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Crime and Justice With Ashleigh Banfield
Hot Car Death Tot`s Mom Testifies; Sex Assault Claim Prompts Dozens of Women to Step Forward; Bill Cosby Claims Memory Loss. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 31, 2016 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:00] ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, HLN HOST: A tearful day as the mother of a little boy who died in a hot car finally takes the stand in the father`s
murder trial. A dad leaves his 2-year-old boy in the back seat of the car as the summer temperatures soar. He`s now on trial for that child`s
painful death. Will the verdict hinge on what that toddler`s mom said on the stand today?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEANNA TAYLOR, EX-WIFE: (INAUDIBLE) I was supposed to be the one to pick him up. It didn`t make sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Dozens of co-eds emerge from the shadows after a fraternity brother is accused of violent sexual assault. Well, now police have his
sinister journal that names names and details sex and even mentions the word "kill."
And 79-year-old Bill Cosby says he can`t defend himself in his sex assault case because he`s legally blind. Is that a real excuse?
Hello, everyone. I`m Ashleigh Banfield. And welcome to PRIMETIME JUSTICE. Good to have you here with us tonight.
Was it an accident, or was it murder? In the case of 22-month-old Cooper Harris, the trial of his dad, Justin Ross Harris, reveals for the first
time this heartbreaking home video of Cooper`s very short but precious and tragic life. Certainly, these were happier times because this was before
the family was ripped apart on that June day when little Cooper died in the back seat of a hot car. While the temperature inside the SUV soared way
past 100 degrees, Cooper`s father was sexting at work with multiple women.
Today, it was his ex-wife, who has been through absolute hell and is still dealing with the grief of a lost child, who took the stand, Leanna Taylor
emotionally recalling what it was like for her the day her baby suffered a sweltering death in that car. It was a day Cooper`s dad was supposed to
drop his son at the day care.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEANNA TAYLOR, JUSTIN ROSS HARRIS`S EX-WIFE: (INAUDIBLE) It was the only thing that made sense. It was the only thing that clicked in my mind as
even a remote possibility. He just never checked in. If he never checked in, he must have forgot!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: If Justin Ross Harris truly forgot about little Cooper while he was distracted by sexting, is that negligence so gross that it actually
adds up to a felony murder? Or was it something even more evil? Was something else at play?
Natisha Lance is a senior producer for HLN and she`s been in that courtroom every day of Justin Ross Harris`s trial. She was in there today for that
testimony, as well. Natisha, thanks so much for being on with us.
The feel, the mood from the courtroom -- I wasn`t sure what to expect from Leanna. I wasn`t sure she was going to throw her husband under the bus.
Is that what happened or not?
NATISHA LANCE, HLN SENIOR PRODUCER: No, Ashleigh, it`s not what happened. She was actually a witness for the defense. And she was emotional at
times, and the jury was emotional along with her at times.
She started out right out of the gate talking about Cooper and the type of child that he was. She said that he was even-keeled, that he loved
bananas, that he loved cars. And she became emotional when talking about this.
The defense also went into what the relationship was like between she and Justin Ross Harris, if they had issues in their relationship. And she
revealed that they did. They had some problems, that they had some intimacy issues. And she also talked about knowing that Justin Ross Harris
was suffering with a pornography issue.
When the prosecution got up there and started questioning her, they were able to get her to admit that she wasn`t aware about Justin Ross Harris`s
double life, as they called it, that he was leading. And there were things about him, even though they had been married for eight years, that she
didn`t know. She didn`t know that Justin was taking Cooper to Chick-fil-A that morning. She didn`t know about him going to the movies later on or
what time they were going to the movies or the process of how they were going to get to the movies.
There were things about his lifestyle that she was unaware of, deep and dark things, according to the prosecution.
BANFIELD: So I`m going to get to some of the things she really was aware of, which was very surprising in that courtroom today. But I cannot ignore
what`s on the screen right now. These are videos that I think most of us have never seen before of this little baby. We`ve seen this still
photograph of Cooper Harris over and over again since this horrible incident, you know, took place. But this is what played in court today.
[20:05:06]These are like -- this is like reliving the memory of your baby. And those two parents were in there watching this. What was -- what were
they -- what was the reaction? What were both of them doing when these videos were flashing on the screen?
LANCE: Justin Ross Harris kept his head down most of the time. He didn`t make eye contact with Leanna as she was on the stand. Jurors watching
these videos -- they`re very cute videos, and the jurors were smiling. They were laughing at times when Cooper was trying to say "banana." And
you can hear Ross Harris in the background of that video saying "ba" and "anana." And then you hear Leanna saying that he would refer to bananas as
"nanas" and "nannies," and he was never able to put the two syllables together before he died.
BANFIELD: Was mom in the courtroom at that moment? I just saw pictures of Justin Ross Harris wiping his eyes, and I don`t know how any parent can
look at these pictures of Cooper playing in the sand and saying banana -- I just -- I can`t imagine this. Was Leanna watching this, as well?
LANCE: She was. And there were certain times when she was emotional. There were certain times when Justin Ross Harris seemed to be emotional.
But he was also during these videos, Ashleigh -- he was beaming with pride, it seemed like He was smiling. He had his hand on his head at one point.
He looked over at his attorneys and smiled like he was gesturing to them, like, This is my son. And he seemed really proud. Leanna also, at certain
moments grinning, looking at these videos of Cooper, as well.
BANFIELD: You know what? I`m going to ask our producers to do something. I`m not sure if you can do this, guys, but that video is just -- I mean,
this is literally the star of the trial. Can we play some of that and hear Cooper? I could hear him in the background, but I want to hear his voice
because I`m guessing that the courtroom was listening to this up loud. So let`s listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Oh, look at that. And there he is with Mommy on his -- I think any parent has been in every one of these scenarios. We can all put
ourselves in that picture. We can all feel what those parents are feeling when they`re doing this, the utter joy. Yes, absolute magic!
And then to imagine what that little boy went through as he died in the back of that car.
I want to bring in Chris Wilkinson. Chris is a friend of Justin Ross Harris. I don`t know if we can say former friend, current friend. But
Chris, I know you have some very strong feelings about what you`re seeing play out in this trial with Justin Ross Harris, and with Leanna and what
she said on the stand. Can you weigh in on this?
CHRIS WILKINSON, FORMER FRIEND OF JUSTIN ROSS HARRIS (via telephone): Well, I think "former" is an accurate depiction. I just -- I heard today -
- and you know, no doubt that some of these things made Leanna upset. However, what upsets me is that she is still seeming to rally behind him.
You know, her child died while he was busy sending pictures of -- of things he -- you know, sexual pictures of this illicit nature. And while he was
trying to get sexual liaisons ongoing, he was not caring for or protecting their child as he should have.
And whether it was intentional -- you know, the defense has already said, Well, yes, he did it, yes, he`s responsible, but they`re trying to make us
all think that this was accidental. And at this point, I`ve seen enough to know that I just don`t believe that anymore.
BANFIELD: So Chris, I -- you know, think a lot of people felt the same way you do, even without knowing this couple. But when Leanna was on the stand
earlier today, she gave a reason as to why Justin Ross Harris might have done what he did. It wasn`t the reason I expected her to say, but this is
what she said about his absent-mindedness, straight from her mouth, a woman who divorced that man, could have thrown him under the bus, and instead
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: I would say he`s easily distracted. I guess a good example would be, you know, maybe getting a paycheck and forgetting to cash it, just you
know, those kind of things.
[20:10:08]UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you characterize him as absent-minded?
HARRIS: Somewhat, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: Chris, is that not a fair reason from a former wife, an ex-wife now who is looking across the courtroom at the father of her now deceased
child and saying, He didn`t mean it, he`s absent-minded, many of us are.
HARRIS: Absent-minded means you leave your curling iron on or your coffee pot on. Absent-minded means you forget your briefcase at home, not that
you left your child in the back seat.
And the very fact that when -- you know, she testified that the first thought in her head when he wasn`t checked in, when she found out when
Cooper wasn`t checked in, was that Ross must have forgot him.
The very first thought as a parent in my mind, if you tell me my child is not there -- and this actually happened to me a couple of weeks ago. Our
daughter is special needs. I walked into the school office, and she wasn`t there. She had gone to the bathroom. She hadn`t told anybody. And my
first response wasn`t, Oh, you know, somebody must have forgot. It was, Where is my child? Where is my child? Where is my child?
And so the fact that that was the first thing her mind went to -- I`m sorry, absent-minded -- it just doesn`t apply to your child. And I just --
you know, I know as a parent, you get distracted and things happen, and things can even happen during the course of the day that didn`t start out
busy, but it ended up hectic. But...
BANFIELD: Well, I`ll tell you something. We are going to learn in a few moments something else that Leanna told us all from the stand about what
she knew about her husband`s predilections. I don`t know that anybody knew beforehand how much she knew about what her husband did with his spare time
when he was on his telephone texting, but she knew. She knew a lot more than a lot of us knew. We`re going to talk about that in a moment as we
look at these just heartbreaking photographs of that beautiful, beautiful child.
I`ve got some other stories that I want to update you on, as well (INAUDIBLE) tracking justice on PRIMETIME JUSTICE tonight. I want to take
you to Oklahoma because that nationwide manhunt for the dangerous fugitive has ended, and it ended in a deadly shootout with the police.
Investigators say this man, Michael Vance -- you`ve come to know him on this program. We`ve covered him every day as he was on the run. And now
he`s a dead man, literally, died Sunday night, killed just hours after shooting a sheriff who pulled him over, injuring that sheriff.
But it was another sheriff`s deputy who caught up with him anyway and then shot him dead. Vance`s week-long murderous crime spree came to an end
about 150 miles west of where he shot several people, including two officers, and murdered two family members, all the while bragging about
these crimes, like this, on Facebook Live.
Sheriff`s deputies say this guy, Danny Roach (ph), has admitted to helping Vance by giving him an assault rifle, ammunition, and also by being a
lookout. And Danny Roach is being held without bond tonight.
Over to South Carolina now, where attorneys began narrowing a pool of nearly 200 jurors in the trial of this man, a former police officer charged
with shooting an unarmed black man. The whole incident was captured on the cell phone of an eyewitness. Michael Slager faces up to 30 years in prison
if convicted of killing Walter Scott.
And in Georgia, we saw inside the home of little Cooper Harris, heartbreaking home video, a family in happier times just months before that
child met his death so painfully. Did his mother`s testimony actually help or hurt the defense case?
[20:17:56]BANFIELD: The ex-wife of Justin Ross Harris, the man on trial in the hot car death of his toddler son, Cooper -- she took the stand today.
Her name is Leanna Taylor. She was crying as she testified for the defense in the felony murder trial of her ex-husband. She told jurors her ex-
husband would not have left Cooper in that 100 degree-plus car on purpose. She certainly looked upset.
Loni Coombs is a former Los Angeles County prosecutor, and Trent Copeland is a defense attorney. Thanks to both of you for joining me.
Guys, I want you to listen to this moment where she was asked about what she knew about her husband, her now ex-husband`s sexual predilections at
the time all of this is going on because most of us thought this would be something he was trying to hide from her. Turns out that`s not the case.
Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAYLOR: The first thing that kind of came up was in 2008. I came home from work one day, and he told me that he had a problem with pornography.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BANFIELD: And that wasn`t it, guys. Not only did he have a problem with pornography that he told her about, they sought counseling. They talked to
their church about it. She offered him a divorce and he said no. It wasn`t like this was a secret problem.
Loni Coombs, does that do anything for the defense or does it help the prosecution?
LONI COOMBS, FMR. LA COUNTY PROSECUTOR: I think this is a huge key piece of evidence for the defense. Look, the prosecution spent a lot of time
saying that this was sort of a secret life of his, that he had this fantasy life going on, that he wanted to kill his son so that he would be free to
go live this way and have all of these sexual fantasies.
Well, now we hear from his wife that she knew all about it, that they had been working on this problem together as a team for years, that they had
people from their church involved in helping to counsel them and work with them on it. This wasn`t a surprise or a secret. In fact, she had told him
at one point, Look, if you want to just get divorced, let`s get a divorce. And he said, No, that`s the last thing I want. I want to have this family
with you and Cooper.
[20:20:00]So it sort of takes away this big theory that the prosecutor has thrown out there that this is his motive for wanting to kill his son.
BANFIELD: I`m hearing prosecutor types say that this was something that was prefect for the prosecution. What do you make of that, Trent
TRENT COPELAND, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Look, I agree with Loni. I think she`s right. I mean, look -- and remember, Loni is a former prosecutor. She`s
going to see this case one way. I`m going to see it another, but she agrees with me now.
The truth is, look, this seemed like a slam dunk at first, Ashleigh. Look, guy leaves his 22-month-old beautiful boy in the back seat of a car. He`s
busy sexting at work to underage girls.
Look, this looked like a slam dunk until we saw the evidence come in. And look, the key piece of evidence is that video. And I think you said it
earlier, Ashleigh, when you said, We look at this toddler, we look at this beautiful little boy in those videos, and he is the star of this trial.
But you know who else is the star of this trial? The star is also that dad in that video because he`s being shown to that jury -- he`s being shown as
a caring father. He`s being shown to them as a dad who really loved that beautiful boy. He watched him grow up, and he did everything in his power
to be a good dad. That`s what that jury`s seeing. And by the way...
BANFIELD: Look at that video.
COPELAND: ... when they hear from -- when they -- yes, when they -- and when you see this and when you see him being a caring, wonderful, what
appears to be a wonderful dad, and then you hear the wife, who`s the person who`s in the best position to know whether or not he is a good dad -- and
she`s got every opportunity to lay him out and to crucify him...
BANFIELD: You know, I think there`s a lot of us out there...
BANFIELD: I was an exhausted mother. I feared doing this. I feared forgetting my child in the back seat. And I just noticed that the app
Waves (ph), that traffic app that everybody uses -- there`s this thing that flashes on at the end now, saying, Don`t forget your baby in the back,
which makes me think this happens a lot more than we think.
Natisha Lance, aren`t they bringing somebody in to this case to say exactly that, that this is not something that`s bizarre, this is something that
happens more than people know?
LANCE: Yes, that`s right, Ashleigh. They are bringing in an expert who specializes in hot car death syndrome, and he is expected to talk about
this phenomenon of parents leaving their kids in the back of cars and the cars being hot.
BANFIELD: Well, I think there are a lot of parents out there that will feel a tug of war, that there but for the grace of God go the rest of us
who haven`t done it. And how could it have happened? It`s tragic, no matter what. We`re continuing to watch this case, too.
Also watching sexual assault on campuses. Some call it a silent epidemic. One campus in the heartland is dealing with what might be a case of a
[20:26:42]BANFIELD: Students at the University of Wisconsin are grappling with -- I guess you could call this a shock to their system tonight,
because one of their own, a 20-year-old undergrad frat member named Alex Cook -- that`s him -- is behind bars.
And he`s been arrested because a woman told the police that he forced himself on her. And then something very strange began to happen. One by
one by one by one, by the dozen, several dozen more alleged victims have come forward with almost identical accusations against Cook.
The police took it very seriously. They searched his off-campus apartment, and there they found something very weird, a disturbing black leather
journal. Inside, it reportedly lists the names of female co-eds that he`s interested in, ways to get to them, lots of other very strange little
nuggets about the women. I`m going to get to that in a moment. One of the women accusing him of rape says that Cook assaulted her when they were
dating, that he put something in her drink.
So far -- as we look at these pictures -- he`s not put in a plea for these very serious accusations, anyway, but the university has taken action.
They`ve placed him under emergency suspension. His fraternity has said, Thanks but no thanks. They`ve severed ties with him.
Dan O`Donnell is an anchor-reporter for Newstalk 1130 WISN radio. He`s following this story. Dan, this story -- it just -- it makes your skin
crawl when you read the court documents, the accusations and the details within them because the modus operandi from one victim to the next, in just
the five that have been charged, are almost identical.
Walk me through what this story is really all about.
DAN O`DONNELL, WISN: Well, what this does appear to be is an alleged serial sexual assaulter, a serial date rapist who does, as you said,
Ashleigh, have a very similar MO in each one of these counts outlined in the criminal complaint.
What happened was, a woman who met with Mr. Cook in a casual setting -- they went out to dinner at a fast food place and then they went back to his
apartment -- she made some very disturbing allegations that he forced himself on her for a period of about two-and-a-half hours.
Now, once he was arrested and charged with that crime, women all over the campus, and literally for the last two weeks, have been coming out and
saying, Whoops, something very similar happened to me. As soon as I saw his picture on the news, I knew it was him. As soon as I heard his name, I
knew it was him.
And all of these women, Ashleigh, are coming forward with very similar stories, that he would text them, he would Facebook message them, he would
beg them for dates, and then allegedly get very sexually aggressive once he got...
BANFIELD: So before you go into that -- before you go into that, Dan, what`s interesting about this is that there were actual dates going on
beforehand. They would study in the library. They would meet after work. They would walk on campus, talk on Facebook. So it seemed as though there
was a consensual relationship budding until they got to his apartment.
And many of them, except for one, I believe, who said he groped her repeatedly at a ballroom dancing course (ph) -- she`s the outlier. But the
other four have said everything was exactly the same.
[20:30:07] They got to the apartment. They started -- let me read actually from one of the -- one of the alleged victims.
This is the first one who came forward. She said, Cook began to kiss her more intensely. She described it as "forceful making out and eating my
face." She went on to say, Cook had intercourse with her for approximately 2-1/2 hours.
He would quote, yank me everywhere he wanted, and then he was, quote, very forceful and sudden. He yanked her into every imaginable position,
including with her on top of him, him on top of her, with her on her hands and knees.
The other complainants also said that they were slapped and hit and then maybe most severely, they were choked. One of them saying she was choked to
the point where she blame blurry.
Dan, the list of counts against him are astounding, because if you total up what he could be facing, it`s 334 years behind bars. You can just read them
off yourself here. It goes from second degree sexual assault, to third degree, fourth degree, strangulation, suffocation, false imprisonment. They
are all extraordinarily serious. In the journal, Dan, they found odd entries. I want to ask you about this.
Let`s put up a list of some of the things he written about these women. Where we met, color of eyes, job in nature. Interesting facts and
commonalities. What makes her special? present goal. Hasn`t come to an end. And then what`s upsetting to many people is, killed. And then there`s
a check box that`s empty. Does anybody know what that means, Dan? The killed. Because I know his attorney is very upset with this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is something that I think a lot of people can speculate about. And obviously, as anyone looking at this, our worst fears
would obviously be that this was some sort of wish list. But Mr. Cook obviously isn`t talking and isn`t saying what specifically he meant by
So really anything that we say would only be speculation. But given his sexual violence, the mind can`t help but wonder and be fearful about what
his intentions might have been. But the reality is we just don`t know at this point.
BANFIELD: So I guess I have this question. We got five different victims with a list of all of these charges. I believe if I did the math, it`s
somewhere around 15 charges at this point. But then there`s this reporting from the authorities that there are dozens of women, dozens. That`s
astounding to know that there are dozens of women. What are we looking at?
I mean, are we talking about charges coming down the pike in another week, month? Any more charges that the authorities talking anymore, given the
level that this story has reached nationally?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they are saying that they are investigating every possible lead with respect to this case. They will potentially be amending
a criminal complaint against Cook. They are attempting to, as you`ve seen in the criminal complaint as it was released already, consolidate all of
these charges into one case against him.
But we are, as the days go by, seeing more and more women coming forward. As I said, really over the last 2, 2-1/2 weeks, as this story gains
traction nationally, I think more women are maybe feeling a little bit empowered to come forward. Maybe their memories are jogged that this was in
fact the man from a year or two ago.
BANFIELD: It`s frightening. Dan, thank you for your reporting on this. There`s some evidence that`s pretty fascinating as well on this. What some
of the women texted after these very frightening events, that they call very frightening events, sort of cast a lot of questions and confusion.
We`re going to talk about that in a moment. Because there`s a university campus right now coming to terms with what the police believe is a serial
assault. And they are pointing to one young man.
[20:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BANFIELD: A recent survey finds almost a quarter of women on campus say they experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact, from kissing to
outright rape. The latest accusations are chilling. They`re coming from the University of Wisconsin. Several women there accusing this man, 20-year-old
student Alec Cook, of what is looking to authorities a lot like a serial sexual assault with a long list of charges.
Laura Dunn is an attorney and she is also the executive director of survjustic.org. She herself was sexually assaulted at that college, the
University of Wisconsin in Madison, 12 years ago. It`s the same campus where this alleged serial rapist maybe actually prosecuting his crimes.
Laura, here we are, 12 years later, and you and I are talking about this. You were the first person I thought of. Because when I saw some of the
evidence in this case so far, I think a lot of people are going to be curious and confused. And I think you can sort this out.
One of the Facebook exchanges between the alleged victim and this alleged rapist happened right after this alleged attack. I want to read it for you
and get some insight if I can. The alleged victim says, I don`t think we should hang anymore. My body hurts a lot today and I don`t really want an
"F" buddy. Cook responds, I`m chill with not chilling tonight. I do want a second date. The alleged victim says, I don`t. This is just moving too fast
and I feel pressured. Cook responds, okay.
For many out there who maybe don`t understand rape, the culture of rape, what it`s like to be raped, they would ask why on earth would she be so
gentle in this texting. Why wouldn`t she say every expletive in the book, I`m going to the police, you nearly choked me into unconsciousness, how
dare you. Why wouldn`t that be the text?
[20:40:00] LAURA DUNN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR SURVJUSTICE.ORG: A lot of people when they think about rape think about a stereotype of a stranger
attacking some violently in the bushes. That scenario makes more sense to run to the police, to seek protection immediately, to try to identify the
person. But the reality of the majority of sexual violence in our country, especially on campuses, it`s acquaintance rape.
Someone that you knew, someone that you thought you could trust. You were talking about the modus operandi. And he knew them. He set up interactions
and he developed this relationship. And so after a sexual violence happens and you thought you knew someone, it`s hard to fully process everything
This message is obviously very close in proximity after the attack itself. She may still be trying to work it out and trying to get some space. Going
after him may risk retaliation. He`s a violent individual. We know from his notebook. He threatened possibly to kill people.
BANFIELD: We don`t know. We got to say really carefully these are allegations and that "kill" mention was just the word "kill" with an
unchecked box beside it. No one really knows what that is or what it means. Look, I say I kill stories all the time with a running overtime in the
show, and I certainly don`t mean it in the literal context. But let me ask you about this other text that one of the alleged victims sent to her
brother. It was very, very specific.
She said -- I don`t understand. I`m going to paraphrase it for a minute. I did everything to stop this guy. I was repeatedly yanked backward when I
tried to walk away. I don`t feel like I was assaulted, I don`t think, but I feel very weird. And honestly, Laura, that`s the kind of text that a
defense attorney for this man is going to seize and show to a jury, I don`t feel like I was assaulted. If the woman was saying, I was choked to the
point where my vision went blurry, how could she write, I don`t feel like I was assaulted, I don`t think?
DUNN: Again, it`s someone she knew and someone she thought she could trust. There are a lot of times in those situations, survivors look at themselves
and say, did I do something? Did I give the wrong message? Was there anything I did that led to this behavior? That`s very common, because we
don`t educate young men or women about the reality of sexual violence. That`s probably gonna be someone you know or trust. It may not all out
physically force you, but they may use other course of methods.
In this case, obviously, there was physical violence involved. But, you know, it`s very hard to say I was raped. No one wants to be a rape victim.
No one wants that reality to be true. And it`s very clear that the survivor process this. And so I think the prosecutor just needs an expert about
victim`s behavior to go on the stand and explain that to a jury, because it`s very common, it`s the norm.
BANFIELD: Especially when these people are 20 who might be new to sex and not really know what it`s supposed to be, and think if that`s what it is
supposed to be, it`s very unpleasant. So a lot of questions circling in their heads, that`s for sure. Laura, we`re going to continue to cover the
story. I hope you will be back because I think the insight is important. People need to understand why things happen the way they do when they don`t
seem like they should. Will you come back again?
DUNN: Yes, absolutely.
BANFIELD: I really appreciate that. Thanks, Laura. There`s this other thing that we`re dealing with today. So it`s a bit of a question. Can justice be
blind when the defendant is legally blind? This isn`t a joke and it`s not a riddle. It`s Bill Cosby and his lawyers and what they actually said in
[20:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BANFIELD: Bill Cosby says he has memory loss, and that he`s legally blind. If he can`t see his accuser, is that any reason he shouldn`t have to stand
trial for alleged sexual assault? His defense is certainly making that argument in a brand new motion filed with the court.
Here is what it says, quote, how can a 79-year-old blind man defend himself against the claim that he sexually assaulted someone he supposedly met once
half a century ago? The answer is simple, he cannot, end quote. But it does go on, and it says this. And without his eyesight, Mr. Cosby cannot even
determine whether he has ever even seen some of his accusers. Well, that`s interesting.
CNN correspondent Jean Casarez thought so, too. She`s here to break this down. She is covering the case. Jean Casarez, I just checked the sixth
amendment to make sure that I wasn`t wrong. And here is what it says, it says in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to be
confronted with the witnesses against him, but it says nothing about seeing them literally. Are they suggesting this is a constitutional issue or they
are just saying it is not fair because he can`t see them?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They`re saying it is constitutional, violates his due process rights, because the prosecution wants to bring in
a lot of accusers, actually 13 who they say Bill Cosby had sexually assaulted through the years, 1960s, 1970s, up through the mid 1990s. And
Bill Cosby is saying and asserting in this motion that he`s been certified legally blind by the commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Therefore, he can`t see. So he truly can`t visually look at to even remember if he ever met this particular woman. And of course, a judge
hasn`t ruled yet that these accusers are going to come into the trial. But they`re doing a preemptive strike here to say that it violates due process
for any of them to come in.
BANFIELD: I see the logic, but I`m not sure I`m buying it. Because there have been plenty of people in court with disabilities and some of them have
been blind. Again, I read the the constitutional amendment. And it doesn`t say you actually literally have to see the.
You just have the right to be confronted by them. I`m going to move on from that one and go to the memory loss. When he says he has memory loss, is
this about competency? Is he actually trying to say he`s not competent to stand trial because of his memory?
[20:50:00] CASAREZ: No, it doesn`t look like they`re dealing with a competency issue of Bill Cosby. They`re saying that because the prosecution
waited so many years to bring this case, remember, they were still within the statute of limitations, Ashleigh, but they`re saying that because they
waited until the final end of when they were able to bring it, and they want to bring in these women for what they say is a half a century ago, 50
years, that he can`t remember all this. And just the memory through time erodes. And once again, it violates his due process.
BANFIELD: Okay. I`m looking at the number of women who have all had a similar story about Bill Cosby. Katherine McKee is one of them. She`s
accused Bill Cosby of some of these same crimes. She says that Cosby raped her in the early 1970s. She`s kind enough to join me.
First, before I ask, you know, what your reaction Katherine is to this latest motion, that Bill Cosby can`t see, therefore, he should not have to
I guess be tried, and that he has memory loss. I want to ask what happened to you? What are you alleging happened to you at the hands of Bill Cosby?
KATHERINE MCKEE, BILL COSBY ACCUSER: Hi, Ashleigh. Well, you know, it was 1974. I was traveling with Sammy Davis, Jr. in his nightclub act. And I
considered Bill Cosby to be a very good friend. I had known him for several years. I had done a bit on one of his early T.V. shows. So when he asked me
if I wanted to go to a party and hang out, I didn`t see any problem with that. I had no fear of him, and I trusted him.
So he asked me to pick something up, swing by his hotel, pick him up, and we would go to this boat party. And I did that, and upon entering his room,
I was attacked and raped by Bill, and left really shocked by it. And I just decided after the incident happened, I felt that I had done something
terribly wrong and that I had, you know, led him on to believe that he could do this to me.
And I decided that I was going to keep my mouth shut about it, because I was building a career in Hollywood. I was working hard to have a career.
And I wanted to work in the business, and I knew that he could crush me and destroy me.
BANFIELD: Katherine, your story is not unlike a lot of people -- a lot of people were worried about being blacklisted by coming out against
America`s, you know, favorite dad. A lot of people said they held on to their stories because of it. I`m going to ask you in a moment about Bill
Cosby now saying he`s also worried about his accuser`s memories. And he wants them to take a memory test if they`re going to testify in court about
him. I`ll ask you about that in a moment. But in the meantime, the rise and fall of America`s dad. Anything but a T.V. ending, because the story is
still being written, right now.
[20:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BANFIELD: Bill Cosby wants his accusers to take a memory test. Katherine McKee is one of them. Katherine, what is your reaction to that? He says his
memory is failing, so you and those like you should take a memory test, too.
MCKEE: That`s fine. Ashleight, if that`s what he wants, then I`ll be happy to take a memory test. I remember what happened that evening like it was
BANFIELD: Loni Coombs is a former Los Angeles County prosecutor, Trent Copeland is a defense attorney. Guys, the prosecutors in this case want to
whittle down the 50 or some odd accusers down to 13 with a similar pattern, but of course the defense does not want any of them and they`re going to
try to knock all 13 of them. I guess the question is, Loni, how do you even get to 13 from the 50?
LONI COOMBS, FORMER LOS ANGELES COUNTY PROSECUTOR: I think that they`ll go through and take the strongest witnesses they have, the ones that probably
have the best memory, that have a very similar pattern so that they can line them all up and say look, each of these details is the same in every
one of these stories.
They`ll put on witnesses that are able testify clearly so that the jury will look at it and say, this is very strong evidence. And not waste their
time with the ones that might be extraneous. Strong streamline case for the prosecution.
BANFIELD: So Trent, how do you knock them out one by one? If they really don`t do have a pattern and God, if you read their stories, they`re
identical. How do you knock them out?
TRENT COPELAND, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it`s going to be really hard, right? There is no question about that. But remember, this case had gone --
you know, extends for decades, right? This all started allegedly back in the 1950, 1960s on somebody`s instances. So I think Bill Cosby is simply
going to say, listen, the modus operandi could not have been the same.
Look, the kind of drugs that these women in the 1990s or 2000 are alleging that I gave them didn`t exist in the 1960s or 1970s. I think he`s gonna
say, look, there is a lot here that -- you know, people can sort of glam into, but the reality is, this is really about optics. I think a lot of
what is going on right now, Ashleigh, in the courtroom for Bill Cosby, is really all about optics, no pun intended.
BANFIELD: You`re not kidding, with the cane and bumping into everything, saying I can`t see.
COPELAND: There is common narrative, right? A common narrative is that these are too old. These cases are too long ago.
BANFIELD: Good to wrap it there. Trent Copeland, good to have you. Loni Coombs, thank you. Thank you, everyone, for being here tonight. We`ll be
back at 8:00 tomorrow. Happy Halloween. Stay tuned now. "FORENSIC FILES" is next.