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By the time you get this blog, we will be back on an airplane. We live and sleep on them! We are all pretty good at sleeping sitting up, but it is an expertise you don't want.) We are headed to Chicago for the day, but we will be back in Washington, D.C., by 10 p.m. ET to do the show out of our D.C. bureau. Cross your fingers that we make the flight back because none of us is bringing another set of clothes and I don't want to have to do the show from my cell phone at O'Hare Airport!

Last Friday, as you know, I anchored our show out of Columbus, Ohio. On Monday, I posted some of our pictures from the Columbus Zoo (the reason for our trip to Ohio) on this blog — so today I am posting some behind the scenes pics from the studio in Ohio. As you may also know, John Kasich does his FOX News show, "From the Heartland," on Saturday nights from this Columbus studio so the studio knows our "drill." The people at the studio could not have been nicer or more competent. They made us feel very welcome and provided us with what we needed (computer, printer, TV, etc.) plus soft drinks, etc. Check out the pics posted today by clicking on the link in the photo box above.

I asked my senior producer when we are going to air the video from the zoo and she said we will do many segments over the next two weeks and then do an hour special. We have about four hours of tape, so we have much too show you. We won't show you the full four hours, but we will show you much of the time so that you will feel like you were at the zoo with us.

On another note, an award was given to the prosecutors in the Scott Peterson (search) case. I have posted a press release that was e-mailed to me announcing and describing the award given to all the Scott Peterson prosecutors. Click on the photo in photo box above to finally put a face with the names we discussed for a year. Because of the gag order throughout the trial, you could only rarely get a glimpse of a prosecutor unless you were in Redwood City, California.

E-mail No. 1

I am glad that Lee Peterson finally spoke out— and I agree with a lot of what he has stated. Scott was vilified by the media — and if anyone looks back to the archived news pieces from back in 2003, you can see how it snow balled. On January 3, 2003 the MPD had put out to the press information about Scott's truck and boat — including his license plate number asking the public if they saw him on the 23-24!
The billboards of Scott with him in cuffs stating "Man or Monster" call in and tell us, the fliers, tee shirts, the legal news reporters and their "Anti-Scott" reports, etc. How could he possibly have a fair trial?
A jury of 12 came back with a verdict in four hours — four hours! — of guilt without any doubt ... with no physical evidence, crime scene, no witness, time of death, or cause of death. How could they deliver a verdict that fast on a death case? There was plenty of doubt. I can only assume his fate was sealed when Amber came forth, but should he be executed for having an affair?
This case should be reopened and retried!
Beverly Hills, CA

ANSWER: We have an open invitation to Lee Peterson to come on our show. Today he told one of my bookers that he would not be granting an interview anytime soon and asked her not to call again. He was polite, just not wanting to be bothered by the media (which I can understand.)

E-mail No. 2

Thank you for printing the response to Lee Peterson's letter. He is absolutely right on all counts and has every right to be heard. There has been enough Scott bashing, now lets hear the 'other side'. The same fate would have befallen John Mason if Jennifer had not returned. The media had already started to question whether he would actually take that lie detector test, and it was just a matter of time until every second of his life would have been scrutinized just as Scotts was. Let the truth now be told!
Judy White

E-mail No. 3

My response to Scott Peterson's dad's comment to the Modesto Bee about Scott being innocent, innocent, innocent, is: Mr. Peterson you are in denial, denial, denial!
Rosemary Schultz
Porterville, CA

E-mail No. 4 — The Scott Peterson prosecutors got an award from the National District Attorneys Association. This press release was sent to me Monday. Included in the press release is a picture of all the prosecutors of Scott Peterson. I have attempted to post that pic at the end of this press release.]


ALEXANDRIA, VA. -- May 5, 2005 -- At its recent Board of Directors Meeting, the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) presented its prestigious "Home Run Hitter Award" in recognition of prosecutorial excellence to Stanislaus County District Attorney James Brazelton and his prosecution team: Rick Distaso, Senior Deputy District Attorney; David Harris, Senior Deputy District Attorney; Birgit Fladager, Co-Prosecutor; and, Detective Kevin Bertalatto, Senior Criminal Investigator, for their prosecution of Scott Peterson. Each member of the team was presented an engraved, authentic, Louisville Slugger baseball bat.

As many in America, and indeed the world, recall Laci Peterson, the 27-year-old substitute teacher with memorable beauty and the brightest of smiles, vanished on Christmas Eve 2002. Laci was about a month away from delivering her and her husband, Scott Peterson’s, first child whom they planned to name Conner. Her disappearance struck a deep cord within the public that was immediately noticed by the media. In April 2003, the body of a full-term baby washed up on the shore of the San Francisco Bay. The very next day the badly decomposed body of a woman was found. The media flooded the news on a daily basis concerning the investigation of the missing Laci and Conner, and the subsequent murder trial of her husband, Scott.

James Brazelton assembled a formidable team to prosecute Scott Peterson for the murder of Laci and Conner. And, prosecutors across America knew the difficulties that the members of this team faced in preparing a circumstantial case with the entire nation watching and questioning every move they would make. Scott Peterson’s defense team was well-financed, high-profile and very media savvy.

Throughout the entire investigation and trial, the media and their paid "Monday night quarterbacks" — better known as "former prosecutors-now defense attorneys" were critical of every move the prosecution team made. Over the last couple of decades, it seems like the media rather enjoy vilifying prosecutors, who are the real people’s attorneys. Remember, the burden of proof and seeking of truth lies solely with prosecutors. During this complicated case, the media kept the prosecution under their microscope. But, this prosecution team knew what they were doing and did not talk to the media. They were work-horses, not show-horses, and were absolutely relentless in their efforts to find the truth and seek justice and accountability for the brutal murderer of Laci and Conner.

Finally, after one of those famous California six-month trials, Scott Peterson was found guilty by a serious and conscientious jury and shortly thereafter, was sentenced to death.

NDAA and its approximately 7,500 members applaud Jim Brazelton and his "Superstar Prosecution Team" and share a sense of pride in their success. We are honored to induct Jim Brazelton, Rick Distaso, David Harris, Birgit Fladager and Detective Kevin Bertalatto into the "NDAA Home Run Hitters Club," and recognize their excellence in prosecuting this case. NDAA is the nation’s only organization representing local prosecuting attorneys who handle about 95 percent of all cases and 99 percent of cases involving violent crime in America. NDAA is the voice of America’s prosecutors.

E-mail No. 5 — E-mail from Jim Hammer at the Michael Jackson (search) trial:

Trial Note - May 9, 2005

The day started with the defense attacking the credibility of one of the maids who said she saw Jackson doing inappropriate things with boys at Neverland. The only problem is that both witnesses seemed to have their own problems.

On cross examination, the D.A. implied that the first defense witness was possibly fired for stealing from her employer’s store — though she claimed it was only trespassing. The truth was obscured in court — but the point still came across. The second defense witness was let go by Neverland after Jackson felt she was selling off some of his furniture. She said it was being sold for the benefit of Neverland. If so, why was she let go?

The rest of the day was filled with current Jackson employees describing their interactions with the accuser’s family during the alleged conspiracy to falsely imprison them. Trips shopping in Solvang, a local shop and a drive to the orthodontist don’t exactly sounds like the stuff of false imprisonment. As I have already written here, I think that count is next to finished. Will its undoing also taint the rest of the D.A.'s case? That’s the question on my mind. Stay tuned…
Jim Hammer
Santa Maria Courthouse

E-mail No. 6

Subject: Laura note

The first full week of the defense case is underway in Santa Maria and, apparently, this is going to take a while.

Ramone Bain, Michael Jackson's spokesperson talked to reporters after court. She told us the defense case should last 8-10 more weeks. The crowd of reporters let out a deafening groan. Bain doesn't come here too often, so when she shows up reporters ask her as many questions as we can get for first hand information on Jackson. She said Jackson's spirits remain high because of his defense team's efforts. But that the trial in general has made him unhappy: "Michael wants the world to know he did not molest any children." One reporter asked her if Jackson would tell jurors that himself and take the stand. Answer: "He would not be opposed to testifying if his attorney says he should." I asked her if Michael WANTS to take the stand, I got the same vague answer. If Mesereau (search) wants him to, he will. I said, "That's nice ... but does Michael WANT to take the stand?" She said the same thing, he will if Mesereau wants him to.

So far this week, Jackson's attorneys have put on five former and current Neverland Ranch employees. Neverland security chief, Violet Silva, testified that the teenage accuser and his younger brother had to be stopped from driving an SUV and Astro van around the ranch (M.J. and staff always left the keys in the vehicles). That might explain the security directive to not allow the kid off the property when he was allegedly being held against his will. A couple of former maids said they never saw anything inappropriate between Jackson and young boys. Francine Contreras said she never heard Adrian McManus say she saw anything inappropriate. She was a maid called by the prosecution who said she saw Jackson touch Macaulay Culkin. Contreras says McManus had sticky fingers and lifted Jackson's PJs, hats, watches and shirts to display at her home. Ramon Velasco, a gardener turned chef at Neverland, (he told jurors he used to keep deer from eating flowers) also said he saw nothing inappropriate. On cross exam, he was asked if he saw Jackson and his young house guests once they went behind the closed doors of Jackson's master bedroom? He said no. "No further questions."

Joe Marcus returns to the stand in the morning. He is the current ranch manager. He has a shaved head, clean cut and was wearing a crisp looking suit. He told jurors he drove the teenage accuser and his family out of Neverland a few times during the time frame they saw they were held against their will. Marcus smiled a few times at Jackson. He also seemed to try to make eye contact with several jurors — studying their faces when he was being asked questions by Jackson's attorney Robert Sanger.

Jackson was fidgeting a lot in court today — his spokesperson said that is because his back is hurting him again.

E-mail No. 7

I work for a large hospital network in East Texas where one is not allowed to say there is a "problem" — it is only acceptable to say that there is an "issue." The founding fathers feel that this a more positive spin: saying that one has a "problem" implies a negative, while saying there is an "issue" implies no ownership (or blame) and can be resolved positively while "nurturing" all of our needs.
Frankly, I think I may be nurturing a drinking issue pretty soon if these "issues" are not resolved.

Finally, as an aside, it is reported in Tuesday's Washington Post gossip column — which I am sure you don't get delivered to your doorstep — that NBC's Katie Couric (search) gave up her coveted aisle seat on a flight out of D.C. and willingly took a dreaded middle seat. She has recently been criticized by some as being a diva. Divas don't give up aisle seats on planes for a dreaded middle seat. She does not sound like a diva to me.

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