updated 2/22/2006 11:55:49 AM ET 2006-02-22T16:55:49

Guests: Bo Dietl, Jonna Spilbor, George Parnham, Chris Downey, Dr. Jack Lewin, Rusty Hubbarth

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, we‘ve got the inside look at how representatives for Natalee Holloway‘s family welcomed the chief suspect in her disappearance to the United States. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  We‘ve got the pictures of Joran van der Sloot being served with a lawsuit and then confronted by private eye Bo Dietl.  He joins us. 

And the attorney for Texas mom Andrea Yates tries to stop prosecutors from showing many pictures of the children she drowned to the jury.  It‘s hard to see, but shouldn‘t that be part of her trial?  We ask her lawyer. 

Plus, this murderer‘s execution postponed.  After two doctors who were supposed to be there backed out, saying they can‘t help in an execution, even if it‘s to help alleviate the pain?  Are the doctors playing politics? 

The program about justice starts now. 


ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  But first up on the docket, it will now be front and center at the U.S. Supreme Court, abortion.  The issue everyone wanted to hear about during John Roberts and Samuel Alito‘s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, well, now we‘re going to find out what they really think. 

The high court agreed today to consider whether the first law passed by Congress to limit abortions, a 2003 ban on what opponents call partial birth abortions is constitutional.  It is a law that three courts have appealed, have called unconstitutional, because it does not have an exception if the woman‘s health is at stake. 

Norah O‘Donnell, MSNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent is with us. 

Norah, it‘s a big development. 

NORAH O‘DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  It is, and everyone agrees that it is very significant, because in some way it sets up this showdown in the Supreme Court over abortion rights.  Now today conservatives said they were very pleased, and abortion rights advocates said they were very angry that the Supreme Court has now agreed to consider whether this federal law banning late term abortions is constitutional. 

Now at issue is this partial birth abortion ban enacted by Congress in 2003.  As you noted, it was immediately challenged in court.  In fact it‘s never taken effect.  It was ruled unconstitutional by those three appeals courts.  In rulings based on this 2000 law, which struck down—which was struck down by the Supreme Court. 

Now the reason for that is the law does not include an exception for cases when the health of the mother is at stake.  Now what‘s interesting about today‘s action by the Supreme Court is it suggested at least four justices the number required to grant, cert or review a case, probably disagree with the lower courts in one way or another. 

And Dan, I think this is also a big deal because it‘s the first time the Supreme Court without the swing vote of Sandra Day O‘Connor will hear an abortion case.  And so the outcome of this case, while it‘s still some way out, is going to give us a clear sign as to whether the changed makeup of this court means that abortion rights will be limited in the future—


ABRAMS:  Because, Norah, there are—there have been state laws, which have been pretty similar to this federal law, right, that have been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court?  So it‘s almost as if the court has dealt with this issue before and that‘s I think why the pro-choice people are so nervous, is they‘re saying wait a second, we thought this issue was resolved already. 

O‘DONNELL:  Right, and many people are looking and saying, look, three appeals courts said this law passed by Congress was unconstitutional, because it does not include that exception for the health of the mother, which Sandra Day O‘Connor said it must include.  What‘s noteworthy about what‘s happening now, of course, is that the court has changed.  We now have Chief Justice John Roberts instead of...


O‘DONNELL:  ... Rehnquist, and we have Sam Alito.  In fact, it was Sam Alito‘s first day on the court today, and Alito has signaled his time on the appeals court that he would further restrict abortion rights.  And of course he has replaced Sandra Day O‘Connor, which has many abortion rights...


O‘DONNELL:  ... advocates worried that there will be a further restriction of abortion rights... 

ABRAMS:  This is going get interesting on the Supreme Court.  Norah O‘Donnell, as always, thanks a lot. 

O‘DONNELL:  My pleasure. 

ABRAMS:  Now to the Natalee Holloway case, and a very first look at exactly how the chief suspect, that‘s him, in Natalee‘s disappearance was welcomed to the U.S.  We are seeing these pictures for the first time.  The Holloways‘ family attorneys were tipped of a day before that Joran van der Sloot and his parents would be in New York for a television interview. 

They quickly drafted a complaint, filed it in New York Supreme Court, and then began figuring out how to serve it on them.  This is the video.  First, Paulus van der Sloot being served, they found him at a New York who hotel in the lobby, handed him the documents right there.  A few hours later Joran was served on a plane after his flight from Amsterdam arrived in New York. 

That process server sat three rows ahead of him for the entire flight, waiting until the flight landed on New York soil to hand the complaint to Joran.  After Joran passed through U.S. Customs he was met by a team of private investigators hired by the Holloway attorneys.  They took these pictures they say to confirm that Joran was in New York State, that he had been in fact served with a lawsuit. 


JOHN Q. KELLY, HOLLOWAY FAMILY ATTORNEY:  Once a complaint was filed and became public, then I was very concerned that at some point if service was not completed, you know (INAUDIBLE) filing a complaint in New York against Aruban citizens and then not showing up here, so you know each step of the way we had to sort of make lightning quick decisions about you know when to serve Paul, when to serve Joran, and when to file the complaint, you know getting the index (INAUDIBLE), making sure everything was accomplished and nobody could tip off anybody as to what was happening too. 


ABRAMS:  Joining us now, the man you saw in some of those photographs, private eye Bo Dietl who was at the airport when Joran arrived on Thursday.  Bo, good to see you. 

BO DIETL, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR:  Hi, Dan.  How are you doing...

ABRAMS:  Doing good.

DIETL:  Finally—we got this creep, finally...

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let‘s take it step by step here.  How did you decide to go to the airport and to wait where you waited when he arrived? 

DIETL:  Well, first of all, we‘ve been involved with this case for about two months with John Quinlan Kelly.  I‘ve had detectives—I haven‘t gone public, but we had detectives over in Aruba that have been investigating this with John.  We got a tip around Wednesday that the father and the son were coming in for some interview. 

So what we attempted to do was get one of our operatives to go on a plane to Amsterdam, so we could catch him on the plane.  We couldn‘t get someone, so we made contact with one of my associates out of London and then we had someone on that plane that we thought he was coming in.  In the meantime we set up surveillance at the airport and we nailed the father coming in with his family, coming to the Lucerne Hotel, so I put surveillance on it.

They sat on that all night.  Now we—at this time, Joran had to get on the flight.  Once he was on the flight I knew he couldn‘t communicate with the father, so then what we‘re going to do is when the plane landed at Kennedy Airport, when he was on the soil of America, then we had our opportunity to serve him. 

We had the operative serve him on the plane.  He took photographs. 

But then I said to John, I wanted to make sure that we know he was served.  At the same time, simultaneously, the father walks out into the Lucerne Hotel about 1:00 in the afternoon.  He gets served.  He was very surprised.  He knew—he was a judge.  He knew what the papers meant. 

So now we wait at the airport, it was about two hours after the flight landed, he was on some kind of a watch list, I think the FBI put him on a watch list, Mr. Joran here.  And what happened is finally he came out.  When he came out he looked like Darth Vader, some other guy came running over to him, put a coat over his head and I went up, I wanted to serve him purposely you know.

Personally, I wanted to serve him.  I have two daughters and he is a suspect in the disappearance of this young lady, and I did serve.  He didn‘t want to take the papers, so I stuffed them down his jacket. 

ABRAMS:  Bo, let me ask you about that.  He had already been served at that point, right?

DIETL:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  So you‘re there—I mean look, we see these pictures of you, sort of looks like at points it looks like you‘re screaming at him. 

DIETL:  Well I was telling him—I was asking him right out.  I said where did you bury the little girl.  I figured we got (INAUDIBLE) now.  We served him.  The legal part was gone, but I wanted to talk to him in Bo language. 

And I wanted, you know, I‘m still very concerned.  This is an American little girl that went to Aruba and disappeared and this guy knows what happened to her.  I mean he has three different stories and you know what, if he thinks he can come step foot in America here and utilize America as his little game, it‘s no game here.  This little young girl is missing and he has something to do with it...

ABRAMS:  What else did you yell at him? 

DIETL:  Well I just told him—I asked him where did he bury the little girl.  I said where is Natalee?  And I said why don‘t you take the coat off your head and be a man.  And you know I said a couple other things to him.  But you want to know something, I felt very relieved that I was able to look at him in the face.  He‘s a big guy.  He‘s about six-foot-six, and he looked at me very vicious (INAUDIBLE), but he wasn‘t trying anything with Uncle Bo. 

ABRAMS:  And all the people who were at the airport were part of your team, right? 

DIETL:  We had teams at the hotel.  We had teams at the airport.  We had no less than 10 operatives and we videotaped all the different aspects of the two services.  This way there can be no mistake that his father and young Joran was served in America, and they‘ll have to answer to court. 

And John Quinlan Kelly, everybody knows about the O.J. case.  He‘s a great lawyer.  He‘s preparing a great case...


DIETL:  ... in behalf of the Holloway family. 

ABRAMS:  Now, you say that there was a videotape of the incident at the airport.  Are you going to release that? 

DIETL:  Well, the lawyers have it.  John has it.  It may be we could have that tape released at some—any time...


ABRAMS:  Because Bo we‘ve heard it gets pretty ugly with you...

DIETL:  No, no, no...

ABRAMS:  ... and Joran.

DIETL:  No, no, it doesn‘t get ugly with him and I.  I don‘t know.  He had a bodyguard or somebody pushed me and there‘s a little pushing back and forth.  But at that point, he was served the summons.  That‘s the bottom line.  He was served the summons.  It was a legal service.  He was advised that he was being served with an official court summons and it was a summons and complaint and then I took it, I stuffed it down his jacket so he wouldn‘t have any mistake that he wasn‘t served with the papers...

ABRAMS:  Bo, let me ask you this.  In retrospect, did you cross the line in this sense?  I mean we‘re hearing from people over at ABC that you roughed up one of their producers who was on the scene there...

DIETL:  If anything, I was pushed by someone.  I don‘t know if it was a producer.  Someone pushed me and I think the tape, it states exactly what happens and I tell the guy you can‘t push me.  I‘m doing an official service...

ABRAMS:  But isn‘t he then thrown on the ground by a couple of people who were with you?

DIETL:  No.  No.  He pushed me, and I kind of pushed him back.  I said I‘m serving a summons.  No one else touched anyone else. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Bo, you‘re going to stick—if you could stick around with us for a moment.  Because coming up, someone who says that Bo didn‘t need to do what he did to serve Joran van der Sloot with that lawsuit has some complaints about it.  Bo can certainly stand up for himself. 

And Andrea Yates is about to go back on trial for drowning her five children, but now her attorney doesn‘t want the jurors to see pictures of the kids.  I‘ll ask him why. 

Plus, the doctors that were supposed to be present for this murderer‘s execution walked out, forcing the prison to postpone it.  Are they playing politics? 

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



KELLY:  (INAUDIBLE) talked to Dave, and they just feel—you know first of all they would not want the van der Sloots coming in New York and sort of flaunting themselves and thumbing their noses at the family, and the U.S. public, as a matter of fact, in terms of trying to put their own spin on things, feeling they could come into our own backyard and you know walk around without any repercussions.  So in that sense, the catching them off guard and sort of stunning them was very important.


ABRAMS:  Well the repercussions and stunning them in part involved private eye Bo Dietl confronting Joran van der Sloot at the airport.  He was served on the plane and then as Bo just told us, Bo then handed him the papers as well after he came out of customs.  You‘re seeing these photos that were taken by Bo Dietl‘s team when Joran arrived at the airport. 

And again, the allegation is—you saw that last picture there too—this is to file a lawsuit.  You got to hand someone the lawsuit in order to have personal jurisdiction in New York, and the lawyers and the Dietl team would say that is exactly what they did. 

Joining us now is Jonna Spilbor, a criminal defense attorney.  She joins Bo as well to talk about this.  All right, so Jonna, you‘ve been listen to Bo describe what he did and how he did it.  And you heard John Kelly there say that effectively there‘s been no accountability here and that the van der Sloots here are coming to the United States to do a TV interview and that there had to be some sort of repercussions and accountability. 

JONNA SPILBOR, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  OK, fair enough and that‘s what this lawsuit looks like.  Here‘s the problem, though.  It sounds like the Holloways are not interested really in the merits of this case, and if you read the complaint, it more reads like a bad movie of the week. 

When I listen to Bo, it sounds like this is a well orchestrated campaign to just button push, not to get to the bottom of what happened, not to get to the truth, not to even get money, but to just let this kid know, Joran van der Sloot that you know what, you can‘t go anywhere kid without somebody watching you, somebody listening, and you‘re going to have to always look behind your back wherever you go because we have your number even if the Aruban authorities don‘t. 

But that‘s an abuse of process, Dan.  With all due respect to Bo—

Bo, you‘re the type of P.I. I want on my side.  I do not want a private investor who always chews with his mouth closed...


SPILBOR:   ... but in this case you‘re going a little too far. 

DIETL:  All right, let me say one thing.  If you notice how he came out of Immigration.  The guy threw a coat over the top of his head.  He‘s not trying to stop from being served and then I‘m getting pushed out of the way before...

SPILBOR:   But Bo...

DIETL:  ... let me finish. 

SPILBOR:   ... he was already served. 

DIETL:  Let me finish.

SPILBOR:   He was already served.

DIETL:  I am doing a legal process.  I wanted to document date...


DIETL:  I wanted to memorialize that he got served.  Now that was the end of it.  This other kid, I didn‘t know where, from ABC, starts pushing me away then I couldn‘t do a service.  I have to do a legal service there.  On top of this, this young man, I have nothing against him. 

He would have taken the papers normally the way someone should have there wouldn‘t have been any problem.  The other one, whoever was there, was pushing back and forth.  Maybe we should have just gave him the key to the city.  Maybe we should have Mayor Bloomberg...

SPILBOR:   Nobody is saying that, Bo...

DIETL:  You can see these pictures...

SPILBOR:   But he was already served. 

DIETL:  All right, but look at the pictures.  Why does he have a coat over his head...


DIETL:  Why?

SPILBOR:   Because he‘s got you who he doesn‘t know, he thinks he has got some goon coming after him...

DIETL:  I‘m not a goon—excuse me...

SPILBOR:   ... and he was served once...

DIETL:  He was never...

SPILBOR:   You don‘t need to serve him twice in the same day to effectively...

DIETL:  He was never touched except for the papers to be put right in his jacket, so there would be no mistake that he was served, and that‘s a service.  You know that‘s a proper service, so we can touch him with the paper or his jacket was open...

SPILBOR:   And it was proper the first time and you know it. 


SPILBOR:   You know it.

DIETL:  I was not there.  I wanted to cover myself.  Did you know that he was on the watch list?  He was in there for two hours by the government of the United States, have him on a watch list.  So something must be up there if they think he‘s such an innocent person, why is he on a watch list. 

SPILBOR:   Well a watch list doesn‘t mean—they didn‘t take him into custody, so...

DIETL:  They did take him in the back...

SPILBOR:   ... a lot of people can be—babies end up on watch lists. 

DIETL:  They took him...

SPILBOR:   But that‘s not the point.

DIETL:  Well, babies end up on a watch list.  He was questioned for two hours in the back in United States Customs. 


DIETL:  Bottom line is this.  All I wanted to do was make sure there was no kind of mistake that he was served and that‘s all it...

ABRAMS:  But Bo, you even conceded a minute ago that you wanted to give him a little Bo talk too.

DIETL:  No, no, no, excuse me...

SPILBOR:   Exactly.

DIETL:  When the guy pushed me and started walking way, then he looked at me and took the papers and crumpled them up and threw them on the ground, on the pavement, I says you can‘t...

ABRAMS:  Wait.  Joran did that, Bo?  Wait a sec.

DIETL:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  Wait.  You served the papers on Joran and Joran took the papers...

DIETL:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... and crumbled them and threw them on the ground? 

DIETL:  And he crumpled them and threw them on the ground.  That‘s when it got me a little mad.  I say why are you doing that?  You were legally served...

SPILBOR:   Maybe...

DIETL:  ... welcome to...

SPILBOR:   ... because that was his second service. 

DIETL:  Well you know something?  Do you really think he knows the difference—that could have been service on another suit.  Who knows?  He just took them, how indignant he was.  He took them out of his jacket, he crumpled them up and he threw them down on the ground, this young man, this nice boy who just came to the United States who a little innocent boy, he took them, he threw them on the ground right in front of me.  He littered in New York as a matter of fact...


ABRAMS:  But Jonna, let me ask you a moral question.  Look, Joran van der Sloot has not been charged with a crime, OK, fine, fair enough...

SPILBOR:   Right.

ABRAMS:  ... but he is a suspect.  He remains a suspect in this case.  He made inconsistent statements; in fact he lied at times about what he was doing that night.  As a sort of moral matter, does that mean that people out there can hate him, and can be angry at him, and can want him to have to suffer a little bit? 

SPILBOR:   That‘s human nature.  But when—you can‘t mix human nature with a legal process without there being consequences.  This guy would be guilty for all we know.  We don‘t care.  I really feel for the Holloway family, because this kid thinks he got away with something, and maybe he did. 

But when he‘s in the United States and we‘re trying to get him into our legal system, we got to play by the rules.  And Bo, when you go after somebody and serve them twice in a one-hour period...

DIETL:  Jonna...

SPILBOR:   ... on a case that has very little...

DIETL:  Jonna...

SPILBOR:   ... merit unfortunately...

DIETL:  ... I was...

SPILBOR:   ... and no jurisdiction...

DIETL:  Jonna...

SPILBOR:   ... in New York...


SPILBOR:   ... it lacks credibility. 

DIETL:  There was one person on the plane that served him, so there was one word against another.  I think it was...

SPILBOR:   But you know how this goes...

DIETL:  If I worked for you, Jonna...

SPILBOR:   ... you file the affidavit of service in court...

DIETL:  Jonna...

SPILBOR:  You know how it works. 

DIETL:  Jonna...

SPILBOR:   And it‘s done.  Done, Bo.

DIETL:  If I was going to do it for you, I would double serve under the circumstances of one operative being on the plane...

SPILBOR:   All right.

DIETL:  ... you have no witnesses, so I wanted to make sure there was no kind of mistake that this young man was served.  The father was served. 

SPILBOR:   Come on...

DIETL:  And believe me that‘s all I care about.

SPILBOR:   Come on. 

DIETL:  And you know what?

SPILBOR:   You‘re sending a message to this kid. 

DIETL:  I‘m going to send a message—I want to send a message, one message.  He is being legally served by court papers and that‘s the end of it.  Now we know he was served.  There‘s no doubt, you see that Darth Vader looking guy?  That was him. 


DIETL:  That was the papers being served upon him.

ABRAMS:  Bo Dietl, good to se you.  Thanks for coming back on the program.  Appreciate it. 

DIETL:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Jonna is going to stick around...


ABRAMS:  ... for our next segment.  As Andrea Yates waits in a secure state mental hospital for a new trial, her attorney is asking that any and all pictures of the victims, her own children, who she admits drowning, not be shown to jurors during her second trial.  Jurors in Yates‘ 2002 trial didn‘t buy her insanity defense and convicted her of capital murder. 

The conviction was overturned last year when a Texas court of appeals ruled a key prosecution witness gave false testimony.  During Yates‘ first trial jurors viewed dozens of photos of the crime scene and the victims, 7-year-old Noah, 5-year-old John, 3-year-old Paul, 2-year-old Luke and 6-year-old -- 6-month-old Mary, including one of Noah floating face down in the bathtub with his arms outstretched. 

But Yates‘ lawyer says the pictures could confuse jurors or unfairly prejudice them.  Joining me now is Andrea Yates‘ attorney, George Parnham.  Thanks for coming back on the program.  Appreciate it.

All right.  I know this is an issue that came up for the first trial also.  But explain to me how seeing pictures of the victims in a trial could confuse the jurors.

GEORGE PARNHAM, ANDREA YATES‘ ATTORNEY:  Well, you know, the ultimate issue here will be a determination by a jury as to whether or not Andrea Yates was severely mentally ill, and whether or not that mental illness caused her not to know what she was doing was wrong.  As in any murder case, lawyers file motions all the time, so that pictures that might be inflammatory that might be so gruesome as to cause a normal individual to be revolted about what they see might have a tendency to overwhelm a juror to not consider evidence of mental illness and decide the facts on what they see. 

ABRAMS:  It would seem to me you could make that argument though in any case where there‘s a mental defense and say, look, we don‘t want the jurors to see what happened. 

PARNHAM:  And you‘re right, and you know, a lot of these photographs are going to come in, some are not.  In the first trial the judge made some crucial decisions about the admissibility of some photographs.  Some were admitted.  Some were not. 

One of the elements on our appeal that was not addressed by the appellate court consisted of that particular decision on some of those photographs.  It‘s also important in this case, Dan, to basically know that the person that is seated next to you at counsel table, Andrea Yates, is mentally not the same person that did what she admittedly did on June the 20th of ‘01.  And I‘m very concerned about the possibility of decompensating right there in the courtroom, and that concern is supported by some doctors who have seen her and expressed that fear as well. 

ABRAMS:  If you could just stick around for a minute...


ABRAMS:  ... because I want to keep talking about this issue. 

Coming up, we want to talk about what are the chances that that will happen, that they‘ll say, you know what, no pictures.  We‘ll bring in our legal team. 

And a murderer‘s execution postponed because two doctors who were supposed to be there backed out, saying I don‘t want to help with this execution, even if they‘re there to help alleviate pain.  Are they playing politics? 

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to help find missing sex offenders before they strike.  Our search this week is in Montana. 

Authorities are trying to locate Donald Howard.  He is 70, five-ten, 175, was convicted of molesting a child.  He has not registered his address with the state.  If you have got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Yellowstone County Sheriff at 406-256-2929.

We‘ll be right back


ABRAMS:  Coming up, attorneys for Andrea Yates, the Texas mom who drowned her five kids in a bathtub, are trying to prevent prosecutors from showing pictures of the children at Yates‘ trial.  Our legal team is up next, first the headlines. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you had not taken their lives, what did you think would happen to them? 

ANDREA YATES, ADMITS DROWNING HER FIVE CHILDREN:  If they were to continue stumbling...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And where would they end up? 

YATES:  Hell.



ABRAMS:  We‘re back with more on the Andrea Yates case, lawyers for the Texas mother who admits drowning her five children in the bathtub back in 2001, trying to keep jurors from seeing any pictures of the children, of the victims.

Joined now by former Texas prosecutor Chris Downey.  Back with us, criminal defense attorney Jonna Spilbor and Andrea Yates‘ attorney George Parnham joins us as well. 

All right.  Chris, from the prosecutor‘s point of view, this is one of those efforts that drives you crazy, right? 

CHRIS DOWNEY, FORMER TEXAS PROSECUTOR:  Well, it can drive you crazy.  I mean certainly what drives you crazy as a prosecutor is that it forces you to reconsider your game.  You‘ve got to figure out which photographs you want to use, because you don‘t want to trigger any element that the defense might be able to carry up on appeal. 

ABRAMS:  But I mean what are they really going to win on appeal?  Let‘s even assume that they let in too many photos, what, an appellate court is going to come back and say we‘re going to reverse this ruling—reverse this verdict in this case because one too many, two too many photographs of the victims were shown? 

DOWNEY:  No, I don‘t think it‘s going to be a matter of one or two too many photographs.  I think the court of appeals will give the jurors more than that, Dan.  But I do think that there is a point that you can reach either with a specific photograph that might have an inflammatory element or in an obviously objectionable manner you introduce too many photographs. 

ABRAMS:  Do you think that it‘s fair to consider—I mean you heard Mr. Parnham a minute ago saying that there was a fear on his part that Andrea Yates has now sort of come to, to a certain degree, and that if she sees the pictures of the kids, she‘s going to lose it. 

DOWNEY:  Well, I think that‘s certainly a defense attorney‘s appropriate concern.  However, it‘s not going to be a legal concern for the courtroom.  They‘re going to be interested in what‘s relevant.  The effect that it has on the defendant unfortunately is not one of the grounds at all that the court has to consider.

ABRAMS:  Jonna Spilbor, is your position that it‘s just not relevant? 

SPILBOR:   Not that it‘s not relevant, that it‘s not necessary in order to prove what the state needs to prove.  No jury needs to see a dead baby floating in a tub to determine whether Andrea Yates was legally insane at the time she committed the crime.  Andrea is not contesting that she did these horrible crimes; she‘s not contesting the manner or cause of death. 

They need to prove was she insane.  We don‘t need to see the pictures, the innocent pictures, the dead pictures of these poor children.  It‘s not necessary and it‘s going to have a terrible effect on the jury, even after they walk out of that courtroom. 

ABRAMS:  But I think the response would be, it‘s supposed to have a terrible effect on the jury...

SPILBOR:   No, exactly the opposite.  You‘re not supposed to appeal simply to the passion of the jury...

ABRAMS:  But it‘s not simply to the passion.  It‘s part of the case. 

I mean...

SPILBOR:   Wait, Dan...

ABRAMS:  ... it‘s the results.

SPILBOR:   ... what does a dead child floating in a tub go to prove? 

ABRAMS:  It shows...

SPILBOR:   We‘re not contesting the death of the kid. 

ABRAMS:  I know but you can‘t just stipulate—you can‘t when you‘re a defense attorney say you know what, I‘m going to pick and choose everything I‘m going to stipulate to, and once I stipulate to it, it means the prosecutors can‘t introduce any evidence about it. 

SPILBOR:   Exactly.

ABRAMS:  That‘s not the way it works...


DOWNEY:  Dan, to put one thing in there, we‘re trying a murder case here.  Insanity is the defense.  But the state is going to be busy trying a murder case.  And as part of that murder case they are going to be putting on critical relevant evidence of the scene, and that photograph was taken by a crime scene unit, it‘s the best evidence of the condition of the scene...

SPILBOR:   Evidence...

DOWNEY:  ... at the time it occurred. 

SPILBOR:   Evidence of death can come in through the testimony of the medical examiner and the police officers.  We don‘t need to see it head on. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  But I think even Mr. Parnham appreciates the fact that many of these pictures are going to come in, right Mr. Parnham? 

PARNHAM:  No question, yes. 

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you this.  Andrea Yates, you say she‘s different today than she was during the first trial, in what way? 

PARNHAM:  Well, Andrea has gone through close to five years of some of the best mental health care that this state has to offer, albeit behind bars for four of those years.  Now she is a patient in a mental health facility.  Andrea Yates will need mental health care for the rest of her life.  But she has reached a degree of normalcy as a result of not only being properly taken care of by her doctors, but medications...


PARNHAM:  ... and she‘s able to carry on a conversation...

ABRAMS:  Well I was going to ask you about that.  I was going to ask you—so that would mean that she appreciates then what she‘s done? 

PARNHAM:  Yes, I—no question about it.  Of course the word appreciate, it means different things to different people.  But certainly she‘s aware of what occurred.  She is acutely aware of the fact that her children are dead by her own hand.  She mourns their loss every minute of every day and I mean that‘s where it is. 

ABRAMS:  I‘ve said on this program before that, you know, I think that they should be able to work out a way to put her in a mental facility, because the prosecutors don‘t dispute the fact that she was mentally ill at the time, and if there‘s a concern that she‘s going to be released they could always try her later on two of the other charges, which they have not indicted her for as of yet. 

So, Chris Downey, with that in mind, shouldn‘t they be able to work out a deal here?  Shouldn‘t the prosecutors be able to come to George Parnham and say look, we all agree, the problem—the thing that‘s so crazy about this case is everyone seems to agree on just about everything except what should happen to her. 

DOWNEY:  I agree with you, and I think that the—there is a provision in the Texas statute that does allow for her to remain in virtually continuous mental health confinement, at least until the court with jurisdiction determines that she can be safely released.  It would be very unusual, and I don‘t know that there is a whole lot of faith in the Texas public in that system.  And I wonder to what extent the prosecution is trying this case because of the lack of faith we have in the way we treat our mentally ill here...

ABRAMS:  But again...


ABRAMS:  But again, the concern is that she‘s going to be released, they can reassure people, don‘t worry.  The day—you know a week before she‘s going to be released, we‘ll indict.  There‘s no statute of limitations on murder.  We‘ll indict on the other two charges. 

DOWNEY:  No, you‘re absolutely right.  That option exists.  You always have the ability as the prosecutor to do just that, to approach the defense and strike a deal...

ABRAMS:  Yes...


ABRAMS:  George Parnham, it doesn‘t sound to me like you‘re going to be able to work out a deal here. 

PARNHAM:  You know I don‘t think so.  We‘ve exhausted every alternative available.  We have a couple of things that are paramount that she gets continued mental health care, and that her physical safety is provided for.  Going into general population, Texas Department of Corrections, neither one of those issues are going to be taken care of.  And that probably will lead us to selecting a jury in this case. 

ABRAMS:  Jonna Spilbor, Chris Downey, and George Parnham thanks a lot. 

Appreciate it.

PARNHAM:  Thank you.

DOWNEY:  Thank you.

SPILBOR:   Thank you, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a California death row inmate was not executed last night as originally planned.  It seems doctors, not the court, delayed it. 

And later, the CEO of RadioShack forced to resign after questions are raised about his resume.  But I ask does anyone really care about his resume if the company had been doing well?  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.

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


ABRAMS:  Coming up, doctors, doctors delayed the execution of a death row inmate in California, after the break.


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  We‘ve heard of death row executions getting delayed, it happens all the time, last minute appeals, review of new information, but in the case of California prisoner Michael Morales who was supposed to be executed early this morning, it was two doctors who pushed back the deadline. 

A federal judge had ordered the executioners at San Quentin Prison to have at least one doctor in the death chamber when Morales was to be put to death.  An effort to alleviate any concern it was cruel or unusual punishment.  But the two they picked backed out at the last minute, citing ethical concerns.  The prison spokesperson read from their statement.


VERNELL CRITTENDON, SAN QUENTIN PRISON SPOKESMAN:  While we contemplate a positive role that might enable us to verify a human execution, protocol for Mr. Morales, what is being asked of us now, is ethically unacceptable. 


ABRAMS:  San Quentin officials will go with another option the federal judge offered and use a single sedative that will likely quadruple the time it takes to die.  The lethal cocktail usually used in executions takes about 11 minute.  This method could take about an hour. 

But the question, are these doctors and many medical associations playing politics here with the death penalty?  Joining me now attorney Rusty Hubbarth, who is also the vice president of legislative affairs for Justice for All, a criminal justice reform organization that supports the death penalty, and Dr. Jack Lewin, executive vice president of the California Medical Association.

Gentlemen thanks very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

All right...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re welcome.

ABRAMS:  Dr. Lewin, here are my concerns and I mentioned these last night, but it does seem to me that the medical community, and I mean the major associations, the American Medical Association, the American Society of Anesthesiologists, et cetera, are making a decision here that we don‘t want to be involved in any way when it comes to the death penalty, and yet when it comes to pulling the plug for someone who decides or the family decides the feeding tube should be removed, et cetera, that‘s OK, we can assist in death in that case, but we can‘t assist in a case where the person is almost certainly going to die and the goal is to have a doctor there to help alleviate pain. 

DR. JACK LEWIN, CALIFORNIA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION:  Well look, the California Medical Association doesn‘t have a policy position pro or con on the issue of the death penalty.  We do have long standing policy in medicine that says physicians should not participate in an execution.  We need to remember the first rule of the Hippocratic oath.  Do no harm.  Doctors need to you know be on the treatment side of this, the healer side, not on the execution side. 


ABRAMS:  But if they‘re going to die anyway, how is it doing harm by having a doctor there to help make sure that the punishment is not cruel and unusual? 

LEWIN:  Because, you know let‘s just say the I.V. infiltrates into the arm tissue instead of into the vein and the medicine doesn‘t go in and the patient is caught in between, maybe having seizures or something between space.  The doctor‘s role is then to resuscitate the patient, save them...


LEWIN:  ... and come back the next day.  The doctor‘s role is not to participate in executions at all.  And this is very clear, it comes out of you know Nazi Germany and World War II problems where doctors were over—went over the line and were engaged in executions of people that we would now say are innocent people.  So we really have learned...

ABRAMS:  But see, but that‘s a political statement.  That‘s my problem...


ABRAMS:  ... is that when you start talking about...


ABRAMS:  ... people who are innocent being executed, et cetera, that‘s a political statement, not a medical one. 

LEWIN:  You know here‘s what—here‘s the bottom line.  Doctors are healers; they‘re there to treat the patient.  In fact in the prison, they‘re with the inmates during the course of their incarceration when needed.  They can‘t switch roles and become the executioner the next day. 

That takes away from the trust of the patient-physician relationship.  And there have been too many examples as to why this doesn‘t work.  We—prisons have broad power to train people to do whatever they need to do, and be licensed to take care of executions.

ABRAMS:  How do you explain this, this 2000 American Medical Association archives of internal medicine?  They did a study, and here‘s what they found. 

Despite long traditions of ethics that disallow killing by physicians and medical societies disallowing physician involvement in lethal injection, many of the respondents, doctors, in this study indicated they thought it was acceptable for physicians to participate in the various components of lethal injection, even to the extent of injecting the lethal drugs.  And so my concern is that the rank and file are at the very least divided and yet all the medical communities are coming together because they don‘t like the death penalty. 

LEWIN:  I would suggest to you that you know many, many physicians, particularly younger physicians in practice haven‘t even thought about this issue, it‘s never been presented to them.  They have no sense of the ethical issues that may be involved here and the pros and cons and the issue of trust between the doctor and the patient. 

We‘re very glad that the two anesthesiologists withdrew...



LEWIN:  We‘re very glad because...

ABRAMS:  Well...

LEWIN:  ... they—this is not the proper role for the doctor. 


LEWIN:  It‘s the proper role for an executioner. 

ABRAMS:  Rusty Hubbarth, what do you make of this?

RUSTY HUBBARTH, ATTORNEY:  Well, I think this is a very blatant case of selective political ethics here.  These are the same doctors that routinely perform abortions, that routinely remove feeding tubes and routinely honor a document called a living will, which is a relatively common document throughout the United States. 

There doesn‘t seem to be any issue here in facilitating or easing of death, or performing an abortion, which causes a death.  But that‘s—we‘re not here to talk about abortions.  And in regards to building the trust between doctors and prisons, I would put to you that I don‘t think very many anesthesiologists are on staff at San Quentin.  So this is a manufactured argument...


HUBBARTH:  ... purely for political bias. 

ABRAMS:  Dr. Lewin, I don‘t want to get into the abortion issue because that becomes...

LEWIN:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... a broader discussion.  But specifically respond to what Mr. Hubbarth was saying there about anesthesiologists not being at prisons so there‘s no...

LEWIN:  I would—I am fairly certain that the state of California does have physicians on staff in nearly all specialties, it‘s a very large system and we do have health care services, and I would assume they do.  But my sense is whether they‘re inside or outside the system, at the end of life when a patient asks the doctor to relieve suffering in a terminal condition, that‘s a very different thing than participating in an execution.  And there are lots of good reasons, this has been well thought out ethically by...

ABRAMS:  But what if...

LEWIN:  ... on ethical affairs for years.

ABRAMS:  But how about if you view the execution as warranted?  All right, just for a moment take a position—I‘m not asking you to believe this...

LEWIN:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  ... but hypothetically, you—your organization now thinks the death penalty is appropriate and that it is a punishment that makes a lot of sense.  All things considered...


LEWIN:  We just don‘t have a position...

ABRAMS:  I understand...


ABRAMS:  I understand...


ABRAMS:  But I‘m asking you hypothetically...


ABRAMS:  But I‘m asking you hypothetically...

LEWIN:  Yes...

ABRAMS:  ... if that were the position to take about the death penalty, would it be a problem then for doctors to engage in this? 

LEWIN:  You know, I think the death penalty is an issue like abortion as an issue is something that we‘d have to put on the side here.  I mean...

ABRAMS:  Yes, but it‘s impossible to do...

LEWIN:  I don‘t—I think they‘re very difficult issues.  But I think that there is no problem for an institution like a prison to train somebody to conduct this kind of execution...

ABRAMS:  ... not be a doctor.

LEWIN:  ... and not be a doctor. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Rusty, final word on this. 

HUBBARTH:  Well I think the last minute backing off by the anesthesiologists was planned.  I don‘t think they were not aware of the fact that if they did back off that would cause a stay to be granted or the execution to be postponed.  So I think one has to look at the deliberateness...


HUBBARTH:  ... and the timing of their withdrawal.  Second of all, I think there‘s a self-aggrandizement factor working here for those two anesthesiologists, and I feel that should the execution proceed tonight it will be done with competent medical people that remember that they are there to be solely competent medical personnel and not making some far fetched political statement. 

ABRAMS:  Rusty Hubbarth, Dr. Jack Lewin, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

LEWIN:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, lying on your resume, it‘s bad, right?  You have to wonder if the former CEO of RadioShack stepped down because of that problem or was it the company‘s dismal earnings report?  And he‘s not the only one.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—lying on your resume.  It‘s a really bad idea and if you get caught it will probably get you fired and humiliated.  That is, unless, of course, you‘ve been delivering for your company.  Last week RadioShack‘s chief executive officer David Edmondson admitted that he awarded himself some academic degrees on his resume, theology and psychology from Pacific Coast College in California.  It turns out he only went to the school for two semesters and even worse, they don‘t offer a degree in psychology.

So after 12 years at RadioShack Edmondson was exposed.  But apparently in parts of corporate America, that doesn‘t get you booted from the corner office.  No, the company‘s board announced like last Tuesday that it stood behind its academically underachieving CEO.  They said it would be investigated, but in the meantime, Edmondson would stay.  That is, until three days later when the earnings results came out. 

RadioShack reported fourth quarter earnings had dropped 62 percent and announced it would be closing 400 to 700 stores.  (INAUDIBLE) suddenly that resume thing starts to sting a little more and lo and behold, Edmondson resigned on Monday.  Same issue with a different bottom line for Bausch and Lomb CEO Ronald Zarrella four years ago.

He lied about having an MBA from New York University.  Well after the company found out in 2002.  They stood behind him for better or for better.  He only had to pay a fine because well the company was doing fine.  Then there is Brownie, Michael Brown, the former FEMA director.  We learned he padded his resume.  He wrote that he‘d served as an assistant city manager with emergency services oversight in Edmond, Oklahoma in the ‘70‘s. 

Turns out he was an intern.  But Brownie only stopped doing a heck of a job after he seemed to be busted about finding a dog sitter.  Seemed to be concerned about finding a dog sitter while thousands were trapped in New Orleans without food or water.  That‘s what really burnt Brownie, although Brownie did have lots of company among his fellow government employees.

A recent congressional investigation revealed 463 federal employees had academic degrees from unaccredited schools, some of which had put out bogus PhDs and master‘s degrees.  Some were fired.  Others were not.  The bottom line, it‘s often the bottom line that determines just how significant that degree really is. 

Coming up, the judge rules that doctors must be present for an execution to go forward to make sure it‘s not cruel and unusual punishment.  Doctors don‘t want to be involved.  A lot of you upset with the doctors, others with the judge.  Your e-mails are next.


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night a California court ordered that if the state wants to use lethal injection, they must have an anesthesiologist present to make sure it‘s not cruel or unusual punishment.  I asked is it about the medical oath or about the death penalty.

From Belmar, New Jersey, Bob Nemes, “Perhaps the AMA would feel better about their involvement of executions if the doctor‘s role was to swab the arm with alcohol prior to the lethal injection.”

Rebekah Berry in Rocklin (ph), Indiana, “Why should criminals be entitled to have doctors at their execution?  Most of the criminals didn‘t stop and make sure that their victims weren‘t in pain, so why should they be shown that respect?”

Last night in my “Closing Argument” I pointed out the protests in much of the Muslim world are not really about cartoons of the prophet Muhammad printed in a Danish newspaper (INAUDIBLE) protest against the U.S. in Israel.  I said instigators are to blame. 

Andrea Economos in New York, “Couldn‘t agree more that the riots in the Middle East are being fueled by something other than religious offense.  These riots could be right out of the al Qaeda playbook.”

Desire Foard in Naples, “You know the U.S. papers might as well have published the cartoons.  Damned if we do.  Damned if we don‘t.”

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

“HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews up next.  See you tomorrow.



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