updated 1/17/2006 11:23:22 AM ET 2006-01-17T16:23:22

Guests: Tommy Boswell, Scott Russell, Maggie Fitzgerald, Clint Van Zandt, Scott Russell; Michael Gregory, George Smith, Maureen Smith, Bree Smith, Frank Soichet, Ivan Golde, Lauren Lake, Wendy Murphy

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Tonight, an all points bill bulletin for two alleged killers on the run in Alabama. Johnny Earl Jones and Lamar Benton have both been charged with two horrific crimes. Jones is accused of killing a two-year-old girl that he was baby-sitting, while Benton face charges of murdering and raping a mother of three. Both made a daring jail break over the weekend.

On the phone with us right now Sheriff Tommy Boswell from Russell County, Alabama.

Let me start with you, Sheriff, real quick. Tell us, first of all, the last citing you have of these guys? Do you have any idea where they could be tonight?

SHERIFF TOMMY BOSWELL, RUSSELL COUNTY, AL.:  Saturday morning, we had the individuals in the woods in the area of Eastern Phoenix City. When daylight came, they got out of our perimeter. We found they crossed over into Columbus, Georgia. We‘ve had not a documented sighting of them sense.

COSBY:  They got out with another guy that was captured, right?

BOSWELL:  That‘s correct.

COSBY:  Did he provide any information?

BOSWELL:  He‘s been interviewed. I‘d rather not say exactly what came out of this interview other than the fact he was interviewed by the investigators.

COSBY:  Did he give a hint of where they might be headed? Or anything significant?          

BOSWELL:   He gave some good information.  He was interview at length on two different occasions.

COSBY:  Did they have an accomplice, do you believe? Helping them on the other side? 

BOSWELL:  No they did not. There‘s no indication that they had an accomplice at all.

COSBY:  These men, even pretty brutal, Sheriff, in the way that they got out of the jail. Walk our viewers through how they were able to escape.

BOSWELL:  There were two correctional officers doing a security check of the area where they were. They attacked the officers using jail-made weapons, called shanks. One of the correction officers was stabbed 15 times in the back. Another one just missed being stuck in the jugular vein. Both officers were assaulted.

Then they got the key. They went into another area where they assaulted two more correctional officers where they assaulted a sergeant, almost broke her arm, and then they were able to get another set of keys and then get out of the building.

COSBY:  How are the officers doing tonight?

BOSSWELL:  The officers are out of the hospital and back home. 

They‘re going  to be OK.  

COSBY:  Tell us about these two men.  As we‘re looking at them on the screen.  These men are obviously of a very dangerous past, both of them, right?

BOSWELL:  That‘s correct. They‘re both extremely young. They both committed or allegedly committed extremely violent crimes. Both of them are pending trial. Jones was babysitting the two-year-old, and actually beat the child to death because it wouldn‘t stop crying. And Benton picked a woman up who had broken down aside the road accused of raping and cutting her throat and throwing her naked body into a cemetery.

COSBY:  Obviously, people should be very concerned. These men are certainly armed and dangerous probably, right?

BOSWELL:  We have no indication that they are armed, however, from the background, you must presume that they are armed and certainly dangerous.  We would hope that no individual citizen would attempt any kind of action to take them into custody. Just notify the closest law enforcement officer.

COSBY:  Any idea if they‘re still together? Do you believe that there‘s a relationship between these two guys?

BOSWELL:  No, they don‘t know each other prior to being incarcerated.

We don‘t feel like they‘re together.

COSBY:  We know there‘s been some reports of overcrowding at your jail. Do you believe that they might have played a role that maybe officers weren‘t able to keep an eye on these two guys as well as they could have?

BOSWELL:  I don‘t think so. Not in this circumstance.  There‘s no indication that the overcrowding problem was a factor in this.

COSBY:  How confident are you, Sir, that these men will be captured?

BOSWELL:  I‘m real confident that we‘ll capture the.  This afternoon, we formed a multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency task force.  And we‘ve included federal agents and state agents and, of course, local representatives from all the police agencies within 20 or 30 miles, and we‘re going to catch them.

COSBY:  You‘re right there on the border.

BOSWELL:  Right.

COSBY:  How many states are involved? How big is your perimeter when you talk about the 2030? How many states are you talking about? How many agents are working—agencies are working? How many officers are involved?

BOSWELL:  We‘re talking probably 30 officers from 10 agencies in both states.

COSBY:  Any word they‘ve tried to reach their families?

BOSWELL:  Not so far.

COSBY:  Are you in touch with the families, I‘m sure?

BOSWELL:  Oh yeah, absolutely.

COSBY:  Sheriff, obviously, if anyone locates either of these men, of course, if you have any information about the whereabouts of these two men alleged for very, very serious crimes, both of them murder, Johnny Earl Jones or Lamar Benton. Of course, please be sure you call the Russell County Sheriff‘s Department.  Just heard the sheriff on our show, the number to call is 334-298-6535; again. 334-298-6535.

And tonight, we‘re also watching hostage situation in Georgia.  A

lawyer is being held by a woman and a man, who say that they also have

explosives.  The drama unfolded this morning at a Statesboro law office

after an alleged domestic dispute.  On the phone with us tonight, is Maggie

Fitzgerald with the Statesboro, Georgia police department.  And also here

with us is former FBI hostage negotiator, and MSNBC analyst, Clint Van

Zandt

Let me start with you, if I could, Chief, first.  Where does it stand with the negotiations right now about this man and woman?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Why is the FBI negotiation going on in front of the media? 

COSBY:  Can you hear me right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  FBI Negotiator?

Can you hear me right now? Whom am I—actually, let me bring in—

Maggie, let me bring you in, Maggie, if I could.

Maggie, where does it stand with the investigation right now—

MAGGIE FITZGERALD, STATESBORO POLICE DEPT.:  I can‘t hear you.

COSBY: Maggie can you hear me?

FITZGERALD:  Barely.

COSBY:  OK, where does it stand with the negotiations?  I know you‘re in the middle of everything right now.  Where does it stand?

FITZGERALD:  We‘re still negotiating, right now, at this point.

COSBY:  Have you had any contact at all with this man and woman?

What‘s their relation to the person they‘re holding hostage?

FITZGERALD:  Apparently, the hostage may have been a prior attorney for the hostage takers.

COSBY:  Have they made any demands at all right now, these two hostage takers?

FITZGERALD:  As far as I‘m aware, the only real demands they‘ve made is just that they had some type of legal issues in the recent past. They want to get it resolved. I‘m not sure what it is, but it is some type of legal matter.

COSBY:  And, Maggie, what is it about the explosives? We‘re hearing they have explosives nearby a duffel bag?

FITZGERALD:  I‘ve not heard that. I don‘t have any details except for the fact the hostage takers do have some type of improvised explosive device.

COSBY:  And are they claiming—we were hearing some reports, Maggie, they were saying that they had maybe enough food and water to last a week.  Does this sound like something that was well planned?

FITZGERALD:  I have no idea. I‘ve not heard that. I‘ve not heard anything about the hostages‘ actual situation.

COSBY:  Maggie are you optimistic, based the conversations that your department and others are having it sounds like with the and the woman, but particularly with the man, that this‘ll end peacefully?

FITZGERALD:  Oh wow, really, I‘ve not heard that. We‘re just, you know, waiting and hoping that with time this will end peacefully. We‘ve got all of our law enforcement out here. They‘re really wanting to get to the bottom of this, and they really, you know, were al hoping this would end peacefully.

COSBY:  You bet. Maggie, thank you. Please come back to us if there‘s any developments in the case.  And, again, ongoing situation taking place there in Statesboro, Georgia.

Let me bring in Clint Van Zandt.

Clint, as you‘re hearing this, what we just heard obviously is that the couple—it sounds like this is an attorney who has some sort of business with them. One of the things we‘re hearing was a custody dispute.  How tense does this sound to you inspect.

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FMR. FBI HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR:  It sounds like the police—sounds like everybody is doing a good job. In a situation like this, what you want to do is just stabilize things. Take all the time you need. Everybody just kind of back off a couple of steps.

Sounds like both law enforcement has done that, and the people inside the man and woman who are in there with the attorney, they‘ve already let two people go who didn‘t want to be there.  There‘s only this third person there now this prior attorney, it sounds like it‘s a legal situation that can be resolved.  And this is not—this is not going to bring it to resolution.

But the two people inside right now, they have the ability to resolve this very quickly without anyone being injured. You know, they‘re very emotional. We understand that, if it‘s a child custody, we all get emotional in a situation like that. But so far, no body has been hurt.  And now is the time to resolve it peacefully, and let‘s work this thing out in the court where it really belongs.

COSBY:  Clint, what does it say to you that they also say—they claim, again, we don‘t know if this is true—that they have explosives nearby. How complicate does that make the situation for negotiators?

ZANDT:  Well, it makes it very complicated, any type of weapon, but once again, having been a hostage negotiator myself, I know the negotiators are there, the men and women, they take the people at their word. They‘re trying to get everyone out of there, Rita.

They‘re trying to get the man, woman, the attorney, they‘re trying to get all three of these people, who are in a very challenging situation right now. None of the three want to be there. So law enforcement is just going to kind of reach out the hand of safety and security.  And say, OK, we understand, there was a challenge. Come on out, let‘s sit down, let‘s work this out.

And I think when this man or woman start and think about the opportunity, the chance the law enforcement is just kind of reaching out and saying, we don‘t want to see anyone—we don‘t want to see any of the three of you getting hurt. But let‘s resolve this in a very peaceful manner, hopefully they‘ll respond in that same way.

COSBY:  Clint, real briefly, if they are watching tonight and we have some indications they may be watching television, who knows what? But if they‘re watching tonight, what would you say them?

ZANDT:  You know one thing, I‘m a parent too. I‘ve been in challenging situations with my children just like perhaps they my might be, whether it‘s legal or whether it has to do with children. But the reality is right now, you‘ve not heard anyone. You‘ve got angry, perhaps frustrated. You want your point of view to be heard.

You‘re being given the opportunity right now. You‘re being heard.  People are listening to you. Now is the time to resolve it peacefully without anyone being injured and now go about the rest of your legal business that you have to.

You‘ve made your point. Now, let‘s conclude it in a very positive, uplifting way and the two of you have the opportunity to do this. All three of you can come out without anyone being injured and it‘ll be a victory for all sides.

COSBY:  Let‘s hope they are watching. Hopefully, no doubt, it ends that way peacefully.

Clint, thank you very much.

ZANDT:  Thank you.

COSBY:  Still ahead, a story so disturbing, it‘s hard to watch.

Tonight, cops may have cracked the case. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Still ahead, caught on tape and now caught by the cops. Police say they‘ve nabbed the twisted suspect tied to brutally beating several homeless with a baseball bat. You‘ll be shocked to know who is behind bars.

And, one state, 13 people, all found not guilty by reason of insanity.  You‘ll hear the horror they caused and why some say they should never be back on the streets.

Plus, new information in George Smith‘s mysterious disappear from his honeymoon cruise. Could he have been dead before going overboard? His family is going to join me live.

And would you believe celebrity party girl Tara Reid has a connection to the George Smith case?  We‘ve got the exclusive picture, coming up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOTT RUSSELL, WORKS WITH HOMELESS IN FT. LAUDERDALE:  I haven‘t, in 24 years, seen anything this grievous brought forward against the homeless population.  T me it was a heinous act, a senseless act.

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

COSBY:  Tonight two suspects are behind bars for a horrible crime caught on tape. Police say this video shows two teenagers using a baseball bat to beat a homeless person on the street in Ft. Lauderdale. They‘re blamed for a string of beatings that sent two people to the hospital and one to his grave.

Both of the teens, a 17-year-old and 18-year-old, appeared in court today. We‘re not going to disclose the identity of the 17-year-old because he‘s a minor but the identity of the 18-year-old has been released.

Captain Michael Gregory from the Ft. Lauderdale Police Department now joins me live about the case.

Captain, first of all, do you have any idea where they did this?

CAPT. MICHAEL GREGORY, FT. LAUDERDALE POLICE:  They‘ve not expressed any motive to us since they‘ve been taken into custody. 

               

COSBY:  Are they undergoing psychological examinations?  Is there going to be any tests like that on either, or both boys?

GREGORY:  I did hear that earlier today.  That one of their attorney‘s expressed interest in having a psychological exam done.

COSBY:  Do we have any idea why they picked these three particular men?  Was it location?  Was it opportunity?  Base on your investigation so far?

GREGORY:  Not particularly, most likely just something of an opportunity that they came across.

COSBY:  Just like you said, they were unfortunately at the wrong place at the wrong time?

GREGORY:  Yes, we don‘t have any information that the point these specific individuals were targeted, followed or sought out. It just seemed to have been a random act.

COSBY:  Now, I understand that you might be searching for other individuals as well? Is there something that leads to you believe other teens may have been involved? Or someone else?

GREGORY:  Our investigation is ongoing. There have been other attacks on homeless individuals in the city in the last several months. We‘ll be reviewing each of those cases and comparing the in evidence those to the suspects we have now se if there‘s linkages.

COSBY:  Is there a possibility they could have charged with others?

GREGORY:  That certainly is a possibility, as well as just as likely there could be other arrests made in this case.

COSBY:  Why do you think these boys turned themselves in? Sounds like they just turned themselves in; was this in cooperation with the families?  What happened?

GREGORY:  Yes, we identified the suspects as of Friday. Reached out to families and told them it was in the best interest of the children to turn themselves back in. They obtained the advice of attorneys and then did so.  Brought them back to us.

COSBY:  Do you have any other witnesses, other than we know we have this videotape that we were showing earlier of the man being beaten with the bat. Do you have any other videotape? Other witnesses who could piece together and put these boys there?

GREGORY:  I‘m not at liberty to go all the evidence at this point and express that it‘ll be going in front of the grand jury in this case.  But there is evidence to establish probable cause for the charges we have presented to them.

COSBY:  You know, Captain, I‘m sure you‘ve been on the force for some time.  What‘s your reaction just at this horrible crime? Some of the people in the American public, when they see this video, they‘re out raged?

GREGORY:  Yes, a number of number of emotions similar to that, we all go through, personally, as well as neighbors of mine and co-workers, to actually see something like this.  Obviously crime happens randomly. We see it on a regular basis, but when you actually witness it, replay it, over and over again as it‘s been done.  It really touches you in a different level. You practically experience it over and over again.

COSBY:  Real quick, Captain, what‘s the condition of the other two men? I know one man unfortunately was beaten to death. How are the other two doing?

GREGORY:  They‘re recovering.

COSBY:  So they‘re doing better?

GREGORY:  Yes, they‘re recovering and getting better.

COSBY:  Thank you very much. Please keep us posted on this case.

And now let‘s bring in, if we could, Scott Russell.  He is a former Fort Lauderdale police officer, who is now a pastor working with the homeless population.

Scott, how furious are you? Here you‘re trying to help these people and obviously to be taken advantage of in this fashion is outrageous.

SCOTT RUSSELL, WORKS WITH HOMELESS IN FT. LAUDERDALE:  It absolutely is outrageous. You don‘t understand why someone would seek out the most vulnerable people in our population to do such violence to. It‘s just - it‘s just evil. It‘s evil at its best and humanity at its worst. It‘s unconscionable.

COSBY:  What do you think possessed these boys to do that?  What do you think drives someone to take advantage of such unfortunate people?

RUSSELL:  I have no idea. I‘ve thought about this to see what would cause a person to even want to go and to do something like this.  There is no rage. There was no sense for it.  They weren‘t angry at anybody.  The look you see on the faces, was not of anger, but seemed as of a joke they were doing. It‘s like they just dehumanized the individual so much that it wasn‘t a person that they were acting out against.

COSBY:  How many homeless people live in your area? Have you ever heard of something like this happening in your community?

RUSSELL:  This is the worst thing that I‘ve seen in the number of years—I‘ve been a police officer of 24 years. It‘s a shame that—again, I‘ve never seen nothing like that before. Often homeless people will get into fights or something like that. They‘ll come up, and show up, and talk to us about it but nothing of this magnitude.

It‘s just the senseless thing we see and it breaks your heart to see people hurt like that. And they‘ve done nothing wrong. As a matter of fact, they‘re out of the way. They‘re in areas that are not in the public view.  They were sought out to have this done to them. There‘s no—there‘s no explanation for it.  There‘s just no excuse for it.

COSBY:  Absolutely. Did you know any of these three victims at all?  What‘s the sense in the community, the homeless population? Are they worried?

RUSSELL:  Yes. I knew one of the individuals. I worked with him for approximately five years. I‘ve known him. He‘s been homeless on the streets and to look at him, he kept himself, you know, rather well dressed and cleaned. You wouldn‘t think him to be homeless. He frequented the area of Riverwalk. He looked like a regular businessman.

You wouldn‘t know he was homeless to just a passerby but talk with him, you‘d learn he wasn‘t—we had him in the shelter one time. And he left. I‘m not sure if the—due to conditions that he just was unfamiliar with, and hadn‘t grown accustomed to, and decided it was in his best interest to leave that shelter. That was a number of years ago for him.

COSBY:  Is there heightened fear, Scott, real quick, is there heightened fear amongst the community tonight?

RUSSELL:  No, there‘s really no heightened fear. There‘s more awareness on the homeless population out there. They‘re looking around to make sure they‘re not being followed and things like that. We certainly have asked them do that and be aware of their surroundings.

COSBY:  Absolutely.  Scott, thank you very much. We appreciate you being here.

RUSSELL:  You‘re welcome.

COSBY:  And an update now in the case of a murdered Virginia student that we  followed closely, and the man caused of killing her. A grand jury meets tomorrow to decide if 38-year-old Ben Fawley should face the death penalty, if convicted of killing a Virginia Commonwealth University student last year. Taylor Behl went missing from her college campus in Richmond, Virginia, last September. Her decomposed body was found a month later in rural eastern Virginia buried in a shallow grave.

Fawley reported told police that Taylor‘s death was an accident and that she die during rough sex. 

Still ahead, everybody, killers found not guilty by reason of insanity are still killers. Should they be allowed to walk free? Find out what state is letting 13 killers back on the streets, and why.

And was George Smith dead before going overboard during his honeymoon cruise? The family will join me live.

Plus, a bizarre connection between the missing groom and celebrity party girl Tara Reid. We have the exclusive picture coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:   The family of missing honeymooner George Smith is fighting back with new allegations about the investigation into his disappearance, including a claim that George may have been killed before he went overboard.

We‘re joined now by George Smith‘s family, his parents, George and Maureen and his sister, Bree.

Thank you, all of you, -- how heart goes out to you guys every time I see you it must have so tough—it must be so tough with time going by.

Is it even more difficult, George?

GEORGE SMITH, FATHER OF GEORGE SMITH:  It gets more difficult every day. It just seems like, you know, why isn‘t it getting solved?  We just can‘t believe it, you know?

COSBY:   One. Things, Bree, the new pieces, you we‘re told by, what? 

A U.S.  official in Greece?

BREE SMITH, SISTER OF GEORGE SMITH:  Actually, my parents were told, when they were in Greece, from a U.S. official from the American embassy, in Greece, that the indentation in the overhang was a suggestion that my brother fell as dead weight. It was not a fall as if, you know, he was free falling with his arms and legs moving. It was as if he was dropped.

COSBY:   This is it.  We‘re looking at the picture of the canopy right here. There‘s—they‘re suggesting, what? He was killed prior to?

B. SMTH:  Well, either killed or seriously injured.

COSBY:   Unable to move or unable to—

B. SMITH:  Yes, not—you know, free falling with his arms and legs moving. Just sort of dropped.

COSBY:   What do you make of the fact—you know, we‘ve had a lot of folks on our show in the last few months, no one had come on, you know, Clete Hyman, who was next door says that they heard voices, heard a thud.  We haven‘t heard anyone say they heard a yell or a scream.  And I keep going back to that thinking, if somebody accidentally fell over, they‘d would say, “Help!”, or “Ah!”

B. SMITH:  Right.

COSBY:   Or was aware that they were being pushed. 

MAUREEN SMITH, MOTHER OF GEORGE SMITH:  You would think so.

COSBY:   Has that troubled you?

B. SMITH:  Yes, it has.

M. SMITH:  Yes, a lot of things have troubled us.

G. SMITH:  We‘re very surprised that nothing, nothing was said, after that thump.  No passenger came forward or—if you were two decks down and heard this terrible thump outside your window, why wouldn‘t you call security then? We just can‘t understand people didn‘t go security and report it. You know, report had what had gone on. It‘s just hard to believe.

COSBY:   They heard other things, too.

G. SMITH:  There was like a terrible vibration. If you were in that cabin right there, why didn‘t you report this to security? We just don‘t—

I can‘t understand it.

COSBY:   My understanding is too that you guys had the impression that some of the passengers were not questioned right away? Some of the key passengers. Tell us what you‘ve learned.

M. SMITH:   You knew more about that.

B. SMITH:  Yes, as you may have heard, Rita, the Turkish police were in and off the boat in two and a half hours.  That was the entire forensic investigation and it was also the interrogation.  And from what we understand, there were only three passengers that were questioned by the Turkish police, one of which was my sister-in-law Jennifer Hagel-Smith.  Another two, one as you know, Joshua Askin (ph), who has been on the television.  And the other was one of the Russians from Florida. The two Russians from New York were not even questioned by the Turkish police. From what I understand Clete Hyman was also not questioned by the Turkish police, as well as the lawyer family on the other side.

COSBY:   These are the Russians—these were the ones from New York.

B. SMITH:  Yes.

COSBY:   And also a cousin or something in Florida or California.

B. SMITH:  That‘s right.  According to media reports, one of the Russians from New York is a person of interest, yet this person was not even questioned by the Turkish police.

COSBY:   So they were not—and you‘re sure of that?

B. SMITH:  Yes.

COSBY:   Of course, Royal Caribbean to come on the show and they did not wan to come on.  They declined to come on the show.

B. SMITH:  Right.

COSBY:   But your impression is, here are these key folks.  It is interesting because the photos that we have.  Those that show photos of the room, we had some before and after pictures of the room.  They went to the extent to take, you know, the before pictures at 9 a.m., soon after it is reported that he‘s missing.  Then they go to the degree of taking after pictures.

B. SMITH:  Right.

COSBY:  But what you‘re telling me tonight is that they didn‘t interview the key people.

B. SMITH:  Right.

COSBY:   And they didn‘t even talk to some of the neighbors.

M. SMITH:  They were only there for two hours. 

G. SMITH:  How could do you a murder investigation in 2 ½ hours?  I really think that Royal Caribbean knew that if they took this into Turkey that they were going to get a—not a very good investigation and they could get out of there quick. 

If they had waited for the FBI, you know that that boat would have been tied down for a good day to a day and a half, and they would have had to take the passengers off the boat.  And they just don‘t—that‘s not the way they operate, Royal Caribbean.  It‘s get onto the next port.  You know that.

COSBY:  Well, we‘ve gotten a lot of e-mails from people, as they look at these pictures, too, after—you know, and we‘re hearing from Royal Caribbean that the after pictures, that we‘re looking at here, are from after Turkish authorities went in, after the FBI went in, and some others.  But a lot of people are saying, “Is that the way investigators leave the trail?”

M. SMITH:  Right, but did a good job...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Yes, what‘s your reaction?  Do you feel that they sealed the room, as they said they had?

M. SMITH:  No, no, no.

G. SMITH:  No, no way.

M. SMITH:  We‘re actually here tonight to thank the Sandlers, Mr. and Mrs. Sandler, because they‘ve come forward.  And we do know that they were looking into the right cabin, even though Royal Caribbean are trying to say it wasn‘t the right cabin. 

Everybody on the ship knew what cabin my son was in.  And they—Mr.  and Mrs. Sandler, we want to thank them, and we want to plea for anybody to come forward to help us with any more information.  This is what we want. 

B. SMITH:  Yes, Rita...

COSBY:  And, in fact, let me play the comment from the Sandlers, because I want to get both of you to react.  Because it was surprising.  After all this time...

B. SMITH:  Right.

COSBY:  ... they felt impelled.  And, in fact, they felt very compelled after they saw the photos to come forward.  But let me a play a comment from the Sandlers.  This was on our show last week. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHELDON SANDLER, PASSENGER ON CRUISE SHIP:  I said my wife—I said, “Why are they cleaning this up so fast?  This isn‘t a hotel.  People aren‘t going to come for the room at 3:00.”  I mean, it seemed like they were kind of rushing the deal, whatever they were doing there. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Were you surprised, George, that—you know, here it‘s been all this time, and they‘re finally coming forward.  But they felt—they‘ve gone to the FBI, which is, of course, the most important people to go forward to. 

M. SMITH:  That‘s the most important part.

G. SMITH:  I‘m sure some people feel that, you know, once they‘ve talked to the FBI that they‘re supposed to be quiet until a grand jury or whatever is going to be, you know, brought forward.  But I guess these people were so upset about what‘s been going on they decided to come out, and we‘re looking for more people to do that since we don‘t have the passenger list and we don‘t have the crew that were on that ship.  And we just have no information to work with right now. 

COSBY:  Now, here it is.  It‘s been more than six months.  You don‘t have the passenger list.

G. SMITH:  No, we don‘t.

COSBY:  And you don‘t have the crew list?

G. SMITH:  Yes.

COSBY:  Have you asked Royal Caribbean for these materials? 

G. SMITH:  Yes, we did. 

M. SMITH:  And Eileen O‘Connor was on your show.  And she said she had given most of the information to our lawyers.  We do not have a passenger list.  And how much of the information was not handed over?

B. SMITH:  Very little. 

M. SMITH:  Right.

B. SMITH:  Very little.

COSBY:  Have you asked why they have not handed it over?  Have you asked the FBI for that information, because I would imagine the FBI has that? 

M. SMITH:  They work differently, the FBI.  They work very definitely, don‘t they? 

B. SMITH:  Yes, they aren‘t able to provide us, really, anything substantive.  But I just think it‘s very concerning where Eileen O‘Connor comes on the television and says that they‘ve...

COSBY:  Who‘s the attorney for Royal Caribbean.

B. SMITH:  Yes.  And she‘s states that she‘s given the family most of the things that we‘ve requested, when something as basic as a passenger list and a crew list have not been given to us.  I just—I think that they must be concerned about what that passenger list and crew list must lead to, because, if they don‘t want us to know who the passengers are, what are they hiding?

COSBY:  It begs the question.  Also, it helps—it hurts you, in terms of your investigation, because maybe there‘s things you‘d want to ask the passengers differently than what the other folks are and based on what you‘ve been told? 

G. SMITH:  And, Rita, you know, we were given basically 13 photographs of the original crime scene.  And I‘m sure there was probably 40.  So, Royal Caribbean, what haven‘t you given us?  There‘s got to be some important photographs that we don‘t have.  We have a lot after, of like 50 photographs, but we only got 13 of the original crime scene.  Are you hiding something from us?  You know, we have major questions there. 

COSBY:  And, again, of course, we don‘t know what happened, too.  And we don‘t know if he fell off or if it is a crime.  We don‘t have any answers in any case at this point.

M. SMITH:  I just find it very—Mr. Fain says no blood.  Captain Wright is his name.  He says droplets of blood.  And the captain himself from that ship, who was the former captain, he said, “Oh, my son must have got a bloody nose, and there was blood in the room.”  They all have different stories, how much blood was actually in the room.  And it‘s very hard for us to sit and listen to how deceitful they‘re being with us and the cover-up.  It‘s really destroying us.

G. SMITH:  I do think there‘s nothing that they have to worry about, of being brought up on charges, Royal Caribbean, for, you know, what they‘ve done.  And they‘re really trying to hide some major, major things that went on in that ship.

COSBY:  And, again, they say they‘ve cooperated.  They said they did the best they could and they were following authorities‘ leads.  I mean, they said that Turkish authorities released them, and that‘s why they were able to wash away the blood on the canopy and do others.

M. SMITH:  Right.  They could have covered it with a top.

B. SMITH:  Rita, has the FBI actually stated that the Royal Caribbean has fully cooperated?  You know, the FBI has stated that our family has fully cooperated, but I‘m aware of no statement in which the FBI has stated that Royal Caribbean has fully cooperated with its requests. 

COSBY:  Both of you—and we have not heard very much from the FBI at all, of course, on this case. 

B. SMITH:  Right, no, no. 

COSBY:  All of you, we‘re going to keep you in our prayers. 

M. SMITH:  Thank you.

COSBY:  And we will do whatever we can.

B. SMITH:  Thank you.

COSBY:  Thank you very much for being with us tonight.  Thank you. 

G. SMITH:  Thank you.

COSBY:  And of course, everybody, we want to put up the Web site, if

we could, because we want to make sure that if anybody has any information

if we can put up that Web site right now—it is, of course—actually, tell me what the Web site is, if you could?

B. SMITH:  Well, there‘s actually two.  With people with information about my brother‘s case and the cover-up afterwards, if they could contact us justiceforgeorge@aol.com

And we‘ve also formed an organization with Kendall Carver International Cruise Victims.  And if you have been a victim of a crime on a cruise ship and you‘d like to be a member of our organization, please contact info@internationalcruisevictims.org.  We just started this organization several weeks ago with your help, Rita.  And the response has been astounding.  And, in fact, some of the members of the International Cruise Victims Organization will be testifying at the hearing in Washington.  That will be held the first week in March. 

COSBY:  And, again, we‘re putting up JusticeforGeorge, too.  Anybody, of course, if you have information, make sure you contact this Web site, or also the organization that you just heard Bree talk about.  It‘s very critical, and I glad it is making some efforts and obviously helping other families, as well, which is great for all of you guys.  Thank you so much.

B. SMITH:  Thank you, Rita.

COSBY:  And meantime, we also have another exclusive in this case. 

This photo of George Smith was taken just hours before his disappearance.  And it shows him meeting actress Tara Reid, who happened to be in Greece filming a TV show.  Did this chance encounter lead to friction between George and Jennifer?  Is it totally unrelated?  What does it mean in a case? 

We‘re joined again by Clint Van Zandt.  Clint, do you think that that could have been anything?  Maybe Jennifer was upset that he was talking to this, you know, beautiful known actress a few hours earlier? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, a lot of things are possible, Rita.  You know, as we‘ve just been through with the family—and, of course, we‘re—you know, I‘m sorry for their loss like everybody else is.

But, you know, there‘s a lot of speculation on the part of the family, on the part of the cruise ship.  It‘s the investigators—it‘s the FBI that hopefully know what‘s going on.

But as you know, information has come out that there was an argument.  Allegedly, witnesses said that there was a fight between George and Jennifer, that Jennifer kicked George in the groin and then stormed out of the bar that night. 

COSBY:  Yes, and quick...

VAN ZANDT:  Now, whether or not that took place or not, people stay it did. 

COSBY:  Clint, let me put that—Let me put up a witness account, too.  It says—this is one of the witnesses, that she kind of pushed him away slightly and suddenly stood up and kicked him in the private and stumbled out of the bar.

Do you think—how much significance do you think this is to the case at all? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, again, does have that have anything to do with George?  My biggest problem here is that I think they violated a tenet of traveling with another person, which is never leave your wing man.  Always stay with the person you‘re traveling with to protect yourself.

That doesn‘t implicate Jennifer.  It doesn‘t make George responsible for what happened.  But it does say somehow the two of them got separated.  And whether they were drugged, or whether they were drinking 80-proof alcohol that night, and it had a negative affect, we know, allegedly, Jennifer was found sleeping or passed out in a hall, so, you know, there was a lot going on between this couple. 

Obviously, an argument took place.  Obviously, he had his arm around another woman.  Obviously, his wife was leaning against someone that night.   But did that have anything to do with what the FBI has to get back to? 

Again, three things, Rita.  Was it a homicide?  Was it a suicide?  Or was it a terrible accident?  All of this other noise on both sides shouldn‘t disrupt that investigation. 

COSBY:  And, Clint...

VAN ZANDT:  But the challenge is what you‘re showing right here.  That crime scene—I agree with you and your guests—that crime scene could not have been processed and witnesses could not have been interviewed in three hours. 

COSBY:  Real quick, too, if we can go back to the canopy picture, because I thought what Bree and also the Smith family said was really significant, especially.  This is from a U.S. consulate official, essentially saying to the parents, to the Smiths here, saying that there‘s a possibility that the way that it went over, the indent, that maybe he was likely dead or severely injured when he hit this canopy. 

And the other thing I keep going back to, we heard no yells.  We heard not screams.  If you‘re falling overboard, no matter how drunk you are, at some point you‘d go, “Ahh!”  What do you make of all this, Clint? 

VAN ZANDT:  Maybe you do, and maybe you don‘t.  Again, I wasn‘t there. 

The family wasn‘t there.  You know...

COSBY:  What do you make of the comments from the U.S. consulate person about the indent, that about maybe he was severely injured or dead before he hit that? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, you know what I think is going to be interesting, of course, is the family‘s bringing Henry Lee on board.  And I‘ve known Harry for years.  There‘s nobody better than him at looking at forensics.

But I know Henry‘s already looked at these photographs on your show or another show and said, you know, it‘s kind of hard to tell.  There‘s been sea spray here.  It‘s been six months. 

So the crime scene was not handled properly.  It was contaminated.  It makes the investigation very difficult for the FBI to put together.  But, again, that‘s who has to do it.  And the family—bless their soul—has got to dig in and let the law enforcement system run the investigation.

Now, Rita, you know...

COSBY:  Hey, Clint, we‘ve got to go.

VAN ZANDT:  ... they‘re asking for a list of passengers.  I don‘t know, if I was a passenger, if I would want my name given out helter-skelter to just anybody.  So there‘s two sides to this issue that I think the family and the cruise line both have to consider. 

COSBY:  No, absolutely.  And, of course, you can understand their issue, wanting to talk to everybody...

VAN ZANDT:  Sure.

COSBY:  ... and get as much information as they can.  Clint, thank you very much. 

And still ahead, find out what state is letting 13 killers walk free after being found not guilty by reason of insanity.  Are these people still dangerous?

And Susan Polk claims she killed her husband in self-defense.  But tonight, find out why she‘s trying to fire her own lawyer because of another violent death.  That is coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  Well, could a confessed killer be living next door without your knowledge?  A recent survey in a Washington State newspaper found that, of the 27 people found legally insane by juries over the past decade, almost 50 percent of them are now free.  And it may be happening all around the country. 

Joining us to talk about this issue is Frank Soichet.  He‘s a crime victims‘ attorney.  And in studio with me here is Lauren Lake, a criminal defense attorney.  And also Wendy Murphy, former sex crimes prosecutor. 

Frank, you know, are these numbers in Washington State indicative of what‘s happening elsewhere? 

FRANK SOICHET, CRIME VICTIM‘S ATTORNEY:  Well, I sure hope not.  I think that what‘s happened in Washington—and it‘s probably true in a lot of other states—is the way the mental health system is run is that you get budgetary decisions being disguised as therapeutic ones.  And you‘ve got, you know, a mental health system that is really broken, and there‘s this great pressure to depopulate the hospitals. 

COSBY:  Even if they‘ve done something horrible? 

SOICHET:  Well, I‘m right now involved—and I‘ve been in court twice in the last two years—with one of those people that‘s still there who murdered my client‘s two children, where they‘re letting him go out on community visits, unsupervised, with his son, who used the killer‘s money shortly after the murder to go out and buy himself about two dozen guns. 

COSBY:  How do you feel about that? 

SOICHET:  Well, that‘s why I was in court.  I was raising as much hell as I could. 

COSBY:  I bet.

Let me bring in Lauren, if I could, because I want to talk a little bit about one of the cases that we‘re looking at.  This is a guy named Bruce Rowan.  He was released in June.  In 1998, he was tried for killing his wife with a baseball bat and axe, then trying cover up her murder.  And juries decided he suffered severe depression.  He had a psychotic episode.  Do you believe these guys are cured and that they should be free at some point? 

LAUREN LAKE, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, what I don‘t believe is that they‘re cured, because I don‘t think mental illness is something that we can cure.  I mean, when we look at drug addiction, alcoholism, bulimia, anorexia, things like that in this country, we know that it‘s a life-long battle. 

But it‘s about managing your illness.  And I think that‘s where the problem comes, is that people don‘t often look at these defendants in this position as mentally crippled.  They just immediately make them as criminals.  But truthfully, they are people who are suffering from a mental illness, and but for that illness may not have committed that act.

COSBY:  But should they get out?  But should they get out?

LAKE:  Of course they should, because they should be given the chance to rehabilitate themselves, learn and be educated about their illness.  And if, in fact, they can then be back out on the street without a threat to the community, they should be given that opportunity.  Because, under the law, they were found not guilty because they were legally insane. 

COSBY:  Let me bring in Wendy Murphy.  Wendy, I mean, what should happen when these folks get out?  Should they go to the prison or should they—should we give them this other chance that Lauren‘s talking about? 

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  Well, why don‘t we talk about reforming the system in the way that at least respects the idea that, most of the time, insanity is a big fraud on the court, when we hear about it, especially in defense of such serious crimes as murder.  That‘s why 50 percent of them are out. 

Do you think it‘s just a little bit too convenient that they got all tuned up a few years after they got their not guilty verdict?

You know, most states are so outraged by the fraud of insanity—that is, defense attorneys paying hired guns to say, “Up is down, black is white, the guy‘s a nut.”  They‘ll say anything.  They lie with impunity.  And so many states are disgusted by this fraud on the court, they no longer have not guilty by reason of insanity.  They have what‘s called guilty but insane.  And then, when you get all tuned up, you don‘t go free.  You go to the hospital, or you go to jail.  I mean, there‘s—you can‘t walk free when you kill human beings, period.  That‘s what we need in this country. 

COSBY:  Lauren, is it overused?  I mean, in the case of Andrea Yates, for example, you know, obviously, she‘s now trying for the insanity plea in her case.  People go, “Look, you know, you killed your kids.  You killed five kids.” 

LAKE:  Cases with legal insanity have to be handled on a case-by-case basis.  I think you‘re shortchanging people who are suffering terribly from mental illness in this country by saying that everyone that‘s goes in and says, “I‘m legally insane at the time of the act,” is a fraud. 

And don‘t blame it on defense attorneys, because we then have to provide a defense for people who are entitled to one under the law.  And if, in fact, at the time of the crime, they did not know that their act was right or wrong or the nature and quality of it, we have the duty to then explain that to the court and to the jury.  And...

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY:  ... defense attorneys take the heat. 

LAKE:  Oh, no, no. 

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY:  Let me tell you something.  Don‘t suggest...

(CROSSTALK)

LAKE:  No, no, no, Wendy.

MURPHY:  No, don‘t suggest that defense attorneys don‘t deserve the heat.  I‘ll tell you why you do deserve the heat. 

LAKE:  No, no, no.  We don‘t deserve the heat.  We‘re defending our clients.

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY:  Because 90 percent of the time, it‘s a fraud.  And then you give mental illness a bad name. 

LAKE:  You know what?  Ninety percent of the time the prosecutor...

(CROSSTALK)

MURPHY:  I‘ll tell you, most mentally ill people don‘t kill. 

(CROSSTALK)

LAKE:  ... and defense attorneys are the devil...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Let me bring in poor Frank, who‘s been sitting here so patiently.  Frank, what about the issue of medicine?  Because Lauren was saying, look, if they follow through with their treatment, how can we guarantee that they are going to follow through? 

SOICHET:  Well...

COSBY:  A lot of these folks are on very severe medication.  How can we monitor they‘re doing it every day to control whatever illness they have? 

SOICHET:  That‘s the problem, that the community mental health system is so strapped, is so ignored, is so defunded that that‘s the major problem, is follow-up when people are released. 

I‘ll tell you how bad it is in my home state of Washington, how, in fact, crazy the mental health system is.  There are at least—I can‘t say this is true for all counties, but at least, on a couple of major metropolitan counties that I‘m aware of, the state contracts with them and they actually have a quota.  If you send too many people to the state mental hospital, you get your appropriation cut back, according to the contract.  There‘s a craziness quota. 

COSBY:  All right, though that‘s going to have to be the last word. 

SOICHET:  It‘s crazy.  If there are too many crazy people in the county, the local mental health system gets penalized for sending people to the state mental hospital.  And now the state...

COSBY:  Well, there‘s clearly a lot of things that have got to be changed with this system, guys.  And, unfortunately, my producer‘s going crazy (INAUDIBLE) because I‘ve got to go to the break. 

SOICHET:  Well, but now, Rita...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  All of you, thank you very much.  I‘ll have you back on again. 

LAKE:  Thank you.

COSBY:  We appreciate it, all of you terrific.  Thank you. 

SOICHET:  All right.

COSBY:  And still ahead, Susan Polk says the killing of her husband was self-defense.  But tonight, she‘s pointing the blame for another brutal killing at her own defense attorney, Dan Horowitz.  Another of her former attorneys is going to join me, live. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIEL HOROWITZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  We often have clients who lash out at us, particularly just before trial.  Now, her particular way of doing it is very personal.  It could be hurtful, if I let it be hurtful. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Well, it can certainly be very hurtful.  That was attorney Dan Horowitz responding to statements made by why his client, Susan Polk, fired her own legal team.  She‘s now saying that Horowitz may have been involved with his own wife‘s murder.

Polk is a California housewife on trial for stabbing her husband to death.  She wants to represent herself in trial, which will likely be decided at a hearing this week. 

And joining me now is one of her former attorneys, Ivan Golde.  Ivan, I want to read—this is a statement from Susan Polk as to why she‘s saying she fired her defense team.  “I have fired defense attorney Dan Horowitz and Ivan Golde because I‘ve come to suspect that Dan Horowitz may have been involved in the murder of his wife, Pamela Vitale, based on statements he made to me.”

What do you make of all of this, Ivan? 

IVAN GOLDE, DANIEL HOROWITZ‘S FRIEND AND CO-COUNSEL:  Look, I was with Daniel Horowitz when he met with Susan Polk.  On another occasion, Dan made notes right after he met with Susan.  On another occasion, Dan met with Susan for just a brief minute or two. 

Look, we have compassion for Susan Polk.  We want her to receive a fair trial.  We really do.  We‘re defense attorneys.  We can take it.  Like Dan said, clients do lash out at their lawyers.  She‘s nervous.  She‘s under a great deal of stress and pressure.  She is the one who is facing prison for the rest of her life.  If she wants...

COSBY:  Is she a bit nuts?  Is she a bit nuts, sort of like turned the tables and say, you know, he made some confession to her? 

GOLDE:  Look, is she mentally incompetent?  I‘m not sure.  Maybe she is; maybe she isn‘t.  A judge can make that determination, if the judge feels that she should get examined.  I don‘t know if that‘s going to happen.  It probably won‘t. 

But, look, she may not meet that standard.  But the fact is that she said that about Daniel Horowitz.  We know better. 

COSBY:  Well, in fact...

GOLDE:  It‘s just a scared client, Rita.  It‘s a scared client.

COSBY:  And real quick, her—in fact, her own mom, we spoke with her mother, Helen Bolling, she said, “I believe him,” meaning Dan Horowitz, “to be one of the most compassionate and empathetic human beings I‘ve ever met.  I told his wife that when I met her.”  So, she‘s very much supportive of Dan. 

Real quickly, how is Dan holding up, real quick? 

GOLDE:  Dan‘s doing fine.  He‘s doing great.  And we all feel sorry for Susan Polk.  We have empathy for her.  We have sympathy for her, and we hope she receives a fair trial.  We really do. 

COSBY:  Ivan, thanks so much.  We‘re glad you‘re with us.  And we‘re going to be right back, everybody.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And that does it for me on LIVE & DIRECT.  Tomorrow, we will follow up again on the hostage situation.  Also, the manhunt—remember, the break-out that took place at the Alabama jail?  We will be following that closely and bring you any updates.

I‘m Rita Cosby.  “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” with Joe starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 NBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon NBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,