Guest: Michael Waller, Paul Ciolino, Susan Filan, Kevin O‘Reilly, Jim Moret, Michael Cardoza, Nicole Weisensee Egan
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, authorities charge the father of a second grade girl in Illinois with murder, accused of stabbing and beating his 8-year-old daughter and her best friend.
ABRAMS (voice-over): Jerry Hobbs just got out of prison a month ago, serving time for aggravated assault, now authorities say he stabbed his daughter and her classmate to death in a park, then helped find the bodies. And we‘re going to talk to the prosecutor in the case.
And a gruesome discovery in southern California, police find a district attorney‘s investigator and his family murdered.
Plus, new court documents just filed in the Bill Cosby case. Cosby says he did give the women accusing him of sexual assault pills, but he says they were just Benadryl.
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi everyone. First up on the docket tonight, an arrest in the murders of an 8-year-old Laura Hobbs and 9-year-old Krystal Tobias. Best friends found stabbed to death side by side Monday morning in a park in Zion, Illinois. And as horrible as that is, the identity of the alleged killer may make it worse. According to the authorities, he‘s the man who helped find the bodies, Jerry Hobbs, the father of little Laura. A man who also has a record of criminal convictions including aggravated assault in 1990. In ‘97, assault and causing bodily harm, and in 2001, aggravated assault again. Lake County State‘s Attorney Michael Waller spoke about it this evening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL WALLER, LAKE COUNTY, IL STATE‘S ATTORNEY: I have been in this business for over 30 years. This is probably the most horrific crime I have ever seen, and I have had many other news conferences made the statement that there is no rational explanation or reasonable motive that can be ascribed to an act of horror like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: A bond hearing is scheduled for tomorrow morning. Michael Waller is the Lake County state‘s attorney who announced the charges and he joins us now. Thanks very much for taking the time to come on the program. We appreciate it.
WALLER: Sure Dan.
ABRAMS: All right, so you charged him with first-degree murder and that‘s got to mean that there was some level of premeditation I assume. You said in the press conference that he had actually gone to the park to find his daughter, is that right?
WALLER: Yes. That is what the evidence shows, Dan.
ABRAMS: And was it—can you say whether it was to go kill his daughter or was it to find them?
WALLER: Well, we are not really saying at this point. He was going to encounter her, and he had a disagreement with her over a relatively minor matter I would describe it as.
ABRAMS: A disagreement with the daughter or disagreement with the mother?
WALLER: Disagreement with the daughter.
WALLER: You have to remember, we are dealing with an 8-year-old child here, and you know, generally when you have disagreements with 8-year-olds, you talk about it in your house and you try to resolve it that way. Obviously, this defendant doesn‘t know how to resolve disputes.
ABRAMS: Well that‘s why I was so stunned when you said disagreement with the daughter. I was thinking maybe it happened with the mother. Was it something, what, over a curfew, her returning home, something like that?
WALLER: Well it was a relatively minor matter, Dan. It was about over money that—and actually the mother had resolved the issue with his daughter, and as I said at the news conference, what happened just defies all reasonable explanations for trying to figure out why anybody would ever do anything like this and certainly there could never be any sort of reasonable reason.
ABRAMS: I apologize for restating this question, but over money with an 8 -- year old?
WALLER: It was money—with the mother and money, yes. And Dan,
what I said at the news conference, and I think that will come out more in
the bond hearing tomorrow, there will be some evidence and we‘ll be able to
update—it‘ll better able to answer questions them. Under Illinois law I
· there is really limited on what I can talk about as far as evidence until some evidence is presented in court.
ABRAMS: Understood. You had said at the press conference that he has been somewhat cooperative is the term that you used. That he has actually gone back to the scene with the authorities, correct?
ABRAMS: And what has he done there? Has he showed them where things happened, et cetera?
ABRAMS: So, it sounds like is he not disputing that he did this.
WALLER: Well again, I think we will have—better be able to answer that question tomorrow, but I certainly wouldn‘t disagree with your characterization.
ABRAMS: Wow! Was this...
WALLER: I think...
WALLER: ... that‘s the reaction that people have had around here. It‘s—people have just been horrified. Like I said, I‘ve been in this business for over 30 years and I didn‘t run into a person yesterday or today that just wasn‘t horrified by what had happened. And I‘m, you know, I‘m sure that‘s the same reaction all over the country.
ABRAMS: You said that he hadn‘t spent Mother‘s Day the way that others had spent Mother‘s Day. What did you mean by that?
WALLER: Well, I suppose you know look at what he did in the early evening hours of Mother‘s Day. But they didn‘t have, you know, the typical type of Mother‘s Day. And again I think that will come out more as we are able to talk more about the evidence after the bond hearing.
ABRAMS: He had been recently released after having a dispute with his wife where he kind of went after her with some sort of chain saw, et cetera. Was there some—another fight between them that precipitated any of this?
WALLER: Not that we are aware of. He has only been in Lake County, in Zion for a brief period of time and we are not aware of any strife that he‘s had with his wife since he has been here.
ABRAMS: How long—you said that the questioning began yesterday. How long after he was questioned did the authorities start to say well wait a second, we are not ready to let this guy go after questioning him?
WALLER: Well he was actually free to go for all of yesterday. He was
· they asked him to stay and he agreed to stay. And he actually would sleep from—in between interviews in the police department. So—but he was not restricted in leaving until today when he was charged.
ABRAMS: Was it a case where he eventually kind of cracked and came forward with information or was it a situation where over time he‘s providing more and more information?
WALLER: You know, Dan, that‘s—again, that is something I can‘t really get into. And I—maybe tomorrow I can answer that question, but I can‘t answer it right now.
ABRAMS: The speed, very quick, I mean talking about yesterday‘s question, today you‘re filing charges. Is that faster than usual in a murder case?
WALLER: It‘s—yes, it‘s unusual to wrap up a case this quickly. We have an excellent organization, a major crimes task force, which is a countywide agency and they worked in conjunction with the Zion Police Department. But, you know, actually the first person that we talked to turned out to be the offender, so we were fortunate, but it was also good police work.
ABRAMS: And if I can just ask one more question about this issue of money. Again, I know you can‘t get into the details about exactly what the dispute was over, but it sounds based on what you said in the press conference and you are saying here that he literally went to the park to find his daughter because he was angry at her over money.
WALLER: Well maybe I—he was—he certainly was unhappy with her and he wanted her to come home and this issue with the money played a role in it I think might be a better way to characterize it.
ABRAMS: So, he may not have been going to the park to kill her?
WALLER: He may not have been.
WALLER: You know, we‘ll never know what was in his mind as he was heading over there.
ABRAMS: How is the rest of the family holding up as far as you know?
WALLER: Well I haven‘t had contact with them. From what I understand they are obviously just devastated. And they are even further devastated today. They lost their daughter on Mother‘s Day, and now, you know, her father is charged with murder. I mean they are devastated.
ABRAMS: Why did you describe this as the most horrific case that you have ever seen? Is it because they are just little girls?
WALLER: Well yes. You know I—as I said, I have been in this business for over 30 years, but if you look at the pictures of these two little girls in this meadow, you know I have never seen anything like it.
ABRAMS: He has a history of drug use as well. Any sense that drugs might have been involved?
WALLER: No, we don‘t have any information to that effect.
ABRAMS: Wow! All right, Michael Waller, look, I mean I—it‘s not a time for anyone to be congratulating anyone, but this was some very quick police work and it sounds like the charges came very quickly.
WALLER: There are no winners in this, but what is important we see to it that this guy gets his justice.
ABRAMS: All right. Michael Waller, thank you very much for taking the time. We appreciate it.
WALLER: OK. You‘re welcome Dan.
ABRAMS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) just listening to that, I mean over money? Money? Joining us now is NBC‘s Mark Potter, who is in Zion, Illinois. And we‘re also joined by Paul Ciolino, a private investigator based in Chicago. He‘s also the former chief investigator for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Child Homicide Team. Criminal defense attorney Kevin O‘Reilly joins us from out there as well. Paul, have you ever seen a case quite like this?
PAUL CIOLINO, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Well you know, 98 percent of these children are killed, they‘re killed by parents or caretakers. But I‘m—you know I‘m not jumping on this bandwagon yet. I haven‘t heard anything about a murder weapon or blood evidence and I haven‘t heard anything about a videotape confession. And I‘m always nervous when they make an arrest this quick. I—it seems, you know, I don‘t think they looked at anyone else but him. And boy I‘m telling you, it really does not ring true what I‘m hearing right now.
ABRAMS: Wait a sec. If he confessed...
CIOLINO: We don‘t know he confessed.
ABRAMS: Well, he‘s basically saying he brings them back to the scene and he‘s showing them where it happened, you‘re going to say oh you know what, let‘s assume that happened. You‘re going to say oh you know what? Even though this guy confessed, he was the one who found the bodies. He shows them where it happened. You‘d say this is a rush to judgment?
CIOLINO: Dan, I‘m telling you we don‘t know that‘s what happened.
OK. All you‘re hearing...
ABRAMS: Well he may know...
CIOLINO: ... is that state‘s attorney giving a press conference right now...
CIOLINO: ... and when this thing shakes out it may not be anything like that.
ABRAMS: All right...
CIOLINO: I hope it‘s him. You know...
ABRAMS: I‘ll will be very surprised if it is anything but it, really.
ABRAMS: I mean this quick, I will be stunned and shocked if we see anything different. I‘m not saying that this guy is going to get—necessarily get convicted. He‘s—look, he‘s going to his day in court. But I don‘t think we‘re going to see a major change in terms of the evidence that we‘re going to be seeing in this case. And I‘m confident that we‘re going to have evidence of his own statements being used against him.
CIOLINO: Yes. Well let‘s see what the statements are and let‘s see how they got to them statements, OK. I mean I haven‘t heard any—past history on this guy victimizing children, being abusive in any way to his own kids. This is a horrendous crime for a parent to commit and it‘s highly unusual, I mean over money and argument of money the mother? It just—you know I just have some problems with it right now. And we don‘t know everything. They haven‘t said anything. Maybe more will come out at the bond hearing tomorrow.
ABRAMS: We don‘t...
CIOLINO: ... I have seen them rush to judgment in these cases...
CIOLINO: ... and grab the wrong person before.
ABRAMS: Yes. Yes. All right. Well look, but you seem to be presuming that they‘re going—they‘re rushing to judgment. You are saying well I think we‘re going to see it fall out a very different way as opposed to...
ABRAMS: You are. I mean you‘re presuming that they got it wrong.
CIOLINO: I‘m not presuming—rush, but I‘d want to see a lot more evidence than what I am hearing right now.
ABRAMS: All right. Susan Filan, are you with us?
SUSAN FILAN, FORMER CONNECTICUT STATE PROSECUTOR: Dan...
ABRAMS: What do you make—come on. Go ahead. Take it away.
FILAN: It‘s an outrageous, outrageous response by your other guest. This isn‘t a game. Prosecutors don‘t charge people for sport. There has to be probable cause. There has to be a sufficiency of the evidence. They have something that they cannot reveal. This prosecutor is perfectly proper in being ethically duty bound in silence today. Wait until tomorrow. He didn‘t do this lightly. And for your other guest to make these remarks I think is really outrageous.
ABRAMS: I have to tell you, I kind of agree with you. Kevin O‘Reilly, what do you make of this?
KEVIN O‘REILLY, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well I think that you do have to look at what the evidence is. And to be making speculation and what not at this point is really, you know, not helpful. Now if the guy did in fact confess and the confession was done properly with proper procedure, then you have a different type of case that you have to defend. Was it first-degree murder? Was it second-degree murder?
O‘REILLY: Was it manslaughter?
O‘REILLY: And that‘s really—if there is a confession, that‘s really where this case is going to come down to.
ABRAMS: Because if he‘s going back to the scene with the authorities...
ABRAMS: ... he‘s got to be talking to them.
O‘REILLY: He‘s got to be talking to them and maybe he knows. I mean this guy has been through the system there is no doubt. He‘s got a history of you know 10 years of violent crime against other people, so he is, you know, certainly a prime suspect for them to look at. But did he think I‘m going to that park to kill that little girl over money? It doesn‘t seem plausible. Like Paul said—Mr. Ciolino said, that just doesn‘t seem realistic.
ABRAMS: Yes, but people don‘t do things—I hate—the defense in all these—so many of these cases is always that oh, doesn‘t make sense. People don‘t often commit crimes that are rational. There is a lot of irrational crimes out there that make no sense, and yet people still did it.
O‘REILLY: Without a doubt, Dan. And then you might be looking at the mental state of the defendant himself, the defense to a case like this as well, which comes into play...
ABRAMS: All right...
O‘REILLY: ... because it just seems so out of reality. But I don‘t think that, you know, that‘s really a fall back...
O‘REILLY: ... defense, mental...
ABRAMS: Mark Potter, final thought here.
MARK POTTER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Two thoughts. One, you‘re talking about evidence. We saw the evidence technicians at his house just a short while ago. They were there with a van taking stuff out in bags, wearing rubber gloves, so they are collecting the evidence. And secondly, it‘s predicted here that as bad as this case appears and as badly as people feel about it, there is also in the community going to be a sense of relief now in that a man has been charged with this crime. The trial will take place. Someone has been charged. Someone is arrested, and it‘s not apparently someone who was randomly out selecting children...
ABRAMS: All right, I‘ve got...
POTTER: ... not a serial killer type and that brings relief.
ABRAMS: ... got to wrap it. I‘m sorry. I wanted to talk more about this, but we got the D.A. to join us. Mark Potter, Paul Ciolino, Kevin O‘Reilly, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You‘re welcome.
ABRAMS: Coming up, Macaulay Culkin is going to be taking the stand tomorrow in the Michael Jackson case, testifying on behalf of Michael Jackson saying nothing happened. It‘s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAYMONE BAIN, MICHAEL JACKSON‘S SPOKESPERSON: We already said publicly that he and Michael Jackson were very good friends. He had never seen Michael Jackson act inappropriately with—toward a child. He never acted inappropriately toward him. So I imagine that will he come in and will be consistent with what he has already said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Big news in the Michael Jackson case. NBC News has confirmed the scuttlebutt around the courthouse that we should expect to see Macaulay Culkin on the witness stand tomorrow. And as Jackson spokesperson Raymone Bain just said expected to stick to his story that nothing inappropriate happened at Neverland with Jackson.
Inside the courtroom today, Neverland Ranch manager Joseph Marcus told the jury of Jackson‘s special bonds with a number of young boys, many of whom would have already testified. Well Marcus admitted lying to police in 2003 when he said he didn‘t know Jackson shared his bed with kids, seems to have bolstered the defense case that the accuser and family were not held captive at Neverland as they claim.
Joining me now watching from inside the courtroom today former prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst, Susan Filan, and “Inside Edition” senior correspondent Jim Moret, and in San Francisco, criminal defense attorney and MSNBC legal analyst Michael Cardoza.
All right. So Jim, let me start with you. Bottom line, the special bond stuff that he‘s talking about with these kids, that sure makes it sounds like when I hear the term special bonds in quote, I‘m thinking not good for Jackson. Is that the way it came across?
JIM MORET, “INSIDE EDITION” SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think that‘s exactly the way it came across. This person was able to identify seven boys by name that Jackson had a quote—“special bond to”. And later when he was asked what about a special bond with girls, he could only come up with two names. And then to make matters worse, he was asked well what about a special bond with adult women other than Jackson‘s two wives.
And at first Joe Marcus, the property manager, came up with Elizabeth Taylor and then he was able to about 15 minutes later come up with Liza Minnelli and the prosecutor said so now we‘re up to two. And the implication was quite clear to everyone that this special bond implies a relationship that frankly makes you uncomfortable to think of when you are talking about a kid.
ABRAMS: Jim, we‘re in the defense case now. What‘s going on? This is supposed to be defense—a good day for the defense after good day for the defense.
MORET: Well this witness was a mixed bag. As you say, he did help with the idea of the conspiracy theory and the idea of false imprisonment being unfounded charges. However, you know it just—it‘s amazing that we are where we are given that we‘re in the defense case. Because they seem to have dug a hole for themselves that they‘re now trying to find to find a way to pull out of. And it‘s frankly amazing that we‘re here, given that we are in the defense case and yet we‘re focusing squaring on molestation, a topic that you and I haven‘t talked about in a couple of weeks.
ABRAMS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Michael Cardoza, you think they should have just sat down at the end of the prosecution‘s case?
MICHAEL CARDOZA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well I said that a long time ago, Dan. Just rest, be done with it. But it‘s the old, you know this is my story and I am sticking to it. There is no denying that Jackson had relationships with little boys. I mean look, the sister that testified the other day from one of the boys from Australia said out of two years her brother spent 365 nights with Jackson.
Jordie Chandler spent 60 nights in his house in Santa Monica with him. I mean they‘ve got to embrace that and take that head on. So, if they were going to put a defense on, they certainly can‘t deny those facts, they have to admit them. But then they have to ask the jury to take maybe not a very logical leap, but that nothing happened.
And that‘s—I‘m telling you Dan, one juror, if not some, more than one of them is going to walk into that jury room and go wait a minute, let me get this straight. For 365 nights he slept with a little boy, for 60 nights he sleeps with a kid in Santa Monica and you want me to believe nothing happened behind closed doors? I tell you what, they better have an answer for that question. And I have said they probably won‘t put Michael on the stand, but the more I hear the defense, the more I‘m thinking...
CARDOZA: ... you know dang, maybe they will.
ABRAMS: Yes. You know I‘m sort of with you on this one. I‘m not sure what to make of this. I think that they might. I think that they might. Susan, you were in court today, how did it go?
FILAN: I think this witness was trouble for the defense. He was shown photographs of some figurines and he was asked would you consider this adult erotic material and he said no. And I‘ve got to tell you the whole courtroom erupted in laughter because we were all looking at it, of course it was. He was then forced to concede yes, it is, but he called it art.
And if you saw it, you‘d laugh even harder at that characterization. Then he was asked, do you think it‘s appropriate for this to be in a public area of the office where children go to see Michael Jackson? And he lowered his head and shook his head and he said no. And it was so tough for him, because every time he was asked a question he looked at Michael Jackson.
FILAN: And when he gave that answer, he looked at him first and bowed his head basically like sorry boss, but I‘ve got to turn you in. And it was so obvious what he was doing. The prosecutor at one point said why do you keep looking at Mr. Jackson before you answer my question? That‘s how obvious it was.
FILAN: He was also caught in a lie and he had to concede that.
ABRAMS: Wow. Michael, that‘s not good, right? When you are looking at Michael Jackson, constantly looking for affirmation from Jackson?
CARDOZA: No, I think it was smart of the D.A. to...
CARDOZA: ... point that out...
CARDOZA: It‘s very bright. What are you looking at him for? You looking for approval? Now that doesn‘t you know bode well for them. But I‘ll tell you what this case comes down to. I mean it‘s going to be very, very simple. Do you believe that this little boy was molested?
CARDOZA: Not whether the rest happened because I think to the jury—each one of those jurors will walk out after the verdict or after the non-verdict if they hang and say you know we think Michael Jackson is a child molester.
ABRAMS: Right, I agree with you. I agree...
CARDOZA: You know and...
CARDOZA: ... and they‘re going to say but did he do this one beyond a reasonable doubt?
ABRAMS: Hang on. Let me just do this real quick because Macaulay Culkin is going to take the stand tomorrow. He was on CNN back in May of 2004 and here‘s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MACAULAY CULKIN, WILL TESTIFY IN THE MICHAEL JACKSON TRIAL: Nothing happened, you know. I mean nothing really. I mean we played video games. You know, we, you know...
CULKIN: ... amusement park. Well the thing is with that whole thing is that, you know, they go oh you slept in the same bedroom as him. It‘s like I don‘t think you understand. Michael Jackson‘s bedroom is two stories. It has like three bathrooms and this and that. So when I slept in his bedroom yes, but you have to understand the whole scenario.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: All right. Well Macaulay could be on the stand saying that tomorrow. Jim Moret and Susan Filan will be there. Thanks. Michael Cardoza, good to see you. Thanks for coming back.
ABRAMS: Appreciate it. Coming up, new court documents just filed in the Bill Cosby case. Cosby saying he did give the woman accusing him of sexual assault pills. But you know what they were? He says it was Benadryl.
And in California, six bodies found dead in the home of an investigator in the D.A.‘s office there. The latest on the crime scene coming up.
ABRAMS: Coming up, we‘ve got new details from court documents just released in the Bill Cosby sexual assault case. The details are up next.
ABRAMS: Bill Cosby admits he gave a woman accusing him of sexual assault pills, but he says the pills were Benadryl, not drugs. In court papers filed yesterday by Cosby‘s lawyers, he denies sexually assaulting the woman who has now filed suit against him, but did say she slept at his house the night he gave her the pills, and says he even made her breakfast of a homemade blueberry muffin and some hot tea.
According to the filing, on one occasion the two were alone at Cosby‘s home. The accuser complained of—quote—“tension and inability to sleep”, so he offered her some Benadryl not herbal medication as she alleges. Cosby also denied allegations the he repeatedly offered the accuser and her mother financial compensation after she filed her police report this past January.
Pennsylvania prosecutor announced in February that they would not pursue criminal charges against Cosby. Also yesterday, the accuser‘s attorneys responded to the request that all the documents in this case be sealed saying Cosby is trying to prevent the media from covering the case so he won‘t be embarrassed. Twelve other female accusers have joined the civil case against Cosby since it was first filed -- 12 others.
“My Take”—this could be bigger trouble for Cosby than most are acknowledging now. The number of women who have joined the suit could put him in a tough position even with regard to negotiating. Joining me now is Nicole Weisensee Egan, the reporter for the “Philadelphia Daily News”, who‘s been covering the case since it began.
Nicole, thanks for coming back on the program. Appreciate it.
NICOLE WEISENSEE EGAN, “PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS” REPORTER: Thanks for having me.
ABRAMS: So any surprises to you in the Cosby response?
EGAN: Well, I guess it was surprising in that he did admit to giving her some kind of pills. That I found surprising. But nothing else—well and I did find it surprising that one of the things he objected to was that when she woke up the next morning that he greeted her in his bathrobe. I mean he made a point of saying in his filing yesterday that he was not wearing a bathrobe. Now he didn‘t say what he was wearing but it absolutely was not a bathrobe he said.
ABRAMS: Let me go through the comparisons. Here‘s what the accuser says about the pills.
Cosby offered plaintiff three blue pills, which he told her were herbal medication, which would help her relax. Plaintiff questioned if she needed to take all three pills and Cosby assured her that all three pills were necessary.
Here‘s what Cosby says. Defendant states in response to plaintiff‘s complaint of tension and inability to sleep, he offered plaintiff one and a half tablets of the over-the-counter Benadryl. Plaintiff accepted the tablets that he offered.
And then the point that you were just making about the bathrobe. The accuser says after plaintiff awoke, Cosby greeted her in his bathrobe. Cosby says denied as stated. Defendant states that when he came downstairs to wake plaintiff, she was already awake. Defendant denies wearing only a bathrobe.
Were you at all surprised at the fact that they seem to have known each other pretty well? I mean they have gone to events together, et cetera.
EGAN: I wasn‘t surprised and that is what she had said and that would be a pretty bold claim to make if it weren‘t true, because she said she socialized with him with various other people. And so, I did find it interesting though that he admitted he—that she did believe him to be his—her friend and mentor.
ABRAMS: Nicole, what is it meant that the 12 others have joined the lawsuit? Are they now all together suing Bill Cosby for the same thing? I mean they‘ve all got different facts.
EGAN: No, that‘s what‘s interesting. None of them are suing him and none of them from what I understand, have any intent to sue him or to file criminal charges. They are all coming forward simply to back up the accuser in the civil suit and just say hey you know she said this happened to her, and he did something similar to me, too.
ABRAMS: All right, so let‘s be clear, the 12 others then are not seeking any compensation from Cosby?
EGAN: No, I mean they have a lot of lose and really not a lot to gain
by coming forward.
ABRAMS: So that could make the negligence a lot easier then for Bill Cosby. Meaning, he could just literally negotiate with this one plaintiff. You think that that person will have to consult with the other 12 before she agrees to anything?
EGAN: I don‘t think so. I mean my sense is they are simply there, like I said, to back up her story so she gets to decide what she wants to do with the civil suit.
ABRAMS: OK. Well then my guess then is that this is probably going to end up going away pretty soon, but we shall see. Nicole, thanks for coming back on the program. Appreciate it.
EGAN: Thanks for having me.
ABRAMS: Coming up, a manhunt underway in California. Six bodies found inside this home, three adults, three children, but here‘s what‘s really interesting—the house belongs to an investigator in the D.A.‘s office out there. The latest on the crime scene is up next.
And the Spokane mayor says he is being persecuted by the media after allegations that he offered two gay men jobs. I am sick and tired of people blaming the media for all of their problems. It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
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: Coming up, a manhunt underway in California after six bodies, three of them children, found in the home of an investigator in the D.A.‘s office. The latest is up next.
ABRAMS: NBC News has learned someone through a hand grenade at the president as he was giving a speech in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia today. NBC‘s Pete Williams joins us now from Washington with the latest.
Pete, how close did it get?
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well we don‘t know actually whether it was thrown at him or not. No idea who the intended target was, but it certainly was thrown while he was speaking today about roughly 12 hours ago in the Georgian capital city—the former Georgian Republic of Tbilisi. The former Republic of Georgia, its capital city of Tbilisi.
Now the hand grenade we‘re told by the U.S. Secret Service landed within 100 feet of the stage but not on the stage while the president was speaking. And in fact, no U.S. Secret Service agents were even aware of this while it was happening. It apparently hit somebody in the head and a nearby—you can see here, by the way, how huge this crowd was, estimated anywhere from 100 to 300,000 people. While the president was speaking in Tbilisi‘s Freedom Square, a Georgian security official nearby saw this, grabbed the device, and ran off with it. And then later, according to the Georgian officials, it was—quote—“rendered safe.”
Now we don‘t know what that means. Sometimes law enforcement officials use that terminology after they blow something up so that it‘s not a danger anymore. So we don‘t know now it was rendered safe. And we don‘t know, Dan, this critical question—the answer to this question—what was it? We are told that it was something like a hand grenade and one official here even tells us tonight that the safety pin on the hand grenade had been pulled out, which normally would activate a timer in the hand grenade once it‘s thrown and that little handle pops out, that starts a little timer, and normally the hand grenade will blow up after a certain amount of time.
So, was it a real device? If so, why didn‘t it go off? Was it the real thing? Was it a dud? That‘s a critical question that we don‘t know the answer to tonight. And we‘re told, as a matter of fact, that the U.S. Secret Service hasn‘t even seen this thing yet, so there‘s no way to assess tonight whether the president was in any danger. And as a matter of fact, we are told that the U.S. was not even informed about any of this until two hours after the president had left the country of Georgia. That‘s when this information began to come in.
Now nobody knows yet who was throwing it. And I say it‘s not clear who the target was because although the president was speaking at the time, there were Georgian officials on the stage with him. So, it‘s just not clear what the target was or in fact whether you know there really was a target or whether it was intended...
WILLIAMS: ... just to cause a disturbance or what. The Secret Service is sending additional agents over to look into this. It‘s a matter of great concern to them, but it‘s impossible to assess tonight we‘re told whether or if he was in any danger.
ABRAMS: All right. Pete Williams, thanks a lot. We appreciate it.
ABRAMS: Following a developing story on another murder mystery. This one outside of Riverside, California. Early this morning authorities responded to an emergency call from the home of an investigator for the Riverside District Attorney‘s Office. When they got to the home, they found the investigator, David McGowan, and five other people, two women and three children, all shot to death. The Riverside County Sheriff‘s Department just wrapped up a press conference on their investigation.
NBC‘s Peter Alexander is there with the latest. So Peter, what do we know?
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well Dan, good evening to you. They did find six bodies inside. What is interesting about this case is that we just heard from the sheriff, Bob Doyle here, that five of the bodies, every body except that of Mr. McGowan himself, was found in their bed in their own bedroom undisturbed. They do not believe there was a break-in. There is no evidence of any suspicious activity. However, Mr. McGowan‘s body was found in the front hallway, the front of the room.
Each of the victims dying with at least a single gunshot wound. All of those gunshot wounds to the head. What also occurred here is that a phone call happened at about 4:30 this morning, a 911 call. Authorities quickly arrived on the scene within about a half an hour later, but in that call they say they heard no voices, just some haunting sounds. Here‘s how the sheriff described it just a short while ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERIFF BOB DOYLE, RIVERSIDE COUNTY SHERIFF‘S DEPT.: The dispatch tape that we talked about earlier this morning, I can tell you that what was heard on the dispatch tape was the phone initially hitting the wall and then a gunshot. That was all that the dispatcher heard when that 911 call came in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER: Only one of the bodies has been identified. That is the body of David McGowan. We are told by authorities that he was in his 40‘s. The last five years he was serving as an investigator with the District Attorney‘s Office here in Riverside County. In total, had 13 years in law enforcement in this part of the state, about 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles.
Dan, they found about three guns throughout the house. The bodies were spread in different areas. It‘s unclear why no one would have woken up when this attack took place. But what the sheriff wants us to reiterate is that the community is not in danger, again saying it doesn‘t appear to have been a break in.
A little bit earlier we saw the wife of this man. She—we saw—excuse me—her sister, the man‘s wife‘s sister come here clearly distraught. The other five bodies haven‘t been identified. The three children we are told by authorities appear to be ages 14, 10 and 8. Although they have not been identified, those ages would coincide with McGowan‘s children‘s ages.
They are we are told in eighth grade, fourth grade and second grade, roughly the same ages. And the ages of the woman found, she was in her 40‘s. The second woman we are told in the 60‘s would match the ages of McGowan‘s wife and perhaps his mother-in-law. That‘s what authorities are telling us right now...
ALEXANDER: Throughout the course of this day...
ABRAMS: I want to...
ABRAMS: ... one second, I just want to follow up on one point you just made a minute ago and that is that the community is safe. Because this guy is an investigator for the D.A.‘s office, right, and the first thing people are going to think is...
ABRAMS: ... oh boy, you know maybe this is some sort of revenge, maybe the community is in danger—let me play a piece of sound and then I want to ask you a question. This is from that press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOYLE: I want to stress at this time that this community is in no danger. We are not at this time looking for a suspect. Again, I emphasize this investigation is in its infancy, and it is being processed and handled as a homicide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Not looking for a suspect. How can that be, Peter?
ALEXANDER: Well, Dan, right now they are not ruling out that this could in fact be a murder-suicide. As we say, the five bodies of the two women and the three children were found in their beds. Their beds were undisturbed but for the gunshot wounds to the heads of the people and the man himself was found downstairs in the front hallway not far from the children‘s bedroom, also with a gunshot wound to the head.
I asked the sheriff where the phone was found because that‘s where the 911 call was heard. And as he described, there was a noise where the phone hit a wall and then a gunshot. The sheriff told me that that phone was near David McGowan. So it appears as though it‘s a likely possibility they say that this was in fact a murder-suicide.
ABRAMS: Wow. Wow. All right, Peter Alexander, thanks lot. We‘ll stay on top of that.
Coming up, the media has become the scapegoat of choice for people accused of crimes or embroiled in scandal. The latest one is the Spokane mayor. I am just getting tired of people—everyone is always blaming the media for all their troubles. It‘s my “Closing Argument”.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—I‘m sick and tired of hearing crime suspects or people embroiled in scandal, always blame the media for their woes, always changing the subject from what they‘re accused of to the media coverage. Most recently Mayor James West of Spokane, Washington has said he‘s being persecuted by a local paper and blamed the news media hysteria for distracting him from his job.
After two men gave depositions accusing West of molesting them when they were members of the Boy Scouts, “The Spokesman-Review” newspaper hired a computer expert to pose as an 18-year-old male high school student and engage in internet chats with West on Gay.com. West apparently offered the teen a city hall internship, tickets to professional sporting events and other gifts. And today more news that West may have offered two gay youths jobs after he met them over the Internet.
This from a mayor who has been a long time opponent of gay rights. Besides criticizing the media, Mayor West hasn‘t said much of anything about whether he actually abused his elective office to hit on young men. Isn‘t that the question he should be dealing with? The most famous—quote—“victim” of the media might be O.J. Simpson, who continues to blame the media for convincing the American public I was guilty.
See, the problem with the media coverage was that it focused on the evidence and that was a problem for Simpson. O.J. was acquitted by a criminal jury, then found responsible for the killings by a civil jury. Meaning, if you accept both jury verdicts, it‘s somewhere between 51 percent and 90-something percent certain that O.J. killed his wife and Ron Goldman, but it is the media‘s fault.
Scott Peterson wasn‘t so lucky. That‘s the media‘s fault too, according to Lee Peterson, Scott‘s dad. He wrote a scathing letter to “The Modesto Bee” last week claiming his son was convicted because of the way Scott was vilified in the media. Again, like O.J., Scott‘s dad conveniently ignored the evidence against his son and just changes the subject to make it about the media.
Even the great Barry Bonds blamed the media for ruining his joy of baseball after reporters asked whether he took steroids. Ignoring the fact that in grand jury testimony, he reportedly admitted that he may have taken steroids unwittingly and that his own personal trainers were at the center of a federal grand jury investigation in to the use of steroids in Major League Baseball.
It‘s just a lot easier to blame the media than to deal with the facts. But remember, a little honesty might give the media something real to chew on.
Coming up, a lot of you upset at Robert Blake‘s comments about jurors and low IQs. Your e-mails up next.
ABRAMS: I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. In my “Closing Argument” last night, Robert Blake‘s statement in jail that most people who serve on juries have an IQ of 85. I said I served on a jury. I take it personally.
So did Mrs. Stanton, as she referred to herself, of North Easton, Massachusetts. She writes, “How dare Robert Blake indicate that people who do their civic duty and serve on a jury do not have IQs higher than 85. This from a man who has an IQ that doesn‘t equal his shoe size, which by the way is probably no more than a six.”
And in those taped conversations reported in the “L.A. Times”, Blake created a list of celebrity friends who might take his side. Dorothy Fincham in Wake Forest, North Carolina. “It is disappointing to hear Mr. Abrams dwelling on the taped conversations of Robert Blake with a Hollywood publicist while in jail. A gentleman of Mr. Abrams‘ intelligence and legal expertise would better serve his audience by discussing the validity or invalidity of the facts, evidence and witnesses and their effect on a verdict.” Well thank you, Dorothy, but come on, lighten up a little bit.
Yesterday, new details on the criminal history of runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks including shoplifting. Jacki Jean in Greer, South Carolina, “I think Jennifer and Michael Jackson would be perfect together. She‘s not looking for commitment. She has stolen merchandise, which makes her fit in perfectly with everyone who works or visits Neverland.”
Also last night, Scott Peterson in an adjustment center at San Quentin waiting to join the prison population. Some of his possessions include pictures of Laci and some books, including the book “My Uncle Oswald” by Ronald Dahl. According to the publisher, it‘s a brief novel on the diaries of the greatest fornicator of all times. I asked if Peterson is allowed to have any book he wants. Many of you emailed about the book.
John in Santa Monica, “I want to set the record straight regarding ‘My Uncle Oswald‘, one of the books Peterson requested. It‘s actually a quite literary comic novel written by Ronald Dahl, the author of the children‘s classic, ‘James and the Giant Peach‘ and the ‘Willy Wonka‘ story, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory‘.”
Shani S. in New York City asks, “Dan, I would really like to know if Scott Peterson is ever exonerated of the crimes convicted, will you publicly apologize to him and his entire family?” You mean for covering the story so fairly? Well, look, if he‘s actually proven to be innocent, for you Shani I‘ll apologize. It‘s not going to happen.
Finally, Patti in New Jersey. “I love the show, but the last four minutes are my absolute favorite. “Your Rebuttal” is the bright spot in my day. Quite literally I laugh out loud so I just wanted to say thanks.” No, thank you, Patti. It‘s my favorite segment, too.
Your e-mails abramsreport—one word -- @msnbc.com. We go through them at the end of the show.
Patti probably likes “OH PLEAs!” also. It seems it‘s not so easy for Jesus Christ to get a driver‘s license in West Virginia, not for the lack of trying. Mr. Christ went on a pilgrimage of sorts from Washington, D.C. to West Virginia to live a slower, perhaps more pious life. It turns out life may be even slower for Christ without the ability to drive.
Christ, who was embroiled in a separate legal battle to keep his name as Jesus Christ, wasn‘t allowed to obtain a driver‘s license even though he has a valid U.S. passport, Social Security card, and Washington driver‘s license with his name. His name, Jesus Christ on it. You see, in West Virginia, Christ like everyone else, needs a birth certificate stating his name and this Jesus Christ was not born in Bethlehem, but in Florida as Peter Robert Phillips, Jr. He changed his name, he says, out of love and respect for the real Christ. I guess it‘s going to take him a miracle to get a license.
That does it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. See you tomorrow.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.