[Transcript provided courtesy "LizzieB" poster at Justice Watch forum]
Guests: Dan Abrams, Craig Silverman, Larry Pozner, Dr. Cyril Wecht
I missed Geraldo's introduction. I think I only missed a few seconds. I'm sure there are typos. . .
Video of Steve Thomas from 04/17/00: Lou Smit is a guy I respect, I have a great deal of admiration for, that I still consider a friend. I take nothing away from Lou. But on the other hand, this isn't just me standing up and spouting off that I think Patsy Ramsey was involved in this. And quite frankly, Lou Smit is the lone voice in this. The police department, the district attorney's office, finally, those that were brought in, other law enforcement, federal law enforcement that advised us on this case, are all consistent in their opinion on this.
Geraldo: One year after former Boulder detective Steve Thomas made those remarks on this program, the rocky landscape of the JonBenet Ramsey murder case has changed. Now, for the first time, Lou Smit is not the only investigator connected to the case suggesting that John and Patsy are innocent.
He's been joined by a Boulder County sheriff's detective and a former local prosecutor. But it's Mr. Smit and the photos he refused to return to the DA's office that are making the big splash today. Pictures that until today, even John and Patsy, the only two people under that umbrella of suspicion, had never seen before.
Hi everybody, I'm Geraldo Rivera. In thirty-three years as a homicide detective, Lou Smit worked on more than two hundred cases. None, of course, even came close to the notoriety gained by the horrific slaying of the innocent young girl back on Christmas night, 1996. Three months after the vicious murder of JonBenet Ramsey, Smit was called out of retirement to help out with the high profile investigation. Today in an exclusive interview with NBC's Katie Couric, he began laying out his theories about the killing, and his evidence.
Airing of segment one of the Today Show interview of Smit by Katie Couric. The transcript is here: http://www.msnbc.com/news/566459.asp
Geraldo: All right, here's what we have so far. We have Smit saying the notion of no footprints in the snow is really a canard because the sun was shining in the part of the yard that is relevant to the discussion.
The snow had melted there anyway. A basement window open and crawlable, as he demonstrated very vividly. Spider webs disturbed in that basement window. A suitcase there that could have been used as a step. We'll hear more of Katie's report, and there will be multiple episodes as the Today program gets deeper into this case with Lou Smit. But those are the four items that I picked up from that first segment.
This afternoon we asked Ramsey attorney Lin Wood for his reaction. He told us in part, "Detectives Smit and Ainsworth are credible and the evidene supporting their view of the case is powerful . . . I believe that after all the evidence has been fully disclosed this week on NBC, members of the public will join with the Ramseys in urging that this investigation be transferred to a new team of experienced, objective homicide investigators. The inexperienced and biased Boulder Police Department is incapable of solving this crime."
Dan Abrams, are you impressed?
Abrams: You know, look, Lou Smit presents a persuasive argument as to why the Ramseys didn't do it. He's made this presentation for me. I sat at his home for about two hours as he went through on his computer point by point, picture by picture, why he was convinced that the Ramseys didn't do it. And if that's all you know about this case, then there's no question you walk away from it convinced the Ramseys didn't do it. But then when you talk to Steve Thomas, who is the former detective on the case whom you showed a clip from before, you know, then you start to have questions and you start to say, "Well, boy, now I see why this case is so difficult." Because really, you really can make two very persuasive arguments, one on each side, and Lou Smit, no question, makes a persuasive one.
Geraldo: Okay. Well I think even that, though, Dan, is news, that there is a persuasive argument on the Ramseys' side. Certainly on this program and in this reporter's head and heart there hasn't been a persuasive argument on the Ramseys' side. Have we overlooked this material, Dan?
Abrams: I don't think so, Geraldo. Look, I think we've reported every single aspect of Lou Smit's theory.
Geraldo: I agree with you.
Abrams: What we haven't done, though, is we haven't been able to use Lou Smit's voice with Lou Smit's pictures to back up that case. And look, you know, when a detective is looking at the case, they're going to look at pictures. They're going to want to hear from witnesses. And that's what the public wants. They want to hear from Lou Smit. They want to see the pictures. They want to hear from Ainsworth. They want to hear from Trip DeMuth. All the people, those three, are the key three people who believe the Ramseys didn't do it. And these are not three wackos.
Geraldo: Is it still three against thirty?
Abrams: It is still three against a majority. There's no question that if you take the Boulder DA's office, if you take the Boulder police department, even throw the sheriff's department in there as sort of a wild card, there's no question that you'll have more people who will say they believe that the Ramseys did it. But I think that you'll have a lot less people saying they're 100% convinced, the way we've heard Steve Thomas say it. I think you'll hear people say, "Well, it looks like they did it. Well, the evidence sure seems like they did it." But you listen to DeMuth, and you listen to Smit, and you listen to Ainsworth, and in particular, Smit, and they are convinced that the Ramseys didn't do it and they've gotten a raw deal.
Geraldo: If they have, then there must have been an intruder. An intruder who would have found in this beautiful little victim a pedophile's dream come true. That's our title, our focus, back in a flash. We'll introduce our terrific panel right after this.
Clip of Alex Hunter from April 6, 2000: We had one detective throw his badge down because he thought the investigation was too directed at the Ramseys, and another one throw his badge down for the opposite reason, which makes me feel, maybe that suggests we're going down the middle, which is our job. I used to say to Lou, "Stay neutral, Lou, because otherwise you can't put your heart into what you're looking at at any given time."
Geraldo: Alex Hunter, the now retired district attorney, former district attorney in Boulder, Colorado, suggesting that Lou Smit maybe is a partisan, inadvertently perhaps, but someone who may have put too much of his heart to one conclusion in the same way he criticizes those who condemn or accuse the Ramseys on the other hand of the equation. All right, let's go now to a continuation of Katie Couric's report with Lou Smit, the retired detective who believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Ramseys are innocent.
Airing of segment two of the Today Show interview of Smit by Katie Couric. The transcript is here: http://www.msnbc.com/news/566460.asp
Geraldo: Okay, keeping track just of the allegations that Smit's makes that provide exculpatory evidence, evidence tending to show the innocence of the Ramseys. No urine stain on her bed, thereby debunking the theory that Patsy flew into a rage when she wet the bed. No past behavior. I'm sure one of our guests, at least, will contradict that. And no motive.
Let me formally introduce the rest of my panel. Joining Dan Abrams and I, in Denver, that city's former chief deputy district attorney, Craig Silverman, now a crack civil and criminal trial lawyer. Another fierce and effective criminal defense attorney, Larry Pozner, joins us. He formerly headed the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. In Pittsburgh, the powerful forensic pathologist, Dr. Cyril Wecht, famed medical examiner, author of the book, "Who killed JonBenet Ramsey?" And in New York City, of course, my colleague, Dan Abrams, NBC's top legal correspondent. Dr. Wecht? Do we have time for a question? Okay, take a break and then I'm going to ask them about all this stuff right after this. Stay tuned. A pedophile's dream come true. An obsessed male predator.
Video clip of Patsy Ramsey from May 24, 2000: I really wish we would stop playing games and I wish they would open their eyes and their minds and their hearts and know that we did not kill our daughter and that a killer walks the streets of this country and we need to be looking for that person.
Geraldo: Dr. Cyril Wecht, is she telling the truth? What's the weakest part of Smit's presentation?
Wecht: Well, let me start off, Geraldo, by saying I heartily endorse any effort to bring in new, independent detectives. I'd love to see a full-scale investigation. At the same time, it has to be pointed out, in fairness to many other people who are not on the program, that this investigation, from the standpoint of the district attorney Alex Hunter, did involve quite a few outstanding experts in the fields of criminalists, forensic pathology, and related forensic sciences. So Mr. Smit is entitled to his opinion, and certainly his expertise, but I would point out that some of the forensic pathologists and criminalist Dr. Henry Lee have seen thousands of homicide cases, not just a couple of hundred.
Let me point out a couple of things. I've never been one, as you know, Geraldo, to endorse the enuresis-provoked rage killing, but at the same time, just to point out an error on Mr. Smit's part, look at page two of the autopsy report and it refers to urine-stained underwear. So there was urine there. Whether it was on the sheets or not, I do not know, but I don't want to belabor that because I don't think that anybody in their sane mind - and I would agree with Mr. Smit - there's nothing to indicate that Patsy or John Ramsey had that kind of a temper that I know of , and I don't believe they did anything of a deliberate nature. I will stick with the premise I have advanced many, many times before. This was an accidental killing. It took place in the house.
Geraldo: Perpetrated by the parents.
Wecht: Yeah. And by the way, with regard to the pedophile, what about the ransom note? What about the whole scenario, the rope, and we have this pedophile, then, coming through this window - and we could talk more about that later, including the spider web and the report of the forensic entomologist, how long does it take to weave a web, etc. - but let's talk about the pedophile. He comes in with a little valise. He's got a taser, a stungun, he's got just a little piece of tape, he's got a little piece of rope, he's really well-prepared. I mean, he's going to do it all. But you know something? The great axiom of all criminal investigation is that someone leaves a trace of himself, and we don't really have that here.
We're going to talk later on about his so-called shoe print, somebody stepping on a suitcase, a suitcase that shows no evidence of being smooshed, etc., etc. So we can go through all these things. You still have the death, you still have the injuries, minor as they are, in the vaginal and vulvar area, you've still got the rope around the neck, you still have the crushing blow to the head. How do you fit this all in, then, with this pedophile? What kind of a game is this?
Geraldo: Okay. Larry, you're going to make the opening argument at the bottom of the hour, followed by Craig Silverman in rebuttal. This should be interesting, these are two skilled litigators. We'll let them litigate in a minute, after this break.
Video clip of John Ramsey from 05/24/00: You need to realize that 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.
Geraldo: Craig Silverman and Larry Pozner, I understand that usually in a trial, the prosecution goes first, but this is the court of public opinion. The Ramseys have lost in the court of original jurisdiction, this is up on appeal, Larry, so you go first. You're the appellant. You make your opening statement.
Pozner: This was a twisted crime. It was perpetrated by a twisted mind, and that isn't John and Patsy Ramsey. We have a very sick person, a person who wanted to break into that house, who came equipped to do damage, to do violence to this child, and they did. No criminal can get away with all the clues. They always leave behind pieces of themselves. Yet after thousands of hours and millions of dollars, those pieces don't point to the Ramseys, they point away. When we find the person who left his or her DNA under JonBenet's fingernails and in JonBenet's underwear we will have found our murderer, and it won't be a Ramsey.
Silverman: Larry says that they came well-equipped. Not really. In fact, the pieces that he talks about reminds me that it was a piece of Patsy's art brush, taken out of her art kit in the basement, which was used to make the garrote, so how well-prepared was this person who used Patsy Ramsey's pad to write the ransom note, who used the Sharpie pen and then put it back in Patsy's tray? This is not a well-equipped killer. There are so many things that point to the Ramseys, and this propaganda piece that was aired on the Today Show this morning, it's well-packaged, it was put together at the price of purloined photographs that Lou Smit brought. He says that the photographs of the bedding demonstrate no bed-wetting, yet we know that Linda Hoffman-Pugh, the housekeeper, said that the very sheets that she put on the bed that day were found in the dryer. There was plenty of time for the person who committed this crime not only to write the ransom note, but to clean up the bedding and otherwise cover their tracks. Beyond that, recently there's been a huge development. They said that Burke Ramsey was asleep during the entirety of this incident, yet we found out through a 911 tape that Burke could be heard and the Ramseys, once they had the evidence - and believe me, Lou Smit has shared the evidence with the Ramseys - the Ramseys went to the National Enquirer, of all places, to get on record the fact that they were mistaken and, oh, they just forgot that Burke was up. Now I ask you, would you mislead the authorities about any aspect of the situation if it was your precious daughter who was killed? I think not. I think that the Ramseys have misled the public. I think that this piece that's been broadcast on this show and again this morning is an effort in misleading the public and I hope it doesn't work on you or the public at large, Geraldo.
Pozner: You know every time somebody in this case says the evidence points away from the Ramseys, they're discarded, they're fired. Trip DeMuth was an experienced and respected Boulder prosecutor. He came to the conclusion that we're heading in the wrong direction. Lou Smit did more murder cases in one year than the entire Boulder police department has done forever. What happened when Lou Smit said we're going in the wrong direction? Let's get rid of Lou. Time after time the Boulder police have botched the investigation. If you want to solve this case, take it away from the cops who blew it and give it to the sheriff's department.
(Pozner and Silverman talked over each other some here.)
Silverman: Larry, let's talk about Trip DeMuth. The very first lawyer on the scene was Michael Bynum, who was a business partner of John Ramsey. He was there on December 26. He's the one who got the most politically-connect law firm, a talented law firm in Denver, involved in this case. Who does Trip DeMuth now work for? He works for Michael Bynum. Who controls that property on 15th St. that Katie Couric got the nice tour of? Michael Bynum. Michael Bynum's been a spinmeister throughout. We've seen PR offensive after PR offensive, but none of it erases the essential fact . . .
Pozner: You can spin all you want, you can't hide the facts.
Silverman: Look at the ransom note. It wasn't a pedophile, a stranger, it was somebody who knew the Ramseys. That's a limited sphere of people and they all have had their handwriting tested, and the only person who could possibly have been the author of that note among that universe of people is Patsy.
Pozner: If it was Patsy's handwriting, we'd have heard it by now.
Abrams: Geraldo, I agree with Craig Silverman on one point, and that's that this is a PR offensive. There's no question this is an orchestrated effort by the defense team, the people close to the Ramseys, to get their story out.
Geraldo: Why now?
Abrams: One of the reasons "why now" is that I think that Lin Wood, the attorney for the Ramseys, has been planning this, not this particular incident, but I think they've been trying to get Lou Smit to speak out for a long time. And I can tell you it is legitimate that Lou Smit believes this. I have no question in my mind that this is not - Craig is making it seem like this is some kind of propaganda that Lou Smit doesn't even believe this stuff. Lou Smit believes this. Trip DeMuth believes this. Steve Ainsworth believes it. It doesn't mean they're right, but I don't think it's useful to sit there and say that they don't mean what they're saying. Why now? Well look, it's either that the Today Show did a great job of booking this and there's question they deserve some credit for getting the scoop on this. On the other hand, there are a number of civil suits that are out there that are going to begin soon.
Geraldo: Steve Thomas is the defendant in a big libel action.
Abrams: Steve Thomas, that's going to be the big one, I think. I think that the lawsuit against Steve Thomas if it goes to trial. You have Dan Petrocelli, the attorney for the family of Ron Goldman, representing Steve Thomas, on the one hand. You've got Lin Wood, this great attorney, representing the Ramseys on the other hand. You could see a mini-JonBenet Ramsey trial in that case when it comes to the truth of Steve Thomas' allegations.
Geraldo: Speaking of truth, I want to go back to Dr. Cyril Wecht. Dr. Wecht, you understand far more incisively than any of us that if indeed there was a prior sexual injury to that child, that would indicate that someone in that household, someone who had some supervisory custody over the child over time, was abusing that child in a sexual way. As you sit there tonight, with your vast experience as a forensic pathologist, do you state with certainty that JonBenet Ramsey, the six-year-old, was injured in her vaginal area prior to this horrible homicide.
Wecht: Geraldo, here is the autopsy report. In addition to injuries of an acute nature, albeit quite superficial, and in fact therein lies the significance. No penile penetration. No attempt to harm. This pedophile, the dream of a pedophile, and he has this beautiful little girl, but he really doesn't consummate anything. We have this minor abrasion, this minor contusion, and a little bit of blood, and then let the language speak for itself. "Chronic interstitial inflammation," which means inflammatory cells that go back at least three days, and who knows how long, in the wall of the vagina. Erosion at the seven-o'clock position of the mucosa, the inner lining, foreign-body material which I do not know the identity of but I repeat, the most ubiquitous source in the household is talcum powder. Think of a glove, think of the seven-o'clock position with the finger going in by the gynecologist with a woman, in this case a young girl, on the table.
Think of those things. And come back, then, to the rope around the neck with no injuries beneath the furrow of the epidermis. Think, then, of the crushing blow to the head, producing an eight-inch fracture and yet leading to only 7 cc, less than 2 flat teaspoonsful of blood. These things all point to hard scientific evidence. You know, I'm not interested in addressing the ad hominems of this. I will simply say that I know for a fact that many people brought in by the district attorney have dealt with these matters and I have come to learn - you will recall, Geraldo, early on I was attacked for suggesting that there had been sexual abuse. - I have learned that indeed their own experts, that include teams of experts, have all indeed come to that conclusion. And then, back to the pedophile . . .
Geraldo: Hold that thought. Larry Pozner, a response?
Pozner: You know, he's been thoroughly discredited on this. This is the same doctor who came on your show four years ago and assured us that there was semen found on JonBenet Ramsey. Which was completely false.
Wecht: I never said there was semen!
Pozner: He has blinders on, and nobody believes his theory. Let's look at the facts. Why would a child who is so well-connected to adults, who reaches out to adults on a daily basis, be abused and hide it? There was no evidence of abuse. They shook this family up and down, Geraldo. Every neighbor, every friend, every enemy, and no one has a bad word to say about the relationship between this family and their child. Yet now we're supposed to believe that one night they decided to take a stun gun to their child and kill her? It is absurd. They couldn't sell it to a grand jury, they can't sell it to America.
Wecht: There's no evidence of a stun gun here, and do not put words in my mouth retroactively, Mr. Pozner. I never once said that there was semen, because I never once saw that in any report. And I find no evidence of a stun gun, nor do the forensic pathologists that were consulted by the district attorney, nor does the coroner who did the autopsy, nor do other forensic pathologists who sat in on a presentation by Mr. Smit in a private hotel room, one of the outstanding forensic pathologists in the country. Nobody else has bought that. And don't talk about the . . .
Wecht and Pozner talked over each other at this point.
Pozner: You keep talking about all these eminent people. All the eminent people have looked at this case and they've said, "We can't get to first base." If you can't make probable cause because it isn't there.
Wecht: That's not an accurate statement.
Geraldo: Okay, this is going to be the final word, Craig.
Silverman: Every eminent person who has looked at the case has concluded it was a staged scene. We don't really need those experts to know that. We know the ransom note was a phony. This was not a kidnap for ransom.
Geraldo interrupted at this point, and said that Katie Couric was doing a series of interviews of Smit that would be shown on the Today Show the rest of the week. He said that if it future segments are newsworthy, he will revisit this case on future shows, emphasizing the exculpatory evidence being presented.