updated 8/26/2004 10:27:07 AM ET 2004-08-26T14:27:07

Guest: Dean Johnson, Roy Black, Leslie Crocker Snyder, Jonathan Etra, Randy Hamud, Duane Chapman, Beth Smith

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, jurors hear new phone calls Scott Peterson made in the days and weeks after his wife, Laci, was reported missing. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  Prosecutors say Peterson is heard lying to his mother and Laci‘s mother, talking to a real estate agent about selling his house and laughing with a friend when an anchor is recovered in the marina where Laci‘s body was later found. 

Plus, investigators scour wreckage of two Russian planes that crashed just minutes apart.  Could it be anything other than terrorism?  And could it be connected to al Qaeda? 

And “The Dog” is in the house.  He hunts down fugitives around the world.  Now America‘s most notorious bounty hunter has a new mission, reality TV.  We talked with Duane “Dog” Chapman. 

The program about justice starts now.  

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First on the docket tonight, more secretly recorded phone calls of Scott Peterson.  But this time he‘s not talking just to girlfriend, Amber Frey, but allegedly lying to Laci‘s mother and even his own mother about where he was talking to them from.  His cell phone at one point, telling his mother he was in Fresno.  According to cell phone records, he was actually over 150 miles north, near the Berkeley Marina on the day police were scouring the bay and looking for his wife‘s body.  They later found it there. 

Edie Lambert from NBC affiliate KCRA is outside the courthouse.  So Edie, it sounds like I missed an important day there inside the courtroom. 

EDIE LAMBERT, KCRA CORRESPONDENT:  Well it really is one thing to hear Scott Peterson lying to his mistress, and you heard all of those calls, but it‘s another to hear him lying to his own mother.  The witness on the stand right now is a Modesto police investigator who was in charge of the wiretap.  And he brought the jury, first of all, back to January 11 of 2003.  You might remember investigators thought that they had found a body in the San Francisco Bay.  That turned out to be an anchor. 

Well, cell phone records show that Scott Peterson was near the Berkeley Marina, but he told his mom he was in Fresno.  That is 169 miles away.  As he gets the news that investigators pulled up an anchor he drives south, and when he‘s near Gilroy he tells both Laci‘s mom and his father that he‘s in Bakersfield, two separate calls.  That‘s 213 miles away. 

A little later he tells a friend he‘s in Buttonwillow.  Actually, he was in Hollister.  That‘s 181 miles away.  Other tapes the jury heard included Peterson asking a friend about selling his house.  That was just one month after Laci disappeared.  He also answered some questions from Laci‘s brother, Brent, about the concrete boat anchors.  He said he had made one more and used the rest of the concrete on his driveway. 

Also you may remember this one.  A store clerk in Washington thought that she had spotted Laci back in December of 2002.  Scott Peterson tells numerous people, including his mother, that he was in touch with that Washington Police Department.  But we heard a call days later where he tells the detective up in Washington, “I‘m glad I finally get a chance to talk to you.”

Also, prosecutors tried to further establish their timeline for the day that Laci was reported missing.  Specifically, a call that Scott Peterson made near his house checking his voice mail just 10 minutes before a neighbor found the Peterson‘s dog.  Of course, the implication from prosecutors, there just wasn‘t enough time for anyone else to have abducted Laci Peterson. 

Right now the court is in a break.  When they come back from the break, Mark Geragos will continue a cross-examination of that investigator, Steve Jacobson. 

I‘m Edie Lambert reporting live.  Dan, back to you. 

ABRAMS:  Edie Lambert, the source in Redwood City.  Thanks very much.  Appreciate it. 

“My Take”—this shows Scott Peterson is not just lying to bed Amber Frey, but for some reason he seems to feel the need to lie about a whole lot more.  Let‘s bring in our all-star legal team—criminal defense attorney, NBC analyst Roy Black, former New York State judge and NBC News analyst, Leslie Crocker Snyder, and in the courtroom today former San Mateo County prosecutor Dean Johnson. 

All right, before I get to the Roy-Leslie debate, Dean, just lay it out for us.  How significant—first actually, before I go to you, Dean, let me play a piece of sound.  This is Scott talking to Laci Peterson‘s mother.  We‘ve just got in this tape.  Again, not telling the truth. 

(BEGIN AUDIOTAPE)

SHARON ROCHA, LACI PETERSON‘S MOTHER:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) where are you headed now?

SCOTT PETERSON, ON TRIAL FOR MURDER:  Well I‘m actually down in Bakersfield. 

ROCHA:  Are you?  OK...

PETERSON:  Yes, I had to finish up some work stuff here today...

ROCHA:  OK.

PETERSON:  ... and I‘m—we‘re just getting done.  We‘re going to pass out fliers on the way home so...

ROCHA:  OK.

PETERSON:  ... I won‘t be home until 5:00 or so...

(END AUDIOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Seems this guy really can‘t tell the truth about just about anything.  Dean, significance?

DEAN JOHNSON, FMR. SAN MATEO COUNTY PROSECUTOR:  Well, I guess I have to say that the guy would lie to his own mother—but the significance of this, I think, is minimal.  We already get it.  This jury already gets that Scott Peterson is a liar.  Whether these lies are relevant or have anything to do with the case, I question.  Because he‘s lying about his location.  He‘s in Hollister rather than in Bakersfield.  He‘s in Gilroy rather than another location. 

We don‘t—those of us who live in the bay area don‘t really think of Gilroy or Hollister as being very close to the bay area.  So I‘m not sure that this jury, which is bay area natives, is going to see this as really, you know, any sort of significant lie.  And they already know the guy lies about just about everything...

ABRAMS:  Yes, but see the difference is...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... Roy Black, the difference is that we kept hearing oh, he‘s lying just because he‘s having an affair.  And, you know, men, they lie when they‘re having affairs.  Well you know it...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... seems that he lies about more than just affairs. 

ROY BLACK, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, Dan, I think you‘re stating the obvious.  There‘s no question that this man is, if not pathological...

ABRAMS:  I‘m good at that...

BLACK:  ... he certainly sounds—yes—he certainly sounds like a sociopath when it comes to anything like this.  So you know it certainly damages credibility beyond any chance to repair it.  Whether that proves him guilty of killing his wife is another matter. 

LESLIE CROCKER SNYDER, FORMER NY STATE JUDGE:  Roy, you‘re never going to say this guy is guilty unless they come up with a smoking gun.  You know that.  I mean look at what this man is doing.  He‘s over at the bay.  He knows that‘s where he dumped the bodies.  I mean that‘s my inference from all of the evidence.  I‘m not saying it‘s the jury‘s.  He‘s presumed innocent.  And he goes there and he doesn‘t want anyone to know.  And I think it comes out today that he goes there a number of times.  So...

BLACK:  Yes, but Leslie, what you‘re overlooking...

CROCKER SNYDER:  Wait.  Roy, Roy, this is consciousness of guilt.  Plus, he wants to sell the house...

ABRAMS:  We‘ll get to that in a minute...

CROCKER SNYDER:  ... missing person.

ABRAMS:  We‘ll get to the selling of the...

CROCKER SNYDER:  OK.

ABRAMS:  ... house in a minute.  But...

BLACK:  Leslie, you‘re right about one thing.  You‘re right about one thing.  I‘m not going to say he‘s guilty until they have some actual evidence of guilt, rather than attacking his credibility...

ABRAMS:  Well...

BLACK:  ... which is zero. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  How about this, Roy Black? 

CROCKER SNYDER:  Roy...

ABRAMS:  Today in court...

CROCKER SNYDER:  ... circumstantial evidence.

ABRAMS:  ... they played other tapes of Scott Peterson.  This time sort of joking around about them finding an anchor as they were searching for Laci‘s body.  He‘s talking to a friend, Heather Richardson, saying that he‘s in Buttonwillow, California.  Cell phone records show he‘s actually 181 miles away. 

Richardson:  Where are you? 

Peterson:  I‘m in Buttonwillow.  Did you hear on the news? 

No, what‘s up?

The object they‘ve been searching for and all this stuff that they had 88 people in the water for...

Yes.

Big ole boat anchor. 

Oh shut up (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

(UNINTELLIGIBLE) yes. 

Apparently you can tell on the tape that Scott is you know sort of joking around about—I mean you know Roy, this guy—all right let‘s assume for a minute Scott Peterson is innocent.  If he is innocent you have to admit that he did everything wrong, right? 

BLACK:  Well, certainly.  You know, this sounds horrible.  But you know what?  You say he‘s guilty when he‘s at home.  You say he‘s guilty when he‘s at the marina.  You say he‘s guilty when he‘s playing golf down in San Diego.  No matter where this guy goes somebody is going to say it proves that he‘s guilty...

CROCKER SNYDER:  Roy, Roy.  Nobody is saying he‘s guilty in a particular place.  What I think we‘re saying is that circumstantial evidence, a concept you don‘t like and you don‘t agree with, apparently, all of—each of these pieces is building up a stronger case. 

BLACK:  No Leslie...

CROCKER SNYDER:  It‘s not a smoking gun case.  It never will be. 

BLACK:  Leslie...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let me bring back...

BLACK:  I‘m not disagreeing with circumstantial evidence.  But you need evidence.  All you have is his statements that he‘s a liar...

CROCKER SNYDER:  They‘ve got evidence...

ABRAMS:  Dean Johnson...

BLACK:  Evidence of things like...

ABRAMS:  Dean Johnson...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Dean, we‘re going to be able to get in those laughing calls.  How much of joking does it seem, your impression, from those tapes?  Does Scott Peterson seem to be mocking the situation? 

JOHNSON:  No, he doesn‘t seem to be mocking the situation.  And remember, what the defense is going to say is that all of this behavior may point to a consciousness of guilt.  But it‘s equally consistent with somebody who is deeply concerned about the search for his wife.  You find anchors on the bottom of the bay.  People are saying it‘s a human body.  Somebody who has lost their wife would be relieved to find out it is an anchor and not his wife‘s body because...

ABRAMS:  Yes...

CROCKER SNYDER:  Oh, Dean, Dean...

JOHNSON:  ... that leaves hope.  That‘s a defense spin on it. 

CROCKER SNYDER:  Dean...

(CROSSTALK)

CROCKER SNYDER:  ... you can‘t—you don‘t accept that, though, do you?  I mean come on.  His whole tone of voice.  Everything about these tapes.  Here‘s a guy who couldn‘t care less about his kid.  He couldn‘t care less about his wife...

ABRAMS:  And he‘s not picking up...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... call waiting when the calls are coming through as if, you know, he‘s waiting to get that call that she‘s alive.  He‘s turning off his phone, not picking up the call waiting with Amber. 

Let me take a quick break here.  When we come back the question that Judge Snyder asked about a moment ago.  Scott Peterson trying to sell his home.  I‘ll tell you why I don‘t think I that it‘s incriminating at all. 

And the prosecution in the Kobe Bryant case goes on the offensive, calling into question DNA tests the defense performed on key evidence just two days before the case is set to begin. 

And investigators find the black boxes from both the Russian jets that crashed at almost the same time.  Is there any way these crashes are not the work of terrorists? 

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  I respond at the end of the show.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Less than a month after Laci is reported missing, Scott Peterson is trying to sell their home.  I‘ll tell you why I don‘t think that that particular piece of evidence is incriminating.  Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Welcome back.  More tapes in the Scott Peterson case being played in court as we speak secretly recorded.  Not all with Amber Frey, though.  Some of these on SOME other topics.  For example, Scott Peterson calling a friend and real estate agent as he tries to put his house on the market less than a month after Laci is reported missing.  But I‘ll tell you, I see this—I don‘t think it‘s incriminating.  I‘ll tell you why.  Here‘s what Peterson says.

He says I want to talk to you about, you know, about selling the house.

Yes.

I mean can I do that?  I don‘t know.

Yes, I believe you can.  I mean I don‘t see why you couldn‘t if that‘s what you want to do.

I mean I need to and we‘re not staying there away.

OK.

However this comes out you know...

OK.

... you know but definitely keep it quite obviously. 

Yes, of course.  What - when did you want to look at doing it? 

I mean I‘d like to put it on the market right now.

OK.

Here‘s the key line.  I mean there‘s no way if Laci comes back that we‘re going to stay there.

I don‘t know.  Dean Johnson, that doesn‘t sound so incriminating to me.

JOHNSON:  Well, that doesn‘t.  But I think you‘ve got to put it in context.  You know Geragos said in his opening statement that Scott Peterson was not about to chuck this idyllic life that he had with Laci.  But you look at the fact that he‘s selling her car, he‘s trying to sell the house, he‘s gone off and he started renting porno movies, and you know he‘s on the phone with Amber Frey.  It looks like he sat about chucking this life just about as fast as he could. 

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know.  Roy.

BLACK:  Well, Dan, I think of all the things, the house disturbs me more than all the rest of them. 

ABRAMS:  Really? 

BLACK:  Because - yes, I don‘t know...

ABRAMS:  He‘s saying Laci...

BLACK:  ... just something.

ABRAMS:  I‘ll give you the explanation.  He‘s going to say when Laci comes home, he‘s going to argue, after all this media attention, all this bad vibes, after everything that happened, that‘s the last place I want to be. 

BLACK:  Well, that‘s true. 

CROCKER SNYDER:  Oh come on...

BLACK:  But on the other hand, that‘s where you‘re living with your wife, you know, who‘s now missing.  It just seems you know a little inconsistent to me trying to sell that one place that you had together...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

BLACK:  ... before she comes back. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me play...

CROCKER SNYDER:  ... and Dan...

ABRAMS:  I‘m going to—let me let you respond to this...

CROCKER SNYDER:  Dan...

ABRAMS:  Let me just bring in another piece of sound, here, Leslie.  We just got this in.  This is Scott Peterson talking with his friend about them searching in the bay and not as it turns out finding Laci‘s body.  And apparently Scott is sort of joking about it.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN AUDIOTAPE)

PETERSON:  Did you see the sweet news report on (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that they‘re searching that bay for Laci?

WEAVER:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I saw it yesterday.

PETERSON:  Yes.  Did you hear the latest now?

WEAVER:  No, I did not.

PETERSON:  The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) they just called me up, the police chief did, and said hey, you know we‘ve found an anchor.

WEAVER:  An anchor?

PETERSON:  Yes, they had all this sophisticated sonar stuff out there and...

WEAVER:  Oh (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

PETERSON: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) thought was a body...

WEAVER:  Yes.

PETERSON:  ... divers out there today.

WEAVER:  Oh my God.

PETERSON:  And they found this anchor.

WEAVER:  Sweet.  That‘s nice.

PETERSON:  Yes.

(END AUDIOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Sweet, sweet, dude.  I mean—just—I have to say I find this stuff to be more incriminating than the idea that he‘s trying to sell the house.  I don‘t know, Leslie, go ahead.  You wanted to make a point. 

CROCKER SNYDER:  Well, I think this shows that he‘s a sick son of a you know what and we already knew that.  He‘s a sociopathic liar.  We already knew that.  And it certainly shows he doesn‘t give a damn about his wife or child.  And that‘s incriminating in terms of his state of mind and the whole picture.  But here‘s his wife in terms of the house.  She is still very much a missing person and his kid, and he decides he‘s going to sell the house.  And on one of the tapes, as I understand it, he says furniture and all.  I mean he‘s not going to consult his wife if she comes back.  All of this adds up to just one picture.  He knows she‘s not coming back and he knows why she‘s not coming back because he made certain she‘s never coming back. 

ABRAMS:  You made a...

CROCKER SNYDER:  That‘s my...

ABRAMS:  Let me just—let me read from the full screen.  You actually made the point about the furnished and I do think that is the stronger point. 

Peterson says can I sell it furnished?

The real estate agent says, yes, you can. 

OK.  Is that what you want to do? 

I don‘t know.  I don‘t know.  Yes, I mean you know it is a little weird that he‘s going to sell the house furnished without consulting with Laci who‘s supposedly still alive. 

Dean Johnson, you tell me that Detective Jacobson—Investigator Jacobson is getting creamed on investigation? 

JOHNSON:  Yes, you know I cringed when I saw Detective Jacobson arrive right after Amber Frey because I knew what was coming.  And sure enough, the cross-examination going on just before the break.  Detective Jacobson, isn‘t it a fact that you said in a sworn affidavit for these wiretaps that you thought Amber Frey was lying, she wasn‘t being truthful to the police.  You said that she may be a co-conspirator and that there was more than one person involved in this murder? 

Jacobson acknowledging all of that.  And then Geragos going through the timing and said look, you say now on the stand that you‘ve changed your mind.  When did you change your mind?  Well, just last week when you brought some tapes to our attention. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  So, they‘re again suggesting maybe Amber Frey was involved.  But I—it doesn‘t change what Scott Peterson said on those tapes.  Whatever they thought at the time. 

All right, Dean Johnson, thanks...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... I‘ve got to wrap it up.  Because I want us to have some time to talk about our next topic with Roy and Leslie.

CROCKER SNYDER:  OK.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, just two days before jury selection gets going in the Kobe Bryant case.  Two days it‘s starting.  Prosecutors say key DNA evidence may have been contaminated and the defense experts may have twisted some of the results.  What could it mean? 

Later, “The Dog” is in the house.  He tracks down criminals around the world.  But now bounty hunter Duane “Dog” Chapman has, shocker, his own reality show.  We talk with “Dog”...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Come on.  I‘m a Chapman, the original “Dog”.  You‘re going back to Oklahoma, son.  You‘re going to a motel without a window. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think it‘s a room without a view.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  OK, everybody in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  With the Kobe Bryant trial set to begin in just two days, a last-minute filing coming from the prosecution.  They say that DNA evidence tested by the defense may have been contaminated.  And that some of the data from the defense experts appears to have been altered or changed. 

Quote—“The People have learned that data from Technical Associates, Inc. appears to have been whited out or otherwise manipulated.  And the prosecution has discovered that contamination is present in samples, which should show negative results in i.e., control blanks.”

All right.  Prosecutors want Kobe Bryant‘s team to bring—quote—“evidence of the reliability of their testing procedure and data to tomorrow‘s hearing. 

“My Take”—DNA evidence is at the heart of the defense claim that the young woman had sex with someone else after Kobe Bryant before her rape exam, and while prosecutors say they‘re not asking for a delay, of course, that‘s exactly what they want.  If there is clear evidence of contamination then the trial should be delayed.  I have to tell you I‘m usually very suspicious of the evidence is contaminated arguments. 

Let‘s bring back our legal team.  Judge Snyder, what do you make of it? 

CROCKER SNYDER:  Well first of all, I don‘t think they are asking for a delay.  Because a judge is capable of doing more than one thing at a time, actually.  And we have hearings all the time while jury selection is going on or at various points when jury selection might have to stop because there are not enough prospective jurors or the jurors need a break.  So I don‘t think that‘s unusual.  You can have two things going on at once.  And I think they‘re doing exactly what any decent, if they are, prosecution team should do, which is questioning scientific results...

ABRAMS:  Why just now, though?  Why now?  Why...

CROCKER SNYDER:  Well, because they claim, from what I understand happened today, that they did not get all of the information and reports that they were supposed to from the defense.  Obviously, I don‘t know whether that‘s true or not.  And so they couldn‘t make this motion earlier.  I don‘t know.  But all I know is that this is critical to both sides and they should be doing this.  They should be questioning it and the judge should be having a hearing...

ABRAMS:  Go ahead Roy.

CROCKER SNYDER:  ... if they have a good faith basis. 

ABRAMS:  Roy.

BLACK:  Dan, I‘ve read the...

CROCKER SNYDER:  Roy, you‘re going to say it‘s desperate. 

BLACK:  No.  Dan, I have read the testimony of Elizabeth Johnson.  I can assure you, if I was the prosecutor and read the chilling words in those transcripts about this young woman, I would do anything I could to try to exclude this testimony.  I don‘t blame them for filing motions.  I would do anything within my power to try to keep this out of the trial. 

ABRAMS:  She‘s the one who says...

CROCKER SNYDER:  Well wait a minute Roy...

ABRAMS:  ... I just want to say who she is Leslie and then I‘ll let you respond.  She‘s the one who says that she believes, in her expert opinion, this young woman likely had sex with someone after Kobe Bryant, before the rape exam, based on DNA evidence.  Go ahead Leslie. 

CROCKER SNYDER:  But...

BLACK:  Yes, but there‘s a lot more...

CROCKER SNYDER:  ... Roy...

BLACK:  ... detail than that, Dan, in those transcripts. 

ABRAMS:  Yes. 

CROCKER SNYDER:  Yes, but, Roy, what you‘re saying is that the prosecutor is doing a desperate, last-ditch move without any good faith basis.  If he‘s doing that, he deserves to be censured and maybe disbarred.  I don‘t believe that‘s the case.  Prosecutors generally, I think, usually make this kind of motion, if they at least have some claim to a good faith basis.  Otherwise, they‘re in trouble. 

ABRAMS:  Leslie, it‘s always the defense...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... but it‘s usually the defense make—what makes me nervous about this is it‘s always the defense saying we can‘t rely on the DNA evidence.  It was contaminated.  It was this.  And now you‘ve got the prosecutors saying the very same thing. 

CROCKER SNYDER:  Well...

ABRAMS:  It just seems like in every case there‘s always someone who‘s saying you can‘t rely on the DNA evidence. 

CROCKER SNYDER:  Well, they‘re saying they have specific reasons to say it.  I don‘t know if those reasons are valid.  Neither do you.  But Dan, you don‘t like this case.  You don‘t want this case to go forward.  Admit it. 

ABRAMS:  Look, I‘m saying if I was advising the prosecutors, I would tell them absolutely.  I‘ve said it many times on this program that this case should not go forward.  That if they‘re smart, they‘ll recognize that they‘ve got a very difficult road to hoe here and that instead, that she would have a better shot in a civil case.  I‘m just saying...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... that based on evaluating the evidence...

CROCKER SNYDER:  Wait a minute...

ABRAMS:  ... and being at the preliminary hearing. 

CROCKER SNYDER:  I‘d like...

BLACK:  Well Dan, let me just say...

CROCKER SNYDER:  ... to make a comment about that.  They may—wait.  I just want to say one thing.  The prosecution may lose this case.  But this woman says she was raped.  Whether the jury believes it...

ABRAMS:  I‘m not making judgment on that.

CROCKER SNYDER:  ... is a different issue.  She‘s entitled to her day in court... 

ABRAMS:  No one is saying she‘s not entitled to her day in court. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  No one is saying she‘s not entitled to her day in court.  The question is what happens after she gets her day in court and in all likelihood this jury comes back with a not guilty verdict.  What happens then? 

CROCKER SNYDER:  That‘s probable.  I agree. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  We take—I‘ve got to break it off Roy Black, Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder. 

Coming up...

CROCKER SNYDER:  Bye Roy. 

ABRAMS:  ... hidden cameras suggest an American lawyer helped a convicted terrorist get his message out to followers.  We‘ve got the tape. 

And the latest on the story you heard here first last night.  Two Russian jets crashed within minutes.  Authorities still don‘t know what happened.  But they didn‘t collide and with timing like that in flight, is there any way it wasn‘t terrorism?

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  I‘ll go through them at the end of the show. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, two Russian planes crash within three minutes of each other.  Russian authorities still don‘t know what happened.  What are the odds that two planes from the same airport crash in separate locations within three minutes of one another based on something other than foul play?  It‘s a story you heard first here last night.  We‘ll have the latest.  First the headlines. 

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We are back.  New York jurors have been viewing secret prison surveillance tapes of a radical New York lawyer.  Lynne Stewart is accused of illegally briefing one of her clients, a convicted terrorist, talking in a manner that concealed some of his conversations from authorities and helping him communicate with his followers on the outside. 

WNBC‘s Jonathan Dienst has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

JONATHAN DIENST, WNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Attorney Lynne Stewart told the government she was visiting terror leader Sheikh Rahman to plot legal strategy. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Sheikh Omar...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... my very most favorite person. 

DIENST:  Prosecutors say the Sheikh, who was convicted of plotting to blow up New York City landmarks and who had been banned from communicating with the outside world because there remains a terror threat was being briefed.  Investigators say his lawyer and translator were letting the Sheikh know what terrorists were doing overseas to try to secure his freedom and that of terrorist Ramzi Yousef. 

TRANSLATOR:  I am telling the Sheikh about the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines and they took hostages.  And “The New York Times” never said that they wanted to free the Sheikh.

SHEIKH:  And Ramzi Yousef.

TRANSLATOR:  But their demand is to free the Sheikh and Ramzi Yousef.

STEWART:  Good for them.  I didn‘t read that either.

DIENST:  Outside court this week, Stewart says the tapes are no big deal. 

LYNNE STEWART, CHARGED WITH AIDING TERROR LEADER:  There‘s not a word of terrorism, not a word of violence, kill, violent, they‘re never a part of any of these conversations. 

DIENST:  Stewart didn‘t know that in this Minnesota prison the FBI had wired the room.  As the Sheikh snacked on chocolate, guards weren‘t the only ones, as she thought, looking in. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Lynne, look at me (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I am talking to you...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I am making notes...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.

TRANSLATOR:  I don‘t know sir.  They are standing very close to the glass.

DIENST:  Were they trying to hide something?  Investigators say it was an act to allow Stewart‘s translator to read messages, including one from this man, Rafi Ahmed Taha (ph), a bin Laden associate.  Other letters were passed on as well including, the government says, a message from Stewart‘s co-defendant, Ahmed Sattar.  Investigators say the letter posed this question.  Did the Sheikh want terror attacks to resume in Egypt after the tourist slaughter of 1997?

Prosecutors say after the prison meeting Stewart announced to the media that the Sheikh approved of more violence in Egypt.  Stewart only admits discussing non-terror-related information with the Sheikh. 

STEWART:  We have been reading him newspapers forever.  Now the government suddenly in this case says we weren‘t supposed to be reading him newspapers. 

DIENST:  Then why, prosecutors asked, do Stewart and the translator appear intent on fooling the guards?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

STEWART:  ... Academy Award for it.

DIENST (on camera):  Stewart says she will take the stand in her trial to explain to jurors while reading letters and newspapers may have been technical violations, she claims they were not criminal acts. 

For today in New York, I‘m Jonathan Dienst. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Thanks Jonathan. 

Now Lynne Stewart was initially charged with material support for terrorists and unlawful communications, passing messages between the Sheikh and his Egyptian terror group.  Those material support charges later dismissed is unconstitutionally vague.  But then came another indictment.  Stewart and her co-defendant is charged again providing material support.  This time, new theory, by trying to mask some of the Sheikh‘s statements, she and Rahman‘s translator were concealing him as he took part in a conspiracy to kill and kidnap people outside the United States. 

“My Take”—this is not about destroying the attorney-client privilege, as some defense attorneys have claimed.  She signed an agreement promising not to do what she‘s accused of.  Lawyers are not above the law, particularly when it comes to terrorism.  She‘s violating that agreement and effectively passing along messages for someone as dangerous as her client, then she should be prosecuted. 

Joining us now is Randy Hamud, a criminal defense attorney who has represented detainees suspected of terrorism, and Jonathan Etra is a former assistant United States attorney for the southern district of New York. 

All right, so Randy, is your gripe here with the charge at all, or is it with the evidence that they have? 

RANDY HAMUD, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  I think the charge relative to terrorism is a real stretch.  And as far as the special administrative measures that they depict as being the letter of the law, those are what I call silly administrative measures that often interfere with the ability of the client to interface with a lawyer in a prison scenario like that. 

And I think the fundamental problem I have with all of this is why are we able to view confidential conversations between an attorney and her client when there was, in fact, no probable cause warrant issued by any court accusing them of possibly committing a crime. 

ABRAMS:  All right.

HAMUD:  Remember, this was a secret warrant from a secret court where you fall well below the Fourth Amendment search and seizure requirements. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

HAMUD:  This is the problem here...

ABRAMS:  Yes...

HAMUD:  The Fourth Amendment...

ABRAMS:  ... you‘re not going to let a lot of sympathy on the constitutional arguments.  That‘s already done.

HAMUD:  That‘s where...

(CROSSTALK)

HAMUD:  ... a constitutional court facing a constitutional... 

ABRAMS:  Jonathan, go ahead with your response.

JONATHAN ETRA, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY:  Yes.  I mean you can‘t say it‘s a stretch on terrorism.  What Lynne Stewart was doing is she was a go-between between a terrorist group in Egypt and their leader in jail in the United States.  If anyone else did it, it would be a clear black and white case of terrorism.  The fact that it‘s a lawyer, as you said in your tape, Dan, it doesn‘t make a difference.  The license to practice law is not a license to commit crimes. 

ABRAMS:  Why are we seeing it, Jonathan, on the videotape?  I mean we are able to watch this conversation.  How did that happen? 

ETRA:  Well it happened, you know, there is a special court set up for terrorism and intelligence-related issues, and it‘s been set up by the fizer (ph) court and it‘s not exactly the same standard as is the case with regular wiretaps.  It‘s a system that‘s been in place for a long time.  It‘s been deemed constitutional every single time.  If she wants to challenge it on appeal, she can go ahead and do it.

ABRAMS:  yes.

ETRA:  It‘s not going to work.

ABRAMS:  But Randy, see if she doesn‘t like the rules, then don‘t sign the agreement. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Exactly. 

ABRAMS:  If she can‘t abide by the rules when it comes to terror suspects, then tell her to get another job. 

HAMUD:  Well, you could tell her basically to abide by the rules or don‘t come back.  The Clinton administration was aware of these situations relative to her and they slapped her on the wrist.  The Bush administration indicted her for terrorism, and it‘s too much of a stretch.  It‘s not terrorism; it‘s a zealous lawyer...

ABRAMS:  So forget about what they charged her with. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Forget about what they charged her with because the bottom line is a judge has now approved certain charges, thrown out other charges.  Fine.  Forget about the ones that the court has thrown out.  The bottom line is she‘s now on trial and her defense is going to be what, that she says on the tape there, she said, well, I never used the word “kill.”  What does that have to do with anything? 

HAMUD:  The defense is going to be she wasn‘t engaged in any support for terrorism.  That‘s the bottom line.  Are we talking about a silly violation of a silly government special administrative measure?  Are we talking about advocating and supporting terrorism?  I don‘t think you can make the next stretch to the terrorism level.  The government would like to deal with a lot of people and it overreaches all the time. 

ABRAMS:  Let me...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... let me play another piece of sound from the secretly recorded tapes. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRANSLATOR:  Lynne, look at me and talk a little bit because...

STEWART:  I am talking to you.  I am making notes...

SHEIKH:  Why?

TRANSLATOR:  I don‘t know sir.  They are standing very close...

STEWART:  Yes.

TRANSLATOR:  ... to the glass.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  They‘re standing very close to the glass, Randy.  What is she worried about? 

HAMUD:  What is she worried about? 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  She‘s talking about how close they‘re standing...

HAMUD:  When I found out that they‘re surveilling lawyers in prisons talking to client, I snuggle up to my clients trying to whisper into their ears because I‘m worried about what they might want to hear and they‘re—and deliver it to the prosecutors and make my job more difficult.

ABRAMS:  Yes.

HAMUD:  So what she‘s worried about is trying to interface with her lawyer without the government eavesdropping...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

HAMUD:  ... on it and in fact, the government was eavesdropping...

ABRAMS:  Jonathan, very quickly.

ETRA:  You know there is an important point here.  The attorney/client privilege protects conversations about past crimes.  Anyone who went to law school knows this.  It doesn‘t protect lawyers who get involved with crimes and talk about future crimes with their clients.  It‘s illegal for anyone to do it.  It‘s illegal for a lawyer to do it. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  We‘ve got to wrap it up.  Jonathan and Randy Hamud, thanks very much.  Appreciate it.

ETRA:  Thank you Dan.

HAMUD:  Thank you so much for having me on the show Dan.  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Now to what sure sounds like another terror story.  Twin crashes of planes that left from the same Moscow area airport, hundreds of miles but less than three minutes apart.  They crashed, killing a total of 89 passengers and crew.  Witnesses say one flight, a TU-154 plane exploded in midair before it went down near the town of Tula. 

Russian authorities say someone on that plane activated a hijack alarm before the crash.  As to the second flight, a TU-134, it crashed without warning leaving a debris trail scattered for miles near the town of Rostov-on-Don.  Both planes departed from Moscow‘s main international airport, considered the most modern and secure civil airport in that country.  A spokesman for Russia‘s Federal Security Service says the plane‘s flight recorders, so-called black boxes have been found and that a preliminary investigation shows terrorism may not be to blame. 

Although, there are plenty of people in Russia and here who think seems like that‘s going to be hard to believe.  Terror attacks that are simultaneous or nearly so are one of the signatures of al Qaeda and Russia‘s already suffered more than a decade of terrorist‘s acts from Chechen terrorists, though this time the separatists deny they‘re involved. 

“My Take”—we looked back through decades of crash records.  We found that all nearly or simultaneous crashes were caused by actual collisions.  These planes were nowhere near one another.  It seems highly likely these were acts of terrorism.

Here with me now MSNBC analyst, Steve Emerson.  Steve, what do you make of it?

STEVE EMERSON, MSNBC TERRORISM EXPERT:  It‘s an enigma.  Dan, the fact is it‘s very unlikely that spontaneous combustion caused the result, you know caused these two planes to crash or explode.  All we have is fragmentary information.  According to eyewitnesses, one plane may have exploded in midair.  They don‘t know about the other, still don‘t know about the flight recorders.  They really need to find out this information before making a conclusion.  But the odds of this being sort of innocent are not very great. 

ABRAMS:  Let me do the timeline here -- 9:35 p.m., TU-154 with 46 passengers leaves Moscow; 10:15 p.m., the TU-134 with 43 passengers leaves the same airport; 10:55, the 154 activates distress signal; 10:56, the other one disappears from the radar screen and crashes; 10:59, the 154 crashes as well.

But you know, Steve, you and I talked yesterday a lot about this issue of the Chechen terrorists.  Is there a distinction between the terrorists and the government?  I mean because the officials—Chechnya separatists spokesperson, Farouq Tubulat—this is number one—said the following. 

Our government has nothing to do with terrorist attacks.  Our attacks only target the military.  This is part of the Russian propaganda plan to besmirch the struggle of the Chechen people.

EMERSON:  It‘s an absolute lie to say that they target only the military, because the attacks against the rock concerts, the apartment buildings and then the theater in the last three years by the Chechen—quote—“separatists” have targeted civilians.  So, I would discount what he said. 

The question is really who did it, and really, how did they do it.  Because, as you noted, it‘s a very modern airport.  To slip bombs aboard these planes would be very difficult, but not inconceivable.  The Chechens are definitely at the forefront of pushing the envelope on terrorist tactics around the world.  They did all those attacks I just cited.  They don‘t fit any profile and they‘re always looking for the weakest point in Russian security. 

ABRAMS:  What‘s the connection between the Chechens and al Qaeda? 

EMERSON:  Chechnya is basically a recruitment ground for al Qaeda...

ABRAMS:  For extortion, isn‘t it?  I mean this is where it all—the anger started flowing early on. 

EMERSON:  Oh, you could see it in the 1980‘s, the Jihad and Chechnya was really where bin Laden began recruiting a lot of people.  That‘s where they train a lot of people before they went to Afghanistan.  So clearly, that‘s also where a lot of the charitable conduits were raising money extensively for humanitarian, but going for military operations.  Al Qaeda and the Chechen rebels, Islamic terrorists, are one and the same. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  We shall follow this story.  But I think there‘s a lot more to this story than we are hearing about right now.  First, remember the Russian authorities saying this is—they don‘t believe it‘s terrorism.  We‘ll see.  Steve Emerson, thanks a lot.

Coming up, “The Dog” is back in the house.  Our favorite bounty hunter who tracked down Max Factor heir Andrew Luster is moving on to other assignments.  He joins us next. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The kids are my whole life.  Sometimes I think about them before I kick the door in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Some people say, oh, you‘re a bounty hunter dog.  I say no, I‘m the bounty hunter, “Dog”. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Duane “Dog” Chapman.  Now one of the most famous bounty hunters in the world.  In 27 years he says he‘s captured more than 6,000 fugitives, including Atlanta serial murderer Wayne Williams.  Maybe his most famous capture, convicted rapist Max Factor heir Andrew Luster last year in Mexico.  He was even sent to jail after catching Luster on the streets of Porta Viarta.  Mexican authorities say he was interfering with the duties of police by hunting down Luster.

He says he was only doing what they couldn‘t do on their own.  Now America‘s most recognized bounty hunter and a favorite guest on this program is starring in a reality TV show about his life, his family and his work.  The show is called “Dog, The Bounty Hunter”, good name, and the first two episodes premiere on A & E next Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Joining me now is Duane “Dog” Chapman and his wife and partner Beth Smith, who also co-stars on the show.  Good to see both of you again.  Thanks for coming back. 

DUANE “DOG” CHAPMAN, BOUNTY HUNTER:  Thank you for having us back.

BETH SMITH, “DOG, THE BOUNTY HUNTER”:  Hi Dan.  Thanks a lot.

CHAPMAN:  Good to see you, brother, aloha. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Aloha to you.  Question one:  “Dog”, last time we saw you, you were fresh out of the big house in Mexico.  Whatever happened with that? 

CHAPMAN:  Well, it‘s still like pending.  But it‘s a misdemeanor crime, and the judge said (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the next time you come down here to do this, if you‘ll call me, I‘ll go with you. 

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  But everything is—everything seems to have been worked out? 

CHAPMAN:  Everything is working out, yes, Dan.  Thank you very much. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Now, let‘s talk about this—the reality show.  I mean, you‘re going to have cameras following you around as you go and try and catch the bad guys.  Isn‘t there a possibility that will sort of impede the ability to go in sort of secretly and quietly? 

(LAUGHTER)

CHAPMAN:  Well Dan, we never go anywhere secretly and quietly, as you know.  And we‘re done filming.  We‘ve filmed a lot of shows, over 30 arrests, and it was so much fun.  And we used the camera crew as a backup, actually.  One time we hit a house and the fugitive was in the house and said what has that guy got on his shoulder.  And I said that‘s a bazooka and if you don‘t come out, he‘s going to fire a missile at your bed and the guy come running out barefooted.  So it actually helped a lot.  We had the time of our lives. 

ABRAMS:  Beth, explain to us how you make money.  I mean how one does this as a career, how you work it out with law enforcement, et cetera. 

SMITH:  Well, I‘ve always said that, you know, I write bail to support “Dog‘s” bounty-hunting hobby because he doesn‘t make very much money at this.  You know he has such a kind heart that when it comes time to write the bill for the bounty, he‘s like oh, just charge them a little gas money, you know.  So, it‘s a little bit difficult to make money doing this. 

But you know we write bail, and we‘re really in it for—to help people and to show these people, you know, just because you‘ve had problems in your past doesn‘t mean that your life is going to end right here because you have a felony.  Because you know he‘s the walking poster child for rehabilitation.  And he just basically takes them by the hand and shows them how to get out of the justice system and we make...

ABRAMS:  Well...

SMITH:  ... a few bucks here and there. 

ABRAMS:  Let me play another piece of sounds from the program.  Let‘s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I don‘t know.  I don‘t know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re under arrest. 

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You‘re going to jail too for lying.  You said he ran out the back door. 

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He didn‘t run out the back door.  Don‘t even get (UNINTELLIGIBLE) old man. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You know the position.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You all knew he was a fugitive.  You guys have been lying...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Liars. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I bet you do, liar. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let‘s go.  Let‘s go now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Bond-jumping (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Someone hook him up for his last night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jay, come on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  So, Beth, this is you and “The Dog” helping this guy rehabilitate his life? 

SMITH:  Well, you know, Dan, first you‘ve got to catch them.  You know, once you catch them and your adrenaline is running and you‘re, you know, out there and you‘ve got a lot of things going on, you‘ve got to keep your team safe.  But once we get him in the car and we start to calm down and we start taking him to the jail, we start talking to him about why did you fail, what‘s going on, is there a breakdown in communication, and then we sort of start to build them back up from there. 

ABRAMS:  “Dog”, the question we get from a lot of our viewers every time you come on is when are you going to begin the search for bin Laden?

(LAUGHTER)

CHAPMAN:  Well, Dan, I‘ve got the phone on hold.  We‘re waiting for the call any time. 

ABRAMS:  You—can you travel abroad?  I mean can you go into sort of areas like that?  I mean let‘s put bin Laden aside.  But, you know, let‘s say there‘s a wanted terrorist out there in Pakistan or Afghanistan or somewhere else.  You could just get up and go? 

CHAPMAN:  Well, you‘d have to get the government‘s permission, but absolutely.  You know, absolutely.  Where‘s he at?  That‘s my - where‘s he at? 

ABRAMS:  Would you have to change the look?  I mean I don‘t know...

CHAPMAN:  Well, no.  I‘d be “The Dog”.  You know where‘s he at? 

ABRAMS:  Right. 

SMITH:  You know I think we learned our lesson from the last time.  So we‘re going to wait for a call from G.W.  When he calls us, then you know...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

SMITH:  ... we‘ve got the full backing of the government. 

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH:  We‘re not going to do another freebie...

ABRAMS:  I‘m sure that call is coming right around the corner. 

SMITH:  I‘m sure. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right, Duane “Dog” Chapman and Beth Smith.  The show is called “Dog, The Bounty Hunter” and it is on A&E.  Good luck to both of you.  We‘ll be watching. 

CHAPMAN:  Thank you Dan...

SMITH:  Thanks Dan.  Aloha. 

CHAPMAN:  Nice to see you again my brother.

SMITH:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Last night‘s “Closing Argument” coming up.  I said Amber Frey was an impressive witness and she should leave the courtroom with her head high.  Some of you now are saying am I obsessed with Amber Frey...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, some of you asking am I obsessed with Amber Frey—your e-mails up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  All right.  Now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  A lot of you writing in about my “Closing Argument” last night on Amber Frey.  After sitting in the courtroom for more than two weeks hearing Amber‘s testimony, I said I thought she was an impressive witness, smarter, more thoughtful and composed than I expected.  I said that I thought she‘s already suffered enough and should leave court a proud woman.  Many of you disagree. 

Jeff Woodward from North Carolina.  “Your laudatory comments about Amber Frey were ridiculous.  Amber was the female counterpart to a Scott Peterson.  She was trying to snag Scott Peterson as much as he was trying to get her into bed.”

That may be true but she‘s not accused of killing her spouse. 

Donna B. from Michigan writes, “Amber should be hanging her head in shame.  Bringing a strange man into her home when her daughter was there.  The next day hands him her keys to her apartment, childcare seat and lets this man who she only and had sex with twice pick up her daughter from childcare and be alone with her daughter for hours until she got home from work.”

Donna, as I said last night, she was a sucker and a fool.  But she‘s already paid a hefty price.  Humiliated about as much as any woman who made bad choices about men. 

Ginger Dozier writes, “I think you have become obsessed with Amber Frey.”  No, Ginger, but maybe my expectations were pretty low. 

Sandra from Michigan agrees with me.  “Thank you for your comments towards Amber Frey.  I‘m hoping people see that she‘s the innocent party and caught up in this fiasco.  She has been humiliated and made out to be stupid.”

Joan Vigil from New Mexico.  “It amazes me that the people who got hurt are the ones who are at fault and the man who hurt them are still conning the country.”

Also last night I talked about how Mark Geragos in cross-examination got Amber Frey to admit that Scott Peterson never said I love to you Amber.

Carol, Florida.  “Why would it be so surprising that Scott did not come right out and say I love you to Amber.  After all, he had already consulted with an attorney who most likely indicated anything he said could be used against him.  If he did not consult with an attorney you can be sure he would have expressed his love.”

Angie Jones from Mississippi.  “Whether he‘s in love with Frey or planned to start-stay with Frey is irrelevant.  The point is that he wanted to be free of his marriage and the responsibility of being a father to carry on however he wanted to.”

And Paul in California is downright upset my coverage.  “Go back to school and study the rules and ethics of true journalism established by the Harvard School of Journalism you fool.”

Paul, maybe I‘m a fool, but one thing I do know.  Harvard does not have a school of journalism. 

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

Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Thanks for watching.  See you tomorrow. 

END

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