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Court to Hear Oral Arguments on Anna Nicole Burial
Aired February 27, 2007 - 20:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Breaking news tonight, bombshell order by a Florida appeals court, the clock ticking down on a legal battle over covergirl Anna Nicole Smith. Just hours ago, a Florida court gives one more chance to the battling mom, the boyfriend and the lawyer. Oral argument set for 9:30 tomorrow morning, that emergency stay by Smith`s own mother, who wants her girl buried in Texas. All the while, Anna Nicole Smith`s body still lies at a Florida morgue under tight security.
And tonight, a 16-year-old straight-A student, really just a little girl, found thrown away like garbage on a busy street. Months pass, no witnesses, no clues. I don`t believe it! Somebody saw something, and it only takes one tip to crack a case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A woman looking out of her apartment window always looks to make sure the trash men take all of her trash. Well, that morning, she was looking out the window at 7:00 AM, and the trash man goes to lift up one of the garbage bags, and it`s too heavy, so the trash man leaves it there. This woman comes down from her apartment. She wanted to separate it into three separate bags to make it lighter so they would take it. And she finds this sweet little girl in this bag, stuffed in there like trash. Sickening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These were double-bagged or triple-bagged. And I actually have in my hand right now a bag similar to what she might have been found in, a black industrial-sized garbage bag.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody wanted her disposed of so nobody would ever know anything about this little girl.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The act is so horrific that, you know, we just can`t stand by and just let this go unchallenged and unsolved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Good evening, everybody, I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us tonight.
First, to Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Certainly, that set of circumstances is very distressing. And we`ve been working throughout the past three weeks, everyone involved on the team, to achieve resolution and to ultimately honor Anna Nicole`s wishes to be buried with her son.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a situation that many families become estranged. It was prohibitive to go outside and appoint an outside guardian and then tell that outside guardian to bury the remains of this woman`s child, a child that she raised in a foreign country.
HOWARD K. STERN, ANNA NICOLE`S LAWYER/BOYFRIEND: She was my best friend, my lover, the mother of my daughter. She was everything to me, I mean, literally everything, my whole world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Anna, at the time that she made the decision where he was to be buried, she told us in detail. She wanted to be buried, first of all, in California. But she told us that she could not go back to California at that time to bury him because she was afraid that she would be served with a paternity suit against Larry Birkhead.
LARRY BIRKHEAD, ANNA NICOLE`S FORMER BOYFRIEND: You don`t know how many times I had to help her and to carry her back and forth to make sure she was OK. And sometimes I didn`t even know if she was going to live.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said, Look, look, she said, My birth mother said this about me on CNN. She said, What kind of mother would say that about her daughter?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This mother is a mother who deserves the right to bury the remains of her child. It matters not that they had become estranged over the years. She was a mother, and the trial court treated her as though she were nothing to Anna Nicole Smith.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve studied the law. We are familiar with the entire record in this case. And ultimately, I think that Anna Nicole`s wishes will be honored. It`s frankly heartbreaking, it really is, for all concerned. And we`re just hopeful that there will be resolution and closure for everyone very, very soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Well, don`t count on it. Today a ruling goes down by a Florida appeals court saying tomorrow, one last chance for the battling litigants. At 0930 in the morning, all three have a chance to appear in a Florida courtroom, battling over the remains of this woman, 39-year-old covergirl Anna Nicole Smith. So it ain`t over yet. Not so fast, Howard Stern!
Let`s go down to Court TV`s Jean Casarez. She`s been on the case from the very beginning. Jean, what`s happening?
JEAN CASAREZ, COURT TV: Well, Nancy, tomorrow morning right here in Broward County, the fourth district court of appeals has agreed that they will hear oral arguments on this issue. Both sides have 20 minutes each. That`s right. So Virgie Arthur`s side, 20 minutes of oral arguments. And then the respondents, which are Richard Milstein representing the little baby Dannielynn, and then also Howard Stern, they have to split their 20 minutes. And Nancy, it`s going to be over almost before it`s begun, as far as oral arguments.
GRACE: OK, hold on. Let`s get this straight. Each side has 20 minutes. And tell me who`s arguing?
CASAREZ: On the one side, you`ve got Virgie Arthur, the grandma of baby Dannielynn, the mother, the birth mother, of Anna Nicole Smith. She will have 20 minutes to argue why, under the law, she should have the body of her daughter for proper burial. On the other side, you have the respondents. You have Richard Milstein, who is the guardian ad litem for baby Dannielynn -- he`s representing her interests -- and you`ve got Howard K. Stern, who are both saying, No, actually, the body should go to the next of kin, who is Dannielynn.
GRACE: OK. Now, let me get this straight, Jean. It`s my understanding that one side, Virgie Arthur`s side, is getting the full 20 minutes, but that Milstein and Stern have to split 20 minutes amongst them.
CASAREZ: That`s right.
GRACE: So each side will get 10.
CASAREZ: That`s right. They can divide it any way they want to.
GRACE: Let`s unleash the lawyers. And what an all-star panel we`ve got tonight. First of all, James Neavitt -- this is Howard K. Stern`s attorney joining us -- Michael Cardoza, veteran trial lawyer out of the California jurisdiction, Joe Lawless has had many appellate arguments in the Philadelphia jurisdiction, and probate specialist Jeff Skatoff.
First to you, Lawless. You`ve handled a lot of appellate arguments, as have I. And where I practiced on the lectern, where you`re making this appellate argument, there would be a green light, a yellow light and a red light. Green go, yellow hurry up, red stop. And if you don`t stop your appellate argument in 20 minutes, the bailiff will grab you under your little armpits and drag you away. So they`ve got to stick with 20 minutes.
My question to you, Joe Lawless, is haven`t the judges -- there`s three of them -- already decided what they`re going to do? The oral argument`s really a formality?
JOE LAWLESS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, not necessarily, Nancy. It depends on whether or not you have what they call a hot court or -- that`s read the briefs, or a court that comes in and wants to first hear the oral argument and then go back and look at the legal issues.
If they`re prepared, if they know the record, if they know the facts, they may have some questions that they want answered by the lawyers who are going to be arguing before them. They certainly have not already made up their mind. And it`s certainly going to be a lot more precise a presentation than you`ve seen in front of Judge Seidlin.
GRACE: To you, Michael Cardoza. This is what is often called a paper trial. In other words, this is really a probate matter. You very rarely have testimony and evidence. Long story short, at an appellate court, there are no witnesses, there is no evidence, no state`s exhibit number one. The parties have filed voluminous briefs citing to the evidence and to the law. So this is really just a Q&A with the judges for 20 minutes?
MICHAEL CARDOZA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Certainly. I mean, just like he said, did the judges read the briefs before? I`ve got to think that they`ve already read the briefs because this particular appellate court has the reputation for listening to the argument, then going out for about 20, 30 minutes and coming back with a decision, unlike other appellate courts, who go out and months, weeks, days later, come back with a decision. So I look for a decision tomorrow from this particular court. And I would bet the judges will...
GRACE: And, hey, Michael?
CARDOZA: Yes, Nancy?
GRACE: Here are the judges. These are the three appellate judges. You`ve got Stone, Shahood, and Polen. Actually, one of them was on the bench, the bench that delivered Cohen versus Cohen. Explain the significance, Jeff Skatoff.
JEFFREY H. SKATOFF, WILL AND PROBATE ATTORNEY: Oh, sure. The Cohen case, which is binding authority in Broward County where the trial took place, indicates that the trial court has the authority to order where a body is to be buried in the event that members of the family have a dispute. So some people looking at this case feel that Judge Seidlin should have directed that the body be buried in the Bahamas, based on Anna Nicole`s clear intent, if that`s where she wanted to be buried.
GRACE: And to you -- James Neavitt is joining us tonight. He is one of Howard K. Stern`s attorneys. You know, Mr. Neavitt -- thank you for being with us -- I understand that you are working on the paternity issue, not so much the custody of Anna Nicole`s body. But the reality is, tomorrow`s a doubleheader. There are two court hearings tomorrow, the appellate case over the remains of Anna Nicole Smith, who`s still sitting at the morgue, and a paternity hearing, right?
JAMES NEAVITT, ATTORNEY FOR HOWARD K. STERN: Actually, it`s a tripleheader. Tomorrow is the appellate thing you`re dealing with right now, talking about, and second, there`s another hearing in Florida that you alluded to. And then thirdly, I have briefs that are due tomorrow in regards to the paternity action in California, which is being heard on March the 13th.
GRACE: Now, there`s also the issue, James Neavitt, of what we call domesticating the California order. In California, there was an order for a DNA test. And I understand it`s going to be domesticated or put in force in Florida?
NEAVITT: That`s what they`re trying to do.
GRACE: And you think?
NEAVITT: I don`t think that`s going to happen. I don`t think they have jurisdiction in Florida in the court. In Florida, the family law court indicated that, unless something has changed in his thinking since the last time he was on the record. And I think this thing -- and they`ve filed their paternity case in the Bahamas now, so they`re where they need to be, where we told them to go all along.
GRACE: Also with us tonight, a renowned pathologist, Dr. Joshua Perper. You know, you just can`t learn enough from him. Largely because of Dr. Perper, Anna Nicole`s body has been embalmed, as it should have been, to preserve it, and he has her remains under tight security at the medical examiner`s office.
Dr. Perper, as you see these legal proceedings, these legal wranglings going on -- every day, there`s a new set of lawyers, on last count 18, now I think it`s up to about 27 lawyers -- does that dismay you in any way?
DR. JOSHUA PERPER, BROWARD COUNTY MEDICAL EXAMINER: No, it doesn`t dismay me because legal proceedings sometimes are very intricate and complicated. You know, the law doesn`t have heart (ph), but the judges do. So I expect that the appellate court will make a wise and compassionate decision.
GRACE: Take a listen -- speaking of paternity -- to Larry Birkhead.
PERPER: I`m sorry?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How has your weekend been since all the craziness of last week?
BIRKHEAD: I don`t even know it`s the weekend because I haven`t slept, so I`m just kind of -- I had to ask Megan (ph) what day it was today, you know, where are we going next, what -- you know, so it`s just kind of -- it`s just a whirlwind. I got mobbed at the airport when I came in and...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell me about that. You flew commercial?
BIRKHEAD: Flew commercial. I came in, and I didn`t even know anybody -- it was a last-minute thing. I booked the tickets, like, an hour before we took off, and no one could have known that I was coming. And I get to the airport, and just everybody`s just rushed me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Florida?
BIRKHEAD: Here in the Bahamas...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the Bahamas.
BIRKHEAD: ... as soon as I got -- which is even crazier. I thought, you know, maybe in Florida, but away from the court action. But apparently, everybody`s here waiting for something.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you had some time alone just to kind of think or...
BIRKHEAD: Not really. And maybe sometimes that`s a better thing, you know, with what`s going on, but it`s just really all surreal to me. It`s hard to even think that Anna`s not here anymore, and even Daniel, I was thinking today. And I think because the images are still so constant on the television and everywhere and everybody`s talking about it, it just really hasn`t hit me, and I haven`t had time to really grieve.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has it hit you at all practically that you`ll never see her again?
BIRKHEAD: I`ve thought about it, and I don`t think it`s really going to hit me until I have my daughter and I look around and see that she`s not there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Also tonight, we go live to the Bahamas. Standing by, former fed with the FBI, Mike Brooks. On your end, Mike, what`s happening? Is there any end in sight?
MIKE BROOKS, FORMER D.C. POLICE, SERVED ON FBI TERRORISM TASK FORCE: Not right now, Nancy. You know, we were talking Larry Birkhead. Yesterday, when he showed up for the hearing at court, he was like a rock star, Nancy. When he showed up, the locals here in Nassau, they were hollering and cheering. He says, That`s the man. He`s the man. That`s the father. I mean, the word on the street down here, all the Bahamians I`ve spoken to, Nancy, they think that he is the father, and they treat him like a rock star. But so far down here...
GRACE: Hold on, Mike Brooks. Mike, Mike...
GRACE: Did I just hear you say, the word on the street is that he`s the man -- he`s "the" man, in other words, he is the biological father?
BROOKS: He`s the man.
GRACE: You know, Mike Brooks, I really appreciate that, but that is not going to be admissible in a court of law, the word on the street. Give me something concrete, Brooks.
BROOKS: We`ll find out soon, as soon as that paternity hearing, as soon as they come back in March...
GRACE: Mike! Mike!
BROOKS: ... we may find out that he is the man.
GRACE: I know...
BROOKS: But that remains to be seen.
GRACE: ... we`ll find out soon. But I want to know what`s happening tonight in the Bahamas. What can you tell me about the break-in? What can you tell me about reports that Virgie Arthur was granted a visit with Dannielynn tonight? I mean, what`s happening there at the mansion where Stern and the baby are holed up?
BROOKS: Well, right now, Nancy, he`s still in the mansion, and he`s going to stay in the mansion until they have that ownership hearing again in mid-March. But investigations, as they -- the hearings continue in March, in Miami, I should say, the investigations down here continue.
I talked to a source close to all the investigations today, Nancy, and they are proceeding with that public corruption and bribery investigation against Shane Gibson. And that also involves Howard K. Stern because there`s allegations that, allegedly, Howard K. Stern gave Shane Gibson, who is the former immigration and labor minister here in the Bahamas -- gave him a very expensive Rolex watch and possibly some cash for fast-tracking the immigration application for Anna Nicole Smith.
Now, the police down here are taking that very seriously, and they plan on talking to Howard K. Stern, as well as some of the nannies that worked in the mansion and other people in and around Anna Nicole and Howard K. Stern.
GRACE: Brooks, Brooks, thank you for the update on the Rolex watch. Has Virgie Arthur -- have you seen her go in or out of the Bahamas mansion where the baby and Stern are holed up? If so, that could actually be -- don`t you get it -- a break in the legal case? If the parties are cooperating, if they`re allowing visitation, if they`re working together, we may see a settlement. That`s what I`m driving at, Mike.
BROOKS: I hear what you`re driving at, Nancy. I myself have not seen that. Some people down here have said that Virgie Arthur met with the baby, but we haven`t been able to independently confirm that here on the island. But my sources are telling me that there possibly could be a deal in the works. But again, nothing firm. And we can`t -- we`re not able to confirm that ourselves by CNN.
GRACE: Very quickly, out to the lines. Maria in California. Hi, Maria.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. Thank you for taking my call.
GRACE: Yes, ma`am. What`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I have a brief comment. First of all, I think all three parties are selfish and greedy. And my question is -- the worst one, in my opinion, is the mother. She is the mother who supposedly loves her daughter. She should be able to bury her with the son and leave it at that, and then fight for it.
And the other question, my one question is, where is she getting all this money? Is she getting it from Splash? Where is she getting the money for the limousine rides, for the trips to the Bahamas? Where is she getting the money for this highfalutin` lawyer?
GRACE: You know what? I`ve been wondering the same thing, not just about her, but you`ve got Stern, who stated under oath that his parents were supporting him before he began representing Anna Nicole full-time. You`ve got Virgie Arthur, and then you have Birkhead, the photographer, who`s seemingly not working right now. He`s embroiled in this controversy.
To you, Mr. Neavitt. You`re Stern`s attorney. How is he supporting himself, and how is he supporting this giant legal fight, this battle?
NEAVITT: I mean, this was all dropped in his lap. He`s doing what he can do, the best he can financially. I know that. I mean, I charge for my time. I know Mr. Rale charges for his time. And that`s -- he has to deal with it somehow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The record is absolutely undisputed that Ms. Smith`s intentions were that she would be buried with her son. Even Virgie`s own witnesses had to concede that that was the case. She loved this boy. He was the world to her. And we`re just trying everything we can do to return her home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: The legal battle goes on regarding not only the remains of Anna Nicole Smith -- yes, this many days later, she is still at the morgue -- as well as paternity of the 5-month-old baby girl, Dannielynn, that stands to inherit $475 million.
Let`s go out to Jean Casarez. Jean, what can you tell us about a possible visit between Virgie Arthur and the baby, the baby who is under the custody of Howard Stern? Bitter enemies in court.
CASAREZ: You better believe it. But you know what? Yesterday in court in the Bahamas -- and we were not allowed in, no one is -- but we spoke with the attorneys afterwards, and they told us that one of the issues brought up by Virgie`s attorney to the judge in the Bahamas was, Your Honor, my client, the grandmother of Dannielynn, can`t even see her granddaughter. And we want that. Please help us. It`s not a legal issue on the record in that court, but I think that could have precipitated a meeting that everybody seems to be talking about is occurring actually tonight.
GRACE: Let`s go out to the lines. Shelly in New York. Hi, Shelly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Thank you for taking my call.
GRACE: Yes, dear.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was wondering, since it seems so apparent that Anna Nicole wanted nothing to do with her mother, is there anything she could have done when she was alive to, in essence, legally disown her so that her mother could make no claim as next of kin?
GRACE: You mean, like when a child emancipates itself?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can get rid of a husband (INAUDIBLE) get rid of a mother.
GRACE: You know, that`s an excellent question. I`ve never encountered that, but maybe Skatoff has the answer. With us, probate expert Jeff Skatoff. Is that possible? I think you can do it in the context of a will, totally cut someone out?
SKATOFF: In Anna Nicole`s will, in fact, she did cut out her mother and all of her other relatives from inheriting. But the problem is that under Florida law, the person who gets to bury you is your next of kin, and I don`t think you can cut out or decide who your next of kin in is in your will. But you can say where you want to be buried in your will, and that direction would normally be followed. That`s what she didn`t do but she should have done.
GRACE: Out to Lillian Glass (ph), psychologist and author. Dr. Glass, thank you for being with us. At this juncture, a simple meeting between grandmother and granddaughter -- it could indicate a thawing between the parties and an end to all of this.
LILLIAN GLASS, PSYCHOLOGIST: Absolutely. It could really help her heal from her estranged relationship with Anna Nicole. So by her seeing the baby, it can help her heal, as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Virgie is inappropriately applying a funeral director liability statute to entitle her to Anna Nicole`s body, rather than the ordinary common law, where next of kin is entitled to the body, namely Dannielynn.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This mother is a mother who deserves the right to bury the remains of her child. It matters not that they had become estranged over the years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Welcome back. The battle goes on, but it all may come to a head tomorrow morning. At 0930, an appellate court of three gentlemen will hear arguments over the remains of Anna Nicole Smith`s body.
Out to the lines. Brenda in South Carolina. Hi, Brenda.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Nancy. How are you?
GRACE: I`m good, dear. What`s your question?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She has four other children, as I understand, and I`m just wondering why none of those children are there to support her.
GRACE: OK. Who has four other children?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Virgie.
GRACE: You know what? I believe she does have several other children. Have we seen them, Jean Casarez? I think Brenda`s got a point.
CASAREZ: No, she does. We heard a lot about them in testimony right here in Broward County and how the relationships between them had always been good. But we have not seen them at all here, or in Nassau, Bahamas, where I just came back from.
GRACE: Let`s go back out to the lawyers. You know, Michael Cardoza, the body count -- as in number of lawyers -- is rising. And could you explain to us why you`ve got to have local counsel to make this appellate argument tomorrow morning?
CARDOZA: Well, I`m not sure you have to have local counsel, they just happened to choose...
GRACE: You have to be admitted into the bar in that jurisdiction.
GRACE: You have to be admitted into the bar in that jurisdiction.
CARDOZA: Right, but you can come in from out of state, from out of county, and do that, unless they have some rule I don`t know about there. But I`ll tell you what. This Judge Seidlin, in my opinion -- I call him Judge Fonzie -- he made the right decision in this case, and I think it`s...
GRACE: Correction, Michael. Fonzie was cool.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNA NICOLE SMITH, FORMER MODEL: You want to hear my childlife? You want to hear all the things she did to me? You want to hear all the things she let my father do to me, or my brother do to me, or my sister, the beatings, the whippings, the rape? That`s my mother. That`s my mom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want to say to her?
SMITH: I want to say to her, how dare you, (bleep). How dare you. That`s what I want to say. Come after me. Come on, get yours. You know what? I used to cry after you. I used to cry after you, from the day, even when I am a baby girl, I cried for you. And you asked Howard, I cried for my mom. I cry for my mom when I saw her on CNN, and I saw how evil she was and evil she looked. So bring it on, mama, mommy dearest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: That was an interview that was shown in court last week, an interview that Anna Nicole Smith gave to "E.T.," "Entertainment Tonight," back in October. In it, Anna Nicole Smith describes the estrangement between herself and her mom.
Of course, her mom has a very different perception of their relationship, distant, but loving relationship, according to Virgie Arthur. Let`s go out to the lines. Carol in Florida, hi, Carol.
CALLER: Hi, Nancy.
GRACE: What`s your question, dear?
CALLER: On the off chance that Virgie does win tomorrow, and she wants to move Daniel, as well, to Texas, would she then have to go back to court again to win the right to move Daniel`s body, as well?
GRACE: Joe Lawless, out to you. It`s my understanding that absolutely you have to have a court order in order to exhume and move a body.
JOE LAWLESS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, she`d have to have a court order to do it, but Daniel`s buried in the Bahamas. The Florida courts would have no jurisdiction over any such request.
GRACE: Right, she would have to get the order in the Bahamas.
LAWLESS: Right, so that`s highly unlikely that`s going to happen.
GRACE: And luckily she`s in the Bahamas.
To you, Jean Casarez, what is the story behind an alleged alliance between Stern and Birkhead, mortal enemies in the courtroom?
JEAN CASAREZ, COURT TV: Right, a settlement talk is what is being said. Well, we heard the rumors, and then now we`ve seen Larry Birkhead give interviews, as of this morning. And the reports have said that there are settlement talks.
Well, if there are, you know it involves paternity testing, you know it`s going to be very, very specific, like, "You are called Uncle Howard," as time goes on. And I`m sure money enters into all those agreements.
GRACE: Jean, does it boil down to an alleged acceptance of Birkhead as the biological father, where Stern keeps a portion of the estate?
CASAREZ: I think that would make good common sense, Nancy, yes.
GRACE: Out to you, James Neavitt. That`s Stern`s attorney. Do you know anything about a possible settlement?
JAMES NEAVITT, HOWARD K. STERN`S ATTORNEY: No, I don`t know anything about any kind of settlement. That`s something, if it was going on, I couldn`t comment on. And if it`s not going on, you know, I don`t want to stop something from that from happening. So I`m not going to get involved in a discussion about any kind of settlement.
GRACE: Now, with us is James Neavitt. He is Howard Stern`s attorney on paternity. Mr. Neavitt, why didn`t he just allow the baby to be tested? It would have been so simple to test whether the child is biologically Birkhead`s or not.
NEAVITT: Well, I mean, we`ve discussed this before. I`ve said to you that, you know, Howard is the presumed father. He`s on the birth certificate, and Mr. Birkhead has had the opportunity to go to the Bahamas for the last three or four months and could have resolved this.
Now he`s there. He`s filed the appropriate pleadings, from what I understand. And at the proper time, through the court system, the paternity will be determined based on the DNA, if there is a basis for it.
GRACE: Now, back to Jeff Skatoff, probate and wills expert. Jeff, that sound, that interview from Anna Nicole Smith regarding her hatred of her mom, their estrangement, that was played in court. How much does the party`s intent rule over who gets the body when it`s not delineated in the will?
JEFFREY SKATOFF, WILL AND PROBATE ATTORNEY: Well, under Florida law, it should be the next of kin, but that`s unclear under Florida law in the case of a dispute. Can it be an adult child or minor child, in a case like this? And the appellate court has to sort that out.
But what I think the appellate court could also do is to order that the body be buried in the Bahamas next to Daniel, because that was her intent. And I believe that, following their own precedence, they might, in fact, make that order, regardless as to who was the person who actually takes the body to the Bahamas and conducts the burial and funeral.
GRACE: Very quickly to Dr. Lillian Glass. Lillian, it seems like accidental tourist. She was in Florida when she unexpectedly died. Then she was caught in a tourist trap. She couldn`t get out of Florida. Her remains are still there in the morgue. Thank God you`ve got Perper protecting them.
Then she was in the Bahamas, be it a tax decision, a paternity avoidance, I don`t know. But they were in the Bahamas when Daniel suddenly dies unexpectedly, and he gets buried there. Now we`re all assuming she wants the whole family buried in the Bahamas.
DR. LILLIAN GLASS, PSYCHOLOGIST: I know. It`s just so sad. Nancy, what really got me was watching that tape of her, and the vehemence that came out, and the anger, and the accusations she made that were quite serious about her mother. And it really makes you think -- I hope that she gets her wish to be buried next to Marilyn Monroe, which she really wanted to be buried in the first place.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I actually am standing out here right now in front of the place where she was found. This is the building, 212 Kingston. It`s a brown stone building, approximately six floors high. And I actually have in my hand, right now, a bag similar to what she might have been found in, a black industrial-sized garbage bag. It is approximately three feet by four feet. And, honestly, I could fit in this bag in a fetal position.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Won`t you help us tonight? A 16-year-old honor student, really just a little girl, disappears. She`s found thrown away like garbage in a trash bag on a busy neighborhood street. I don`t believe it. I don`t believe nobody saw anything, nobody knows anything. And her parents still tonight wondering what happened to Chanel Petro-Nixon.
These posters, if you walk through the neighborhood, are still up, reminding everyone that this girl went missing. But where are the answers? Let`s go straight out to John Leiberman with "America`s Most Wanted."
John, what can you tell us?
JON LEIBERMAN, CORRESPONDENT, "AMERICA`S MOST WANTED": Well, Nancy, it is an absolute crime on top of a crime that nobody has come forward and said they even saw Chanel the day she disappeared, or anytime between the day she disappeared and four days later when her body showed up. And, unfortunately, all we can report tonight is a lot of frustration.
Look, we have to hold out hope for Chanel`s family, who`s there with you tonight. And police are holding out hope. But this has been a very frustrating investigation. There`s lots of questions; there`s very few answers.
And at the end of the day, we have a precious 16-year-old girl who is stuffed into a garbage bag, put out for the trash man to carry away, and yet nobody says they saw anything that day.
GRACE: That reward tonight up to $27,000 for anyone that can help crack the case of Chanel Petro-Nixon. Do you see this video that we`re showing right now? Here in the studio with me is Lucita Nixon, that is Chanel`s mom.
Elizabeth, could you show that video one more time? I want to show it to her mom. It looks like a graduation. What is that?
LUCITA NIXON, MOTHER OF MURDER VICTIM: That`s an 8th grade graduation.
GRACE: And earlier we were showing some video -- Liz, if you have that, -- of her, it looked like she was in a...
NIXON: Sixth grade prom. Sixth grade prom.
GRACE: Straight-A student. There she is. Never been in any trouble at all, never run away, never stayed out late. No drugs, no alcohol, nothing.
NIXON: Nothing. Nothing.
GRACE: With the months that have passed, what would it mean to you to break the case now? I mean, how would it -- or would it ease your suffering in any way?
NIXON: It would ease my suffering. At least I`ll have closure. I would hopefully know what happened on that day. And that`s very important to me right now, to want -- I need to know what really happened on that day.
From Chanel was born, I protected her until she was 17 years old. And it hurts me to know today that it took one day and I couldn`t help her. And I know she was scared on that day. You know, that`s what hurts. My daughter was scared.
So that hurt me that I wasn`t there, the family wasn`t there to protect her. So I would have a closure to find out what happened on that day.
GRACE: It sounds to me -- and I`m certainly not a shrink, I`m just a trial lawyer -- that you feel somehow like it`s your fault, that that one day you didn`t protect her of all the days, but that`s not true. You do know that, right?
NIXON: Yes, I know that, but I just put myself in her place, knowing that she trusted her family. We were always there for each other. And I just put myself in her place, to -- I could feel that she was scared. You know, she was strangled. At that moment, she was strangled to death, you know? So I know -- so a fear was upon her, and we wasn`t there to help her.
I know God was with her, that I know. And he has promised he will never leave us, nor forsake us. But, still, she`s my daughter, and she`s not here. And, deep down, you know, I just feel I should be there for her.
GRACE: How has all these months that have passed not knowing affected your family? You`re still together with your husband, right?
NIXON: Yes, we`re still together. We take it one day at a time. I know at times, I could tell you honestly, a part of me is like cold. I`m not complete. I feel that I`m not complete; I don`t know if I`ll ever be complete. But I`m trying hard. I`m really trying hard.
GRACE: I want to go out to a very special guest joining us tonight. This is the first person that I knew of that brought attention to the case of Chanel Petro-Nixon, a beautiful 16-year-old girl, an honor student. With me is Andrea Peyser with the "New York Post."
Andrea, I didn`t even know about Chanel until I read your article. What was it about her, Andrea, that made you, with all the things in the world that you write about, write about this little girl?
ANDREA PEYSER, COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK POST": Well, you know, Nancy, this case really got me. This was a period of time -- I don`t know if you remember -- but in New York, girls were showing up, they were getting murdered around the city, and these cases attracted a tremendous amount of attention. Girls were going -- you know, women, really, young women were going to bars, getting trashed, and then getting murdered.
This case, you have a 16-year-old girl, never got in trouble. She left her house, not to go to a bar, but to go on a job interview in broad daylight, in her neighborhood. And then she turned -- you know what happened to her. She ended up in the trash.
And this case has never been solved. It just bothered me to no end that this case did not get the wall-to-wall media attention that the other cases got. This girl did nothing to bring this onto herself, not that any girl asks to be murdered, but this girl was not doing anything. She was looking for a job, for goodness`s sakes. She was such a good girl. And it just broke my heart that this happened.
GRACE: Well, Andrea, I know that your column alerted me and many other people to the case. And because of that, the reward money has gone up, now $27,000.
Let`s show a picture of Chanel Petro-Nixon. There she is. The tip line, toll-free, 800-577-TIPS. I want to go back to John Leiberman with "America`s Most Wanted." What do we know, Jon? What do we know? And this has got to be a male in the neighborhood, someone that either lives there or is frequently there, such as a delivery person, a worker, someone connected to this neighborhood, maybe even connected to her apartment building.
LEIBERMAN: Well, absolutely right, or maybe somebody who knew her. One problem we have is, there`s no clear motive here. Chanel wasn`t sexually assaulted. She wasn`t tortured. She wasn`t bound. Nothing was stolen from her. So we know the motive wasn`t robbery. The motive had nothing to do with sexual assault.
So, unfortunately, there`s a lot of questions. And there`s a lot of time unaccounted for. There`s at least three days where Chanel could have been held hostage somewhere. She could have been taken and locked in a room for a couple of days. We don`t even know where the primary crime scene is. We don`t know where Chanel was killed. All we know is where she was dumped.
So, unfortunately -- you know, we talked about gang initiation, could it be that? Well, at first, police thought maybe it could have been, but in gang initiation, I mean, they do things to the body and other sorts of things like that. But Chanel had no marks on her body whatsoever, except for the strangulation marks.
GRACE: John, was it a ligature or manual strangulation?
LEIBERMAN: It was a ligature. And beyond that, police have asked us not to go into too much detail, because there are some things that only the killer knows. And so, without a lot of physical evidence, without a lot of DNA fingerprints, there`s only a few other things that only the killer would know.
GRACE: To Dr. Lillian Glass, psychologist and author, Lillian, think about it. This is a person not afraid to dispose of this girl`s body, this innocent, on the street, on a public street, where cars were going by, where people were walking by, to put the garbage bag with the girl in the bag, probably in broad daylight out on the street. What does that say psychologically? Help me come up with a profile, Lillian.
GLASS: Yes, this is somebody that`s extremely narcissistic and somebody who feels entitled, like, "Oh, nobody`s going to catch me. I can do whatever I want. I can take her cell phone. I can take her shoes. I can throw her in the garbage. It doesn`t matter. Nobody`s going to get me."
And this is somebody who has a very, very high opinion of himself. And he just feels very entitled, in terms of what he did, extreme narcissism, I would say.
GRACE: Let`s unleash the lawyers. Michael Cardoza, Joe Lawless, both having seen their share of homicide cases from the defense end. To you, Michael Cardoza, it`s a puzzle, the fact that nothing was stolen and no sex assault.
Now, I understand her shoes and her cell phone still missing. What about it, Cardoza?
MICHAEL CARDOZA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I`ll tell you, it makes it very difficult for the police. What is the motive? A lot of police investigators spring off motive. No motive. This is a difficult one, I`m telling you.
You`ve got $27,000 out there. Is that enough money to have someone step forward? Obviously not. Did people witness this? Are they afraid to step forward for some sort of retribution? This is really one of the saddest cases that I`ve heard of. But notwithstanding that...
GRACE: Hey, hey.
CARDOZA: What? What, Nancy?
GRACE: It`s not over yet.
CARDOZA: No, it`s not over yet, but somebody`s got to step forward, Nancy.
GRACE: Let`s go out to the lines. Leslie in Virginia, hi, Leslie.
CALLER: Hi, Nancy.
GRACE: What`s your question, dear?
CALLER: Love your show, first of all.
GRACE: Thank you.
CALLER: Because they said that there were only the strangulation marks, have they looked in the direction of a jealous classmate, or a girl, you know, maybe a boy that maybe she was involved with, that somebody else might have gotten jealous over?
GRACE: To Ms. Nixon, have they explored classmates?
NIXON: I mean, they`ve questioned her friends...
GRACE: But beyond that?
NIXON: ... some of her classmates, but other than that, not that I know of.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIXON: I look at her picture every day, and I have to break down, because I feel sad. A sad moment always come about me when I see her picture, because it`s not fair. She didn`t do nothing to deserve this, nothing at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Welcome back. A 16-year-old girl goes missing. Her body found discarded like garbage. Still no crack in the case. Can you help us tonight? Out to Cheryl in California. Hi, Cheryl.
GRACE: What`s your question, dear?
CALLER: Since she went missing, has there been any usage on her cell phone?
GRACE: Has there?
NIXON: No, it`s been off. It`s been off like maybe half an hour after she left the house.
GRACE: You know, you just told me that, when you went to church this Saturday, you couldn`t even turn around. Why?
NIXON: She usually sits in back of me, with the rest of the young people. And I know, if I look back, she`s not there. I usually look back to check to see if she`s talking, you know, stuff like that.
GRACE: What do you want to say here tonight?
NIXON: I just want to beg my community, Bed Stuy, Crown Heights, please, if anybody out there know anything about Chanel`s case, please call Crimestoppers.
GRACE: Let me show that number.
NIXON: Chanel saw somebody that day. You might have spoken to Chanel that Sunday, father`s evening. Please let us know if you did see Chanel.
GRACE: That number is 800-577-TIPS. The reward, $27,000.
Tonight, we remember Army Sergeant James Regan, 26, New York, killed, Iraq. A Duke University grad, he passed on a law school scholarship to enlist. He received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. James Regan, American hero.
Thank you to all of our guests, especially to Chanel`s mother, but also to you, for being with us. NANCY GRACE signing off. See you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. Until then, good night, friend.