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Melissa Huckaby Charged with Drugging Child; Police Search for Missing Girl

Aired May 26, 2009 - 19:00:00   ET



JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, stomach-churning new charges in the case against Melissa Huckaby, the Sunday-school teacher accused of raping and killing 8-year-old Sandra Cantu. Now she`s charged with drugging a 7-year-old girl. Is it the same 7-year-old who was allegedly discovered with muscle relaxants in her body after Huckaby admitted taking her to the park in January? Could there be even more victims out there?

Then a big batch of bad news for Drew Peterson as lawyers clash in the courtroom. Accused of murdering his third wife Kathleen Savio, prosecutors now say Peterson`s first tried to hire a hit man to do the job, this as a judge rejects a motion to reduce the suspected killer`s $20 million bail.

And an Amber Alert has authorities in Michigan racing to find an adorable 5-year-old girl. They believe she`s in extreme danger. When will it stop, America?

Also Casey Anthony`s civil suit rages on. Her former best friend is grilled in the Zanny the nanny suit, claiming she never heard Casey ever mention Zenaida Gonzalez.

Plus the scandalous fifth season of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" kicks off. Did they openly deal with the accusations of infidelity swirling around their marriage? I`ll find out if we`ll soon see just "Kate Plus 8."

ISSUES starts now.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Stunning developments tonight in the brutal rape and murder of 8-year-old California girl Sandra Cantu. Melissa Huckaby, the 28-year-old Sunday-school teacher accused of killing the second grader and stuffing her body into a suitcase, was hauled into court Friday and slapped with more jaw-dropping charges.

Now, get this: Huckaby is also accused of drugging -- that`s right, drugging -- two people including one 7-year-old girl. This is believed to be the very same girl Huckaby admitted to taking to a park back in January.

The sister of that 7-year-old girl, who`s known only as Jane Doe, talked about how strangely the child behaved when she returned from that trip to the park.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): Her speech was slurred. She could barely walk. She could barely stand, so they took her to the hospital. And the hospital told us that that she had muscle relaxers [SIC] in her system.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It doesn`t end there. Huckaby is also accused of drugging an adult male, who reportedly is a man who once dated the murder suspect. So could there be other victims out there?

Meantime, the church where Huckaby taught Sunday school was vandalized over the weekend and has been getting threatening calls. The suspect`s grandfather is the pastor of that church, but now he is fighting back.


LANE LAWLESS, MELISSA HUCKABY`S GRANDFATHER: Church is not the guilty party. We don`t know who is. And we`re hoping, like everybody else and like the family of the little girl. Our heart goes out to them, and I know that they`re hurting and they want to know who is responsible.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: But did he, the man you just heard from, did he know about his granddaughter`s very troubled history of -- let`s see -- petty theft, bankruptcy and depression? Should he have allowed her to teach Sunday school? I want to know what you think. Give me a shout out.

First, straight to my fabulous expert panel: Drew Findling, an Atlanta criminal defense attorney; Mark Eiglarsh, former prosecutor and criminal defense attorney; Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor, professor at New England Law School and author of "And Justice for Some"; Judy Kuriansky, a.k.a. Dr. Judy, noted clinical psychologist; and investigative journalist Angie Crouch.

Angie, you are out there in California. You have been tracking this case. What is the very latest?

ANGIE CROUCH, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, the very latest, Jane, is that a San Joaquin County judge has now issued a gag order in the case where none of the key players in the case can now speak with the media. It`s received a lot of attention over the past couple of months, but the key players now have to clam up. They`re not allowed to talk.

Following the court appearance on Friday when Melissa Huckaby faced those latest charges, her public defender has requested a continuance of that hearing until June 12, because he has more than 1,000 pages of evidence that he received on Thursday that he has to go over before they can go forward with this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wendy Murphy, these new drugging charges, how will they hurt Huckaby`s defense in her murder case? She is charged with rape with a foreign object and murder of an 8-year-old child. Now we`re learning that she allegedly drugged one 7-year-old child and a man who she was possibly dating.

WENDY MURPHY, LAW PROFESSOR: Goodness, I don`t know how to put all of this together, Jane. The fact that there`s a gag order makes it very difficult, so let me admit up front I`m going on speculate a little bit. OK.

First of all, it wasn`t just that the child was drugged. What she was tested for was for presence of benzodiazepines. They were present in her body. That is a classic drug used in sexual exploitation and child pornography. I`m not saying there`s evidence of that here, but we know that prosecutors have to believe there`s a connection between the murder of Sandra Cantu and the drugging of this child with benzos. You can`t just clump cases together unless it relates some way in terms of pattern of conduct, motive.

And here`s something for the pastor I`d like to ask. That 36-year-old ex-boyfriend who was also drugged -- and we don`t know if it was benzos with him. We know he was out of it for hours. We don`t know what it was. But it happened in his home. What does he know about the drugging of that man?

I mean, Sandra appears and then disappears in his tiny little trailer. His wife is there, apparently, according to reports. What do these grandparents know about what was going on there? This woman couldn`t have been doing all that nasty stuff with nobody noticing anything.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you.

MARK EIGLARSH, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Wendy -- I disagree with Wendy. I don`t know that you can immediately point your fingers at grandparents as knowing anything. Yes, knowing about her petty theft and her alleged bankruptcy, that doesn`t necessarily mean that it`s foreseeable that she`s going to do the alleged horrific thing that she`s accused of.

Now let me just do say I do agree with Wendy that, if we`re speculating on what the charges mean, they are alleging, I think, that there is some type of pattern between the several different counts. And this will increase the prosecutor`s chances of securing a conviction, because if you take a look at the Phil Spector case, the numerous allegations of domestic violence ,coupled with the instant case, I think, increased the chances of the fact that he was convicted.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, back in January, a couple of months before Sandra Cantu was murdered, Melissa Huckaby was questioned by cops about taking that 7-year-old girl to the park without her parents` permission. Here is Melissa, the suspect, in her own words, explaining what happened that day. Listen.


MELISSA HUCKABY, MURDER SUSPECT: I had taken my daughter and one of her friends to the park, which I had done for the third time that week. The mother was, I guess, at work, and the grandmother had told the little girl that she could go to the park, which she does all the time. And when the mother came home, she didn`t know where she was.

I`d given the mother my phone number, my cell phone number; in case anything happened she could get a hold of me. She claims to have lost the phone number.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s so scary is she sounds like just such a normal soccer mom. It`s just unbelievable. That`s the suspect you`re hearing, Huckaby now charged with drugging that 7-year-old girl.

So Dr. Judy, the child`s family says, had cops taken that case more seriously back in January, given that they went to the hospital and it was shown that the child was drugged, Melissa Huckaby might have been arrested, and little Sandra might be alive. Is that a fair criticism?

JUDY KURIANSKY, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I would totally agree with you, Jane. There`s no question about it. I mean, one of the things that is the most indicative of whether someone is going to commit a heinous act or crime is that they did it before. That`s a kind of weird statement, I know, but that is what the criteria is. And at that time they should have paid more attention.

I would question, since -- since Melissa Huckaby was in possession of drugs, muscle relaxants, which has to be prescribed, as she obviously gave to this other child and to her former boyfriend, I`m wondering where she got them from. Who, then, is going to be brought into this, who prescribed them? And whether or not she was on drugs herself.

MURPHY: But, wait, the drugs -- wait...

KURIANSKY: ... of the heinous crime. You cannot just out of your simple mind unless you are psychotic.

MURPHY: Yes, but the drugs are not -- the drugs are not the...


KURIANSKY: The young girl`s...

MURPHY: Jane, the drugs are not the kind of dangerous thing you`d worry about. They`re things. They`re things like Valium, Librium, the stuff that lots of people have because they take it for anxiety. It`s not the classic, oh, my gosh, that`s scary.



KURIANSKY: You need to have somebody prescribe them. You can`t just get them over the counter.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, guys. Guess what? Somebody sent me this and I`m going to use it. OK? It`s a gavel. All right. We`ll all talk -- no, but seriously, let me say this.

Drew Findling, we understand now that when they -- in the criminal complaint they say essentially that she mixed this harmful substance with food or drink with the intent that the same be taken by a human being. In plain English, they`re accusing her of hiding drugs in food or drink and then giving it to a 7-year-old child and a guy she dated.

This is not just somebody who snapped if this is true. This is a disturbing pattern of an alleged predator.

FINDLING: Well, I think you`ve hit the correct word, "pattern." And I`m going to say words that come very difficult for me, and that is I agree with Wendy. They are -- they`re trying to establish a pattern, a course of conduct.

Believe me, they`re concerned about the previous cases, but that`s not the big picture. The big picture is this murder case. And it`s through these previous transactions they can establish a pattern of conduct that escalates and grows and snowballs into this horrible murder. Then that is their goal, and that will be the focus of how they use these.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Fabulous panel, hang tight. I`ve got breaking news just in as we went on set. I`m going to tell you in a moment. More analysis of this disturbing case. Do you think Huckaby will enter an insanity plea? 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297.

Then, an Amber Alert issued as authorities frantically search for a beautiful 5-year-old girl in Michigan. There`s a disturbing twist, however, involving the mom`s boyfriend.

Plus another season of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" under way. So how does the really couple confront all the scandalous rumors of infidelity?

But first, with allegations that another girl was victimized by Melissa Huckaby, could there be even more victims out there? Cops back in April asked anybody with knowledge, please step forward.


SGT. TONY SHENEMAN, TRACY POLICE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: What we`re asking is for the public if they have any indications that any of their children may have had inappropriate contact with Miss Huckaby to contact us.




JOE CHAVEZ, SANDRA CANTU`S UNCLE: We have to live the rest of our lives without Sandra. She`s in jail. She can still see her little girl grow up. We don`t. We don`t get to see that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you still want the death penalty?

CHAVEZ: Of course. Prison is too -- prison is too lenient.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Little Sandra Cantu`s devastated uncle tells reporters he wants to see accused murderess Melissa Huckaby sentenced to death for allegedly raping and killing his beautiful 8-year-old niece. We`re talking about an 8-year-old, people!

Huckaby now facing new charges that she drugged one adult and one child, a 7-year-old girl. This is astounding, disgusting stuff.

We are back with our panel. Phone lines alighting up. Judy, Florida, your question or thought, ma`am.

CALLER: Hi, Nancy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jane. Go ahead with your question.

CALLER: OK. How come Melissa didn`t have a background check run on her before she was allowed to teach Sunday school? Or it was because her grandfather being the pastor, nepotism in there?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, you raise an excellent point. Now, the church where Huckaby taught Sunday school was actually vandalized this weekend. That`s how angry people are. The sign was broken and torn down. There it is. The church has also gotten lots of threatening phone calls ever since Huckaby was accused of this horrific rape and murder of little Sandra Cantu.

I have to ask this question of Dr. Judy. This woman has an extraordinarily troubled past. Two petty thefts, bankruptcy, depression. She`s a person of interest, or was, in two house fires. She claimed to be raped by a cop who was later completely exonerated, and the list goes on and on.

Given all that, was it wise for her granddad to let her teach Sunday school and have contact with kids?

KURIANSKY: Absolutely not. We saw the gentleman, Jane. He looked like a perfectly sweet gentleman, and obviously, he`s a man of the cloth. He made a bad choice there.

All the history that you just detailed, is very damning and very telling that this girl still should not have been teaching Sunday school. She should have not have been around children. And all that list of problems is what we call cold morbidity. It`s a confluence of many things.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But Judy, let me jump in and say it`s all over the map. What I find so bizarre about it is that there`s not -- there`s no one theme except for perhaps this drugging theme that has emerged. I mean, she`s got petty theft. A person of interest in arson fires.

And then there`s the bankruptcy. There`s the thoughts of suicide. There`s the accusations against several men that they were abusive and the claim that she was raped by a cop. It`s all over the map.

KURIANSKY: It is. And in fact, many times you think it`s just one behavior, that somebody just picks one particular way of acting out, but this is clearly a case where we see and it is a psychological fact that some people just have this way of acting out all over the place.

MURPHY: Well, you know what...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Who is...

EIGLARSH: We don`t know that -- we don`t know that Grandpa knew all of this. I don`t know that you carry that around on a resume. And also I`m not sure that he even thought, all, with the petty theft and the bankruptcy, that somehow that would preclude her from being a decent teacher.

If he`s going to go -- if he`s going to go back in time and say, "Look at all of these things we dug up. She`s not the ideal candidate." And she`s not. She shouldn`t be around children. But I don`t know that those around her either knew or should have known that this ultimate horrible, horrific act, allegedly, would take place.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree. She probably didn`t waltz into her grandparents` lives and say I`m the person of interest in two arson fires.

Angie Crouch, you have a new piece of information about the child who was allegedly drugged back in January?

ANGIE CROUCH, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: That`s right. The mother of that little 7-year-old girl talked to the Tracy newspaper, and I spoke with the reporter who talked to her today.

The reporter told me here`s what the mother said. She says she reported the little 7-year-old girl missing. And keep in mind, this is a couple of months before Sandra Cantu went missing. She reports the little girl missing. About four hours later, Melissa Huckaby, who`s her neighbor, shows up with the little girl. She brings her to the house.

At first the little girl appeared OK, but then she started kind of acting a little bit groggy. We heard from her sister that she couldn`t walk. Finally, their mom takes her to the emergency room. They find muscle relaxants in her system. Child Protective Services takes he little girl overnight, does more testing, examines her, evaluates her.

And the next day the mother claims that the little girl told her she could barely remember what happened, but she did remember that Melissa Huckaby took her to a park. And the mother told the newspaper reporter that this little girl claims that Melissa Huckaby gave -- took her to Wendy`s and gave her water that tasted like medicine.

MURPHY: Can I say something...

CROUCH: Told the police about this, and the police questioned Huckaby, but never did a search warrant at her house.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why not? Why not?

CROUCH: Good question. Could this have been prevented? They could have saved Sandra.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I mean, come on; that`s drugging. That`s not somebody just saying, "Oh, you took my daughter to the park for 45 minutes without my permission." The child was drugged, and there was evidence of that.

MURPHY: They should have done something, but let me say this...

Can I just say something here? Look.


MURPHY: One of the reasons that they didn`t do much more is because the kid had no memory. One of the reasons people sexually exploit and do pornography with children and use benzos as a facilitator is because it dissipates the memory. You can`t remember what happened.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to jump in here. We`ve got one minute, and I`ve got to tell you about something brand new.

MURPHY: They did a sexual assault examination after they found out Sandra Cantu had been raped.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mark Eiglarsh, a crime blog,, claims -- and I have no independent confirmation of this -- that investigators have found disturbing information on Melissa Huckaby`s computer that she -- this -- this -- according to authorities, Huckaby`s hard drive contained multiple Internet searches about a murdered child in Israel, a case that has startling similarities, including the body turning up in a suitcase.

I`ve got about 20 seconds for you to respond to that.

EIGLARSH: Well, the short answer is if somehow that`s true -- and it`s a big if, because a lot of stuff we hear on all of these shows are not necessarily true. But if it is true, that could bear some relevance if somehow the facts are very similar.


MURPHY: It totally does. It`s a micking. That`s where people get these ideas from.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, fabulous panel and amazing insights.

Bad news for Casey Anthony as her one-time BFF testifies against her in the Zanny the nanny dispute. You won`t believe what she said.

Cops in a race against time in Michigan. An adorable 5-year-old girl vanishes. Authorities fear she`s in extreme danger. But there`s a twist, involving the mom`s boyfriend. We wall have the very latest on this very shocking case next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: In the spotlight tonight, an Amber Alert has authorities in Michigan racing to find an adorable 5-year-old girl, saying she`s in extreme danger.

Nevaeh Buchanan, allegedly snatched from a child scooter late Sunday evening in her Monroe, Michigan, apartment complex. Look at this beautiful girl. Look at this child that we`re searching for. Three feet tall, weighs 45 pounds. She`s about 3`8", a little taller that that. And has brown hair and eyes and last seen wearing a red, white and blue striped shirt and knee-length blue jeans.

As investigators search fields near her home, her mom replays the terrible moment.


JENNIFER BUCHANAN, MOTHER OF NEVAEH BUCHANAN: I little girl came in and said Nevaeh is playing outside in the road on her scooter. So I go outside, and I go to tell her not to play on the road, to stay on the sidewalk, and I couldn`t find her.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Poor mother. Oh, my gosh.

Cops reportedly say, however, that Mom`s boyfriend is a registered sex offender and is being questioned. Mom says he`s just a friend. However, mom also reportedly admits failing one question on a polygraph test. She says she was very tired and very stressed out. Authorities say at this point they are not, and I repeat not suspects.

Joining by phone, Anu Prakash from CNN affiliate WXYZ in Detroit. What is the very latest?

ANU PRAKASH, WXYZ CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jane, the latest point now is that family and friends have actually organized a search of their own. They gathered around 6 p.m. tonight, and they`ve spread out around the community, looking for 5-year-old Nevaeh.

Of course, investigators are searching, as well, following up on every lead and tip.

Now, you touched on this a moment ago. She disappeared from outside her home Sunday night around 6:30. We`re told she was playing on a scooter with a friend, and at some point that friend left to tell Nevaeh`s mom, Jennifer, that Nevaeh was playing in the street.

Now, when Jennifer went to check on her, little Nevaeh was gone.

Now today, police have confirmed that they talked to a lot of people, questioned both men. Both men are friends of Nevaeh`s mother and have been called persons of interest. Family members say that one of those men is that registered sex offender you were talking about. Authorities say that man right now is being held on a parole violation, while the other man has been released.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And police have questioned and not charged that individual. You`re not naming him, but we are. George Kennedy, a registered sex offender and a friend of Nevaeh`s mom.

She explained his relationship to him and her child this way.


JENNIFER BUCHANAN, MOTHER OF MISSING GIRL: We were friends, and we`ve had contact with each other. But the last time I seen him was, like, four days ago.

He`s had contact with her. She knows who he is. I mean, I`ve known him for two years. Of course, he`s going to come across her one day.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now he`s being held, as we heard, for parole violation. Cops say he`s being cooperative. And again, he`s not considered a suspect, but anew, the mom admits this guy was in her little girl`s life and he was convicted, according to the national sex offender registry, of attempted criminal sexual conduct in the third degree, attempted child accosting for immoral purposes. That`s a dangerous situation, potentially.

PRAKASH: It certainly is. And, you know, we talked to Nevaeh`s grandmother, Jennifer`s mother, as well as Nevaeh`s uncle, Jennifer`s brother Michael Buchanan. And we asked him about this man. And he said, "You know what? I really didn`t know anything about his history, but when I found out I did go to my sister and expressed my concerns." And...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let`s just hope that we find this gorgeous child. Anu, thank you.

Shocking new allegations against accused killer Drew Peterson. Did he try to hire a hit man? We`ll find out.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Casey Anthony`s civil war rages on. Her former best friend grilled in the Zanny the nanny suit claiming she never, ever heard Casey mention Zenaida Gonzalez.

Plus the scandalous fifth season of "Jon and Kate Plus 8" kicks off. Did they openly deal with the accusations of infidelity swirling around their marriage? I`ll find out if we`ll soon see just "Kate Plus 8."

A devastating one-two punch to ex-cop and accused killer Drew Peterson; tonight he remains in jail on $20 million bond. The judge would not lower that very high bail. Peterson also faces a stunning new accusation -- get this that he tried allegedly to take out a hit on his third wife Kathleen Savio before allegedly doing the job himself.

Prosecutors say Peterson offered 25,000 clams to somebody a year before Kathleen`s 2004 bathtub death. They also claimed Drew divulged to a former fellow cop that his life would be easier if Kathleen Savio were, quote, "just dead," end quote.

This isn`t the first time we`ve heard about Drew asking for help eliminating a wife. Here`s his own stepbrother on ABC`s "Good Morning America" back in March.


THOMAS MORPHEY, DREW PETERSON`S STEPBROTHER: He said, "How much do you love me."

I said, "I do."

And he said, "Enough to kill for me?"

And at that point I -- I was in shock. I said, "That`s not something I can live with."

And he said, "Well can you live with knowing about it?"


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So could prosecutors establish a pattern of Drew allegedly seeking murder for hire? And what about those human remains discovered along a riverbank near Drew`s home last week? Is the badly decomposed body missing wife number four Stacy Peterson?

Straight to my expert panel: Mark Eiglarsh, criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor; Wendy Murphy, former prosecutor and professor at New England school of law and author of "And Justice for Some."

Wendy, how significant is this new claim that Drew Peterson tried to allegedly hire somebody to kill wife number three, Kathleen Savio, before allegedly doing the job himself.

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, can I just say, first of all, finally a reason to celebrate his big, fat mouth? I mean, he was yakking up a storm, wasn`t he?

The thing I want to say as well is I have an article at the on this case in some detail, by the way and I also have a piece on Melissa Huckaby case on all these new developments.


MURPHY: I just want to send folks there.

But here`s the gist of what I think is true about this hitmen evidence, it is probably the thing the prosecution need more than anything because their problem was they had conflicting autopsies. One said accident and the newest one said homicide.

What`s the best kind of evidence to rebut accident, proof that he intended to kill her? Well, gees, you`ve got a hitman saying, "Yes, he try to hire me and want to give me 25 grand."

I mean, my goodness, the evidence is so strong because even though hitmen tend to be thugs and you might think they don`t exactly have the best credibility in the world, they`re up there saying things under oath that most people don`t want the whole world to hear.

Let`s say, "He was looking for me to kill his wife." You`re not going get a lot of invitations to the neighborhoods barbecue when you admit those things.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I think that a lot of times when it comes to these kinds of witnesses -- I`ve seen it in case after case -- they turn out to be very shady characters who are either drug addicts or have a history that includes criminality.

I mean, you don`t go to Sunday -- well, I shouldn`t use Sunday school teacher, should I -- but you don`t go to a librarian...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ...and ask them to carry out a hit.

So can these individuals who say, "Yes, he tried to hire me," -- remember the Robert Blake case?

EIGLARSH: Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I mean, they had alleged hitmen there who were hearing voices and crawling on the ground because they were doing so many drugs and he was acquitted.

EIGLARSH: Yes, yes, without question, rookie lawyers should be able to make some reasonable doubt with the testimony, but here`s the problem. You keep throwing in different witnesses and different people who you then have to destroy and after a while the jury is, like, well, wait a second, it`s a lot easier to believe that he really did try to kill her.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: After Friday`s hearing where the judge refused to reduce bail for Drew Peterson, Kathleen Savio`s sister spoke out.


SUSAN DOMAN, KATHLEEN SAVIO`S SISTER: All you Drew Peterson fan, sorry to disappoint you, but its Kathleen Savio`s day. It`s about time.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: They`re angry and they`re feeling good about that bail not getting reduced.

Meantime, Wendy Murphy, could the body discovered less than 20 miles from Drew`s home be Stacy? Workers and investigators trying to figure this out; no head, no arms, no feet and we`re going to have to wait weeks. What are your thoughts?

MURPHY: Yes, I mean, look, we know it`s only bones but we know it`s bones found near a bucket and a very odd kind of bucket that his brother- in-law reportedly said he helped him carry a heavy, over a hundred pound heavy bucket to get rid of it. That`s a little bit too much of a coincidence.

The good news is God bless science. You can actually identify people from their bone marrow. The bones are there and it might take a little extra time, but if that`s Stacy Peterson we will find out and he will be charged.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but Mark...

EIGLARSH: And prosecutors need this. I`ll tell you why, they`re alleging that she`s still out there. They`re going to have jurors look back at the door as they say here she comes in and some might even look.

So you want to make sure that you can prove that his wife is no longer with us and obviously if it`s number four...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You are absolutely right about that.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, Wendy.

Now to a stunning revelation in the case against Casey Anthony; her former BFF, "Best Friends Forever" spilling the beans of Zanny the nanny that might have been another one of Casey`s intricate lies during her deposition in the defamation suit against Casey.

Ex-friend, Annie Downing said she never, ever, ever, never ever, ever heard the name Zenaida Gonzalez, but that`s not all.


ANNIE DOWNING, FORMER BEST FRIEND OF CASEY`S: It`s all odd. Every bit of it is. Again, I -- she would start saying something and I would back out of it. I really didn`t want to know. I didn`t want that person that knew everything.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s all odd. I like that; a great way to sum up this case. What else could Casey have wanted to get off her chest during their private conversations?

Straight to my panel: still here, former prosecutor Mark Eiglarsh; and joining me again, Drew Findling, Atlanta criminal defense attorney.

Drew, this ex-friend, Annie Downing also testified Casey told her, quote, "Whoever had her child they were telling her to say everything that she said," end quote.

Now, that implies Casey was telling friends -- the alleged kidnappers are communicating with me, but if Annie takes the stand and says that and there are no records of any such communications which so far we haven`t seen, could that really put the nail in her coffin?

DREW FINDLING, ATLANTA DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I`ve said before, I think that the defense -- I don`t think I actually know, the defense should have a long time ago moved away from Zanny, the whole baby-sitting defense thing and gone with, hey, bad parenting, didn`t report for 30 days, but it doesn`t mean that she killed her child.

They`d be in a lot better situation. They`d be able to settle this lawsuit and say hey, she made it up and take a $1 million off of any books we sell and make the civil attorneys go away with a ridiculous lawsuit. But the longer they stay on this the more they`re going to be buried.

And what`s going to be interesting though, is are they going to get a yes man or a yes woman to come in to assist in the death penalty part or are they going to get that checks and balances defense attorney to come in and say, "Hey, folks, we need to move away from this defense because we`re losing a lot of credibility real quick, particularly if we want to keep this woman alive if she`s convicted."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and they`re just bringing in their death penalty qualified lawyer who, if the case is going to start in October is not going to have a whole heck of a lot of time to get up to speed on an extraordinarily...

EIGLARSH: It`s not starting in October. It is not starting in October, there is absolutely no way. Maybe October of the following year if we`re lucky...


EIGLARSH: And for sure as Drew said, we`re going to get a yes man. I know from speaking with Terry Letterman who is the death attorney initially that Jose Baez has this case and he`s controlling it and he doesn`t want anyone doing anything...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right...

EIGLARSH: ...that`s not consistent with what he wants to do.

FINDLING: But Mark, that being -- but that being said, I have to tell you, and I think it was bad form to talk in the public...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right...

FINDLING: ...about the dissent in the ranks.

EIGLARSH: I agree, I agree.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`ve got to move on because we`ve got some more great sound bites from this former BFF. Casey`s former best friend Annie Downing told lawyers of Zenaida Gonzalez that their client`s name never, never came up in conversation with anyone.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever hear anybody in that group of friends ever mentioned the name Zenaida Gonzalez?

DOWNING: No, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever hear any of her friends mention the name Zanny?

DOWNING: No, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Have you ever met a Zanny, a person named Zanny that has been described as a 10 that was friends -- longtime friends with Casey?

DOWNING: No, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe that person even exists?

DOWNING: No, sir.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Drew. Is she a killer witness for the prosecution?

FINDLING: Well, I mean, again, again, you know, when you do these cases you know there`s a reason why you don`t want your client to talk to the police because sometimes they say things that are misinterpreted and sometimes they even lie, but it doesn`t mean that you can`t clean it up later on down the road.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m asking you a question, is this woman going to be...

EIGLARSH: I can answer it.

FINDLING: I think it is hugely, hugely problematic and that is why the defense should have moved away from this ridiculousness a long time ago.

EIGLARSH: I agree with you on that -- yes...

FINDLING: Your responsibility as a lawyer is to sanitize and clean and explain.

EIGLARSH: Jane, people know who my nanny is. People know who my nanny and who takes care of my children.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, congratulations Mark. All right, Mark, Drew, thank you so much. But we`ve got to move on right now.

The California Supreme Court upholds a ban on same-sex marriage and thousands take to the streets in protest. I`ll tell you what it means for gay couples who married before the ban like Ellen DeGeneres.

Then, Jon and Kate Gosselin confront their scandals with the cameras rolling for a brand new season. If they split up, will their hit show survive? Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586-7297. Please, sound off.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Could it be "Jon minus Kate Plus 8?" Find out in just a bit.

But first "Top of the Block" tonight.

A stunning blow to the same-sex rights in California; the California Supreme Court upheld a ban on gay marriage put in effect after voters passed an initiative in November. Protestors turned out -- take a look at them -- by the thousands today chanting "shame on you" in front of the courthouse. Here`s one protestor.


KATHLEEN WHITE, PROP 8 OPPONENT: The point is that everybody should have the same civil rights across the board. I mean, to me, this is the equivalent of saying, putting a measure on the ballot that says people over 50 can`t vote or people of a certain race can`t own property. It`s just appalling.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: There is one tiny silver lining today for protestors. The court ruled that the 18,000 same-sex marriages performed before the ban will remain valid. So couples like Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, they are still married folks, under the law.

But it`s not over yet; those in favor of same-sex marriage preparing another ballot initiative for next year. And there are already some polling indications that it could succeed. We are going to stay on top of that story.

That is tonight`s "Top of the Block."

And tonight Jon and Kate Gosselin speaking out, but they`re barely speaking to each other. The much-anticipated season premiere of TLC`s "Jon and Kate plus 8" may have said it all as the reality TV couple barely appeared in a single frame together as they celebrated their sextuplets fifth birthday.

And when they were together -- take a look at that -- it was visibly awkward. They rarely glanced at or directly addressed the other and it all were anything, but a united front. Kate broke down when talking about that birthday party.


KATE GOSSELIN, "JON & KATE PLUS 8": I don`t want to ruin my makeup. You know, I remember thinking if this possibly could be maybe -- I don`t know, our last family picture. I knew it was important to do.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Jon and Kate both deny rumors upon infidelity but were still unable to answer a simple question about their status.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the status of where you guys are right now?

GOSSELIN: I wish I knew.

JON GOSSELIN, "JON & KATE PLUS 8": I don`t know. I really don`t know.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Not happy people at this moment, I don`t believe.

Is the demise of Jon and Kate just another cautionary tale for those out there looking to make a quick buck as a pseudo-celebrity? Give me a holler.

Straight to my expert panel: Judy Kuriansky, a.k.a. Dr. Judy, clinical psychologist; the amazing A.J. Hammer, host of "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" and the wonderful Ken Baker, executive news editor for E!

Ken, you spoke exclusively to the brother of Deanna Hummel, the young woman alleged to have had an affair with Jon Gosselin. What exactly did he tell you?

KEN BAKER, EXECUTIVE NEWS EDITOR, E!: I not only spoke to Deanna Hummel`s brother. I was in the house where Deanna lived with Jason Hummel, her brother at the time that the brother claims she was having an affair with Jon Gosselin.

And I have to tell you he came across as very believable and you can see the footage for yourself; we have it on an "E! News Special" this Friday. But he was very clear in saying, "Look, he was over here all of the time. He had numerous sleepovers. They hooked up." And he goes, "What I can tell you, it happened."

He even showed me how he shot video of her and Jon together and actually got Jon leaving the house early one morning. He said he would go into the house and sneak out the back and never be seen from going to the front door. This is really salacious stuff. You showed the clips from the show last night and I have to tell you, that was great television and tragic humanity. It was just...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. I think we all agree, A.J. Hammer, it`s a ratings blockbuster, but at what price to those kids?

A.J. HAMMER, HOST, "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT": The clock is ticking here, Jane. No question about it, 10 million people tuned in to see this thing? That`s no surprise, but I have to tell you, and I think a lot of people had the same reaction as I did.

I never really watched the show other than for the clips that we played on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" and here on ISSUES from the past season. So last night, I had to sit and watch this entire thing because I knew we`d be sitting here talking about it today.

And I saw for the first time these cameras following around every single move of these very young children. And Dr. Judy can chime in on this -- I`m no psychology expert -- but for the development of these small children, having the cameras hovering around them all of the time. Wow, that can`t be a good thing at all.


DR. JUDY KURIANSKY, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: And A.J. is right. It is not a good thing. It is not a good thing for them individually. And just think about these kids around other kids; and those kids then end up taunting them and that ends up being torturous for them.

And as A.J. -- he knows very, very well from being on showbiz and all of the couples that you talked about who fall apart. I think this couple has been bitten by the Hollywood bug. They`ve added drama into their life where it may not have been before...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, I love that.

KURIANSKY: ... and that`s adding to this problem. And I think -- I`m going to step out on a limb and say if it were not for the show that marriage could be saved.


Oh, my gosh. But I love the terminology because we talk about value added and now I`m going to start talking about drama added.

The paparazzi had been stalking Jon and Kate -- that`s the phrase she used apparently -- for the last few weeks. Listen to this.


K. GOSSELIN: Everyone unbuckle at this time before the door opens. Do it quickly because the paparazzi is coming after us.

Good park job, huh?

Oh, thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s paparazzi?

K. GOSSELIN: Don`t say the word.

I`m always like -- I don`t want let them say the word paparazzi. Like, I make them call them p-people because I just -- I don`t want them going to school being like, "Well, the paparazzi followed us." That is so creepy.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ken Baker, this is what angers me more than anything else. She`s commoditizing her family, making a buck. She`s not giving the money away to some charity for children and yet she has the gall to act like she`s the victim of media interest in her and attack the paparazzi?

BAKER: Yes, well, let`s break this down. It`s been reported they get anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 an episode. They`re now into what -- is it their fifth season now?

They have made a lot of money off this show. They now live in a mansion. They used to live in a very middle-class home and neighborhood, just outside of Reading, Pennsylvania. They have lived a very good life, and they opened themselves up. And now they want to close it up but they can`t.

They`ve already opened it up too widely, and I think it`s really frustrating for them as you saw on the show.

And it`s interesting, on E! we have a show called "Keeping Up with the Kardashians." It`s about a bunch of socialites -- a socialite family living in L.A. They live with the paparazzi. Last night that show looked like "Keeping Up with the Gosselins."

KURIANSKY: And here`s really the danger of all this. And that is people repeat what is rewarded. They behave in a way that they get rewarded for. And sadly this couple is being rewarded for their drama.

A.J., you know this. Jane, you know this. Ken, you know this too. In Hollywood they get rewarded for being dramatic, for having daring things happen in their life.

HAMMER: Right. All the time.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve got to take a break. Everybody, stay right there.

Don`t forget, you can catch A.J. Hammer on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" 11:00 p.m. Eastern. He will have all the latest juicy details on "Jon & Kate Plus 8."

And of course, more drama here on ISSUES.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: The big tease tonight: O.J. Simpson`s appeal. The juice: fighting his armed robbery and kidnapping conviction from an incident in a Las Vegas hotel room 2 years ago. Tomorrow on ISSUES we will have full coverage for you.

But for now we`re back talking "Jon & Kate Plus8" and I am taking your calls for our panel.

Karen in Illinois, your question or thought, ma`am.

KAREN, ILLINOIS (via telephone): First of all, Jane, thank you for taking my question -- or my question and comment. My comment is I think Jane has brought this on herself -- or Kate, I`m sorry -- Kate has brought this on herself. And if she cared anything, anything at all about her family, she would take this show off the air and concentrate on getting her family back together and not so much on this million-dollar house that they`re in and the money they`re making.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: A.J. Hammer, let me ask you this question. What happens to this show if they get divorced even if it`s a ratings blockbuster? Can it continue? How do they work that with reality TV?

HAMMER: They`ll figure it out, Jane, because they`re still the parents of these two kids, and I think we`ll still see them all together. And we`ve been talking about that a lot on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT," should they pull the plug?

The truth is in giving Jon & Kate the benefit of the doubt for just a moment, which has been difficult to do, imagine when the show was first pitched to them we`re going to make a nice documentary about your family. It`s going to be a family-friendly show. I can see why that would be very attractive, an opportunity to perhaps make some money without thinking about the big picture. The fact it`s not really good for the kids and the fact that it could set them up to be exposed in the way that they have been exposed.

KURIANSKY: And on top of that, as A.J. was concerned about the kids, what could end up is those kids could go through a major depression if the cameras go off. I`d be psychologically really worried about it. All kids, especially at that age, love...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They like attention.

KURIANSKY: Yes, exactly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me get to another call. Joan in Florida, your question or thought.

JOAN, FLORIDA (via telephone): My though is Kate is obsessed with power and control. She worked over her staff and her husband for 10 years. The problem I don`t see it as the cameras. It`s Kate. She basically hates males, and I hope that Jon and Kate do get divorced because -- and Jon gets custody of the boys and she gets the girls.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ok. You`ve got a whole plan. Ken Baker, your final plan on this mishegash here.

BAKER: I have to say, I spent a couple of days in Pennsylvania around the hometown and I would say the consensus around neighbors and people who know them is that Kate kind of had it coming to her. Even women were coming up to me and saying, "You know what? I don`t blame him for doing what he supposedly did."

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, women aren`t always the nicest to other women. We`ve seen that before.

Thank you to my fantastic panel for joining me tonight.

Got a question or comment about the show or do you have an issue? We all do. Click on; send me an e-mail. You`re watching ISSUES on Jane Velez-Mitchell -- HLN -- not mine but yours.