Larry King Live - October 12, 1999

Will the JonBenet Ramsey Grand Jury Issue an Indictment for Her Murder?

Aired October 12, 1999 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the grand jury in the JonBenet Ramsey case seems ready to make an announcement. Will it be an indictment?

Joining us, Adams County District Attorney Bob Grant, who has been advising Boulder authorities; Lisa Ryckman, correspondent for the "Rocky Mountain News"; Michael Tracey, creator of the documentary "The Case of JonBenet"; author Dominick Dunne, who has given us remarkable insights into many high-profile cases; and CNN's own legal analyst, Greta Van Susteren.

They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

By the way, originally Dominick Dunne, who will be with us on Saturday night -- was going to be with us for the full hour tonight. He graciously, when this JonBenet Ramsey story started to break and the grand jury meeting and everything, agreed to appear on the panel since he's an expert on this kind of thing.

But his wonderful book, Dominick Dunne, "The Way We Lived Then," will be published tomorrow. It's available everywhere and already on bestseller lists. And you'll see him on Saturday night on LARRY KING LIVE talking about that book. We thank him for appearing with us tonight.

Bob Grant, the grand jury met today, broke off deliberations at about 6:00 p.m. Sources have told us there's a good chance they're going to finish their work tomorrow. Is that true?

BOB GRANT, ADAMS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Well, only the grand jury knows for sure, Larry. Obviously, when they're in there doing their thing without prosecutors, they have their own timetable. We really can't speculate, but we know they're coming back tomorrow morning.

KING: Lisa, what's your read?

LISA RYCKMAN, "ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS": Well, as Bob said, Larry, we just don't know what's going to happen, but there have been so many rumors flying about something happening this week. You know, the grand jury's term expires on October 20, but as of last week Alex Hunter was saying, reporters, stay by your phones, so. And there's an absolute army of reporters outside the justice center up there too.

KING: Michael Tracey, who's a professor at the University of Colorado, created "The Case of JonBenet: The Media Versus the Ramseys" documentary. It aired on A&E's "Investigative Reports" and will be repeated, by the way, December 19th on an A&E special. We're going to have some kind of decision, Michael?

MICHAEL TRACEY, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO: Well, if Bob Grant is unclear, then I'm certainly unclear. I don't know. But clearly, there's a fairly widespread assumption that whatever they're going to decide, it will decide it fairly soon.

KING: Dominick, you've covered so many criminal cases, written about it. Your own daughter was the victim of a murder. What's your read on this one?

DOMINICK DUNNE, "VANITY FAIR": Well, you know, as the father of a murdered child, I have been fascinated by this case, although I haven't written about it. I've never been to Boulder. I don't have any inside information.

And I have spent -- I spend a great deal of my own private life working with victims and -- of homicide, and I go and meet with families who have lost their children. So I -- I am -- and I have had the experience myself.

And from the beginning, to me, the Ramseys -- I have never understood their behavior from the moment. It is so nontypical of parents who have had a child murdered.

The whole thing of their own private lawyers, their own PR people, their -- their problems with the Boulder police -- everything is -- there was just something wrong and suspicious to me from the very, very beginning about the parents.

KING: And that remains to this day?

DUNNE: It remains to this day.

KING: Greta, what's with the grand jury? What -- I know you're speaking from a distance away as well. What's your read?

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Boy, I'll you. My read is that we simply don't know. You know, there are an awful lot of rumors flying around Boulder, and the only thing worse than a bunch of reporters talking about rumors is a bunch of lawyers talking about rumors, because oftentimes people think that lawyers have the inside track about what's going on inside the grand jury room. And what initially starts as a rumor, someone thinking he or she knows something, suddenly becomes conventional wisdom and then gets passed off to the media. And suddenly, there's a flurry of activity that we all think we know what's going on in the grand jury room.

I'll tell you one thing: If I were a lawyer for the Ramseys, I'd have some level of concern because they have been deliberating since Friday. There's evidence that the parents were home at the time that the young child was found dead. There's some evidence that some windows were unlocked, that they were some pry marks on a door. But the theory of an intruder would concern me enormously if I were the lawyer for the defense, or for the parents.

KING: Bob Grant -- Bob Grant, does a grand jury have to be convinced that -- if they indict. And by the way, they don't indict, right? They vote and then they -- it's a true (ph) bill, is issued by the prosecutor, as I understand it, in Colorado.

GRANT: A true bill is issued by the grand jury.

KING: Oh, they issue the true bill.

GRANT: They issue...

KING: Do they have...

GRANT: Yes, go ahead.

KING: If they issue a true bill against John X, do they have to be convinced John X did it or do they say there's a preponderance of evidence that a trial should be forthcoming?

GRANT: In the process, Larry, the standard is a probable cause standard, which, in layman's terms, means it's more likely than not that this person, whoever's named, committed this crime -- whatever is named.

Now, they don't take into account the credibility of witnesses. They have to resolve that in favor of the prosecution. Any questions about forensic evidence, they have to resolve that in favor of the prosecution. Any question about potential defense evidence, they resolve that in favor of the prosecution.

So it's a very different standard than a prosecutor faces in a trial where the standard of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt.

KING: Lisa, what leads to the rumors? We've had them before, but today, it was everywhere that something was going to come down either late today or certainly tomorrow. Where does that start?

RYCKMAN: Well, I think, Larry, we could point to Dr. Henry Lee as one source, certainly. He met with Alex Hunter over the weekend, and of course, there is some DNA evidence that has been very troublesome in this case. There was unidentified DNA found in JonBenet's underwear along with blood and also under her fingernails -- did not match any family member or anyone else to our knowledge.

So Henry Lee had said today, in fact, that something was going to happen within the next 48 hours. So I think we could trace it back to him. Whether he heard it from a reporter, we don't know.

KING: Michael, in your -- in your special, "The Case of JonBenet," would you agree that Dominick Dunne's thinking represents what most people think?

TRACEY: Yes, absolutely. I mean, I have a lot of respect for Mr. Dunne. I saw his wonderful interview with Charlie Rose the other night. I loved it.

But I think what was he was trotting out, though, were a lot of the -- some of the myths around this case, this issue that they weren't grieving and so on, their behavior.

We now know, for example, as we pointed out on the last time we did this program, Larry, that the suspicion on the part of the Ramseys, particularly their attorneys, that the finger of suspicion was pointed at them almost from the get-go, was confirmed by Linda Arndst's declarations.

So you know, I don't think one should rehearse those old arguments. But certainly, Dominick Dunne is relaying the kind of conventional misunderstandings that existed about this case, which actually I think interestingly enough the grand jury at least have been looking at very, very carefully.

I think one point one should make is -- I don't think Bob Grant would agree with this. But when the grand jury was first named, or first got the case, last year, I think there was a fairly widespread assumption within -- certainly within the Boulder valley -- and not just an assumption, but a hope, that an indictment would come down against the Ramseys fairly quickly. That clearly didn't happen.

Whatever is happening in this case, the grand jury have both taken it very seriously, have been asking questions, and in a sense, from my standpoint, seem to have restored a level of integrity to the judicial process, which was, one might say, was lacking before they took the case.

KING: Michael, are you saying, in essence, you totally believe the parents did not do it?

TRACEY: No. You know, Larry, I've never said that. My job isn't to pronounce guilt or innocence. I have my own private thoughts.

My job, in a sense, was to try to make the case that certain constitutional rights were not really extended to the Ramseys and that there are some fundamental issues here about conflict between different provisions within the Constitution: between the First Amendment and the Sixth Amendment.

One of the most interesting interviews I did, if I might say this, was with Bob Grant. Now, we could hardly use any of it, but we had an extremely interesting discussion, not specifically about this case, but about the judicial issues that it raises at a time when we're supposed to be a society of laws and yet the judicial process is increasingly a forum of entertainment.

That is a very fundamental conflict we have to resolve.

KING: We'll get a break and come back with more. We'll pick up with Dominick and the rest of the panel. Dr. Lee will be joining us in a little while. Don't go away.


JOHN RAMSEY, FATHER OF JONBENET RAMSEY: That was the worst moment, was suddenly realizing that someone had your daughter, your child, and has taken her, and she was gone, and we didn't know where she was. And it was dark. It was cold outside.

I would have given my life for JonBenet. And I regret and I will regret for the rest of my life that I wasn't able to that night.

No. To answer the question, no, we did not.

PATSY RAMSEY, MOTHER OF JONBENET RAMSEY: Absolutely not. I mean, I don't know how -- you can't even -- how do you say no any more clearly than no.



KING: By the way, the media frenzy has returned. Trucks are there, and all the tabloids and the press naturally expecting something to come from the grand jury tomorrow.

You've -- as we've said, Dominick, you've written a lot about murder cases and investigated them, et cetera, and been part of covering jury trials. What do you make of how long this has taken? We're up on three years.

DUNNE: Three years, yes, four years at Christmastime.

KING: I think it will be three years this Christmas.

DUNNE: Three years at Christmas.

Well, I mean, this, again, goes back to me to the parents who have acted strangely. I don't care what the gentleman just said. They have behaved strangely from the beginning, and I just cannot understand why they have not been more forthcoming.

KING: Greta, I know the law is the law, but don't you look sometimes at behavior?

VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it's the behavior from which people draw conclusions. You know, one of the reasons why juries are given great deference compared to a court of appeals is because they get to watch the witness testifying. They get to get to look at body language. They get to look at expressions. Of course conduct and expressions and all of those things fold into, you know, whether or not people believe someone is acting credibly when someone says, I didn't do it.

KING: Well, who's goofed here that, so far, someone has gotten away -- this can be correctly said -- someone has gotten away with murder so far?

VAN SUSTEREN: Absolutely. Absolutely. Someone has gotten away from murder. And you've got a couple of problems here. No. 1 is that the crime scene was contaminated, and in the first six hours, they thought that this was a kidnapping. And in fact, it was a murder scene, not a kidnapping.

Secondly, the Boulder police, which is probably a very good police department, doesn't have much experience handling homicide scenes, because, thankfully, it's an environment where they don't have a lot of murders. Then you've got the problem of finally when they decided it's a murder scene, with sort of an inexperienced collection team collecting the evidence, suddenly you've got a war between the prosecutor and the police and has all the ingredients for problems.

And so, you know what? It's really no surprise that we've gotten to this point, but maybe the grand jury will get to the bottom of it.

KING: Lisa, would you agree with everything Greta just said?

RYCKMAN: Well, I definitely agree with everything Greta said up to the point where she said that maybe the grand jury would get to the bottom of it. I think that the fact that they've taken so much time -- I think that's an excellent sign, in one respect, that they've examined the massive amount of evidence that is there, but they've never actually talked to the Ramseys themselves, which I think is very curious. I think it's very unusual for a grand jury not to talk to someone who was either a very important witness or possibly the perpetrator.

VAN SUSTEREN: Except they do have a...

KING: Why not, Bob?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, they have Fifth Amendment privileges, Larry, let's not forget that, that they do not have to testify. They can testify.

KING: Well, you'd want to -- wouldn't you want to if you didn't do it and your child was murdered? Wouldn't you want to?

VAN SUSTEREN: Not if the DA and the police are out there from the first day, saying you are under an umbrella of suspicion, you have to be out of your mind to march right in there, because you know, the cards are stacked against you if they think that you are already involved in the crime.

RYCKMAN: Wait a minute.

KING: Bob, go ahead.

GRANT: Let me address that for a minute if you would, Larry. You know you can speculate about who has motivation for what until the cows come home. The fact of the matter is incredible investigative resources have been expended on this case, the grand jury has been meeting since last September. It's an investigative grand jury. They have all the facts necessary to make the decision they need to make.

Now, viewing someone in person -- I can't and won't comment on evidence that was presented. But viewing someone in person is not as necessary when you have videotaped presentation, for instance, or when you have audiotaped presentation and when you have additional presentation of statements made to other folks.

Now if you have that, then you make a decision whether -- the grand jury can make a decision whether they want those specific individuals sitting before them or not. You know, speculating about who did and didn't appear and why is really of no account at this stage.

KING: Dominick, does it look to you like somebody's either covering something, or we have vast amount of ineptitude?

DUNNE: Well, I think there's a combination of a lot. Now, you know, I don't know if this is all right to say, but my own theory on the thing is...

KING: Everyone has one.

DUNNE: And everyone has one. And you know, I know this has been shot down. I still believe that the son, that the boy, is somehow involved in this and that that is what is holding the parents together and...

TRACEY: Mr. Dunne, why do you believe that? Give us a reason. Give us a rational argument to support what you just said, that the small boy was involved in killing his sister. Give us one rational argument.

KING: Let him answer.

DUNNE: Yes. Well, I mean, there was a -- the kid was awake at the -- I can't quite remember what this was -- they said that the boy was asleep and then on a tape later, it turned out that he was awake and heard in the background of the first telephone call.

TRACEY: That was a "National Enquirer" story about the 911 call. That's what you're referring to there. That's the basis on which you just accused a small boy of killing his sister? A "National Enquirer" story?

DUNNE: I am not going to get into...

KING: Michael, no, he's not accusing. He's giving his supposition.

For example, Michael, you're the only one with no opinion.

Michael, Do you have an opinion at all?

TRACEY: I have an opinion about...

KING: What is it?

TRACEY: Larry, I have an opinion about the media...

KING: No, forget the media. What is your opinion on -- did a stranger come to that house, Michael, or did someone inside the house do it?

TRACEY: I don't know, Larry.

KING: What do you guess?

TRACEY: I have not been sitting in the grand jury.

KING: What do you guess?

TRACEY: I have an opinion about the way in which the media covered the story...

KING: No, Michael, you asked Dominick to answer the question. I am asking you. What do you guess? Everyone has a guess. What do you guess?

TRACEY: I'm not in the business, Larry, of guessing.

KING: You mean you don't have in your own brain a guess?

TRACEY: You're accusing someone of child murder on national television.

KING: So you have no guess on this case at all?

TRACEY: I am not in the business of accusing someone of murder on national television.

KING: OK, we're going to take a break. I'm sorry, Michael, I've got to take a break. You have no guess.

We'll be right back after this.


J. RAMSEY: Is it because we loved our children with our own hearts, because we gave them everything we could give them? Is it because we cared for them more than life itself? Or is it because we were asleep in the house the night she was murdered?

I'm dumbfounded. The only possible reason that could be is because of media. The media has told the lie so many times that people start to believe that it's the truth.



KING: Michael Tracey, forgive my getting carried away. It's just, this is a very, as you might imagine, frustrating matter. I know you can criticize the media, but it's awful frustrating going into it three years and nothing happening.

TRACEY: I agree. I agree.

KING: You should be frustrated too. So, but I apologize. I shouldn't have jumped like that.

TRACEY: It's fine. It's OK.

KING: Dr. Henry Lee has now joined us, the forensic scientist, commissioner of public safety, state of Connecticut. He's a consultant to Alex Hunter in this case. He said earlier today on "Good Morning America," that something's going to happen.

What's going -- do you expect an indictment? Do you expect a bill to be brought by this grand jury, Henry?

DR. HENRY LEE, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Well, Larry, you know, something is going to happen one way or the other. The jury will probably make a decision, either indictment or no indictment. Maybe they choose to issue a report. So one way or other, something should happen, and we should wait and see.

KING: Would you say this will happen, whatever happens, tomorrow?

LEE: As a scientist, we don't guess. That's lawyers, you know, they make a legal decision.

KING: But you said on the program within 48 hours; that's a guess.

LEE: Yes, either today, tomorrow, or day after tomorrow, should be something.

KING: What is causing all the -- why are we still unresolved here, Henry?

LEE: Unresolved, why? You mount quite a few different issue here. The criminal investigation aspect, it's kind of near the end. The forensic aspect, some of the evidence still continue -- continues the exam. Then the legal aspect has to wait on grand jury and Alex Hunter to make a decision.

I want to make it clear, you know, it's a misconception say Alex Hunter's office did not work hard enough on that case. I know personally the office work extremely hard, spend a lot of time and resources, did everything humanly possible. The Boulder Police Department also worked extremely hard.

Larry, if you remember, early days we talk about foremost important elements: crime scene, physical evidence, witnesses and some luck with this case, which is lack of those ingredient to have a so- called "solution."

KING: Greta, has somebody goofed?

VAN SUSTEREN: No, you know, there is, sadly, such a thing as almost the perfect crime, meaning the perfect crime where someone doesn't get caught. If indeed that crime scene was contaminated and that -- the contamination -- had it not been contaminated would have led to proving who the killer was, then indeed somebody goofed. Did someone do it deliberately? I don't think so.

I still think -- and Dr. Lee is better suited to answer this or say this than I am. But I think if that crime scene had been in better condition, if you had a police force that was more experienced in homicides -- and thankfully, the Boulder Police force doesn't have a lot of homicides to investigate -- I think we probably would have had more clues, we would have had more ingredients toward finding out who the killer or killers are.

KING: Dominick, you can understand -- I guess as kind of a media representative, you understand what Michael said, the frustration of the media in this. And I guess that is an example of the frustration of the public, isn't it?

DUNNE: Yes, yes, because it has gone on too long. I mean, even now we don't know anything. We've got an hour program and we still don't know anything.

KING: Dr. Lee, was there additional DNA evidence? Was there another person there no one's known about?

LEE: Well, there are some foreign DNA.

KING: There is?

LEE: Of course a foreign DNA doesn't mean somebody else. You know, the DNA have to come from somebody. That somebody not necessary an unknown intruder or real suspect. DNA can be a pre-existing contamination, could be subsequently transferred, or during handling evidence, something may happen there.

KING: I see.

LEE: So we have to look at all the data and hear all the data collect, try to digest. I know the frustration of the public and everybody. However, this is not a movie or a TV show. By second commercial or third commercial, we have to have an answer. And public wants it resolved. Meanwhile, the actual investigation -- sometime we can spend day and night. For example, today I spend a lot of hours on the case. You don't find it easy (ph). You cannot manufacture or produce something.

KING: Maybe we do want too much too quickly. We'll talk about that, we'll take your phone calls with our outstanding panel after this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 8:10 a.m., Arndt arrived at the Ramsey home and meets John Ramsey for the first time.

How did he strike you?




ARNDT: Cordial.


ARNDT: Cordial.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did it strike you at all that he was -- that that was behavior that was unusual for somebody whose child was just kidnapped?

ARNDT: It's been my experience that people respond to trauma in different ways. So if someone has a response that is different from mine, I don't put judgment to it; I'll just note it.



KING: By the way, Bob Grant has left us. He had said that he'd be leaving halfway through. We'll be going to your calls momentarily.

Michael, when you said the media was wrong, what should -- and I don't like to collectively accuse -- what should the media have done they didn't do?

TRACEY: I think there should have been -- one, there should have been much less coverage of the crime, this particular case. I think the character of the coverage should not have been as sleazy and sensational as it was.

But I think also the media should not have allowed themselves to be used to construct a story that was full of mistakes and errors and bits of misinformation. I think all of those things should have been done.

Can I address one point, though, this issue of frustration, Larry, which you raised before the break? And I do understand that there is a level of frustration about getting a result, getting some kind of solution to this, but it seems to me that precisely at those moments when people are frustrated, one has to be very careful to protect the process, because you're dealing with some very basic principles of the rule of law. And so the frustration should not lead to a situation where we give a result, come what may. I think one has to be extremely careful in the context of a frustrated public and a frustrated media.

KING: Lisa, do you agree.

RYCKMAN: Oh, absolutely, I agree with Michael on that. I think that people have been very quick to judge here, judge behavior. And as Linda Arndt said, people grieve in different ways, they react in different ways. I'd like to make it very clear here, Larry, for the record, that Burke Ramsey, the older brother of JonBenet -- who was 9 years old at the time of her death, by the way -- is one of very few people, but absolutely a person who has been completely cleared as any kind of a suspect in this case. Even the supermarket tabloid that had a headline saying that he was involved somehow retracted that later.

Also, the other two older children of John Ramsey, from a former marriage, John Andrew Ramsey and Melinda Ramsey, are two other people who absolutely have been cleared. And in fact, those two came and testified not so long ago, several weeks ago, before the grand jury, and that was interesting I think.

KING: We'll take a break, come back, and include your phone calls.

Don't go away.


KING: Welcome back. We're discussing what's next in the JonBenet Ramsey case. Grand jury action on the 1996 killing. Maybe an indictment could come at any time.

Our guests, leading forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee. He's been consulting with Boulder authorities on this tragic case; Lisa Ryckman, who's been covering the Ramsey saga for "The Rocky Mountain News"; Michael Tracey, creator of the documentary "The Case of JonBenet"; famed author Dominick Dunne, an acute observer of many high-profile criminal cases; and CNN's own legal analyst Greta Van Susteren.

We'll start to include your phone calls.

Chesaning, Michigan, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry.

My question is for -- my name is Sherry -- and it's for anyone on the panel.

Should the Ramseys be indicted, how would their arrest be handled? Would they be able to post bond and leave Colorado to return Atlanta?

KING: It's a good question. Greta, you're the lawyer left.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Let me tell you what would happen is that there would be a conversation between the DA and the lawyers for John and Patsy Ramsey, and I am sure that there would be some effort to have them surrender in Denver quite quickly. What the lawyer doesn't want is he doesn't want his clients arrested in Atlanta, because then they have to extradite the clients to Denver, and oftentimes, they put them on a bus from prison to prison to prison until you get back to the state that wants them, in this case, Colorado. So there would be some sort of arrangement.

Now, whether or not they would get bond depends on what they're charged with. My understanding is, in the state of Colorado, if you're charged with first-degree murder, you can get bond, and if your state asks that you not get bond, that you be detained. The state is required to put on what we call a proof hearing, in essence, sort of show their cards at a hearing before the judge as to what evidence they have which they think would lead to a conviction, and prosecutors hate to do that, because it requires them to preview their case and tip their hand to the defense. So there may be some...

KING: So are you saying a lot of murder charges in Colorado do get bond?

VAN SUSTEREN: No, not many. This is not your run-of-the-mill case. And what prosecutors are concerned about is whether or not the person that they have sought the indictment against is likely to hurt or likely to kill again. And it's, you know -- and the Ramseys, if they're indicted -- and remember, they are presumed innocent at this very moment -- but if they are indicted, the fact that they have been very good citizens for the last three years, there have been no incidents involving them certainly weighs heavily in favor of having them released and that they're not a danger to the community.

But I say that with great hesitation because the underlying crime of course is a serious one, it's a violent one, but they have not been convicted of anything at this moment, and they are presumed innocent, even if some people are unwilling to do that.

KING: Might we say, Dominick, safely, that you would cover this trial, if there were a trial?

DUNNE: Oh, yes. Oh, yes, I would be fascinated to cover the trial.

KING: This would be a -- do you all -- since you have had it happen to yourself, is it natural for you to presume guilt, or is that unfair to say -- ask you? I mean, your child was murdered?

DUNNE: Yes, I do presume guilt. Yes, I have to confess to that, yes.

KING: Isn't that hard, though? Does that make you unfair going in? Or do you try to be the best journalist you can be?

DUNNE: No, I try to be the best journalist I can be. But in every trial I've covered, I have presumed guilt, yes.

KING: Michael, isn't that true of most people, covering -- I mean, media people presumed it with Simpson, didn't they?

TRACEY: I think it seems to happen a lot, particularly in these very high-profile cases, and it's one of the things that I think concerns some people. I think it's also -- there's evidence that suggests that juries make their mind up about guilt or innocence very early in the process, after, you know, nearly the opening statements. So yes, I think a lot of people do, and certainly in this case, have presumed guilt.

Greta might say that, you know, they should be presumed innocent, which is absolutely right, but I think we all know that was never the case in this instance.

KING: Dr. Lee, you will be -- should there be an indictment, you will be a witness for the prosecution, will you not?

LEE: Maybe.

KING: What does that mean? I mean, wouldn't you be called -- it's going to deal with a lot of forensic evidence, isn't it?

LEE: Yes. It's up to the prosecuting attorney whether to decide to call me or not to call me. It all depends on my funding whether or not -- in favor of some side, because don't forget, it's an adversary system here.


KING: And you have testified the defense in the past.

Go ahead. I'm sorry.

LEE: Right, right. As a scientist, we should remain open- minded, totally objective, just report the scientific fact.

VAN SUSTEREN: Larry, there's sort of an interesting ethical problem that the prosecution could face in this case. There may be enough evidence -- there may be probable cause to indict someone for this crime, for this murder, but there may not be enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. So what does the prosecutor do if the grand jury says, look, there's enough evidence to indict, but the prosecutor, in good heart and mind, says, look, I simply can't prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. Does the prosecutor sign off on indictment anyway and try the case? Because remember, in the grand jury, the grand jury can hear lots of evidence that may not be admissible at trial.

For instance, a grand jury can hear hearsay evidence and be convinced that there's probable cause to believe a particular person committed a crime, but a prosecutor knows that that evidence cannot be used at trial. So what does a prosecutor do?

KING: Our prosecutor has left us.

Lisa, should a prosecutor be convinced a hundred percent or not go to trial, Lisa, or is a hundred percent too much?

RYCKMAN: Of course, I'm not a lawyer, Larry, but from the many lawyers that I have talked to over the last three years, my understanding is that a prosecutor would be foolish to take a case to trial that they didn't think they could win. And I think that Alex Hunter is no fool. He has...

KING: What if you're 90 percent sure? RYCKMAN: Well, you know, I have no idea. Actually, you know, what we have here, though, Larry, back in June of 1998, when the police brought their case and gave it to the district attorney's office, the police said at that time, we know we don't have a provable case, we need a grand jury because we need certain people be compelled to speak, we need to get certain documents in our hands, and so Alex Hunter looked over what they had. If he could have indicted then based on what the police had and handed over to him, I'm sure he would have done it if he thought he had a case beyond a reasonable doubt, but he didn't. So he gave it to a grand jury. They've looked at it for a year. Have they come up with something that would prove this case? I don't know. I guess we'll find out.

TRACEY: Larry, can I just speak to...

KING: We'll take a break -- yes, and then we'll have Michael when we come back.

By the way, Dominick Dunne's book, "The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper," is already No. 3 on the bestseller list, and he'll be with us Saturday night to discuss that book. We thank him for being part of the panel with us tonight.

And we'll continue with Dominick and the others, and Michael will pick up where we left off and more of you phone calls, right after this.


J. RAMSEY: The American public has been led to believe that while we went to bed that night after a wonderful Christmas, brutally beat JonBenet, sexually molested her, strangled her, went to sleep, got up the next morning, wrote a three-page ransom note, called the police, said around the house for four hours, then I went downstairs and discovered her body and was able to act distraught. Patsy was able to throw up that morning because of gut-wrenching anxiety. She faked it.

Help me understand that. Where is our common sense as a society, as a race of people?



KING: We're back. Michael Tracey was going to say something before we go back to the calls -- Michael.

TRACEY: Yes, Larry. The point I was going to make was this discussion you were having before the break about what happens if the grand jury indicts but Alex Hunter perhaps feels that he doesn't have a winnable case. The problem of the way in which this whole case has been dealt with by the media and the kind of climate, the almost hysterical climate that was created, puts him in an extraordinarily difficult position, because people will say, "We want something to be done" even though, even though his best judgment and the best judgment of other people advising him may be that it isn't winnable.

And of course, if it goes to trial, whoever's indicted, if someone were indicted, if it goes to trial and they lose, that person can never be tried again. So it really does reflect the point we're trying to get at in doing the documentary. The whole process is affected by the way in which the media dealt with the case.

KING: We go to Wheeling, West Virginia, hello?

CALLER: Hi, Larry, how are you?


CALLER: My question is two-fold: As a former Miss West Virginia, I'm very proud to say, I would like to ask Mr. Dunne, first of all, how does he compare the O.J. Simpson trial, as being a wonderful student of humankind, body language, the way people act and react in a situation like this, how does he compare that to the Ramseys? And how can anyone really slam the media for following this case in the manner that they have, considering Patsy put JonBenet in the media at a very tender age, which some of us may not have done?

KING: Dominick?

DUNNE: Interesting, but I kind of forgot the first part of it.

KING: The human -- she was a former Miss West Virginia. Patsy was a former Miss West Virginia.

Human behavior in a court trial: You presumed Simpson guilty early, right?

DUNNE: Oh, I did.

KING: Any of that have to do with behavior?

DUNNE: Well, yes, of course. I mean, I think, I mean, from the time he was in the freeway chase, I mean, that was not the behavior of an innocent man with a gun and money and a passport. Yes, from that moment on, I presumed he was guilty.

And also, when he got back to the house and they put the handcuffs on him, if he didn't do it, he would have gone crazy at that time.

KING: To Rome, Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Yes. My question is for all of the panel. Why do they think the parents have not been more assertive or aggressive in searching for the killer, hiring private eyes, being more pushy toward the police force, et cetera?

KING: OK. Let's start with Greta and run around.

Greta, let's put it this way: If I lost a child to murder, God forbid, and I didn't do it, I'd be berserk. Now, I don't want to put my feelings into other people, but casual I would not be. Cordial I would never be. Berserko I would be.

SUSTEREN: And I -- and I truly believe that you would be all of those things as you stated, Larry. You know, I simply don't think, though, you can predict human behavior under this situation.

And remember, since about a week after this crime, that the parents were targets. They had lawyers. Their lawyers were worried...

KING: OK. But why aren't they -- the question is obvious. Why isn't the father now pounding the table to find the killer? I mean, wouldn't you want the killer found?

SUSTEREN: Absolutely. But I think he offered a reward. I think he's written letters. I think they have done some things in an effort. I mean, I can't explain their conduct, you know, and frankly, you know, there are certain aspects of their conduct that surprise me as well.

But I don't think you can expect certain conduct. There is no sort of plan on how you're supposed to act.

KING: Dr. Lee, I know you're in the forensic business, but if your child were killed, wouldn't you be crazy to find out who did it?

LEE: Oh, I deal with a lot of victims' family, you know, all that -- they have different reactions. Some are pounding the table. As a matter of fact, they call me five times a day and demand answers. And you know, can I produce an answer for them? Of course not.

In other words, you're pounding the table -- that's not the solution.

KING: Have you seen -- have you seen a case with the parents of a child not interested in who might have killed the child or not bugging you every day?

LEE: Some are, you know -- if the parents live far away, they can't really call the police department every day or they have other responsibility. Again, you know, each individual will react differently.

KING: All right. Fair.

Dominick, you lost a child. They found the murderer in that case, right? Had they not, would you have been berserk?

DUNNE: I was berserk from the -- from the instant that it -- that I got the telephone call and -- and stayed berserk through the whole thing. And most parents of murdered children with whom I have spent time are berserk, absolutely.

KING: Michael -- Michael, isn't that logical? I'm just talking logic. I'm not talking at all on media. Logic.

TRACEY: Larry, I don't -- I also don't understand where you get this idea that the Ramseys were not seeking to find the killer. They've had investigators. They have done various things. But of course, they have been the object of the investigation in a very unusual situation. And...

KING: Forget object. If you didn't do it, you didn't do it.

TRACEY: How -- I don't understand the question.

KING: I mean, if I -- if you accused me of killing my child and I know I didn't, I would be crazed to find out who did, double-crazed if you were accusing me.

TRACEY: Again, I'm not questioning this concept, what double crazed means, but the idea that the Ramseys, one, were not devastated, and two, were not desperate to find out who killed JonBenet I don't think is supportable.

They have had investigators looking into the case, but they are in an extremely difficult position.

They themselves are the object of investigation. They're the object of vilification. They're the object of massive media coverage. They're very -- they were in a very, very difficult position.

KING: OK. All right. We'll take a break and we'll come back with more right after this.


J. RAMSEY: She used to do it at home . She'd dress up and put on a performance for us that she and her friends would cook up just in the kitchen.

These pageants were a way that she could do that in a little more of a formal manner.

P. RAMSEY: I mean, all the children there had this same penchant for performance. It was just kind of a venue for that. And all the parents knew each other.

J. RAMSEY: And the audiences were parents.

P. RAMSEY: Just parents and grandparents. I mean, it was -- you know, it was fun. She looked forward to it. And we just had a really fun time.



KING: OK, let's go down the panel.

Lisa, this is beginning to sound like a broken record. Are we going to have a conclusion to the JonBenet Ramsey matter within the -- overnight -- is something going to happen tomorrow?

RYCKMAN: Well, yes, I think eventually if something is going to happen, it's going to happen before or on October 20, when the grand jury's term runs out. I don't know that it's going to be a conclusion. It may be more like a beginning, Larry. It's certainly going to put us in a whole different phase of this case, there's no question about that. I don't know whether it will resolve it though.

KING: Dr. Lee, do you expect resolution?

LEE: Well, yes, I expect, you know. If a, say, grand jury come back with an indictment or no indictments, could be quick. If they choose to issue a report then probably take a little longer to formulate.

KING: Michael Tracey, do you expect a conclusion?

TRACEY: Clearly, something is going to happen in the next 48, 72 hours of some kind. I have no idea what it is.

KING: Do you expect -- and this is just -- this could be a fair gut feeling -- we will one day have a resolution of this, one way or the other, that -- or might possibly someone get away with murder here?

TRACEY: Is that to me?

KING: Yes.

TRACEY: You know, Larry, I mean, I have a feeling that this thing will be resolved. And you said, well, why? Then I would -- and I don't like doing this -- I am following my gut. I do think this thing will be resolved, yes. What the resolution will be, I -- it's -- I don't know. But I just have this strange, strange feeling. This is a very, very weird case. You know, the laws of physics don't apply to this particular part of the universe, but I just have this basic feeling that something -- someday we will know what happened on that night, in Christmas night in 1996. I have just a basic, basic feeling.

KING: Dominick Dunne, there are unsolved murders, are there not?

DUNNE: There are. And this could very easily be one of them. I mean, if they don't arrive at a conclusion here, this could be one.

KING: Do you have a gut feeling about what -- not who, what?

DUNNE: You mean what the grand jury...

KING: Do you think there's going to be -- they're going to give -- do you think we're going to have a trial ever?

DUNNE: No, I really don't.

KING: And, Greta, you're our level expert. Again, this is part gut and part knowledge. What do you expect?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well you know, Larry, it's funny, you never know what's going on inside a grand jury room or a petit jury room. But I've got to tell you, I've seen indictments across this country in cases with far less evidence. Now indictment doesn't mean someone is guilty. Lots of innocent people are found not guilty. A lot of innocent people are indicted. But I got to tell you, I've seen lots of indictments with less evidence, so it would not surprise me -- and this is just a total gut reaction because of what I've seen around the country. It would not surprise me if indictments were returned.

KING: It is a puzzlement. We thank all of our guests for being with us, and Dominick Dunne, especially, for participating in a panel for which you were not supposed to be a part of. We really appreciate it.

DUNNE: Thank you.

KING: We thank all of our guests. And if something happens tomorrow, we'll right on top of it tomorrow night.

A word about Wilt Chamberlain after this.


KING: If he wasn't the best basketball player who ever lived, he wasn't third or fourth either. He was an incredible guy, and he had a lot of facets to his life. He once scored a hundred points in a game. He was found dead in his home today in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles, at the age of 63.

He came on this program to talk about a now-famous quote about women in his life that became his legacy and a book -- watch.


WILT CHAMBERLAIN, FORMER PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYER: How could I write a book about myself and what has shaped my views without being honest about the things that I was involved with off of the playing court? So I wanted to be as honest as I possibly could. It was one line a line or one line and a half in my book. I had no idea it was going to, like, raise the roof as it has. You know, it wasn't meant to be put in there to rival my deeds on the court. It was meant to tell people that I was involved at a time in the '60s and the '70s...


KING: ... with many women. We will all miss him. NBA commissioner David Stern said, "We have lost a giant of a man in every sense of the word. The shadow of accomplishment he casts over the game is unlikely ever to be matched. We're gratified that in the last few years, the NBA family has had the opportunity to tell him how much his contributions have meant to us. Wilt Chamberlain, dead at 63.

CNN "NEWSSTAND" will have more on that and lots more to follow as well. Natalie Allen and Stephen Frazier are the cohosts.