Guests: Bob Ashley, Yale Galanter, Susan Filan, Karen Russell, William Portanova, Jerry Hill, Philip Russell, Carol D‘Auria, Dr. Werner Spitz
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, breaking news in the investigation into an alleged rape at a Duke lacrosse party. The team‘s coach has resigned. The school has canceled the rest of the lacrosse season. It seems the results of a new e-mail that‘s just been released in connection with the case.
The program about justice starts now.
Hi everyone. First up on the docket, breaking news out of Duke University. Mike Pressler, the men‘s lacrosse coach, has resigned amid allegations that members of his team raped an exotic dancer. And the school‘s president has just officially canceled the team‘s season. This comes just hours after a new e-mail was released.
One of the players apparently wrote it about an hour after the alleged incident. Quote—“Tomorrow night after tonight‘s show I‘ve decided to have some strippers over to Edens 2C. All are welcome. However, there will be no nudity. I plan on killing the B‘s as soon as they walk in and proceeding to cut their skin off.”
The question: Does that show a propensity towards violence or could it show the players were angry at the women for leaving as their lawyers are now claiming? The alleged assault occurred at a party at an off-campus house rented by three lacrosse players. The alleged victim and another woman were hired as exotic dancers to perform at the party.
Joining me now on the phone, the editor for “The Herald-Sun”, Bob Ashley. Thanks a lot for coming on the program. Appreciate it. All right, why are we just finding about this now?
BOB ASHLEY, “THE HERALD-SUN” EDITOR (via phone): Well, until this morning, the paper is asking for the search warrant and this was in those papers, had been sealed by the—by a local superior court judge.
ABRAMS: All right. So we just get them today. You guys have been pushing for this for a while. This was in the search warrant to get access to his dorm?
ASHLEY: To his dorm room, correct. And the exact date I think on March 27 is when the police asked for and got the search warrant. But the papers on it had been sealed, we‘d been pressing in fact for a while, we‘re not even able to get a lucid explanation of why it had been sealed. When we learned yesterday, some more details of that, we asked our attorney, who happens to be an extraordinarily good attorney...
ASHLEY: ... to pursue it and the result was today finally the unsealing of them.
ABRAMS: Does it seem to you like the attorneys for the players knew about this e-mail before?
ASHLEY: You know, I can‘t answer that. I don‘t know whether they did or they did not know about it. There‘s some indication in their comments today that they may have known about it, but I can‘t say that for a fact.
ABRAMS: Here‘s what Bob Ekstrand, who is the alleged e-mailer‘s attorney has said.
ABRAMS: He said while the language of the e-mail is vile, the e-mail itself is perfectly consistent with the boys‘ unequivocal assertion that no sexual assault took place that evening. The time stamp on the delivery of the e-mail is 1:58 a.m., shortly after the party, which is further evidence of a lack of a guilty mind.
As the e-mail relates to the allegations in this matter, the e-mail demonstrates that its writer is completely unaware that any act or event remotely similar to what has been alleged ever occurred. Now, we‘ve read from part of that e-mail, Bob, is there more to it that might put it into better context?
ASHLEY: No. That‘s—in fact, I don‘t have the text of it itself in front of me at the moment, but I do have the parts that we‘re quoting in our story and essentially that‘s it. I‘m not aware of any other detail in there that would shed any further light on the question of whether this is, you know, as I think your story notes, a joke or for real.
ABRAMS: All right. Bob Ashley thanks a lot for taking the time.
ASHLEY: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Joining me now, MSNBC legal analyst, former prosecutor, Susan Filan and criminal defense attorney Yale Galanter. All right, let me read from this again because this is important.
This is what the e-mail says and the misspellings and the typos are included. Tomorrow night after tonight‘s show, I‘ve decided to have some strippers over to Edens 2C. All are welcome. However, there will be no nudity. I plan on killing the B‘s as soon as they walk in and proceeding to cut their skin off.
I mean Yale, you listen to that, and you go, oh, God, it sounds awful and yet it sounds like the attorneys for these young men are trying to say this actually could help us.
YALE GALANTER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, you know, there‘s one other sentence that may not have any evidentiary value, but it certainly gives some idea of what the writer was thinking. The e-mail goes on, Dan, to say while in my Duke spandex and then it goes on to give the first name of two other people, which tells us two things.
One is this person isn‘t serious about murdering or doing any violent acts
to anybody and number two of it, it may be a hoax or some kind of a joke
because I don‘t know too many murderers who telegraph to other people that
they‘re going to be wearing their Duke spandex while they‘re committing a
murder and inviting over—other people over to watch. So either “A”,
it‘s a very sarcastic type of thing or it‘s a hoax, but it certainly
doesn‘t give any evidentiary value to the rape or the allegations of rape
by the three members of this lacrosse...
ABRAMS: Here‘s what Joe Cheshire said, the attorney for one of the co-captains. Said this e-mail while the wording of it is at best unfortunate, if you read this e-mail and you‘re also aware of other e-mails that exist contemporaneous with these events—we don‘t know about those—it‘s quite clear that no rape happened in that house. These boys were frustrated because they, as has already been reported, they thought these women had come and taken a bunch of money and started dancing and just decided to leave.
This e-mail does not in any way, shape, or form show that there was a violent sexual act that went on in that house. I would tell you that it in fact shows the opposite. Susan?
SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well I don‘t think the e-mail shows that no rape took place. But again, I don‘t think it shows that a rape did take place. I think if this e-mail was written the night before, it could be much more of an (UNINTELLIGIBLE) kind of an e-mail for the prosecution. That it happens after the alleged 911-call where the alleged assault is reported is a little bit odd. We don‘t know whether the person whose computer it is, is the writer, although his lawyer seems to be conceding...
FILAN: ... that he is the writer. It‘s also written at a time after a lot of drinking and I don‘t know what that means, but it does go to his state of mind.
ABRAMS: Susan, I got to say, listening to you and you‘ve been tough on these guys, you‘ve been, you know, very sort of supportive of the alleged victim, while not making any firm judgments in this case, it sounds like you‘re saying you think that actually this—as was described, one of the lawyer‘s vile e-mail—sounds like you‘re saying if it cuts one way or the other, it might actually help the guys.
FILAN: I‘m really saying I don‘t know what it has to do with this case. The 911-call where the woman says me and my black girlfriend had racial epithets hurled at us and this e-mail and the fact that the fingernails are in the bathroom two days later and were never cleaned up, give me some kind of lingering doubt, but I have to say, Dan, a woman that reports a forcible rape like this, subjects herself to the interrogation of the police, goes through the questioning of the district attorney, submits to a rape examine and has the bruising that her dad describes and the tears in her private parts that we‘ve heard from the medical examiners doesn‘t sound like someone who‘s faking her injuries or making it up, but this case, Dan, gets weirder and weirder.
ABRAMS: It does. Yale, what‘s particularly troubling is when anyone, I don‘t care how drunk you are or whatever, you use the terms, as soon as they walk in we‘re going to cut their skin off. OK, I mean again, that doesn‘t necessarily provide us with any definitive answers as to what happened or didn‘t happen here, but it does show a somewhat demented mind.
GALANTER: Dan, I agree with you 100 percent. The content of the e-mail is vile, but the fact that it was written, the e-mail tag, the people who are identified in the e-mail, the fact that the writer says what he‘s going to be wearing, when he does this, makes it almost comical, even though the content itself is vile. But it doesn‘t do anything to help the prosecutors or law enforcement intend of proving whether this rape occurred or it didn‘t occur.
ABRAMS: I don‘t know. Susan, can you think of a way they might be able to use this e-mail in the context of the case?
FILAN: The only way I could think about it, Dan, is you could argue that it‘s perhaps consciousness of guilt, of some sort, because if nothing happened and there were no racial epithets, how did this person know to write an e-mail, targeting strippers, saying I‘m going to kill them and saying I‘m going to cut their skin off. It sounds like he had some knowledge of something...
FILAN: ... that went on that night.
ABRAMS: Well, no, wait. No one is disputing that there were women who were hired...
ABRAMS: ... to be dancers at the house and no one is disputing that they showed up at the house that night, right?
FILAN: Right. But still by writing this e-mail after the alleged sexual assault took place threatening to kill, one could argue that it‘s consciousness of guilt, that he knows that something went down in the house that night, far beyond just hiring dancers and calling them...
ABRAMS: This is...
FILAN: ... racially abhorrent names.
ABRAMS: Mike Nifong is the D.A. in Durham, North Carolina. He is now saying he is not going to do any more interviews on the case, but he did do a couple of interviews on this program. Here‘s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE NIFONG, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, DURHAM, NC: 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 suggestive of the fact that she had been through a traumatic situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: And also her personal items were left at the house, as Susan put it, including some of her fingernails. So Yale, how do you deal with that as a defense attorney?
GALANTER: Well there are a couple of things. One is she was brought to the hospital by her boyfriend. I mean it‘s not as if she was brought to the hospital by the police...
FILAN: So what? That doesn‘t matter.
GALANTER: Well it could matter because if she had sexual contact with her boyfriend after this alleged rape that could account for why there was some kind of vaginal trauma...
ABRAMS: It sounds like the D.A.—unless this D.A. has never seen a rape case before, right...
ABRAMS: ... and unless the authorities who are investigating this, I mean, he sounds and I‘m not saying he‘s necessarily right, but I‘m just saying that he sounds entirely confident that this was a—at least looked like a forcible rape.
GALANTER: The one thing that we have seen discussing these types of cases over the past year, Dan, is that not all prosecutors do a great job before they make the kind of statements that this prosecutor made and we know that this case is a bizarre case and there‘s a lot more to this that is yet to come out.
There are other e-mails. There are other witness statements and we just don‘t know what they are.
GALANTER: Right now, the only thing we still have is the he said-she said scenario and in that scenario...
GALANTER: ... the boys are going to carry...
ABRAMS: Let me ask you this. A lot people who have been critical of the D.A. and a number of them have been reaching out to me in different contexts have said oh he‘s up for reelection very soon, and that‘s relevant here. Is that something to take into consideration?
FILAN: Oh, absolutely. You have to take it into consideration, but I‘ve got to tell you that if he‘s wrong about this case, he‘s lost any chance for reelection, so his going public cuts both ways. He‘s taking a tremendous risk as he does it, but he does, if this works and he‘s able to pull it off, stand to gain something.
But let me just go back to something that Yale is saying if I may, Dan. It‘s really hard for a woman to fake a cry of rape and fool law enforcement and law enforcement would have had to have taken her story and assessed her statement before it ever got to the D.A., so even if Yale is right and the D.A. himself didn‘t do a good job, and I‘m not saying that he didn‘t, analyzing her credibility and analyzing her claim, it wouldn‘t have gotten to the D.A. until it had gone through law enforcement and it is hard to fake those kind of statements. It‘s hard to fake those kind of injuries. It‘s hard to fool those kind of cops and it‘s hard to bamboozle a D.A.
GALANTER: And what did we say about Kobe Bryant?
ABRAMS: Well Kobe Bryant...
ABRAMS: I mean look...
FILAN: ... entirely different...
GALANTER: Look at what happened to the victim in that case.
ABRAMS: Because there was no—the claim there was consent.
GALANTER: Yes and the D.A. was totally bamboozled...
ABRAMS: Well, no, no...
GALANTER: ... when the DNA evidence came out...
ABRAMS: ... come on. We have no—that was—it was not demonstrated that the D.A. was bamboozled. It was demonstrated...
GALANTER: Dan, when the DNA evidence...
ABRAMS: ... victim didn‘t want to testify...
GALANTER: ... came back about what was found in her underwear...
FILAN: But that didn‘t mean...
GALANTER: ... everybody was shocked.
FILAN: That‘s a red herring in...
ABRAMS: All right. I don‘t want to debate the Kobe Bryant case. Again to the people who say and I said this before, to the people out there who say why are you treating this differently than the Kobe Bryant case, the answer is because no one has been charged yet. We don‘t know who‘s been charged. And in this case, the defense isn‘t consent, which gets sort of mushy.
ABRAMS: The defense here is nothing happened.
ABRAMS: So we—let‘s wait and see on that. Susan Filan and Yale Galanter, thanks a lot.
GALANTER: Thanks, Dan.
FILAN: Thank you, Dan.
ABRAMS: Coming up, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney still insisting racism was to blame for her run-in with a Capitol police officers, but could those allegations backfire. Would prosecutors be thinking to themselves, no need to charge if she just apologized?
And a Department of Homeland Security spokesperson allegedly caught in the act. Arrested after sending material online to a detective he thought was a 14-year-old girl.
Plus, his brother was killed by his wife with a drug-laced milkshake, now a wealthy real estate developer is found dead himself, stabbed in his home. But some now asking, could he have hired his own hit man so his kids could get his life insurance?
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)
REP. CYNTHIA MCKINNEY (D), GEORGIA: This whole incident was instigated by the inappropriate touching and stopping of me, a female black congresswoman.
MICHAEL RAFFAUF, ATTORNEY FOR CYNTHIA MCKINNEY: Whatever reaction she had and it‘s been alleged a slap, a push, a shove, a hit, this should not be a criminal matter.
JAMES MYART, JR., ATTORNEY FOR CYNTHIA MCKINNEY: I‘m not confirming that she struck or didn‘t strike the individual. All I‘m saying is, is that she was placed in impending fear of her own safety.
RAFFAUF: That checkpoint that she went through was not secure; it was based on allowing someone who had one of these pins to just bypass security.
MYART: The point is, is that he did not know who she was, so to him, at least in my mind, she was just another black person.
MCKINNEY: This has become much ado about quite frankly, a hairdo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: A lot of excuses and allegations coming from Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and her lawyers about why she scuffled with a Capitol police officer. The Capitol police now want charges filed. A week ago, McKinney suggesting that her new hairstyle from this look to the one she wears today should not have prevented the police from recognizing her. They should have immediately allowed to walk around the metal detector even though she wasn‘t wearing her identification pin.
She‘s also suggested racial profiling was a factor, but Capitol Hill Police Chief Terrance Gainer doesn‘t seem to buy it. Quote -- “He reached out and grabbed her and she turned around and hit him. Even the high and the haughty should be able to stop and say I‘m a congressman, and then everybody moves on.” Should not be able to say that.
“My Take”—Congresswoman McKinney would have been better off I think by just apologizing for the incident from the start saying it was a misunderstanding. It seems to me that she‘s just taunting the police at this point with what seem to be unfounded allegations of racism and sexism. I mean they‘re possible, but there‘s no evidence to support it.
Karen Russell is a legal analyst with NBC affiliate KING 5 in Seattle and an attorney. William Portanova is a former federal prosecutor. Thanks to both of you for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
Karen, wouldn‘t she have been better off to just say look, you know, it appears it was a misunderstanding. Instead, it seems to me she‘s almost inviting the Capitol police to want to prosecute—to want to get a prosecution.
KAREN RUSSELL, KING 5 LEGAL ANALYST: I think that she feels that she was touched inappropriately and that she responded, and that because she is an African American, and because she is a congresswoman that this has become a much bigger story and so I think there‘s also the element of ego. I think it‘s hard for both parties to step back and say you know maybe we should have handled this behind closed doors.
ABRAMS: Well, I mean I think, again, Bill, that this—what I‘m suggesting is that after you hit a police officer, no matter what leads up to it, et cetera, you can‘t just say oh—most people in this country can‘t say I felt the police officer was mistreating me, therefore I whacked him.
WILLIAM PORTANOVA, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Period. You can‘t touch the police, period, even when they‘re wrong. So long as a police officer is doing his duty, even if he‘s made a bad decision, which he may have in this case, but even if he is wrong, once a police officer puts his hands on you in what he thinks is a lawful detention, you don‘t have the right to strike back.
RUSSELL: But we don‘t know that she struck back. I mean we do have a situation here...
ABRAMS: Oh, come on...
RUSSELL: ... of he said-she said...
PORTANOVA: I know she struck back.
ABRAMS: Look, I don‘t believe—I mean look, her lawyers are talking about everything. They‘re saying oh, you know, we can talk about this. We can talk about this circumstance, that circumstance. The one thing we won‘t talk about is well, was it a hit, was it a push, was it a shove, whatever it is, it‘s clear she did something to the police officer...
RUSSELL: But we should also note, you know, why don‘t they know who this woman is? And why was this...
ABRAMS: But again, who cares?
ABRAMS: I know she cares because she‘s very—apparently she‘s sensitive about the fact that they don‘t know that she‘s a congresswoman. I know that‘s apparently offended her immensely to the point...
ABRAMS: ... that she got so upset that she hit a police officer.
RUSSELL: We don‘t know that she hit a police officer. But you know...
PORTANOVA: Yes she did.
RUSSELL: ... you know sort of the African American experience of being followed by security, whether you‘re...
ABRAMS: She‘s a congresswoman.
ABRAMS: She is not a random person...
ABRAMS: I think this is doing a disservice...
ABRAMS: ... to people who are being racially profiled around this country, Karen.
RUSSELL: No, you know, what‘s doing a disservice is that is making it
is the explosion of the Republicans now saying, you know, there‘s going to have a resolution against her, Tom DeLay coming out and criticizing her, so you know...
ABRAMS: She‘s brought this on herself. This is my point.
RUSSELL: ... mock outrage like there was over the Coretta Scott King funeral.
ABRAMS: But this is my point, is she could have avoided this and yet, her attorneys continue and she continues to make incendiary comments.
RUSSELL: ... incendiary for? A black person to say you know what, based on my life experience that I feel that this is a racial element. Why is...
ABRAMS: Because when you hit a police officer...
RUSSELL: We don‘t know that she hit a police officer.
ABRAMS: When you...
RUSSELL: She‘s saying that she was touched inappropriately...
ABRAMS: And so...
RUSSELL: ... by a police officers.
ABRAMS: So she‘s saying that if that—let‘s assume for a moment that she was touched in a way that offended her. Let‘s assume that for a moment. Let‘s assume he grabbed her shoulder in a way no one should ever grab a congressman.
ABRAMS: Are you saying to me that that entitles her to strike back at a police officer?
RUSSELL: No. Maybe he should have said you know what, I‘m sorry. I didn‘t recognize you...
ABRAMS: I understand, but I‘m asking you legally now.
ABRAMS: Legally does that entitle her to hit a police officer?
PORTANOVA: Well, you know, first of all, it sounds like my esteemed colleague on the other side of this issue here has drank the Kool-Aid here. Look...
RUSSELL: Oh, I‘m drinking the Kool-Aid...
PORTANOVA: You don‘t—excuse me. One of the things you‘re going to do is let me talk for...
ABRAMS: Wait. Wait. I‘ll deal with who talks. Go ahead, Bill.
PORTANOVA: Yes. When you hit a policeman, it doesn‘t matter what color you are and I am quite certain that this woman hit this police officer and her behavior after...
ABRAMS: There‘s no videotape...
PORTANOVA: And then I‘ll let you finish when I‘m done.
ABRAMS: Enough with that. Yes, just go ahead...
PORTANOVA: The bottom line is, you can‘t hit a police officer, and she should be ashamed of herself for the example she‘s setting, not only for herself...
PORTANOVA: ... but for all the kids in this country that she pretends to be a race model for, because she‘s bringing shame to herself and no one in Congress is backing her up. That should be the biggest...
ABRAMS: Karen, quick response and then I want to ask one other question.
RUSSELL: You know, I mean the Capitol police have a track record of having problems with African Americans and profiling with their officers, and so maybe they should have a little shame about their interactions with the African American community.
ABRAMS: I think this is just an excuse to try and discuss what is not the issue here. But let me—here‘s the attorney for the congresswoman, talking today about why he doesn‘t think this should be a criminal matter and now bringing up a new topic, and again, I don‘t get it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAFFAUF: This should not be a criminal matter. That checkpoint that she went through was not secure. It was based on allowing someone who has one of these pins to just bypass security, so the security officer didn‘t know that she was a congresswoman, why should you be able to pass just because you‘re wearing a pin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Now the problem isn‘t just about profiling, it‘s about the fact that the Congress isn‘t secure enough, right?
PORTANOVA: This is...
ABRAMS: Let me ask Karen about that.
RUSSELL: Well, there seems to be—it seems like there‘s a lack of communication, information and maybe training and that there was a couple of issues here that need to be reviewed by the Capitol police, and again, I think that this probably would have been handled better behind closed doors...
RUSSELL: ... but when it‘s of a level, it‘s hard for people with egos to step back and say you know what, it was a misunderstanding and you know no harm and no foul, let‘s move on.
ABRAMS: But don‘t you agree, Karen...
ABRAMS: Let me ask you this. As an African American woman, aren‘t you careful when you make an allegation that someone is doing something to you based on your race?
RUSSELL: Absolutely. And so I think that she feels sincerely after many years and many interactions and many altercations...
ABRAMS: But wouldn‘t you be specific—wouldn‘t you feel like as opposed to just saying, you know this happens in this country, when you make an allegation like this, I would assume that...
RUSSELL: And she‘s not saying it happened in this country. She‘s saying it happened here...
ABRAMS: No, no...
RUSSELL: ... to me before in the...
ABRAMS: Every time I hear her, she‘s talking about the country, about the—that we need to have the discussion about racial profiling in this country.
RUSSELL: I think we do and I also think we need to talk about the problems with the Capitol police not recognizing Congress people.
ABRAMS: But again—but whether they recognize Congress people or not is beside the point. The question is, if she hit the police officer...
RUSSELL: Which we don‘t know.
ABRAMS: ... which her lawyers are conceding that there was a push, a hit, a shove, whatever it is...
RUSSELL: It was in response to inappropriate touching.
ABRAMS: Right. Right. But again, you‘re not justifying that, are you? You‘re not saying it‘s OK, are you?
RUSSELL: I‘m not justifying it.
RUSSELL: I‘m saying though it seems—you know, African Americans just can‘t win. If we say, you know what, based on our life experience...
ABRAMS: How about just saying I‘m sorry this happened...
ABRAMS: I‘m not going to talk about African Americans in general.
ABRAMS: I‘m going to talk about...
RUSSELL: Why don‘t both sides say you know what, I‘m sorry that this happened, I‘m sorry...
ABRAMS: Because the police have the right to secure an area. That is their job. That is what they do for a living.
RUSSELL: And if she was walking by, she didn‘t hear them, and they manhandled her, there was a scuffle, if it was so outrageous, why didn‘t they just cuff her there on the spot...
ABRAMS: Oh, that would have been good, because you‘d be complimenting them on that, right, if they cuffed her?
RUSSELL: Well no, but then it would add credibility...
ABRAMS: Oh, come on, Karen...
RUSSELL: No, no...
ABRAMS: It‘s crazy.
ABRAMS: If they cuffed her?
RUSSELL: Yes. There‘s saying this was so outrageous that it‘s an assault on a police officer, well in those situations where the conduct is so outrageous, then...
ABRAMS: Maybe she got special treatment because she‘s a congresswoman. She got treated a little bit better than an ordinary person...
RUSSELL: It wouldn‘t be the first time that Congress people were treated differently.
ABRAMS: That‘s true.
RUSSELL: You know...
ABRAMS: Fair enough.
RUSSELL: ... we‘re not talking about Iran or...
RUSSELL: ... the war or DeLay. You know we‘re talking about...
RUSSELL: ... mock Republican outrage.
ABRAMS: We talked about DeLay yesterday, but if Cynthia McKinney and her lawyers would stop continuing to attack everyone as opposed to just saying they‘re sorry, the discussion might move on. You know. All right. Karen, Bill, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
Coming up, an official at the Department of Homeland Security busted in an online sex sting. Police say he was preying on a 14-year-old girl online. We talk to the man prosecuting him up next.
And a wealthy real estate developer found stabbed to death in his own home, his hands bound. His own brother had been poisoned a couple of years ago by his wife with a milkshake. This man was going through a nasty divorce, but some now questioning whether he ordered his own death?
Our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing offenders before they strike. Our search today is in North Carolina.
Police need your help finding Marcos Valle. He‘s 31, five-foot, 125, was convicted of taking indecent liberties with a child, has not registered his address with the state. If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, Iredell County Sheriff‘s Office in North Carolina want to hear from you, 704-832-2349.
ABRAMS: This was the Department of Homeland Security‘s deputy press secretary. He was nabbed in an online sex predator sting last night, taken from his home in cuffs, while allegedly waiting for the—quote—“girl” to send sexually provocative pictures via her new Web cam. What Brian Doyle didn‘t know at the time is he wasn‘t talking to a 14-year-old girl, but instead to an undercover detective who had posted a profile on an AOL chat room. Doyle allegedly identified himself as the department‘s deputy press secretary during his first conversation with her on March 12.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF GRADY JUDD, POLK COUNTY, FL: He graphically explained to a 14-year-old girl what he would like to do to her, and what he would like her to do to him. And he offered to train her, to coach her, to teach her. What shocked us was he didn‘t hesitate upon the first conversation to identify himself as a deputy secretary for Homeland Security. He was certainly waiting for her to send the first photograph in a compromising position.
But what did shock us is he sent a photograph of himself and ostensibly his colleagues, which we‘re in the process of identifying. During the initial conversations, he e-mailed photographs of himself with his DHS security tag clearly visible. As the investigation went on, he sent her 16 movie clips of pornography. During those 16 movie clips, as he would download them for her, then he would describe to her or ask her if she would engage in that kind of sexual conduct with him. The detective posing as the 14-year-old said I have access to a Web cam and mom is gone tonight, so he was eager to rush home from work and that‘s why we found him on the computer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Joining me now on the phone, Jerry Hill, the state attorney for the 10th Judicial District in Florida who is handling the case. Thanks very much for coming on the program. Appreciate it. All right, so it sounds like this entire investigation went pretty quickly.
JERRY HILL, STATE ATTORNEY, 10TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT, FL (via phone):
Well it did go quickly. There was some sense of urgency given the position of this particular individual and for that reason no time was wasted.
ABRAMS: When you say based on the position of this individual, you knew from very early on, this guy works for the Department of Homeland Security.
HILL: Well, we knew that that was what he was saying, and it didn‘t take very long to verify that, so yes, we knew that early in the investigation.
ABRAMS: Did you have to contact the Department of Homeland Security before any arrest was made while the investigation was ongoing?
HILL: Well I can tell you that they were contacted. Again, given the totality of this situation, or what could be occurring, it felt—or it was only appropriate to put them in the loop and make them aware of this issue.
ABRAMS: I want to play this piece of sound from Grady Judd, the county sheriff...
ABRAMS: ... I‘ll ask you a question about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDD: I read the transcripts, which is not something that I normally do, but I wanted to see if this was just as outrageous as the detectives depicted it, because it was so shocking, and so outrageous, and so without caution that it shocked all of us who have worked vice narcotics, organized crime, homicides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Mr. Hill, do you know why it outraged and shocked the sheriff so much?
HILL: Well, you know, the sheriff has been in this business for a long time. You know, why he feels that way, I wouldn‘t know, other than this was just incredibly abusive behavior on the part of this 55-year-old man talking to what he believed to be was a 14-year-old girl. It was way out.
ABRAMS: What kind of charges is he facing?
HILL: Well, 23 charges have currently been filed against him, seven of those have to do with using a computer to seduce a child and 16 charges have to do with the transmission of harmful material to a minor. Each one of those accounts is what we call an F3. It‘s a felony, punishable by a maximum five years in the Florida state prison system.
ABRAMS: Was he using his Department of Homeland Security computer, phone, et cetera, to engage in this?
HILL: Well, he was using his computer at his home. I currently have no reason to believe that he was using his office computer. The phone situation is a little different. And we‘ll get that all pinned down, but he made and received phone calls from his office and certainly from his cell phone, which may have been issued by the federal government.
ABRAMS: State attorney Jerry Hill, thank you very much for taking the time.
HILL: Most happy to do it.
ABRAMS: Coming up, did a wealthy real estate mogul hire someone to kill him just so his family could get insurance money? Details and the questions after the break.
And later, a boy lured into online porn, he testified before a congressional committee yesterday. His story, tragic, almost unbelievable, so why did it seem that at times there were very few congressmen there to hear it? My “Closing Argument”.
Your e-mails email@example.com. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: Coming up, a wealthy real estate developer found stabbed and bound in his home. The question, was it revenge or could someone have been hired to do it so his family could get millions from his life insurance?
ABRAMS: Police are investigating the murder of Andrew Kissel, a real estate developer who was supposed to plead guilty this week to frauds totaling $24 million. He was likely going to spend at least the next 10 years in prison. Monday morning, Kissel was found dead in his basement lying in a pool of blood, his hands and legs tied behind him, multiple stab wounds and his shirt pulled over his head. It appears Kissel may have known his killer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF JAMES WALTERS, GREENWICH, CT POLICE DEPT.: The manner and the way in which this was carried out gives us a level of comfort in stating that it was Mr. Kissel that was the intended victim. There was no robbery. There was no burglary. There was no forced entrance to the residence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Now some reports are suggesting that authorities are looking into whether Kissel might have hired a hit man himself. He‘s facing a number of lawsuits from creditors, despite a lengthy prison sentence and the millions from his life insurance policy could go to his kids without having to worry about creditors raiding his estate. The police would not have the same payout if Kissel committed suicide. This isn‘t the first time Kissel‘s family has dealt with murder. His brother, Robert Kissel, was murdered in 2003 when his wife served him a drug-laced milkshake and then beat him with a statue.
Joining me now 1010 WINS Radio news reporter Carol D‘Auria, Andrew Kissel‘s attorney, Philip Russell, and forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz. Thanks to all of you for coming on the program.
All right. Philip Russell, what do you make of these reports that the authorities are looking into the possibility that he could have hired a hit man himself?
PHILIP RUSSELL, ATTORNEY FOR ANDREW KISSEL: Dan, this murder is an absolute mystery, and as far as I know, all of these theories are just speculation. I don‘t know that the police have any solid leads and I don‘t know that there are a lot of facts that would support this theory that it was I guess a suicide by proxy. I just haven‘t seen anything to support it. I‘d be surprised if it was accurate, but I know it‘s selling newspapers.
ABRAMS: Well, Carol D‘Auria, I mean it‘s not completely random, right, in the sense that the theory is not completely random. They are basing it on certain facts.
CAROL D‘AURIA, 1010 WINS NEWS RADIO: Well, one would hope that they‘re basing it on some facts. We know that he had angered a lot of people, he deceived a lot of people, and what really was going on in his mind is not clear. He was due in court this week. In fact, he was due in court tomorrow and we‘re told he was going to be pleading guilty to federal fraud charges. Could he have hired a hit man? I mean anything is possible. I did speak with Greenwich police today and they absolutely wouldn‘t comment on it. On the surface, it does seem a little farfetched.
ABRAMS: How much time, Philip, would he have faced do you think after pleading guilty?
RUSSELL: Again, a lot of it is speculation because it didn‘t happen, but certainly it was going to be a lengthy prison sentence, probably more than five years.
ABRAMS: All right. Dr. Spitz, based on the physical evidence at the scene, would they be able to assess, for example, whether he was bound before or after he was killed?
DR. WERNER SPITZ, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Well, you know, in a situation such as this, whether he wanted to be killed or not, really makes little difference as far as manifestations where he would try to get out of any binding or handcuffs or anything like that. He would still, because of an instinct of survival, try to push out, work his wrists out of whatever would—may have been holding him such that there would be hemorrhage under the skin.
It‘s the hemorrhage under the skin that indicates that the blood circulation was active and efficient. So that when he tries to work his way out of any handcuffs or any bindings, he would rub the skin against these bindings, and there would be hemorrhage underneath. You would never be able to use that in my view as evidence that he was voluntarily bound or not voluntarily.
ABRAMS: And also, I mean—and again, I know we‘re engaging in speculation here, but it would be unlikely that if he was going to hire someone to kill him that he would come over and stab me to death, right?
SPITZ: Well, it‘s kind of a little peculiar, but then cases like that are peculiar invariably. I mean if we look at people who died during auto erotic situations, they use all kind of very strange scenarios, and this—
I‘m not suggesting that this is anything that may be sex related...
SPITZ: ... but you know the imagination of the human mind is big. So he could have easily asked for somebody to do it so that he would have the best of both worlds, where he would be killed, because he cannot confront sitting in jail for many years, and at the same time, giving his family a lot of money.
ABRAMS: Mr. Russell, what was his relationship with his wife?
RUSSELL: They had been living together. They were going through a divorce, but they were getting along, given the stress of the situation. I just—I know that other—you know, I just don‘t know that there was anything unusual about their relationship.
ABRAMS: Carol D‘Auria, this other murder back in 2003 is bizarre. I mean the fact that his brother was killed by his wife, who is now serving a life term for lacing his milkshake with, you know, effectively drugs to kill him, does that have any connection or does anyone suspect that‘s in any way connected to this?
D‘AURIA: Well, again, Greenwich police when we asked those questions, if any of the legal problems or past family problems with his late brother Robert, if any of that might be connected, they really wouldn‘t comment on it. It would appear that they are two separate cases, because in the case of Robert Kissel, the brother, who was killed—he was killed by his wife. Apparently there had been some marital problems. He was killed by the wife. She is now in prison and doing time, so it would appear to have been unrelated and although certainly Andrew Kissel‘s financial problems and legal problems were already brewing by the time his brother was killed.
ABRAMS: Philip Russell, you‘ve obviously gotten to know his legal troubles pretty well, because you were representing him and he was going to go in and plead guilty. Do you have any theories, whether you want to tell us who they are a separate question, but do you have any personal theories as to who you think may have done this based on what you knew?
RUSSELL: Dan, I don‘t have any theories. I haven‘t heard any theories that are in my mind even plausible. I don‘t know that there are any known suspects. The only thing that really narrows this down at all is that we noted there was not forced entry, which tells us that Andrew Kissel knew the person that killed him.
ABRAMS: And there were a lot...
RUSSELL: What that means...
ABRAMS: There were a lot of people who didn‘t like him, right?
RUSSELL: There were a lot of people that were unhappy with him. There aren‘t too many that I came into contact with that I ever thought would kill him. But what I‘m saying is there are so many people that anyone in a busy business life will come into contact with and if he knew the person, he let them in...
ABRAMS: Yes, particularly when you‘re ripping them off though, I mean right?
RUSSELL: It‘s such a big constellation of people and then to find among those people who might have been a killer.
RUSSELL: He took money from a great many people. There were investors. There were banks.
ABRAMS: Yes. All right.
RUSSELL: There were lenders. Who knows?
ABRAMS: All right. Carol D‘Auria, Philip Russell, Werner Spitz, thanks a lot.
SPITZ: You‘re welcome.
D‘AURIA: You‘re welcome.
ABRAMS: Coming up, yesterday we played for you powerful testimony from a young man who had been lured into online child porn when he was just 13. Congressional leaders called him to testify. So why were so many of them absent when he was talking? It may be an ongoing theme in Congress. It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—how would you feel if I told you that your tax dollars were paying $162,500 a year to a federal employee who only reports to the office one out of every four days and that these men and women—quote—“of the people” are not toiling away at some obscure federal agency? I‘m talking about the U.S. Congress on track to set a modern record for working the fewest days. Not since 1948, what became known as the do nothing Congress have the members worked so little, back when they worked only 108 days and yet it seems the current Congress is on track to do less than that.
At its current pace, they will only have been in session 97 days this year. In fact, House members worked only 87 hours during the month of March. Less than many people work in a week. That of course included time off for St. Patrick‘s Day recess. Think about that, a St. Patrick‘s Day recess. Since when do any of us get to take off work for St. Patrick‘s Day? And they are taking the next two weeks off for Easter and Passover and then another week in May for Memorial Day and then the entire month of August, et cetera, et cetera. A Dartmouth College government professor explained it this way.
The members may in the long run decide it‘s better to do nothing than cast votes that may make them look bad, so being unproductive isn‘t always bad. And yet they still get a raise this year, an additional $3,100. Yesterday I was watching the disturbing testimony of 19-year-old Justin Berry talking about how he was lured into Internet porn as a child and he highlighted that almost none of the men who violated him had been prosecuted. When the camera panned around to show the subcommittee on oversights and investigation, it became clear that a lot of the members weren‘t there.
Now it‘s true, members pop in and out of hearings, but for this type of high profile and important event, you would think they would at least try to make it look like they‘re all paying close attention. We have been hearing a lot of members do a lot of complaining as of late about political witch-hunts and accusations that the other party is stalling on legislation. I would think that stalling would at least mean working. It‘s time for them to get to work.
Coming up, speaking of congressional complaining, many of you still writing in about Congresswoman McKinney and her scuffle with the Capitol police. You are not buying the racial profiling defense. Your e-mails are next.
ABRAMS: I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney accused of hitting that Capitol Hill policeman after he says he asked her three times to show her I.D. before entering a House building. She wasn‘t wearing her identifying lapel pin. She insists the officer should have recognized her and that it must have been racial profiling. I said that‘s still no excuse to hit a police officer.
Almost all of you agreed including Pat Fitzgerald in Wilmington, North Carolina, “If I hit a cop, I would serve three months even with a clean record.”
From Clearwater, Florida, Joshua Brauwerman, “You‘re right Dan.
Bottom line is you never hit an officer, period.”
And retired Reverend Charles Stanley in Hertford, North Carolina. “When in my late teens and early twenties I repeatedly subjected myself to police batons, vicious dogs and fire hoses to ensure the empowerment of every American. I did not ever expect to see an empowered bigot wield that power to so blatantly abuse the very law she is sworn to uphold and defend. It utterly undermines everything we fought for.”
Finally, Jose in Brighton, Massachusetts, “I don‘t know which is bigger, Representative McKinney‘s ego or the chip on her shoulder. What is it with the House of Representatives? It seems Tom DeLay is not the only hammer in the House. Different party, yes. Different attitude, no.”
“HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is up next. See you tomorrow.
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