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'The Abrams Report' for March 21

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Brian Anderson, William Fallon, Jonna Spilbor, Owen LaFave, Desi Griffin, Steve Cohen, Vinda De Sousa, Susan Filan, Duane Chapman

DAN ABRAMS, HOST, "ABRAMS REPORT":  Coming up, a judge throws out the plea deal for a Florida teacher who had sex with her student, a deal that would have kept her out of prison.  In response, prosecutors drop charges against her.  Now, she’s speaking out, blaming the media and her mental illness.  We’ve got the tape.

The program about justice starts now. 

But, first, we’ve got breaking news to report out of Oregon.  An entire family missing for over two weeks found alive.  Marlo Hill-Stivers and her husband Peter, along with their children Sabastyan and Gabrayell, and the couple’s in-laws were last heard from on March the 4th when they left for an overnight trip to the Oregon Coast.  Now they have been located. 

Joining me now Brian Anderson with Oregon’s Josephine County Sheriff’s Office.  Mr. Anderson, thank you very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.  Tell us what happened.  


Apparently a little bit after 11:00 our time, we were notified that Pete and Marlo had walked out of the location where their vehicle had gotten stuck.  We are currently still working our way up to their location where the rest of the family is at with two snowcats, one from our agency, one from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.   

ABRAMS:  But the whole family is OK.

ANDERSON:  The whole family is fine.  Pretty amazed after spending 18 days in the snow, but they were in their motor home.  Apparently they’ve been eating some freeze-dried food during that time and the parents decided it was time to walk out and get some help. 

ABRAMS:  And how did the parents come in contact with any officials?

ANDERSON:  Well they ended up, they were walking out towards the town of Glendale, Oregon, when one of the—an employee from the Bureau of Land Management came across them.  He got the information and then radioed into his headquarters.  Their headquarters notified local law enforcement.  And we are coordinating our efforts with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and hopefully within the next hour we should be in contact with the rest of the family. 

ABRAMS:  I mean this has to be such an enormous relief. 

ANDERSON:  Well it is.  I mean you’ve got a case where a family basically drops off the face of the earth, and no one knows where they’re at or what happened to them, then all of a sudden they appear.  We’re all ecstatic down here in southern Oregon. 

ABRAMS:  Is this a pretty remote area? 

ANDERSON:  This is a very remote area, a very heavily forested.  It’s near the—a wilderness area.  It’s a narrow, windy forest service road that they were on. 

ABRAMS:  And so you believe that their vehicle simply slid off the road? 

ANDERSON:  Well, the information we’re getting now is that they were taking one of the routes over to the coast.  They did get lost and were—the motor home got stuck in the snow. 

ABRAMS:  How—what was the condition of the parents?  I mean were they going out because things were dire in the motor home or because it was just time to get out?

ANDERSON:  Well after—I’m guessing after about 17 days, they decided maybe no one was going to find them and it was time to take matters into their own hand and try to you know alert authorities.  This is a case where no one knew where the family had gone, so it’s kind of hard to find a location to look for them.

ABRAMS:  Do you know how far they had walked from their vehicle before they were found?

ANDERSON:  At this point I do not know.  We’re still working our way up there.  They did say they were walking through at least chest deep snow to get out. 

ABRAMS:  But bottom line, most important question, the information you have right now is that the entire family is safe and sound? 

ANDERSON:  The entire family is safe and sound, no injuries. 

ABRAMS:  Wow, what a story. 

ANDERSON:  Yes, we’re—like I said, we’re ecstatic and I’m just amazed. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Brian Anderson, thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it. 

ANDERSON:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Now to Florida, where 25-year-old former teacher Debra LaFave is speaking out for the first time.  She admits molesting one of her 14-year-old students, but today she avoids any jail time.  Now what happened is a judge rejected the plea deal, which would have meant no jail time, but then prosecutors dropped the charges. 

The prosecutors had promised the mother of LaFave’s alleged victim that the boy, now 16, would not have to testify against his former teacher.  Now the judge had said that’s not a good enough reason to accept the deal. 

He rejected it.

He said, “Accepting the proposed plea deal would undermine the credibility of this court and the criminal justice system as a whole and would erode public confidence in our schools.  It would send the message that if enough publicity is generated and because of that interest, the victim does not wish to testify, a defendant can avoid an appropriate sentence.  Quite frankly, the judge said if the allegations are true, the agreed upon sentence shocks the conscience of this court.”

But now that charges are gone, she’s free, three years house arrest, and for the first time LaFave is speaking out. 


DEBRA LAFAVE, TEACHER WHO HAD SEX WITH STUDENT:  I would first like to thank my lawyer, John Fitzgibbons, for believing in me and my illness.  I appreciate how he fought to show mental illnesses are real and how they could cause good people to do bad things.  I also would like to thank my parents, my friends, and my fiancé for their unconditional love and endless prayer. 

The past two years have been hard on all parties involved.  I pray with all my heart that the young man and his family will be able to move on with their lives.  Again, I offer my deepest apology.  I have been undergoing extensive therapy and believe it has helped me tremendously.  I would hope that all media outlets will let us all peacefully move on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What was going through your mind?  What would you say to the victim’s family...

D. LAFAVE:  Well I think I just covered that in my letter.  I am very remorseful and I believe that I’m going through therapy and doing everything that I can possible to better myself for the community and society. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you going to get married...

D. LAFAVE:  I think that right now we’re taking it a day at a time.  And his support is unconditional and I’ve known him for 20 years now, and he has proved that he loves me unconditionally and we’re just going to take it day by day. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... violating your probation...

D. LAFAVE:  I think—you know. 


D. LAFAVE:  I pray for her.  That’s all.  I pray for her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Debra, were you nervous about going through a trial and the things that you would have to talk about that would be revealed (INAUDIBLE)?

D. LAFAVE:  Yes, I was very nervous.  I have a lot of things in my past that have unfortunately become public and it’s very hard to talk about sensitive issues that have happened as a child and so on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I understand (INAUDIBLE) has children.  What is your relationship? 

D. LAFAVE:  We’re not going to comment.  I don’t see children, period.  That’s in my plea agreement.  I believe that my family—they know who I am, and right now my family and friends are all that matter.  And as you can see, the room is full of media outlets.  I’m sorry, but it doesn’t matter to me.  The people behind me are what matters to me. 


ABRAMS:  No jail time.  Joining me former sex crimes prosecutor Bill Fallon and criminal defense attorney Jonna Spilbor.  You know, Bill, she should be pretty grateful.  I mean she almost seems to have this sort of attitude of you know I was wronged.  I was the victim because of my mental illness, et cetera, instead of sitting there and saying wow, what a break I just got. 

WILLIAM FALLON, FORMER SEX CRIMES PROSECUTOR:  Yes, Dan, there is a woe is me pretty cover girl—oh yes, am I here because I’m a convicted child molester?  We kind of left that out of this.  You know, Dan, this was a very hard decision.  I think when the judge used such strong wording that this sentence, this plea deal that he rejected shocked the conscience, this was a judge I think who isn’t known for using that type of rhetoric, if you will, and it did shock my conscience.

Now I know everybody’s going to say well she’s at least been convicted and she’s got three years, but I will tell you, when you look at that person you don’t really see a person who is expressing the remorse and as you say, kind of the good fortune that she has.  Rather she’s talking—I would not know that she is a convicted child molester from what she said.

She’s almost like a falsely accused victim.  And I will say and I know you’ll probably yell at me for this, but in balancing that we always do as prosecutors, this balance seems to be wrong.  I think the prosecution should have said where there is a witness to this case, and other witness, and where she was going forward on mental illness grounds that therefore we should have gone forward.  It wouldn’t have been her being pitted against the victim...


FALLON:  ... now 16, to say did these facts happen.  It’s was she a nut, was she insane...

ABRAMS:  All right...

FALLON:  ... at the time...


FALLON:  ... and I think the jury would have come back no.

ABRAMS:  I’m going to play more of the tape of her in a minute.  But first here is the assistant state attorney, Ric Ridgeway, who was responsible for making the decision in this case. 


RICHARD RIDGWAY, FLORIDA ASST. STATE ATTORNEY:  In my estimation, the harm to the victims and forcing them to testify and go through what they were going to be put through primarily by the media was simply unconscionable and I’m not willing to do that to them.


ABRAMS:  Well Jonna, it seems at least both sides agree that this entire incident is all the media’s fault. 

JONNA SPILBOR, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well and it’s not the media’s fault.  And you know—and to Bill Fallon I want to say look, you know what, she’s avoiding prison, but she’s not avoiding punishment.  And I will bet 10 bucks right now, Bill, that you’ve never had a plea deal undermined by a judge, ever.  Because nobody knows better than us, better than you and better than me, what’s best for all the parties concerned, victim, defendant, and the court.  And so...

FALLON:  Hey, I’ve never had them because I’ve never given away a case like this.  Judges knew that I was tough on them.  I’d be tough on teachers.  I’d be tough on priests and be tough on doctors that do this. 

SPILBOR:  She’s getting punished.


FALLON:  I gave this kind of deal a judge would have undermined. 

ABRAMS:  What about this, Bill?  You and I have talked about this before.  You know you are someone who’s always said let’s talk about the victims first.  They’re the most important...


ABRAMS:  ... people in these cases.  Here is the victim’s mother talking about what she wanted.


“SALLY”, VICTIM’S MOTHER:  Debra LaFave needed to be punished.  What she did was wrong.  And I believe that she is being punished, and there’s no guarantee that if we had gone to trial that she would go to prison.


ABRAMS:  How about that, Bill? 

FALLON:  Dan, you know I had this concern.  I told you it is a balancing test.  What I looked at is this was just now the 16-year-old, the 14-year-old boy at the time.  I probably would have balanced out very similar to this.  But once you have another witness in this case who saw it and again, I think it’s important for the public to know, she was going on insanity, one of the most difficult things...

ABRAMS:  Yes...

FALLON:  ... and I disagree with the prosecutor.  I think he’s being disingenuous...


FALLON:  Those facts (INAUDIBLE) agreed to by this woman and that’s what’s so difficult...

ABRAMS:  So you...


ABRAMS:  Wait.  Bill, let’s be clear...


ABRAMS:  Bill, let’s be clear.  You would have forced the victim to testify.

FALLON:  I certainly --  yes, I would have.

ABRAMS:  All right. 

FALLON:  I mean again I’m not in the case.  I would have to talk to the victim, but...

ABRAMS:  All right.

FALLON:  ... I would tell you this.  I would have never made a promise to a victim’s parents this early on.  And I’m not sure that we couldn’t...

ABRAMS:  This has been going on for a while now...

FALLON:  This was a sweetheart deal.  I know and I’ve said to you on this show, Dan, before that this sounded like too much of a sweetheart deal and that the judge used the word shocks the conscience.  I think we have been too easy on teachers, too particularly easy on female teachers on male victimization.

ABRAMS:  All right.  We’ll talk about that.  This is a little bit more of Debra LaFave speaking out for the first time.



D. LAFAVE:  Well I believe that my mental illness had a lot to do with my actions and for someone I’ve gotten --  my passion was teaching.  That’s taken away from me.  I’ve lost family and I’ve lost friends and as you can see, my face has been plastered on every Internet address, every news outlet and that’s not easy.  It’s not easy feeling the guilt and the remorse and having my own family suffer for my actions. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What is your greatest regret (INAUDIBLE)?

D. LAFAVE:  My greatest regret would probably be the fact that I put this young man through this.  I mean the media has totally taken it out of proportion and he’s suffering even more so by the media’s actions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  When you say out of proportion (INAUDIBLE)...



D. LAFAVE:  No, absolutely not.  I’m talking about he is a young man and his privacy has been violated.  He has walked outside the door and been approached by media.  His picture was published on the Internet.  That’s what I’m talking about.


ABRAMS:  Oh, well that’s nice to see Debra defending this young man’s honor from the media because the media is the real threat to this young man, not the teacher who was having sex with him.

All right, look, let me do this.  Bill and Jonna stick around.  Another question I want to find out.  We’ve got a doctor coming up in the back.  She says it was bipolar.  Can bipolar make you do this?  We’ll ask him.  And we’ll get reaction from the man married to LaFave when she had sex with her student.  Owen LaFave joins us.

Also ahead, the attorney for two of the suspects in Natalee Holloway’s disappearance says he expects his clients will be tried for her murder. 





ABRAMS:  He’s captured almost 6,000 fugitives.  Bounty hunter Duane “The Dog” is with us. 

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



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Deb, do you think because you are so attractive that (INAUDIBLE) -- everybody’s been talking about it.  Do you think your looks...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think we’re going to leave that to all of you to decide that, while you’re here. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  (INAUDIBLE) doing any interviews with national magazines like “Vanity Fair” magazines like that? 

D. LAFAVE:  That’s not where...


D. LAFAVE:  That’s not my—that’s not where I want to go.  I want the world to see that bipolar is real.  If anything, I am tired of the media—I don’t think not one time has the media brought up the subject of my bipolar and I challenge you to read a book or an article on bipolar illness.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What are your plans for the future?  If teaching was your passion and you can’t do that, what will you do with your life?

D. LAFAVE:  Right now I’m going through a class that’s online for journalism.  I think that I have—God has given me a great outlet to write and I would hope that I could reach people through writing. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So after all this, you’re going to become one of us? 

D. LAFAVE:  Yes.  Because you know what, and Shannon being one of them, some of you have a great heart and I am able to see that through your writings and through your expressions on TV.  So, yes.


D. LAFAVE:  I think that’s every woman’s dream.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Including yours?

D. LAFAVE:  Including mine. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Debra, what do you think about the double standard...

D. LAFAVE:  I don’t think there is one.  I think we all should check the statistics, and I don’t think there is a double standard. 


ABRAMS:  I don’t know about that.  Well I guess we can—get to welcome Debra LaFave into our journalistic community soon enough after she finishes her online course. 

Joining me now by phone is Owen LaFave, who was married to Debra when she committed the crimes.  Owen, thanks for coming back on the program.  All right, so “A”, first let me ask you about the decision on the part of the prosecutors to drop these additional charges, and it means she’s not getting any jail time.

OWEN LAFAVE, DEBRA LAFAVE’S EX-HUSBAND (via phone):  You know, Dan, I think it’s irresponsible, and you know there is a double standard, and I challenge her to find the data that proves otherwise.  I mean what’s wrong with letting the people decide?  I mean they went to great lengths to circumvent a trial and you know the judge said hey, you know, let’s put it in front of the people and see what they think, to see if she you know deserves some amount of jail time, and you know they circumvented that by avoiding this trial.

ABRAMS:  She says she’s bipolar and criticizing the media for not focusing on her bipolar enough.  You were married to her at the time.  Did you know anything about her bipolar condition?

O. LAFAVE:  You know I didn’t at the time and there is no doubt she has some emotional issues, whether it’s bipolar or not, I mean I don’t know.  I haven’t seen any psychological reports.  I’m not a psychologist myself, but what I will say that I noticed from that, is she doesn’t appear to be remorseful at all.  She didn’t take responsibility for anything.  She blamed the bipolar disease, she blamed the media, and never once did she say you know it was my fault and I acted inappropriately. 

ABRAMS:  Do you wish she’d apologize to you more?

O. LAFAVE:  You know she hasn’t apologized.  I mean you heard it right there.  She had the opportunity to do so and thanked her new fiancé by standing by her side, and rightfully you know she should have, but you know at the bare minimum, it would have been nice to have gotten an apology at least for tainting my name because now whenever I go into any business meeting and sit down and introduce myself as Owen LaFave, it’s you know, oh, are you any relation to you know that teacher that had sex with that kid.

ABRAMS:  So she owes you more than what you’ve heard? 

O. LAFAVE:  I believe.  I mean as for as my understanding is I mean she’s never publicly apologized to me, and when we were still together before, you know, our divorce, I mean she never really truly apologized and gave you know a bunch of half-hearted and concocted reasons for why she did what she did.

ABRAMS:  What do you make of the fact that she’s engaged again? 

O. LAFAVE:  You know, I think it doesn’t really surprise me.  I mean she seems to be the type of person that needs someone there to lean on, to, you know, make decisions for her.  And I think she probably found someone that, you know, that she did grow up with that was there, that was there previously.  You know, something that’s familiar to her before all of this happened. 

You know, what I will say is a little unusual is the fact that, you know, she did you know leave this guy you know for me when we started dating in college, and this guy is aware of the fact that you know she had sex with a 14-year-old, and I just question his involvement.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  And you’d question why he would marry her, knowing that you mean?

O. LAFAVE:  Well exactly.  I think any average you know rational person would. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.  Owen, thanks a lot for taking the time to come on the program.  We appreciate it. 

O. LAFAVE:  Sure thing, Dan.  Good talking... 

ABRAMS:  Owen is not a psychologist he said, but Desi Griffin is a clinical psychologist at the Washington Hospital Center and joins us now by phone.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

All right.  Bottom line question, she’s say we all need to read books on bipolar, et cetera.  I’m getting a lot of e-mails from a lot of people saying I’m bipolar.  It’s never led me to do anything like this.  Is that an explanation for why she would have sex with a 14-year-old student?


Well bipolar disorder is manifested in a lot of different ways.  And there are a lot of times when individuals are either at—in the manic stage or in a severely depressed stage, where they may do things that are out of character. 

They may engage in behaviors that are out of character.  It is not an excuse for someone’s behavior, though.  It is an illness that needs to be treated.  For instance, a lot of times individuals who are manic will go on spending sprees.  They will buy way over the amount of money that they can afford.  They will buy businesses if they’re able to and often times get into financial ruin.  There is also linked by irritability and aggressiveness.  They may act out in an aggressive impulsive way.

ABRAMS:  But when you say that, I mean including committing crimes? 

GRIFFIN:  Well, what I’m saying is that sometimes when someone is not in their right mind, they may do things that may not be legal.  It’s not an excuse.  For instance, also there is a hyper sexuality that goes along with bipolar disorder, where many times people in very good relationships most of their life may experience during these episodes of mania, inappropriate behaviors, where they’ll have affairs and they’ll do things that are out of character for them.  It is not an excuse. 


GRIFFIN:  There is an illness...

ABRAMS:  Just so I understand...

GRIFFIN:  It is not an excuse...

ABRAMS:  Just so I understand...

GRIFFIN:  ... for any behavior. 

ABRAMS:  When you say it’s not an excuse...

GRIFFIN:  Right.

ABRAMS:  ... what does that mean? 

GRIFFIN:  Well I think that you can begin to identify symptoms.  And you don’t oftentimes engage in something illegal or inappropriate the first time, there are other symptoms that are manifested first.  That if you’re able to catch them you can control the bipolar disorder.  And if you do have it, it is a lifelong condition and it’s very hard to treat, but there are medications that will help stabilize these patients, so that they’re able to live very functional lives. 


GRIFFIN:  A bipolar disorder patient is—appears very normal when they’re within the realm of normal mood swings, when they’re either on their medications or following their therapeutic guidelines.  They behave just...

ABRAMS:  All right.

GRIFFIN:  ... like you and me.

ABRAMS:  Jonna Spilbor, but let’s bring this back to the legal issue.  That would never be enough as a legal matter, and I’m not suggesting that the doctor is saying that, but just so we’re clear on what the law is, as a legal matter, that would not have gotten her an acquittal. 

SPILBOR:  No, it would not have gotten her acquittal.  What it got her and what it would have gotten her is a mitigating factor.  Her mental state whether it’s bipolar...

ABRAMS:  For the sentence. 

SPILBOR:  For the sentence, right.  And you know frankly, just from what we know, I don’t think she’s bipolar to tell you the truth.  I think her attorneys told her she’s bipolar.  She’s got issues, you know daddy didn’t love her or whatever.  She’s got serious issues, because you don’t have sex with a 14-year-old if you don’t have issues.  But is she clinically...


SPILBOR:  ... bipolar?  No.

ABRAMS:  Bill, what did you want to say?

FALLON:  Well she repeatedly had it.  And that’s what I think is really why I’m upset at the prosecution here, Dan.  I do weigh what the victim wants here, but I’m going to tell you I think you’re going to find out this woman told her husband, told other people about the sex she had, which would therefore take the burden off this victim for having to testify to everything.

I think this prosecutor should have called the bluff, pushed for at least a little time.  I think this judge would not have been shocked, his conscience would not have been shocked, if say they asked for a year or two in, and maybe the balance suspended.  And I’m sorry, Jonna.  I do think that’s fair.  And I think it’s an outrage that attorneys kind of, if you think (INAUDIBLE) planted this idea...


FALLON:  ... that in fact she’s mentally ill because she’s bipolar.  She might be bipolar, but she’s not insane and she’s responsible and should...

ABRAMS:  Here’s a little bit more of Debra LaFave from today.


D. LAFAVE:  I’ve learned a lot from counseling.  Why it happened, I don’t know.  I mean, that’s a lifelong—I mean I’m going to be in therapy for a long time—hopefully for the rest of my life, because it has helped me tremendously.  I think therapy is one of the great—greatest things that have—that I have learned from.  Day-by-day process, that’s all I can tell you. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think one of the things people always wonder is when this happened, were you looking at this young man as a man or a boy?  (INAUDIBLE)

D. LAFAVE:  We’re not going to talk about issues like that. 


ABRAMS:  Yes.  Why would we talk about issues like that?  I mean that’s only the issue that’s really involved in the case, is what was going on in her head when she was having sex with a 14-year-old boy.  I mean she’s blaming the media.  She’s blaming her disease, et cetera, and you know making an apology, but it seems so pro forma.  I don’t know.

I was not impressed with this press conference at all.  I must say.  I don’t think Bill Fallon was either.  Bill Fallon, thank you for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.  Jonna Spilbor, good to see you.  And Desi Griffin, thank you for taking the time.  Appreciate it.

Coming up, the attorneys for two of the suspects in Natalee Holloway’s disappearance says he expects his clients will be tried for her murder? 

And he calls himself the world’s greatest bounty hunter, after tracking down 6,000 people over two decades.  Duane “The Dog” Chapman joins us live.

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing offenders before they strike.  We’re in New Mexico.

Authorities are looking for David Meador.  Meador is 50, five-eleven, 150, was convicted of second-degree rape and first-degree sexual abuse, other sexual crimes too.  Hasn’t registered his address with the state.  If you’ve got any information on his whereabouts, New Mexico would like to hear from you, 505-827-9297.  Be right back. 



ABRAMS:  We’re back.  The attorney for two of the three suspects in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway now says he believes his two clients, brothers Deepak and Satish Kalpoe and the third suspect Joran van der Sloot will be tried for the murder of Natalee Holloway. 


KOCK:  We don’t think there’s much reason for them to wait that much longer.  Of course, it’s a call of the D.A., but from the information that we are getting it seems like you know they know too.  They have to round this up.  I wouldn’t be surprised if, you know, somewhere June, July, the case will be presented. 

PRODUCER:  And will it be presented, do you feel, against all three boys?

KOCK:  I think the D.A. will do—will present the case against all three boys, yes.

PRODUCER:  And will that be with charges of—how does it work here? 

First-degree murder, second?  How does...

KOCK:  You have a spectrum of accusations that a D.A. can present, from first degree to you know manslaughter to accomplice. 


ABRAMS:  Joining me now on the phone is Aruban government spokesman Steve Cohen and Aruban attorney Vinda De Sousa, MSNBC legal analyst and former prosecutor Susan Filan joins us.  And back with us is defense attorney Jonna Spilbor.  Steve, is this true?  Is there going to be a trial? 

STEVE COHEN, ARUBAN GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN (via phone):  Well I think it’s premature.  You know I am actually somewhat surprised by the attorney giving what is clearly just his opinion.  I mean we would propose a much calmer stance, one, because the investigation like Chief Dompig has not been concluded.  The investigation has to conclude first. 

Then that’s brought to Careen Janssen, the prosecutor.  And then once she compiles the case, decides what charges are to be brought, then there has to be a re-arrest, and then and only then does it go to a judge.  And then the judge has to decide whether there’s enough evidence there to bring charges.  And then a trial would commence.  So there are three or four steps here before we can even think about the beginning of a trial.  We want there to be some calm here so that we can conclude the investigation before we move forward, Dan. 

ABRAMS:  But Vinda, I don’t get it.  I mean the courts have ruled that there isn’t enough evidence to hold them.  How will there be enough evidence to try them?

VINDA DE SOUSA, ARUBAN ATTORNEY (via phone):  Hi, Dan.  Well first of all, at that point in time the judge had ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to hold them, but the investigation has not stopped.  It has continued.  And if and when the prosecution decides to bring the case forward, the prosecution, of course, will have to feel that they have a solid enough case to charge them and bring the case to trial. 

I must agree with Steve, though.  It is premature to conclude or to even say that there will be a trial anywhere in June.  I think it’s speculation on part of Mr. Koch.  But then again, I do disagree with Steve, where he says that it is a judge that will be deciding if there is enough evidence to even charge and bring the case to trial.  In our legal system, it’s the prosecutor who decides whether or not there are enough—there is enough evidence in order to charge and bring a case to trial. 

ABRAMS:  Steve, do you know, have the authorities in Aruba said anything to these attorneys that would lead them to believe that their clients are going to be tried for murder?

COHEN:  No, I believe firmly that there’s been no discussion at all about any of the matters that the attorney brought up.  And I do agree with Ms. De Sousa that after the prosecution brings the case, then and only then, will the judge decide whether or not we move forward with the trial.  So I think it’s many months away and I am certain that he did not hear any of this from anyone in the office of the prosecution.

ABRAMS:  But I guess, Vinda, I was stunned to hear that there you know could very likely be a murder trial in this case, considering all the developments up to now.  Was that naive of me? 

DE SOUSA:  No, I don’t think so.  I certainly haven’t received any indications to the fact that there is anything to point towards a murder charge, even though the investigation is continuing, like I said a few moments ago, is continuing and focusing on a possible murder.  I do know that all the evidence that there was has been reviewed and based on that, new searches have been conducted and new witnesses and other persons of interest have been interviewed.  But as far as I know, to my knowledge, there is no such indication at—to this point, that I have received information...


DE SOUSA:  ... that there would be a trial anywhere soon. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  So Jonna, is this just the Aruban version of your kind of spin that we do here in the United States?

SPILBOR:  I think so.  I think this defense attorney is trying to put pressure on the Aruban government.  And you know, I have a question and perhaps Ms. De Sousa can answer.  I want to know if under Aruban law there is a provision similar to double jeopardy?  Because if there is, this is prosecutorial suicide, to go forward with a case this quick, where there seems to be no evidence...

ABRAMS:  This quick?  This quick?

SPILBOR:  Not this quick.  When there seems to be no evidence to support a murder charge whatsoever, at least none that we’re hearing about.  Because if double jeopardy would apply in Aruba, if they go forward with this case and they’re found not guilty, if evidence does come out...


SPILBOR:  ... in the future, they’re done. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Vinda...

DE SOUSA:  Yes, let me answer that. 


DE SOUSA:  There is—double jeopardy does apply.  So I agree with you when you say it would be prosecutorial suicide to bring a case forward if you don’t have enough evidence to base it on.

SPILBOR:  Right.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Susan, as the prosecutor here, you know it would be kind of risky based on what we’ve heard, right? 

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:   Well I mean this is just eerily bizarre.  First of all, if there is new information through the continuing investigation, and I don’t believe for a minute that they’ve stopped trying to solve this case, the prosecutor is not going to tell the attorney for the Kalpoe brothers.  That’s the last person they’re going to mention anything about a possible arrest to. 

I think this is P.R..  I think it’s grandstanding.  And I think it’s going to backfire and I’ll tell you why.  He should be out there saying my clients are innocent, my clients are innocent.  Any charges would be fallacious.  And what instead he’s saying is gee, I think they’re about to get nailed for it, and if they do, I want a quick trial so we can clear their name.  It’s just utterly bizarre and it’s a little bit irresponsible. 

ABRAMS:  But what—do you think that the prosecutors would risk moving—I mean Steve, let me ask you that.  Do you—I know you’re not a lawyer, but you are in contact with the authorities there.  Are they going to risk it? 

COHEN:  Oh, I don’t think that they’re prepared to risk anything at this stage of the game.  This has been a very meticulous period of this investigation.  I don’t think they’re going to move forward until they’re absolutely sure that there’s a case that can be brought. 

DE SOUSA:  I agree with Steve.

ABRAMS:  Real quick, Susan, let me ask you a question.  We’re hearing a lot from the attorney who’s talking—it sounds like he’s kind of going after Joran van der Sloot, the brothers suggesting maybe Joran isn’t telling the whole story or concocting stories in his public appearances.  If you have the two brothers going after Joran and they end up conflicting with one another, you’d think if one or the other knew something they’d spill the beans.

FILAN:  Well that’s exactly right.  I mean and that’s the only possible explanation that there could be to this kind of whacky statement on the part of their defense.  Maybe they’re getting so mad that Joran is basically stealing the show by going on all these public television appearances...

ABRAMS:  Wait.  Stealing the show? 


ABRAMS:  Wait a sec.  Susan, stealing the show?  But we’re talking about whether they’re going to be indicted for murder.

FILAN:  No, no, no, Dan.  Here’s what’s pretty much happening.  In my opinion, Joran has kind of spun P.R. back in his favor.  And you’ve had legal pundits actually coming out and saying gee you know now I think he’s actually innocent.  I don’t think he’s done it at all.  And I think maybe the Kalpoe brothers are getting pretty darn annoyed, because they know exactly the lies that he’s told. 

And this could quite possibly implode and cause the Kalpoe brothers to say what it is they know.  And that could actually be the best thing for the prosecution.

ABRAMS:  Interesting.

FILAN:  But there’s no way this prosecution is going to rush this case.

ABRAMS:  All right.

FILAN:  This is much too serious, much too important and they don’t have to.  Time is still on their side. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Interesting stuff.  Steve Cohen, Vinda De Sousa, Susan Filan, and Jonna Spilbor, thank you very much.  Appreciate it. 

DE SOUSA:  Thank you for having me.  Bye-bye.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, there he is, bounty hunter Duane “The Dog” is back, back with more real-life tales of his exploits tracking down bad guys.  And guess what?  “The Dog” has got a wedding in his future.  He joins us. 

And an FBI agent testifies that a month before 9/11 he feared the worst.  Couldn’t get anyone to act.  If he’d gone to the press with his story, would he be targeted the way so many are now?  It’s my “Closing Argument”.

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


ABRAMS:  Duane “The Dog” Chapman says he’s tracked down 6,000 bad guys.  Our favorite bounty hunter joins us up next. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK, he’s got a 9-Glock on him, carrying it right now, in his pants. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Who told you that? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My guy just called me, said he’s got a 9-Glock on him, right now. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Be very careful. 


ABRAMS:  Duane “The Dog” Chapman is back.  The bounty hunter who gained fame with the capture of cosmetics heir Andrew Luster in 2003, be back on the A&E network at 9:00 Eastern Time tonight for the premier of the third season of his hit show, “Dog The Bounty Hunter”.  Dog and his posse common-law wife and business partner Beth, son Leland and associate Tim are tracking down a perp named Samu Sobia.It’s a job that takes investigative skills, a good informer and some muscle.  Here it is.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Block the truck in.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let me out Tim. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There he is, sitting in the front seat, the front seat.






UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Hands behind your back. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Give me the cuffs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We got him Leland.  We got him. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They got him.  They got him. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE) check his gun.  Check for a gun.


ABRAMS:  With me now, Duane “Dog” Chapman.  Dog, good to see you again.  Thanks for coming back on the program.

DUANE CHAPMAN, STAR OF “DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER”:  Good to see you, Dan Abrams.  I wore my shades for you brother. 

ABRAMS:  I appreciate it.  I appreciate it. 


ABRAMS:  This guy we just you taking down, what did he—what had he been wanted for?

CHAPMAN:  He was wanted out of Hawaii for drug trafficking.  And of course, you know dug out to San Francisco.  Samu Sabia, and you know it gave me goose bumps as I watched that, because that was a fantastic bust.  In California, when you’re here as a bounty hunter, you have to either use the police or a bail bondsman, so we picked daily city police officers and we had a blast doing it. It was great.

ABRAMS:  Now I know you’re getting paid a lot of money to host—to be involved in the show.  Do you get paid also a bounty? 

CHAPMAN:  Oh, I’m not getting a lot of money to be on the show... 

ABRAMS:  Come on, “Dog”, I’ve read about all the money you’re making from your show.  Come on.

CHAPMAN:  Oh, listen, brother, you of all people know you can’t believe everything you read, right?


CHAPMAN:  Plus you know what?  Now listen, you know there is IRS and 35 to 50 percent taxes...

ABRAMS:  So we don’t want to admit how much we’re actually making, but so we’ll throw out officially we’re making $60,000 a year.  But from what I hear you’re making a lot more than that.  No, I’m just kidding.

CHAPMAN:  Oh, no, no.  It’s just like—you know you have to remember.  I have five or six children that have children that are also on the show that are not doing it for free.  You know what I mean? 


CHAPMAN:  But I’m not griping.  It’s great.  I mean we’re - we—hopefully we’ll get a raise, but it’s fun with A&E.  We’re having a ball.

ABRAMS:  Does your notoriety help or hurt in catching these guys?  And do get people calling you in with tips or do people say oh, no, there’s “Dog”.  We got to cruise.

CHAPMAN:  Dan, you know it’s actually helping because people realize you know who we are and we say what we do.  So and a lot of people want to you know be on the TV show, so they can give us information and they could you know be discovered by “American Idol” or something, who knows.  So, but it’s a lot easier brother when you know people believe in you.  They see how you work and what you do now to get the information.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Here’s an example—here’s a tense scene that you had on the program.  You were looking for a perp.  You ended up arresting or sort of taking into custody another man who was also wanted and someone ends up objecting.  Here it is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why are you taking my brother like that? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Listen, he has warrants on him...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You guys came looking for Sam...




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It’s not up to us. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It’s not up to us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Listen, you’re making your brother freak out.  Go stand...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why are you taking him? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He’s wanted.  What do you do with that?  Let him walk away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It’s OK for somebody.  He ain’t here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But it doesn’t matter.  He got in the crossfire.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Have you ever heard of that?


ABRAMS:  “Dog”, the question everyone asks, is all this stuff legal that you’re doing?

CHAPMAN:  Absolutely.  This is a law that’s been on the books since the 1800’s.  And you’re considered a sheriff of the county or actually a police officer while you’re apprehending the fugitive.  Now after that’s over you know you can’t use free phones or get into concerts free with your badge, but yes, absolutely it’s legal.  Dan, 85 percent of the fugitives in America are brought in by bounty hunters, 85 percent, brother. 

ABRAMS:  I hear you’re finally officially tying the knot with your lovely lady. 

CHAPMAN:  Yes, thank you.  I am marrying my common-law wife, Beth, on May 20, the Christian way. 


ABRAMS:  You guys have been partners and working together and living together for a long time, though right? 

CHAPMAN:  For a long time, yes.  We also share children together. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  “Dog”, good luck with the show.  Thanks for coming back.  Say hi to Beth for us. 

CHAPMAN:  I will.  Thank you for having me, Dan.  Aloha, brother. 

Thank you...

ABRAMS:  You can see the premiere of “Dog the Bounty Hunter” tonight on A&E at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. 

Coming up, the agent who arrested Zacarias Moussaoui suspected he was part of an unprecedented terror plot, but he couldn’t get a search warrant.  I say what if he’d leaked that information to the press?  Would we be calling him a patriot or a criminal?  It’s my “Closing Argument”. 

Our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing offenders before they strike.  Our search is in New Mexico.  Authorities are looking for Jeremy Garcia, 31, five-nine, 220, convicted of sexual penetration, sexual contact with a minor.  If you’ve got any information please call.  New Mexico wants to hear from you, 505-827-9297.  Be right back.


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—as the administration steps up its effort to target journalists and their possible government sources over certain leaks, you have to wonder are they watching the penalty hearing for Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person linked to 9/11 and prosecuted in this country now facing a possible death sentence?  As I’ve said in the past, generally classified information, particularly sensitive information should not be released.  It’s bad for all of us, but there are exceptions. 

Yesterday an FBI agent took the stand, detailed his excruciating battle to try to get someone to investigate Moussaoui more thoroughly after he was arrested on August 16, 2001.  Agent Harry Samit practically begged in an e-mail to a U.S. intelligence official at the time—quote—“I’m so desperate to get into his computer, I’ll take anything.”  Samit never got a search warrant. 

The official responded you fought the good fight, God help us all if the next terrorist incident involves the same type of plane, referring to the type of plane Moussaoui was learning to fly.  The date of that e-mail exchange, September 10, 2001.  So what if a desperate Agent Samit had decided to go to a reporter?  Technically he would have violated the law, but would it have been wrong? 

Samit remained a vigilant law abiding agent.  But would we prosecute him if he’d leaked his thwarted efforts to a major news outlet, of course not.  Now the government seems obsessed with finding out who leaked information about the NSA spying program, even unclassified information, a program that’s likely illegal in its current form.  It’s clear the disclosure has embarrassed the administration with members from both parties now criticizing him. 

And what did the terrorist learn from the disclosure?  Well they already knew we were monitoring them.  Now they know it can happen without the approval of the secret FISA court.  Look, like other important leaks, the Pentagon papers about the Vietnam War, Watergate, Iran-Contra, it sometimes behooves us all to know more about how our government is working or failing. 

In an article in “The New York Times” CIA Director Porter Goss wrote that those who choose to bypass the law and go straight to the press are not noble, honorable or patriotic.  Really?  Would that have applied to Harry Samit if he had gone to the press about being stymie?  Agent Samit deserves enormous credit for his good instincts and tireless work.  But to prosecute the mall crowd in the administration might want to think long and hard about whether it wants to prosecute someone like Samit, who decides to go and pass on information about the failures of that administration. 

Coming up, sexual assault victim sues her attackers and one of their lawyers.  We talked to him and her attorney (INAUDIBLE).  Your e-mails are next.


ABRAMS:  I’ve had my say, now it’s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night I spoke to Joseph Cavallo, attorney for one of three teens convicted of sexually assaulting a teenage girl on a pool table.  Now the girl is suing that lawyer and two defense investigators.  She says they subjected her to years of harassment and intimidation.   

Gary Van Zandt in Mission Viejo, California, “It was sickening to see Joe Cavallo given another opportunity to argue his clients were innocent and that Jane Doe was a slut and a liar.  Neither you nor Gloria Allred stood up for Jane Doe despite the jury’s guilty verdicts.”  It’s not true. 

Lisa Stromme writes “Thanks to Dan Abrams for not playing softball with Joe Cavallo and trying to hold him accountable.  Jane Doe is a heroine in my eyes.”

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

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