updated 10/4/2004 10:55:43 AM ET 2004-10-04T14:55:43

Guests: Phil Eslinger, Geoffrey Fieger, Michael Cardoza, Lisa Novak, Mercedes Colwin, Robert Hirschhorn, Frank Newport

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, police find the body of missing Utah woman Lori Hacking.

And we‘ve got the case file on the Kobe Bryant case for the first time.  Hundreds of pages of evidence and documents made public.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  With the sexual assault charge now dismissed, the police open their books.  So exactly what did the young woman say that led to charges being filed in the first place?

And from a motive to murder to Laci sightings and even a possible case of mistaken identity, week 18 of the Scott Peterson trial may have been the most important yet.  We take a look back.

Plus, Bush v. Kerry, what they didn‘t say.  Why are so many talking about how they looked?  The faces they were making.  Even their clothes.  Did that really make a difference?  Apparently so.

The program about justice starts now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  Wow, we have got so much to try to get into this hour.  We‘ve got breaking news right and left.  First up on the docket, though, just moments ago Salt Lake City police confirmed they have discovered the body of Lori Hacking.  She is the Salt Lake City woman allegedly murdered by her husband Mark after she caught him in a series of lies.  She‘s been missing since July 18 and for weeks police have been searching by hand in a landfill after Hacking allegedly confessed to having disposed of her body.  At 8:20 this morning a volunteer found human remains.

Joining us on the phone now is Salt Lake City Detective Phil Eslinger.  Detective, thank you very much for joining us.  We appreciate it.  First question, are you certain that you found Lori?

DET. PHIL ESLINGER, SALT LAKE CITY POLICE DEPT. (via phone):  Yes.  The office of the medical examiners contacted us just a short while ago and let us know that the remains that were located at the landfill early this morning have been positively identified through dental records as those of Lori Hacking.

ABRAMS:  And I assume you had a chance to tell her family members, you know, look that Mark Hacking has already been charged in this case.  Was there relief?  Was there anger?  Was—give me the sense of how they reacted.

ESLINGER:  You know I didn‘t have an opportunity to be there.  From what I understand it was most likely our detectives that would have contacted...

ABRAMS:  OK.

ESLINGER:  ... the family members and I was not there for that.

ABRAMS:  Fair enough.  Fair enough.  I am getting a statement right now in my hand from Hacking‘s parents “It means everything to us to find Lori‘s mortal remains so that we may lay them to rest with dignity.”  I think that‘s about as well as anyone could say it at this point.

ESLINGER:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  Detective, tell me how this may change the case.  I mean a lot of people were saying, look, he‘s going to be charged anyway.  Does this change the case for you?

ESLINGER:  Well, Robert Stott with the D.A.‘s office was at the press conference earlier and they asked that same question and he explained the fact that, you know, this doesn‘t make it, you know, a case that is 100 percent, but it definitely does help as far as the prosecution of this case.

ABRAMS:  And Mark Hacking is behind bars now, is that correct?

ESLINGER:  That is correct.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Detective Eslinger, thank you very much for taking the time to join us.  We appreciate it and you know good luck with the case.

ESLINGER:  Thank you very much.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Now on to the Kobe Bryant case.  For the first time, the evidence prosecutors were planning on using in his rape trial, less than an hour ago, 355 pages of documents from the Eagle County Sheriff‘s Office released to the public.  That‘s after the defense gave up on an effort to keep the records under seal.

NBC‘s Michelle Hofland is in Eagle, Colorado.  She has been sifting through the hundreds of page of documents and joins me now.  All right, so Michelle, what have you found?

MICHELLE HOFLAND, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  I‘ll tell you Dan there is a lot to look at.  This is a binder filled with 355 pages of documents, police records and everything else.  Let‘s go first to the number one thing in here.  For the first time we are seeing what the alleged victim says happened in Kobe Bryant‘s hotel room 15 months ago.  The police did a videotape interview.  They will not let us see that.  However, they did give us the transcript.

Let‘s start from the beginning where she‘s talking about the first time that she met Kobe Bryant and she says—quote—“when I was walking into the room and showing him around, he was being flirtatious with me and I was flirtatious back.”  She continues on—“Part of me was excited that he was Kobe Bryant and he was showing interest in me and part of me was trying, I don‘t want to say be a good employee, but be nice, I guess.”

Then she describes going back up to Kobe Bryant‘s hotel room when no

one else was there.  His security guards were not there.  She describes

some consensual kissing.  She said she enjoyed that.  But what she said is

that what—things turned ugly when she tried to leave his room.  She says

·         quote—“He was groping me.  I tried to leave.  Tried to breakaway. 

That‘s when he grabbed my neck.”

And she continues on and says then he held me by my neck and physically forced me over to the side of the couch or to the side of the two chairs and that‘s when he turned my neck to him and—Detective Winters says, so he was controlling your movements?  And she says “yes.”

And she continues on a little further down—quote—“At that point, I was just kind of scared and I said no a few times.”  Detective Winters says, OK, what you say no, were you bent over when you were saying no?  She says yes.  When he lifted up my skirt I said no when he took off my underwear.

Winters:  How loud did you say no?

The alleged victim:  About as loud as I‘m saying it now.

Winters:  Did he hear you?

The alleged victim:  Yes he did.

Winters:  How do you know he heard you?

The alleged victim:  Because every time I said no he tightened my hold around me.

Dan, there are 355 pages in here.  Also for the first time we‘re taking a look at some of the things that she told the bellman when she left Kobe Bryant‘s room went down to the lobby and then went outside the hotel room.  That is the first person who heard her version of what happened inside of there.

Back to you.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Michelle Hofland thanks a lot for going through all of that material so quickly.  Really appreciate it.

All right.  I‘ve got a lot more in my hand of exactly what the police said of their account of interviewing her, et cetera.  This would have been the most important information that would have come out in this trial, but quickly let me go to the legal team—criminal defense attorneys Michael Cardoza and Geoffrey Fieger, former San Mateo County prosecutor Lisa Novak, criminal defense attorney Mercedes Colwin.

All right.  Geoffrey, you know I don‘t think this is surprising.  But does this—I mean it‘s a pretty specific account that she gave and I assume would have given, probably will give if there is ever a civil trial point by point what she says happened to her in that hotel room.

GEOFFREY FIEGER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  There won‘t be a civil trial.  You know how I feel...

ABRAMS:  I know...

FIEGER:  There‘s already been a deal.  I don‘t care what anyone says.  There‘s been a settlement somewhere in the neighborhood of several millions of dollars or more has already agreed to been paid...

ABRAMS:  I don‘t think so—I‘ve got to tell you.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I really don‘t think so.

FIEGER:  I know, Dan, you and I disagree with this, but Roy Black...

ABRAMS:  All right.

FIEGER:  ... and I really agree...

ABRAMS:  I know Roy thinks so, yes...

FIEGER:  The deal has already...

ABRAMS:  All right.

FIEGER:  ... the deal has already been made.  It couldn‘t happen any other way and so you‘ll never hear her say it.  Frankly, though, I think more to the point is that had there been a criminal trial, I think it would have been a real close question.

ABRAMS:  Michael, what do you make of this?

MICHAEL CARDOZA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well I‘ll tell you what, shame on the D.A. then.  I mean if that was her story and the D.A. believed it, then move forward whether she wants to testify or not.  Subpoena her, bring her into court and have her tell that story because the story she tells is a rape.  And I‘ve got to tell you, I agree with Geoff.

This case has been settled and the reason she walked away from the criminal case is because there was money out there for her.  There would be no other reason to walk.  And that in my mind is, again, now shame on her for doing that because she accused Kobe of rape, put it to the criminal trial.  That doesn‘t bode well for the district attorney there.  You know, I did it for 15 years.  There have been victims that wanted to back away.  Put them on.  If that‘s the story and you believe it as a D.A., then they don‘t get to walk away.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me read a little bit more from the police report here.  We heard a moment ago from the actual interview.  This is from the police report, this is number two.

The woman stated that she got to a point where she was thinking that instead of trying to get him to stop, she was only thinking how she would get through this assault without him hurting her.  She stated she was in fear for her safety.  She stated when he would ask her a question and she would answer no, she kept thinking he was going to choke her out.

Lisa Novak, you know, this is new material coming out about exactly what this woman was saying to the authorities.  What is your reaction?

LISA NOVAK, FORMER SAN MATEO COUNTY PROSECUTOR:  You know I prosecuted sexual assault cases for years in San Mateo County and what she is describing is not unusual.  What she is describing is a sexual assault.  And I really take issue with Michael‘s position that shame on her and have the prosecution force her to come in and testify.

In California, a victim of a sexual assault cannot be forced to come in and testify.  And I don‘t believe the only reason that she walked away from this case was because she‘s going to get paid off.  I don‘t think there will be a civil trial.  I do think that it will settle.  But this young woman has been already subjected to tremendous pressure and threats of harm, which are genuine, and she faced even more of that if this case went to trial on a criminal level.

ABRAMS:  And Mercedes, here‘s the problem, though with the case and this comes out in the police reports.  That one of the detectives admits—he said to her, I asked why she never told Bryant no.  I asked her what things did she do that would make Bryant realize that she wasn‘t a consenting party to the sexual acts and then she sort of—then he sort of shifts—he says she stated she would try to push him away from her.  She stated when she would do this he would tighten his grip around her neck.

This is part of the problem with this case, is you have police officers asking her why she didn‘t say no.

MERCEDES COLWIN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Exactly right.  And then she says at another point that she was saying no.  She was saying no repeatedly.  So there comes the test of credibility.  Was she really credible when she was saying this to the particular officer?

And you know what, frankly, that is what this case is all about.  It would have been a test of credibility between hers versus Kobe.  And why she decided to back away from it, who knows, but frankly, we know that there‘s some settlement.  I‘m going to agree with Michael and Geoffrey on this because Kobe Bryant would not have come forward with that admission that he made that well I saw things differently than she did and I‘m sorry...

ABRAMS:  What if it was a quid pro quo to get rid of the criminal case?  To say look, if your client agrees to this, my client will agree to this, which is to drop...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Dan...

ABRAMS:  Go ahead Geoffrey...

(CROSSTALK)

COLWIN:  I think there was a settlement...

(CROSSTALK)

COLWIN:  ... like that, Dan.  There was.

FIEGER:  It‘s unethical to do that...

ABRAMS:  Oh, it‘s even more unethical to have a financial deal in place as a reason...

FIEGER:  No...

ABRAMS:  ... to drop the criminal case.

FIEGER:  And that‘s why everybody is denying it.  And that is why...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.

FIEGER:  ... it hasn‘t happened...

ABRAMS:  All right.

FIEGER:  ... right now.  And it won‘t happen until down the road, but I guarantee you it‘s been done.

(CROSSTALK)

COLWIN:  Kobe Bryant would not have made those statements unless that had been finalized.

FIEGER:  Right...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  There was no deal, I say.  I say there was no deal, but there will be a deal.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  There‘s no way this case is going to go to trial, but...

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  ... all right.

FIEGER:  There‘s a deal to make a deal.

(CROSSTALK)

COLWIN:  There you go...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Maybe that‘s true.  What Geoffrey just said may have been the case—all right, let me take—all the legal team, great team today, sticking around because we‘ve got new details into the day Scott Peterson was arrested.  He allegedly even mocked undercover agents.  At one point gave them a round of applause after they kept up with him on the highway.

Plus, do actions really speak louder than words?  Even with the strict rules at last night‘s presidential debate, President Bush and Senator Kerry let us know what they thought of each other in their own subtle ways.  Why does it seem that their reactions seem more important than their actions?

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.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, prosecutors wrapping up their case in the Scott Peterson case with the lead detective, but did he score more points for the prosecution or for the defense?  Our panel is coming back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  What a week it was in the Scott Peterson trial.  Inside the investigation for murder motives to Laci sightings, the lead detective no question helped the state‘s case, but as always, he also helped the defense lay out its case.

MSNBC‘s Jennifer London has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JENNIFER LONDON, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (on camera):  Not even the earthquake that hit central California on Tuesday shook the courtroom as much as testimony revealing that Amber Frey wasn‘t the only other woman in Scott Petersons life.

(voice-over):  Long before he met the massage therapist from Fresno, Peterson had already cheated on his wife twice while attending college.  Under cross-examination, lead detective Craig Grogan the jury Laci knew of at least one of the affairs.  Defense attorney Mark Geragos arguing that while his client may be a cad, it doesn‘t make him a killer.

DEAN JOHNSON, FMR. SAN MATEO COUNTY PROSECUTOR:  Geragos is bringing out these prior affairs to say, look, Scott Peterson has had affairs in the past.  Laci has known about them.  But they have never led to murder.

LONDON:  Geragos also attacking the prosecution‘s claim that Laci couldn‘t take walks because of her pregnancy, even though Peterson told police she was going to walk their dog on Christmas Eve.  Yet before she vanished, Laci climbed these stairs to attend a yoga class.

BETH KARAS, COURT TV CORRESPONDENT:  If she could climb those stairs four days before she disappeared, then perhaps it‘s not so remote a possibility that she went out for a walk with her dog.

LONDON:  The defense also introducing a case of possible mistaken identity.  The defense suggested a woman who looked like Laci and also walked her golden retriever may have been the target of a planned abduction and perhaps Laci was snatched by mistake.

KARAS:  If this really was something serious, something that may have pointed away from Scott Peterson, then they surely would have pursued it more.

LONDON (on camera):  The last witness to take the stand, an expert in tides and currents in the San Francisco Bay.  His testimony will resume on Monday in what may be the prosecution‘s final week presenting their case.

In Redwood City, California, Jennifer London, MSNBC.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  All right.  Thank you, Jennifer.  We‘re going to try and go through a number of the issues.  First of all the arrest.  That became a big issue yesterday.  You know, because of the debates not a lot of people following exactly what happened.  But the arrest became a big deal.

First, how it seems to help the prosecution is what was found in his car, found with him.  What seems to help the defense is how he behaved.  Let me go through it and explain.  In Peterson‘s car at the time of the arrest his brother‘s driver‘s license, 15,000 in cash, credit cards, sleeping pills, Viagra, four cell phones, a dagger, a foul weather jacket, a hand shovel, camping gear, a hammock, binoculars, mask and snorkel, fishing rod and reel and clothing.

Of course, you know people say what‘s he doing with all this stuff?  All right.  But on the other hand, his behavior was odd.  I think the odd behavior could actually help him in the sense that all right, he‘s driving erratically.  That doesn‘t help him, but he tried to lose the agents.  That doesn‘t help him, but he took the plate numbers of the agents.  That doesn‘t help him.

But then he approaches the officers on foot.  He actually clapped, one witness testified, when he outmaneuvered an officer.  He complimented the officers on their technique.  He apologized for almost calling—causing an accident.  We heard earlier that he had flipped off one of them.

You know, Michael Cardoza, on the whole, which way does the arrest cut, do you think?  In all the circumstances—I hear Geoffrey laughing...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... Michael get first word on this...

CARDOZA:  Yes, Geoff should be laughing.  I don‘t know how it cuts. 

You know how does it go?  It depends whether you think he‘s guilty or not.  You think he‘s guilty, you‘ll say (UNINTELLIGIBLE) look at that conduct, its flight.  I didn‘t get that out of it, though.  And I‘ll tell you what, I know Geragos has a stack of about a half-inch of letters threatening Scott‘s life and they were pretty graphic, some of them, so Scott is changing his appearance, Scott trying to disappear, you know, it may be for that reason.

But what‘s interesting, what came out yesterday he sells his truck to buy a Mercedes to go camping?  Come on.  That doesn‘t square with that.  And he thinks at some time it may be the press chasing him around.  So you know I don‘t think it adds up to a whole lot...

ABRAMS:  Geoffrey?

FIEGER:  Come on, Michael.  The circumstances under which this guy is arrested—and by the way, everybody should know, this comes in for flight and flight is always relevant.  The very day his wife and Conner‘s remains are being identified, it‘s so—the circumstance.  He can‘t lose the contest.  Four hundred miles away, a disguise, $15,000, false I.D. with Viagra?  My god what else can this guy do...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Geoffrey, you mean he‘s not going golfing?

CARDOZA:  ... convict him because he has Viagra.

FIEGER:  Yes, he‘s going...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He‘s going golfing.

FIEGER:  ... on the very day.  Forget every—I don‘t care.  His wife was identified on that day...

CARDOZA:  You know Geoff...

FIEGER:  If that doesn‘t convict him with him being in the bay - yes sir...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let me let Mercedes in.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let me let Mercedes in.  Go ahead Mercedes...

CARDOZA:  Geoff...

COLWIN:  Everyone keeps focusing in on this $15,000.  Well he‘s going to start a new life...

FIEGER:  It‘s the day she was identified...

COLWIN:  ... and you‘re not going to start a new life, Geoffrey, with $15,000, number one...

CARDOZA:  But does he know that?

COLWIN:  And he‘s sitting there putting down these license plates.  I mean certainly, if he thinks it‘s police agents that are actually pursuing him, why is he taking down their plates?  He honestly and I think the defense could definitely float this theory, he honestly believed it was paparazzi.  Why would he sit there and take down their license plates?

FIEGER:  Why isn‘t he camped out...

COLWIN:  Why?  Because it makes absolutely no sense.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Lisa Novak, why...

FIEGER:  ... that‘s his wife‘s body.

ABRAMS:  Lisa, why?  Let me let Lisa Novak in.

NOVAK:  If this guy wasn‘t fleeing at the time, he was preparing to flee.  I think it‘s strong evidence of flight.  I think to comment on the fact that he only had $15,000, he has got a family who has been sporting the bill for his defense through this trial.  He had other resources of money and he was taking off to somewhere where he didn‘t plan to be found...

CARDOZA:  Now wait a minute.  If you‘ve got have all those death threats...

FIEGER:  Geragos...

CARDOZA:  ... you don‘t think...

ABRAMS:  Let Michael in...

CARDOZA:  ... you don‘t think...

ABRAMS:  Let—hang on.  Let Michael—go ahead, Michael.

CARDOZA:  You know, if you had all those death threats, wouldn‘t you change your appearance and try and get away?  You‘re going—if you‘re going camping you‘re going to sell the truck to buy a Mercedes?  No.  But you know what‘s real interesting...

FIEGER:  And on the day my wife‘s body is identified...

CARDOZA:  How does he know that...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How does he know that Geoffrey...

(CROSSTALK)

CARDOZA:  ... does he know that...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  All right.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Hang on.  Let me take a quick break here.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Geoffrey, hang on one sec, one sec...

FIEGER:  ... had washed up.

ABRAMS:  ... one quick break.  We‘re going to continue with our coverage of the Peterson case.  We‘ve got—we‘re going to talk about the motives that came up this week.  We‘re going to talk about, you know, the fact the defense is bringing up the affairs.  Money—was money a motive?  And police missteps.  We‘re going to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) we‘ve got a lot to cover.

All right.  And the first presidential debate—question, of course, everyone is asking is how did each candidate score.  But it seems like a lot of people aren‘t even talking about the substance or what they said, but what they looked like.  Why?  It‘s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DIANE SAWYER, CO-ANCHOR, “GOOD MORNING AMERICA”:  Do you really expect people to believe that an eight and a half month pregnant woman learns her husband has had an affair and is saintly and casual about it? 

Accommodating?  Makes a peace with it?

SCOTT PETERSON, ON TRIAL FOR MURDER:  Well, yes, you don‘t know—no one knows our relationship but us.  And that‘s  -- at peace with it, not happy about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Let me lay out what I think you‘re going to see as the motive here.  I‘m going to read right from the arrest warrant in this case.  If they are smart, they‘re going to stick basically to this.

The motive of that crime is likely linked to Scott‘s failing business and financial situation in addition to the emotional and financial pressures of becoming a parent when he lacked any desire to have a child.  The expensive desires of his wife, including her desire for a new vehicle and home and plan to be a stay-at-home mother likely compounded the situation.  Scott‘s continued desire to establish a long-term permanent relationship with Amber Frey may have enhanced the motive.

Lisa Novak, I mean it seems to me that‘s still basically what they are going to argue as to motive here, true?

NOVAK:  If that‘s what they‘re going to argue, I think it‘s a mistake. 

Did this guy really want to have a long-term relationship with Amber Frey? 

Everything that he said to that woman on recorded conversations...

ABRAMS:  All they‘re saying is enhance the motive, enhance the motive...

NOVAK:  Enhance the motive.

ABRAMS:  That‘s all they‘re saying.

NOVAK:  He doesn‘t want a long-term relationship with this woman.  She is just in his mind another one-night stand.  Does he have financial problems?  There hasn‘t been evidence that he had finance problems...

ABRAMS:  What about the $100,000 that—where did that come in?  I am reading it from my notes here.  Yes, here we go...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  The—in the interview, yes, the affidavit from the—actually it came from the search warrant.  But the interview Scott Peterson told me he‘d lost $100,000 in his business over the last year.  And Michael, you were pointing out something else?

CARDOZA:  Well, they had $100,000 worth of jewelry that was bequeathed to them by Laci‘s grandmother I believe it was...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

CARDOZA:  ... that passed away.  So that money was coming in for Scott Peterson.  And remember, Dan, in California, motive is not part of a crime.  The D.A. doesn‘t have to prove motive...

ABRAMS:  They don‘t have to...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  They don‘t have to, but they will.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... Michael.

CARDOZA:  Pardon me?

ABRAMS:  They will.

COLWIN:  And they look—the jurors want to know what motivated...

CARDOZA:  Oh, there is no question they want to.

COLWIN:  ... the perpetrator to do this horrendous crime...

CARDOZA:  But wouldn‘t it be better...

COLWIN:  They are not going to be satisfied with anything less.

CARDOZA:  Wouldn‘t it be better...

(CROSSTALK)

CARDOZA:  ... for the D.A. to get up and say you know what, we don‘t know why he did it, but let‘s throw out a couple of ideas and leave it at that.  Let the jurors figure out the motive because you‘re never going to nail it down.

COLWIN:  And I agree with Lisa...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  But see...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  But see—but that‘s why I like what they said in the arrest warrant because they are throwing out a whole bunch of things and they‘re saying likely linked failing business, financial situation, expensive desires, Amber Frey.  I mean Geoffrey it sounds like what they‘re saying is look, for a whole lot of different reasons this guy did the unthinkable.

FIEGER:  That is right, but Michael is right.  They—you don‘t want to lock yourself in because they don‘t know.  And you are not required to prove motive.  I will tell you a more damning fact is that he has no alibi.  And I say this to anybody who wants to listen.  He admits to being in the location where his wife died...

ABRAMS:  All right.

FIEGER:  ... and she washed up...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I‘ve got to take a quick break here...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I‘m coming back.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Everyone—and I apologize to everyone.  Coming back in a minute.  More on Peterson.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Exactly how did Scott Peterson kill Laci is the question everyone asks.  Well, we‘ve got the answers according to the authorities coming up, but first, the headlines.

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAWYER:  What kind of marriage was it?

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  A lot has been made of that tape and all the other talking about, you know, why he might have done it.  But also the question that keeps coming up is how—how could he have done it?  So many of you write in and ask that question.  How could he possibly have done it?

Well according to the search warrant from Detective Grogan, here‘s exactly how they speculated back in February of 2003 that it occurred.

Quote—“Evidence at the scene suggested a soft kill where there would be limited blood evidence at the scene.  The fact that Scott Peterson had no significant injuries aside from a scuffed knuckle indicates the victim did not likely have the ability to take defensive action.  Laci may have been drugged prior to suffocation or poisoning or otherwise incapacitated without a struggle.

The clean up by mopping the floor—this is at the scene—the home

·         and vacuuming may be a result of wrapping Laci in a tarp inside the home and pulling her out the door, causing the throw rug to be wadded beneath the doorway.  Scott Peterson admitted to placing umbrellas wrapped in tarp in the back of his truck at 9:30 in the morning.  Scott could have carried Laci Peterson‘s body wrapped in a tarp to his vehicle and then transported her to his shop after releasing their dog with the leash attached.”

Michael Cardoza, is that consistent, do you think, with the theory that the prosecutors have been laying out so far?

CARDOZA:  Somewhat consistent with that.  They certainly haven‘t really told the jury that until Grogan hit the stand.  But like you said, you know, it‘s possible.  It‘s probable.  It‘s likely.  They‘re taking an educated guess.  But is all that good enough to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt?

You know the thing, Dan, that really sticks in my head last week is the way the prosecutor used Grogan and Grogan did a great job, I thought, until they get up—until Fladager, that‘s the D.A.—gets up on redirect and asks her—him about the investigation of Laci and the search for Laci.  She asked, did Peterson call you—or not call you—did Peterson call on a daily basis?  No.

Did he call on a weekly basis?  No.  Monthly?  Possibility.  Then she answered, you know, that left the jurors minds to think, whoa, this guy didn‘t care at all.  Cross-examination from Geragos to the detective, hey, didn‘t he call you 11 times in the first 10 days?  Yes.  Didn‘t he call other police officers every day, in fact, a couple of times a day?  Well, yes he did.  You know, that type of misleading of a jury whether it‘s purposeful or inadvertent doesn‘t paint the D.A.s in a very good picture...

ABRAMS:  No, that I agree with...

CARDOZA:  ... they can‘t trust them.

ABRAMS:  Look, the D.A.s are a problem here, but...

CARDOZA:  No question.

ABRAMS:  ... let‘s get back to this issue that Michael made—that Michael—the point Michael made early on, Lisa, and that is that he‘s saying you know it still could be reasonable doubt, but they don‘t have to know exactly what Scott Peterson did, whether he dragged the body or carried the body on his back.  I mean they don‘t have to prove that.

NOVAK:  Dan, their speculation is reasonable doubt.  The absolute dearth of forensic evidence in this case is a huge problem for the prosecution.  It isn‘t just that they speculate that he cleaned up the crime scene.  They have zero to identify the home as a crime scene.  You know they talked about he mopped up the floor.  Well, they tested the mop and the bucket.

There was nothing in there of any biological nature whatsoever.  And the police, they took the bedding as evidence.  And if they‘re speculating that he smothered his wife, do some forensic examination on the sheets and the pillows.  They did nothing.  And their excuse for that is that one of the pillows was missing a pillowcase, so why even bother to test it?  I think that is sloppy police work.

(CROSSTALK)

NOVAK:  And the police don‘t get to speculate and have that translate to proving it beyond a reasonable doubt.

ABRAMS:  Wait.  Geoffrey, you get to speculate all the time...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... in criminal cases.

FIEGER:  Of course they do...

ABRAMS:  I mean you don‘t have to say the person moved from point A to point B and then took three steps backward and two steps forward.

FIEGER:  Please, you don‘t even need a body, but there is thousands of people who are sitting in prison right now and there‘s hundreds who are waiting the death penalty with less evidence than they have on Scott Peterson.  So if anybody believes that you have to have the proof of the death or how exactly the death occurred, they don‘t understand our legal system.

COLWIN:  But I think that‘s exactly the reason why the jurors have a heightened expectation as to what the law enforcement did, what evidence they have in terms of forensics because it is a death penalty case.  This jury has to decide...

FIEGER:  No...

COLWIN:  ... if this man...

(CROSSTALK)

COLWIN:  ... put to death.

FIEGER:  No...

(CROSSTALK)

FIEGER:  ... wait a second.

COLWIN:  So because...

FIEGER:  He‘ll get convicted and then he might get saved from...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.

FIEGER:  ... the death penalty...

COLWIN:  No, I understand that Geoffrey...

FIEGER:  ... because of the jury...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I think Geoffrey is right on that...

(CROSSTALK)

COLWIN:  ... that‘s not what the jury says...

ABRAMS:  But Mercedes...

COLWIN:  ... that‘s not what the jury...

ABRAMS:  ... I hate it when people keep saying it‘s a death penalty—it is a death penalty case, but the bottom line that‘s not coming up until the next round of this case.

COLWIN:  And you‘re absolutely right, Dan, but they‘re still thinking about it.  They were asked about it in voir dire.

(CROSSTALK)

COLWIN:  Let‘s not forget that during jury selection...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I‘ll tell you what‘s important...

COLWIN:  ... that they had to say, would you be able to sit on this jury if you had to...

ABRAMS:  I‘ve got the...

COLWIN:  ... sentence someone to death...

ABRAMS:  I‘ve got the list of police missteps here, but I want to give Michael—Michael you want to...

CARDOZA:  You know what‘s really...

ABRAMS:  ... one more word.

CARDOZA:  You know what‘s important?  This is a difficult case.  I mean it‘s a very difficult case.  It‘s a circumstantial evidence case.  What the D.A.s needed with this jury is to connect with them, to be trusted by them and they do everything to show the jury that they can‘t be trusted.  They give them half-truths.  They give them partial evidence...

(CROSSTALK)

CARDOZA:  ... and that‘s the problem they‘re going to have here.

ABRAMS:  All right...

COLWIN:  And Michael, to answer that...

ABRAMS:  ... let me...

Can ... you know Brocchini is going to be brought up in closing...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Of course...

COLWIN:  ... closing arguments...

(CROSSTALK)

COLWIN:  Absolutely...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me go through this, the police missteps presented by the defense.  All right.  They didn‘t do forensic tests on a lot of the evidence found near Laci‘s body, didn‘t simulate a test to conclude it was possible that Peterson could have dumped Laci‘s body from the boat.  Although, that was probably smart not to do that test.

Took 19 months to interview a truck driver who said he saw Laci walking her dog on December 24.  Took more than a year to investigate a tip of a woman allegedly being shoved into a van.  They ruled out, the defense says, this woman who robbed the house weeks after she went missing too quickly.  They didn‘t follow up on a mistaken identity theory.  Another prosecutor had called in and said look, I was pregnant.  I lived in that neighborhood.  Someone might have been after me.

They didn‘t follow up on this lead in Washington State, the woman who turned out not to be relevant to the case.  But again, the point the defense is making is they just were ignoring all the other evidence.  They didn‘t do a photo—this is my favorite—they didn‘t do a photo lineup of dogs with a neighbor who reported seeing McKenzie in the park.  I mean, that one, come on, Michael, you don‘t really think...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... the dog lineup.

CARDOZA:  You know what?  Dan, I‘ll tell you what‘s going to happen in this case.  At the end of the trial the jury is going to go back into the jury room, they‘re going to talk about the type of jobs the D.A. did, the defense.  They‘ll talk about how they dressed, whether they liked their shoes or not.  Finally, after a day, they‘re going to get to the evidence.  They‘re going to put it all on the table.  They‘re going to take away the baloney.

You know, this is irrelevant.  That‘s baloney.  This defense is baloney.  Then they‘re going to look at what they have left and that‘s going to be, as Geoff said, you know, he goes fishing where the body is, the body ends up near there, and a couple of other small things and decide whether that proves beyond a reasonable doubt...

FIEGER:  That‘s right.

CARDOZA:  ... Peterson is guilty and that‘s this case.

ABRAMS:  All right.

FIEGER:  That‘s exactly right and that‘s the way juries operate.

ABRAMS:  All right, let me—this is another piece of—we don‘t have it yet.  OK.  There‘s a piece of sound—we‘ll get it in a minute—of Scott Peterson calling the Modesto Police Department.  Let me just set it up as we get it.  This is one of the calls that Peterson made to the Modesto Police Department.  This one is from February the 3rd 2003, just played in court yesterday.  And this is about that Washington State woman and whether the police were searching for her enough, doing enough to follow up on the lead.  Do we have it?  OK, let‘s play it.

(BEGIN AUDIOTAPE)

PETERSON:  ... I need any chance that it‘s her...

LT. AJA:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

PETERSON:  ... and I was just hoping there would be an opportunity to take a look when you do receive them.

LT. AJA:  I guess I‘m a little curious what - I mean I know what you said on your message that you don‘t trust anybody here to look at them...

PETERSON:  Well I wasn‘t - I just I can‘t - you know, I know her better than anyone and I want to - I need to know if it‘s her or not.

LT. AJA:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

PETERSON:  You know and I‘ll never know unless I see it.  If I, you know, I just, you know, Detective Jacobs says it‘s not her, but he didn‘t live with her for eight years.

(END AUDIOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  All right.  We‘ve got to wrap it up.  That was just a piece of tape from yesterday.  Michael Cardoza, Geoffrey Fieger, Mercedes Colwin, and Lisa Novak, great panel.  Thanks a lot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Take care.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Thank you, Dan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the debate—the candidates duke it out over who would be better to stand up to our enemies, while many people evaluate who did a job  -- a better job of standing up literally.  I ruined that tease.  Anyway, forget what they said.  It‘s not what they said.  It‘s how they said it that apparently is mattering to so many people.  I can‘t speak.

And in the Scott Peterson case, one of you says that the length of time that this case is taking means Peterson must be innocent.  Oh really?  So lots of evidence is bad for prosecutors?  Your e-mails coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  When I talked about the $87 billion, I made a mistake in how I talk about the war, but the president made a mistake in invading Iraq.  Which is worse?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  You can‘t say it‘s a mistake and not a mistake.  You can‘t be for getting rid of Saddam Hussein when things look good and against it when times are hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Presidential candidates duking it out last night and today, the first of three debates.  Plenty of substantive discussion over Iraq, the nuclear threat, Osama bin Laden, but much of the talk today isn‘t about what was said, but what was seen, how they appeared even when the cameras showed the candidates reacting to each other‘s words.  Not surprisingly, the spinners for each side say their candidate was the best that he could have been.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  What the American people saw last night is what I have known all along which is John Kerry has strength.  He has conviction.

DAN BARTLETT, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIR.:  I think he‘s always been a president and a person who is—wears his emotions on his sleeve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  “My Take”—it was a pretty good substantive debate even

though both candidates seemed nervous to start and distorted some of the

facts.  But once again the facts seemed to matter less than how they

looked.  Why is it that we all seem to be making judgments based on a

squint from President Bush, a smirk from Senator Kerry to determine who is

·         quote—“more presidential?”

Let me ask my guest.  Robert Hirschhorn is a jury consultant who evaluates peoples‘ reactions to arguments every day.  Frank Newport is editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll, which has been tracking public sentiment about the candidates and the debate.  Gentlemen, thanks very much.

All right.  Robert Hirschhorn, does this happen all the time in trials where the jurors are looking at people and as opposed to saying in the jury room, oh, you know, this was exactly what they said and the evidence and a lot of the time they are talking about how they said it and how they looked and did they seem angry?

ROBERT HIRSCHHORN, JURY CONSULTANT:  Absolutely, Dan, because 80 percent of all communication is nonverbal.  As I told my son Troy this morning, he was going to debate the issue of school uniforms.  I said, son, don‘t react because if you do, people are going to think the other side scored points.  And when President Bush was showing those reactions, showing really what appeared to be anger, it really was a negative reaction on the part of many of the American people.  But I don‘t (UNINTELLIGIBLE) he is showing his true colors.

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know why that comes across—anyway, all right.  Mr.  Newport, when you ask people these questions for your polls, do they seem clearer and more definitive when you ask them feeling questions?  How did you feel about the person than if you say, you know, substantively, you know, whose policy on Iraq do you agree with more, et cetera?  Do you find that people are more confident in their answers when they are talking about how they looked and how they felt?

FRANK NEWPORT, GALLUP POLL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF:  Well that‘s hard to say.  It‘s a good question.  I‘m not sure they‘re more confident in one or the other because they‘ll actually tell us where they thought the candidates were on the images and feelings if we asked about it as well as the issues rather than images.  We do know last night, Dan, interestingly that the single dimension—by the way, Kerry won the debate as we know, 53 to 37 in our poll who did the better job.  So then we look behind the numbers to say all right, where was it that Kerry scored so well on other questions that would lead to the overall winning numbers.

And the one that he scored by far the best on, Dan, was the question which explained the issues clearly.  He beat Bush 2-1 on that, even though Bush beat him on some of the other issues.  So that may support your hypothesis, your thesis that you are developing here that it was how Kerry talked last night and came across as much as precisely what he said that impressed voters that were watching.

ABRAMS:  And also it seems that the president‘s reaction, you know, to some they just—it seemed human.  But to others people are all sort of, oh, he seemed angry.  This is the DNC, the Democratic National Committee, put out this tape of President Bush‘s reactions during the debate.  Let me play this and we‘ll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(THE BODY LANGUAGE DEBATE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  So, you know, Robert Hirschhorn, why do people—I mean do you—I mean if President Bush is listening to something from John Kerry that he finds to be, you know, either disingenuous or completely distinct from his position, why are viewers, voters, citizens going to view that as a negative thing as opposed to just, look, what he was saying to me was irritating and annoying?

HIRSCHHORN:  Because, well, look, Howard Dean had one outburst and that literally torpedoed...

ABRAMS:  But that was different...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  You can‘t compare that.

HIRSCHHORN:  No, I understand.  But here‘s my point.  It just shows that outbursts have a reaction.  Notice what Kerry did when President Bush was talking, Kerry wasn‘t making eye contact with him.  He was down taking notes because he didn‘t want to lock the eyes to try to allow President Bush to get his goat.  So the idea is that Kerry maintained an aloofness or a distance...

ABRAMS:  And that is good?

HIRSCHHORN:  Well in the way he did it, it was good because it didn‘t show a vulnerability.

ABRAMS:  Yes.

HIRSCHHORN:  President Bush showed a vulnerability.  The other thing is even the color ties.  Kerry is wearing a red tie, that‘s a power tie.  President Bush is wearing a blue tie.  It‘s a soft tie, you can trust me, but it‘s Kerry that came off as the stronger one and that‘s what...

ABRAMS:  All right.

HIRSCHHORN:  ... what the Gallup Poll showed.

ABRAMS:  Unfortunately, I‘ve got to wrap it up.  So Frank Newport and Robert Hirschhorn, thanks very much.

Coming up, a new audiotape from al Qaeda‘s number two out today, Ayman al-Zawahiri making a call to arms to his fellow terrorists, but this tape could be different, I say, showing the deteriorating state of al Qaeda leadership.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, prosecutors have taken four months so far to try to convince a jury that Scott Peterson killed his wife.  So long, according to one viewer, it must mean he‘s innocent.  Your e-mails coming up after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—why the latest comments from al Qaeda‘s number two man could be the most telling yet on the deteriorating state of the al Qaeda leadership.  It says to me that maybe, just maybe we‘re dealing a fatal blow to al Qaeda‘s top tier.  In an audiotape released today, bin Laden‘s right-hand man Ayman al-Zawahiri sounded a lot more defeated than defiant.

Instead of the usual bluster that we will inflict pain upon the infidels‘ speech, he seemed to recognize that very soon it may be he and bin Laden who will be finished off.  Rather than bragging about their power, he appeared to be pleading for help on the defensive, offering advice on what to do if—quote—“we die or are arrested.”  Quote—

“The youth should not wait and should start resisting now,” he said.

Now who knows what any of his public statements really mean.  Al-Zawahiri was known for predicting attacks before they had happened, but this sure sounds like a man on the way out.  More a farewell than a call to arms.  And while it‘s true that even if he and bin Laden are captured or killed, that wouldn‘t mean the war on terror has been won, not even close.  But it would be a major boost for us so-called infidels.

I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Two Italian hostages freed on Tuesday after being held in Iraq for weeks.  A parliamentary leader in Italy said they paid $1 million ransom.  On Wednesday, I said I sympathize with the families but the answer cannot be to negotiate with terrorists.  Paying ransom just supports the terrorists‘ effort to kidnap other people, putting more people at risk.

Ken Long in Plainfield, New Jersey.  “Like it or not paying off these bloodthirsty killers is the only way to win the freedom of those held captive.  I wonder if you would pay a ransom to have a loved one released.”

Ken, as I said on the show, I bet I would pay whatever necessary to release a loved one.  I‘m not criticizing the families for doing anything they can.  The governments are different.  This is in power to the terrorists, and when the next Italians get kidnapped, the last that asked themselves, was the money that they paid used?

Perry Coburn, Boston.  “Obviously it‘s a heart wrenching situation, but it‘s not fair to make kidnapping the million-dollar business that it is in Iraq because it makes everyone a target.”

The prosecution about to rest in the Scott Peterson case.  Lawrence Glass in Willis, Texas isn‘t a juror prosecutors would want.  “For a death penalty case, evidence should be substantial and should not take over two months to present.  The word circumstantial implies to me reasonable doubt.  A man‘s life should not hang on a theory that is circumstantial.”

Well, Lawrence, just because they have a lot of evidence against Peterson shouldn‘t be used against the prosecution.  But I agree they could have better streamlined the case.  As for circumstantial, the strongest cases are circumstantial.  Blood evidence is circumstantial.  Many men‘s lives have hinged on circumstantial cases.

Finally from Boston, Massachusetts, Jessica Jones.  “How exactly do you decide which e-mails to read at the end of your show?  My e-mails are well informed, well organized, creative, thought provoking, usually a bit humorous and yet, you never read any of them.  Let me know what the secret is so that I might get noticed one of these days.”

Jessica, just keep them provocative, keep them opinionated, make sure they‘re specific responses to issues that came up on the show.  But now you‘ve been noticed and thank you.

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

Before we go tonight, I want you all to meet the newest member of THE ABRAMS REPORT team.  My executive producer, Megan Chafer (ph) and her husband Aaron (ph) welcomed their first baby this week.  A daughter, Madison Kate born Monday night, weighing in at six pounds and nine ounces.

Do you know what he‘s thinking about?  He‘s thinking (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

I can‘t decide Peterson, what to make of that case.

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

Have a great weekend.

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

END   

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