updated 5/31/2005 7:35:36 AM ET 2005-05-31T11:35:36

Guest:  Susan Filan, Michael Cardoza, Jim Thomas, Clint Van Zandt, Matthew Moore, Mark Cammack, Ben Wolfinger

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up—the evidence is in.  Both sides rest in the Michael Jackson case and the jury should get the case next week. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  Jackson‘s lawyers surprise the court, resting without calling any more witnesses.  The last testimony jurors hear, Jackson‘s accuser on tape telling police how Jackson molested him. 

And a man wanted for murdering his girlfriend now in the third day of a standoff with police on top of a crane, more than 150 feet in the air. 

Plus, Indonesian courts sentences this woman to 20 years in prison for smuggling marijuana.  She says she was set up.  There are questions about whether she got a fair trial. 

The program about justice starts now. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket, that‘s it.  There will be no more witnesses or testimony in the Michael Jackson case.  It‘s over.  Both sides suddenly rests this afternoon right after jurors watched a tape that could be crucial to the case, a 2003 police interview of the accuser.  A total of three months of testimony from almost 140 witnesses.  The jury could get the case as early as Wednesday.  That‘s how close Michael Jackson is to learning his fate. 

NBC‘s Mike Taibbi was there when the announcement was made.  So, Mike, it‘s over.  Testimony‘s done. 

MIKE TAIBBI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Yes, it is.  I mean the sounds of 100 or so jaws dropping figuratively makes any sound at all, we heard that in the courtroom at precisely 1:15 in the afternoon.  We were heading to our regular break then when Tom Sneddon, the D.A., said we have no more evidence to present in our rebuttal case. 

Tom Mesereau who had promised, along with his co- counsel Bob Sanger, that they would have to call after that video was shown at least the accuser and his mother if not psychiatrist—Psychologist Stan Katz and Larry Feldman, the attorney representing the family for a time, stood up and said the defense rests. 

That‘s when all those jaws started dropping.  And Judge Melville told the jury you have now heard all the evidence you are going to hear in this case.  And we knew that at that point the testimony part and evidence part of this trial is over.  That still leaves, as we know, some vital parts...

ABRAMS:  Right.  Now the last...

TAIBBI:  ... questions, closing arguments, et cetera...

ABRAMS:  Right.  The last testimony to come in was this videotape and it‘s real important—this is the accuser himself on tape speaking to the police, telling them what happened.  And that‘s the final image these jurors are going to have in their minds? 

TAIBBI:  Yes.  To be precise about it, that wasn‘t the last testimony that came in.  It was the last evidence that came in and it was admitted by the judge only for the question of the child‘s demeanor in that interview, not for the truth of the assertions and there will be a very clear and careful instruction to the jury about that. 

Nothing the boy said was a surprise to this jury if they remember his testimony.  All the elements—they were looking at how he looked...

ABRAMS:  And that‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Let me read the judge‘s instruction on this.  It is only to observe the demeanor, manner, and attitude of the witness.  Statements are not to be considered for the truth of the matter.  Stated—you know, this is one of those typical instructions.  I‘m never sure if jurors quite understand what “not for the truth of the matter stated”.  It‘s a term that‘s often used in the law but you know it‘s not one that‘s that easy to get your hands around.

TAIBBI:  It‘s also not one of the more complicated ones and I think the judge will make it clear that if the boy says Michael Jackson did this to me, the fact that he says “Michael Jackson did this to me” cannot be measured by the jury...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.

TAIBBI:  ... for the truthfulness of whether or not Michael Jackson...

ABRAMS:  Yes, but...

TAIBBI:  ... for his demeanor. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, those instructions, though...

TAIBBI:  Well yes and no...

ABRAMS:  ... in one ear, out the other on something like this.  I mean look this is the kid.  This is the boy making the accusations.  To tell jurors close your ears effectively and only use your eyes, if the judge wanted to do that, he should have let them watch the video and not have any audio on that.  But...

TAIBBI:  Yes, except that people know what the word “demeanor” means...

ABRAMS:  Yes, I know, I know...

TAIBBI:  ... is he making eye contact?  Is he believable...

ABRAMS:  I know, I know, I know all of that, Mike.  But the bottom line—all right, Mike, stick around for a minute.  Because joining us now...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... from outside the courthouse, MSNBC legal analyst, former prosecutor Susan Filan, NBC News analyst, former Santa Barbara County Sheriff Jim Thomas was involved in the 1993 investigation, and criminal defense attorney Michael Cardoza joins us as well.  All right, let me—real quick, I assume, Susan, you agree with me that when these jurors watched that tape of the kid, the judge can tell them 1,000 times it‘s only for the demeanor, don‘t take it for the truth of the matter asserted, the bottom line is they‘re listening to what the kid‘s saying. 

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:   They‘re listening to what he‘s saying, they‘re watching how he‘s saying it, they‘re evaluating that as a crucial piece of evidence...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FILAN:  ... in this case.  They‘re going to get the limited instruction but they‘re going to do with it what they want. 

ABRAMS:  Right.  Michael, do you agree? 

MICHAEL CARDOZA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  I agree with you Dan.  I mean come on.  They have to, like you said, turn the volume down.  Now part of demeanor is you know how you say something.  You can say something nicely.  You can say it sarcastically, so they have to listen to that.  But it‘s like clanging a bell and telling the jury...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

CARDOZA:  ... don‘t listen to the bell...

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Exactly.

CARDOZA:  ... that‘s going on off right there. 

ABRAMS:  Right.

CARDOZA:  Come on, they‘re going to listen to it.  But I‘ll tell you what, with this tape, if you believe that this alleged victim was lying, the tape supports it.  If you believe he was telling the truth...

ABRAMS:  Really?

CARDOZA:  ... it supports that too.  Because you know everybody is describing it as he‘s hanging his head, you know he didn‘t look this way, and they‘re saying that‘s because he was molested.  Well, how about the interpretation that maybe some juror that thinks this kid is lying goes no, he‘s doing that...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

CARDOZA:  ... because he doesn‘t want to be telling this story and his mom is making him tell the story.

ABRAMS:  We‘re continuing our coverage of the jury getting the case next week.  The evidence is in, in the Michael Jackson case.  Susan Filan, do you agree—I mean in terms of the way that that testimony is going to be viewed by jurors that if you believed he was lying before you‘ll still believe he‘s lying and if you didn‘t believe he was lying...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... you won‘t? 

FILAN:  I absolutely agree...

ABRAMS:  So it wasn‘t make or break. 

FILAN:  What you said earlier, Dan, it‘s the...

ABRAMS:  No make or break.

FILAN:  ... you look at it.  It wasn‘t.  It wasn‘t.  And that‘s why I mean it was so great for the prosecution to end on this note.  They got their accuser back on the stand before this jury as their last witness, who could not be cross-examined.  But it was an even greater move by Mesereau to just leave it alone.  He‘s basically saying, hey, I‘m not going to dignify that with a response.  I‘m not going to get him back on the witness stand...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FILAN:  He‘s been so thoroughly assailed, impeached, attacked, don‘t bother...

ABRAMS:  Yes and...

FILAN:  ... he‘s lying. 

ABRAMS:  Michael...

FILAN:  Go ahead.

ABRAMS:  Michael, you weren‘t on the show last night.  But last night, we all talked about the fact that one of our guests used the term “legal suicide” for the defense to call the accuser back to cross-examine him about the tape...

CARDOZA:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... or to get the mother back.  The bottom line is, you know, as much as the defense was hemming and hawing about maybe calling them back, that was probably just a stunt, right?  They probably never actually planned on calling the boy and his mother back to the stand. 

CARDOZA:  Well remember, you‘re arguing to the judge—you know I‘ve done this.  What you‘re trying to do is say, look, Judge, if you let them play that tape, I‘m going to put 20...

ABRAMS:  Right.

CARDOZA:  ... other witnesses on.  I‘m going to delay this trial, so don‘t do that, judge. 

ABRAMS:  Right.

CARDOZA:  And you‘re trying to in a sense intimidate the judge into...

ABRAMS:  Right.

CARDOZA:  ... stretching the trial out.  So obviously it didn‘t work...

FILAN:  But this was not a judge...

CARDOZA:  Mesereau made...

FILAN:  ... who could be intimidated. 

CARDOZA:  No, he can‘t be, but you know judges...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.

CARDOZA:  ... don‘t like trials going on...

ABRAMS:  Yes, and this is...

CARDOZA:  I think Mesereau made a great choice here...

ABRAMS:  I agree. 

CARDOZA:  ... sit down and do it, because you know what it was like, Dan?  It‘s like having a fight—heavyweight championship fight over.  You‘re ahead on points, and then you go well, come on, let‘s you and I box another round and maybe you‘ll get a lucky punch in. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

CARDOZA:  (INAUDIBLE) I‘m not boxing around round with you guys.  If you think the mother is lying, the kid is lying, leave it be.

ABRAMS:  It‘s sort of like when you tried to convince us that Scott Peterson might actually take the witness stand in the Peterson trial...

CARDOZA:  Oh come on, Dan...

(LAUGHTER)

CARDOZA:  Come on, Dan...

ABRAMS:  I‘m just kidding...

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  I‘m just kidding.  All right, Mike Taibbi, you—Mike, you

were in court when this tape was played.  Do you agree with the assessment

·         and then I‘m going to go to Jim Thomas, -- but Mike, do you agree with the assessment that if you believe the kid was lying to start, you‘re going to still believe he‘s lying?  Bottom line is this final tape, this final opportunity to see this kid isn‘t going to change any minds? 

TAIBBI:  I think that‘s probably true, although there‘s one radio reporter who saw that tape and for him, it was a tipping point.  It was the tipping point that made him—convinced him absolutely that Michael Jackson is a child molester.  But I think there‘s one point to make about this. 

You talk about this being the last piece of evidence that the jury got to consider, the last piece of memorable testimony was one of the defense witnesses, Mary Holzer, the paralegal who basically said unchallenged by the prosecution in its rebuttal case, that this family and this kid on the point of that family lied.  They were grifters.  They practiced.  They rehearsed.  They had gone to acting school...

ABRAMS:  Right.

TAIBBI:  ... acting classes to learn how to lie, et cetera, et cetera.  So, those two lingering images, one, this piece of evidence, and, two, that piece of testimony what the jurors going to have heard and considered last before they get their instructions and go...

ABRAMS:  Jim Thomas, what do you make of that? 

FILAN:  Dan, Dan...

ABRAMS:  Hang on.  Hang on...

FILAN:  ... Dan, I just have to disagree...

ABRAMS:  Hang on Susan.  Hang on...

FILAN:  ... with Mike.  I have to disagree with Mike...

ABRAMS:  I know you do. 

FILAN:  I have to disagree with Mike.

ABRAMS:  I know you do, but hang on a second.  I‘ve got to get Jim Thomas in.  Jim, what do you make of what Mike...

FILAN:  You‘re killing me. 

JIM THOMAS, FORMER SANTA BARBARA COUNTY SHERIFF:  I‘m sorry, Dan.  I couldn‘t hear you. 

ABRAMS:  You couldn‘t hear me.  You should be yelling at Susan, not at me.  All right, so the question was Mike Taibbi is saying that there are these two images, it‘s not just the image of the boy, it‘s also this image of this very powerful defense witness that these jurors are going to be finishing here with.  Do you think the prosecution finished on a strong note? 

THOMAS:  Oh I think—well in fact I know the prosecution is absolutely ecstatic the way it ended.  What better way than to have your accuser tell his story right before a long weekend.  And I would say that the people who may not have made up their mind yet and then saw this tape probably believes this boy.  I‘ve watched him in testimony.  I‘ve watched him in four different tapes.  I can tell you he‘s not that great an actor.  And when I watched this tape today from my experience, he looked like it was something that had to be drawn from him and something that was believable. 

ABRAMS:  (INAUDIBLE) well all right, we shall see.  We shall see.  I don‘t know. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Dan.

ABRAMS:  Let me take a quick break.  Everyone is going to stick around.  We‘ve got more on the—the evidence is in.  The Jackson case is essentially over, although the closing arguments are still to come.  We‘ll talk about that.

And the standoff between a murder suspect on a crane in Atlanta and police enters its third day.  The guy‘s been up there since Wednesday.  He‘s got no food.  He‘s got no sleep.  He‘s wanted for killing his ex-girlfriend in Florida.

Plus new information gives authorities in Idaho hope this brother and sister are still alive.  They‘ve been missing since their mother and brother were murdered.

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)

ABRAMS:  The closing arguments in the Michael Jackson case are now set for Wednesday.  The evidence is in.  The jury will get the case next week.  This is hard to even believe what I‘m about to say.  We may get a verdict in the Michael Jackson case as early as next week.  I don‘t think we will, but we could. 

All right.  So, the question is closing arguments, now.  The final opportunity for each side, defense, prosecution.  I‘ll tell you very quickly what I think.  The prosecution has got to focus these jurors on the pattern.  The big picture.  Don‘t have them look just at this boy, this allegation, prosecutors want it to be looking at everything that‘s happened over the years, that this was Michael Jackson‘s M.O. 

The defense, on the other hand, wants to focus on mama, the mama of the accuser saying she‘s the center of all this, that she coached the boy, that she‘s responsible.  All right.  So, in addition to that, Susan Filan as the prosecutor, what do you have to tell these jurors? 

FILAN:  Dan, I can‘t do better than that.  You hit the nail on the head.  They absolutely have to now see Michael Jackson through their eyes, which is a serial pedophile who‘s been getting away with murder for years by basically buying off little boys.  They have to disabuse the jury of this motion that he‘s an easy mark, he‘s a soft-hearted celebrity who people can take advantage of and in the past he‘s just written a check so he didn‘t have to go through the hassle of a trial and this time he‘s going to stand up for himself.  They have to get them—the jury off the defense‘s version of this case...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

FILAN:  ... and the problem is the defense‘s version of this case was

·         their evidence was actually consistent with their theory. 

ABRAMS:  Right.

FILAN:  The prosecution‘s evidence at times was inconsistent with their theory. 

ABRAMS:  Michael Cardoza, if you‘re the defense, most important issue is what? 

CARDOZA:  Well I‘ll tell you what and I‘ve said this right from the get-go in this case, you‘ve got that 1108, that—those prior acts in this case.  You‘ve got to know there‘s going to be some juror or jurors on this panel that‘s going to go, you know, I believe one or two of those.  I think Michael Jackson is a pedophile, because he‘s a pedophile, I don‘t care if they prove this one beyond a reasonable doubt, I‘m going to find him—jury. 

So, what the D.A. will do is just as you say, they will focus on the pattern and practice.  The defense has to cull those five out and say, you know, it‘s like committing five bank robberies.  Just because he did five doesn‘t mean he did this sixth. 

Now let‘s look at the sixth one.  Let‘s take a look at the mother...

ABRAMS:  Right.

CARDOZA:  Let‘s take a look...

ABRAMS:  Right.

CARDOZA:  ... at the alleged victim, just look at that alone.  You can‘t convict him because you believe that he may have done it before. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

CARDOZA:  And you know one thing, Dan, that‘s been bothering me through this whole trial...

ABRAMS:  Quickly.  Yes. 

CARDOZA:  Why don‘t they prosecute the mothers?  I know there‘s a statute of limitations, but if mothers, if you really believe that Jackson did this, then why don‘t they start going after the mothers that put these kids in this situation? 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

CARDOZA:  Prosecute them and it‘ll stop this type of activity. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, look—I mean look, there‘s no question that mom—but you know she would say look, she didn‘t know what was happening at the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Baloney. 

ABRAMS:  Very quickly, Jim Thomas, are they going to have security—enough security at the courthouse?

THOMAS:  Yes, they‘re pretty well prepared.  They‘re going to have a big crowd here starting Tuesday, because we think the fans are going to get large.  And of course, as we know, there‘s going to be a large media contingent coming in.  So, it will be back to the way it was probably during arraignment and it‘ll be well cared for. 

ABRAMS:  Yes and then the Mike Taibbi fan club, they‘re going to have to keep them out as well.  All right...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Jim...

THOMAS:  Yes, we assigned one guy to that. 

ABRAMS:  Yes...

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  All right.  Jim Thomas, Mike Taibbi, Michael Cardoza, Susan Filan, thanks a lot. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  I‘ll see you out there next week. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right, see you out there. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  See you Dan...

ABRAMS:  Now to a dangerous standoff in Atlanta going into its third day.  A murder suspect climbed up a 25-story crane at a construction site Wednesday and is still there.  It‘s a live picture.  He‘s got no food, no water, police have been trying to coax him down. 

NBC‘s Kerry Sanders is live on the scene.  He joins us now.  So Kerry, any progress? 

KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  No, very little progress.  In fact, you‘d think that things have got—would have gotten a lot further along at this point.  There is still no communication of significance between the negotiators and the suspect.  Take a look way up there, so you can get a real idea of how far it is up there. 

The suspect, Carl Roland, right now as you can see, is just sort of laying in the grate of this crane.  He‘s been all over the crane.  Now let me just sort of show you where the police are.  The police are a little bit further down and they‘ve set up their headquarters right back there where the crane operator sits.  At this point, they say they‘re just going to wait him out. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SANDERS (voice-over):  He‘s been perched on the construction crane since Wednesday afternoon.  Forty-one-year-old Carl Edward Roland from Florida, a suspect in the beating and strangulation murder of his girlfriend.  The 6‘2”, 240-pound unemployed software salesman recently declared bankruptcy.  Among his debts, $10,500 to the IRS.  Roland made his way to the top 350 feet over the city after threatening the crane operator with a knife, reportedly saying...

CHIEF RICHARD PENNINGTON, ATLANTA POLICE:  He had already hurt someone and he encouraged him to get out of his way. 

SANDERS:  The standoff, 25 stories up, forced police to close roads and nearby businesses while motorists and residents two blocks away strain their necks. 

LAUREN CAIMANA, ONLOOKER:  It‘s scary, but you can‘t help but look. 

JENNIFER O‘CONNELL, ONLOOKER:  I think it‘s just a morbid fascination.  It‘s the ultimate reality show.  Nobody knows how this is going to turn out. 

SANDERS:  On local radio, talk-show hosts like Neal Boortz are treating the event like a circus. 

VOICE OF NEAL BOORTZ, WSB RADIO, ATLANTA:  ... we‘re going to stop this nonsense, get a helicopter up there, and hose down that entire boom with grease.

SANDERS:  Since Wednesday, Roland has spent his time shimmying along the crane‘s arm, lying down, perhaps for brief catnaps, toying with the crane‘s cables and at night, facing down powerful lights.  Police negotiators have blasted the area with irritating sirens, swept in with a noisy helicopter, banged the crane with a pole.  Roland has refused offers of food and water and a cell phone.  Roland‘s sister, Tawana, who shows these pictures of happier times, was escorted away by police for interfering in negotiations. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They haven‘t did anything yet.  Why don‘t they try another solution?  They couldn‘t get him.  So, now it‘s time for family...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SANDERS:  So, we‘re looking now at a live picture as he‘s still laying there, on the grate of the crane.  No food, no water.  Temperatures in the mid 80‘s today, Dan.  He‘s got to be giving out at this point and that‘s probably why he‘s lying there, maybe even asleep.  The hard part here for the authorities is do they go out and creep out on that crane to see if maybe he‘s asleep or by going out there, do they encourage him to do what he‘s seemingly been threatening to do all along and that is to jump to his death?  And they certainly don‘t want to encourage him to do that. 

ABRAMS:  Yes...

SANDERS:  Dan...

ABRAMS:  ... what do they do?  All right, Kerry, thanks very much. 

Who better to know this than former FBI hostage negotiator Clint Van Zandt. 

All right, Clint, what do you do? 

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR:  Hey, Dan.  Well one of the things is you keep talking to the guy, even though he‘s not talking back to you, even though you just have a one-way dialogue, that‘s all right, because he hears you.  You know you develop a theme and I know this is tough for you and I to deal with, but, hey, you know you haven‘t done anything that wrong, my friend. 

Well, you and I know he‘s accused of brutally murdering his girlfriend, but we find people in a situation like this, they don‘t want to think bad of themselves.  They want to think they can get out.  They want to hope for tomorrow.  So that‘s what the negotiator is there. 

You keep—a hostage negotiator, Dan, is a fisherman.  You‘ve got multiple lures in your tackle box.  They‘re psychological lures.  If the first one doesn‘t work, you go to the second one, but you keep...

ABRAMS:  Clint...

VAN ZANDT:  ... you keep talking. 

ABRAMS:  Clint, even you‘ve been surprised that he hasn‘t come down yet.  You expected him to be down yesterday, right?

VAN ZANDT:  Well no, but I expected him to be down today absolutely and where I‘m surprised is that if I was a negotiator, I‘d be saying hey, brother, you know now is the time.  It‘s still light out.  You know this is the time.  You can make your case at a public—Dan Abrams is watching you right now, so come on down.  You can talk on his show live. 

I would offer this guy whatever he wants.  And the flip side is, if you don‘t do it now, it‘s going to get dark.  It‘s going to get cold.  You‘ve got another eight, 10, 12 hours and you don‘t want to come down at dark where nobody can see you.  You know you‘ve made a case.  This is time the time to tell the world what‘s going on.  But he‘s not listening to these things, so what I‘m surprised at...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

VAN ZANDT:  ... is he‘s going on this much longer.  He‘s looking for you know something in Guinness book I guess.

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know if he‘d be so happy with what I‘d have to say to him, but Clint, this is one of the—this is the police talking about what happens when he falls asleep. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENNINGTON:  When he falls asleep, we sound the siren to wake him up.  And that‘s—the noise that you hear is the siren noise that will wake him up when he dozes off. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  So Clint, what do you make of that?  Good move?

VAN ZANDT:  Well they‘re doing two things, Dan.  Number one, they don‘t want the guy to roll over and fall off this thing when he‘s sound asleep, so you know that‘s the positive aspect for him.  The other side is they want to exhaust him.  They want to wear him out.  They want him to be so tired where he says, hey, I just can‘t take it anymore. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.

VAN ZANDT:  Come on, get me down. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  Clint Van Zandt is going to stick around and—for another segment, but we‘ll keep an eye—if anything happens in the next hour, obviously we‘ll bring it right to you...

VAN ZANDT:  Yes.

ABRAMS:  ... give you an update. 

All right.  She says she was set up on a flight to Bali.  An Indonesian court rules this woman was smuggling marijuana into the country.  Sentences her to 20 years in prison.  But the prosecutors are appealing, hoping she‘ll get a stiffer sentence.  Did she get a fair trial? 

And nearly two weeks after they disappeared, Idaho authorities say new information gives them hope that a brother and sister are still alive.  We‘ll talk with one of the lead investigators.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up—she headed to Bali for some fun in the sun. 

Today she was sentenced to 20 years in prison there.  First the news.

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  A 27-year-old woman is facing a 20-year prison sentence in an Indonesian prison after she was found with marijuana in her bag.  As tough as that sounds, Schapelle Corby‘s sentence might have been a lot worse and still could be.  Try life in prison or even a firing squad.  Corby was tried and found guilty by an Indonesian court and while she plans to appeal, so does the prosecution. 

ITV‘s John Irvine has the story. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN IRVINE, ITV NEWS REPORTER (voice-over):  There was chaos as Schapelle Corby was bundled into the Bali courtroom to learn her fate, which was broadcast live in Australia, where people have been gripped by this case.  She‘s there (INAUDIBLE).  The 27-year-old beautician looked shocked and tense.  She struggled to regain her composure as the verdict was being read out by a judge who has never acquitted in 500 drug trials. 

The defense had argued that the nine pounds of marijuana were planted in her surfboard bag by baggage handlers at Sydney airport.  But this was rejected by the court, which handed down 20 years for drug smuggling to the bewildered young Australian.  It took a while for it to sink in, but as the truth dawned, there were emotional scenes. 

(CROSSTALK)

IRVINE:  Her family in the gallery voiced their outrage. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE) liar and it‘s one of your people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE)

IRVINE:  Eventually, Schapelle Corby was able to hug her mother, Rose, and they tried to reassure one another. 

(CROSSTALK)

IRVINE:  Outside, friends appealed to the Indonesian president to intervene. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All Australia asks is that you give Schapelle back to us.  Schapelle (INAUDIBLE).  Schapelle is innocent!

(CHEERING)

IRVINE:  Before the verdict, Rose Corby had promised she‘d be bringing Schapelle home, but that wasn‘t to be, and she herself was forcibly removed from the court as her daughter began the return journey to jail.  She‘ll be appealing, but so, too, will the prosecution who regard the 20-year sentence is too light. 

John Irvine, ITV News.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Wow.  Matthew Moore is a correspondent for Australia‘s “Sydney Morning Herald”, has been covering the case, and was in court when the sentence was read.  He joins us by phone.  And Mark Cammack is a international law professor at Southwestern University.  He‘s lived in Indonesia, knows the country‘s laws and legal system very well.  Thanks to both of you for coming on the program.

All right.  Matthew Moore, let me start with you.  You were there when the sentence was read.  Was this a surprising sentence or was this generally in the range that most people expected? 

MATTHEW MOORE, COVERED TRIAL IN BALI, INDONESIA (via phone):  I think if anything it was probably a bit lighter than most people who are familiar with these sorts of cases expected.  But nevertheless, it was, you know, it was a dreadful, anguished moment as you‘ve just seen. 

ABRAMS:  What is her family‘s best hope now or what are they saying that they hope happens now?  Diplomacy? 

MOORE:  Yes, I think that‘s been their tactic all along.  They have tried from the outset to make this case a national issue in Australia and they have been spectacularly successful with everyone commenting on it, almost on a daily basis now from the prime minister down.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Professor, as a legal matter, both sides are appealing.  Can‘t do that here in the U.S.  Prosecutors can‘t appeal here in the U.S.  The prosecutor said—and this is number five here—not enough with regard to the 20-year sentence.  We should not tolerate people dealing with narcotics, and we have to take stern action. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Cammack.

ABRAMS:  It‘s fair if it‘s a life sentence, so we will definitely appeal.  Why are prosecutors also allowed to appeal there?

MARK CAMMACK, INTERNATIONAL LAW PROFESSOR:  Well, in Indonesia, as in fact in many countries around the world, both sides in a criminal case have right to appeal.  And in this case, of course, the prosecution will not be appealing the verdict, since they won a guilty verdict, but they are going to appeal apparently requesting the higher court to impose a higher sentence. 

ABRAMS:  Based on what you know about the Indonesians, do you expect them to be able to cut some deal with the Australians?  There‘s been some discussion that maybe she could serve much of her sentence in Australia.  Do you expect some sort of deal to be made? 

CAMMACK:  That‘s hard to say.  There‘s been some discussion about the possibility of Australia and Indonesia entering into an agreement whereby prisoners from each country would be allowed to serve their prison terms in prisons in their home country.  There is no such agreement at the moment.  Even were such an agreement to be entered into, from what I‘ve read, she may have to serve a portion of her sentence...

ABRAMS:  Right.

CAMMACK:  ... in Indonesia before actually being sent back...

ABRAMS:  All right, here‘s the problem with what happened in this case.  There was a lot of evidence that was not allowed or not taken in this case.  Let me lay it out.  Her brother and two friends traveling with her swore there was no marijuana in her surfboard bag when she packed it.  An Australian prisoner claimed other inmates said a third person owned the drugs and that Corby had been used as a mule.  He refused to give names, saying he was concerned he‘d be killed.

An Australian baggage handler testified on airport corruption supporting Corby‘s claim someone could have put the drugs in her bag.  Indonesian police failed to take fingerprints from the vacuum-sealed bags holding the drugs.

All right.  So Matthew Moore, what was the—what do you think the most legitimate gripe that her family has about how this trial was conducted?

MOORE:  I think fingerprints is the only legitimate gripe.  The stories about baggage handlers are based on nothing more than their own personal theory.  They‘ve produced no evidence for that at all.  But the failure to fingerprint is in the view of many people, including me, a serious omission. 

ABRAMS:  Did they introduce evidence about the baggage handlers or were they not allowed to?

MOORE:  The only real evidence they produced was a letter from the Australian government at the end, which pointed to the fact that baggage handlers had been involved in another separate drug smuggling case in Australia where they were paid $300,000, allegedly, to help import cocaine into Australia.  But the amazing coincidence was that these baggage handlers who had been caught were at Sydney airport working for the same airline (INAUDIBLE) on the very day that Schapelle Corby flew out from Sydney Airport to Denpasar and I think the Australian public feel, well, if they‘re involved in one scam, they could have been involved in another. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Matthew Moore and Professor Mark Cammack, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  And we‘ll keep following this case. 

CAMMACK:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, new developments in Idaho, where two children disappeared almost two weeks ago after their mother and brother were beaten to death.  Authorities now believe the children very well could be alive.  We‘ll talk to the police up next. 

And new disturbing details about the murder and rape of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford.  Raises new questions about whether the people living with her accused killer should also be charged.  I say yes in my “Closing Argument”.

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:  Coming up, new hope for investigators trying to track down two missing Idaho children who have been missing for almost two weeks.  Signs that the two could be alive.  We‘ll ask the police, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  In Idaho, authorities now have hope that Shasta and Dylan Groene are still alive.  DNA tests of blood found at the home where their brother, mother, and her boyfriend were brutally murdered did not match the blood of Dylan or Shasta.  The two have been missing for almost two weeks.  They were last seen at a party at their Coeur d‘Alene house on Sunday, May 15. 

On the 16th, police responded to a call from a neighbor saying the house was unusually quiet.  It was then police discovered Slade Groene, Brenda Groene, Mark McKenzie bound and dead.  Nine-year-old Dylan and his 8-year-old sister Shasta missing.

Joining me once again, Captain Ben Wolfinger with the Kootenai County Sheriff‘s Office, who joins us on the phone and MSNBC analyst, former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt.  All right.  Captain, you know, as much as you can say that there‘s something that‘s good news when it comes to a bloody crime scene, I guess this is sort of good news. 

CAPT. BEN WOLFINGER, KOOTENAI CTY., ID SHERIFF‘S DEPT. (via phone):  Well, it is.  It‘s encouraging for the investigators and the volunteers working this case.  There was no blood found from the children, which helps reaffirm that thought that the children weren‘t harmed there and they were taken from the scene. 

ABRAMS:  Was this—was all the blood recovered tested or was this just preliminary? 

WOLFINGER:  This is just preliminary.  All the blood was recovered, but it hasn‘t all been tested yet.  But this is a preliminary test back and that‘s certainly encouraging for everyone.

ABRAMS:  Does this lead you in one direction or another with regard to whether the children knew the person who abducted them? 

WOLFINGER:  No, you know it really doesn‘t determine whether or not the children knew the person, but they were taken away from the residence.  But it does give us that encouragement that they weren‘t harmed there at all. 

ABRAMS:  We just put up the tip line again in case anyone has any information.  Those are the numbers to call.  Any—have you gotten any good tips? 

WOLFINGER:  Yes, we‘ve gotten a lot of tips.  Some good and some not so good.  About 1,30 tips total and we‘re diligently backtracking all of those and seeing where they lead.  Unfortunately, that takes a lot of time and a lot of manpower. 

ABRAMS:  Captain, if you can stand by for a minute.  Clint, what do you make of this? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, number one, I think the Sheriff‘s Department and FBI, they‘re working this—they‘re working the heck out of this case.  It‘s a joint task force.  They‘ve got the best of the best working.  I know my former colleagues are on the ground there, the sheriff‘s office, the state police...

ABRAMS:  So what do you make of the evidence, Clint?

VAN ZANDT:  The evidence to me still, you know as an outsider looking in, the captain knows better than I, but as an outsider looking in, it looks like one or two offenders.  I mean to me, I think there‘s a good chance they probably knew the family.  They may have come in.  There may have been some vendetta.  They may have been wanted to rob, get money, something like this.

But somebody came in, they took the time to bind these victims up, then they took the time to bludgeon them to death.  Of course, the question is going to be, number one, it‘s good we didn‘t find the children‘s blood there.  And number two, might we find one or more offenders‘ blood?  You know this must have been a bloodbath if these people were beat to death. 

So, this is one of the things the forensic people will be looking for too.  Any hairs, fibers, blood, anything else that could link these—this horrific offense to the killers, number one.  And number two, who‘s got these kids, Dan, and why? 

ABRAMS:  Captain, what‘s the latest with the father?  And I only ask that because the father himself went public saying that he was told he failed a portion of a lie-detector test.  He said he felt it was normal that they viewed him as a possible suspect.  Is he still fully cooperating in the investigation? 

WOLFINGER:  He is.  He‘s been very cooperative.  And you have to understand that a polygraph is nothing more than just an investigative tool.  It‘s not the final say.  Investigators have no evidence to implicate the father, Steve Groene, as a suspect or even a person of interest at this time.  So (INAUDIBLE).

ABRAMS:  Any other people who you consider people of interest right now? 

WOLFINGER:  Well, not at this point.  They haven‘t identified at least to me and the media any other persons of interest.  I know the investigators are working every possible angle of this case, and as I said earlier, with nearly 70 investigators are working this case right now and another (INAUDIBLE).  There‘s no stone being left unturned, that‘s for sure.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Captain, thanks very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.  Again, if you have any information on the whereabouts of Shasta and Dylan Groene, please call the captain over at the Kootenai County Sheriff‘s Department.  There‘s the tip line number, 208-446-2292 or 2293.

Now an update on that murder suspect who‘s in a dangerous standoff with police in Atlanta.  He is up on that crane, 25 stories high, suspected of strangling, murdering his girlfriend.  He climbed up there on Wednesday.  He‘s been there ever since with no food or water. 

Clint, we‘re looking at that shot again.  You still believe he‘s going to be down before the daylight fades? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, I‘m running out of daylight, Dan, but you know it‘s the old saying.  He‘s got to do something or get off the crane.  And he‘s going to have to make his choices pretty soon.  Otherwise, we‘re in nighttime.  It‘s going to get cold again. 

I mean you know this guy is setting a record for crane sitting, but eventually the choice is going to be his.  He‘s going to have to make a decision.  And I think it‘s positive, just like in the last case you looked at, where it‘s positive we didn‘t find the blood of those two missing children, I think it‘s positive for two days this guy hasn‘t done anything to hurt himself yet.  It‘s just to give the negotiators time, give this guy an avenue to come down and hopefully, he‘ll do it. 

ABRAMS:  Clint, thanks a lot for helping us with all these various stories. 

VAN ZANDT:  Thanks Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, new details about the rape and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford.  It raises more questions about who should be charged in connection with the little girl‘s death.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—the more we learn about the case of little Jessica Lunsford, the more disgusting and frustrating it becomes.  Up to this point, we knew 9-year-old Jessica had been kidnapped, raped and eventually buried alive with  her stuffed dolphin in her arms.  Her alleged killer, John Couey, confessed and we knew that two of his relatives were questioned about Jessica while Couey was in the home. 

An additional 1,400 pages of information were released yesterday in Florida generating new questions about whether Couey‘s sister, her boyfriend, and his niece, with whom he was living, should also be held accountable for Jessica‘s death.  According to the new documents, which include police interviews with Couey‘s housemates, after killing Jessica, Couey told his niece that he‘d kept Jessica alive and hidden in his bedroom in his sister‘s home for at least three days before he finally buried her alive. 

She said nothing about it.  Couey‘s sister and her boyfriend were also living in the house and doing drugs with Couey at the time apparently.  They all knew Jessica was missing.  The Lunsford house was less than 100 yards away and the neighborhood was swarming with police.  The police questioned Couey‘s housemates twice during the search for Jessica.

It now seems clear Jessica was alive hidden in the house while the police were there looking for her.  How could three people be living in a mobile home together for three days without knowing a little girl was being kept prisoner there?  Couey‘s housemates claim they never heard anything and that Couey kept his bedroom door closed.  But the new documents reveal that Couey told police his sister‘s boyfriend actually came into his room while Jessica was hidden in his closet.  The boyfriend even sat on his bed, Couey said, the same bed where police later found Jessica‘s blood. 

Couey told police his sister‘s boyfriend was so high that it‘s possible he didn‘t notice anything.  Well I don‘t buy it.  Police initially arrested Couey‘s housemates, charged them with resisting or obstructing an officer.  Both Couey‘s sister and her boyfriend failed to tell police that Couey, a sex offender, who they knew had violated parole, was staying there.  Now prosecutors quickly decided they could not pursue any charges. 

Quote—“Florida does not have a statute which makes it a crime to lie to a police officer in all situations nor is there a law which requires a person to disclose the whereabouts of a registered sex offender.”  Fair enough.  That was the law, which has since been changed.  But that was the law.  Unfortunately, without any evidence that they knew she was there, they couldn‘t prosecute in Florida.  Those who demanded prosecution just based on that fact, the fact that they lied about having a sex offender in the house, were right in spirit, wrong on the law. 

But this new information, I believe changes everything.  There is now a legitimate case to be made for obstruction of justice or even accessory to a crime.  If those three were living in a mobile home with Couey and Jessica for three days, there is an argument they must have known that she was there.  That‘s a crime, a serious and despicable one.  It‘s time to put these lowlifes away. 

All right, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Amongst the hundreds of e-mails we received today, was one particularly disturbing one from attorney Sandra Schiff about one of our frequent guests, Robert S. Dunn. 

“Please acknowledge the untimely passing of our dear friend and member of the New York Bar at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, following a massive heart attack.  His friends and family would appreciate a few words.  We will miss him.”

On Tuesday morning, Robert Dunn died.  This note was the first time we learned of it.  Today would have been his 50th birthday.  He even appeared on this show last Thursday.  I‘ve known Robert for about 10 years.  We were guests together on “Rivera Live” on CNBC.  After not seeing him for a while a few years ago, a relative of mine, a federal prosecutor who had just argued a case against him said to me why don‘t you use Robert Dunn on your show more? 

He‘s really a great lawyer.  I‘d always felt that same way about Robert, but to get that kind of recommendation from a tough opponent spoke volumes to me.  In the past few years, he has been one of our regular and favorite guests.  He and I would often be at odds on the issues, but there were few who were able to argue off an unpopular positions with the grace and fervor of Robert Dunn.

He cared a lot more about defending the rights of those less fortunate than he did about whether that position was popular at the time.  He knew when to concede a point and when to go on the attack.  That judgment made him one of the best-known and best-respected lawyers in New York.  He‘ll be missed by a lot of people, including everyone here at the program. 

We‘ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  “OH PLEAs!”—have you ever heard of putting on an illegal face?  Well apparently one man in Wheeling, West Virginia has one and he was arrested for it.  Forty-two-year-old Norman Gray was walking through town Tuesday morning with a grimace on his face.  Some officers passed by and told Gray to remove the scowl in his face forever.  You see Gray was wearing a Grinch mask.

When he asked why he couldn‘t wear the mask, the officers informed him it‘s illegal.  Apparently donning a mask or a hood in public is against state law, carrying a fine of up to $500 or a year in jail.  Only children under 16 are permitted to wear masks.  Gray tossed the mask back on.  The police added an accessory to his costume, handcuffs.  They arrested Gray, confiscated the mask, proving that maxim that tricks are for kids.

(INAUDIBLE) I sound like Chris Matthews there.  (INAUDIBLE) That does it for us tonight.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with our friend Chris Matthews. 

We will be in Santa Maria at the Michael Jackson case starting next week for the coverage on the program about justice.  And e-mail us if you have a question.  Because we‘re going to probably end up doing a lot of segments with your questions about the case, so make sure you join us next week. 

Thanks for watching.  Have a great Memorial Day weekend.  Be safe. 

See you Monday.

END

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