Who Let The Dog Out?

Bounty hunter Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman is back in the United States. Why did the Mexican government finally release America’s most famous bounty hunter? And should the man who captured rapist Andrew Luster even return to Mexico to face a trial?

Let’s begin with bounty hunter Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman back in the U.S. What a long, strange trip it’s been. ‘The Dog’ captured fugitive rapist Andrew Luster in Mexico; bounty hunting illegal south of the border. Chapman, several relatives wound up in jail. We thought they weren’t allowed to leave the country, but less than an hour ago “The Dog” , his son Leland and half brother Tim Chapman held a press conference in Beverly Hills.

DUANE ‘DOG’ CHAPMAN, BOUNTY HUNTER: I’m sure the Mexican authorities will resolve this matter to go my way. There was no secret I wanted to catch Andrew Luster. He has now been proven not only an American rapist, but an international rapist. Many of the people of Mexico came up to me and thanked me and said my daughters, my wives are safer because of you (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and your family.

My lawyers made certain to me that I knew the law in Mexico. We thought we did not break the law. We still don’t think we broke the law there. We were treated with great respect in Mexico by the people of Mexico and most of the authorities. My mother used to tell me that in the Bible it said that God put the judges in their position. I believe that.

ABRAMS: All right, just so you know, we got a press release from “The Dog” and his team and it’s — the headline is “Bounty Hunter Comes Home”. The first line is “American heroes. Duane “Dog” Chapman, his son Leland and half brother Tim are holding a press conference today.” We’re going to play a lot of sound from this press conference, but first, I just want to ask our panel if they agree that this is a team of American heroes.

So Chris Downey, Wendy Murphy, Mickey Sherman and Brian Wice join us to talk about this. All right, let’s go around the horn on this one first before we play more from this amazing press conference. Mickey Sherman, American heroes?

MICKEY SHERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Absolutely. I guess I should be offended because I’m a criminal defense lawyer and maybe he violated Andrew Luster’s rights, but I got real problems with being concerned about Andrew Luster’s rights. I think he’s a hero in every respect of the word. He not only helped the people of his constituency in the United States, but I think he saved some poor folks who may have been…

ABRAMS: Chris Downey, American heroes?

CHRIS DOWNEY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I’d have to vote in the hero column as well. I’m glad he’s off the streets, and I’m sure there are a lot of people that agree with him.

ABRAMS: Brian Wice.

BRIAN WICE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Oh, absolutely. I think everything Chris and Mickey have said so far goes for me in spades. This is a bad guy who’s off the streets. ” Dog” Chapman went across a border knowing that he might have wound up in harm’s way and did the right thing.

ABRAMS: Wendy.

WENDY MURPHY, FMR. PROSECUTOR: You know, it’s not every night that I agree with Mickey Sherman, but I could give him a big fat kiss right now. He’s absolutely right and you know, there’s nothing wrong with seeing these guys as heroes for the tiny little law they broke, which is something like holding a person against their will and you know what he did do in terms of both bringing back a convicted rapist and what I was surprised to hear, Dan, that he apparently also brought back a guy who committed rapes in Mexico. I mean, I hadn’t heard that. I think that’s incredible news and you know what, look…


MURPHY: … who cares if his rights were violated…

ABRAMS: All right…

MURPHY: … who cares if that small law…

ABRAMS: This is — the question everyone has been asking is what were those moments like when he saw Andrew Luster for the first time? “The Dog” explained it.


CHAPMAN: Oh, my God, that’s Andrew Luster. What a big guy, 6’3″, 245. You know, he’s a big, big man. The girls — he was — my brother came and said, he’s in the club right now and the flashing lights are on him and the girls are 17 years old walking around, he’s like the troll on the bridge rubbing his hands. He said he’s looking at the prey.


ABRAMS: You know, I still wonder why the FBI — I mean, the FBI did not sort of come to this guy’s defense. And I have to say, “The Dog” at his press conference was not attacking the FBI at all. He was saying, look, they got limited resources, they got a lot of stuff to do. I mean, it’s as if “The Dog” has become the diplomat, Mickey.

SHERMAN: He really has and I think — I doubt very much if he’s being handled. He seems to have some innate sense of what to say and what not to say, and I love the way he’s kissing up to the Mexican government and the Mexican judges. He’s saying all the right things. Although I got to tell you, if I was him, not only would I not go back to Mexico, I wouldn’t go out for…


SHERMAN: … Mexican food over the next five years.

ABRAMS: We’re going to talk about that in a minute. Let me play another — because what I want to try and do throughout this half-hour is just — this just happened. This press conference just happened. So, I want people sort of get to hear as much of him as possible. One of the — this was another amazing part of the press conference was that apparently Andrew Luster e-mailed “The Dog” beforehand and then they got to talk about, follow up on the e-mail when they were both captured in jail. Let’s listen.


CHAPMAN: Andrew Luster wrote an e-mail that said, your style, I’ll spot it, you won’t have enough money to catch me. I said, how about that, and he said, deep down inside, ‘Dog’ , I knew you were going to get me.


ABRAMS: All right. He knew he was going to get him. I mean, you know, does anyone have any insight into this guy Luster? Anyone want to chime in here?

WICE: I mean, this guy is obviously a cement head. What kind of guy with the breaks that this kid got in life, good looks, good B.S., a wonderful beachside house, is going to not only sexually assault women, but commit that to tape and then when he sees the trial going against him plead (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I mean you got to take your chances here. The last thing you want to do is take your show on the road.


MURPHY: I’ll give you some insight, Dan. You know, this is a kind of guy who is chocked full of entitlement right up to his eyeballs, a guy entitled by wealth, by gender, by status in society and just thought that people — you know the women he was with…


MURPHY: … they were not human beings. They were his toys to do with what he may and he just got greedy and he took it over the limit and that’s the most serious crime…

ABRAMS: Chris…

MURPHY: … really. I mean, he is a beast.

ABRAMS: Chris Downey, any sense of how “The Dog” got out? I mean we were told initially that he was going to be held in Mexico, meaning he could leave jail, but he had to stay in Mexico. Now he’s saying that their legal team is advising they’ll be working on this matter while they’re in the United States to reunite with their loved ones and to tend to their business affairs. It sounds like the Mexican authority said, go back home.

DOWNEY: Well, it sounds that way and quite simply I’m at a loss. I know that politics can sometimes play a very big role in matters across the border. I wonder to what extent the Mexican authorities might already recognize that there’s a great deal of sentiment on this fellow’s behalf and they may not see a downside to letting him go back to the United States. They may not care whether he comes back.

ABRAMS: Well and that’s the question. We’re going to take a break here. We’re going to deal with two issues when we come back. We’re going to listen to more of the sound and we’re also going to talk about whether “The Dog” should even go back to Mexico to face this charge or should he just ignore it? It’s coming up.


CHAPMAN: One of the headlines that night in Puerto Vallarta said, “High school girls from America by the thousands are coming here.” There’s a song by Eminem that says “Take the moment, it’s your chance.” We had to protect everyone we thought.


ABRAMS: Coming up, more on the press conference held only an hour ago by Duane “The Dog” Chapman who captured Max Factor heir Andrew Luster. He’ll answer the question, is he going to return to Mexico to face trial there. Coming up.




CHAPMAN: Absolutely.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you required to?

CHAPMAN: My lawyers are working on that legal issue.


ABRAMS: You may not have been able to hear the question there. The question was are you going to return to Mexico. Yes. When? Soon. This, a press conference held just about an hour ago by Duane “The Dog” Chapman, the man who captured Max Factor heir Andrew Luster. You know the story.

He was arrested for bounty hunting, for kidnapping initially. The charges reduced significantly, but he’s still facing charges in Mexico. So the question, should he even go back to face trial? We are going to be playing more of that press conference throughout this half-hour, but Chris Downey, I have now appointed you the attorney for Andrew Luster. You are his attorney here in the United States. He comes to you and he says, Mr. Downey, you know the charges against me. You know that I’m supposed to return to Mexico. Should I?

DOWNEY: Well, my gut instinct before I do any research is no. But that said, I think we’ve got to ask, what is your exposure down there and also we got to take the political temperature down there and find out what the result is going to be. If the result is going to be minor, if the result is going to be in our favor, heck, yes, we go back.

ABRAMS: Wendy Murphy.

MURPHY: You know, look, sometimes justice is bigger than the law and bigger than the rules, and I have no doubt there are communications going on behind the scenes between Mexican authorities and U.S. authorities, and if there’s any way he can avoid going back, even if they don’t say openly we give you permission to ignore our law…


MURPHY: … he’s not going and I wouldn’t let him go.

ABRAMS: All right. Before I go to Mickey and Brian on this, he talked about this issue, about talking to a Mexican judge down there — again, let’s listen again to Duane “The Dog” .


CHAPMAN: The judge, you guys got it on tape down there, OK, the reporters, said to me, himself, when you come down, do it right. They welcome anyone to do it right to get rid of them. I mean, they’re such a peaceful people, you know, they don’t want American killers, rapists and all that in their country, absolutely they don’t.


ABRAMS: Mickey, it sounds like ” Dog” has faith in the Mexican system. He says he’s going back.

SHERMAN: Dan, by the way, you should wear the shades when you do your show…

ABRAMS: Get a shiner…


ABRAMS: … that’s why he wore the shades.

SHERMAN: You know, I would hope that ” Dog” has hired the Mexican Johnnie Cochran and have something worked out. I would be a little bit reluctant to just walk right back into that flame there, I really would.

ABRAMS: Brian Wice, what do you advise him?

WICE: Well I hope he’s hired the Mexican Mickey Sherman, forget about Johnnie Cochran.

SHERMAN: Thanks so much…

WICE: Look, Dan, unless he’s going back to Cancun to shoot a “Girls Gone Wild” video with “Snoop Dog Dog” (ph), no, not only no, but heck no. Look, anybody who has ever been on vacation in Mexico and gotten a traffic ticket in Cozumel understands that due process are two words you generally don’t hear in the Mexican criminal justice system. He doesn’t get anywhere near the Mexican border, Dan.

ABRAMS: Yes, well, I think he’s going to have to think of something to the equivalent, if you weren’t bit, you must have quit. There’s a big question there about whether “The Dog” actually bit him or not. All right, one more piece of sound in this block. This is “The Dog” as the diplomat talking about whether he wishes the FBI should — whether he thinks the FBI should have stepped in more to help him out.


CHAPMAN: They’ve only got a certain budget that they work on for what’s most important. Was that night, the bomb on the bridge most important, or was it Andrew Luster’s apprehension to the FBI, right?


ABRAMS: Wendy, is someone advising this guy? I mean he seems to be giving all the politick answers.

MURPHY: You know, look, who knows? I mean it sounds like it, because there’s no question about it. There was a race, he beat the FBI by a couple of hours. I’m sure they were furious, but he doesn’t have to rub their nose in it. I mean, obviously he’s back here. Somebody was nice to him. Frankly, Dan, I think people were watching your show the other night when you started your “Save The Dog” campaign and that’s really what did it.

ABRAMS: “Free The Dog” . “Free The Dog” .

MURPHY: That’s what did it. Oh, “Free The Dog” not “Save The Dog” .

ABRAMS: “Free The Dog” .

MURPHY: You know, there’s no question about it that you know he’s doing the politically correct thing with his speech and who cares whether it’s because people have told him to say it or not. He’s doing the right thing, I think.

ABRAMS: Brian, do you have any sense of whether he’s getting advice on what to say and how — I mean, he really does seem to be giving all the right answers. He’s complimenting the Mexican authorities. He’s going after the bad guy Andrew Luster. He’s talking about the FBI doing what they can.

WICE: This guy needs to give the Cuomos and Kennedys some P.R. advice. I mean look, this is not “The Dog’s” first time at the rodeo, Dan. This is a man who’s got street sense, who spent time in the penitentiary and nothing spells good P.R. like a stint in the Texas Department of Corrections. I hope he’s writing his own material. He’s touching all the right bases and touching all the right nerves.

ABRAMS: We are going to play more of “The Dog” in the press conference coming up.

Also ahead missing Baylor University basketball Patrick Dennehy. We’ll talk with his ex-girlfriend and ask whether police may be mishandling the case.

Plus, sniper suspect Lee Malvo gets a trial move 200 miles away. Prosecutors are furious. They’re sounding off and so will our “Justice Roundtable”.



CHAPMAN: The flag — there’s a thing in Mexico right now and it’s got the Mexican flag and the United States flag coming together with our picture underneath it. They said Mayor Giuliani came here, took three million and gave his advice.


ABRAMS: You got to love the fact, talking about the fact that Mexico and the United States have come together under the mutual admiration of “The Dog” , but it is clear that all of our panelists agree that “The Dog” did not overstate it when he called himself an American hero. Let me read you all part of this press release here that was put out, again by the American heroes, Duane “The Dog” , his son Leland, his half brother Tim.” Duane “Dog” and his two accompanying bounty hunters Leland and Tim Chapman spent four nights in the municipal jail in Puerto Vallarta, one night in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) federal penitentiary in Mexico and had been residing in a Puerto Vallarta hotel while out on bail. They were originally charged with conspiracy and depravation of liberty of the arrest of Andrew Luster, an international rapist who was wanted by the FBI for several counts in Ventura County. They say that the conspiracy charges were dropped. They’re still facing the deprivation of liberty charge.”

All right. You know, Wendy, I still think it’s possible if the Mexican authorities are letting him come home, that they are ultimately going to drop all the charges against him. Now, what I was amazed to read at one point is that for certain crimes in Mexico, you can legally pay them so you don’t have to serve time.

MURPHY: Yes, isn’t that a funny thing? We’ve always thought or been suspicious of the level of corruption down there, which is also why some people thought that’s why Andrew Luster hadn’t been captured. That he’s so wealthy he could put money in the pocket of every cop and sit there in their face and drink Mai Tais. You know, I don’t understand how you can pay to have charges dropped, but I suspect it’s for particularly low-level crimes.

ABRAMS: Right. It is and it’s just — it’s not to really have them dropped as much as it is to avoid jail time.

MURPHY: Avoid jail time…

ABRAMS: You basically get — you’re basically paying a fine instead of jail time.

MURPHY: Right. Right. You’re compensating the system in some way and maybe it’s like court costs in exchange for dismissal. It’s usually not as overt as that and you don’t see it a reward — you know, I don’t know. It doesn’t sound good, but, look, I have no doubt that some kind of deal has already been made, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Mexican government…


MURPHY: … say, we’re dropping the charges, we don’t care if he comes back…


MURPHY: … and he has made his…


MURPHY: … he’s made his dues or paid his fine or whatever.

ABRAMS: Chris Downey, I am predicting right now on this program that there will be no trial of Duane “Dog” Chapman in Mexico.

DOWNEY: Dan, there will be no trial of Duane Chapman. There’s no doubt about that. I just think that the political climate and in addition the massive outpouring of sympathy that he would generate, is well known to the Mexican government, and I imagine that they feel the same way.

ABRAMS: Mickey, why is no one mad at this guy? I mean, you know, look, I’m not either, but why is it that no criminal — very few criminal defense attorneys, for example, are coming out and saying, look, this guy goes out on his own and hauls this guy into his car, that’s not OK, that’s not the way the system is supposed to work. Why aren’t the criminal…

SHERMAN: I know…

ABRAMS: … defense attorneys out defending him?

SHERMAN: A couple of things working here. One thing is basically they’re allowed to do that in this country, and I don’t think any of us have a great deal of problems in extending it to Mexico. Another thing is this is not a suspected person. This is not someone who was accused of a crime.


SHERMAN: He’s been convicted. The system has worked. And even us criminal — we criminal defense attorneys believe in the system…


SHERMAN: … so he’s been convicted, so…

ABRAMS: And Brian, I’ve also got to believe that criminal defense attorneys are furious at Andrew Luster for leaving in the middle of the case. I mean, what more of a nightmare…


ABRAMS: … than to be representing someone, for him to leave town in the middle of the trial?

SHERMAN: It happens, Dan. We don’t take it personally. I don’t, at least. It’s happened to me. It’s part of the deal. They’re doing it at their peril. They’re putting themselves…

ABRAMS: When Alex Kelly — were you representing Alex Kelly when he left town?

SHERMAN: Yes. Yes…

ABRAMS: This is this rapist in Connecticut, ended up being convicted. Mickey was representing the guy. The guy flees to Europe for years and years and years.


ABRAMS: Were you hoping he was going to be captured?

SHERMAN: I would take no position on that. But I got to tell you, with Alex, at least he had the smarts to go to Sweden…

ABRAMS: All right…

SHERMAN: … or someplace where he couldn’t be found and he was never found. He turned himself in automatically or voluntarily.

ABRAMS: All right, let’s wrap it. That’s — this is great stuff, this Chapman stuff.

from MSNBC