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PAULA ZAHN NOW
JonBenet Ramsey Murder Suspect Set to Face Extradition Hearing; The Case Against John Mark Karr
Aired August 21, 2006 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everybody. Glad to have you with us tonight.
Our "Top Story" is the JonBenet Ramsey case, and it is as strange as it can get. Suspect John Mark Karr is now back in the U.S., waiting to be transferred to Colorado to face charges he killed the 6- year-old beauty queen.
At this moment, Karr is in a high-security cell in an L.A. jail, just hours away from an extradition hearing. He arrived in L.A. early this morning in the custody of U.S. immigration officers. He got there after a bizarre 15-hour plane flight from Thailand. He sat in a business-class seat, at times, surrounded by reporters and cameras, and was served roast duck, champagne, chardonnay, and beer.
Now, once he is extradited to Colorado, he will be held in a Boulder jail, most likely in a special section for those accused of crimes against children.
Tonight, we will have in-depth coverage of all these developments in this case, with live reports from L.A. and Boulder.
Our "Top Story" coverage begins with John Karr's journey to justice. It has already taken several unpredictable turns.
Our Dan Simon is live in Los Angeles at the jail some call the prison to the stars -- Dan.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, if you're a celebrity who has been busted for a crime in this town, chances are you have been brought to this facility behind me.
And, like other high-profile people, John Mark Karr has been put into isolation.
SIMON (voice-over): The L.A. County jail system has had its share of noteworthy inmates, including O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake.
Its newest resident, John Mark Karr, is now confined to a six-by- nine cell in a secure wing of what's called the Twin Towers jail in downtown Los Angeles. Karr was issued standard prison blues.
STEVE WHITMORE, SPOKESPERSON, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: We will keep him in a single cell, and he will be housed here, until he makes his last leg to Boulder, Colorado.
SIMON: That trip could be as soon as tomorrow, possibly after an early-morning extradition hearing. Such hearings are usually non- events, but, in a case of this notoriety, every detail is closely monitored, even what the suspect ate on his weekend flight from Thailand.
STEVE CRON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: You keep your mouth shut. You don't talk to the media or you don't talk to anybody in jail.
SIMON: Criminal defense attorney Steve Cron says that's what he would advise Karr to do the next time he appears in public. So far, he says, Karr's public statements have only harmed his case.
Cron says, the only purpose of an extradition hearing is to establish identity. He sees no purpose for Karr to contest it, unless:
CRON: He wants to spend some more time in the L.A. County jail. I don't know too many people that go there voluntarily.
SIMON: Karr will have to appear before a Los Angeles judge, and, most likely, will have a lawyer present, though none has been officially appointed.
Karr's transcontinental trek to Colorado is almost over. It started yesterday morning in Bangkok, with a 15-hour plane ride to Los Angeles. Once on the ground, authorities quickly took Karr away and arrested him. He flew on a helicopter to the jail, where he now awaits the next phase of this bizarre criminal proceeding.
ZAHN: So, Dan, do we have any idea how long that hearing is going to take tomorrow?
SIMON: Well, it's supposed to take just a few minutes.
And, Paula, it's -- it's also going to be televised, so, everybody is going to see it, just a few minutes. It's supposed to be routine. But, Paula, as we have seen, nothing in this case has been routine -- back to you.
ZAHN: You got that right, and then some. Dan Simon, thanks so much.
Now, barring any legal upset, and if it goes as smoothly as our friend just described, John Mark Karr will soon be on his way to Boulder, Colorado, and more interrogation.
But, already, some amazing new details about his life have surfaced, and how they might affect the case is anyone's guess.
Our "Top Story" coverage moves now to Boulder where, Susan Candiotti is covering Karr's past and immediate future.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Paula.
And, of course, the question remains, what is that sticky material that's going to be needed to make a case come together and hold up in court? That's a closely guarded secret. But what even Boulder authorities do not know is precisely when John Mark Karr will be arriving here, but they're ready for him.
CANDIOTTI (voice-over): When murder suspect John Karr arrives in Boulder, this will be his home. But where exactly he will be put inside the Boulder County jail has yet to be decided.
COMMANDER DWIGHT HILL, BOULDER, COLORADO, SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Mental health would have to evaluate him, and medical would have to evaluate him.
CANDIOTTI: One thing is known. He will be issued a standard orange jumpsuit worn by all inmates. For a man who Thai authorities say requested a shirt and tie to wear, so he would look like a teacher when he headed to the states, Karr is apparently a man keenly aware of his image, an image he may have wanted to change.
Karr was undergoing treatment at a clinic in Thailand to remove facial hair. "The Denver Post" quotes his doctor as saying, "The reason he wanted to do hair removal was because he wanted to do a sex change."
CNN has not yet confirmed Karr's intent at the clinic.
JOHN MARK KARR, SUSPECT: I loved JonBenet, and she died accidentally.
CANDIOTTI: Before Karr stunned the world with his claim he was with JonBenet Ramsey when she died, he was hopscotching the world as a teacher of young children, not only in Thailand, but in a remote poor rural area of Honduras.
In 1994, one school found him on the Internet and took him on as a volunteer. He lasted only three weeks.
"He was very difficult," she says. "He didn't like the school rules. He was a problem. And that's why we decided to fire him."
From there, Karr found work teaching second-graders for eight months, a loner on his own time, but the school's director called him strict and said he helped the children a great deal. Why Karr left Honduras is unclear.
His resume boasts of teaching and caring for children in Costa Rica and Germany. At the time, he was on the run from the law, skipping out on a court appearance on a misdemeanor child pornography case in 2001. What he never ran away from, say those who knew him, was his unexplained obsession with JonBenet Ramsey's murder. But what do police know that led to his arrest? Was it in part what a U.S. law enforcement official told CNN, that he knew specific details about the little girl's body, known only to the medical examiner and investigators?
BOB GRANT, FORMER ADAMS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: So, I hope they have got evidence. I hope they have got something more than, this guy, who is obviously a wing nut, sitting, you know, in a -- in a Thai press conference, saying, I was with her when she died.
ZAHN: All right, Susan, of course, when we're talking evidence, we could specifically be talking DNA evidence. So, where does the case stand on that tonight?
CANDIOTTI: Well, of course, DNA, if they can get a match, could be the irrefutable evidence that John Karr is the killer.
But we still don't know whether that sample has already been taken, whether it will be taken here, and whether he will give a sample voluntarily, or whether a court order will be necessary.
And then there's the soft evidence to be considered as well, such as handwriting comparisons, considered soft evidence, because there's no scientific proof that that can be a match. It might be up to a jury to decide that -- all of this, Paula, part of the ongoing investigation.
ZAHN: Susan Candiotti, thanks so much.
Now, right now, investigators in the Ramsey case are making an intense effort to get as much information as possible from the suspect, as Susan just described.
And that's Greg Hartley's specialty. He's a behavior consultant who worked at the U.S. Army's interrogation school, happens to be the author of "How to Spot a Liar." And he joins us tonight.
Good to have you with us.
GREG HARTLEY, AUTHOR, "HOW TO SPOT A LIAR: WHY PEOPLE DON'T TELL THE TRUTH AND HOW YOU CAN CATCH THEM": Thank you for having me, Paula.
ZAHN: My pleasure.
So, let's talk about interrogation tactics for a moment. Here you have got a guy who has already said a bunch of self-incriminating things. How is it that interrogators are going to try work out more details?
HARTLEY: Well, it's interesting, because now the police are in an information-gathering role, kind of like an intelligence interrogation, as opposed to a confession interrogation. If you want a confession, it's relatively easy to get. When you're after actionable intelligence information, to know, in fact, if the guy did commit the crime, or if he's spoken to someone who has committed the crime, you have to be cautious, so that you don't taint his information.
ZAHN: You talk about actionable intelligence.
ZAHN: How concerned do these interrogators need to be about his intelligence level, period, in -- in how to calibrate this interrogation?
HARTLEY: Well, I think, when they start, there are two things we have to be concerned with. If you go in and you suddenly are after just getting the details of his -- of his confession, and you happen to bleed information to him that gives him even more, then you have no way to know whether he actually did this or not.
What we typically do is, we will give out information that's erroneous, as part of the interrogation. And, if the person validates that erroneous information, then, we're -- we suspect they're not, in fact, the guilty party.
Then, what we would want to know is, how did you find out this information about the body? There are certain things we can use. We can look for eye movement. We can look for baselining different kinds of behaviors, so that we can tell where this person's mind is going when they're retrieving information.
If, in fact, they're just recalling something they heard, and they can't support the details, then, we would -- we would want to know where they found that information from.
As I watch his face, I have not yet seen him go into a visual memory, from a body language point of view. And, so, I'm concerned. Is -- does this guy actually know anything, or has he spoken with someone who knows? And we have only had 60 seconds of his video. So, it's difficult...
ZAHN: So, if -- if he's a bright guy, is it true that you sometimes will use the technique where you make it sound like the murderer was a really dumb guy...
HARTLEY: Sure. Oh, yes.
ZAHN: ... to try to elicit more information out of him?
HARTLEY: Yes. I think -- I think you would want to insult his ego, so that, in fact, he will let you know.
That's how Ted Bundy broke, is, you push him and let him know that you think he's stupid, and he will tell you: No, I'm not stupid. In fact, here is where it's at.
There's several, maybe 15, different approaches or psychological ploys that we would use to try to get through to this person. And everyone knows the good cop/bad cop, but there are much more sophisticated ploys than that.
ZAHN: What are we to read into the way he was treated on this flight? On one hand, I have seen -- people interpreted that as stoking his ego in -- in some way, or appearing to be even sympathetic to his plight?
HARTLEY: Well, interestingly, there's only so much that law enforcement people can do. They have to treat him -- and, hopefully, we all get treated this way, if we're ever accused of a crime -- as innocent until proven guilty.
However, because of the -- the nature of this case, and because there is so much media attention, he is a celebrity of sorts. We know that. That may be the very reason, if he confessed falsely, that he's doing this. He's enjoying the opportunity, even if it is at someone else's expense, to get a few minutes of fame.
ZAHN: I guess we will maybe not find that out soon, but somewhere down the road.
Greg Hartley, thanks for your expertise.
HARTLEY: Thank you. Hopefully, we get DNA.
ZAHN: Yes. And that is what a lot of people are -- are banking on.
Now, coming up: more "Top Story" coverage, including some very puzzling questions that determined the course of the entire JonBenet Ramsey investigation.
ZAHN (voice-over): The case against and for John Mark Karr -- does the prosecution have enough to bring him to trial? How do you defend a man who's told the world that he is not innocent? A very bizarre murder case starts to take shape.
Plus: champagne and chardonnay -- the suspect's strange flight home, an eyewitness account of what it was like to be on the plane -- all that and more just ahead.
ZAHN: The JonBenet Ramsey case is our "Top Story" tonight.
And, coming up, we Are going to take you aboard the surreal 15- hour plane flight from Bangkok that brought suspect John Mark Karr back to the U.S. Why was he flying business class anyway?
But, first: Is it possible that John Mark Karr killed JonBenet Ramsey? That answer hangs on hard evidence placing him at the scene of the crime. Given what we know, where does that case stand tonight?
Joining me now, Steven Pitt, a forensic psychiatrist who was a consultant to the Boulder Police Department and the DA's office during its investigation.
STEVEN PITT, FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIST: Good evening.
ZAHN: Good evening.
So, a lot has been made of some of the discrepancies in the story that Mr. Karr has told investigators. What do you make of his story?
PITT: What I make of it, Paula, is that only time will tell. At the end of the day, Mr. Karr has interjected himself into this case. He has made a confession.
But what we need to wait for is the physical evidence. That is the physical evidence that links Mr. Karr to the crime scene. Only then will we know what we have. Until that happens, the case remains wide open and unsolved.
ZAHN: Let's say the DNA evidence doesn't end up being a match. If this was all about this man's 15 minutes of fame, and just being absolutely obsessed with JonBenet Ramsey, does he retract everything he told investigators?
PITT: I don't know that he retracts it.
I think Mr. Karr, for lack of a better descriptor. has some issues. To be sure, there are people that interject themselves in high-profile cases, both at a local and at a national level. They do it for a number of reasons, either because they're emotionally compromised, looking for fame, trying to remove themself from some other predicament. We just don't know hand. And we won't know until we get more information.
ZAHN: Does it trouble you that he was in contact with this professor for about a four-year period?
PITT: Most definitely.
And the $64,000 question is, if in fact they were in contact for four years, why now? What was going on in this past seven- to 10-day period that caused everyone to move on Mr. Karr? Law enforcement agencies are very adept at keeping someone under surveillance for hours, days, weeks, and even months at a time. The question becomes, why now?
ZAHN: You have worked on this case for many, many years. And, obviously, you came up with a profile of the killer. Does it match anything with the profile that is emerging of Mr. Karr?
PITT: Well, let me correct you. I don't know that I came up with a profile. I can safely say that there are really two camps or two ideologies in this case.
There are people that believe that an intruder committed this offense. There are people who believe that an intruder didn't commit this offense. At the end of the day, it really is about a search for the truth and where the physical evidence takes us.
It doesn't matter my profile or what I think. It really matters what the physical evidence says. And, until we're able to put those pieces together, and answer some of these unanswered questions, only then will we know for sure what we have got.
ZAHN: But -- but, clearly, investigators do look at profiles, as they are in the middle of -- of what has been a very lengthy investigation here.
ZAHN: Isn't -- that -- that has got to be useful to them...
ZAHN: ... some of these details they're finding out about him.
PITT: There -- there's no question, Paula, that that's useful. But I don't know of anyone in the history of crime who has been convicted on the basis of a profile.
Profiling itself is an investigative tool. It's an adjunct to an investigation. Done appropriately, it can be very helpful. Done inappropriately, it can cause a -- a tremendous waste of manpower, and lead people astray.
ZAHN: Steven Pitt, we're going to leave it there tonight.
PITT: Thank you.
ZAHN: Glad to have you on the air.
PITT: My pleasure.
ZAHN: And, all through the Ramsey investigation, there has been a major divide between police and the parents of JonBenet, long considered under suspicion in this case.
Joining me now is Ollie Gray, a private investigator who was hired by the Ramseys and worked with the family for several years.
OLLIE GRAY, FORMER PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR FOR RAMSEYS: Thank you, Paula. ZAHN: I don't know how much of Mr. Pitt's interview you could hear, but one of the theories that he is potentially accepting is the fact that John Mark Karr might have interjected himself into the case, and -- and maybe isn't the killer of JonBenet, after all. How do you look at it?
GRAY: Well, I didn't really understand, Paula, that he said that particular comment.
I thought he said that we were in a wait-and-see mode at this time, and real evidence was going to have to be applied to Mr. Karr's comments, actions, and other things that would affect this investigation.
ZAHN: So, are you fairly confident that evidence exists, if the DA sprung into action the way she did?
GRAY: I don't know what the district attorney's office used, Paula, to make their probable cause affidavit.
But I'm fully confident that those individuals within Mary Lacy's department are good investigators. And I'm sure that there's something there that we don't know about. And I think we really have to let them have their time to go ahead and cross the T's and dot the I's, and either put this to bed or move on.
ZAHN: There are some folks out there that are saying that the DA has acted prematurely here. It doesn't sound like you -- you feel that way, having watched this department in action for a long, long time.
GRAY: Well, as you know, Paula, we always get a lot of armchair quarterbacks that like to -- hindsight is 20/20.
I have to go along with the district attorney and her staff's work on this matter. And, to me, they completed phase one with the investigation and the arrest of this individual. Phase two is putting it all together, from a litigation, potential, standpoint. And I think they're fully competent in -- to do that.
ZAHN: Well, Ollie Gray, we appreciate your insights tonight. Glad to have you on the air with us.
GRAY: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: Our pleasure.
And there's a lot more of our "Top Story" coverage just ahead.
But, right now, Melissa Long is in our Pipeline studio in Atlanta with our nightly countdown of the top-10 stories on CNN.com -- Melissa.
MELISSA LONG, CNN PIPELINE: Good evening, Paula.
After the weekend, a lot of people wanted to get caught up today. More than 18 million people went on to CNN.com to get caught up on the top stories.
And a story about memories of Osama bin Laden as a teen ranks number 10. A former friend tells CNN that he never expected bin Laden would become the world's most wanted terrorist. You can find out more by watching "In the Footsteps of bin Laden." It's a CNN special airing Wednesday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
Number nine: President Bush says the Iraq war is -- quote -- "straining the psyche of our country," but the president adds, it's too soon to end the mission. Meantime, a new CNN poll done by Opinion Research shows, 61 percent of Americans now oppose the war.
And number eight: The man who captured the iconic image of World War II has died. It's Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal that won a Pulitzer Prize for his photograph of the raising of the American flag over Iwo Jima. Rosenthal was 94 when he passed away.
And we should remind everybody, as well, that that photograph really served as a model for the memorial which stands just outside of Washington.
ZAHN: And it's a spectacular memorial, for folks...
LONG: It is.
ZAHN: ... who haven't had the opportunity to see it since its unveiling a couple years ago.
ZAHN: Melissa, thanks so much.
ZAHN: We're going to see you in a couple of minutes.
And still ahead: How do you defend someone who says he's not innocent? And how do you prosecute, if he has an alibi? The challenges for the defense and the prosecution, if John Mark Karr is charged with killing JonBenet Ramsey.
And, then, a little bit later on, the strange trip home, sipping champagne and beer, swarmed by reporters -- we're going to take you inside Karr's flight back to the U.S.
Please stay with us.
ZAHN: And we continue our "Top Story" coverage right now.
If John Mark Karr is craving attention, he's certainly getting plenty of it tonight. The man who claims he was with JonBenet Ramsey when she died is now awaiting his fate in a high-security jail cell in downtown L.A., where guards look in every 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in Boulder, there's an incredible behind-the-scenes effort going on, as the DA comes up with a strategy to prosecute Karr.
And, tonight, we're going to look at the challenges that the prosecution and Karr's potential eventual defense team will face.
Here is senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin with the case against John Mark Karr.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST (voice-over): The accused has given the prosecution some leads, but they're unlikely to be enough.
His confession is alarming, but it's not a confession to murder. Even if Karr was with JonBenet Ramsey when she died, he claims her death was an accident. So, by itself, the so-called confession is not enough to guarantee a conviction.
That's probably why Boulder district attorney Mary Lacy is being so cautious.
MARY LACY, BOULDER, COLORADO, DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Do not jump to conclusions. Do not jump to judgment. Do not speculate. Let the justice system take its course.
TOOBIN: The DA will need hard evidence, starting with proof of Karr's presence at the crime scene. How could a man in Alabama become so obsessed with a 6-year-old beauty pageant winner in Boulder, Colorado, that he would travel halfway across the country to be with her, and then murder her?
Most importantly, what about physical evidence, like DNA? Karr has already given a sample, but it needs to be matched to the DNA found at the murder scene. There were also fingerprints at the scene and the now famous ransom note. Can they be tied to Karr's prints and his handwriting? Only if the prosecution can answer those outstanding questions might it be able to convince a jury that John Mark Karr is guilty of killing JonBenet Ramsey.
ZAHN: All right.
We're going to get some insights now from our "Top Story" panel.
In addition to our senior legal correspondent, Jeffrey Toobin, who looks very junior tonight...
ZAHN: ... we're joined by criminal defense attorney Mickey Sherman and former prosecutor Wendy Murphy.
Glad to have all three of you with us.
So, describe to us, Jeffrey, what you think is going on behind the scenes tonight with the Boulder DA.
TOOBIN: It's all about corroboration.
We have -- there -- there's a suspect. He has made these incriminating statements. The question is, is there anything that corroborates in the physical evidence? Is there proof that he was in Boulder? Is there proof that he was in the house? Is there proof that he did anything to JonBenet Ramsey? That's what's it's all about, corroboration.
ZAHN: And, of course, we don't have any of that stuff tonight, do we, Wendy?
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: No.
I -- I appreciate Jeffrey's effort. I think it's the best case I have heard so far. And, still, it doesn't amount to very much.
ZAHN: Why is that?
MURPHY: Well -- well, because all you really have is statements from a guy who's clearly mentally unstable.
And it looks like he wasn't even in the state at the time. Now, I actually think, when you're a prosecutor thinking about going forward with a case like this, you not only have to consider the credibility of your confession; you have to consider the strength of the so-called plan-B suspect. In other words, you have to disprove that one of the Ramseys did it, because, in my opinion, there's a boatload of evidence that -- that they were actually involved.
So, you can't just look at this guy's statements. You have to look at the strength of the case against the prime suspects for the past 10 years, and disprove that. And I -- I -- I just think that's not doable in this case.
TOOBIN: You know, Wendy -- Wendy, people in the news have been beating up on the Ramsey family for years.
What about the fact that there is somebody's DNA, and it's not the Ramsey's, in -- on -- on JonBenet underwear? I mean, don't -- don't they get a break for that?
MURPHY: No. No, they don't get a break, because Henry Lee, who I know you respect...
TOOBIN: I certainly do.
MURPHY: ... has said that that little tiny, itsy-bitsy, you know, minuscule piece of DNA, that's not even a full piece of DNA, was probably from the manufacturer. It wasn't semen. It wasn't even, you know, clear that it was a particular type of body fluid.
No, they don't get a break for that. ZAHN: Oh, yes. There's a very bizarre description of how that might have ended up there, Jeffrey...
TOOBIN: The manufacturer.
ZAHN: ... the way...
ZAHN: ... manufactured.
TOOBIN: OK. Well, again...
ZAHN: And they stood on the package when they closed the plastic bag.
TOOBIN: We will see what happens.
ZAHN: But it's a point well taken...
TOOBIN: We will let -- we will let Justice Mickey Sherman decide this.
ZAHN: ... because we have been talking about this cloud of suspicion hanging over the Ramseys for so long now.
ZAHN: So Mickey, we obviously are talking about how critical DNA evidence is in this case. Without it, does this guy spend any more time in jail?
MICKEY SHERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Unless there's some really great physical evidence, that he knew about, that no one else knew about, which is very unlikely, I think, I totally agree with Jeffrey. And I can't believe that Wendy is taking the extra time to slime the Ramsey family once more. And this is what I'm saying. It ain't about the Ramseys. We're talking about whether or not this guy did it.
The problem is sometimes, sometimes you can be convicted simply on your confession. But with this guy he's just so creepy and so weird that nobody's going to believe him if he says he's guilty. They need physical evidence to corroborate it or of course the DNA.
TOOBIN: And his confession, if that's what you want to call it, doesn't comport with the facts of the case. He says she died accidentally. She didn't die accidentally. She was garroted this horrible strangulation death.
MURPHY: I disagree with that. I think she was accidentally killed. Cyril Wecht, who studied this case, believes that it was an accidental death at the hands of her father, that the garrote was used for sexual purposes, that he accidentally asphyxiated her and then...
TOOBIN: ... That's just obscene, Wendy, come on.
(CROSSTALK) SHERMAN: So this guy's saying that the father killed him was an accident.
MURPHY: The whack to the head was after she died. We know the crack to the skull was after she died. If this was an outsider coming in, you don't have to stage the scene to make it look like an outsider.
TOOBIN: I mean, Wendy, do you feel at all bad about accusing a father of killing his 6-year-old daughter when everybody's been...
SHERMAN: ... lie detector test.
MURPHY: Do I feel bad? Are you kidding me? The Ramseys on the morning that child showed up dead in their basement, they hired the most high-powered criminal defense team in Colorado. They got on a jet, they fled the scene. They didn't cooperate at all.
SHERMAN: How can you criticize them for that? If you have a medical problem...
MURPHY: ... They didn't corroborate, Mickey, at all.
SHERMAN: Wendy, if you had a medical problem, wouldn't you get the best doctor available? Why criticize them for getting good talent?
MURPHY: For not cooperating.
ZAHN: You've got to concede, Wendy, if the D.A. really had evidence on either of the Ramseys that might have potentially have led to a trial. We can debate to on the other side of this break. Let's take a short one. We'll be back with all three of you.
Now I want to take a quick break to move on to some other business here. Who ever heard of a murder suspect treated to wine and beer on the flight back home in business class? We're going to take you inside that strange ride to the states.
And a little bit later on, the London terror case, a major step taken in that investigation today. We're going to have all the details for you. Please stay with us.
ZAHN: More now of our top story coverage of the JonBenet Ramsey investigation. The case against John Mark Karr seems filled with uncertainties tonight. And just a few minutes ago, we showed you the incredible burden of proof prosecutors are facing. But how to prove Karr is not guilty? Once again, here is Jeffrey Toobin.
TOOBIN (voice-over): The first thing John Mark Karr's attorney will want to do is tell his client to stop talking.
JOHN MARK KARR, MURDER SUSPECT: I was with JonBenet when she died. Her death was an accident.
TOOBIN: While Karr's words can be used against him, they could also be explained as coming from a man who's deeply disturbed. But then there's Karr's background which could make him a likely suspect. He was married twice to very young women and arrested in 2001 for possession of child pornography. He had a deep, even obsessive interest in the Ramsey case, but none of that is enough to establish that he's a killer.
Where the defense will ask is the physical evidence tying him to the crime? DNA, fingerprints, or a handwriting match on the ransom note? And where's the proof he was ever in Boulder, much less on the night of the murder? And how did he find his way around the sprawling Ramsey home? No answer says the defense, no conviction. But if there is something that can physically place Karr at the crime scene, like a DNA match, the defense will become a very different story. A good defense attorney will then probably start to explore an insanity defense. That's always a long shot, but if the prosecution does turn out to have strong evidence, it might be the only recourse.
ZAHN: Once again, we return to our expert panel who continue to take on the case, this time the possible defense for John Mark Karr. Senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, criminal defense attorney Mickey Sherman, former prosecutor Wendy Murphy, welcome back. So we heard you would tell your client to be quiet, then what?
TOOBIN: Then do nothing. I mean, this is the prosecution's job to find a burden -- it's their burden of proof, and I would just tell him sit there and hope that the forensic evidence doesn't come back tieing you to the crime scene. I don't think he has to do anything at all.
ZAHN: Above and beyond the forensic evidence, Mickey, of course you've got everything he has said to Thai investigators, U.S. officials and potentially this gentleman who was sitting next to him on the plane on his return back to the U.S. How can that be used against him?
SHERMAN: Anything that's incriminating. The problem for the state is that the stuff he's said is to, as Jeffrey points out, so inconsistent with the actual facts as we know them to be. If he actually has chosen something that we don't know about and nobody knows about and nobody should know about, but only the killer could have known, that's a different story.
His problem, as Jeffrey points out, he's making too many statements right now. I mean, I would cut back on those press conferences, and if he does, he shouldn't listen to some guy in a Hawaiian shirt whispering in his ear. I mean, the guy is a loon, and there's a small chance he may be a guilty loon, but I've got to tell you one thing. An insanity defense is never going to fly. I think he's probably insane, but no jury is going to give him that.
ZAHN: Well the one thing, Wendy, that seems to me shouldn't be so hard to prove is this alibi. One of his ex-wives saying that he was with her on that Christmas eve night or the night of the murder. Wouldn't that be pretty easy to do?
MURPHY: Rock solid. Yes, I mean, who doesn't remember where they were on Christmas? Especially if, as this guy did, you have little kids at the time. I think it's going to end up that he wasn't anywhere near Colorado, his wife seemed very certain about it, and the other thing I'd raise as a defense -- which by the way, I think means he's never going to be charged, at least not as the direct killer. He may have some involvement. There could be some pedaling of porn going on that had something to do with the killing, I don't know. I don't think he's going to be charged as a direct killer. One of the other things I'd raise as a defense attorney is that this child had both old and new vaginal injuries, which means whoever did this to her ongoing intimate access to the child...
TOOBIN: ... Wendy, again, I think that's very much disputed evidence.
MURPHY: No, it's not.
TOOBIN: Oh, come on.
MURPHY: Look at the autopsy, it's online.
TOOBIN: But that is not conclusive proof that someone was -- you're again suggesting that she was sexually abused by her parents and if that were true...
MURPHY: ... Where did the old vaginal injuries come from, Jeffrey? She had a torn hymen.
TOOBIN: I don't know that that is conclusive proof and that is not -- I mean, it is not established and I think that is just unfit.
MURPHY: It means it wasn't a stranger that broke in one night, come on. It was not a one-time stranger.
TOOBIN: Maybe it was.
SHERMAN: Wendy, how do you know it wasn't a stranger? How could you possible know that it wasn't a stranger?
MURPHY: The stranger came in last Tuesday and then again this Wednesday? What's the theory? How do you get old vaginal injuries in this case?
TOOBIN: But that evidence is not conclusive, that there were repeated injuries to her in that way. I mean it really isn't.
SHERMAN: Doesn't anybody have any --
MURPHY: I haven't heard the explanation.
SHERMAN: How about the slightest confidence that maybe this district attorney knows what she's doing, maybe she's just not out on a lark arresting some nut case.
MURPHY: I didn't say she didn't know what she's doing. I'm thinking that this guy has evidence, he may have something to do with the case. He was peddling porn. There were a lot of people early on in this case, back in 1997 who said it could well be JonBenet was being photographed pornographically. That garrote, S and M, kiddy porn is the most expensive, the most valuable kiddy porn you can pedal. This guy was peddling porn all over the world. That could be the explanation.
ZAHN: There is no proof of that tonight either, Wendy. And I guess it's just a reminder of all these theories.
MURPHY: In their affidavits in 1997, they wrote it, not me.
TOOBIN: I mean they wrote that the market for that stuff exists, but, I mean, there's never been a photograph, a pornographic photograph of JonBenet Ramsey that's ever surfaced anywhere.
MURPHY: I agree, Jeffrey. I said that's what the police wrote in 1997, in support of the search warrant that they used to search the Ramsey, multiple Ramsey homes. They said this is consistent with child pornography and the garrote around the neck is an S and M child pornography.
SHERMAN: The state police force that didn't look anywhere else except for the Ramsey family, that's the same police force.
MURPHY: Because they are smart.
ZAHN: All right we've got to leave it there. Jeffrey Toobin is not surprised that John Ramsey said through a spokesperson today that he is tempted to leave the country as this cloud of suspicion continues to engulf this family with no charges filed against anybody in that family. Jeffrey Toobin, Mickey Sherman, Wendy Murphy, thank you all.
But first let's go straight back to Melissa Long for more of our count down, Melissa.
LONG: All right Paula and the topics really cover the gamut today. Up to number seven, the government says that starting in 2011 auto makers will have to tell car owners if there are event data recorders, you know them as black boxes in their vehicles. Now, 64 percent of the 2005 model year cars have these boxes.
Number six tonight, the release of Paris Hilton's debut CD. It is called "Paris." She ways in, saying,"I, like, cry when I listen to it, it's so good." If you want to weigh in and review it, it's on store shelves tomorrow.
And at number five this evening, British authorities announced the first criminal charges for 11 of the 22 suspects held in the alleged plot to blow up ten trans-Atlantic jets. And Paula I know how you will have much more on this story coming up on your show.
ZAHN: For those that are counting, just about ten minutes from now, Melissa, thanks, appreciate it.
And more on the Ramsey case still ahead, including your ticket to one of the strangest plane flights you could ever imagine with a suspected child killer sitting in business class, drinking champagne, beer, we're told, being served duck, it's all there. We're going to show you.
ZAHN: We're now in our top story coverage, the JonBenet Ramsey case in just a minute, but "LARRY KING LIVE" will becoming up at the top of the hour and he's going to be focussing in on that as well. Who's joining you tonight Larry? Welcome back from vacation.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, dear. We're right on top of it with Lin Wood, the attorney for the Ramsey family. It's his first major media appearance to discuss this, and he'll tell us all about how Mr. Ramsey is dealing with it, and Michael Tracy, the University of Colorado journalism professor, who has been doing all that e-mails with the subject or suspect or whatever he is. All that and lots more, journalists on top of the scene as well, right at the top of the hour, immediately following you.
ZAHN: Thank you, Larry. Whatever he is, that is the big question tonight. We're all trying to figure out. Thanks, Larry.
Our top story coverage now moves on to John Mark Karr's 15-hour flight from Thailand to the U.S. The man who is a suspect in the death of JonBenet Ramsey was served three sumptuous meals, wine, even managed to stretch out for an occasional nap. Investigative correspondent Drew Griffin was with Karr on that long flight from Bangkok to L.A.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A half-hour before the flight was to leave Bangkok International passengers expecting this to be a routine flight looked up and saw that it would not. Escorted by a group of Thai immigration officers, John Karr was being brought to the plane through the terminal, through security, his bags checked like everyone else, his eyes vacillating between vacant stairs and intense alert, display nervousness.
When bag inspectors find eye drops inside his bag, he's told to use them, a procedure to make sure the liquid is indeed eye drops. He shyly turns away, trying to hide the procedure from all those who are staring. After several uncomfortable moments where Karr sits at the gate and avoids questions, he's brought on board first to take his seat. He will spend the next 15 hours by the window in the last row of business class.
At his side at all times and awake at all times two immigration officers and one member of the Boulder County DA's office, all around them passenger who are learning the man receiving all this media attention is not a celebrity but a suspected child killer.
KABIR POKARDAS, PASSENGER: I don't feel threatened, I don't feel anything. I mean obviously he's just as human as we all are.
GRIFFIN (on camera): You just don't want an accused murder on your flight whoever he is?
POKARDAS: I think that's right. It's not the fact that it's an accused murder, I think it's just the sentiment of everyone around here and moreover, the media frenzy.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Secretly, a Thai Airways flight attendant would admit to a CNN photographer she is scared, especially when she has to serve the suspect the three meals he would have during the flight. Thai Airways would not allow handcuffs. The officers told me if there was any trouble they felt they would be in complete control. Three times during the flight John Karr would go to the bathroom. Each time officers would lead the way, stand outside the small lavatory, and one would place his foot in the door.
The shy John Karr could use the bathroom, but only with the door open. Just before arriving he would change shirts, put on a tie, comb his hair. Upon arrival the plane was greeted by at least a dozen officers and airline officials. Through the airplane door we could see the handling of this suspect was about to change. When the door opened, the media was pushed back. John Karr was whisked out with one last chance to say something and one last time to dart his eyes without talking.
(on camera): Mr. Karr do you have anything to say now that you are in the United States?
GRIFFIN: Paula, it was a frustrating trip for us. We spent 15 hours trying to get him to say anything. He wouldn't. At one point I even slipped him a note, a piece of paper and a pen and said look, if we got any part of your story wrong, write it down on this note if you don't want to talk to us, just send us anything. That note, just like our questions, went unanswered.
ZAHN: Maybe a very smart defense attorney has gotten to him Drew, if this ends up going to trial. So, I know you observed him the whole flight. There's been a lot of talk about what he ate, what he drank. What did you see?
GRIFFIN: Well, he was served what everybody in business class was served, Paula. And it sounds a lot more sumptuous than it was. I didn't see him drink the wine, but I'm not surprised he had a glass of wine, or maybe even had a beer with dinner.
But, you know sumptuous meals, they sound good, but it's still airline food all the way. I didn't think it was that big of a deal. And certainly he was not getting drunk.
You know, he was in business class for security reasons, they wanted to keep him away from coach that was very crowded and had kids. So he got the business class service. ZAHN: Sure. But I think that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, because they didn't think an alleged child killer should be given that kind of treatment and you heard from some of them on that plane.
Drew Griffin, thanks.
Our top story coverage continues in just a moment. First, let's go back to Melissa Long who has more of our countdown.
LONG: And number four, Paula, a story you have been covering in terrific detail tonight, John Mark Karr marks his first court appearance tomorrow for a hearing about his possible extradition to Colorado. Karr as you know is being held in Los Angeles.
And number three, a city normally in the news for (INAUDIBLE) soldiers or brutal winter weather, and that's Watertown, New York. A Sunday school teacher in that community has been fired after church leaders decided that the Bible says women cannot teach men. Mary Lambert had taught at that church for 54 years, Paula.
ZAHN: Surprise we can't hear her scream in the night. Melissa, thanks.
Let's move on tonight to our top international story, the airline terror investigation in Britain where nearly a dozen suspects are facing terror charges tonight.
ZAHN: The alleged plot to blow up planes flying from London to the U.S. is tonight's other top story. Just hours from now, 11 suspects will appear in court a day after being charged with terrorism offenses. Today British police provided new details about the investigation and Deborah Feyerick has more.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If the plot targeted U.S. airlines had succeeded, it's likely no one on board any of the ten planes would have survived, those thousands of potential deaths were reflected in the charges filed against eight of the suspects in custody.
SUSAN HEMMING, COUNTER-TERRORISM PROSECUTOR: Those individuals are being charged with conspiracy to murder and the new offense of preparing acts of terrorism.
FEYERICK: Chief prosecutor for counter-terrorism, Susan Hemming, announced the charges saying the eight plans to smuggle, build, then detonate a bomb on board each of the planes.
A source close to investigators tells CNN it appears the younger members of the terror cell were picked to be the suicide bombers.
Three other suspects, one of them a woman, face terror related charges like not alerting authorities. So far, the investigation has produced suspects in Britain and in Pakistan, but it's nowhere near complete.
PETER CLARKE, DEUPTY POLICE COMMISSIONER: The scale is immense. Inquiries will span the globe.
FEYERICK: British authorities usually do not disclose evidence for fear of undermining potential trials, but after a botched antiterror raid in June and deep skepticism in Britain's Muslim community, authorities from Scotland Yard made clear they had their evidence. It includes so-called martyrdom tapes, key video and audio surveillance recordings, even bomb building materials.
CLARKE: There are chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide, electrical components, documents, and other items.
FEYERICK: Scotland Yard antiterrorism chief Peter Clarke says sorting through the evidence will take months, in part because there's so much of it.
CLARKE: We've found more than 400 computers, 200 mobile telephones and 8,000 items of removable storage media such as memory sticks, CDs, and DVDs.
FEYERICK: Publicly, authorities have not tied any evidence to any particular individual.
(on camera): Intelligence experts say by revealing some evidence, Scotland Yard was sending a message: the net will be wide and anyone possibly involved in the plot, no matter what country, had better beware.
Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.
ZAHN: And we move on to Melissa Long to wrap up our countdown tonight -- Melissa.
LONG: Paula, at number 2, K-Fed, that's Britney Spears' husband, Kevin Federline, performing at the 8th annual Teen Choice Awards in Los Angeles.
And at number one tonight, a massive manhunt ends in Blacksburg, Virginia with the capture of an escaped inmate William Charles Morgan (ph). Authorities saying Morgan (ph) has been missing for two days. He is accused of killing a sheriff's deputy and a hospital guard while on the run. And this story still number one and a huge banner on our page right now at CNN.com.
ZAHN: I know people following very closely. Thanks, Melissa.
Coming up at the top of the hour, Larry King has an exclusive interview with the Ramsey attorney Lin Wood. We'll be right back.
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