updated 2/2/2006 9:08:06 AM ET 2006-02-02T14:08:06

Guests: Rusty Yates, George Parnham, Dave Wedge, Emma Murphy, Jack Levin, William Fallon, Jonna Spilbor, Ron Christie, Elizabeth De La Vega

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, the Texas mother who admits drowning her five children could soon be out of jail. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  Her conviction overturned.  Now a judge sets $200,000 bond for Andrea Yates while she awaits a new trial for drowning her children in a bathtub.  What does she do now?  We‘ll ask her ex-husband Rusty and her attorney. 

And the family of a Massachusetts mother and baby found murdered in their home laid them to rest, but the father described as a person of interest is a no-show. 

Plus, it sure sounds like the vice president‘s former chief of staff “Scooter” Libby is preparing to argue he was so busy with more important national security issues that he couldn‘t remember the truth about what he knew in the CIA leak investigation. 

The program about justice starts now.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket, Andrea Yates, the Texas mom who drowned her five children, may be released today on bond.  Just hours ago a judge set bond at $200,000.  Remember, she needs to get just 10 percent of that, $20,000, to walk out the door.  The judge said that if released Yates must be transferred from the Harris County Jail where she is now to a mental hospital in Texas, until her second trial begins in March.  Yates drowned her children in the bathtub in 2001, calling 911 for help immediately afterwards. 

(BEGIN AUDIOTAPE)

911 OPERATOR:  What‘s your name?

ANDREA YATES:  Andrea Yates.

911 OPERATOR:  What‘s the problem?

A. YATES:  I just need them to come.

911 OPERATOR:  Are you having a disturbance?  Are you ill or what?

A. YATES:  Yes, I‘m ill.

911 OPERATOR:  Do you need an ambulance?

A. YATES:  No, I need a police officer.  Yes, send an ambulance.

911 OPERATOR:  Are you sure you‘re alone?

A. YATES:  No, my kids are here.

(END AUDIOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Her conviction was overturned when a Texas court of appeals ruled that a key prosecution witness gave false testimony. 

Joining me now is Rusty Yates, Andrea Yates‘ ex-husband.  Rusty, thanks a lot for coming back on the program.  We appreciate it.

RUSTY YATES, ANDREA YATES‘ EX-HUSBAND:  Thank you for having me.

ABRAMS:  So I guess this is a big day for you.  This is what you‘ve been shooting for, for awhile. 

R. YATES:  Well it‘s at least a taste of it (INAUDIBLE).  I mean you know she‘ll get to spend a little time in a hospital if, you know, if they can come up with the bond...

ABRAMS:  Let‘s talk about that.  Two hundred thousand dollars would mean that either they could put up $200,000, get it back assuming she shows up, or $20,000, give it to a bail bondsman.  Are you going to contribute to that? 

R. YATES:  I haven‘t really talked to Mr. Parnham about it.  I need to find out where he‘s at with that.  You know, if it came down to it, I might, you know sure.  But it‘s—you know it‘s still you know from my perspective, kind of further injury to our family, in a sense, you know that...

ABRAMS:  What do you mean?

R. YATES:  ... that you know we‘ve already spent—well I mean everyone has spent you know hundreds of thousands of dollars on the first trial.  You know that you know verdict was overturned because of false testimony by Park Dietz, so now you know here‘s more money again.  You know it‘s like—it‘s kind of in my mind punishing the families who have already lost so much, you know.

ABRAMS:  But as a practical matter it is the only way she is going to be released.  And you know it is something that you and I have talked about so many times, that you have said how important it is for her to get the help that she needs.  If this is the only way—you know I know this is the question that all my viewers are going to be asking, is are you going to do everything that you need to, to make sure that she gets there? 

R. YATES:  Well, I mean yes.  Obviously, you know we‘re trying to get a bond together to get her you know into a hospital, but you know that‘s only temporary.  I mean that would only be until, you know, a trial date or until the—you know they reached a plea bargain.  So I—you know it‘s a short-term blessing in that sense, although, like I said, I think the judge set the bond a little high, since Andrea‘s by no accounts any kind of a danger or risk of flight.  Just you know further hardship for the families, that‘s all. 

ABRAMS:  Does she have any family money that could be contributed? 

R. YATES:  I don‘t really know about that...

ABRAMS:  Does she want to go, Rusty? 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Does she want to—you know—I mean you‘ve met with her.  You‘ve talked to her.  Does she, (A), understand what that would mean?  And if she does, is that something that she wants? 

R. YATES:  I think she understands what it means.  I think any time there‘s change, you know, then there‘s—you know she—you know there‘s some stress associated with that.  I mean she—one thing she‘s been thankful for in the prison setting that she‘s been in is the fact that they‘ve done a pretty nice job of protecting her, you know, from other inmates and things like that.

And that‘s been an outstanding concern of hers, because you know all it takes is one person who doesn‘t understand and you know she could be harmed.  So I think there‘s a greater risk of that in a prison setting than in a hospital, but I‘m sure you know the uncertainty for her causes you know additional worry and stress. 

ABRAMS:  You know, Rusty, you and I have talked about this and a whole other host of issues related to this case many times.  Am I reading you wrong or is there something of a mixed reaction to this on your part?  I mean I guess I expected you to be ecstatic, because you know you have said so many times that you think that she just needs treatment.  She needs to get that treatment that she needs.  And I was expecting you to say hallelujah we‘re finally getting it.  It sounds like you kind of have a mixed response to it.

R. YATES:  Well I‘m very happy she‘s going, you know she may be going to a hospital setting.  I‘m very happy about that.  It‘s just—I guess what concerns me is sitting in the courtroom this morning and seeing the same you know hardened attitudes on the part of the prosecutors and the judge and you know realizing that well this is temporary and we‘re going—you know here we go again.

We‘re going to have to go through this whole traumatic experience again, so it‘s kind of a short-term you know blessing, like I said, in that sense that she may get to go to a hospital, but it‘s, you know the realization and the reminder of you know the—you know how hard and you know the prosecutors are and the judge are in this, that you know—and so that part is discouraging to me. 

I‘d really like to see this case resolved and see Andrea, you know, maybe you know not guilty by reason of insanity plea or no contest plea and have her go to a hospital for you know some certain number of years.  I‘d be fine with that.  But you know the prospect of going back to trial, you know just seeing everything again, you know seeing all the same players, just four years later, it‘s troubling you know in that sense, so...

ABRAMS:  How did she look to you? 

R. YATES:  She looked good.  You know she‘s been pretty steady, you know pretty stable, I think, for a little over a year on medications.  I think coming over here to Houston brought back a lot of bad reminders for her, a lot of the you know thoughts that she had while she was here.  Some of the psychotic thoughts that she had when she was first brought to jail.  Not that she became psychotic again coming here because she‘s still on anti-psychotic medication, but she—it was still troubling for her to come back here you know to Houston, so...

ABRAMS:  Is the medication working? 

R. YATES:  I think it is.  I think she‘s pretty stable.  They‘ve got her on an anti-psychotic/mood stabilizer that seems to be working pretty well for her.  It‘s probably not strong enough to actually bring her out of her psychotic state in the time she‘s relapsed, but it‘s good for maintaining her sanity now. 

ABRAMS:  Does the idea of another trial and being back inside that courtroom also bring back memories for you of your children?  I‘m not suggesting that you don‘t think about them every day, but I mean the idea that you‘re going to be forced to relive much of this again? 

R. YATES:  Yes, sure it does.  You know it is hurtful and what was interesting to me today, you know, I heard a few words from one of the prosecutors you know coming into the courtroom today how she was you know sorry for my loss of you know of our children and things like that, which I appreciated.  And it‘s interesting to me, it kind of dawned on me that you know the state cares about our children and the defense cares about our children, but you know their response to the tragedy is very different. 

You know what they think is best in terms of, you know, respecting our children in that sense is very different.  And you know my wish you know as a society, you know, that we could do something a little more constructive than you know killing women who develop postpartum psychosis and harm their children.  You know, I‘d really like to see us you know treat them, understand that in many respects they‘re victims, too, and learn what we can and try to prevent it in the future.  You know that‘s...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

R. YATES:  ... you know imprisoning or killing a woman who suffers from postpartum psychosis and does something wrong you know is in no way going to prevent another woman from developing psychosis, too.  You know, so it‘s not preventive.  It‘s just cruel. 

ABRAMS:  I know someone who agrees with you on that is going to be joining us now.  Rusty, thanks a lot for coming back on the program.  We appreciate it.

R. YATES:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Joining me now is George Parnham, who is Andrea Yates‘ attorney and he joins us again.  George thanks for coming back on the program.  Appreciate it.

GEORGE PARNHAM, ANDREA YATES‘ ATTORNEY:  Thanks for asking me.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me ask you the bottom line question.  Are you going to be able to raise the money to get Andrea Yates out on bond? 

PARNHAM:  Have or will, will I?

ABRAMS:  Are you going to be able to do it?

PARNHAM:  We‘re going to put together the resources to get her out of the Harris County jail facility and placed in a proper mental health facility, as you well know up in Rusk, Texas.  I hope that that will be accomplished sometime tomorrow.

ABRAMS:  Where are you going to get the money from? 

PARNHAM:  I don‘t want to go into the benefactors‘ background or the results of any efforts that we have put together to come up with the funds.  Obviously, I don‘t have the necessary capital to make the bond.  I would if I did.  I‘m not asking the family to further undergo a financial hardship. 

But I think that we‘re going to be able to accomplish that and after all, you know there are people in this community that realize the importance of these mental health issues.  And suffice it to say, Andrea Yates presents the extreme case, the severest case of mental health illness... 

ABRAMS:  Let me get back to something that you said a minute ago. 

PARNHAM:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  You said you‘re not going to ask the family.  And you heard me just talking to Rusty Yates there.  He said he had not talked to you about this yet.  Why not? 

PARNHAM:  Well I don‘t think that anybody has those resources.  I certainly know that the Kennedys don‘t.  Andrea Yates‘ mom and her brothers do not have the resources to make a $10,000 bond, much less a bond of $100,000.  And as far as Rusty is concerned, if that is a last resort...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

PARNHAM:  ... I would go to Rusty.  I don‘t think that it‘s going to be a last resort and I think those funds are going to be made available somewhere else.  Remember, we are also in a position not only of trying to negotiate the results of this case to avoid the seraphic (ph) possibility of going back to trial, but the negotiating also includes the terms and financial percentage of what a bondsman in this community would accept. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Let me ask you this, a plea deal, anything in the works?

PARNHAM:  We are still talking.  It is everyone‘s desire that we get this case and these matters wrapped up.  As both sides understand, there are a couple of nonnegotiables that must be addressed.  And one nonnegotiable is future security of Andrea Yates, physical security, free from harm.  The second is continued mental health care for her. 

Because as Rusty indicated, you know, it‘s generations of future children who demand, literally, that the mother that cares for them the most and takes care of them and upon whom they look to, to supply their needs is as free from mental illness as possible...

ABRAMS:  You know what the state would say...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  You know what the state would say.  The state would say we also want to make sure that this doesn‘t happen and also that there‘s some punishment involved in our criminal justice system, as well. 

PARNHAM:  And you‘re absolutely correct.  But I venture to say that women who suffer from postpartum illnesses, albeit not anywhere close to the severity of what happened to Andrea Yates.  Most mothers suffer baby blues and some of those mothers get clinically depressed.  And some of those mothers get psychotic and by prosecuting a woman who obviously suffered from a severe mental illness, as agreed to by the state...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

PARNHAM:  ... their own doctors said and agreed...

ABRAMS:  Yes, everyone agreed that she was mentally ill in this case.

PARNHAM:  Right.

(CROSSTALK)

PARNHAM:  I mean we don‘t serve the causes down the road of future generations...

ABRAMS:  Got to wrap it up.

PARNHAM:  ... children.

ABRAMS:  George Parnham, as always, thank you for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.

PARNHAM:  You bet.  Thank you very much.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, -- quote—“person of interest” Neil Entwistle is a no-show at the funeral for his wife and baby daughter in Massachusetts.  He‘s apparently still holed up somewhere in England. 

And lawyers for the only person indicted in the leak of a CIA officer‘s name detail the defense.  They say if “Scooter” Libby said anything that wasn‘t true to investigators of the grand jury it was because he was so busy protecting the country.  Is that a real defense? 

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  He didn‘t show, the husband and father of murder victims Rachel and Lillian Entwistle, didn‘t show up for their funeral today.  Twenty-seven-year-old mother and 9-month-old daughter found shot to death in the suburban Boston home where they‘re renting a week and a half ago were laid to rest today in the same coffin.  But the failure of Neil Entwistle to show up, a man described as a person of interest, is raising eyebrows. 

Entwistle holed up in his parents‘ home in England for days now, was spotted yesterday leaving with his parents.  No one knows at this point where he was going or where he is now.  And reports indicate that so far he has refused to be interviewed by authorities. 

Joining me now once again is “Boston Herald” reporter Dave Wedge, former Massachusetts prosecutor Bill Fallon, and criminal defense attorney Jonna Spilbor and Jack Levin, criminologist and professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern University.  Thanks to all of you for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

All right, Dave Wedge, anything new here?  I mean do we still believe that he is refusing to speak to the authorities? 

DAVE WEDGE, “BOSTON HERALD” REPORTER:  Well our best information unfortunately hasn‘t changed.  That he remains in England.  The investigators here are continuing to do their due diligence and there‘s no indication that he‘s been interviewed.  Detectives have not gone back to England and there‘s been no arrest warrant issued in this case, so it‘s actually status quo today.

ABRAMS:  And do we know anything more about why he decided not to come? 

WEDGE:  We don‘t.  You know as I said, the best information we have is that he is staying with another relative in England.  We had an investigator tell us that Rachel‘s family did not feel that he was welcome at the funeral, so perhaps that played into why he didn‘t come, that he—on top of the fact that you know investigators want to talk to him, if he does come here.  Her family didn‘t want him there, according to our sources. 

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you, Dave, there was a report in “The Sun” in London, reporting that and I quote—“Neil Entwistle phoned the family of his murdered wife and said I can‘t remember how I got to England.  Is it true Rachel and Lillian are dead?”

Have you been able to confirm that? 

WEDGE:  That‘s one of the things we‘re chasing down today.  I don‘t know where that information came from.  They quote a source close to the family.  We‘re trying to run that down.  If that is indeed true, it‘s very interesting and it‘s the first indication that he reached out to the family after the murders. 

And there‘s also this whole bit about the stepfather‘s guns, that he had this large gun collection.  And this was in the home where Neil lived with Rachel until 10 days before the murders.  Our information is that‘s another angle that the investigators are looking at.  So the pieces in the puzzle are starting to come together...

ABRAMS:  Are there any guns missing from the stepfather‘s house that we know of? 

WEDGE:  Our information is that there is not...

ABRAMS:  All right, so then what‘s the relevance, then? 

(CROSSTALK)

WEDGE:  Well the possibility is there that he used one of the guns and returned it. 

ABRAMS:  OK.

WEDGE:  And our information is that those guns are being closely looked at in this investigation.  That they‘re looking at all the guy‘s guns to see if possibly the murder weapon might be among them. 

ABRAMS:  Emma Murphy joins us, ITN reporter who is in London.  Emma, do you know where Neil Entwistle is? 

EMMA MURPHY, ITN REPORTER:  Well we‘re trying to find out where Neil Entwistle is today.  It‘s an international search for one man, really.  It‘s thought he isn‘t far from his parents‘ home, which (INAUDIBLE) East Midlands about two hours from London.  But quite where exactly he is, is not yet known, but there are members of the media from across the world currently trying to seek him out. 

ABRAMS:  This is what Martha Coakley, the prosecutor from Middlesex County, said on this program last week. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They found under covers the mother and daughter.  And not obvious signs of violence.  In other words, there was not blood on the sheets and in fact until the M.E. and the technicians arrived it was not clear how they had died.  There did appear to be at least one bullet in the baby.  It was only upon autopsy completed yesterday the M.E. found the gunshot wound to Rachel‘s head, which he deemed to be the cause of death. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  All right, Jack Levin, I‘ve spoken with both Jonna Spilbor and Bill Fallon about this at length.  What are your initial reactions to what we know about time of death, about cause of death, about Neil Entwistle‘s actions, et cetera? 

JACK LEVIN, CRIMINOLOGIST:  Well you know, I don‘t want to condemn anyone based on almost no evidence at all.  On the other hand, on a statistical basis alone, you‘d have to have suspected him from the beginning.  He‘s more than a person of interest that‘s for sure.  Of course, the D.A. isn‘t going to call him a suspect, because for one thing I don‘t think there‘s a lot of evidence here against him. 

And then two, they don‘t want him to flee.  You know now he‘s in England.  You don‘t know where he‘s going to end up next.  They may never get him.  And that‘s why he didn‘t come back to the funeral.  It‘s not what the victims‘ parents thought of him.  It‘s that he probably knows that he‘s guilty.  He doesn‘t want to be arrested.  He doesn‘t want to go to the American embassy.  Certainly he doesn‘t want to come back to Boston, and it seems to me that that really indicates that he‘s probably guilty. 

ABRAMS:  Here‘s the critical timeline.  Thursday, January 19 was the last time Rachel was heard from.  The 20th, he reportedly bought a plane ticket to London.  Saturday the 21st it‘s believed—at least his name was on a passenger list, 8:15 a.m. flight for London.  Sunday the bodies of Rachel and Lillian were found at 6:30 p.m. 

Dave Wedge, are you able to confirm that on Friday the 20th of January he bought a ticket to London?

WEDGE:  No and that‘s another lead we‘re tracking down.  We don‘t know where that report came out of.  The investigators on this case are—

Martha Coakley‘s office are being pretty tight-lipped about that.  It seems clear that he was on that 8:15 a.m. flight, though.  I would say that‘s a crucial piece of this case though, when he bought that ticket. 

ABRAMS:  But, I don‘t know, Bill Fallon, does it really matter that much?  I mean if he‘s flying out on Saturday morning, regardless of when he bought the ticket, I guess his argument could be well I bought the ticket well in advance, et cetera.  He still is leaving coincidentally close to the time that his wife is killed.

WILLIAM FALLON, FORMER ESSEX COUNTY MA PROSECUTOR:  Absolutely, Dan.  All it would mean is that the prosecution would try the case a little differently.  Obviously, if on Friday he calls up, arguably having just murdered his wife and his baby, and said I need a quick ticket to London, that‘s a little benefit for the prosecution of any case because we know (INAUDIBLE) on the quick notice if in fact you‘re going to a death—to a funeral.  He was going away...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FALLON:  ... from a death and a funeral.  I think—but on the other hand, if it‘s a planned type of thing, he‘s out for nine days.  Someone would say you could plan the whole thing that says they moved out of here so that he could in fact do this to her.  I will tell you this, Dan.  The most interesting fact will be if it is in fact a fact, what “The Sun” has reported, “The London Sun”...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FALLON:  ... that in fact he spoke to the family and says—it almost reminds me of that insanity defense coming here, I‘m a little cloudy, not even sure how I got here, is it true they‘re dead.  I‘m not even sure how I got here is...

ABRAMS:  Yes, yes.  I mean...

FALLON:  ... screams of...

ABRAMS:  Right...

FALLON:  ... a fake story. 

ABRAMS:  No question.  If that‘s confirmed.  Let me also point out because Dave Wedge had asked where that report came from that Friday January 20 that he had bought a plane ticket to London.  That was from Reuters.  As to where that report came from, again, Dave is working to confirm that independently himself.

All right.  So Jonna, what about that?  I mean this report that he calls the family and says I can‘t remember how I got to England.  Is it true Rachel and Lillian are dead?  Boy, if he said that, he‘s in some big trouble.

JONNA SPILBOR, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Yes.  Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.  I don‘t know if he said that.  We basically know nothing at this point.  Let me float another theory, what if this guy‘s not coming back to the funeral, Dan, because he‘s afraid that the next bullet is going to be put in his head.  We don‘t know who killed his wife and daughter...

ABRAMS:  Wouldn‘t he go to the authorities and tell them that? 

(CROSSTALK)

SPILBOR:   But what if it were a third party...

FALLON:  Wouldn‘t you be screaming...

SPILBOR:   ... who threatened him? 

FALLON:  Jonna, if you were...

(CROSSTALK)

FALLON:  ... the attorney, wouldn‘t you have your client, have somebody to say I am so upset, this is so horrible, how could this happen. 

SPILBOR:   Not until...

FALLON:  I‘m not coming—but nothing is being said, Jonna.

SPILBOR:   Not until I fully investigated that, not the D.A., not...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let her finish, Bill.  Hang on.

SPILBOR:   ... until I fully investigated that would I be screaming here—would I be offering that up. 

ABRAMS:  But, Jonna, you‘re throwing that out there, but you realize that...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... what you‘re throwing out is a possibility of the fact that he‘s scared to come home because he‘s going to get a bullet in his head and that he hasn‘t told any of the authorities that fear and he‘s sort of keeping it to himself, right?  Kind of a long shot...

SPILBOR:   You know...

(CROSSTALK)

SPILBOR:   ... at this point.  He‘s equally innocent as he is guilty.  I‘m the only one who‘s willing to say this guy didn‘t do it and then get on a plane and go England.  So we have to examine all the possibilities...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

SPILBOR:   ... just like the D.A. has to examine all the possibilities. 

ABRAMS:  Look—and look the D.A.—let‘s make it clear, the D.A.  does not have—this is number eight—this is according to Emily LaGrassa, Middlesex D.A. spokesperson.

There is no warrant for his arrest.  At this point he‘s free to do whatever he likes.  It‘s not as though he is on U.S. soil, if he‘s on U.S.  soil the situation is any different.

Everyone is going to stick around.  Dave Wedge, though, thanks a lot. 

We appreciate you coming on the program.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  And we‘re going to have...

WEDGE:  Sure.  Thanks for having me.

ABRAMS:  ... more on this case.  Want to check back in, in England and see what else they know there.

Also coming up, lawyers for the vice president‘s former chief of staff lay out a strategy for his defense in the CIA leak investigation.  Could they really be saying that “Scooter” Libby was too busy to remember the truth? 

And who knew that you couldn‘t support the troops at the State of the Union.  Well, the wife of a congressman was asked to leave because she wore a shirt that said just that.  She wasn‘t alone.  Antiwar protester Cindy Sheehan got the boot for her shirt as well.  Is it constitutional to throw them out for their sartorial choices?

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike.  We continue our search today in Michigan.

Trying to help the authorities there locate Kenneth DeGraw.  He‘s 40, five-seven, 205, was convicted of sexual assault.  A warrant has been issued for him for failing to comply with sex offender reporting duties.  There‘s the number, 866-501-SORT. 

Be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, more on the Massachusetts mother and baby found murdered in their home.  They were laid to rest, but the father described as a person of interest a no-show at the funeral.  First the headlines.

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN ROSSITER, NEIL ENTWISTLE‘S FORMER TEACHER:  He was a very personable young man.  He talked maturely to adults.  He talked maturely to his friends.  He‘s just a nice guy to have around in school and he was just a generally a nice student, the ideal model student.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Apparently more can be said about Neil Entwistle as a student than about him as a father and husband.  He didn‘t show up today for his wife‘s and baby‘s funerals.  Rachel and Lillian Entwistle gunned down.  Their bodies found inside their suburban Boston home about a week and a half ago.  It‘s possible the bodies were there for days.  And where was the loving husband?

Well around the same time, he was traveling to England.  He‘s been described as a person of interest but that‘s it.  Back with me is my panel, including ITN reporter Emma Murphy who is in London.  All right, Emma, I understand you‘ve had a chance to speak to some of the neighbors out there.  What do they say about him?

MURPHY:  Well I spent the last few days around the Entwistle family home in Worksop, a small town in the East Midlands two hours from London.  And the neighbors have lived close to the family for around 20 years.  And they are absolutely stunned at what‘s going on.  And they say that they remember Neil Entwistle as a young boy, as a very diligent young boy.  A diligent student, a child. 

He brought no problems home to his parents.  And they said that (INAUDIBLE) over the last few years they‘ve not seen so much of him, they have heard about how his life is developed, how he married Rachel and then they heard of the pride from the proud grandparents that baby Lillian had been born.  Those neighbors are obviously now asking an awful lot of questions.  The Entwistles themselves have left the house to go to an undisclosed destination.

And the neighbor are saying to me today why was it that he actually left when his wife and child appeared to be dead?  What was he doing over in America?  How did he afford the lifestyle that they appeared to be living?  More than anything else, why did he not go back to the funeral? 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

MURPHY:  That seems to be the issue that people are really struggling to deal with. 

ABRAMS:  And that‘s what I want to ask Jack Levin about.  I mean he studies this stuff.  He‘s a criminologist.  Jack, similar circumstances.  Let‘s take other cases that you‘ve studied where...

LEVIN:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... the husband or the spouse is a person of interest, where the person is not speaking to the authorities.  We‘re not going to have an exact replica we have here, but let‘s say the person also isn‘t near the crime scene anymore, doesn‘t come home, et cetera.  Have you ever seen a case with similar sorts of facts where the person didn‘t end up being charged? 

LEVIN:  Well, you know, it is interesting that I‘ve studied this now for about 25 years.  And I can tell that you that in almost every case, you‘ll find some catastrophic event of some loss.  Usually it‘s a financial loss in the life of the killer.  And you know in some cases, we‘re talking about a suicidal rampage.  The killer wants to kill himself but he decides he‘s going to take his entire family with him to a better life in the hereafter and that‘s why he kills a baby, not just his wife. 

But then there is also the case of a husband, father who is going through a nasty separation and divorce.  And he blames his wife for all of his personal miseries and decides to kill her and everything she loves. 

ABRAMS:  But I‘m guessing what I‘m asking, Jack...

LEVIN:  ... and that includes the child because he identifies her with the wife.

ABRAMS:  Jack, have you seen scenarios, because as Jonna Spilbor will tell us repeatedly that we have to presume him innocent and we have to be...

LEVIN:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  ... quite clear that no arrest warrant has been filed in this case.  And so I‘m asking you in your studies, have you seen cases where everything looked awful for the husband but then it turned out, either the person wasn‘t charged or was found to be not guilty? 

LEVIN:  I‘ve really never seen that, Dan.  And you know if you go back to the Scott Peterson case.  It‘s true that he attended the funeral and he put up a front of sympathy and compassion for his wife.  But keep in mind, he also tried to flee the country, apparently. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

LEVIN:  It was a lot easier for this husband/father to do that.  And when he did it, he was thousands of miles away. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, I apologize to Bill and Jonna because I‘m out of time.  This is just Martha Coakley real quick from January 25, talking about the crime itself, the D.A. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARTHA COAKLEY, MIDDLESEX DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  The indications are that it probably wasn‘t planned much in advance.  We sense that people expected him there Saturday, but we‘re certainly not sure yet. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  We will continue to follow this story.  Emma Murphy, Bill Fallon, Jonna Spilbor, and Jack Levin, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

SPILBOR:   Thanks, Dan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, lawyers for Vice President Cheney‘s former chief of staff detail his defense in the CIA leak investigation.  Is it possible “Scooter” Libby‘s defense is that he could not work to protect the country and also remember the truth at the same time? 

And later, what you didn‘t see or hear at last night‘s State of the Union address sure makes it seem like the State of the Union might be a bit fragile.  It‘s my “Closing Argument” coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the CIA leak investigation, could it just be that the vice president‘s chief of staff was too busy to remember the truth?  That‘s what his lawyers suggest. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  He was too busy trying to protect the country to remember the truth.  That seems to be the defense “Scooter” Libby is going to pursue as the vice president‘s former chief of staff fights obstruction, false statements and perjury charges in the CIA leak case.  Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald says Libby lied to the grand jury and the FBI about his role in outing former CIA officer Valerie Plame, wife of administration critic, Ambassador Joseph Wilson. 

In court papers filed Tuesday, Libby‘s lawyers say—quote—“Mr.  Libby may be able to show the jury that the matters at issue were of relatively less importance compared to the other matters that fell within his sphere of responsibility as assistant to the president of the United States, chief of staff of the vice president to the United States, and assistant to the vice president for national security affairs.”

“My Take”—boy, that‘s going to be tough (INAUDIBLE) the idea that Libby was so busy with other things, he just didn‘t forget crucial details in his sworn testimony, but got them wrong.  Especially when he‘s so specific, like when he told the grand jury on March 24, 2004 about a conversation he supposedly had with “TIME” magazine‘s Matt Cooper about Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson.

Quote—“Basically we didn‘t know anything about Wilson until this stuff came out in June.  I didn‘t know he had a wife.  That was one of the things I said to Mr. Cooper.  I didn‘t know about him.  And the only thing I had I thought at the time was what reporters are telling us.”

The prosecutors made out a pretty persuasive case that wasn‘t true.  Ron Christie is a former deputy assistant to Vice President Cheney.  He worked with “Scooter” Libby in Cheney‘s office.  He‘s also the author of “Black in the White House: Life Inside George W. Bush‘s West Wing”, and Elizabeth De La Vega is a former federal prosecutor and a contributor to “The Nation” magazine.

So Ron, is this really going to be the defense, is I was so busy dealing with the issues of weigh the importance to this country that I forgot the truth? 

RON CHRISTIE, FORMER CHIEF DEPUTY ASSISTANT:  Well Dan I think when Mr. Libby and his defense team have outlined is that after the 9/11 attacks, and I can tell you from personal experience from having been in the vice president‘s office after the 9/11 attacks, that we were having meetings from very early in the morning until very late at night.  And I think what Mr. Libby and his defense team are asserting in fact is that it might have been a mistake of fact of which reporter or which individual whom he had spoken to, but he‘s not trying to suggest, I don‘t believe, by his filing of saying oh well, I just was so busy that I just lied and made it all up.  I think what he‘s saying is that he was so busy that he might not have actually gotten the information from a reporter, say reporter A, maybe he got it from reporter B, and that he made a mistake, an honest mistake of fact because he was so preoccupied...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  There are two things I would say to that.  First of all, we are talking about 2003 here.  We‘re not talking about 2001.  And second of all, we‘re not talking about mistakes about which reporter he said it to.  We‘re talking about whether he gave the reporters the information or he got it from the reporters.  And the prosecutors I think you‘d agree have made out a pretty persuasive case that he didn‘t get the information from the reporters, as he claims.

CHRISTIE:  Well I think that‘s another item that Mr. Libby and his defense team are going after in their pretrial discovery motions, Dan, of they want to be able to ascertain what reporters had access to information about Ms. Plame‘s covert status and in fact whether or not the prosecutor has information that might tend to shed light in fact that Mr. Libby received the information from the reporters and not from the government or from the CIA as the prosecutor alleged.

ABRAMS:  But he‘s not going to deny—I mean there‘s a paper trail here.  He‘s not going to deny that these people from the CIA and others told him the name, right?  I mean he may say I forgot.  He‘s not going to deny that‘s how he got the name, is he? 

CHRISTIE:  Well I think, Dan, again, one of the key aspects of what the prosecutor has alleged is that he said that Mr. Libby was the beginning of a gossip chain, if you will.  I believe what Mr. Libby and his defense are going to assert is in fact that this was information that was being discussed by a number of reporters.  That in fact Mr. Libby...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  That‘s obscuring the issue.  The real issue is did he lie.  And that‘s not—that doesn‘t go to, you know, did it—was it this reporter or that reporter...

CHRISTIE:  Right.

ABRAMS:  Was he first or second?  It goes to fundamental issues of what was said and what wasn‘t.  Let me read...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... a little bit more from the motion here. 

Mr. Libby will show that in the constant rush of more pressing matters, any errors he made in his FBI interviews or grand jury testimony months after the conversations were the result of confusion, mistake, or faulty memory rather than a willful intent to deceive.

And Elizabeth...

CHRISTIE:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... that‘s really the key there, is it not?  I mean it‘s the issue of he‘s going to say it wasn‘t my intent, even if I made mistakes. 

ELIZABETH DE LA VEGA, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Well absolutely, Dan.  And the problem with this defense is that every case begins from the prosecution‘s point of view, which is the need to prove the allegations in the indictment.  And the allegations in the indictment, if proved, are going to make it virtually impossible for Mr. Libby to pull off this defense, because what it alleges is that beginning in early June through July, Mr. Libby had at least six different conversations with people in his own shop, beginning with his own superiors, the vice president of the United States. 

So it‘s absurd for him to suggest that he forgot about that conversation, as well as the one with the senior counsel to the vice president, with the CIA briefer, with the CIA official and several other people, as well as conversations he had with Judith Miller.  It‘s not as if he simply said I don‘t remember.  As you mentioned, he made up an affirmative and not particularly complex, but complex enough lie to make it very clear that he was carefully crafting his response...

ABRAMS:  But how...

DE LA VEGA:  He wasn‘t just saying I can‘t remember...

ABRAMS:  ... how hard is it going to be for the prosecutors to show that it was a lie as opposed to mistakes? 

DE LA VEGA:  Well, once you show that Mr. Libby had not just one, not two, but at least eight different conversations about this matter before the grand jury testimony, and the first conversation he had with the FBI about this was in October of 2003.  And the article—the Joseph Wilson article came out in July...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

DE LA VEGA:  ... so it was a short period of time.  And during that period—during the intervening time there are about 30 press conferences where the president and Scott McClellan were asked about this very matter. 

ABRAMS:  Bottom line...

DE LA VEGA:  It was always on the front burner. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Yes.  It‘s going to be tough.  Ron Christie, final 10 seconds.

CHRISTIE:  Sure.  Dan, my—again I—going back to the time that I was in the White House and I mention 2001 -- obviously the period of time we‘re talking about is 2003...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

CHRISTIE:  ... there was so much going on, I think Mr. Libby‘s defense is coming up with the mistake of fact, with all that was going on with him trying to...

ABRAMS:  Mistake or fact, OK, look, I‘m willing to listen to a mistake of fact defense.  I think that‘s what I expected to hear, but the notion that he‘s going to say he was so busy that that makes it—that could explain why he got everything wrong.  I mean I think he should say look—

I think the defense (INAUDIBLE) we got it wrong.  To suggest that because they were dealing with national security issues that to me seems to be kind of a cheap shot issue.  That doesn‘t really address the question of lying versus not lying.  But we shall see.  And I‘m sure that there will be people who will disagree with me. 

CHRISTIE:  More to come.

ABRAMS:  Ron Christie, Elizabeth De La Vega, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

CHRISTIE:  Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the State of the Union speech is supposed to be a high point for showing off American democracy.  Then why were people exercising their right to free speech ejected for what they were wearing? 

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike.  This week we are in Michigan. 

Authorities need your help locating Christopher Higbee.  He‘s 29, six-one, 160.  He was convicted of criminal sexual conduct, has several warrants out for his arrest.  If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Tri County Sex Offender Registry, 866-501-SORT.

Be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—I was glad to hear only moments ago that Capitol police came to their senses and fessed up, telling NBC News that they—quote—“screwed up last night”.  After all, who would have thought that a congressman‘s wife would not be allowed to publicly support our troops?  That‘s what happened at the president‘s State of the Union speech last night.  Beverly Young, wife of Republican Congressman Bill Young, was asked to leave the House Chamber for wearing a sweatshirt that simply stated support the troops, defending our freedom. 

Apparently they thought she was violating a federal statute that can keep demonstrators out of the Capitol Building.  She wasn‘t the only one.  Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan whose son Casey was killed in Iraq wore a shirt that said 2245 dead, how many more, referring to the number of Americans killed in Iraq so far.  She was charged with unlawful conduct. 

Again, according to NBC News, those charges will be dropped.  Both women entered the chambers with valid tickets as invited guests of Congress people.  No sit-in, no indication either intended to disrupt the event.  They were just wearing shirts.

Look, there are good reasons to have rules in the Capitol Building about protest, safety, security, decorum are crucial.  After all, the president‘s cabinet and the Supreme Court are there.  The State of the Union is not a time or place for noisy public protest.  It‘s also reassuring to see the Capitol police did not treat the women differently based on the content of the message on their shirts, but is the state of our union so fragile that we can‘t tolerate a couple of invited guests wearing politically charged shirts. 

The Capitol police might have reversed course today because asking them to leave really may have been unconstitutional.  In 1971, the Supreme Court ruled it was improper for anti-war activist Paul Cohen (ph) to be arrested for wearing a jacket bearing the words “F the draft” in a court of a Los Angeles courthouse.  He too didn‘t make any noise or threaten anyone. 

John M. Harlan, a distinguished conservative justice, wrote for the court—quote—“One man‘s vulgarity is another‘s lyric.  Indeed, we think it is largely because governmental officials cannot make principled distinctions in this area that the Constitution leaves matter of taste and style so largely to the individual.”

T-shirts or jackets with political slogans are just the kind of speech the Supreme Court is loathed to have regulated and these T-shirts were neither obscene nor vulgar.  So at least supporters of both Cindy Sheehan and Beverly Young should be able to agree on one thing, that the president and the Congress and the guests last night really did not need to be protected from a big message on little shirts. 

Coming up, last night I said I‘m sick of defense lawyers blaming the media when their clients are convicted.  Some of you are sick of my comments.  Your e-mails are next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night in my “Closing Argument” I said I‘ve had it with criminal defense lawyers blaming the media for their client‘s woes. 

Carole Ellis, “You are absolutely correct to be angry at high-profile defense attorneys for blaming the media for their clients‘ problems.  Their clients would not be in the court system in the first place if there was not some probably cause to believe they committed a crime.”

Antoinne Morello writes, “Criminal defense lawyers aren‘t blaming the media for alleged crimes.  They‘re blaming the media for convicting people in the court of public opinion.  There is a difference.”

Yes, but you know that distinction only matters if defendants are being convicted because of media coverage, which they‘re not.  I don‘t believe there‘s a single modern case where a criminal defendant was convicted because of the media coverage as opposed to the evidence.  And certainly there isn‘t one where the person was falsely convicted because of it and I‘m sorry that we in the media are basing it on the evidence as we discuss it. 

And I mentioned that Michael Jackson‘s attorney, Thomas Mesereau, has been on a blast the media tour.  I said I don‘t get it since so many in the media were attacking the accuser‘s family before the trial started.  He and other prominent lawyers have the ultimate bias.  I said they were paid to represent their clients. 

Louise Stein in Pensacola, “Tonight you more or less said that Thomas Mesereau was a money-grubbing attorney and defended Jackson because of the money.  Wrong.”

No, Louise, I like and respect Thomas Mesereau immensely.  He‘s one of the best in every way, but it is almost humorous to hear him or any other paid gun tell me about bias.  I mean they‘re getting paid.  That‘s a fact.  That‘s not an insult.

Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com.  We go through them at the end of the show. 

That does it for us tonight.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  See you tomorrow.

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

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