Guests: Mike Sheehan, Steve Emerson, Yale Galanter, Georgia Goslee, Susan Filan, Michelle Suskauer, Victoria Campbell, Rodney Malone, Gwen Deurell
LISA DANIELS, GUEST HOST: Coming up, federal agents bust an alleged ring of homegrown terrorists they say were planning to blow up Chicago‘s Sears Tower.
The program about justice starts right now.
Hi everyone. I‘m Lisa Daniels. Good to be back.
First up on the docket, the Justice Department announcing it has busted a group that plans to launch a terrorist attack right here in the U.S. Seven men, including five U.S. citizens, are suspected of plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and several government buildings in Miami.
Now the charges included conspiring to provide material support to al Qaeda and conspiracy to levy war against the U.S. According to the indictment, the men wanted to—quote—“kill all the devil‘s we can” in an attack that—quote—“will be just as good or greater than 9-11.” Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced the charges today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: What we have is a situation where individuals here in America made plans to hurt Americans. They did take some overt acts. They did request materials. They did request equipment. They did request funding. They took an allegiance—swore allegiance to al Qaeda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELS: Now the FBI actually learned about the plots through an informant who met with the defendants. They thought he was a member of al Qaeda, who could help them carry out the planned attacks.
Joining me now is NBC‘s justice correspondent Pete Williams. Good to see you, Pete.
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Lisa.
DANIELS: How did authorities find out about the alleged plot in the first place?
WILLIAMS: Well, they found out about it from somebody in the area in Miami in which these men lived, heard them talking about their desire to wage holy war, tipped off the FBI through the local police, and then ultimately that‘s when the informant was brought in, the man that they thought was from al Qaeda, so that‘s how they found out about it.
DANIELS: Do we know how much evidence they actually have? Have they recorded conversations? What do they have?
WILLIAMS: They have lots of evidence. They have audio and videotapes of the meetings that these men had in Miami with the man they thought was from al Qaeda, who turned out to be the FBI informant. They have still pictures and videotapes that the men took as what might perhaps be grandly called surveillance pictures of potential buildings they wanted to attack in—buildings that were potential targets that they wanted to attack in Miami, the FBI office, federal courthouses and so forth, so they have lots of that kind of thing.
I think that what emerges from this, Lisa, is that this group talked big, but in the final analysis, they never did get their hands on any explosives, and in the very first meeting with the informant, the man they thought was from al Qaeda, their first request was for boots, so they really were trying to start from almost nothing. When they wanted to do their surveillance, they wanted to drive past some buildings and they said to the guy they thought was from al Qaeda, can you get us a car and can you get us a camera, so we can drive and take pictures. They really had very little of their own other than ideas.
DANIELS: So, it doesn‘t sound like the most sophisticated group. Is it really a big win for law enforcement? What‘s the word in Washington?
WILLIAMS: Well, that is a—that is the big question here. This was not a group on the verge of doing anything. One official said today in talking about the Sears Tower discussion, that it was more aspirational than operational, but what law enforcement officials here are saying is that since 9-11, you don‘t want to wait around to see if a group like this, that clearly has the desire to wage holy war, that is willing to meet with someone they thought was from al Qaeda, that was willing to take oaths of allegiance to al Qaeda, you don‘t want to just sit back and see how far they actually get.
Once you establish the intent to commit a terrorist act and you see them actually take steps to further it, that‘s enough and they want to shut them down. So that is the sort of new model that they have for law enforcement here, and you know, one of them said to me today, who knows, maybe John Muhammad, the man who turned out to be the D.C. sniper, maybe at one time he seemed like such—like sort of a hapless (UNINTELLIGIBLE) do well too. You just never know that is their mantra these days.
DANIELS: Right. That‘s a good point. Pete Williams thanks so much for all that information. Really appreciate it.
DANIELS: And joining me now is terrorism expert Steve Emerson and also former deputy commissioner of counterterrorism for the New York City Police Department and NBC News analyst, Mike Sheehan. And good to see you both.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Lisa.
DANIELS: Let me just follow up with you, Mike, on something that Pete and I were talking about. Right after 9-11, there was a lot of criticism that our country is not very good with informants, that after the Clinton administration we don‘t have informants in the right places. Does this scheme, this bust, show that we are doing a better job with planting people to get us information?
MIKE SHEEHAN, FMR. DEP. NYPD COUNTERTERRORISM COMM.: There‘s no question about it. Prior to 9-11, our informant networks in the United States were actually quite weak against these type of radical extremists and since 9-11, through the joint terrorism task force around the country and in particularly, some of the bigger urban cities, you have much better improved intelligence networks to find these types of cells.
DANIELS: Steve, I think the scariest part for most Americans is these guys are homegrown terrorists. We‘re not talking about foreign elements. We‘re not talking about al Qaeda per se. They‘re right here in this country. Does this show that there is a new threat that we‘ve always been talking about, you and I have had many conversations about this, but we have to fight the war in a different way now?
STEVE EMERSON, TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, certainly, we had anticipated, since 9-11, that al Qaeda would strike, and that would be an externally driven type of operation, but if you look at London last year, you look at Canada three weeks ago, and now of course this series of arrests, these are all citizens of their host countries and first and—first or second generation Canadians, Brits, or Americans. And therefore, the new al Qaeda style threat is really going to come from the groups of militant Islamic supporters in the United States that take it upon themselves to carry out jihad. All they need is an Internet connection. They get the incendiary materials from local Islamic publications and they all require one other thing, a charismatic leader who is going to instigate them.
DANIELS: Mike, every time I looked up and saw the TV this morning, there seemed to be another press conference about this. It looks like law enforcement is patting themselves on the back, perhaps they deserved it, but you heard what Pete and I were talking about. They didn‘t seem very good. They seem very unsophisticated; they were asking for boots. They didn‘t know the informant wasn‘t from al Qaeda. Just how big a win is this for law enforcement?
SHEEHAN: Well I think it‘s an important win. The good news is that this cell was not very sophisticated and they got picked up very early. The bad news is, is this type of ideology is out there. These types of people are getting together and can become dangerous. Now the FBI wants to give itself a pat on the back, I think they deserve that. This also keeps people alert around the country that there are these types of people out there and some of them might be identified by neighbors, see something suspicious in his neighborhood, and so the FBI is getting this information out there and the public, it‘s not necessarily a bad thing at all.
DANIELS: Steve, I want to play for you what one of the sisters of the alleged terrorists said today. Let‘s listen to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To my knowledge, it‘s a religious group. They exercise but not to do no terrorism stuff, not to get big or strong, to do bad things (UNINTELLIGIBLE). It‘s a religious group that they‘re in that they‘re trying to help their community out here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELS: Look, Steve, it‘s not P.C. to say, but does this incident give more credence to the fact that yes, maybe we should be monitoring these so-called religious groups. Maybe that is the hub of the activity, not all of them, but certainly some of them.
EMERSON: Well, look, the common denominator to all of the attacks and all of the series of plots that have been uncovered has been one thing—they‘re Muslim and they‘re radical Muslim to be particularly specific and therefore it‘s the groups that carry out many of the ideological incentives for these groups to believe that there‘s a war against Islam. They get carried away and the followers then decide to carry out attacks to avenge what they perceive to be is aggression against Islam, so many of the groups in the United States are purveying the message that there‘s a war against Islam and creating this paranoia on which some of these conspirators act upon.
DANIELS: Mike, I think people are worried. They look at this scheme and they think if there‘s one, perhaps there‘s many more out there, just we don‘t know about them. Is that the right reasoning?
SHEEHAN: I think there are—they are out there. There‘s no question about it. They‘re not just in Miami. There are groups like this around the country, but again, the bad news is that they‘re here in the country. The good news is unlike in a camp in Afghanistan or somewhere in Iraq, they‘re not able to get—easily get their hands on explosives.
They‘re not easily trained in explosive techniques, so they have to learn it on the Internet and you wind up having rather unsophisticated cells like this. The danger of course is if you have a cell that‘s able to stay beneath the radar for quite a long time, is able to get some good expertise, as Steve said earlier, the charismatic leader, if they can stay underneath the radar, then you have a potentially very lethal combination being put together.
DANIELS: Mike Sheehan and Steve Emerson, thanks so much for giving us your analysis. Great to draw off on your expertise there.
SHEEHAN: You‘re welcome.
DANIELS: Coming up, defense attorneys drop another bombshell in the Duke lacrosse rape case. And one of the police reports they just got, the alleged victim first said she was first raped by five players.
And the man wanted for killing his wife and shooting a judge gives up finally, surrendering to authorities in Mexico. Now he‘s back in the states. We‘re going to talk to his attorney.
Plus, the man who police say confessed to raping and killing this girl, 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford is in court trying to get his confession thrown out of his trial.
And of course your e-mails, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to include your name and where you‘re writing from and we‘ll read some of them and respond at the end of the show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH CHESHIRE, DAVE EVANS‘ ATTORNEY: In the access report, we just reviewed it again; it said that she was sexually assaulted by five people, so now we have three, five, 20 and pick a number anywhere in between.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELS: And we now know more about those inconsistent reports from the accuser in the Duke lacrosse rape investigation. Yesterday the D.A., Mike Nifong, turned over 536 more pages of evidence to the defense. We‘ve got our hands on one of the police reports Nifong included. That police report less than a page long, has three major inconsistencies with the accuser‘s handwritten statement to police and what she told the sexual assault nurse in the hours right after the alleged rape.
Now, in this new report dated March 14, just hours after she was allegedly raped at a Duke lacrosse party, the accuser says she was at the party with three, three other dancers. Five boys sexually assaulted her and it was one of the other dancers who dragged her into the bathroom where the rape allegedly occurred.
Joining me now to talk about all of this, former prosecutor Georgia Goslee, criminal defense attorney Yale Galanter, and MSNBC legal analyst and former prosecutor, Susan Filan and of course Susan was in the courtroom for yesterday‘s hearing. Yale, let‘s begin with you. Here you go again, another inconsistency, in fact, a couple of inconsistencies. First of all in the police report released to the defense yesterday it states the woman initially claimed five men had sexually assaulted her. So this means if these documents are accurate, she has claimed she was raped by three men, then five men, 20 men, what‘s the answer...
DANIELS: Yes, go ahead.
YALE GALANTER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: No and let‘s not forget, Lisa, she first claimed that she wasn‘t raped at all and it wasn‘t only until she learned at the access center that she was going to be involuntarily committed that she came up with the rape story, then it became five, three, 10, 20, depending on which police officer or which medical person you talk to. Clearly this case has serious credibility problems, and I‘m not casting dispersions on the fact that the complaining witness worked for a stripper agency or what her background was or her prior felony record or the fact that she made rape allegations 10 years ago and never followed through. Just—if you just look at what she has told the authorities, as to this particular case, we really don‘t know which story to believe, if any.
DANIELS: Well, maybe she doesn‘t either. That comes to our question.
GEORGIA GOSLEE, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Yes.
DANIELS: ... have we arrived at the point where it‘s crazy to bring this case forward? That there are so many inconsistencies that you really can‘t have a straight face and say yes, I‘m going to bring this case.
GOSLEE: Well, Lisa, I can‘t really say that. I just sometimes ask how many cases some of these legal pundits have tried in the real world, because what I hear most of all is a lot of theory. If you try any case, you‘re going to have inconsistencies, but here‘s my real point about the inconsistencies. I‘ve spoken to trauma nurses.
I‘ve spoken to women who have survived rape—actual rapes, and they say to me, listen, you are so traumatized. This young lady was at least taking Flexeril and might have been slipped a date rape drug, we don‘t know, because there‘s no toxicology report, but I still think even with all of the inconsistencies, remember, Mike Nifong can still carry his burden of proof when he gets to that jury.
DANIELS: So Georgia, you‘re the prosecutor in this case, you‘re telling me you‘d bring this case? I find that hard to believe.
GOSLEE: Well, Lisa, guess what, I‘m a seasoned prosecutor, let‘s open the courtroom door, sweetie, and go into court. Not only would I bring this case, I believe there‘s an awfully good chance that he might even just get a conviction to your surprise.
DANIELS: Susan, look at this. Let‘s put up three. I spoke with the accuser who stated that she and three girls, Nikki, Angel, and Tammy, had performed at a bachelor party on—the address—at 11:00 p.m. on March 13 of 2006. Now that means that the alleged victim is claiming there were four dancers at the party, not two. Here we go again.
SUSAN FILAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Here we go again, but the only thing that I can think of and it‘s thin is that when you are the prosecutor in a case, there is a huge difference between reading a victim‘s statement and talking to that victim yourself. It‘s possible, but I don‘t know, that the district attorney in this case had conversations with her, which explain all of these inconsistencies. I think that those should them have been memorialized and turned over to the defense, so I think at some point if that is what he is resting his case on, he‘s going to have to disclose that.
He may claim he doesn‘t because those conversations are work product. That‘s going to be a whole other debate for another day. But what I‘m trying to say is maybe when you sit down and talk to her, all of her nonsense starts to make sense. You can see from her point of view why she might have wanted to say there were four girls, yes, a lie, but she was covering up for something else and if it‘s all true that underneath it she was actually raped, and lied all around it for whatever the reasons are, and that is able to come out in court and convince a jury, all we have left then is whether the identifications are going to stand up. So I think on paper this case scares me to death, but perhaps when you listen to her, look her in the eye, talk to her, it comes to life in a different way.
DANIELS: But be honest, Susan, if this was law school, I‘m sure the professor would say Ms. Filan, that‘s a very good argument, but you don‘t really believe that this case should be brought. You‘re a prosecutor. You‘ve got to bring cases that you can win, and here, I mean I have sheets and sheets...
DANIELS: ... I could just go through it, with inconsistencies.
FILAN: It‘s actually not true that as a prosecutor you bring cases that you can win.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No...
FILAN: Sometimes you have to try cases that you may not win because you‘re quite convinced that a crime occurred and that person committed it. Whether or not you‘re able to prove it is a whole different story, but you don‘t back away from cases that you might lose. I mean if that‘s the kind of trial lawyer you are, go be an accountant. Every time you walk into that courtroom, anything can happen, win, lose or draw and you just have to a real thick skin, put your best foot forward, and don‘t ever mislead, don‘t ever confuse. Just do it as best you can, whether you‘re going to win or not.
DANIELS: All right...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lisa...
DANIELS: Yes, Yale, go ahead...
GALANTER: ... you know Susan and Georgia as always have made eloquent persuasive arguments. There‘s just one problem. You know that works with the numbers. Maybe she didn‘t know whether she was raped by three, five, 10, 20, as outrageous as that sounds. The biggest problem that she‘s got is we now know that she told law enforcement that Kim Roberts was in the bathroom with her assisting the boys in the rape, and then she accuses Kim Roberts of stealing her money and her property.
Now that‘s just not a lapse in judgment or not being able to identify how many attackers she has. That‘s an absolute lie on the part of the complaining witness, because when Kim Roberts was questioned about it, she came out with those words that we‘ve now heard, that‘s a crock.
DANIELS: All right, so...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But, Yale...
DANIELS: ... let me follow up on that. Georgia, take a look at this.
This is the police report from March 14. Let‘s put it up on the screen. The accuser ended up in the bathroom with five guys who forced her to have intercourse and perform sexual acts. She later stated that she was penetrated by all five of the guys. But we know that she‘s maintained three. How do you reconcile that?
GOSLEE: I don‘t think it necessarily has to be reconciled.
GOSLEE: Again, Yale continues to believe the testimony of the second dancer over the victim who was raped in this case, and I‘m asking him, why would you accept what the second dancer says and not accept what the victim says.
GALANTER: Well, Georgia, what are you saying...
GALANTER: ... that Kim Roberts—you believe the complaining witness—that Kim Roberts was actually in the bathroom assisting three boys...
GOSLEE: I don‘t know where she was, but Yale, the only thing...
GALANTER: ... rape a girl?
GOSLEE: ... I‘m saying is whenever the second dancer makes a statement vis-a-vis the victim who was raped in this case, you automatically accept the second dancer‘s testimony and I‘m asking you why.
GALANTER: Georgia, that is—it is beyond plausibility, because there was no relationship between Kim Roberts and the three lacrosse players that are being accused.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But, Yale...
GALANTER: They didn‘t know each other...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yale...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yale...
DANIELS: You know what. I can‘t hear any of you, so let me just take it back for a second.
GOSLEE: I‘m sorry.
DANIELS: That‘s OK. Let me pose this to all three of you actually, which may be dangerous, but I‘ll do it anyway. Is it possible that we‘re hearing all of this from the defense attorneys, the defense attorney is saying I‘ve got this document, I‘ve got this document, just trust me, it‘s in there. Do any of you believe that perhaps the prosecution is saying it really does all make sense? I‘m not talking right now, Nifong is probably saying, but it does make sense.
GOSLEE: Well I‘ll tell you what I saw yesterday if I can jump in. What I saw was—I think I saw it on Susan‘s face when she was standing in front of the courthouse, was almost—and maybe I‘m wrong, Susan—it seems as though there was a shift in your belief, because if you look at the resolve of Nifong, who is a seasoned prosecutor, who is—the resolve that he demonstrated or exhibited yesterday said listen, I‘m going to stay the course, I know my case better than you do. As we said on this program weeks ago, they have turned over everything. I suggested then that they simply had not turned over everything, because you never give up everything...
DANIELS: Let‘s go to Susan because her face is priceless right now.
Susan, go ahead.
FILAN: Well I mean...
FILAN: ... what happened to me yesterday was I got extremely sobered by my experience in that courtroom. It‘s one thing to read accounts, it‘s one thing to listen to people talk about it. It‘s an entirely different thing to be in that courtroom and see a true case or controversy unfold with an impartial judge on the bench, taking very seriously each discovery request as it comes in, and it just reminded me that I don‘t know. I don‘t know everything that Nifong has got.
FILAN: I don‘t know Nifong‘s position. I have heard from the defense. I have looked at these documents myself. I still feel that it‘s a very, very scary case to have to make as a prosecutor. I don‘t know whether it‘s right to bring this case. I don‘t know whether it‘s right—I don‘t know. That‘s what you saw in my yesterday, Georgia...
DANIELS: All right.
GOSLEE: ... been saying go ahead and drop the case, haven‘t you?
DANIELS: Georgia, I think you made a very good point. Susan, I think you answered very well and Yale, you‘ve been great, so let‘s just end there. Georgia...
DANIELS: Thanks so much everybody.
DANIELS: Georgia, Yale and Susan.
GOSLEE: Thank you.
DANIELS: Coming up, the millionaire that police say stabbed his wife to death and then shot the judge ruling on their divorce turns himself in, surrendering in Mexico. He‘s back on U.S. soil. We‘re going to talk to his attorney next.
And authorities searching for a mom and her 8-year-old son missing for a week now. They were last seen with a teen she met at a school for troubled teenagers. We‘re going to talk to her husband.
DANIELS: Police say he confessed to raping and killing 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford. John Couey‘s lawyer is in court today asking for his confession to be suppressed before he goes to trial next month. Now they claim the confession should be thrown out, because after talking freely about his drug use, his long criminal history, his home life, Couey said this.
Quote—“I want a lawyer here, present, because you‘re trying to accuse me of something I didn‘t do.”
We‘re going to talk about that in just a moment, but first we‘re going to play the tape of Couey admitting what he did to little Jessica. And we should tell you what you‘re about to see and hear is very graphic. You may find it very disturbing.
DETECTIVE: OK, and as soon as I walked into this room, you told me that you had done something to Jessica and she was underneath the back...
COUEY: I didn‘t mean to do it, though.
DETECTIVE: OK, Johnny, listen to me. You‘re all right. Like I told you before...
COUEY: I‘m sick.
DETECTIVE: ... it‘s a disease, Johnny, and we‘re going to help you out with it.
COUEY: I‘ve never done it before in my life. I mean, I...
DETECTIVE: It just happened, didn‘t it? Like I said, it went one step too far, didn‘t it? John, listen to me, I know it‘s going to be hard so you got to tell me from the start what happened that night.
COUEY: We come off of that party.
DETECTIVE: Come off of that party?
COUEY: Yes, the one y‘all was talking about and we done some crack, my sister—I was going high and I was drunk. I went over there and took her out of her house.
COUEY: Her house, her own.
DETECTIVE: Who? Who we talking about?
COUEY: Jessica‘s house.
DETECTIVE: How do you get into her house?
COUEY: The door was unlocked.
DETECTIVE: OK. So she gets up and she walks out of the house with you?
COUEY: Yes, sir.
DETECTIVE: Where did you go?
COUEY: I take her to my house.
DETECTIVE: Into your bedroom?
COUEY: Yes, sir.
DETECTIVE: She climbs up that ladder with you?
COUEY: Yes, sir. Yes, she went in first.
COUEY: And then I went behind her.
DETECTIVE: What happens next?
COUEY: Then I sexually assaulted her.
DETECTIVE: Did she know that we were out there looking for her?
COUEY: Yes, she knew. I told her y‘all were. You know, I told her y‘all—I said they‘re out there looking for you and she seen it on TV too.
DETECTIVE: What happened next?
COUEY: I went out there one night and dug a hole, put her in it, buried her, I pushed. I put her in a plastic bag, plastic Baggies.
DETECTIVE: Was she dead already?
COUEY: No. She was still alive. I buried her alive, like it‘s stupid, but she suffered.
DANIELS: I mean this stuff is really hard to listen to. Michelle Suskauer is a Florida defense attorney and joining us again is MSNBC legal analyst Susan Filan. Always good to have you back, Susan.
FILAN: Thank you.
DANIELS: You know, as I said, it‘s really hard to listen to this, but
so we‘re all on the same page and we‘re not playing inside baseball, let me just have you clarify, Michelle, if what Couey‘s defense attorneys say is true and halfway through this two-hour investigation or interview, he says I want my attorney, what should they have done?
MICHELLE SUSKAUER, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What the police should have done, and this is basic, you know, police techniques 101, is they should have stopped, and if he had an equivocal request, if it was questionable, then they—he has to—you know, they have to clarify it, but they should have stopped at that point. They really just completely screwed up this whole confession and this whole case by doing what they did, because this is such a terrible case, such a serious case, they just kept going.
SUSKAUER: And it was wrong. And it‘s not—it‘s not what the defense lawyers want you to believe. It is on tape, so it is pretty clear, there‘s no question about it, it is a direct request for an attorney.
DANIELS: Well, I want to clarify this, too, because Susan, you know that if this gets thrown out, the confession isn‘t the only thing gone, so is the discovery of Jessica‘s body, so is the DNA samples, and so I want to ask you, if it happens, what are the chances that this man who I think many people would say is a very, very bad man, will walk free?
FILAN: No, he‘s not going to walk free. It may be that his confession gets suppressed because it sounds like he did request a lawyer and they didn‘t grant him that request. I don‘t know why, there may be other bits of tabor, other bits of exchange. Sometimes the request is made and it‘s taken back right away.
There may be some way to salvage the confession, but without the confession, I do believe they‘ll still be able to introduce the body, because there‘s another doctrine called inevitable discovery, which means that with or without his confession, they would have found it anyway, so you don‘t suppress something that would be obviously found out anyway. The other thing about the DNA samples, I don‘t think that those will be suppressed. I don‘t think that those will be—I think they‘ll be able to admit them into evidence. The only thing I think on the table up for grabs is the confession.
DANIELS: Michelle, let me ask you this.
DANIELS: So, this man is accused of snatching a third grader from her bedroom, raping her, then he buries her alive in the yard. He puts her in a plastic bag. She says do I have to go in here and he says yes. She doesn‘t really put up a fight. She—her only request and this is just—it kills you is to bring this little toy dolphin which they find later.
DANIELS: She never tried to run. She never cried. She was very brave. If I‘m a judge and I‘m very, very human, how do I find a way to keep that confession in.
SUSKAUER: Well, you know, that‘s a very good point and I think he‘s going to do everything he can by saying that it was a questionable request. There may be like Susan says, some other bits of the tape that we don‘t hear. But even without this confession, this case is still going to go on and there is still a lot of evidence against him that the state could—it‘s a very compelling case against him that most likely they‘re going to get a conviction and they are seeking the death penalty in this case and there is similar fact evidence, this is a convicted sex offender. He‘s done this before.
That information is going to come in, DNA evidence. If they‘re able to keep out the confession, they still may be able to introduce the body. They brought in a lot of evidence today at a hearing to say that there was a mound of dirt and a shovel, that they would have found this body anyway, so this case is still going to go on without the confession, but the right thing to do here, it‘s very clear, no matter who you are, if you‘re asking for an attorney, whether you‘re charged with an abhorrent crime or whether you‘re charged with some petty theft, you still have a right to an attorney and they should have stopped.
DANIELS: Susan, do you think that judges do that? That they think I want to get this in here and so I‘m going to find a way within the rights of the law to get it in there? Do you think that happens more than we think?
FILAN: Look, you‘re asking me do judges figure out what they want to happen and then find a way to make it happen? It would probably be naive of me to say that some don‘t, but the majority of judges that I have had the honor and privilege of appearing before actually are so intellectual that sometimes they seem cold because they‘re not being guided by their sympathies. They‘re really looking in the cold light of day, what is the law, what are the facts, what is the proper application. And sometimes the result isn‘t anything anybody wanted or contemplated, which is why we have legislators that can rewrite statutes and it‘s why we have appellate courts that can reinterpret what the trier of fact, the trial—the sitting trial judge has to do.
DANIELS: All right.
FILAN: It‘s a tough, tough, tough job.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tough, tough, tough...
DANIELS: Yes, it really is. Michelle Suskauer and Susan Filan, thanks so much guys for being on here.
SUSKAUER: OK. Thank you.
DANIELS: Appreciate it.
And coming up, the man wanted for killing his wife and shooting a judge gives up finally, surrendering to authorities in Mexico. Now he‘s back in the states.
Also the search for an 8-year-old boy last seen a week ago today after his mom picked him up at school. The mother sighted in Illinois, traveling with a 16-year-old boy with whom she‘s allegedly having a relationship with. Her husband joins us live.
DANIELS: Coming up, the millionaire that police say stabbed his wife to death and then shot the judge ruling on his divorce turns himself in, surrendering in Mexico. He‘s back on U.S. soil. We‘ll have the details next.
DANIELS: The scene in Dallas this afternoon as Darren Mack returns to American soil in handcuffs, after 11 days on the run. The man who allegedly murdered his wife and shot the judge presiding over their divorce surrendered late last night in Mexico.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL POEHLAMN, RENO, NV POLICE CHIEF: Darren Roy Mack was apprehended in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico overnight. And this morning was flown to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport where he was arrested by the airport police department on a warrant charging him with the June 12 murder of his estranged wife, Charla Mack. Mack was apprehended at 10:30 p.m. Reno time last night.
Mack turned himself in to the FBI and Mexican law enforcement officials at a resort in Puerto Vallarta. There was a time arranged for a meeting between he and the FBI officials and the Mexican officials and he presented himself at that time at the resort at a predetermined location in the resort.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DANIELS: OK. So Mack was flown back to Dallas and he‘ll go through extradition proceedings before being sent back to Reno. And joining me now is reporter Victoria Campbell with NBC‘s Reno affiliate, KRNV. Good to have you back on the show, Vicky. Thanks so much for being here. So, tell us...
VICTORIA CAMPBELL, KRNV REPORTER: It‘s nice to be here, Lisa.
DANIELS: ... what do we know of the surrender? Do we know any of the details?
CAMPBELL: Well we do know some. We know that he was supposed to turn himself in yesterday morning and did not show up. He had first contacted our district attorney, who is a longtime friend of his, back on Monday, and the district attorney had started talking to him about turning himself in. Together they had decided to turn him—that he would turn himself in yesterday morning at 8:30 at the U.S. Consulate in Puerto Vallarta.
He did not do that. A press conference was held. And authorities here tell us that‘s when they kind of turned up the heat. They started working with Mexican officials and the Mexican media and that led last night 10:00 to Mr. Mack turning himself in, contacting an FBI agent at a predetermined place, a resort in Puerto Vallarta, where the FBI agent allowed him to call his attorney, made contact with him and then arranged to have him flown home today.
DANIELS: So what‘s the difference between why he chose last night and why he wasn‘t going to appear yesterday, just the fact that there is more heat, Mexico cooperating more?
CAMPBELL: Well, that depends on who you talk to. Authorities today tell us it‘s because Mexican authorities turned up the heat, starting setting up checkpoints, roadblocks, that the Mexican media started running his face on the news, putting it in newspapers, but to talk to his attorney, Scott Freeman here in Reno, who is a very prominent local defense attorney, Mr. Freeman tells us today that it was always Darren Mack‘s desire to come home, that he misses his family. He misses his children. He has a great desire to come back and defend himself against the charges that he‘s facing, so I‘m not sure of the difference and I don‘t suppose anyone really knows...
CAMPBELL: ... exactly why—what made the difference between yesterday morning and last night, anybody except Darren Mack...
DANIELS: Still a big question. Now my understanding of international law is if a person is being extradited, Mexico generally asks for assurances that this person will not receive the death penalty. Can I assume at all that perhaps he‘s not going to be given the death penalty? That‘s off the table. That‘s not even an option. Do we know?
CAMPBELL: You cannot assume that, no. If he had turned himself in, and this was an option for him, if he had turned himself in to Mexican authorities, absolutely, that could have been a condition of his return. He would have then met with a Mexican attorney perhaps who could have negotiated his return under those conditions, that he not face the death penalty. And even in some cases, Mexico will argue that the person should not face life in prison.
Darren Mack did not take advantage of that option. Instead, he turned himself over to American authorities and the district attorney is telling us, there are absolutely no deals on the table. The death penalty still very much in play in this case, although no decision has been made yet.
DANIELS: And quickly you said that the D.A., Dick Gammick, and Mack have been friends for what, over 20 years? So I know he‘s recusing himself from all of this, but if I‘m a defense attorney, I‘m going to say hey, they were friends, maybe I can use this you know to try to get my client off something. Is there a conflict of interest there?
CAMPBELL: Well, certainly that‘s something that a defense attorney could argue is that there is a conflict of interest and they could challenge that. However, the district attorney is already saying, hey, I‘m not handling this case personally. One of my deputy district attorneys is going to handle this case. Yes, I run this office, but the deputy district attorney is handling this case.
And they have left open the opportunity to bring in outside counsel if necessary. There‘s also a very real question about a possible change of venue. Obviously, this has been an extremely high profile case across the country, even across the world, so...
DANIELS: Yes, lots of questions...
CAMPBELL: ... there is some question tonight.
DANIELS: I want to know why he changed his mind.
CAMPBELL: Many questions, Lisa...
DANIELS: That‘s on my—that‘s on the top of my agenda. Victoria Campbell, thanks so much for coming on the show. Appreciate it.
And coming up...
CAMPBELL: You‘re welcome.
DANIELS: ... authorities searching for this New Hampshire mom, last seen a week ago. Police believe she ran off with a 16-year-old boy she met and her 8-year-old son. Well, we‘re going to talk to her husband next.
And our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to find missing sex offenders before they strike again. This week, West Virginia.
Police need your help finding this man, Terry Lee McDonald. He‘s 47, five-foot-nine, about 140 pounds. He was convicted of attempted rape along with other crimes. He has not registered his address with the state. Take a look at him. If you know where he is, please call that number, 304-746-2133 and we‘ll be right back.
DANIELS: The nationwide search for a New Hampshire woman and her 8-year-old son continues as authorities follow her trail to Clearwater, Florida, where her minivan was found abandoned early this morning. Thirty-two-year-old teacher‘s assistant Jennifer Malone disappeared last Friday after she apparently picked up her 8-year-old son Brennan from school early. She was last seen late Sunday night at a truck stop in Illinois with a 16-year-old who Malone met when she was a counselor at a school for troubled boys.
Well Malone was fired from the school last month after the Department of Children, Youth, and Families began investigating allegations that she was having a relationship with a minor. They haven‘t been heard from until yesterday when her husband received a package postmarked on Tuesday from Knoxville, Tennessee. Now in the package was a satellite radio that was in his wife‘s minivan along with a note. It said this, sorry, I forgot to leave this and signed with his wife‘s nickname, Jay (ph), but there was no mention of their son Brennan, who has not been seen since his mom picked him up last week.
Joining me now is Jennifer Malone‘s husband and Brennan‘s dad Rodney Malone and Canterbury, New Hampshire Police Chief Gwen Deurell. And thank you both for being here. Good to have you here. Let me start with you...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for having us.
DANIELS: Rodney, let me start with you. I understand you were married to this woman for 13 years. You were high school sweethearts?
RODNEY MALONE, WIFE AND SON MISSING: Yes.
DANIELS: And you guys even...
DANIELS: ... weathered your deployment to Iraq. I have to ask you, is it completely out of the blue that your wife did this?
MALONE: Yes. I can‘t believe it happened.
DANIELS: Did you see it coming at all?
MALONE: She‘s been a little different over the last eight weeks. She‘s been a little more juvenile, kind of detached from people in the community, but other than that, no, I mean, it was completely blindsided with this, this weekend.
DANIELS: Well forget about the community, what did she do with you that might have been different? Did she change her behavior? Did she do something at all out of the blue?
MALONE: She‘s been a real country girl up until about eight weeks ago. She went from wearing like Carhartt jeans to more like low riders and listening to hip-hop music and just—I thought she was going through an early mid-life crisis possibly and I just figured I‘d weather through it and you know we‘d move on.
DANIELS: Chief, the minivan I know was found earlier today in Florida. What does that tell you as to where her whereabouts might be?
CHIEF GWEN DEURELL, CANTERBURY, NH POLICE DEPT.: I wish I knew where she was. We know that yesterday at about 3:00 p.m., there was a ticket issued to that minivan in that rest area and an Officer Klein from the Clearwater Police Department found the vehicle about 4:00 this morning. We don‘t know where she is. I could only wish we knew where she was.
DANIELS: So, Rodney, yesterday I understand you get this package containing a satellite radio with a note that we‘ve said I‘m sorry, I didn‘t mean to take this with me. There is no mention of your son Brennan. What‘s up with the satellite radio? Is there some significance or is that just a complete random act?
MALONE: That was a present that was given to me from my best friend for Christmas and I think she found it important to send it back to me, but I mean I don‘t care about that. She could have threw that off a bridge. I want my son back. I wish she would have sent me a note saying you know he‘s fine. That‘s more important to me than anything.
DANIELS: Chief, is there any reason to believe that her son is not with her?
DEURELL: At this point, we do. We still believe that he is with her. And we‘ve had indications just within the last few minutes that he is with her through a letter that was received to a friend. We do not know for sure and all we hope is that he comes back safely and we will not stop until he does.
DANIELS: OK. Well let‘s go back there. So what about this letter?
What did you just learn?
DEURELL: We haven‘t even gone through it yet. We just received a letter from a friend of the family, and just before we came on air, we don‘t even have a chance to review it yet.
DANIELS: A friend sent to—a friend of Brennan‘s...
DEURELL: No, a friend of the family. A friend - Jennifer—a friend of Jennifer‘s received a letter from her.
DANIELS: And we don‘t know what‘s in it. We don‘t know the contents?
DEURELL: No we don‘t, not yet.
DANIELS: OK. Rodney, what makes you believe that your wife was having a romantic relationship with a 16-year-old?
MALONE: Well, I‘ve talked with the mother of the other boy, and we got together and we‘ve gone through some of the details and it‘s just—it‘s unbelievable. She was fired for obviously having an inappropriate relationship, and it‘s believed that she was seen in his home also.
DANIELS: I‘m hearing “The Pink Panther” in the back. Is that a cell phone?
MALONE: Yes, we‘ve had about nine phones in here. I‘ve been you know weathering all the phone calls.
MALONE: That‘s one of my cell phones.
DANIELS: How is your other son Logan doing? Is he doing OK?
MALONE: It‘s hard for him. You know he doesn‘t understand. He‘s 10, but he‘s a strong kid. He‘s been doing pretty good.
DANIELS: Chief, what do we know about the 16-year-old? Don‘t say his name, of course, because he‘s a minor, but do we have any background information. I know he was part of this troubled teen network. Is there any reason to believe that he may be violent?
DEURELL: We don‘t have any indication of that. I don‘t have a lot of history on him. We do know that at this time there is warrants out for his arrest. They‘re juvenile warrants, so I can‘t get into the details of that.
DANIELS: So if your wife is listening, 10 seconds, what do you want to tell her?
MALONE: I want my boy back. Period.
DANIELS: All right. We‘ll leave it at that. Thanks so much for coming on the show. There is a picture of your little boy and we wish you the very best. I hope you hear from them.
MALONE: Thank you.
DEURELL: Thank you for having us.
DANIELS: And coming up, many of you writing in about the Connecticut high school teacher arrested for having consensual sex with his 18-year-old student. We‘ll read your e-mails next.
DANIELS: All right. Now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. Many of you writing in about the 29-year-old teacher arrested for having sex with his 18-year-old student, sex they said was completely consensual.
Caryn Wallace from Bloomfield, Connecticut writing in. Quote—“The man is a teacher and should not be having an affair with his student. His is a position of authority and regardless of her age, she is under his influence. The same applies to professors at colleges and universities.”
Forty-eight-year-old Kerry Adams from Wisconsin writing this. “The teacher should have known better than to start a relationship with a student. But the fact remains they were both consenting adults. Prosecuting this teacher would be the only crime committed. After all, you can‘t help who you fall in love with.”
And this one is definitely my favorite. I think this is an excellent point. From Rick Hammond from Clearlake, California, -- quote—“Let‘s take this argument about having sex with students to its ridiculous conclusion. In this day and age, many adults are returning to high school to get their diplomas. According to Texas and Connecticut law, if a 30-year-old student has sex with a 25-year-old teacher, the teacher has committed a crime. Let‘s get real.” Great point.
Send your e-mails to THE ABRAMS REPORT. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews is next.
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