updated 4/13/2005 12:27:01 PM ET 2005-04-13T16:27:01

Guest:  Abbie Vansickle, Nancy Argenziano, Robert Dunn, Kent Alexander, June Thomas, Victoria Mather, Jeanine Pirro

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, was little Jessica Lunsford alive when police first interviewed the man who later confessed to her murder? 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  Court documents show 9-year-old Jessica may have been in a mobile home with John Couey when police came looking.  What happened? 

And long-time fugitive Eric Rudolph agrees to plead guilty to the 1996 Atlanta Olympic bombing and three others, but after trying to elude justice for so long, why would he agree to plead? 

Plus, why is the British press giving Prince Charles such a hard time about marrying Camilla?  She is not some young trophy wife. 

The program about justice starts now. 


ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket tonight, a disturbing development in the case of Jessica Lunsford, the 9-year-old Florida girl kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered last month may have been alive, maybe even listening when police deputies twice interviewed people in the mobile home where she was taken.  This information coming from convicted sex offender John Couey, he‘s allegedly confessed to those crimes against Jessica, though he pled not guilty in court. 

Police arrested three people who were in that mobile home on charges of resisting or obstructing an officer for withholding whatever information they had about Couey.  They are John Couey‘s half-sister, her boyfriend and her daughter; her son-in-law was picked up on unrelated charges.  But now prosecutors have decided they have no alternative but to drop all of those charges against them. 

Why?  Well let‘s ask “St. Petersburg Times” reporter Abbie Vansickle, who‘s been covering this story.  All right, Abbie, so the prosecutors are saying that they just don‘t have legally the right to charge them, right? 

ABBIE VANSICKLE, “ST. PETERSBURG TIMES”:  Right.  They have dropped charges against all the people living in the trailer with John Couey at the time, saying that they don‘t have any reason to continue in the case against them. 

ABRAMS:  And why are we so convinced that Couey may have been in the mobile home with little Jessica, and again we don‘t know for certain, but why are we now believing that it‘s possible that he was there with Jessica alive as the police were in the home? 

VANSICKLE:  Well, in the documents when the prosecutors dropped the charges, they included a memo giving the reasons that they dropped the charges and in that, they say that Couey told them in his confession that he was in the trailer during one of the times that law enforcement went to question people there. 

ABRAMS:  Let me read from Richard Ridgway, the assistant attorney general.  “After his arrest for the kidnapping and murder of Jessica Lunsford, Couey admitted that he had been present in the house during the second interview.  He denies that anyone in the house was aware that he had kidnapped the child or that she was being held in the house.”  And it seems, does it not, Abbie, that the authorities are kind of believing what Couey is telling them? 

VANSICKLE:  It is.  Well, what Couey has told them so far has been true, a lot of it, anyway.  He told them—authorities are saying he told them where her body was and that it was buried near the mobile home and they found her body there.  I guess they‘re believing what he‘s told them all along. 

ABRAMS:  So, he is saying he was only there the second time police came to the mobile home or was he there both times? 

VANSICKLE:  In the memo, it just says that he was there during the second interview.  It is unclear now whether he was there during the first. 

ABRAMS:  And does it specifically say that Jessica was alive? 

VANSICKLE:  It says it leaves open the possibility that she was alive at the time that deputies knocked on the door to talk with people at the trailer.  It doesn‘t say that for sure. 

ABRAMS:  And are people now blaming the authorities for not doing enough or is this one of those situations where, you know, you just can‘t start Monday morning quarterbacking? 

VANSICKLE:  It‘s hard to get a sense of that right now.  There is a community meeting tomorrow in Homosassa, Jessica‘s hometown, and it may be easier to get a sense there, but now it‘s hard to say. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Abbie Vansickle, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

VANSICKLE:  Thank you very much. 

ABRAMS:  Now to another development stemming from the case, Florida State Senate and State Assembly are taking action.  On Wednesday, the State Senate‘s Criminal Justice Committee voted unanimously to support the Jessica Lunsford Act.  It would impose a life sentence on anyone convicted of molesting a child under the age of 12.  It would mandate putting a tracking ankle transmitter on convicted child sex offenders on parole.  Make it a felony for anyone to harbor a sexual predator, lie to police about a friend or relative‘s past, or knowingly fail to report a newcomer who they know should be registered with police, eliminate the current 10-year limit on counting prior offenses in sentencing child sex predators, and require current offenders on probation to have a hearing for installation of a tracking bracelet for even minor violations of the law. 

All right.  Before we get to my guest here, let me just read you what the assistant attorney general said about why they couldn‘t charge any of these other people who were in the house who didn‘t disclose that Couey was there. 

“Florida does not have a statute which makes it a crime to lie to a police officer in all situations, not is there a law which requires a—nor is there a law which requires a person to disclose the whereabouts of a sexual offender.”

All right.  Nancy Argenziano is the Florida State senator who is sponsoring the Jessica Lunsford Bill and Robert Dunn is a criminal defense attorney.  All right.  Let me start with you, Senator.  Give me the sort of the layperson‘s explanation for what this bill is going to do. 


tell those who have an inclination towards our little children in a sexual

manner that Florida is not a place you want to be in.  It‘s going to make -

·         it is going to tighten up those loopholes, fill in the cracks and hopefully help us to prevent another child from having to go through what Jessica ultimately had to go through. 


ABRAMS:  And let‘s be clear.  The argument we hear in a lot of these cases when it comes to toughening up child assault laws is, well, you know, sometimes you are going to get the case that a senior in high school and the sophomore or the freshman, that has nothing to do with the legislation that you‘re proposing, right? 

ARGENZIANO:  No, we made sure—first of all, we wanted to make sure, number one, that we weren‘t politicizing and we weren‘t making a circus out of this tragic event and we certainly wanted to make sure we‘re not talking about these -- 19-year-old and a 16-year-old.  That‘s why we have crafted the legislation the way we have for a child 12 and under, and it‘s tough, and I‘m sorry, it‘s about time we get tough. 

ABRAMS:  Robert Dunn, what is the matter with that? 

ROBERT DUNN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well, I mean, with regard to monitoring people who are on patrol by use of a monitoring device, there isn‘t much of an issue that you could take with that even if you might want to for questions of whether or not it will actually accomplish what it‘s sought to accomplish.  But because these people are on parole and that‘s a privilege, not a right, and that they are to be supervised during the time that they‘re on parole.  I have no problem with that. 

But the portion of the legislation it seeks to impose a duty on individuals to inform authorities if someone moves into a area or they noted they should have registered and they did not register, that goes a little bit too far.  You‘re imposing an obligation that we just don‘t do in our society.  Period.  People are allowed to mind your business.  So, as far as...

ARGENZIANO:  I disagree. 

DUNN:  Well, they are, whether—obviously you disagree.  But that is, you know, what our law has always been.  And so to impose that duty on someone who is innocent, who did not commit a crime and put an obligation...


DUNN:  ... law enforcement agent...



ARGENZIANO:  ... no, no, no...

DUNN:  ... I think that goes a bit too far. 

ARGENZIANO:  No, I think you are incorrect and especially in this case when you have people who have harbored this individual, knowing that he was a sexual offender in the past that he was not living at where he was supposed to be registered at.  What we did was we did not say you have to tell on him.  But we made it a crime for you to continue not to tell on this man and if we can‘t...


ARGENZIANO:  ... you‘re an attorney, I‘m not.  I‘m a lawmaker. 

DUNN:  Well that‘s the problem, see...

ARGENZIANO:  The distinction is...

DUNN:  ... you see...

ARGENZIANO:  Go ahead. 

DUNN:  I was going to say this is an horrific crime, horrific crimes, you know, causes us to want to do something about it.  We‘re all outraged about it.  However, and I‘m sure you‘re outraged and that‘s probably why you know you‘re drafting this legislation in an effort to do something about it.  But that‘s precisely the state of mind that we don‘t want our lawmakers to be in when they‘re drafting legislation.  And that is by...

ARGENZIANO:  No, no, no...

DUNN:  ... being in an outraged state of mind.  Here again, we live in a society where people are permitted rightly—you have to draw a distinction between a moral issue and a legal issue.  Yes, morally they should have come forward and given up this information.  But to impose a legal burden on them to do so I feel is unreasonable and it goes a farer field to what it is that we allow or require...


ABRAMS:  Senator.

ARGENZIANO:  I‘m sorry.  I totally disagree.  I think that what you‘re hearing is from an attorney and I‘m a lawmaker.  And I could tell you the way we crafted this legislation is very constitutional and it‘s going to tell those people if you want to harbor someone who has these deviant feelings towards little children and possibly could murder one, and you have already been a sexual offender and you are not even living at an address where you are supposed to be registered, you are committing a crime...

DUNN:  You are committing a crime and that person...

ARGENZIANO:  ... every day that you do not tell someone...

DUNN:  ... that person who is committing the crime and not properly reporting as a sex offender where it is that they‘re actually residing, whatever punishment that you want to take with regard to that individual who is a criminal...

ARGENZIANO:  Well, the punishment I want to take...

DUNN:  ... and is committing a crime...

ARGENZIANO:  ... is unconstitutional. 

DUNN:  But to impose that burden on a totally innocent person who has not committed...

ARGENZIANO:  It is not an innocent person.  You are incorrect.  It

would not be—if we changed the law to say that you are breaking the law

by not telling...

DUNN:  Well that‘s any point. 

ARGENZIANO:  ... not—then you are not innocent anymore.  You are guilty and these people should be in prison for what they did. 

ABRAMS:  Senator...

ARGENZIANO:  Jessica might still be alive if they had told the truth. 

ABRAMS:  Senator, so I understand what the legislation says, do you have to have actually—you have to actually have known, right, that the person was a sex offender, it can‘t just be...

ARGENZIANO:  Absolutely.

ABRAMS:  ... that you happen to have a sex offender in your house. 

You have to actually...

ARGENZIANO:  Absolutely.

ABRAMS:  ... knowingly, right? 

ARGENZIANO:  Absolutely...

DUNN:  What‘s the distinction?  I don‘t get the distinction there.

ABRAMS:  Well the distinction is you could have someone...


ABRAMS:  ... who is a sex offender in your house and not know the person was a sex offender...

DUNN:  OK.  But still, why...

ARGENZIANO:  These people...

DUNN:  ... why is someone...

ARGENZIANO:  ... these people—excuse me.  Excuse me. 

DUNN:  Yes.

ARGENZIANO:  These people admitted that they lied to the sheriff. 


ARGENZIANO:  You‘ve—you‘ve got an admission that they lied to the sheriff...

DUNN:  Lying to the sheriff...

ARGENZIANO:  ... that‘s not just obstruction.  That is criminal. 

DUNN:  Listen.  In a federal law and in many states...

ABRAMS:  Quickly...

DUNN:  ... we already have a law that you can‘t lie to investigators. 

That is a different matter and on that one...

ARGENZIANO:  You know what it comes down to? 

DUNN:  ... I wouldn‘t take the same issue.

ARGENZIANO:  If you don‘t like the laws of the state of Florida, then don‘t come here.  That‘s what it comes down to.  We‘re going to protect our children.

ABRAMS:  Senator...

DUNN:  Well with your new gun legislation, I‘m thinking seriously about...

ABRAMS:  All right.  All right...

DUNN:  ... I‘m thinking seriously about going...

ABRAMS:  Senator...


ABRAMS:  ... Robert Dunn...

ARGENZIANO:  ... you‘re a slick New York attorney.  You may not like Florida. 

ABRAMS:  Thanks to both of you.  Appreciate it. 

Coming up...

ARGENZIANO:  Thank you very much. 

ABRAMS:  ... he was on the run for years, now suspected white supremacist Eric Rudolph agrees to plead guilty for the Atlanta Olympic bombing, but why is he pleading after all that time on the run? 

And Michael Jackson‘s former chef tells jurors he saw Jackson with his hands in Macaulay Culkin‘s pants. 

Plus, Prince Charles finally going to make an honest woman out of Camilla Parker Bowles when they get married tomorrow, so, why is the British press giving them such a hard time? 

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


ABRAMS:  Just hours ago, we learned suspected white supremacist Eric Rudolph has agreed to plead guilty to the 1996 Atlanta Olympic bombing.  He spent years on the run, so why is he agreeing to plead now?   



ABRAMS:  Just a few hours ago, we learned that accused serial bomber and one-time fugitive Eric Rudolph will plead guilty to federal charges.  Thirty-eight-year-old Rudolph charged in three bombings in Atlanta, including the Olympic Park bombing that killed one and injured more than 100 others.  He was also charged with bombing a family clinic in Alabama, killed a police officer and critically injured a nurse.  In exchange for multiple life sentences without parole instead of the possibility of the death penalty, Rudolph told authorities where more than 250 pounds of dynamite were buried in several locations in North Carolina, including a dynamite bomb, which authorities have now disposed of. 

Attorney general Alberto Gonzales today said—quote --  “The many victims of Eric Rudolph‘s terrorist attacks in Atlanta and Birmingham can rest assured that Rudolph will spend the rest of his life behind bars.  The best interests of justice are served by resolution of this case and by the skillful operation that secured the dangerous explosives buried in North Carolina.”  But one of his victims, Emily Lyons, is about to undergo his 20th reconstructive surgery, told The Associated Press for what he did, the death penalty is what I believe fits the crime. 

“My Take”—somehow this guy remains some sort of hero to a handful of people who don‘t care about the rule of law.  He was clearly getting help while he was on the run in western North Carolina and so I think the government feared getting someone on the jury who actually sympathized with him. 

Joining me now is Kent Alexander, who was the top federal prosecutor in Atlanta at the time of the Olympic bombing in 1996.  He‘s now general counsel at Emory University.  What do you think of that theory? 

KENT ALEXANDER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  No, I think that—I think he just realized that he was done in.  As far as the government getting the prosecution through, the conviction through, this was a slam-dunk victory for them. 

ABRAMS:  But he is—isn‘t it odd that he still sort of seems to be, to a handful, a sort of heroic like Jesse James-like figure? 

ALEXANDER:  It is and actually he may have been more so had he ultimately been put to death.  But it‘s very odd, but it‘s part of the white supremacy movement, and I‘m not sure that‘s going to ever go away.  We had all these t-shirts in North Carolina, “run Eric run”, but for the most part, people in North Carolina did—wanted to see this guy get justice and fortunately that‘s what‘s happening. 

ABRAMS:  Generally will federal prosecutors or prosecutors for that matter trade a guilty plea for life in prison without parole and throw the death penalty off the table or in some cases will they say, you know what?  We just can‘t do it.  We‘ve got to seek death. 

ALEXANDER:  Oh sometimes you say you‘ve got to seek death.  In this case, you‘ve got a domestic terrorist, so the thought would be go for the death penalty.  A few—a couple of things that were different.  One, even though the case I think was strong, it was circumstantial and, two, this guy had over 250 pounds of dynamite out there.  So even had he been put to death, he could have still been killing people after he died had that dynamite not been found.  So you make trade-offs in cases and this was a trade-off I think worth making. 

ABRAMS:  Here‘s what the U.S. attorneys had to say about this.  “Eric Robert Rudolph‘s guilty pleas will resolve these cases with certainty and finality and hopefully bring some closure to many victims of the bombings.  The plea agreements will ensure that Rudolph spends the rest of his life in federal prison without the possibility of parole and allow the government to locate and render safe a buried bomb and large amounts of hidden dynamite that posed a significant threat to public safety.”

After being on the run, though, for this long, and based on how much and how well you know this case, were you surprised to hear that Rudolph was willing to plead guilty? 

ALEXANDER:  Yes, I was absolutely surprised.  Surprised and then elated.  But for so long, he was on the run.  Eight years living in the woods or wherever, but pretty much on his own, I think, and then a year and a half in prison with such a hatred for the federal government, I expected him to go through the trial. 

ABRAMS:  So, why—what do you think happened? 

ALEXANDER:  Well, it probably goes back to the eight years alone and a year and a half in a cell and you have a lot of time to think things over and even if you have no scruples and no principles, and I think he has neither, you start to realize what—that there is reality that is going to set in and the reality here was the death penalty.  So, I think whatever happened at the ATF, FBI, U.S. Attorneys‘ Offices did a masterful job in convincing him that it was in his best interests just to give it up. 

ABRAMS:  Finally, let me just say—remember Richard Jewell.  He was considered by some to be a suspect in this case.  A number of them got in trouble calling him a suspect.  Well here‘s what his lawyer had to say now that the real person involved in this has pled guilty. 

“A plea of guilty by Eric Rudolph is a complete vindication of Richard Jewell.  Any lingering doubts about Richard‘s innocence are now forever dispelled by Rudolph‘s plea.  I hope that government and Olympic officials will now consider giving Richard Jewell long overdue recognition for his heroism the night of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing.”

Do you expect, Mr. Anderson, to see anything like that happen?  Are they going to issue something that‘s going to say look, this guy deserves a lot of credit? 

ALEXANDER:  Well they may or they may not, whether there is something officially issued or not, Richard Jewell does deserve a lot of credit.  He is a hero.  He got a bum rap.  I wrote a letter to him in late ‘97 saying he wasn‘t a suspect.  Were it not for his actions and the actions of a Georgia Bureau Investigation agent who found this bomb in the Olympic Park, a lot more people would have died.  So I‘m—you know, my hats off to Richard Jewell and it has been for a long time. 

ABRAMS:  Kent Alexander, thanks a lot for coming on the program. 

Appreciate it.

ALEXANDER:  Thanks Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, love is in the air in London.  Prince Charles set to marry his long-time mistress Camilla Parker Bowles tomorrow.  Charles is getting a lot of heat over the wedding.  I say give the guy a break.  It‘s not like he is marrying the young nanny. 

And do you your children love “Cookie Monster”?  Well, if they do, they will be singing a new tune soon.  The P.C. police hit up “Sesame Street”.  Stay with us. 


ABRAMS:  Thirty-five years after a young Prince Charles met a young Camilla Shand at a polo match, it looks like they will finally get married.  The road to the altar has been rocky for Camilla and Charles and it seems like many over there just won‘t accept this marriage or at least just won‘t give Camilla a break once she is officially hitched to their future king. 

NBC News‘ Michael Okwu reports from London. 


MICHAEL OKWU, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  On the day he was going to be married, Prince Charles at the funeral in Rome.  On Saturday, Charles and Camilla, as part of their religious blessing, will have to confess their sins.  The unrelenting tabloids have made them the devil in the details.  Some say give the bride a break. 

KATHY LETTE, ROYALS WATCHER:  I think she should go for a halo sitting.  She has been a saint through all of this and stuck by him all this time and have suffered all that condescension. 

OKWU (on camera):  But with one day to go, their subjects are still poking merciless fun. 


OKWU (voice-over):  On television, a tipsy Camilla look-alike fitting her crown. 


OKWU:  Commemorative coins on the Web feature a queen aghast.  T-shirts take a stab at the royals and a serious breach of security at Windsor provokes blatant disdain, all grist of the mill for anti-monarchists. 

LETTE:  They‘d have to look down to see cloud nine they‘re so happy.  So we do wish them well, but I also heard it might bring an end to the monarchy. 

OKWU:  No doubt on top of the wedding gift wish list, a honeymoon, but it looks like that could be disrupted by yet another funeral.  This one for Prince Rainier, in Monaco. 

Michael Okwu, NBC News, London. 


ABRAMS:  Coming up, so why is everyone still giving them such a hard time?  I mean it‘s not like she is a trophy wife. 

And more explosive testimony in the Michael Jackson case, this time involving Macaulay Culkin.

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


ABRAMS:  Coming up, wedding bells in the air.  Prince Charles set to marry his mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles.  I say give them a break already.  First, the headlines. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Bloody people.  I can‘t bear them...


ABRAMS:  Prince Charles caught on tape last week, eight days before his wedding, telling his sons how much he dislikes the press.  But you know he might have a right to be bitter after a fairy tale-like wedding to 19-year-old Diana Spencer in 1981.  That‘s not—come on.  That‘s not her. 


ABRAMS:  All right.  Start again—fairy tale marriage to Diana Spencer in 1981 -- all right.  His marriage fell apart amid accusations of adultery and his ill treatment of the much beloved princess.  He then went through an embarrassing, bitter divorce and then the tragic loss of his ex-wife and the mother of his young children in a 1997 car crash in Paris, all this under the intense scrutiny of the tabloid press. 

For eight years, he and his mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles, have lived unmarried, slowly introducing themselves to the British public as a couple.  Now he just wants to marry her.  She shares the same interests as he does, gets along with his sons and is a year older than him. 

“My Take”—cut them a break.  Both he and Diana had affairs and, sure, he‘s not the most lovable guy in the world, but that‘s just who he is.  If you want to hate him, hate him, but not because he is finally marrying for love. 

Joining me now, Victoria Mather, editor—contributing editor at “Vanity Fair” magazine and June Thomas, foreign editor of “Slate” magazine who wrote about this very topic. 

All right.  Ms. Thomas, it was your—actually your article that sort of spurred us to think about doing this as a topic, sort of giving Charles a break here.  Why do you think it is that none of the British press wants to cut him a break? 

JUNE THOMAS, “SLATE” MAGAZINE:  Well, you know, the British press is a very competitive market.  There are a lot of newspapers vying for readers and the royal family is great copy.  It sells—the royal family sell a lot of newspapers.  When it was—when Diana was alive, the way they sold newspapers was by putting her photograph on the cover.  Now that‘s not so possible. 

The sons are very photogenic.  When you want to do a story about Charles and Camilla, you make fun of them.  That‘s what the public loves to read and so I think that‘s what‘s going on.  They‘re selling newspapers by telling jokes about Camilla, by giving them a hard time and I think we just need to get used to it.  But I think they are being very unfair. 

ABRAMS:  Victoria, do you agree? 

VICTORIA MATHER, “VANITY FAIR”:  Well, I think there is now a sort of ground swell of goodwill towards the couple.  I mean, how many people would have left the late and lovely Princess of Wales for an older woman?  And I see that tomorrow‘s “Daily Mail”, Saturday‘s “Daily Mail” says we wish them the best of luck.  Now the “Daily Mail” at its most rampaging can be savage tabloid. 

So, I think there is a let‘s give them a break mentality.  What will happen, most likely is—I mean, lest this plague pestilence or meteoroid lands on Windsor Castle and who knows what might happen, what has happened in the run-up to this wedding is truly extraordinary.  As a run of bad luck, it is quite amazing, plagues of locusts may descend on the wedding as far as I‘m concerned.  I wouldn‘t be at all surprised. 

ABRAMS:  Victoria...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think really...

ABRAMS:  ... are people mad about the affair?  I mean, because isn‘t it true that Diana was also having an affair, if not more than one, and there‘s even a question as to who did it first? 


MATHER:  Very possibly.  I don‘t think we‘ve got absolute chapter and verse on that.  But I think that people are so mad about—not so much mad about it as bored by it and therein actually is the real problem.  It‘s apathy.  It isn‘t anger.  It‘s apathy.  Apathy spells the end of the monarchy. 

ABRAMS:  June, what do you think of that?  I mean it seems to me people are still pretty interested, no?  But I mean she doesn‘t have—she certainly doesn‘t have the sort of cache glamour that Diana had. 

THOMAS:  No, she‘s very much like...

MATHER:  Well, she‘s 57.

THOMAS:  Exactly.  She is very much like the rest of the royal family.  They‘re very rich people who pretend to be ordinary and she is doing a very good job of pretending to be ordinary.  She...

MATHER:  Well I do think she is very grounding for him.  She is very grounding for him.  I don‘t think one wants a glamour puss at this stage. 

THOMAS:  Correct. 

MATHER:  I mean we‘d all be screaming with laughter if he was marrying some bimbette or some trophy wife, you know, sort of one Donald Trump‘s castoff. 

ABRAMS:  And the bottom line is June...


ABRAMS:  ... this is someone—and let‘s be honest here.  This is, and I hate to use this ridiculous clich’, but this is his long-time true love, right? 

THOMAS:  Right.  I mean in fact they‘re living proof that love is blind.  They‘re obviously very devoted to each other.  They‘re very well matched.  They have similar hobbies.  They have similar interests.  They can talk all night.  We heard Diana complaining and complaining that Charles left her alone.  They had nothing to talk about.  The family ignored her.  That‘s not going to happen with Camilla because they could talk about dogs and hunting and horses all night and all day and they are going to be just ecstatically happy... 

ABRAMS:  Victoria, they‘re going to have to—they‘re going to read the following from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer at their wedding.  We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, we thought word and deed against thy divine majesty, provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us.  We do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry for these—our misdoings.  Forgive us all that is passed.  It‘s part of...

MATHER:  Well this is very strong stuff, isn‘t it?  It is from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and, in fact, it isn‘t just the Prince of Wales and Camilla who are going to be saying this.  It is the entire congregation.  It is a public confession by the whole congregation, all 800 guests in St. George‘s Chapel. 


MATHER:  It is part of the service. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  I say I wish them luck.  Victoria Mather and June Thomas, thank you for coming on the program. 

Coming up—more graphic testimony in the Michael Jackson case.  This time, allegedly involving child actor Macaulay Culkin.  Coming up. 



ABRAMS:  Michael, leaving court a short time ago, looking a bit more frail than he did at the beginning of this week of explosive testimony filled with allegations of prior abuse.  Today, a former Neverland chef, Phillip LeMarque, says he was shocked at a scene he came upon in 1991, involving Jackson and former child star Macaulay Culkin.  LeMarque said the “silver fox”, as Jackson‘s security referred to Jackson, had requested that french fries be delivered to the arcade at about 3:00 a.m.  When LeMarque opened the door to the arcade, he says he found—quote—“Michael was playing with Macaulay Culkin at one of the games, which was “Thriller”, and he was holding the kid because the kid was small and couldn‘t hold the controls.  Jackson‘s left hand was inside the pants of the kid.” 

LeMarque not the first witness to testify this week about Macaulay Culkin who told CNN—quote—“nothing happened, you know, nothing really.  I mean, we played video games.  We, you know, played at he amusement park.” 

“My Take”—I think prosecutors are veering off track here.  They‘ve called powerful witnesses to talk about witnessing Jackson sexually abuse children may have been the prosecution‘s strongest evidence to date, but they will lose momentum and credibility if they spend any more time with people who say they saw a little inappropriate touch here on there.  We‘re talking about a crime far more serious than that.

Joining me now, Westchester County New York D.A. Jeanine Pirro and criminal defense attorney Robert Dunn.  Jeanine, what do you think of that? 

JEANINE PIRRO, WESTCHESTER COUNTY NY D.A.:  Well your comment that maybe they‘re going too far, I mean you know, you have to judge the jury and get a look at them.  I think that what the prosecution is doing here has certainly been approved by the judge and is admissible under California law. 

ABRAMS:  I agree. 

PIRRO:  But you make a good point and that is you have to really fine-tune and hone your case to the jury.  Is the jury getting tired?  Are they starting to look bored?  And if not, then any inappropriate touching is going to lend the credibility to the prosecution that this guy is a pedophile.  That‘s what the prosecutors are saying.  So this jury has to believe that he is—his character is the character of a pedophile so that even if there are questions about the victim in this case, the jury now at least has a better understanding of the defendant and that‘s what they‘re doing here...

ABRAMS:  Jeanine...

PIRRO:  ... they‘re painting a whole picture.

ABRAMS:  The cross-examination of a couple of these Neverland employees has been pretty straightforward.  The bottom line is they sued Michael Jackson.  Not only did they lose, but a jury awarded Michael Jackson attorney‘s fees.  Let me read you from some of the cross-examination. 

A Santa Maria jury held that you had stolen from Michael Jackson, right? 

I believe so. 

And they awarded Mr. Jackson $35,000 for what you personally had stolen from him, right?

The sketch that I found in the trash, yes.

How much does that undermine the credibility? 

PIRRO:  It certainly undermines the credibility, but you know what, Dan, prosecutors don‘t get their witnesses from central casting.  If we think someone has something—some information to give to the jury to complete the picture, we call them and we understand that not everyone is perfect and a lot of people...

ABRAMS:  But this is not about perfection.  This is about having an ax to grind...


ABRAMS:  ... that‘s more specific...


ABRAMS:  ... than just someone who committed some crime. 

PIRRO:  Dan, does the whole world have an ax to grind because they have paraded in a lot of people whose credibility has been attacked.  What do they have, a conspiracy meeting and say we‘re going to get Michael Jackson?  No, everybody has a problem.  They don‘t come in perfect, but now the jury will put the pieces together and I think the puzzle is almost pretty complete. 

ABRAMS:  What about the fact that Macaulay Culkin says nothing happened?

PIRRO:  I don‘t blame him and I‘m not surprised.  I mean when this case first starred, Dan, I saw his picture in the bedroom as it was photographed.  I said that is one kid the prosecution has to talk to.  Now no adult at this point wants to admit that he was sexual abused.  The kids don‘t want to admit they‘re sexual abused.  I‘ve dealt with these victims for decades. 

They can‘t confront what‘s happened to them.  They‘d rather sweep it under the carpet.  It is their denial, their way of dealing with it.  Let me go on with my normal life, quasi-normal life in some cases, and not have to deal with this.  Who would want to say that this happened to them 10, 15 years ago? 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Robert Dunn, here‘s what the former maid said—this is not the chef from today.  Again, the chef saying what I just said.  That the former maid said I saw Mr. Jackson and Macaulay in the library.  Mr. Jackson was kissing him on his cheek and he had his hand kind of by his leg, kind of on his rear end.  I mean it sounds like we‘re getting a couple of people who are coming out and saying, at least, look, in addition to the person who says he saw Michael Jackson performing oral sex on the ‘93 kid, we‘ll talk about that in a second, but the Macaulay Culkin business, you know one kid—one person says he saw him.  They‘re basically all saying that he‘s acting really inappropriately. 

DUNN:  Well, Dan, as you said, I mean how do you win when you‘ve indicated that the alleged victim in this particular instance is saying that he was not molested and then when he says that he is not molested, then people like Jeanine would say, well, why would you expect for him to say that he‘d been—he was molested?  How do you win if the actual victim himself says that he wasn‘t molested? 

I mean this is becoming the classic case of demonstrating what is wrong with California‘s 1108.  And that what‘s happening here is that the original charges have been completely subsumed and overwhelmed with a myriad of other allegations where, for the most part, the alleged victims are either not coming to court to say that they were victims to substantiate what‘s been alleged or have actually gone on record with regards to the kid in Australia and with regard to Macaulay Culkin saying that they weren‘t molested. 


DUNN:  So I mean this...

PIRRO:  Every...

DUNN:  ... it is becoming a no-win...

ABRAMS:  Jeanine...

DUNN:  ... proposition here. 

PIRRO:  Every state in this country allows, whether by statute or case law, the introduction of prior bad acts that establish a common scheme or plan... 

DUNN:  Yes, but this doesn‘t establish...

PIRRO:  ... whether it‘s...

DUNN:  ... a common plan or scheme.

PIRRO:  ... or not.  I‘m sorry...

ABRAMS:  What about the oral sex? 

DUNN:  And in New York we have a...

ABRAMS:  I mean what about the oral sex, Robert?

PIRRO:  What about the oral sex? 

ABRAMS:  I mean that‘s so gross if that—come on!

DUNN:  Again, as it has been said earlier, if indeed the act, which was terribly gross, you know...

PIRRO:  Terribly gross?  It‘s illegal. 

DUNN:  ... why (UNINTELLIGIBLE) why didn‘t it not prompt some action when it allegedly occurred?

ABRAMS:  It did. 


ABRAMS:  He sued and he won $20-something million. 

PIRRO:  And what you‘ve got here is a jury that now understands that they‘ve got a pedophile in the courtroom.  And that‘s why this prior bad act and these things are allowed in criminal courtrooms so that the jury can start to understand the character of the individual. 

DUNN:  Well if that is the truth...

ABRAMS:  Final word, Robert.  I got to wrap...

DUNN:  ... OK—if that is the truth, then why can‘t they put their case on with regard to the witnesses that they have in this particular charge... 


PIRRO:  They did.  They are. 

DUNN:  ... rather than—what they have now done is that—if they have made their case at all, the original case couldn‘t stand on its own two legs, they have made it by bringing in a myriad of other allegations from the past.

ABRAMS:  We...

PIRRO:  I think the jury is entitled to know those allegations...

ABRAMS:  We...

PIRRO:  ... if they‘re going to decide the truth. 

ABRAMS:  ... shall see.  Jeanine Pirro, Robert Dunn, thanks a lot. 

Coming up, why we should all be frightened by what Tom Delay is saying in the wake of the Terri Schiavo case.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”. 


ABRAMS:  Coming up, House majority leader Tom DeLay I say is out of control by trying to tell judges what to do.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—it‘s time for majority leader Tom Delay to pipe down.  I‘m tired of all this inflammatory rhetoric about our judges.  It is shameful, dangerous and pure pandering.  In a speech yesterday, DeLay accused the judiciary of having run amok after it refused to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case.  Look, he or anyone else has every right to criticize any decision they don‘t like, but he‘s doing far more than that. 

He is tarring a branch of government and then he and some of his supporters wonder why the public is increasingly distrustful of our judges?  If you think about what he‘s really saying, it is almost laughable.  He and a handful of others can‘t seem to decide if our judges are too—quote—

“activist”, which we hear a lot or not activist enough, which was the case with Terri Schiavo where they wanted the federal courts to step in and reinsert the feeding tube. 

They just know that when they don‘t like a ruling, it must mean that our entire judicial branch of government is out of control.  Run amok.  But it is really just a power play, an effort to make sure Congress can pass any law it so desires without any judicial oversight, period.  Well that may be the way Tom DeLay wants it, but not the way our founding fathers wanted it.  If DeLay wants to scrap the Constitution, then he just say it, but our founders made sure that people like DeLay couldn‘t pass laws unchecked.  Hence, checks and balances. 

DeLay called on Congress to—quote—“reassert its constitutional authority over the courts and to end the era of cowardice.”  The problem is Tom DeLay and the U.S. Congress don‘t have the constitutional authority over decisions courts make.  That‘s what the separation of powers is all about.  Congress has the authority to control the jurisdiction of the federal courts, meaning what cases it can hear, although that power can be misused as well.  And it can pass laws for the courts to interpret, but the opinions handed down by judges who sit on federal courts across the country are intentionally independent. 

I don‘t want judges thinking (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I wonder what Tom DeLay would think the outcome should be here.  Congress gets to weigh in on federal judges before they get the job and I would expect this president to appoint conservative judges, fine.  But DeLay just seems to dislike all judges because they restrict his power.  Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote that congressional criticism of judicial decisions is—quote—“an unwarranted and ill considered effort to intimidate individual judges.” 

And this is not about the Republicans in Congress or in the Senate.  Senate majority leader Bill Frist has refused to echo DeLay‘s comment.  It is about a few fringe players.  Maybe an effort by DeLay to divert attention from the ever increasing criminal and ethical investigations being conducted about his activities, but if that‘s the case it‘s a shabby way to do it.  This should scare any of us who have respect for our system of government. 

Coming up in 60 seconds, no more cookies for the “Cookie Monster”. 

It‘s tonight‘s “OH PLEAs!”.


ABRAMS:  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night we told about the explosive testimony in the Michael Jackson case.  A former security guard told jurors he saw Jackson perform oral sex on a 13-year-old boy in ‘93.  Another former employer said she saw Jackson kiss and fondle another boy, but both of them had tried to sue Jackson unsuccessfully. 

Gail in Florida, “If all these former adult employees saw all these acts happening, it is my opinion that they too should be prosecuted for not reporting immediately to the authorities what they saw.  I wonder if they saw a purse snatcher, a hit-and-run accident or even a murder, would they report it then?”

Carol Martin in Walnut Creek, California, “Why is it so hard to believe that Jackson‘s maid and guard wouldn‘t report child sexual abuse?  Catholic bishops turned their backs on child sexual abuse by the priests under their supervision for decades.”

John in San Francisco, “If Tom Mesereau, the defense attorney, uses the same ridiculous arguments in defense of Michael Jackson as the criminal defense attorneys on your show, he doesn‘t have a chance.”

Wanda Thompson in Staten Island, “Where is the prosecution finding their witnesses?  They have more baggage then Imelda Marcos had shoes.”

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

“OH PLEAs!”—is nothing sacred anymore?  Even the tough, gruff “Cookie Monster” caving to the P.C. police.  “Sesame Street” starting its 35th season this week is changing its tune.  Actually, “Cookie Monster‘s” tune.  In an effort to promote healthy eating, our childhood cookie enabler has recorded a new song. 

It used to be, “C is for cookie and that‘s good enough for me.”  Well apparently, that‘s just too good or too fattening.  Now, he will say, “a cookie is a sometimes food”, reminding our increasingly obese children and negligent parents that just because it‘s good enough for him doesn‘t mean it should be good enough for everyone.  “Sesame Street” plans on offering “Cookie Monster” healthier cookies to lure him away from his staple, chocolate chip. 

But the vice president of research and education for the show offers these reassuring words that “Sesame Street”—quote—“would never take the position of no sugar.  Just trying to teach moderation.”  There are even going to be some new residents on “Sesame Street” to help “Cookie Monster” curb his age-old addiction.  New characters like a talking eggplant, carrots and even a parody American fruit stand are being introduced.  What‘s next?  Making “Oscar the Grouch” get a better attitude? 

That does it for us tonight.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Thanks for watching.  Have a great weekend.


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.


Discussion comments