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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Legal Panel Discusses Scott Peterson Death Sentence; Robert Blake Acquittal
Aired March 16, 2005 - 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 high drama as Scott Peterson is sentenced to death, and his murdered wife's family lets him have it face to face.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, in the above entitled action, find the defendant, Robert Blake, not guilty of the crime of first degree murder of Bonny Lee Bakley.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Intense emotion as actor Robert Blake hears the stunning verdict in his own real life crime story. A jury clears him of murdering his wife. We'll have eye witness courtroom accounts and jurors from both trials next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Let's meet our panel for the opening segments as we look at the Peterson matter. They are: in Redwood City, Ted Rowlands, the CNN correspondent who was in the courtroom today for the sentencing; in Atlanta is Nancy Grace, the host of "NANCY GRACE" on CNN Headline News, the COURT TV anchor, former prosecutor who, by the way, is in Atlanta because earlier today she attended the memorial service for Judge Barnes, court reporter Julie Brandau, a friend of hers; Michael Cardoza is in Redwood City; the defense attorney was in the courtroom for the sentencing, the former Alameda County prosecutor; Catherine Crier, the COURT TV anchor who has a sensational new book out, "A Deadly Game: The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation"; and in Redwood City, Daniel Horowitz, defense attorney also in the courtroom for today's proceedings.
Let's give you an example of what took place today. Sharon Rocha, the mother of the late Laci Peterson testified and said -- one of the things she said was: "You decided to throw Laci and Conner away, dispose of them like they were just a piece of garbage. You were wrong. Dead wrong. The fact that you no longer wanted Laci did not give you the right to murder her. She was my daughter. I trusted you, and you betrayed me. You betrayed everybody."
Ted Rowlands, what was the reaction to that?
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'll tell you what, a lot of people in the courtroom were crying when Sharon Rocha was up there. It was a very emotional day all in all, Larry. It started with Brent Rocha, Laci Peterson's brother, getting up there. And he at one point admitted that he had bought a gun. And he had told Peterson that he decided not to kill him himself because he wanted to quote, "make him sweat."
Each member of the Rocha family got up and as you put it in the beginning, let him have it. Peterson for the most part was stoic, looking straight ahead. At one point, I saw him shake his head when Brent Rocha was on the stand. Peterson's father Lee, however, was not quiet, and didn't take it. He started calling Brent Rocha a liar, saying, you're a liar, you're a liar.
Well, Judge Alfred Delucchi immediately said, sir, I don't care who you are, be quiet or leave the courtroom. Lee Peterson got up and left the courtroom. And a few minutes later, Jackie Peterson left the courtroom as well. But a very, very emotional day for everybody in that courtroom, especially the Rocha family as they faced Scott Peterson face to face and said whatever they wanted to.
KING: Nancy Grace, why are jurors in the courtroom the day of sentencing since they have nothing to do?
NANCY GRACE, HOST, "NANCY GRACE": You know, Larry, I've seen it many, many times before. I think it's a sense of closure. They want to see what happens. I think also a lot of them expected Scott Peterson to actually address the court or the jury today. Didn't happen.
KING: The jury didn't have to be there, though, right?
GRACE: Absolutely not. They came of their own volition to see it through to the end.
KING: Another thing Sharon Rocha said today: "You're selfish, heartless and self centered. You're a coward and an evil murderer. We had to bury her without arms to hold Conner and a head to look at him."
Michael Cardoza, how did you react to all of that?
MICHAEL CARDOZA, DEFENSE ATTY.: It just ripped your heart out. One of the things that she said that really touched me was she said: "Scott, when they're about to put you to death, you look out the window, you look at Brooks Island and know that Laci and Conner are there to take you away." I'll tell you what, the courtroom was crying at that time.
KING: There was no doubt, Michael, that he was going to impose the death sentence, right?
CARDOZA: Oh, absolutely no doubt at all. He was going to do it. He denied the motion summarily. He then told the audience. He told Scott what he was going to do to him. Then he let the victim impact statements take place. A little bit out of order, I thought, but that's the way the court worked today.
KING: Catherine Crier, the COURT TV anchor, author of a new book "A Deadly Game: The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation," what's the top one or two things you discovered in this extraordinary work?
CATHERINE CRIER, COURT TV: Well, I think one was the cops were excoriated during the course of the trial. Detective Brocchini was even called the Mark Fuhrman of this case. Had they not treated this as a homicide because their gut told them to right away, that first 24 hours and less, the first 10 to 12 hours, evidence would have been moved. They wouldn't have got Scott on tape. But instead of treating it as a missing persons where you don't do much for the first 24-48, they were all over this case.
Secondarily, I think this gave the country a chance to really see a sociopath up close. From early on, I was calling Scott Peterson a classic sociopath. When you watch the flat affect, the lack of emotion, the glib behavior, the pathological lies, the manipulative conduct. This man is classic. And as I investigated the background in this case, the old girlfriends, the investigators' notes, really went through this, I think there is a portrait of a man with true psychological behavior problems.
KING: And other girlfriends are revealed in this book, by the way. Daniel Horowitz, the defense attorney -- I'll ask Daniel in a minute. Let's hear what Brent Rocha, Laci's brother, one of the things he said looking at Scott: "You're evil and still have the readiness to commit evil. How does it feel to be a baby killer? I think that my sister's head is probably rolling around the bottom of the bay. On January 4th, I bought a gun. I chose not to kill you myself to make you sweat it out."
What was Scott's reaction, Daniel, when he said that?
DANIEL HOROWITZ, DEFENSE ATTY.: Larry, I was sitting right behind Scott, just three rows from him, right behind the Peterson family. Scott, the whole time, Larry, just sat there without any emotion. He looked right at Brent, but he did not react.
You know, also, it was strange because, when Delucchi was going through the reasons that he would not spare Scott's life, Scott and Mark Geragos were leaning next to each other and chatting. They ignored Delucchi completely. Delucchi said, I'm not going to spare him. I'm going to impose death. And then Brent got up, and it was only when Brent started talking directly to Scott Peterson from 15 feet away that Scott looked up and started to pay attention.
KING: Amy Rocha, Laci's sister, said: "You have broken my heart and my whole family's heart. You are a monster for what you've done. You are a coward and a selfish person. You are a sick person who has no heart."
Ted Rowlands, why did the judge pronounce sentence before all of this? What's the purpose of this if you've already announced it?
ROWLANDS: ... indicated to the court that he was not -- that the merits were there, and he basically did say that he was going to impose the death penalty. And that was just the way he chose to do it and then allow the victim impact statements. After the impact statements were over, then Judge Delucchi officially sentenced Peterson to death and required that the warden at San Quentin take possession of Peterson within a 10-day period. We understand that he will most likely be at San Quentin well before that 10-day period is up.
KING: Was Peterson asked to stand when the judge said that?
ROWLANDS: No. He sat down the entire time. When the judge asked him if he wanted to say anything to the court, Mark Geragos asked the court for some time. And they conferred for a considerable amount of time, over a minute, which seemed an eternity in the courtroom because people were waiting and wondering is Scott going to say something? They conferred with each other, with co-counsel Pat Harris, and then Mark Geragos announced that there would be no statement at this time. But it looked like they were actually thinking about it and conferring on whether or not Peterson should say something.
KING: We'll be right back with more of our panel on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Later, the Robert Blake discussion will take place. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our family is going to make it. We're stronger because of this. And Scott got what he deserved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will justice be served? He's got one appeal. I certainly think we did everything right. I think the judge said that today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Nancy Grace, if he is ever executed, it will be by lethal injection. How many years down the road, if at all, will that happen?
GRACE: Well, that's quite a story, Larry. California gives you a choice. It's up to the defendant -- lethal injection or gas chamber. If the defendant refuses to choose, they get the needle, lethal injection.
Catch this, Larry. There's 641 people languishing on death row. California has 20 percent of the entire country's death row inmates, and they have executed 1 percent of the nation's inmates. So, I'm looking at about 17 years on the average in California.
KING: Dennis Rocha spoke today in court, Laci's father. And he said, "I never liked you. You're going to burn in hell for this. You're not going to lie to God." We're reading the statements as given to us by transcript.
Michael Cardoza, were they as bitter looking as they sounded?
CARDOZA: Oh, much more. I'm telling you, you could cut right through it. They were intense. They looked right at Scott. He did look right back at them.
And I'll tell you, Larry, there was a time when I looked at Scott, and I thought, are you going to say anything? Why didn't you respond to this? I almost expected, if you're not guilty, jump up and tell them, I didn't do this. Come on, if you didn't do it, jump up. And he didn't do that, you know. But yes, they were very intense.
KING: Catherine Crier, I know that as a judge -- and you're bound by the Constitution to believe in the presumption of innocence. You said all along you thought he was a sociopath.
What triggered that so early to think he was a killer? Why did you think that?
CATHERINE CRIER, COURT TV, AUTHOR: Well, from very early on, the first story we heard in public was, it's too cold to golf. I play golf; it's never too cold to golf. And you're certainly not going to go out to the middle of the bay when you've never been out there before to go fishing in that weather.
But, most importantly, it was the flat affect. From the first moment we saw him in public, there was the doll's eyes, the shark's eyes, if you will. No expression behind them. When he did express, it seemed forced and it seemed almost theatrical. Certainly, the Gloria Gomez interview, the Diane Sawyer interview, the tears turned on at will.
But even more important, when I had a chance to go back and start reading transcripts that never went to trial, particularly, Larry, transcripts between Scott and his parents -- that was inadmissible -- but you would be astonished at the conversations they had, which were 180 degrees from what any of us would expect family would be discussing during these sorts of events.
KING: And they're in your book?
CRIER: Oh, absolutely.
KING: Another thing said in court today was Ron Grantski, Laci's stepfather. He said, "The hardest thing I have to deal with is going back to New Year's Eve at the vigil in the park. A piece of --" and we're not going to put in the word he used "-- is what you are."
What, Daniel Horowitz, was the reaction of Scott to that?
HOROWITZ: The trouble with Scott, Larry, is that he never reacts. Here was a family one by one trying to get some reaction out of Scott Peterson, some remorse. And you know, they failed to get it, Larry.
That's the story of this trial. It's why the jurors hate him so much. You can feel it. And it's why the Rochas, I think, were so strong -- and Ron Grantski -- were so strong in their attacks today. It was their last chance to get remorse. They did not get it. And you will never hear remorse from Scott Peterson.
KING: All right, now, Daniel, if someone says they didn't do it, they may be sad over the death, but why would they be remorseful?
HOROWITZ: Well, Larry, you're correct. We're assuming that he did it. But he could have shown, as you say, sadness, early on in the trial when Sharon was testifying. He could have looked at her and said something like, I'm so sorry. Just muttered it. But I didn't do it. Anything. You can say those things in trial as a defendant. The judge says, don't do it. But let that out. But you know it, Larry, it's not in him. He really doesn't care.
KING: Sharon Rocha also said, get this, "I'm haunted every single day with images of you killing her. Did you look at her? What do you think Laci was thinking? Scott, why are you killing me? What are you doing? I love you. I want to be your wife. Please stop. I don't want to die. I don't want to die. Daddy, why are you killing us?"
Ted, was she crying?
ROWLANDS: Well, she was breaking up. She was basically assuming the personality of Laci at that point. She was talking for Laci and then for the baby, and she was breaking up. But most of the courtroom was crying, that's for sure, because this was heartfelt.
And I just -- it's hard to explain how emotional it was. The jurors that showed up were all crying in the jury box, and most of the folks on the Rocha side were having a tough time containing themselves. It was just very, very emotional. A mother talking to the person that she knows, believes that killed her daughter and grandson, and she went into detail about I'll never get to know my grandson, know what he would be for Halloween, what would be in his Easter basket, really tugging at everybody's heart strings in that courtroom.
KING: Nancy, if the judge has made a decision, what's the purpose of the impact statements?
GRACE: Well, Larry, a lot of people ask that, and, in fact, it's been fairly recent in California law that victim impact statements were allowed, and they're not allowed in every state, believe it or not.
I think it's a final way, sometime the only way, Larry, for victims of violent crime to be heard. Their emotions or the pain they feel, their suffering, is irrelevant at the guilt/innocence phase of the trial. They don't get to talk about any of this. You know, the Constitution protects the defendant, not the victim, and this is their chance to speak. KING: We'll take a break and be back with more. We'll meet one of the jurors who decided, of his own volition, to attend the sentencing today, and then more with the panel. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have some Christmas presents to open still? Have you kept those? Did you throw them out?
SCOTT PETERSON: No, no. They're in the corner. Luckily, a friend who came up and, you know, was helping took down the tree and things like that, things that I wouldn't be able to do. And that was very kind of her to do that when I was gone one day, just because it's a difficult reminder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. You're looking live at San Quentin Prison, the infamous or famous, San Quentin Prison, where death penalty prisoners in the state of California reside -- if that's the correct term. In the next segment, we'll talk with the spokesperson for the prison to tell us about what will happen with Mr. Peterson when he arrives.
Right now, checking in from New York is John Guinasso, Peterson juror No. 8. I erred and said he was at the -- he was the only juror probably not there today.
John, why didn't you attend?
JOHN GUINASSO, PETERSON JUROR NO. 8: I received a phone call from the Stanislaus County on Friday. And they were notifying me that Mr. Geragos had mentioned in one of his motions for a new trial that I was implemented. And I didn't want to be a negative media attraction to the other jurors. They deserve better than that. I wish to take another forum.
KING: Are you in the appeal then?
GUINASSO: I'm in one of his motions that he filed for a new trial.
KING: Saying that you did what?
GUINASSO: Saying that I had targeted maybe defense jurors.
KING: In other words, that you weren't fair?
GUINASSO: According to Mr. Geragos, that I wasn't fair. I was actually the opposite, I was very fair.
KING: Do you have any qualms about the sentence?
GUINASSO: No. The sentence is appropriate. It's -- I'm honored that Judge Delucchi stuck with our verdict.
KING: What, if anything, was the determining factor in this case, John?
GUINASSO: It's probably the most obvious, and that is where the bodies washed up. I can personally say for myself, if they would never have washed up, I could never have convicted Scott Peterson.
KING: So in other words, those bodies not found, there's no way he could have been -- you wouldn't have had a corpus delicti?
GUINASSO: Correct. It was two miles from where he went fishing, and for me, it wasn't a coincidence.
KING: Could he have helped himself if he took the witness stand?
GUINASSO: If Scott Peterson took the witness stand during the penalty phase, I would have voted life in prison. I wanted to hear from him. I wanted to hear some remorse. I never heard that.
KING: What about his whole demeanor? What do you make of it? The demeanor today, as you've heard it reported just now?
GUINASSO: It sounded just like every other day in the courtroom. Scott has a way of sort of the displacing himself from the arena in which he's in. It's like he's not the one on trial. He's very, very subdued at times. And at other times, he's -- he'll be laughing with his attorney. So it's -- but he's never taken anything serious, it looks like.
KING: Was it an ordeal for you, John?
GUINASSO: It was very much an ordeal, the case. I worked a grave yard shift from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. in the morning. And then I went to jury duty for 6 1/2 months.
GUINASSO: So I had to balance both of that.
KING: Thanks so much. John Guinasso, one of the jurors.
Back to our panel. Michael Cardoza, is anything you see as a defense attorney given a shot at an appeal here?
CARDOZA: Well, the one salient issue, I think, is the experiment with the boat. The jurors got into the boat. Judge Delucchi summarily dismissed that today. But that will be one of the big issues.
The other is just what John Guinasso talked about, and that's the replacement of those two jurors, Justin Falconer and the doctor/lawyer biologist. Why did they both leave?
I heard John Guinasso say on one of the local stations here say, if he thought if either one of those remained, it might have been a hung jury. That will be a big issue on appeal.
KING: Catherine Crier, author of "A Deadly Game: The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation," are you surprised that John had said if Peterson had taken the stand in the sentencing phase, he would have voted for life?
CRIER: Not at all. Actually, at the conclusion of my book, I take everyone all the way through the penalty phase of the case. In the book, which of course, went to print before this date, I said I expected Delucchi to, of course, impose the death penalty. I thought the jurors were very articulate when those who spoke out after the verdicts came down discussed their decision making.
But I also said just what John said, this man showed nothing. But at the penalty phase of the trial, had he come forward and even taken the stand and not admitted, but talked about remorse. If he had shown empathy throughout the course of this trial, if he had shown something to people when we were following the investigation, there could have been a human connection.
But a sociopath truly, truly feels no guilt or remorse or sorrow, and he simply cannot conjure those emotions.
KING: Ted Rowlands, was there any emotion for Scott today?
ROWLANDS: For Scott? Well, you could argue that Lee Peterson's outburst, telling Brent Rocha that he was a liar was some raw emotion for Scott, his son. And when Jackie Peterson got up, there was definite emotion in her face as she left the courtroom. And I think all of the Peterson family members were very emotional, and it was all directed for Scott.
These two families have completely divided. On one side of the courtroom, it was emotion for Scott, the other for Laci Peterson. And today, by far, the emotion on the side for Laci outpaced that for Scott Peterson. It was a very emotional day for the Rocha family, getting all of this off their chest and confronting Scott Peterson.
I think one thing should be pointed out. It's not just the family, but Scott Peterson claims he's innocent. So the fact that he didn't show remorse makes sense as you pointed out earlier, Larry. But what he didn't do too is declare his innocence. If Sharon Rocha was saying these types of things and you thought you were completely innocent and that was your situation, as Michael pointed out, boy, you'd think that he would get up and say, I'm innocent. I didn't do it.
But nothing, just no emotion at all.
KING: Nancy, why would you gather he wouldn't make a statement?
GRACE: Well, for appeals issues. If he got up and started talking, maybe something he would say would hurt him in the appeals process. I doubt it. But that is a real risk.
Another thing regarding this reversal issue, there was 120-page motion for new trial filed in this case.
And regarding the boat, Larry, which is one of the issues, there's -- you expect the jury to handle, play with, get in, test the evidence. That's why, Larry, I would never send bullets back with a gun to the jury room. I'd be afraid they'd shoot the thing. It's natural curiosity.
Plus, Delucchi was there when the jurors saw the boat. I'm sure he protected the record.
KING: We'll take a break and be back with more. We'll meet a spokesperson for San Quentin prison to talk about what Scott Peterson might expect.
And then a major discussion about the verdict in Robert Blake's case. If you missed it, not guilty. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We went in, and we saw last June an innocent man. We sat there, many of us -- I know I did -- saying, what's this poor kid doing here? Well, we found out what he was doing there, didn't we? It was all no emotion. It was all fact. So anybody who disagrees with the verdict, you have a right to disagree. But if you weren't there, you don't know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is a jerk. And I have one comment for Scott, you look somebody in the face when they're talking to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guess what, Scotty?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: San Quentin's your new home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it's illegal to kill your wife and child in California.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining us in San Quentin, prison spokesperson for the prison, Vernell Crittendon. A return visit for Vernell. Nice to have him with us.
Is Scott Peterson going to -- get any special treatment getting there for security reasons?
VERNELL CRITTENDON, SPOKESPERSON, SAN QUENTIN PRISON: Well, good evening to you, Larry.
KING: Hi. CRITTENDON: It's good to have you back with us again. No. Actually, we've dealt with a number of high profile cases over the decades here at San Quentin, as I'm sure you're aware. Just recently we received in Stuart Alexander (ph). The media called him the "Sausage King." He arrived here the day after Valentine. Just this Friday, the Hertz (ph) brothers both arrived here, Justin, and I think Bryant was the other one, and they're here on death row. So we have a number of people that are -- gotten high notoriety.
KING: What happens -- when do you expect him to arrive?
CRITTENDON: We believe that the San Mateo sheriffs will be bringing him here to death row, and he'll arrive before the weekend. And he'll be here with us on death row.
KING: Before this weekend. No special treatment of any kind. He'll get what any other death row prisoner would get going in?
CRITTENDON: Yes, he's going to be pretty much isolated away, just as they all are, when he arrives. And be placed in that 41 square foot cell. And he'll be spending most of his time inside of that cell alone.
KING: Any things done the first two days. Is there a installment policy or you're just put in your cell?
CRITTENDON: Well, there's a great deal of assessment that goes on, Larry. Those first 30 days, maybe even as much as 60 days, that we're going to be doing assessments of Scott Peterson. Psychological profiling on him. We'll be looking at his mental state. We'll be assessing his I.Q. level. We're going to be trying to identify that group of death row inmates that are going to be most compatible. As you know, we divided the 640 plus death row inmates into six separate exercise groups. And he'll be identified to go into one of those six groups. And then that will be the group of men that he will spend the rest of his life with.
KING: Do they eat together too?
CRITTENDON: Oh, no, he will spend all of that time in his cell alone. He eats his meals alone. He will shower alone. The only time he will have an opportunity to socialize with any persons other than our staff, and that will be on his exercise period. And if by some chance he opts to be a part of our religious program, then he'll be allowed to go to religious program. Again, only with that group of compatible inmates we've identified.
KING: And how about visitors?
CRITTENDON: Well, you know, visiting -- everyone on death row has to have access to legal counsel. So we allow the legal counsel to come in Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. And the loved ones, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we'll have the visiting room available to them.
KING: Thanks, Vernell, we'll be checking back with you right after he checks in. Vernell Crittendon, spokesperson for San Quentin.
Nancy Grace, is that pretty standard, that if you're on death row, it's different than anywhere else in a prison?
GRACE: Absolutely. And you know, it's got to be a very unusual situation for someone to get special treatment behind bars, especially on death row. As he pointed out, a lot of high profile defendants on death row there in San Quentin. They all get treated the same. A lot is going to depend on which group, which yard, as it is sometimes called, that he goes into that's going to affect the rest of his life.
KING: Catherine Crier, that's a rough prison, isn't it? I mean, death row is rough anyway. But isn't San Quentin pretty notorious?
CRIER: Absolutely, it certainly is. And on top of that, within any prison system, murdering your wife, it happens a lot, I hate to say. But when you get to murdering children, molesting children, these sorts of crimes, even thieves have honor. And he's going to be down at the bottom rung. Even though he may be among prisoners who are "compatible," he still may have to watch his back.
KING: Ted Rowlands, are you surprised that he's going so soon?
ROWLANDS: No. They want to get him there as soon as possible. I'm sure you can hear there's a fire alarm out here at the courthouse, so I'll keep it short. But yes, Peterson's going to be out of here in the next couple of days.
KING: Michael Cardoza, the -- he said the lawyers are open to visit him. Do you expect them to be there a lot?
CARDOZA: I don't know if they'll be there a lot. I'm sure at the beginning Geragos and Harris will go visit him. After that, remember, the appellate lawyer that's going to take his case probably won't be appointed for some four years. There's not a plethora of appellate lawyers here in California. So, it's going to take about that long just to get him an appellate lawyer. So will he have a lot of lawyer visits, no.
KING: Thank you all very much. And thank you, Daniel Horowitz, for outstanding work for us as well.
Ted Rowlands, Nancy Grace, Michael Cardoza, Catherine Crier who's book is "The Deadly Game: The Untold Story of the Scott Peterson Investigation," and Daniel Horowitz.
We're going to hold Nancy Grace and Michael Cardoza with us, and Vinnie Politan of Court TV will join us as we look at the Robert Blake verdict. We'll also have a couple of jurors in that case right, which just was adjudicated today, right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Superior Court of the State of California, county of Los Angeles. People of the state of California vs. Robert Blake. We, the jury, in the above entitled action, find the defendant, Robert Blake, not guilty of the crime of first degree murder of Bonny Lee Bakley, in violation of penal code section 187, subsection A, as charged in count 1 of the information. This 11th day of...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Nearly 4-years-ago, Bonny Lee Bakley was murdered. Her husband Robert Blake was charged with that murder and was acquitted today. Three out of 4 counts, on the fourth count, it was 11-1 for acquittal, and the judge threw that one out as well. Robert Blake is a free man.
To discuss it, Vinnie Politan of COURT TV. He covered the Blake trial. He was at the courthouse today. Nancy Grace in Atlanta remains with us. She hosts "NANCY GRACE" on CNN Headline News. Michael Cardoza, the defense attorney, is in Redwood City. But he'll remain with us too. We'll also talk with Roberto Emerick who was Blake juror no. 11. And Cecilia Maldonado, who was is Blake juror no. 7. Before we talk with them, first, a quick comment from Vinnie Politan.
What was it like when that news came down outside the courthouse today, Vinnie?
VINNIE POLITAN, COURT TV: It was amazing, because so many people in these cases, there's almost a presumption that the person did it and they're going to be found guilty, especially in these high profile cases. We've seen it a lot. Well. here today, Robert Blake walked out of that courthouse a free man. Even came outside, and that's where he broke out a pair of wire cutters and cut off that monitor bracelet that he was wearing on his ankle that was keeping track of where he was during the course of this trial.
So really a momentous day for Robert Blake. The question is though, Larry, what's life going to be like for him now? Are people going to look at him as a guy who got off, a guy who beat the system, or a guy who may be not guilty and actually innocent?
KING: All right. Roberto Emerick, first of all, as a juror, what took so long?
ROBERTO EMERICK, ROBERT BLAKE JUROR: Good evening, Larry. It was just that we had to -- we were meticulous about going through all of the evidence that was given to us, whether it was the testimony or whether it was his bank statements. And, you know, when we came back right after the -- they were finished giving us everything they had to give us, we took a vote, and it was 11-1.
And so what we had to do was not argue about it. We just went on and started going bit by bit. And we probably filled up a good three chalk boards full of all the information we had, and we sat back and looked at it.
KING: Cecilia, was it then (ph) the convincing of that one?
CECILIA MALDONADO, ROBERT BLAKE JUROR: Pardon me? (CROSSTALK)
KING: ... to convincing that one juror?
MALDONADO: Oh, yes, for count two? Well, basically, we deliberated and rechecked our evidence and went thoroughly over everything. And when we realized that it would not change as far as count two is concerned, we all decided that that's the way it should stay.
KING: All right. Roberto, are we saying tonight that, in your opinion as a juror, Robert Blake didn't do this or the state didn't prove it?
EMERICK: Well, I've just got to tell you right off the bat. As I was going through this trial, it was very emotional, and it took a couple years off my life. And what I did was I chronolized (ph) everything and I put it on a CD. And here it is, "Judgment Day." And it's available live on webtv.com. As far as answering your question, if you can repeat that again, I will.
KING: Do you believe he did it, or do you believe the state didn't prove it?
EMERICK: Well, as far as I'm concerned we did not -- we found him not guilty. We didn't find him innocent. We found him not guilty.
KING: How would you answer that question, Cecilia?
MALDONADO: Well, the burden of proof fell heavily on the state. They did not prove to us that he was a guilty man. There were no prints on the gun. The GSR just didn't match. So it definitely pointed towards not guilty. You're an innocent person when you walk into a courtroom, and the burden falls on the state to prove that you, in fact, are guilty, and that did not happen here.
KING: Roberto, was there a lot of arguing?
EMERICK: Not really. Once we got in, and we went right off the bat and we took a vote before we discussed anything. We took a vote, and it was 11-1 not guilty. So instead of trying to persuade the other person, what we did immediately is we went to trying to go through all of the information. And once we had the information all in front of us, after, you know, separating the nonsense from what was, you know, fact, it was kind of evident to everybody in the room how we had to go.
KING: Cecilia, therefore, you will sleep well tonight?
MALDONADO: Yes, I will. I feel confident in my decision. I will sleep well. It has been a long trying event. But I feel good with my results.
KING: Thank you, Roberto Emerick and Cecilia Maldonaldo, Blake jurors No. 11 and 7. Nancy Grace, as a prosecutor, of course, you weren't involved in this case, what's your reaction to what the jurors had to say?
GRACE: I'm speechless that this guy Roberto Emerick, don't tell me he's giving away those CDs. I'm sure, although I haven't logged on to try to buy one, that he's making money off the blood of Bonny Lee Bakley? I'm stunned, I'm stunned that a juror throughout the trial was making a CD to put online to sell.
KING: But that doesn't mean Blake did it.
GRACE: No, absolutely not. That was my first reaction. My second reaction is, you know what, Larry, people always say how do you win a case? You win it in jury selection. And frankly, there are two excuses right there why the state lost the case, who they put in the jury box.
KING: Is it possible, in your wildest imagination, dear Nancy, that Robert didn't do it and the jury believed he didn't do it?
GRACE: It's possible. But I'll tell you why it's not probable, the time line. The time line, Larry. He leaves his wife out in the car. He goes in the restaurant, comes back out. Then some super sneaky guy comes, kills his wife, after he's asked six people to do for him. And the killer didn't go far, Larry. They left the murder weapon about six feet away in a Dixie (ph) dumpster.
Hmm, you know, to me, it was open and shut. But yes, I think it's possible he's not guilty.
KING: Michael Cardoza, they were 11-1 on the first vote before even discussing it. That would seem that they thought he wasn't guilty.
CARDOZA: Well, you had one that apparently said he was guilty, and as the juror said, then they started to go slowly through the evidence. Interesting, you know, what they really did here, and one of the jurors said it, we didn't say he was innocent, we said he was not guilty, meaning the state didn't prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
And on one sense, I sort of agree with Nancy that he might have done it, probably did it, but the state didn't prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. And then when I hear a juror talk about that CD, I had somewhat the same reaction as Nancy, and that brings me to, you know, have we changed as a society where we let jurors come into these high profile cases thinking, you know, I could make a lot of money here. So I'll sit here. And What's the best verdict that will make me money? We've really got to look at our system.
KING: That is sad, guilty or not guilty. Vinnie Politan, what's your reaction to what the jurors had to say?
POLITAN: Well, I listened to the jurors in their press conference and the foreman said, you know what, the prosecution couldn't put the gun in Robert Blake's hand. And that became, I think, the biggest issue for this jury, the fact that the gun seemed to be covered with this oily substance, yet there's no oily substance on Robert Blake.
The GSR, the gunshot residue, didn't register on his hand as much as there should have been if, in fact, he was the trigger person. So I think that was a key piece of evidence for the defense. And it just shows how difficult it is to prosecute someone. You have that burden, beyond a reasonable doubt. So, I mean, it's a tough burden to overcome, and you really need the evidence, and it wasn't there in the eyes of this jury.
KING: And then they couldn't prove, Vinnie, that someone else did it for Robert Blake.
POLITAN: No. And the thing is the state's theory is that Robert Blake was the one who did it. So they needed to have that evidence that Robert Blake pulled the trigger. He was holding the gun. He's the one that did it. And it just wasn't there.
KING: We'll take a break and come back.
KING: I'm sorry. You were going to say something, Michael?
CARDOZA: Yes, Larry. They didn't charge an aiding and abetting, as Vinnie said. Either the jury believed he pulled the trigger or it's a not guilty. No aiding and abetting was charged here.
KING: They did introduce witnesses who said he had asked to have her killed, right?
CARDOZA: Well, that was the solicitation count, and they even said on those two -- remember, those two were horrible witnesses. One of the guys was hallucinating. They were drug users. No jury was going to believe them. So they really did have horrible witnesses for those particular counts.
KING: We'll take a break and be back with some remaining moments, and we'll include some phone calls or two. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT BLAKE, ACTOR: I'm going to go out and do a little cowboying. Do you know what that is? No, you don't know what that is. Cowboying is when you get in a motorhome or a van or something like that, and you just let the air blow in your hair, and you just roam around and get some revitalization that there are human beings in the world, that there are people living their lives that have no agenda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT BLAKE, ACTOR: I've been involved in a world where, you know, the mafia is saying, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Well, in this world that I've been in, it's very much that way. People drift from one side to the other in five minutes, and you never know where you are, or who's on your side, or who's not on your side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's take a call. Jackson, California, hello.
Caller: Hello, Larry.
KING: I can't hear you.
Caller: Nancy, I'd like to send my condolences on the loss of your friends in Atlanta.
Also, what is this guy doing trying to profit already from the CD? I thought they couldn't for 90 days.
GRACE: I thought that, too. And that's not even the question -- Larry asked him -- before he would even answer the question, he had to hold up his CD.
KING: Can you not profit for 90 days, or is that not true?
GRACE: No, I think that's actually a statute. I had thought that Judge Delucchi in Peterson had come up with that on his own when he told the jury they could not profit within 90 days, not even a limo drive or a fruit basket. Then I found out there's actually a statute about that. But apparently, it's not stopping this guy, Roberto Emerick.
KING: Michael, what do you -- do you know of any statute?
CARDOZA: There is one that I understand, for 90 days they can't profit. Personally, I think it should be longer, because, remember, at the beginning of Peterson, they talked about stealth jurors. Jurors try to get on -- they hear this -- they can make money, they can write books. I think we should ban it for about a year. That way, when the year's up -- you know, Peterson in a year will be forgotten about, and nobody will want the books or anything to do with it. So why give jurors motivation? Stop that. Make them come on and be altruistic about their verdict.
KING: Vinnie, in retrospect, if they voted 11 to 1 immediately before even discussing it, was that then obvious to you that the state didn't do its job?
And it's not so much they didn't do its job. Maybe the evidence wasn't there for them to present to this jury. You know, there were great closing arguments by the prosecution in this case. They put the witnesses in there. They dealt with what they had. And the hand they were dealt just wasn't strong enough for these witnesses.
And it's such a burden for a jury because, if you find Robert Blake guilty, that's the end of his life as he knows it. Even though it's not a death penalty, he's going to be in prison for the rest of his life. He won't get to see his daughter. He won't get to see friends and family. So they know what the outcome is. So it's such a great burden. They took it seriously. They deliberated for 36 hours, and they came to their decision.
KING: Nancy, is it poss -- will the state give pause -- does it ever say, maybe we shouldn't have brought this case? Or maybe we should have gotten better evidence?
GRACE: Well, you know, Larry, they may say maybe we should have gotten better evidence if it was there to be gotten, but the other thing is this, Larry. I've had loser cases before, and you can't just throw the file in the trash can because you think you might lose the case.
If you believe the crime happened, you have a duty to take the case to trial if the person won't plead guilty. You know, you got to take your witnesses as you find them, including these two stuntmen that really were terrible on the stand.
KING: Michael Cardoza, does that mean the police will continue to investigate the death of Bonny Bakley?
CARDOZA: And I'll tell you, I don't think so. They think that he did it. What happened was, as we said earlier, they didn't prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. And think about it: if they go and try to put this on somebody else, think of the great arguments the defense attorneys would have.
But I disagree with Nancy. If a D.A. looks at a case and he knows he can't prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, even if he or she in their heart of hearts believes the person to do it, do they really have an obligation to bring it before a jury knowing they don't have enough evidence? I don't think so.
GRACE: Well, in my mind, if there has been an arrest in the case, police thought there was evidence. If a grand jury hands down an indictment and you look at the case and you believe, you're convinced the person did the deed, then I think you should take it to trial. Let a jury say no. But it's not up to a prosecutor to be a judge and a jury.
CARDOZA: Nancy, you believe when they're arrested sometimes, you know, that they're guilty.
GRACE: And you believe they're innocent. So what?
CARDOZA: No, I don't, Nancy. That's not true. You know, I've prosecuted, too. I probably prosecuted a lot more cases than you have, and I don't believe that. There are just some cases where you don't have to --
GRACE: Well, this isn't about what you and I think. This is about Robert Blake.
CARDOZA: You just said that, though. You said that if you believe a person's guilty, prosecute them. That's what you just said, Nancy.
GRACE: Take it to a jury. You're darn right.
KING: Well, of course, everybody is innocent until a jury or a judge decides that. The prosecutor doesn't decide guilt, nor does the defense attorney, nor does the public. Nor do we even, the media.
Nancy Grace, Vinnie Politan, Michael Cardoza, thank you so much. And we thank our jurors. I'm sure Nancy is rushing to the web site to buy that tape.
I'll be back in a couple minutes and we'll tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING: Sad note tonight. Walter Cronkite's wife of 64 years passed away. Mary Elizabeth Cronkite, better known as Betsy, was 89 years old, complications of cancer. She died at the couple's Manhattan apartment. She is survived by two daughters, a son, four grandsons, and the wonderful newscaster, Walter Cronkite. Our condolences to the entire Cronkite family.
Tomorrow night, our topic will be depression. We'll have a major panel discussion with a doctor and five guests, all of whom suffer or have suffered from depression.
No depression when we turn the tables over to Paula Zahn, who will sit in tonight for Aaron Brown and anchor "NEWSNIGHT." She has a very special hour coming up. There she is.
Paula, it is my honor to turn it over to thou.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, thank you very much for your graciousness. Always good to see you, Larry. Appreciate it.
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