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Monica Lewinsky's "Vanity Fair" Tell-All; Michelle Knight Speaks to Anderson Cooper; "Mouthy" Murderer Julie Schenecker's Insanity Defense; Woman Survives Crash

Aired May 6, 2014 - 12:30   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But she also writes, "Narcissistic and loony?" She asked the question, because she doesn't believe that she was either.

And she also says something that is -- I think is just fascinating. The fact that she points to comments that Hillary Clinton made, essentially saying, perhaps some of this was my own fault, was I responsible for this? in a phone conversation, a conversation she had with one of her confidants.

Monica Lewinsky comes back and says she's troubled by this, she's disturbed that in some way it goes back -- she says she may have faulted her husband to be inappropriate, but I find her impulse to blame the woman, not only me, but herself, troubling.

Here, in some way, she's kind of connecting herself and her own situation with that of Hillary Clinton, saying you know this isn't right, what's happening to both of us here is that we're the ones who are blaming ourselves and we're taking the brunt of this and not the president.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Mel Robbins, I want you to weigh in on this notion that, 16 years later, despite this long silence, every single day Monica Lewinsky says she is still recognized. She still shows up in daily press clips.

In fact, I think "The New York Post," which decided to pin the very unflattering and perhaps extraordinarily unfair nickname for her, portly pepper pot, I believe today "The New York Post" has chosen to use that again.

I mean, it seems like a hell of a double standard when it comes to a young woman who makes headlines versus, say, a man who might have done something in his youth and indiscretion who wouldn't suffer that kind of abuse.


And, you know, one of the things that I just am so floored by and moved by is I'm not sure many people would have been able to psychologically handle the level of humiliation she has endured for the last 16 years. And I want to reiterate that what this is an example of, Ashleigh, and it's a powerful one, is the only way to crawl up from the ashes is to own your story. And a lot of people are going to be speculating, I'll be publishing a piece on about this, this afternoon, that this is going to be politically motivated somehow.

I personally think she's thinking, OK, for 16 years, the world has owned the story. Before we get to the 2016 elections, before we get to midterm elections this fall, I'm going to own the darn story. I'm going to finally tell it. And I'm going to use it for good instead of letting these trolls online use it to make money.

BANFIELD: Yes, I want to show the picture "Vanity Fair's" now releasing that they took of -- if you want to call her "portly pepper pot," to hell with you, because look at this girl. She looks terrific.

She's 40-years-old. She looks like she's 20. She looks spectacular. And you know what? No wonder I go on a juice diet every other week, because if people call her a portly pepper pot, there's no rescue for the rest of us. It's ridiculous.

And if anybody wants to go out and pick up "Vanity Fair," the cover has Jon Hamm on it. You would think it would be Monica Lewinsky on the cover. I'd buy it for that reason alone, but it's Jon Hamm on the cover. Ladies, fascinating stuff, I was hoping one day she would talk. And now she is.

Suzanne --

MALVEAUX: We were all hoping that she would talk. Yeah, we've all been, you know, trying to track her down, figure out what she's been up to, what she's doing. And it's interesting. She does say from now on her cause is going to be helping other people who have been humiliated online, to somehow play some kind of role in that, which I think would be very useful.

BANFIELD: We're looking at you, "New York Post."

Yeah, all right, Suzanne Malveaux, thank you for that. Mel Robbins, thank you. I think we all have the same feeling when it comes to --

ROBBINS: Great to see you, Ash.

BANFIELD: -- looking at an intern getting the attack that lasted and lasted. Hopefully, she'll have the last word on this.

Thanks, ladies.

Coming up, after the break, a lot more on what has happened to those three young women who, on this anniversary were released from their captivity, one of them giving a very, very exclusive and lengthy, detailed interview to our Anderson Cooper.

That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BANFIELD: One year ago today, a living nightmare ended for three Cleveland women and a child held captive for more than a decade, enduring years of torture, rape, and beatings at the hands of that monster, Ariel Castro.

Michelle Knight, Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Amanda's daughter finally survived and escaped.

Castro was sentenced to life in prison, but, coward that he was, he took his own life behind bars in September. Knight wrote a book about her ordeal entitled "Finding Me," and she recently sat down with Anderson Cooper to talk about her year of freedom.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC 360": Why did you want to write a book? Why did you want to have your story out there?

MICHELLE KNIGHT, KIDNAPPING VICTIM & AUTHOR: To help other women, children, men, know that they can survive any type of problem in their life.

COOPER: That's your message? That you can survive anything?


COOPER: Because that's the feeling I got reading your book. I don't know how you survived.

KNIGHT: Tremendous strength.

COOPER: Did you always know that you could survive? I mean, obviously there were moments you thought you weren't going to. But --

KNIGHT: There were moments, but overall, I always thought I could make it through because I made it through so much in my life, so much pain, so much torture. So I was, like, already prepared for it.

COOPER: Prepared for it, she says, because growing up in Cleveland, all Michelle Knight knew was pain.

Starting at a young age, she says she suffered from physical, emotional and sexual abuse. At 17-years-old, she found herself pregnant. You write in the book that giving birth was the greatest experience, the happiest moment of your life.

KNIGHT: Yes, it was the happiest moment of my life because I had somebody that finally loved me back as much as I loved that baby.

COOPER: But when her son, Joey, was 2-years-old, her mother's boyfriend abused him, and the state took Joey away from 21-year-old Michelle.

She hoped to get her child back, and on a sunny day, August 23, 2002, Michelle had an appointment with social services to do just that. She says her ride backed out, and she started to walk and asked people for directions.

KNIGHT: And then the dude walks in. He overheard me and the lady talking, so he was like, I know where the place is at.

COOPER: You call him the dude. Why the dude?

KNIGHT: Because he don't deserve a name.

COOPER: That dude was Ariel Castro, the father of one of Michelle's friends. He offered her a ride, but first said he had to pick something up at his home on Seymour Avenue.

And then what did he tell you to get you inside the house?

KNIGHT: In the car, he said that he had puppies. So when we got, like, a quarter down the road, he's like, that's my van right there. And it says "puppies for free." So we get in the backyard. And I really didn't think nothing of it until, you know, we got into the house fully. That's when it dawned on me that this was a mistake to get in his car.

COOPER: You knew by then that this is wrong.

KNIGHT: Yes. And then I end up being trapped in a small room, small pink room. That's where he proceed to tie me up like a fish and put me on the wall.

COOPER: You said tie you up like a fish. What do you mean?

KNIGHT: My legs and hands were bound like this. And I was that far from the floor.

COOPER: Gagged, bound, and hanging from a pole, he left her in that dark room for at least a day.

KNIGHT: I was numb, cold, and I felt needles poking me all over the place.

COOPER: That's what it felt like?

KNIGHT: It felt like a thousand knives.

COOPER: Did he give you food?


COOPER: What about going to the bathroom or --

KNIGHT: No. If I did, it was not in a bathroom.

COOPER: Did you think you were going to die, or did you think you might be able to get out?

KNIGHT: Thinking I was going to die is more likely along the lines of what I was thinking. I didn't think I was going to get out alive.

COOPER: When he finally did come back and take her down off the pole, she says it was only to rape her repeatedly.

Did you ever think about screaming or yelling?

KNIGHT: I screamed, but nobody would hear it. There was a day I screamed until I had no voice. Still nobody heard it. And when he hears you scream, he just shoves a sock or a cloth down your throat until you choke on it.

COOPER: Did you think this would at some point end? That it wouldn't with go on? That he would let you go. Did he promise to let you go?

KNIGHT: No. He told me he would never let me go.

COOPER: He said that from the beginning.

KNIGHT: Yes. He said you don't have a family that cares about you. If I kill you right now, nobody would even care.

COOPER: For the first several months, she was kept in what she refers to as the dungeon, the basement of the house on Seymour Avenue.

Sitting on the ground, she was chained to a pole, gagged with a sock and a motorcycle helmet placed over her head. All the while, the abuse continued.

I talked to other people who have been taken. They all say that very quickly you start to kind of adapt to the new reality, that you start to -- you know, people who haven't been through the situation think, oh, I would try to escape. I would do this. I would do that.

But in reality, very quickly your mind starts to adapt to your new environment.


COOPER: Can you explain that?

KNIGHT: What happens is hard at first. You don't want to adapt to it. You don't want to comply. You don't want to do anything at first.

But then you find yourself saying, why not? I'm here. Just let him get it over with.

COOPER: It feels like you have no power over it.

KNIGHT: Yes, that you're powerless.

COOPER: What would you think about each day, I mean, just to get through?

KNIGHT: I would basically think about my son. And how I would like to see his loving smile again.

COOPER: Eventually, he moved her upstairs where she was kept naked and often chained to a wall in a boarded-up bedroom. She only had about a foot-and-a-half of chain, just enough to stand up and use a bucket for a toilet, her only connection with the outside world, an old radio, sometimes a small TV.

It was nearly eight months into her hell when she saw on that TV that a girl named Amanda Berry had gone missing.

UNIDENTFIED FEMALE: If anybody knows anything about my daughter, I wish somebody would come forward.

COOPER: And when you heard that, what did you think?

KNIGHT: The first thought in my head is he did it.

COOPER: You knew right away?



BANFIELD: Anderson's piece will continue tonight. You can watch part two of the stunning interview. She's going to talk about the pecking order in the house.

I can just tell you, Michelle was on the lowest end of that pecking order. It's just remarkable what she tells Anderson, right here on CNN.

Another story coming up after the break, a woman who killed her own children because she said they were mouthy. Clearly she's crazy. But is she insane?

Might be surprised to hear what our legal experts weigh in on that.


BANFIELD: What qualifies someone as being insane? Does Julie Schenecker fit the bill? She's the Florida woman who shot and killed her own teenage children in January of 2011 because, for one, they were, quote, "mouthy." Her daughter had called her, quote, "pathetic," "an evil soul," end quote. Schenecker is on trial right now in Tampa for first degree murder.

Her defense says that she should be found not guilty by reason of insanity. When she was arrested, she sure did look insane, shaking convulsively like this. Take a look at that perp walk. Two weeks later, she appeared in court. No shaking problems. No, not at all. The prosecution is lining up a defense it says proves that she planned to murder her children and they are bringing in her journal as evidence. She documented the whole thing.

On Saturday, she drove to a gun store after athletic practices. And here's the receipt to show it. The employees remember her as being articulate, pleasant, apparently telling a story about needing a gun for home protection after home invasion robberies in her neighborhood. But later, she documented her disappointment when she learned that she couldn't take the gun home that day.

Quote, "I was planning on a Saturday massacre, but had to wait on the background investigation for three days," end quote. And after the shootings, this disturbing quote. "Shot the two mouthy mouths in the mouth after shooting them in the head," end quote.

Her defense, well, those lawyers say she loved her children, but she was gripped by mental illness. That she did not know right from wrong. Even appears in denial in the audio from her police interrogation the day after the shootings.


DETECTIVE (voice-over): Yes, we want to find out what happened yesterday, what happened last night, and what happened this morning from you, yourself.

SCHENECKER (voice-over): Yes. Are my kids coming in later?

DETECTIVE: I'm sorry.

SCHENECKER: Are my kids coming in later?


BANFIELD: Are my kids coming in later? I want to bring in CNN's legal analyst Paul Callan, a criminal defense attorney and a former prosecutor, as well as CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, a former federal prosecutor.

There's so much to talk about when it comes to this case. And let me just start with this, Paul Callan. Just because you're crazy does not mean you're insane.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, it doesn't, and that's why in fewer than 1 percent of criminal cases do we see the insanity defense asserted. It's a big misconception, but there's a difference between legal insanity, which is really hard to prove, because if you understand what you're doing and that it's wrong, then you're not insane according to Florida law.

Now, insanity, as we talk about it as a lay person or a psychiatrist means a whole constellation of different things. You can be insane and still legally understand what you're doing. So it's very, very hard to win with an insanity defense.

BANFIELD: Jeffrey Toobin, she has a long history with depression and bipolar disorder. Her defense attorney is going to say, and will repeat probably often in this case, that this mother is a former soldier who lost a battle with mental illness. This is critical in this defense. It is part of the legal statute that you have to have been sick and treated, but is it the entire defense?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No, it's not. You know, the legal system has struggled for 150 years to come to a definition of legal insanity that fits what we want with this defense. The best I can come up with, in terms of sort of making sense of the insanity defense, is, if you know that you are killing a person, even if you have a terrible, terrible reason to do it, you are not insane. But if you really believe that you are shooting a watermelon, not a person, you are legally insane. Now, here it appears that she did know she was killing her children. She bought a gun. She talked about it. Now, obviously, this is a very sick woman, but it certainly doesn't sound like she fits the legal definition.

BANFIELD: So, Paul Callan, she did not hide that gun. It was sitting in plain view on the dresser when the police arrived. She was lying on the floor asking, what day is it, where's my husband, I have carpool, I have to pick up the kids. If you're not hiding the gun or taking the bullets out or making any effort to cover it up but you're also telling the gun store, I have a home invasion problem and I need to get a gun, how does that equate with knowing right from wrong?

CALLAN: Well, defense attorneys in this case are going to focus on that as being very helpful to their case that she was legally insane because the fact that she didn't try to cover up the crime in any sort of an active way would kind of indicate that she wasn't aware that it was wrong. And I just wanted to add to something that Jeff was saying about the watermelon. Very true. If you think you're shooting a watermelon, obviously, and it's a human being, you are insane in that fact pattern.

Defense lawyers now are coming up with a different angle that's being used in a lot of courts around the United States, and the angle they're using is that it morally -- you didn't understand that it was morally wrong as opposed to it being legally wrong.

BANFIELD: Legally wrong.

CALLAN: And maybe, here, that sort of approach will be taken.

BANFIELD: You know, the John Hinckley crime I think changed this country forever and I think it's probably time to revisit a lot of what we've got on the books given what we know about mental illness as well. Not saying it about this case, but generally speaking.

Paul Callan, Jeff Toobin, thank you both. Appreciate that.

The story that we saw on our wires just remarkable to say the least. Rescue crews preparing for a very gruesome discovery when they spotted a car smashed down at the bottom of a ravine. Look at that thing. Could you imagine surviving in that wreck? How about surviving for five days upside down? Your feet crushed. You're not going to believe how this woman made it out of this alive. That's next.


BANFIELD: Kristin Hopkins is one lucky 43-year-old woman today, lucky to be alive. She drove off a highway and tumbled down a mountainside, trapped upside down for five days in her car, severe blood loss, clinging to life. No food, no water, writing notes on an umbrella hoping to signal for help. And the first responder who got to the car thought he was dealing with a body until that hand in the window moved. CNN's Michaela Pereira reports on this unbelievable ordeal.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: A miraculous discovery. A Colorado woman found alive in this wrecked car nearly a week after she vanished. After spotting the car at the bottom of a ravine, a motorist called for help. Firefighters were shocked by what they found at the scene.

LT. JIM CRAVENER, FIREFIGHTER, NORTH-WEST FIRE PROTECTION DEPT.: As he was attempting to strike the window, the patient put her hand against it.

PEREIRA: Kristin Hopkins, a 43-year-old single mother of four, was reported missing back on April 29th. She was found days later in a heavily wooded steep area inside her overturned car. According to a firefighter who treated Hopkins at the scene, she managed to write, "please help, doors won't open," and, "six days, no food, no water, please help," among other messages on an umbrella and tried to use it to signal for help.

DEAN ENRIGHT, COLORADO STATE TROOPER: It's surprising that she survived the crash at all. And then to be down there for that amount of days without food or water.

PEREIRA: Hopkins was trapped inside her mangled vehicle that had hit several trees and rolled multiple times before landing on its roof. Rescuers airlifted Hopkins to a local hospital where she is in critical but stable condition. According to a family spokesperson, her feet had to be amputated due to the severity of her injuries.


BANFIELD: Our thanks to Michaela Pereira for that.

And thanks for watching, everyone. My colleague, Wolf Blitzer, starts right now.