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Couey`s Confession Thrown Out
Aired July 10, 2006 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight, confession to murder out. Evidence of previous burglaries and prior child molestation out. Home field jury advantage out. With three strikes against him, can the state win the case against John Evander Couey in the murder of 9-year-old Florida girl Jessie Lunsford?
Also tonight: Rape and murder claims against a U.S. soldier, five more soldiers also facing serious charges that could lead to the death penalty.
And tonight, we are taking your calls.
But first to Florida and the murder trial of John Evander Couey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK LUNSFORD, JESSICA`S FATHER: I`m confident in the system. I`m confident in the prosecuting -- the state`s attorney office. I`m confident in all those people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Today, jury selection in the case against John Evander Couey kicks off in a Florida courtroom, but already the state is snakebit. Can they make a comeback?
Joining us right now, reporter with Newsradio 970, Eben brown. Eben, what happened in court today?
EBEN BROWN, NEWSRADIO 970: They started picking their jurors today. They`re doing this in a separate jurisdiction. It`s a neighboring county, Lake County, Florida. And they are just -- they haven`t picked a jury yet. I think they`re going to wait until about Wednesday, when they have the jury finalized. I think that`s what they`re aiming for.
GRACE: Now, when you say wait until Wednesday, let me get this straight, Eben. With us, Eben Brown, Newsradio 970. They are individually voir diring or questioning potential jurors, correct?
BROWN: They are. They`re interviewing jurors one by one. And again, they`re going to pick this jury. This jury has to go back to the original jurisdiction, which is -- which is Citrus County, and they`re going to be sequestered. So they`re going to make sure they`ve got the right 12 people.
GRACE: What type of questions are they asking the potential jurors?
BROWN: From what I heard, today it was a lot of personal questions about their lives, to see if they could make the commitment to the jury, not to mention I`m sure they`re probably asking about how much they know about this case. The reason for moving -- the reason for getting a jury from outside the original jurisdiction was because the media played a big part in this case, covered the search for young Jessica quite extensively. And that was the reason for getting jurors from outside the area, so that, hopefully, the Citrus County residents who were involved in that search...
BROWN: ... weren`t going to be put into this jury.
GRACE: Eben, already, the state is at a tactical disadvantage. This judge, Judge Howard, has ruled out a confession. I agree with the judge, although I hate it very much for the state, that Couey`s alleged confession will not come in. That confession is out. Evidence of similar transactions that date all the way back to 1977, including an a string of burglaries and an alleged assault on a 5-year-old little girl, out. Why? Why did the judge rule out the similar transactions?
BROWN: Well, the 19 -- I believe it was 1978 case, where John Couey was arrested for breaking into a young girl`s bedroom at night and I think trying to kiss her -- he was never convicted of that. The judge decided that that incident and this incident were not similar enough to establish a behavior pattern.
The 1991 incident was an arrest that John Couey was arrested for exposing himself and masturbating in front of a young girl. He was convicted of that. That`s what earned him his spot on the sex offender registry in the state of Florida. That has not been thrown out, I don`t believe.
GRACE: Now, I`m looking at his rap sheet. And correct me if you know better than the rap sheet.
GRACE: Here I`ve got 1977 is the offense date of the burglary, sentence -- now, he was adjudicated in 1978. Maybe that`s where you got the 1978 from. He got 10 years. That was a burglary. That included a 5- year-old girl. And according to my research, the 5-year-old girl incident, Eben, included him entering the home, slashing the screen -- in the South, there are screens outside the window to keep bugs out at night -- slashing the screen, getting into the home, going to her bedroom, restraining the little girl with a sheet, putting his hand over her mouth.
The judge ruled that wasn`t similar to this case? And also, that was in his sister`s neighborhood, and it was also at night with a child under 12. The only difference is that little girl got away. So what was Judge Howard thinking, Eben?
BROWN: Don`t know, but he decided that it wasn`t going to be fit for trial. So he took it out.
GRACE: Fit for trial. And then, of course, Anne Bremner, we`ve got the `77 burglary. We`ve got forged checks in `95...
ANNE BREMNER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right.
GRACE: ... `93. That wouldn`t matter. Worthless checks, 2001. You got another little felony popping up in `81 of a burglary. He got seven years on that. Then you`ve got a lewd lascivious act on a child in `91. Eben was talking about that.
GRACE: Was he out, Anne Bremner?
GRACE: Why was he walking the streets?
BREMNER: And that`s a great question, Nancy, because, you know, we`re looking now, why isn`t this evidence coming in, and you, Nancy, as a trial lawyer, know that when you want to bring in other transactions to show someone`s identity, you could have the mark of Zorro on -- on similarity, in terms of the transactions...
GRACE: Well -- well...
BREMNER: ... but the more important thing is...
GRACE: Correct me, Ann. Correct me. What could be more similar except the little 5-year-old girl sounded an alarm? I assume she screamed and she got away.
GRACE: And Jessie Lunsford did not?
BREMNER: You know, I think that`s -- that`s a great argument. And the judge may have thought these were too remote in time, additionally. And the proof wasn`t there, and they didn`t go to trial, et cetera. There`s always something there when you have to balance so carefully...
GRACE: Yes. Yes.
GRACE: There`s always something!
BREMNER: There`s always something. But the thing is, why was he out? It`s such a tragedy. And each case would speak to its -- on its own merits...
GRACE: Yes, you know what?
BREMNER: ... in terms of that, or lack of merit.
GRACE: We can all sit around and twirl our thumbs and go, Oh, what a tragedy. But this judge, Howard, had the ability, Alan Ripka, to do something about it and let this jury know about the similar transaction. Listen, Alan, I`m on board with the judge disallowing this guy`s confession. P.S., have you seen the confession? It`s disgusting.
ALAN RIPKA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, Nancy...
GRACE: I get it. I know what that`s ruled out. But why can`t this jury know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
RIPKA: Well, Nancy, the judge made a great decision. And the reason he did was because he doesn`t want this thing being reversed on appeal. And if they have a strong case against this defendant, let it go in as is, and let`s not have some appellate court say that the evidence that came in was prejudicial to this defendant and made this jury go in the wrong direction.
GRACE: OK, right there, Alan Ripka, you said the first defense argument that makes any sense to me, reality, and I`m sure the defense did not argue it in court. Here`s the real deal. Here`s why the judge didn`t let the similar transactions in. Because if there`s a conviction, this judge doesn`t want a reversal on appeal because can`t you just see, 15 years down the road, Alan Ripka, some judge sitting in his ivory tower at the 11th circuit court of appeals going, Hm, I don`t think this should have allowed that similar transaction. Case reversed. That`s why Howard did not allow this similar transaction in.
RIPKA: That`s right, Nancy. That`s exactly it.
GRACE: You`re darn right! That`s why. Don`t come to me and tell me it`s not similar enough. It`s exactly similar. It is a fingerprint crime. The reason he`s not allowing it is because he doesn`t want a reversal on appeal.
Rosie (ph), let`s go to the lines. Let`s go to Rusty in Texas. Hi, Rusty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Nancy. I`m just wondering, is there any way the investigators can be held liable for potentially giving Couey a free ride by denying him the lawyer?
GRACE: Can I tell you how my head nearly blew off when I found out this guy asked for a lawyer? Well, when I first heard it, Rusty, I didn`t believe it. I did not believe seasoned detectives could be so wrong. Then I found out the awful truth just before Independence Day, they were. The guy asked for a lawyer. Instead of stopping the interrogation, they continued.
Here`s their defense, Rusty. They said they thought the girl might still be alive. And once the lawyer came, they knew he would clam up. They were trying to save the little girl`s life. In retrospect, bad move, and they need to go get a job flipping burgers at McDonald`s because they ruined this case.
But bottom line -- back to Eben Brown with 970 -- Eben, what else do we have besides the confession that`s been thrown out?
BROWN: Well, it was the confession and that 1978-`77 charge, where he broke into the home. That`s -- those are the big two ones that I`m aware of. But the -- it`s funny that you bring up the confession. When the confession was thrown out, the prosecutor in the case, assistant state attorney Rick Ridgeway (ph), said to him that wasn`t too much of a big deal, that they had plenty of evidence left to use to assure a conviction. So losing the confession was no big deal to him.
GRACE: Eben, Eben, Eben...
GRACE: Of course that`s what the prosecution says publicly. It was a mortal blow. What do you want the prosecutor to do, to come out on the courthouse steps and say, The case is ruined, I`m not even going to take it to trial? Of course not. You`ve got keep a stiff upper lip. You`ve got to chin up and get back in there and try that case. The reality is, Eben, I do think there`s a lot of additional evidence.
Joining me right now, a very special guest. You all know Mark Lunsford. This is little Jessie`s father. Mark, thank you for being with us.
LUNSFORD: Thank you, Nancy, for having me.
GRACE: We`ve been thinking about you. Viewers, here`s your chance to ask Mark Lunsford questions. Mark, this nearly turned into "blame the victim" defense here. Remember, everybody, there was a search of Mark`s home. They took his computer. They found a Playboy-type channel on his computer, some pictures on his computer, and tried to put you on trial. I don`t know. I thought I was in America, Mark. When did the victim get put on -- when do -- was it OK under the Constitution for to you get put on trial?
LUNSFORD: Well, I mean, they didn`t -- I mean, obviously, I`m not on trial here. The computer had nothing to do with Jessie`s disappearance. Therefore, it has nothing to do with the trial. And you know, they made their decision on that today, and to me, you know, it`s just cheap potshots. You know, you make one guy look bad so people will feel better for somebody else.
GRACE: You know what it is, Mark? It`s "hide the ball." Hey, look. Look at Mark Lunsford. Look what was on his computer, the Playboy channel, or whatever it was. And you`re going to get a juror to think that somehow, because you had a shot of a lady without her top on, on your computer -- you know what? If you took every man that had a shot like that on his computer and put him in jail, we`d have nobody left in the workforce, OK? It`d all be over. So I guess they wanted to hide the ball and get the jury to look at you, for some reason, as opposed to the guy on trial for the murder of your girl?
LUNSFORD: Right. I mean, I`m -- I`m kind of...
GRACE: I`d be (INAUDIBLE)
LUNSFORD: ... dumbfounded with this stuff. But yes, it`s -- to me, it just seemed like a cheap shot because it didn`t have anything to do with Jessie.
But you know, I think, foremost, we should always remember that the real mission here -- I mean, this trial and everything, this is for Jessie. It`s not for me. It`s not for my family. It`s justice for Jessie. What we need to stay focused on is the legislation that we have in Washington, D.C., that`s held up in committee because they don`t like mandatory sentencing. They don`t like states having to pay so much by not complying by one year. And they don`t like it because we want the information about juveniles to stay on the record.
I think we should stay focused on things like this, stay focused on the fight. Let the prosecutors and the judges and the defense attorneys, let them fight that fight, but let`s stay focused on our fight.
GRACE: You know, Mark, I want to thank you for speaking out tonight. I agree with you that this is justice for Jessie, but it`s not just about Jessie Lunsford. It`s about every little boy and girl sleeping in their bed tonight, where people...
LUNSFORD: That`s right.
GRACE: ... like this guy -- if he is, in fact, guilty -- are put in jail and kept in jail. Now, this guy, registered sex offender, was a couple of hundred feet from Jessie Lunsford`s home, from her school bus stop. Why? Why is that?
Let`s go to the lines. Lori in Indiana. Lori? Maryland? Hi, Lori. What`s your question, dear?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My question is, have the other members of the Couey household, his family members -- have they been called as witnesses in his trial, and do they face charges? And also to let Mark know our thoughts and prayers in Maryland are with him. And I have faith that they`re going to convict. They can throw out what they want, but they`re going to convict.
GRACE: I think you`re right, Lori. I think that there is -- from what we`ve heard, and we`re not going to know until the trial actually kicks off, what the evidence is, but the pretrial evidence suggests that there is going to be Jessie Lunsford`s blood on John Evander Couey`s mattress. We are going to certainly find fibers that connect her body to the inside of his home. Her little hands, 9 years old, were tied with speaker wire. Certainly, that`s going to be traceable back to its owner`s speakers, to the stereo. The body of this little girl was found, we believe, buried alive, along with a little stuffed animal her dad had just given her, very near where Couey was shacking up.
In response to your question about his family also living there in the mobile home, they are not facing any charges. And I`m just wondering -- out to Mark Lunsford -- there is no way these people did not know a 9-year- old girl, in a mobile home, people, was in the next room. How could they not know that? According to Couey, she was in there for many days. What about it, Mark?
LUNSFORD: Well, you`re right, Nancy. And that`s why it`s so important for me to try to get Jessie`s Law passed in every state and to get tough legislation. Jessie`s Law covers, you know, having a sex offender living with you, knowing that he`s absconded from registration, harboring. These are the things that`s in Jessie`s Law. These are the things that we need to pass in each state to keep this from happening again in another state.
GRACE: Take a listen to what Couey had to say.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOHN EVANDER COUEY: I went out there one night and dug a hole and put her in it, buried her, (INAUDIBLE) plastic bag, plastic baggies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was she dead already?
COUEY: No, she was alive. I buried her alive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And where`s her dolphin at?
COUEY: In there, buried with her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the bag with her?
COUEY: Yes, sir. I let her keep it. She wanted to take it with her.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
GRACE: Mark, when you hear that, what do you feel?
LUNSFORD: I feel a lot of anger. And I have to tell people...
GRACE: I do, too.
LUNSFORD: Well, I have a lot of anger for a lot of things, you know, how our system doesn`t work, how people can do this to children. And I have to keep telling people, Hound your legislators on a federal level and on a state level. Thank you, Nancy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I could tell you like I`ve said to our community and to this nation, from its start that we work for Jessica. You will now see the evidence that this agency has compiled to convict John Couey and put him to death.
LUNSFORD: I`d like to see them bring the electric chair to Florida. From my understanding, it`s death by lethal injection. But, you know, I jut want him to die. That`s all I want him to do. I just want him to die.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Jury selection in the case against John Evander Couey kicking off today in a Florida courtroom. Already, we have had a venue change for jury selection purposes alone. In other words, the case has been moved out of Citrus County, about 90 miles away for jury selection. Those jurors will then be bused back to the home turf for the trial. They will be sequestered throughout the trial.
With us along with an expert panel tonight, the father of 9-year-old Jessie, Jessica Marie Lunsford, is with us, Mark Lunsford.
Let`s go to the lines. Let`s go to Connie in Georgia. Hi, Connie.
GRACE: What`s your question, dear?
CALLER: I was wondering if Mark supported the death penalty in this case, and would he be present at an execution?
GRACE: OK, that`s putting the cart before the horse, but go ahead, Mark.
LUNSFORD: I do support the death penalty for any child. It`s an eye for an eye for a child. You kill a child, you should die for that child.
GRACE: I want to go back to Eben Brown. Evan, a lot of us believe the jury will be struck by Thursday. Do we have a real grasp, since it`s individual voir dire, individual questioning, what types of questioning? Can you watch the questioning?
BROWN: No. Questioning is being kept secret. We`re getting some words out of just questioning the individual people, just to see if they`re going to be ready for this trial, to make sure that they were not involved in those searches, or if they were, it was from a minimal level.
But just some sort of disinvolvement from the case, because the Citrus County community was very involved in that case, and the defense said we can`t get a fair jury out of these people.
GRACE: Take a listen to what Couey said in his alleged confession.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John, would you take a lie detector test for us?
COUEY: Yeah, I guess. I want a lawyer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m just asking. I`m just asking. Would you? I`m not saying do it now. I`m just saying would you?
COUEY: I said I would, I just want to talk to a lawyer. I want a lawyer here present. I want to talk to a lawyer. Because I mean, if people are trying to accuse something that I didn`t do. I didn`t do it. I ain`t, you know (BLEEP). [
It was like three days of something like that she stayed in the closet and I was feeding her. You know, I wouldn`t let her starve, gave her water and stuff like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: I want to go to Jesse`s father, Mark Lunsford. How badly did you take it when you learned his confession was thrown out by Judge Howard?
LUNSFORD: Well, I knew long before that, about the confession. I knew long before that there was a chance that it could be throwed out. But I also knew that the state attorney`s office and the sheriff`s department had everything they needed to convict the guy that murdered my daughter.
GRACE: What do you mean, everything they needed?
LUNSFORD: Well, the physical evidence. Everything they needed. The confession, losing the confession, OK, we hated it, but it wasn`t no big deal. They still have the physical evidence and other stuff that`s going to convict this guy.
GRACE: Everyone, if you want to know more about this, if you want to know more about the confession, you can go online to our Web site, headlinenews.com. We`ll be right back. As you know, the jury selection in the case of John Evander Couey, kicking of in a Florida courtroom today.
Very quickly, to tonight`s trial tracker -- first up, the trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The defense and Hussein himself refused to attend the trial now. In a letter to the judge, Hussein alleges, quote, "a malicious American desire for his conviction." The defense now protesting the killing of one of their colleagues last month, claiming a lack of security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COUEY: I went out there one night and dug a hole and put her in it. Buried her. Plastic bag, plastic baggies.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was she dead already?
COUEY: No. She was still alive. I buried her alive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Fate smiled on John Evander Couey. His confession has been thrown out of evidence by trial judge Rick Howard. He is facing trial and a possible death penalty in this asphyxiation death of this little girl, 9- year-old Jessie Lunsford.
Out to Eben Brown, with 970 Radio. What`s the mode of death penalty in Florida? I know there`s lethal injections. Is there still the electric chair, or has that been ruled unconstitutional?
BROWN: I think they go by lethal injection, if I remember. I am not -- I know that he`s up for the death penalty. I`m not sure of the method.
GRACE: Let`s go to the lines. David in Mississippi. Hi, David.
CALLER: Hi, Nancy. Thank you for taking my call.
GRACE: Yes, sir. What`s your question?
CALLER: My question is, why would they have this -- this creature out on the streets in the state of Florida to begin with? With all of his prior convictions, I mean, he should have never been outside of a jail cell.
GRACE: You are so right, and guess what? They didn`t even prosecute the case where the alleged victim was another little girl. We`ll all be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve built this case on the rock solid, hard evidence. Evidence doesn`t lie. I`ve got enough evidence to put John Couey to death, and that`s our next phase.
LUNSFORD: My sheriff has got enough on this guy, we don`t need the confession. That`s what the sheriff told me, and that`s the way it is. Couey will still get convicted. He`ll still spend the rest of his life in prison, and he`ll die in prison.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Jury selection kicking off today in a Florida courtroom. Welcome back, everybody.
With us tonight, the father of Jesse Lunsford, the victim in this case, a 9-year-old little girl known across the country as the girl in the pink hat. This was the photo that was used to try to find Jesse. At that time, no one knew she was just a few feet from home buried, possibly buried alive.
To Dr. Jonathan Arden, medical examiner, Dr. Arden, we all know that the confession was ruled out by the judge. I understand that. We`re going to work within those confines. What can we expect to learn from little Jesse`s body?
JONATHAN ARDEN, MEDICAL EXAMINER, FORENSIC PATHOLOGIST: Well, unfortunately, there may not be too much specific that will be learned from her body that will corroborate the story. But in actuality, that may be all you can expect.
Remember, if you die from asphyxiation, it does not normally leave any specific kind of marks. And in fact, if you are suffocated, such as buried or in the bag, it probably won`t leave any physical marks whatsoever, irrespective of the time that it took before they could actually recover her.
GRACE: Well, what about fibers?
ARDEN: There may, of course, be some hairs and fibers. Those would relate to the activities that happened getting her into the position, as opposed to something that specifically proves asphyxiation. I think you have to...
GRACE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Dr. Arden, what about fibers on her body from his bedroom?
ARDEN: That`s exactly what I`m saying. You can get scientific evidence that may associate her with the location, which will be very, very strong evidence, as far as where she was and the idea of what happened to her. It won`t necessarily, per se, prove asphyxia.
You can also be looking for DNA here. For instance, if he ties her with that stereo cord, he may be leaving DNA and a few cells behind, and that may also, not only link her to his bed through the fibers, but link him to her bindings, and that`s very compelling evidence.
GRACE: OK. What about sperm?
ARDEN: Well, of course, if you can recover any of that, and DNA is a very potent tool for that, then that`s a huge piece of evidence, as far as corroborating what happened.
GRACE: Let me go to Chase (ph), Doctor. She was missing three weeks before she was discovered on March 19th. How much later, after a sex assault, can you expect to get sperm DNA?
ARDEN: In a living person, you`re probably looking at something in the neighborhood of a few days or a week.
GRACE: OK, deceased?
ARDEN: But in a deceased person, if she intact in that place, there`s no reason for that DNA to leave. You could be talking about weeks. You could be talking about months.
GRACE: All right. So we`ve got a possibility of his DNA on her body. Then the defense would be in the position of saying, yes, he raped her, but somebody else killed her. You know what? Good luck.
Let`s go to the lines. Mary in Pennsylvania, hi, dear.
CALLER: Hi, Nancy.
GRACE: What`s your question, dear?
CALLER: No, I just wanted to say that I think he should be put in a bag and put in the ground alive.
GRACE: Hmm, agree or disagree, Mark Lunsford?
CALLER: I think he should...
LUNSFORD: I think he should definitely receive the death penalty.
GRACE: Well, Ellie, isn`t it correct that, in Florida -- Ellie here did a little research -- there is the electric chair and lethal injection?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. Florida introduced lethal injection in 2000, but an inmate can still choose to be electrocuted if they want.
GRACE: Lethal injection, in case this ever comes up in casual conversation, is a cocktail of sodium thiopental, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride. To psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig, author of "`Till Death Do Us Part," Robi, what contributes to pedophilia? And, remember, of course, the state doesn`t have to prove why, motive, but just out of curiosity?
DR. ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, very often these pedophiles are sexually stunted. So psychologically, they`re more like children. Very often, the only way that they can feel excited is when they are in power and in control.
And so they`re psychologically and sexually impotent with people their own age. And in some cases, they experience sexual abuse as children, so it`s a repetition compulsion. It`s almost a way to tell the story of what happened to them in their own lives.
GRACE: Well, what do you make of the fact that, as Evan Brown (ph), told us, you`ve got an offense back in `78, you`ve got a burglary in `77, a burglary in `78, where there was a 5-year-old girl that he allegedly bound with a sheet, fondled a little girl. I mean, this goes on and on and on, the continued behavior.
LUDWIG: And will probably continue to go on and on, that it`s a sexual addiction and it`s a compulsion, and that these people are out of control, so they cannot be around children. They can`t control themselves. And the impulse and urge will probably always be there. And it`s very, very hard to cure, if ever.
GRACE: To Clark, this, of course, is not the first time a high- profile repeat sex offender has committed murder.
CLARK GOLDBAND, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: And speaking of 5-year-old girls that we`ve been talking about this evening, take a look at Samantha Runnion. You remember her well. What a tragedy. Alejandro Avila...
GOLDBAND: Sorry, Avila. He was convicted of not only killing her but sexually torturing her -- pardon me...
GRACE: And her attorney, John Posa, had a big fight with him one night on the Larry King show, represented Alejandro Avila before Samantha was murdered, and got him off on two molestation of two separate little girls.
GOLDBAND: Exactly right. He was tried before for sex offenses, found not guilty, then it happened.
Now, let`s move onto Sarah Michelle Lunde. Here she is, 13-year-old girl. That person who broke into her house, he`s on trial right now. That`s David Onstott. He allegedly strangled her, which we heard about here on...
GRACE: You know how she was identified? She had on a cast -- this little girl -- how old was she, 11 or 13?
GRACE: ... had on cast that was green, a green cast, and they found her floating in a pond.
GOLDBAND: So we hear about the mode of death there, strangulation.
And certainly, last but not least, we have Shasta -- there she is -- and we have poor Dylan Groene who was found dead at the hands of Joseph Edward Duncan. And, again, this ties into the history we were speaking about. Joseph Edward Duncan, 30-year pattern of sexual violence. How this guy was on the streets is certainly a good question for...
GRACE: To Anne Bremner, Anne, as a defense lawyer, when you have a child molestation case, you`re hearing Dr. Robi, you`re hearing me with anecdotal evidence, you`re hearing Clark give you a rundown of high-profile repeat offenders, how do you go in a courtroom and look a jury in the eye and say he`s not guilty? How do you do it?
BREMNER: You know, as I was sitting here, Nancy, I was just thinking -- I`m representing crime victims in the case of a 30-year pedophile. And that`s horrible.
How do you do it when you`re defending? I`ll tell you something: Look at this case. The offense was 30 years old. When you talk about the mark of Zorro on common scheme or plan evidence, it`s got to be a common scheme or plan, Nancy. And if it happened 30 years ago, that doesn`t work.
And when you`re looking at the mark of Zorro or actual similarities that show identity, it has to be...
GRACE: Are you referring to fingerprint crimes when you`re saying mark of Zorro?
BREMNER: But that`s the same thing, Nancy. In our jurisdiction, it`s mark of Zorro. It`s also called...
GRACE: Yes, well, you know, there`s a made-up fantasy. This is the rape and murder of a little girl, so...
BREMNER: No, but you know what, Nancy? What I`m saying is, is that, when you look at pattern evidence of this kind, you`ve got to have things like the Green River murder, like posing someone with a bottle of wine and a fish or rocks on the body. Something that bizarre and specific qualifies.
That having been said, when you go in a courtroom and this confession -- you`re right, these officers, they absolutely misbehaved. And that should have been thrown out, that confession.
GRACE: Oh, yes, OK, you know, I`m glad you got our priorities straight. Bad detective.
GRACE: Not letting him have a lawyer. Forget about the dead little girl. You know what? I got it. I gave you your chance to...
BREMNER: No, I have one more thing. Nancy, I have one more thing.
GRACE: In a nutshell, please.
BREMNER: In a nutshell, the true test of our system is how we treat the most heinous. And that`s something that we all have to think about.
GRACE: To Alan Ripka, let me try to rephrase this question, as we commonly do in a courtroom. As a defense attorney, how do you keep your eye on the prize -- a not guilty verdict -- when you`re in front of a jury? You have children. How do you do it?
GRACE: I`m not scorning you. I`m not mocking you. I`m asking you: How do you do it?
RIPKA: You get up there, and you present your case the best way you can. And you stand up for your client, and you understand, at the end of the case, the jury would have heard all the facts from both sides and will make a decision.
And you do the best you can to make sure that your client gets a fair trial. And, obviously, you can`t make things up that the jury`s never going to believe, so you lay it out and you hope they find -- you know, for you.
GRACE: I`m going to go back to Mark Lunsford. Mark, the case kicking off today with jury selection. Do you plan to be there? I mean, ever since this happened, you`ve been all over the country as a victim`s rights advocate. How are you living?
LUNSFORD: Well, like I said, you know, I work through the foundation now, and that`s what I do. I travel to other states. I do these things, and I`m reimbursed through the foundations for my expenses, you know, and that`s how it works. And I just appreciate you and everybody else`s help.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can tell you, like I`ve said to our community and to this nation, from its starting, that we work for Jessica. You will now see the evidence that this agency has compiled to convict John Couey and put him to death.
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NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. military clearly trying to be very public and clear about what happened at this house near Mahmoudiya in the rape and murder of a young Iraqi woman and a murder of her family.
In court papers, the FBI lists Al-Janabi as 25 years old. In Iraq, the U.S. military puts her age as 20. Now, Reuters News Agency has published pictures of Al-Janabi`s identity papers, showing she would have been 14 at the time of her rape and murder.
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GRACE: What are we willing to ignore in the name of patriotism, in the name of war? Just how long can we hold our nose? Right now, a U.S. soldier and his cohorts are charged with rape, a conspiracy to commit murder.
Out to Nic Robertson, CNN senior international correspondent, Nic, bring us up to date, friend.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The soldiers are being held on their base, Nancy. They`ve had their weapons taken away from them. They`re escorted wherever they go on their base. They`ll be held in Iraq as long as their unit is here, and this is where they`ll be charged.
If their unit goes back home, then they`ll face the charges back home. Right now, they`re being held here, Nancy.
GRACE: Now, how many of them, Nic, are being charged with the actual rape?
ROBERTSON: Four of them in Iraq, plus the former Private First Class Steven Green, who was honorably discharge for a personality disorder a few months ago...
GRACE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, you get...
ROBERTSON: ... who`s now in the U.S. being traveled in -- yes?
GRACE: ... you get an honorable discharge for a personality disorder that displays itself under combat?
ROBERTSON: Those were the terms of his end of service with the military here. It`s not clear what that personality disorder was. That hasn`t been explained. A dishonorable discharge means, though, that he didn`t leave with a cloud over his head.
GRACE: Nic, explain to us what the rudimentary facts are surrounding this charge?
ROBERTSON: That the men conspired by planning to go into a house about 200 yards from their checkpoint to rape a young woman there. They planned it. They dressed in black clothes. They went into the house.
Some of the soldiers shot three family members who were in the house - - it appears to be the mother, father and a younger child -- went into the room where the young woman was, raped her. At least two of them raped her, shot her in the head, burnt her body, burned the house, put an AK-47 that had been used in the killing of these family members, threw that AK-47 in the canal, tried to hide what they were doing, Nancy.
GRACE: Well, what`s amazing to me, Nic, is I see the defense shaping up for Steven D. Green, age 21. It`s going to be some type of a temporary insanity or mental defect defense. He`s going to be tried in a federal court. Is it Kentucky, Nic?
ROBERTSON: It is going to be in Kentucky. And the charges have already been laid out by the FBI.
GRACE: Isn`t that quite a distance away from Iraq?
ROBERTSON: It`s going to be very interesting to see how his trial differs from that over the other soldiers. He does appear -- the indications are at this stage that he does appear to perhaps to have played a leading role in these tragic events.
GRACE: To Colonel Bill Eckhardt, U.S. Army retired, former JAG, current law professor, Colonel, thank you for being with us.
COL. BILL ECKHARDT, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI: You`re quite welcome.
GRACE: If you could quickly walk us through -- and, you know, Colonel, if a foreign soldier was on U.S. soil and raped a 14-year-old American girl, killed a family with an AK-47, you know he`d be tried right here in the U.S. of A. So explain to us...
ECKHARDT: Well, not necessarily. It would depend upon if that government had a status of forces agreement, like some of our NATO allies do with us.
GRACE: I see. What do you think about this case? Why is he not going to be tried in Iraq?
ECKHARDT: Because he is out of the service. The Supreme Court of the United States limits military jurisdiction. And when one is out of the service, you in essence lose jurisdiction.
GRACE: I don`t mean a military court, Colonel. I mean, why is he not being extradited to a criminal court in Iraq for a crime?
ECKHARDT: Because we have a status of forces agreement. The United States does not -- it tries and disciplines its own troops. You simply could not have a worldwide force and let every single country try our soldiers, where punishments would vary from whipping to hand-cutting-off to not having due process. You can`t do that.
GRACE: Colonel, understood. I understand that.
Back to Nic Robertson, CNN`s senior international correspondent, Nic, what is the response there in Iraq to this incident, a whole family wiped out? At first, I understand, that it was explained away by sectarian violence. And then the awful truth began to emerge.
ROBERTSON: The prime minister has said that there should be an independent investigation into this, an Iraqi investigation into it. He`s even suggested that, because U.S. troops are immune from trial under Iraqi law in Iraq, that perhaps this allows them to break the law in Iraq and feel that they can do it with impunity fuels that kind of situation.
The government here has been very critical. The prime minister here has been under a lot of pressure. He needs to show that he`s independent from U.S. influence. He needs to show that Iraq is a sovereign country. He`s just in the post. He needs to appear strong.
The transparency that is under way already in this case is going to help him, but he`s going to be under a lot of pressure here to put pressure on the United States that visibly do something to help him.
GRACE: You know, Dr. Robi, in this case, the little girl, 14 years old, Abeer al-Janabi, allegedly raped and murdered by AK-47, her 5-year-old little sister, her mother, her father, all dead.
And this guy is claiming an -- oh, oh, oh, and the bodies burned to hide the evidence. Let`s not forget that ending. Antisocial personality, what is that?
LUDWIG: Now, that`s the same as somebody who is a sociopath, sociopathic personal disorder. And it means that they have no ability to empathize with another individual.
Now, having said that, not all sociopaths are necessarily violent, will turn into killers or rapists. But in some cases, they can be quite sadistic, and there can be a sadistic thrill, especially when in a war environment. We hear about people having a negative feeling about killing, but there are also that subgroup of people who get a thrill from it, and he`s in that subgroup.
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MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL, ARMY SPOKESMAN: This investigation is ongoing. These are alleged charges. And at this point, again, everybody`s presumed innocent until proven guilty, but the charges have been read against him at this point.
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GRACE: We`re taking a look at a scene where a 14-year-old Iraqi girl was allegedly raped by American troops, then murdered along with her 5- year-old sister and parents. Will there be justice and where?
Straight out to CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson. Nic, a couple of questions, very quickly.
Number one, can we prove they intentionally left their post? And is it true that they put so much forethought into it that they changed their clothes into dark clothing, went to the home, allegedly committed the crime, then changed back into their other clothes and came back to their post?
ROBERTSON: These are the allegations, as startling as they may seem. I mean, Iraq is the most dangerous country in the world for U.S. troops right now. Most wouldn`t think about taking their body armor off, their protective helmets, putting their weapons down, and getting into civilian- type clothing, and leaving the safety of their post, putting themselves at extreme danger.
We know what happened just a few weeks ago, soldiers in the same area, beheaded, kidnapped. They planned this; that`s the accusation. They planned it, changed clothes, went to the house, changed clothes so nobody would know that this was American soldiers going into the house.
GRACE: What about an autopsy, Nic? It`s my understanding that, because of various religious beliefs there, an autopsy to show a rape is disallowed?
ROBERTSON: What we do know -- and we`ve been talking to different religious authorities here -- that under Islam a body can be exhumed if the rights of that person can be better upheld by exhuming them and performing whatever examinations on them are required. So that`s the interpretation we have right now.
GRACE: Nic Robertson and Colonel Eckhardt, thank you.
Let`s stop and remember Army Master Sergeant Clinton Cubert, 38, killed, Iraq, 19-year National Guard veteran, platoon leader, received multiple medals, including the Purple Heart. Cubert from Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, and leaves behind a widow and two daughters. Clinton Cubert, American hero.
Thank you to all of our guests. Thank you for being with us, inviting us into your home. Nancy Grace signing off. Until tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern, good night, friend.