Rivera Live Transcript on August 21, 1998
ENHANCED 911 TAPE REVEALING BURKE RAMSEY SPEAKING IN THE BACKGROUND, WHEN HIS PARENTS SAID HE WAS UPSTAIRS SLEEPING
Page 17 of transcript:
Mr. SHEA: Sure. Thank you.
CLARK: We're gonna take a break here, and when we return, the latest in the JonBenet Ramsey investigation. New reports say that during Patsy Ramsey's hysterical 911 call to the police, John Ramsey is heard telling his young son, "Go Back to Bed." We'll be right back.
MARCIA CLARK, host:
There's news on two fronts in the JonBenet Ramsey case this week. First, there's surprising information about the 911 call that Patsy Ramsey made to police to report her daughter missing. Although the Ramseys told investigators that their son Burke, then 10 years old, was asleep when the call was made, a transcript of the 911 conversation apparently shows otherwise. According to the National Enquirer, which broke the story and other published reports, Burke can be heard speaking in a newly enhanced version of the audiotape.
After Patsy Ramsey screams, 'Help me, Jesus. Help me, Jesus,' Burke reportedly says, 'Please, what do I do?' According to the reports, John Ramsey then says in a supposedly angry voice, 'It's none of your business. Go back to bed. We're not speaking to you,' or words to that effect. Patsy's again heard screaming, 'Help me, Jesus. Help me, Jesus,' after which Burke clearly says, 'But what did you find?' Additionally, the Enquirer reports that, according to a source, Burke Ramsey recently told authorities he heard some kind of noises around the time his little sister was murdered. The paper quotes the source as saying, quote, "Detectives are convinced Burke saw or heard something that could crack this case," end quote.
Meanwhile, former close friends of John Ramsey have written an extraordinary 15-page letter asking that the people of Colorado should demand that the state's attorney general take over the case.
NBC's Leanne Gregg reports on this plea for the removal of the Bouldy--Boulder County district attorney.
LEANNE GREGG reporting:
Fleet White, a former friend of John Ramsey's and one of the pallbearers at JonBenet's funeral, in a scathing letter, accuses Boulder's district attorney, Alex Hunter, of having no intention of ever seeking an indictment. White was with John Ramsey when he found JonBenet's body in the basement of their home 20 months ago. White addressed the letter, acquired by The Denver Post, to the people of Colorado, asking them to demand that the state's governor immediately order the attorney general to take over the investigation.
Governor ROY ROMER (Democrat, Colorado): Let--let me make one last comment before you turn...
GREGG: Earlier this month, Governor Roy Romer, on the advice of four Denver area district attorneys, decided against replacing Hunter with a special prosecutor.
Gov. ROMER: I have concluded that it is not proper to appoint a special prosecutor because it would impair this investigation.
GREGG: Instead, Romer said the case is on track for a grand jury. In his letter, White accused Hunter of using the grand jury and its secrecy in an attempt to protect his career.
Unidentified Woman: (From video) Number 16, JonBenet.
GREGG: Frustrations over the lack of resolution of the case prompted White last December to ask the governor to appoint a special prosecutor. The governor declined. This latest plea is not likely to change his mind.
Within the next few weeks, Hunter is expected to appoint additional experts to help with the case.
He won't say when or where the grand jury will begin its part of the investigation. Leanne Gregg, NBC News, Denver.
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CLARK: Civil and criminal attorney--trial lawyer Craig Silverman now joins us in Denver. Craig served formerly as a chief deputy district attorney there.
Craig, I--I'm--I'm dying to know what you think is--of--of the current request that's on the table now, for the second time, that Alex Hunter be removed in favor of the attorney general. What do y--do you think it's likely to succeed? Do you think it should?
Mr. CRAIG SILVERMAN (Civil and Criminal Attorney, Former Prosecutor): N--no, it's not going to succeed. In fact, Governor Romer has already turned down Fleet White. But let's remember who Fleet White is. He's a star witness in this case, as is his wife, who also authored that letter. They have turned against this prosecutor. This follows Steve Thomas, lead investigator, putting down Alex Hunter. They're both requesting a special prosecutor and it--it casts a shadow over the case.
CLARK: Well, yeah, I mean, I understand that it does, except that--don't you think that there may be some merit to it? There's been no movement, and even since--it's been a while even since there was an announcement that there would be a grand jury investigation. That hasn't even begun.
Mr. SILVERMAN: Right. It's an interesting situation. And he points at--toward Governor Romer; he says, 'There's sort of a vast left-wing conspiracy here.' I think he overcharges, but he makes good, valid points: Alex Hunter, the Democrat DA in Boulder, being helped by an--a bunch of other established Democrats, and we've seen how people band together on partisan lines. Hopefully, that would not occur in a murder case, but it may be a matter of philosophy as much as politics.
CLARK: You know, but, Craig, I understand that Alex Hunter also hasn't had a whole lot of experience with high-profile cases, let alone with homicides. I understand--I--I've heard that he hasn't even had--tried one in his career. Maybe it is a good thing to get someone else in to run--guide the ship.
Mr. SILVERMAN: Well, what they're talking about now is bringing in a special deputy, somebody who will actually take charge of the case. Hopefully, it'll be somebody who's insulated from these political accusations...
Mr. SILVERMAN: ...'cause when you look at Fleet White, you have to ask yourself: What is this man's motivation? And you can't come up with anything other than justice for JonBenet.
CLARK: Yeah, that's really true. That's--his netter--letter was very impressive to me, as was the detective's letter, the one who just retired. And I think that after Fleet White's letter--even though that's been turned down again by Governor Romer, there's probably going to be another and yet another.
Mr. SILVERMAN: Right.
CLARK: So hopefully, that will be resolved. We're gonna go to break here, Craig.
Mr. SILVERMAN: Sure.
CLARK: When we come back, we're--all of us left here, Paul Rothstein and Howard Price, will join us discussing the significance of this newly enhanced 911 tape. Stick around, folks. We'll be right back.
CLARK: One of the most horrible parts about discussing this case is having to see those clips over and over again. They are so painful. The n--this latest story about the 911 tape that has been enhanced, assuming that it's been properly enhanced and--and there's been no funny business with it, that reveals the son's voice wh--at a time
Page 19 of transcript:
when the parents insist that he had been sleeping, what--what--let's play out the significance. Howard, what do you think? You've had a lot of high-profile murders.
Mr. HOWARD PRICE (Criminal Defense Attorney): Well, one, forgive my inherent skepticism, but this tape has been in their possession since day one. If there was background noise, which is what causes the enhancement, I would think it would've been enhanced a long time ago.
Mr. SILVERMAN: No.
Mr. PRICE: And, if indeed...
Mr. SILVERMAN: No, no, no.
Mr. PRICE: Well, pardon me. Maybe you're right. But indeed, if the words are as the audiologist determines them to be, clearly this is as close to a smoking gun as you're gonna get in this case.
CLARK: Mm-hmm. Maybe makes it fileable. Craig, why are you saying, 'No, no, no'?
Mr. SILVERMAN: Well, I'm--I'm saying that right here it is a very significant fact. But let's look at this situation. The DA has known about this for some time, yet he still can't pull the trigger. But we now better understand why the Ramseys are under an umbrella of suspicion.
Mr. SILVERMAN: As you so well know, Marcia, lies reveal so much about the truth.
Mr. SILVERMAN: It's the topic earlier.
Professor PAUL ROTHSTEIN (Law Professor, Georgetown University): But I think wor...
Mr. SILVERMAN: People lie--people lie for a reason, and if this is a Ramsey family lie to say that Burke was not there...
Mr. SILVERMAN: ...and apparently, Burke stuck with that story--that's very revealing...
Mr. SILVERMAN: ...and it really throws aside any intruder theory. It does not necessarily then bring us to the point where we can say which Ramsey did what. That's the critical determination.
Prof. ROTHSTEIN: Oh, I think we're overestimating--Marcia...
Prof. ROTHSTEIN: ...I think we're overestimating the importance of this. Yes, it might be significant, but it might just be parents trying to protect their young son from the horrible ordeal of being questioned by the police and having publicity surround him.
Mr. SILVERMAN: Professor Rothstein...
Page 20 of transcript::
Prof. ROTHSTEIN: So they did--they did lie. Now it could--it could also mean that Burke had a role or that he heard or saw something between the parents that showed that they had a role, but--but we're jumping to conclusions here.
Mr. SILVERMAN: Come on. You--you really...
CLARK: Are we really, Paul? Do you have--yeah, go ahead, Craig.
Mr. SILVERMAN: You have to ask yourself this question: Why would the family--the immediate family of this beautiful little girl lie about anything to the police? They're not going to do it.
Prof. ROTHSTEIN: Well, but it--to protect your son. It's the living son. They've lost a daughter. This is the living son.
Mr. SILVERMAN: Protect him from what? Has he been protected?
Prof. ROTHSTEIN: Protect him from the horrible ordeal of being questioned by the police...
Mr. SILVERMAN: Well, h--he's already been questioned.
Prof. ROTHSTEIN: ...about the death of his--about the death--about the death of his sister.
Mr. SILVERMAN: At the time it--at the time this was first said, it was a kidnapping, and maybe the son had some clues. If the parents said, 'No, he didn't witness anything'...
Prof. ROTHSTEIN: Well, they thought they'd question him--they thought they'd question him and see if he had some clues.
Mr. SILVERMAN: No, they s...
Prof. ROTHSTEIN: Now I do admit the other fact is significant that friends--friends and neighbors are now suspicious.
CLARK: Wait, hang--hang on for a second, Paul. Hang onto the other fact.
Prof. ROTHSTEIN: Yeah. Yeah.
CLARK: Howard, you're shaking your head. Why?
Mr. PRICE: Well, I--well, I--I--I--Mr. Silverman knows this case 'cause he's monitoring. Maybe he can address the point a little bit further. Why is this just now coming to light?
Mr. SILVERMAN: Well, because some things don't leak that fast. But beware of the false clue. According to the story, Patsy Ramsey unintentionally left the phone off the hook. If they shift blame toward Burke, Burke was one month shy of his 10th birthday. That's the age of culpability in Colorado, and he could not be charged with a doggone thing.
Prof. ROTHSTEIN: Oh, this is bizarre. This is bizarre...
Mr. SILVERMAN: Well, I'm telling you that...
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Prof. ROTHSTEIN: ...to--to--that they're planting clues to implicate their own son...
Mr. SILVERMAN: Professor Rothstein--no, no.
Prof. ROTHSTEIN: ...planting clues to implicate their own son, that's bizarre.
Mr. SILVERMAN: Professor Rothstein, whoever committed...
CLARK: Not to mention, Craig--let--let me ask you mo...
Mr. SILVERMAN: Whoever committed this crime staged the scene. Gregg McCrary and others have told you that. They are leaving false clues to hide who the killer is.
CLARK: Well, sure, like the ransom note.
Mr. SILVERMAN: Right, exactly.
CLARK: The ransom note, I--I can definitely see that as a false clue that's being left, but nevertheless...
Mr. SILVERMAN: I'm not saying--I'm not saying this is a false clue.
CLARK: Wait a minute. Are you trying to say that a 10-year-old child would've been capable--physically capable of constructing the kind of torqu--torquing device...
Mr. SILVERMAN: No way.
CLARK: ...that was used to kill...
Mr. SILVERMAN: No way am I...
CLARK: ...to strangle JonBenet and is capable of inflicting the kind of damage...
Mr. SILVERMAN: No...
CLARK: ...to her skull the way it was fractured?
Mr. SILVERMAN: Well, th--is the--the first...
CLARK: You're telling me that a 10-year-old boy could do that?
Mr. SILVERMAN: I don't think so. I don't think he could do the garroting. He certainly could not write the ransom note. But it--to the extent--we have seen--we have se...
CLARK: Well, no, I mean, theoret--if you--if we accept your theory--if we accept your theory that they're trying to protect their son, then they would've written the ransom note to deflect, I suppose, the blame, but...
Mr. SILVERMAN: I'm saying just--I'm not saying it--I'm not saying...
Prof. ROTHSTEIN: There are things that point--there are things that point to the parents here. There are things that point to the parents, but this ain't one of them. I mean, this is stringing--yeah.
Mr. SILVERMAN: I'm not saying--I'm not saying...
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CLARK: Oh, you don't think it do--Paul, don't you think it--as--as Howard points out...
Mr. SILVERMAN: Oh, come on.
CLARK: ...don't you think it takes it out of the realm of being an intruder at all? I think it
Prof. ROTHSTEIN: No.
CLARK: ...more than likely to the people inside that house.
Prof. ROTHSTEIN: Oh, listen. I think if something horrible like that happened in my house and I had a little child, a 10-year-old, I--I might not want to expose them to the full glare of publicity...
Mr. SILVERMAN: Well...
Prof. ROTHSTEIN: ...and have--and--and have the police questioning the guy. That's a traumatic experience about death of his sister.
CLARK: Well, Howard, what do you think of that?
Mr. PRICE: Well, I--I--I...
Mr. SILVERMAN: Wouldn't you want the truth to get out?
Mr. PRICE: Listen, I haven't heard the--I haven't heard the tape, but it seems to me you wouldn't have expressed the professor's sentiments in the way that we're told that these sentiments are being expressed.
Mr. PRICE: It just sounds to me to be very incriminating evidence. Seems to me that had they had this evidence, which I assume that they might have--and I have some doubt about this evidence to start with. But putting that aside...
Mr. SILVERMAN: Why?
Mr. PRICE: ...I can't believe--I can't believe that this has not been acted upon by the
authorities a long time ago.
CLARK: Well, at least it--it almost sounds to me like it becomes a fileable case with this if the tone of voice is being accurately depicted.
Mr. SILVERMAN: Well, who do you f--who do you file against, Marcia? Which Ramsey? Which Ramsey did what?
CLARK: Well, I c--oh, I don't know about--see, I don't know about Denver, I don't know about Colorado...
Mr. SILVERMAN: See, it--it...
CLARK: ...but I know in California you can charge them both and let the jury sort it out.
Mr. SILVERMAN: Well, let me--in Colorado there's a big difference between being an accomplice and being an accessory. And that's what the prosecution's probably figuring...
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CLARK: You can't charge them both with both crimes and let the jury sort it out? You can here.
Prof. ROTHSTEIN: It's...
Mr. SILVERMAN: Well, if you don't have proof beyond a reasonable doubt, it's a heck of a thing to charge somebody with first-degree murder.
CLARK: Oh, we gotta go, Craig. Sorry to cut you off. Thanks, everybody, for being our guests. Brian Williams up next on CNBC.