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Baltimore Teacher Beaten by Student in Classroom
Aired April 10, 2008 - 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: A vicious beating, cheered on by an angry, blood-thirsty crowd. No one, not one person, lifted a finger to help the victim. In fact, one of the crowd actually videotaped the attack for fun. Gang violence? Nope. Street crime? Nope. It all went down in an established Baltimore high school, the victim a beloved high school art teacher, the perp a 16-year-old girl student, the video straight to MySpace showing the teacher on the ground, being beaten about the head and face as the students cheer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What starts as a regular day at Reginald F. Lewis High School ends with an art teacher pummeled by her own student, with shoulder and eye injuries. It`s all sparked by a confrontation between teacher Jolita Berry and a girl student, the young girl refusing to listen to Berry, getting in the teacher`s face, then ultimately beating her down on the floor in the middle of art class. Not only was she egged on by her own classmates, but someone videotaped the attack on a cell phone, then posted it on MySpace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: And tonight: They left home and traveled to the other side of the world, Iraq and Germany, to serve their country, husband and wife, both deployed, leaving their 2-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy behind with godparents. And then a 911 call, the 2-year-old baby girl found dead, the 4-year-old raced to the ER, visible signs of abuse. Tonight: As the parents` sad journey home begins, the godparents claim accidents, pointing the finger at each other.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Red tape surrounded the Dawkinses` (ph) apartment in East El Paso, and our cameras weren`t the only ones on the scene, police detectives taking their own footage and gathering evidence. Authorities say around 10:00 Monday night, someone inside the home called 911, saying that the 2-year-old girl wasn`t breathing. According to the complaint affidavit, the Dawkinses told investigators the little girl fell down some stairs, but that they later, quote, "both admitted and implicated each other." The girl was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead. Police say her big brother also had signs of abuse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Suspects are both in the military. Their names are Nakia (ph) and Shawntrel (ph) Dawkins. They`re accused of abusing that child to death. Now, the suspects were supposed to be taking care of the little girl and her 4-year-old brother while their parents are deployed overseas. Their father is in Iraq and their mother in Germany.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s very emotional for all the people involved, from the fire crews responding, to the investigators who have to do the investigation. It`s a very tragic situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us. Tonight: A vicious attack on a Baltimore school teacher, with a crowd cheering it on, all caught on cell phone video. It heads straight to MySpace, of course. And no, it`s not street violence or a gang attack. It`s right there in the classroom of a local high school. And tonight: The perp walks free. Why?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a scene all too familiar at schools across the country, classroom violence, this time a Baltimore high school teacher the apparent target, the attack captured on cell phone video and making its way to MySpace. Art instructor Jolita Berry said the trouble started when she asked a female student to sit down. But instead, the young girl decides to confront Berry, who told the student back up or she would defend herself. That`s when the young girl catches Berry off guard, beating her up to the point where other teachers had to pull the student off Berry. And topping it all off, the classmates stood by and watched, cheering on the violent attack. A teacher for only two years, Jolita now cannot sleep, eat, is in serious pain and on medication. But she`s not surprised.
JOLITA BERRY, TEACHER BEATEN BY STUDENT: I`m not the only teacher that (INAUDIBLE) There`s a teacher that got hit by a student just for breaking up a fight, and nothing was done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: A vicious attack with a crowd cheering it on? Not one person lifts a finger to help. In fact, just for fun, another videotaped the whole thing and enters it on MySpace?
Straight out to Clarence Mitchell, talk show host with WBAL AM 1009. What happened, Clarence?
CLARENCE MITCHELL IV, TALK SHOW HOST, WBAL AM 1090: Hey, Nancy. Call me C-4. Look, the deal is public education, Nancy, in this country, in this state, in this city is fundamentally broken. And the problem exists when you have students who...
GRACE: What happened?
MITCHELL: ... feel like they have impunity...
GRACE: What happened?
MITCHELL: What happened, basically, is you had a situation with a teacher on Friday who was beaten by a student, walked up to her, invaded her personal space, as she said, hit her, other students standing around, cheering it on. You had a student videotaping it. One student had the presence of mind to run and get other teachers to get involved. And that`s how it stopped, when the teachers got to the room.
GRACE: Joining me right now is a very special guest and a primetime exclusive. Speaking out, Jolita Berry. She`s the teacher beaten by a student, a blood-thirsty attack in the classroom of a high school. And catch this, the perpetrator still walking free, and the high school apparently didn`t report the whole thing. Why? Because they don`t want their high school to look bad with incidents of violence.
Ms. Berry, thank you for being with us.
BERRY: Thank you for having me.
GRACE: What happened in that classroom?
BERRY: Well, the student and I had words.
BERRY: Well, it started -- she turned up a radio -- because I allow my students to listen to music while they`re making art. And she did it without permission, and I got on her case for it. So then it started to balloon into words. And she came over to my desk and she got into my face. She got into my personal space. And I told her...
GRACE: How close to your face was she?
BERRY: I mean, she was -- it was, like, nose to nose.
GRACE: And how old is this student, 16?
BERRY: Yes. She`s 16.
GRACE: And how tall is she? Is she as tall as you are?
BERRY: She`s a little bit taller than me. I`m only five feet, so everybody`s taller than me.
GRACE: And so this is a student bigger than you, approaches you. How close to your face?
BERRY: Nose to nose.
GRACE: Nose to nose. Holy moley! And look at all the other students! We`re showing the video that made its way to MySpace. And all the other students cheering it on?
GRACE: Could you actually hear them cheering while you`re down on the ground on your back, getting pummeled?
BERRY: I heard them -- I heard some people laughing. I heard some people cheering her on. And there was one student who said, Oh, my God, oh, my God, somebody get some help. And I believe she was the one who ran out and got some teachers and the administration.
GRACE: You are seeing the video of what happened. Instead of raising one finger to help their art teacher, who was lying flat on her back, getting the pummeling of a lifetime, they actually video it. This is not street violence. This is not a gang attack. This is right here in the classroom in Baltimore.
So you finally make it to the principal`s office, and Ms. Berry, what happens?
BERRY: I told my principal what happened. And she said, I do apologize that it happened. This is horrible. And then she told me that I triggered her. She told me that telling the student to back off or else you would defend yourself is a trigger.
GRACE: Joining me right now is Marietta English. She`s the president of the Baltimore teachers union. Ma`am, what is your response to all this?
MARIETTA ENGLISH, PRES., BALTIMORE TEACHERS UNION: I think it`s appalling, Nancy, that anyone who would do this to a teacher, any student who had the nerve to approach a teacher and physically attack them. We have been trying to get support and help in this situation all year. I`ve been talking to the board, telling them that something needs to be done about the violent attacks on teachers and students in the schools. And instead of getting help, I`m getting chastised by a board member, who says teachers need to stand in the hallway.
But these attacks are happening in the schools and in the hallways. This is appalling, that a teacher simply says to a student, Sit down, and then the teacher -- and she says, I`m going to protect myself, and that`s a trigger? That`s ridiculous! What a student -- if you were on the street, that student would be arrested for a crime. This is a crime that`s being committed...
ENGLISH: ... in this classroom!
GRACE: ... Ms. English, that I don`t understand. Back to you, Ms. Berry, the teacher that you can barely make out being attacked in her own classroom. Did the school forward this to the police?
BERRY: Yes. What happens is, when you are attacked, when something like this happens in the school, you are to fill out a police report, a write-up of all the things that the school needs for documentation. The officer did his job. However, he wasn`t -- as an officer that worked at a school, he cannot file anything until the principal sends the files, until the principal gives him the OK.
GRACE: OK. Hold on. I couldn`t make out what you were saying. The school officer filled out the police report, but then what happened?
BERRY: Yes. Once the police report is finished, it still has to be released by the principal.
BERRY: And he couldn`t finish the job because she overlooked it. She just wanted to sweep it under the rug, I suppose.
GRACE: I want to go to another guest joining us tonight, George Vanhook, Sr. He is the commissioner of the Baltimore city school board. Sir, thank you for being with us. Have you seen this video?
GEORGE VANHOOK, SR., COMMISSIONER, BALTIMORE SCHOOL BOARD: I just -- I saw it today, and I truly was very sad, very appalled because I don`t condone violence. And I think that the esteemed president of the Baltimore teachers union understands that that is my position. We do not condone violence, and we don`t want students, staff or administrators to be threatened when they come into our building.
GRACE: Is it true, Mr. Vanhook, that if a school gets X number of citations for violence, that that school could be shut down or that parents could opt their children out of that school?
VANHOOK: No Child Left Behind requirements that are federal requirements do require that we keep certain specifics. But we do not, as a rule, shut down schools for that purpose. Generally, the reason for shutting a school down or providing the choice for parents to move is related to academics or failure to meet average or adequate yearly progress.
GRACE: To Marietta English, the president of the Baltimore teachers union. Isn`t it true that if the school gets X number of citations for violence, parents don`t have to send their children to that school?
ENGLISH: That`s called choice. They have a choice to take their student somewhere else. That`s correct. That is why principals don`t report these acts of violence, that`s why they don`t suspend children, because they don`t want to be on the list.
GRACE: Thank you. And to George Vanhook, Sr. He`s a commissioner of the Baltimore city school board. Mr. Vanhook, why didn`t this principal file this police report? Is that under review tonight?
VANHOOK: We are certainly investigating the matter, and the chief of staff has engaged in multiple discussions. The police department has been involved with it. And the matter is under investigation.
GRACE: Well, what I...
VANHOOK: Right now, it is being reviewed. We certainly cannot speak about the specifics because...
GRACE: Look at this! Look at this! This is happening in a classroom, and there have been no police report filed, the perpetrator is walking free, and it`s like nothing happened. Why? Because apparently, the principal is afraid of repercussions if police report is filed, how it will make the principal look, how it will make the school look.
Well, Ms. Berry, while you were lying back down on the ground, getting pummeled, to a classroom of blood-thirsty students cheering, were you worried about how the school was going to look?
BERRY: No. Not at all.
GRACE: I`m just imaging what you were thinking as you`re hearing all these people cheering for you to get the beating of a lifetime.
BERRY: There were so many things going through my mind at the time, I just -- I had to tune all that out. It was painful. It hurt, but I had to tune it out.
GRACE: What were your injuries, Ms. Berry?
BERRY: My injuries were -- I have a lot of pain in my shoulder and my neck. My eyes -- I have a hemorrhage in my eye. And that`s the physical extent of it.
GRACE: Are you planning on...
BERRY: I have to take medication.
GRACE: Are you planning on going back into the courtroom -- are you planning on going back into the classroom?
BERRY: Not that classroom, no. No.
GRACE: Out to the lines. Everybody, we are taking your calls live. You are seeing the video that they were bold enough to actually post on MySpace.
Leighann in Alabama. Hi, Leighann.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. I love your show, and I think your little boy looks just like his dad and the girl looks just like you.
GRACE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re precious!
GRACE: If you had only ever met my grandmother Lucy, that`s who she looks like. Thank you. What`s your question, dear?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, my thing is, we had a teacher in our area beaten to death by a 15-year-old boy. Her name was Judy Jester (ph). And I can`t imagine why the school system is avoiding putting cameras in all hallways, as well as the school classrooms, you know, in order to protect not only the teachers but the kids that are in there.
GRACE: You know, Leighann, I actually got my teaching certificate and student taught, then taught college and law school classes, as well, and it never dawned on me at that time that you would actually need surveillance video in the halls of a high school.
Let`s unleash the lawyers. Joining us tonight, Eleanor Dixon, Richard Herman, Mickey Sherman. Eleanor Dixon, I remember working hand in hand with school detectives, and schools to my knowledge didn`t hide things under the rug the way this is being handled.
ELEANOR DIXON, PROSECUTOR: No. And in fact, in Georgia, you`re required by law to report any incidents of violence or crimes to the district attorney`s office within 48 hours. So we`re used to hearing it.
GRACE: Mickey Sherman, why is the perpetrator walking free tonight? No police report, nothing!
MICKEY SHERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. Yes. They didn`t arrest her. I mean...
GRACE: They must have hired Mickey Sherman!
SHERMAN: Not even. They`re still studying the tape. I mean, if there was a stabbing or a shooting, would they still be studying the tape? That was, like, authentic gibberish by the school board person. I`m sorry to be so nasty. But I mean, what else do you need to make a move? She`s not arrested. She`s out on the street. And if she does get arrested, she`ll probably get a reasonable bond in any event.
SHERMAN: ... more disturbing are the kids who did nothing.
GRACE: I saved this question for you, Richard Herman, because I didn`t think the other two could pull it off with a straight face, but maybe you. How in the world is the principal actually blaming the teacher? She`s the one on the bottom that`s getting attacked.
RICHARD HERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, Nancy, Ms. English, and in particular Ms. Berry, know that in the last year, there were 112 suspensions in this school alone for violence by students against teachers. And Dr. Bethany could surely instruct these teachers, you don`t engage these students. You walk away. Telling her, Get out of my face, I`m going to fight back, that absolutely...
HERMAN: ... engaged that student.
GRACE: Richard, if I had on a robe right now, I would hold you in contempt, friend!
HERMAN: Bring it on, Judge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERRY: And she told me she is sorry that this happened to me. But then she turned right around and told me that telling the student that I was going to defend myself was a trigger word. I triggered them. No learning place should be this violent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reginald F. Lewis High School art teacher Jolita Berry fights back tears as she remembers this incident unfolding in her classroom. Those aren`t students fighting, but that is a student on top of Berry, in what she calls a relentless beating, all caught on a cell phone camera. Berry says she told the student to sit down and behave herself. And the rest, well, you can see yourself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: We are taking your calls live. That`s not a street scene or gang violence, that`s right there in a Baltimore art classroom. And with us tonight, speaking out in primetime for the first time, is the teacher, the teacher that didn`t fight back but is now stunned there`s been no police report filed. In fact, it appears to me -- and I`ve got a commissioner of the school board with me tonight -- that the school actually tried to hush it up so their reputation would not be damaged.
I want to go out to the lines. To Jeri in Arkansas. Hi, Jeri.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. I have a comment and a question. My comment is, we do not pay our teachers enough money to put their life on the line every time they go to work.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is ridiculous, that they have to go through that. I`m so thankful that my grandchildren are home schooled. Now, my question is, why can`t the teacher file the report on her own to the police department?
GRACE: Good question. What about it, Jolita Berry? What about you filing it on your own? Or did you believe that by going to the principal and having them file it, that would suffice?
BERRY: You know, everything happened so fast. I was just going by proper protocol.
GRACE: Now, did you hear the attorney Richard Herman state that it`s your fault?
BERRY: I did. But you know what? I`m not going to get upset. I`m not going to be irate and yell. I`m not even going to raise my voice the way he did. I know in my heart that it was not my fault. It doesn`t matter who says what to someone, nobody, absolutely, positively nobody deserves that.
GRACE: And Richard, I don`t understand your thinking that somehow the teacher is to blame.
HERMAN: Nancy, that was a volatile...
GRACE: I mean...
HERMAN: That was a volatile...
GRACE: ... maybe you need a pair of glasses. Did you see that video?
HERMAN: No, I -- the video is horrific and the whole event was horrific. But the atmosphere is so volatile in that school, and it began with turning down the radio. It began then. And when she...
GRACE: Oh, it was her fault because she asked the student to turn down the radio?
HERMAN: She should have walked away. That`s what she should have done. She should have walked away.
GRACE: Walked away from what?
HERMAN: From the student. She should not have engaged her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERRY: (INAUDIBLE) I looked over, and her friends were cheering her on. And before I knew it, she hit me in the face.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Other teachers helped break up the fight, and Berry thought she could turn to her principal for help. But after a little consoling, she felt that the tables were being turned on her. Berry says she and other teachers in her shoes feel that they`re at a loss, feeling the schools they teach in are not safe, and now they have the tape to prove it. They just hope that the Baltimore city school system is watching.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Not only that, the principal at this high school right there in Baltimore has not filed a police report. Why? Many people suspect because incidents of violence allow parents to send children to other schools and it would make the school look bad.
Back to Clarence Mitchell -- excuse me, C-4 -- with WBAL AM 1090. What do you make -- what is the community making of the fact that the principal didn`t even file a police report to protect this teacher?
MITCHELL: Well, after speaking with Dr. Honors Alonzo (ph), who`s the chief executive officer -- a fancy name for superintendent in our school system -- immediately upon Ms. Berry filing the complaint, the student should have been suspended and should have been arrested immediately. That`s the protocol. So not to have them file...
MITCHELL: Immediately. That`s the protocol.
GRACE: Out to Dr. Joshua Perper. What type of force, Dr. Perper, does it take to hemorrhage an eye?
DR. JOSHUA PERPER, MEDICAL EXAMINER: Well, it depends. She had some hemorrhages, some bleeding in the eyes. And it`s not clear to me whether they were in the depth of the eye or superficial. It depends on the extent and severity.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What you see here is cell phone video shot at Baltimore`s Reginald F. Lewis High School. Listen to the teacher screaming. That`s a student on top and a teacher on the bottom, screaming. Even worse, the teacher says the principal suggested that she brought the attack on herself.
JOLITA BERRY, TEACHER BEATEN BY STUDENT ON VIDEO: (INAUDIBLE) I looked over, her friends were cheering her on. And before I knew it she hit me in the face.
GRACE: The crowd cheering on the beating of a beloved art teacher. It was right there in the classroom. And so far, no police report has been filed and the perpetrator is walking free.
Out to the lines, Diane in Florida. Hi, Diane.
DIANE, FLORIDA RESIDENT: Hi, Nancy. Congratulations on the twins.
GRACE: Thank you.
DIANE: I have a set myself. My question is, the person that`s taking the video on the camera and putting it on MySpace, can`t they be held responsible for a crime, too?
GRACE: Excellent question. Let`s unleash the lawyers. Eleanor Dixon, Richard Herman, Nikki Sherman.
What about it, Eleanor?
ELEANOR DIXON, PROSECUTOR: I think you could under a party to a crime. There -- she was there, she did nothing and she participated by videoing this.
GRACE: But do you think the videotaping, Nikki, will be participation?
NIKKI SHERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No. I don`t think so. Not that many places have Good Samaritan laws and I don`t know that Baltimore has one. You`re allowed to do nothing. You`re allowed to be insensitive, callous and nasty and not help somebody who is in peril. You know, it`s just a fact of life.
RICHARD HERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It`s incredible, Nancy. All those students standing around and no one came to her aid, no one came to get this person off of her. Just incredible.
GRACE: I know. But can that person should be charged with anything?
HERMAN: I don`t think so. There`s no crime for that. There`s -- you`re going to charge every student in the class for standing around? It`s not going to happen, no way.
GRACE: To Bethany Marshall, psychoanalyst and author, Bethany, weigh in.
BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST, AUTHOR OF "DEALBREAKERS": Well, Richard Herman mentioned something like 126 assaults on teachers? You know for students who function at such a primitive level psychologically, they confuse and cannot distinguish acts of authority in teaching with war. So when the teacher teaches they feel that a war is being waged upon them. It`s like eat or be eaten. It`s like the teacher is viewed as the dangerous other who has no personality, no individuality.
And then these dangerous students bring all their buddies in on the crime so there really has to be a dialogue in the school where I think they need to bring in school psychologists and maybe do some psych testing and weed out these students, get them into another program, retrain them, and get them a little bit more attached to the reality of the personality of the teacher rather than seeing the teacher as the dangerous other.
GRACE: Joining me right now is Derek Randel. He is a school violence expert, the author of "Attacking Our Educators."
Derrick, thank you for being with us. Do you believe that there are more girl aggressors now? In fact, just the other night, we highlighted a case where the video was taken specifically to send it to MySpace of an attack on an honor student cheerleader by a gang of other girls. It`s an incredible video. And one of the attackers was so unconcerned about the victim that they videotaped the whole thing.
DEREK RANDEL, SCHOOL VIOLENCE EXPERT, AUTHOR OF "ATTACKING OUR EDUCATORS": Well, hi, Nancy. Thank you for having me. First of all, I have to say that the administration in that school in Baltimore is just flat out incompetent. The lawyer who wanted to blame the teacher has no clue what he`s talking about. I used to be a teacher. And we do not blame the teacher for these incidents.
And girls are definitely getting much more violent. They`re carrying more weapons. They have a lot of role models to follow to become more violent. And as far as the students standing around and not getting involved, that`s one of the biggest problems we have is bystanders, just watching. They don`t want to get involved because they don`t want to be retaliated against and they don`t want to be humiliated. So we have to find a way to get the bystanders to come forward and that can be done by having them come forward anonymously.
GRACE: With us, Derek Randel, the author of "Attacking Our Educators."
Out to Michael Riggs, investigator with Riggs Investigative Services. Michael, how can it be that there is not a police report on this violent attack on a teacher right there in the classroom?
MICHAEL RIGGS, INVESTIGATOR, RIGGS INVESTIGATIVE SERVICES: Well, Nancy, what I don`t understand is why there`s not police officers in the school district. I live in a rural school district. We have a resource officer there at the school and he`s there to protect the students as well as the teachers. It`s time for that district to step up and protect these educators. They know that there was 112 assaults last year and they`ve done nothing to protect this young lady. That -- the young girl should have been arrested on the spot and charged with aggravated assault on this teacher.
GRACE: You know, back to the lawyers, Eleanor, Richard, Mickey.
Eleanor, we as prosecutors must work, unfortunately with school detectives and school police hand in hand. And every veteran prosecutor has done a stint in juvenile court where you prosecute nothing but juvenile crimes. I don`t understand why there`s not a squad of juvenile detectives.
DIXON: I`m shocked that there isn`t, because as the person said we should have people in the schools. And here we are blaming the victim all for something she didn`t really do.
GRACE: To Marietta English, the president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, what do you as the teachers` union plan to do?
MARIETTA ENGLISH, PRESIDENT, BALTIMORE TEACHERS UNION: Well, we plan to work with the district and hopefully they will implement some policies that these principals can follow so that when they have.
GRACE: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on. Miss English, I`m a little bit still afraid to interrupt.
ENGLISH: You mean about this incident?
GRACE: I`m still afraid to interrupt a teacher but work with a system? There`s already been assault on staff, 112 times this school year. Last year, 98 at this time. I think it`s time for a change in.
ENGLISH: There needs to be a change. There needs to be some place for these (INAUDIBLE) to go.
GRACE: An attack plan?
ENGLISH: .who are in these schools that are violent, which is what we have been saying.
GRACE: Well, I can tell you there is a place. It`s called juvenile detention. And I want to go back to the commissioner of the Baltimore City School Board, George Vanhook Sr., who I believe, the school board is elected.
Mr. Vanhook, why isn`t there a police report filed? And why isn`t the school board doing something about this? You`ve got it on video.
GEORGE VANHOOK SR., COMMISSIONER, BALTIMORE CITY SCHOOL BOARD: We are doing as much as we can to investigate it. We are following the protocol that has been established. And we`re doing the things we need to do to establish the case. And in due time, the reports will be filed and I believe appropriate action will be taken.
GRACE: Mr. Vanhook, is the girl student back in classes?
VANHOOK: At this point, it is my understanding that she is not in classes.
GRACE: Back to Jolita Berry, the teacher that took the pummeling. Is she back in class?
BERRY: I haven`t been in that building since it happened. I was told that she was in the building on Monday.
GRACE: Now why would she be allowed back in the building, Miss Berry?
BERRY: I was told because she had to bring a parent. I have no idea.
GRACE: I mean, what message is that sending the other students for her to show her face back at that school? There`s no police report. She has not been arrested. No action has been taken. Nothing. Other than you being blamed.
BERRY: No consequences. The students act the way they act because they`re absolutely, positively no consequences.
GRACE: Out to the lines. Helen in Tennessee. Hi, Helen.
HELEN, TENNESSEE RESIDENT: Hi, Nancy. I love your show and your darling twins. I had two questions. Why is the principal still on the job? I mean.
GRACE: Oh that`s a good one. And what`s your second one?
HELEN: Isn`t there a law about those watching the fight being charged?
GRACE: I don`t know of a law against watching a fight. As Mickey and Richard pointed out, there`s no Good Samaritan. You don`t have to be a Good Samaritan and very quickly, to Marietta English, why hasn`t the principal been relieved?
ENGLISH: That`s -- we`re asking that same question. Why is she still in the school? Why is she still there? We`re asking the same question.
GRACE: Before we go, back to Jolita Berry. Miss Berry, will you ever go back in the classroom again?
BERRY: I would like to but I know one thing, I will not set foot back in Reginald F. Lewis High School.
GRACE: With us tonight, featuring exclusively on primetime, Jolita Berry. We want justice. This is wrong.
Tonight, on another note, Georgia parents Lee and Debby Wagner mourn the loss of their two teenage children, Jillian and Charles Lee, both killed instantly in a car accident. In their memory, the Wagners raising awareness, speaking out to grieving parents about making the right choices, all while offering scholarships with "A Walk to Remember," the 380-mile walk starts in the Atlanta, Georgia suburbs ends on Mother`s Day near Winston, Salem, North Carolina at the gravesite of Jillian and Charles Lee.
Participants include churches, civic groups, youth groups. To donate or take part in the walk, raising money for your favorite charity. If you want to help, go to awalktoremember.org.
And speaking of beloved children tonight, new photos of the twins and new teeth on the horizon for John David. He`s teething. And little Lucy spots the ball, she swings, she hits. Homerun, little girl. I`m posting these tonight online. I hope you like them.
When we come back, husband and wife, both deployed to save our country, leaving behind two little children, and then a 911 call. The 2- year-old dead in the care of godparents. The 4-year-old, abused. Tonight, as the godparents blame each other, we want justice.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Police arrest and charge two guardians in the death of a 2-year-old whose parents are serving in the military overseas. Police say Army Staff Sergeant Nakia Dawkins and wife Shawntrell Dawkins initially claim that the 2-year-old suffered a fall down several stairs. But when the victim was taken to the hospital, the injuries were found to be inconsistent with the couple`s story. The girl`s 4-year-old brother was also taken to the hospital for what police say were visible injuries. The child is now in CPS custody, waiting for his parents to come home while the guardians are charged with capital murder.
GRACE: The godparents now pointing the finger at each other.
Out to Jay Koester with the "El Paso Times." What happened?
JAY KOESTER, EDITOR, THE EL PASO TIMES: Like you mentioned, the couple left, they had to go overseas to Iraq and Germany serving the U.S. The mother left her two children, 2 years old and 4 years old, with these guardians, her godparents. And we don`t know what happened then except there was a call Monday night to police saying that the child was not breathing. When the police got there, they found the child, the 2-year-old dead, and 4-year-old also with injuries. The parents -- the guardians, I should say, claim the child had fallen down the stairs. They changed their story under questioning and now are blaming each other for the injuries.
GRACE: Jay Koester joining us from "The El Paso Times."
To Officer Chris Mears, the PIO of the El Paso Police Department.
Officer, thank you for being with us. Sir, what exactly were the injuries to the little girl?
OFFICER CHRIS MEARS, PIO, EL PASO POLICE DEPT.: I can only release certain details at this point, Nancy. But I can tell you that there was (INAUDIBLE) kinds of blunt force trauma to her head and body to include injuries that were matched up to a belt that was seized from the residence, from the belt buckle and (INAUDIBLE) on the belt.
GRACE: What about the boy that`s still alive?
MEARS: Right. There were also visible injuries that were also related to the same belt.
GRACE: What about tonight, you all know Dr. Joshua Perper, the chief medical examiner in Florida, author of "When to Call the Doctor."
Dr. Perper, how much force is required for one blunt force mark being left on a child`s body? Much less several?
DR. JOSHUA PERPER, MEDICAL EXAMINER, AUTHOR OF "WHEN TO CALL THE DOCTOR": Well, it requires a significant amount of farce. And the skull of a young child is very flexible. So in order to break the bone you need to apply a lot of force. In this case, there`s obviously have been some abuse, with the marks of the instrument, the belt which caused the abuse. So there`s little question that this is one of the unfortunately quite many deaths of children who are killed in this country.
GRACE: Dr. Perper, originally, the wife godparent told police the 2- year-old fell down the stairs. Now how could investigators or autopsy prove that`s not true?
PERPER: Well, the very nature of the bruises on the -- the marks on the skin which indicated the child was beaten with a belt dismiss this possibility. And in addition to that, the nature of the color and there might be injuries of different age to indicate that the child was abused at different times. So it`s relatively not very difficult to distinguish between injuries from a fall over the steps and abusive injuries.
GRACE: And Dr. Perper, will they be able to tell how long the 2-year- old had been dead?
PERPER: Apparently -- no, that`s not a problem. The pattern of postmortem changes were present at the time when the expert, the pathologist examined the child.
GRACE: Dr. Bethany Marshall, joining us tonight, psychoanalyst and author, I must have misunderstood because I thought that two parents couldn`t both be deployed at the same time.
MARSHALL: There is just a cascading effect of bad decisions here that I don`t completely understand. Both parents being deployed, number one. Number two, why weren`t these children placed with familiar caregivers like grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors? Why were they placed with these strangers? The biological mother seemed to have preferred these godparents over the biological father`s close relatives.
And then these -- godparents weren`t checked out and they probably had very violent fantasies about these little kids that they were unconditionally bad, deserved to be punished, and quite clearly also just didn`t even want them there.
GRACE: Unleash the lawyers, Eleanor Dixon, Richard Herman, Mickey Sherman. Guys, let`s go to the lines. Allen in Florida. Hi, Allen.
ALLEN, FLORIDA RESIDENT: Hi, Nancy, how are you?
GRACE: I`m good, dear. What`s your question?
ALLEN: I have a question and it had -- it reminded me of the case last night when that principal had these two young teenagers in the hotel room.
ALLEN: And I don`t know if anybody caught it but his bond was only $5,000 which is outrageous to me. I would like to know, my question is, these two godparents, are they in jail right now and if so, what kind of bond are they being held with? Because this is one of the most horrendous things I`ve ever heard.
GRACE: You know what, Allen? You`re right. While the parents are off serving the country, our country, this is what happens.
To Jay Koester with the "El Paso Times," have they made bond? Has a bond been set?
KOESTER: The godparents are still in jail. There has been no bond set. They haven`t had their first court appearance. They don`t need to rush it because it`s felony charges. So they are still in jail.
GRACE: Back to the lawyers, Eleanor Dixon, Richard Herman and Mickey Sherman.
Eleanor, I think they`re looking at a death penalty case.
DIXON: Most definitely, especially with a young child like this, defenseless, the types of injuries, and the anger that was (INAUDIBLE), this would be a good case for the death penalty, and they surely deserve it.
GRACE: And Richard Herman, Mickey Sherman, to you, Mickey, there`s also the attack on the 4-year-old. The 4-year-old looked abused as well. But he lived.
SHERMAN: You know, it`s incredible. I think the only one that`s going to be saved from the death penalty is the one who rats out the other one first and most effectively. Other than that, I think one of these people is going to die and the other is going to serve 20 to life at least in prison. And when the bond is set, I got to believe that the bond is going to be like $100 million or something absolutely outrageous.
GRACE: Richard, agree or disagree?
HERMAN: I absolutely agree with Mickey on that and the title of his book, how do we represent this kind of -- how do we defend them?
GRACE: You two, always singing the same chorus.
HERMAN: Tough, tough, Nancy, this is a tough case.
GRACE: Always agreeing with each other.
HERMAN: Extremely tough case to defend, Nancy.
GRACE: Eleanor? Death penalty?
DIXON: Yes. Definitely. They deserve it as I said before.
GRACE: To "HEADLINE PRIME`s" Glenn Beck. Hi, friend.
GLENN BECK, HOST, GLENN BECK SHOW: I believe that Barack and Michelle Obama are socialists. Hey, you know what? Michelle more than Barack. Don`t take my word for it. Take Michelle Obama`s own words. It makes it clear she wants to take what you worked hard for and give it to somebody else. I want to give you a part of the speech that nobody in the media, of course, is covering. We will. We`ll have more on her socialist plan in America in just a bit.
Then the rising cost of fuel, crashing consumer satisfaction, have the airline industry in big, big trouble. What does it mean to you and how bad could it actually get? Details, next.
GRACE: We on NANCY GRACE are on the hunt for parents who inspire and now tonight`s extraordinary parent.
PATRICIA FURLONG, FOUNDER, PARENT PROJECT MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY: When they were very little boys I noticed something was different from their peers.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: In 1984 Patricia Furlong received devastating news about her sons Christopher and Patrick that would change their lives forever.
FURLONG: A physician looking (INAUDIBLE) Christopher and Patrick`s condition said (INAUDIBLE) have muscular dystrophy. They will progressively weaken.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: When her sons passed away just seven months apart from one another at the ages of 17 and 15, Patricia knew something more had to be done.
FURLONG: I went on a journey around the country and around the world to find out what was going on with muscular dystrophy. I wanted to break down the barriers between research, between caregivers, professional health caregivers and parents.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: In 1994 with the support of her family, Patricia founded Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy. The organization is a nationwide support group for parents and children that stresses activism.
FURLONG: My Christopher (INAUDIBLE). If you won`t fight for me, who will? As I look at every little boy and every child to ever be diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, I see Christopher and I hear those words.
GRACE: Let`s stop and remember Army Sergeant Samuel Kelsey, 24, Troop, Texas, killed, Iraq. On a second tour. Lost his life trying to rescue a fellow soldier. Loves sports and making others laugh, spending time with friends, leaves behind mom Jenina, who says her son was her heart and soul, grandparents Samuel and Barbara.
Samuel Kelsey, American hero.
Thanks for our guests but most of all to you for being with us. See you tomorrow night, 8:0 sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.