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Malvo Found Guilty on all Counts; Michael Jackons is Formally Charged

Aired December 18, 2003 - 19:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST (voice-over): A verdict in the trial of alleged sniper Lee Boyd Malvo.

Michael Jackson: the charges are filed. Why did it take so long?

Saddam Hussein's daughter speaks out on her father's capture and trial.

Our special pre-holiday special, "Miracles." Tonight, are these apparitions of the Virgin Mary?

And what's the frequency (UNINTELLIGIBLE)? Michael Stipe takes 360 for a spin.


ANNOUNCER: Live from the CNN Broadcast Center in New York, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360.

COOPER: Good evening. Welcome to 360.

We're going to have the latest on the charges against Michael Jackson in a moment. But we begin with our top story in Virginia.

Lee Boyd Malvo guilty on all three counts related to a fatal shooting in October 2002. Jeanne Meserve has the latest now from Chesapeake, Virginia.


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Lee Malvo's own confessions to investigators, crime scene photographs, testimony from victims and family members, and mountains of evidence, including a murder weapon with Lee Malvo's DNA and fingerprints on it, overwhelmed the defense contention that Malvo was insane at the time of the shootings.

The verdict was unanimous: guilty of capital murder in the commission of an act of terrorism, guilty of capital murder for the killing of two people in a three-year period, guilty of using a firearm in the commission of a felony.

ABBE SMITH, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER: The evidence was overwhelming, the crime horrific, the defense novel, and the jurors death qualified. Those things altogether spell a guilty verdict.

MESERVE: Lee Malvo, who in court has sometimes laughed and doodled, seemingly oblivious to the gravity of the events unfolding around him, was attentive when the verdict was read. He sat erect, staring straight ahead, betraying no emotion. The families of victims smiles, clasped hands, showed relief.

BOB MEYERS, VICTIM'S BROTHER: We are extremely pleased with the verdict. We believe that justice has been served.

MESERVE: The verdict took more than 13 hours of deliberations, and some members of the jury appeared to be upset. But their work is not done. The sentencing phase of the trial commences immediately. The defense will underline that Malvo was a juvenile when the crimeses were committed and argue for a penalty of life in prison without parole.


COOPER: Jeanne Meserve joins us now.

Jeanne, what's the prosecution's argument going to be in the sentencing phase now?

MESERVE: Prosecutors are expected to argue that these crimes were so despicable and the risk of future violence from Malvo is so great that he deserves the death penalty -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Jeanne Meserve, live in Chesapeake, Virginia. Thanks very much, Jeanne.

Another major court case, another alleged crime. The American citizen accused of planning a dirty bomb attack on U.S. soil must be released from military custody. That is the ruling of a federal appeals court which says President Bush doesn't have the power to detain Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant.

Let's go to Deborah Feyerick for details.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The appeals court ruling finds President Bush overstepped his authority by holding American citizen Jose Padilla as an enemy combatant in a military prison without formally charging him with any crime and without giving him access to a lawyer. In the two to one decision, the justices found the president does not have the constitutional power to detain as an enemy combatant an American citizen seized on American soil outside a zone of combat. Only Congress can authorize that.

ANDREW PATEL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What the court did say is wherever Mr. Padilla is held next in civilian custody, is that he has the rights that all American citizens are guaranteed under the Constitution.

FEYERICK: Eighteen months ago, Brooklyn-born Padilla was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, returning from Pakistan.

JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We have disrupted an unfolding terrorist plot.

FEYERICK: The attorney general accused him of trying to build and detonate a radioactive dirty bomb in the U.S. While Padilla waited in jail, he was moved to a military brig. The White House and Pentagon argued the president should be able to detain enemy combatants anywhere to wage the war on terrorism.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We believe the 2nd Circuit ruling is troubling and flawed. The president has directed the Justice Department to seek a stay and further judicial review.

FEYERICK: Under the ruling, Padilla must be released from military prison within 30 days.


FEYERICK: The ruling has nothing to with Padilla's guilt or innocence. The government's choices now, they can transfer him to a civilian court and charge him criminally, they can hold him as a material witness, possibly to help with future grand jury investigations. They can appeal, they can also they can let him go, something they are not likely to do.

Another blow to the Bush administration today, a different court of appeals ruled concerning enemy combatants captured in Afghanistan being held in Guantanamo. The court saying that they cannot be held indefinitely without access to a lawyer -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Dramatic developments. Thanks very much, Deborah.

Well, a quick news note for you. Since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government has designated two other people besides Padilla enemy combatant. Ali Sali Al-Marri (ph), a Katari man studying in the United States, was arrested late in 2001. He's accused of being an al Qaeda sleeper agent. He was moved into military custody last June.

And Yasser Hamdi -- there he is -- a U.S. citizen captured fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Hamdi has been held by the military for nearly two years without being charge. Just this month he was granted access to a lawyer.

We move now to today's other major legal story, the Michael Jackson case. Just hours ago Jackson was formally charged nine counts, seven for child molestation. The boy he's accused of molesting we learned today is expected to take the stand at trial.

Frank Buckley has the latest from Santa Maria, California.


FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An employee of the district attorney's office walked the criminal complaint into the clerk's office as cameras captured every step of the process. The three-page filing alleges that Jackson sexually abused a child under the age of 14 during two overlapping periods between February 7 and March 10 of this year, and February 20 and March 10. There are nine counts in all.

TOM SNEDDON, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Seven counts of 288-a, in violation of the California penal code commonly known as child molestation, and two counts in violation of penal cold Section 222 that involves administering an intoxicating liquor to a child for the purpose of committing a felony.

BUCKLEY: Jackson was not required to and did not appear for the filing. But his attorney appeared before cameras in Los Angeles to say Jackson would fight the charges with, "every fiber of his soul."

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And what we have here is an intersection between a shakedown. Somebody who is looking for money, with somebody in the investigation that's got an axe to grind.

BUCKLEY: Mark Geragos apparently referring to D.A. Tom Sneddon, who investigated Jackson on similar accusations in 1993. He did not bring charges then because the alleged victim ultimately reached a financial settlement with Jackson and refused to testify.


BUCKLEY: Tom Sneddon denies any vendetta. He also denied a theory that's been put forward by some critics who suggested that the pause between the arrest of Michael Jackson on November 20 and the filing of charges today on December 18 was somehow a pause during which the prosecution could put together a stronger case because it had a weak case.

Tom Sneddon categorically denied that. He said the reason for the pause was so that the prosecution and the courts could put together a Web site to get out some of the materials in this case.

Meanwhile, Mark Geragos, you've heard, says that the charges are untrue. He says that the prosecution will not prevail. Both sides will be in court on January 16. That's a new arraignment date and part of an agreement that was reached between both sides that will also allow Michael Jackson to leave the country for a period from December 20 through January 6 to go to Great Britain to fulfill some contractual obligations. He must return by January 6 -- Anderson.

COOPER: Frank, in the past, Sneddon had said that once these charge were filed everything would be clear. I believe that's almost a direct quote from him. I read the charges. I'm sure you have as well. It doesn't really make it much clearer at all.

BUCKLEY: It doesn't make clear exactly what the narrative, if you will, of the crimes, the alleged crimes is. But what is clearer is there is one alleged victim. We now have the timeframe of the alleged crimes. So some aspects are clear, but exactly what happened, where it happened, and on what days and under what circumstances, those things are not clear. And I suspect they won't be clear until possibly sometime after the arraignment, maybe not until the preliminary hearing.

COOPER: All right. Frank Buckley. Thanks very much for that report, Frank.

A lot of questions still tonight. And, in fact, we're going to talk more about that, more about the Jackson case coming up later, when Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom and 360 legal analyst, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, join us a little later on for "Justice Served."

Moving on tonight, more U.S. troops may soon be going to Iraq. U.S. Army sources tell CNN as many as 3,500 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg could be deployed in January. Another 3,500 troops already in Iraq could stay an extra 60 days. Now, the Pentagon says it is to make up for a gap in the number of forces needed because some National Guard units aren't ready to go.

Meanwhile, in Iraq today, a new picture of Saddam Hussein is front-page news. Though in this case, the picture does not tell the whole story. Bill Hemmer joins us live from Baghdad with that.

Good evening, Bill.

BILL HEMMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, good evening from Baghdad. Here's the photo. It came in the form of a newspaper, a picture earlier today.

Saddam Hussein sitting with Ahmad Chalabi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council. Saddam Hussein, though, can be clearly seen in the sandals at the bottom and traditional Arab robe. It also looks like he had a haircut as well recently.

A lot of people in Baghdad, though, making a big deal of Chalabi in this case, because this newspaper is actually run by his political party, the INC. He also went to visit Saddam Hussein that day with three other members of the Iraqi Governing Council. All three of them have been cropped from the picture, leading some to suggest this is only a political move.

Nonetheless, it hasn't hurt sales. A very difficult paper to locate tonight here in Baghdad.

These two men have a long history together. Many suggesting that Chalabi was long a target of assassination on behalf of the former Iraqi leader.

Now to the battlefield, specifically the town of Samarra. Deep in the heart of the Sunni Triangle, the Sunni Belt, 60 miles north of Baghdad, Operation Ivy Blizzard continued yet again on Thursday. The Army is telling us that 16 different raids have been conducted this week, carried out by the fourth I.D., the 4th Infantry Division.

They say 86 insurgents so far have been captured. And they insist that those raids may continue yet again on Friday and possibly into the weekend.

The Army insisting it still has a "lot of work to be done in Samarra," and saying they'll continue to "kill or capture those working against the Iraqi people." Operation Ivy Blizzard not done just yet -- Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Bill Hemmer live in Baghdad. Thanks very much, Bill.

Saddam's eldest daughter says the man we've seen on TV since his capture is not the father she knew. In her first on-camera interview since Saddam's capture, Raghad Saddam, whose husband Saddam killed, told CNN's Rym Brahimi that it looks like her father had been drugged. She said learned about the capture from news coverage and watched for several hours in disbelief.


RAGHAD HUSSEIN, SADDAM'S DAUGHTER (through translator): I sat on the floor and began to cry. My daughter began to comfort me and hug me. But it was really horrific. Painful and very cruel.

It wounded me very deeply. Of course I don't believe he'll receive a fair trial because it will be conducted by an unrecognized party. The interim government is not recognized internationally, nor in he Arab world. It has not been recognized by anyone. So by what right will the trial proceed?


COOPER: Well, Raghad says she hopes to visit her father if it's legally possible. She and her sister escaped the war in Iraq now. They live in Jordan.

Right now we're following a number of developing stories "Cross Country." Let's take a look.

Nationwide: the flu spreads. The CDC says 36 states now reported widespread flu activity. This year's outbreak started earlier than usual, as you probably know, and is just below the threshold that would designate it as an epidemic. All 50 states have reported flu cases, 36 children have died.

Washington: the presidential patellas. Doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center performed x-rays and an MRI on President Bush's knees today. They said the president should lay off the rigorous running but that he will not need surgery.

Memphis: FedEx fire. A FedEx plane caught fire while landing in Memphis, veered off the runway, came to a rest in a field. You see it there. Seven people on board walked away with only minor injuries. The cause of that fire is under investigation.

New York: surgery for an NBA star. Former New Jersey Nets player Alonso Mourning will undergo kidney transplant surgery tomorrow. Mourning will receive the kidney from an unidentified family member. He retired last month because of complications from kidney disease.

And that is a look at stories "Cross Country" tonight. A reign of terror comes to an end. The Green River serial killer sentenced to life today. The families of his victims are speaking out. We're going to go live to Seattle for that.

Also, what do you see in this picture? Thousands of people see the Virgin Mary. We'll take a closer look.

And a closer look at apparitions of the virgin in our weeklong series, "Miracles."

And REM's Michael Stipe. He's going to join me live. He can enthrall a crowd of thousands when he performs, but can he handle the anchor chair? We'll take a look.

But first, let's take a look "Inside the Box" at the top stories on tonight's network newscasts.


COOPER: It has been a day of reckoning for serial killers. Just hours before the Lee Malvo verdict came back, a man who terrorized the Seattle, Washington area learned his fate.

CNN's Rusty Dornin covered today's emotional sentencing for the so-called Green River killer. She joins us now live -- Rusty.

RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, it was nearly 20 years worth of grief, anger and even hatred that filled the courtroom today, as family of the 48 women murdered by the Green River killer described their incredible losses. But it was compassion and an act of forgiveness that broke the composure of serial killer Gary Ridgway.


CAROL ESTES, MOTHER OF VICTIM DEBRA ESTES: She was just an immature teenager trying to find her way in life before it was snuffed out by Gary Ridgway. I will never forgive him for that. He has destroyed my life.

JOSE MALVAR, BROTHER OF VICTIM MARIA MALVAR: I'm angry, and I'll always be angry. I will never have that closure because I will never have my sister back in my life. For 20 darn long years, a lot of Christmases and a lot of birthday parties we missed because of you.

MERTI WINSTON, MOTHER OF VICTIM TRACY WINSTON: Tracy was a good and loving person, and you had no right to decide that she should die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's easy to kill women, but we'll see how you do against the other prisoners in the general population.

DENNIS MEEHAN, BROTHER OF MARY MEEHAN: I can only hope that some day someone gets the opportunity to choke you unconscious 48 times.

JUDI ARMAN, MOTHER OF VICTIM SHANDA SUMMER: Shame on Seattle. Shame on you. There should be no plea bargaining. If you are guilty, you're guilty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gary Leon Ridgway, I forgive you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've made it difficult to live up to what god says to do, and that's to forgive. He says to forgive all. So you are forgiven, sir.

GARY RIDGWAY, DEFENDANT: I have tried for a long time to keep from killing any ladies. I'm sorry for causing so much pain to so many families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want you to turn around and just scan the audience right now. Those are the family and friends of the people that you killed. And, sir, If you have that drop of emotion, you will be haunted for the balance of your life.


DORNIN: This was the first time that Gary Leon Ridgway had ever shown any emotion, any remorse about these killings. And I don't know if you could see from those films, but he had to turn sideways to really face the people that were speaking, and he kept eye contact the entire. Of course, breaking down when the one man forgave him for killing his daughter.

People talk about closure. I heard one of the victim's family saying it would never bring closure for them. There are a lot of people here it will never bring closure for.

This was a nightmare that haunted this town for many, many years. Some of the victims families said that they were done with Gary Ridgway and were just glad it was over. He, of course, is sentenced to life in prison in solitary confinement without the possibility of parole -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes. Rusty, I think closure is something people in the media like to talk a lot about a lot. I don't think it's something that people who have actually suffered tragedy talk about too much. Rusty Dornin, thanks very much today.

A number of international stories to tell you about. Here's the "UpLink."

Israel: tough talk. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon tells the Palestinians and the U.S. that Israel will abandon the roadmap and go it alone if necessary to increase Israeli security. Sharon gave the Palestinians a deadline of months to begin negotiation on a peace agreement. The warning is creating turmoil among Palestinians and getting increased criticism from the White House.

Baghdad, Iraq: cell phone service begins next week in Iraq's capital city and then expands to the rest of the country. Phones have been in short supply here. Saddam Hussein didn't allow cell phones in his country and land lines, well, they were limited. Analysts expect enormous demands for the service and expect to hear Iraqis shouting (UNINTELLIGIBLE). That's "Can you hear me now" in Arabic. London, England: Diana investigation. It's been six years since Princess Diana and her boyfriend and their chauffeur were killed in a Paris car crash. In January, the British government will hold a public inquiry into the deaths. Fayed's father, Mohamed al Fayed, has long sought the coroner's inquest.

And we take you now to Vatican City. Lights turned on. The pope's Christmas tree a 100-foot fur tree from an alpine valley in Italy, gets tinsel, lights and Christmas carols as the tradition of a tree in St. Peter's Square is continued. Pope John Paul II put up the first tree 21 years ago.

And that is a look at stories around the world in the "UpLink" tonight.

Signs from the Virgin Mary. They cause pilgrimages to far-off places around the world. Are they real or apparitions? We're going to take a closer look in our weeklong series, "Miracles."

And a little later tonight, Michael Jackson, he was formally charged today. And molestation was not the only charge. You'll hear about that and more tonight in "Justice Served."

But first, today's "Buzz." Do you believe Michael Jackson is guilty? Vote now, We want to hear from you and we'll give you the results at the end of our program.


COOPER: On to our pre-holiday series on miracles. Tonight, mystical sightings of religious figures. They happen in the most ordinary places, on sidewalks and in clouds, and even in some of the strangest places: Jesus on a toasted tortilla, Mother Theresa on a cinnamon roll, the infamous nun bun. It happened.

But the most reported of all, by one estimate, upwards of 20,000, is the vision of the Virgin Mary.


COOPER (voice-over): Do you see the Virgin Mary on the side of this Florida office building? Or here on a fence post in Australia? Or here, a hospital window in Massachusetts?

Thousands of people have looked at these images and said they see Mary. Alleged sightings of the Virgin Mary have been happening for centuries. Only a handful of Mary apparitions have been authenticated by the Catholic Church, the first one dating back to 1531 in Guadeloupe, Mexico.

In 1858, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), a French village, the madonna allegedly appeared before a teenage girl, Bernadette. Today, five million believers make a pilgrimage each year. Some hope to be cured of illness, others come simply to pray.

The 20th century saw a big increase in reports of apparitions. In 1917, in Portugal, three children said they (AUDIO GAP) -- apparitions, which are not yet church approved, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Bosnia is perhaps the most famous. Since the apparitions allegedly began in 1981, millions of people of all faith have visited.

And, of course, there are more recent sightings. Many of them closer to home. Passaic, New Jersey, some said the Virgin Mary was seen in a tree trunk. Ralls, Texas, residents said that's Mary in a smudge of melted chocolate on a porch. Campbell, Ohio, some said they saw the eyes of a Virgin Mary statue glowing.


COOPER: Many different sightings. Over the last couple of nights, we've heard from a couple of people who say they were miraculously cured of disease. It wouldn't be a balanced series on miracles without the perspective of a skeptic, a professional debunker.

Joe Nickell has spent considerable time looking for logical explanations to the seemingly miraculous for the magazine "Skeptical Inquirer," and many books, including "Looking for a Miracle." He joins us in Buffalo, New York, tonight.

Thanks very much for being with us, Joe. You have investigated a lot of these apparitions. Have you ever found one that you simply could not explain?

JOE NICKELL, "SKEPTICAL INQUIRER": Not really. When I've had a fair chance to examine them, a lot of these sightings that are internal, where some visionary sees the Virgin Mary and no one else does, those are usually due to what's called a fantasy-prone personality. And we've done pretty extensive studying of them.

In Campbell, Ohio, you mentioned the case of the glowing statues. I was down there and did extensive research. And there's just no question that it was a gold leaf on the statues that was simply shining from ambient light. And that's all it was. It was no miracle at all.

COOPER: Well why...

NICKELL: And, yes, I'm sure of that.

COOPER: Well why the large number of sightings, in particular of the Virgin Mary, you think?

COOPER: Well, I think that Mary has a special place in Roman Catholicism, which is the source of most of these apparitions. It brings the feminine perspective to the Catholic Church, which in other ways, the hierarchy is all male. So I think there's a popular movement to bring the female side out, and so Catholics venerate the Virgin Mary.

COOPER: It's interesting, though, as I'm sure you know. People come up with different explanations for why an apparition will appear. I think it was this past sumner in Milton, Massachusetts. I think that was the one the window of a hospital.

I mean, the people that cleaned the hospital had a particular explanation of condensation in the window. But those who came and were looking at some of the pictures of them, they all came up with different explanations of why the Virgin Mary was appearing then and there.

NICKELL: Yes, they did. They were trying to equate it with some kind of activity, whether it was abortion or some of the troubles in the Church.

But, in fact, I was at Milton and talked with hospital authorities, and that image, in some form, had been there for about five years. Just all of a sudden, maybe, as it grew in shape -- it's just a stain between the two windows, the seal leaked and allowed the sealant to -- residue to come in and create a random stain. That's all these images are, are random stains.

COOPER: You know, Joe -- and I'm sure we're going to get a lot of e-mails on this, very critical of you -- there are some people who say, look, people see maybe what they want to see, and what's so wrong with believing in an apparition like this? Why try to debunk it?

NICKELL: Well, if they criticize me in emails, they'll have to criticize most of the Roman Catholic Church which has not authenticated most of these random stains. And in fact, church spokesmen at Milton that I appeared on BBC with, actually told me they discounted that as a miracle. I just try not to be any less skeptical than the priests.

COOPER: Fair enough. Joe Nickell, appreciate you coming in and talking with us. Fascinating perspective, thank you Joe.

Coming up tomorrow as we wind up our series, why are so many of us fascinated with miracles and what effect can miracles real or imagined have on your mind and body. We'll look at that tomorrow night.


COOPER (voice-over): After weeks of waiting, charges are filed against Michael Jackson. Will they stick?

And R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe takes 360 for a spin. We'll be right back.



COOPER: Time for "The Reset." Time to catch you up to speed on some of tonight's top stories. Chesapeake, Virginia: second sniper convicted. Lee Boyd Malvo, the 18-year-old triggerman in the D.C. Sniper case, convicted on all counts today. The penalty phase of his trial begins next week. He could face the death penalty. Ft. Bragg, North Carolina: troop call-up. As many as 3,500 soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division could be heading to Iraq in a hurry. The soldiers might leave as early as January. Pentagon planners say they are needed right away, because some National Guard units scheduled to go are not ready. Also 3,500 other members of the unit already in Iraq will have to stay an extra 60 days.

Manchester, New Hampshire: Dean punches back. Presidential hopeful Howard Dean fired back at Washington Democrats today. His rivals for the nomination have taken him to task for saying America is no safer today after the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Dean asserts that the war in Iraq has diverted attention from other pressing problems like North Korean nukes and al Qaeda and that American security has suffered as a result.

Washington, D.C.: Nader wants in. Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate in the 2000 presidential election, who some say cost Al Gore the top job, now says he wants to run again in 2004. Nader says he'll announce his decision next month.

Washington, D.C.: home for the holidays. Secretary of State Colin Powell went home today after successful prostate surgery. Powell will be on a limited schedule until after the first of the year.

And that's it for "The Reset" for now.

Tonight in justice served, we take a closer look at today's developments in the Michael Jackson case. He's been formally charged with seven counts of child molestation. Miguel Marquez joins us from California. What's the latest?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest is that nine counts total there, Anderson: seven of them for lewd acts upon a child under 14 years of age, two of those acts for administering an intoxicating agent to a child under 14 years of age. All of these acts, prosecutors say, occurred between February 7 and March 10 of this year.

And there's a clause in that filing today that says that Mr. Jackson's acts against these child, quote, "were substantial sexual conduct with a child under 14 years of age." The prosecutors say even though it took several weeks to bring this case that he has a very strong case against the pop star. And the prosecution (sic) say that this case amounts to nothing more than a shakedown by a family that wants money and a prosecutor with an ax to grind -- Anderson.

COOPER: Yes, Mark Geragos, the defense attorney, has come out very strongly with tough talk saying, essentially that they know more than the prosecution does.

MARQUEZ: It was very interesting. We reported earlier on that Mark Geragos had been hired by Mr. Jackson around February when the ABC documentary aired. He confirmed that today that he has been on this case since the very beginning. And today saying that the prosecutor may think that they know what our case is, but we know what we know and we know what they know and he says that this case is winnable -- Anderson.

COOPER: Some very tough talk from Mark Geragos. All right, Miguel Marquez, thank you.

We should reiterate, Michael jackson has denied all the allegations in this case. We want to get more legal analysis of the charges against him and what happens next. Court TV anchor Lisa Bloom joins us here in New York. And in San Francisco, 360 legal analyst Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom. Kimberly good to see you as well.

Lisa, let me start off with you. The D.A. had said all along, once these charges were filed everything is going to be clear. I read the charges, sure you have, too. They don't seem that clear.

LISA BLOOM, COURT TV: Not so clear. And that's a great point. I think what the D.A. is doing is keeping his options open. He did the legal minimum in filing these charges. Allowing for the dates of the molestation, giving the number of counts, 7 counts of molestation, two counts of giving alcohol to a minor in order to molest him. That's interesting, confirming some of the rumors swirling around this case.

Other than that, not a lot of new information.

COOPER: Kimberly, let's talk about the timeline, becuase that is going to be very, very important. We got some dates in this filing. Let's compare that to the audiotape, which you have heard that the defense has from these alleged accusers.

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE NEWSOM, 360 LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it is interesting, because our earlier information was that they were going to allege, the prosecution that is, that these acts of abuse occurred sometime between June and December of 2002. And that's some information that was within the earlier search warrant so they could go into his home.

Now we see, that they are alleging February 10 through the end or beginning of March, rather. So this is a little bit of a different time frame. But the tape I heard was from February 16. Couple that with the fact that the Department of Child Services Investigation concluded at the end of February. The prosecution is going to have some difficulty combating inconsistent statements. It's not insurmountable, but this definitely isn't going to be a slam dunk case.

BLOOM: Well, I think you make a good point, Kimberly. And there's no question about it, the child welfare authorities were wrong. Tom Sneddon, the D.A. is wrong, or at the same time this child is being molested, in February of 2003, he was also denying the child welfare authorities that it was going on.

Now, it's very common for children who are abused to do that, to protect the perpetrator until they are ready to report it. So it doesn't add a lot to the case but gives the defense something to work with, namely that inconsistent statement.

COOPER: Kimberly, how significant -- Jackson charged with two counts of administering an intoxicating agent for the purpose of committing a felony. How serious a crime is that?

NEWSOM: Well, it is a serious crime. He could receive anywhere from probation up to three years in prison just for one count alone of that charge. Also, if they are able to corroborate this kind of specific allegation, that a child was given an intoxicating agent in order for Michael Jackson to overcome his will or complete this violation, specifically penal code section 288, that is going to be damage against the defense in this case.

But again, they're going to have to show that if it was wine, which we have heard alledged, that maybe there was wine in the house, that this is something that maybe Michael Jackson does. So they better be able to substantiate that, otherwise it could definitely damage their case.

COOPER: Lisa, very tough talk from Mark Geragos today. I guess you'd expect nothing less from one's own attorney. But he's basically says that the prosecution doesn't really know the full case and they know more details than the prosecution does.

BLOOM: Well, you know, I wouldn't expect personal attacks on the prosecutor and on the victim and that's what we heard from Geragos today. It's very similar to what he did on the Winona Ryder case, where he said the prosecutors there were overzealous, the security guards were making things up. He lost that case.

And this is his M.O., to give personal attacks against the prosecutor. Personally, I think it's inappropriate. I think he should stick to the facts of the case.

COOPER: Kimberly, the defense does seems very confident.

NEWSOM: They seem confident and closes source to the defense have said they are confident that Michael will be vindicated in this case. They are convinced that these charges are without merit and it's slander against Michael Jackson. That he loves children and that he would never do anything like this.

On the other hand, you have the D.A.'s office taking this very seriously, feeling the heat of going up against Jackson and his defense team, hiring their own PR firm. Now, that's a first for a prosecutor's office.

BLOOM: Well, they didn't hire a PR firm. Apparently, a woman volunteered to help out and they accepted her offer to answer some phone calls. No one has been able to get a hold of her since. You know, Michael Jackson, of course, has the best PR people, the best agents, the best attorneys that money can buy, I don't see what's wrong with a couple of people helping out the prosecution if they want to volunteer.

COOPER: All right. Go ahead. NEWSOM: We've done that before with jury consultants and having them come on board to volunteer resources because you don't have the money to go against something like this on a big case. But nevertheless, we hope that this is going to stick to the facts in the courtroom and not battles outside.

COOPER: All right. Let's leave it there. Lisa Bloom, Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, thank you very much. Always good to talk to both of you.

Well, we want to know what you think at home. Do you believe Michael Jackson is guilty? Go to Cast your vote. We'll have results at the end of the program.

Moving on. Are you in the mood for a TV Christmas special or has the trend of cramming Christmas into everything finally turned into overkill this year? Take a look at that.

Plus, the White House might not be gloating about Saddam but everyone on the Internet seems to be. We'll take a look at what's going on in cyberspace.

And later, just who does Michael Stipe he is? Would you believe, maybe me? He'll be here. We'll be right back.


COOPER: All right, whether you prefer Christmas or the more generic holiday season, complaining about the season's commercial overkill has almost become a holiday tradition in itself. But if you've watched TV at all this month, you may have started to wonder if maybe, just maybe holiday themed TV has reached the point of overkill.


COOPER (voice-over): On TV, there used to be just the favorites.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Won't you guide my sleigh tonight?

COOPER: "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

LINUS, "A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS": Charlie Brown is a blockhead but he did get a nice tree.

COOPER: "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "It's a Wonderful Life," and, of course, "A Christmas Story."

RALPHIE, "A CHRISTMAS STORY": Can I try it out, Ma? Can I?

COOPER: In other words, a handful of old animated specials, maybe the occasional variety show, and maybe a very special episode of an ongoing series. That was pretty much the extent of TV's Christmas programming. And frankly, it seemed like enough at the time. Now every cable network, no matter its focus, seems to need its own Christmas event. TNT has its "Christmas in Washington," complete with Kenny Chesney who sings "All I Want For Christmas" is...

KENNY CHESNEY, SINGER: A real good tan.

COOPER: If country isn't your thing...


COOPER: The Osbourne family brought their own distinctive family dynamics to the holiday with an MTV special. VH1 celebrated the Yuletide with a Kid Rock Christmas while Spike TV is gearing up for its 007 days of Christmas. I guess, really, nothing says Noel like "A License To Kill."

Other shows like "Justice League" work the holiday into regular episodes. But frankly, if the Christmas overkill keeps up, some superheroes are bound to ask for equal time. I guess I'd watch Aquaman's festival of lights. Wouldn't you?

Well, in a recent -- stop imitating me -- in a recent video for their song "Bad Day" R.E.M. pokes some fun at cable news and, yes, cable news anchors. In the video, songwriter and lead singer Michael Stipe played the anchor tossing to his bandmates throughout the video. We wanted to put him to the test a little bit so we asked him to join us at the anchor desk tonight. Michael Stipes joins us. Thank you for being with us.

MICHAEL STIPE, R.E.M. FRONTMAN: Thank you for having me.

COOPER: You watch a lot of news.

STIPE: I do.

COOPER: Why do you watch so much news?

STIPE: I wanted to be an anchorman when I was a kid.

COOPER: No. Are you serious?

STIPE: Well, no.

COOPER: So you were doing this video in which you played an anchorman. How did you prepare for it?

STIPE: I watched your show.

COOPER: You actually watched this show?

STIPE: I did.

COOPER: So wait, the guy -- as we're looking at you right now, that's your version of me?

STIPE: Kind of, yes. I had some -- I had some ticks that you don't have, I think.

COOPER: Do I do that nod knowingly thing? STIPE: Yes, you do. It was much easier than I expected.

COOPER: Oh, was it really?


COOPER: But you take news very seriously.

STIPE: I do, yes.

COOPER: Do you think news, I mean, in general does a good job or you think -- you think it sort of falls down?

STIPE: I feel like the job of the media really is to watchdog the government, and I'm not sure they've done a great job of that in the last couple of years, particularly with this administration.

COOPER: What bothers you about anchoring. For me it's always that fake anchor chat, you know. Sort of like, hey, Cindy, been great. All right.

STIPE: The adjusting of the paper is something that I never quite understood.

COOPER: But you know what we actually made fun of that here as well. But you know, you do have to adjust the papers from time to time.

STIPE: Yes, but to what end I have to ask. You have teleprompters and TVs.

COOPER: That's true. That's true. You know, you should be wearing a tie, so here's a little tie for you.

STIPE: Do you only have five suits. Is that true?

COOPER: It is true. I only own five suits. I need to get a couple more suits. But you clean up nice.

STIPE: Thanks.

COOPER: You do a good job. All right, so we're going to let you try -- oh, I want to show one other thing. You are not the kind of guy I think of when I think of Christmas. But you really get into the Christmas spirit, don't you? We want to show this picture.

This was taken Michael taken earlier today. That's you on Santa's lap.

STIPE: Santa's lap. He asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told him I want George W. Bush and his gang of thugs the hell out of the White House and he said, he said, "I do, too, and I'll see what I can do."

COOPER: Oh, really. So Santa has a political...

STIPE: Well, this one did.

COOPER: This was definitely a New York Santa then.

STIPE: I guess so.

COOPER: All right. So we're going to let you try to -- you know, it's not so easy being an anchor. I just want you to know that. You're going to play the role. You can toss to commercial break and then when you come back, you can be at the anchor desk all by yourself.

STIPE: I'm a little nervous, Anderson, but I'll see what I can do.

COOPER: I think you'll do fine. Take it away.

STIPE: Coming up in the next exciting installment of ANDERSON COOPER 360, we'll show you what the Internet has been doing to Saddam Hussein since he was captured. We should warn you now, it's not pretty.

COOPER: Excellent.


STIPE: When Saddam Hussein was captured, the American government wanted to make very sure he was not perceived as gloating. Sort of a no-gloat policy, if you will. However, no such constraints have applied to the American people.

Have you seen all the Saddam stuff floating around on the Internet these days?


COOPER (voice-over): Saddam's bearded, bedraggled face seen in photos after his capture has proven irresistible to everyone with photo shop, an Internet hookup and a sense of humor. Online, cleaning up the former homicidal dictator seems to be a top priority. Whether it's at the hands of five gay guys or at the edge of a razor that gives him not only smooth skin but a smooth voice as well. Online, Saddam has been transformed outright into a candy salesman, a want to be Santa Claus, even a want to be dictator once more. Of course, you really know when you have made it as a pop culture icon when you get your own music video.


COOPER: All right, so it's not a great music video. So how was it?

How did you enjoy being an anchor?

STIPE: It was nerve-racking.

COOPER: Was it really? STIPE: It was harder than I thought.

COOPER: You're just saying that.

STIPE: No it was tough. It's a tough job.

COOPER: Does this mean maybe I get to come and perform one night.

STIPE: Can you sing?


STIPE: Play guitar?


STIPE: Drums?


STIPE: Dance?

COOPER: I've been known to cut a rug from time to time.

STIPE: You could be the dancer. You could be a dancer, that would be good.

COOPER: I could be the dancer? All right, stick around and we'll do "The Current" right now and talk a little pop culture. I'll try not to offend you in this.

Lets take a look at the pop culture "Current" tonight.

Time Warner, there we go. Time Warner is reportedly in merger talks with MGM Studios. "Variety" reports that the talks are preliminary. The merger is apparently under consideration because Time Warner execs see it as a good fit and have a memory of a gnat.

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's stretch limousine and various other goodies sold at auction last night. The closing bid was $77,675. The buyer will also have to pay for the auction fee and limo deskankification which is a very expensive process.

Stephen King has gone home for the holidays. He was been released from the hospital yesterday after almost a month of fighting of pneumonia. According to legend, Kings lungs were built on the site of an Indian burial ground protected by an ancient curse.

And Paris Hilton's show "The Simple Life" beat impressive competition in the ratings Tuesday. Hilton was up against no less than President Bush who was interviewed on ABC. Some analysts suggested viewers may have expected to get a look at Bush on either show.

Moving on. Are you ready for the trial of the century? Are you ready for two trials of the century?

We'll help you get through it all in the "Nth Degree."

Plus tomorrow, a miracle doesn't always mean something supernatural. Sometimes it's really just something great or ridiculously against the odds. We are going to look at the real power of these miracles, the power to inspire.

First, today's "Buzz." Still a few minutes to weigh in. Do you believe Michael Jackson is guilty? Go now, The results when we come back.


COOPER: We'd love to hear your "Instant Feedback" any time. Log on at Drop us an e-mail. I'll try to get back to you. I try to answer as many as I can myself.

All right, let's move on to "The Buzz" now. Time for "The Buzz" We asked you, do you believe Michael Jackson is guilty. Almost a split vote tonight. In a surge of last minute voting let's stake a look. 53 percent said yes, 47 percent voted no. Certainly not a scientific poll, just viewer "Buzz." And we appreciate all who have taken part tonight.

Tonight, taking the trial of the century to the "Nth Degree." The world can expect two massive trials to get under way next year. The trial of Michael Jackson and the trial of Saddam Hussein. In case they go on simultaneously, we don't want anyone getting the two confused. After all, each of them had at least one palatial home with secret hiding places that ended up getting searched by U.S. officials. And each in their own way became famous by making millions dancing to their own tune.

However there are several important differences Saddam had a U.N. embargo and while Jackson had a contract with Sony. Saddam tried to kill the president's father and while Jackson tried to smuggle the king's daughter. Jackson dangled his son of the balcony, Saddam had his son-in-laws assassinated. No one has been able to find Saddam's WMDs and no one wants Jackson's CDs. Saddam gave his loved ones weird names like Uday and Qusay, while Jackson gave his loved ones normal names like bubbles and blanket. As we enter the new year, let's be sure to keep these two trials in perspective. That about wraps up the program tonight. Thanks for watching. "PAULA ZAHN NOW" is next.


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