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Coed's murder causes bar to face much scrutiny

The Falls, the bar where Imette St. Guillen was last seen alive, is under fire. MSNBC-TV's Rita Cosby talks about the legal ramifications, if any, for the owner of The Falls.
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The Falls bar is creating much outrage, from faulty witness accounts by the owners and bar employees to the owners hiring an ex-convict and a parole-violating probation.  The parolee, of course, is Darryl Littlejohn.  While many are ballistic, what the bar did and did not do is a big problem in this case. 

Former sex crimes prosecutor Wendy Murphy and criminal defense attorney Jayne Weintraub joined Rita Cosby on ‘Live and Direct’ to talk about possible legal ramifications the bar might face in the future.

To read an excerpt from their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

RITA COSBY, HOST, ‘LIVE AND DIRECT’:  You know, Wendy, I think it is so sad.  This poor family has to go through this horrific, you know, crime hearing about this.  And now they have to defend their daughter from people who are saying she shouldn't be out late by herself or drinking.  I think it's outrageous.

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  Oh, and that's, you know, the understatement of the night, Rita.  I was so proud to hear Imette's mom say that's their problem.  She's clearly not even taking it in, and good for her, although it must be very difficult to hear people saying such ugly things. 

Psychologically, I think it makes people feel better to just be harsh and judgmental of women because they say to themselves, “Well, that could have been me.  Oh, well, maybe if I think that I wouldn't have done it like that, I wouldn't have been there,” then they feel safer being harsh, and mean, and so cruel. 

But, you know, it's no excuse for the kinds of blaming language we're hearing, Rita.  Frankly, it's not only her constitutional right to do what she was doing—it was all lawful behavior—she absolutely didn't deserve to be hurt. 

And whenever you talk about a woman's behavior as having been wrong or she shouldn't have been there, there's 100 percent of blame to go around.  The criminal deserves all of it. 

And when you start talking about the victim, you naturally dent into that 100 percent blame, cutting the guy a little bit of slack.  There is no excuse for giving an animal like this any slack whatsoever, especially if he's the predator that you're suggesting, with the evidence of the other rapes, that he may well be. 

If that's true, he raped a woman at 5:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m.  He wasn't taking advantage of a woman who was out too late. 

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Wendy, why don't you just put him in jail already?

MURPHY:  No, that's not the point, Jayne.  This guy was hunting women down. 

COSBY:  Jayne, you know, and, again, this is still just—they're investigating this.  But I want to switch gears, because I want to make sure we get to this, the bar owners, because so many people are furious tonight. 

Let me sort of show their different accounts.  And, again, it took them three times to finally tell authorities the truth.  First, they said that she had drinks and then that she left by herself.  Then they said that Littlejohn actually escorted her out of the bar because she was too drunk.  Other bar workers said they heard her and Littlejohn arguing outside, and also the word of a muffled scream. 

But, Jayne, the fact that it took three times and authorities had to went to them and basically squeezed it out of them, they finally fessed up.  I mean, that's despicable, Jayne. 

WEINTRAUB:  Well, first of all, they're not under any legal obligation to talk to the police, just like anyone else.  They don't have to cooperate and speak to the police. 

COSBY:  But, Jayne, come on.  But, Jayne, do the right thing!

WEINTRAUB:  Rita, they did do the right thing.  And two and three are not inconsistent. 

The first time when they said that she only had two drinks, I'm sure they didn't know what to say or what to do.  And I don't think it was the bar owner that actually gave the comment; it was somebody who worked there. 

And the second thing is, when they did speak to the police, remember they had no obligation to and they did anyway.  And we don't know if there was a scuffle with this bouncer.  And we don't know why she was being thrown out.  And we don't know what was being said at that time, because she's not here and the bouncer's not talking.  So you're speculating, and we don't know the evidence yet. 

COSBY:  I want to tell you one thing, Jayne.  First of all, we're not speculating on one thing. 

And, Wendy, let me make this clear.  What I understand is that this guy basically said he didn't even remember Imette.  Turns out the owner was the bartender that night and then didn't tell authorities some key information. 

I mean, that is outrageous.  That's not speculation; that's fact. 

MURPHY:  You know, look, Jayne is a good criminal defense attorney, but she should not be in the business of defending a bar owner who had information about a murder and a serious—one of the most serious crimes this state has ever seen, and they're allowed to stay silent? 

This is not about the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.  This is about the bar being more worried about its own civil liability exposure—God forbid they should tell the truth—that they hired a jerk and a dangerous menace to society who never should have been allowed to work there.

They knew they had liability exposure.  They're going to pay big in this case.  I wish I could represent the family, because they will recover a ton of money when they file a suit.  That is no excuse for the bar owner to go silent when the police are looking for a serial rapist, potentially, and clearly a killer. 

WEINTRAUB:  Wendy, you have no evidence yet.  Relax. 

MURPHY:  I said “potentially.”

COSBY:  Jayne, I'll give you the last word.  Jayne, let me—I'll give you 10 seconds.  But one thing is they should have come forward.  You want to encourage people to say whatever you know. 

WEINTRAUB:  You want to encourage people to tell the truth.  You want to encourage people to always cooperate with the police.  That doesn't confuse the fact that they have no obligation to and they may not have been the right person to talk to, and maybe that person hadn't had all the facts yet.  We don't know what the circumstances were surrounding that initial discussion. 

We know that, as soon as everybody told them what was going on, we know that they came forward and they told them that there was a scuffle, there was a discussion, and he did throw her out.  And that was his job, Rita, to throw her out. 

COSBY:  Well, let me be clear, also.  It's not his job to lie to police three times.  And if it turns out, shame on that bar. 

MURPHY:  Exactly.

Watch 'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' each night at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC.