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Father of Murdered School Girl Arrested; Murder Mystery Near L.A.

Aired May 10, 2005 - 20:00:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight, breaking news out of Illinois. There is an arrest in the murders of two schoolgirls, best friends, ages 8 and 9. The two girls found in a nearby park, their bikes nearby, stabbed multiple times. The arrested, the father of the 8-year-old girl.
And tonight, a murder mystery near L.A. Six people found murdered, three of them children. The bodies found today in a family`s ranch home southeast of L.A. And tonight, police and neighbors are wondering why.

Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. Thank you for being with us tonight.

Breaking news tonight. Six people found early this morning murdered in a southern California home after a call to 911. And the Santa Maria courthouse braces itself for star power. Extra parking and security for defense witness Macaulay Culkin set to take the stand for the Michael Jackson defense.

But first, heartbreaking news. The father of one of the two little girls found dead in an Illinois park tonight charged with two counts of murder. The young girls, Laura Hobbs and Krystal Tobias, were not only stabbed but beaten to death as well. To top it all off, the girl`s father, Jerry Hobbs, was just released from prison one month ago.

Tonight in New York, defense attorney Dino Lombardi; in West Palm Beach, Florida, defense attorney Michelle Suskauer; in New York, psychotherapist Lauren Howard.

We will shortly be joined by CNN correspondent Jonathan Freed and the Lake County district attorney Mike Waller. But as we wait for them, take a listen to this.


MICHAEL WALLER, LAKE COUNTY STATE`S ATTORNEY: Today, we are filing two counts of first-degree murder against Jerry Branton Hobbs III of Zion. He is charged in the murders of Laura Hobbs, his daughter, age 8, Krystal Tobias, age 9, who was Laura`s best friend.

He`s charged with the stabbing and beating death of both girls which occurred on Mother`s Day. This horrific crime has terrorized and traumatized the Zion community, and I think it`s safe to say people of goodwill everywhere. The arrest today is a first step in the process of bringing this defendant to justice. As you may be aware, this defendant is eligible for the death penalty.


GRACE: Let me ask Elizabeth. Could you show the picture of these two little girls, please?

Their bodies found in a nearby park, Beulah Park, about 45 miles from Chicago. The two were known to have -- both ridden on one bike. And are there any of us that didn`t do that as little kids? Hop on somebody`s banana seat and take off. You feel like you`re on a magic carpet.

These two little girls found in the park stabbed and beaten to death. Tonight, the 8-year-old`s father behind bars.

And let me put it to you, defense attorney Michelle Suskauer, as we wait for the district attorney to join us. I`ve got in my hand -- Dusty, could you take a look at this -- this guy`s rap sheet.

Dusty, if you will take a look here. Let me show my viewers. All these circles I have got here are charges. We have got aggravated assault with a weapon, driving license suspended, possession of marijuana, failure to identify fugitive from justice, assault and bodily injury.

Oh, you know, Michelle, that was page one. Hold on just a moment. Another license suspended, resisting arrest...



GRACE: Ag assault -- no, let me just finish.


GRACE: Aggravated assault and aggravated assault. OK. You know what? Just give me your spin tonight, first of all.

SUSKAUER: OK, so he has a prior record. That means ultimately he is guilty, he doesn`t get the benefit of the doubt and he`s not presumed innocent, right? Just because he has a prior record and he just got out of prison.

So right away, we, you know, this town, again, the lot of the details are going to be released tomorrow. I believe it is at the hearing but -- so we don`t know what is connecting him to the crime.

GRACE: OK, OK, OK. Michelle, thanks.

SUSKAUER: But just because he has a record does not mean that ultimately we jump on the bandwagon and that`s it.

GRACE: OK, I know this. I know in order for the police to have made an arrest in this case, they had to have probable cause to make an arrest.

Dino Lombardi, you know it`s true. And listen, if these girls had multiple stab wounds, you know the police went in and did a search of that house. They had to come up with some clothes, an article, a sock, a shoe, a belt, something with DNA on it, because right after they did the search, they come back with an arrest warrant, Dino.

DINO LOMBARDI, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right. I think it`s reasonable to assume that there was some kind of physical evidence from the home that linked him. Also, I think the circumstances of the fact that he was the one that found the bodies kind of points to the finger towards him.

But I would express what Michelle was saying a slightly different way, somewhat less as a defense lawyer and simply, I think most people would look at say, "Even a man with a terrible history of violence directed at others, how does he bring himself to commit that type of atrocity upon his own child, upon his own flesh and blood?"

If there isn`t a prior indication of that type of behavior, child abuse...


GRACE: Well, I`m sorry. All of these are ag assaults with weapons. If you can`t make that connection...

LOMBARDI: No, you`re right, Nancy. Really a violent guy.

GRACE: ... maybe one of us needs to go back to law school, all right? Aggravated assault with weapon, aggravated assault. What do you think this is? It`s a textbook case of felony murder. Ag assault, murder.

LOMBARDI: Right, I think a lot of focus is going to come down in the early stages for the defense on what really happened today in that police precinct when he was speaking. If there`s evidence that he provided against himself in a statement to the police, was he in custody? Was he entitled to counsel? That will be some of the early, I think, focus for any defense here.

GRACE: Well, Dino Lombardi, you and Michelle Suskauer are very valiant in your defense efforts. Take a listen to this.


LANE HARRISON, MAYOR OF ZION, ILLINOIS: I would think it would make a tremendous difference to the community knowing that there isn`t a randomized kind of situation where someone laid in wait, if you will. More importantly, the person who committed the crimes in custody. And that should bring a great deal of comfort to our community.


GRACE: As if the discovery of the two little girls` bodies were not enough, best friends, 8- and 9-years-old. Ellie, second grade, right? Second graders, loved to ride their bikes together. This evening, obviously, traveling on one bike, the both of them.

To Lauren Howard here in the studio with me. Lauren is a psychotherapist. Lauren, the defense attorney seem to be exhibiting great shock that someone would harm one of their own children. But let`s just get real about the crime statistics that exist today.

LAUREN HOWARD, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: There`s no question that bad, violent behavior escalates, and turns into something else, gets worse. And we see that all the time with criminals. Their original crimes are one thing and they escalate. It gets worse.

The fact that he has priors with the aggravated assault, and skipped probation, and is a bad boy. I mean, he`s -- you know, this is a guy who doesn`t follow the rules. He makes up his own rules. That is not enough for them to have arrested him.

I have to believe that they have some very hard evidence. The police worked very quickly on this case. They moved fast. They did not sit on it. There was no reason to hurry up unless they had the answers.

GRACE: Well, Dino Lombardi, she is right about this. It was a very quick arrest. The little girls went missing and were found on Mother`s Day. And the reality is, it was almost immediately after that search of the house...


GRACE: ... that they made the arrest. So it`s telling me that there is physical evidence. Tomorrow is a bond hearing. It`s my understanding that this guy does not -- his name is Jerry Branton Hobbs II -- does not have a lawyer as of tonight.

If he does not enter a plea, the judge will enter a not guilty plea for him. What`s going to go down at the bond hearing? Will we hear more of the facts tomorrow, Dino?

LOMBARDI: Yes. I think the prosecution will probably lay out at least general categories and areas of evidence that they have. Did they obtain a statement from him which they deemed incriminating? Do they have physical evidence? They may refer to some of the circumstantial evidence.

I`m a little bit concerned -- and I know it was just an excerpt -- but the police official statement to encourage and calm the community that there is not some stalking killer out there. The police have to be careful to make sure that they`re not focusing too much on just calming the public and perhaps maybe not really focusing on how strong of a case they have.

GRACE: Dino? Dino? Why are you saying that? They have arrested the guy. They have to have something to arrest him. They didn`t just drag him off his moped and throw him into jail.

LOMBARDI: Something to arrest is not necessarily enough to convict. We both know that. You need probable cause to arrest, but you need proof beyond a reasonable doubt to convict. And it wouldn`t be the first time that a defense was mounted and maybe succeeded based on rush to judgment.

GRACE: Remember how long it took to make an arrest in the Scott Peterson case? They really had to do some very tough detective work.


GRACE: In this case, right after searching they searched this guy`s house, boom, arrest, telling me there`s physical evidence, be it DNA, a murder weapon, I don`t know, coming out of that house. Call me wrong. Later, if I`m wrong, I will eat a dirt sandwich.

LOMBARDI: I won`t bet against you, Nancy. But I`m a little concerned, too, about what was going on in that precinct in terms of interrogation and interviewing.

GRACE: Oh, good lord. I`m worried about what went down in Beulah Park.

But as we go to break, Elizabeth, let`s take a listen to the grandmother of this girl.


EMILY HOLLABAUGH, LAURA HOBBS` GRANDMOTHER: I have a lot of questions, but it`s just mostly rage. Whoever who could do this to two little girls. This has been a nice, quiet neighborhood. The kids all play outside. They, you know, never any problems, never any trouble. And now for something like this to happen, and on -- I don`t know. I don`t know.




WALLER: They weren`t lured to the area. This isn`t a crime committed by a stranger. This is a crime committed by the father of one girl, and he obviously knew the other girl. The murder occurred in the general vicinity of where the bodies were found.


GRACE: These two girls, best friends, ages 8 and 9. Their bodies found in an Illinois park, Beulah Park, about 45 miles from Chicago. Tonight, the 8-year-old`s dad behind bars, Jerry Hobbs. He`s got a rap sheet as long as my arm. Most recently, released from prison about a month ago on aggravated assault with a weapon.

We`re going to be joined shortly by CNN reporter Jonathan Freed. We`ve got a little satellite problem.

As we wait for him, Dino, it`s amazing to me that one guy can have so, so many violent crime arrests and be plunked right back down into the community where he came from.

LOMBARDI: Well, that`s a real good point, Nancy, because, I mean, you can`t help but look at this and say, if this guy was maybe doing the time he so richly deserved, he might not have had the opportunity.

GRACE: Dino, Dino, Dino, before I lose the satellite -- you know, technology -- let me quickly go over to CNN reporter Jonathan Freed.

Jonathan, welcome. Before I lose you on the satellite, please bring me up-to-date, stunning turn of events.

JONATHAN FREED, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you, Nancy, that you have no doubt up until this point covered the basics of what`s happened including the turn today of Jerry Hobbs, the father of one of the two victims, being arrested and awaiting his bond hearing tomorrow morning.

I can tell you that I`m standing here in Zion at Central Junior High School where about 500 people were here just about an hour ago listening to the police department and counselors from the school talk about how everybody here can try to deal with the grief and giving them some basic information.

GRACE: Wait, wait, wait. Jonathan, Jonathan, I understand the dealing with grief. I want to hear about this murder investigation, Jonathan. Anything you can tell me?

First of all, when was Hobbs arrested? And do we have any idea -- I`m not going to ask the district attorney standing there, Mike Waller. I know he can`t comment on the specific evidence.

Jonathan Freed, what led to the arrest? When did the arrest go down? Has there been a confession? And were items taken out of Hobbs` home?

FREED: Has there been a confession? We don`t know. Those details have not been forthcoming yet. Perhaps the gentleman standing to my left might be able to elaborate on that at one point.

When Jerry Hobbs was taken into custody, we understand that that was only done earlier today. I specifically asked whether or not he was in custody since yesterday. There was some question about that. And the answer was, "No, only as of today."

GRACE: Let me go to Lake County state`s attorney -- he`s the district attorney, as many of you call it -- Mr. Waller, Mike Waller, thank you for being with us, sir. Has there been a statement by the defendant? Did he cooperate with police?

WALLER: Well, Nancy, as I explained at the news conference today, under Illinois law, I`m really precluded from talking about the substance of the evidence until there`s a court appearance. What will happen tomorrow is there will be a bond hearing in the morning and we`ll detail the evidence against Hobbs. And at that point, we`ll be able to talk about it, so I really can`t answer that question now. I wish I could.

GRACE: I understand. I understand. There`s no way I would want you to jeopardize the case, Mike Waller. We have heard reports tonight that the two little girls were not only stabbed but beaten, as well. Is that true?

WALLER: That`s correct. They were stabbed repeatedly and viciously beaten. It was a horrific crime scene.

GRACE: Mr. Waller, were items taken from Hobbs` home?

WALLER: Yes. Yes, I can answer that question. We have evidence, and it`s being analyzed at the crime lab.

You know, at this point, obviously, we don`t have any results yet, but a thorough investigation was done. Fortunately in Lake County, we have a county-wide task force that investigate homicides. And a community like Zion rarely has a homicide, so we`re fortunate to have investigators and evidence technicians from all over the county combine their talents and investigate a case like this and did an excellent job. They brought this defendant who committed this horrible crime to justice very quickly.

GRACE: Mr. Waller, do you believe Hobbs went to the park specifically looking for these girls?

WALLER: Well, he went definitely looking for his daughter. He wanted her to come home. We really are just speculating, if we try to figure out the exact purpose why he went there, although perhaps his actions speak for his intention.

GRACE: You know, I know you can`t comment on the evidence. I`m going to ask Jonathan Freed.

Jonathan, I have heard so many reports tonight that somehow there was a money motive. How can there be a money motive with an 8-year-old girl, for Pete`s sake?

FREED: Well, Nancy, that`s something that nobody is commenting on officially at this point. So I wish I could elaborate on that, but there are no facts or official statements that I can point to about that.

WALLER: You know, maybe I could just try to clarify that, because there might be some misunderstanding. There had been a disagreement with the little girl and her mother which, you know, having kids of my own, I would characterize as being relatively minor. It did involve money, though it really wasn`t a money motive, per se.

I mean, you`re dealing with an 8-year-old girl and her 9-year-old friend. You know, there was a dispute between an 8-year-old and her mother, which is probably not that uncommon in most families, and you know, is resolved relatively easily in most situations. But there really is no money motive, per se.

GRACE: I`m so glad you cleared that up. Ever since I heard it, I`ve been wracking my brains about how an 8-year-old and a 9-year-old could be dead over money. Go ahead.

WALLER: These little girls were out riding their bikes and were viciously murdered. The responsibility is, obviously, placed upon this defendant, Hobbs.

GRACE: Mr. Waller, I`m just stunned, as a former prosecutor, that this guy was just released a month ago on an ag assault. I`m just stunned. I have got his rap sheet here. And you can knock me over with a feather tonight.

WALLER: Well, you know, he just recently came to Illinois a month ago. I don`t know that he had ever been here before he was released from the department of corrections in Texas before that. And yes, you`re right. I mean, we deal with these people that are doing what we call life on the installment plan. And maybe we need to do a better job of identifying them and keeping them in.

GRACE: Well, Mr. Waller, that brings up an interesting point, when you said life. Do you have the death penalty in your jurisdiction?


GRACE: And I assume that, if you do, a double homicide would most definitely qualify as mass murder.

WALLER: Right, no, this defendant is eligible for the death penalty because of the two murders and also because of the age of the victim and the heinous nature of the crime. What I have said is that I have a regular protocol that I follow in these cases. And I`ll do it in this case and make the decision after this investigation is completed, and we can do as thorough of an investigation of his background as we can, and I`ll make the decision.

GRACE: Jonathan, when are the funerals?

FREED: That subject came up at the town meeting just a short while ago. And the announcement was made that the family really hadn`t made that determination yet.

GRACE: They`re probably all in shock, for Pete`s sake.

Gentlemen, please stand by. Unless our satellite goes fickle, I`d like to speak to you some more. With me is Mr. Mike Waller. He is the elected Lake County state`s attorney. That`s a district attorney in that jurisdiction.

Also with me there, CNN correspondent Jonathan Freed who`s been on the case since the get-go. Our panel also joining us.

Very quickly, to "Trial Tracking": Tonight, police in northern Mexico found a Ford Mustang belonging to a man sought in the disappearance of a 16-month-old toddler we told you about last night. His mom found strangled to death. The toddler, Justin Black, went missing Sunday after his mom, Kristy Black, was found dead at her own home in New Mexico.

Police were called to a domestic dispute that day between Black and her husband, Ivan Villa, earlier that day. Now, that was the second time in one week police had been to the home. A warrant is out for Ivan Villa tonight on a kidnapping charge. Take a look. If you have any information on Ivan Villa or on 16-month-old Justin Black, please call the Ruidoso police, 505-258-7365.


JANELLE GODWIN, COUSIN OF MISSING BABY`S DEAD MOTHER: Ivan, just please get us the baby back. We just want you to please get us Justin back. That is the only thing we have left of Kristy.



WALLER: I have been in this business for over 30 years. This is probably the most horrific crime I have ever seen. And I, at many other news conferences, have made the statement that there`s no rational explanation or reasonable motive that can be ascribed to an act of horror like this.


GRACE: Well, luckily, the state does not have to prove motive in a criminal case. Very quickly to CNN reporter Jonathan Freed.

Jonathan, do you have any idea what made police begin to suspect the father?

FREED: No. We have been asking those kinds of questions for the last couple of days, Nancy. Twenty-four hours ago, we were asking the police chief how many suspects they had and if there was any evidence that anything was going on at the crime scene itself, that the girls might have walked into, a whole range of questions. And all we were getting at the time was, "We don`t know."

GRACE: Very quickly, to the elected district attorney, state`s attorney, Mike Waller. What happens tomorrow at the bond hearing? Is he going to get a lawyer?

WALLER: Well, Nancy, at the bond hearing, he`ll be advised of the charges against him. The judge will make a decision on bond, although we believe he`ll be held with no bond. And then he`ll ask him about an attorney. And if he can`t afford an attorney, the judge, she will appoint an attorney for him.

GRACE: Mr. Waller, no bond, man, you are not kidding. Mike Waller, the elected district attorney, and Jonathan Freed, gentlemen, thank you, and please join us again. I want to hear about this bond hearing tomorrow.

Elizabeth, as we go to break, could you show me a picture of Laura and Krystal?



CHIEF BOB DOYLE, RIVERSIDE COUNTY SHERIFF: All of the victims, except for Mr. McGowan, were in their beds. Their beds were undisturbed. We don`t know if we have the shooter or not, but this certainly could be a homicide-suicide.


GRACE: Disturbing news from Riverside, California, east of L.A. Six people dead in their own home.

With us tonight from Riverside County, California, CNN correspondent Ted Rowlands.

Ted, what happened? Six people dead in one home? Were they all from one family?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it appears so, Nancy. They haven`t given us positive identifications on the children yet or the two women found in their home.

But, clearly, it`s expected that that will come soon and, when it does, we`ll learn that it`s three children, a mother, grandmother, and then the person that`s at the center of this, a DEA investigator.

GRACE: David McGowan.

ROWLANDS: Yes. He`s a longtime law enforcement person and, boy, one of the last people you would think to be in this situation.

He appears to have killed his entire family, his three young children, a boy, 14 years old, two girls, 10 and 8, his wife and mother-in-law, all in the house. And then someone made a 911 call at 4:30 this morning. The dispatcher heard the phone hit the wall and then a gunshot. And McGowan`s body was found near the phone, a gun next to the body.

And while the sheriff is keeping all the options open, it is early on. It clearly looks like a murder-suicide and it looks like Mr. McGowan is responsible.

GRACE: Ted, you said the gun was nearby. All the victims have been found shot. If, in fact, David McGowan pulled the trigger on his family and himself, after the shot, the gun would fly off due to the reaction of the gun. So, that would not be surprising at all for the gun to be several feet away from the body. That does not indicate that someone else did it.

ROWLANDS: No, no. And, in fact, the way that the sheriff has described it is that the gun was near the body and near the phone. And it would make sense.

McGowan was the only one who wasn`t in a bed. All the other victims were in bed.


ROWLANDS: Suffered gunshot wounds to the head.

The question is how could he shoot six people without the other five waking up, the other four, the other, three, two, one.

GRACE: Was there a silencer?

ROWLANDS: They said that there`s no evidence of that, but, clearly, that will be looked into. And one would think there had to have been some sort of silencer.

GRACE: Ted, take a listen to this.


DOYLE: Emotionally, it`s very tragic. And my heart goes out to all of those that knew Mr. McGowan. And the district attorney`s office personnel are struggling with this, now that it has been confirmed that it is him. He had been with the district attorney`s office for at least five years.

And, you know, this hits home and it`s very emotionally -- a lot of people are distraught about it.

To give you an idea of how methodical these situations are, we have processed up to Mr. McGowan up to this point, OK? Now, there`s no obvious note or any kind of documentation. Does that mean that one doesn`t exist? No. We may find one, but we aren`t -- we have not processed that entire home yet and the people that are in it.


GRACE: Ted Rowlands, what kind of cases did this guy investigate?

ROWLANDS: Well, all sorts of cases here locally.

This is a rural community. It`s in the -- it`s east of Los Angeles, about 100-plus miles, Eastern Riverside County. It`s close to Palm Springs, just southwest of Palm Springs, very rural. It`s a sort of mountain community here. And he was a cop before he was a DA investigator, which is a typical track. A lot of detectives from local police departments move on to counties and work for the DA`s office.

He had worked for a number of years locally or close to here in a smaller town at Cathedral City as a detective before coming over to be a DA investigator.


ROWLANDS: Clearly, a longtime law enforcement person who`s seen most likely a lot in his day. And to find, you know, a situation where this person is in the middle of it is perplexing I`m sure to not only the family members and the neighbors here, but to his colleagues that he worked with.

GRACE: Ted, any sign of a break-in, of a robbery or a sex attack?

ROWLANDS: No. No sign of forced entry, no sign of struggle at all.

GRACE: OK. So, bottom line, Lauren Howard, either this guy did a murder-suicide on his whole family or somebody wiped out this guy and his whole family, leaving him for last.

HOWARD: Right.

GRACE: Now, this guy was a cop.

HOWARD: Right.

GRACE: In a bigger city, then moves to a rural county, works in the DA`s office investigating all types of felonies. What is your take?

HOWARD: Right. Right.

There is certainly not enough information. But it does look, at first glance, like a murder-suicide, in which case, what you want to look for is, where`s the shame factor? Why is he burning down the house? Something that he uncovered or was involved in, either in his life as a law enforcement officer or as an investigator for the DA`s office, was going to come to light, something he felt guilty about, something he had shame about that he didn`t want to sort of wreck his reputation and his home and his life. So, he did it himself. That would be the most obvious motivation.

GRACE: Very quickly to Ted Rowlands.

Had there been any domestic calls to the home? Had there been any marital disturbances before this?

ROWLANDS: Not according to the sheriff. There`s been nothing at this home in terms of domestic abuse or any sort of altercations at that home.

And they said that there`s no investigation into him, in terms of workplace investigation or any documented workplace problems. So, on the surface, it seems like a mystery, I`m sure, that, if indeed he is responsible, something will come out as to motive.


GRACE: Well, to Dino Lombardi.

Dino, you and I both know, if you have any type of a mental disturbance whatsoever, or even erratic behavior, the district attorney`s office or the police force will take away your gun. They will take your gun away. They will take your badge away. It is very common. So...


GRACE: So it`s interesting to me that there is no sign whatsoever of any mental disturbance, no emotional problem, no problem at work and this guy suddenly blows away his whole family and they hadn`t taken his gun or his badge away?

LOMBARDI: I think you are reading my mind, Nancy, because, as I was listening to the other discussions, I was thinking, here`s a guy who works in the prosecutorial law enforcement community. You have done so. I have done so.

These -- he works amongst people who are trained to pick up the signs of somebody in distress with acute stressors, because he`s armed and because he has a position like that. This must have been such an intensely personal, deep, shameful thing. And I agree. Probably something will emerge to give some explanation here. But it must have been such a deeply personal, private or other side of his life, which was just completely concealed from those he loved, those he worked with, because he worked in an environment which would normally pick something up.

GRACE: Man, if this is not a murder-suicide, what`s strange to me is, why would an intruder bother to call 911? That`s what you said, Ted, right, 4:30 a.m. call to 911?

ROWLANDS: Somebody called 911. And the phone was near the district attorney investigator here. So, one would think either he made the call or, if was an elaborate murder, a lot of questions of how someone could pull that off without forced entry...


GRACE: And another thing. Why would you commit mass murder and then call 911 to bring attention to yourself?

Ted Rowlands with us there in Riverside -- Ted, thank you, friend.

A quick break, everybody. We`ll all be right back. Please stay with us.


BOYLE: The dispatch tape, talked about it earlier this morning. I can tell you that what was heard on the dispatch tape was the phone initially hitting the wall and then a gunshot. That was all that the dispatcher heard when that 911 call came in. The phone off the hook was in close proximity to Mr. McGowan`s body.




MARK GERAGOS, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL JACKSON: Michael has spent his entire adult life helping children. If you wanted to design a charge to try to hurt him, if you wanted to go out and try to hurt him in the worst way possible, this would be the charge. If these were true, Michael would be the first person to tell you, this is outrageous, because he would never, ever want to see anybody hurt child. And he never has.


GRACE: Welcome back.

We are live in Santa Maria, California, and the latest in the Michael Jackson child sex trial. As you know, the defense has come out swinging.

Let`s go to "Celebrity Justice" correspondent Jane Velez-Mitchell.

Jane, what happened today? I`m almost afraid to ask.

JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, "CELEBRITY JUSTICE": Yes. You should be almost afraid to ask, Nancy.

Prosecutors got a chance to cross-examine the ranch manager at Neverland. And they scored some big points. One, they got him to admit that he lied when he told investigators who raided Neverland that he had absolutely no knowledge of Michael Jackson sleeping with children. Instead, he acknowledged today that Jackson had indeed formed a special bond with at least eight young boys.

He went on to admit that Jackson had on his desk at Neverland, where sometimes children visited, adult material that was not suitable for children and, specifically -- hang on to your seat -- bondage dolls. That`s right. We were shown a photograph of these. They are small dolls about this tall. And they are topless women in various bondage constraints. And at least one of them was blindfolded.

GRACE: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait, wait.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bondage dolls.

GRACE: I`m sorry. I was too busy reading "The Boy" that they found at Michael Jackson`s place under lock and -- ay, yay, yay. That`s a new one I haven`t seen.

OK, I better put it up before I get arrested. Now, let me put away "The Boy." That was the art, as Debra Opri puts it, that was found in Michael Jackson`s locked filed cabinet.

What were you saying about bondage toys?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: They showed us...


GRACE: Elizabeth, take that down right now. I`m going to come wash your mouth out with soap, Elizabeth.


GRACE: Go ahead.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Bondage dolls, little dolls about this tall, slightly larger than a man`s hand, that were all of topless women in various types of bondage constraints.

And at least one of them was blindfolded. These were allegedly on his desk at Neverland, an area that was testified to children sometimes visited.


With me here to make a little sense of all, a friend and a colleague, Diane Clehane. She is a New York entertainment columnist.

We know that Macaulay Culkin is set for tomorrow. Whether it will really happen, don`t know.


GRACE: But they have arranged for extra security, extra parking. Have Jackson celebrity friends stood by him in the past?

CLEHANE: Well, I think, during this trial, they`ve been strangely silent. I think the ick factor is in play here. And no one in Hollywood wants to be in any way associated.

GRACE: Speaking of ick factor, remember when Jackson called into Janet Jackson`s radio show and talked about how Elizabeth Taylor spoon-fed him when he just didn`t feel like eating?

CLEHANE: Yes, couldn`t eat. Yes.

GRACE: Wait until the jury hears about that, if they ever do.

CLEHANE: No. It would be interesting if Liz Taylor showed up.

GRACE: Do you think she will?

CLEHANE: I think it`s a long shot. I think the jury would be pretty just shocked to sit there and listen to her. But we can`t forget, they are pals. She did get married at Neverland in 1991 when she married Larry Fortensky.

GRACE: I don`t why she got married there.

CLEHANE: She got married there. And she has been a pal of Jackson`s.

But I think it would take a lot to get Liz out to sort of rally the troops.

GRACE: Well, would the celebs actually testify to?

CLEHANE: Well, that`s the thing.

I mean, Macaulay Culkin could certainly testify that nothing inappropriate happened while he had a friendship with Michael, very much like what he said on "Larry King." But all these other people would really just be testifying about their friendship with him, which really means nothing to this trial.

GRACE: Back to Anne Bremner, high-profile Seattle lawyer there at the courthouse as well, with Jane Velez-Mitchell.

Anne, do you think Culkin is going to testify tomorrow? Have you heard the same reports I have regarding the parking and security and all that?

BREMNER: Exactly, Nancy. That`s what I`ve heard.

We`ve been hearing that there`s heightened security for parking tomorrow. Everybody is on alert for Macaulay Culkin. The signs are not out front saying, welcome Macaulay Culkin yet, but we have got every indication that he`s going to testify tomorrow morning.

GRACE: And speaking of testifying, to Debra Opri. She is the Jackson family lawyer. She is with us tonight.

Is it getting to a point where Jackson actually has to take a stand, not under the Constitution, of course? He`s got the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. But, practically speaking, is the only way out at this juncture to explain his behavior, for him to take the stand?


In our world today, whether anyone wants to admit it or not, when you do criminal defense work -- and I have done it and I continue to do it -- we are becoming more and prone to really considering whether to put our clients on the stand, because we are faced with the irrepressible reality that people will say, well, why didn`t he -- why didn`t she take the stand? What are they hiding? Why aren`t they trying to defend themselves?

So, even though we have that constitutional right, reality dictates that Michael Jackson will have to explain himself.

GRACE: So, was that a yes? That was a yes, right?

OPRI: I started off with yes.

GRACE: You kind of lost me somewhere about the Constitution, but, yes, you think Jackson will take the stand.

OK. Let me go ahead and start my cross-examination.

Very quickly, back to Jane Velez-Mitchell.

Jane, whenever I would try a case, whether I thought the defendant would take the stand or not, I would get a big file and put it on the counsel table, the state`s counsel table, that said, defendant`s cross-exam written in really big red letters. So, hopefully, it would scare them not to take the stand or have them all nervous and crazy by the time they finally did. I`d let it sit there for the whole trial.

So, you know, buckle your seat belt, Jane Velez-Mitchell, if Jackson takes the stand, huh?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think he`s going to be confronted with some very difficult questions. And the most difficult one is, why do you sleep with children? If you insist that it`s not sexual, then why?

I mean, these are not sleepovers. The testimony that we have heard are that Michael Jackson may have slept with children hundreds of nights. We heard about one young man whose sister testified, well, he went on two world tours a half-a-year each. And you add that up, that`s about 365 days. And, I mean, there are certain very touchy issues here that you don`t want to be too graphic, but let`s face it.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Sleeping for that many nights with somebody else when you`re an adult man, it`s...


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... one might say, by default, inappropriate.

GRACE: Jane, yes, no, have those numbers come before the jury, how many nights he slept with little boys?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, we have heard countless from one of the young men himself. Countless times, is what he said. And then his sister kind of did some calculations. She doesn`t know for sure. She wasn`t there, but she was implying that, yes, he went on tour half a year and a half a year. So, that adds up to 365.

There was no video camera, but that was the essential figure that was floated in court.

GRACE: To Diane Clehane.

Diane, we saw what happened in the Robert Blake case. And Blake, you and I both agree, was a B-list celebrity.

CLEHANE: Yes. Absolutely.

GRACE: All right. He was a TV star, "Baretta," back in the `70s.

CLEHANE: Right. Right.

GRACE: It still worked.


GRACE: What about this?

CLEHANE: It`s really interesting.

GRACE: The king of pop.

CLEHANE: Yes. You can`t help but wonder if the jury is being blinded by his celebrity. I think the celebrity of Macaulay Culkin is not going to have an effect one way or the other. It`s really going to be what he has to say.

But Jackson`s celebrity is the big...

GRACE: It really is.

CLEHANE: You know, the big thing in the room. And people are still standing outside screaming outside the courtroom, so, you know, he is always going to have his fans.

GRACE: Lauren, will celebrity pull it off?

HOWARD: I`m afraid it will. All we need here is some reasonable doubt. And the defense is definitely undercutting the credibility of the accusers. And I absolutely -- I agree with Diane. I think that his celebrity status is going to win him the day, unfortunately.

GRACE: Debra Opri.

OPRI: Why he has to testify is, he`s going to tell a story to the jurors as to what his reality is.

Now, we have been hearing the words out there in the press desensitized, get them used to, brainwash. The bottom line is, Michael Jackson`s story will be believable because it`s his reality.

GRACE: Quick break, everybody.

To tonight`s all-points bulletin. The FBI and law enforcement across the country on the lookout for this man, Jason Derek Brown, wanted in connection with a murder and armed robbery in Phoenix, Arizona, November 2004, 34 years old, 5`10``, 175 pounds, blond hair, green eyes. If you have info, call the FBI, 602-279-5511.

Local news next for some of you. We`ll be right back.

Live coverage tomorrow of the Jackson trial, 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern, on Court TV.

Please stay with us.


GRACE: We at NANCY GRACE want desperately to help solve unsolved homicides, to help find missing people.

Tonight, take a look at Jone Knapton. Jone disappeared July 4, 2003, from East Moline, Illinois, the remains of her body found in a nearby river. Take a look at this beauty. If you have any information on East Jone Knapton, please call the Carole Sund/Carrington Foundation toll free, 888-813-8389. Please, help us.

As we wrap it up tonight, I want to quickly go back to Jane Velez- Mitchell.

Jane, what is going to happen tomorrow? Look in your crystal ball.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... Macaulay Culkin shows up. That`s the big question.

GRACE: Think he will, yes, no?

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Honestly, I`m not going to take a guess because nothing happens as we expect it around here.

GRACE: Well, I hear Anne Bremner off air going yes, yes.


GRACE: Anne Bremner, I was about to come to you. But I hear you screaming yes, yes into Jane`s microphone. So, I take it you think he is coming tomorrow.

BREMNER: I say yes.

GRACE: And to Diane Clehane.

Diane, you know celebs like the back of your hand. What is in it for Macaulay Culkin? Is he that close to Jackson?

CLEHANE: Well, that is what I think is fascinating. I don`t know if there`s anything in it for him. I don`t think there`s any upside for him.

So, either there`s a real friendship there or...

GRACE: Or it is the...


CLEHANE: Somebody`s, you know, leaning on him, too, you know?


GRACE: Debra Opri?


OPRI: ... friendship. He will be there tomorrow.

GRACE: He will be there tomorrow. So, says the Jackson family oracle. I mean lawyer.


GRACE: Agree, disagree, Diane?

CLEHANE: I agree. I agree.

GRACE: Lauren.

HOWARD: I don`t understand why, all of sudden, Macaulay Culkin is the poster boy for appropriate behavior. Who cares what he has to say?


GRACE: Well, actually, because the jury may know him, feel they know him, anyway.

HOWARD: And like him.

GRACE: And believe him. That`s where I think he`s so integral to the defense case.


HOWARD: ... OK, good, you didn`t molest Macaulay Culkin. That doesn`t mean you didn`t molest.

GRACE: Right. True. True.

OK, stand by for tomorrow night. We`ll have the latest on the Michael Jackson trial and the two little girls in Illinois as well.

I want to thank all of my guests tonight, but, as always, my biggest thank you is to you for being with us tonight and inviting all of us into your home.

Coming up, headlines from all around the world and Larry on CNN.

I`m Nancy Grace, signing off for tonight. Hope I see you right back here tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. And, until then, good night, friend.


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