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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Brian Nichols' Brother Mark Tells Family Story
Aired March 15, 2005 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, exclusive, the brother of Brian Nichols, the suspect in last week's Atlanta courthouse killings who appeared before a judge this morning. And now, his brother, Mark Nichols speaks out about this horrible tragedy in his first interview, he's next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Just for a quick update on today's events, Mark's brother, Brian appeared for a status hearing at the Fulton County Jail in downtown Atlanta. He was told he'll remain on the prior charges and also told that the State of Georgia intends to file four murder charges against him at a later date. Asked if he had anything to say, Brian said, quote, "not at this time." Mark, where were you when you learned what happened?
MARK NICHOLS, BRIAN NICHOLS' BROTHER: I was at work at the barber shop. Every morning, when I come in, I just normally turn on CNN.
KING: You work in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, not Atlanta?
NICHOLS: Right. Ft. Lauderdale.
KING: And you're a barber?
KING: So what happened?
NICHOLS: I turned on the news and I noticed that it was a courthouse shooting that happened. I didn't really pay too much attention it to then. Then, noticed that it was a rape case. So, after that, I called a friend of mine and he confirmed that the judge, that was the judge that was proceeding in my brother's case, that's how I learned.
KING: So you knew your brother was on trial and there was previous trial, right?
KING: In that previous trial there was a hung jury, but eight were in favor of not guilty, right?
KING: Was there a time they were thinking about not trying him again? NICHOLS: You know, I really don't know. I don't know.
KING: Were you in close touch with your brother during the trial?
NICHOLS: Not really. You know, the first few months that he was incarcerated, I had talked to him, but after that, as far as collect calls and everything, they got pretty high on the bill, so the company that controls that had blocked the calls so he really couldn't call me. So I had to relay messages.
KING: All right. Now, you hear the story, the judge has been shot, the court reporter, the whole thing is going on. What's going through you?
NICHOLS: I really don't want to talk about that because of the ongoing trial. I really don't want to talk about anything that really has to do with the trial. You know, so I can't really answer that question.
KING: You don't want to discuss what happened?
NICHOLS: I don't want to discuss what happened.
KING: So, we'll talk about your brother.
KING: As a person.
KING: Who's older?
NICHOLS: I'm older.
KING: How many are there?
NICHOLS: It's just me and him.
KING: And he's how old now?
KING: And you're?
KING: Were you close growing up?
NICHOLS: Very close.
KING: Where did you grow up?
NICHOLS: We grew up in Baltimore, Baltimore, Maryland.
KING: Did he ever get in any kind of trouble?
NICHOLS: No more than young kids and teenagers, you know, during that growing up. He really wasn't in trouble like that. You know.
KING: Just a normal teenager.
NICHOLS: Just a normal teenager.
KING: Your folks, they live in Africa, right?
KING: Tell me about that.
NICHOLS: My mother, she is working on a job over there. So she'll be over there for a while.
KING: Your dad there, too?
NICHOLS: Yes, he's there, too.
KING: Where is that, Tasmania?
KING: Tanzania. Did -- Have they called you since all of this, have you spoken to mom?
NICHOLS: Yeah, I've spoken to her.
KING: How's she handling it?
NICHOLS: I mean, everybody is just devastated. Everybody is devastated.
KING: Your dad?
KING: By the way, have you spoken to Brian?
KING: Not since any of this happened?
KING: Have you tried to reach him?
KING: Why not?
NICHOLS: Even though I know we probably -- impossible right now so, you know ...
KING: Do you intend to go to Atlanta, try to see him?
NICHOLS: Yeah, I would like to. I really would.
KING: What kind of -- tell us about Brian. What kind of guy is he?
NICHOLS: I mean, he's laid back. I mean, he's been portrayed really bad, you know. People are saying that he was always into some kind of trouble but it wasn't like that. You know, he's a real laid back kind of guy. He would do anything for you. I mean, he did so much for me. I'm the -- I'm the older brother be but I looked up to him as if he were my older brother, you know.
KING: He was the stable person?
NICHOLS: I mean, a lot of people, like they haven't really said, you know, he worked for Hewlett-Packard for eight years, as a UNIX system operator -- engineer. Making probably six figures or very close to six figures. You know, so he's a smart person. You know, but that side hasn't been portrayed.
KING: No, because we're only looking at the events. Do you understand that or not?
NICHOLS: I understand that.
KING: Do you think it's unfair?
NICHOLS: I know the media is going to do their job. So, you know, I think it's unfair, but I know the media -- that's their job.
KING: Forgetting whether he did it or not and the legal, and you're not going to be called to testify, you weren't there, right?
KING: Is there anything in his makeup that would tell you he would be lent to violence? Did he get into fights?
NICHOLS: I can't -- I can't discuss anything like that. All I can discuss with you is the brother I know. My upcoming with him, the fun that we had, the things that we did. Anything else, I really can't discuss that, because I don't want to hurt him. I don't want to hurt his case.
KING: But you wouldn't hurt it if you didn't know he was doing anything wrong.
NICHOLS: I just want to leave, just totally stay away from that.
KING: OK. Then, what other things we don't know about him. He is educated?
NICHOLS: Very educated.
KING: Had a good job?
NICHOLS: Good job. KING: How about this woman in the first case? We can discuss that? In fact, they've declared a mistrial in that case. Did you know the girl?
NICHOLS: Yeah, I know her. She was like a sister.
KING: So he knows her a long time, right, the girl who made the charge against him.
NICHOLS: She was like a sister.
KING: This wasn't some rape on the streets.
NICHOLS: She was like my mother's daughter that she never had.
KING: So this wasn't some rape on the street?
KING: Like the common everyday we hear about rape?
KING: So that had to be strange to you that long relationship when she makes this charge?
NICHOLS: Yeah, I mean, it just doesn't seem like, you know, it's real. You know, it's like a dream. All this is like a dream that I hope I can wake up from. But ...
KING: I would imagine. How are you handling it all?
NICHOLS: Look at me. I'm tired. I'm worn out. I haven't slept in three days. I haven't eaten. You know, that's my only brother you know, and I love him. And I want him to know that we all still love him. We're not turning against him. We're here for him. You know, it's hurting me. It really is, it's hurting me.
KING: Do you have feelings about the woman whose house he was in? We know he was in that house?
NICHOLS: Like I said ...
KING: Do you have any thoughts about her? She worked with him. She read to him, she ...
NICHOLS: I really can't discuss -- I don't want to discuss anything that would even lead into, you know, that portion that could end up leading into the trial to come. You know, I can't talk about that.
KING: We'll be right back with Mark Nichols and panel will join us after that. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the charges placed against you, sir, you have a possible life imprisonment on rape, 20 years on aggravated assault with intent to rape, 20 years on aggravated sodomy, ten years on false imprisonment, 20 years on burglary and five years on possession of a firearm during commission of a crime. Those are the possible penalties you face on those charges, sir. Anything else you wish to say or need to ask the court, Mr. Nichols?
BRIAN NICHOLS, ALLEGED MURDERER: Not at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, sir.
KING: We're back with Mark Nichols, the older brother, who feels like the younger brother of Brian Nichols. When you saw him, like today on television-.
NICHOLS: I can't ...
KING: I'm talking -- this it's not about the case, how do you feel?
NICHOLS: I can't watch it.
NICHOLS: I can't watch it. You know, today, I watched the court appearance. After he was captured, I didn't watch it anymore. I work in -- I work with the public. And you know, you have people coming in constantly that don't know that that's my brother. All you hear is, man, they're going to kill him, they're going to kill him. I can't handle that, you know. That's all day. You know, have you heard about that guy in Atlanta? So I have to cut them off and tell them ...
KING: You tell them that's your brother?
NICHOLS: That's my brother. If you can hold that opinion to yourself, because I don't want to hear that. It's been kind of -- it's been a rough -- a rough few days.
KING: When you do see him, though, what goes through you? When you watched him today, what feelings go through you? He's your brother, you love him.
NICHOLS: I'm hurt. I'm hurt because honestly, anybody in my family will probably think that I would have been the one in that situation, you know, from my past, not him.
KING: Wow. NICHOLS: Never in a million years would they have expected it would have been my brother. I had a cousin of mine, Ivan (ph), he told me, man, I would expect that from you, not Brian. I just can't believe this.
KING: You were a tougher kind of kid? You were worse ...
NICHOLS: Not say tougher. I was ...
KING: You got in more trouble?
NICHOLS: I got in more trouble.
KING: In other words, if I were to have had both of you when you were 10 years old, you were 12 and he's 10, I said, this is going to happen to one of you, it would have been you?
NICHOLS: It would have been me. It would have been me. Never in a million years would I ever expect I would be sitting here on this show talking to you.
KING: How is his daughter?
NICHOLS: I haven't really had too much contact with his daughter, so ...
KING: Was he close to her?
NICHOLS: I really ...
KING: Because we haven't seen her or heard about her much.
NICHOLS: You know, I really-
KING: Do you know if he was close to her?
NICHOLS: I don't think they were really close. It was a paternity thing going on, so, you know, I've met his daughter maybe once or twice. I really don't know too much about her.
KING: He went to Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, right?
KING: What did he major in?
NICHOLS: I can't recall. I really can't recall.
KING: But he had a good job. He wanted to be -- he played college football?
NICHOLS: He played football, yeah.
KING: Was he a good player?
NICHOLS: Good, very good. KING: Was he happy at Hewlett-Packard?
NICHOLS: Loving it. He was doing, I guess, he was living good, you know, for a black guy, his age, you know, in that position, engineer at Hewlett-Packard, making six figures, living comfortably, you know. Was at work all the time. You would call there, he wouldn't even -- you wouldn't even know he was black when he answered the phone, that's how professional he sounds. You know. It's just -- this is unbelievable that it's turned out like this.
KING: Was he angry at the treatment of people of his race? Did he get involved much in like civil rights causes?
NICHOLS: No, he wasn't angry like that. We had discussions on things, but he wasn't, you know, angry like that. You know. It's things that we talked about that we didn't like, but, you know ...
KING: Look at that picture there we have. That is what?
NICHOLS: That's his high school graduation picture right there. Yep.
KING: Go figure. When you see that, I mean, that's your brother.
NICHOLS: That's my brother.
KING: You love him?
KING: Were you a churchgoer?
NICHOLS: I really wasn't in this church as much as we probably should have been, you know. But, you know, I believe in God.
KING: What about Brian?
NICHOLS: Brian, he really was into church. I had heard at one time he was playing the keyboard for the church. He was going every week, playing the keyboard, you know. He used to tell me, you need to get into God because I used to be into a lot of things, you nope you need to stop and you need to get into God. And I've never really expected him to be like that. But that's how he turned out.
KING: So all of this is a major shock to you?
NICHOLS: It's -- it's unbelievable. It's unbelievable.
KING: Something had to snap. I know you don't want to discuss the case, but obviously, something along the road went wrong somewhere. And it must boggle your mind. You must think of things when he was 15 or 18 or 19, any sign?
NICHOLS: I wonder if things that I've done in the past may have affected him, you know. I'm not sure, but ... KING: Have you done illegal things?
NICHOLS: I've been in trouble.
KING: In jail?
NICHOLS: I've been in trouble. I've been in jail. You know, when I was in Baltimore, Baltimore is a crazy place, so you get caught up into doing crazy things. I had been in trouble. But I've kept myself out of trouble. Doing pretty good now.
KING: Was he supportive of you when you were in jail?
NICHOLS: Yeah. Yeah.
KING: So he ...
NICHOLS: If I need something, you know, if I needed some money or something, he would give it to me. Brian was the kind of guy, like said, he worked night shift at Hewlett-Packard. I could call Brian at 3:00 in the morning and say, look, man, I might need $50 tomorrow. He'd tell me, -- I used to live 45 minutes away from him. He'll say, man, come on down to the job and get it. Brian let me live with him in his condo for six, six to eight months. Didn't have to pay any rent. You know, he just wanted to make sure I was okay.
KING: You're married, right?
KING: You have kids now?
KING: How is your wife handling all this? Does she know Brian well?
NICHOLS: I've been with my wife, say, like now 21, 22 years. We've been together since we were 15. We've been married for ten years. So Brian is like a brother to her. You know, it's -- everybody's really close, you know.
KING: So she must be bewildered.
NICHOLS: She is. It's really hurting her and affecting her and it's affecting my kids. My cousins' kids. I mean, because you would never think that this would be going on.
KING: We'll be back with some more moments with Mark Nichols, and then we'll have some other people talk about this matter. We'll also get a check-up later in the hour about the Jackson matter and the sentencing of Scott Peterson tomorrow. Right back with some more with Mark Nichols, the older brother of Brian Nichols. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we would like to give the defendant and council notice that the state does intend, at later date, to file formal charges against the defendant for the charges of murder against the honorable Rowland Barnes, murder against Julie Brandau, murder against Fulton County Sergeant Hoyt Teasley, charge of murder against United States Immigration and Customs officer Wilhelm. David Wilhelm, as well as the felony offenses of escape and other appropriate charges.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ASHLEY SMITH, HOSTAGE OF BRIAN NICHOLS: He got to know me, I got to know him. He talked about his family, how -- he was wondering what they were thinking. He said, they probably don't know what to think.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I know you didn't hear that, but she just said that she talked to him about his family.
NICHOLS: I didn't know that.
KING: And that he said that they probably won't know what to think. Ashley spoke to him about his family and he said, they probably -- and you've been saying that all along, because you don't know what to think. That is not the kid brother you know.
KING: OK. He went to Catholic school?
NICHOLS: We both did. He went to military school, I think, from the -- it was either from the first grade to the eighth grade, and then from then he went to Cardinal Gibbons (ph) High School. We both -- I went to Cardinal Gibbons first.
KING: Oh yes, did you? I know the school.
NICHOLS: And then he followed. Cardinal Gibbons, yes.
KING: He played ball there, too?
NICHOLS: Yes. He played ball there.
KING: He played piano, too?
NICHOLS: Played piano, we both played piano.
KING: Your mother worked for the IRS?
KING: What did she do?
NICHOLS: Well, she was -- I guess you could say she was like a high -- she was a official in there. I'm not really sure, it's very long title so I couldn't really remember it.
KING: But basically, she collected taxes?
NICHOLS: No, I think at one time she was sending out the tax police to collect your stuff.
KING: You lived in a good neighborhood in Atlanta when you went and stayed with him?
We lived in Buckhead, Sandy Springs.
KING: Buckhead, that's the nicest neighborhood.
KING: Drove a nice car?
NICHOLS: Very nice car.
KING: All right. Back to the barber shop. You're in the barber shop.
KING: People are talking about it.
NICHOLS: That's -- you know how barber shops are, they come in to talk about what's going on.
KING: And that's all they're talking about.
NICHOLS: Yes. I mean, I can go across the street to the store and that's what they're talking about.
KING: And do you tell these people immediately that you're his brother?
NICHOLS: I hadn't been at first, but you know now I have to because I can't stand to hear that. You know, I don't want to hear, are they going to kill him? They're going to kill him. They're going to fry him. I don't want to hear that, I don't even want to think that. So I just asked them politely, not rudely, I let them know, look, that's my brother and, you know, if you can hold that opinion to yourself, it would be appreciated...
KING: Are they generally nice about it?
NICHOLS: Yes, they apologized to me, and go on and carry on another conversation. But lately, for the last few days, I really haven't been able to work because of all the media coverage. I'm thinking with me not really saying anything, you know, they're trying to get pictures of me, see who I am, you know what I mean, coming to my job. It's just been -- it's been hectic.
KING: Are you able to -- you're kind of a victim yourself through no fault of your own, you're a victim of this, can you -- able -- in your mind say, I understand why the media is doing this or are you angry?
NICHOLS: I'm angry because if I put it out there that I'm not saying anything, why can't you respect that? Why do you have to constantly call my phone 3:00 in the morning, leaving cards, you know, all at my apartment complex with the van set up and everything, why can't you just respect that?
KING: So let's get it straight. You will not discuss anything about the charges against him, the allegations, the events leading up to it...
KING: ... what happened afterwards, anything connected with the trial?
NICHOLS: No. I'm just here to say that my brother...
KING: I'll give you a minute. What do you want to say?
NICHOLS: My brother isn't a monster, like he's been portrayed to be. He may be a big person, as far as physically, but he's gentle, he's laid back. I sit back and think about how we won't be able to sit there and play Madden all night, play the PlayStation all night. We would sit there and play the PlayStation all night long as grown as we are, playing football all night or barbecuing at the pool anymore, you know, or going to play basketball.
Or when I think about how we used to play football when we were younger, go into other neighborhoods, you know. Thanksgiving at my mother's house. You know, for a long time in my family, I was in Baltimore, he was in Georgia, so, for a while, this was like before I moved to Florida, it was like my family was like all in one state. So we all would have a Thanksgiving or a Christmas together.
You know, I think about how my kids, they love him and, you know, Christmas with him. It's rough. It's really rough, you know.
KING: It ain't going to get any easier.
NICHOLS: It's not going to get any easier, I know that.
KING: Will you be there for him?
NICHOLS: I'll always be there for him. Always.
KING: Thank you, Mark.
NICHOLS: Thank you. KING: Mark Nichols, the brother of Brian Nichols.
When we come back, we'll talk about this matter with Renee Rockwell, defense attorney who knew the judge and court reporter; Gary Tuchman, our national correspondent; Chris Pixley. And then in the remaining segments of the show later, Kimberly Guilfoyle-Newsom and Ted Rowlands will be with us to discuss the Jackson case and the sentencing tomorrow of Scott Peterson.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORSE DIGGS, WAGA REPORTER (voice-over): Some background and new pictures.
(on camera): I want to show you how the trouble all began. This is a hallway here adjacent to a courtroom that leads to the prison elevator, the elevator you see right over there. Now Deputy Hall had to bring Nichols up on that elevator. And she did that in order to bring him over to a holding room, that area right there.
The reason for that, that's where he changes clothes. Nichols was handcuffed. The deputy had to release the handcuffs. And as she did, he got his arm free and lunged at the deputy.
(voice-over): A security control deputy did not see the few seconds captured on video. Police say Nichols, who had gotten the deputy's gun, was loose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We'll spend a segment now discussing the incredible occurrences in Atlanta, with Chris Pixley, defense attorney based in Atlanta, works at the Fulton County Courthouse where the killings took place.
Renee Rockwell, also a defense attorney. She knew Judge Barnes, and Court Reporter Julie Brandau, was at the courthouse when the shooting occurred.
And Gary Tuchman, the CNN national correspondent, has been covering the courthouse shooting story the last several days. We'll start with Gary.
After listening to Mark, this is more perplexing than ever, isn't it?
This whole matter is mind-boggling.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's really a mind-boggling case, Larry. An it's really sad and pitiful. Right now, we know that Brian Nichols is inside this jail, the Fulton County Jail. We were just talking to an inmate who got out of here. And she was telling us that, since Friday, they've been in lockdown inside this jail, because they want it extra secure while this manhunt was going. She said, it made her life miserable. She's just been released. But he's inside here right now. And this is where his court hearing was held today, inside this jail.
KING: Renee Rockwell, have changes -- are they making changes already in the security there?
RENEE ROCKWELL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTY.: It appears that there have been changes. I know, that at the courthouse on Monday morning, the lines to get in were extra long, because I think they were searching everybody very diligently. I don't know why, because nobody brought a gun into the courthouse. It appear there's enough guns in the courthouse already within arm's reach.
Also, today, I was in a court hearing that got transferred. It was in the old building, scheduled for the old building, but any hearings today that involved prisoners were all held in the new building. That, I've noticed.
KING: So, you will expect, Renee, there will be lots of changes?
ROCKWELL: Let's hope so. I certainly hope so. I would imagine that the judges that were sitting today probably all had guns on -- under their robe or, at least, at their desks.
KING: You were at the courthouse when it happened, right?
ROCKWELL: That's right.
KING: What do you remember?
ROCKWELL: I was on my way to Judge Barnes' courtroom. judge Barnes had more than just one thing going on and scheduled for that morning. At the time that this took place, there was a civil hearing going on. I was coming from the new building, I had just gotten off the elevator on the eighth floor, when I turned the corner I saw a number of deputies running towards me. And I made a joke to them, I said, did someone escape? I was just teasing them. But when I noticed that they were running with guns drawn and screaming, get out of the hallway, I knew something was wrong.
They grabbed me, pulled me into the elevator. A female prisoner put her hand on her head -- and put her head against the wall and was crying. And I said what happened? Please tell me what happened. She indicated that the defendant stole the gun from the deputy, and shot the judge. I said, oh, my God. What judge? What judge? When she said it was Judge Barnes, I knew exactly who it was. I knew that it was Brian Nichols.
KING: Chris Pixley, they did not formally ask for the death penalty yet, although you said it appeared from what the district attorney said, that's certainly what they're going to do, right?
CHRIS PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Yes. I don't think there's any question that they're going to ask for the death penalty, Larry. And really, Brian Nichols only chance of avoiding the death penalty may be the woman who actually led to his capture. Ashley Smith certainly will be one of the best witnesses for the prosecution. We know in particular, based on her statement the other night, that he, Brian Nichols, gave her information about the murder of David Wilhelm.
And since there were no witnesses to that murder, her testimony could be critical for the prosecution. But what's so interesting is that, her testimony could also be critical for the defense. This is a woman who humanizes Brian Nichols, who let us all see that he didn't want to do any more harm, that he felt badly over the murder at least of David Wilhelm. And that he couldn't believe that he had done things that he did. So, she becomes just a tremendously important character in this whole saga.
KING: Chris, after listening to his brother, does this make it even more bewildering?
PIXLEY: I think it is bewildering when you've got someone that's got this kind of education and background and family support. You know, one of the things that's been coming out in the local media here is, the fact, that he does come from a very good nuclear family, had a good upbringing, as well as, a good education.
But, this is what we see, time and again, that oftentimes these crime defy logic. And one of the real questions here that's been bounced around, will there be an insanity defense, an insanity plea? I think certainly his new defense counsel is going to ask for a mental evaluation. But everything that's come out about Brian Nichols, suggest that he was very deliberative. That he knew what he was doing, both before and after. And that he wasn't in any way delusional. So, that adds to the mystery of why someone with his background, and his support systems would do something like this.
KING: Now, Gary Tuchman, what's next? That was not an arraignment today, right? He didn't plead today?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. This was just a status hearing. That's what you said at the beginning of this show. All they said is, because of this rape indictment that you still have against you, you're going to have to stay in jail. And it's basically a poker game for the lawyers now, gives them time to formulate their charges, knowing he can stay in there, and they don't have to reveal their hand right now.
But, ultimately, what the district attorney here has already told us, is there will be four murder charges filed by the state. And the federal government is considering a federal charge because of the killing of the immigrations official.
KING: And a mistrial has been declared, Gary, in the rape case, right?
TUCHMAN: A mistrial has been declared in the rape case. But we can tell you that the county has the right to bring back the case. I will tell you, it would be very out of the ordinary and very unexpected if we ever see a rape trial. They don't want to say they're not going to do it, because they consider it insulting to the alleged victim. But ultimately, these charges are much more serious. It's very unlikely we'll ever see a rape trial. But because the indictment is still in place, this gentleman still has to stay in jail.
KING: Renee Rockwell, how do you -- after listening to the brother and the like, and knowing of the upbringing, how do you explain this to yourself?
ROCKWELL: It's -- it's -- no one at the Fulton County courthouse can -- can fathom what has happened. And you see this guy, he obviously is not an animal, like he acted. But he comes from -- he comes from a family, and -- and certainly, you have to feel sorry for the family. And you see that not only did he terrorize the families of Judge Barnes, and Julie Brandau, and Sergeant Teasely and Agent Wilhelm, but he's also impacted incredibly other families, including his own.
KING: Well said.
Chris, there was a memorial today?
PIXLEY: That's what -- my understand, Larry. I was not at the courthouse today. But yes, there was a memorial?
KING: Renee, were you there?
ROCKWELL: I was there briefly. I had to leave. I had to go to court. But just to let you know, I appeared in front of three judges today. And we were trying to do our hearings, and in open court, they would stop the hearings and just start talking about what happened at the courthouse, and how they can't wrap their minds around it. No one can accept it.
KING: Thank you all very much. Chris, you remain with us.
Renee Rockwell and Gary Tuchman, great job, we'll be calling on you again.
Chris will remain when we come back.
Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom, the Court TV legal commentator, and former prosecutor.
And Ted Rowlands our CNN correspondent who sat in hosting here so ably Friday and Saturday night, will join us to talk about and get us up to date on the Jackson trial and sentencing of Scott Peterson tomorrow.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: He told me that he didn't -- he didn't want to hurt the agent that he hurt. He had begged and pleaded with him to do things his way and he didn't, so he had to kill him. He said that he didn't shoot the deputy, that he hit her, and that he hoped she lived. He showed me a picture of the agent that he did kill. And I tried to explain to him that he killed a 40-year-old man that was probably a father.
KING: Remaining with us in Atlanta, defense attorney Chris Pixley. Joining us from New York, Kimberly Guilfoyle-Newsom, the former prosecutor and court TV legal commentator, and in San Francisco, our own Ted Rowlands, CNN correspondent.
Ted, today's events -- did the state rescue the boy?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, that's a good question, Larry.
I think that one thing can be said about the boy in the Jackson case -- he's now finished his testimony, at least for now -- is that he was much more compelling than his sister and his brother, and I think that he connected with the jury for the most part.
That said, Thomas Mesereau, Jackson's attorney, was able to get him a few times on cross-examination, exposing some inconsistencies. One of them, the amount -- the number of alleged sexual assaults that he first told police Jackson performed on him was five and then that came down to two.
The other thing was he was asked by his school, school administrator, whether or not he had been sexually abused by Michael Jackson after the Bashir special and he said no. His explanation for that was he didn't want to be teased at school. Clearly, it's going to come down to this victim. It's going to be the jurors' responsibility to try to sift through this and sift through the family itself, because the defense is alleging that this victim and the family members are all conspiring against Jackson, and they're after money. It's going to be very difficult for this jury to weed it all out, but clearly the victim -- more believable than his brother or sister.
KING: Kimberly, is the prosecution in trouble?
KIMBERLY: Great question, Larry, and I'll tell you, if the case were to be all said and done today, yes, Michael Jackson would be acquitted of these charges. That's my opinion after reading all of these pages of transcripts and hearing all the reports.
The bottom line is, there is more to come. With that being said, guess who else still has to testify? The mother, the most problematic witness for the prosecution. The jury already has an unsavory opinion of her. How can they not? The D.A. in this case, Tom Sneddon, warned them in the opening statement that they would hear things about this mother.
Right now, we have two decisions to make: do you believe this accuser, or do you believe the defense, that he was put up to it, coached by his mother, who the defense is alleging is greedy, and money-grubbing, and wanted to use Michael Jackson for his quote- unquote "deep pockets."
However, Larry, with that being said, there still may be corroboration and they're going to need it. The prosecution better hope that the allegations come in from the 1993 accuser and the case following that, if they are to survive -- and computer records to document some of the pornography.
KING: Chris, will those '93 records, in which Jackson settled a case, will that come in?
CHRIS PIXLEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don't think it should, Larry. I don't think that it's proper to allow it in, it is too remote in time. I also have a serious question about whether or not that '93 accuser wants to be dragged into all of this, and, of course, while the D.A. is working with him and talking to him and trying to get him in there, they're dealing with the fact their case is not setting up very well.
And Kimberly's right, while she says there's more to come, the more to come right now is the mother, a woman who's brought three other false imprisonment charges against other people, who's brought sexual assault claims against four others at other points in time. If my choice is between a man who allows children to sleep in his bed and family that has a history of cons and lying, I take the defendant, thank you.
KING: Ted, is the mood at the courthouse more upbeat now for the Jackson team?
ROWLANDS: Well, you know, not really, because of last week, when Michael Jackson was late. He showed up in his pajamas. That added an odd feeling to this whole thing. This was the day before the accuser was going to get into the nitty-gritty, or the day of, where Jackson all of a sudden didn't show up.
The days proceeding were very upbeat. Jackson's spokesperson, Raymone Bain, who -- you've had her on the show here -- she went from "no comment," "no comment" to, Let's talk about the great case, and you could really feel the enthusiasm from the Jackson camp. When Michael had his problems last Friday, that changed -- or last Thursday, that changed. Now it may be coming back a bit.
But safe to say, that's another thing everybody has to keep in mind, is can Michael Jackson endure this entire trial? Many more episodes like this that we had last week could be a problem.
KING: Kimberly, why is this going to take months?
GUILFOYLE-NEWSOM: You know, Larry, this case is moving along a lot quicker than people thought. We saw that indicated with the quick selection of the jurors in this case. I think it's going to wrap up much faster. Of course, we don't know exactly what the defense has in store but Thomas Mesereau has thought this out -- well thought-out -- about who he's going to call and what he needs to put on. We should expect to hear from Michael Jackson if the D.A. is able to successfully get in the prior allegations of abuse and those computer records, I think Jackson will be compelled to testify and that could definitely extend this trial.
Now, I will you tell you, Larry, we should expect to hear from Michael Jackson if the D.A. is able to successfully get in the prior allegation of abuse and those computer records. I think Jackson will be compelled to testify, and that could definitely extend this trial.
KING: Chris, won't he in a sense -- it's not a capital crime, he's not charged with murder -- it's he says, she says, he says -- won't he have to testify?
PIXLEY: Well, you know, if it was anyone other than Michael Jackson, you'd say absolutely, I want them to testify. There's no physical evidence here at all. The crime that's been charged is not one that would bear out physical evidence, so you would want to put your defendant on the stand, but of course you would want a defendant on the stand and in the courtroom on a daily basis who wears a tie, who wears a suit, and presents like someone who is a responsible adult, and you don't really have that here.
So, I think that Tom Mesereau is probably going to start with the best evidence that he has, and of course, he's got documents from the Department of Child and Family Services that show that while this alleged abuse was ongoing, the experts in California were actually investigating and found there was no basis for it. He's going to go forward with that kind of evidence, and if he thinks that ultimately he needs Michael to testify to do the he-said, she-said, then he will put him up. But I'm not sure that that's going to happen as yet.
GUILFOYLE-NEWSOM: And Larry, he's really risky to put on the stand. Look at him, it looks like Mary Poppins had a pajama party. What's going on? What kind of image and opinion will the jury form of this man, unless he's going with the, I'm so eccentric, I can't help myself, defense. He's a wildcard and I don't even think Mesereau can control him.
KING: We'll come back and discuss...
I'm sorry, what? Go ahead.
ROWLANDS: Well, you know, the one thing about Michael Jackson -- we've talked about this before -- is if another man his age claimed that he was sleeping with children and it was OK, that wouldn't fly, but with Michael Jackson, he does have, because of -- he is a bit odd and eccentric -- that is his defense.
We saw in the Bashir documentary, it may be unsettling to some, but on the stand, he may be able to pull that off, whereas a normal 40 something-year-old man getting up there and saying that would be hung instantly in the middle of the town square. So, he may take the stand.
KING: We'll take a break and come back and discuss the Peterson sentencing right after this. Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: Now, the Scott Peterson matter. Kimberly, what's going to happen tomorrow?
GUILFOYLE-NEWSOM: Well, tomorrow is going to be a big day. And I spoke with sources close to the prosecution. And tomorrow what we're going to do is we're going to hear from Judge Delucchi. And he is going to have to decide a big question, which is, the motion for new trial, will he grant it or not?
The defense, of course, has filed a 122-page motion alleging some 13 different reasons why is this case should be reversed. One of them insufficiency of the evidence, in addition, the denial for change of venue, the discovery of exculpatory evidence that wasn't made available to the defense to name a few. And of course, one of my favorites on the appellate grounds is removal of the two jurors, including the foreperson in this case.
I expect that the judge will hear those arguments, deny the motion, proceed with formal sentencing and we'll get on to the victim impact statements from people such as Sharon Rocha and Ron Grantski and Laci's father.
KING: And then what, Chris? Does Scott get to make a statement?
PIXLEY: Well, I don't think that we're going to hear any statement from Scott Peterson. And I don't have any inside information one way or the other on that. But what I can tell you is that I agree wholeheartedly, Judge Delucchi is ultimately not going to grant a new trial here.
And the question is, are these arguments strong enough to hold up on appeal. Scott Peterson will have to exhaust his state remedies before he can go for a federal appeal. And somewhere along the way someone is going to have to hear this argument that Kimberly raised of the Brady violations, the failure to turn over exculpatory evidence.
If you remember, Larry, back in mid-July of this last year, at one point, Judge Delucchi actually tossed witnesses out and said the prosecution is so egregious in their failure to turn over evidence before their putting people on the stand, failing to tell the defense who their witness were and what their testimony was and give them advance notice that he was actually throwing people out. That may ultimately be the strongest argument. But I don't think that Delucchi, having done that, is going to grant on his own accord, a new trial.
KING: Ted Rowlands, any chance that he'll give him life?
ROWLANDS: I severely doubt it. Every legal analyst, I'm sure that both attorneys on this show right will agree that the odds of Judge Delucchi going against the jury recommendation of death are very low. And in fact, I was at San Quentin Prison today and they're ready to accept Scott Peterson in the next few days.
KING: What would prompt the judge to overrule a jury, Kimberly? What would be -- give me an example of when a judge would?
GUILFOYLE-NEWSOM: Larry, I have to tell you, I haven't seen a judge set aside a jury's recommendation in a death penalty case. I really have not seen it done. In this case, I don't feel there's sufficient grounds for him to do it. If he felt that there was a problem with the evidence, that the punishment did not fit the crime.
But guess what, Larry, in this case, we have two gruesome murders: Laci Peterson, and his own unborn son, baby Conner. In this case, I would say the judge is going to say the jury's recommendation of death in this case is going to stand because judges tend to feel jury's decisions in cases like this are a sacrosanct and should not be disturbed.
KING: Do you agree, Chris?
PIXLEY: I do. I mean, the only basis that I can see the judge overturning it on is an insufficiency of the evidence. There is not an insufficiency of the evidence here. You may not agree with the evidence. I, of course, have not agreed with the circumstantial nature of the evidence and the absolute lack of any forensic or physical evidence at the supposed crime scene, but with that said, the judge isn't going to overturn that. Those are arguments for the appellate court. I also think there are arguments about the warrants that were issued here. There are some good appellate arguments in this case, but not arguments that this judge is going to recognize.
KING: Ted, will it be telecast?
ROWLANDS: No, it will not. During the verdict and the original sentencing, there was an audio feed from the courtroom. This time around, though, there will be no feed at all, it will just be reporters running out of the courthouse to deliver the information. There will be a listening room set up for overflow. But there will be no audio or video of the formal sentencing.
KING: How long will it take, Kimberly, tomorrow?
GUILFOYLE-NEWSOM: You know, it could be anywhere -- the estimates we're getting are between one and maybe four to five hours. I don't think it's going to take that long, Larry. Of course, it depends on how many of Laci's family members speak. And under the law, Scott Peterson's parents don't have the right to give statements tomorrow. It is up to the judge's discretion. We'll see what calls Judge Delucchi makes though tomorrow.
KING: Wouldn't he tend, we only have a little while, Chris, to allow any statements when you're dealing with a man's life?
PIXLEY: I think so. And I think if you kind of follow the pattern that Judge Delucchi set out over these many months of this trial, he really bent over backwards for the defense in areas like this. So I think that if the Peterson family does want to speak, he will probably hear from them.
KING: We thank you all very much. This has been some hour. Chris Pixley, the defense attorney; Kimberly Guilfoyle-Newsom, the COURT TV legal commentator, one of the best; and Ted Rowlands, our CNN correspondent who has so ably has been covering so many things for us and sat in for us as host of this show last Friday and Saturday night.
Come back in a minute and tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING: Emotional show earlier tonight. As we had discussed in the waning moments, tomorrow night we'll look at the Peterson sentencing and take your calls and response to it.
Right now we turn our attention where we always turn our attention, to the man demands your attention, or as Arthur Miller said in "Death of a Salesman": "Attention must be paid!" And it must be paid to Aaron Brown, the host of "NEWSNIGHT."
So please, ladies and gentlemen around the world, give him your total attention.
Mr. Brown, please.
AARON BROWN, HOST, "NEWSNIGHT WITH AARON BROWN": Gosh, that was a Lee J. Cobb moment, Larry, thank you.
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