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Baseball Bombshell

Aired December 13, 2007 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, was this a really bad day for baseball?
Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Barry Bonds a few of the many star players named in a just released bombshell report.


SENATOR GEORGE MITCHELL, LED MLB PROBE INTO SUBSTANCE USE & ABUSE: There has been widespread illegal use of anabolic steroids by players in major league baseball.

KING: Has America's favorite pastime been disgraced?

Then, another twist in the bizarre case of Drew Peterson and his missing wife Stacy. This time it involves gunfire. Our panel of celebrity judges and other legal eagles discuss all the day's red hot topics.

All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin with an old friend, former Senator George Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader. He has overseen a 20-month investigation into steroid abuse and performance enhancing drug abuse in major league baseball. His report was released today.

The senator and I have spent many an hour talking baseball. It's our favorite sport for both of us. It's almost in our blood.

Was this hard for you to do, George?

MITCHELL: It was in many respects, Larry. I'm a life long fan. I still am. I hope to go to a lot of games next year. But I think it was an important day. And my hope is that it will be a turning point and we can get everybody to start looking forward, not to the past, and to get everyone working together to take the steps necessary to prevent this from occurring again.

KING: What surprised you the most about this report, to you?

MITCHELL: The most surprising thing, Larry, was to learn that several hundred thousand young Americans -- high school aged kids -- are using steroids or other substances. You know, it's one thing to talk about several dozen major league baseball players -- but our children, American children are abusing steroids. And they are at huge risk when they do because they're at an age when they're undergoing serious hormonal changes. The psychological and physical risks to them are much greater than they are to mature adults. There have already been a few highly publicized suicides. And I think whether you're a baseball fan or not, that ought to shock and alarm every American and lead us to take action to deal with it.

KING: That came out in this investigation?

MITCHELL: That was out before, Larry. There's a man named Don Hooten, whose son, Tyler Hooten, a very fine young man, took anabolic steroids as an athlete. He lives just outside of Dallas. And then committed suicide. There have been others in similar situations and there's been quite a bit of study about it.

And I tried to use this as a way to call attention to that, because I think it's something that most Americans aren't aware of and they ought to be.

KING: You're a man of the law. Legally, these are all allegations, right? They're not charges. This is not criminal...

MITCHELL: That's right.

KING: None of these boys are going to -- are going to go to jail.

MITCHELL: That's right.

KING: Those who have played already, you can't do anything to them -- maybe not admit them to the Hall of Fame. The commissioner maybe could suspend some for a few days. The baseball union could appeal it, etc.

Should we remind people of that, that these are allegations?

MITCHELL: They are, indeed, Larry. They're backed by solid evidence -- the best we could uncover in the circumstances. I also want to make clear that every player named in the report -- I invited him to come in and meet with me, to talk with me, to give me a chance to tell him what information I had received and to give him a chance to respond. In fact, one player did that. He came in with his personal attorney. He admitted that he bought the illegal drugs. He admitted that he possessed them. But he said he didn't use them. And he backed up his story with credible evidence. He was telling the truth and so I didn't put him in the report. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of players refused to meet with me and wouldn't talk with me. And, as a consequence, I don't have their versions of events.

KING: Bud Selig, the commissioner, responded today at length.

Let's just watch a quick portion of what he said.


BUD SELIG, MLB COMMISSIONER: What I said is that I'm going to review his findings and the factual support for those findings. And punishment will then be determined on a case by case basis. I will take action when I believe it's appropriate, particularly, of course, when I believe it affects the integrity of the sport. And so if action is needed, action will be taken.


KING: You recommended no punishment.


MITCHELL: Well, I urged the commissioner not to impose discipline except in those cases when he determined it necessary to protect the integrity of the game for several reasons.

First, off, Larry, most of these accusations are old -- between two and nine years for current players. During that time, baseball's rules changed quite a bit.

Secondly, under the law, you have to use the law that existed at the time of the action. And during much of that period, there was no penalty for a first offense for a violation of the drug program.

Third, you have to look forward. I learned in Northern Ireland that it's a very hard thing to turn away from the past, especially if there are any unresolved questions. But it's the only way that you can deal effectively with these problems in the future. I think you need everybody pulling together to try to come up with a program that I've recommended or other actions that will prevent this from happening the future.

KING: A lot of these cases were places -- were players of somewhat limited ability just trying to get a little better -- trying to make the team, right?

MITCHELL: That's right, Larry. It ranges the full spectrum of players, from the very best -- some of the very greatest in baseball history -- to others who played for a short time in the majors; others who had been there for a while and wanted to extend their careers. In fact, as we point out in the report, one player said that. He'd been in the majors for several years. He wanted to get one more year in to help support his family. And so he bought and used steroids.

There is no pattern to it. It's widespread. Every one of the 30 clubs has had on its roster one or more players who, at some time in their careers, have used steroids or other substances.

KING: The player who cooperated with you is Jason Giambi, right?

MITCHELL: There were others. Jason Giambi did because he was required to do so by the commissioner. And Jason was very forthright, very frank. He admitted what he had done. He described it in some detail. He regretted it. And I think that was the right course of action for him. And I believe it would be for others who are in a similar situation.

KING: Baseball had its greatest year ever in 2007. It made more money than it ever made. And it looks like it's going to make more in 2008, based on television contracts and the like.

Can we say, then, that the fans -- this is incidental to them?

MITCHELL: Well, certainly, Larry, the fans love the game and they will keep coming -- as I will. I am a fan. I hope to go to a lot of games next year.

But I think there also is concern about -- among the fans and filled with some skepticism -- about what is happening on the field. And I think what they would like is to see a combined effort of everyone involved, -- commissioner, clubs, players association, players -- to come up with the best program possible to put this behind them so the fans can talk about and kibbitz and argue about what's happening on the field and between their teams, not what's happening off the field.

KING: Thanks so much, George.

Thanks for your work and thanks for all you do.

Good seeing you.

MITCHELL: Thanks, Larry.

KING: George Mitchell, former Senator. He, of course, resolved the situation in Northern Ireland.

It's not time for the seventh inning stretch yet.

When we come back, the president of major league baseball and the former star who really started all of this, Jose Canseco.

Don't go away.


MITCHELL: I urge the commissioner to forgo imposing discipline on players for past violations of baseball's rules on performance enhancing substances, including the players named in this report, except in those cases where he determines that the conduct is so serious that discipline is necessary to maintain the integrity of the game.



KING: Joining us now in New York is Bob Dupuy, the president and chief operating officer of major league baseball. And Jose Canseco, the former major league baseball star -- one of the first to go public with all this. In fact, his "Juice" in 2005 really broke it open. He followed that up with a book called "Vindicated."

Bob, how damaging is this to your sport?

BOB DUPUY, PRESIDENT, CANTON, OHIO, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: I don't think it's damaging, Larry. I think this was a necessary step in moving forward and beginning to bring closure to the steroid area. While, obviously, everyone is saddened by the number of names that are on the list, we are encouraged to receive word from the senator that our steroid program is, in fact, working -- our drug testing program is working in eliminating steroids from the game. And I think this was a necessary and positive step for the game.

KING: He suggests no discipline except in certain special cases.

Do you share that view?

DUPUY: Well, the commissioner will look at each. And as you indicated with the senator, a number of these players are already out of the game. In terms of the current players, you know, we've received the report today. We'll look at the allegations with regard to each of them. I think it's important that we step up our nontesting investigations of players since they have apparently turned to some drugs that are not detectable, such as HGH. A couple of the players in the report have already been disciplined on that basis -- Jay Givens, Jose Guillen.

I think it's important that we review each of the cases with those precedences in mind and take a look at it.

KING: Jose, do you -- do you feel now that -- are you surprised by any of this or not?

JOSE CANSECO, FORMER MLB PLAYER: No, not at all. Actually, I think the short is -- the list was extremely short. I'm sure there are an abundance of other players that weren't caught in that situation. But like Bob said, yes, it's a necessary evil to put this to be on major league baseball, to put it out there completely in the open and just move forward.

KING: When you used it, did you feel you were doing wrong?

CANSECO: Well, when I first started using it, it was 1984. And, really, there were no regulations and laws about it. I didn't feel like I was doing anything wrong because it wasn't a big deal back then. It wasn't like it was later on confronted by either major league baseball or the players association. It was part of a daily routine.

KING: Do you fear, Bob, many fans will, based on the nature of being charged, will assume guilt?

DUPUY: No, I don't think so. I think that the fans recognize that the program we have in place is working. Remember, in 2003, when we did survey testing, you know, we had between 5 and 7 percent positives, which was between 80 and 100 players.

With 3,000 tests this year, there were only three positive tests for steroids -- which is .1 percent. So I think fans recognize that the commissioner is committed to cleaning up the game and to give the fans the comfort level that what they're seeing is a -- is a level playing field.

KING: Jose, did anybody on this list surprise you? CANSECO: No one at all. I definitely believe it's a short list. One issue I am having is with the Roger Clemens being named. And I think part of the report Mitchell came out with says that I actually supplied him or gave him steroids, which is completely false.

KING: In other words, the Mitchell Report says you gave Clemens steroids and you're saying you did not?

CANSECO: Absolutely not. And I'll take a polygraph on that. That's the most incorrect thing in that report, definitely.

KING: Well, Bob, that should give you pause. If that was incorrect, there may be other things that are incorrect.

Should we look inside the report?

DUPUY: Larry, first of all, I don't believe the report said what Jose claims it does. But, more importantly, this is not about individual players, individual cases. While that's obviously going to be the headline today and tomorrow, what it's about is understanding what happened over the last decade, why it happened, how it happened and how we can avoid it happening in the future and to adopt the recommendations that the senator has made and that the commissioner has already embraced so that it won't happen again in the future.

KING: Bob, do you think fans will keep coming in droves?

DUPUY: I'd like to think so, Larry. I think fans care very deeply about the game. They care about the integrity of the records. As you know, our sport is one that's passed down from generation to generation. Grandfathers take their granddaughters. Grandmothers take their grandsons. They talk about records that happened in their era and our fans want to know that those records can be compared against records of previous era fairly.

KING: Back to Can -- to Clemens for a minute, Jose.

If the charges are true, are you surprised?

CANSECO: No. No. But I never personally dealt with Roger. I mean I did speak with him about it at a certain time -- what concern chemicals do in -- not in depth, but I would not be surprised. But I'm being told -- I mean I haven't read the report personably, but I'm being told that one segment specified that he acquired steroids through myself, which is completely wrong. Again, I'm being called a liar by either major league baseball -- and I've proven myself 100 percent without -- within the benefit of the doubt -- to be accurate. And, again, I'm confronted by major league baseball calling me a liar. I don't know when this is going to stop. This is ridiculous to me.

KING: Should Roger's records be -- if they are tainted -- should it affect Hall of Fame and things like that?

CANSECO: Well, it's going to depend, because now we're realizing that there were so many members in this steroid era that I think you can't just say, OK, one pitcher shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame because he was using steroids -- if he was using steroids -- because all the other hitters were probably using steroids.

I think you just put it in a section of its own. This was a steroid era and fine. If these players were breaking records, I think they should be inducted into the Hall of Fame, because everyone was playing on an even field -- the steroid field.

KING: Thank you, Bob Dupuy.

We'll be calling on you again. Great to have you with us.

DUPUY: It's nice to be with you, Larry.

KING: Bob Dupuy, the president and chief operating officer of major league baseball.

Jose Canseco will remain with us for another segment when we return with our judges, who will weigh in on all of this, too.

It's all ahead on LARRY KING LIVE.


MITCHELL: Everyone involved in baseball over the past two decades -- commissioners, club officials, the players association, the players -- shares, to some extent, in the responsibility for the steroids era.



KING: Jose Canseco remains with us in New York.

Joining us here in Los Angeles is James Denton, actor from the hit show "Desperate Housewives" and the part owner of the Orange County Fires, the Independent League.

Here in L.A., as well, is Judge Joe Brown of TV's "Judge Joe Brown."

In New York, Judge David Young of his own TV show.

And in Miami is Judge Alex Ferrer of his own TV show, as well.

All right, James, you operate an Independent baseball team.

What do you think?

JAMES DENTON, PART OWNER, FULLERTON FLYERS MINOR LEAGUE TEAM: You know, it's disappointing and it's a tough day for baseball. I don't -- I think we all expected to learn a little more than we did. I -- personally, I felt like it was a bit irresponsible. I've seen guys' names on the list that I know personally. I spoke to a couple of them on the phone today and they seemed to be a little blind-sided.

KING: You spoke to Brian Roberts, right?

DENTON: I did. Yes. And...

KING: Of the Baltimore Orioles. A very good ball player.

DENTON: Right. A great guy. Brian is a really good guy. And those guys are kind of heartbroken. You know, some of them really seemed to have no idea where it came from.

And I -- and one of the players that I saw listed -- a Dodger player who was quoted as -- with a positive quote that he made to Senator Mitchell, and it says that in the report, but then when people just search the report for names, he came up on the list because he's a player in the report -- even though he was mentioned positively.

So I think one thing to -- that I'd like to urge people is -- I read the whole report today -- is not to jump to the conclusion because a guy's name is in there that he's somehow implicated or guilty.

KING: And Jose Canseco, you're saying the same thing, right, if it names you in connection with Roger Clemens?

CANSECO: Oh, absolutely. You have to be careful of what this list says and you have to read it intensely to understand what it's really about. You can't take certain players out of context. You've got to -- you have to make sure that if a player is mentioned under a certain headline, you have to put them together.

KING: Judge Brown, this is not -- legally you would be upset by this, right?

These are just allegations.

JUDGE JOE BROWN, TV'S "JUDGE JOE BROWN": Yes, you know. But I think this whole thing has been handled rather irresponsibly. We just had an example on here. The good Senator says we have so and so who admitted to us, therefore we didn't put him on the list.

So what's the incentive if you get published anyway?

Some people may or may not read the list, but millions of people watch your show, so he just got named.

KING: I see, yes.

BROWN: You know, what's the problem here?

KING: We understand Senator Mitchell is on the phone and he wants to make a comment.

George, are you there?

MITCHELL: Yes, I am, Larry. KING: All right, go ahead.


KING: Yes? You wanted to comment on something? MITCHELL: Yes, I just wanted to clarify, Larry. The report does not say that Canseco provided steroids to Clemens. That does not appear anywhere in the report. The report says that he discussed it with him, which Canseco has just confirmed in the prior segment of the interview.

KING: Right.

MITCHELL: Now, he did say that he hadn't read the report, that he's been told. But I simply wanted to clarify that fact, because you have now repeated it in questioning several times.

KING: I'm glad you did...

MITCHELL: The report nowhere makes that statement.

KING: I'm glad you called back.

They did talk about it, but nowhere do you -- does the report say that Canseco sold or gave drugs to Clemens.

MITCHELL: That is correct. That does not report anywhere in the report. Nobody ever told us that.

KING: Thanks for calling back, George.

MITCHELL: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Thanks for clearing it up.

Judge Ferrer, what do you make of all this?

JUDGE ALEX FERRER, TV'S "JUDGE ALEX": Well, Larry, you know, I doubt the senator conducted an irresponsible investigation. So if it's true, I think it's despicable. The worst of it is that you have a lot of players out there who sit there and watch the players who are doping it up just climb the charts. And if you're a player that's being compared to them, then, by comparison, you look inferior, when the reality is the other player wasn't taking illegal steroids. You don't look so inferior. You might actually pass them up. And nothing has got to be more disheartening than to sit there and watch a steroid using player, you know, hit a walk off home run or something like that, that wins the World Series or wins the game when you know -- when, you know, all the players know they're taking -- they're taking this -- these drugs.

So I think it cheapens the game tremendously. The fact that every team out there, according to the senator, has at least one player using illegal steroids -- I think major league baseball needs to clean up its act and I just don't have much faith that they actually will this time.

KING: James, what did Brian Roberts say to you?

DENTON: Well, you know, we had a long conversation. He's -- as all the players are -- talking to their representation, their teams and trying to decide how to approach this. And that was about it. He didn't have any official statements to make and I -- you know, I respect that. I didn't mean to imply at all that the...

KING: Did he worry about suspension or anything?

DENTON: No, he didn't say that at all, because my impression was that there was no substantial -- substantiation.

But he still, obviously, was really upset about it because of the way, you know, the way he's perceived. And I didn't mean to imply that the investigation was irresponsible. I think the distribution of the list has been a little irresponsible, because there are many guys between Radomski, Kurt Radomski and Brian McNamee, they only saw four guys actually be injected of this 70 plus list. So it's -- it's kind of tough to substantiate.

KING: Judge Young, what's your read?

JUDGE DAVID YOUNG, TV'S "JUDGE DAVID YOUNG": Well, I think that the investigation was impotent, if you want to know the truth. They should have had subpoena powerful. It should have been a meaningful investigation where they brought these players in, where the players had to swear under oath. And I would not limit it to baseball. I think all major league sports needs to have a complete overhaul because the public trust is going down the tubes.

It's just not fair. The playing field needs to be level. And if some members of a team are using steroids, it's not competition -- it's not fair competition.

KING: But it wasn't Senator Mitchell's fault if he didn't have subpoena powers.

YOUNG: No. But, you know, if they take from this investigation what I hope that they will, Congress will mandate that a federal committee is appointed -- maybe headed by federal United States -- United States attorney and have a meaningful investigation. This was simply making people feel good. But now we have to do something serious.

KING: Jose, we're told that Congress wants to hear from both the head of the union and from the commissioner on Tuesday.

Do you think we're going to get some results there?

CANSECO: Well, first of all, I want to apologize to Senator Mitchell. I stand corrected on what happened. Obviously, I did not read the report. I was -- on hearsay -- and told this happened. We now stand -- I now stand corrected on that.

Another meeting between major league baseball and -- what other entity?

KING: Congress.


Well, I don't know what it's going to solve. When you mention these players and you basically tell major league baseball reprimand your own players, I don't know how much they will reprimand their own players. It could be a case by case issue. There is a time frame involved here, where a lot of investigation goes back 10, 15 years, which is -- it's basically invalid at this point.

KING: Yes.

CANSECO: I mean it's just a big mess that no one can really solve. I think the best issue would be, remember, you know, now we understand what the entity is. We've -- major league baseball and Congress and the players association has attacked this entity, is making a great effort to get it out. Let's just stay there and work together. It seems like you're going to have too many entities, you know, butting heads together.

KING: Thanks, Jose.

James Denton, do you think it will affect people going to your games?

DENTON: I don't think so. It hasn't really affected major league baseball at all.

KING: Not at all.

DENTON: We have a really strict drug policy. We're an Independent league down to the Golden League. And we -- we don't have to answer to the players union, but we have a zero tolerance. It's been really effective. And, do you know it's great that baseball is going forward with this, you know, and try to really educate the young players more than anything.

KING: James Denton.

Jose played in your league, didn't he?

DENTON: We had Jose three years ago, the first league. Yes, he played at -- at Long Beach. And we also had Ricky Henderson down at San Diego.

CANSECO: That's a tough league.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's where the players come from.


CANSECO: That's a tough league. The pitching was very good.

KING: We thank James and we thank Jose. And you do great work on television, by the way.

DENTON: Thanks, Larry. KING: And we'll get to other hot legal topics of the day when we return.

Don't go away.


KING: Let's meet our legal eagle panel. Here in Los Angeles, Judge Joe Brown of TVs "Judge Joe Brown," his own show. In New York, Judge David Young, the show that bears his name. In Miami, Judge Alex Ferrer with his own show. And the famed prosecutor Stacey Honowitz is also with us from Miami. And in New York is Joe Tacopina, the noted defense attorney.

Searchers are still looking for the missing mother of two, Stacy Peterson, I think. She vanished in late October. Investigators think that her husband Drew might have loaded the blue container holding the body of his 23-year-old wife into his SUV. Drew Peterson is a suspect but remains uncharged. And Drew Peterson has acknowledged that a gun went off in his home a few months before his wife disappears, says it was his wife who accidentally fired it. Let's start with Judge Brown and go around.

What do you make of this puzzlement?

JUDGE JOE BROWN, "JUDGE JOE BROWN": I don't make anything of it. All we have is some bad allegations that aren't even formal allegations. Let's see what happens, and even if they're formally charged and presumed innocent until guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

KING: If she's dead somewhere.

BROWN: If she's dead.

KING: Do they have to find the dead person?

BROWN: Well, actually, technically they don't. Somebody I know name Stephen (ph) tried it, who was once a prosecutor here. The person supposedly was induced to travel into Europe. They were supposedly killed someplace in Europe, unknown by some weapon unknown, at some time unknown, the crime supposedly originated in Los Angeles. And they wound up trying and getting a conviction.

KING: The search includes large blue containers. Judge Young, what do you make of this whole thing?

JUDGE DAVID YOUNG, "JUDGE DAVID YOUNG": Well, my former division chief Audrey (ph) just had a case similar and got a conviction in Miami. Every day there's something new in this case. There's on another TV show yesterday there were some phone calls that were never followed up as part of the alibi which would sink Peterson's alibi for the murder of the first wife.

You know, I agree with Judge Brown, I think we need to let this play out and I think we need to let the investigation go forward. But the investigation must go forward and it must be done with integrity. KING: Judge Ferrer, are we collectively convicting Drew Peterson before anything is known?

JUDGE ALEX FERRER, "JUDGE ALEX": Oh, yes, we are. But I think he has set himself up for that. Because frankly, as a judge, you're taught to wait until all of the evidence is in and weigh it all at that point. Unfortunately for Mr. Peterson, I'm not his judge. He looks guiltier than anybody I've ever seen.

I mean, the guy -- from going on national television and taking the Fifth Amendment, basically what he did, to the discussions about the barrel, to going out and saying that there's no reason for his wife to leave because as far as he knew, they had a good relationship, but concluding, well, she must be somewhere safe and sound even though she left her two children behind.

You know, if I suddenly disappear and my wife says, oh, I'm sure he's OK, even though we had a good relationship, he left his kids behind and he's gone, start looking at her.

KING: Stacey, this makes it seem like -- Stacey, could you promise to prosecute him tomorrow?

STACEY HONOWITZ, FLORIDA ASST. STATE ATTY.: Well, no, I don't have enough evidence against him now. Certainly you don't have anything. You have...


KING: They why are we convicting him?

HONOWITZ: Well, because, like the judge just said, sometimes you ask for it. And in this case, by going out, by talking to the media, by saying now it's going to be difficult for me to get a date. And by not showing any compassion, meaning you haven't looked for your wife, even if you thought she left you, all of your actions are leading for the public to absolutely hate you. And that's why we're convicting him, based on his own actions, not evidence, substantial evidence.


YOUNG: Stacey, but we don't convict people in the court of public opinion, we convict them in the courtroom.

HONOWITZ: Absolutely. You're 100 percent right. But unfortunately, when you're on the news every single day, and you're making these statements to the media and you are the subject of it, public opinion is going to be what it is. That's what -- you ask people questions, that's what they think.

FERRER: The guy has absolutely made himself look guilty. Now tomorrow she could turn up. She could very well be alive. I don't think so. I don't think those are the better odds.

JOE TACOPINA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Larry we've been down this road before. KING: Joe Tacopina, is...

TACOPINA: Larry, we've been down this road before. We've been down this road before with many cases. Richard Jewel, we did this before, everyone was convinced he was guilty, he was innocent. Most recently in Aruba, my client, Joran van der Sloot, I mean, the same thing, for two years, everyone claimed, you know, guilty, and there were all of these false rumors, false reports, I'd say, Larry, about evidence that just wasn't there. And I'm hearing the same thing here.

You know, this guy Peterson was supposed to have been indicted three weeks ago. He's still a free man, still not charged. And Judge Joe Brown said it best. I mean, these aren't even charged allegations, these are just rumored allegations.

KING: But, Joe, is he kind of convicting himself?

TACOPINA: Listen, no doubt about that. Look, I got a call of one of the attorneys in that case asking me if I would like to be part of that team. And I've got to tell you, the thing that gave me pause, Larry, quite frankly, was his conduct. He doesn't seem like he's able to be controlled.

And he's convicting himself in the court of public opinion. And although we have to prove him guilty in a court of law, don't forget, Larry, the people who sit in a court of law and decide guilt are jurors who are watching your show now. And when he goes out there and makes jokes like, "nothing says 'I love you' like a Glock," or you know, talking about his wife's breast implants or putting out allegations that maybe his wife and a pastor had a relationship, I mean, it's things like that that make people who despise this man despite the lack of evidence, Larry.

And that's the key here. There's no reference whatsoever that we really know of other than the fact that he's a real unlucky guy because everyone keeps disappearing on him. But for that, there's no evidence of his guilt and yet people can't stand him.

KING: I'm going to ask about the looking into the death of the third wife when we come back, lots more ahead on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


TUCHMAN: Drew Peterson's fourth wife Stacy, gone without a trace.

DREW PETERSON, SUSPECT IN WIFE'S DISAPPEAR: I'm a suspect (INAUDIBLE) think I was a suspect from the beginning.

TUCHMAN: His third wife died mysteriously in the bath tub. His second wife divorced him, telling The Chicago Tribune he said he could kill her and make it look like an accident. Divers have searched the canal near the Peterson home for a body and evidence. Others have joined in for land searches but so far, nothing.


KING: Judge Brown, you make anything of Drew Peterson acknowledging that a gun went off in his home a few months before his wife disappeared and he says it was his wife who accidentally fired it?

BROWN: Well, you know what, aside from the fable of what CSI types can do, most criminal offenses are solved or successfully prosecuted by a potential suspect running his mouth off too much. But what I was thinking was that I heard on the blogs and a few weeks ago about this person probably killed his wife, that he sounded weird, and then it turns out she's a lady attorney and she's pregnant and she turns up live and the debate is whether or not to charge her for...

KING: So don't judge it?


KING: Do you think, Judge Young, in fairness, that maybe we're attacking ourselves? Shows like -- no shows should do this. Maybe Britain has a better rule. You couldn't do this in Great Britain. You can't discuss a case until it's over.

YOUNG: Well, the reason why we do this here is we have freedom of speech and freedom of expression. That's what it's all about. We're creating public awareness. I -- no, I have no problem with it. But I think -- you know, I agree with Judge Brown, we can't convict him. There's no evidence yet. Do I think he's a schmuck? Yes. Do I think he is guilt, probably, yes. But there's nothing there yet, unfortunately.

KING: But in the nature -- Judge Ferrer, in Britain, we couldn't discuss it because we would be prejudging him, and we are prejudging him tonight, aren't we? We're prejudging him.

FERRER: Absolutely we are. But, you know, I agree with the judges, there is -- and with Stacy, there is no evidence to prosecute him now. I suspect that it will surface, because when you watch all of the evidence that is being presented from his own mouth, he is his own worst enemy. He can't complain about the media.

You know, the media has its own negatives, but he is his own worst enemy here. He goes out there and smilingly does interviews with the media and behaves completely contrary to what a husband who discovered his wife missing would behave.

YOUNG: He keeps the story going.

FERRER: He does.


FERRER: He says he doesn't want the media coverage, but then feeds the fire.

YOUNG: Right. KING: Stacey, do you see anything into this gun being fired a few months ago?

HONOWITZ: No, I mean, he came back at them. He said, well, it went off accidentally. I mean, you don't expect the guy to say, well, yes, I lifted the gun and I shot it at here. Of course he is not going to say anything like that. That's never going to come out, but...

FERRER: Give him some time, Stacey, he might.

KING: What about the blue plastic and the blue containers?

HONOWITZ: Well, they're going to have to investigate it. I mean, certainly, when you have a case of this magnitude that's on the news every single night where there's a dead wife and a missing wife, pieces of evidence slowly but surely are going to come up, and leads are going to come up. And that's what they're doing right now.

The problem is, him being a sergeant in that police department really muddies the water, because you have to now go back and investigate and see why didn't they take certain action? Was he getting preferential treatment? There's so much that goes into this that they're investigating right now we don't know.

TACOPINA: But, Stacey, you're doing exactly what we just said we shouldn't be doing. You are now -- now we're assuming that there may be even corruption in the police department that is investigating the guy, where there is -- first of all, this guy has been indicted before. Don't forget, this is someone who the police department had said was a crooked cop and did something wrong. So obviously they didn't give him preferential treatment.

HONOWITZ: But that didn't come out until after this. Once this hit the media, then this...


HONOWITZ: ... person came out and said, I think we need to move forward and do something.

TACOPINA: Don't suggest that police department is laying down on this investigation. They turned this guy's world upside down.

HONOWITZ: Listen, I didn't say that. I'm saying when this first came about, certainly the idea that he's a sergeant in this police department, the family was complaining...


TACOPINA: Right. But the family is now saying the P.D. is doing a great job. And, Larry, look, back to your earlier point about England and the system here and there. Look, the cable news, the thirst for news information about cases like this really have changed what we do for a living. What the people in the criminal justice system do for a living, particularly defense lawyers. You're duty bound to go out there on shows like yours, Larry, and yours being the preeminent one, to go out there and try and defend your client, because in the court of public opinion, you could wind up with a situation where the guy is presumed guilty before you're even close to a jury. And that's our big problem.

KING: Let me get a break. And we'll be back with more. But first, let's check in with my man, Anderson Cooper. He'll host "AC 360" at the top of the hour.

Anderson, what's up?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, lots to talk about tonight. It was the Democrats' turn today to debate one last time before the Iowa Caucuses. The margin between candidates in that state is razor thin. Some think there is a candidate who might have broken away today, we'll tell you who that is.

Plus, it's not an overstatement to call today historic. There has never been a report, an indictment of a major professional sport like we saw this afternoon. And when George Mitchell delivered his long-awaited report dealing with steroids and baseball, Larry, you've been talking about it tonight, the report named names. And they are some of the biggest names in the sport. Some were expected, some were a complete shock. We're "Keeping Them Honest" and taking a look at how we got to this place and if there's any way to go back.

All that and more, Larry, at the top of the hour.

KING: That's "AC 360" with Anderson Cooper, 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. We'll get the latest on Britney Spears. She was missing in action again. Guess what? More when we come back.


MARK VINCENT KAPLAN, KEVIN FEDERLINE ATTY.: And she's going to show at a later date, but we don't waive any rights to ask for certain relief from the court as a result of having a court ordered deposition which was not attended.



KING: Welcome back, Britney Spears missed her court-ordered deposition yesterday because of a general medical illness, but was cruising around until 2:00 a.m. this morning. Her ex-husband's attorney is trying to determine if Spears drinks alcohol or uses drugs in front of her young children. Other custody issues and spousal support were also going to be discussed. Can she be held in contempt, Judge Brown?

BROWN: She could. She missed a deposition. At the very least she could be assessed the cost in the expenses of the jilted's team. Also she is doing one hell of a job of making the plaintiff's case.

KING: Judge Young, does she need this corroborated by a doctor, this general illness?

YOUNG: Well, you know, if they file a motion for contempt, she is going to need to put on some evidence. And she had better have an excuse from a doctor. I don't think you'll have a doctor writing an excuse. I think the judge is going to have it up to here with her and take her into custody where she belongs.


KING: Judge Ferrer, is this defensible?

FERRER: Well, frankly, Britney has stopped surprising me. I think if we learned tomorrow that she killed Stacy Peterson, I wouldn't be surprised. We've run out of things to be surprised about. I actually don't think that this was such a big deal, because the report that I read, she was seen at a gas station at 2:00 in the morning with her assistant filling up her gas or running out to get gas or whatever.

I think that the judge is more likely to say, you know what, you cancelled at the last minute, you're going to pay the attorneys' fees for blowing off the morning. You're going to pay for the court reporter, and I'm going to set the date and you had better show up on that one. If she doesn't show up on that one, then I think she's in trouble.

KING: Do you gather, Stacey, that is something the matter with this young lady?

HONOWITZ: Larry, I think anyone can figure out there's obviously something wrong with this...


KING: I just ask the questions. I do not make assumptions.

HONOWITZ: Look at the behavior. Look at her behavior. I mean, she has got two children and she's running the risk of losing full custody of these kids. Anybody else would do anything in their power to get their life back in order. She has done the complete opposite. She has been given a chance and instead she continues with the behavior that's going on. So I don't know how much tolerance this judge has. I don't think he's going to have much more for her.

KING: Joe, will you have a tough time representing her?

TACOPINA: You know, not really. Look, first of all, there's no way she's going to jail based on this. This happens time and again. People blow off depositions, they get sick. Judge Joe is right, she's going to pay costs for sure. And she'll be ordered to do another one. If she misses a second one, she will have a problem.

This happens, maybe she got better, maybe she went out that night. You know, let's not make this like she blew off a court appearance or a trial. But you know, Larry, the thing is, I feel for her a little bit. I mean, she's definitely her own worst enemy. But she grew up in public.

And every time she steps out of her house to go get a coffee or whatever, there's 22 people taking pictures of her. And I don't think any of us could pretend -- maybe you, Larry, but not the rest of us could pretend to understand what it's like to walk in those shoes.

YOUNG: You know, the time has come for the court to say to this woman, we're not going to put up with your nonsense any longer. And until they get control over her, she is going to continue to thumb her nose at the system. And the judge is going to have to step in and lock her up and say, you're going to be under my control, you're going to get drug help, you're going to get alcohol help, and you're going to finally go and have some parenting classes. Enough is enough.

KING: One other matter to talk about, probably more important, that deals with murder. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.


KING: Some tragic shootings of late, a 24-year-old man opened fire at New Life Church in Colorado on Sunday, killing two sisters. A security guard shot the gunman several times before he turned the gun on himself. Twelve hours earlier, the alleged gunman killed two staffers at Arvada's Youth with a Mission Center.

What do you make of all of this, Judge Brown?

BROWN: Well, actually, some people are saying that indicates a need for restriction (INAUDIBLE). But actually there's a technical flaw in the way people are looking at it. The woman is not really a security guard. She's a private citizen. She had a handgun carry permit. She volunteered to secure the parking lot.

She disabled by delivering effective fire and he wound up killing himself. Somebody else had had a situation of being an armed, responsible citizen, it could have been stopped in the first instance and maybe we wouldn't have had a continuation of this tragedy.

KING: What do you make of it, Judge Young?

YOUNG: You know, this is very sad. The shooter was a member of what some people consider a cult. And the ministry is throughout the entire world. And I think we need to look at these people that are involved in these organizations. It's just very, very sad. These religious fanatics, no matter what kind of religious fanatics, good things don't come from that.

KING: Yes. Is it kind of hopeless, Judge, from a judicial standpoint when the assailant, the person responsible is gone?


KING: ... learn anything?

FERRER: Larry, are you talking to me? KING: Yes, Judge Ferrer.

FERRER: OK. Yes. I think that we have gotten used to seeing scenarios like this, it's not that unusual unfortunately. They come in waves. We have very despondent or young men who are in either despair or hopelessness. And they see, unfortunately, I think, that media coverage tends to really bring it out in some people, because you know, they have nothing going on in their life and they go, you know, that last guy who did Columbine, look how much coverage they got. I'm going out with a bang. Unfortunately it tends to lead to copy cats. And I hope we don't see that, but we may.

KING: We have an e-mail from Mike in Louisville: "Has innocent until proven guilty dissipated in society? I think most people think guilty until proven innocent."

What do you think, Stacy? Do you think, frankly, even though you're on the prosecution side of things, do you think society assumes that a charge is guilt?

HONOWITZ: I think when there's a lot of media coverage and people are on TV every single night and someone is a target, then I think the general public, like we talked about tonight, it is guilty until proven innocent. It's different when you go into the courtroom, it really is. And lawyers on both sides really try to pick a jury as fair and impartial as they possibly can.

And you just hope that that never goes out of the system, even with all of the coverage that goes on, you just hope that truly it remains innocent until proven guilty.

KING: Joe, do you think it's innocent until proven guilty?

TACOPINA: No, Larry, there has been a massive turning of the tides, I mean, really, since O.J. There has been a watershed mark, in my opinion. It's so much tougher to defend a case because there's a presumption of guilt. People look at accused accusingly. And it really is much different than it was 10, 15 years ago, even when I was a prosecutor. There really is a changing of the sentiment. And I think you have to disavow that -- the jury of that when you're a defense attorney. I think that's the hardest.

HONOWITZ: You see the high profile stuff, though, Joe. That's the high profile stuff that's on. And everyday stuff, when you walk into a courtroom, you don't have it. Robert Blake walked out the door, Spector, there was a hung jury. I mean, even in the high profile it's not always guilty until proven innocent...


HONOWITZ: ... hope that it remains.

TACOPINA: But, Stacey, people -- and you're a prosecutor, I'm defense lawyer, and you know, we'll differ on this stuff, but I must tell you, you know, when people are indicted, people assume guilt. I mean, I can -- countless people have been indicted and they get acquitted. But they never, ever are able to recapture their reputation.

HONOWITZ: It's difficult, I will agree.

KING: And Judge Brown, that's true, isn't it?

BROWN: Well, yes. I've seen this go up and down over the 40 years I've been doing this.


BROWN: Yes. Sometimes the public is very skeptical at certain periods, and then they go to being very susceptible to the accusations of guilt and then they get very leery about it. But I think what is most disturbing is this whole thing, this inquiring mindset that we have as a public is saying something very negative about us as a society.

We are impetuous. It has got to be right now. We have to have some satisfaction of our curiosity, and there is no sense in politics, school, life, culture, anything, that there is something you have to defer and wait.

KING: Thank you all very much for a stimulating near hour. And we always call on you again. Check out our Web site, You can e-mail upcoming guests, send a video e- mail, or download our podcast. You can also read transcripts or sign up for our newsletter. It's all at one great Web site,

Tomorrow night, we have a great musical show for you for the holidays. Toby Keith, Josh Groban and a lot more. And now live in New York, here's Anderson Cooper and "AC 360" -- Anderson.

COOPER: Larry, thanks. You're a baseball fan. You've been talking about it tonight. Millions of Americans are talking about it.