Guests: David Davenport, Michael O‘Dell, Symmes W. Culbertson, Pam Bondi, Akim Anastopoulos, Jayne Weintraub, Dr. Daniel Spitz, Dr. N.G. Berrill, Kris Kobach, David Buckel, Henry Lee, Lionel Correa
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, they got him. A convicted sex offender busted for killing Clemson University student Tiffany Souers with a bikini top. He has just been in court on camera.
The program about justice starts now.
Hi everyone. First up on the docket, they caught him, the man believed to have strangled Clemson University student Tiffany Souers with a bikini top is now in custody and has just been arraigned. Thirty-five-year-old Jerry Buck Inman picked up last night in Tennessee a few hours after police announced warrants were issued for his arrest and that he was wanted.
His DNA matched the DNA profile of the killer. This isn‘t the first time Inman has been arrested for a sex crime. His DNA was on file. He has actually served 18 years of his life in prison, was just released from a Florida facility in September. He had served 16 years there for sexual battery, kidnapping, robbery with a deadly weapon, grand theft, among other charges in Florida, and for convictions in North Carolina. Police tracked him down just before midnight. He was in his car, apparently not far from his parents‘ home in Dandridge, Tennessee, about 160 miles from Clemson University.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID DAVENPORT, JEFFERSON COUNTY, TN SHERIFF: He went by where one of—the chief was sitting and driving the red Blazer. They pulled out behind him and stopped him about a mile from his parents‘ residence, took him into custody. He offered no resistance whatsoever. We, of course confiscated the vehicle he was in, told him what his charges were. I think he was aware that we were looking for him. He gave us that indication.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Now police believe Inman was working at the construction site near Tiffany‘s apartment. We‘re also learning that not only was Tiffany strangled, she was also found with her hands and feet bound together. Tiffany‘s mother spoke out today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BREN SOUERS, TIFFANY‘S MOTHER: I think she fought so desperately that she left a lot of clues. There was no way this man was going to go free. She was a strong girl that was going to make sure that he paid for this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Inman is accused of murder, rape and kidnapping in this case and a sheriff in DeKalb, Alabama is charging him for rape and burglary there in the days before Tiffany was killed. We just learned that and new charges could also come for an unsolved rape in Tennessee as well. This guy was bad, bad news.
NBC‘s Michelle Hofland is live in Pickens County, South Carolina where Inman is waiting to be processed and she joins us, as well as the sheriff. David Davenport joins us as well. Sheriff Davenport, thank you very much for taking the time to come on the program. Appreciate it. All right, if you can explain to us how you ended up catching him.
DAVENPORT (via phone): Well, of course we were working with South Carolina. They had called us and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and we staked out the two residences, the houses that he had been staying, one being his mother and stepfather, the other was his sister. And as fate would have it he showed back up and then drove by his mother‘s house about 11:45 last night.
Our deputy there recognized the vehicle, ran it down, stopped him, did a felony stop, put him in custody. The same deputy that stopped him is the chief of detectives, had registered him as a sex offender, so he knew who he was. And of course we were aware of the warrants.
It was a couple of TBI agents and one of our uniformed people and myself were involved in running him down. We brought him back to here, processed him, held him for South Carolina and this morning he waived extradition. After he waived extradition, we got some phone calls and were able to ascertain that Inman had been involved in other episodes leading up to the death of the young lady in South Carolina, one being in Alabama...
ABRAMS: Yes. We‘re going to talk to the D.A. there in a minute, but Sheriff, how—for how long have you known this is our guy? I mean you guys, the authorities...
DAVENPORT: We found out somewhere around 4:00, 4:30 yesterday afternoon.
ABRAMS: That you had a name and you‘re like we got—you said to yourselves we have to find Jerry Inman...
DAVENPORT: We have to find this guy. And of course when we found him, immediately we go out and start sitting on these places where we think he is going to be or come back to. And then we had other people going to places, bars that he was known to frequent and checking those places.
We checked some motels, some rest areas. But now he told us he was just out riding around, which he also told us that that was how he identified his victims, by riding around. That he had no contact with these victims, did not know any of them.
ABRAMS: So, Sheriff, so let me be clear. He‘s confessed?
DAVENPORT: He has made admissions. And without going into the content of those admissions, by these admissions we were able to find out about the crimes in Alabama and Sevierville, Tennessee.
ABRAMS: Now, you were able to identify who he was based on a DNA profile; his DNA had been taken when he was serving time on a previous charge. Was this as a result—this was a result, I assume, of DNA that he left at the crime scene, correct?
DAVENPORT: I‘m—this was the South Carolina—the outstanding police work through the South Carolina police agencies that they came up with the DNA match...
DAVENPORT: ... through the database that is maintained on sexual offenders and were able to match the DNA with this character who had got just got out of the penitentiary less than a year ago and had done 17 years in the penitentiary for similar crimes that he is accused of now. Not murder, of course...
DAVENPORT: ... but he had been involved in some sex offenses and also some, you know, armed robberies.
ABRAMS: Yes. We‘re going to have a little legal discussion after we leave you about how that happened. But let me ask you, when you arrested him, didn‘t put up a fight?
DAVENPORT: No. No. He had told us and thank God he didn‘t watch TV or listen to the radio or read the newspaper, because he told us had I known you all were after me or had been charged, I wouldn‘t be here. You all would still be looking for me.
I was—and I‘ve said this to other media outlets—I thought the press conference naming him as a suspect being charged was premature because we were at the time the press conference was held were looking for him, knew who it was, had some good solid leads on him, and had he heard that on the radio, saw it on the TV or read it in the newspaper, he wouldn‘t be here and we‘d still be looking for him. But he didn‘t...
DAVENPORT: ... and it worked out fine.
ABRAMS: Sheriff, some great police work here.
DAVENPORT: Well hey, listen, we appreciate the job that the media does.
And you know, we know...
ABRAMS: Everyone is glad he got caught.
DAVENPORT: ... very well intentioned and this is one character that needs off the streets. And I heard you describe him as bad. I think he is evil.
DAVENPORT: And you can for me tell the families of everybody that is involved that has had any contact with this guy that we‘re praying for them and hope the healing process starts.
ABRAMS: Yes. All right, Sheriff. Keep keeping us safe. Thanks a lot.
DAVENPORT: Good to see you my friend. Bye.
ABRAMS: Joining us now is Michael O‘Dell, DeKalb County, Alabama district attorney, where you just heard the sheriff say that they have linked Inman to a crime there. Mr. O‘Dell thank you for coming on the program. What is the crime that he is accused of there and when did it happen?
MICHAEL O‘DELL, DEKALB COUNTY, AL DISTRICT ATTORNEY (via phone): Well Mr. Inman is charged with actually four crimes here in DeKalb County, burglary first-degree, robbery first-degree, theft to property first-degree, and attempted rape first-degree in connection with a home invasion that took place in one of our small communities here on May 23 of this year.
ABRAMS: So four crimes, May 23 of this year and did you know this is the guy we‘re looking for? Meaning, before he was arrested in connection with this case?
O‘DELL: Actually we had no idea. The investigation interviewed about three or four different suspects that we believed might have been involved and had no idea about Mr. Inman until last night a friend of the victim, our victim -- 24-year-old victim she was watching TV, I think one of the cable news networks and saw Mr. Inman as he was being arrested and they showed his photograph on TV and she said that sure does sound—he looks a lot like the description that the victim had given her.
And so she called the victim, had the victim turn on her TV, take a look at the guy and immediately she called the Sheriff‘s Office here in DeKalb County and told them that she believed that was the individual that had attacked her.
ABRAMS: Wow. And I assume you are going to let the proceedings in South Carolina run their course first?
O‘DELL: Well actually we don‘t have any choice. We were watching on TV, in fact today they transported Mr. Inman back from Tennessee to South Carolina.
O‘DELL: But we certainly are willing to wait our turn and we are eager to get him back here for these offenses...
ABRAMS: Yes. Well, he may be coming back there in a coffin I think before he makes it back, but we shall see. Michael O‘Dell, thanks very much. We appreciate it.
O‘DELL: You‘re very welcome. Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, this guy has a huge rap sheet. All right, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison; he only served half of it. Now we hear he‘s accused of these other crimes. The question why was he out on the street?
And Susan Polk, remember her, on trial for killing her husband, representing herself in court, apparently not doing such a good job of it. Now she wants to call a psychic to the stand and get this, the judge let her do it.
Plus, the Senate falls short in an effort to pass a constitutional amendment banning any gay marriages anywhere in the country. Every one knew it was going to fail. Was the vote a wasted time? We debate.
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)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point in time we‘re not requesting a bond. My inclination is to think there would not be a bond granted at this point given the nature of the charges against him. So it may be a futile effort to ask for a bond hearing or any sort of bond right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: That is the lawyer representing the man police say raped and strangled a Clemson University student with a bikini top. This is a man with a long rap sheet in his past. And joining us now on the phone is Symmes Culbertson, who is representing Jerry Inman. Thank you for taking the time. We appreciate it.
So it sounds like you are not going to be asking for bond. We just had the sheriff on the program and he was telling us that your client has made admissions effectively confessing to the crime.
SYMMES CULBERTSON, JERRY INMAN‘S ATTORNEY (via phone): Well I don‘t know about that yet. I haven‘t seen any written confessions that he has given. I understand also that he made some sort of statement to the police, but I have yet to have that turned over to me.
ABRAMS: Have you gotten a chance to talk to your client?
CULBERTSON: Yes, I have.
ABRAMS: And obviously you can‘t tell us anything about what that conversation was about. But did he talk about any of the other charge...
CULBERTSON: I can tell you what we talked about.
CULBERTSON: We did not talk about any of the prior charges that he might have charged against him. He certainly did not talk in any sort of detail about the charges here in Pickens County. What we talked about was the welfare of his mother. His first question was how is his mother doing. Can I get in touch with his mother, can I see if she needs any help. OK.
ABRAMS: And what is the next legal move here?
CULBERTSON: There will be a bond hearing probably within the next week.
We‘ll be at the bond hearing, we‘ll see about (UNINTELLIGIBLE) bond set. That is the next court proceeding that‘s going to take place. There will be some information that should be turned over to me by the prosecutor‘s office. And once I get that and have a chance to review that, I can make a determination about what the next course of action is going to be.
ABRAMS: Let me ask you a question that some of our viewers wrote in and that is you are seen on the video there leaning in and touching him and talking to him. Do you ever—does it ever make it difficult for you to touch someone who is accused of something so serious?
ABRAMS: No second thoughts?
CULBERTSON: No second thoughts. Why should there be? I mean he‘s not convicted of anything. He‘s—at this point in the process he‘s an innocent man. And I‘m not opposed to touching him or anybody else for that matter. I‘ll shake anybody‘s hand. I‘ll pat anybody on the back and as far as I‘m concerned he falls in that same category.
ABRAMS: Yes. No, and that‘s what I expected. It‘s just we‘ve got a number of e-mails asking that question, so I figured I‘d...
CULBERTSON: Sure. I understand. Sure. I understand.
ABRAMS: ... throw it out to you. All right, thanks a lot for coming on the program. We appreciate it.
CULBERTSON: Not a problem.
ABRAMS: All right. We got a lot to talk about, about this case. And question number one is what was this guy doing out at all. Joining me now former South Carolina prosecutor, Akim Anastopoulos, assistant district attorney of Hillsborough County, Florida where Inman was once prosecuted, Pam Bondi, Florida, Florida criminal defense attorney Jayne Weintraub, and forensic pathologist Dr. Daniel Spitz. Thanks to all of you for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
All right. Pam, you‘ve looked into this case as much as you can. I mean look, he was charged with crimes in Florida, charged with crimes in North Carolina. We now found out he‘s charged with crimes in Alabama, suspect in a crime in Tennessee, serving time for very serious, serious crimes. How did he get out?
PAM BONDI, ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY, HILLSBOROUGH CTY., FL: Well, Dan, in Florida that was the first rape he was convicted of and that was—it was a horrible rape. In fact, he tied a girl up with a cord, had her roommate tie her up and then raped one of them. It was horrible, very similar to South Carolina, except she was killed.
And there he was sentenced by a judge to 30 years in prison. But back then in the early—late ‘80‘s and early ‘90‘s you would get so much game time that he only served 16 years of a 30-year sentence and that was outrageous in Florida. And it was really tough being a prosecutor then.
ABRAMS: So let‘s be clear. If he had been convicted of that crime today...
ABRAMS: ... he would be serving life?
BONDI: Today he would guideline to life in prison, yes. Not only that, even if he was given 30 years, he would be serving 85 percent. Therefore he would still be in prison. You know he‘d be serving at least 25 years of that 30-year sentence, so...
BONDI: ... Governor Bush and our attorney general, Charlie Crist, have really given us some tough new laws as prosecutors that help us and help judges.
ABRAMS: You know, Akim, I‘ve said at times that I think that prosecutors are sometimes too eager to seek the death penalty in certain cases, that it has become a garden-variety crime as opposed to for the worst of the worst. This seems like the classic case where the prosecutor should be seeking the death penalty.
AKIM ANASTOPOULOS, FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA PROSECUTOR: You‘re right, Dan. This is a case that just rocked South Carolina. It was a brutal crime committed on a 20-year-old that was the all American girl. When it first happened in the community of South Carolina people were shocked and they were scared. They were scared to let their daughters out. Now that we find out who actually probably did this, people are relieved but they‘re angry.
They‘re angry on why this person was allowed access to this woman and if there was ever a case for the death penalty this is a case for the death penalty. In South Carolina, you have to have two things to go after the death penalty. One is you have the murder and then another crime committed with it and in this case he‘s charged with the murder and criminal sexual conduct and kidnapping, so it would apply here.
ABRAMS: Jayne, I‘ve got to assume this is the kind of case that makes criminal defense attorneys very nervous because it often leads to changes in the law.
JAYNE WEINTRAUB, FLORIDA DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well not only that, Dan, it‘s the kind of case that makes defense attorneys nervous because it is a death penalty case and everybody wants a piece of this guy and you‘re defending him, so you have to make a choice at the very beginning. Are you going to go for a presumed innocent not guilty verdict or are you going to go to try and save the guy‘s life and try and admit the guilt, so with a psychiatric defense. His mom said he‘s bipolar. See if the psychiatrist can support that proposition...
WEINTRAUB: ... to submit to a jury and try and spare his life.
WEINTRAUB: He‘s basically dead on arrival.
ABRAMS: Yes, if he‘s admitted—I mean again, if the sheriff is right that he has made admissions to committing this crime, it seems that the only kind of defense here is going to be psychological/save his life. But that is going to be real tough. And my guess is going this guy is going to serve as the poster child for again making laws tougher. Because you look at this guy and you look at his rap sheet and you look at all the other things he‘s accused of and you know I think that most people say we just can‘t have guys like this out.
WEINTRAUB: You see, Dan, I agree with you. This is the one problem that slips through our criminal justice system. And because there was a human mistake and he did slip through the system, if he were found guilty or convicted already, then my response to you would be but that doesn‘t mean that we imprison every sex offender that has the possibility or could be rehabilitated because one slipped through and reoffended. That‘s my fear as a defense lawyer that new laws are going to come into effect that will deny someone that can rehabilitate from having the opportunity to do so.
ABRAMS: Dr. Daniel Spitz, look it sounds like they got this guy in large part due to DNA evidence. I mean they got a DNA profile made at the scene that they were able to link up to a DNA sample he‘d given. We always talk about how DNA is helping defendants prove that they didn‘t commit crimes like. It‘s also helping prove that they did.
DR. DANIEL SPITZ, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Well that‘s certainly right. You know from the beginning this case had written all over it that it was sexually motivated. And I was quite surprised that people originally said that it didn‘t appear to be a sexually motivated event. But when you have strangulation of a young female found in the position that she‘s in, a search for DNA and a meticulous examination of the crime scene is so critical because finding that DNA is going to be how you win this case.
WEINTRAUB: But Dan...
WEINTRAUB: ... let me point out that the DNA is in the apartment. It‘s not on the body. And some of the evidence that we‘ve seen and what we know all that means is that at sometime and you know this...
ABRAMS: Yes, but...
WEINTRAUB: ... it doesn‘t mean...
WEINTRAUB: ... time of the murder or the day of the murder.
ABRAMS: Right. Except that he also said...
WEINTRAUB: All it means is that he was there.
ABRAMS: ... he also said if I had known you guys were looking for me I wouldn‘t have been around and apparently made other...
WEINTRAUB: Maybe because he did something else somewhere else.
WEINTRAUB: We just don‘t know yet, Dan.
ABRAMS: Well, we have a pretty good idea.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he also gave a statement saying that this is the type of girl he was looking for.
ABRAMS: Yes, I mean you know this—Jayne, this is not the kind of guy you want to associate. That‘s why I was asking his attorney whether he has problems touching him. You know...
WEINTRAUB: Well of course not, Dan.
ABRAMS: What do you mean of course not...
WEINTRAUB: ... human being.
ABRAMS: Jayne, it never makes you uncomfortable—I understand the presumption of innocence. I understand how we have to have a system whereby people get representation...
ABRAMS: That does not mean that they cannot say, you know what, I do feel uncomfortable sometimes. It does make me go yuck.
WEINTRAUB: Then you don‘t represent them...
WEINTRAUB: Then you don‘t represent them...
ABRAMS: What do you mean you don‘t represent them?
WEINTRAUB: ... because if you can‘t...
ABRAMS: You have to hug him and kiss him in order to represent him?
WEINTRAUB: No, but if I can‘t zealously advocate...
ABRAMS: You can zealously advocate without...
WEINTRAUB: ... and believe in my client‘s defense...
ABRAMS: ... and also feel uncomfortable about touching someone like that.
WEINTRAUB: I wouldn‘t—if I was going to represent someone, Dan, I‘ve never felt uncomfortable about touching them. And I have represented people accused of beheadings...
ABRAMS: Yes, that‘s good. Well...
WEINTRAUB: ... and all sorts of crimes.
ABRAMS: Look, you know...
WEINTRAUB: And I have never felt that way...
ABRAMS: Well, you know...
WEINTRAUB: ... because if I did...
ABRAMS: ... more power to you...
WEINTRAUB: ... I shouldn‘t be sitting there as his lawyer.
ABRAMS: Yes, look, all right...
WEINTRAUB: Then you shouldn‘t be sitting there as his lawyer.
ABRAMS: Well I won‘t be. Let me also bring in...
WEINTRAUB: I‘m not saying he has to be your friend.
ABRAMS: I don‘t want to be his lawyer either.
WEINTRAUB: But you can‘t be afraid to touch him. What‘s the message to the jury?
ABRAMS: Let me also bring in—let me bring in the executive director of the New York Forensic Center, psychologist N.G. Berrill. Thanks for coming on the program. Sorry to keep you waiting. All right, so is this the kind of case where they‘re going to use some sort of psychological defense?
DR. N.G. BERRILL, PSYCHOLOGIST: I‘m not sure what alternative they have. I mean if the physical evidence stacks up and implicates this fellow, and they‘re going to try something to defend him, I guess it would be an affirmative defense, perhaps a psychiatric defense.
ABRAMS: What do you say to those people who say this case shows us again that these guys can‘t be rehabilitated ever?
BERRILL: Well, I‘d say which guys? I mean you know...
ABRAMS: This guy.
BERRILL: Well this guy is an out liar statistically. You know you have a range of folks that commit sex crimes. Some of them are relatively benign, that is the crimes. And others are heinous crimes that culminate in a murder. I don‘t know that you can lump them together. It‘s not an efficient way, you know, scientifically or clinically or even legally to do that.
ABRAMS: I don‘t know. Pam Bondi, I‘ve heard a lot of prosecutors lump together sex offenders and talk about the fact that they just don‘t feel confident that they can ever be rehabilitated particularly violent sex offenders.
BONDI: Right, Dan. I agree with you. And that‘s what the expert‘s advice told us. That you cannot rehabilitate a sex offender. You can only educate them to minimize reoffending and here he appears to have an escalating pattern of violence too. He starts off with rapes and now he moves up to a rape and a murder. And who knows what else is out there that he hasn‘t been charged with. So yes, I think he‘s your classic example of a horrible sex offender.
ABRAMS: Go ahead, N.G.
BERRILL: Well I was going to say you know the issue isn‘t rehabilitation necessarily or even curing. I think those words don‘t apply. I think management is where it‘s at, at this point. I think if you examine the data that is out there on treating or managing I should say the sex offender or the serious sex offender, let me say that. It is usually insists that there be a partnership between clinicians, law enforcement, probation. When you have that partnership and you have people communicating with each other, you have tracking devices...
BERRILL: ... there‘s a lot of stuff we have that really helps to manage individuals if you will, you know, sort of keep them at home...
BERRILL: ... but...
ABRAMS: My guess is, Akim, that the people of South Carolina are at this particular time, and I‘m sure N.G. would agree with this as a matter of public perception, not going to be particularly sympathetic to hearing those sorts of arguments.
ANASTOPOULOS: People in South—I‘m from South Carolina, I‘m a lawyer in South Carolina...
ABRAMS: Yes, I know.
ANASTOPOULOS: ... and people are just outraged. The fact that there was knowledge that he was this type of person. I mean there‘s knowledge that he committed one of the rapes that was in North Carolina was just down the road from South Carolina...
ANASTOPOULOS: ... and the fact that he was not monitored, I mean this is a guy that even got his high school diploma in jail. He‘s been in jail his whole life. He just got released nine months ago and he was allowed to come to our state and murder, brutally murder an innocent all American girl who had everything going for her. She is an engineering student at Clemson and people are outraged in our state.
ABRAMS: I wanted to spend more time on this. I‘m sorry. We got all those live interviews. Akim, Dr. Spitz, N.G. Berrill, Pam Bondi, Jayne Weintraub, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
Coming up, the Senate votes 49-48 for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Far short of what they needed to pass. Not a surprise to anyone. So was it really worth anything? We‘ll debate up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK ®, KANSAS: If members of the United States Senate would vote as their states have voted on this amendment, the vote today will be 90-10 in favor of this constitutional amendment. Forty-five states have defined marriage as a union of a man and a woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: When the votes were tallied up, a bear majority of senators today voted against a constitutional amendment that would ban same sex marriages. Sixty votes were needed to send the measure on and the final tally just 48 for the amendment and 49 against. This despite the support of President Bush and after passionate arguments on both sides.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BILL FRIST, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Marriage as we know it is under assault. Activist courts are attempting to redefine marriage against the expressed wishes of the American people. And if marriage is redefined for some, it will be redefined for all.
SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: In the Constitution of the United States, along with the Bill of Rights, we have not ever written prejudice and we have never written bigotry into the Constitution and we should not do it now in the United States Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: David Buckel is director of the Marriage Project at Lambda Legal, a gay civil rights organization. Kris Kobach is a constitutional law professor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Gentlemen, thanks for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
All right. Professor Kobach, here is what I don‘t get. What I don‘t get is why now? I hear a lot of people saying well you know judges might interpret the law sometime in the future. Maybe the Defense of Marriage Act, which specifically says that one state doesn‘t have to accept the marriage from another state. If someone decides it is unconstitutional down the road, then all hell is going to break loose. OK. Fine. Fair enough. It hasn‘t happened yet, so why is the amendment necessary now?
KRIS KOBACH, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR: Well, there are basically two ways in which judges, either at the state level or at the federal level can invalidate the marriage laws and marriage constitutional amendments that the states have. One is through the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution which basically requires each state to recognize the record and judicial proceedings...
ABRAMS: Right, although that‘s never been applied to marriage. I mean...
ABRAMS: ... in the past when it came to marriages between different races when that was illegal, wasn‘t an issue back then...
KOBACH: Well, but it‘s there—as you know, there are cases underway in the courts right now that are trying to apply that to force all 49 states to recognize the gay marriages coming out of say Massachusetts.
ABRAMS: But the Defense of Marriage Act is pretty clear. No state, territory or possession of the United States or any Indian tribe shall be required to give effect...
ABRAMS: ... to any public act, record, et cetera...
ABRAMS: ... between persons of the same sex.
KOBACH: Sure. But the Defense of Marriage Act is merely a federal statute. The Defense of Marriage Act will not stand in the way of the Full Faith and Credit Clause. And that is what people are worried about. The Full Faith and Credit Clause is a constitutional...
ABRAMS: Wait. Why not...
ABRAMS: Wait. I mean why—this is what make me convinced that this is just political pandering, is why not wait if the courts are going to say that this federal statute that was passed to deal with this very issue—if they say down the road it is unconstitutional, then get everyone all worked up...
ABRAMS: ... and say all right, how important. Why—I mean to me...
ABRAMS: ... it just seems like pure pandering at this point.
KOBACH: No, I don‘t think so. Because if you look at what‘s happening at -- the other approach is state-by-state, which is some of the lawyers for the you know gay marriage movement have been moving in a state-by-state manner. And they have been convincing state courts to interpret very broadly in a very shaky way interpret provisions of State Constitutions to force the people of states to recognize and adopt and given effect to gay marriage...
ABRAMS: Wait. How many states—my understanding is when it comes to actual gay marriages, there‘s only one state in the country where you have to recognize a gay marriage.
KOBACH: Right. Right. But we have three other states that are on the verge of interpreting their constitutions the same way. Those would be Washington, New Jersey and New York where very similar arguments are being made to interpret provisions, similar provisions in those State Constitutions...
ABRAMS: And you‘re saying that they shouldn‘t be able to decide it state-
KOBACH: The judges shouldn‘t be able to decide it state-by-state. We the people should be able to make our decisions at a state level.
ABRAMS: Well, but the judges are always interpreting what the legislature does. I mean this is no different than any other issue.
KOBACH: Well, they actually—what the judges are doing is interpreting provisions like equal protection clauses of State Constitutions, which were written—some have been written more than 200 years ago. Others written in the 19th century and you know they‘re applying them to a new situation...
ABRAMS: All right.
KOBACH: ... and I think in a very shaky way.
ABRAMS: All right, David Buckel, look, you are going about this in a slightly different way than I am in the sense that you are saying you‘re going state-to-state trying to get each of these states to recognize a gay marriage, correct?
DAVID BUCKEL, LAMBDA LEGAL ATTORNEY: That‘s right. We‘ve been working on state constitutional law and what that means is we‘re asking states to decide for themselves whether or not they will end this discrimination. Your guest talks about we the people making the decision, well two years in a row now they haven‘t been able to get a majority in the United States Senate to write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution...
ABRAMS: Wait. Wait. But that is a disingenuous argument because they shouldn‘t be writing new amendments on an issue like this and to say well we haven‘t been able to get them to write discrimination into the Constitution, the bottom line is the vast majority of Americans oppose same sex marriage.
BUCKEL: Well, there are disputes on that if you look at the polls.
ABRAMS: Really? I didn‘t see any dispute on that.
BUCKEL: The bottom line is that you don‘t write discrimination into the federal Constitution. We‘ve never done it...
ABRAMS: I agree with you. Look, it‘s not going to happen. It‘s not going to happen. There will not be a constitutional amendment. It‘s just not going to happen and that‘s why I was asking whether it‘s a waste of time.
But let me ask you about the state-by-state efforts. Are you trying to—what Professor Kobach is suggesting is you are going after the judges but what you are saying is actually you are going after the people in the legislatures.
BUCKEL: The people write the State Constitutions and we are basically in those states saying that if equality and liberty are just not words on paper...
BUCKEL: ... then it means this discrimination has to end...
ABRAMS: Hang on. Hang on. Hang on, Professor. Let him finish. Go ahead, Mr. Buckel.
BUCKEL: Then it means this discrimination has to end and it‘s happening on a state-by-state basis, not in the federal courts. And we‘re the ones that are out there litigating these cases. We‘ve never advanced the Full Faith and Credit Clause. It just hasn‘t happened.
It‘s not a problem. And what is a problem is you have hundreds of thousands of children of same sex couples being raised around this country. These are couples who are hard working, tax paying. They have values and they play by the rules. And yet the government is getting in the way of them trying to be more responsible to each other and to any children they may have.
BUCKEL: How does that make sense?
ABRAMS: Professor, real quick, respond.
KOBACH: They‘re going state-by-state, but they‘re going into the courts of each state trying to get the courts to go around what the people of the state want. That‘s exactly what happened in Massachusetts. And they‘re trying to get each state court to misinterpret various provisions of the State Constitutions.
ABRAMS: That‘s very condescending of the judges of the states, isn‘t it though?
KOBACH: Well I think so. I mean if you look at what the judges are doing they‘re—look what Massachusetts did with the Goodridge decision, 4-3 vote and they took—basically equal protection clause of the State Constitution and interpreted it in a way it had never been interpreted before. I mean let‘s leave—this is a fundamental kind of constitutional issue...
ABRAMS: Mr. Buckel gets the final word and then I‘ve got to wrap it up.
BUCKEL: Well, we set up a system of government in this country, the genius of which as we understood you break up the power amongst three branches so that no one branch takes over. What these folks are doing is saying let‘s take out the judiciary branch. Let‘s put civil rights up for a vote. This is America. We don‘t do that.
ABRAMS: David Buckel, Professor Kris Kobach, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
BUCKEL: Thank you.
KOBACH: My pleasure.
ABRAMS: Coming up, Susan Polk, on trial for murdering her husband, is defending herself and pulling out all the stops. Wait until you hear who she plans to call to the stand to testify, a psychic. Coming up.
ABRAMS: Coming up, the latest theory behind the disappearance of Olivia Newton-John‘s boyfriend is that he may have faked his death. We‘ll talk to someone who faked his wife‘s death, coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN POLK, DEFENDING HERSELF IN HUSBAND‘S MURDER: I killed him. I‘ve got his blood on my hands. How am I going to tell my children what happened? They will never see me the same again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Well at least one of them doesn‘t see her the same. Susan Polk on trial for stabbing her husband to death back in 2002, representing herself. She said it was self-defense. The absurdity of this case risen to a new level. The judge has allowed Polk to call a psychic detective to the stand to bolster Polk‘s claim that she herself is psychic.
In her opening statement—quote—“Polk told jurors she is not crazy, but she is a psychic who predicted the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 and has since prevented other acts of terrorism. She also told them that she does not believe in little green men, but she does believe in fairies.”
Prosecutors obviously seized on that statement and others in an effort to discredit Polk. Polk hoped the psychic could restore some of her credibility with the jury. Psychic detective Annette Martin was going to join us on the program, but now she is busy, scheduled to testify so she can‘t make it. But she probably knew that before she came on the program, my guess.
All right. Joining me now “San Francisco Chronicle” reporter Henry Lee has been following this case closely and was in court today. All right, Henry, the judge allowed Susan Polk to call a psychic to the stand. I don‘t exactly understand for what purpose.
HENRY LEE, “SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE”: Well, the judge has allowed the psychic to take the stand for a limited purpose, and that is to allow the jury to gauge Susan Polk‘s credibility and nothing else. The judge will not allow this psychic, Annette Martin, to testify about the validity of psychics because otherwise that will lead to an automatic hearing on the admissibility of that evidence, so all that a psychic can say right now is help law enforcement and yes, that‘s what I do.
ABRAMS: But how does that help Susan Polk‘s credibility?
LEE: Well Susan Polk has attacked the prosecutor, Paul Sequeira, for deriding her claims that she‘s a psychic. So she wants the jury to have someone...
ABRAMS: Wait, but how...
ABRAMS: I don‘t get it. How is this expert going to know if Susan Polk is actually a psychic or think she‘s a psychic?
LEE: That‘s a very good question. We don‘t think that Ms. Martin is going to say I know that you‘re a psychic because I‘m a psychic. She is basically going to say you know what, I‘m a psychic. We exist and therefore they want the jury to say hey, well Susan Polk says she‘s a psychic. That must be true.
ABRAMS: So she‘s not going to say I can see into Susan Polk‘s mind and I know Susan Polk is a psychic.
LEE: Well, I don‘t think there‘s going to be any mumbo-jumbo parlor games or trickery in court today, but I think what Susan wants to do is to say hey, you know what, I‘m not the only person in the world who thinks that...
ABRAMS: Right. Right. Right...
LEE: ... he or she or I am a psychic.
ABRAMS: All right. Bottom line, this case is not going well for her, is it?
LEE: Well, one could argue both ways. Today she did a very good job with her own witness after the prosecutor said hey—don‘t you think this description of Susan in a psychologist‘s manual of her as someone with a delusional disorder rings true? And Susan did make some points saying hey, you can‘t just misuse this manual, lay people off and do that, and that‘s what she got her point across.
ABRAMS: I don‘t know. From my reading of the transcript, Susan Polk is in a lot of trouble representing herself in this case. But Henry Lee, thank you for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
LEE: Thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, he‘s reportedly been seen four times in Mexico after disappearing almost a year ago. Did Olivia Newton-John‘s longtime boyfriend fake his death? It‘s been done before. We‘ll talk to someone who faked his wife‘s death.
And it got heated here yesterday during our Duke discussion. Coming up, your e-mails.
And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing offenders before they strike. Authorities need your help finding Fredy Vides. He‘s 43, five-four, 125, was convicted of attempted aggravated sexual battery, hasn‘t registered his address with the state. If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Virginia state police, 804-674-6750. Be right back.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. With the most recent supposed sightings of Olivia Newton-John‘s long-time boyfriend in Mexico, many now wondering whether he may have faked his own death and headed south of the border. Patrick McDermott has been reportedly seen four times in the past three months, most recently less than two weeks ago in Cabo San Lucas.
He disappeared while on a fishing trip in California almost a year ago. Joining me now, Lionel Correa, he faked his wife‘s death to collect life insurance, got caught and wrote a book about it, “The Empty Tomb: My Wife‘s Faked Death: A True Story”. All right, Lionel, thanks for coming on the program.
I know you have admitted to doing this. You served some time for doing it, et cetera. Tell us how you went about doing it and how it might be relevant to this case.
LIONEL CORREA, FAKED WIFE‘S DEATH TO COLLECT LIFE INSURANCE:
Basically, I came with the idea of faking my wife‘s death during the summer of 2000 over a report that I saw on the Spanish news. And I thought it was going to—it would be a good idea to do it, but more sophisticated to the point where I would not get caught.
Well, I did—planned it and I did execute the plan in Mexico, faked her death, bribed the town‘s mayor. And I actually attempted to defraud three life insurance companies, but only one paid because the other two investigated and they discovered that everything was a big fake. While I was in prison, I felt that I needed to tell the story so that somebody else perhaps would not make the same mistake...
ABRAMS: All right. Let me ask you this, Lionel...
CORREA: ... and go through the same experiences.
ABRAMS: How did you go about faking your wife‘s death? Meaning, what was the supposed cause of her demise?
CORREA: The procedure that I...
ABRAMS: No, what did you say happened to her?
CORREA: Oh, I created a fake medical report where it stated that she fell from a two-story rooftop of a house, suffered a head concussion, which ultimately led to her death after being in coma for 10 days.
ABRAMS: And what was she doing all this time...
ABRAMS: ... while she was supposedly dead?
CORREA: What was she doing?
CORREA: I‘m sorry...
ABRAMS: Yes. I‘m saying what was she doing...
ABRAMS: ... all this time when she was supposedly dead?
CORREA: I—initially I had her in our mobile home in California, but then when I felt that the investigators might come perhaps investigating in my neighborhood, I moved her to Idaho to her parents‘ house. And then after I collected the money, then I went ahead and took her to Mexico where I felt it was safer to keep her hiding.
Unfortunately, before we left the United States, there were two witnesses who saw her alive when I was claiming that she had died. One of them was her cousin. And he didn‘t know anything about what I was doing. He saw her sitting in the vehicle on the bank‘s parking lot waiting for me to do my last withdrawals.
He was working at that bank at the time. The other one was an apartment manager where we were renting an apartment. Those two witnesses testified to the FBI that she was, in fact, alive, and they used their testimony and a grand jury to indict me and my wife.
ABRAMS: It sounds like you had some...
ABRAMS: It sounds like you had some bad luck in getting caught there. But the bottom line is it‘s pretty easy, is it not, to fake your death as long as you‘re not asking for money. This guy, though, owes a lot of money, and so as a result, there are going to be people out looking for him, even in Mexico. You can‘t always hide, right?
CORREA: Exactly. Exactly. The FBI‘s hand is very long. Believe me. I say by experience and they will come. After they arrested me, they came down to get my wife and eventually convinced her to turn herself in. She did it the easy way. She got probation only for three years.
I did it the hard way. I was running around trying to you know escape the authorities until the FBI caught me in California and the judge sentenced me to three years in prison...
ABRAMS: All right.
CORREA: ... and restitution of 250,000.
ABRAMS: Lionel, I‘ve got to ask you the question that everyone is wondering, we see your beautiful kids there. Are you still together with your wife?
CORREA: No, unfortunately when I was doing my time, she started seeing another man. And even though I tried really hard to save my marriage, she eventually left me for him. It was very devastating for me because not only was I going through the hardships of prison, but morally I was breaking down. And after my release, I felt that I needed to go to Mexico where the things happened, so I could get inspired and finish my book. I really wanted to finish the book so I can sell it and pay back the entire restitution. That‘s my vision and my goal.
ABRAMS: It sounds like you‘ve been punished in more ways than one. Lionel Correa, thanks a lot for coming on the program.
CORREA: Thank you very much.
ABRAMS: Coming up—bizarre story. Coming up—really bizarre. I get a lot of e-mails from viewers unhappy with me, not everyone. Your e-mails are next.
ABRAMS: Time now for “Your Rebuttal”. I accused former prosecutor Georgia Goslee of playing the gender card in the Duke lacrosse case by saying that I wouldn‘t understand why the accuser may have gotten her story confused.
Nick Siavelis with a backhanded compliment from St. Charles, Illinois, “Yesterday you accused Georgia of playing the gender card, but you‘re guilty of playing the evidence card in this case.” I‘ll take that, Nick.
A lot of you ask why I don‘t air more of the nice e-mails we receive. Well because usually they‘re not as fun as the bad ones. We had a light stack, so you know, Wayne Connaway says, “I admire your brain. I like your wit. I grin at your sometimes-smart mouth sense of humor and the raised eyebrows. A couple of days ago your director or someone told you that you were breaking a sweat. You‘re even better when you break a sweat.”
I don‘t know. It just means I‘m angry. Is that good?
Your e-mails. See you tomorrow. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2006 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.