updated 4/13/2006 10:40:30 AM ET 2006-04-13T14:40:30

Guest: Norm Early, Yale Galanter, Mark Hurlbert, Julia Renfro, Jerry

Markon, Beth Holloway Twitty

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, a new report about what the alleged victim in the Duke lacrosse rape case said and didn't say when she showed up at the hospital after she said she was raped. 

The program about Justice starts now. 

Hi everyone.  First up on the docket, she never told police or the hospital who did it, according to a source who spoke to ESPN magazine.  The alleged victim in the Duke gang rape investigation quote, “never said one thing about Duke, any athlete or anything, she just kept hollering and screaming, she never said who did it .”

The magazine also reported that she did have bruising on her body.  It's been just 24 hours since the district attorney in Durham, North Carolina, made it clear the investigation into the alleged gang rape is not over, despite the DNA results coming back without a match. 


MIKE NIFONG, DURHAM, N.C., DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  A lot has been said in the press, particularly by some attorneys yesterday, about this case should go away.  I hope that you will understand by the fact that I am here this morning, that my presence here means that this case is not going away. 


ABRAMS:  And now the rumor mill is churning about possible arrests, but here on the program about justice, we look past the rumors and we try a as best we can to get to the source.  NBC's Michelle Hofland and I have been both working the phones today.  She is in Durham and joins us now. 

All right.  Michelle, first, let's just talk about this most important issue, what are you hearing about any possible arrests?

MICHELLE HOFLAND, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, first of all, we did hear those rumors circling, and so we talked to some of the attorneys, we talked to some of the major players in the case, and what they tell us is that they have been told that no arrests are expected within at least the next few days. 

Not only that, NBC News has obtained a copy of a letter sent from the district attorney to the attorneys for the lacrosse players.  And in it the district attorney says that the initial police reports, the comprehensive police reports, those are not finished yet, not only that, but the second round of DNA testing, that is not finished and that the district attorney doesn't expect those to be finished until next week.  So that's what we have right now. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let's be clear then about that, that this is a letter from the DA to the defense attorneys, A, talking about a second round of DNA testing, so it seems clear the DNA testing is not over, and B, they're not even going to have all the information that they need, forget about arrests, et cetera, until no earlier than April 17th

HOFLAND:  That's what they expect, but then of course, you have to remember what if those things come in early?  You know, you never know what happens and so everyone here is kind of hedging a little bit, saying, well, if the test results do come in earlier than expected, then things could change.  But right now they do not expect anything until next week, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  There is a grand jury that is scheduled to met in Durham on Monday, correct? 

HOFLAND:  Mm-hmm.  Correct. 

ABRAMS:  We do not know if this case will be presented to that grand jury, right? 

HOFLAND:  That is correct. 

ABRAMS:  And based on what you're telling us though, it seems it would be unlikely that they would present the case to the grand jury at that point because it sounds like they won't even have all their evidence yet. 

HOFLAND:  That is correct.  But then still, there is an option, I mean, the district attorney Mike Nifong still could go to the grand jury but it appears right now that he is not going to do that.  He is going to wait until all the rest of the evidence comes in. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Michelle, if you can stick around for a minute.  Joining me now, former Denver district attorney Norm Early, MSNBC legal analyst and former prosecutor Susan Filan, criminal defense attorney Yale Galanter joins us as well. 

All right.  First of all, Norm, let me ask you as the former DA in Denver, this is a tough decision one has to make.  You need to go to the grand jury apparently in North Carolina to get this sort of indictment.  I would assume when you're up for reelection on May 2nd, you're in no rush to put that case in front of the grand jury yet. 

NORM EARLY, FMR. DENVER DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  No.  As a matter of fact, when you go to a grand jury, oftentimes members of the public don't trust the decision that comes out of the grand jury.  It appears as if though the district attorney is ducking making a decision, so if the district attorney actually has the capacity to file a case without going to the grand ,jury in light of the fact that he's made the statements that he has and that he shares much information with defense attorneys, I believe that going to a grand jury would not be the wisest course of action. 

ABRAMS:  But I believe—and Yale or Susan, correct me if I'm wrong, I believe in North Carolina that's the way you have got to do it. 

YALE GALANTER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  You do have to go to a grand jury for formal charges.  And in Durham, the grand jury only meets one week a month, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, and I'm told that the next time they're going to be meeting will be May 1st.  Is that right, Yale? 

GALANTER:  That's correct. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  All right.  Let me—Susan, let me ask you about this ESPN report, all right?  We already talked about the fact that the report says that she didn't say anything about Duke, she didn't say anything about the players, that she was just yelling.  On the other hand, the ESPN magazine reports: “The sources says the woman entered the hospital well after midnight, March 13th, wearing a red nightgown and nothing on her feet.  She was walking on her own but there were bruises on her face, neck and arms.  A triage nurse attended to her, but the woman did not want him to touch her because he was a man.  She was then examined by a sexual assault nurse.  There were injuries to the woman's pelvic area.” What does this tell us? 

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Wow.  I would love to know where—who their source is and where they're getting this information from.  But look, in rape cases, very often victims have a lot of difficulty telling what happened.  It's a jumble in their mind, they're embarrassed, sometimes they blame themselves. 

So a lot of times what happens is you get bits and pieces of the story coming out over time and sometimes it's over weeks.  We a doctrine called constancy of accusation which means if somebody says something once, twice, three, four, five times, it can be used to prove that it really happened.  But the absence of constancy of accusation cannot be used to disprove that it did happen. 

ABRAMS:  Let me—Michelle, this business about wearing a red nightgown, could that be significant? 

HOFLAND:  Talking with some experts in this, some defense attorneys in this, they believe that that really poses a lot of questions.  First of all, the witnesses say that she showed up to this party wearing nothing but a body suit and red and black lace over the top of that, the body suit being like a bathing suit, a nude colored bathing suit.  And then somebody dropped her off, so she had what she was wearing, her purse and her cell phone inside of her purse. 

NBC News has verified pictures of her outside the house, shortly before she left the party according to a time stamp on the back of it.  And those photos show exactly that, not a bathrobe but a nude undergarment and then some red and black lace over the top of that. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  So, Norm, how does that play? 

EARLY:  It's difficult, Dan, but we're way past judging people based on what they wear as to whether or not they've been sexually assaulted. 


ABRAMS:  I know, but I don't mean like that, Norm.  I mean the issue -

·         the possibility of her having changed, would that be significant? 

EARLY:  Well, certainly you don't want victims to change so that you can preserve as much evidence, but it is not uncommon.  If something happened to you in a certain set of clothing, especially a potential sexual assault, you're going to find yourself changing out of that to get those garments as far away from you as they possibly can. 

Hopefully she did not destroy the garments and there might be some evidence inside of those, such as hairs or other things that might be determinative of who, if anybody, committed this assault. 

ABRAMS:  Yale, do you think it's significant that she didn't mention Duke or the players, et cetera?  I mean, it sounds from this report like she is yelling and screaming when she gets to the hospital, and you know, Susan points out that if you are a rape victim, you know, you are not always going to be calm and composed.

GALANTER:  Well, it's not so much the calm and composed when she first gets there, but just remember, the rape treatment people at this medical facility, their job is to gather evidence and find out who did it, so they're going to calm her down, they're going to take her blood, they're going to start the pelvic exam, they're going to try and get as much information as she can. 

And depending on what told them in private is going to be very, very important.  Because they want to know who the assailant is.  The other thing.

ABRAMS:  Norm doesn't agree with you.  Hang on, let me just first deal with this issue.

FILAN:  I don't agree either. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me let Norm in and then I'll let you, Susan. 

Go ahead, Norm

EARLY:  Well, first of all, when a victim goes to that kind of situation, she's bound to be hysterical and she should be hysterical.  And if she's giving an identification to a nurse down to the very last mole on an individual's face, their exact height and other issues, what she's going to do is basically tell a story, whether it's somebody jumped out of the bushes and grabbed me, she's not going to be saying that the person was this tall, this person was this heavy or those sorts of things. 

If they did, you ought to be suspect, because they are not tracking in that way.  Basically, they're just trying to get the story out.  It's the detectives who should be determining how tall the person was, and what the issue was in terms of identification. 

ABRAMS:  And, Susan, let me ask you with this.  All right.  Crimestoppers, which is an organization which helps to solve crimes and works with the local authorities in these cases, they changed the way they described this case as time passed.  And I want to get your sense.  I'm going to read this and then I want to get a sense from you as to whether the authorities may have been involved in telling them, hey, back off this.

On April 3rd: “The Crimestoppers news release said the victim was sodomized, raped, assaulted and robbed.  This horrific crime sent shockwaves through our community.” 

April 4th, at 11:16, the news release said: “The victim alleges that she was sodomized, raped, assaulted and robbed.  And then at 11:34 a.m.:

“The complainant alleges that she was sodomized, raped, assaulted and robbed.” Any significance to this? 

FILAN:  Yes, I think they're watching your show, Dan.  Really what's going on here is I think they're actually getting educated because technically it's only proper to say.

ABRAMS:  But Crimestoppers needs to be educated on how to use the right terms for crimes? 

FILAN:  I can't speak for Crimestoppers.  I mean, look, I think it's sensational from the get-go to say what they're saying on their Web site or whatever it is, but it does look like they are changing their position, but I don't think it necessarily means that this doesn't happen. 

I think, Dan, your show is elevating the discourse on how we talk about investigations.  I mean, this is really, really fascinating, and you have absolutely changed the way people are talking and thinking. 

ABRAMS:  I'm not looking for any credit here.  I'm just looking to figure out—I'm looking to figure out—Norm, you worked with Crimestoppers, right? 

EARLY:  Yes—well, no, but I used to be on the board, but you will recall, Dan, that during the Kobe Bryant case we went through this complainant/victim thing and there was a lot of discussion about it and eventually the judge made a ruling that under certain circumstances the word victim could not be used. 

ABRAMS:  But that is only silliness, yes, that was silliness.

EARLY:  I thought it was. 

ABRAMS:  It was only silliness because all they were trying—the prosecutors wanted to refer to it as victim, they decided, they charged, they believed that she was the victim.  As I pointed out at the time, let the defense say she's not the victim, let the defense say she's a liar.  And let the prosecutors call her the—anyway, all right. 

EARLY:  And under these circumstances, no charges have been filed.

ABRAMS:  That's right.  That's why this is different. 

EARLY:  You're one step removed. 

ABRAMS:  And you mentioned the Kobe Bryant case.  Michelle Hofland, hey, thanks a lot, I'll see you there in Durham, North Carolina, tomorrow.  I'll be hosting the show live from the Duke campus.  Norm, Susan, and Yale are going to stay with us.

Coming up, a lot of people trying to make parallels between this case and the Kobe Bryant case.  Up next, we'll talk to the DA who was the one who filed those charges and then later dropped them when the accuser backed out. 

And for the first time we hear the cockpit voice recorder when hijackers took over United Flight 93 on 9/11.  It is heartbreaking, it is brave, it is important and we're going to talk to someone who was in court at the Zacarias Moussaoui trial where the tape was played. 

Plus, Dutch TV airs a recreation of the events surrounding Natalee Holloway's disappearance.  They say they've received 60 tips.  Aruban police are now looking for a man who harassed a tourist on the beach just days before Natalee went missing. 

Your e-mails, abramsreport@msnbc.com, please include your name, where you are writing from, respond at the end of the show. 



NIFONG:  The thing about DNA is that not only that it can point the finger to who the guilty people are, but it can also tell us who the guilty people are not.


ABRAMS:  We are back talking about the alleged rape case involving the Duke University lacrosse players.  It seems everyone is comparing it to another high profile case, basketball star Kobe Bryant was accused of raping a woman at a hotel in Colorado back in 2003.  

Now, that case was very different, because Bryant admitted having sex with a woman, but said it was consensual.  Eventually charges were dropped because the woman didn't want to testify, but not before the defense began the process of trying to undermine the alleged victim's credibility.  Joining me now is Eagle County, Colorado, District Attorney Mark Hurlbert. 

He prosecuted the Kobe Bryant case.

Thanks a lot for coming on the program, appreciate it.


ABRAMS:  All right.  So tell me how you go about making a decision that you believe a victim, a woman, in your case—or in this kind of case, that she has been raped? 

HURLBERT:  Well, certainly you talk to the victim.  I talked to the victim in the Bryant case several times.  You talk to the victim, after years of prosecution, you can be pretty good at judging people's credibility.  And if you believe the victim, then you look to building a case with other evidence that supports their story, such as, is there DNA, is there bruising, is there—you know, what in her statement is consistent, what in her statement gives her credibility?  And you build your case that way. 

ABRAMS:  And you had—one of the strongest pieces of evidence in your case was the fact that there was blood found on Bryant's shirt, right? 

HURLBERT:  Right.  We had blood found on Bryant's shirt.  We had bruising on the victim's neck.  So we had some pretty good evidence. 

ABRAMS:  But as the time passed, more information came out about the alleged victim in the case and ultimately it seemed that the most difficult piece of evidence to deal with in the Bryant case was the fact that the young woman's underwear was tested and it had someone else's DNA.  When you found that out, even—and you made it clear that you still believed the alleged victim, that that didn't change the case for you.  But you knew it was a setback, when a piece of information like that came out.  What were you thinking at that point? 

HURLBERT:  Well, certainly we knew it was a setback, but as you said, we believed the victim and we had to find out what was the source of that DNA and where that came from.  What was the—where did the DNA get—how did the DNA get onto the underwear? 

ABRAMS:  What do you think this DA is going through?  There's a lot of pressure, is there not, to be a DA, making a decision like, this, in a very controversial, racially-charged case. 

HURLBERT:  There is extreme pressure.  I had huge pressure on me from the defense saying you don't need to file, from—although we didn't have huge—the victims were very cooperative with us, there was still huge pressure from the media saying, when are you going to file, when are you going to file, if you don't file, your case is bad. 

And so there was huge pressure on me.  And so I can't even imagine the pressure that is on the prosecutor down in Durham, because he not only has pressure from the defense and the media, he also has pressure from the victim.  He has pressure from the community.  From what I've seen this case has completely divided the community.  So he has all these huge pressures going on.  It's something I certainly do not envy him for. 

ABRAMS:  You know, I know it's hard to be totally honest about a question like this, because it is something of a loaded question, but this DA is up for reelection on May 2nd.  I would hope, you would hope, you would tell me and I would believe you when you would say, you know, I would try as hard as I could not to let that affect any decision I made one way or the other.  But is it possible for an elected DA to completely separate himself, with an election coming up weeks away, from that, when you have got a case that is so polarizing? 

HURLBERT:  Here's what they—here's what he can separate himself from.  He's an experienced prosecutor.  It's my understanding he has 27 years in the prosecutor's office down in Durham.  And he can set that aside, I believe.  I was certainly able to do that.  I had an election coming up also when I filed Bryant.  And certainly had an election coming up when I dismissed Bryant.  And I made the decision based upon the evidence that we have. 

I feel, again, that doesn't mean that it's not in the back of his mind.  I think certainly he is—he would not wish that that would happen right before an election.  He is potentially alienating a large group of his constituents no matter what he does in this case.

ABRAMS:  Norm, is it fair for me to say that this Duke case may be even more polarizing, based on race, than even the Bryant case? 

EARLY:  I think it's absolutely true, because in Eagle you have mostly a lily white community and you don't have the issue being debated as hotly as you do within the Durham community.  But when you talk about the pressure that's on the district attorney, especially at this time, I had a mentor, Judge Otto Moore (ph) from our Colorado Supreme Court, who once said to me, you never have to explain what you don't say. 

And part of this pressure comes from the fact that this district attorney announced very early in the proceedings that he believed the victim, and he believed that a rape did occur.  Contrast that with what happened in the Kobe Bryant case, where Mark Hurlbert did what most of us as prosecutors do, which is conclude the investigation and then make an announcement about what the evidence shows. 

So to some degree, the pressure that the district attorney is under in Durham is as a result of the statements that he made about the case. 

ABRAMS:  Mark, do you agree? 

HURLBERT:  I do.  Although I don't—it is certainly some of the pressure, but his statements were conclusory (ph) statements that—they were just basically general statements.  They weren't about the facts and. 

ABRAMS:  Well, no, he said—wait, Mark, he was on this program, he said that he was convinced that a rape occurred. 

HURLBERT:  Right. 

ABRAMS:  And you know, that in and of itself is an implication, correct? 

HURLBERT:  It is an implication, but he didn't say, I am convinced that a rape occurred because we have this evidence and this evidence and this evidence, is kind of what I'm getting at. 

And you know, it's a tough decision, because—whether to say anything or not, because you still have to tell your community that there is—that you have a competent DA's office, you have a good DA's office, and that you still have to tell other rape victims that you have a DA's office that will believe you, whether we can file a case or not. 

ABRAMS:  Do you ever still talk to the.

EARLY:  But you know.

ABRAMS:  Let me just ask real quick, do you ever still talk to the woman in your case, Mark? 

HURLBERT:  You know, it has been a little while, but I have talked with her, yes. 

ABRAMS:  Norm, go ahead.  You wanted to make a point.

EARLY:  If there's a filing in this case, if the grand jury produces an indictment, what's going to happen is that it is going to be undermined by defense attorneys who are saying what happened here is the district attorney steered the grand jury to make its decision coincide with the statements that the district attorney has already made about the case, in terms of his belief about the rape and about his belief in this victim. 

So what you're going to have—if he doesn't file the case, then you're going to have everybody in North Carolina Central University all over him saying, hey, you said a rape occurred here, and not you're not going to file a case.  It is a tremendous horn of a dilemma that he finds himself on, partly because of the statements he made. 

ABRAMS:  Susan, you wanted to chime in on this? 

FILAN:  Well, I think the issue now for this district attorney is, let's say he continues to believe her and he thinks that he has got probable cause to arrest, but he didn't think that he can convict her, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, does he arrest anyway? 

And I think that's a real issue that he is going to face, and that's a very serious ethical dilemma for him to be in.  But.

ABRAMS:  Susan, do you think it would be unethical for him to say the following, in his own mind, which is, there is no immediate rush to arrest.  I want to take my time here.  I also would like to put this election behind me so people will stop talking about it in the context of the decision whether to indict or not, and as a result, says I'm not going to do anything until after that election.  Would that be unethical? 

HURLBERT:  Yes.  That's absolutely unethical.  That's letting the political process infect what you do as a district attorney.  And that just can't come into play.  It just simply can't.  You can't do your job, trying to keep your job.  Well, I think it's wrong. 

ABRAMS:  Well, no, no, but see, Yale, I think if you view it—is there an argument to be made that if you don't view it as trying to keep your job, but instead you view it as trying to sort of calm the community and make a decision one way or the other, where it's not going to lead to sort of anger and riots, et cetera.

FILAN:  He's not a healer.  He's not a mayor.  He's not a politician, he in law enforcement. 

GALANTER:  Dan, he's got serious ethical problems.  And Norm really hit the thing right on the head.  The pressure he's feeling is because of the comments he made very early on.  There's one other thing that everybody needs to know.  He's running against an African-American who's a former colleague of his in the district attorney's office in what appears to be an extremely close race. 

So this guy a fighting for his political future and it's going to be decided in the next two weeks.  So the decisions he makes today, surely he's thinking about this political election. 

FILAN:  Well, he shouldn't be.

ABRAMS:  Hang, hang on, Mark Hurlbert, real quick? 

GALANTER:  And Susan is right, he shouldn't be. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, I know.  Mark Hurlbert, if you were the DA and you were watching this program right now, you would have your ears—smoke would be coming out of your ears, right, having a discussion about whether the politics is infecting your decision? 

HURLBERT:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  You would think that you would be able to separate it and hope that a prosecutor of 27 years would be able to separate it, not that it's not on his—that the election is not on his mind and this case is not on his mind.  But those are two separate things. 

ABRAMS:  Mark Hurlbert, it's great to see you on the program.  I've got to wrap it up.  But good to see you.  Thanks for coming on.  Norm, it has been too long with you as well. 

HURLBERT:  Thank you.

EARLY:  Hey, Dan, good to see you again.

ABRAMS:  And our regulars, Susan and Yale, good to see you.

FILAN:  Thanks, Dan.

GALANTER:  Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, for the first time we hear the final moments onboard United Flight 93, we have never heard this before, the hijackers taking over the plane, the brave passengers fighting back.  We are going to talk to somebody who was in court at the Zacarias Moussaoui trial next.  It is emotional stuff. 

And Aruban authorities reenact what they think happened the night Natalee Holloway disappeared.  They have apparently gotten 60 tips, 6-0, and they now have a sketch of someone who they are looking for.  Beth Twitty, mother of Natalee, joins us. 

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose,” our effort to find missing offenders before they strike.  Our search today is in North Dakota.  Police are looking for David Demery, he's 25, five-eight, 180.  He was convicted of abusive sexual contact, has failed to register his address with the state.  If you have got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, 1-800-472-2185.

We'll be right back.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, for the first time, the cockpit voice recorder from United Flight 93 is played, as the passengers tried to fight their way into the cockpit on 9/11 -- details from someone who was in court at the Zacarias Moussaoui trial after the headlines. 


ABRAMS:  We are back.

Only the families and investigators had heard it before today, but now the public is witness to the bone-chilling final moments of the fourth 9/11 hijacking, the cockpit voice recorder tape of United Flight 93 played for the jury in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui—the prosecution wrapping its death-penalty case against the confessed al Qaeda terrorist with some of its most emotional evidence yet, the sounds of the cockpit takeover by four hijackers, what may be the throat-cutting murders of two passengers or crew, and the heroic attempt by passengers to take over the plan, and, then, of course, the final crash of the Boeing 757 near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. 

Jerry Markon from “The Washington Post” was in court when the cockpit voice recorder tape was played. 

Thanks for coming on the program.  We appreciate it. 

All right.  Tell us...


ABRAMS:  Tell us what you heard. 

MARKON:  It was—it was indeed very emotional.  You heard—you heard history.  That's really the best way to say it.  You heard history being made.

You heard the sounds initially, as the hijackers took over the cockpit, of—of somebody being very badly hurt, if not killed.  You heard a moment—you know, a long period of silence after that, as the—the hijackers turned the plane around and headed back, apparently, toward Washington, to strike either the Capitol or the White House.

And then you heard the sounds of an epic struggle, I mean, literally, almost a medieval-level struggle.


MARKON:  I mean, passengers using these low-tech weapons, you know, dishes crashing against the cockpit door, people screaming, the beverage cart hitting the door.  And it concluded, you know, the passengers apparently were seconds away from infiltrating the cockpit itself.  And—and the hijackers deliberately crashed the plane. 


ABRAMS:  Jerry—so, Jerry, why—why don't you—why don't you read for us?

MARKON:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  I mean, I know you took some notes on some of the quotes. 

Why don't you read for us...

MARKON:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  ... some of what you heard on that tape?

MARKON:  Yes.  I'm reading from the transcript, which, you know, does not totally do justice to this because of the sounds you hear it.  So, I will try to ape those as best as I can. 

“Ladies and gents”—“Ladies and gentlemen, hear the captain.  Please, sit down.  Keep remaining seating.  We have a bomb on board, so sit.” 

“Please, please, don't hurt me.”

“Down, no more.”

“I don't want to die.”

“No, no, down, down.”

“I don't want to die.  I don't want to die.  I don't want to die.”

“No, no, no, down, down, down, down, down, down.”

“No, no, please.”

“Everything is fine.  I finished.”

“In the cockpit.  If we don't, we will die.”

“Up, down.  Up, down.  Roll it.  Is that it?  I mean, shall we put it down?”

“Yes.  Yes.  Put it in it.  Pull it down.”

“Cut off the oxygen.” 

“Hey, hey, give it to me.  Give it to me.”

“Allah is the greatest.”

And, at that moment, the hijackers said, “Allah is the greatest,” I think, seven times in a row, turned the plane literally upside down.  And the plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania upside down.  And I will tell you, the tape went dead at that moment.  And the courtroom was as violent silent as the tape. 

ABRAMS:  Jerry, when—when—when you—when you were quoting there, some of it, obviously, was the passengers.  Some of it was the hijackers. 

MARKON:  Right. 

ABRAMS:  The “Roll it” was the moment we have heard about, where, presumably, you have some of the passengers taking a—a cart from the—an airplane food cart and trying to push it into the cockpit door? 

MARKON:  Yes.  Apparently so. 

I mean, you can't tell definitively, but you—you can, you know, sort of tell, based on the anecdotal evidence of the tape.  I mean, you—when they do it, you hear crashing.  I mean, you hear—you hear a thumping as, you know, the cart apparently hits the cockpit door.  And then you hear a crashing, as a heck of a lot of dishes, you know, fall to the ground. 

So, you know, again, they—they used sort of the low-tech weapons,

which is ironic, in a way, because the hijackers were using box-cutters and

little bitty knives as well.  I mean, it's this battle, but nobody is using

guns and nobody is using tanks.  It's just this epic battle whether they're

·         you know, everybody is just sort of trying to claw each other's eyes out.  And, you know, in the end, these—these passengers really won.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Now, Jerry...

MARKON:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  ... there's one point where it's believed that the hijackers in the cockpit were talking about letting the other hijackers in with them. 

Let me read the quote.

MARKON:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  “How about we let them in?  We let the guys in now.

“OK.”“Should we let the guys in?”

“Inform them, and tell him to talk to the pilot.  Bring the pilot back.”

Is it—was there...

MARKON:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  It seems that they were having trouble dealing with, steering the plane.

MARKON:  Yes.  That was unclear, exactly what—what they—I mean, I—I guess the words “Bring the pilot back” are clear, but what happened after that, and whether the pilot actually did, you know, was brought back was—was never made clear. 

They—they appeared at one point to be having a little trouble with the autopilot.  The autopilot, I learned in court today, is a green knob.  At one point, I think right around what you read, somebody said, you know, is it that green knob?  What knob is it?

You know, they seem a little confused.

ABRAMS:  Yes. 

MARKON:  As—as has been said in the Moussaoui trial, these guys weren't necessarily the best pilots, anyway. 

ABRAMS:  Yes. 

MARKON:  But it's not clear what...

ABRAMS:  Yes. 

MARKON:  ... happened with that.  A lot of this is just extrapolating...

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well, look...

MARKON:  ... to be honest.

ABRAMS:  ... the one thing that I think you have pointed out—and I think it's worth me pointing out from me just reading this transcript is—you know, the—the heroism, I'm sure, can only be truly appreciated when you're in that courtroom, listening to it.  I wasn't there, but I have read the entirety...

MARKON:  Right.  Right. 

ABRAMS:  ... of this transcript.  And I can tell you that, you know, all we can say is, once again, that we salute those passengers on that plane, who did everything that they could. 

Jerry Markon, thanks a lot for coming on the program. 

MARKON:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up: over 60 new leads in the Natalee Holloway investigation—that's what they say—after this TV program, similar to “America's Most Wanted,” recreated the events.  It aired in Aruba and the Netherlands.  Natalee's mother is with us—up next.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, dozens of new leads in the Natalee Holloway investigation?  That's what they say, after a Dutch TV show reenacted her disappearance.

We will talk to Natalee's mother up next.


ABRAMS:  Aruban authorities, along with a Dutch television program similar to “America's Most Wanted” have put together a reenactment of the days leading up to Natalee Holloway's disappearance.  It's an effort to generate tips on the case.  The investigative team there in Aruba believes there are people out there who have information who haven't come forward.  They're hoping the show will give them what they need to break the case. 


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR:  Hey, Natalie, what are you doing, girl?  You're crazy.  Get out of the car.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS:  Don't worry.  They will bring me back to the hotel. 

NARRATOR (through translator):  But Natalee cannot be convinced.  She disappears into the Aruba night. 

This is the last image we have from Natalee. 


ABRAMS:  Joining me now is Julia Renfro, editor of “Aruba Today.”

Julia, thanks for coming back on the program.  We appreciate it.

So, I was surprised to hear they have already gotten a good number of tips, some of which they think could be useful?


That's what we understand.  We know that the show has aired in Holland once and in Aruba at least twice.  And it's now available on the Internet as well.  It's in the Dutch language.  And, apparently, you know, people who might know something or maybe have possibly seen something have called in. 

ABRAMS:  And we have heard 60 tips they have gotten? 

RENFRO:  That's what—actually, I had heard 50, but it—you know, that was several hours ago. 

ABRAMS:  Now, what is this about this sketch of someone who may have committed a sexual assault day...

RENFRO:  Well...

ABRAMS:  ... days earlier? 

RENFRO:  Well, according to the authorities, there were reports just in the days prior to Natalee's disappearance that somebody had been in that same area and had either attacked or assaulted several different women. 

ABRAMS:  Had you heard about—had you heard about that before? 

RENFRO:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  Here's Adolf Richardson, the lead investigator, talking about it on the—on the program. 


ADOLF RICHARDSON, LEADER INVESTIGATOR (through translator):  The 21st of May 2005, nine days before Natalee disappeared, a woman was harassed here at the beach, close to the fisherman's hut, by an unknown man. 

We don't know if that has anything to do with Natalee's disappearance, but it might be connected to it.  This is a sketch of that man. 


ABRAMS:  Julia, why hasn't this been talked about more widely before now? 

RENFRO:  Well, the—the police were actively investigating this, and, you know, checking locally, based on the description given by the woman who had been assaulted. 

And because Joran and the Kalpoe brothers were—were immediately under suspicion, I really think that—that this particular assault was kind of put on the back-burner, you know, compared to the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Julia Renfro, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

Joining me now once again is Natalee's mother, Beth Holloway Twitty. 

Beth, thanks for coming back on the program.  Appreciate it. 


ABRAMS:  All right. 

What—what do you make of this—this—this sexual assault, or alleged sexual assault, from nine days earlier? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Well, I have spoken with the young woman.  And she was attacked.  And it was near the fisherman's hut, but, you know, the two are just not connected, her case and this individual and Natalee.  I think what they're doing is just attaching this individual that they're needing to locate to the venue of the Dutch most wanted. 

And, you know, I don't think that there is—there is anything that he has to do with involvement of Natalee's disappearance. 

ABRAMS:  How—how do you know that? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Well, you know, I don't know that specifically, but I do know that they are using this venue to get the message out that they have an individual that they are looking for, because they have had a—a woman come forward, a tourist, that has been attacked by this man.  And he needs to be—he needs to be found. 

ABRAMS:  But, I mean, you know, typical police work would suggest, if there was someone, a tourist, who was attacked on the beach nine days earlier, people would starting saying, hey, you know, wait a second.  That really might be connected. 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Well, I think they might in a case where we didn't have three suspects that have lied repeatedly to authorities.  I mean, how many times have they lied to us now, Dan?  I mean, they're just endless.

So, I mean, we know these three suspects have involvement in Natalee's disappearance. 

ABRAMS:  So, do—do you think that this reenactment is—is not of much use? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  No.  I mean, you know, I was really thinking some

good things to come out of it, Dan.  And, I mean, now we're getting a

viewing audience of Bonaire and Curacao and Holland,  which is huge.  And,

you know, it's also being—you know, it's being shown in Dutch.  And I

believe, when it's aired in Aruba and Curacao and—and Bonaire, they're

doing the subtitles, the Papiamentu, and I think that's—you know, that's

·         that's great.  And it needs to be in those islands. 

ABRAMS:  Mmm-hmm.  Were you surprised to hear that they—they had received 60 tips? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  I had heard that late yesterday afternoon, and, I mean, that's encouraging to me. 

ABRAMS:  Yes. 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  I think that's, you know, a possibility.  All we need is just one, though, you know?

ABRAMS:  You didn't—you didn't have any problems with the way they reenacted this, did you? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  No, I really didn't, Dan.

I—I was really grateful to see that they had the reward money out there.  The had the correct amount.  And, also, another thing good coming out of it, it is allowing these citizens another tip line to call in, besides the Aruban police, if they don't feel comfortable doing that. 

So, I mean, there's some positive things, I think, that—that are coming about from it.

ABRAMS:  You know, because I remember, when this—when they initially talked about this, I'm thinking, you know, who on Aruba doesn't know anything about this case, or didn't know that—that Natalee was missing?  I mean, and—and I think most people on Aruba agreed with that.

But I guess, you know, something in this could—could jar a memory, could say, you know, wait a second, I guess I did see X, Y or Z, right? 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Well, and—and you're right. 

And I think the—the most beneficial thing that could come about is just having some new tip lines, like I said.  You know, I don't think it's a secret that some of the citizens in Aruba don't feel comfortable coming to the Aruban police with information.  So, maybe they will feel comfortable coming to the other tip lines.

ABRAMS:  Fair enough. 

Beth, thanks for coming back on the program.  Appreciate it. 

HOLLOWAY TWITTY:  Thank—thank you, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time here on MSNBC, what we were talking about.  That woman who said she was harassed on the beach joins Rita Cosby. 

Coming up, a jury decides if prisoners should get more than $1 million after he refused to clean up his cell?  So, who came to right this wrong?  A group of people who have been taking a lot of heat as of late, judges. 

It's my “Closing Argument.”

And a lot of e-mails from the rape investigation at Duke—one of you

heard through a neighbor, who heard on local radio, that I paid to help

cover it up—the sizzling details of why the feds are apparently after me

·         coming up. 

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose,” our effort to find missing offenders before they strike. 

We are in North Dakota.  Police are looking for a Kristopher Hayden.  He's 31, 6'2“, 185, was convicted of lewd conduct with a child, hasn't registered with address with the state.  If you have got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, 1-800-472-2185.

Be right back.


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument.”

As of late, judges have been taking a lot of heat, many members of Congress and the public demanding that the people, not judges, make certain decisions. 

Well, I'm not ashamed to say that there are many times I'm thrilled to

see judges step in and instill some insanity—some sanity to the—quote

·         “people.”

In addition to reducing some outlandish jury awards, judges sometimes just knock some sense into the system.  I was reminded of this by reading about the Wisconsin case of Berrell Freeman, an inmate at a maximum-security prison who is serving 58 years for a series of violent crimes. 

He refused to obey prison rules required for meals.  He wouldn't wear shorts or pants, didn't remove a sock from his head, and refused to clean up blood and feces smeared on his cell walls.  So, they refused to provide him with certain meals over a period of 27 months. 

Nurses and doctors visited to make sure he wasn't suffering any permanent injury, but he says he lost four 45 pounds.  Well, rather than removing the sock from his head and cleaning the feces off the wall, he sued, alleging cruel and unusual punishment.  Somehow, a jury awarded the troublemaker $1.25 million. 

Fortunately, the trial judge stepped in, rejected the outlandish verdict, and ruled for the defense.  Now the Court of Appeals based in Chicago has upheld that court's decision.  And, so, the guy gets what he deserves: nothing. 

They wrote, he was—quote—“the author of his deprivation, rather than the victim of punishment.”  So true.  And they even astutely pointed out, “No doubt he would have sued the defendants for battery had they ordered him force-fed.”

So, next time you hear someone making sweeping allegations against all judges, remember that, if we always leave things up to—quote—“the people,” people like Berrell Freeman will be a lot richer. 

Coming up, your e-mails on the Duke lacrosse rape investigation.  One of you says you heard that I was part of the cover-up and that the feds are after me—details up next.


ABRAMS:  I have had my say.  Now it's time for “Your Rebuttal.”

Yesterday, the Durham, North Carolina, DA said, despite the negative DNA tests results, the rape investigation involving three members of the Duke lacrosse team, it's not going to away.  He made the statements at a forum at North Carolina Central University, where the alleged victim is a student.

DA Nifong is up for reelection May 2.

And that troubles Robert Kinney: “It's time to refer to the DA's appearance at the NCCU campus to 'discuss' his case as a campaign visit, and not any part of a serious criminal complaint investigation.”

And Meditran from Bedford, Massachusetts, on the alleged victim's credibility: “Why would a woman self-inflict physical trauma to her anus and vaginal area and then go to an all-male party and accuse the men of rape?  Why would a woman have rough sex with another man and then go to an all-male party and, again, make an accusation of rape?”

Well, I'm not saying that she did, but there are reasons that can be posited. 

From Memphis, Tennessee, Jim Freeh responding to my comments that I thought the alleged victim's criminal record is not really relevant, because it doesn't involve making false accusations or lying. 

“Her prior criminal record does matter.  If one of the lacrosse players had a violent record, you would be driving that home—point to the ninth degree”—“the nth degree.”

That's true, because that is the type of crime that is accused here.  If she had made false allegations of rape before, I would be hitting that home to the nth degree as well. 

Benjamin in Virginia on the lack of DNA: “I was a male rape victim when I was younger.  And though I fought back, there was no DNA evidence, which surprised me most of all.  Please make sure this DNA evidence, or lack thereof, is not given more credence than it's worth.”

And, finally, Miriam Berkowitz in Oakland, California: “My neighbor tells me local radio station reports that wealthy alumni of Duke paid off authorities handling the DNA, and you are part of that group involved in the payoff.  Dan, the feds will nail you.”


ABRAMS:  The feds know, Miriam?  Did they find the guy with the DNA in  Belize at the beachside hotel, who was supposed to be hiding out? 


ABRAMS:  I wanted to do it on the cheap, but the wealthy alumni insisted we send them somewhere nice.  I knew that was going to get us busted. 

Please.  “My neighbor tells me the local radio station reported”? 

Your e-mails, ABRAMSREPORT—one word -- @MSNBC.com.  We go through them at the end of the show.

That does it for us tonight.  Remember, tomorrow, I will be live at the Duke campus, my alma mater.  I'm going to try and get to the bottom of this story, talk to—try and talk to both sides, talk to any of the people involved, maybe go to the house, look around, etcetera.  But we will be live from the campus tomorrow for a special report on this program.


I will see you from Durham tomorrow.



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The Abrams Report each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET


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