IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'The Abrams Report' for Nov. 21st

Read the transcript to the Monday show

Guests: Don Kinsella, Mark Harris, Jay Nixon, Davidson Goldin, Clint Van Zandt, Meredith Jorgensen, Jesse Jackson, William Rusty Hubbarth, Susan Schorpen

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, a New York teacher is sentenced for having sex with a student at her school. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  Beth Geisel pleads guilty to one count of rape, but the judge says the teacher was really the victim here, that three teenage boys took advantage of her.  We talk with her lawyer.

And Snoop Dogg joins hundreds trying to keep this man alive.  Tookie Williams, the Crips gang founder, set to be executed for killing four people.  Supporters say he‘s turned his life around in prison.  Should that ever be a reason to reconsider the death penalty?

Plus, this man convicted of abducting, raping and killing 11-year-old Carlie Brucia.  Carlie‘s mother is with us. 

The program about justice starts now.


ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket tonight, a schoolteacher who pled guilty to raping an underage student got a sentence today of six months, which includes time served.  Beth Geisel has been in jail since her bail was revoked in August after a DWI arrest.  She has to check into a residential rehab center, but that means she‘ll be out of jail in time for the holidays.  On probation for 10 years, has to register as a sex offender. 

But the judge basically called Geisel the victim saying—quote—

“at this—at the time this occurred, you were needy, drinking heavily and had a low self esteem.  While you looked at this as affection, you were being used, abused and sexually abused.  You became their playmate.”

Albany County‘s district attorney blasted the judge for that statement.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It is pretty outrageous that we would characterize someone who perpetrated this offense on a youth as being anything other than a sexual offender.  The idea that he didn‘t see the young boys here as victims is offensive. 


ABRAMS:  Joining me now is Don Kinsella, who is Beth Geisel‘s attorney and Mark Harris, the Bureau Chief of Albany‘s Homicide and Special Victims Unit.  Gentlemen thanks very much for coming on the program. 

All right, Mr. Kinsella, let me start with you.  I mean what about the argument that there was a 16-year-old—quote—“victim” here and that this judge seems to be basically saying boys will be boys and—because it sounds like he‘s saying—he didn‘t say this in court, but it sure feels like he‘s saying, well, she was a woman, so I‘m going to look into why she would have done something like this.  And she was drinking and there were these other extenuating circumstances et cetera.

DON KINSELLA, BETH GEISEL‘S ATTORNEY:  That‘s exactly what he said.  There‘s no question that she engaged in the conduct with the young man and that she had been abusing alcohol.  She got involved with a couple of 17 year olds and one thing led to another with a group of boys who basically decided to pass around their experiences with her and take advantage of it. 

ABRAMS:  Look I‘ve said on this program many times that I think that a message as a society needs to be sent more to male sexual predators than to female sexual predators.  I always get tons of letters from people furious at me suggesting that there should be a double standard.  Are you basically saying, though—are you basically conceding that if she had been a man she would have been treated differently? 

KINSELLA:  Well I don‘t know.  How many cases do you hear about where there‘s one adult male and three young 16, 17-year-old girls who are engaging in various actions with them and bragging about it to their friends and communicating with each other and telling each other about it.  It is a different—it‘s a different case. 

ABRAMS:  Mark Harris, what about that?

MARK HARRIS, ALBANY HOMICIDE & SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT:  Well I don‘t know that there‘s a different standard and a different standard was applied here.  Beth Geisel took advantage of her status and stature as a teacher to perpetrate offenses against a 16-year-old boy.  She contacted that boy in the incident that she pled to.  She arranged a meeting place.  And thereafter perpetrated a sex act on that boy.  I don‘t know that she‘s any different than any other sexual offender. 

ABRAMS:  All right, I‘ll tell you what‘s different is what the judge said and I‘ll read it.  Judge Stephen Herrick said the 16-year-old in this case is a victim in the statutory sense only.  He was certainly not victimized by you in any other sense of the word.  That seems to me pretty unusual. 

HARRIS:  Well I think it is far beyond unusual.  He didn‘t talk to the 16-year-old boy. I guess he didn‘t see the 16-year-old boy‘s mother in the courtroom crying and didn‘t hear the 16-year-old boy‘s mother afterward telling me about how hard it has been on her son.  The judge‘s comment I think was totally uncalled for. 

This boy was a victim.  He was victimized by this woman on more than one occasion and 16 year olds are protected because they don‘t have the sense and the growing up that‘s required of someone to make valid decisions to engage in that. 

ABRAMS:  And that‘s the law, but as a practical matter, you would agree, wouldn‘t you, that it‘s possible that 16 and 17-year-old boys could use a woman and say, you know what, this is fun.  This is funny.  Our teacher gets drunk a lot.  We can go over and have sex with her whenever we want. 

HARRIS:  I guess that could happen.  In this situation I don‘t know that it did happen, especially with the victim in this case.  This was a teacher that flirted with boys in school and used her position to serve her own means and ends. 

ABRAMS:  Mr. Kinsella, let me read you from the 16-year-old‘s deposition.

He said after awhile Ms. Geisel came home in a cab.  She was drunk. 

She started to rub my chest and just suddenly kissed me.  I was shocked.  After her son went to bed, she took me into an office off of her bedroom and laid a blanket on the floor.  I laid down and she climbed on top of me.  She started rubbing and kissing me.  She told me she knew it was wrong, but she had been thinking about me for a while.  We then took off our clothes and had sex.

Certainly by that account doesn‘t make it sound like she was the victim. 

KINSELLA:  Well certainly when you take something out of context, but let‘s look at for instance the second incident with the 16-year-old where he put her on the speaker phone on his cell phone with two of his friends in the car.  He talked her into meeting him at the school.  He and his friends broke into the press box at the school football field.  They piled up chairs against one of the two doors that would be her only exit, got her in there, and had his two friends peeking through the window, so you know put the whole thing in. 

ABRAMS:  Fair enough.  Look, I‘ve said it before, I feel sorry for this woman.  I know many of my viewers get very angry at me when I say that.  I do.  And I think this was a fair sentence from the judge today, although this was basically—I have to run on this, Mr. Harris, but this was what was agreed to, right? 

HARRIS:  Yes. 

ABRAMS:  OK.  You had no problem with the sentence.  You just had the problem with the judge‘s comments. 

HARRIS:  It was a sentence that was agreed to by all parties, but his comments, absolutely I had a problem with.

ABRAMS:  Got it.  Thank you very much Don Kinsella and Mark Harris. 

Appreciate you coming on the program. 

KINSELLA:  Thank you.

HARRIS:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Switching topics.  They may have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars, 33 women who allegedly solicited Internet sex, but now that money may go from their accounts into the state of Missouri.  So why?  Because the women involved are all prison inmates. 

Jeff Small of affiliate KSDK in St. Louis has more.


JEFF SMALL, KSDK REPORTER (voice-over):  These are some of the pictures that instantly got the attention of men across the country surfing the Web, individuals lured by seductive letters by female inmates like a—quote—“captive angel” or “caged beauty” seeking a long-term relationship.  Others requested older gentleman reply.  Women offered to satisfy their man‘s needs and fulfill any sexual fantasies online.  Women promised steamy talk and love in exchange for cash.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We discovered a ring of women who were writing letters to men who were paying them 50 to $75 a month I guess to get excited.

SMALL:  At least 33 Missouri prisoners managed to collect nearly $300,000.  Right now it‘s not clear how they did it in just a few months, but the state acted quickly to put a stop to it. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I really don‘t know how they came up with posing on the Internet and pictures and whatnot and their personal notes are there.  You know we wanted to make sure that we froze the accounts so that we could get a full finding of what‘s going on there. 

SMALL:  Missouri‘s attorney general says the online dating service shouldn‘t be a way for inmates to cash in.  He says the law allows the money to go toward the cost of housing certain inmates.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Under Missouri law, for certain serious felonies like murder and arson and others, we are allowed to go after and make sure that they pay for their own jail time. 

SMALL:  While it‘s illegal to correspond with inmates, people are warned to think twice before exchanging cash for online love.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  People outside the prison system are sending them 25, 50, $75-checks and cash that they‘re depositing in their inmate accounts.  It‘s a relatively lucrative practice.


ABRAMS:  That was Jeff Small reporting.  I love the way Jeff Small kept saying love. 

Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon joins us now.  Mr. Attorney General, thank you very much for...


ABRAMS:  ... coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  I don‘t understand one thing.  What were they getting money for?  I mean so they‘re corresponding with these guys and these guys are what, just giving them money or they‘re doing something for the money? 

NIXON:  Well it appeared they‘re writing letters back and forth, very hot letters back and forth, as well as posing on the Internet and just taking cash that was coming in.  It stunned us the level of money that came in.  And the bottom line is under Missouri law we‘re able to get them, if they‘ve got that kind of assets, to pay for their time in jail and that‘s exactly what we‘re doing.

ABRAMS:  I‘m going to talk to you about that in a sec, but again, do you have any sense of a direct cost for something?  Were they saying if I write you a hot steamy letter you will pay me X amount or were they just getting into—quote—“relationships” with these guys and they‘re saying hey, you know I could use some money for a snickers bar in the prison canteen. 

NIXON:  In order to get more letters from them, they were asking for donations of 25 or 50 or $75.  And apparently once they‘re posted up on the Web with these suggestive pictures, they were getting a lot of attention.

ABRAMS:  How did you find out about it?

NIXON:  We were tipped off by some folks at Corrections, our Department of Corrections, indicating that were seeing abnormal amounts of money coming through their inmate accounts.  We then went to court and freeze those accounts.  We‘re in the middle right now investigating where this leads.

ABRAMS:  And these guys all know these women are in jail, right?  I mean they‘re advertising themselves as caged beauties and captive angels, right?

NIXON:  Absolutely, no doubt they do.  I mean I think there‘s some level of heat involved there.  The bottom line is that they are trying to market themselves even on the Web to take cash in.  And under Missouri law if they get that kind of money and have committed a serious offense, then we are entitled to make them pay for their...

ABRAMS:  That‘s what I want to talk to you about.  All right.  So it‘s legal, right?  I mean you are not saying what they‘re doing is illegal, right?

NIXON:  Well from a security perspective, I‘m not exactly excited that they‘re getting on the Internet...

ABRAMS:  Right.

NIXON:  ... I haven‘t quite figured out what the Department of Corrections is doing there or whether outside folks were using the pictures, but the bottom line was it‘s not illegal for an inmate to take a pen and write a letter to someone outside the prison...

ABRAMS:  Right.  But you‘re right.  There may be questions about what they‘re—you could restrict the type of use of the Internet in a prison, right, or in a jail? 

NIXON:  Certainly you can restrict the use of the Internet.  You can restrict the writing.  You can review...


NIXON:  ... the writing, but the bottom line is that we think that if folks are writing letters to and from inmates while our Department of Corrections does review a number of those things, the bottom line in this situation it clearly when hundreds of thousands of dollars were moving that way and you have Web sites and you have these very inappropriate letters going out, it‘s not a practice that should continue in our state. 

ABRAMS:  And so you‘re using now this 1988 Missouri law that basically says that when prisoners have money and it‘s been used in cases where they‘ve won lotteries or inheritances or things like that, that you have the legal right to say, look, you got to pay for the time in prison. 

NIXON:  We collected more than $800,000 last year from prison inmates.  This group of inmates, this 33 have cost the state of Missouri over $2 million for their time of incarceration, so getting back some percentage of that we think is very appropriate.

ABRAMS:  Has it been challenged in the court? 

NIXON:  Yes.  Oh yes, they fight us all the way.  The bottom line was this past number of years ago we‘ve expanded the program and worked hard to make sure that if folks have significant assets and obviously there are protection for things like child support and not having much money and whatnot, but when you get tens of thousands of dollars flying through inmate accounts, that‘s not for the $7.50 a month maximum they can earn by doing a prison job, that‘s for sure.

ABRAMS:  Attorney General Nixon, thanks for taking the time. 

Appreciate it.

NIXON:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, New York police still on the hunt for the journalist they say dressed up as a firefighter and sexually abused a woman for 12 hours.  We‘ve got breaking news to report on that investigation coming up.

And Tookie Williams founded the Crips gang, was convicted of killing four people, but his celebrity supporters say he shouldn‘t be executed because he‘s turned his life around on death row and is an inspiration.  Should that matter if he‘s been sentenced to die?

Plus, 11-year-old Carlie Brucia‘s abduction caught on this tape.  Now her killer is facing the possibility of the death penalty after a jury found him guilty.  We talk with Carlie‘s mother. 

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


ABRAMS:  We‘ve got new developments in that New York Halloween sex attack.  Peter Braunstein, a New York fashion writer, is the sole suspect.  He allegedly set two small fires in a building, then dressed as a firefighter, talked his way into a former co-worker‘s home.  What followed was a nearly 13-hour deal where the victim was tied up, gagged and repeatedly molested and terrorized while Braunstein allegedly videotaped it. 

Now we learn that he also purchased materials that could be used for a bomb over the Internet five weeks before the attack.  We‘ve got some new information just coming into us on the story.

Anchor Davidson Goldin from New York 1, the local all news cable station, has just gotten information on the purchase and the latest on a local sighting of Braunstein as well.

David, what do you know?

DAVIDSON GOLDIN, NEW YORK 1 ANCHOR:  Well the latest, Dan, as has been reported over the last couple of days, Peter Braunstein bought about nine pounds of potassium nitrate.  As you indicated, if mixed the right way, that could be used as a bomb, even to bring down a building.

But police say now that—they are not worried about that because a small about of that potassium nitrate was used to set those fires that you described, which was the way that Mr. Braunstein was able to enter his victim‘s apartment.  The rest of that potassium nitrate we‘re now told is in good hands, safe hands.  Whether that means the police have it or they know where it is, it does mean that it is not with Mr. Braunstein as he travels around the city evading the police. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  What about possible sightings?  Now there was this guy at the coffee shop last week.  I understand that you were actually with the police when that—when they heard about that one and there may have been another one today.  Fill us in.

GOLDIN:  Well there was a sighting today, an apparent sighting.  Police don‘t give the much credibility.  And the original sighting that you mentioned last Thursday, I believe—I remember I was on other business at one police plaza and as the manhunt was going on in Brooklyn, New York, the police at their headquarters were giving it zero credibility.  A guy, a coffee shop owner did say he thought he saw Peter Braunstein, but that doesn‘t mean he did and police actually don‘t believe he ever did. 

ABRAMS:  So as of now, I mean it sounds like you‘re saying there was another sighting today, another one that they don‘t give any credence to, which could put us back at the point we have no idea where he is. 

GOLDIN:  I think that‘s exactly where that puts us.  The police have no idea where he is, at least no idea that they are saying.  And these alleged sightings don‘t seem to be anything other than people who have seen his picture, the local tabloids have been playing this story.  His sketch has been on TV.  People think they saw him, but the cops don‘t believe them. 

ABRAMS:  Clint Van Zandt joins us now, the former FBI profiler, MSNBC analyst.  You know, Clint, I did worry when—about the guy from the coffee shop from last week. 


ABRAMS:  The cops were there within minutes, right...


ABRAMS:  ... with bloodhounds.


ABRAMS:  If he had been there, I guess he could have gotten on the subway or something.  But you would think that they would have been able to follow his scent and be able to find him if they were there within minutes. 

VAN ZANDT:  Well as you know, they had a bloodhound there pretty quickly.  They had his pillowcase, something, so they can follow the scent.  And the other thing is you know somewhere along the line, you got to realize, as you and I know and others, that eyewitness identification is the worst possible form, but you got to get tips somewhere and you know police by themselves can‘t do it.  You need the public to do it, but you know years and years ago when I was a FBI agent, we were looking for Patty Hearst and I chased Patty Hearst sightings all over this country, 99 and a half that were wrong all the time.

ABRAMS:  The father of Peter Braunstein, Alberto, was on this program last week, very emotional interview.


ABRAMS:  The father is doing everything that he can to try to help the authorities actually.  Here is what he said.  I think it‘s worth playing again.


ALBERTO BRAUNSTEIN, PETER BRAUNSTEIN‘S FATHER:  Peter, I beg of you, please, turn yourself in voluntarily.  Don‘t wait for the police to capture you.  Just call and walk in voluntarily and we‘ll try to cure you as soon as you surrender.  You are sick.  So, please, don‘t prolong this agony.  I beg of you, put an end to it and call the police. 


ABRAMS:  You know, David, there‘s a lot of reports that this guy may be enjoying the spotlight and enjoying the fact that he‘s on the cover of newspapers.  Even his father was talking to us about that, but if no one has seen him since then, is this just sort of psychological evaluation of how much of a nut job he is? 

GOLDIN:  Well it may not be.  As you know, he was in some trouble earlier last year for tormenting an ex-girlfriend.  At the time when police seized his computer, they found writings in which he described a scene almost identical to what went wrong on, on Halloween night where he set a fire outside a victim‘s apartment, broke in and videotaped her, sexually abused her while tormenting her.  And so while we don‘t know how he‘s feeling emotionally right now, we do know that the police believe he had written about this exact kind of attack before allegedly committing it. 

ABRAMS:  And Clint, does that make him easier to catch? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well I think the guy is around.  The question is you know does he want his story really to be told?  This guy is a writer, Dan.  That‘s what writers do, so I would not be surprised if he‘s writing some of the newspapers, writing the police.  He‘s going to write someone to explain his side of the story.  When he starts to reveal that part of him, maybe then law enforcement can reach out that friendly hand and ask him to come on in. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Davidson Goldin, Clint Van Zandt, thanks a lot. 

We‘ve got some breaking news we‘ve got to get to.  Thanks guys.

GOLDIN:  Sure.

ABRAMS:  It is in the case of 18-year-old David Ludwig, accused of murdering the parents of his 14-year-old girlfriend, Kara Borden.  We are just learning that they have decided not, not to charge him with kidnapping, kidnapping Kara.

Remember they left together.  Why is that important?  Well according to just released court documents when Kara Borden left with Ludwig after the murders the authorities say she left willingly.  Ludwig reportedly told detectives—quote—“Kara told Ludwig that she wanted to stay with him and they drove West with the intent to get away as far as possible, get married, and start a new life.  Lancaster County D.A. Donald Totaro says kidnapping charges that had been filed against Ludwig will be dropped at his preliminary hearing next month.

Meredith Jorgensen of NBC affiliate WGAL joins us now on the phone with the latest.  Meredith, what does this tell us about Kara?  Are they saying that she may have actually been involved now? 

MEREDITH JORGENSEN, WGAL-TV REPORTER (via phone):  Well, Dan, for a long time, they were saying—they were maintaining Kara‘s innocence and they were thinking she‘s a victim in this case, but this is really a significant change right now for the case.  Documents that we got today from Lancaster County District Attorney Don Totaro‘s office say that she did go willingly with her boyfriend right after she saw him shoot her parents. 

ABRAMS:  So wait.  So the documents say that she actually witnessed her boyfriend shot her own parents? 

JORGENSEN:  That‘s right, Dan.  The documents say that first Kara saw him shoot his—her father, Michael Borden.  And then she actually ran away from the house.  That‘s when her boyfriend, David Ludwig, allegedly shot her mother.  And then David Ludwig was driving around looking for Kara trying to find out where she was.  And apparently the documents say she was running down the road towards him and that‘s when he opened up the car door and Kara got right into the car and she did want to get away as far as possible, get married and start a new life, according to Kara.

ABRAMS:  Wow.  So is it possible based on those facts, again, depending on her intent and what was going on in her head that she could be charged as an accomplice? 

JORGENSEN:  We are not quiet sure yet what the charges against Kara will be.  We‘re trying to get in touch with her attorney.  But they‘re still investigating that.  As of right now, she has just been a victim, but they are really trying to see if she could have been a part of this. 

ABRAMS:  But it‘s clear now that she is no longer I guess technically a victim, right?  Because the one crime that she was involved in, the kidnapping, has now been dropped? 

JORGENSEN:  Yes.  They‘ve officially dropped or they will officially drop those kidnapping charges on December 19 for their preliminary hearing.  So right now Ludwig is—you know Ludwig will be charged with just the two counts of criminal homicide.  So that‘s a major turn in this case so far. 

ABRAMS:  And again, just so I‘m clear on this.  What exactly did the authorities say that she saw with regard to her parents being killed? 

JORGENSEN:  I‘ll read to you.  We have the documents here.  This says that Kara was present in her home when defendant David Ludwig arrived on Sunday.  And after a lengthy conversation with the father, she observed the defendant pull out a gun and shoot her father.  And as she fled from the house, she then saw the defendant turn and point his gun towards her mother.  So I mean we can get from this information that she was really there and saw this happen on Sunday morning, last Sunday morning. 

ABRAMS:  Wow.  Let me bring in Clint Van—bring back Clint Van Zandt.  Clint, this is a huge development in this case. 

VAN ZANDT:  It really is, Dan.  What we have to look at this now, I mean is this a 14-year-old sociopath who was there.  You know what I think we have to consider is a 14-year-old girl who just saw her two primary caretakers murdered in front of her, who just allegedly spent the night before with her boyfriend, you know could she really—I sound like a defense attorney, but you know could she really differentiate losing her parents, her boyfriend right there. 

You know did she have the ability to consciously make that decision?  And more importantly, is there anything to say yes, they talked the night before, the week before of let‘s get rid of mom and dad and then we can run off together.  That to me would tie it together and we‘ve not heard that. 

ABRAMS:  If she were an adult, Clint—I mean let‘s assume for a moment that she weren‘t 14, which she is. 

VAN ZANDT:  Yes.  Sure.

ABRAMS:  Let‘s assume for a moment that she were 18 or 19 and you heard a story where you said you know basically the same set of facts and she was in the house and watched it happen automatically—and then had said she wanted to go ahead and get married to the guy after that, people would automatically be looking to her as a possible suspect. 

VAN ZANDT:  Dan, this is where the shrinks are going to come out of the woodwork.  They‘re going to talk about identification with the aggressor.  Could she really consciously make that when she saw her whole life basically explode before her?  Could she make that decision?  And at 14, you know I‘ve got to cut her some slack until we find out was there any forethought, any planning on her part.

ABRAMS:  Right.  Well said and again, we should point out that she has not been charged with anything that we don‘t even—no one is suggesting that she‘s a suspect in anything.  All we‘re being told is that‘s she no longer technically a victim in the kidnapping.

Clint Van Zandt and Meredith Jorgensen, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

VAN ZANDT:  Thanks, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, this man, the co-founder of one of the most violent gangs in America, is scheduled to be executed next month for killing four people.  His supporters say his life should be spared because he‘s turned it around behind bars, helping people avoid gangs, but should that matter?  We debate with one person who just met with Williams, the Reverend Jesse Jackson.

And next week a jury decides if Joseph Smith should die for kidnapping, raping and murdering 11-year-old Carlie Brucia.  Carlie‘s mother is with us.

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to help find missing sex offenders before they strike.  Our search today is in Iowa.

Authorities need your help finding Eric Bloomburg.  He‘s 42, 5‘10”, 167, was convicted of kidnapping, hasn‘t registered with the authorities.  If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, please call the Iowa Sex Offender Registry, 515-281-4976.

Be right back.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, he‘s been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, written children‘s books all from his cell on death row.  His execution is scheduled for next month.  Should his more recent accomplishments help save his life?  First the headlines.



SNOOP DOGG, RAPPER:  This man who they want to execute on December 13 has inspired me.  And by him inspiring me, hopefully I will inspire you guys to want to stand up and do something and make a voice for what he‘s doing and what he‘s trying to do and that‘s make a change in the community. 


ABRAMS:  Rapper Snoop Dogg trying to rally high school students to support clemency for Stanley Tookie Williams, cofounder of the Crips, one of the most violent and notorious street gangs.  Williams has spent 24 years on death row for murdering four people.  Despite the verdict Williams insist he‘s innocent and now on what could be his final days, Williams and his supporters are pleading with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to spare his life. 

They say Williams changed during six years in solitary confinement at San Quentin.  Since then, according to his petition for clemency, he dedicated his life to doing whatever he could from where he was to end gang violence and to warn others of the errors of the path he had followed. 

Williams has written nine books educating children on the dangers of joining gangs.  He‘s been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, even a Nobel Peace Prize, although anyone can be nominated for those awards.

He speaks from death row to children and educators about gang life, started the Tookie Patrol for Peace, which he builds as a strategy for peace and reconstruction in the community and says this. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I feel that every gang member (INAUDIBLE) should be apologizing for the madness that we‘re causing our people to endure.


ABRAMS:  The California law enforcement officials are pushing for the execution to go ahead.  L.A. D.A. Steve Cooley, Police Chief William Bratton and some relatives of Williams‘ victims are opposing clemency.

Joining me now the Reverend Jesse Jackson, founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.  He met with Tookie Williams at San Quentin today.  And Rusty Hubbarth is an attorney and vice president of Justice for All, a victim‘s rights group.  Gentlemen thanks for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

All right, Reverend Jackson, I understand you met with Tookie Williams today.  Is he hopeful that he‘s going to get clemency?

REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION:  Well one, he declares his innocence and says that the reason he did not apologize to the families that that would be incrimination.  He feels he‘s been wrongfully convicted with incompetent counsel, never had a jury of his piers, no sufficient evidence of blood evidence or fingerprints that he did it, so he declares innocence. 

I am rather convinced that he deserves a fair trial with competent counsel.  And at this point, killing him without adequate information would be a bad deal.  You know the Senate committee here in California has formed a commission on fair administration of justice for fear that more...

ABRAMS:  But see...

JACKSON:  ... will be killed.

ABRAMS:  But Reverend Jackson, look, rearguing his case in terms of his innocence, is not going to get him clemency.  I mean it‘s just not...

JACKSON:  ... may be clemency or it may be a reprieve.  I was here two years ago when Kevin Cooper was accused of killing and three hours before death, his --  because information had not been admitted was in fact admitted, his life was spared and so...

ABRAMS:  Right.

JACKSON:  ... in substantial information then really does matter.  You raise other question about if one does redeemable things, should that give them some spare time...

ABRAMS:  That‘s the only way I think this guy is --  that‘s the only thing I think is going to save his life, I‘ve got to tell you.

JACKSON:  Well I tell you, I think that life without parole, those gives one the chance to be redeemed and to make a contribution, whereas death in fact takes away all those possibilities.

ABRAMS:  Rusty, look, I don‘t want to reargue the guilt or innocence part of this...

WILLIAM RUSTY HUBBARTH, JUSTICE FOR ALL:  That‘s not our job here today. 

ABRAMS:  Right.

HUBBARTH:  That was the job of the Ninth Circuit and the United States Supreme Court, which has repeatedly denied Tookie any further relief.  It isn‘t a question of...

ABRAMS:  Right.

HUBBARTH:  ... any procedural...

ABRAMS:  So let‘s focus on the issue of clemency, all right.  Clemency is basically the governor‘s power to say even in a death penalty case I think that this person‘s life is worth saving.  And the argument from his supporters goes like this.  He has served a lot of time on death row. 

He has been trying to encourage gang members not to join gangs.  He‘s been writing books along those lines.  He‘s been helping to keep people out of gangs.  He‘s the kind of guy if you keep him in prison for life anyway, who can be helpful to have there. 

HUBBARTH:  Well clemency is a discretionary function.  There is no right to clemency.  And you could make a sympathetic argument, as various people in this conversation have done before in Texas, for any murder that‘s there.  But the bottom line remains that four people are dead at this person‘s hand.  And that  jury of his California peers sentenced him to be executed, a sentence that is reserved for the most heinous crimes in the codebooks. 

He is guilty.  And the California authorities say that up until approximately 10 years ago, he was still running the Crips from prison...

ABRAMS:  Do you think that it should ever matter, Rusty...


ABRAMS:  Rusty...

JACKSON:  ... people have been released from death row who were convicted not by a jury of their peers, convicted without substantial evidence, convicted without competent counsel...

HUBBARTH:  That‘s not our job...

JACKSON:  ... and so...

HUBBARTH:  It‘s the court‘s job to look at that.


ABRAMS:  But I got to tell you...


ABRAMS:  ... I also think it is the weakest argument looking at this case in particular, Reverend Jackson, it is the weakest of the arguments that‘s going—to save this guy‘s life.  The strongest argument is not his innocence.

JACKSON:  Well I think there are two issues here.  One is wrongful conviction.  It is an issue for him, (A), and but (B), I think the issue of can one be redeemed, can one make a contribution and turn one‘s scars and one‘s errors into being redeemable.  Clearly, he has made that contribution. 

HUBBARTH:  Four dead people rises above the level of a personal error and if he wants to leave a legacy that may have been some benefit, then a legacy would be worthy of respect, but not some perception that he has redeemed himself and risen above the crime that put him on...


ABRAMS:  Wait.  Hang on.  Hang on.


ABRAMS:  Rusty, no one‘s talking about rising above. 


ABRAMS:  The question is whether he should be spared the death penalty and instead get life in prison without parole? 



JACKSON:  ... since there is so much reasonable doubt...


JACKSON:  ... about these killings and profile, the Senate committee in California is forming a commission on studying the fair administration of justice.  Fair administration of justice is an issue here and therefore why not grant him a reprieve until that committee...


ABRAMS:  If the courts do that...

HUBBARTH:  ... there is no grounds for a reprieve.

ABRAMS:  Look, if the courts do that, Reverend Jackson, that‘s—you know look, then this is a non-issue.  If the courts step in and say—then they don‘t need the governor at least for now.  They can say look, we‘ve got a reprieve from the courts.

The question is, assuming the courts don‘t do that, which I have to tell you it does not look like the courts are going to do, although as you point out, in death penalty cases, very often they will err on the side of caution and say you know what, let‘s postpone it again.  Let‘s delay it.

Let‘s make sure everything was done properly.  But if that‘s not going to happen, it is going to be in the governor‘s hands and the only way that this man‘s life is going to be spared is going to be I think based on the governor saying I think he‘s done so many good things that he deserves another chance.  And Rusty, I guess you‘re saying that it doesn‘t matter to you.  I‘m not criticizing this.  I‘m asking it as a question.  Are you saying that it simply shouldn‘t matter what the person has done in prison? 

HUBBARTH:  No, it does not matter.  And the governor has the ability to uphold the verdict of the people of California as opposed to a sympathetic argument or as we had unfortunately (INAUDIBLE) in Texas reprieves being granted based solely on political pandering.  And that happened twice during the ‘90‘s in the state of Texas.  And it‘s abhorrent that these factors can take precedence over the will of the people.  This man left four people dead, bottom line...


HUBBARTH:  ... there‘s no question...


ABRAMS:  Final word Reverend Jackson.

JACKSON:  That is a conclusion subject to much error.  And the fact is it was not a jury of his peers (A)...


ABRAMS:  Let‘s be clear...


ABRAMS:  No one is entitled to a jury of their peers.


ABRAMS:  They‘re not.

JACKSON:  There was not a black on that jury.  That is a factor in fair administration of justice...

ABRAMS:  It‘s not—not legally, it‘s not...


ABRAMS:  Not legally it‘s not, Reverend Jackson. 


JACKSON:  How can we ignore the racial profiling in our culture...

ABRAMS:  Because the bottom line is...


ABRAMS:  ... if we do it one way, we‘re going to have to do it the other way...

HUBBARTH:  And this isn‘t a question of...

ABRAMS:  Hang on a sec, Rusty...

HUBBARTH:  ... racial profiling.

ABRAMS:  Hang on.  Hang on a sec.  If you are going to start saying—counting how many blacks are on each jury, you‘re going to have start counting how many whites are on each jury and you‘re going to have to start doing it in every case.  And so then the argument goes every time there‘s a black man on trial, we got to start counting how many blacks are on the jury. 


ABRAMS:  It‘s not going to happen that way.

JACKSON:  (INAUDIBLE) we know now that gender and race do matter and juries should be of one‘s peers.  That is a factor in this...


JACKSON:  Competent counsel is a factor in this.  Substantial information—why did Kevin Cooper get—let off...


ABRAMS:  Reverend Jackson gets...


JACKSON:  ... brought in information that has not been allowed in before.

ABRAMS:  Reverend Jackson gets the last word.  I‘ve made my point on this pretty clear I think.  Reverend Jackson and Rusty Hubbarth, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

HUBBARTH:  Thank you.

JACKSON:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, it took only hours for a jury to find Joseph Smith guilty of kidnapping, raping and murdering little Carlie Brucia.  Next week the same jury determines whether he gets the death penalty.  Carlie‘s mother joins us, coming up.

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


ABRAMS:  Coming up, a jury found her daughter‘s killer guilty.  Next week the penalty phase begins.  Eleven-year-old Carlie Brucia‘s mother joins us next.


ABRAMS:  It took a jury just five hours to decide the fate of Joseph Smith, the man seen here, abducting 11-year-old Carlie Brucia from a Florida carwash in February of 2004.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We the jury finds as follows as to count one of the charges, the defendant is guilty of murder in the first degree as charged.


ABRAMS:  Jurors also found him guilty of kidnapping and sexually assaulting little Carlie.  As if the video wasn‘t enough, the evidence against Smith was piled high from Smith‘s confessions to his DNA on Carlie‘s shirt to Carlie‘s hair and fibers from her shirt turning up in the car Smith was driving.  His sentencing is scheduled for next Monday and the same jury will decide if he gets the death penalty. 

Joining me now is Carlie Brucia‘s mother, Susan Schorpen.  Thanks very much, Susan, for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.


ABRAMS:  How are you doing? 


ABRAMS:  I assume that this has been a rough few days for you even since the conviction? 


ABRAMS:  Was the trial itself particularly difficult?  Did it allow you to sort of stay focused on just making sure this guy was convicted and then after it ended that there was sort of a little bit of sense of where do we go now or give me a little—bring me inside a little bit.

SCHORPEN:  I didn‘t know what—everything that he had done to her, so when I was listening to a lot of the testimony it was really hard.  It was really, really hard.  It was my little girl.  The penalty phase, I‘m looking forward to.  You know his sentencing—I want him dead.  He didn‘t give my daughter any, you know any choices, any options. 

ABRAMS:  What do you plan to say in the penalty phase? 

SCHORPEN:  I‘m not sure yet.  I still have to go over—I have to write that—what I‘m going to say, Dan, and I have to have it approved. 

ABRAMS:  Assume it‘s going to be pretty hard to have to—do you want to look at this guy?  Do you want to talk to him or would you rather not?

SCHORPEN:  No, I want to talk to him.  I‘d like to know.  I want answers.  You know, I want to know, you know what she said. 

ABRAMS:  You say that you didn‘t know some of the details...

SCHORPEN:  No, they couldn‘t tell me before the trial.  You know I sat there just like everybody else and was told at the same time as everybody else.


SCHORPEN:  It was really hard, very, very hard to swallow.  It is hard to sleep at night.  My life is—you know my family is wrecked.  It is just very difficult. 

ABRAMS:  Do you wish that they had given you some advance notice?  I mean I know in some cases they‘ll say to people hey look, you know you may not want to be in the courtroom for this part or...

SCHORPEN:  I wasn‘t ready before the trial to hear everything.  A lot of it I watched at home in privacy and just cried. 

ABRAMS:  Was the waiting as the jury deliberated particularly difficult for you? 

SCHORPEN:  As you said before, the evidence, it was so stacked high against him, he didn‘t have a chance.  He doesn‘t have a prayer.  It‘s just, you know his death is just not going to come fast enough for me.  Our system just—it doesn‘t allow it to come fast enough.  He‘s got so many appeals, years of appeals and my daughter didn‘t have years.  You know it just—it is not fair. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, I said about this case that I had rarely seen a case go to trial with this much evidence against a particular person.  What do you want people to take away from this if there‘s something that people watching can take away from this case and from your experience, what would it be? 

SCHORPEN:  I want people to help us change the laws.  The laws have to change.  Our children aren‘t safe.  We are not safe.  We need to band together.  We need to watch out for each other.  We need to watch out for each other‘s children.  I mean it happened to my daughter.  It was 6:00 on a Sunday afternoon.  She was just walking down the street.  It was Super Bowl Sunday.  There was people outside and he just walked off with my daughter.  I just—I hope people become more aware and look after their neighbors. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Susan look, this isn‘t going to be an easy time for you.  We‘ll be watching you.  We‘ll be rooting for you, thinking about you. 

SCHORPEN:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Thanks a lot for talking the time.  Good luck. 

SCHORPEN:  Take care.  God bless.

ABRAMS:  Be right back.


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Time for “Your Rebuttal”.  My “Closing Argument” on Friday—I don‘t have time for one today—many universities now imposing restrictions on tailgating.  I said most of these were just feel good egghead administrative measures. 

K. Carlson in Indiana, “The ones that get drunk and rowdy and cause trouble probably know how to find trouble anyway with or without kegs of beer.”

But Dr. Ronald Hodges not happy with my tone.  “Your nearly sarcastic comments only further take away from any credibility you had.  Hey, I have an idea.  Why don‘t we have a tailgate party in the parking lot of MSNBC, you can be the head cheerleader.  I hope you appreciate the dish of your own sarcastic style.”

Oh, Dr. Hodges, you got me on that one.  You mean like be the cheerleader in the parking lot?  That is so biting.  Tough.  Good call.  You got me, Doctor.

Your e-mails  We go through them at the end of the show. 

Now to our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike again.  This week our focus is in Iowa.

Authorities looking for Christopher Brittain.  He‘s 34, 5‘11”, 200 pounds, convicted of molesting a girl younger than 13.  His whereabouts unknown.  If you have got any information, please call the Iowa Sex Offender Registry, 515-281-4976.

Be right back.


ABRAMS:  “HARDBALL” is up next.  See you tomorrow.


Copy:     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.