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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Killers on Run After Prison Escape; President Moves on After Shutdown; Utah Doctor on Trial for Murder; Bullying Awareness Month
Aired October 18, 2013 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: These crafty convicts did not need helicopters or hacksaws to escape from the jail, just some phony documents and forged signatures, and now two killers are on the run after doing just that and walking out of a Florida prison.
Also ahead --
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
911 OPERATOR: OK, do you know how to do CPR?
MACNEILL: I'm doing it.
911 OPERATOR: OK. Do not -
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Was he trying to save her life, or was he trying to kill his wife?
That handsome doctor is accused of drugging and drowning that beauty queen wife. More drama coming our way on day two of his murder trial.
And a 12-year-old girl's suicide raises the stakes in the anti- bullying crusade. When kids torment other kids, could and should the prosecutors go after their parents?
Hello, everyone, and welcome. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. It's Friday, October 18th. Nice to have you with us on the LEGAL VIEW.
Right now the hunt is on for two murders who escaped from a prison in Florida, all because of some bogus paperwork.
As if it weren't alarming enough to have two convicted murderers walking free among us, the state is now, and I'm going to quote them, "vigorously re-examining" years of prison documents to make sure that other dangerous inmates haven't done the very same thing, forged their way to freedom.
CNN's John Zarrella sat down with the family of one of the victims, and as he shows us, they are feeling victimized all over again.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nine-years-old, he was nine when Roscoe Pugh III saw his father gunned down in a home invasion robbery.
ROSCOE PUGH III, VICTIM'S SON: Our lives would be totally different. I've said that since I was 9-years-old. Since I was nine, I said my life would have been different if I wouldn't have saw it, but I saw it.
ZARRELLA: Now, 15 years later, Roscoe is reliving the nightmare.
On September 27th, this man, Joseph Jenkins, serving life for the murder of Roscoe's dad, was mistakenly released from a prison in Franklin County in the Florida Panhandle.
For Roscoe's mom, it's impossible to comprehend.
CRYSTAL PUGH, VICTIM'S WIDOW: Seemed like my whole world came down on me. I thought I would not have to see them ever again in life because they had life sentences plus a hundred years.
ZARRELLA: If one convicted murder set free by accident isn't enough, there's more.
A week and a half after Jenkins went free, so did Charles Walker, convicted of second-degree murder in a different case. And get this, Walker walked out of the same Florida prison.
How is that possible? Forged documents ordered the releases. And on them, the forged signature of Orange County Judge Belvin Perry.
JUDGE BELVIN PERRY, ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA, CIRCUIT COURT: So they even got letterhead.
ZARRELLA: Because he's a high-profile judge, Perry says he sees how it's possible no one would question it, and he's not entirely surprised.
PERRY: People, particularly people with criminal minds, come up with ingenious ways to beat the system. They have nothing but time on their hands.
ZARRELLA: The Florida Department of Law Enforcement was only notified of the mistake a couple of days ago.
Corrections officials say they followed department policy and procedures.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those inmates were released based on those court orders that we received. The orders were later determined to be fraudulent.
ZARRELLA: It's a snafu that has residents of the area and the Pugh family living in fear.
C. PUGH: And not enough to know that he's free on the streets is frightening. It's terrifying.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BANFIELD: And John Zarrella joins me live now.
So, John, how did they finally figure out that they'd been duped by these guys?
ZARRELLA: Ashleigh, it really is another amazing twist to this story. They found out from the family of one of the victims.
The victims' family calls the state attorney's office and says, hey, how come this guy is out of prison? He's supposed to be serving life.
The state attorney's office here in Orlando calls the Florida Department of Corrections, calls the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and lets them know and asks them, what's going on here?
And that, just a couple of days ago, is how the authorities found out.
If it hadn't been for the family calling them, they might still not know these guys were out.
Now, how did the family find out? We don't know.
BANFIELD: Unbelievable. John Zarrella, live for us in Orlando, thank you.
HLN's law enforcement analyst Mike Brooks joins me live now from the CNN Center in Atlanta.
Mike, obvious question here --
MIKE BROOKS, HLN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Wow.
BANFIELD: Let's start with wow. Really, right?
BANFIELD: How do we find these guys now?
BROOKS: Number one, somebody had to have filed the papers with the Orange County Clerk's office. So who is in this with them? And, you know, they're both from the Orlando area. We don't know if they knew each other, but same prison, I'm sure they probably did.
But they're going to go back and they're going to look, OK, who came to visit these two within the last couple of weeks before they were able to get these forged documents put through the clerk's office, and go back to Orange County sheriff's office and say, OK, do we have any video of possibly who filed these papers for these two inmates?
So it's not a matter of if, but a matter of when these two inmates, these two escapees, are back in prison.
BANFIELD: OK, so law enforcement officials are no stranger to court documents and evidence of forensics, like computer forensics, but I doubt they would ever think for a minute that computer forensic experts and analysts would be turned on them.
So do you think that's the next path here, that the analysts just descend upon all of these law enforcement agencies to find out how this was paperwork done?
BROOKS: That's one way, because here were apparently the state seals. They looks authentic.
And, you know, but there's got to be checks and balances here, Ashleigh, because if you've got people serving these long sentences like this, are they just going to go, OK, well, great, boom, you're out of jail.
There's got to be another checks and balances, go back and find the judge, Judge Belvin Perry.
And its ironic, also, the state's attorney, Ashleigh, is Jeff Ashton who was the prosecutor during the Casey Anthony case, and Judge Belvin Perry, set in front of them.
BANFIELD: (Inaudible) both of them. Yeah.
BROOKS: Exactly. But there's got to be some checks and balances here.
And they're actually -- they're in the process of prosecuting another inmate for the same kind of scheme, and he was involved in the death of a law enforcement officer.
So I think they need to take a look at all the paperwork, no matter what county it's filed in, to make sure this -- it's authentic, especially when you have inmates serving life sentences.
BANFIELD: It's unbelievable.
BROOKS: It really is.
BANFIELD: Checks and balances, good one, Mike. Checks and balances seems to be completely missing from this entire thing.
BROOKS: Sure does.
BANFIELD: Mike Brooks, live for us.
I also want to bring in our HLN legal analyst Joey Jackson on this case.
You heard the first thing I said to Mike Brooks and he said to me was --
JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: Wow.
Next thing is, inside job?
JACKSON: You know what? It really snacks of that. Now to Mike's point, the last point that he made, there needs to be checks and balances, we know.
I am sure, Ashleigh, that protocols will be reviewed and not only will protocols reviewed moving forward, but anything that could possibly have happened where there might be inmates at large now where they haven't been notified about it.
And what's striking about this, Ashleigh, is that law enforcement is notified by the victim's family. So how does that happen now? I mean, you really have to wonder how this occurs.
So the protocol will be reviewed. But the larger point, right, with respect to this actually happening and charges and everything else, I think you could expect them found and more charges to be added.
BANFIELD: So, real quickly, this was this fellow back in the spring named Jeffrey Forbes, who apparently had a case detective who was just sort of curious one day, decided to go back and look at one of the guys he'd put away, find out, you know, how he was doing, and discovered that he was coming up for release on a life sentence.
He notified the state's attorney. He notified the authorities and they put a stop to it, but they found the same kinds of forged documents.
BANFIELD: So this is now possibly three on the books.
BANFIELD: How on Earth do they go back and look at every single guy and girl that they've put away and find if they're forged -- I mean, you've got to identify signatures --
JACKSON: Absolutely, and they will. They'll do all of that, because, you know -- and one of the interesting things about this case, and you mention an inside job, when you look at this case, there should be conspiracy charges forthcoming because they could not have acted alone. There has to be a broader amount of people who were in on this.
BANFIELD: And these weren't gifts from God these inmates got and just got out, right?
JACKSON: Absolutely not, so you can expect that other people were certainly involved. They will look at that.
And the interesting thing was the orders were coming from the judge and they were filed by the state's attorney.
A defense attorney is generally the impetus for this. We defense lawyers, right, love to file these papers, so when the clerk looks and it's not from the defense lawyer, it's from the state's attorney, it raises a red flag, particularly, Ashleigh, when it's a life sentence.
How does that happen? BANFIELD: God forbid there are many others like these two still out there.
Joey Jackson, ongoing story.
JACKSON: Yes, it is.
BANFIELD: Don't make any vacation plans.
All right, thank you for that. Appreciate it.
And just ahead, the U.S. government is up and running once again, hooray. Don't get used to it. Wait, I'm not going there.
But there is still a split in the Republican Senate, and some are calling for bipartisanship while Ted Cruz says another shutdown is possible.
Plus, it survived for four centuries, but is now rubble. We're going to show you what happened to this historic church.
BANFIELD: Continuing coverage now on the government shutdown, or shall I say, the re-opening? Because that's thrilling.
For now, let's make nothing of the fact that the next looming deadline in our country's tortured fiscal process is, are you sitting down, Friday the 13th. I am so sorry to tell you.
It is December 13th, when the very same Congress that gave us a government shutdown and almost emptied the Treasury is supposed to roll out a good, old-fashioned, old school budget.
A budget, hard to remember what a budget is after all the years we haven't had one.
But as important as that is and as remarkable as it would be, President Obama says we do have other pressing business.
Here's CNN's senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's wonderful to ...
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Listening to President Obama chatting with the Italian prime minister, it sounded as if he were ready for a vacation in Tuscany.
OBAMA: You will not have to twist my arm to try to get me to come to Tuscany again sometime in the near future.
ACOSTA: But the president has no room on his plate for pasta, not when he's set his sights on passing a new budget, immigration reform and even a farm bill in less than 90 days. OBAMA: And we could get them done by the end of the year if our focus is on what's good for the American people.
ACOSTA: A task the president may have made for difficult for himself after railing against the Republicans over the shutdown.
OBAMA: If you don't like a particular policy or a particular president, then argue for your position. Go out there and win an election.
ACOSTA: But he may get help from Senator Mitch McConnell who told "The Hill" newspaper, "There will not be a government shutdown. I think we have fully now acquainted new members with what a losing strategy is.
Former GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan called for bipartisanship in upcoming negotiations.
REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: We want to look for ways to find common ground to get a budget agreement.
ACOSTA: Tell that to Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who's office told CNN he's not ruling out another shutdown.
The president could also have a fight on his hands over his next pick for secretary of Homeland Security.
Jeh Johnson, a former military lawyer and Obama campaign fundraiser, said at a conference earlier this year that the day will come when the U.S. must declare the war against al Qaeda over.
JEH JOHNSON, PROSPECTIVE NOMINEE FOR DHS SECRETARY: We should no longer consider ourselves in a traditional armed conflict against al Qaeda and affiliated groups.
And I think Benghazi is a prominent example of what I'm talking about, because you can't label the Benghazi attack as something conducted by al Qaeda and associated forces.
It was more of a mixed bag.
ACOSTA: And that's not all. The administration still has to fix those healthcare Web site glitches.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Nobody is more insistent that that work be done and the experience be improved than the president.
BANFIELD: And Jim Acosta joins me live now from the White House. I want to get back to the Homeland Security secretary nomination, because we all know that you can nominate, but then there has to be a confirmation process. And things aren't pretty on Capitol Hill right now, Jim.
ACOSTA: That's right, and we're already seeing some statements coming out from some key senators. John Cornyn, Republicans from Texas, he's a member of the Republican leadership in the Senate, put out a statement just in the last couple of hours saying that he has, quote, "grave concerns about Johnson's nomination." Jeff Sessions who is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, basically said that Johnson is not really the man for the job and referred to the Department of Homeland Security as perhaps the most incompetent in the federal government.
There are still tough feelings up on Capitol Hill. And that might make Johnson's nomination a difficult one. That is supposed to get rolled out this afternoon at 2:00. The president will make the announcement here at the White House. But I have to tell you, Jeh Johnson maybe the least of the president's concerns right now. There's been a flood of articles come out in the last 24 hours about glitches with the Obamacare program. House Speaker John Boehner's office has been putting out a lot of those stories and e-mails to reporters. And a lot of people here in Washington in the conservative movement would like to see Kathleen Sebelius out the door at Health and Human Services. But right now Jay Carney, the press secretary at the White House says that Sebelius is not going anywhere. She has the confidence of the president. So, as we mentioned in that piece, a lot of challenges for this president even with the shutdown over.
BANFIELD: Is it thought by the White House that this is going to be uber piling on? Because a lot of Republicans themselves admitted that they missed an opportunity to go full on against Obamacare in the rollout that was so glitches, so messed up. And since now the government shutdown's over they can focus all of their attention on Obamacare.
ACOSTA: And I noticed in the last 24 to 48 hours as it started to look like the Republicans were going to give up on the strategy of taking this to the brink just to get rid of Obamacare, or delay or defund it or whatever, that the RNC, that the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee was starting to put out e-mails really focusing on Obamacare and all the glitches. They were sort of giving up on the government shutdown business.
So you sort of see the Republican party's strategy heading in that direction. And really, the White House got a major break during the government shutdown. For all of those days they were talking about the shutdown and not Obamacare. That is now a different situation. The president is going to have to come out and forcefully defend it and also fix it.
BANFIELD: Get ready for an onslaught of that message. Thank you for that.
Speaking of politics, five heart attacks, bypass surgery, an artificial pump and finally a transplant. Dick Cheney's health history is pretty well-known. But I bet you don't know what our Dr. SANJAY gupta uncovered in an interview with the former vice president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Basically what I did was I resigned the vice presidency effective March 28th of 2001. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: So nearly for your entire time as vice president there was a letter of resignation --
GUPTA: How did President Bush react when you told him about this?
CHENEY: He was surprised, but he thought it was a good idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: The full interview is going to air on Sunday on "60 Minutes" on CBS and then on Tuesday on "ANDERSON COOPER 360" at 8:00.
We've got video that went to bring your way as the oldest church in the Philippines as it comes crashing to the ground in an earthquake there this week. The Basilica of the Holy Child stood for 450 years, but its destruction was no match for the magnitude 7.2 disaster that's now being blamed for killing than 140 people there.
And just ahead. A doctor on trial. Martin MacNeill accused of drugging and drowning his wife. This morning, the 911 operator on the stand. You're going to hear the dramatic call for help as the wife, apparently, was being resuscitated. Or was she? And then later on one community is coming together to combat bullying. This after a 12- year-old girl killed herself, and two other teenagers are now facing the consequences.
BANFIELD: A Utah doctor on trial for murder. And just minutes ago, we heard from a 911 dispatcher and the prosecutors played the belligerent and angry phone call that Dr. Martin MacNeill made on the day he found his wife dying or dead.
Medical examiner who performed the autopsy said that Michelle MacNeill, the wife, died of natural causes because of her heart, but the prosecutors say, not so fast. That Dr. MacNeill drugged his wife and drowned her in their bathtub. And just a short time ago, a very dramatic scene. The prosecutors brought in the same model of the bathtub you're seeing in their bathroom, the same bathtub that she was found drowned in. Or was she drowned? They brought that model of a bathtub in the courtroom to show the positioning of the victim's body. And for the first time, the jury was also able to hear what can only be described as an unusual phone call to 911. Where the doctor claimed he was giving his wife CPR right there in the bath bathtub.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, this is 911. Can I help you?
MARTIN MACNEILL, ACCUSED OF MURDER: I need help.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, they're on their way. Is your wife breathing?
MACNEILL: She is not. I am a physician. I've got CPR in progress.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're doing CPR?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How old is your wife?
MACNEILL: My wife is 50 years old. She had surgery here a couple days or a week ago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What kind of surgery good she have?
MACNEILL: She had a face lift.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A face lift?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you know how to do cpr?
MACNEILL: I'm doing it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay. Do not h-
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BANFIELD: And that connotes hanging up. Our Jean Casarez, CNN's legal correspondent, is live out the courthouse in Provo, Utah, for day two of testimony. Jean, we just reported that live action in the courtroom of a model, a similar model of the bathtub being wheeled into the court room. That is always a very dramatic sight for jurors, but in the same instance, it's just as dramatic to hear a phone call like that. Why are all of these details of the moment they discovered the body of the victim, why are they so critical to the case of murder?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: It's very simple. Inconsistency. Because what the defendant is saying as to how he found his wife is very different from what the neighbors saw and a little 6-year-old Ada.
Ashleigh, I just got out of the courtroom. I got to tell you, I was sitting there, the jury had not come in yet, and all of a sudden the side door opened and two grown men were hauling in this bathtub and they lay it down right in the center well of the courtroom. And then after that, the jury comes in and has to literally walk around the bathtub to sit in their seat. So that bathtub, it is front and center in that courtroom today. As far as the 911 call, there was silence in that courtroom when it was played. I looked at jurors, they didn't take a note. They were listening for every word that they could hear and understand.
BANFIELD: And I know that was hard-fought, too. Because the prosecutors wanted to bring the real bathtub in. But it's not that easy to get exactly what you want, this would be the next best thing. No matter what, it's dramatic. I know you have to get back in the courtroom because it's still live and ongoing. Thank you for that.
Also want to let our audience know that Nancy Grace is taking Jean's seat so they can hop scotch back and forth and not miss a moment. Nancy is going to come out and join us later in this hour and give us her take on what's been happening in today's courtroom proceedings. If you saw her take yesterday, you have got to come back for more today because there's so much more that we missed throughout the day yesterday.
When we come back after the break, cyber-bullying. I know you've heard about this. There's a case of a Florida girl who killed herself after being bullied by two other girls. Those girls have been arrested and one prominent attorney said the parents should be charged. The parents of those who are accused of bullying the 12- year-old. You know him. It's Mark O'Mara. Distinguished, practicing attorney. He's with his take next.