updated 6/15/2005 2:41:38 PM ET 2005-06-15T18:41:38

Guest: Ruben Trapenberg, Raymond Hultman, Melissa Herard, Tammy Bolton

DAN ABRAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Coming up, he delivered a powerful closing argument, but it wasn‘t enough to save the prosecution‘s case against Michael Jackson.  Prosecutor Ron Zonen joins us live to talk about what happened. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  It seems the jurors agreed the accuser‘s mother was a big problem for prosecutors.  But what do they really think about Michael Jackson?  Has he molested children in the past?  Several of the jurors join us live. 

Plus, police frantically search a new area in Aruba for missing Alabama teen Natalee Holloway after a man in custody tells police where he says Natalee was really dropped off the night she disappeared. 

The program about justice starts now. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Hi, everyone. 

Before we get to our interviews in the Michael Jackson case, breaking news in the search for the missing American girl in Aruba, Natalee Holloway.  Authorities are focusing their search for Natalee on an area near the island‘s Marriott Hotel as we speak, after receiving a tip from a local man.  Police boats are searching offshore.  Dogs searching the brush.  Dozens of investigators combing the entire area.  Natalee‘s family is at the scene. 

NBC‘s Martin Savidge joins us from there, as well, with the latest. 

So, Martin, what was this tip? 

MARTIN SAVIDGE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well, the tip was an article of clothing that was discovered.  There was a volunteer search that was taking place. 

Let‘s just show you something happening now in the background there.  You may see a fire truck.  They are pumping water out of a drainage culvert.  It is just one of the areas down there that they‘re focusing on, trying to see if there is anything there. 

Anyway, volunteer search underway earlier today.  The volunteer finds a couple of things, a pair of women‘s underwear, electrical tape and packages of condoms, but not all in the same place, spread out all over.  Thinks they are significant, notifies police.  Police say, “Yes, we ought to take a look.” 

So then they descend on the area.  And they basically cordon the whole place off, brought in the search dogs with the FBI, search boats out in the water, and went through the area with a fine-tooth comb.  We have not been told of anything else being discovered, and the creek seems to be the last place they are focused right now.

So is it a breakthrough?  It doesn‘t appear to be.  Was it a tip?  Yes.  That‘s what it was, but now it‘s another one that seems to have gone nowhere—Dan?

ABRAMS:  Very quickly, Martin.  One of the security guards who had been arrested reportedly has said that one of the other three suspects who are in custody told him, “We dropped off Natalee and that young Dutch boy in a particular area at the beach.  That‘s the last we saw of them.”  Is this that same area? 

SAVIDGE:  That is that same area, but keep in mind there are—the Dutch boy has told authorities that, “You know what?  I got dropped off at home, and the two Surinam boys took Natalee away.”  So it‘s the he said/they said syndrome. 

But you‘re right.  This is one of the areas that it was believed that Natalee Holloway might have been at the night she vanished. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Martin, we‘re going to come back to you later in the program.  Thanks a lot.  We‘re going to keep on top of this search throughout this hour.  And later, we‘ll be talking with some relatives of Natalee, as well, to an official with the Aruban government. 

Back now to the Michael Jackson case.  Today, for the first time in more than a year, Michael Jackson woke up without the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence looming over his head, a free man, truly free, after jurors acquitted him on every charge.  We‘ve got with us the man who delivered the closing argument for the prosecution. 

But, first, at a press conference yesterday, the jurors summed up the prosecution‘s case, the prosecutor‘s case. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAULINE COCCOZ, JACKSON JUROR #10:  We expected, probably, better evidence, you know, something that was a little more convincing.  And it just wasn‘t there. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  Obviously, that was one of the jurors.  The jurors seemed to lay much of the blame on the accuser‘s mother who they just didn‘t trust. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELISSA KATHLEEN HERARD, JACKSON CASE JUROR:  As a mother to—the values and stuff that she has taught them, and they‘ve learned.  And that is really hard for me to comprehend, you know?  Because I wouldn‘t want any of my children to lie for their own gain. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  They pointed to other problems.  In the end, the jurors said prosecutors left too much room for reasonable doubt.  So what went wrong? 

Joining us now is the senior assistant deputy attorney, Ron Zonen, who was one of the lead prosecutors and delivered a powerful closing argument.  He joins me now. 

Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  What happened?  What happened?

RON ZONEN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY IN JACKSON CASE:  Well, we knew going into this case that it was going to be a difficult case.  All child molest cases are problematic.  There are rarely witnesses who watch what‘s going on.  It‘s hardly ever videotaped, these events.  And it‘s often the testimony of a child against an adult.  And in this case, the adult that he was against was not just a celebrity but an international superstar. 

ABRAMS:  So you think it was celebrity?  You think that was the issue?

ZONEN:  I think that was a good part of it, certainly. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  What, that the jurors were intimidated by him, that they were saying, “Oh, Michael Jackson, we can‘t put him away”? 

ZONEN:  I don‘t think that they were so much intimidated, but a little bit star-struck, possibly, certainly.  I mean, it‘s been our experience that prosecuting people who are of great advantage, people who are celebrities, people who have a long way to fall, should they be convicted, that juries are reluctant to do that unless the case is very, very solid.  And there seems to be a higher level of commitment required on the part of the prosecution. 

ZONEN:  I don‘t know that it wasn‘t that solid.  It‘s like all child molest cases come in.  You have a child who makes an accusation against a person.  In this case, it was an accusation that was consistent with accusations that had been made against him previously. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:  You must have known beyond just this being a child molest case that this was a family with problems.  This is a mother who, you had to know, was going to cause some problems. 

ZONEN:  We rarely, rarely have children who are coming from families of great pedigree on cases like this.  That just doesn‘t happen that often.  We have children who come from families often where their families are not able to protect them, and that‘s what makes kids vulnerable to this kind of assault.  So this was not unusual for us at all.  Not at all.

ABRAMS:  By the end of this case, I think many, including me, were getting the sense that many in your camp, many even in the Jackson camp, were thinking that he really might get convicted of one of the most serious charges. 

ZONEN:  I went into this trial hoping he would be convicted of at least one of the most serious charges and believed that that was a possibility, up until the time that they read the verdict. 

ZONEN:  I was somewhat surprised, yes.  I believe that we had proven the case. 

ABRAMS:  Let me play a piece of sound from Tom Mesereau.  This is him speaking on the “Today” show today, summarizing the case in his view. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM MESEREAU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL JACKSON:  They put on witnesses who were lacking in credibility.  They did everything they could to try and hold them up in ways that just didn‘t make any sense.  A lot of their theories and arguments made no sense.  And they didn‘t have a case.  And Michael Jackson‘s innocent. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZONEN:  Well, I‘m not going to criticize Thomas Mesereau.  I thought he did an effective job in this case.  He‘s a good lawyer.  He‘s very talented, and he got the result that he wanted for his client.  He should be commended for his efforts. 

We felt that we had a credible case.  We certainly believed the accusations of this child had a ring of truth to it when he came forward, and it was entirely consistent with statements of other kids who had made the same accusation against Mr. Jackson.  I think it would have been irresponsible of us not to have brought this trial. 

ABRAMS:  I‘m going to play a piece of sound from a couple of the jurors who are talking about the mother in this case.  And then I want to ask you a question about a strategic move you made in the closing argument with regard to the mother. 

ZONEN:  OK.

ABRAMS:  Let‘s listen.  Here are the jurors talking about the mother of the accuser.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PAULINE COCCOZ, JACKSON JUROR #10:  What mother in her right mind would allow that to happen?  You know, just freely volunteer your child, you know, to sleep with someone, and not just so much Michael Jackson, but any person for that matter? 

MARY KENNEDY, JACKSON JUROR #5:  I disliked it intensely when she snapped her fingers at us.  That‘s what I thought, “Don‘t snap your fingers at me, lady.”

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)  

ABRAMS:  I mean, we could go on and on with the pieces of sound about the mother.  They didn‘t like this mother at all. 

And I remember saying, as you were delivering your closing argument, I don‘t know why Ron Zonen is defending this mother‘s credibility so much, meaning I thought that you should have just basically said—and I know there must have been a debate within your office to a certain degree as to how to deal with this—but I thought maybe you should just say, “You know what?  All right, she may have some problems.  We are not going to sit here and justify everything she has done in her past.”  But instead what you did was, you did try and justify, and say, “Look, we‘re not going to concede that this is a problematic mother.”

ZONEN:  There have been a number of mothers whose children have spent enormous amounts of time in Michael Jackson‘s bedroom.  Of all of them, this particular mother was the one who got her kids out of there the fastest.  She had her kids out of there within 36 hours after learning that Michael Jackson had been administering alcohol to her son. 

I thought that was to her credit.  She is poorly educated.  She is a woman who has gone through many, many years of abuse by a very abusive husband.  She shows all the manifestations of that kind of treatment in her, and yet she intuitively understood that she had to get her kids out of Neverland. 

That was against all of the other mothers who have fed their children to Michael Jackson in exchange for the riches that that‘s awarded them.  I thought that this particular mother earned some credit by at least understanding intuitively that there was a problem there. 

ZONEN:  They are disappointed, particularly this young man.  But you know, he‘s very squared away today.  He‘s doing quite well, something Mr.  Mesereau would never concede.  He‘s an honor student in high school.  He plays on the football team.  This is a child with only one kidney, and that kidney only functions at about 60 percent.  And he‘s playing football today.  He‘s in scouting.  He‘s been in scouting for three years.  He‘s graduated from military leadership academy.  He‘s doing quite well, quite well.

ABRAMS:  Any tears, any tears when you were talking to him? 

ZONEN:  No, no tears, certainly disappointment. 

ABRAMS:  Are they angry at Michael Jackson? 

ZONEN:  No, no, they are not angry, either.  They are not angry, either.  This is a young man who demonstrated tremendous courage.  He came forward.  He knew he was facing an international superstar.  He knew that there were going to be a lot of people who wouldn‘t believe him.  He knew his mother was going to be attacked viciously.  He knew he was going to be attacked viciously.  And he felt he need to do this. 

ABRAMS:  The mother said repeatedly she doesn‘t want Michael Jackson‘s money.  Any chance she‘s going to sue now? 

ZONEN:  I don‘t think so.  I don‘t think there‘s any indication.  I‘ve never heard word one from anybody in that family that they were interested in...

(CROSSTALK)  

ABRAMS:  So she‘s not going to say, “Look, if we can‘t get justice in the criminal system, we‘re going to go to the civil system”?

ZONEN:  I would be surprised if she said that.  I think that they want to get on with their lives.  And I know the boys certainly do.  What they want to do is play football.  They don‘t want to be back in court anymore.  They‘ve had enough of that.

ABRAMS:  What do you say to those who say that this entire case was a vendetta on the part of Tom Sneddon, that the D.A. here had always had it out for Michael Jackson, and this was going to be his ticket to get him? 

ZONEN:  You know, you have to be nuts to file a case like this on a motive like that.  These types of cases are very difficult.  They are very challenging, particularly for a small county like ours.  They are quite expensive.  They‘re quite cumbersome.  They can take away the top talent for the office for long periods of time.  Nobody wanted to do that. 

We have plenty of occasions where people are found not guilty or we‘re not able to file charges.  We don‘t keep them in the back of our minds for long periods of time, years on end, waiting for the opportunity to go after them again.  That never happened here.

Ten years ago, there were credible accusations from two young boys.  Mr. Jackson paid them enormous amounts of money to make them go away.  Ten years later, another child comes along saying exactly the same thing.  What are we supposed to do, not file a case like that because somebody might be critical of us?  They‘d be more critical of us if we didn‘t pursue that type of case. 

ZONEN:  Well, I don‘t know at this moment if he is.  He certainly was a danger to children who were in his room over the period of years that he was inviting young boys into his room.  Whether he is at this moment, I don‘t know.  We‘ll see.

ABRAMS:  But you wouldn‘t recommend anyone going to Neverland with a child? 

ZONEN:  I wouldn‘t recommend leaving a child in his custody, no.  And nor would those jurors, I think. 

ABRAMS:  And we‘ll talk to them in a moment. 

Did you ever feel like you were walking into a visiting stadium, even though this is effectively your home court?  Everyday there are fans out there yelling, “Michael, we love you, Michael, Michael, Michael.”  And I know you guys didn‘t walk in the front all that often.  But did you feel like you were sort of the visiting team? 

ZONEN:  Not so much the visiting team.  I mean, the fans were a bit of a distraction, but nothing much more than that.  But walking into a courtroom and looking out in the audience, and seeing an audience filled with faces that I recognize from television, that was a little startling at first.  And that took a while to get used to.

ABRAMS:  Last question, any regrets? 

ZONEN:  No.  No, not at all. 

ABRAMS:  None?  Nothing about how you went about prosecuting it? 

ZONEN:  Well, there‘s rarely a case that, at the end, we don‘t sit back and say, “I would‘ve done something differently.”  And there are probably quite a few things I would have done differently if I had to do it over again on this one, too. 

ABRAMS:  But you would charge this case again and you‘d move forward again? 

ZONEN:  Oh, absolutely.  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  I mean, we—it would be much more difficult for me to live with myself if we had not done this.  If we had believed that there was a man who had molested not one, but a number of different boys, and we decided not to pursue this prosecution simply because he was an international superstar, that would be the difficult for me to live with forever, not a not guilty.  I can deal with that.  I‘ve had not guilty verdicts before. 

ABRAMS:  Ron Zonen, you argued a very good case. 

ZONEN:  Thank you very much.

ABRAMS:  And you gave it your best shot.  And I think we saw some very good lawyering on both sides of the case. 

ZONEN:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Thanks very much for taking the time.  We appreciate it. 

ZONEN:  My pleasure.  My pleasure.

ABRAMS:  Tomorrow night, we‘ll talk to Michael Jackson‘s lead attorney, Tom Mesereau.  That‘s Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up, the jurors join us.  We‘ve heard from the prosecution.  So what do the jurors say about where the prosecutors went wrong?  Three of them join me live, up next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC ANCHOR:  MSNBC keeps you up-to-the-minute every 15 minutes.  I‘m Milissa Rehberger with the latest. 

A sight-seeing helicopter crashed into the East River in New York moments after take-off from the Wall Street heliport today.  Officials say one of the seven people on board was seriously injured.  The others suffered minor injuries. 

A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a bank in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk.  At least 23 people were killed.  Meanwhile, a U.S. soldier was killed in a roadside bombing in Baghdad. 

And the Senate confirmed another one of President Bush‘s stalled judicial nominees.  Thomas Griffith will serve on the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington.  He is the sixth judge to win Senate approval since last month. 

That‘s it for now.  Let‘s go back to THE ABRAMS REPORT.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS MESEREAU, MICHAEL JACKSON‘S ATTORNEY:  Michael is a very kind-hearted, childlike person.  He has been too nice to too many people.  He has allowed people to come into his life and run freely through his home.  And that‘s going to change.  He‘s not going to make himself vulnerable to this anymore. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:  The jury has spoken.  The verdict is in.  Michael Jackson‘s attorney said Jackson will change his ways. 

Twelve people, virtual strangers at opening statements more than 15 weeks ago, deliberated Jackson‘s fate for over six days, returned not guilty verdicts on all counts.  What went on inside that jury room?  We‘re going to go right to the source.

Joining me now, three of the Jackson 12, Jackson juror number one, Raymond Hultman, juror number six, Tammy Bolton, and juror number eight, Melissa Herard. 

Thank you all for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

Let me say at the outset—and I said it on the program last night—that I thought, based on the facts in this case, as a legal matter, I believe you all reached the right verdict.  I said it last night on the program when you weren‘t here.  I‘ll now say it in front of you, as well. 

With that said—and let me go through it one-by-one—Mr. Hultman, let me start with you.  Before we talk about the verdict itself, do you think that Michael Jackson has ever molested a child? 

RAYMOND HULTMAN, JACKSON JUROR #1:  Well, I‘ve already expressed my views earlier today on that same subject.  And based on the evidence that I have reviewed from the early ‘90s, I think that it‘s quite possible that he has molested children. 

TAMMY BOLTON, JACKSON JUROR #6:  I don‘t.  I don‘t think it was proven to me.  The proof wasn‘t there, and I can‘t say I believe he‘s a child molester.  The proof wasn‘t there to prove it to me.  I wouldn‘t feel comfortable saying that. 

ABRAMS:  Melissa, what about that?  I mean, apart from the issue of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, apart from the question of did he molest this child, which is exactly what you were asked to do in this case, now that you have learned so much about Michael Jackson‘s past, do you believe, in your heart, that Michael Jackson has molested a child or children in the past? 

MELISSA HERARD, JACKSON JUROR #8:  No.  I really can‘t say that he has.  But actually, I think he‘s the only one who knows.  And...

HERARD:  The kids, if it had happened, then, of course, they would know.  But in my heart, I really can‘t say if he has molested in the past. 

ABRAMS:  You know, I was struck—and let me stay with you, Melissa -

·         I was struck by something that Ron Zonen said in his closing argument. 

He asked the question, are you comfortable with a middle-aged man who possesses this book—that was a book of pictures of naked young boys—getting into bed with a 13-year-old boy? 

And he was also talking about in the context of Michael Jackson having stacks of pornography in his bedroom, as well.  Are you comfortable with that?  He asked that question. 

HERARD:  Well, what Michael Jackson does in his own home with himself, that‘s his business.  I wouldn‘t, you know, be comfortable with him showing my children or any child, but that had to be—you know, that wasn‘t part of, you know, the counts against him.  So, yes, that would make me uncomfortable, if that was shown to my children. 

ABRAMS:  You see, Raymond, I guess what a lot of people thought was that, if the jurors believed, as it seems you do, that Michael Jackson had molested a child in the past, that the jury as a whole would have trouble having him walk out the door a free man. 

HULTMAN:  Well, I think I can respond to that by saying that I‘m not uncomfortable with the decision that we made.  I have my beliefs that I think have been developed on the basis of evidence that I‘ve been shown that Michael Jackson has molested children in the past.  But that conclusion goes only to show that I think maybe he had a pattern for doing this. 

We were instructed specifically to look at this evidence as only the possibility of that and not that it would go directly to proving the guilt in the current case. 

ABRAMS:  And that was it for you, right?  Meaning, it was the fact that you were specifically asked the question, not is Michael Jackson a child molester, but did he molest this child? 

HULTMAN:  That was the main evidence in this case, that—or the instruction in this case that would preclude that guilty conclusion, yes. 

ABRAMS:  Tammy, final question on this issue.  I‘d say some of the—like, for example, the youth pastor who came in and said—we‘re trying to not name names—and so, the youth pastor came in and said, “He molested me, Michael Jackson.” 

The defense hardly cross-examined him.  This sure seemed like a witness who was somewhat unassailable, yet even that witness didn‘t convince you when he said, “Michael Jackson molested me”? 

BOLTON:  I don‘t know that he convinced me that it actually happened.  We also had three boys who came in and said nothing happened.  And I believed them, that nothing happened.  And I don‘t want to say that I didn‘t believe Jason—oh, sorry. 

It was different circumstances, you know?  The pattern wasn‘t there for me.  It wasn‘t the same. 

ABRAMS:  But apart from the pattern, I guess what I‘m just trying to figure out is, you know, again, whether you think that Michael Jackson has ever molested a child.  And you said, no, that that had not been demonstrated to you.  And that‘s why I was focusing on that one witness, because I thought that he was particularly powerful. 

BOLTON:  He was.  I don‘t if—you know, I really don‘t know.  I don‘t know what to say about that.  I don‘t want to say I didn‘t believe him.  I can‘t say that I did.  I‘m kind of torn in his testimony. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Fair enough. 

BOLTON:  It wasn‘t proof. 

ABRAMS:  We‘ll take a break.  When we come back, was celebrity a factor in this verdict?  You heard the D.A., Ron Zonen, just say that he thought there were two things, that it was celebrity and it was the mother.  Do the jurors agree? 

Plus, new developments in the search for the American high school student missing in Aruba, Natalee Holloway.  Authorities are searching a new area on the island after receiving a new tip.  Really, are they any closer to finding Natalee? 

Plus, two hotel security guards being held in connection with the disappearance are released.  We‘ll hear from one of them, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the day after.  The jurors in the Michael Jackson case talking about why they acquitted Jackson on all counts.  First, the headlines.

MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC ANCHOR:  MSNBC keeps you up-to-the-minute every 15 minutes.  Hi, everyone.  I‘m Milissa Rehberger.  Here‘s the latest.

An autopsy is being performed on a 4-year-old boy who died after passing out onboard a ride at Walt Disney World yesterday.  He was riding “Mission:  Space” which sends riders into a giant centrifuge.  Disney reopened the ride after concluding it was functioning normally.

A federal judge has refused to intervene in the case of a young cancer patient.  The state took Katie Wernecke from her after her they refused to radiation treatment that was recommended by her doctors.  Lawyers for Katie‘s parents asked the federal courts for a temporary restraining order against the state so the family could maintain custody.

And financial forms show that former President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton have finally paid off all their legal debt.  The Clintons owed as much as $6.5 million in 2002 because of the six-year Whitewater probe and the impeachment investigation.

You‘re up to date, now, back to the THE ABRAMS REPORT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You mentioned the celebrity factor.  Do you think that played a key part?

TOM SNEDDON, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY D.A.:  It seems to us that maybe we‘re just looking for explanations in the wrong blaze places.  I don‘t know.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  It seems to us.  That‘s what it seemed to Ron Zonen, the D.A.  who was speaking to us a moment ago.  I am joined by three of the jurors in this case.  Raymond Hultman, Tammy Bolton and Melissa Herard.  All right.  Raymond, what about what about that.  I know the most obvious answer is no, his celebrity didn‘t have any impact.  Did you have any concerns looking at Michael Jackson about this guy, this superstar, but also this very weak, frail looking guy going to prison?

RAYMOND HULTMAN, JACKSON JUROR #1:  No, that really didn‘t enter buy my find mind.  I went buy this case separating the celebrity issues from all of the other issues and felt that I could weigh the evidence fairly.  Immediately upon going into the deliberation room, all of the jurors discussed this one more time, and assured one another that we were not going to let celebrity get in the way of the correct decision in this case.

ABRAMS:  Melissa, I‘m sure you have heard, a lot of people just aren‘t buying it.  You heard the D.A., he was saying the same thing, he was saying effectively, they can say it all they want, but the bottom line is if it hadn‘t been Michael Jackson the pop superstar there, might have been a conviction here.  What‘s your response?

MELISSA HERARD, JACKSON JUROR #8:  After—in the beginning, it was kind of intimidating for myself being there with Michael Jackson, but after sitting there day after day and watching him, watch everything too that was going on, it—it occurred to me he‘s just a human being, and that he is just a man, and when we went into the deliberation room, I think everybody understood this.  This is a case about a man, and I think with Michael Jackson being, you know, who he is, didn‘t really as much play a factor in this as we had to go on specific details that we had to, and laws that we had to abide by.

ABRAMS:  Tom Mesereau, the attorney for Michael Jackson, spoke earlier today about the mother, because all of you have said a number of times you had some concerns about the mother in this case.  Here‘s what he said.

TOM MESEREAU, JACKSON ATTORNEY (video clip):  She was not the only witness who lacked credibility.  I think her children, you know, testified, were contradicted repeatedly.  I think other witnesses that the prosecution called to bolster their case really fell apart completely.  It wasn‘t just her at all.  Their case had too many problems with it, because it wasn‘t true.

ABRAMS:  I know you all had concerns about the mother in this case, but did you not believe the boy?

HULTMAN:  Well, to be quite honest with you, I—I did initially believe the accuser‘s testimony when he interviewed with the sheriff‘s department.  When THAT was presented in the courtroom, it had quite an impact on me, it might have actually changed my views of the case.  And I think at the time I was viewing that particular video, I wasn‘t putting it entirely in the correct framework, and once we got into the deliberation room, and I offered my views on what I thought about the sheriff‘s interview, it was clearly, I think pointed out to me that several of the jurors had some really significant points and some reasonable doubt about the accusers‘ demeanor, and the fact that he was probably lying in his sheriff‘s department interview.

And I eventually came to that position that it was a possibility, and it was pointed out to me or I was reminded of several events that surrounded the sheriff‘s interview, in addition to the numerous lies that had been told by this particular accuser, and his whole family, and it just opened the door to me for the possibility of reasonable doubt.

ABRAMS:  Very quickly, did you all have a vote, where you had to basically raise your hand and say initially that you were voting to convict?

HERARD:  No.

TAMMY BOLTON, JACKSON JUROR:  No.  We did it anonymously.  And we didn‘t make it guilty, not guilty.  We gave the opportunity for people to not disclose and to say they still questioned it, and we just needed a grounds to start out on, and ...

ABRAMS:  So what was the anonymous vote number when you first came out, not knowing who had said what?  What was the sense in terms of numbers initially, Tammy?

BOLTON:  We were really split.  I think when I first saw those numbers, I thought, oh, my goodness, we‘re going to be here for a very long time.  They were all over the place.

BOLTON:  Some, others were—were, you know, four to seven to three, you know.  Sorry.  That‘s more than 12.

ABREAMS:  All right.  Four to seven to three would be interesting.

BOLTON:  I‘m giving you an example.

ABRAMS:  I understand.  Raymond Hultman, Tammy Bolton and Melissa Herard, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

HULTMAN:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, authorities have a new tip in connection with the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway in Aruba.  They are searching a new area on the island, a report that a pair of underwear has been found as well.  We have the latest coming up, plus two suspects being held in connection with the case released.  We‘ll hear from one of them up next.

Your e-mails, abramsreport@ msnbc.com.  Please, include your name, where you‘re writing from.  Remember, 7+4+3 - I‘m just joking.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REHBERGER:  MSNBC keeps you up to the minute every 15 minutes.  I‘m Milissa Rehberger.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says he will schedule a vote at the end of the week to cut off debate on U.S. ambassador nominee John Bolton.  Meanwhile, Democrats say the White House stills refuses to release classified information on Bolton which they say is vital to see before voting on this confirmation.

President Bush traveled to Penn State University to promote his plan to partially privatize Social Security.  He spoke at a convention of the Future Farmers of America, and Phil Jackson is returning to coax the L.A.  Lakers following a reconciliation with the team that fired him a year ago. 

Jackson had won three NBA championships in five years with the Lakers. 

That‘s it for now.  Let‘s go back to THE ABRAMS REPORT.

ABRAMS:  I have breaking news to report in the case of Natalee Holloway.  She‘s been missing for more than two weeks, and armed with new information fresh from the jailhouse, where three suspects are still being held, the search for her on the island of Aruba has intensified.  Searchers are now focused on a beach area near the Marriott Hotel.  A pair of women‘s underwear has apparently been found there.  No word if it‘s connected to Natalee.

All of this follows the release of two hotel security guards who were the first to be held in connection with her disappearance.  Still being questioned by police, 17-year-old Dutch student Joran Van der Sloot and two brothers from Suriname, Deack and Satish Lalpoe.  The brothers had told authorities that the night Natalee disappeared “they brought Natalee to a landmark lighthouse, but didn‘t get out of the car.  They saw Natalee and Van der Sloot kissing in the back seat.  They dropped Natalee off if he Holiday Inn around 2:00 a.m.  And they left as a man in a security guard‘s uniform approached her.  One of the security guards released last night, Antonius Mickey John (ph) says one of the brothers told him a different story in jail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (video clip):  He told me that the story about dropping off at the Holiday Inn was all made up.  He told me he is innocent because he dropped the Dutch guy with the missing girl close to the Marriott, he and his brother went home.

ABRAMS:  Wow.  Well, that‘s sort of explosive.  Joining me once again, NBC‘s Martin Savidge is in Aruba, we also got on the phone former FBI profiler Clint van Zandt, who now is an MSNBC analyst.  So this guy, this guy who is being held is basically saying two of the guys who were in custody or at least one of them told me a different story than they are apparently telling police.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, NBC NEWS:  And it‘s something we‘ve known.  The fact that these two groups.  Have you two brothers, you can almost consider them one suspect, because you have got two brothers, then you have the 17-year-old, and they are telling different versions of events coming from apparently the same night when they were all supposed to be together, and that has been the tough nut to crack for authorities here.

It‘s also rather interesting how you had these former security guards when they were being held as suspects in the case mixing in the same environment with other suspects in the case, and, yet, at the time, they didn‘t know it, and that‘s for prosecutors and lawyers to figure out later, but that‘s fascinating.  But anyway, you‘re right this is the story that‘s believed that the 17-year-old and Natalee may have been dropped off in the area where this search is taking place, and so the appetite for authorities was already whetted, but on top of that today, you have the discovery of this article of clothing, and you put two and two together, and they finally say, we better go into this specific site and check it over with a fine-tooth comb and that‘s exactly what they have been doing, even down to pumping out a drainage ditch to see if there is anything there as well, so that‘s how it all came together this afternoon.

ABRAMS:  Before I ask, Clint van Zandt what they could be asking for in the drainage ditch, had an exclusive interview with the mother of this 17-year-old Dutch boy back on Friday.  Here‘s what she told us about her son.

ANITA VAN DER SLOOT, SUSPECT‘S MOTHER (video clip):  He told us certain details that he told the police too, because from the beginning he said to us that he was innocent, and he only wanted to help, he is a very consistent in his story.

ABRAMS:  All right.  So, Clint van Zandt, where are we in terms of this investigation?  Are we at that moment of truth, where at any moment the case is going to get broken?

CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST (on phone):  It seems like, Dan, the only thing that‘s consistent right now is the inconsistency in the stories between as martin says between the two brothers and the 17-year-old Dutch boy.  As an investigator and I know for yourself as an attorney, is a good point, because the story is starting to come unraveled.  The question is it was it one person, two people, three, did they have anything to do with her disappearance?  And perhaps in a worst case, her demise, but this is the challenge that‘s going on for authorities right now, and I think as the mother has said on as Ms. Holloway‘s mother said on some other programs, the Dutch, it‘s a different society the way they conduct their interviews is not as aggressive accident perhaps, as we would do in America, and I think it‘s very frustrating for the American authorities who can only witness and not participate.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Martin Savidge and Clint van Zandt, thank you very much.  Please, Martin come right back on if you have anything few for us.  Coming up being we‘ll talk to an Aruban government official and try to get answers on exactly what is going on there, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHARLES RAFINI, FOUND CLOTHING ON BEACH:  I know it‘s something from a girl.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Where did you find that?

RAFINI:  I found it over there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Where the police are right now?

RAFINI:  Yeah.  Like there.  I found all these three things yesterday, and tonight we find one thing too.  I don‘t know.  I was just going to give this to the police and see what they are going to do.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  And that is exactly what they did, although they don‘t know if its connected to the Natalee Holloway case.  Joining me now is Ruben Trapenberg, who is a spokesman for the Aruban government.  Thanks very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.

Can you give us a sense of where things stand in terms of the investigation?  It seems they are now searching in a new area, near the Marriott Hotel.  Is that a direct result of that man finding the underwear or is it also a result of that security guard who says that one of the guys being held says that they dropped Natalee and that Dutch boy off in that same area?

RUBEN TRAPENBERG, ARUBAN GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN:  The difficult thing, Dan, is that we don‘t get confirmation on what leads they are working on.  What we are assured is that they are working all possible leads, so you have the—what the guy that just came out of jail said, and then have you someone finding a piece of clothing.  There is the ongoing search, and that went on the whole weekend.  This, unfortunately, seems to be close to the hotel area.  Is it a regular way for police to get - cover the whole area?  We don‘t really know.  At this point it‘s a little difficult to find out exactly what is going on.

ABRAMS:  Have you been able to determine if that‘s Natalee‘s underwear?

TRAPENBERG:  No, not at this point.  Even if we found out immediately, we would not be notified that quickly.  If it‘s part of the investigation, again, again, it will be difficult to reveal that information, because it would not only compromise the investigation, but the court proceedings, that is considered a grave error to give that kind of information out it probably would only go up to about the family.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me ask you a question I think you can answer.  That was a point being made a moment ago by Clint van Zandt who questioned why the two suspects who were arrested initially, these two security guards who have been released, would have been housed right next to some of the other three suspects who have been arrested, apparently there was no connection between them, but the two were arrested, then the three were arrested, and they were apparently put close enough to each other that one of the security guards said he was talking to one of the other guys, and now is discussing what that guy‘s story was.  What were they doing so close to each other?

TRAPENBERG:  Well, in one instance, I can say there are so many cells on the island.  But what it could possibly be also for tactical reasons.  The exact reason we don‘t know, but one of the security guards did say that he acted as if he knew nothing of the guy, just to get some information out, if possibly it could help him, so it just might have.  We don‘t know at this point.

TRAPENBERG:  Well, again, what we feel today and this has been conveyed to the mother that, all parties involved, we‘ve had special technical help coming from Holland, we‘ve had FBI help come in, we have the search dogs, so it‘s a big, concerted effort to break the.  We want to have it solved if it‘s the girl missing, meaning the search is still ongoing, the investigation is ongoing.  We want to have it over with as soon as possible.

ABRAMS:  Ruben Trapenberg, thank you for taking the time.  We appreciate it.

Coming you up, your emails on the Michael Jackson verdict.  Some of you have interesting questions and comments.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Now it‘s time for your rebuttal.  Many of you writing in about the not guilty verdict in the Michael Jackson case.  A clean sweep.  Lisa from Fort Worth, Texas writes, “I‘m shocked and appalled that Michael Jackson has announced he will no longer allow boys to sleep in his bed anymore.  Just think of all the poor boys who will now miss out on such a great opportunity, since a few boys who cried molestation have ruined it for the rest of the mostly prepubescent, under 12, fatherless, male set.”

Jennie Reader from Alabama.  “Now that the trial is over, does Michael Jackson get all of his magazines and books back?”

You know, Jennie, interestingly, I just asked that question of Ron Zonen, the prosecutor.  He said, no.  Not for now.

Octavio Holguin from Fort Collins, CO.  “I heard a guest on yoru show this evening make a very disturbing statement and I roughly quote, “He (Jackson) was acquitted, not proven innocent.  At the risk of sounding facetious, aren‘t American citizens presumed innocent until proven guilty?  I heard no response from you as a lawyer, so I am questioning the legitimacy of your program.”

No need, Octavio.  A presumption of innocence has never meant that someone has been shown to be or proven to be innocent.  By facts.  Merely a presumption.  I hope that restores your faith in the program.

Susan Wallack from Beverly Hills, California.  “After today‘s Jackson verdict I‘d bet Saddam Hussein will try to get his trial moved to California.  He‘s famous enough to get acquitted there.”

Shahbaz Alibaig, Downer‘s Grove, Illinois.  “I want to thank you as I watch and read news and see so much bias.  You are fair, impartial and should be proud.  I love your show.”

Thanks a lot, Shahbaz.

Nick Dorphley, Tallahasee, Florida.  “You have been in California for over a week and you still don‘t have a tan!  Did you pay Michael Jackson‘s bodyguard to hold his umbrella over your head while Michael was in court?”

You know, Nick, I don‘t know what to tell you.  I think I put on a little—all right.  Abramreport@msnbc.com.  That‘s it.

Tomorrow, eh, look at that.  Live interview with Tom Mesereau, the attorney for Michael Jackson.  That‘s coming up tomorrow on the program.

END

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