updated 7/19/2005 8:44:22 AM ET 2005-07-19T12:44:22

Guest:  Jossy Mansur, Clint Van Zandt, Dan Small, Bruce Sanford, Joe Episcopo, Owen Lafave, Chip Lewis, Ellen Strauss

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, a park ranger in Aruba finds what could be a crucial piece of evidence in the search for Natalee Holloway. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS (voice-over):  A piece of duct tape with blond hairs on it turns up near the water on the opposite end of the island from where Natalee was last seen alive by prime suspect Joran Van Der Sloot.  This, on the same weekend police take him back to the beach to recount his last moments with her. 

And “TIME” magazine‘s Matthew Cooper spills the beans on Karl Rove, saying the president‘s advisor gave him details about CIA officer Valerie Plame without naming her.  So did he break the law? 

Plus former teacher Debra Lafave now says she had sex with her 14-year-old student because she was insane.  Her lawyer is saying, what teacher in her right mind would do that?  We‘ll talk with her ex-husband.

The program about justice starts now. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket tonight, Aruban authorities are waiting for DNA results on what could be a key piece of evidence in the case of missing Alabama teen, Natalee Holloway.  Over the weekend, a park ranker came across a piece of duct tape with hairs on it while he was picking up trash on the rocks along the water just a day after and across the island from the beach where police brought suspect Joran Van Der Sloot to again retrace his final moments with Natalee in the early morning hours of May the 30th

Joran admitted to being with Natalee on the beach near the Marriott hotel but says he left her there alone, insists he knows nothing about her disappearance.  The authorities say he‘s offered conflicting accounts. 

Joining me now NBC‘s Michelle Kosinski.  Michelle, all right, what do we know about this new evidence? 

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Well as you said, this park ranger was in this remote area of a national park making his rounds; he spots something in the sand.  It was shiny.  It was silver.  It looked like it had washed up.  So he goes and takes a look at it.  He sees that it is a piece of duct tape.  It has about four hairs on it.  Some of them light, some of them dark, and he says normally, this is something you know he wouldn‘t give a second thought to but given what‘s been going on, on this island, he just couldn‘t ignore this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIO RASMEAN, FOUND DUCT TAPE WITH HAIR:  I pick it up to throw it away but I saw some hair on it and I said no, this is not just duct tape.  It‘s something more.  I didn‘t think about the missing girl but I think about crimes at the same time, and that put me to call the police. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOSINSKI:  So now this tape with hairs attached has been sent to a lab.  We‘re thinking it will be about a week from what authorities are telling us before we know any results as to could this possibly in any way be connected to Natalee Holloway. 

Now as you also mentioned, it‘s funny, there‘s so little information in this case.  There‘s no sign of Natalee, but so much is going on, on this island and yes, Joran Van Der Sloot once again was taken out of jail over the weekend and brought to that spot on the beach where he says he was last with Natalee on the morning she disappeared.  In fact, he says he left her alone on that beach. 

We saw police leading him around in handcuffs.  He got out of the car.  He was talking to them.  For a little while, down to the beach and then he was brought back into the car and driven away.  So we don‘t know too much of the outcome of that. 

Now keep in mind Natalee Holloway‘s family has been desperate for any information in this case.  Her father left the island this morning, but over the weekend, he had one thing he wanted to do, to talk man-to-man, as he put it, to Joran Van Der Sloot, but he ended up in this unexpected encounter with Joran‘s parents. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KOSINSKI (voice-over):  Natalee Holloway‘s father has one last goal here...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KOSINSKI:  ... to talk to Joran Van Der Sloot.

DAVE HOLLOWAY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY‘S FATHER:  He has professed his innocence and as a father, I just want to meet with him, face-to-face and ask him face-to-face—if he‘s innocent, I want him to tell me face-to-face. 

KOSINSKI:  Instead, he met Joran‘s parents unexpectedly as they were leaving the jail.  They clasped hands, would not let go, had a heart to heart for more than an hour.  Dave Holloway says Anita Van Der Sloot wanted him to talk to their son, said Joran wanted that too, but Paul Van Der Sloot would allow it only after the investigation. 

Holloway said they described Joran as torture, that he hates himself and cries and says he was stupid for leaving Natalee alone on the beach but insists he did not harm her.  And Holloway says Paul Van Der Sloot denies ever telling the suspects no body no case, denies that anyone in his family was involved in Natalee‘s disappearance. 

HOLLOWAY:  I sense that that‘s not the case.  The last words was you know you‘ve got to understand this is my son and I‘ll do anything for my son.  And with that, you know, my confidence level was not very high with him. 

KOSINSKI:  He says Paul Van Der Sloot broke down and cried.  Holloway and his searcher presented them with three books for Joran, a bible, “The Purpose Driven Life”, and “Living in the Moment”.  They hugged and walked away.  Dave, not ready to give up. 

HOLLOWAY:  Well it‘s just like anything else.  He professes that he‘s innocent and if he is, you would think that he would be able to tell me face-to-face. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOSINSKI:  When you talk to the family about this new potential evidence, duct tape with hairs on it, some blond, some about six inches long, yes, they‘re hopeful that it could lead to something in this case, but then again they‘ve seen so many times where searchers have found something that just stopped them in their tracks saying wow this could be it, and then it turned out to be nothing. 

And Dan it‘s also interesting when you think of some of these areas where the surf is rough.  These are the places where searchers look countless times, also media crews have been to these areas, so honestly a piece of duct tape could have come from just about anywhere. 

ABRAMS:   Let me ask you a quick question.  We had talked on Friday about what EquuSearch had said that they found.  They said they thought they found something like a shallow gravesite.  Let me play this piece of sound.  I want to know how far away the piece of duct tape was found from this that Tim Miller was talking about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM MILLER, EQUUSEARCH VOLUNTEER:  It was six foot long.  It was four foot deep.  Dirt was piled on the side of it.  If anybody‘s ever went to a funeral see what a grave looks like, that‘s basically what it looked like.  Again, it was in a remote area, an area that‘s easy to pull up, carry something maybe 100 feet at most, and get rid of it, an area where nobody could have seen somebody doing something.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:   Michelle, how far was the tape found from there?

KOSINSKI:  Well the entire national park is about one or two square miles large.  The shallow grave or what looked to be that was inside the park and this was found obviously on the coastline in a cove, so it‘s not very far.  It‘s tough to gauge because you‘re going down all of these dirt roads...

ABRAMS:   Right.

KOSINSKI:  ... and the place where that burial spot is not marked on a map at all.  In fact, it was so tough to find that people were getting lost trying to find it.  So it‘s within about a mile for certain, but it is in a different area...

ABRAMS:   OK...

KOSINSKI:  ... if that makes any sense. 

ABRAMS:   All right...

KOSINSKI:  Just on the coast, that within the park...

ABRAMS:   Fair enough.

KOSINSKI:  ... so it‘s interesting...

ABRAMS:   Yes.

KOSINSKI:  ... that they were found in the same place, both remote. 

ABRAMS:   All right.  Michelle thanks a lot.  Keep up the great work. 

Appreciate it. 

All right.  So we‘ve got this hair—several hairs stuck to a piece of duct tape on a rocky beach across the island from where Natalee was allegedly seen by Dutch teen Joran Van Der Sloot and he‘s the only suspect in custody.  So the question is what do we make of this? 

Jossy Mansur is managing editor of Aruba‘s “Diario” newspaper and Clint Van Zandt is a former FBI investigator, MSNBC analyst. 

All right.  Jossy, are we making too much of this duct tape with the hair? 

JOSSY MANSUR, MANAGING EDITOR, “DIARIO”:  I don‘t think so.  I think it‘s the closest they have come to an anything that could be a real clue to what happened to this girl that early morning. 

ABRAMS:   Let me play a piece of sound from the ranger here, talking about the duct tape.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RASMEAN:  It looked fresh.  It looked fresh.  It can be a couple (UNINTELLIGIBLE) because if something is on that cove, on that rocks, all this water, the waves would hit against those rocks, it will get wet.  But in this case, it was still dry. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:   Clint Van Zandt, what to make of that?

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER:  Well Dan, I mean we hear of grasping for straws.  I think this is grasping for hair right now.  I mean number one, we‘re dealing with Joran Van Der Sloot.  This is some guy who‘s changed his story eight different times.  So I‘m not even—I don‘t even know if he knows what the story is he‘s told it so many different times.  And as you well know, you know, a piece of duct tape floating up, normally in this investigation this would mean nothing but you know, the parents are so desperate to know what happened as is law...

ABRAMS:  But what about the fact that it wasn‘t dry—I mean what about what he just said?  He just said that it can be there a couple of hours because if something is on the cove on that rocks, all this water, the waves will hit against those rocks, it‘ll get wet.  But in this case, it was still dry. 

VAN ZANDT:  Well you know, if it‘s related, that‘s going to tell us perhaps that this young girl is dead.  So that‘s a terrible thing for the parents to have to go through.  But very quickly, as you know, we will find out from the DNA, from the hair if it‘s related or not.  If it is her DNA, we‘re going to find perhaps fingerprints, other hairs and fibers and by finding that, that could unfortunately...

ABRAMS:   Yes.

VAN ZANDT:  ... confirm (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that something terrible has happened...

ABRAMS:   Jossy, how—I mean we‘re all sort of on the outside saying look, this could be the first piece of evidence.  Are your sources who are investigating this case or close to the investigators telling you anything about what they think about it?

MANSUR:  Well they feel a certain confidence that this is the first real break that they‘re about to get in this case.  They feel confident of what they got.  Maybe it will turn out to be nothing, but they have the impression that it is and it‘s been sent to Holland already and I think part of it has been sent to the FBI.

ABRAMS:   Does it have any connection to that supposed grave as we put it?  I mean we don‘t know there is a grave, but Tim Miller from EquuSearch thought it looked like a grave found in a remote area.  Do they believe there‘s a connection there? 

MANSUR:  There might be because it is close enough to it.  It‘s within a mile or half a mile to the park, the Addicott Park (ph), and where that duct with those hairs was found is called Boca Tortuga (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

ABRAMS:   Here‘s a little bit more from the ranger about exactly what the hairs looked like.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RASMEAN:  It looked like two colors, yes.  One blond and one a little bit more darker.  Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Can you tell me the length?  Was it long?  Was it short and...

RASMEAN:  It‘s like another six inches long.  Yes, more or less.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:   So Clint, that in conjunction with what Jossy is saying, you‘re still betting that it‘s going to end up being nothing? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, you know Dan, as an investigator, if you‘ve got nothing, you‘ll take anything.  So would I take this and run with it, do all the DNA and everything else?  Of course I would, but there‘s nothing else other than a piece of duct tape. 

Hey, I‘ve been down there.  I‘ve been diving down there.  There is junk on the water.  There is junk floating in.  We‘ve had storms that‘s floated back and forth in...

ABRAMS:   Yes.

VAN ZANDT:  ... so is it worth looking at?  Yes.  But you know last week, everybody got excited because they found a barrel under water that had absolutely nothing to do with this.  Somewhere, there‘s the reality, there‘s the truth of this story...

ABRAMS:   Yes.

VAN ZANDT:  ... but it‘s yet to be seen if it‘s contained on a piece of duct tape. 

ABRAMS:   All right.  Clint Van Zandt, Jossy Mansur, thanks a lot. 

Appreciate it. 

VAN ZANDT:  Thanks Dan.

ABRAMS:   Coming up, “TIME” magazine‘s Matthew Cooper says Karl Rove is the one who told him about CIA officer Valerie Plame without naming her.  President Bush says he‘ll fire anywhere who broke the law.  So the program about justice asks the question did Rove break the law? 

And she‘s accused of having sex with her student, 14 years old.  Now, Debra Lafave says she‘s not taking a plea deal.  She‘s going to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.  Her lawyer essentially saying she‘d have to be crazy to do it.  OK.  Her ex-husband joins us. 

Plus cross dressing multi millionaire Robert Durst admitted killing his neighbor, cutting up his body.  He goes home with his cushy life and privilege again.  We‘re staying on him since after all he‘s still a possible suspect in two other murders. 

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I would like this to end as quickly as possible so we know the facts and if someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:   All right, so that‘s the question.  Did someone commit a crime?  That someone seems to be senior White House advisor Karl Rove.  For the first time one of the reporters at the center of this case, “TIME” magazine‘s Matthew Cooper spoke out about the source that told him that Ambassador Joe Wilson‘s wife was a CIA officer. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  For the record, the first time you learned that Joe Wilson‘s wife worked for the CIA was from Karl Rove. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s correct. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:   While Cooper says Rove never told him her name, he says Rove did tell him Wilson‘s wife worked at the agency (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the CIA, that she worked on WMD, and that she was responsible for sending Joe Wilson to Africa.  He also told him that Rove ended the call with a line Cooper says he remembers vividly—quote—“I‘ve already said too much.”

And this wasn‘t his first time testifying.  He gave testimony last year, Cooper did, about conversations with “Scooter” Libby, the vice president‘s chief of staff.  Now, Matt Cooper‘s attorney, Dick Salver (ph), had told us he and Cooper would appear on the program tonight but this weekend they backed out of that commitment. 

“My Take”—let‘s focus here on what the real issues are.  It‘s not whether Rove did or didn‘t actually say her name.  If he‘d said, as one of my guests joked last week, that I‘m not going to tell you her name, but it rhymes with blame, it‘s effectively disclosing her name.

Here‘s the issue.  Rove has to have known that she was covert and he has to have intentionally tried to have revealed that fact.  Based on Cooper‘s account, I don‘t think we‘re ever going to know what Rove knew or what his attentions were.  So in the end, I‘m going to expect no one‘s going to be charged and once again it will come down to the journalist being the scapegoats here. 

Joining me now to discuss is Bruce Sanford, media law attorney who was in charge of drafting the law in question about protecting the identities of intelligence officials and former federal prosecutor Dan Small. 

All right, Mr. Small, let me start with you.  How are they ever going to be able to show that Rove or someone else for that matter, actually knew that she was covert, intentionally tried to disclose that with accounts like Matt Cooper‘s? 

DAN SMALL, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Dan, you prove any crime circumstantial.  Here you had motive, opportunity and intent.  Motive in the sense that they had a reason apparently to go after this woman and to go after Wilson.  Opportunity, Rove is at the center of the White House, at the center of knowledge, had the opportunity to know this information.  And intent, you‘ve got Rove saying at the end of the conversation those classic words, which we‘ll hear again and again, and you‘ve got Rove and the White House making repeated denials in ongoing stories of how they had no involvement, they had no knowledge, they never...

ABRAMS:   But that‘s a political question...

SMALL:  ... now it turns out they did.

ABRAMS:   Right.  That‘s...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:   It is.  I mean that‘s a political—it‘s a credibility question.  Fine.  But it doesn‘t—this law—and I‘ll go to Mr. Sanford in a minute but this law was written real carefully and there‘s a lot of requirements in it to violate it.

SMALL:  That‘s true, but the classification, whether someone is covert, is a classification that the CIA makes, and whether someone knows it or not is a question of fact you‘re going to have to look into.  But anytime you‘re looking at knowledge, you‘re looking at intent, you have to go circumstantially, you have to go what is it that this person knew and what is the evident that they knew that it was wrong and there is evidence here that he knew what he was doing was wrong. 

ABRAMS:   But where‘s the evidence that he knew she was covert? 

SMALL:  Well, I don‘t think you have to prove that he knew she was covert.  I think you have to prove that it was a covert—that she was covert and that‘s a question of fact that‘s going to have to come out.  If the CIA did not believe she was covert presumably, they would not have referred it for criminal investigation and you‘re going to have to prove that he knew that what he was doing was intentionally disclosing information that was classified and that was improper to disclose. 

ABRAMS:   All right.  Mr. Sanford, response. 

BRUCE SANFORD, MEDIA LAW ATTORNEY:  You know Dan, I think what we know of the evidence so far it‘s pretty clear that no crime has been committed here.  This was always a poor law to have as a basis for a leak investigation.  It was written in 1982.  It‘s been used exactly once in its 23-year history.  It has restrictions built upon qualifications, heaped upon further conditions to try to get any indictment, much less a prosecution.  I think what we have we know of what Karl Rove has told the grand jury and what Matt Cooper has told the grand jury, there isn‘t any evidence that Karl Rove knew Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert agent.

ABRAMS:   Here‘s the law.  I mean I‘m going to let my viewers read it and decide.

Whoever having authorized access to classified information—it seems he had that—that identifies a covert agent, intentionally discloses any information, identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information - and here‘s a key part - knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

That‘s the part isn‘t—that‘s the key, is it not Mr. Sanford, is that you have to have known that the information disclosed identifies somebody who‘s covert? 

SANFORD:  That‘s right, Dan.  That‘s one of the key parts.  There are several others including knowing that the agency was taking affirmative measures to conceal her identity.  There is substantial question, I think, just on the facts, whether Valerie Plame Wilson qualifies as a—quote—

“covert agent” as that term is defined under the law. 

“USA Today” has reported, among others, that she was married in 1998 to Joe Wilson and she may not have served abroad during any time during the five years prior to the disclosure in the Bob Novak column.  That would mean she doesn‘t qualify as a—quote—“covert agent.”

ABRAMS:   Mr. Small, apart from whether you think that there‘s a good shot here of ultimately charging, boy, it sounds to me like it would be a tough argument for Fitzgerald to make based on what we know now that Rove “A” broke the law, but more importantly “B” that he would have the will to go forward in a case like this. 

SMALL:  Well Bruce is right.  It is a complex law.  What is a covert agent is going to be complicated.  I don‘t agree though that the law requires that Rove knew that she had that particular classification.  It says that he identifies a covert agent, not that he necessarily knew that she was covert.  It is a tough law, but I don‘t think it is as tough as people are making it out. 

ABRAMS:   I don‘t know.  Knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent.  Knowing that the information...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Exactly.

ABRAMS:   Right.  All right. 

SMALL:  Knowing that it identifies it.  Obviously, it‘s not an easy law...

ABRAMS:  Yes.

SMALL:  It‘s going to be a tough argument but I don‘t think this is complicated or is technical.  Remember, the law was passed just to address the issue of outing an agent.  It was...

ABRAMS:   Right. 

SMALL:  ... the assassination of the CIA...

ABRAMS:   Right...

SMALL:  ... station chief...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:   Look, I mean it doesn‘t help your argument the reason the law was passed.  The law was passed for much, much, more severe cases than this no matter what you think about this, but look we shall see.  My prediction is that no one will be charged in this and that this will all go away and that Judith Miller will be the only one to have served any time.  We shall see.

Bruce Sanford, Dan Small, thanks a lot. 

ABRAMS:   Now to Florida where Debra Lafave, the middle school teacher facing charges for having sex five times with her 14-year-old student has refused a plea deal.  She‘s going to tell a jury she was insane. 

Twenty-four-year-old Lafave, a former model was in court today after plea negotiations with prosecutors broke down.  Her attorney, John Fitzgibbons, said prosecutors were demanding Lafave serve too much time behind bars.  Here‘s what he told the judge. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  To place an attractive young woman in that kind of hellhole is like putting a piece of raw meat in with the lions.  I‘m not sure that Debbie will be able to survive. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:   During today‘s hearing, Fitzgibbons asked the judge—quote—

“What teacher in her right mind would do something like this?”  Lafave was charged with four felony counts of lewd and lascivious battery, one count of lewd and lascivious exhibition.  Each carries a maximum 15-year prison term.  Her trial is now set for December 5. 

“My Take”—come on, insane.  The legal standard in Florida is that she didn‘t know the difference between right and wrong, yet she allegedly told the 14-year-old boy that it turned her on that it was wrong.  Effectively it was so wrong, it made it right. 

Before we talk to her ex-husband, former Florida prosecutor Joe Episcopo joins me now. 

All right, Joe, first let‘s talk the law here.  Come on.  Insanity, this is going to be really tough, right?

JOE EPISCOPO, FORMER FLORIDA PROSECUTOR:  Yes.  In fact, I don‘t think that‘s what‘s happening here, Dan.  I think what they‘re doing is they‘re trying to put pressure on the families of the victims, the witness and the actual victim himself to bring them right to the courthouse steps, right to the beginning of trial and hope to get a better deal. 

Now, the minimum score I believe in this case is eight years on the score sheet, up to a maximum of 15.  So I guess they‘re asking for 8 years and he doesn‘t want to take that. 

ABRAMS:   What do you—would you take eight years if you were her lawyer?  That‘s a lot—look I‘ve expressed my view on this.  I think that male sexual predators, particularly in schools with children are far greater danger to our society than women and as a result that that should be taken into account.  People go crazy when I say that.  They say, oh my goodness, how can you suggest that there‘s any difference.  But the bottom line is we‘re talking about sending a message, I believe it‘s far more important to send a message to men that it‘s not OK.

EPISCOPO:  Well you know again, it‘s not really a question of whether I would take it.  It‘s a question of whether the client will accept it.  And really when you get down to it, if they do go to trial and it goes all the way to trial and the victim gets exposed to all this publicity, she‘s going to get 15 years, so it‘s almost double—double or nothing. 

ABRAMS:   What does it mean when the law says—one of the areas of insanity did not know what he or she was doing or its consequences. 

EPISCOPO:  Well...

ABRAMS:   Consequences?

EPISCOPO:  The McNaughton rule if first of all, you have to have a mental disease or defect and as a result of that, you‘re unable to determine right from wrong. 

ABRAMS:   Right.

EPISCOPO:  So I mean that‘s basically it.  The McNaughton rule, it‘s a couple of hundred years old.  It‘s very difficult to ever get.  I haven‘t seen one in Hillsborough County...

ABRAMS:   Yes.

EPISCOPO:  ... in about 10, 12 years. 

ABRAMS:   And they‘ve got audiotape.  Let‘s play a little piece of the audiotape of—this is Debra Lafave talking to the 14-year-old boy. 

(BEGIN AUDIOTAPE)

BOY:  I‘m a little worried, though.

LAFAVE:  Why?

BOY:  Like I don‘t want you to like get pregnant or anything.  I was just thinking about it and I was just thinking if next time, now that we‘ve had sex about three times, if I should have like a condom or something.

LAFAVE:  Oh, you‘re being weird.

(END AUDIOTAPE)

ABRAMS:   (UNINTELLIGIBLE) all right, so she—I mean come on, Joe, she‘s in big trouble, right? 

EPISCOPO:  She‘s in big trouble.  We know that.  And she has another county to deal with, another jurisdiction, Ocala, same charges. 

ABRAMS:   Eight years—so you think eight years is realistic? 

EPISCOPO:  Well that‘s the minimum guidelines, recommendations.  That‘s what the judge may go by in trying to determine this sentence.  However, once you start the trial, you don‘t usually get the minimum. 

ABRAMS:   Yes.  All right.  Joe Episcopo thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

Coming up, Owen Lafave, the former husband of Debra Lafave joins us.  Does he think that she was insane at the time? 

And later, living the high life in Houston, this man admitted to killing and dismembering his neighbor.  He‘s out of prison; back living the life, even though he‘s a possible suspect in two other murders.  His lawyer is back with us to try and defend him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a Florida teacher charged with having sex with a 14-year-old student refuses a plea deal.  She decides to plea not guilty by reason of insanity.  So what does her ex-husband think?  We‘ll talk to him next, first the headlines.

(NEWS BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN FITZGIBBONS, DEBRA LAFAVE‘S ATTORNEY:  There IS a presumption of innocence in this country and when anyone is charged with a crime and I hope that everyone gives that consideration to Debbie as this case moves forward. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ABRAMS:   Yes.  Well, that‘s what they say in every case and that‘s what happens inside the courtroom.  We‘re back.  Now we‘re joined by the former husband of the middle school teacher, Debra Lafave, facing sexual abuse charges in Florida for allegedly having sex with one of her students.  Today Debra Lafave‘s attorney told a judge she will go to trial and argue she was not guilty by reason of insanity. 

Joining us now once again, Owen Lafave, who is now divorced from Debra. 

Thanks for coming back on the program.  Appreciate it. 

OWEN LAFAVE, DEBRA LAFAVE‘S EX-HUSBAND:  Thanks Dan.

ABRAMS:   So, what do you make of this, this insanity defense that she didn‘t understand right from wrong. 

O. LAFAVE:  Well I think you know all of us heard the audiotapes.  We heard Joe‘s definition of what constitutes someone being insane and I thin we all can draw own conclusions from the audiotapes and clearly she knew what she was doing was wrong. 

ABRAMS:   All right, you mentioned the audiotapes.  Let me play a piece of sound so people know what we‘re talking about here.

(BEGIN AUDIOTAPE)

BOY:  So what time are you planning on heading over?

D. LAFAVE:  Are you sure?  Like, I just feel - I mean I don‘t want you lying to your mom.  I mean it‘s like...

BOY:  No, it‘s all right.  She‘s gone in a sales meeting all day. 

D. LAFAVE:  You‘re sure?

BOY:  Yes.

(END AUDIOTAPE)

ABRAMS:   Does it still sort of get you in the gut listening to those tapes or have you sort of passed that point? 

O. LAFAVE:  You know I‘ve kind of—I‘ve moved past it but still I mean it‘s never easy to hear, especially over and over again.

ABRAMS:   Any warning signs?  I mean we talk about insanity and I ask you this so we can evaluate the legal case a little bit.  Any warning signs at the time?

O. LAFAVE:  I mean there were some subtle changes in her personality and you know what those are, I can‘t really elaborate on at this time, but never anything to the extent that I‘d believe that she was in insane.  I mean she was being treated for some emotional issues and the state psychological evacuation confirmed that, also stated that she wasn‘t insane but nothing that would lead me to believe that she was in fact legally insane. 

ABRAMS:   Do you want to see her serve time?

O. LAFAVE:  You know, that‘s kind of a hard question for me to answer.  Probably one of the most difficult I‘ve had to answer, and there‘s a side of me that empathizes with her.  I feel bad for her.  I don‘t want to see her serve time.  But that being said, you know she committed a crime.  And call her what you want to, a child molester, but she did commit a crime and she probably deserves to serve some time. 

ABRAMS:   Have you talked to her at all?

O. LAFAVE:  I haven‘t talked to her, no, in quite some time.

ABRAMS:   Has she reached out to you in any way?  Letters, anything like that?

O. LAFAVE:  No, she did contact me briefly with a telephone call.  She had found a video of my grandfather on it who since passed away and that‘s the only communication we‘ve had in months. 

ABRAMS:   And obviously, you have no interest in talking to her, right? 

O. LAFAVE:  No, I don‘t, Dan. 

ABRAMS:   We talked about this last time but it‘s been a little while since we spoke.  You‘ve moved on with your life, right? 

O. LAFAVE:  Yes, I have. 

ABRAMS:   And it‘s not as if you sort of sit there and you look at these tapes and you say oh—I mean you know I‘m sure it still is very painful in a way, but you have sort of been able to distance yourself a bit from the whole situation.  Have you not?

O. LAFAVE:  No I have.  It‘s been over a year and there was a definite healing process and there‘s a lot of time involved with that, but I think I‘ve been able to, like you said, distance myself and move past this a little bit.  And you know I have quiet moments where this kind of goes away and unfortunately when there is some type of news, I mean I am thrown back into the media. 

ABRAMS:   And as a legal matter, I mean you‘re not the victim here, I mean as a legal matter it would be the underage child.  But have the prosecutors consulted with you at all as to what you would like to see. 

O. LAFAVE:  Not as far as what I‘d like to see.  I have been contacted.  I‘ve been subpoenaed, so if there is a trial, I will have to testify on behalf of the state, which—if it does go to trial, I‘m not really looking forward to doing. 

ABRAMS:   I would expect that they‘re going to work out some deal, don‘t you think?

O. LAFAVE:  I would think they would.  I think it‘s in everybody‘s best interest that they plea. 

ABRAMS:   All right, Owen good luck.  Thanks for coming back.  Appreciate it.

O. LAFAVE:  Thanks Dan.

ABRAMS:   Coming up, he admits killing a man, dismembering him.  Jury found him not guilty.  He‘s now free, living the high life again.  His lawyer is back with us.  Robert Durst case coming up.

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, multimillionaire Robert Durst admitted to killing and dismembering a neighbor.  Now he‘s a free man, living the high life in a nice high rise.  His lawyer is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

ABRAMS:   Multimillionaire, cross-dressing, eccentric murder suspect, Robert Durst, tried and acquitted for murdering his neighbor in 2001, chopping up the body, then dumping it in a nearby bay in Texas.  Today he met his parole officer for the first time.  Durst was released from prison Friday morning.  How else do you leave prison?  In a black stretch limo. 

He‘s back in Texas now, getting settled in his new home, apparently a cushy Houston high rise.  Durst will be on parole, wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet until November 2006, confined to his apartment, subject to random drug tests, required to report to his parole officer at least once a week.  But he‘s going to have more than just a parole officer watching him.  He‘s also a possible suspect in two other murders, including that of his first wife.  Many family members are keeping their sights on him. 

Joining me now, one of Robert Durst‘s attorneys, Chip Lewis and Ellen Strauss, a friend of Durst‘s first wife, Kathy, who died in 1982.

All right, so Chip, what‘s your boy up to?

CHIP LEWIS, ROBERT DURST‘S ATTORNEY:  He‘s following the letters of parole to the tee, doing everything they ask, everything they wish, and making this an opportunity to show all the world that he‘s not a dangerous man. 

ABRAMS:   Is he living in a high rise? 

LEWIS:  No, not yet.  He‘s currently staying at a place near our offices, convenient for the parole meetings and the like. 

ABRAMS:   And I‘ve asked you this before but just for the viewers who missed our last show, you think that this guy is not a danger to society, even though he admitted chopping up the body in this case, he admitted running from the authorities and that he‘s a possible suspect in two other murders. 

LEWIS:  Not at all.  The two other murders, that‘s a joke, Dan.  You and I both know they‘ve been under...

ABRAMS:   Oh I don‘t know. 

LEWIS:  ... investigation.

ABRAMS:   I don‘t know.

LEWIS:  Yes you do.  You followed the case closely and you‘re always a man who studied his material. 

ABRAMS:   Yes, well let me—let‘s go through it.  1982, Kathleen Durst said that he had abused her and that she feared him.  He was in the process of—she was in the process of getting a divorce when she was last seen.  Told friends if anything happened to her, hey, look at my husband. 

Durst reportedly was the last one to see her alive.  Body has never been recovered.  Fled New York for fear of being charged in his wife‘s disappearance in that case.  I mean you know look, that is—I‘m not going to say it‘s enough to charge but it‘s enough for I think people to be concerned. 

LEWIS:  And people have been concerned for over 23 years.  They‘ve opened the investigation, reopened, reopened.  Pirro used it as a political ploy to generate some publicity.  They looked at the case again, all new investigators.  There‘s absolutely nothing there that would implicate Robert Durst. 

All right.  Ellen, go ahead.  Take it away. 

ELLEN STRAUSS, KATHLEEN DURST‘S FRIEND:  Well, for one thing, it was not Pirro who opened up the investigation.  It was Joe Becerra, a state trooper in New York who opened it up.  I would say that once Jeanine leaves office I know that—I agree with you, Chip, she used it for her political fodder, but once she leaves office, there are two new candidates who are going to take a fresh look at this.  And I also believe...

ABRAMS:   Why is everyone blaming...

STRAUSS:  I‘m sorry.

ABRAMS:   Why do you also blame—I mean you know the bottom line is that if she was investigating it, she was investigating it, right? 

STRAUSS:  Well, let‘s put it this way.  Shortly before Susan Berman was killed, four and a half weeks—I told you this last week—four and a half weeks before she died, I begged her office to get Susan Berman‘s information from her, to fly out there and see her as soon as they possibly could...

ABRAMS:   Right.

STRAUSS:  ... and they didn‘t and then she was killed.  They didn‘t even have an opportunity.

ABRAMS:   So you‘re saying she...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:   ... you‘re saying she didn‘t do enough and Chip‘s saying she did too much.  I mean so let‘s be clear that we‘re not all sort of blaming Jeanine for—you‘re saying she should have done more to stop this guy and Chip‘s saying they did too much, right?

STRAUSS:  I‘m saying...

(CROSSTALK)

STRAUSS:  ... that she talked a lot but didn‘t do anything. 

ABRAMS:   All right.

LEWIS:  That‘s what she does...

STRAUSS:  She talked...

ABRAMS:   Well look...

STRAUSS:  That‘s what she does.

ABRAMS:   All right.  Well look, you know we asked Jeanine to come on the show and she‘s a friend of the program.  I hate to see her getting beaten up without getting a defense here...

LEWIS:  Bring her on Dan.  She deserves to be here. 

ABRAMS:   She will...

STRAUSS:  She says the same thing each time. 

ABRAMS:   All right...

STRAUSS:  We‘re always looking at him. 

ABRAMS:   Well look, but you know what...

STRAUSS:  He‘s a person of interest.

ABRAMS:   She can‘t charge him without enough evidence to win the case.  I mean that‘s the problem Ellen...

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS:  There‘s no evidence there, Dan.  He didn‘t do it.

ABRAMS:   Well listen to you.  See, listen to you.  On the one hand, Ellen is saying they‘re strong.  At the same time, Chip is saying there‘s nothing and then you wonder—you‘re putting Jeanine in a position where she‘s got to say look, I could probably charge this guy...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:   ... but I probably wouldn‘t be able to get a conviction. 

LEWIS:  She could and he didn‘t do it.

(CROSSTALK)

STRAUSS:  My sources tell me there‘s a strong circumstantial case.  Jeanine only takes on the slam dunks, child molesters, you know, pornographers...

ABRAMS:   All right, you guys are...

STRAUSS:  That‘s it.

ABRAMS:   ... slamming her from both sides here.  I just wanted to make that clear.  All right, Ellen...

STRAUSS:  OK.

ABRAMS:   ... what are you going to do to follow Robert Durst?  I mean you have always committed that you‘re not going to let this guy get away with this.  What are you going to do now that he‘s free?

STRAUSS:  You want me to give away my trade secrets behind the scenes.  I am following up on it.  I am making sure by talking to all the people—

I‘m pushing.  I‘m pushing for a conviction.  I‘ll be pushing the new candidates for Westchester D.A.  I‘ll be pushing them out in Los Angeles to you know indict him on Berman‘s murder.  They can place him there that day.  They have handwriting samples, they‘ve got ballistics.  I think that Chip, you‘re probably going to have another legal fee out of this. 

LEWIS:  We‘re ready. 

STRAUSS:  And if I did anybody in, you‘d be the first guy I‘d call...

LEWIS:  Thank you very much. 

STRAUSS:  I think you‘re that good.

ABRAMS:   But Chip again...

STRAUSS:  That‘s my professional opinion from one attorney to the other. 

ABRAMS:   Well Ellen, but let me ask you a broader question.  Do you think...

STRAUSS:  OK.

ABRAMS:   ... he is a danger to society?  Meaning...

STRAUSS:  Absolutely. 

ABRAMS:   ... do you think—because it seems to me based on all of this suspicion, I certainly wouldn‘t want him angry at me.  I mean even though I haven‘t been saying such nice things about him.  You know...

STRAUSS:  Dan...

ABRAMS:   Go ahead.

STRAUSS:  ... I was going to say number one, every place he is, dead bodies turn up or people go missing.  Last week on Court TV, when we were on, Chip, you said that he‘s on medication for his so called aspersers.  What is that medication?  What are they treating him with?

LEWIS:  The psychiatrists know that Ellen...

STRAUSS:  I‘d like to know that.

LEWIS:  I‘m confident that Dr. Auch Schuller (ph) and Dr. Brown (ph) have done the job they‘ve done for the last three years with Bob being a perfectly peaceable man and I‘m sure he‘ll continue in that regard. 

ABRAMS:   I mean you say a peaceable man, the kind of guy that orders room service after he chops up a body, right? 

(LAUGHTER)

LEWIS:  Now, now.  Dan. 

ABRAMS:   But I mean that‘s what happened, right?

LEWIS:  That was part of the proof in the case that during the panic stage when he was in really another state of panic and shock over what had happened, he did eat. 

ABRAMS:   (UNINTELLIGIBLE) come on the other state.  I mean this - I don‘t know.

LEWIS:  Dan...

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS:  ... repeat the words of the verdict with me.  Not guilty. 

ABRAMS:   That‘s right.  No, look, I‘m not saying that the guy should be behind bars—the guy was found not guilty by a jury.  The question is whether he remains a danger to society and that‘s a completely separate question. 

LEWIS:  This is the most restrictive parole.  I mean the task that Bob will complete and demonstrate to you and anybody that‘s watching, Ellen included, the arduous task that he will complete will go a long way towards satisfying people he‘s not a danger. 

ABRAMS:   What‘s with the security guard the he‘s hired?  He‘s got a 24-hour security guard with him. 

LEWIS:  Well that‘s something that‘s been put in place for now.  There‘s, as you can imagine, a lot of uproar and publicity around here, and it‘s more for Bob‘s safety than anybody else‘s.  If a question arises about where Bob is or if there‘s some type of incident, we want a witness. 

ABRAMS:   So this is not to protect him from himself. 

LEWIS:  No.  Not at all.  Not at all.  He‘s on a monitor.  He‘s reporting to parole at their beck and call. 

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS:  He‘ll be a good boy, I promise you, Dan. 

ABRAMS:   All right, here‘s what I‘m going to do.  I‘m going to invite you and he to come on the program together and I would be happy to—you say he‘s a peaceable guy, so none of the people at the studio there should have to be concerned.  He is invited to come on the program, answer some of the tougher questions, and I‘m happy to have my mind changed about that. 

LEWIS:  Well why don‘t you invite us up to New York?

ABRAMS:   Come on. 

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:   You both are welcome to come to New York and I‘m sure Ellen Strauss will be hiding in the bushes, watching him come in and you are welcomed and invited, Chip...

(CROSSTALK)

ABRAMS:   ... for Robert Durst to come on the program.  Do you accept? 

LEWIS:  I will do all I can.  Bob is a pretty quite introverted guy, but we‘ll talk to him.

ABRAMS:   All right.  We‘ll let you know.

STRAUSS:  And you know what Dan?  He‘ll be heavily medicated. 

ABRAMS:   All right.

STRAUSS:  By the way, there was one funny incident...

ABRAMS:   Quickly.

STRAUSS:  ... that one of his neighbors in the apartment building took a story off the Internet and posted it in the elevator so his neighbors know he‘s arrived.  I‘m sure they‘re locked and loaded and ready to go. 

ABRAMS:   Yes.  Well, all right.  We shall see.  Chip Lewis, Ellen Strauss, thanks.

Coming up...

STRAUSS:  Thanks.  Take care Dan.

ABRAMS:   ... last week I complained about journalists who refuse to call people responsible for the London bombings terrorists.  Shocker—some of you don‘t agree with me.  Your e-mails are up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  A lot of you writing in about the investigation into who leaked CIA officer Valerie Plame‘s name to the press.  “New York Times‘” Judith Miller has gone to jail rather than testify. 

Chris Chrisenberry mentions Miller‘s reporting about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the run-up to the war.  Quote—“I would argue that a strong case can be made that Ms. Miller may very well have acted as a conduit of misinformation from the White House to the public as well as perhaps a source of classified information to persons within the Bush administration.  I would strongly disagree with your negative characterization of Patrick Fitzgerald‘s actions as being strong armed and/or fruitless.”

Chris, what does reporting on Iraq have to do with her decision to refuse to disclose her source in this investigation?  How does that justify special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald‘s strong-arm tactics in forcing Miller, who never even reported on this, to testify? 

Last week I complained about newspapers and TV networks who refused to use the word terrorists and instead say bomber or insurgent.

Steve Mercer from New York, “Bomber conveys no more and no less than an act and who did it.  It offers nothing with respect to why accomplices, worldwide conspiracy, or threats to our own security.  It is irresponsible for the press to continue allowing itself to be used as it has been by the present administration and its surrogates.”

Steve, come on.  It‘s simply more accurate to call someone who targets civilians with the intent of creating fear and chaos a terrorist.  A bomber isn‘t wrong.  But as you put it, conveying—quote—“no more and no less” isn‘t our goal.  We should ask for more. 

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

Coming up in a minute...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ABRAMS:   “OH PLEAs!”—driving 120 miles an hour because you had to go? 

Hayder Mobarak of Ottawa says not his fault, blame the protein shake he

consumed while driving to the gym.  It seems Mobarak says it was a—quote

·         “protein overdose” that caused him to race for a pit stop. 

Quote - “I was rushing to the bathroom.  I wasn‘t thinking.”  I was in pain, he said.  After police pulled Mobarak over, clocking twice the speed limit of 60, a judge ruled bodily functions don‘t license the need for speed.  He was fined $760 and he can‘t drive for 30 days. 

That does it for us tonight.  “HARDBALL” is up next.  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.

Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

Watch The Abrams Report each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,