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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Police, Father Thank Media, Public for Help

Aired February 6, 2004 - 14:58   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: More on the abduction and murder of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia. To Sarasota, Florida now. The sheriff speaking.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SHERIFF BILL BALKWILL, SARASOTA CO. SHERIFF'S DEPT.: ... evidence has helped us in getting this investigation underway, helped us get the AMBER alert out, it's helped us identify our suspect Joseph P. Smith. These people are true heroes in my eyes.

I want to make it also very clear that Joseph Smith is not employed at Nieve's (ph) Car Wash whatsoever, whatsoever. There's no connection there at all.

At this time, I'd like to bring up with me Detective Investigator Chris Hallasey. He is the lead investigator in this particular case who has brought charges to Joseph P. Smith for first degree murder and kidnapping along with the additional charges that we have charged him with a few days ago.

I urge everybody -- this investigation is not over with. We are working very diligently with our state attorney's office, Earl Moreland, who we are cooperating with. He is involved in this investigation fully. he has his team with out team. Out team is still together, and we're continuing to follow up any investigative leads that we have.

And I will tell you and reassure you there have been no deals made in this case. None whatsoever.

Once again, my heart, my prayers go out to Carlie's family. And there will be many prayer vigils that I hope that many of the community will be involved in.

We're still looking for some key pieces of evidence. Those key pieces are still a pink knapsack that we are still looking for. If you can find that backpack for us, do not touch it. Call the sheriff's office. We will come and retrieve that. Do not touch it. We will come and retrieve it.

And once again, I can't thank you, the media, for all the work patience that you've had with us throughout this investigation. You've been tremendous to us. And we appreciate your support. The family appreciates your support in bringing this case to a conclusion.

At this time, Joseph, Joe, would like to make a statement.

Come on up, Joe.

JOEY BRUCIA, FATHER OF CARLIE: Hi.

I just want to reiterate on what I said this morning about all the men standing here behind me. They treated this case like it was their own daughter involved in it. And they've all been fantastic. I can't -- I don't have the words to say what these guys have done.

And, as far as my daughter, I didn't see her often. I only saw her twice a year, two weeks at a clip. But now she can see me always. She's in a better place. She got there in a horrific manner. But now she's watching me all the time. So, there's only one thing I can do. And that's try to make her proud of me and be a better man.

And, as far as this individual being out on the street, I really find the decisions made by some of these judges very questionable. And I would ask the governor to look into this. In my opinion, he should have never been out on the street. And all you in the media, if you could help put pressure in this endeavor to try and make sure this doesn't happen to another child, it would be greatly appreciated by parents all over the world.

Thank you.

COL. TERRY LEWIS, SARASOTA COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: Good afternoon.

You all know Sergeant Lacitato (ph) by now. Chuck (ph) will be the person who's got copies of the probable cause affidavits. And we've got about 75 which will be handed out to the media. I'll tell you right now, we are not going to answer anything specific that's not contained in the PCAs. Don't ask us about it, because we're not going to tell. The sheriff has been adamant all week that the investigation was driven by our investigators.

Now, the matter is being driven by the state's attorney's office to bring it to successful conclusion in court. So, we will not be granting personal interviews past this briefing. As a matter for your planning and scheduling, our suspect has waived first appearance tomorrow. So if you were planning on seeing something at first appearance, he won't be there, all right? That's as of last half-hour ago.

The hot lines. We've had a lot of calls about the hot lines. Immediately after this briefing, the hot lines will be shut down. The calls have trickled down to nothing, other than some congratulatory calls, condolences to the families and thanks for a job well done. So that will be shut down immediately after that.

I mention there will be no interviews. This is...

PHILLIPS: Hearing a bit of the details about the case now. But, wow, talk about some powerful comments there, first from the sheriff, Bill Balkwill, there in Sarasota with a quivering voice, coming forward and telling reporters that his thoughts and prayers still going out to the Brucia family, that in no way were any deals made in this case with the suspect, Joseph Smith, also, the charges brought forth, first-degree murder and kidnapping.

He says the investigation is far from over. Then, some powerful comments from Joey Brucia, the father of Carlie Brucia, thanking authorities, first of all, for all the help, but then also making the point that he only had the chance to see his daughter about twice a year, and now that she will be seeing him always, watching him all the time in a better place now. And all he can do is try and be a better man as she watches over him. Pretty powerful stuff.

Mike Brooks here. He's been following the investigation, of course.

Why don't we talk about the charges and then maybe get into a little bit more of the emotion on the part of a lot of these people?

MIKE BROOKS, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes, absolutely.

Well, right now, they said first-degree murder and kidnapping is what he's going to be charged with. So, we're talking about first- degree murder. In the state of Florida, I do believe that means premeditated. So, again, it's not something that we had talked about. Law enforcement had said early on that they believe that he did plan this.

So, with the charge of first-degree murder and the kidnapping, Kyra, it looks as if they believe and they have enough evidence now to go ahead with these charges.

PHILLIPS: Dad also making the point, very strong point, about, this man should never have been on the street, he believes. Can we talk about that, just with this background and some of the things that had happened prior to this? Should he have been on the streets? Should he have been a free man?

BROOKS: You know, Kyra, I was in law enforcement for 26 years. And I was speaking to a friend of mine today who is over a 20-year veteran with the New York City Police Department. And we were talking about this same kind of thing.

But the criminal justice system, yes, he was arrested in 1997 for kidnapping and false imprisonment, but he was acquitted of that. Back in 1993, when he started out his criminal career, if you will, it was for battery. Then there's a couple other drug charges in between. He did some time. He got out. There's state sentencing guidelines. There's federal sentencing guidelines when you're charged with a federal crime.

He did some time. Exactly what relationship he had with the -- her family, with Carlie's family, if any at all, we don't know. But you go back and you look at the criminal justice system, it's very hard. And I know for law enforcement people, and we heard this from Carlie's father, it's very, very frustrating, to say the least. PHILLIPS: Finally, the sheriff saying they're still looking for Carlie's pink knapsack and, if anyone comes across it, don't touch it, leave it alone, just contact them. What could be the significance of that?

BROOKS: Well, we don't know. Apparently, it was not found there at the place where they found Carlie's body. So, did he stop somewhere else? Was there any more crimes? Was something else committed against her somewhere else? Did he throw this out?

That's what they want to find out. It could be -- kind of give them a timeline and kind of give them a point-to-point, trace the steps of where he actually took her after he abducted her. But we don't know. And the sheriff said, the investigation is far from over. They're looking. They're looking for other key pieces of evidence. But he did say they were shutting down the hot line, because the calls were just starting to trickle in, just more congratulatory calls.

But, again, if anyone sees this, don't touch it, as the sheriff said. Call 911. They'll be out there to get it, because, again, that could be a key piece, a key link in this case and help law enforcement build a case against Joseph Smith.

PHILLIPS: All right, Mike Brooks, thank you.

BROOKS: Thank you, Kyra.

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