Geraldo Rivera Live - Wednesday, May 2, 2001

11 . "transcript May 2nd"
Posted by jameson on May-04-01 at 01:23 PM (EST)

May 2, 2001, Wednesday RIVERA LIVE (9:00 PM ET)


We have heard his conclusion that the killer was an intruder, a sick pedophile. We have seen the pictures that he believes show that a stun gun was used to subdue JonBenet Ramsey. Tonight, in the third part of her compelling interview with Smit, Katie reports on the retired investigator's view that the talented girl's horrendous death by strangulation was a deliberate act, not, as many people have speculated, an accidental blow to the head followed by a clumsy cover-up.

He aired half of the Couric Interview.

RIVERA: We'll--we'll have the second half of Katie's incredible interview with Lou Smit in--in just a minute. I wanted to take a quick break, first of all, to catch our collective breaths. Those are, Gregg Jarrett, the most stunning, horrific and deeply disturbing crime scene photos of a child I--I think--I think I've ever seen. I...

GREGG JARRETT (Attorney/MSNBC Anchor): Your reaction was revealing. You said, 'Oh, my God.' I mean, it's one thing to talk about this. It's another thing to actually see the pictures which persuade you that the child was very much alive when she was tortured, strangled.

RIVERA: But what is the legal significance of the timing? Couldn't the parents had--have hit her in the head and not killed her so her body is still alive and then put the garrote and do the rest of this sickness?

JARRETT: Possible. But ask yourself the question: Would a mother who has hit her daughter in a fit of rage, having realized her daughter is very much alive, struggling--would she have devised this very complex, very sophisticated garrote for a cover-up, and would she torture her child for several minutes?

RIVERA: I don't know. But I--I--that is the sickest picture I've ever seen on television. That is something that I--that will haunt me now. I've been covering this story since 1996; this is too--too sick for words.

Let me take a quick break because I don't want a lot of time to elapse between part one and part two of Katie's report. Who Killed JonBenet?--the--you know, what happened first I guess is tonight's installment. It continues right after this. Come right back.

He aired more of the Couric interview ending at - COURIC: Perhaps more chilling, according to Detective Smit, the evidence he says JonBenet's murderer did not leave behind--the paint brush, the stun gun and pieces of paper from the note pad the ransom note was written on. Det. SMIT: People perceive the Ramseys to be guilty not because of evidence but because of perception.

RIVERA: That is a stunning interview, Gregg Jarrett, and he is so measured in his presentation, he's so, you know, intentionally under...


RIVERA: ...if anything undermodulated, it makes it so much more effective. Now I understand he made basically the same presentation to the grand jury. It's pretty obvious now why they didn't indict them.

JARRETT: Yeah. I mean, he does present a compelling case. Look, we've listened through a couple of days of his presentation. The open basement door--not all that compelling; a lot of explanations for that. You can rationalize the stun gun in different ways; allegedly it was a stun gun. This, however, is fairly persuasive because you've got the scenario of a sexual predator. And--and they love the power exerted, the pain inflicted. That was, that ligature, a torture device, according to Lou Smit, and it fits perfectly with his scenario of an intruder.

RIVERA: So as I understand it, Smit wanted to go to the grand jury. He was denied the opportunity by Boulder authorities, sued, got permission to present his case, tried previous to that to publish these pictures...


RIVERA: ...was denied that right but given the right later to retain the documents after the grand jury reached its conclusion?

JARRETT: Yeah. I--I think some time had to go by before he was allowed to actually publish them--or that is to say air them on television. That time has now elapsed...

RIVERA: Obviously.

JARRETT: ...and he's doing precisely that. This is the court of public opinion now.

RIVERA: Well, I think in--in some ways this case has been tried there from the get-go...


RIVERA: ...and maybe now we're hearing both sides. I--I still don't know.

Well, let me ask Dr. Cyril Wecht--you have been--you wrote a book. And your conclusion in the book is that John Ramsey did it. Are you now in doubt as to your conclusion based on what Lou Smit has presented last three days?

Dr. CYRIL WECHT (Forensic Pathologist/Attorney): Lou Smit, Dr. Dobersen, where were you when I needed you? Geraldo, watch your memory, my friend. Did I not say from the beginning that this girl had been sexually assaulted and was I not maligned and attacked on your show and many others by all kinds of people who said that that wasn't true? Did I not say from the beginning, and it is not in my book, that the rope around the neck is what led to the death and that the blow to the head came later, and people attacked me for that? The rope around the neck indeed did lead to the death. But here I disagree with Mr. Smit.

The examination of the neck--and this is important for a forensic pathologist. Look on page eight of the autopsy report. What we call a layer-by-layer dissection was done meticulously by Dr. Meyer. Not one petechial hemorrhage or any other kind of injury was found subjacent--beneath the furrow on the neck. That correlated with the piece of paint brush indicates clearly that there was no intent to strangle. You don't need that paint brush to strangle the neck of a girl whose neck is no larger than that of a good-sized bantam rooster. That was for control, and indeed it is tied in perversely. I agree with Mr. Smit and Dr. Dobersen in the rope around the wrists. There's no question about it.

But what lead to the death then was the vagal reflex, the tenth cranial nerve coming down from the brain that sends fibers to the heart and lungs, which when compressed will lead to a slowing of the heart and then a cardiac arrythmia, ventricular fibrillation and death. And did I not tell you many times on your show and elsewhere that the blow...

RIVERA: But does it still point to John Ramsey, in your opinion?

Dr. WECHT: Well, wait a minute. Let me just--let me just finish--that the blow to the head--and thank you, Dr. Dobersen--the blow to the head definitely occurred when this girl was dead or dying, seven ccs of blood, less than two flat teaspoonfuls with an eight-and-a half-inch fracture. If that was a beating heart with carotid blood flow going up to the brain, you'd have a significant amount of hemorrhage. OK, so where I depart from Mr. Smit is...

RIVERA: Wait, I tell you what. Let me take a break. I got to. Where you depart from Mr. Smit is what will come right after this short break. Who Killed JonBenet? continues. Stay tuned.


RIVERA: Who Killed JonBenet? all this week. Katie Couric, an exclusive interview with retired Detective Lou Smit, uncovering some incredible documentary evidence, not the least of which these autopsy photos--these stunning autopsy photos of this trial. They are the most deeply disturbing bits of evidence of a crime I've ever, ever seen.

Let me--let me formally introduce our guests. With me here in the studio, my colleague Gregg Jarrett of NBC and MSNBC; he's an attorney, he's a former Court TV anchor, and he's been covering the Ramsey case since its very beginning. And our returning trio of experts. In Pittsburgh, the man who has performed 18,000 autopsies, consulted on another 25,000, forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht who is an attorney and medical examiner. In Denver--the yin and yang of this--first, for the--for the Ramseys, our--one of our top-notch attorneys, Larry Pozner...

Mr. LARRY POZNER (Criminal Defense Attorney): For the truth.

RIVERA: ...former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. On the other side--I guess you'd say for the prosecution or the Boulder authorities, Craig Silverman, former chief deputy district attorney of Denver, now a civil and criminal trial lawyer.

Dr. Wecht, you were saying where you diverge from Lou Smit, and I was asking again how you can squeeze what he has said into John Ramsey being the--among the perpetrators.

Dr. WECHT: Well, as I--I--I--as I've already said, strangulation was not intended here, sexual perversion was, and sexual play definitely did take place. The blow to the head, I believe, then, was not done brutally to kill the girl. She was dead or dying for the reasons that I've already said. It was done to simulate brutality, which I believe Mr. Smit has bought into. So what I'm saying is that the hard-core features I believe are in place and I'm just amazed that it has taken years for many peo...

12 . "part 2"
Posted by jameson on May-04-01 at 01:23 PM (EST)

RIVERA: All right. How does it point to John Ramsey's guilt?

Dr. WECHT: Oh, well, I think it points to John Ramsey's guilt then for a lot of other reasons. I don't believe that these actions took place in that basement. I believe that the game probably was played elsewhere. I believe the body was then placed down there. We all know that it was conveniently not found in my opinion in the 6 AM search and was fortuitously found seven hours later when somebody decided to look in another room.

I've just said with my seven grandchildren, when I was younger with four kids, if a kid was missing in my house--which I think is as every big--every--every bit as big as the Ramseys', there's not a toilet bowl that I would not have looked into. Isn't that fantastic that an entire room, which by the way, a maid who worked there for 14 months never knew existed until about a month before on Thanksgiving holiday when she was told the put something in there. And then the note, the paintbrush, which is part of Patsy Ramsey's, so this guy brings in a stun gun, but he forgets to bring in the garrote that he's going to use--to hook it up. He forgets to bring the pen and paper to write the note, and then after having written the note, calmly three pages of it in the middle of the night, he forgets to take a 45-pound package. You've just written a ransom note--$ 118,000--hey, how about taking the body? Maybe you'll get some money out of it before it's over. But he leaves the ransom note and he leaves the body. That's a bad ethnic joke.

RIVERA: All right. Let me, before I bring in our advocates from one side or the other, Gregg Jarrett, we'll rejoin you in just a minute, so stay tuned. Who Killed JonBenet? continues. Take a very short break and return.


RIVERA: With Gregg Jarrett. We've just heard Cyril Wecht make a point that I agree with, that this was a very elaborate homicide to be perpetrated when the parents are asleep upstairs--if, indeed, the parents were asleep upstairs. But there is something that I can't explain. I know that it has affected you in your thinking, and it is the DNA evidence.

JARRETT: Yeah. If these grand jurors were ever willing to indict the Ramseys what must have given them pause was the fact that underneath the fingernails of JonBenet is male DNA that does not match John or Burke Ramsey and certainly not Patsy Ramsey. And the clincher is it--it is the same DNA that's found in her underwear. Now what are the chances of that? I mean, she could pick up male DNA anywhere throughout the day. But how would it be there in her fingernails and in her underwear?

RIVERA: You don't know what--it's not sperm though.

JARRETT: No, and you paused--you posed an interesting question earlier off camera. Why no sperm here?

Well, there are a myriad of cases in American history where sexual predators, particularly pedophiles do not have an orgasm, they do not ejaculate. It is the power exerted and the pain inflicted--the control that they enjoy.

RIVERA: All right. I'd--I'd love to spend a few minutes with whoever--whoever perpetrated that crime. Let me go now to our advocates. Larry Pozner, as is our custom because the Ramseys have lost up until the--this week anyway the battle of public opinion. You have the burden. You proceed first--your opening statement.

Mr. LARRY POZNER (Criminal Defense Attorney): Geraldo, their daughter's dead. They can never win. All they can do is hope to survive. And it's time for us to lend some sense of dignity to what we're watching tonight. This is new evidence. We haven't seen these pictures before, and let's quietly talk about them.

Geraldo, you're a lawyer. You're trained to be analytical. Look at the--the knots on the garrote. It's elaborate. It's almost macramelike. Do we really believe that a parent having killed their child decided to stage that kind of knot? Look at the knots around her wrists. As Lou Smit points out, these aren't simple knots, these aren't quickly tied. This is an elaborate scheme. Who creates this elaborate scheme? The sick mind of a brutal pedophile.

Now, last night we looked at stun gun marks. We saw a picture of her that morning, Christmas morning, with no stun gun marks, no marks on her face at all. How did they get there? What is the explanation if they're not a stun gun? We're looking at volumes of evidence that tell us this isn't the Ramseys. This is somebody else, somebody who came into that house with sick ideas and knew they wanted to torture this child. There is nothing in the entire history of the Ramsey family that would lead us to believe they are capable of this, that they had anything to do with this.

RIVERA: Craig Silverman.

Mr. CRAIG SILVERMAN (Former Prosecutor): You know, this was extremely powerful material. But you have to ask yourself how does any of this support an intruder theory. We're really proceeding on a false premise that one family cannot premeditate brutal crimes against another family member.

Yet, you know, we--we just don't want to believe that that could be the case. But sadly, that is too often the reality. You think about Susan Smith, think about O.J. Simpson, think about the Menendez brothers.

The flip side of love is hate. And you talk to any experienced homicide investigator and when they see a particularly brutal crime, when they see overkill, they're looking for a close relationship that's been broken, and here--I don't see, as powerful as it is, how this supports an intruder theory. The emotional appeal of those pictures cannot be denied. It goes a long way toward hurting the theory that Steve Thomas has espoused, but it certainly does support Dr. Wecht's theory, which I've been listening to from the start, and he has set it forth from the beginning.

RIVERA: OK. Let me go back. Larry, you believe there's a new level of evidence, and you believe that the conclusion now unmistakably points away from the Ramseys?

Mr. POZNER: It does indeed. If we look at how elaborate the knots are, if we look at the stun gun, and of course, now we've got rid of this old notion of no footprints.

RIVERA: Well, let me--let me ask you that on the elaborate knots. You know, I'm a sailor--knots are--that's a part...

Mr. POZNER: Yes.

RIVERA: ...of my life. It doesn't take long to tie a knot, even as elaborate as that. The knot does not appear to be an overly technical knot. You don't have to be a sailor to tie that particular knot. If the child is totally--if the child is--is not your child and you're in this stranger's house and you're perpetrating this elaborate ritualistic, horrific homicide, are you going to take the time to be tying knots like this, or are you going to rush it, or are you going to, you know, get this thing done, or are you going to take the body to some safe, secure location and do what you wanted with this 45-pound kid?

Mr. POZNER: This is--Geraldo, what is the human being that sneaks into a house that's occupied that does this to a child? We're talking about a high risk criminal. We're talking about somebody who has fantasized about this violence many times before and is now acting it out on this child. There is no reason to think that anybody in this house decided to sexually molest their daughter, tie a garrote around their struggling daughter and strangle the life out of her. Geraldo, what we're seeing here is so horrific and it's so out of character for anything we know about the Ramseys and so in character for a brutal pedophile that it--it--it just goes beyond imagination to keep saying the Ramseys did it.

Here's what we have, Geraldo. You, I know, want to see this solved. It's time for you and others in the media to cry out for independent investigation. Until this is taken away from the Boulder police...

RIVERA: What forum would it take? What would the forum be? What would--what would the--you mean a public grand jury?

Mr. POZNER: Give it to other law enforcement agents. Give it to other law enforcement agents to investigate.

RIVERA: Like whom?

Mr. POZNER: The--the Boulder Sheriff's Department. They have more experience in homicides...

RIVERA: I don't know about that.

Mr. POZNER: ...than the Boulder police.

RIVERA: I'd go along with the Colorado state police.

Mr. POZNER: But look at what--what--look at what has happened here. You've got a--you have Steve Thomas assuring us that he knows it must have been Patsy, and he has a theory--no facts.


Mr. POZNER: You have some doctor from Cleveland who assures us that it's the father. You have Lou Smit, who's done more homicides than all of them who was brought in independently saying look, this points to somebody else, you have a prosecutor from Boulder devoting his career to putting people in prison, Trip Demuth, who says it looks like an outsider. You have Steve Ainsworth from the sheriff's department brought into investigate this case--no friend of any criminal--who is saying to us, this looks like an outsider. Why aren't we listening? I'll tell you why, Geraldo. Because once we abandon 'It was the Ramseys,' we don't have a face and a name to fill in and we're all terrified.

RIVERA: Good point.

Mr. POZNER: That means we'll never solve it.

RIVERA: Good point. I only for the record state this. When Nicole Brown Simpson's neck was almost severed, Johnnie Cochran looked at that jury and said 'Could the father of these children do that to the mother of these children?' And now I believe, in my constitutional protected opinion, that he probably did exactly that. Sick people...

Mr. POZNER: The father of those children had a history of abuse.

RIVERA: ...even people who are no normal can--I know you disagree with me about O.J.

Dr. WECHT: Geraldo, could I make a comment, please?

RIVERA: Yeah. Wait.

Dr. WECHT: Oh, all right.

Mr. POZNER: I'm not sure I do.

RIVERA: Wait. I want to go to Craig Silverman first--Craig, to rebut, if you can, Larry's point, that there is nothing in the history of the Ramseys to remotely suggest that they could perpetrate a barbaric act that is this--this beyond the pale.

Mr. SILVERMAN: Obviously, we don't have a similar on this scale, and early on, on the Monday report...

RIVERA: What do you have? There's nothing. What do you have? You don't even have a pediatrician who says she was abused.

Mr. SILVERMAN: Well, we--we have--well, we have some evidence of prior abuse that we discussed on Monday, and maybe there's not pathology, but there certainly is some strangeness in the family. We have Patsy Ramsey and presumably John Ramsey's obsession with this child pageantry which some would categorize as form of child abuse. Remember in Larry Schiller's book, he notes that over two dozen of JonBenet's pageant trophies were in the master bedroom. Not in JonBenet bedroom, but in the master bedroom. We have a mother who was a beauty queen who was obviously fading in her looks. She was turning 40. She had just turned 40. JonBenet Ramsey was becoming the star of the family. We're talking about a stressful time, a family vacation planned the next day, Christmas--there are all sorts of possible religious overtones to this.


Mr. SILVERMAN: Psalm 118, the $ 118,000 demand, so there are some unusual circumstances here, Geraldo, that cannot be ignored.

RIVERA: OK. OK. I want to thank Craig Silverman, Dr. Cyril Wecht, Larry Pozner. You want to make a brief closure?

JARRETT: Yeah, very brief.

RIVERA: Very brief.

JARRETT: None of what we've seen so far is incriminating of either the Ramseys or an intruder, but at the same time it is not exculpatory. It is that massive gray area in American criminal law--one of the great unsolved murder cases, and there are many of them out there.

RIVERA: And it sickens us that someone could be walking free who did that.


RIVERA: Whoever that might be. All right. Thanks, Gregg. Thanks a lot. I really--really appreciate it.


RIVERA: Thanks. All right. Let me--stand by, a real treat. Don Hewitt, the executive producer, the founder of "60 Minutes," re--maybe the architect of all of these--these programs. Stay tuned. He'll be right here.