updated 3/22/2006 11:28:13 AM ET 2006-03-22T16:28:13

Guests: Martin Lazoritz, Susan Filan, Lauren Lake, Robyn Tomlin, Robi Ludwig, Beth Holloway Twitty, Steve Cohen, Arlene Ellis Schipper, Clint Van Zandt

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  Tonight, a courtroom stunner in the case, as you just heard of the blond bombshell teacher who had sex with her 14-year-old student.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEBRA LAFAVE, HAD SEX WITH STUDENT:  The past two years have been hard on all parties involved.  I pray with all my heart that the young man and his family will be able to move on with their lives.  Again, I offer my deepest apology.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Debra Lafave, the Florida teacher who was facing a trial for having sex with her 14-year-old student, is now off the hook after a whirlwind court decision a few hours ago that has left many people in utter disbelief.  In a stunning move, the prosecutor dropped all the charges.

Joining me with the very latest is Steven Stock with NBC affiliate WESH.  Steven, what happened today?

STEVEN STOCK, WESH, ORLANDO:  Well, Rita, prosecution sources told me that this decision to drop the charges was in the works for weeks, depending on what the judge did.  Prosecutors had promised the mother of the victim in this case that the young boy would not have to testify in open court.  So this morning, after Marion County circuit judge Hale Stancil refused for a second time to accept a plea deal between Lafave‘s attorney and prosecutors, a deal the deal the victim and his mother had agreed to, prosecutors were left with two options: go to trial, or drop all the charges.  They decided that the risk to the victim‘s privacy was too great, and so this afternoon, they officially dropped all charges filed in Marion County.

Now, Lafave was arrested in June 2004.  The middle school reading teacher was charged in Hillsborough County and Marion County with having sex with her 14-year-old student at various locations, including her middle school classroom in Temple Terrace outside Tampa, her Riverview townhouse near Tampa, and in the back of her sport-utility vehicle on a trip to Ocala.

Now, this case has attracted worldwide media attention, including Court TV planning to cover any trial, and there were no guarantees that the victim would not be identified.  In fact, he has already been identified in some locations.  His school picture has already appeared in a British tabloid.  And because of that, prosecutors and the mother of the victim say they could not justify forcing a young man, a 15-year-old, as well as his 15-year-old friend, who was a witness in this case, to testify.

It‘s important, Rita, to note that the 25-year-old former teacher has already been convicted and sentenced on almost identical charges there in Hillsborough County.  Last November, she pleaded guilty to two counts of lewd and lascivious battery in exchange for a sentence of three years of house arrest and seven years probation.  And experts tell me today that any trial would have most likely meant the same or very similar sentences in this case because of sentencing guidelines here in Florida and the fact that, in this case, she was technically a first-time offender.

And later this afternoon, Rita, chief assistant state attorney Rick Ridgway told me that he was not willing to do that and that the risk was too great and that he thought he might be able to get some prison time for Debra Lafave, but at, quote, “What price?  The price of the victim”—

Rita.

COSBY:  You know, Steven, if we can go back to showing Debra Lafave at the press conference—the guy behind her, the guy in the blue shirt...

STOCK:  Yes.

COSBY:  ... with the tie—and that‘ll come up in a few seconds there.

STOCK:  Right.

COSBY:  He‘s walking in.  There he is.

STOCK:  That‘s her—yes, that‘s...

COSBY:  That‘s her fiancé, right?

STOCK:  That right there, that‘s her fiancé, that‘s right, in the very light shirt.  That‘s her fiancé.  She said she‘s known him since late middle school, and early high school and stayed in touch, even though she was married to another man when all these charges broke out in 2004.

COSBY:  And what‘s (INAUDIBLE)  He‘s got kids.  What‘s the issue?  Can she be around kids?

STOCK:  Great question, Rita.  In fact, that was asked of her today.  Technically, she is not supposed to be around kids, and she said she won‘t be.  Even if they get married, she says she will obey the court‘s order and stay away from kids.  That‘s going to be awful tricky, tough, being married to him with children.

COSBY:  You bet.  Steven, thank you very much.

STOCK:  You bet.

COSBY:  Well, meantime, Debra Lafave spent a good bit of time today not necessarily blaming herself for what happened but the media.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAFAVE:  My greatest regret would probably be the fact that I put this young man through this.  I mean, the media has totally taken it out of proportion, and he‘s suffering even more by the media‘s actions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And joining us now is Dr. Martin Lazoritz.  He‘s a child psychiatrist who evaluated the boy that Lafave seduced.  What do you think of the outcome, Doctor?

DR. MARTIN LAZORITZ, CHILD PSYCHIATRIST:  I think that the good thing is that this young man isn‘t going to be abused by the system.

COSBY:  What kind of a boy is he?  You know, we don‘t know much about him.  How do you describe him?

LAZORITZ:  He‘s a very nice kid.  He‘s quiet.  And he‘s been traumatized by everything that‘s happened.

COSBY:  You know, I want to show a statement, in fact.  This is what you said, and it was replayed sort of in the judge‘s ruling.  You said that “MM”—and of course, we‘re keeping his privacy here—this is the boy—

“Is ill-equipped to deal with the events of his abuse and finds it to be a form of torture to have to talk about it.  Even in the best circumstance, there would be trauma if MM”—the boy—“had to be in the spotlight again.”

What kind of torture?  And of course, needless to say, obviously, what happened—you know, he is the victim here.  We all, of course, can have compassion for him.

LAZORITZ:  Right.

COSBY:  But what kind of torture going through it again would this have caused her?

LAZORITZ:  Caused him.  It was the fact that in front of national TV, to talk about intimate details under cross-examination is something most adults couldn‘t endure, much less a young man.  And then all of the media attention that‘s been paid has put this on the spotlight mostly because this was abuse done by an attractive woman to a young man.  We need to recognize, and I think it‘s very important that child sexual abuse takes place very frequently by others who aren‘t as attractive that don‘t get the notoriety, who are in positions of authority and...

COSBY:  And you bet, Doctor, and that‘s important for people to recognize, that it doesn‘t matter what you look like, you know, a crime is a crime.  I think you bring up a great point.

LAZORITZ:  Correct.

COSBY:  By the way, what we were showing was surveillance video of the boy.  Of course, we‘re not going to show his face, but that was surveillance video that you see here of him.  And in fact, let me play—this is—this is his mother making some similar comments to what you just said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

“SALLY,” VICTIM‘S MOTHER:  There comes a point that I really had to weigh out what my son was going through and how long this would continue, and especially with the intense media circus, just all of the media attention that was going to be moreso than ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  You know, and Doctor, you know, we all—of course, our hearts go out to this poor boy.  It must be so tough especially for him and his family.  But does this send the wrong message to perpetrators, that you know, if the boy doesn‘t testify or the girl or whatever the case is, that you‘re going to go off scot-free?

LAZORITZ:  No, I—she‘s getting punished.

COSBY:  How so?  I mean...

LAZORITZ:  A significant punishment.

COSBY:  People feel it‘s not enough, sir.  You know that.

LAZORITZ:  Well, she‘s someone who has a significant mental illness, and it‘s uncertain what would have happened to her if a trial did take place.  That‘s something that‘s been overlooked.  but she is getting punished, and the idea here is to weigh the harm to the victim versus the punishment, and what‘s most important is to make sure she doesn‘t do it again.

Now that she‘s accepted the plea deal, at least in Tampa, Hillsborough County, she will be getting treatment, and hopefully, this is never going to happen again.  I think with treatment, the likelihood of her reoffending is lower than if she were put in jail for five years without treatment.  And that‘s really what it comes down to.  I think she‘s less likely to offend now than if she spent some time in jail, even though we might all feel better about it.

COSBY:  All right.  Well, Dr. Lazoritz, thank you very much.  We appreciate you being here and after talking to the victim.  Of course, our prayers go out to him.  But a lot of people feel that Debra Lafave basically got a slap on the wrist, if even that today.

And we‘re joined now by our legal experts, criminal defense attorney Lauren Lake and also former prosecutor Susan Filan, who‘s also an MSNBC analyst.  Susan, are you outraged by this decision?  A lot of people are just surprised.

SUSAN FILAN, FORMER PROSECUTOR, MSNBC ANALYST:  Absolutely!  This is clearly outrageous!  And to say that there isn‘t a double standard in sex abuse cases is just plain wrong!

COSBY:  Yes, that‘s what she said.  That‘s ridiculous.  In fact, before you go further, let me play that comment, if we could.  This is of her comment basically saying that there isn‘t a double standard.  This is what she said during the press conference.  It was pretty outrageous.  We‘re going to get that in a couple of minutes.  But go ahead, Susan.  You continue with your thought while we‘re getting that.

FILAN:  Sure, Rita.  I mean, really, this is a travesty of justice, and I blame the judge here.  Look, when it comes to a plea deal, if he can‘t live with it, if he doesn‘t want to accept it, the buck does ultimately stop with him, and he shouldn‘t let it go through if he can‘t live with it.

But let me tell you, he's got a case of robe-itis.  He put that robe on, and he lost reason and he got arrogant because by his taking this stance, what happened is the prosecutors were forced to drop these charges.  And he forced their hand, and he should have been able to say, I don‘t like it, but on balance—and that‘s what judges do, they balance—it‘d be better to have a conviction and further supervision as further punishment than to let her go free!  I mean, he essentially opened the door to the prison that he wanted to put her in and let her walk out scot-free!

COSBY:  Absolutely.  In fact, I talked to her attorney tonight, and he said that they‘re even going to try to get, what, another year of house arrest, they‘re trying to get that removed.  So they‘re really going full throttle to turn this around.

Lauren, let me play—I understand we have...

LAUREN LAKE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  That‘s called...

COSBY:  ... that comment, first of all...

LAKE:  ... violating the hog (ph) doctor.

(LAUGHTER)

COSBY:  Yes, that‘s what a lot of people are saying.  Let‘s play, if we could—this is her comment basically saying there‘s no double standard, which a lot of people are going, What?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAFAVE:  I don‘t think there is one.  I think we all should check the statistics, and I don‘t think there is a double standard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Lauren, come on!

(LAUGHTER)

LAKE:  Look, I‘m going to have to just say, you know there‘s a double standard!  The double standard exists that we even are all sitting up, listening to her have a press conference, as if she just won Miss America or something, and we‘re all looking at her!

But let me keep (INAUDIBLE) for a moment and also say that this judge basically did what everyone wanted him to do.  He said no.  So let‘s look at the real controversial character in this legal drama, and I‘m so happy to report this time that it‘s not the defense attorney, it is the prosecutor.  And the prosecutor didn‘t have their case together.  They couldn‘t get their witness to testify.

FILAN:  Oh, come on!

LAKE:  And now—oh, come on!

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  That‘s not at all what happened in this case!

LAKE:  That is exactly what happened!

FILAN:  The prosecution...

LAKE:  The prosecutor can‘t drop the ball.

FILAN:  ... can‘t of forward with a case—absolutely not!

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Well, you guys, let me play, in fact—this is the comments...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  ... from the assistant state attorney...

LAKE:  ... without a victim.

COSBY:  This is the comment from him.  This is on the prosecutorial team.  This is what he had to say as to why he made this decision.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD RIDGWAY, CHIEF ASST. STATE ATTORNEY, 5TH CIRCUIT:  In my estimation, the harm to the victims and forcing them to testify and go through what they were going to be put through, primarily by the media, was simply unconscionable, and I‘m not willing to do that to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Yes, Lauren, I do kind of hate the sort of blame the media, on one hand.  But on the flip side, did the prosecutors really not have any choice?  This boy didn‘t come forward, and unfortunately, you know, you hate to drag somebody through this, but they do need to come forward for people to be charged and for people to go through with penalties.

LAKE:  Look, if the prosecutor wanted, they could have tried to take the case anyway.  They chose not to.  The ball was in their hands and they dropped it.  They bluffed.  They were acting like they were ready to go to trial.  They weren‘t ready to go to trial.  And when it came down to the comedown, they dropped the charges.  That‘s just the end-all, be-all of it.

COSBY:  And Susan, let me play—this is her basically saying, Woe is me.  She‘s sounding like the victim here.  Let‘s listen to her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAFAVE:  I believe that I—my mental illness had a lot to do with my actions, and for someone—I‘ve gotten—my passion was teaching.  That‘s taken away from me.  I‘ve family and I‘ve lost friends.  And as you can see, my face has been plastered on every Internet (INAUDIBLE) every news outlet, and that‘s not easy.  It‘s not easy feeling the guilt and the remorse and having my own family suffer for my actions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  You know, Susan, she left out this little part, like, I‘m a convicted sex offender, that I raped a young boy.  Minor detail to leave out there, Susan?

FILAN:  Hello!  Yes, I‘m a child molester, and the reason I‘ve lost my job as a teacher is because I was in a position of authority and I abused it, and I took advantage of a young boy.  And I‘ve hurt my family because of what I did.

And this whole mental illness thing to me is a crock because if she was so mentally ill, why didn‘t she of forward and put that on as a defense?  No, she was happy to plead guilty because it was going to keep her out of the can!  So she‘s playing this mental illness thing as a way to escape punishment but not to escape...

LAKE:  Oh, wait a minute!

(CROSSTALK)

LAKE:  Now, Susan, they were going to go ahead to trial.  The judge rejected the plea deal, so the defense was ready to go, if the prosecutor was.

FILAN:  No, Lauren!

LAKE:  but I think the prosecutor wasn‘t ready to go!

COSBY:  But Lauren, what do you make of her behavior...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Lauren, what do you make of her behavior?

(CROSSTALK)

LAKE:  Look, I‘m not a big Debra Lafave fan.  Let‘s keep it straight, OK?  But the bottom line is, is the woman may have some type of mental illness, and if they went to trial, it would have come up.  And let me also just say this.  There may be things in this trial that none of us know, since we‘re not privy to all of the information, that that young man did not want to come out and that his mother did not want him to go through.  And if the interests of justice means looking at the big picture and not just conviction, but the bigger picture in the sense that this boy does not want to be traumatized any further, then it is what it is, and we all need to move on...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Susan, I‘ll give you five seconds.

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Susan, last word.  Five seconds.

FILAN:  There‘s no way the bigger picture, there‘s no way the interest of justice is served in letting a child molester go free.  And the mental illness defense doesn‘t mean...

LAKE:  She‘s not free!

FILAN:  ... she didn‘t do it!

LAKE:  She‘s serving a sentence!

FILAN:  She did it!

FILAN:  And she‘s on house arrest in her other case.

COSBY:  All right, guys.  This is going to have to be the last word.

Coming up, everybody: Debra Lafave blamed having sex with a teenage boy, as you heard from Lauren, on bipolar disorder.  Could that really be what drove her to her crime?  I‘m going to ask an expert.  That‘s coming up.  And that‘s not all.

Still ahead, the exclusive details in the Aruba mystery that you heard first on LIVE AND DIRECT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID KOCK, KALPOE BROTHERS‘ ATTORNEY:  I won‘t be surprised if it goes (INAUDIBLE) June, July (INAUDIBLE) presented.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  For the first time, Natalee Holloway‘s mother reacts to the surprising news by the attorney for two of the suspects.  Does she have new hope for justice?  I‘ll ask her.

And a cold-blooded murder so heartless, it‘s hard to believe.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I shot him with a god-damned (INAUDIBLE) shotgun twice.

911 OPERATOR:  You shot him with a shotgun?  Where is he?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s laying in the yard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

A man unleashes a bloody assault, using a shotgun to kill his teenage neighbor.  Wait until you hear the petty reason he gives for shooting the boy next door.

And we knew this woman as the “cell phone bandit,” but we didn‘t know who this bank robber was talking to—until now.  That‘s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAFAVE:  I am very remorseful, and I believe that I‘m going through therapy and doing everything that I can possible to better myself for the community and society.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Well, as you just heard, Debra Lafave won‘t have to go to trial for having sex with her 14-year-old student.  But what does the family of that student think about the decision to drop all charges against Lafave?  Joining us now on the phone is Robyn Tomlin.  She‘s the executive editor of “The Ocala Star Banner” newspaper.  That‘s the paper that recently spoke with the boy‘s mother.

You know, based on the conversation that the newspaper had with the mom, your paper, how do you think she‘s reacting to today‘s decision, Robyn?

ROBYN TOMLIN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, “OCALA STAR BANNER”:  You know, the word that she used repeatedly when we spoke with her was “appalled.”  She‘s actually appalled at the judge for refusing to take the prosecution‘s offer in this case.  She feels like that her son is being forced to testify, that her son would be victimized again, and that it‘s not in the best interests of her son.  She also said that she thinks that there‘s an agenda here that is separate from what is in the best interests of her son.

COSBY:  And in fact, I want to show a quote in the paper.  She said that, “There is no one that wanted to see Debra Lafave serve jail time more than myself.  She was supposed to protect my son, not prey upon him.”  And also, she also said, describing her son, she said, “He‘s doing good right now.  He has a right to have his privacy.”

Did she also feel, though, that, look, if he has been victimized, it‘s important for victims to come forward, as painful as it is, for justice to be served?

TOMLIN:  She said that he was prepared to testify, if it came to that, but the issue for him in this case was the intense media scrutiny.  She was really concerned that, without being able to get a guarantee he would be shielded from live TV, with Court TV airing of this and from other media outlets, that this would be the ultimate trauma on him.

COSBY:  You know, she also said, quote, “You have to understand that this is a woman who can‘t live with boundaries.  I would be stunned if she doesn‘t violate her probation.”  I mean, first of all, what does that say about Debra Lafave, and what kind of punishment did she think was appropriate for Debra Lafave?

TOMLIN:  Well, she wanted her to go to jail.  I mean, ultimately, that was the—that was the judgment that she wanted.  But in this case, what she wanted was the judge to take the plea agreement because Debra Lafave would have been responsible in two courts for the probation, and if she had violated—if she violates her probation in either of those jurisdictions, or in both of the jurisdictions, then two courts would be able to hold her accountable.

COSBY:  Was she worried, though, that maybe this sends a message, you know, to other perpetrators that if the victim is shaken enough by press or for whatever reason, that you can walk away scot-free?

TOMLIN:  You know, she really wasn‘t talking about that.  She was talking about what‘s in the best interests of her son.

COSBY:  Understandably.  Thank you very much.  We appreciate it, Robyn.

And Debra Lafave blames what is apparently a newly diagnosed case of bipolar disorder for her seducing that 14-year-old boy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAFAVE:  I want the world to see that bipolar is real.  If anything, I am tired of the media—I don‘t think not one time has the media brought up the subject of my bipolar.  And I challenge you to read a book or an article on bipolar illness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  So can bipolar disorder actually drive someone to make such a poor decision?  Joining me now is noted psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig.  Dr. Ludwig, can she blame it on the disease?

ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST:  Well, you can blame anything on anything, if you want to.  There many with people with bipolar disorder who will never have sex or inappropriate sex with an underage child.  Having said that, when somebody is in the throes of, let‘s say, mania, very often, they are hypersexual, very impulsive, very grandiose.  They don‘t see the consequences that can happen as a result of their actions.

So I mean, it is possible, if she was in a manic phase, that she just didn‘t consider any of the possibilities, or this child or the impact.  That can happen if you‘re not medicated properly.

COSBY:  And on the other hand, we‘ve heard that she had a pretty decent life.  We‘ve had her ex-husband, Owen Lafave, on our show.  He said everything seemed pretty normal.  He said the relationship seemed fairly normal.  One of the things she said, Dr. Ludwig, in the press conference today, she said she is going through intense therapy.  Let‘s play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAFAVE:  I have been undergoing extensive therapy and believe that it‘s helped me tremendously.  I would hope that all media outlets will let us all peacefully move on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Is therapy going to help her from not raping another young teenager?

LUDWIG:  You know, I hope so.  And I didn‘t see her as a pedophile, somebody who was attracted to a child because they look like a child.  Sometimes these teachers are—there‘s a lot of sexuality in the air, and if they‘re not well develop and don‘t have good boundaries in place, sometimes they‘re very attracted to these 14-year-olds who can look like 16-year-olds.

You know, it‘s very interesting to me how she‘s now engaged to her high school sweetheart.  So there might have been a part of her that wanted to go back to that very exciting point in time, and she didn‘t do it in a healthy way.

COSBY:  Yes, that‘s an interesting philosophy.  You‘re right, she went back to this guy she‘s known for 20 years, who incidentally, also has kids, which is a whole other separate issue.  You know, one of the things that struck a lot of people, and I think a lot of people were kind of offended by, Dr. Ludwig, she didn‘t seem to take responsibility for her actions.  She‘s blaming the media, blaming all these other things.  I want to show a little thing where she sort of says it‘s just a little blip, a little bump in the road.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAFAVE:  I am a strong Christian woman, and I believe that God has a path for me, and this is just a bump in the road.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  You know, Dr. Ludwig, when you hear that, is that someone who can even move forward, if, indeed, she has bipolar?  She doesn‘t seem to be accepting responsibility.

LUDWIG:  Well, I think that we need to separate bipolar disorder, which is a mood disorder, from somebody who is characterologically impaired, which means that they have a problem in their personality.  And I think she probably has both.

It‘s really not fair to minimize the impact that she had on this child or her ex-husband or the entire community.  What she did was not right.  And to describe it as a bump in the road is really minimizing what she did.  In order for her to grow and come to terms with what happened, she‘s going to have to accept that what she did was wrong, that it had a major impact.  And if she wants to find her purpose in life, I completely support that, but you don‘t do that by minimizing the impact you have on many people‘s lives and hurting people.

COSBY:  Especially—especially for that poor victim, who obviously seems very traumatized.  Stick with us, Dr. Ludwig.

And still ahead, everybody: You‘ve heard of road rage, now comes neighbor rage.  Could a deadly and shocking tragedy really be about just keeping off the grass?

And next, for the first time, Natalee Holloway‘s mom, Beth, is responding to the new details that we brought you here first that the attorney for the two key suspects believes the boys will go on trial for murder in a matter of months.  That‘s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  Well, tonight, those close to Natalee Holloway‘s case are reacting to surprising new details that we brought you right here on LIVE AND DIRECT last night.  As you may have heard, the attorney for the Kalpoe brothers told us in an exclusive interview that he expects his clients, as well as Joran Van Der Sloot, will soon be brought to trial, possibly for murder charges, perhaps as early as this summer.  This is some of what the Kalpoes‘ attorney had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID KOCK, KALPOE BROTHERS‘ ATTORNEY:  From the information that we are getting, it seems like, you know, they know, too, they have to round this up.  I won‘t be surprised if, you know, summer, June, July, the case will be presented.

But I don‘t think that will even—that will not even apply theoretically, first-degree murder, you know, because you would have to have an intent to do something.  And if you just look at the facts, even if you would want to construct something, I don‘t think you can even construct first-degree murder.

The DA can also present, let‘s say, the first instance, the heavier charge, and then subsidiary, if that cannot be proven, then—and if that cannot be proven, and then to lighter forms of crimes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  And joining us now live with her reaction to what may be a major development is Natalee‘s mom, Beth Holloway Twitty.

Beth, what do you think about the news? 

BETH HOLLOWAY TWITTY, MOTHER OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY:  Well, it‘s kind of frightening, Rita, when I think about them now, you know, having these suspects go before a judge of instruction.  And I think that what we have known all along was that there had to be more evidence brought forward. 

And I just don‘t know what has come forward to proceed forward with the trial.  So, you know, it‘s just really frightening, because, I mean, it‘s one chance.  I mean, we don‘t get a second chance at this.  Once they go before the judge of instruction for the charges, that‘s it. 

COSBY:  You know, you bring up a good point, because last night we had Joran‘s attorney, Joe Tacopina, on the show.  And he, you know, even said, look, if it happens today, he believes his client would be acquitted.  And he also believes maybe it‘s a way to sort of, quote, “get the monkey off the back,” is the way he described it.  Let me play his comment, and I‘ll get your reaction. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE TACOPINA, JORAN VAN DER SLOOT‘S ATTORNEY:  If this case is supposed to be resolved with a quick, shotgun trial, just to say, “Hey, we made arrests; we brought it to trial.  And there‘s no evidence, so there was an acquittal.”  And Aruba thinks now the monkey is off their back, you know, I think that‘s despicable to do to the Holloway family.  I don‘t think that‘s fair to do to Joran and his family or anyone else, for that matter. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  You know, Beth, are you worried that maybe the Aruban government is just trying to rush this through now and then make it case closed? 

TWITTY:  Well, you know, it is a concern.  And like I said, it is kind of frightening to think about, that this is our one chance.  And I just don‘t know what new evidence has been brought forward in order for us to go to trial. 

So, you know, I think that—you know, I heard Dave speak last night that, you know, we have never pressured them, as far as, you know, proceeding forward to a trial.  I mean, we knew that the evidence had to be collected.  And, you know, I think that we haven‘t even been able to thoroughly exhaust some of the searches on the island of Aruba. 

COSBY:  No, you bring up some great points.  You know, we were surprised about the timing, too, Beth.

You know, are you concerned also about the Aruban justice system?  In this particular case, it‘s obviously different than our system.  There‘s no jury.  It goes before this panel of judges.  They can bring up different charges, too.  You can start with the higher-up charge and then go to lower charges.  Are you concerned at the way the system is going to work? 

TWITTY:  Well, I am concerned.  Because, you know, if we look at our track record on filing for motions of appeal, you know, we have not done very well.  None of them have ever been—we‘ve never been able to be successful there. 

So, you know, it is a concern, Rita.  And I just hope that, you know, they have all the evidence that they need and they‘re prepared to move forward and press charges against these suspects. 

COSBY:  You know, unless new evidence is uncovered, then maybe we don‘t about at this point, Beth.  Do you think there is enough to charge these boys, convict them even, with murder or something, even a lesser charge? 

TWITTY:  You know, Rita, I just don‘t know.  I just don‘t know.  I knew that, when we were speaking with the officials during the summer, that they were saying that they had enough charges that they could bring forth this sexual charges.  But as far as anything further than that, you know, we were just not given any information on that. 

COSBY:  You know, one of the things we are seeing, Beth, is that there seems to be a bit of crack between the boys, between the Kalpoe brothers and Joran Van Der Sloot.  And, in fact, last night we showed a clip.  I‘m going to play it again. 

This is the Kalpoe brothers‘ attorney, and he had some very strong words for some of the claims made by Joran Van Der Sloot, saying the brothers they don‘t agree at all with some of the statements that Joran has said.  Here‘s what he had to tell us. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They didn‘t pick him up, yes?  So that‘s a flagrant lie, if you say that.  And he‘s saying that‘s his story, that they that he called Deepak and afterwards Satish came and picked him up, yes? That‘s a lie. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  That‘s pretty strong words to say, a flagrant lie.  It seems that things are getting heated between them.  That could be a good sign, right, if something‘s going to crack? 

TWITTY:  Oh, right.  And, you know, we‘ve known that the suspects have divided as early as June, and it escalated again in September. 

And, you know, what Jug and I had discussed last night was that, you know, we go back to the very beginning.  And that‘s the reason why Paulus Van Der Sloot was arrested in connection with Natalee‘s disappearance, because he had lied to the authorities by saying that he had changed his pickup time. 

He had initially told the witnesses that he himself had picked up Joran Van Der Sloot at 4:00 a.m. on the night of the 30th.  But he later changed it about three weeks into the investigation that he did not pick up Joran at 4:00 a.m. on the 30th

So that was the reason why Paulus Van Der Sloot was arrested.  And, you know, we think back on that.  And when we think that, you know, maybe Deepak and Satish were not there to pick up Joran Van Der Sloot, but it was Paulus Van Der Sloot himself.

COSBY:  Which begs a lot of questions.  The question is:  Who is lying tonight, Beth?  And I‘m sure wondering more than anyone.

Are you worried, if this does go to a trial, as the Kalpoe brothers‘ attorney is suggesting—he‘s saying June or July—are you worried, case closed, that they‘re stop the search even? 

TWITTY:  Well, I am worried.  And I think that the track record speaks for itself, Rita.  I mean, we just have not been very successful when we bring forward these cases in front of the judge of instruction. 

I just hope that they have all the evidence that they need and are really ready to press charges against these suspects.  I mean, that‘s all the family can rely on. 

COSBY:  You bet.  And you deserve it, Beth.  And I do hope justice is served for you.  Thank you so much, Beth. 

And now let‘s bring in, if we could, Steve Cohen.  He‘s a special adviser to the Aruban government.  And joining us now live on the phone from the island is Aruban attorney Arlene Ellis Schipper. 

Steve, does the Aruban government want to see this case go to trial and wrapped up in some shape or form, whichever way it is? 

STEVE COHEN, SPECIAL ADVISER TO ARUBAN GOVERNMENT:  There‘s no question that the goal has always been to figure out what happened to Natalee, who was responsible, if anyone, was there criminality?  You know, we want that result. 

But all that‘s happened here, Rita, is that you have an aggressive producer who got hold of the attorney, and the attorney, just talking out loud, thinking out loud, came up with these suppositions that are totally...

COSBY:  All right, Steve.  I got to interrupt you.  I got to interrupt you on two counts. 

First of all, our producer wasn‘t aggressive; he was doing his job.  And second of all, Steve, I can tell you, if you listened to the whole thing—I‘m not sure if you saw the whole thing—he essentially said, “I‘m getting information that,” and it sounds like it‘s coming from the prosecutor‘s office or somewhere.  So he‘s providing this information.  You can‘t blame an attorney saying it, and you can‘t blame us for...

(CROSSTALK)  

COHEN:  I‘m telling you that all that‘s happened is that this is conjecture, that there is no one inside the case, either the investigators or the office of the prosecution, that told this attorney what he said.  So I have to say that...

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  Are you saying just this attorney—I‘ve got to interrupt you, Steve.  Are you saying this attorney‘s just making it up?  This is the Kalpoe brothers‘ attorney.  And why would he want to even say this, that his clients could be facing murder charges?  It doesn‘t make his clients look good.

COHEN:  Because I think that, when you ask an attorney questions like he was asked, he‘s going to offer his instinctive, you know, feelings.  He‘s going to offer what he thinks could happen.  And it was about what he said could happen, not what would happen. 

(CROSSTALK)

COSBY:  But, Steve, he did say, “I have inside information.” 

COHEN:  I have to be a little bit more—a little bit firmer with you.  Nothing‘s changed in this case.  The investigation has not concluded.  Until the investigation is concluded, the office of the prosecution will not know exactly what they have with their case that they then can present to the judge. 

COSBY:  All right, let me bring in Arlene Ellis, because let me be firm with you.  Then the question is:  Why would this guy say he‘s getting inside information?  Are you saying that this attorney is lying, Arlene, and just making it up for some attention?  I find that hard to believe. 

ARLENE ELLIS SCHIPPER, ARUBAN STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS TASK FORCE: 

Well, I listened to your sound bite.  And I actually called up the attorney‘s office today to get an explanation straight from the horse‘s mouth.  And basically he confirmed that he just speculated on information that he got. 

It is his estimation and speculation.  There‘s nothing confirmed, like Mr. Cohen said.  There‘s key elements missing in order to conclude that this case is going to trial. 

And first of all, the police must feel that the investigation is complete.  Then, they close the investigation regarding these suspects, send the official and complete case files to the prosecutor‘s office.  And then the prosecutor has the sole capacity to decide on a prosecutional decision that can be either to prosecute or not. 

COSBY:  And, Arlene, I agree that—and I agree with you and Steven in the sense that I don‘t think that this is the right time, based on everything that we‘ve seen publicly. 

But I will tell you that he was very clear—and it‘s even on camera saying I am getting information, I‘m being told, and would not be surprised that.  Is the Aruban government putting heat on this guy for speaking forward, Arlene? 

SCHIPPER:  No, not at all.  It is a common, known fact that the prosecution‘s office wants to bring this case to trial, but they will only do so if they feel confident. 

Because, as Ms. Twitty already said, there is the issue of double jeopardy.  And no prosecutor in her right mind will bring the case to trial if she feels not confident. 

And, yes, he thinks—it is his estimation that, possibly, if they don‘t feel comfortable about a murder charge, they could bring them up for lesser charges, if they feel comfortable, but it‘s all estimation and speculation.  And I do not want to feed any expectations or raise any expectations, if we are still in the face of active and open investigations, which we are still at. 

COSBY:  All right, well, both of you, thank you again.  And, again, everybody, we just want to tell you again what he said to us on camera, was he is being told that he‘s getting information that he would not be surprised if June and July as you saw specifically on camera, that there could be a trial starting in June or July. 

And, again, of course, we hope that that‘s not the case, if there‘s not new information one way or the other, for the family, of course.  But indeed that is what he said on camera, everybody.  And our producer did do a great job.  Hats off to our producer, Darren Mackoff, who went down there. 

And still ahead, everybody, a man tells a 911 operator that he has just shot a teenager.  Wait until you hear the outrageous reason he says he did it.  The chilling 911 call is coming up. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DISPATCHER:  OK, sir, what‘s the problem?  Can you tell me exactly what happened?

CHARLES MARTIN, SHOT NEIGHBOR:  I just killed a kid.

DISPATCHER:  You just killed a kid?

MARTIN:  Yes, ma‘am.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  Tonight, shockwaves running through an Ohio town after a small neighborhood confrontation turns into a bloody burst of rage.  A 15-year-old boy was shot dead on Sunday afternoon only yards away from his own doorstep.  The alleged shooter:  his 66-year-old neighbor, Charles Martin, angry at the boy for walking across his front yard. 

Martin was the first to call 911, and his chilling confession is all caught on tape.  Brian Hamrick from NBC affiliate WLWT has the details. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN HAMRICK, REPORTER, WLWT (voice-over):  Charles Martin has been called eccentric, even friendly, but now he‘s called a killer.  In fact, he‘s calling himself that.  This is Martin‘s matter-of-fact call to 911. 

DISPATCHER:  OK, sir, what‘s the problem?  Can you tell me exactly what happened?

CHARLES MARTIN, SHOT NEIGHBOR:  I just killed a kid.

DISPATCHER:  You just killed a kid?

MARTIN:  Yes, ma‘am.

HAMRICK:  Fifteen-year-old Larry Mugrage was a freshman at Glen Este.  He was gunned down after he had walked through his next-door neighbor‘s yard.  For people who live here...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It was a shock. 

HAMRICK:  ... it‘s all hard to believe.  These kids familiar with the neighborhood say Martin had a strange fascination with his yard. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s measuring the length of his grass just to see if it‘s like a precise measurement on exactly what he wants it to be.  And he‘s just out there every day cutting it like two or three times. 

HAMRICK:  Now the grass is the least of Charles Martin‘s troubles. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COSBY:  And that was Brian Hamrick from WLWT. 

Let‘s now bring back in psychotherapist and author of the upcoming book, “‘Til Death Do Us Part,” Dr. Robi Ludwig. 

Dr. Ludwig, let me play, if I could—this is another bit of that 911 call. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DISPATCHER:  OK, sir, what‘s the problem?  Can you tell me exactly what happened?

CHARLES MARTIN, SHOT NEIGHBOR:  I just killed a kid.

DISPATCHER:  You just killed a kid?

MARTIN:  Yes, ma‘am.

DISPATCHER:  OK, what happened?

MARTIN:  It‘s been going on for five years.

DISPATCHER:  What‘s going on?

MARTIN:  I‘ve been harassed by him and his parents for five years. 

And I just blew it up.

DISPATCHER:  What is your name, sir?

MARTIN:  Charles Martin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Dr. Ludwig, are you surprised how calm he is? 

LUDWIG:  It is shocking.  And one of the things that goes through my mind is, I wonder if he‘s somewhat of a paranoid loner, so that really the lawn was more important to him than the life of this 15-year-old child. 

It‘s very possible he felt taunted by this child, considered him bad, and when he ultimately just snapped, really considered himself justified.  He was not trying to get away with it though, clearly, by the 911 phone call. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  And, in fact, you know, he says here, “I did it;

I‘m a killer.”  Let‘s play a little bit more of the call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DISPATCHER:  OK, what happened?  Tell me what happened, Charles?

MARTIN:  Kid‘s just been giving me a bunch of (bleep), making the other kids harass me and my place, tearing things up.

DISPATCHER:  OK, so what‘d you do?

MARTIN:  I shot him with a goddamned .410 shotgun, twice.

DISPATCHER:  You shot him with a shotgun.  Where is he?

MARTIN:  He‘s laying in the yard.

DISPATCHER:  Where at in the yard?

MARTIN:  By his driveway.

DISPATCHER:  Where?  In the driveway?

MARTIN:  By his driveway.  Now, I‘m going to unload the gun.  I‘m going to lay it on the floor.

DISPATCHER:  All right.  I want you to stay on the phone with me.

MARTIN:  I‘ll be outside.  I don‘t want the cops to think I‘m going to take anything to them.  I‘ll be outside.  I‘ll be unarmed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  It‘s so strange, Dr. Ludwig.  We also heard from the neighbors that this guy had dinner.  He was apparently a very friendly neighbor who went over to the other neighbor‘s house, the boy‘s family. 

LUDWIG:  Well, you know, you can be very friendly when things go your way.  And for whatever reason, this lawn and keeping it a certain way might have been his way of keeping things together. 

And he just wasn‘t able to tolerate some of the imperfections that happened in life and some of the frustrations that happen in life.  And for whatever reason, it‘s possible this child taunted him, because he was odd, this man was oddly related, and the man just snapped and felt justified. 

COSBY:  Very scary stuff, especially when you think about it‘s a neighbor who‘s next door to you. 

LUDWIG:  It is.

COSBY:  Dr. Ludwig, thank you very much for your insight tonight.

LUDWIG:  Thank you.

COSBY:  Thank you.

And let‘s now check in with Joe Scarborough for a sneak peek at what is coming up on his show in a few minutes. 

Joe, what do you have on “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST:  Hey, Rita, I‘ll tell you what.  A shocking new study out by Harvard University that basically says the same thing that David Duke has been saying in Louisiana and across the country for years now.  Now, critics are screaming anti-Semitism.  We‘re actually going to have David Duke on.  We‘re also going to have Alan Dershowitz to tell Harvard‘s side of the story.  Except attorney Dershowitz, like so many others at Harvard, are just as outraged. 

Also, the latest scandal on “American Idol.”  A south Florida paper reports that they‘re actually planting ringers in the top 12 to make sure that pros come on and do a good job.  We‘ll be talking about that and much more, and the president‘s press conference this morning, all ahead in “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.”

COSBY:  Sounds like a packed show.  We‘ll be watching, Joe.  Thank you very much. 

And still ahead, everybody, the woman known as the cell phone bandit is coming clean.  She‘s finally telling us who she was talking to.  You see right there.  This was while she was robbing banks.

And next, has a woman just given police the clue that they need to find us a suspected serial killer?  Her own husband‘s DNA, that‘s coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  Well, could police be one step closer to hunting down a serial killer in Daytona Beach, Florida?  Three women have been found dead in various parts of the Daytona area since December.  So far, the killer is averaging one victim a month, and cops are concerned that the killer could strike again, and could strike soon. 

But now a woman is making a stunning claim:  that her ex-husband could be the serial killer.  And she‘s offered cops a sample of his DNA.

Joining me now here in the studio is former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt. 

Good to have you here with us.

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER:  Hi, Rita.  Good to be here.

COSBY:  What do you make of this woman‘s claims?

VAN ZANDT:  Well, you know, there‘s a lot to be run down on this.  I mean, people can claim anything.  You know, is there a hidden agenda?  Does she have a reason for offering up her husband? 

COSBY:  Is she angry at her ex-husband, you mean? 

VAN ZANDT:  That‘s probably happened once or twice in life.  So, you know, law enforcement‘s going to have to run that down.  It doesn‘t mean it‘s not true; but it means, you know, there‘s other things that have to be done with this information.  You got to run it down now. 

COSBY:  Now, some of the things she‘s pointing to, to cops—and, again, we have to, of course, have this verified—she says that her ex-husband has a history of murder, that he‘s confessed to shooting a woman at close range, and is a paranoid schizophrenic.  If indeed this is true, this could be the type of guy, obviously, who would commit these types of crimes. 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, yes, I mean, you know, everybody does something for the first time.  You ride a bike, and unfortunately a serial killer kills for the first time. 

It sounds like she‘s talking about something that may have taken place before the three known murders, something that took place once before.  You know, why has she sat on this information until now?  You know, she suggests, “Gee, I feel so bad.  I finally had to come forward.”  Well, it sounds like there could be three, if not four, dead women.  It‘s about time she came forward. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  She should have, obviously, if she had any inclination, done it a long time ago.  One of the things she did provide was a DNA sample to the cops.

VAN ZANDT:  Sure.

COSBY:  That obviously is going to verify one way or the other, right?

VAN ZANDT:  Yes, it‘s—you know, no matter what she has to say, bottom line is, either prove it scientifically or don‘t prove it.  You know, what you‘ve got, mitochondrial DNA, you can find a human hair, might have been found on one of the victims. 

They could take that hair, compare if against a hair from his hairbrush that she provided, and say, “OK, they‘re both black hair.  Let‘s go ahead and do the scientific analysis.”  A week from now, they‘ll know for sure:  100 percent, did this come, is this the right DNA strain or not? 

COSBY:  You know, we‘re looking at some of the commonalties.  And it is pretty scary.  Here, Daytona Beach is a beautiful resort area. 

VAN ZANDT:  Sure.

COSBY:  All of the victims are women, as we know, from the pictures.  All died of gunshot wounds, lived high-risk lifestyles, prostitutes, part-time prostitutes, in some cases.  Victims also got into the car with the killer willingly.  How do you believe this scenario happened?  Do you think it‘s someone who‘s soliciting, you know, these prostitutes? 

VAN ZANDT:  You know, I‘ve read—the profiler in Florida who‘s working this case has suggested his opinion, that this is someone who‘s really angry against women.  Maybe a specific woman he‘s angry against and that he‘s taking it out on these high-risk targets. 

You know, it‘s one thing if you have to go and grab somebody off the street.  It‘s another if you‘re just cruising down the street and someone says, “Hey, you know, want a date?” 

COSBY:  Very scary stuff.

VAN ZANDT:  Yes, it is.

COSBY:  Clint, but I hope this case is solved, regardless however it turns out.  Thank you very much. 

VAN ZANDT:  We all do.  Thank you. 

COSBY:  Thanks, Clint.  Good to see you here. 

And still ahead, everybody, she was the rude robber who wouldn‘t even hang up her cell phone while robbing a bank.  Now, for the first time, she‘s hanging up the phone and explaining who she was talking to.  We‘re going to tell you when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSBY:  And “Caught by Cosby” tonight, for the first time, the woman known as the cell phone bandit is talking, and this time not on her cell phone.  Candace Martinez was the woman seen robbing four Wachovia banks in Northern Virginia, all the while talking on her cell phone.  She‘s been convicted, and now she‘s finally revealing who she was talking to:  her boyfriend. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CANDACE MARTINEZ, CELL PHONE BANDIT:  I wanted money that bad.  I wanted it that bad, that I would go in—and I wasn‘t thinking about putting my life in jeopardy.  I wasn‘t thinking of my future.  All I can do is apologize from the depth of my heart and take full responsibility for my actions.  And that‘s the only way I‘ll get through this. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSBY:  Well, her boyfriend had previously worked for Wachovia.  Police say that the two spent the money on—get this—designer hand bags, a plasma TV, a car, and $2,000 Chihuahua puppy that they named, appropriately, Capone.  Martinez is now serving a 12-year prison sentence.  Again, the cell phone bandit.

And that does it for me on LIVE & DIRECT.  I‘m Rita Cosby.  That does it for me tonight.  “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY” with my pal, Joe, starts right now—Joe?

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC HOST:  Hey, Rita.  Capone, how appropriate, huh?

COSBY:  I know.  What a surprise, huh?

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, boy, I bet that handbag was worth it.  Thanks a lot, Rita.

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

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