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NANCY GRACE

Britney Reported Headed to Rehab Again

Aired October 3, 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, superstar Britney Spears`s alleged string of wild and erratic behavior -- did it cost her custody of her two toddler boys? That`s right, just 48 hours ago, music icon Britney Spears loses custody. And within the last hour, both sides have squared off in court. What happened in court today, and why? Stunning reports that on the day the ruling comes down taking her sons away, was Spears back out on the party scene? Are Spears`s children really in danger, or is it all hype, with Spears`s ex raking in alimony at $20,000 a month? That said to be cut off in just 30 days. At the heart of this legal battle, two little boys.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: D-Day has arrived for Britney Spears in her custody battle with ex-husband Kevin Federline, legal eagles waiting to see the latest move Spears will make after being ordered to give up temporary custody of sons Sean Preston and Jayden James Monday. Late this afternoon, K-Fed showing up to court sporting a shaved head and an eyepatch. Despite prying eyes of the media, Spears nowhere to be seen entering court. The hearing got under way with Federline being sworn in. According to sources in the courtroom, that`s when attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan filed a motion for the hearing to be closed to the public.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: And tonight: Cleveland 911 answers a frantic call to find ages 4 and 2-year-old little sisters floating in the family tub. Prime suspect, their own mother. Police reveal the 22-year-old mom drowned the girls in the tub, then telephones Dad to say the girls are resting at peace. At the time of the drowning, she`s showing zero emotion when taken away in cuffs, but today, in court with the cameras rolling, she breaks down, the judge setting a multi-million-dollar bond and sending mom to county jail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bond is set at $2 million for the Ohio mother accused of drowning her daughters in a bathtub. Twenty-two-year-old Amber Hill bowed her head and wept during her first court appearance today. On Monday, police say, Hill called the girls` father and told him the children, age 2 and 4, quote, "are at peace." He later found his daughters in the bathtub.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The victims in this crime are the ages of 4 and 2 years old. What is seemingly more egregious and heart-rending with regard to this matter is that the victims are the defendant`s own children by birth. And it is alleged that the defendant did, in fact, drown these two babies in the bathtub in their own home at her own hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us. First, superstar Britney Spears loses custody of her toddler sons. And today, in the last hour, both sides squaring off in court.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Britney Spears lost physical custody of her two children on Monday. This came as a direct result of a judge`s order because Spears at that time failed to provide proof that she had a California driver`s license. Now, fast forward to today. She apparently went into Van Nuys, California, department of motor vehicles, and did follow the proper process of -- for obtaining that driver`s license. So that`s a step in the right direction. And we`re told by her attorney that that`s really one of the reasons that the judge decided to pull -- to yank that physical custody status. It`s only temporary until further order from the court.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the order from the Los Angeles County court granting Spears`s ex-husband, Kevin Federline, physical custody of 2- year-old Sean and 1-year-old Jayden. In the end, it wasn`t really about Spears anymore, it was about them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kevin wants to maintain the custody that he has as long as he can until he believes that some other order would be justified and favorable to his children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She definitely will be having visitation with the kids and that will be soon. There will be monitored visitation by Ms. Spears on a schedule agreed upon by counsel between now and October 26.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: We have just received sound from a presser that went down outside the courthouse, both sides squaring off in court today, Kevin Federline in court, Britney no show.

Out to Kareen Wynter, CNN correspondent at the courthouse today. What happened today in court?

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Nancy. Well, you know, it`s really ironic, but can you believe this is happening, Kevin Federline a shining example here of parenthood? We heard from his attorney after that court proceeding. It lasted about two hours and 45 minutes, Nancy. And he basically said that it was important for Kevin to show up today because this was, quote, "the first day of custody" for him as a result of that order from Monday.

What happened in court today? Well, it was a closed-door proceeding, the attorney also providing some details, Nancy, that there was a lot of evidence presented from both sides. And you know, quite frankly, that`s why it took so long. He also went on to say that they are very happy, that today`s ruling was justified regarding the order handed down, and that the kids are in good condition, Nancy.

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. I love your show. I`m a big fan.

GRACE: Thank you, dear. What do you think about Britney and Kevin Federline and this custody dispute?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I saw it coming, and I truly believe that she had no intention of being a good mother. I thought the whole thing of her having the children was kind of a backlash to Shar.

GRACE: Got a question. Do you really think Kevin Federline is a better dad?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he has more experience, we`ll just put it that way.

(LAUGHTER)

GRACE: You`re seeing video from X17online.com (ph). Now, this is, I guess, a nanny with the two boys after they were handed over to Kevin Federline. All that went down on Monday. Both sides back in court today.

Back to Kareen Wynter, CNN correspondent at the courthouse today. Now, typically, in a case like this, somebody can sit in court and hear what`s happening. Did one of the lawyers make a move for closed doors and everybody had to leave the courtroom?

WYNTER: Absolutely. You got it, Nancy. We had our supervising producer, Jennifer (INAUDIBLE), in there just monitoring everything that was going on. And here`s what went down. There was members of the media allowed to go in, and they saw Kevin Federline file in with his attorney, didn`t really say much at first. And then his attorney filed that motion to have the media kicked out, have them removed.

And that`s really been the frustrating process in covering this case, is that not only is it in federal court, Nancy, but a lot of proceedings have been closed, the transcripts sealed. And so it`s been, you know, picking at straws here, trying to get information. But the big thing resulting from this whole case today is that Kevin Federline`s coming out on top, getting primary physical custody of...

GRACE: Who would have thunk it a year ago that Kevin Federline would win out as the better parent? I`m hearing we`re just getting sound in from that presser. This is after the court proceeding today. It`s all about the legalities of child custody. Take a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was argument by both sides, and extensive argument. That`s why it took us three hours to get out here. And you can imagine that the petitioner`s counsel argued strenuously to have the judge withdraw the entirety and the substance of the orders that were made on Monday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is joint physical custody of these two kids, but Mr. Federline has primary custody. There will be monitored visitation by Ms. Spears on a schedule agreed upon by counsel between now and October 26.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: I want to go now to Ruth Hilton, the deputy editor of "OK!" magazine. Welcome, Ruth. Ruth, what was the point of today`s hearing? We just had the judge`s ruling taking away custody, stripping Britney Spears of custody on Monday. So what was today all about?

RUTH HILTON, "OK!": Well, today was all about Britney`s lawyer (INAUDIBLE) trying to reinstate some visitation time for her and for Kevin to say, actually, no, and fight back. So you know, what surprises me, and I`m sure what surprises many people across the country, is that Kevin was there and that Britney didn`t turn up. It seems a very strange move for someone who wants to have her kids back, in all honesty, because, as we all know, this isn`t just a war in court, this is also a PR war. So you know, it`s a very, very strange scenario this afternoon.

GRACE: You`re seeing video from TMZ.com.

Let`s unleash the lawyers. Joining us tonight out of Philadelphia jurisdiction, Joe Lawless, out of Atlanta, trial lawyer Renee Rockwell. I can tell you this right now. And I didn`t have to go to some presentation class to tell me this, to teach me this. When you`re in court, when you have something important going on in court, Renee, your client better be there. In every case I had, I had either the victim, if the victim was alive, or the victim`s family or the victim`s friend, someone representing the victim in court. It was a huge mistake for Spears not to be there.

RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, there`s only three places you need to be if you`re not in court -- in rehab, in the hospital or in the morgue, or in jail somewhere. You`ve got to be in court because if you`re not in court, the judge...

(CROSSTALK)

GRACE: I couldn`t hear the third place. Where is the third place?

ROCKWELL: Rehab, the hospital or the morgue.

GRACE: I was just about to say, the casket is always an alternative to showing up in court. This hurt Spears today, Lawless. There`s no other way to put it. And listen, I know it`s not a legal argument, but for him to care enough to come to court -- I want to know, where was Spears today when he`s in court? And I am definitely not saying that I think Federline is a great parent, but I mean, at least he dragged himself to court today, Joe Lawless.

JOE LAWLESS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Sure. Well, if you`re the petitioner and you`re trying to get the court to reinstate visitation, you want the judge to see it, to decide whether or not the judge thinks you`re a responsible parent acting in the appropriate manner. And to not show up manifests some kind of disrespect for the process.

But I agree with Renee. I think that there`s something going on in Britney Spears`s private life that we`re going to hear about. She may be planning another trip back to rehab, which would not be the worst idea in the world for her.

GRACE: Well, certainly, she didn`t go today during the court hearing. Could she have possibly made a pit stop there at the courthouse?

Back out to Ruth Hilton, deputy editor with "OK!" magazine. You know what? I need to hear an excuse. Lie to me. I don`t care. Tell me the dog ate her homework. Tell me she had a flat tire. Tell me anything why she didn`t care enough to get to that courthouse today.

HILTON: I can tell you exactly where she was this afternoon because we had an "OK!" magazine...

GRACE: Do not say...

HILTON: ... reporter...

GRACE: ... the tanning booth! Do not say the tanning booth!

HILTON: This time, it wasn`t the tanning booth. She drove to her place in Malibu. She picked up a Starbucks. She went to the gas station. She waved at paparazzi. She laughed, she smiled. She had her little puppy, London (ph), on her lap, having a lovely old time. Then she went back to her place in Beverly Hills. That`s where she was when this was all going down in court.

GRACE: You know, Brian Russell -- Dr. Russell -- psychologist and child custody evaluator -- he is joining us tonight -- help me. Help me understand what she was doing sucking down a latte when the most single most important thing in her life was being taken away from her in a court of law.

BRIAN RUSSELL, PSYCHOLOGIST, CHILD CUSTODY EVALUATOR: You know, Nancy, I`m as puzzled as you and my fellow panelists are.

GRACE: Oh, no. No, no. No, no. You`re the expert. I`m just a trial lawyer. You`re supposed to be able to look at this and figure out some kind of a psychological or psychiatric reason why she would rather be pumping gas and sucking a latte than being in court.

RUSSELL: You know, I would think that she would have to have received advice, and I don`t know why her counsel would have given her this advice, but to stay away from this thing today. That`s the only -- that`s the most logical explanation I can come up for you, Nancy, because she does seem like she wants this custody. And so to have not been there and stayed away from it, I would -- I think the most likely explanation is that was on the advice of counsel. Now, why they would have advised that, given that we all are in agreement that it hurt her not to be there, is anybody`s guess. And maybe my fellow panelists have a thought on that.

GRACE: Out to the lines. Cherie in Massachusetts. Cherie, I got to tell you something. I don`t care what my lawyer would tell me or if I was concerned about the paparazzi, the press making fun of me or laughing at me or saying I`m fat or I don`t fit into my costume, like they always say about her. I would let the courthouse fall down around me before I would not show up at a hearing about taking my children away. What`s your question, Cherie?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, Nancy. Love you, love your show. And congrats on your babies.

GRACE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just -- actually, that was my question. Could the lawyer have made arrangements and we just don`t know about it and she actually got permission not to have to be there?

GRACE: Well, it`s my understanding -- let`s go out to Jason Kennedy with E! news. He`s the news reporter at the courthouse today. It`s my understanding that she didn`t have to be in court. Is that correct or incorrect?

JASON KENNEDY, E! NEWS: Exactly right. She did not have to be here. She was not required. One thing Kevin Federline and Mark Vincent Kaplan, his attorney, said was it was important for Kevin to be there. The first time he had full, physical custody of his kids. So it wasn`t necessary for Britney, but that`s going to change this next hearing on October 26. Both Kevin and Britney will be required to be right here at 1:30 PM inside, and maybe things could change.

But if Britney can smile about any of this madness for her that`s been going wrong, is that she can see the kids, but she has to have supervision. They`re still working out some other details right now. She needs to require a few things that the judge is going to make her do in order to see those kids.

GRACE: I find that very, very interesting. Out to Mike Brooks, former fed with the FBI. You`ve seen a million cases of children being mistreated, child custody hearings. And the reality is, in a civil case -- this is a civil case...

MIKE BROOKS, FORMER D.C. POLICE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Right.

GRACE: ... very often, in fact, typically, both sides don`t have to come to court. Their lawyers go in and handle it for them. But this is -- this strikes to the heart of a mother, I would think, that your children are being taken away from you. I would have gone in there with no makeup, my hair pulled back, dressed from -- a black dress from neck it wrist to toe, and beg the judge, holding, waving the Bible, begging to have my children back.

BROOKS: Nancy, she -- she needed...

GRACE: I don`t understand it.

BROOKS: ... to be there. You know, come in, say you found God, say you`re going back to rehab, like everybody else does. But this was -- this was a major -- a major coup for the Federline camp. You know, Kevin, I`m saying, you know, he`s not getting -- he`s not getting custody because he`s father of the year, but it`s because of her decline and her bizarre behavior. But she needed to be there today, Nancy, because that -- I tell you, those judges, as you know -- you`ve been in front of many, like I have -- it means something to them to show that you really care.

GRACE: Well, you know what? You know what, Mike? This whole time, I think it`s six of one and half a dozen of the other. See, we know Britney Spears`s faults because the paparazzi`s always on her. She can`t get away from it. So we know everything that she allegedly does wrong. We don`t know what Federline is doing. We know he`s sponging off Britney. That`s all I do know about him. I do know that he`s hired a nanny that is apparently giving attention to these two children. I can see that with my own two eyes. But we don`t know what`s behind closed doors with Federline. So I can`t pick which one -- this is a toss-up, which one is the best parent.

(LAUGHTER)

GRACE: But I do know this, if you don`t care enough to come to court, that speaks volumes to me.

To Ruth Hilton with "OK!" magazine. Ruth, we just heard that part of the judge`s ruling is the only way Spears can see her children is if the visit is monitored. Do you mean that there is something in those court records that suggests she cannot be alone with her children?

HILTON: Well, I mean, that`s the case they`ve been trying to build up, even with the Tony Barretto stuff, you know, from last week and his campaign over the weekend, you know, the substance testing, all of those things -- you know, she`s supposed to do parenting classes, counseling to do with addictions. I mean, there are a lot of ticks she has to put in that checklist before he`s going to let her back with the kids by herself. It`s -- it`s pretty damning. It really is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Swarmed by the paparazzi in this footage from Hollywood.tv (SIC), we see Britney Spears leaving a Malibu restaurant with her two young children. Less than 24 hours later, the pop princess learned that they would be taken away from her. This is the order from the Los Angeles County court granting Spears`s ex-husband, Kevin Federline, physical custody of 2-year-old Sean and 1-year-old Jayden until further order of the court.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: That video from Hollywood.tv.com. (SIC)

I want to go straight out to the lines. Erica in Tennessee. Hi, Erica.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. How are you?

GRACE: I`m good, dear. What`s your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just wanted to know if she will have to pay him alimony and child support.

GRACE: Oh, honey! Erica, Erica, Erica. See, that`s the fly in the ointment. Is this all about him getting more money? He`s already getting $20,000 a month, Erica, in alimony, or as they say, marital support. That is set to be cut off in November, and now suddenly, there`s all this commotion about getting full custody of the children.

And it`s my understanding -- let`s go to the lawyers, Renee Rockwell, Joe Lawless -- if his custody time is increased, his marital alimony or support, Joe, will likely be increased, as well. Yes, no?

LAWLESS: Yes, it will be increased. But I think, really -- I don`t know if this is as much about money for Federline as it is Britney Spears going into a spiral. From what I`ve seen in the last six or eight months - - and I`m not a Kevin Federline fan -- this kid has stepped up and tried to at least do the job as a father. And if she`s making more money than he is, whether it`s Britney Spears or some woman who`s a lawyer and her husband`s a ditch digger, she`s going to have to pay for the support to support the kids.

GRACE: Renee?

ROCKWELL: Absolutely. And that`s a pretty expensive baby-sitter that she`s got there. She`s lost her kids, and now he`s going to be going to the bank. He doesn`t even have to work now. All he has to do is stay out of the public and not screw up in front of the cameras and he`s going to be fine.

GRACE: Out to Ruth Hilton with "OK! magazine. Ruth, what about reports of rehab?

HILTON: Yes, we heard earlier today that her team seem to be making the progress they need to be getting her into rehab. In "OK!" this week, you can read about how Jamie Lynn (ph) and Brian (ph), her brother and sister, tried to stage an intervention. Now it looks like she may be checking into Crossroads, which, of course, is Eric Clapton`s facility in Antigua. This is a tough plan. This is not your, you know, "Go up the road a few miles out of LA" plan. This is seven days without any phone privileges. This is, like, get down, even, you know, to the point where they force you to stop smoking. So if -- you know, if she does it, it`s going to be a pretty impressive move for her, actually.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY BARRETTO, FORMER SPEARS BODYGUARD: I believe that Britney loves her children, but I was concerned about some of the behavior which I believe endangered them. I hope that because of this new court order, Britney will seek and receive the help that she obviously needs so that one day she could be reunited with her children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: That is fired bodyguard Tony Barretto speaking out against Spears. Who can take him seriously? He`d be shredded on cross-exam. He said this after he was let go. If he was so worried about the kids, why not speak out then, and then spoke to the press, not just the cops?

I want to go to Jason Kennedy with "E!" Jason, Ruth Hilton just said that going to Crossroads is a very impressive move, but isn`t Crossroads the same place she left last time? Hasn`t she been at rehab four times?

KENNEDY: Yes, she checked in and out of a rehab facility here. She went to Crossroads, checked in for something like 24 hours, I believe, in March. Now the question is, how long is she going to stay there, if she actually goes there? Now, that`s a very intensive rehab place, very intense rehab place. She`s supposed to be back here, like I said, on October 26. So those reports have really not been confirmed, really, if she`s going to be going there in the first place. I think that`s something we still need to wait and see if that`s going to happen. But hopefully, she lasts and stays there for a while.

GRACE: To Brad Lamm, addiction specialist. Brad, what do you think of Crossroads?

BRAD LAMM, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: It`s a terrific treatment program. It has a rich history of doing great work for people who are struggling with drugs and alcohol. It`s a non-profit. They`re in it for the right reasons. If she goes there, I think it`s a good start.

GRACE: If she finishes.

LAMM: Well, you have to stay to get the treatment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is joint physical custody of these two kids, but Mr. Federline has primary custody. There will be monitored visitation by Ms. Spears in the schedule agreed upon by counsel between now and October 26th.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The court heard a motion brought by Kevin Federline today to formally extend the orders which the court had made on Monday with respect to custody. And it was a very lengthy hearing, and evidence was presented by both sides. And the court is going to release its order very soon, either later today or perhaps tomorrow, and I, of course, don`t want to say anything that wouldn`t be reflected in the order.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of the other factors in her losing the kids are definitely the fact that she didn`t want to take parenting classes and that she didn`t want to take her drug testing. So everyone believed that Britney is actually going to go forward and do those things and just show that she really wants to have custody of her children. She does have a chance to appeal. Her attorneys are present. She is not present in the courtroom. And depending on what they present before the court, the judge may say that she is fit to have joint custody again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: Man, that`s a day late and a dollar short. Just 48 hours ago, Britney Spears losing the things that should be the most valuable to her, her two little toddler sons. Today, both sides back in court, Federline shows up, Britney Spears a no-show. According to our guest, Ruth Hilton with "OK" magazine, she was filling her car up with gas and drinking a latte, waving at the paparazzi while the hearing was going down about custody of her two children.

We are just getting in reports about the ruling, the actual ruling. Remember, the judge threw out all the press out of the courtroom, as he should have done when juveniles, when minors are at issue. I`m hearing that the judge has placed, quote, "certain specified dates and times when there will be monitored visitation by Spears."

The judge also indicated visitation will be allowed every other day; that`s what we`re hearing about the set-up so far. It will leak out eventually. I want to go to Dr. Marty Mackary. He is a physician and professor of public health at Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Mackary, if she really does have a substance abuse problem, how long will it take her to rehabilitate?

DR. MARTY MACKARY, PHYSICIAN, JOHNS HOPKINS: Well, the quickest we`ve seen people turn around is six weeks, but, remember, the key to any successful rehab is, number one, a willingness or desire to get better and, number two, a complete change in their environment. And celebrities often can`t do these because they`re ordered to go to rehab, and they go right back to the same environment they came from.

GRACE: What does it mean to you, Dr. Brian Russell, that she has been in rehab four times, always leaves early, one time only staying 24 hours?

BRIAN RUSSELL, PSYCHOLOGIST: It means to me that she has not yet grasped the seriousness of her situation. And I think the judge, just like we saw in the Hasselhoff case a few months ago, is trying to send her a message by taking these kids away and saying, look, you need to get in here and prove and explain to me how you`re going it be different around these kids, because I`ve got to look out for them and their best interest. It isn`t about Federline being the father of the year. It`s about -- they both have strengths, they both have weaknesses, and right now her weaknesses are endangering the kids, and she`s got to appreciate the seriousness of that before she`s going to go to one of those programs and stay, like the other guest said, really take it seriously, and really be able to turn her around.

GRACE: You know what, Brian? At the very beginning, the allegations that were leveled against her were things like she lets the kids drink Coke. She lets them eat junk food. I remember seeing my little nephew, who is totally orange, orange from here down from Cheetos, all right? And he couldn`t have more loving parents and more wonderful parents. So, you know, the kid gets some junk food or some Coca-Cola, those were actually the claims against her. But her not showing up in court today has really made an impression on me.

Out to the lines, Cara in Florida. Hi, Cara.

CALLER: Hi, Nancy. Love the show.

GRACE: Thank you, dear. Thank you for calling in.

CALLER: My question is, with so much of the custody battle being played out in the media, does the California courts have a program like the casa program or the guardian ad litem program, where there`s somebody assigned just to speak for these kids?

GRACE: Yes. Practically everybody that has a juvenile court system has the ability to name a guardian ad litem. That`s simply a lawyer, typically, that works for the court that really doesn`t care about either side. They only represent the children.

To Kareen Wynter, CNN correspondent at the courthouse today, do we know if a guardian ad litem has been appointed in this case?

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We really don`t right now, Nancy. And, again, because so much of this has been under wraps. You had the closed-door proceedings today. But I want to mention one thing. You know, people are talking a lot about Britney Spears and what she needs to do here. You know, we have to cut her somewhat of a break here. You know, she`s a child, basically, a woman now, but she grew up in the media spotlight. Also, we should be asking the question, Nancy, who are the people around her advising her? Where is her mom? Her management company recently dropped her, her divorce attorney. So just to balance it out a bit, there`s tremendous pressure on her to turn things around, but it has to start from the top down.

GRACE: Kareen? Kareen?

WYNTER: Nancy?

GRACE: You are a fantastic reporter, but you are an enabler. You`re saying she`s a child? The two babies are the children. She`s not the child.

WYNTER: They absolutely are. They are. But she grew up in front of the cameras, basically, is what I`m saying.

GRACE: So?

WYNTER: And, you know, the pressure to, you know, perform...

GRACE: OK, you`re scaring me, Kareen. You`re scaring me.

WYNTER: You know, the paparazzi constantly following her, constantly trailing her, and we don`t hear the other voice here, someone saying, what about Britney and the support system? Obviously K-Fed has some help on his end.

GRACE: Kareen, I have been rooting for Britney Spears, because I thought Kevin Federline was a big mooch living off her. I`ve been rooting for her all along, but her not dragging herself to court today to me was a very, very bad move. A, it looks bad. B, it is bad.

Well, wait a minute, to Jason Kennedy, how old is Britney Spears?

JASON KENNEDY, E! ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: She is, I believe, 25, 26 years old.

GRACE: OK, I had in my head she was 26.

KENNEDY: And one of the things you mentioned here -- 25, 26 years old. But the thing is, she`s been thumbing her nose, Nancy, at the system since day one. That`s why this ruling came down on Monday that Kevin`s going to get full physical custody of the kids.

So the judge has had it. Scott Gordon, he is tired of this, and that`s why he made the decision, and that`s why he`s still, as we speak on the air, going over some things to figure out if she should still get to see these children.

GRACE: Brad Lamm joining us, addiction specialist, certified interventionist, Brad, now...

BRAD LAMM, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: Nancy?

GRACE: ... I adore Kareen Wynter, but I`ve got a problem of making excuses for people not showing up at court and thumbing their noses at that judge`s order. She did. And I`m not saying Federline is that great, but I`m saying, for God`s sake, please just come to court. Just show up.

LAMM: I think that even the more important point, Nancy, as you talked about earlier, what happened to her maternal instinct? And when we have a loved one that`s struggling with addiction, that`s one of the first things that goes out the window, you know, maternal instinct that as a mother you think nothing can replace my kids. I love my kids. I would do anything for my kids. When chemicals come in to it, I think it really disrupts the order of things in your life.

GRACE: I don`t expect every mother and father to feel what you feel. I don`t expect that. But when a judge says, "Do one, two and three, or you`re going to lose custody," and you don`t do any of it, and one of them is as simple as getting a license?

Hold out. Out to Asia in Utah. Hi, Asia.

CALLER: Hi, Nancy. My question is, do we know if she suffers from postpartum depression and maybe she`s acting out this way because she, in fact, does not want to be responsible?

GRACE: That is a very interesting question, Asia. And could that explain it, Brian Russell?

RUSSELL: That`s a good question, Asia. But based on the behavior that we`ve seen from this woman over the past year, this does not look like a woman who`s suffering from a serious mood disorder. This to me looks like a substance abuser.

GRACE: Everybody, when we come back, 911 answers a frantic call only to find two little girls floating in the family`s tub. Prime suspect: their own mother, taken away in cuffs in court today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With tears raining from her lashes, Amber Hill faces a judge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The court will set the fine at $1 million per victim, $2 million.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Accused of killing her little girls, 2-year-old Cecess Hill and 4-year-old Jannelle Cintron. Hill, dressed in a paper jumpsuit, accompanied by a chaperone is on suicide watch. She has been described by police as unresponsive and quiet since her arrest Monday, but the pain was evident at her arraignment. The 22-year-old mother listened for the first time out loud in open court for the world to hear what prosecutors say she did to her children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is alleged that the defendant did, in fact, drown these two babies in the bathtub in their own home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRACE: When she was taken away from the apartment in handcuffs by police, she showed zero emotion. Today in court, she broke down crying as the cameras rolled. To Phil Trexler with the "Akron Beacon Journal," why was she in court today? What happened?

PHIL TREXLER, REPORTER: Well, good evening, Nancy. Amber Hill was in court today, of course, for her initial court appearance on the two counts of aggravated murder. She`s accused, of course, of drowning her two daughters on Monday. So she was there for a bond hearing and, of course, the judge set the bond for $2 million. The case will now be likely handed over to a grand jury for a possible indictment, which, of course, could include a potential death penalty specification.

GRACE: Joining us right now is a special guest, the aunt of the defendant. Joining us is Carolyn Hill.

Ms. Hill, thank you for being with us.

CAROLYN HILL, AUNT OF MOTHER SUSPECT OF DROWNING DAUGHTERS: You`re welcome.

GRACE: I know it must kill you to see her in court today. She was wearing black paper jumpsuit, which is worn by people under suicide watch in that jurisdiction. What have you heard? What was her thinking when this happened?

HILL: Well, what happened when she allegedly killed the kids, or when she was in court?

GRACE: When the children were drowned?

HILL: I don`t think she was thinking; she couldn`t have been.

GRACE: What do you think got her to that point, Ms. Hill?

HILL: Her living situation, her boyfriend.

GRACE: Now, am I correct that the judge ordered him to stay away from her in a court order for 18 months, and she chose to move back in with him during that time?

HILL: She didn`t move in with him. She had her own apartment.

GRACE: Was he living there with her?

HILL: No, he wasn`t.

GRACE: I`m glad to hear that.

HILL: He just came there to terrorize her.

GRACE: OK, you know what? That`s news to me. I thought that he was living there with her and the two girls.

HILL: No, he wasn`t living there.

GRACE: OK.

Joining me right now is Bill Mason, also a very special guest joining us. He is the Cuyahoga County prosecutor overseeing this case.

Mr. Mason, thank you for being with us.

BILL MASON, CUYAHOGA COUNTY PROSECUTOR: Good evening, Nancy.

GRACE: Sir, does this go to a grand jury, or is there a preliminary hearing?

MASON: You know, the facts of this case when they`re all gathered will be presented to a grand jury, and then charges will come through the grand jury.

GRACE: Bill, what exactly is aggravated murder in your jurisdiction? How is that different from murder one?

MASON: The definition is purposely killing of another, and it`s that simple. In order to take it farther, which is the potential in this case for a death specification, there`s 12 other criteria that have to be met, and it has to be with prior calculation and design. So we don`t know all the facts yet. The police and investigators are still investigating. When we get them all, we will present them to the grand jury, and they will then bring forth charges.

GRACE: Right. Do you present to the grand jury yourself? Do you follow it all the way through to trial?

MASON: I have 210 assistants. Certain of them do the grand jury, and certain did the hearing today. So there will be many different prosecutors touching this case until it finally gets to the courtroom.

GRACE: And of course, Cleveland, Ohio, is a death penalty jurisdiction. And as the prosecutor just told us, 12 criteria must be met before that decision is even broached.

To Mike Brooks, it`s my understanding we`re getting a different story about cause of death. One of the little girls may have been actually strangled?

MIKE BROOKS, FORMER D.C. POLICE: That`s what we`re hearing, Nancy. Again, this is all part of the investigation. Law enforcement right now is going to try to put together a whole timeline. What happened? When did she snap? What actually brought her to this? What was her motive behind this?

GRACE: Whoa, whoa, did you say "snap"? Let me remind you, Mike, you may have been a fibby with the FBI, but there is no snap under our jurisprudence system, because that would cover -- you can always have a defense, "Oh, I snapped. I snapped." That`s not a defense. Snapping is not a defense.

BROOKS: OK, what was her mental state? Is that better? Is that better for you?

GRACE: A little bit, not a lot, but go ahead.

BROOKS: Whatever. What was her mental state at this time leading up to this? What had happened 24 to 48 hours prior to this to lead her to these actions? These are all the things that law enforcement is trying to put together now, Nancy, as well as going in that apartment. And they did a thorough evidentiary search, looking for any forensics, taking pictures, and these are all things they`re going to review to come up with their case to present before the grand jury.

GRACE: Back out to the aunt of Amber Hill in court today, two charges of aggravated murder, Carolyn Hill is with us. Ms. Hill, have you heard the development that one of the little girls may have actually been strangled?

HILL: That`s just hearsay. I don`t...

GRACE: Hearsay is in court. Hearsay is in court. It is disallowed in a court of law because it cannot be tested on cross-examination. But if this is in a coroner`s report, it is certainly not hearsay at that juncture. And I`m asking, have you heard that report?

HILL: No, I haven`t.

GRACE: You know, joining us Dr. Marty Mackary who is a physician. Our sources are telling us that one of the girls had hemorrhage petechiae in the eye and bruises about the neck. If that is true, I`m going to go along with Carolyn Hill, we don`t know that yet. I haven`t seen the full, entire coroner`s report. If that is true, how does that indicate strangulation?

MACKARY: Well, for one thing, it will conclude that the autopsy is a homicide. All autopsies are broken down as accidental homicide, natural or non-conclusive. It would indicate a severe wrestling or struggle at the end of life, and it certainly sounds like a miserable way to go.

GRACE: Out to the lines. Betty in Indiana, hi, Betty.

CALLER: Hi, Nancy.

GRACE: What`s your question, dear?

CALLER: Congratulations.

GRACE: Thank you.

CALLER: My question is, last night you indicated that she had killed her children because of child abuse and/or domestic abuse. Had there been reports earlier to the police department or anyone -- family, friends -- that there was problems in the home?

GRACE: OK, Betty, part of that is correct. We brought out two instances of known domestic abuse where the biological father of these two children had attacked her, but no one said that that was the reason that these children were killed. But there had been two substantiated cases of domestic abuse against the mother in the home, Betty.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRACE: Let`s go back out to the lines. Joining us, Mindy in Tennessee. Hi, Mindy.

CALLER: Hi, Nancy, congratulations.

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

CALLER: My question, did the mother have a history of any kind of depression or (INAUDIBLE) problems?

GRACE: Mandy, I`ve asked and asked and asked. I`m trying to give the mom a break here. Back to Carolyn Hill, this is Amber Hill`s aunt. Ms. Hill, I asked you last night, you said, no. Did she have any history of mental illness?

HILL: History of it? No. I mean, she`s been depressed quite often, and ever since she`s been in this relationship, so she`s been depressed more than over five years.

GRACE: You know, I want to go out to Renee Rockwell, defense attorney. In a lot of these cases -- remember Andrea Yates` husband had her living in a school bus with five kids. I would assume that would be very depressing. But why take it out on the children? Why not take it out on the husband?

RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You`ve got to ask yourself, did she really want to kill herself and then decide to kill the children? I just don`t -- it`s too early to tell. But...

GRACE: Don`t start that, where I`m going to commit suicide but, no, I`ll kill all my kids instead.

ROCKWELL: Nancy, but you can see a mental defect defense, and I don`t see the death penalty.

GRACE: OK, I`m sure I did not ask you that. Thank you for injecting yourself on that one while the prosecutor`s here.

Let`s stop to remember Army Specialist Keith Nurnberg, 26, McHenry, Illinois, killed, Iraq, on a second tour. An avid Bears` fan, loved the outdoors and fishing, leaving behind parents, Barb and Al, three sisters, grieving widow, new bride Tanya, pregnant with first child, a boy to be named after his dad. Keith Nurnberg, American hero.

Thank you to our guests, but most of all to you. See you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.

END

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