What a Difference a Year Makes

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Unexpectedly we are “on the road” again today. I did not get word that I would be sent to Los Angeles until yesterday afternoon. So… in an hour, we head to Dulles airport and on to L.A. (we land about 3 hours prior to show time.) Our show will be out of our L.A. bureau — obviously. Tomorrow we have a long day of interviewing in L.A. and thus the reason we are going out today. And tomorrow night? My favorite (I say sarcastically)… the redeye back to Washington, D.C. In case you think our travel schedule indicates we are nuts, you might be right. The thought has also crossed my mind.

Today I have posted some great pictures of Catherine Herridge and her son Peter taken exactly one year after Catherine gave part of her liver to Peter so that he could live. A year ago Peter was very, very, very sick… and he was yellow with jaundice. Looking at the boy at the time you knew this boy was a short time from death. It was very difficult looking at him and at his parents. You can imagine how tough times were for them.

And now? Well, click here to check out the pictures posted and you tell me how he looks one year after his liver transplant. In addition to the still pics, we taped an interview with Catherine and Peter (he says “Yes.. thank you.. mama," etc.) which we hope to air Thursday night.

It is amazing what a difference one year makes and what modern medicine can do! A year ago Catherine sat in my office talking about what faced her family. It was a very sober conversation. You could feel her grief and worry. Listening to her I had great hope, but I also was extremely worried for her, her husband and two children. And now? Well check out the pictures and tune into the interview!

We received many e-mails about our interview with John Mark Karr last night. I still don't think he is guilty of the JonBenet Ramsey murder (well… to be more precise, I am satisfied there is insufficient evidence to link him to the murder and hence the DA's decision to release him.) Karr, for an inexplicable reason seems to want us to think he did commit the crime or he seems to actually believe he did it. I just don't understand him.

Why did I do the John Mark Karr interview? Let me tell you what I found interesting about it: I think it reminds people of something very important in the criminal justice system. Sometimes people confess to crimes they simply did not commit. Often people say when a defendant confessed that he would not have confessed if he had not committed the murder — so he must have committed the murder. After all, who would confess to a crime he did not commit? Well, guess what? As bizarre as it seems, defendants do falsely confess to crimes. This is why we should not convict on mere confessions. We need evidence to corroborate the statement of guilt. There have been people on Death Row for murder based on confessions and then later exonerated by DNA. So, the John Mark Karr interview gives you a bit of a window into this part of our criminal justice system.

Likewise, the constant media attention on the Duke Lacrosse case does the same. It tells people something very important. Many people simply accept the work of prosecutors as being just. Well, guess what? On occasion there are renegade prosecutors — it is very rare, but true. The Duke case gives you a window into how the system operates. It tells you to look with a critical eye at arrests, charges etc. These stories are important in my view... it gives you the raw truth.

Now for some e-mails, randomly drawn:

E-mail No. 1 [This e-mail came in before our show aired last night]

I will watch with interest your interview with Mr. Karr. I have no clue as to what is in his mind except he most likely is ill and who knows what goes on in a clouded mind. As far as DAs go, they do have power. They get going and it turns into that huge snowball being rolled down the hill. Some are so stubborn they will not listen, act or even consider other possibilities. I know this is the way it is because here in my own town we have a DA (and his DDAs) who sometimes wouldn't recognize the truth if it showed up on their dinner plates. Maybe it is pride or something (arrogance maybe?).
Lorelei Carr
Oroville, CA
P.S. I love reading your blog. Sometimes I do not get the chance to see your show (and it is on 2 times each night) and when I check my e-mail your blog is the first thing I open... honest!

E-mail No. 2

I remember seeing something in the fall or winter of 2006 that CBS "48 Hours Mystery" put on the air that John Mark Karr was involved somehow in the investigation into the JonBenet Ramsay murder. He picked up a package or something around the time of the murder. You may want to check that out. Great show, keep up the good work!
Kimberley A. Hobbs
Maui, HI

E-mail No. 3

My dad, Raymond Cuffie, is the only "LIVING" documented person in the U.S. with only "one" artery in his heart instead of the normal two. NBA legend 'Pistol' Pete Marevich is the only other person in U.S. history ever documented to have this condition. We all know Pistol Pete died while playing a pickup game when he was 40 years old. My dad will be 61 years old on 28 June and he's still going strong! The facts are this: No one can live with one artery in the heart. We need two arteries for proper blood flow: one to bring blood to the heart and one to take oxygen rich blood from the heart to the body. My dad is a living miracle! He served two tours in Viet Nam and retired after 26 years in the U.S. Air Force. The Veterans Affairs (VA) medical doctors are calling him a medical mystery. My dad found out about his very rare heart condition a year ago when he went to a VA hospital complaining of chest pains. An x-ray revealed his one-of-kind heart and doctors were astonished! They hooked my dad to a special machine and took a three-dimensional picture of his heart to confirm what they saw. They are still speechless! One doctor supposedly submitted his findings to JAMA. I feel this would be a great story to tell America especially since we are in the throws of this War on Terror. My dad, being a military veteran, symbolizes the tenacity and the "heart" needed to get to us through one of the toughest times in American history! Thank you for taking my story and I look forward to hearing from you soon!
Darrius J. Cuffie

E-mail No. 4

I just heard that Beth Holloway was dating John Ramsey — is that true or a hoax? I wasn't aware that she and her husband had separated. I am so sorry to hear that. But I do know that happens sometimes in this kind of a tragedy. We grieve differently and sometimes cant share it with our mate.

E-mail No. 5 [This e-mail relates to the kidnapping of Kelsey Smith]

The man walking out of the store, the alleged kidnapper was not carrying any goods. That seems very odd to me. He was not shopping.
Just an observation.
Jamie L. Spreitzer, M.A.

ANSWER: This is a very important observation… I missed it. Thanks for the tip.

E-mail No. 6

Dear Greta,
Did you notice in the video of the 'person of interest' leaving the Target store, that it appears he has tattoos down in the inside of his right arm?
Please replay it and watch his right arm as it swings somewhat forward. It appears that he has tattoos doesn't it? Is he one of the Aryan Brotherhood maybe?
He has the typical goatee around the chin, and maybe the tattoos?
Here's hoping something develops.
My sincere hope is she is found alive.
N Hagen,
Leesburg, FL

Finally, here are some articles that I found interesting:

• Flight 93 memorial planners at odds with property owner
Associated Press Writer

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A man who owns property at the site where Flight 93 crashed has demanded millions for his portion of land where a memorial is planned, and has installed a donation box to help pay for security.

The actions by Mike Svonavec have angered victims' families, who believe he is overcharging and disagree with the need for a donation box.

"That land has been paid for with 40 lives ... the donation box is an insult to that cost," said Patrick White, vice president for Families of Flight 93.

Svonavec wants $10 million for his 273-acre property in Somerset County, far more than the per-acre amount paid for nearby land, White said Tuesday. He said Svonavec told him about his asking price last July, and that he has rejected three offers from the group — the latest for more than $500,000.

"I think Svonavec believes his land, because it has the blood of my cousin and 39 other people, it's worth more," he said.

Svonavec said he wants fair market value for the parcel and he would accept no money for the exact site where 40 passengers and crew members died when the hijacked United Airlines flight to San Francisco crashed on Sept. 11, 2001. He declined to comment on the $10 million figure.

The donation box, installed near a temporary memorial on the land, would help cover security costs. Security has been handled by a firm at a cost of about $10,000 per month since federal funding ran out in February. The site has also incurred other costs, he said.

"I just can't afford it," Svonavec said. "I need some help."

Memorial planners have purchased 60 of the 1,300 acres needed for a permanent memorial and national park. Svonavec owns the second-largest parcel of land in the area after PBS Coals Inc., which owns 864 acres.

White said he is negotiating with PBS Coals, and the remaining parcels are in various stages of being acquired.

Svonavec said he is working with advisers, including Randall Bell, a California-based real estate appraiser who specializes in properties where disasters have occurred. Svonavec said he is waiting for a completed appraisal.

He said he had asked to deal exclusively with the National Park Service, which also is working on the memorial, rather than the group. He said he rejected an earlier Park Service offer because "it just wasn't acceptable."

The Park Service is preparing another appraisal. Joanne Hanley, the Park Service superintendent of the site, declined to comment.

Flight 93 was en route from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco when it was hijacked and crashed in a field near Shanksville as passengers rushed the cockpit, according to the 9/11 Commission.

The $58 million memorial was established by an act of Congress in 2002. Construction tentatively has been scheduled to start in late 2008 or early 2009, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony has been planned for the 10-year anniversary of the attacks.

On the Net:

Flight 93 National Memorial Project: http://www.honorflight93.org
National Park Service Flight 93 National Memorial: http://www.flight93memorialproject.org

• LA judge orders Tom Sizemore held without bail pending hearing

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tom Sizemore surrendered Tuesday to face a hearing on whether he violated probation with his recent arrest for drug possession.

Superior Court Judge Cynthia Rayvis later ordered the "Saving Private Ryan" actor held without bail pending a June 19 hearing, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

Sizemore, 45, had arrived at a county courthouse in a convertible and was greeted by reporters. When asked how he was doing, he replied: "I'm OK."

Sizemore was arrested last month at a Bakersfield hotel. Authorities said they found methamphetamines in his car.

He was released but a Los Angeles judge later issued a warrant for his arrest for violating probation in another methamphetamine case. If convicted, he could be forced to serve out a 16-month prison sentence.

In the Bakersfield case, Sizemore has pleaded not guilty to seven drug-related charges, including transportation and possession of methamphetamines, possession of prescription drugs without the proper prescription and being under the influence of a controlled substance.

He faces up to six years in prison if convicted.

[Note: I think the subject of this next story went to college with me… former Wisconsin state Senator Gary George]

• Former Wisconsin senator named in Laos plot court papers

SACRAMENTO (AP) — The investigation into a California-based plot to overthrow the Laotian government widened today as prosecutors examined the role of a former Wisconsin state senator.

A sworn affidavit from an undercover agent states that "probable cause exists to believe" that former Wisconsin state Senator Gary George was among those involved in the conspiracy.

George has not been arrested or charged.

Lo Cha Thao once worked as an aide to the senator.

The 34-year-old Thao was one of ten people charged yesterday in federal court in Sacramento.

George's attorney — Alex Flynn of Milwaukee — did not return repeated telephone messages from The Associated Press.

Earlier today, he told the San Francisco Chronicle that the allegations are "utterly preposterous and categorically false."

George recently completed a four-year federal prison sentence for accepting kickbacks from a Milwaukee social service agency.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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