Guest: Clint Van Zandt, Vernell Crittendon, Mark Davis, Mickey Sherman, Susan Filan, Rebecca Alvarado, Edward Kucaba
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, police search for the killer of young girls stabbed to death early this morning.
ABRAMS (voice-over): The second-grade friends found in a park north of Chicago, last seen at a friend‘s house Sunday evening. We‘ve got the latest.
And new details about the runaway bride, Jennifer Wilbanks, she reportedly has a history of running and a criminal record.
Plus, what‘s on the wall of Scott Peterson‘s prison cell? A picture of his wife, Laci, on their wedding day, of course. We‘ll talk with a long-time San Quentin official who‘s seen Peterson‘s death row home.
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi everyone. First up on the docket, it‘s the kind of story that‘s going to make any parent shiver. Zion, Illinois, small city, 22,000 people, 45 miles north of Chicago, last night two little girls there, 8-year-old Laura Hobbs and 9-year-old Krystal Tobias, best friends, reported missing separately by their parents just before 9:00 p.m. Central Time. Earlier that day the girls had been playing together with another friend at a house across the street from a park.
As they left, they said they were heading towards the park‘s ravine. Then just after 6:00 Monday morning, someone walking through the park found the little girls‘ bodies. Both had been stabbed repeatedly. Zion police and Lake County coroner, Dr. Richard Keller say that based on the evidence at the scene, they believe the girls were murdered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. RICHARD KELLER, LAKE COUNTY, IL CORONER: The cause of death appears to be stab wounds. And I know one of the questions that was out there was about sexual assault. We have found no evidence of sexual assault on exam.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right. For more on this investigation, we‘re joined by Mark Potter at the NBC News bureau in Chicago. He‘s been on top of this case since it broke. And former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt, who is also an MSNBC analyst.
All right, so Mark, bottom line is this kind of came I think very quickly to the authorities there, right? I mean they get this missing person‘s report about these two girls separately from the parents and next thing they know, just a pedestrian finds this horrible find.
MARK POTTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That‘s right. The call came in overnight. The calls from the two families came in overnight. They began the search, various people searched overnight, and then whoever this person is—they haven‘t identified the person who found the two bodies, discovered them in a heavily wooded area. The bodies, by the way, were found about 50 yards away from a bike path in a wooded area. They were fully clothed. They had not been bound. They were not strangled. They were stabbed to death and again, the point that the medical examiner made, the coroner, made, is that there was no evidence at all of sexual assault.
ABRAMS: All right. Here‘s a little bit more from the coroner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLER: There were more than one stab wounds. There were—but right now I really can‘t lay out all of that information. It‘s going to be used by the police in their investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right, Clint, profile. I mean more than one...
CLINT VAN ZANDT, MSNBC ANALYST: Yes.
ABRAMS: ... stab wound no sexual assault.
VAN ZANDT: Yes, well it takes this away from the initial category of
a sexual predator, Dan. One of the things they‘re going to be looking for
· when you profile, you look at either an organized or a disorganized offender. Disorganized would use a rock or a club he found at the scene. An organized person would bring a weapon with him and take it away.
That‘s what looks like this may be the case. Now as far as stab wounds, multiple, does that mean one or two? Does that mean it‘s a frenzied attack with 10 or 15 or 20...
VAN ZANDT: Were the stab wounds in a certain area of the body or all over? There are a lot of things that the coroner is going to be able to tell the police, but the profilers, the police have really got to get their teeth into this one.
VAN ZANDT: We‘ve got two girls that were on bikes. We‘ve only got one bike. We‘ve got their bodies found in this heavily wooded area by somebody who happened to walk by and see them. There is a lot more we don‘t know than what we do know, Dan.
ABRAMS: Here is one thing we do know. Again, this is from the coroner, Dr. Richard Keller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLER: Despite the fact that CSI can take a cast of a knife wound in someone‘s body, we can‘t do that and so it‘s very difficult to say what exactly other than I can tell you that it was a knife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Clint, are you surprised that they can definitively say already that it was a knife?
VAN ZANDT: No, I‘m not surprised and they can also start to tell you maybe how long the knife is, how wide the knife is, whether it‘s a double edged or single edged. So you know, this is not CSI, he‘s right, but there are still things that the coroner is going to be able to tell us. What‘s going to be critical is the crime scene. What‘s in the crime scene? Did we find physical evidence of the crime? And the neighborhood, Dan, what‘s unusual and what‘s usual in this neighborhood, in this area. So the neighbors are going to have to help. The school is going to have to help. The other students are going to have to help...
VAN ZANDT: ... there‘s going to be a lot of people interviewed.
ABRAMS: And here‘s what the Zion police chief said about the search.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG MALCOLM, ZION, IL POLICE CHIEF: They searched downtown. They searched the neighborhoods. They searched Beulah Park. They searched areas where they think kids might hang out at. We also contacted the grade school, where these kids attended, and we got the names of all of their classmates in their class. We called all the parents of all their classmates trying to find information, where these kids are at or if these kids—if the parents or the kids know anything, which no one did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Mark Potter, they are last seen at this friend‘s house where they went to play. Do we know anything else about that friend‘s house, about whether there was a parent there, whether the family has been interviewed, anything like that?
POTTER: The presumption is that the family has been interviewed, but we don‘t fully know. They just said that the girls were last seen in the afternoon. Another family said that they saw the girls in the morning. They had come by their house to play, but then left on the bicycle.
A couple of other points about the investigation—they have not found that knife that they were talking about. They don‘t have any solid leads. They say that the investigation is not focusing in yet on any one in particular. It‘s very wide. They are looking at everyone, but the point made by the chief is no solid leads at this time in this heinous crime.
ABRAMS: All right. This is a piece of sound from one of the grandmothers. This is Emily Hollabaugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMILY HOLLABAUGH, VICTIM‘S GRANDMOTHER: She‘s just a normal little 8-year-old girl. She liked playing. She loved her dolls. She‘s just a normal 8-year-old girl.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Just, I don‘t—I mean Clint, usually with these cases, we -
· you know you can have a hunch, right? You can have a sense...
VAN ZANDT: Yes.
ABRAMS: ... it was this type of person; it was that type of person. You‘ve got these two little girls who were walking through the park, maybe on their bikes, they were playing, the last thing they know—now they are both stabbed to death. That‘s just—also such a violent way to kill.
VAN ZANDT: You know, it‘s such a tough world today, Dan. We‘ve got to know where our kids are at all times. Here the kids were at this sleepover the night before, then they were playing at a friend‘s house. But we‘ve got a fairly large window of time it appears where the police have to account, so the timeline is going to be very important. When were they last seen? When does the coroner think they were killed? But again, this is a long time for 8-year-olds to be away potentially unsupervised or without some type of adult‘s attention.
ABRAMS: All right. Well look, we don‘t—if you‘ve got any information, obviously give a call to the Zion, Illinois police there. Oh those pictures just break my heart. All right, Clint Van Zandt and Mark Potter, thanks a lot.
VAN ZANDT: Thanks Dan.
ABRAMS: Coming up, new details of Jennifer Wilbanks‘ past, the runaway bride, her criminal past. That‘s right. The runaway bride served time.
Plus, as Scott Peterson prepares to be moved to death row from a transitional area, guess what he‘s got hanging over his bed? Pictures of Laci.
And the defense in the Michael Jackson case calls a witness to say it was the accuser and his brother who were out of control at Neverland, not Michael Jackson. A live report from the courtroom is coming up.
Your e-mails email@example.com. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. You know I respond (INAUDIBLE) at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: Scott Peterson apparently still thinking of his wife, Laci, as he prepares to go to death row. He‘s in an adjustment center at San Quentin Prison now, waiting to be introduced into the prison population. But as he waits, we‘ve learned that he is staring at two photos of Laci in his prison cell, one of their wedding day. Joining me now with more on how Peterson is doing in prison is San Quentin‘s spokesperson Vernell Crittendon, who joins us once again.
Good to see you. Thanks for coming back on the program.
VERNELL CRITTENDON, SAN QUENTIN PRISON SPOKESPERSON: Good to talk with you Dan.
ABRAMS: All right. Question one: How does he get the pictures?
CRITTENDON: Well he has a number of pictures, as many of the inmates do inside the prison, mailed in by loved ones and family members, but he just opted to put those two up on the wall...
ABRAMS: And they are screened, right? I mean you know could he—can he chose anything he wants to put up there?
CRITTENDON: Well certainly he could. Of course as you say, there is some screening, so there would be no photos that are allowed in that would be indecent.
ABRAMS: And those are the only pictures up in his cell?
CRITTENDON: Those are the only ones that I saw on the wall earlier in the week when I was visiting him, yes.
ABRAMS: Has he had any family visits?
CRITTENDON: Well yes, he‘s had family and loved ones and friends and investigators that have been coming up to visit him, and he‘s been visiting rather regular.
ABRAMS: How often is he allowed to have visitors?
CRITTENDON: Well he can have visitors seven days a week. Legal visits are Monday through Friday and then he can have loved ones come up and visit Thursday through Sunday, so he‘s had some visits pretty regular...
ABRAMS: Same rules once he‘s transferred to death row?
CRITTENDON: Once he‘s moved over to the main housing, he‘ll still have the same policies as far as visiting, yes.
ABRAMS: All right. Now I‘ve got to tell you, I was stunned, Vernell, when I saw the names of the books that he‘s got. He‘s got this one book, all right, it‘s called “From the Pit to the Pulpit”, a story of a life spent in the crime zones of America, 18 years spent in the hardest California state prisons. That one is not a surprise. The other one is called “My Uncle Oswald” and we got a description from the publisher. It‘s apparently a brief novel dedicated solely to the diaries of the greatest fornicator of all times. That‘s one of the books he has, right?
CRITTENDON: That was one—he had requested that particular book, that‘s correct. And if you‘re in prison by yourself...
ABRAMS: Are you allowed to have whatever book? Can he order—can you order smut?
CRITTENDON: No, you cannot. But we have a wide selection of books that are available in our library and that was one of the books that he had actually requested, so yes.
ABRAMS: And, you know, it says “Uncle Oswald anticipates the concept of the noble sperm bank by some 40 years, flimflamming crowned heads, great artists and eccentric geniuses into making donations.” Any—seriously, but are there any restrictions? I mean you say he can‘t—what is—how do you define—how do you draw the line as to what you can look at and what you can‘t when it comes to sexually suggestive material?
CRITTENDON: Well, once material is showing any type of private body parts, those types of books will not be—or magazines will not be allowed into our prisons.
ABRAMS: I—did you ever rent this one from the prison? You ever take this one out, Vernell?
CRITTENDON: No, actually I didn‘t even know what the content was until you shared it with me, Dan.
ABRAMS: I was just doing that to get you back for calling me Abrams every time you come on the program. All right...
CRITTENDON: Oh, I was going to wait until the end to do that.
ABRAMS: All right. Let me ask you one other question though. The people working with Peterson, I mean are they generally saying he‘s behaving, he‘s willing to do as told, et cetera?
CRITTENDON: Oh yes, he‘s very cooperative with the staff. He‘s also being found to be very cooperative and being able to get along with the other inmates that are there in the adjustment center on death row. He doesn‘t interact physically with them. But when he‘s out in his exercise yard inside of his little enclosure, there are a whole series of enclosures, so he‘s able to look right through the serrated metal fencing and can see the other inmates just a few feet away and is able to have some dialog with them.
ABRAMS: Last time you were on the program, we were talking about a guy sort of known as the “sausage king” because of his sausage business, he‘s also in there for murder. You were saying that there was some sense that maybe he and Peterson were going to be you know buddies or effectively the type of person who he‘s be paired up with once he gets to death row. Still the case?
CRITTENDON: Well that is my estimation of the background I have on Stuart Alexander, is I find that it would be quite possible that they could be on the same exercise yard together when they move over to the building where they‘ll be spending the rest of their lives while on death row.
ABRAMS: How long until he moves to death row?
CRITTENDON: I think that you‘ll probably have that concluding within about three weeks, but not more than five weeks from now. We should have that process completed, and have identified those 70 to 90 inmates that Scott Peterson will spend the rest of his life on death row with.
ABRAMS: And how much interaction can he have with those other people on death row once he gets there?
CRITTENDON: Well with that body of people that we identify, he‘ll go to exercise with them. He‘s also go to any religious programs that he wishes to attend with that group. Other than that, all of his life will be spent alone in a 41-foot square foot cell.
ABRAMS: Do you—does he have a TV? Does he have access to a TV?
CRITTENDON: Yes, shortly after he went to our classification committee, his loved ones did mail in a 13-inch television, which he has now in his cell. They‘ve also—were mailed in for him to get a small portable C.D. player so he can listen to music.
ABRAMS: And he‘ll be able to—can he watch anything he wants on TV?
CRITTENDON: Well we only provide free television. Those that you can capture off the airwaves, they won‘t get such fine shows as this, though, Dan.
ABRAMS: No, I‘m sorry to hear that. Crittendon, good to see you. Thanks for coming back on the program.
CRITTENDON: Oh (INAUDIBLE).
ABRAMS: Good to see you. We‘ll see you again...
CRITTENDON: Good to see you Dan.
ABRAMS: New details coming out about runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks. It turns out this might not have been the first time she‘s run from the altar. We‘re learning why she may have picked the lawyer she did as well. Apparently, she knows firsthand how well the lawyer performs in a courtroom, but from the other side.
NBC‘s Kerry Sanders has the new information.
KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks was a bride-to-be before. This according to the “New York Post”, which quotes an unnamed woman who says she‘s now married to the groom Wilbanks jilted eight years ago. Out of the blue, she just called up on the telephone and said she had changed her mind. I don‘t know why. She said she didn‘t want to be with him and didn‘t want to get married.
HEATHER GILMORE, “NEW YORK POST” REPORTER: He was very shocked. He said that he wasn‘t prepared for this at all, and she says that he was very crushed and it took him a while to get over the situation.
SANDERS: New information in a case that has lots of opinions.
AMANDA HUNTER, GAINESVILLE RESIDENT: I understand you get nervous. I think she should be more mature about it, especially (INAUDIBLE).
MIKE O‘DONNELL, GAINESVILLE RESIDENT: Everyone is getting a little too involved, in my point of view, into her personal life. You know, she made a mistake.
SANDERS: And now, court records uncovered show Wilbanks in trouble with the law before. The district attorney confirms to NBC News she was arrested in 1996 for shoplifting at a Gainesville, Georgia, maul. Her take? More than $1,700 in goods. Two years later, she was arrested against for shoplifting and was punished with jail time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I‘d like to just say...
SANDERS: The criminal history is no secret for Wilbanks‘ new layer. At the time her attorney, Lydia Sartain, was a county prosecutor. Among the cases she handled? Prosecuting Jennifer Wilbanks.
Kerry Sanders, NBC News, Miami.
ABRAMS: Joining me now is the man who broke much of this information. Mark Davis, reporter from “The Atlanta Journal-Constitution”. He‘s been covering the story. Good to see you again Mark.
MARK DAVIS, “THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION” REPORTER: Dan, hello.
ABRAMS: So—all right so—let me read first from a—actually let me just ask you about the article. Bottom line, were you surprised when you found out all this other information about her?
DAVIS: Yes, Dan, I was surprised and I have to preface that by saying I and some other reporters dug this up information about her arrest, but it came as kind of a shock, yes.
ABRAMS: Have you been able to confirm anything about the “New York Post” reporting that she had been married before?
DAVIS: That is news to me, Dan. I‘m sure we‘re checking it out, but right now we don‘t know that.
ABRAMS: And as for her past and—you talk about shoplifting. There were three separate incidents, is that correct?
DAVIS: That‘s correct.
ABRAMS: Lay it out for us as to the one, two, three, chronologically.
DAVIS: OK. The biggest one as I recall was the $1,700 repeated theft from a mall in Gainesville, for which she was—they nol-prossed that, as I understand it, and she went through a first-offender‘s program. Then there was a smaller repeated theft from a Wal-Mart for $35, and then a final one, and this all took place in the course two of years, as we noted earlier.
ABRAMS: What else did you learn about her background and how they met, et cetera, because you had a pretty in-depth article about sort of the whole history of their relationship and what happened when they met, et cetera.
DAVIS: Well, you know, they were both runners, and I figure that that alone would have been enough to bring them together, and I noted in my story too that their both—two families are separated only by a county line. So they would have probably met anyway, but that aside, one of Jennifer‘s aunts was at an uncle of Mr. Mason‘s, and saw the photo of John Mason running, and she said, hey, is he single?
And the other relative said, yes, he is. And she said well, I have a niece who runs. And she took the number, contacted her niece, and said do you mind if I give this number to the young man? She said not at all, and John Mason called, they got along famously, and before long, they were out on a date, and they went like a house on fire after that.
ABRAMS: The shoplifting cases, those occurred all before they met?
DAVIS: Yes. This was ‘96 to ‘98. I understand our two—our couple came together in 2003, so there was a good five-year period there where they had not met after she was—after she had done her time for shoplifting.
ABRAMS: I get the sense that this article is just going to make people feel even more—sorry—even less sympathy for her than they did before.
DAVIS: You know, I got a ton of e-mails today from readers, all the way from California to New Jersey to New Mexico, and a lot of the sentiment was anger that she had repeated—had committed these repeated thefts, but there was also a feeling from some of our readers that we ought to leave her alone, and I would say it was nearly 50-50, but those who were angry about the shoplifting arrests were absolutely livid.
ABRAMS: Yes, I‘ve got to tell you, we get so many e-mails on the story, and you know they are—I have been saying that I think she should be prosecuted probably for a misdemeanor, and every time I say that I get, you know, a boat load of e-mails of people saying why are you so calloused, just leave her alone, she‘s sick. She‘s—we‘ll see if this new information changes any of that.
Mark Davis, oh sorry, go ahead, final word.
DAVIS: I was going to say it appears that she‘s definitely not out of the public eye yet.
ABRAMS: Yes. Mark Davis, good to see you again. Thanks for coming back on the program.
DAVIS: Dan, thank you.
ABRAMS: Coming up, mononucleosis, mono may be called the kissing disease, but one girl who had it says a teacher at her Catholic school called it a disease whores get. This is while she‘s out with mono, now she‘s suing the school. She says they even had a class discussion about her sexual history. The girl joins us.
And while the prosecution called a witness to say she saw Michael Jackson touch Macaulay Culkin inappropriately, now the defense called another Jackson employee who says it wasn‘t Jackson who was the reckless one, but that the accuser and his brother were the ones out of control.
Your e-mails firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and where you‘re writing from. I respond at the end of the show.
ABRAMS: Coming up, Michael Jackson‘s defense team calls more witnesses to dispute testimony that Jackson inappropriately touched young boys. But the question a lot of people are asking is, is the testimony backfiring on the defense, meaning should the defense should have just sat down at the end of the prosecution case? We‘ve got a report from the courtroom coming up, first the headlines.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAYMONE BAIN, MICHAEL JACKSON‘S SPOKESPERSON: Michael Jackson, as he has said, he doesn‘t look at things as most people do. And I think when, at the end of the day, he looks at the world with rose-colored glasses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Yes. Oh, Michael Jackson‘s spokesperson explaining some obvious differences between Michael Jackson and the rest of the world. Today after court, day 48 of the case, the defense is playing offense. First up today, two former Neverland employees called to try and bolster the defense claim that Jackson never inappropriately touched, for example, child star Macaulay Culkin. Can you say backfire?
Instead, one was forced to admit she left Neverland under questionable circumstances after being accused of stealing. The other fired from another job for trespassing. So the defense tried again with a safer bet, the current Neverland safety coordinator, Violet Silva, talked in detail about the accuser and his family saying, they ran wild at Neverland. They were active.
I‘m trying to be polite here. They were pretty reckless at the time. They were pretty destructive. Silva said she never saw the accuser‘s mother reprimand her rowdy tikes and most importantly said the family was never prevented from leaving the grounds of Neverland.
Joining us now former prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst Susan Filan, who was in court today and criminal defense attorney Mickey Sherman. All right, so Mickey, look, you‘ve looked at the transcripts. You know what happened today. You know it doesn‘t sound exactly like a blockbuster day for the defense.
MICKEY SHERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You know there must be a song like the Neverland rules (INAUDIBLE). You must be a felon to work at Neverland. It‘s just amazing the amount of people who work there who seem to be drifters or in some way con people. And—but the bottom line, Dan, is they are bringing on people to show that the people who accused Michael Jackson of saying these things, all have serious baggage.
But as you said, maybe it‘s too much. I‘m not sure it‘s too much. The bottom line is that they still haven‘t moved the ball, as far as I‘m concerned, any closer to proving that Michael Jackson touched this particular victim. And if his defense is that he sleeps with a lot of young people, but never molests them, that‘s a valid defense. It can only work with Michael Jackson...
SHERMAN: ... but it still, you know it seems to be working.
ABRAMS: So Susan, you were in court. How was it?
SUSAN FILAN, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I don‘t know why he didn‘t stand up when the case was over and say the defense rests. Because he had done a very good job of creating reasonable doubt and punching holes in some of the state‘s witnesses. Well, now holes are getting punched in his witnesses, and the worst punch that was suffered today was when the chief of security, Violet, was asked on cross, would you let your children stay at Neverland and participate in the activities, and she said no.
ABRAMS: Oh yikes...
FILAN: And the follow-up question was you‘re a mom, aren‘t you and she said yes, and they said and you‘re a grandmother too, aren‘t you? And she said yes, and she wouldn‘t...
FILAN: ... let her offspring participate in the activities at Neverland.
ABRAMS: And you know what else she‘s going to...
FILAN: How does it get better than that for the prosecution?
ABRAMS: You know what else she‘s going to be now? Unemployed.
SHERMAN: Dan, none of us would—all of us would say the same thing. You know you‘d be a lunatic to let your kids stay there, but there‘s no shortage of lunatics in the Santa Maria area.
ABRAMS: Yes, but that just doesn‘t help the defense, Mickey. I mean...
SHERMAN: But you know I‘ve got to tell you, it takes a lot of guts, and obviously there‘s a better word to use, to sit down and say no questions, we have no defense. It sounds great now, but when...
SHERMAN: ... you‘re the defense lawyer, it‘s very difficult...
ABRAMS: No and look, and I think some of the witnesses have been useful. I mean despite what some others are saying, I think the fact that they were able to get, you know, a couple of these kids up there to say look, nothing ever happened to me at Neverland. I think maybe they did a little overkill with some of the other witnesses, but I think that was a smart thing for the defense to do.
What‘s the significance, Susan, of the fact that—I mean that the kids are running wild at Neverland? I mean even a prosecution witness said, yes, the kids are wild. You had a flight attendant also say oh the kids are wild. His accuser and his brother, they were out of control. I mean I guess what the defense is trying to say here is it was them who was causing the trouble, they were the ones who were stealing Michael Jackson‘s adult books, they were the ones who were—you know, masturbating by themselves in some other area, they were just troublemakers, right?
FILAN: Oh, good. Let‘s blame the victim. Great strategy. I haven‘t heard that one before. And if we‘re running wild in Neverland, so what? It‘s a place with a zoo. We heard testimony today about a tiger cage and lions and...
FILAN: ... it‘s an insane place to begin with, and what we really heard today, I don‘t know if it came out with through what you were hearing, Dan, is that it was Micko Brandon (ph) who crashed the cart into the two quote—unquote—“wild boys”, the accuser and his brother, so they were actually the victims of a go cart crash that was initiated...
ABRAMS: All right.
FILAN: ... by somebody else. It‘s a giant so what?
ABRAMS: I‘ve got to play this...
FILAN: Move on.
ABRAMS: I‘ve got to play this piece of sound. I was at—you know I was at Neverland and you know, I had—just had a grand ole time. All right. Here is the spokesperson for Michael Jackson talking about—after court today about will Michael Jackson testify?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BAIN: Michael wants the world to know that he did not molest any children. And I would say that he would not be opposed to testifying, if his defense attorneys feel that he shouldn‘t, he won‘t, and if they feel that he should, he will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHERMAN: That clears that up Dan...
ABRAMS: Yes. Mickey Sherman, will he?
SHERMAN: That clears that up. Probably not, but I‘ve got to tell you, I think I‘d be putting him on...
SHERMAN: What has he got to lose...
ABRAMS: What has he got to lose? Let me show you, Mickey, all right and this is just a picture.
ABRAMS: Do you remember in the civil case when there were pictures of him from court going like this with his hands...
ABRAMS: ... that‘s what you have to lose.
SHERMAN: But we already know he sleeps with young boys. We already know he‘s as bizarre as one can be. We‘ve heard that from all his 400 spokespeople. The bottom line is he‘s going to say I didn‘t touch this particular child. That‘s what he needs to do.
ABRAMS: All right. We‘ll see. Mickey, thanks as always. Hey Susan, welcome to the MSNBC team.
ABRAMS: Thanks for being out there for us.
FILAN: Thanks Dan.
ABRAMS: We‘ll see you tomorrow.
FILAN: You‘re welcome.
ABRAMS: Thanks. Coming up, a high school student is suing her teachers and principal for telling students she had mono, and one teacher described it as a disease that whores get. The girl joins us live up next.
And it turns out Robert Blake had a list of celebrity friends he wanted to come to his murder trial and one celeb he did not want at the jail. In fact, he told him to send a letter instead (INAUDIBLE) that‘s a clue.
And who was naughty and who was nice according to Robert Blake? Some taped conversations from prison offer some (INAUDIBLE). It‘s quite an collective list. It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
ABRAMS: Coming up, a high school girl is out sick with mono, her friends say the teachers told classmates mono is a disease that whores get. Now the student is suing. We‘re going to talk to her, coming up.
ABRAMS: A high school senior hospitalized for mono, hepatitis, jaundice and dehydration is now suing after her English teacher told her classmates mono is a disease—quote—“whores get”. According to the suit, they even discussed her sexual past in class. Rebecca Alvarado is suing the Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School and the teachers involved for almost half a million dollars.
According to the lawsuit, Rebecca‘s English teacher, Ms. Neery (ph), informed the class that there were many reasons why a person could get these diseases, but the number one without a doubt was sexually active girls. The class asked Ms. Neery (ph) if these were the diseases whores got? She said yes, according to the lawsuit.
She even went further to have discussions with the students about who Rebecca‘s friends were and who she was sleeping with. We asked the school to join us, instead they issued this statement.
These allegations in no way reflect the ministry and philosophy and values of the school, and we are looking into these allegations.
Joining me now is Rebecca Alvarado and her attorney, Edward Kucaba.
Thank you both very much for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
EDWARD KUCABA, REBECCA ALVARADO‘S ATTORNEY: Thank you sir.
REBECCA ALVARADO, SUING SCHOOL FOR LABELING HER A WHORE: Thank you for having me.
ABRAMS: All right. Rebecca, let me start with you. So you get back to school, right, did you know about this? You are out of school for a month.
ABRAMS: Did you know about all of this talk...
ABRAMS: ... while you were there?
ALVARADO: I didn‘t know about it until I came back from school. I was in the hospital for a couple of days, and when I came back, a lot of my friends began telling me, because I did have two friends of mine visit me that were in the English teacher‘s class, but they told me that they didn‘t want to tell me, because they didn‘t want to hurt me, because they knew I was very sick.
So I came back and you know they basically told me that Mrs. Neery (ph) read out loud what was wrong with me, about the mono and the hepatitis and the jaundice and the dehydration, and basically said you know the class was kind of laughing about it, and there—a couple of girls brought up, you know isn‘t that the disease you know that whores get (INAUDIBLE) and you know she never denied it. She said there are a couple of reasons why. They went into a discussion about it and basically she didn‘t deny that sexually active girls didn‘t get it, so that was her reason for it.
ABRAMS: But when you say didn‘t deny, I mean the lawsuit basically suggests that there was more than that, right? I mean the idea is that there were discussions in the class about your sexual past, et cetera, right?
ALVARADO: Right. Exactly. They were asking you know my friends,
they came to visit me at the hospital, you know also who is she you know
messing around with? And that defamed me, because that‘s not the type of
person I am. I am a devout Catholic, and you know I do believe in saving
yourself for marriage, and I‘m a very conservative young woman, so I don‘t
· I didn‘t believe in any of that.
ABRAMS: And so let‘s be clear, from what you understood, it was the teachers who were running this discussion, right? It wasn‘t just a bunch of kids gossiping.
ALVARADO: No, it wasn‘t a bunch of kids. It was a teacher. She was engaging in conversation about mono—excuse me mononucleosis.
ABRAMS: Which, you know, colloquially is known as the kissing disease, but the bottom line is we all know you can get it a lot of different ways.
ALVARADO: Right. It can as far as you know sharing chap stick, drinking out of a cup...
ABRAMS: Being next to someone who‘s got mono...
ABRAMS: Yes. All right, let me ask your attorney a question. Mr. Kucaba, would it be different to you as a legal matter if it was just kids gossiping, meaning what if there were a bunch of kids who were saying hey, you know what? Guess where Rebecca is? She‘s got that disease that comes from S, Y, or Z? Would that have changed this for you?
ABRAMS: Look, if this is true, there‘s no question the school, you know, is going to have to some serious soul searching, but you know people gossip all the time, right? So why is this different?
KUCABA: It‘s not gossiping, sir. Actually, what happened was is they disseminated information which actually was truth and then they put a spin on it to—I guess to impress upon these girls to live a chaste life, using my girl as a young guinea pig and saying that look what happened to her, and this is coming from other students. This is not from my client.
KUCABA: She‘s hospitalized.
KUCABA: Basically telling them that if they don‘t stop this and don‘t live this type of life-style, that this could spread through the school and harm all of them.
ABRAMS: Boy, if this is true, that‘s really awful. Rebecca, how are you feeling, by the way?
ALVARADO: Better. When this is over, I plan to have a lot of closure.
KUCABA: If we could say one thing, sir. We would agree with the statement from the school that this does not reflect upon the policy of Mother McAuley.
KUCABA: I am from Chicago. It has a tremendous history and tradition...
ABRAMS: All right. But the bottom line is you‘re still suing the school. So you know...
ABRAMS: ... you‘re not helping the tradition. I‘m not saying you‘re wrong to, I‘m just saying...
ABRAMS: Yes, OK. All right. Rebecca Alvarado, feel better, and thank you for taking the time to come on the program. And Edward Kucaba, thanks a lot.
ALVARADO: Thank you for having us.
KUCABA: Thank you, sir.
ABRAMS: Coming up, before his murder trial started, Robert Blake drew up a list of celebrity friends he hoped would support him and sway the jury. The list seems like a who‘s who of ‘70‘s TV stars, but one of them apparently got shunned when he tried to visit Blake in jail. He‘s arguably the best known of the—oh we blew it. All right. It‘s my “Closing Argument” coming up. Scott Baio.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—it seems actor Robert Blake had a lot more regard for his celebrity friends than for the jurors who eventually acquitted him of murdering his wife Bonnie Lee Bakley in 2001. According to jailhouse tapes recently obtained by the “Los Angeles Times”, Blake spent a lot of his time behind bars in 2002 and 2003 preparing a sort of a courtroom version of Robert Blake, the true Hollywood story, brainstorming with his publicist and others about which fellow former TV and film stars might rally to his side.
According to the tapes, Blake hoped to stage something of a celebrity parade, bringing one after another to court, instructing them to speak to the media on his behalf. The list including some from the where are they now file, including Gavin MacLeod, the venerable Captain Stubing of “The Love Boat”, and Suzanne Pleshette who played Bob Newhart‘s wife on “The Bob Newhart Show”, and if Pleshette was otherwise engaged, Blake told his publicist that Lindsey Wagner, star of “The Bionic Woman” would do.
And of course what murder defendant wouldn‘t immediately think to call the always-wholesome looking Wilford Brimley. For some celebrities, even a murder defendant for some, they just can‘t be seen with. Not him. When Scott Baio, former star of “Happy Days” and “Joanie Loves Chachi”, requested a jailhouse visit with Blake, apparently Blake told his publicist to just have Baio send a letter.
Then there was the Blake “A Team”. Anthony Hopkins, the Oscar winner, according to the “Los Angeles Times”, permitted to visit Blake in jail. Seems Blake didn‘t have a lot of regard for the jurors, though. He assumed they‘d be easily swayed. He told a friend—quote—“anybody who has a job they care about, anybody who has a life they care about, anybody who has a wife they care about, they just don‘t get on juries, and the ones who stay are usually about 85 IQ and you know when Johnnie Cochran stands up there and says if it doesn‘t fit, you must acquit, and we all thought he was an idiot, but the jury digs that, because they are people that go bowling.”
Well since I have not been called—since I have been called for jury service many times, I served on a jury, I take it personally Robert. My guess, based on what I‘ve heard from your public comments, the vast majority of jurors have a higher IQs than do you, even though they did find you not guilty.
Up next, forget about why the chicken was crossing the road. Why was a cop waiting for the chicken at the other side? This is not a joke. Our “OH PLEAs!” is coming up.
ABRAMS: I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. On
Friday, we told you “People” magazine reported some details about runaway
bride Jennifer Wilbanks‘ private life including information from a—quote
· “friend: that Wilbanks possibly ran away because her fianc’, John Mason, was waiting for marriage to have sex. I asked if all the sleazy details could make prosecutors feel sorry for her. I asked if I‘m getting soft because I was starting to feel sorry for her.
Paula in Wisconsin, “Oh please, you thought the runaway bride should be prosecuted until you heard her fianc’ wouldn‘t have premarital sex with her. This is not a question of your getting soft. This is a newscaster losing his mind.”
Paula, I wasn‘t feeling sorry for her because her husband would or wouldn‘t have sex with her. I feel sorry for her because all these personal details of her life are being released. But I still believe that she should be and will be charged with a misdemeanor for lying to the authorities.
And Pete Batchelor with a proposal for the runaway bride. “Hey Dan, love the show. By the way, give Jenny my number. I won‘t hold out. Tell Jenny I care.” All right, Pete.
And in my “Closing Argument”, Clarence Stowers, the man who found a finger in his custard refused to return the finger to the man who lost it because according to the store manger, Stowers said he feared it might detract from a possible lawsuit. Now the victim cannot have the finger reattached.
Alan Couch in St. Louis asks, “I wonder if the individual who lost the finger in the custard machine has any recourse through a lawsuit against the person who refused to return it.” He really might and I think he is considering that as we speak.
Also on Friday, while debating the Michael Jackson case, I asked that we turn off the microphone of one of my guests, Debra Opri, attorney—she‘s an attorney for Jackson‘s parents, Katherine and Joe Jackson. She just wouldn‘t stop talking when I tried to ask her a question.
Almost all of you applauded the move including Patricia O‘Brien in Laguna Beach, California. “Dan, you‘re the best. I think this is the first time I‘ve seen an anchor say cut her mike and it worked. The way you handled this allowed me to actually hear her opinion.”
Heidi Wittek in Wisconsin, “I like that you take control when everyone is yapping at the same time, as then we can‘t understand what anyone is saying.”
From San Antonio, Judy Willingham, “It‘s very annoying when everyone starts talking at once, then no one gets heard. Debra Opri was very rude and out of line to keep talking over you like that. You‘re the host and she should have respected that and shut up.”
Finally some of you had the same sentiment about another one of my guests, Bill Fallon. Gary Kaye in Somersworth, New Hampshire writes, “Doesn‘t Fallon ever get tired of hearing himself talk? The man is never wrong. Just ask him. I‘ll bet he tells you he was born potty trained. You cut that woman‘s mike, give us a break and zap him once in a while.”
Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com. We go through them at the end of the show.
“OH PLEAs!”—we all know why the chicken crossed the road. What about why the cop was waiting on the other side. Apparently to give the chicken a citation, this is true. See it‘s illegal for chickens in Johannesburg, California to cross the road to get to the other side. Linc and Helena Moore were fortunate they didn‘t end up with chicken casserole.
One of their chickens fled the roost on March 26, obstructing drivers on the road in the rural town of 50 residents. But it seems that one person didn‘t find the chicken crossing the road a laughing matter. Kern County Sheriff‘s Deputy J. Nicholson ticketed the plucky clucker for jay walking, ruffling the Moores‘ feathers. The ticket was issued in order to crack down on chicks hitting the road. Officials didn‘t feel a warning would suffice. The Moores pleaded not guilty last Friday in superior court and a trial has been set for May the 16th—a trial. Can you just imagine? Well sir, what did you—I witnessed the chickens crossing the road. And then what did you do? I cited them.
OK. That does it for us tonight. See you tomorrow.
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