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'The Abrams Report' for March 30

Read the transcript to the Thursday show

Guests: Brianne Dopart, James “Butch” Williams, Kerry Sutton, Susan Filan, Jonna Spilbor, Jesse Longoria, Evan Kohlmann, Roy Hallums, Dr. Bruce Levy, Leslie Ballin

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, police move the search to a Duke University dorm room in the investigation into an alleged rape at a lacrosse team party.  We‘ve got the exclusive with the lawyers for two of the team‘s co-captains.  What is their side of the story? 

The program about justice starts now. 

This is the poster hanging across the Duke University campus.  Some angry students demanding that members of the school‘s lacrosse team come forward and tell everything they know about an alleged gang rape at my alma mater, Duke University. 

Hi everyone.  First up on the docket, it appears the investigation into an alleged gang rape at the home of Duke lacrosse players is expanding.  We‘re now hearing police have searched a dorm room.  The story began on March 13, at a party at a house rented by three captains of the lacrosse team.  Two dancers were hired to perform at the party.  They said they believed just a handful of men would be there for a bachelor party.

According to a police affidavit, one of the women says she was raped and beaten for about half an hour by three men in a bathroom.  Forty-six of the 47 members of the team have given police DNA samples, one player exempt because he‘s African American and the woman says the three men who attacked her were white.

We‘ll have an exclusive with the attorneys for two of the team‘s co-captains, but first let‘s check in with Brianne Dopart, the police reporter with Durham‘s “Herald Sun” newspaper.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  Appreciate it.

All right, let me ask you the first question.  Do you know anything about this search of a dorm room on campus?

BRIANNE DOPART, “THE HERALD SUN” REPORTER:  Police have not yet returned the search warrants last time I checked in, but they were telling us that they were going to do a search of the dorm room and that that search warrant should have been back either yesterday or today.

ABRAMS:  Do you have sense of why they would be in a dorm room?  I mean is there one person that they‘re focusing on in particular? 

DOPART:  Not that the police have let anyone know yet.  We‘ve heard that there are three men that the police are looking at, but we‘re not sure at this point whether the evidence was in the house at the time that the police searched the house on Buchanan.  They‘ve now start to search houses that are owned by other players—I mean rented by other players and that may be why they‘re looking in those dorm rooms...


DOPART:  ... two days before searching the house...

ABRAMS:  When you say...

DOPART:  ... at the alleged rape.

ABRAMS:  I‘m sorry.  When you say that there are three men that they‘re looking at, we know that the alleged victim here has said that there were three men involved.  Do you know—have the police identified three men in particular that they believe are the three men who allegedly committed this assault? 

DOPART:  They have not named anybody, but on the original search warrant I believe they named a boy named Adam, a boy named Bret, and a boy named Matt.  However, we‘ve also heard since then that the males that were allegedly involved in the rape may have used fake names, may have told her another name than their actual names. 

ABRAMS:  Because she was under the impression, was she not, that this

she says that this was supposed to be something for baseball players and some members of the track team? 

DOPART:  We‘ve heard that she believed that she was dancing at a party for about five people.  I‘m not sure what team she believed that she was performing for, but she was not expecting allegedly 40-some people to be there at that house that night.

ABRAMS:  Finally, do you have any sense of when the DNA results are going to be back?  We‘re hearing next week.  Does that mean early next week, late next week?  Do you have any idea? 

DOPART:  We‘re hoping early next week, but we‘ve also heard that the results were not actually received at the FBI lab until Monday.

ABRAMS:  All right, Brianne Dopart, thank you very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it. 

DOPART:  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Joining me now for an exclusive interview are two of the attorneys who are representing two of the co-captains in this case.  There has been a lot of talk about the allegations.  There‘s been a lot of frustration and anger at Duke University.  We have not heard a whole lot from the other side.  And again, no one has been charged in this case yet, but the D.A. did tell us that he is convinced that a rape was committed. 

We‘re joined now by Kerry Sutton, attorney for team co-captain Matt Zash and James “Butch” Williams, attorney for co-captain Daniel Flannery.  Thanks very much for coming on the program.  We appreciate it.

All right, Mr. Williams, let me start with you.  The first question that I think is the most obvious one is was your client at this party that has become the subject of all this controversy? 


Well, everyone that they took DNA from presumably was in fact at the party. 

There‘s been no denying that they were present at the party. 

ABRAMS:  Ms. Sutton, would you agree with that, that your client, as well, was at this party?

KERRY SUTTON, ATTY FOR DUKE LACROSSE CAPT. MATT ZASH:  My client was at the party and he is one of the residents of that house.

ABRAMS:  OK.  Question two:  There‘s been a lot of talk about not cooperating.  Mr. Sutton, has your client, in addition to giving DNA, which was actually court ordered, has your client agreed to answer questions from the police? 

SUTTON:  My client has given a written statement, an oral statement.  He volunteered to take a polygraph, but the police said no, thanks.  That‘s too much trouble.  He has been entirely cooperative, followed every piece of advice he‘s been given, and I can‘t say—I can‘t see where it‘s coming from in relation to my client that he‘s not being cooperative. 

ABRAMS:  Mr. Williams, what about your client? 

WILLIAMS:  Let me just say this.  For the record and that‘s part of the reason why we‘re standing here.  It‘s not normal, not for me, to give interviews prior to either charges or the case being adjudicated, but we just feel compelled at this particular time to set some of the record straight in this matter.  First off, Ms. Sutton‘s client, my client, and another young man went forward voluntarily and gave complete statements to the police, as well as voluntarily, without the advice of counsel at that point, voluntarily came forward with their—and succumb to DNA testing.  So when someone tells you that they did not cooperate, that‘s just absolutely false. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Now, let me understand the position of your clients, because there was a statement that was released, jointly, from the co-captains of the team who are saying that the DNA will prove that they did not commit any sort of crime here.  Does that mean, Mr. Williams, that no one in that house had sex with the woman who is making these accusations? 

WILLIAMS:  That‘s absolutely correct.  And they have said, from day one, that no one in the house had sex with that particular young lady and that they all categorically deny to the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that any sexual activity occurred other than her dancing. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  So Ms. Sutton, so there‘s not going to be a claim that there may have been consensual sex, et cetera, and so if they found DNA that they would be able to say later, well you know yes, we had sex, but she had agreed to it.  The claim of your clients and Mr. Williams‘ client is that they and no one else in that house, as far as they know, had sex with the woman involved?

SUTTON:  My client certainly denies that he had sex of any kind with this alleged victim, and to his knowledge, nobody at all at the house had sex with any of the women who were there.

ABRAMS:  And Ms. Sutton, was your client one of the people who was renting the house?

SUTTON:  Yes, he was. 

ABRAMS:  And Mr. Williams, your client as well? 

WILLIAMS:  Yes.  The same.  He was a resident of the house.

ABRAMS:  So presumably if something had happened in the house, one of your clients would have known about it, correct?

WILLIAMS:  Absolutely. 

SUTTON:  You would think so. 

ABRAMS:  And so what is their reaction to everything that is going on here? 

I mean they are eagerly awaiting the DNA results? 

WILLIAMS:  That‘s the first step.  But they‘re early awaiting exoneration and clearing of their good name, is what they‘re eagerly awaiting. 

ABRAMS:  What about...

WILLIAMS:  It‘s been a traumatic experience—let me just finish...

ABRAMS:  Yes, please...

WILLIAMS:  It‘s been a traumatic experience not just for them, but for the university, for the city of Durham, as well as for the parents of these young men.  So you know if anyone thinks anyone is taking this lightly, much to the contrary. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Mr. Williams, you‘ve made some comments about a 911-call that was presumably made an hour before this incident.  I want to play the 911-call and then I want to talk to you about it.  Here it is. 

WILLIAMS:  Go ahead. 


911 DISPATCHER:   Durham 911.  Where is your emergency?

CALLER:  I don‘t know if this is an emergency, but I‘m in Durham and I was driving down near Duke‘s campus and it‘s me and my black girlfriend and the guy, there‘s like a white guy by the Duke wall and he just hollered out (BEEP) to me and I‘m just so angry.  I saw them all come out like a big frat house and me and my black girlfriend are walking by and they called us (BEEP).  I‘m not going to press the issue I guess, but I live in a neighborhood where they wrote KKK on the side of a white station wagon and that‘s near right where I‘m at.  They didn‘t harm me in any way, but I just feel so completely offended.

(END 911 CALL)

ABRAMS:  And Mr. Williams, as you know, a neighbor had also claimed that he heard one of the young men in the house yelling at the women who were African American, thank your grandfather for my cotton shirt.

WILLIAMS:  Well, I hadn‘t heard—I hadn‘t seen that.  There‘s a lot of scuttle but—going around about this and about that.  (UNINTELLIGIBLE) You listen to the tape and listen to the discrepancies in the tape, first I was driving by, then I was walking by, and if you go ahead to the second tape that gave the address.  You can‘t—there‘s no numbers on that particular house.  You know, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) goes by there, they can‘t tell what house it was or the house next door...

ABRAMS:  We‘re showing the...


ABRAMS:  We‘re showing the picture right now.  Go ahead. 

WILLIAMS:  There‘s no numbers on that particular house.  So anyone—and that‘s in the daytime.  So anyone looking at that house at night could not be able to identify numerically what number is on that house, unless they‘ve been there.  Is this a product of a setup?  Those are things that we‘re going to be able to determine and ferret out in the shortcoming or in the shortcoming time that the investigators, private investigators are investigating this particular matter.

ABRAMS:  So Mr. Williams, let me just understand what you‘re saying.  You‘re saying that you think it‘s possible that the woman who made that 911 call made it an hour before the incident as part of a plan to later make accusations against these young men?  So they get someone to call 911, say that there were racially charge statements made, then the women go into the house, they come out, they make the allegations.  You‘re saying this may have all been part of a concerted plot? 

WILLIAMS:  Certainly seems kind of pat to me. 

ABRAMS:  What do you mean by that?

WILLIAMS:  That it‘s all contrived. 

ABRAMS:  You mean...

WILLIAMS:  Where is the young lady?  Why—let me ask you this.  Why hasn‘t the person who made that call come forward?  I mean it‘s been in all of the news outlets, all in the news—the news media has printed it.  Why haven‘t they come forward to say yes, I made that 911 call that night.  And why was a certain emphasis on me and my black friend.  I mean people don‘t call and make—make phone calls like that.  This—we‘re going to get to the bottom of what the motives are in this particular matter.

ABRAMS:  So it sounds like you‘re saying you think it might have been one of the women involved here making the call? 

WILLIAMS:  Oh, OK.  Now you‘re starting to see where I‘m going.

ABRAMS:  All right.  There are various attorneys who are representing players on the team.  Can you give me a sense, do you know, Ms. Sutton, how many attorneys are representing the various players on the team?

SUTTON:  Right now, as far as we know, there—besides Mr. Williams and I there‘s Joe Chesser (ph) is representing one out of Raleigh.  Wade Smith I understand is going to represent another player.  He is out of Raleigh.  Bob Ekstrand, of course, here in Durham, is at this time is representing many of the team members and there‘s, I believe, one other attorney that we‘re aware of, who‘s representing one other player.  But there—they may have made contacts that we‘re not aware of. 

ABRAMS:  Ms. Sutton, is your client still going to classes, et cetera? 

SUTTON:  He is.  He was at class this morning. 

ABRAMS:  And Mr. Williams, yours as well, because there was talk of, you know look, when you‘ve got all their pictures up around campus, people saying come forward, come forward, there was talk of possible harassment. 

WILLIAMS:  As tenuous and as hostile as you may think it is, there are a lot of people that have total support of these young men, as well as they are still trying to graduate and have classes that they must attend. 

ABRAMS:  Ms. Sutton, I‘ve heard Mr. Williams talk about some of the theories about what may have happened.  Can you tell us at least from your client‘s perspective, what happened at that party? 

SUTTON:  My client knows what happened inside his room, because that‘s where he was most of the evening.  Other than that, would be sheer speculation, and unlike some other folks, I‘m not willing to engage in speculation. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well, Mr. Williams, what about your client?  Can you tell us what his take is on what happened at that party? 

WILLIAMS:  He‘s told me he‘s totally shocked and appalled that these allegations have even been lodged, because in his heart of hearts and in his mind he knows that the allegations are false. 

ABRAMS:  But she was—I mean what about the allegation that she left the house, that they then came back into the house, were convinced to come back, et cetera? 

WILLIAMS:  OK.  That I‘m not going to comment on, because that didn‘t have anything to do with the second part of what may have occurred in the alleged attack.

ABRAMS:  Right.  All right, if I could ask you both just to stick around just for a couple of minutes.  I want to take a quick commercial break, just got a couple of more questions for you.  Duke student body president is going to join us as well.

And also coming up later in the program, American reporter Jill Carroll suddenly freed after nearly three months as a hostage in Iraq.  She says she was treated well by her captors.  We hear from her.

And a minister‘s wife back in court, charged with killing her husband.  We talk to the medical examiner about exactly how she allegedly killed him and to her attorney.

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



MIKE NIFONG, DURHAM, NC D.A.:  I am convinced that there was a rape, yes sir. 

ABRAMS:  And why are you so convinced of that? 

NIFONG:  The circumstances of the case are not suggestive of the alternate explanation that has been suggested by some of the members of the situation.  There is evidence of trauma in the victim‘s vaginal area that was noted when she was examined by a nurse at the hospital and her general demeanor was suggested—suggestive of the fact that she had been through a traumatic situation. 


ABRAMS:  And they say that her fingernails were left at the scene, as well as some other personal items, that the prosecutor suggests would never have been left there if there had not been a rape.  We‘re of course talking about the Duke University case, a member—number of members of the lacrosse team there had a party and a woman who had been hired to dance is now charging that or alleging that three members of the team forced her to have sex and strangled her and assaulted her. 

We‘re joined again by Kerry Sutton and James “Butch” Williams who are attorneys for two of the co-captains of the Duke team, Matt Zash and Daniel Flannery.  Mr. Williams, what do you make of the allegations?  I mean the D.A. there is saying we‘re convinced that there was a rape. 

WILLIAMS:  Well that‘s why we have juries.  You know, you go through the judicial process and you don‘t base your decision on half of the evidence, because there could in fact be—and should in fact be alternate explanations.  People have sex all the time.  I mean, you know, there are some other alternative theories to it, so I don‘t buy into a person jumping to and rushing to justice, especially a person in that position. 

ABRAMS:  Ms. Sutton, you‘re saying that when the DNA results come back that you expect that it will exonerate your client.  Do you then expect that the D.A. will announce that no charges are going to be filed? 

SUTTON:  I wish I could say I did expect that, but I really don‘t.  I believe that a decision has been made, that a crime has occurred, and now we‘re going about collecting evidence to prove that.  I think that‘s a mistake and I understand that even if the DNA evidence isn‘t good enough to -- we‘re trying to prove a negative here.  We‘re trying to prove they didn‘t do it.  That‘s not the way our system works.  The state is supposed to prove that they did do it.  And I just don‘t think that we‘re going about this in the right way.

ABRAMS:  Finally, Mr. Williams, can you tell us anything about the drinking going on at the party?  A lot of talk about how much drinking had been going on that night.

WILLIAMS:  No, I‘m going to have to decline to speak on that right now.

ABRAMS:  All right.  James “Butch” Williams and Kerry Sutton, thank you very much for taking the time and for sticking around.  We really appreciate it. 

WILLIAMS:  Thank you.

SUTTON:  Thank you so much. 

ABRAMS:  Joined now by MSNBC analyst and former prosecutor Susan Filan and criminal defense attorney Jonna Spilbor.  Wow.  All right.  I say wow because the defense is staking out a position here, Susan.  I mean they are saying there was no sex.  There was no—there‘s not going to be any claim of well, she agreed to it, et cetera.  They‘re going to say no sex, period. 

SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Right.  OK.  Here‘s the problem with that.  For the district attorney to go public and say I think a rape has occurred, it would seem to me, and I‘m speculating, but there‘s got to be some physical corroborative evidence.  She submitted to a rape exam.  There has to be in my opinion some physical evidence that‘s going to corroborate her claim of sex.  So for these guys to say no sex and then there to actually be some kind of evidence that there was sexual activity I think is going to be ultimately very damning for them.  They‘re also—I mean look, they could have used condoms and so perhaps there‘s going to be problems with the DNA there.  There‘s also going to be...

ABRAMS:  But she would have told them that, right?  I mean the alleged victim would have said they used condoms. 

FILAN:  Absolutely.  And the other thing that I foresee as a possible problem in this case is if it‘s a gang rape, and there are going to be multiple deposits.  You may have difficulty with the genetic profiles.  You may have difficulty with the DNA (inaudible), but that‘s not going to show what they‘re claiming...


FILAN:  ... and that there is no sex. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, I mean the point Susan is making is you know the D.A.  wouldn‘t do this.  On the other hand, would the defense attorneys have to be crazy to take this position, unless their clients are saying what?  I mean what do you need from a client to take this position, which is no consensual sex.  What we‘re going to say is there was no sex.  What do you need your client to say to you?

JONNA SPILBOR, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Dan, I would need my client to have his genitals in a cast, because without the DNA evidence coming back, I—you can‘t believe your clients wholeheartedly at first.  The DNA is going to tell what happened to that woman, how many deposits there are around her body.  The DNA is going to tell that.  So for the clients to say look we absolutely had no sex, you have to be proof positive that no sex happened.  They can‘t—they don‘t know if anybody didn‘t have sex with her.  So it‘s a very scary tact to take at this early stage in the defense. 

FILAN:  And Dan, if I may, what else could have caused her to leave five red acrylic fingernails behind on the bathroom floor, as well as...

ABRAMS:  You heard Mr. Williams...

FILAN:  ... telephone, a purse and...

ABRAMS:  You heard Mr. Williams.  He‘s suggesting that this was a setup. 

FILAN:  Yes, OK, let me talk to you about that if I may for a second.  You‘ve got a woman saying me and my black friend, which I think presumes that the woman making the call is not African American that she‘s Caucasian.  I think it‘s fair to say and please correct me if I‘m wrong, that both of the exotic dancers were African American. 


FILAN:  Problem with his story right there. 

ABRAMS:  Well...

FILAN:  I mean you say when you get in a hole stop digging, well I think they‘re digging.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  This is kind of—I mean let‘s get that 911 tape ready again, all right, number one, if we can, because this is important.  Because what we‘ve just heard, you know, is very significant.  You‘re hearing one of the attorneys suggest that this call may not have been entirely legitimate.  That‘s quite a statement to hear.  All right, so Jonna, DNA evidence you‘d expect would come back when, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, sometime next week?

SPILBOR:  Sometime next week, as quickly as they want it to.  You know, but here again, since nobody has been charged they might not exactly be in a rush.  And let‘s not forget, you know, even though there could be multiple deposits, when Kobe Bryant‘s accuser—discovered from her underwear that she had multiple deposits and that, you know—so it‘s not hard to gather that type of evidence. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Let me really quickly play that 911-call again. 


911 DISPATCHER:  Durham 911.  Where is your emergency?

CALLER:  I don‘t know if this is an emergency, but I‘m in Durham and I was driving down near Duke‘s campus and it‘s me and my black girlfriend and the guy, there‘s like a white guy by the Duke wall and he just hollered out (BEEP) to me and I‘m just so angry.  I saw them all come out like a big frat house and me and my black girlfriend are walking by and they called us (BEEP).  I‘m not going to press the issue I guess, but I live in a neighborhood where they wrote KKK on the side of a white station wagon and that‘s near right where I‘m at.  They didn‘t harm me in any way, but I just feel so completely offended.

(END 911 CALL)

ABRAMS:  It‘s a big allegation, right, for him to say—suggest that maybe the call was a fake?

SPILBOR:  No.  But it‘s not completely farfetched.  It very well could be fake.  A couple of things, who calls 911 because somebody calls them a name?  Even if it‘s a racially charged name and hate words are never OK, they‘re never OK, but you don‘t call 911...


SPILBOR:  ... unless you think you‘re about to be hurt, right? 


SPILBOR:  So why did she do that?  It could lend itself to a possible setup.

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know.  I mean you know in an area—around a university, you don‘t expect that kind of language and someone calls 911 and says you know what...

SPILBOR:  Somebody called me a name, Dan?

ABRAMS:  Come on.  It‘s more than a name. 


ABRAMS:  It‘s more than a name.

SPILBOR:  How about there is somebody coming after me...


SPILBOR:  Somebody‘s, you know, trying to hurt me. 

ABRAMS:  I think—I don‘t think you know that.  All right.  Jonna Spilbor thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.  Susan Filan, thank you, good to see you. 

FILAN:  Good to see you, Dan.

ABRAMS:  Joining me now is Jesse Longoria, Duke University Student Body President.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program.  All right...


ABRAMS:  ... so what‘s the reaction around campus?  You heard the lawyers, were just on the program saying their clients did cooperate.

LONGORIA:  Right.  The reaction on campus right now is truly a mixed bag. 

You have people on every side of the fence, converging in the middle.  Obviously, this is dominating campus discourse for the last few weeks or last few days.  And you have people on the side of the fence saying that, you know, our peers haven‘t had their innocence preserved, even before the charges.  Then obviously that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) nature of the events have caused just outrage, as it deservedly should.  So it‘s just stepping back, trying to find the truth...


LONGORIA:  ... what everybody wants to see happen.

ABRAMS:  You and the university administrators are in a tough position, because on the one hand, I‘m sure there are people who are saying look, student body government—president better come out and make a very firm statement about this, and other people are saying wait a second.  No one‘s been charged.  So how are you dealing with that? 

LONGORIA:  Right.  Well it‘s—like you said, a very difficult situation.  Because you don‘t want to come out before there‘s any facts.  You don‘t want to rush to any judgment.  I think it‘s important at this point, it‘s kind of ironic, but it‘s sexual assault prevention week on campus, and we came out last night and our student government general body with a general statement, saying that any sexual assault, any form or fashion is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) has no place in any context.  And so until we get more facts and until there‘s anything more to go on, that‘s the general stance we‘re taking. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, when I was vice president of the student body at Duke, I did not have to deal with anything nearly this weighty.  I assure you.  I feel lucky.  Good luck.  You‘ve got a tough week ahead of you, Jesse. 

LONGORIA:  Thank you.  I appreciate it.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, after nearly three months as a hostage in Iraq American Jill Carroll is free, on her way home to her family.  She says she was treated well, never threatened.  So what happened? 

And why did this woman allegedly kill her minister husband?  Mary Winkler‘s lawyer joins us, along with the medical examiner in charge of the autopsy. 




GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I‘m really grateful she‘s released.  And I want to thank those who worked hard to release her.  And we‘re glad she‘s alive.


ABRAMS:  President Bush celebrating Jill Carroll‘s release from captivity, the freelance reporter for the “Christian Science Monitor”.  Carroll was kidnapped in Baghdad January 7, her translator killed in the assault.  In the 82 days, three videos shot by her captors, two of them silent, one shows her weeping.  Today her captors put her in a car, drove her to the offices of the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party in Baghdad, apparently pointed her where to go and drove off.  Here‘s what she said to the Islamic party‘s TV station. 


JILL CARROLL, FORMER HOSTAGE:  I was kept in a very good, small, safe place, a safe room, nice furniture.  They gave me clothing, plenty of food.  I was allowed to take showers and go to the bathroom when I wanted.  Very good—never hit me, never even threatened to hit me.  I felt I was not free, you know—it was difficult, because I didn‘t know what would happen to me. 

I did get some news of what was going on, not—sometimes some news, but that‘s all.  I don‘t know what happened.  They just came to me and said OK, we‘re letting you go now.  I really don‘t know where I was.  The room had a window, but the glass was—you know you can‘t see and it‘s curtains.  And you couldn‘t hear any sound. 


ABRAMS:  No word yet on when Carroll will be back with her family.  Roy Hallums was a contractor working for a Saudi company in Baghdad.  He was kidnapped in November of 2004, held for 10 months before his rescue by U.S. forces.  Evan Kohlmann is an MSNBC terrorism analyst.  Thanks to both of you for coming on the program.

Evan, she sounds very almost protective of her captors, sort of going out of her way to say that they provided her with plenty of food, that the furniture was nice, et cetera.  I mean this is just moments after she‘s released, so it‘s certainly possible she‘s still in shock.  But what do you make of that? 

EVAN KOHLMANN, MSNBC NEWS TERRORISM ANALYST:  Well I think we have to keep in mind the medium in which this was broadcast.  This was an interview at the headquarters of the Iraqi Islamic Party.  And the head of that party has on numerous occasions appealed for Ms. Carroll‘s release and his explanation was is that you guys are making me look bad.

The Sunni Arabs that took her hostage, you‘re making me look really bad.  He wanted to salvage his reputation and his—the way he‘s seen, especially here in the United States.  And I think it was extremely important for the Iraqi Islamic Party and for moderate Sunni Muslims in Iraq to show that Ms. Carroll was not injured, was not hurt, that she was not mistreated. 

ABRAMS:  Well do you—let me ask you this. 


ABRAMS:  Are you suggesting that because of who was interviewing her that maybe she couldn‘t be entirely forthcoming? 

KOHLMANN:   I don‘t know if she couldn‘t be entirely forthcoming, but let‘s say at a minimum the questions were being shaped in a certain way and there‘s no doubt.  And I think—in a certain way I think Jill may also want to give some credit to the Iraqi Islamic Party, if they did indeed play a role in obtaining her release, then I think it would make sense...

ABRAMS:  But that‘s not giving them credit to talk about how great her captors were, right?

KOHLMANN:   Well no, but it‘s more about the sense that an American woman has not been mistreated while in the custody of Sunni insurgents. 

ABRAMS:  Got it.

KOHLMANN:   I think that‘s really more the issue.

ABRAMS:  Got it.  All right, Roy Hallums, describe for me, if you can, the feeling of being released, of knowing, after being held captive for a long period of time, what that moment is like, where you say to yourself, I‘m really going to be free? 

ROY HALLUMS, FORMER HOSTAGE IN IRAQ:  Well it‘s like you mentioned just before, you‘re in a state of shock.  And it‘s like a load has been lifted off of you, because for so long you‘ve been there, worried that at any moment someone might come in and kill you.  And then all of a sudden you‘re released and you‘re free to do what you would like to do.  And it‘s just—takes you some time to adjust to that new situation. 

ABRAMS:  Your accommodations, so to speak, were not as good as the ones that Jill Carroll was talking about, correct? 

HALLUMS:  No.  I mean the situation she described, if that‘s true, doesn‘t sound very bad.  My situation was much different.  I mean I was kept in a hole, under the ground, no furniture, you know not enough food, tied and blindfolded all the time.  So my situation was completely different. 

ABRAMS:  And regularly threatened, as well, right? 

HALLUMS:  Yes.  I mean I was beaten and a gun held to my head several times, saying well what do you want to say before we kill you...

ABRAMS:  So Evan Kohlmann, is this a different group that was holding her? 

KOHLMANN:  Well, it is a different group.  It appears to be a faction within the Islamic army in Iraq, which is one of the major insurgent groups in Iraq.  It‘s a Sunni Arab group.  It is Iraqi.  It is primarily an Iraqi nationalist.  It‘s not religious fanatics.

But this group has also, you know it has killed hostages before, and what‘s interesting is, is that another faction from the same group also appears to be responsible for the kidnapping of the Christian peacemaker team that was just released.  And if you remember, one of the members of that team, American Tom Fox,  was brutally beaten, tortured and murdered, by apparently, at least a link group of people.  So you know just because they released Jill, that‘s a good thing, but...


KOHLMANN:  ... we shouldn‘t look upon these folks as humanitarians. 


KOHLMANN:  They‘re thugs, murderers, there‘s no doubt...

ABRAMS:  Well and they also apparently killed her translator...

KOHLMANN:   That‘s correct.

ABRAMS:  ... they were taken, so we got... 

KOHLMANN:   That‘s correct. 

ABRAMS:  Look, the bottom line is we are thrilled and relieved that Jill Carroll has been released.  It was a huge, huge bit of great news for all of us when we found out.  So welcome back, Jill.  Roy Hallums and Evan Kohlmann, thanks a lot.  Appreciate it.

KOHLMANN:   Thank you. 

HALLUMS:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the woman who murdered her preacher husband, at least that‘s what she allegedly confessed to.  In court today, her attorney indicating she may have been suffering from postpartum depression.  He joins us next.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, the woman who reportedly killed her own husband then took off with her kids is back in court.  Her lawyer joins us next. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There‘s another consideration here, also.  And that‘s the consideration of the Winkler children.  We don‘t feel that it does anyone any good to hear gruesome things about their late father.  We don‘t think that it does Matthew Winkler‘s parents any good, to have to suffer any more than that they‘ve already suffered.  This is not a circus.  This is a legal proceeding.


ABRAMS:  Mary Winkler, charged with murdering her minister husband, appears in court for the second time today, waives her right to a preliminary hearing and bond.  Meaning, she‘ll have to wait in jail while prosecutors get ready to present a case to a grand jury.  That will decide if there‘s enough evidence to bring the case to trial. 

This is all happening as new details are coming out about exactly what happened inside the bedroom where minister Matthew Winkler was shot to death, allegedly by his wife more than a week ago.  Joining me now with some of the details is Dr. Bruce Levy, the Tennessee State Medical Examiner. 

Dr. Levy, thank you very much for coming on the program.  Now I understand that the autopsy report is not yet completed, but can you give us a sense of the cause of death and how many bullets there were and how close range, et cetera?

DR. BRUCE LEVY, TENNESSEE STATE MEDICAL EXAMINER:  Well Mr. Winkler was shot a single time in the back with a shotgun.  And the type of shotgun had what we refer to as birdshot pellets, which are very, very small pellets in it that injured multiple internal organs and caused Mr.  Winkler‘s death.

ABRAMS:  Did he ultimately die do you know based on bleeding to death? 

LEVY:  Yes.  Basically when you‘re shot in your body, death is caused by bleeding to death.  It‘s not like you see on TV shows, where they grab their chest, fall over and are immediately dead. 

ABRAMS:  So there were no marks?  He was shot in the back, so it doesn‘t seem that there would be any marks or indications that he had the opportunity to fight back.

LEVY:  That was really the only injury on Mr. Winkler‘s body.

ABRAMS:  And do you have any sense of how far away the person was shooting from? 

LEVY:  Well, we can tell that, because if you remember, when you were kids in school and we did that little test, where we dropped balls on paper and get a kind of scattered diagram, that‘s exactly how a shotgun works, as well.  The bigger the scatter, the greater the distance.  Based on the pattern in this case, we‘re looking at a fairly close-range shot.  We‘re talking about a matter of a couple or a few feet. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Dr. Levy, thank you very much. 

LEVY:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Appreciate it.  Joining me now Mary Winkler‘s attorney. 

Leslie Ballin joins us now.  Thank you for coming on the program. 


ABRAMS:  All right.  So, I know you don‘t want to get too specific as to exactly what is going to be the defense in this case, but there have been a lot of questions as to the state of their marriage and the state of their relationship and their relationship with their children.  Is there anything you can tell us about that? 

BALLIN:  I can tell you that today was the first day that I had to meet with Mary Carol for any length of time.  We did have meaningful conversations that included those subjects that you‘ve just referenced.  As you can appreciate, I can‘t go into details.  Let me tell you that this person, Mary Carol, is a very likable individual.  And it‘s unusual, in a case like this, for me, as a lawyer to have a client that‘s just so personable, so, if you will, huggable, lovable, kind, meek, mild mannered.  So we‘re looking into what really happened. 

ABRAMS:  So—but she admits to shooting her husband, right?

BALLIN:  I didn‘t say that.  All I‘m saying is that we are going to explore every possible avenue of defense and certainly the defense is going to be based in truth and fact.  There will be no defense fabricated.  She‘s accused of murder in the first degree and we are going to defend that case.  As you know, one of the elements is identity.  Another element, if identity is proven, is the state of mind of the defendant.  And we‘re investigating all of the above.

ABRAMS:  There has been a lot of talk of the possibility of a postpartum depression defense.  Something you‘re considering? 

BALLIN:  When you say something that we‘re considering, we are going to depend on experts to do a forensic psychological evaluation, to determine what, if any, mental issues there are.  If there comes to be a postpartum issue, then we‘re going to talk about that.  If there are other issues of a mental nature—diminished capacity, if you will, that would negate the requisite intent necessary to prove a murder in the first-degree case, we‘re going to investigate that.  But the defense will be consistent with the truth. 

ABRAMS:  Here‘s why I asked about the postpartum depression.  Here‘s your colleague, Steve Farese, speaking to “Dateline.”


STEVE FARESE, MARY WINKLER‘S ATTORNEY:  She has a child that‘s only 1 year old.  And I‘m concerned about possibilities of things such as postpartum you know depression.  And also she‘s had a lot of trouble lately sleeping, for any extended period of time, so that‘s something else I would like to explore. 


ABRAMS:  That interview was almost a week ago.  Is that still consistent with the issues that you‘re exploring?

BALLIN:  Still consistent.  Still a viable possibility.  That evaluation should occur soon.  I will say that the sooner that the psychological evaluation is done, the better, because we want to get a picture of Mary Carol now opposed to later. 


BALLIN:  But it‘s still consistent with what may have been going on. 

ABRAMS:  Why did you give up the opportunity to seek bond in this case? 

BALLIN:  Under the totality of the circumstances, with her being certainly concerned about herself, but the three children, the dynamics of this situation are all out of whack.  The dad is dead, the mom‘s accused of killing the father.  To have her out on bond would create a dynamic of what contact does she have with the kids?  Her concern is for the well being of those children...

ABRAMS:  And very quickly, those children are now with their paternal grandparents? 

BALLIN:  The paternal grandparents who I‘ve heard nothing but wonderful things about and we are comfortable that they are in the best of hands.

ABRAMS:  All right.  Leslie Ballin, thank you very much.  Appreciate it. 

Coming up, a Supreme Court justice once famously wrote that he knows obscenity when he sees it.  Would he have agreed with a Boston reporter, who claims Justice Antonin Scalia made an obscene gesture in front of him in a Boston church?  It‘s my “Closing Argument”. 

And is race a factor in the investigation of the alleged rape of the woman at the Duke campus or off the Duke campus?  Some of you writing in to say it shouldn‘t matter. 

Our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing offenders before they strike.  Today we‘re in New York.  Authorities are searching for Scott Grambeck. 

He‘s 38, five-six, 165, was convicted of sexually abusing an 8-year-old boy, has not registered his address with the state.  If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, please contact New York‘s 100 Most Wanted tip line, 800-262-4321.  Be right back. 


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—there is a serious debate currently brewing between United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and “The Boston Herald” pitting the conservative controversial American jurist against a member of the free and uncensored American press.  A precedent setting First Amendment case perhaps?  Not quite.

Justice Scalia and “The Boston Herald” are grappling over this.  Scalia taking his four fingers and placing them under his neck, then moving his hand forward.  The issue, does that constitute an obscene gesture?  The ambiguous hand motion came at a Boston cathedral after a “Herald” reporter asked Scalia how he responds to those who question his decision to practice his Catholic faith publicly? 

Scalia says he responded—quote—“jocularly with the gesture”.  “The Herald” saw it differently, reported the sitting justice made an obscene gesture to a reporter.  Scalia then responded with a letter to the editor, explaining that in Sicilian culture it means who cares.  Quote—“From watching too many episodes of ‘The Sopranos‘, your staff seems to have acquired the belief that any Sicilian gesture is obscene, especially when made by an Italian jurist.”

In response, “The Boston Herald” released the photo with an eyewitness account from the photojournalist who confirmed that in his opinion, yes, Scalia was being obscene.  I ask, without making the gesture myself, who cares?  You got “The Boston Herald” consulting professors of non-verbal studies and psychologists who study human gestures to get to the root of what the gesture means. 

One expert told “The Herald”, it means I don‘t know in Portugal, no in Naples, you‘re lying in Greece and I don‘t give a damn in northern Italy, France and Tunisia.  In Boston, Massachusetts, when you‘re a Supreme Court justice and a reporter is nagging you on a Sunday while you‘re at church, it could mean any of those things, or possibly something else, but why the need for nearly a full week of commentary and analysis from “The Herald” about Scalia‘s intent?  They might just want to look to Supreme Court precedent on this one.  In Jacobellis v. Ohio, Justice Potter Stewart wrote about obscenity—quote—“I know it when I see it.  Enough said.” 

Coming up, many of you writing in about the alleged gang rape at Duke University, demanding the players cooperate with police.  Your e-mails are next. 


ABRAMS:  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Many of you writing in about the investigation into that alleged gang rape at Duke at the lacrosse party.

Theron Abbott in Derby, Kansas, “Independent of whether or not a crime occurred, players should be expelled and scholarships revoked for their refusal to cooperate fully with the police.”  You heard their lawyers on.  They say they are.  Who knows?

Leon Tunctson, “I notice that you consistently refer to the rape victim as an exotic dancer instead of as a student at a nearby college.  She is a college student.  She was dancing to make some extra money.”

Maybe so, Leon, but she was at this party where the alleged rape occurred as a dancer.  That‘s relevant.  That is a piece to this story.  To only describe her as a student at a nearby college I think would lead many to ask all right, what was she doing at a party of all male lacrosse players.  Not a judgment about her, just an important fact that I think has to be laid out so people have all the information. 

Angela Shelton from Birmingham, Alabama, “As a woman who was attacked near the campus of N.C. State in the 1990‘s by a black man, I doubt he was racially motivated to choose me.  People need to get off the race bandwagon and look at the crime by what is important, the facts.”

Your e-mails abramsreport—one word--  We go through them at the end of the show.

Tomorrow we‘re going to have more on the Duke University case.  That does it for us tonight.

Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  See you tomorrow.



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