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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Death Row Prisoner's Appeal
Aired March 24, 2010 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, scared at the 11th hour -- a convicted murderer granted a temporary stay from the Supreme Court less than 60 minutes from his scheduled execution. He almost finished his last meal. He says a DNA test will prove what he's claimed for years -- that he didn't kill his former girlfriend and her two children.
We're live from Texas with the drama that stopped a man from being put to death tonight.
Then, did text messages lead to the brutal attack on a Florida teen now in a coma?
The shocking texts before and after the crime and what they mean to the accused. We'll hear from the mom whose son was deliberately set on fire.
Next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Henry "Hank" Skinner was convicted in 1995 for the murders of his live-in girlfriend, Twila Busby, and her two sons. He's maintained his innocence ever since. Now, he's sought DNA evidence -- testing evidence -- hoping it would reveal who he calls the real killer.
Now, as you just heard, a temporary stay was granted less than three hours ago. The Supreme Court ordered the stay as it considers the issue of taking up the broader appeal.
Joining us are Brandi Grisham (ph), a reporter for "The Texas Tribune," who was scheduled to witness the execution tonight. She's interviewed Henry "Hank" Skinner, by the way.
Jason Clark, public information director for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Sandrine Ageorges-Skinner -- she is the wife of Henry "Hank" Skinner.
And Curtis McCarty, a former death row inmate. He was exonerated by DNA evidence two years ago after spending 19 years in prison for first degree murder. And he's aided in this case.
All right, Jason, you're the public information order. You -- officer. You were ready for the execution.
When did you get -- did you get the word from the court to stay it?
JASON CLARK, PLO, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Yes. We were notified through the attorney general's office that the U.S. Supreme Court had issued a stay. And so we went over and did speak with Mr. Skinner.
KING: He was eating his meal, I understand?
CLARK: Yes, sir. He was finishing up his -- his last meal. He had eaten most of the last meal. And he was on the phone, I believe with his daughter, just a few minutes prior. He was in contact with his attorney. And that attorney relayed to him that the execution was stayed.
KING: So you didn't tell him, the attorney told him?
CLARK: Yes, sir.
KING: What was his first reaction?
CLARK: You know, certainly, he was ecstatic, understandably. When -- when we talked with him, he said that he had felt like the execution was going to go through and he was prepared for that. He said that he was weak in his knees. And at that point, he had said that, you know, he felt like he had won today and that he was looking for additional DNA testing to -- to try to prove his innocence.
KING: Brandi, a reporter for "The Texas Tribune," this stay is only whether the court will consider it, right?
I mean they could, technically, in two days, vote as a group to not consider it, right?
BRANDI GRISSOM, REPORTER, "THE TEXAS TRIBUNE": That's right. It's an indefinite stay. So what the court is considering right now is whether or not they -- they feel there is a need for them to take up and intervene in this case.
KING: The technical question is DNA was not around at the time he was convicted and he wanted to introduce it later and that the lower courts denied that, is that right?
GRISSOM: Actually, the DNA was available at the time of his original trial in 1995. What happened was that, at that time, his original trial attorney decided not to have that DNA evidence tested. And I've spoken with that original trial attorney. His name is Harold Comer. He's still practicing in Pampa, Texas. And what he said was he was worried that having additional DNA tested at that time would further implicate Skinner in this case. And so he didn't ask for the testing on the evidence that Skinner is now asking to be tested.
KING: Well, then that's the crux of the case, right?
Why didn't Skinner...
GRISSOM: That's correct.
KING: -- since he's the client, why didn't he tell his lawyer, I want the DNA introduced?
GRISSOM: There's some dispute there about whether or not he did ask for the testing at the time. Skinner says that he did. His attorneys have a different answer. And they say that they -- that he agreed with them at the time that that testing shouldn't be done. So there's some dispute there about whether or not that testing was asked for at the time of the trial.
KING: Jason, this is probably a simpleton question, but why didn't they just let him introduce it and see what happens?
CLARK: You know, we're not -- as TDCJ, we don't get into the specifics of the case. That's handled through the attorney general's office. And so I really couldn't answer that question.
KING: Is it public -- well, is it puzzling to you, Brandi?
Why don't -- why didn't the lower courts, in essence, say, all right, we have a dispute here. The DNA has let other people -- across the United States, over 200 have been gotten off death row through DNA, why not just see what it says?
GRISSOM: Well, what the state has argued and the prosecutors in this case have argued is that Hank had his chance at the time of the trial to have that evidence tested and that he didn't do so at the time, that the courts have agreed with him that that time passed. And, you know, now it's time to sort of go through with what that 1995 jury decided.
So that's why there hasn't been any testing at this time.
KING: And he was -- he was convicted, Jason, of killing his girlfriend and her two sons.
They were grown boys, right?
CLARK: That's right.
KING: Do they know what the motive was at the time, what convicted him?
CLARK: I'm not sure that they do. There was some different speculation on what exactly the motive was. But I don't know if that was clear or not.
KING: You interviewed him, Brandi.
What did he say to you?
GRISSOM: He said that he -- he felt like Twila Busby was his soul mate. And that on the night of the murders, he was so intoxicated from this sort of cocktail of -- of vodka and codeine that he had taken that he would have been physically unable to commit those murders.
So he's never denied that he was in the house at the time of the murders and that blood that investigators found on his clothing was that of the victims. But he says that he was so comatose -- and toxicology tests prove that he was extremely intoxicated -- so much so that he was unconscious, or nearly unconscious, at the time of the murders. So he says he wouldn't have been able to do the crime that he's been convicted of. And he says that...
GRISSOM: -- that the DNA testing will show, he thinks, that someone else actually did the murders.
KING: Thank you, Brandi.
Thank you, Jason.
Obviously, we're going to hear more on this.
We'll be back with Sandrine, the widow, and another former inmate released through DNA.
Don't go away.
KING: Joining us now, we introduced them earlier, Sandrine Ageorges-Skinner, the wife of "Hank" Skinner. I said widow. I apologize, of course, she is the wife.
And Curtis McCarty, the former death row inmate, who was exonerated by new DNA evidence -- evidence in his case two years ago.
You're a French national, Sandrine, and you -- you met your husband while he was on death row.
How did that happen?
SANDRINE AGEORGES-SKINNER, SKINNER'S WIFE: Yes, that's correct. We met on -- when he was on death row. I -- I started getting involved with a very unique organization that was set up by death row inmates in Texas. And it was run from death row at a time when they were not in isolation. It was called The Lamp of Hope. And I started translating their newsletter. And a friend of mine said to me, well, you know, if you want to correspond, I think there's two or three people you would get on with. And Hank was one of them. And that was in 1996.
KING: Why would you marry someone on death row?
AGEORGES-SKINNER: It's a very long story. The marriage is really part of our personal life. I've been a long time abolitionist, long before I met Hank. And I will be long after, if he has -- if he is to be executed.
The reason we did marry, first of all, is because we love each other. And it's because I wanted to carry his name. We felt that if he was going to be executed, I would fight to get the DNA testing done, to preserve the evidence, to clear his name, to get to the truth, which, at the moment, we are nowhere near.
KING: We're going to hear from Hank in a minute.
But, Curtis, how did you get involved in this?
CURTIS MCCARTY, ON DEATH ROW FOR ALMOST 20 YEARS, EXONERATED BY DNA EVIDENCE: Well, principally because I myself was on death row. And it wasn't until the advent of DNA testing that I had begun to have any hope that I was going to obtain my own freedom. It took many more years, but it did happen. And that's why I'm here, is to represent to that principle that law enforcement has a continuing obligation at all times, even post-conviction, to do DNA testing if there is exculpatory evidence available in -- and let the chips fall where they may.
KING: So you're not judging Hank, whether innocent or guilty, you just want the DNA to be at least entered?
MCCARTY: That's correct. I -- I think Hank has a compelling case of innocence. And again, the State of Texas has an obligation, when they come before the public and say that this crime was so atrocious that the man who committed it is -- were -- is -- should be subjected to execution -- he should lose his life for that. I believe that they have an obligation to test every piece of avail -- available evidence to make sure they've got the right guy.
KING: Hank's guest -- says he's an innocent man.
Let's listen to him in his own words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY "HANK" SKINNER: I don't want to die for something I didn't do. As far as how I feel about it, I think about it all day everyday.
I mean you -- how can you reconcile yourself to die for something you didn't do?
You know, I mean it's impossible. If I were guilty, then I would at least have the luxury of saying well, hell, I done it so this is what I get, you know what I mean?
But I don't even have that luxury because I didn't do it. I'm innocent. That's all I need to say, you know. You're about to kill an innocent man.
Do you even care?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: All right. Sandrine, you weren't there. How -- how can you be so convinced he didn't do it?
AGEORGES-SKINNER: Well, I think, unfortunately, a number of media have totally misrepresented his case. It's not what he is saying or what I'm saying. The facts of the case exist to prove that the little that was tested prior to trial excluded him. The little that was tested, thanks to David Protess, during the evidence -- the first conviction appeals, exclude him. And that it is just mind- boggling that evidence preserved from the crime scene, 15 years later, including the murder weapons, a rape kit, nail clippings from the vic -- one of the victims, a male jacket that doesn't fit his size at all with sweat, hair, DNA, to this day, is not tested.
I mean it's just -- I'm convinced of his innocence not because I love him and he's my husband, I'm convinced of his innocence also because beside the DNA issue, there is scientific forensic evidence to prove that he was not even in a state to stand up at the time of the crime, let alone murder three people that he loved.
There is absolutely no motive. At the trial, the only thing...
KING: All right...
AGEORGES-SKINNER: -- that got him sentenced to death was a state witness that -- who was threatened very seriously and recanted two years later and explained how she was threatened and, you know, withdrew her testimony at trial. That was the only thing that got him sentenced to death.
KING: We'll -- we'll discuss some other evidence. Other guests are going to join us.
For the record, by the way, the district attorney's office involved in this case, and the governor's office, is not commenting. No one wants to see an innocent man convicted, of course.
AGEORGES-SKINNER: Of course.
KING: We hope that this is resolved.
More of "Hank" Skinner, in his own words, when we come back.
KING: Joining Sandrine and Curtis in Huntsville, Texas is the Reverend Albert Maggard. He is a friend of "Hank" Skinner.
And in New York, Nina Morrison, senior attorney with The Innocence Project. She's worked with "Hank" Skinner's legal team trying to get this DNA test. And, by the way, she just told me that The Innocence Project has gotten 251 inmates out of prison with DNA testing. That means they were incorrectly convicted.
But based on some of the evidence here, Texas authorities say that he was found close by wearing heavily bloodstained jeans and socks, bearing a gash on his right hand. Authorities also say blood on the shirt he was wearing at the time of the arrest was Twila's and her sons.
Nina, frankly, isn't that pretty incriminating?
NINA MORRISON, SENIOR ATTORNEY, THE INNOCENCE PROJECT: Well, you know, one thing we've learned at The Innocence Project through these 251 cases and counting is that no amount of speculation about a person's guilt can substitute for a DNA test. You know, people said a lot of the same things about Curtis McCarty, one of our former clients who you just saw, who is a free man today -- and innocent.
And really -- and I think that the Supreme Court stay will hopefully allow us to make clear, whether or not "Hank" Skinner is guilty or innocent, everyone agrees he should have an opportunity to prove that innocence through DNA testing before he's executed and the ultimate punishment is carried out.
KING: When does the court take up whether they will hear it?
MORRISON: We don't know. You know, as you alluded to earlier, it could be a matter of days and the stay may be over and we could be right back where we were this afternoon, which is waiting for the governor to issue a reprieve for DNA testing.
But hopefully, the Supreme Court will realize there are very important legal issues in the case and agree to hear the case.
KING: Before we hear from reverend Maggard, here's "Hank" Skinner talking about the night of the crime.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H. SKINNER: The house looked like a bloodbath. There was blood all over the walls everywhere. I remember when I fell, I was laying on the floor and I remember looking sideways across at her. And I saw what was done to her and I knew there was no way she could survives that. I knew she was dead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Reverend Maggard, how do you come to know Mr. Skinner?
REV. ALBERT MAGGARD, SKINNER'S FRIEND: Shortly after he was arrested, he wrote me a letter and asked me if I would correspond with him, because he needed spiritual counsel and help.
KING: And you liked him and you obviously got to like him.
All right. Do you believe in his innocence?
MAGGARD: Yes, Larry. That's the reason that I'm fighting in his behalf. I don't believe in an innocent person being executed and I do believe in his actual innocence.
KING: And what is that belief based on? MAGGARD: The -- the scientific evidence. He was so drunk and drugged and bombed out of his gourd that he doesn't know what happened. It's like if we were having a surgical operation and we were out of it. But the evidence -- the scientific evidence is so convincing and so compelling that he could not have done it. And there -- there's also evidence that another person did. And I think by following the, you know, the clear indications of the evidence, that you can't reach another conclusion except that he is innocent.
KING: We'll have more right after these words.
KING: In a moment, we'll find out what the panel thinks the Supreme Court will do.
First, let's meet Tara Bradley, a friend of the victim. She says that "Hank" Skinner was abusive to Twila Busby and her sons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TARA BRADLEY, TWILA BUSBY'S FRIEND: He would just be so mean and vulgar to her and tell her that, you know, she was worthless, the kids were worthless, that she wasn't worth even living.
He beat her. He beat the kids so badly that she was scared to death that he was going to kill her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now joining us on the phone is Tara Bradley.
What do you make of all of this?
Are you convinced he did it, Tara?
BRADLEY: Yes, I am. I would really like to speak for Twila, because Twila was seeking help to get away from this man. She and her two children were on disability. Her two sons were a little bit slow. And she was getting an SSI check on all three of them. And he would steal her money and go and buy the alcohol and drugs, where she was trying to get help to get away from him.
BRADLEY: She had gotten...
KING: Do you think...
BRADLEY: -- up the courage to get away from -- away from him through speaking to me and other women that have been abused...
KING: Tara, wouldn't you like to see -- objectively, wouldn't you like to see the DNA evidence just so it would finally close matters?
BRADLEY: Well, what he's saying now is that she was having a love affair with her uncle, whom is dead now. And, you know, we had an attorney on TV tonight that said that any evidence that anyone else had been in that house. I know her uncle was trying to get her away from him. And he's dead now and he can't speak for himself. So his DNA could be in the house. But I also know that there was hair and skin under her fingernails. And so if this proves not to be Skinner's, I will be truly shocked, because I have seen him abuse her...
KING: I got you.
BRADLEY: -- and the boys, not only physically, but mentally -- mentally abused her.
KING: All right. In a TV interview, Skinner had some strange things to say about the murder.
Let's listen to that and get the opinions of panel.
KING: All right. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H. SKINNER: It sounds real sick, but there's been times in my life that -- in here when I've thought to myself, if it had to happen and it had to go that way, I wish I had have done it, because I wouldn't have done them like that, the way they were -- the way it was done, you know what I'm saying?
I would have let them out easy or something, you know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I guess a little weird.
Nina, are you -- is your legal position you want the DNA or is your position with The Innocence Project that he didn't do it?
MORRISON: No. We don't know if Mr. Skinner is innocent or guilty. In fact, we never know until we do a DNA test. And you raised a very important point about the victim's interests in all of this and the public's interest, because given the horrible crime that was committed, if "Hank" Skinner didn't do it, that means someone else did.
And why shouldn't we do a simple DNA test that could accomplish two things?
It might confirm that "Hank" Skinner is guilty, in which case it will end the cloud of doubt that surrounds his execution right now. Or it could raise serious questions about his innocence and potentially identify another person, whether it's the victim's uncle, who had a serious record of violent crimes himself, or someone else, as the person who really committed the murder.
MORRISON: And all of those are very important things to accomplish before we carry out the ultimate punishment.
KING: Sandra, in your gut, do you think the court will hear it?
AGEORGES-SKINNER: I'm sorry.
Are you talking to me?
KING: Yes. Do you think the court will hear the case and will decide whether DNA could be used?
AGEORGES-SKINNER: Well, actually, the question before the Supreme Court is not whether the DNA should be used in his case. The question as to the Supreme Court at the moment is whether first conviction and first conviction appeal process, you can go through a civil process or the habeas process only. In certain states, you can use the civil process. In other states, you can only use the habeas process.
AGEORGES-SKINNER: Hank has been denied DNA testing through the habeas process. His attorneys filed a complaint against the current Gray County D.A. because she's refusing to release the evidence to this current attorney for private testing.
Let's not forget that for 15 years, the defense has asked for DNA testing -- privately funded DNA testing. It's not going to cost the state anything.
KING: All right...
AGEORGES-SKINNER: Why would Hank be searching and asking for DNA testing for so long if he's guilty?
And I would like to add one thing that you said that is absolutely incomplete regarding the bloodstains on his clothes. The police report -- the only police report states clearly that these are contact stains, they are not blood splatter. And they exclude him as the assailant. And it's an important point and I think it needs to be mentioned.
KING: And we will do a lot more on this. And we thank you all.
What a -- what a puzzling, puzzling thing. A re-examination of evidence freed our next guest from prison just last month. You'll meet him, after this.
KING: Ryan Seacrest tomorrow night, Snoop Dogg on Friday. Greg Taylor was 29 in September of 1991. He and an acquaintance were doing drugs on a remote dirty path in North Carolina. As they were about to leave, Greg's truck got stuck. So the two men walked toward a road, where they saw a body. Because they were high, they didn't contact the police. As a result, both became suspects when the body was found with Greg's abandoned truck nearby.
Greg Taylor is with us. He was convicted of murder and exonerated last month after serving 6,149 days. That's nearly two decades. Christine Mumma, Greg's lawyer, is here as well. She's director of the North Carolina Center for Actual Innocence. What freed him, Christine?
CHRISTINE MUMMA, CENTER FOR ACTUAL INNOCENCE: There was lots of evidence that we had to present to free him. We had to actually prove to the judges that he was innocent, not just not guilty, but innocent. We showed that there was some testing that was done in 1991, some evidence that was obtained from his truck that was reported to be blood. In actuality, it was not human blood. There were some witnesses who were very questionable, snitch testimony, that we had to call into question. And we had to basically relive that night with the judges. Go ahead.
KING: Has the killer been found?
MUMMA: Not yet. We're working on it. Raleigh police have reopened the investigation. We have information to share with them. We're hoping to do that next week.
KING: What was it like for you, Greg, to be in prison when you know you didn't do it?
GREG TAYLOR, WRONGLY IMPRISONED FOR ALMOST 20 YEARS: Well, it's kind of left me searching for a purpose, was the main thing. So the purpose that I found was to better myself throughout all those years and to fight my case.
KING: Did you always think you would get free?
TAYLOR: In my darkest moments, sometimes I thought I would spend the rest of my life in prison. But, for the most part, I held out the hope that eventually the truth would prevail.
KING: What do you make of the Skinner situation we've just been talking about?
TAYLOR: Well, I believe if there's evidence to be tested, that -- you know, that hasn't been tested yet, that it should be. I don't think anybody should be afraid of the truth.
KING: Do you believe, Christine, that there are a lot of men like Greg Taylor in prison in the United States?
MUMMA: I believe there are some. And that's certainly enough. So we need to do everything we can to get them out, and get the true perpetrators behind bars.
KING: Do you think, Christine, that the Supreme Court will hear the Skinner matter?
MUMMA: The Supreme Court doesn't have a great track record on these issues. But we can always hope that as they see the science proving innocence for people who are behind bars, that we can have our law follow.
KING: Greg, what convicted you?
TAYLOR: The main thing was a jail-house informant. That was the reason why I was brought to trial. The charges against my co- defendant were dropped. There was also the issue of that spot that was on my truck that was claimed to be blood, but was later found out to be not blood. There was also some attorney issues, and another witness that was suspect, as far as identification of the victim.
MUMMA: The real issue in his case was tunnel vision. The police -- his truck was there. The body was there. So that was pretty much case closed at that point.
KING: Your daughter was nine at the time. She's now 26. How are you doing with her, Greg?
TAYLOR: She's fantastic. I lived with her now. I'm staying in my grandson's room, really enjoying getting to know her and being a part of her life.
KING: What a terrible thing to picture. I can only imagine what it must be like. Thanks, Greg. Thanks, Christine.
MUMMA: Thank you.
TAYLOR: Thank you, sir.
KING: Two heinous crimes; one teen burned on purpose, another deliberately kicked in the head. Why? Next.
KING: welcome back. Fifteen-year-old Josie Ratley is in a coma after being kicked in the head, allegedly by a teen in steel-toed boots. Police say the attack was by text messages in which he threatened to snap her neck. In another case, Michael Brewer, a fellow student at Josie's school in Florida, was set on fire allegedly by a group of school mates. He jumped into a swimming pool to save himself. More than two-thirds of Michael's body was burned. Today, he's recovering at home, slowly regaining use of his body. Michael recently went to Josie's bedside, hoping to encourage her.
Joining us are Hilda Gotay, Josie's mother, Rick Freedman, Josie's attorney, and Valerie Brewer. She's burn victim Michael Brewer's mother. Let's check with Hilda. First, Hilda, how is Josie doing?
HILDA GOTAY, DAUGHTER IN COMA: Well, she's pretty much the same, I would say. She's got a little cough going. We don't know if that's coming actually from her. She has her -- a couple times her legs may shiver, so those are the only things.
RICK FREEDMAN, ATTORNEY FOR JOSIE RATLEY: She's still in induced coma, Larry. She has been so for seven days now, ever since the incident. The doctors aren't going to take her out of the induced coma until the swelling on her brain goes down.
KING: Rick, the accused is, what, a 15-year-old boy? We're not going to mention him. But is that who is accused of this?
FREEDMAN: That's our understanding from the police reports. He's 15 years old and he is in custody right now.
KING: She needs an attorney. Does that mean she's planning some lawsuit over this?
FREEDMAN: When she called us it was because, quite frankly, the media was following them around. They wouldn't let them get out of their house, and coming in and out of the hospital. She didn't know how to handle the situation. And her sister knew our firm, called Gordon and Donnor (ph), and we said, how can we help. Since then, we have just been trying to respond to the media requests.
The community support, I will tell you, has been unbelievable and overwhelming. Every single part of the nation and outside of this country, including Canada, has been calling to find out where they can give, you know, to the fund that we set up at ForTheInjured.com. It's just amazing.
KING: I want to show our audience a picture of Josie before the attack. Here's what she looked like after the attack. We warn you that this might be difficult to see. There's Josie as Josie. There's Josie after the attack. Hilda, can you figure out, in all of your imagination, what prompted someone to do this to your daughter?
GOTAY: No, I can't. I can't picture anybody want to harm Josie, because Josie is a loving child. She's very, very caring, very caring. She's a generous girl. She gets along with everybody. I don't know why anybody would want to hurt her.
KING: Have you seen the text messages that were sent to her, threatening her?
GOTAY: Not at all.
KING: Have you seen them, Rick?
FREEDMAN: The detectives and the state attorney's office is not sharing that information. The rules of criminal procedure basically prohibit it until they're turned over to the defense attorneys. KING: Is she going to recover fully, Rick?
FREEDMAN: Well, the doctors are basically right now talking about it's a 24 hour by 24 hour thing. Every single day, we hope that something positive happens. And eventually, they will take her out of the induced coma. And then hopefully, she wakes up and hopefully her smile will be there, like the picture shows. But the truth of the matter is, we just don't know.
KING: Considering the text messages, the Broward County Sheriff talked about some of those messages that the suspect allegedly sent out. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF AL LAMBERTI, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: She made a derogatory comment. It set him off, pushed him over the edge. He made the comment back I'm coming over there and I'm going to snap your neck.
Showed no remorse. To the contrary, Sent another text message saying to his friends, I guess I'm going to prison; I almost killed somebody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Again, we're not naming the suspect because he is 15 years old. We'll come back and meet Michael Brewer's mother right after this.
KING: Back with our group and now Valerie Brewer, the mother of Michael brewer. Michael was the same school as Josie, was doused with rubbing alcohol and then set on fire. Valerie, are they suspecting the same 15-year-old boy or is it a completely different matter?
VALERIE BREWER, MOTHER OF MICHAEL BREWER: It's a completely different matter.
KING: Isn't it odd that these two violent acts would occur at the same school?
BREWER: Yes, it is.
KING: Tell me what happened with your Michael.
BREWER: Michael was surrounded by some boys and he was doused with a liquid and set on fire. He was covered 65 percent of his body with burns. He fought for his life. He's still recovering. He's doing wonderful. But he still has a long way to go.
He just, today, received his eyeglasses because he had some burns to his eye, his left eye, and he couldn't see very well. But now he can see again. The doctors are very hopeful that that will also correct itself.
KING: He jumped in a swimming pool. That saved his life, right?
BREWER: Yes, it did.
KING: Does he have any idea why this happened or who did it?
BREWER: Yes, he does, but I'm really not allowed to comment on the case, because it's an on-going investigation.
KING: Do you know anything -- without commenting, do you know any of the boys involved?
BREWER: I do.
KING: You must be quite angry.
BREWER: I've made my peace with it. I pray for them everyday. As long as -- with their mothers and their father, their families, I pray for all of them, my son and anybody that's involved with this.
KING: How many boys were involved?
BREWER: I know they have three in custody at this time.
KING: They spilled alcohol on your boy and set fire to him?
BREWER: Yes, sir.
KING: And you pray for them?
KING: Rick, what is going on at that school?
FREEDMAN: Well, the sheriff talked about it last week, Al Lamberti. And he said that, you know, we can't keep locking up every single juvenile and throw away the key. We've got to do something before it happens. And he said, what can we do about it? It was kind of a Howard Beal moment, "I'm as mad as hell and I don't want to take it anymore."
Now, we're talking about what you do do about it. You look at Josie and you look at her photographs and you say, I'm not going to let this opportunity pass me by. I am going to sit down at the dinner table; I am going to talk to my children; I am going to have a teachable moment here; and I'm going to talk to them about what goes on in their school, what goes on with their supposed friends, what goes on on Facebook and MySpace.
You have to have serious discussions with your children. Don't let this opportunity pass you by. That's what you can do for Josie and her mom.
KING: Hilda, I understand, what, Michael's family came to the hospital yesterday to visit Josie, is that right? GOTAY: Yes. And it was great, because he was in my daughter's classes, two of my daughter's classes. So they knew each other. I know she would have been very happy to know that he was there, you know, supporting her. And wishing her well.
KING: Valerie, were you there?
BREWER: Yes, I was.
KING: How did it affect Michael emotionally, Valerie?
BREWER: He was happy to do it. He wanted to go and show Josie support. Michael's a very loving child. Since this has happened to him, he is more compassionate, even more than he was before. And he wanted to go and show his support to her and to the family, and to let them know that we are praying for Josie and the family, and that we're here for them if they ever need anything, any kind of support or help, or a break at any time. We can come -- we can help because we understand exactly what they are going through.
KING: Hilda, is Josie able to speak?
GOTAY: No, she's not. My baby's not able to speak. My baby doesn't even know I'm there, anybody.
KING: So she can't -- she's in a coma?
GOTAY: Yes. She's in a coma. I pray everyday -- everyday that she come out of it. I want her to open those beautiful eyes and see her mom.
KING: When did this happen?
FREEDMAN: Last Wednesday.
GOTAY: Last Wednesday.
KING: And Michael was when, a couple months ago, Valerie?
BREWER: Yes. October 12th.
KING: Same school. Back with more right after these words.
KING: Hilda, I guess Josie had to know what happened to Michael. Did she ever talk to you about his being burned?
GOTAY: Oh, yes. She felt so sorry for him. She can't see how anybody can do that. She says, my god, I can't even explain, how would he feel, you know? She was devastated.
KING: What high school was this, Rick? Was this Deerfield Beach?
FREEDMAN: This is Deerfield Beach Middle School, actually 6th, 7th and 8th grade. So it's the middle school.
KING: Deerfield Beach Middle School. What high school do they go on from there? Do you know where they go from there?
FREEDMAN: You know, I'm guessing it's Deerfield Beach High School. Do you know?
FREEDMAN: Is that what it is?
KING: Deerfield Beach.
KING: Valerie, I understand Michael recently met one of his musical idol, Ozzy Osbourne. How did that go?
BREWER: That was wonderful. He was so ecstatic to meet Ozzy and Ozzy was just wonderful. We sat and talked to him for a good hour. It was a very nice visit.
KING: Tell us a little more, Hilda, about Josie. I understand she is quite an artist.
GOTAY: Yes, she is. I guess she was just born with it. She picked up a pencil one day and she just went for it. She's been doing it ever since.
KING: We're showing it right now. She's terrific.
KING: Wow! That is really beautiful. Valerie, has this brought the family closer together?
BREWER: Absolutely. We were a strong family before, but we're even closer now.
KING: Hilda, what about you?
GOTAY: Can you ask me again? What was it? I'm sorry.
KING: Is the family closer?
GOTAY: Very close. Oh, yes. Very, very close.
KING: Rick, what do you plan to do legally?
FREEDMAN: Well, quite frankly, we haven't even thought about it. It's been so busy for the first seven days handling everything. All we have thought about is what can we do for the family. People are dropping checks off at the bank, at the law firm, anywhere they can. It was a matter of just handling that and handling the media. Right now, that's what we're concentrating on and, of course, praying for Josie. Everyday, praying for Josie.
KING: Valerie, are you taking any legal action?
BREWER: I'm not allowed to comment on that. But going with the state attorney's office, yes.
KING: Is Michael bitter?
BREWER: No. Michael has come to peace with it. He also prays about it a lot. He's -- his outlook on life -- he's just grateful to be alive and to look forward to the next day and his future. He's looking forward to going to college, and becoming an occupational therapist and working with children now.
KING: Understood. Good luck to all of you. Amazing. Amazing.
BREWER: Thank you.
KING: See you tomorrow night with Ryan Seacrest and Jamie Oliver. Going to be quite a show. Right now, Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?