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Episode 38: Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker Trial Testimony

This is testimony from Day 6 (March 14, 2016) of the Hulk Hogan trial, in which former wrestling star Hulk Hogan sued the gossip website Gawker and its founder Nick Denton for publishing a sex tape of him with his best friend’s wife, Heather Clem.

On the stand, being slowly eviscerated by Hogan’s attorney Douglas Mirell, is 41-year-old Gawker’s editor in chief A. J. Daulerio. Despite his smart jacket and tie, Daulerio looks sleep-deprived and bored, and occasionally comes across as arrogant and supercilious. At the beginning of the proceedings, Mirell refers to testimony from a deposition in which Daulerio admits that he “enjoyed watching the video… because I found it very amusing,” and he was “proud” to have published it. When Mirell asks if he can imagine a situation in which a celebrity sex tape would not be newsworthy, Daulerio replies, “If they were a child.” “Under what age?” asks Mirell. “Four,” Daulerio answers. “No 4-year-old sex tapes, OK,” Mirell says. Daulerio later contends that he was being sarcastic.

But the Florida jury was not amused, and after a two week trial, they awarded Hogan $140 million in damages over the tape, and ordered Dauleria to pay a $100,000 personal fine for posting the tape on the internet. The trial led to Gawker’s downfall, and Daulerio’s bankruptcy.

Listen to the trial testimony here.

Watch the clip on Youtube.

Episode 37: Casey Anthony Police Interview

Casey Anthony’s interview with an Orange County sheriff’s sergeant and two detectives was conducted on July 16, 2008, in a conference room at Universal Studios. The interview concerns Casey’s infant daughter, Caylee, who was last seen June 16, 2008, but was not reported missing until a month later. Casey claimed she worked at Universal Studios and led the officers there, only to eventually confess that she had not, in fact, worked there for some time.

Casey claimed that Caylee had been kidnapped by her nanny, the fictional Zenaida Fernandez Gonzales, but the detectives do not believe her. They plead with Anthony to tell the truth about what happened to Caylee. “None of us are sitting here believing what you’re saying because everything that’s coming out of your mouth is a lie,” Detective Yuri Melich tells Anthony. “Everything. And unless we start getting the truth, we’re going to announce two possibilities with Caylee: Either you gave Caylee to someone that you don’t want anyone to find out because you think you’re a bad mom. Or something happened to Caylee and Caylee’s buried somewhere or in a trash can somewhere, and you had something to do with it. Either way, right now it’s not a very pretty picture to be painting.”

Asked later whether Fernandez Gonzales accepted money, Anthony says, “I would not have sold my daughter. If I wanted to really just get rid of her, I would have left her with my parents and I would’ve left. I would’ve moved out. I would’ve given my mom custody.” When asked what Anthony wants her mother to give the media as a message to Caylee, Anthony breaks down as she says to tell her daughter “that Mommy loves her very much, and she’s the most important thing in this entire world to me, and to be brave. I truly, truly love that little girl, and miss her so much.”

Later that day, after authorities failed to find Zenaida Fernandez Gonzales in a database of Florida driver’s licenses, Casey Anthony was arrested on suspicion of giving police false information, obstructing an investigation and child neglect. The skeletal remains of Caylee Anthony were found in December 2008, not far from the Anthony home. Casey was  charged with seven counts in Caylee’s death, including first-degree murder. She could have faced the death penalty, but was found not guilty, and released.

Listen to the interview here.

Read the transcript here.

Episode 36: Charles Manson Parole Hearing

This morning, Charles Manson’s existential parole finally ran out.

In 1971, Charles Manson was found guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder for the deaths of seven people – including the actress Sharon Tate – all of which were carried out by members of the group at his instruction. Manson also received first-degree murder convictions for two other deaths. He was originally sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment when California invalidated the state’s death penalty statute in 1972. His sentence was commuted to life. From Vacaville, he was transferred to California State Prison in Corcoran, where this hearing took place.

Manson was 62 at this 1997 parole hearing, the last one he attended. He stopped showing up because he knew the hearings were a charade, and he would never be released. His paranoid rant is eloquently phrased, but the phrases are disconnected and make sense only to him. Like the sermon of a hypocritical preacher, his rhythms are hypnotic but they have no foundation. “You can’t get into the real estate,” he says and one point, “because Pasadena is a submarine that’s run by Gerry Hoover, who’s over in the chapel, who comes from Columbia with the drug cartel saying he got money with two girls and he’s taking that pussy…”

The Parole Commissioner, Steve Baker, reads sections of a report from a psychiatrist who interviewed Manson, Dr. Wayne O. Evans, who wrote, “As usual, inmate Manson spoke in metaphor and allegory,and on occasion had to be reminded to be more linear and concrete. He has a clinical history of exercising control, manipulation, and power over his associates and followers, fueled by narcissistic rage for real or imagined slights … he exhibits some signs of schizoaffective personality disorder; once in a while he does revert to magical thinking and flights of fancy, but more in allegory and metaphor than in a delusional system. … He has considerable artistic ability, and should be encouraged to pursue such controlled outlets for this expression.”

Manson responds, “Whoever did that did a really good job, didn’t he? Yeah, that was a real nice report. I thought the guy had a lot of good things down there, pretty much. I’m a lot of those things. He’s making me look a little better than I really am, but whatever it takes is where I have to roll.”

R.I.P, Charlie.

Listen to the parole hearing here.

More information about the Manson case here

Episode 35: Paige Birgfeld Murder Trial

When Paige Birgfeld went missing from her home in Grand Valley, Colorado on June 28 2007, police were faced with a baffling number of suspects. The 34-year-old twice-divorced mother-of-three was also known as “Carrie.” She had worked as a stripper in Las Vegas in the past, and currently owned  an escort agency called Models, Inc. She advertised on Craigslist, among other locations, sometimes answering her business cellphone pretending to be a secretary in an attempt to convince men she had several women available. Sometimes she did, but often it was just Paige.

It took police seven years to comb through the alibis of the various suspects in the case, on of whom was her neighbor, Joseph Carruth, who testifies here.

Carruth explains that he met Birgfeld at a pool party that she had for her son’s soccer team, on which Carruth’s son also played. Carruth admits that he was attracted to Birgfeld and called her that night and asked for a date, but she politely turned him down. A couple of months later, Carruth called an escort service for a massage, and recognized Birgfeld when “Carrie” arrived. Birgfeld later told her ex-husband, with whom she was in the process of reuniting, that she didn’t recognize Carruth at first, but he recognized her.

Carruth told investigators she asked him to consider “dancing for her at bachelorette parties,” and he said he would think about it. The two played phone-tag the following day, which was the day Birgfeld disappeared. Eventually, another of her clients, 63-year-old Lester Jones, was convicted of her murder.

Listen to the calm, placid, polite voice of the judge in the case, Brian Flynn. Also of note is Kara Smith, Lester Jones’s young defense attorney who tries to make Carruth into a viable suspect, and, in his defense, the unruffled D.A., Dan Rubinstein.

Listen to Carruth’s testimony here.

Learn more about the case here.

Episode 34: Michael Dunn Police Interview

Around 7:30 p.m. on Nov 23 2012, Michael Dunn, 47, and his girlfriend Rhonda Rauer, stopped a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida, on their way back from Dunn’s son’s wedding. They had left early (they had left their new puppy in a crate in their hotel room) and stopped to pick up a bottle of wine and a bag of chips. They pulled up next to an SUV containing four teenage boys who were playing rap music at high volume. Dunn asked the boys to turn their music down, and one of them lowered the volume, but than another boy, Jordan Davis, turned it up again to a level which Dunn would later describe in court as “ridiculously loud.” Dunn objected and Jordan Davis cursed at him and, according to Dunn, threatened to kill him.

As Dunn describes in this police interview, Davis opened his car door and pointed what appeared to be a shotgun at him. Dunn, who had a concealed weapons permit, said he feared for his life. He took a handgun out of his glove compartment and started firing at Davis. As the SUV backed up to evade his gunshots, Dunn opened his car door and continued firing at the SUV.

When Rhonda Rauer returned to the car, Dunn put his foot on the gas and sped away. The couple drove back to their hotel, where they walked the dog and ordered pizza. The next morning, Rouer saw a news report about the shooting including the fact that Jordan Davis had died. The couple still did not call the police, but canceled their plans and drove home. In this interview, Dunn claims he called a neighbor who works in law enforcement to arrange to speak to him about the shooting. However, records showed that the neighbor actually called him, and Rouer later testified in court that the shooting was never mentioned during the call. When Dunn arrived home, police were waiting for him, and he was arrested–and eye witness at the garage had made a note of his license place.

Here, Dunn claims that he mentioned to Rouer several times that he men had a shotgun, but in court, Rouer testified that Dunn never mentioned a shotgun either that night or the next day. No weapons were found in the SUV. After an initial mistrial, Dunn was found guilty of first degree murder on October 1, 2014, and sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 90 years.

Listen to the interview here.

More information about the case.

Episode 33: UFO hotline phone call

On December 12, 1987, a man in Climax Springs, Missouri  called the 24-hour hotline of the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC)to describe his encounter with a UFO and its occupants, who were staring at him “like a zebra in a zoo.” His call is taken by Robert Gribble, founder of the National UFO reporting center, who interviews him about the encounter for half an hour.

Gribble operated NUFORC for twenty years, gaining credible UFO reports from all over the world until 1994, when a fellow researcher took over the data collection responsibility. According to Robert Barrow, a member of the NUFORC team who reviewed the recordings,  “There’s something about the recorded voice, disembodied from a visualized talking head. Often the raw, unadulterated self-narrative of one’s UFO experience reinforces the incident’s integrity, and frequently voice inflections and choice of words can betray a hoax or delusion. But make no mistake, sounds hold our attention as we use our minds in an attempt to comprehend the unseen, if not the unknown.”

Listen to the recording here

More information about the NUFORC recordings

Episode 32: Barney Hill Hypnosis Tape

On September 19, 1961, Betty and Barney Hill, along with dachshund Delsey, were returning home to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, traveling south on US Route 3. At approximately 10:15 pm they noted a “bright star” which appeared to move erratically. They continued to watch it as it apparently paced them and got closer and closer. Barney stopped the car, and the couple looked at the object through binoculars. They saw a spinning, flattened circular disk with multicolored lights on the rim. About two miles north of North Woodstock, the object descended and hovered about 100 feet in the air in front of the Hill’s car. A blue-white fluorescent glow shone through its windows.

Barney stopped the car and got out. He could see several uniformed, human-like figures and grew frightened, jumping in the car, and driving down the road. Suddenly, the Hills both heard an irregular beeping sound, felt a tingling sensation and became drowsy. The next thing they remembered was a second series of beeps, and they were driving through Plymouth, New Hampshire. It was two hours later, and they had no memory of what had happened to them. However, they both reported feeling clammy and dirty.

Betty and Barney Hill came to believe they had been abducted by aliens. Around two years after the incident, they began to visit Dr. Benjamin Simon, a Boston psychiatrist and hypnotherapist. Dr. Simon began hypnotizing the Hills on January 4, 1964. He hypnotized Betty, 41, and Barney, 39, several times each, and the sessions lasted until June 6, 1964 (over 9 hours of recordings were made). Simon conducted the sessions separately, so Betty and Barney could not overhear one another’s recollections, which turned out to be remarkably similar. At the end of each session he reinstated amnesia.

Dr. Simon admitted privately, in correspondence, that he did not not believe the Hills were abducted. Instead, he felt that they were re-living a dream that Betty had experienced right after the incident, and which she had discussed with her husband. He believed the dream had been transferred to Barney, an example of  folie à deux whereby a delusion or hallucination is transmitted from one person to another.

When Barney first describes the aliens he saw inside the UFO, he says, “One person looks friendly to me. … And he’s smiling.”  And when the doctor asks, “What was his face like?” Barney replies, “It was round.  I think of—I think of—a red-headed Irishman.  … I think I know why.  Because Irish are usually hostile to Negroes.  And when I see a friendly Irish person, I react to him by thinking—I will be friendly.  And I think this one that is looking over his shoulder is friendlyHe looks like a German Nazi.  He’s a Nazi … a black scarf around his neck, dangling over his left shoulder.”

Dr. Simon felt that the abduction narrative reflected the Hills’ anxiety as the result of being in a very early interracial marriage in a predominantly white part of the country. He thought Barney may have suffered from a persecution complex. He said, “my interest in UFOs was almost entirely on the phenomena of Barney’s developing racial paranoia which seemed to me to have been the best representation on the matter I had seen.”

Listen to the hypnosis session here.

More about the case.

Episode 31: Byron Smith audiotape

     Byron David Smith, 64, was a retired State Department security engineering officer whose home in Little Falls, Minnesota had been broken into multiple times at least half a dozen times during 2012. The thieves had stolen thousands of dollars in cash, the watch his father had received after spending nearly a year as a POW in World War II, medals and ribbons Smith had earned in Vietnam, several firearms, and jewelry. Smith, who was angry that local police had not been able to prevent the break-ins, began wearing a holster with a loaded gun inside his home.

On Thanksgiving, 2012, Smith was at home when he heard people casing his property outside. He took his gun and went to sit in his basement, waiting for six hours to shoot the intruders. He turned on an audio recorder to tape the incident, intending to show he was attacked inside his home (defending your home against intruders is permitted under the state’s “Castle law”). However, the audio tape also picked up Smith’s bitter curses and angry mutterings, including him rehearsing what he was planning to say to police and attorneys after he had killed the burglars (“I realize I don’t have an appointment, but I would like to see one of the lawyers here,” he says at one point).

The intruders were two local teenagers, Haile Kifer, 18, and her cousin, Nicholas Brady, 17, who were being investigated for prior burglaries, including those at Smith’s house. When Brady appears at the top of the basement stairs, we can hear Smith shoot him twice, then we hear Brady fall downstairs and Smith firing again, shooting him in the face and killing him.

Minutes later, we hear Kifer entering the basemen. Smith shoots her at the top of the stairs. She cries out, “Oh my god!” and falls down the stairs. Smith goes to shoot her again, but his rifle jams. He picks up his revolver and fires many times into her chest, then dragged her across the floor and put her body next to that of her cousin, and killed her instantly with a shot to the head.  Following the shootings, he mutters, “I am not a bleeding heart liberal. I felt like I was cleaning up a mess – not like spilled food, not like vomit, not even like…not even like diarrhea – the worst mess possible. And I was stuck with it…in some tiny little respect…in some tiny little respect. I was doing my civic duty. If the law enforcement system couldn’t handle it, I had to do it. I had to do it. The law system couldn’t handle her and if it fell into my lap and she dropped her problem in my lap…and she threw her own problem in my face. And I had to clean it up.”

Smith waited until the following day to have a neighbor call police, saying that he did not want to bother law enforcement on Thanksgiving. When interviewed by police, he acknowledged “firing more shots than I needed to,” and and described firing “a good clean finishing shot” into Kifer’s head. This use of excessive force, coupled with the fact that Smith had clearly been lying in wait for the teens, led to his conviction for two counts of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison, and his appeal denied.

Listen to the audio here.

Learn more about the case here.

Episode 30: Fiona Wais testimony, Steven Capobianco Trial

This episode features testimony in the trial of Steven Capobianco, 30, for the murder in Hawaii of Carly “Charli” Scott, his 27-year-old ex-girlfriend who was five months pregnant with their child when she went missing in February of 2014.  Capobianco pleaded not guilty to the charges in the trial, which took place in July of 2014.

Charli met Steven Capobianco in 2009. She fell in love, and Steven invited her to live with him, but during the two years the couple lived together, according to the prosecution, “the defendant would tell his friends that they were just roommates and he did not like to take pictures with her.”

After Steven broke up with her, Charli continued to love him, even though she knew he didn’t care about her. It was after they had broken up, and when Steven had a new girlfriend, that he got Charli pregnant.

Charli’s mother testified that on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, she went to check on her daughter at her home in Makawao, Hawaii, and noticed that one of Charli’s dogs was in the home and had urinated and defecated inside.  Charli’s other dog, Nala, was missing.

Charli had three sisters, Brooke, Fiona, and Phaedra, who all testified in the trial. Her two younger sisters, Fiona and Phaedra often stayed at the home Charli shared with Steven to spend more time with their sister. When Charli went missing, Fiona was 16 and Phaedra 13. The girls found evidence of her remains in a nearby forest, along with the burned-out shell of her car.

In her trial testimony, Fiona relates how Charli announced her pregnancy to her family, how Steven had insisted that she get an abortion, and Charli’s refusal to do so. After learning that her sister was pregnant, Fiona says that she contacted Capobianco to ask him questions. He replied by saying that, “I thought she took care of it.” Fiona told him that Charli was having the baby.

Fiona also said that Charli did not get along with their stepfather, and at the time of her disappearance, she was not allowed at her mother and stepfather’s home. Later, when Charli went missing, Fiona told the jury that Steven had said, “I have a hypothesis that Charli could have picked up a hitchhiker,” adding, “It didn’t make sense to me, because the story that I had heard repeatedly was that Steven’s car was having problems, and when they were last seen, he was driving down the road in front of Charli to make sure that his vehicle didn’t break down again.”

Listen to Fiona’s testimony here.

Read more about the case here.

Watch the trial on YouTube

Episode 29: Gypsy Willis Testimony, Martin McNeill Trial

From the outside, the MacNeills were the ideal Mormon family. They lived in a gated community in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Martin MacNeill was a doctor, lawyer, and Mormon Bishop; his homemaker wife Michele was a former fashion model and beauty queen. The couple had four natural children: Rachel, Vanessa, Alexis and Damian, and four girls adopted from the Ukraine: Giselle, Elle, Sabrina, and Ada.

But in private, Martin MacNeill was not happy with Michele, talked about wanting a divorce, watched pornography and had extramarital affairs. When, after 30 years of marriage, Michele, 50, died while at home recovering from a facelift, her family was suspicious. Their suspicious increased when MacNeill began openly dating his children’s nanny, Gypsy Willis.

During her testimony at Martin MacNeill’s murder trial in 2013, Gypsy calmly describes meeting the doctor at a dating site in 2005, when she was a nursing student. They went to lunch, and MacNeill seemed reserved. He told her he was married and had a great life, but he was looking for extramarital excitement, she says, “and that is what I was. It was very passionate and very sexual. It was so fun—this beautiful, handsome doctor taking time out of his life for me.”

After the lunch, they stayed in touch; instant messaging progressed to texting, their relationship eventually shifting from lunch dates to lovers around January 2006. She claims to have been genuinely shocked when Michele MacNeill died, but went along with Martin’s plan to move her into his family’s life gradually, as nanny to the younger children. Gypsy says Martin proposed to her just three months after his wife’s death, although they were never married. She also read excerpts from letters she and MacNeill exchanged while both were in prison on identity-theft charges.

These charges were just one of the dark secrets that emerged during the trial. MacNeill had stolen his 16-year-old adopted daughter Giselle’s identity documents and given them to Gypsy. He was also found guilty of sexually molesting Alexis on two occasions. It also turned out that MacNeill had falsified university transcripts to enter medical school, and that the couple’s youngest adopted daughter Ada was, in fact, the child of their daughter Vanessa, who was a heroin addict. In 2010, their 24-year old son Damian committed suicide.

Gypsy Willis was sentenced to three years of probation. Martin MacNeill was sentenced to life without parole, and committed suicide in Utah State Prison in April 2017, at the age of 60.

Listen to Gypsy’s testimony here

Watch on Youtube here

MacNeill Trial Documents