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'The Abrams Report' for April 12

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

Guest:  Chris Dudley, Gordon Crews, David Dalition, Meg Bakich, Lela Henke-Dobroth, Jim Moret, Bill Fazio, Mercedes Colwin

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up, Georgia police have just tracked down a suspected double murderer and rapist after a nationwide manhunt. 


ABRAMS (voice-over):  Stanko got out of prison last year and wrote about his experiences there in a book.  Now police say he killed his girlfriend, raped a teenager, then killed a 74-year-old man in South Carolina before going on the run. 

Plus, the authorities reopen a cold case.  The question—was this woman poisoned by her husband five years ago?  A former D.A. says yes, he did it to get out of their marriage, but he denies it. 

And did someone brainwash Michael Jackson‘s accuser?  His stepfather tells jurors when the boy came back from Neverland it looked like someone had done just that. 

The program about justice starts now.


ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket tonight, captured—

Stephen Stanko, suspected of killing two and sexually assaulting a third all within 24 hours is arrested after being on the run.  He was believed to be armed and dangerous since this weekend.  Henry Turner‘s body was found early Saturday morning at his home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, when neighbors called police about a suspicious car in his driveway. 

The car belonged to Stanko‘s girlfriend, Laura Ling, who it turns out was killed Friday morning in the home the couple shared.  The suspected killer, Stephen Stanko.  Officers checked Turner‘s home and found him dead, the victim of a single gunshot wound.  The suspect, Stephen Stanko.

And just this past July Stanko was released for serving 8 ½ years of a 10 year sentence for kidnapping.  While in prison he co-wrote a book called “Living in Prison” with the help of two professors.  We‘ll hear from one of those professors in a moment, but first I‘m joined by Chris Dudley with the U.S. Marshals Office, the agency that assumed the lead in the search for Stephen Stanko.  The marshals had offered a $10,000 reward for any information.

Mr. Dudley, thanks very much for coming on the program.  All right, what can you tell us about the actual arrest, apparently no fight, right? 

CHRIS DUDLEY, U.S. MARSHALS SERVICE:  That‘s right.  When deputy marshals and some task force officers that were working with us approached Stanko, he did not put up a fight, that‘s right. 

ABRAMS:  How did you find him?  I mean he was in Augusta in a shopping mall.  Did you get tipped off? 

DUDLEY:  Well we had this investigation—obviously, we were contacted Saturday morning by Georgetown County Sheriff‘s Office and Horry County Sheriff‘s Office in South Carolina.  We immediately put out a nationwide effort to try to capture the suspect.  We had leads going all over the place and some of the leads led us to Augusta, South Carolina. 

We employed every tool we have in our kit to capture him, including our technical operations group, our surveillance folks, everything that we need to get him.  We did have some leads in Augusta and we also did have some help from the general public in this case. 

ABRAMS:  He seemed to be wearing a suit when he was arrested there, is that right? 

DUDLEY:  Yes.  I understand he was wearing a suit, was well dressed. 

I don‘t know why.

ABRAMS:  What can you tell us about the crimes?  I mean why is everyone so convinced that he is linked to these three crimes? 

DUDLEY:  I don‘t have the details on the evidence that led them to Stanko, other than the fact that obviously he was residing at one of the residences where the first murder took place.  I can say that when we captured him today, he was in the black Mazda pickup truck that belonged to Mr. Turner.

ABRAMS:  And his house was searched, right?  Authorities found all sorts of articles on killers, Jeffrey Dahmer, the Green River killer, military snipers, et cetera. 

DUDLEY:  As far as I know, that‘s right.  I don‘t have the details on that.  But this gentleman just got out of prison for serving time for kidnapping and assault.  We‘ve seen this time and time again where people don‘t change their stripes. 

ABRAMS:  Do you think someone is going to be getting this reward?  I mean you know, this is a guy who we have been talking about a lot and hearing about a lot for the past few days, a $10,000 reward for information is that expected to be paid out? 

DUDLEY:  Absolutely, if we determine that the tip led directly to his arrest.  I don‘t know that at this time.  His arrest just took place at 3:30 this afternoon, then absolutely we‘ll pay the reward. 

ABRAMS:  Finally, can you just sort of set the stage for me as to how the arrest occurred?  I mean this is someone who I know you were concerned was armed and dangerous.  Can you lay out for me how he was discovered, surrounded, et cetera? 

DUDLEY:  Yes.  The Marshal Service in conjunction with the Richmond County Sheriff‘s Office and some task force officers from Atlanta, regional task force, working with those folks, established surveillance on a pickup truck which they located in a mall parking lot.  Stanko came out of a business, I‘m not sure which one, and as he approached the vehicle, our officers took him down.  We are trained to do this.  We do this all the time.  So had he tried to put up a fight, we generally don‘t give them time to react, so... 

ABRAMS:  Sounds like you did real good work here as the U.S. Marshals Office often does and always does, my experience.  Chris Dudley, thanks a lot for coming on the program. 

DUDLEY:  Thanks Mr. Abrams.  Appreciate you having me. 

ABRAMS:  While serving a sentence for kidnapping, Stephen Stanko co-authored a book on prison life called “Living in Prison: A History of the Correctional System With an Insider‘s View”.  Joining me now is criminologist Gordon Crews, one of the co-authors of the book.  He joins me on the phone. 

All right, Mr. Crews, I know you didn‘t really know Mr. Stanko personally, but tell me about your experience in writing this book with him. 

GORDON CREWS, CO-AUTHOR, “LIVING IN PRISON” (via phone):  Well, we spent I guess a better part of three years working on it, and the book that actually had been published was kind of like the forced—fourth version of the book.  And I‘ve never met him face to face, but we worked through his mother and e-mail and phone calls. 

ABRAMS:  Are you surprised that he gave up without a fight? 

CREWS:  Yes.  Actually, I‘ve been traveling, so I just heard the report at the moment.  Just the little I heard that yes, they may have caught him off guard.  I would have thought—I didn‘t know much about—if he would have put up a fight, I was thinking he might have been more, you know, self-destructive. 

ABRAMS:  How much did he hate prison? 

CREWS:  He hated it.  That‘s very true.  He hated it a lot.  And he—you know, very intelligent has been reported, very articulate.  He could, you know—he knew what he was going through and what the other inmates were going through and he was trying to, you know, have a voice to express that outside of the prison. 

ABRAMS:  Did he suffer from mental disorders, as far as you knew? 

CREWS:  No, sir, I didn‘t, none that I know of.  You know, there was reports about him being depressed after his—you know, after his release, which was just kind of natural of, you know, any offenders, you know ex-offenders.  You know, couldn‘t find a job, places to live, trying to build a relationship with, you know, a violent history like that.  It was just kind of natural depression.

ABRAMS:  When did you last speak to him and what did he say? 

CREWS:  We spoke right before—I guess it was in the late fall.  And we spoke about the—you know, depression he was experiencing and things like that.  And that you know he was trying to rebuild his life, but in his words, every time he turned around, he was getting, you know, slapped down. 

ABRAMS:  How was he able to write a book from prison?  Was that allowed, permitted by the prison? 

CREWS:  Well it was, to be honest, that‘s kind of the interesting part.  You know he, of course, was in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Department of Corrections, what they figured out that he was working on, a manuscript and with an author and had a contract, they basically were trying to shut him down.  They took away his computer privileges.  They took away his typewriter, and the way we actually did the first draft of that book was he would essentially almost smuggle out, you know, pieces of the manuscript through his mother and she would send them to me and we, you know I put the book together, you know his part starting that way. 

ABRAMS:  Are you now in retrospect sorry you got involved with this guy? 

CREWS:  Well no, I tell you the—you know it‘s still very interesting.  He‘s got a lot more to say than I think what our book actually says at this point.  And, you know, there‘s a lot more that he can tell us about, you know, being locked up and what he experienced. 

ABRAMS:  But do we care? 

CREWS:  Well, that‘s the point.  You know I mean, you know, whatever academic that you know, supposed to care, you know we‘re supposed to see, you know, what makes people tick, what impact is incarceration having?  You know one of his big things was you know there is no rehabilitation, there‘s no—you know, it‘s just warehousing men and women...

ABRAMS:  Yes...

CREWS:  ... and then boom, you throw them back on the street. 

ABRAMS:  Well I‘m going to cut it of because I‘d hate to think that sort of what he‘s done here is going to allow him to publicize whatever concerns that he feels about the prison system...

CREWS:  ... very true...

ABRAMS:  ... because it shouldn‘t be the way to do it.  I‘m not suggesting that‘s what you‘re doing.  I‘m suggesting that‘s what he is doing and I don‘t want to allow it.  So Gordon Crews, thanks a lot for coming on the program. 

CREWS:  All right.  Thank you. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, California police reopen the cold case of a seemingly healthy woman who collapsed and died five years ago.  Her parents hired a former D.A. who says her husband poisoned her so he could get out of their marriage.  We talk to the woman‘s family next. 

And Michael Jackson‘s accuser‘s stepfather takes the stand, telling jurors he felt like someone may have brainwashed his stepson at Neverland.

Plus, a 10-year-old home alone when a burglar breaks in.  We‘ve got his incredible 911 call. 

Your e-mails  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.



ABRAMS:  Was it murder?  Five years ago Linda Adanalian, a former college cheerleader and mother of four seemed healthy one day, but then collapsed, passed out and died the next.  Along with her kids, she left behind a husband who according to her family seemed—quote—“gleeful she was gone.”  The cause of her death was disputed for years, but now thanks to an investigation launched by her parents, this cold case is starting to heat up. 

NBC‘s James Hattori has the story.


JAMES HATTORI, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Georgia and Jane Dalition have endured five years of uncertainty after the death of their daughter, Linda. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She was a stunningly beautiful child and grew up to be a loving, warm, caring woman and a wonderful mother. 


HATTORI:  In 2000, Linda Adanalian was a 37-year-old mother of four, a former college athlete who kept in good shape, so her family was shocked when she inexplicably collapsed in front of a Fresno church and died in an emergency room two hours later. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I knew that something was wrong immediately. 

HATTORI (on camera):  The family‘s shock turned to suspicion when a corner later changed Linda‘s cause of death from undetermined to acute selenium toxicity, indicating she was poisoned. 

(voice-over):  The Dalitions hired a former prosecutor to investigate who concluded Linda was killed by her husband, Mark Adanalian, to end their troubled marriage.  He has long denied being involved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Truth is my defense. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mark Adanalian is adamant that he had nothing to do with her death. 

HATTORI:  Adanalian‘s attorney says experts still disagree about what killed Linda; one possibility a heart attack. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Our position is that she was not poisoned.  She died of a natural type death. 

HATTORI:  Fresno police have reopened the case but so far no charges or suspect. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We‘re seeking the justice Linda deserves. 

HATTORI:  Hoping for answers after years of doubt. 

James Hattori, NBC News, San Francisco. 


ABRAMS:  David Dalition is Linda‘s brother.  Meg Bakich is Linda‘s sister, and Lela Henke-Dobroth is a former Ventura County district attorney who prepared an 88-page report on this case.  She says it demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that Mark Adanalian is responsible for his wife‘s murder and must be held accountable.

I want to say we asked Mark Adanalian and his attorney, Donald Fischbach, to come on the show.  Mr. Fischbach said he was unable because of scheduling problems and that Mark Adanalian he said has M.S. and was too sick to appear.

All right.  First, let me ask you Mr. Dalition, why is the family so convinced that the husband was behind this? 

DAVID DALITION, LINDA ADANALIAN‘S BROTHER:  Well, Dan, from the very beginning this was a highly suspicious death.  Linda was vibrant, healthy, she was 37 years old, she was in a terrible marriage, she expressed fears for her life, not only to her family but to friends.  And just weeks before her death, she told two friends that she was afraid of her husband and if anything should happen to her, they should be suspicious of Mark. 

After she died, Mark‘s behavior only increased everyone‘s suspicions.  He was outwardly happy, medications were taken out of the house shortly after her death and he opposed to the exhumation and he tried to suppress any forensic inquiry into Linda‘s death, trying to convince everybody that she just suffered some sort of natural cause death, which he couldn‘t identify.

ABRAMS:  And Meg, you had a conversation with someone who said to you something along the lines of, you know, that Mark had said something threatening to your sister? 

MEG BAKICH, LINDA ADANALIAN‘S SISTER:  Well, Linda actually feared for her life and predicted her own murder.  Three weeks prior to her death she told me and friends that she feared Mark had the potential of killing her and if anything should happen to her, to look at Mark. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Ms. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)  let me go through some of the facts with you, because the allegation here is that there was poisoning.  And I, you know, I‘ve heard you all say that it is unequivocal that this was death by selenium, a type of poison. 

Let me read you this.  This is our number nine here and I want to ask you if this is accurate because this is essentially the argument that the husband makes, is that there are conflicting reports as to whether there was even poisoning.  A cardiac pathologist said a heart disorder might be the most likely cause of death.  After a second autopsy, toxicologists and selenium experts disagreed on the cause of death.  A forensic pathologist concluded selenium poisoning killed Linda.  But the coroner, Dr. Mark Hadden ruled the cause of death was unsure.  Then the coroner, Loralee Cervantes ruled that selenium poisoning was the cause of death, but did not rule it a homicide. 

So, it sounds when I read that off as if there is some conflict as to whether she was even poisoned.

LELA HENKE-DOBROTH, FORMER VENTURA COUNTY D.A.:  Well we feel very, very strongly, and the family feels very, very strongly that the experts who have opined that Linda died from selenium toxicity, that is selenium poisoning, are absolutely correct.  Her clinical presentation when she collapsed and was taken to the hospital is totally inconsistent with any type of heart attack, any type of heart problems. 

ABRAMS:  So why the conflicting reports, then? 

HENKE-DOBROTH:  Well, I can tell you this the pathologist, Dr. Su (ph), who conducted the first autopsy, concluded that you couldn‘t determine how Linda died or why she died.  That is very suspect in and of itself.  Her heart was very healthy.  There was nothing wrong with this woman that they could find pathologically. 

Once he—the body was exhumed and as David said, Mark Adanalian vigorously opposed her exhumation and any type of forensic investigation into the cause of her death, stating he really didn‘t care why she died, he had other things to think about.  But once her body was exhumed and there was further toxicological studies, it was clear that she died of selenium poisoning.  And that just simply cannot be disputed.  Her heart was examined by many cardiologists, experts in the field who simply say that is not so.  She had a healthy heart. 

ABRAMS:  Let me read from the statement from the attorney for Mark Adanalian, Donald Fischbach.  Mr. Adanalian is adamant he had nothing to do with the death of his wife.  In addition, independent consultants obtained by the coroner‘s office in Fresno County, California, have reached conflicting conclusions whether Linda was even poisoned.  Additionally, two different coroners from the county of Fresno reached different conclusions as to the cause of death.  Thus, there is a significant question as to the cause of Linda‘s death and there is no evidence linking her death to her husband, Mark. 

Mr. Dalition, I know you‘re also a lawyer, but I get the sense that the family, apart of the debates about the science here, the family just had a feeling, it sounds like, the moment this happened that it must be Mark. 

DALITION:  Well, Dan, first of all, there is no debate about the cause of death.  Very clearly the Fresno County coroner‘s autopsy report states that Linda died of selenium poisoning and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of death is homicide. 

ABRAMS:  So...


ABRAMS:  ... who are the other experts who are being cited as to you know saying that they‘re not sure. 

DALITION:  The state of California has issued a death certificate citing Linda‘s immediate cause of death as selenium poisoning.  So to the extent that Mr. Adanalian or his attorneys want to create red herrings to try to come up with other causes of death, those are spurious.  It‘s clear that she died of selenium poisoning.  There‘s no question about that.

In their efforts to come up with other causes of death, they‘ve had many.  At the emergency room right after Linda died, the emergency room doctor asked Mark, did she have any prior symptoms?  Mark said no.  Thirty minutes later he came back and told that same emergency doctor, and this is documented in the medical records, that Linda had had chest and left radiating arm pain for the past two to three days.  There‘s absolutely nothing to support this, including Linda‘s own words in the emergency room where she never reported this to the doctors as they desperately tried to save her. 

ABRAMS:  There is also an allegation that he was practicing his golf swing, apparently, next to Linda‘s open casket at a viewing or something? 

DALITION:  Absolutely, Dan.  His conduct was a dead giveaway to anybody who loved Linda, anybody who—that knew Linda, who came to the house or the funeral afterwards, watched Mark and it was—you were unable to reconcile the way he was acting with the actions of what you would expect from any husband. 

ABRAMS:  Lela, let me—what about this business about Mark has M.S.  now?  I mean that was the reason we were given by his attorney as to why he couldn‘t come on the program. 

HENKE-DOBROTH:  I understand that that‘s the reason he gives. 

ABRAMS:  Do you not believe it? 

HENKE-DOBROTH:  I have no idea personally what Mark‘s present physical condition is.  I do know that around 1998, he was diagnosed with M.S.  I don‘t know what his present condition is so I can‘t speak to that issue. 

ABRAMS:  Meg, give me a sense of the conversations that you had with your sister in the weeks, the months before she died.  What was she saying about her relationship, about the kids, et cetera? 

BAKICH:  Well they were in a very bad marriage.  By Mark‘s own admission, the last six months of their marriage were living hell.  And Linda expressed that to me.  She expressed to me that she feared for her life from Mark and that if anything should happen to her, to look to Mark.  And I think Linda was planning on leaving.  She was making preparatory steps to do so.  She had hidden money.  She had hidden tapes.  She was doing all the necessary things to leave.  She just didn‘t get the chance to do so. 

ABRAMS:  She specifically said to you, if anything happens to me, look at Mark? 

BAKICH:  Dan, the first words out of my mouth when I heard that Linda had died, were oh, my god, he killed her.  Immediately I knew this was not right.  I had left her 10 days prior to this happening.  She was healthy.  She was vibrant.  She was a young, beautiful mother.  She was in the process of raising four very special and unique children.  And she was poisoned and her life was taken from her and she was taken from her four babies.  And she pointed to Mark Adanalian.  She predicted her own murder and she told us who did it. 


ABRAMS:  Lela, very quickly, are you expecting the police to act on this?  Because so far they‘re just saying the investigation is open. 

HENKE-DOBROTH:  Well we‘ve been hearing that the investigation is open for five years.  And we absolutely at this point—and you know as a former prosecutor—and by the way, I was not hired by the family.  I‘m doing this pro bono.  And when I did the report, I was employed as a chief deputy with the Ventura County District Attorney‘s Office.  But as a former prosecutor, we don‘t like to get into confrontations or disputes with law enforcement.  But I have to tell you in 24 years as a prosecutor, I was appalled at the lack of interest, and in fact, thwarting much of the investigation. 

ABRAMS:  All right.

HENKE-DOBROTH:  We truly hope that they will take this seriously...

ABRAMS:  All right.  I‘ll tell you what we‘re going to do, I didn‘t know about this case until I met all of you in the greenroom at the “Today” show today, but I‘ve now researched it and I—we‘re going to continue to follow it.  So please keep us updated on whatever happens in this investigation.  And we‘ll stay on top of it.  Thanks a lot for coming on the program. 

HENKE-DOBROTH:  We appreciate that very much.  Thank you. 

BAKICH:  Thank you.

DALITION:  Thank you Dan. 

ABRAMS:  Coming up, the stepfather of Michael Jackson‘s accuser takes the stand, telling jurors his family was virtually held hostage at Neverland where his stepson may have been brainwashed. 

And a 10-year-old home sick when a burglar breaks into his house. 


UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:   I think someone is trying to break into my house.


UNIDENTIFIED CHILD:   I think someone is trying to break into my house.  They are banging on the door.

(END 911 CALL)

ABRAMS:  We‘ve got his dramatic 911 call.

Your e-mails  Please include your name and where you‘re writing from.  I respond at the end of the show.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, the Michael Jackson trial, the accuser‘s stepfather details how his family was allegedly held hostage at Neverland.  First the headlines. 



MICHAEL JACKSON, ACCUSED OF MOLESTATION:  We have guest units, but whenever kids come here, they always want to stay with me.  They never want to stay in the guest—and I have never invited them in my room.  They always just want to stay.  They say can I stay with you tonight?  I go if it‘s OK with your parents, yes you can. 


ABRAMS:  Who wouldn‘t want to stay there?  The mother of a boy paid millions by Michael Jackson for his silence said it was Jackson who sobbed as he begged her to let her son sleep in his bed.  And on the stand today the stepfather of the current accuser told jurors he noticed a change in the teen‘s behavior when he returned from Neverland for the last time after the alleged abuse took place. 

The stepfather saying—quote—“it appeared to me he had been brainwashed by someone.  He‘d become mean.  He was using curse words.  He had never done that before.”  The stepfather said the problems with Jackson started after the airing of that damaging documentary in which Jackson admitted to sharing his bed with children.  He says the family was then pressured to make a video praising Jackson, were even offered a house, college education and tutoring. 

Jim Moret, attorney and senior correspondent for “Inside Edition” was in court today.  So Jim, how powerful? 

JIM MORET, “INSIDE EDITION” SENIOR CORRESPONDENT:  Dan, I characterize today as major discomfort.  The U.S. Army major who was on the stand was very stoic, very stern, very in control on the direct examination.  On cross-examination you saw this person rock in his chair, pull at his collar, drink an almost entire quart of water.  Why?  Because there was an audio tape that was once again played for this jury. 

And that tape was prepared by an investigator for then Michael Jackson‘s attorney.  And in this tape the mother and the son, the accuser, the sister were all extolling the virtues of Michael Jackson.  And you know we heard this a few weeks ago, but you hear it again and you get a new perspective into this family that the defense is telling you are basically grifters. 

ABRAMS:  And the bottom line, Jim, is that the stepfather—there was a question as to whether the stepfather was there, right, when this tape was being made. 

MORET:  Well there were inconsistent statements.  In the Santa Barbara grand jury, the stepfather said he was there for the entire interview.  Today he told the jurors he was only in and out.  He didn‘t really hear anything and he in fact didn‘t know that this person making the tape was a representative of Michael Jackson. 

One interesting thing, though, Dan, the mother calls for help.  She said she was at a nail salon of all places—she calls the—her current husband and says please come meet me.  She basically said that they‘re keeping the kids away from me.  There is always somebody around me.  What does she do?  She goes home with the stepfather and basically leaves her kids in Neverland in a position where she said that they were at risk.  Just doesn‘t add up. 

ABRAMS:  Let me play one piece of sound.  You mentioned the investigator who did that interview with the family members.  This is February 16, I believe, where all of them say nothing happened.  Bradley Miller was the investigator who did that interview.  I had an exclusive interview with him a few weeks ago.  Here‘s what he said. 


BRADLEY MILLER, FORMER JACKSON DEFENSE INVESTIGATOR:  I asked each of them if anything had ever—anything improper had ever happened.  I asked about sleeping arrangements there and was told by the two sons that neither one of them ever slept alone in Michael‘s room without the other one being present.  That nothing ever happened, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing sexual. 


ABRAMS:  Joining me now along with Jim is former prosecutor Bill Fazio and criminal defense attorney Mercedes Colwin.  Bill, you know it sounds like this is sort of the beginning in a way of the defense‘s case.  This is the first family member of the people actually accusing Michael Jackson in this case, the subject of this case, who is kind of being put on trial effectively and according to Jim, listening to it inside the courtroom, it sounds like they were pretty effective at undermining his credibility. 

BILL FAZIO, FORMER PROSECUTOR:  That‘s what it sure looks like, Dan .  At this stage the prosecution has moved past the past incidents that they‘re trying to indicate to the jurors, indicating what kind of person Mr. Jackson was and is and now they‘re moving to the substantive charges.  They‘re going to have to prove these charges beyond a reasonable doubt.  And Mesereau and his team apparently very effectively attacking the inconsistent statements, the downright fabrication, if you will, at least from his perspective and ultimately it‘s going to be a he said-she said type thing, who do you believe, and is there any corroborating evidence that supports the accuser‘s statements that he was molested by Mr. Jackson. 

ABRAMS:  And remember, another one of the claims here is that the family was effectively imprisoned at Neverland.  Here is what the stepfather says about conversations that he‘s having with his, you know, soon-to-be wife.

Quote—“Can you tell us approximately how many phone calls you had from her while she was at Neverland? 

It was several phone calls that I received from her over a two or three or four-day period.

How did she sound to you?

She was distressed.

Had she been distressed prior going to Miami?

No, not at all.

Continue—That same night the accuser‘s mother came back late at night without her children.  She was very emotional. 

Did you ask her where the children were?

I assumed they were still at the ranch.

Did you talk about what had happened?

She didn‘t want to talk about it.”

So, Mercedes, is the defense going to have to say there‘s no question that she was distressed, but that was because she was creating this in her own mind, or are they going to say she wasn‘t distressed at all? 

MERCEDES COLWIN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  They have to—and I think you‘re right, they‘re going to have to say that she‘s fabricating this whole thing, so she‘s starting to emote this emotional state.  She‘s getting upset.  Yet, if she really thinks that her children are at risk, would she leave them at Neverland?  It makes no sense that she would leave her children if she thought that they were at risk, so it‘s going to be very problematic for her.

That‘s why this—all this past prior acts had to come in to sort of buoy up this family because we know there are lots of problems with the current accuser and his family.  So why not just, I think, bring in all these prior acts and render this trial unfair to Michael Jackson.  It‘s clearly unconstitutional.

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Well, I don‘t know about that.  But, you know look, I mean the statute I think will survive constitutional scrutiny.  But anyway, Jim, what do you make of the fact that—do you think the defense is going to argue to this jury that she may have believed that there were problems, but she was inventing this stuff in her head, because there have been a number of witnesses, some of them with no axe to grind who are saying yes, look, I spoke to mom and mom was completely freaked out. 

MORET:  Well in a way it‘s more complicated than that because don‘t forget, “they escaped”, in quotes, not once, not twice, but three times.  So even after they made their way out of Neverland, if the mom was so distressed, they went back again and again one more time.  That‘s the problem.  So at what point did this mom really believe she was being held against her will.  And if she was, then when she went home, why did she go back? 

ABRAMS:  And the other problem, Bill Fazio, is the timing of it.  Because remember that what the prosecutors are saying is that in this period when the family is supposedly being imprisoned at Neverland, the kids haven‘t even been abused yet.  The boy hasn‘t even been abused yet and so they‘re being held at Neverland, Michael Jackson hasn‘t abused the boy yet, and then after this tape is made and after everything is discussed about not molesting him, then Michael Jackson decides, OK, this is a good time. 

FAZIO:  Dan, these cases from the prosecutor‘s perspective are very difficult.  What the public has to realize and appreciate the dynamics of sexual assault are unique only to them.  And a lot of times as I‘m listening why she didn‘t do this and why she didn‘t do that as a former prosecutor, that‘s a question that I‘d want an answer to, I would want to prepare an answer to the jurors.  And one of the things I think that she might say is she comes from a different level of lifestyle than Michael Jackson and who is going to believe her against Michael Jackson, his popularity, his position in the community.  The only person she could talk to was her husband.  Whether that‘s credible or not, it‘s going to be in the eyes of the jurors ultimately when this case is ultimately presented to them. 

COLWIN:  But, Dan, she could have called the authorities at any time.  If she legitimately feared for her children‘s safety, she could have called the authorities at any time. 

FAZIO:  One would expect her to do that. 

COLWIN:  And you know that they‘re going to take it seriously, because Michael certainly, if anything...

ABRAMS:  Well...

COLWIN:  ... law enforcement do take these cases very, very seriously, especially if there is a celebrity involved. 

ABRAMS:  Jim...

COLWIN:  They‘re not going to candy-coat it. 

ABRAMS:  ... is the accuser‘s mother going to take the stand? 

MORET:  We‘re certainly expecting her to take the stand tomorrow.  There was some question today whether she would.  There was a report out that she night not because she is fearful of welfare fraud investigation and so there was question about whether she would take the Fifth.  Frankly, if this woman does not take the stand, the prosecution is in big trouble.  Where is their conspiracy case?  Where is their false imprisonment case without this witness? 


MORET:  I think this witness is critical to this case. 

COLWIN:  Dan, the prosecutor could give her immunity...


ABRAMS:  I—yes, I‘ve got to wrap it up. 

MORET:  Dan, one other thing. 

ABRAMS:  Ten seconds, Jim. 

MORET:  One other thing.


MORET:  This person that she called was a major in the U.S. Army.  He‘s been in the Gulf War.  If anyone could have saved him, she would have reached out to him.  He did nothing. 

ABRAMS:  Jim Moret, Bill Fazio, Mercedes Colwin, thanks a lot.


COLWIN:  Thanks Dan.

ABRAMS:  Coming up, a 10-year-old boy home alone when a burglar kicks down the door of the house.  He hides in the bathroom, all while on the phone with 911.  We‘ve got the tape, up next. 

And violence against federal judges, we‘ve been seeing a lot of it lately.  I say it‘s time for Congress to do something.  But I‘m starting to fear that court projects may get in the way of spending the money.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, a 10-year-old boy home alone as a burglar breaks into his house.  He calls 911 and his terrifying moments are caught on tape.  It‘s coming up.



ABRAMS:  Ten-year-old Zane Peery had no idea what he was in for when he stayed home sick from school yesterday.  He ended up surviving a robbery straight out of the movie “Home Alone”. 

Lance West from NBC affiliate KFRO in Oklahoma City has more on this fourth grader‘s amazing story. 


LANCE WEST, KFRO REPORTER (voice-over):  When a stranger knocked on Zane Peery‘s door Monday afternoon, he did what he was taught. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We advised him not to ever, you know, open the door for strangers. 

WEST:  That stranger had no idea there was a sick 10-year-old inside home alone.  The intruder kicked in the front door and began ransacking the house for valuables.  All the while Zane quietly talking to a 911 dispatcher. 

911 DISPATCHER:  911.

ZANE:  I think someone is trying to break into my house.


ZANE:  I think someone is trying to break into my house.  They are banging on the door.

WEST:  As the intruder approaches, the fourth grader stops talking, then whispers. 

ZANE:  He‘s in my room.

911 DISPATCHER:  Are you in the closet?

ZANE:  No, bathroom.

911 DISPATCHER:  OK.  Have you got the door locked?

ZANE:  There ain‘t no door.  He‘s going upstairs.

WEST:  But before Guthrie police could arrive, the burglar stumbled on to this fourth grader‘s hiding place. 

ZANE PEERY, 10 YEARS OLD:  I was hiding right here like this and then he went right there and I went over like this and I said get out of my house and he ran off. 

WEST:  With authority...

Z. PEERY:  Get out!

WEST:  ... Zane frightened a much older and considerably larger crook from the house. 

Z. PEERY:  About a little shorter than you. 

WEST:  Guthrie detectives collected plenty of evidence, including a tire print from the driveway and a detailed description of the car and suspect. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He did a great job.  I mean he gave us an excellent description of the person down to an earring in his ear, so I mean that‘s an excellent description for a child that was home sick today from school. 

WEST:  Home sick but not too weak to scare a thief. 


ABRAMS:  Go Zane!  Lance West, that was from NBC affiliate KFOR in Oklahoma City. 

Coming up, in light of the recent wave of violence against federal judges, I say it‘s time for Congress to put up or shut up and come up with some more money for their protection.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.

And more e-mails for my father than for me.  Stay with us. 


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—it‘s time for Congress to put up or shut up when it come to protecting our nation‘s federal judges.  While all want to be first out condemning the recent attacks and intimidation of judges, when it comes to actually doing something about it, meaning money, well then it becomes a back seat issue to some.  Well not to me. 

This week, Congress is busy divvying up about 80 billion in emergency funds, most of it going to Iraq and Afghanistan.  But buried in there beneath various pork projects is a $12-million request from Chief Justice William Rehnquist to pay for surveillance and security systems in federal judges‘ homes.  Only six weeks after Federal Judge Joan Lefkow‘s family members were found murdered in her home in Chicago, one month after a state judge was killed in his courtroom in Atlanta, it‘s hard to believe that this is even an issue, but it is.

The 12 million wouldn‘t even include additional funds to ensure the U.S. Marshals Service, which has been understaffed and under funded for years could finally beef up protection of this country‘s 1,800 federal judges in the courthouse and in their homes.  Our nation‘s judges are scared.  A federal appeals court judge wrote in an editorial last week—quote—“Judges know the Constitution will protect us from being removed from office or having our salaries reduced because of disagreement with our decisions, but none expects that upholding justice will evoke violence against us or our loved ones.”

Even the Supreme Court justices are showing concern.  A letter to Congress in the judicial conference headed by Chief Justice William Rehnquist stated unfortunately at the present time federal judges across the country are feeling particularly vulnerable, not only for themselves but also for their families.  Today, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy asked Congress for an additional 639,000 to pay for another officer on the high court‘s front plaza and for 24-hour patrols around the Supreme Court building. 

But unfortunately, when it‘s time to has not out money in Washington, they‘re competing with requests that various politicians hope to bring home to their districts.  Fifty-five million for waste water treatment in Mississippi, 25 million for a fish hatchery in Montana, 2.5 million for broadcasting transmission equipment in Tajikistan, 1.8 million to study flood damage in Hawaii, half a million for desalination technology in Nevada. 

Now some of these may be valid requests, but it‘s about priorities.  Even 12 million isn‘t near enough but at least it‘s a start.  Our judges shouldn‘t have to worry that their public service will cost them or their loved ones their lives. 

Coming up, from your e-mails it seems some of you would rather see my father hosting a show after his appearance on this show.  Your e-mails are coming up next.


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”.  Last night my favorite guest was on the program, my dad.  We discussed his new book “Speaking Freely” and his role defending the First Amendment. 

Nancy in Long Island, “Please bring your dad back on the show.  I swear I am in awe of the man.  I found him intelligent, articulate, and fascinating.”

And I asked my dad about the people who seemed to think his son has fallen so far from the tree.  My dad said he approves of everything I‘ve done.  Thank you, dad.

From Goldsboro, North Carolina, Eddie Harris, “Perhaps the reason for the difference between your more conservative views and opinions compared to your father‘s more liberal views is because of his life experience that maybe taught him different lessons that you have not yet learned.”  Thank you Eddie.

Also last night we told you the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a murderer‘s conviction because the victim‘s family wore buttons with a photo of the victim while sitting in court.  I was outraged, as were many of you.

Michael Shanley, “Are you kidding me?  Buttons influence a jury‘s opinion?  How about overwhelming evidence and testimony?”

Elizabeth from Burbank, “Why didn‘t the defendant get his friends and/or families to wear buttons with a nice peaceful picture of him?  This sounds to me like just another lawyer whining that he lost a case.”

But Annette writes, “Family member‘s grief is not evidence and the jury‘s sympathy for them should not automatically make the defendant guilty.  A trial should be about whether this defendant committed this crime.  Nothing else.”

OK, Annette, but who says that a button had any impact on the jury verdict, but I hope this decision is overturned. 

And finally, in my “Closing Argument”, suspected terrorists on the terror watch list not allowed on airplanes, but they‘re allowed to buy guns, I said sounds ridiculous. 

From Newark, Ohio, Don Traylor, “I believe the word you used was suspected.  If you start infringing on people‘s rights for being suspected, where does it end?  Think about it.”

I have thought about it, Don, and as long as you feel the same way about the Patriot Act, I do—you know look, I‘ll hear you, but I accept the fact that we have to deal with certain changes as a nation that‘s being targeted by Islamic fundamentalists, and I apply that to the Patriot Act and to guns.

Your e-mails  We go through them at the end of the show.

“OH PLEAs!”—you have to wonder whether a 48-year-old Anchorage, Alaska man was just testing the Department of Motor Vehicles when he crashed into the DMV Building as he went to renew his license.  He dented the building‘s siding and cracking, but no, he didn‘t flee to the wilderness of the Alaskan Coast shamed by his failed driving.  No, he backed up his green Ford Taurus, parked it, and it strolled into the DMV to wait in line to renew his license. 

The DMV employees working in front of the office unaware of the driver‘s self-imposed road test failure continued to process his renewal even after the driver admitted to a clerk that he tapped the building and apologized.  He tapped it—I love it.  The crashed dummy was on his way to his renewed license when a female DMV employee working near scene of the accident notified managers of the crash and identified the 48-year-old waiting in line.

After surveying the damage, the DMV called the police.  By the time the police arrived, the driver had already paid 20 bucks and renewed his license.  The police later arrested the man for driving under the influence of his prescription medication.  You know just the fact that they got him that same day tells me this DMV works faster than many I‘ve been to. 

That does it for us.  I‘ll be back at 9:00 Eastern with a special edition of the program. 

Coming up next, “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews.  See you later.



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