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Burden of Proof

Why Are John and Patsy Ramsey Still Under Suspicion?

Aired August 30, 2000 - 12:30 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIN WOOD, ATTORNEY FOR RAMSEYS: Mr. Kane, we're both trying to do our jobs under very unusual and difficult circumstances.

MICHAEL KANE, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Right. So my job is not to stand in the way of the truth.

WOOD: Well, if you -- if you are -- if you are implying that my job is to obstruct the truth, I take that as a professional insult, and you will not be staying in this office. Don't come in here and insult me, sir.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CO-HOST: Today, on BURDEN PROOF, the John and Patsy Ramsey interviews with Boulder investigators. And their lawyer, Lin Wood, joins us today on BURDEN OF PROOF.

ANNOUNCER: This is BURDEN OR PROOF with Greta Van Susteren and Roger Cossack.

VAN SUSTEREN: Hello, and welcome to BURDEN OF PROOF.

This week in Atlanta, John and Patsy Ramsey submitted to interviews with law-enforcement authorities from Boulder, Colorado. The Ramseys answered questions from police and the prosecuting attorney.

The Ramseys' attorney, Lin Wood, joins us today from Atlanta to discuss the case.

ROGER COSSACK, CO-HOST: Today, we take a look at part of the interviews of Patsy Ramsey answering questions about the death of their daughter, JonBenet, including questions about the security arrangements of their son, Burke, after the murder of his sister.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KANE: Why would you allow her to go without any security -- and against Tracy Temple's (ph) advice, as a matter of fact -- to be transported to and from school when he was most vulnerable?

PATSY RAMSEY, MOTHER OF JONBENET RAMSEY: Well, he -- he left the garage in a locked car and drove straight to school, and then he was escorted into the school.

KANE: Did you have any concerns about somebody -- a stop sign...

WOOD: Mr. Kane -- Michael...

KANE: What is your objection now?

WOOD: I just wonder what does this have to do with the investigation into the -- finding who killed JonBenet Ramsey?

KANE: The very fact that I'm asking it means it has something to do with it.

WOOD: What?

KANE: What -- why -- I don't have to -- I don't have to just -- if you're now going to make me justify every question that I ask -- now we're so -- you know, in the very beginning, Lin, you sent a letter...

WOOD: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KANE: I know. I'm not. I'm just emphasizing. You sent a letter.

WOOD: My point's (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KANE: And I'm not -- you know, this is nothing personal. You do your job. I'm doing mine. At the very beginning, you sent a letter to us, and you laid down this fair and objective -- as long as these questions are fair and objective, you'll answer. And I wrote back to you -- and I wrote a letter back, and within five minutes of you getting that letter off your fax machine, you were on the phone with me. And then the next day, you...

WOOD: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You know, I wrote a letter to Chief Beckner, which I'd be glad to make part of this record, and then I got a letter from you, and I called you.

KANE: That's right, and we spoke about that, and the next day...

WOOD: And (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KANE: And the next day, you wrote another letter saying that there would be no conditions on this interview.

WOOD: Now wait a minute.

KANE: Oh, yes, you did.

WOOD: I didn't impose any conditions.

KANE: You are right now. Now you're asking me...

WOOD: I said...

KANE: ... what's the purpose of me asking the question. That's an -- that's a condition.

WOOD: No, it's not.

KANE: Oh, well, what do you call it?

WOOD: Just what it was. I asked you a question.

KANE: But I'm saying I don't...

WOOD: I haven't imposed any...

KANE: ... have to explain my purpose. I'm asking a question. If you don't want to answer the question, don't answer it, but I don't have to justify the question.

WOOD: Mr. Kane, you misrepresent my letter to you. You misrepresent our conversation. You misrepresent our -- your statements that I have imposed conditions. Let me finish. All the -- the only...

KANE: You know, Mr. Wood, this is a sham.

WOOD: No, it's not.

KANE: This is a big publicity stunt...

WOOD: No, it's not.

KANE: ... on your part. You want to go out there and say, "My client"...

WOOD: No, it's not.

KANE: ... "answered every question." Well, don't say that because you're not letting your client answer this question.

WOOD: Why don't you -- Mr. Kane, why don't you sit down and let's -- let's -- let's try...

KANE: You're obstructing.

WOOD: Let's try to be...

KANE: You're obstructing, Lin. You're asking me now to justify...

WOOD: Mr. Kane, sit down.

KANE: ... why I am asking a question.

WOOD: Sit down.

KANE: No. You just -- yes or no. Can she answer that question?

WOOD: Mr. Kane, life does not always turn on what Michael Kane thinks is fair. KANE: Just...

WOOD: Give me a second. I don't think I'm being unreasonable.

KANE: Well, I think you are.

WOOD: Well...

KANE: I think you are. You're asking me to justify...

WOOD: Give me a chance to talk without jumping up and making your pre-planned speeches.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us today from Atlanta is Lin Wood who's the attorney for John and Patsy Ramsey.

And here in Washington, Todd Reinstein (ph), former federal prosecutor Pam Stuart, and Gwen Sutton (ph). And in the back row, Terra Rosenblum (ph) and Annie Lee (ph).

Lin, first to you. We were watching you debate or having a disagreement with Michael Kane, the prosecutor, during the questioning of Patsy Ramsey earlier this week. Tell me what were the sort of conditions or ground rules. What had the two of you agreed upon before this sit-down?

WOOD: Well, Greta, Chief Beckner asked John and Patsy Ramsey to submit to interviews, interrogations to answer new questions about information or developments that had occurred since June of 1998 when John and Patsy were interrogated separately for three days each out in Colorado. That's what the chief asked for.

John and Patsy Ramsey in an effort to help the investigation agreed to do so. We imposed no conditions. We agreed to unlimited time. We were prepared to stay as many days as necessary. We agreed to their condition that Patsy go first, which was a deal breaker, as they framed it, and we agreed that they could have seven interrogators in the room, four members of the police department and three special prosecutors.

So for me to ask a simple question after listening for quite a period of time on questions about Burke's security implying that John and Patsy did not want to protect their son, I finally got to the point where I simply said, "Mr. Kane, what does that have to do with looking into who killed JonBenet Ramsey?"

That led to what you've just seen, which I would describe as the acts of an overzealous special prosecutor, perhaps frustrated by the agreement that Chief Beckner made, but, as I said, that was the agreement simply because that was the request.

COSSACK: Lin, it's been at least reported that there were some ground rules and that one of the grounds rules was that you would not allow your clients to speak about any particular -- any fiber evidence that had...

WOOD: Not true.

COSSACK: ... that the police may have had or that, you know, forensic may have found.

WOOD: Not -- not true at all, Roger. There were no discussions about any conditions going in.

Now here's what happened. I anticipated -- because I was told that part of the questioning would involve forensic testing, I anticipated that there would be questions about fiber evidence along with other forensic test results. When that question was asked, I asked for clarification about what the test result was.

As you may know, Roger and Greta, it's not uncommon for a police interrogator to mischaracterize the results of a forensic test to then try to get a witness to speculate about an explanation. Here, for example, how did a fiber possibly get from a sweater to a certain area in the house.

Now all I asked for was a simple explanation of what the test result was. I got four different answers from four different people in the room, and so I said, "Look, I can't let my client answer that kind of a question. It's too -- too speculative, too fraught with peril."

VAN SUSTEREN: All...

WOOD: "Just show us the result, and we'll answer the question."

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Let's go -- let's...

WOOD: "Show us -- show us the result."

VAN SUSTEREN: Let's show a little bit more of the interview taken inside and listen to the interview and the exchange between Lin Wood and the prosecutor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOOD: You all made the request and you all set the conditions, and I agreed to them at the direction of John and Patsy, and I got the letters that demonstrate and document that.

The only thing I asked for was the courtesy of whether you would consider this being done in Atlanta, and you quickly said yes, and I asked for a stenographic reporter because of the concern over an accurate transcription because there'd never been one in the prior interviews in April of '97 and in June of 1998, and that's it.

I didn't impose any conditions, and I don't want to be misrepresented in that connection.

All I've done today because I thought we were here to be productive in looking for the killer of this child -- the parents want to come in here and help you, but when you start asking questions about "Why did you let Burke go to school with Susan Stein (ph)?" I mean, with all due respect, I mean, I haven't obstructed and said she can't answer it, but I don't think it's unfair and unreasonable for me to say, "What in the world does that have to do with the question of moving this investigation forward on who killed this child?"

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: Pam, I've been involved in a lot of verbal slug fests myself as a lawyer, and here we've seen a little bit of a verbal slug fest. But let me ask you -- you're a former prosecutor. Why in the world do you think that Michael Kane would ask the question about Burke, the other child, and whether he had security or not? Is that really relevant to this investigation?

COSSACK: I know the answer.

VAN SUSTEREN: Go ahead.

PAM STUART, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I'm glad you do, Roger.

I think he would ask it simply because he knows -- he has some information that may tie that to another aspect of the investigation.

VAN SUSTEREN: But like what? I mean, like -- well, go ahead, Roger.

COSSACK: All right. Let me tell you what...

VAN SUSTEREN: You said you know the answer. OK.

COSSACK: Let me tell you what I think the answer at least.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK. You said you knew it a second ago. Now you think...

COSSACK: Well, all right. So I'm chickening out a little bit, but let me tell what I -- what I think the answer is. I would bet -- and, Lin, tell me if you don't think probably this is what they were getting at -- I would think that one of the things they were con -- they were trying to get to was the notion of why the Ramseys felt so confident to let their young boy go to school and not have fear that there was somebody who might not be stalking the boy also.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I'll tell you the fallacy of that. No. 1 is they had extra guards put on in plain clothes in the school. There's a huge fallacy to the argument. And if that's as far as the prosecution has to go, the prosecution's in deep trouble.

Lin, do you want to answer it, though?

WOOD: Yes.

COSSACK: Excuse me. Are you the prosecutor that's...

WOOD: Just a couple...

COSSACK: Go ahead, Lin.

WOOD: ... a couple of quick points. No. 1, I do want to make it clear that I allowed Patsy Ramsey to answer every question posed on that subject matter in this last interrogation. I only questioned why we were doing it. It seemed to me like a waste of time, and it also was outside of what the chief had asked for because we were talking about when Burke went back to school back in 1997.

But the point is, yes, you could argue and I think it's legitimate area of inquiry to say, "Well, if you had -- thought a killer was loose, why would you send your child to school?" The fact is there was extraordinary protections taken when Burke went back to school. It was a very difficult balancing act for this family to try to get Burke protected, not only from someone that might harm him, but from the media, the tabloids that were after this child, too.

But to balance that concern with the concern of trying to have this then 10-year-old child live in a school environment as normal as possible -- John and Patsy were trying to make this work. It was difficult. And for this prosecutor to come in here now and to somehow impugn the question of whether they were genuinely concerned about their son is a disgusting tactic of an overzealous prosecutor, and...

COSSACK: Lin, do you...

WOOD: It was a waste of our time...

COSSACK: Lin, you know...

WOOD: ... in this interrogation.

COSSACK: Lin, you know, I might agree with you on this one, and I might say that this is really a fishing expedition, but, in the sense of what happens in this interviews -- and you've been through plenty and you know, Greta, you've been through plenty -- don't these kinds of questions just get asked?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well -- but you know -- you know what the problem is, Roger, is that he was wrong, I mean, in terms of the facts. They did have extra security at the school.

COSSACK: But -- but that's the point. So why not answer the question and just say, "Look, you're wrong."

VAN SUSTEREN: Because you sit there hour after hour listening to these lawyers ask...

COSSACK: All right. We've got to...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... questions you think that are far afield.

COSSACK: ... take a break. Oh, Greta, you never bothered with -- you -- hour after hour listening to lawyers' questions. Let's take a break. Up next, more on the JonBenet Ramsey investigation and the videotape of John and Patsy's interviews with Boulder authorities. Stay with us.

(LEGAL BRIEF: Lawyers for President Clinton filed a response to the complaint for disbarment yesterday that losing his law license is too harsh a penalty. The complaint had been filed by the Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct.)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOOD: I mean, if you're telling me that you have other areas for Patsy Ramsey and it's not what you just represented to me in the hallway and -- I don't know if you were there or not, Ollie (ph), but I -- Chief, I -- you told me that was all you wanted to ask her about anyway, was the security and then the fibers, and you were done, and -- and, you know, then I said, "If that's the case, let's make that record, and then we'll move on to John," but now Mr. Kane's saying there are other areas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSSACK: This week in Atlanta, the parents of JonBenet Ramsey were interviewed by Boulder, Colorado, police and the prosecuting attorney in the case. John and Patsy Ramsey's attorney joins us today from Atlanta. And we want to stress that we have 22-1/2 minutes of that tape. That is not the full tape, but we have 22-1/2 minutes of it. And we have Lin Wood who is the lawyer for the Ramseys, of course, joining us.

Lin, let's get right to it. What did you advise the Ramseys in regards to whether or not they should conduct this interview or not?

WOOD: I gave them my legal recommendation that this was very perilous and risky for them. They know they're under suspicion. To go in at this point in the investigation, there was a strong probability that they were looking for specific things, the unknown as to John and Patsy.

But, look, I made they recommendation. At the time I made it, I knew that they were not going to follow it because John and Patsy have wanted from day one to sit down and work with and cooperate with the police department. They didn't do it early in the investigation without some discussions between counsel, and they took a big hit on it.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know...

WOOD: People didn't realize they wanted to cooperate and were cooperating, and this time around, they said, "Look, we're going to walk in. We're going to answer the questions. We're innocent. We know there's risk, but we're going to trust Chief Beckner and see if we can help them move beyond us and get this investigation going in the right direction."

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I think that being -- being on videotape, guilty or innocent or whatever, in any given case is a high risk for anyone, and -- and so I would have -- I would have given the same advice as -- not to do it.

Pam, as a prosecutor, what do you do -- what do you want with a tape like this? I mean, they're not going to -- no one ever sort of confesses or at least -- well, sometimes they do, but, I mean, in -- what does a prosecutor want with a tape like this? They didn't expect a confession.

STUART: No, they don't expect a confession, but what they may use it for, if any useful information comes out, is to put it together with other information that they have and possibly create an indictable case. From everything I heard about it, I don't think they advanced the ball on that.

VAN SUSTEREN: But, you know -- but here -- you know, we oftentimes heard during the Clinton administration -- Clinton investigation the term "perjury trap." Now this was not under oath, but what prosecutors can do is they take all the statements -- and the Ramseys have spoken to the prosecutors on three different occasions for a number of hours -- and they attempt to take glaring inconsistencies and make a person out to be a liar rather than having perhaps a faulty memory.

STUART: That's correct, and that's exactly why you and Roger and Lin and I...

COSSACK: And Lin has...

STUART: ... would all...

VAN SUSTEREN: Say "Don't do it! Don't do it!"

STUART: ... recommend that they not do it.

COSSACK: Yes.

All right. In these kinds of situations, as we're seeing, they can get a little contentious between the lawyers. Let's take another -- take a -- another look at the -- some tape from yesterday's interview.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KANE: If you ever expect for us to be able to put the case against an intruder together, the intruder is going to ask that question. The intruder is going to say, "Why is it that the parents of a -- of -- a month after their child is murdered, allow their son to be transported -- at a time when he's most vulnerable, at a time when their own security people said this is crazy, to be transported with no protection?" and that's a legitimate question. Now are you going to let her answer it or not?

WOOD: Let me say this to you. That -- again, Mr. Kane, and I -- I don't -- Mr. Kane -- Michael -- you know, you have a perspective. I just think that what you're trying to represent about the lack of security...

KANE: Mr. Wood, let me -- you're an obstructionist.

WOOD: I'm not an obstructionist.

KANE: You go out there, and you tell the press people that they cooperated, and I will go out and...

WOOD: I'm not going to go out...

KANE: ... tell them what really happened in here.

WOOD: Well, Mr. Kane, what's happening here is you're going -- looking to storm out for no reason.

KANE: No, I'm not. I'm looking to storm out because I can't ask a...

WOOD: Take five minutes. Take five minutes and just be reasonable enough to listen to...

KANE: This is -- look, I don't need this. It's a game. You're playing a game.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's take five minutes.

WOOD: Yes. Let's take five minutes.

KANE: You're playing a game.

WOOD: I mean, I don't want...

KANE: No. Are we going to take every -- five minutes every time I ask a question because you're going to want to -- you want to know what it is that's in my mind. I just told you what's in my mind.

WOOD: Mr. Kane, we're both trying to do our jobs under very unusual and difficult circumstances.

KANE: Right. So my job is not to stand in the way of the truth.

WOOD: Well, if you -- if you are -- if you are implying that my job is to obstruct the truth, I take that as a professional insult, and you will not be staying in this office. Don't come in here and insult me, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a time out.

WOOD: I pay the rent here. I will not be insulted by you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSSACK: Greta, this is what happens when lawyers like Lin Wood -- good lawyers are stuck in a position, I suppose, where they've given one bit of advice to their client, and now they're trying to protect their client from something they told him not to do.

VAN SUSTEREN: Oh -- and the thing is that lawyers are smart. Lin's smart. Michael Kane's smart. Everybody knows the videotape is running.

COSSACK: You bet.

VAN SUSTEREN: Everyone's on a little bit, and people take different positions in terms of -- but, you know, the interesting thing about this is how many exchanges we've seen of the lawyers interacting. What we aren't seeing, of course, is any of the responses.

But we're going to take a break. Up next, the JonBenet Ramsey case. Has a search for the identity of her killer been aided by this week's interviews? Stay with us.

(Q&A: On this day in 1989, Cynthia Coffman became the first woman to receive the death sentence in the State of California since capital punishment had been reinstated in 1977. What was she convicted of? ANSWER: Coming up.)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(Q&A: On this day in 1989, Cynthia Coffman became the first woman to receive the death sentence in the State of California since capital punishment had been reinstated in 1977. What was she convicted of? ANSWER: The murder of four women in San Bernardino, California, in 1986.)

VAN SUSTEREN: Welcome back.

On Monday, Patsy Ramsey submitted to an all-day investigation or interrogation by the Boulder County district attorney's office and the police, and her husband, John Ramsey, answered questions on Tuesday.

Lin, you have released -- or we have gotten 22 minutes of this interview. It is edited, and there's a lot more time involved, including answers by John and Patsy Ramsey. Is that going to be released? Will we see that?

WOOD: Well, I -- I'm not sure. A lot will depend on Michael Kane's publicity tour that he's on now. He went this morning and appeared on a couple of morning shows, and when I learned that, I released just these portions that showed the interaction with Michael Kane and myself because I thought he would go out and try to misrepresent it.

This is not a case where John and Patsy Ramsey did not answer the questions. They answered every question. They were willing to stay there and answer more, except for the one limited area where we asked for the fairness of seeing the test results instead of relying on what we were told that the results were by these...

VAN SUSTEREN: Now...

WOOD: ... prosecutors.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who rolled on this? Did -- did -- is there just one copy, or did the -- were there two cameras, one for the prosecution and one for the Ramseys?

WOOD: The -- Chief Beckner had a camera on the -- John and Patsy when they were being interrogated, and I asked for a camera of the entire room because I anticipated problems with Michael Kane. I felt like he was going to come in there and be disruptive and -- he twice threatened to leave and pack up, and so I did it for my protection to have a record -- just what you -- just like you -- what you're seeing today.

COSSACK: Lin, you mentioned that he -- they wanted to interview the Ramseys regarding new evidence that was developed since June of 1998. What is that new evidence?

WOOD: Well, you know, I -- by listening for a day and a half, I didn't hear much in terms of new evidence. I mean, again, look at -- look at this question of Burke's security. They could have asked John and Patsy about that when they were interrogated for three full days in June of 1998. We had some questions that indicated the results of forensic tests. We couldn't get a clear answer. I don't think there was much new, and I think that's indicated by the short amount of time they took with the interviews.

COSSACK: Lin...

VAN SUSTEREN: And...

COSSACK: ... is this case over?

WOOD: I think the investigation into John and Patsy Ramsey is at the point where it should be over -- four years, millions of dollars, 66 hours of interrogation, all the physical evidence collected, all the forensic tests done, their lives examined, reexamined in minute detail. It's time for the prosecution to step up, do the honorable thing, and acknowledge that the evidence is simply not there to bring a charge against John or Patsy.

VAN SUSTEREN: Pam, in the last few seconds, if you can say someone won this round, to be so crude about a terrible tragedy, the death of a child, who won?

STUART: Well, the prosecutors were obviously being conscientious and taking up the challenge of questioning these witnesses. In that sense, they won. They got a chance to ask what questions they might have had. As a sort of P.R. effort, it looks like the defense may carry the day.

VAN SUSTEREN: So it's a draw.

COSSACK: Well, it's hard to...

VAN SUSTEREN: Maybe.

COSSACK: I think that today the truth -- I think the defense won. I don't think the prosecution goes home with any more than they came down there with and, apparently, they didn't have much.

That's all the time we have for today. Thanks to our guests, and thank you very much for watching.

Today on TALKBALK LIVE, the father of Dodi Fayed files a lawsuit seeking information about the crash that claimed the life of his son and Princess Di. That's at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time, noon Pacific.

VAN SUSTEREN: And, tonight, on CNN NEWSSTAND, investigators want answers from Ford and Bridgestone Firestone. Phone in and send your e-mail. Tonight at 10:00 p.m. EST.

And, of course, we'll be back tomorrow with another edition of BURDEN OF PROOF. We'll see you then.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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