CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Panel Discusses Abduction of Tamara Brooks, Jacqueline Marris
Aired August 1, 2002 - 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, a nightmare that began at a desolate teen hangout spot north of L.A. Two teenage girls kidnapped at gunpoint, their male companions tied up and left behind in terror. And 12 hours later, 100 miles north, the girls saved, their abductor shot, killed by police.
We'll hear from the man who officially announced the good news, Assistant L.A. County Sheriff Larry Waldie. Also joining us, the attorney general of California, Bill Lockyer. Did his state's first Amber Alert make the difference between life and death in this dramatic case?
Plus, a man who crusades to protect kids after losing his beautiful daughter Polly to a terrible crime, Marc Klaas. Plus, Court TV anchor Nancy Grace, a former prosecutor. And with the opposite view on just about every legal issue, defense attorney Mark Geragos. All that, your calls, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We begin with assistant sheriff Larry Waldie of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He comes to us from Lancaster, California. I just spoke to the hospital, sheriff. They tell me the girl should be released tonight. What's the latest on their condition?
ASST. SHERIFF LARRY WALDIE, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF DEPT.: You have what I have from the hospital. We knew they were OK when they were encountered by Kern County sheriff. They were taken to the hospital to be checked. And as far as I know, there was no great physical harm done to them.
KING: What happened from the report of the abduction to the girl's rescue? What went -- give us the time scenario here?
WALDIE: Well, it started about 1:00 in the morning here in California, in the Antelope Valley area. And it went all the way through until about 2:00 this afternoon. The call first came in to us on a 911 from the house of one of the parents of the boys. He had a cell phone. He called his folks. That came in about 10 minutes to 2:00 in the morning.
We immediately went out to the scene, determined in fact that a kidnapping had occurred. And then we started everything into motion, eventually bringing in 300 law enforcement officers from various agencies and eight aircraft, five helicopters and three fixed-wing aircraft, until we eventually located him. KING: And can you describe how the events went that led to his killing?
WALDIE: Well, just basically, I had a story. And I must tell you this, quite frankly, five minutes ago, I got a different story. So, I really can't comment on that because the initial story of a pursuit and foot pursuit is a little bit altered now. And I think the best one to discuss it is Kern County Sheriff, because, quite frankly, the last information I got was different than I had received initially.
KING: OK. And Sheriff Carl Sparks (ph) is due in this studio momentarily. And with the attorney general, he may have some information as well. Do you know if these girls were raped?
WALDIE: No, I do not have that information. You need to understand this individual was wanted, had a warrant out for his arrest for rape and had a warrant of $3 million on his head. He was a pretty bad individual. So, he was with the girls for approximately 12 hours, and we just thank God they were not really seriously hurt.
KING: Sheriff, when was he ID'd as Roy Ratliff?
WALDIE: Well, we had that fairly early on. When we got the vehicle at the scene, the original vehicle he took from Las Vegas, we ran the plates, realized he was from Las Vegas PD. We got the information from the boys. The description of the suspect seemed to be the same suspect that was in Las Vegas. And then we got some calls in, one, a particularly good informant who believed she knew who the individual was. She gave us that name. We took that name and ran it and it came back to this particular individual. We saw the large warrant on his head for 261 in California, that's rape. And we kind of honed in on him right from that point early on and we began tracking him.
KING: Who, Sheriff, spotted the car?
WALDIE: The car was spotted by several different people, a Caltrans worker here in California, another call from an individual who saw it on the 14 Freeway. Eventually, an animal control officer in Kern County saw the car and put in a call to the Kern County Sheriff. And then, eventually, a helicopter saw it, spotted it. And that's when the Kern County made contact.
KING: Did any of your people talk to the girls?
WALDIE: Yes. Our investigators have talked to them at the scene to get information regarding what occurred that whole 12 hours. I don't have that information. They're still with the girls and their families at the hospital.
KING: Do you know how their emotional status was?
WALDIE: Well, Mr. King, you got to understand, you have a very bad guy with a big gun tying up their boyfriends. The fear must have been there. The trauma must have been very, very traumatic on the girls. And they were with him for 12 hours in that car.
KING: Sheriff, in an overview, we'll be asking our guests, what solved this so quickly and successfully?
WALDIE: Well, I think it was the -- a lot of things. I think a lot of good police work, good detective work, the cooperation of all the agencies. I could not tell you how many agencies we had here, both federal, local and state, over 300 involved in this. And a good part of it is this Amber Alert system that we're able to disseminate all the information to every single law enforcement agency in the state, put it out to the media, put it out on the road signs, the electrical road signs on the freeways. We literally had four or 5 million people looking for this car, this individual. So, a lot of factors went into play to make it successful.
KING: I'm going to ask the attorney general and others about that Amber Alert idea and whether it is going to be used elsewhere around the country, is it a California-only concept and the like. Is this the first time it's been used, to your knowledge, Sheriff?
WALDIE: That's our first time that we've made access of the various system. We just got the information. We implemented it immediately and we got it from the governor's office. And let me tell you, thank God we did because it went to work right away in a very positive manner.
KING: Has the media been helpful?
WALDIE: The media has been wonderful. They put it out on the TV, radio station. They were well aware of it, disseminated as much as anybody. So, it was everybody. I told you, this was a team effort to save two young girls who were in some pretty dire straits.
KING: Thanks so much, Sheriff. Appreciate you being with us and your yeoman-like work today.
WALDIE: Thank you, Mr. King. A great pleasure.
KING: Assistant Sheriff Larry Waldie of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. We'll meet our panel, including the attorney general, right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSHUA BROWN, LEFT TIED UP AS CAR STOLEN BY KIDNAPPER: People come up here and up and down all the time. So I didn't think much of it, except it sounded like he had a flat tire. So, it made me a little suspicious. And then I never heard him get out of the car. I didn't see him get out of the car. And he was just suddenly at my window with a gun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what did he say to you when he got to your window?
BROWN: He told me to give him all my money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then what?
BROWN: At first, I just thought he was going to rob me. And then he took my keys and -- at first, I was really afraid that he was going to kill us. And then, just by his attitude and stuff, it seemed like he really didn't really want to. I don't even think he had bullets in the gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. Sheriff Carl Sparks of Kern County, California is on his way here and will be joining us shortly. Here in the Los Angeles studio is Bill Lockyer, the attorney general of the state of California. In San Francisco is Marc Klaas, whose 12-year-old daughter Polly was abducted from her home and murdered nine years ago, a parole felon, Richard Allen Davis, convicted in that case. He is sentenced to death. And Marc founded Klaas Kids Foundation, an advocate for child protection and crime victims' rights.
And our regulars in New York, Nancy Grace, the anchor of "Trial Heat" on Court TV and former prosecutor. And here in Los Angeles, defense attorney Mark Geragos. We're going to spend some moments, though, with the attorney general Bill Lockyer, who told me, and I guess we might as well reveal it, the girls were raped?
BILL LOCKYER, CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: That's what I'm informed by Sheriff Sparks' chief deputy, with whom...
KING: Who will be here, right?
LOCKYER: The sheriff will be here soon. But apparently there were sexual assaults for both girls.
KING: But they apparently are in good condition.
LOCKYER: Well, that's what we hear, and of course our hearts are with them. Awful thing to go through. Rape survivors often have to live with a lifetime of trauma and trouble. And we hope it will be OK.
KING: How would you guess, Bill, that while raping one, what's happening to the other? You think he ties up one or we don't know yet?
LOCKYER: We don't know yet. This is simply the interviews that the officers conducted with the teenagers.
KING: I see. But they've been raped but they're OK.
KING: OK. This fellow is one of -- we brought a list here. There are 252,278 felony warrants currently outstanding in California.
LOCKYER: That's correct.
KING: 459,000 misdemeanor warrants.
LOCKYER: Well, actually the number is larger than that. It's 2.2 million that are out. But those are the ones that law enforcement says these guys are dangerous. If you stop them for a ticket or something, pull them in, let us know. There's others that are there for -- they didn't show up at court for a speeding ticket.
KING: Let's take the felonies. Why so many?
LOCKYER: Well, there's -- it's the low priority on law enforcement. They're responding...
KING: ...to a warrant?
LOCKYER: Yes. And it will vary a little from department to department, but it's not uncommon to have a major police department -- and if there's one officer chasing the outstanding warrants, you're doing pretty well.
KING: When we hear that there's a $3 million -- what does that mean, $3 million warrant?
LOCKYER: Well, that's the bail. That's how much the bail would be if he were picked up and he had to post bail in order to get released, $3 million, which he's obviously not going to have.
KING: Are there other rapists loose?
KING: Armed people loose?
KING: Murderers? How fearful should we be? How doubly careful? I mean, we're dealing with terrorism. We have so many things to worry about. Now this.
LOCKYER: Well, this is not a new condition. So this has been true for a long time. We've deployed some agents to try to look for the most dangerous of them. We've actually brought those numbers down in the last couple of years. Pull them off the street, getting them to court, getting them tried. But there's still a lot there, and I hope that the people that write budgets and run cities and counties and state budgeters will decide to put some money behind this problem. Because these obviously aren't our best citizens. We'd be safer if they were locked up.
KING: Before I ask about this Amber Alert, this gentleman was Hispanic or was he a Native American?
LOCKYER: Well, both. He -- this was an Indian reservation that he was headed back to, has Native American history as well as...
KING: He was heading to an Indian reservation?
LOCKYER: That's where he was.
KING: What would have happened if he had made it to an Indian reservation? Can he -- can police authorities enter?
LOCKYER: Yes, in California they can.
KING: Are there some states they can't?
LOCKYER: It varies from state to state.
KING: What is the Amber Alert?
LOCKYER: Well, this is a system where you try to electronically announce and pursue -- this worked wonderfully. And it started really about three years ago in California in Orange County. Then in the Sacramento region. If it's a child being abducted, there's some reliable witness of the event, you check with a parent or guardian to make sure that it's accurate. You try to get out to the media as quickly as you possibly can. And that's to alert the millions of people who will be watching television, be listening to the radio, who you want to, on the freeway, see the car, call the local law enforcement.
KING: You have to have some description?
KING: So therefore the young lady last week who was killed, a mother on this show, that wasn't on the air.
LOCKYER: Well, it wasn't -- actually, it did eventually get to the air. But unfortunately, in that instance, it was just the Orange County system. It wasn't now statewide.
KING: Now we're looking at now for the benefit of those with television -- this broadcast is also simulcast on radio. These alerts appeared throughout and people read license numbers and they read it in yellow flashing...
LOCKYER: These are the highway signs. There's about 1,000 of them throughout the state that normally are to alert people there's a traffic accident or something.
KING: How specifically did it work today? LOCKYER: Well, today it was wonderful, because we knew the make of the car and the license number, because he'd stolen this other person's vehicle. So that got out specifically, and people were calling -- there were three or four sightings before they finally caught this guy.
KING: Hold it one moment, Bill. We're going to go now to Peter Brian at the Kern Medical Center. He is their spokesperson and CEO. Thank you, Peter.
PETER BRYAN, SPOKESMAN, BAKERSFIELD HOSPITAL: Thank you.
KING: The attorney general has just informed us that our two young ladies, brave young ladies, were raped. How would you describe their condition?
I think it's premature to make that determination. We have done a complete medical evaluation, medical screening exam, but the rest of the evaluation is not completed yet.
KING: So you're not reporting, then -- the attorney general is saying that the sheriff told him it was rape, you're not reporting that?
BRYAN: That is correct. The evaluation is ongoing. And also given the fact that these girls are minors, we will not release that information from the hospital side.
KING: I see. So you want to make a comment, Attorney-General?
LOCKYER: No. Just passing along what...
KING: Passing along what you were told. And minors, therefore, Peter, if true, we will never learn whether they were or not?
BRYAN: Well, it is up to law enforcement and the family to decide what information they will disclose. Obviously, it was a very traumatic event for the girls involved. But they are currently meeting with their families and continue with the medical evaluation.
KING: Are they going to be released tonight?
BRYAN: Yes. There is no medical reason for them to be retained in the hospital. So we anticipate about 9:00 p.m. Pacific time that they will be released.
KING: How would you describe their condition, Peter?
BRYAN: Well, when they arrived at the hospital, they were alert and interacting, as you would expect, with the medical personnel. It was very traumatic for them, but they went through parts of the evaluation that have been completed very well.
KING: Do they go through a psychological briefing as well?
BRYAN: No. Our evaluation at this point is limited to the physical side. I'm sure over a course of time they will need and get the appropriate counseling that they need.
KING: And the parents of both girls are meeting with them as we speak?
BRYAN: The parents of one of the girls are meeting. The other one, the parent is out of the country, and they do have a guardian appointed who is on site now, and she has not yet met with her guardian, because she's the one that's currently finishing up her evaluation.
KING: Would you say, Peter, these girls were very lucky?
BRYAN: Oh, these girls were extremely lucky. They came in in relatively good physical condition. And, as I indicated, there's no medical need for them to be kept at the hospital overnight.
KING: Thank you, Peter. Thanks very much.
BRYAN: Thank you.
KING: Peter Bryan, the Kern Medical Center spokesperson and CEO. And they're right on top. Is there any reason why...
LOCKYER: It might be worth mentioning that the law prohibits release of a minor's name in connection with events, arrests.
KING: But in this case we knew those.
LOCKYER: But we knew those. Those were initially released in order to try to help find them. And so then it would just be a matter of time, I think, until the details came out.
KING: So that is going to come out.
LOCKYER: Of course.
KING: But Peter is just doing his job in saying that, right?
LOCKYER: Yes, and I think it's good to be sensitive about the family.
KING: Had he lived, the suspect, what would he have been charged with?
LOCKYER: Well, there were so many different charges.
LOCKYER: He would never see the light of day again. He'd be in -- yes, kidnapping and rape and assault and stealing the vehicle and using weapons. The list would be so long.
KING: Were any of these death penalty?
LOCKYER: No. Execution requires a homicide. KING: OK. Our panel, Bill Lockyer, the attorney general, will remain with us, the sheriff will be arriving shortly, the panel will assemble, your calls will be included. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANK, LEFT TIED UP BY KIDNAPPER: At first he taped my hand and then he put it over my mouth, and then he put it over my eyes. And then like he made me put my head against the headrest. Then he started taping my hole head and he taped it all around so that I can't move my head.
KING: Marc Klaas in San Francisco, we'll start with you, and let's go around.
Were you involved in this Amber Alert thing?
MARC KLAAS, KLAASKIDS FOUNDATION: Well actually, I was involved when the attorney general first introduced it in 1999 down in Orange County, the one that was used by Sheriff Carona just, I guess, two weeks ago.
Also, I was involved in the expansion of it up into the Sacramento area. And now I'm actually working with the governor's office and, in fact, will be meeting with some people from the governor's office tomorrow to see what we can do about creating a good, comprehensive plan for the state.
Now, the one they used today was an ad hoc kind of an Amber plan that was obviously very, very effective. But I think you understand that every time a kid gets kidnapped, because of the huge geographical land mass that we have here in California, you don't want to alert absolutely everybody.
Here's the thing: Crescent city, California is closer to Vancouver, British Columbia, than it is to San Diego, California. Therefore, if you're going to have a child kidnapped out of Crescent City, you're going to want to be able to go beyond the California borders, and it's not going to be necessary to contact San Diego immediately.
KING: I got it.
Bill, Marc Klaas is an important figure in crime in this state, isn't he?
LOCKYER: Yes, absolutely.
KING: In crime prevention.
LOCKYER: It's a tragic way that he got there, but he's made a difference, as have others from the victims' families and community. KING: All right Nancy Grace, what's your reading on the occurrences of the day?
NANCY GRACE, COURT TV ANCHOR: You know what, we've been so caught up in the fact that he has been apprehended and the girls are home, so to speak -- at least at the hospital.
But you know what, Larry, when you look back over the big, long field of play here, this is nothing short of a miracle because you know, Larry, about 74 percent of child or minor abductees are murdered within the first three hours. And if it were not for this Amber Alert these girls, most likely, would have been murdered.
This guy had an extensive violent, felony background. And this really is nothing short of a miracle.
KING: So you're saying you think that after a rape or a sexual assault or whatever happened, he might have killed them?
GRACE: Yes, I really do, because this guy would do anything -- he had carjacked the car back in Vegas, had taken it all the way to this point. He was no stranger to a weapon. He had a huge felony record, a $3 million price on his head.
What did he have to lose? And he had these two teenage girls with him. No doubt in my mind.
KING: Mark Geragos, were these boys -- the boys, they could have done nothing, right?
MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Look, it turns out, you got a gun pointed at you. The girls survived, which is the best thing.
But really, I just have to echo this Amber Alert. And when you were showing the freeway signs, those are the signs that they kind of had some fun with in "L.A. Story," the Steve Martin movie from a couple of years ago.
But this morning when we were on the freeway -- or at least I was on the freeway and zillions of others -- you would start wondering immediately what it was about. You made the calls, or I called other people, people who were also in their car; people were looking.
It was like a national, or at least a southern California neighborhood watch. And it's a tremendous asset because usually those signs aren't used or the traffic is -- you know Caltrans will get mad. But normally they're about 30 minutes behind the times in terms of traffic jams.
This was a tremendous asset.
KING: Bill, is this worth a national investment?
LOCKYER: Yes, it is.
(CROSSTALK) LOCKYER: A lot of places have them now that are just traffic related, or emergencies. And this is a good use of it.
Now, it can be triggered incorrectly. We had one also today from northern California where someone saw a young boy being yanked into a van, and they called and there was a witness and so on.
Now, they didn't check to find out, well, it was a kid who had escaped from a group home and they were, with some resistance, bringing him back.
And so that didn't get up because they found out first. But you have to distinguish between the good and the bad cases.
KING: Nancy, what do you make -- yes?
GRACE: I was going to say, it's not that the police would not think of all these actions on their own: contacting the media, putting it up on the roadside, using the weather station, actually, the radion weather station as a 911 alert. It's just that with a protocol in place, they don't have to think, they don't have to wait another hour before it goes up on the freeway. It happens like that, and time is so crucial.
KING: Marc Klaas, what do you make 2,874 homicide warrants out right now in California, homicide warrants, nobody -- not captured; 644 kidnappings; 1,803 sexual assaults -- warrants out for people now.
KLAAS: Oh, I'm not surprised at all, Larry. We have 8 million victimizations, violent victimizations in America on a yearly basis.
And I think it's about time people started paying attention to this information. We will be introducing a comprehensive state of the art Amber Alert system to the governor's office tomorrow that I think can easily be extended right across the country.
GRACE: Well why was this guy on parole, everybody? What was he doing out on the street at the get-go?
KING: Hold it Nancy, you're wrong.
LOCKYER: Yes, he wasn't on parole. He was being chased. They had warrants out because he was accused of raping his step-daughter, 19-year-old kid.
GRACE: No, the parole is in a different state, it's my understanding, for theft, burglary, methamphetamine, and he disappeared after he was on parole in 2001.
KING: Where was he on parole? What state?
GRACE: I think Nebraska.
LOCKYER: Well, he was also released from California prison for some of those same crimes, and was wanted for parole violations also.
KING: Mark, how do you explain it?
GERAGOS: Well, unfortunately, when you take a look at the parole and probation caseload, these officers have hundreds and hundreds of people that they're charged with, taking an interest in. And there's just no way, humanly possible...
KING: And people are paroled because of prison space...
KING: No? Overcrowding?
GERAGOS: Well, this state is unique. California is unique. We don't have a -- there isn't a whole lot of active parole for life-type -- what they call life-top crimes.
Parole is, in effect, for strike offenses and others where there's 85-percent time.
But it's not in California, it's not like it used to be.
LOCKYER: We have 160,000 people in California prison right now. More than 100,000 will be released from prison this year because they've served their time, and they're out.
Now, two-thirds of those will probably be back within three or four years for a violation or a new crime.
KING: But murderers loose, rapists loose.
LOCKYER: Those are ones that have -- that's not a parole thing. They haven't been apprehended.
KING: They have not been apprehended?
LOCKYER: They got arrested, they fled somewhere.
GERAGOS: Or there was a -- or they solved the crime and -- or they've identified who they believe the suspect is, now they're looking for the suspect.
It's not like somebody who's taken into custody and then released in all cases.
KING: We'll be back with our panel. We'll be including your phone calls on this extraordinary day in law enforcement.
Don't go away.
KING: By the way, our best guess is that Sheriff Carl Sparks is struck in traffic (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and stuck somewhere. And the siren doesn't work on a California freeway, because there ain't nowhere to go and you can't move over to let him through because you're going to hit the car next to you to move over.
Anyway, our panel is assembled. We're going to include your phone calls. Bill, the attorney general, Bill Lockyer. Doesn't like to be called general, he likes to be called Bill, has some statistics on people who are taken every year.
LOCKYER: This is abductions. Last year in California, 2,240 abductions, 57 of those were stranger abductions, like this case. So, mostly they're family disputes and that's partly why you have to be careful when you go up on these boards.
KING: Is that about the national average, Nancy, to your understanding...
GRACE: Yes, it is.
KING: ... that most are family?
GRACE: Yes. And the fact is that Marc Klaas and I were discussing this the other night. There's about 750,000 children, that's minors 16 and under, taken a year. But only about three to 500 are those killed, ransom or taken to keep. So that's a low number.
KING: Are prosecutions tough on a parent who takes a child, say, in a custody dispute?
GRACE: Not nearly as tough because very rarely do they hurt the child. But you know what, Larry, earlier, we were talking about whether he would have killed these girls. I meant to tell you something. When he carjacked this elderly couple in Nevada, in Las Vegas, he tried to choke the old woman, beat the heck out of her. So, you know, if he would do that to an older lady, what would he do to these two teenagers?
GERAGOS: Well, I don't even think there's a question about it because of the way he died. I mean, look, he was there with the police and it was a shootout and he was killed. I mean, this was not somebody who had a whole lot of fear.
KING: Marc Klaas, do you think he would have killed the girls?
KLAAS: Sure, he would have killed the girls. And thank goodness the state's taken care of this guy's business so we don't have to go through a trial and listen to the trials and tribulations of his life. But, you know, Larry, a couple of years ago, there was a federal law passed called Amy's Law. And what Amy's Law says is that if a rapist, a child molester or a murderer is released from a state on parole and that individual goes to another state and commits a similar crime, the first state that released them is held financially accountable for the crimes that were committed in the second state.
KLAAS: I don't know if the attorney general is aware of that, but it's something that might be looked into. It's a way to hold states accountable for releasing these individuals. KING: Are you aware of that law?
LOCKYER: No, but I've got 1,100 lawyers and they probably are and we'll be suing somebody.
KING: Freetown, Indiana -- we go to some calls -- hello.
CALLER: Hello. With so many abductions happening weekly, do you believe that we're in a vicious circle with the media? Are we advertising to these crazies out there?
KING: Yet everyone says the media has been helpful. So, we're between a rock and a hard place. Mark, your...
GERAGOS: My immediate response to that is that I think the last two of these has been kind of a testament to the media because you believe that what happened is is they immediately got the media involved, which gets people involved, and they do what law enforcement can't do. You can't have a cop every 10 feet in a sprawling metropolis. And so, you get the ability to spread this out, to get these people caught. And I just think it seems like one a week is still 52 a year.
KING: Her point might be, Bill, does this lead to copycats, media attention?
LOCKYER: Well, it's hard to know. But it certainly...
KING: You can't prove it.
LOCKYER: You can't either way. It has certainly made a difference in these cases to quickly catch the guy in Orange County and to catch and save these young women. So I would come down on the side of more publicity rather than less.
KING: Marc Klaas, what do you think?
KLAAS: Well, I think that there's not a police chief nor a broadcast station manager in America today that would turn his back on the Amber Alert. Now, this is a program that for the last six years has been making incremental progress throughout the country. And I believe that by the end of this year, or certainly by the end of next year, will probably be a national policy.
So, you know, the media's been very, very good at this. If we come down from this with better ways to protect our children, better legislation to protect our children, better media and law enforcement responses, then I think that everybody will have done a good job, and none of these young girls or young boys that have been kidnapped will have died in vain.
KING: Nancy Grace, what's your thoughts on the media?
GRACE: Well, I think that that was an interesting question. But, Larry, a leopard can't change his spots. And when you take a look at this, this guy has a track record of violent felonies, including an alleged rape, with a $3 million price tag on his head. You take a look at Alejandro Avila...
KING: No, but I mean, but when the media covers them all...
GRACE: And I'm saying the media -- but the media didn't make them do this. This is their nature. We did not make them follow their nature.
KING: Pasadena, Maryland. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. I want to say, Nancy, you're a great role model. I also wanted to say I miss Barbara Olson a great deal. My question is, what can I do as a citizen to have the Amber Alert implemented in my state?
LOCKYER: Talk to elected officials in the state legislature, drop a note to the governor, get other groups, victims and others to urge them to adopt a similar program in their state. They'll be very responsive. We all want to do something.
KING: This story will help.
LOCKYER: This story will help spread the word throughout the country.
KING: Marc, what would you recommend?
KLAAS: Well, you know, this kind of a plan has been created by legislators, it's been created by station managers, broadcasters. In Michigan, it was created by a young mother named Robin Tremble (ph), who wanted to make sure something was in place in case her children were kidnapped.
So, really, it's just taking one person who is motivated enough to follow through and get all of the parties together. It can be done with or without legislation. But what you have to do is find the way to get media and law enforcement to cooperate, create the criteria, test the system and then move forward when these children are kidnapped like this.
KING: Mark Geragos, is this more of a California problem?
GERAGOS: No, it's a national problem. But in terms of this Amber Alert, I think that it's ideal in a place like California, especially in places like southern California, where you've got, right now, the ability to get it out immediately, where you've got this freeway system that is just enormous. And you can take advantage of that and you've got the media saturation. You've got such a high density in terms of the population. That's why this is so effective, I think, at least in southern California.
KING: Bill, do you know how he was killed?
LOCKYER: Yes. He was parked in the car with the young women on a remote part of Kern County, about 10 miles from the nearest little town, parked kind of on a little knoll. The helicopter from Kern County was the first to spot the car, called the deputies in. They approached the vehicle.
KING: Where were the girls?
LOCKYER: They're in the car. He's in the front seat. I believe they're in the back seat. But I didn't ask that specific question. There are shots fired through by two officers through both sides of the windows.
KING: With the girls in the car?
LOCKYER: Yes. And he's shot, and then dies there in the car.
KING: Marc, you're whispering something? I was trying to figure out what you were saying.
KLAAS: Me? Bang, bang, man, he's gone. That's beautiful. That's all, bang, bang.
KING: I thought I heard something. We'll take a break and we'll be right back.
KLAAS: Speedy justice.
KING: ... the West, man. We'll be back with more calls after this.
KING: Back with our panel. Our regulars, of course, are Klaas, Grace and Geragos. And we're honored by the appearance of the attorney general, Bill Lockyer, and we go to Tampa, Florida. Hello.
CALLER: Yes, Larry. My question for the attorney general of California is at a recent state fair in Orange County, a booth was set up to actually for people in the public to look for sexual offenders online. Is there any plans to expand that program?
LOCKYER: Yes, it is called Megan's Law, which we've adopted in California. Sex registers have had to register here since 1947. The booths are outreach efforts in fairs all over the state. We also hope that law enforcement will go to "Back to School" nights and show them to parents and so on.
Current law in California requires a parent to go to the sheriff's office or police department to look at that file. It will show you the sex offenders that live in your neighborhood right there, and what crimes, photograph, what they did, tattoos and so on.
We just put it into 13 different languages, so that people can be more comfortable with Vietnamese or Spanish or another language. And we download it daily rather than a monthly CD-ROM that's mailed out. Now we get them the latest information every day.
KING: Any questions about its constitutionality?
LOCKYER: Well, there's a case before the U.S. Supreme Court right now out of Alaska. The debate is is it OK to publish the information worldwide on the Internet? Is that a violation of privacy or not? In California, we don't have it on the Internet. It's this secure CD-ROM.
KING: What are you thinking, Mark?
GERAGOS: My view -- I think the U.S. Supreme Court is going to say that no, it isn't. I mean, you don't have to be a Benjamin Cardoza to count the votes here and understand that it will probably be a 6-3 vote and they'll probably say that it's OK to post it on the Internet.
I -- the public policy...
KING: People who have served their time.
GERAGOS: Yes. The public policy behind it is that people should know, people should be able to find out where the registrants live and that once they know that, there's certain limitations on what they can do with that information, as it stands right now in the state of California. But once it's there and available at the sheriff's office, the argument is is that if you put it online, it's going to go, and it's going to seep out everywhere.
GERAGOS: I don't -- maybe -- I think the Supreme Court is going to rule that's a distinction without a difference.
LOCKYER: Now, there are 100,000 of those almost in the state of California...
LOCKYER: ...that served their sentence and they're out living in a neighborhood, and we want people...
KING: Marc Klaas, I know of your personal -- obviously what happened to you is horrendous, et cetera. But I thought when people serve their time, they serve their time.
KLAAS: Well, listen, a lot of these guys are out on parole. And what we've discovered is that these are a highly recidivist element of the criminal population, and governments have determined that the protection of children is more important than the privacy of these individuals.
They also feel that by publishing this information and making it available, it can work as an external control so that these guys know that people know who they are, therefore they're going be less likely to strike again.
KING: Nancy, I would imagine you concur.
GRACE: I do, Larry, and especially after you've worked with child sex molestation victims, they're never the same. And another thing, this is public record. Once you are convicted, you give up a lot of your privileges, and one of them is that your record is public.
So if it's public, why not be on the Internet? And Larry, the other thing about what Marc Klaas was saying, I've only seen two types of felons that just can't help themselves. They've got to do it again. One, burglars. The other, sex molesters.
GERAGOS: I'd throw drug addicts into that as well.
GRACE: Yes, yes.
KING: Kansas city, Missouri. Yes, Kansas City. Hello.
CALLER: Good evening. My question to the attorney general, do any cities in California currently have curfew laws for kids, say, 14 to 18, and is this or would this be something that the state of California would look into?
KING: Now these were under 18 out to 2:00 a.m. in the morning.
LOCKYER: Yes. There are some cities with curfew law of that sort. It varies locally. It's -- I'm only guessing. I'm not a legislator now. But my guess is they would defer to local policy on the matter, that beach communities would be different than rural communities and so on, but I'm sure this event will trigger a new debate.
KING: Perfectly legal, right, Mark Geragos? A community can set a curfew on people?
GERAGOS: Absolutely. A lot of communities in this state have a 10:00 p.m. curfew for kids.
GERAGOS: There's also communities in this state that have enacted -- and it has been upheld to be constitutional -- you can have not only a curfew for being out of your car, but a curfew for being in your car, and that that's constitutional as well, if you don't have an adult with you.
KING: Good idea, Nancy?
GRACE: Yes, I agree with curfews for juveniles. Of course they will claim it's infringing on their freedom. But you know what? That's why the law protects them even when they think they know best. I am for curfews for juveniles.
KING: You too, Marc?
KLAAS: Well, you know what, Larry? Curfews were generally put out there because they felt that juveniles were committing crimes, when the reality is is that most crimes committed by juveniles are committed between 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon and 6:00 p.m. in the evening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
KLAAS: So I don't know that it's effective. I think that this should be left up to the families, myself.
KING: Johnson, Rhode Island, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry.
CALLER: Good show. My question is for the attorney general. I'm curious as to how the boys that were taped got help and how long it took them before they were -- before they got the help. Thank you.
KING: Thank you.
LOCKYER: It's my understanding from talking to the investigators that shortly after the fellow left, he was able to break out, and he had a cell phone to call home. And then that triggered the calls to law enforcement.
KING: Sheriff Sparks has arrived! No? Yes. Well, they say no. I say he's here and they tell me no. And he'll be with us right after these words.
KING: He has arrived. We're pressed for time, so we're going to spend a bit of it with Sheriff Carl Sparks of Kern County, California, where the two kidnapped girls were rescued and the suspect shot to death.
Were you caught in traffic?
SHERIFF CARL SPARKS, KERN COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: I was flying a helicopter from the scene and we got in some bad weather.
KING: The attorney general has told us that the girls were raped, sexually assaulted.
SPARKS: Yes, they were raped, yes.
KING: That is true. And so that, of course, adds to the -- do you think they would have been killed? SPARKS: That's the only reason I can think, Larry, he was in the boondocks where he was. He was hunting for a place to kill them and bury them.
We probably saved them by 10 minutes. He was parked. He had found the spot when the deputies rolled up.
KING: And Bill described the killing as -- the killing of him. The girls were where?
SPARKS: They were in the back part of the vehicle laying down. We did -- the deputies didn't see the girls until he fired through the back window and he heard them yelling and screaming in there. The other deputy was running up to the driver's side door. The suspect had showed them a gun and said no way, no way.
They shot. The deputy in back shot five times. The deputy on the driver's side shot four times. The deputy in the back went in, grabbed the girls; he's pulling them out the back. The deputy on the driver's side looked in, the suspect was coming back up with the gun, and he shot him twice in the head, and shot him until he stopped.
KING: The girls saw all this?
KING: Were they ever in any danger from your shooting?
SPARKS: Sure could have been. The deputy, because the back window was tinted, didn't know they were in there. They were laying down. He didn't see them. Once he saw them, he quit shooting and went in and grabbed them and started pulling them out.
They still had tape on. It wasn't binding anymore, but they still had tape on their arms.
KING: Were they clothed?
SPARKS: Yes, they were clothed.
KING: Where were you?
SPARKS: I was in Bakersfield.
KING: Were you monitoring all this?
SPARKS: Monitoring it. The Amber Alert started this, Larry; started it at 9:30 in the morning with the first possible sighting.
It was God-driven. We had animal control there, happened to be in the area, saw the vehicle. We had Caltrans saying, we think we saw that vehicle in the area. But the Amber Alert was the first...
KING: And you think, Sheriff, he was looking for a place to -- having already attacked them -- to kill them. SPARKS: He had already raped them, there wasn't anything left to do. I think when he saw the helicopters in the air -- there were three helicopters -- he said, I got to get rid of these girls. And he certainly wasn't going to drop them off at the closest market.
KING: We've had a panel here that includes -- Nancy Grace is in New York, the prosecutor, and Marc Klaas, who I know you know is in San Francisco, his daughter was killed.
I just wonder if anybody has a question for the sheriff. We only have three minute remaining.
Nancy, you have one?
GRACE: Yes, I just wanted to know quickly, the girls have been through hell and they came close to losing their lives, they miraculously survive. How are they now? How are they?
SPARKS: I don't know that they'll ever be the same.
GRACE: No, they won't.
SPARKS: That's hard to say. But they were very thankful that they were alive. But they've got a lot of things to work out.
But at least they're going to be alive to work them out.
KING: They're alive. They'll have a lot of things to go through.
Marc Klaas, you have a question?
KLAAS: Well, I just would like the sheriff to reaffirm the importance of the Amber Alert, in not only recovering these children, but in other cases that certainly will happen down the line.
SPARKS: Sir, all that has to happen is once, and it already did, to make the Amber Alert an important item. And I agree. There's something going on in this country right now, and we got to be on top of it.
This guy, we don't have to worry about him being rehabilitated. We don't have to worry about the Supreme Court. He is deceased.
KING: What's going on in the country? What is going on?
SPARKS: It's something that's keying these guys, you know, that have the tendency to do this type of thing. And all this publicity must be keying something in them.
KING: But the media helps you too, right?
SPARKS: Oh, the media's got to report it. The media's got to report it. I'm not against the media at all. They've got a job to do.
But there's something keying these guys to do this kind of stuff.
KING: Mark Geragos?
GERAGOS: Do I have any questions for him?
What time did all this take place, Sheriff?
SPARKS: The first Amber Alert was at 9:30, the shooting occurred at 12:51.
GERAGOS: And the first -- when did the -- what time did the helicopter come in and zone in and actually track this automobile?
SPARKS: About 15 minutes before our helicopter was in the area, spotted a possible vehicle and was bringing the two deputy sheriffs and their vehicles into the location.
KING: And it was the deputy sheriffs that shot him, right?
SPARKS: Yes, two deputy sheriffs, Jim Stratton (ph) and Larry Thatcher (ph).
KING: Bill, up in Sacramento where you hang out with your 1,100 attorneys, do you know about Sheriff Sparks?
LOCKYER: I sure do. And he and all of the law enforcement personnel involved in this chase and apprehension should be very proud of the job that was done.
We talked a little earlier, Carl, about the fact that here's another one of those people with warrants out that we haven't been able to find and pull in.
LOCKYER: And I wish we somehow could devote more resources to tracking down the quarter of a million felony warrants, at least, that are outstanding.
SPARKS: Well, sir, you've tried in the past to do that. You've tried to find the money and the resources to do that. And you're the best attorney general we've had.
GERAGOS: I'll second that from the defense perspective. We haven't had an attorney general like Bill Lockyer in this state in I don't know how long. He's tremendous.
KING: I thank you all.
Thank you, Bill Lockyer, attorney general. Thank you, Marc Klaas, Nancy Grace and Mark Geragos and Sheriff Sparks, you made it, you're a good man. Congratulations.
We'll be back to tell you about tomorrow night.
This was some hour. Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: We're out of time. See you tomorrow night. Aaron Brown is next with "NEWSNIGHT" in New York.
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