|Geraldo Transcript, Aug 24, 2000
[Courtesy Justice Watch Forum]
RIVERA: OK, let's change topics now. We go from the ridiculous to the very serious. The Mountain Is Going To Muhammed; the--the Ramseys are going to--rather, the Boulder cops are going to Atlanta, Georgia, to talk to the Ramseys. Here is tape T. Roll it.
JOHN RAMSEY: (From May 24) You need to realize there's a killer of children that walks among us. It's not Patsy, and it's not I. Let's get on with finding the killer. That is our single and only objective in doing any of this.
RIVERA: If nothing else, they have been remarkably consistent. For more than three and a half years, John and Patsy Ramsey have steadfastly denied they had anything to do with America's best-known unsolved murder mystery, the terrible slaying of their daughter, JonBenet. Next Monday they will make their claim of innocence once again to Boulder, Colorado, police investigators. This is new--what's new is that they're traveling to Atlanta, the cops are, to meet with the long-suspected couple. The Ramseys brought up the idea of speaking to detectives for the first time in two years this past spring during that media blitz they did to promote their book about the case. The separate interviews, which will be videotaped, were finally scheduled after months of negotiations, during which there were--there was news of--of a dramatic development--John Ramsey called it 'hugely significant'--when Boulder police finally announced early this month that they are now looking into an unsolved 1997 sex-assault case, an attack on a teen-age girl who attended the same dance academy as JonBenet and lived just two miles away from the murdered child. Now I really am pleased to welcome Lin Wood to the program. He is the attorney for John and Patsy Ramsey, best known, you may recall, for his successful representation of Richard Jewell. Richard Jewell, of course, falsely accused in the Atlanta Olympic bombing case. In Denver tonight, we also welcome our old pal Dick--District Attorney Bob Grant back. Bob, a dis--DA in Adams County, Colorado. He's on the Boulder DA special prosecution task force for the Ramsey case. In New York, my colleague and--and host here very often, Dan Abrams, NBC's fine legal correspondent.
But, Lin, you're the star, at least of the beginning of the program. Why--first of all, before we talk about your clients, why are you, the attorney, sitting here on the eve of what would appear to be a fairly significant encounter with the cops?
WOOD: Well, a couple of reasons. One, to clear up a lot of misconceptions about this interview that's going to start on Monday. For example, there have been statements that have been made just in the last couple of minutes that this is a long-delayed meeting. In fact, John and Patsy Ramsey have not been asked to participate in an interview for over two years, since they were last interrogated for three days in June of 1998.
RIVERA: Not formally asked.
WOOD: Not informally. In fact, during that two-year time period, on several occasions, they offered to come out and speak with police authorities and the district attorney. They were either rejected, refused or ignored. But the fact is it's also not correct that these interviews are taking place after, quote-unquote, "months of negotiations." The fact of the matter is the request was made. Some television phone conversations occurred to clarify; some letters, two or three, exchanged between Chief Beckner and myself--ultimately, one from Michael Kane, the special prosecutor from Pennsylvania. And once we clarified exactly what the Boulder authorities wanted from John and Patsy, they agreed to each and every condition. Then last week we--we read that the Ramseys only agreed because there was a threat of a--of a grand jury being reconvened. It's absolutely false. Never had that discussion. And then we read, again, in the Denver Post: 'Months of negotiations.' Same problem; just didn't happen.
RIVERA: I remember when the book came out, Alex Hunter and many others were saying, it would be useful if the Ramseys were telling us some of the things they're telling the media and were sitting down. So, I don't know, I don't want to nitpick here, but it does seem that the process was not as down and dirty as you describe, right?
WOOD: Well, I have to tell you, Geraldo, I've been on--this September will be one year of my direct involvement. I have never seen or received any request, until recently, for John and Patsy to be interviewed by the Boulder authorities.
RIVERA: You mean, never--nothing from them direct. They haven't (unintelligible).
WOOD: Nothing from them direct. And, you know, it's interesting. I mean, John and Patsy did, in fact, grant interviews in connection with their book. They made a decision to write a book to tell their side of the story. They basically sat back, with a couple of limited occasions--they--they sat back for three years, and they took the hits in an almost unilateral crush of negative, accusatory media coverage of their case. They had very, very good lawyers at the time. They hired them, they followed their professional advice, and they were criticized for not saying enough. Now they come out, they give interviews, they answer every question--and, let me tell you, some of the media questions are a lot tougher than some of the questions that were posed to them back in June of '98 and April of '97 by the authorities. But they answer every question, and they're criticized for--for now saying too much. I mean, you can't have it both ways. You've either got to decide that these people are, in fact, willing to talk and answer the questions, which I submit they have been and have been doing in an almost unprecedented fashion. Geraldo, you're well-versed in criminal matters and other litigation. Name a case where people who are known to be suspects, under the umbrella of suspicion, have ever granted as many hours voluntarily to sit down and answer questions from authorities than John and Patsy Ramsey: three days in June of 1998; a full day in April of 1997; some discussions in December of '96; and now, once again, we go in day five on Monday, no limitations on time. They can stay as long as they want day six, seven, eight, nine and 10. They're going to answer every question that's new, that's fair, that will help this group of investigators.
RIVERA: You'll be in the room.
WOOD: find the--find the killer of their child.
RIVERA: You'll be there.
WOOD: I'll be in the room, of course. I'm going to make sure it's fair.
RIVERA: I don't remember, are you a criminal attorney as well as a civil.
WOOD: I am not a criminal attorney, although I thought for a while, back in 1996, when the FBI was following Richard Jewell everywhere he went, that I was about to become one. Fortunately, I did not. I stayed on the civil side.
RIVERA: Is that--is that risky, going in with a civil attorney?
WOOD: Well, I think my advice and recommendations to John and Patsy would be the same as a criminal attorney would give them. I'm confident in--in my ability to deal with this situation; they're confident in it.
WOOD: So we're ready to go.
RIVERA: OK. Dan Abrams, are you ready to go?
ABRAMS: I'm ready to go. I'm going to Atlanta, Geraldo.
RIVERA: OK, man. Good. All right, you--stand by, Dan and Bob Grant. Let me take a quick break. We're going to devote the rest of the program to this. The Mountain Is Going To Muhammed. Stay tuned. Right back. Lin Wood be right back.
(Excerpt from May 24)
JOHN RAMSEY: Someone killed this six-year-old child. We know that, and we want them captured. We're not going
PATSY RAMSEY: Ask Mark Beckner where we go next.
JOHN RAMSEY: ...to go on with our lives until that happens.
(End of excerpt)
STEVE THOMAS: (From RIVERA LIVE, April 17) I'm sure we'll get an opportunity to talk about what I call the utter illogic of an intruder in this case, but, specifically, I don't know where common sense and logic was lost in Boulder, Colorado, but I think it takes a remarkably simple scenario that I believe is consistent with the evidence to explain, as I do in my hypothesis, Patsy Ramsey's involvement in this crime.
RIVERA: Comment, Lin?
WOOD: Well, common sense and logic was lost in Boulder, Colorado, by people like Steve Thomas, a policeman who was inexperienced in homicides, decided he had a theory of the case, tried to find evidence to support it, as--as bizarre as it was then and remains today, and then decides that he'll go out and write a book about it, make money and become a--a personality on the talk show host, profiting off the death of this child, using police criminal investigation files in a--in a explanation for this child's death that blames Patsy Ramsey, but is not supported by fact. He writes a book of fiction, but because he's a detective and carries with him the weight of, 'I worked on the investigation,' to a lot of people what he says is fact. And it's wrong, and it's not the way we ought to be conducting our system of criminal justice.
RIVERA: Dan Abrams, let me start there, if I may. Is this as big a non-event, in a sense, as--as Lin, I think, is portraying it to be, this meeting of the cops and the Ramseys?
ABRAMS: Look, I think don't think it's a non-event in the minds of the prosecutors and the authorities from Boulder. I think the end result will be a non-event. I think, in the end, you're not going to see the Ramseys cleared, and you're not going to see the Ramseys arrested or indicted. The prosecutors and the police would say, 'We need to do this. There are unanswered questions.' They would say that there have been new developments since June of '98 at the Ramseys' public statements, at their book, at their statements that they want to clarify, at their points they want to follow up on, at their ambiguities out there. But, in the end, I don't think we're going to see some sort of determinative result as a result of these interviews.
RIVERA: Bob, I think you agree.
GRANT: I do. Dan said it well.
RIVERA: You don't think there's going to be big news?
GRANT: Well, you know...
RIVERA: But let me ask you this. Let me ask you this. Are the Ramseys in a position, assuming innocence, to give any useful information?
GRANT: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. In the last two years, this investigation has gone in so many, so many directions, filled so many volumes of--of police reports and analysis, and there are a lot of things that the police and the prosecutors want to discuss with them. I don't...
RIVERA: Like--like what, Bob?
RIVERA: Will they ask about the book, for example?
Mr. GRANT: Well, I--I'm sure they will. They'll ask about some of the things that were said in the book. They'll ask about some of the things that they learned from other people and--and seek clarification on--on what the Ramseys' take is on all of the information that they have. It's going to be an eventful series of interviews. I don't see it culminating in--in any earth-shaking news. I see it culminating in assisting the investigation to come to a successful conclusion.
RIVERA: What do you think about what Lin--how Lin characterizes the availability--the universal, consistent availability of the Ramseys?
GRANT: Well, you know, look, I'm--I'm not here to--to nitpick who said who to what when. I--I think it is a--it is a fine idea that the Ramseys are now available to talk with the investigators, and I'm not going to do anything to undermine that by saying, 'Well, you didn't do this, that and th'--that's TV stuff. That's not real investigation stuff.
RIVERA: OK. Dan Abrams, what's on the agenda, as far as you know, from the other side, from the authorities' side?
ABRAMS: Well, look, I mean, Michael Kane is going to be present. He was the l--the DA who was running the grand jury investigation. This is the guy who knows this case as well as anyone. I know that Lin believes that Michael Kane believes that Patsy Ramsey was responsible, and that--that he is not necessarily an objective observer here. And I don't--I don't think Michael Kane, if someone asked him who knows him well, would say he's some sort of objective observer. I don't know, at this point, how he could be because he's been so involved in this case for so long. I'm not sure which way he would necessarily come out because I haven't had that conversation with him. But he, I would guess, is going to be leading a lot of the questioning. I think you'll also see some of the detectives. You're going to see four--three detectives from the Boulder Police Department, you're going to see the police chief, and you're going to see the three special prosecutors who had worked on this case and worked in front of the grand jury.
WOOD: Seven--seven to one. I call it the interrogation squad.
ABRAMS: And--well, you--well, wait--but that's not fair. I mean...
WOOD: Oh, no, it is--it is--it is fair.
ABRAMS: Well, Lin, you're going to--you're going to--you're going to have an inves...
WOOD: And--and I'm not--and I'm not complaining. We--we clearly agreed to have those seven individuals come down. I even asked Chief Beckner if he wanted to bring more. We agreed to every request made by Chief Beckner. He said, 'Let me have my team there.' I said, 'How many people are on your team.' He said, 'Seven.' I said, 'It sounds like a firing squad.' I went to John and Patsy, I said, 'Do you want to face seven people.' They said, 'Sure. If it'll help move this investigation, if it'll help get answers out to questions that need to be answered, we'll do it, whatever it takes.'
RIVERA: I've got to take a commercial. The Mountain Goes To Muhammed Continues. Stay tuned.
JOHN RAMSEY: (On telephone, courtesy of WXIA) My belief is that this killer probably has killed before and will act again. So to know that it happened within two miles of the house, potentially, within nine months of JonBenet Ramsey's murder was--was shocking. As I say, on--on the one hand, it's tragic that it had to happen, but it--to me, it's encouraging that what we believed would happen, we have a record of it and--and some knowledge and some more information that can be put into the piece of the puzzle.
RIVERA: Comment, Bob Grant, on this alternative suspect?
GRANT: Well, alternative suspects are the lifeblood of defense attorneys, but that is not to say, and I certainly don't mean to be heard to say that--that that incident of the 14-year-old who was attacked, has not been and will not be thoroughly investigated. The investigation goes on, forensically and--and in other ways.
RIVERA: Lin, what about the alternate suspect? Is it...
RIVERA: Is it stuff--is it a spin of a defense attorney?
Mr. WOOD: No.
RIVERA: Or is it...
Mr. WOOD: Not at all. It's a...
RIVERA: ...a real deal?
WOOD: It's--it's actually a--an event that was disclosed by a journalist in the Dallas Morning News--Charlie Brennan.
RIVERA: Charlie Brennan.
WOOD: It's very significant and it's very encouraging to hear Bob talk about the fact that the investigation of that incident, and whether it--it could relate to JonBenet's death is ongoing. Look, if the incidents are related, the--the significance speaks for itself. And you have here, though, without any doubt, a situation where, as what occurred to JonBenet--someone comes into the home, secrets himself for hours, then after the parents go to sleep--in this incident, a single parent--attacks the minor child. That was interrupted, the second incident, and the intruder got away, but it's exactly what happened with respect to JonBenet. And it was two miles from her home in Boulder, Colorado, nine months after her brutal murder, and it involved two girls that both went to the same dance school.
WOOD: Very significant.
RIVERA: Comment, Dan?
ABRAMS: Well, there's no question that Lin is absolutely right if there was an intruder in this case. I--if the police even believe there's some evidence to indicate that there was an intruder, there's no question that Lin's right. But if you don't believe there was an intruder, it's totally irrelevant. So it really depends on how you view this case, because if you don't believe there was an intruder, this is a nice theory that has nothing to do with this case.
ABRAMS: If you do believe that there's a real possibility or even...
ABRAMS: ...something of a possibility of an intruder, it's very important.
WOOD: But, Dan, listen to what you're saying. You're saying, 'OK, let's develop a theory'
ABRAMS: But, Lin--no.
WOOD: 'and then let's see if the facts fit it.'
ABRAMS: No. No, Lin, that's not what...
WOOD: That's not the way a good investigation is run.
ABRAMS: No, Lin. What I--what I'm saying is that this investigation has been going on for three and a half years, and to suggest that they don't already have a theory as to what happened, based on all of the investigation they've already done, is--is simply either disingenuous or unrealistic.
WOOD: They should have more than one theory. Listen, they should have theories that are developed by the evidence. And you know, Dan, very well there's a--a lot of objective physical evidence in this case that does, in fact, support an intruder in that home that killed this child. But
ABRAMS: And, again, that just depends on how you look at the case. I'm not saying one
ABRAMS: I'm just saying the reality is some people look at this case, Lin, as you know, and they say, 'There's no legitimate evidence that there was an intruder.' Those people would say that this has no relevance to this case.
WOOD: Dan, you met at length with--with Lou Smit, and I know you have a great respect for Lou--32 years as a..
WOOD: ...homicide investigator, a legend out in Colorado, 200-plus murder investigations.
ABRAMS: And a very convincing guy...
WOOD: Lou Smit says unequivocally that...
WOOD: there is evidence of an intruder
ABRAMS: Well, he
WOOD:and that John and Patsy Ramsey are innocent.
RIVERA: OK, this is what's interesting to me, Dan. It seems to me that there's plenty of potential for real resentment and invective and confrontation in this meeting. I mean, you know, just in what you're saying, if the--if the theory has been developed, and these cops are sitting down with people that they--they believe in their hearts did this terrible crime, and the--and the people who feel themselves innocent, supposedly, feel, you know, victimized by these same people, isn't that going to turn into, 'How dare you say that to my wife?' Or, 'Come on, Patsy. Why don't you come clean?'
ABRAMS: I--I think the Ramseys are a little too savvy for that. I think the Ramseys know what they're in for. I think they're--I think that they're ready to take any questions. I don't think you're going to see John or Patsy Ramsey starting to yell or scream at anybody inside that investigation. But I will tell you, in s--not interrogation--but I--but I will tell you that there
WOOD: That's OK. It's an interrogation.
ABRAMS: there--yeah, in--yeah. But I think
WOOD: We know that.
ABRAMS: Yeah. I think that the one thing that is disturbing about this revelation about this
RIVERA: Quick, quick, quick.
ABRAMS: other case is that the prosecutors didn't know about it.
RIVERA: Me, too. That pissed me off, too.
WOOD: That is disturbing.
RIVERA: That--that pissed me off, too, that they cops didn't tell--hey, thanks, Lin.
WOOD: Maybe we can do it again.
RIVERA: See ya. OK. Hope so.