Guests: Adam Lisberg, Davidson Goldin, Gary Casimir, Susan Filan, Clint Van Zandt, Michael Sapraicone, John DePetro, Loren Steffy, Gary Brown, Ron Fischetti
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, new clues could link a bouncer at the bar where Imette St. Guillen was last seen before her brutally rape and murder and did the bar‘s owner tell police the truth about what happened that night?
The program about justice starts now.
This is the man being held by New York police on a parole violation. A man who could also be a suspect in Imette St. Guillen‘s murder. He was questioned by detectives in connection with the case. There have been searches executed.
Hi everyone. First up on the docket, the investigation into the murder of Imette St. Guillen. Here is what we have learned in the past 24 hours. Police searched the home and van of Darryl Littlejohn for hours, searching for any clues that could be connected with Imette‘s murder, even carting away the backseat of his van. Littlejohn seen here in a 2003 mug shot is a 41-year-old ex-con and bouncer who was apparently seen with Imette the night she was abducted.
The “New York Daily News” reporting they were spotted together outside The Falls bar at about 4:00 a.m. on February the 25th, Littlejohn in a van and Imette standing outside talking to him. Her body found about 8:30 that night. She had been sexually assaulted, strangled, a sock stuffed down her mouth, her face wrapped in packing tape. She was left in a vacant lot in Brooklyn, New York.
Cell phone records now could link Littlejohn to that area where Imette‘s body was found. The “Daily News” also reporting that Littlejohn was the only male employee of The Falls to refuse to give investigators a DNA sample. A “New York Post” reporting that Littlejohn showed up for work with a scratch on the back of his neck about an hour after St. Guillen‘s body was found.
Joining me now “New York Daily News” reporter Adam Lisberg who has been on top of the story since the beginning and “New York Sun” columnist Davidson Goldin joins us as well. All right, Adam, a lot of new details coming out today and a lot of this seemingly incriminating towards Littlejohn.
ADAM LISBERG, “NEW YORK DAILY NEWS” REPORTER: Yes. I mean I want to preface this all by saying you know we can‘t find somebody guilty, but he does seem to be the guy that the police are focusing all their energy on for at least since Sunday.
ABRAMS: Darryl Littlejohn was spotted sitting in a van outside his SoHo workplace talking with the student as she stood on the sidewalk in the last moments she was seen alive. Do you know spotted by who?
LISBERG: It‘s a little unclear. We are hearing different reports from different sources and I don‘t want to say definitively who saw what, but there weren‘t many people on the street that night and the people who were there were people who work at the bar with Darryl Littlejohn.
ABRAMS: Because that in and of itself is a big problem for him because that‘s not, Davidson Goldin, what he told the authorities, right?
DAVIDSON GOLDIN, “NEW YORK SUN” COLUMNIST: What the authorities had been saying early last week and they seemed pretty definitive on this and we talked about this at length was that Imette had left by herself. That‘s what made this such a strange case. Where did she disappear to? No video cameras nearby had her image on them and the question was where did she go?
Now we are learning that about a week after the crime was committed over the weekend the bar‘s owner suddenly talked to the police and say oh well you know there is little more information than we gave that was presented this weekend as if the bar‘s owner or the bar‘s lawyer suddenly had some sort of pang of—a feeling of conscience—that their conscience hit them about this. What it turns out, though, according to police and police sources, is that they were beginning to develop leads that perhaps something had gone on near the bar—were involving people at the bar and they put some pressure on people associated with the bar...
ABRAMS: Let‘s be clear. Then the people who were involved with the bar were lying initially about what they saw or didn‘t see or what they knew happened or didn‘t happen?
GOLDIN: Well lying is a strong word, but it does sound like they were lying. That‘s certainly every indication. What we do know is the police were under the impression she left alone. Now we are hearing people linked with the bar saying well this bouncer at least escorted her out and perhaps even had this conversation with her at the car.
ABRAMS: Adam, do you know anything about that?
LISBERG: There—we have been running down reports today that people in the bar heard her making noise of some sort as she was leaving. And what that noise was, and what exactly she may be saying we are still nailing that down. You‘re going to have to read tomorrow‘s paper to find out exactly.
LISBERG: It certainly you know seems to be circumstantial evidence that is leading the police to pay a lot more attention to what happened around 4:00 a.m. there.
ABRAMS: There was a report this morning, I believe it was from another New York paper...
ABRAMS: ... reporting that there had been a scream heard in the bar.
Is that right?
LISBERG: That‘s what they reported but we don‘t think it‘s true.
ABRAMS: You don‘t think it‘s true—you are nodding?
GOLDIN: What the police are saying and what we are getting a clear sense of is there is a lot out there that‘s not true. So what is true and what isn‘t true is at this point becoming sort of tough to pin down. What does seem to be true and that‘s what we can focus on is that about this bouncer, Mr. Littlejohn apparently walked her out, escorted her out of the bar, that his cell phone—because when you move from area to area that the cell phone towers pick up—even if you don‘t use your phone they can pick up that you were there.
That his cell phone was in the area where the body was found and that they are looking into whether or not various tape and hairs and other sorts of evidence that were found at the bar and in the bar building match what was found on Imette‘s body. So there‘s a lot that is true, but some of these specific details we are getting the sense might be a bit of an exaggeration.
ABRAMS: Here—this again from your reporting, Adam, from the “Daily News”, Littlejohn was the only male employee of The Falls to refuse to give investigators a DNA sample.
LISBERG: Well that doesn‘t seem to have helped him much because authorities had his DNA on file from one of his arrests back in 2000.
ABRAMS: Right. But it still does...
ABRAMS: ... beg the question of why was he refusing to give his DNA sample?
LISBERG: Sure. You certainly have the right not to give DNA voluntarily to the police...
ABRAMS: And we have the right...
ABRAMS: Yes, we have the right to question why he is not doing it.
LISBERG: Right. Right. But...
GOLDIN: There is a lot to question about this guy, not the least of which is why he has given about four or five different names over the years. Each time he‘s been in jail almost he had a different name, in some cases matching what we are seeing now are comic book characters. The last stint he did in jail, a 10-year-sentence, served about seven and a half, eight years for was armed robbery of a bank on Long Island. His name was Jonathan Blaze...
GOLDIN: ... so he certainly doesn‘t always seem to tell the truth.
ABRAMS: And Adam, do you know anything about this business about showing up with a scratch on the back of his neck?
LISBERG: It‘s one of the details we are still trying to nail down. I don‘t want to say anything definitive about that yet.
ABRAMS: Again, I can read the paper tomorrow though.
ABRAMS: Yes. All right.
ABRAMS: All right, Adam and Davidson stick around. Let me bring in our panel here, private investigator and former NYPD detective Michael Sapraicone joins us, MSNBC analyst and former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt, criminal defense attorney Gary Casimir and MSNBC analyst and former Connecticut prosecutor Susan Filan is in house here.
All right. Gary, look, you‘ve been reminding us to be very careful about how we talk about this guy. But, it does seem with each and every detail that it‘s harder to defend him, is it not?
GARY CASIMIR, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. Well, obviously, this information that just came out is incredible stuff. A owner of a bar and a bartender completely forget to mention that this man walked her out and then they heard muffled screams. I mean I think an investigation where a woman is found with her head shaved and a sock placed in her mouth and dumped in Brooklyn, New York a few miles and you are the last one to see her and she might have screamed it‘s not something you just forget.
And you know, I think the “Daily News” report, I‘m not sure if it‘s “Daily News”, I apologize. The idea that they lied or might not have lied or just easily forgotten—forgot to mention this seems a bit disingenuous or a bit you know hard to believe. This was crucial evidence and as you said before how much is true and how much is not is key here. We don‘t know exactly how much...
ABRAMS: Let me clear, Davidson, was the owner there as far as we know at the bar that night?
GOLDIN: We don‘t know because the name that was used in the paper today is out there. We‘ll say Michael Dorrian is the name in the “New York Post” today, an owner of the bar, we are being told very definitely though that name is incorrect. So—and one of the other owners of the bar is quoted elsewhere saying that there were no owners there that night.
So it‘s very—it‘s not clear who was there. What is clear is that at least one or two people present in the bar, whether employees or an owner were present when Mr. Littlejohn was asked to escort Imette out. We know she had been drinking for a while. Everybody—the toxicology reports indicate she was fairly drunk. It seems clear that he walked her out.
ABRAMS: And that in and of itself, Susan, is a big problem for him.
SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It‘s a huge problem, Dan. I mean the fact that he‘s telling inconsistent statements to the police and the fact that there are witnesses that didn‘t tell the police upfront what they know is a very significant problem. I can‘t understand how they would be so reckless and irresponsible not to assist law enforcement with what is their duty in this case.
CASIMIR: Yes, I just want to say one thing.
CASIMIR: He never denied talking to her or walking her out of the bar. Maybe not in stuff I read just recently. I think he said he had a conversation with her. He told police that he said she was a cop and he was a marshal or something to that effect. I think the “Daily News” reported or something to that extent. And if he is the bouncer at this bar...
ABRAMS: “New York Post”, yes.
CASIMIR: ... if he is the bouncer at the bar it would not be uncommon for him to be at the door or escorting her out as he said. I‘m not saying that—once again, I don‘t know if this man is guilty or not. The evidence does not look favorable towards him, but so far what I‘m hearing here is conflicting stories from people who were at the scene and would have no reason—imagine a woman being found—if I owned a place or you, Dan, a woman is found in Brooklyn and know the last person that was with her comes back to work and you forget to mention what he did with her? It‘s just hard to believe or conceive that anybody who is running a place would let something like that—would not...
ABRAMS: We‘ll talk a little bit later about the possible liability for the bar in this context, but you wanted...
GOLDIN: I was going to say, Dan, exactly that. That if you want to come up with reasons why the bar owners...
ABRAMS: All right, we‘ll talk about that...
ABRAMS: Yes, let‘s talk about that in a minute.
ABRAMS: Yes, I mean look...
ABRAMS: ... and this—look, this guy, I mean look, if he‘s refusing to give a DNA sample, if he really was seen with her sitting in a van talking to her, that is a different story than the one it seems, at least, and correct me if I‘m wrong, Adam, that is a different story than he gave your co-reporter, correct, who he spoke to?
LISBERG: Yes, just remembered seeing her having a drink, but is very vague on details, on the things that he claimed to remember or couldn‘t remember. You know, the—remember, The Falls bar was swarming with reporters for a week after it first emerged that she—that was the last place she was seen. And in none of their statements to police or to all the media hoard there did anyone ever bat an eye that there was anything untoward about this. Suddenly we are starting to hear these different versions emerge, which I agree is an odd thing to happen when you know that there is a dead woman and a killer on the loose.
ABRAMS: Well, look, and this is—again, this is, again, from the “New York Post” and David‘s telling us it is not Michael Dorrian. It could have been some other Dorrian. There are a bunch of brothers there, et cetera, but Dorrian told cops that Littlejohn hauled Imette out a side door of the building. Dorrian and the unidentified bartender said that moments later they heard arguing in a hallway just outside a door to the bar. They then heard a scream from the same direction but it sounds like, Adam, you are saying that your reporting has not confirmed that.
LISBERG: Remember, the newspaper that reported that also reported the wrong name of the owner involved.
ABRAMS: Fair enough. Here is Addie Harris, the aunt of Darryl Littlejohn, speaking yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What‘s his personality? Is he a good guy? Is he capable of something...
ADDIE HARRIS, DARRYL LITTLEJOHN‘S AUNT: Not this, no. I can‘t say, to be honest with you, I don‘t know. Anybody is capable of anything. But I don‘t know. Because I wasn‘t there. I don‘t know it because I wasn‘t there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was your first reaction when you heard that he has been a suspect?
HARRIS: To be honest, I said that‘s not a characteristic of him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Everyone just stick around here because coming up, a lot of our viewers, a lot of people still saying Imette may have been looking for trouble by being alone at a bar late at night. Now, a Boston radio talk show host is saying the same thing on his show. You know I disagree with that. I will talk to him next. We will also talk about whether the bar can be liable.
And the star witness, Enron‘s former CFO Andy Fastow takes the stand telling jurors how the former Enron CEO knew about the illegal shenanigans he was engaging in.
Your e-mails firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: We are back and we are learning some disturbing new details about the gruesome murder and rape of Imette St. Guillen. We‘re learning that people who either ran the bar or own the bar where she was last seen may have known a lot more than they said. And you know what else? That bouncer who is being questioned, maybe he shouldn‘t have been working there at all. Why? The law. Remember, this guy is a convicted felon.
Put up number eight here, the rap sheet of this guy. First-degree robbery as Darryl Littlejohn, criminal possession of stolen property and controlled substance as Darryl Banks. Criminal possession of controlled substance as Damon Wells. Criminal possession of controlled substance as John Handsome. Criminal use of firearms and first-degree robbery as Jonathon Blaze.
You know what? New York State Alcohol Beverage Control Law, no person holding any license shall knowingly employ in connection with his business in any capacity whatsoever any person who has been convicted of a felony who is not subsequent to such conviction received an executive pardon. He didn‘t get that. A certificate of good conduct—didn‘t get that—or the relief from disability provided by law or the written approval of the state liquor authority permitting such employment. Didn‘t get any of that. So, Gary, the bar could be in trouble, right?
CASIMIR: Absolutely. I mean, we are talking about a liquor authority violation and the liquor authority of the state of New York will probably issue the violation on the bar and I‘m not sure now if it‘s Mr. Dorrian or another person...
ABRAMS: What about a lawsuit against the bar...
ABRAMS: I mean Susan, couldn‘t they sue the bar saying—the family of Imette saying you hired this bouncer there.
FILAN: Absolutely, Dan. I mean not only did they hire this bouncer who is allegedly there to protect the security of the people patronizing the bar. The people in the bar delivered her into the hands of this killer allegedly by saying get her out of here. She is too drunk or the bar is about to close. Deliver her into the hands of the alleged killer and don‘t take any precautions to ensure her safety as she‘s an inebriated patron of that bar. I think they‘ve got some serious, serious problems.
GOLDIN: It does seem clear, Dan, if you want to have a drink at The Falls you better go soon. Because the state liquor authority is already investigating this...
GOLDIN: ... and it seems clear that between hiring this convicted felon, possible other violations, I think there is going to be a lot of pressure to shut the place down.
CASIMIR: Yes, I just want to say one thing.
CASIMIR: A lot of establishments do hire convicted felons. One of the issues in...
ABRAMS: Because they are good for bouncing, right?
ABRAMS: Because they are tough guys?
CASIMIR: Well I‘m not just talking about the bouncer scenario...
ABRAMS: I wasn‘t being serious.
CASIMIR: It is not illegal to hire somebody who‘s a convicted felon. The question becomes whether or not in terms of the civil case the foresee ability with which this person might do the same acts again. Obviously...
CASIMIR: ... if this man has been convicted of violent crime...
ABRAMS: In particular, there are rules, David, with regard to being involved in security. If you are going to be doing more than 50 percent of your job in security, you have to get a special authorization in New York.
GOLDIN: I think it‘s fair to say we can do an informal poll, but most bouncers at bars in New York probably do not have that. They‘re generally not—even if their jobs are for security they are not armed in any way. Generally they are there to sort of make sure that the inflow and outflow from the bar is moving—and I suspect we‘re going to see here, Dan, what will probably be called Imette‘s Law the way things go in New York with laws named after tragic crime victims or where the law will probably wind up being strengthened.
ABRAMS: Clint Van Zandt, they are going to hold this. They‘re holding this guy on a parole violation, right?
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Yes.
ABRAMS: I mean they are going to keep holding him as long as they‘ve got questions that they need answered.
VAN ZANDT: Yes. Well, that‘s one of the good things. They don‘t have to charge the suspect right away, Littlejohn. They can take their time. I mean the crime has been committed. The horrific murder is done with. They can take their time, do the searches, do the interviews, gather the evidence, hold him on the parole violation and then if they have got enough to charge him that‘s when they are going to go forward.
So you know that‘s one of the good things law enforcement has got going for them. The bad thing is, Dan, that someone, as have you been saying, someone in that bar or multiple people sat on this information for five days. If this guy is the killer and had it within him to kill somebody else, he was out and about on the street for almost a week before somebody said, you know, I wonder if I ought to tell the truth for a change.
ABRAMS: Well and David is pointing out to us that his information is they didn‘t just come forward as a matter of conscience but actually that they came forward because the police gathered information and said hey, you guys, we don‘t think you are telling the truth.
All right, I want to go back to former Detective Sapraicone. This is what we know, 4:00 a.m. apparently spotted in a van sitting outside The Falls talking with Imette. Records track the cell phone to the area around his home after he leaves the bar. Later that morning, records track cell phone to an area where the body was found.
Records show the cell phone was used near his home at 5:00 p.m. Six p.m. cell phone records track his movement to an area near where the body was found. Eight-thirty p.m., an anonymous 911 tip from a diner close to where the body was found. At 9:30 p.m. he shows up for work at The Falls. In these kinds of cases cell phone records can be crucial.
MICHAEL SAPRAICONE, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE: They certainly can, Dan. And I‘m sure that the police are going to use this. This is going to become part of the circumstantial evidence that the police have. But I just want to go back a little bit to what you were talking about Littlejohn not giving up the DNA And things.
SAPRAICONE: OK. Well first of all, this becomes a cat and mouse game with witnesses as well as with suspects whenever you are doing interviews, OK. And I‘m sure the police, these are seasoned guys who are working on this case they didn‘t believe everything the first day they were there at The Falls, OK. And they take little bits and pieces and they go back and forth until they come up with what they need.
And at some point I‘m sure they had Littlejohn‘s record within a matter of an hour once they spoke to him in the first place and they already knew they had DNA on him, OK. So that‘s not a major concern because we had DNA on him from back from some 2000 arrest, OK. And the same with the bar owners, you know you‘re dealing with people who don‘t want to be involved and the police use these things against them and that‘s what they did here.
SAPRAICONE: They came out and said listen, this is what‘s going to happen. There is a lot of liabilities here. We are going to hold you guys accountable...
ABRAMS: Right. Right. Right. Right.
SAPRAICONE: ... and that‘s why people start to give up more information.
ABRAMS: All right. Fair point. All right, let me first just say Adam Lisberg and Davidson Goldin, thanks a lot. Adam Lisberg keep up the great work. You guys are really number one on this story.
LISBERG: (INAUDIBLE) thanks.
ABRAMS: Everyone else is going to stick around. Related topic here, some people are suggesting or saying that Imette is to blame here. Take some of our viewers who e-mail us. Remember Danielle Abramson said she was a volunteer not a victim. There are a lot of victims but she wasn‘t one of them because of her staying out late and drinking.
Keith M., everyone should be responsible for their actions. She‘s the victim of a crime. That does not absolve her of responsibility.
Most people begin it by saying I‘m not blaming the victim but, like Boston radio host John DePetro who has publicly questioned what Imette was doing drinking at 4:00 a.m. He said anyone who‘s out alone at 4:00 a.m. drinking with strangers is—quote—“asking for trouble.”
My viewers know I believe, you know I believe saying I‘m not blaming the victim but is to blame the victim. And he joins me now, Boston‘s WRKO radio host John DePetro. John, thanks a lot for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
JOHN DEPETRO, WRKO, BOSTON RADIO HOST: No problem, Dan.
ABRAMS: Would you be making the same comments if a young guy was killed after drinking late at night at a bar?
DEPETRO: Well that‘s not what happened here.
DEPETRO: I mean I‘m not...
ABRAMS: I‘m asking, would it be different?
DEPETRO: I don‘t think it‘s fair to say is anyone blaming her. I mean I think most people look at this and say she made a mistake and I think there is a difference between a young woman and a young man. There were a lot of people in that bar that night. Why did he target her?
Would he have targeted her if she was on a date? Would he have targeted her if she was with another girl? It‘s seemingly if everything fits together he targeted her because it was 4:00 a.m., she was alone and drunk and seemed vulnerable.
ABRAMS: So what is the curfew for women that they shouldn‘t go—what time should they not go out after?
DEPETRO: Well she was with her friends. I mean there is no curfew and, Dan, this is a matter of common sense. No one—anybody you know can answer that question on their own, but you tell me. Is it safe to go out and walk your dog at 8:00 as the same as it is at 3:00.
ABRAMS: But again...
DEPETRO: This isn‘t a matter of curfews.
ABRAMS: But see, asking those questions now and talking about Imette is not like saying to your kid in private, hey, be careful. It‘s basically saying Imette did something wrong. You are admitting that, right, that you are claiming Imette did something wrong?
DEPETRO: I think she made a mistake.
ABRAMS: Right and that‘s blaming the victim. How else you can characterize that?
DEPETRO: Well, how do you characterize Natalee Holloway who got drunk...
ABRAMS: It‘s her fault, too, right?
DEPETRO: ... and drove off with three guys. I think they heighten their risk for something bad to happen. That‘s what I think.
ABRAMS: And you think it‘s useful, it‘s useful to sit here and talk about what these young women did wrong because, why?
DEPETRO: You don‘t think we should draw attention to this? You don‘t think we should draw more awareness to this?
ABRAMS: Absolutely not. I will not. I will not...
DEPETRO: You think it‘s an act of God, could have happened to anybody any place, any time?
DEPETRO: I don‘t believe—no way.
DEPETRO: Nobody believes that.
ABRAMS: So let me ask you this. All right. So then when someone gets hurt in an accident driving cross-country, right, as opposed to flying, do you say to them why did you drive? Driving is so much more dangerous than flying?
DEPETRO: What about a drunk driver? Do they mean to kill anybody...
ABRAMS: No, but that‘s a different issue...
DEPETRO: ... or hurt themselves?
ABRAMS: I‘m asking...
DEPETRO: Why is it different...
ABRAMS: Because drunk driving is illegal. Imette didn‘t do anything wrong. She didn‘t do anything illegal.
DEPETRO: Drunk driving...
ABRAMS: Don‘t compare what Imette did to a drunk driver. It‘s not the same. It is the same to say someone who chooses to drive cross-country because they thought it would be nice to just take a drive, and then you say they got killed in an accident driving across the country. It‘s a lot more dangerous than flying, is that a fair question to ask then?
DEPETRO: No. Dan, you are wrong. Young women are under attack and young women are the target here.
ABRAMS: Drivers are dying...
DEPETRO: ... she was with her friends...
ABRAMS: ... every day on our highways. Why don‘t you ask the same questions of people who drive cross-country? I‘m making a point here.
DEPETRO: Not a fair...
DEPETRO: You are not.
ABRAMS: I mean, look, just in terms of our debate, I mean you understand the point I‘m making. The point I‘m making...
ABRAMS: ... is that you are unfairly isolating this because she is a woman. And you are basically saying young women shouldn‘t be out drinking, period.
DEPETRO: I‘m not saying young women should not be out drinking, period. I‘m saying they heighten their risk for something to happen when they are alone at 4:00 a.m. and they are drunk.
ABRAMS: Should young black men not go into primarily white bars if there is a concern they might get attacked racially?
DEPETRO: You know it‘s not a matter of what—you know should they, should they not...
ABRAMS: That‘s what you are doing. I‘m saying let‘s not ask should they or should they not. I‘m saying I don‘t care what happened. She is an innocent victim. You are saying we should ask why was she there? What should she have done differently? You‘re the one asking the should you.
DEPETRO: No, Dan, this is—most people‘s reaction is she was with her friends, she was safe then. Women are safe in a group. Women are a target. Young women are a target. You can‘t ignore that. Look at the date rape drugs. They are looking at whether or not she was drugged. It is not the same for a man or a woman. It‘s more dangerous for women and women have to be aware of that.
ABRAMS: And, again, it‘s more dangerous for women to go out to a bar at night?
DEPETRO: No. It‘s more dangerous for young women to be alone drunk in a bar at 4:00 a.m. at night.
ABRAMS: And they should expect that it is possible they will be raped, murdered, have a stock—a sock stuffed down their throat and have packing tape wrapped around their face.
DEPETRO: God forbid no they should not. But I‘m in Boston, which is a big college town and the colleges always warn the young girls about life is different in a big city. Life is different on a college campus. And you cannot just ignore this as an act, random act of God that could have happened to anybody anywhere, 10:00 in the morning, 6:00 at night. No one believes that.
ABRAMS: But when you start talking that way and, look, my problem is when you start using Imette as an example to start talking that way, whether you say I‘m not blaming the victim but or not at the beginning of the sentence, you are blaming the victim.
DEPETRO: But, Dan, look at—one of your guests said that maybe they should name a law after her. I mean why not create more awareness of this. The same way we have more awareness now for children or up here there was the...
ABRAMS: So you want to use Imette as a poster child for what women around America should not do? Fair?
DEPETRO: It‘s not—no. It‘s not use her. It‘s let‘s look at this as what can happen when you are alone and you are a target and it‘s 4:00 a.m. and you are intoxicated. It is different between men and women.
ABRAMS: All right. Let me do this. Let me take a break. John, if you could just stick with us for a minute.
ABRAMS: Coming up, we will continue this debate. We‘ll...
Prosecution star witness takes the stand in the trial of Enron‘s former CEO, Andy Fastow telling jurors how he helped the company hide hundreds of millions in losses with the approval of his boss.
Plus, South Dakota‘s governor does exactly what I asked him not to do, signs a ban on virtually all abortions even in the case of rape or incest. The Supreme Court has ruled it is not constitutional. They don‘t have anything better to do there in South Dakota. It‘s my “Closing Argument” coming up.
ABRAMS: Coming up, we continue our debate and discussion over whether rape and murder victim Imette St. Guillen should be a lesson to other women about what not to do. I say that‘s crazy. We will continue in a minute.
ABRAMS: The question: Should this woman serve as a lesson to other women on what not to do? Don‘t go out late drinking until 4:00 a.m. Don‘t go to a bar by yourself. I have been saying on this program now for days that I find that offensive because that effectively blames the victim. We have been talking with Boston‘s WRKO radio host John DePetro who says that he thinks it‘s an important lesson for people. Fair characterization, John, of your position?
DEPETRO: It is Dan. I mean it takes sometimes an event like this for people to really pay attention and the phrase asking for trouble. I will tell you what. In two months you come up to Boston, we‘ll go to Fenway, you wear a Yankee hat. That‘s asking for trouble. What—the real way to look at this is you heighten your risk for something to go wrong when you put yourself in that position. And when you were talking about driving cross-country, if a woman...
DEPETRO: ... I have four sisters (INAUDIBLE), if a woman asks me do you think it‘s safe for me to drive cross-country or should I fly? I would say I think you should fly...
ABRAMS: But the question is once they died driving cross-country, would you then be saying see, this is why people shouldn‘t be doing this. No, you would show respect to the people who died and you say you know what? This is not the time or the place to be talking about the fact that flying is safer than driving. And I don‘t think this is the time or the place to be saying, oh, well, should women—and in such a sexist and condescending way—should women be out there having drinks at a bar until 4:00 a.m. Let me let you get one more word in, then let me bring in the panel.
DEPETRO: Well the whole thing of heightening the awareness, I mean the family has thanked the media for paying attention to the story and talking about the story. I run a general talk show. Because she is from Boston that‘s why it was being discussed. It‘s not a legal aspect...
ABRAMS: No, this is not...
DEPETRO: ... whoever did this...
ABRAMS: This is not.
DEPETRO: Whoever did this, let‘s be clear, is 100 percent responsible for what happened. But I don‘t think it does, Dan, young women a service to look at this and just look at it as a random act of God.
ABRAMS: Susan, what do you make of this?
FILAN: I think it‘s disgusting. What am I supposed to tell my daughters, my sister, all women everywhere. Look, if you go out and exercise your right to associate freely you have the right to expect to be raped, strangled, murdered, killed, brutally sodomized.
DEPETRO: This isn‘t about rights.
DEPETRO: It‘s about personal safety...
DEPETRO: ... and common sense.
FILAN: Why aren‘t we telling the men don‘t you dare touch a woman, don‘t you dare murder. Why don‘t we put them in jail for the rest of their lives or execute them according to the death penalty. But to tell women that if you go out and do whatever...
DEPETRO: Because there are sickos and weirdoes...
DEPETRO: ... out there and predators.
FILAN: ... murdered, raped...
DEPETRO: Not expect.
FILAN: ... that‘s an absolutely morally reprehensible position.
DEPETRO: Do you go out alone at 4:00 a.m.?
FILAN: Don‘t make this personal about me. Let‘s talk about...
DEPETRO: All right.
FILAN: ... what you‘re saying. Let‘s talk about the message that you are sending to women. And let‘s talk about the message that you are sending to men. Men, you have the right. You are entitled...
DEPETRO: That is hardly the message.
FILAN: ... you see a sweet young lady in a vulnerable position...
DEPETRO: No one...
FILAN: ... late at night...
FILAN: ... have at it...
DEPETRO: No one is preaching that.
FILAN: ... it‘s fair game. She put herself there.
DEPETRO: That‘s offensive.
FILAN: It‘s her fault.
DEPETRO: That‘s offensive...
FILAN: You‘re absolutely...
DEPETRO: ... no one said...
FILAN: ... crossing the line in a way...
ABRAMS: All right...
FILAN: ... that I think calls your morality into question.
DEPETRO: You‘re offensive.
ABRAMS: Clint Van Zandt...
DEPETRO: There are criminals and sickos out there. If you want to ignore them and pretend they don‘t exist then that‘s your problem and your daughter‘s problem, but young women need to be warned it is very dangerous. She is 5‘2”, 115 pounds. That is different than a man.
FILAN: So it‘s her fault...
DEPETRO: A man would have a fighting chance.
FILAN: ... sweet little girl it‘s her fault.
ABRAMS: Michael Sapraicone...
DEPETRO: Doesn‘t matter whether it‘s her fault.
ABRAMS: Michael Sapraicone, you wanted to get in.
SAPRAICONE: I‘m not—we don‘t want to blame the victim. We certainly don‘t want to do that...
ABRAMS: It‘s the but—but we don‘t want to blame the victim, but...
SAPRAICONE: Don‘t want to blame the victim...
ABRAMS: But, but...
SAPRAICONE: But in my years...
SAPRAICONE: ... of experience...
SAPRAICONE: ... working as a detective and going back years ago as an old transit cop, we would have men and women who would go out drinking at night, get on any kind of train, subway system and by the time they fell asleep and got to the last stop had become victims because they weren‘t aware of what was going on around them and because they were intoxicated. So, no, we don‘t want to blame this victim but, again, with the but, we do want to use it as an example.
ABRAMS: But why? Why...
ABRAMS: Why don‘t we use this as an...
ABRAMS: I have no problem with someone in their home saying, look, honey, I don‘t want you going out late tonight. Remember what happened to that girl et cetera?
ABRAMS: I don‘t really have a problem with that. I do have a problem with people publicly right now with this family grieving, where we—no one has been arrested yet, that people are already saying what was she doing out so late?
SAPRAICONE: I‘m not saying we should be saying what she was doing out so late...
ABRAMS: Of course you are. You are saying why was she drinking...
SAPRAICONE: What I‘m saying—no I‘m not saying why was she drinking? What I‘m saying is though just like we all have professions and jobs, so do these people who prey on people who are vulnerable, people who are intoxicated, people who are alone...
SAPRAICONE: That‘s their profession. That‘s what they do.
SAPRAICONE: That‘s what they are looking for.
ABRAMS: I got to tell you, I haven‘t heard about that many cases like this about a woman alone who then gets raped and murdered because she went to a bar until late...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well...
ABRAMS: ... because—I mean, we hear about all sorts of different scenarios whereby people get brutalized in this country and it doesn‘t happen to be an epidemic about women going out alone to bars being a problem.
SAPRAICONE: It‘s not about women going out to bars alone. It‘s about people thinking about what‘s surrounding them and what‘s in their best interest. That‘s what it is about. Because there are predators out there...
SAPRAICONE: ... who are waiting for to us make mistakes and that‘s what they prey on.
ABRAMS: All right. I will leave that as a final word. John DePetro thanks a lot for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
DEPETRO: Thanks, Dan.
ABRAMS: Michael Sapraicone, Clint Van Zandt, Gary Casimir, and Susan Filan, appreciate it.
Coming up, the government‘s key witness takes the stand at the Enron trial, wastes no time testifying that Enron‘s former CEO approved his illegal activities that led to the collapse of one of the world‘s largest companies. Plus, what led him to cry on the witness stand? Coming up.
ABRAMS: Coming up, the government‘s key witness takes the stand at the Enron trial pointing fingers at the two big honchos, Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. Got a live report from the courthouse coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANICE FARMER, FORMER ENRON EMPLOYEE: I retired from Enron Corporation with nearly $700,000 in Enron stock. I won‘t mince words here. They betrayed that trust. My life savings is gone.
CHARLES PRESTWOOD, ENRON INVESTOR: (INAUDIBLE) somebody that didn‘t know anything about it. I said you will never convince me of that because the boss hog knows all of its piglets.
MARY BAIN PEARSON, ENRON INVESTOR: I put this stock aside so that I could call on it and use it in case I had a long-term disease. Well, I don‘t know what I‘m going to do now. I‘m going to have to go home and reevaluate my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Heartbreaking and angry words from few of the thousands of Enron employees and investors wiped out by the company‘s collapse. And tears today on the witness from the key prosecution witness in the trial of Enron‘s top executives Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. The man‘s name is Andrew Fastow.
He was once Enron‘s chief financial officer. He is now a felon facing a 10-year prison sentence for fraud. When Enron was riding high, Fastow helped it get there by hiding hundreds of millions in losses to—quote—
“juice Enron‘s earnings.” Fastow personally made millions off the deals as well. He broke down briefly on the stand when talking about charges against his wife, Lea, who spent a year in prison for filing a false tax return.
Joining me now business columnist for “The Houston Chronicle” Loren Steffy, securities attorney Gary Brown, who is special counsel to the Senate‘s Committee on Governmental Affairs investigating Enron‘s collapse, and white-collar criminal defense attorney Ron Fischetti. Thanks to all of you for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
All right. Loren Steffy look, you are there, you‘ve been in the courtroom. How is Fastow doing on the stand?
LOREN STEFFY, “THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE”: He has actually done a very good job as a witness. He has walked the jury through a number of these very complex partnership transactions and he has done it in a very clear and concise way. I have actually been surprised at how quickly the government has been able to move through the various points of this case.
ABRAMS: Are they making it understandable? I mean the concern is that a lot of these deals that he was engaging in are pretty tough to understand.
STEFFY: Well, they are tough to understand. And I think he has done a very good job of breaking that down for the jury and kind of walking them through step-by-step not only what they were designed to do, but why Enron wanted to do it, and that‘s really kind of the key point in this whole trial.
ABRAMS: The attorney for Ken Lay was on this program and said this about Andrew Fastow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was—what—by Enron‘s standards were minor thefts going on by Andrew Fastow over the years which finally were gradually coming to light I think which set off the panic that eventually sank Enron.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: So you have got the defense basically saying it‘s all Fastow‘s fault. You‘ve got the prosecution saying come on the big boys knew about this. Gary Brown, is Fastow the make or break issue in this case?
GARY BROWN, SECURITIES ATTORNEY: Well he‘s certainly important because the government has two things to do. One is I‘m glad to hear what Loren is saying that it‘s trying to simple because question number one is did Enron use these transactions to manipulate its books? Yes or no and if the answer is yes then you go on to the next question, who knew about it and that‘s the importance of Andy to—Andy Fastow to get them into the higher levels of the organization.
ABRAMS: Ron Fischetti, they are going to go after him, right, on cross-examine—I mean they are going to try and rip this guy.
RON FISCHETTI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Sure, I mean he is the one person that they can rip. One of the things that‘s kind of interesting to me in this case—I have tried a number of cases like this—is why they are putting him on now like almost last. I mean he‘s the one that can be cross-examined and most damaged by defense counsel.
Why not put him on first and get it over with and then put on the other prosecution witnesses who made deals and then the corroboration that they had. I just kind of wondered why they put him on almost last. But he certainly is going to be beaten up on the basis that he made a lot of money and they are going to say that he made it without Lay or Skilling knowing anything about it.
ABRAMS: But you know—but that seems to be a defense that hasn‘t been working as of late, which is we the people in charge didn‘t know what was going on at the company.
FISCHETTI: That‘s right. And more than that in this case they are basically taking a position in this case that they pleaded to crimes that never happened. A number of prosecution witnesses testified, lied before the SEC when they said Enron wasn‘t doing anything wrong. And now they are admitting to crimes and the defense is going to have to argue that these crimes never occurred and these witnesses pled to something they never did.
ABRAMS: And Gary Brown, the defense is saying that Enron was really a good company. They are saying the bottom line here is yes, Fastow was engaging in self-dealing but the government coming after Enron is really what sunk them.
BROWN: Well, and I‘m mystified by that because you look at the, for example, Merrill Lynch-Nigerian barge deal, that‘s where people didn‘t plead guilty. They were found guilty by a jury of criminal aiding and abetting securities fraud. I liken this very much to gun ownership.
It‘s legal to own a gun. It‘s legal to fire a gun. It‘s not illegal to kill someone with a gun. Structured finance and insider transactions are not illegal by nature, but they are illegal if they are used to manipulate the books of the company.
ABRAMS: Loren Steffy, he was crying on the witness stand. What was he crying about and how did it play with the jurors?
STEFFY: Well that happened right after lunch. We all came back from lunch. The jury came in and sat down and they immediately started asking Andy Fastow about the plea arrangement with his wife. As you may know, his wife pled guilty to filing a false tax return. She spent a year in prison or at least part of the year in prison, part of it on probation.
And it was a very dramatic moment because the prosecutors were asking him to explain that. This is obviously something the defense is going to try to pick apart even further. But what Andy Fastow said was that basically he had evidence that could have proved his wife was innocent, but he wasn‘t able to present it because if he had done that he would have incriminated himself in his own case.
ABRAMS: (INAUDIBLE) All right. Loren Steffy, Gary Brown, and Ron Fischetti, I‘m sorry, I wanted to spend more time on this, but we got caught up in that last debate. Thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Glad to be with you.
ABRAMS: Coming up...
ABRAMS: ... I asked him not to do it, but the governor of South Dakota ignored me, signed a law banning almost all abortions. I‘ve said it before. I‘ll say it again. This law spits in the face of the U.S. Supreme Court. It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
And later, your e-mails keep on coming about Imette St. Guillen and whether she was partially to blame for what happened to her.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—on this program I asked him not to do it and he did it anyway. Yesterday the South Dakota governor signed into law a clearly unconstitutional anti-abortion measure makes it a felony to perform any abortion, no exception for rape or incest or if the woman‘s health is at risk. The only time it would be legal if it would save the woman‘s life.
Supreme Court has made it crystal clear that a woman has a right to have an abortion, right or wrong, it is the unambiguous law of the land. This is just the state of South Dakota trying to act above the law, an effort to I think spit in the face of the nation‘s highest court.
President of the Family Research Council supports the bill, said—quote -
“Legislators feel that now is the time to wrestle back their authority from the courts.”
Wrestle back, as if legislation like this where the court has clearly declared unconstitutional is going to achieve that goal? Just a waste of everyone‘s time. I promise you, the U.S. Supreme Court won‘t take the case. It will be struck down by lower courts, but I guess South Dakota legislators have free time on their hands to pass meaningless legislation, but it may come back to hurt their cause. Many Americans are comfortable with certain abortion restrictions, but most are opposed to this sort of legislation that bands it all together.
So rather than focusing on restrictions that might actually become relevant, the South Dakota legislators and now the governor created a law that‘s first and foremost unconstitutional and also unpopular in the nationwide debate over abortion. When Governor Michael Rounds came on this program I said—quote—“you can‘t sign this, right?” Well apparently he could and did, but he shouldn‘t have.
Coming up, continue to get e-mails from angry viewers criticizing me for not asking questions about why Imette St. Guillen was out until 4:00 in the morning drinking the night she got abducted. I won‘t ask those questions. I‘ll respond to your e-mails though coming up.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. A lot of you still writing in about my comments that I will not sit on the sidelines as some blame Imette St. Guillen for staying out too late or drinking too much. I said no matter how much people say they‘re not blaming the victim, those people are suggesting the graduate student should have, could have prevented her own rape and murder.
I won‘t let it go unanswered. From Watertown, Wisconsin, Lawrence Grim, “Using common sense, is it wise to jump in shark-infested waters with a bucket of blood? There are just certain things in life that are obviously unwise.”
That my friend is called blaming the victim.
Seanne from Evanston, Wyoming asks, “I would like to know if you as a man would be out by yourself in that area walking or taking a cab at that same time in the morning totally by yourself?”
Yes, I would. Again, I am sure I have made bad decisions at times about where and when to walk. I got mugged as a kid in New York. But boy, I hope if I get killed for making a wrong turn that someone is going to be taking people like you to task for your judgmental comments.
Diane in Southwest Florida, “So she‘s not to blame, but common sense is needed in this world now. If you had a daughter, I bet you would not let her out that late even at that age.” Diane, she‘s 24, not let her out that late? What planet are you from?
From Danbury, Connecticut, Matt Osiecki, “Any third grader knows that a female walking New York City alone, barhopping at 4:00 a.m. is a prescription for trouble. America loves to give a free pass to the Imette‘s and Natalee Holloway‘s of the world while the true victims struggle to put their lives back together.”
Oh, I see, Matt. So it‘s not just Imette. Natalee Holloway is to blame for her disappearance as well. You know I would think that most women who get abducted or raped, I‘m sure are probably to blame? Right, Matt?
Good to know some of you have some sanity like Tracy Tredennick in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. “What if this victim were a young male? Would those who judge Imette be making these same victim blaming statements?”
Nineteen-year-old Whitney Beach in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, “I wonder if this were their daughter or sister or girlfriend would they be so quick to place blame on her?”
Joe, you agree.
Christy Jones, “It both saddens and angers me when I hear anyone blame the victim. I posted on a blog about my rape for two days at knifepoint and had a lot of men and women say things like weren‘t there things you could have done to prevent the rape?” Unbelievable.
Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com. We go through them at the end of the show. I feel really passionately about this one as I‘m sure you can all see, so we‘re going to stay on top of this.
Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews. Have a great night.
Tomorrow, should two-time sex offenders get executed?
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