Panel Discusses Andrew Luster's Capture
Aired June 25, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: the latest on three sensational court cases that have riveted the nation. First, a very big hearing tomorrow in the Scott Peterson murder case. Search warrants, wiretaps, lifting the gag order, punishing prosecutors -- it could all be up for grabs. And then the Texas woman accused of hitting a man with her car, driving home with him stuck to her windshield and leaving him there to die. And of course, Andrew Luster, handsome great-grandson of cosmetic legend Max Factor. What drove him to become a serial rapist and to jump a million-dollar bail in the middle of a trial, only to be captured in Mexico by a bounty hunter after five months on the run? It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE. We begin first with the extraordinary case of Andrew Luster. And the guests are, here in Los Angeles, Roger Jon Diamond. He is Andrew Luster's attorney. In Chicago, the well-known Bill Kurtis. "Bill Kurtis Special Report" will air tonight at 10:00 o'clock Eastern, "A Twisted Mind: The Andrew Luster Story." It's on A&E. It's produced by CBS News Productions for A&E and Bill Kurtis is the Emmy-Award- winning documentary anchor and producer. In New York is Nancy Grace, the host of "Trial Heat" on Court TV and a former prosecutor. In Atlanta is Chris Pixley, defense attorney. And in New York is Dr. Michael Welner, who published first and only the research study on American drug-facilitated rapists. He's associate professor of psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, chairman of the forensic panel and developer of the depravity scale, which distinguishes exceptional crimes for sentencing.
Andrew Luster, who's the great-grandson of cosmetic magnate Max Factor, was arrested in July of 2000 after a UC Santa Barbara student identified him -- identified as Carrie Doe (ph) -- not the real name, of course -- told that Luster had drugged and raped her. And he jumped bail while on trial.
How -- have you spoken to him since his return?
ROGER JON DIAMOND, ANDREW LUSTER'S ATTORNEY: No. I've had somebody go up there to talk to him. I've been working very diligently to get his appeal reinstated, so I've been staying down here and working on the motion to reinstate the bail, to get his cash back, and also to get his bail back, and also to get his appeal reinstated.
KING: What are the main grounds, since he jumped bail?
DIAMOND: Well, under California law, if you come back with 180 days of your departure, then the law does allow the bail to be reinstated.
KING: He's not voluntarily back, though.
DIAMOND: Well, it doesn't matter whether he comes back voluntarily or not. If he's back within 180 days, he can get his bail reinstated. So that's what we're working on now with the Ventura Superior Court. And simultaneously, we're working on trying to get his appeal reinstated.
KING: I see. Are you claiming that he -- this was voluntary on the part of these women? Is that the argument of the defense?
DIAMOND: In the trial. In the trial court proceedings, the defense was that the women with whom he had sex voluntarily engaged in mutual drug-taking of GHB drug and also had sex. These were party women, and he was having fun with them and it was all consensual. That was his position.
KING: He jumped and was convicted in absentia, right?
DIAMOND: He left in the middle of the trial. That's correct. He was not there for the second half of the trial. The judge ordered me to stay on the case and ordered the case to proceed in his absence.
KING: I see. Had you ever had anything like that happen?
DIAMOND: Never happened before.
KING: Bill Kurtis, let's -- before we ask you, let's show a clip from the show you're going to do tonight. It's tonight's special report, "A Twisted Mind: The Andrew Luster Story." Let's watch, and I'll have a question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP - "A TWISTED MIND: THE ANDREW LUSTER STORY")
BILL KURTIS, HOST (voice-over): To the prosecutors, this was the most disturbing case of sexual abuse they had ever encountered.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's doing things to their bodies that I wouldn't describe, but while he's doing it, he's looking at the camera and smiling with the most satanic grin that I've ever seen.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're very difficult to watch. And they're very disturbing.
ANDREW LUSTER: I'm not the kind of guy who would commit heinous acts of illicitly drugging women. That's just -- it's not in my character. And I would never do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Bill, if his defense is that they were voluntary, why have you already determined that he has "a twisted mind"?
KURTIS: Well, without the videotapes, I think Mr. Diamond may have had a very good case. It's difficult to prove consensual -- that it wasn't consensual sex. GHB leaves the body within about four hours, so it's difficult to get that kind of evidence. And this was a party girl, in many cases, the three who were presented by the prosecution. There is a prejudice against those who go to a bar to have a good time and then say no. But the issue seems to be that when someone is comatose or passes out, you can no longer assume that it is consensual sex. And we must use this as a lesson in the future.
KING: So -- and the tapes are conclusive to you?
KURTIS: Well, the tapes are rather devastating. I think Mr. Diamond would admit that it's pretty hard, one, when your defendant leaves in the middle of a trial, to go ahead to a successful defense, and two, when you're going up against these tapes. Now, I do believe that the defense said that, Well, why didn't we put in all 16 of the videotapes, that, in fact, it shows some of the women, as you saw there in one, at least, participating in the videotape?
KURTIS: And -- but it's when the women are unconscious on the bed and then Mr. Luster goes ahead that makes it difficult.
KING: Agreed, Roger?
DIAMOND: Well, that was part of the prosecution's theory that the women did not consent. And of course, all of the women testified against him, which made it difficult. One of the women who testified against him, however, lied on the witness stand when she denied ever appearing knowingly in front of a camera, having sex with him and having drugs. And it was that witness who lied, we think, that led Andrew Luster to leave the court because the judge allowed the lie to remain because the DA told the judge outside the presence of the jury that the witness made a mistake. And the judge would not allow me to cross-examine the witness at that moment and said, Come back in two weeks, and we'll do it.
KING: Dr. Welner, what is GHB?
DR. MICHAEL WELNER, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: GHB is a dream substance for somebody who has a motive to carry out a crime like this. Andrew Luster isn't really an unusual defendant at all in a case like this because what distinguishes crimes like this is the means to get the kind of drug, to do it in a setting where someone has complete control over, like his home, the opportunity to have complete control over a trusting victim, like someone that you party with, a social relationship, and then a plan so that you can get away with it, convince the victim that it was consensual or have her unconscious and not remember until she wakes up.
GHB has an abrupt impact. It's quickly metabolized and out of your system before law enforcement can get the opportunity to have hospital tests pick it up. Most importantly, it not only knocks out a victim, but it erases the memory. It's almost as if -- what if a criminal had the opportunity to have an eraser to wipe out all DNA and all physical evidence? It would make law enforcement impossible.
KING: Nancy, is it rape if you use GHB?
NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: If the woman does not consent to sex, then it is rape. And I've got a question, a very interesting question for Mr. Diamond. You have referred to these victims as "party girls." And I would like to know, what exactly, sir, is a party girl, according to your legal definition?
DIAMOND: I didn't refer to them as party girls. I think Larry referred to them as party girls.
KING: No, I didn't. Bill Kurtis did.
DIAMOND: I'm sorry. Bill Kurtis...
KURTIS: I don't think I did.
GRACE: That has been the defense throughout this case, is that these victims, two of them were party girls and one of them was a disgruntled ex-girlfriend. And I would like to know what exactly -- then I'll ask it to Bill Kurtis -- what you mean by referring to these young ladies as "party girls." When you go into a bar, does that somehow mean it's OK for you to be drugged and raped on video? I mean, I've dealt with plenty of rape victims that go through...
KING: Let him answer, Nancy!
GRACE: ... the humiliation of rape, but on video?
KING: Nancy, you made the point. Let him answer.
KURTIS: Well, going to the bar is not exactly like going to the 1st Presbyterian potluck supper. Many of these girls go looking for a good time. In fact, Carrie Doe was taken to the Malibu house, went to the beach, went out on a pier, took her clothes off and jumped into the water off the pier. At that point, it would not have been rape because she was fully cognizant of what she was doing.
GRACE: But she was simply...
KURTIS: There is a point...
KING: One at a time!
KING: One at a time. Roger? And then I want to ask Chris Pixley.
DIAMOND: I have to add something. Before she jumped into the water voluntarily, she was having sex in the back seat of the car with the other guy who was joining them. In other words, Andrew was in the front seat, driving. Andrew's friend was a passenger. And Carrie was in the back seat, having sex with her own friend while they were driving to his home in Ventura.
KING: Chris Pixley, does the defense seem up against it here? CHRIS PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, they do, Larry. You know, one of the particularly difficult things about trying a sexual assault case like this is that, as a defense attorney, you have to be able to look at, you know, harmless consensual behavior, the kind that a prosecutor might go overboard and try to paint as deviant. But then you have to be able to weigh that against some of the objectively damning evidence that may be out there.
I think in this case, Bill Kurtis's analysis is correct. I think Roger would have to admit it was one of the most difficult things to deal with in this case, that there are videotapes showing different women in various states of consciousness that came into evidence. And you know, also in Roger's defense, it's tremendously difficult to defend a client that jumps bail. But the videotape evidence really puts you in a corner, and I don't know what can be done in a case with that type of evidence.
KING: Let me get a break, and we'll be back with more. We'll include some of your phone calls, as well. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KURTIS (voice-over): Before he fled, when he was free on $1 million bail, Andrew Luster gave an exclusive interview to Troy Roberts (ph) of "48 Hours Investigates."
TROY ROBERTS: Have you ever had sex with a woman against her will?
ROBERTS: Have you sexually assaulted a woman while she was unconscious.
ROBERTS: You've never sexually assaulted a woman while she was unconscious and videotaped it?
LUSTER: No, I haven't.
ROBERTS: So what do you say to the evidence that the prosecutor has, the videotapes?
LUSTER: I say it's all consensual. These are girls I had long- standing relationships with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUSTER: It's up with of those fun kind of things you do, you know? Break out the videocamera, put it on a tripod and let's see, you know, what it looks like. Let's videotape ourselves and watch it. And you know, it's fun. A lot of couples do it. It's no big deal.
Come to me. Come to me, please.
KURTIS: But the movies made by Andrew Luster were far different from the fabled films his great-grandfather worked on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Dr. Welner, GHB is used by people for fun, isn't it? I mean, a lot of people use it as a fun kind of drug, correct?
WELNER: GHB is used as an aphrodisiac. GHB is abused by body builders in order to get them into REM sleep faster, to enhance anabolic growth. But you know what? These victims are unconscious. There's no sexual enhancement going on here. These women are immobilized. And at a higher dose, which is administered by someone who knows the drug -- and he does -- then he knows what's going to happen to the women. And so this is what distinguishes drug- facilitated sex assault from rape, is that it's not an impulsive crime. It's an opportunistic crime by someone who sets it up.
KING: But some people use the drug for pleasure, correct?
WELNER: Absolutely. And it's a naturally-occurring substance in the body. And that makes it harder to trace.
KING: Nancy, what does law enforcement think of bounty hunters?
GRACE: Well, bounty hunters do not work within the confines of police. They don't work for the state. They are in it for a cut of the bail. In other words, because Luster left, skipped trial, he lost his bail. The bail company is up the creek without a paddle. So if Dog, the bail hunter, can bring him home, he gets a cut of that.
KING: Roger tells me he put up his own money, right?
DIAMOND: Right. In this particular case, what makes it unusual is that there was no corporate surety bond.
DIAMOND: The Luster family put up all cash. So there was no reason for the bounty hunter to seek out Luster because there's no money that he can get. Ordinarily, a corporate surety company hires a bounty hunter to try to recover the fugitive to save the bond from being forfeited. In this particular case, there was no bond.
KING: Does law enforcement like bounty hunters, Nancy? Do they like the fact that they're out there?
GRACE: Well, frankly, I have spent a lot of time with bounty hunters and bail bondsmen, and I, for one, as a former prosecutor, like bounty hunters because they bring in the felon. And one last thing on GHB -- gamma hydroxy buterate (ph). You asked if it was a fun drug. It's not like ecstasy, known as the "love drug," which is an aphrodisiac. GHB knocks you unconscious. So if somebody thinks it's fun, I'd like to know who! Certainly, not the nearly unconscious woman in these cases.
KING: But some have used it for fun, haven't they?
WELNER: Yes, Larry, I need to clarify that...
GRACE: I guess predators.
WELNER: ... the drug -- the drug is readily available as the club drug. And you can tell a lot about the perpetrator by the drug they use. People who get these kinds of drug-facilitated sex assault drugs, like Ativan (ph), are people who don't go to clubs. They go to their doctor and say they're having sleep problems, and then abuse the victim.
WELNER: So it's a drug that's given out at clubs. But at a higher dose, it knocks out a victim. At a lower dose...
KING: And he does...
WELNER: At a lower dose, it may actually have an aphrodisiac effect and people may take it consensually.
KING: He was sentenced to how long?
DIAMOND: A hundred and twenty-four years in prison. On the GHB issue - - one of the alleged victims admitted that on other occasions, she voluntarily took GHB with Luster for sexual purposes. So it's not as though it was slipped to her and she didn't know what was going on. She admitted that she took it on other occasions. She denied, however, knowing that she was being given it on this occasion.
KING: You'd agree, Roger, though, that jumping bail, adding all the rest of it -- the tapes -- you got an awful hurdle here.
DIAMOND: Well, it wasn't an easy case to try, especially without him being next to me. I couldn't put him on the witness stand. I had no real defense without him. But I did the best I could to preserve errors for any possible appeal...
DIAMOND: ... which is what we're working on now.
KING: Yes, Nancy?
GRACE: Larry, I have a question. Why do we keep referring to these three young ladies as "alleged" victims? The jury has spoken. They are victims. This man stands convicted. There's no allegation left. It's been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
KING: Bill Kurtis, is your report balanced? Because the title of it isn't.
KURTIS: It is not, but the report is definitely balanced. And these definitely are victims. He has been convicted and sentenced to 124 years, and he will spend it at Wasco (ph) State Prison in California for the rest of his life, probably, unless Mr. Diamond is successful in his appeal.
I think one lesson to be learned here is that if a woman feels that she has been the victim of date rape and the drug GHB, urinate in a cup because it will pass through the body and you won't be able to preserve the chemical. And if you don't and if there are no videotapes, you might wind up like the case of John Gordon Jones (ph), known as the "Limousine Killer" in California. And there, 30 women came forward with counts of rape and poisoning. And in fact, he was acquitted because the evidence was not there and consensual sex was a valid defense.
KING: Bill Kurtis's special, "A Twisted Mind," airs tonight at 10:00 Eastern. We'll be back and include some of your phone calls. And then we'll talk about the extraordinary case of the windshield, and then wind up the program with more on the Peterson matter, where there'll be more motions tomorrow. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LUSTER: I'm a wealthy guy. I can't screw up. I'm not going to lose my money.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're a wealthy guy?
KURTIS (voice-over): An hour into the questioning, the detective broke the news that Luster had screwed up big-time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was on the phone. I heard every single thing you said.
LUSTER: You're telling me you were on the phone while we were talking?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I gave you the benefit of the doubt!
LUSTER: Easy. Don't get upset.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want you to tell me the truth. How many times did you give her GHB that night?
LUSTER: How many times did we do it together? One time. I told you everything the truth, minus that one part, that we did GHB in a group together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY WOLD, VENTURA COUNTY PROSECUTOR: The defendant in this case literally sexually assaults, degrades and dehumanizes these victims on videotape with a song in his heart and a gleam in his eye. I mean, he is gleeful. And the overt sadism that I thought was present in a few of the tapes was just stunning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's take a call or two. Tampa, Florida. Hello.
CALLER: Yes, Larry. My question for your panel is, with the current debate regarding keeping repeat sexual offenders in jail past their time served, what does the panel feel needs to be done, whether it be stronger penalties or acceptance that these people truly cannot be fixed?
KING: Chris Pixley, you have a thought?
PIXLEY: Larry, I think the penalties have been getting stronger and stronger. Obviously, we have different penalties from state to state. But the fact of the matter is, so many of these cases are very, very difficult to prosecute. And you know, as Bill has pointed out, as Roger has pointed out, where you don't have something like these videotapes and where you do have a drug-facilitated sexual assault, there's very little evidence to be found. So you know, when we stiffen the penalties, we've also got to make sure that we stiffen the protections and that these tries go forth in a fair manner. And that's really -- as a defense attorney, I think that's my concern.
KING: Nancy, are we saying no tape, no case?
GRACE: Well, in a case where the victim has absolutely no memory of what happened, it would be very difficult to prosecute a case. However, in this case, I would simply advocate that the laws that are in place be applied equally to everyone, whether it is an uneducated minority or a multi-millionaire who can put up $1 million bond. You know, Larry, in this case, as you've seen, Larry, many other cases, where someone's looking at 87 charges, including rape, sodomy, sex assault, poisoning and possession of drugs, this judge let Luster out or released on his own recognizance with a $1 million bail. Of course the man skipped town! And I feel he was treated differently by the judge because he was rich and white, and I don't like it!
DIAMOND: He was not released on his own recognizance. He was released...
GRACE: A million-dollar bond!
DIAMOND: ... on $1 million cash bail. That's a lot of money for anybody and...
GRACE: Not for him!
DIAMOND: ... a lot of money for him, also.
GRACE: Not for him -- $30 million at his beck and call. DIAMOND: That's not true. He was in jail from July 18 until December 19 because he couldn't make $10 million bail. I got the bail reduced from $10 million to $1 million and house arrest. But until I got that from the state court of appeals, he was not out, he was in jail, unable to make bail.
KING: Waupun, Wisconsin -- I'm sorry. Go ahead. Who was that?
WELNER: Yes. I just -- what I wanted to say -- it's Dr. Welner. What I wanted to say is that the reason that we have to be careful about getting overzealous about penalties is that most cases that go forward on drug-facilitated sex assault don't have a videotape. So you've got a complainant's word against a defendant's word. And you may, in certain instances, have people with an ulterior motive. And on the other hand, you have victims who were targeted because of their questionable past because a perpetrator thinks they won't be believed.
GRACE: Good point.
KING: Yes, good point on both ends. Waupun, Wisconsin. Hello.
CALLER: Hi. My question is for the defense attorneys on the panel. I'm wondering how the diaries found in Mexico -- how they anticipate that will play a part in his appeal?
DIAMOND: The diaries are irrelevant. The appeal is based upon the record that was already presented at the trial court. So anything found now does not affect his appeal at all. The appellate court strictly adheres to the record that was already produced in the trial.
KING: Bill Kurtis, I imagine you were putting this together up to the very end with the bounty hunters, right? Being caught this late.
KURTIS: Right up until today. Yes, indeed. We are led to believe that the diaries don't talk a lot about details of what he did with the women, but there's one page that deals with revenge and just detailing his feelings. So I'm with Mr. Diamond. I don't believe that...
GRACE: Hey, Larry?
KURTIS: ... they'll have a lot of relevance here.
GRACE: The viewer...
KING: We've got less than a minute. GRACE: The viewer called about the journal. And Bill Kurtis is right. It's called a "payback list" in these journals, where he writes out everybody that's going to get revenge -- the prosecutors, the victims, the bail bounty hunter. It also includes a list of topless bars and pick-up lines in Spanish. That's what Mr. Luster was doing on the lam!
KING: He's a weird kind of guy then, Roger?
DIAMOND: No. That's not -- I've never had any problem dealing with Andrew Luster. And of course, I dealt with him professionally, but I didn't see that side of him. I've fought...
KING: At all.
DIAMOND: ... for him and I'll continue to fight for him to vindicate his rights.
KING: Thanks for coming, Roger. Thanks, Bill. Thanks for being with us.
KURTIS: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Nancy, Chris and Dr. Welner will remain over, as we talk about another case, the windshield death case. Roger Jon Diamond is the attorney for Andre Luster, and Bill Kurtis's special, "A Twisted Mind: The Andrew Luster Story," airs tonight at 10:00 Eastern on A&E.
We'll be right back. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... find the defendant, Andrew Stewart Luster, guilty of the crime of rape by use of drugs on Carrie Doe. As to count two, the jury in this action finds the defendant guilty. As to count three, the jury in this action finds the defendant guilty.
KING: Now we turn our attention to the windshield death case. That case went to the jury today. Let's see some brief segments of the opening arguments for both sides. Then we'll get into the panel. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chante Mallard, with the help of her friends, nearly got away with murder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's sitting there crying hysterically, and she's telling this body in her car, "I'm sorry. It was an accident. I didn't mean to hit you. I didn't mean to hit you. I didn't mean to hurt you."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chante got a blanket, and Tyrone and Clete got the body out of the car. And they checked his wallet and they checked his I.D., because I guess they wanted to know whose body it was they'd be dumping.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And because he was dead, the state tells you that that amounts to murder. I'm telling you that's not murder. That was just the end of the first part of this nightmare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's meet our panel. In Fort Worth, Texas, is Ken Malloy, reporter for KTVT. He's covered this windshield death case. Remaining with us in New York, Nancy Grace, the host of "Trial Heat" on Court TV. In Atlanta, Chris Pixley, the defense attorney. Also in New York, Dr. Michael Welner, associate professor of psychiatry, NYU School of Medicine. And joining us in New York is Dr. Robi Ludwig, clinical psychologist, a frequent commentator on Court TV.
All right, Ken, what's the latest, the jury has it?
KEN MALLOY, KTVT-TV: Well, not quite yet, Larry. Both the defense and the prosecution wrapped up and rested today. The prosecution wrapped up their case with some graphic testimony from the chief medical officer in Tarrant County. He, Dr. Peruani (ph), he performed the autopsy on Gregory Biggs.
He testified to two things. Number one, that he bled slowly to death. And number two, that had he gotten medical attention immediately, he would have lived.
The defense countered with a forensic expert of their own, but only called one witness. Many people here in Texas anticipated that perhaps Chante Mallard might have been called to the stand. She didn't. Closing arguments will get under way tomorrow morning, and then it should go to the jury.
KING: I got it. Closing arguments tomorrow. Dr. Ludwig, as a clinical psychologist, what do you make of the actions here of the defendant?
DR. ROBI LUDWIG, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: It's so hard to know whether it's an underlining character pathology where it's just a gross disregard for human life, a lack of empathy, or whether there was some type of underlying drug problem. Even if you don't have a drug problem, somebody can react to an accident with extreme panic, get hysterical, and freeze as a result. If you add using a lot of drugs on top of that, which can exacerbate those feelings, God knows what was going on in her mind. She could have been psychotic. And the people she called certainly did not help her to do the right thing.
KING: Nancy, if the victim died from the hitting of the car is that, in your opinion -- would you have prosecuted this vigorously?
GRACE: Yes, I would have, Larry, there's no doubt in my mind. And what is interesting and what has been unsaid is that when Chante Mallard left the bar that night, she had in her system, and this is uncontroverted, alcohol, ecstasy and marijuana. She hit 37-year-old Mr. Biggs, he was walking along the side of the road, and continued to drive all the way home, let up the garage door, got inside, let it down and went inside. The man went head first through the windshield.
And another thing Dr. Hassan Peruani (ph), the medical examiner testified to today, Larry, is that this poor man's left leg was nearly entirely amputated. And he hung there, Larry, for a period of time begging this woman to save him. And she would come out intermittently and say, "I'm sorry" and go back in. Finally around 2:00 a.m., she calls friends to dispose of the body.
Now, how much more difficult would it be to dial three digits instead of seven and call 911 and save the man's life? He was in intense pain.
KING: Chris Pixley, can it be defended vigorously?
PIXLEY: Larry, this case is so difficult to defend. You want to let the defense team put on their case. They started today. And see what they have to say. But what we've heard in the opening statements leaves cause for concern.
The defense team wants the jury to believe that Chante Mallard is not a callous person. And I think the problem in trying to make that stick is the fact that, you know, even if she didn't have the good judgment or was too inebriated at the time to exercise simple rational decision-making, such as calling 911, and even if she didn't have the character the day after this had all happened to step forward and go to the police when she realized her friends had helped deposit the body in the park, there's the real problem that they face, which is that she went to a party four months later and casualty told her friends, listen, I was involved in a hit-and-run with a pedestrian, and in fact, we covered up the homicide.
Those are facts that are going to horribly undermine the defense's claim that this woman isn't cavalier or brazen, that she's a good person. I personally would rather hear that she didn't have the mental capacity to do the right thing.
But as the case is playing out and we're hearing that she's conscientious and she's intelligent, it just makes you scratch your head.
KING: Dr. Welner, why -- do we know why previous people who have never committed a crime or thought of a criminal act, why people who leave a hit-and-run accident, why they do what they do?
WELNER: You know, the fact pattern of this case is so astonishing, really, that it transcends intoxication, it even transcends anti- social qualities. You hear a story like this, you wonder whether this is a person who is an inveterate criminal, and then it turns out that she's not.
From my professional experience, the one thing that's reminiscent of this case is the idea of just denying. Here she is, she strikes a man, and she continues to drive all the way home with him in her windshield. She continues. She denies there. She goes into the garage, she denies there. And she continues to deny long after everything is out of her system for months. She even leaves the car in the garage. She even leaves the partially burned seats in the back. When do we see that precedent is in women, immature women with no criminal history who kill their newborns and who go through elaborate measures where they clearly understand what they do is wrong, but they deny their homicide and they act as if nothing's happened while the baby's in the trash can.
KING: Let me get a break and come right back. We'll also include a couple of calls as well. As we go to break, here is part of the testimony of the defendant's former boyfriend. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What happened when you got to the park?
CLETE JACKSON, HELPED MALLARD DISPOSE OF VICTIM: We pulled up and we took him out the car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And who's we? Who took him out of the car?
JACKSON: Tyrone and I.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did you untie the blanket? How did you get the blanket open?
JACKSON: Cut it off.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And who gave you the knife to cut it off with?
JACKSON: Chante gave it to Tyrone; he handed it to me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then once you cut open the blanket, what did you do?
JACKSON: Took -- took him off the blanket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. And did you leave him in the park?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRANDON BIGGS, VICTIM'S SON: Saying he was very hard working. He was very friendly. Although he didn't have many friends, he was very friendly. And he was very, very loving, I would say.
MEREDITH BIGGS, VICTIM'S MOTHER: How much more can you do to one human being?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was the son and mother of the victim in this case.
Ken, are you surprised at all the attention this is getting?
PIXLEY: Well, yes and no. I mean, as your panel already pointed out. There are so many intricate details in this case that cut a wide swathe against our social fabric here in this country. You've got a homeless man, you've got the race issue, you've got rich/poor, you've got drugs. So in that sense, no, it's making the headlines on the front page, in fact of the local papers. And witness the fact that we're on your show. I mean, it has a certain appeal to it in some perverse sense, I suppose.
KING: Woonsocket, Rhode Island, hello.
CALLER: Hi. My question is for the whole panel. First I'd like to say, Nancy, I think you're a wonderful human being for speaking on behalf of victims like you do. And my question is, I keep hearing that this case screams for jury nullification. I wanted to know exactly what does that mean and what would that mean for the defendant in this case.
KING: Chris, what is jury nullification.
PIXLEY: Jury nullification is when jurors come forward and despite the charges that they're given and despite the evidence that's before them, clear evidence, Larry, they nonetheless make the decision to go in the other direction. That means, for example, if the conviction is clear, all the elements have been satisfied...
KING: But they still come back.
PIXLEY: Clearly put forward and they come back with an acquittal.
KING: You think that could happen here?
PIXLEY: I don't see that happening here, Larry. It is interesting that the caller is hearing and it is being reported in this case so widely that somebody is actually saying it screams for jury nullification. I think there's one aspect of the case that's a little curious, and that's the fact that my understanding is the prosecution is seeking a murder conviction here, in fact, first degree. That's a specific intent crime. I don't think that there was any specific intent on Chante's part to run over this man or kill him.
PIXLEY: So I think there's a good chance that will be knocked down. But beyond that, I don't see any jury nullification.
GRACE: Larry, that's not the theory the state is going forward on, although that is a correct definition of premeditated murder. Another one charge is called felony murder which means the death occurs as a result of a felony. And the state is relying on that legal theory here. The two felonies being hit and run and failure to render aid and a death occurred. One thing, Larry, we haven't said that I really want you to know because it made me think of you.
This young boy, you saw on the stand like you, has lost his father at a very young age. He was a high school senior when he found out his father had been killed. Larry, he would go visit his father, Mr. Biggs, in the homeless shelter and try to take his father to lunch and try to help him. He loved his father. And in court today, this young boy saw the photos of his father with his leg torn off. Now, just imagine what this boy has been through.
PIXLEY: Nancy's right, Larry. The testimony from Gregory Biggs' son was really very compelling. Even explained how his father came to be homeless. And it was really when he was coming to the aid of a woman that he had been in a relationship with, he helped her out of her financial difficulty and found his way into his own. So again, jury nullification is probably not something I see happening here.
KING: Atascadero, California. Hello.
KING: Atascadero. I am sorry, go ahead.
CALLER: Thank you for taking my call. Nancy, I'd like to see you and Chris get together if you're not attached.
GRACE: I'm sorry. I don't date defense attorneys. But thank you for the suggestion. We fight too much.
PIXLEY: She loves me.
KING: James Carville and Mary Matalin live on.
CALLER: You both have a sweet nature. I was watching the trial on Court TV. I wonder what's happened to the other man who helped dispose of the body. Will he receive a penalty such as the one...
KING: I think they already have, haven't they Nancy.
GRACE: Yes. They both plead, Larry, in exchange for their testimony, as we often say in the business, sometimes you got to go to hell to get to witnesses to put the devil in jail. One got nine and one got ten years.
KING: One more quick comment from Dr. Ludwig, is this psychologically interesting to you?
LUDWIG: It is very fascinating and fascinated why we're all fascinated by it. What's very hard to get over is even if someone is in shock, to then brag about it subsequently is a very tough thing to embrace.
Was she trying to get caught?
Was there a sociological component to it, the fact that he was a white man made him next to nothing in her eyes. Again, there is a lot we don't know. But it is such a gross pictorial image. It's just unexcusable.
KING: Thank you, Dr. Ken Malloy, and Dr. Robi Ludwig.
We'll ask Nancy, Chris and Dr. Welner to remain as we wind up things discussing the Peterson matter and we'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. NIZAM PEERWANI, MEDICAL EXAMINER: Left leg was held in place by strands of tissue or muscle tissue along the back portion or posterior portion and the skin. And the muscles were all mangled, lacerated and there was a sheering and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of the tissue as well as blood vessels of his left leg.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I take it this is a serious injury?
PEERWANI: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this injury was directly related to the cause of death?
PEERWANI: Yes, sir.
KING: Now, we turn our attention in the remaining moments to the Lacy Peterson murder case. She went missing six months ago yesterday. Tomorrow, these things could happen, search warrants or phone wire taps could be released by the court. The gag order could be reconsidered. Gloria Allred could be held in contempt for violating the gag order. The Dr. James Brazelton of the D.A., rather, could be held in contempt for violating that order as well.
Remaining with us Nancy Grace in New York.
Author Chris Pixley in Atlanta.
Dr. Michael Welner in New York.
We have not heard Dr. Welner in this case yet.
What are your views of the Scott Peterson matter Doctor.
WELNER: well, I can't get away from recognizing that the idea of the satanic cult theories are so dubious and obscure that this is a case that's going to come down to physical evidence. And that physical evidence demonstrates that Scott Peterson would be the suggested perpetrator, there's really no one else that's considering -- that's worth considering and it may be enough to push it over the hump. And that's why there is such a strong consensus that he might be responsible.
KING: How do you explain to yourself if the following is true -- he never had violent acts in his life, never committed a crime, everybody liked him including his in-laws.
Explain that aspect of the violent nature of this crime, if he did it, what would spring that?
WELNER: In my professional experience domestic homicides arise occasionally of husbands killing wives when they have double lives, when there's some other life that's a mystery to everyone including their family.
Is it Amber Frey?
Again, based on my experience, when you're talking about another life, you're talking about much more than just an affair. You're talking about a lifestyle. The idea of GHB was brought up. Again, that's a lifestyle drug. And that may say something about where he's been spending his time. So, you follow the trails of the pieces of evidence found in his home to learn about where he encountered those pieces of evidence and someone associated with it.
KING: And someone could resort to that kind of violence never having done anything remotely like it before?
WELNER: Birth is an emotional impasse to a person who is not ready for that phase of life shift.
KING: So the oncoming of the child could change everything in his mind?
WELNER: You can't ignore timing. That's not enough to convict him. But physical evidence may be.
KING: Nancy, what do you think is going to happen tomorrow? Anything of those four possibilities?
GRACE: Well, yes, I predict that Gloria Allred may be verbally reprimanded, as well as Brazelton, regarding gag orders, the alleged violations; I do not see either one of them going to the local jail. At the worst, they may have to write out a check. They will contest it. It will probably get mired down.
We see one judge champing at the bit to release these search warrants. Under the law, they are to be released within 10 days following the execution. I think there's a good chance the search warrants may be released now that we know, Larry, the preliminary hearing set for next month is going to be continued or put off. I think it's going to be hard to sit on these search warrants and all of this evidence for that long under the law.
KING: And Chris, what do you think's going to happen tomorrow?
PIXLEY: It's interesting. You know, we talk about the preliminary hearing being put off, Larry. I think by all accounts, it is going to be put off. That is very eye-opening to me, given the fact that all the way back in April, James Brazelton was saying that this was the kind of case where you absolutely have to go for the death penalty and they would be doing that.
I agree with Nancy. I think when it comes to the gag order and the violations, or potential violations of the gag order, there is likely to be a warning that's issued, a slap on the wrist of sorts. The judge could get creative and do other things. Certainly could issue a suspended sentence to Mr. Brazelton. I think if anyone is in violation of the gag order, he is. I read the "Modesto Bee" interview closely. I know there are apologists for it, like Nancy, out there, and other people who've said he's referring to media reports. But...
GRACE: Actually, Chris, I said it was a violation. I think he commented on the evidence.
PIXLEY: Yes. And I think he has as well, Nancy. And I apologize.
KING: Let me get a call. Phoenix, Arizona. Hello.
CALLER: Yes. I have a question for anybody on the panel, in particular, an attorney.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: There's a continual talk about change of venue, and what I don't understand, she's not on a panel, but hiring a consultant such as Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, you're swaying the jury in favor of prosecution or defense. So what difference does it make you that change the venue, as long as you have a, quote, "expert" before her makeup or after, a little cut on her.
KING: I don't understand where you're going with that, sir, a jury consultant just consults for one side or the other, helping to pick the jury. Why do they change the venue, Chris?
PIXLEY: Well, you change venue -- one of the bellwethers of violation of someone's Sixth Amendment fair trial rights is if, in fact, there has been undue publicity.
There aren't a lot of good examples of the kind of prejudice that can interfere with somebody's right to a fair trial, publicity is one of them. In a case like this, where there has been national attention, it is an uphill battle for the defense team on one hand to argue for a change of venue, because the case is out there in the news media everywhere. But when you can show that there are heightened emotions, that, you know, emotions are running high in a place like Modesto, and I think the defense team can with polls that show over 80 percent of Modestans believe that Scott Peterson is guilty, then you can get a change of venue, and it's appropriate.
KING: Are there times, Nancy, the prosecution would support such a motion?
GRACE: Well, when I tried cases, Larry, I looked ahead to a possible appeal. And you don't want to fight hard for weeks on end, win a case, then have it reversed on something like this. So I would go along with a change of venue just to close off -- if my case was as strong as it has been suggested and I'm willing to go for the death penalty, I believe in it that much, you're darn right, give them a change of venue. Pick your battles.
KING: Dr. Welner, it is going to have to be -- all the rest is extraneous next to physical evidence, right?
WELNER: Absolutely. I just add one thing to what Nancy says. Just in my experience of working in high pressure cases, sometimes the death penalty is sought by prosecutors who realize that the eyes of the nation are on a case. They will roll the dice because they get into a competitive mode that sometimes may go beyond the available evidence.
KING: Is death penalty going to be difficult here, Chris?
PIXLEY: I think death penalty is going to be very difficult, given the evidence that we've seen so far. Again, the suggestion has been made, Larry, that prosecution is going to be bringing a great deal more evidence to the preliminary hearing than we've seen so far. But they have been leaking everything they have had from day one. And if they don't have blood or DNA, if they don't have something that ties Scott Peterson to this murder, if they don't have anchors, other body parts, other physical evidence, they're not going to get a death penalty conviction. In fact, Larry, they are not going to get a conviction at all.
KING: Manteca, California, last call, hello.
CALLER: Yes. Yes. I'm just wondering why everybody diminishes the possibility that Amber Frey may have had a bigger role in this than we all want to believe? And the fact that they cleaned up her image, and Gloria Allred is there representing her. It's just a big grandstanding event for her, and representing Amber...
KING: You think she overdid it, Nancy? We don't have much time. Gloria Allred, the makeover, you think that was overdone?
GRACE: No. Highlighting her hair is no problem to me. I think the police thoroughly investigated her. She cooperated with police. Wouldn't be surprised if she had a polygraph. I don't think she's involved. And as to seeking the death penalty, I disagree with Dr. Welner. This is not some type of competition. This is seeking justice on behalf of Laci and Connor.
KING: We thank you all very much. There will be more motions tomorrow. We'll cover more tomorrow evening. We thank all of our panelists earlier for a fascinating evening, a look at crime in many places. And we thank Nancy Grace of Court TV, Chris Pixley, the defense attorney, and it's always good to have Dr. Michael Welner, associate professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine aboard as well.
I'll come back and tell you about tomorrow night and also about my sports column right after this.
KING: Hey, sports fans, it's Wednesday. So don't forget to read my column, "Sports a la King." It's posted every week on CNN Sports Illustrated on the Web. The address to get right to it is http://www.si.com/larryking. And "Sports a la King" is interactive. Give it a read, send me your e-mails and we'll write you back in the weekly mail bag. Once again, the address, http://www.si.com/larryking. Log on tonight, and we'll talk sports, which Aaron Brown and I often do before he takes over the mantle here each night.
Tomorrow night, the Laci Peterson matter. We'll have lots of concepts coming up in court tomorrow. And we'll discuss all of them. And could be some results that change things around. The man who always changes things around by watching the globe move and bringing us up to date as to where it's moving and where it stops. He's got correspondents everywhere. People at his beck and call. They all serve him well, as he serves. My man on the scene, the host of "NEWSNIGHT" -- another good tie -- Aaron Brown.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT http://www.fdch.com
Next: CAUGHT ON TAPE - June 30th