Guest: Mike Walker, Hugh Hewitt, Ana Marie Cox, Radley Balko, Chris Barron, Jael Phelps, Jeffrey Lichtman, Robert Blecker, Candice DeLong, Linda Kenney
JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST: Tonight, murder in middle America. A federal judge returns home to find her family slaughtered.
And the suspected BTK serial killer makes his first court appearance.
Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY, where no passport is required and only common sense is allowed.
The husband and mother of a federal judge shot to death inside their Chicago home. Is this jailed white supremacist behind the murders?
And two states away, the man accused of being the BTK serial killer is formally charged with the 10 murders. Tonight, new details on how the cops caught him.
And the Supreme Court says no to the death penalty for juvenile killers. How can some of society‘s worst criminals be treated differently?
And a bitter battle in America‘s heartland. Voters decide on groundbreaking legislation to scale back gay rights. Is it common sense or legal bigotry?
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
SCARBOROUGH: Tonight, we begin with murders in America‘s heartland.
Now, two cases are making headlines tonight. First, the BTK serial killer suspect we have been talking about made his first court appearance today. Dennis Rader spoke by video hookup from his jail cell in Kansas. He was formally charged with 10 murders.
The other shocking murder case, last night in Chicago, federal Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow returned to her home to find the bodies of her husband and mother, both dead of gunshot wounds.
NBC‘s Carl Quintanilla is in Chicago. And he has with very latest.
Carl, what do you got tonight?
CARL QUINTANILLA, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Joe, police working even late into the night tonight. They are actually pulling 12-hour shifts at the scene of the crime, the home, as you mentioned, of Federal Judge Joan Lefkow. She is—working late into the night, pulling evidence from the back alley.
They have been going through trash through most of the day. You have already mentioned the story. It‘s pretty unbelievable. This is a judge, a federal judge of 23 years. She came home last night, found the bodies of her husband, Michael, 64, and her 89-year-old mother, who had been visiting from Denver.
Judge Lefkow had been the target of a white supremacist, Matt Hale. As you mentioned, he is the leader—was the leader of the World Church of the Creator. And a couple of years ago, he appeared Judge Lefkow for not complying with a lawsuit, a trademark lawsuit that his church had lost. She fined him $200,000. He was later convicted of conspiring to kill her.
She ended up getting security for her house. It was a very difficult situation for her. He went to prison for that. But since then, the cops say they don‘t know whether this case is related to that. The feds are now involved. They point out that, if this case, if these killings are connected to her role on the bench, it would be the first time that members, family members, of a federal judge had been murdered because of their connection to the legal system, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: Carl, is Matthew Hale the police, law enforcement officers‘ top suspect tonight? I mean, are they really focusing on him more than anybody else?
QUINTANILLA: Right. The case is only 24 hours old. They are clearly not talking about one lead over another. They do say that this is one of several potential areas they could go.
But you should remember that this is a judge on the federal bench who saw the worst of the worst in terms of crimes. She was dealing with very violent criminals and issuing them, in some cases, very long sentences. So, the possibility that this is related to some other people who came before her or perhaps just a random burglary, those types of things have not been ruled out tonight.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Carl Quintanilla, thanks so much for being with us. We greatly appreciate it.
Now to talk about the case some more, we‘ve got former FBI agent profiler Clint Van Zandt. We also have Candice DeLong, also a former FBI agent and profiler. And also we have Linda Kenney. She‘s a former prosecutor and author of “Remain Silent.”
Let‘s begin with you, Cliff—Clint.
If you are going into this scene, what is the first thing you do to gather up the evidence and try to figure out whether this white supremacist is involved or somebody else?
CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST: Well, there‘s two things you always look at, Joe. You look at victimology and neighborhood.
Victimology, you look, what was going on in her background, the background of her family, her professional activities, her personal activities, those of her family? What would make them susceptible to be a victim? And No. 2, neighborhood. What is going on in the neighborhood? What type of street crimes? Have there been any other homicides? Who has used the .22-caliber weapon that is suspected has having been used in these murders?
This is a horrific crime. If this is not burglary or a random street crime, if it‘s directed at the judge, I mean, this is someone who not only wanted to punish her, but wanted to crush her by these activities.
SCARBOROUGH: But let‘s say that the police suspect this white supremacist in jail. And this is all speculation. It‘s what a lot of people are talking about. If he hired somebody or if somebody in the group hired somebody to take out this judge and instead took out family members, how do you get evidence of that? When you are going on the crime scene, chances are good that, if it‘s a hired killer, they are going to be extra careful, right?
VAN ZANDT: Somebody has got to talk, Joe. There had to be some type of communication. If, in fact, it‘s Hale or other members of a hate group, there had to be some communication between him and somebody else, members that he is known to associate with.
I mean, these hate groups have 20 or 30 related Web sites around the United States where they share information back and forth and talk about these things. But, you know, the thing that always trips people up, always trips criminals up is, No. 1, you either bring something, you leave it or take it away from a crime scene, No. 1.
And, No. 2, if there‘s more than one person involved, you have got a conspiracy. Those people have to talk somehow. The authorities are going to find out who was talking to Hale or anybody else, and they are going to run this thing down. They have got to, Joe. This is like some Third World republic, where they go in and kill judges and cops. We can‘t allow anything like this to take place in the USA.
SCARBOROUGH: You are exactly right.
Candice DeLong, what is your first move when you go into the home and you check out the crime scene to try to figure out what has happened?
CANDICE DELONG, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, I would certainly be looking to see if it was, in fact, maybe a burglary that went wrong. And if it was, if that‘s what the case was, that should be very easy for the Chicago Police to detect.
They are a very, very professional outfit. I worked with them. I was assigned to Chicago for 15 years. There‘s a variety of things that would tell an experienced investigator or profiler regarding crime scene staging. If someone went in for the purpose of killing them and wanted it to look like a robbery, they should be able to detect that. So, there‘s a variety of things that they can do to rule things in or rule things out.
SCARBOROUGH: What would they look for? Give us a specific.
DELONG: Well, I don‘t want to give away trade secrets, but I can simply say that, in cases where a crime scene is staged, it is an attempt by the offender to make it look like something other than it really is.
And, oftentimes, people trying to stage a crime scene think they know what it should—like based on movies that they have seen, and they actually should be watching Court TV a little bit more to see how things really look when there‘s a burglary.
Linda Kenney, a former prosecutor, what would you do as you are looking at this crime scene, as you are talking to the police officers, to prove your case?
LINDA KENNEY, AUTHOR, “REMAIN SILENT”: Well, first of all, you know, anybody who commits a crime, whether this is a hit for somebody or whether this is a burglary and a random act and killing somebody in the house, doesn‘t get there by just parachuting in. We learn that all the time when we hear lectures, and I am sure Candice has lectured on that many times.
They have gotten there by walking. They‘ve broken into a place. They‘ve taken a bicycle. They‘ve taken metro. They have driven there. So you are also going to be—they‘re also going to be canvassing around the whole neighborhood. The neighbors, are there cameras in the areas? There‘s a lot of things that the good old-fashioned police work will look at to try to find out who did it and to preserve the crime scene before we even get to the stage of whether this was a motive killing or not.
SCARBOROUGH: Let‘s move on to the bizarre tale of the BTK killer in Wichita, Kansas.
Earlier today, Dennis Rader was charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder. He spent the last 30 years convincing his neighbors that he was a loving father, a Cub Scout leader, and a dedicated member of the Lutheran Church. But, of course, that community was shocked and found out that that really wasn‘t the case.
You have been following this, Clint, a good bit. What is the latest in this case? And as you move forward and you are trying to make a case against this guy, do you think—what do you do to try to get him to confess to all of the killings? What is the next move here?
VAN ZANDT: Well, in the case of this guy, should Rader prove to be this serial killer of almost 30 years note, the only reason he was caught, I think, Joe, is because he didn‘t necessarily want to get caught, but he wanted credit.
This guy is the living definition of a sociopath, and he has no conscience, no—cares little about the pain of anyone else. But he is impressed with himself. He thinks he is smarter. He thinks he is quicker, and obviously more brutal than those around him. And this is the type of guy—I think if Candice and I were interviewing him, you would let him talk. You would play to his vanity. You would let him tell you how smart he was, how he got away from us so many years.
And I think, after 30 years of being bottled up, this guy wants to talk. We hear in the media he has identified at least six homicides we know he is good for. What I think the authorities want to do is lock him up as far as statements on, is he good for 10, is he good for 12, is he good for 20, and has he done any after 1994, which would make him a poster boy for the death penalty, and realize once again, not only do we have this slew of victims throughout the Wichita area, but this guy kept his secret from his wife and children.
They are victims also. This guy—this guy victimized the entire community, to include his own family.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Clint, stay with us. Also, Candice and Linda, we are going to be back with you, ask you a lot more about these cases, shocking cases, when we return.
And, later, the Supreme Court abolishes the death penalty for murderers younger than 18 years old. Should juvenile killers be treated differently? We‘ll talk about that when we return, and a groundbreaking vote today going on in Kansas over whether to scale back gay rights.
We‘ll have that story also when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: Evangelical ministers and conservative businessmen, crusading for gay rights? What is going on with Kansas? What‘s the matter with Kansas? We‘ll talk about that when SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY returns.
SCARBOROUGH: I‘m back with former FBI agents Clint Van Zandt and Candice DeLong, as well as Linda Kenney, former prosecutor and author of “Remain Silent.”
And we are talking about Dennis Rader, who, of course, was charged today with being the infamous BTK killer in Kansas.
Let‘s go to you, Candice.
If you are sitting down talking to this beast across the table, what do you do to try to get as much information, not only about these 10 murders, but to find out whether there are more out there that he hasn‘t admitted to?
DELONG: Well, actually, if I were a prosecutor, I would certainly be thinking about—and this may make people angry—cutting a deal, finding out where everybody is.
I would not be at all surprised to find out that the body count is going to end up much higher than 10, the current 10 that he is charged with. I agree with Clint in terms of a one-on-one with this guy. I want to be playing to his ego. This guy‘s ego is what resulted in his apprehension. He put himself in jail, just like Ted Kaczynski did by insisting that his manifesto be published. And sure enough, his brother reads it.
This is not an uncommon thing that we see among serial killers. Their ego writes a check that, later on, they just can‘t cash.
SCARBOROUGH: Linda Kenney, do you cut this guy a deal if you find out that there may be another 10, 15, 20 murders, and you will never learn about them unless you cut a deal with him?
KENNEY: Well, one of—well, one of the things you have there is that all of his alleged murders right now that he is being held for were prior to the death penalty reinstatement where he is in the state where he is.
So the problem is, you don‘t really have too much to work with here, both as a prosecutor or a defense attorney, because you can‘t say, tell me more and I won‘t subject you to the death penalty. So, I am not sure how much of a deal you can cut with him, but if there are more murders that are out there, obviously, it‘s something that you can do.
I mean, if he has four life sentences vs. 10 life sentences, it really is meaningless when you come down to it.
KENNEY: But also to find out more about him right now. I mean, he has got a family, the wife. He‘ got a child. I mean, you know, this is a guy that is not like the loners of Juan Corona or David Berkowitz or—you know, Jack the Ripper, we don‘t know anything about.
But he is living in this community with a family, and looking like he
· looking as if, because he is, a Cub Scout leader. So I think he is different in that, and I am sure that either Clint or Candice can confirm that.
SCARBOROUGH: Clint, I will give you the final 15 seconds. Wrap it up.
VAN ZANDT: Yes. This guy is such a narcissistic individual, he is going to want to go down in the record books. So, all we got to do is just keep plying him with how smart he really is. And I think the information is going to keep flowing. It can‘t be, do this to help others. It‘s got to, do it to help yourself. That‘s all he cares about.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Clint, thank you so much.
Candice, we greatly appreciate it.
DELONG: Thanks, Joe.
SCARBOROUGH: And, Linda Kenney, we appreciate you being in
Let‘s turn now to another story that everybody is talking about. Should 16- and 17-year-olds be executed if they commit murder? Well, today, the Supreme Court said no. In a shocking 5-4 decision, the high court ruled that it‘s unconstitutionally cruel to execute anyone under the age of 18, regardless of their crime.
Now, that throws out the death sentences of about 70 juvenile murderers. But consider the cases of a few juvenile killers like Eric Morgan, who was 17 when he gunned down a convenience store owner in South Carolina. Or perhaps Christopher Simmons of Missouri, who was 17 when he and his buddies, both 15 years old, used duct tape to hog-tie Shirley Crook and then proceeded to throw her off a bridge to her death.
Simmons had bragged to his friends that he knew he could get away with it because of his age. You know something? He was right. And in the case we are going to talk a lot more about, Mark Anthony Duke from Alabama. When he was 16 years old, he and his buddies shot and then slit the throats of Duke‘s father, girlfriend, and two small daughters.
Here to talk about today‘s court ruling are Robert Blecker. He‘s a professor of criminal law at New York Law School. And we also have criminal defense attorney Jeffrey Lichtman.
Gentleman, thank you so much for being with us.
JEFFREY LICHTMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Thank you.
SCARBOROUGH: Let me begin with you, Professor.
Let‘s talk about this Alabama case, because it‘s a case the Supreme Court talked about. Talk about this Duke character that is now not going to be executed and who is going to live out his life in prison.
ROBERT BLECKER, PROFESSOR, NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL: Yes.
He was annoyed that his father wouldn‘t let him borrow the truck, so he convinced his friend to go back in with him, a 19-year-old friend to go back in with him, and he methodically killed his father. He said he would see him in hell. His friend was then supposed to shoot and kill the girlfriend. He shot her, but he didn‘t kill her, so—and she locked herself in the bathroom with a child.
So, Duke ran upstairs, burst the door open, shot her in the face and killed her. But he had run out of bullets. So, then he took the 6-year-old, who was terrified in the shower, told her it would only hurt for a minute, slit her throat. Then he went to the bedroom of the 7-year-old, dragged her kicking and screaming out from under the bed, stabbed her repeatedly, but couldn‘t finish off her. So, he made Samra stab her while he held her down.
Then he took his friends to the movies. They keep the ticket stubs to establish the alibi. He returned to the house the next day and ransacked it and then got rid of all the weapons, and then called the police, and said that his family had just been murdered. So, he planned it. He methodically executed it, including brutally killing two children, and then he covered it up. And this is what the United States Supreme Court says can never deserve to die. This is whom they say can never constitute the worst of the worst.
He is a monster. He unquestionably deserves to die, and we have an obligation to execute him.
SCARBOROUGH: This guy is a monster, but, more shockingly, more randomly, the punks that went along with him, that punk that killed that one 7-year-old girl, when he couldn‘t finish him off, that punk can be executed, but the monster that put all of this together, he is not going to be executed because of the Supreme Court. That sounds remarkably random.
BLECKER: Well, it is. It‘s indiscriminate.
You see, they have established a categorical rule that no one ever under 18 can ever be subject to the death penalty, instead of the very case-by-case basis, where you look at the individual, and you ask, is his character clearly displayed? Duke‘s is, was he subject to peer group pressure? No. He was the source of it. He wasn‘t subject to it. And is he showing reckless behavior? No. The behavior was cold. It was wanton. It was callous. It was planned. It was careful. It was methodical. So it‘s none of the characteristics...
SCARBOROUGH: Jeffrey Lichtman.
LICHTMAN: I would love to be able to get a word in.
SCARBOROUGH: Jeffrey Lichtman—hold on a second, Jeffrey. Yes, you go ahead, but I want you to answer this.
How can a guy, a monster that blows off the face of his father, his father‘s girlfriend, and then slits the throat of a 6-year-old girl and a 7-year-old girl in cold blood, how can that person not be eligible for the death penalty?
LICHTMAN: I don‘t think that the Supreme Court, when they made this decision today, was thinking about this specific defendant. I think the way they viewed it...
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, they knew about this defendant.
LICHTMAN: Hang on a second.
I think the way they viewed this was that, in the last 30 years, only 22 juveniles have ever been executed; 13 of them are from Texas. So, the fact is, first of all, that this barely is going to even make any impression at all. Secondly, let‘s keep in mind that the countries that like to execute their children is Iran, Pakistan, China, Saudi Arabia.
LICHTMAN: With all respect, I don‘t want to be a part of that group.
SCARBOROUGH: So you don‘t care about 6- and 7-year-old children? So you don‘t care about 6- and 7-year-old children that get their throats slit? How about that execution?
LICHTMAN: Of course we care. But the fact is, is that there are plenty of people that are on death row that have been—that have confessed and later have been found through DNA tests to have never actually committed the crime.
LICHTMAN: There are coercive tactics and there are lying prosecutors.
SCARBOROUGH: OK, but we got this guy dead center. This guy has admitted it. He has admitted that he slit the 6-year-old‘s throat. He admitted he slit the 7-year-old‘s throat.
LICHTMAN: Joe, he is not getting away with it. You make it sound as if he is going to go out and play basketball in his driveway. He‘s going to spend the rest of his life in prison.
SCARBOROUGH: OK. He is going to spend hard time, Professor. Is that enough?
BLECKER: No, because let‘s look at what the actual conditions in his lifestyle will be, for those who serve life without parole.
Go to the prisons. I have done that. I spent 12 years with lifers, 2,000 hours, inside of Lorton Prison. I‘ve been to other prisons. The fact is, he will play basketball. The fact is, he will have fresh air to breathe. The fact is, he will have volleyball. He will have softball, probably with mitts provided. He will watch television. He will engage in group activities. He will have whole new sources of satisfaction and relief.
He will get to live out a life with pleasure after pleasure after pleasure. No, I don‘t want to be there for life. Neither does most anybody else. But, then again, I didn‘t slit the throats of a 6- and 7-year-old. I didn‘t plan it carefully through it and then cover it up.
SCARBOROUGH: All right, Jeffrey Lichtman, Robert Blecker there, we appreciate it. We are going to be back with you guys throughout the week, because this story is not going to end anytime soon.
Coming up, gay rights in middle America. Well, voters go to the polls today to decide on groundbreaking legislation.
And could it be “The New York Times” and the liberal media elite finally get it right? Stay tuned for that and much more coming up.
SCARBOROUGH: Evangelical ministers and conservative businessmen crusade for gay rights. What is going on in Kansas? We will talk about that coming up next.
But, first, here‘s the latest news your family needs to know.
ANNOUNCER: From the press room, to the courtroom, to the halls of Congress, Joe Scarborough has seen it all. Welcome back to SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.