updated 3/3/2005 12:01:42 PM ET 2005-03-03T17:01:42

Guest: David Heinzmann, Roy Moore, Barry Levine, Daniel Horowitz, William Fallon

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, new clues in what authorities now say were the execution-style murders of a federal judge‘s husband and mother. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  Police find a bloody shoeprint next to the bodies, a broken window, and it seems the husband and mother were led down stairs to their deaths.  No signs of stolen items.  White supremacists remain the focus of the investigation. 

And Bill Cosby in his first interview since a woman accused him of drugging and molesting her says his actions may have been misinterpreted?  What does that mean?  We talk to the man who got the exclusive. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It was such an odd situation.  You know, here he is, you know, kind of a person on television every single night who has a missing wife, and he‘s walking around our living room handing out flirtinis.

ABRAMS:  Scott Peterson‘s sister defended him, that is, until she saw the way he was acting.  Now she is speaking out in an exclusive interview. 

The program about justice starts now. 


ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  Before we go to our top story about that federal judge, I‘m here in Santa Maria at the Michael Jackson trial.  Today‘s testimony dominated by a crisis management expert who worked for Jackson.  Ann Kite described the fallout and panic in the Jackson team after a documentary aired where Jackson tried to explain why he sleeps with children in his bed.  She told jurors team Jackson was out to smear the mother of the boy on the tape, a boy who is now the accuser in this case, all part of an effort to force the family to say nice things about Jackson.  That‘s at the heart of one of the charges in the case. 

After Kite was done, Santa Barbara county criminologist Albert Lafferty took the stand.  Testimony resumes tomorrow.  We‘ll bring you the latest. 

But first, a federal judge once targeted by an infamous white supremacist comes home from work to find her mother and husband shot dead execution style in the family‘s Chicago home.  Among the clues, a bloody footprint, a broken window, phone calls made to the family‘s home, and a witness account of men waiting near the home, even a possible fingerprint.  No suspects have been named.  Authorities are looking into one serious lead. 

The fact that in 2003, white supremacist Matthew Hale was charged with soliciting the murder of this judge, Joan Humphrey Lefkow, a month after she held him in contempt of court in a trademark infringement case.  Hale was convicted last year and is awaiting his sentencing next month.  His white supremacist buddies had been menacingly posting her name and address on the Internet for many months. 

David Heinzmann is the lead reporter on this story with the “Chicago Tribune” and joins us now on the phone.  Thanks a lot for joining us.  All right, any developments today in terms of this investigation?  They‘re still not saying that it was—that the white supremacist aspect of this is necessarily the motive. 

DAVID HEINZMANN, “CHICAGO TRIBUNE” REPORTER (via phone):  They don‘t know that for sure, but that‘s clearly the focus of their investigation at this point.  And that is what sources are telling us.  They are running down every possible lead, including the judge‘s old cases.  Her husband, a victim, was a lawyer.  They‘re going through his cases.  But what they‘re saying is that clearly the white supremacist angle is the focus of this. 

ABRAMS:  There were several suspicious phone calls made to the home from a correctional facility, right?  What do we know about that? 

HEINZMANN:  Yes, another paper reported that this morning.  It turns out that that‘s unrelated and not quite what it seemed it might be.  There was at least one phone call.  It was actually placed from the Cook County Jail, and it—what sources are telling us is it‘s part of a totally unrelated and fairly common phone scam in which inmates call people randomly trying to get them to forward calls to third parties, and it‘s just a bizarre coincidence that it was the judge.  So that appears to be a red herring.  It‘s got nothing to do with the investigation as far as the authorities are concerned. 

ABRAMS:  There was no sign of robbery, correct?  Meaning they were still wearing jewelry, et cetera.

HEINZMANN:  That‘s right.  The—nothing appeared to be taken from the house, and both victims were still wearing their watches and rings.  In the manner in which they were found leads investigators to believe that this was clearly an execution in which the intent of the crime was to go in, kill people and leave.  And that‘s what happened. 

ABRAMS:  How do they—why do they suspect that the two victims, the husband and the mother, were actually led down the stairs to their deaths? 

HEINZMANN:  Because they were lying side by side, neither of them would have—certainly the grandmother would not have naturally been in the basement.  She needed canes to get around and was not getting around easily.  The husband had recently had surgery on his Achilles tendon, so he probably would have been avoiding the steps.  So they were laid down side-by-side and shot.  Some of that information is still developing.  But it seems clear that that was part of this, is that they took them to the basement to kill them and left them there. 

ABRAMS:  You may not know the answer to this question because it relates to specifically to the investigation, but do you have any sense of whether the authorities are looking at Hale himself or simply—or more along the lines of people who supported him without him directly having ordered anything? 

HEINZMANN:  You know, all we really know on that is that it would be extraordinarily difficult for Matt Hale himself to direct this.  We have absolutely no evidence that that‘s what he did, and we know that it would be really difficult.  He is under a special watch at the federal lockup jail in Chicago in which he has—his only contact with the outside world are monitored visits with his parents or his family every week.  And otherwise he‘s got no phone privileges that normal inmates would have. 

So he‘s being watched so closely because of the past here, of the background of this case.  It would be very difficult for him to be ordering something like that.  And they just—they don‘t have any evidence of that.  What they do have a concern about is somebody in this white supremacist community, you know, doing this hoping to elevate themselves within the community or you know, there‘s a lot of talk harkening back to Benjamin Smith several years ago when he went on that shooting rampage.  They tried to pin that to Hale as well, but it seems like Smith was just trying to make a name for himself in the white supremacist community, and held Hale up as a role model. 

ABRAMS:  Give me—now—so Hale is convicted or pled guilty for the solicitation of the murder of the judge? 

HEINZMANN:  He was convicted by a jury in April of 2004.  He was arrested—well, at the beginning this is a copyright case.  There was—his organization...

ABRAMS:  Right. 

HEINZMANN:  ... was called World Church of the Creator.  There was an unrelated nonwhite supremacist group in the West Coast that sued him because they were—he was using—they had the same name.  The judge actually originally ruled in his favor and said he didn‘t have to change his name—that was overturned by an appellate court.  Then she was left to enforce it.  He refused to change the name.  She eventually sanctioned him with $200,000 in fines and that was when this whole idea that she was his enemy, you know, emerged in white supremacist circles and then in January of ‘03, he was arrested for trying to solicit her murder. 

And then in April of 2004, he was convicted of it.  And he‘s been in the federal jail in downtown Chicago since April of 2004, and he‘s expected to be or he‘s scheduled to be sentenced in that case next month. 

ABRAMS:  And she had actually been getting marshal service for a while, but it was discontinued. 


ABRAMS:  ... David Heinzmann...


ABRAMS:  Yes...

HEINZMANN:  ... during the case, so...

ABRAMS:  Yes.  OK.  Well, thank you very much, Mr. Heinzmann.  We appreciate you taking the time to come on the program. 

HEINZMANN:  You‘re welcome. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the Supreme Court weighs in on the debate over displaying the Ten Commandments in public buildings.  We talk to the state Supreme Court justice who lost his job because he insisted on displaying them.  You remember him, Roy Moore.

And Bill Cosby says he‘s sorry—sorry about something—in his first interview since a woman accused him of molesting her. 

Plus, in another exclusive interview, Scott Peterson‘s sister talking about what he was doing while volunteers were searching for his wife. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He was acting like a bachelor, you know, very interested in her. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Would it be a stretch to say he‘s flirting with the babysitter? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Not at all.  I would say he was definitely flirting with the babysitter.


ABRAMS:  Why didn‘t prosecutors call her as a witness? 

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, the U.S. Supreme Court hears two cases over the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings.  We talk with that Alabama Supreme Court justice who lost his job because he wouldn‘t remove them.  Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore joins us in a moment.




GREG ABOTT, TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL:  We made clear to the court that the Ten Commandments is of historical significance as a symbol of law in this country. 

DAVID FRIEDMAN, KENTUCKY ACLU:  One can certainly acknowledge a religious past.  The question is whether it‘s done in a way that is neutral or one that endorses a particular religious viewpoint. 


ABRAMS:  Two of the key arguments from two key players in today‘s Supreme Court battle over the Ten Commandments.  At issue, whether displays of the commandments on government property, like this one, at the Texas capital, and these from some Kentucky courts and school rooms violate the Constitution‘s ban against a government endorsement of religion. 

All right.  “My Take”—the Ten Commandments are both historical and religious, but you can‘t say they‘re just history.  The Supreme Court has made it clear in the past that they, too, view the commandments as religious, which means that if and when the commandments are displayed prominently by themselves in a state building, that is religious, a constitutional problem.  But the court has also allowed that it‘s permissible to display the commandments but only in a historical context to shed light on how they may have influenced our government today. 

As for the two cases the court is considering in Texas, where they have erected a granite tablet alone, that‘s unconstitutional, but in Kentucky where it‘s included with other documents, that should pass the constitutional test.  Roy Moore is the former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice removed from office for defying a federal judge‘s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the State Supreme Court building.  He‘s also the author of a new book, “So Help Me God: The Ten Commandments, Judicial Tyranny, And The Battle For Religious Freedom “.  Good to see you again.  Thanks for coming back on the program. 


ABRAMS:  All right, so what do you think I‘m getting wrong here?  I mean the bottom line is it seems to me that you can‘t just say that the Ten Commandments are only historical.  You would concede, right, that they‘re religious? 

MOORE:  Absolutely.  I think you‘ve got it outlined pretty much.  I think what you can see here is what the defendants in McCulloch County in Texas are saying.  They‘re saying it‘s just historical.  It has no present meaning.  Well, obviously the people that put up the Ten Commandments, it has a meaning.  That was recognized by Justice Scalia today in the argument when he said why can‘t we acknowledge God is the foundation of this country? 

And you can also see it in the arguments or questions of Justice Souter who said we know what‘s going on here.  Yes, what‘s going on here is an acknowledgment of God, but in my book “So Help Me God,” you will see why it is not wrong to acknowledge God under the First Amendment.  In fact, it is all together proper to do so because without the acknowledgment of God, there would be no First Amendment.  It was this God...

ABRAMS:  All right...

MOORE:  ... who gave us freedom of conscious, which was secured by the First Amendment. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  I respect that honesty, at least...


ABRAMS:  ... because it sounds like there‘s a level of dishonesty going on here where people are saying oh no, no, we didn‘t mean it at all in terms of religion. 


ABRAMS:  No, no, no.  Yes, OK...

MOORE:  I think you‘re right...

ABRAMS:  Let me...


ABRAMS:  All right, fair enough.  Let me challenge you on this issue, though...

MOORE:  Yes sir.

ABRAMS:  ... with regard to the Ten Commandments.  This is from the ACLU brief on this issue. 

MOORE:  Sure. 

ABRAMS:  Different textual versions of the Ten Commandments reflect deep historical and religious disputes among Christian religions and between Christians and Jews.  Displaying one version necessarily favors one religion over others and necessarily disfavors those with other religious beliefs or none at all. 

MOORE:  Right.  Well, what you‘re saying here is there are different versions of the Ten Commandments, but there is one God.  And what the question is in these cases is whether we can acknowledge this God.  In my case, that is exactly what the federal judge said.  Can the state acknowledge God?  We‘ve got to distinguish...

ABRAMS:  But you have to choose one, though. 

MOORE:  No...

ABRAMS:  You got to choose one of the versions of the Ten Commandments to...

MOORE:  Whatever version you choose it‘s an acknowledgment of God.  The thing we have to go—when you talk about textual versions, we got to go by the textual version of the United States Constitution First Amendment.  Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.  We‘ve got to define religion and religion was not defined as God.  Religion was... 

ABRAMS:  But I‘m not just talking about God, though.  Let‘s stay on the Ten Commandments issue, though...

MOORE:  Well it‘s not about the Ten Commandments, though...

ABRAMS:  But it is in front of the court...


ABRAMS:  ... in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. 


ABRAMS:  That‘s the issue that they are deciding.  They may decide it more broadly. 

MOORE:  Well you said...

ABRAMS:  But the bottom line is the specific issue is the Ten Commandments.

MOORE:  You said they would argue whether it is historical or whether it has a meaning.  It is about whether you can acknowledge a sovereign God, and the answer lies, Dan, in the definition of religion as quoted by the Supreme Court in 1878 and 1890.  It was the duties we owe to the creator and the manner of discharging it.  The definition itself recognizes God and the Supreme Court won‘t address...


MOORE:  ... the textual meaning of the words in the First Amendment. 


ABRAMS:  All right—but let‘s focus—can we focus just...

MOORE:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  ... on the Ten Commandments, though, for a moment? 

MOORE:  Well again...

ABRAMS:  What do you make of the fact—but you‘ve got to be able to

·         I mean if you were answering the justices‘ questions, you know that they would be focusing you on this.  You would be...

MOORE:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... talking about the issue you want to discuss and they would be saying, sir, I‘m asking a separate question.  What I‘m asking you is, specifically on the issue of the Ten Commandments, how do you deal with the fact that different versions of it are supported by different religions, and therefore, whatever choice is made by whoever it is, is making a choice about a particular religion?

MOORE:  I would say they‘re not different in that they recognize the same God in all of them would be proper.  You‘ve got to understand that the arguments of counsel are based on the acknowledgment of God.  And you said that yourself.  Some arguing it‘s just historical, has nothing to do with religion, and the others, like Scalia saying, well, of course something is going on here.  We know what this is about.  It‘s about God.  And he says...

ABRAMS:  Here‘s something you‘d want to...

MOORE:  ... why can‘t we acknowledge God...

ABRAMS:  ... here‘s an issue I know you‘d want to respond to.


ABRAMS:  This is about the—you‘re focusing on the history and one of the arguments is—number four—history does not support the displays‘ assertion that the Ten Commandments provide the foundation of our legal system, and the displays themselves offer no evidence to support the bald assertion that the Decalogue provided the moral background for the Declaration of Independence, for example. 

MOORE:  The Decalogue is the basis of all moral law, and that was recognized by our forefathers.  For example, George Washington and our first Congress, as soon as they finished the inaugural address, went and sat in a church in front of the Decalogue...

ABRAMS:  Not a particularly religious man, though, George Washington. 

MOORE:  Oh he was very religious.  He said in his farewell address of all the dispositions and habits...


MOORE:  ... which lead to political prosperity, religion...


MOORE:  ... and morality are indispensable supports.


MOORE:  He went on to say...


MOORE:  ... that let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.  Whatever may be conceded...


MOORE:  ... to the influence of refined education...


MOORE:  ... on minds of a peculiar structure...


MOORE:  ... reason and experience...

ABRAMS:  You...

MOORE:  ... expect that national morality...

ABRAMS:  You know those...


ABRAMS:  You know are isolated quotes, though.  You know those are isolated quotes and the bottom line is that if you are taking George Washington as a whole...

MOORE:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... that you can‘t make an argument that he was a religious man as we know religious men today.  Very quickly...

MOORE:  Listen...

ABRAMS:  ... respond and then I‘ve got to go. 

MOORE:  ... his first—his inaugural address he said such being the impressions, under which I have, in obedience to the...

ABRAMS:  All right.

MOORE:  ... repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to...

ABRAMS:  All right.

MOORE:  ... that that almighty being...

ABRAMS:  All right.

MOORE:  ... who rules over the universe.  And one more thing, Dan, let me just say you was talking about Washington...

ABRAMS:  I got to...


ABRAMS:  I got to wrap it up. 

MOORE:  Let me just say in his first presidential...

ABRAMS:  Ten seconds. 

MOORE:  ... proclamation, he said whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God to obey his will and be grateful for his benefits.  So I mean...

ABRAMS:  I would recommend to my viewers do a little research on this themselves.  And I think that they will maybe come up with a different answer...

MOORE:  Read the...

ABRAMS:  ... as to George Washington‘s religious background...

MOORE:  Read the...

ABRAMS:  But Roy Moore, thank you. 


ABRAMS:  ... they will...

MOORE:  I‘d appreciate if you could read the book.

ABRAMS:  Good to see you again. 

MOORE:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Appreciate you coming back. 

MOORE:  Well thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, two big exclusive interviews.  Bill Cosby speaks out for the first time two—after two women claimed he drugged and molested them.  He says his actions may have been misinterpreted.  We talk to the man who got the exclusive. 


ABRAMS:  Bill Cosby speaking out for the first time in an exclusive

interview with “The National Enquirer” since allegations that he sexually

assaulted two women surfaced in January.  He told “The Enquirer”—quote -

·         “Looking back on it I realize that words and actions can be misinterpreted by another person and unless you‘re a supreme being, you can‘t predict what another individual will do.  That‘s all behind me now and I‘m looking only toward a bright future.”

Authorities decided not to press any charges against Cosby.  “National Enquirer‘s” assistant executive editor Barry Levine is the one who spoke with Bill Cosby exclusively.  He joins me now.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  All right.  What does he mean by misinterpreted?  I mean it sounds like there is some level of concession there that something happened. 

BARRY LEVINE, “THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER”:  Well, Dan, Bill Cosby, first of all is quite happy that he‘s been cleared of criminal charges—I‘m sorry, Bill Cosby is quite happy that criminal charges have not been filed.  He told me that his heart sank when these allegations were first lodged against him, and that he put his family, particularly his wife, through great emotional stress. 

Now, the fact is Bill Cosby knows that a civil suit is still looming, and so Bill Cosby could not—could only talk in broad terms.  But he strenuously denies that he did anything wrong and he says what happened here is a misinterpretation of events.  He said words and actions that took place with this individual resulted in an understanding by her that was not what Bill Cosby understood.  And he said simply that you know without being God, he could not predict you know, how she would view these actions. 

ABRAMS:  Did he admit to you that he had some sort of sexual relationship with the woman? 

LEVINE:  No, not at all, Dan.  In fact, Bill Cosby was somewhat emotional.  He said that as the woman‘s family had said in Canada, that Bill had been a mentor and a friend to her, and that Bill Cosby thought that—he said, you know, you try to help individuals and they take advantage of you and they can end up soiling you.  And so there‘s certainly some anger on Bill Cosby‘s part now based on this woman‘s allegations against him.  And I could tell from sitting down with him for an hour that he was absolutely devastated over the claims, and he feels absolutely that he did nothing wrong. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Getting that—quote—and this is from your article—“I‘m not saying that what I did was wrong, but I apologize to my loving wife who has stood by my side for all these years for any pain I have caused her.  These allegations have caused my family great emotional stress.”  You‘ve got the quote and you‘ve got the quote where he says that she may have misinterpreted it.  Take it together, it sure sounds like he‘s saying something. 

LEVINE:  Well, Dan, I‘ll tell you, Bill Cosby told me a story.  He is somewhat of a teacher.  He went into this long story as an example of a kid in school who the principal sends home a note that the boy—an incident took place with his teacher and that Bill Cosby said the fact is the parent is told that the boy said that his teacher had slapped him, and then finally after a long period of time, it came out that the boy had, in fact, kicked the teacher.  So by Bill Cosby telling me the story, he basically was saying, I believe that this woman was lying. 

And he said, you know, when people tell stories and they don‘t tell the full truth, obviously they‘re lying.  So you know, he did not want to go after her directly because, as I said, a civil suit is looming. 

ABRAMS:  Right.

LEVINE:  But he certainly is defending himself and he said he will not be exploited.  That he‘s already been involved in an extortion case. 

ABRAMS:  All right.

LEVINE:  He‘s not going to take this sitting down. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Barry Levine got the exclusive for “The National Enquirer”.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program. 

LEVINE:  Thank you, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, she was the sister Scott Peterson turned to when he needed a place to escape while police searched for Laci.  That‘s when she says she started to suspect he had actually killed Laci. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I asked what leads do the police have?  He was almost dismissive you know that that you know, was not of interest to him. 


ABRAMS:  Her exclusive interview is up next.

And 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, you heard about Amber Frey, but was there another woman in Scott Peterson‘s life after Laci‘s disappearance?  An exclusive interview with Scott Peterson‘s half sister is up next.  First the headlines. 



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 had had an affair and distinctly and casual about it?  Accommodating?  Makes a peace with it? 

SCOTT PETERSON, FOUND GUILTY OF MURDERING HIS WIFE:  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:  That interview, number four on a list of 33 reasons why Scott Peterson‘s sister thinks her brother is guilty of killing his wife and unborn son.  And now for the first time in an exclusive interview with NBC, Anne Bird talks about how she went from loving and trusting him completely to suspecting him of murder.  Here‘s Matt Lauer. 


ANNE BIRD, SCOTT PETERSON‘S SISTER:  Scott is charismatic, charming, courteous, polite.  When you are talking to him, he looks directly at you, and you are the only person he‘s focusing on. 

MATT LAUER, CO-ANCHOR, “TODAY”:  Does that come naturally or does it almost seem rehearsed, practiced? 

BIRD:  It seems a little bit of both. 

LAUER (voice-over):  Anne Bird was given up for adoption as an infant by her mom, Scott‘s mom, Jackie Peterson.  Anne was only reunited with her half brother Scott in 1997, but she soon came to love Scott and his wife Laci.  And Scott so trusted Anne that when Laci disappeared on Christmas Eve, 2002, and Scott became a suspect, he sought refuge from the police and the media in Anne‘s home.  He actually moved in, staying in a loft bedroom that overlooked the San Francisco Bay. 

(on camera):  The first day Scott gets there, you all have dinner together...

BIRD:  Right.

LAUER:  ... the three of you.  Tim your husband, you, and Scott. 

BIRD:  Right.

LAUER:  What do you remember about that dinner? 

BIRD:  You know, we had a lot of wine and...

LAUER:  Two bottles between the three of you...

BIRD:  Two bottles...

LAUER:  ... I think, right? 

BIRD:  Yes. 

LAUER:  And what was Scott‘s demeanor at that dinner? 

BIRD:  You know, he didn‘t bring up Laci‘s name.  He stayed away from the entire topic. 

LAUER:  She‘s been missing for three weeks. 

BIRD:  Yes. 

LAUER:  There are vigils all over the place and he never brings up her name at dinner? 

BIRD:  No. 

LAUER:  What did you think about that? 

BIRD:  I thought that maybe this is a man who was so traumatized that you know maybe he can‘t show emotion in front of us. 

LAUER:  As the wine continued to flow, did he open up at all?  Did he seem more emotional? 

BIRD:  No, no, he seemed to be enjoying himself. 

LAUER (voice-over):  Anne was seeing Scott up close at a time when he was avoiding the news media and police.  She was getting insights no one else had.


LAUER:  She says that while police and volunteers searched for Laci, Scott just sat in her living room and watched TV. 

(on camera):  Did you ever, you know, on a quite evening or in a morning pull up a chair next to him and say, Scott, what do you think happened to Laci? 

BIRD:  Well I asked often.  And you know I asked what leads do the police have?  And he was almost dismissive, you know, that that you know was not of interest to him. 

LAUER (voice-over):  Scott may have seemed indifferent to the search for Laci, but Anne says he seemed anything but indifferent to her babysitter, an attractive woman in her 20‘s. 

BIRD:  It was a little bit awkward.  He was acting like a bachelor, you know, very interested in her. 

LAUER (on camera):  Would it be a stretch to say he‘s flirting with the babysitter?

BIRD:  Not at all—I would say he was definitely flirting with our babysitter. 

LAUER (voice-over):  In late March, Scott came to Anne‘s house to see the babysitter, and mixed her a cocktail he called a flirtini. 

BIRD:  It was such an odd situation.  You know here he is, you know kind of a person on television every single night who has a missing wife and he‘s walking around our living room handing out flirtinis.

LAUER (on camera):  And hitting on the babysitter...

BIRD:  And hitting...

LAUER:  ... as if he is single. 

BIRD:  Yes. 

LAUER (voice-over):  It would have been comical if it weren‘t so deadly serious.  On April 13, the body of a full-term baby boy washed ashore in San Francisco Bay.  A day later the badly decomposed body of a woman was found nearby.  It was Laci Peterson and the little boy she had planned to name Connor.

LAUER (on camera):  They were found about two miles from your home, correct? 

BIRD:  Yes.

LAUER:  Two miles from that room where he would sleep when he was your houseguest overlooking the bay. 

BIRD:  I know.  In the same bay that he was saying you‘re wasting your time in looking there.

LAUER:  Do you think he was guilty then? 

BIRD:  You know, a part of me, I think, did.  A part of me was kind of getting it.  But I still, you know, tried to keep a wall up. 

LAUER (voice-over):  Anne found it almost impossible to suspect her own brother of murder, but four days later Scott was under arrest, and soon Anne would face the facts.  Not only that he could have done it, but that she might know how and why. 


ABRAMS:  A flirtini?  “My Take”—I can‘t say that I‘m surprised.  It seems that just about everyone who was willing to be even remotely objective about Scott Peterson‘s behavior after the murder says he didn‘t act like a grieving husband.  Joining me now, criminal defense attorney and Peterson trial watcher Daniel Horowitz.  All right, Daniel, first of all, give us—why didn‘t she testify in the trial? 

DANIEL HOROWITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, Dan, I think that she was untrustworthy and at the same time, she had something to offer that neither side wanted.  And strangely, even though I call her untrustworthy, she might be offering the truth, and here‘s why.  She paints the picture and reason number 23 goes along with the one that you cited, number four, that Jackie told her that the marriage was rocky three times before Laci disappeared.

The marriage is rocky.  That sets up the defense for saying well it was a voluntary manslaughter.  They were fighting.  But the defense didn‘t want that.  They wanted complete innocence and the prosecution didn‘t want that because that only carried, believe it or not, a 22-year sentence.  They wanted death.  So I think everybody felt it more convenient to just ignore Anne Bird. 

ABRAMS:  Yes and according—if you listen to Peterson‘s lawyers or his family, there was no rocky relationship.  Everything was just peachy keen when this happened. 

HOROWITZ:  You know, Dan, I think that was a big tactical mistake because when you listen to the Amber tapes and I‘ve said this on your show, he‘s constantly saying to Amber, my marriage was lost.  I lost my wife.  I have something to say, but I can‘t tell you right now.  It would hurt too many people. 

And Amber, Dan, on the tapes says Scott I believe that you don‘t think that Connor was your baby.  And you know, he might not have.  Maybe the marriage was that rocky.  And that would really give a motive for murder...

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know...

HOROWITZ:  ... but also a motive for a heated passion killing. 

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know.  I—come on, Daniel, to suggest that he didn‘t believe that Connor was his baby is to suggest that Laci was having a relationship with someone else and there‘s just nothing to indicate that at all.  I mean the bottom line is...

HOROWITZ:  I agree. 

ABRAMS:  ... yes, I mean there may be evidence to suggest that Scott Peterson thought their relationship was rocky, but, you know, not because of that. 

HOROWITZ:  But Dan...


HOROWITZ:  ... you know, if he‘s cheating—but if he‘s cheating as much as Anne Bird says with the two women on the plane and flirting repeatedly, he very easily could suspect his wife as loving as she might be and true blue...


HOROWITZ:  ... of doing the same thing he did.  And if it‘s such a bad marriage...

ABRAMS:  Oh come on...

HOROWITZ:  ... then maybe...

ABRAMS:  ... come on...

HOROWITZ:  ... well, Dan, it‘s on the tapes...

ABRAMS:  All right...

HOROWITZ:  That‘s my argument...


ABRAMS:  But that‘s—it‘s on the tapes, but that‘s—I just think that‘s a misinterpretation of what‘s on the tape.  I never interpreted that on the tape to suggest that Scott Peterson was—and again, you are suddenly saying we trust Scott Peterson on the tapes when it comes to his relationship.  I‘ve got to wrap it up, Daniel.  I‘ll take you out for a flirtini sometimes.  Thank.

You can hear more of Matt Lauer‘s exclusive interview with Anne Bird tonight in a special edition of “Dateline” at 8:00, 7:00 central on NBC. 

Coming up from the Jackson courthouse right here in Santa Maria, a witness mentions those 1993 allegations against Jackson.  The judge hasn‘t even decided whether the jurors would even hear about them.  Does that mean they are now fair game? 

And the Robert Blake trial wrapping up today with closing arguments. 

Who knew?  How is the case going for prosecutors? 



ABRAMS:  Back now with “Just A Minute”.  I lay out the day‘s other legal stories.  My guest has a minute to talk to me about the issues.  Joining me now former Massachusetts‘ prosecutor Bill Fallon. 

All right, Bill, issue one:  I am out here in Santa Maria at the Michael Jackson trial.  Today a crisis management expert who worked for Jackson testified about the panic in the Jackson camp after a documentary aired where he talked about sleeping with children, but Ann Kite also referenced the 1993 molestation allegations against Jackson.  She said the release of the ‘93 accuser‘s affidavit along with the documentary was—quote—“beyond a disaster.”  The judge hadn‘t ruled the ‘93 allegations would come into evidence.  So does this reference to the allegations mean the jury is going to hear about it?  Sure makes me think that this judge doesn‘t seem so worried about it. 

WILLIAM FALLON, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  Dan, it is amazing to me that these allegations have come out with no objection originally.  First of all, I think the judge—it‘s lazy, judicial, if you will, administration.  I think this is one of the major issues of the case.  It should have been decided before the trial, not just for the pleasure of the prosecutor but for the necessity of the defense.  We know the judge in this case is letting in some ‘93 naked book of boys and clothed books of boys, so it seemed to me that he was telling us it‘s going to be coming in.  It was in the Bashir film and unless we had... 

ABRAMS:  And it was in the jury questionnaire. 

FALLON:  Absolutely...

ABRAMS:  Bill, it was in the jury questionnaire...


ABRAMS:  They were asked what do you know about the ‘93 allegations? 

FALLON:  And you know many judges would say well I don‘t have to decide, of course they should have decided by then.  When it was in the Bashir documentary and now that this woman says on a scale of 1-10, this wasn‘t a 10, it was a 25 in horrificness, he has made a decision it should come in, and if I‘m the defense, if I‘ve objected all along and he doesn‘t let in it, trust me, it‘s the end of that case.  It will be a mistrial because it‘s an important issue, but I think it‘s coming in. 

ABRAMS:  I think it‘s coming in, too.  All right. 

Issue two:  Believe it or not, the under the radar Robert Blake murder trial is almost over.  Closing arguments today.  Blake, you know, accused of gunning his wife of six months, Bonny Lee Bakley.  Prosecutors say he killed her only after trying unsuccessfully to solicit others to do it for him, asking them if they would pop or snuff his wife.  Blake‘s attorneys have just begun his closing.  He spent much of the trial attacking the credibility of the prosecution‘s key witnesses who said Blake tried to hire them to kill Bakley.  So Bill, you got a sense of how the case is going for prosecutors? 

FALLON:  Well Dan, I think that this is a case of what we call in the prosecution business the Baretta vendetta.  And I think as far as I‘m concerned the prosecution was promising a lot.  I don‘t know that anybody did that well.  Now you would say for the prosecution‘s main witnesses who actually put the case—excuse me—pieces together for the jury you‘d say, hey, they should be pretty good, but then if they are scum of the earth like they are saying Blake is, that‘s where you pick them up.  That‘s what prosecutors always have to say.  She used the word they were colorful. 

In her disjointed closing argument which I would say is a very bad sign because if you have to take four hours to give your closing argument that‘s a sign of weakness for the prosecution.  On the other hand, this is a jury that probably wanted to hear from Baretta and they didn‘t hear from him...


FALLON:  We know why he couldn‘t because he probably would have to confirm a lot of this, so they had independent evidence...

ABRAMS:  Yes...

FALLON:  ... that he knew these people.

ABRAMS:  Yes, he would have had to confirm that he basically hated her, that he basically—that he says he left his gun at the restaurant and that‘s when she‘s suddenly killed and have to explain, you know, what he said to these other guys.  I think they made the right call keeping him off the...

FALLON:  I think they made the...

ABRAMS:  I got to wrap it up.  Bill Fallon, good to see you.  I know...


ABRAMS:  ... we‘re out of time. 

Coming up, this morning reports of a supposed terror threat to Grand Central Station in New York, but just hours later we find out the evidence seemingly no cause for alarm, so is the media and the Justice Department overstating terror threats?  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, is the Justice Department and the media overstating the terror threats?  The latest example, the supposed threats in New York‘s Grand Central Station.  I say they are.  It‘s my “Closing Argument” next.


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—overstating the terror threat—the media and the Bush Justice Department exaggerating foiled terror attacks or threats to the U.S. that might have, could have been but really weren‘t.  The latest example, the breathless reporting this morning and throughout the day about a supposed terror threat to Grand Central Station.  Numerous major news outlets led their newscasts with it questioning whether the Madrid bombers who killed 191 with 10 backpack bombs had been plotting an attack on the famed New York train station. 

The evidence, a Spanish newspaper report that a search of one of the suspect‘s home turned up a sketch of what appeared to be Grand Central and some other computer data.  But then some hours later, New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says—quote—“We have no information to indicate that these drawings were part of an operational plan to attack Grand Central Station.”  Kelly went on to say he didn‘t think this new sketch was even cause for alarm. 

Look, in the months after 9/11 I was as guilty as anyone, convinced the U.S. homeland was going to suffer another attack.  Any hint of a threat sent shivers through my bones and I covered countless supposed threats.  I still believe we are a nation at risk.  But now with three and a half years of experience with supposed threats that have turned out to be nothing, we in the media need to take more care in how to report these homeland security issues. 

But that is made a lot more difficult because it‘s often hard to trust the administration when it comes to this issue as well.  For example, American citizen Jose Padilla locked up in a Navy brig for nearly three years, his arrest heralded with a press conference from Moscow by Attorney General Ashcroft who said Padilla was—quote—“at the center of an unfolding terrorist plot to attack the United States by exploding a dirty radio active bomb.”

But this week, a federal judge ruled he should be released.  The government doesn‘t seem to even have enough evidence to charge him with a crime?  In August, the government announced a computer file seized in Pakistan supposedly indicated financial institutions in New York, Jersey, Washington were al Qaeda targets.  The press, me included, went into overdrive covering the potential attacks.  Turned out that the information was old, probably from before 9/11 and a CIA informer who‘d provided information leading to the warning was apparently lying. 

Look, in the intelligence community better safe than sorry is a clich’ to live by and just because intelligence turns out to be wrong doesn‘t mean someone is to blame.  But I‘m not certain we‘re safer when we can‘t trust the messengers. 

Coming up in 60 seconds, some burglars will steal the shirt off your back.  Others will leave you their clothes at the scene of the crime.  Our “OH PLEAs!” is next. 


ABRAMS:  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  In my “Closing Argument” last night, I predicted that Michael Jackson will not be convicted by the Santa Maria jury.  I said if both sides deliver what was promised in opening statements, the prosecutors will be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jackson is weird and inappropriate.  The defense will be able to show this family cannot be trusted enough to take away Jackson‘s freedom based on their testimony.

Holly Tooker in Manhattan.  “Dan, I cannot believe you should declare that Jackson will walk on the first day of the trial.  Are you nuts?  The jury will see that Jackson plied these boys with liquor and exposed them to porn, and that he admits that they slept in his fortified bedroom.  But you believe that they will think that was charming and all milk and cookies there at Neverland and that he didn‘t molest them?”

No Holly, as I said, I think they will believe he‘s inappropriate.  But I don‘t expect they‘ll be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the boy is telling the truth about the molestations. 

From Palmyra (ph), Montana, Carol Ann Johnson seems to think I didn‘t go far enough.  “Dan, you‘re so against Jackson and you‘re really letting it show in your coverage.  It‘s so wrong.”

And Rebecca Reza in El Paso writes in about Jackson shimmying in the courtroom seat.  His music from the video “Living With Michael Jackson” was played in court.  “Many reports criticize Michael for bopping his head, but he‘s a dancer, is he not?”

Yes, but Rebecca, he‘s in a courtroom.  If he was a stripper, would that mean he could begin to remove clothing as the music was played? 

“OH PLEAs!”—some revealing evidence at a robbery in South Jordan, Utah bares the naked truth about the burglar.  An 18-year-old male suspect was allegedly doing some dirty work, robbing a home, but there were some kinks in the plan.  The residents suddenly returned.  In a mad rush, the burglar escaped the home undetained, but not unexposed.

The residents apparently walked in on the burglar sitting at their computer, looking at porn sites, and calling 900-phone sex.  But there was something—her clothes.  That‘s right.  Police found the 18-year-old hacker 10 minutes later dressed in her underwear and pajamas.  In exchange, the suspect left his wallet and photo I.D. at the scene.  They weren‘t just anywhere.  The burglar left his pants there with his boots.  Apparently, not boots for walking.

Got to go.  See you. 


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