updated 6/10/2005 11:49:31 AM ET 2005-06-10T15:49:31

Guest: Patrick Paskel, David Kock, David Tunno, Susan Filan, Daniel Horowitz, Darrel Zaccagni, Patty Fornicola, Steve Emerson, Randy Hamud

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, police in Aruba arrest three more suspects in connection with the disappearance of an 18-year-old high school senior, Natalee Holloway. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  The three men say they brought her to her hotel the night she went missing but the security camera may tell a different story.  We‘ll talk to the attorney for one of them. 

And a Pennsylvania district attorney missing for weeks may have been spotted in Michigan.  His girlfriend joins us for another ABRAMS REPORT exclusive. 

Plus here in Santa Maria, California, day five and still no verdict in the Michael Jackson case.  We take a look at which side should feel better about the jurors deciding Jackson‘s fate. 

The program about justice starts now. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket tonight, three more arrests in the case of Natalee Holloway, the Alabama teen on a school trip missing in Aruba for 12 days now.  Early this morning, Aruba police arrested a 17-year-old Dutchman and two brothers, 18 and 21, from Surinam.  The Dutchman, the son of a Dutch judge, apparently met Natalee at a hotel casino two days before she was last seen. 

Now all three apparently acknowledge giving her a ride back to her hotel the night of her disappearance.  And the brothers told police that a man dressed in a security uniform approached Natalee as she stumbled in front of her hotel last Monday, the day she disappeared.  Natalee‘s family back in Birmingham reacted to the arrests earlier today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARCIA TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S AUNT:  These were the last three people to have seen her, to have been with her, so that‘s where we feel like we are now kind of moving in the direction we possibly need to be going. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Last week the three men were described as—quote—

“persons of interest”, but were released after questioning.  Authorities refuse to say if these three were connected in any way with two other men who‘d been detained, Mickey John and Abraham Jones. 

Joining me now is Patrick Paskel, a reporter with Aruba TV.  Thanks very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it. 

All right, so do you think they are suspects in her disappearance or do you think the police think these guys just know more than they‘re saying? 

PATRICK PASKEL, ARUBA TV:  I think the second one.  I‘m sure the police is—the police think that they know much more than what they‘ve already said to the police when they use them as witness at the very beginning of this case.  According to police, they had them as witness and then according to them, as you already said, they mention two other guys, security—had security uniforms on, and then because of that, they went with two guys.  Apparently, according to my information with the police people, the case with the two security guys are not so strong.  That‘s why they go back to the witnesses.

ABRAMS:  All right, so let‘s lay it out Patrick so it‘s clear for our viewers.  You‘ve got these two guys who are arrested, right—we showed their pictures a moment ago, if we can put that up again—these two gentlemen who were security guards at a neighboring hotel and those two were the first two arrested.  These three were the last three to have seen her.  Now is it true that they claim, and we‘re going to talk to one of their lawyers in a moment, but they claim that they dropped her off at her hotel and yet the security camera cannot verify that? 

PASKEL:  That‘s correct.  It cannot verify that.  But nevertheless, they‘re saying that they left Natalee in front of the Holiday Inn hotel and according to them, there was two security guards with a white shirt standing out there.  That‘s why Saturday, the police went to a Allegro resort, that‘s a neighbor hotel next to the Holiday Inn and did a house search there but didn‘t find anything.  That‘s why on Sunday they went to the two different houses of the two different security guards and didn‘t find anything. 

ABRAMS:  Right.

PASKEL:  So that‘s why now they went back from the start again and now these three witnesses are three suspects. 

ABRAMS:  And let‘s be clear, in Aruba you can be held for a crime merely on suspicion without any evidence.  They can merely say, look, we have questions about you, and until those questions are answered, you‘re not going to be released.  These first two went in front of a judge and the judge said they can be held for a few more months. 

All right, let me let you listen to a piece of sound from her stepfather.  And I want to ask you if—I‘m hoping that this is true.  I want to see if this is the same reporting that you‘re getting. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUG TWITTY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S STEPFATHER:  There‘s a sighting almost every day of Natalee.  I mean you know she‘s a beautiful young blond girl and I think whenever somebody sees somebody like that, they immediately think it‘s Natalee, but all I know is that she left Carlos N‘ Charlie‘s at 1:30 in the morning and hasn‘t been seen since. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Patrick, any sightings that the authorities are taking seriously? 

PASKEL:  We feel here in Aruba that Natalee is here.  When I was coming here to do this interview with you, I just got a new report from the police that yesterday at 2:45 p.m., according to a security surveillance tape in a gasoline station in Oranjestad, they have Natalee on tape.  Nevertheless, they went to the police with this tape and still they cannot confirm if this is really, really Natalee.  But to give you an idea, the public—the people of Aruba is searching every day to Natalee and... 

ABRAMS:  Patrick, wait...

(CROSSTALK)

PASKEL:  ... we‘re near by.

ABRAMS:  Patrick, I need to be clear on what you just said because what you said is very important, very important information, you‘re saying that the police told you that yesterday at 2:45 p.m. there was a security tape at a gas station on Aruba that appears to show Natalee alive?

PASKEL:  According to the security surveillance tape, they came to the police with it, saying that this is Natalee and they are verifying it right now when we speak.  But everything seems to my information not confirmed yet that that was Natalee and that was yesterday in the center of Oranjestad here in Aruba. 

ABRAMS:  That‘s huge, Patrick.  That would confirm what the family has been praying and hoping for and that is that Natalee is alive. 

PASKEL:  Yes, but that—again, this is information coming out of the community.  I want you guys to know that every day the police get a lot of information, they saw Natalee here or there in another city, and the police go right behind them and sometimes it‘s Arubian, sometimes it‘s not Natalee, but the information are coming more and more, and it‘s like giving us an idea that she is here in Aruba. 

ABRAMS:  Wow...

PASKEL:  ... will find her.  I‘m sure of that. 

ABRAMS:  Patrick, I‘m going to ask you to do me a favor if you will.  Can you just check with your sources when—I‘m going to say goodbye to you now.  If you can just check with your sources if you get anything new, any time in the next few hours, please let us know.  And we‘d love to put you back on the air to talk about the latest because this is very important stuff that you‘ve brought to us.  And we appreciate you coming on the program. 

PASKEL:  Yes, for sure.  We‘ll do that and we‘ll stay in touch with you whenever we have information.  I‘m sure today we‘ll have (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  The police are working on this right now as we speak...

ABRAMS:  Wow.

PASKEL:  ... and I‘m sure in a couple of minutes, we‘ll get more information on this.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well, Patrick, we‘ll put you right back on the air on the program literally if you get off the phone and you come back and you say you‘ve got something, we‘ll put you right back on the air to report it.  Thank you very much and maybe we‘ll see you in a few minutes. 

PASKEL:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Joining me now is David Kock, the attorney for one of the Surinamese suspects arrested earlier today, Satish Calpo (ph).  Mr. Kock, thanks very much for coming on the program. 

All right, so I would assume that the best news...

DAVID KOCK, ATTORNEY FOR ONE OF THE SUSPECTS:  Thank you...

ABRAMS:  ... I would assume the best news that you could possibly hear for your client would be that there‘s been a sighting of Natalee alive. 

KOCK:  Of course, I can say I‘m shocked but pleasantly surprised.  Of course, but again this is, you know, something that the police is investigating, so we have to still wait and see what news they will bring us. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  And I think the point that Patrick was making also is that there have been these reports every day and they haven‘t really been able to verify any of them up to this point, so we should be very careful in suggesting that somehow you know there is now evidence or proof.  The bottom line is they have suspicion, they suspect, they‘re now going to examine the tape and try and figure it out. 

Let‘s talk about your client, all right.  One of three people who apparently were either the last to see Natalee or one of the last to see Natalee, they say—is it true they say they dropped her off at her hotel that night and yet the surveillance camera from the hotel doesn‘t verify that? 

KOCK:  I can say that they are confirming that they have dropped her at the hotel on that day at that time.  We haven‘t had the chance yet to look into the surveillance camera.  I understood that there might be some problems with that, so that‘s why I cannot comment on the surveillance camera as of yet.  But they are confirming and their story—the three of them are saying it separately—and again confirming now that they‘re being held as a suspect instead of a witness.  That they dropped her actually...

ABRAMS:  Right.

KOCK:  ... at the hotel at that time.

ABRAMS:  What were they doing with Natalee?  Why were they with her? 

KOCK:  They brought her back to the hotel.  They were also in Carlos N‘ Charlie‘s.  I mean that‘s the report—one can again almost read it already on the Internet, their story that they are saying—they were there and they drove her back and dropped her at the hotel. 

ABRAMS:  But that‘s it?  They literally met her at Carlos N‘ Charlie‘s and they‘re saying, the three of them just gave her a ride to the hotel directly from Carlos N‘ Charlie‘s to the hotel and that‘s it? 

KOCK:  Well it seems that they drove around a little bit, but what I‘m saying is that, once again I can only speak for one of the suspects that‘s been detained, and that is his story, that one of the other suspects, the one that I‘m not representing, knew Natalee, and that‘s why, too, they hooked up with her and that‘s too the reason why she probably went with them.  And that‘s why afterwards from Carlos N‘ Charlie‘s they dropped her here at the resort.  I‘m not saying that they went directly...

ABRAMS:  All right...

KOCK:  ... from Carlos N‘ Charlie‘s exactly to here, but you know.

ABRAMS:  Well how much time from Carlos N‘ Charlie‘s until the time they dropped her off? 

KOCK:  If I read in the transcripts—if I‘m not mistaken about 20 to 30 minutes, if I‘m not mistaken.  It was about that.  It wasn‘t also too much time either. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  David Kock, thank you very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.  And again as I said to Patrick, I‘ll say the same thing to you, we‘d like to have you back on the program as this story continues to develop.

KOCK:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) thank you for the invitation. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, five days down, no verdict, here in the Santa Maria courthouse. 

And from a horse trainer to a civil engineer, what do the jurors‘ background say about which side they might favor?

And that Pennsylvania D.A. missing for nearly two months may have been spotted in Michigan—another ABRAMS REPORT exclusive.  We‘re going to talk with his girlfriend.

Plus a courtroom battle in Florida is on.  The government says he‘s a terror leader.  His lawyers say he‘s just a mild mannered professor.  The trial has started.

And 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 New York Times” headline makeup of Jackson jury seems to favor prosecution.  Some of our guests disagree—we‘ll get to that.  But first, day five of deliberation in the Michael Jackson trial is over, 22 hours of deliberation and no verdict, no nothing.  No questions about testimony, no requests for read-backs or evidence that we know of.  But still, many believe tomorrow could be the day. 

Why do we—I say that?  Well no reason, apart from the fact that it‘s Friday and jurors often want to finish before the weekend.  So we ask which side has the edge, just based on who these jurors are.  There are four men and eight women, ranging in age from 20 do 79.  Eight of them parents.  More than half of the jurors work at least part-time while three others are retired. 

So are there any ringers on the jury for either the prosecution or the defense?  Well our panel and I studied the jury information and are here to tell you what we think.  Our guests and I have put together our jury charts on who might be better for which side, this as we wait for this jury to come back. 

MSNBC analyst and former prosecutor, Susan Filan; criminal defense attorney Daniel Horowitz; and jury consultant David Tunno.  All right, thank you all for coming on the program.  I‘ve got the list for each person.  Let me just first do the summaries of each person, starting with Daniel Horowitz, who says that there were seven jurors he thinks the prosecution should be happy about, three the defense should be happy about, and two that could be good for either side. 

Susan Filan, on the other hand, says six seem to be leaning toward defense or would be good defense jurors, I should say.  Four would be good prosecution jurors.  Two could be good for either side.

Dan Abrams—that‘s me—six for the defense --  this is the right answer by the way in case you have your scorecards at home—six for the defense, five for the prosecution...

(LAUGHTER)

ABRAMS:  ... and one could be good for either side.  And finally, Mr.

Tunno, eight pro prosecution or eight the prosecution should be happy about

·         four, the defense.

All right, so we‘ve got a lot of varying numbers here.  All right, Mr.  Tunno, let me start with you.  You do this for a living.  You help pick juries and you‘re a trial consultant.  You‘re also one of the sources that was cited in this article.  Makeup of Jackson jury seems to favor prosecution.  I‘ve got to tell you after reading through all the voir dire and reading through the questionnaires, et cetera, I‘m not so sure that‘s true.  Why do you think it‘s true?

DAVID TUNNO, TRIAL CONSULTANT:  Well in the first place, that interview was conducted before I had access to the oral voir dire, so I had the...

ABRAMS:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

TUNNO:  ... very thumbnail sketches of the people.  Now I have changed my position slightly...

ABRAMS:  ... that‘s the difference between doing...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... being interviewed for THE ABRAMS REPORT and “The New York Times”.  THE ABRAMS REPORT you get all the information and for “The New York Times” they just give you a little summary (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

TUNNO:  Your producers were very good at e-mailing me more complete information and it was very telling.  I would have—but I would still have seven prosecution jurors and I‘ll define that for you in a moment, four defense jurors, and one fence sitter. 

ABRAMS:  All right, go ahead, you said you were going to define it. 

Go ahead.

TUNNO:  The—when I say prosecution jurors, I mean jurors that in a typical case, the prosecution should be happy with.  They should feel they can convince these jurors to vote for a guilty verdict. 

ABRAMS:  All right...

TUNNO:  However, this is a screwy case and so there are a lot of factors that need to be taken into account. 

ABRAMS:  All right, let‘s go through some of the jurors on this case.  This as we wait for this verdict to come back, again, five days of deliberation and nothing so far. 

Let‘s start with juror two.  This is the jury foreperson, all right, 63-year-old man, father of two adult sons, retired school counselor, says he knew nothing about this case or the ‘93 case, doesn‘t put celebrities on a pedestal.  He would look at Jackson as just another person who needs a fair trial.  Both David Tunno and Susan Filan said that this person would likely be good for the prosecution.  Daniel Horowitz and I both said that we thought that it would be both.  And here‘s what each—a quote from each person. 

Daniel Horowitz:  “He‘s the ideal defense juror.  Somewhat rebellious, independent minded, and very intelligent.”

Susan Filan:  “He‘s the ideal juror for the prosecution because he‘s fair, has no baggage, and has common sense.”  And Susan Filan—“good for the prosecution, knows teenagers, has no baggage” --  all right, this gets a little redundant here. 

But I‘ll tell you what I had said about this.  I was uncertain because he likes CNN and not FOX.  That says to me, well he‘s not sort of very conservative.  He might be more liberal, but he knew nothing about the case, which says to me that he doesn‘t know a lot about pop culture, which I think could actually be helpful to prosecutors. 

Susan, what do you think of that analysis?  I mean it seems that you thought he was more pro prosecution.

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:   Actually, I think he‘s really good for both.  I mean I really think this guy—I watched him—he was really poker faced.  He took the most notes of everybody.  He does exude leadership qualities, and he‘s very well educated.  He‘s got his master‘s degree, but he knows teenagers.  He works in a high school as a guidance counselor, so he‘s in a really good position to evaluate the credibility of the accuser‘s testimony and to keep this jury on track. 

I like your analysis, Dan, about not knowing too much about pop culture because I‘ve said all along I don‘t think this jury cares if he‘s a mega superstar or if Macaulay Culkin came in—I mean I think it was a little bit of fun for them to see an actor come into court—they want to know the facts.  They‘re trying to decide, did he do it or didn‘t he.  And they‘re no longer persuaded by whether he‘s a great singer or a great dancer.  That‘s not on the table for them anymore, so I like your analysis, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Daniel Horowitz, on the whole, why did you come up do you think with more pro-prosecution jurors than defense?  What was it on the whole about these jurors that made you think that more of them are jurors the prosecution would like? 

DANIEL HOROWITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Dan, most of these jurors have children and that factor alone is going to predispose them to look at Michael Jackson and say, I don‘t care if you have chimpanzees cleaning your house, no rational adult sleeps with children.  You‘re already 99 percent towards the guilty phase and then when you get into that young accuser and whether he‘s lying or not, they have children who their hearts are open to, their own children, and they‘re going to see little aspects of their kids in the accuser that makes it easy for them to go the next step.  The jurors I found were most strongly pro defense were those who either had either grown children or no children at all. 

ABRAMS:  You know, one that I thought was very interesting was juror number eight, because I thought this was a solidly pro-prosecution juror, as did Susan and Daniel, but not David Tunno.  Let‘s go through this person.

Forty-two-year-old married white woman, mother of four, special education aide with an Associates Degree, has a brother-in-law in prison.  Her sister was a victim of sexual assault at 12 years old, knew very little about the case.

David Tunno, the fact—what struck me about juror number eight here and the reason that I think this juror could be very, very good for the prosecution here is that she has a sister who was a victim of sexual assault at 12 years old, but didn‘t talk about it until she was in her 30‘s and that could be very consistent with what we saw here in this case, which is a victim who was reluctant initially to come forward, but who eventually did and someone who could understand that I think is very useful to prosecutors. 

TUNNO:  That‘s a perfectly good position with that set of facts.  Where I pegged her as a possible defense juror is her—was her answers to the child veracity, child-lying questions.  She was very verbose, much more so than most of the other jurors.  Ask her one question and she gives longwinded answers, paragraphs of answers on that subject.  So I thought the defense probably left her on for that reason, that she went on and on about how children can lie and they can be influenced by their parents and that of course is central theme for the defense. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right look...

FILAN:  Dan...

ABRAMS:  ... the bottom line here is that...

FILAN:  Dan, can I say one thing?

ABRAMS:  You can—hang on one second.  I‘ve got to wrap it up, Susan.  The bottom line here is that you know you see four different people look at these prospective jurors, tell you four different things, and you know, who knows.  But it seems that no one thinks that this is an all prosecution or all defense jury.  We shall see.  I‘m here until we get a verdict in this case.  Susan, Daniel, David, thanks a lot. 

Coming up, he disappeared almost two months ago, but now a man and his daughter say they spotted a missing Pennsylvania district attorney.  Really?  We‘re going to talk exclusively with his girlfriend up next. 

And one of the first terror cases to go to trial since 9/11 is underway.  Prosecutors say a Florida professor is also a terror leader.  His lawyers say the government is just going after him because he‘s Muslim and because of his views.  We debate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a potential break in the case of a missing Pennsylvania prosecutor.  A sighting in Michigan?  We‘ll talk with police and his girlfriend.  First the headlines.

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  What could be a huge development in the case of a district attorney who disappeared almost two months ago, police believe a new lead could mean that Ray Gricar, who vanished in April, is still alive.  Remember we brought you the story of the Pennsylvania prosecutor first went missing seven weeks ago, apparently told his girlfriend he was going for a drive, but never returned home. 

Investigators later found his car, searched the surrounding area, looked into his medical, financial records, didn‘t really come up with anything.  Many speculated he could have committed suicide, just as his brother had almost a decade earlier, but there was no proof of that either.  Police say they have their best lead in the case. 

A man and his daughter say they are sure they saw Ray Gricar at a restaurant in Michigan not far from the Canadian border about two weeks ago.  The witnesses told police Gricar was with an older woman, were able to positively identify his picture from a group of photos police showed them. 

Joining me now is Officer Darrel Zaccagni with the Bellefonte Police Department and Ray Gricar‘s girlfriend, who is the last person we know of to hear from him, Patty Fornicola.  Thank you both very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.

All right, Officer Zaccagni, you‘ve gotten a number of phone calls from people saying oh, I think I saw him, I think I saw him.  It seems that you‘ve discounted almost all of them, and yet from what I‘ve read, it sounds like you‘re taking this one pretty seriously. 

OFFICER DARREL ZACCAGNI, BELLEFONTE POLICE DEPT. :  Well that‘s not quite accurate.  We haven‘t discounted any of the sightings.  Almost every sighting that we‘ve received we‘ve tried to check out as thoroughly as possible and we‘ve been able to rule them out as being accurate sightings. 

ABRAMS:  Right, so you discounted them, right?

ZACCAGNI:  Well yes, but not discounted them in the sense that we just ignored them.  We checked into them...

ABRAMS:  I don‘t mean - I—yes I apologize if you thought that I meant that.  I merely meant that you were able to investigate them and to the best of your knowledge, found that they weren‘t accurate.

ZACCAGNI:  Yes, that‘s correct. 

ABRAMS:  And so...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... what is it about this one that makes it different?

ZACCAGNI:  Well when we did the Wilkes-Barre sighting—and we haven‘t totally ruled Wilkes-Barre out as a valid sighting also—we used a procedure where they identified the individual from what they‘d seen on TV and then we showed them a single photograph of Ray for further identification and they readily identified that individual or that picture as being Ray.  When we started talking with the state police about this matter, Sergeant Byron (ph) thought about doing—possibly doing a lineup, using Ray‘s picture rather than just one picture because people would have a tendency to already want to be helpful because they contacted us about the matter to say that they believed they saw him, and when we‘d show that single photograph, you know, they‘re even more sure it was him. 

I then went with—to Ralph Ralston, State College police and he put together a lineup for me using Ray‘s picture.  We sent this lineup to the Southfield Police Department where they contacted the individual who initially contacted us about possibly seeing Ray within the restaurant.  He then reviewed that lineup and immediately picked out Ray‘s picture out of the eight photos that were in the lineup, rather than just a single identification photo. 

ABRAMS:  So let me ask you this, had they seen his picture before they went to the restaurant and sat there at dinner saying to themselves, oh, my, that‘s the missing prosecutor, or did they have dinner, go home, see a picture on television and say, hey didn‘t we see that guy at dinner. 

ZACCAGNI:  Well actually what happened, the gentleman was eating dinner with his daughter.  He observed the individual we believe to be Ray or hope to be Ray at this point also having dinner with another lady, he had eye contact with him and as he sat there throughout the course of the meal, his vision naturally went back towards him, and he had discussions with his daughter about this guy looks really familiar, I know him from someplace, I‘ve seen him before. 

At the end of the dinner, the gentleman walked past the witness, they had eye contact again, and the individual said hello and Ray said hello, the two of them exchanged pleasantries and continued on their way.  It happened that night then that he went home, still baffled on who this individual was, where he knew him from, and he was watching a news program who happened to be airing a segment where Patty was interviewed and as soon as he saw the picture flash up, he said, well that‘s, you know that‘s the gentleman from the restaurant. 

ABRAMS:  Wow.

ZACCAGNI:  He called his daughter and she looked at it and apparently said, yes, that‘s him.  So then he contacted us through our police department number...

ABRAMS:  All right.

ZACCAGNI:  ... and we just backtracked it that way.

ABRAMS:  Wow.  All right.  So Patty, let me ask you, you‘re hearing that it‘s possible that he‘s alive, having dinner with some woman in a restaurant, you know that would mean that he hasn‘t contacted you, is that possible?  I mean based on your relationship with him, based on what you knew of him? 

PATTY FORNICOLA, RAY GRICAR‘S GIRLFRIEND:  Not based on Ray that I knew prior to April 15.  If my feeling is if Ray is in Michigan, if this individual is Ray, then something could be going on that he doesn‘t feel comfortable contacting me.  The Ray prior to April 14 I believe would contact me. 

ABRAMS:  And that is based on the fact that—how long had you known him?  Let me ask you that. 

FORNICOLA:  We had been dating at that point about three and a half years. 

ABRAMS:  So you knew him quite well.  I mean this is not someone you had just started dating.  I mean three and a half years...

FORNICOLA:  No.

ABRAMS:  ... you know this is a man you knew very well. 

FORNICOLA:  That‘s correct.  That‘s correct.  And he was always, he wouldn‘t be home, he would call.  If he would be late, he would call.  So his not calling is unusual.  But like I said, this whole case, for lack of a better word, is unusual, so it wouldn‘t surprise me. 

ABRAMS:  And I think what‘s important about what you‘re saying is, because sometimes in some of these cases we see people insist, there‘s no way X person or Y person could do this or that.  You‘re basically saying look, you know, based on what I knew at the time, I can‘t imagine him having done something like this, but you‘re not ruling it out, because you just don‘t know what‘s happening, why he‘s there, if it‘s him, or more about the situation. 

FORNICOLA:  Exactly.  Exactly.  And you know, none of us, the Bellefonte police, myself or any of the other agencies thought that anything like this would be possible, so anymore, to me, anything is possible. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well, boy this is really—I was stunned, I have

to tell you both when I heard this news that the—that you—that

Officer Zaccagni and the others there were taking it so seriously.  This is

·         look it‘s good news, if it is him.  We‘ll continue to follow it.  Keep up the good work Officer.  Thanks very much for coming on the program.  And Patty, good luck, you know, we‘re wishing you all the best and let‘s just hope it is him and that somehow there‘s an explanation for all this.  And we‘ll stay on top of it.  Appreciate it. 

FORNICOLA:  Thank you very much. 

ZACCAGNI:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the government says this professor is a terrorist.  They‘ve been tracking him for decades.  His lawyer says he‘s just an academic with strong political views.  He is on trial here in the United States facing life in prison. 

And the Reverend Jesse Jackson upset with my tour of the Santa Barbara County jail, where Michael Jackson could go if he‘s convicted.  A lot of you weighed in on it. 

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, a courtroom battle in Florida.  The government says the defendant is a terror leader.  His lawyers say he‘s a mild-mannered professor.  We‘ve got the story, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Would you say that you support the Islamic jihad factions? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No, we don‘t support any political groups at all. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Former University of South Florida Professor Sami Al-Arian telling terrorism expert Steve Emerson in 1994 that he was a peaceful activist, denying that his so-called charities were supporting a savage Mideast terror group, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.  Suicide attacks in Israel and the occupied territories have claimed more than 150 lives, including at least two Americans. 

I think it‘s fair to say that Steve didn‘t really believe him, neither did the U.S. government, which have been keeping tabs on Al-Arian at least since 1988.  And now he‘s on trial, facing a possible life sentence on a 53-count indictment.  Charges including conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to murder, maim or injure persons at places outside of the United States, conspiracy to provide support to a terrorist organization like the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.  Conspiracy to make and receive contributions for benefit of specially designated terrorists, obstruction of justice, perjury.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Walter Furr said—quote—“this is an elitist little group of people, all highly educated, trying to convince people to go kill themselves on their behalf.  But William Moffitt, one of Al-Arian‘s attorneys, compares his client to one of the world‘s great heroes who has seemingly cited these days by just about every criminal defendant, -- quote—“now Nelson Mandela is a hero for having supported his people.  Sami Al-Arian is a villain for being the voice of the Palestinian people.

Joining us now, terrorism expert Steve Emerson, who produced the documentary “Jihad in America” which included that interview excerpt with Sami Al-Arian; and criminal defense attorney Randy Hamud, who has met Al-Arian and has followed this case closely.  Gentlemen, thanks very much for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

All right, Steve, bottom line, make the case here.  I mean what they say is this is just a guy who the government isn‘t even accusing of physically harming anyone, that he didn‘t plan any terror attacks, and that they‘re just going after him, they say, because of his political views. 

STEVE EMERSON, TERRORISM EXPERT:  Dan, if this was a white militia case or an organized crime case, a mafia case, it‘d be open and shut.  The equivalent would be them yelling that this is persecution of the mob or white militia because of their political views.  The reality is he operated the Islamic Jihad.  They operated conferences.

They put out posters, communiqu’s.  He solicited funds directly for the Islamic Jihad—I‘m looking at one here that says he‘s looking for money from overseas to carry out operations like double suicide bombings.  He actually was introduced at an Islamic Jihad conference in Cleveland, when the person introducing him said this person in front of me, Mr. Al-Arian, paraphrasing, is the head of the Islamic Jihad.  Now turn off all your cameras. 

So if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, it‘s a duck.  This guy has been involved in conspiracy to commit murder from the late 1980‘s up until the early 2000 period and frankly, the fact that some people would say that he is a victim of political persecution is outrageous and an offense against all victims of terrorism. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  And Randy, my concern is that those who are defending Al-Arian are really just trying to defend Palestinian suicide bombings. 

RANDY HAMUD, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  No, you can‘t go that far, Dan.  He‘s being charged with crimes.  They‘re defending a criminal defendant facing a 53-count indictment that‘s 157 pages long, that goes back to 1994 and in an overreach of conspiracy allegations, no one thing, the conspirators, did they accuse him of conspiring with.  They‘re not sitting at defendant‘s table.  The fact is and the alleged intercepted communications involve five other people who are not even in the courtroom...

ABRAMS:  ... so what...

HAMUD:  We need a little justice to be done here.

ABRAMS:  ... that happens all the time. 

HAMUD:  We need to have—oh, no, we need to have a trial here, allegations...

ABRAMS:  Well that‘s what we‘re having. 

HAMUD:  ... are not facts.  Allegations are not convictions.  This man has not been convicted and we‘re supposed to presume him to be innocent until proved otherwise. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, well...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... if that‘s the best defense—Randy, if that‘s the best defense you can do, this guy‘s in a lot of trouble.  I‘ll tell you that right now.  I mean you know...

HAMUD:  ... the government has to prove the case.  We don‘t have to prove his innocence.  The government has to prove he‘s guilty of something...

(CROSSTALK)

HAMUD:  ... beyond a reasonable doubt. 

ABRAMS:  All right...

HAMUD:  You have your mind made up.  Mr. Emerson has him mind made up, but just remember Mr. Emerson said that Middle Easterners were responsible for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, too, so he‘s been wrong before.  Maybe everybody‘s wrong...

ABRAMS:  Yes...

HAMUD:  We don‘t know until a trial...

(CROSSTALK)

HAMUD:  ... over and the jury decides.

ABRAMS:  All right.  All right...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  If that‘s all you can say about it, then I‘m going to stick with Steve on this one...

HAMUD:  I think that‘s adequate. 

ABRAMS:  He was also...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  All right.  Steve was also the one who before 9/11 was saying, it‘s coming, it‘s coming, it‘s coming, and Islamic terrorists are going to hit us, and 9/11 came, and he was one of the only ones screaming about it at the time.  All right, let me play a piece of sound...

HAMUD:  Mr. Emerson‘s been an Arab baiter for a long time and a Muslim hater, so come on, give me a break...

EMERSON:  Oh Randy...

(CROSSTALK)

EMERSON:  Randy, take a Valium here.  Come on...

(CROSSTALK)

EMERSON:  Randy, listen, cool down here. 

(CROSSTALK)

EMERSON:  This is not about Arab baiting...

HAMUD:  Well I‘m not...

EMERSON:  This is not about Palestinian bashing.  This is about calling a terrorist a terrorist who actually—who glorified jihad, who glorified the killing of civilians, who was responsible in large part for the killing of people like Elisa Frado (ph), a young 16-year-old girl from Brandeis University, 20-year-old girl from Brandeis, who was killed in 1996.  Frankly, it‘s offensive to hear someone say that these people are the victims as opposed to perpetrators. 

HAMUD:  He is on trial...

ABRAMS:  All right, Steve, let me play this...

HAMUD:  He‘s entitled to a fair trial...

ABRAMS:  All right...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  All right.  He‘ll get a...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  All right.  He‘ll get a fair trial.  All right.  All right. 

All right.

HAMUD:  Absolutely, that‘s what we want...

ABRAMS:  He‘ll get a fair trial.  All right...

HAMUD:  ... a fair trial...

ABRAMS:  OK, don‘t worry, Randy...

HAMUD:  Welcome to America.  Welcome to America...

ABRAMS:  OK. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Here was Al-Arian on MSNBC a few years back. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAMI AL-ARIAN, ALLEGED TERROR FUNDRAISER:  I‘m against the killing of civilians in pizza parlors and campuses, bus stations, and refugee camps.  I‘ve made these positions very clear.  At the same time, I support the right of the Palestinian people to resist occupation.  And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) occupation are legitimate targets for resistance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  All right, so Steve, basically he‘s saying, I‘m not funding terrorists and you‘re saying, and the government is saying, is that there‘s a lot of evidence, that he was helping funnel a lot of money to pure terror groups, right?

EMERSON:  That‘s why terrorists call themselves freedom fighters.  Because they don‘t recognize and won‘t admit the fact that the people they‘re killing are civilians.  That‘s—it‘s a defense.  It‘s rational from their point of view, but the reality is that people that are being blown up are the ones in pizza parlors, are the children in buses, are older men and wives and ladies and all types of civilians who are congregating on streets.  So they are killing people and they want to kill civilians only.  And that‘s what Islamic Jihad did as a specialty.  It didn‘t have a charitable arm.  It didn‘t have a hospital (UNINTELLIGIBLE).  It didn‘t have a youth league.  All it did was decapitate people or blow them up and that‘s what Al-Arian was in charge of in the United States.

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  All right, we shall see.  Don‘t worry Randy...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  ... he‘s going to get his fair trial.  Don‘t worry.  Don‘t worry.  He‘ll get his fair trial...

HAMUD:  I hope he does...

ABRAMS:  We‘re not jurors, Randy. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  Don‘t worry.  Don‘t worry.  We don‘t have the power to take away his freedom, neither I do.  Steve doesn‘t either.  None of my viewers do.  Just the jurors who were told not to watch anything about the case, so don‘t worry Randy.

HAMUD:  And that‘s what‘s important...

ABRAMS:  Steve Emerson and Randy Hamud—I know.  We love this...

Coming up, we continue to get e-mails about my conversation with former sheriff Jim Thomas at the jail where Michael Jackson will likely go if he‘s convicted.  The Reverend Jesse Jackson turned it into a national debate.  Now you weigh in as well.  Your e-mails are next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Many of you writing in about the controversy here at the courthouse after my tour of the Santa Barbara county jail where Michael Jackson will likely go first if he is convicted.  Yesterday Reverend Jesse Jackson called our story a sort of psychological warfare against Michael Jackson, seemingly blaming the former sheriff for giving us the tour.

From Arizona, Luis Gonzalez, “I found your tour of the facilities where Mr. Jackson will be incarcerated if convicted to be most uncalled for.  You were a reporter and not an attorney when you did this.”   

That‘s right, Luis, I am hosting a show, not practicing law when I visit the jail with a camera crew. 

But Laura Shanley from Indiana with an interesting observation.  “I can recall you doing an almost identical story during the Scott Peterson about his possible future accommodations and Jesse Jackson didn‘t freak out then.”

Katie Harris from here in California, “I‘m 21 today and my birthday wish is for the whole silly Michael Jackson circus to be over.”  Well Katie, we wish we could have given you your birthday wish.  It did not happen today.  Happy birthday, but we‘ll see.  

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

Coming up, a little tip to anyone or one person in particular dumb enough to try to steal a police car.  “OH PLEAs!” is next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Actually, we are out of time.  That does it for us tonight.  We will be back tomorrow waiting for the verdict.  Waiting, waiting, waiting.  I‘m here until it happens.  Thanks for watching.  See you tomorrow.

END

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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