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'The Abrams Report' for June 13

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guests: Steve Frady, Shelby Sheehan, Clint Van Zandt, Patrick Lennon, Jack Jacobs, Kendall Coffey, Steve Farese, Brent Horst, Leslie Ballin, Jim Moret

SUSAN FILAN, GUEST HOST:  Coming up, a manhunt in Nevada.  Police are searching for a pawnshop owner who they suspect killed his estranged wife and allegedly shot the judge hearing his divorce case.  Police need your help to find him. 

The program about justice starts now. 


DEPUTY CHIEF JIM JOHNS, RENO, NV POLICE DEPT.:  Darren Mack is wanted in the homicide of his wife Charla.  We would like to resolve this situation in a peaceful manner and let the criminal justice system go through its course.  For that to occur, we‘d like to get Darren Mack in custody. 


FILAN:  Hi, everyone.  I‘m Susan Filan, in for Dan. 

Breaking news in Reno, Nevada, a manhunt is on for a pawnshop owner suspected of killing his estranged wife and allegedly shooting the judge presiding over his divorce case.  Police believe Darren Mack killed his estranged wife, Charla, in her home and then may have driven to the courthouse in Reno to shoot Chuck Weller, the judge, in the chest through his third floor office window. 

Weller was shot four times and is in serious but stable condition.  Police are now searching for Mack, who is believed to be driving a silver Ford Explorer with the license plate 5POR 272. 

Joining me now by phone is Steve Frady.  He‘s the spokesperson for the Reno Police Department.  Hey, Steve, thanks for joining us.  So what‘s the latest?  Bring us up to date.  What‘s going on? 

STEVE FRADY, RENO NV POLICE DEPARTMENT (via phone):  Well, Susan, we‘re continuing to follow leads that are being developed through the investigation as well as many leads that are coming in through public response to this incident.  We‘re still looking for Mr. Mack, and we would, as Chief Johns said, like to have this peacefully resolved as quickly as possible.  We‘re also asking that if Darren Mack is listening to this broadcast that he please call the Reno Police Department at area 77 -- at area code 775-334-2188. 

FILAN:  Do you have any idea where he is now, any leads on him at all? 

FRADY:  We‘re following a number of different leads, but right now I don‘t have any information to indicate a specific area of interest that we‘re pursuing. 

FILAN:  And how else can the public help you? 

FRADY:  You know, it‘s very important that we keep an eye out for this 2006 silver Ford Explorer with the California license plate 5POR 272.  This is the vehicle that was last known to be driven by Mr. Mack, and we‘d like to locate that vehicle, and eliminate that.  We‘ve already located one vehicle—that was done yesterday—just west of the downtown area in a residential section. 

FILAN:  You know, this is just one of those crimes that really, really is upsetting to the public when the judiciary is a attacked and a wife, an estranged wife is killed.  That being said, to this suspect, turn yourself in.  Whatever you‘ve done, it‘s not so terrible that you don‘t bring yourself to justice peacefully without hurting anybody else.  So if you‘re listening, do the right thing.  Steve Frady, thanks so much for joining us. 

FRADY:  You‘re welcome, Susan.

FILAN:  Darren Mack reached out to the NBC affiliate in Reno last month with concerns about Judge Weller.  Joining me now is Shelby Sheehan.  She‘s the anchor for KRNV-TV in Reno.  She met with Mack about a story.  Hi Shelby.  Thanks for joining us. 


FILAN:  How did you meet Darren Mack? 

SHEEHAN:  I was contacted by Darren and another close friend of his who had both been in this particular family court judge‘s courtroom, and they contacted me a couple of weeks ago and wanted to come in and meet, and they basically just said we‘ve got an investigative piece we‘d like you to do.  We can‘t give you all the information right now.  We‘re gathering a lot of paperwork and so forth...

FILAN:  And what did they have when they came in? 


SHEEHAN:  They came in with contribution records of people who contributed to Judge Weller‘s campaign, blogs from people who had dealt with Judge Weller as far as family court, divorce court, custody battles. 

FILAN:  And what was their point, Shelby?

SHEEHAN:  And they came in...

FILAN:  What was their angle?  What were they trying to tell you?

SHEEHAN:  Their point—they were alleging that Judge Weller would make decisions based on the attorneys who were representing different clients based on if they had contributed to his campaign. 

FILAN:  So they‘re basically saying...

SHEEHAN:  That was their allegation.

FILAN:  Their allegation is he‘s crooked or he‘s on the take, something—he‘s impartial.  He‘s not—he‘s biased, is that it? 

SHEEHAN:  Right, that‘s exactly what they wanted to get across, and they both said that their cases had basically already been heard and decided upon, but they felt like it was their duty to expose someone who they thought was really you know doing unjustly things behind the bench. 

FILAN:  And did he seem like a quack to you?  What was your take on this guy?  I mean here he comes in; he tells you there‘s a crooked judge on the take.  Now you find out he‘s suspected in killing his wife and shooting this judge. 

SHEEHAN:  You know, when he came in, he was very intelligent, very well spoken, a very pleasant person.  I was so shocked to hear that that was who they were looking for when the events unfolded yesterday.  He really—he seemed very calm.  He you know seemed like a man who felt like he had really been wronged, but not a man that would be capable of doing something as horrific as you know killing his estranged wife and trying to kill a judge. 

FILAN:  Do you know what the status of his case was in front of the judge at the time that he came in to see you?  Had his case already been decided and his claim was—he didn‘t get a fair shake? 

SHEEHAN:  As far as—I think the divorce was final and I think he was being asked to pay a large sum of money to his ex-wife.  I believe that the custody battle itself was still in process and they were going to be hearing more arguments in September.  But I do think the actual divorce and the settlement as far as there was a lot of money involved, property, and that type of thing that had been settled. 

FILAN:  Shelby, I think...

SHEEHAN:  I think when the...

FILAN:  Shelby, I think a lot of people...


FILAN:  ... don‘t realize just how contentious a family case can be, just how difficult a family judge‘s job can be.  You‘re talking about custody of kids.  You‘re talking about money.  You‘re talking about houses.  I can‘t imagine what you must be thinking now, that this guy that was sitting in front of you turns out to be someone that maybe murdered his wife and shot a judge. 

Shelby, would you stick around with us and we‘re going to bring in Clint Van Zandt.  He‘s a former FBI profiler.  He‘s also an MSNBC analyst.  Thanks for joining us, Clint.  How are you? 

CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER:  Hi, Susan.  Just fine, thank you. 

FILAN:  Clint, this is a case in which emotions have obviously gone haywire for this guy. 


FILAN:  I mean the thing about the kids and the money just absolutely got to him, then he thought he had a crooked judge, and I guess he snapped.  What are we dealing with, Clint?  Tell us who we‘re dealing with and tell us how the police can catch him and how the public can help.

VAN ZANDT:  Well, one of these things, Susan, we always deal with, because you and I talked yesterday, 50 percent of the people walk out of court feeling that you know they weren‘t heard or that they didn‘t get their just rights.  And when you take it to a divorce setting, a family court setting, both parties many times walk away feeling they didn‘t get what they wanted. 

In this case, I‘ve heard rumors that he was going to have to pay 10,000, $12,000 a month.  Well you know depending on your financial bracket that may or may not be a lot of money.  But in this particular case, just like you were just talking to Mr. Mack, I‘d deliver the same message; my message is your children have already been deprived of their mother.  Don‘t let them be deprived of their father. 

You‘re in a position where you can do something.  You can buy the best defense team in the world.  You can say you snapped.  But in this particular case, the public needs to help.  This is someone who presents as much of a threat to himself as he does to law enforcement or anyone else.  His children need him.  Their mother is gone.  They desperately need a father. 

You know if I was looking him in the face, Susan, I‘d say you don‘t have the right to take the father away from your children.  You don‘t have the right to do that.  So do what‘s right.  Give your children a father.  Come in and resolve the situation.  As far as the public, he may or may not have that car with him any more, but he still looks the same. 

And if he‘s not on a dead run, Susan, across the country, he‘s holed up some place, some hotel, some cottage he has some place.  Somebody knows where this guy goes when he wants to get away.  That‘s the type of help law enforcement needs. 

FILAN:  That‘s exactly right.  Hey, Clint, if this guy seemed like he did to our reporter, Shelby, like a really normal guy with a beef, you know, I mean he thought that the judge was crooked...


FILAN:  ... and he thought he got a bum rap in court, what makes what seems like a normal guy snap like this to allegedly murder his wife and shoot the judge?

VAN ZANDT:  Yes, you know, this term snap, we hear it in domestic situations, we hear it in violence in workplace type of scenario.  The challenge for you and me and all of your listeners right now is why not a week ago, why not a month ago or why not a month from now.  What cataclysmic emotional event happened in his life other than the final proceeding that made him say today is the day that I‘m going to not only do this terrible thing to my ex-wife, I‘m going to show her she can‘t get away with it. 

But this continuing attack on the judiciary, I mean we ask judges to have the wisdom of Solomon and then when they use that wisdom, we threaten them.  We attack them.  We shoot them, and that‘s in America.  Not withstanding what‘s going on with the judges that are attacked in Iraq and other places like that.  So you know this is someone who emotionally went over the edge, but right now wherever he is, Susan, if he‘s still with us, he has a chance to decompress, he has a chance to think through what he‘s done, and he also has the chance to consider the responsibility he has to his children. 

He can‘t take it back.  There are no take-backs in life.  But he can change it from here on out, and he can let his children know, anybody can make a mistake and still stand up and move forward with their life.  And that‘s what he needs to do at this point. 

FILAN:  That‘s right, Clint.  I mean to Darren Mack, if you‘re listening, what‘s done is done.  But please, let it end here and now.  Turn yourself in.  Do the right thing.  You‘ve got kids and it doesn‘t have to get any worse.  Shelby Sheehan, Clint Van Zandt, thanks so much for joining us. 

Coming up...

SHEEHAN:  Thank you.

FILAN:  ... President Bush makes a surprise visit to one of the most dangerous cities in the world, Baghdad.  So, how is the Secret Service keeping him safe? 

And top White House adviser Karl Rove dodges a bullet.  The special counsel decides not to indict him in the CIA leak investigation.  We‘ll tell you why. 

Plus, you remember Mary Winkler?  Not so lucky today.  Indicted for murdering her preacher husband.  Prosecutors say it was premeditated, but her attorneys say she‘s got a defense.  We‘ll talk to them up next. 

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


FILAN:  President Bush now on his way back from Baghdad after a surprise visit to meet with the new Iraqi prime minister.  The visit was conducted with massive security on the ground and in the air and with extraordinary secrecy back home.  The president told an after dinner group at his Camp David retreat last night that he was going off to read.  Instead he went off to Iraq. 

It‘s a trip so secret that members of the president‘s cabinet didn‘t even know about it.  Only Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Rice, and a handful of close aides were told of the trip in advance.  Even Prime Minister al-Maliki didn‘t know he was going to see the president until five minute before they met. 

So the question is, how does the Secret Service and the military safely get a president in and out of one of the most dangerous places in the world?  Joining me now, Patrick Lennon who spent 22 years in the Secret Service where he was involved in planning and developing and implementing security programs for presidential trips, and Jack Jacobs, a retired Army colonel and MSNBC military analyst.  Gentlemen, thanks for joining us. 


FILAN:  Patrick, talk to us.  How in the world do you get a president in and out as a secret in a place as dangerous as Baghdad? 

PATRICK LENNON, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT:  Well, first of all, the secret is probably the best part of security that you can have, most people don‘t know about it.  And at that point the people that you‘re protecting someone from doesn‘t know about it as well.  I think that‘s probably the biggest part of security is to have a ultimate surprise. 

Secret Service obviously was aware of the move, and also be aware the public that the Secret Service knows where they‘re going to put—where they‘re going to land, what they‘re going to do, where they‘re going to put the president when they get there.  If you can tell the least amount of people in a situation like this, and you mentioned it early, it‘s a very dangerous place we‘re all aware of, so that way you want to have an ultimate surprise, you want the least amount of people to know about it.  And if you can do that, your security odds are in your favor more so than the bad guy. 

FILAN:  Patrick, just how dangerous was this for President Bush? 

LENNON:  I don‘t think it was—obviously when you go to a dangerous place it‘s—you have to worry about those things.  But they have put a number of contingency plans in place for him, for him to be safe.  I feel that he‘s been—he‘s got—he‘s in good hands when it comes to the Secret Service, first of all. 

Second of all, he‘s in good hands with the military.  They have a lot of support over there with the military, with EOD, with K-9 and such.  So I think—again, I have to emphasize the odds for him are that much greater and the safety for him is—it‘s always—when you go to a place like that you‘re always—you always have a problem with the safety and the odds that you‘re going into a very—you know a place like Iraq you have to really worry about your security. 

FILAN:  Sure.  I just thought of, you know if I were Laura Bush and he came in and told me hey I‘m going to Baghdad, how I would have felt about that.  Colonel, what was the riskiest parts of this trip in your opinion? 

COL. JACK JACOBS (RET.), MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST:  Well, there are two places where it‘s very risky.  The first is giving it away, as Patrick Lennon was talking about, you got to keep it secret.  But if you‘re going to send an advance team out there to Baghdad, what you‘ve got to do in order to secure the airfield and secure the locations where the president is going, somebody is liable to smell a rat. 

And the second difficulty and the second most dangerous is the transportation from one place to another.  In order to get ahead of that, you have decoy aircraft, you make sure that the aircraft, the local aircraft, not the president‘s aircraft—United States of America on it.  And that when you go into Baghdad from the airport and you return to the airport from Baghdad, you never, (A), go over western Baghdad, and secondly you never go over the same place twice.  So that will help a little bit surely.

FILAN:  Don‘t they say from the road from the airport in Baghdad—to central Baghdad is the most dangerous road in the world?

JACOBS:  It‘s quite dangerous, but it‘s a lot better than it used to be.  But in order to fully secure it, you‘re not going to take the president on the ground.  But in order to fully secure it, it‘s going to take a very large number of troops to not only secure that stretch of road, which is quite long, but also to secure large areas on either side of the road.  No, they‘re not going to do that.  They take him by air, but you‘ve got to secure the airfield and where you‘re going and the routes to and from in the air. 

FILAN:  Do you think this was a good move on his part or you think this was a sort of a crazy risk maneuver on his part?

JACOBS:  Oh, no, I think it‘s brilliant.  He accomplished two things.  One is to get on the public airways while he was there and talk publicly about how the Iraqis are going to have to do it themselves.  And secondly to keep faith with the troops, who he‘s now co-opted into the—into getting al-Zarqawi, who now feel it‘s really part of their operation, even though they might not have been part of the organization that actually got him, it‘s their operation, they were successful.  They got the longest and most emotional sustained applause when he mentioned getting al-Zarqawi. 

FILAN:  And boy, these guys could sure use a break like that.  Colonel, Patrick, thank you so much for your hard work on behalf of our troops, on behalf of our country and on behalf of our government.  You guys are the good guys.

JACOBS:  Thank you.

LENNON:  Thank you, Susan.

FILAN:  Switching topics now, to news the White House has been waiting months to hear.  Well, Chief White House political adviser Karl Rove will not be indicted in the CIA leak case.  Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald told Rove‘s attorney Robert Luskin Monday.  Rove had testified five times before the grand jury investigating the leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame‘s identity.  So, why wasn‘t Rove indicted? 

Joining me now, MSNBC‘s chief Washington correspondent Norah O‘Donnell and former federal prosecutor Kendall Coffey.  Hello, Norah.  Hello, Kendall. 

Norah, let me start with you.  What happened?  Why wasn‘t he indicted? 

NORAH O‘DONNELL, MSNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT:  Well, it appears that the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in this case did not have enough evidence to indict Karl Rove on either perjury or obstruction of justice charges.  That is what “Scooter” Libby, the vice president‘s chief of staff, was charged with late last year.  Karl Rove did testify five times before the grand jury.  He was under investigation for over three years. 

In part because he‘s admitted he forgot to disclose to the prosecutor and to FBI agents that he did in fact discus Valerie Plame with the “TIME” magazine reporter before her name was made public in the press.  He says that that was just faulty memory, that he talks to hundreds of people a day and it was an innocent mistake, not an intentional mistake.  So it does appear that while Fitzgerald has done a very, very thorough investigation that he did not have any evidence to move forward with any charges against Karl Rove. 

Now I spoke with someone who spoke with Karl Rove this morning, who said he was elated.  He was relieved by the news, and of course this frees up the president‘s chief political adviser and architect, as he is called, to focus on the November elections, and of course those pictures you were just showing were from Karl Rove last night in New Hampshire addressing Republicans, where he was lacerating the Democratic Party on their position on Iraq, criticizing John Kerry and also John Murtha, saying had they been in charge, then al-Zarqawi, the al Qaeda leader in Iraq, would still be alive.  So he is back at politics, full steam ahead—Susan. 

FILAN:  Wow, he wasted absolutely no time.  Kendall, let me ask you, how come the “I forgot” defense works in a case like this? 

KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Because you can forget one time.  And that‘s what it came down to.  There was a single episode of mistaken testimony.  Failing to disclose the Matt Cooper thing.  That‘s something that human forgiveness and even realistic juries can accept.  It gets very, very different, let‘s contrast it with “Scooter” Libby, when somebody‘s “I forgot” defense maybe crumbles because there were multiple different conversations, which allegedly he mischaracterized.  So that pretty much illustrates why I think the prosecutor made good calls in both instances, enough to make charges against “Scooter” Libby, not enough to bring a truly prosecutable case against Karl Rove. 

FILAN:  So do you think it‘s a situation where you know he did say something that he shouldn‘t have said?  He did misspeak and maybe he did forget, maybe he didn‘t, so there really wasn‘t enough evidence.  But the question still remains, was it a lie or was it a forget?  I mean do you think that cloud still hangs over him? 

COFFEY:  Well, the cloud may hang over in some minds, but the way our system works, if you‘re not charged, then you‘re effectively cleared of the allegations in the criminal investigation.  So I think this cloud in large part is gone and it‘s blue skies ahead for Karl Rove. 

FILAN:  How come he had to go five times in front of this grand jury, and how come the cloud hung over him for so long, Kendall?

COFFEY:  Well I think—exactly, I think there were some things that were of concern to the prosecutor.  Because given the fact that some of the elements of this equation, the war in Iraq, the president‘s State of the Union address, the CIA, added up to very, very vivid and important circumstances at the time, even a single memory lapse has to be looked at very closely and very critically.  I think at the end of the day, whether or not the prosecutor had some misgivings, he recognized that you‘ve got to convince a jury beyond and to the exclusion of a reasonable doubt. 

FILAN:  Kendall...

COFFEY:  And that‘s why I think perjury...


COFFEY:  ... is tough to bring on a single episode.

FILAN:  Let me just ask you another question.  He did say that he did talk to the press about Plame.  Why wasn‘t he then indicted on that underlying charge of revealing a covert CIA‘s officer‘s identity? 

COFFEY:  That‘s a great question.  But as we know, Libby wasn‘t charged with that because it‘s a very tough charge to bring.  You have to show not only that the person intentionally knew that someone was a covert agent, but that they had a specific intent that the government was trying to protect that status of that so-called covert agent.  The elements of intent are so difficult, that at the end of the day this investigation became not about what “Scooter” Libby or Karl Rove actually did but whether or not they in fact fibbed and whether they lied intentionally. 

FILAN:  Sounds like a lot of great lawyering went on.  Norah, what does this mean for “Scooter” Libby now? 

O‘DONNELL:  Well, his trial moves forward in this case, and there are still motions filed almost weekly in that case, as “Scooter” Libby is asking for more information, more classified information.  What we‘ve learned as of late is that the vice president could be called to testify in part because he made notations on Joe Wilson‘s op-ed where he raised the question, was this a junket that Joe Wilson was sent on because his wife worked at the CIA.

So this means that the government moved forward his case.  It‘s not set to begin the actual trial until the beginning of next year.  So there will be all the discovery, motions, et cetera, where we‘ve learned kind of a great deal about what was the White House effort leading up to the Iraq war to discredit any critics of the war, like Joe Wilson.  And so that has been a discovery process that has been illuminating to reporters such as us who only have limited knowledge of what‘s at the center of this case.  But clearly there was certainly in the vice president‘s office an effort to get the story out, if you will, when it comes to Joe Wilson who was a critic of this administration. 

FILAN:  Wow, doesn‘t look like this is going to end any time soon.  Kendall Coffey, thanks for joining us.  Norah, I always love listening to you.  Thanks for coming on the program. 

O‘DONNELL:  My pleasure. 

FILAN:  Coming up, a grand jury indicts a Tennessee preacher‘s wife for killing her husband.  They say she admitted to doing it.  So what‘s her defense?  Well, we‘ll ask her lawyers, who join us next. 

And Michael Jackson has been a free man for a year now.  He was acquitted one year ago today.  So what‘s he been up to in the last year?  And is there any truth to the report he‘s about to get married again and adopt another child?

And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike again.  Our search today is in Washington State. 

Police need your help finding Benjamin Mendoza.  He‘s 26 years old, five-foot-eight, weighs 210 pounds.  He was convicted of 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 Mason County Sheriff‘s Office at 360-427-9670.  We‘ll be right back.


FILAN:  Coming up, a preacher‘s wife indicted for murder.  Prosecutors say she confessed.  But why did she do it?  Her attorneys join us next.  But first, the headlines.


FILAN:  Premeditated murder.  That‘s the indictment for Mary Winkler, the Tennessee preacher‘s wife who reportedly admitted to killing her husband.  The indictment reads on or about March 22, 2006 in McNairy County, Tennessee and before the filing of this indictment, Mary Winkler did unlawfully, feloniously, intentionally and with premeditation kill Matthew Brian Winkler.  Matthew Winkler was found dead in the bedroom of the home he shared with Mary and their three children after he failed to show up for the evening service of his church.  The medical examiner determined he was shot in the back with a shotgun at close range. 

After the murder, Mary fled the state with their children.  They were all found the next day in Alabama.  She‘s been held without bond ever since and she‘s going to be arraigned tomorrow morning.  Joining me now, Mary Winkler‘s attorneys, Steve Farese and Leslie Ballin, and former Tennessee prosecutor Brent Horst. 

Steve, were you surprised by the premeditated murder indictment? 

STEVE FARESE, ATTORNEY FOR MARY WINKLER:  I wasn‘t surprised about the first-degree murder indictment.  The premeditation has yet to be made visible to us.  So we had heard about it, but I can‘t say I was surprised, but I wouldn‘t have been surprised if they had said it was not premeditated. 

FILAN:  Brent, when do you file a premeditated murder charge and when do you not? 

BRENT HORST, FORMER TENNESSEE PROSECUTOR:  Well, you simply look at the facts and what evidence you have.  If you can meet the elements as a prosecutor, then you file for that charge.  In this case, obviously, the state felt that they could prove, (A), that it was intended and premeditated simply meaning she reflected on what she was doing. 

FILAN:  I‘m going to put up the elements of what it takes to have a premeditated murder charge in the state of Tennessee.  I‘m going to read them to you.

Intent to kill must have been formed prior to the act itself.  It is not necessary that the purpose to kill preexist in the mind of the accused for any definite period of time.  The mental state of the accused at the time the accuse allegedly decided to kill must be carefully considered in order to determine whether the accused was sufficiently free from excitement and passion as to be capable of premeditation.

Well Brent, if they‘re going to raise the defense, and I don‘t know that they are, I‘m going to ask them in a minute, but if they‘re going to raise an insanity defense or some kind of impaired or diminished capacity, don‘t you have some trouble with that second part of that statutory element that you‘ve got to satisfy for proof beyond a reasonable doubt? 

HORST:  Susan, you would only have trouble if the facts that the defense is able to present causes you that trouble.  Simply raising the defense does not necessarily cause me pause as a prosecutor.  Oftentimes defense counsel will be far reaching simply because they have nothing else that they can even try. 

FILAN:  Steve, Leslie, am I on the right track?  Are you going to go somewhere with her mental state to show that they can‘t meet that second statutory criteria? 

LESLIE BALLIN, ATTORNEY FOR MARY WINKLER:  In any type of homicide charge, a person‘s mental state is an issue, so we‘re going to go there.  Certainly, March 22 of this year is not the first day in the life of the Winklers.  And so we‘re going to go back and portray what their lives were like, what happened, and what brought Mary Carol and Matthew to the event of March 22. 

FILAN:  Are you sowing the seeds for a battered woman defense? 

BALLIN:  That‘s not out of the ballpark at all.  Certainly we can‘t go into any details and I‘m sure that you can appreciate why.  But we feel like we have a very viable defense, and we look forward to our day in court.

FILAN:  Why the heck did she do it?  I mean we‘ve all just been baffled by this one. 

BALLIN:  I‘ve said to others stay tuned, and so I‘ll have to say that to you.  Hopefully, we‘re going to get to trial in October, which in the grand scheme of things is not that long of a time away.  So please stay tuned, there‘s a reasonable understandable explanation in our minds as to what happened and why. 

FILAN:  I want you to take a listen to a sound bite from a friend of Mary‘s. 


BETTY WILKERSON, CHURCH SECRETARY:  There has to be—there‘s got to be some deep dark reason that this has happened, and I don‘t know what it is.  And I think that‘s the question on everybody‘s mind right now.


FILAN:  Do you guys know what it is yet?  Have you gotten there?  Does she talk to you?  Is she cooperating with her defense? 

FARESE:  Yes, she‘s cooperating with us.  And slowly but surely we‘re

getting deeper through her layers.  And we think we have a firm grip on

what was going on in that household through the past few years, why she has

why she finds herself in the situation she does today.  But she‘s been very helpful as of late.

FILAN:  Do you get to see her much? 

FARESE:  I try to see her about once a week.  I also talk to her on the phone about once a week, and Leslie and I try to together go see her at least twice a month. 

FILAN:  She‘s not gotten to see her kids yet, has she? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Has not.  We‘d like that to change.  She certainly would like that to change, yesterday.  She misses those kids and wants to have some contact with them. 

FILAN:  Can‘t even imagine what that must feel like for her.  Are you guys going to ask for bail tomorrow at the hearing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We haven‘t decided yet.  We have had discussions with Mary Carol about the possibilities of that, but we‘ll probably make that decision tomorrow.  If we do make a decision to seek bail, it probably will not be heard tomorrow, but sometime in the near future. 

FILAN:  Right.  Brent, you know I was a prosecutor for many, many years, and what I‘m hearing from the defense is just because maybe you had a bad marriage or a sad life or a hard time, certainly doesn‘t give you the right to take the life of your husband.  Diminished capacity or battered woman, I mean those are really, really tough defenses to prove. 

Otherwise you‘re kind of giving people a license to say I didn‘t want to get a divorce.  I thought it would be quicker to kill him.  Am I on the right track with where you‘re going with this? 

HORST:  Well certainly I agree.  And as a defense attorney, when you don‘t have much to work with, you always can kind of go for the sympathy vote and hope for a jury pardon or maybe a lesser-included offense of second degree or involuntary manslaughter.  So I think that‘s—without knowing the facts of the case, obviously I think that‘s where they—looks like where they‘re heading. 

FILAN:  I mean legally to prevail on this, legally to prevail on this, you got to do better than boohoo cry me a river, life was bad, and I haven‘t seen my kids.  Don‘t you think? 

HORST:  Exactly.  Certainly. 

FILAN:  Gentlemen...


FILAN:  I‘m going to give you guys the last word because I think I took a pretty big shot at you, so I‘m going to give you a chance to come back. 

FARESE:  Well, we understand you taking the shot at us with your background, Susan, and that‘s quite all right.  But we‘re not crying about anything.  We‘re not looking for anyone‘s sympathy.  We‘re looking for a fair jury because once we present the facts we think that we will be in good stead with a fair jury—Leslie. 

BALLIN:  Agreed.  Sympathy has no place in the courtroom.  We want this case to be tried on the facts, the evidence, and the law, and we feel good about things.

FILAN:  Well I got to tell you guys, this is a real cliffhanger, because without the sympathy, which you just said you don‘t want from a jury, and good for you, I applaud that, and given that you‘re going to get a fair jury because I believe the jury system in this country is the best in the world...


FILAN:  ... you better come up—good for you—you better come up with something really good, legally, to hang your hat on.  Because that premeditated murder statute the way I read just doesn‘t look that hard to prove when she admitted it.  It‘s a lone gun, close range, in the back, flees with the kids, which tells me her mind had to be there enough to know I‘m killing him and getting out of town and I‘m taking my kids...


FILAN:  Guys, thanks for coming on the program...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All right.  We‘re going to use our first (INAUDIBLE) strike on you, Susan.

FILAN:  Very, very good.  All right.  Well I don‘t live in Tennessee so I don‘t think I‘d get called.  Steve Farese, Leslie Ballin, thanks for coming on the program.  Brent Horst, thanks for joining us.

FARESE:  Thank you.

HORST:  Thanks.

FILAN:  Coming up, it‘s been a year since a jury acquitted Michael Jackson of child molestation charges, so what has the King of Pop been up to in the last year?  We‘ll talk to somebody who knows. 


FILAN:  Coming up, it‘s been a year since Michael Jackson was acquitted on child molestation charges.  We‘ll tell what you the King of Pop has been up to since then. 



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We the jury in the above-entitled case find the defendant not guilty of conspiracy as charged in count one of the indictment...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  ... not guilty of (INAUDIBLE) on another child, not guilty of administering an intoxicating agent to assist in the commission of a felony.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They put on witnesses who were lacking in credibility.  A lot of their theories and arguments made no sense, and they didn‘t have a case.  And Michael Jackson is innocent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We expected probably better evidence, you know something that was a little more convincing. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  In looking at all of the evidence and not just one specific item, I mean that‘s the conclusion we arrived at.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I felt like we were really left in the dark about some things, and questions were answered, but we had to make do with what we had and the evidence that was given to us. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Obviously we‘re disappointed in the verdict.  Thirty-seven years I‘ve never quarreled with a jury‘s verdict.  And I‘m not going to start today.



FILAN:  Not guilty.  One year ago today, Michael Jackson fans celebrated as the jury found him not guilty on all 10 counts of child molestation, conspiracy and supplying liquor to a minor.  Since then, the reclusive King of Pop has been in self-imposed exile in the middle eastern kingdom of Bahrain.  But he appeared in public for the first time last month, at an MTV awards show in Japan.  So what‘s he been up to since his acquittal? 

Joining me now, “Inside Edition” senior correspondent Jim Moret who was in court every day of that trial.  Hey, Jim.

JIM MORET, “INSIDE EDITION” SENIOR CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Susan.  It‘s hard to believe it‘s been a year, isn‘t it?

FILAN:  That‘s where I met you, I was there too.  That was a wild time.  Hey, Jim, bring us up to date.  What has the King of Pop been up to in this last year? 

MORET:  You know, there‘s so much that‘s been happening with Michael Jackson you almost need a scorecard.  It‘s because you can run but you can‘t hide is the old saying, and Michael Jackson basically fled to Bahrain.  But bad news and bad luck seem to have followed him.  He‘s had a string of problems, among them financial problems.  He had a $300-million debt, which he‘s been able to refinance and basically putting up collateral for his Sony ATV catalog, which he owns 50 percent.  That‘s the Beatles catalog that we heard so much about during the trial.  The biggest problem...

FILAN:  Wasn‘t that the thing he said he‘d never, ever, ever sell? 

MORET:  Well that was one thing he said he would never sell.  Another thing he said he would never do is leave Neverland.  And by all accounts, it looks like he‘s not only left, but left for good.  The animals in that menagerie, the zoo are being sold off.  And Neverland is running on a skeleton crew right now.  But Michael Jackson has even more problems. 

Susan, you remember one of the witnesses, Debbie Rowe, his ex-wife with whom he had two children, she came to testify on Michael Jackson‘s behalf and it was based in large part upon her testimony that those of us watching the trial thought the tide turned in Michael Jackson‘s favor.  Well, she is now suing him, basically for custody of those two children. 

She signed away the rights to those children.

She was paid off by some accounts millions of dollars.  But the California Supreme Court said Michael Jackson cannot have sole custody of those children, and Debbie Rowe is proceeding with what might be embarrassing news for Michael Jackson.  She‘s threatening to bring forward in court documents next month evidence that Michael Jackson is not the natural father.  This is just one of a series of problems that has followed him all the way to Bahrain. 

FILAN:  So he‘s not even their dad? 

MORET:  Well, you know, those who have seen Michael Jackson‘s kids say it doesn‘t make sense.  They‘re white children.  Debbie Rowe is white.  How could they be Michael Jackson‘s children?  And there are some—there‘s some speculation that there was a sperm donor that Michael Jackson chose to impregnate Debbie Rowe and that‘s how he had the kids.  According to what we‘ve read, the court documents may include the name of that father, and obviously that would be very embarrassing, if it‘s true. 

FILAN:  I got to ask you something.  There‘s a report in the “Daily Mail” that says that he‘s getting married again, and he‘s going to adopt another child.  And I think he‘s going to be marrying, is it the nanny of these children? 

MORET:  Right, the nanny who is known as the enforcer, among those close to Michael Jackson because she keeps everything on a tight order.  She runs a very tight ship.  You don‘t get through to Michael Jackson until you get through this nanny.  And you basically don‘t get through her.  You know, every time I read something about Michael Jackson I think nothing else could surprise me. 

And what happens, not only is there speculation that he might marry the nanny, but when he was in Japan, as you just reported, for that MTV award, there was also a report that he visited an orphanage and Michael Jackson has indicated that he wants to adopt a child from that orphanage.  Now think about this. 

This is a person who has been accused not once, not twice, but several times of molesting young children.  Where does he go when he goes to Japan in hopes of reestablishing his career?  He goes to an orphanage. 

FILAN:  Oh, make it stop, Jim.  Make it stop. 


FILAN:  Jim, I got to ask you one last question.  I just got to ask you.  You‘ll never forget as long as you live pajama day, will you, when he was so sick he came up to court in his pajamas.  How is his health now?  How is he doing?

MORET:  You know it‘s hard to tell because when he‘s in Bahrain he‘s dressed very much like the women in Bahrain dress.  He‘s—you‘ve seen him in this video.  Look, he‘s still thin.  Is he the Michael Jackson we remember, no, I don‘t think so.  He‘s 47 years old.  Could he get in good shape?  Theoretically, but there are reports that he‘s addicted to various painkillers.  I think his first priority has to be in putting his health in order and then directing his efforts toward his career. 

FILAN:  Wacko Jacko, they don‘t call him that for nothing.  Hey Jim, thanks so much for coming on the program.  It‘s great to see you one year to the day when those doves went flying up in the air and he was acquitted. 

MORET:  Thanks, Susan. 

FILAN:  Coming up, a lot of you sending warm wishes to Dan.  These e-mails are great and they‘re coming up next. 

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 Washington State.

Authorities are looking for Joseph Gonzales-Hernandez.  He‘s 39, five-foot-one, 161 pounds.  He was convicted of second-degree sexual assault and he has not registered his address with the state.  If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Mason County Sheriff‘s Office at 360-427-9670.  We‘ll be right back. 


FILAN:  Now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Hundreds of you wrote in about our big announcement yesterday.  Dan was named the new general manager of MSNBC.  And we‘re clearly not the only ones who are going to miss him. 

From Virginia, Alice Mauroner writes, “Oh, please say it isn‘t so.  Don‘t leave us.  I do understand your next job is a wonderful promotion, but I‘ve grown so accustomed to watching you every night.  Please, please promise you‘ll come back on the show in whatever reincarnation it surfaces and do a special spot on the day that Nifong has to drop the charges.”

From Houston, Brenda Varner writes, “While it‘s great to see you moving up, I just hate to lose my daily fix of common sense legal news and commentary on THE ABRAMS REPORT.  You had the uncommon ability to ask the questions we wanted asked.  Maybe we just liked your show because we usually agreed with your take on things, but we will most certainly miss you.”

And Mary Osborn-Fick in Pasadena, California writes, “You will definitely be missed.  Your common sense, integrity, and humor, the way you treat people involved in the news as people and not merely as stories or headlines, your ability to translate legal issues and jargon into terms that the rest of us without law degrees can understand, the logical debates and arguments with your guests without as much yelling and rudeness from guests as on other shows.  I hope to see the aspects that made you and THE ABRAMS REPORT successful become more incorporated into other programs on MSNBC.”

Finally, Steve Shull in Lake Saint Louis, Missouri, “Mr. Abrams has not only been a fair and balanced voice for your news channels, but more importantly a reasonable voice.  That‘s very important in these days of vitriol and hate.”

And while we‘re really, really thrilled for Dan, everybody here loves him and is going to miss him dearly too.  Thanks for your e-mails. 

Send them to the abramsreport—one word --  We‘ll go through them and read them at the end of the show.  We‘ll be right back.


FILAN:  That does it for us.  Dan had hoped to join us today for a final “Closing Argument”, but he‘s already so tied up with his new job being our big boss that he couldn‘t make it.  Maybe tomorrow, so please keep watching.

Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  Good night.



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