updated 3/15/2005 11:57:03 AM ET 2005-03-15T16:57:03

Guest:  Gayle Abramson, Clint Van Zandt, Gerry Spence, Susan Filan, Ronald Richards

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, a survivor‘s ordeal. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ASHLEY SMITH, HELD HOSTAGE BY BRIAN NICHOLS:  He said I don‘t want to hurt you.  I don‘t want to hurt anybody else, so please don‘t do anything that‘s going to make me hurt you.  He said that you know that somebody could have heard your scream already and if they did, the police are on the way and I‘m going to have to hold you hostage and I‘m going to have to kill you and probably myself and lots of other people, and I don‘t want that. 

ABRAMS (voice-over):  Ashley Smith‘s seven hours of fear and heroism with Atlanta courthouse shooter Brian Nichols, how the single mom gained the trust of the killer and then turned him into police. 

Plus, an exclusive interview with the woman who may have been Nichols‘ primary target.  She was prosecuting Nichols at the time, about to walk into court when he began shooting.  This time Friday night, Gayle Abramson was in protective custody. 

And Michael Jackson‘s accuser admits he told a former teacher that nothing happened between him and Jackson.  How much trouble will that mean for prosecutors? 

The program about justice starts now. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  We have got a lot to tell you today.  We are now getting details of exactly how alleged Atlanta courthouse killer Brian Nichols overpowered a female guard at the courthouse.  Before we talk to the prosecutor who could have been Nichols‘ target in an exclusive interview—she was standing right outside the courtroom.  We‘re also going to hear from the woman who turned him in. 

But first, here is what we know based on a surveillance camera tape that has not yet been released.  Here‘s how it happened—Deputy Sheriff Cynthia Hall seen escorting Nichols to a holding cell.  Hall then apparently uncuffs one of Nichols‘ wrists.  Nichols overpowers Hall, shoving the woman into an opposing cell and out of the camera‘s view.  Nichols then enters the cell, off camera allegedly attacks Hall, a few minute later Nichols emerges from the cell with Hall‘s gun belt and her keys, locks the injured deputy in the holding cell, then enters an adjacent empty cell to change clothes. 

A couple of minutes later Nichols exits the cell dressed in civilian clothe, locks the door behind him, and calmly walks out of the holding area into the courtroom where he shot the judge and his court reporter.  Nichols allegedly went on to murder two others and alluded police for more than 24 hours.  He surrendered peacefully on Saturday morning after breaking into the home of Ashley Smith, who he held hostage for nearly seven hours, tied her up, but instead of panicking, she talked to Nichols about God and her family, essentially calming him down after his deadly rampage. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH:  If you don‘t turn yourself in, lots more people are going to get hurt, and you‘re probably going to die.  And he said, I don‘t want that to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Ashley‘s survival story is really—it‘s just amazing.  Coming up, you‘ll hear more from her how she connected with Nichols and eventually earned his trust and most importantly saved her own life, possibly that of many others. 

But first, a woman who could have been Nichols‘ primary target.  When we left you Friday night, our next guest, Prosecutor Gayle Abramson, was in protective custody, unable to come on the show after receiving a death threat.  Abramson had been in an Atlanta courthouse on Friday, heading for the courtroom.  She was prosecuting Brian Nichols for rape. 

Gayle Abramson, Fulton County, Atlanta, assistant district attorney joins us now.  Thank you so much for coming on the program.  I appreciate it. 

GAYLE ABRAMSON, FULTON CNTY., ATLANTA, ASSISTANT D.A.:  Sure, Dan.  My pleasure. 

ABRAMS:  So first, just let me ask you, how do you feel now that he‘s been captured? 

ABRAMSON:  Very good personally.  I was always confident that he would be captured, but I feel very good. 

ABRAMS:  Were you scared? 

ABRAMSON:  For—I wasn‘t scared.  I think it‘s a scary thing to be threatened like that.  However, I was very confident in law enforcement in the protection of both my office and the Atlanta Police Department—they know who they are—who really stepped up to the plate to protect me while at the same time their agencies were out looking out for the suspect.  So there was never a time where I was that terrified, but definitely a very scary thing to know I was so close to harm‘s way. 

ABRAMS:  Now you were in protective custody Friday after a call comes in to the jail that basically says I‘m going to kill Gayle Abramson.  Have you gotten more information about whether that call was actually made from Nichols? 

ABRAMSON:  Actually, I haven‘t.  I know that they are—the authorities have looked into it and are looking into it.  I also know that the suspect may have been questioned about it.  But I haven‘t gotten any information on whether that call actually came from him or not. 

ABRAMS:  How was it—when you were prosecuting and look, no one likes being prosecuted and no one generally likes the prosecutor when you are the defendant, but give me a sense of what it was like inside the courtroom with him before any of this happened. 

ABRAMSON:  Well Dan, the first—during the first trial, nothing was really out of the ordinary.  And the second trial things started to become a little bit odd.  There was some odd behavior, and of course, you know that the suspect, the defendant was discovered with some door hinges in his shoes.  Once that was taken care of, there was no other reason to fear him, really no overt behavior on his part that would have made any of us think that something like this could have happened. 

ABRAMS:  So he didn‘t like eyeball you in court—because I know prosecutors have told me that the defendants are staring them down in the courtroom, et cetera.  That did not happen with him? 

ABRAMSON:  Well, several times I feel as though he probably did look my way or look at me.  It‘s my practice—I take my cases very seriously and I focus on the evidence in presenting the case.  I did have some communication from him about Thursday when he looked at me and he got my attention and told me he thought I was doing a much better job, which I found to be a sarcastic remark and one from a defendant.  So I did not respond.  But really that‘s the only communication I received from him.  As far as other looks, I make it my practice to not to look at a defendant when I‘m prosecuting.  So there could have been times where he did look at me in a threatening manner, but none that I would have seen. 

ABRAMS:  And tell me exactly—well first tell me about—you mention the two sort of homemade knives type things he tried to sneak into the courtroom the day before.  You had asked for more security as a result of that, right? 

ABRAMSON:  That‘s correct. 

ABRAMS:  And what happened?

ABRAMSON:  We had—well we had discovered the information on Thursday morning, the 10th of March, that the night before Mr. Nichols was discovered with those in his shoes.  We were immediately called into Judge Barnes‘ chambers—both his attorney, Nichols‘ attorney, myself, and my investigator, and we discussed the matter.  We asked for more security and all agreed that we would let the Sheriff‘s Department know, which they were alerted and they did provide more security in the form of more deputies coming into the courtroom.  But as far as you know him being in a holding cell or other places like that, he seemed to be to be a threat now in the courtroom.  And as far as asking for more security in the courtroom, we did receive that security. 

ABRAMS:  So you don‘t know about the decisions with regard to not in the courtroom, right? 

ABRAMSON:  That‘s correct. 

ABRAMS:  Tell us exactly where you were...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... I‘m sorry. 

ABRAMSON:  Go ahead. 

ABRAMS:  I was just going to ask you to tell us where you were when this happened.  You were literally right outside the courtroom? 

ABRAMSON:  Yes, I was.  It was interesting because the state—I was about to rest my case.  I had the lead detective still to put up as a witness.  After that I would have rested, and Mr. Nichols was scheduled to take the stand, So I had been preparing my cross-examination and I was headed up to the courtroom when I got a phone call from the victim in the case, and it delayed me just a little bit.  My office is one floor below the courtroom, so I was headed towards the courtroom and I was actually running a minute or two late, luckily looking back.  But I was probably about a minute from the courtroom when I was told to turn around and go back to my office. 

ABRAMS:  Wow.  And then when you find—did you hear the shots?

ABRAMSON:  I didn‘t hear the shots, no, but I immediately heard the commotion and was immediately made aware by several people that I needed to stay downstairs until we really found out what exactly had transpired up in Judge Barnes‘ courtroom. 

ABRAMS:  You know I know that prosecutors have to keep nerves of steel to a certain degree.  Is this going to make it harder for you to go back prosecuting cases and are you going to have to you prosecute him again? 

ABRAMSON:  I hope so.  To be honest with you—and I hope to be involved in the best way I can, either part of the prosecution team in the murder case or at least you know, in any way I can help as far as being a witness.  The rape case isn‘t over, Dan, and I‘m still the lead prosecutor in that case and we intend to prosecute him for the rape charges.  I think as a human, I might be more aware and have some trepidation as far as walking into a courtroom at least for the next couple of months. 

However, I am a prosecutor and being a prosecutor for seven years, I think I have developed kind of nerves of steel.  So in some ways it kind of fuels my fire a little bit to see the ends of justice be served.  I‘m confident also that there will be more protection and that my office in conjunction with the Sheriff‘s Department will make sure that the courthouse is very safe and a safe place for me to walk into and others to walk into to prosecute criminal defendants.

ABRAMS:  And you‘re confident that they can provide that security even in wake of—in the wake of what happened? 

ABRAMSON:  I think that the events were so devastatingly unfortunate, but I think that they will kind of inspire the Sheriff‘s Department and other agencies to provide more security and to make sure that you know no stone is left unturned.  That everybody, myself, judges, all prosecutors, everyone is protected.  So I am confident that that will be done and justice has to go on...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

ABRAMSON:  ... and we just need to make the people that protect it a little bit stronger. 

ABRAMS:  You know, Gayle, I said this to your colleague Paul Howard on Friday, you know, you guys deserve so much credit, all prosecutors, but you know after going through this, the willingness to go back into the courtroom and bring this guy down, you deserve enormous credit.  And I think your actions and your attitude about all this you really deserve enormous credit.  Thank you so much for coming on the program and good luck to you. 

ABRAMSON:  Thank you, Dan.  Good to be here. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, we hear from the woman who‘s being called a hero, another one.  Brian Nichols took Ashley Smith hostage at her apartment complex.  He tied her up, talked to her for hours, eventually earned her trust. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH:  But I kind of feel that he started to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) he said maybe, maybe I‘ll let you go.  Just maybe.  We‘ll see how things...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Ashley Smith is up next. 

And Michael Jackson‘s accuser back on the witness stand admitting he didn‘t always tell the same account he‘s told on the stand about Michael Jackson.  What does that mean for prosecutors? 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the woman held hostage by alleged courthouse killer Brian Nichols and who later turned him into police, coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  More on this Atlanta case.  Since her own husband‘s murder back in 2001 and the crime still remains unsolved, Ashley Smith said she was looking for purpose in her life.  On Saturday some would argue she found that purpose after encountering alleged courthouse killer Brian Nichols at her suburban Atlanta apartment complex.

Smith says she used her own power of faith to calm Nichols down, gently urging him to turn himself in.  It was Smith who called police after Nichols allow her to leave to see her daughter, but before parting ways, Nichols call Smith his—quote—“angel” asked if she would visit him in prison.  Here is how Ashley Smith described her seven-hour ordeal in her own words during one of the largest manhunts in Georgia history.  We pick up after Nichols has forced Smith into the apartment just past 2:00 in the morning. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH:  He told me to go into the bathroom.  So I went to the bathroom and he followed me into the bathroom.  And he said do you know who I am?  I said no because he had a hat on.  And then he took his hat off and he said, now do you know who I am?  And I said, yes, I know who you are.  Please don‘t hurt me.  Please don‘t hurt me.  I have a 5-year-old little girl.  Please don‘t hurt me.

He said I‘m not going to hurt you if you just do what I say.  I said, all right.  He brought some masking tape and an extension cord and a curtain in there and I kind of thought he was going to strangle me.  I was kind of—I was really kind of scared.  But he told me to turn around and put my hands behind my back.  And he wrapped my hands in a prayer—in a praying position, so I did that and he wrapped masking tape around my hands. 

I told him that I was supposed to go see my little girl the next morning at 10:00 and I asked him if I could go see her, and he told me no.  My husband died four years ago, and I told him that if he hurt me, my little girl wouldn‘t have a mommy or a daddy.  And she was expecting to see me the next morning.  And if he didn‘t let me go, she would be really upset.  He still told me no. 

But I could kind of feel that he started to know who I was because he said maybe.  Maybe I‘ll let you go.  Just maybe.  We‘ll see how things go. 

He came into my apartment telling me that he was a soldier and that people

·         that his people needed him for a job to do, and he was doing it.  And I didn‘t want him to hurt anybody else.  He didn‘t want to hurt anybody else. 

He just told me that he wanted a place to stay, to relax, to sit down and watch TV, to eat some real food, and after we began to talk and he said he thought that I was an angel sent from God and that I was his sister and he was my brother in Christ, and that he was lost and God led him right to me to tell him that he had hurt a lot of people.  And the families of people, to let him know how they felt because I had gone through it myself. 

He talked about his family and how—he was wondering what they were thinking.  He said they probably don‘t know what to think.  We watched the news.  He looked at the TV and he just said I cannot believe that‘s me on there. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Wow.  All right.  Coming up, we‘re going to have more from her.  She earned his trust, ultimately walked away unharmed.  More from Ashley Smith about her harrowing night held hostage by Brian Nichols coming up. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH:  He needed hope for his life.  He told me that he was already dead.  He said, look at me.  Look at my eyes.  I am already dead. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  And no more pajama drama.  Michael Jackson fully dressed as he faced his accuser back on the witness stand today.  Jackson‘s lawyers elicit some damaging admissions from the boy and inconsistencies.  Does this mean Jackson‘s going to walk? 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  You just heard part of Ashley Smith‘s incredible story.  We‘re going to play a little more of her interview.  The single mother who spent what must have been a terrifying night with accused courthouse killer Brian Nichols.  Before she was able to call police, she calmed him, kept herself calm by she says connecting both of them with family and faith. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMITH:  I just felt that one of two things were going to happen. 

Either I was going to walk out of there alive or I was going to be dead.  And I just really said OK, I‘m going to show him who I am.  We went to my room and I asked him if I could read.  He said what do you want to read?  I said, well, I have a book in my room and I went and got it.  I got our Bible and I got a book called “The Purpose-Driven Life”. 

I turned it to the chapter that I was on that day, which was chapter 33, and I started to read the first paragraph of it.  After I read it, he said, stop.  Will you read it again?  I really kind of let him know that he was important.  He wasn‘t just this bad person that everybody had made him out to be before he killed all those people.  And then when I got back down to him, I gave him some hope.  He reached in my heart and took some of my hope, and I let him have it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Wow.  Clint Van Zandt, former FBI profiler and chief negotiator.  Clint, you know if you had been sitting there talking her through this...

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... if you‘d been able to talk to her in her ear...

VAN ZANDT:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... you probably would have told her to do and say a lot of the same things, right?

VAN ZANDT:  I tell you what—I mean she should be out teaching negotiations 101, Dan.  Because she did all—you know you hear of all the right moves.  She had all the right moves.  She had the right body language.  She used the right words.  She had the right temperament. 

I mean you know this is someone who was, as you and I have been talking, she had more to survive for than just herself.  She had a child.  She was a single parent.  You know you think of all the single parents in this country who have to fight for their children.  This woman had a true, emotional, and psychological fight. 

ABRAMS:  And if she had started yelling and screaming and this, and this and that, he might have killed her. 

VAN ZANDT:  He might have killed her.  I mean that he would have had every chance to have done that, but instead of raising his stress and anxiety level, she brought it down.  She reduced it.  He continued to run out of emotional gas...

ABRAMS:  That‘s what I was going to ask you. 

VAN ZANDT:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  Is it uncommon to see a killer who seems spent? 

VAN ZANDT:  Yes.  And in this kind of spree killing where you‘re going from horrific crime to crime to crime, I mean you‘re using up so much adrenaline, so much body energy and everything else.  I think this guy just finally crashed and burned right there.  This was his last—I mean listen to her talk, this was a meeting made in heaven, and you know may well have been the way she handled it.  He called her an angel.  And you know you just don‘t kill angels, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  I just—you were quoting some of her quotes and you were comparing them to Mark Twain...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... right?  I mean it‘s amazing some of this...

VAN ZANDT:  When she says he reached into my heart and took part of my

hope and I let him take it, I mean, I have never heard anyone wax more

poetically in a hostage situation when their life is on the line than this

·         I me she is a true survivor in every sense of the word. 

     

ABRAMS:  Wow.  All right.  Clint Van Zandt, good to see you in person. 

VAN ZANDT:  Thanks Dan.  You too. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, Michael Jackson‘s lawyer is painting a different picture of the boy accusing Jackson—discipline problems, not telling the truth.  How much of a problem is this for the prosecution?  My all-star legal panel, some of them think it‘s a problem. 

And coming up at 7:00 p.m., Chris Matthews kicks off the “HARDBALL” College Tour tonight.  He‘s live at Stanford with California Governor Arnold.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, Michael Jackson‘s accuser admits he told his teacher that he wasn‘t molested by Jackson.  His credibility sure is being called into question, so we ask, does this mean Jackson is going to walk?  First, the headlines. 

(NEWSBREAK)

ABRAMS:  All right.  Jay Leno is back in the joke-telling business.  Michael Jackson‘s trial is back in full swing.  A potential surprise witness in the case landed the alleged victim on the hot seat today.  The accuser on the stand for a second day of cross-examination admitting he told the dean of his middle school that Jackson never molested him after the abuse reportedly took place. 

New information apparently prompted a meeting over the weekend with the boy for prosecutors and the sheriff investigator.  NBC‘s Mike Taibbi was in the courtroom today, joins us with the late-breaking details.  Mike, sounds like this boy‘s testimony has some problems.  Bring us into the courtroom.  Give us a sense of what it looked like. 

MIKE TAIBBI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, I‘ve got to tell you walking out after the first session, one legal observer, Dan, said you know this is a different witness on the stand right now.  He‘s stumbling.  He‘s fumbling.  He‘s mumbling.  He‘s not the assertive, confident young man, 15-year-old boy that he was last week when he told his story basically for the prosecution. 

And by the way, there were two potentially surprise witnesses, Dan. 

That former dean of the middle school was one of them.  As you say, he‘s

going to be able to testify or so Tom Mesereau, Jackson‘s attorney, suggest

that the boy told him after he left Neverland for the last time that

Michael Jackson never did anything to him that was inappropriate sexually -

·         the boy‘s own words on the stand today. 

The other potential new witness is somebody named Rio (ph), who at the very end of today‘s cross-examination that everybody was listening very carefully to this, was the subject of a line of questioning from Mesereau.  Did you ever with this boy, Rio (ph), masturbate in front of him?  Did you ever with this boy, Rio (ph), steal alcohol from Jackson‘s room?  Did you steal a laminated thousand dollar bill?  Did you attempt to watch pornography on one of the televisions in the guest units, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, setting up the possibility that this other person named Rio (ph) could eventually be called to impeach the boy‘s testimony.  It was a tough day on the stand for him today, Dan.

ABRAMS:  All right, Mike Taibbi.  Thanks very much.  I‘m going to read a bunch of quotes from what we heard in that courtroom today, but joining me now a great panel—criminal defense attorney Gerry Spence—Gerry, here in person.  Get to hang out with you. 

GERRY SPENCE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Oh thank you.

ABRAMS:  It‘s an honor. 

SPENCE:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  Ron Richards, also a NBC News legal analyst, who‘s worked with Jackson‘s attorney, Tom Mesereau in the past, and Connecticut state prosecutor Susan Filan.

All right.  Gerry, let me read you a little bit of what happened today in addition to what Mike is talking about, some of the cross-examination of the boy. 

Number one:  But sometimes during that conversation, Dean Alpert looked you in the eye and said are these allegations that Mr. Jackson sexually abused you true?

(UNINTELLIGIBLE)

And you said they were not true, right?

Yes, I told him Michael didn‘t do anything to me.

The first time he asked you, you shook your head no, right?

I don‘t know.

And the second time he asked you, you said to him no, he did not touch me in any sexually inappropriate way, correct?

I don‘t know.  I‘m pretty sure I told him that.

Gerry, how big a problem is this for the prosecution? 

SPENCE:  It‘s a big problem. 

ABRAMS:  Why? 

SPENCE:  It‘s a big problem.  This whole case turns upon the credibility of the witnesses.  It‘s a credibility story.  It‘s the credibility of the prosecutor.  It‘s the credibility of the witnesses, the credibility of the mother.  Is she—and the father, the family, do they have their own agenda here that they are trying to forward that isn‘t really being seen? 

Money, the credibility of little boys who have been used.  You know, I have to say one thing that I‘d like to say right now.  No matter how this case goes, these kids are the victims.  They are victims of parents if it goes one way.  They‘re victims of Michael Jackson if it goes the other, but no matter what happens, these kids have been used.  They have been the commodity...

(CROSSTALK)

SPENCE:  ... in this trial that has been used. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Susan Filan, let me read you a little bit more of the—some of the issues that came up today. 

This just relates to sort of disciplinary problems, et cetera, that this boy apparently had.

You had a meeting with the school principal because of allegations you had disciplinary problems?

No, I had a meeting with him because I was a disciplinary problem.  I wasn‘t that good of a kid.  I argued with teachers and stuff like that.

All right, it goes on.  I felt as if he didn‘t deserve respect as a teacher.  This is in reference to a teacher.  I didn‘t respect him as a person.  When I would stand up to teachers, the other students would congratulate me.  I was argumentative at times.  I didn‘t like the way they taught me.  I wasn‘t learning anything.

You know, look, Susan, I don‘t really care about whether he was a bad kid in school.  I don‘t think it‘s particularly relevant.  You know, look, I mean I understand what they are trying to do, but it‘s not going to make or break this case.  But the business about him not telling—you know someone asking him directly you know, what about the business of Michael Jackson, you know, and he‘s saying (UNINTELLIGIBLE) nothing happened. 

SUSAN FILAN, CONNECTICUT STATE PROSECUTOR:   Dan, I don‘t have a problem with it.  And there are two reasons why I don‘t have a problem with it.  One, this is a troubled boy from a troubled background.  He comes from a broken home.  He‘s got trouble trusting adults and trusting authority.  He is not going to disclose right away on the spot to somebody, oh yes, it happened.  For the single reason that at one time Michael Jackson was his hero.  Michael Jackson betrayed him allegedly, betrayed his trust.  It is not easy for him to talk about this.  I don‘t have a problem with him not disclosing it...

ABRAMS:  But as a legal matter, Susan, I mean apart from—again, I‘m not making a judgment on whether this kid—I think Gerry put it so well about him being a victim either way, but as a credibility matter, as a legal matter when this case goes to the jury, you‘re not nervous as the prosecutor when you‘re hearing about this stuff? 

FILAN:  You are always nervous as a prosecutor when you send a case to the jury.  There is no perfect case.  There‘s no perfect witness.  This is a difficult case.  Sexual abuse cases are difficult to begin with.  You‘ve got a troubled kid.  The troubled kid was picked for a reason. 

Pedophiles groom troubled kids.  They don‘t take angels from perfect backgrounds.  You wouldn‘t get a kid like that to let you get in like that, so no, I don‘t really have a problem with it.  The key to this case is does the jury buy him in whole?  Whether you pick him to pieces or not, in full, do you get that this kid is for real or not?  That‘s the bottom line. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  But—I agree, but Ron, it‘s not whether—I mean this is part of whether they believe the kid or not. 

RONALD RICHARDS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, with all due respect to Susan whether she had a problem with it or not is not really the issue.  The jury I believe had a problem with it because after they heard the secret meeting where they had to rush this kid over there yesterday to disclose this issue with the dean and then Mesereau relentlessly hit them all day with the rebuttal video to the Bashir documentary.  By the end of the day, this kid was exhausted and the jurors were not very happy with his credibility in my opinion.  I was there.  That‘s what I saw. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, but Gerry, you have to be worried about beating him up too much, right? 

SPENCE:  Yes, you know, it can turn real easy.  You know you‘ve got—we‘ve got a kid here.  You‘ve got a fine, you know, a defense attorney who has the ability to just lay it on, lay it on, and lay it on.  And the kid can fight back.  It depends on how the kid conducts himself.  If he becomes, you know...

ABRAMS:  He seemed irritated...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... according to Mike Taibbi...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... he seemed a little irritated, but you know as you say, he‘s still a kid. 

SPENCE:  Yes and you can beat him up so badly that after a while the jury can turn, so you have to be very careful.  This is a boy.  You need to treat him with some kind of kindness...

(CROSSTALK)

SPENCE:  ... even if he‘s saying bad stuff...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

SPENCE:  ... in your case. 

ABRAMS:  Continue...

FILAN:  That‘s the question that I have.  Was the jury disappointed with the boy or was the jury disgusted with Mesereau?

ABRAMS:  Well who knows?  I mean look, I could be sitting in the courtroom and I could give you—be giving you a tealeaves read as well, but as much as I love Ron, I‘m not going to go to the bank with his read of the jury because no one can read—you know I try every case.  I like sit there staring at them and making faces and this and that and all right. 

Let me read more of what happened today, all right.  This is Tom Mesereau, the defense attorney confronting the boy with statements he allegedly made to investigators in the past about drinking at Neverland and the bottom line is it seems that he made statements that range from not drinking a lot there to drinking every night. 

Question:  Isn‘t it true that every time you were interviewed, your stories of drinking got bigger and bigger?

No, the fact is we drank every night.  Michael was there.

And then let me go on to number eight.  This is about eliciting testimony that showed Jackson allegedly molested the boy after he was investigated by authorities.

What you are telling the jury is after this investigation starts, Mr.

Jackson supposedly starts touching you inappropriately? 

The answer, yes.

See, Susan, I think that‘s the biggest problem for the prosecutors in this case.  That is the timing, which is the idea that there is this whole elaborate conspiracy, right, to get this kid and his family to say really good things about Michael Jackson even though the kid says he‘s never been molested by Michael Jackson up to that point.  And then he‘s saying that after the investigation starts, that Michael Jackson decides, you know what, this is a good time to start...

FILAN:  Come on, Dan.  This is a guy who comes to court in his pajamas, who dances on top of an SUV...

SPENCE:  Oh well...

FILAN:  ... who narrowly escapes getting arrested. 

SPENCE:  We‘re now...

FILAN:  You‘re going to tell me that he plays by the rules and he‘s playing with a full deck?  Hi Gerry. 

SPENCE:  We‘re now going to convict this man for being a little different...

FILAN:  No, no, no. 

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  No, no, no, but the issue is...

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  ... does he play by the rules? 

SPENCE:  Some call him a weirdo.  Some call him...

FILAN:  No, no, no...

SPENCE:  ... are even calling him wacko Jackson...

FILAN:  No...

SPENCE:  ... because he‘s weird...

FILAN:  Gerry, it‘s not that at all.  It‘s not that he‘s weird...

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  ... it‘s that the rules don‘t apply to him and so yes, a logical, rational person wouldn‘t start to...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right.

FILAN:  ... molest once the camera is on you...

SPENCE:  So let me tell you...

ABRAMS:  Quick...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... yes, I got to—let me take a quick break. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Hang on.  Stick around.  Gerry is coming back.  More on the Jackson—we got more of the testimony today.  I‘ve got more of the, you know, the transcripts. 

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

And tonight 9:00 p.m. Eastern, another special edition of the program on the Jackson trial and the latest information and interviews about the Atlanta courthouse shootings.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

ABRAMS:  Big testimony in the Michael Jackson case today.  The boy accusing Michael Jackson on the witness stand undergoing tough questions from Michael Jackson‘s attorney.  One of the key issues, and I want to mention it, but I want to give you a warning.  It is pretty graphic.  All right, so again, if you don‘t want to hear—but this is the heart of the case.  I mean it is what is important in this case.  All right. 

So here was the issue.  The issue was what this boy said on direct examination, he claimed that Michael Jackson was basically trying to convince him to masturbate.  But what the defense is saying is, he‘s using the same words and language that he attributes to Michael Jackson, he said that‘s what his grandma told him a while ago. 

Let me read—direct examination.  Jackson said that if men don‘t masturbate, that they can get to a level where they can, might rape a girl or they might kind of like kind of unstable.  So he was telling me that guys have to masturbate. 

All right.  Then in the grand jury he was asked, did your grandmother ever talk to you specifically about why men masturbate?  Well she told me like if sometimes certain men, if they don‘t do it, like their sexual urges, can get elevated to a certain level.

Gerry, you want to turn off your phone?

SPENCE:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  OK.  All right.  And so do we still have the graphic up?  All right.  Yes.  All right. 

Did she ever say that sometimes men rape women if they don‘t do that? 

Do you remember if she used that term?

No, I don‘t remember.

Now, here‘s the key part.  Cross-examination today.  When the sheriffs asked you what masturbation was, you didn‘t say Mr. Jackson told me if a man doesn‘t do it, he may rape a woman.  You said my grandmother told me that if a man doesn‘t do it, he may rape a woman, correct?

I believe so.

Ron, do you think the jurors got this?  I mean this is very important because this is basically saying that he‘s messing up.  Did grandma tell me or did Michael Jackson tell me?  A key point in this case? 

RICHARDS:  Well, since it‘s clear I don‘t read tealeaves, I will tell though what you I heard was persuasive and the jurors did get the point that he changed his story.  He now is trying to make it look like Michael Jackson taught him about the “m” word and prior to that, he clearly led everybody to believe that he had learned about the “m” word through his grandmother.  And I think it was an effective point that he brought out in cross...

ABRAMS:  We can‘t underestimate this, Gerry, because the whole idea here is the defense is saying it was scripted. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  That the boy knew what to say and he said it.  And if they can show that he‘s getting the script confused, boy. 

SPENCE:  Well, what we have here are kids that were told at one time, and were convinced by their parents to tell everybody that Jackson was their father, that he was their life, that he did nothing wrong, he was a lovely man, and all the rest, all of these beautiful things.  He was almost an angel, according to these same boys. 

Who told him how to do that?  Who told him these kids what to say to begin with?  And now these same kids can say the opposite.  So what we‘re dealing with here is are kids who are being twisted and turned to say whatever people around them, lawyers, parents, prosecutors, even defense attorneys may want. 

ABRAMS:  Susan...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Dan...

FILAN:  That‘s the question that I have.  I mean is this kid getting so confused on cross because of what Mesereau is doing?  I wasn‘t in the courtroom but I‘ve had the opportunity to read some of these transcripts and I‘ve got to tell you, the beating that the witness takes under Mesereau gets them so broken down and so confused at some point, they‘re ready to lay down and just say anything just to get him off of you...

SPENCE:  Well that‘s possible.  That‘s possible...

FILAN:  So I wonder...

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  The other thing, if I can just make this point...

ABRAMS:  Let me let Ron in for a second.  Go ahead Ron. 

RICHARDS:  I just want to tell you guys, during the rebuttal video, there was nobody cross examining him and the kid was free to do what he wanted.  And I can assure you during the testimony today these questions were coming very slow and very soft, so he‘s getting confused because he‘s not memorizing the script. 

(CROSSTALK)

RICHARDS:  He also said, the last point that he wanted to be an actor. 

That‘s what his occupation is, an actor. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  All right.  But let‘s be clear.  The rebuttal video was made allegedly before Michael Jackson starts molesting him, right Ron? 

RICHARDS:  Well the rebuttal video...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

RICHARDS:  ... except—no that‘s not exactly true.  He admitted today, possibly one of the acts may have been before the rebuttal video...

ABRAMS:  But not one of the ones he‘s charged with though.  Not one of the ones that‘s being charged...

RICHARDS:  No, but—no I agree, but they pointed out the inconsistency—another one. 

ABRAMS:  I got to wrap it up.  Gerry, can I just touch one of the tassels?

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  I always see this jacket.  Can I just...

SPENCE:  Do you want one for your children? 

ABRAMS:  I mean it just—you know I always, you know I see it all the time.  I love the jacket.  I just wanted to touch it. 

SPENCE:  Oh thank you...

(CROSSTALK)

SPENCE:  I‘ll go home and I‘m going to tell Emma Jean (ph)...

(CROSSTALK)

SPENCE:  ... that Dan Abrams played with my tassels.

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  Gerry, it‘s good to see you. 

SPENCE:  OK.

ABRAMS:  Ron Richards...

RICHARDS:  Bye Gerry.

ABRAMS:  ... Susan Filan...

SPENCE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) see you later.

ABRAMS:  ... thanks a lot. 

FILAN:  Thanks for having me. 

RICHARDS:  Thanks.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, why the capture of alleged courthouse shooter Brian Nichols is a reminder for all of us that we are the first line of defense.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, never underestimate how valuable your information can be to police when solving crimes.  The Atlanta courthouse shooting case has reminded us how important we all can be.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—a reminder over the weekend that everyday citizens really are the first line of defense.  With law enforcement throughout the Southeast conducting an intense manhunt, it was Ashley Smith, a young single mother in Duluth, Georgia, who managed to bring a nonviolent end to an intense manhunt in Georgia for a violent criminal. 

Thirty-three-year-old Brian Nichols, suspected of killing four people, allegedly pushed Smith into her apartment at 2:00 a.m. Saturday morning, carrying a gun, wrapped her in electrical cord and tape.  But the alleged killer who had nothing to lose left seven and a half hours later, waving a white handkerchief at law enforcement.  Another example of an everyday citizen providing the most valuable information from tips about a missing child in response to Amber alerts to information that leads to the arrest of terror suspects, we, you are the line—first line of defense. 

A group of watchful citizens are much more likely to spot suspicious activity than a platoon of special agents and police.  It was citizens who notified police that they had seen the car being driven by the sniper suspect who terrorized Washington in the fall of 2003.  Ordinary citizens responsible for thwarting Richard Reid, the suspect who boarded a Paris to Miami flight in December 2001 with a bomb attached to his shoe. 

In Iraq, citizens have alerted Iraqi police about suspicious and unfamiliar vehicles parked nearby that have turned out to be packed with explosives.  Let‘s never underestimate what we can do to help.  Because if everyone is on the lookout, there‘s nowhere for the criminals to hide. 

Coming up in 60 seconds tonight‘s “”OH PLEAs!” is loads of fun. 

You‘ll see what I mean when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Michael Jackson back in court today, fully dressed this time.  No pajamas.  Remember last Thursday, he arrived almost two hours late wearing the P.J.‘s and slippers.

Lenora Piccolo from Washington writes, “Our viewing of the trial cannot do any more harm to Mr. Jackson than he‘s done to himself—this is about cameras in the courtroom.  Besides, I consider myself halfway intelligent enough to make my own observations without the media explaining everything to me and would like the opportunity.  I so enjoy your show and you.”  I agree with you.

Alice Smith, “His mother named him Michael Jackson not Wacko Jacko.  His name is Michael Jackson.  Would you like it if people played with your name?”

The massive manhunt in Atlanta ended peacefully.  Brian Nichols suspected in the killings of a judge, two others in an Atlanta courthouse.  Later, the murder of a U.S. customs agent surrendered to authorities after the hostage he took Friday talked him into it. 

Amy Schuring from Pennsylvania, “I think other courthouses could learn from the Allegheny County Court in Pittsburgh.  They allow no guns at all in the building.  Even the sheriffs and deputies have to lock up their guns as soon as they‘re entering.”

Oh—there‘s the—all right let‘s go to “OH PLEAs!”.  “OH PLEAs!” -

·         two nurses in Ohio did some dirty work, offering relief for their patients, but leaving their colleagues none too pleased. 

Five elderly patients at the Willowood Care Center in Brunswick, Illinois were apparently the victims of a different kind of cleansing.  Two nurses working the night shift at Willowood apparently wanted to leave their dayside colleagues a workload.  The nurses gave unneeded laxatives to five patients, leaving the dayside nurses to clean up the purged seniors. 

The two charged with five counts of patient abuse.  The Ohio attorney general launched an investigation after operators at the care center notified the department of their suspicions.  I‘m guessing it was the unusually long line at the bathroom that got the operators looking at this one. 

Out of time.  Got to go.  See you at 9:00, a special.  Thanks for watching.

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.

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