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PAULA ZAHN NOW
Interview With Tom Sneddon; Interview With Brian Oxman
Aired June 14, 2005 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome, everybody. Glad to have you with us tonight.
Tonight, Michael Jackson is home at Neverland. And the man who prosecuted him is left trying to sort out what went wrong with his case.
Well, the headline writers have certainly had their ideas. Take a look at a couple of these today. "Boy, Oh, Boy." And in this other New York tabloid, "Boy, Oh, Boy" part two. Boy, a lot of creativity in the papers this morning. "Jackson Free."
And, in just a moment, you'll understand more of what the critics are saying about the way the DA handled this case. In a moment, Tom Sneddon himself will join me for his first prime-time interview since the verdict. We'll get a close-up look inside the prosecution.
First, though, he happens to be the focus of tonight's "PEOPLE IN THE NEWS" profile.
ZAHN (voice-over): In the controversial 2003 documentary about his life at Neverland, Michael Jackson declares: I am Peter Pan.
MICHAEL JACKSON, MUSICIAN: I am Peter Pan.
MARTIN BASHIR, DOCUMENTARIAN: No, you're not. You are Michael Jackson.
JACKSON: I'm Peter Pan in my heart.
ZAHN: Santa Barbara County district attorney Thomas Sneddon sees Jackson differently and has for a long time. Sneddon tried to build a child molestation case against Jackson back in 1993, a case that eventually fell apart when Jackson made a multimillion-dollar deal with that boy's family and they stopped cooperating with authorities.
TOM SNEDDON, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: At this point, we have concluded the investigation.
ZAHN: But he'll never forget Michael Jackson, and Jackson will never forget Sneddon. In his 1995 album, "HIStory," and a song called "D.S.," a thinly veiled reference that didn't fool anyone, Jackson launches a blistering attack on Dom Sheldon.
JACKSON (singing): You know he really tried to take me down by surprise. I bet he listened with the CIA. He don't do half what he say. Dom Sheldon is a cold man. Dom Sheldon is a cold man.
ZAHN: Thomas Sneddon is 63, a father of nine children. He's been Santa Barbara County's DA for 22 years, building a reputation as a tough law and order man and an effective prosecutor, but he hasn't been immune to criticism.
Sneddon apologized for making light of Jackson's music when he announced the new molestation case in November of 2003.
SNEDDON: Jackson himself I believe has said that this was all done to try to ruin his new C.D. that was coming out or whatever it is he's doing, like the sheriff and I really are into that kind of music. But...
ZAHN: There was sharper criticism during the trial. Analysts said Sneddon built a weak case around what some saw as a questionable accuser.
SNEDDON: People come in and they're the victims of crime. We don't select our victims and we don't select the families they come from.
ZAHN: Facing reporters after yesterday's stinging verdict, Sneddon was unapologetic and didn't rule out the possibility of going after Jackson again if new allegations ever arose.
SNEDDON: We'd review it like any other case we review in our office, just like we reviewed this one.
QUESTION: You wouldn't shy from it now?
SNEDDON: Well, the answer to the question, truthfully, is, I probably wouldn't, if it was a good case, but I think we all learned some lessons here and that -- we thought we had a good case this time.
ZAHN: Sneddon is serving his sixth and what he says will be his last term as Santa Barbara County's DA, a term now punctuated with a less-than-satisfying conclusion.
ZAHN: And joining me now from Santa Barbara for his first prime- time interview since the verdict, DA Tom Sneddon.
Good of you to join us, sir. Welcome.
Why did you lose this case?
SNEDDON: Well, I think you should probably ask the jury that.
We felt we put on a good case. I think I have made it very clear to everybody I'm not going to be apologetic for what we did. We did our job. We thought it was a persuasive case. We thought we should have won the case, that we had enough evidence that was credible and believable. And we all believed in the young man. Gavin is a wonderful, wonderful young man.
And -- and we just. There isn't a person who has met him that doesn't believe in him and believe in what his story was. And, frankly, if you looked at that video of him when he made his disclosure to law enforcement, was that -- which was the last thing in the trial, I think it's pretty difficult for people to see that and not really say that this young man was molested.
ZAHN: But that's not what the jurors said in their verdict.
And, in fact, one after the other basically said they transferred the sins of the mother to the son, and they didn't find her believable at all, and they think that's what cost you the case. Let's listen to a little of what they had to say shortly after the verdict came down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just couldn't buy the story of the mother, for one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What mother in her right mind would allow that to happen, or just freely volunteer your child to sleep with someone?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I disliked it intensely when she snapped her fingers at us. That is when I thought, don't snap your fingers at me, lady.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Mr. Sneddon, do you think the mother's accuser cost you this case?
SNEDDON: Well, I don't think there's any question that we knew going into the trial that the mother was a difficult person.
But the fact of the matter is, you don't visit the sins of the parent on the child. And the fact of the matter is that the child, we believed in the child. And we believed in the case, and we believed that there was sufficient corroboration for what the children said occurred. And so, whether it be Michael Jackson or John Smith or whoever it may be, this is the kind of case that a sheriff investigates.
The sheriff believed in this case and their detectives believed in this case. And we believed in this case. And, like I said, I'm not going to apologize for what we did. We did a really good job on this case. And the fact that the jury doesn't believe it or doesn't agree, that's -- that's -- doesn't mean that we didn't do the right thing for the right reasons and we didn't put on a credible evidence -- case.
ZAHN: But the truth is, you...
SNEDDON: It just means that there's 12 people out there that just don't agree with us. And that's the way it goes. That's why we have a system.
ZAHN: But you did have the option of not putting the accuser's mother on the stand. In retrospect...
SNEDDON: No, you don't. You don't have that option.
If you're a lawyer, you know that, if you don't call her, the other side does. And then it looks like you're trying to hide something. So, I mean, you don't have that option. And any trial lawyer will tell you that.
ZAHN: But you knew she was going to be vulnerable to cross- examination. Was there anything you could have done differently to make her stand up better to the withering attacks?
ZAHN: Not a thing? Not in the preparation? Nothing you could have done?
SNEDDON: Well, look, you weren't there and I was. And I can tell you that we had many conversations with Janet Arvizo.
And what you saw on the stand is what you get. And we felt that we did the best we could with a very difficult person. But, like I said, the fact of the matter is, I find that juror's comment rather interesting, in light of the fact that there were three defense witnesses, mothers who testified that they did the same thing with their children, only worse.
And then we even put on witnesses in our case, Mrs. Chandler, who did the same thing with her child. And whether you think that's good parenting or not raises the question with me that, if it's not good parenting and you believe that that wasn't a good thing to do, then doesn't that kind of imply that that just made the children susceptible to being molested?
SNEDDON: I mean, doesn't that follow logically and with conclusion and with force? And, if it does, the fact that there's a bad mother there, why is that -- why should you -- why should you punish the child?
ZAHN: Well, do you think that's what the jury did here? SNEDDON: Well, I -- you know, you interviewed them. And that was the comment they made, so, apparently, that had some factor or some role in it.
But, I -- like I said, I haven't talked to the jury. Whatever reports I've gotten, I've gotten through people like you and the other media people. And if that's what they're saying, I mean, I understand. And we understood that Janet Arvizo was a person that would -- that was going to be difficult.
But if you -- if you looked at her testimony, and then you looked at the things that she was corroborated with -- and that's probably one of the things that we relied on pretty heavily -- is some of the things that she said sounded fairly bizarre until you went out and you found tape recordings where the defense's own conspirators were admitting that she was -- that exactly that happened.
So, I just tell you that, again, that this was not a case where Janet Arvizo was placed on the stand without any corroboration of the information that she was given. There was a good deal of corroboration at a number of different places, that, despite the fact that she's a difficult woman and can be, that she was telling the truth, in some respects. And, in other respects, the jury didn't think so.
That's -- that's their prerogative. And that's why they're the jury and we're not.
ZAHN: The other thing we heard from jurors, that the timeline was very difficult to grasp, and that they didn't buy into the fact that this molestation would have come after the alleged cover-up.
SNEDDON: Well, I don't know what to tell you.
It seems me that if you're -- first of all, I don't want to talk about Mr. Jackson, OK? But let me just talk generically. Generically speaking, pedophiles don't have a whole lot of control over when they molest and when they stop molesting. You know, if you check with any person who is an expert on pedophilia, they'll tell you that.
Second of all, if you were going to -- and, again, I want to make it clear I'm talking generically -- if you were going to molest somebody, wouldn't you feel like you were home-free if you already had a video in which they praised you to the hilt and said that nothing happened? It seems to me, you've -- you've immunized yourself in some respect from any future allegations.
And so, you know, I think it needs some thoughtfulness as to whether or not that isn't exactly the time that somebody is more vulnerable than before. Now, I -- I -- I mean, they didn't see it that way. And I tell you, I'm not arguing with the jury, but -- verdict. But I'm just telling you that there is -- if you analyze it and you -- and you look at it, it's not so preposterous to believe that somebody would do it in that situation. And that's all I'm telling you, Paula.
ZAHN: Are -- does that mean you are still convinced that Michael Jackson is a pedophile?
SNEDDON: I made no such statement.
I've told you, I'm convinced in the -- in our case. And I've not wavered on that. And I'm not apologetic for it. All of us involved in this investigation believed that we had credible evidence that would have sustained a conviction on appeal, had the jury believed the case that we put on. And that's -- that's as much as I'm saying.
ZAHN: Finally, in closing tonight, everybody describes your burying your head in your hands as the verdict came down. Was the verdict a complete surprise to you?
SNEDDON: Well, that's not true. I didn't bury my hands in my head. Whoever told you that is full of baloney.
ZAHN: It's in a number of newspaper reports in various newspapers from across the country today.
SNEDDON: I -- I'm -- listen, that doesn't surprise me. There's newspapers that are making up stories about me and other people in the courtroom that have no substance to them. It didn't happen.
ZAHN: But were you surprised?
SNEDDON: I can tell you, it did not happen.
ZAHN: Were you surprised by the verdict?
SNEDDON: Was I surprised? I was disappointed.
I had the file in front of me. And anybody who was in there and paying attention would have seen that I was writing down the verdicts, each count as they were read. I had a pen in my hand and my head was up. My head was up the entire time. So, whoever said that, they don't know what they're talking about, which is not something unusual in this case.
ZAHN: Well, we have to leave it there this evening.
Tom Sneddon, thank you again for your time tonight. We really appreciate your being with us.
SNEDDON: You're welcome.
ZAHN: And please join "LARRY KING LIVE" at the top of the hour for his exclusive interview with Michael Jackson's leader defense lawyer, Thomas Mesereau.
Still to come tonight, will the verdict mean a second chance at life for Michael Jackson?
ZAHN (voice-over): What's going on in the Jackson camp? We'll get the inside story from a friend and Jackson family lawyer. When we come back, attorney Brian Oxman.
And, suddenly in Aruba, a possible break in the mystery of Natalee Holloway's disappearance. A man once held in custody speaks out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When push come to shove and nothing was going on, he decided to tell the truth to authorities.
ZAHN: A new search begins.
ZAHN: On the right, Michael Jackson's lead defense attorney, Thomas Mesereau. On the left, Jackson family attorney Brian Oxman. That exchange took place April 25. Not long after that, Oxman lost his place at the defense table.
Joining me now from Los Angeles, Brian Oxman herself.
Before we get to the verdict, what the heck were the two of you talking about there?
BRIAN OXMAN, JACKSON FAMILY ATTORNEY: There was a disagreement in the manner in which this defense was going to be handled.
And, in a high-powered case with high-powered attorneys, that's exactly what you're going to have. And when those disagreements arise, sometimes, they can be detrimental. And the result of that disagreement was, is, I simply exited from the presence in Santa Maria.
But I have continued to be Michael Jackson's attorney. I am still the attorney of record in the Santa Maria case. And I am handling Michael's marital dissolution matter with Debbie Rowe and several civil lawsuits, including one with the unindicted co- conspirator Mark Schaffel.
ZAHN: All right.
OXMAN: Michael is my man, and I like him.
ZAHN: All right. So, you can't be unhappy with the verdict that this jury came to. Are you going to tell me tonight that there was something that Mr. Mesereau did that strategically didn't work?
OXMAN: Strictly was a difference of opinion as to how this matter should be handled, what we should do with regard to handling the defense of this case. And differences of opinion happen all the time with attorneys.
ZAHN: Let's talk about how Michael Jackson is doing today. I know you have been on the phone with Randy today. Not a whole lot of family friends have been invited to Neverland. I understand Mr. Jackson's been spending a lot of time sleeping.
OXMAN: He has been resting today.
It has been an incredible, trying experience. This case involved so much. It was monumental. It was a battle of the titans. And when you go through a war of this nature, where there was only to be one left standing at the end of that war, Michael was the one who prevailed. The jury said no to the charges. And he is exhausted. And I don't blame him.
ZAHN: Brian, you say that Michael prevailed. And yet, one of the jurors said that he feels that Michael Jackson has probably molested boys along the way.
Let's listen to what he told us all after the verdict came down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't believe that this man could sleep in the same bedroom for 365 straight days and not do something more than just watch television and eat popcorn.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: All right, so they didn't believe this accuser. They didn't believe this case. This juror believes this has happened in the past.
Do you think Mr. Jackson will change his lifestyle as a result of what he's endured since January?
OXMAN: I think what this juror was talking about was the testimony of Brett Barnes, which is some 12 years in the past.
Michael has explained that by saying it was innocent. Nothing ever happened. Brett Barnes said nothing ever happened. And I think we have to take him and the witness for their word. They said that's exactly what it was.
ZAHN: But don't you have to acknowledge that just because the fact that he's allowed young men into his bed leaves him open to the perceptions that all kinds of things went on in that house?
OXMAN: I hear you, Paula. And it is something which really was the foundation of this case. It was what really was the source of bringing this case to start with.
Michael has said publicly -- and he's said it privately -- that he's never again going to expose himself in this manner. He will never permit anyone to make this kind of accusation, which means he's just not going to allow anyone into his life that would make this kind of statement regarding him. So, when we ask, has there been a change? Yes, indeed. I'm kind of sorry that it has resulted in that kind of change, because Michael does marvelous things for children. But he's said publicly and privately he will never again expose himself to these kinds of accusations.
ZAHN: Brian Oxman, thank you for your perspective tonight. Appreciate your joining us.
OXMAN: Thank you, Paula.
ZAHN: And coming up in just a few minutes, we're going to get an update from Aruba, where it has been a day of developments in the search for a missing American teenager, some really interesting things to talk about on that front.
Later, the people of a Southern town coming to grips with the most shameful chapter of their history.
First, though, just about 22 minutes past the hour. Time for Erica Hill of Headline News to update the other top stories.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Paula. Hi.
We start off in Washington, where even some Republicans, we know, are critical of the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo. But the secretary of defense is not one of them. Again, today, Donald Rumsfeld staunchly defended the administration's policy, saying traditional methods of handling prisoners don't work in the war on terror.
Seven people survived a plunge into New York Harbor today when their tourist helicopter went down shortly after takeoff. The tourists were couples from Britain, France and Australia.
And media giant Viacom is going to split itself into two companies. The new Viacom will include MTV and Paramount Pictures. The other company will be the CBS Corporation and will include the broadcast networks.
You know, in the world of retail, it really doesn't get much bigger than Wal-Mart.
Valerie Morris has our "Market Mover."
VALERIE MORRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wal-Mart is the world's largest retailer and one of the most successful companies of all time.
It's a $285 billion giant with more than 5,000 stores. However, Wal-Mart missed profit forecasts last quarter and it's facing lots of criticism for everything from alleged discrimination against women and labor law violations to wiping out small mom-and-pop retailers. As its battle grows with these image problems, Wal-Mart is changing the game plan. It hopes to revive sales with profit growth with, among other things, cleaner stores, better treatment of employees and more upscale goods, like organic food and trendy clothes.
HILL: And that's the latest from Headline News at this hour -- Paula, back over to you.
ZAHN: See you in about a half-hour or so. Thanks so much, Erica.
Our next stop is Aruba, where there are now conflicting stories about exactly what happened to missing U.S. teenager Natalee Holloway. We're going to hear from a man who was once held in the case and is now free. He's dropped a bombshell.
ZAHN: We are following developments in Aruba tonight in the search for 18-year-old Natalee Holloway. The Alabama teenager disappeared more than two weeks ago while on a senior class trip.
Today, acting on what appears to be new information, authorities cordoned off an area near a beachfront hotel and searched the water and the shore. They wrapped up that search just a short while ago, apparently, finding nothing.
Yesterday, authorities released two security guards arrested 10 days ago in the case. Coming up, I'll be talking with one of them.
First, though, Karl Penhaul takes us through what we've been learning about the critical moments in the mystery of Natalee Holloway's disappearance.
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Neon lights pull in the gamblers and the curious, drawn by the ringing of quarters in the slot machines, the spin of the roulette wheel, the roll of the dice.
JAN VAN DER STRATEN, ARUBAN POLICE COMMISSIONER: They meet each other in the casino.
QUESTION: That day or a previous day or...
VAN DER STRATEN: The day before.
PENHAUL: Police say Natalee Holloway was here in the Holiday Inn casino on Saturday night, May 28. It was her first known contact with one of the suspects, Joran Van Der Sloot, the 17-year-old son of an Aruban judge.
More neon lights, this time outside Carlos 'n Charlie's bar. Holloway came here to party the following Sunday night. She was with high school friends. She may not have realized she was taking a gamble of a different kind. The bar is in Aruba's capital, Oranjestad, about 15 minutes drive from the Holiday Inn, where Holloway and her classmates were staying.
Joran Van Der Sloot and brothers Satish and Deepak Kalpoe, seen here in photos printed in an Aruban newspaper, showed up at about 10:45, according to statements the Kalpoes made to investigators and seen by the defense attorney for another man who has now been cleared of links to Natalee Holloway's disappearance.
CHRIS LEJUEZ, ATTORNEY FOR ARUBAN SUSPECT: And one of them stated that Joran danced with her.
PENHAUL: According to police, it was around 1:00 a.m., closing time early Monday, when Natalee Holloway's friends watched her walk out of the bar and into a silver gray car with Van Der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers. What we know about what happened next comes from those who have read the Kalpoe brothers' statements.
LEJUEZ: After they got into the car, one of them says, she wanted to see the other side of the island. And the other one says, she wanted to see -- to go have a look at the sharks.
PENHAUL: You can make it to the lighthouse from Carlos 'n Charlie's in around 20 minutes. The Kalpoes were said to be up front, Holloway and Van Der Sloot in the back.
LEJUEZ: They say that he was not only kissing her, but fondling her sexually.
PENHAUL: It's called California Lighthouse. It's a tourist attraction by day, by night, an isolated romantic rendezvous. It's not clear the car even stopped. But, even in the moonlight, from here, it would have been tough for Holloway to see any sharks.
LEJUEZ: One says they drove by the lighthouse. The other one says they -- they did not get out of the car.
PENHAUL: As they looped back around, they would have passed Arashi Beach. Experts say if you dump an object here, the current will drag it west toward open ocean.
According to Lejuez, the suspect's statement denies stopping at the beach but the area was searched shortly after Holloway's disappearance.
From Aruba's northwest tip, Lejuez he says the Kalpoe brothers' statement describes heading back to the Holiday Inn.
LEJUEZ: One of them states she fell asleep and they had to wake her up to ask her what hotel she was staying.
PENHAUL: When they dropped off Holloway, Lejuez quotes the statement of one of the Kalpoe brothers saying she was drunk and stumbled from the car. The other statement, Lejuez says, describes Holloway talking to a security guard, dressed in black pants and a T-shirt. Based on the statements, two security guards, Mickey John and Abraham Jones, were arrested six days after Holloway went missing.
They were released late Monday night after prosecutors decided there was no hard evidence against them. Van Der Sloot and the Kalpoe brothers were arrested around dawn last Thursday.
Prosecutors formally accused them of murder one, murder two and kidnapping leading to death. But Dutch law is different from American law, and they've not yet been formally charged.
Defense lawyers for the three young men maintain their clients' innocence.
ANTONIO CARLO, ATTORNEY FOR JORAN VAN DER SLOOT: My client has maintained that he is innocent.
PENHAUL: Law enforcement sources close to the investigation say cracks are appearing in Van Der Sloot's and the Kalpoes' stories, a view shared by one of the freed security guards who spoke to Deepak Kalpoe in jail.
MICKEY JOHN, SECURITY GUARD: He told me the story about dropping her off at the Holiday Inn was made up. He dropped the Dutch guy with the missing girl close to the Marriott and he and his brother went home.
PENHAUL: Those the law enforcement sources say their accounts may be murky and the description of the facts not quite the same. But one indisputable fact: Natalee Holloway is missing without a trace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: That was Karl Penhaul reporting for us.
Joining me from Aruba, Mickey John, one of the security guards detained and now released in the case.
Good of you to join us. Even though you have said you've been innocent from the time of your arrest, was there a part of you that was afraid that you in some way were going to be officially tied to miss Holloway's disappearance?
JOHN: No, not at all, ma'am. Because I knew I was totally innocent. And there was nothing, no concrete evidence, nothing that led to my, you know, contact with this young lady, at no time at all.
ZAHN: Are you bitter about being held for something you had nothing to do with?
JOHN: Of course. I did not like it at all.
ZAHN: As it turns out, you have been quite helpful to police. You have shared with them a story that you heard while you were in jail from a man named Deepak Kalpoe, one of three men now being held on suspicion of having something to do with the disappearance of Natalee Holloway.
What did he tell you?
JOHN: He told me that he, his brother and the Dutch guy drove from Carlos 'N Charlie's and they went straight to the lighthouse with the girl. Deepak was driving. His brother was sitting next to him in the front. Natalee was sitting behind Deepak. And the Dutch guy was sitting behind his brother.
They went to the lighthouse. He didn't tell me what they did at the lighthouse. But he said on the way back they dropped the Dutch boy and Natalee close to the Marriott Hotel.
ZAHN: Did he describe to you what state either one of them were in?
JOHN: He said Natalee was very, very drunk, highly intoxicated.
ZAHN: Do you believe his account of what happened?
JOHN: Well, personally, I think he is holding back something. He didn't tell me nothing more, but I think he's holding back something. He's very, very calm. He was very calm at all times. And he say he should be released very soon and he'd try to convince the Dutch guy to confess.
ZAHN: He believes the Dutch man, Joran Van Der Sloot, is responsible for the disappearance of Natalee?
JOHN: According to his statement, yes.
ZAHN: If you were able to talk to Natalee Holloway's parents tonight, what would you tell them?
JOHN: Of course, my heart goes out to them, And 24 hours a day, I am with them in prayers. I hope that they recover the missing girl alive.
ZAHN: Well, we wish you luck now that you've been released. Good luck to you.
JOHN: Thank you very much, ma'am.
ZAHN: Coming up next, a crime that shocked the entire world and still haunts a Southern town.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were good and decent people then who clearly did not feel like this was right.
ZAHN: Stay with us for a trip to Philadelphia, where they're finally facing the ghosts of "Mississippi Burning."
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: This was day two of jury selection in a murder case that has haunted Mississippi and all of America for 41 years to. The victims were three young men who were helping register blacks to vote during the Freedom Summer of 1964. It was a horrifying crime and a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement.
Here's is our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Edgar Ray Killen is the first to be tried for the murders of three civil rights workers. It is a trial 41 years in the making about the fate of one 80-year-old man and justice for three young men, whose murders still tear at the hearts of people they never met.
JEWELL MCDONALD, PHILADELPHIA, MISSISSIPPI RESIDENT: They had come here to help us. I guess it's just the idea of someone coming to help you and they lose their life over it. And it just is sad to me. You know, it seemed like nobody cared.
CROWLEY: It is a trial about the soul of a town.
DICK MOLPUS, FRMR. MISSISSIPPI SEC. OF STATE: The only way we can get about real racial reconciliation is through the justice. And with that, I think, will come atonement.
CROWLEY: Forty-one years ago, they lived in the same town in different worlds. An 18-year-old black girl...
MCDONALD: The blacks had curfews and the whites didn't. My husband could walk to the theater with his brothers. And people in this area, they would chase him when they'd get out of the movie. They would chase him. The deputy sheriffs would just chase him and, "Run, nigger," just to watch them, just to aggravate people.
CROWLEY: A 14-year-old white boy...
MOLPUS: I don't remember this real hatred. But you could feel it brewing, because you can't keep people down like that and deny them of their rights.
As it moved into '63, '64, that escalated, particularly with the announcement that the Freedom Summer was going to occur.
CROWLEY: Freedom Summer, an effort to register Southern blacks to vote, a summer that changed a nation and convulsed the town of Philadelphia, Mississippi.
JIM PRINCE, EDITOR, "NESHOBA DEMOCRAT": It's right at the top. This is Pearl Harbor of the Civil Rights Movement.
CROWLEY: FBI investigation and the testimony of a Ku Klux Klan informant established the facts.
June, 1964, three civil rights workers, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner of New York, and James Chaney of Meridian, Mississippi, were to spend the summer registering blacks to vote. On the night of the 21st, they were chased down a stretch of Mississippi road by three to four cars full of KKK members. Overtaken, the three were beaten and shot to death in the middle of nowhere. The FBI searched for 44 days before they found the bodies, 44 days is the black-white fissures on the surface of Philadelphia, Mississippi, were exposed as giant gulfs.
MCDONALD: Right away we knew somebody had them. Somebody had, you know -- they weren't dead yet, but they would be.
MOLPUS: There was a belief that this was a hoax. They're hiding up north. This is an attempt to -- the news media is just making poor innocent Philadelphia citizens look bad.
CROWLEY: At that time, no federal law covered the murders, so the feds brought charges of conspiracy to violate the civil rights of another. Edgar Ray Killen's trial ended in a hung jury. Seven others were found guilty. None served more than six years. Philadelphia became a focal point for the civil rights movement, but the state of Mississippi did not, would not, bring murder charges. The town went silent.
PRINCE: There were good and decent people then who clearly did not feel like this was right, but for whatever reason, they never managed to raise a hand, and very clearly, take a stand for justice, and I just don't know. I mean, we can't -- I can't explain it.
CROWLEY: On the 25th anniversary of the murders, Carolyn Goodman, mother of one of the slain men, went to Philadelphia for a ceremony, and so did Mississippi secretary of state.
MOLPUS: We deeply regret what happened here 25 years ago. We wish we could undo it. We are profoundly sorry that they are gone. We wish we could bring them back.
CROWLEY: We're sorry. In 25 years, nobody had said those words on behalf of the town. It was 1989 and Philadelphia was changing.
MOLPUS: I would walk down the street and have strangers come up and hug my neck and say, you know, thank you so much. You've said what's been in my heart for years and -- a very positive response. At the same time, I ended up with numerous death threats and a few go-to- hell letters.
CROWLEY: As Dick was trying to force a town to remember the mayhem of the summer of '64, Jewel McDonald was busy forgetting. Her church had been burned down. Her mother and brother had been beaten. She had moved to Ohio for 30 years. She returned to Philadelphia to care for her mother in the mid-90s and that's when she couldn't stop the remembering.
MCDONALD: They were lighting candles for the people that was at the church that night that was beaten and it just sort of hit me and I thought, oh, dear. So, then I thought, well, we got to do something. You know, we've got to try and get something done, you know. We've got to -- I got to get rid of this feeling here.
CROWLEY: This is the Philadelphia Coalition. It is getting something done. It was formed 2004, as the 40th anniversary loomed. Just people in a room, talking.
PRINCE: I think the whites listen more to what the blacks are saying, and justice was a big issue, and there was clearly some guilt on the part of the whites was expressed, and that guilt, you know, for the first time, some black members -- they'd never seen that. They didn't know anybody in the white community cared.
CROWLEY: In a town where that part of history is not even in the school books, they opted to open the wound to heal it. They held a news conference, asking the Mississippi attorney general to seek justice for Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney.
MCDONALD: I think bringing somebody to justice and convicting them of something that they did 40 years ago, I think that would make it a lot easier for me, because I believe that Killens was behind -- giving the orders for the killing.
CROWLEY: The Philadelphia coalition is black, white and native American. Some are too young to remember; most are too scarred to forget, all, fighting for the soul of a town.
MOLPUS: So watch what's happening the next few months. I think you're going to see some real redemption in my hometown.
CROWLEY: In January of 2005, a grand jury of Mississippians indicted Edgar Ray Killen for murder. He will be tried by a jury of peers in the town of Philadelphia.
ZAHN: Candy Crowley reporting for us tonight. Just one side of how times have changed: the jury was all white in Killen's civil rights trial back in 1967. Well, this time the jury pool is about one-quarter black. We'll be right back.
ZAHN: Coming up, some people go barking after new customers and Jeanne Moos is waiting. But first, time for another look at the headlines at just about 12 minutes before the hour with Erica Hill of Headline News.
HILL: Thanks, Paula.
More violence rattling Iraq today. Suicide bombing in Kirkuk claimed the largest number of lives, at least 19 people were killed. An American soldier died in a rocket-propelled grenade attack in Baghdad, while in Ramadi, U.S. Marines killed five Iraqi civilians when their car failed to stop at a road block.
President Bush returned from a trip to Pennsylvania today, telling future farmers it would be unfair not to change the Social Security system. He said some key Senate Republicans may be ready to propose raising the retirement age to 69. It is now 65-and-a-half.
And how's this for double good luck? In Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Donna Gephardt walks to her local deli with her hubby where they buy scratchoff lottery tickets. Well, last Friday, that walk certainly paid off. She won $1 million -- again. Again, because earlier this year, she bought a $1 million winner at the very same deli. That's a 419-million-to-1 chance. Might have to become friends with her.
Paula, that's the latest from Headlines. Back to you.
ZAHN: Thanks, Erica. I think I'd move into that deli.
Coming up in 10 minutes or so, "LARRY KING LIVE." Larry, you've got a big exclusive, tonight. We have the warring attorneys. I had the district attorney of Santa Barbara, you got the lead defense attorney for Michael Jackson.
Larry: I watched Mr. Sneddon. Tom Mesereau's on for the full hour tonight, Paula. We'll be taking your phone calls. He's certainly the man of the hour, the man Lauri Levenson (ph), a Loyola law professor called, on cross-examination, the best she's ever seen in a courtroom. Tom Mesereau for the hour, with phone calls, right at the -- in 10 minutes, Paula, following Pa-u-la.
ZAHN: I promise, we'll be on time, Larry. See you at the top of the hour. Thanks.
Coming up next, the tale of a new variation on a familiar sales pitch. Aw! Jeannie Moos shows us how one company is trying to fetch some new business. Don't go away. Sorry about the pun.
ZAHN: Remember the old Tupperware parties? You might, if you're a fossil like I am. Tupperware has given away to Pupperware. House parties all about pets, instead of plastic, and party-goers often arrive on a leash. Jeanne Moos explains.
JEANNE MOOS, CORRESPONDENT: Does the idea of combining shopping with socializing leave you panting with excitement? Prepare for a Pupperware party, the four-legged version of that blast from a past.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a Tupperware party and it's really fun.
MOOS: You want fun? Invite a dozen or so friends and their dogs to somebody's house, where a pet consultant demonstrates a table full of products.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have something called Stud Spritz.
MOOS: From dog cologne to pet breath mints...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will if you will. MOOS: Actually, they weren't bad.
Or maybe your dog's dried, cracked paws could use a little paw balm -- and what does the hostess who volunteers her house get out of this?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I get a percentage.
MOOS: A percentage worth of free pet products. A pet consultant who goes from house to house gets a percentage of the sales.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I average probably about $200 for myself out of every party.
MOOS: And what did Bailey get? The product called the Tugginator. The Tugginator was designed for tugging, not chewing, so once Bailey destroyed it, they gave him an indestructible rubber bone.
Pets are encouraged to test products at Pupperware parties. They're run by an outfit called Shure Pets. Shure Pets competition is another company called Petlane.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your carseat belt either goes through here...
MOOS: From dog seatbelts to the Thing-a-ma-jig, Petlane prides itself on stimulating products like the Bear Hug, with the pressure activated heartbeat to soothe your pet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You actually hear boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.
MOOS: Instead of hugging his bear, Dylan here chewed, licked, and dragged it. Petlane invites owners but not dogs to its house "pawties" as it calls them, fearing dogs may fight. That was not the case at the Shure Pet party where Reagan conked out while Freddy and Bailey took turns catching popcorn -- popcorn for dogs.
The only problem with this Pupperware party was the pupper-wear- and-tear on the brand new white rug, baptized with Paw Balm. Maybe they can used the medicated dog shampoo they're sniffing to shampoo the rug.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whoops.
ZAHN: For the record, my beloved Nigel, the cutest West Highland Terrier in the world, was not invited, not quite up to the white carpet test. Jeanne Moos, thanks so much.
Coming up, your pick for our "Person for the Day." Please stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAHN: Tomorrow night you're going to meet an absolutely amazing American patriotic family. Four brothers, all in the National Guard, all deployed in Iraq, after their father, and another brother returned from combat. Brothers in arms. Check out that picture. Tomorrow, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
So, who was your pick for "Person of the Day?" The Michael Jackson fan who released 10 white doves after his acquittal? Jackson's lead defense lawyer, Thomas Mesereau, or Jackson's media coordinator, for persuading the jury to speak with the media after the verdict came down.
And 55 percent of you chose lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau, who got his client of a number of charges, 10 of them in all.
Our "Person of the Day" is "LARRY KING LIVE"'s guest for the next hour. It starts right now. Thanks for joining us tonight.
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