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CNN Larry King Live

Williams Denied Clemency; Interview With Jennifer Pryor

Aired December 12, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, barring a last minute reprieve from the Supreme Court, convicted killer Tookie Williams will be executed by lethal injection just hours from now after California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger denied Williams' clemency today.
We'll go live to San Quentin Prison. We'll hear from the mother of one of his victims, the prosecutor who sent him to death row, famed attorney Mark Geragos and more.

And then later, Richard Pryor's widow, Jennifer Pryor, in her first prime-time interview since the comedy giant passed away with her by his side. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

OK, Governor Schwarzenegger has refused to halt the scheduled execution. It will take place if it goes on schedule, if the Supreme Court doesn't issue a last minute reprieve, three hours from now.

With us in San Quentin is CNN Correspondent Ted Rowlands. Here in Los Angeles is Mark Geragos, the high-profile defense attorney; Robert Martin, who prosecuted the Tookie Williams case, argued in favor of the death sentence as well; Dennis Prager, the host of "The Dennis Prager Show" on syndicated radio; and also at San Quentin Mike Farrell, the chairman of the Death Penalty Focus, which he has known Tookie, by the way, for years.

Ted Rowlands, where is it? Has it been communicated to the Supreme Court yet the request for a last minute reprieve?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There are two things still on the table according to Stan Williams' lawyers. The first is another petition for clemency to Governor Schwarzenegger, basically a response to his denial saying that there are three more witnesses that have come forward, which could provide exculpatory evidence. "Please reconsider governor."

And then the U.S. Supreme Court as well. It is not expected that they're going to get positive news, however, at this late hour. But they continue to fight outside.

Inside, meanwhile, at this hour Stan Williams is being moved from his cell to a special holding cell, which is adjacent to the death chamber and he will remain there presumably for the rest of his life as he awaits this sentence to be carried out unless something dramatic happens here in the eleventh hour.

KING: Mark Geragos, all you need is one member of the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay right?

MARK GERAGOS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well that's for whoever covers this district.

KING: Right.

GERAGOS: So, that particular justice is going to have to do it. I don't think at this point that there's -- I mean I hate to be completely negative here but I don't think there's much chance of that.

KING: You prosecuted this case, Robert, right?


KING: When you prosecute a death penalty case and the man insists his innocence right to the end and you know that over 140 people have been released already from prison who didn't do it, someone is in death row in Texas may be out any day, do you ever have doubts?

MARTIN: Of course you always have doubts but in this particular case I have no lingering doubt. I think that there has been a quarter of a century of litigation by good attorneys on both sides in the state courts, in the federal courts. They have all upheld the verdict of the jury and they've all upheld the fact that he was found guilty.

KING: Mike Farrell, as a friend of Tookie's, is he a different person than that person of years ago?

MIKE FARRELL, CHMN., DEATH PENALTY FOCUS: I think the Tookie Williams that everybody wants dead, Larry, was killed already. He was killed by Tookie Williams. I think the Stanley Williams that exists today was doing good work on behalf of young people in the disadvantaged communities in our country and around the world, is a man who deserves to live because he deserves to stay behind bars, if he's guilty of this crime, but to continue to do his work against gangs and against guns and against drugs and against violence.

KING: Dennis, what is accomplished by killing him other than revenge?

DENNIS PRAGER, RADIO HOST: To me there's the most cosmic injustice is if I take your life I'm allowed to keep mine. What is achieved is justice. It's so clear to me and I...

KING: But doesn't it bother you about 140 people released from prison who would have died.


KING: How do you make up for that?

PRAGER: Yes, well...

KING: Then what do you do?

PRAGER: of them did die. We obviously have a great system where it's...

KING: Can we assume that some people have been killed who didn't do it?

PRAGER: It is possible but my answer to that is that opponents of the death penalty have more blood on their hands than proponents of the death penalty because of the people who were murdered by people who weren't executed.

KING: But they're not in favor of them living. They're in favor of their living behind bars.

PRAGER: Yes but behind bars they get to kill again. They kill guards. They kill other prisoners. They order people outside of prison, like witnesses, to be killed.

GERAGOS: Yes, except the 140, remind yourself that out of the 140 people that were released that basically means that at least 140 killers are still out there and this idea that because you took a life that you have to give up a life that isn't the case.

We don't have the death penalty for all unlawful killings in this state. There are things called manslaughter. There are things called second degree murder, first degree murder without special circumstances. It's a rather simplistic way to view it to say if you took a life you must give up a life.

KING: How many countries, Robert, still use it?

MARTIN: I don't know how many.

KING: Very few.

MARTIN: I don't know how many countries.

KING: Three.

MARTIN: But we're talking about...

PRAGER: No, no -- I'm sorry.

MARTIN: We're talking about the death penalty in this segment here internationally. I'm concerned with California only and I'm assured that the safeguards that have been put in place in California allow somebody to try cases where the ultimate punishment is involved. I can't speak for any other jurisdiction in the state. I don't know the laws in those states. I don't know the courts.

KING: But you agree with capital punishment?

MARTIN: I agree with capital punishment for California. I'm willing to try those cases in California but I can't speak for it generally speaking across the spectrum. PRAGER: Let me tell you about the world. You're right many countries abandoned it especially...

KING: Most.

PRAGER: Most countries have that's correct but not three have it. I mean many have it but most have not and Brazil has it. I mean they always cite North Korea but they don't cite Brazil and they don't cite...

MARTIN: And China and...

PRAGER: Yes, that's quite right but you know why, you know why?

GERAGOS: So what are you going to do with that?


KING: Israel doesn't. By the way, Israel doesn't have it.

PRAGER: Israel does have it for Nazi war criminals.

KING: Does not.

MARTIN: For war crimes.

PRAGER: Which is to me absurd, if you kill a million people then you should be executed but if you only kill one, you should keep your life. It seems...

KING: What do you get out of Williams' death?

PRAGER: Oh, I get justice. I get a sense that those poor folks, their lives were so valuable that the guy who took their life for no good reason is giving up his.

KING: What, this is just a what, what if we discover he didn't do it? Would you then be as a resident of California...


KING: ...guilty?

PRAGER: Absolutely. Would you be guilty...

KING: Then will you give up your life?

PRAGER: No, because...

KING: You killed an innocent man.

PRAGER: Only for premeditated murder of an innocent when you knew the person was innocent.


PRAGER: Of course, that's murder.

MARTIN: This is premeditated murder.

PRAGER: Yes, it is. It's a premeditated killing.

GERAGOS: It's a premeditated killing and it can turn out...

PRAGER: So that's a big difference. Murder and killing are morally different.

GERAGOS: How about the person in Texas that we...


GERAGOS: ...that we now have discovered the juvenile in 1993 that we executed...


GERAGOS: What do we do about bringing him back, 1993?

MARTIN: Larry.

KING: Hold on. How do you make it up, John, is what said or Robert how do you make up the grievance?

MARTIN: Larry, what we have to say here is that trucks kill people every day. Doctors maybe intentionally or unintentionally kill people every day. Every human system has errors in it but we don't get rid of doctors and we don't get rid of trucks. I don't want to appear cold here but in talking...

GERAGOS: Or maybe we shouldn't get rid of death row inmates is to some degree the answer. If there's a human frailty, if there's human error in all these systems isn't it awfully Godlike of us to play that particular card?

KING: All right, Mike Farrell, if he did do this let's say don't you -- don't you hold him in some kind of contempt for killing fellow human beings?

FARRELL: Of course we hold him in jail, Larry. We hold him in prison for the rest of his natural life. We keep him behind bars. The implication of the statement that's being made by some of your guests is that there is no punishment if he doesn't die.

In fact, it is -- it is a huge punishment to be separated from society and held behind bars for the rest of your natural life and, if necessary, if a person continues to be violent, as has been suggested by some, he can be kept out of human contact for the rest of his natural life. The idea that this is not punishment is nonsense.

And, to go back to the point that was made a little while ago about all the blood that's been spilled, over 1,000 people have been killed by this nation in the modern era of the death penalty. Does their blood not count? And some of those were innocent people. We are demeaning ourselves in the process of maintaining a system of death as has been suggested here on the pretense of justice when, in fact, anybody who examines the system knows it's about politics.

KING: I got to get a break. And we'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: There you see the scene live at San Quentin, the protesters out front. In our studios here in Los Angeles is Anthony Robbins, a friend of Tookie Williams, who interviewed him three weeks ago and who argued in front of the governor for him. And, in our New York bureau is Bruce Gordon, the president and CEO of the NAACP.

First Bruce, what was your reaction to the Schwarzenegger denial today?

BRUCE GORDON, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAACP: I was very disappointed. I was surprised. I think that one more time it demonstrates the failure to place equal value on a black life versus others. The criminal justice system continues to play the game with two sets of rules.

Charles Manson is sitting in San Quentin alive and well and his life is not at risk, yet Stan Williams, who has shown remorse and who has saved lives is scheduled to die. It doesn't make sense to me, Larry.

KING: Well, I guess Manson didn't kill anyone though. He had other people...

GORDON: He didn't?

KING: No. He had other people do it.

GORDON: Well...

KING: He never personally killed anyone.

GORDON: Oh, I see. Keep in mind that Stan Williams has never been placed at the scene. This is pure circumstantial evidence. But the fact of the matter is that was never our debate. Our debate from day one has been you've got a choice here.

You can kill this man or you can give him life imprisonment without a chance of parole and, if you choose the latter, you give him the opportunity to continue to save lives. That's all that we're asking here. So, I don't understand why folks feel it's essential, why the government thinks it absolutely has to happen that this man has to die.

KING: All right. How did you get involved, Anthony?

ANTHONY ROBBINS, MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER: I was on the way to Louisiana with a friend. I had seen the film this last summer and I heard that the last appeal had been exhausted and the friend said they were looking for help, so I said, you know, we have several friends that know the governor well and we decided to go down and meet Stanley on death row.

And what I can tell you is after four hours of being with him I left convinced enough to really investigate the case. And, when you first of all read 50,000 e-mails from people which we brought to the governor, redacted many of them because they admit that they've been involved with serious crimes and talking about how they've been changed, it made me inspired to say I'd like to do more to support this man.

KING: You think he's a different person?

ROBBINS: I really do and I don't do that just based on emotion. I do it based on 14 years of action. He spent six years in the hole in solitary confinement and to meet this man and see what shifted in him it's amazing.

But I'm here to argue something else. The governor, it's a tough decision for the governor, if the governor has to say, "No, I'm not going to give clemency"...

KING: He said no.

ROBBINS: You know he does but a stay should be considered tonight and the reason is there are three people that have come out today, today, and said that they can recount and they've given their testimony that the testimony that convicted Stanley for these murders is all directed by snitch testimony.

There are four people, Howard who was given immediate, you know, leniency. In other words, he never served a day. Garrett, who is the gentleman who came forward today is his godson or he's the godfather to Garrett and he made it clear that this man has had a pattern of convicting people, doing robberies, murders and then framing somebody else with the experience; and Coleman.

KING: Are you saying Williams didn't do it?

ROBBINS: I'm saying that Williams didn't do it and there are people right now today that have finally come out to say that.

KING: You had tapes you played for the governor?


KING: We're going to hear a portion. What was this? You did an audiotape with Williams?

ROBBINS: I did (INAUDIBLE) but I also did one four days ago about why he should live to the governor.

KING: OK, let's listen to a portion of that tape.


STANLEY "TOOKIE" WILLIAMS, SCHEDULED TO DIE BY LETHAL INJECTION: And, foremost, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, I want to thank you for considering this clemency. I'm honored to be able to speak with you man to man.

My name is Stanley Williams and, as you know, I'm scheduled to be executed in five days. I'm quite aware that the clemency hearing is neither the time nor the place to adjust case facts, my innocence and other legal details, so I won't offend you by doing otherwise. I can say to you from the heart that if I'm granted the clemency, I won't simply occupy a cell. I will continue to disseminate my positive message.


KING: And Arnold heard that, the governor?

ROBBINS: He did but I think he didn't hear the three people today and I'd say two things. Right now Northwest University and the American Bar Association have done studies where they've found that more than half the people who have been exonerated have been so because snitch testimony is what convicted them. In other words, somebody had a reduced testimony. Right now this has happened in California in 1997. Ed Fink (ph) testified and put two people in two different murder trials, he was used by the prosecution.

KING: Appropriate name.

ROBBINS: Yes, I know. I thought that as well. And, for one of those people, which is Lee Goldstein (ph), Lee Goldstein was found later to be innocent. Unfortunately, Thomas Thompson was convicted in 1997 and executed and they found out afterwards that he's not guilty.

So, if there's any chance, if there's any chance that this is a person who is innocent we need to look at it. Let me just say one last thing, Larry. Right now the California Commission for the Fair Application of Justice is investigating, the California Senate, the Fair Application of Justice in murder trials for this very situation they call snitch testimony.

And it's going to look at a bill called AB-1121 in January, two weeks later. There are three people sitting on death row. Two are going to get the benefit of that, one of which was actually his final appeal was eliminated before Stanley's.

KING: Bruce, do you have any hope at all?

GORDON: I'm going to have hope until 12:02 in the morning arrives, Larry. I would also tell you that there's also hope in the form of Linda Owens. We've talked a lot about family members. Linda Owens was married to Albert Owens and she has talked with Stan. She has expressed her concerns about how the family is being represented. So, I think that even Linda Owens has hope that the governor or the Supreme Court will make a different decision than earlier made.

KING: We're going to deal with that because Laura Owens is on with us next and there's contention over whether Laura Owens is the stepmother of Albert Owens.

ROBBINS: That's correct. I have here a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger from Linda Owens, who is the widow, and in it she says, "Recently, I watched the wave of media attention given Laura Owens in regards to my husband's death. The impression and facts she's portraying are false and misleading. I know for certain it was only a few occasions when she spent any time with Al and it was only approximately five years ago she made contact with Rebecca (ph)."

KING: He was the victim.

ROBBINS: He's the victim.

KING: All right, I got to run out of time.

ROBBINS: OK, I got it. She just said that it's not accurate. She doesn't represent the family and you're going to have her on next.

KING: Thank you, Bruce.

GORDON: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Thank you, Tony.

ROBBINS: Thank you.

KING: We'll be right back with more. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now we are here today because we understand this racist system wants to kill Stan "Tookie" Williams because of the example he sets to young people across this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's doing more in prison than most of us are doing out of prison. We say grant clemency.



KING: Laura, there is the scene in San Quentin, Laura Owens, the stepmother of Albert Owens has not yet arrived at our San Francisco studio. She's supposed to be with us.

With us in San Diego is Brenda van Dam. Her 7-year-old daughter's killer is currently on death row. What do you think of this case, Brenda?

BRENDA VAN DAM, DAUGHTER DANIELLE'S KILLER ON DEATH ROW: Well I think that I applaud -- I actually applaud the governor for his decision. I do feel that the death penalty is appropriate in this case and any case when someone takes another person's life.

KING: Robert Martin, what did you think of the governor's decision?

MARTIN: I was pleased to see that despite Williams' admitting that he committed crimes as a gangbuster the governor did not consider that evidence at all and I think he did the right thing because in the trial there was never any evidence of his gangbanging days.

And, the governor seemed to make his decision on what happened in the courtroom and what happened in the litigation for 25 years. He also took note that Williams has never admitted any sort of guilt. He has never...

KING: But the plea though was for consideration based on him leading the kind of life he's leading now. The governor did not address that did he?

MARTIN: I think he did. He said that there was never any remorse...

KING: No, but I mean that he...

MARTIN: ...on the crimes themselves.

KING: Right but he's also leading a pretty...

MARTIN: He took that into consideration I believe. He had to balance that I'm sure between his co-author of books and what he's done in recent years and the four murders. But I don't think there's any moral equivalency...


MARTIN: ...between four murders and writing some books.

KING: Brenda.


KING: Brenda, do you want your daughter's killer, you want him to die. Will you feel better if he dies?

VAN DAM: You know in our case it didn't really matter one way or the other if he got the death penalty. My biggest concern was that he could not harm another child's life. So, in our case, it didn't really matter to me one way or the other but I do feel that the death penalty fits the crime. I do feel that he deserves it.

Now, as far as Mr. Williams is concerned, I think people are not -- I mean he murdered four people in cold blood and what he's doing now may be great but I'm sorry he needs to take his punishment. He needs to be punished for what he did and hopefully this will set a precedent for other gang bangers and maybe they won't be doing this in the future.

KING: Couldn't what he's doing now, Dennis, benefit society?

PRAGER: It's very possible. Listen, there may be guys out there...

KING: So why not gain a benefit?

PRAGER: Because there may be guys on death row who will find a cure for cancer. Anything is possible. But I think that society is hurt by keeping all its murderers alive.

KING: Because?

VAN DAM: Definitely.

PRAGER: Because it cheapens murder that's why.

VAN DAM: I think all the years...

KING: Geragos -- yes.

GERAGOS: It's just not the -- unfortunately these simplistic style statements do not cover what the law is. When you say keeping these murderers alive the death penalty and special circumstance cases, which lead to either life without or the death penalty are imposed in only certain kinds of cases and based upon what a prosecutor decides to do.

KING: So many murderers are (INAUDIBLE).


PRAGER: And murder is cheapened in our society. I fully agree.

GERAGOS: But then what are you going to do...

PRAGER: Why -- why you don't feel that that is...

GERAGOS: ...death penalty in all cases?

PRAGER: No, not in all cases, no.

GERAGOS: Well then how else are you going to -- how are you going to distinguish?

PRAGER: Sir, you are the simplistic one because you believe all or nothing.

GERAGOS: You keep saying all murders...

PRAGER: I said -- no, I...

GERAGOS: ...should be put to death.

PRAGER: I've never said that. Is that a lawyer's trick?

GERAGOS: You didn't just say that? PRAGER: No, I didn't. Thank God this is recorded.

GERAGOS: Well we'll run it back. We'll run it back.

KING: You said all murderers.

PRAGER: No, I didn't.

KING: You said all murderers cheapen society.

GERAGOS: You said all murderers should be put to death.

PRAGER: I -- yes, keeping all murderers alive does that because I mean all murderers should be put to death.

KING: So they should be.

PRAGER: Some should be put to death.

KING: And some cheapen society.

PRAGER: If you catch -- if you are drunk...

KING: Should cheapen society.

PRAGER: No, no.

KING: You said that.

PRAGER: No, because we understand...

GERAGOS: Thank God for TiVo.

PRAGER: No -- yes, that's exactly right.

GERAGOS: We can turn it back (INAUDIBLE).

KING: You said they (INAUDIBLE).

PRAGER: Yes, that's exactly right. Keeping all murderers alive cheapens society.

GERAGOS: Dennis, when you get this -- when you get this argument together you should put it on.

PRAGER: Killing all murderers also cheapens society because if a guy is drunk and kills somebody there are so many circumstances under which we understand it was not premeditated. I am not a simpleton. I understand that there are times when mercy is more important than justice. But, in fact, if everyone who murders is kept alive it cheapens the act of murder. The only way society has to say how bad murder is...

KING: An eye for an eye.

PRAGER: by taking murder -- yes, exactly correct. KING: OK. Any news Ted at all any news from anywhere up there?

ROWLANDS: Not yet. Two petitions are still on the table. Again, the petition for clemency with Arnold Schwarzenegger, they're asking him to reconsider it. They haven't heard from Mr. Schwarzenegger. They may not.

And then also the Supreme Court they're waiting for word from the Supreme Court for a last minute stay of this execution but is not expected that they will be successful in either of those endeavors.

And, meanwhile, Mr. Williams has been moved we understand to the cell near the execution chamber and he will be able to take phone calls there but no more visitors. He's had all of his visitors until the scheduled execution.

At nine o'clock the warden will go visit him to see if he wants to make any last statement. He has said he doesn't want a last meal and doesn't want any of his friends or family to witness the execution.

And then just before midnight they'll make calls, one more time, to the governor's office and then also to the courts to make sure that nothing has changed and at that point the warden will give the order to give him what they call a lethal cocktail and then the execution will be taking place.

KING: And, Mike Farrell, we have just learned that the Supreme Court has -- will not take up the case. They have denied issuing a writ to hold it back. So, would you now say it appears hopeless?

FARRELL: I'm not a lawyer, Larry. I'm not surprised at the Supreme Court's decision. If that is, in fact, the case I am saddened that we are continuing to demean human life by pretending that we are God and making determinations to kill other individuals for what it is claimed they have done and in some instances for what they have done rather than recognizing that we are demeaning ourselves and demeaning this nation in the process of doing so.

KING: Brenda, how is your life going?

VAN DAM: Things are OK. The holidays are very difficult and, you know, we miss Danielle every day. And I think in this case if one of the families who have been adversely affected by the death of their loved ones gets closure then they deserve it.

You know my daughter deserves to be here today with us and those -- the four people that he murdered deserve to be alive and they deserve to live their lives out. I think that these -- that we need, you know, there needs to be some punishment for this heinous crime that's happening.

KING: We'll take a break and we'll be right back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) WILLIAMS: I agree with our position when they say that I was a wretched individual. I can't deny that. It was true. That was in the extreme and the same discipline, as you know very well in bodybuilding, I use that same exact impetus in order to help me overcome my wretched ways.




WILLIAMS: There are a lot of people who saying that I've never apologized to the victims' family members. But I say to you that I cannot do so, because I'm not guilty.

It would be defy the truth to apologize. I'm not culpable of those crimes. However, I can empathize with the victims' family members, and all other families who have lost a loved one to senseless violence.

I believe I'm here not because of the four murders that I didn't do, but because of all the things I've gotten away with in life. I believe this is karma.


KING: We're back. The Supreme Court has, if you missed it, has refused to block California's execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams, the founder of the Crips gang. Doesn't surprise you, does it?

GERAGOS: No. I think we said at the beginning, I don't think there's any surprise about that, unfortunately. And I don't think the governor's going to do anything at this point either.

KING: Doesn't surprise you, Robert?

MARTIN: No, it doesn't.

KING: Joining us now in San Francisco is Lora Owens, the stepmother of Albert Owens. How do you feel, Lora, about this refusal by the governor to issue any kind of clemency?

LORA OWENS, STEPMOTHER OF ALBERT OWENS: I had faith that when Governor Arnold looked at the facts of the case that he was going to decide not to do clemency. I don't like it being said it's a political decision. It was an evidence decision.

KING: Now you are the stepmother of one of the victims, Albert Owens, right?

OWENS: Yes I am.

KING: Linda Owens wrote a letter to the governor saying, "over the past 20 years, neither I nor my daughters have ever received any emotional support or contact from Lora Owens. Could you comment on her letter to the governor? She was asking for clemency.

OWENS: Larry, could I just respectfully not comment on that?

KING: Why?

OWENS: Linda's an ex-wife of Albert and I just don't think it's even proper that I'd even comment on it.

KING: But she's saying that you didn't even know him very well. No comment?

OWENS: No, Larry. I'm not going to -- I'm not going to comment on it. It's not right to the girls.

KING: OK. I appreciate -- I don't understand why you wouldn't comment. They feel outraged, the family feels outraged that you're being identified in such a way that they say is incorrect. OK. Do you feel you're going to get closure tonight?

OWENS: I feel that I'm going to be able to put Albert and his father to rest. I believe justice is going to be done tonight. Yes, I think it's going to be an end to it.

KING: Would you attend the execution?

OWENS: I believe Albert...

KING: ... would you attend it?

PRAGER: Anybody who is for capital punishment has to be not only willing to attend, but be willing to do it. And I would be willing to do it. Otherwise I'm dishonest to my own values.

KING: Would you attend the death, Robert?

MARTIN: I've been asked by the chief deputy district attorney if I would like to go. And my answer to him was, I have no personal stake in this. I have no personal relationships with the defendant. I've had no personal relationships with the victim's family, although I appreciate their loss.

I was given the case to try. I did the best I could in the courtroom. I've done many cases like this. I would think it was sort of a gloating if I were to go up there and watch the thing. I've seen death many times during the war. It's nothing new to me. But I don't see that my role is to attend his execution.

PRAGER: Could I just mention that the note is made that he has done a lot of good, and I don't deny that. He may well have. Norman Mailer, the famous novelist, felt that there was a convicted murderer in prison a number of years ago who had done a lot...

KING: ... written a book. PRAGER: Yes, he was a great author, great writer, and prevailed to get him out on the grounds that we need great artists in society. And a few weeks later he murdered an aspiring actor, a newlywed, a man, waiter, at the waiter father's restaurant. So I just need people to understand...

GERAGOS: Yes, but what difference does that make when you're talking about life without parole versus the death penalty? Nobody's asking that he get out.

PRAGER: That's correct.

GERAGOS: They're saying that you don't kill him.

PRAGER: You're right.

GERAGOS: So when you resurrect, you can always come up with some boogeyman kind of parade of horrible stories as to why...

PRAGER: ... as you come with boogeyman about innocents who were killed.

GERAGOS: Well, there are no boogeyman.

PRAGER: No, no, no.


GERAGOS: One hundred and forty and counting of people who have been on death row who have been -- who have gone through the system, for more than 10 years and then are exonerated.

PRAGER: That's right. And not one was executed.

GERAGOS: Well, we have one from 1993 that's right up there, that we've got a -- it appears now....

PRAGER: ... it appears now.

GERAGOS: As somebody who was executed 10 years ago.

PRAGER: Every time I debate this, it always appears. They never have a name, it always appears.

GERAGOS: I'll give you the gentlemen, he's a 17-year-old who was executed.

PRAGER: We've been executing people in this country for quite awhile.

KING: But honestly, is it safe to say, innocent people have been executed by logic?

PRAGER: By logic, the odds are someone was innocent.

GERAGOS: But don't bother him with that, he doesn't care. PRAGER: No, no, no, I do care. But you don't care about the convicted murderers who murder in prison.

GERAGOS: If a convicted murder, whose life without, what are you talking about?

PRAGER: Mike, for God's sake, Mike, what exactly is oh, for God's sake? Do murderers murder again who would have been executed?

FARRELL: It's oh for God sake is you sit there and lick your lips about the death of a human being, you disgust me.

GERAGOS: Exactly right.

PRAGER: You disgust me, so it's mutual.

FARRELL: Thank you, Sir.

PRAGER: You're spending your time -- you're just spending your time with a murderer.

FARRELL: I'm spending my time trying to raise the level of the civility of this society.

PRAGER: In your life did you ever appear in a murdered person's house?

FARRELL: And you Sir, and you sir, who are willing to shed the blood of people, whether they are innocent or guilty.

PRAGER: You sicken me.

FARRELL: Yes, I'm only too happy to be on the list of people you are sickened by.

PRAGER: Fair enough, fair enough, we have a gulf, moral gulf between us. That is true, on that we agree.

FARRELL: Mr. Martin, Mark Geragos, you're not in this. Mr. Martin?

MARTIN: I think it's unfair that the sympathies...

KING: ... hold on.

FARRELL: The fact is, we have a society that is demeaning itself in this process, and the people who are only too happy to lick their lips about the death of another human being are dragging us back into the gutter, or back into the cave, more to the point.

And it seems to me that when this society begins to realize the damages being done us by the damage we do others, only then, perhaps, will we begin to realize that we can reach out to be representative of the values that we hold dear.

KING: Robert Martin, you want to add something quickly? MARTIN: Yes, I do. Because of all the hoopla and glitz and glamour that has been generated in this case, the compassion and sympathy which rightfully belongs with the victims has now been transferred to the defendant, the person who committed the crimes, he's become the celebrity.

GERAGOS: Well interestingly enough, though, we've got -- Larry's just reading from a letter from presumably the person who is the victim here. Is that not the victim? The letter you're reading?

My question is, when Mr. Prager gives this example of Norman Mailer and blah, blah, blah, there's another example, and I forget the name of the gentleman, but his daughter died at Oklahoma City. And he thought he was going to get closure.

Right, thank you. Yes, and he thought, by God, he was going to get closure after the death of Timothy McVeigh. He's gone around the country now arguing passionately against the death penalty. Saying all it did was drag him down and demean him even more, by thinking that causing somebody else's death was going to help assuage his pain.

KING: Let me get a break and we'll be back with more of this dull show right after this.


KING: In the final segment of the program tonight, Jennifer Lee Pryor, the widow of Richard Pryor will join us.

And if you missed it, the Supreme Court has refused to block California's execution of Stanley Tookie Williams, the founder of the Crips gang.

Joining us from Baton Rouge, sister Helen Prejean, the death penalty opponent featured so prominently in "Dead Man Walking."

What's your opinion of the governor's refusal?

SISTER HELEN PREJEAN, ANTI-DEATH PENALTY ACTIVIST: I'm not surprised. He acted like a politician, and he framed it as a politician does.

At this point, by the time you reach these last swirling waters before you go over the cliff, he framed it, I'm going to stand behind the law. The courts have looked at this. I don't see any new evidence. I'm not going to second-guess the courts. I have no choice but to carry this through. I'm a governor, I have to uphold the law.

But as in this case, Larry, as so many others, the assumption that because appeals courts looked at these cases over all the years doesn't mean at all that they went back and looked at the fundamental evidence, and who were the evidence givers, jailhouse snitches.

I mean in my book, "Death of Innocence," I talk about accompanying two people to execution I believe are innocent. And in one of them, the Joseph O'Dell story in Virginia, while I'm writing the book, the jailhouse snitch calls me, crying and says what do I do now I lied, they killed Joe. And that's so present in this. And you got to go back to the original trial.

KING: Sister are you surprised -- I know that Pope John Paul always spoke out against executions and urged to try to attempt to prevent them. Did this pope speak out on this case?

PREJEAN: Well, it's hard for popes to get involved in individual cases. Pope John Paul did something even more...

KING: But they do.

PREJEAN: Yes, sometimes they do. I don't even know if Pope Benedict even knows about this case. I mean, it's great when a pope or any religious leader will speak out for our humanity, and for mercy.

You know, it's to me so interesting. I've been through this 20 years now, Larry, and accompanied these people. By the time you get to the end like this, for anybody to say that this is giving closure to victims' families--look at what's happening, even on your program, it splits victims' families down the middle.

You have disagreements even over what it should be. And to say you wait 25 years for this so-called closure or justice. You know, I've been thinking about Tookie Williams because I'm going, wait a minute, he was part of a gang. Gang justice is, if you kill a member of our gang, we kill you. And don't tell me anything about how you changed your life or what you're going to do. You kill, and we kill you.

And that's what the United States of America is doing with this. In California less than one percent of all the people...

KING: All right, Dennis...

PRAGER: I've always wanted to ask the sister a question. Do you feel that Israel was immoral when it executed Adolph Eichmann, the architect of the Holocaust, responsible for the death of a million Jews?

PREJEAN: There is no comparison between the Holocaust and killing six million people. In the United States of America...

PRAGER: So you're not against this.

KING: Let her finish.

PREJEAN: ...which has the constitution, which is supposed to assure due process, and equal justice under law. We don't have to do the death penalty. And, in fact, if you look at it we are shutting the death penalty down in the United States. There is less than half the death sentences now that we had four years ago.

PRAGER: But I didn't get a response.

This is a big thing on your show, sister, do you think that it was moral to execute Adolph Eichmann?

PREJEAN: All I want to say is when you draw up Hitler or Eichmann, you're dealing with something of such gravity--we don't have to kill people in the United States we have prisons.

PRAGER: They didn't have to kill Eichmann.

PREJEAN: And Tookie Williams is an example of why we don't have to kill people.

KING: All right. Sister.

PREJEAN: So making your comparison does not apply to the United States.

PRAGER: So if you murder one you should live, but if you murder a million you should die.

KING: Thank you, sister.

By the way, the true person against it should be against it completely. As, for example, if you're against abortion shouldn't it also be in the case of rape?

PRAGER: Actually it should be. Morally speaking, that's correct.

KING: Still a fetus.

PRAGER: That's correct.

KING: Actually a fetus.

PRAGER: Just like a newborn who is part of a rape shouldn't be...

KING: Wasn't the fetus' fault.

PRAGER: That's right.

KING: We have to take a break and we'll be right back with more.


KING: Few remaining moments left, there's the vigil remaining at San Quentin. We're joined, a repeat visit, for Kershaun Scott, former Crips gang member, now married with four kids. He grew up on the same street as Tookie. Says Tookie got his brother into the gang lifestyle.

How do you feel about this tonight, Kershaun?

KERSHAUN SCOTT, FORMER CRIPS GANG MEMBER KNOWS TOOKIE WILLIAMS: Well, I don't believe in the death penalty. I don't believe that you should-- you take a life so you -- you defend that by taking another life. It's wrong. KING: How well did you know Tookie?

SCOTT: I knew Tookie for a good number of years.

KING: When you knew him, he was a bad guy?

SCOTT: When I knew him, he was a normal guy. I didn't see any bad guy, so to speak. You know, this is a guy that would take the children on my block, myself included, to the park on Sundays. He would take us to the Festival in Black at MacArthur Park when that used to happen, years ago in the '70s. So, I never saw a violent --

KING: But he's admitted to turning bad.

SCOTT: Oh, well --

KING: He said that.

SCOTT: He's done some bad things that clearly he has stepped forward and said I made a mistake.

KING: You didn't want him to die?

SCOTT: No, I don't believe in it. I don't believe in it.

KING: All right. The latest that we have. We only have about a minute left. I want to thank the entire panel for coming. I want to thank you for coming Kershaun. Ted Rowlands, the schedule now what is two hours and nine minutes, right?

ROWLANDS: No, it's still about five hours away, just after midnight

KING: Oh, I'm looking at L.A.

ROWLANDS: We're still a ways to go. The crowd here is growing and the mood is becoming a lot more somber and will continue to get that way. I've covered other executions, as the time passes and we get closer to midnight.

KING: Do anything -- does the prison make an announcement?

ROWLANDS: Once the execution is carried out, an announcement is made in the death chamber, and also at the media pool, and then the word comes out here outside to the folks gathered here. And they'll be here up until midnight and a little bit after. And Mike Farrell will tell you, having been to many of these as well, it is a very, very somber mood at that moment, no matter where you stand on this issue, it's pretty somber.

KING: Thank you all very much. Thank you, panel for a lively issue. Thank you for coming. And we'll be right back with Jennifer Lee Pryor, the widow of Richard Pryor. Don't go away.



KING: I understand that you still smoke?


KING: How much?

PRYOR: About a pack a day.

KING: Oh, that's way down from what you used to do?

PRYOR: Yes. Used to do a bunch of packs. But because I'm with the Nazi now --

KING: The Nazi is the ex-wife? You call her the Nazi, right?

PRYOR: Right. Because she has taken up for, people think Hitler's gone, you know, but she's taken his place.


KING: That she is Jennifer Lee Pryor, the widow of comedian Richard Pryor, who was with him when he passed away. Had you divorced?

J. PRYOR: Oh, well we divorced 20 years ago, and we remarried four and a half years ago.

KING: So when I did that interview you hadn't remarried yet.

J. PRYOR: But we were together. He asked me to come back in '94. By the way, I've got to say something. I was just talking to Mr. Robbins.

You know it's kind of appropriate that I'm following this whole panel tonight about "Tookie" Williams. Richard would like me to say to you, and to say to everybody, it's wrong to kill this man. He needs a stay. Martin was sanctioned twice in other court cases.

Let this man have a say and investigate the case. Give it 30 days to investigate, and Richard would want me to say that. Thank you, Richard.

KING: You were with him when he passed?

J. PRYOR: Yes.

KING: What was that morning like? It was in the morning?

J. PRYOR: It was Saturday morning, yes.

KING: What happened?

J. PRYOR: My caregiver, Richard's caregiver called me and said he's not breathing. When I got to him, he was not indeed breathing, and the paramedics were on the phone, and they told me get him on the floor, we got him on the floor, and I administered CPR, chest compressions.

The paramedics came in like the cavalry, stormed the house, and worked on him. And nothing. They weren't getting anything. And they said is there a DNR? I said yes, but I'm his wife, do everything. And they did.

And they got him in the ambulance, took him to the hospital, and they worked on him again, gave him six different drugs to try to get that heart going. And it didn't work.

KING: What was the cause of death?

J. PRYOR: Cardiac arrest, yes.

KING: Did it stem from the sclerosis?

J. PRYOR: Oh, yes, of course -- oh, not sclerosis. I thought you said cirrhosis of the liver.

KING: Multiple sclerosis.

J. PRYOR: Indeed it did. Richard was on dialysis since February. And it's always, other attending things with these diseases, as you know.

KING: You said at the end there was a smile on his face?

J. PRYOR: Yes, there was a smile. He was laughing for the past two weeks of his life. He was really communicative in a wonderful way. He was laughing a lot. He was talking a lot. Which was unusual. Because he would sometimes talk and sometimes not. He was pretty consistently speaking. But he had a smile on his face.

KING: Did he know how important he was in comedy?

J. PRYOR: He finally got it. And I think the way he got it was from watching. Richard was still a student of comedy, which is wonderful. He studied everybody. Monique Slat's DVD he was watching. And I think that he realized all the comics, everything was so derivative from him.

You know, we'd look and I'd say Richard, look, that's you know you're "Live in Concert." They took that. You know, "Live on Sunset." They got, they stole everything. I think that's the way he got it.

KING: What caused you to divorce and remarry --

J. PRYOR: Real love. Real love.

KING: Why'd you get divorced?

J. PRYOR: Young, crazy, cocaine, you know, craziness. Nobody understanding. You know how it is. You don't understand life when you're young and stupid and high. And we parted. We never lost touch. And he was always the love of my life. And he asked me to come back in '94 because things were bad. His health was bad. His finances were bad. And you know --

KING: Were you expecting this?

J. PRYOR: No. No. Because we kept winning. There were challenges, all the time. The dialysis. Feeding tube. Every -- there were challenges. And we'd meet them head-on, and we would surmount them. And he was a fighter and a warrior. So I did not believe for a second that we wouldn't win this. And when they came and said, you know, I want Mrs. Pryor, I want to talk to you. I said no you don't.

KING: Who told you he died?

J. PRYOR: The nurse, one of the RNs, the head RN, said I want to talk to you Mrs. Pryor. I said no you do not want to talk to me. And she took me in a separate room and told me. And I've got to tell you, I was shocked. I mean, driving to the hospital, I was scared that I had faith.

KING: When is the funeral?

J. PRYOR: We're having private family services this weekend. And then mid-January I'm going to plan a big benefit, big memorial for Richard to celebrate him. The shock will be over. So people can get up there, all the comics, a lot of people from the entertainment industry. I'd love you to be there, Larry.

KING: Of course I'll be there.

J. PRYOR: And celebrate him in the way he would have wanted. Have some drinks and toast the man in charge.

KING: Never knew anything like him.

J. PRYOR: Thank you so much.

KING: Jennifer Lee Pryor, the widow of the great comedian Richard Pryor. Was with him when he passed away. Tomorrow night, the amazing -- not amazing, extraordinary occurrences of people missing at sea. Crimes at sea. Apparently people thrown overboard.

What's going on? Congress is looking at it.

Right now, we're looking to hop across the sea and go to Baghdad, Iraq. Standing by to host "ANDERSON COOPER 360," he's our traveling man, we never know where he is. He's in Baghdad for the whole week.