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Police Try to Find Missing Bride-to-Be; Michael Jackson Trial Continues
Aired April 29, 2005 - 20:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight, she was set to walk down the aisle and meet the groom in about 20 hours from right now. Instead, hundreds of police, volunteers, and bloodhounds are tracking bride-to-be Jennifer Wilbanks. The pieces of the puzzle are not fitting together tonight.
And in the Michael Jackson trial, after a disaster witness named Debbie Rowe -- Jackson`s ex-wife on the stand yesterday -- the state pulls a Hail Mary in court for a comeback. Trial judge Rodney Melville overrules the defense. And he allows the jury to see sexually explicit photo-books of nude boys taken from Michael Jackson`s ranch.
And tonight, will a convicted killer walk free because of some buttons worn in court?
Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. Thank you for being with us tonight.
Stunning comeback for the state in the Michael Jackson trial today. Over strenuous objection by the defense, the jury saw photo-books full of nude boys seized from Jackson`s ranch in 1993.
Murder victim Tom Studer`s family wore button-like pins over their hearts with Studer`s picture on them every day to court. And now, thanks to the kooky Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, will a convicted killer walk free?
And we need your help tonight. The search for bride-to-be Jennifer Wilbanks grows increasingly desperate by the hour. Hundreds of friends and relatives set to attend her wedding in less than 24 hours. Word tonight the wedding will now be a prayer vigil.
Tonight, in L.A., defense attorneys Debra Opri and David Wohl. Here in Atlanta, defense attorney Renee Rockwell.
But first, to CNN reporter Jonathan Freed.
Jonathan, bring us up-to-date, friend.
JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Nancy.
I should tell you right now that we`re standing here in Duluth, Georgia. And there are a number of people around us, including members of the two families that have been affected by this, as well as the pastor that was supposed to marry this couple tomorrow. It is a very emotional time.
Just standing near these people you cannot help but be humbled by what is going on in this town, by the outpouring of warmth and support that this town is offering to these people.
Now, that being said, earlier today, there were two very poignant news conferences that happened here in Duluth. The first one happened by the families themselves. They came out to say that they were offering a $100,000 reward for any information that might lead and help bring Jennifer Wilbanks home.
You`ll remember that she went missing on Tuesday evening, after she went jogging at around 8:30. After about an hour or so, her fiance, John Mason, became very concerned, started looking for her on foot. When that didn`t work, he started checking hospitals. After a while he called police, and a search was triggered immediately.
It has been three days -- just about three days since that time, Nancy, and still no sign of her. And police are telling us today no evidence so far has been found that a crime of any kind has been committed.
Now, the families also pointed out today that John Mason, Jennifer Wilbanks` fiance, did submit to a lie-detector test, a polygraph test. This was done by a private examiner. And they reported to us today that he passed that test.
Police, Nancy, though, want him to take one of their own, and there is some negotiating going on as to exactly when and how that might happen.
GRACE: Very quickly to Renee Rockwell, veteran criminal defense attorney. Private polygraph, police polygraph, what`s the difference?
RENEE ROCKWELL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Nancy, the private polygraph is obviously something that the defense attorney or his attorney has set up for him. The police polygraph, my understanding is that that while they`re negotiating to take it, they want him -- they would like to take it videotaped and in a neutral location.
My understanding is that the fiance has agreed to take it. And the police will allow them to take it in a neutral location, but they do not want the video -- I don`t understand why they wouldn`t want it videotaped.
GRACE: Back to Jonathan Freed, is that true? Who administered the polygraph? And why did police refuse to videotape that polygraph, as Renee has reported?
FREED: Well, what we heard today was a discussion going -- what we heard from the police is that the Mason family were willing to have this polygraph test conducted by the police but they want it in a neutral location, which I understand the police didn`t have an issue with. But the Mason family wanted this to be videotaped, and that`s the extent of what we know at this point.
GRACE: Another question. Could you tell me, Jonathan, what was the fiance doing at the time she was jogging? Was he there in the home? Does he have an alibi?
FREED: Well, the police were asked that yesterday. And the police chief made it clear that they have no reason to suspect that John Mason was anywhere but at home, the way he said he was.
GRACE: Tonight, we have exclusive footage of the father here. This is Jennifer Wilbanks` father. Right now take a listen. Excuse me. I`m...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS WILBANKS, FATHER OF MISSING WOMAN: My son took a polygraph examination this morning, a private one...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Hi. With us right now is Harris Wilbanks.
Sir, thank you for being with us.
WILBANKS: You`re welcome.
GRACE: Sir, I want you to know, first of all, so many prayers are with you tonight. Could you tell us your take on the search for Jennifer as of tonight?
WILBANKS: Well, as of tonight, it`s my understanding that the search has been called off. They feel like they`ve covered every inch of a five- square-mile area. And we`ve turned over what we think is every leaf in the area. And we have found nothing, other than the few items that was mentioned earlier in the press conference today.
GRACE: With us, everyone, is Harris Wilbanks. Mr. Wilbanks is the father of Jennifer Wilbanks.
Sir, we are flashing her photo for viewers to take a look. Mr. Wilbanks, this sounds completely unlike Jennifer to just disappear. I just don`t believe it`s a case of cold feet.
WILBANKS: Right now, I would hope and pray it would be a case of cold feet.
GRACE: Yes, sir.
WILBANKS: I don`t think that`s what it is, but I would certainly welcome that at this point in time.
GRACE: I would too, Mr. Wilbanks. Your daughter, a marathon runner. There`s no telling how far she had run, except she said she`d be back in 40 minutes, right?
WILBANKS: She ran cross-country in high school, which is, I think, is a little over three miles. She ran track. She ran the one-mile and the two-mile. And she did run the Chicago marathon, which I think is a 26-mile thing.
But she really trained hard for that. She hasn`t run at that level lately. I think now -- she`s always enjoyed running, but I think now it`s more to keep her weight down, getting ready for this wedding.
GRACE: Mr. Wilbanks, I know that you are set to walk her down the aisle tomorrow around 6:00 p.m. How is your family tonight?
WILBANKS: They`re devastated, absolutely devastated. It`s the hardest thing we`ve ever gone through in our life. Tonight was supposed to be the rehearsal dinner, tomorrow the wedding. We were all looking so forward to it. I can`t describe the feeling.
GRACE: Mr. Wilbanks, ironically, my father and mother have driven all the way up to the studio tonight, and I`m going to get to be with them after the show. And I just can`t imagine what you`re going through tonight. What ran through your mind when you heard Jennifer went running and they can`t find her?
WILBANKS: It`s just shock and just absolutely devastation. John called me probably 2 o`clock-ish last Tuesday night, Wednesday morning. Of course, we drove immediately down here. And have basically been waiting on pins and needles ever since.
GRACE: Mr. Wilbanks, did she leave her cell phone and everything there? I mean, I understand she just took off jogging with her little radio and with the clothes on her back.
WILBANKS: That`s all she had. She didn`t take her cell phone, didn`t take her credit card. She had absolutely no I.D. on her. She didn`t even take her wedding ring, which -- but her and John usually most of the time run at the gym that they`re a member of. But sometimes when they don`t have enough time to go to the gym, they run the neighborhood. And it`s just -- she usually takes off her wedding ring when she exercises or runs.
GRACE: Now, see, I leave mine on, because I`m afraid to leave them behind. But she normally took hers off when she went running. So that`s not unusual in the least.
WILBANKS: No, it`s not.
GRACE: Mr. Wilbanks, you said you believe that they have turned over every leaf in the area, and I believe you. Have you been out searching yourself for your girl?
WILBANKS: I have. And the outpouring of volunteers and everything has just been unbelievable. The first day, I think, was Wednesday. We probably had, I`m guessing, 300 to 400 people.
The police chief divided up the area in grids. And we had teams, and we all went out searching the grids. And that night he called off the volunteer search and said that he probably wouldn`t have a volunteer search the next day, but would have a more professional search with law officers.
But he thought about it that night and realized that Jennifer was a distance runner and she could probably run quite a distance. And he expanded the area out.
And we had a volunteer search -- forgive me, y`all, the days have run together -- Thursday. We had I don`t know how many people here then. We could have had probably four times that many. I mean, people just wanting to do something.
And can I take this time to -- like I said, the outpouring of love and everything has just been tremendous. The community, perfect strangers, church folks, everything. I just wish I could thank everybody individually, but there`s no way to do that. And what they`ve done will never be forgotten by my family.
GRACE: Mr. Wilbanks, our heart goes out to you so much, sir. I`m showing a picture of Jennifer right now. She is absolutely a beautiful girl and, from all sources, beautiful on the inside and the outside. Sir, did she call you every day? Were you two in touch, her with her family?
WILBANKS: It`s been -- her nickname is -- I call her Beautimous. It`s just a thing. And she`ll call me on my cell and have me on speaker phone, because she knows that when I see it`s her I`ll say, "Hey, Beautimous, what are you doing?" And all her co-workers and everything, everybody, get a kick out of that. It`s just something between Jennifer and I.
GRACE: Now, she would normally have called you by now, right?
WILBANKS: Oh, yes. Yes. Yes.
GRACE: Mr. Wilbanks, if you could, send whatever message you want now.
WILBANKS: Jennifer, if you can hear this, we love you. Please call us. If you are someone that has Jennifer against her will, please let her go. Please. If anybody has any information that can help us, that can lead Jennifer up to us or us to Jennifer, please call the Duluth city police or any police agency.
GRACE: Mr. Wilbanks, tonight you were supposed to be at the rehearsal dinner, tomorrow, I`m sure in a beautiful tuxedo walking down the aisle. But I`ll tell you one thing, you have shown a lot of people tonight what courage is all about. And I`m going to go out to this break with another shot of your girl, Jennifer, because she is Beautimous to us, too.
WILBANKS: Thank you.
GRACE: Please take a look. Jennifer Wilbanks, her wedding was set for less than 24 hours from now. By now, in 24 hours, she would be in her reception, dancing, having wedding cake. Please look.
Jennifer Wilbanks went missing near Duluth, Georgia. 5`8", 120 pounds, brown hair, brown eyes.
Welcome back, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. Thank you for being with us tonight.
We just heard from Jennifer`s father. Heartbroken, he`s been out searching himself, begging tonight, taking to the airwaves for any help to find his girl, Jennifer Wilbanks. I`m going to go straight back out to CNN correspondent Jonathan Freed. He is there on the scene.
Jonathan, that man`s heart is breaking, but he has not given up hope. How long exactly has Jennifer been gone?
FREED: Nancy, I`ll look at my watch. It`s coming up on almost exactly three days. It was about 8:30 in the evening Eastern time on Tuesday night that this happened.
And I have to tell you, it was not easy to stand here next to that gentleman and remain composed as we`re supposed to do, as reporters covering a story. You cannot help but be touched when you see what`s going on here.
And you know, Nancy, the support in this community has been overt and it`s been subtle. We`ve seen the volunteers out helping police search and look for Jennifer. But my crew and I were eating at a restaurant, which is about 50 yards to my right, last night.
And they told us that, although they don`t normally serve breakfast, that they were giving consideration to opening up in the morning because they knew that there were a lot of extra people in town, a lot of investigators, and just a lot of media here. And they felt that they could probably make a lot of money simply by offering a breakfast and opening up.
But they decided that, out of respect for the family, and out of respect for Jennifer, that they would not do that. And that`s not something that they told anybody. They just mentioned it to us in passing. And now I`m passing it on, because I really think it speaks to the true level of support, the heart of this community. And we`ve been here for a couple of days now, and you can definitely feel it.
GRACE: Joining us now is a very special guest, the pastor that was set to perform the wedding of Jennifer and her fiance, Pastor Alan Jones is joining us. Thank you for being with us, preacher.
PASTOR ALAN JONES, PASTOR WHO WAS GOING TO MARRY MISSING BRIDE: You`re welcome.
GRACE: Preacher, what can you tell us tonight? I know tonight should have been the rehearsal dinner, where you would have been officiating, bringing a fake bride down the aisle to stand in her place so not to jinx the union. I understand you had the vows laying on your desk there at the church.
JONES: Yes. And they still are. We finished those up on Sunday night.
GRACE: Pastor, what can you tell me about the wedding? Was it to be a traditional wedding? Had you met with the bride and groom?
JONES: Oh, absolutely. We`ve been meeting off and on for three months, and I would say a very traditional wedding, a large wedding. Everybody was excited about it.
GRACE: Large, that`s for sure. Six hundred people invited, 14 bridesmaids, 14 groomsmen. That`s a heck of a shindig, preacher.
JONES: Absolutely. It sure is.
JONES: And all those people at the house right now. And cheering us on and praying for the family, praying for Jennifer.
GRACE: Sir, is there any truth to reports that the wedding has now been turned into a prayer service tomorrow?
JONES: We are planning to go to the church tomorrow at 6:30 for a prayer service.
GRACE: That`s 6:30 tomorrow, 6:30 p.m. Eastern?
JONES: Yes, Eastern time.
GRACE: Well, Pastor, I want to tell you that, when you have that prayer service tomorrow, you will not be alone. There are going to be thousands of people joining you, praying at the very same time tomorrow for Jennifer to come back home.
JONES: Thank you. We need that.
GRACE: Yes, sir.
Quick break, everyone. We are headed to break with "Trial Tracking." Tonight, Alejandro Avila convicted of the brutal kidnap, murder and rape of a 5-year-old girl, Samantha Runnion. She was taken kicking and screaming from the yard of her own home. Samantha`s body, found 50 miles away from her home.
Emotions high in court today. The jurors actually broke down and cried when the verdict was public. Samantha`s mother, Erin Runnion, on row one of that California courtroom, her eyes red and swollen from tears.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN RUNNION, MOTHER OF SLAIN CHILD: He is guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, and that feels really good, because nobody should get away with this. And in honor of Samantha, in honor of Jessica, and Molly Bish and Polly Klaas, and Adam Walsh.
How many children do we have to take away before we as Americans get organized? We outnumber you so many times over. There is no excuse, and we`re not going to let you get away with this anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: You tell it, Erin.
And tonight, detectives in Orange County, Florida, want your help to identify a young girl they call a material witness in a child pornography case. They want to identify a girl seen in a series of sexually explicit photos taken at Walt Disney world and other locations.
The pictures have circulated over the Internet for the past three years. Where is this girl? Authorities offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the girl. As part of the search, detectives released photos of a different girl whom, they do not think was sexually exploited, but this photo is of interest because the backgrounds in the photos are incredibly similar.
If you have any information, please call the Orange County police, 1- 866-635-4357.
GRACE: Jennifer Wilbanks is somewhere tonight. We just don`t know where. Her wedding set for tomorrow, less than 24 hours from now. At that point by now, 8:25 Eastern, she should be at her reception.
Take a look. Jennifer Wilbanks has gone missing in Duluth, Georgia, last seen running along the Chattahoochee River. She`s a marathon runner. She`s now been missing nearly three days.
Welcome back, everybody. In the few remaining moments we have left, I`m going to go back to Pastor Alan Jones.
Pastor, again, thank you for being with us. This is a pastor that was to officiate the wedding tomorrow. Pastor, didn`t these two come in with you and go over the vows? Did you see any hesitation, amidst all this speculation of cold feet?
JONES: Absolutely no hesitation. We had a great time together in our counseling session, particularly on Sunday. They were just very much just crazy in love with each other. And we just had a great time.
GRACE: Here is what Jennifer`s father, Harris Wilbanks, had to say just a few moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILBANKS: She`ll call me on the cell and have me on speaker phone, because she knows that, when I see it`s her, I say, "Hey, Beautimous, what are you doing?" And all her co-workers and everything, everybody, get a kick out of that. It`s just something between Jennifer and I.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Preacher, can`t you just see that, him calling her Beautimous over the speakerphone and all of her friends laughing?
JONES: Absolutely. He is a strong man and strong man of faith and loves his daughter very much.
GRACE: You know, I just want to clear one thing up. There`s been a lot of speculation about why the family hasn`t spoken out a lot. Her father told me in the break that they are overwhelmed and are heartbroken and have just been trying to find their daughter.
Pastor, thank you for being with us.
JONES: Yes. You`re welcome.
GRACE: Elizabeth, one more shot of Jennifer, please, as we go to break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michael, what`s going to happen tonight?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Those were the glory days. Michael Jackson got the title king of pop. These are the fans surrounding the courthouse, remembering moments like this, Michael Jackson on the top of the world.
Welcome back, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace.
We are going straight out to the courthouse.
Joining us in Santa Maria, California, "Inside Edition" senior correspondent Jim Moret, defense attorney Anne Bremner out of the Seattle jurisdiction, also at the courthouse, in New York, psychotherapist Dr. Caryn Stark.
But first to L.A. And "Celebrity Justice" correspondent Jane Velez- Mitchell.
Jane, it sounds to me like the state made a comeback today with a serious Hail Mary pass. Explain.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, "CELEBRITY JUSTICE": Absolutely, Nancy, a victory for prosecutors.
Over the vigorous objections of the defense, the judge allowed into evidence two books that were seized from Neverland way back in 1993 from Michael Jackson`s bedroom. These two books, one is called "The Boy." The other is called "Boys Will Be Boys." They contain pictures of nude boys. And prosecutors, of course, will use this to bolster their claim that Jackson has a long-running sexual obsession with young boys.
GRACE: OK. First of all, to my producer in New York. Have you ever heard of mosaic? You need to mosaic some of that skin out, Ms. Elizabeth (ph).
GRACE: Let me quickly go to psychologist Caryn Stark.
Caryn, what do you make of the books Jane has just told us about?
CARYN STARK, PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, Nancy, take a look at that. No surprise, right?
How could it not be that he would have books like that? I`m just -- I really believe that now you have a strong case against him, because he would not be able to be attracted to anything else but young boys. And who would keep books like that around, whether they`re clothed or unclothed? "The Boy."
GRACE: I don`t know. You`re the doctor. Who would keep books like that around?
STARK: I don`t know. Only a pedophile, Nancy, even a subtle one.
You know, Debra Opri, what do you make of the books, and should they have been allowed into evidence?
DEBRA OPRI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, the admission of the books came in under evidence code 352. The judge determined that the probative value of the 1108 prior bad acts outweighed the prejudicial value to Michael.
I believe, I really believe -- you know, we mentioned is there a Hail Mary pass? We still -- we still don`t know if this Hail Mary pass is going to be fumbled. I mean, these books, there`s no testimony, no...
GRACE: Wait a minute.
OPRI: Let me finish.
GRACE: You talking about on appeal?
OPRI: Nancy, no connection that he showed these books to any other boys. It`s remote in time. It goes back to `93. The book was found in a locked closet cabinet. There`s a lot on cross-examination.
I just say wait until this evidence has been reviewed by Tom Mesereau`s line of questioning as well.
GRACE: You know, Debra Opri, if I`m ever convicted, remind me, note to self, call Debra Opri, because you know what?
OPRI: I`d represent you, Nancy.
GRACE: You`re talking about what? What`s going to happen on appeal? And before you get to appeal, you have get to a conviction.
OPRI: No, I didn`t say that. No, no, no. Whoever gave you those points, I didn`t even get to that yet.
GRACE: I`m talking about right now. You said earlier ripe for appeal.
OPRI: I`m saying the evidence -- it is ripe. It is. If Michael is convicted, this will be one of the main key issues ripe for appeal. You just have to see it for what it is.
GRACE: Anne Bremner, quickly to you.
You`ve tried a lot of cases. The reality is that it doesn`t even matter if Jackson showed these particular books to little boys. The fact is, the jury has now seen photos, books of them, of naked boys kept under lock and key by Jackson. Significance?
BREMNER: It doesn`t matter. It doesn`t matter. Well, it doesn`t matter.
But from the defense point of view, Nancy, these books are art. I`ve seen them. The jury hasn`t seen them yet. They`ll see them in the jury room.
BREMNER: One goes back to the `80s. Art.
GRACE: Anne, Anne, I can`t believe you even said that. Photos of naked boys art?
BREMNER: I know art when I see it and I know pornography when I see it.
No, come on. These are table -- coffee table kinds of books. One`s a gift from the `80s with an inscription to Michael from Rhonda (ph). The other one is a lot of text and some, like 11 pictures of boys, called "The Boy." And Michael wrote in it to himself. This is: I love children. I hope my children have a happy childhood. Michael Jackson.
I mean, these are old. But the thing is, you know, in this case, you talked about a mosaic, Nancy. You know, the prosecutor wants to put on a tapestry of evidence. This is not as much a bombshell as it`s been described. And the thing is, this is not a tapestry where all the pieces fit. This case is more like cats who paint. It`s like cats who paint everything everywhere.
GRACE: Hold on just a moment.
Let me quickly go to David Wohl.
David, if this is art, why is Jackson keeping it under lock and key in a filing cabinet?
DAVID WOHL, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Exactly.
GRACE: Wouldn`t you have art on a display with a light shining down on it?
WOHL: Nancy, three words, state of mind. I mean, Mesereau`s going to have a heck of a time getting around this one.
My understanding is, these are photos of young boys frolicking around, prepubescent boys frolicking naked in sexually explicit and suggestive poses. I mean, when the jury gets a look at this in that deliberation room, they`re going to get key evidence of this man`s state of mind and M.O. perhaps in the way he seduces these young boys.
Now, to say that this is art, a book that`s buried away in the corner of Barnes & Noble with all those books that all of us have seen, no way. This is pedophilia. These are pictures that would be, I would assume, illegal if taken today and published today. And my understanding is, the book, by the way, dates to the `60s, the one that was called "The Boy," which your colleague Diane Dimond first revealed.
GRACE: Renee Rockwell, another defense could have been that these are not directly linked to Michael Jackson, that they didn`t belong to him, except for the little notes in the front, huh?
ROCKWELL: Absolutely, Nancy.
But the thing that bothers me the most, that the judge would let this in, is, these books have been in police custody since 1993. Remember, they were seized with the investigation of the 1993 accusation. That did not result in any kind of criminal prosecution. These books are going to be able to be taken into the jury room, and they`re just going to overpower any other testimony that`s been entered.
GRACE: And to Jim Moret. Will the jury actually get to take the books into the jury room? I assume so since they`ve been admitted into evidence.
JIM MORET, "INSIDE EDITION": Yes, they will.
The strange thing, frankly, Nancy, is that the prosecution had an opportunity to show these pictures. And, incidentally, these books are legal to own. They`re not child pornography. They`re considered perhaps erotica, but not illegal to own. They`re legal for an adult to keep in a home. And the jury will be allowed to see them.
But the prosecution could have shown some of these pictures on an overhead projector. We know the kind of week the prosecution`s had. We know the kind of problems they`ve had with witnesses. This is very powerful evidence. They had an opportunity. And, frankly, I think that they blew the opportunity to really shock these jurors.
They want to paint a picture of Michael Jackson as a pedophile. And the best way to do that is to show pictures like this. But I agree. You know, the defense was very vigorous in its fight to keep these out, because of the remoteness in time, because they`ve been in police custody so long, and they were very obviously discouraged when the judge allowed them in.
GRACE: Jane Velez-Mitchell, when the photo books of nude boys came into court, were they published to the jury? Were they handed to the jury? Did the jury have them in their hands? And, if so, did they have a reaction?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: The jury did not have them in their hands. And we in the media, sitting there watching it, wanted to see what is in these books, and we weren`t allowed to.
Now, interestingly enough, I totally agree with Jim Moret, the defense came and showed the inscriptions and tried to put the books into context, saying one was sent from a fan and the other one Michael Jackson waxes poetic about, these are the picture of joy, these faces, and he wants his children to have this kind of experience, to have the spirit of boyhood and the spirit...
GRACE: To be photographed naked?
GRACE: The experience of being photographed naked?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But these were the inscriptions.
But the prosecution should have put some of the pictures that you`re showing, the interior pictures of this book. We did not get to see them. And we all wanted to see them. Because you know what happened? The media immediately started debating, is this sinister porn or is it innocent art? We couldn`t agree. Some people said one thing. Some people said the other. But if we had all seen them together, a collective shock of visualization of this might have in a sense coalesced the sentiment of the jury.
GRACE: Wait a minute.
Jane, does it really matter what the press thinks, the media sitting in the overflow room? All that matters is what the jury thinks. They`re going to have this book in the jury deliberation room.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I just think the prosecution pulled its punches with this one. And I think that there is something about viewing something collectively and recognizing the reaction that others are having.
It reinforces your reaction to it, so you don`t wonder and scratch your head and say, well, maybe I`m thinking the wrong way on this; maybe it is art. If it`s subject of such a debate, wouldn`t it have been effective to have put them up on the big screen and have everybody go, ah.
GRACE: Very quickly to Debra Opri as we go to break.
The introduction of these photo books full of nude shots of little boys, does that force Jackson to take the stand?
GRACE: I`m asking you a question, Debra. Does that force Jackson to take the stand, or does it guarantee he will not take the stand?
OPRI: It`s neither here nor there whether he will or will not take the stand regarding a book, because the book has to be taken as a whole. If you`re going to add the book and the photographs in, add the inscriptions in. Michael Jackson...
GRACE: They are in.
OPRI: ... specifically says in the book, the nuances of an innocent boyhood, which I never had and which I dream my children will have.
He has interpreted these books these books, this book, which is legally possessable. And anybody who wants to have a dirty mind and interpret it a wrong way, well, maybe there will be jurors who interpret it that way. Maybe they won`t. But it`s the way you interpret those pictures. And if they were meant to be the innocence of childhood, what is wrong with that?
GRACE: OK. Well, of course, that will be up to the jury. You call it art. I call it child porn.
We at NANCY GRACE want desperately to help solve unsolved homicides, find missing people. Take a look at Rachel White, 3 years old, last seen July 28, 2003. Police think she was abducted, could be traveling in a gold Honda Accord. If you have any info on Rachel White, please call the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children, 1-800-THE-LOST.
GRACE: Welcome back.
Very quickly, let`s go straight back out to Jane Velez-Mitchell with "Celebrity Justice."
Jane, what happens next?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, the prosecution says it will wrap up its case by Tuesday. We believe the bombshell witness will be Rudy Provencio. "C.J."`s been telling you about him for a month.
And I can tell you, he is expected to tie Michael Jackson quite possibly to some of these alleged unindicted co-conspirators. And I can also tell you that "C.J." has learned that he has said he has gotten threats and has reported those alleged threats to the LAPD.
Jane Velez-Mitchell with "Celebrity Justice," Anne Bremner, Seattle trial lawyer, and Jim Moret, with us tonight at the courthouse, to all of you, please join us again on our next episode regarding Michael Jackson.
Switching gears very quickly, I want to tell you about a shocking decision that could allow a killer to walk free. Tonight, in Reno, Nevada, Thomas Studer, a murder victim`s brother, Jim Studer is with us, in San Diego the mother of beautiful Danielle van Dam, a murder victim, Brenda van Dam, 7-year-old Danielle kidnapped, murdered 2002. Her family wore pins with Danielle`s picture during the murder trial of the perpetrator. Also with us tonight in San Francisco, the defendant`s lawyer, David Fermino.
But, first, I want to go to "Daily Journal" staff writer Peter Blumberg.
Peter, welcome. Bring us up to date, friend.
PETER BLUMBERG, "THE DAILY JOURNAL": Well, this was a first degree murder conviction where the defendant guy, Musladin, was convicted of fatally shooting his estranged wife`s boyfriend outside her home.
And the trial was two weeks long. And during the trial, family members of the deceased wore buttons depicting a photograph of the deceased.
GRACE: The victim.
BLUMBERG: Thomas Studer. And the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled recently that this amounted to an unfair trial for the defendant.
GRACE: Because of the buttons?
BLUMBERG: Because of the buttons, because the buttons prejudiced or could have prejudiced the jury to think that he was guilty.
GRACE: Got it. Got it.
To Jim Studer, the victim`s brother.
Jim, you were in court with your parents practically every day. Did you wear a button in front of the jury with your brother`s picture on it?
JIM STUDER, BROTHER OF MURDER VICTIM: Yes. For the first two days of the trial, my parents and I, all three of us wore the buttons, yes.
GRACE: You know, it`s amazing to me, Jim, that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals would reverse a case based on you wearing a button. How did they know that it affected the jury`s decision?
STUDER: I have no idea. The button itself was about two inches around. We wore it over our hearts on our left side. We were sitting in the front row of the courtroom.
The jury was on the other side of the room. I don`t even see how they could have seen what was on the button.
GRACE: The button.
To Brenda van Dam. I covered the murder case of Brenda`s daughter Danielle. Brenda has become a victims rights advocate like no other.
Tell us what happened in court. I remember. And you`ve got it on tonight, everybody.
BRENDA VAN DAM, MOTHER OF MURDER VICTIM: I do.
GRACE: Brenda is wearing that picture of Danielle. Tell us what happened when you wore your button to court.
VAN DAM: Well, you know, we wore our buttons to court, and we were asked very early on not to wear them anymore.
And we were basically told at that time that the killer who murdered our daughter had all the rights and we absolutely had none in the courtroom. And so we took them off. I was afraid that, you know, it could be used for a mistrial or an appeal. And I didn`t want to do anything to harm the case. I wanted to make sure that justice was served for Danielle.
VAN DAM: And so we didn`t wear them.
GRACE: To the convicted killer.
His name is Musladin. His defense attorney is with us tonight, David Fermino.
David, this is intriguing to me. I disagree with it. The jury saw photos of the victim, crime scene photos. Possibly sometimes even autopsy photos of a victim are allowed into evidence. So why would a picture of the victim in life worn by their family, tangential victims of murder, why does that call for a reversal?
DAVID FERMINO, ATTORNEY FOR MUSLADIN: Well, I think, Nancy, that you hit on the precise point, and that is that those photographs of the crime scene were evidence. They were in evidence. And that`s part of the process.
A jury`s supposed to decide the case based on the facts that are presented to them in that forum. The buttons with the photograph of the victim in whatever appearance, whatever way, isn`t evidence. And it shouldn`t be something that the jury considers as part of its deliberative process.
GRACE: Because you don`t want the jury to ever know the victim or imagine what pain they went through.
FERMINO: No, I think in fact they will. But there is a process for that.
And, as you well know, Nancy, having been a prosecutor and a good one, when you introduce -- when you make your case, it`s done in a way that`s controlled and it`s done subject to the rules of evidence, which I don`t think these buttons are.
GRACE: OK. I understand. I know you`re right about the rules of evidence. I disagree with the court.
Quick break, everyone.
To tonight`s all-points bulletin. The FBI and law enforcement on the lookout for this man, Daniel Andreas San Diego. He is an animal rights activist wanted for involvement in the 2003 bombings of two offices in California. Chiron, a biotech firm, and Shaklee, which markets vitamins and cosmetics. The FBI offering up to $50,000 for info leading to the arrest of Daniel Andreas San Diego, armed and dangerous, 27, 6 feet tall, 160, brown hair and eyes, tattoos chest and back. Any info, 415-553-7400.
Local news next for some of you, but we`ll be right back.
And, remember, the latest on the Michael Jackson trial, 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern, Court TV`s "Closing Arguments."
Please stay with us.
GRACE: Man, what a week in America`s courtrooms.
Take a look at the stories and, more important, the people who touched all of our lives.
GRACE: Two-year-old Nicole, 3-year-old Jonah Payne touched a nation when the toddlers went missing, their bodies found in a nearby pond. What happened to Nicole and her brother Jonah?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, there`s no evidence of foul play and the cause of death is drowning.
GRACE: The Amber Alert for 12-year-old Margarita Aguilar-Lopez is over. Authorities found the Florida girl alive, safe and sound, in a Wal- Mart parking lot far from home in South Carolina. Police have arrested Antonio Paulino-Perez, her alleged kidnapper, on the spot.
A California jury has handed down a guilty verdict in the Samantha Runnion murder trial.
ERIN RUNNION, MOTHER OF SAMANTHA RUNNION: He is guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty. And that feels really good, because nobody should get away with this. And, in honor of Samantha and in honor of Jessica and Molly Bish and Polly Klaas and Adam Walsh, how many children do we have to take away before we as Americans get organized?
GRACE: Michael Jackson`s ex-wife and the mother of two of Jackson`s three children, Debbie Rowe, back on the stand for the prosecution.
OPRI: This woman is nothing to me but a breeder. She was hired to carry Michael`s children, to bear them and to sell them to him. And that`s what she did.
Jim, it`s terrible when you have your own witness on the stand and you have to make objections to their testimony.
MORET: It appears as if the prosecution was totally caught off guard.
GRACE: This is a complete flip-flop.
On the eve of her wedding day, the moment she has planned for years, instead of double-checking the details, celebrating with her family, bride- to-be Jennifer Wilbanks has gone missing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, I would hope and pray it would be a case of cold feet. I don`t think that`s -- I don`t think that`s what it is. But I would certainly welcome that at this point in time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We love Jennifer very much. We would give our life and everything that we own to have her returned.
GRACE: I want to thank all of my guests tonight. But my biggest thank you is to you for being with us and inviting all of us into your home.
Coming up, headlines from around the world.
I`m Nancy Grace, signing off for tonight. Hope to see you right here Monday night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. Until then, good night, friend.