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Countdown with 'Countdown'


Emotional verdicts — One case garnered non-stop national attention.  The other, as it played out, barely made headlines.  Both were crimes of passion.  And both pitted a husband as a defendant and a wife as a murder victim.  California courtrooms were full of emotion today…  former TV ‘Baretta’ star faced one count of first degree murder in the shooting death of his wife Bonnie Lee Bakley and two counts of soliciting murder and a special count of lying in wait.  Bakley was gunned down outside a restaurant back in May 2001.  A jury found the 71-year-old actor not guilty….No such luck for another man in a California court today.  Superior Court for the deaths of his wife, Laci, and their unborn son, Connor.  There was nothing anticlimactic about the scene that unfolded in the courtroom.  Laci Peterson's mother, Sharon Rocha, spoke in court, and trembled as she raged against Scott, calling him an "evil murderer.”  Scott's parents were not allowed to speak, but his father yelled at Laci's brother from the gallery and stormed out of the courtroom.

Politics and war on terror — It reads like a Hollywood action thriller.  Twelve different ways terrorists might attack America, each one more frightening than the last.  But the list doesn't come from the imagination of a screenwriter.  It was put together by the government agency charged with protecting the country.  According to the , President Bush requested the report 15-months ago after the Homeland Security Department was criticized by Congress for failing to focus its resources on high-risk targets.  Here are some of the doomsday scenarios that the Homeland Security folks came up with:  Should terrorists blow up a chlorine tank, more than 17,000 people would be killed and 100,00 more injured; spreading pneumonic plague in the bathrooms of an airport, train station, and a sports stadium, kill 2,500 and make 8,000 sick; spraying anthrax from a truck passing through five American cities would expose 350,000 and killing about 13,000….But, insurgent attacks didn't keep the .  That country's members of Parliament gathered as a freely-elected body for the first time in 50 years.  The meeting began despite a series of bomb explosions nearby.  President Bush praised their efforts in a news conference today.

Searching for Jessica — She was last seen 21 days ago when her grandmother tucked her into bed at the family's Florida home.  Today, the search for nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford continues.  Officials say .  That man has now been identified as 46-year-old John Evander Couey.  He lived about two miles north of the child’s home but sometimes stayed with relatives who live closer to her house.  Couey was last seen in Savannah, Georgia.  Jessica's parents and grandparents say they do not know the man.

Da Vinci don’t — Dan Brown’s hit book, ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ created a huge buzz for the faithful and faithless.  After topping the best-seller lists for over two years, a movie is even in the works starring Tom Hanks.  But after this smashing success…now... NOW .  Much of the Christian community expressed outrage when the fictional book hit stores back in May of 2003 for implicating the Church in a deadly conspiracy stretching back centuries.  One Vatican cardinal, it seems, just got the memo.  He admits he may have "arrived too late," but is nonetheless calling on Catholics to avoid the thriller like "rotten food," dubbing it "a sack full of lies."  The controversy over the ‘Code’ continues.

Jackson (x 2) — If you haven't mentioned it even in passing conversation over the course of the past year and four months, well then — allow me to welcome you back from the ashram.  How are ya chakras doing?  Are you spiritually centered?  Not anymore.  It's your entertainment and tax dollars in action: Day 485 of the Michael Jackson investigations.  Today's testimony primarily centered around the November 2003 raid of Jackson's Neverland Ranch with various investigators taking the stand to catalogue the amount and variety of pornography seized during their search.  The focus of the day was unchanged — the defense hit hard on the equally varied inconsistencies in the accuser's statements regarding the alleged molestation he suffered at the hands of Michael Jackson.  More contradictions in the boy's testimony came from outside the courtroom today.  with a potential witness for the defense, Jay Leno. On the stand yesterday, the 15-year-old accuser testified he'd never spoken to Leno directly.  But, in what appears to be a statement to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's department, Mr. Leno had a different story... It turns out the two Jacksons — — share more than just their last names.  According to the pop singer's spokesperson, Jackson begins everyday at 4:30 a.m., with a call to his spiritual advisor, the Reverend Jesse Jackson.