor of Hampton, Virginia, was in court today in Richmond to enter pleas on two conspiracy charges. The indictment that named Vick, Taylor and two others alleges that Taylor found the property that Vick bought and used as a site for a dogfighting enterprise. It also said Taylor helped purchase pit bulls and killed at least two that didn`t do well in test fights. Vick and the other two codefendants pleaded not guilty to the charges last week. Vick has vocal defenders. This morning, the Atlanta branch of the NAACP said the NFL has acted too quickly in penalizing Michael Vick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Penalizing Vick? It`s my understanding that he is simply not playing right now, still getting that big, fat paycheck. Am I wrong, Sandra Golden? Sandra joining us with sports talk radio host at 790 AM "The Zone." Isn`t he still getting paid?
SANDRA GOLDEN, 790 AM "THE ZONE": He`s still getting paid, just told to stay away from camp. Meanwhile, in that Richmond courtroom this morning, Tony Taylor, one of three codefendants in the Vick dogfighting ring, pleaded guilty to all charges, in hopes of getting a lighter sentence if he just tells them what he knows. It lasted under 15 minutes this morning. He said very little.
But what the federal prosecutors did, Nancy, they revealed much more about their case in a 13-page summary of facts, which I have in my hand. Michael Vick`s name listed 27 times, an additional timeline. You can`t believe the details, most notably that Michael Vick was solely the exclusive financial backer of both the dogfighting ring and the gambling that surrounded it. Tony Taylor will be sentenced December the 14th. That`s two and a half weeks after the trial begins for the other three.
GRACE: So, Vick, according to this new federal document, is the sole bankroller of this operation?
GOLDEN: That`s right. They list him as almost the 100 percent financial backer. They go back to when they decided that Bad Newz Kennels should become a business, that these four gentlemen, in beginning in 2001, Tony Taylor was told, "Go find us a property." That was May of 2001. He found the house at 1915 Moonlight Drive. He called Vick and the two others. They purchased the property in June of 2001. From there, details of what dogs were bought where, who, what, where, when and how, before 2001 was over, Nancy, they had 22 pit bulls in their possession.
GRACE: Out to Julian Walker with the "Richmond Times Dispatch" in court today, Julian, thank you for being with us. This is a major development in the case against Vick. So far in that federal indictment, we only know of four super-secret witnesses whose identity has not been revealed. Now we`ve got a name, this guy, known as T, Tony Taylor. So what was his alleged role in this? If Vick was the bankroller, what was he?
JULIAN WALKER, REPORTER: According to court records, he was one of the individuals who assisted in purchasing dogs and assisted in lining up fights. As the correspondent also said, he was one of the people, one of the primary people, according to court records, who actually found the property where these alleged activities occurred.
GRACE: Who, allegedly, killed the dogs, Julian? Who did the electrocuting, the hanging, the body slamming, the shooting of the dogs? Who had the gun in their hand and pulled the trigger, do we know?
WALKER: Well, it`s interesting. According to the court records, the three codefendants are all named as those who were involved in killing the dogs that performed poorly in test fights. Also of note is that Michael Vick`s name, while it is mentioned many, many times in the court documents, it does not specifically say that he had any role in actually executing the dogs, although it does suggest that he was aware that the execution or killing of the dogs was occurring.
GRACE: In fact, in paragraph number 17, it says summer 2002, Taylor executed at least two dogs that did not perform well at 1915 Moonlight Road by shooting one, electrocuting the other. Correct me if I`m wrong, Sandra Golden, but isn`t it also alleged in the federal documents that Vick okayed the executions?
GOLDEN: Yes, the original indictment that was 18 pages long said that he was there and witnessed some of it, but he didn`t actually have the gun in hand or the rope that hanged these dogs. It is true, articles 13, 14, 15, and 16 in today`s document, list Peace, Phillips and Taylor, which are the three codefendants, and actual murderers of the dogs.
GRACE: OK, I can see where this is going, Sandy Schiff, Doug Burns. Let`s unleash the lawyers again. To you, Sandy Schiff. The defense can argue, "I didn`t pull the trigger. I didn`t electrocute him." And the state will argue, Sandy, well, you`re like the godfather telling everybody else what to do. You`re just as bad as the rest of them.
SANDRA RUTH SCHIFF, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That`s correct. But then again, the defense lawyers` job is to make that state push the evidence and prove it. And where is the evidence coming from?
GRACE: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. I want to see Sandy Schiff`s face. How can you say that in light of Fudge and Oreo?
GRACE: Her dogs. Her dogs.
SCHIFF: They`ll be the first one to put them in the electric chair, but that`s not the point. The point is, my personal belief system, my love for dogs has nothing to do with proving a case where somebody is charged with a crime under the law. And you have to prove the elements of the crime.
GRACE: OK. I want to go back to Julian Walker with the "Richmond Times Dispatch." Long story short, we`ve got a witness now, Tony Taylor. In court, he agrees to cooperate fully. That means testify. He waves his right to appeal, he pleads guilty on the record, I assume under oath. What can he really tell us? Now we have a witness out there and the defense can prepare their attack on him ahead of time. How valuable is Tony Taylor, aka T?
WALKER: Well, he would certainly seem to go a long way to helping federal prosecutors prove their case, because, according to the court documents, he does have inside knowledge about this alleged operation, Bad Newz Kennels. He was one of the prime players in this alleged dogfighting ring. Again, that is according to court documents.
GRACE: You know, out to Mike Brooks, former fed with the FBI, former D.C. cop, Mike, they`re all going to start falling now. You know it`s the same, old story. You get one witness, you get one to fall, they all start falling like dominos.
MIKE BROOKS, FORMER D.C. POLICE: They start falling like dominos, absolutely, Nancy. You get one to go ahead and flip, and they`ve done a good job in this. They`re going to sit down. They`re going to debrief this person. They`re going to get more names. They`re going to put together a time line, more names, places.
And, you know, who`s to say, Nancy, by the end of August there was supposed to be another indictment coming out with possibly additional names, additional charges. And don`t count out the fact that Bad Newz Kennels could be -- could be, because of the gambling predicate, charged with a RICO violation, which is racketeering, influence, corrupt organization. That is a heavy hit.
GRACE: Listen, people, when you say RICO, if you RICO, run. Go hide under the bed. Typically used, it`s a racketeering charge, which means the feds can seize every penny you`ve got, if it was even tainted or loosely associated with the illegal activity. To you, Doug Burns, this is one of your specialties.
DOUG BURNS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right.
GRACE: We know that there will be a superseding or additional federal indictment. What do you expect? And how will RICO fit in?
BURNS: I think Mike makes a very good point. I mean, first of all, I think they squeezed the first guy by threatening a superseding or as he just said, additional indictment.
GRACE: That is not a threat. That`s a promise.
BURNS: No, but I`m just saying.
GRACE: There`s nothing wrong with another indictment. It`s not a threat.
BURNS: I`m not saying there`s anything wrong with it. I did it for nine years. But be that as it may, the reality is they got him on board quickly, as Michael pointed out. And now what they`re going to do is probably -- what word did you use -- suggest that they`re going to make it a criminal racketeering enterprise and go from there. And he`s right. It`s all going to fall into place.
GRACE: So is it true, Sandra Golden, is there going to be another federal indictment, yes, no?
GOLDEN: I believe it is, yes. And sources say in Virginia that Tony Taylor was made aware of what`s involved in the coming out party in August, and that might have made this decision for him very easy.
GRACE: Out to Ed in Texas. Hi, Ed.
CALLER: Hi, Nancy. Loved you on "The View" today.
GRACE: Thank you. Thank you very much. All those ladies were so glamorous. What`s your question?
CALLER: My question is, is I understand that Michael Vick is a celebrity, but why would a plea bargain be offered to Mr. Taylor versus something to Mr. Vick?
GRACE: Oh, I can tell you that one. I don`t have to go to the experts on that, because they`ve got more on Taylor would be my guess and they need or want a witness on Vick. That would be my guess. You look at your codefendants. My theory would be, if you don`t need anybody, don`t take a plea on anybody. Take them all to trial. Let them all go down together.
But if the feds think they need another witness, they`ll take one, turn him over. But I see your point as to, why are they going after the celebrity versus the non-celebrity? I want to ask someone that very same question. Out to Daphna Nachminovitch, director of the domestic animal department of PETA, Daphna, thank you for being with us. It`s a pleasure to have you on.
What do you think about them taking a plea, which would be obviously a lesser sentence on one guy who`s a non-celeb, versus Vick?
DAPHNA NACHMINOVITCH, PETA: I think it`s pretty typical in cases like this. Celebrity does come with a price, and Michael Vick is a celebrity. He is expected to serve as a role model to our youth and to other people, and his involvement in this is outrageous. And this is why I think it`s important that the feds are taking it seriously.
GRACE: Well, also, Daphna, if it hadn`t been for his money, this operation would never have existed, according to the feds.
NACHMINOVITCH: Absolutely. And the 18-page indictment, which mentions him 51 times, makes very clear that he was in on the action. Whether or not he was there in person, he was certainly there in spirit, according to the allegations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Atlanta Falcons` quarterback Michael Vick`s defense has a new challenge today. One of Vick`s codefendants has pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting charges. Tony Taylor of Hampton, Virginia, was in court in Richmond this morning to enter pleas to two conspiracy charges.
The indictment that named Vick, Taylor and two others alleged that Taylor found the property Vick bought and used as a site for a dogfighting enterprise. It also said Taylor helped purchase pit bulls and killed two that didn`t do well in test fights. Vick and the two other codefendants pleaded not guilty to the charges last week.
Vick has defenders, though. Yesterday, fans rallied across the street from the Georgia Dome in a show of support for the quarterback.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: A major blow to the defense of NFL star Michael Vick. Vick charged with basically leading an underground dogfighting operation, dogfights to the death, an operation that allegedly scanned the Eastern seaboard.
Straight out to the lines, Carol in California. Hi, Carol.
CALLER: Hi, Nancy. Love you. Love your show.
GRACE: Thank you for watching.
CALLER: Oh, you`re welcome. My question is, because dogfighting is such a gory and gruesome sport, so to say, is there a certain personality profile that goes with participating in this? And I was wondering, how can Mr. Vick, for instance, be a football hero by day and then allegedly do this sort of thing with his weekends?
GRACE: You know, you`re just talking to a trial lawyer, which is mostly our panel, trial lawyers and reporters. We have an expert, Dr. Andrea Macari. What about it, Andrea?
ANDREA MACARI, INSTRUCTOR OF PSYCHOLOGY: Those are great questions, Carol. Number one, a lot of people are throwing around this term that he`s a sociopath because lots of your viewers are savvy and they know that animal cruelty often is a predictor of later sociopathic behavior. But this does not apply in this situation, and I will tell you why.
Because dogfighting is a $500 million industry, on some level it is sanctioned by society, the underground part of society, but no less it is sanctioned. So I would not say that this would be disorder sociopathic quality that Vick has. Now, how can he have these dual personalities? Well, every human being is multifaceted. We do good things, and we do bad things. It`s just the way human nature is.
GRACE: Andrea, look, that was a total cop out.
MACARI: No, it wasn`t, Nancy.
GRACE: Yes. People have good and bad to them, but to stand by and not just watch, but orchestrate a dog`s execution, an innocent dog being doused with water and electrocuted, seeing a dog hang -- you know what? I want to go to Bobby J. Brown, director of a documentary called "Off the Chain." He actually infiltrated dogfighting rings.
What, Bobby, is one of the most violent things you observed when you infiltrated this dogfighting chain?
BOBBY J. BROWN, DIRECTOR, "OFF THE CHAIN": Oh, there`s a number of things I encountered. I think the worst thing that I`ve seen was a dog that had a photograph of a dog that didn`t have a muzzle. And they kept the dog on the yard because that dog was game, so to speak. They wanted to breed that dog, because the dog would not quit fighting, because the dog, even though it lost its muzzle in the fight, the dog would not quit, and the people wanted puppies off of that dog. If it would fight without a face, then this dog was a great dog to breed.
GRACE: You mean, the dog -- when you say muzzle, a lot of people think of a cloth or leather thing you put over the face. When you say he lost his muzzle, what do you mean?
BROWN: The muzzle, the whole complete nose. The whole nose was gone. The dog just had a bottom jaw, and the dog was kept for breeding purposes.
GRACE: OK. Clinical psychologist Dr. Andrea Macari, you say everybody can do something wrong?
MACARI: Nancy, you`re engaging in an irrational belief. It`s called all or nothing thinking, that people are either all good or all bad.
GRACE: I don`t think that.
MACARI: You are, Nancy.
GRACE: No, I don`t. I know I`m bad, all right? But I would not...
MACARI: You`re not bad. You do bad things.
GRACE: But I would not stand by and let an innocent dog be executed. That`s way off -- that is not bad. That`s beyond bad. God!
MACARI: But, Nancy, her question is, how can he be this great player on the field and then do this horrible thing? That`s what happens in human nature. Doctors, lawyers, we do great, exceed, excel in one area of our life, and then we fail miserably in another.
GRACE: OK, you call it failing. Daphna, what do you call it?
NACHMINOVITCH: Anybody who is capable of watching two dogs rip each other to shreds, the blood flying, the dogs are covered in saliva, they`re in terrible pain, they`re left to suffer infections, broken limbs, and these people were bringing children to these dogfights. I think it`s important to note that anyone who is capable of doing that shows a callous disregard for any being and that there`s no reason not to think that they can`t, quote, unquote, "graduate" to harming a fellow man. It`s not just the executions, the electrocution, the dragging, the hanging, the slamming to the ground. It`s standing around and cheering on as two dogs are pitted against each other.
GRACE: You left out the rape stand, where female dogs that don`t want to breed are raped, essentially. What you`re seeing right now, everyone, highly disturbing video of a dogfight.
I want to go to a defender, of sorts, of Michael Vick, I want to hear that side, too. Chuck Smith is with us tonight. He is a former Atlanta Falcon. He`s an NFL great, an all-pro. He`s an NFL analyst. You knew Vick, a very laid-back guy off the field. Are you surprised now that it looks like the dominos are starting to fall, already with one codefendant rolling over?
CHUCK SMITH, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Well, you remember years ago on TV, remember the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory? That show, we used to watch back on ABC, remember that?
GRACE: Oh, "Wide, Wide World of Sports."
SMITH: There you go, Nancy. I like how you`re working with me here. I mean, it`s going to be the thrill of victory for one guy, it`s going to be the agony of defeat for another, because you get the bottom line is here, Tony Taylor took the first plea. And usually they say that could be the best one of the deal, so no question about that. He definitely jumped to the front of the line on this one.
GRACE: Out to Jill in Georgia. Hi, Jill.
CALLER: Hi, Nancy.
GRACE: How are you, dear? What`s your question?
CALLER: My question, I just really, really wanted to ask, what is usually the sentence or the norm, you know, that people are sentenced to when they`re actually charged with a crime like this? What is the norm for this?
GRACE: Hey, Mike Brooks, have you ever actually seen a federal indictment on dogfighting conspiracy?
BROOKS: Not on a federal indictment.
GRACE: Me either.
BROOKS: No, Nancy, I haven`t either. And, you know, apparently this one count is five years and $250,000.
GRACE: Oh, yes, let me tell you something, it`s five years on one sort of charge, on conspiracy, and another year on the dogfighting. I`ll be right back on that.
GRACE: A blow to the defense of Michael Vick today. I want to go out to Mike Brooks. How bad is this for Vick, that one of the codefendants is turning over?
BROOKS: I`ll tell you what, Nancy, I was talking to a high-ranking Justice Department official, and it`s bad. But you know what else I find very interesting here? Who have we not heard or seen the name of anywhere, his cousin, Davon Boddie, who was the one who was arrested on April 24th in Hampton, Virginia? And that`s what led them to this house. We haven`t seen his name anywhere. Is he one of the cooperating witnesses? Sure sounds like it to me, Nancy.
GRACE: You know, that`s very insightful, this case developing every single day. For now, Vick on the sidelines.
Let`s stop to remember Marine Corporal Christopher Scherer, just 21, East Northport, New York, killed, Iraq. On a first tour, enlisting at 17, his dream, to become a Marine. An Eagle scout, loved lacrosse, Bon Jovi, making family laugh. A poem he wrote says, "If ever I go to war, my friends will never be apart. And though we may not meet again, I`ll hold you in my heart." Leaves behind parents Janet, Tim, twin sisters, Megan, Katie, big brother, Tim. Christopher Scherer, American hero.
Tonight, I want to say a very special hello, out to a very good friend of the show, and happy birthday to Janice. Happy birthday. And a special thank you from the heart to the doctors, nurses and staff, especially Tandra Barnes (ph) and the stress lab, at the medical center in Macon, Georgia, for the loving care of our show`s number-one fan, my mother. I`m deeply grateful. Until tomorrow night, good night, friend.