updated 12/12/2005 1:25:40 PM ET 2005-12-12T18:25:40

Guest: Beth Holloway Twitty, Anita Gattis, Tim Miller, Steve Cohen, Andrew Cohen, Daniel Horowitz, Owen LaFave, Wendy Murphy, Jayne Weintraub, Michael Linder, Elise Loehnen, Jimmy Jellinek>

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, GUEST HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  I‘m Jane Velez-Mitchell filling in for Rita Cosby who is on assignment.  Tonight, the police officers in this video are in a lot of trouble.  It‘s crude and tasteless, but is it hateful?  The man who made it explains why he did it.

And shocking video, teenagers duking it out in a Houston school.  Wait until you find out who they are fighting with.

But first, Beth Holloway Twitty, whose daughter vanished from Aruba, is working to help find another missing woman.  Natalee Holloway has been be missing, of course, for more than six months.  Tara Grinstead vanished October 22.  Her family is now looking for all the help they can get.  They‘re in the small town of Ocilla, Georgia to try to look for clues trying to find out what happened to their beloved Tara. 

Live and direct tonight, Natalee‘s mom, Beth Holloway Twitty and Anita Gattis, Tara‘s Grinstead‘s sister, and Tim Miller with Texas Equusearch, a group, that of course, played a very key role in the search for Natalee in Aruba. 

Beth, thank you for joining us.  Your very own daughter is missing and yet somehow you have the strength and the will to travel to Georgia to hunt for another missing woman.  Why? 

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S MOTHER:  Well, you know, it‘s something I‘ve said all along is I want to give back the support we have received.  And I know it‘s still too early in Natalee‘s investigation for me to really be that helpful as far as—or instrumental as far as something involved in an already incurring investigation.  But I feel that we‘re in a holding pattern with Natalee with as far as what we can do.  And I just don‘t like any idle time.  And I though that if there‘s something that I can come and either learn from this investigation or share with, I mean, I want to do that.  Because eventually, this is something I hope comes out of this on what has happened to Natalee. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And Beth, there has been some criticism that all the attention on Natalee‘s disappearance has, in fact, robbed attention on other missing persons‘ cases.  But this is the exact opposite, isn‘t it?  You‘re actually bringing attention to this case? 

TWITTY:  Well, from what I‘m hearing from close family friends and supporters are that they‘re saying that since Natalee‘s disappearance, it has caused missing person awareness just in general and how they‘re receiving attention.  And so that‘s something else I think is positive that‘s come out of this. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  You know, I think you‘re absolutely right.  People are talking about missing persons now.  And let‘s turn now to the sister of the missing woman, the missing woman being Tara Grinstead, a 30-year-old former beauty queen, a high school teacher, extremely popular, extremely loved in this town. 

And her sister, Anita Gattis, obviously you‘re heartbroken and you want answers.  What was your reaction when you heard that Beth was coming to your town to help you search? 

ANITA GATTIS, TARA GRINSTEAD‘S SISTER:  I was absolutely astounding that she would do this for Tara.  You know, this is someone I did not know, Tara did not know.  But this just shows you the compassion that this woman has.  And to think all she‘s gone through and she‘s taking time away from her family this weekend, and I know she has precious little time with them, to come spend with us, we are so thankful she‘s doing this and we‘re thankful that Tim from Equusearch set this up for us. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And we are looking at pictures of your sister.  She is a beautiful woman, 30-years-old, extremely popular, very well loved high school teacher.  The day she disappeared late October, a Saturday, she spent that day helping young women prepare for a beauty pageant.  Then she went to a party at a friend‘s house.  And then apparently she returned home. 

What can you tell us?  She didn‘t show up for school the next Monday. 

Police went to her house.  What was found at her home?  What are the clues? 

This is such a mystery. 

GATTIS:  It really is.  They found that her car was home, her car was left unlocked, which is something that Tara never did.  There was a $100 cash left in the console of the car. Her house was locked, her car keys and her purse were gone, the cell phone that she had had with her the night before was back home in the charger.  There was a broken lamp by her bedside table.  And she always turned this lamp on to let her neighbors know she was home. 

The biggest mystery to all of us is a white latex glove found that was in her front yard about ten feet from the front of her home. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And Beth, I want to go back to you, because one of the frustrations of missing persons cases are false sightings.  You‘ve had them in the case of your daughter, Natalee and this case, as well, of Tara Grinstead experiencing some of those.  What is the emotional roller coaster like when someone goes I think I saw her, and then there‘s a whole investigation and then it turns out not to be the case. 

TWITTY:  OH, it‘s just incredible, especially within the first couple of months.  And then, I think once you hear this information and you fall into the emotional roller coaster ride, you just—all of a sudden you have to put the brakes on because there‘s no way that you can continue that pace, because you don‘t know how far you‘re going to have to go in finding your missing loved ones. 

So there comes a point when you have to just desensitize yourself and put the brakes on.  And it‘s very difficult, though, within the first couple of months.  You‘re just not capable of doing that. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  It‘s got to be rough. 

Thank you, Beth. 

Let‘s go now to Tim Miller of Texas Equusearch and talk about the details of this search.  When‘s it happening?  How many people?  What area, et cetera?

TIM MILLER, TEXAS EQUUSEARCH:  Well, we was out here about three weeks ago I guess for a week and then went back to Houston for a week.  And then I sent five people here at the beginning of the week.  They‘ve been mapping areas out and doing a lot of planning. 

I talked to Beth last weekend.  And Beth said, Tim, this is a schoolteacher.  And all the schoolteachers that helped me in mine and what I‘m going through, I need to help. 

So, you know, I told Beth before in Aruba and I don‘t know if she remembers it I said, you know, I started Equusearch in memory of my daughter, Laura, and we‘ve done a tremendous job.  But you know what?  Natalee has taken it to a new direction on how we‘re going to look for missing loved ones. 

And I think it has in a short period of time with all the new resources and all the things we‘ve gained—I mean, we found one today in Houston, unfortunately, dead, that was missing for one week.  And I mean, we‘re really getting people out there. 

You know, no missing person and their family should ever be left alone.  There‘s no guarantees we‘ll find them but I guarantee we won‘t find them if people don‘t search.  So our network of resources and—has just grown and grown and we got to reach out to these families. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Tim, I wish you the very best on your search.  Of course, there is a reward, $90,000 and climbing.  I understand it may have climbed to $100,000, Tara Grinstead, 30-years-old, very much loved in that community.  Let‘s hope you find her. 

And Beth, stand by.  We‘re going to go back to you. 

But we want to turn now to the search for clues in the Natalee Holloway case.  Could the three suspects previously arrested in her disappearance now face a new round of questioning?  Live and direct tonight with some answers for us, special adviser to the Aruban government Steve Cohen. 

Steve, what have you heard about this possibility of Joran van der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers actually being reinterrogated? 

STEVE COHEN, SPECIAL ADVISER TO ARUBAN GOVERNMENT:  I think it‘s certainly a possibility.  Everything is being done right now to accelerate the process of the investigation.  By that I mean investigators are going over all old ground.  There‘s about 12,000 pages of testimony they took during the original interrogations. 

And they‘re saying to themselves, we may have missed some pieces.  Let‘s quietly and carefully go over these pieces, and if we need to bring these boys back and interrogate them again, let‘s not be afraid to do it because of the press or anyone else who is a naysayer. 

In fact, the attorney general has put a new prosecutor from Venezuela on this case, I‘m sorry, from Curacao on this case to check out all the work that‘s been done by Karin Janssen. 

And on the other side, Adolfo Richardson, who is one of the most experienced inspectors on the island, is returning to the case after training he‘s done in Holland.  So, you have two new people on it. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Steve, let me try to get a timetable, and also point out the fact that Joran van der Sloot right now is studying in Holland.  How will you get him when he is half way around the world? 

COHEN:  Well, remember that he is still a person of interest.  He has not been exonerated in this case.  So, can be questioned in Holland.  And he also can be questioned when he returns to Aruba. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  But how soon?  How soon could this happen?  People are obviously looking for answers.  There‘s a lot of controversies surrounding this case. 

COHEN:  Of course.  I think it‘s hard to put a direct time table on it, but I have to tell you, everyone is working as hard as they can.  And I think within the next few weeks that if the boys will be questioned again that will happen. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Now, let me ask you, we‘ve been hearing reports about some sort of letter that Paul van der Sloot, Joran‘s dad received and it‘s been turned over to the authorities.  What can you tell us about that? 

COHEN:  Well, first, I can tell you that this letter has just like any other piece of evidence, no one really thinks in the prosecution or in the investigators it‘s worth anything.  But because you want to know about it, here‘s what happened. 

He received a letter in September.  This was a typed letter.  It reportedly is from Natalee Holloway, and in the letter it lays out a number of scenarios about how she ran away from her mother and also other issues. 

Everything in the letter is not new.  Everything comes from a variety of Web sites. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  But there‘s something about DNA.  It says test the letter, it‘s my DNA, something like that. 

COHEN:  Yes.  It does say that.  And all the letter does intimate there is that you can get DNA off of the stamp licking, off of the licking of the envelop and off of the letter itself.  There‘s no other obvious DNA that is put on the letter. 

Inspectors have taken it.  Don Peg (ph), who is our chief investigator, took the letter today from Paul van der Sloot and he immediately sent it onto our lab in Holland.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right.  It‘s going to be tested.  And thank you for that, Steve.  Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. 

I want to get reaction from Natalee‘s mom right now about this letter.  What do you make of it?  Obviously it could be totally, totally, totally bogus. 

TWITTY:  Well, there was so much information coming out, it‘s hard for me to regroup on the spot like this.  I‘m hearing of a new prosecuting attorney being flown in from Curacao.  I‘m hearing of a possibility of rearrest.  I‘m hearing of a letter that was written by daughter and sent to Paul van der Sloot.  So, bear with me here. 

But as far as the letter goes, I just think that is something that really just—they could have addressed that personally.  I mean, I think we need to stay focused on the bloody tennis shoe that was found, the blood on the vehicle that was found and keep our focus on those types of criminal evidence and looking forward to a prosecuting attorney coming in, whoever this is from Curacao.  And I hope whoever this is will be received by the authorities there on the island well and also by the attorney general‘s office. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And Beth, quickly, what about bringing these young men back in for questioning?  Does that make you happy? 

TWITTY:  Well, I think that they do need to be brought back in.  And we have thought that all along.  But what our concerns are is that the current investigative team is in place that we may be no further along.  So it‘s just too early for me to get my hopes up at all. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right.  Well, thank you so much, Beth.  And good luck on your search this weekend.  Good luck to all of you searching for Tara. 

Coming up, shocking video of a brawl on one side.  Houston teenagers, the other, Hurricane Katrina evacuations.  Has their welcome worn thin?  It‘s all ahead.

Take a look at this.  It‘s amazing.


VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over):  Still ahead, racist, sexist and homophobic or just bad taste? 

The San Francisco police officers on this home video are in a heap of trouble.  The man behind the tape tells me why he says no one should be upset. 

And a judge throws out the plea deal for a teacher who had sex with her student.  Is she off the hook?  Her ex-husband joins me live. 

And Rita Cosby takes you on an exclusive security patrol with U.S.  troops in Afghanistan.  It‘s coming up.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m going to get out of this district.  Somebody or someone will come up to you and, you know..



VELEZ-MITCHELL:  That‘s a clip from a San Francisco police video showing cops running over a homeless woman.  Of course, they‘re pretending to do that.  Its creators claim they were making the tape as a joke for this year‘s Christmas party, but very few people are laughing.  In fact, city officials call the tape racist, sexist and homophobic.  And at least 18 officers have now been suspended for it. 

We are joined now by Andrew Cohen who put this tape together.  And he has been suspended for it as well.  And his attorney Daniel Horowitz. 

Let‘s start with you, Andrew.  Now that it‘s been denounced, racist, sexist, homophobic, do you regret making this video? 

ANDREW COHEN, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE:  Absolutely not.  There is no sexist or racist anything in the video.  The video is intended for comical purposes only.  It was for police officers‘ eyes only for a particular party only.  And if it hadn‘t gotten out by the chief and the mayor, this wouldn‘t even be a topic. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  I mean, you pretend to run over a homeless person who happens to be African-American.  Another officer pulls over a woman and asked her to step out of the car and then looks her over in a sexual manner.  How could that be interpreted any other way than racist or sexist? 

A. COHEN:  Very easily.  First of all, everybody is focusing on this African-American woman.  And we‘re making fun of the officer, because the officer himself who ended up looking as if he was oblivious to the whole thing, that was a funny thing. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Let me ask you this.  Obviously this isn‘t just a regular office party you were making this video for.  You are police officers.  That means you have power over other people.  You carry guns, you can stop them, you can pull them over, you can interrogate them and arrest them.  Doesn‘t that give you a greater need for responsibility in terms of these kinds of videos? 

A. COHEN:  They‘re apples and oranges.  We do our job extremely well. 

And we‘re called to service constantly.  And we are very proud of it. 

The video itself was made for a particular purpose.  Two separate issues.  We‘re allowed to have a party.  And we‘re certainly allowed to laugh and have some humor.  And I think there‘s a lot of humor. 

And I think most people, so far the supporters overwhelming that they agree.  They‘re glad to see officers who are able to release stress on the job, a stressful job. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right.  Now, apparently you made this video, in part, to roast a very popular captain.  And he is very upset.  Now, first let‘s show his role in this video.  Let‘s take a look. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Good morning, captain. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Oh, captain.  Oh captain. 



VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Now, the captain says he had nothing to do with this.  He didn‘t participate in the making of this video at all, one iota.  Let‘s hear what he had to say. 


CAPT. RICK BRUCE, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE DEPT:  Those scenes in which I do appear are apparently file footage that are in some cases many years old.  I‘m asking that the mayor of this city and the chief of police of the San Francisco Police Department acknowledge that I had nothing to do with the production of this video. 


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  So what do you say to that, Andrew?  Was he completely in the dark about this video?  And, if so, are you putting him in a bad situation? 

COHEN:  I put him in a bad situation when I put it on the Web site for that few moments.  And that someone took it from the Web site and exposed it.  I think the chief and the mayor put it in a bad situation.  And he is absolutely not involved because he didn‘t know.  He had commanders‘ bars on his lapel.  That means he was a commander.  And that was years ago.  So, it‘s obvious.  And it‘s obvious someone is out to get him.  And I think that—I‘m sure he‘ll be cleared of any wrongdoing as all the officers should be. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right, I want to ask a question of your attorney, Dan Horowitz, a good friend of mine.  It‘s so great to see you, Dan.  Why did you take this case?  And specifically, are there other video clips that are going to be revealed?  Is there another shoe to drop?  Because we hear there are other clips possibly. 

DANIEL HOROWITZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well Jane, first of all, I took this case, and I came back to doing television, because Andrew has been my friend for 25 years.  And when he started with another police department, he came to me and said, there‘s too much racism in this institution, in this department.  I need to leave.  Where should I go?  And we talked about it.  He picked San Francisco because it was the best place for diversity. 

So to hear the mayor and the chief now accuse him of racism makes me sick.  And that‘s why I came back to represent him. 

Will another shoe drop?  Sure.  There‘s other footage. 

But let me dress the one with the African-American so-called homeless woman.  I know that that‘s not your call, Jane, whether she‘s homeless or not.  We don‘t know if she‘s homeless.  Somebody sees a black woman who looks like maybe life‘s been hard for her and calls her homeless.  That‘s their racism. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  The issue is that they pretend to run her over. 

HOROWITZ:  Let me tell you about that Jane, to me that takes courage, because in the community, you ask the folks in (INAUDIBLE) Point, they feel like the cops don‘t care about them, like they‘ll run them over and not care about us folks because it‘s us and them. 

Andrew, in his comedy, is also making a point.  I understand.  I hear you.  And that‘s how communication starts, Jane, not by Chief Fong turning her back on the community, letting the murder rate rise, understaffing that entire facility and having no command.  She‘s at fault.  She doesn‘t like the facts.  She doesn‘t like what he‘s saying. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Unfortunately, we‘ve run out of time.  But once again, so great to debate with and you discuss with you and we‘re glad you‘re back. 

HOROWITZ:  Thank you, Jane. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Over two dozen high school students are under arrest after a wild brawl in Houston, Texas.  It began as a small cafeteria scuffle, but it soon turned into a teenage turf war at a Houston area high school.  And it‘s all caught on tape. 

About 300 students at the school are Hurricane Katrina evacuees.  The rising tension between the evacuees and the local students appears to be reaching a new level of urgency. 

Joining me now to talk about why these students have so much attention is Jamie Cheek.  He‘s a coordinator of counseling for the Aleaf (ph) School District in Houston, Texas. 

Now Jamie, I know this wasn‘t one of your schools but you are dealing with very similar issues.  Why is there such tension? 

JAMIE CHEEK, COUNSELING COORDINATOR:  I think it‘s just the very nature of trauma itself.  When you look at trauma, it‘s so much about survival and safety and feelings of powerlessness.  And when you start taking children who are fighting for their very survival or feel like they‘re fighting for survival and you have this going on for months and months and then you have them with a population of students who are maybe feeling like they are being put upon or that they see students who may get be getting things that they, indeed, have been needing for years, and, you know, on top of being very tired, then you‘ve got a volatile situation. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Are they being put upon?  Or do they just feel like they‘re being put upon?  Apparently in the Houston district, there were 5,000 students brought in from Katrina, in this one problem school alone 300 added.  Is that too much?  Should they have been spread out? 

CHEEK:  We have students spread out throughout the entire Houston area.  And it‘s certainly not a situation, you know, that anybody would have chosen to do on purpose, but it was a situation where the Houston community has opened up their hearts and their arms to take in folks from the hurricanes and as educators, we will certainly do that and do it gladly again. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Let me jump in here and ask you a question, because one school official apparently proposed separating these students.  I have to ask you about that.  I mean, why not think outside the box and use this as an opportunity for dialogue in maybe teaching these kids about civics‘ issues and about politics and being creative with this whole situation where it could come out as a positive? 

CHEEK:  Absolutely.  I think that when we start actually maintaining the thought of an us/them mentality, we actually get into a little bit of trouble.  And I don‘t want to undermine anybody‘s problem solving.  I think that as a Houston community, we‘re all doing our very best. 


CHEEK:  And the folks who are survivors of these horrible catastrophes are absolutely doing their very best.  So, I don‘t want to undermine anyone‘s efforts.  But when we keep maintaining an us/them mentality, we‘re not doing anyone any favors. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Exactly.  We have to wrap it up.  But I kind envision this giant room where all these kids are talking back-and-forth.  And there‘s dialogue.  And maybe they learn something about nonviolence and really turn this into a plus for them.  It‘s always an opportunity any time something like this happens, I think.

CHEEK:  Absolutely. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right.  Thank you so much. 

CHEEK:  Still ahead, Deborah Lefave had sex with her teenage student and copped a plea deal.  But a new judge says, hey, no way.  So, could she go jail now?  Her ex-husband joins me live. 

And later, if you have got lots of cash to toss around for the holidays, hey, we have got some amazing gift ideas for you coming up.  And it‘s expensive.


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  A stunning twist in the teacher sex case that we‘ve been watching very closely, it looks like Deborah Lefave may not be off the hook anymore.  A Florida judge has now thrown out her plea, the one that kept her out of prison with only three years under house arrest.  All this after she admitted in court that she had sex with a 14-year-old male student.  And now there is a chance that she may actually go to prison after all.

Joining me now live on the phone is somebody who knows her very, very well, Debra‘s ex-husband, Owen LaFave. 

Owen, what‘s your reaction to this really shocking turn of events? 

OWEN LAFAVE, DEBRA LAFAVE‘S EX-HUSBAND:  Well, you know, I think I was shocked when I initially heard.  I thought it was pretty much just a formality, her going into Marion County and accepting a plea agreement up there, as well. 

But, you know, I think the judge, while he has to take into account the victim, he also has to take into account the law and public perception.  And I‘m fairly confident that the consensus in the public was that the sentencing was too lenient.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Now, you have said publicly numerous times that you feel that she should do jail time.  But you said, oh, one or two years would be enough.  But that‘s not how it works.  With three charges she faces in this second county, with a maximum of 15 years each, she could go to jail for 45 years. 

And then it‘s possible they could reopen the other one.  I mean, we‘re talking the potential, maybe, of even something like 75 years.  Is that what you want for your ex-wife? 

LAFAVE:  No, absolutely not.  I mean, I think that‘s ridiculous.  People who commit much more serious crimes, who commit murder, don‘t get times that long.  I mean, I think a year or two is appropriate, in conjunction with some psychiatric help. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right.  We‘ve got to wrap it up, but one very quick question:  Do you think you‘ll have to testify? 

LAFAVE:  You know, if it goes to trial, I will.  I know I will.  And I just hope it doesn‘t get to that point. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right, Owen, thank you so much.  The big question:  Will the state push this back to trial or will they back down? 

Let‘s bring in former prosecutor and my good friend, Wendy Murphy, along with defense attorney Jayne Weintraub. 

Wendy, let‘s start with you.  Do you think this second judge is kind of responding to political pressure?  I mean, there was such an outcry over the plea deal, people saying this sexist, reverse sexism, that if she were a man, she would go to jail?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  Oh, yes.  I mean, and it‘s not political pressure.  It‘s not mob rule justice.  It is absolutely appropriate; in fact, it‘s the duty of the judge to take into account community values and community responses once they give out an appropriate sentence. 

And so the fact that there was unbelievable outcry after she got probation from the first county should matter.  Not only does it matter, it should matter.  And I think it‘s important that the first judge take a lesson here. 

Look, everybody‘s watching this case.  We‘re all taking a message from

this case.  And the question is—and let‘s call it what it is, by the way

should a child rapist get a bargain-basement discount because she‘s blonde, cute and female? 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right, but...

MURPHY:  It‘s not about how the parts go together, Jayne, and the way they tingle...


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And, Jayne—let me ask Jayne, because I think that the defense attorney for this woman, Debra LaFave, did her an injustice when he said that she was too pretty for prison, implying that perhaps only unattractive people should be behind bars.  What a bizarre concept. 

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  I‘m not going defend John‘s comment about that.  John‘s far too good a lawyer to have made a slip like that.  But things happen in the heat of the moment. 

What‘s important is that John has advanced a valuable, legitimate insanity defense on Debra LaFave‘s behalf, so much so that, after the plea in the last case in Hillsboro County, the prosecutor at a press conference conceded that there were significant psychiatric issues. 

So that tells me—and I‘ve seen John Fitzgibbons before—that tells me that she has a legitimate insanity defense.  That‘s number one. 

Number two, you know, one of the dangers of cameras in the courtroom that I will bring up to you—and I‘ve never practiced in front of this judge, so I don‘t know—but I raise it as a possible issue.  Everybody likes to play to these cameras, including the judges.  It‘s very unusual that a judge does not ratify a plea negotiation between the parties, when the prosecutor... 

MURPHY:  Playing to the cameras? 


MURPHY:  Jayne, Jayne...


MURPHY:  There she was being reasonable.  Jayne, there she was being reasonable for a minute.  And all of a sudden, when she was talking about playing to the cameras, and then she said the judge.  I thought she meant the blonde bombshell who was wearing push-up bras and putting on an extra gob of makeup for the cameras. 

That is an insult to the integrity of the criminal justice system. 

And that is part of why she got a pass the first time around. 


MURPHY:  This judge isn‘t an idiot.  That‘s a good thing, too. 

WEINTRAUB:  He‘s an elected official.  That‘s another problem. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  The kid himself has said he doesn‘t want to testify against this woman...

MURPHY:  Too bad. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Well, wait a second.  His mom and dad say this could traumatize him further and it could actually hurt him psychologically and emotionally. 

WEINTRAUB:  But then the judge wouldn‘t get elected maybe...


WEINTRAUB:  That‘s what these problems lead to. 

MURPHY:  That is a bunch of nonsense.  Look, there‘s good research out there that says, when we protect kids from the trauma of testifying, they actually do very poorly in the future.  The ones who we force to testify do better because they realize that important people cared about their well being. 

WEINTRAUB:  We‘re not talking about a 5-year-old, Wendy. 


WEINTRAUB:  He‘s a 14-year-old young man, and not...


MURPHY:  He‘s old enough to take the stand.  You know, would we give a bank robber or a murderer a bargain-basement discount to save a 14-year-old from the trauma of handling...


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  We‘re running out of time, but I have to get a prediction:  What‘s next?  I mean, did somebody drop the ball?  Will there be a trial? 

Your guess, Wendy? 

MURPHY:  I actually think she‘ll probably end up agreeing to some jail time, because I don‘t think she wants this case to go to trial.  It‘s a slam dunk. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Jayne, quickly, predictions. 

WEINTRAUB:  I think that the judge eventually will give into the parties, as I‘m sure he probably should.  And I think there will be a plea agreement.  And I don‘t think she belongs in jail. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And the media will be right there tagging along, watching it all the way.  Thank you, both, for coming on and arguing with us. 

WEINTRAUB:  Thank you, Jane. 


Still ahead, preparations under way for the execution of convicted killer Tookie Williams.  He says he has turned his life around.  So here‘s a question for you:  Should he be sentenced?  Should his sentence be commuted, rather?  A man scheduled to witness the execution is coming up to talk with us, live.


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Rita Cosby is now on her way back from Afghanistan.  She was there with some amazing professional wrestlers from the WWE, who were there entertaining the troops.  It was a welcome relief from the very serious mission those troops are on. 

Rita had the chance to ride along with one patrol to see firsthand what these brave men and women face every day. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If we get into an ambush, if you‘re not in the kill zone, don‘t get into the kill zone. 

RITA COSBY, HOST (voice-over):  It began with a safety briefing and us wearing bulletproof vests and a helmet.  Unfortunately, all of this is   critical for those U.S. soldiers who have the dangerous task of patrolling outside the safe zone of Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

SSGT. JOSHUA BURRELL, 164TH MILITARY POLICE COMPANY:  How dangerous is it out there?  Every time we leave the wire, you know, we‘re always on alert for everything that we need to be alert for.  When we‘re going down the road, we‘re looking for anything that‘s really out of the ordinary. 

COSBY:  We traveled in a heavily-armed, three-vehicle convoy, with the 164 Military Police Company from Fort Richardson, Alaska.  With many members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda still at large in the mountains and 90 percent of Afghanistan still found to have some mines, these men and women have their work cut out for them. 

SGT. DAVID CAUSER, 164TH MILITARY POLICE COMPANY:  Mines is pretty much the biggest issue here.  Yes, we have insurgents and everything, but mines, as far as where you can go to, fall-back positions and stuff like that, the mines pretty much restrict you, because pretty much everywhere is mined. 

And if not mined, then there‘s unexploded ordinance in the area and everything.  If there‘s a road there, and you see truck tire tracks, then you can pretty much drive that route.  If they‘re not, then you don‘t walk there, you don‘t drive there.

If it‘s a foot path, you don‘t want to drive on it, because there could still be antitank mines there that you‘re—by walking over it, it won‘t set it off, but if you drive over it will. 

COSBY:  Almost all the roads outside of the U.S. base are not paved but lined with local citizens and members of the Afghan police force, who told me they believe that they have the enemy under control. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):  (INAUDIBLE) There was 25 years of war here in Afghanistan (INAUDIBLE)

COSBY (on-screen):  If you could ask him what he think of the American support? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):  We‘re thankful to America for the help they‘re giving to Afghanistan.  It makes us very happy. 

COSBY (voice-over):  On this day, we drove many miles through rural villages, unsure of who or what may lie ahead. 

(on-screen):  Captain, as we were driving up here, lots of cars on the side of the road, lots of people. 


COSBY:  How do you know they‘re not Taliban? 

WOOTEN:  That‘s the one thing about this area you don‘t know.  You really won‘t know until you‘re getting, you know, small-arms fire on you, and then you go ahead and return fire. 

But we have a good working relationship with the AMP and AHP in this area.  And we‘re pretty confident with the patrols that our guys are doing, with the joint patrols that they‘re doing with the amp, that the area here is pretty secure. 

COSBY:  Still, something could surprise you. 

WOOTEN:  Something can surprise you at any moment, yes. 

COSBY (voice-over):  Ultimately, we end up at this extremely remote Afghan police checkpoint in the middle of the mountains, located at an altitude of 5,700 feet. 

(on-screen):  Sergeant, tell me about what you brought in for these guys? 

CAUSER:  Oh, well, a couple of days ago, we brought them up 1,500 sandbags, along with all the other checkpoints, we dropped them off there. 

What we end up doing is we give them to them so they can place them and fortify their positions through here.  As you can see, for most of the terrain around here, this is pretty much a strategic position for this area. 

We walk them through, show them the best place to set them up for fall-back positions, and everything like that, so they can better defend themselves.  This checkpoint alone gets hit more often than not.  You can see brass casings underneath the bunks over there and stuff.  They get hit a lot. 

COSBY:  This is a key, sort of strategic point? 

CAUSER:  Roger that.  Roger that. 

COSBY:  Just because of the visibility, the high altitude? 

CAUSER:  Yes, the visibility, the interests into the Taga Valley (ph), everything.  So we‘ve pretty much—we established this checkpoint about a month ago for them.  And we continue to build it up for them, because, like I said, it is pretty strategic for the area around here. 

BURRELL:  This area that we actually patrol is actually one of the hot spots that we have, probably the most dangerous spots that we do patrol. 

COSBY:  What just happened here recently? 

BURRELL:  According to the commander, about four or five nights ago, this actual particular checkpoint was attacked with small-arms fire. 

COSBY:  And what happened? 

BURRELL:  They returned fire, and they tried to catch them, but they went into the mountains and got away. 


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And for more on Rita‘s trip to Afghanistan, log onto rita.MSNBC.com, where you can read her own blog entries on her visit. 

Still ahead, should the man who founded the violent gang known as the Crips have his death sentence commuted?  An execution witness joins me, next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has until Monday night to decide if he will grant clemency to Stanley “Tookie” Williams.  That‘s when Williams, the creator of the notorious street gang the Crips, is scheduled to be executed. 

Among the witnesses at the execution, our own Rita Cosby and our next guest.  KNX News Radio reporter Michael Linder joins us live now to talk about the Williams‘ execution. 

Thanks for joining us, Michael.  Now, if Williams is not granted clemency, what‘s said to happen during those final moments?  Walk us through the whole process.

MICHAEL LINDER, KNX NEWS RADIO REPORTER:  Well, at 6:00, he‘s going to be taken into an adjacent cell.  It‘s going to look like any other prison cell.  The three guards are going to be watching him, just to make sure that he does not commit suicide. 

He‘ll be able to have a last meal.  Tookie Williams has said he doesn‘t want one.  In fact, he doesn‘t even want any visitors.  “Who would want to see me die?” he has said. 

And then, from 7:00 to 10:00, he could have visitors.  He could have a spiritual adviser.  The warden may see him.  And then he will be taken into the room, formally known as the gas chamber, where now lethal injections are carried out in the state of California.

He‘ll be strapped down a table.  Hypodermics will be put into two veins, a fail-safe, in case there is blockage in one.  And from another room, out of line of sight of Tookie Williams, so that he will not see the technician do this and the technician will not see the patient on the table, three different toxic chemicals will be injected into his veins. 

And after the first one—five grams of sodium pentothal is administered -

Tookie Williams will, to all purposes, just look as though he has fallen asleep. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right, Michael, you mentioned his wishes.  And actually, Rita Cosby spoke to Williams about his wishes less than a month ago.  Let‘s listen in. 



accept no last meal.  I don‘t want anyone to be there.  Who would I possibly want to see me die?  So I would have no one there.  I want no meal from this place.


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  But despite those wishes, there will be people there, you, Rita Cosby, other members of the media.  What about representatives from the victims‘ families?  Will they be allowed in? 

LINDER:  Oh, they certainly will.  And we will not be allowed to speak to them, but they will be there.  We will all be in a room adjacent to this area.  And once Tookie Williams is strapped down to the table, then a curtain will be drawn. 

And we will simply see the last moments of Tookie Williams‘ life.  He‘ll be wearing a new pair of blue jeans and a new chambray work shirt that they‘ll give him 30 minutes before the execution.  And, once he is pronounced dead by the doctor at the scene, the curtains will be drawn and that will be it. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  We‘re running out of time, but, Michael, I know you personally.  I worked with you at the Jackson trial.  What‘s it going to be like for you, psychologically and emotionally, to watch this if it happens? 

LINDER:  Well, as a reporter, I really wanted to get to the ground zero, if you would, of the death penalty issue.  I mean, certainly it‘s a burning issue in this country and you go where the story is.

I‘ve been told by others who have witnessed executions that there are some repercussions.  One reporter told me that weeks afterwards he started having dreams about people putting needles in his arms.  We‘ll just have to wait and see. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right, well, we will be on top of this story, obviously, and track it all the way.  Thank you, Michael, for joining us. 

And be sure to join Rita Cosby here on Monday.  She will be broadcasting LIVE & DIRECT from outside San Quentin Prison, where she will be a witness for Stanley “Tookie” Williams‘ scheduled execution.  We will be right back.


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  The holiday season is in full swing.  And that means it‘s time to start your shopping. 

Of course, it never hurts to dream about what gifts you might be opening soon.  For the philanthropist, how about a personal concert by Sir Elton John for $1.5 million?  The money goes to his AIDS foundation.  Now, there might be an offer already on that hot gift.  Boy, I thought I was going to have to bid on that. 

Two hundred thousand dollars will buy you a real railroad track in

your own back yard.  How about that?  It‘s all in this year‘s—what else

Neiman-Marcus Christmas book. 

Joining me now to show off some more extremely extravagant gifts is Elise Loehnen.  She is an editor with “Lucky” magazine.  And we are lucky to have you, because I couldn‘t make head or tails of some of these gifts.  I mean, they‘re pretty tacky.  Look at this one.  What is this? 

ELISE LOEHNEN, EDITOR, “LUCKY” MAGAZINE:  Some of them are for the tech-savvy.  Even this gift, actually, it looks like sort of a bejeweled case, but it‘s actually for your iPod.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  OK, we‘re going to zoom in on this, because we‘re not allowed—this is how expensive these are.  We‘re not allowed to touch them, all right?  So I‘m just going to show you right here.  Check it out.  Check it out.  Zoom in on that. 

Are those diamonds or what? 

LOEHNEN:  They‘re actually Swarofski crystals, and it‘s $840. 


LOEHNEN:  And, you know, technology companies have really wised up to the fact that consumers want their electronics to be as well-designed on the outside as they are on the inside.  And so you don‘t want to take your beautiful Nano and hide it in a frumpy nylon case. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Of course not. 

LOEHNEN:  You want to bling it out, Valentino-style.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  I‘m sure Paris Hilton, if she‘s watching, is on that. 

OK, let‘s talk about this next one, because I could actually use this, because cell phones, I mean, we need a slim phone. 

LOEHNEN:  Exactly.  This is sort of the best of both worlds, because it‘s highly functional and it‘s also really beautiful.  It actually looks like sort of an art deco art object.  But, in terms of the technology, it‘s tri-band, which means you can use it anywhere in the world.  It has a really high-resolution camera.  And it obviously functions as a phone.  It also has Bluetooth.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  So if you want to be a spy, it‘s also very helpful. 

LOEHNEN:  Exactly. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And you can stick it in these jeans, all right, because these jeans are worth how much?  They‘re $700?

LOEHNEN:  $645.  You‘re saving $55 there. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Giving me the discount? 

LOEHNEN:  Exactly.  And these are Seven for all Mankind.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Do they make you look thin? 

LOEHNEN:  Yes, they have Lycra.  Every girl relies on Lycra to hold you in, in those places that it matters.  Yes.  And they‘re sort of for the girl who has everything. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  This watch—oh... 

LOEHNEN:  We‘re going to—I think this is a...

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Check the bags. 

LOEHNEN:  The bags, the Louis Vuitton luggage.  If you have everything, and, you know, you have no other beautiful things to buy for yourself, and now you need something to haul it around in, this is a great his and hers gift. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And after you‘ve bought the bags, then you don‘t have any more money for the trip. 

LOEHNEN:  That‘s true.  But if you think about getting off a red-eye, and you‘re really bleary eyed, and that‘s waiting for you at the baggage carrousel. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right.  This is the last one, but this is the piece de resistance. 

LOEHNEN:  Right.  This is Chanel Z12 watch.  It has 120 diamonds.  And it‘s also ceramic, so it‘s sort of the best of both worlds.  It‘s modern and luxurious.  You could wear it all day.  Again, you‘re going to need a burly guy at your side. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Yes, a body guard. 

LOEHNEN:  Exactly, $11,000. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right.  Elise, thank you.  You were fabulous. 

We are moving on now to an even more high-tech world.  Joining me now, Jimmy Jellinek, the editor-in-chief of “Stuff” magazine.  You‘ve got lots of stuff.

JIMMY JELLINEK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, “STUFF” MAGAZINE:  We have a bumper crop of gifts for you from “Stuff” magazine.  This is... 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Go to it, man. 

JELLINEK:  This is the best stuff you could ever possibly want.  If you‘re a guy, welcome home.  We‘re here to help you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Hey, I‘m a tech girl. 

JELLINEK:  You could be a tech girl, a tech guy, but this is the stuff that‘s going to absolutely make your Christmas.  If somebody gets this for you, for your Kwanzaa or your Hanukkah... 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  OK, what?  Let‘s start. 

JELLINEK:  This is the iPod.  This is the new—you know, this is the new one.  It‘s the video iPod.  You can take your shows with you. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Can I touch it?  No.

JELLINEK:  If they let you, you can touch it.  It‘s OK.  You can pet it.


JELLINEK:  See, ooh, it‘s a nice iPod.


VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Look at that.

JELLINEK:  This is absolutely the hottest gift.  This is the 30 gigabyte, and it holds 7,500 songs, it holds tons of video.  And it‘s $299.  It‘s fantastic.  You can watch your “Desperate Housewives.”  You can watch your “Lost.”  You could download DVDs on it.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Listen, I got to go...

JELLINEK:  Go for it.  It‘s yours. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  It‘s tempting. 

JELLINEK:  This thing is for guys who refuse to ask for directions.  This is the Garman Novia (ph).  This is better than having a friend, a husband, or girlfriend.  This is an MP3 player. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  That‘s the personal assistant, right?

JELLINEK:  Absolutely.  It‘s a traveling personal assistant.  It‘s got GPS in it.  It‘s got an MP3.  And it also have points of interest.  You don‘t have to talk to anybody anymore.  You can just talk to your digital personal assistant.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  I‘ve always wanted a personal assistant. 

JELLINEK:  This is it.  It‘s fantastic. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  OK.  Come with me. 

JELLINEK:  Right.  This here, this is the Nokia N90.  This is the hottest camera-phone on the market right now.  It retails for about $500.  It‘s got 20x resolution, which means that you can take a picture from far away if you‘re in a sporting event or...

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  I got to pick this up.  I can‘t stop myself. 

JELLINEK:  You can be a paparazzi in your own time, if you... 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Let‘s not get carried away now. 

JELLINEK:  No, no, do it.  You could shoot anybody you need to.  It‘s fantastic.  It‘s a fantastic phone.  It looks good. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  And, you know, when it comes to status, I think phones are it.

JELLINEK:  Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Everybody judges you based on your phone.

JELLINEK:  Absolutely.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Of course, I‘ve got like a $27 one.

JELLINEK:  Phone first, then shoes, so... 


JELLINEK:  This thing is the greatest. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right.  Move on. 

JELLINEK:  Move on.  This is the Oliva Musica (ph).  Say you have 40,000 CDs. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Which I don‘t, but, yes, let‘s say that. 

JELLINEK:  This will hold it.  This will hold—you know, you can never have to listen to anything but music for the rest of your life if you have this thing.  This is 165 gigabytes, which means it‘s huge.  It‘s basically like a kitchen sink for your computer. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Wow.  This is a jukebox for the new millennium. 

JELLINEK:  It‘s beyond a jukebox.  This is like 50 jukeboxes for the new millennium. 

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  Thank you.  Thank you for introducing me to the new millennium. 

JELLINEK:  Absolutely.  There you go.  Welcome.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  All right.  Happy holidays to all of you.

JELLINEK:  Thank you.

VELEZ-MITCHELL:  That is LIVE & DIRECT.  I‘m Jane Velez-Mitchell filling in for Rita Cosby.  “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY,” with guest host Lisa Daniels, starts right now.



Watch Rita Cosby Live & Direct each weeknight at 9 p.m. ET


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