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Nancy Grace

Anna Nicole Smith Speaks Out

Aired November 02, 2006 - 20:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, GUEST HOST: Tonight, millionaire cover girl Anna Nicole Smith fights back. She`s speaking out for the first time since the sudden mysterious death of her 20-year-old son, Daniel. Also, as she remains hospitalized, there are efforts to evict her from her seaside mansion in the Bahamas. And there`s the paternity battle over her new baby girls. What does Smith have to say about all these controversies? And where does she go from here? And what about the bombshell -- and I mean bombshell -- accusations reportedly being made by a one-time friend, a stunning new development that broke just a little while ago? We have the details for you.
Also tonight, a convicted child murderer out on parole, now the prime suspect in the death of a 16-year-old Indiana girl, this 51-year-old just released this past March, only to strike again, police say. Did the system let down another innocent child victim?

But first, cover girl Anna Nicole Smith speaks out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The minute I walked into the house, you could just feel the despair that lived there. I left that interview seeing a fighter, someone who`s very weak, someone who is very fragile right now, who`s been through a lot. But also, Anna Nicole Smith is a fighter.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, in tonight for Nancy Grace. That was "Entertainment Tonight`s" Mark Steines (ph) talking to the "Today" show about his exclusive interview with Anna Nicole Smith. Speaking out for the first time, emotional Anna Nicole fights back against her critics and issues a plea to everybody to quit beating her down. And with her lawyer and partner, Howard K. Stern, by her side, the woman at the center of an international storm insists Howard -- Howard! -- is the father of the child she recently gave birth to. She calls the paternity challenges by a Los Angeles photographer, quote, "crazy."

For the very latest twists and turns -- and there are so many -- in the Anna Nicole saga, we are very happy to have with us tonight Court TV correspondence Jean Casarez. And she has the very latest on some bombshell allegations being made by the Web site Now, Jean, this exclusive information, this story came down just a little while ago. It`s a shocker. Tell us about it.

JEAN CASAREZ, COURT TV: It is. If it`s true, it is explosive information. I`m holding in my hand a legal document from the LA County superior court. We`ve got to tell everybody we have not verified it because it just came on the Web site, but it is a sworn statement from a woman named Lori Payne (ph), who says that she was a very good friend of Anna Nicole Smith, and she said in this sworn statement that Nicole told her that Larry Birkhead is the father of the baby.

Now, here`s the background. Lori Payne lives in South Carolina. She was a friend of G. Ben Thompson, who is the real estate developer that owns the mansion that Anna Nicole has been staying at. That`s how she met Anna Nicole last Christmas. In fact, they spent Christmas together last year. And what she`s saying is that in December and January of last year, which is when the baby would have been conceived, that Anna Nicole said that she had relations three times with two different men, one being the real estate developer himself, the other two times with Larry Birkhead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And she says the real estate developer had a vasectomy, so he couldn`t be the father.

CASAREZ: According to this declaration by a friend. So that leaves Birkhead. And in addition to that, she`s saying that there was a joke at the time because Stern was in South Carolina last Christmas, and Stern, who is purporting to be the father of the baby, was saying to Daniel, Anna Nicole`s son, teasing him about being a virgin, and Daniel said back to Stern, You should talk, you`ve known my mother for 12 years, and nothing has ever happened between the two of you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, this is such a shocker, but there`s even another bombshell on top of that that involved an allegation concerning methadone. Tell us about that, because obviously, that is a crucial issue in her son`s death.

CASAREZ: Exactly.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was one of the substances -- according to the independent pathologist, Cyril Wecht, hired by Anna Nicole herself, they found that in his system.

CASAREZ: Exactly. Very serious. Now, Lori Payne is going on to say that she became a good friend, and once that Anna Nicole was pregnant, they saw each other quite frequently. And at one point, Anna Nicole really wanted things done for her, including she wanted somebody to help her to take her medication. And one of the medications she directed Lori Payne to give to her was methadone.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, we have to say right off the top that -- congressional to TMZ on another big exclusive. However, CNN has not been able to independently confirm the story, and CNN has not been able to independently confirm the authenticity of the declaration that is at the heart of the story.

Now, we`ve also attempted to reach Anna Nicole`s camp for comments on these explosive allegations. So far, no calls back. And we have to stress that these allegations are not being made by police, this is from a woman purportedly who used to be a friend of Anna Nicole`s, who issued a declaration. So that`s our caution to you as we explore this story. We want to try to get Anna Nicole`s side because these are so shocking, these charges. I mean, methadone when you`re pregnant?

Let`s go right out to Alex Goen, who is the CEO of Trimspa and a current good, close friend of Anna Nicole`s. You`ve heard all of these allegations purportedly contained in this declaration. What is your response?

ALEX GOEN, CEO TRIMSPA: There`s two sides to every story, and I did - - I`ve known Anna and Howard for quite a while. I`ve never heard of Lori Payne. I`m not sure who she is. I think it`s basically someone that may know Anna. I certainly don`t believe it`s a close friend.

Let me just also point out that this is a sealed court document. Basically, there`s two sides that could have released this document. I don`t think it could have been Howard Stern`s side because Howard -- or Anna`s side -- they would not release this document. So you have to wonder why would a sealed document in a confidential matter be issued to the press.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And to back up that argument, isn`t it true that one person involved in all this is the very man who is trying to get Anna Nicole out of the mansion that she is staying in right now in the Bahamas? He claims that, basically, even though she bought it from him, she hasn`t fulfilled the terms of the agreement. Therefore, she has to give it back.

GOEN: That is correct. And today, Ben Thompson was giving a press conference in the Bahamas and was served with papers from Anna`s camp. So once again, there`s two sides to every story, and you`re going to hear probably a heck of a lot more of this.

You know, it`s unfortunate. Today, celebrities have a difficult life. I mean, Anna Nicole, she can`t really make friends because friends will very quickly try to take advantage of her. And it could very well be what`s happening here. I`m not saying that that`s necessarily the case, I`m just saying that that seems to be the pattern that has happened to Anna over and over and over again.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Tia Brown from "In Touch Weekly," another pattern seems to be that this has become a runaway freight train. I mean, who knows where this story is going? Nobody. It`s very hard to keep track. I mean, we`re trying to keep track as information keeps coming in by the second. This is a woman whose life is truly, truly, truly out of control.

TIA BROWN, "IN TOUCH WEEKLY": Definitely. Anna`s going through so much right now. She`s in the process of possibly being evicted from her home. She`s also -- and she just lost her son. And she`s also fighting for custody for her daughter. So she`s definitely under a lot of stress. And I would definitely consider the fact that Lori Payne, who is presenting herself as a friend, is definitely also a friend of G. Ben Thompson and is working very closely with Larry Birkhead. And they all have some type of common object to benefit from, I would say, from Anna at this point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And before we say that this is all made up out of whole cloth, because we don`t know, I want to go to Ellie (ph), who`s our fact maven, and ask you about the e-mails...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... or the instant messages that are supposedly mentioned in this declaration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. In this document, there`s a couple of things. There is -- Lori Payne says that she got instant messages from Anna Nicole saying that Larry Birkhead was the father. Those we don`t have in the document, but we do have an e-mail that outlines, you know, what Jean was mentioning earlier -- there`s one of two men who could be the father, and one had a vasectomy.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. So former federal prosecutor Pamela Davis, if these instant messages actually exist, obviously, that bolsters this woman`s claim.

PAMELA DAVIS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: That`s right. You know, anything like that, if there`s this kind of evidence out there, then, you know, this is troubling for one of these sides. So that`s the problem of having this kind of stuff out there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Jean Casarez, I want to go back to you because, obviously, if you do the math on this, and she is claiming -- and again, this is a claim -- and Anna Nicole`s lawyers, if you`re out there, call us because we want to get her side of the story, which we are getting from Alex Goen, her good friend, who is with us tonight.

But the obvious do-the-math implication is that if she was taking methadone and her son, who died mysteriously in the hospital in the room with her -- they found methadone in his system, and everybody`s wondering where did he get it. It`s a highly tightly regulated drug. That`s a problem.

CASAREZ: That is one of the serious aspects of this sworn statement. And if this is all true, this is something that I think is going to have a lot of ramifications legally, as far as the Bahamas.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And we`ve got some callers, but hang on for one second, Jenny from Florida, because I have to follow this very complex trail here.

To Renee Rockwell, defense attorney. If you think about it, right now, the government of the Bahamas is doing an investigation, trying to decide whether or not to have a public inquest, which is kind of like a mini-trial, and then they get this declaration. Couldn`t that factor into their decision to whether or not to hold a public inquest?

RENEE ROCKWELL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, obviously, Jane, this is nothing that`s going to be -- going to be the end-all, tell-all. First of all, this girl doesn`t sound like any kind of friend to me. This is going to be something that she`s just throwing out there. She`s interjecting herself into this. Thank God we don`t get convicted, we don`t have cases decided on something that just somebody says.

I would have to go to Anna first to even find out if she was a friend of hers. But that is all rank, raw, stinky hearsay. There`s going to have to be a lot more than some gratuitous little declaration that some female says that`s going to make anything happen or any difference is made.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But if you`re lying in a declaration, can`t you get in trouble for that?

ROCKWELL: I don`t think this woman is concerned about getting in trouble about this declaration. First thing I`m saying is, I don`t think she`s any friend of hers. That will have to be explored. But that is not enough to give custody. Maybe it`s something for them to make an inquest. But don`t forget, just because she was on methadone does not mean that she`s given her son any methadone. If he got it, that`s just yet another avenue to be pursued. I don`t think...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But it would be quite a coincidence for both of them to be doing that at the same time, given that it`s a highly regulated drug.

ROCKWELL: It is, but I can assure you that nobody is going to allow her to admit that she gave him any methadone.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, yes. That`s a huge leap, and we`re not making that leap. And once again, this is not the police saying this, this is one woman purportedly in a declaration, the story broken by TMZ, that we have not been able to confirm yet. But it`s a big breaker.

Let`s go to the phone lines. Jenny from Florida, your question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, honey. If she is such a good friend, why is she speaking out against Anna Nicole? How can we believe anything she`s saying, if she`s calling herself a friend?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, maybe we need to bring in psychoanalyst Bethany Marshall for this one because we`ve heard about Hollywood friends, we`ve heard about fair-weather friends. It seems when you`re really in trouble, you know who your real friends are, and apparently, Anna Nicole has at least one, Alex Goen, who is on the show tonight. But who knows about this woman.

Why do people turn like this?

BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, she has a lot of friends, but she has a lot of enemies. I think -- you have to keep in mind that Anna Nicole Smith has made a lot of money off of being a train wreck, right? She had her TV show for two years. She`s kind of chaotic, impulsive, out of control. And we all rewarded that behavior. And now the rewards have gone away, and there are a lot of people who were with her in the midst of that that probably saw self-destructive behavior and maybe behavior that was destructive to her family, as well. And those people are going to choose this opportunity to come out.

And let`s say the woman is telling the truth. Perhaps there`s something that she does know that she wants the public to know about, that she feels isn`t maybe in the newborn baby`s best interest. That`s a possibility, as well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And again, Dr. Jonathan Arden, medical examiner, we are speaking theoretically because we have no idea whether there`s any basis to any of these allegations. But theoretically, what are the dangers of taking methadone if you`re pregnant?

DR. JONATHAN ARDEN, MEDICAL EXAMINER: Well, methadone is a very strong opiate. Opiates are the category -- is the category of drugs that include heroin, methadone, codeine, Oxycontin, all those types of closely related medications. They depress respiration or breathing. They are, you know, significant central nervous system or brain depressants, as well. They are generally harmful if transmitted through the placenta to the developing fetus, and so they can have the same kinds of effects at a time a child is born. There`s an association between intrauterine opiate exposure and subsequent sudden infant death syndrome and...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: If you tested the baby, would you be able to find out whether or not a child had exposure to methadone in utero?

ARDEN: Only if you can test that baby very shortly after birth. They do routinely test babies when there are suspicions of maternal pregnancy- related drug use. That happens commonly in many places in this country. But you need to have the suspicion at the right time. If you test the child weeks or months later, you are not going to be able to detect those drugs and you won`t have any useful results from that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Jean Casarez, as we cover this, have you ever seen a story quite like this? I mean, we`ve seen runaway freight trains, both of us, covering many trials. But this one is -- is really -- it`s unique.

CASAREZ: It`s very convoluted. And you know, there was a hearing this week for the paternity case in California. It was a closed hearing, and I will bet that this is something right here, this sworn statement, is something that was discussed, and that was why it was a closed hearing. So this document, if it`s true, it was leaked, and not necessarily by Lori Payne. You see the attorney`s name in the lefthand corner. That`s the attorney representing Mr. Birkhead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Or it could just be somebody who handled it in the course of going through the courthouse. You never know.

To tonight`s "Case Alert," a suspect in custody in the deaths of a woman and two males found inside a large drainage pipe in Columbia, South Carolina. The 19-year-old female victim was stabbed to death, while the 25 and 26-year-old male victims were fatally shot. Twenty-four-year-old Charles Gamble`s facing multiple murder charges.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, in tonight for Nancy Grace. As she remains hospitalized in the Bahamas tonight, is Anna Nicole Smith being unfairly persecuted by critics who are piling on in the wake of the tragic drug-related death of her 20-year-old son, Daniel, and the birth of her new daughter, Dannilynn, who is at the center of a paternity battle. Anna Nicole speaks out for the first time about these controversies on "ET." The former "Playboy" Playmate says, Quit it. Leave us alone. Let us be happy and raise our child. But is that likely to happen?

And let me address that question to Tia Brown of "In Touch Weekly." You track these celebrity cases. Ad you look in the crystal ball, where is this headed?

BROWN: I definitely don`t think Anna Nicole Smith is going to be left alone by anyone. First of all, there`s a lot of money at stake here. She still stands to inherit almost half a billion dollars. And she also has been dating a lot of big shots. G. Ben Thompson is a millionaire real estate investor. And basically, he feels like Anna Nicole has taken advantage of him, and he`s not going to let this go.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And you know, all of this is happening, Alex Goen, as apparently, she remains hospitalized. Now, we had last talked about her having pneumonia, but Howard K. Stern, her attorney and apparent companion, is now quoted as saying Smith underwent a procedure Tuesday to drain fluid from a partially collapsed lung. That sounds very serious. What do you know about that?

GOEN: Well, it was pretty serious. She had a procedure last night. It went well. Today she`s recovering. She has to try these exercises that make her cough. She`s trying to get out of the hospital as quickly as possible and get back with her baby.

Jane, I just want to go back to a previous point that mentioned getting Anna`s attorneys to call in. This is a confidential procedure. They cannot call in. The state of California makes sure that any kind of paternity suits are kept confidential to protect the life of the child that`s only a few months old right now.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So Renee Rockwell, defense attorney, isn`t this part of the danger of living your life in the public eye, when essentially, everybody feels they have permission to weigh in on your life, but yet your hands are tied because your attorneys can`t respond when there`s a confidential proceeding?

ROCKWELL: Yes, and it`s easy to say, Oh, that`s my baby, because that means -- if somebody says, That could be my child, what are you saying really? That I slept with her, OK? So everybody`s taking a shot at poor Anna. Number one, she`s beautiful. She`s rich. She`s in the middle of all this controversy. And I just wish that someday the people would leave her alone and she could go and get all that half a billion from her husband, which she deserves, and then she could really take that shot that she`s going to get from Larry Birkhead because you know what this is all about? This is all about the money. This is all about potential visitation, potential custody. And when you have that, you -- she could be possibly ordered to pay child support to Larry Birkhead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: So are you saying -- and just to play devil`s advocate here -- that because he`s a guy, he couldn`t possibly want to really...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... be with the mother -- the daughter that he bore?

ROCKWELL: No, no. I`m not saying that at all. But I`m saying that money drives people. This is the first time I`ve seen somebody try to jump into somebody`s life. Usually, you see parents trying to back out, That`s not my kid. This is the first time I`ve seen it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, sitting in tonight for Nancy Grace. We are talking Anna Nicole Smith tonight because she is talking. She is breaking her silence on "ET" to fight back against a myriad of critics. Some claim the cover girl does not own her mansion in the Bahamas. They want her out. And an LA photographer claims he is the real dad of her new baby.

Let`s go to Tia Brown with "In Touch Weekly" because we have seen photographs in the tabloid magazines of Larry Birkhead and Anna Nicole Smith kind of holding each other in a way that a boyfriend and girlfriend would. So what was their relationship? Does anybody acknowledge that they went out? When did they go out? When did they stop going out?

BROWN: Well, last summer, Anna and Larry definitely had a relationship. They both admitted that they were intimate. I don`t think that there`s any reason to believe that there`s not a possibility that he is the father of Dannilynn. What people should be skeptical of the fact is that, you know, both Anna and Larry were known for being partiers. And you`ll see lots of pictures of them partying at the club, both looking like they`re having a lot of fun. And now he`s kind of, like, assassinating her character. Anna made a lot of money doing the reality shows and things like that, but that has kind of waned. And with the death of Daniel, there`s a lot of new money being presented. Remember that the case with her ex-husband has not been settled yet. So you do have to be skeptical of his motives at this point.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely. And one of the reasons that the issue of the house is so important is that she wants to stay in the Bahamas, and that house is sort of a requirement of the residency. So it`s crucial for her to have that house in order to stay in the Bahamas because she could have a lot of legal problems if they force her out, correct?

BROWN: And that is absolutely correct. If she has to leave, she`ll be forced to come back to the States and face paternity tests.



DEBRA OPRI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Anna, I`m talking to you directly now, and I want you to listen to me and I want you to hear what I have to tell you. If you are so certain, if you are so certain that Larry Birkhead is not the father, then you have nothing, absolutely nothing to lose by submitting to this jurisdiction and allowing a paternity test.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, in tonight for Nancy Grace. How much crisis can one person handle? Former "Playboy" playmate Anna Nicole Smith in the hospital tonight after the tragic lost of her son and a series of controversies over everything, from the ownership of her home in the Bahamas to the paternity of her new baby daughter.

Now, Anna Nicole fighting back and speaking out, but even as she speaks out, new information is coming in. Court TV broke a story today about the autopsy on Daniel Smith. Jean Casarez, what is the new information there?

CASAREZ: Well, Court TV News has learned that there were actually seven drugs in his system at the time of death. Now, we knew about the two antidepressants and the methadone, but what was learned is there were four other drugs. And Dr. Cyril Wecht has said on Court TV those would be Ambien, Benadryl -- which is an antihistamine -- Sudafedren (ph) and a trace amount that Dr. Wecht would not tell us what it was. He said it was so minute that he just didn`t want to say. And we also want to tell everybody that formal toxicology reports have not been released yet.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: But this is from Anna Nicole`s own camp, in essence. This is from her pathologist that she hired to do an autopsy, and he`s coming out and saying seven drugs, including methadone and two heavy-duty antidepressants, Lexapro and Zoloft, right?

CASAREZ: That`s right. But before yesterday, it was believed there were only three drugs in his system, the two antidepressants and methadone.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wow, so let me go to psychoanalyst Bethany Marshall to try to get a grip on this, because this was apparently a clean-cut young man. He was not on the party circuit; he wasn`t being seen all over Hollywood, driving late at night and getting DUIs. And yet that`s an astounding amount of drugs to be found in his system. From a psychological perspective, is there any way to explain it?

MARSHALL: Well, I think there are three explanations, one of which is that, even though he wasn`t a partier, that he had just recently descended into some type of addictive drug use. And he was maybe buying and selling from his friends or getting prescriptions from doctors.

I think the second would be that he was sick, he was legitimately sick and had drugs prescribed.

But the third is that perhaps this was a time of serious distress for him. I mean, he had had his mother all to him himself. Now a new baby is on the scene. It`s a stressful situation, and perhaps he was self- medicating because, perhaps, he had depression, anxiety, panic attacks. And, you know, methadone, when it`s used recreationally -- it`s kind of hard to believe people would, because it`s not really addictive -- it does have a mild sedating effect, so perhaps he could have been using it to calm himself down, as well.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think you raise a very important point, because it would have to be very destabilizing. His mom was everything to him. Everybody knew that, and he was the apple of her eye. And the two of them were so tight. You saw it on the show that she was on. And even though he might love his baby sister, it might be very threatening on some very deep level that he might not even be aware of.

MARSHALL: Well, here`s the paradox. On one level, he had her all to himself, but on another level, he never had her one on one. He always had to share her with the camera, with the public. There were always other people around and always substitute caretakers from the time he was a small child. So from that standpoint, another sibling on the scene could have been incredibly destabilizing for him.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, the mystery of all this, the methadone, which everybody has said is a very tightly regulated drug, very hard to get, unless you`re trying to kick heroin or you`re a terminally ill cancer patient, and in that case it`s not dispensed on an out-patient basis. Let`s go to our experts, former federal prosecutor Pamela Davis. In your history, how would something like this get into the hands of a 20-year-old?

DAVIS: Well, we know that his mother was using it, or at least there`s a suggestion that she was using it. I suppose there`s a possibility that he got it from his mother.

And the other fact is that these kinds of drugs, illegal drugs or drugs that you can only get through prescription, are not so tough for a kid to get a hold of, if that kid is really intent on getting a hold of them. Every street corner you can find a drug dealer who`s willing to sell you some methadone, if you want it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and I just want to caution -- I mean, you make an important point -- but we do want to caution that we have no independent evidence at all that Anna Nicole was taking methadone. This is a story that was broken by TMZ, but CNN has not been able to independently confirm. We do have a copy of the declaration, but we haven`t been able to authenticate it at this point.

At this point, even if it was authentic, it`s just one woman who was purportedly a friend of hers at one point who is making this allegation. Because it is a very serious allegation; we want to stress that.

Alex Goen, you knew this young man, Daniel, a handsome, young boy, just such a good-looking kid, apparently such a nice kid. What do you make of all this? I mean, as you put your thinking cap on and try to solve this mystery, because part of what`s fueling this story and keeping it alive is that nobody can figure out how he died and why he died.

GOEN: Well, I mean, it`s quite puzzling. I think that you have to first give Anna Nicole a lot of credit. I mean, she hired Cyril and said anything that comes out, please post it immediately. Otherwise, if she didn`t, people would accuse her of having a cover-up. So they`ve been very, very open.

But I don`t know. I`ve never seen Daniel take anything. As a matter of fact, if anything, he had a deep hatred for any kinds of drugs. Because, as is widely reported, Anna Nicole did have some challenges back eight to 10 years ago. And it was Daniel that really saved Anna`s life, or at least that`s what Anna says and that`s what Howard says, so it`s quite surprising.

What could have happened, I have no idea. I know Anna wants to know. I know Howard wants to know. And obviously, a lot of other people want to know.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And what about this allegation that this purported friend is making about the methadone and Anna Nicole? I mean, you know her. You were going to go on a trip with her to shoot a Trimspa ad or whatever, except that she came down with pneumonia. You`ve spent a lot of time with her. What is your sense of her status, vis-a-vis any kind of substance?

GOEN: I`ve never seen her take anything. I`ve seen her very, very straight. The most I`ve ever seen her do is have a glass or two of champagne, and I guess the last time that was, was about a year and a few months ago. So it`s just hard to imagine; I don`t think that she does anything like that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Renee Rockwell, as we try to solve this mystery and be fair to Anna Nicole, you do keep coming back to the fact that there`s so many controversies just mushrooming left and right. From her perspective, wouldn`t you think she`d want to -- "OK, let`s put this one to rest. Let`s put that one to the rest." I mean, if, in fact, she`s aptly convinced that Larry Birkhead is not the father of her child, why not just say, "OK, I`ll do the paternity test, because then he won`t bother me anymore"?

ROCKWELL: Well, you know what? She might not know who the father is. And right now she`s in the Bahamas, and there`s no reason that any California court should have any jurisdiction whatsoever on her. If there`s a way to get it, they need to figure it out without going through a California court, because she don`t live there anymore. She lives in the Bahamas, so do it the right way.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, but let`s talk about another important issue, is that she might theoretically possibly end up deported from the Bahamas if, in fact, she can`t maintain her residency status.

And, Alex Goen, I want to ask you this, because I`ve been reading the details of this supposed agreement between the man she bought the mansion from. And it seems to me -- and correct me if I`m wrong -- that he is claiming, "Yes, I sold her the mansion. I gave her the mansion, but I did it on the condition -- because it`s worth a million dollars -- that she would then go out and get a mortgage and that, when she got the mortgage, she would pay me back the million dollars and then start paying the mortgage."

And he seems to be saying, "Yes, she took the house," and now is saying that it`s a gift.

GOEN: I mean, I just can comment this way, is there`s two sides to every story. And today, Ben Thomson was served with papers from Anna`s camp.

I don`t think that -- you know, Howard and Anna, their position is they`re not going to go and have a battle in the court of public opinion. Their attitude is there is procedures to follow; there is courts designed for a reason, to strain these matters out.

I think that it`s going to be very clear that there was a misunderstanding that has just been blown completely out of proportion. You have to ask yourself the question: Why is it being blown out of proportion the way it is?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. And that is a very good question, and one that we will leave you with tonight.

To tonight`s "Trial 101," parental rights. Some of the legal rights that go along with being the parent of a child include legal and physical custody, the right to inherit property from the child, and to have the child inherit property from the parents, and the right to consent to medical care and treatment for the child. If Larry Birkhead is the father of Anna Nicole Smith`s newborn baby girl, Dannielynn Hope, he could gain custody or visitation with the baby.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The investigation led officers to a field near Cass County Road`s (ph) 900 North and 700 West. The body of Stephanie Wagner was found in the field.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is being booked in on a potential murder charge. Tomorrow, we will make a public record. Until that time, Mr. Rouse is presumed innocent until proven guilty.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, sitting in for Nancy Grace.

A horrific murder in the heartland churning up grief and rage tonight. Police in Indiana say the dishwasher who just confessed to killing a 16- year-old waitress had murdered before and had only recently been released from a Kansas prison on parole. The outcry tonight: Why on Earth was 51- year-old Dan Rouse let out of prison?

Court TV correspondent Jean Casarez has been tracking this case. She has the very latest on these really agonizing developments.

CASAREZ: Oh, Jane, it`s so sad. Stephanie Wagner is the name of the victim, and she worked at a restaurant. And this man, Danny Rouse, was the dishwasher. He`d only worked there for two weeks. People say they were last seen together Tuesday night. She never went home that night.

And early in the morning, her parents found her car. That`s when police decided to go to the restaurant. When Danny Rouse got there for work, they questioned him, they arrested him on suspicion of her murder. He actually confessed, they say, and led them, authorities, to her body, and her body was found late last night.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, we are very grateful to have with us tonight Allen Learst. And we thank you for joining us, sir. He is the father of the 1979 murder victim Jason Learst.

Sir, I know this has to be very difficult for you on many, many, many levels. Please share with us how this man devastated and destroyed your family and what he did to your son.

ALLEN LEARST, FATHER OF ROUSE MURDER VICTIM: Well, on October 28th in 1979, Danny Rouse attacked my ex-wife and murdered my son. When he was found guilty, he was sentenced to life in prison and also sentenced to a consecutive prison term of 5 to 20 years for aggravated assault.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, I understand that you have written letter after letter, every time this man has come up for parole, begging, begging the parole board, "Don`t let him out." Why is it, do you think, that they didn`t listen to you?

LEARST: Well, I don`t know. I suspect that there`s either a glitch in the system there or the letters went unnoticed by the right people.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I have to say that the Kansas Parole Board has issued a statement, and it`s absolutely -- what you`re looking at right now is your appeal to the parole board, saying, "Please, don`t let this man out." But they also -- the Kansas Parole Board, while saying, "Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Stephanie Wagner," the current victim, they also basically kind of said, "Well, hey, you know, our condolences, but it`s not our fault. Regrettably, a small number of inmates released from prison will commit new crimes and sometimes horrific crimes. However, the only person responsible for committing a crime is the person who makes the choice to commit a senseless, tragic act of violence."

Do you consider this, Allen, an insult to you? I mean, this parole board is sort of saying, "Well, you know, essentially, it`s not our fault, it`s your problem."

LEARST: Yes, I do consider that a kind of act of betrayal. I mean, it says, if they are side-stepping their responsibility, I think someone needs to be held accountable for the decisions they made. I don`t know if the parole board has an agenda, possibly a quota they need to meet for economic or political reasons. I was never furnished with the criteria they use to rationalize Rouse`s release, and I`d like to know how they arrived at their conclusions, given the nature of this terrible crime.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Brooks, former D.C. police officer who also served on the FBI terrorism task force, the governor of Kansas is now going to review the parole board`s system, a little too little, too late.

MIKE BROOKS, FORMER D.C. POLICE: A whole lot too little, too late, Jane. I mean, in Kansas and every state around the country, as well as the federal system, it needs revamping.

I know it sounds harsh and I know it sounds cruel, but he was given a life sentence and 5 to 20 for aggravated assault. He should be in prison for the rest of his life, period. I know we have a parole system, but it needs to be revamped. It`s needed it for a long time. If you`re convicted of a violent felony such as murder or aggravated assault, they give you the sentence, you serve the entire sentence, period.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just don`t understand it. Maybe Renee Rockwell can explain it to us. Why, you get a life sentence, and it doesn`t mean life? Legally, according to a parole board, they had to consider his parole over and over again apparently every three years, or thereabouts, and they say their criteria is -- any decision to release on parole is made only when the board observes behavior implicating that the inmate is capable of leading a law-abiding lifestyle. Well, how the heck can they know if he`s going to be law-abiding out in the free world when they`re watching him behind bars when he`s completely restricted?

ROCKWELL: Jane, obviously at the time when he received this sentence, it was a life sentence wherein he was eligible for parole. I would hate to think that you would completely take away all parole, because you do want prisoners to go to jail with the thought of rehabilitating their lives, and getting out, and learning how to live among others.

It just looks like, maybe in this situation, that didn`t happen. Those 26 years did not do anything for this gentleman, allegedly. He`s only a suspect, but I don`t see that the prison system did much for him, now, did it?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Brooks, I can tell that you want to respond to this. I can just feel it over the airwaves.

BROOKS: You`re absolutely right, Jane. This guy was out seven months. And what did he get off on, good behavior? What kind of good behavior did he have on prison where he`s locked down 24/7 with other prisoners who`ve been convicted of other serious crimes?


BROOKS: The system failed this son`s man, period.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And, you know, I have to also say jail overcrowding is often cited as a reason to let people out. Well, why not let out the non-violent criminals? I mean, people are being arrested and convicted for what you might call victimless crimes that have nothing to do with knifing, stabbing young children. Why not let those people out first?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The investigation led officers to a field near Cass County Road`s (ph) 900 North and 700 West. The body of Stephanie Wagner was found in the field. Danny Rouse soon will (INAUDIBLE) from (INAUDIBLE) incarcerated in our jail here. He is facing potential charges relating to the death of Stephanie Faye Wagner. He has no bond pending until a hearing tomorrow.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, in tonight for Nancy Grace. Closing thoughts as we try to fathom the horror of a murder that really didn`t have to happen. It wouldn`t have happened if a man who police say confessed was still behind bars for his first murder, which, by the way, involved slashing the throat of a 5-year-old boy.

And, by the way, if you don`t like the Kansas Parole Board`s decision, we happen to have their phone number available. You can call them and give them your opinion, and that number is 785-296-3469.

In our last seconds, I would like to ask both Renee Rockwell and Mike Brooks to put up the dukes and debate: Can this kind of killer who slashes a little boy`s throat be rehabilitated?


ROCKWELL: Jane, I`ve got to give it to you, no, I don`t think so.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, there goes the debate. Mike Brooks, I`m sure you don`t think so, either.

BROOKS: Absolutely not. Renee and I were discussing that at the break, and no. This guy -- the system let that little 5-year-old boy`s family down, and that`s the bottom line. States need to revamp their systems. They need to take a look at it. And Kansas, I can`t believe that they came out with that statement. That was ridiculous.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Renee, why let him out then?

ROCKWELL: Well, you know what? Here`s a situation where of course they`re going to have to explain this to all kinds of people, maybe even to keep their jobs. But he`s in a state now where, Jane, there is a death penalty, so this ain`t going to happen again. You`ve got a guy that`s not only confessed, but he brought the police allegedly to the body. I don`t think it`s going to be a hard act to follow...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s too late for two families, but thank you for all your thoughts.

Tonight, we remember Army Specialist Nathaniel Aguierre, just 21 years old from Carrollton, Texas, an Army combat medic. Aguierre put off plans to attend Texas A&M University to enlist in the military. An adventurous spirit, he enjoyed rock climbing and supporting the local Boy Scouts. He leaves behind a loving family, including a younger sister, Melissa. Nathaniel Aguierre, an American hero.

Thank you to all of our guests for their insights tonight, and thanks to you at home for tracking these very important cases with us. Please tune in right here tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. Until then, have a terrific and a safe evening.