CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Latest in Scott Peterson Case; Interview With Laura Schlessinger
Aired April 22, 2003 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, conservative radio host Dr. Laura Schlessinger for her first interview since murder was ruled out in her mother's mysterious death.
But first, the latest on the double murder case against Scott Peterson. His mother-in-law would not even say his name at last night's emotionally shattering news conference.
Joining us, Ted Rowlands of KTVU in Modesto. He's covered this case from the get-go. Court TV's Nancy Grace, a former prosecutor, high-profile defense attorney Mark Geragos. In San Francisco, Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom. And in New York, defense attorney Jan Ronis. All next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Let's begin with Ted Rowlands, reporter for KTVU in Modesto. We understand, Ted, that Scott's parents have gone into see him?
TED ROWLANDS, KTVU-TV: Yes. Scott's parents and two sisters just went in a bit ago, about 15 minutes ago. This is their second visit in as many days. This'll be the last visit for him this week. The jail restricts his visitation to just two 30-minute visits per week, so this is it. They are planning to go back to San Diego. They said today that they need to make a living, they need to work for a living, so they're going to visit him now and then head on back to San Diego either tonight or tomorrow morning. They didn't say anything on the way in. We'll see if they'll say anything on the way out.
KING: Any developments today at all, Ted?
ROWLANDS: I'm sorry, Larry. I couldn't hear that.
KING: Any developments today?
ROWLANDS: Oh. Nothing new, just basically -- people -- the realization of it all is starting to set in, not only the timing -- you know, the DA said that this could be two years before this goes to trial. I think that people are starting to realize that -- as the frenzied level was so high up until yesterday, it's starting to dissipate a bit here. And for the Peterson family, they're continuing to stand by Scott. They did make some public comments today, saying that they think somebody else did this and they're going to stand by him 100 percent and they are going to investigate it, using their own funds to do so.
KING: Nancy Grace, what about the stories now that it's not clear that the crime took place in the house?
NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Yes. Right now, everything is speculation regarding where the crime took place. However, I still stand by the fact that police on their official arrest sheet state 523 Covena (ph) is the location of the offense. Now, when you have a murder and the location of the murder is not known, the case can be tried where the body is found. Significantly, jurisdiction was handed back to Modesto. So we know that police think the murder took place there.
KING: Mark, the complaint says that the -- both murders were premeditated. How do they know that?
MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: They don't. But in order to -- what the complaint is, is nothing more than taking the statute and then cutting and pasting into a criminal complaint. In order to get a special circumstance here, with the multiple homicides, they allege premeditated, and if the -- a premeditated, deliberate murder. And that's what they've done here.
As far as what Nancy just said, I -- you know, Nancy, I'm not so sure that they actually know, at this point, where this actually took place and that they have a coherent theory, at this point, as to where this took place. I think that the reason they put it at the house is because they don't have any evidence, obviously, that it took place out at sea, at this point, and that they believe, at least, that there's a series of things that need to be done and that the criminalists have to get through...
GERAGOS: ... regarding the stuff that's been taken from the house. I don't know that they...
GRACE: No way...
GERAGOS: ... think necessarily...
GRACE: ... would Laci Peterson...
GERAGOS: ... it happened at the house.
GRACE: ... get in that boat at eight months pregnant and go out on a windy, cold, rainy day out into that bay! No way did he get there...
GERAGOS: But she...
GRACE: ... get her willingly...
GERAGOS: But she's...
GRACE: ... out on that boat!
GERAGOS: But she surely would have gotten into that truck with her husband, if that's the prosecution's theory, and gone with him somewhere in the truck. Nobody's saying she hopped into the boat.
KING: Kimberly, you're a prosecutor. If they don't know how she was murdered, we're not clear as to where she was murdered, why does this appear to be a slam dunk?
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE NEWSOM, ASST. DISTRICT ATTORNEY, SF: Well, it's interesting that the attorney general made those comments because you never say that, as a prosecutor. I certainly have never said that. And in this case, there still are a lot of gaps that need to be filled. I'm confident that the police department will be able to do that. I think their theory right now, and in order to establish jurisdiction that the case be tried in that area, Modesto, is to say that the murder, or at least the initial part of what happened to her, occurred in that area. And I think that's why they've alleged that.
KING: Jan Ronis, is this a highly defensible case, in your opinion?
JAN RONIS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it's -- Larry, it's hard to tell. If you listen to the rumor and innuendo, it sounds like it, as Bill Lockyer said, is a slam dunk. But none of us know the facts right now. And if the facts are that merely her -- she turned up missing on July -- excuse me -- December the 24th and they found her body a mile from his boat, it isn't a slam dunk. I'm sure that the prosecutors are sorry that the attorney general said it was a slam dunk. But until we know all the facts -- and that's what I'm really concerned about, this rush to judgment. Until we know all the facts, we can't say it's a slam dunk or he's going to be acquitted.
GERAGOS: You know, the interesting thing, though, is I -- Bill was on here, and I believe that what Bill said is that it's a slam dunk in terms of the identification...
GERAGOS: ... of the DNA. I don't think Bill was saying that, I think this is a slam dunk in terms of the evidence. He was saying that this billion-to-one odds that his crime lab developed in that lightning-fast speed of three days...
GRACE: That's right, Mark.
RONIS: Yes, but I hope that...
KING: Nancy, are we -- are we guilty, Nancy, all -- everyone, people talking around the street, everyone, you, Mark, all of us, rushing to judgment?
GRACE: You know what? That is a phrase that is really worn out. If you take a look at rush to judgment, in this case, she went missing December 24...
KING: Hold on, Nancy.
GRACE: ... possibly...
KING: Hold on. We have Scott Peterson's parents leaving, and Ted Rowlands is there.
Ted, what can you tell us?
ROWLANDS: Well, Scott's parents and two sisters just came out of the visitation room here at the jail, and it looks like -- they walked right by us, and they didn't stop at the podium. It looks like they're not going to make any public comments. They're walking with some members of the media. But today they had told us that they were basically done talking to the media for now. They said they wanted to reevaluate their strategy, moving on. So it didn't surprise us that they didn't stop here to address the members of the media.
KING: Thanks, Ted.
All right, Nancy, why is rush to judgment a wrong term?
GRACE: Rush to judgment was actually started by my old co- anchor, Johnnie Cochran, in the O.J. Simpson case. Quite ironic, as it is compared to this case quite often. But remember, police held back since December 24 until just this weekend. They spent months creating a case. I hardly would consider that a rush to judgment!
GERAGOS: Well, interestingly enough, too, I think what you have to consider here is what -- what I said initially, and I think Nancy would agree with me. And I hate the fact, Nancy, we've been agreeing so much lately.
GRACE: Hold on!
GERAGOS: But I think that what you had was a situation where there was sufficient probable cause. I don't think that anybody is going to argue that they had probable cause when the body washes up a couple of miles from where he placed himself. That is a circumstantial case. Whether or not that -- and he's going to -- they will get him past a preliminary hearing. They will get him indicted, if they decide to go by virtue of a grand jury. It is a different situation to say that we are going to convict him beyond a reasonable doubt, which is what you have to do with a jury.
As far as rushing to judgment, Larry, you know, the one thing that is a little disconcerting -- and Nancy, I think, had mentioned it the other day -- is when you start to see that kind of lynch mob hanging out in front of that jail...
GERAGOS: ... that is disconcerting. That...
KING: A headline in the "New York Post," like, "A maniac arrested," or something like...
GERAGOS: Right. And then this idea of encouraging people to hang out there, with -- Murderer. We're going to break in and pull this guy out and hang him from the nearest tree...
KING: Kimberly, does that, in a sense, hurt the prosecution, when even the press convicts?
NEWSOM: Yes, it does. And it sets the bar so high and the level of expectation that this is, quote, unquote, a "slam dunk" case. That's never helpful for the prosecution. And again, they're going to have serious venue difficulties, and there's going to be a big push to change the venue and move it to a different location. And I think that's another issue that the prosecution is going to have to face. It's very tough to then take the case on the road.
KING: Jan, in England, you couldn't do this, am I correct? Under British law, you can't cover a pre-trial.
RONIS: Well, I'm not familiar with British law, Larry. But I will say this -- and I disagree with Nancy. There has been a rush to judgment, at least by commentators and a lot of press, and it's been based upon these unsubstantiated facts and rumors about Mr. Peterson and his involvement with his wife's demise. So there has been a rush to judgment, and I think it's important for everybody to adhere to some of these principles which govern these trials, and that is the presumption of innocence...
GRACE: Those principles apply...
RONIS: ... and let the facts evolve...
GRACE: ... in the courtroom!
RONIS: ... evolve...
GRACE: This is not a courtroom, Jan Ronis!
GRACE: We can think and speak however we choose! As I recall, there's something called the 1st Amendment!
RONIS: I couldn't agree with you more, Nancy. I'm just concerned that people are going to rush to some judgment because they're going to be...
GRACE: Well, unless they're sitting...
RONIS: ... unduly influenced by the press...
GRACE: ... on the jury, who cares!
RONIS: ... and think this guy is guilty before all the facts are in. That's my concern.
KING: All right, let me get a break, and we'll come back. We'll include viewer phone calls, as well. Dr. Laura Schlessinger still to come. This is LARRY KING LIVE. And tomorrow night, the Central Park jogger will be with us. Don't go away. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE PETERSON, SCOTT PETERSON'S FATHER: You can't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) properly because he's locked up in this place here, you know? They made a rush to judgment because of all the media pressure, I believe, and politics. And he's in there. He should not be. And we're going to find out who did it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEE PETERSON: If you knew my son, if you knew his background and what a wonderful boy he is and has been all through his life -- he's never had -- he's -- you know, I mean, the kid is -- he's a perfect kid all of the way through, and he's not capable...
JACKIE PETERSON, SCOTT PETERSON'S MOTHER: That was the Rochas' statement...
LEE PETERSON: ... of anything like this.
JACKIE PETERSON: ... four months ago, as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's include some phone calls on this puzzling matter. Arlington, Virginia. Hello.
CALLER: Hi. Can you hear me?
CALLER: I have a question about evidence.
CALLER: My first question is, are Scott Peterson's parents aware of the evidence involved in the case? And when will the public be aware of the evidence that's involved in the case?
KING: When do we get to see the evidence, Mark?
GERAGOS: Scott Peterson's parents are going to only see it once the evidence is turned over to Scott Peterson, and if he decides to, or his lawyer, then he can show it to his parents.
KING: When does he get the evidence?
GERAGOS: Well, they picked up yesterday the initial packet of discovery at the arraignment. At some point very quickly, they'll produce what's called a murder book, which is a compilation of all of the discovery in the case.
KING: Nancy, in other words, the defense must be given every information the prosecution has?
GRACE: Well, there are certain guidelines for what the state must hand over to the defense. And in many states, there is what is called reciprocal discovery, where the defense has to comply, to a certain extent. But one thing to keep in mind -- I agree with Mark in that I don't think the Petersons know the evidence right now. However, her parents may know some of the evidence because during the investigation, the police are probably keeping them somewhat abreast. So at this point, they probably know more evidence than Scott Peterson's parents do.
KING: Kimberly, would you agree?
NEWSOM: Yes. Yes, I would. And California does have a reciprocal discovery statute, and we should be getting -- the public, as well -- the information. Should some of it be leaking out, I guess, before the preliminary hearing. And there is a pre-trial conference scheduled for the 19th of May, where I think more information will come out at that time.
GERAGOS: And the other situation is, is May 6th, you've got a bail hearing. The prosecution can preview their evidence at the bail hearing, and then the defense will try and show stuff that undercuts it.
GRACE: That's right.
KING: Jan, the defendant is entitled to a quick trial, is that not correct? Do you think they would ask for one?
RONIS: Oh, I doubt it. If you recall from the Westerfield case, he is entitled to a preliminary examination within 10 days, and he's entitled to a trial within 60 days of that preliminary examination. So 70 days would be an extraordinarily short period of time within which to go to trial...
GRACE: But you know what could happen...
RONIS: ... on a case this complex, although we did see it in the Westerfield case. So hold on. We don't know.
GRACE: You know what could happen, though? We're talking about when will the public find out the information and when will the families find out. If the defense moves for a change of venue based on media coverage, they could ask for all the witnesses to be gagged under a gag order and for documents to be sealed. That could very well happen if there is a change of venue request.
RONIS: And I hope it happens even if there isn't a change of venue request.
GERAGOS: Yes, the court of appeal is unlikely, at this point, to seal anything. The court of appeal -- during Winona's case, I think my judge was reversed five times by facts during that case, for trying to seal anything. They don't look too highly upon...
GRACE: I don't recall that was...
GERAGOS: ... any sealing orders.
GRACE: ... a death penalty case, though!
GERAGOS: Well, they're not going to make any great distinctions, though. In the Westerfield case, the court of appeals reversed the trial judge, as well.
RONIS: That's right.
KING: San Jose, California. Hello.
CALLER: Yes. I'm curious about the girlfriend. Does anyone -- has anyone questioned her or looked into -- I know she made a statement on TV and everything, but I was just wondering if the girlfriend might be involved in this somehow.
KING: Kimberly, what part does she play in this get-together?
NEWSOM: I think it's really interesting. They need to question her thoroughly. And again, we're not privy to that information at this time, but it's something I keep thinking about. What caused this to happen? Was there any warning signs in the past, prior relationships either with this woman that he had an extramarital affair with, or previous girlfriends dating back, high school, college? All those people should be questioned, see if there's any kind of history of domestic violence, if he has any kind of anger management issues, et cetera, that would explain some of the conduct of what happened or transpired in this case. I think it's very important.
GRACE: Well, police commented on that. As a matter of fact, when Amber Frey had her press conference, the police at that time stated they had interviewed her extensively, had ruled her out. And from what we can tell, she has been actually cooperating with police and revealing phone conversations as recent as two weeks before.
RONIS: Yes, Larry, that's a very good question from that woman. However, at least it shows there's a woman with -- there's a person with an open mind to consider that maybe somebody other than Scott Peterson is responsible for this homicide. And that's the kind of open mind people have to have in this matter.
KING: Mark, to prove...
NEWSOM: Larry, all the...
KING: ... to prove -- hold it. Mark, to prove premeditation, do you have to show motive?
GERAGOS: No. You do not.
KING: No -- you can premeditate a murder without having a motive to commit it?
GERAGOS: Believe it or not, you -- the way the law is written in California, you can have a premeditated murder. You have to show the premeditation, but you do not have to show motive.
KING: I planned the murder, but I didn't have any reason to do it.
GERAGOS: They can give -- beyond a reasonable doubt, you do not have to show motive.
KING: Ted Rowlands wanted to chime in. Ted?
ROWLANDS: Yes. And as far as Amber Frey is concerned, the police say completely that they've investigated her. They don't believe she had anything to do with it. But the interesting thing about -- you talk to people that know Scott Peterson -- this is the only chink in the armor, the only example that anyone can come up with that this guy hasn't been just the perfect person. In fact, Lee Peterson yesterday said, My boy is perfect. He's the perfect son. And everybody who knows him and knows him well will tell you that this is it. This is the only thing you can really put your finger on that Scott Peterson has ever done wrong. So that has been the reason that the family has standed by him throughout this whole thing.
KING: Nancy, doesn't that impress you, that no one can find anything in his background other than he's a nice guy?
GRACE: Yes, it does impress me. And Larry, believe you me, I've taken many a murder case to a jury where the defendant had an impeccable background. And let me add to his good reputation. According to many sources, not only is he perfect, he's clairvoyant because, apparently, he told Amber Frey before Laci went missing that not only was he single, he was, in fact, a widower, that his wife had died. So he can add that onto his resume!
KING: Thank you, Nancy, for that further affirmation of your faith of Scott Peterson.
KING: We'll take a break and be back with more phone calls. Don't go away.
KING: We're back. Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry.
CALLER: I have a question for your panel.
KING: Sure. CALLER: Last evening, we were discussing them catching Scott, before they picked him up with the $10,000, the fake IDs, and the Petersons' rebuttal for why he had this. What does the panel tonight feel about this? Is this something that was legitimate, him walking around with his brother's ID because of going golfing, afraid that media would know he was there? And is the green fees in California $10,000 now?
KING: Kimberly, you know California.
NEWSOM: Yes. Absolutely. No, that's outrageous. And I think the family's just in denial. And I know this is difficult for them. So with all due respect, I think they need to kind of get a grip on the situation. I think that he again looks guilty because he has his hair and goatee. He altered his appearance. His identity, his brother's ID, the $10,000 in cash -- I think it's all very suspicious, and again, in keeping with his behavior during this whole time that his wife...
GERAGOS: The problem is, is that -- yes, I'm with Jan. I'm telling you, number one, he's got an explanation. Number two, he doesn't need one because it's never going to come into the courtroom. Never are they going to put in -- no judge is going to allow in evidence that this guy had $10,000 on him when he's arrested four months later...
GRACE: I disagree!
GERAGOS: ... and that he changed his...
GRACE: I disagree, Mark!
KING: It's just under California law, it's not going to happen.
GRACE: The circumstances of arrest! The jury will know!
GERAGOS: It's not going to come in. It's not going to come in...
GRACE: And another thing -- last night, Mark Geragos...
GERAGOS: You have to get...
KING: Hold it! Hold it. Nancy, go ahead. One at a time.
GRACE: ... from a swimming pool!
GERAGOS: Well, if this...
GRACE: Mark Geragos, last night, you tried to tell... GERAGOS: It does not matter, Nancy.
GRACE: ... the viewers he went swimming and he dyed his hair blond. Are you sticking by that, too?
GERAGOS: It's got to -- it does not matter...
GRACE: They found the hairdresser, Mark!
GERAGOS: ... because that is not going to come in...
KING: One at a time!
GERAGOS: ... because it has nothing to do with a consciousness of guilt...
GRACE: Other than another lie!
GERAGOS: ... or flight. Well, you just can't put on every lie that somebody's ever told in their life. You can't go back to third grade and say this guy lied when he went out for recess!
GRACE: This was just this weekend, Mark!
GERAGOS: This does not have anything to do with the offense itself. There are other things that you could claim that he lied about that may come in, but the fact that he had $10,000 cash on him and did not try to flee when they tried to arrest him is not coming in.
GRACE: No, he went up to police and said, Why don't you arrest me? He was taunting them!
GERAGOS: No, he was waving at them.
RONIS: Yes, this hair color's really a bogus issue. This hair color is really a red herring. The identity of Scott Peterson isn't even an issue in this case. It's not like somebody said they saw somebody with dark hair shoving a woman in the trunk of a vehicle, and he goes out and dyes his hair blond so they won't know who he is. So that -- that's got nothing to with this case. And the fact that he had $10,000 -- look, nobody can go on the lam with $10,000. It takes a lot of resources to go on the lam successfully for a long time, and you sure can't do it with $10,000...
KING: Cleveland, Ohio. Hello.
RONIS: ... not when you're as identifiable as he was.
KING: Cleveland, Ohio. Hello.
CALLER: Yes, my question is, do you feel that they have enough evidence, or is this going to be like an O.J., JonBenet type of situation?
KING: Well, they wouldn't have done it without evidence. GERAGOS: The difference between this and JonBenet, obviously, is that they have enough and feel they have enough to get past the probable cause proceeding. They did not indict in the grand jury -- or the grand jury did not indict in the JonBenet. O.J. I think is -- I've said from day one about that case, that had -- it was a completely different situation. For people to take O.J. and set that up as some kind of template for what happens in the criminal justice system does a disservice to the criminal justice system.
This is not a gentleman with a constituency. This is not a gentleman who has a lot of people rooting for him, so to speak. In fact, it's just the opposite. He has kind of the same animosity towards him as David Westerfield did, and there was nobody rooting for him in that jury room.
KING: Cincinnati. Hello.
CALLER: Yes. Hi, Larry. I love your show.
KING: Thank you.
CALLER: My question is, have the authorities rule out any kind of poison that could have been used on this young lady. And the fact that the body was in the water, like it was, would that be hard for them to determine.
KING: Is that something, Kimberly, we don't know enough about yet?
NEWSOM: Right. That's information that would be in the coroner's report. They always have a toxicology page where they would list any substances that were found within the body. And I haven't seen a copy of that. But there's a lot of information in the report that will be very interesting to determine and see if they can tie it in to the cause and manner of death.
GRACE: Well, there's not really a body left. There's really no stomach to examine, no skin, no dental records. The head was not available to compare dental records. So I think it's going to be tough to get a toxicology report.
KING: Ted Rowlands, there's still a lot of interest around the jail and everything today?
ROWLANDS: Yes. The interest dropped a little bit, nothing like the scene Friday night, with people crowding around the jail. But there were some folks out here today, and a lot of media folks are still in town watching everything and trying to pick up little tidbits. We got some video, actually, this morning of Scott exercising up on top of the roof of the jail. He was by himself. They gave him an hour-and-a-half to walk around. They kept him shackled. And that's one of two opportunities he'll have per week. But you know, nothing close to what it was Friday night. I think people, as I said earlier, are really starting to realize that this is going to be a long haul for the court proceedings to continue.
KING: And Mark, if he didn't do it...
KING: ... the public defenders aren't going to go out looking for -- investigating for other people, as they would with a major criminal defense lawyer.
GERAGOS: Well, I don't know about that. The public defenders office has the resources generally, although we're in a financial crunch in this state that's unbelievable. But somebody will go out and investigate this case. Absolutely.
KING: Nancy, you wanted to add something?
GRACE: I thank was Kim.
KING: Oh, I'm sorry. Kim?
NEWSOM: Absolutely. Larry, thanks. Actually, there's been news coverage quite significant today about Evelyn Hernandez (ph), a young woman, 24 years old, that was missing that was also pregnant about eight or nine months, and her body washed up in the bay, also headless. So there's been some discussion, is there a serial kill on the loose, et cetera? And it falls in with what his family's trying to do, create reasonable doubt that someone else is perhaps responsible for this crime.
GRACE: The kicker with Hernandez is that no only was she pregnant and found in the bay area, but what makes it startlingly different is her 5-year-old son was drowned along with her. An entire family was wiped out in the Hernandez case. And if they are looking for a serial kill to pin this on, I don't think one other case that is somewhat different, in the fact that a whole family was wiped out -- I don't think that's going to help the defense.
KING: OK. We're out of time. We have more coming. Don't forget to stay with us. Ted Rowlands, Nancy Grace, Mark Geragos, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom and Jan Ronis, we thank you very much.
We'll take a break and be back with Dr. Laura Schlessinger on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: It's now a great pleasure, a return visit for Dr. Laura Schlessinger, top-rated radio talk show host, author of a new children's book called "Where's God?" There you see its cover with a terrific illustration, author of many "New York Times" best-selling books for adults, founder of the Dr. Laura Schlessinger Foundation.
Good news in the fact that we thought previously that her mother, who had died after being alone for four months, may have been murded. Turned out not murdered. We'll talk about that. We'll also talk about the book.
But first, since everybody's talking about the Scott Peterson case, what's your read on this?
DR. LAURA SCHLESSINGER, AUTHOR, "WHERE'S GOD?": I -- when we had the Hillside Strangler situation years ago I remember watching a television show way after the convictions and this woman psychiatrist, they were asking her questions, What do you think about the mind of somebody who does something like this? I mean, you're a psychiatrist. You should know these things. And I remember that moment vividly and I've never forgotten it. And she said there's no diagnoses for evil. And this was evil.
KING: The act was evil. But we don't if he...
SCHLESSINGER: The mind -- the people who do heinous things like that. Psychology doesn't like to talk about evil. It likes to talk about bad childhoods. But I very much believe that some people are evil and motivation is not necessary for evil.
KING: Can nice people -- apparently not. Let's say, in this matter -- we don't want to conjecture. Can nice people do evil things?
SCHLESSINGER: No. Not of this magnitude.
KING: So you have to have been evil?
SCHLESSINGER: Yes, but some people are wonderful at camouflaging it.
KING: Yes. How do you explain that? I guess you get calls from wives about husbands -- talk about husbands.
SCHLESSINGER: I haven't had too many people, thank God...
KING: Not killers, but...
SCHLESSINGER: ...talking about evil.
KING: But there are people who camouflage what they are, right?
SCHLESSINGER: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. This is just so horrendous. I mean this, woman by all accounts was just a sweet adorable lady and happy to finally have her baby and I can't imagine anything more horrendous for her parents and family. It's off the charts. Having been through, you know, your mother murdered, I understand a lot of the feelings and my heart really goes out to these people.
KING: Have you dealt with families who have had murders in the family?
SCHLESSINGER: Yes. When I was in private practice, I remember the first time it happened a woman came to my office and her 21-year- old son was out with some buddies and had a date with his girlfriend and it was just a nice boy and stopped off at a gas station to use the phone to call his mother to say I'm going to be home in a half an hour, not to worry because he's a nice kid and somebody just blew him away and took his wallet then right there and then while he was on the phone.
That was my first experience with that. And I was very young and I hadn't been married or had kids or any of this and looking into this woman's face I realize there are certain things from which you don't really heal.
KING: And that would be one.
SCHLESSINGER: Losing a child is probably the singular most horrible thing. It's against the order of things and ultimately we feel that the epitome of compassion and caretaking and responsibility.
KING: Tell me how they clarified things about your mom. The last time you were here was January 16 and it was the first place you discussed it.
KING: And they were thinking it was murder. Now what do they tell you?
SCHLESSINGER: Well, I spoke to the police officer in charge just yesterday actually and he said their final conclusion is that it was -- quote -- natural causes. That it was some kind of -- I mean, it's conjecture, but they believe they followed the tests and everything they've done that it was some cerebral -- cerebral event. Cardiovascular event, cerebral event, some cataclysmic event.
KING: No pain? Do they think?
SCHLESSINGER: That, they couldn't tell me. But the police officer said they didn't believe that she died immediately, but they believe that she wasn't with her faculties for whatever small period of time she was alive because she didn't pick up the phone or anything.
KING: Is it any relief to you to know that it was not a harmful death?
SCHLESSINGER: Oh, yes, because the image I kept flashing into my head was, you know, that threat and that terror and the fear and the pleading and the ugly stuff that I'm sure Laci's parents are going through imagining and it's just horrendous.
It was somewhat of a relief. I mean, it's sad altogether, but it was a relief that at least it was -- quote -- natural.
KING: Do you know why they thought it was murder?
SCHLESSINGER: Well, evidently there were some -- some blood traces about and they did DNA to see if that was hers or somebody else's and finally what they came down to -- because, you know, it was four months before the body was retrieved so they thought there was an abrasion on her arm. And -- and just the way things were. It it gave them pause. But they put all of the information together in a different way and that made sense, too. KING: NOw before we talk about psychological things and helping people, tell me about "Where's God?"
SCHLESSINGER: Well, this is the fourth of my series with Sammy and his family and it occurred to me, I get so many calls from parents with the war, with things happening in families, with divorces, with this, with that, kids are -- are kind of confused about a relationship with God and what that can give them and what it means.
KING: What does God mean to them?
And so I try to be helpful in these books to give parents a way to introduce a subject. And little Sammy's mom is in the hospital for some knee surgery and he wants her back home. Meanwhile, he's at the grandparents' farm and he wants her back home and he's figured he's asked God for things before and he hasn't quite gotten them when and where he wanted them and so he figured he must not -- it's like a phone call. I can't talk to you unless I know the number.
So he figured he must not know where God is and he goes and asks everybody where is God and everybody has a different perception and then he deals with this issue of getting your wishes granted as opposed to prayer with his grandfather who tries to separate out the two and you know, like, explains to him that God is not your fairy godmother so to speak.
KING: We know you're a religious practicing Jew. Where, to you, is God? Is there a heaven? Is he in a place? Is he a he?
SCHLESSINGER: You know, I just -- I personally don't have clarity on that. In terms of personifying it as a Charlton Heston moment, it's just very clearly in the beginning of the Commandments we're not supposed to sort of quantify it.
You know, all of the force of the universe that is creative, loving and compassionate encompasses. It's not -- God's not a thing. And Sammy's father tries to help him understand that it's a team effort. That God gives us that still small voice that tells us right from wrong and expects our own actions because we have free will and we cooperate and do good and create goodness. So Sammy's grandpa helps him sort of pull all those things together and it's really sweet at the end.
KING: The book is "Where's God?" with terrific illustrations.
We'll come back, we'll include phone calls for Dr. Laura Schlessinger.
Don't go away.
KING: We're back with Dr. Laura. We'll be including your phone calls just a moment. Does war bring out phone calls?
Does war have an effect on people's lives?
SCHLESSINGER: Yes. Sure. I got a lot of calls from families of people deployed, from people who are being deployed. I had one great one where a SEAL. And a Navy SEAL went out, and we talked about how to discuss with his child, his daughter what he was going to do because he didn't quite know how to frame it. And I said tell her that you're going out to protect her and mommy and all her friends and the country. And that you're coming back and you do things that are very positive and reassuring. A lot of wives husbands of people deployed trying to reframe their own fears to talk about heroism and the special specialness of the people who make the sacrifice and the commitment to do that for us. It really brings out the best in people. Fears and worry, but the best.
KING: Is it -- is one the hardest thing that you have to deal with loss?
KING: Helping people.
SCHLESSINGER: Not just loss like I just lost someone or I just lost a relationship, but probably the loss of having healthy pieces of themselves because of a childhood that was way out of whack for a normal and loving -- the loss of some hope. The loss of belief that there can be happiness. That's probably the deepest pain that people have. The loss of hope that comes from abuse or just chaos when they were growing up.
KING: And since depression is the number one (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in America, doesn't automatically loss come with that disease. Don't you feel lost
SCHLESSINGER: Some people go through anxiety, anxiety and/or depression, it can bounce around. Some people appear resilient unless there's a circumstance that stresses them out too much. I'm impressed by the resiliency of people, though. They may have trouble with relationships or something, but ultimately most people seem to know how to survive. There is that instinct of wanting something better. Sometimes it gets hard. Sometimes it's confusing, but I've been impressed. And the thing that keeps me positive is how ultimately resilient people are. Sometimes they just need a nudge in one way or another to get centered to go forward again.
KING: Can you explain how a phone call to a doctor can help?
SCHLESSINGER: Reframes. People can reframe the problem.
You know, somebody's not talking to me, and then they invited me to their wedding. And they haven't been talking to me for a long time, and I'm giving you just -- not the heaviest example, and I'll say, well, after all of that garbage that went on, they opened the door don't you want to walk through it? They hadn't looked at that time that way. They were only looking at that time from we hadn't talked before, and we weren't looking at the opportunity today, and that's the negativity some people can get stuck in. So when you reframe it, it's like a light bulb goes off.
KING: Does a fast-moving world, technology add to our problems?
They're supposed to take them away, but they add to them. Those cell phones add to problems.
SCHLESSINGER: Cell phone in one in one hand, one of those little pager things in the other hand, one of those little things you can e- mail with, and less personal interaction. I think it was much better when you got in your horse and rode two miles to talk to your neighbor.
KING: It probably was.
Let's include some calls.
Crumpler, North Carolina, for Dr. Laura, hello.
Are you there?
KING: Go ahead, ma'am.
CALLER: Dr. Laura, in your opinion Mr. Peterson says he's innocent why then will he not take a lie detector test.
SCHLESSINGER: Ma'am, I'm sorry this is not anything I -- I could only speculate and that's not useful.
KING: Calhoun, Georgia, hello.
CALLER: Yes, sir. How are you today?
CALLER: I've got a question for Dr. Laura.
You mentioned that some people go into hiding as in they kind of like camouflage themselves.
Is this -- is this hold true to most homicide cases or, you know et cetera?
SCHLESSINGER: This is not my area of expertise. I really can't speak to that, I'm so sorry.
KING: But people do hide under different scopes.
SCHLESSINGER: Well, yes, people find out, you know, they're having 17 affairs and doing drugs on the side and stealing money from the company and -- sometimes people are blinded, because they don't want to know these things are happening, because they don't have to have to face all that would come from acknowledging the truth.
KING: Seminole, Florida, hello.
CALLER: Hi. Dr. Laura, what would you say to Scott Peterson's parents tonight?
KING: Good question.
SCHLESSINGER: I would hug them. I learned long ago that words are not the only way to communicate. Sometimes just the physical contact of putting yourself that close to somebody in pain, which is difficult for a lot of people to do, says an awful lot. I remember when I was in graduate school, I was trying to help this woman who was just having trouble with these boyfriends and I was giving her brilliant advice. You know, do this, do that and don't do that. And she kept recycling these guys. So one day she came in and I had no clue as to what to say anymore. I realized I wasn't being very effective and I hugged her and let her cry on my shoulder and she came back the next day and said you really helped me yesterday. That was the best thing you could have said, and I going said. So sometimes people need the relief of someone caring enough to hold them.
KING: Great answer. Atlanta, Georgia.
CALLER: Hi, Dr. Laura, I was calling to ask you a question about a relationship I have with my mother. I lost my father five years ago to ALS and ever since my father has passed, my mother has spiralled and really never rebounded from that. And I feel guilty for a long time because she lost her parents, her best friend, my father and now her relationship is -- our relationship is starting to affect my life and my two young children and my marriage. And I'm feeling a lot of guilt about what to do with her because I do love her, but it's very hard to be with her and it's hard to have a healthy example for my family.
SCHLESSINGER: Two things that occur to me. One with all that she's gone through and perhaps her age, there is a depression that sometimes changes everything. And with all of that loss I would imagine like you said, Larry, a moment ago, there's a tremendous amount of depression. And unfortunately a lot of people do not get the kind of psychiatric assessment and assistance they need. If she had medical treatment with psychotropic medication and some counseling, she would probably be better. That said, you understand this is a woman in pain. She doesn't mean to be difficult. Her life is a terror and it's over for her. And if it causes you grief, too bad. It's your obligation. You caused her a lot of grief when you were growing up. Get a grip.
KING: Don't hold back. Dr. Laura, Schlessinger. We'll be back with some more moments.
Her new book, children's book, "Harper Collins," the publisher. Where's God. Don't go away.
KING: With Dr. Laura, Gray Eagle, California. Hello?
CALLER: Hello, good evening.
CALLER: Good evening, Dr. Laura. I would like to ask you a rather sensitive and personal question, if I may. I read somewhere some time that you and your mother had not on speaking terms for quite a few years. Can you tell me if you ever made peace with her?
SCHLESSINGER: Didn't have the opportunity. My mother, isolated herself from all family and friends for some 20 years. And never met her grandchild, my son. Was never there for the tragedies and joys. And that was a choice she made. I never had the opportunity. But I'm darn well making sure my son will never have the same story.
KING: Huntsville, Alabama. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, I have a question for Dr. Laura.
CALLER: I lost my son last year to leukemia. And my grandchild now has a terminal illness and my daughter-in-law will not let me see the grandchildren. How do you deal with this?
KING: Why won't she let you see them?
CALLER: She says they don't want to see us anymore.
SCHLESSINGER: I -- you know, basically this is the answer. You know what the problem is between you and your daughter-in-law. Eat dirt and fix it so that you can have access to your grandchild. I tell people this all of the time on my show, whether you're right or wrong, eat dirt, fix it so you can have access...
KING: Do anything she wants.
SCHLESSINGER: Whatever it takes. If she's annoying, if she's demanding, tolerate it because that's the price of admission to the grandchildren.
KING: Cincinnati, hello?
CALLER: Hi, thank you, Larry.
Dr. Laura, I have a 12-year-old stepson who started living with us five years ago, was removed from the mother's home because of neglect. She was also an alcoholic. Since then I worked really hard with him to help him get academically up to speed, et cetera, and took him to counseling, et cetera. Since then I've had two daughters. They are now three and one. He has behaved increasingly aggressively since the time he moved in, actually started living with my husband and I to the point where he's been aggressive with the girls. He's actually knocked me down. He's getting increasingly violent.
And my question is I have the summer coming up. He's going to be home, I'm going to be home with these two girls and him. I can't see...
SCHLESSINGER: What is your question for me?
CALLER: I don't know how to handle -- not -- supervision.
SCHLESSINGER: Let me answer you. This boy should not be in the house. Whatever his placement is and whatever treatment he gets he cannot be in the house. Anybody who is dangerous cannot be in the house, and there's hardly anything more dangerous on the face of the earth than a young, angry male. Sorry, because they're strong.
So if he has been threatening and he has knocked you down he is threatening the children, you get him out of the house today. It's not a matter of supervision, you get him out of the house. And whatever treatment and placement you have you do that. Because your first obligation is to protect these two children and you, their mother.
KING: We have a minute left. Quickly, Lowell, Massachusetts. Hello?
CALLER: Hi. My question is this. Laura, given the relationship between you and your mother or lack of, I'm kind of in the same situation at 24-years-old trying to figure out where me and my mother are. I just want to know would you have done anything different?
KING: Good question.
KING: No. You tried?
SCHLESSINGER: No. It was nothing in my control. So, no. Maybe if I had understood the bigger picture when I was younger, I would have just suffered less, would have done something about that part. So the only thing I would have done differently was to aid myself better so I would have less impact on me.
KING: Would you call yourself an optimist?
KING: You're not, are you? SCHLESSINGER: I married one of those. It's good balance.
KING: My late friend Edward (UNINTELLIGIBLE) said I'm a pessimist because I'm intelligent.
KING: Thanks, Dr. Laura.
SCHLESSINGER: Thank you.
KING: It's always good to see you. Dr. Laura Schlessinger, the new book is "Where's God?" The publisher is Harper and Collins.
We'll take a break and when we come back, we'll tell you about tomorrow night and what's coming up Friday night as well. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night, Trisha Meili joins us. You know her better by the moniker the Central Park Jogger. A fascinating story. Trisha Meili, the Central Park Jogger tomorrow night.
And by the way, more on the Scott Peterson case Thursday night and Friday night my last interview with the late Dr. Robert Atkins.
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