Guest: Diane Dimond, Stacy Brown, Roy Black, Ron Richards, William Fallon
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Hi, everyone. If you‘re just getting home and you don‘t know what happened in the Michael Jackson case today, go get yourself a cup of what Jackson calls “Jesus juice”, sit back in the Lazyboy. You‘re not going to believe it.
The Michael Jackson case today is almost unbelievable. Like Peter Pan who Jackson says he emulates. It was almost like a bad fairy tale. Before we get to exactly what happened, let me just give you a sense of what we‘re talking about happening in court today, all right? Yes, that‘s Michael Jackson. Yes, he‘s wearing pajamas. Yes, he‘s wearing slippers. And yes, he looks completely out of it.
All right. How did we get to this -- 8:30 in the morning court is supposed to—there‘s Tom Mesereau arriving on time at court as usual, taking the usual shot. You know, then he heads into court and the question, of course, is people sitting around, where‘s Michael Jackson? He knows he‘s got to be there on time. He knows that he‘s been late before. He knows that the judge was furious -- 8:35, comes out, the judge says where‘s the defendant?
Well, Tom Mesereau says (UNINTELLIGIBLE) well (UNINTELLIGIBLE) he has a bad back, Your Honor, and he is at the hospital. I got a doctor on the phone. The judge interrupts him and says you‘ve got an hour to get him here. I‘m issuing a warrant for his arrest. Get him to court. I don‘t care about talking to any doctors.
So Jackson‘s got, then, 30 -- he‘s got to go 35 miles in 50 minutes to make it back within an hour. That is what we were doing for about an hour, watching Tom Mesereau frantically talking on the telephone, trying to find out exactly where Michael Jackson is. Where is my client? When is he getting here? Everyone is waiting around.
We‘re wondering if these guys are going to slap the cuffs on Jackson when he gets to court because there‘s a warrant out for Michael Jackson‘s arrest because he hasn‘t shown up at court. All right. Then after the waiting, an hour goes by. He doesn‘t show up. Two minutes after the hour, he emerges. Well, we were wondering whether he was going to show up on a gurney, or if he was going to be carried out of there.
Jackson has enough to wave back to the fans, and he‘s wearing pajama pants and slippers, looking disheveled, walking slowly. There you see getting a little help from his team. Still got the umbrella going. So if one thing we know for certain, even if he‘s got a bad back, he won‘t get a sunburn. And then finally, finally he makes it into the courthouse.
I mean, look at this. That is Michael Jackson in pajamas and slippers going to court today. It—just in case you missed it, we wanted to make sure you could enjoy and savor every moment of this as Jackson heads into court today. And there he is, makes it through the metal detector and heads into court where of course he was welcomed by a young boy who‘s talking about how he molested him.
Oh, my. Joining me now Court TV‘s chief investigative investor and NBC analyst, Diane Dimond, criminal defense attorney, NBC legal analyst Roy Black, criminal defense attorney, NBC analyst Ron Richards, who‘s been there—he was talking to Mesereau. We‘re going to talk to you about what he was saying in a minute—former Essex County Massachusetts‘ prosecutor Bill Fallon and MSNBC analyst and Jackson family friend, Stacy Brown.
All right, Diane, you had a real bird‘s eye view. You were one of two—only two reporter who had a chance to be right next to Jackson as he walked by. I‘m going to ask them to put that video up again. And if you can describe to us, what you said to him, how it went, what he looked like. Give us—set the scene for us.
DIANE DIMOND, COURT TV CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE EDITOR: Well, he looked like a guy in great distress, I‘ll tell you. His pallor was gray. I don‘t know that he had a lot of makeup today, although some of his makeup is cosmetic or tattooed on. But he was shuffling like an old man. He was being helped by his bodyguards and his parents were with him. I was stunned as he came around the corner, and I was standing right outside the door where you go through the metal detector—I was stunned when as he came into view I got a load of those pajama bottoms. It was—I was—I couldn‘t believe my eyes.
I also couldn‘t believe that he hadn‘t—it appeared as though he hadn‘t combed his hair at all. I shouted out to him, Dan, Mr. Jackson, how are you feeling? And he sort of looked over in my direction, but even though we were in the same place on the planet earth, he didn‘t look like he was really there. And then I said are you feeling all right? And he just kept shuffling in.
He went into the courtroom. Fifteen seconds later he comes out to go to the bathroom. And then finally we got in the courtroom where we waited and waited for the judge. The judge made him wait until 10:00 local time.
ABRAMS: All right. I‘m going to ask in the meantime (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to get our sound bites ready from the publicist for Michael Jackson. Because they—she had some sort of explanation as to what happened. But Stacy Brown, you‘ve been speaking to the family today, are they worried that Michael Jackson might do some harm to himself?
STACY BROWN, JACKSON FAMILY FRIEND: Well Dan, I got to tell you, the stress level was raised tremendously today during this whole antics of coming late and the arrest warrant. And there has been some concern. I‘ve got to tell you, yes, a few months ago, and I won‘t say who, just to protect that particular family member, but that person told me, I am worried that he might harm himself.
ABRAMS: I mean he‘s a mess.
BROWN: Yes. There‘s no getting around that. He is a mess. You looked at him today, and you know, I talked to Rebe, his oldest sister today, and she was frantic today.
BROWN: She was very, very upset. She used the word devastated.
ABRAMS: Yes. You know, I talked to a friend who said that he met with Michael Jackson about a year and a half ago and he was saying that Jackson had a cold at the time and was so frail and feeble and—it was like oh I can‘t—I don‘t know how he‘s going to make it through—and the timing, of course. You got to—you know, let me go to Roy Black.
Roy, you know, the timing, of course. You know he gets the flu right before the case is going to start. And now he gets these sudden injuries to his back, et cetera right as the boy is testifying. I mean it doesn‘t look good for Jackson.
ROY BLACK, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well you know it‘s easy to be cynical about that, but as everybody has said there‘s a tremendous amount of stress involved with being on trial whether you‘re the lawyer or God forbid the client...
ABRAMS: How many clients have you had, Roy, who have not shown up to court on more than one occasion because of various ailments? We‘re not talking about getting hit by a car or something like that. But, for example, getting the flu and back problems, et cetera, having to go to the hospital and not reporting to court in the morning?
BLACK: Well, usually what happens you have some warning so you can tell the...
BLACK: ... judge the night before or early in the morning and the judge understands. You know, people can get ill...
BLACK: ... and particularly if you have a bad back. You know what it‘s like if you‘ve...
ABRAMS: I do.
BLACK: ... ever had your back out.
ABRAMS: I do.
BLACK: That‘s very painful. I‘ve been in a case where a judge, where a co-defendant didn‘t show up and he sent the marshals to the hospital and dragged him back to the courtroom, so judges don‘t always take this well.
ABRAMS: But he had enough—look at that—there he goes twisting around and waving to the fans. All right, Ron Richards, what was defense attorney Tom Mesereau—you were talking to him for a good amount of the time as he‘s waiting during that hour, was he saying, you know, was he saying to you, I cannot believe this. This is insane.
RONALD RICHARDS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Dan, you know, I can‘t get into the very specifics of that conversation, but what I can tell you...
ABRAMS: Why not? You don‘t have an attorney-client privilege with him.
RICHARDS: Well, because I was there as a friend and just, you know, this was a personal conversation and this was an unexpected event and all of a sudden, the phone rings, I see his gesticulations and movements and I say oh boy, we‘ve got something live going on here. And Brian Oxman is in the van and lo and behold, we have an unexpected injury while he‘s changing this morning and he had to deal with it. The impact on the defense is it‘s unexpected and it‘s a distraction to Mr. Mesereau.
ABRAMS: Yes, I don‘t know. Let me play—this is Raymone Bain, the spokesperson for Michael Jackson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAYMONE BAIN, JACKSON‘S PUBLICIST: He had no choice. He had no choice. I mean he was suffering from a terrible back spasm. He went to the hospital. They didn‘t release him in time for him to go home so he went from the hospital to the court. And let me say this to you all, Michael Jackson was looking forward to being in the court today. His defense lawyers have done an excellent job in the last eight days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Bill Fallon, you know, look in the end, it seems, if we get the shot of Jackson leaving court, that would be great. In the end, it seems Jackson left unscathed in a sense. Meaning, the judge had made all sorts of threats. Jackson showed up and you know, he‘s now leaving. The bail has not been revoked. Expect—I‘m not surprised; I think it would have been a little bit overkill for the judge to revoke his bail, don‘t you?
WILLIAM FALLON, FORMER ESSEX COUNTY MA PROSECUTOR: Yes and I think it would have been. But this is the last time Jammer (ph) Jackson gets away with this. This is so ridiculous and if anybody has any question about Michael Jackson being able to commit this crime even after the Bashir film, this proves he doesn‘t listen to anybody. It‘s that same person...
FALLON: ... Bashir film. He‘s a nut.
ABRAMS: This proves he did it?
FALLON: I think—I absolutely think it shows that he‘s not playing with a full deck. He doesn‘t live by the rules.
ABRAMS: Yes, that we‘ve known.
FALLON: Any attorney—anybody would have said, call your attorney, get to court, say I‘m sick, but guess what? He thinks he‘s above it and that‘s—I‘m not just looking at Jammer (ph) Jackson being mentally ill because quite frankly I think he is mentally ill and it‘s a sad statement about people who have much worse problems. But he lives by his own rules.
FALLON: Dan, having been castigated by the judge before, what kind of person says I‘m going and I‘m not released. He‘s not in prison arrest in the hospital. And all I‘m saying is when you say Michael Jackson, a normal person wouldn‘t do this, this and this, I think this is evidence that...
ABRAMS: All right...
FALLON: ... he just doesn‘t know what a normal person...
ABRAMS: All right. And again, here‘s another—more explanation from his publicist, Raymone Bain, a couple of hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BAIN: At about 5:15 a.m. this morning, Michael reached out to me, his attorney, his brothers, his family to let us know that he could not move at all. It was advised by his attorneys and others that he go very quickly to the hospital that‘s not far from his residence. It‘s the Santa Ynez Cottage Hospital, which is about maybe 10, 15 minutes away from his ranch. We were hoping that they would give him a muscle relaxant so that he would be able to move.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Diane, am I wrong? It seemed Tom Mesereau didn‘t know exactly what the situation was when he arrived in court this morning.
DIMOND: You know I don‘t believe that he did. And I‘m just speculating, because he was going about putting out his files and what not and didn‘t seem to notice that 8:30 was coming and going and his client wasn‘t there.
DIMOND: I think the shot of the day after Michael Jackson‘s dramatic entrance and his exit today was Tom Mesereau standing right out here on the curve with his cell phone in his hand...
DIMOND: ... looking like a bride waiting for the groom at the altar.
DIMOND: You know, I felt badly for him when he had to stand up and tell the judge, well Your Honor, you‘re right...
DIMOND: ... he‘s not here.
ABRAMS: Yes and then to continue the analogy, he arrives like Cinderella after midnight fearing what he‘s going to turn into.
Very quickly, Ron Richards, Mesereau, did he say anything to you about whether he knew Jackson was going to the hospital?
RICHARDS: I don‘t believe he knew because Brian Oxman was in the car with him and Mesereau is here to win the case and to cross-examine...
ABRAMS: Oh that‘s it?
ABRAMS: So he shouldn‘t be privy to the fact that his client‘s not going to be in court this morning?
RICHARDS: Well, he—it was unexpected and this is at 8:15, Dan...
ABRAMS: All right.
RICHARDS: ... so you can‘t expect him to know this. Brian Oxman is in the van. That‘s what his job is...
ABRAMS: Oh come on...
RICHARDS: ... is to get him to court...
ABRAMS: Yes, oh...
ABRAMS: ... so Brian Oxman...
ABRAMS: Come on.
ABRAMS: Come on. His job—you‘re telling me that Mesereau‘s job doesn‘t involve knowing where his client is? Come on, Ron. I got to take a break...
RICHARDS: I‘ve never...
RICHARDS: I‘ve never made sure clients get to court. That‘s their responsibility. He‘s here to try...
FALLON: He‘s had this problem before and that Jackson doesn‘t tell his attorney it‘s bizarre.
ABRAMS: I got to—I‘m getting killed. I‘ve got to take a break here. Coming back...
ABRAMS: ... we‘re going to talk about this. And coming up later, we‘re going to talk—big testimony today from that boy, the accuser. What he had to say today, testimony getting under way. This is it. This is the crucial testimony in the case. The boy is saying that man, Michael Jackson, sitting only yards away from him, molested him.
And later in the program, we‘re going to talk about the latest in the investigation—a big development, it seems to be, at least into the murder of that judge‘s husband and brother, a man killed himself, left a suicide note claiming responsibility for it. Coming up.
ABRAMS: Coming up, more about the bizarre day in the Michael Jackson case and there was very important testimony as well. The boy accusing Michael Jackson on the witness stand and being cross-examined, got more coverage...
ABRAMS: This was the scene this morning. Michael Jackson, gingerly walking into court in his pajama pants and slippers after having gone to the hospital. Let me read you exactly what Jackson‘s attorney said to the judge when Jackson didn‘t show up for the beginning of court today.
Mr. Jackson is at Cottage Hospital in Santa Ynez with a serious back problem. My understanding—that‘s a live shot, by the way, of Michael Jackson arriving back at Neverland after a full day of court. He won‘t have to be in court tomorrow as they continue with hearings.
All right, let me go back to the video. Michael Jackson is at the—oh, look at the people running. All right. So this is him going into court and this is what his lawyer said. He‘s at the hospital, serious back problem. I understand he‘s on his way in. The doctor does want to talk to you on the phone. That‘s the latest information I have.
The judge‘s response—I‘m going to issue a warrant for his arrest. I‘m forfeiting his bail. I‘m going to hold that order for one hour. In one hour, I‘m going to execute that order. Jackson showed up an hour and two minutes later. The judge decided not to revoke his bail.
Before the break, Ron Richards, you were saying that you don‘t think it‘s Tom Mesereau, his lead defense attorney‘s responsibility to make sure that his client is in court on time even though the judge has admonished the defense team to make sure he is.
RICHARDS: I firmly believe that, Dan. Tom Mesereau is not a baby sitter. Michael Jackson is a grown man. He has a whole entourage. He needs to get to court on time and Tom Mesereau needs to focus on winning the case.
ABRAMS: I don‘t know...
RICHARDS: And I think it‘s too much a burden to make him be his babysitter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well...
BLACK: Dan, can I...
ABRAMS: Yes, Roy, I was go to—yes, go ahead Roy.
BLACK: Listen, I‘ve been in cases like this where you have a team of lawyers. Tom Mesereau has one job—to focus on this witness, concentrate on everything that‘s said and cross-examine with everything you have for the next week. I guarantee you—he‘s not thinking about Michael Jackson or any other kind of problem going on. There are other people to handle that. His only job is to cross-examine and milk every detail, every inconsistency he can find.
FALLON: Roy, but they would let you know...
FALLON: ... Roy, a man of your caliber, an attorney of your caliber, you would know before you got to court if Mr. Famous Jammer (ph) Jackson was not showing up. And that‘s the part that I can‘t get over that they could do all of this machination behind Mesereau‘s back. You‘re right. Mesereau can‘t take care of this guy, but Mesereau is the lead player here who knows his client has to be there or be held, and I just can‘t understand how the whole Jackson team, except they have an alternative reality, hasn‘t told Mesereau by 8:35 when he‘s saying to the court...
FALLON: ... I don‘t know what‘s...
BLACK: That‘s true. They do have...
ABRAMS: Wait. Let me let Roy...
ABRAMS: Let me let Roy respond and then Diane. Go ahead Roy.
BLACK: No. No. Listen, I agree that it is certainly a little insulting not to tell him and there is an alternative reality there. Listen, the man doesn‘t live in reality...
ABRAMS: It‘s the last place you want to be, Roy, is that guy...
BLACK: But Mesereau is not the guy handling...
ABRAMS: All right...
ABRAMS: Diane Dimond...
ABRAMS: Diane Dimond, go ahead.
DIMOND: Yoo-hoo. Yoo-hoo. Can I remind everybody about the elephant in the room here? There was a young boy testifying today that he was molested by Michael Jackson. I mean we‘re still talking about whether or not he was wearing jammies when he got here.
ABRAMS: All right. But the bottom line is...
DIMOND: You know and I think that that was part of the strategy, Dan, is what I‘m getting at, if there was a strategy here. Michael Jackson didn‘t comb his hair all day. He sat there looking disheveled, to make—perhaps the cynical would say and a lot of people here on media row are saying it, all the eyes were on Michael Jackson all day. They weren‘t on that little boy on the stand.
ABRAMS: And Ron, what about that...
ABRAMS: What about looking...
ABRAMS: ... at it from the most cynical way, Ron?
RICHARDS: That‘s absolutely preposterous. It would be unethical and illegal.
ABRAMS: Yes. OK...
RICHARDS: ... Diane is just speculating.
ABRAMS: Let‘s all accept that it would be unethical...
FALLON: Ron, but Jackson could do what he wants and quite frankly, I‘m concerned does anybody but me know he‘s molesting—alleged to have molested this kid in pajamas and he‘s wearing pajamas.
FALLON: If I were the prosecutor I would have said, look around the courtroom. What did Jackson have on and if this kid had any kind of brain...
FALLON: ... he would have said those were the pajamas he had.
ABRAMS: All right.
RICHARDS: Bill, let me get a word in here. He—Jackson, I was behind him in the afternoon. When the cross started, he perked up and started writing notes and I—he was much more lively...
RICHARDS: ... once he felt that he was being vindicated.
ABRAMS: Well, I guess the painkillers probably wore off too, but all right, let me...
ABRAMS: ... let me take a quick break here. When we get back—when we come back, we‘ve got all the quotes. I‘ve got them right here from what happened today in court—the accuser‘s testimony today. How did he do? Everyone is sticking around.
And that‘s the other story we‘re coming by. The judge, family killed, husband, mother. Looks like they may have found the guy dead. The latest on that case coming up as well.
ABRAMS: The accuser in the Michael Jackson case on the witness stand today, completed his direct examination, talked about Jackson serving him liquor, talked about pornography and talked about Jackson molesting him.
I quote. “He told me if I had ever heard of Jesus juice. He told me like you know how Jesus drank wine. We call it Jesus juice. I drank a little bit of it and I told him it tasted ugly. I told him it was bad for me to drink alcohol and he said it was OK and nothing was going to happen.” He‘s talking about the fact that he had cancer and that he had lost a kidney.
He went on. More testimony from the accuser—I was afraid the alcohol would show in my urine, so I told Michael and I asked him what I should do. He said doo-doo—that was nickname for him. Doo-doo, you just don‘t take the test.
Did you drink that night?
We were already in the wine cellar and I had my glass poured.
Did you drink?
Did Mr. Jackson?
And then finally he talked about Jackson molesting him twice and let me warn you, this is graphic, OK. This is specific. It‘s graphic. It‘s a little bit disgusting, so if you don‘t want to hear it, leave the room.
All right, here it is. The prosecutor: Tell the jury how it came about that you and Mr. Jackson were in the bed together.
We just came back from drinking in the arcade. We were in the room for a while. Michael said if men don‘t masturbate, they can get to a level where they can rape a girl. He told me a story. That he saw a boy who didn‘t masturbate and he had sex with a dog. Yuck.
All right. You know, Ron Richards, I think that certainly the direct examination seems to have gone well for the prosecution.
RICHARDS: Well there was one slip-up when he tried to coach the witness who couldn‘t remember his grand jury testimony about Michael Jackson being naked and they went through a very bad machination between the two of them that the jury really was shaking their heads about.
ABRAMS: Yes, but...
RICHARDS: Other than that, it was OK.
ABRAMS: ... that to me falls into one of the categories of, you know, one of those details. It‘s not going to make or break anything. You know, whether Michael Jackson walked in naked, was he aroused? I mean the details—the distinction between what his brother says and he says on that issue to me is not particularly significant.
RICHARDS: Well I‘ll tell you an important detail was the timeline. He pointed out that right after he saw Larry Feldman who referred him to Stan Katz, that‘s when this allegation of molestation...
ABRAMS: You‘ve got to tell us who‘s who...
ABRAMS: You‘ve got to not throw out names. All right, the—you‘re saying that the timeline...
RICHARDS: Larry Feldman...
RICHARDS: ... the timeline that was critical that was pointed out, Larry Feldman is the plaintiff‘s attorney that sued Michael Jackson in 1993. It wasn‘t until after the alleged victim went and saw this plaintiff‘s attorney who referred him to a psychiatrist named Stan Katz...
RICHARDS: ... that‘s when all of a sudden there was some allegations of molestation. That was critical, and he kept—he was very evasive about getting to that point.
ABRAMS: Diane, the defense has a long way to go, though, with this witness.
DIMOND: Well, they do. And we thought that they had a way to go, too, with his sister and the younger brother who were here earlier this week. But Tom Mesereau is good. I mean he digs right in there. However, Dan, I think even Ron Richards would have to admit that he got off to a somewhat acrimonious start. He had a very loud voice with this boy. He was very aggressive. He was hammering the questions so fast that the judge had to ask him to slow down. And it got the boy‘s ire up. Maybe that‘s what Tom Mesereau was trying to do.
ABRAMS: Very quickly...
DIMOND: And he started to call him Mr. Mesereau.
ABRAMS: Very quickly, Roy Black, how hard—I mean he‘s going at this kid hard, but you kind of have to, right?
BLACK: Well, there‘s a difference. You have to go after him, but you don‘t necessarily have to make it look so rough in front of the jury.
BLACK: You can ask tough questions, but you don‘t have to raise your voice. It‘s the questions and the details that make the difference. You don‘t have to yell at a witness.
ABRAMS: All right. We‘re going to take a break. More about the accuser‘s testimony coming up and the cross-examination—they started it, trying to poke some holes in the account. How did it go? We‘ll tell you.
And what looks like a bizarre ending to the investigation of who murdered a judge‘s husband and mother. Forget the white supremacist connection. A man with a grudge may have just been the one who killed the judge himself, leaving a suicide note saying he‘s responsible for the murders.
Your e-mails email@example.com. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: The accuser in the Michael Jackson case on the witness stand. We‘ll tell you exactly how he held up for the beginning of the cross-examination, but first the headlines.
ABRAMS: We‘re talking about a bizarre day in the Michael Jackson case. The accuser on the witness stand. Before that, Michael Jackson almost had—almost arrested. There was a warrant out for his arrest. Finally he showed up in his P.J.‘s and slippers and listened as the accuser testified about Jackson molesting him on two separate occasions and about serving him wine and showing him pornography, et cetera.
All right, let me read from one of the lines of cross-examination. It was about 20 minutes or so of cross-examination, just the beginning of it.
Question from Jackson‘s attorney Tom Mesereau. After you meet with an attorney, you suddenly come up with the story that Michael somehow inappropriately touched you?
Answer: No, because I didn‘t tell the attorney anything about what Michael did or about the alcohol.
You know, Ron, the problem that the defense has here is that really, you know, each and every one of the children have testified, the girl, the sister, the little brother and the boy, all have to be making up these stories, right, out of whole cloth and all have to be sort of sticking to their guns about what happened. Fair?
RICHARDS: That‘s fair.
ABRAMS: And that‘s...
ABRAMS: Go ahead.
RICHARDS: Oh go ahead, Dan.
ABRAMS: No, go ahead.
RICHARDS: Well, I would tell you that that would be fair, but you‘re forgetting one minor thing, not you personally, but the pundits out there that the defense has an entire case that‘s going to show this family acts as a team and they coordinate their stories. They‘ve as a team sought money from individuals. And as a team they‘ve been indignant and have a high level of expectation interest from Michael Jackson. And it was shown on the witness stand today that this boy had a high degree of expectation of things Michael should have been doing for him while he was sick when Michael owed him nothing.
FALLON: You know what? This is going to be the case the grifter versus the groper. That‘s what we call this case and quite frankly, it‘s important, because this is where Mesereau, fine attorney that he is, should be going a little lighter on this boy because the ultimate grifter is Mrs. Grifter, mom grifter, and I think you run the risk of a 13-year-old cancer boy, even what Ron just said, that the cancer victim somehow thought that Michael Jackson owed him something. Well guess what? Michael Jackson he thought was his best friend. The other people who are in his life, be careful how you bash a then 13-year-old. Go after the mother if you‘re the defense.
ABRAMS: And I got to tell you, I think—and I‘m going to read from the grand jury testimony because this is going to come up in the cross-examination of this boy.
The prosecutor asked him all right, you told us about two occasions now. A night and then the next night that Mr. Jackson masturbated you, correct?
Did he do it again?
A second, I think so.
Prosecutor: How many times do you think that happened like that?
Probably about five times.
Then the three times?
Well it feels like if I‘m trying to remember back to kindergarten, it feels kind of dream-like.
That to me seems to be the biggest problem for this boy in terms of his testimony. Diane, you don‘t see that as a real potential problem for the prosecutors?
DIMOND: No, I do. I do see it as a problem. He‘s saying I think I remember three other instances, but I can‘t really grab them out of my brain. Although you know what the prosecution says, Dan. They say that the reason he can‘t grab them out of his brain is because he had too much alcohol. Today we elicited testimony—we heard testimony that talked about that every single night they were at the ranch.
And there was testimony today from this boy—we‘ll see if the jury believes it—that put Michael Jackson in the middle of this conspiracy. He was in a room with Ronald Konitzer and Dieter Wiesner talking to this boy about a plan they had to spin the media back toward Michael Jackson. They talked—he talked about false imprisonment charges. He talked about the attempt of lewd and lascivious behavior to get him to touch Jackson. There was a tremendous amount of negative testimony in there today for Jackson but that doesn‘t mean that Tom Mesereau can‘t turn it around.
ABRAMS: Yes and Roy Black, this is one of those cases where the lawyering really matters. I mean there‘s a lot of cases we talk about where the evidence sort of rains supreme. It seems to me in a case like this, the lawyering ends up becoming crucial.
BLACK: Well there‘s no doubt about it. You know, the tail of this case will be told in the next several days during cross-examination. But Dan, to answer your earlier question about him saying he‘s unsure whether it‘s two times or five times and it‘s somewhat dreamy, what the prosecution could well argue is that if he was making this up and he was coached to do it, he wouldn‘t be saying he wasn‘t sure. He‘d be much more positive. So you know there‘s a flip side to each one of these things...
FALLON: And Dan also I think it‘s important...
FALLON: ... the sister says—the brother comes in and says I don‘t know if he‘s sleeping or not. I think that just as Roy said, you get that. You don‘t lock the kid in. If you‘re going to lock him into a story—I‘m not saying he did or didn‘t do it, but that can be used for both sides.
ABRAMS: I want to know—let me play again. This is the Martin Bashir‘s documentary that the prosecutors say started all of this and here‘s what Jackson said on it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you ever sleep in the bed with them?
MICHAEL JACKSON, ACCUSED OF MOLESTATION: No. But I have slept in the bed with many children. I sleep in the bed with all of them. When Macaulay Culkin was little, Kieran Culkin would sleep on this side, Macaulay Culkin on this side, his sister is in there—we were all just jamming the bed. Then we wake up like dawn and go out in the hot air balloon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FALLON: There‘s something wrong here...
ABRAMS: I mean—yes—all right—I mean I‘m just shaking my head.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will tell you...
ABRAMS: Yes, I‘m shaking my head. Let me just ask...
ABRAMS: Let me just ask Stacy Brown a question.
ABRAMS: Stacy, you‘ve followed Michael Jackson‘s career. You know his family. I mean don‘t they think that there‘s a screw loose?
BROWN: Well they subscribe to the theory that he‘s living out his childhood fantasies. That there‘s nothing sinister, you know, that he‘s—there‘s nothing wrong with...
ABRAMS: Right. I‘m not...
ABRAMS: No, look, I‘m not saying that that doesn‘t mean this family is, you know, possibly making up a story about Michael Jackson, but, you know, this is a big problem. Let me ask this as a legal matter. Bill, you wanted to get in a minute ago, but as a legal matter, this is one of the big problems, is I think a lot of this case is going to be a sense. Do these jurors sense that they believe this kid? Do these jurors sense that Michael Jackson is a child molester?
FALLON: And Dan, you know what? There are two lines here. The case is not really all about the lawyering. It‘s about the ‘93 case, and I think that that—the lawyering (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the ‘93 case is first, but I think you‘re correct about one thing. And if I‘m the prosecutor, and I don‘t know if Sneddon can do this, I would say you know what, 95 percent of what this guy does is great, loving and wonderful. It‘s just he thinks he‘s a kid. He‘s doing sexual experimentation and that‘s the way—only way to win this case...
ABRAMS: All right.
FALLON: ... by saying it‘s not the worst molestation...
ABRAMS: All right.
FALLON: ... but it‘s horrible...
ABRAMS: I‘ve got to wrap it up. Bottom line is that the cross-examination is going to resume on Monday. This cross-examination could make or break this case. We‘ll certainly be on top of it...
ABRAMS: Diane Dimond, good to see you. Thanks a lot. Roy Black, Ron Richards, Bill Fallon, Stacy Brown...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you Dan.
ABRAMS: Thanks to all of you. Appreciate it.
Coming up, a possible break in the murder investigation involving a judge‘s family murdered execution style. A man today commits suicide, reportedly confesses to the crime. We‘ve got exclusive details up next.
ABRAMS: We‘re back. A suicide in Milwaukee has led authorities to believe they may have found the man who murdered a federal judge‘s mother and husband. Milwaukee police conducting a routine traffic stop last night approached the car. The driver fatally shot himself.
NBC‘s Kevin Tibbles joins us from Chicago with the details. Hey Kevin.
KEVIN TIBBLES, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi Dan. Well the man in that car left a suicide note claiming that he was the murderer in this case, but police tonight are saying they‘re no closer to closing this case.
TIBBLES (voice-over): It was a routine traffic stop. A van with no taillights. An officer in a Milwaukee suburb pulled it over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of a sudden the gunshot came out. Felt the concussion. Glass hit me in the face.
TIBBLES: The driver had killed himself. Inside the van a suicide note police say may link the driver, Bart Ross, to the brutal February 28 Chicago murders of federal Judge Joan Lefkow‘s husband and mother.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We‘re satisfied that there is information in the letter that would point us to Ross having been in the Lefkows‘ house that day.
TIBBLES: Ross, it turns out, had a $1 billion malpractice suit thrown out of court in January. The judge—Joan Lefkow. Representing himself in a 131-page complaint, Ross ranted against the legal system, which he claimed evolved into a Nazi style system dominated by a terrorist network of the al Qaeda, et cetera style and magnitude.
At first, speculation centered on a white supremacist group whose leader the judge had recently ruled against. Police now say Ross resembles a composite drawing released from that day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His name was on a list of cases that Judge Lefkow had handled.
TIBBLES: And as police were investigating the connection between the suicide in Milwaukee and the murders in Chicago, this letter signed by Ross arrived at WMAQ, NBC‘s Chicago affiliate. The signature matches the legal documents. In a rambling handwritten portion, Ross admits to the killings, saying he was hiding in the Lefkows‘ basement.
But Mr. Lefkow discovered me in the utility room about 9:00 a.m. I had no choice but to shoot him straight. Then I heard a voice and saw an older woman. I had to shoot her too. I followed with a second shot to the head in both cases to minimize their suffering.
Then Ross lays out his motive. Judge Lefkow was number one to kill because she finished me off and deprived me to live my life through the outrageous abuse of judicial power.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are attempting to learn as much as we possibly can about Bart Ross‘s history.
TIBBLES (on camera): And a lot of that history involved the courts. Ross suffered from cancer and for more than 12 years filed document after document accusing his doctors and lawyers of malpractice and misrepresentation.
(voice-over): Still tonight, police say their investigation is far from over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This case is by no means closed.
TIBBLES: Until DNA analysis is completed, investigators won‘t say for certain who was responsible for these cold-blooded killings.
TIBBLES: And Dan, police are also saying that there were a lot of other names in the rantings and ravings of Mr. Ross, perhaps tonight some doctors and lawyers in the town of Chicago should be feeling a little bit lucky that Mr. Ross killed himself when he did.
ABRAMS: But Kevin, if the information in the letters that he was referring to was so specific and the—you heard the police chief there talking about the fact that something maybe only the killer would know, he was clearly in the house that day, why are they making it seem like there‘s still a huge mystery out there?
TIBBLES: Well I guess it‘s a matter of crossing the T‘s and dotting the I‘s or what have you. It was mentioned to me earlier today, you know, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, why don‘t you just call it what it is? This man—clearly his picture came out of the composite drawings here. He has admitted to it in the notes that he wrote. In his ravings in the suicide note, for example, he mentioned it.
But I‘m assuming because there was so much publicity surrounding this case, because obviously it was such a high-profile case, such a brutal case, the murder of a judge‘s husband and mother that the police want to make absolutely sure that they have the right person here. Of course, there was the whole white supremacist angle on the side.
I think the police here just want to make absolutely sure with the DNA and fingerprint evidence that indeed Mr. Ross was the person behind this. But as you just mentioned, it looks like there‘s no doubt that he isn‘t the guy.
ABRAMS: All right, Kevin Tibbles, thanks a lot.
TIBBLES: OK Dan.
ABRAMS: Coming up, why today‘s spectacle in front of the courtroom at the Michael Jackson case is a very good reason why lawyers may want to think twice about representing celebrities. It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
ABRAMS: Coming up, why the Michael Jackson case shows that representing celebrity clients isn‘t always what it‘s cracked up to be. It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—as all heck broke loose at the Santa Maria courthouse this morning, the media going wall to wall with the search for Michael Jackson, the judge issuing a bench warrant for Jackson‘s arrest, Jackson finally showing up in his P.J.‘s looking disheveled and out of it, but in the midst of all of it, you had to feel sorry for one person in particular, the one guy who seemed to be out of the loop, the one guy who probably should have known exactly what was going on—Thomas Mesereau, Jackson‘s attorney. No defense attorney wants to be seen on live television pacing back and forth, trying to find his client on the same morning that the prosecution‘s star witness is about to take the stand and then trying to explain to it an irritable judge that your superstar client tried to make contact before court started, that he really has a bad back and he is at the hospital and that you quote—“understand he might be on his way to court.”
Look Mesereau has been there before. Last year he abruptly quit as attorney for Robert Blake after Blake refused to take his advice on a variety of issues. The “Baretta” actor is on trial for murder, has been known to break into spontaneous song outside the courthouse. He went through four lawyers before his trial started.
And Mesereau is not the only high profile lawyer to be baffled by the behavior of a celebrity client. Attorney Robert Shapiro gained international fame representing O.J. Simpson. By the end of the case, he was marginalized in favor of Johnnie Cochran. Then Shapiro briefly represented music producer Phil Spector. Spector liked to show up in court in long matrix like coats, bright colored fedoras and high-heel boots. Spector ended up firing Shapiro and then sued him to get his $1 million fee returned. Spector is now on his fourth lawyer.
You have to wonder if Mesereau is kicking himself today for taking the case. He knew Jackson was going to be a volatile client. Jackson had already fired two other prominent attorneys, P. Diddy‘s attorney Ben Brafman and Scott Peterson‘s attorney Mark Geragos before hiring Mesereau. You know celebrities are often used to playing by their own rules. One celebrity attorney told AP this past fall, celebrities wouldn‘t accept a bad table at a restaurant or a room without a view in a hotel.
They‘re not going to accept a lawyer who is not up to their expectations, whatever expectations means. But big-time defense lawyers are also used to making the rules. Defending your client is one thing, having to provide a judge with letters from the school nurse is a whole different ballgame.
Coming up in 60 seconds, call it comic relief. Despite a gag order, Jay Leno offering some Michael Jackson jokes with a little help. Coming up.
ABRAMS: I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. Michael Jackson showed up a little over an hour late at his trial today after making a visit to the hospital, complaining of back pain.
Patricia DeFrancesco, “Who does Michael Jackson think he is? What a wuss. First he has the flu, now his back hurts. Poor baby. He‘s been so coddled all his life. Just get your butt to court, face the music, and get it over with.”
And while slowly making his way to court with an escort, Jackson found enough strength to turn and wave to the fans cheering him.
Dr. Jay Ouellet or Ouellet in Canada doesn‘t buy it. “As a practicing chiropractor, it would be totally impossible with a severe back pain for Michael Jackson to spin around and wave to his fans as he did today walking towards the courtroom. His rotational momentum would have caused him to seize up in enormous spasm.”
Jackson‘s accuser on the stand recalled what he says occurred at the grand jury, seemed confused about how many times he was molested. Some of you who say you‘ve been there, been molested have thoughts.
Cathy writes, “I was molested from the age of 4 to 11 and by molestation in many, many, several different ways. I remember everything, every detail, time and place, you knew it—you name it. I believe these kids are liars and give the people who are really molested a bad rap.”
But Mara from Absecon, New Jersey. “As a survivor of child molestation, I can tell you what happened, but not necessarily how many times. You seem to be unable to see the human factor. The memories are dream-like.”
Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com. We go through them at the end of the show. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.
All right. “OH PLEAs!”—in honor of the Michael Jackson festivities today, we decided not to highlight the daily dose of dumb criminals or legal laughs. Instead, we thought a montage of Jackson jokes from last night‘s “Tonight Show” written by a gagged Jay Leno and delivered by Carrot Top say it better than we could.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey guess what? You know when it‘s bedtime at Michael Jackson‘s house? When the big hand is on the little hand. We all know that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today Michael Jackson told the jury that he actually likes 38-year-olds and what he meant was 30, 8-year-olds. Come on...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is disturbing. The new sandwich. Have you heard of the McJackson sandwich? It‘s 46-year-old meat between 13-year-old buns.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got the props, too...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... evidence right from the Michael Jackson...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh this is evidence. Here we go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this—you know his mug shot keeps changing so it has to match his mug shot. They just keep putting...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I don‘t know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They found a bottle of wine in Michael Jackson‘s house...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is really good Cabaret Mr. Jackson, very good...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was that...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, this is great. This is Michael Jackson‘s new mask. Have you seen it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I better go now. I better go now...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Carrot Top, ladies and gentlemen...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Oh, my. All right. Coming up at 9:00 p.m. tonight Eastern Time on MSNBC, a special edition of the program. We‘ve got a one-hour special on the Jackson case.
Then at 10:00, another ABRAMS REPORT special. We‘re going to be dealing in large part there with the case of that judge whose family was killed. The question of course is, is the case closed? We‘ll do some Jackson in there too, so come back in prime time. See you then.
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