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Hannity

Terri Schiavo's Brother and Sister React to Legal Setbacks

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," Mar. 24, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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SEAN HANNITY: As we continue on “Hannity & Colmes,” outside the hospice where Terri Schiavo is, we are joined now by Terri's brother and sister, Bobby Schindler and Suzanne Vitadamo.

You guys, welcome back. I know this is very tough on you both and I'm very sorry for both of you that you have to go through this. I think even people on all sides feel for you and your mom and dad.

First of all, you just saw Terri. We're now entering, what, day seven tomorrow. How's she doing?

BOBBY SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO'S BROTHER: I keep saying it's hard to explain. It's gruesome. It's absolutely gruesome what's happening to her. You want to be in there with her, but you don't want to be in there with her. It's just the most saddest thing I could ever imagine.

HANNITY: I heard your mom got sick in there today it was so hard for her.

SUZANNE VITADAMO, TERRI SCHIAVO'S SISTER: She did. It made her physically ill. We had to leave and she had to use the bathroom.

HANNITY: Now, we're awaiting this court decision tonight. You have had a horrible 48 hours in terms of court decisions for your family. You were in court tonight. Do you still have hope? How did you feel it's went? How did you feel it was going tonight?

SCHINDLER: I thought Mr. Gibbs did an outstanding job presenting our side of the argument. And we listened Michael Schiavo's attorney. We're hopeful that the judge will at least make a decision quickly so we know — at least we'll know what our legal options are so we know where we stand.

HANNITY: What is your next steps if this one doesn't work for you?

SCHINDLER: I don't know.

HANNITY: What are your lawyers saying?

S. VITADAMO: We haven't gotten that far. It's almost minute by minute at this point.

SCHINDLER: It's just amazing to me that a lower circuit court judge, Judge Greer in this case, can circumvent a governor and an act Congress.

HANNITY: This is the thing that has amazed me. Is your husband, Suzanne, gave me a lot of court documents and affidavits. I've been reading them all. Is we've had nurses on this program that say she's conscious, aware and alert. A doctor that says she's conscious, aware and alert. We now have Dr. Cheshire involved in this particular case.

You know, we have all this conflicting testimony. We have people that say that early on, Michael said he didn't know what your sister's will was on an issue like this. But yet it's based on, quote, "Terri's will," based on what he said seven years later. With all of that, I can't fathom why they wouldn't give another review in the case.

S. VITADAMO: That's what we can't understand. I mean, it's illogical to me that they're going through with this with all the conflicting evidence. And Judge Greer has seen this evidence. And that's what we don't understand.

COLMES: Suzanne and Bobby, it's Alan Colmes back in New York. Thank you again for doing our show.

By the way, I just want to reiterate what Sean said. Regardless of which side we fall on this, we all feel for you and the enormous turmoil you must be going through. And we appreciate you coming on the show to talk about it.

SCHINDLER: Thank you.

COLMES: I'd like to talk about this doctor, Dr. Cheshire, who's now being introduced. As I understand it, he did not examine her in her room but looked at her. But the examination was based on the videotape, not on personal examination. Is that true?

SCHINDLER: Well, from what I understand, he was in Terri's room for, I believe, 45 minutes to an hour. I'm not precisely sure how long. And he did look at the videotapes. And you know, I think the best thing to do is read his analysis. And what he said was rather compelling.

COLMES: But it is based on a videotape, the analysis, because he didn't physically medically examine her. And that videotape, some neurologists have said can be a little misleading because, you know, there's no consciousness, despite of the fact that you see eye movements in the videotapes.

Suzanne, you've heard neurologists make those claims. The majority of those who have examined her.

S. VITADAMO: I have. But you know, the neurologists that went in there, Dr. Cranford, for example, I think he spent, what was it, 10 minutes with her?

HANNITY: Forty...

S. VITADAMO: Forty-five minutes.

This doctor spent the same amount of time with her. He also looked at all her medical files, all the scans that she's ever had. And yes, he did view the videotapes, but he also viewed — there were other videotapes that he viewed that were not aired. So he viewed all of the videotapes and the court documents.

COLMES: One of the things has been reported, Bobby — go ahead. Go ahead, Bobby.

SCHINDLER: Dr. Hammesfahr and Dr. Maxfield have spent four hours, and Dr. Maxfield spent, I don't know, one or two hours with her and they came up with contrary evidence that Terri was...

COLMES: As I understand it, the independent court-appointed physician was on the other side.

But I just want to ask you this. One of the things that's also being claimed now is new evidence of abuse by Michael Schiavo. Is that true? Is there any new information that has not yet been reported to the court?

SCHINDLER: I don't know if it's new evidence. It's based on evidence that exists out there. And there's been no investigation that conducted.

COLMES: All right. So I just wonder: if she is allowed to die, if she does indeed does die, do you think you have a murder case on your hands?

SCHINDLER: Well, you know, I said the other night, I think our concern right now is trying to save Terri. But certainly, it could be something and maybe something that should be looked into.

HANNITY: All right. Guys, I'll you what. We're going to come back. I have a couple more questions. No. 1, we want to get maybe a message you want to send to the governor at this particular point. We'll get to that when we get back.

And similarly, you ran into a controversy the last time, Bobby, over the issue of last rights for your sister. We'll get into that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HANNITY: This is a FOX News alert. I'm Sean Hannity outside of the hospice where Terri Schiavo is. This just in, in a separate appeal, the Florida State Supreme Court, we just got word moments ago, has refused to overturn a judge's order blocking the state from taking temporary custody.

While that has happened, we're still awaiting the U.S. District Court where a hearing took place earlier tonight. And we continue now. We're joined by the brother and sister of Terri Schiavo, Bobby Schindler and Suzanne Vitadamo.

This is just now a series of bad decisions for you guys and disappointing decisions. Are you hopeful? You were in the court tonight. Do you have any hope? Was there any indication the judge may be leaning towards opening his mind?

BOBBY SCHINDLER, BROTHER OF TERRI SCHIAVO: It's hard to say. I mean, our family, we always remain hopeful. But it's just, you know, you've seen what's been happening. And it's hard to have any type of...

HANNITY: We're going to get some legal opinions on the matter from Jay Sekulow and David Boies in a few minutes. There's been a lot of talk about whether or not there's any statutory authority for Jeb Bush. I've talked to a lot of legal scholars. Most of them say no, but the Thomas More Center thinks yes.

What are your thoughts? Do you want to say anything to the governor?

SUZANNE VITADAMO, SISTER OF TERRI SCHIAVO: I think we're still hopeful. And we're still really pleading with the governor that, if there's anything that he can do at this point, well, you know what, we believe that he can still do something. We really do.

HANNITY: Have you spoken with his office? Has he communicated with you?

VITADAMO: I have not spoken with his office.

HANNITY: Has anyone in the family, Bobby?

SCHINDLER: No. You know, and we're very grateful for what the governor has done, you know, so far. I know he's been a real advocate for Terri's life. And I think, if there is a way, the governor will act. So we're just hoping that he can.

HANNITY: Let me ask you this question, and I don't really even want to bring it up, because I've watched you guys up close and I know that you've had a lot of pain and a lot of suffering, and family suffering a lot. The last time, Bobby, the issue came up about last rites for your sister, back in 2003. And it became a pretty big controversy. Why don't you tell us about that, and tell us how you feel at this point?

SCHINDLER: We're, as you know, we were raised Catholic. And Monsignor Malanowski's an 80-year-old brigadier general, retired, and tried to give communion — what's it called — the name eludes me now.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHINDLER: My old nuns are going to kill me right now. But he was denied. And he was told if he even tried to put anything in Terri's mouth, he would be arrested immediately.

HANNITY: Is that something you'd like to see, if we're getting to that point, Suzanne, you were telling me at the break that time is limited here.

VITADAMO: Oh, sure, it's very limited.

HANNITY: Is that something that's important to the family?

(CROSSTALK)

SCHINDLER: Right, of course it is. As a Catholic, it's very important. But I don't believe that it will be allowed. And, again, the same rules apply. If they try, they will be arrested immediately. Anything that goes near Terri's mouth — they're watching over us, Mr. Hannity. I mean, the cops are very nice, but we can't go near Terri. We'll be arrested if we try to do anything like that.

HANNITY: Look, you know, I guess a lot of us have watched you guys, watched your family. We all know that you're suffering. And I guess we all try and identify and put ourselves in your position and how would we feel and react.

And, you know, who are we most angry at? I watched the Florida legislature yesterday. Nine Republicans could have gone your way, and we wouldn't be here tonight. Are you more mad at them? Are you more mad at the courts? Are you mad at Congress? Are you mad at the governor? Are you, maybe you're just too tired to be mad at anybody?

SCHINDLER: Yes, I'm not even focusing my anger right now. I'm more concerned about Terri and my parents. You know, I am angry. But I'm more concerned about my family.

VITADAMO: I think we're so consumed with Terri right now, and my mom and dad and being considered about their health.

HANNITY: I understand.

VITADAMO: And, right now, you can't think of anything else but her.

COLMES: Hey, Suzanne, Bobby, it's Alan once again. I want to go back to what we talked about.

Because the court case tonight with this new — as it had been expressed in court case, new allegations, and some of it having to do with abuse that may not have been in the court record prior to now. And if she goes, would you then file murder charges against Michael Schiavo?

SCHINDLER: Mr. Colmes, with all due respect, I'm not an attorney. I don't, as I said, it could be something that might be, you know, possibly looked into.

COLMES: Would that be the family's wishes?

SCHINDLER: Oh, I don't know. I'm not ready to make that determination right now. I'm more concerned about what's going to happen with Terri. And, you know, as I said, we're real concerned about our family. And that's really what we're concentrating on right now.

COLMES: Suzanne, much of this revolves around, and the debate is, about what Terri would want in this kind of a circumstance. If she had expressed to you that she wouldn't want to be kept alive in the way she has been alive, would you have honored those wishes or would you still be saying, "We're Catholics who want to do everything we can to keep her alive as long as possible," even if she had expressed what Michael, her husband, claimed she expressed?

VITADAMO: Well, you know, that goes back to having an advanced directive. And Terri never had an advanced directive. So, I mean, it's a hypothetical question. And it's hard to say. But, you know, our family is in favor of advanced directives. And if Terri had one, we wouldn't be sitting here, and neither would she be.

COLMES: I mean, if it wasn't in writing, if she had said to you, "Look, I don't want to be in this situation. I don't want tubes in me." You know, would you have said, "OK, she didn't have a living will, but that's what she would have wanted. We want to honor that."

SCHINDLER: Well, if she would have expressed those wishes to us and a court would have asked us, we would have had to tell the truth. But Terri didn't express such wishes. She never did. It was totally uncharacteristic. And, you know, these alleged wishes that she made were when she was 20 years old and, again, seven years after she collapsed.

So, again, Mr. Colmes, it wasn't in writing. And it's based on hearsay evidence that they're going to kill my sister.

HANNITY: Bobby and Suzanne, once again, I'm very sorry that you and your family are going through this. And thank you for being with us tonight. We wish you the best in this last court decision we're waiting on coming in tonight.

SCHINDLER: Appreciate it.

VITADAMO: Thank you.

HANNITY: Thank you both for being with us. We're very sorry you're going through it.

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