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Arrest in Murder of Maryland Church Mother
Aired July 13, 2012 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight`s mystery, live, upscale Maryland. A loving wife, mother of three, devoted to the children`s ministry at the local church, works late at church on a Thursday night getting ready for Sunday morning, calls home, then heads to the grocery, en route.
Nicole Bennett, mother of three girls, never seen alive again, never makes it home to their upscale gated community, Mommy`s red Chevy minivan still sitting there at the church parking lot. The body of Nicole Bennett discovered on the embankment on an isolated dirt road just six miles away from the church.
Bombshell tonight, is the mystery of murdered church mom set to crack wide open?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nicole Bennett.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Found by a hiker.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Woke up early in the morning. That`s when he realized she wasn`t home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this dirt road in Worcester (ph) County.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Evil (ph) can find anybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nicole Bennett.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Found my daughter-in-law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dead, her body in an embankment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was just so excited about her ministry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The three girls he left without a mother.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police say DNA evidence links 28-year-old Matthew Burton to the murder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re all shocked. And we love her and we`re going to miss her very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: News of an arrest in the murder of...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) evil world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a tier one sex offender.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An evil world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And was a custodian at Bay Shore Community Church.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) I want to be, you know...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Evil exists.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was, you know, living for God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Nicole and that`s her story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us.
Bombshell tonight. Live to upscale Maryland. A loving wife, the mother of three, devoted to the children`s ministry at the local church -- the body of Nicole Bennett discovered off an isolated dirt road six miles away from that church where she worked late on a Thursday night.
Is the mystery of murdered church mom set to crack wide open? How did her body get down an embankment on an isolated dirt road? Why was her Chevy minivan back at the church where she was working late? Inside, her purse and cell phone.
What happened? Why was there a delay in reporting her missing? Who else was at that church? Did they have surveillance cameras? Did they have a key, one of those passes that tells you who`s coming in and of the of the church at what time of the day or night? Were there fingerprints?
Was there motive for murder? And why did this mother of three choose not to go in and work during the day but instead to go to the church that evening? Those are just some of the questions that we have to answer tonight.
We are taking your calls in the mystery of the murdered church mom. Straight out to Michael Lopardi, reporter with CNN affiliate WBOC, joining me there in front of the church.
Michael, thank you for being with us. I have long argued that this spot, the spot where her body was discovered, was not where she was murdered, that it was a staged scene, that she was disposed there on that embankment. What do we know tonight, Michael Lopardi?
MICHAEL LOPARDI, WBOC CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point, Maryland State Police say the exact scene of the murder is unclear. Of course, she was last heard from when she was at this church behind us, and then the next day, investigators say a man walking found her body along that dirt road in Worcester County.
But at this point, the exact scene of the crime is what still remains a mystery, Nancy.
GRACE: Everyone, we are taking your calls. Straight out to Michelle in Delaware. Hi, Michelle. What`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, Nancy, I have a couple. I live here in Oceanview, and this is just not being talked about like it should. So I really, really appreciate that you are continuing to cover this and will get to the bottom of this.
One thing I just want to say. I live five miles from Matthew Burton, who has been accused of this murder. Why is he not on the sex offenders list? I check that list regularly because I have a 4-year-old grandson. I`m also a newly single woman again. And so I live by myself.
And this man lives less than five miles from my front door, and he is not on that sex offenders list that I can look up on line, like everybody else in their community across this nation.
GRACE: I don`t get it. Wait. Hold onto Michelle in Delaware. I`m stunned. Why is he not on the sex registry?
To Wendy Whitman, on the story. Wendy, what do we know?
WENDY WHITMAN, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER (via telephone): Well, in a previous case, he ended up being ranked a tier one, and they are not on the registry. However, my take on all of this is whether or not you assign a number to a sex offender, they`re going to do what they`re going to do.
And the whole point is they shouldn`t be out to begin with. And people are dying because of this. And we have so many case where it`s strictly a repeat sex offender who escalates in violence or (INAUDIBLE) these people.
GRACE: OK, Wendy, I want to go back -- before I go back to Michael Lopardi, CNN affiliate WBOC joining me there in front of the church, Wendy, describe to me the original offense where he became a registered sex offender, or a convicted sex offender. Wendy, what happened in that case?
WHITMAN: OK, in that case, that was in 2004, he faced 22 felony counts and a possible sentence of 375 years for various sex and rape charges regarding two little girls. The judge and the prosecutor in that case gave him a plea deal, where he actually got a suspended sentence, when he originally faced 375 years. And now Nicole Bennett`s dead, so you put it together.
GRACE: Wa, wa, wa, wait, wait. A suspended sentence? Wendy, did you say the rape and sex assault on two little girls, two little girl victims? Here are the charges, 12 counts rape second degree, eight counts unlawful sex conduct, one count rape second degree, one count continuous sex abuse of a child, one count indecent exposure.
He faced 375 years, and he got two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and two years probation? Please tell me I`m wrong, Wendy. Please tell me I`m wrong.
WHITMAN: You`re not wrong. I think this is a chronic problem. The problem -- what happened here is basically a combination of judges having no accountability for their bad decisions and sex offenders being mishandled by the criminal justice system. And surprise, surprise, you have murders going on.
And the same judge and prosecutor a few years earlier did the same deal with another rapist. He served -- he did probation and time served, and then eight years later, he (INAUDIBLE) and murdered a little girl.
And you know, you have to ask yourselves why we have a criminal justice system that seems to favor defendants at every turn, who has the rights in this country and why we allow judges to basically play Russian roulette with the public safety.
GRACE: Now, wait a minute. The judge is T. Henley Graves.
GRACE: Let`s see his picture. And what jurisdiction -- where is T. Henley Graves, Wendy?
WHITMAN: He`s in Delaware.
GRACE: Delaware. And who`s the prosecutor? You`re saying this happened before and they probated somebody that got out and committed murder?
WHITMAN: Yes, it happened in 2001, the same team, the same judge and the same prosecutor. This guy, Thomas Leggs, he got probation and time served for rape charges, and then he murdered eight years later 11-year-old Sarah Haley (ph) Foxwell.
And then to make it even worse, to add insult to injury, he got another plea deal for the murder which spared him the death penalty.
GRACE: What the hay is going on in Delaware? Do I still have Michelle in Delaware on the phone, Liz? Michelle in Delaware, are you hearing this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m hearing it. And I`m telling you what. My hair is standing up on my arms. I drove those roads yesterday that she was dropped off like trash on. And this is just an outrage.
And another thing that`s interesting is that he`s fighting extradition to Maryland. Now we know why. Now we know why, because he got away with it in Delaware, and he doesn`t want to go and be prosecuted in Maryland!
GRACE: Michelle in Delaware, have you ever heard of this judge, T. Henley Graves?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have not, but I guarantee you that I`ll be writing a letter, too.
GRACE: You know what, Liz? Let`s just get the phone number of the governor of Delaware. Get it for me. And get me the Web site. I want it before the end of this show, Liz, please. And I want to get the number to the judge, T. Henley Graves in Delaware because I think there are some constituents that he owes an explanation to, All right?
Joining me right now is Andre Beauregard. He represented the suspect in the 2004 sex abuse case, joining me from Dover, Delaware.
Now, Andre, look, I`ve got two other defense attorneys on the show to back you up.
Go ahead an unleash the lawyers, Eleanor Odom, death penalty-qualified prosecutor, Peter Odom, defense attorney out of Atlanta, Mickey Sherman, defense attorney out of New York. Peter and Mickey, I`m sure you`ll be backing up Andre Beauregard.
Andre, listen, I`m not here to try to slice your head off. I get what you do. This is a trial by fire system where two antagonists come to blows in the courtroom, the prosecutor and the defense. And you do what you can for your client, and the state does what it can with -- under the ethical guidelines to prosecute the case.
But I would like you to explain to me, Andre Beauregard, joining me, lawyer out of Dover. How did he get -- how did you get your client the sex offender tier one status? How does that work in that jurisdiction? Because on these counts -- I mean, he got a heck of a sweetheart deal, straight probation. But how did you get him tier one sex offender, Andre Beauregard?
ANDRE BEAUREGARD, ATTORNEY FOR SUSPECT IN 2004 CASE (via telephone): Ms. Grace, I want to thank you first for having me on your show.
GRACE: Thank you.
BEAUREGARD: The only thing I can say, Ms. Grace, is that every case is different. Every case is gray. In this particular case, there were credibility issues with the witnesses and the alleged victims. There was a credibility issue in the location, whether anything like this could have happened out in the open like that.
And my only job as a worker bee in the system is to make sure the state dots their I`s and crosses their T`s. So I had a history with this prosecutor previously on other sex cases. And the case came down to different motions that were filed in chambers to the point that, you know, Mr. Gelloff (ph) eventually said, Here is a plea, and then we worked on it and we got two misdemeanors and he got one year of probation.
And as a sex offender in Delaware, a tier one, even though you register and you keep your information up once a year, they don`t post your picture on the computer, nor do they do a community layout that you`re a sex offender or not. So he`s a tier one, but that was agreed upon with the parties. But the actual charge that he pled guilty to, the two charges, does not require him to register.
GRACE: OK, Andre Beauregard, you certainly zealously represented your client. Let me see here -- 22 counts, including child rape. Apparently, a grand jury believed the children. You say there were credibility issues with the little girl, but we -- and it was out in the open and you don`t think a rape can happen out in the open.
Well, I`ve got news for you, Andre Beauregard. We just covered a case where a sex offender molested, was raping a little girl, and her father came along and killed the sex offender. And it was out in the open on a farm. So it can be proved, and with DNA it can be proved.
Eleanor Odom -- and I appreciate, Mr. Beauregard -- I`m going to go back to you, Mr. Beauregard -- but he refers to himself as a "worker bee in the system." Now, Eleanor, you and I seem to take our cases a lot -- in a different light than that. I never considered myself a worker bee. I considered myself as a voice for victims, doing the right thing.
I mean, you know, that`s what they said at Auschwitz, I`m just doing what they tell me to do. You know, what? It`s not OK, Eleanor.
ELEANOR ODOM, PROSECUTOR: Well, Nancy, and it`s hard. And with prosecutors, you know, we have to prove our case beyond a reasonable doubt. And that`s why we go out, we look for that evidence, we try to talk to the witnesses. And sometimes, yes, we put up cases that maybe the defense says, Oh, it`s not that good.
But you`re right, Nancy. We`ve got to be the voice for victims and fight for victims rights.
GRACE: Everyone, the family album back, showcasing your photos from iReport. New Jersey friends, the Pallinos (ph), mother Tara (ph), her three daughters, loved the beach, dancing, softball and soccer. Share photos at iReportfamilyalbum@hlntv.com/NancyGrace. And click on "Nancy`s family album."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The murder of his daughter-in-law, 35-year-old Nicole Bennett.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Evil can find anybody at any time, and it found my daughter-in-law.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be forgiven for my past. I want to -- I want to be new.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: The past mistakes the church mom wanted to be free of was drinking beer in college, as I recall the facts. A mother with three girls to raise -- and all of you moms out there must know how important it is that you stay in your children`s lives, and that you are there, you are the go-to person for their safety and their happiness and their welfare. Those three girls left with no mother.
Joining me right now is a very special guest out of Georgetown, Delaware. This is the father-in-law of Nicole Bennett, the murdered church mom of three.
Bob Bennett, thank you for being with us. Please tell me, how are the girls?
BOB BENNETT, FATHER-IN-LAW (via telephone): Oh, Nancy, they`re -- you know, it`s different every day. They`re busy. The community has really stepped up and they`re involved in camps. And you know, they live in an upscale community, but they rent a condo there, Nancy. It`s just the times dictate that people have to rent because they can`t sell, so -- but these people have really stepped up.
And so the girls are busy, but I see the tears in their eyes every day. I see the tears in my son`s eyes. He`s still in a fog. He`s back at work. I`m crying as I listen to this.
I`m angry when I hear 22 counts? Really? What is that about?
GRACE: You know, Mr. Bennett, as a crime victim myself, much like you, a tangential victim of murder -- and you look back at the court system -- and I was so proud to be part of the system as a prosecutor. And when I hear cases like this, I`m ashamed. I`m ashamed of what our court system is, in that it is made up with people that don`t -- seemingly don`t care.
I mean, here`s this judge, T. Henley Graves, and the prosecutor, and I find out that that duo had done the same thing in the past and another murder had occurred.
Isn`t it true, Bob Bennett, I`ve learned that she could have worked that day, but she didn`t want to lose time with her children, so she thought she could scoot in in the evening hours and do the work for the youth group at church and scoot out...
BENNETT: Well, actually...
GRACE: ... because she wanted to be home with her children?
BENNETT: Well, actually, Nancy, she did work that day. Here`s the real scoop. Sometimes the press gets it wrong. She worked that day. She went in to be -- she was a teacher at Splash, which was the day care. But she wanted so much -- she was on staff as a part-time director of Babies of Bay Shore, and she was hoping to get that full-time eventually in the Splash.
So she went over to the church office to work on labeling. She called me at 7:48 that night asking me for an address. I still have the recording on my phone and I listen to it every now and again just to hear her voice.
GRACE: The mystery surrounding the death of a beautiful young church mom of three. She was working late that Thursday evening at her local church, heavily involved in the church youth ministry, children`s ministry. She calls home, tells her husband -- he`s at home with the children -- I`m going to stop at the grocery store en route, I`ll be home. She`s never seen alive again.
And with me right now is her father-in-law. What happened that evening, Bob Bennett?
BENNETT: My son -- and there`s a lot of misnomer out there. I`ve heard the questions. How could he -- they don`t understand the dynamic of their family. And if you don`t mind, I`d like to expound on that. I`d like people to understand why Kevin didn`t call until that night and what actually happened.
Kevin got a call about 6:30 when she`s left Splash saying that she was going to stay and work in the office. He had the three girls. He got into bed. They have a three-bedroom condo. The 15-month-old with RSV, who had had a bout the night before and kept him up all night, was in the room with the 8-year-old.
The dynamic worked this way. Whoever was home with the kids -- because they swapped out day care based upon their work schedules -- they would pull the 15-month-old out if they woke up and take her over to the futon on the other side of the condo.
And what happened about 9:30, she had told Kevin she was going to Harris Peter (ph) to buy groceries after she got through. He didn`t really expect her home until 10:000 or later. Who would have thought?
So he had texted her many times. About 9:30, he was laying there with the little one and he fell asleep. He woke up at 5:30 and called me, 5:30 in the morning, said, Dad, Nicole`s not home. He went to put the little one back in and saw she wasn`t there.
The police report`s close, as far as the -- it was before 8:00 when he called, but we decided to have somebody check at Splash for her car and see if her car was there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. My name is Nicole Bennett.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Breaking news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the murder of 35-year-old Nicole Bennett.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Young lady that was killed by some criminal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Evil can find anybody at any time, and it found my daughter-in-law.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) to be forgiven for my past. I want to -- I want to be new.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But in a matter of hours, the great life comes to screeching halt!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Troopers say Bennett was working late at church the last night she was heard from.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nicole Bennett, found by a hiker, dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her body was later found on this dirt road.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have three beautiful daughters that I want to live right for.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The three girls, he left without a mother.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lost a loved one and she cannot be replaced.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are all on a lot of pain.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be free.
NANCY GRACE, HLN HOST: We are taking your calls, has the mystery surrounding the murder of this beautiful young church mom of three set to crack wide open.
Joining me right there at the church, Millsboro, Delaware, Michael Lopardi, joining from CNN affiliate WDOC, also with me is Nicole`s father- in-law, describing what happened the evening she was last seen alive. She leaves behind three beautiful girls and a husband described as still being in a daze, a fog.
It`s hard enough for me to work and raise twins with the help of a husband and my parents, but what about him, he`s raising three girls now. No mommy, what is he going to tell them in the mid of the night when they come looking for mommy, what is he going to say as they grow up and they want their mother?
Back to you Michael Lopardi. I want to hear all of the evidence from the beginning to what we know right now.
MICHAEL LOPARDI, REPORTER, CNN AFFILIATE, WBOC: Sure, well you heard Mr. Bennett talk about the reported missing person`s report which came in at least officials through the police records on that Friday morning. And from there, we`re told a walker found the body along that dirt road in Worcester County, Maryland.
From there, we hear that there`s sort of a lapse of information coming out and it took some time. Eventually Maryland state police told us that Mr. Burton was alone at the church with Bennett, the last night that she was heard from. The church tells us that Burton worked there as a part- time custodian, but they are not telling us exactly how long he worked there. We do know that he was eventually terminated from his position there on June 14th, of course the next day, that`s when the victim`s body was found along that rural road in Maryland.
In terms of evidence at this time, Maryland state police say, they have DNA evidence that links Burton to the murder, but they`re not being more specific. We don`t have a lot details on exactly what, but that`s where we stand in terms of evidence.
GRACE: Joining me now, Dave Mack, morning talk show host from WAAX. Dave Mack, weigh in.
DAVE MACK, MORNING TALK SHOW HOST: You know Nancy, this is so sick. You know this guy, Burton, is actually married and has kids of his own. When he was original back in court on those 22 felony counts, when we should have been locked up for the rest of his life. And her raping a six and 7-year-old little girls, they will live to that for the rest of their lives. But at least, they are alive.
This monster was let go on misdemeanor charges, he never spent a day in jail. They put him on probation for year. And now, years later, he is killing somebody that he doesn`t have a relationship with. Maybe they knew one another, but that was about it.
His dear old mother, Burton`s mom, she actually went to a state representative that attends the church and asked her to see if they could do something to expunge his record. He couldn`t even have that done until 2014 at the earliest. There was a lot of lying going on with the Burton family at that church. And that`s what caused this.
GRACE: What do you mean a lot of lying going on with the Burton family at that church? And everybody, don`t confuse Burton with Bennett. The victim`s name was Nicole Bennett, the mother of three girls. She`s working late at the church at night, of all places you would think you would be safe. Can I tell you how many times I think of my mother running in to the church at night all during the week to practice on the organ and I`m thinking about Nicole Bennett and those three little girls at home and a father at home. They are all snagged in, as sleep, waiting for mommy to go to grocery store and come home.
I think of all the nights are run out to go get more milk that the twins need and nobody would ever suspect mommy won`t come back home.
Dave Mack, what were you saying about them lying, the perpetrator lying to the church?
MACK: Well, look. Matthew Burton`s family, they are members of this church. His mother`s on staff there part-time. Matthew Burton had these convictions and they never told anybody. He is a registered sex offender. And even though it`s a tier one, he still should have notified the church. But his mother tried to hide it. Because it was only after this came out that they actually went back. And now, they have gone back and they looked into the back grounds of all of their employees. But Burton was underneath the radar.
Now, they cut him loose, and that`s a little bit of hazy area. You`re talking about someone who`s got a big church background, OK? I`m a little worried about what they`re saying about how long there was between, they said they gave him two-week notice ahead of time. And I heard another report that he was fired the after. That doesn`t matter. They should have known the guy who is a sex offender first of all.
Second of all, he should never hired at a church. And thirdly, his mother, a member of the church shouldn`t have tried to cover it up and get his record expunged. All of these things were wrong, they`re all bad and they were all covered up.
GRACE: To Dr. Bethany Marshall, psychoanalyst, author of "Deal Breakers," Dr. Bethany number one, you`re not a mother yet, and since you didn`t ask, I think you should be, because you would be so great at it.
BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST, AUTHOR, DEAL BREAKERS: Thank you.
GRACE: What time thinking about right now, I keep having flashes of what Nicole Bennett went through, at the time of her death, to find her body down an embankment. Her children are going to go online one day and they are going read about what happened to their mother, all right?
Every time something about me pops up online, my first thought is my children are going to read this one day. that`s what going to happen and they are going to read this about their mother. I`m thinking about all these lies Dave Mack is telling me about, trying to cover up this guy`s history, Matthew Burton, a sex offender with counts of raping a six and 7- year-old girls, and nobody did anything about. In fact, they overtly try to cover it up from the church. The church was getting rid of this guy. We have been told they gave him two weeks` notice.
The conspiracy against victims covering this up and exposing him to potential victims. I don`t understand that, Dr. Bethany.
MARSHALL: Nancy, Burton`s entire family victimized the church. Churches are such trusting places. In fact, my dad is a Baptist minister. I`m ordained. Where is a perpetrator going to go? A perpetrator is going to go where people are vulnerable and trusting. And this entire family gravitated towards the church. This mother`s lying about her son`s history is a massive defense against knowing how wicked, horrible and malicious her son is.
He stalked these little girls, he didn`t just have sex with them, he stalked them over time which means he had a compulsion. What did Burton`s mother do? She put him on to the doorstep of the church, what is in the church? A daycare center. We know why he was there, he was gaining proximity towards children. There was a grooming pattern. And we don`t know, maybe Nicole Bennett discovered that there was some bad deeds against children and she confronted him. Maybe he was escalating in his offending pattern, but we know that whatever happened between the two of them that night, he got rid of her because he didn`t want her as a witness. I think the families and the children in this church need to be questioned to make sure that no other children were molested.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A daycare teacher loved by many.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The woman with no enemies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, my name is Nicole Bennett.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He will confine anybody at anytime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Why wasn`t he in jail? With charges of raping a 6 and 7-year- old little girl, he got straight probation.
With me his former defense attorney. Unleash the lawyers, joining me, Eleanor Odom, veteran prosecutor, death penalty qualified, former senior attorney with the national district attorneys association. Also with me, renowned defense attorney Mickey Sherman, also with me, former prosecutor turned defense lawyer Peter Odom out of Atlanta and special attorney joining us, Andre Beauregard who actually represented -- let me just put it out there, this piece of crap. That`s a technical legal term, Andre, don`t get too upset. Who got straight probation on 22 counts, including raping a six and 7-year-old little girl. Can`t blame it all on him, he`s a defense attorney, that`s his job. But the judge accepted the plea. That judge T. Henley Graves in Delaware, and the prosecutor.
Look, I`m a former prosecutor, but I can`t let him off the hook either. I think his name is Gellog. We`re taking your calls, all right, Sherman, take your best shot.
MIKEY SHERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I`m a defense attorney for years, like you say --
GRACE: No, no, no.
SHERMAN: We want to blame somebody very quickly.
GRACE: I just want to hear what types of cases you took to trial.
SHERMAN: Whatever came through the door.
GRACE: Including murder?
SHERMAN: Sometimes you go to trial, sometimes you don`t, but you don`t blame the system.
GRACE: Did you prosecute a murder case?
GRACE: At trial?
SHERMAN: Yes. But More often I defended murders, however.
GRACE: I don`t know that that`s more important.
SHERMAN: Well frankly, I think it is. The problem here, Nancy, is you are so ready to vilify the judge and the prosecutor for doing their job.
GRACE: Actually the judge, I`m actually kind of letting the defense attorney off the hook.
SHERMAN: He shouldn`t be off the hook? That`s what he is. Just lied to you blame a snake for striking, it is what it is, it crawls on its belly and it thinks it`s a king, but it`s a snake.
SHERMAN: We`re defending people to the best of our ability.
GRACE: I just told you, I appreciate. Please get off the stump, I appreciate that, preacher, I really do, but I`m talking about the judge and the prosecutor because the defense attorney gets a free pass, I`m telling. It`s like a snake that bite. And now you`re surprised, you`ve got a wound.
SHERMAN: We are not privy - we are not privilege to what that information was available to the prosecutor and the judge. No judge is going to let someone loose Willie Nilly or some shame deputy fashion.
GRACE: Because he did it again, he did it before.
Michael Lopardi, joining me there in front of the church, WBOC, what do you know about this judge and the same prosecutor letting another offender off and then they go and kill somebody, Wendy Whitman was just telling us about that, are you familiar with that, Lopardi?
LOPARDI: Nancy, Judge Graves has been a superior of court judge here in southeast county for quite a while. There is - what we are talking about is some connections to the latest case. So, the murder in that case happened in Maryland. So, somewhat connected be in his prior history, at least a suspects prior history. He`s not necessarily connected to Judge Graves and the murder case there.
GRACE: Well, let`s find out. What were the facts of that, Wendy Whitman? And I want the lawyers to hear this. Talking about you, Odom, and you, Sherman, go ahead.
WENDY WHITMAN, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: OK. Well, Thomas Leggs (ph) got probation and time served. Again, it was rape case. It was -- he ended up with fourth-degree rape, but eight years later he came up to murdered Foxwell. And, you know, then they spared of the death penalty with another plea deal, so I think the way it went down speaks for itself.
GRACE: OK, Peter Odom, response?
PETER ODOM, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I have to agree with my colleague, Mickey Sherman --
GRACE: Why? Why do you have to agree?
PETER ODOM: Because he`s right, every plea bargain is a process, Nancy, of balance. The prosecutors involved in that, the judges involved in that, the defense attorney is involved in that. And normally, the victims are involved in that. We don`t know all the underlying facts, but we know that this was the result of a negotiation, it was the right thing at the time.
GRACE: Well, I have news for you, Peter Odom, just because they`re all doing it, just because the judge, the defense attorney, the prosecutor are all doing it, doesn`t mean it`s right, as far as I`m concerned, and judge, I`m talking about you and you prosecutor, you can all stew in the same pot. Right now we are still taking your calls. But I got to go to CNN heroes.
THULANI MADONDO, COMMUNITY CRUSADER: Since -- the town has not changed. There`s no electricity, people are living in shacks. Growing up in Clipton (ph) makes you feel that you don`t have control of your life. Many children drop out of school because they don`t have the student uniforms and textbooks. I realized that the only way that can change is through education.
I`m Thulani Madondo I`m helping educating the children so that we can help them together. We help the children by paying for the schoolbooks, school uniforms, our main focus is our tutoring program that runs four days a week.
As young people who were born and raised here, we know the challenges of this community. We also do a number of activities. We have got to come together for fun while we lost come together for academics.
MADONDO: This program gives me a chance to go to school and they pay for my fees. I also come back and help volunteer. A little can go a long way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My favorite is Math and Science and English. I did not go to university, but I want to help them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am going to be an accountant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m going to be a lawyer.
MADONDO: The work that you`re doing here is bringing change.
GRACE: We are taking your calls. Straight out to Carl in Florida. Hi, Carl, what`s your question?
CARL, CALLER, FLORIDA: I just want to let you know, Nancy, thank you for shining a light on these crimes so we can keep our loved ones safe. And I try to tell as many people to watch your show as I can.
GRACE: Thank you. Thank you so much.
CARL: You`re welcome. Can legal action be taken by the Bennett family against the church for hiring this guy?
GRACE: Excellent question. Unleash the lawyers, Eleanor Odom, Peter Odom, Mickey Sherman? All right, Mick?
SHERMAN: I doubt it. There is got to be some measure of foresee ability here. And all we know is that the guy have a very minor conviction, even though the underlying offenses were very serious, he was nonetheless only convicted of something minor. And I don`t think the church will be held accountable.
PETER ODOM: Yes, negligent hiring is a cause of action that is somehow brought very, very difficult to show. It is going to depend not only on what the church officials knew but also what they failed to find out and could have found out.
ELEANOR ODOM, DEATH PENALTY-QUALIFIED PROSECUTOR: Wait a minute, his mom was employed by the church, therefore, the church has knowledge, Nancy. I think this would be a great civil case.
GRACE: All right, Peter and Mickey, you can put that in your pipes and smoke it.
Out to you, Dr. William Morrone, medical examiner, forensic pathologist, joining me tonight out of Madison heights. Dr. Morrone, so great to have you with us again.
DOCTOR WILLIAM MORRONE, MEDICAL EXAMINER, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Thank you.
GRACE: Doctor Morrone, how can they determine this was just a spot she was disposed and how do they know she was asphyxiated?
MORRONE: Asphyxia is either chest compression or blocking an airway. And there are certain signs of congestion, congestion in the lungs there`s congestion in the heart and sometimes there`s patchier and bruising in the eyes that prove suffocation and asphyxiation came out of the autopsy as cause of death. And there`s not just a struggle or transfer of evidence at that site, so the primary crime scene is still being sought for. They are looking for a primary scene on this.
GRACE: We are taking your calls.
This beautiful young mother of three, called the church mom, working late that evening at the church she loved. She worked in youth ministries. She never makes it home.
The husband described as being in a fog, his wife murdered. He`s at home putting the children to bed, waiting for her to stop at the grocery and be home. How many hundreds of times have I done that or have you done that? Never thinking you will never get back to your children, you will never see them again in this world.
Detective Lieutenant Steven Rogers, former member FBI.
Steven, it`s a scenario we`ve seen so many times. I can`t crawl into the mind of the alleged killer, Matthew Burton, but I do understand the justice system and what I don`t understand is why he was walking free with two counts of child rape and 20 other felony counts leveled against him. He got off scot free, straight probation under the auspice of judge T. Henley Graves in Delaware.
STEVEN ROGER, DETECTIVE LIEUTENANT, FORMER FBI MEMBER: Nancy, this is happening far too often across this country. And you know, you mentioned what does the dad say to the children? I would like to know what the judge is going to say to those children? He is an embarrassment to the bench and we, as police officers, face they were single day. We lock these individuals up and the judges just let them free.
GRACE: Let`s stop and remember army specialist Alexandra Miller, 21, Clermont, Florida, killed Afghanistan. Bronze star, purple heart, NATO service award, buried Arlington. Loved theme parks, movies, friends, family.
Leaves behind mother, Sue, stepfather, Rob, brothers Rich, John and Jason. Alexander Miller, American hero.
Thanks to our guests but especially to you. And tonight, a special good night from the New York control room. Good night, Brett, Liz, tell Rosy to turn around, yes, you better turn around little girl. Dana and somewhere in that control room, our fearless leader, Dean Sikoli.
Jane Velez-Mitchell up next.
Everyone. I will see you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp eastern. And until then, good night,