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Interview with Dominick Dunne

Aired July 24, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, crime author, celebrity trial watcher, Dominick Dunne. We're an hour away from an emotional funeral service for little Samantha Runnion. Hear his take on her awful murder. His daughter, Dominique, was murdered, too. The Van Dame case, the Dirty Dancing defense, Elizabeth Smart, the latest on Chandra, the Skakel sentencing and his hot new TV show "Justice: Crimes, Trials and Punishment." He's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

His most recent book, "Justice: Crimes, Trials and Punishment" is now out in trade paperback. He's the host of the series, "Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege and Justice." It's such a hit on "Court TV," they have signed him to do several new episodes for which we congratulate him. He's, of course, a special correspondent for "Vanity Fair."

As you know, this program is repeated later on tonight at midnight Eastern and 3:00 a.m., but if you're with us live at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time, we're an hour away from the start of the Samantha Runnion funeral. We will broadcast that funeral in its entirety one hour from now. And we'll start, Dominick, by getting your take on this whole tragic story.

DOMINICK DUNNE, DAUGHTER DOMINIQUE MURDERED IN 1982: Well, this is one of the saddest stories that the country has had for, you know -- I mean this is heartbreaking, absolutely heartbreaking. And I'm so touched by her little friend who gave out such an incredible description that the artist was able to draw a picture from it that resembled very closely Mr. Avila.

KING: What do you make -- assuming Mr. Avila, the suspect, is the one that is guilty, what do you make of the police work in this matter?

DUNNE: Brilliant, brilliant, but I mean -- and I love hearing the police chief -- and I've watched him -- and whom, I think, is great, by the way...

KING: Yes.

DUNNE: But I mean, he acknowledges the help of the media and the help of the public because I think that the media has done an incredible job of just bringing this out instantly, instantly getting these children -- now, there's been three of them now -- well, there's four with the little girl in Philadelphia, but she, fortunately, is back safe with her family -- but I think that the media has just been so incredible in keeping the public aware at every minute about this.

KING: CNN has learned today that Mr. Avila has an alibi problem, Dominick. He said he was at a mall in San Bernardino County around the time of the abduction. Sources have told CNN that his cell phone records and credit card activity place him in South Orange County instead.

We have asked you on this program and discussed what to do with the person eventually found guilty. We don't want to say that Mr. Avila is guilty. He is going to get a trial. And there are those who are saying that the mother should be listened to in the case of guilt with regard to capital punishment. Do you think so?

DUNNE: I do think so, yes. Yes, yes. Yes, I think -- by the way, I'm very impressed with the mother in this case. I mean I think she's a very dignified lady and I think she has controlled herself beautifully during the worst moment of her life.

KING: No one can know how people will act in a circumstance like this. You had it happen to you. Your daughter was a little older. It is not predictable, is it, Dominick?

DUNNE: No, it is not. It is not. I mean, everyone is different, you know. I'm a victim's advocate and I work a lot with victims and I often go to parents who have lost a child. Nobody ever reacts the same. Sometimes it's rage and anger and other times it's just utter helpless, helpless grief.

KING: Death could be called death. Is it different, in your opinion, if you lose a child in an auto accident or to a disease, or lose a child to the actions of someone else like a murderer?

DUNNE: Yes, yes, it is. Of course, it is. And I mean, it's awful any way, either way, other ways, to lose a child under any circumstance. But the fact that somebody violates your child, somebody takes your child as they did this little girl is just -- as a man, whether it's Mr. Avila or not -- takes her, screaming, crying, saying, "Tell my grandmother," and then, what he did to her and the way he left her body by the side of the road in a provocative position, I mean, this is horrible. This is horrible. Whoever did it -- I mean I hope something -- I hope he gets the max, whatever it is.

KING: There are some thinking already that a defense will ask for a change of venue, that it would be literally impossible for Mr. Avila to get a fair trial in Orange County. Off the top, what do you think of that?

DUNNE: Well, you know, I'm not much for that. I mean I think a trial ought to take place where the murder was. You know I always felt that O.J. Simpson's trial should have taken place in Santa Monica not in downtown Los Angeles. And these -- but the people are going to be horrified by this crime wherever the trial takes place.

KING: Do you support the death penalty?

DUNNE: Well, I'm not for the death penalty, actually, you know surprisingly enough, being as much of a victim's advocate as I am. But if it happened in this case, believe me, I would not be out with a candle outside the prison on the night it happened.


KING: Dominick, have you worked on cases involving pedophilia?

DUNNE: I have not.

KING: What do you think leads to it? It's so mind boggling to the layperson to try to understand...


KING: ... pedophilia to begin with, and then murder and pedophilia.

DUNNE: Yes, well, I mean pedophilia has become a major topic of conversation in the last year since all the pedophilia stories in the Catholic Church, which I'm a member, by the way, have taken place. I mean I had no idea that pedophilia was as -- I don't know, what is the word, not popular, but I mean it is...

KING: Prominent.

DUNNE: Yes, and it is such a -- I had no idea that it was such an enormous figure.

KING: Dominick, apparently it's going to -- or do you think we're just hearing more about it and that we've always had it or do you think there's more of it?

DUNNE: Well, I think -- you know the fact that -- some of these cases, we might not have heard about before 24-hour television came...

KING: Yes.

DUNNE: ... 24 hour news television came into being, but I'm all for it being as publicized and on and talked about on TV as much as possible. I'm all for that.

KING: So you think critics who say that TV plays to the lowest denominator when it does it, or that it's going to the tabloid element, those critics are wrong?

DUNNE: Well, yes, I think so. Yes, I think so. I think -- listen; if it hadn't been for the media helping out, I think that it probably would have been a longer time before they caught Mr. Avila.

KING: Our guest is Dominick Dunne. He hosts the series, "Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege and Justice" on "Court TV." That series has just signed him -- "Court TV" has just signed him to do several new episodes. We'll be taking phone calls. He's our only guest tonight. We'll be right back.


KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. That's the entrance to the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, where, in about 47 minutes, the funeral of Samantha Runnion will take place. We'll be covering it live on CNN and that live coverage will begin at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time, 7:00 Pacific.

We're talking with Dominick Dunne. And by the way, Robert Shula's son -- his name is also Robert Shula -- is conducting that service. He'll be one of our guests tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE.

Some other -- let's touch other bases, Dominick, then take a bunch of calls. Congratulations by the way on the extension of the "Court TV" thing. I gather you're enjoying it.

DUNNE: I really am. I'm having a great time doing it. And we have a great show on tonight, but I -- it's -- sadly, it comes in conflict with Samantha's funeral.

KING: Yes, but they repeat them.

DUNNE: Oh yes, I know. They repeat them on Sunday at the same time, 10:00.

KING: What do you make of that young girl in Philadelphia and her resourcefulness?

DUNNE: Well, I think she's a winner. That kid, I just wanted to hug her, watching her on TV tonight when she was waving and she was so happy. And what a lovely child that is.

KING: What a gritty thing she did, too.

DUNNE: What a gritty thing, but you know, I called my son today, Larry, about my grand daughter, who's 12 and beautiful. And, you know, I just think, does she know? Do you let her watch the news? Does she know? And, of course, she does know and she does watch the news. And you know, I think all -- she and all her little friends are -- this is a scary time for kids.

KING: You know that's a good thought. Children should watch...

DUNNE: Oh, I believe that.

KING: ... this little girl, right?


KING: Teach them themselves. The Elizabeth Smart story, which now seems to be -- hate to say this -- kind of back burner. The child remains missing. Law enforcement tells CNN the charges against anyone will most likely not be brought until this girl is found so that no one's going to be charged with anything, apparently, until we find Elizabeth Smart somewhere. What are your thoughts reflectively now on that?

DUNNE: Well, I mean, again, this is another child. I mean I was just so struck by the beauty of that child, of that -- playing the harp and the -- I mean I just thought she was such a lovely, lovely person. But there's just something mysterious to me in the family. I'm sorry. There's something about the family. There's something about little Mary Catherine, who was in the room at the time and saw the guy, and seemingly didn't know him but knew he was 5-feet-8 and so forth. And he told her not to say anything for two hours or the sister would be harmed. Well, I just -- then later the story was changed. I don't know. There's something bothersome to me within that family.

KING: So you think that someone involved might be someone she knew?

DUNNE: Well, yes.

KING: Is that what you're saying?


KING: Yes.

DUNNE: I mean how do you get into a house -- it's a very big house, by the way -- and there's six kids in that family. There's four boys and two girls. How do you know the right room to go to where you're going to get the beautiful daughter? And I mean unless you know that house and -- how do you get the other child to not scream -- the other child is quite young. And that -- and she said at one time that she went into another room and there was the guy. I mean it had to be someone that they knew.

KING: The Skakel case, you devote your entire "Vanity Fair" diary in August to the case. You said the guilty verdict shocked you almost as much as the O.J. Simpson not guilty verdict. You were on this show that night...

DUNNE: That night, yes.

KING: ... with the parents of -- with the mother and brother of the lady who was killed. Your overview of that is -- what shocked you, Dominick?

DUNNE: Well, I mean shocked with delight, I have to tell you, because I mean, you know, I always think that the defendant who gets the million dollar lawyer is going to beat the local, overworked, underpaid prosecutor, but it didn't work out that way this time. Now, you know, the sentencing has been postponed. It was supposed to have been on the nineteenth and it's postponed to August 9. And now, today, there was a little rumble that there might be a further postponement of the sentencing.

What is really fascinated me is the fact that the brother, the youngest brother in the family -- there's six brothers and a sister in the family -- and the youngest brother, Steven, I believe his name is, wrote a letter to family, friends of the Skakel family and supporters asking for money for the appeal. It was an embarrassing letter. Someone whom they sent it to leaked it to the Associated Press. And I have read the later. And you know the Skakels were, at one time, one of America's richest families. And at the time that Ethel Skakel married Bobby Kennedy Jr. -- a wedding I went to, by the way -- the Skakels were thought to be richer than the Kennedys. So I mean this kind of saying, we need money and you make out your check to never give up or something like that, and I mean I just don't know what's happened to the money or if it's evaporated or if the family doesn't want to put out any more money for Michael.

I think -- and then in this same letter, they give instructions on writing letters to Judge Kavanewsky and asking for leniency. And then, they give you, the receiver of the letter, some ideas of what to say, like "Michael helped me become sober." And they tell him not to criticize the verdict or the judge. I mean it's a mortifying letter, I mean now that it's become public.

KING: It's been reported, Dominick -- and I don't know if this is true -- that there's a chance he can get a lot of time off...

DUNNE: That's right.

KING: ... for having lived as a good citizen between the time of the murder and the time of his guilty verdict, is that true?

DUNNE: That's very true. And...

KING: But in other words, that's time off for good behavior, but he wasn't convicted of any bad behavior up until then. So how can you get time off for an act after it happened before you're convicted of it?

DUNNE: Yes, well, this is something to do with the laws at the time that...

KING: Of the murder?

DUNNE: ... Martha Moxley was killed. I'm not totally certain about that.

KING: Those laws have been -- since changed, right?

DUNNE: Yes, yes, but they're using that, which means that he -- you know he gets a minimum of 10 years. And say that that's what the judge gives him, well; he'll get out in seven or even five years.

KING: And does that bother you?

DUNNE: Yes, yes.

KING: Our guest is Dominick...

DUNNE: He killed her in a horrible, horrible way and -- over killed -- didn't just kill, he over killed. And yes, I don't know what the sentence should be, but I think it should be a heavy sentence.

KING: And you have no doubt of his guilt?

DUNNE: I have none.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Dominick Dunne, writer, "Court TV," "Vanity Fair" reporter. Your phone calls will be coming shortly as well. This is LARRY KING LIVE, don't go away.


KING: Again, as we come back, you see just a few minutes ago, the father of the late Samantha Runnion. He's in from Massachusetts to attend the funeral of his daughter. His parents -- Samantha's parents were divorced. His mother remarried. And this is the father entering the funeral home now. We will broadcast that funeral in its entirety for you when it begins in about 37 minutes.

Dominick Dunne is with us. We're tracing current cases and the like. And Dominick, what do you make of this Van Dame story and trying to at least place the blame a bit on the parents down there in Southern California as if their lifestyle might have prompted what happened to their daughter?

DUNNE: Well, I was upset about that at first. You know I think that that didn't -- you know, that that shouldn't have come out because it didn't relate to the -- what happened to the child. But subsequently, you know, there are two people that I have seen on TV who were witnesses and said that the mother was dancing with the man who...

KING: Yes.

DUNNE: ... murdered the child and, you know, it kind of changes things a bit.

KING: So you think the defense has the right to bring in perspective what kind of lifestyle there was to open up to the jury...

DUNNE: Well, I think...

KING: ... the possibility that someone else could have done it?

DUNNE: Yes, well, I mean I think now, it has to come in. I think -- and you know I heard this one very sort of prim looking lady -- looked to be in her 60s and who was in the nightclub or whatever it was that night -- and you know, she looked like the least likely person to be in a nightclub where there was dirty dancing going on, but she really described the rubbing against, you know, if so. And I don't know. I think it's going to be tough on the mother when that trial comes.

KING: What's the latest on the Safra case?

DUNNE: Well, that's very interesting on the Safra case. You know there's an American lawyer on that case called Michael Griffith. Michael Griffith got famous in the Billy Hayes story, the boy that they made the movie about, "Midnight Express."

KING: Yes.

DUNNE: And he is gathering a bunch of expert witnesses, tops in their field, and the primary one at the moment is Michael Badden (ph), the former medical...

KING: Medical examiner.

DUNNE: Yes, medical examiner from New York, whom I got to know during the O.J. Simpson trial. That's my clock going off, Larry, sorry. And he -- there is something explosive that is going to come out soon. You know...

KING: Really?

DUNNE: Yes because the autopsy report on Edmond Safra and on the nurse who died with him, who was called Vivian Torrente -- she's from New Jersey -- and the autopsy report has been in French only and now, there's a translation of it and Michael Badden (ph) is going over it. And I think there's something very explosive -- which I am not at liberty to say at this moment, but I think it's going to change the little bit of the thinking on this case.

You know I still am so -- you know me. I'm a victim's advocate, but this is the time I am absolutely fighting every month for Ted Maher...

KING: Yes.

DUNNE: ... this -- the American nurse, the lowest ranking nurse in the -- who wasn't even supposed to be on duty that night -- and he's spent two-and-a-half years in the Monte Carlo prison, the Monaco Prison. And I think this guy's getting a raw deal and I think that Michael Griffith is going to shake up things in Monaco.

KING: We hear that Robert Chambers, known as the Preppie Killer -- he killed Jennifer Levin back in New York -- that may be released within the year. That -- the crime happened in 1986. He...

DUNNE: Well, I tell you...

KING: ... was in prison in '88. What do you hear?

DUNNE: Well, I know he's going to be released and it's going to be, I believe, February 3. I could be off on that, but I think it's February 3, '03. And he will have -- I've learned a new -- I talked to Linda Fairstein last night, who was the prosecutor...

KING: Yes.

DUNNE: ... a brilliant, brilliant, wonderful woman and who's a very good friend of mine also. And she said that his -- he's maxed out. I had never heard that expression before. He has -- will have on that date February 3, '03; he will have served his 15-year sentence. And... KING: Oh, so he's got to get out?

DUNNE: Well, they have to let him go. He's had trouble, you know, while he was in prison these 15 years, and mostly drug problems. He's a very handsome guy, as you know, apparently, still good looking. And lots of girls go and visit him and apparently, have brought him drugs. He's been in trouble on several occasions.

KING: For the benefit of the audience who may not remember, he only got 15 years, why?

DUNNE: I can't remember why, but he was the one who killed Jennifer Levin.

KING: In the park.

DUNNE: In the park, in Central Park and then, said it was rough sex.

KING: Yes, that's right.

DUNNE: And he had -- do you remember that? And then, he...

KING: Sure.

DUNNE: ... he -- when the body was found by a jogger at 6:30 in the morning, who called the police and the ambulance, he sat on a wall and watched the whole operation. He's a strange guy. And he once had a doll and he re-enacted the thing on video of the killing.

KING: It stinks.

DUNNE: And he's now 33, 34 years old. And...

KING: He'll be out.

DUNNE: ... I don't know what's going to happen to him.

KING: Do you think...

DUNNE: But I mean...

KING: ... is he ever going to...

DUNNE: Well, you know, he has -- you know, he was not necessarily a rich kid, but brought up with rich kids...

KING: Yes.

DUNNE: ... went to private schools. That's why they called him the Preppie and, you know, some parent of one of his pals will give him a job and he'll be among us.

KING: Do you think we'll ever solve the Jonbenet Ramsey murder?

DUNNE: Well, you know, the last time -- no, two times ago, when I was on your show, there was a call in from somebody -- and we were talking about the Skakel case -- and there was a call in from somebody who asked about the Jonbenet Ramsey case and yes, I gave some answer. I didn't even think about it. And you know, it was 20 seconds or something and we were on to the next call. And the next day, I had a call from the Ramseys' lawyer, Lynne Baker or something like that from Atlanta, both at my unlisted...

KING: Lynne Wood. Lynne Wood.

DUNNE: I beg your pardon, Lynne Wood, of course -- and at my unlisted number here in Connecticut and my unlisted in New York. And they were like threatening voices saying, "I hope we won't have to meet in court" or something like that. And you know, whatever I said was so innocuous I didn't even remember it. And I found that very, very odd that he was...

KING: Yes.

DUNNE: You know, you can't censor everything, and we're all allowed to have an opinion.

Do I think it will be solved? No, I don't.

KING: We'll take a break. We'll come back. We'll include your phone calls for Dominick Dunne.

At the top of the hour, the tragedy that unfolds and continues, the killing of young Samantha Runnion. The funeral will take place one half hour from now here in Garden Grove, California. The pastor at that funeral will be one of our guests tomorrow night.

And we'll be right back.


KING: As we come back, there's the scene inside the famed Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, where the funeral of Samantha Runnion will take place at the top of the hour.

That, by the way, the funeral is completely open to the public. It is not by invitation.

Our guest is Dominick Dunne, the host of the series "Dominick Dunne's Power Privilege and Justice." A major hit on Court TV, and they've signed him to do several new episodes. He's special correspondent for "Vanity Fair." The best-selling author -- his latest: "Justice, Crimes, Trials and Punishment" now out in trade paperback.

We'll now start to include your phone calls.

Ottawa, Ontario, hello.

CALLER: Hi Larry, hi Dominick.

KING: Hi. Hi. CALLER: Dominick, I'm a big fan of your writing.

DUNNE: Thank you.

CALLER: My question is, as the father of a murdered child, what advice would you give to Samantha Runnion's mother on how to go on?

DUNNE: Oh boy. Oh boy. She's going to have a terrible time.

And I think she -- you know, there are groups -- there is a group called the Parents of Murdered Children that my wife and I and my sons all attended. And it was very helpful to us because, you know, after a few weeks and everything, people -- even your friends, you know, can't hear your grief any more. And it's very good to know people who have been through the same terrible thing that you have.

KING: Any advice on whether to attend the trial or not? Or is that purely personal?

DUNNE: Absolutely, it is a must. It is a must. It is a must for the parent of a murdered child to attend the trial. It is the last business of your child's life. It is important that the jury see you, see -- it's important that they see what a lovely person Samantha's mother is, and they know and they understand the loss and the grief.

It is incredibly important that the parents attend the trial.

KING: Las Vegas, Nevada for Dominick Dunne, hello.

CALLER: Hi Larry, hi Dominick.

My question is for you, Dominick. What do you think we, as parents, can do to keep our children safer? And one more question: What do you think of our current criminal justice system and how it treats criminals?

DUNNE: Well, what we do to our children is just, I think -- I mean, I'm just thinking in terms of my granddaughter now. I mean, just to make her aware, aware, aware: No matter what, the man that stops the car and wants you to find the kitten or find the puppy or do the whatever, no, no, no.

And I think they just have to be trained. I think they should -- that the news of this child's death should not be kept from kids. I think that the kids should -- you know, so that they understand how serious it is. And...

KING: And what about the criminal justice system?

DUNNE: The second part of your question I forgot. What was it?

KING: She asked about the way we treat criminals in the criminal justice system. Isn't one of the problems, Dominick, is that you're not a criminal until the jury says you're a criminal, you're only an accused? DUNNE: Yes, yes. That happened just like in a minute at the Skakel case. I mean, he had been deferred to (sic) a defendant throughout the trial, and the minute that the jury said "guilty" and the jury was polled and Michael Skakel said that he wanted to make a statement and Judge Kavanewsky said, no sir, sit down. I mean, his standing changed in a second.

KING: Fountain Valley, California, hello.

CALLER: Hi Larry.


CALLER: Hi Mr. Dunne?


CALLER: I just actually have a quick question. I want to know what your opinion is on first-time offenders. Do you think they should go to jail -- and I'm not talking about if they murder, but if they fondle children, and what you think their punishment should be.

KING: Yes, what should be the first-time offending in a pedophilia case?

DUNNE: Well, punishment of some sort. But, of course, it could be psychiatric treatment. You know, I don't know if there's homes for pedophiles. I mean, I just don't know that.

But I think even the first time that you don't go easy.

KING: Bedford, Indiana, hello.

CALLER: Hello Larry, Mr. Dunne.

What is the impact of on society of publicizing these crimes on TV?

KING: Yes, that's that thin line we draw.

Dominick, you like publicizing them, right? You think it's important to publicize them?

DUNNE: Yes I do. Yes I do.

I mean, I think that the reporting on these three kids, these three children who have been kidnapped, I think it's been excellent. I mean, I don't think it's been salacious. I don't think it's -- and I think we all should be shocked to the core of us by what's going on.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more calls for Dominick Dunne.

As we go to break, we've been talking about his TV show.

Here's a sample. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "Dominick Dunne's Power Privilege and Justice")

ANNOUNCER (voice-over): In an upstairs bedroom, multimillionaire construction tycoon Stanley Cohen (ph) has apparently been shot to death while he slept. His wife Joyce (ph) tells the police intruders are responsible for the crime.

DUNNE: It read like a script from "Miami Vice." Jet-setting Stan Cohen (ph) had made a fortune in the construction business. He had a young, attractive wife who liked drugs and liked to party. Finding people that wanted him dead was easy.

Finding the killer would prove to be far more difficult.



KING: Once again the scene outside the church in Garden Grove, California, the Crystal Cathedral. They have now closed the doors there because the cathedral is full. There is standing room outside. And they -- I know they have speakers outside so that people outside will be able to hear.

If you're watching this program repeated at midnight Eastern Time, we will also repeat at 1:00 a.m. Eastern time the funeral which will follow this show live.

Before we take our next call, what do you make of the Robert Blake case and the denial of any bail?

DUNNE: Boy! Boy, oh, boy. They're being rough on him. And he's got a very good lawyer, you know, Harlan, and -- but they must have such goods on him, Larry, in order not to give him bail.

KING: She's a friend of yours, a friend of ours, although we've been able to reach her. Have you spoken to Martha Stewart?

DUNNE: I have left messages for Martha Stewart. You know, I have to tell you, she's a friend of mine. And I have -- I mean, I think the media in this case has hit her too hard. I really do.

KING: You mean, it doesn't fit the nature of the story?

DUNNE: Yes. What did you say?

KING: The attention doesn't fit the nature of the story?

DUNNE: Well, I mean, it's excessive, I think. I mean, you know, and the Enron thing, they ruined people's lives. They took people's savings, and this was -- this was peanuts compared to that.

KING: What do you make of this whole scandal business? What do you make of this whole business scandal? DUNNE: Well, I mean, I think it is -- you know, we weathered September 11. We weathered everything. And what we're being brought down by is the greed of these guys that run these companies and have so little feeling for the people working for them, as they're all cashing out.

KING: Amazing.

DUNNE: I mean, I find it disgraceful, Larry.

KING: Joplin, Missouri for Dominick Dunne.

CALLER: Larry, hello, Dominick.


CALLER: Nothing can compare with losing a child. But since you do not support the death penalty, do you believe in getting him the psychological help and finding out if there's something psychological wrong with these people? Or what do you think should be done with them, just besides locking them away?

DUNNE: Well, I think they should be locked away. But I also think, yes, I think they should have psychological help. I absolutely believe that.

KING: To Kingston, Rhode Island. Hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Larry. Good evening, Dominick. I have a couple of quick questions for you, but first of all I want you to know that the book, your most recent book, "Justice," was just superb, and I love your TV show also.

DUNNE: Thank you.

KING: A fan, Dominick.

DUNNE: So good.

CALLER: I was wondering, what is the latest on the Chandra Levy case?

DUNNE: Well, I know that the Levys have now brought Dr. Henry Lee in, and I even think Michael Baden could be involved in that case as well.

I just don't know if we're ever gonna find out anything here. You know, the contact that I have in the FBI tells me that they don't think that she was murdered where they found the skeleton. And I don't know what to say. You know, it doesn't seem to me like it's -- my heart goes out to the Levys, and I love it that they're not giving up and that they're bringing in Henry Lee and I wish he would have come in earlier.

KING: West Hartford, Connecticut for Dominick Dunne, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: Hi, Dominick.


CALLER: I have a twofold question for you. My first part of the question is if this trial goes -- if the Runnion trial goes as planned, do you think that this guy will try to cop a deal and get life as opposed to facing a death penalty?

And if he doesn't and it does go to trial, would you attend the trial? Because I have seen you in many of the high profile cases?

DUNNE: Yes, well, I don't know. Yes, I think I might attend that.

KING: What is your determining factor in what trial you attend?

DUNNE: Yes, this is a different kind -- I have never attended this kind of trial before. I'm just not sure yet whether I would attend it or not. You know, I actually go for the high profile trials, and this will certainly be that. This is gonna be a very hard case to cover, I think.

KING: Hard because?

DUNNE: Well, because, I mean -- I mean, I have to admit, I have very bad feelings about Mr. Avila without...

KING: So it's emotional for you?

DUNNE: Yes, yes.

KING: Do you think it should be telecast?

DUNNE: I'm all for having trials telecast. All for it.

KING: We'll take a break. And when we come back, our concluding moments with Dominick Dunne.

At the top of the hour we will go to Garden Grove, California for the funeral of Samantha Runnion. There you see the interior of the church, the Crystal Cathedral. It is now filled to capacity. People outside will have to hear it on loudspeakers set up there.

And we'll be broadcasting it live, and repeating it when this program is repeated, following it at 1:00 a.m.

We'll come right back with our remaining moments with Dominick Dunne. Stay right there.


KING: For those watching on television, not listening to simulcast on radio, we have some new pictures we haven't shown before of Dominick Dunne's late daughter, the victim of a murder. there she is. What a beautiful girl. She would be how old now, Dominick?

DUNNE: Gosh, it was 1982, so she would be about 39 now.

KING: She was only 19.

DUNNE: No, she was -- actually, she was 22.

KING: So she would be 42.

DUNNE: Oh my gosh.

KING: And the man who did it is free, right?

DUNNE: Absolutely free. He got 2 1/2 years. And - which is what absolutely changed my life. I mean, you know, the idea that he got 2 1/2 years and, you know, was out free, has a life. He's changed his name. John Maura. He was John Sweeney. And, you know, something like that, Larry, changes you forever. I have never been the same since. Neither have been sons. And I'm sure that's what's going to be with Mrs. Runnion.

KING: Her mother, your wife passed away, right?

DUNNE: Yes, she did.

KING: Valiant, Oklahoma, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry.


CALLER: I watch your show every night.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: Hello Mr. Dunne. My question is if the major broadcast companies of America united to create a 24 hour, seven day a week channel only giving information and reports on missing children, do you think it would be a successful channel?

DUNNE: You mean for people to call in?

KING: A missing children's channel in which the channel would 24 hours a day, tell stories, show pictures of children who are missing.

DUNNE: I think it's a wonderful idea. And I think it would also give people a chance to call in with tips, that's the power of TV. They see a face and they say, my god, that was the person I saw last night at the mall.

KING: I don't know what the argument against that would be, as a worthwhile endeavor. Maybe the networks pooling together as they do with C-SPAN, the cable networks make C-SPAN possible, why not this? What's more important than children? Brentwood, Tennessee, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello. Dominick, I became a fan of yours during the O.J. Simpson trial. And I just wanted to say that I think your endless efforts in that Martha Moxley case are just so admirable. My question was I wanted to ask you what you thought about Mark Fuhrman's treatment during and after the case. Do you think that it was unjust or do you have an opinion on that?

KING: It should be reported that Dominick and Mark are now friends, right?

DUNNE: Yes, I am. Mark Fuhrman and I are friends, and I was upset with him during the trial. I never met him during the trial. I never met him until after the trial. I was in the court room every time he was on the stand. And so forth. But, you know, he made a mistake. And he lied under oath that he hadn't said the N-word when he had. And so forth. But at the end of that trial, when a man that I believed was guilty of slitting the throats of two people walked free and Mark Fuhrman was a felon with a ruined life, that ain't fair to me. I mean, those two crimes do not equate. And I was delighted, delighted that I was able to bring him into the Skakel case and where he did such an incredible job. And it was Mark Fuhrman's book called "Murder in Greenwich" for which I wrote the introduction, that really brought about the grand jury that led to the indictment.

KING: He'll be here in a couple weeks.

DUNNE: So I think he's a good guy.

KING: He is, by the way, a pretty good writer, isn't he?

DUNNE: He's a very good writer.

KING: Mason City, Iowa. Last call for Dominick Dunne, hello.

CALLER: Hi. I'd like to ask you a question. First of all, to me, right's right and wrong's wrong. And when you say that Martha Stewart is less guilty than somebody else, she's wrong regardless. It doesn't matter how big the peanuts are, she's wrong.

KING: Because if she did what she said, that's still wrong, right? Dominick?

DUNNE: I didn't quite understand...

KING: Oh, Martha Stewart, she's saying, if she did wrong, she did wrong?

DUNNE: Well, she did wrong. Yes, yes. I didn't say that - what I said is, though, I think that the media has been much tougher on her than on people who have done worse infractions, financial infractions.

KING: Dominick, what trial are you covering now?

DUNNE: I am at my house in Connecticut writing a novel called "A Solo Act" which is a sequel sort of to my novel "People Like Us." It's set 20 years later in New York City. It involves a crime, actual crime. And it is fictionalized, of course, and all the people are based on real people.

KING: Dominick, it's always a pleasure having you on this program. We look forward to many, many, many, appearances in the future. We salute you on your writing, on your new book now in trade paperback, "Justice: Crimes, Trials & Punishment." I was honored to be, I think, one of the first persons to read that book.

DUNNE: Yes, you were.

KING: It was terrific. I salute you on the extension of your television show. And of course, everybody reads you in "Vanity Fair." Dominick Dunne, thanks so much.

DUNNE: Thanks, Larry.

KING: See you again soon.

DUNNE: Thank you. You bet.

KING: We're going to wind up things tonight by going to Garden Grove, California, and Aaron Brown of NEWSNIGHT fame will anchor all the proceedings that will take place at the Crystal Cathedral,. the funeral of Samantha Runnion. That's next on CNN. I'm Larry King, stay tuned.




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