Guests: Joe Episcopo, Joe Cosgrove, Jose Nieves, Andrew McBride, Thomas Connolly, Kevin O‘Donnell, Matt Evans, Mike Arias
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, the man who kidnapped, sexually abused and murdered little Carlie Brucia has just been sentenced in a Florida court.
The program about justice starts now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HON. ANDREW D. OWENS, FLORIDA CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE: This court agrees with the jury that in weighing the aggravating circumstances against the mitigating circumstances, the scales of life and death tilt unquestionably toward the side of death. Joseph Smith based upon your actions you have forfeited your right to live freely among us in society and pursuant to the laws of Florida have forfeited your right to live. Accordingly, it is hereby ordered and adjudged that for the murder of Carlie Jane Brucia, you are hereby sentenced to death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Hi everyone. First up on the docket, death for the man convicted of murdering 11-year-old Carlie Brucia, he abducted her, he sexually assaulted her, he killed her, and now a judge has just ruled he will die. At a hearing last month Smith tearfully apologized for his crime, saying he took large amounts of heroin and cocaine and tried to kill himself before he abducted Carlie. You see it right there, her final moments on that tape. He said he didn‘t remember much about that day and asked the judge to spare him for the sake of his family.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH SMITH, CONVICTED OF MURDERING CARLIE BRUCIA: Judge Owens, I never would have expected or believed that I could commit this horrible crime. I can only hope that I will—that I will be an example to others of what drugs, depression, and regards for—no regards for yourself can lead to because it is a very dangerous combination. I want to tell you and Carlie‘s family and my family and this community how very sorry I am for this terrible crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Not enough, said the judge. Joe Episcopo is a former prosecutor in Florida and he joins me now. All right, Joe, so the jury comes back and says we recommend death and yet the judge seemed to still have to explain his decision to both the defendant and the public.
JOE EPISCOPO, FORMER FLORIDA PROSECUTOR: Yes. Well, first of all, he has to discus the aggravating and mitigating factors and those are the reasons why the jury reached their decision and as a result, he‘s justified giving the death penalty. I would also point out that it was a 10-2 vote. Two of the jurors voted for life. Not because they believed—didn‘t believe in the death penalty, but they thought that living amongst prisoners for the rest of his life for what he did would be more miserable than the death penalty, and that‘s why there were two votes for mercy...
ABRAMS: But there‘s no way a judge is going to rule for life based on that reason.
ABRAMS: I mean, no judge is going to sit up there and say you know what, I think he‘ll be more miserable in prison for life than getting the death penalty.
EPISCOPO: No, not in a case like this. This is case that we have the death penalty for. It has so many aggravating factors that it‘s really easy if you want to say...
EPISCOPO: ... it‘s easy for this to come to the death penalty on this case.
EPISCOPO: It‘s not agonizing at all.
ABRAMS: ... Carlie‘s mom in December talking about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN SCHORPEN, CARLIE BRUCIA‘S MOTHER: He couldn‘t be dead fast enough for me. I want him dead. I want him dead now. My daughter is not breathing, she‘ll never breathe again. I can never hold her again. And I‘ve got to wait for appeals before you know he dies?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Did the 10-2 matter though to the judge, Joe? Does it matter? Do you think it changes a judge‘s ability or tendency to impose the death penalty if it‘s 10-2 versus unanimous?
EPISCOPO: No, seven votes is sufficient in Florida. That‘s been upheld. And that‘s why he really didn‘t—this is easy. This is not a difficult case.
ABRAMS: Here‘s what Joseph Smith—this is Joseph Smith at the hearing, all right, in February, and this is him basically pleading for his life.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: Every day I think about what I did and I beg God for forgiveness. I will continue to think about the pain I caused for the rest of my life. Judge Owens, I do not ask for mercy for myself. As you have heard, there have been many times that I did not care whether I lived or died. The only reason that I concede to ask you to give me a life sentence is for the sake of my family.
I do not want to see my children hurt any further. I‘m hopeful that I can still be positive influence to them. If I‘m sent to death row, I won‘t be able to talk to them. There are no phones on death row or visit with them and I also know how bad my mother has suffered through this case. First she had to deal with the fact that her son was charged with these crimes. Then she had to watch her other son suffer and deteriorate due to his involvement in this case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: It‘s going to hurt my children, Joe, not enough for a judge.
EPISCOPO: No. And you know he claimed he was in this drug-crazed stupor, but if you look at that film, he was in control of himself, he wasn‘t impaired, he took command, command of her as he abducted her. He‘s not under the influence at all. You can see that. So that‘s just a lot of baloney.
ABRAMS: And I think very important to the judge in this case was the fact that he didn‘t help anyone find the body either, that he was questioned and that he knew exactly where she was, and it wasn‘t until his brother came forward that they were able to actually provide some closure for the family.
EPISCOPO: Well, even if he had helped find the body, I don‘t think it would have made any difference in the final outcome.
ABRAMS: Yes. All right. Joe Episcopo thanks a lot for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
Another story, a few hours ago in Pennsylvania, an accused serial killer found not guilty. Thirty-two-year-old Hugo Selenski‘s good looks, charm and daring escape made him sort of a local celebrity in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. There were teenagers literally running after the car that he was being transported in at times, some saying that that may have helped him.
He was facing a possible death sentence for the alleged murders of two suspected drug dealers, the remains of as many as 10 other bodies found in his backyard, but today a local jury acquitted him of one murder, deadlocked on the second charge. The judge is now considering a defense request to throw that other charge out altogether. He‘s only found guilty of two counts of abusing a corpse.
Joining us now on the phone Luzerne County defense attorney Joe Cosgrove. Joe, thanks for coming on the program. Appreciate it. Are you surprised with the verdict?
JOE COSGROVE, PA DEFENSE ATTORNEY (via phone): No, Dan, I am not surprised, but I also would not have been surprised if the jury had come back with a conviction on the homicide as well. This came down to with all the celebrity and everything else surrounding it, it still came down to whether the jury would believe particularly one witness, a cooperating co-defendant who got a very good deal and when that‘s all the jury really had before it, the case can go either way.
ABRAMS: Yes. Well they also had the fact of course that the bodies were in his backyard.
COSGROVE: The bodies were in his backyard but as the defense counsel, Tim Fannick (ph), who is as excellent lawyer, as he told the jury the other day, and he went through some dramatics, he took three shotgun shells, emptied the buckshot into a can and threw it—literally threw it across the courtroom floor and said there are 900 pieces of buckshot and there was only one that was found at the scene. So if Russin, this co-defendant had said the murder was committed at Hugo‘s home, if that were the case, then how does the Commonwealth...
COSGROVE: ... how did the state police not found two, three, four pellets? And all they found was one.
ABRAMS: Yes, I know, but that‘s the argument they made in all these cases. The defense is always they should have found more evidence, they might have found more evidence, they could have found more evidence. I mean look the bottom line is that these—the people who were killed at least the ones—at least two of the people whose bodies were found at his home were people that he knew well, right?
COSGROVE: I‘m not sure I would say well. I think the evidence was that he was acquainted with them and you know, this was a drug—the allegations were that this was a drug-related murder.
COSGROVE: This was a drug crime...
COSGROVE: ... so I don‘t know if that influenced the jury or not as well, but the fact is, again, I would not have been surprised if the jury came back and convicted.
ABRAMS: What about all the other bodies that were found at his home?
ABRAMS: Somebody was using his home as a dumping ground?
COSGROVE: Well it‘s interesting you bring that up, because Mr. Selenski was not released today. In fact, as he was leaving the courtroom with sheriff‘s deputies, he was being charged by the state police with two more murders.
ABRAMS: Because the bottom—let‘s be clear. I mean this didn‘t get in—the jury didn‘t hear this, but he told the police apparently that they would find five bodies at his house. That was not admitted into evidence because the police didn‘t follow the proper procedure, but you know, as a matter of reality, there‘s nothing to suggest that that confession wasn‘t true.
COSGROVE: Yes. I agree with you, but again, juries must determine the case based on the evidence presented, so you and I can talk about what does Hugo Selenski know, what is he responsible for, what‘s our speculation...
COSGROVE: ... but when it comes to the criminal charges, the jury based it on the evidence they had...
ABRAMS: So let‘s be clear, he‘s not getting out though right now, right? Because look, based on the...
COSGROVE: He‘s on his way to an arraignment.
ABRAMS: Right. So he‘s going to be arraigned again. He‘ll be tried again in connection with different murders, correct?
COSGROVE: Correct. Yes.
ABRAMS: All right...
COSGROVE: Now with regard to the hung jury, the hung question, that was with regard to first-degree murder...
COSGROVE: ... but the jury acquitted him of second and third and the judge as he was releasing the jury advised the jury that as a matter of Pennsylvania law, Hugo cannot be retried on that first degree.
ABRAMS: Right. Let me...
COSGROVE: So it‘s he essentially a clean win for him on both murders.
ABRAMS: Do you think that his sort of level of celebrity and I use that word with some level of reluctance, but the fact that he made this daring escape, the fact that a lot in the community are frustrated with the prosecutors and the police, the police for not following the proper procedures, the prosecutors for filing papers too late so they couldn‘t charge him for the escape. We have that video, let‘s put it up with all the sheets hanging down from the prison. Do you think that all of that had an impact on the jurors?
COSGROVE: Well, no I don‘t think so.
COSGROVE: I don‘t know that the prosecution‘s failure to get that confession into evidence, I don‘t know that that impacted the jury negatively toward the prosecution because they didn‘t hear that. As far as the escape, the judge advised that under Pennsylvania law, that it can be inferred as a consciousness of guilt.
COSGROVE: They received that instruction. But I don‘t know that there was a frustration in the jury‘s minds with the prosecution. Again, I think the prosecution ultimately, the lawyers who were in that courtroom trying the case, the actual—not the investigators...
ABRAMS: Yes, yes...
COSGROVE: ... but the lawyers, I think they did a good job with what they had.
ABRAMS: All right. Look, I didn‘t watch the case so I‘m not going to make any judgments as to how they did or didn‘t do, but I will say that based on the fact that he said they would find five bodies at his house, I‘m relieved that he‘s not being released despite this verdict. Joe Cosgrove, thanks a lot for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
COSGROVE: Dan, any time.
ABRAMS: Coming up, the attorney for the prime suspect and grad student Imette St. Guillen‘s murder says the police have the wrong guy. He joins us next to explain.
And federal agents crack a major child porn ring. Dozens of alleged pervs busted in the U.S. and around the world. It included, get this, on-demand live sexual assaults of kids. We talk to one of the agents involved.
Plus, Saddam Hussein takes the stand for the first time. Shocker, he ignores the judge and rants against American troops in Iraq, got the tape.
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Over the past few months undercover investigators infiltrated an international Internet chat room that was being used to facilitate the trading of graphic images of child pornography, including live streaming video of adults sexually molesting children and infants.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Thirteen people in nine states busted today, 14 others in Australia, Canada and Britain; all charged for their involvement in “Kiddypics and Kiddyvids” chat rooms they‘re called. The charges range from possession, receipt, distribution and the manufacture of child pornography, the youngest of the victims an infant. The chat rooms enabled users to trade child porn and view real-time, real-time molestation.
Joining me now is Jose Nevis with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He was one of the agents who helped bust the ring. Agent Nevis, thanks for coming on the program. This is an important bust that you guys have made. What led you to these guys?
JOSE NIEVES, IMMIGRATION & CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: Originally we received investigative lead from the trial police service of an individual in the Chicagoland area that was involved in the ring.
ABRAMS: So it started with one person and what, they get a tip that this one person is involved in real-time. I mean explain to us in as least graphic terms as you can what it is they were doing?
NIEVES: Basically they had set up the Web—a Web cam and proceeded to molest children live over the Internet.
ABRAMS: So someone would call in and they‘d say I‘d like to see a 6-year-old boy molested live and then they would find someone who would do it?
NIEVES: Not exactly. They had developed relationships within the chat room. At that time they made contact with each other to set up impromptu, unfortunately, Web cam sessions.
ABRAMS: Where did they find the children?
NIEVES: Some them had access to children.
ABRAMS: Were they parents?
NIEVES: I really can‘t discuss the details of the investigation.
ABRAMS: Can you tell us anything more about the people who were arrested?
NIEVES: Some of them were in the military...
NIEVES: ... counselors, things of that nature.
ABRAMS: And when you say impromptu, so all these people had contact with one another and they would announce that somehow they had a child who was ready to be molested and the rest would then log into this site?
NIEVES: No. Usually they were one-on-one Web cam sessions; they would meet within the chat room, and then go off, either through Yahoo! or MSN instant messaging and set up the Web cam.
ABRAMS: And how were you able to take it from one person to expose the broader actions that were occurring here?
NIEVES: Once we were able to arrest the individual here in the Chicagoland area, we were able to develop enough information to allow us to enter into the chat room using undercover agents.
ABRAMS: All right, Agent Nieves, this is an important bust. It sounds like you guys did a lot of good work out there. Thank you very much for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
NIEVES: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Now to Iraq. Saddam Hussein took the stand today for the first time. Not that he seemed to feel much need to defend himself for the deaths of 148 Shiites after an assassination attempt in 1982. Instead, Saddam spent his time calling the court a comedy, called on Iraqis to fight the invaders, warned against civil war and reminded everyone that so far as he‘s concerned, he‘s still the president of Iraq. Once again the judge tried to calm the chaos, even the prosecutor got into it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SADDAM HUSSEIN (through translator): I am Saddam Hussein al-Majid, president of the Republic of Iraq. And commander-in-chief of the armed forces, the militant armed forces, the aggressors and their (UNINTELLIGIBLE) committed a crime inside Iraq and outside. They are on the path to be eliminated.
RAOUF ANDEL RAHMAN, SADDAM TRIAL CHIEF JUDGE (through translator):
You are a defendant in a criminal case. Defend yourself. This war is over. Your role is over. Now you are a defendant in a criminal case, reply to the charges who puts you here.
It‘s politics, that‘s it. It‘s a dangerous and very important case in Dujail, what you are saying is not our subject.
Hold on. If you don‘t go by—no, I will dismiss him. I will apply the law. I will apply the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Oh, boy. Not long after that, the judge turned off the cameras in the courts, Saddam reportedly kept making a political speech. He‘s already admitted ordering the execution of a man in Dujail. He even asked the court, where is the crime? The trial is scheduled to resume on April the 5th.
It doesn‘t sound like the trial might resume for Zacarias Moussaoui. Federal prosecutors sound like they could throw in the towel and end the case against the only man linked to 9-11 and tried in this country. And that would mean Moussaoui‘s life would be spared.
This after District Judge Leonie Brinkema punished prosecutors for misconduct, preventing them from calling witnesses who were apparently coached and sent trial transcripts by a government attorney, a major no-no. In a conference call, prosecutor Rob Spencer told Judge Brinkema and Moussaoui‘s attorney—quote—“We don‘t know whether it‘s worth us proceeding at all, candidly, under the ruling you made today because without some relief, frankly, I think there‘s no point for us to go forward.”
Andrew McBride is a former federal prosecutor, as is Thomas Connolly. Thanks to both of you for coming on the program. All right, Mr. McBride, do you think they should throw in the towel?
ANDREW MCBRIDE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, Dan, I think first off I want to say that the three Department of Justice prosecutors before Judge Brinkema did nothing wrong.
ABRAMS: Well, you know what? That‘s not necessarily true. I mean they are ultimately responsible for overseeing the prosecution of this case and you‘re right, they‘re not accused of actual misconduct in this case, as is the transportation attorney, but to suggest they bear no responsibility for this, I think is just sort of shirking responsibility. Do you disagree?
MCBRIDE: I do disagree in the sense that in a prosecution this big, and I think Eric Holder said this in “The Washington Post” today, who‘s the former deputy attorney general under President Clinton, and I think he‘s right. Where you‘re relying on lawyers from across the government, and it turns out this Carla Martin is a bad apple, who did very stupid things and maybe intentionally violated the court‘s order, do you really think that these three men trying the case before Judge Brinkema could have predicted that.
ABRAMS: Could have predicted it though is a separate question from whether they ultimately bear responsibility for it.
MCBRIDE: Well I don‘t think you can say that they‘re like the captain of a ship and that they have to bear responsibility for the conduct of every lawyer and every government department who‘s been involved in this huge prosecution.
ABRAMS: Well my understanding though is that they never specifically said to the witnesses, gave them the warning we see in so many cases where they say hey, I want to make sure you know you‘re not allowed to talk to anyone about the testimony, you‘re not allowed to read anything about the case, et cetera.
MCBRIDE: But I don‘t think that the fact—that fact would have resulted in the exclusion of these witnesses. What we‘re talking about here is this Ms. Martin, this TSA lawyer, incredible conduct, mailing the transcripts to the witnesses...
MCBRIDE: ... commenting on the opening statements and coaching witnesses in a way that this woman, I think, will eventually be charged with a crime.
ABRAMS: Oh, she‘s in big trouble...
MCBRIDE: She‘s in big trouble.
ABRAMS: Mr. Connolly, let me come back to the question from the beginning, which is do you think that the government should throw in the towel at this point?
THOMAS CONNOLLY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, I think they should. And look, I agree with Mr. McBride in terms of whether the prosecutors bear the ultimate burden of this horrible mistake on Ms. Martin‘s part. They certainly can‘t be held responsible for that. But let me just make another point, another perspective, a longer view, and that is ultimately this is going to be seen as a victory for the criminal justice system. We have taken the most abhorrent human being alive, a committed al Qaeda terrorist who has sworn to kill Americans and despite the fact that he is so abhorrent, we have scrupulously honored his due process rights and his rights to a fair trial.
ABRAMS: Why do we get credit for that? I mean when people say that, as if we should be patted on the back for the fact that we have a great system and the bottom line is we have a great system, we know that. We have the confidence to say we have the best system in the world. Why do we need to sit here and say after we blew it in this case, that somehow this is an example of how great the system is?
CONNOLLY: Because we have people from other countries looking at us after—in the—after the Abu Ghraib and other situations where—that reflected very poorly on us...
ABRAMS: Well I don‘t...
CONNOLLY: This is our...
ABRAMS: ... I don‘t give much credence to them anyway. The people who are going to say oh this somehow—that Abu Ghraib somehow reflects on the way all American justice is handled, et cetera, is just nonsense. I mean the bottom line is that this case, this Moussaoui case has turned out to be a failure. The guy pled guilty.
Now look it may not be the government‘s fault. It may have been that systemically we don‘t know how to deal with a guy who is a terrorist, who is mocking the system, who is trying to create chaos, maybe we do have to figure out better ways how to deal with it, but to say that this case, which now, you know, may be in shambles, even though he‘s pled guilty, he‘s going to serve life, is somehow representative of how great our system is, come on.
MCBRIDE: Two points, Dan. And one, I‘ll let you scoop everybody else. I believe the government is going to file a motion with Judge Brinkema this afternoon to reconsider, asking her to lighten up a little bit to say that the sanction belongs on Ms. Martin, let our witnesses testify, let the defense cross-examine them about Martin‘s taint to the witnesses, but let the case go forward. Secondly, you‘re absolutely right.
The government cannot meet its burden without those transportation witnesses to testify that they would have taken steps that might have stopped one of those planes if the FBI had blown the whistle based on the Moussaoui interview in August of 2001, so then the case is over, I think. The larger point here, and the people who are really getting the shaft are the survivors of the victims who just wanted the jury to make a decision, wanted the case to go to the jury. So I hope Judge Brinkema will take the government‘s motion for reconsideration seriously, let the case go forward and decide maybe that it‘s Ms. Martin who should be punished and not the United States and not the survivors of the victims of 9-11 who just want the jury to make a decision.
ABRAMS: And real quick, Mr. Connolly, even if the judge says no, they can also appeal this, right?
CONNOLLY: Well they can mandamus, but the fact of the matter is, is she‘s on very solid legal ground and there‘s very little likelihood of this being overturned. But one final point...
ABRAMS: Yes, quickly. Yes.
CONNOLLY: ... this man—at the worst-case scenario for the United States, this man is going to die in obscurity in a super max prison. He will not be a martyr having been put to death.
ABRAMS: Yes. Yes and look and I agree with you in the sense that I just—you know I don‘t want to hear from this guy again and I hope that you know as this ends, it‘s the last we hear from him.
CONNOLLY: Thanks, Dan.
ABRAMS: Andrew McBride and Thomas Connolly, thank you both very much for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
MCBRIDE: Amen to that.
ABRAMS: Coming up, the attorney for the prime suspect in grad student Imette St. Guillen‘s murder says the police have the wrong guy. He joins us next.
And when someone signs on to Internet dating sites, they hope to find a date. One man says, Match.com fooled him and sent one of its employees on a date just so they wouldn‘t lose him as a customer. Now he‘s suing and he joins us.
Our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike. Our search today is in New Jersey.
Police are looking for William Riker. He‘s 30, six-feet, 200 pounds. Riker was accused of aggravated sexual assault of a female under 13, hasn‘t registered his address with the state. If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the New Jersey State Police, 609-882-2000. Be right back.
ABRAMS: Coming up, a New York grand jury now hearing evidence in connection with grad student Imette St. Guillen‘s murder. The attorney for the prime suspect joins us, first the headlines.
ABRAMS: We know the police think they‘ve got their man in the murder of 24-year-old graduate student Imette St. Guillen. Her bound and battered body found less than 24 hours after she was last seen at a downtown Manhattan bar. Authorities say they have eyewitnesses, who saw Darryl Littlejohn put Imette in a van about 17 hours before she was found dead. Carpet fibers from Littlejohn‘s home on the blanket wrapped around Imette‘s body and his blood they say on plastic ties used to bind Imette‘s hands behind her back.
Cell phone records also that place him in the area where her body was found just hours before it was discovered. Darryl Littlejohn is the prime suspect. His attorney is Kevin O‘Donnell and he joins us now. Mr. O‘Donnell, thanks for coming on the program. We appreciate it.
KEVIN O‘DONNELL, DARRYL LITTLEJOHN‘S ATTORNEY: My pleasure, Dan.
ABRAMS: Let me get first a few things out of the way here, things that you say have been either inaccurately reported or misstated. The scratch on Littlejohn‘s neck, there was a report that he came back to work with a scratch on his neck. You say it wasn‘t there.
O‘DONNELL: I didn‘t see any scratch, Dan. My client offered to strip for me, but I believed him. And he also stripped for the police once he was arrested, and I haven‘t heard any information from the police. We‘ve heard plenty of other leaks from the police, but I haven‘t heard anything about the police seeing any scratches anywhere on his body.
ABRAMS: When did you first meet with him?
O‘DONNELL: I met with him last Thursday when I was assigned to represent him for the alleged rape that he committed in October.
ABRAMS: OK. The 911 call, made anonymously, your client didn‘t make the call?
O‘DONNELL: No, he didn‘t make that call. I‘m sure that they compared his voice with that which was on the 911 tape, and I don‘t anticipate the police claiming that his voice is the match for the 911 call.
ABRAMS: And just to be clear, your position is that he had nothing to do with this?
O‘DONNELL: That‘s what my client maintains, Dan, and that‘s how I‘m going to approach this case.
ABRAMS: All right. So now let me take this chronologically for a moment. What happened at The Falls? Did he talk to Imette?
O‘DONNELL: Dan, I‘m not going to get into anything that I discuss with my client at this point.
ABRAMS: Well you just did though. I mean you just told us that he didn‘t make the phone call, that he didn‘t have the scratch on his neck and these other things. What about you know the...
O‘DONNELL: Concerning anything that happened at the bar, Dan, I am not going to get into that.
ABRAMS: Is that because it‘s incriminating?
O‘DONNELL: No, not at all, but we‘re investigating that.
ABRAMS: What about the eyewitnesses who saw him getting into a blue van?
O‘DONNELL: Well, that‘s one thing that I can speak about, Dan, because we‘ve corroborated the fact that that van hasn‘t moved from his driveway since January. You know, the witnesses from what I hear, it‘s this Juan Perez (ph) I believe, the homeless man from across the street who says that he saw Mr. Littlejohn pushing Imette into the van. That‘s impossible because the van has been in his driveway since January.
ABRAMS: The blood on the ties, does he have any explanation about how that might have gotten there?
O‘DONNELL: I haven‘t really got into that with him. I told him that it was there. It‘s still premature for me to discuss that with him because I want to get my hands on those reports and conduct my own analysis.
ABRAMS: How about the carpet fibers from his apartment, same thing?
O‘DONNELL: Same thing, Dan. I have no access to those reports. I know nothing more than what you know.
ABRAMS: Anything about the cell phone records that you can share? I mean, the cell phone records I think are really what led the police to have strong suspicions based on where he was vis-a-vis where he lived and where the body was found.
O‘DONNELL: Dan, once again, I‘m in the dark as far as that goes. I‘ve heard the same reports, but those reports are not evidence. And I do want to get my hands on them because we do have other leads that we‘re following, we just commenced our investigation several days ago, and Mr. Littlejohn has limited resources, whereas the government has unlimited resources, so we‘re up against a lot.
ABRAMS: You say you‘re in the dark, is it because your client is not talking about to you about where he made phone calls from, et cetera?
O‘DONNELL: No, not at all. It‘s because I don‘t have access to any of the reports.
O‘DONNELL: And the district attorney office—I have spoken with him about that and until I can get those records to corroborate what we‘ve discussed, Dan, I‘m not going to discuss it.
ABRAMS: How long did he work at The Falls? You—that‘s not getting too specific about what happened that night. Give us—if you can give us a little background as to how long he worked there?
O‘DONNELL: From what I understand it was approximately five months and he never had a problem with anybody. He had worked somewhere up in the Inwood area of Manhattan prior to that and he never had any problems up there with anybody, any women. There were never any physical altercations in his capacity as a bouncer...
ABRAMS: But he does have a lengthy criminal record, though, right?
O‘DONNELL: Absolutely. And I‘m not hiding from that, Dan. His past speaks for itself and that‘s one of the problems that he‘s up against. The entire public knows about his past record, but it‘s important to note, Dan, that once again, there are no allegations involving any type of violence towards women.
ABRAMS: There was a report that he had said to someone that he is bipolar and that he doesn‘t remember certain things that he has done in his past. Do you know anything about that?
O‘DONNELL: Dan, he—there are no indications of any type of psychological disorders as far as I‘m concerned.
ABRAMS: So, that wouldn‘t be part of a defense at trial, it wouldn‘t be a psychological defense?
O‘DONNELL: That‘s not something that I‘m looking at, at this point.
ABRAMS: Has he told you anything about whether he‘d ever seen Imette before that night?
O‘DONNELL: Not that I‘m aware of, Dan. Again, my conversations concerning this particular allegation, and again, he hasn‘t been charged, OK, and that‘s an important thing to note. He hasn‘t been charged with this crime. He‘s going to be, so that being said, we really haven‘t gotten into the specifics. We‘ve gotten some general information from him, which you know within 24 hours, we‘ve already gotten some results that completely contradict these police reports about—especially about the van.
ABRAMS: Would you consider having him testify at the grand jury?
O‘DONNELL: No, he‘s not going to testify at the grand jury.
ABRAMS: No chance?
O‘DONNELL: No chance.
ABRAMS: Because I mean, look, the reasons why he wouldn‘t testify are somewhat self-evident and the authorities suddenly have statements on the record that they can use against him at trial, but in some cases, as you know better than I do, criminal defense lawyers will say you know what, I‘m going to take a chance, I‘m going to put my client in front of the grand jury, let them hear his story and hopefully they won‘t indict.
O‘DONNELL: Well that‘s true, Dan. However in this case, he‘s already been convicted in the court of public opinion. That compared with his record, I‘m not going to give the prosecution a chance to corner him into anything. It‘s his constitutional right not to testify. Whether it be at the grand jury or at trial and we haven‘t even discussed whether he‘s going to testify at trial, but he‘s certainly not going to testify at the grand jury.
ABRAMS: Kevin O‘Donnell, thank you very much for taking the time to come on the program. We appreciate it.
O‘DONNELL: My pleasure, Dan.
ABRAMS: Coming up, looking for love online. Look who it is. Dr. Phil. Some—one dater says beware. He claims he was duped by a popular dating site, who he says sent an employee to go on a date with him. Now he‘s suing. He joins us next.
And Robert Kennedy‘s killer Sirhan Sirhan up for parole again. Some worrying about Governor Schwarzenegger‘s role because he‘s married to Kennedy Maria Shriver. I say don‘t worry.
ABRAMS: Coming up, one man looking for love online says he was duped by the dating site instead. Now he‘s suing and he joins us, coming up.
ABRAMS: Online love can be hard to find, but for about $20 a month in most cases, one can create a profile, upload a picture and the dates start coming. At least that‘s how it‘s supposed to work, but few people who had signed up on the dating site Match.com say they were duped. They‘re suing Match.com for allegedly sending them fake—quote—“winks” and e-mail messages designed to keep them as customers on the site. The lawsuit even alleges that Match.com hired people to go on fake dates with customers just to keep their business.
The suit claims—quote—“Hiding beneath Match.com‘s portrait of online success is a very dirty, very big secret. Not everyone that—quote—“winks” at you on Match.com is just another Match.com member. Not everyone that you encounter through Match.com is just another Match.com member. In many cases, they are Match.com employees with a secret fraudulent mission.”
Matt Evans is suing Match.com. Mike Arias is his attorney. Both join me now. Thanks a lot for coming on the program. We appreciate it. Mr. Evans, let me start with you. How are you so sure that the person you went on a date with wasn‘t just an ordinary person who was a member?
MATT EVANS, SUING MATCH.COM: Well, I guess there‘s no way of knowing for sure. However, she told me that that‘s what she did for her job.
ABRAMS: Is it possible that she was using it as sort of an excuse to say oh you know what, I‘m not interested?
EVANS: Sure. Absolutely.
ABRAMS: But if that‘s the case, then there‘s not a whole lot to the lawsuit, right?
EVANS: Well, I guess if I weren‘t given as much information as I was, as far as the way it works, the information that she is able to compile on different people, then yes, I think that that would be an accurate assessment. However, she kind of just spilled the beans.
ABRAMS: Mr. Arias, what is the evidence that you have? I mean, if that‘s—if that‘s all you have, that would seem like a pretty thin case.
MIKE ARIAS, ATTORNEY SUING MATCH.COM: Well, I think, Dan, you‘re going to find out through litigation that the—and the evidence that we hope that we‘re going to be able to extract and develop. The ability for Autumn Marzec to show Matt portals into Match.com‘s Web site that no one else has access to, the fact that Matt when he heard about this information from her, sent e-mails to other members on Match.com that he had been—had contact with, advising them and telling them of his surprise and then all of a sudden he gets a call from Ms. Marzec that asking him why is he doing this.
You got to question how she had access to those things. This lawsuit is not just about Autumn Marzec and Matt Evans. It‘s about the process of which Match.com seems to enlist its ability to retain customers to get people to stay on. We all know it‘s driven by membership fees.
ABRAMS: People are paying $20 a month, it seems like they would have to go spending a lot of money to get these people to go on fake dates. I mean it can‘t be cheap to get someone to say oh, go spend an evening with someone who you don‘t want to spend an evening with.
ARIAS: Well, I think, Dan, you‘re going to find that the process itself isn‘t just about the dating issue. These employees or these—we‘re not positive right now. As you know, we received a declaration from Autumn Marzec saying she was never employed by Match.com. We don‘t necessarily believe the relationship has to be that of an employee-employer.
We believe that there are situations in here where there are other entities that somehow have relationships with Match.com for other purposes. Marketing purposes, client retention purposes, things like that. We‘re not sure exactly how—and what the relationship is. I‘m just telling you that when you look at all the evidence and we‘ve received so much information from people all over the country that is so consistent with the allegations of our complaint, you have to wonder what type of membership retention program is in place.
ABRAMS: Mr. Evans, is it true that you are a model, an actor?
EVANS: No, that‘s not true.
ABRAMS: OK. That‘s what—I was under the impression that that‘s what you did for a living. Is that not—no aspirations? The reason I ask you that is only because some have said this is a publicity stunt and I wanted to just get that part out of the way.
EVANS: Well no. I actually just passed my real estate broker exam about a week ago, I‘ve been in real estate for about 12 years.
ABRAMS: OK. Match.com says there‘s not a single thread of truth to the allegations in this lawsuit, which is proving to be nothing more than a publicity stunt on the part of the plaintiff‘s attorneys. Match.com has provided the attorneys with sworn evidence to prove the allegation is absolutely false. The suit was filed without evidence and without any investigation of the facts. This lawsuit is beyond frivolous and has risen to some level of malice. Match.com will seek all available sanctions and damages in order to stop this baseless assault on our reputation.
I can tell you one thing, Mr. Evans, looking at you and talking to you I‘m getting the feeling that a lot of my viewers are going to write in saying they‘d be happy to go on a date with you...
EVANS: Well thank you...
EVANS: ... I guess. Thank you.
ABRAMS: I‘m just guessing.
EVANS: Well, you know, keep me posted.
ABRAMS: I will. All right. Well you know what, if you want us to forward them, I guarantee you based on what you just said, there will be hundreds, you give me an e-mail address, we will send them to you. Ladies, you‘ve heard it. Look at that guy. Come on, that‘s a good-looking dude. Matt Evans and Mike Arias, thanks a lot for coming on the program.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Dan.
ABRAMS: Coming up, some worry Arnold Schwarzenegger could soon have to decide if the man who killed his wife‘s uncle, Robert Kennedy, gets parole. I say don‘t worry. No parole board is going to recommend that Sirhan Sirhan go free. It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
And a lot writing in saying reports of people eating in their sleep after taking the sleeping pill Ambien are true. We talked about this last night. Your e-mails on that are coming up.
Our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing offenders before they strike. We‘re in New Jersey.
Authorities need your help finding Mitch Wetteland. He‘s 43, five-eleven, 200, was convicted of aggravated sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Hasn‘t registered with the state. If you‘ve got any information, New Jersey wants to hear from you, 609-882-2000. Be right back.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—just a little bit of overreacting going on in California where Sirhan Sirhan was convicted of murdering presidential candidate Robert Kennedy back in 1968 is up for parole. Two parole board members are hearing Sirhan‘s case for release today at Corcoran State Prison in California. It is the 13th time he‘s applied for parole. This time the situation is a little different because the man who oversees the decisions of the parole board is Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is also a member of the Kennedy family, married to Maria Shriver, Robert Kennedy‘s niece, so what? Sure, in theory, there could be a potential conflict of interest.
That‘s what everyone is talking about, but the chance that the board recommends parole is teeny-weeny. Sirhan originally received the death penalty and has been rejected for parole 12 consecutive times. The last time around the board said he could pose a danger to society if released and that he was mentally unstable. Sirhan reportedly has threatened prison guards and written threatening letters to his former defense lawyers and in recent years he‘s also helped his case by stopping to express remorse for the killing and has claimed he was framed, going so far as to make a formal request for a new trial. This time he doesn‘t even have a lawyer.
Sirhan‘s longtime attorney Lawrence Teeter died last year and he hasn‘t chosen a new one and even if the parole board somehow recommended Sirhan‘s release, Schwarzenegger could be expected to reverse it. When it comes to granting parole to first-degree murderers, Schwarzenegger has been extremely reluctant to do so, reversing the parole board recommendations in 75 percent of the cases he‘s reviewed since being governor. Bottom line, this decision is never going to make it to Schwarzenegger‘s desk, so maybe a dose of reality, a smidgen of restraint is in order. Until we hear from the parole board, its conclusion is all but assured, making all this speculation about what Schwarzenegger would do or wouldn‘t do an interesting media exercise but ultimately a waste of time.
Coming up, you heard the reports of people eating in their sleep after taking the sleeping pill Ambien. Some people using it as a defense in trial. Some of our viewers saying it‘s happening to them. Your e-mails are next.
ABRAMS: I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. Last night in my “Closing Argument” recent studies indicate the popular prescription sleeping pill Ambien is leading some people to—quote—
“sleep eat or sleep drive” or in some cases even without Ambien, using sleep as a defense in sexual assault cases. I said I‘m dubious of the “I was sleeping when I did it” defense.
Many of you writing in with your own stories about Ambien, including Shane Hauschild in Hidden Valley Lake, California, “As a former Ambien user who has had my door broken down by the fire department after I tried to hard boil an egg in my sleep, the studies on Ambien are real.”
Mary in Illinois, “I‘ve sent e-mails that I don‘t remember sending. Hearing about this study makes me think I should hide my keys from myself before I take Ambien.”
Donna Santa Maria in Mercerville, New Jersey, “I probably wouldn‘t believe it either, but I actually experienced it. I took Ambien, went to bed, and I thought would finally sleep. Only in the morning I found evidence that at some point during the night, I‘d gotten up and done things like cooked and ate, sometimes a full meal, or had prolonged long-distance phone conversations. But the worst was that I shopped from TV and online for things I didn‘t really need or want.” Sorry.
That‘s it for us tonight. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews up next.
See you tomorrow.
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