All the TV producers have told me the same thing: Once Daniel is sent to an actual prison, he will not be able to do any on-camera interviews. This isn’t the way for every state, I was informed, but it’s the case in California.
This sort of confuses me. I know I’ve seen Charlie Manson interviewed more than once from behind bars. But let’s just assume that’s the situation. It means if Daniel doesn’t agree to an interview while he’s still at the OC Jail, he will miss his opportunity to ever do one.
I don’t think that bothers him. More and more, I think he’d prefer it.
Me? I’m a flip-flopper. Some days I totally want him to do an interview and sometimes I think it’s a terrible idea.
The 20/20 Producer
During the trial, I thought 20/20 had a much better chance of getting an interview than Dateline did. I was rooting for them.
I had a good feeling about the producer from 20/20.
From here on I’ll call her P20. I could have gone with 20/20 P, but I get a kick out of how P20 makes her sound like a Terminator or something.
I liked P20. I felt comfortable talking to her. I never thought she was judging me for being Daniel’s friend. When I would chat with P20 during the trial breaks, I would be much more swayed in favor of Daniel doing an interview.
I bet right now Daniel’s defense attorney, Scott Sanders, is happy it wasn’t my decision.
It was Daniel who put me in contact with Dateline, but P20 found me on her own during the trial. If I remember correctly, she was unaware of my blog at the time. She told me she’d noticed Daniel “looking at” me in the courtroom, so she approached me during one of the breaks.
Occasionally Daniel might have glanced in my direction, possibly acknowledging my presence as a supportive friend.
Soon after meeting her, I agreed to have lunch with P20. I blogged all about it.
I chatted with P20 often during the trial. We’d text about new developments and she’d ask me how Daniel was handling everything. And when her producer boss and Jim Avila (the 20/20 host for the episode about Daniel’s case) came to court one day, she introduced them to me. The 20/20 people discussed the possibility of doing an interview with me, but mostly they were hoping I would connect them with Daniel. So, I did.
P20 asked me if she could come along on one of my visits to the jail and meet Daniel and talk to him in person (off the record, of course). Now I didn’t just spring her on Daniel one day, I wanted to ask his permission first. He hadn’t been accepting any media visits, but we discussed it for quite a while, and I was able to get him to agree to a quick meeting. P20 would come to a visit with me, but she was only to stay for a few minutes. She’d introduce herself, talk to him a little about the show, and then she would leave us to our regular visit.
P20 Visits Daniel
The next week, we met out in front of the check-in for the Orange County Jail visiting center and I “showed her the ropes,” as they say. I felt sort of responsible for her, like when you bring one friend to another friend’s party, but the two of them don’t know each other.
I took her to the check-in line and we waited until we were called up to window two. We put our IDs in the glassed-in pass-through, and I explained how we had to completely close the door on our side or the deputy wouldn’t be able to open the door on the other side.
P20 and I waited for Daniel’s name to be called when it was time for the two o’clock visit. I took our paper and led her to the line for the metal detector. When we were on the elevator I got to amaze her with my knowledge about how the elevator doors open up on opposite sides depending on which floor you’re on.
We exited on floor 1M (J Mod) and I walked us down the winding corridor to the room with the visiting cubicles. Daniel wasn’t on his side yet, so I wowed P20 with another impressive fact:
“Sometimes we get here before they do.”
When I saw Daniel heading up the stairs, he seemed a little more reserved than usual. His hands were in his pockets and there was slightly less pep in his step. He was smiling politely. We sat down across from each other, and picked up our phones, and I “introduced” P20 to him by pointing up at her. He nodded a greeting.
I wanted to ask him if he was ready for this. I was concerned that I’d pushed him into doing something he hadn’t wanted to do. Instead, I just stood up and handed her the phone. She sat down on the round metal seat and started telling him how much she appreciated this opportunity to meet him.
It’s odd to only be able to hear one side of a conversation.
On our side, P20 went into what seemed to be a prepared spiel. She explained to Daniel about not being able to do an on-camera interview in California’s prisons. She told him that 20/20’s viewers would really be interested in hearing his story. I heard her say that Daniel could refuse to answer any question he didn’t want to answer. She said that 20/20 wasn’t trying to be the judge or jury… they just wanted to present all sides. She only had a few minutes and was clearly hoping to win Daniel over.
He nodded in understanding.
Then Daniel was doing all the talking. He was enthusiastically gesturing toward me through the glass. “Right… uh huh… sure,” P20 responded.
I was super curious and a smidgen nervous about what he might be telling her.
“That one there is totally bonkers,” I imagined him saying. “Did you know she’s actually writing a blog about me?”
This continued for a few more minutes and I noticed myself looking at my watch. I wanted to make sure P20 didn’t overstay her welcome. Soon after she thanked Daniel again for agreeing to meet with her and the two of them said their goodbyes.
P20 handed me the phone and reiterated how much she appreciated me bringing her along.
“So?” I said into the receiver as soon as she was in the hallway.
“So what did you talk about? Are you going to do an interview? And why exactly were you repeatedly pointing at me?”
“I told her that you’re my contact. All communication with me needs to go through you.”
He hadn’t agreed to an interview. He’d agreed to think about it (which I took to mean no) and he wanted to emphasize to her just how much I know about the story and what a good source of information I am.
I suddenly felt like his wingman at a bar. He wasn’t interested in the girl who was talking to us, but she really should check me out because I’m a great catch.
Daniel wanted P20 to just interview me because he wasn’t talking to anyone else.
The 20/20 Episode and After
On March 4, 2016, 20/20 aired its report of Daniel’s crime. The title was “Mystery in Apartment 410,” and neither of us was interviewed for the show. I would have done it, if they’d asked me, though. Oh well. The episode was only an hour (compared to Dateline’s two hours), and 20/20 had an interview with some of the jurors.
I still occasionally communicate with P20. I even texted with her during the airing of the show. It was good, but I wanted more of the jurors, myself.
I didn’t ask P20 what she thought of Daniel after meeting him. She volunteered that he came off as a regular nice guy. But if she thought he was a sociopath, would she even tell me? Probably not.
She did kid around that maybe I should just do an on-camera with interview Daniel myself…