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Bombshell in Cantu Case

Aired April 20, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, bombshell -- already charged and raping her own daughter's little friend, did Sunday school teacher Melissa Huckaby prey on other children?

Shocking new allegations today may link the accused murderer to another case.

Plus, the defense teams move to exhume Sandra Cantu's body.

And did Miss California's comments on gay marriage cost her the Miss USA crown?

Judge Perez Hilton says they did. He's angry. He's here.

And then, Susan Boyle is back and she's got some competition. See and hear who it is.

And then, can first ever White House green czar, Van Jones transform the world?

He and Robert Redford are here to try, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Our first story concerns Melissa Huckaby, the Sunday school teacher who's been charged with the kidnap/rape/murder of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu, a young girl who was a friend of her daughter.

Now, there may be other crimes involved.

In French Camp, California is Eric Firpo, the editor of "The Tracy Press."

And in Pittsburgh is Dr. Cyril Wecht, forensic pathologist and attorney, author of

"A Question of Murder."

Here in Los Angeles, Candice DeLong, the former FBI profiler. Her expertise, by the way, is showcased in "Investigation Discovery's "Deadly Women," now in its third season.

And in Richmond, Dr. Julia Hislop, psychologist and author of "Female Sex Offenders: What Therapists, Law Enforcement and Child Protective Services Need to Know."

All right, Eric, we'll start with you.

What information has come that might possibly link Miss. Huckaby to other crimes?

ERIC FIRPO, CITY EDITOR, "TRACY PRESS": Well, there was a missing person's report of a girl in the mobile home park where Melissa lived in January. The mother of the 7-year-old girl reported her daughter missing. And the girl returned later from a visit to a park with Melissa Huckaby.

And the family of the girl thought their daughter seemed like kind of groggy getting back from the park. And so they took her to the hospital. And the girl had muscle relaxants in her system.

So now the mother of the -- the mother of the girl had alcohol on her breath and a friend of the family told us that, you know, the parents are kind of upset that more wasn't done then about the missing person's report. But, you know, the police aren't really talking about what was done or how closely Melissa was looked into at the time, so we're not really sure.

KING: No harm was done to her?

FIRPO: Well, I mean she had drugs in her system. And apparently, they weren't there earlier in the day. That's sort of the implication of the information that we got from a friend of the family. And then that's confirmed in the police log from that day...

KING: Jane Velez-Mitchell...

FIRPO: ...which was January 17th.

KING: Jane Velez-Mitchell, host of "ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ- MITCHELL" on HLN, is this a stretch?

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST, HLN'S "ISSUES": I think it's a very disturbing development, Larry. The fact is that the woman, according to "The Tracy Press," who took this girl, according to the police complaint, drove a purple Kia Sportage. That is the very same kind of car that Melissa Huckaby drives. And apparently this complaint was dismissed because the mother who came in to report it had smelled of alcohol and had some drug on her person.

And if they had followed this up, you can only imagine the implications of what they could have prevented, theoretically. I mean if they had found the purple car and tied it to Melissa Huckaby, if, in fact, she was connected, they could have stopped what we all know has allegedly happened since then, namely the murder of a helpless child.

So to me, it's a huge development.

KING: Candice DeLong, is it to you?

CANDICE DELONG, FORMER FBI PROFILER: It's disturbing. It is -- I mean the report said that this little girl went to the park with Huckaby. And she returns, the parents are concerned, take her to the hospital and the E.R. determines she had muscle relaxants in her system. I am at a loss to explain why the police didn't follow it up. That's a felony, for an adult to give a child a drug like that, someone that's not the child's mother.

And as Miss. Velez said, one can only wonder if perhaps Huckaby, if she was found to be the offender in that incident, wouldn't have been in jail.

KING: Doctor Hislop, what do you read out of this?

DR. JULIA HISLOP, PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I think it certainly speaks to the fact that we don't think of women as being potential sex offenders. It's certainly not in usual in that situation for folks to -- to overlook that as a possibility.

KING: In other words, when you have a crime and it involves sexual disturbance or a questionable disturbance, you don't think female?

HISLOP: You don't tend to think a female sex offender in situations like this.

KING: So usually if a female harms a child, it's her own child, right?

HISLOP: Well, not necessarily. Women have been known to offend against all manner of children -- children that are their own, their children, their grandchildren, their relatives, teenagers and folks of all ages. And so it's not necessarily just their own children or -- or -- or not their own children.

KING: Yes, but...

HISLOP: Yes. But they...

KING: Dr. Wecht, what do you read out of this, doctor?

DR. CYRIL WECHT, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Well, I agree with the previous comment.

I'd like add this, Larry, that the law enforcement agents were guilty of malpractice because musculoskeletal relaxants in the little girl came from somewhere. So the fact that the mother had alcohol on her breath did not excuse or immunize her from child abuse, from improper maternal care. And that should have been followed through, whether it was from Melissa Huckaby or whether it was from the mother. To have let the girl go because they did not give credence to the mother's story was very, very unfortunate.

With regard to this case of Sandra Cantu, you know, this age group, Larry, between six and 12, 13 is considered to be about the safest group among children insofar as violence is concerned. We see all the forms of child abuse, infant abuse and then into the teenagers...

KING: Yes, but...

WECHT: -- and when things -- but this age is usually a relatively safe one... KING: Except...

WECHT: And this case just cries out for -- KING: Except for miss Cantu.

WECHT: ...for individual attention.

KING: What could a possible motive be?

We'll talk about that and ask if anyone's children are safe.

Stick around.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sandra's smile could light up a room. Her infectious laugh could get you out of your gloom. Her long sun-kissed hair shined ever so brightly. Sandra told her mom I love you nightly.


KING: Figure out a motive, Candice?

DELONG: Well, I'm not exactly sure what the motive is in this case. I think that will be eventually revealed. However, I can tell you that oftentimes when is a child is abducted and murdered and violated sexually, the motive was sexual violence. Sometimes the...

KING: In other words, they wanted that person for...

DELONG: That is exactly why the child was taken and why the deed was done. It isn't always intentional that the victim dies. Sometimes that happens accidentally.

KING: Dr. Hislop, do you agree with that?

HISLOP: Well, I think with females, the motives tend to -- to run the gamut. When you look at the backgrounds of these women, you'll often find that they have sexual abuse histories themselves and have often grown up in very dysfunctional homes.

And when they talk about their motives, they seem to run the gamut and can express anything from anger to -- some will say that they loved the child. Some are very needy and dependent. And the motives really seem to vary.

In some cases -- of course, not in this -- the females will be involved with an abusive co-offender.

So the motives tend to vary case to case.

KING: Yes.

Jane, is -- is there a danger in these kind of cases to pre- convict?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, absolutely.

KING: In other words, do people have an open mind toward this woman?

The answer is no, right?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think that, listen, we haven't heard the evidence. She hasn't even entered a plea. That's going to happen later this week. So, obviously, we have to keep an open mind and she deserves the presumption of evidence.

But that doesn't mean that we have to ignore cold, hard facts. And the fact is that there's lot of very bizarre stuff coming out about her. Ten years ago, she made a claim that she was raped by a cop on a date. And, in fact, the law enforcement down in Southern California investigated and exonerated the police.

This is a woman who has a very serious history, dating back to the sixth grade, when her friends say she first began contemplating suicide. She's declared bankruptcy. She's had petty thefts. None of that necessarily leads to a serious crime like rape and murder...

KING: All right...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But she's -- she's got problems.

KING: Dr. Wecht, why does the defense want the body exhumed?

WECHT: They want the body exhumed, Larry, to focus on the alleged injuries to the genitalia, to determine whether or not the child was sexually abused and, if so, by what kind of a foreign object. This allegation has been made -- this specific charge by the prosecution. And the defense has reason to believe or they just want to make sure that that kind of anatomical evidence is there.

I'm a little concerned that this will be done. And I'm puzzled why the defense did not move with greater alacrity before, when the body was available. They should have had a forensic pathologist present at the autopsy or certainly before the child was buried. Now they've got a formidable problem and the judge does not appear to be looking too kindly upon this, which is understandable in cases where the families are violently opposed to exhumation.

But that's the reason. They're going to focus on that to see whether there is any specific anatomic evidence...

KING: I got it.

WECHT: ...that can be related by way of a pattern injury to a particular object.

KING: Candice, any background on crimes in which a mother commits a crime with the -- with the friend -- with the daughter's friend? DELONG: Well, oftentimes, we see female offenders when they -- of children -- sometimes they do offend their own children. Sometimes they offend children that are known to them. It's unusual that they offend a complete stranger. And it's unusual for them to do this alone, meaning not with a partner, usually a husband or a boyfriend. We see it, but it is rare.

KING: We've not heard the last of this. And all of our guests will be returning as the progress of this case continues.

We'll ask the Tracy police flat out, is Melissa Huckaby suspected in another abduction?

We're back in 60 seconds with his answer.

Don't go away.


KING: Joining us -- joining us now in front of the jail in French Camp, California is Sergeant Tony Sheneman. He's a spokesman for the Tracy Police Department.

What can you tell us about the report that Melissa Huckaby is tied to some -- an alleged abuse of a child back in January?


Well, I can tell you that there are log entries that we responded to at the Orchard Estates Mobile Home Park on the report of a missing child, who was returned while we were there and that some time later, that child was taken to the hospital.

As far as speaking to specifics about any of that, we're not, for two reasons. One, we're concerned about the integrity of our investigation as it relates to the prosecution. And also, we're concerned about Miss. Huckaby's opportunity to receive a fair trial when there's so much speculation going on in the press.

KING: Can you tell us, Sergeant, if there were suspicions inside the department, without being specific?

SHENEMAN: Suspicions about Miss. Huckaby in regards to the Cantu case?

KING: No. Suspicions about the child, what happened to this child, was a crime committed against this child, etc.?

SHENEMAN: If there was probable cause to make an arrest at that time, an arrest would have been made.

KING: So there wasn't probable cause, even though we keep hearing about things inside her body that shouldn't have been there?

SHENEMAN: That's correct.

KING: All right.

Was the fact that her mother had been drinking, did that change the position of the police department?

SHENEMAN: That would have had no bearing on any of the police officers' actions. We would be concerned, as we were, for the well- being of the child. And the condition of the parents have no -- have no input on that whatsoever.

KING: And what's the condition -- or the situation of Melissa Huckaby?

Is she in isolation in jail?

SHENEMAN: I understand she's still in an observation sale -- excuse me, cell. Other than that, I have no information on Miss. Huckaby.

KING: Can she have visitors?

SHENEMAN: I don't know.

KING: All right.

Thanks, Sergeant.

Sergeant Tony Sheneman at French Camp, California.

Will this case ever go to trial?

We'll talk about a possible plea and if that's likely to happen.

Stay with us.


KING: We're back.

Jane Velez-Mitchell remains with us, host of "ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL" on HLN. She's in New York.

Here in Los Angeles, the famed defense attorney, Trent Copeland.

And in Plantation, Florida, Stacy Honowitz, Florida assistant state attorney, who specializes in cases involving child abuse and sex crimes.

Stacy, is this one weirder than most?

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY: Well, Larry, you know how rare -- you've been hearing all along how rare these type of circumstances are. So, absolutely. The idea that she was raped, this little girl, by a foreign object and then killed. I mean, certainly we do hear about female pedophilia, but it's very rare.

KING: From a defense standpoint, Trent, is -- are they up against it here?

TRENT COPELAND, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I think they are, Larry. And particularly if what we -- what we heard initially from those initial reports is accurate. And that is that she gave four different versions when she was initially interviewed by the police. And those four different versions, one was more inconsistent than the next. And they also are reporting that she may have even acknowledged -- she may have admitted and confessed to having had some involvement.

So if all those things are accurate, then, clearly, the defense is up against something.

KING: Are you surprised that they're asking to have it exhumed?

COPELAND: You know, I am surprised they're -- they're asking to have the body exhumed, particularly when they would have had access to the body. And I -- look, Larry -- and with no intent to be offense and graphic, but this body is deteriorating with the heat. The fact that this little girl's body and remain -- and remains are clearly beginning to deteriorate, the integrity of any exhumation process and investigation of that is clearly going to be compromised.

KING: Jane...

HONOWITZ: Larry, they want to see if there's genitalia -- I mean they want to exhume her because they want to see if there's genital trauma, because that's the special circumstance which allows them to look at the death penalty. So that's, I think, really what they're -- what they're looking for.

KING: Jane, repertorially, is this a tough one?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think it is. But it's also an opportunity. Even though this is a horrific tragedy, it's an opportunity for us as a society to learn something. And I think at the end of the day, all these cases deserve a psychological autopsy. I have no idea if this woman's guilty or innocent.

But when it's laid out, we need to understand the deeper why so that we can prevent this from happening again.

In this country, we're so involved with crime and punishment, crime and punishment. We've got more people locked up in the United States than any other country in the world and yet we don't seem to focus on learning from these cases, understanding the deeper whys so we could maybe do early intervention and stop it from happening to the next person.

KING: Do you agree, Trent?

COPELAND: I do. I think this case can -- can very likely be something that we can all very clearly learn from. I mean, clearly, it cuts against -- you know, there's a very wide swath of people who are very interested in this case. And it goes against the grain and, in fact, everything that we thought we knew about pedophilia and whether or not women were closely involved in that -- that kind of crime.

So I think there's a lot to be learned from this case. I think this case is going to be ongoing. I think this investigation is ongoing.

I'm very concerned that the police initially did not investigate that initial...

KING: Yes.

COPELAND: ...that initial crime. I think that's an issue. And I think you'll hear from the defense on that claim that there might have been some sloppy police work.

KING: Trent, if the defense is...

HONOWITZ: Yes, but unfortunately...

KING: Trent -- hold it, Stacy.

If the defense -- if Trent says the defense is up against, is it a walk in the park for the prosecutor?

HONOWITZ: Are you asking me for that?

You know, you never...

KING: Yes.

HONOWITZ: You never like to say -- I will never go on the air and say that anything is a locked case. But the way that we're looking at things right now, certainly the ball seems to be in the prosecution's court.

But, you know, I wanted to say, Larry, that Jane talks about and Trent talks about prevention in looking at these cases. We see these cases over and over again. My unit in the state attorney's office, we have one of the fastest growing units, pedophilia, because people don't want to talk about it. Teachers don't want to talk about it. Parents don't want to talk about it.

I've written two books about it and publishers don't want to publish this stuff because they don't think it's a big seller.

Well, I'm telling you...

COPELAND: Well, that's -- that's right, Stacy.

HONOWITZ: As we sit on the air right now...

COPELAND: Stacy, that's right.

HONOWITZ: would be a huge seller, because parents need to talk to their children about possible pedophilia.

KING: All right. HONOWITZ: It could be the lady next door.

COPELAND: But we don't normally. And you would say the lady next door. We don't normally have cases and circumstances where it involves the lady next door.

HONOWITZ: We don't, Trent...

COPELAND: And let alone the lady next door...

HONOWITZ: ...but these are the big ones.

COPELAND: ...who's a playmate of your -- of her child.

HONOWITZ: But these are the big ones that we hear about. There's hundreds and hundreds and millions of cases all over that we don't put on the air.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But you're proving my point, Stacy.

Why aren't we conducting psychological autopsies and understanding why and then setting up programs to do early intervention on people that have problems?

Obviously, this woman has serious problems.

What triggered her?

COPELAND: There's no question about that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: What -- where did it begin?

And when we find out where it began...

KING: Yes, we're going to...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...that's when we have to intervene.

KING: Excellent work -- excellent, Jane.

Wouldn't it help a society, Stacy, the more we know?

HONOWITZ: Yes, absolutely. But you know what, Larry, you run into this situation where you are -- the court system has so many cases, so many people -- Jane's right. So many people are locked up. And people don't want to take the time to find out the psychology of the pedophile.

What they ought -- what they need to be doing, though, is teaching children that if someone touches you or goes near you, you need to tell so that it doesn't continue to go on, so that we can do something to maybe, God forbid, prevent another crime like this taking place.

So while it sounds great to get a psychological evaluation, I don't think it's ever going to happen. You need to start teaching kids to prevent them from going near these people.

KING: Thanks, everybody.

COPELAND: Agreed. Agreed.

KING: As we said earlier, we haven't heard the last of this. A lot more coming.

We thank Jane Velez-Mitchell, Trent Copeland and Stacy Honowitz.

Perez Hilton versus Miss. California -- did his question and her answer at Miss USA pageant cost her the crown?

He's here and he's fired up, next.


KING: We're back.

We now welcome Perez Hilton to LARRY KING LIVE, the celebrity blogger, a judge in the Miss USA pageant, all the rage today. In fact, we'll show you why.

The debate over gay marriage was reignited last night at the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas.

Let's watch the Q&A between the judge, Perez Hilton, and Miss California, Carrie Prejean.


PEREZ HILTON, JUDGE, MISS USA: Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Do you think every state should follow suit?

Why or why not?

CARRIE PREJEAN, MISS USA CONTESTANT: Well, I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage.

And you know what?

In my country and in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there. But that's how I was raised and that's how I think that it should be, between a man and a woman.

Thank you.


KING: And I mispronounced the name. It's Prejean.

We welcome Perez Hilton. Is it fair to bring -- why did you bring this into the pageant is my first question?

HILTON: Well, I was given the opportunity, on this national platform to ask a question that I thought was relevant. And given the recent setbacks and advances that we've made in the fight for gay marriage, I thought it was a very important question for me specifically to ask.

KING: Did you vent it?

Did you tell the pageant you were going to ask it?

HILTON: Absolutely.

KING: You did?

HILTON: I ran it by the producers beforehand and they signed off on it and everybody thought it was a good question. It wasn't meant to be a big bomb. And I don't think it was that hard of a question, either.

KING: Was she like a finalist?

Were they down to like three or...

HILTON: It was down to the top five and she was definitely either the frontrunner or one of the top two contenders.

KING: She wound up, what, runner-up?

HILTON: Runner-up.

KING: Did you think that it hurt her?

HILTON: Absolutely. And I think a lot offer the judges did.

KING: How would you know?

HILTON: And she knew, after she was done, during the commercial break, I could tell by the look in her face that she knew she had lost because of that answer because it was a bad answer.

KING: Why is it bad if it was honest?

HILTON: Honesty is great. However, in an interview this morning, she said that the audience and the judges expected her to be politically correct.

You want to know what?

Yes. I do expect Miss USA to be politically correct.

Do we want a Miss USA that's politically insensitive, that's politically offensive? No. So I didn't disagree with her not believing in the right for gays and lesbians to good evening equal under the law. I disagree with how she answered the question because Miss USA should be all inclusive. She should be my Miss USA and when she answered that question that way, it was instantly divisive and alienating to gays and lesbians and friends and supporters.

KING: What would have been your answer?

HILTON: My answer --

KING: For her.

HILTON: For her, if she believes that gays and lesbians should not marry, she could have answered in many different ways. She could have said, well, that's a great question, very relevant right now and I think that's a question for the states to decide for themselves because that's how our forefathers designed our government system.

KING: Did you call it the worst answer in pageant history?

HILTON: Yes because I was sitting there and I heard very loud boos. I don't want to make any accusations, oh, I will because I'm me. But when it was broadcast on the West Coast which is the feed that I saw, the boos were taken out. But there were reporters there and the boos were very loud and to my knowledge that was the first time that a Miss USA contestant had been boos.

KING: Did you ask the same question of Miss North Carolina?

HILTON: No. Miss North Carolina also got a tough question. Not the same one, but she was asked if she thought it was appropriate for taxpayer money to go towards company bailouts. And she answered it very well. And that was one of the many reasons why Miss North Carolina won. And I think we're taking too much attention away from Miss North Carolina. Congratulations to her.

KING: The runner-up is the famed one in this. Any regrets?

HILTON: None whatsoever.

KING: Did it over, you would ask the same thing?

HILTON: I'd ask the same thing. I'm very glad that I asked the question and that we're having this conversation right now. And I'm hopeful that the state that I live in in California and that other states throughout the country will soon catch up with Vermont and Iowa, who had great advances recently.

KING: What do you make of the response of it all? What's going on? What do you make of that?

HILTON: I make of it that people are scared of the truth. She gave an honest answer and that upset a lot of people. I applaud her for speaking her truth but Miss USA is not her. I asked her a question as the potential Miss USA, not as Carrie Prejean or whatever you say her name.

KING: By the way, we invited Miss California, Carrie Prejean to join us. Her schedule did not permit.

Here's some comments from our blog and our Twitter. "I think anyone that wants to be married should have the right to. What happened to equal rights? Guys getting married is up to them, but I don't think God approves. But that's up for them to face on judgment day. I think we should change the legal to civil union and let anyone do it. Churches can have marriages. I think all people have the right to be married and miserable. Everybody equally deserves the right to have a ball and chain placed around them."

Do you favor this state idea of state marriage? You know, an equal right marriage, not calling it marriage.

HILTON: Absolutely. However, there are certain rights, privileges and protections that come with federal marriage which gay and lesbian couples do not have unless it's federal thing. But any step forward I think is a good step.

KING: Do you think it's coming?

HILTON: Yes, definitely. It's not a question of if, it's a question of when and I hope it's within the next decade.

KING: The California Supreme Court is hearing the question of overturning Prop 8. Do you think they might?

HILTON: I'm hopeful, cautiously optimistic.

KING: Would you be a judge again?

HILTON: I would have if they would have me back and I would ask another relevant question next year.

KING: Do you think they would have you back?

HILTON: You'd have to ask Mr. Trump and I thank him for having me on and I would like to invite Miss California out to coffee. That was a sincere invitation and I would like to talk to her because I think that when people don't know gays and lesbians as human beings, it's easier to feel that they shouldn't have equal rights.

KING: That was well said. Thanks, Perez.

HILTON: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Perez Hilton, celebrity blogger and a judge in the Miss USA pageant. Susan Boyle's back and she might have met her match. She's here for an encore. See part of her Friday visit with us again and then hear a kid who threatens to become an even bigger star. This you got to see is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: If you live on planet Earth, you know about Susan Boyle, the incredible singing sensation who's taken the world, not kidding, the world by storm. The response to her appearance here Friday night was so great we're going to bring you an encore or part of her visit with us. Watch.


KING: Susan, you're single. In fact, you say you've never been kissed. Now you're getting piles of fan mail. How will this change your life?

SUSAN BOYLE, SINGER: Well, I won't be lonely. I certainly won't be lonely anymore.

KING: Will you date? Will you change the way you look? Change your hair, your dress, your style?

BOYLE: Why should I? Why should I change? Particularly my identity.


KING: Piers, that's right. It would be a mistake to try to change this, right?

MORGAN: You know, the great appeal and charm of Susan is the way she is. The way she looks, the way she acts. She is her own woman and I think that is what everyone is falling in love with and I have to say Susan and I was very touched by the very flattering remarks you made about me in the newspapers in the weekend which did not go unnoticed, particularly as you chose me over Simon as your potential suitor. And I would like to extend an invitation to you to have dinner with me in London, Susan.

BOYLE: I accept.

MORGAN: Thank you.

KING: Susan, did it bother you that people were judging you before you sang on appearance and were kind of sort of making fun.

BOYLE: That doesn't bother me at all. I just got on with my act because that's what you're there for, to keep going.

KING: Piers, does that surprise you that it didn't bother her?

MORGAN: No, because I think she's got an amazing spirit and determination. I think that Susan had an absolute confidence in her ability as a singer so she didn't really care that people were laughing or not laughing. I think she was more focused on the fact that she had her chance, a shot. It was almost like the Rocky Balboa script. Coming out of nowhere, and you get a shot, you take it and suddenly you're the world's champion.

And I think the sky's the limit for Susan, she wants to be a professional singer. The whole world is going crazy for her. I think at the very least she will achieve that aim.

But what I'm really proud of, I think, is in this time of recession around the world, what Susan Boyle has single-handedly done is give us all something to smile about and feel optimistic by and inspired by and it's a fantastic achievement to make the whole world grin and talk to each other and say, have you seen that clip? Isn't it amazing? And to make people cry. What a thing!

KING: You are so right, Piers. You hit the nail on the head. Susan, will you sing just a little for us?

BOYLE: I'll try to. I'll try to sing for you.

KING: OK, give it a whirl. Go ahead.



KING: Susan Boyle, you are - Piers, analyze that.

MORGAN: Amazing. That was just absolutely stunning. To sing that with no musical backing is unbelievable. You have the voice of an angel, Susan. And if you don't win this show somebody is going to have to be pretty incredible to beat. Amazing.

KING: Amazing. You're not kidding Sinatra ought to be reborn.


KING: By the way, really it is, if that's not enough, there's someone else on the horizon and he threatens to take some of that spotlight away. Take a look at this.




KING: That is 12-year-old Shaheen Jafargholi. Could he become a household name too? If he is a household name, we better learn to pronounce it. We're going to follow him very closely. We're talking about changing the world and how do we live in it? Send your tweets to Van Jones and Robert Redford right now. There are many imitators out there, but if you want to reach me on Twitter, my name is kingsthings, one word. Back in 60 seconds with the White House's first ever green czar. Don't go away.


KING: By the way, before we continue, I'd like to say something about the brilliant Stephen Hawking. We understand that he's very ill and we wish him the best. He's been a guest on this show. You can go to to see our excerpts, interview with him. Van Jones joins us now, special adviser for Green Jobs, the enterprise and innovation at the White House Counsel of Environmental Quality. He is the founder of Green for All. He was a "Time" magazine 2008 environmental hero and the best selling author of "The Green Collar Economy." Maybe off the topic a little but what the hell, everybody's talking about it. What did you make of the president's greeting to Hugo Chavez?

VAN JONES, WHITE HOUSE GREEN CZAR: Well, I don't think he could have represented our country -- we're a gracious country. We are a beautiful country. We are if anything we can rise above and so I think if he slapped the guy's book down, that made us look bad. You can show grace as a strong president. And you don't turn away. You're strong enough to show grace.

KING: Shortly after the election of Barack Obama you told "Yes" magazine you did not plan to be part of the administration. You planned to bring grass roots power to bear. What happened?

JONES: Well, I'll tell you, one of the things that happened is that you saw Barack Obama step forward. He's a first black president and that's what everybody says. If you look at his agenda, he is the first green president. We have a president putting billions of dollars into a green recovery. He wants to put millions of people to work, putting up solar panels, weatherizering homes. He is helping businesses come back to build wind turbines that have been shut down. And having the opportunity to get there and make sure that we go from the inspiration to the implementation, from the hope to the change, I couldn't turn that down.

KING: Do you like, Van, being called the green czar?

JONES: Well you know, I don't like it. I call myself the green jobs handy man. They job the heads off czars. My job is to help Barack Obama get his idea from signing a signing ceremony where he signs a bill to ordinary Americans signing back paychecks.

KING: Are you sub cabinet?


KING: He's a movie star who may have started it all. The person who made us think about our environment long before it was popular, probably before Van appeared on the scene. Robert Redford will join us after the break. Don't go away.


KING: Anderson Cooper will host "A.C. 360" at the top of the hour. When's up tonight, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, we're starting off with breaking news in the so-called Craigslist murder case. Police have charged a man who they say killed one woman, robbed another at gun point. A lot of surprises from the police tonight at the news conference including the fact that the suspect is a premed student at Boston University. We'll bring you the latest on that.

We'll also look at the wild scene at a U.N. conference today. People throwing things at the Iranian president and then amazing sight, really dozens of diplomats walking out in protest of his remarks. We'll tell you what he was saying that got everyone so upset.

And the beginning of our week long series, secrets to a long life. Places around the world where people have discovered the secrets to living longer and healthier. Tonight, why sex and naps might be a key ingredients. Pretty fascinating stuff, Larry. All that and more at the top of the hour.

KING: That's "A.C. 360," 10 Eastern, 7 Pacific.

Van Jones is special counsel for green jobs with the president remains with us here in L.A. And joining us from San Francisco, Robert Redford, the award winning actor and director, environmental activist. He's in San Francisco attending the 20th anniversary ceremony for the Goldman Environmental Prize, the so-called green Nobel. What is that all about, Robert, the Goldman prize?

ROBERT REDFORD, ACTOR: Well, it is about -- it is about ordinary people from all walks of life and all over the globe doing to make people's lives better, and starting with their own, of course.

But the reason I'm in support of that, I've been doing this for seven years. You know, narrating these pieces. These stories are -- first of all, I'm just attracted to a good story, you know, well told.

But these stories are so powerful, so inspiring, so courageous and done against dire threats against their lives. It's really a story that should be told. And so any way that I can help get that story out to a wider audience, I will.

So that's basically why I'm here. And in terms of what Van's talking about, and you guys are talking about, the fact is that we're in a period of change right now, and there's a lot of positive to the change.

We have a lot of opportunities that are coming our way. But I really do believe that considering the system the way it is in Washington, right now it's encouraging. There are good signs. But the fact is, it is a system that moves slowly. And I think this issue is so great and so immediate, we have to move quickly. And I think the real change is going to come from the grass roots, from people --

KING: Go ahead. I just want to check, do you agree with that?

JONES: Well, first of all, I think this administration is moving incredibly fast. We aren't even at 100 days yet. We have one of the biggest investments in clean energy in the history of the world. The biggest in the history of the world, $20 billion for renewable energy, $5 billion for weatherization, $10 billion for smart grid.

KING: Is Robert wrong?

JONES: I think it's bottom up and top down and that's what this president has said the whole time. He's never said that Washington can do it by itself. It takes a whole country, bottom up and top down. But I agree with Robert Redford. We've got to move fast. We do have the technology now. We don't have to turn the earth into an oven. We can put millions of people to work. But we've got to be able to do that and unleash that technology. That's what Barack Obama's committed to.

KING: Robert, what do you think of Van Jones being part of the team?

REDFORD: Well, part of me says he'll be back in a year. The other part says I'm glad he's there. I'm glad he's there because he's an activist that has a great voice and a great message. I think that, look, look who's with EPA now. Look who's with the new EPA, new agriculture, Salazar interior, all kinds of new faces joining a new parade that's going to be pretty positive.

So when Van talks about bottom up coming top down, you've got to have a top that will come down and meet the people. I'm going to devote my time into the collective grass roots because that's probably the best place I can be. I think where Van is is great for all of us.

JONES: Well, thank you. First of all, I'm honored just to be on the show with you. Obviously you've been a great hero and a great inspiration. One of the things I think is important for people to understand, when you talk about grass roots, let's look at Kansas City right now. There is a tremendous effort right now, Representative Emanuel Cleaver said let's take a stimulus money from the Obama recovery plan and give it to ordinary people. They decided in Kansas City to take 150 blocks, blighted, tough neighborhoods, weatherize every home there that needs it, fix mass transit and put people to work. Those are green solutions. They're going to save people money as well as helping planet Earth.

KING: We've got to get a break. We asked to you send us your comments about changing the environment. We'll share some of them with Van Jones and Robert Redford right after the break.


KING: We're back with Robert Redford and Van Jones. Guys, we asked our audience, we asked them to blog us or Twitter us, and their thoughts on the environment. I'll give you some of the things said, Robert. "Plant trees, plant trees, plant trees, can never have enough trees. Get rid of Styrofoam products. You cannot recycle that product. I'd use wind-power generators and solar panel units if they're affordable. Provide tax incentives to home builders in the sunbelt and south to mandate solar power included in every new home and do away with plastic grocery bags completely and make cloth reusable bags."

I'll tell you, Robert, we've received tremendous response all day long with sensible thoughts on the environment. So you're certainly clicking into something.

REDFORD: Sounds like it. Well, I mean, what you just read sounds very sensible to me. I think reforestation is a very positive thing to capture the carbon. I think that all the things you mentioned. First of all, plastic's not going to do anybody any good. That belongs to yesterday, not tomorrow. So I think all of the things you mentioned sound great. But look where that's coming from. It's coming from the grass roots.

KING: Right. Van, are you optimistic?

JONES: Am I optimistic? Well, I'm incredibly optimistic. First of all, I think that to Robert Redford's point, we have people all across the country who are already in motion. We have mayors, we have students who are already pushing this agenda forward.

I think the most important thing that I can say, though, is that what Barack Obama has done is he's finally brought everybody into the green tent. He's ended this war between either you're for the economy or you're for the environment. He goes, no, no. We're going to actually jump start our economy by putting people to work in industries that respect the environment. So he's, once again, brought people together across these different lines.

Now you've got labor unions and businesses working together. For instance, he's going to be in Iowa on Earth Day at a Maytag plant that closed. And because of his work due to the recovery, it is now coming back building what? Wind towers for wind turbines. This is the future of America, to Robert Redford's point. The future economy is green, money green and environmentally green.

KING: Robert, do you think this president can overcome Washington's past history?

REDFORD: Well, he's certainly off to a flamingly good start, considering the crater that was put in front of him. I mean, the mess that he's inherited is not something that's easy to come out of, but he is. And he's doing the right thing.

I'm very encouraged. You know, one of the things that Van was talking about, when I got involved in the environment, it was like 35 years ago, there was always this separation between economics and environmental protection or preservation. It made me crazy because I thought, can't people see that they're connected? Can't people see that the environment is good economics?

And now I think that's beginning to happen. People are beginning to enjoin, and they're beginning to cross-pollinate between -- economics is in everything, and it's certainly in the environment. And when they talk about the environment not being an economic driver or what have you, I mean, what nonsense is that? Because the fact is that if you commit to renewable energy sources and you create new innovations tied to new energy sources, you create new industries, and that gets you new jobs, and it's about tomorrow where -- yes.

JONES: Yes. Everything that is good for the environment is a job. Solar panels don't put themselves up.


JONES: Wind turbines don't manufacture themselves. Trees don't even plant themselves in our industrial society. Everything is good for the environment is a job. It's a contract.

KING: Why has it never been --

JONES: Well, first of all, we've never had a grass-roots movement that finally has come together thanks to people like Robert Redford and others. And that creates the opportunity for a president to step forward and finally end this silly war. We're going to have to do right by our children economically by creating more jobs. We have to do right by our grandchildren ecologically and not leave them a dead planet. That's what we're trying to get done.

KING: We're about out of time. One quick thing. Is Redford one of the great heroes in this?

JONES: One of the greats, he's a global hero.

REDFORD: Cut, cut, let's cut to commercial now, please.

KING: Now he's being a movie director. OK, you can cut us out. Go ahead, Robert, say cut. Robert Redford and Van Jones, thank you both very much. And happy Earth Day, coming Wednesday. Time now for Anderson Cooper and "A.C. 360." Anderson?