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NANCY GRACE for Thursday, June 2, 2005, CNNHN

Aired June 2, 2005 - 20:00:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: A dangerous alert tonight, for all of you planning a summer vacation. A beautiful teenager on her senior trip destination, Aruba, vanishes into thin air.
And lawyers fought to the finish today in the Michael Jackson child sex trial. Closing arguments went down at the jury rail in Santa Maria.

Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. And I want to thank you for being with us tonight.

Michael Jackson`s lawyers duked it out with the Jackson prosecution team today as closing arguments were waged in court.

But first, an urgent request for your help tonight. This beautiful Alabama girl leaves on her senior trip to Aruba and disappears. Natalee Ann Holloway, last seen driving away from a local nightclub. FBI and local police have questioned a man she befriended at the bar. His car is in FBI custody tonight.

Holloway`s family distraught, traveling to Aruba to search for their girl themselves. Tonight, with us on the phone from Aruba, Police Commissioner Jan Van Derstraten; in Santa Maria, California, defense attorney Debra Opri; in New York, defense attorney Richard Herman; and psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere.

But first, let`s go to Birmingham, Alabama. Standing by, WBRC reporter Tiffany Bittner. Tiffany, what happened?

TIFFANY BITTNER, WBRC REPORTER COVERING STORY: Well, Nancy, what we`ve learned so far is Natalee`s mother, Beth Twitty, says that her daughter was along with 150 other classmates from Mountain Brook High School on a senior trip to Aruba. When her classmates returned on Monday, Natalee didn`t.

Her mother rushed down to Aruba on a jet and says that she`s been searching countless hours looking for her daughter. Now, we understand that her mom says that her daughter was last seen leaving a local nightclub around 1:30 a.m. Monday morning with three locals and has not been seen since.

GRACE: Let me go to Aruba District Police commissioner Jan Van Derstraten.

Welcome, Commissioner. Thank you for being with us. Sir...


GRACE: ... could you tell me about the men that were seen with Natalee last? What has become of them? I understand they have been questioned and released.

DERSTRATEN: No, no, that`s not the question. The police started an investigation. And the police have to do investigation and has a search Tuesday morning, a search with helicopters. And we started -- today, we did a big search with a lot of people with the Dutch marine, too, and with the coast guard, tried to find the girl.

And the family was here, too. We talked with the mother. Everyday we talk with the mother. And we talk -- it was true that the young girl was in a nightclub together with other young people, young boys, local boys. And they were together.

And the investigation team (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as witnesses, and that`s the reason why we talked with them. That`s the law in Aruba, that if you talk with witnesses, they are not suspects.

GRACE: Commissioner Jan Van Derstraten with us. Commissioner, what did the men tell you that Natalee left the club with?

DERSTRATEN: No, they left the club about 2 o`clock, 1 o`clock, 1:30, and they were together in a car. And the girl met the other boys of the school who are in the Holiday Inn. And the girl said, "I go to take a trip over to Aruba," and the boys were together. And the boys told us that they bring the girl back about 2 o`clock in the morning to the hotel.

GRACE: Back to Tiffany Bittner, WBRC reporter. Her parents are now in Aruba. You mentioned her mother. What about her father?

BITTNER: Well, we understand that both her mother and her stepfather are in Aruba, as well as her father, who we believe is from Mississippi. They`re all down there, of course, in the search.

And I wanted to tell you, Nancy, I talked to Natalee`s uncle, Paul Reynolds (ph), today by phone. He, too, is in Aruba searching for Natalee. He says that the locals there have been amazing, pouring out their support in helping to search for Natalee.

He says they`ve even got the military involved in looking for her. They`re going about putting posters up, asking anyone if they have seen 18- year-old Natalee Holloway.

GRACE: Tiffany Bittner, it`s my understanding there are only about 70,000 people that live on the entire island. How big is it?

BITTNER: Say this one more time. I`m sorry.

GRACE: I understand that there are only about 70,000 people that live on the island of Aruba. How big is the island?

BITTNER: Well, I`m not exactly -- I`ve been there once. I don`t know the dimensions of the island. It`s not very big. You can cover it, I know, in a day by car. So it`s not very large.

GRACE: We`re looking at a picture right now. It`s almost 20 miles long, six miles across.

Back to Commissioner Jan Van Derstraten. Commissioner, are you looking, searching in any particular area?

DERSTRATEN: Yes, we are looking on the west point by the lighthouse. You can see that maybe on the map. But other than that we are searching today with the marine and with the coast guard, too.

And yes, we are looking the last three days. The family brought a lot of flyers to gasoline stations and other buildings (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and they give tips to the investigation team. And the investigation, up until now, we don`t find the girl.

GRACE: Are you convinced that she ever made it to her hotel, Commissioner?

DERSTRATEN: Yes, that`s part of the investigation. I hope you can understand that, because the impact on the island is very great, big for us, because, yes, you know, we are a happy island, but we are a safety island. And we have a low crime rate. So everyone is in force now to look and to search for the girl.

GRACE: Take a listen to this.


MARCIA TWITTY, AUNT OF MISSING GIRL: ... that there is just this outpour of support up here for her, and that`s keeping her going down there.


GRACE: Commissioner Jan Van Derstraten is with us from Aruba. Commissioner, when exactly was she reported missing?

DERSTRATEN: She was reported missing on Monday morning.

GRACE: Monday morning. Let me go back to Tiffany...


GRACE: Tiffany Bittner with us, WBRC reporter. She was reported missing on Monday. When was she at the nightclub, Tiffany?

BITTNER: Well, we were understanding that she was reported missing -- or the last seen -- place where she was last seen was around 1:30 a.m. at a club called Carlos & Charlie`s. And of course, this is according to her mom, she was seen there leaving with three locals.

GRACE: OK. I`m sorry, Tiffany, what night was that?

BITTNER: That was Monday night, early Memorial Day.

GRACE: OK, back to Commissioner Jan Van Derstraten. Commissioner, about these young men that you interviewed, they are not suspects at this juncture?

DERSTRATEN: Until now. Until now they are not suspects, no.

GRACE: They had told they dropped her off at her hotel. I believe it was the Holiday Inn there in Aruba. Do either of them have a criminal record?

DERSTRATEN: No, there are no criminal records for them. Young people -- they are going to school. And young people on the same -- from the same age, yes, certainly.

GRACE: And to Tiffany Bittner. Tiffany, what can you tell us about this young girl?

BITTNER: Well, everyone that we have talked to say that this is totally out of character for her, that Natalee was very responsible. She had big plans. She was expected to go to -- or is expected to go to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa in the fall. So this is totally out of character for her to just up and go missing.

Now, I wanted to tell you, also, that we have talked to another person who says today that her mom, Beth Twitty, made a public appearance today at the hotel where she was seen -- or at the hotel where she was believed to be staying, at the Holiday Inn.

And we understand that her mom made a public appeal asking for the public to help in searching for her young daughter. And we also understand that there is a special task force that has been formed to help in the search for Natalee.

GRACE: Who is on the task force, Tiffany?

BITTNER: I`m not sure who actually has made up of that task force. We understanding -- I`m thinking that it`s local authorities that are there, that are just coming together for one sole purpose, to find the 18- year-old.

GRACE: Tiffany, I understand that Natalee was an honor student. She made great grades. She was heading off to college. She has never disappeared in the past. What are the other kids that went along on the trip saying, Tiffany?

BITTNER: Well, again, they just say that this is totally out of character for her, that they are looking for answers because this is not the person that they know to just up and disappear. I talked to her school principal today at Mountain Brook High School, and he says that she was a great student, that he could go on and on for days talking about her and her character. So all of this comes, of course, as a surprise.

GRACE: As we go to break, take a listen to this.


MARK YODER, YOUTH PASTOR, MOUNTAIN BROOK COMMUNITY CHURCH: Not knowing exactly what`s going on right now, we pray that Natalee senses God`s protection over her in whatever is going on right now.



GRACE: For those of you planning a summer vacation, this girl, Natalee Holloway, went on a class trip, her high school senior class trip, to Aruba. She has never been seen again.

Welcome back, I`m Nancy Grace. Joining us from Aruba, the Aruba district police commissioner, Jan Van Derstraten.

Commissioner, as of tonight, what is the latest? What are your people doing to try to find Natalee?

DERSTRATEN: Yes. We have a lot of police. We went to the TV. We let see the portrait and asked for tips. We checked all the tips we get. But until now, we have nothing on this small island.

And the investigation is going on, too. And I hope you can understand, I can`t tell everything about the investigation. But we are still going on with about 16 police officers, together with the FBI. They were on the island, too.

GRACE: So the FBI is there?

DERSTRATEN: Yes, we are working close together. He arrived yesterday, and we picked him up at the airport. And...

GRACE: Commissioner, are you convinced in your heart and in your mind that this girl made it back to her hotel that night?

DERSTRATEN: Yes, but that`s the point. That`s under investigation now. And on the first day, you hope that you can find the girl together with other girls and other boys on the beach or somewhere else. The second day, you hope that again. And after three or four days, you are thinking about other things. And the investigation is...

GRACE: I have got a question for you, Commissioner. I know that the young men she was with, that she left at a disco with, say they dropped her off there at the hotel. I believe the Holiday Inn.


GRACE: The desk clerk did not see her come in. Could you...

DERSTRATEN: That`s correct, yes.

GRACE: Could you give me the configuration of the hotel? Would she have to walk past the desk clerk to get to her room?

DERSTRATEN: No, that`s not necessary. She can go another way, too, because she was sleeping in the third building of the hotel. She can go outside. She can go via the casinos. She can go all the way to the sleeping rooms.

So that`s the point. But she did not arrive in the sleeping room. But it`s not necessary, especially necessary that she had to see her at the lobby.

GRACE: Right, right.

Back to WBRC reporter Tiffany Bittner. Tiffany, there were about, what, 150 high schoolers on the trip along with her? Were any of them with her at the bar that night at the disco?

BITTNER: I am not certain. I have to tell you that it`s been very difficult to actually talk to some of the family and friends here. Of course, it`s a very serious matter, and it`s heartbreaking for this family.

So they really haven`t had a lot of students that have wanted to talk to us. They`re sort of keeping tight-lipped a little bit on this because of the investigation. Of course, they say they do not want to botch it in any way, or disturb it, or give out information that may hurt the investigation.

So I have talked to, again, one of her friends, a student. I`m not clear on whether or not she was at the club with her. But she was down on the trip with her, and says this whole ordeal doesn`t make any sense.

GRACE: Elizabeth, can you show me the configuration of the island, the size of the island again? I understand that there are hundreds of tourists and police look for her. It`s six miles across, under 20 miles long.

Tiffany, where are they searching? It`s a very small area.

BITTNER: Exactly. Talking to her uncle again, he says that they are just going door-to-door, handing out posters, asking people if they have seen Natalee, showing them pictures of her. Of course, her pictures all over the local newspaper there, from what we understand.

He says that they are just going to anybody and everybody that they can talk to, to see if they have seen this young lady. He also said today that he believes that they may have started searching in the water. So that`s something that we`re looking into, as well.

GRACE: Speaking of her family, Natalee Holloway`s family, take a listen to this.


BETH TWITTY, MOTHER OF MISSING GIRL: She was here on a senior trip. And there are approximately, I don`t know, could have been 22, 40 of her classmates in Carlos and Charlie`s periodically. But at least 10 of them saw her leave in a small four-door car, not sure of the make, blueish gray color. And there were three locals in the car with her.

This was her senior trip. There were 150 American students here from Mountain Brook, Alabama. There`s something I would like to comment on. Natalee`s hair is blond and straight, but here it might be curly. It could be curly; it could be straight. She`s approximately 5`5", she weighs about 110 pounds. She has blue eyes, and she`s very petite, very petite.


GRACE: You know, Tiffany, she looks like a beauty queen.

Elizabeth, could you show that picture again of Natalee Ann Holloway? Just 18-years-old, went on her high school trip to Aruba. The day before she was to leave, she went to a local disco and has never been seen again.

Thank you to my guests, Tiffany Bittner, WBRC reporter joining me out of Alabama. And to Aruba, the district police commissioner, Jan Van Derstraten. Quick break.

To "Trial Tracking": So-called runaway bride, Jennifer Wilbanks, in court today. Wilbanks pled no contest to felony false statement to cops. Wilbanks` fiance, Chris Mason, by her side for the guilty plea. Wilbanks still wearing her engagement ring when she apologized to the court.


JENNIFER WILBANKS, SO-CALLED RUNAWAY BRIDE: You know what? I`m truly sorry for my actions. And I just want to thank the Gwinnett County and the city of Duluth for all of their efforts. That`s all.


GRACE: Wilbanks entering a nolo contendere, no content plea. Sentenced to two years probation, community service, and she caught a fine of $2,500. Wilbanks told police she was kidnapped and sexually assaulted. Actually, she skipped town with a bad case of wedding jitters.



RAYMONE BAIN, MICHAEL JACKSON SPOKESPERSON: We`re very pleased with Tom Mesereau`s closing arguments today. And as you could tell, Michael`s spirits were up today. And he feels that he`s doing an excellent job.


GRACE: It`s the war between the gods in the Michael Jackson courtroom today. The defense and the prosecution squaring off in closing arguments at the rail, the jury rail, trying to win that case.

Tonight, in Santa Maria, California, "Inside Edition`s" chief correspondent, Jim Moret; trial attorney out of the Seattle jurisdiction, Anne Bremner.

But first, to "Celebrity Justice" correspondent, Jane Velez-Mitchell. Jane, tell me about closing arguments.

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, "CELEBRITY JUSTICE": Nancy, an absolutely fierce, fierce war of words in this courtroom. Both sides just coming out, swing against each other. Prosecutors first up, of course.

Senior Deputy D.A. Ron Zonen spoke for about three hours. And during that time, he painted an absolutely devastating portrait of Michael Jackson as a serial pedophile and a sexual predator who used his international celebrity to seduce a 13-year-old boy who had just recovered from cancer by using the grooming tools of booze and pornography.

At one point, the prosecutor actually pointed to some very graphic porn and asked the jurors a direct question, "Are you comfortable with a middle-aged man getting into bed with a 13-year-old boy, a man who possesses these kind of materials that sexually excite him?" And that`s certainly one of the questions of the day.

But then it was Tom Mesereau`s turn. The defense attorney also came out, swinging like crazy. He immediately attacked prosecutors, saying that they had waged...

GRACE: Whoa, whoa, what, wait, wait. I thought, when it was time for the defense closing argument, Mesereau got up and left the room for about ten minutes. And the jury was like -- and then he comes back in with his assistant, Ms. Yu, to run the projector, which was a computer, and then they couldn`t make it run. And she turned to Jackson and said -- did you leave that out?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m giving him -- I`m giving him the benefit of the doubt with that. I mean, obviously he`s under a lot of stress. There was a glitch. There was a technical glitch. It delayed him for about 20 minutes. It was certainly not a great way to get started.

I was simply focusing on his words, because I think, once he started speaking, he resumed his normal position of authority and did make some very good points. But you`re right. It was a terrible way for the defense to get started with, basically, a big glitch that sort of stopped him at the starting gate.

GRACE: Anne Bremner, I was stunned. I nearly fell off my chair. I had to get my little solar calculator out.

Let`s see, Elizabeth, how much did the prosecution tell the jury Geragos made off the -- oh, ow, hold on -- $180,000, divided by two weeks, would be, outrageous. And then he got on the stand and he couldn`t tell anybody who he talked to, where those letters came from, where the passports and the visas that were in his locker came from, belonging to the boy`s family.

$180,000, Anne?

ANNE BREMNER, TRIAL ATTORNEY: I know. I thought to myself -- I mean, it takes years to bill that much up on a case, even a civil case, where you go...

GRACE: Two weeks.

BREMNER: ... and their billings like crazy.

GRACE: Two weeks.

BREMNER: Exactly. It was absolutely amazing. And Zonen`s closing was really a rhapsody of words. He did a...


GRACE: Uh-oh, I`m sorry. There`s a remnant of Mark Geragos crossing the screen right now. It`s sunglasses and a cell phone.


GRACE: I hear Debra Opri, cha-ching. I know, I`ve got one...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Can you -- she`s right next to me. Ching, ching, ching.

GRACE: I have got one minute left.

I understand, Jim Moret, that the jury -- thank you, Elizabeth -- that the jury was at the edge of their seats during the prosecution closing argument. Jim Moret, true or false?

JIM MORET, "INSIDE EDITION": I think they paid attention, frankly, to both attorneys. They both did an excellent job. And the attorneys spoke from the heart. They didn`t have notes. They didn`t have scripts. They just talked to the jurors and the jurors paid attention.

GRACE: With us at the courthouse, Anne Bremner, Jim Moret, Jackson family lawyer Debra Opri, who has made herself known, and Jane Velez- Mitchell with "Celebrity Justice." We`ll all be right back.

As we go to break, I want to remind you we here at NANCY GRACE want very much to help solve unsolved homicides, find missing people. Tonight, take a look at Amanda Berry. Amanda just 19-years-old when she disappeared from Cleveland, Ohio. She was walking home from work, April 2003.

Two years later, police still don`t about where Amanda Berry is. If you have any information on this girl, Amanda Berry, please contact the FBI, 216-522-1400, or go online to Please help us.



RAYMONE BAIN, ATTORNEY FOR JACKSON`S PARENTS: Michael has been very hands-on, despite what many people think. This is his life here. This is no joke. And because it is his life, he has had hands on in dealing with his legal team. So in Mr. Mesereau`s closing argument, I can stand here and say almost 100 percent sure that Mr. Jackson has had some input.


GRACE: Welcome back, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. Here`s a shot outside of the Santa Maria courthouse today. Oh, who`s that blowing kisses at the Jackson family? Oh, it`s Debra Opri!

DEBRA OPRI, JACKSON FAMILY ATTORNEY: Going to ask me a serious question? I have...


GRACE: Blowing air kisses at Michael Jackson?

OPRI: No, at Kathryn and Joe. They`re my clients.

GRACE: OK. I`m not going to even suggest this renders you impartial, but...

OPRI: No, I happen to think Kathryn and Joe are wonderful people...


OPRI: ... and that`s just the way it is.

GRACE: What`s your take on closing?

OPRI: Oh, Mesereau, articulate, meticulous, specific. He laid it out. Remember, If the glove don`t fit, you must acquit? Well, there on the wall for everybody to see, every time he brought up one of his exhibits, it was "You must acquit if there is reasonable doubt." And he proceeded to lay out why there has to be reasonable doubt, how there`s liars amongst the Eviso (ph) family, how the key witnesses for the prosecution were not credible, how they had shady pasts, why the 1108 testimony is out of the window because of Macaulay, the dancer and the individual from Australia saying, It never happened to us. And they were credible witnesses.

And he said that Ron Zonen, in his cross-examination, was a bully and he was a nitpicker and he picked on the witnesses when he shouldn`t have. And Nancy, he talked about those nice books you like to hold up in your studio audience. And he, like I said earlier, held up those inscriptions in those books, and he said, This is what those books are about. And it`s not illegal to own this stuff, and he`s not being charged.

But there was one comment, Nancy, one comment that will go down in history in this courtroom. He said, Michael Jackson is human, and he`s being punished for it and it`s not against a crime for him to be a human being.

GRACE: Anne Bremner, response. How were the closing arguments as you saw them?

BREMNER: I`d say the prosecutor`s closing was like a Beethoven sonata. I mean, it had -- it started slow. It had a beautiful crescendo. It was like art. I`ll tell you, Nancy, a picture can tell a thousand words. The collages that he put up in those books -- the boy, the pictures from the boy, the man, graphic sex acts between men portrayed in that book that he couldn`t even show the jury, forty-six-year-old men don`t have sleepovers, collages of all of the boys of Michael Jackson, and they all looked alike, with Michael Jackson in the center, collages of Michael Jackson in the center, dangling a baby in the picture over here, picture next to that with the accuser in this case with his head on Michael Jackson`s shoulder in the documentary, Michael Jackson with his children, with the veils and masks, a whole collage, and then a final collage of Michael Jackson with his co-conspirators.

This was a masterpiece. This was compelling. From start to finish, not a wasted word, 1108 evidence pattern of the practice. And he said it to the jury, Michael Jackson`s a pedophile. It was so compelling.

GRACE: To Richard Herman, a veteran defense attorney out of the New York jurisdiction. He has also practiced in California. Richard, I think that the physical similarities of all of the alleged boy victims, combined with the grooming process, combined with 365 nights a grown man spent with a little 13-year-old boy in bed, that`s some pretty strong evidence, Richard.

RICHARD HERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, just like Debra Opri said a million times on your show that Michael was going to testify and he didn`t, unfortunately, she`s wrong here. The problem and what`s going to help this jury is this. That youth pastor got on the stand and testified he was molested. If this jury buys that Michael Jackson is a child molester, and now they see the evidence that he was in his room, in his bed with this accuser, drunk, and at his bedside, was, Nancy, your favorite book, "The Boy," and another one that I`m told is much worse, this jury is going to make that easy step to conclude that Michael molested this young boy on at least two occasions. I think he`s going down on at least two counts of molestation. He`s going to jail.

GRACE: I`m going out on a limb. I think Jackson is going to catch at least one guilty count. I think the jury may split the baby, throw out some counts, convict on others.

Here in the studio with me, clinical psychologist and author Dr. Jeff Gardere. Dr. Gardere, very often, I have heard Michael Jackson could never survive behind bars. What do you think?

JEFFREY GARDERE, PSYCHOLOGIST: I think he may survive if he goes to jail. I think the pattern will be, as we see with convicted child molesters, if he goes to jail, he`ll have to be put on a suicide watch. Usually, these child molesters are very sensitive individuals. They have no criminal records. It`s the first time in jail. The shame, the guilt, the stress the pressure -- it may be just too much for him. I would say they`ll probably put him on a suicide watch, keep him in administrative detentions.

But eventually, with the outpouring of his fans and his very strong family and the love that they`ve shown him, he will survive this. I know he is a survivor.

GRACE: You know, you mentioned something very interesting, that Michael Jackson has -- you`re taking a look at the Santa Maria jail, where, if convicted, Jackson will go, however briefly, before he is processed into the system and goes to a California prison. It`s a far cry from Neverland!

You know, you mentioned he had no criminal history. Jane Velez- Mitchell, Debra Opri said the slogan a few moments ago that Johnnie Cochran used to get O.J. simpson off, If it don`t fit -- If the glove doesn`t fit, you must acquit. That reminds me, Cochran was the one that managed to steer Jackson out of an indictment last time, with the `93 accuser being able to draw an accurate picture of Jackson`s penis with freckles and markings or discolorations that matched exactly. The jury did not see this. He may not have a criminal record, but we can thank Johnnie Cochran for that.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, certainly, the past acts were a big focus of both sides today, as they argued back and forth. And prosecutors said, Look, you had testimony from a man who has absolutely no baggage, a youth pastor, who says, first person account, Michael Jackson did this to me. He molested me. He tickled me underneath my shorts. And he was the son of the Neverland housekeeper. The defense countered, Well, wait a second. Of the five boys, who are now men, that were brought up by the prosecutors, three of them took the stand and said, Absolutely nothing happened to me. And why did the prosecutors bring in those people who insist, Nothing happened to me? Are you going to believe them, or are you going to believe the disgruntled employees who say they saw something? It was a battle back and forth over those very past acts..

GRACE: Now, what was this collage that Anne Bremner was talking about the prosecution used?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, there were a lot of graphics and video displays, and frankly, it was a relief. We`d all been clamoring for timelines. This is such a complicated case, 24 overt acts, and it was just all words and dates, and were all struggling to put it together. Finally today, in closing argument, we got timelines from both sides.

But I have to tell you, the defense said -- and this could be their strongest point -- that prosecution`s timeline simply does not make sense because the cover-up, the conspiracy, begins 19 days before the molestations are alleged to have begun. Therefore, what are they covering up at the time?

And I think that tomorrow, when Ron Zonen does his rebuttal, he has to address that. And perhaps he might say, Listen, the reason that Michael Jackson allegedly did this toward the end of the boy`s stay is that he`d already done the interview with the Department of Children and Family Services, said nothing happened, and the rebuttal tape, and said nothing happened. So it`s like a free bite of the apple. He`s clear to do what he wants because he`s got the evidence to the contrary on tape.

GRACE: To Jim Moret. When you look back over the case, Jim, the, as we call them, 1108s, the similar transactions, the other little boys who alleged were child molestation victims of Michael Jackson`s, how much are they going to add to the case?

MORET: I think they add a lot. I mean, let`s face it, when you have somebody who gets up on the stand and said, Michael Jackson molested me, and that person`s now married and is a youth pastor, that`s really powerful evidence. But again, Tom Mesereau embraced that by bringing on three people who were allegedly victims of Michael Jackson`s, one of the Macaulay Culkin, another one a well-known choreographer, another one a friend -- and Tom Mesereau said this. He said, If Michael Jackson is the kind of person that uses families and then discards them, then why did these people, after 15 years, come here, and why do they still feel Michael Jackson`s their friend, and why do they say nothing happened? And that`s also powerful.

So the reality -- Nancy, it really still comes down to one thing. Do you believe the accuser or do you believe Michael Jackson?

GRACE: Back to Jackson family attorney Debra Opri. You know, Debra, if he walks on this, I`ve heard so many theories about what he`s going to do. One is he`ll go home to Neverland. Two, he will disappear into Africa. Three, he will headline in Vegas. Four, he will go and inhabit the late Marlon Brando`s island. You`re the Jackson family lawyer. What`s he going to do?

OPRI: Five, all of the above, question mark? Hey, listen, we`re living in a very historic time...

GRACE: He better go make some money.

OPRI: ... trial-wise -- no, but the bottom line is, you look at Johnnie Cochran`s closing arguments in the O.J. Simpson trial. We had the ability to see it live on TV. You don`t know, anyone who was not in that courtroom listening to Tom Mesereau`s closing arguments -- you are seeing history. This man is brilliant...

GRACE: Who are those people...

OPRI: ... and he makes sense, and people listen.

GRACE: ... holding hands? Jane Velez-Mitchell, who are these people singing and holding hands outside the courthouse?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, they must be fans, Nancy. And there were plenty of them here today.

GRACE: It`s a prayer vigil!

VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... three hundred and fifty...

GRACE: It is a prayer vigil!

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, well, they do that, too. They do that, too. And you know who else was here? Dick Gregory, supporting the family.

GRACE: OK. With us at the courthouse...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: It was quite a...


GRACE: ... "Celebrity Justice`s" Jane Velez-Mitchell. Apparently, too, Michael Jackson fans broke out into a fight today and had to be dragged off. Stay with us.


BAIN: Yesterday was not a great day, as I`d said, for him. His spirits weren`t that high because when you`re being vilified and you`re hearing all of these counts against you, and you know that you`re innocent -- yesterday was not a good day at all. But you could tell today that, as I`ve said, his spirits were much higher. He was happy to have his family here with him, and he`s just very pleased with what Mr. Mesereau has done.



GRACE: Lawyer v lawyer. There you see it. Tom Mesereau, veteran defense lawyer, Ron Zonen, public servant. Couldn`t be more different.

Welcome back, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. Thank you for being with us. We are live in Santa Maria, in the latest in the Michael Jackson trial. To Seattle lawyer Anne Bremner -- she was in the courtroom today for closing arguments. Anne, a lot of promises were made in the defense`s opening statement. What were some of those promises that prosecutor Zonen brought back to the jury for recollection today?

BREMNER: Well, what prosecutor did is he actually read a promise from the opening statement of the defense, without identifying who said it, and then said, I think you know who said it. And it was Mesereau saying, I`m making a contract with you, members of the jury, you know, a promise in my opening statement of what I`m going to prove. What Zonen brought out, a number of things, including that Jay Leno was supposed to say there was a shakedown for money, that there was a mother in the background egging on the accuser to ask for money -- that wasn`t delivered -- that there was an attempted shakedown, many, many celebrities. And that wasn`t delivered.

Specifically, there was talk about -- remember Jamie Masada (ph) and also George Lopez, that this family had tried to shake those celebrities, comedians down for money. That wasn`t delivered. And it was just a litany, beautifully done, in the beginning of the opening statement by the prosecutor. And every time he brought out what was not delivered, he said, You know, Mr. Mesereau knew or should have known that this was false.

And he followed that up with all the claims that Mesereau had made about the mother herself. And it was very, very artfully done in the very beginning of an excellent opening statement.

GRACE: To Richard Herman...


GRACE: ... the list -- the list of witnesses for the defense was over 300, right, Ellie (ph)? I think it may have been closer to 400. What is a jury supposed to think, Richard, when you call out Elizabeth Taylor, just reams and reams of stars that don`t show up, the ones that do say something entirely different?

HERMAN: well, I think Mesereau may touch on that tomorrow. He may just say, Look, we were so confident in our case that we didn`t need to call these people.

But I tell you, Nancy, I`m so glad you brought up Johnnie Cochran before because that case was brought in Los Angeles County. There were plenty of blacks on that jury. This is Santa Barbara County. And when you enter that courtroom and you walk past that gate up front, the judge is white, the jury`s white, the prosecution`s white and the defense is white. And there`s Michael Jackson sitting there. And in that O.J. Simpson case, blacks and whites looked at the evidence different. And you know, Nancy, this makes a difference. And really, I really believe that Michael is in severe trouble in this case, in this jurisdiction.

GRACE: Jeff Gardere?

GARDERE: Yes, I agree that there may be a racial factor in that. Michael Jackson is loved by many fans, regardless of race, creed, color. But when we go to the legal system, we know that it does make a difference who may be judging you.

GRACE: I think celebrity trumps everything, including race factor, to a jury. To Jane Velez-Mitchell. I understand that there was even an attack on Mark Geragos in the prosecution`s opening -- closing statement. What happened?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, they called him a liar. They said he made $180,000, and he doesn`t remember anything. And he took no notes. And are you going to believe that? So basically, they really attacked his credibility.

And I have to tell you, they also -- the prosecution also really tried to shore up the credibility of the mother, who`s been so vilified and called every name in the book. And they said something very interesting, Ron Zonen did. He said, The mother said she saw Michael Jackson licking her son`s head on the flight back from Miami. Now, that`s something very bizarre to make up, and she know`s that it`s bizarre. She knows she has a credibility problem. She knows nobody`s going to believe her. But then Bob Jones (ph), Michael Jackson`s longtime manager, testifies very reluctantly and admits he wrote an e-mail saying that he saw Michael Jackson do the very same thing to the `93 boy.

GRACE: Very quickly, 30 seconds left...

VELEZ-MITCHELL: How could he make something like that up?

GRACE: ... Debra Opri -- Debra, we got the defense to finish and the state`s final closing, which should take about an hour. What do you predict?

OPRI: Well, I predict that Mesereau`s going to continue on his discussion of, This is the way it is with the credibility problems. This is the way it is with what your burden is. If there`s reasonable doubt, you must acquit.

I want to say one thing about when Mesereau took over on opening -- or closing arguments. He said, If they have a weak case, and they do, what`s the first they do? They attack the defense attorney. And that`s what they`ve done to me. He made promises, and he`s kept them overall. Wrap. I`m done. I`m done.

GRACE: Sounds like sour grapes for not delivering on promises, to me. We`ll all be right back.

But quickly, to tonight`s "All Points Bulletin." FBI and law enforcement across the country on the lookout for this man, Cesar Carlos Castaneda, wanted in connection with capital murder, burglary and robbery. Castaneda, armed and dangerous, 26 years old, 5-8, 140 pounds, brown hair, brown eyes. Take a look. If you have information on Cesar Carlos Castaneda, please call the FBI, 915-832-5000.

Local news next for some of you, but we`ll all be right back. And remember, live coverage of the Jackson trial tomorrow, 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern on Court TV`s "Closing Arguments." Please stay with us as we remember Chief Warrant Officer Matthew Lourey, 41 an American hero.


GRACE: Welcome back, everybody. We are live in Santa Maria, in the Michael Jackson trial. Here in the studio with me, Jeff Gardere, clinical psychologist. What`s the biggest hurdle for the jury?

GARDERE: I think right now, the biggest hurdle for them is the character of the witnesses on both sides, but especially with the mother. I think they want to believe the mother. It is morally wrong to have children in your bed. But they just don`t know about her stability, her emotional stability.

GRACE: Richard Herman, defense attorney, go ahead. Go out on the limb. How long will jury deliberate? What`s the verdict?

HERMAN: Well, Nancy, if they come in early next week, he`s going to get convicted on it. It`s going to be a clean sweep. It goes towards the end of the week, I think absolutely, two counts of molestation he`s going to be convicted on. And the rest either convictions or a hung jury.

GRACE: To Jim Moret.

MORET: I`m guessing that -- you know, I really think that Michael Jackson`s looking at possible conviction on two counts of molestation, specifically, the ones that the boy himself...


MORET: ... testified to.

GRACE: Anne Bremner?

MORET: That`s my gut feeling.

BREMNER: I agree, and I -- you know, I think everyone gets so much information every day, they lose their common sense. It`s a common-sense case. (INAUDIBLE) to this jury. At least two counts molestation and the alcohol.

GRACE: Debra Opri?

OPRI: Biggest hurdles are...

GRACE: No, no, no! Verdict and -- verdict and time of deliberation.

OPRI: Acquittal, acquittal, acquittal. Biggest hurdles, putting the adult materials aside and getting over him sleeping with boys.

GRACE: Jane Velez-Mitchell?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, since all the other bets are taken, who knows, but I`ll just throw it out there for a hung jury on most counts.

GRACE: Oh, good Lord!

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I mean, I was trying to be different.

GRACE: What do you really think, Jane? You think that they`re going to split the baby?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I do feel that they could be split, just like the media splits so emotionally. It`s -- age could be the big factor here. I noticed that the younger people seem to drift more during the prosecution`s case than the older people. It could be a generation gap. Could be.

GRACE: Jane Velez-Mitchell at the courthouse. Thank you, dear.

I want to thank all of my guests tonight. But as always, every night, my biggest thank you is to you for being with all of us and inviting us into your homes. And speaking of all of all of us, I think the control room has something to say tonight. Good-bye from the control room, my floor crew. I`m not out here alone. Good-bye from all of us here at NANCY GRACE. Coming up, headlines from all around the world. Larry on CNN. I`m Nancy Grace signing off for tonight. Hope to see you right here tomorrow night, 8:00 o`clock sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.


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