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'The Abrams Report' for April 7

Read the transcript to the Friday show

Guest: Woody Vann, Leslie Crocker Snyder, Yale Galanter, Jacinta Green,

Stephanie Innes, Lynne Cadigan, Dave Altimari, Howard Graber, Clint Van

Zandt, Larry Kobilinsky, Katrina Szish

SUSAN FILAN, GUEST HOST:  Coming up, new details about the alleged victim in the Duke lacrosse team gang rape investigation.  It turns out she has a criminal record, but should that even matter?

The program about justice starts now.  

Hi everyone, I'm Susan Filan.  Dan will be back on Monday. 

The alleged victim in the Duke gang rape investigation has a criminal record, but should that even matter?  Woody Vann, who represented the alleged victim in her prior case joins us now.  Hi, Woody.  Thanks for joining us.


FILAN:  So three years ago she had a run-in with the police.  She gave a lap dance to a taxi driver at a strip club.  She stole his car.  She led police on a high-speed chase and one of the police officers said she tried to run him over.  We know she was drunk at the time and she went to jail.  She was put on probation for two years and she paid restitution, so what do you think about this coming into the discussion now?

VANN:  I'm not surprised that it's come into the discussion, any competent defense attorney, in situations that involve allegations such as this, or not necessarily of this nature, but any assault, where there's a civilian witness making a claim is going to want to research the background of the accused to determine whether or not they have a criminal record as well as anything else...

FILAN:  OK, Woody...

VANN:  ... I'm not surprised that it's out. 

FILAN:  Fair enough, but you actually know this woman.  Now you've had an opportunity to get to know her, it was a couple of years ago, but what do you think about this conviction that she has in light of the claim that she's making now? 

VANN:  Well, I don't think it should...

FILAN:  Here's what she was charged with.  She was charged with larceny, speeding to elude, assault on a government official, and driving while impaired and those are actually the four misdemeanors that she pled guilty to and went to jail for, is that right? 

VANN:  That's correct.  She served six days in jail and then was placed on 24 months probation and was ordered to pay restitution, and she completed the six days in jail, completed the probation without incident, and paid her restitution exactly as she was ordered to do by the court.  She fully complied. 

FILAN:  And obviously, we're not going to mention her name and I certainly don't want you to give us, you know, any way of identifying her, we want to keep that safe and protected, but what's she like? 

VANN:  She is just a nice—she was a nice person.  She'd had prior to that incident, no criminal record, no driving record.  She had worked a full-time job at a local industry.  She had two kids.  She came from—she had come from a good home.  This incident happened and she regretted it.  She—we entered into a plea agreement with the district attorney that avoided any felony charges and she accepted her punishment and went about her life and my contact with her has been minimal since then, as it should be. 

But I found her to be totally credible, totally believable.  The information she gave me concerning this incident back in 2002 was essentially consistent with a great deal of the police reports and that sometimes is not always the case. 

FILAN:  Exactly.

VANN:  So I found her to be very credible. 

FILAN:  Exactly.  We often find it's real hard to listen to what the client says and then read the police report because you're in two different worlds.  So do you believe her based on you know her?

VANN:  From my—yes, from my contact with her I have no reason to think she's been given anything other than a credible report.  She is—she was believable.  She—her—yes, she gave me no reason then to disbelieve her.  She gives me no reason to disbelieve her now.  My interactions with her have always been that if she did something, she would admit it.  If she didn't do something, she would tell you so...

FILAN:  Fair enough.

VANN:  ... and I have no reason to think anything other than that. 

FILAN:  The defense lawyers you know, Woody, in this case are saying that this is just completely made up.  They're not even saying if there was sex, it was consensual.  They're saying nothing happened at all.  There was no sexual contact, and this is just a completely made-up story.  What do you say to that?

VANN:  Well this is—I say this is quite a story to make up.  It isn't that she said I got beat up or somebody stole my phone or someone, you know, has cheated me out of money.  We are talking about making allegations of the most serious and egregious type, not just for the lacrosse players, but for herself.  She would have had to subject herself to very invasive...

FILAN:  Right.

VANN:  ... you know, medical exams, and questioning.

FILAN:  Right.

VANN:  This is not a fun process for anyone to go through.  It is quite serious and quite devastating...

FILAN:  That's an understatement.  Let me ask you one last question, Woody, real quick.  Do you think she's going to be able to withstand what's coming to her if charges are filed and if this actually goes to trial and you know the process of cross-examine is going to be brutal.  Do you think she can take it?

VANN:  I think she can.  She—again, she's got a good family.  She unfortunately has been through the process, so she knows what to expect.  I am sure that Mr. Nifong or whoever in his office or in that office ends up prosecuting the case, if it goes that far, will do a good job in preparing her...

FILAN:  Right.

VANN:  ... and again, she has a support network that she can lean on. 

FILAN:  Thank you so much, Woody.  You are giving us the very first insight into her that we've had yet in this investigation, so thank you so much for joining us. 

VANN:  You're quite welcome, Susan. 

FILAN:  The question now, should we be discussing her criminal record at all?  It's irrelevant to the investigation.  As to whether this happened or not, what happened to her in the past makes absolutely no difference, but it will become relevant if this does go to trial. 

Joining me now is former New York Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder.  Hi, Leslie.


FILAN:  Great. 

SNYDER:  Good.

FILAN:  Thanks for joining us.  And criminal defense attorney back with us again today, Yale Galanter.  Thanks, Yale, for coming back. 


FILAN:  Let me start with you Judge Snyder.  Now if this goes to court, it's going to come in and I want you to explain that to our viewers, but would you agree that as an investigation, it's irrelevant, it doesn't matter at this point and in fact, we shouldn't even be talking about it yet. 

SNYDER:  Well I think it's really interesting and sad that right away in any kind of sexual assault case you immediately have the defense trying to find anything out that they can, which is perfectly legitimate, and then trying to smear the victim.  Blame the victim is a traditional tactic from the time I first started trying sex crimes years and years ago and we had to change the laws.  They were so rigorously against the victim and here we are in exactly the same situation. 

Obviously, the defense is entitled to know the victim's background and if she takes the stand as a witness, her criminal record, like any witnesses, comes in as to her credibility or believability.  But whether she was raped, or not, is something the police investigation should determine based on whether it's scientific evidence like DNA, medical evidence of her examination.  It has nothing to do with whether she was drunk and went joy riding in a car.

FILAN:  Exactly.  That's exactly right.  And Judge, can you explain for our viewers, there's really a difference when and if this ever comes to court and she's cross-examined.  If she has a prior record and they're misdemeanors and they go to her voracity, in other words, a crime that has to do with whether she's telling the truth, that's fair ground for cross-examine, but under rape shield law, they wouldn't be able to get into her past the way that they are now and I want to make that distinction clear.  Can you help us out with that?

SNYDER:  Sure.  Absolutely.  Well as I said, any witness can be cross-examined about prior bad acts and criminal record.  Of course, a criminal conviction is obviously a prior bad act.  That always comes in, except sometimes of course when cross-examining a defendant, there are applications, I won't go into technical detail, which limit what you can ask about.  That's really not true of witnesses per se.  But I think that answers that portion of your question.  What was the other portion, Susan?  I'm sorry.

FILAN:  No, Judge, I think you hit it right on the head.  Yale, I just want to ask you.  I bet you you're sitting pretty today, you're happy as a defense lawyer, you think (INAUDIBLE) told you, this woman is not credible.  Am I overstating your position or have I got you pretty fair and square? 

GALANTER:  Susan, you nailed it.  I woke up this morning with such a smile on my face because every day this case is just getting better and better for the defense.  Now you know the judge is absolutely right.  You cannot admit this evidence just to sully her reputation, but once she takes the stand, this jury is going to know that she's been convicted of these crimes in the past and that's going to go to her credibility and that, you know, that's what this case is about. 

You've got 47 people on one side who are going to say absolutely positively nothing occurred and then you're going to have this dancer coming in, saying, I was forcibly sexually assaulted and her credibility is definitely the key issue in this case and the defense is going to go at her and this is...

SNYDER:  But Yale, you know what I think is interesting?  If I can interject, Susan...

FILAN:  Please do.

SNYDER:  It's amazing to me that the 46 people who had to give DNA have been able to keep this wall of silence so far.  It's kind of like the blue wall of silence, but it's the lacrosse wall of silence and you know if one person flips and starts talking or just starts talking, not necessarily cooperates with the government, but if one person and does and then might cooperate, the whole deck of cards, if there is anything there, could fall and that's going to be fascinating.  And I don't know what North—Yale, maybe you know what North Carolina's rape shield law is like.  I don't know how strong it is. 

GALANTER:  It's strong.  It's tough.  I mean the defense clearly cannot come in and say to her, how many sexual partners do you have?  Have you been married?  Have you had...

FILAN:  Exactly. 


FILAN:  Let's make that very clear to the viewers. 

GALANTER:  That stuff doesn't come in at all...

FILAN:  Let's make that—Yale, let's make that very clear to the viewers.  Under rape shield law, you can't attack a victim's credibility because of any prior sexual contact she's had.  The reason she could possibly be impeached at trial here is because it's a criminal conviction that goes to veracity.


FILAN:  Yale, I think...

GALANTER:  The truth is under the rape shield law the fact that she's an exotic dancer may not even come in...

SNYDER:  Well I think...

GALANTER:  ... because that goes...

SNYDER:  Yale, it's going to come in because that's part of the whole picture though.  I mean it won't come in...

GALANTER:  Well I'm telling you though.  If I'm the prosecutor, I'm going to argue as many motions in limine to keep her job and her profession out of this as I can. 


FILAN:  That's why you're not the prosecutor, Yale, because that would be a...


FILAN:  ... devastating tactic in this case...


GALANTER:  The defense is going to try and rip her apart on that. 

SNYDER:  Well the defense will rip her apart and I don't see how the prosecution frankly can keep it out because the entire picture here is her going there...

FILAN:  Exactly.

SNYDER:  ... to do an exotic...


FILAN:  Exactly.

SNYDER:  ... dance for money and I don't think they're going to portray her any differently.  The prosecution's job is to voir dire this jury and prepare this jury, if it ever goes to trial, so that they expect to see someone who is an exotic dancer and know that all these things about drunk driving and her being an exotic dancer don't take away...

FILAN:  Exactly.

SNYDER:  ... from other evidence—for example, the medical evidence could be powerful or it could be ambiguous, so Yale, we don't want that smile on your face you know...


FILAN:  And the prosecutor...


FILAN:  Yale, just one second.  The prosecutor's job here is a search for the truth, so the prosecutor is going to put out that she's a dancer.


FILAN:  The prosecutor is going to put out this criminal record.  We're not playing hide the ball like some defense lawyers do and we're not trying to spin this.  We're putting the fact out...

GALANTER:  Susan...

FILAN:  ... it's a search for the truth. 


FILAN:  And Yale, let me just say one last thing to you...


FILAN:  Yale...

GALANTER:  If you are and I are...

FILAN:  Let me just say one last thing to you...

GALANTER:  If you and I are prosecuting this case...

FILAN:  I love the way you call her a dancer.  The way you say a dancer and when you talk about the guys, you call them players. 


GALANTER:  Susan, the one comment I wanted to make, what Leslie said is 100 percent correct.  If you and I are prosecuting this case, what we're trying to do today is we're trying to get one of those 46 guys to flip and come in and give truthful testimony about what really occurred in that party.

FILAN:  And if you were their lawyer, you'd say guys, hang tough, hang tight.  None of you...

GALANTER:  I would tell them to stick—as long as they stick together, the shot of this case ever going to trial is slim to none. 

SNYDER:  Yes but 46 people.  Can you keep 46 people from talking?  It will be interesting to see.

GALANTER:  I'm just telling—you know what, these guys—you know, we've been discussing it all week—these guys lawyered up quick. 

FILAN:  I got to wrap. 

GALANTER:  The lawyers seem to be very consistent with what they're doing. 

FILAN:  I got to wrap.  Judge Snyder, Yale Galanter, thank you so much for coming back. 

GALANTER:  Thanks, Susan.

FILAN:  This was a lively debate. 

Coming up, one student is suspended in the Duke investigation after writing a threatening e-mail.  We've got an exclusive interview with one of his friends next. 

And the son of an Arizona State senator who violated 18 young boys with a broomstick may get no jail time at all thanks to a plea agreement.  We're going to talk to the victim's attorney when we come back. 

Plus, a real estate mogul who was murdered in one of the richest towns in America.  Could he have hired his own hit man? 

Your e-mails send them into us at  Remember to include your name, where you're writing from.  I'll respond at the end of the show.


FILAN:  Ryan McFadyen, a Duke lacrosse player, suspended after sending this e-mail just hours after an alleged gang rape.  Here's what he wrote.

Tomorrow night after tonight's show I've decided to have some strippers over to Eden's 2C.  All are welcome.  However, there will be no nudity.  I plan on killing the (EXPLETIVE) as soon as they walk in and proceeding to cut off their skin. 

One of Ryan's friends says she's shocked by the allegations.  Jacinta Green joins me now on the phone.  Hello, Jacinta.  How are you? 

JACINTA GREEN, FRIEND OF RYAN MCFADYEN (via phone):  Hi Susan.  I'm fine. 

FILAN:  Thank you very much for joining us.  Now, how do you know this young man?

GREEN:  Well I met him through my roommate from last year.  He was just hanging out in the hall and we started talking in November of my freshman year, I'm a sophomore right now. 

FILAN:  And are you friends with him? 

GREEN:  Yes, I am.

FILAN:  And do you know other members of the lacrosse team?

GREEN:  I know one member of the lacrosse team besides Ryan.

FILAN:  And have you talked to Ryan about the allegations of that night, the alleged gang rape at that party? 

GREEN:  Well, when the allegations first exploded on to Duke's campus on a Monday, I saw him in one of the eateries, and I confronted him and I was clearly upset, because this event is—the alleged events are just deplorable and I asked him, I was like did you have anything to do with this? 

Would you ever defend me if something like this happened to me or do you condone racism and all this other—all these other things and he was clearly upset that I would not believe him, or believe his words, but he comforted me and I was like, you better not have anything to do with this...

FILAN:  And when you say you believed his word, what did he say to you?  What did he tell you?

GREEN:  He said I had nothing to do with this.  We didn't do anything, and I was like, I don't know your teammates, but I know you, so—and I know your character, I know what kind person you are, so I don't—I believed him. 

FILAN:  Jacinta, does he say he was at that party?

GREEN:  I didn't ask him that.

FILAN:  Well, when he says I had nothing to do with this, is he saying basically something happened but I didn't have anything to do with it? 

GREEN:  I think he was talking about all—well, when he was speaking about himself, he was also speaking about his teammates.  And he said they didn't do anything.  I mean, I don't know about his teammates, I don't know them personally, but I was only listening to Ryan. 

FILAN:  Have you ever been to parties at that house before? 

GREEN:  Absolutely not. 

FILAN:  Have you ever heard about the kind of parties they throw at that house?

GREEN:  Well, I mean, of course you hear things, but we run in different circles.

FILAN:  What's the reputation of that house, those guys, their parties?

GREEN:  Well, there's a lot of community outrage at the actions of the people that live there.  I mean it's just an ongoing like...

FILAN:  What's the problem?

GREEN:  Right.  Yes, I mean I—of course I've heard of the parties, you hear stories, but I've never been to...

FILAN:  But Jacinta, what's the problem?  When people say they're deplorable, these guys and their parties and what they're like and what they do, what's the problem with these guys?  Are they just rowdy and wild?  Are they disrespectful to women...


GREEN:  ... utter lack of reef expect for the surrounding neighbors, they're loud parties.  There's urinations on the—on different properties, just you know, just not adhering to community standards.

FILAN:  What about this e-mail?  I mean do you think your friend could write something like this? 

GREEN:  I mean the Ryan I know is not the Ryan in that e-mail.  I am utterly disgusted with what he wrote.  It's deplorable.  I mean I'm sick to my stomach.  I can't read it anymore...

FILAN:  Right.

GREEN:  ... but the Ryan that is—the Ryan around me is just a big huge goof ball.  I mean I can't believe he wrote this.  I mean I know he wrote it, but I don't want to believe it. 

FILAN:  Exactly.

GREEN:  Because of the kind of person he is when he's around me. 

FILAN:  Makes him sound like a real sicko.  Have you ever seen him drinking or drunk? 

GREEN:  No.  I mean we don't run in the same circles and I choose not to hang around, like the people on the lacrosse team, so I have never seen him when he's drunk and I'm not around him when he's around other players, but when he's around me, you know, he gives me piggy back rides, he always has a hug for me, he always has a smile.  It's just very different from what I've read in the e-mail that he sent.  I don't even recognize him.

FILAN:  And is the reason you don't hang out with the lacrosse guys, because they're too wild, they're too rowdy, they're just—they're out of control? 

GREEN:  Honestly, Susan, I don't feel comfortable around people when they drink a lot. 

FILAN:  Right.

GREEN:  I mean this is just anybody.  But the lacrosse team as a whole does not have a reputation for being the most tolerant...

FILAN:  Right.

GREEN:  ... racially or sexually, so I mean, I can't speak for anybody else, but...

FILAN:  Right.  Jacinta...


FILAN:  ... let me just ask you one last question.  Do you still feel safe at Duke or has this changed the way you feel there?

GREEN:  I mean I definitely feel that I was very naive to think that everybody on this campus is intelligent, so of course they'd adhere to community standards, like human standards, but I mean (INAUDIBLE) and it opens your eyes. 

FILAN:  Yes.  It's a tough lesson to learn.  Hey, Jacinta, thanks very much for joining us. 


FILAN:  We really appreciate it. 

Moving on now to Arizona, where victims' family members say a state senator's son is getting special treatment after he assaulted 18 boys at a camp.  The prosecutors proved that the boys were held down in an act called brooming.  In this case brooming means forcing a broomstick into the anal area of a clothed boy.  Well, who are these assailants, 19-year-old Kyle Wheeler and now 18-year-old Clifton Bennett. 

Bennett is the son of the Arizona State Senate president, but they pled guilty to these crimes because of what looks like a sweetheart plea deal.  Bennett agreed to plead guilty to just one count of aggravated assault.  Wheeler pled guilty to two counts. 

Lynne Cadigan is an attorney who's representing three of the brooming victims.  She joins us now.  And Stephanie Innes is a reporter with the “Arizona Daily Star”. 

Stephanie, let me start with you.  Do you know why the prosecutors agreed to make this deal and what are the clients telling you about that deal? 

STEPHANIE INNES, “ARIZONA DAILY STAR” REPORTER:  Well, the one thing that strikes me about this case is that I have tried to talk to the prosecutor's office since February when I first learned about this deal, and I never heard from the prosecutors until this week, so I don't know why they did this deal.  I can't answer that question.  The prosecutor's office this week did issue a statement saying that this was hazing, and not sexual in nature and that's why she charged it as aggravated assault, but other than that, I have not heard anything from their office.

FILAN:  Let me go back to the lawyer representing the victims now. 

Are your clients outraged by this?

LYNNE CADIGAN, “BROOMING” VICTIMS ATTORNEY:  The families are all outraged, not just my clients, all 18 families are outraged, because clearly this was sexual humiliation, not just hazing, and they're terribly afraid that this Bennett is going to go on and get to be a teacher or a counselor and who knows what other position of authority he could have over children.

FILAN:  Lynne, I'm going to put up a quote from the prosecutor.  I'm going to read it and I'm going to ask you to respond to it if you would please.

There's absolutely no evidence that this was done with a sexual motivation.  No penetration occurred either in the anus or the rectum.  The victims weren't secreted away to a hiding spot while this was done to them.  It was done in front of other campers.  In fact several photographs were taken by other campers.

What do you think about the prosecutor making that kind of a remark? 

CADIGAN:  Frankly, in the 22 years I have done sex abuse cases, it's ridiculous.  If you have a woman in the bar and they don't secret the woman away in a bar and they sexually humiliate here by pulling up her shirt and touching her breasts or pushing things up against her anus, that's sex abuse. 

FILAN:  Do you care whether the boys were clothed or not clothed in terms of whether the prosecutor could prove sexual assault both in terms of intent and penetration?

CADIGAN:  It makes absolutely no difference if they were clothed or not.  What the intent refers to is if you're bathing your child and you touch your child when you're washing your child, you're allowed to say it was the intent to wash, not to be sexual.  But if you have intent to humiliate, that's the same thing.

FILAN:  Lynne, I want to play another quote for you.  I'm going to read it again and I'm going to ask you to respond to this.  This is from one of the moms of one of the victims. 

She says our biggest concern is that these kids are going to do it again.  My son had something shoved up his butt seven or eight times.  If that's not sexual assault, what is?

So here are the kids' own parents saying this is outrageous, to not charge them appropriately, so not only are they not charged with the crime that they're alleged to have committed, they're not going to get punished at all under this plea deal.  My understanding is it's up to the judge when he accepts—does the sentencing, whether it's going to be a misdemeanor or a felony or unclassified.

They can get five days in jail, no days in jail.  I suppose in theory, they could get up to two years, but under the terms of the plea deal as I understand it, jail is really off the table in this case.  Would you agree with that? 

CADIGAN:  It's unfortunate.  What happened is the attorney for the senator's son sent a letter saying he needs to go on his Mormon mission and if it's classified as a felony, he can't go on his mission to I guess teach children about Christ.  And it's shocking that they would even consider no jail time for this kind of sex offense. 

FILAN:  Do you think it's that he's a Mormon or that his dad is a senator that this—what I would call a sweetheart deal was offered? 

CADIGAN:  Well, it's everything.  The LDS Church is very powerful in Arizona.  Bennett is a very powerful and wealthy member of it.  He's also the senator.  He's also president of the Senate.  When you have a small state like Arizona and a small town like Prescott, you get the justice that rich, influential and connected people get and that's exactly what happened.  This is not justice.  This is...

FILAN:  Let me turn to Stephanie.  Stephanie, I just want to be very clear to our viewers.  What we're talking about is two boys, 17 at the time and 19, who shoved broom sticks into 18 boys, ages 11 to 14, numerous occasions, to punish them for doing things in the cabin that they thought they shouldn't do, very, very, minor things.

These boys were traumatized.  Their parents are outraged.  They're upset.  They're each pleading guilty to just one count.  They're probably not going to jail and they're probably going to be just misdemeanors.  What is the sentiment in the community?  Are people outraged? 

INNES:  Yes, I think that's what stands out about this case is the level of public outrage.  I spoke with Ken Bennett's secretary this morning.  She's been inundated.  The Attorney General's Office has been inundated, although they have no jurisdiction in this case, and Attorney General Terry Goddard actually wrote that he does have questions about the charges in this case, or the prosecution of the case.  The level of outrage obviously has reached the Yavapai County attorney's office in Prescott, which also has been inundated, which is why they've put the police reports on their Web site...

FILAN:  Right.  Right.

INNES:  ... so it's a very high level of public outrage. 

FILAN:  But I think if people go to the Web site and read those police reports themselves, they're going to be outraged too at the way this case was pled out, the charges, and the punishment because it doesn't seem right.  Lynne Cadigan, Stephanie Innes, thank you so much for joining us. 

CADIGAN:  Thank you, Susan.

INNES:  Thank you.

FILAN:  Coming up, a real estate mogul was bound and stabbed to death in his home, but it doesn't look like he fought back at all, so now the police are looking into whether he arranged for his own murder.



FILAN:  It reads like a best selling thriller.  Did a wealthy businessman who was stabbed to death in his Greenwich, Connecticut, mansion, hire his own murderer so his family could get $15,000,000 worth of life insurance?  Forty-six-year-old Andrew Kissel was found dead three days before he was going to plead guilty in federal court to real estate fraud. 

What were the charges?  Well, he stole millions and millions of dollars.  He was buried today in New Jersey, next to the body of his younger brother Robert.  Robert was murdered by his own wife in 2003.  She was convicted of poisoning his milkshake and then bludgeoning him to death. 

Andrew's estranged wife Hayley Wolff Kissel, she wasn't at the funeral today.  She was asked to stay away and honored that request.  Hayley and Andrew were heard fighting last Saturday, the day before police believe Andrew was stabbed to death.  His body was rolled into a carpet and stored in the basement. 

Well for now the police don't seem to have a suspect in his murder.  But joining us now with the latest, Dave Altimari, who is a reporter for the “Hartford Courant”.  Thanks for joining us, Dave.


FILAN:  So, what's the latest in the investigation today?  Do the police really think he might have something to do with planning and plotting his own murder?

ALTIMARI:  It's one of several theories that they're still looking at.  This is a very long-term investigation.  The reason this came up is because a few days before the murder, a friend of Mr. Kissel has told the police he had a conversation with him in which Andrew Kissel said that he wanted to kill himself but he couldn't bring himself to do it and he was considering hiring someone to do it for him.

FILAN:  Dave, is anybody taking this seriously?  I mean is this just crazy speculation because his friend suggested it, but I mean does anybody really think this could be true?

ALTIMARI:  Well they—the crime scene leaves several questions itself as well.  It doesn't appear to have been a struggle.  There was no blood found anywhere in the house except in the basement where he was killed, so there was no signs that there was any struggle anywhere else.  There were no defensive wounds on his hands or on his face, indicating that he fought. 

The likelihood is he knew his killer or killers, because they—the house had a gate in front as well as a locked front door, so he either had to let them in or they had access on their own.  So there's a lot of questions about how this all took place that he ended up handcuffed in his basement, stabbed four or five times in the back.

FILAN:  Dave, what are the other theories that police are pursuing besides this...


FILAN:  ... what I think is kind of a whacky one? 

ALTIMARI:  They're also going to—they've also started interviewing anybody who had any dealings with him, as far as may have lost money...

FILAN:  Well that's a huge group of people, isn't it? 

ALTIMARI:  Well, there are many, but not as many as you would think, because several of the—of his victims were banks or lending institutions.  What he was doing was basically forging mortgages...

FILAN:  Right.

ALTIMARI:  ... and then taking out other mortgages on top of those forged mortgages.

FILAN:  But it is a large group of people that got bilked out of an awful lot of money.  Thank you very much, Dave, for joining us. 

Coming into the debate now is Andrew Kissel's divorce attorney Howard Graber.  Hi, Howard.  How are you?


FILAN:  We've got former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt.


FILAN:  Hey, Clint.  And we've got John Jay College forensics expert Larry Kobilinsky.  Howard, let me start with you.  You represented this man in his divorce that was pending in court...

GRABER:  Correct.

FILAN:  ... and you've heard the “Hartford Courant's” theory that the police are looking into this as possibly a murder for hire because he didn't want to go to jail or whatever.  Can you shed some light on this?  Because I think it's pretty far out.

GRABER:  Well, as an attorney, Susan, which we both are, I've been arguing with this in my own head from both ways.  When Mr. Kissel first came to my office, the reason the divorce had escalated is because he had filed a motion for alimony and he seemed genuinely in fear as to how he would support himself once he vacated the residence on March 31.

FILAN:  He was going to go to jail.  I mean that wasn't going to be...

GRABER:  Well, there was going to be a few weeks in between, but the thing that surprised me and I've been thinking about this since the story broke in “The Courant” was that the motion for alimony was never followed up upon by the lawyer who filed it, my predecessor, and it was never addressed again in my office, so it seemed like the concern had somehow disappeared.

FILAN:  OK.  So you're saying because he didn't follow up on that motion, maybe he never really intended to get the money from his ex-wife because he knew he was going to be dead soon.  Do you have anything else that makes you think that maybe he was behind his own murder or do you kind of think that having met him a couple of times he would do it.

GRABER:  I don't think he was behind his own murder.

FILAN:  You don't.  OK.  Let me go to Clint.  Clint, I know that you've come across a lot of whacky things in your day.

VAN ZANDT:  A lot of whacky things, Susan. 

FILAN:  And this to me seems to be one of them, but can you in your profiler hat think of any reason why this theory is not so farfetched? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well, number one motive, $15 million, the question is does he really think his two daughters needed that.  I mean his wife has been outspoken about how much money she makes, so you know, a murder for hire, you know, anyone could have hired this, but suicide by proxy, I tell—you know, if he wanted to look like he had been killed, you could find somebody with a gun who would put two bullets in your head and it would probably be a lot less painful than being stabbed to death in the basement.

So you know, the stretch to me is why the knife?  I mean couldn't he afford a real good killer with a gun?  Did he have to get you know somebody with a hunting knife or a kitchen knife...

FILAN:  Do they charge extra for that? 

VAN ZANDT:  Yes.  Well, you know, instead of just two shots, it took four stab wounds or five stab wounds.  You know, unless—you know, now you're saying did he really want to punish himself or did he think if it looked more brutal—I mean two bullets in the head is a pretty brutal crime, as well as four knife wounds.  You know maybe Larry has seen other crimes like this, but when I've seen these type of hits before, you know, if somebody wants to hire a hit, you can hire—you can find somebody with a gun. 

FILAN:  Clint, real quick, if you do hire a hit man, do you get to tell them how you want to be killed or is it up to them? 

VAN ZANDT:  Well and it's interesting and I've seen cases where you can tell the hit man, I want this guy to really suffer, I want him to last for a while and be pained or I want it to be quick.  Go in there, take him out real fast...


VAN ZANDT:  ... get it over with and move on.  So...

FILAN:  So there's a little hit man menu.  Let me...

VAN ZANDT:  Whatever you're willing to pay for, Susan. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There is, Susan. 

FILAN:  Larry, let me go to you.  Because I want you to talk us through the forensics.  We've heard that there were no defensive wounds on the hands and we know that the hands were bound behind his back with that white plastic material that police sometimes use when they're doing large mass arrests.  What do you make based on what you know, and I know it's limited, but the forensic evidence, to support or defeat the theory that he had a hand in his own death? 

LARRY KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENCE EXPERT:  Yes.  I really agree with Clint, I don't think this is a professional hit, but it appears that since there was no sign of a break-in, that he knew his assailant or assailants. 


KOBILINSKY:  He came into the home, they took him down to the—he or they took him down to the basement.  They then restrained him and once you're restrained, hands behind your back and ankles tied, you can't have defensive wounds on your hands.

FILAN:  But Larry, wouldn't you expect to receive something, some kind of a struggle as he goes from upstairs down to the basement? 

KOBILINSKY:  Not necessarily. 

FILAN:  Why?

KOBILINSKY:  If there were more than one person, that could happen very easily. 


KOBILINSKY:  We can't make any assumptions on how many people were involved, but even more importantly, we know there are perhaps five or six stab wounds.  This was the kind of crime that took some time, it was painful.  Again, this is not the way professional hit men work.  They get in, they do their dirty deed, and they get out...

FILAN:  Larry, real quick, you're the forensic guy on this case now, what are you looking for, for evidence to solve this case? 

KOBILINSKY:  Well clearly we're looking to see if there's any obvious evidence where we can link a suspect to the victim or a suspect to the crime scene, and that would include trace evidence...


KOBILINSKY:  ... DNA and all sorts of other things of that sort. 

FILAN:  Howard Graber, Clint Van Zandt, Larry Kobilinsky, thanks so much for joining us. 


GRABER:  Thank you, Susan. 

FILAN:  Coming up, Paula Abdul says she was assaulted at a party last weekend and she says that she suffered from a concussion and back injuries, but it really doesn't look like she was in too much pain on “American Idol” this week.  We'll get all the latest details coming up. 

And later, should movie studios use the tragedy of 9-11 to release blockbuster movies and bring in big-ticket revenues?  It's my “Closing Argument”. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What's so funny about that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You have no idea how he double talks...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... all through the performance...



FILAN:  I don't know.  Paula Abdul sure seemed her usual self on “American Idol” this week, but who would have thought that just a few days before she was assaulted at a party.  She was apparently thrown against a wall and she says she suffered from a concussion and spinal injuries.  That's what she told police.

Joining us now is “Us Weekly” magazine, who broke this story.  The reporter is Katrina Szish and she joins me with the scoop.  Hello, Katrina.  Thanks for joining us.

KATRINA SZISH, “US WEEKLY” MAGAZINE:  Hi.  Thanks for having me.

FILAN:  So what is the story? 

SZISH:  The story is that there were witnesses and reportedly Paula got into a little scuffle with a former CAA agent in Hollywood and...

FILAN:  Little scuffle or thrown against a wall so she had gotten...


FILAN:  ... a concussion and spinal injury?

SZISH:  They got in an argument and then I guess before—they got into a little bit of an argument and then before this other gentleman was leaving, he supposedly walked past Paula and quote, unquote, “accidentally on purpose bumped into her” and actually sent her flying also on to the floor, so there are witnesses who do say this in fact happen. 

FILAN:  And how come she looked OK on “Idol” last week?  I mean wouldn't you expect somebody with a concussion and spinal injuries to look a little differently than she did? 

SZISH:  You would expect that, but then again, there were never any claims made to the extent of those injuries and you know, Paula is a trooper, she's a professional.

FILAN:  Do you think this is good publicity for her or bad publicity for her?

SZISH:  I think unfortunately, this is probably not great publicity.  I mean, of course, is there really anything you know that is actually considered bad press, but I think again, it's one of those instances, because we didn't see any obvious injuries, because we really haven't seen her seem to suffer from this, it does come across as being sort of one of those things you're like what are you talking about and I think that just doesn't look good.

FILAN:  Are the police really looking into this? 

SZISH:  The police are looking into this.  They won't release the name of the suspect, but they're definitely taking it seriously.

FILAN:  And tell me why you think this guy might have had some motive to accidentally on purpose shove her against a wall? 

SZISH:  Well, again, as I mentioned, Paula and her ex-boyfriend had both been speaking with this gentleman, they did get into a bit of an argument at this private party and I guess it did get quite heated, and so I think there had been a little bit of an argumentative history there during the night and I believe his—this gentleman's way of getting back at Paula was apparently to accidentally on purpose bump into her. 

FILAN:  Moral of the story, use your words, not your hands. 


FILAN:  Katrina Szish, thanks so much for joining us. 

SZISH:  Thank you.

FILAN:  Coming up, the controversy surrounding new movies that dramatize 9-11.  Let me tell you, if you don't like the idea, save your 10 bucks and don't go see them.  That's my “Closing Argument”. 

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike again.  This week we're in North Carolina.

Police are looking for Charles Martin.  He's 51 years old, five-eight, and weighs 142 pounds.  He's been charged with second-degree rape and he hasn't registered his address with the state.  If you've got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Forsyth County Sheriff at 336-727-2112.  We'll be right back.


FILAN:  My “Closing Argument”—should the tragedy of 9-11 be used as material for movie studios to release blockbusters and bring in big-ticket revenues?  It's a tough question.  I personally have a tough time even watching the video of the towers falling, so I probably won't be buying a ticket to a dramatic reenactment of 9-11.  But as the summer movie season approaches, there are a number of planned releases dramatizing the events of 9-11.  One movie, “United 93”, is already being previewed in movie theaters. 

A New York City Loews cinema pulled this preview from its theaters because moviegoers were complaining and many are shouting that it's too soon and it may be too soon for many people and those people like me don't need to spend $10.50 on a movie ticket to “United 93” or to “World Trade Center”, an Oliver Stone directed film due out in August or even to “On Native Soil”, a 9-11 documentary based on the 9-11 commission reports.

But movies, whether blockbuster or documentary are artistic expression and I believe studios should be able to release what they want when they want.  Should sensitivity be used?  Absolutely, the Loews theater owner should have pulled the trailer because here in New York City, sensitivities are clearly higher than in other cities and if certain studios decide not to show these movies, that's fine too.

But to criticize these studios for deciding to release these films goes too far.  Let them learn their own lessons.  If people aren't ready yet, the movies will bomb at the box office.  There's no better lesson for Hollywood than that.  Look, these are not the only movies that will be made about the 9-11 tragedy.  We're still making movies about World War II more than 60 years later and people are still going to see them.  This is a healthy debate to have, but those who oppose it should use their most powerful weapon, keep your $10.50 in your pocket and stay home. 

Coming up, your e-mails about the Duke lacrosse gang rape investigation.  We'll be right back. 


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

Kim Clemons asks, “Where was the other exotic dancer when the alleged rape happened?  Did something happen to her?”

Great question, Kim.  I've been wondering that myself.  I've read different versions of the account.  One, she went back inside and the two women were separated and two that she never went back inside.  I would love to know what she says happened that night. 

And from Tonja Prodehl, “As a black woman who went to a predominantly white college in the 1980's, it hurts my heart to listen to this debate.  I've experienced that level of sexual tension infused with subtle and blatant racism at campus parties.  Why is it so hard for someone to conceive?  If this woman were a young white college student accusing a black football player instead of an African American woman accusing an all-white lacrosse team, would there be such loud and annoying discussions about her status as a victim, not just as an accuser, of rape?”

I couldn't agree with you more and it's a real shame that we still have this problem in 2006. 

Send your e-mails to the abramsreport@ -- one word— 

We'll go through them and read them at the end of the show.

That does it for us.  Dan will be back here on Monday.  Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Have a great weekend.



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