updated 8/17/2007 10:30:16 AM ET 2007-08-17T14:30:16

Guests: Darryl Ledbetter, Pete Hegseth, Andrew Horne, Prof. Charles Figley, Ed Miller

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  The clock is ticking for embattled NFL star Michael Vick.  The Falcons quarterback reportedly has 12 hours left to accept a plea deal or be facing additional dog fighting charges tomorrow.  Tonight, Vick‘s lawyers meeting with government attorneys to see if they can work out a deal, but there may be a split in Vick‘s camp over whether to cut one.  One co-defendant has already pled guilty, two others expected to do so tomorrow, and then they will reportedly testify that Vick was the financier of the entire operation.

Joining me now is Darryl Ledbetter with “The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.”  Darryl, thanks for taking the time.  All right.  What is the latest?  You expecting a deal?

DARRYL LEDBETTER, “ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION”:  Yes, we still fully expect a deal here.  We‘ve expected one for a couple days now.  The deadline is fast approaching.  But in these negotiations, things go down to the wire.  The best deal that he‘s going get is going to be available at the end of the day.  You never take the first offer that‘s on the table.

ABRAMS:  And Darryl, the deal would involve, what, at least one year behind bars?

LEDBETTER:  At least one year, We believe.  Could be additional time, but at least one year is what we‘re hearing at this time.

ABRAMS:  Now, are you also hearing about infighting among Vick‘s attorneys, that one of the attorneys may want to cut a deal, another saying, No, let‘s go to trial?

LEDBETTER:  We haven‘t reported that.  Some local stations here in Atlanta have.  It makes sense to me that, you know, one camp might be wanting to, you know, go ahead and go to trial.  They may think they could win the case.  They‘re facing insurmountable odds with three people having already pled guilty.  But then, you know, some other practical mind might say, Hey, you know, this is the best we got.  Let‘s take this deal, and you know, that‘s going to better serve our client here.

ABRAMS:  Darryl, are we expecting them to work through the night on this?

LEDBETTER:  No doubt.  There will definitely be some midnight oil being burned tonight up in the Virginia area.  You know, a lot‘s at stake.  Mr. Vick‘s already lost a lot of money, with all of his endorsers backing out on him.  His salary for this year is, you know, pretty much in jeopardy.  And then you don‘t know what the commissioner is going to do, and you know, how much of his future as a football player is in jeopardy also.

ABRAMS:  Darryl Ledbetter, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

LEDBETTER:  Sure.  No problem, Dan.  Thanks for having me.

ABRAMS:  Stay on top of the story.

Soldier suicides at a 26-year high.  The Army confirmed today 99 soldiers committed suicide while on active duty last year, 900 more tried to kill themselves, more than a quarter of the suicides soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The new report points to a significant relationship between suicide attempts and the number of days soldiers are deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan or neighboring countries.

My take.  It seems that everyone wants to talk about what we can do support the troops, but how can we say we‘re taking care of our troops when we have an increasing number of soldiers taking their own lives?  The Army claims (INAUDIBLE) their words, that repeated combat deployments in the middle of Iraq‘s civil war are putting more troops at risk for suicide.  Come on!  A team of Army mental health experts reported that because of the extended deployments, troops on the front lines needed a month off for every three months on the front lines.  The commanders rejected that recommendation.  Fine.  You can say that won‘t work, but you can‘t these extended deployments are having a horrible impact on our soldiers, can you?

Let‘s find out.  Joining me now, Colonel Andrew Horne, senior adviser for Votevets.org.  Andrew served in both Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom.  Professor Charles Figley—he is a psychologist and expert on combat stress.  And 1st Lieutenant Pete Hegseth served as an infantry platoon leader with the 101st Airborne in Iraq.  He‘s also executive director for Vetsforfreedom.org.

Thanks a lot for all of you for joining us.  Appreciate it.  Pete, let me start with you.  Do you disagree with what I‘m saying?

PETE HEGSETH, VETSFORFREEDOM.ORG:  I don‘t disagree that‘s is stressful for troops, but you need to compare this rate with the—with the American people at large.

ABRAMS:  Let‘s compare.

HEGSETH:  OK.

ABRAMS:  Let‘s put up—put up number one here.  Army suicide rate, 17.3 per 100,000.  National suicide rate, 13.4 per 100,000.

HEGSETH:  National suicide—but you have to look at what the military is made up of, primarily males between the age of 17 and 45.  If you take the numbers in 2006 of U.S. citizens stateside between the ages of 17 and 45, the rate is 21 out of 100,000.  It‘s 17 out of 100,000 in the military.

ABRAMS:  We‘re talking about 17 to 45 national, and the number we compared with 17 to 45.  But look, the point is it just seems to me to keep sort of deflecting the issue.  The fact is, it is increasing.  It is—it‘s got to—you know, you‘re going to—you‘re going to deny that it‘s because of the extended deployments?

HEGSETH:  I‘m not going to deny that that has an impact.

ABRAMS:  Sure.

HEGSETH:  But the extended deployments also give our troops an opportunity to put al Qaeda on the run and make a lot of the progress that has come about in the last couple months.  So troops also want a successful outcome there.  And if you look at the number, 99, which are all unfortunate and we all recognize that, that is one one hundredth of 1 percent of our military.  We‘ve got a professional military over there that‘s fighting, doing the best it can, and the rates are nowhere near anywhere higher than the average rates here domestically.  I mean, these troops are under stressful conditions.  The Army is preparing them well for those conditions, and they do everything they can to prevent these suicide rates and keep them low, and they‘re doing a pretty darn good job.

ABRAMS:  But Andrew Horne, it just seems to me they‘re being kind of dishonest about it, in the sense that they‘re saying, Oh, come on, it‘s not really because of these extended deployments.  Of course the extended deployments are having a major impact.

LT. COL. ANDREW HORNE, USMC (RET.), VOTEVETS.ORG:  Well, I mean, it‘s pretty obvious.  The studies show clearly that extended time in combat increases the stress on the individual, and repeatedly going back is going to do that.  You know, there‘s another aspect to this.  One of the clear issues that causes suicide is family strife.  So it‘s not just hard on the soldier or Marine when they deploy, it‘s very, very difficult on their families.  The go through—and a lot of these guys, particularly the real trigger pullers, they‘re very young, they have young families, young children, and they come home, they have broken families and those type of things.  It clearly is a problem.

But let me say this.  There is no doubt that our soldiers and Marines and their commanders are—you know, are facing a very difficult job and they‘re doing the best they can with it.  And I don‘t doubt at all that the commanders are doing what they can.  You know, but they‘re given a mission and they‘re trying to accomplish it with whatever they have.  And what this reflects is just one more failure of the civilian leadership to do what‘s necessary.  There have been requests by the DoD, you know, by the uniform branch for, you know, additional combat brigades, so they have more people to rotate in there.  You know, we talk about the issues about this...

ABRAMS:  All right.  But let me—I want to stay on this issue.  Dr.  Figley, let me ask you.  Do you think—what do you think of this recommendation that‘s saying they‘re serving too long without breaks?  And that‘s the easiest way to say it.  Do you think that this increased suicide rate is a reflection of that?

PROF. CHARLES FIGLEY, COMBAT STRESS EXPERT:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  Why?

FIGLEY:  Well, it all really goes back to the multiple deployments. 

And it‘s not just multiple, it‘s the length of deployment.  One real quick

the same study had this finding, and maybe the other panelists can kick in here to explain it.  The Marine Corps only is over there six months, sometimes seven months.  The Army that was studied was over there between 12 and 15 months.  They clearly showed that it wasn‘t just the Army, it was that the Marine Corps, because they had shorter deployments, had lower almost everything, including suicide, including combat stress reactions, including grief reactions and family difficulties.

HEGSETH:  There‘s no doubt that longer deployments make it difficult for soldiers and Marines.  But it‘s also—if you look at the data, of the 99 that killed themselves in 2006, only one quarter of them actually committed suicide in Iraq and Afghanistan.  You‘ve got 500,000 troops around the world doing different jobs, facing not only stress from deployments, but also stress with family, financial stress, the same kind of stresses that face you and I.  And the fact that this military prepares these guys to come home and deal with civilian life—they‘re doing a pretty darn good job.  And I went through it...

ABRAMS:  So you think it‘s irrelevant?  Do you think that these numbers that we‘re talking about, meaning the increase, the fact that they‘re saying it‘s the highest in 26 years, you‘re saying, You know what...

HEGSETH:  Look, I‘m not saying it‘s irrelevant, but it‘s not as statistically significant as the media‘s making it out to be.

FIGLEY:  Please let me...

HEGSETH:  In 2003, in 2004...

FIGLEY:  Let me speak to that...

HEGSETH:  ... it went down.  In 2005, it went up.  In 2006, it went up.  So it‘s gone up and down, but altogether, it has not gone up (INAUDIBLE)

ABRAMS:  Who wanted to respond to that?  Go ahead.

FIGLEY:  Look, I‘m a researcher.

ABRAMS:  Go ahead.

FIGLEY:  I‘m into statistics.  These data were produced by the Army.  These are the best people that could possibly study the Army and the Marine Corps.  They found a direct relationship between how much deployment—how little down time there was and all of these negative consequences.  Look, I agree completely that we have the very best military we‘ve ever had in our history and we‘ll continue to have it.  But they can go just so long without breaking down, like any of us.  And like any tool that we have, a car, if there isn‘t proper maintenance and attention, somebody suffers.

ABRAMS:  Let me ask Andrew Horne—and this is a—this is a controversial question that I‘m about to ask you, and I understand that.  But is it possible that this is also the result of lower standards when it comes to mental health for any of the recruiting?  Is it possible—because there have been a lot of articles and there‘s been a lot of discussion about the fact that recruiters may be imposing lower standards.  I‘m not talking intelligence.  I‘m not talking about educational background.  I‘m talking about strictly mental health.  Possible?

HORNE:  No, I don‘t believe that.

ABRAMS:  All right.

HORNE:  I mean, you know, I mean, the Marines‘ numbers are lower, but I don‘t believe it‘s an issue of recruiting pressures.  You know, something the doctor said a minute ago, I mean, the Marine Corps does deploy shorter time periods, and that‘s something historically, the Marine Corps learned with the Navy.  You know, that‘s—that kind of tracks closely how we deployed with ships.

FIGLEY:  Right.

HORNE:  And we also don‘t change it.  You know, there—when I rotated to Iraq, you know, they told us it was seven months, and it was seven months almost to the day.

ABRAMS:  So are you saying that the Army‘s kind of blowing it here, in the way that they‘ve been handling this...

(CROSSTALK)

HORNE:  All I can say is that the Marine Corps was very strict about it.  I remember commanders—you know, I‘m—and generals are telling me, like, We are going to stick to seven months because we know the kind of problems it can cause if you change it.

HEGSETH:  The Army‘s extended deployments do make it difficult, but the Army also is doing that because of mission requirements.  And the Army‘s making progress on the ground...

ABRAMS:  Well, but that‘s—that‘s the big debate.  That‘s the problem.  If it‘s required, right, for your argument to be right, then you have to accept the fact that major progress is being made, right?

HEGSETH:  And major progress is being made.

ABRAMS:  Well, no, there‘s a huge debate about it.  You‘re not going to actually say there‘s not a major debate about...

HEGSETH:  In Anbar province right now...

ABRAMS:  Look...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... the bottom line is, at the very least, there is—you know, we just had 300 people die in the last...

HEGSETH:  Well, that‘s—that‘s clearly desperation on the...

ABRAMS:  Well, yes, I...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Look, I‘m not—but I‘m not going to even take the other position, which is to say, Look, that means it‘s not working.

HEGSETH:  OK.

ABRAMS:  What I‘m saying to suggest that it‘s necessarily working to mean—therefore, your argument only works if it‘s working.

HEGSETH:  But it is working.

(CROSSTALK)

HEGSETH:  General Petraeus‘s counterinsurgency strategy is...

(CROSSTALK)

FIGLEY:  It‘s the wrong question.  The right question is, how do we know when we pressed—pushed our troops too hard...

ABRAMS:  Yes, I agree with you.

FIGLEY:  ... that it‘s going to have terrible consequences?  When will we know that?  No one‘s saying it.

ABRAMS:  All right...

(CROSSTALK)

HORNE:  And can we do this for 10 years?

ABRAMS:  Got to wrap it up.  Pete, Charles, Colonel, thanks a lot. 

Appreciate it.

Up next, new setbacks in the search for missing 4-year-old Madeleine McCann as police finally admit they have no idea what really happened to her.  This case was bungled from the start.  And later...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MARK KARR, FORMER SUSPECT IN JONBENET RAMSEY MURDER:  I was with

I was with JonBenet when she died.  Her death was an accident.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Remember him?  One year ago today, John Mark Karr was arrested after claiming he was involved in the death of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.  He‘s with us live, and we‘re going to see if his story has changed.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Disturbing new details tonight in the case of little Madeleine McCann, the 4-year-old British girl who disappeared from her resort room on vacation with her parents in Portugal back in May, Portuguese police now saying that Madeleine may be dead, but they didn‘t have time to tell her parents because they were, quote, “too busy,” according to the UK “Daily Mail”?  This as a judge is expected to announce the only official suspect in the case, Robert Murat, should be cleared.

In addition, police say blood found in Madeleine‘s room that they said might be hers isn‘t.  According to “The Guardian” newspaper, police sources quoted saying the blood probably belonged to a guy who stayed in the room after she disappeared.

My take.  The Portuguese police have been blowing this case since the beginning.  They knew this blood tested months after her disappearance wouldn‘t be the answer.  They‘re looking for anything that might deflect attention away from their early mistakes, like failing to preserve the crime scene, not conducting comprehensive searches of the area quickly enough.

The inspector leading the investigation offers this response.  “The legal system in Portugal is not equal to the British system.  It‘s not my fault.”

Joining me now, Ed Miller, correspondent for “America‘s Most Wanted,” Clint Van Zandt, former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst.  All right.  Clint, what is going on?

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER, MSNBC ANALYST:  Well, you know, when he says he doesn‘t have a clue, Dan, he means he doesn‘t have a clue not only where Madeleine is, but he doesn‘t have a clue how to conduct an investigation.  I mean, this ranks right up with JonBenet Ramsey and Natalee Holloway as to the bungling that takes place initially, the ineptitude, the inexperience—let‘s give them the benefit of the doubt—of conducting a kidnapping, a murder, a crime scene investigation.  You know, this is a train going down the tracks, Dan.  And if it misses the station and that station is full of evidence, you miss it.  And this train is way down the track right now.

ABRAMS:  All right.  So Ed Miller, what is the common belief right now. not among the Portuguese police but among everyone else, as to what really happened here?

ED MILLER, “AMERICA‘S MOST WANTED”:  Well, I spoke to somebody in depth at Scotland Yard, and he believes that, as painful as it may sound, what people are whispering about is that this was a kidnapping to order.  In other words, somebody ordered the kidnapping of a child, roughly a little blond little girl, and that they watched this family, they spotted this child, and therefore were able to take her at exactly the right moment.

ABRAMS:  Clint, do you buy that?

VAN ZANDT:  That‘s one theory, and that could be good or bad.  That could be a kidnapping order for a pedophile or a ring of pedophiles who want to abuse and ultimately kill this child, or it could be some loving family, which I‘m sure her parents hope, some loving family that can‘t have a child of their own and put in an order.

ABRAMS:  Well, you know, Clint...

VAN ZANDT:  And now they‘re nurturing this child.

ABRAMS:  Yes, Clint, you can‘t being be a loving family and put in an order to kidnap a child.

VAN ZANDT:  There‘s people that are a few blips off a bubble, Dan, that can do a lot of things.  And unfortunately, this has been done before.

ABRAMS:  All right, so Ed, lay out—what evidence do they have?  All right, it‘s now we turn out the blood evidence is nothing.  Is there anything else, any other eyewitnesses, anything that‘s credible that‘s out there at this point?

MILLER:  Well, no, actually, because, as you said, the whole thing was botched from the very beginning.  You know, I don‘t know if people understand that guests at the hotel were actually allowed to check out of the hotel before they even had a chance to talk to them.  They treated the investigation, especially at the very beginning, not like a kidnapped child but maybe like a woman who misplaced her purse.  Oh, maybe she wandered off to the playground.  Let‘s go look over there.

Again, there were no roadblocks.  There were no pictures of the child put at the airport.  So other than the one friend of the family, Ms. Tanner (ph), who saw a man running with a child down the walkway, kind of a blurry image, there is no other evidence.

ABRAMS:  Let me—let me—we‘ve been talking a lot about Madeleine‘s parents, and I want to—I want to load up a piece of sound from them, where, you know, they talk about the experience and about the authorities.  Here they are.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERRY MCCANN, MISSING 4-YEAR-OLD‘S FATHER:  We‘ve done a lot of things (INAUDIBLE) and then clearly, there‘s mixed signals from what could be done in terms of the North American (ph) experience.

KATE MCCANN, MISSING 4-YEAR-OLD‘S MOTHER:  (INAUDIBLE) are very different here.  And again, well ahead of the game.  They‘ve got (INAUDIBLE) you know, so within two hours of a child getting taken, a police report has to be filed, you know?  And then, you know, obviously, the response time in Europe has to be quicker.  It has to be quicker.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Clint, final word?  I got to wrap it up.

VAN ZANDT:  These are—it‘s the same police department that a couple of years ago beat a confession out of the woman, of a missing child.  The child has never been found yet.  They beat a confession out of her.  Three police officers have now been charged in that beating.  One of these officers is involved in this case right now, Dan.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Ed Miller, Clint Van Zandt, thanks a lot. 

Appreciate it.

VAN ZANDT:  Thank you.

MILLER:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up: A year ago tonight, John Mark Karr was arrested after claiming he was involved in the murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.  Now he‘s saying he wants a normal life.  He‘s even found a young wife.  He joins us live, coming up.

But first: Any child can tell you the difference between a triangle and a square, right?  That is, as long as they don‘t listen to CNN.  “Beat the Press” is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Time for tonight‘s “Beat the Press, our daily look back at the absurd and sometimes amusing perils of live TV.  First up: Two of my good friends in the business, Geraldo Rivera and former prosecutor Kimberly Guilfoyle, were debating on Fox last night when Geraldo said this:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS CHANNEL:  I‘m sitting next to the gang-banging prosecutor from Los Angeles...

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL:  Gang-banging?

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Geraldo, we all say things we don‘t mean.  She was a prosecutor, not a prostitute.  She‘s darn good on TV.

Next up: Larry King was able to drive through the gates of Graceland to visit the estate of another king, Elvis Presley, but look at the change in time of day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, “LARRY KING LIVE”:  Let‘s go.  We made it!  I‘m at Graceland!  Let‘s go in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Wow, that must have been a long driveway.  It was daylight when he drove through the gates, went beyond the bend, and by the time he arrived at the front, it was nighttime.  Maybe Elvis is alive.

Finally: You may have heard some news anchors, including Brian Williams and Anderson Cooper, have been appearing on “Sesame Street” to help kids learn.  Well, I‘m not sure my friend, Rick Sanchez, is going to make it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR:  You see Uima (ph) just above where we put that red triangle right there?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Red triangle?  Is that right?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  As you can see, a triangle has three sides.  One, two, three.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All four sides the same length.  One, two, three, four.  All four corners square as a box.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Nothing personal.  You like being a triangle.  I like being a square.  Everyone can‘t be the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Up next: It‘s been a year since John Mark Karr was arrested after claiming he was involved in the murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.  The charges were dropped because of lack of evidence, but he continues to say he is responsible.  Now Karr says he wants to move on, lead a normal life, get married.  We‘ll ask him if he wants to come clean about exactly what happened.  John Mark Karr joins us live after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN MARK KARR, FORMER SUSPECT IN JONBENET RAMSEY INVESTIGATION:  I

was with JonBenet when she died. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Were there other people with you? 

KARR:  No. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What happened to her? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What happened in the last few moments? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Were you playing with her? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What happened? 

KARR:  Her death was an accident. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  It was a year ago that John Mark Karr seemingly confessed to murdering JonBenet Ramsey.  Karr claimed he was there when 6-year-old JonBenet was beaten and strangled in the basement of her Colorado home.  But no DNA evidence ever linked Karr to the crime scene.  And two hours before a hearing where Karr would have been charged the murder, the Boulder County district attorney set him free. 

Now he‘s pleading for a normal life for himself and his new 23-year-old fiancee and her 3-year-old daughter, all the while still maintaining he is responsible for JonBenet‘s death.  Joining us now is John Mark Karr. 

Thank you very much for joining us.  We appreciate it.

KARR:  Thanks.

ABRAMS:  Before we talk about any of these details, let me just ask you, what are you doing now?  What do you do for work?  What are you up to?

KARR:  Well, I‘m not working right now.  It‘s only been a year.  I hope to work soon.  I spend my time with my fiancee.  I have been doing a little bit of writing, mostly in the form of a daily journal.  So my life is fairly low key.  I go out with my girlfriend, and we try to live a normal life.  And it‘s been difficult.  A lot of the year has been very difficult for me. 

ABRAMS:  Before we talk again in details, you know, we saw the picture of your fiancee, very beautiful woman. 

KARR:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Does she have any concerns?  I mean, she‘s been quoted, I see, saying he‘s not a child molester, he‘s a mild-mannered, nurturing, intelligent man.  I know she‘s watching now.  But she ever look at everything at happened and say to herself, “My goodness, how could I be with this man?” 

KARR:  No, she doesn‘t.  We love each other very much.  And we have a very open line of communication.  We‘ve talked a lot about things that have happened to me in the last year.  We do stay away from talking about the case, but we definitely talk about those kinds of issues.  And she‘s with me now, and I believe that she feels confident in her heart that she‘s with a person that she feels comfortable with. 

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you this.  I know you don‘t want to say exactly what you did or did not do with JonBenet, but is it fair to say that the prosecutors made a mistake, do you think, by setting you free? 

KARR:  Well, you know, I always respond to that by saying that was their choice.  That wasn‘t my choice; it was their choice.  I did cooperate with the arrest.  It was their choice to make, and I‘m not here to question that at this time. 

ABRAMS:  But you confessed, correct? 

KARR:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  And you confessed to the murder of JonBenet? 

KARR:  Well, you know, it‘s on the record.  You can go back and look at it.  I‘m not taking anything back that I said.  I think that it needs to be considered that there was a long—there were a long many years that I was talking to Michael Tracey.  There were recorded phone conversations that lasted for hours, unlike the statement that I made that it was just for a brief moment.  All of the information had already been acquired by law enforcement.  It was all in place the night before and for that amount of time that they were looking at me.  So my statement last year, I do stand by that. 

ABRAMS:  But they clearly don‘t believe you, right?  I mean, the impression that people left with after the D.A. came out, after they investigated the case, was that you were a nut who was trying to take sort of credit in a public way for a horrible murder. 

KARR:  You know, I was—just have to recount the 10 years, we‘re talking about 10 years.  And I don‘t think that any of those things that you just said makes any kind of sense.  I mean, I was living for five years out of the country.  My own immediate family did not know whether I was alive or dead. 

I talked to Michael Tracey under an assumed name without giving him my location.  I was making any effort to be covert and to not be discovered by anyone.  So, you know, if that made sense, you know, we could talk about it, but I don‘t see that it does.  So I don‘t understand that kind of response to me. 

ABRAMS:  Let me play a piece of sound from the Boulder D.A.  This is from back in August of 2006.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARY TRACY, BOULDER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  Was the DNA the lynchpin?  It was based on his story.  The DNA could be an artifact.  It isn‘t necessarily the killer‘s.  There‘s a probability that it‘s the killer‘s, but it could be something else.  But the way he told the story, it had to be his, and it‘s not.  So once that came back as not a match, he is not the killer. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  What do you make of that?  I mean, you‘re not the killer, and yet you‘re still saying, “I did it.” 

KARR:  You know, I‘m going to tell you something.  I don‘t think you were there that night.  And I think that it‘s really interesting to me that you can make such a claim as you‘re making.  You know, it‘s been said that I make claims.  What about your claim?

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Are you talking about me or the D.A.? 

KARR:  No, I‘m talking about you.  I‘m talking about anyone.  I‘m talking about the D.A.  I‘m talking about anyone. 

ABRAMS:  Right, I wasn‘t there that night.

KARR:  I know, but you just made that statement.  Just now you made that statement, and I‘m just merely responding to the fact that, you know, that‘s a strong statement that you‘re making, as well, and I think that‘s a claim, as well. 

ABRAMS:  Well, I don‘t know what the statement is that I made, but let me make a statement then.  You said that I wasn‘t there.  I definitely wasn‘t there that night. 

KARR:  You certainly weren‘t. 

ABRAMS:  No, that I wasn‘t.  And I mean, you‘re claiming to know that because you were there.  And you‘re still sort of claiming that you love JonBenet.  And let me read it again from a note, “There‘s not a day that passes I don‘t think of JonBenet.  There‘s no price that I could pay that would be worthy for the precious life she‘s lost.  If I could in some way atone for such an enormous sin, I would with all my heart.”  Again, you‘re claiming that you love JonBenet, that you knew JonBenet, that you were there, and yet no one believes you.

KARR:  Well, you know, that doesn‘t really matter to me.  I know what the truth is.  It doesn‘t matter if I‘m believed.

ABRAMS:  But why do you want to be believed about this? 

KARR:  I don‘t. 

ABRAMS:  Why would your fiancee want to think that you actually killed a 6-year-old girl? 

KARR:  You know, you just said something to the effect of, why do you want to be believed right after I said, “I don‘t care if I‘m believed.”  I don‘t understand that.  I just said to you, “I don‘t care if I‘m believed,” and then you said, “Why do you want to be believed?”  I don‘t understand that. 

ABRAMS:  Fine.  Forget it.  Let‘s assume you don‘t care if you‘re believed, and yet you claim that you killed JonBenet Ramsey.  Why would someone—I mean, how can you fiancee sit there with you and say, “Hey, no problem.  He‘s a nurturing guy.  He‘s nice.  No problem,” and you‘re admitting, supposedly, that you killed a 6-year-old girl? 

KARR:  Uh-huh.  Well, you know, we‘re both Christians.  I‘m not the best Christian in the world, but we do believe in forgiveness.  And, you know, I‘ve said often that forgiveness, if graciously granted, it would be graciously granted if it was extended to me, and I don‘t expect anything.  But it is the belief, a Christian belief, that all have sinned and all can be forgiven of those sins.

ABRAMS:  Can you talk a little bit more in detail about how you knew JonBenet?

KARR:  I can‘t because of the fact that you cannot know a child without other adults being involved.  And it‘s not to protect the guilty, but it‘s to protect the innocent that I can‘t discuss that, because there were other people who were involved in my knowing JonBenet.

ABRAMS:  OK, don‘t talk about them.  Just talk about yourself.  How did you know JonBenet?

KARR:  I can‘t discuss any of the specifics because it could link back to that people who I am protecting. 

ABRAMS:  And are these people glad that you‘re protecting them? 

KARR:  You know, that‘s not the issue.  The issue is that that‘s a decision that I‘m making to protect the innocent and not the guilty.  Just let me tell you this:  There‘s no one guilty that I would ever protect, but I would protect the innocent. 

ABRAMS:  You were a teacher in Thailand...

KARR:  Yes, I was.

ABRAMS:  ... and, you know, I guess you‘re going to be looking for work again.  I would assume—you would agree, would you not, that admitting that you killed a 6-year-old is not going to be helpful to a long-term teaching career?

KARR:  Uh-huh. 

ABRAMS:  Is that a fair characterization? 

KARR:  Yep, it‘s a fair characterization.  But also you have to go back to the year 1997 and on.  I worked for 10 years with children, with hundreds of children.  And if I had done anything inappropriately with any of those kids, it would have come up, because I‘ve had a lot of scrutiny since 2006.  There have been some news anchors who have put up toll-free numbers and said, “Call us if this man has done something inappropriate with your child,” and she received no calls.  So that‘s something that needs to be held into account.

ABRAMS:  Well, let me do this.  Let me take a break here, because I want to give you an opportunity to respond to some of your neighbors.  Your neighbors have made some comments about you.

KARR:  OK.  All right, I‘d really like that.

ABRAMS:  We‘ll take a quick break here.  When we come back, neighbors not too happy about him being there, but we‘ll give John Mark Karr an opportunity to respond to that, coming up after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  We‘re talking to John Mark Karr, the man who one year later is still maintaining that he was involved in the murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey.  Before the break, I said that I was going to talk to you about some of your neighbors. 

You said that you want to live a normal life.  You have a beautiful fiancee now.  And I want to ask a couple more questions about that in a minute, but let me read you some of the comments that your neighbors have made.  He said, “He creeps out my wife.  She‘s hyper vigilant.”  And then another neighbor says, “I think somehow it will be uncomfortable for him to stay.  His quality of life will not be so good.”  It sounds like you‘re not going to be the most popular guy on the block. 

KARR:  Yes, I understand that, and I accept it.  I mean, it‘s understandable, and I definitely accept it. 

ABRAMS:  Why do you think it‘s understandable? 

KARR:  It‘s understandable in light of who I am and the events of last summer.

ABRAMS:  And when you say who you are, you mean the fact that you murdered a child? 

KARR:  I think that it‘s held into account of what I said, and their response is something that I must understand.  I have a response to what they‘re saying.  It might be futile, but at least I think that it‘s worth saying, if you are going to give me a chance to do that.

ABRAMS:  Go ahead. 

KARR:  You know, I want my neighbors to feel safe.  I know in light of everything that it would be difficult for them, and I might not be worthy to even address them right now, but I want to be able to do that and say that, you know, I respect the neighborhood.  I‘ve always respected them.  I respect the children. 

This is not my first time to live in Atlanta.  And I have been there with my children.  I‘ve spent summers there with my kids, and the kids were safe then, and they‘re safe now.  And I just really want them to feel at ease, and I‘m very sorry that they don‘t. 

ABRAMS:  I‘ll tell you, I‘ll be totally honest with you, because we‘ve been trying to be straight with each other here.  If I lived near you, I would not feel safe having my children anywhere near you, and that‘s in part because you‘re claiming to have killed a 6-year-old girl.  It‘s also in part because, I guess in ‘94, you married a 13-year-old and, in ‘89, you married a 16-year-old.  I mean, you would admit that you are, at the very least, a pedophile, fair enough? 

KARR:  That is an absolute untrue statement.  And, you know, I‘m not -

I‘m not admitting to that.  Absolutely not.  Can we please go back to the fact that I told you that, from 1997 until the time of my arrest, I worked all over the world with children.  Can you explain to me...

ABRAMS:  That‘s scary.  That‘s really scary. 

KARR:  No, why is it scary? 

ABRAMS:  Because the idea of you being around schoolchildren scares the heck out of me. 

KARR:  You know what?  It might scare the heck out of you, but you look at the track record.  How many of those children were harmed? 

ABRAMS:  I have no idea, but I certainly wouldn‘t want to be one of those parents. 

KARR:  It never happened. 

ABRAMS:  That‘s what you‘re telling people.

KARR:  Well, it never happened.

ABRAMS:  Look, on the one hand, you‘re claiming that nothing happened there.  On the other hand, you‘re claiming you were involved in the killing of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey, and yet there‘s no evidence to support that.  Why shouldn‘t people draw a fair conclusion that you very well may be molesting children and that you didn‘t kill JonBenet Ramsey? 

KARR:  Well, you know what‘s so strange is it looks like there‘s no evidence that I‘ve molested those children that I worked with from 1997 until present.  You want to show me that evidence?  Because it doesn‘t exist.

ABRAMS:  What about marrying a 13-year-old? 

KARR:  Well, I was 19. 

ABRAMS:  OK, well, that‘s still, you know, against the law. 

KARR:  Well, I was 19.  I wasn‘t 40.  I was 19.

ABRAMS:  And how about the 16-year-old? 

KARR:  I was 24 at the time, and that was not illegal.  That was not an illegal marriage at all.  It was legal.  Listen to me, that was a legal marriage.  That was a legal marriage.  At the time, she was pregnant.  It is legal in the state of Georgia to marry a 16-year-old girl who is pregnant.  And I did—listen.  I went right by the law.  You‘re telling me how terrible it was.  If you‘re telling me how terrible it was to marry a 16-year-old girl, you need to talk to the state of Georgia and tell them to change those laws, because I went right by the law. 

ABRAMS:  The 13-year-old was illegal though, right? 

KARR:  Well, it was...

ABRAMS:  Yes, yes.

KARR:  ... but I was 19 at the time.  And, you know, you don‘t know the whole story about that.  You don‘t know the whole story about that.

ABRAMS:  No, I don‘t.  I don‘t know any of the story behind that.  And you know what?

KARR:  I understand.

ABRAMS:  And I don‘t know that I want to know that story.  But I‘ll ask you this—I‘ll ask you this—what about your current fiancee, 23 years old?  You know, you‘re both adults here.  How does her family feel about that?  I just can‘t imagine this beautiful woman bringing home John Mark Karr as her fiancee. 

KARR:  You‘ve got a really bad picture of me, don‘t you?

ABRAMS:  Oh, absolutely horrible.

KARR:  Well, all right.  That‘s fine.

ABRAMS:  I mean, you‘re telling me you killed a 6-year-old girl.  How can I not have a bad picture of you?

KARR:  How about letting me respond to what you said about bringing me home?

ABRAMS:  I‘m letting you every time.  Go ahead. 

KARR:  OK, well, I‘m going to respond to you saying she‘s bringing home John Mark Karr.  I have an excellent rapport with her mom, for instance.  When I see her mom, we always hug each other.  When we leave, we always say we love each other.  She usually kisses me on the cheek.  She is very fond of me.  She accepts me at face value.  And, you know, that‘s none of anybody‘s business.  That‘s just the way it is.  That‘s a fact.  And that‘s the response that I got when she brought me home to meet her mother.

ABRAMS:  Did she ask any questions about the fact that you claim to have killed a 6-year-old? 

KARR:  No, because she takes me at face value from this moment forward. 

ABRAMS:  But taking you at face value means that you‘re admitting that you killed a 6-year-old girl. 

KARR:  Well, you know, I‘m just trying to tell you, you asked the question, how does her mom respond or how did they respond when she brought me home, I‘m telling you how did they respond.  You know, I can‘t judge what their feelings are about me, but I‘m telling you how her mother responds, which is a very important person in her life. 

ABRAMS:  Can I ask you?  How did you meet your fiancee?  Do you mind if I ask? 

KARR:  Yes, it‘s OK.  Brooke watched the coverage, especially the part when the civic organization was trying to make me leave my father‘s home in Atlanta.  She felt that that was wrong.  And she just extended her sympathy to my family for what we were going through, not necessarily directly to me.  She just said, you know, it was just addressed generally to the Karr family.  It was a card.  And it had some Bible verses in it, and it was very comforting and supportive, and I contacted her to thank her for that card, and we continued to talk on the telephone. 

ABRAMS:  So you met her because you admitted to killing a 6-year-old?

KARR:  No.  Now, is that what I said? 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  You said...

KARR:  I said I met her...

ABRAMS:  ... because after they were trying to kick you out of your house.

KARR:  I said—hey.  I said, I met her because she showed me sympathy, that there was a civic organization who was trying to kick me out of my house.  I did not say what you just said.  That‘s why she sent the card, and then I responded to the card, because it was a nice card. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Wow.  I‘ve got tell you, you say forgiveness, and I will say that there‘s got to be a lot of forgiveness there on her part. 

KARR:  Yes.  Yes.

ABRAMS:  And you could understand—and, also, I mean, beyond—and this will be the last question.  Beyond the whole thing with JonBenet, you can understand, right?  I mean, you‘re out publicly admitting that you were involved in the death of a 6-year-old, and you married these very young girls, and at the very least you come off as kind of creepy. 

KARR:  Well, that‘s your opinion.  I can tell you one thing, I don‘t come off as kind of creepy to the people who love me. 

ABRAMS:  You get the final word on that.

KARR:  You know, that‘s the way it is.  All that matters to me are the people that love me and the people who I love, and they don‘t see me as creepy. 

ABRAMS:  John Mark Karr, thank you very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

KARR:  Thank you so much. 

ABRAMS:  Up next, breaking news from the Utah mine, where several ambulances are reportedly at the scene.  That‘s coming up.

And also, David Beckham scores his first goal in America, iPhone customers encounter their first problems with their phone bill, and a first daughter gets ready for a first time down the aisle.  We‘ll talk about that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

END   

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