Guests: Pat Woodward, Tim Susanin, Barbara Nicastro, Chuck Colson, Chris Wolf, Jim Zamora, Steven Clark, Michael Cardoza, Clint Van Zandt, Marlon Defillo
DAN ABRAMS, HOST: Coming up, the vice president‘s chief of staff, “Scooter” Libby, indicted on five counts, including obstruction of justice.
ABRAMS (voice-over): If convicted or even if he pleads guilty it seems almost certain Libby would serve hard time. And top presidential advisor Karl Rove not charged but it‘s not over. We‘ll talk exclusively with a lawyer for the couple at the center of it all, Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson.
And in the murder of Daniel Horowitz‘s wife, Pamela Vitale, the mother of the young man accused of the crime, arrested as well. And we get new details on how police cracked the case.
Plus, it seems Marlon Brando‘s son, Christian, needs a little advice on what not to whisper when testifying at a high profile trial.
The program about justice starts now.
ABRAMS: Hi, everyone. First up on the docket tonight: For the first time in 130 years, a sitting White House staffer has been indicted for crimes allegedly committed while in office. Lewis “”Scooter”” Libby, vice president Cheney‘s chief of staff and a key player in the run-up to the war with Iraq, charged with one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury, two counts of making false statements.
All of this coming out of Patrick Fitzgerald‘s investigation into who leaked undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame‘s name to the press. And while the leak wasn‘t part of the charges, Fitzgerald says the alleged cover-up is just as important.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PATRICK FITZGERALD, SPECIAL COUNSEL: The truth is the engine of our judicial system. If you compromise the truth the whole process is lost.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Now, “Scooter” Libby has resigned. He‘s also released a statement that reads, in part, it is with regret that I step aside from that service today. I am confident that at the end of this process, I will be completely and totally exonerated.
But if convicted, Libby could face up to 30 years in prison, as a practical mater, somewhere between about a year and 10 years. Before leaving the White House for the weekend, President Bush praised Libby.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Scoter has worked tirelessly on behalf of the American people and sacrificed much in the service to this country. He served the vice president and me through extraordinary times in our nation‘s history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: Including the war in Iraq. But anyone hoping Fitzgerald would indict the war along with Libby probably is going to be disappointed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FITZGERALD: People who believe fervently in the war effort, people who oppose it, people who have mixed feelings about it should not look to this indictment for any resolution of how they feel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: “My Take”—this is serious stuff. “Scooter” Libby is in big trouble. The prosecutor seems to have a lot of corroboration, other officials, not just reporters, who will dispute Libby‘s account of what he knew and when he knew it. I‘m not sure how he gets out of this one.
Tim Susanin is a former federal prosecutor, served as an associate independent counsel during the Whitewater investigation. Barbara Nicastro is a former federal prosecutor, once headed the Justice Department‘s unit in charge of setting guidelines for pursuing civil perjury charges. Pat Woodward, criminal defense attorney, who served on the Bush-Cheney legal team in 2000. And Chuck Colson was special counsel to President Richard Nixon and author of “The Good Life”. Mr. Colson plead guilty to obstruction of justice, charges related to Watergate and served seven months in prison.
Thanks to all of you for coming on the program. Pat Woodward, how do you defend this one? I mean it sounds like they‘ve just got loads and loads of corroboration.
PAT WOODWARD, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Good evening, Dan. I think Mr. Libby‘s lawyer has to convince the jury that these were careless omissions and not an attempt to materially fabricate a story. I think you have to remember that July 6, 2003 was when Ambassador Wilson went on the air with Tim Russert and accused the Bush administration of lying to the American people.
That would stand out to “Scooter” Libby, remembering this. He certainly did not prepare adequately when he talked to the FBI or the grand jury. That‘s the one thing I would fault him...
ABRAMS: Well here‘s the thing. I mean if this were just the word of three reporters, I could see them using the “blame the media” defense. All right. You know you can‘t trust Russert. You can‘t trust Miller. You can‘t trust Cooper. But here is the problem.
All right, here is the corroboration. Early—can we start from the
beginning? Early June 2003, Cheney—this is according to the indictment
Cheney tells Libby that Wilson‘s wife worked in the CIA. June 11 2000 - not that it worked for Cheney, that was wrong, but worked for the CIA.
June 11, 2003, a senior CIA officer tells Libby that Wilson‘s wife worked for the CIA. June 12, 2003, undersecretary of state tells Libby Wilson‘s wife worked for the CIA. June 14, 2003, a CIA briefer...
WOODWARD: There are nine of those statements, Dan...
ABRAMS: Right and Libby discussed Joe Wilson and Valerie Wilson. I‘m telling my viewers because this is what‘s in the indictment.
ABRAMS: July 7, 2003, Libby tells the White House press secretary Wilson‘s wife worked for the CIA and June or July of 2003, the assistant to the vice president for public affairs tells Libby that Wilson‘s wife worked for the CIA.
So Tim Susanin, I mean you know we‘re not just talking about reporters here.
TIM SUSANIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: That‘s right. And I think where you have a close perjury case is sometimes you have a he said-he said. Maybe you have one or two corroborating witnesses and so you do come in and try to convince the jury that it was a slip of the mind, or you had, just, a blank-out in recalling this. As you‘re pointing out here, we really almost can see the beginning of a cast of thousands coming in to testify at trial and you see a real pattern of folks from the CIA, from the State Department, others from the White House, and then of course the three reporters who you talk about.
And that doesn‘t necessarily, by itself, mean that the prosecutor has an airtight case, Dan. But we can be sure that when Russert and Cooper and Miller testified in front of the grand jury, they had an aura of credibility that they were certain about what was said and was not said. And when you put that testimony against these other witnesses, it‘s going to be tough to get around.
ABRAMS: But Barbara Nicastro, I mean that‘s the thing, is if you think about it, just as the reporters versus Libby, that‘s one thing. But you know it‘s not just that. I mean it‘s all these conversations. We‘re talking about what did he know effectively in July. And you have all of these conversations, according to the indictment, with not reporters but with government officials.
BARBARA NICASTRO, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, you‘re right. That‘s a difficulty he‘s going to have to get around. But by the same token, we have to remember that these charges and these statements have to be made concerning material matters. And the bottom line and the difficulty that Fitzgerald is going to have to deal with is that there is no underlying crime proved. If he could have convicted—indicted Libby or Rove or Cheney of the underlying offense that he was investigating he‘d have done it today...
ABRAMS: But his point was, was it not, was that the reason that he couldn‘t fully investigate the underlying crime was because one of the requirements for that crime is being knowing in what you‘re doing, in terms of exposing a covert agent, et cetera. And he‘s lying about, according to the indictment, about what he knew.
NICASTRO: Well, he may have been lying about what he knew. But it still doesn‘t say that there‘s proof that an underlying crime...
ABRAMS: But that‘s why you can‘t prove it.
ABRAMS: That‘s what Fitzgerald is saying.
NICASTRO: No, Fitzgerald might have had the same situation facing him, if Libby had decided not to cooperate, had taken the Fifth Amendment, had refused to talk at all. He still would have had—if there was no crime that he could find that have been committed in terms of the disclosure of this woman‘s name, or whether or not she was covered by the statute that he originally was starting to investigate, then there‘s that disconnect of he may have not told the truth, but was this something that a jury will look at and say he deserves to be convicted on?
ABRAMS: Tim, that seems to me to be wishful thinking. I mean the idea that maybe he wouldn‘t have been charged, if he had told the truth. But since he didn‘t tell the truth, according to prosecutors, and therefore they couldn‘t determine it, that works for him?
NICASTRO: Well, I‘m not saying it worked for him. The problem is that he just, you know, the difficulty is I‘ve had problems being able to prosecute and convict someone of perjury or obstruction when the underlying crime was not charged nor was I able to prove it.
ABRAMS: But, that wasn‘t—that was because you hadn‘t charged the underlying crime or that was because you didn‘t have enough evidence?
NICASTRO: I—well, both instances when I didn‘t win. One was I didn‘t have enough evidence to charge the underlying crime. And the other one was when I couldn‘t convict him on either one. But it‘s very difficult in my opinion...
NICASTRO: ... to convict someone of perjury, obstruction when you don‘t have the underlying crime...
ABRAMS: Maybe—Tim Susanin, maybe I‘m hearing things differently, but I spoke with a number of federal prosecutors today who said it‘s really not hard to get convictions in cases like that if you‘ve got the evidence.
SUSANIN: Well I take Barbara‘s point in the sense that, Dan, sometimes you do have a spillover where the underlying case doesn‘t come together and then work—to the extent you have a credibility call on the perjury, those charges go down with the main case. But I think what you are talking about, and we‘ve seen this recently in the news in terms of the Martha Stewart case, the—Lil‘ Kim, the rapper—in fact those two cases put together basically give you the Libby case because Martha Stewart was convicted of false statements to the FBI in the interview. And the rapper was convicted of perjury in the grand jury.
And certainly we do have cases where you can have those without the underlying crime. You know there‘s an argument to make when you‘re on the defense side that of course there‘s a linkage between the fringe charge, the whistle and bell charge of perjury to the underlying offense.
But in reality, they‘re different crimes. This grand jury, this prosecutor was tasked to get to the truth. Whether a witness is killed or documents are destroyed or people lie, it‘s a crime...
ABRAMS: And the sentence for obstruction of justice is linked to the crime that they were investigating, even if they don‘t charge it, right?
SUSANIN: That‘s right. That‘s right. It‘s usually an enhancement...
ABRAMS: Yes. All right.
SUSANIN: ... under the guidelines, which of course are now the guidance.
ABRAMS: Let me talk to Chuck Colson for a minute. All right. Chuck, how did this all go down in your case? What kind of defense was there? Did all of these issues come up?
CHUCK COLSON, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I just lost the sound.
ABRAMS: Oh, can you hear me now, Chuck?
COLSON: I lost the sound when that question was asked.
ABRAMS: All right. What I was asking you was in your case, did these sorts of issues come up? And in terms of the defense and in terms of the notion that somehow it was a technicality, or that the underlying crime wasn‘t charged, et cetera.
COLSON: Well, it wasn‘t a technicality. The underlying crime in Watergate, everybody went to prison for obstruction of justice or perjury. No one went for the underlying crime. That‘s the difficulty with a special prosecutor in a case like this. Because if you bring someone in to testify enough times, they will contradict themselves, if they‘re telling the truth. If they‘ve memorized it and it‘s a lie, they won‘t.
And so if you—if these gentlemen participated in the process, they could have, as the woman prosecutor earlier mentioned on this program, taken the Fifth Amendment, they never would have been indicted.
COLSON: But in cooperating, which of course as public officials they had to, they hung themselves. And it was stupidity not to tell the truth or be much more careful than they were with the accounts they gave to the grand jury.
ABRAMS: In your case did you lie?
COLSON: I did not. I was never charged with perjury and I testified 44 times under oath. But I was charged with obstruction of justice. But I went before a grand jury because, even when I was told not to by my lawyers, because I wanted to cooperate. And I took one day in the grand jury and that was enough. The whole grand jury, it‘s a charade.
It‘s just a (INAUDIBLE) to the prosecutor. The grand jury in my case was sitting reading newspapers. Half the people were asleep. Remember it‘s 23 or 24 people, taking the first one chosen, nobody gets challenged on a grand jury.
COLSON: The public thinks that these people have had a fair hearing.
They have not.
ABRAMS: Well, I don‘t know. Tim Susanin, I would think most federal prosecutors would probably dispute that, right?
SUSANIN: Well especially in this kind of a case where the grand jury is not sitting hearing boilerplate drug possession cases, 20 cases a day maybe, Dan. They really were an investigating grand jury and in these high-profile cases, like we‘ve seen in Iran-Contra...
SUSANIN: ... and Whitewater and so forth, you know witnesses come in, not FBI agents to summarize something that they saw on the street corner. They‘re very involved.
ABRAMS: All right. Let me do this. Let me take a break. Pat Woodward, I want to come back to you. I apologize. Take a quick break. Everyone is going to stick around.
Coming up, Karl Rove, the president‘s top aide, not indicted today, not in the clear though. Did we get any clues about what happens to him now? We‘ll talk exclusively with the lawyer for the couple at the center of it all, Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson.
Plus, a mother under arrest on suspicion of being an accomplice to her son after the fact in Pamela Vitale‘s murder. What role do police think she played in the killing of legal analyst Daniel Horowitz‘s wife? We‘ve got a hold of a new document in the murder investigation.
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FITZGERALD: For the people who work at the CIA and work at other places, they have to expect that when they do their jobs that classified information will be protected. They have to expect that when they do their jobs that information about whether or not they‘re affiliated with the CIA will be protected. And they run a risk when they work for the CIA that something bad can happen to them. But they have to make sure that they don‘t run the risk that something bad is going to happen to them for something done by their own fellow government employees.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: OK, the question is Karl Rove in the clear? The president‘s top political advisor is still being investigated. He has been called before Fitzgerald‘s grand jury four times. He‘s said to have discussed outed CIA officer Valerie Plame with two reporters. Now that Libby‘s indictment has been handed up and no indictment for Rove, his attorney, Robert Luskin says Fitzgerald advised him he‘s made no decision about bringing charges and that his status hasn‘t changed.
Meanwhile, Mr. Rove will continue to cooperate fully with the special counsel‘s efforts to complete the investigation. We are confident that when the special counsel finishes his work he will conclude that Mr. Rove has done nothing wrong.
Pat Woodward, could you read any of the body language or the comments, the little subtleties in the press conference from Patrick Fitzgerald? Whenever he was asked about Rove, he didn‘t really want to get into it, said he couldn‘t talk about it. But he sure made it sound like he is at the end of his investigation.
WOODWARD: It sounded that way. There‘s no evidence that I saw of collusion between Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove. So nothing really jumps out at me in this indictment that would indicate that Mr. Rove is in jeopardy. I would like to take quick issue, if I would—if I could, Dan, with my good friend Tim Susanin in comparing this to the Martha Stewart case. Ms. Stewart affirmatively altered a phone log and tried to cover her tracks and there‘s no indication that Mr. Libby did that in this case.
ABRAMS: Come on, you‘re suggesting that the Martha Stewart case was more serious than this one?
WOODWARD: I‘m not suggesting that. But on the limited point of what affirmative steps people took to obstruct justice, I don‘t think that Mr. Libby went to the extent that Ms. Stewart did in her case.
ABRAMS: Well Ms. Stewart didn‘t go in front of a grand jury more than once, right, repeating what the prosecutor says he‘s got firm evidence or inaccurate statements.
WOODWARD: She—right, she talked to the FBI agents...
WOODWARD: ... that‘s correct.
SUSANIN: And that was the similarity, Pat, that I was trying to draw, is that she was convicted of false statements to the FBI, which of course is what Mr. Libby has been indicted with.
ABRAMS: Barbara Nicastro, I mean I was thinking going into this that Karl Rove was probably going to be in trouble, that it was probably some sort of deal cut where the prosecutor—or the lawyer for Karl Rove said, look, give me a few more days here and then the prosecutor said OK, OK. But from listening to Fitzgerald and again, he asked us not to read the tealeaves, but of course we will, it sure sounded like he‘s pretty close to being done.
NICASTRO: Well, if Fitzgerald had had enough evidence to convict Karl Rove you can be sure his name would have been on the top of that indictment. I don‘t even think he has enough right now to bring an indictment. And the only option that Fitzgerald has is perhaps he‘s going to get some evidence from Libby or from another unknown source that‘s going to help them out in the future. But even if Libby would roll over and cooperate, and hand him up Karl Rove on a silver platter, you have a convicted perjurer or convicted...
NICASTRO: ... obstructer of justice or someone who‘s lied to the FBI as your prime witness. And believe me, that‘s just about...
ABRAMS: Yes, I don‘t see that. I mean it‘s a good point. I just—
I don‘t see it happening in terms of getting Libby to somehow roll over on Karl Rove. I mean because, again, Libby has testified in front of the grand jury numerous times. He‘d have to be basically changing his story, right?
NICASTRO: Absolutely. I mean he is going to have to lie—the old prosecutor‘s ploy, are you lying now or were you lying then. The jury is going to have to look at the statements...
NICASTRO: ... and say which one is the truth.
ABRAMS: This is from the indictment. This is talking about Libby.
From shortly after the publication of the article in “The New Republic”, Libby spoke by telephone with his then principal deputy, discussed the article. That official asked Libby whether information about Wilson‘s trip could be shared with the press to rebut the allegations that the vice president sent Wilson. Libby responded that there would be complications at the CIA in disclosing that information publicly and said that he could not discuss the matter on a non-secure phone line.
Pat Woodward, it sure sounded to me—look, the prosecutor says he did not have enough to prosecute on the underlying crime of effectively you know outing intentionally knowingly, et cetera, with all of the requirements under this statute...
ABRAMS: ... but it sounded to me, from listening to Fitzgerald and listening to that paragraph, that he was close.
WOODWARD: Right. He‘s showing that Mr. Libby had knowledge that he shouldn‘t be sharing this information and to the extent that he could prove that a reporter got this information directly from Mr. Libby, you would think he would go ahead with it.
ABRAMS: Yes. All right, Tim Susanin, Brad Blakeman (ph), Barbara Nicastro, Pat Woodward, and Chuck Colson, thanks a lot.
SUSANIN: Thanks, Dan.
NICASTRO: Thank you.
ABRAMS: With me now for an exclusive interview is Chris Wolf, the attorney for former Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame, the couple at the center of this storm.
Mr. Wolf, thank you very much for coming on the program. Appreciate it.
CHRIS WOLF, ATTORNEY FOR AMB. WILSON & VALERIE PLAME: Sure. Happy to be here, Dan.
ABRAMS: All right. So what is Joe Wilson‘s position on what happened today?
WOLF: Well, in the statement I read in front of the courthouse today Joe expressed really his profound sadness that this has come to pass. It‘s obviously not a day to celebrate when a senior White House official is indicted. I think as Joe put it, the White House is defiled. The office of the president is defiled when something like this has happened.
ABRAMS: I‘ve heard people speculate that the reason that the special prosecutor was not able to charge Libby on the underlying charge of effectively outing Valerie Plame was because Joe Wilson used to go around town, introducing her as his CIA wife.
WOLF: That‘s complete nonsense. And it‘s the kind of smear campaign that‘s been leveled against the Wilsons and it‘s got to stop...
ABRAMS: Not true, right?
WOLF: Absolutely not true. You know I‘m almost to the point where I can recite Joseph Welch‘s famous line, at long last have you no sense of decency. This is not about Joe Wilson or Valerie Wilson. It‘s about what the White House did to people who raised issues about the reasons for going to war, including the family of the critic who raised that issue.
I think Mr. Fitzgerald put it very clearly that what happened was wrong. The classified status of a CIA employee was breached. No good explanation has ever been provided for why that happened. And we can simply surmise that why that happened was for a bad reason.
And what Mr. Fitzgerald said was the alleged obstruction, perjury and false statements was equivalent to throwing sand in the umpire‘s eyes. He couldn‘t see exactly why it was done. But it sure doesn‘t sound like, and it sure doesn‘t look like it was done for a good reason.
ABRAMS: But he also did make a point of talking about her covert—he used the term her cover was blown. He talked about the fact that college friends, and neighbors, et cetera, didn‘t know...
ABRAMS: ... about her status...
WOLF: Exactly right.
ABRAMS: ... and it sure sounded to me, as I said a moment ago, like it was pretty close to him charging on the underlying charge, so why do you think he didn‘t?
WOLF: Well, I can‘t comment on that. I know—essentially, everything I know is what I‘ve been reading in the papers and seeing on your show and others. I don‘t know. But I did listen to Mr. Fitzgerald when he expressed outrage at the disclosure of Valerie Wilson‘s identity, and the fact that his investigation was impeded.
WOLF: It‘s still ongoing. And there are also other avenues to find out the truth. And I‘m hoping and the Wilsons are hoping that eventually the truth will out.
ABRAMS: Let me ask you this, the issue, of course, of outing a CIA agent is the danger that one puts that agent in...
ABRAMS: ... or at least that‘s one of the issues that comes up.
ABRAMS: Did Valerie Plame ever feel in danger as a result of this?
WOLF: Absolutely. She was absolutely shocked and devastated when her status was disclosed in the Robert Novak article.
ABRAMS: But shocked and devastated is different from feeling in danger.
WOLF: Well to this day she feels vulnerable. There are enough crazy people out there who want to do things to CIA agents and she certainly did not want her identity known. And she did not want those with whom she may have worked associated or identified as conceivably they were. And as Mr. Fitzgerald put it, this put in jeopardy other people as well.
ABRAMS: How closely has Mr. Fitzgerald been working with you or—and Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame?
WOLF: Well all I can say is obviously the Wilsons have cooperated with the investigation fully, have answered all questions put to them and done everything that Mr. Fitzgerald and his staff have asked them to do. And as I said today, on behalf of Mr. Wilson, they have the utmost respect for his professionalism and his diligence and his courage.
ABRAMS: Bottom line, are they satisfied with today‘s indictment?
WOLF: Well, I‘m not sure satisfied is the right term. I think saddened is more like it. Because it is not a good development when senior White House officials are charged with serious felonies, and the fundamental facts are still not known. Why was Valerie Plame‘s cover blown? We know it wasn‘t for a good reason. And I think the country is entitled to know what that reason was.
ABRAMS: Chris Wolf thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
WOLF: Sure. Happy to be here.
ABRAMS: Coming up, another arrest in Pamela Vitale‘s murder, the mother of the alleged killer. That‘s right. The mother of the alleged killer is now behind bars, booked as an accessory to the crime after it allegedly happened. We‘ve got new details on how police say they cracked the case.
And Robert Blake no longer the only one who appears to lose it on the stand in his trial. Marlon Brando‘s son, Christian, apparently tried to send the jurors not so subtle messages.
Our continuing series, “Manhunt: Sex Offenders on the Loose”, our effort to help find missing sex offenders before they strike. This week‘s search is in Connecticut.
Authorities are looking for Marc Seward, 35, 5‘5”, 145, convicted of two charges of sexual assault in ‘95, hasn‘t properly registered with the state. If you‘ve got any information, it‘s 860-685-8060.
Be right back.
ABRAMS: Coming up, police arrest the mother of the man accused of killing Daniel Horowitz‘s wife, Pamela Vitale. First, headlines.
ABRAMS: We‘ve got a big development to report in the Pamela Vitale murder case. The mother of the teen charged with killing the wife of legal analyst Daniel Horowitz is behind bars tonight. The mother of the teen being held on $500,000 bail, booked just hours before her 16-year-old son was charged with murder. Esther Fielding was arrested on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact.
Joining me now by phone, Jim Zamora from the “San Francisco Chronicle”. Jim thanks for coming on the program. All right. What do we know about what they‘ve got on mom?
JIM ZAMORA, “SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE” (via phone): Well, at this point she is arrested on suspicion of being an accessory after the fact of the homicide. They have not yet filed any charges on her, or said anything else about it. There‘s currently a gag order in effect, so the prosecutors aren‘t talking. And they haven‘t filed any fresh papers today in court in California.
What we do know is that they suspect that she had some role after the crime and after the killing of Pamela Vitale. We do know from search warrants that some clothing—some bloody clothing was found in a van that she owns, that was on their property. It was a broken-down van. It wasn‘t working.
It was towed off of there. It‘s—that‘s one thing that we know. The other thing that we know is that according to search warrant information, she may have had some—and also interviews, I might add—is that she may have had some inkling that her son was involved in this alleged credit card scam prior to the time that her son was arrested for the homicide. Those are really the only things. But the prosecutors haven‘t charged her yet and they haven‘t said what exactly they think that she did.
ABRAMS: What are people...
ABRAMS: What are people who know the family saying to you about this? Are they saying this mom‘s whole family was trouble or are they saying this was, you know, great suburban mom?
ZAMORA: Well, actually, something in between the two. They weren‘t the typical suburban family by any means. But on the other hand, the people that really know Esther Fielding and know Scott Dyleski are pretty shocked by the arrest. They‘re pretty stunned by this. They‘re pretty stunned that she may have had any role in this.
And I‘ve interviewed some people that are very close to her. And they believe that she had no knowledge of the homicide until—or of her son‘s alleged role in the homicide until her son was arrested. And that she was in complete shock after—at that time and after the fact. And these friends are pretty stunned that she is arrested. They don‘t think it‘s anything like her. She doesn‘t seem to have any kind of recent police record that we‘ve been able to track down. And people are pretty surprised about this.
ABRAMS: Yes. All right, Jim Zamora, if you could just stick around for a moment, let me bring in my panel here. Got Steven Clark, former prosecutor and friend of Daniel Horowitz, criminal defense attorney Michael Cardoza, and former FBI profiler and MSNBC analyst Clint Van Zandt. You can read Clint‘s insights on all this on “The Profiler‘s Perspective” on our Web site, abramsreport.msnbc.com.
All right, Steven, what to make of this? I mean the mother being arrested?
STEVEN CLARK, FRIEND OF DANIEL HOROWITZ: Well, Dan, as I mentioned at the arraignment they had reserved a seat for her, for her to support her son and as I mentioned, she wasn‘t there. And we now know where she was, which was in police custody. I think that the police feel that she impeded this investigation to a significant degree, either by helping conceal evidence...
CLARK: ... or by assisting her son in avoiding prosecution at an earlier time.
CLARK: And if she did either of those two things, knowing that there was a criminal investigation going on, she‘s guilty of being an accessory after the murder occurred and it‘s a very serious offense. I do think the police probably contacted her and said we need to speak with your son about this incident. And then she then had that conversation with her son, don‘t come back to the house tonight. And that‘s part...
CLARK: ... of being an accessory after the fact.
ABRAMS: What was in the police report basically said that she—that according to a friend of his, that he had talked to his mother and she had said, you know what, there‘s a lot of police activity around here, you may not want to come home. Michael Cardoza, my guess would be that it‘s probably related to something more, meaning you know because they did find a duffel bag, for example, in a car, and I would guess that they‘re probably going to be charging, if they‘re charging, for her allegedly helping him with evidence.
MICHAEL CARDOZA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I‘m looking a little bit deeper into this. One of the reports out there is that in the duffel bag there was a bloody glove.
CARDOZA: And apparently Scott wore gloves during this homicide. So did she know that he had committed a homicide? That‘s a tough crime to prove. I mean they have to prove first that she knew he had committed a crime. Then she aided and abetted after that. Tough to prove.
But I‘m looking a little deeper than that, Dan. Think about this. You‘ve got mom in jail, you‘ve got son in jail. Psychologically, how is that going to play on the mom? Is she going to give up information about her son maybe to get a lighter sentence if the prosecution can prove it? Or is the son going to step up to the plate? Remember, what‘s he, 17, 18 years old? He‘s going to step up to the plate...
CARDOZA: ... and go look, my mom, leave her alone...
CARDOZA: ... let me tell you what happened, so there are going to be some interesting psychological happenings here.
ABRAMS: Let me lay out all the details that we‘ve been learning about exactly how this all went down. And this is just coming out in some police documents. From the beginning let‘s go through.
October 15, about 6:00 p.m., Daniel Horowitz finds his wife dead in their home, calls 911, police are looking for clues. Court documents showed Dyleski, the teen—there he is—was hanging out. His friend told police Dyleski arrived at a friend‘s residence with his girlfriend. About an hour later they—quote—“left and stated they were going to the girlfriend‘s house to have sex.” But before leaving, Dyleski reportedly called his mother—now, she‘s the one suspected of being an accessory after the fact.
Quote—“She informed him of the police activity within the area and directed him to spend the night at his girlfriend‘s house as the road had been blocked off.” The next morning, the 16th, canine dog, Freddy, tracks a scent from Vitale‘s home to a neighbor‘s home, not Dyleski‘s. Inside the shower there, they find a bucket filled with water, pieces of clothing, soaking in the water, which is tainted red.
The next day, the 17th, police determine the killer wore gloves during the crime and another neighbor tells police about recent unauthorized use of his credit card to buy equipment to grow pot scheduled for delivery at Vitale‘s home. The equipment never delivered. Two days later police freeze Dyleski‘s home while waiting for a judge to issue a search warrant. They talk to his mom.
Quote—“Esther Fielding provided information that her son was at an address in the city of Walnut Creek. That he knew he was in trouble over credit cards and that he has an attorney.”
Dyleski is arrested the same day, his home searched. Police take documents, computer, bedding, knives, a duffel bag found inside, inoperable car belonging to Dyleski‘s mother. And as Michael just pointed out, inside the duffel bag clothing with traces of blood and a single bloodstained glove.
So Clint, it sounds like the police have pieced this together pretty well.
CLINT VAN ZANDT, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Yes, I think they have, Dan. The challenge here, of course, is, is this is a young man with a mood disorder or is this a budding sociopath? I kind of err on the side of sociopath right now. Here we have—he comes to the scene, he apparently confronts the victim, he uses multiple weapons.
As you know, he hits her 39 times, he stabs her, he flips her over, carves a cross into her back. Then, Dan, he is smart enough, he takes a shower, he takes the weapons away, he hides the weapons, apparently. We‘ve got the O.J. bloody glove, again, that appears at another location. So, this doesn‘t appear to be someone who just came on the scene and lost it. He was methodical enough to have the weapons, have the evidence of the crime, and take those away in an attempt to cover up the crime.
ABRAMS: Michael Cardoza, $500,000 bail for the mother, surprising?
CARDOZA: A little bit surprising. I mean in a normal case, the violation—it‘s 32 of the penal code. It wouldn‘t be quite that high, but you have a high publicity case. If you believe, and they‘ve got to believe right now when you set the bail, that the mother was involved in this. There‘s a high propensity to take off. I mean if you‘re going to help someone cover up a murder, a judge has to think you‘re probably going to get out of town...
CARDOZA: ... so let‘s put that bail high. So no, it‘s not surprising.
ABRAMS: Clint, do you think that the authorities should come out and say, we have cleared Daniel Horowitz, we have cleared Joe Lynch, this neighbor, and just sort of—on the Web and our e-mailers, still people saying, oh, I think Daniel Horowitz is involved—I think Joe Lynch—I mean don‘t you think that they should come out if they‘ve cleared them and say you know what, they‘re not suspects?
VAN ZANDT: You know when that should take place, and I think it should, but I agree with your other guest that were this my case I would find reason to arrest the mother, I would use the mother, I would talk to the 17-year-old boy, now 17, and say, hey, there‘s no reason your mother taking the fall. Where is the two weapons that link you to the crime?
And then come out and say, of course, Daniel Horowitz had nothing to do with this. But, you know, you don‘t want to set a precedent even though, you know, you and Danny are real tight and I know that, and I know he is innocent as the day is long. But you don‘t want to set a precedent for too early waving the innocent...
ABRAMS: Yes and look...
VAN ZANDT: ... flag until you tie all of this together.
ABRAMS: And let me make this clear, if they still are investigating him, then fine don‘t say it. I mean he was very—look, he came on the show, he said I know they‘re investigating me...
VAN ZANDT: Absolutely.
ABRAMS: He‘s very straight about it. I mean...
ABRAMS: ... so—and Steve Clark, is he—you‘re much—you know him a lot better than I do. I mean is he comfortable with the way the investigation is going?
CLARK: I think he is very comfortable and I think he doesn‘t want to distract the investigation by attending proceedings. He has a lot of confidence in the D.A.‘s office and in the Contra Costa sheriffs. He was very, very happy that they made this arrest.
ABRAMS: All right. Jim Zamora, Steve Clark, Michael Cardoza, Clint Van Zandt, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.
VAN ZANDT: Thank you...
ABRAMS: Coming up, we‘ve got some breaking news out of New Orleans. The police department there has just fired 51 people, 45 officers, six civilians, for abandoning their posts before and after Hurricane Katrina. We‘ve got one of the city‘s top cops on this breaking news story.
And Christian Brando...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... whisper to jurors about what he thinks about Robert Blake‘s guilt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABRAMS: 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: We‘ve got breaking news to report to you. Forty-five police officers in New Orleans have just been fired for deserting their posts before or after Hurricane Katrina. We‘ve got one of the city‘s top cops joining us in a moment.
ABRAMS: We‘ve got some breaking news to report to you now. Remember the allegations of New Orleans police deserting their posts before and after Hurricane Katrina? Well acting Superintendent Warren Riley has just announced that 51 members of the force, 45 officers and six civilian employees have just been fired for doing that.
Joining us now by phone once again is New Orleans police spokesperson Captain Marlon Defillo. Captain thanks for coming back on the program.
All right, so we were told initially that there was something like 240 officers who had been unaccounted for. How did they decide on taking action against these 45?
CAPT. MARLON DEFILLO, NEW ORLEANS POLICE DEPT. SPOKESPERSON (via phone): Well, that‘s a separate investigation. And thank you for having me. The 51 officers who were terminated effective tomorrow, these are officers and civilians who have not reported to work as of today. The remaining 228 persons who remain under administrative review, that‘s a whole another process, so the 51 people that we mentioned today are people who have not come to work, who may have come in the early days and left, and did not call in, or report to duty, or just simply did not show.
But the remaining 228 are people that we‘re reviewing right now. Now let me qualify that, the 228. We‘re going to go through that number and there are a number of police officers who were stranded in their homes, on their rooftops, were displaced from their assignments. And so they‘re a part of the review process. We didn‘t want to leave anyone out, so you‘re going to have people in that number. And as we begin to reduce that number, then we‘ll get a clearer picture on how many of that number of officers did not report to duty.
ABRAMS: Right, and so let‘s be clear, you are not taking action against officers who needed to protect themselves, protect their families. These are people who just left...
ABRAMS: ... and you haven‘t heard from them.
DEFILLO: The 51 -- exactly. Those are people who just left and haven‘t called in, haven‘t reported to work as of October 28. So, the acting superintendent, Warren Riley, sent out abandonment letters to those persons, wherever they may be, and told them that they are terminated from the police department.
ABRAMS: And these are people who haven‘t even called, and you haven‘t heard a thing from these people...
DEFILLO: That‘s correct.
ABRAMS: ... since Katrina?
DEFILLO: Yes. And it‘s very unfortunate because many of these persons were veteran officers. Some were rookie officers. But all of them have taken an oath of office to support this city and their fellow colleagues and did not do that. And as a result, abandoned...
DEFILLO: ... this city, abandoned their colleagues. And Chief Riley took the appropriate action. So, it‘s a good day for the New Orleans Police Department.
ABRAMS: Captain, real quick, how are things doing in New Orleans?
DEFILLO: Things are going very well. Each and every day is a better day for the police department, for the community. Every day the city is coming more and more alive. There is a rebuilding, people are excited about New Orleans rebounding. People are returning to their homes and they‘re ready to get to work.
ABRAMS: Captain, thanks for coming on the program on such short notice. Appreciate it.
DEFILLO: My pleasure.
ABRAMS: Christian Brando, son of one of the greatest actors of all time. Too bad he didn‘t take some of his father‘s acting advice when he took the stand in Robert Blake‘s civil trial.
And I had an idea for who President Bush should nominate for the Supreme Court. Some of you say no way. Your e-mails coming up.
And our continuing series, “Sex Offenders On The Loose”, our effort to help find missing sex offenders before they strike again. We conclude our search in Connecticut this week, with the search for Orlando Cheverez, 44, 5‘7”, 183, convicted of sexual assault in ‘85 and has not confirmed his address with authorities. If you‘ve got any information on his whereabouts, please contact the Connecticut Department of Public Safety, 860-685-8060.
ABRAMS: My “Closing Argument”—tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That‘s what you‘re supposed to do if you‘re a witness at a trial, right? That‘s exactly what Christian Brando, the son of actor Marlon Brando, would say he was doing this week in Robert Blake‘s civil case. And yet he could be in a load of trouble.
The former “Baretta” star of course accused of the 2001 killing of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakely. He was found not guilty in a criminal trial but is now being sued by his wife‘s family. Along with taking the Fifth more than two dozen times, some jurors say Brando pointed at Blake and mouthed “guilty” while the judge was looking away.
Another juror insist no, she saw something very different. That Brando really mouthed, he killed her. Blake‘s attorney, Peter Ezzell, says we‘re going to seek a contempt citation against Christian Brando proving that honesty is not always the best policy. What kind of legal system would we have if the jurors were mouthing about how bored they were or the defense attorney was mouthing his client scares him or the judge was mouthing about how bad the prosecutor was.
Sometimes these things are better left unsaid.
Coming up, it didn‘t really work. (INAUDIBLE) tries. last night I offered up a name for the Supreme Court. One of you has a much more comprehensive list of names that let‘s just say many more people would know. Your e-mails are up next.
ABRAMS: I‘ve had my say, now it‘s time for “Your Rebuttal”. Last night in my “Closing Argument”, I threw a name out there who I thought would be a good choice to the Supreme Court for those on both sides of the aisle, former Solicitor General Ted Olson, an attorney and professor of law (INAUDIBLE).
Larry Ince in Oakhurst, California, “True, he‘s frequently the smartest legal mind in the room, but his baggage from enabling the highest court to decide a 2000 presidential election by politics from the bench and his inability to sit down at the same dinner table as a Democrat makes him a likely target of a desire for a little political street justice in retribution.”
Well first of all, as I said, I know him and I‘ve had dinner where he sat nice and close to David Boies and other Democrats. That‘s nonsense. And you‘re going to disqualify him because he won a case?
I also said his age, 65, shouldn‘t disqualify him either. San Diego, Susan Vermilyea, “His age should not be considered a liability. It‘s apparent that he‘s an eloquent speaker and a clear thinker.”
Bernie Flem (ph) in Yonkers, New York has his own list. “Here‘s my short list. Number one, Judge Judy. He says Jewish American female. Number two, Judge Milian, “People‘s Court”. He says Hispanic American female. Number three, Judge Hatchett, African American female. And number four, Judge Reinhold, a man born to do the job.”
It did take me a minute to get that one. I‘m asking people around here—I‘m like who‘s Judge Reinhold? Where is he a judge? All these other judges I know from TV. Judge Reinhold -- and I‘m like Judge Reinhold. I get it!
Finally, Mark Raymer in Tampa with one of the many e-mails I get correcting my pronunciation. “I have a pet peeve. When you give out phone numbers, you refer to the zeroes as O‘s. There are no letters in phone numbers. I just find this very annoying, especially from someone as intelligent and articulate as yourself. You may just disregard this e-mail and think I am full of p-zero-zero-p.”
Mark, I have a pet peeve and it‘s people who have pet peeves about things that really mean...
Your e-mails firstname.lastname@example.org. Got to go. Have a great weekend. “HARDBALL” with Chris Matthews up next.
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