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Nancy Grace

Teen Beating Suspects Plead Not Guilty

Aired April 29, 2008 - 20:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight: Real, live "Mean Girls" takes on a whole new meaning after a brutal all-girl gang attack on a teenage honor student cheerleader all caught on video, the so-called popular girls accused of luring a classmate into a vicious beating there in an upscale Florida home, leaving the girl victim unrecognizable even to her own father and with loss of hearing and sight, the girls gone wild videotaping to star themselves on YouTube and MySpace. Headlines tonight. The all-girl gang has a date with Lady Justice just hours ago in court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A development today in the teen beating case. All of the eight defendants charged with kidnapping and battery in the brutal assault of a 16-year-old girl have pled not guilty to all the charges that could ultimately reward them with life in prison. Attorneys for the teens have spoken out, saying their clients were overcharged and should be prosecuted as juveniles, while the 16-year-old victim remains at home, still suffering from both hearing and vision loss from the vicious attack that left her unconscious.



911 OPERATOR: Is she hurt? Does she need an ambulance?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I think she needs -- she`s got a big old knot on the side of her eye.

911 OPERATOR: OK. And who was it that jumped her?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`ll have to ask. They -- they need to know who jumped you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m writing all the names down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s going to write all the names down.


GRACE: And tonight, a shocking discovery in a quiet Florida neighborhood. An anonymous tip leads police to a 1-year-old baby boy alone in his crib, trapped by trash and filth, debris so overwhelming, the home declared unfit for human habitation, the risk to the baby so great, the stench so bad, Mommy arrested on the spot.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ft. Pierce (ph) police releasing these jaw- dropping photos from a house on Revels Lane (ph), a place where this 19- year-old mom and her 1-year-old son called home, a home where the helpless baby allegedly forced to live in extremely dangerous conditions, police and DPF (ph) arriving to a scene so outrageous, the mommy taken into custody immediately, garbage, junk, dirty diapers, sour food all over the two- bedroom home, and that`s just the tip of the iceberg, the toilet filled with human excrement and feminine hygiene products, all within reach of the baby boy, Mary Fosnot (ph) facing felony child neglect charges and up to five years in prison.


GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us. Tonight, real, live "Mean Girls" takes on a whole new meaning after a brutal all-girl gang attack on a teenage honor student cheerleaders, and it`s all caught on video. Well, today, the all-girl gang has a date with Lady Justice in court.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of the defendants charged with kidnapping and battery in the beating of a 16-year-old girl plead not guilty in court documents filed today. The eight teens, who face life in prison for the brutal beating of the 16-year-old victim, plan to fight the charges. Documents reveal the victim told police she was ambushed and not only lost consciousness but still suffers from hearing and vision loss.



911 OPERATOR: Polk County sheriff`s office. This is Brenda (ph). What is your emergency?

911 OPERATOR: 911 transfer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just got jumped.

911 OPERATOR: You just got what, jumped?


911 OPERATOR: And do you know who did it?


911 OPERATOR: OK. What`s your name?


911 OPERATOR: OK. And where are you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m at my friend`s house.

911 OPERATOR: Pardon?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m at my friend`s house in Lakeland. Do you need the address?

911 OPERATOR: Yes, ma`am.




911 OPERATOR: All right. There was more than one?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, there was six, six girls.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "If not more," she said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s got blood in her mouth and she`s got a big old knot on her left eye, and we think that she`s got a tooth broke.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As prosecutors gather evidence, the defense claims that their clients were unfairly charged and should be prosecuted as juveniles.


GRACE: Well, apparently, the girls didn`t show up in court today. Let`s find out why -- except for one that mistakenly showed up. Out to Rory O`Neill with Metro Networks. What was the court date about today?

RORY O`NEILL, METRO NETWORKS: Nancy, this was just really their formal arraignment, so much of it could be taken care of with paperwork that was filed early by the attorneys. And one of the teens, as you mentioned, Brittini Mayes (ph), had showed up to court mistakenly, thinking that she had to be before the judge. That wasn`t the case. She simply showed up in court, learned what was going on, turned around and left with her parents and didn`t say anything.

GRACE: It`s my understanding, Rory, that she turned her back to the camera?

O`NEILL: Yes, she did. They`ve all been rather camera-shy since this happened -- ironic, considering the event that we`re talking about. But now they are camera-shy and did not want to have any message to the media today.

GRACE: Joining us exclusively tonight is the attorney for Cara Murphy, one of the so-called mean girls. Melodie Lopez is with us. Melodie, after this whole incident allegedly occurring so the girls could be on YouTube and MySpace, why are they camera-shy now?

MELODIE LOPEZ, ATTORNEY FOR TEEN SUSPECT CARA MURPHY: Well, Nancy, I don`t actually have any knowledge, my client has no knowledge that there was a plan to put this on YouTube. I think that was generated by some of the co-defendants after the incident actually took place.

GRACE: Didn`t your client have a videocamera during the entire ordeal?

LOPEZ: No, ma`am. There was actually, allegedly, one camera. And there were some allegations that someone handed the camera to my client, but she is actually denying that.

GRACE: Well, you know, I`m taking a look at the victim`s statements. And she`s very explicit regarding who had the cameras. And it says, "I tried to go for the door but was struck by Cara Murphy, who was holding a camcorder."

LOPEZ: I`ve read that. It -- there`s actually two statements made by the victim. When she actually gave a recorded statement to the police later that day or maybe a couple days after, she actually denied specifically that my client hit her. She specifically said, Cara did not hit me and Mercades Nichols did not hit me. And she said specifically that, They wouldn`t hit me.

I think, actually, you`re going to hear when all the facts come out that some of the girls were egging my client on to hit her and...

GRACE: Well, you know what`s interesting...

LOPEZ: ... she refused to do that.

GRACE: You know what`s interesting, Melodie Lopez? Melodie Lopez is a veteran trial attorney in the Florida jurisdiction. I have with me right here both of the statements, and a very careful reading of the statements makes it very clear that the victim is saying that Cara and Mercades, at that juncture, were the only ones not hitting me -- at that juncture -- but would not allow me to leave. She goes on in her next statement on page 4 of 39 to say when she did try to leave, your client struck her and was holding a camcorder.

So there may have been a juncture, according to the victim, where your client didn`t hit her, but according to the victim, when she tried to leave, your client had a camcorder in her hand and whopped her but good. Thoughts?

LOPEZ: Well, I think that`s inconsistent, obviously, with the victim`s own statement. And if you -- you`re looking, I think, at a statement that is paraphrased from the police officer. That`s the detective`s report. If you...

GRACE: I`ve got both of them, and the other one is her handwritten statement, so she actually wrote it.

LOPEZ: Right. But if you read the actual statement that she gave to law enforcement, she very specifically says, Cara did not hit me at all. She doesn`t say, At that time, she said, Cara did not hit me at all.

GRACE: Have police given you that statement?

LOPEZ: Yes, ma`am. I actually got that statement probably a couple weeks ago.

GRACE: Let`s go out to another special guest joining us tonight. You know Gloria Allred, victims` rights attorney. She is joining us tonight out of LA. She is representing the victim in this case. You know, Gloria, we usually say "alleged" victim, and "allegedly" this and "allegedly" that. It`s on camera. Your client is the victim. Not one time do we take her -- do we see her take a swing back, nothing. There she is, she`s trying to get to the door.

You know, Gloria, I had a judge who was 84 years old at the time, and he would tell every jury, It is your duty to make (ph) all witnesses speak the truth and impugn perjury on no one. These two statements, if read together, make perfect sense.

GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY FOR TEEN BEATING VICTIM: Well, you know, I wish there were two Nancy Graces, one for television and one to be the prosecutor in this case, although I think the prosecutor in this case is going to do a good job.

Let me just say that, obviously, all of the facts will come out in the court of law, if, as, and when there is a trial. But I can understand why the defense attorney would want to try to portray her client in the best possible light. I agree with you, Nancy, that it certainly appears that my client is a victim in this case. She`s not striking back at anyone.

GRACE: I understand, Melodie Lopez -- Melodie Lopez is joining us exclusively tonight. She is the attorney for one of the so-called "mean girls," Cara Murphy. Melodie, I understand that you do not believe these young girls -- actually, well into their teens -- should be treated as adults. Why shouldn`t they be treated like every other teen who commits an aggravated assault?

LOPEZ: They actually weren`t charged with aggravated assault. They were charged with kidnapping, which is...

GRACE: Oh, much more serious! Go ahead.

LOPEZ: Actually, it is. It`s a felony punishable by life. But if you look at the facts and the evidence, there clearly is a battery here. I was a former prosecutor. I believe in our justice system. But that`s what the facts support, is a battery. I don`t believe that the facts support an actual kidnapping. And that`s why I`ve said that this case could be handled in juvenile court.

GRACE: So you believe that the system works, except it hasn`t worked in your case?

LOPEZ: I believe the system works a lot of times. And I`m not saying it doesn`t work in our case. The case hasn`t played out. We haven`t seen the end of this.

GRACE: Let`s go out to the lines. Let`s go to Desiree in Utah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. I just want to say you`re so amazing. You`re the reason I`m going to law school in the fall.

GRACE: Bless you. And remember, the first year, they scare you to death. Second year, they work you to death. And third year, they bored you to death.


GRACE: So dig in, girl. What`s your question?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is, since they were planning on disseminating this on the Internet, is there a possibility of federal charges?

GRACE: Federal charges? Interesting. On the Internet. Let`s unleash the lawyers. Joining us tonight, Susan Moss out of New York, Ray Giudice out of Atlanta and Alex Sanchez, also out of New York. What about it, Susan Moss?

SUSAN MOSS, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: Well, since it didn`t actually go on the Internet, it`s probably that there won`t be federal charges. But there certainly are going to be state charges. Now, the defense says that they`re being overcharged, but I say that the victim was over-beaten. When you look at the injuries in this case and you look at the brutality in this case, when you look at the video in this case, it`s quite clear that these girls are going to do serious time.

GRACE: What about it, Ray Giudice?

RAY GIUDICE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, Nancy, I think it`s actually an interesting topic that might need to be explored for pornography that comes over state lines, inappropriate cell phone calls that come over state lines with digital pictures that are pornographic in nature. This is violent in nature. Maybe the feds -- I`m not saying this is the right case, but maybe the feds could start to put a stamp on this and maybe that`s what we need to do to shut down YouTube putting these things on and promoting more.

GRACE: But as you heard, it never made it to YouTube or MySpace.

GIUDICE: Well, I understand. I said this may not be the case. I said it`s a very interesting topic for discussion, and...

GRACE: Can we talk about this case?

GIUDICE: OK. Well, Nancy, I guess they can`t do it in this case.

GRACE: Yes. Well put. Out to the lines. Michael in Vermont. Hi, Michael.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nancy, love your show. My question is...

GRACE: Well, bless you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... how can somebody plead not guilty when we got video evidence proving otherwise?

GRACE: You know, Alex Sanchez, I was saving that question specifically for you. They`re on videotape, Alex. They pled not guilty today in court. That takes a little bit of nerve, huh? I mean, wouldn`t you think they`d be trying to work a deal maybe?

ALEX SANCHEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you know, it may be that the parties are guilty of some of the charges, as Ms. Lopez has said. But it does appear to me, Nancy, that charging these kids with kidnapping -- I mean, this is not some major drug cartel or some major, you know, inner city gang that`s shaking people down for money. These are essentially a bunch of kids that did engage in delinquent behavior. They should be...

GRACE: Oh, wait a minute. Wait a minute.

SANCHEZ: ... penalized, but...

GRACE: Wait a minute. Let`s see Alex Sanchez...

SANCHEZ: ... let`s not go overboard with this life imprisonment.

GRACE: Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. So you`re saying because they come from a nice neighborhood and they`re girls and they`re white...


GRACE: ... that they should not be treated differently. They`re not, like, a gang? Didn`t you see all those girls beating the heck out of the victim?

SANCHEZ: I did see that. And there is going to be penalty, but life imprisonment, Nancy, for what boils down to a bunch of delinquent kids? You know, jail is not the final solution to all our dysfunctions in society.

GRACE: You know, I don`t know if the names Nathaniel Abraham (ph), Nathaniel Brazil (ph), Lee Boyd Malveau (ph), Lionel Tate, Derek (ph) and Alex King (ph), all of those juveniles treated as adults -- why should these girls be any different, Susan Moss?

MOSS: They shouldn`t.

GRACE: Because they`re girls and they`re white?

MOSS: It`s no reason whatsoever. When you look at the severity of this crime, which we have caught on very good, the answer is clear and the judge did the right thing.

GRACE: Out to the lines. Cara in Utah. Hi, Cara.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Well, the guy just answered my question, basically. I was just wondering, because I (INAUDIBLE) in bit cities where a bunch of boys will run down the street and beat somebody up, and they`re wearing blue or red because they`re in a gang, and these girls are doing basically the same thing. So why can`t they be charged for gang-related incidents?

GRACE: Interesting, interesting theory about acting as a group.

To Patricia Saunders. I sometimes wonder, if they had been alone, if they would have acted this way.

PATRICIA SAUNDERS, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: No, Nancy. Pack behavior brings out absolutely the worst in people. We can`t forget about "Lord of the Flies," and this is a girl version of "Lord of the Flies," where it`s a group driven by envy from this pretty victim. They conspire in their caritas (ph) and cruelty to humiliate and really harm her. She could have been blind, if not dead.

GRACE: What you`re seeing right now up on the screen are similar transactions, as we call them under the law. These are copycat similars that all took place after this case. They`re all from YouTube.

And I want to talk just one moment to Rory O`Neill from Metro Networks. You know, now there are copycat cases possibly based on this case.

O`NEILL: Right. And we`re seeing this actually still living out and playing out on the Internet. We`ve now seen this MySpace page that`s come up there, that -- the validity of which is certainly in question. But this is certainly something for that generation, for that tween teen generation. This is where this case will play out for them because for them, it won`t be playing out in a courtroom.

GRACE: Out to Mike Brooks, former fed with the FBI, former cop in D.C. What do you think about the girls being a no-show in court today? Don`t you think they should have dragged in, in their Sunday best, with a big Bible, the Torah and the Quran hanging around their neck, selling Girl Scout cookies, trying to tell everybody how they turned their lives around?


MIKE BROOKS, FORMER D.C. POLICE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I tell you what, Nancy. For a felony, they should be made to be in court before the bar of justice. I mean, look at Mercades Nichols. She already had a restraining order on her prior, back in November, for dating violence with an ex-boyfriend, and she violated that. So apparently, she doesn`t get this whole criminal justice thing.

They should have been made to come in, especially after their last little act, where they thought it was real funny when they were on videotape, when they were doing it by video in the jail, and when a couple of them thought it was real, real funny. They should have been made to be there, period.

GRACE: You know, Melodie Lopez, I`m curious. Why didn`t your client come to court today and enter the not guilty plea for herself?

LOPEZ: I have never had a client appear in court to enter a plea of not guilty, Nancy. As a prosecutor, I think you probably went to arraignment court also. The client doesn`t show up to those.

GRACE: No, actually, they were in court to plead guilty or not guilty at every formal arraignment in my jurisdiction.

LOPEZ: We don`t have that in Florida. You don`t have to be present for the arraignment.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think she`s got a broken tooth. She`s got a mouth full of blood. And I`m a nurse and she doesn`t look too good right now.



911 OPERATOR: We`ll get EMS there.


911 OPERATOR: And we`ll get the deputy sheriff there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Thank you.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`ll never be herself. How -- I mean, how can you have something like this happen to you and say, I am the same person?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The unfortunate thing with this, not only does she lose her dignity, her pride, she was whipped, in a sense raped, in a different manner.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, she does not need to wash her face.

911 OPERATOR: No. Don`t.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don`t wash anything. Just stay the way you are. OK, what else do you need? I`m sorry. It`s just they`re very upset.

911 OPERATOR: I understand. I understand.


GRACE: Today, the all-girl gang had a court date. Only one of them showed up, by accident.

Out to Gloria Allred. I would have thought that they would have at least showed up.

ALLRED: Well, my guess, Nancy, is they didn`t want to show up, one, because they weren`t required to, but two, obviously, because there is a lot of press interest in this case, and apparently, they would not welcome that kind of interest in their face and in their demeanor.

GRACE: You know, I would take every chance I could to impress upon the court how much the case meant to me, how serious I was about turning my life around. But they did not show up in court today.

Back to Gloria Allred. What is your response to claims that these girls were overcharged and should get a slap on the wrist in juvenile court?

ALLRED: Well, Nancy, that is a very typical line by defense attorneys. And sometimes they`re right and sometimes they`re not. But I don`t agree with any defense attorneys who would allege that that this was caused by media interest. If anything, DAs are usually very cautious about charging when there`s a lot of media interest because they know they`re going to have to prove their case.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m not her mom, but I`m the friend`s mom.

911 OPERATOR: That`s OK. Is she hurt? Does she need an ambulance?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I think she needs -- she`s got a big old knot on the side of her eye.

911 OPERATOR: OK. And who was it that jumped her?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They -- they need to know who jumped you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m writing all the names down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s going to write all the names down.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daughter herself has had trouble with these same girls.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They tried to run her off the road and everything. So I do know these girls. They just are toughies around town.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I think about it? I think it`s trash. And that`s just it, simple trash that people want to feed off of. And it`s sick. You`ve got to have some kind of warped mind, in a sense, to think it`s entertainment to get the snot beat out of you and want to put it all over TV.


GRACE: Well, it will probably be state`s exhibit number one. That is the alleged victim`s mother speaking out.

Out to Dr. Daniel Spitz, medical examiner and pathologist. Dr. Spitz, she still, the victim, has not regained sight and hearing totally. Why?

DR. DANIEL SPITZ, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST, MEDICAL EXAMINER: Well, because the injuries that she sustained caused some degree of brain swelling. And you know, as that brain swelling continues, you can still have nerve damage that will result in vision loss and hearing loss. And it really remains to be seen whether she`s going to regain that function.

GRACE: To Jodee Blanco. Jodee, thank you for being with us again. You are the expert at anti-bullying. Has this type of behavior been going on a long time and we`re just now hearing about it?

JODEE BLANCO, ANTI-BULLYING ACTIVIST: Absolutely, Nancy. This has been going on for 30 years. The only difference is, with the Internet, we`re seeing it. And the Internet is now a double-edged sword. Thirty years ago, when I was in school, I had a group -- I`m a survivor-turned- activist. I had a group of kids ambush me in the parking lot, shove snow down my throat until I started to asphyxiate and pass out. And the next day, when they went before the principal, they laughed about it, and that`s...



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Disgusting, filthy and dreadful conditions discovered in a Fort Pierce, Florida home. But what`s even more shocking just like these stomach-turning photos, a 1-year-old baby boy allegedly forced to live in biohazardous conditions.

Department of Children and Family at the home following up on a neglect complaint. The caseworker walking into a home (INAUDIBLE) affidavit it`s too dangerous for humans to reside in. Dirty dishes every where, garbage, decaying food, spoiled milk, all stale salad dressing bottles, all with the potential to poison the baby. The bathroom so disgusting piled with filth and no running water.

19-year-old Mary Fasnacht arrested for child neglect.


GRACE: Well, I know one thing. That didn`t happen overnight.

Out to Jean Casarez, legal correspondent with "In Session." Jean, what happened?

JEAN CASAREZ, CORRESPONDENT, "IN SESSION": Well, Nancy, this is the case. It is not just neglect. It is not just filth. It`s a biohazard. It is bio issue with bio matter because there was species all over the home and the physical injury to anyone to live in that, to breathe in that, to touch that, and that is why the mother was arrested on the spot. The baby now in child custody.

GRACE: Biohazard? What do they mean by that, Jean?


GRACE: And the baby was trapped in the crib when the cops got there.

CASAREZ: At the moment in the crib, that is correct. But it was a 1- year-old baby. I don`t think the baby was always in that crib. There was mold growing in the kitchen, in the living room, with salad dressing bottles. There are vapors that you smell from that mold. The feces in the toilet bowl was all the way up. The feminine products, they were sticky, dried on the walls that created a base for dirt to collect. My guess is that could have been urine.

There are physical injures and health circumstances for living in that home.

GRACE: You know, out to Mike Brooks. Mike, he was a cop and he`s a prosecutor. We think we`ve seen it all, and I`ve been into a lot of crime scenes, but a biohazard? Your home is declared a biohazard?

MIKE BROOKS, FMR. DC POLICE DETECTIVE SERVED ON FBI TERRORISM TASK FORCE: This is a super fun sight, Nancy. This is unbelievable. I mean you got feces, feminine products, used condoms. That`s a biohazard in it of itself. It`s just -- and I`ve been in a lot of places, but Nancy, thank God we don`t have smell-o-vision for this particular case because people at home would be nauseated.

GRACE: A baby, a 1-year-old, 12 months old, living in this.

A special guest joining me right now, Sergeant Dennis McWilliams. He`s with the Fort Pierce Police Department.

Sergeant, thank you for being with us. How did police find out about this hazard?

SGT. DENNIS MCWILLIAMS, FORT PIERCE P.D.: Nancy, our officer responded to address to assist the Florida Department of Children and Family Services while they conducted a welfare check on the residence. When the officer got there, he noticed a smell and saw inside the home. He entered the house and believed there was a neglect crime in progress so he developed probable cause that warranted an arrest of the mother of this child.

GRACE: Sergeant, do police normally go along with Family and Children Services when they do checks?

MCWILLIAMS: Yes, on many occasions we do assist the Department of Children and Family Services and standby while they conduct their investigations.

GRACE: So, Sergeant -- with me is Sergeant Dennis McWilliams with the Fort Pierce Police Department.

Sergeant, if DFCS, Depart of Family and Children Services, was going to check the home, that tells me that this mother had a history with DFCS?

MCWILLIAMS: I can`t -- I don`t know whether or not she did have a history with the Department of Children and Family Services.

GRACE: Then why would they be going there?

MCWILLIAMS: Perhaps they received a tip or an anonymous phone call. I don`t know.

GRACE: Joining me right now is Jana Eschbach. She is a reporter of CNN affiliate WPEC joining us there in Riviera Beach, Florida.

Jana, thank you for being with us. How do police -- I mean, end up with a tip or did the DFCS get the fit? How did they find out about the biohazard this child was living in?

JANA ESCHBACH, REPORTER, CNN AFFILIATE WPEC: Well, unfortunately, Nancy, this is not the first biohazard we`ve seen here locally. In fact, we checked with local police agencies. They`ve seen 12 in recent months. And perhaps that is leading to the onslaught of anonymous phone calls to Department of Children and Families. People who once suspected their neighbors were perhaps messy or unorganized are now realizing that there`s a reason they haven`t been allowed inside their neighbor`s homes.

This is what we`re finding over and over again all around south Florida. And you know, to see dirty diapers on the floor, human waste rubbed into the carpet, used condoms just lying around, you and I both know that a 1-year-old baby will put anything in its mouth. And we don`t even want to think about -- you know, you see these pictures, any of that, going into the child`s mouth.

Now we were outside the home, standing there, and you could see very clearly from the window that there was so much dirt on the window, you could barely see inside. And what`s unfortunate -- this is a duplex, neighbors living right on top of them. So apparently someone finally called and reported what they suspect it was abuse.

The officer went in immediately when he responded there because, you know, he said he believed he was witnessing a crime being committed and neighbors said they saw the baby crawling on the floor in there often. And you know, the floor was sticky to touch is the way it was described.

GRACE: To Jean Casarez, Jean, who is this mother? This doesn`t happen overnight, Jean.


GRACE: This took a long time in the making. What`s the story?

CASAREZ: This is a 19-year-old mother, Mary Fasnacht. The baby was 1-year-old. It`s not believed that she has a criminal history at all, but remember, the officer said the smell coming from the home was unbelievable. That gave them probable cause to walk in. But the smell could have prompted a neighbor to call and complain also with that complain.

GRACE: Out to the lines, we are taking your calls live tonight.

Gary in South Dakota. Hi, Gary. Uh-oh. Hold on. Helen in Tennessee. Hi, Helen.

HELEN, TENNESSEE RESIDENT: Hi, I wanted to tell you I (INAUDIBLE) and your twins. And my question is, how much time could she get for this crime and could the judge give her some creative punishment by making her clean up the mess?

GRACE: I don`t if cleaning up this mess is really punishment enough. I`m afraid she`ll make the same mess all over again, Helen. But it certainly a good start.

Jean, what is the sentence possibility?

CASAREZ: This is a third-degree felony in Florida and the maximum sentence is five years.

GRACE: To Gary in South Dakota. Hi, Gary.

GARY, SOUTH DAKOTA RESIDENT: Hey, Nancy, big fan of yours.

GRACE: Thank you, dear. What`s your question?

GARY: I was actually wondering, how many times did people have to call the police before someone went and check on this house and that baby?

GRACE: Excellent question.

To Jana Eschbach with WPEC. Janna, I got a very, very strong feeling that this isn`t the first time there`s been a complaint against this mom.

ESCHBACH: Well, we don`t know what the history is with the Department of Children and Families. And she just became an adult in the last year of having this child. But what we do know, in fact, is that when the Department of Children and Families is called, they are able to go to the home and do what they call a wellness check, let themselves ride in the door to make sure that a crime is not being committed there. Very proactive here in the state of Florida.

They don`t have the same restrictions that law enforcement has as far as probable cause goes, Nancy.

GRACE: Unleash the lawyers. Susan Moss, Ray Giudice, Alex Sanchez.

Weigh in, Susan.

SUSAN MOSS, CHILD ADVOCATE, FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY: Even if your favorite Sesame Street character is Oscar, there is no excuse for this.

Now let me tell you something. At first, I had some sympathy for this 19-year-old.


MOSS: A young mother, maybe she didn`t have any money. But when I learned about the used condoms, the used condoms, that were allegedly found in this house, I got to tell you, all sympathy went out the window. If she has time to have sex, she has time to take care of her child.

GRACE: Ray Giudice, I don`t believe that rich people have the corner on cleanliness.


GRACE: All right? That`s no excuse.

GIUDICE: No, I agree, Nancy. And I`ll make an analogy, which may be a bad one. But if there was a dog inside that house, instead of a 1-year- old, this lady would be charged with animal cruelty. That baby did not deserve to live in that house. If she wanted to live like a pig, that`s her choice but not the baby`s.

GRACE: Alex Sanchez, what`s your defense?

ALEX SANCHEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know, look, I look at this lady and I see someone that has suffered a complete social, parental and psychiatric collapse. And that`s the reality that we have here.

GRACE: I`m sure you do.

SANCHEZ: And she`s a young girl without the financial wherewithal or without the intelligence, without family support systems. She needs help. She needs to have counselors come in and assist her in trying to rearrange her life again. That is going to be the defense in this case.

GRACE: Alex, could you please point to one shred, one scintilla, one speck of evidence that tells you she has a mental problem.

SANCHEZ: Just looking at the environment, Nancy. What normal, stable person.

GRACE: Well, Alex, very simply.

SANCHEZ: .could possibly live under those conditions without having a psychiatric problem.

GRACE: As a prosecutor, I would simply argue she is a P-I-G, pig.

SANCHEZ: Well, I think she`s a sick person that needs help.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Due to the sight that the child was living in with feces and the condoms, and no food, no running water, it`s just mess. The child has no business living like this.





UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Neighbors say this place appears a bit messy and unorganized. But police say what they found on the inside, well, they call it, a biohazard.

Toys and trash tossed in the yard. Little indication of the toxic condition inside on Revels Lane in Fort Pierce. Police photos show how bad it really is.

UNIDENTIFIED DETECTIVE: This is criminal. This is child neglect.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Fort Pierce police detective, David Cuddy, showed us evidence from inside. Dirty diapers on the floor, mold growing in the sink, the home with no running water, and human feces smeared in the flooring in every room. In the middle of it all, a crib of her 1-year-old son.

Police arrested 19-year-old Mary Fasnacht for child neglect, calling the place a biohazard and an abusive environment for her son. 1-year-olds are famous for stick everything in their mouths. Imagine the baby chewing on this.


GRACE: Let me guess, Dr. Patricia Saunders, mommy`s depressed, right? Is that what you`re going to say?


GRACE: You`ve been saying that, I know for a fact, for 11 years. Why she`s not be any different.

SAUNDERS: Mommy may be a substance abuser. And we`ve had cases of mommies who are mentally retarded. But that doesn`t take away from her culpability. And you`re right, she`s a P-I-G.

GRACE: Question to you, Jean Casarez, have you read this police report? Did you see the condition the child was living in?

CASAREZ: Yes, I read the arrest affidavit, all the documents. And one thing that I noted was when they arrived on the scene, she told police and the Department of Children and Family Services worker that there was no running water. That sounds to me like someone that is lucid and is able to know exactly what her conditions are like.

GRACE: So back to you Alex Sanchez. That -- she`s down your theory that she`s depressed and on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

SANCHEZ: It doesn`t sound to me like somebody that`s very lucid that would continue to live in a house without running water, and try to correct that problem.

Nancy, what we have here is a sick person that obviously needs intervention. Have the social workers come in, have the Department of Family Services come in, set up counseling sessions, come in, help clean up the apartment so this woman at some point can be reunited with the child.

Isn`t that in the best interest of everybody?

GRACE: I don`t think it`s in the best interest of the child at all.

SANCHEZ: At the present time, no, but in the future, it is.

GRACE: Hey, you know what? This is a pattern of behavior, this did not just happen overnight.

To Dr. Daniel Spitz, medical examiner and pathologist, there is a laundry list of dangers to this child.

DR. DANIEL SPITZ, MEDICAL EXAMINER, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Yes, I`m not sure I have enough time to go through all the problems that this child faces. It certainly ranges from a whole host of different kinds of infection, to choking hazards, to other kinds of accidents that can occur.

But I think what`s most important is that, when someone is living in this environment, it raises the question as to whether this child is getting appropriate nutrition and appropriate.

GRACE: And you know what, Dr. Spitz?


GRACE: Hold that thought. The other day, I found a penny. A penny on the floor. I blessed everybody out. You know why? What if one of the twins had put the penny in their mouth and swallowed it? Then what? Then I would have used that CPR class I had to take before I brought them home from the hospital. But long story short, I was freaked out about a penny, a single penny on the floor. The list of dangers to this child is extensive.

SPITZ: Oh, it is. And again, I`m back to the whole thing of the dehydration and the malnutrition. This child needs to be checked out from head to toe and certainly not put back in this environment.

GRACE: You know, there are no allegations of drug use or mental illness at this point for the mom.

I want to ask Sergeant Dennis McWilliams, where is she tonight and where is the baby tonight?

MCWILLIAMS: The mom is still at the St. Lucie County Jail and the baby was placed with the Department of Children and Family Services.

GRACE: Out to the lines. To Dawn in Illinois. Hi, Dawn.

DAWN, ILLINOIS RESIDENT: Hi. I love your show, your babies are wonderful.

GRACE: Thank you. You know what, thank you for watching and thank you for caring about the twins. I appreciate that.

What`s your question, dear?

DAWN: I guess going along the line which you all were just talking about, if there was a mental disorder or some type of drug abuse, not that it takes away from what`s happened, but in my mind, it would have to be just something horrific going on with her for it to be -- the condition to be that severe for that child.

GRACE: Good question.

To Sergeant McWilliams, was she coherent and lucid when she was arrested?

MCWILLIAMS: According to the officer, she appeared to be coherent and lucid when arrested.

GRACE: And when she was booked in, she was able to give information about herself, such as her address, her DOB, other information that`s on a booking sheet?

MCWILLIAMS: Well, all that information is on the booking sheet.

GRACE: And she is housed with the other inmates so there`s no reason to put her in a mental ward?

MCWILLIAMS: I don`t know where she`s housed.

GRACE: Do you have any reason to believe, Jana Eschbach, that she is housed in a mental ward?

ESCHBACH: No, the St. Lucie County Jail has her in the regular inmate population right now. She declined our request for an interview. And I think it`s important to state that when the police go into a home like this, often the people are so embarrassed they try to make excuses. She didn`t have any excuses on this one. It would be hard to explain the fecal matter in the drains and shower.

GRACE: Very quickly, Jean Casarez, there are no charges on drug or alcohol, correct?

CASAREZ: No. That is correct.

GRACE: OK. So that`s not going to be a defense.

Out to Joan in New Mexico. Hi, Joan.


GRACE: What`s your question, dear?

JOAN: I`ve been in property management for 20 something years. And I would like to know if this owner is receiving subsidy from the federal government to get their rent? Because if they are, then the government needs to take responsibility because they`re supposed to make sure it`s safe and sanitary?

GRACE: Excellent question.

JOAN: And the owner, and the owner.

GRACE: To Jana Eschbach, is this subsidized?

ESCHBACH: We don`t believe that it is subsidized. It`s a rental unit but to say that the government didn`t step in -- a neighbor complained, they came immediately. And I`d say within a couple of hours she was in jail and that child was in state protective custody, which is where many believe that child should be tonight.

GRACE: To Bernadette in Canada. Hi, Bernadette.


GRACE: Thank you, dear.

BERNADETTE: Congratulations on the twins. I was just wondering if there`s a father involved for this child?

GRACE: Yes, good question. You know what, I was thinking about mommy going to jail. Where`s daddy, Jean Casarez?

CASAREZ: Good question. We don`t know. No one has mentioned the father. But we do know there`s a used condom in the home so that mean another human being was in that home and saw those conditions.

GRACE: Out to the lines. Bunny in Nevada. Hi, Bunny.


GRACE: What`s your question, dear?

BUNNY: First, I want to thank you for your wonderful coverage on Brianna Denison.

GRACE: Thank you. Thank you.

BUNNY: Thank you very much.

GRACE: Thank you.

BUNNY: My question is, why was the water off? Was it shut off? Or how long was it off? You see water in the sink?

GRACE: You know that`s a good point. There is water in the sink, Jean Casarez. Do we have any idea how long the baby had gone without running water?

CASAREZ: No. But it`s a great point and I thought about it, too. There was water in the home. We know that. But we also know that white mold was very thick on the dishes in the sink that held the water.


GRACE: To HEADLINE PRIME`s Glenn Beck. Hi, friend.

GLENN BECK, HOST, GLENN BECK SHOW: Barack Obama blasted his former pastor saying that he was outraged by Reverend Wright`s antics yesterday.

Senator Obama, I have to ask you, did you even go to church? Where was your outrage 20 years ago?

And then, how would you like a four day workweek? Sounds great, right? Yet it`s too bad it`s an idea that`s being inspired by soaring gas prices that show no sign yet of returning to earth.

And the CW Network says OMFG, parents, do you even know what that means?

Details on that and more, next.

GRACE: A baby taken out of a home that was so filthy it was deemed a biohazard.

Out to Shelly in Missouri. Hi, Shelly.

SHELLY, MISSOURI RESIDENT: Hi, Nancy. How are you?

GRACE: I`m good, dear. What`s your question?

SHELLY: My question is, are there any other family members that at maybe one point may have gone by to visit the child or even her and would have seen that condition or maybe even tried to help clean up the place?

GRACE: What do we know, Jana?

ESCHBACH: Well, what we do know is that the Department of Children and Families says if there was family nearby, immediately, they place that baby with its immediate family. There`s no father that they speak of, no relatives that they speak of, which is why, in fact, that the child is most likely in a foster home tonight.

GRACE: A special thanks to Jana Eschbach, Jean Casarez and Sergeant Dennis McWilliams for being with us.

Let`s stop and remember Army Staff Sergeant Laurent West, 32, Raleigh, North Carolina, killed, Iraq. Also served Bosnia . Awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and National Defense Service medal. Remembered as genuine, humble, loved running and rock climbing with his dad. Leaves behind parents -- Larry and Ilona, stepdaughters Nistasha and Madison.

Laurent West, American hero.

Thank you to all of our guests, but our biggest thank you tonight is to you for being with us, inviting us all of us into your homes.

I`ll see you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern, and until then, good night, friend.