updated 5/2/2005 2:01:57 PM ET 2005-05-02T18:01:57

Guest: Don Clark, Susan Filan, Mickey Sherman, Larry Kobilinsky, Jim Moret

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, why are police calling off the search for a missing bride-to-be who was supposed to be married tomorrow?  This as her family offers up an $100,000 reward. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We love Jennifer very much.  We would give our life and everything that we own to have her returned. 

ABRAMS (voice-over):  Her fianc’ passes a private lie detector test, but won‘t take one administered by the authorities unless they agree to have it videotaped.  Why wouldn‘t the authorities agree to that? 

And police find hair that looks like Jennifer‘s, but it also appears to have been cut.  What does that all mean?  We‘ve got the latest on the search and we‘ll talk to a friend of her fianc’. 

And as the prosecution‘s case comes to an end in the Michael Jackson case, we ask, have prosecutors delivered what they promised? 

The program about justice starts now. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket tonight, the mystery continues in connection with the disappearance of Jennifer Wilbanks, the 32-year-old bride-to-be, her wedding day tomorrow.  She has been missing since Tuesday.  Today, new information about lie detectors and possible evidence being recovered.  I don‘t know what to make of this case. 

Look, according to her fianc’, she went out for her regular nightly run, didn‘t return.  Today the official search for Jennifer was called off indefinitely.  Police in Duluth, Georgia say their town has been searched three times, the searchers—quote—“turning over probably every leaf.” 

Also today, two families, hers and that of her fianc’, John Mason, heartbroken, many of them weeping as they announced the $100,000 reward for information leading to anyone responsible for her disappearance.  Tomorrow, Jennifer‘s 14 bridesmaids will wear black when they go to the First United Methodist Church to celebrate the wedding, if Jennifer somehow returns or to pray for her, if she doesn‘t. 

This is a tough case.  All right.  The family had a press conference, and here is what the uncle had to say. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE SATTERFIELD, JENNIFER WILBANKS‘ UNCLE:  The families have come together and are supporting each other.  We‘re doing that through our faith, through our friends, and through prayer.  Today we would first of all like to request a prayer for Jennifer and her safe return.  Anyone who would like to do that, we certainly would request that and appreciate it. 

We cannot describe the emotional effect the situation places on our family.  We apologize if we have seemed distant.  But I think it‘s a natural occurrence, and it‘s a process that we‘re going through.  Our emotions appear to be driving many of our actions, and hopefully, we will try and control that the best we can. 

We are establishing a reward fund today.  Anyone who wishes to participate in that reward fund, and this will be for the arrest and conviction of a person or persons who may be responsible for the disappearance of Jennifer.  Anyone wishing to participate may do so at the Gwinnett Community Bank here in Duluth or the Gainesville Bank and Trust in Gainesville, Georgia.  The family has established an initial reward of $100,000. 

We love Jennifer very much.  We would give our life and everything that we own to have her returned.  We support each other very much in all areas.  It‘s my understanding that John took a lie detector test this morning and passed. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  All right.  That‘s one of the big issues here, all right?  This is the fianc’, John Mason.  He (INAUDIBLE) lie detector test, but he was also imposing conditions before he would get hooked up to a polygraph administered by the authorities.  Chief Randy Belcher talked about that and for the search for Jennifer, shortly after the family‘s news conference. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RANDY BELCHER, DULUTH, GA POLICE CHIEF:  We have nothing at this point to show that there has been a crime committed.  We have had helicopters searching from the air.  We have had swift water rescue and DNR searching the rivers along the city of Duluth.  We‘ve had hundreds of searchers on the ground searching, and we‘re checking all of our leads that we can possibly get at this present time. 

Mr. Mason did take a polygraph today by a private examiner.  We have requested that he take a polygraph now through the GBI.  He has agreed to take the polygraph, but under certain conditions.  One of the conditions was being in a neutral location.  Another condition was being videotaped.  We are willing to meet with him in a neutral location, if he agrees to a location that we want to meet in is neutral.  One of the requirements is a videotape.  The FBI, GBI or any other law enforcement agency that is worth anything, will not videotape the polygraph examination. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

ABRAMS:  Well “My Take”—that is not what we are hearing.  I mean we‘ve been calling a lot of people and you know look, it may not be standard procedure, but the bottom line is if that‘s going to be the issue, the sticking point here, you know, why not?  Why not videotape it and—look, I said last night I don‘t understand why he‘s imposing all these conditions, et cetera, but we‘ve got a panel that really is going to be able to answer those questions. 

Joining me now Don Clark, retired special agent, in charge of the FBI‘s Houston office, forensic professor Larry Kobilinsky from John Jay, Connecticut state prosecutor Susan Filan, and criminal defense attorney Mickey Sherman.  All right, Don, let me start with you on this business about the lie detector test.  Are the authorities being a little stubborn here or are they making the right call in saying, look, we are not going to videotape it? 

DON CLARK, RETIRED FBI SPECIAL AGENT:  You know Dan, I can‘t figure it out.  You know, I‘ve given authority to do these polygraphs for a lot of times, and I think that you know, a polygraph in and of itself is pretty pristine.  You know you‘ve got a person, you‘ve got a machine and you‘ve got a polygrapher there that‘s going to give this.  But if it‘s something that‘s going to enhance this and make it a little bit better in terms of perception or whatever, why not go for it?  If it‘s a policy issue, get rid of it.  I talked to some friends today from the FBI and I asked them, I‘ve been gone a few years.  Do you have a law that said or a procedure or a policy that says, no, you‘re not going to videotape a polygraph test, and the answer was no.  So I don‘t understand why that can‘t be worked out. 

ABRAMS:  I don‘t understand it, either.  I mean Susan, do you have any ideas? 

SUSAN FILAN, CONNECTICUT STATE PROSECUTOR:   The only thing I can think of is that polygraphs aren‘t admissible in court and there are some people that just don‘t really believe in them.  So maybe this department has set up very rigid standards and procedures to ensure that every single polygraph is done the exact same way.  I think that‘s kind of hokey.  I think videotape it.  Why not?  And I don‘t really have a problem...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FILAN:  ... with him insisting on these conditions. 

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  He has already taken a polygraph. 

ABRAMS:  I would really be sort of going after this guy, if he were sort of saying, well, I‘m only going to do it—you know we get into this discussion a lot of these high profile cases, where people say oh I‘m not going to take a polygraph on your terms. I‘m only going to take it with my people, et cetera.  I don‘t trust the authorities, but that‘s not what this guy is saying. 

I mean he is not saying, I don‘t trust the authorities.  He‘s just saying, I want to make sure that there is a videotape there to make sure that everything is on the record.  Mickey Sherman, if you are the defense attorney, let‘s say he‘s spoken to an attorney, right, and he says, look my fianc’ is missing.  I want to do everything I can to help find her.  But you know the authorities there, they are asking me a lot of questions.  This and that.  Would you advise him to first take a polygraph with you, before taking a polygraph with the authorities? 

MICKEY SHERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Yes, I would.  That is exactly what I would do, Dan, and obviously that is what his counsel did.  You know believe it or not we don‘t always know if our clients are guilty or not.  And polygraphs are pretty darn reliable.  So we have him take it privately under an optimum situation and if they pass, then fine.  Let him do it with the state.  The problem is with the state or the police administered polygraph is it‘s usually more than a polygraph.  It‘s an inquisition.  It‘s not exactly getting beat up under a bright light...

ABRAMS:  But he‘s willing to do it here.  I mean...

SHERMAN:  I know...

ABRAMS:  But that‘s the point...

(CROSSTALK)

SHERMAN:  I agree. 

ABRAMS:  I mean he‘s willing to do it.  All he is saying is make sure

·         I want to make sure it‘s taped...

SHERMAN:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... to make sure it‘s done properly. 

SHERMAN:  And that‘s exactly why they want it taped to make sure that it‘s not an inquisition type and if it is, and if he fails, you want to see what happened.  There is no reason why we can‘t watch what they are doing.

ABRAMS:  Larry...

FILAN:  The other thing that‘s...

ABRAMS:  Let me see.  Larry, you got any thoughts on this? 

LARRY KOBILINSKY, FORENSICS PROFESSOR:  Yes, I do, Dan.  The issue is really not the videotaping.  The issue is the polygrapher, the person actually doing the testing and the kind of questions that are asked.  As you know, polygraphy is not admissible generally speaking in courts of law based on a federal case back in 1923, the Frye standard.  And essentially, you can fool a polygraph about 10 percent of the time if you know what you‘re doing.  So the issue has nothing to do with the videotaping, per se.  It does have a lot to do with the analyst and...

ABRAMS:  Right.

KOBILINSKY:  ... the quality of the questions.  And there will be a difference between a private consultant working for the family and GBI...

ABRAMS:  Right.

KOBILINSKY:  ... polygraphers. 

SHERMAN:  But Larry, they don‘t seem to be fighting over that.  I think they are giving it away.  The person taking the polygraph is saying hey, ask me whatever you want...

ABRAMS:  You know I‘ve got to tell you...

SHERMAN:  ... I just want a video just to make sure...

ABRAMS:  I‘m going to make a prediction, ladies and gentlemen and here it is.  After all the people that we have called and asked this very question to you—here are experts like Don Clark who ran the Houston office for the FBI, saying look, if this were the sticking point, I would just say all right, fine, videotape it.  I think that the authorities are going to come around, they‘re going to eventually agree to this. 

I predict and again, this is ongoing.  The reason we‘re calling this is flash news is because there is stuff happening as we‘re speaking.  Don Teague is the scene.  We‘re going to check in with him in a minute, but I will not be surprised to hear that the Georgia authorities change their minds and say, fine, let‘s go forward with the videotape, then we‘ll see if it will happen. 

All right.  Let me take a quick break here.  They‘ve found some items, which could be evidence in the case.  They have got a hair which appears to match Jennifer‘s, they found some clothing.  Don Teague is on the scene.  We will check in with him. 

And it has been a tough week for prosecutors in the Michael Jackson case.  Today they finally got a victory.  They can show jurors some photos found in a book at Jackson‘s house.  And I‘m sure you can guess what kind of photos we are talking about.  It‘s young boys again—there it is. 

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Next thing I know it‘s 10:00 and I‘m thinking this has gone on a little bit too long.  She‘s not back, so I waited a little bit longer, about 10:30 and I went out looking for her and never found her anywhere. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  That is the fianc’ of Jennifer Wilbanks talking about what happened on Tuesday.  He‘s supposed to get married to her tomorrow and family and friends still planning.  They are all there for the wedding and the bridesmaids are all expected to be wearing black, going to what would have been the location of the wedding, to either pray or hope that in some miracle Jennifer Wilbanks shows up. 

All right.  Let‘s talk about the evidence.  Let‘s go to the latest on this, check in with Don Teague who is at the command center in Duluth, Georgia.  All right, so Don, we‘ve been talking a lot about this lie detector, and why he would take it, why he wouldn‘t take it (INAUDIBLE) but what is the actual evidence or possible evidence that the authorities says that they have recovered? 

DON TEAGUE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Dan, unfortunately it‘s awfully thin at this point.  First of all, they made a point today of saying they‘ve found no evidence that a crime has actually been committed anywhere, and they also said that there is still a chance this is a case of cold feet.  Now clearly no one is working under that presumption but that shows you, as you said at the beginning of this program, that you really have no idea about this case.  It seems the authorities are having that same problem, how to characterize what exactly has happened. 

So on the evidence, they found three pieces of clothing, some sweat pants, a sweatshirt and a shoe, but they found those miles apart from each other.  The police chief, when he gave his press conference today, didn‘t really seem to put a lot of stock in those three pieces.  Yes, they have been sent to a crime lab to be tested.  But it didn‘t—reading between the lines—feel like there was anything expected to come from that. 

Now the strands of hair, that is sort of a different story.  They were found nearby here, in a business park.  They appeared to be cut.  We don‘t know what that means really.  But that‘s an interesting point about them and he says generally they match her type of hair, same color, same length, et cetera.  Here is what the chief had to say about that hair.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BELCHER:  The hair is consistent with that of Ms. Wilbanks.  That‘s all we know.  We have not gotten enough data back to say yes it belongs to her or no it does not belong to her.  Right now it‘s just same hair color, and similar to her hair. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

TEAGUE:  So that‘s not a lot to go on.  Not a lot of evidence.  I‘m not sure if you mentioned this earlier.  They did take three computers from the couple‘s home last night.  They are going through those computers looking for any information that could, you know, lead to a suspect.  We also know they have been questioning former boyfriends, they have been questioning known sex offenders in the area.  But right now not a lot of information and I think you can tell by the command post behind me, it‘s gone.  They packed it up this afternoon and left after calling off the search.  They said, we don‘t have any more places to search until we have some idea where to look. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, Don, real quick though.  Why are they calling off the search?  I mean this is a marathon runner, who certainly, you know, if you‘re preparing for a marathon, what, you run practice runs of 13 miles, sometimes 15 miles, et cetera.  I mean, why aren‘t they expanding the search area and saying, we got to keep looking?

TEAGUE:  Well, clearly they have put the word out to the public to look and we know that other law enforcement agencies nearby are looking.  But if you think about that, doing a specific grid search, like authorities do, is very labor-intensive, just to cover a small area.  And a marathon runner can run 20 miles getting ready for a race...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

TEAGUE:  ... take that out from one point, that‘s a huge area.  That‘s, you know, half of the Atlanta area and they just can‘t walk all of that on foot.  So they have done the immediate area, this five square miles around the home, and now they are just looking for any indication that they should focus on another specific area.  So perhaps it‘s misleading to say the search has been called off.  They are still searching for her, investigating the crime, looking for her.  But they are not doing this methodical...

ABRAMS:  All right.

TEAGUE:  ... grid search that they have been doing for three days. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Don Teague, thanks a lot.  If anything comes up, please just—we are going to have the camera there ready to go.  Come right back on and let us know any developments...

TEAGUE:  Will do. 

ABRAMS:  ... in the next hour.  Retired special agent Don Clark from the FBI—Don, why—this calling off.  I mean I‘ve never heard of people announcing that they are calling off a search of this kind.  Doesn‘t it seem premature to be saying, oh, it seems we have turned over every leaf in the area? 

CLARK:  Well it certainly seems a little bit early to me, Dan.  But I‘m not there and I don‘t know what they have.  But I think you‘ve got to go as far as you possibly can even with the evidence and things that has been talked about here.  I mean it seems to me that it‘s pretty easy to determine this clothing issue, and either wash that out one way or the other.  And the hair issue is not a major point either because certainly somebody can find a strand of hair and that is an easy, comparable type of thing.  So what—to either say that these things are not a part of it...

ABRAMS:  Right.

CLARK:  ... or they are still checking them ought to be the things to do. 

ABRAMS:  Well let me talk to Larry Kobilinsky.  He deals with these kind of issues all the time.  Larry, the hair, all right?  So they—when they do hair analysis in these cases—and I have seen a number of trials where I‘ve watched it done—they base it on all these various factors of the shading and the color...

KOBILINSKY:  That‘s correct. 

ABRAMS:  ... apart from the DNA issue, which would be literally the root, which it doesn‘t seem that they have here...

KOBILINSKY:  That‘s right. 

ABRAMS:  ... so how quick a determination can you make in comparing a hair like that found and saying, all right, this really seems to be—seems to match the hair of Jennifer Wilbanks? 

KOBILINSKY:  Well Dan, for a hair that does not have a root, there are two types of analysis.  The first is microscopic.  And the criminalist will look at about 25 different characteristics of hair under the microscope and that is what I would consider a presumptive test to determine if there‘s a possible match between the questioned and known head hairs. 

The other part of it is mitochondrial DNA analysis and in order to do that, they have to do sequencing and that takes time.  It will be about a week.  I just want to remind you, Dan, remember Chandra Levy. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

KOBILINSKY:  The police did a thorough grid search but they seemed to have missed the body.  A year later all that was found was skeletal remains.  The soft tissue was gone, the clothing was gone...

ABRAMS:  Right.

KOBILINSKY:  ... and these early days are the most critical part of this investigation.  They should not be calling off the search.

ABRAMS:  Larry, what do you make of this—the hair seemed cut? 

KOBILINSKY:  The hair is cut.  Now, why it was cut, it‘s not clear.  But it was a clump of hairs.  So maybe there was a threat, maybe there was a knife involved.  She may have been abducted, she may have been brought across state lines out of the county, out of the state.  It‘s really hard to say. 

ABRAMS:  And let‘s—we should obviously point out that we don‘t know yet that it is actually her hair. 

KOBILINSKY:  That is correct.  The DNA testing will tell us for sure. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me get number five ready here because this is I think an important issue that the authorities talked about and that is some of the other people that they are talking to in the context of this investigation.  Is it ready to go?  OK.  Here it is, talking about response to a question about getting in touch with former boyfriends. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We are talking—have talked to the ex-boyfriends and we have a few more that we wish to talk to. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Susan, how important do you find that to be?  I would think that that‘s sort of the—you‘re talking about a woman who‘s about to get married, right?  I mean the people you want to talk to are anyone who might have a stake...

FILAN:  That‘s absolutely right. 

ABRAMS:  ... in that wedding, right?

FILAN:  That‘s absolutely right.  First I just want to say how sorry I am for this family.  It is just so heartbreaking to watch this, Dan.  But absolutely that‘s where you want to be looking.  You want to be looking at her immediate, her everyday life, otherwise we are talking about stranger abduction like the boogieman.  And I get the feeling from the reports that I‘m hearing, the police really don‘t think it‘s something like that.  Obviously they don‘t know and they don‘t have a clue. 

But the sense that I‘m getting is this is somebody who knew her in some way.  I think that‘s why the computer search is so important.  And as for the fianc’, I mean look—my understanding is that his dad is a judge, therefore his dad is a lawyer.  He is getting excellent legal advice.  He has retained counsel.  He‘s doing everything he can not to get in the crosshairs of a criminal investigation and trying to find her.

I think he‘s sounding like a swell fellow who‘s, you know, in an awful, awful position.  Yes, so let‘s look at these boyfriends, look at the other people in her life.  Let‘s look at co-workers.  Let‘s look at what goes on in her everyday life and start going from there.  Otherwise if we‘re talking about stranger abduction like your forensic expert said, boy she could be anywhere and my heart really goes out to this family. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Mickey, I assume that there‘s—is there any way to say to the family about tomorrow, you know, we can hope?  I mean I would guess as sort of a family lawyer, et cetera, if you were hired by the family, what are you saying to them going into tomorrow? 

SHERMAN:  You try and get them to be as vigilant as possible, to keep the police on the track.  I think that‘s what most families have done very successfully, is make sure—and we saw it in the Chandra Levy case specifically, make sure the squeaky wheel gets the most grease.  Don‘t be pains in the neck to the authorities, but by the same token, keep it alive, keep it alive in the media. 

I think the only thing we have to be careful about is to start vilifying people before we know who they are.  It‘s kind of a round up the usual suspects thing, especially when they start saying we‘re going to look at all the alleged sex offenders in the area.  We tend to kind of, you know, just lump all those people together and assume that they are probably guilty. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well, look, I mean I think that they‘ve got to talk to all the sex offenders and...

FILAN:  Absolutely. 

ABRAMS:  ... what‘s wrong with that? 

FILAN:  What Jessica Couey...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FILAN:  ... I mean that was right under everybody‘s nose...

ABRAMS:  John—no it was John Couey and Jessica Lunsford.

FILAN:  Yes, that‘s right.  You‘re right.

ABRAMS:  All right...

(CROSSTALK)

SHERMAN:  But in our zeal to get them we often trample over so many other people...

ABRAMS:  All right...

SHERMAN:  ... and if their names are leaked to the media, it‘s over. 

ABRAMS:  All right, look, the family has really come together here and they have all decided to really stay away from the media in this case, which can be unusual, because in a lot of these cases, they are asking for the media‘s help to say, hey put the name out there.  Put the picture out there.  They‘ve decided to do this a different way.  But we will still try and do what we can to help. 

Here is the tip line, if you‘ve got any information, relevant to this case, 770-476-4151.  Don Teague is there at the command center.  We‘ve got other people in the area.  If any developments happen in the next half an hour, we are going to bring them to you live on the program in connection with this case. 

So Don Clark and Larry Kobilinsky thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

KOBILINSKY:  It‘s a pleasure.

CLARK:  Thank you Dan.

ABRAMS:  Susan and Mickey are going to stick around because after a bad week for prosecutors in the Michael Jackson case, the case for the prosecution is almost over.  Got the latest from the courthouse, more bombshells today coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re coming back in a moment with the Michael Jackson case.  Some big developments, some photographs and books found at his house.  It‘s coming into evidence, the jurors are going to see it.  Coming up.

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  It was a week of setbacks, disappointing testimony for prosecutors in the Michael Jackson case.  They got a big win today.  Two books featuring graphic photos of nude or barely-dressed boys seized from Jackson‘s bedroom in ‘93, are going to be seen by the jury.  I bet they are really looking forward to that.  (INAUDIBLE)  

All right.  The books, “Boys Will Be Boys” and “The Boy: A Photographic Essay”, it‘s not good for Jackson.  Although the defense will say, they are simply art, coffee table books.  Either way the defense says it‘s just plain stale to let the books in, even portray them as anything but erotic, noting that one was inscribed by a fan in 1983 and the other by Jackson himself.  He wrote “look at the true spirit of happiness and joy in the boys‘ faces.  This is the spirit of boyhood.  A life I have never had and always dreamed of.  This is the life I want for my children”, signed M.J. 

Joining me now, attorney and senior correspondent for “Inside Edition,” Jim Moret has been following the trial from inside the courtroom, Connecticut state prosecutor Susan Filan, and criminal defense attorney Mickey Sherman.  All right, Jim, so what did the jurors see today?  What was the key testimony? 

JIM MORET, “INSIDE EDITION” SENIOR CORRESPONDENT:  Well as you said, the introduction of these two books.  They didn‘t see the pictures of the books.  They‘re going to have to do that for themselves, rather unusual frankly.  I think if you have—bring this evidence in and there was a fight over it because the defense said, look this was obtained in a 1993 search in the ‘93 accuser case.  There is no connection with this case. 

But the judge basically let it in under this 1108 testimony, the past bad acts saying that this does support that testimony and it—while it is not testimony, it is evidence that‘s supportive of this propensity for child molestation.  And it was a really big win for the prosecution end week where they‘ve had nothing but setbacks.  But the prosecution did not show the photographs on the overhead projector as we have seen them do with so many documents...

ABRAMS:  Why not Jim?  They are just showing the covers of the books? 

MORET:  They‘re just showing the covers.  There was no reason given.  I don‘t think that there‘s anything that would have precluded them from showing.  Let‘s face it.  This stuff is really graphic.  It‘s disturbing.  As a parent, I was disturbed when I saw some of the photos.  I had an opportunity to see some of the photos of this book—“The Boy: A Photographic Essay”, and frankly there are a number of people on that jury that are parents and I think that they would be disturbed.  I would think as a prosecutor you would want the jury to be disturbed and want to associate Michael Jackson as a pedophile and want to look at him through that lens.  And they didn‘t take the opportunity to do so, and they didn‘t give an explanation why. 

ABRAMS:  You know, Mickey, we can say that this—oh it‘s not that big a deal, it doesn‘t really go to the issue of did he molest this boy.  But you know, having books, yes, you can claim they are art books and yes, there‘s an explanation for everything.  But this is just—there is something about it, which I think really may strike some jurors and say, what is this guy doing?  On the whole, we‘ve got all these other witnesses coming in, and saying that all this stuff happened, and he‘s got these photographic books with these young boys in it.  Big deal or not? 

SHERMAN:  No, I don‘t think it‘s a big deal.  Shame on Tom Sneddon for sliming Michael Jackson in the waning moments of this case because this has nothing, as you say, nothing to do with moving the ball forward as to whether or not Michael Jackson molested this particular victim.  1993, 12 years ago, there were some art books at his home.  What does that have to do with whether or not he committed this crime?  It‘s bad character evidence.  It‘s inappropriate and I think it‘s grounds for a great appeal later on, if there is ever a conviction which I think is doubtful. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, I don‘t think it‘s grounds—good grounds for appeal, Susan, because the bottom line is, you know, the law is pretty clear in California.  It‘s pretty expansive in terms of what it allows prosecutors to present in this type of case. 

FILAN:  Right.  I mean it sounds like everybody hates 1108 and that‘s the beef.  But under 1108 this is properly admissible.  It‘s relevant, 1108 being the prior bad act.  So I think these books are important to the prosecution...

ABRAMS:  Why aren‘t they showing the pictures, Susan...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Why are they just showing the cover? 

FILAN:  I‘m a big fan of publishing exhibits to the jury.  I think it‘s just mean to sort of tantalize them, show them, and tell them and then not let them see.  I think it‘s difficult for them.  This is a hard, long trial for them to sit through.  Show them a picture. 

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  At least let it stick in their minds so it matches the testimony...

SHERMAN:  What‘s the bad prior act?FILAN:  ... with the—sorry? 

SHERMAN:  What‘s the prior—what is the prior bad act?  Is it illegal to have these books?  Was that a crime?  Then it would be a prior bad act.

FILAN:  Hey, Mickey.  How are you?  What I think it goes to is his propensity or his predilection. 

ABRAMS:  But this is about the grooming, right Jim...

FILAN:  Exactly...

ABRAMS:  I mean, Jim, this is admitted to show part of the pattern of grooming, is that right?

SHERMAN:  But it‘s not...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let me let Jim respond.  Go ahead Jim.

MORET:  Well, there has never been any evidence, not in ‘93, not now, that Michael Jackson ever showed pictures like these to boys.  So using this in the grooming area is not—I don‘t think that is where it‘s being introduced.  I think it‘s being introduced to show that he has a propensity or an attraction to young boys...

ABRAMS:  But how is that...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I mean why isn‘t Mickey right then that even under the...

SHERMAN:  I am right.

ABRAMS:  ... expansive law that allows for prior bad acts, how do you get this in? 

MORET:  Well, I mean that‘s what the defense was arguing.  They were arguing that, look, Your Honor, the 1108 testimony is being used to bolster the testimony of this accuser, and this is just being used to bolster the 1108 witnesses, so it‘s too remote.  And frankly I thought they had a good argument, but you‘re right.  It is an expansive law here in California.  The judge said the probative value—this is this 352 -- probative outweighed the prejudicial value.  I think it‘s highly prejudicial, but frankly that‘s what the prosecution wanted.  They want you to be prejudice against Michael Jackson.  They want you to see him through a different lens. 

ABRAMS:  I‘m...

SHERMAN:  That ain‘t the way it‘s supposed to be. 

ABRAMS:  I‘m going to take a quick break here.  In a minute, I want to go through some of the things the prosecution promised and yet don‘t seem to be delivering.  But Jim, bottom line is, is the sense there that the case isn‘t going so well for prosecutors? 

MORET:  I think that‘s absolutely the case.  They had a major disappointment this week with Debbie Rowe.  They promised something.  They didn‘t deliver and they didn‘t even challenge her when she didn‘t deliver and I think that...

FILAN:  I‘m going to disagree with you on that, Jim. 

ABRAMS:  Really?

FILAN:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  Susan, you really are? 

MORET:  Hi Susan.

FILAN:  I really am.  Yes, I really am.

ABRAMS:  You think that things are going just peachy-keen for prosecutors? 

FILAN:  I didn‘t say peachy-keen.  But I don‘t think Debbie Rowe is the setback that everybody is making it out to be.  I don‘t think it‘s this cataclysmic disappointment.  First of all, she‘s only called to corroborate a small piece...

ABRAMS:  Yes...

FILAN:  ... of the accuser‘s mother‘s testimony. 

ABRAMS:  ... that‘s fine, but that‘s the lawyer‘s answer.  The practical answer is you‘ve got a woman who is his ex-wife, getting on the witness stand and saying I trust him. 

FILAN:  No, no, no...

ABRAMS:  He‘s a good guy. 

FILAN:  No, no, no.  What you have is a pathetic transparent woman who‘s obviously sitting up there because she wants to reconnect with Michael Jackson.  She doesn‘t even want her kids back.  That lawsuit is a ploy to get back at Michael.  So she‘s up there—I thought it was completely transparent.  It‘s her way to coup back at Michael...

ABRAMS:  So...

FILAN:  ... and I think the jury is going to see that...

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  ... and I think the prosecution was right...

(CROSSTALK)

FILAN:  ... not to impeach her. 

SHERMAN:  But she‘s a state‘s witness. 

ABRAMS:  All right, let me take a quick break...

SHERMAN:  She‘s the state‘s witness.  She is the one they brought. 

ABRAMS:  I know.  Look, I don‘t—look, I‘ve heard a number of people try and spin it somehow that Debbie Rowe was good for prosecutors and she...

FILAN:  I didn‘t say good.  I said she is not the cataclysmic disappointment and that is not a spin. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  I‘ve got to take a break.  A little more on the Jackson case.  I want to go through the stuff that they said was going to happen and didn‘t. 

And you‘ve probably seen a photo on newsstands this week—that one -

·         Brad and Angelina together vacationing in Africa.  But one magazine took some editorial license, so I thought what a great opportunity for me to take some editorial license and share some of my personal vacation pictures.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Jay Leno making some jokes about the program about justice and the Michael Jackson case coming up, Jay making fun of me (INAUDIBLE). 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY LENO, HOST, TONIGHT SHOW:  MSNBC legal expert Dan Abrams, he said that seeing Michael Jackson‘s former wife Debbie Rowe in the video—you probably saw that, the video in front of the fireplace defending Michael with the music playing—he said it was like watching a porn video.  That‘s what he said.  He said watching that was like watching a porn video. 

What kind of bad porn video...

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

ABRAMS:  Come on, Jay.  I said it sounded like a porn movie, the music. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEBBIE ROWE, MICHAEL JACKSON‘S EX-WIFE:  The look on his face. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Just the music, not the video. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROWE:  Talk amongst yourselves. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Come on, Jay.  Give me a break.  Good to see you‘re watching me.  All right, back on the Jackson case.  We have been talking a lot about Debbie Rowe and the fact that she certainly didn‘t live up to expectations in this case, that prosecutors were expecting her to say things that she didn‘t.  But she is not the only witness.  How about this guy? 

Chris Carter, here is what the D.A. said they were going to hear.  Chris Carter will tell you that—he‘s a security guard—that he observed one incident one night where he encountered the accuser.  He was intoxicated.  When Carter asked the boy why was he drinking, he replied Michael Jackson told him he had to be a man and drink.

And he never testified in this case, so that‘s one of them.  Let‘s go to number seven here.  Flight attendant who—here‘s what Tom Sneddon, the D.A., promised.  The stewardesses will tell you unequivocally without hesitation and without contradiction that on that flight with these boys, that she served alcohol in those cans full of wine and the boys drank, especially the accuser. 

Here is what the jurors heard.  Question:  At no time on any flight you‘ve been on with Michael Jackson, have you ever seen him share wine with any child, correct? 

That‘s correct.

You‘ve never seen Michael Jackson share a Diet Coke can with wine with any child, correct?

That‘s correct.

You never saw those children drinking from a Diet Coke can with wine, correct?

That‘s correct.

Susan, are we seeing more slip-ups in this case?  I mean more promises

by the prosecutors undelivered than in most cases? 

FILAN:  I don‘t know.  I mean closing argument—sorry, opening argument is such a dangerous, dangerous place for a prosecutor to be because you really have a difficult time controlling what comes out of your witnesses‘ mouths.  Very often you control a witness, they come on the witness stand and you‘re like, (INAUDIBLE)?  Did we just talk?  It‘s a strange thing.  But I think on balance, in the end what they are going to have to argue to this jury is here is what you did hear.  And what you heard adds up to proof...

ABRAMS:  Yes...

FILAN:  ... beyond a reasonable doubt. 

ABRAMS:  Because Mickey, I think a lot of the time we may have a tendency to overstate, to sit here with the opening statement and say oh, here is what Tom Sneddon said, he didn‘t deliver.  He loses credibility.  Bottom line is, it‘s just going to come down to did the jurors buy it or not. 

SHERMAN:  Yes, memo to Tom Sneddon.  Interview your witnesses and also, if they are in an orange jumpsuit, it‘s not going to be a good thing for the state.  I mean this didn‘t take a lot of research on his part.  I don‘t know where they slipped up.  I think the problem is, as you point out, he made a lot of promises.  There is no need to.  Just put the darn case on.  Bring the witnesses and only bring the appropriate witnesses.  He‘s tried—I think he‘s over tried this case and he‘s put on people that he didn‘t need to put on. 

ABRAMS:  Jim Moret, final thought, this case is—the prosecution‘s case is going to wrap Tuesday it seems? 

MORET:  Tuesday and they‘ve got a lot to wrap up.  They have a lot of loose ends that they have to tie up.  They basically have two days to do it. 

FILAN:  Dan, can I ask one question? 

ABRAMS:  No.  Unfortunately we are out of time.  As much as I love you, Susan...

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  ... unfortunately, we are just out of time.  Susan Filan and Mickey Sherman and Jim Moret—Susan, we love you.  Come on.  Thanks. 

Coming up, my personal vacation photos, and one could argue they‘re even more interesting than Brad and Angelina‘s?  How could that be?  Up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—the cover of this week‘s “Star” magazine.  Turns out, it‘s not a real photo of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt frolicking on an African beach.  You see “Star” lost a biding war with “Us Weekly” magazine, which paid half a million dollars for the real snap shots of the dashing couple on what seems like a romantic beach walk, a serious coup for “Us” magazine coming just a few months after his break-up with Jennifer Anniston. 

So “Star” took a photo of Brad on a beach in the Caribbean and a separate of Angelina with her son, Maddox, on a Virginia beach and using the wonders of photo shop, caught them together on this week‘s cover.  You have to turn to page eight of the magazine and read the very small print to learn the photos are digitally manufactured.  It got me thinking about my own photo album and how I could really spice up my life story with just a little bit of help from MSNBC‘s graphics department. 

Look, here‘s me and J.Lo on the red carpet.  J.Lo really was in a bad mood—she barely talked to me at dinner, left through the back door to avoid the paparazzi.  I went home alone that night.  I have much better memories of my New Year‘s trip to Disney World with the Olsen twins.  Now that was fun, went to Epcot Center, saw the Pirates of the Caribbean, rode Space Mountain together three times. 

And I was really honored when “American Idol” asked me to be a guest judge this season for “Show Tunes” night, but I just can‘t believe Constantine was voted off this week after the way he sang “My Funny Valentine” that night.  It‘s a crime I tell you.  And here‘s me helping Michael Jackson out of his car that day he slipped in the shower, hurt his back, and I told Michael over and over again that he just change out of the pajamas before court, but Joe, his dad, is on the other side of Michael, agreed with me but Michael said, no, no, no, I want my fans to feel the pain pajamas and all. 

And this one, deep from my personal archives.  You may not have known this, but Marilyn Monroe and I had a little thing.  We tried to keep it on the lowdown.  The paparazzi managed to track us down one night.  There it was.  And now since Brad and Jennifer are no longer an item, here‘s one that might be coming to a newsstand near you.  Hey, Jennifer, just let me know.  Wouldn‘t it be nice if it were as easy as they make it at the “Star”. 

Coming up, your e-mails. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night I questioned why Jennifer Wilbanks‘ fianc’ had delayed taking a polygraph test.

Brad Klein writes from Connecticut, “I admire your show generally, but tonight you took the role of the cheap media hound in questioning John Mason‘s right to refuse a polygraph.”

Brad, I never questioned his right to refuse a polygraph.  We just talked about whether it was the right thing to do.  As it turns out, I‘m defending him on the show today.

One of our regular guests, Jonna Spilbor, writes, “I always advise clients to refuse polygraph examinations when requested by police, at least until I‘ve had an opportunity to have one conducted first out of the presence of prosecutors.  From a defense perspective, polygraphs are of little benefit often serving to create suspicion where suspicion need not exist.”

Yes Jonna, I know that is the position from a defense perspective.  But from a common sense perspective, it is a fair question to ask when someone‘s fianc’ goes missing, why their first response would not be to immediately do everything possible to help the investigation. 

Also last night, we talked about Michael Jackson‘s ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, and her testimony didn‘t leave up to prosecutors‘ hopes. 

Elizabeth Neokleous from Connecticut, “Am I the only cynic here or does anyone feel that Debbie Rowe may have been persuaded to alter her memory of the details?”

And Patricia Grasso, “This sounds like some sort of obstruction of justice on her part.  Is there any way that the prosecution can prosecute her for something?  I really hate sneaky, manipulative people getting away with things.”

Not unless they can prove she was lying, Patricia.

And Joan Conrad writes in from California about my dad, First Amendment defender Floyd Abrams, who has just released a book entitled “Speaking Freely” and he has been doing the rounds on TV.  I highly recommend you buying it. 

She writes, “I saw your father, Floyd Abrams, on Jon Stewart the other night.  I must say you‘ve not inherited his charm and humor.  He speaks with a soft tone and does not end his sentences with a question mark as you do.  Your voice is very whiney and very unbecoming.  I suggest you listen to your dad more carefully.  Also, you‘re very argumentative and you think you‘re always right.”

Well that‘s because I am always right.  I mean I am always right, he said with a whine and a question mark at the end of his sentence?  But you‘re right that I can learn lot from my dad and I do. 

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

“OH PLEAs!”—who would stiff a girl scout?  Apparently some people in Wisconsin took the Girl Scout slogan, “do a good turn daily”—I didn‘t realize that was the saying—to mean the Girl Scouts were offering free Girl Scout cookies, over $1,000 worth.  Counsel has filed small claims lawsuits against some monster cookies debts from $300 to $1,400 in Girl Scout cookie—who is buying $1,400 worth of Girl Scout cookies and not paying for them. 

The lawsuit was filed only after many attempts were made to collect the cash including phone calls and mailed letters.  The money owed is from sales made over the past two years.  Come on, $1,400 in Girl Scout cookies.  That‘s a lot of cookies. 

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

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.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,