updated 6/9/2005 2:23:18 PM ET 2005-06-09T18:23:18

Guest:  Reverend Jesse Jackson, Geoffrey Fieger, John Burris, Vivian Vanderbiezen, Carla Caccavale, Lemuel Martinez

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up live from Santa Maria, jurors have just wrapped up their first full day of deliberations in the Michael Jackson case. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  The question everyone is asking, how is Jackson holding up?  After all, he has been to the hospital five times now.  And we‘re going to visit the jail he‘d call home. 

And two men charged in connection with an American teenage girl who disappeared in Aruba a week ago, thousands of tourists joining authorities searching for her. 

Plus, just when you thought you‘d heard everything about runaway bride, Jennifer Wilbanks, we‘ve got the tape of her telling tall tales to the FBI about being abducted. 

The program about justice starts now. 


ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket tonight, live at the Santa Maria courthouse where the first full day of deliberations in the Michael Jackson case is over.  Shocker—no verdict.  There was some drama outside of the courthouse today and at the hospital yesterday when Jackson paid another visit.  We will get to that. 

But first, as far as we know deliberations started on schedule.  Less than an hour and a half later the jury sent out a question to the judge, and then returned to deliberate.  But about that same time, Michael Jackson‘s father, Joe Jackson, came unexpectedly to the courthouse without Jackson or any bodyguards and made his way threw throngs of media and screaming fans into the courthouse only to be seen leaving a short time later. 

Michael‘s brother, Randy, was there as well.  These sightings sent the media and court watchers scrambling saying oh, is this a verdict, is this is a verdict, is this a verdict—it wasn‘t a verdict.  But today many were watching the hospital as closely as they were the courthouse.  Jackson left yesterday after complaining of more back problems, which have plagued him throughout the case. 

So joining me now is Michael Jackson‘s spiritual advisor, the Reverend Jesse Jackson who visited with Jackson last night and has been in regular contact with him throughout this case.  Reverend, thanks for coming back on the program.  We appreciate it. 

REV. JESSE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON‘S SPIRITUAL ADVISOR:  How do you do?  You know the scene that you just described...


JACKSON:  ... it shows the impact of this kind of dual trial, kind of courtroom and newsroom, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) kind of two trials at one time and it‘s kind of what you saw earlier today.

ABRAMS:  Well let me ask you about that.  Let‘s get this right out of the way.  Because as you know, some people are saying oh, you know, these hospital visits, they all come at opportune times.  You‘ve got one during jury selection, one when the accuser testifies, the closing arguments, now during the jury deliberations.  What is your response to those cynics who are saying, you know, maybe this is just a show? 

JACKSON:  Michael is in writhing pain, excruciating pain.  Michael had a rather severe back injury, and then a slip and a fall in the shower, and he has these periodic back spasms.  So it is a physical issue, the extent to which stress is a factor no doubt plays into it.  But Michael has been in pain. 

Matter of fact, when I met with him at his home last night he was grimacing as he talked.  But just as he is in physical pain his spirits are strong and his mind is clear.  He knows the gravity of the situation he is now facing and he‘s doing it with amazing strength. 

ABRAMS:  He has got to be scared.  I mean the bottom line is no matter how confident he is in his case, no matter how confident you are in his case, the bottom line is his life is on the line.  The jury is deliberating his fate.  In the next few days he could be put in cuffs and hauled away.  Is he nervous? 

JACKSON:  Well no doubt he is.  He is in the jaws of the jury.  And yet it is when your fate is in the hands of the jury, your faith must be in God and your faith must be in yourself.  That is all you have to cover this blank—this vacuum of space between now and the jury‘s deliberation.  Michael in the most private moments declares his innocence.  He believes in this jury, believes if reasonable doubt is the standard that he in fact will be acquitted and he‘s focusing far more on the hope and acquittal than he is on fear. 

ABRAMS:  You said that Michael slipped and fell in the shower.  Did that fall specifically lead to one of his hospital visits?

JACKSON:  No.  He already had fallen and then—you know if your back is out of place, you are walking in some sense in an awkward way, so he slipped and fell, which complicated that particular injury that he had.  If you have a back injury, spasms are you know automatic. 

You know it‘s interesting to me that the context of this, Dan, is that back—I suppose November 3, November in 2003, the sheriff invaded Michael‘s home with 75 armed deputies and ransacked his home and tore up the furniture and art work and personal items, came out and had on his property a press conference, sharing items with the press and the courts that in fact put this on a two-track trial, newsroom and courtroom.  So in the face of this...


JACKSON:  ... kind of double trial, he is facing a lot of pressure and somehow he has not wilted in the face of the pressure.

ABRAMS:  But you know, of course look, regardless of whether the sheriffs held a press conference or didn‘t hold a press conference, as you pointed out, Michael Jackson is—if not the most famous entertainer in the world, certainly one of them, and as a result, you know, this case was going to be covered by the media, right? 

JACKSON:  Yes, but I think that even though that is the case, one deserves dignity and due process.  And for the sheriff to go into anyone‘s private home and take out properties, share them with the media and share them with the court system is a bit...


JACKSON:  ... is a bit unusual.  It is beyond the sense of justice.  And even after he did that, it took the D.A., you know some time even to come up with charges.  That was...

ABRAMS:  Right.

JACKSON:  ... that was extraordinary and that was different...

ABRAMS:  Right...

JACKSON:  ... and that it seems to be unfair. 

ABRAMS:  But as you know, it‘s a little bit late for that.  I mean look, the bottom line is either he molested this child or he didn‘t molest this child and that‘s what the jury is considering.  Whether the sheriffs could have done things differently at the outset to me seems like past history at this point. 

JACKSON:  Well I think, Dan, though that—text out of the context is the pretext.  Now there is a context here that created all of this furor about this and at the end of the day if this jury are listening to the accusations on the one hand and then on the cross-examination watching them wilt under pressure on the cross-examination and then with a decided money trail, it should be have an impact upon their final judgment. 

Michael declares himself to be innocent.  And of course, until proven guilty he remains innocent and in my judgment should be acquainted.  I talked with Michael...


JACKSON:  ... his lawyer, but as his—as a spiritual counselor, saying to him, Michael, when your back is against the wall you have to lean upon in some sense David‘s testimony.  Yea though I walk through valleys and shadow of death, I fear no evil because there art with me.  There‘s that sense of vow, the sense of faith in God that must see him through this stage of his struggle. 

ABRAMS:  Fair enough.  Fair enough.  This is—look, this has got to be a tough time for him regardless and I‘m sure it is reassuring...

JACKSON:  It is.

ABRAMS:  ... to have the Reverend Jackson on his side.  Reverend Jackson thanks for coming back on the program.  Appreciate it.

JACKSON:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  As I said before, Jackson‘s health has been an issue throughout this case.  And so the question—could his deteriorating appearance and regular hospital visits have an effect on the jury?  He looked pretty good on the day of opening statements, but more than three months and five hospital visits later, he is looking more frail.  That‘s him on Friday.  Before the jury was even seated in the case, Jackson was admitted to the hospital for flu-like systems.  That delayed jury selection for a number of days. 

When the accuser was scheduled to testify, Jackson was seen at the hospital again, showing up late for court, sitting through an entire day of testimony in his pajamas.  And just 11 days later late again after his third hospital visit.  This time his doctor wearing scrubs in tow met with the judge in chambers before testimony resumed. 

Then just this week, two more hospital visits.  The jurors are not supposed to be watching or reading anything about the case, but come on maybe—could this help or hurt?  Joining me now is criminal defense attorney Geoffrey Fieger and criminal defense attorney John Burris. 

Gentlemen—Geoffrey, what do you make of it?  Help or hurt?  Neither one? 

GEOFFREY FIEGER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Neither one.  Listen, his appearance, Dan, is to bizarre to begin with that if the jury can get over that appearance, a black man who‘s had so much plastic surgery—he looks like a white woman with that wig that he wears—if they can get over—and the costumes that he wears with the arm bands and the metals that he has adorned himself with—if they get over that appearance, whether or not he appears sick or sicker or he‘s gone to the hospital or not isn‘t going to affect their judgment at all.  I mean seriously.

ABRAMS:  John, I agree...


ABRAMS:  ... with Geoffrey on that.  Do you agree?

BURRIS:  Yes, I do agree.  I think that Michael in his—all of his manifestation is bizarre and depressing.  And I don‘t think that his health in and of itself will have any impact at all.  It only shows that he is probably more human in the sense that you can see the superstar you may not understand that they get sick as well.  He is fragile in his manner and that is consistent with the manner in which he looks.  So I don‘t see his health in any way being part of the jury‘s deliberation at all...

ABRAMS:  John...


ABRAMS:  John, if you were his attorney, all right, and you kept hearing about these hospital visits, you‘re getting calls from the media at all times of the night, people saying hey, is it true that Michael Jackson is back in the hospital?  And you just want to go oh no you‘ve got to be kidding me. 

BURRIS:  No...

ABRAMS:  Jackson is back at the hospital?

BURRIS:  You know what, I would say look, Michael Jackson is my client.  He‘s a very unusually person.  It‘s not—I have to deal with each individual call in and of itself.  I would deal if Michael is sick, he has problems and I would try to humanize the situation much more so that not.  I would not view it as a negative.  I would just say it is part of the case.  When you took on Michael Jackson you‘re going to get all of the unusual madness you don‘t normally get...


BURRIS:  ... and you accept it as that.

FIEGER:  No.  I‘ll tell you why I disagree. 

ABRAMS:  Quickly Geoffrey...

FIEGER:  It indicates a lack of control.  Because what does Michael Jackson go to the hospital for that he can‘t get at home?  If his money can afford anything, it‘s the same treatment that he could get in the hospital at home.  Believe me, they‘re not doing anything for him in the hospital emergency room.  I don‘t believe that he‘s got a CAT scan or an MRI, which is really the only test they could do in a hospital that couldn‘t be done at home. 

ABRAMS:  Yes...

FIEGER:  So I promise you, this is for show. 

BURRIS:  Well that may all—that may be true, but you‘ve got to accept who he is.  You can‘t control Michael Jackson on these issues. 


BURRIS:  You‘ve just got to accept him. 

ABRAMS:  Let me take...

BURRIS:  You try to give him some advice.  But you don‘t...

ABRAMS:  ... a quick break here.  Quick break John.  I‘ll be right back on this...


ABRAMS:  ... you know, with the kind of money he has, Geoffrey‘s right.  He could hire Geoffrey Fieger to come over and give him legal advice for an hour.  That‘s not cheap.

Coming up, possible trouble with the jury—one of the jurors may have talked about a book deal with her niece, who‘s apparently lined up an author to help her write it.  Should that juror have been kicked off? 

And if Jackson is convicted, his first stop is likely the Santa Barbara county jail.  We get an exclusive tour from someone who knows it well, the former Santa Barbara sheriff. 

Plus, authorities in Aruba charge two men in connection with an 18-year-old American girl who disappeared last week and ask tourists to help in the search. 

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



ABRAMS:  We are back live at the Michael Jackson case.  Jurors have just finished the first day of deliberations here.  No verdict.  And while we know little about what is going on inside the deliberation room, outside we are hearing that a juror in the case might have been considering a book deal even a long time ago.  Juror number five‘s granddaughter told The Associated Press that grandma talked about writing a book soon after being chosen for the jury back in February, which is also—quote—“when she talked about being on “Oprah” and “60 Minutes.”

Traci Montgomery also told the “L.A. Times” that her 79-year-old grandmother—quote—“heard some juror from the Scott Peterson trial has published a book.  She asked me if I thought it was possible to write a book about the Jackson trial.”

She told the AP that she hasn‘t talked to her grandmother about the case or about writing a book, but that she has taken steps towards getting the book deal.  She reportedly has a potential co-author waiting in the wings.  The question, Geoffrey Fieger, should that mean that grandma gets booted? 

FIEGER:  No, because the deal was allegedly made between her granddaughter and the grandmother.  The grandmother herself hasn‘t made any deal.  As you know, the law in California requires a 90-day hiatus between the verdict and any book deal.  The grandmother just revealing that she was on the jury, Dan, or that she might like to appear on television afterwards in and of itself isn‘t going to disqualify her. 

I would be worried about whether that would make her more prone to a conviction as in the Scott Peterson case or an acquittal as in the O.J.  Simpson case.  I would think just off the top of my head, that a juror who is looking or even thinking about appearing on television isn‘t going to be one who talks about acquitting an alleged child molester.  That wouldn‘t happen...


FIEGER:  That would be the attraction.

ABRAMS:  This is a 79-year-old woman, retired, a widow.  Her grandson was a registered sexual deviant, knew nothing about—new little about this case and nothing about ‘93.  And she said—quote—“I just want Mr.  Jackson to get a fair trial.”  Well, John Burris...


ABRAMS:  ... seems that she wants Jackson to get more than a fair trial.  It also seems that she wants to get a little piece of the action. 

BURRIS:  Well it sounds like to me she wants to line her pockets, Dan, and become another celebrity.  I think, frankly, that this is a juror that should be brought in by the judge and have a conversation with her in chambers to find out what she in fact has said and what she has done.  Has she commissioned her granddaughter to do something indirectly?  And if she has and she made the—I think this lady should come off the jury.  I don‘t care whose side she is on. 


BURRIS:  She is...

ABRAMS:  I mean it‘s a little hard to believe, John—it is a little hard to believe that granddaughter is signing—is getting a book deal together and but I haven‘t talked to grandma about it one bit. 

BURRIS:  Yes.  No, I think she needs to be explored in terms of examination and she should come off if that in fact has taken place. 

FIEGER:  She won‘t...

ABRAMS:  Geoffrey, I would bet that the judge has spoken to her about it, right? 

FIEGER:  Yes...


FIEGER:  ... and if he hasn‘t he may very well speak to her, but if that‘s the story and they stick to it, that the granddaughter is the one who‘s urging her grandmother, there is no way she is coming off the jury...


BURRIS:  I think she could come off.  She could come off...

FIEGER:  No...

BURRIS:  ... if the judge really believed...

FIEGER:  No...

BURRIS:  ... there‘s—even though—because the judge has to say is it likely or not.  If there is a person in place, I don‘t think that the judge has to absolutely have direct facts.  He could just say there‘s an appearance of impropriety here and therefore...


BURRIS:  ... this person should come off the jury.

FIEGER:  Under some circumstances...

ABRAMS:  Very quickly...

FIEGER:  ... yes not this.  Not this...

ABRAMS:  All right, Geoffrey...

BURRIS:  Why not? 

ABRAMS:  Geoffrey, real quick...

FIEGER:  California. 

ABRAMS:  ... when do you think we‘re getting—Geoffrey, when are we getting a verdict if we get one?

FIEGER:  You‘ll get a verdict by Friday... 

ABRAMS:  John Burris...

FIEGER:  ... or a hung jury.

BURRIS:  Friday verdicts are generally what happens here—around, but I think if it goes past Friday then we‘re probably looking at a hung jury next week sometime.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  I think if there is a verdict it will happen on Friday at...



ABRAMS:  I see 11:00 a.m.  I see 11:00 a.m.  That‘s what I am seeing...

FIEGER:  That‘s right...

ABRAMS:  ... you know...

FIEGER:  ... right in time for the evening news. 

ABRAMS:  Geoffrey Fieger knows that I have some psychic abilities, so even though...


ABRAMS:  ... I get this stuff wrong all the time.  All right, Geoffrey Fieger and John Burris, thanks a lot, good to see you. 

BURRIS:  Thank you. 

FIEGER:  Take care.

ABRAMS:  So if Michael Jackson is convicted on any of the most serious charges, it is expected that bail would be revoked and Jackson will be taken into custody immediately.  Former Santa Barbara county sheriff, Jim Thomas, gave me a tour of the grounds, an exclusive tour, where they are already preparing for the possibility of a high profile inmate. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  It looks like the view you might see in a four-star hotel, California‘s scenic Central Valley, but when you realize where it is, it is hardly four-star and hardly a hotel.  This is the Santa Barbara county jail where Michael Jackson would likely be transported if convicted on any of the most serious charges. 

JIM THOMAS, FORMER SANTA BARBARA COUNTY SHERIFF:  He‘ll come probably by himself in a vehicle with the detectives.  He‘ll come around this road, around to the back, and he‘ll go into the back of the facility and be booked exactly where he was when he was originally charged. 

ABRAMS:  Jim Thomas, who was the sheriff here for 12 years, says Jackson would be here within an hour and a half of a conviction. 

THOMAS:  You are brought in, you do the paperwork that is necessary.  You get him an all-medical evaluation.  Again, they inventory your property.  You sign for that.  They place you in jail clothing and then they...

ABRAMS (on camera):  So he would have to wear a particular...

THOMAS:  Absolutely.

ABRAMS:  ... uniform?  What would it look like?

THOMAS:  Absolutely.  He would probably wear a two-piece, which is a pair of pants and something like a sweatshirt. 


THOMAS:  No armband and I can assure you there would be no deputy sheriff carrying his umbrella. 

ABRAMS (voice-over):  Yes.  That would happen immediately, as soon as he gets here?

THOMAS:  Yes, that would be the first thing, is that they would place him in custody so he can get into his cell and get used to it.  So they would take the time to go through all the process, put him in jail clothing, take him to where he is going to be, explain to him what the rules are, what his routine will be when he gets up, when he goes to bed.  They feed him in the cells and...


ABRAMS (on camera):  What would generally be the rules in terms of hours, et cetera? 

THOMAS:  Well normally they‘re up at 5:00.  They go to bed at 9:00.  If you are not going to be transported, if you‘re not going to be transported, you can sleep a little longer.  Most of them have television available, as well as telephones available.  Not for incoming calls, but they can make outgoing collect calls.  So he‘ll have the ability to have access to people outside of the jail facility.  Visitation is fairly liberal. 

ABRAMS (voice-over):  So after he is booked, this is the facility where Jackson will be brought? 

THOMAS:  Yes, Dan, it‘s my understanding that they have a cell here ready for him. 

ABRAMS:  Really?  They are already prepared? 

THOMAS:  That they are prepared.  That would have a full 24-hour camera so they can watch him 24 hours a day because they‘d be worried about his mental health. 

ABRAMS (on camera):  When you say Jackson would be on suicide watch, as a practical matter, what would that mean in terms of his cell?

THOMAS:  It would mean that he would probably be under 24-hour camera so they could catch him at all times.  They would have a log where they would log every 15 minutes or so what he was doing.  It is an area where there is a lot of access by officers who would be walking by and looking in.  And it is an area that would be away from other inmates who may taunt him or give him a problem. 

ABRAMS:  And how will it differ from the way other inmates are treated here? 

THOMAS:  Michael Jackson, if he is convicted of child molestation, will not be a popular person just because of that charge nor is anybody else that is booked here for that charge.  But because of who he is, and the notoriety and the attention that he will be getting, they will make sure that they keep him separated, keep him well, and keep him well taken care of. 

ABRAMS (voice-over):  And what if he has medical problems?  I mean if he‘s had all these medical problems during the trial and what if, you know, you hear a lot of complaints about this and that and his back and his mental health, et cetera?

THOMAS:  Well he‘ll have an opportunity to complain about it.  There is 24-hour nursing care and physicians on staff.  They can and will consult with his own physicians.  But the actual medical care more than likely unless he‘s transported to a hospital will be done by the medical staff that‘s in the jail facility.  They are well trained.

ABRAMS:  Do you think the people here are dreading the idea of Michael Jackson living here... 

THOMAS:  Yes...

ABRAMS:  ... for some period of time?

THOMAS:  Yes, I think they are. 

ABRAMS:  Why? 

THOMAS:  I think they would rather him not.  Because frankly they just want to be able to go about their job without all of the attention...

ABRAMS (on camera):  Lose-lose situation, right?

THOMAS:  Sure.  They would be very happy if you and I weren‘t here having this interview.

ABRAMS (voice-over):  If convicted this would likely be a temporary home for Jackson, but Sheriff Thomas says he‘d be in the company of some dangerous criminals. 

(on camera):  So who are generally the other types of inmates that are here?

THOMAS:  Gosh, Dan, just about everything.  Because anybody who goes to a state prison system for the most heinous crime you can think of first spends their time in a jail...

ABRAMS:  So there could be murderers here. 

THOMAS:  Oh there‘s probably anywhere between 28 and 30 at any given time.  So while they‘re either going through trial or awaiting sentencing they‘re here until they go to the prison system.  And it‘s becoming more and more violent because the jails are crowded.  So the less violent inmates are being released so that we can keep the more violent inmates here. 


ABRAMS:  And eventually could end up at the Corcoran Prison, which is the state prison here in California where Charles Manson and Sirhan Sirhan, others notorious criminals are housed.  Thanks to Jim Thomas for taking us around there.  We appreciate it.

So what do you think the jury is thinking?  Are they going to convict?  I don‘t know.  What do you think?  I can‘t decide.  We will keep asking and keep tracking your votes.  Log on to abramsreport.msnbc.com, check out our online vote.  We‘ll bring you the results of this particular poll at the end of our special live show at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. 

Coming up, it‘s been nearly a week now since an 18-year-old from Alabama was in Aruba on her senior trip disappeared.  Now authorities have arrested two men in connection with the disappearance, but they still don‘t know where she is.  We‘ll get a live report next. 

And the moment Jennifer Wilbanks came clean to the FBI, caught on tape.  You hear her admitting she cracked under pressure, made her disappearance up, and really was just a runaway bride. 


ABRAMS:  Coming up, new developments in the search for a high school senior missing in Aruba.  Two men are under arrest.  They still haven‘t found her.  We‘ll be talking with the prosecutor‘s office.  First the headlines. 


ABRAMS:  We are back.  As soon as possible, it can‘t be a moment too soon for Natalee Holloway‘s parents.  The 18-year-old honor student disappeared a week ago on the island of Aruba after visiting a bar/restaurant with some of the 100-plus kids traveling with her.  This was a high school senior trip. 

Now today, some 700 volunteers joined police, soldiers and the FBI searching the island for any trace of Natalee.  Aruba‘s government gave 4,000 civil servants the afternoon off to join in the search if they wanted.  Sunday, two suspects were arrested by police and the FBI in a pre-dawn raid.  Dutch authorities will only say they‘re between 28 and 30 years old and worked as security guards. 

Now NBC‘s Martin Savidge is on Aruba with more—Martin. 

MARTIN SAVIDGE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Dan, as you pointed out, those two suspects they‘re expected, expected—it is not confirmed, but anticipated to go before a judge tomorrow.  That would be in keeping with the traditional legal practices here on this Dutch island.  They would go before the judge and the judge would make a determination as to whether or not there is enough evidence to continue holding them. 

If that judge says yes, there is, then they can be held for another eight days.  But as we say, no confirmation that is going to take place, it should take place, though, we are told, if things go as they normally do.  As for that search, it is unprecedented.  Never has it happened before that so many people on this island have gathered together to look for just one individual. 

There really is almost an obsession that has now gripped this island when it comes to trying to find Natalee Holloway for a number of reasons.  Number one, it‘s a heartfelt case.  It‘s a young woman, a beautiful young women, she‘s coming here to celebrate a major event in her life that‘s graduating from high school, and she disappears.  Then on top of that, they know that everyday that this story is a major story in the United States, it harms their very vital, very important tourist industry.  Americans make up 80 percent of the tourists that come here, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Martin, real quick, do we know anything else about these two men? 

SAVIDGE:  No.  In fact, the government here has been extremely vague other than to announce that they have been arrested.  The charge that was announced was basically they are being held in connection with crimes in connection with the disappearance of this young girl.  That‘s almost an exact quote.  There is no specific charge, at least, that has been released to the media. 

So we don‘t know exactly what it is the men are wanted or how they may be related to the disappearance of this particular girl.  Then you‘ve got the three other what are called people of interest.  These are the 18 to 25-year-old that were with Natalee on the night she disappeared. 

They claimed they dropped her off at the hotel.  Apparently, video cameras at the hotel don‘t seem to bare out their story and that‘s the reason that authorities are concerned about them as well.  It‘s possible, police tell us, there may be more arrests, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Martin Savidge, thank you very much.  Appreciate it. 

Vivian Vanderbiezen is acting spokesperson for the Aruba Prosecutor Service.  She joins us now by phone.  Thank you very much for taking the time.  We appreciate it. 

Now I know that you are going to have to be careful in terms of what you can and can‘t say.  But let me ask you a pretty general question, and that is, that it seems that it is now clear that a crime has been committed in connection with her disappearance.  Is that fair to say? 

VIVIAN VANDERBIEZEN, ARUBA‘S PROSECUTOR SERVICE (via phone):  Well we don‘t want to rule out that possibility.  We want to keep all of the possibilities open.  We are hoping that the searches that are continuing will find Natalee.  But on the other hand, we also have to consider that maybe considering the days that we are not finding her that there is a possibility that a criminal act has been committed. 

ABRAMS:  But if you‘re not sure, then how can these two men be under arrest? 

VANDERBIEZEN:  Well, we are following on leads, on tips that we are getting and information that other witnesses have also stated. 

ABRAMS:  And all of that has obviously led your office to the conclusion that these two men committed some sort of crime, right? 

VANDERBIEZEN:  Well, we don‘t—we have a reasonable suspicion at this time.  And that‘s—based on that, we can detain them. 

ABRAMS:  And can you tell us anything more about what it is there‘s reasonable suspicion that they did? 

VANDERBIEZEN:  Well I probably have to say the same thing that the prosecutor, Janssen, has said before.  They are being detained in connection with crimes in connection with the case of the missing Natalee.

ABRAMS:  But they were security guards, correct?  That we do know. 

Were they security guards at the hotel where she was staying? 

VANDERBIEZEN:  In general, the prosecution cannot confirm on the profession on a person—on a suspect. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  But bottom line is you‘re still hopeful, right? 

I mean you haven‘t given up hope yet...


ABRAMS:  ... that she could be found alive and well, correct?

VANDERBIEZEN:  No, we have not given up hope.  The searches will continue to go on and everybody is very concerned with this and we are working very hard. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Vivian Vanderbiezen, thank you very much for taking the time to come on the program.  We appreciate it. 

VANDERBIEZEN:  You‘re welcome. 

ABRAMS:  Carla Caccavale is a spokesperson for Natalee‘s family and joins us now.  Thank you as well for taking the time to come on the program.  All right, so...


ABRAMS:  ... you‘re hearing this about these two people who are being arrested in connection it sounds like with the case.  But it sounds like the good news is that they haven‘t given up hope, right? 

CACCAVALE:  Absolutely.  The family remains very, very strong.  Today was one of the best days for the family because I don‘t know if you know, but the island, the government did a program where everyone who works in the government was off after 2:00 p.m. to conduct...


CACCAVALE:  ... an island wide nationwide search for Natalee and that just gave them an extra boost, you know, of hope and support and just reinforced that the whole community is behind them. 

ABRAMS:  How is the family doing in general?  I mean are you and others helping them, you know, keep their hopes up, keep their spirits up? 

CACCAVALE:  Absolutely.  They have a tremendous network of support, both back home in Alabama and here on island.  The visitors that come from the states are walking in all the time asking to help.  The local community, I mean they are just coming out and donating helicopters, ATVs, their time, I mean you name it. 

And you know Beth, Natalee‘s mom, I mean she is so appreciative of all the help.  We were walking the other day and there was someone looking at one of the missing person‘s fliers and she stopped and just said you know thank you so much for caring, that‘s my daughter.  I mean that‘s where she‘s at.  She‘s still thanking everyone and hopeful and she said she‘s not leaving this island until she leaves with Natalee. 

ABRAMS:  And you know I‘ve been struck by the types of things her friends have said.  It‘s not just oh, she‘s, you know, a nice, kind person.  They‘ve gotten specific about what made her so great and I found that to be, you know, very inspiring.  Let me just play a little piece of sound from her mother who was talking about the fact that she was ready to go.  This is what her mother said. 

Natalee‘s bags were packed, ready to go.  Everything was packed.  Her passport was in her purse.  She even had the remaining cash she had on her in her purse.  It was in her room.  Everything was zipped up.  She was ready to go home. 

And Ms. Caccavale finally, are the authorities there keeping you and the family very much informed as to the progress of the investigation?

CACCAVALE:  Absolutely.  When the two men were brought into custody, right after they were put in the car, Beth was the first phone call that was made and we are briefed every day.  Even if there is no development, we are briefed every day, usually twice a day by the police.  Today before the press conference they came in and they briefed the family before anything goes out to the media. 

ABRAMS:  Well that‘s good.  That‘s good news.  And you know look, this is one of those cases, I‘m sure you know, where people, those of us covering it and I think the public at large is coming to feel like they know Natalee.  And as a result...


ABRAMS:  ... that they have a stake in the outcome.  And so we‘ll keep doing what we can and keep letting us know if there is anything we can do.  Thanks for coming on. 

CACCAVALE:  Please do.  We thank you for your help and for covering the case.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, is it possible that scheduling a manicure and pedicure caused runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks to flee?  Newly released audiotapes of the runaway bride answering questions from the FBI in New Mexico.  We‘ve got the tapes. 


ABRAMS:  Coming up, don‘t you hate it when a manicure and pedicure throw you like the runaway bride says it threw her over the edge or so she says.  We‘ve got the tapes.


ABRAMS:  Jennifer Wilbanks, the runaway bride stopped in her tracks, caught lying about an abduction and a sexual assault.  Newly released audiotapes detail the tangled web she weaved in her FBI interview and how it unraveled.

NBC‘s Don Teague has the story.


DON TEAGUE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  It‘s the voice of a woman in crisis.  Jennifer Wilbanks answering questions during an FBI interview in New Mexico. 

UNIDENTIFIED FBI AGENT:  Did you resist at that point when they were trying to take your clothes off? 

JENNIFER WILBANKS, RUNAWAY BRIDE:  Not to a great extent.  I just said please don‘t—I said please don‘t do this, but I didn‘t put up a fight.

UNIDENTIFIED FBI AGENT:  They ever threaten you with harm, hit you or they were going to kill you or anything like that?

WILBANKS:  No sir.


WILBANKS:  I mean they never said they were going to kill me.

TEAGUE:  Her story included graphic details of a sexual assault by a man and a woman. 

UNIDENTIFIED FBI AGENT:  Who took your clothes off? 

WILBANKS:  She did. 

TEAGUE:  Details too graphic to repeat here and all of them untrue.  Wilbanks pleaded no contest on Thursday to a felony charge of making a false statement to police.  The FBI interview shows authorities quickly saw through the lies to a terrified bride-to-be. 

UNIDENTIFIED FBI AGENT:  Jen, I have been doing this job for a long time.  Jennifer, I think something happened and you said I just can‘t do this on Saturday.

WILBANKS:  I just cracked under all this pressure and I just, I mean I couldn‘t do it all.  I couldn‘t and have the perfect wedding that everybody thought that I was supposed to have. 


WILBANKS:  Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, and then I was like I only have Friday off.  I‘ve got to get my pedicure and manicure done.  I‘ve got to pack for this honeymoon, and I don‘t even know where I‘m going.

TEAGUE:  Under a plea deal, Wilbanks won‘t be going to jail.  She is wearing her engagement ring again.  But whether she goes to the alter anytime soon remains to be seen. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Good luck Jennifer...

TEAGUE:  Don Teague, NBC News, Atlanta.


ABRAMS:  Oh, she didn‘t know where she was going to get her pedicure and manicure and just threw her for a loop. 

All right, Lemuel Martinez is the district attorney from New Mexico‘s 13th district.  His district neighbors, New Mexico County where Jennifer Wilbanks could have been charged.  Thanks very much for taking the time to come on the program. 

All right, so look, the New Mexico D.A. who could have prosecuted here seems to be saying look, you know, Georgia can take care of this, but every time I hear another tape—this is an FBI tape, but you‘ve heard the 911 tape where she is making up this story, she‘s talking about a blue van, a Hispanic man—every time I hear it you know I ask myself this is not just a little lie.  This is not just a passing thing where immediately she took it back.  This was a lie that went over a series of hours and the authorities went out looking.  If this was in your district, would you have charged? 

LEMUEL MARTINEZ, D.A., NEW MEXICO, 13TH DISTRICT:  Well, that‘s a tough question, but probably the answer is no.  In this particular case, we would examine the facts and the law, and I think it is clear that she probably could have been convicted.  In the state of New Mexico it is a misdemeanor offense to do what she is alleged to have done, namely filing a false police report.  That subjects her to 365 days in jail, a maximum of $1,000 fine. 

What we‘d have to analyze is would there be a greater benefit and a greater change in her behavior if we brought her to New Mexico, used additional resources to call the FBI people, the dispatcher, and other witnesses to a case in front of probably a six-person jury where her competency may have been brought into question.  We have to be sure that the FBI got the confession right, that the Miranda...


MARTINEZ:  ... rights were read and other things.  So to put the case together here, maybe—it may cost the state of New Mexico more than any benefit we would receive. 

ABRAMS:  Fair enough.  What concerns me is that everyone is talking about her competency in terms of charging her and that troubles me and I will tell you why.  Because I don‘t see D.A.s across this country always asking about the—look this is not a woman who doesn‘t understand right from wrong.  I mean she‘s not—she‘s also not you know drooling, et cetera.  She may have psychological problems but so do so many other criminals.  And my concern is that she is getting special treatment because she is a pretty white woman who has been in the media a lot.

MARTINEZ:  Well look, to all D.A.s, accountability is the number one concern when we have enough facts to prove a case.  Second of all, our main concern is changing people‘s behavior.  And if we can have accountability and changing a person‘s behavior either by admitting to it, getting restitution, going into some kind of counseling, psychological treatment for those problems, then the goal is met.  And I think in this case you can argue that that goal has been met in Georgia.  And to try to do the same thing...


MARTINEZ:  ... in front of a jury with a sympathetic victim where we might lose or even if we win, to argue it before a judge to please ask for some kind of additional jail time or...


MARTINEZ:  ... restitution again, I don‘t...

ABRAMS:  ... I understand...

MARTINEZ:  I mean we...

ABRAMS:  I understand.  The bottom - and...


ABRAMS:  ... the bottom line is the Georgia authorities did take care of it.  My concern was that Georgia authorities were not going to have the proper venue and as a result that New Mexico would have to get involved.  But I think in the end there was a fair outcome here.  All right, Mr.

Martinez, thank you very much for taking the time.  We appreciate it.

MARTINEZ:  Thank you very much. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, your e-mails on the Michael Jackson case.  A lot of you again getting angry, getting angry.


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  It‘s only the first full day of deliberations in Michael Jackson‘s trial and yet, some of you comparing this trial already to that of O.J. 

From Mobile, Alabama, Cheryl Martin writes, “I‘ve watched your show and many others during the Michael Jackson trial and I‘m afraid that many of you are really doing an injustice to the viewers.  When O.J. Simpson was found innocent due to his attorney establishing reasonable doubt, many people were aghast because what they knew about the trial came from the media, many of who were very biased.  Anyone who objectively watched the proceedings saw the establishment of reasonable doubt.”

Oh yes, Cheryl, many like me were huge O.J. Simpson fans before the trial.  I so didn‘t want him to be guilty.  By the end of the case, you want to talk about looking at it objectively, come on, inescapable that O.J. was guilty.  This case is much more difficult than that one.  And I have to say even though Jackson was indicted by a grand jury, he‘s been treated pretty fairly by the media.  Many people putting the accuser‘s family on trial in a way that Team Jackson could only have dreamed of. 

Marcia Grant in New Jersey, “I keep hearing Michael Jackson is a child molester because he slept in bed with all these boys.  Where‘s the DNA?  There have been hundreds of thousands of boys at Neverland and only five boys say he has molested them.  From everything I‘ve read, a true molester wouldn‘t be able to resist.”

Well Marcia, I hate to say it but you need to do a little more reading.  First of all, DNA nine months after the act occurred?  Come on.  No one challenged the boy was in the bedroom.  And while I doubt hundreds of thousands of boys have been there, who knows?  There have been a lot but it‘s actually not atypical for a child molester with access to lots of children to pick and choose his victims, but that does not mean Jackson in this case is guilty.  But you don‘t do him any service by comparing him to O.J.

Be right back.


ABRAMS:  That does it for us tonight.  I will see you back here from Santa Maria at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time for a special hour edition of THE ABRAMS REPORT.  We‘ll have the results of our online vote about whether you think Jackson will be convicted. 

Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  I‘m staying here until the verdict. 


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