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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Criminal Record for Missing Girl`s Father?
Aired February 23, 2009 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, shocking updates in the disappearance of Haleigh Cummings. Little brother Junior reportedly told their mother that a man dressed in black entered the home and took Haleigh. Is this stunning clue enough to help police crack the case?
And an interview with Haleigh`s father Ronald boils over as the reporter confronts him with allegations that he hit his daughter and sold drugs. We`ll tell you Ronald`s angry response to those claims.
And what happened with a reported Haleigh sighting in Tennessee? Was it another dead end?
Then, a horrific crime as an 11-year-old boy is charged with shooting dead his father`s pregnant fiance. The reported murder weapon? A shotgun given to him by his dad as a Christmas present. What ever happened to giving a toy train? Unbelievably, the 11-year-old was being held in an adult jail. I`ll have the details on this tragic story about America`s gun culture.
Plus, we all know Octomom Nadya Suleman. Meet Octodad, or at least the man who claims to be the octuplet donor. Denis Beaudoin says he donated sperm to Suleman three times because he was in love with her. You won`t believe some of the creepy details.
And Suleman`s father questions her sanity on national TV. I`ll have the latest bizarre twists in this shocking story.
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stunning twists and turns tonight in the desperate search for missing Florida girl Haleigh Cummings. Startling new allegations that her father, Ron Cummings, hit Haleigh, abused her mother while she was pregnant with Haleigh, and used illegal drugs. All of these accusations made by little Haleigh`s mother, Crystal Sheffield.
Sheffield was interviewed over the weakened by Geraldo Rivera on FOX. Here are her shocking comments about Haleigh`s father, Ron.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CRYSTAL SHEFFIELD, HALEIGH`S MOTHER: My cousin Candice told me when we got down here for this incident that he come to her house. It was Ronald, Haleigh, Junior, and Misty. And Haleigh bumped into him or smarted off to him, and she said he just backhanded her, and she fell flat on her face on the porch.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ron Cummings left with no choice but to respond to those allegations. Clearly, he was not very happy and called the claims lies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD CUMMINGS, HALEIGH`S FATHER: Never, ever have I ever hit my child. Me and my child have an agreement. Daddy, daughter, she has been spanked on her behind the way DCF says that you can take care of disciplining your children.
GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: You never backhanded her to the face?
CUMMINGS: Never. Never have I ever backhanded my child in the face. Ever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Parents already in anguish, being torn further apart by a nasty war of words. How relevant is any of this to little Haleigh`s disappearance? We will debate that.
Also tonight, reports that Haleigh`s younger brother, Junior, says he saw a man in black take Haleigh away. Could his account of that fateful fight two weeks ago -- it`s been two weeks -- help find his big sister?
So much to talk about. And as always, I am taking your calls. But first, let`s go straight to my fabulous panel. Darren Kavinoky, criminal defense attorney; and Drew Findling, Atlanta criminal defense attorney. Plus, we`re going to talk to the Reverend Terry Wright, the pastor for Haleigh Cummings` family, as well as Deirdre Conner, a reporter for the "Florida Times-Union."
Deirdre, what is the very latest? And we`re hearing something about a rap sheet involving Ron Cummings.
DEIRDRE CONNER, REPORTER, "FLORIDA TIMES-UNION": Well, Jane, the newest, as you said, there`s an increase in the reward. They`re continuing to follow up with a number of family members.
But the real news is that there`s no news in terms of leads or solid information that`s been given to the media about the disappearance of Haleigh.
And in terms of the arrest, the "Times-Union" and Jacksonville.com reported last week on some arrests of the father, Ronald Cummings, in 2001 and other previous years. But there were no convictions in those cases.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.
Darren Kavinoky, this is only relevant, I think, if it helps us find little Haleigh. And obviously we`ve got a Hatfields and McCoys situation down there right now, where these two sides of the family are at loggerheads, fighting with each other.
And my question is, is it relevant, given the fact that the sheriff`s department said that Ron, the father`s, alibi checked out? In other words, he was at work and raced home when he found out his daughter was missing. And he`s heard on the 911 call, which we`re going to play momentarily.
DARREN KAVINOKY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I agree with you, that the only way this becomes relevant is if it helps investigators track down people who may have had a motive to do harm to Ron or to his family.
But if he`s not a target in the investigation, then the notion that he had committed criminal acts in the past, it`s really not important, except perhaps in the court of public opinion.
And it`s just so interesting. I really feel for this family. And I know they must be in a tremendous amount of pain. But when I heard Haleigh`s biological mom describing what had been related to her about how Haleigh had been backhanded, you get into these reliability issues and these hearsay problems. And what`s her motivation?
And this is the least reliable kind of evidence. And there`s no reason to slander Dad if he`s not a target in this investigation. All of the energy should be directed at helping to find this missing little girl.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I couldn`t agree more. And the reason we`re discussing it is that there is a possibility that somewhere in all of this information, there is something that would help us solve this mystery of what happened to this child who was taken while she was fast asleep. Nobody can make heads or tails out of it.
Now, Haleigh`s mother, Crystal Sheffield, says Haleigh wasn`t the only one abused at the hands of Ron Cummings. Listen to another incident that she described on FOX.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHEFFIELD: We were living in Leesburg at his mother`s house. And I had just found out I was pregnant. We were both doing cocaine. And I stopped. And I walked in the bedroom, and he was doing it. And I was like, "You know, how are you going to do this in front of me after I just found out I was pregnant and I just stopped?"
And he got very pissed off. And I had my -- I was facing -- I had my back turned to him. He punched me in the head. And then I turned around, and he kicked me off the bed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. Now, these two have been at loggerheads before. And as we`ve been discussing, can she really be counted on as an unbiased source?
And we have to point out, Drew Findling, that it was Ron who got custody of the kids, potentially meaning that he was considered the better parent at the end of the day.
DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely. There`s no doubt that that is an issue here. There was a determination by a court that taking these two parents and, comparing them to one another, he would be the better parent. The child would be better off, or the children would be better off in the custody of him.
But apparently, he`s holding off at making allegations at the mom. And the reason why he is and he shouldn`t, it has nothing to do with the pathology of abduction. Because that`s the issue here, the pathology of abduction and who would abduct and secret away a child. This is all a distraction and frankly, this is a time when media and press don`t serve a purpose.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. I -- Pastor Terry Wright, you are the pastor for Haleigh Cummings` family. We`re so happy that you`re joining us tonight. Because perhaps you could make sense of all the friction that is going on down there, as obviously the frustration level mounts, now that we are two weeks since little Haleigh disappeared.
What do you make -- I`m sure you`ve heard of all of the goings-on here and the claims and counter-claims involving Haleigh`s biological mother and father. What do you make of all of it, sir?
REV. TERRY WRIGHT, PASTOR FOR CUMMINGS FAMILY: You know, Jane, it`s a tragic situation. Ronald joined our church about three years ago. So a lot of the incidents y`all have been talking about happened prior to me coming to know Ronald and being his friend.
But it`s certainly tragic. Here are two young people who are very bright when you get to know them off camera. If you really sit down and talk with them. And they`ve made choices throughout the early years of their life that`s really impacted them. And that`s tragic.
And now there`s a 5-year-old girl missing, and that is just so terrible. And so our hope and prayer first is for Haleigh, that she comes back. And then after that, you know, hopefully we`ll spend some time with Ronald and Crystal and do some working on some reconciliation and healing of the relationship.
So it`s -- you know, it`s just -- it`s bad all the way around. And we`re just praying the best for Haleigh right now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. And Ashley, everyone`s hearts go out to all involved here. Who knows how we would behave in a similar situation when we`re desperate for a child that has been missing for two weeks.
Deirdre Conner, I want to go back to something that just broke, just as we were about to go on the air. And that is that a local station down there, WESH, is reporting that Haleigh`s mother has a fiance and that that fiance was interviewed by investigators today. What do you know?
CONNER: Well, I think it`s pretty clear prom the police that they are talking to everybody involved in this situation, whether it`s family, people in the area. They searched the area very extensively. So I wouldn`t be surprised to hear that any member of the very large families involved here would be interviewed at some point.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Darren, here`s the thing that I`m getting out of this, is that we`ve got a cast of characters. Obviously, there`s the possibility of a stranger abduction, but there seems to be a sense down there, that how would somebody have known to go in there at that moment had they not known this family?
So it`s like everybody is looking at each other and developing suspicions, and a vacuum has been created because authorities are not excluding anyone as suspects.
KAVINOKY: Right. And with the passage of time, those kinds of suspicions only fester and grow worse, and people are more concerned about her well-being. And as a result of that, they become more desperate. It really is a horrible situation for that.
And, of course, in any child abduction, there`s always concern about family members. And those are going to be the first people that you talk to.
And your point is a great one, Jane. How is it that somebody other than a person with inside knowledge is going to be able to carry this crime out in the way that it was done? It really is a tough situation.
And I just want to digress for one moment here. I think the value that the media really brings to this is to keep all of these points in -- in focus, because without media coverage, we`re -- this little girl is not going to be on our radar.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. And the reward is up -- it`s up to, I think, $41,000, right, Deirdre?
CONNER: Yes, that`s what we understand.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow. The reward keeps rising. Keep your eyes on that little girl`s photo. We`ve got to find her.
All right, everyone. Stay right there. And don`t forget: Nancy Grace is up immediately following this program at 8 p.m. Eastern. She will have the very latest in the search for little Haleigh Cummings.
And right here on ISSUES, we are just getting started. I want to hear your take on the stunning developments in the search for Haleigh Cummings. Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.
Do you think father Ronald Cummings has anger issues? Or is he reacting the way you would in this situation? Here is his intense 911 call when Haleigh was first reported missing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: I just got home from work. My 5-year-old daughter is gone. I need somebody to be here now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen to me, listen to me, we got two options.
CUMMINGS: If I find whoever has my daughter before y`all do, I`m killing him. I don`t care. I`ll spend the rest of my life in prison. I`m telling you, you can put it on the record. I don`t care.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. It`s OK, sir. We got them on the way. OK, can you give me any -- what kind of description of her pajamas that she was wearing?
CUMMINGS: I don`t (EXPLETIVE DELETED) know. I was at work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: Please bring my daughter home. She`s not yours. She`s not property. You know, she`s not something that you just take and say, it`s mine, or whatever. This is my daughter. This is blood. And I would like to have my daughter back, please. Please bring my daughter home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was Ron Cummings, the father of missing 5-year- old Haleigh Cummings, pleading for his daughter`s safe return. We are back taking your calls on all the latest shocking developments in the Haleigh Cummings case.
Phone lines lighting up. Tana, West Virginia, your question or thought, ma`am?
CALLER: Yes, Jane. I enjoy your show. My question is that Ron Cummings, his record as far as drugs has been made public. But how about the biological mother? Has anybody ever checked into her drug use or drug arrests?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Deirdre, my understanding is that she admitted -- well, actually, I saw it on camera, too, having used cocaine at one point. And she said she stopped when she found out she was pregnant.
CONNER: Yes, that`s correct. She has admitted that. That did come up in the custody hearing. But ultimately, the judge awarded custody to the father, because he had insurance coverage for the children and, you know, a very -- a variety of other things. But she did admit cocaine use, yes.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Mary in Texas, question or thought?
CALLER: Yes. I`m -- I have a question. My question is this. I know it hasn`t been proven, but if the biological mother is accusing the father of abusing the child, then why would she allow him custody or let him have the child?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think that`s a legal question for Drew Findling. Because if the courts grant custody to the dad, then that`s a done deal, right?
FINDLING: Well, it`s kind of late in the game to all of a sudden, given this tragedy, start casting aspersions at the father. I mean, let`s take this and really lay it out there for what it is.
She`s making all these allegations against him. He`s living with the child -- with the children with a 15-year-old girlfriend, and yet, he continues to have custody of the child. So at the same time, that`s saying something about the mom.
Look, it`s a messy situation all the way around. It just is. And I think that`s something that law enforcement is dealing with and probably not sharing so much with us right now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Pastor Wright, have you had any contact with Ron in the wake of some of these negative stories that are coming out about him? And how is that impacting him? I would assume this guy -- it must be hell for him right now just not having his daughter, and then his home is a crime scene. He`s living outside in the fields, even though I think he got a trailer. I mean, what`s he going through?
WRIGHT: Well, you know, I`ve got to tell you. It`s horrific what he`s going through. And I think what`s hurt him the most is the accusations that he actually hit and abused his daughter.
The other night I was with him right after that broke, and he vehemently denied it to me. As a matter of fact, he described it to me -- he said, "Look, I have not hit my daughter. I don`t do that. I`ve never done that." He is vehemently denying that. That really hurts. Because the focus needs to be on finding his daughter, not evaluating his parenting skills.
WRIGHT: I don`t know about you, but I`m not a perfect parent. OK, I`ve made my mistakes. And if my daughter was missing -- I have an 11- year-old daughter, Madison, just turned 11 yesterday -- I would not want her and my parenting skills being evaluated while she`s still missing. So I think he`s just frustrated that it seems that things are shifting from finding Haleigh to evaluating his parenting skills.
FINDLING: You know, Jane, in defense of Ron Cummings, in just a few minutes, we`re going to talk about a case where somebody waited a month to report their child missing. This man got home from work and was hysterical on the phone.
And anybody that`s done these cases before and tried these cases before can hear on the phone he did nothing wrong. And this is really a distraction from looking for the real person that could help us find this child.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, let me say this. At one of the first news conferences, father Ron pleaded for Haleigh`s safe return. But something stood out to some of us. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: Bring her back anonymous. Give her to someone else to bring back. However she gets back, we want her back safe. If you`ve done something with her, tell us where she`s at, if she`s OK. Something. We just -- I want my daughter back. That`s all I want. I want my daughter back. I`m not out for revenge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Notice that he uses the word "revenge." Now, the ex says that he has a lot of enemies. He says he has no enemies. I would assume, Darren Kavinoky, that investigators are trying to track down anyone that`s had a run-in with Ron, and that, to me, is the only way this could possibly be relevant.
KAVINOKY: Yes. And as I sit here and listen to it, and, of course, sit in judgment of it, it makes me think, well, wait a second. This guy knows who`s got his child. And those remarks seem to be addressed to that person. Or he`s got some suspicions about it.
But it`s just -- it`s hard to imagine the amount of stress that this family is under, and that he`s under as the custodial father. It`s tough for anyone of us to judge what we would say or do or -- when we`re in those circumstances.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to ask about, Deirdre Conner, the child, Junior, who was 3 at the time, now 4, is reportedly saying a man in black took Haleigh out. What do we know about that?
CONNER: Well, that`s something that has come up in the past. And, of course, like I said, they did interview everybody. Understand the little boy just turned 4. And, you know, it`s hard to say what to make of that. Everybody has made statements to the police about what they believe happened.
I wanted to correct one thing that was said earlier.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`ve got to hang on for one second. We`re going to have more on this case in just a moment. Everybody sit tight. Another tragic story, an 11-year-old boy -- an 11-year-old boy -- is charged with killing his dad`s pregnant fiance with a shotgun that he was given on Christmas.
Now the debate rages over whether to charge him as an adult. But what about the debate over whether to give an 11-year-old a gun for Christmas?
And an update on Octomom. You won`t believe what she`s doing now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK HOUK, KENZIE HOUK`S FATHER: I don`t know anybody in the whole world that would want to kill a 26-year-old beautiful daughter like mine and take a child. I don`t know who would be crazy enough or nutty enough to want to do something like that. It`s just -- I hope they find out who it is and they take them to -- their life, or whatever they`ve got to do with them. It`s horrifying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A father is mourning the brutal slaying of his daughter today, allegedly at the hands of an 11-year-old boy. How is that possible?
Kenzie Houk, a pregnant 26-year-old mother of two, shot to death Friday. Authorities now contend her live-in boyfriend`s 11-year-old son pulled the trigger. The child shot her in the back of the head as she slept. A shocking but all too familiar case in America today. And it begs the question, when will our society stop putting guns into the hands of children?
Back with me, Darren Kavinoky.
Darren, so many issues. But let`s start with the fact that this 11- year-old was taken to an adult jail, where he is too small to even fit in the clothes they gave him. This strikes me as insane, but apparently in Pennsylvania, they can charge anyone over the age of 10 as an adult. Why?
KAVINOKY: Well, prosecutors are really in a quandary over this one. Under Pennsylvania law, as you point out, Jane, that if you`re over 10 years old and you commit a homicide, then they can charge you as an adult, although the facilities where they house people who are pending charges are ill-equipped to handle children. They -- they -- you know, the clothes don`t fit. They can`t mix with other inmates. It really is creating some logistical nightmares for everybody in charge.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, it doesn`t make sense to me, because he`s a child.
Take a look at the type of gun allegedly used in this case. Police say the boy got a gun like this for Christmas as a gift from his dad, so he could learn to hunt. Gun laws in Pennsylvania are known to be lax. But should the father, Darren, be facing any criminal penalties or charges, given that he allegedly gave his child the very gun which that child then, in turn, used to kill his own fiance?
KAVINOKY: Yes, it`s a fantastic question, Jane. The short answer is probably not. There`s -- there`s a host of civil liabilities that may attach as far as negligent -- negligent entrustment or negligent supervision, things of that nature.
But there are all sorts of crimes that are based on extreme types of negligence. For example, if I shoot into a building that`s occupied, even though I don`t intend to kill anybody, it`s so negligent that I can be charged with murder. Giving a child a gun, not the same.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me give you this. We have shocking video to show you of how children shoot guns. Now none of these kids, mind you, were involved in any way in any legal cases whatsoever, but you`ve just got to see it. Kids shooting guns. The video is shocking.
And it`s even more shocking when you consider that there was a similar case in Arizona where an 8-year-old boy shot and killed his father and another man. This was also recent. And, again, this kid was playing with guns, learned how to use them to hunt, Darren.
KAVINOKY: Yes. But you know the interesting thing, Jane, is there are some areas of the country where this is just not considered to be unusual at all. You know, you and I...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That`s what I`m saying.
KAVINOKY: ... get to sit back as observers from the -- from the big city, where this would be highly unusual in my neighborhood and I suspect in yours. But in much of the country, kids are -- are taught to hunt and given guns by their folks. It really is a troublesome situation.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We may have to look at that, parents, and decide maybe that`s not such a great idea.
Darren, thank you so much.
We all know the Octomom, but now the man claiming to be Octodad wants his time in the spotlight. You won`t want to miss this strange development.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Police search frantically for 5-year-old Haleigh Cummings. Could a tip from her little brother provide the key? Junior reportedly told her mom that a man dressed in black entered the home and snatched Haleigh.
And Haleigh`s father Ronald snaps as a reporter confronts him with allegations that he hid his daughter and sold drugs. We`ll tell you his reaction.
Plus, we all know octo-mom Nadya Suleman. Well, now octo-dad wants his 15 minutes. The man claiming to be the octuplets donor`s speaks out saying he donated to Suleman three times because he was in love with her.
I`ll have the strange details.
All the latest on octo-mom in just minutes.
But first, more on missing five-year-old Haleigh Cummings: a new war of words has erupted between Haleigh`s two parents as Haleigh`s little brother reportedly says he saw a man in black take Haleigh.
Could little junior`s comments be the key to solving this horrible mystery? I`m back with Reverend Terry Wright, pastor for Haleigh Cummings` family. As well as Deirdre Conner, a reporter with a Florida Times Union, and a very, very patient Arlene from Florida who has been waiting on line a long time. Your question or thought, Arlene?
ARLENE, FROM FLORIDA: I would like to know if anyone took fingerprints of the brick that was holding the back door open. That maybe the 17-year-old went out and put the brick there so that she could get back in. Because who would open a door and steal a child and put a brick on the door?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well Deirdre, any thoughts? I`m sure they dusted everything.
DEIRDRE CONNER, TIMES UNION, FL REPORTER: Well, yes and in fact the trailer where this all happened is still a crime scene and no one is allowed back into that trailer. And the family is actually camping out in another part of the neighborhood because they can`t go back home.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, let`s talk a little bit, pastor, about the child, junior, who was three at the time that his big sister disappeared two weeks ago, who is now four. He said that he saw -- reportedly said that he saw a man in black take the child away.
What do you know about this because it seems odd that we`re hearing about this now, a couple of weeks in?
REV. TERRY WRIGHT, CUMMINGS` FAMILY PASTOR: Yes. I don`t know a whole of lot about that, Jane. I know that junior is concerned because his sissy is lost. And that`s what`s really registering to him. I`m not sure about his witness of a man in black. I`ve heard that, as you have.
But don`t know much about it. I just know that I was with him a couple of nights ago. He`s just, you know, sissy is lost. When is she coming home?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Right, and of course the investigators are going to have to determine whether this child is wanting to be helpful and saying something. Children are very suggestible. Or if in fact he did see a man in black.
Now, this comment by Ron stood out to me; it went by very quickly. Listen carefully.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, besides junior, do you have another child?
RONALD CUMMINGS, FATHER OF HALEIGH CUMMINGS: Haleigh.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Besides Haleigh and Junior?
CUMMINGS: I don`t know. Possibly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Pastor, what does it mean? Possibly more children.
WRIGHT: Not sure. I`m not sure what that means.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think one of the reasons that we`re discussing all this is that there seems to be an expanding cast of characters. We heard that the biological mother`s fiance, was interrogated or interviewed by the authorities today.
Now we`re hearing that he possibly has other children. Perhaps there is somebody else that that connects to. That`s why there are so many question marks in this case. And it`s got to be, boy, a handful for investigators, right, Reverend?
WRIGHT: Oh, yes. I imagine. I mean, look. Neither person in this thing lived a perfect life you know, mom or dad and we`ve all made our mistakes. And certainly there`s a lot of things that is confusing this issue right now, Jane. And investigators are having a hard time finding that one clue that leads them to the end of this road.
But I will tell you this. Let me just tell you, the family`s confidence in our local law enforcement is unshakable. Both sides of the family, Crystal as well as Ronald, have complete confidence that our sheriff`s office along with the FBI and FDLA have done all they can -- are doing all they can to bring little Haleigh home.
WRIGHT: And so as much as there`s a lot of confusion with issues they are confident that things are being done right.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Reverend, I thank you again for joining us. And please know that --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: -- all of our hearts go out to everybody involved in this. It`s got to be hell right now for all sides of the family. And the only reason we`re discussing this is that we are hopeful that somehow we can help solve the mystery and put that child`s face out there. And that somebody will call and we will find this child alive and we pray that that is so.
Thank you, Reverend. And Deirdre Conner, thank you as well.
WRIGHT: Thank you.
CONNER: Thank you.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Great reporting.
Turning now to another war of words: this one in the Caylee Anthony murder case. The former meter reader who discovered Caylee`s skeletal remains in December has drawn a line in the sand. Roy Kronk is demanding that bounty hunter Leonard Padilla stop making statements in the media that somehow link him to the Anthony family.
He says that Padilla has ruined his reputation. But what if Padilla just keeps talking? The answer in just a moment.
Meantime, expect fireworks in that other civil matter. You know the one the attorney for George and Cindy Anthony says, he`s going to go to court, before allowing his clients to be deposed in the Zenaida Gonzalez case. They are supposed to be questioned in three days.
As for Casey Anthony`s defense team, they are saying it was outrageous and cruel for jailhouse personnel to videotape her reaction to news that a child`s remains had been found.
Does doubling over twice and hyperventilating equal consciousness of guilt? Let`s get some answers to all these questions. Still with me: Drew Findling, Atlanta criminal defense attorney and Ashleigh Banfield, anchor on the Legal Network, "In Session."
Ashleigh, does Casey`s defense team have a point when they denounce investigators for secretly videotaping Casey`s reaction to the remains being found? Or is this a fair tactic? It`s a criminal prosecution. They would like to show consciousness of guilt.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR OF "IN SESSION": Well, if you`re incarcerated you should know you don`t have any privacy. Not on a telephone and not anywhere in the facility. And I don`t care if you`re getting a nurse`s update. Yes, your actions can speak volumes.
I think there`s a bigger issue here, though, and that is whether if you double over and are upset by the news that remains are found and you`re a mother whose child is missing, it can mean two things. You`re devastated that your child may not be coming home or you`re devastated that somebody found bones that maybe you put there.
I don`t think you can read it either way on that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well Drew Findling, the only reason why prosecutors are implying that it could be consciousness of guilt is that there were other sightings, there were other moments where they thought remains were found and there is no report of her having any kind of similar reaction.
And remember, this was before the remains were identified as being Caylee`s.
DREW FINDLING, ATLANTA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, two-fold. One, we`re talking skeletal remains found very, very close to the house, number one.
Number two, regarding the issue of privacy, let`s make this clear. We`re not talking about just walking and talking and having casual conversation. We`re talking about something surreptitiously set up by law enforcement to induce the criminally accuse and not being investigated but indicted for murder to get a physical reaction, which is the equivalent of a statement.
I guarantee you if these lawyers know what they`re doing, they are coming guns slinging into court; terrible move by the prosecution.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Do you really think so?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Because I would think as a juror sitting there watching her doubling over and hyperventilating at that moment, I would say, "Hey, that would be very powerful indicator that perhaps she is reacting because she knows something that other people don`t know."
FINDLING: Well, it may be, but you know what, you have to come with every emotion that you can. And when you see sneaky work like this, because you have to remember, at this stage in the game with indictment, the work of law enforcement is an extension of the prosecution. They`re the same.
And when you see a setup job like this, it`s just bad lawyering, bad prosecution, bad investigation. And you`ve got to stick it up their throat.
BANFIELD: You know what, as far as conscience and guilt goes, I`m not as concerned about this behavior and this videotape that may or may not make it into court. I think what could really fry this young woman is false statements. Because that`s the kind of thing if proven, judges can actually instruct juries that they can consider false statements part of consciousness of guilt on behalf of the defendant.
That is where Casey could be in a lot of trouble.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, we`ve got to get to this next issue. Roy Kronk says bounty hunter, Leonard Padilla, is trashing him in the media. Listen to what Padilla told Nancy Grace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY GRACE, "THE NANCY GRACE SHOW" HOST: So what`s your theory? And how is Kronk somehow part of a conspiracy? Go ahead and tell me.
LEONARD PADILLA, BOUNTY HUNTER: Well, we know that the defense is the one that`s benefiting by the confusion right now as to the finding of the body and how it was found. How did somebody get word to Kronk to get out there? I think he was the end of a daisy chain that started with Casey and two or three people in the middle there. And I mean, he says he saw something white out there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Drew, Kronk says stop that or you`re going to be in trouble. And Leonard Padilla`s response is if you want a legal fight, saddle up. Is this just another side show or is this possibly a big deal?
FINDLING: Well, on the one hand, it`s another side show. But I have to say when you go through -- when you go online like all the viewers can do and you read the discovery in this case, you know, it wasn`t a very good move to come out and say -- and we`ve talked about in this show, immediately the meter reader was not a suspect.
Because when you read the investigative summary, that meter reader stuff is bizarre. It is crazy. It`s a lot more detailed than all of us thought. Now, does that make him part of the case? Probably not.
But I think it was discounted way too early. And unfortunately, it opens the doors for people that are opportunists to make accusations, to get a little publicity and get themselves on TV.
BANFIELD: But when it comes to defamation though, truth is the ultimate defense.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I just want to say that the police say Roy Kronk is a hero. He used his gut and he found the remains and we`re going to have to go with what the police say.
Ashleigh and Drew, thank you so much.
Nancy Grace will have the very latest on the Caylee Anthony murder case. She is up next at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
And here on "ISSUES," I will have an update on octo-mom, Nadya Suleman. The man claiming to be the octuplet`s donor wants he`s side in the limelight. Wait until you hear all that crazy developments that have just happened. Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS, that`s 1-877-586-7297 to sound off on octo-mom, next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re familiar with the octo-mom, but up next, you will get a glimpse at the octo-dad, or at least the guy claiming to be the octuplet donor.
But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.
A break in the Chandra Levy murder mystery: you may remember, this case was a national obsession back in 2001. Levy was killed in May of that year and many pointed the finger at her secret lover, then Congressman Gary Condit. Police are now reported close to arresting a suspect in this murder.
No official word has been released, but cops are expected to arrest and charge Ingmar Guandique. Guandique, an illegal immigrant, is already behind bars are for attacking two female joggers with a knife close to where Levy`s remains were found.
Though never charged, Gary Condit political career was ruined by the Levy murder but he now hopes to clear his name entirely by publishing a book telling his side of the story.
That`s tonight`s "Top of the Block."
More twists and turns tonight in the never-ending octo-mom outrage drama. A man who says he donated sperm to Nadya Suleman on three different occasions has come forward. Now Denis Beaudoin tells ABC`s "Good Morning America" that he wants a paternity test.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CUOMO, ABC ANCHOR: How far do you want to take it?
DENIS BEAUDOIN, CLAIMS TO BE SULEMAN`S SPERM DONOR: I would like a DNA test. And like whether or not it is or it isn`t, I still extend my hand in help.
CUOMO: You`ll help even if they`re not your kids?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Beaudoin says he made those sperm donations at home. Get this. Are you sitting down? Suleman kept the sperm sample warm by placing the cup between her breasts.
Just when you thought this story couldn`t get stranger, it goes to a whole new level of total weirdness.
I`m taking your calls, of course. But first let`s get to my fantastic panel: Debbie Glasser, clinical psychologist; Paul Callan, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; Pete Demetriou, legendary reporter from L.A. KFWB News 980 and A.J. Hammer, the host of HLN`s "Showbiz Tonight."
Thank you so much for joining us, A.J. Always love to have you.
You`ve been tracking this case. Why would this man who already has two of his own kids want to get involved in this chaotic drama and put his face out there?
A.J. HAMMER, HLN HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": First off Jane and most importantly I think I`d like to say I`m happy about this because now we can at least say octo-dad and not have to say octo-mom all the time. We have something new to talk about.
First, let me give you a cynical A.J. Have you ever heard the name Denis Beaudoin before? No, probably not. Here we are talking about him. This is what happens when cases like this come along and you remember what happened with Anna Nicole Smith. Everybody and their brother and father came out saying, "I`m the daddy." Prince Von Anhalt, Zsa Zsa Gabor`s husband even coming out and saying he was the dad.
So that could be a little of what`s going on here maybe coming after the 15 minutes. However, that said, we don`t really know what this guy`s motives are. He has said that he has a big custody battle he`s had to endure over his son and he does not want the same sort of drama to befall these octuplets. Well, guess what, I think a little too late on that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. That ship has sailed. In fact, we have a new bizarre development: a face-to-face confrontation between octo-mom and octo-granny courtesy of Radar Online. Take a gander at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA SULEMAN, NADYA SULEMAN`S MOTHER: You should have considered your other six children.
NADYA SULEMAN, OCTUPLET`S MOM: Okay, but I still was going to use -- I was not going to destroy the embryos. Period. Done, done, done. It`s already done. You can`t go back and ring a bell. You can`t go back and ring a bell. You can`t go back and alter the past.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think she meant you can`t go back and unring a bell. But Pete Demetrious, that aside, remember when we heard that octo- mom said she was not going to do a reality show, that looks kind of like a reality show right there.
PETE DEMETRIOU, REPORTER L.A. KFWB NEWS 980: Well, it could a reality show, Jane, to say the least. But I think there are a couple of other interesting issues regarding what`s going on with Beaudoin and everyone on this thing.
The question about paternity, we`ve got legal people on the panel; I`d like them to go into it. But I talked with three lawyers today and they frankly said unless there was some indication that the sperm donation was made under false pretenses or some other irregularity there, he actually has no right to request any kind of a DNA test or anything at all.
Although there is a possibility, possibility given a court`s trend toward the parents of biological -- well, if you want to call it donor`s rights -- that if there was something irregular with the way the donation was made --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think that there is a growing trend toward parental rights of the sperm donor. Paul Callan couldn`t we envision, if in fact, his DNA tests out and he is the biological father of one or all of these 14, couldn`t we see a legal battle if he, in fact, wants to get involved and she doesn`t want him involved?
PAUL CALLAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it`s an interesting fact pattern here. And I think what you would see is that he would not have the right to force himself into the picture. But the reverse might be true.
Let`s say the children -- it certainly looks this way -- are going to have problems being supported because the mother is poverty-stricken. Couldn`t the state sue him for child support?
You know, there`s been a lot of speculation in legal circles that sperm donors had better be careful because if a child is conceived and cannot be supported, why should the state support the child? So I think if these children have economic problems, maybe there could be a lawsuit against him if he`s the biological father. But, of course, we don`t even know if that`s true.
VELEZ-MICHELL: Well, A.J. Hammer, when cases like this evolve and you and I have seen it, people come out of the woodwork.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And given that there are 14 kids and medically it`s very possible that they have several fathers. There`s no -- even though she says it`s one person -- she`s been known to be inconsistent about other facts. Is it possible that we`re going to see other men coming forward and saying, "Hey, I`m the dad?"
HAMMER: I think it`s a pretty sure bet at this point. I don`t know if we will see Prince Von Anhalt come out in this particular case. But the interesting thing about Denis Beaudoin, he`s coming out and saying, "Hey, I do want to take ownership of the fact that I`m probably the father and I do want to help out."
Now Nadya Suleman has not responded to any offers of help from her or the several other people and organizations that have made offers to help. The wackiness here, Jane, pretty consistent with what we`ve seen so far, wouldn`t you say?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is. It`s like a reality show in the works. We`re going to talk to our psychologist about that in just a moment.
Everyone stick around. Don`t forget. You can catch A.J. Hammer on "Showbiz Tonight" 11:00 p.m. Eastern. I will be joining him for the very latest on the octo-mom story.
Here on "ISSUES" we`ll have more on the octo-mom. She may be a tad odd, but so are the men surrounding her. I will tell you why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED SULEMAN, NADYA SULEMAN`S FATHER: I mean, I understand it`s your job, you need to do it, but give us a little break. Too much is not good. There`s a limit to everything. They`re fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The man who claims to be Nadya Suleman`s sperm donor is now among those who say she wasn`t always so truthful. Take a listen to what he told ABC`s Chris Cuomo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Nadya says, "It`s not him." Is that good enough for you? Is that closure?
BEAUDOIN: No. I can`t take everything she says for granted. I mean, when initially she told me the whole reason why for me donating sperm in the first place is to get pregnant because she was not going to be able to have kids. And it turned into this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: This, being 14 kids. She has been caught in numerous inconsistencies. She says she wasn`t on welfare, but she`s getting food stamps and disability payments for her brood.
Let me ask psychologist Debbie Glasser how is her lack of candor going to affect these kids growing up?
DEBBIE GLASSER, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I don`t know Nadya Suleman and I don`t know what she`s being candid about or what she isn`t being candid about. Truthfully, this is going to be something that needs to be addressed by the health care professionals that are already involved in this family`s life.
They need to take a look at this mom. They need to take a look at her support network. They need to take a look at the circumstances in her home, because we`re talking about real life.
It is playing out a little bit like a reality show, like a bad one. But this is real life and these are real babies, real children who need and deserve loving, stable, consistent caregivers.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Pete Demetrious, we only have a little bit of time, but Nadya has said that this other guy who has just come forward is not the real father. And on some of the birth certificates of four of the six children she had before she had the octuplets she listed a David Solomon, but they had different birth dates for this so-called father. Is David Solomon a real person or a fictional person?
DEMETRIOU: Doesn`t matter whether he`s real or fictional, because the mother is not obligated under law to provide any real data on the parent or the father. Not only that, in the case of a sperm donor, she probably wouldn`t know anyway. So she could name David Solomon, John Doe or Chewbacca, for all that we know.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m sure Chewbacca is going to be coming up soon and saying that he donated the sperm.
Let`s talk about the doctor, A.J. Should this doctor face more scrutiny? I know he`s being investigated currently.
HAMMER: Everybody is taking a look at the doctor. And somebody even called in to "Showbiz Tonight" to suggest that this guy should take the financial responsibility for the kids. I think a lot of people are going to be taking a look at what can go on here legally, what can go on ethically or should go on ethically. So I`m surprised we haven`t heard more from the doctor about this.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes. There are so many ramifications; moral, ethical, environmental, let`s not forget that.
Thank you everyone. Hope you come back again soon.
I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell. You`re watching "ISSUES."