February 10, 1996: Transcript of taped conversation
between Rhonda Rigbsy and Jim Blackburn
Note from Christina Masewicz: Rhonda Rigsby worked on the MacDonald case. There is written communication from MacDonald to Rigbsy giving her instructions on how to question Paul Stombaugh, Peter Kearns and Bill Ivory. This meeting took place over a later lunch per Blackburn. Blackburn told me he gave Rigbsy permission to tape the conversation. When Rigbsy would do interviews for MacDonald, she always told the person (s) she was a student studying Criminal Justice.
SUBJECT: JAMES BLACKBURN INTERVIEW
DATE: FEBRUARY 10, 1996 (in North Carolina by Rhonda Rigsby)
Jim: My memory is sort of faded on some of the evidence ... generally. I can make a good short speech to a group about it.
Jim: And maybe given two or three weeks, I could relearn it. But a lot of it, I have forgotten
about having threads and fibers. I used to know, I mean, I know generally...
RR: (Interrupting) It fades. Right ...Yes...
Jim: (Unintelligible)...I don't mean to roll on. You can ask me any questions you want to.
RR: Oh, no. I've been enjoying sitting here listening to it. (laughter)
Jim: But I feel like .. uh .. I think that ... I thought that he was a good witness for himself.
The jury did not think so. I remember when he testified, several jurors were crying, which made me really angry, because I thought that meant he was selling his case to them. As it turned out, uh ... they were crying for the victims. Uh, he ... one juror told me later that she only counted two tears the whole day he cried. They thought they was crocodile tears. They didn't believe him. Um, I think the greatest weakness in that case, and I've always been amused by this in the (blank) of (blank), was my cross examination of MacDonald. I thought it was terrible. And if I had, and, and, it's been written in books to have been good, but I think. I'll tell ya' what ... there's probably no cross examination that I'd ever be better prepared for than that. I knew it cold. I just knew it cold. But I think to some degree, I was intimidated by the circumstances and (loss?).
Jim: I'd like some coffee.
Jim: Um .. I .. um .. would rather have gone from the gut a lil' more. I didn't know you could, at that time, how to cross examine witnesses as well I do now. And I'm better at it now. I think a great way to cross examine a witness is ... you're not necessarily going to trip MacDonald up like they (unintelligible) may suggest. You're not gonna do that. You're not going to trip him up on the ... on the pieces of evidence ... 'cause he knows it very well. And I think I held that part of the case pretty well by a technique - Can you explain this and so forth and so on. What does this consist of (blank). And he couldn't (answer). And he got angry a little bit with me which was good ( ?? ).
RR: Can I ask you something?
RR: I'm not tryin' to pinpoint you on anything...
Jim: Sure, no, no, sure.
RR: 'cause I really wanna learn from this. But everybody's supposed to considered innocent until proven guilty, and they're not supposed to have to prove their innocence (or they're innocent) .. that's the prosecution's job. But you said you were askin' him to (sounds like "expound on") certain points?
Jim: (Had been saying um-hm, um-hm, repeatedly during RR's question and then replies.) Well, that's just the burden of proof. That's your question.
RR: (laughter) Does that make sense?
Jim: Oh yes it does. Segal argued I did at the appeal. That's what Segal argued to the judge. Or to the jury that we had shifted the burden of proof, and that's what makes people so mad. (Unintelligible) argued to the jury that (blank) I had shifted the burden of proof to MacDonald, in spite of my questions. The questions were, as you know, that were assuming for a moment, done in hypothetical tones. Uhh, should the jury conclude from the evidence that ... uh ... Your pajama top fibers were found in the master bedroom underneath Colette's body. Do you have any explanation for that? No. I don't think he really .. I didn't really believe I'd get him to ... that he'd admit (?)] anything. And I didn't really, and .. and .. I didn't get him to .. uhhh ... but I'd be angered to know ... and that question was even raised in the 4th Circuit ... about the burden of proof. But I don't think I shifted the burden of proof . For example, he agreed to testify. He took the stand. He put his own credibility at issue. He subjected hisself to the questions that I asked. I'm entitled to ask you, "Are you guilty? Did you do it?"
RR: Yeah.... (questioningly)
Jim: You don't have .... I can't ask you that question if you don't take the stand. But
once you've taken the stand...(completely garbled due to screaming child) I believe that that (background noise) is fair game. I'm a great believer if you or I can tell the truth and explain the unexplainable, the world would then say, within the best I can tell you from my unfortunate point of view - is when I was in trouble myself, I remember a day of (??), one of my good friends said, "Jim, can you explain this? Knowing if I could explain it well, I was okay, don't you think I would have done so? Of course!
(JRM - re: above - Figure that one out! Maybe he is trying to say that if he could have concocted a believable story, he would have and not been in the hot soup he got in. Likewise, he theorizes that you should have had an explanation for the actions, presence and mindset of others ... or, at least, a plausible "story".)
(At this point, there was so much music and screaming child were too much to get through. But basically, RR and Jim B. had a benign discussion about his talent and his extreme honesty. He agrees that, in spite of his recent "problems", he is indeed "probably the most honest person in the 42nd St. Oyster Bar & Grill".
He related his lengthy treatment, psychiatric care, etc. Essentially this area of the interview was no more than an episode of Jim B. talking about himself.. He did go to great extremes to inform RR that none of his forgeries, or "charges", were ever "filed", so that technically "no court document was ever forged". Thus, he did render a 10+ minutes explanation of his "forgery". It was an explanation of his justification of what his non-forgery forgery.) Then he made a couple of very interesting statements. To wit:
Jim B: The MacDonald case is as close to perfection as I am capable of doing. I believe you could go to any piece of paper anywhere, under the FOI Act, about anything that I did, that you know ... that you know ... that the lawyers for Macdonald really (????-ed) of what we just said, they would do so. Even the book, "Fatal Justice" doesn't do that and they knew all that then, 'cause it's in the epilogue of the book.
Jim B. indicated that he had spoken with Wade the night before with regard to his interview with RR. RR then asked if Wade recalled her name to which Jim replied that he (Wade) did not indicate so. RR then pressed further and said that perhaps Wade did not recall her last name, adding questioningly if anyone at all had told him (Jim) about her. He again replied "No". RR then said she wanted to be very honest and very up front with him and she set out to reveal how she had initially approached the case and even spoken with members of the Defense, etc. He (Jim) assured her of how he felt she was approaching her studies and her research the right way, etc. Jim B. then added the of all of the cases "I know of nothing that anyone did that was wrong in the prosecution of this case. Illegal, wrong, any of it, I did not know of it. I know that I did not (do anything wrong) and it does not bother me if my worst enemy in the world (garbled) with what I did. (Garbled). And I'm sure that (???) in the Freedom of Information Act, and that's fine. And I'm sure anyone can get 'em and that's perfectly okay with me. I don't think I ever did anything wrong in any case I prosecuted in my whole life ... that I know of. I was succeeded by (garbled). Does that mean that I think the investigation was absolutely flawless? No. I wish that the fingerprint man had done a better job of (blank .. ing) the fingerprints. I don't think any crime scene can be properly termed flawless. I don't know that they knew what they had in this case (one garbled word) or that they messed up so badly that it couldn't be handled correctly. I don't believe so. I believe that uh .... that we make it by the law. They, (?) in spite of themselves, they did mess up. You know .."
Note to JRM: By the tone of Blackburn's voice, the direction of his conversation and what he is stating to Rhonda Rigsby, I believe that he is attempting to set up his own excuse with regard to his "role" in the suppression of evidence. He has gone from the history of his own conviction to his record as a prosecutor even to the "good deed" aspect of his crime, essentially saying that what he did was try to help others and not really hurt anyone. And he is going to extraordinary lengths to somewhat "assemble" his innocence as he himself did comment with, "I accepted the government line." Thus, he was, according to this monologue, merely prosecuting a case based upon the evidence that he accepts as sound. Strangely, he did speak to Wade Smith the night before meeting with Rhonda, and, of course, there is no way that I can even remotely believe that Wade did not recall Rhonda Rigsby, who she is, that she visited with Wade, etc. I think he and Wade most likely did discuss how to approach the interview, to some degree.
RR: Because when I go back and I look at the thing, I can't imagine, I don't have half the experience that some of those people did, (completely unintelligible due to noise)...
Jim B: That's true ... And you know the truth ... you know what? There were nine MPs and maybe more, but there were at least nine MPs. And some of those MPs were cottonpickin' (?) (blank word overridden by noise), but Mica, the MPs say (??) I was the one who called Mica as a witness, not the defense. He was the second witness we had. We talked to Mica in my office. I interviewed him. He has enjoyed the reputation in later years that he might have seen this girl on the (blank)
Jim B: But (blank) evidence came out at the jury trial. I brought that out. Not for this point. I asked Mica: " 'Did you see somebody.. I think ... you can look at the transcript ... Did you see somebody? And he said 'yes'. Who did you see?" Now he doesn't say, and he cannot say...
RR: That he saw Helena Stoeckley...
Jim B: And he cannot say that the girl he saw was a girl at the crime scene.
Jim B: He cannot do that.
RR: Right. He can give a description.
Jim B: He can give a description. He did that. He testified. The jury weighed that evidence and rejected that as being a girl at MacDonald's house. Well, MacDonald still claims that that's evidence 20 years later, that he's innocent. The truth is, maybe it is. But MacDonald does not say is, that evidence was placed before the jury and the jury ("blanked") that. Nobody tampered with that evidence. That evidence was not hidden from the jury. They heard it. (Garbled phrase) Of course. It was a calculated decision on my part. I'm not saying to (blank) my part, but that was bad news for me. If you have bad news in a case that you're trying, what you do as a prosecutor is not put it out first. And then you let it out so that you cannot be accused of hiding information. The last thing I wanted to do was hide it. For example, we didn't put out the sex (blank) about MacDonald's (Blank) Why? Because I consider that I did not think that MacDonald killed his family over some affair with some person. I did not want the jury to think that I was taking a (blank) shot at him. Which I think (blank) to do in the Simpson case. By trying to show that he had these affairs every (blank) unless I could show a relationship. Uhm .. and I didn't call some of those witnesses that I had (blank) that I (blank). I examined 'em. I knew what they would say, but I didn't do that because I wanted to convict him or (blank) credit on the (blank) in the case. (Brief blank phrase) I think that's one of the reasons we won. We did not (blank). We didn't call flagrant witnesses. For example, the mother of the baby-sitter was gonna testify. I remember interviewing her one night before she would testify. And she starts in on this crazy thing like she heard this and she heard that. She dreamed this and she dreamed that. I said, "Wait a minute.
You dreamed something?" So I didn't call the witness, because I thought ... I didn't know whether she was credible. I only called people as witnesses who I thought were credible witnesses, who could not be (blanked). The truth is that the Jimmy ... the ... the Jimmy whatever that crazy guy's name is, who was with ... uh ... who said that he called there that night ... and they picked up the phone (unintelligible). He was under subpoena by the defense. He was there ready to testify. That's right in the evidence. He was there ready to testify. (garbled)
The reason they didn't call him as a witness is because his background was that he had been in a mental institution. And they were afraid we would cross-examine him about that and show he was not reliable. That is one of the height of ironies of this case. That I myself, subsequently, in later years, wound up spending a week in a psychiatric (blank) hospital. So I might have a different view now than I did then, about people accused of that ... of course I do. Of course I do. There is no question about that. But would I still, if I had, still examine him about that? Yes.
But maybe from a different point of view. But they chose not to call him. And so, to say, years later, that that ... uh ... we had this evidence, is bullshit. (Unintelligible - something of 5 or 6 words) Intellectually dishonest. When he'd had that evidence available in 1979, and he chose not to use it. It is intellectually dishonest to say (words about Helena Stoeckley did not testify) when she testified at great length, for almost an entire day. But most people don't think she ever did. What did not happen was the other witnesses did not testify about (blank) statements that she made ... was made. They said, well that shoulda been admitted ... after. It is a legal point of view that the prosecution objected to those statements on the basis they were out of court hearsay. The judge ruled in our favor (blank). That evidentiary rule was taken to the 4th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court and was rejected.
Why should I worry about what somebody down the street thinks ... about that issue? If the U. S. Supreme Court said we're right ... I don't think I should. Except unless I wanted to vent to the general public. (blank) But my job is not to convince the general public. My job is to convince 12 jurors. Part of the prosecution in the Simpson case (blank, unintelligible) tried to convince the general public more than they did the 12 jurors, and I thinks that's (unintelligible).
RR: Can I ask you another question?
Jim B: This is my own personal (garbled). I (blank) to my husband all the time and he sits there and winks at me (laughter). When you go in and you pick out a jury, I mean when you're called for jury duty and you're sittin' out there and you got "anybody", all kinds of backgrounds, all kinds of people, when you pick these different people, and they come up and (blank) the prosecution and the defense, and you say, "okay this is our jury", and the jury's sittin' over there listenin' to all this, (blank unintelligible)...sometimes, the evidence that they...I know it's the prosecution and the defense's job to put it in layman's terms so they can understand it ... but sometimes, I don't care how easy you make it, and regardless of certain things, how elementary you make it, they are gonna be people out there that still ... gonna have it in their head...
Jim B: I think that's true.
RR: In their head..
Jim B: I think that was true in the Simpson case.
RR: That was ... any case. Not with ...a ny case they are only ... is there ever(unintelligible) a "fair" trial?
Jim B: Yes ... yes
RR: Really and truly?
Jim B: Yes
RR: Because you still got people out there who may have
Jim B: (Unintelligible) human nature to make it. You can't make it any better than human people are.
RR: Because I make some people (garbled) when I talk to 'em and I just (giggles)
Jim B: First of all ... Most people believe people are guilty.
RR: I know.
Jim B: That's true. There's very few presumptions of innocence .. i n truth. There's presumption of innocence under the law. But that's not (garbled) somebody's innocent or guilty.
RR: I don't understand that.
Jim B: Jeffrey MacDonald was the only person I've ever seen who was presumed innocent. (I cannot make this out at out as it sounded as if Jim said, "I think he was" which, of course, is unlikely.) People didn't want to convict him. Cause he was a nice lookin' (blank) guy. (Then unintelligible.)
RR: Right. I guess I'm just unusual 'cause when I look at cases over and over. As soon as I look at 'em, in fact I was tellin' you I used to be into that mode of now, where you're arrested or you (blank) guilty, it's not true
Jim B: Not true.
RR: And I started changing my mind, and now I just say, I guess, factual, but I don't understand people, when they have this opinion one way or another, before they even heard all the evidence. I can't even begin to say well I think (blank) guilty (garbled) whaddyou think of the OJ case?
Jim B: I can't say. I didn't watch the whole thing.
RR: I can't say whether I think he's innocent or guilty...
Jim B: When you're this far away from the person. You watch that person a lot. You can't put a finger on it, but a lot of it's body language. A lot of it is uh ... intuition. A lot of it is emotion watchin' a witness, close up.
Note to JRM: There seems to be some ongoing statement by Jim B. about some hypothetical witness or something re: how a witness looks, what the jurors see, etc. This is extremely boring. All they reveal is that Jim B. tried his cases a lot on body language, intuition and "watchin' them close up". When Rhonda asked about Proctor and Dupree being related, Jim B. said, "That is the silliest thing. I don't know much about that. Silly thing ... just silly."
RR: So they were related right?
Jim B: No, not ... well ... Proctor was ... son-in-law.
RR: Right. Not by blood, but by marriage.
Jim B: But you got to understand, (Unintelligible) I don't mean in a mean way, or in a bad way. But he just had ... he had two daughters, and...
NOTE: Now it becomes overridden with noise, poor speech, stuttering and RR speaking over Blackburn.
Jim B: Was Proctor in charge of it? I don't know. I never saw anything in the files that resembled anything that Proctor ever did. It may be there and that's forgotten but he was not a big name in the ... I never met Jimmy Proctor.
Jim B: If I had, I ... I'm certain I never interviewed him about the case. Jay Stroud was once one of the prosecutors on it. I've met Jay Stroud. (Unintelligible) Jay Stroud and I never talked about the MacDonald case. He never called me or wrote me a note saying "Congratulations for winning", or anything ... nothing.
And yet he (blank). Um, I can't believe that Judge Franklin Dupree, I do not believe would ever, do anything wrong in any case without (?) somebody who knew somebody or friend or anything like that. I just do not believe that. The only thing that Judge Dupree ever did was, in my case, my situation, he wrote a letter, to (garbled) judge, as a Judge (blank)...guilty, on my behalf....
SIDE TWO TAPE #1
that I be given probation. Which I didn't ask him to do. And I think Judge Dupree did that ... he went way beyond ... he wouldn't normally do that.
(Garbled phrase) But he and I were friends, he respected me, I had been to see him and talked to him. But I never asked him for any favors. I just (garbled). Uhm, I don't believe Judge Dupree did anything wrong.
RR: I'm not saying he did anything wrong. But, if I were the judge or if I were a prosecutor or whatnot, I'm not sayin' he did anything wrong, but I would be so fearful just as how it would look to the public, that I would go away from it.
Jim B: The truth is I don't remember ..
RR: Do you understand what I'm sayin'?
Jim B: But I don't even know the fact then. I know the facts then. I don't know that those facts are necessarily true. I'm not saying that Fred Bost, but I don't know that those facts are exactly true. The issue is his partner (garbled). This case has been to the fourth circuit more times than any case I know. He's had tremendous publicity. He's got a book written about it. Uhm, if uhm, if they got something to bring forth, then that's fair. But just to make accusations, and blow smoke, at Brian Murtagh, who I also know very well, and I have a lot of. I have a lot of I understand Brian Murtagh was there the day they opened the coffins, in 1974.
That's (blank) impact on him. And then (completely overwhelmed by noise) Would it make you do something illegal or immoral? I don't know, but I don't think so.
RR: Do you think that he was obsessed between '70 and '79?
Jim B: Who ... Brian?
Jim B: It's hard not to get obsessed by this case. Of all the cases I've ever (garbled) and you work on for a long period of time and people are victims, in which MacDonald was the survivor and was livin' for the most part, a free life. (Unintelligible) Bernie Segal, the lawyer, trying to have Brian fired numerous times at the Justice Department. They tried to destroy his reputation. (something about the "latest motions")
They tried to lynch him. Well, is that gonna make you, not this latest, but the (unintelligible) does that make dislike Segal? And want to win? I think so.
RR: He was in the military.
Jim B: Umhmm
RR: And he went from there to...
Jim B: That's normal. (Jim now compares RR's master thesis work to Brian's natural inclination and normal job progression from military to prosecutor)
RR: I'm just thinkin' that he was desperate and he had so many of these cases and so many of these things.
Jim B: (Garbled)
RR: Yeah. So, I'm thinkin' why the MacDonald case. What was it about the MacDonald case that wasn't like he wasn't already gonna be famous. You see what I mean?
Jim B: Yeah, but I don't know ... I don't the answer to that.
RR: I'm not tryin' to give anybody a hard time. I'm just...
Jim B: No, that's a legitimate question. I just think that you'd have to ask Brian that.
RR: It just seems to me like he'd say, "Well, that's over and done with"..
Jim B: Brian is one of those people who, at all costs. For example, his second case, the PanAm crash. And he got the same way about the PanAm crash. He went to Europe and to England. And I understand that. If I was working on the PanAm crash, I could've gotten (garbled) by that, too. Because you would've wound up talking to victims (blank) and such. (Garbled a whole couple of minutes of conversation.)
Note: I cannot figure out what I missed here, but now both persons are talking about Rhonda's pregnancy and all of the history of her ability and inability to conceive a child. She also spent several minutes discussing her dance career. I am absolutely dizzy trying to figure this out, as they went from one subject to another so dramatically.
Jim B: So, what other questions have you got?
RR: Oh, I got a bunch of questions here for you. I tried to write 'em all down. Oh, I was gettin' to the uh ... about everybody bein' so closemouthed, hush hush?
Jim B: I can't explain that.
(Note: From here, RR is relaying to Jim B. her conversations with others about the case. So, it is clear that some whole piece is missing from the interview here. What follows is RR's rendition of her asking questions of "officials".)
RR: What about the Jeffrey MacDonald case? Do you know anything about that? "Yeah"... Well, tell me. What can you tell me about it. I talk quite a bit. Okay, can we back it up a little bit?
Jim B: Are we talkin' about federal people or state?
RR: State people ... I don't think any of 'em were federal. But coulda been.
Jim B: Well, you can check notes, 'cause my memory is (all garbled). I don't think the state people know very much about the case. I think one reason they've been hush hush is they don't know. But they want you to think they know. To be self important. But the analysis - the blood analysis initially, I think was done by the CID, in Georgia, in 1970. But the one who did the fingerprints stuff in 1970 is now dead. I guess, I think, Medlin ... I don't know. But the, the, the. the lab work was done by the FBI, not by the SBI. I don't think the SBI ...
RR: I guess one of 'em was federal, cause I asked one of 'em him about ... he said, "Well", he talked a little bit to me. He said he had this self-inflicted wound. And I was just askin', cause I wanted to know. I wasn't trying to say "You're wrong" or anything like that. I just wanted to know. I said "Well, how do you know, like, if I go, ever go on a case, how am I gonna know if a wound is self-inflicted?"
Jim B They didn't know?
RR: He wouldn't tell me!
Jim B Let me tell you why...
RR: He said, "You can just tell". And I said, "But I want to know if there's certain ... and he said, "Well, you can tell by the angle." And I said, "Well, what's the angle?" I just wanted to know so that if I ever saw one, I know what I was lookin' at. Do you understand what I'm sayin,?
Jim B: I think that's all bullshit. Let me tell you why. I don't .... I think he's sayin' that cause he doesn't know the answer. I think that's not the answer. It was thought initially, that it was a self-inflicted wound. Now the reason they...
AT THIS POINT IT IS THE END OF ANY RECORDING ON SIDE TWO OF THIS FIRST TAPE. THIS IS PROBABLY BECAUSE IT IS THE END OF WHAT WAS ONE MICROCASSETTE. IT WOULD APPEAR THAT EACH MICROCASSETTE RR USED, WAS RE-RECORDED ON TO EACH REGULAR AUDIO CASSETTE. THUS, TAPE 1 OF THE MICROCASSETTE IS NOT A COMPLETE CASSETTE OF THIS REGULAR SIZE (STANDARD) CASSETTE TAPE.
TAPE TWO - Side One
This tape opens in the middle of an ongoing conversation.
Jim B: I believe that you would have at least a scratch on your body. He had no scratches, not even a scratch, on his wrist, hand, these part of his arms. He had a cut right here. He had four cuts right here kind of which he claims were icepick wounds, but they are remarkably similar ... they're at an angle ... they are remarkably similar to scratches from ... perhaps from a fingernail. That's what we claimed. What are they exactly? I don't know. And nobody ... we argued that they were fingernail scratches. We argued that this wound over here was made by the (garbled) forge knife by Colette, because that the was the cutting, and there was actual testimony on that. He was cut off near the belly button. And he had this wound over here. And it caused the collapse of the lung. Then he had a bump on the head. He claimed that he had multiple stab wounds. I think he's lying. (Next word is garbled.) I don't think he had those injuries. There was testimony that he did not. I know they tried sayin' they saw them, but ... I believe that our evidence wins that ... and regardless of whether our evidence wins or loses today on that ... both sides submitted their evidence on that issue at the trial. And the jury did not believe his story or that story. They believed the government. And they had to watch the cross examine, and did. I mean how many chances do you get to do that? I think he gets one. I think we proved that it was a (totally unintelligible). First of all, the different blood types. His blood ... the blood in the bathroom ... on the bathroom sink, was type "B" blood, which was his ... not the family's. Where did that blood come from? Well, he said, on cross-examination, "I was cut pretty bad. That's where it came from." However, when he said he was stabbed with the icepick, he also (garbled) puncture wounds, and the reason there was no blood in the living room is, because an icepick, or puncture wounds, do not bleed out ... very much. Well, the (garbled) said there was 10 or 15 minutes before he went to the bathroom. Then explain to me how it is that a puncture wound that does not bleed too much up here, suddenly, 15 minutes later, is bleeding desperately (?) over here. (Garbled) So I think whenever he got this injury, it happened in the bathroom. That's where his blood is. His blood is nowhere else ... except in spots. But that was....
RR: What about the bump on the head?
Jim B: You know that his own ... John Thornton ... his own witness, testified at the trial, that he was, quote, "'kissed' by the club". I think that quote was not a club, but by a hairbrush. And the hairbrush was found on the floor in the master bedroom by Colette. I think she struck him back. He liked to say he had 4 or 5 injuries, but what if I just say one, why don't I just say I got one, I don't know, maybe it takes your argument. Why don't we use your argument? Why doesn't he say "Well, I'm a Green Beret. I fought (?garbled) with my family and that's why I was not injured more." Why does he try to say "I was wounded excessively, near death, 18 to 20 injuries, 4 or 5 injuries over here"... and that's not what the facts show. That's what I was sayin' before he came in here, lyin' about things that he didn't have to lie about. Whyn't he say, (garbled) "... Hell, I was knocked out. I woke up - this had happened - I can't explain it - I don't know but why make up somethin' that's not (unintelligible). He doesn't even (garbled) your argument ... about bein' a Green Beret. He takes the argument that I'm lying - that he was injured severely, but he wasn't. So, that's one of those things that I think catches him in a lie that the jury then doesn't believe where and I saw "The Jerry Springer Show", he (garbled) pass the Jerry Springer or a Connie Chung or Larry King, because they don't put that type of argument in it.
RR: Yeah. I'm saying that that's possibly why he lived.
Jim B: Oh, I know why he lived. (Laughter) Oh, the collapsed lung. You know, if you lay down, your heart, unless you have a reversed heart on this side of your body, but it could be a reversed heart, that if you lay down, the organs in your body fall a little bit. Then, maybe, if you did that, (garbled - not by a vital organ) you could live with that kind of injury ... if you got medical attention quickly enough. You could live with that. I am saying that blood spots were found on the cabinet doors in the hall next to the bathroom, they were matched to his type blood, where syringes were kept. I can only argue this circumstantially ...t hat is what happened. No one can prove to you beyond a reasonable doubt from direct evidence that he self-inflicted that wound. They can only say that it's possible, that that wound was self- inflicted. And it's possible that what I'm sayin' is true. And it's my job as the lawyer who argues the (blank) to the jury that it is (???) that you can (??) that fact that that is what happened. And I picked the jury that I know without a doubt can help pre....(??) No.
Can I tell from the angle? No. How can I prove to you that he did it? Well, I can only prove to you from the power (?) of the evidence, that I believe that he is the murderer. If he is the murderer, which (???'s) the evidence, and he has this injury and explain it by this (?) blood, these syringes, and a doctor layin' next to (?)...See that?
Can you infer from that evidence that he's got (????) in the bedroom? Yes. Dr. (first name?) Jacobsen, who's now a doctor in ??herst , was the doctor who testified on that point. Now, and that came out on the redirect examination about the self-infliction of the wound. I was surprised that I got that information out of Jacobsen. I was prepared to argue to the jury that it was self-inflicted with or without Jacobsen. I just argued (?) anyway. Not actual argue ... ah ... but when an SBI agent says to you, "(Garbled) are self-inflicted. We know from the angle and we can tell. I don't blame you for thinkin' something's strange, 'cause I think somethin' strange (??), I believe (???) Unless you...
RR: I jes' wanted to know...(overrides his sentence)
Jim B: Unless you could tell from the (??) that that must have been what happened. Am I reaching a little bit ... to get there? Yep. The question's whether I'm reachin' too far. I think I'm reachin' within range.
Uhm...I think that there's one thing that we did in that case that was right was that we didn't overreach. We didn't try to grandstand and make claims that we couldn't back up. We kept ... within ... we ... you could tell back then within your self-(???), within yourself, not going too far, that's what you have to do in the prosecution of cases ... to not go too far. Stay with what you can control. When an SBI or a state agent says, "Well we know this (completely unintelligible phrase)" is because he doesn't know. (Note: This is a general statement being made about law enforcement persons and their skills, or lack of, overall and is not relevant to JRM case.) I don't know that, but that may be...
RR: (Overspeaking) Let me ask you about one other person - Walter Rowe? Walter Rowe?
Jim B: Rowe? That name doesn't ring a bell.
RR: Doesn't ring a bell?
Jim B: (Sounds like "hardly". In any case, Jim B. is negating knowledge of this person.)
Jim B: You can talk about him.
RR: Okay. He's now workin' at George Washington University as a professor. He was one of the guys that went in ... I can't remember all these ... he was one of the guys that went in who happened to be in town that weekend ... or that week. What he told me is that the murders had happened and he got called to go in. He wasn't supposed to be there. He just happened to be there (?? and no one else?). And he went in, and he was collectin' evidence and whatnot. And beside the radiator, (??) near it, he found a match.
Jim B: That part don't mean...
RR: Oh, okay ... well, I jest gonna tell ya' anyway.
Jim B: Alright.
RR: Anyway, he said, I asked him, I said, "Was it found like down on the floor, or was it found up on top ... where was it found?" He said, "I didn't collect evidence from that room." And I got curious how...
Jim B: Whatever evidence he collected he did not touch that scene (?) room(?)
RR: But the book says that he did collect evidence. And they got things to back it up.
Jim B: All I can tell you is that if you had to get...
RR: Who's wrong? (Note: This sounds like wrong, could be what??)
Jim B: I don't know.
RR: Who's wrong?
Jim B: (Stuttering) I don't know
RR: But ya see what I'm sayin'? Whoa, you're a big guy here ... explain this to me.
Jim B: Photographs ... of all that crime scene before the evidence was collected. Those photographs also existed in slides. The defense had spent days goin' over those slides, with Bill Ivory and Bob Shaw, who made (????). In these rooms, I don't know who collected the evidence. I don't remember. I know that Shaw collected the evidence in one bedroom, and the guy who ... but I don't -- I don't really -- maybe
RR: (Overspeaking) Well, I was just wondering. That's one of the things that gave me more doubt.
Jim B: Here's my answer to that. Without knowing. First of all, I don't think he testified at the trial. Whatever evidence he collected, whatever room it was, it wasn't significant enough that we'd use it. Suppose he collected something that we didn't wanna use. My God.
Don't you think Wade Smith and Bernie Segal and all that defense team would've (here someone coughs into his word). Why didn't they use ... they had pictures. I mean, the pictures of that crime scene showed every ... they spent days tryna show the jury how the crime scene had been altered. I believe ... like the flower pot -- and the pajama top. I mean and all this stuff, the glasses, and the (??) store, and all this bit (sounded like walk to the store) They spent days ... If there was something significant that was missed (??) or mishandled, then he surely went over it. If there's anything that Bernie Segal was successful in doin', he was successful in showin' the jury that if he had been in charge of collectin' evidence at the crime scene, it would have been done differently. He was successful in convincing the jury of that. Was he successful in convincing the jury that it was bungled so badly? I don't know. Anytime you have -- we had six or seven hundred pieces of evidence. Anytime you've got six or seven hundred pieces of evidence, you've got to have done somethin' right. We don't, and some of the evidence was lost...
RR: The skin...
Jim B: The skin that was lost...
Jim B: I think we got him some luck here. Not unlucky ... but lucky. Because I believe the evidence that was lost woulda killed him. Just killed him.
We lost a thread under Kristen's fingernail, that would've, we believe, matched his pajama top. If that's true, that's a smoking gun ... in my judgement. And yet we didn't put it in testimony that we had lost the damned thread. So we didn't use that evidence. That's powerful evidence ... in my judgement. Just powerful. Uhm...
RR: What about the hair? (Pause of 3 seconds) The long, blond, 22 inch, I know that y'know...
Jim B: I know the argument. You know the argument that's in the government brief that...
RR: That was all on the Connie Chung thing.
Jim B: Yeah, I don't know the answer to that beyond what I said, because hair is not somethin' that ... if you want the answer to that, I'm not quite the person to ask. Uhm ... I believe the government position and I can only sanction the government line. And you know what the government line is. But, in doing that, I'm not the best person, cause I don't know anymore than the government line.
Jim B: And I can't tell you ... the only thing I can tell you is that I do not know of anything that was done wrong about that. If it was done wrong, it was done wrong without my knowledge ... and no comment was ever made about it to me at all. Uhm...
RR: Cause your guy said that it came from...
Jim B: a doll.
Jim B: And, and, and, and hair that goes in dolls is longer... you know.
RR: And they were comin' back and sayin' that they had found wigs, that ... or manufacturers of wigs that made that ...t hat used that.
Jim B: At some point though, I'll be honest with ya', my mentality is such that all I can say...at some point I get (??) and say, "So what? Who cares?" I mean, you know, it's not that I (garbled) innocent or guilty. I believe that that's straining events (?) And it's (noise covers words).
The book does not focus on some of the evidence that actually (???) the son-of-a-gun. You know, and there's a lot of that. And I don't ... but that's their job. They wouldn't have a book if they just copied "Fatal Vision".
RR: Okay. What do you think about Joe McGinniss?
Jim B: I like Joe McGinniss. You need to know that he's a friend of mine. He was not a friend of mine before trial. But he had become a friend of mine.
RR: He switched.
Jim B: Switched ... but he has become a personal friend as well. I don't mean to ... in all the times I ever talked with Joe McGinniss, which have been several, many, he has never said anything to me that would indicate anything wrong which ... what he did. Ah, did he write letters to JRM sayin' (garbled and stammered phrase), I can't really say. I didn't know Joe during that time. Uh .. I don't know ... uh... you can argue that Joe McGinniss found "Fatal Vision" both ways. I think Joe is a good writer. Joe tends to, when he starts to write a book, he wants to write the truth as he sees it. (Garbled word), Joe wanted to write a book about me. About all that happened to me. But I thought to myself, "I don't know that I want you to do that". And he said, I said, "Well, you will write it as you see it - which is fair..."
RR: But it may not be as you see it.
Jim B: And ...t hat's right! And why should I want you to do that? You know, I've got to leave it the way the Lord wanted it. Somethin' that will be with me the rest of my life, but I have to take somethin' bad and turn it into somethin' good. And if you write a book and you do all this again, you may sell a book, but that necessarily doesn't have anything good to do with my life. So I, I stayed away from that. Uhm...
RR: I was jus' wondrin', 'cause I know you know about the law school and all that. I was working on my student...(words fade under Jim B's next comment.)
Jim B: Oh yeah, my uh, I think that the uh ... (sigh) ... I'm like you in the O.J. Simpson case. I was not there. I didn't, I had not read the transcript of the trial and so, (garbled) beyond that, (garbled) if whether Jeffrey MacDonald's rights were not ... it would unfair of me to say...except to say, that it's hard for me to believe that Jeffrey MacDonald's rights or much of anything on those issues, uh, I would take Joe's point of view or side just because I would. Uhm, and I would not be unbiased. Personally, I think that he is an honorable writer. He's a good writer. He, ah, he got into difficulty with the Kennedy book, as you know. I read the Kennedy book. My reaction to the Kennedy book was that, that, that uh, eventually (garbled) guys like the Kennedys, I've looked at the ... at the Kennedy (garbled) anything bad ever said about the Kennedys, (garbled) was true. Uh, that's ... I disagree with that part of it. I think I would have liked it better if it didn't bounce (bounce?)... He may be right. Who knows? He may be right. Uh, but I've always thought that if MacDonald got out of prison, he wouldn't come lookin' for me, he'd go lookin' for Joe.
RR: Oh, wow. You don't think he'll ever get out of prison, do you?
Jim B: Uh ... I don't - I hope not. I don't know. I don't think he should.
RR: Because that's somethin' I wanted to ask you about. I couldn't remember the name, but I was readin' a book on serial killers ... and there one of these who went out and killed all these people.
Jim B: But I don't think Jeffrey MacDonald is a serial killer.
RR: No, no, no, no. I'm just gettin' ready to make a comparison. There's a big difference between serial killers and the average person. I mean, you and I could be a murderer. We could lose it.
Jim B: You could murder somebody tonight.
RR: We could lose it. And then never do it again.
Jim B: You asked me the question earlier. How could you do something that would jeopardize your career and granted, that's the (garbled)
The same issue is whether or not you lose it mentally (garbled word) and commit an act of violence. That also destroys your freedom.
Then a great deal of garbled conversation about his own (Jim's) case. Then he states: "I don't think Jeffrey MacDonald would ever kill anybody else". My reaction to why I think he should (garbled) is that I believe that a crime that is (???) there has to be severe punishment. I think murder is one of those crimes. I think that is so and I may be mistaken on that, but I believe that is so. You have to remember that there were children. Kimberly would be older than you.
They were pretty girls.
RR: The unborn would be about my age.
Jim B: If you don't believe she was pretty, there's a picture of Kimberly laying on a cot - a black and white photograph - (garbled) which is the full (garbled) full view of her face, her head. That picture is (???). I'm pretty sure. The picture they use in the newspaper articles was good. She woulda been a pretty girl. Colette was (???) okay. She wasn't great. But she was all right. But, I mean after she was (garbled) found, (??), attractive than she ... But I don't know, I don't think he's a danger to society.
RR: Well, what I was gonna say ... I can't remember the serial killer's name, but I was reading the law, and he got out and he killed all these people and whatnot, (then a lot of garbled commentary about this serial killer who is out on parole and legal agencies will not release his whereabouts, to protect his rights, etc. and this is apparently being compared by RR to why JRM is being kept in prison, even though it would, according to her line of reasoning here, serve no purpose.)
NOTE: The aforementioned was way, way off the point here. The conversation between RR and Jim B. continues along this somewhat philosophical bent for some time, and discusses the difference between 2nd degree murder (a crime of passion) and premeditated murder.
RR: Talkin' about the Puretz memo? That you mentioned earlier?
Jim B: Mmm-hmm.
RR: One of the questions he asked his law clerk to find out for him was if the defense (garbled) opportunity to look at the evidence, exactly how much or how little time would he have to give 'em to still be within the law.
Jim B: Yes.
RR: Okay, this is my question. Why wouldn't he want 'em to see it? If there's so much evidence pointin' to his guilt, then why wouldn't..? I'd be glad to let 'em see it. I don't understand why they wouldn't.
Jim B: At that time, in 1979, there was enormous distrust between the two sides. For example, they initially wanted the evidence to be sent to California for testing. We opposed that. The reason we opposed that, quite frankly, (garbled) we believe Segal would've done something to the evidence. We believe the defense would have damaged the evidence.
RR: But couldn't the prosecution easily have (garbled) done something with the evidence? I'm not saying you did...
Jim B: Yes, yes, yes.
RR: In fact, there's no fair trial because the investigators go in and collect the evidence and they have total control over it, and...
Jim B: But one side has to do that.
RR: I know.
Jim B: And, and, and ... we have to promise to do that. We agreed to let them, finally, as I recall, and this is where I'm sketchy, see it ... test it ... provided it was under some safeguards, and so forth and so on.
The truth is, at this late date, the real bottom line truth is, they didn't think the evidence ??ed. You gotta understand. I love Wade Smith to death. I mean, I do. They didn't think we were going to win. They didn't think they needed to look at that stuff. They thought they were going to bar us out of the water. They believed, they were confident. They were arrogant. They thought they had knocked us dead in the water. They thought ... they were bored by the evidence. I remember goin' in - lookin' at some of the evidence. They spent 30 minutes eyeballin' it. They complained that we ... that they ... that we ...didn't label the boxes right or somthin'. If you were bein' paid all that money to represent Jeffrey MacDonald for his life, wouldn't you open the box to look inside? Yes. Wouldn't you take the ... if you distrust us as much as they say they did, why accept what's written on the box? Why don't you look inside? Don't blame us for the fact that you're lazy. And that's the secret. They were intellectually lazy during that period of time, and they ... later on find some stuff that they wished they had named in (? or again?) at the site (?). They didn't look. They said our obligation to site. Alright. Well then, you might want to look at this piece because it tends to show he's innocent. No. It is not my obligation to do that. Ah ...I t's their obligation to do that ... this adversary system. Uhm, (garbled) their trial do a better job than they did. Get a defense expert, John Thornton, who testified at the trial. That some of the fabric impressions on the sheet, and the blue pajama top, matched up to MacDonald's cufflinks (?) and stuff. Do you know how devastating that really is? That means that someone, not necessarily MacDonald, wearin' that blue pajama top, came in touch with that sheet, with blood on it, to make a fabric impression, according to their own expert. The problem that causes for MacD. is that he says he never touched the sheet. And it was on him or on the floor a (???) of blood spotted to keep her warm. And that's how it got the blood on it. And if he never touched that sheet in any way, tell me how that got on there that John Thornton says matched?!
I know that's a very technical argument. That's a devastating argument. That is almost an eye witness ... in my judgement. That is why the jury, in my judgement, convicted so fast. You don't need to believe that (garbled 2 syllables). You don't want to believe that Jim did xyz. Cause he tells you he didn't do it. They wouldn't do that. But, if you would do that, and I can prove to you that you did this part ... It's a very small thing to get on the witness stand and say "I didn't do it". My gosh, if he would kill his youngest child, to cover up, as I believe he did, if he would stab her 30 some times in the chest and back, with an icepick and knife, then to testify falsely at trial, or usin' other people, is small potatoes against that ... in my opinion. I believe that the help(?) argument to the jury, and we made that argument. We made that argument. It was known to the jury. And I think that the problem is they outlawed that physical evidence. They were given opportunities to look at it. They were given those opportunities late in the trial, (garbled), cause they didn't ask for it sooner. They... they ... they were really slack about doin' that. They kept wanting us to send it to California. We kept sayin' we ain't gonna send it to California.
You get a court order that makes us send it to California, we'll send it to California.
RR: Don't you think it's a shame though ... not just him ... but if a person really is innocent, and they have schlock attorneys, and their one shot is wasted ... don't you think that's a shame? (nervous chuckle)
Jim B: Yes. Yes. He's never raised that issue. He has never raised the issue of a slack attorney. For instance, you know why. Cause he's afraid the courts never argue that. They're not gonna argue that they lost time.
RR: Okay, and let me ask you. I know I'm boring you to death. Usually, when somebody goes and kills somebody else, in a rage, the rage does not last that terribly long and they have time to stop and think about what their next move's gonna be, they kinda lose the rage and are left there thinkin' about the crime.
Jim B: Yes.
RR: If all that was done for all three people that were murdered, as brutally as they were murdered, something had to happen. Either his story's true, and there were other people there, because so much happened and different weapons were used, and it seems like a lot for one man to do, so either he broke the rage, the rage broke, he maybe started in a rage, the rage broke, and then he actually started rehinkin' about what he was doin'. And this made him a different kind of killer, if he were to have done it. Does that make sense?
Jim B: Yeah, I think people will kill rather quickly. But I think...
RR: (Interrupts) That one took a lot.
Jim B: Let me tell you something. The multi...
RR: (Interrupts) You see what I'm sayin'?
Jim B: The weapons, the multiple weapons, I think, are part of the cover-up. The icepick wounds to Colette did not kill Colette.
RR: See? That's where he left the rage. If he did it. That's where he left the rage. That's where he started thinkin' about .... different weapons or whatnot.
Jim B: I don't know the answer to that. Uh ... I mean...
RR: (Overrides) I mean that's one thing that a lot of people have trouble with. One reason why people have trouble believin' that he's guilty. Cause they don't think that one man could've done that much.
Jim B: Oh, I do. That's...
RR: Oh, I know you do. I know you've heard people say that.
Jim B: That's easy. Well...
RR: I don't know. I've heard a lot of people say that. How one man could do that much, in that time frame.
Jim B: But I have ... I have a arrogant response to that. (a garbled aside to RR) My arrogant response is those people weren't there, and they didn't hear the evidence, and they are doing the very same thing that you said you didn't want to do. Cause they're makin' up their minds based on no knowledge of the evidence, or what they heard neighbors say or people in the papers say, and no evidence to show that. (Garbled word) and so they presume he's innocent. My job against is not to convince the public...
RR: (Overrides)...the jury.
Jim B: Uhhuh ... and why (??) couple things? I don't care a whole lot what the public thinks. Uh, because that's not my job, and I think, again, if I played with the public, I lose sight of my job, which is to convince those jurors. Uhm, if the newspaper reporters are pretty lazy, which they were, and they come into court at 9:30 or 10:00, and the court started at an hour before, and leave at 4:00 so they make the afternoon papers in for slack and come back from lunch ...
RR: (Interrupts) Oh, I don't believe what the media exactly what I see here from the media..
Jim B: (Interrupting) ... and ... and they missed two hours of it, and then they hurt (?). Are they bein' good? I remember some reporter asking me then what's the significance of the pajama top ... I mean, she shoulda lost her job at the newspaper.
Jim B: So, you know ... it's hard to say, but I ... of course it's difficult to believe one person could do all that. But I believe it happened. I believe it as much as ... Could you kill three people? Sure you could if you had a damn club and you ... first person walked in, you clubbed him and the second person walked in, you clubbed him and knocked him out, and you... the other one's three years old ... You don't think you could do that? Yes, I think you could. Do I think you would? No. Most times that wouldn't happen. Uhm ... and I really am genuinely sorry - I would rather - the truth is, the sad truth is, I wish he had been found guilty and had been innocent. If he had been found innocent and then be found guilty, I'd probably still be practicin' law. So, it helped my career in one way ... it hurt it another.
RR: How's that?
Jim B: Because it was partly in winning the MacDonald case that got me in-this mind set that I had to win everything. And I could not be second to anyone. And so I had to please people regardless of what I did. I must've heard one thousand times if I heard it once .. if you could win the Jeffrey MacDonald case, you could surely help me on my little piddlin' thing. I began to believe that. I'm not sayin' that makes it ... that's not an excuse, but that was part of my mind set ... erroneous mind set. But I didn't have the wherewithal within me to say, well, look ... sometimes I'd say, basically different cases, sometimes I'd say that. Sometimes, I would. And say, you know, do I take great pleasure in the fact that he was (blank) at that time? No, uhuh, no.
RR: If you were to prosecute anybody, any of the cases that you ever prosecuted, and you (unintelligible) 'em, and you had to go back and something, some proof beyond a shadow of a doubt, oh my God, you had prosecuted an innocent person, and they'd been sittin' in prison, what would you ... would you do anything? What would you do?
Jim B: If I thought, even then, that I was wrong, or that I ... I know that I didn't ... or had learned that someone else did, even then ... would I come forward? Yes, I...
RR: (Interrupting) Even on a case that big? Cause that would be a big .... (slight sigh)
Jim B: Let me just tell you, if you could convince me, or anyone could convince me, on Jeffrey MacDonald, that he did not get a fair trial, the government made (garbled) the evidence, the government lied, cover-up, or something that caused a (???), would I (??) go public about it? In view of what all has happened to me? Damn right I would. I'm probably much more that way now than I would've been 5 years ago. I like to think I would've done it 5 years ago, but ... you know, why wouldn't I. You might say the only thing you have left is the MacDonald trial. No, that's not what I've got left at all. That's got nothing to do with ... What I have left is is there any more out there. Do you want to have a reputation for honesty and fairness and decency? Yet, if I believe that we really - there was a conspiracy or something. Would I do it just on a whim to get attention? No. I couldn't have done that. I was given that opportunity by MacDonald's lawyers now. They sent me some material to view. I I interviewed with them. I agreed to talk to them. And I talked to their lawyers about a year ago. I talked to Fred Bo ... I talked to ... I
RR: (Interrupts and overrides) Did you talk to Harvey Silverglate?
Jim B: Yes. No. Yes. Was it Silverglate I talked to?
RR: Silverglate's in Boston
Jim B: Yeah...Silverglate came to see me. Silverglate and somebody else from New York came to see me. And, and they may have said (garbled - 2 or 3 words), I don't know. I talked to these guys who wrote the book, and I read the book two or three times. And I really, I ... at one point, I thought, there's something wrong. And I finally concluded no, I didn't think so. It was a way to convince me. A way to get me to cooperate and say that I'd take a look at it, is not to start attacking my good friend, Brian Murtagh. Because I'm like anybody else, and I will defend my friends, unless I'm shown they've done something really wrong. And so, no one has ever accused me, even with all of this ... no one has ever accused me, that I did anything wrong in the MacDonald case ... No one.
Even that book does not say that. So, am I concerned about me? No. Is there's something I'm hidin'? No. But I...
RR: (Interrupting) I was just wonderin' what you would do...
Jim B: I hope ... But I hope ...I hope that I would do what I was supposed to do. And that would be essentially ... But do I know that ... do I think I could still (Blank) attention by (garbled)? Yes I could. Do you know how much attention I could get by doin' that? A lot ... I think.
But I think that'll be calling (???). I don't think I could call somebody (???). That'd just be my opinion. Unless there'd be some evidence to do that with. But I would be ill-advised to say something for the wrong reason. Because then the government ... my whole past would be at issue again ... which I don't mind ... provided that's legitimate. You know. I mean everything about me is ... I mean, what would it prove to me in a case if everything became public. When everything became public you don't have anything to hide behind.
RR: (In unison with Blackburn) Hide behind.
Jim B: So I hope I would do the right thing.
RR: (Laughing) The thing about how long he had for them to actually have an opportunity to look at it.
NOTE: Here RR is referring to "it" but there is no mention of any "it" that I can figure out. Perhaps part of the tape is erased or was lost, but this is the second or third area where I cannot accurately follow the train of thought/the question/the reply because something is obviously missing. If you compare this transcript (or parts of it) to the original in the S & G Office, perhaps the missing points are contained therein.
Jim B: There's correspondence about that. I'd have to go back and look at it. But I ... he had a short time. I think he had 9 years.
RR: But did he really?
Jim B: No.
RR: Let me tell you my little dream fantasy world about the justice (laugh) system.
Jim B: Okay.
RR: I would think that whenever a crime happens, lets say, Fuchs.
(This is reference to the Fuchs case, in which Rigsby is also an active participant - corresponding and visiting with the defendant - attempting, Rhonda informed me, to see if she could help him. The conversation continues along a philosophical line between RR and Jim B. with regard only to the Fuchs Case.)
SIDE TWO OF TAPE ONE
Jim B: The upshot of it is people are not perfect. People in law enforcement, and this is the scary thing, if you're going into law enforcement to watch out for.
RR: I've seen some scary things.
Jim B: If it ... you think that (garbled) people these crimes, if we want it to be that way so therefore you do something to make it be that way. I think that ... you can't do that ... you cannot do that. Did that happen in the MacDonald case? I don't know.
RR: So that's why my big argument ... You know the justice system is to make America a safer place and have justice for all.
Jim B: It should be, but prosecutors often times think that their job is to convict.
RR: No ... But. It seemed to me. I guess I'd just be a real warped attorney because it seems to me if I was an attorney, I would want to better my society. And I would want to make sure I got the right person. What if MacDonald was innocent and these people did kill his family, and they went out and they killed other people, that nobody knows about, what favor did you or anybody do to America or society?
Jim B: That's correct.
RR: (Garbled), as a matter of fact, the situation would hurt even more so than if you just left it alone. You see what I'm sayin'?
Jim B: I agree with you.
RR: I don't understand and I'm wonderin' if the prosecutors get so wrapped up, I'm not just sayin' you, I'm just sayin' in general. They're so geared towards, I gotta get him, I gotta get him, I gotta get him ... that they forget the real focus.
Jim B: I believe that. I ... I ... I think that has something to it.
RR: Because I know ... I know a lot of (garbled, sounds like prosecutors)
Note: At this point Jim B. excuses himself for a break and leaves the table. Upon returning, the recording seems to be muffling the voice(s).
Jim B: If you talked to Wade Smith, then you know he is a good one to talk to about it. Wade is a sort of idealistic person, but he's realistic and he would (garbled) you, I think, that view and you should not go into it. The truth is you probably should go into it, because the truth is that the government and prosecution need more people to fill that void, at(garbled).
RR: I know a lot of police officers. I know a lot of people in law enforcement. And I've been in it for a long time ... knowin' people, and tryin' to see if I could help. (Garbled phrase and laughter) But, I mean...
Jim B: The one about (garbled) is surprising ... for back then.
RR: Nothin' really. I don't think anything surprises me anymore.
Jim B: I understand.
RR: I just ... I feel a lot of 'em get so ??? ed up. Even where I'm working now, there are some times when you know somebody's doin' somethin', and you wanna get 'em so bad, you know it's there, but you just can't get enough to go on. And then some people would go ahead and they will go through it, or they will try to put somethin' there that helps their side or whatnot ... I'm like, "No"... You can't do that, you cannot, you cannot, you cannot because it's gonna happen again, they're gonna do it again. I know murder's a different thing. You don't want 'em to do that again. They're gonna ... I just get awfully confused, what legally is right, (garbled). You go in to get 'em, some of 'em are just itchin' so fast to get 'em right now ... gotta get 'em, gotta get 'em, gotta get 'em. (Completely garbled statements
due to muffling of recorder microphone)
Jim B: You're exactly right. I don't know that I am a good one to ask. I'm a good one to ask "Did you knowingly do anything wrong?"... answer those questions ... but to answer the question for evidence (?)...
RR: for evidence (riding over Jim B's same words above).
Jim B: I'm a ???? advocate, I guess. And is Wade an advocate? I mean advocates tend to take their point of view. I'm gonna take the point of view that he's guilty. So my answer to all these Wade questions are ???.
Jim B: So I don't know that I am the right person ... I don't know that there is a right person. Everybody seems to have an axe to grind one way or the other, that caused your view. It's very difficult to take an objective, for me to take an objective viewpoint.
RR: See? That's why I try to stay away from (garbled entire comment)
Note: The ensuing conversation is regarding her career, the FBI, and even this is not very intelligible. Added to the poor recorded quality, plus the muffling of the mike, and one or the other eating lunch while talking, added to the great amount of background noise.
Jim B: Well, I thought the "Fatal Justice" book ... I would urge you to do this: Whatever tack you take, I would ??? to write a book, write a master's thesis that is truly objective. By that I mean, if you believe the government screwed up, say so. If you believe the defense screwed up, say so. And let it (unintelligible). I don't think it's terribly well written, but it takes the point of view that everything we did was wrong and everything they did was right. That cannot possibly be true, either way. In other words, I think ... some of it is a rehash of old stories, and there's not that much new in the book. I think (garbled and unintelligible).
Note: In advising RR on how to approach her master's thesis, Jim B. outlines her questions for her, urging her to not be one-sided.
Jim B: At least, don't write it in such a way that it becomes a one-sided view either for the government or for the defendant. Would MacDonald have been better served under certain situations? I think yes. In ???, the Puretz Memo can be argued both ways. I agree with that. I have no (???) with (???). Do I wish he hadn't written it? Of course. You know?
RR:(Laughter) You said that was his first case, right?
Jim B: I think it was his first trial. He may have tried one other case before that. But I think...
RR: But that (garbled).
Jim B: Oh no. No. No. No. He was...
RR: (Interrupting) He went out ... you guys were ... not living by (garbled) I mean, you were all very young. Everybody involved.
Jim B: Brian ... very likable. Very nice. Very distrustful anybody (garbled). Much less trustful than I am.
RR: I kinda got that impression. (Laughter) Do you think he would let me talk to him? Or not?
Jim B: Would ... but I don't know that. I don't know that Brian. I don't know.
RR: How could I find him?
Jim B:(Garbled) I may have...
RR: (Overriding & garbled)...some nut coming in.
Jim B: (Over RR) I may have a home telephone number him. If I do, I will give it to you. Before we leave today, if you want to give me your address, I will look and see what I have.
RR: Okay. I was gonna ask you if there was an address or somewhere I could write you or whatever, if some more questions come up?
Jim B: Umhm.
RR: 'Cause usually, I have planned on doing my research on anything. I researched a lot (garbled). Put down that I do an interview or whatnot, and then, a couple of months later I come across and, "My gosh, I wish I could've (??), You know I wish I knew about this then...and I could've asked..." and the chance is gone and ohhh, no. Now I'll never know. So...because I've got my whole pregnancy to work.
My masters ... which is great. But like I told ya', I can't stand the thought of sittin' there not doin' anything ... pertaining to my degree. (garbled phrase)
Jim B: No, I think that would be fine. I think ... I don't know if Brian would or would not. I haven't talked for several ... I haven' t talked to him in a good while. I don't know if I talked with him since I left (garbled statement or name). I might have talked to him. I don't remember.
RR: Who would you suggest would be other people to talk to?
Jim B: (Garbled)....Stombaugh.
RR: Where can I find him?
Jim B: He is now in South Carolina. It's not Columbia, (garbled).
Note: RR and Jim B. discuss which town for a moment until Jim B. says he'll look it up.
RR: What's he doin'?
Jim B: I think he retired.
RR: But what about all the people like...
Jim B: Stombaugh is who I think I would talk to.
RR: What about all the other people like that who were in the army? Do you ever talk to them, like Colonel Rock?
NOTE: AT THIS POINT THE TAPE STOPS AND THERE IS NO MORE OF THE INTERVIEW.