Saturday, March 4, 2006

Ricky Holland murder discussed on Nancy Grace

Ricky Holland finally received a segment on Nancy Grace on March 2--after he was found dead and his adoptive parents were charged with his murder.
From the online transcript (

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The injuries to Ricky`s body, in conjunction with his
sudden bizarre disappearance and his discovery in a remote area wrapped in
plastic bags, support a conclusion that his death was the result of harmful
volitional actions committed by another or others. The preponderance of our
evidence in our investigation leads to a conclusion of homicide by unspecified
means for the cause and homicide as the manner of Ricky Holland`s death.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell sitting in tonight for Nancy Grace.
Tonight, the tragic story of Ricky Holland, the young boy who saw more than a
lifetime of suffering before his premature death. Ricky`s first set of parents
failed him. And then, at the age of seven, his second set of parents, the two
people who adopted him, are charged with killing him. Let`s go right out to
"Detroit News" reporter Karen Bouffard in Mason, Michigan, with the very latest
on this case -- Karen? Karen, can you hear us?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What`s the latest? What happened today in court?
BOUFFARD: Well, today was the third day of testimony in the preliminary
examination. And there were four witnesses for the prosecution. All four of them
were employees of the Jackson public school system where Ricky Holland attended
school before he moved to the Williamston area last spring.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, this is such a bizarre case, Sheriff Gene
Wrigglesworth, the Ingham County sheriff. And I thank you, sir, for joining
us.It`s such a bizarre case, because the husband, Tim, is accusing the wife, I
understand, of killing the child. And the wife, Lisa, is accusing the husband of
killing the child. Which story do you believe? What do you think is the truth?
Can you explain?
stories. The truth is going to be determined by a judge at some point in time,
but there certainly is conflicting stories, as there usually is in this type of
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. But you`re talking about two wildly different
stories. You`re talking about a man who says his wife killed the child, and
you`re talking a woman who says her husband killed the child, yet they`re both
charged with murder. Let`s go to the judge in this case, Rosemarie Aquilina. She
is the judge presiding over the preliminary exam. How come, technically, can you
explain to us how two individuals can be charged with murder in this situation?
who participated in a crime, such as murder, or for that matter any other crime,
can be charged with the same offense.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And another bizarre...
AQUILINA: If you aide or abet.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Aide or abet, thank you, ma`am. Another bizarre aspect of
all of this is that this couple, Tim and Lisa Holland, on July 2nd, when they
say the child disappeared, called 911, and then later kind of went public, and
encouraged hundreds of volunteers to search for this child, and hundreds of
people did throughout the hot summer, some of them singing lullabies as they
went, hoping to lure the child out of the bushes. Let`s hear what Tim Holland,
the adoptive father, actually said this past summer.
thank the Ingham County Sheriff`s Department for everything that they have done
for us, and especially thank all of the volunteers that have come out to take
time away from their families to search for our son.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Psychoanalyst Bethany Marshall, authorities believe at the
time that he was saying that he already knew that his son was dead. What kind of
a person is capable of doing that? And I have to tell you, there`s tremendous
anger in the community...
MARSHALL: Of course.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... among the people who really, really gave their heart
and soul to this search.
MARSHALL: Well, an abuser. And we know that 80 percent of children who die
from child abuse and neglect are killed by the parents, not neighbors, not
social workers, not teachers, by the parents. And both parents fit the profile
of somebody who can murder a child, and I`ll tell you how. When a child is
murdered by a mother, usually it`s maltreatment. And we know this little boy was
being malnourished and underfed. We know that from a neighbor`s testimony. When
the father kills the child, usually it`s physical abuse. And we know from the
very same neighbor that the father had called the little boy a Ted Bundy. And
so, I mean, a little kid is not a killer, so you can guess the father is
attributing his own destructive impulses to the child. He also said to the
neighbor, "We can`t get pets, because this little boy would kill them," so
there`s confusion between self and other in the minds of the father. So I think,
you know, what kind of father could offer this testimony, I mean, or say this to
the public? I`d say, what kind of dad would call a little kid a Ted Bundy? An
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And, Bethany, that`s a very good question. So we have with
us tonight the attorney for Lisa Holland, the wife, Mike Nichols. Good evening,
sir. Thank you for joining us. What does Lisa say? This is such a convoluted
case. And apparently, they were presenting a united front until something
happened and it was an incident with a hair dryer. Can you explain, please?
comment on what Lisa has to say.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, then I`ll tell you what happened with the hair dryer.
This is what I understand. You can correct me if I`m wrong.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tim accused Lisa of throwing an electric hair dryer at him
when he was in the shower, OK? And then she was later arrest and charged with
assault with a deadly weapon. And the next day, Lisa told police that her
husband had killed Ricky.
NICHOLS: Jane, that felonious assault charge related to the hair dryer was
dismissed. And at this point, we`re in a preliminary examination on an open
murder charge. We`ve been put on notice that our clients, Tim and Lisa Holland,
are going to -- there`s a bind over that will be sought on a child abuse charge
in the first degree.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But let me just say this...
NICHOLS: That`s what we`re dealing with.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: ... you`re saying that she`s innocent. What is her
explanation of what happened? Tell me your side of the story.
NICHOLS: Well, Jane, all I can tell you is that we`re going to try this
case in the courtroom. The one point that I want to make is -- Bethany made a
comment, an analysis related to malnourishment on the part of Lisa Holland. I
guess the MRPCs, the Michigan rules of professional conduct, would let me
respond to something that I think is inaccurate in analyzing evidence.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, go ahead and respond, because we`re running out of
time. We want to hear your side.
NICHOLS: Well, what I would say, Jane, is that the testimony that I heard
today is not that that child was malnourished. There was testimony that he was
skinny and that he was short, but the testimony that I heard, in fact, from one
of the school officials was that he didn`t seem to be malnourished at all.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Lauren Lake, defense attorney, what do you think?
When a neighbor, we had read in news reports, said that this youngster suddenly
surfaced inside her home and was in the refrigerator looking for food. And she
fed him two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and he said, "I don`t want to go
home. I don`t want to go home." And she said, "Well, you can`t stay here," but
she was a kind lady. But that sounds like a hungry kid, not a psychotic kid.
LAKE: Well, Jane, you`re right. And this is sickening. This case is from my
home state, and I`m just sickened by it, to tell the truth. But, unfortunately,
I have to put on my defense hat and say, even if they were malnourishing the
child, we still don`t know which of these two people actually killed the child.
And as a defense attorney, it just amazes me sometimes that your clients can be
their own worst enemy, because had neither one of those two said a word, there
was really very little evidence in this case to convict them on, being that the
child`s body was so decomposed when it was found.So here you`ve got them saying,
"No, you did it," "No, no, you did it," and it`s just the silliest game. And
it`s going to end in defeat for one, if not both of them.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It would be silly were it not so tragic. I agree with you
entirely.Let`s go to Dr. Larry Kobilinsky, forensic scientist. Where did they
find the body? I understand the body was in a plastic bag. What was the
condition in? Who led them to the body?
KOBILINSKY: Well, I can only tell you, Jane, that this body was
approximately seven months sitting in a plastic bag in a ditch. And the fact of
the matter is that, after such a prolonged period of time, there is no longer
soft tissue; all you have are skeletal remains. And that is precisely the reason
that the medical examiner could not determine the cause of death. Matter of
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But weren`t there fractures? Weren`t there fractures on the
KOBILINSKY: Indeed there were, and that tells the tale. Not only did the
medical examiner find fractures, he found different kinds of fractures, fresh
fractures that were unhealed, and fractures that were older and in a state of
healing. In fact, the fresh fractures were extensive.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And what does that show?
KOBILINSKY: Well, it shows that this child was abused, physically abused
over a lengthy period of time. It didn`t happen just at the time of death or a
few days before, but a lengthy period of time this child`s bones were broken.
Now, if the child had been perhaps punched in the abdomen and soft tissue damage
resulted in hemorrhage, that could have been the cause of death. We will never
know the cause of death.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Because of the decomposition.
KOBILINSKY: That`s correct.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thank you, Doctor. And we have to stress, of course, these
two individuals have only been charged. They do have the presumption of
innocence. And we did attempt to contact Tim Holland`s attorney. We invited him
on the show. He politely declined, saying he was very busy working on the case,
which is certainly understandable. We`re going to have more on it in a second.
Quickly to "Trial Tracking," the case of Lita Sullivan, the Atlanta socialite
gunned down at her front door by a hit man carrying a box of pink roses. Day
four in the trial of Lita`s estranged husband, James Sullivan. He allegedly
hired the hit man for $25,000. Prosecutors say Sullivan spoke on the phone with
the hit man just days before the 1987 shooting. Today on the stand, an FBI
agent, who examined James Sullivan`s diaries from around the time of the murder,
testified he saw no entries about Lita Sullivan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a recollection of the mark on Ricky that
caused your attention (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looked like a burn. It was a pretty good size. It
was kind of like black and blue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you concerned for Ricky Holland`s safety at all?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought she might have been mean to him.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell sitting in tonight for Nancy Grace.
We`re talking about the sad, short life of Ricky Holland and his untimely death
at the age of seven. And now each adoptive parent accusing the other of killing
him. Let`s go to reporter for "Detroit News," Karen Bouffard who`s been tracking
this case. Apparently, a hammer factors into this. Can you tell us about that?
BOUFFARD: Yes, Jane. In this swear-to report that sheriff`s deputies gave
to the judge when they requested the warrant for the arrest of the Hollands for
the murder of Ricky Holland, they gave a lot of information that they say was
provided to them by Tim Holland. According to that court testimony, Tim Holland
had gone to the prosecuting attorney and had told them that Lisa had hit Ricky
with a hammer and killed him with two blows to the head with a hammer. And then
he had instructed him to bury the body, and that he had gone and buried the
body. And after providing this information to the prosecutors and the sheriff`s
deputies, he led them actually to the place where Ricky was buried. And this is
how they found the body.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, do we know what Tim`s story is? Do we know what Lisa`s
story is, rather? I mean, because we have Lisa`s attorney on tonight, but he is
very restricted in what he can talk about. Have we heard any reports about the
other allegation, what Lisa is saying Tim did, aside from disposing of the body?
BOUFFARD: Right. There`s very little information about what Lisa`s story
is. In the report by the officers, it just says that she had blamed it on Tim,
but really didn`t provide any details as far as what her story is.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And let`s hear and see Lisa emotionally speaking out this
past summer, encouraging hundreds of people to search for her boy, at a time
when prosecutors say that she knew all along that he was already dead.
to have to go through this. It plays on your emotions. It plays havoc on your
family, because everybody is upset.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Nichols, you`re the attorney for Lisa Holland. I
understand you`re restricted in what you can say. But, I mean, here she is
speaking on camera, crying, hundreds of people, 600 at one point, searching
through lakes, and bushes, and everything for this child. And prosecutors say
she knew that he was dead at that time. What can you say in defense of your
client about those statements? Because this community is quite angry that they
were deceived.
NICHOLS: Well, Jane, I`m asking you and your viewers and the community not
to prejudge Lisa Holland. She`s innocent in the eyes of our system. You know,
people can react to situations and events many, many different ways, and the
point of what I want to convey is Lisa Holland is innocent until proven guilty.
There has been rafts, volumes of paper written about what she said, what Tim has
purportedly said, things that I heard Karen Bouffard talk about relative to a
hammer. None of that is in evidence yet.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, they have other children, four other children. I
understand that three of them are Ricky`s biological siblings and then one is
their biological child. What`s the status of those children right now? Who`s
taking care of them?
NICHOLS: The other four children are in protective custody. They have been
placed through Michigan`s Department of Human Services. They are, I believe
living -- two siblings with one paternal relative, and two siblings with another
paternal relative.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Former federal prosecutor Michele Martinez, we`re running
out of time. Did this child fall through the cracks?
MARTINEZ: Absolutely. And it`s a tragedy, but it happens all the time. You
know, foster children do get killed, and people in the system do make mistakes.
It`s tragic, but hopefully justice will be served and the parents will be
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s so sad, because some of the neighbors were saying that
this child would show up at their doorstep saying that he wanted to stay there.
He didn`t want to go home. And, of course, those people can`t take the child in.
Some of them did call protective services. And obviously, we`re going to find
out what, if anything, was done by the powers that be to protect this child. It
really is a disgrace. It`s a beautiful little boy, and he should be alive today.
He should be alive having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And it`s a
tragedy. We will be right back. Quickly to tonight`s "All-Points Bulletin," FBI
and law enforcement across the country on the lookout for this man, Michael D.
Johnson, wanted in connection with an execution-style triple murder last
November in New Mexico. Johnson, 26, 6`4", 210 pounds, black hair, brown eyes.
If you have any information on Michael D. Johnson, call the FBI at 505-889-1301.
Local news next for some of you. We will all be right back. And, remember, live
coverage of the Lita Sullivan Atlanta socialite murder trial, 3:00 to 5:00
Eastern, Court TV. Stay with us as we remember Army Private First Class Jason
Sparks, 19, of Monroeville, Ohio. Sparks` platoon was engaged in direct enemy
fire in Iraq. In high school, he played offensive line for the football team.
His Aunt Becky describes him as one of those good kids who just never got into
trouble. Jason Sparks, a real American hero.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... did receive a letter from his biological mother
asking that she be given his remains. We had a number of people call the office
and say they wanted to bury Ricky, they wanted to do something in Ricky`s
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We are talking about little Ricky Holland`s, whose badly
decomposed body was found in a plastic bag. Let`s go straight out to Judge
Rosemarie Aquilina, who is the presiding judge in this case. What happens next
with these two adoptive parents, ma`am? AQUILINA: Well, we have about five more
days of hearing, and then either the matter will be dismissed, if there`s not
probable cause, or it will be bound over to circuit court.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, let me go to Karen Bouffard...
AQUILINA: There are about...
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m sorry, ma`am? Go ahead.
AQUILINA: I was just going to say there are probably 20 more witnesses that
have to be heard.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So it`s kind of like almost like a mini-trial, in a way.
AQUILINA: It is, but it`s one simply to find probable cause that the crime
was committed and probable cause if the individuals who are accused did the
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Karen Bouffard, reporter for the "Detroit News," I`ve read
that a lot of people in the area are furious because they spent so much time,
effort, money, dogs, helicopters, boats, you name it, searching for this child
for a prolonged period of time, for months. What`s the mood in the community?
BOUFFARD: That`s correct. Well, I think it`s a mixture of sadness and grief
over the loss of Ricky, and just complete dismay that this sweet little child
was murdered, and also outrage that it was allowed to happen, that there were
safe protection workers that were aware that he was being abused, a lot of
questions about why wasn`t he removed from the home, a lot of questions about
his remaining siblings that continued to live with the Hollands until after
Ricky`s body was discovered. So there are a lot of questions, a lot of sadness,
and a lot of outrage.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, thank you for joining us. And as we wrap up, I can
tell you one neighbor said, quote, that this boy told them, quote, "I ran away
because the people don`t want me. They want a baby." And that was what this
young boy said to a neighbor, according to that neighbor. We want to thank our
guests tonight for their insights. And thanks to you at home for tracking these
very important cases with us. Coming up, headlines from around the world. I`m
Jane Velez-Mitchell sitting in for Nancy Grace. We hope to see you right here
tomorrow night, 8:00 Eastern. Until then, have a wonderful evening.
Please, if you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, do not wait until it's too late to report it.
If you are abusing or close to abusing your child, please get help.

Rest in peace, little guy, now that you are away from the pain, the mistreatment, the abuse.
For more about Ricky Holland, go to

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