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Settlement Reached in Rush Limbaugh Doctor Shopping Case; Spanish Version of National Anthem Stirs Controversy

Aired April 28, 2006 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: It's a very busy news night here. Good evening. Thank you so much for joining us tonight.
We begin with a breaking news story. Conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh out on bail tonight, after he was booked late this afternoon on a fraud charge involving prescription drugs. But get this. He was in and out of the police station in less time than it might have taken you to drive home from work tonight, something like one hour flat.

What the heck is going on here?

Let's turn to John Zarrella, who is standing by in Miami. He's got all the information.

What kind of deal was struck here, John?


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Paula, the state attorney's office in Palm Beach County has reached an agreement, a plea agreement, with Rush Limbaugh and his attorney, which, in essence, ends three years of legal wrangling over whether Limbaugh was doctor-shopping for prescription painkillers.

Part of the deal, Rush Limbaugh turned himself in today to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. He was fingerprinted. His mug shot was taken. Here's a look at what he -- what he looks like. His mug shot looks more like a publicity photo.

He was out in, as you mentioned, about an hour on $3,000 bond. He's been charged with a single count of doctor-shopping. He must -- that charge will be dismissed in 18 months. He must continue to seek treatment for the next 18 months and pay $30,000 in court costs.

Late this afternoon, Roy Black, his attorney, issued this statement, saying -- quote -- "Mr. Limbaugh and I have maintained from the start that there was no doctor-shopping, and we continue to hold this position. Accordingly, we filed today with the court a plea of not guilty to the charge filed by the state."

Now, that was all part of the agreement. Now, all of this goes back to three years ago, when the state went after his doctors with search warrants to seize his records to try and prove that Rush Limbaugh was doctor-shopping for prescription painkillers, such as Oxycodone. Ultimately, Limbaugh fought that, saying that it was a witch- hunt; they shouldn't have gone after him using search warrants. But the state won. Well, ultimately, it looks like Rush Limbaugh, Paula, has won, because all the state has done now is reach this plea agreement with him that, in essence, gives him nothing after 18 months.

ZAHN: So, John, he has acknowledged in the past that -- that he was addicted to painkillers. You talked, as part of the deal that was struck, he has to stay in treatment. Is he still addicted?

ZARRELLA: Well, he has -- for the past two-and-a-half years, he has been going to a doctor for treatment.

So, we know is that he continues that treatment and must continue that treatment for the next 18 months. His attorney, Roy Black, when asked what would happen if, in fact, he does not stay on the straight and narrow, didn't answer the question -- Paula.

ZAHN: John Zarrella, thanks for the update.

Now we're going to turn to two legal experts to get their take on all this, Jayne Weintraub, a criminal defense attorney, who joins us from Miami.


ZAHN: Hi. How you doing tonight?

And former prosecutor Wendy Murphy.

Since I introduced you last, Wendy, I'm going to start with you now.

Given the fact that the prosecution had won a bunch of court fights over using his past medical records, are you surprised that he cut such a favorable deal?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Not really, Paula, because I think, had this case gone to trial and if he had been convicted, he probably would end up with roughly the same punishment. It would just say guilty verdict, some period of probation, pain a fine, and continue in treatment.

So, I think this is efficient. I actually think it's fair to both sides, but I think it's pretty silly to suggest that this is a victory for Rush Limbaugh. After all, he said from the beginning his rights had been violated; he did nothing wrong. And now what we see is, he has got to pay a $30,000 fine. That's not nothing.

ZAHN: Oh, come on.

MURPHY: He's under the power of the court.

ZAHN: He makes that every minute, Wendy, on the air.

MURPHY: He's under the power of the court for 18 months. He has to report to probation. He has been fingerprinted and booked.

That means, if he violates the conditions, he's back on track for trial, which means he could well be convicted. I don't expect that to happen, but that's not nothing.

ZAHN: Jayne, do you really think this is a win for both sides?

WEINTRAUB: No, I don't. I think that it's a case of selective prosecution.

And I was very sorry to see that the appellate court in Palm Beach reversed and -- and ruled this way. You know, we have a right of privacy in the state of Florida in our constitution. And it's a balancing test, the right of someone's privacy vs. the need for law enforcement to have your doctors' records.

Think about the precedent that this ruling sets. The precedent is, it discourages people from being candid with their doctors when they need treatment. Rush Limbaugh is an addict. He became an addict after back surgery and he was in agony. And he took pain pills. He's in rehab.

What do we want from him? This is a case strictly of selective prosecution for who he is. These cases never come through our court system, Paula. Roy and I are in these courts every day. You never see them.

And I will tell you something. The thought that somebody might not tell their doctor what they have, and it might just be contagious, really is a shame.

MURPHY: Wouldn't it be nice, Jayne, if you cared a little bit about the privacy rights of the Duke rape victim, who faced a subpoena by the defense team...

ZAHN: All right.

MURPHY: ... last week.

ZAHN: Hold that thought, Wendy.

MURPHY: Truly invasive. I guess we only care about privacy rights for criminals, huh, Jayne?

ZAHN: Well -- well, why don't we follow up on that when we talk about the Duke incident, because we are going to come back to you in -- in a couple minutes, and talk to you about some of the latest developments in that major story also going on.

Thank you, you two.


ZAHN: See you in a little bit.

Now, all day long, we have been following a series of fast- changing events over the explosive allegations of rape against Duke University athletes. Attorneys for the accused students are having a field day over what could be a crucial new twist involving the stripper who claimed she was raped at an off-campus party.

Suddenly information has surfaced about an earlier claim of rape that could turn this case upside down.

The jury may or may not hear the details you're about to hear from Jason Carroll, who has been working all day long from Durham, North Carolina, and he's just filed this report.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The woman who created a national controversy by accusing three Duke lacrosse players of raping her in this off-campus home once claimed she had been the victim of a similar rape. The claim surfaced in a police report the young woman filed 10 years ago.

In 1996, she told a police officers that three men had sexually assaulted her, that it had happened three years before that, and that attack happened for "a continual time." The report goes on to say, "Three suspects raped and beat her when she was 14 years old." The alleged assault took place in Creedmoor, North Carolina, 15 miles from Duke University.

None of the three men, the then teenager, accused of raping her was ever charged.

The Creedmoor police chief says that could be because the accuser did not pursue that case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Once the victim makes the decision not to pursue the case, and you have a case that's this old, that it come to you, you know, four years later, you -- you must have the -- the alleged victim...

QUESTION: She never gave any indication that...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... to pursue the case.

CARROLL: Today, no one in Creedmoor's district attorney's office could find any paperwork related to the 10-year-old case. The alleged victim's cousin told CNN she didn't pursue it back then, because she was intimidated, but wouldn't say by what.

The district attorney in Durham County who is prosecuting the Duke lacrosse case says publicizing sensitive information about a rape victim's background is one reason many victims don't come forward.

MICHAEL NIFONG, DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Sadly, we are seeing exactly what they are talking about playing out in Durham today, as people who know none of the facts are standing in line to offer their condemnation.

CARROLL: Defense attorneys for the two lacrosse players charged with rape say they knew nothing about the accuser's previous allegation of rape. This week, they filed motions asking the DA for background information on the alleged victim, including medical and criminal records.

If the Duke case goes to trial, defense sources tell CNN, they will likely try to introduce evidence about the earlier incident, in an effort to challenge the accuser's credibility, but North Carolina has a rape shield law that prevents a rape victim's sexual history from being used in court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The court stands recessed 15 minutes.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Unless the defense can show that this woman clearly fabricated this other accusation, the judge is likely to say, I don't want to get into the subject at all.


CARROLL: And when asked about the accuser's previous allegations and how similar it is to the current situation, one defense attorney told me, sarcastically, -- quote -- "Well, I guess she's consistent" -- Paula.

ZAHN: I guess you would expect them to say that.

Jason Carroll, thanks so much.

You have to wonder what's going through the mind of the accuser, as all this comes down. My next guest can give us an idea.

Kristal Brent Zook is covering the story for "Essence" magazine. And she recently spoke with the woman's family. She joins me now from Los Angeles.

Thanks so much for being with us.

I know that you feel very strongly that the reporting on this case so far has been very one-sided. Based on what you know, do you believe the accuser's latest rape allegations?

KRISTAL BRENT ZOOK, "ESSENCE": Absolutely. And I believe that her family believes her.

I think what's most important here is that this young woman has not had a chance to defend herself publicly or in court yet. She hasn't had a chance to -- to have her fair day.

And what concerns us -- what concerns "Essence" is, on Monday, when the defense filed the motion to get her medical records and to get what was called in the press drug treatment records, we felt strongly that this was going to be twisted, that her entire past was going to be twisted, and wanted to just, you know, set the record straight, that...

ZAHN: All right. So, you're actually the one that broke the story of the 1996 rape allegation, because you think it actually bolstered her case.

But, as -- as this is dissected by the defense tonight, and you have heard the spin from their side a little bit early on, I guess what I want to know is what the accuser's state of mind is, when -- when she has got to know that her credibility continues to be debated out there, particularly her previous arrest record.

ZOOK: It has been debated and it will be debated, which is why, at the very least, we should have more balance in the reporting, and we should have her side of the story, through her family's eyes.

This is a woman who's in an incredible amount of pain right now. She's frightened. She doesn't know who to trust, who to turn to -- and the same for her family members. And no one was telling the story through their eyes. She has a -- a context behind her. She has a history of -- of pain in her past, and I think that's what was most important, and we were trying to convey her state of mind.

ZAHN: Kristal Brent Zook, thank you very much for joining us tonight...

ZOOK: Thank you.

ZAHN: ... and sharing those details with us.

Kristal, also in her report, discovering that the accuser has been living in a number of undisclosed locations and moves frequently, out of that fear she just expressed surrounding all the -- the controversy in this case.

We're going to turn back to our two legal minds, Jayne Weintraub, a criminal defense attorney in Miami -- you met her just a couple minutes ago -- and former prosecutor Wendy Murphy. We may be -- keep you employed throughout the hour tonight, you two.

So, Jayne, you are well aware of what the defense is doing with this information released about this 1996 rape. How relevant is it?

WEINTRAUB: Well, I don't think it's relevant.

And I think that the lawyers really should stop the court of public opinion, and they should start concentrating on the courtroom that they are going to be challenging the evidence in. Number one, I think it's a mine field for the defense, Paula. I think that, number one, it might not come in.

And, number two, it's a mine field, and it's dangerous for the defense to -- careful what they wish for in this case, because if they bring out from this girl on the witness stand that she has made an allegation before, here's what they're likely to face.

Isn't it true that you have faced -- you know, you have made this false claim before, madam?

And she's going to say: Yes. And, today, I have the courage to come forward that I didn't have when I was only 14. And, today, I'm not going to be bullied.

And what do you do with that, when you're the defense lawyer, standing on the other side of that question? So, that's why, as a defense lawyer, you have to be careful what you wish for. And it's a chess game. You have to look ahead.

ZAHN: Yes.

WEINTRAUB: It sounds good now on TV. It's not going to sound good...

ZAHN: Sure. But they certainly have got to...

WEINTRAUB: ... good in that courtroom for the jury.

ZAHN: Yes. They certainly are -- are -- are smart...

WEINTRAUB: Gag orders.

ZAHN: ... folks. But they have got to be worried about the fallout down the road.

So, Wendy, what do you think the defense will end up making this case look like, a repeat of the Kobe Bryant case?


ZAHN: Is that what you fear?

MURPHY: Yes. I mean, I think we're watching a very sick copy of that playbook.

And it was successful there. And I -- and I feared then that we would see defense attorneys do the same thing to other victims. And it chills their desire to come forward. We already only have about 15 percent of victims willing to testify.

I will tell you what I see -- what I think is going on. They're doing what I call a document dump right now. Anything they can put into the courtroom, the media then runs with it.

And Kristal made a good point. Whether it's true or not, whether it's pure speculation, whether it's an outright lie, like the blatant lie that the victim in the Kobe Bryant case had sex with three men in three days -- we all know now that was absolutely false -- but once it gets put into a court of law, the media runs with it. We beat the victim up, beat her and beat her.

And, then, what I fear is going to happen, someone's going to say, here, how about you have a few bucks? Someone is going to offer her some money, as happened in the Kobe Bryant case, for her to take a dive. That's not justice. That's corruption. That's a two-tiered system, where the rich people walk free. The poor ones go to jail. I'm disgusted that that...


ZAHN: All right. But, Jayne, Jayne, what...


MURPHY: ... what is going on this case.

ZAHN: What -- do you see a deal like that being cut down the road? What -- what would be the incentive if these -- if these defense attorneys continue to say these young men had nothing to do with any rape of this accuser?

WEINTRAUB: Well, those are two different questions.

I mean, Paula, they are maintaining their clients' innocence, because they're -- they're defense lawyers, and they're the advocates for their clients. And they believe in their clients' innocence. However, the manner...

ZAHN: Do you see them cutting a deal down the road?

WEINTRAUB: No, I don't. The manner -- no, I don't think that they will cut a deal. I think that this is an all-or-nothing kind of a case, because, for these boys, and I think for the young lady, it's going to be an all-or-nothing.

For the boys, they have their whole careers and their lives ahead of them. They're athletes. They have been humiliated, and they want to vindicate themselves in a court of law. And that's where they all need to be.

They need gag orders in place for both sides.


WEINTRAUB: Remember, it's the accuser's family that's causing a lot of the media spin, Wendy. It's her father that is...


WEINTRAUB: ... getting out and there and making statements, like...

MURPHY: Oh, get out of here.

WEINTRAUB: ... she actually told me...

MURPHY: Please.

WEINTRAUB: She told me...

MURPHY: Oh, every day, there's a...

WEINTRAUB: Let me finish.

MURPHY: ... dog-and-pony show from one defense attorney... WEINTRAUB: She told me...

MURPHY: ... after the next.

WEINTRAUB: She told me that there was a broomstick. That is what we heard two days ago.

MURPHY: Yes, because why?

WEINTRAUB: Well, you know what, Wendy? Wait.

ZAHN: Hang on. Hang on.

WEINTRAUB: If there was a broomstick...

ZAHN: Jayne, finish quickly...

WEINTRAUB: ... and the police didn't...

ZAHN: And I have got to give Wendy a chance to fill in.

WEINTRAUB: I'm sorry?

ZAHN: Just finish your thought, real quickly, and then I will let Wendy jump in.

WEINTRAUB: If there was a broomstick, and the police didn't look for a broomstick in the search warrant, case is over, ladies. That's it, because she didn't tell truth.

ZAHN: All right.


WEINTRAUB: ... everybody needs to focus on the evidence.


ZAHN: Wendy, you get the last word tonight.

MURPHY: The reason the father spoke out is because there were so many lies about how the absence of DNA meant the case was over and done with.

I will tell you something. We don't know what's in that DNA report, because the defense attorneys spun it, but refused to give up the copy of it...

WEINTRAUB: There were plenty of convictions before DNA.

MURPHY: ... so we could see.

But, look it, the point is, there's likely to be stuff in there the defense doesn't like, which is why they wouldn't hand it over to us. And, by May 15, if we hear there were date rape drugs in her blood, and the broomstick was recovered with her DNA on it... WEINTRAUB: It doesn't mean that these...

MURPHY: ... this case is over...

WEINTRAUB: ... boys...


MURPHY: ... for the defense. That's what they're afraid of. May 15...


WEINTRAUB: It doesn't mean that they're ones who...


ZAHN: All right, you two. We have got to leave it there. Consider yourselves booked on May 15, all right?


ZAHN: You have got a date for 8:00 p.m.

MURPHY: We will be here.

ZAHN: Wendy Murphy, Jayne Weintraub, thank you for both of your perspectives tonight.

WEINTRAUB: Good night.

MURPHY: You bet.

ZAHN: It turns out 18 million of you went to our Web site today.

Now our countdown of the top 10 stories on

Here is number 10. The Associated Press says -- you know this woman -- Rosie O'Donnell is coming back to daytime TV, replacing Meredith Vieira, who's taking over for Katie Couric at "The Today Show." Can you follow all that? Stay tuned in the fall. It will all make sense to you.

Number nine on the countdown -- the new controversy over the national anthem sung in Spanish -- much more on that and what the president has to say about that, plus numbers seven and eight on our countdown, straight ahead.


ZAHN (voice-over): Boiling point -- singing our national anthem in Spanish.


ZAHN: It strikes a sour note with the president. It's meant to honor immigrants, but does it dishonor the country?

And the "Eye Opener" -- what would mom say? Amazing, outrageous videos of young girls in an all-out street brawl, and one parent actually cheering them on. Why are girls getting more violent?

All that and more when we come back.



ZAHN: Lots of bizarre things happened this week, but have you heard about this incredible murder case? A Catholic nun dies in what looks like a satanic ritual. The accused killer is a priest. Coming up, why would did it take 26 years to try him?

But, first, some new worries about world peace are pushing oil prices even higher. Crude oil is up nearly $1 a barrel today, at $71.80, because of new jitters over Iran's nuclear program. Experts say oil could hit $80 a barrel, if the standoff continues.

Record prices, of course, mean record profits. Today, Chevron, the nation's number-two oil company, posted a first-quarter profit of $4 billion. And, as we head into the weekend, the average price of gas is $2.93 a gallon for self-serve regular. That's about 60 cents a gallon higher than at this time last year.

Now, of course, prices very from state to state. The red states are the most expensive ones. We will show this map several times this week, and, surprise, there happen to be more green states today than earlier in the week, where gas is less expensive. And, of course, New Yorkers are very jealous of that.

Now, oil prices have made driving hard enough, but getting around may be even harder on Monday. A new round of demonstrations for immigration reform are supposed to clog the streets of cities all over the country.

And, just as that debate is heating up once again, the story is number nine on our countdown. A music company has put out a Spanish-language version of our country's national anthem. Would you learn it, or would you even sing it? Even President Bush says no.

And, as John Zarrella reports, the song's very existence has people at the boiling point tonight.


UNIDENTIFIED MALES AND FEMALES (singing): O say, does that star- spangled banner yet wave?

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Does it make a difference whether the national anthem is sung in English...


ZARRELLA: ... or in Spanish?


ZARRELLA: ... with different lyrics like, "in fierce combat, the sign of victory, the struggle a'blazing at the sight of liberty"?

It appears to be making a big difference. The notion of a Spanish version is raising so much controversy, even the president weighed in.

QUESTION: Mr. President, a cultural question for you: There is a version of the national anthem in Spanish now. Do you believe it will hold the same value if sung in Spanish as in English?

BUSH: No, I don't. I think the national...

QUESTION: Why is that?

BUSH: Because I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English. And they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English.

ZARRELLA: The song, called "Nuestro Himno," or "Our Anthem," features Latin pop artists and Haitian-American star, Wyclef Jean. Its release is timed to coincide with Congress' return to Washington next week and the renewal of the debate over immigration reform.

Adam Kidron, president of the company that handled the project, says it's definitely meant to send a message.

ADAM KIDRON, URBAN BOX OFFICE: We're trying to give the undocumented immigrants a real expression of patriotism.

ZARRELLA: It has not only sent a message. It's hit a nerve.

NEAL BOORTZ, TALK RADIO HOST: What do you think about this new Spanish-language national anthem?

ZARRELLA: Neal Boortz, a conservative radio talk show host, is outraged.

BOORTZ: They have already published magazine articles in Mexico saying, Los Angeles is ours. Now our national anthem is theirs, also?

ZARRELLA: In New York, the epitome of this nation's melting-pot culture, there was, as you might expect, a mix of opinion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's great. OK. Where -- where can I hear it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm torn, because my parents are immigrants.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's about America, so, I think it's -- you know, it should be in English.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We should keep it as is.

ZARRELLA: The producers say it's everybody's song. Critics say everybody should sing it in English.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami.


ZAHN: All right, one more think about the producer of the Spanish-language national anthem: As I think you discovered from hearing him early on, no mistaking the fact that he's British. And he is pretty darn upset about President Bush's criticism.

A few hours ago, he said his song is intended to give immigrants who haven't learned English yet a chance to fully understand the American flag and the ideals of freedom it represents.

Coming up: a sensational week of testimony in a dramatic murder trial. A Catholic priest is accused of killing a nun in what could be a satanic ritual. What was this week's most gripping testimony? What were the most dramatic twists? You will see in just a minute.

And would you hit the roof if your daughter started fighting in the street? Check this out. And why are some parents actually encouraging it and cheering on from the sidelines?

First, though, we move on to number eight on the countdown -- coming soon to London, porn stars starring on stage as part of a new reality show, offering them their big chance in the theater. The TV's show title, "My Bare Lady." Oh, it will just be a matter of time before that comes here, I guess.

Number seven, a landscape architect's group unveils a green roof on its building in Washington, D.C. Covering the roof with plants can help cool a building, filter air, and save water. It looks pretty nice, too -- numbers six and five still ahead.


ZAHN: Today, in an Ohio courtroom, more stunning details emerged in the bloody, ritualistic killing of a nun. Sister Margaret Ann Pahl was stabbed and strangled to death back in 1980, on the day before Easter. For two decades, the crime wasn't solved. Well, now the Reverend Gerald Robinson, a chaplain at the hospital and one of the two priests who presided over the murdered nun's funeral mass, is on trial.

Senior correspondent Allan Chernoff reports on the end of a sensational week of testimony in which the prosecution recreated a mysterious crime more than a quarter century old. It's tonight's "Outside The Law."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Because there's no one who actually saw the murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl 26 years ago, prosecutors have to rely on physical evidence, as they try to prove that Father Gerald Robinson is guilty. Robinson was the chaplain of Mercy Hospital in Toledo, Ohio. Sister Pahl was in charge of the hospital chapel. And that's where her body was found on April 5, 1980.

In court this week, the prosecution used props to illustrate the crime, a mannequin to demonstrate how Sister Pahl was stabbed 31 times, nine times over her heart in a bizarre seemingly ritualistic pattern.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's approximately this position, which would make the cross upside down across her chest.

SISTER MADELYN MARIE GORDON: And her legs were together. Her arms were down by her side. Her head was in alignment.

CHERNOFF: An altar cloth covered part of Sister Pahl's body. The prosecution attempted to link holes in the cloth with the suspected murder weapon, a letter opener discovered in the Father Robinson's office after the murder.

Members of the jury, over half of whom say they consider themselves Christian, listened to one of the world's top forensic experts, Paulette Sutton.

PAULETTE SUTTON, REGIONAL FORENSIC CENTER, MEMPHIS, TN: If another object made it, it would had to have been basically the same shape, the same size, in the same configuration.

CHERNOFF: There was more. A coroner testified the holes in the cloth lined up perfectly with wounds on Sister Pahl's body, and the letter opener matched both the holes and the wounds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a perfect fit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you state your name for the record?


CHERNOFF: Dr. Henry Lee, the key forensic's expert in the O.J. Simpson trial, was brought into the courtroom to convince the jury that even the blood stains found on the altar cloth could be linked to the letter opener. He stopped short of giving a definitive answer.

LEE: I cannot come here to tell you this pattern is produced exactly by this. I only can say, similar to.

CHERNOFF: There were no forensic DNA tests back in 1980 when the murder was committed, but these blood stains and other DNA evidence on the nun's body were tested when the case was reopened in 2004. Prosecutors took another look at Father Robinson after his name surfaced in a different crime investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's stain one and then stain two.

CHERNOFF: But in what could be a setback for the prosecution, experts testified that there was nothing to link DNA found at the crime scene with Father Robinson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The DNA that was tested and compared to Father Robinson, he's not on.


BETH KARAS, COURT TV: In order for the prosecution to prevail in this case, they are going to have to convince 12 jurors that Father Robinson took his letter opener from his quarters and basically ambushed this nun and killed her in what appears to be a ritualistic manner.

CHERNOFF: Among those who are closely following the trial is Lee Pahl, Sister Pahl was his aunt.

LEE PAHL, RELATIVE OF VICTIM: It's all up to the jury how they interpret everything. I thought it went pretty well for the prosecution. The expert witnesses they brought in, I think they have done really a good job so far.

CHERNOFF: Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.


ZAHN: And there is one more thing to add. The prosecution is expected to bring in another 12 witnesses before resting its case and Father Gerald Robinson, if convicted, could get life in prison.

We have some pictures for you, something you think parents would be too embarrassed to admit. Would you stand by and watch your daughter fighting like this in the street? What is wrong with these kids? And with their parents who in some cases are cheering them on?

And this guy has been going to college since his classmates were second graders. What's his excuse for stretching four years into 12? You'll meet him.

But right now No. 6 in our countdown, one of our top stories, the accuser in the Duke rape case filed a report 10 years ago alleging that three people had raped her when she was 14. The case was never pursued.

No. 5, President Bush says no to taxing oil companies' record profits, as gas prices hover near $3 a gallon. The president says big oil should spend the money on research into alternative fuel. The countdown continues in just a minute.


ZAHN: Still ahead in this half hour, meet this guy. He is the guy who gives new meaning to the term professional student. How long has he been going to college? How about trying 12 years? Who's paying? And did he ever earn a degree?

And then coming up at the top of the hour on "LARRY KING LIVE," a controversial movie, "Flight 93," the plane that crashed on 9/11 after the passengers fought back. What do victims' families think of the film, which is painfully realistic?

Here is what is happening at this moment. A brand new terrorist tape tonight, the second one so far this week. This time al Qaeda Deputy Leader Ayman al-Zawahari is telling his followers that insurgents in Iraq have, quote, "broken the back of America."

The Army is now charging the highest ranking officer yet in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, a lieutenant colonel who headed the interrogation of detainees is now facing seven charges and could spend 42 years in prison if convicted of all of them.

There is word tonight out of California that former major league relief pitcher Steve Howe has died in a traffic accident. You might remember he was a 1980 rookie of the year. He helped the Dodgers win the World Series, but his promising career was cut short by addiction problems. Steve Howe was 48.

In tonight's "Eye Opener," every parents's instinct is to try to protect our children, to try to keep them out of harm's way. So why would a parent willingly stand by and watch a child get beaten up? Well, right now you are about to see some amazing video of girls fighting and punching each other with parents right there and incredibly actually egging them on.

Ted Rowlands reports on what some say is a very disturbing new trend.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This cell phone video of two girls fighting is hard to see, but it's the audio that's most disturbing. The father of one of the girls is not only watching the fight, but he can be heard coaching his daughter. The video was taken at a boys and girls club in Palm Springs, California.

This is another girl versus girl fight recorded in Fresno, California, again a parent in this case, a mother is watching. The video of this fight goes on for almost seven minutes. The mother of the other girl, who is clearly losing the fight, says she was horrified to find out that a parent was there and didn't step in.

DIANE THROWER, MOTHER: I could not believe that the mother was actually there helping her daughter fight my daughter.

ROWLANDS: Roseland Wiseman who wrote the book "Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads," says you would be surprised at how many parents actually encourage their children to fight.

ROSELAND WISEMAN, AUTHOR: I know it sounds crazy, but they really feel that they're teaching their children to stand up for themselves, that they're protecting their child from something that has happened to them that's not fair, that they think there's -- you know, that people are out basically to get them.

ROWLANDS: Terry Paulson is a Los Angeles-area psychologist and author of "Can I Have the Keys to the Car?"

TERRY PAULSON, PSYCHOLOGIST/AUTHOR: We have become more concerned about being their friend than we are being a parent, where you provide the structure.

ROWLANDS: Females fighting, which years ago was usually only seen in B Hollywood movies or as comic relief, is now, some say, becoming part of mainstream culture. Some experts think this is making girls more open to fighting in the schoolyard.

In Chicago, where a 2003 high school hazing incident involving girls received national attention, more than 500 girls have been disciplined for fighting this school year alone, up 30 percent from last year.

JAMES GARBARINO, AUTHOR: In the past, you might have said to your girl, girls don't hit, and be able to back that up with what you saw in the larger culture. Today that's simply not true. It's not true. Girls do hit, and they can see evidence of that, so that they are being given permission.

ROWLANDS: But not everyone agrees that female fighting has actually increased.

MIKE MALES, UNIV. OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA CRUZ: There's very little statistical evidence that we've seen more violence among girls. In fact they seem to be safer and less violent today than in the past.

ROWLANDS: Whether it is on the rise or not, many experts do agree that the appetite to watch girls fighting is very real. DVDS like the "World's Wildest Chick Fights" are available at video stores. Clips of girls fighting are also available on the Internet.

The Fresno video of the two girls fighting was posted on the popular teen web site The mother on that video is now the subject of a criminal investigation. Police say she may be charged with felony child endangerment.

Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.


ZAHN: Incredible to believe she just stood there like that. According to "The Chicago Sun Times," 25 years ago one girl was arrested on assault charges for every 25 boys. Now, get this, experts are confirming that it is now about one girl for every four boys.


ZAHN: "LARRY KING LIVE" coming up in just about 16.3 minutes.

Hi, Larry, how are you tonight?

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: How are you Paula? But I'm a little wiped out, because I saw "United 93" this morning.

ZAHN: Oh, you did? I hear it's just devastating.

KING: It's one of the most intense -- maybe the most intense movie every made. I don't know what word -- spectacular, it's incredible. I know a lot of people don't want to see it, and I understand that. And we're going to do a whole show on it tonight with relatives of the victims and actors from the movie. It's quite an experience. But have you seen it?

ZAHN: I have not, but as disturbing as my friends tell me it is, I want to see it. And I will understand why some of the family members you'll be speaking to tonight are adamantly opposed to doing that.

But I guess what I understand is the most amazing thing about this film is how these actors so accurately portray what went on in that plane, and more importantly, wasn't one of the air traffic controllers, the guy who was actually on duty, is one of the chief characters in the movie, right?

KING: In fact, the star of the movie would be the head of the whole air traffic control system. It was his first day on the job. And he was the one that ordered all planes down, no planes to land or take off anywhere in the United States and Canada. It was his decision, and he played himself. And he was terrific.

I think it's a great movie. I'm looking forward to tonight.

ZAHN: All right. Well, you have a good show. We will be watching. And you can recover this weekend, Larry, take a couple days off. See you Monday night.


ZAHN: Thanks. Not like I am his boss or anything.

But did you get through college in four years? We have found someone who is taking a little bit longer than that. He started back in 1994. What has he been doing for the past 12 years? I want to know who's paying for it.

Now, though, No. 4 on the countdown, the judge who added a coded message to his ruling in "The Da Vinci Code" copyright case says a London lawyer has cracked the code. The message, Jackie Fisher who are you Dreadnought, concerns a British Navy admiral from the 19th century. OK, I didn't know that.

No. 3, an amber alert in Indiana ends with a mother and daughter reuniting after police shoot and kill the father who was trying to flee with the 2-year-old girl. The man was spotted at a restaurant before a police chase led to the shooting.

No. 2 in the countdown, straight ahead.


ZAHN: All right. If you're looking forward to a laid back weekend, maybe even some intellectual stimulation, perhaps an escape from the real world, well look no further than this. Johnny Lechner is living that life for the past 12 years. He's been a student at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater since 1994. How long do you think this was going to take?

Well, here's Heidi Collins with tonight's "What Are They Thinking?"


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Tens of thousands of college kids put on their caps and gowns, among them will be a one of a kind student who's made a career out of being in college. This is Johnny Lechner. He could be the most educated under grad in the world. Johnny is in his senior year for the eighth year in a row. It may sound like the plot of a funny movie, but unlike Will Ferrell in "Old School," Johnny's not acting.

You might say Johnny's on the 12-year college plan, staying year after year after year and postponing the real world as long as financially possible.

When Johnny was a freshman at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater, it was 1994. Internet and e-mail hadn't yet arrived. Now Johnny's 29 and attached to his cell phone. His classmates, though, have graduated, taken jobs, gotten married, had kids.

(on-camera): Why do you think it's taking you so long to figure out what you want to do?

JOHNNY LECHNER, 12 YEAR COLLEGE STUDENT: I don't think it's so much that I'm taking any longer than like a normal person is to figure things out.

COLLINS: Johnny, it's 12 years of college.

LECHNER: My friends are like, hey man, you're living the dream, keep doing it.

COLLINS (voice over): Johnny's happy to oblige, embracing the college lifestyle with everything he's got. His schedule is packed with cook outs, frisbee and of course women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you doing later?

COLLINS (on-camera): Let's talk about the girls. You're 29, freshman girl comes in, she's 18, are you going and getting phone numbers?

LECHNER: I'll be out with my friends and, you know, there will be a beautiful 18, 19, 20-year-old girls that will kind of be throwing themselves at me, but, you know, I don't date girls that aren't at least 21. As far as older women, I mean, I don't have the most selection unless I was going to date somebody who was in the real world, and, I mean, that's frightening.

COLLINS (voice over): You might think a professional student would take inspiration from scenes like these in the classic comedy "Animal House." He does. But that's not to say Johnny doesn't study. He has a respectable 3.0 GPA.

LECHNER: We have a lot of fun. But at the same time I'm telling you, I'm very serious about my studies.

COLLINS: Johnny's earliest class starts at 2:15.

LECHNER: I am that kind of guy who likes to just kind of wake up when the sun finally wakes you up. And if that's 12 o'clock noon, that's fine. If it's 7:00, that's fine, too.

COLLINS: His illustrious career has made him a bit of celebrity, making headlines and guest appearances on several TV shows. He even has a web site, on it, a countdown clock to graduation, $10 T-shirts and a link to pay pal so friends and fans can donate to his college fund.

(on-camera): What's the most money you have ever gotten from somebody?

LECHNER: A $20 donation.

COLLINS (voice over): But not everyone on campus supports his 12-year plan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that the whole thing that he's doing is ridiculous, wasting so much money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most people just make fun of him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's a nice guy, but I think he needs a little reality check.

COLLINS (on-camera): Some people say you're a loser, I mean, you've been there for 12 years, it's pathetic?

LECHNER: You know what? It's a liberal college. I'm a liberal person. You know, if other people have a problem with it, you know, it's like, well, who cares? You know, don't you have something better to be worried about?

COLLINS (voice over): When he graduates in two weeks, he will have a triple major, a triple minor and a total of nearly 300 class credits, more than double the number needed. But even so, Johnny says he would stay one more year if he could only raise the money.

(on-camera): What are you afraid of?

LECHNER: I don't want to graduate and then a couple years after the fact look back and be like, why didn't I just go another year? I'm seriously having such a great time and I am so happy with where I'm at and my lifestyle and the friends I'm hanging out with. If I could figure out a way to not have to graduate, I would do it. I just need a miracle.

COLLINS: You're freaking out?

LECHNER: I know, I am.


ZAHN: Hey, Johnny, I've got news for you, I don't think you missed much of anything. That report from Heidi Collins.

One more thing, to discourage other students from following in Johnny's footsteps, the Wisconsin Board of Regents recently passed a law tacking on hefty surcharges for in-state students like Johnny who exceed the required number of credits, some calling it Johnny's law. As for Johnny, he turns 30 later this year, plans to write a book about his very long college experience, which of course means those $25 donations will probably dry up. Good luck, Johnny.

No. 2 on or countdown, a man cleared of murder, thanks to DNA testing dies in a hit-and-run crash in Chicago. Dan Young Jr. was released from prison last year after 12 years behind bars.

When we come back, find out why Air Force One figures into the top story in the a countdown. Stay with us.


ZAHN: It's looks so civil out there on a nice spring night. Doesn't it? We don't have much traffic out there tonight. I don't know what's going on.

But now onto No. 1 on the countdown. CNN and not Fox is now playing on TV monitors on Air Force One. This after a "Washington Post" reporter traveling to cover the president's trip to New Orleans complained that his request to have monitors switched from Fox had been denied.

That wraps it up for all of us here tonight. Thanks so much for being with us. We hope you have a really nice weekend. And we hope you will be back with us again Monday night. Good night.


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