Return to Transcripts main page
Captured Marine May Waive Extradition From Mexico
Aired April 11, 2008 - 20:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAT LALAMA, GUEST HOST: Breaking news tonight. They finally found him. A simple roadblock by a Mexican task force leads authorities straight to the prime murder suspect in the death of 20-year-old pregnant Marine Maria Lauterbach. With dreams since high school of becoming a Marine, then a cop, Lauterbach`s life cut short when she suddenly vanishes into thin air near Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The burned remains of Lauterbach and her unborn child found buried in the back yard of Marine Corporal Cesar Laurean. And we learn while running from law enforcement for three months, Laurean makes time to communicate with his wife by e-mail. But tonight, with North Carolina prosecutors already taking the death penalty off the table, the tough extradition process begins.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were beginning to wonder when, if ever, they`d finally catch Cesar Laurean. He`s now in custody, though. He was nabbed in Mexico, where he was doing a pretty good job of hiding for the past few months. He`s accused of murdering pregnant fellow Marine Maria Lauterbach, her body found in his back yard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fugitive, Cesar Laurean, is now in the custody of the Mexican Federal Police in Mexico City. He is awaiting extradition to answer the charges against him in the tragic death of Maria Lauterbach and her unborn child.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LALAMA: Good evening. I`m Pat Lalama, in for Nancy Grace. Tonight, after three months on the run, the prime suspect in the murder of 20-year- old pregnant Marine Maria Lauterbach captured south of the border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Corporal Cesar Laurean has been the man on the run for exactly three months, but now he`s in custody. It could be months -- in fact, it could be years -- before he`s back in the U.S. And even then, it looks like he`ll evade the biggest threat of all, the death penalty. Laurean, who is suspected of killing a pregnant fellow Marine, was arrested in western Mexico yesterday by police carrying out an unrelated anti- kidnapping operation. They questioned him because they thought he looked suspicious. A computer check turned up his identity and that murder charge.
Police say he killed Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach in December. She was eight months pregnant and had accused him of rape. Her remains were found in January, buried in the yard of Laurean`s home near Camp Lejeune. Even though his arrest seems to have happened completely by chance, authorities in North Carolina say they were closing in on Laurean anyway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LALAMA: And his words upon arrest to a reporter, I loved her. Susan Candiotti, CNN national correspondent, this is a real surprise for law enforcement hunting him down for three months.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That`s true. To a degree, however -- and the reason I say that is because over the past couple of weeks, they have been zeroing in on him, narrowing the search area. And that`s because within the last two weeks, the FBI came across some intelligence that, in turn, led them to seize a computer, a computer that had been used by Cesar Laurean`s wife. She`d been e-mailing her husband back and forth. The FBI found out about it. They also learned that he had been asking his family members for money, money that he might have used to cross the border to go visit his parents, who live in Las Vegas.
But there was even more. It turns out that Laurean had sent an e-mail -- it`s not confirmed yet that it was written by him. But it appears it was sent directly to the sheriff here in Onslow County. In it, I am told that Laurean says, I want to surrender, but I want to surrender to you, the local authorities. I don`t want the military to get involved because, he allegedly said in this e-mail, I don`t want the military, as he put it, to railroad me.
CANDIOTTI: So that`s another interesting (INAUDIBLE)
LALAMA: That is an amazing revelation. So all along, law enforcement, Susan, has been aware, sort of wheeling and dealing, watching his movements, communicating to some degree, so it wasn`t a total shock that he`d be in law enforcement`s hands soon?
CANDIOTTI: No. And after seizing that computer, they were able to isolate those e-mails and narrow the area where he probably was. So they knew where to look.
CANDIOTTI: Difficult to say. Maybe, in fact, Laurean did saunter up on his own last night and give himself up to Mexican authorities.
LALAMA: Well, we have...
CANDIOTTI: And it all relates to each other.
LALAMA: Yes, it`s incredible. We have with us Sheriff Ed Brown, Onslow County Sheriff`s Department. Sir, can you give us an idea what kind of communications did you have? This wasn`t a real surprise to you, then?
SHERIFF ED BROWN, ONSLOW COUNTY: Would you repeat your question? I didn`t hear you.
LALAMA: What kind of communication had been going on between Laurean and law enforcement officials, as Susan just reported? Can you confirm for us that you knew where he was, that he wanted to come back, that you were anticipating this?
BROWN: Well, you -- just as mentioned, I received an e-mail the 31st, in the early morning of the 31st. And it addressed what you had just mentioned on the air.
LALAMA: So sir, did you -- were you aware, then, of where he was? And did you anticipate that he would be apprehended soon? Where was -- what was your role in what happened with Mexican authorities?
BROWN: My role has been to sit back and wait and be informed by the authorities how they`re progressing. And this e-mail that you`re talking about came only a week ago. I can tell you this, the authorities, American and Mexican authorities, were closing in on him. They knew where he was at. This was no accident.
LALAMA: Well, that`s what I wanted to find out. Let`s ask Jennifer Hlad of "The Jacksonville Daily News." This is something -- people have wondered, did he just wander up to this task force post? It happened to be a kidnapping task force post, had nothing to do with the search for him. It wasn`t an accident that he came to this position and said, My name is Cesar Laurean, correct?
JENNIFER HLAD, ``JACKSONVILLE DAILY NEWS``: Well, obviously, he was on his way to an Internet cafe that he had been using to apparently communicate with his family members, including his wife. But certainly, he didn`t put up any fight. He told them his real name. And I mean, you`ve driven up to a roadblock before. You can see it before you get there. So it seems, though, if he wanted to run away, he could have stopped before he came up to that.
LALAMA: Absolutely. But the other thing is, he gave his name, he didn`t try to resist anything. This sounds to me -- Susan Candiotti, wouldn`t you say this sounds to me like a guy who was tired of running and wanted to turn himself in?
CANDIOTTI: May very well be the case. Well, take a look at him. After all, this is a guy who looks scruffy, who looked much thinner than he had, when you see those official Marine photos from just three months ago, who told authorities he`d been hiding in fields and surviving on eating avocados. So it may have been his time. Evidently, he was making these overtures that he wanted to surrender, so it would seem. He was reaching out to family members, saying he might want to come back and cross the border. He wanted money. Perhaps his time was up and he knew it.
LALAMA: Let`s go to the callers. Terri in Illill -- in Illinois. Easy for me to say! Hello, Terri, and how are you? And what`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great. Hi. It`s nice to talk to you guys tonight.
LALAMA: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The question is, why has his wife not been charged? And the reason I ask this is, there is no way -- there is no way she did not have some complicity in this, and they do not absolutely need to give her immunity to prosecute him. They found a body in his back yard, for Pete`s sakes!
LALAMA: This is a very good question. We`ve all been going back and forth on this all day. And let`s go first to Sheriff Brown because, Sheriff, I know we only have a short time with you. A lot of people feel there is no way that Laurean`s wife cannot be implicit in this, that she had to help him. What is your position? Everyone`s saying she`s off the hook. Is that fast (ph) and clear that she`s not responsible?
BROWN: My remarks are, the people that are making those accusations do not have the facts. We have the facts. And at the present time, there are no evidence to bring charges.
LALAMA: No evidence she was communicating with him by e-mail? If she knew where he was, is that not bad enough?
BROWN: I haven`t said she was communicating. I said now there is no evidence to bring charges against her for a criminal act.
LALAMA: Holly Hughes, prosecutor, let`s ask you. You know, there are specific laws about when, in fact, you become involved in a criminal act. If she was just -- let`s talk hypothetically. If she was just speaking with her husband or communicating with him by e-mail, that`s not enough to send her up the river.
HOLLY HUGHES, PROSECUTOR: Absolutely, Pat. Good to see you again. And she would have to have positively aided and abetted him in some way, would have had to have told him, you know, The police are looking for you in this place, stay away from this place. She would have had to have obstructed justice in some way. The very fact that she communicated with him is absolutely no crime at all.
She didn`t do anything wrong, and she certainly doesn`t have an affirmative duty to go out and do the investigators` job for them and start asking questions like, Hey, honey, where are you? Where are you hiding out? Let me tell the police. If all she`s doing is saying, Hey, guess what? Everything here at the house is OK. By the way, did you feed the dog before you left? That`s not a crime, Pat. They can`t charge her.
LALAMA: Well, Anne Bremner, defense attorney, it seems to me that she`d be responsible if she were sending money, helping him to find an escape route, something like that. Paint a picture for us of where she would be liable.
ANNE BREMNER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely, Pat. If she goes anywhere in what you call rendering criminal assistance, which is an accomplice after the fact -- money, food, shelter, anything that would allow him to keep on the run and away from the authorities would be rendering criminal assistance to him by the wife. And the question is, is there any evidence of that, or was she simply just e-mailing? And of course, the e-mailing was, you know, the tracking device that caught him, the fact that he kept e-mailing back.
LALAMA: I want to take another call. John in Illinois. Are you with us, John? OK, no John.
Charles Swift, former Navy Jag, what happens with the military now? Do they just stand back and say, All right, we`ll let law enforcement do its job? Are they going to be involved in the investigation as it moves forward?
CHARLES SWIFT, FORMER NAVY JAG: Well, they`ll certainly be involved in the investigation. One of the things that was mentioned at the beginning of your show was that he wouldn`t face the death penalty because North Carolina has agreed not to seek the death penalty. The military also can seek the death penalty. He`s actually liable in two separate, different systems. He can be tried in the court-martial. He can also be tried in the courts of North Carolina.
And so -- and in fact, he was already starting in court-martial proceedings for rape, and they could amend or add new charges for murder, potentially kidnapping, and desertion because he`s been gone for more than 30 days and it didn`t seem that he had an intent to come back to the military anyway. In fact, there`s probably good reason for him not to wind up in a military court because he`s killed another Marine and because she was a material witness against him. He`s in significantly more trouble probably in the military courts than he would be in the North Carolina courts.
LALAMA: Another caller, Rosalee in Wyoming. Hello, Rosalee. What`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. I was wondering, was a DNA test ever done on the baby to see if it was Laurean`s?
LALAMA: Good question! Sheriff Ed Brown, everyone wants to know -- you may not think it`s relevant to the case, as such -- was the fetus, was it his child? Why can`t we learn that information?
BROWN: First of all, we`re dealing with two different authorities here. We`re dealing with a military issue while we`re investigating a criminal case. It would be the authorities...
LALAMA: But what`s that the got to do with...
BROWN: ... at the military base...
LALAMA: OK. I`m sorry. Go ahead.
BROWN: ... the authorities at the military base to do these testings...
LALAMA: You`re saying law enforcement, Sheriff...
BROWN: ... and not the Onslow County Sheriff`s office.
LALAMA: You`re saying the sheriff`s department, the prosecutors, that`s not their area, that`s not their arena to find out whose fetus that was? That`s not part of the criminal investigation?
BROWN: I wish you could get this mike so it didn`t give me feedback.
LALAMA: Sorry about that, sir. Can we handle that?
LALAMA: Sorry about that.
BROWN: Yes, I can handle that. We`re dealing with a murder, we`re not dealing with a rape. And we have got charges for a murder and we are pursuing those charges, and we`ll take those charges before the court. The case involving the child and the pregnancy is a military issue which I cannot address.
LALAMA: But I don`t know -- Lisa Lockwood, former police detective and author of "Undercover Angel," I`m not understanding why that`s a military issue. I mean, perhaps it doesn`t play into whether he murdered someone or not, but I would have to think, if I were an attorney, that how the jury hears that is going to be very important. And it has to be part of the criminal investigation, correct?
LISA LOCKWOOD, FORMER POLICE DETECTIVE: It`s certainly going to be part of the criminal investigation. But the thing -- the matter at hand right now is the murder. I agree completely with the sheriff and the sheriff`s department. That is the priority. And then the second, the effect from that, the case following (ph) up with, Is he the father and was there a rape involved, is a completely separate issue. So they need to handle the most important issue at hand right now, which is, of course, the murder and extradition and getting him back.
LALAMA: Susan Candiotti, CNN national correspondent, where is he right now, and what`s the next step?
CANDIOTTI: Well, Cesar Laurean is in Mexico City. He is being interrogated by Mexican authorities. But the next step could be a lengthy one because we`ve learned tonight that it will be a minimum of 60 days before the Justice Department gets all of the paperwork together needed to try to formally extradite Laurean from Mexico. It`ll take at least that long before anything happens.
LALAMA: Jennifer Hlad, reporter from "The Jacksonville Daily News," has anyone seen hide nor hair of the wife, Mr. Laurean`s wife? She`s just not putting herself before the public at all, correct?
HLAD: That is correct. She`s stayed pretty much behind closed doors. We have tried to find her. And now, my understanding is that she has been going to work at the base. But I believe -- I don`t know if the Marines are trying to hide her, or I guess, protect her, but I do know they have asked her not to talk to the public about the case.
LALAMA: She is a Marine, correct?
HLAD: Yes, she is a Marine. She is a Marine lance corporal.
LALAMA: And sadly, they have an 18-month-old child, I believe?
LALAMA: OK. And you know, Lillian Glass -- before we go to the break -- psychologist and author of "I Know What You`re Thinking," you know, a lot is being made of the wife and her participation in this or the fact that she may still love this man. It`s a hard thing for a wife to be in this situation, is it not?
LILLIAN GLASS, PSYCHOLOGIST: It`s so difficult because a part of her really loves him -- a part of her. That`s the father of her child, and then yet he`s cheated and he`s done something out of the marriage. So she`s very conflicted in the terms of how she feels about him. And it`s really sad.
LALAMA: But isn`t a little odd that -- I mean, he`s alleged to have burned bodies, the body of a pregnant woman, and then have bonfires on top of it. How do you reconcile that in your mind, if you`re a wife?
GLASS: You know, it`s -- obviously this is a man with some severe psychological problems. And he feels very justified. Just the fact that he said, I love her, when he was confronted, that speaks volumes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If convicted, Cesar Laurean faces a sentence of life without parole for the death of Maria Lauterbach. As I indicated earlier, I`m very happy that he was apprehended. Frankly, I`m disappointed that he was arrested in Mexico and not in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we reported last evening, the fugitive Cesar Laurean is now in the custody of the Mexican Federal Police in Mexico City. He is awaiting extradition to answer the charges against him in the tragic death of Maria Lauterbach and her unborn child. Laurean was taken into custody last night at approximately 7:10 PM Eastern time in San Juan Vina, Michoacan, Mexico. Now begins the legal process of his extradition back to Onslow County.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LALAMA: I`m Pat Lalama, in for Nancy Grace. And Sheriff Brown, we apologize for audio problems. We hope that it`s better for you now. Let me ask you, do you expect Corporal Laurean to fight extradition?
BROWN: I don`t have any opinion on that. I don`t know -- I haven`t talked with him. I have corresponded, back to the e-mail that you were talking about, wanting him to validate it, but I did not get a validation on it. If his e-mail to me was correct, it was an indication from him that he wanted to resolve his flee (ph) and come back to Onslow County. If that was his e-mail.
LALAMA: Right. But you`re saying you haven`t confirmed yet whether that is authentically from Corporal Laurean.
BROWN: I responded. However, I learned that he has not been doing any correspondence in the last couple of weeks. So it may be that it was authentic, but I would love to hear him tell me it was.
LALAMA: I`d like to get a caller in, perhaps, for a question for you, Sheriff. Diane from Michigan. Are you with us, Diane?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I sure am. Hello.
LALAMA: Hello. What`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I`d like to know is -- his wife, was she -- he and her shared a marital home, correct...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... where this woman was buried and burned in their back yard.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Did she not notice anything wrong with her back yard?
LALAMA: Well, Sheriff, let`s answer that question because I know we have a little bit of time left with you. Is it the presumption that the wife simply just didn`t know there was anything wrong in her home, in the back yard, in the environment?
BROWN: That is what we have been told by her. I know there`s been a lot of speculations. However, we have to deal with the facts that we know and can prove. And at this time, as strange as it may sound to the average citizen, it`s possible that she did not know this had taken place. I said possible. Stranger things have happened, but...
LALAMA: Right now, she`s off the hook. That`s what you`re saying. Thank you, sir.
To tonight`s "Case Alert." A grandmother working the graveyard shift in a Washington state motel courageously fights off an armed robber, the attack all caught on video. The suspect, knife in hand, jumps over the front desk counter, but Pam Marie Jones (ph) fights back, hitting the perp over the head with a telephone, even managing to rip off his mask. Jones stabbed several times during the assault. Take a look. If you have any information, call Kent police at 253-856-5600.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nearly three months to the day, like in one day, after Laurean was -- after Lauterbach`s body was found over in the shallow grave behind Laurean`s house, he is taken into custody by the authorities down in Mexico. I was not surprised. I told you it was going to happen and it did happen, and it happened much sooner than I expected. But I`ve been following this pursuit step by step, day by day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LALAMA: I`m Pat Lalama, in for Nancy Grace. And Cesar Laurean is now in the hands of Mexican authorities. And we`re honored to have Dewey Hudson with us, the Onslow County district attorney. You know, when I was listening to you today, sir, it sounded like you were extremely disappointed that he is in Mexican hands and not your hands. And I`m guessing that`s because you had to give up the death penalty. Am I right?
DEWEY HUDSON, ONSLOW COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Absolutely. Absolutely. I feel that the crimes that he`s charged with, that he should be facing a capital trial.
LALAMA: And it`s just not going to happen now. But what I`m wondering -- let me ask Charles Swift, former Navy JAG. could the military trump that? Could they say, Well, perhaps the prosecutors said no dice on the death penalty, but we`re going to go for it. Is that possible?
SWIFT: Absolutely. He`s under two different sovereigns. The military has a series of agreements with local authorities, generally, on who would prosecute first. But the military, whether they prosecute first or prosecute second, would retain the right to prosecute as they see fit. Where in North Carolina, as the prosecutor`s indicated there, the case might not well make it to a death penalty stage because there are a lot -- while it`s sensational, it lacks aggravating factors that are necessary for the death penalty. In the military context, they are there because she was witness against him. And the killing of a witness against you is a listed aggravated factor justifying the death penalty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Over the last couple of weeks, we became aware that Cesar Laurean was reaching out and attempting to communicate with family members and persons located in this county. Our office, NCIS, and the FBI acted on that information. And through the service of a search warrant we were able to substantiate that information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LALAMA: I`m Pat Lalama in for Nancy Grace. We haven`t brought in Dr. Zhonghue Hua, Union County, New Jersey medical examiner. And your opinion is important to us because it has to do with the evidence in this case. We`ve got blood in the house. We`ve got burnt corpses. We`ve got a gash in the victim`s neck. We`ve got evidence that Mr. Laurean went to the ATM using her card and at Lowe`s to buy some incriminating products.
Let`s go to the gash in her neck. He tried to say she committed suicide. The evidence shows, according to people in your arena, that`s impossible.
DR. ZHONGXUE HUA, UNION CO., N.J. MEDICAL EXAMINER: Yes. In this case, besides the obvious neck jury you refer to, also had extensive amount of head injury and mainly the skull fracture on the left side of the head and also on the base of the head. And the extent of the head injury would be the direct cause of death. In terms of the inside wound on the left side neck, the medical examiner`s opinion at the time of the autopsy was really -- it`s a superficial in nature, and never really injure any deep muscle, injure the windpipe airway or injure any big vessel. And the medical examiner`s opinion at the time was really it`s -- was sort of incidental finding or -- was not really directly contribute to the cause of death.
LALAMA: So doctor, you`re saying she wouldn`t have -- I mean whatever that wound was, it wasn`t enough to kill her?
HUA: It was not enough. It was superficial in nature. Never really injured the deep muscle of the neck.
LALAMA: Dewey Hudson, Onslow County district attorney, what do you do between now and the time you get this gentleman back to not harm the case? Not taint the case, not let the media hurt the case. You know, what do you do now?
DEWEY HUDSON, ONSLOW CO. SHERIFF`S OFFICE: Well, that`s a very good question. As you know this case has received a tremendous amount of pre- trial publicity and that certainly concerns me whether or not we`ll be able to actually prosecute this case in Onslow County again or whether we`ll have to move it to another county.
LALAMA: Well, but, sir.
HUDSON: There`s not a whole lot that I can do.
LALAMA: Sir, with the national attention, it seems like, you know, is it going to be different anywhere else? Or would he get a fair trial? Would you be able to put on the case any better anywhere else?
HUDSON: Well, that certainly would be my argument if the defense some day were to file a motion for change of venue, that`s exactly what I would argue, is that regardless where the case is tried that this publicity`s going to -- has been throughout America. So I think we have that problem at any county.
LALAMA: Prosecutor Holly Hughes, if it were your case, what would you do?
HOLLY HUGHES, PROSECUTOR: I would absolutely argue against changing venue.
HUGHES: It`s exactly like the Brian Nichols case that we have down here gong on right now. You know, the arguments that you make is exactly what the D.A. just said. Where are you going to go that nobody`s heard of this, Pat? Keep it here, keep it where -- you know, it`s -- we don`t have to transport the jurors back and forth, we don`t have to go to the extra expense to put them up in hotels in another county.
HUGHES: There`s nobody that hasn`t heard of this at this point in time. So what are you going to gain by increasing the cost and taking it somewhere else? Nothing.
LALAMA: Anne Bremner, defense attorney, I don`t think you agree with that, do you?
ANNE BREMNER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No, I mean, this is not a hometown defense. I mean he wants to be somewhere else, and he deserves it. He has a right to a fair trial. In fact, keep in mind, here`s somebody that could have stayed away, that didn`t have to come in and say, OK, I give up. And you know what I tell my clients? Turn yourself in. You know, if he didn`t do it, turn yourself in. He didn`t even ask for any kind of different treatment. And you know what? He can fight extradition for a long time.
There are other defenses, the rule of specialty probable cause, et cetera. I know I`ve defended them. I had one in Hong Kong and won it. So here`s a guy that needs to be defended, but also shouldn`t be convicted right now through any of us, through the media, or the court of public opinion, or in his own jurisdiction that right now has the most publicity I would think.
LALAMA: Lillian Glass, psychologist, you know, he`s been in the jungle for three months, what`s his state of mind now? He -- looks like he got tired of running.
LILLIAN GLASS, PSYCHOLOGIST, AUTHOR OF "I KNOW WHAT YOU`RE THINKING": I think you`re absolutely right. He got tired of running. And when you look at his body language, he looks very relaxed, he looks resigned. It`s like enough.
LALAMA: At peace almost. Yes.
GLASS: Yes. He looks at peace. It`s like enough already. He`s very calm. And that says a lot. That says a lot because the body doesn`t lie. And also just what he said when he was questioned. The first thing he -- that came out of his mouth was I loved her. And that`s kind of like.
LALAMA: Well the loved her - Susan Candiotti -- I`m sorry for interrupting -- Susan, when he said to this reporter, "I loved her," ny presumption was that he meant the victim, correct?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, her question to him was, "Do you -- did you kill Maria Lauterbach?" And his response was, "I loved her." And then someone else asked him if he had anything to say and his response was proof.
LALAMA: What do you think he meant by that?
CANDIOTTI: But he wouldn`t explain exactly what that meant.
LALAMA: Yes. Do you have any reporters` instincts, Susan, as to what he meant by that?
CANDIOTTI: Well, no other than to say, "Look, you -- I know if you come back you`re still going to have to make a case against me." We do know that early on he always maintained to the Marine Corps that he did not rape her. Whether he was referring to that, but in terms of killing, remember, his story was that she slit her own throat. The medical examiner`s office and the authorities don`t believe that. They maintained that she died of blunt-force to the head.
And the one thing to add about that medical examiner`s report is that that neck wound while also being superficial, the medical examiner also said it appeared as though it might have been inflicted after death.
LALAMA: Dewey Hudson, Onslow County district attorney, do I have this right? Murder, ATM card theft, attempted card theft, fraud, robbery with a dangerous weapon? Is that what you`re looking at?
HUDSON: That`s correct.
LALAMA: Let`s just say hypothetically you lost the murder case, I`m just talking hypothetically here, the rest of those charges, that could get him a significant amount of time behind bars, could it not?
HUDSON: Well, I really don`t want to be talking about hypothetic. You know I charged him with the cases that I feel confident that the evidence supports and I feel confident that we can at least get to the jury on all of these charges and then it`ll be up to the jury of 12 citizens to decide whether he`s guilty of each of those charges.
LALAMA: Let`s take a caller. Melissa in Indiana. Hey, Melissa.
MELISSA, INDIANA RESIDENT: Hi, Pat, you`re doing a great job.
LALAMA: Thank you. What`s your question?
MELISSA: Actually it`s kind of already been addressed. My question is that, from what I understand, my husband was in the military and since he is now considered a deserter, that`s punishable by death during wartime.
MELISSA: So why is the military not stepping in and jumping up and down and being, you know, ecstatic that they can actually help out in the situation since we -- I think most of us do want to see him brought to justice.
LALAMA: Well, I`m sorry for interrupting. I think there`s a protocol, is that not right, Charles? That`s how they do these things in investigations?
CHARLES SWIFT, FORMER NAVY JAG, EMORY LAW PROFESSOR: There is a protocol. Now one thing that the caller got wrong is, she got it right that desertion is punishable by death during the time of war. However, it makes the president to make a certain insight to move the table of punishments by declaration, because time of war is a little more elastic than it used to be and the president hasn`t done that in this case.
That`s service wide. So the death penalty currently isn`t punishable by time of war for the purposes of the part. And there`s real questions about the constitutionality of it. More on the protocol.
LALAMA: All right. Let me -- I`m going to have to cut you off right there. I got to get somebody else in here.
Anne Bremner, I`m dying to know, defense attorney, how would you defend this guy? I just can`t wait to hear this. Go ahead.
BREMNER: Well, what I would start with is they -- he should not be extradited on any possibility of death, United States, military or otherwise. And if there`s some protocol that`s going to be used in this to keep -- to allow him to be extradited with death on the table, I don`t know if Mexico will go for it. That`s where I would start first and foremost. But the next thing is in terms of this defense, you know what, I said on this show a while back and Nancy laughed at me, but you know, the whole issue of the wife. You know? I mean there`s a lot -- she turned him in, remember? There`s complicity, her jealous, et cetera.
I don`t know, I don`t know if she would -- he would throw her under the wheels, but that would be something I would look at in defense. And also, where is the evidence? Other than this note that came through the wife that he was involved? I know he had a body in the backyard.
BREMNER: But -- I know that. I think -- there`s a body in the backyard, but there are some defenses here starting with the extradition and then narrowing it to the case.
LALAMA: You defense attorneys, you sit up at night and come up with this stuff, it`s incredible, but we respect you.
When we come back, they lost their two teenage children in a deadly car accident. And now Georgia parents Lee and Debbie Wagner raising awareness and speaking out to young people on a 380-mile charity walk, it`s called "A Walk to Remember."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARY LAUTERBACH, MARINE LANCE CPL. MARIA LAUTERBACH`S MOTHER: "Mom, I`ve been raped." Maria, you have to report this because you have to protect all of the other Marine women to make sure that doesn`t happen to anyone else. She just, "OK, mom." So the next day she went in and reported it. If there are perceived credibility issues, you still must protect the person who is making those claims. You have to protect them. The problem is when someone has a perceived credibility issue, they make themselves the perfect victim.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: NANCY GRACE brought to you by.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It`s the day Lee and Debbie Wagner will never forget. Their lives ripped apart on a Mother`s Day. Their teen children, 18-year-old Jillian and 16-year-old Charles Lee, both killed in a car accident on a Georgia interstate.
Lee Wagner says daughter Jillian behind the wheel when she suddenly swerved to avoid an obstacle. Their jeep flipping several times. Jillian killed instantly. Charles Lee losing his life on the way to the hospital. Now the Wagners are turning their grief into something positive, reaching out to young people and grieving parents.
Their 380-mile charity walk, "A Walk to Remember."
LALAMA: I`m Pat Lalama in for Nancy Grace and I am so thrilled to tell you about these wonderful people. Lee and Debbie Wagner, I know you`re here with me. Thank you so much. Let me -- before I talk to you, let me just say, if you are a grieving parent out there anywhere, you must stay and listen because you two are extraordinary.
First of all, I can`t imagine what you`ve gone through and that you are doing such good with your lives and thank you for that. I know you`ve got a big run coming up, Lee. And I know you had knee surgery? Right?
LEE WAGNER, PARENT OF JILLIAN AND LEE WAGNER: Yes.
LALAMA: You`ve got a big walk. It`s going to be a 380-mile walk. Tell us quickly what you`re going to do and then we`ll talk about why.
L. WAGNER: OK. Well, in memory of my kids, Jillian and Lee, I`m going to walk from the courtyard, Wagner Courtyard at Starr`s Mill High School in Peach Tree City, Georgia, to the United Methodist Church near Winston Salem, North Carolina, which is the home church and the final resting place of Jillian and Lee. I will arrive on Mother`s Day morning, May 11th, which is four years to the date after they left. And I`m walking for therapy, Pat, I`m walking for -- to be able to talk to youth groups that we meet along the way and that we`ve scheduled already to walk with. And I`m walking for grieving parents because I think we have a story to tell.
LALAMA: Yes, you do. And let me tell you. First of all, let me just mention, www.awalktoremember.org, 770-716-5298.
You know what`s extraordinary about the two of you, Debbie, is that you`re not just just doing this for your foundation, which I understand is a scholarship fund, in your children`s names, but you`re getting involved in everybody`s, you`re helping everybody`s causes. I mean how do you do this? You know, there are so many parents who just every -- day when the sun comes up, they`re like I can`t leave the house. Give us some inspiration. How do you do it?
DEBBIE WAGNER, PARENT OF JILLIAN AND LEE WAGNER: With the grace of God, our faith in God. This has kept us going on. And we had to focus something positive into this because this grief will eat you if you let it. So we have focused on doing this walk, mission trips, raising the scholarship money for the kids every year. And we have gave a total of five scholarships at Starr`s Mill High School to a health occupation student the last four years -- coming up this year four.
LALAMA: Do you -- again let me remember -- remind people, awalktoremember.org.
You know, you aren`t the kind of people who sit around and say, why us? Why me? Life is over. I`ve done good, I don`t deserve this. How do you not do that?
L. WAGNER: Well, you can mourn forever. And Debra and I certainly will. But we just -- we want to reach out to other people and let them know that this fraternity of grieving parents, which is an organization that no one wants to be a member of, exists and maybe there`s somebody out that we can help through it, through the darkness, maybe not to a better place, but maybe to a place in time of peace, which is kind of the place that Debra and I have achieved.
LALAMA: I can`t -- I just can`t tell you how extraordinary it is. Debbie, I know Lee`s had knee surgery, are you worried about him?
D. WAGNER: Well, I`m a nurse. I`ve been a nurse for 28 years. And.
LALAMA: Yes, and you treat AIDS patients, correct?
D. WAGNER: HIV positive patients, CDC AIDS in Atlanta. Love my job, my patients are wonderful. The support we have from our family, our friends, our places that we work at. Everybody has been behind us. Lee.
LALAMA: Well, listen, I don`t want to have to cut you off. But I want to quick, because we`ve only got a few seconds, awalktoremember.org, 770-716- 5298.
Bless you both and the best to you both. You`re just extraordinary.
L. WAGNER: Thank you.
Tonight, CNN Heroes.
L. WAGNER: Thank you.
D. WAGNER: Thank you.
VIOLA VAUGHN, CHAMPIONING CHILDREN: When a girl reaches the age when she can help in the house, the mother starts keeping this girl at home. That girl begins missing school, missing homework, and she starts to fail. It`s a downward cycle.
My name is Viola Vaughn. I came to Senegal from Detroit, Michigan. I started a girls` education and self-sufficiency program. I have put a limitation of 100 girls. I said that`s the maximum, that`s all I was going to do.
I came to the Senegal to retire. And the girls said no. We want to take it to 10,000. We take girls who have already failed in school. They learn how to perfect a skill, to produce products for export. We have the pastry shops. In the sewing workshops, they make sheets, they make dolls, they make any kind of household linens. Half of the funds goes back to them. The other remainder goes into the education program.
Come on, give me hug. We do this all the time.
They are passing schools. They are opening businesses. I see the success. Right now, we already have seven girls in universities. It`s their program and they run everything. I`m there just to make sure all the I`s are dots and the T`s are crossed.
Here I am retired and this is the best job I have ever had in my life.
ANNOUNCER: "CNN HEROES" is sponsored by.
Nominate someone you know at CNN.com/heroes for the chance to see them on as a "CNN HERO."
LALAMA: (INAUDIBLE) making headlines this week.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Court documents described how investigators found several teenage mothers and pregnant teenage girls. They described a widespread pattern and practice of young girls conditioned to marry and accept sexual activities with adult men.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Hundreds of children, about 130 women, literally hauled off by the bus load from a 1700-acre compound. Apparently child molestation rampant.
CANDIOTTI: This is just really hard to look at when you see this videotape. The first time we see this young girl, she is crawled up in a fetal position on the sofa. And you see girls beating her about the head.
GRACE: But they videoed it, Susan Candiotti. Is it true that they actually videoed it so they can put it on YouTube and MySpace?
CANDIOTTI: You hear the girls saying this on tape. They`re telling her, we`re getting back at you because you were trash-talking us on your MySpace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Teacher turned sex offender Debra LaFave will be released from house arrest three months early if she stays out of trouble.
GRACE: Why even have child molestation laws on the books if all you need is a pretty face and a set of legs to woo the judge in court?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This one is about as sick as it gets, a 47-year-old man is caught in his boxer shorts in a Super Eight motel with two girls. Their ages? 15 and 16.
GRACE: How did this guy get transferred from one school to the next, to the next, to the next as schoolteacher then an assistant principal, finally a principal? He starts his first job in 1994. In 2008, he`s already been, one, two, three, four, five jobs that we know of. Ding, ding, ding, red bell of alarm.
LALAMA: Tonight, let`s stop to remember Army Sergeant First Class Jonathan Lowery, 38 from Houlton, Maine. On a second tour of duty earning more than 45 awards and declarations during his military career, including a gold star and the Purple Heart. A dedicated father, friend and soldier. He loved writing letters to his two sons. He leaves behind parents (INAUDIBLE) and Francis, Sean and Dawson, four brothers and sister Michelle.
Jonathan Lowery, an American hero.
Thank you to all of our guests and to you at home for being with us. See you tomorrow night, 8:00 p.m. sharp, Eastern. Until then, have a great evening. Good night, everybody.