updated 9/27/2004 1:11:40 AM ET 2004-09-27T05:11:40

Guests: “Del”, “Frag”, Laura Spencer, Drew Findling, Dean Johnson, Michael Cardoza, Lisa Novak

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, an undercover investigation.  In less than three days 18 men come over in the hope of having sex with an underage girl.  We‘ve got them on tape busted. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  They thought they were just coming for a sex romp with a young girl.  Wait until you see who confronts them in the kitchen and what they say.  We talk to the young woman who they thought would be their sexual partner. 

Plus, a new battle brewing over the Kobe Bryant rape case.  Now that the case has been dismissed, and the accuser is suing Bryant in civil court, should the media finally identify her as well? 

And prosecutors in the Scott Peterson case charge to the finish with new pictures of Laci and more of Scott Peterson‘s lies caught on tape.  We take a look back at the week that was, with three lawyers who were there all week. 

The program about justice starts now. 


ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket tonight, what appears to be perverts caught on tape, preparing for an underage sex romp.  Reports indicate one in five children online has been approached by a predator who wants to meet a child face-to-face. 

Now to follow the trail of a predator, “Dateline NBC” rented a house, wired it with hidden cameras, enlisted the help of an online vigilante group called Perverted-Justice, volunteers from the group posed as teens in chat rooms saying they were home alone and interested in sex.  Within hours there were men literally lining up at the door, some even bumping into each other outside. 

It‘s a “Dateline NBC” investigation and Chris Hansen caught the men in the act. 


CHRIS HANSEN, “DATELINE NBC” CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Thirty-five-year-old Steve thinks he‘s got a hot date with a 14-year-old girl.  Instead, he‘ll be meeting me.  At first he seems to think I‘m a police officer.  I haven‘t told him yet I‘m a television reporter and at this point he has no idea he‘s being videotaped. 

HANSEN (on camera):  Have a seat. 


HANSEN:  You knew what? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Exactly what was going on. 

HANSEN:  Take your hands out of your pockets for me.  You don‘t have to put them up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) no problem.  I know what‘s going on, I‘m not stupid. 

HANSEN (voice-over):  It seems clear Steve thinks he‘s been caught in a police sting.  He says he was just coming over to check it out. 

(on camera):  So you were...


HANSEN:  ... suspicious in the beginning? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Of course I am.  I‘m always suspicious. 

HANSEN:  Always?  Do you do this a lot? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, this is the first time I‘ve actually did show up to see what was going on. 

HANSEN:  And you expect me to believe that? 


HANSEN (voice-over):  In two and a half days, a parade of men, one after the other show up at our house, after making a date on the Internet to commit statutory rape.  When 34-year-old Eddie arrives, he tries something none of the others did.  Before he‘ll come into the kitchen, he comes up with a scheme to insulate himself from possible criminal charges.  And he tries to get our decoy to play along. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) just say something to me. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What do you want me to say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just say Rachel, you‘re 19 years old, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I‘m not though.  You know I‘m not. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I don‘t know that. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I told you I was 14 (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  What are you talking about? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, no, no, not as far as I know.  As far as I know you‘re 19 years old, right? 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Rachel, can you read between the lines? 

HANSEN:  When I walk in Eddie admits he was trying not to incriminate himself. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My intentions (UNINTELLIGIBLE) so I just wanted to protect myself, that‘s all. 

HANSEN (on camera):  But she told you on the Internet, she was 14.


HANSEN:  Oh, really...


HANSEN:  ... on the Internet? 


HANSEN:  You want to stick with that story? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I just thought—that‘s what I thought (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

HANSEN:  You want to see the transcript? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m sure you have it. 

HANSEN (voice-over):  None of the men had any idea our hidden cameras were going to expose them before a national audience.  When we told them, most headed for the door, like Steve, the married man with children. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I am leaving...

HANSEN (on camera):  All right, go ahead. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You know and you don‘t have my permission to put me on tape either. 

HANSEN:  I‘m Chris Hansen with “Dateline NBC” and we‘re doing a story...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You can‘t put me on TV. 

HANSEN (voice-over):  But some wanted a chance to try to explain themselves.  Remember 34-year-old Eddie?  When I confront him, he‘s ready with a story, says he‘s a TV producer, doing research. 

(on camera):  Where are you a television producer? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I work independently right now.

HANSEN:  Yes.  You know, it‘s ironic, because I work in television, too, with “Dateline NBC”.

(voice-over):  At first, this television producer appears a bit camera shy, but then decides to open up. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I haven‘t done anything wrong at all.  You go through the transcripts...


HANSEN (on camera):  I‘ve read all of them.  It sounds like you were looking to have a sexual experience with this girl Rachel who you were talking to on the Internet.  I don‘t what other conclusion you can draw...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You can search me for a condom, I don‘t have one on me.  I wouldn‘t have sex without one. 

HANSEN (voice-over):  Eddie, who it appears has worked as a TV producer, even commends us for a job well done. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘m very interested in your story.  I think it‘s a great thing that you‘re doing.  I think it‘s something that you should certainly do more and more, and bag people left and right. 


HANSEN:  And that‘s exactly what we did.  The men who turned up at our house included a New York City firefighter, and a man with a history of mental illness and a criminal record.  Most of the men had something else in common.  They all said it was the first time they had ever done anything like this and that they really weren‘t going to have sex with a minor—


ABRAMS:  Wow, Chris, this is an unbelievable story.  Give us a sense of what kind of conversations are taking place?  I mean are there any phone conversations?  Is this all on the Internet?  What exactly is being said to lure these guys there? 

HANSEN:  Well it starts with just a profile in a regular old chat room that you can access those through AOL or Yahoo! and they have a name and a picture of a boy or girl who is unmistakably under age and they just sit there.  They don‘t initiate anything and all of a sudden they start to get hit up by messages.  And the chat starts innocently enough. 

Then all of a sudden you see it starts to take a turn, and the alleged predator will start making sexual references and saying are you home alone?  And it just escalates from there.  It‘s really amazing.  Then there‘s a phone call, and then they start talking about meeting.  And within hours...


HANSEN:  ... there‘s a knock on the door. 

ABRAMS:  So all of these guys spoke to we‘ll call it the decoy...


ABRAMS:  ... the woman and it was a woman, right?  I mean she actually...

HANSEN:  Correct...

ABRAMS:  ... is of age and...

HANSEN:  Right. 

ABRAMS:  ... we‘re going to talk to her actually in a moment.  But all of them have a conversation with her where she says sure, here‘s the address, come on over. 

HANSEN:  Exactly.  This conversation on the Internet goes back and forth.  It escalates and it‘s a sexually explicit nature.  There is a phone call and a visit is arranged.  And the person shows up at the door. 

ABRAMS:  All of these guys seem to be suggesting it was a misunderstanding oh—or at the very least oh it was my first time.  I‘d never done anything like this before.  Were there any guys where there really was a misunderstanding?  Meaning, where they spoke to the girl on the phone and she said oh, you know what, I‘m 14 or 12, and they back out before they even get there? 

HANSEN:  There have been cases like that where a guy said look, this isn‘t right.  You‘re just too young, and that‘s fine, and that happens.  You know there are misunderstandings on the Internet.  But in each one of these cases and I had the chat logs before me and went over them before these guys came in the door.  So I knew what was coming and who it was.  There was no mistaking the intent when you look at these specific cases, the ones we show in our report. 

ABRAMS:  Were you nervous that any of these guys were going to slug you? 

HANSEN:  Well, I‘d be lying if I didn‘t say at least for the first few, you know, my heart was in my throat.  But you know, we didn‘t say exactly who we were.  We just went right into the questioning.  The cameras at first were hidden, so we had the element of surprise on our side, no doubt.  And these guys weren‘t sure whether I was the TV newsman, the mad dad, or the police officer...


HANSEN:  ... so they were pretty compliant once they came in. 

ABRAMS:  And are any of these guys going to be prosecuted?  I mean have you had any—has there been any relationship between what you did and prosecutors? 

HANSEN:  Each of the men were posted on the “Perverted-Justice” Web site.  That‘s their picture, their name and some other personal information.  To our knowledge, the only one who‘s actually being criminally prosecuted is the fireman, who you‘ll see tonight on “Dateline” in our report.  He‘s facing federal charges here in New York. 

ABRAMS:  This is a brave and important piece.  Chris Hansen, great job.  Thanks very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it. 

HANSEN:  Thanks for having me Dan.  I appreciate it.

ABRAMS:  And you can see all of Chris Hansen‘s hidden camera investigation tonight on “Dateline”.  They got an hour on this.  This is well worth watching, 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, 7:00 p.m. Central Time.  We‘ve only given you a tip of the iceberg here.

When we come back, you‘ll meet “Del”, the young woman who helped catch some of the men that you just saw.  What did she say to them? 

And later, a call for the release of Kobe Bryant‘s accuser‘s name by some who say now that the criminal charges have been dropped, why is the media still obligated to protect her identity?

Plus, prosecutors in the Scott Peterson case show jurors new images of Laci Peterson, what many in court say was one of their best weeks yet.  We talk to three lawyers who were inside the courtroom.

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


ABRAMS:  Up next, we talk to the young woman who helped catch men online trying to meet young girls for sex.


ABRAMS:  If you‘re just joining us now, we have been watching part of a “Dateline NBC” hidden camera investigation.  What appears to be would-be sexual predators, pedophiles trolled the Internets in some of the chat rooms, looking for some sex with underage girls.  Eighteen men showed up in two and a half days in the hope of engaging in statutory rape with an underage girl.  They caught them on tape.

To do the story, “Dateline” linked up with a group of online vigilantes.  They say they‘re a civilian watchdog group who call themselves Perverted-Justice.  Now we want to now talk to the young volunteer from Perverted-Justice who met some of these potential pedophiles online, talked to them, told them to come to the house where “Dateline” was waiting to meet her. 

The name she goes by is “Del”.  “Del”, thank you very much for joining us.  We appreciate it.  Now give us a sense of what you would say to these men.  One of these guys calls on the phone and says hey, you know, I‘d love to meet you.  What would you say? 

“DEL”, INTERNET STING DECOY:  Well, we actually call them first.  We don‘t ever give out a number, so we always get their number to call.  And I basically just say, you know, what‘s up? 

ABRAMS:  Give us a voice.

“DEL”:  Are you sure you really want to do this? 

ABRAMS:  What do they hear on the other end of the line? 

“DEL”:  Well, I just kind of talk like this and they you know, ask me a couple of questions about you know if my parents were home or if I really wanted to do this, and I‘d, you know, say no, they‘re not home.  And then they‘d usually say, you know, well what time do you want me to come over? 

ABRAMS:  “Del”, I wanted you to turn that way so people could get a sense of what you sounded like, without actually seeing the fact that you‘re actually 22 years old.  So you can turn around, if you can, and I appreciate it so we can see and hear you. 

And we‘re also joined now by someone who goes by the name of “Frag”, the assistant director of operations for Perverted-Justice.  Thank you both very much for joining us.  We appreciate it.

All right, you know, “Del”, this story is really disturbing.  To see that 18 guys show up in two and a half days at a house, says, you know, obviously you know this says a lot about the severity of the problem.  Were you surprised by how many men or what they said to you?  Anything surprise you as part of this investigation? 

“DEL”:  Honestly, and you can hear the difference in my voice now.


“DEL”:  Honestly, no, no...


“DEL”:  We see it every day online.  You log into a chat room, within minutes you‘ll be deluged with people asking you questions—age, sex, location, what do you do for fun?  Are your parents home?  It‘s a frightening problem.  The statistic you gave earlier, with one out of every five children online being approached for sex is just growing. 

ABRAMS:  And so you weren‘t surprised—I mean, what were these guys saying to you?  They‘re saying oh, you know, hey, I‘d love to see you.  I mean are they treating—give us a sense of what kind of things that these guys who came over were saying? 

“DEL”:  Well, there are different types of approaches.  There is one approach which is more of a groomer, as we call it, approach.  It‘s a very cautious, steady, you know, you‘re very pretty.  You‘re very mature for your age.  You‘re very smart. 

And you know, that‘s where they‘re trying to gain the girl‘s trust.  I‘d like to taste some of your sweet kisses sometime is actually a direct quote from one of them.  That was obviously you know, just kind of setting them up. 

ABRAMS:  And...

“DEL”:  But there‘s also...

ABRAMS:  They think you‘re between 12 and 14, right? 

“DEL”:  Twelve and 14, yep. 

ABRAMS:  All right and—let me go to “Frag”.  First of all, tell us why the names “Frag”?  Why not your real name? 

“FRAG”, PERVERTED-JUSTICE ASST. OPS DIRECTOR:  Well, as you can imagine, the people that we actually bust and put on our Web site aren‘t real thrilled about it a lot of the time.  We do occasionally get death threats and other things like that.  And basically just so we aren‘t hassled, we keep our identities anonymous.  Of course, we are available for prosecution and we are, you know, we‘ll go into open court and give our full names and anything to make sure these guys are prosecuted...

ABRAMS:  Any of these guys ever sue you and they say, you know, this is false and take me off your Web site and you‘re vigilantes?  Any of them say that? 

“FRAG”:  Some of them have said it. 


“FRAG”:  We‘ve never been sued, ever. 

ABRAMS:  All right.

“FRAG”:  Nobody has ever sued us, ever.

ABRAMS:  And ever get into trouble with regard—I know a lot of my viewers even when we were talking about, were talking entrapment issues.  Bottom line though is you‘re not working for the government. 

“FRAG”:  Exactly, we aren‘t working for the government.  We‘re basically within our rights.  It‘s a conversation we post on the Web site.  It‘s true.  We have data files.  But there are cases now where we are starting to work more and more with law enforcement...


“FRAG”:  ... and in some cases either the Secret Service or the FBI.

ABRAMS:  “Del” is it hard for you sometimes when you‘re talking to one

of these perverts to not say in the middle of the conversation, you know,

just go off on them?  And you know, they‘re sitting there, sweet-talking

you and you‘re pretending to be a little girl.  And do you ever say to them

·         you know what‘s ultimately going to happen to them?  But are you ever sort of tempted to just cut them off and say gosh, what are you doing? 

“DEL”:  It is tempting, I‘ll admit that.  However, given in particular the degree to which Perverted-Justice has started working with law enforcement agencies and our Information First! program, it‘s become more important that we just get these guys as fully convicted as possible. 


“DEL”:  We‘re not going to do anything to risk that. 

ABRAMS:  Maybe I‘m naive, but when I saw Chris Hansen today in the green room of the “Today” Show and he told me that they had gotten 18 guys to come over in two and a half days after literally just putting something up on a site, I was stunned.  This is a “Dateline” piece well worth watching. 

Again, it‘s on at 8:00 p.m.  Eastern Time today.  To “Frag” and “Del” from Perverted-Justice, thank you very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

“DEL”:  No problem, thank you. 

“FRAG”:  Thank you for having us. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, prosecutors in the Kobe Bryant case say unseal the evidence from the criminal trial, but what about unsealing the accuser‘s identity by the media?  Bryant‘s not facing criminal charges, just a civil lawsuit.  Is it finally time? 

And new video of Laci Peterson, testimony that her baby was killed the day before she was reported missing.  And more of Scott‘s lies caught on tape.  A look at a big week for the prosecution in the Scott Peterson case.  We‘ll talk to three lawyers who were inside the courtroom.


ABRAMS:  Another battle brewing in the Kobe Bryant case.  Media outlets are asking for records to be unsealed.  The defense fighting tooth and nail to keep the information under wraps.  But what about releasing the young woman‘s name? 

For more than a year, Kobe Bryant‘s name was all over the front pages, while the media did its best to protect the alleged victim‘s identity.  We‘re not required by law to do it, but rather guided by our own journalistic ethics.  So as journalists, what do we do now that the criminal charges are dismissed?

Is this woman still the alleged victim?  Meaning, do we still have an ethical obligation to protect her identity, even though there will be no criminal charges and since so many already know her name? 

You know, “My Take” and I almost never do this, but I have to say I‘m really torn on this one.  I‘m going to let my guests try to convince me and you on this. 

Joining me now, former prosecutor Laura Spencer, who thinks this young woman‘s name should be kept private and criminal defense attorney Drew Findling who disagrees. 

All right, Laura, let me start with you.  You know, people would—some people would say that until she comes out and says I recant or I want to go public, public policy demands that the media still not report her name. 

LAURA SPENCER, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  I tend to agree with that.  What purpose does it serve to make this woman‘s name known?  Who needs to know her name? 

ABRAMS:  Drew, who needs to know her name? 

SPENCER:  That‘s my question.

DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, this is no longer a criminal case.  She was a witness on behalf of the state of Colorado. 


FINDLING:  Now she is the legal aggressor.  She is aggressively pursuing this case with arguably a dream team of plaintiff‘s attorneys brought from around the country to pursue one thing, money. 


FINDLING:  She has abandoned the state of Colorado, her name needs to be out there.  You can‘t have your cake and eat it too...


FINDLING:  She wants to become a millionaire at Kobe Bryant‘s expense, let her name be made public. 

SPENCER:  Why?  Who needs to know that? 

FINDLING:  Well because Kobe Bryant...

ABRAMS:  But the test...

FINDLING:  ... Kobe Bryant‘s name has been made public.

ABRAMS:  ... Laura, the test is not who needs to know.  I mean, you know, there‘s a lot of—if the test was always who needs to know, that would be a pretty subjective question.  The bottom line is though, that the rule is—I‘m asking the question why—the question is should the rules be changed now?  Meaning, there will never be any criminal charges filed in this case.  We know that.  And she has chosen to file a civil lawsuit against him.  Why shouldn‘t it now, now there that there won‘t be any criminal charges filed be treated like every other civil case that we cover? 

SPENCER:  Because she‘s chosen not to reveal her name. 

ABRAMS:  A lot of people in civil cases...

SPENCER:  That is her privilege.

ABRAMS:  Wait.  Wait.  A lot of people in civil cases don‘t want their names associated with either suing or being sued.  They don‘t get to choose that. 

SPENCER:  I don‘t think that‘s the case here.  I think that she doesn‘t want her name associated with a rape.  This girl has never said that she was not raped.  The charges were not dropped because she recanted.  The charges were dropped for other reasons.  She was...


SPENCER:  ... from her standpoint, the victim of a rape and doesn‘t want her name revealed. 

ABRAMS:  Drew, let me read you...


ABRAMS:  ... what Bill Mitchell, the online editor from the Poynter Institute‘s explanation as to why it would not allow a woman who wrote an article to publish the victim‘s name in “The Washington Post”. 

Based on what we know at this point, we believe the journalistic purpose to be achieved by naming the accuser is outweighed by the potential harm that could result from doing so.

All right, go ahead. 

FINDLING:  Well and let‘s remember, that writer was part of a 1990 Pulitzer Prize winning piece on this subject and that is the dissemination of a name, when you cannot presuppose who the true victim is.  And in this case, Dan, the bottom line is this—she cost the taxpayers of Colorado $397,000 to investigate this case, of which she‘s going to use that work, undoubtedly to help pursue a plaintiff‘s case against Kobe Bryant. 

The people of Colorado need to know, since they forked out $397,000 to help her become a millionaire.  So you know, she needed the prosecution to pursue this case.  Now she can‘t hide behind something that doesn‘t t apply to a civil matter. 

SPENCER:  That is absolutely outrageous.  This woman did not instigate this case with the thought in mind that she was going to then have the charges dropped and pursue civil litigation against this man.  She called the police...

FINDLING:  Dan, she absolutely did. 

SPENCER:  She absolutely...

FINDLING:  She absolutely—she did, because when the ruling was made by the trial court that the underwear with the spermatozoa from two other men was going to be admitted it went up to the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court said it was a proper ruling, she at that point abandoned the case.  And here‘s why she abandoned the case. 

She has Lin Wood, one of the greatest plaintiff‘s attorneys in this country, who is all about making money for him and for her.  And Lin Wood knows that if that case resulted in a not guilty verdict, which is where it was going, there was no way he could get a settlement and no way he could get a verdict. 

ABRAMS:  Let me very quickly...


ABRAMS:  ... read from Geneva Overholser, the writer for—who had written this op-ed piece in “The Washington Post” and here‘s what she said about beyond naming names.

She‘s opted to take her case to civil court.  Her voluntary step further into the public limelight makes appropriate a unified move by editors to cease the conceit of this naming taboo.

Go ahead Laura.  Final word on this. 

SPENCER:  Well let‘s get the case straight here.  This case was dropped because the prosecutors weren‘t able to get their case in order in time to go forward, not because they didn‘t have the evidence, not because he wasn‘t guilty.  And this girl did not call the police, have this man arrested with the thought in mind that some months down the line she was going to hire an attorney...

ABRAMS:  All right...

SPENCER:  ... and pursue a civil case. 

ABRAMS:  Let me wrap it up.  Laura Spencer, Drew Findling, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

SPENCER:  My pleasure.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a big week for prosecutors in the Scott Peterson case.  From an expert who says that Conner Peterson likely died right around the time prosecutors say that it happened—that could help prosecutors—a new video of Laci Peterson that helped humanize her for the jury to Peterson‘s lies.  We‘ll look back at all of it with three lawyers who were inside the courtroom.  Coming up.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, prosecutors in the Scott Peterson case charge to the finish with more of his lies on tape, new images of Laci Peterson alive, incriminating details of when Laci‘s baby may have died.  We go inside the courtroom with three lawyers who were there all week, but first the headlines.


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  By most accounts a good week for prosecutors in the Scott Peterson case as they kind of sprint to the finish line.  Before we talk with three liars—I said three liars—I meant lawyers, I know, I know.  All right, three lawyers who are in the courtroom all week, MSNBC‘s Jennifer London has a look back at week 17 of the trial. 


JENNIFER LONDON, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  A smiling, laughing Laci Peterson is shown in this home video taken in July 2002, less than six months before she disappeared.  Lead detective Craig Grogan told the jury police had 41 reasons to believe her body was dumped in the San Francisco Bay. 

Among those reasons, the defendant had a parking stub for the Berkeley Marina.  A dog tracker claimed to have picked up Laci‘s scent there.  And police found evidence that Peterson was researching the bay on his computer.

MICHAEL CARDOZA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  If you take the totality of those, that‘s why he has a detective, that‘s why they as the Modesto Police Department believe Scott Peterson to be guilty in this case. 

LONDON:  Yet despite Grogan‘s repeated attempts to get a confession, Peterson never admitted a thing. 

CRAIG GROGAN, DETECTIVE IN THE SCOTT PETERSON CASE:  And I think we‘re probably going to find her over there in the bay.


GROGAN:  It‘s a matter of time.

PETERSON:  Craig, you—I had nothing to do with Laci‘s disappearance.  OK.  Yes.  OK, I‘m going to go.

GROGAN:  Scott, what I‘m offering you is an opportunity here to end all of this nonsense. 

LONDON:  Less than a month after that conversation, police conducted a second search of the Modesto home.  Grogan says they found two packed bags with clothes, cash, and the baby‘s room once neat and tidy appeared to be used for storage.  The jury also heard from a fetal expert who testified that baby Conner died on or around December 23, 2002.  This testimony supports the prosecution‘s theory that Peterson killed Laci late on 12/23 or early in the morning on 12/24, the day she went missing. 

DEAN JOHNSON, FMR. SAN MATEO COUNTY PROSECUTOR:  This is the one fact that the prosecution needed to establish to get back into this game. 

LONDON:  Grogan also told the jury when Peterson was arrested in San Diego on April 18, 2003, he had dyed his hair orange and had grown a goatee. 

(on camera):  When the defense got their turn, Mark Geragos tried to show that Scott Peterson was very cooperative with police, even agreeing to a gunshot residue test that the Modesto Police Department never completed.  Geragos also pointing out that Peterson made a number of trips to the Berkley Marina, because he was actually looking for an eyewitness who saw him there on Christmas Eve.  Detective Craig Grogan returns to the stand on Monday. 

In Redwood City, California, Jennifer London, MSNBC.


ABRAMS:  Thanks Jennifer.  “My Take”—if jurors have not already ruled the prosecutors out, this week may be the beginning of the comeback.  But I want to bring in our legal team right away.  They were in court all week for the testimony—criminal defense attorney, NBC News analyst Michael Cardoza, former San Mateo prosecutors Dean Johnson and Lisa Novak. 

All right, issue one, we‘re going to do five issues here, all right, so I‘m going to try and give as many of you quick thoughts on each of these issues.  Issue one:  Scott Peterson‘s lies.  Let‘s play this from “Good Morning America” interview with Diane Sawyer played in court about the nursery that Scott and Laci had made for their baby. 


DIANE SAWYER, CO-ANCHOR, “GOOD MORNING AMERICA”:  Tell me about the nursery? 

PETERSON:  I can‘t go in there.  The door is closed until there is someone to put in there.  But it‘s ready.


ABRAMS:  The problem?  This tape taken about three weeks later of that nursery, with a lot of storage stuff in there.  You know, it looks like somebody could go in there.  Somebody put in there chairs and all sorts of other stuff.  It doesn‘t look like the, you know, the itty-bitty clothes and wonderful things ready for a little baby. 

Lie number two, very quickly, the issue of when he told the police about his affair with Amber Frey.  Here‘s what he told Diane Sawyer. 


SAWYER:  Had you told anyone?  Did you tell police? 

PETERSON:  I told the police immediately. 

SAWYER:  When? 

PETERSON:  That was the first night we were together, the police, I spent with the police. 

SAWYER:  You told them about her? 

PETERSON:  Yes, December 24 on. 


ABRAMS:  Not so according to a tape with Detective Grogan. 


PETERSON:  Well I said that they‘ve got me answering a question.  I answered it wrong on Diane Sawyer.  It sounds like I answered a question that when I told you about Amber the first night and obviously, you know, we both know I didn‘t and I don‘t know if I should try to get a retraction out there or just, you know, anyways it‘s, you know, we both know that‘s not true.


ABRAMS:  Dean Johnson, how important are the lies? 

JOHNSON:  Well, you know, I don‘t think they‘re the most important thing in this case, but they are significant.  I think what this jury is going to say, is actions speak louder than words.  You talk—you look at Scott Peterson‘s words.  He‘s playing out the part of the grieving father, the person who expects his wife to come back. 

But you look at his actions and everything he does is inconsistent with that.  Everything that he does suggests that he knows that Laci and Conner are never coming back.  And when the bodies are found, everything he does is inconsistent with somebody who is relieved, at least to find out that there may be some resolution to the case and consistent with somebody who wants...


JOHNSON:  ... to avoid law enforcement. 

ABRAMS:  Michael, make or break issue? 

CARDOZA:  It is not a make-or-break issue.  Certainly as a defense attorney, you don‘t want your client to lie.  You don‘t want that brought before the jury.  But Dean‘s making a big assumption.  Nobody knows who put that furniture into the baby‘s room. 

Remember, Scott‘s family took down the Christmas tree.  Other people could have put all that furniture in there.  Remember, his warehouse was overrun.  He had to move things out of there because they were moving out of the warehouse, so it‘s brought to his house.  Nobody knows who put it in there.  Everybody‘s quick to point to Peterson, but there are other reasonable explanations for it being in the nursery. 

ABRAMS:  But Lisa, it just seems that when it comes to each and every issue, there‘s always some reasonable explanation as to why...


ABRAMS:  ... things don‘t look like they seem, Lisa. 

LISA NOVAK, FORMER SAN MATEO COUNTY PROSECUTOR:  You know, with this guy, once a manure salesman, always a manure salesman.  He has told lies in this case from the very beginning from the very first contact that he had with anyone, telling them that Laci was missing.  His initial statements were lies, that he was golfing.  And the pattern of lies has continued throughout the investigation.  You know, and it does not bode well for the defense. 

ABRAMS:  All right.

NOVAK:  The lies are significant. 

ABRAMS:  Issue two:  The new Laci Peterson tape.  Here it is. 




S. PETERSON:  I was going to send it to Sama and make him envious.



S. PETERSON:  OK, I was holding both you guys, now wave to the camera now.  Come on, both you guys wave to the camera now.






ABRAMS:  Michael, you made the point this morning, it cuts both ways, right? 

CARDOZA:  Yes, that absolutely cuts both ways.  Number one, we get, you know, sort of a day in the life of Laci Peterson.  Usually that would be reversible error in a homicide case like that to let it in.  Geragos wanted that in, so he doesn‘t object.  It certainly shows Laci to be a young, vibrant woman, brings that home to the jury.  But on the other side, it shows Scott having a great day with her, and they‘re in a pretty good relationship, so that could bode well for him in this case.  It cuts both ways. 

ABRAMS:  Lisa, do you agree with that? 

NOVAK:  I absolutely agree with that.  It shows just five months before she disappears that he appears to be an attentive, loving husband, who is commenting about how envious others should be of his wife. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  We‘re going to take a quick break.  We‘ve got three more big issues that came up in court this week, talk about how significant they were.  Our guests are going to stick around. 

And also coming up—some of you upset—shocker—with what I had to say about this case.  The family of that Englishman being held hostage by terrorists in Iraq was my “Closing Argument” yesterday.  Your e-mails coming up...



PETERSON:  ... that she‘s missing, but walking the dog through there like she would do on most mornings, it‘s like a way to experience her right now for me.  A lot of times I can‘t make it very far.  I get part of the way—I certainly can‘t make it to the part of the park where currently there is a big poster of her up. 


ABRAMS:  Interview with ABC‘s Diane Sawyer played for jurors this week as prosecutors tried to go through a series of Scott Peterson‘s lies, et cetera.  We‘ve been going through the issues that came up in court.  Let‘s go right away to issue three, put it to our panel—when the baby was born.

Dr. Greggory DeVore testified to the little baby‘s age at 33 weeks and one day, entirely consistent with the prosecution‘s theory died on or about December 23, 2002.  The defense, of course, suggesting that the baby was full term, therefore must have been alive for a while.  Scott was already under surveillance.  They say couldn‘t have been him as a result. 

Dean Johnson, is this witness good enough to knock that defense theory out of the park? 

JOHNSON:  Absolutely.  I was in the courtroom when that witness testified and when he got up and said this baby died December 24 or sooner, everybody‘s hair stood on end.  And this was the fact that the prosecution absolutely had to have in its case.  Up until that point, the defense was in a position to argue that this baby had lived longer, either gestationally within Laci or had been born alive.  Now the prosecution is in a position to say no, that‘s not the case.  This baby did not live beyond December 24.  This makes it a battle of the experts...

ABRAMS:  But Lisa - right—well I was going to say Lisa, doesn‘t this just still make it a battle of the experts?  Defense is going to call in their own experts? 

NOVAK:  They‘re certainly going to call in their own experts.  Mistake that the defense made was in their opening statement telling this jury that they would prove that the baby was born alive several months later.  They could have actually gotten a lot of mileage out of what Dr. DeVore said because what Geragos got the doctor to acknowledge is that using a different set of facts and figures and research studies, the baby could have died either December 27 or December 28...

ABRAMS:  All right...

NOVAK:  ... which would help with the defense. 

ABRAMS:  Let me let—Michael Cardoza, very quickly, I want to move on to the next issue.  Do you agree with that characterization? 

CARDOZA:  Somewhat, but remember what the doctor said in cross-examination.  Dean forgets that the doctor said, you know, I don‘t know the date of conception and that could very well change my opinion.  It could go out as far as December 28, so...


CARDOZA:  ... what does that jury do with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... completely mischaracterizing...

ABRAMS:  All right.  But I think the defense was suggesting more than a few days ago in the opening statement...

CARDOZA:  Oh, they will.  Their expert is going to come in and say as far out as January 8...

ABRAMS:  Right.

CARDOZA:  ... or 9. 

ABRAMS:  Right.  All right.  Issue four:  What was found on Scott Peterson when he was arrested?  They talked about, you know, we knew about all these items that were found in his car, you know, the water purifier, he had almost $15,000 in cash, et cetera.  You know, Lisa, I‘ve always said that I thought this was one of the more overstated issues.  I think on this one, the defense, you know, unlike many of the other arguments where everyone‘s got an innocent explanation for everything, on this one, you know, the fact that he was trying to avoid the media, and he was sort of living a kind of nomadic life to avoid the media, whether it‘s true or not, it seems like at least a plausible argument. 

NOVAK:  I guess it‘s a reasonable argument, but I think the more powerful argument is he was certainly hiding out, but he wasn‘t just hiding out from the media.  He was going to be hiding out from law enforcement. 

ABRAMS:  How do you know?

NOVAK:  And you look at all the things that were with him.  I mean he changed his appearance.  He‘s got his brother‘s identification.  He‘s got a car registered to somebody else.  He‘s got thousands of dollars in the vehicle.  He‘s got food, supplies and Viagra, which is going to keep him very occupied for some period of time.  I don‘t think he‘s just hiding out from the media. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me just go to issue five.  Detective Grogan‘s 41 reasons as to why they were searching in the bay.  This is sort of a closing argument the prosecution got to present.  That Peterson put himself at the San Francisco Bay on 12/24/02, parking stub for the marina, cell site shows the location near the Berkeley Marina. 

Peterson had a two-day fishing license purchased on 12/20/02, filled out for two days, the 23rd and 24th.  Dog tracking indicated Laci‘s scent at the marina.  Fishing tackle mostly for freshwater fishing, not saltwater.  Remember, he‘s claiming oh, the reason I had to go to San Francisco Bay is because I wanted to go saltwater fishing.

Well, the problem is his tackle wasn‘t for it.  Message from Sharon Rocha on—we‘ll get into that one later.  More visits to the marina.  He kept going back and back.  Yet, supposedly if, you know, he didn‘t know that Laci‘s body was there, why did he keep going back?  The detective said the fact that at one point he said golfing and other time said fishing.  The list goes on and on. 

You know, Michael, I‘ve been surprised that you didn‘t find—I found this to be very persuasive.  I think this really sort of knocks out of the water the defense‘s argument that oh, they had no business focusing on Scott Peterson because ultimately Detective Grogan was right. 

CARDOZA:  You know—well, is he right?  We don‘t...

ABRAMS:  Yes, they found the body in the bay.  That‘s...

CARDOZA:  All right...

ABRAMS:  ... 41 reasons were...

CARDOZA:  ... they found the body in the bay, but let‘s address that.  In order to believe that he dropped the body in the bay, that body has to be dropped where Peterson was, and it has to remain in that general location for four months.  According to their own expert, he said it came above water, it mineralized at one time, meaning it was exposed to air during that four-month period.  But the coroner of San Francisco has testified in a lot of cases that bodies move as much as five or six miles in a day. 

ABRAMS:  But the body was still there...

CARDOZA:  So do we believe the body stayed there...

ABRAMS:  But the body was—I mean they were right.  They found the body exactly where they said they were going to find it. 

CARDOZA:  Yes, but it wouldn‘t—but Dan, they wouldn‘t stay there.  I mean that‘s not logical that the body would stay there.  You wait for the defense expert in that case.  Now, look at what they talk about with the 41 different things. 

ABRAMS:  Quickly...

CARDOZA:  None of them are real strong.  I mean what, he bought $13 worth of gas?  What‘s that mean? 

ABRAMS:  That they were right.  They were right. 


ABRAMS:  Anyway, all right, Michael Cardoza, Dean Johnson, Lisa Novak, thanks a lot for coming on the program. 

CARDOZA:  You‘re welcome.

JOHNSON:  Thank you Dan.

ABRAMS:  Appreciate it.

Another example of Congress wasting our time and money.  They say they‘re protecting the Pledge of Allegiance, but really, I don‘t know what the purpose of this legislation was that happened the other day because it‘s not going anywhere.  So I ask whether this is just a waste of our time and money. 


ABRAMS:  Coming up, I think the words under God ought to stay in the Pledge of Allegiance, but I don‘t like this new legislation that the House passed at all.  It‘s nonsense.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”, coming up.


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—why we all need to tell our legislators to stop wasting their time and our money passing—quote—

“symbolic legislation”.  Legislation they know will never be enacted and enforced.  The latest nonsense, the measure passed in the House to prevent federal courts from deciding the constitutionality of anything related to the Pledge of Allegiance or its recitation.

The House passed a similar measure with regard to the Defense of Marriage Act, which says states cannot be forced to accept same-sex marriages.  I say nonsense not because of what the legislation seeks to achieve, but how.  To allow the Congress to decide which of their laws can and can‘t be reviewed by courts is to strip the courts of the power. 

To say we want you to stop checking us.  The legislators know that.  This is clearly just election eve gamesmanship.  Think about it.  If this Republican Congress can pass legislation to keep courts out of same-sex marriage and the pledge, what would stop a Democratic Congress in the future from passing laws telling the courts to stay out of cases relating to gun control. 

And this Pledge of Allegiance legislation comes even though the U.S.  Supreme Court will likely allow the recitation in schools of the Pledge with the words “Under God”, as I think they should.  Pandering politicians just want you to feel like they‘re on your side. 

Look, many find certain court rulings infuriating.  I get it.  But if these legislators are really on your side, they‘ll spend their time passing legislation that can actually help your life, make it into law and be enforced or even support judges that share your views on the issues.  Fine.  But if you‘re concerned about the politicization of the courts, this sort of legislation should be your worst nightmare.

I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night in my “Closing Argument” I said many people in Britain are giving al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq exactly what they want, power, by acting as if the terrorists‘ demands to release Brit Ken Bigley are real, putting blame on Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush instead of on the terrorists themselves. 

Vicky Latham from North Carolina, “The stand that our president and the prime minister from England to not negotiate for the release of these people is sad.  They are allowing people to die for a cause that is not working.”

Vicky, again, you seem to be under the mistaken impression that these are real demands.  As I said last night, it‘s as much a demand as the hijackers on 9/11 demanding that the passengers stay in the back and remain quiet that no one would get hurt. 

I also said it‘s hard to blame his family, that they want to do anything possible to save Ken Bigley, but caving to the terrorists would only embolden them to do it again and again. 

Al Wilcox, “She‘s pleading for the life of her son because this man has children and family and probably has an enormous responsibility to that family.  We Americans may not value life, but it‘s refreshing that somebody does.”

You know, come on Al.  That‘s just silly to suggest we‘re not negotiating because we don‘t value life.  We‘re not negotiating because we do. 

I also said these are not kidnappers with a tangible goal unless you consider the demise of the Western world a cause. 

Patrick Orr from Laconia, New Hampshire, “I disagree.  Terrorism always has a goal.  Their real goal is to remove us from the region.”

So, Patrick, you think if we left Iraq and Saudi Arabia, al Qaeda would just close its camps and call it quits?  Apparently, you know very little about al Qaeda.  Creating an Islamic world is their new goal. 

Jurors in the Scott Peterson case saw a videotape taken by investigators of the Peterson home two months after Laci disappeared, including footage of baby Conner‘s room, which is filled with furniture from the warehouse contradicting what Scott had said earlier, that he couldn‘t bear to go in the baby‘s room. 

Actually, we don‘t know if it was from the warehouse, but from Redwood City, California, Carmel Manion.  “How does anybody know it was Scott that put the furniture in Conner‘s room?  Couldn‘t it have been a family member that unloaded the warehouse and put the stuff in there?”  

You know, that would have been one more piece of bad luck for Peterson if that happened. 

Finally, Tuesday one of my guests from North Dakota made a joke saying probably only one Kinko‘s in Texas.  A viewer did some research, compared the number of Kinko‘s in each state.  In the “Rebuttal” last night I said I look forward to the e-mails from North Dakota. 

From Grand Forks, North Dakota, Michael Shirek, “Every North Dakotan knows there are only two Kinko‘s here.  What we all really want to know is why is there only one Hooter‘s in the entire state?”

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I didn‘t think I‘d get through all of those.  Breathe deeply.  The weekend approaches.  I relax. 

See you next week.  “HARDBALL” up next.  Thirty-nine days to go until the election.  Special edition coming up with Chris Matthews. 

Thanks for watching.


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