updated 9/28/2004 3:52:45 AM ET 2004-09-28T07:52:45

Guests: Dean Johnson, Lisa Bloom, John Burris, Jeff Benz

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, big news in the Scott Peterson case, during cross-examination of the lead detective, Peterson‘s lawyer admits Scott Peterson had other affairs while he was married to Laci.  How does that help the defense?


ABRAMS (voice-over):  The defense gets Detective Grogan to admit that Laci‘s family also talked about Laci in the past tense just like Scott and so they ask is it really a big deal.  And the defense tries to show that Peterson really did tell Laci about his affair with Amber Frey. 

Plus, American Olympic Gold Medallist Paul Hamm heads to the sports world‘s highest court to defend his medal.  On the other side an angry South Korean gymnastics‘ team that wants it.  We talk exclusively with one of Hamm‘s Olympic lawyers.

The program about justice starts now.  


ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket, the Scott Peterson murder trial, day 61.  New evidence that just came out in court.  It‘s news you had heard here first that Amber Frey was not Scott Peterson‘s only girlfriend.  But why is the defense bringing this evidence out?

Edie Lambert from NBC affiliate KCRA was inside the courtroom when the bomb was dropped.  Edie, how did it come up? 

EDIE LAMBERT, KCRA REPORTER:  Well, as you said, it came up in cross-examination, which may come as a surprise to some.  To give you the background here, the defense bringing up evidence of two affairs that Scott Peterson had long before he‘d even heard of Amber Frey.  These were from the early days of the Peterson marriage when Scott Peterson was still in college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. 

One of these affairs apparently with a woman that he‘d told he was getting a divorce.  She figured it out when she saw Laci Peterson giving Scott a big kiss at their college graduation and Mark Geragos even put up a graduation photo showing Scott wearing a flowered lei, which cooperated this woman‘s story.  That Scott‘s own wife had given him a flower lei and a big kiss.

The other woman apparently was someone who Scott dated for about five months.  Never told her that he was married.  She figured it out when she actually walked in on Scott and Laci in bed.  She thought she was the one being cheated on and created a big scene.

Now you asked the question why would the defense bring this up?  The answer is if she created that big scene there would be no way that Laci couldn‘t know about the affair and she hadn‘t told friends and family.  Now, fast forward a few years to the Amber Frey affair and more testimony came out on that.  Scott‘s half sister saying that Scott told her all about the affair with Amber Frey saying that he told Laci about it and Laci specifically said please don‘t tell our parents.  I don‘t want them to know. 

And more testimony, Dan, that could tie in with Scott‘s having affairs and that is one of Laci‘s closest friend saying that Laci had revealed to her that the two were no longer having sexual relations late into the pregnancy.  It was no longer a priority. 

Back to you.

ABRAMS:  Edie, very quickly, that came out on the cross-examination also of Detective Grogan?

LAMBERT:  Yes, it did.  Talking about Renee Tomlinson telling Detective Grogan intimate details about the...

ABRAMS:  All right.

LAMBERT:  ... Petersons‘ sex life...

ABRAMS:  Stick around Edie.  We‘re going to check back in with you on all—there is a lot of news in Peterson today.  All right, “My Take” on what we just heard.  This is a smart move, I say, for the defense.  Yes, it‘s risky, but these jurors already know Scott Peterson is the lowest of the low as a person, a liar, a cheater, an all around slime bag, so this can‘t really hurt him there. 

It might help him if prosecutors rely too heavily on Amber as the motive.  It could provide the defense with an opening to say, come on, he killed Laci for her, but not for her or her.  I mean it‘s not a great argument, but on balance I think Geragos made the right call.

Let‘s bring in our legal team—Court TV anchor, civil rights attorney, Lisa Bloom, in the courtroom for us today, former San Mateo County prosecutor Dean Johnson.  All right, Dean, first let me ask you, right call? 

DEAN JOHNSON, FMR. SAN MATEO COUNTY PROSECUTOR:  Yes, I think it‘s a good call.  I mean Geragos knows that this jury can‘t think any less of Scott Peterson and this helps him on a couple of points.  First of all, Geragos set up this straw man right in the beginning, saying look, he‘s a philanderer, but they‘re saying that Amber Frey is the motive.  Amber can‘t be the motive.  There have been affairs before and Laci never died. 

And secondly, remember those media interviews where Scott Peterson says hey, Laci knew all about the affairs and she was OK with it.  The reporters respond, you mean she knew all—about all the affairs and she was OK with it?  Well, this shows that Laci can know about affairs...

ABRAMS:  Well...

JOHNSON:  ... maybe not be OK with it, but at least live with it.  So, it does...

ABRAMS:  ... but what about this?

JOHNSON:  ... a couple of things for the defense. 

ABRAMS:  What about this, Dean Johnson?  Let‘s listen to Diane Sawyer interview played in court.


DIANE SAWYER, CO-ANCHOR, “GOOD MORNING AMERICA”:  Was this the first time?  Are there others out there? 


SAWYER:  There‘s no one else who can come forward? 

PETERSON:  No.  I owe a tremendous apology to everyone. 


ABRAMS:  This guy is a piece of work.  All right, Lisa, so...


ABRAMS:  ... what do you make of it? 


ABRAMS:  I mean do you agree with Dean and I that the bottom line is that this is probably the right move by Mark Geragos. 

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV:  Yes, I think it probably is.  I think I‘d object to Diane Sawyer‘s question as vague and ambiguous.  I mean she‘s saying did he ever have another affair or are there others out there like Amber Frey who are going to come forward.  Unfortunately, the question wasn‘t all that specific. 

But look, we know that Scott Peterson utterly disrespected Laci.  It‘s one thing to have an affair when you‘re in college, when you‘re newly married.  That‘s a little different than when your wife is eight months pregnant.  You know, is having difficulty walking and breathing and really needs you around and you‘re sneaking out to a Christmas party with somebody else. 

I think he loves that playboy lifestyle.  I think the prosecutors are saying not that he killed so that he could be with Amber Frey, but so he could continue that lifestyle.  He was addicted to it, Dan.  This is a guy who carried Viagra around with him everywhere he goes.  He didn‘t want to give up that lifestyle. 

ABRAMS:  But isn‘t it—but isn‘t there some level of risk, Dean?  I mean you know so far these jurors know about Amber Frey.  All right, they can‘t like Scott Peterson as a guy, but some people are going to say it‘s a little risky for the defense attorney in cross-examination to start saying oh, you know what, my client had other affairs, other extra-marital affairs on the woman who is the subject of this case as well. 

JOHNSON:  Yes, that is the down side and Lisa really put her finger on it.  The prosecution is going to say it wasn‘t about Amber Frey.  It was about this lifestyle.  And what the defense may be doing...

ABRAMS:  Well they better say it...

JOHNSON:  ... here is convincing this jury very solidly that this was a longstanding lifestyle and he was worried that the lifestyle was going to come to an end because one thing was different now Laci was pregnant.  She was about to have their first child...

ABRAMS:  Yes...

JOHNSON:  ... and she was going to cut off this lifestyle...

ABRAMS:  Well...

JOHNSON:  By the way, I wish Lisa was at counsel table because one thing we‘re not hearing from the prosecution here is objection and all of this is hearsay, multiple hearsay.  I counted four levels of hearsay in there today—nothing from the prosecution. 

BLOOM:  Yes, but you know what they‘re doing Dan, is the prosecution used Detective Grogan to basically make their closing argument...


BLOOM:  ... now Geragos is turning that around, showing all the holes in the investigation making his closing argument through the cross-examination of Grogan.

ABRAMS:  This—let me read you this from the California Department of Justice.  Again, you saw this first here.  This is their profiler report and it said, although Scott reported his marriage to Laci had not experienced serious problems, a young woman—name deleted - who said she had an ongoing sexual relationship with Scott for several months in 1998 contacted investigators.  The young woman said the relationship ended after she unexpectedly visited a house Scott shared with several other men and found Scott and Laci in bed together.


ABRAMS:  What about...

BLOOM:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... you know, what about the fact that, you know, that this sort of belies all of this, belies the idea that they had this sort of—this idyllic marriage.  I mean I guess it is hard to believe that they had an idyllic marriage when you know about what was going on with Amber Frey, right Lisa?

BLOOM:  Yes, I think Scott Peterson was living a double life and I don‘t think it‘s something we take lightly and say oh, he‘s just a guy who had affairs.  I mean he has an elaborate double life and it‘s going to come crashing down on him when Laci gave birth to that baby.  And by the way, did he tell any of these other women besides Amber Frey that he had lost his wife and this would be his first holiday season without her.  I don‘t think so.  I think things were rapidly changing.  I think it was different with Amber Frey Christmas 2002. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me take a quick break here.  We‘ve got a lot more on the Peterson case.  A lot of the stuff came out in court today.  Also, more items that the defense says help its case.

And coming up, American Gold Medallist Paul Hamm goes to Switzerland with a team of lawyers to defend his medal.  The South Koreans say that medal is rightly theirs.  We‘ll hear from Hamm and talk exclusively with one of his lawyers who has just left that hearing in Switzerland.

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


ABRAMS:  Coming up, the lead detective in the Scott Peterson case admits Laci‘s family referred to Laci in the past tense before she was found just like Scott did, so does that mean it‘s really not that incriminating? 


ABRAMS:  All right.  We‘re continuing with our coverage of the Scott Peterson case.  We‘ve been talking about the fact that in court defense attorney Mark Geragos conceding, if not bringing up the fact that Peterson had other affairs apart from Amber Frey.  There was also other news coming out of that cross-examination.

We go back to Edie Lambert, NBC affiliate KCRA inside the courtroom. 

All right, so what were the other big points Edie?

LAMBERT:  Well as you know, under the prosecution‘s questioning, the lead detective, Craig Grogan, went through all of the reason that he thought that Scott Peterson was suspicious—today Geragos attacking those point by point. 

Let‘s start with the fact that Scott Peterson referred to his wife and son in the past tense during media interviews, a lot made of that.  Well Geragos said guess who else talked about them in the past tense?  Laci Peterson‘s brother, Brent Rocha and her mother, Sharon Rocha in interviews with local and national media, saying you know when people are in this kind of situation, that can just happen.  It may not be such a big deal.

Also looking at Scott Peterson‘s boat.  Mark Geragos brought up the point that Scott really shopped around for this boat.  He found one specifically that was registered.  He didn‘t go for the cheapest one he could find.  Geragos asking Detective Grogan directly if you were just going to get a boat to dump your dead wife‘s body, wouldn‘t you get one as cheap as possible and one that was not registered? 

Finally, as you know, it‘s the defense theory that Laci Peterson was abducted while she was walking possibly because she was wearing a lot of jewelry—Geragos talking about that jewelry today and also talking about the fact that she definitely could walk.  In fact, they had defense video of a yoga studio where Laci had gone just four days before she disappeared, showing a steep flight of stairs, the only way to get up to that class.  Laci had attended that class.  Of course, the implication being that she was just fine; she could have walked the dog.  And also more testimony that her mother said she walked the dog just about every day. 

And finally, Dan, another theory of who might have killed Laci Peterson—it may have been a case of mistaken identity, according to Mark Geragos.  He said that there was a deputy D.A. who lived very close to Laci, she was pregnant, about two months more pregnant than Laci had been, fairly short, dark hair, walked a golden retriever whose name was McKenzie and she had been threatened by someone that she had prosecuted.  So the implication coming out of that, perhaps it was a case of mistaken identity, this guy coming into the neighborhood looking for the deputy D.A. and going after Laci instead.

Back to you.

ABRAMS:  All right, Edie, again, stick around.  Thanks very much.

All right, let‘s take these issues one by one.  First, the fact that there, you know, may have been a relative out there who Scott Peterson told about his affair with Amber Frey, pretty consistent with what he told Diane Sawyer and again played in court.  Let‘s listen.


SAWYER:  Do you really expect people to believe that an eight and a half month pregnant woman learns her husband is having an affair and is saintly and casual about it?  Accommodating?  Makes a peace with it? 

PETERSON:  Well, yes.  You don‘t know—no one knows our relationship but us and that‘s—at peace with it, not happy about it. 


ABRAMS:  Dean Johnson, was this a big point for the defense? 

JOHNSON:  Oh, I don‘t think it is a huge point, but you‘ve got to wonder if Scott Peterson is so open about this affair with Amber Frey and doesn‘t mind telling his relatives as the defense would contend, why is it that when Detective Grogan confronts him and says look, do you have any affairs, almost telling Scott Peterson that look, we want to talk to anybody that may be involved in this, including any possible girlfriends, then Scott decides to lie about it.  I mean if he can be open to his relatives, why can‘t he be open to the police? 

ABRAMS:  Why not, John Burris, defense attorney who joins us now.

JOHN BURRIS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, I don‘t know the fact that he wasn‘t necessarily candid about it to the police is equivalent to the relatives himself.  He may have a personal private relationship with the relatives but he doesn‘t have one with the police.  I think, though, this is important for him...


BURRIS:  ... it‘s important for him to be able to say this whole question about having multiple relationships, the fact that he wasn‘t openly candid at the time in and of itself doesn‘t prove motive.  And I think the fact that he has other relationships in and of itself belies this whole question of how important Amber was in the grand scheme of things in order to support this prosecution theory of motive. 


JOHNSON:  But John, if you really want to cooperate with the police and you really want to, as Scott says, help them in every way to find Laci, wouldn‘t you tell them everything they need to know? 


BURRIS:  I don‘t think that‘s—no, I don‘t think he would tell it necessarily to be candid about everything about a personal relationship.  He might think that Laci will be found very soon and therefore there‘s no need to know anything about the personal relationship...

BLOOM:  Oh come on, I mean Dan...

JOHNSON:  Come on, come on John...

ABRAMS:  Let Lisa...


ABRAMS:  Lisa, Lisa, Lisa...


ABRAMS:  Hang on.  Hang on.  Lisa, Lisa, go ahead...


BURRIS:  It‘s not my wife...


BLOOM:  What kind of upside down world do we live in...


BURRIS:  It‘s his relationship...


ABRAMS:  Hang on.  Hang on.  Hang on. 


ABRAMS:  One at a time.  Go ahead Lisa.

BLOOM:  Scott Peterson tells his wife about his girlfriend but his girlfriend doesn‘t know about his wife.  Bring on this relative.  Let‘s see her testify.  Let‘s see her cross-examined.  I mean I may be able to believe really that Laci, but that‘s going to take a lot of convincing I think...

ABRAMS:  Well here‘s what Scott Peterson told Amber...


ABRAMS:  ... about it.  Let‘s listen.


AMBER FREY, SCOTT PETERSON‘S FORMER GIRLFRIEND:  But I‘m saying now, was  Laci aware of the situation about me?


FREY:  She was?


FREY:  Really?  How did she respond about it?


FREY:  Fine?


FREY:  An eight-month woman, fine about another woman...

PETERSON:  You don‘t know all the facts.  Amber, you don‘t know all the facts.

FREY:  Oh, she was OK with it, but you continued to lie to me and couldn‘t be with me the holidays, but she was OK, she was fine with knowing about me?



ABRAMS:  Amber is almost better than Diane Sawyer on this.  All right, let me go to issue two and that is this issue of the past tense.  The fact that some of Laci‘s family members had even talked about Laci in the past tense before she was found.  Quick—number 7-C (ph) here, very quickly, a lot of people made a big deal about this particular piece of sound from “Good Morning America” played in court. 


SAWYER:  What kind of marriage was it? 

PETERSON:  God, the first thing that comes to mind is glorious.  I mean we took care of each other very well.  She was amazing—is amazing. 


ABRAMS:  All right, so Lisa, this issue—this is kind of a non-issue, isn‘t it?

BLOOM:  You know, Dan, the first word that comes to mind is liar. 

Throughout this Diane Sawyer interview he looks down whenever he...

ABRAMS:  All right, but let‘s just...


ABRAMS:  ... focus on the issue of the past tense.  I mean the fact that he...

BLOOM:  Oh, I say score one for the defense, absolutely on that one...


BLOOM:  The prosecution should never have raised it.  Who cares if he refers to her in the past tense or the present tense...


BLOOM:  ... irrelevant.

ABRAMS:  Dean, you agree with that, right? 

JOHNSON:  Yes, I think so.  I don‘t think it was ever a huge issue. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Now, let me take a break here.  Because what we‘re going to do when we come back, this is one of the big points the defense is trying to make, is that Scott Peterson was cooperative with the authorities throughout.  We‘ll talk about that. 

And you might think winning an Olympic Gold Medal is hard enough, but today Paul Hamm had to defend his medal along with a team of lawyers against an angry South Korean gymnastics‘ team that says they deserve it.  Coming up.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What‘s your level of cooperation in this? 

PETERSON:  It‘s complete.  I know that Laci‘s family doesn‘t feel that, and that‘s unfortunate.  And I think the police did make a statement at one point, somewhat cooperated I think was the exact word, if I‘m mistaken there and I know—I don‘t know.  I think they regret that and since then they simply don‘t comment.  But I have sat down with detectives on numerous occasions, including the night of her disappearance, including the next days, and continued to, you know, receive phone calls from them and talked to them on the phone. 


ABRAMS:  That was an interview of Scott Peterson played in court.  That was from KTVU interview with Ted Rowlands.  And there you hear Scott Peterson saying that he was very cooperative. 

Detective Grogan today, the lead detective in court, saying yes, that he was cooperative.  But John Burris, so what?  I mean so he helped the investigation.  If he hadn‘t helped, he would have automatically been pegged as the chief suspect. 

BURRIS:  Well, that‘s true if he had not helped, but to the extent that he did help, he will get credit for it perhaps with the jury.  I think it‘s—you can‘t say it‘s a negative.  It‘s a positive...

ABRAMS:  It‘s not a negative, but the defense...

BURRIS:  It‘s a positive...

ABRAMS:  ... is sort of making it out as if oh, well Scott was always cooperative.  I mean...

BURRIS:  Well sure, but it‘s an important point for them.  Not the greatest point, but it is a point that they need because there‘s been so much character evidence saying he did not act like a victim he did not act like a person whose wife was missing.  And so here‘s evidence that shows that on a consistent basis he did cooperate.  So from the point of view of the defense, it is a huge point because it offsets a lot of this character evidence that he wasn‘t cooperative. 

ABRAMS:  All right, is Edie Lambert still with us?  All right, I want to ask her a question about the boats, purchasing the boat.  Bottom line, Edie, the defense is trying to say what with regard to the issue of the boat?  What was the prosecution trying to say?  What is the defense saying?

LAMBERT:  The bottom line is there is absolutely nothing suspicious with Scott buying this boat, according to the defense.  That Laci knew about it.  She had been in the warehouse.  That testimony came up earlier.

That this was not a spur of the moment decision.  That he took his time.  He looked around.  He shopped around for the boat and he didn‘t buy the cheapest one he could find and he went out of his way to make sure that it was registered.  Of course, the prosecutors say that hey, look, the day after Scott is confronted about being married to Laci by Amber Frey‘s best friend, he starts researching the boat, buys this in a hurry.  Two weeks later his wife disappears.  Looks a little suspicious...

ABRAMS:  Yes and also the timing of it, of course.  And the prosecutor is saying look, no one really knew about this boat.  Laci didn‘t know about it.  Laci‘s family didn‘t know about it.  There‘s a big debate about that.

Let me read you a little piece...

LAMBERT:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... of the cross-examination of Detective Grogan about the issue of the boat. 

Geragos:  You asked Scott Peterson if he looked at any other boats?

Grogan:  Yes.

Specifically he told you, he gave you descriptions of two other boats he was looking at.

Grogan:  Yes.

Were you able to follow up on either of these?

I sent a detective to follow up.  He was able to find the first boat, a 15‘ boat, but unable to find the second.

Scott described the boat as garbage.  Do you know the price?

I think it was $900.

Geragos:  If you‘re going to buy this boat for one time to dump your wife in the bay, wouldn‘t you buy the cheaper boat?

BLOOM:  Oh, come on...

ABRAMS:  Lisa, you don‘t like that (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

BLOOM:  Oh, come on.  Where is it written you can only dispose of a body in an expensive boat?  I mean Scott Peterson is a fisherman.  He liked it.  He kept the boat.  He didn‘t dispose of the boat too...

ABRAMS:  Wait...


ABRAMS:  He‘s either a fisherman or he‘s not a fisherman.  You know, the prosecutors are essentially saying he wasn‘t really a fisherman.  You know, this is a guy who rarely fished, who buys a two-day fishing pass...

BLOOM:  Well the defense says he‘s been fishing since he was a little boy...

ABRAMS:  I understand...

BLOOM:  ... and that he loves it.

ABRAMS:  ... but you‘re siding with the prosecutors here, so you‘ve got to stick with one theory.  Either he‘s a fisherman or he‘s not a fisherman...

BLOOM:  No, I‘m just saying you can dispose of a body in any kind of a boat.  It makes no difference the extent to which he shopped for it or how much money he paid for it.  That‘s irrelevant to the issue...


BURRIS:  You know what?  You say it‘s not relevant, it is relevant

when you consider the grand scheme of circumstantial evidence.  If your

theory of the case was he went out and bought this boat in a hurry, so he -

·         he had a predisposition to kill his wife, then this undercuts that particular theory because he went out and made a lot of efforts to buy it and his wife knew about it...


BURRIS:  ... and he did a lot of effort (UNINTELLIGIBLE) so it belies...


ABRAMS:  Hang on.  Hang on.


ABRAMS:  Dean Johnson, there was also an issue about the boat‘s...

JOHNSON:  Come on.  Look...

ABRAMS:  Dean, there was also an issue...


ABRAMS:  Hang on.  Hang on.  Hang on.  There was also an issue about the boat‘s registration, right?

BURRIS:  Right, there is an issue...

ABRAMS:  Hang on.  Dean, Dean—go ahead Dean.

JOHNSON:  Yes, there was an issue about the boat‘s registration, but it seems fairly clear that the boat was registered not by Scott Peterson but by Bruce Peterson, the original owner of the boat.  The documents are filled out and submitted to the Department of Motor Vehicles by the seller, not the buyer.  So Scott really didn‘t have any choice in that. 

ABRAMS:  All right...

BURRIS:  Well, he could have bought a boat that was substantially not registered.  If you really want to buy a boat to kill your wife you can get it on the black market.  You don‘t have to do...

BLOOM:  You know, it‘s not a perfect...

ABRAMS:  The boat—wait.  Wait.  The boat black market—I didn‘t know about the boat black market. 

BURRIS:  There‘s a black market for everything you want to buy in life...


BURRIS:  ... period. 

JOHNSON:  Come on John.

ABRAMS:  All right.  My guests are all sticking around.  Lisa Bloom, John Burris, Dean Johnson, and Edie Lambert is with us.

Coming up, prosecutors say that they want to wrap-up the case soon.  We heard this week they still have three major witnesses to go.  We‘re going to talk about who they are.  One of them is a big, big witness according to prosecutors. 

And he won gold in Athens, now Paul Hamm is trying to win in court to keep his medal.  He has to fight for it.  We‘re going to talk exclusively to one of the lawyers fighting his case for him against the South Koreans.

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


ABRAMS:  Coming up, after today‘s bombshell about Scott Peterson‘s other affairs, prosecutors still have a number of major witnesses still to come.  What is next for the case, but first the headlines. 


ABRAMS:  We are back—continuing our coverage of the Laci Peterson case.  Before we go back to Edie Lambert to talk about what‘s coming up next, I want to just talk about this big bombshell that came up in court.  Mark Geragos, lead defense attorney, asking on cross-examination of the lead detective saying you know what, Scott Peterson had other affairs, didn‘t he?

Let‘s go to number seven here—talking about one, a five-month relationship, woman apparently unaware of Peterson‘s marriage.  Also a two-month relationship where Peterson told her he was in the process of a divorce.  You know, my problem with this, John Burris, is that we‘re talking about Scott Peterson‘s, I believe it‘s half sister‘s stepsister is supposedly the one who mentions this to the police.  I mean, you know, if Scott Peterson is out talking about this and admitting this it‘s, you know, a little difficult to believe that the only one who comes to police and says yes, Scott told me about it, is the half sister‘s stepsister. 

BURRIS:  Well I don‘t know that he sounded the trumpets to the whole world to let everyone know he had an affair—multiple affairs.  But it does speak to the question of whether or not Amber Frey was so special that he was prepared to kill his wife when he‘s had not only one, multiple affairs, he probably was prepared to have more affairs.

If anything, it wouldn‘t suggest that would be the motive and so I think, again, regardless of who has said it, I think the jury probably will believe that he‘s had more than one affair...

ABRAMS:  Right...

BURRIS:  ... once it comes out and that undercuts this particular motive.  Then you have to go to another reason as to why this particular homicide happened if you believe that it happened that way. 

ABRAMS:  But this is a separate question.  This is the question of did he tell Laci or not about his affair with Amber Frey?  Was he lying about that?  Here is a little bit of the cross-examination.

Geragos:  You asked her whether Scott had said anything to Laci about Amber?  She specifically told you that Laci did not.  Laci didn‘t like it and didn‘t want her mother to know about the affair.

And then Detective Grogan:  That is what she told me.

Geragos:  She said that Scott Peterson said that Laci was very pissed off when he told her?


That they were going to get through it, but Laci was upset?


And she insisted that Scott Peterson insisted—you know, I can read the whole thing, but you know, this is like—I mean Dean made this point before, hearsay on top of hearsay on top of hearsay from the half sister‘s stepsister.  Right, Dean? 

JOHNSON:  Yes, exactly.  And that‘s one of the themes of today, is this incredible pacifity by the prosecution.  I mean it‘s like a gossip fest in there, four levels of hearsay...


JOHNSON:  ... you know why doesn‘t the prosecution jump up and do something about this?  I think that their strategy, if want you to call it that, is to let Geragos bring out all of this ridiculous stuff and then try to come back and rebut it.  But I don‘t know, any prosecutor I know who is worth their salt would be up there cutting this off.

BURRIS:  But Dean, how could they really do that when they themselves presented a whole case full of gossip themselves on multiple hearsays...


BURRIS:  They did all of that...


JOHNSON:  John, you want to know how...


BLOOM:  Keep in mind, by the way...

BURRIS:  Because they have a circumstantial evidence case. 

BLOOM:  ... that this report comes from Scott Peterson‘s own mouth...

JOHNSON:  John...

ABRAMS:  Lisa Bloom, go ahead.

BLOOM:  Yes, this report comes from Scott Peterson‘s own mouth.  The stepsister of the half sister says that Scott Peterson told her that he told Laci.  So how much evidentiary value does that even have? 

ABRAMS:  All right.

BLOOM:  It all comes from Scott.

BURRIS:  I don‘t know that—I don‘t even know that the important part is whether the jury is going to believe it...


BURRIS:  ... if they give any value to it at all...

ABRAMS:  I agree...

BURRIS:  ... if they do, then that‘s going to be important for Scott. 

The prosecution probably should have kept it out, but they didn‘t...

ABRAMS:  Edie—all right, Edie Lambert, we‘ve got to lay out what is happening coming up.  We kept hearing Thursday the prosecution is going to end its case this Thursday.  That‘s not really going to happen, is it? 

LAMBERT:  Well, the prosecutors added three more witness to the list this week, so we‘ll see if they are able to wrap this up on Thursday...

ABRAMS:  So six more...


ABRAMS:  ... so six more witnesses...

LAMBERT:  The big expert they were expecting after the lead detective, Craig Grogan, is the title expert.  Prosecutors began setting the stage for this last week, showing the jury a video of the areas where Scott went fishing and the proximity of that site to the areas where the bodies of Laci and Conner washed up.  You‘re seeing that video right now.  Now this expert is expected to say that in order for Laci and Conner‘s remains to wash up where they did, the bodies would have had to be thrown right exactly where Peterson said he went fishing. 

Also the jury has not yet heard what Modesto police found in Peterson‘s Mercedes when he was arrested.  They heard the Department of Justice agent found a lot of money.  They haven‘t heard about all of the other things in that car from Viagra to camping gear.

Also, we may be hearing from the man who sold Scott Peterson the Mercedes.  Scott buying that under a different name.  And one of the investigators who collected some of that debris near Conner‘s body.  The prosecutors had made it sound like that was all collected at the same time and in fact the debris was collected two months later, so we‘re expecting the prosecutors to clear that up. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  So, this—it doesn‘t sound to me like this case is going to—the prosecution‘s case is going to wrap up this week.  But Dean, this is the crux of it.  I mean that title expert is so important because, you know, they can literally put the body‘s location in the water to the exact point where Scott Peterson says that he was fishing that day.  That‘s pretty powerful. 

JOHNSON:  That‘s tremendously powerful.  I‘ve been saying they were going to finish with that witness for weeks and they should.  With the testimony that we‘ve got in now and with the title expert, the prosecution is in a position to say that Laci‘s body was disposed of on December the 24th, at Brooks Landing and there is only one person in the population of the whole world who was at that location at that time and that‘s the defendant. 

ABRAMS:  Lisa, there have been other witnesses, though, have there not, that have suggested what the defense would like to say which is well, it‘s tough to nail down exactly, you know, it can vary up to five or six miles or so, right?

BLOOM:  Well, I don‘t recall hearing that so far.  We know that the defense is going to call witnesses like that.  I‘m sure Geragos is going to try to tear apart this expert on cross-examination.  I‘d be surprised, frankly, if the expert said that the bodies had to start out at the exact point where Scott Peterson went fishing.  That would sound a little fishy to me, but if they get close enough, you know, plus or minus a couple of yards...

ABRAMS:  Right.  Right.  Right.  When I say exact—I mean he can‘t tell you exactly where he went fishing.  He can tell you basically he was near, you know, Brooks Island, et cetera, and if they can say, OK, it was within, you know, even a quarter mile...

BLOOM:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... of the place where he went fishing...

ABRAMS:  Yes, exactly.  Plus or minus.  The defense theory that somebody planted the bodies there after all the publicity came out against Scott Peterson, I mean I just don‘t see how that‘s going to fly given the timing of the body, Conner Peterson‘s age (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it‘s already come in, the dog sniffing four days after Laci goes missing and detecting her scent there.  I think the prosecution is slowly, but surely tightening the noose and doing it very effectively with these water experts...

BURRIS:  You know, I think this cross-examination will be extraordinarily important because Mark Geragos really does have to show that it‘s not reliable, it‘s scientifically (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and you can‘t really prove this particular point.  It‘s all speculation at best and he will have his own person that will say likewise, that you really can‘t demonstrate that with any degree of certainty...


BURRIS:  ... on this.  And if he does well, then that will belie this particular point, even though it may be...


BURRIS:  ... significant on its face, but once—when you really get down to it, I don‘t believe he can put this person bear with any degree of 50 yards or 20 yards or something like that.  If he puts them five miles away, that‘s one thing.

ABRAMS:  Yes, but the bottom line is that the bodies ended up washing up almost exactly where the authorities were looking for the bodies, John...

BURRIS:  ... it‘s not good...


ABRAMS:  Yes, yes, yes...

BURRIS:  ... it‘s just not good.  The question is how scientifically can you come to predicting where it was done...

ABRAMS:  That‘s right.  That‘s right...

BURRIS:  ... and if it‘s not close, well then I think Mark still has a lot to talk about...

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well, we‘ve always got a lot to talk about, about this case.  What a great panel.  Lisa, Dean, John, thanks a lot for coming on the program.

BLOOM:  Thanks.

JOHNSON:  Thank you Dan.

ABRAMS:  Appreciate it.

Coming up, from the Olympic stage to a Swiss courtroom.  Gymnast Gold Medallist Paul Hamm in court defending his medal.  Can an international court really take his medal away?

And later your e-mails on the Kobe Bryant case.  On Friday we debated whether journalists still have an ethical obligation to protect the identity of the accuser now that the criminal case has been dropped.  Your responses coming up. 



PAUL HAMM, OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALLIST:  Well, that‘s why we‘re all here to, you know, keep the medal and hopefully after this is all done with, the medal will stay with me. 


ABRAMS:  U.S. Gold Medallist Paul Hamm earlier today.  Remember, he was the first American gymnast ever to win the men‘s all-around gold for gymnastics.  But the South Koreans are calling for Hamm to give it up, saying that their bronze medallist actually deserves the gold.  Now they‘re taking Hamm to court to try to get the medal.  Both athletes were in Switzerland today at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.  Sort of the Supreme Court for the sport‘s world.  We‘ll talk to the attorney representing Hamm in a moment, but first NBC‘s Dawna Friesen has the story.


DAWNA FRIESEN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  From the gym to a Swiss courtroom it‘s unfamiliar territory for America‘s Gold Medal gymnast, but Paul Hamm says he‘s feeling confident. 

HAMM:  I still believe that I was the true champion that night and that‘s not going to change. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Paul Hamm has done something no American has ever done.

FRIESEN:  Since that medal ceremony, Hamm‘s gold has been tainted by claims it should have gone to the man standing on the right, South Korean Yang Tae-young.  Hamm‘s performance wasn‘t perfect. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He‘s not going to be the Olympic all around champion after that.

FRIESEN:  But he clawed his way back beating two South Koreans by a whisper.  Then it emerged three judges had made an error unfairly deducting one-tenth of a point from Yang, a mistake the South Koreans believe cost him the gold.  The International Gymnastics Federation asked Hamm to give up his gold as an act of fair play, but he‘s refused.

HAMM:  It would not be an easy thing for me to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) my gold, but we‘re very confident.  You know we have a lot of people helping us.

FRIESEN:  Pressure on the 22-year-old has been enormous.  Many believe he‘s being asked to atone for errors the judges made and he admits whatever happens, the world will always remember him as the one who had to fight to keep his gold. 

Dawna Friesen, NBC News, London.


ABRAMS:  Paul Hamm spoke to the media in a conference call after the nearly 12-hour long court session today. 


HAMM (via phone):  Well, I just thought everything went very smoothly today.  It was a very fair hearing and everyone got a chance to say what they thought and we are looking forward to the decision and hopefully it will come soon. 


ABRAMS:  Attorney Jeff Benz was there with Paul Hamm today.  He‘s the general counsel for the USOC, which represented Hamm in court and he joins us exclusively from Lausanne (ph), Switzerland.

Thanks so much for joining us.  I think the question everyone is wondering is, is there a real chance that Paul Hamm is going to have return his gold medal?  I mean did things possibly go that badly? 

JEFF BENZ, USOC GENERAL COUNSEL:  Well, the Court of Arbitration for Sport makes those decisions.  We‘re pleased with the presentation of evidence and argument that we made today.  We‘re confident in our presentation.  We‘re confident that the court heard what we had to say and gave us and the other side every opportunity to present our arguments.  But it really is up to the court to decide and I‘m not going to second-guess what it is that they will do here.  But I will tell you that we are more than hopeful that Paul Hamm is going to retain his medal. 

ABRAMS:  You know, some have described the U.S. argument as procedural, saying in essence that you know, there is no question that these judges got the numbers wrong at the beginning and what effectively the U.S. is saying is well, you didn‘t say it at the right time.  And you didn‘t go through the right process.  But I would assume you‘d argue it‘s more than just procedural, isn‘t it?

BENZ:  It is absolutely more than procedure.  This case—at the core of our argument is the idea that certain decisions are human in nature.  They‘re made by judges.  They‘re made at the time that an event goes on.  They‘re made on the field of play and those decisions have no place in the court or anywhere else close to the sporting arena aside from in the hands of the judges and professionals that are appointed or assigned to handle those tasks.  We do make an argument as a secondary argument that the appeal was not filed in time for it to be valid and we also make an argument that the idea that you would simply look at this one event to determine the outcome of the all-around event is unrealistic.  It doesn‘t reflect what goes on in the gymnastics‘ competition.  It would be speculation to suggest that any change in this event would affect the outcome.

ABRAMS:  Because even if, you know, even assuming the judges were wrong, you can‘t necessarily know how things would have gone from there, right?  Isn‘t that sort of the core of the problem here? 

BENZ:  It is the core of the problem.  It‘s not unlike what you see in American football games with respect to after the game perhaps on Monday looking at the outcome of a game and reviewing it on videotape and deciding that the referee made the wrong call.  The referee is assigned to make the call.  They are the people with the power to make the call. 

They make the call and in this case they made the call as they saw it from the angle where they were sitting.  And the idea that the outcome of this one event taken in isolation should affect the outcome of a very dynamic process that involves multiple events, human psyche and athletic performance is simply wrong. 

ABRAMS:  Is...

BENZ:  It cannot be done.

ABRAMS:  Is Paul Hamm irritated that he has to go through this?  I mean the fact that he has to travel all the way over there (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a courtroom.  I mean this guy is an Olympic gymnast and suddenly he‘s hanging out with a bunch of lawyers. 

BENZ:  Well, there perhaps aren‘t worse things to do than to hang out with a bunch of lawyers in Switzerland.  But, from my discussions with Mr.  Hamm, he seems to be pleased that he‘s had his opportunity to have his case heard, have it heard by—in a full and fair way, and have it heard by impartial and disinterested individuals in a way that will put an end to speculation over what will happen to his medal and finally we hope recognize that he is the true Olympic champion. 

ABRAMS:  Jeff Benz, good luck.  Thanks very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

BENZ:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the woman who accused Kobe Bryant of rape.  Now the criminal charges have been dropped.  Only a civil case remains.  Should the press reveal her identity?  Many of you wrote in on this topic.  Your e-mails coming up.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, why I‘m tired of hearing people compare the Florida election debacle of 2000 to the voting problems in third world or fledgling nations.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument” - why I‘m tired of hearing people compare the Florida election debacle of 2000 to the voting problems in third world or fledgling nations.  It just detracts from the serious problem that did and do exist in our own voting system. 

The latest salvo from former President Jimmy Carter in an op-ed piece in “The Washington Post”.  While President Carter makes some important points about the continuing problems with Florida‘s voting procedures, he loses credibility by taking seriously those who said that his organization, The Carter Center, should observe the election in Florida the same way they did in Venezuela, Indonesia and Mozambique. 

Now he‘s right.  We may see a repeat of some of the problems in Florida.  There are issues that should have been remedied years ago.  But discussing the Florida election and Mozambique in the same sentence is just inflammatory and partisan silliness.  When you make that kind of comparison, many like me are just going to tune out rather than focus on the real problems.  I venture to say that if any voting system were scrutinized as closely as Florida in 2000, warts would appear. 

Many other nations are dealing with voting systems covered in tumors.  Remember those 13 Democrats in the House asked the U.N. to monitor the election the way the U.N. had many war-torn countries?  That‘s not happening.  And while there are some international organizations coming to watch the voting, Americans aren‘t going to stand for international monitors telling us how our election can or should be run.  No, Americans like President Carter should effort change, we need it.  But when you throw in overstated comparisons to countries with massive voter problem, don‘t expect people to listen. 

All right, I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  On Friday in my “Closing Argument” I said our legislators need to stop wasting their time and our money passing legislation they know will never be enacted and enforced like the recent measure passed in the House to prevent federal courts from deciding the constitutionality of anything related to the Pledge of Allegiance or its recitation and the Defense of Marriage Act which says states cannot be forced to accept same sex marriages. 

I said to allow the Congress to decide which of their laws can and can‘t be reviewed by the courts it‘s effectively an effort to try to strip the courts of any power saying we want to you stop checking us.  From Midland, Texas, Laurie Hall writes, “I want them to fight for the Federal Marriage Amendment and for under God to stay in the Pledge of Allegiance.  We vote for our representatives so that our voice will be heard.  Have you forgotten what their job is?”

You know, gosh, Laurie, I thought that they were there to pass real laws.  It‘s my bad.  I also said this is premature since the U.S. Supreme court will likely allow the recitation of the words under god in schools as I think they should. 

Dennis Lopez DeVinaspre in Vallejo, California, “You said that the phrase under God in the Pledge of Allegiance did not bother you.  I‘m an atheist and the phrase bothers me.  Would you be comfortable reciting the Pledge of Allegiance if the phrase under God was replaced with under Allah?  I‘m beginning to think your show is more about ratings than it is about justice.”

All right.  Dennis, first start with our money.  All of it says under

god.  I‘d start there if I were you.  Then in our courtrooms as well and

some of the documents from our founding fathers.  Since none of them say

under Allah, I think I‘m going to stick with what the founding fathers used

·         under God. 

Also on Friday, we debated whether journalists still have an ethical obligation to protect the identity of the accuser in the Kobe Bryant case now that the criminal case is gone and she‘s suing Bryant for money in civil court. 

D.O. Consull writes, “I say release her name.  No criminal action pending, no entitlement to anonymity.  She is now a plaintiff, nothing more.”

From Cambrian Heights, New York, Allison Benjamin, “It would not add anything to the Kobe Bryant story to reveal the accuser‘s name.”

Finally, the prosecution in the Scott Peterson case showed jurors home video of Laci and a friend taken by Scott less than six months before she disappeared.  We talked about the fact that it seems to cut both ways.  On the one hand, it humanizes Laci, but also seem to depict a happy Laci and Scott Peterson. 

J.M. Sevier in Atlanta, Georgia.  “It goes to the benefit of the prosecution as this is evidence of just what a talented liar he is and was.  At the time this was taped, he had already had extramarital affairs.”

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

Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Tonight, Chris talks to Senator Ted Kennedy. 

Thanks for watching.  See you tomorrow.


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