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tv   America the Courts  CSPAN  November 14, 2009 7:00pm-8:00pm EST

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tonight, a woman mauled by a pet chimp tells her story. now, she has no eyes, no mouth and no nose. today, for the very first time, she shows her face on oprah. what does she remember from the attack and is this the ultimate example of why wild animals shouldn't be kept as pets? also, a father at his breaking points. she was arrested by police, then released in the middle of the night. she hasn't been seen since.
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that was nearly two months ago. why won't cops let us see the video? we're going to talk to this woman's father. and a teenage boy doused in alcohol and set on fire. now, the three teens accused are being charged as adults and are being charged as adults. now, some sicko plays a disgusting prank. plus, a dramatic courtroom finale in the nasa love triangle. she stopped and attacked her romantic rival. cops say she packed her car with a bb gun, plastic tubing and diapers to confront her exlover. you'll hear how she still has nightmares about the attack. is the sentence an outrage? "issues" starts now. tonight, a woman waking up
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from her horrific nightmare speaks out. she was mauled to within inches of her life last february. that's when the connecticut woman was called to help her friend. the animal then attacked charla. travis went ber serk and ripped off her hands, nose, lips and eyelids. here's just some of the chilling 911 call. when the cops came, they shot and killed travis the chimp. today, for the first time since the horrific mauling, charla
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appeared on oprah with her face covered by a vail. >> i'd like to put across to people that -- are very dangerous and they should not be around. there's a place for them. >> she said it all right there. tonight's big issue is serious stuff. chimps are not pets. in fact, there is a proposed law before the u.s. senate right now that would ban commerce and primates. more on that in just a moment. i'm talking your calls now. but first, straight out to my truly fantastic expert panel, mark, criminal defense attorney, dr. judy and jack hanna.
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as we keep the victim of this tragedy in our thoughts and hearts, jack, could this have been prevented? >> well, it could have been prevented. i must go back quickly to 1973 in tennessee when i had an african lion. it took an arm off a little boy. i had to get that arm. i've done this for 40 years and when you have a chimp, they're a very complicated animal. they're one of the great apes. they live in a family structure and when someone has a chimp and it ages like this, as you know, the lady came in with her haircut, this chimp probably felt threatened somewhat. with chimps in the wild go after someone, they rip off in a dominant male, the hands, the eyes, even the testicles.
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with the chimp was doing was a natural thing, but with a chimp that age, having it in a home is like having a loaded weapon. >> i agri. here are some details and perhaps you could comment. harold, the woman who kept the woman as a pet has speculated the chimp was trying to protect her and attack nash because she had changed her hair style, was driving a different car and was holding a stuffed toy in front of her face to get travis's attention. >> the chimps are bright, intelligent animals, like a lot of animals, but when she came in with a different appearance, this chimp said, what is this, coming into this place where i live. something's wrong here. so the chimp did the natural thing and went after that person. as far as is lawsuit involved -- >> we'll get to that in a second, but the tragedy of this is that this chimp was trying to
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protect its so-called owner and the owner is really the one we are asking the question, should she have ever had this chimp as a pet. harold's attorney has declined to comment, but we have an open invitation. if you want to come on and tell your side of the story, go ahead. today's big issue and what we're covering tonight. chimps, they are not pets. this woman, who insisted on trying keep this chimp as a pet, spoke to nbc's "today" show about this horrific attack. >> and i saw what was going on and i hollered at him and he was just grabbing her and i went and got the shovel. i was trying to hit him with the shovel to stop it and it wasn't working and so i went and a had to get a knife. >> and you stabbed him? >> i had to. he looked at me, like mom, what
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did you do? >> you're not mom. check out this photo showing travis in a totally inappropriate situation. getting on and sitting on a line mower. some people think this is cute, dr. judy. the chimp lived with harold. some say that sandra turned to travis for companion. >> seeing the travis the chimp on that machine is what we call making the animal into like a person. and it is true, jane, you know this, being an animal lover and having three charming dogs yourself, people form the human-animal bond. it's very strong and research
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shows use the pet even more than a friend because the pets don't talk back. because they love you con tantly, so this is positive for many people with many kinds of pets. but other types of pets, it's not appropriate. >> these are not pets. you might call them pets, but they ain't pets at the end of the day. this happened on february 16th, reportedly asked her friend to help lure the animal back into the house. here's the victim on oprah. >> was it your job to help take care of him because this was your boss? >> no, it was her pet that she wanted and she had to rush out a few times or couldn't come home that night. only two times i fed him. >> so you were familiar with him. were you afraid of him? >> yeah, always. >> mark, the victim's family has filed a $50 million lawsuit
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against harold, charging she was negligent, but harold's attorneys argue the victim was an employee of hers and therefore, hey, this is the worker's comp case. of course, that would vastly limit the amount of money the victim could get. are you kidding me? >> jane, i've got one word for those being sued in this case. settle. this is not a victim that you want to put in front of a jury. they would hold tarzan responsible if they could. you don't need the great animal expert jack hanna to tell you that that is not a pet and i think that jurors would tag the defendants for a lot of money in this case. >> now, just because you have a pet doesn't mean you have the animals best interest at heart. as babies, these primates are
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ripped away from their mothers in the wild. for every chimp kept as a pet, there are untold numbers that are killed or injured or neglected. a bill has already passed and you can help by calling your u.s. senators and asking them to pass this act. when it comes to primate exploitation, jack, i always say, follow the money. >> yeah, right. the primate exploitation has gone down a great, great deal ins last ten years. this woman, she thought the chimp was probably hers. as the attorney just said, you don't want this to go to court. my accident with the lion was settled and i live with that every day of my life, but going back to the chimp, again, it's a complicated creature and one
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that should not -- however, in this bill, the logical part, you know i've been doing for 40 years, we do a tremendous job of the breeding of these creatures. >> we'll agree to disagree. i agree with the humane society that i think we should pass the captive primate safety act and i suggest people call their u.s. senators. more on this horrific attack in just a bit and we're also taking your calls. the familiar stench of death once again on the streets of cleveland. but first, the woman who survived a horrific chimp attack now showing her face in a matter of speaking, with a vail. why would anyone try to keep a wild animal as a household pet?
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it's a horrible thing, but i'm not a horrible person and he wasn't a horrible chimp. it was a freak thing. >> a freak thing, indeed, but not necessarily in the way she intended that phrase. that clip from nbc's "today" show, they interviewed the woman who kept travis the chimp, trying to keep him as a pet anyway, the day after he went berserk and bludgeoned charla nash to within inches of her life. this is a horrific story. a woman will never be the same again. she's been left without eyes, without a nose. unbelievable. phone lines lighting up. angela, texas, your question or thought, ma'am?
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>> caller: yes. i had heard early in the days of the reporting of this incident that she had been given-the owner had given travis alcohol and possible prozac or some kind of anti-anxiety medication and most those drugs say do not mix with alcohol. >> well, i had heard reports that again, i have obviously no independent confirmation of that. that is something that will be part of the investigation or has been. the attorney for the woman who kept the pet has declined to comment. we invite them on to tell their side but jack hanna, that does happen quite often, doesn't it, where somebody has a wild animal that's not supposed to be a pet, keeps them as a pet, and then they try to sedate them to keep them sort of under control? >> yes, i've heard that, correct. for pets, right. but you know, like you said, who knows how xanax, i think that was the drug they said was used, is going to react on a wild animal like a chimpanzee. some people try to make the chimp part of them, whether it's
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dressing up, riding lawn mowers, drinking, eating, whatever it might be in their home. that's not what a chimpanzee does, obviously, where they live in the wild. >> i wanted to take exception -- >> hold on. mark, go ahead, please. >> i need to take exception to her calling this a freak accident. first of all, we know that earlier, in 1996, this particular chimpanzee bit a neighbor's hand. he reported it to police. apparently he claims they didn't do anything. the police say we don't have any record of it. but at least the owner of the chimp was clearly on notice that this could be a potentially dangerous animal so anything that happens after that is on her. >> now -- >> this is also why recapitulation of the ziegfield and roy problem, where their lions who were supposed to be part of the family, turned on the very owner and we know the disaster that happened to one of them. >> these are wild animals. these are not pets. they're not performers, either.
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check out this clip from a show called "my monkey baby" on tlc. that would be the very same network of "jon and kate plus eight." check this out. >> she's my baby girl. if i hear somebody called her a monkey, i throw a fit. she is my daughter, 100%. >> why does she wear clothes? >> just because to make her look more like my daughter. come here. there! now you look so pretty. >> oh, my gosh. unfortunately, society encourages this type of pop culture. that's just one tiny example of how these primates are exploited. recently, a 2-year-old chimp was used in a commercial shoot for an airport. peta, the organization which keeps chimps, says this chimp had a quote, disturbing record of animal care, that this group that took care of that animal had a disturbing record of
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animal care. the usda says that that same group keeps the primates in dirty, cramped cages. so here's a vicious cycle, isn't it, dr. judy, where you have this demand for commercial entertainment involving these animals and then you obviously see that there's exploitation at the heart of it. what happens when the cameras are turned off? >> well, indeed, and as we just saw in that particular case, the woman is considering the little chimp as her child. so while many of these human animal companion bonds are very healthy and i bless them, some are dysfunctional, where people are replacing people and real relationships and children for animals. that is inappropriate. their need to dominate, their need to have something that loves them, makes this wrong kind of relationship. >> jack, we have ten seconds. final thoughts? >> well, final thoughts are as i said before, zoological world gives millions of dollars each
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year to control the chimp in the wild. got back from malaysia where there are 65 baby apes in an orphanage. we are trying to keep them in the wild. as far as the chimps, they should be but in zoological parks, we do a great deal of helping them. >> i also think people should call their senators and say pass this act. it will stop this horror. thank you, jack, for coming on. thank you, fantastic panel. we salute the troops every day on hln. today, robin meade has a special veterans day salute from a proud daughter to her dad. >> thanks, jane. today, we salute world war ii veteran wendell alan fetters, an army staff sergeant during the war, and his daughter wants to let us know how proud she is of her dad. >> hi, robin. we want to leave a message for our dad, thanking him for being so brave in world war ii, when he was captured at age 20, and
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we want to thank him for his contribution to all the freedoms we enjoy in this great country, and we just want to tell him we are so proud of him and that we love him. >> absolutely. wendell also served in the korean war and turned 85 just last month. nininininininininininininininini
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a teenage boy doused in alcohol and set own fire. now, the three teenagers accused of this attack are being charged as adults, but look like kids. meanwhile, this poor kid is clinging to life with burns on his body. what is wrong with people? and a dramatic courtroom finale in the nasa love trooi angle. she attacked her romantic rival and parked her car are a bb gun, plastic glovers and diapers and
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drove 90 miles to attack her exromantic rival. is this sentence an outrage? stunning new developments. three young teens who allegedly doused a 15-year-old boy with rubbing alcohol and lit him on fire have been charged with adults. the boys have been identified as denver jarvis, matthew bent and jesus mendez. they're charged with second degree murder as adults. two other teenage boys face lesser counts of ago revated battery. the victim is in critical condition and has burns over 65% of his body. he is heavily sedated and breathing through a ventilator. he cannot speak. bandages cover his open wounds
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and have to be changed daily. his doctor says he is slowly recovering, but admits -- whether he take to his doctor in just a moment. the mother of the two -- of two of a alleged attackers issued a public apology. listen to her. >> we'd like to express how horribly sorry we are. this is a horrible incident that should never have occurred and we pray for mikey's -- michael's recovery every day and that he gets stronger, which we know in our hearts, he will. i don't have the words to express anymore. >> should these teenagers be tried as adults or are they still kids who need to be dealt with in juvenile court? straight out to my expert panel -- the doctor at
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university of miami jackson memorial hospital who is treating young michael brewer. doctor, thank you so much for joining us. >> thank you. >> what is the very latest on michael's condition? what are the biggest risks to him now. >> every day, we have ups and downs and today, we were fortunate to have a nice little upside event. we were able to remove the breathing tube today. this isn't a cause for a celebration because we know that about 5 to 10% of the time, we would have to put that tube back in the first 24 hours, but for now, it's a nice little improvement. >> his head was so severely burned, he lost most of his hair and eyelashes. thankfully, his face and hands were spared. it's extremely difficult to recover from burn injuries. michael jackson, his scalp was burned in 1984. his injuries were much less
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severe than michael brewers, still, they were excruciating and led to jackson developing an addiction to painkillers. jackson befriended fellow burn victim, david. david was 6 years old when his dad set him on fire. doctor, we pray michael brewer survives, but how long will his recovery take? describe what he's going to go through how many years before he's out and about. >> this is a life-changing event. things will never be exactly the same, but we hope and expect that he'll get back to a reasonably good quality of life. we still have some operations to do for skin grafting. there could be further reconstructive operations after the grafting, depending on how the healing goes and there's at least a year of intensive therapy and after that, it all slows down a little bit as things stabilize, but it's a
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life altering event. we have to move on to tonight's big issue. teen justice. these young teenagers are charged as adults with attempted murder. is that the right way to deal with this situation? this issue came up this week in the u.s. supreme court. is locking up teenagers for life cruel and unusual punishment? the big case they're discussing, joe, he was just 13 when convicted of raping a 79-year-old woman. but the state of florida argue this should be able to get life sentences without parole. in the united states right now, there are about 2500 teenagers doing life without parole. almost all for murder. only 111 teens are serving life without parole sentences for nonmurder and where are most of
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those teens? florida. florida has been called the toughest state on teens. these teens in this florida case are dealing with that possiblesy of a very, very long sentence. could these teens get life and would that be unconstitutional? >> they're being charged with second degree attempted murder, but really, the adult system is not set up appropriately to deal with teens. it should really stay in juvenile court. juvenile court is just for that, to deal with individuals not attached to move on to a felony-type crime. these teens should have been charged in juvenile court. the out that the judge will have in the adult court system, he could sentence them as juvenile to a lesser sentence, but it will follow them for the rest of their lives, as opposed to in a
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juvenile court. >> michelle, i am so torn about this case because i am so nauseated over what the kids did, but never the less, we're going to see it in a little bit, there was a picture of them today in court, they look like kids. like 14 and 15-year-old kids. i just don't know how to reconcile that act with the fact that they're not developmentally at the level of adulthood yet. >> and they're not. i know. that's really the issue is that you know, 18 is an adult because really, we know that brain development of teenagers and children is different than adults. so they have a different ability to consent to things, to know what they're actions will lead to. that's really the issue here. and again, i think we go back to the system. that if there is a way to help these kids, obviously, not
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commit these crimes again, but even more importantly, is that when they become adults, if they have been in juvenile custody, a way to actually evaluate them and to know if they are a danger to society, i think that's the issue. it's about understanding are these children a danger to the society. >> i think that what we need to do is improve the juvenile court system so they can adequately deal with these kids in a manner that's appropriate. there's the picture i wanted to show you. look at them. they look like kids there. they look like three little kids you'd see running down the street and yet, they're going to jail, to the slammer as adults. this whole thing is hideous because what they did was so awful, allegedly. they've got to face justice, obviously, but i'm going to go back to the doctor. this whole thing is so heart
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wrenching on so many levels. so many families destroyed by this one senseless, stupid act. >> absolutely. it's senseless. >> it's just so senseless. >> and again, i think the teenagers, when we look at what happened at richmond high school, we also -- we need to educate our children about consequences about conflict resolution and how to handle these situations. >> and about right and wrong. before we learn american history and the rev lush nar war, about right and wrong. >> moral development. >> thank you. coming up, we pray that that young boy survives. an intoxicated woman loses her balance and falls on to the tracks and there's a train coming. does she survive?
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look at this wild scene. plus, today's sentencing of lisa nowak finally comes to a crescendo. is she doing time?
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let's meet today's winner. caitin. she's a mom that has a big secret. her husband asked her to quit drinking and she cut back, but only for a while. in her letter, she writes, when i saw the story about the woman who -- i shuttered. it could have been me so many times. i'm happy to say, she found sob ryety in june of 2006 and wants to tell her story in the hopes it will help other women. for sharing your courageous story, you're going to be getting a copy of my book, plus a chance to win a trip to new york city and visit me right here on the set of "issues ". we'll have a sober, fun time. if you're struggling with addiction, please check out my
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new book. it can help. remember that nasa love triangle? the former astronaut accused of driving across the country, diapers were involved, to get revenge on her exlover. a slap on the wrist is what she got today. was it fair? we'll hear from the victim first. amazing video in boston. a woman lucky to be alive, check this out. a drunk woman waiting for the subway loses her balance and falls right on to the tracks. the train's conductor doesn't see the woman, luckily, some people start waving their hands to get their attention. at the last moment, the train slams on the brakes and stops right next to this woman's head. she's actually underneath the train, but not crushed. the drunk woman suffered minor scrapes and was taken to the hospital. what do you think she told cops?
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well, i've been drinking. she could have really have had a bad hangover if not for that conductor who slammed on the brakes. take two. the man who tried to extort millions of david letterman. j he's in court today saying it was a big misunderstanding. he's accused of trying to extort letterman. sounds like we have enough material for a screen play now. we're going to stay on top of this one. that is tonight's "top of the block." moving forward to disbelief and outrage given to that former astronaut accused of attacking her former rival.
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she's the former nasa captain who apparently went bonkers when her boyfriend broke up with her and started seeing ooltewah woman.she suited up in a diaper. nowak's defense team disputes the whole diaper story, by the way. she also wore a wig and trench coat, following shipman to her car and then sprayed her with pepper spray. she got a year's probation for this attack. the judge gave her two days in jail and two days of credit time served. that came on the wheels of this gut wrenching statement. >> shortly after i turned 30 years old, lisa nowak hunted me down and attacked me in a dark
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parking lot. her attack was part of a well researched, well-planned and deliberate crime. now, almost three years later, i am still reeling from her virgs attack. >> moments later, she was seething with anger. >> i know in my heart when lisa nowak attacked me that she was going to kill me. it was in her eyes. a blood chilling expression of limitless rage and glee. >> wait until you hear and see lisa nowak's bizarre apology. i know you will have an opinion, so give me a holler. straight to my experts -- your
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article about this jaw-dropping sentence. >> well, people can't believe how light the sentence was, especially after hearing how light the sentence was. it didn't seem to add up. >> it's an outrage. i will say that myself personally. i watched this. i saw this victim crying and saying her life was destroyed. she's the one who had the leave the military. this one is still unbelievable on active duty. >> the navy was waiting to see what was going to happen and now they know. so disciplinary action should come soon. >> i don't get it. this just doesn't seem fair. this woman, the victim,
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described in detail how she was terrorized. she felt lisa nowak was out to kill her. this is what's wrong with our criminal justice system. this guy -- oh, she looks remorseful to me, therefore i'm going to let her go without any jail time. >> no. there is rhyme and reason to it. ultimately, good deals for defendants are obtained for one of two reasons. either the defendant is a stellar human being. and certainly that could be a factor here. or there's some risk of loss for the prosecution. and the defense lawyer did an excellent job of chipping away at the evidence in this case, challenging the admissibility of statements that lisa nowak made the night that she was initially interrogated. challenging the evidence that was obtained as being illegally confiscated. so -- >> oh, please. we all saw what happened. >> it's exactly those things that create the risk of loss. and hang on a second, jane.
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i will have to say this. if we can be allowed a little bit of levity. her lawyer -- >> you're going to have to wait till after the break. we're going to have more of your opinion and mine in a moment.
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