Mark Shaw Interview Author of Down for the count

Now, one man has stepped forward and written a book about the Tyson trial. His name is Mark Shaw, and his book “Down For the Count, The Shocking Truth Behind the Mike Tyson Rape Trial,” is published by Sagamore.
Mark Shaw was the legal analyst of the trial for CNN, ESPN, and USA Today. A former criminal defense attorney and newspaper columnist, Mark was chairman of the media committee for the Tyson trial. .
Was Mike Tyson maneuvered into position for a set-up? After reading “Down For the Count,” it sure looks like it.

Q -Mark, you covered the trial, you wrote this book. What do you think – is Mike Tyson innocent, or is he guilty? ‘
A – My own perception is that we still do not have, and I’m not trying to evade the question at all, we do not have enough facts about what happened on the hotel bed, in that hotel room on that particular night. I have always challenged the fact that neither the defense or the prosecution gave the jury enough evidence about actually what happened in probably a 5 to 8 minute period of time. While I strongly believe that the jury should have had more evidence about that, I am much more strong in my opinions that the Tyson conviction is one of the great travesties of American Justice. It reeks of unfairness. It reeks of him being singled out for prosecution. Mike Tyson’s case, Gary, is every person’s worst nightmare. And the reason I say that is because it is a crime where there are no witnesses. You only have the person who accuses you of the crime, with her giving the only story. Basically then, you have a man who falls into the hands of an incompetent defense lawyer who does not know what he’s doing, and makes mistake after mistake. The case is heard in front of a pro prosecution judge who is known to be prosecution friendly. And, you have a prosecution team in this particular case who in my opinion, there is no question, withheld, concealed, whatever you want to call it, critical evidence in this case. And so, what I say in the book, and what I say today, is that Mike Tyson deserves a new trial. He deserves a fair shake. Anybody in this country deserves a fair shake, and he didn’t get one.

Q – Where does Mike Tyson’s fate stand today? What is Mr. Dershowitz (Mike’s attorney) doing for him?
A – Right now he’s doing one of the best things he’s done in Mike Tyson’s behalf and that’s pretty much keeping his mouth shut. When he took on Mike Tyson’s appeal he came in to Indiana just like his predecessor Mr. Fuller had done and bad-mouthed the entire legal system here and tried to say that the backwoods way of doing things in Indiana was not the right way to do things, and that he was going to change all that. Dershowitz presented an atmosphere for Tyson somewhat conducive to what he had at trial, or somewhat analogous to what he had at trial where it was an us-versus-them type situation, both of those lawyers being from out-of-state, and the case being held in Indiana. At this particular point at least Tyson’s fate rests with the three judge Appellate Court in Indianapolis. Their decision is long awaited now. We felt very frankly that a decision would come out probably the first part of May, then the first part of June and July, and now it’s the middle part of August and we still don’t have anything. I think this has taken an unusually long period of time. I question whether Tyson’s case is being handled like any other. Once again it seems like to me he is being subjected to unusual treatment by the courts here. And so right now at least, I’m sure he wakes up every morning in that jail cell expecting to hear whether or not this particular tribunal will give him a new trial or not.

Q – Who would stand to benefit the most from having Mike Tyson removed from the Heavyweight Division? Other boxers? Promoters? Managers?
A – There are many people who strongly believe that your particular perception and potential theory is right, that due to the unusual nature of this case and Tyson ending up with such an incompetent lawyer and so on and so forth, was part of a direct plan to have Tyson be convicted. Many people believe that the fire that took place during the trial, was much more than coincidence, that perhaps it was meant scare the jurors, perhaps even meant to scare the jurors into convicting Mike Tyson and saying we’re not going to be scared by anybody. The defense lawyer question raises it’s head. “Who would benefit?” Obviously the other boxers in the heavyweight division certainly would and that goes right back to their promoters. I have learned some about the boxing business, at least enough to know that it’s the closest thing to slavery that we have in this country. The promoters make all the money. The boxers are left with next to nothing. A few of them do well, but very few of them make that kind of money and keep it. There’s a lot of conjecture about it. Some think Don King is behind it, that Tyson was gonna take off and go with another promoter. He’s a possible suspect here, as are many others, because obviously not only did the conviction cost Tyson his freedom, but in all likelihood has cost him his boxing career.

Q – Where is the outcry for justice from the boxing establishment? Where’s Ring Magazine? ‘Where’s KO Magazine? Where is the boxing press? No one seems to have taken a strong stand against this injustice.
A – It’s a good perception. Where are those organizations and where are others, who are always out there standing up for everyone getting a fair shake‘? For whatever reason, Mike Tyson is again singled out here because there’s this incredible outcry when certain things are done in the judicial system and someone is offended or someone doesn’t get a fair trial or people think someone was railroaded into prison and public outcry goes nuts. Not in the Mike Tyson case. There are people out there and I think a lot of people in the boxing community don’t give a damn about Mike Tyson, don’t care about him. He’s an unsympathetic character to them. For whatever reason there has never been even with the public disclosures of concealment of evidence and everything else that’s gone on in this case for whatever reason the generation of public outcry has never gotten to the point where I feel it should. Nobody is picketing the prison where Tyson is. None of the black leaders have come to Tyson’s defense. They come and visit him in prison but they’ve never really stepped out and shown what an injustice this is. I’m really at a loss to try to explain why that is, other than the fact that whatever reason, he’s perceived as a very unsympathetic character.

Q – You state, “Many celebrities like Tyson feel they play the game of life by different rules. Most of the time they are able to get by with actions even worse than Tyson’s.” Who would you be talking about here?
A – Well, I think what happened with Mike, Tyson is, there’s this rumor and innuendo about his past, but I meant with him that in the past he had apparently gotten into trouble before, scrapes with the law. I sometimes think he wakes up in that jail cell every morning and says, ‘Wait a minute, l got put in prison for this?’ I do have a feeling that he has possibly violated the law in the past. I do think there is a double standard. We see all the time, things in the paper about celebrities and what supposedly they have done. It would be very naive to think that there are not more situations like Mike Tyson’s or other people’s. You know this latest Vince Coleman firecracker situation. Those are ones we read about in the paper. Celebrities do feel that when they’re making millions of dollars a year, they’re young men and women, how in the world can they live by regular rules? It’s my opinion at least and that of a great many journalists that celebrities are treated differently. Unless it’s a situation like Tyson’s, where for some reason he is singled out as he was, a lot of times these things are patched up. I read a great article in the New York Daily News here recently where they were talking about the Mets situation and how these players are pampered and so on. I think these are perfect examples. Baseball, football, basketball players are like anybody else, they should have to follow the law like anybody else. They deserve a fair shake unlike Tyson when they’re arrested. It’s my opinion at least that many, many times these kinds of things do not come to the surface and are simply brushed aside by those who would have great difficulty if one of their multi-million dollar players got in trouble.

Q – Vince Fuller (Tyson’s original defense attorney) was going to sue you? How come?
A – He wrote me a nasty letter back right after I sent the draft of the book to him. He didn’t say why. I assume at that particular point it must have been a gut reaction to the fact that I was labeling him pretty much incompetent in terms of what he had done. That particular threat did not bother me whatsoever because if there was anything that was unanimous at the trial with the judge right on down to the prosecution and to the journalists and television people who covered the trial, it was that Vincent Fuller was most responsible for Mike Tyson going to prison. He made mistake after mistake after mistake. He handled the case as I say in the book more like a first year law student than a trained professional. I think Mr. Fuller’s threats there were mostly just quick reactions to him being labeled like I did in the book. Obviously nothing has ever come of that. I’m sure that he would hope he’s never given an interview with regard to the trial and I would assume that he would just as soon it never been mentioned again.

Q – Why would Don King select as a defense attorney for Mike Tyson, someone like Vince Fuller, a lawyer who has no real background in defending rape suspects?
A – That’s a good perception again Gary. It’s a situation where if you look at the progression of event; when Mike Tyson got in trouble you have multi-million dollars at your disposal, you could have gotten anybody in the world, the F. Lee Baileys, the Roy Blacks (William Kennedy Smith), Jerry Spencei and many of the other great lawyers across the country or a very good local lawyer like they had in this particular case and didn’t use. Why did he choose Vincent Fuller? Because Vincent Fuller had gotten Don King out of trouble in a tax evasion case in Philadelphia in the mid 80’s. For whatever reason, Fuller was able to convince Don King if he was able to handle a tax evasion case he could handle a rape case out in the sticks of Indiana. So I think King in hindsight was hoodwinked into this. I think Fuller saw dollar signs and headlines, and got into something he should never have gotten into. It’s one of the problems with our judicial system these days of lawyers handling cases they should not handle, but there are those as I say who believe that King picked Fuller because he knew Fuller would do a terrible job. He did a terrible job. Mike Tyson ended up in prison. Don King has cemented his relationship with Mike Tyson,, and Tyson is now more loyal to King then he ever was before. When he gets out of prison, he and King will march into the ring and make their $40 or $50 million dollars on the first fight.

Q – On the floor of the hotel where Tyson and Desiree Washington went, 1 were there other guests staying there? Desiree Washington claims she was screaming. Did anyone hear those screams?
A – Well again, your perception is correct. This was either the most vacant hotel that ever existed or has the thickest walls of any hotel you’ve ever seen. Nobody ever heard anything. She said she screamed to some people. Other people she told she didn’t scream. There was nobody in the halls. Nobody in the lobby. Nobody around, and if there was, nobody was ever interviewed that was involved with that particular incident. I think one of the reasons that occurred was because of the time frame that went on between when the rape allegedly occurred and when she reported it, which if you remember was some 42 or 43 hours later, whatever it was. Whether they went back and checked all the records of the hotel, I assume they did, for whatever reason, neither the defense or the prosecution ever produced one person who was of independent thought here who didn’t have anything to gain or lose from the decision, who could have given testimony especially to Washington’s demeanor right after this incident occurred. If you’re call, she said she walked down the hall of the hotel and saw one of Tyson’s handlers there who gave her a smirk on his face and then kept walking. Nobody ever saw her to see if she was actually crying and her hair was messed up, and so on and so forth, which would have in my opinion really have given credence to her story or Tyson’s. But, they never uncovered anybody that appeared at trial.

Q – Were there any video cameras installed in the hallway of that hotel?
A – No.

Q – Did Mike Tyson routinely travel with bodyguards and if so, how many?
A – Well, that’s one of the unusual things about this case, is that most of the time he always had bodyguards with him. On this particular situation, one of his handlers, John Horne, said it was most unusual for Tyson not to have bodyguards. He usually had two with him because he wasn’t very good at handling money and taking care of things. But apparently in Cleveland, before he left he didn’t want them to go and nobody could really supervise Tyson in terms of telling him what they wanted him to do, and the bodyguards were left home. John Horne has said publicly he felt that was a real mistake because normally they were around and perhaps could have prevented something like this, but I’m not sure that would have been the case in this situation.

Q – One of those bodyguards, Rudy Gonzales, went on television to say that Don King pulled his plane ticket and wouldn’t allow him to accompany Tyson to Indianapolis.
A – Some confusion about that in terms of exactly what did occur, but it lends itself, you know we have the conspiracy theories with JFK killing, it lends itself to that conspiracy thought that King was. . .you know, there was some discussion at that time that Los Angeles promoter was going to be taking Tyson away from King. If you believe that then some of these things that happen just as .with the bodyguards and all the other things that went on, if you didn’t know better and you wanted to get a little farfetched with your thoughts, it wouldn’t take too much to come up with a pretty good theory as to how King might have manipulated Tyson right into prison.

Q Where was Dale Edwards, Tyson’s other bodyguard?
A – the independent recollection of those who had into having his daughter not testify against Tyson‘ has nothing to do with the case, gain or lose, was that he was downstairs in the lobby walking around. Tyson said that Dale Edwards told Tyson he would be out in the other room. There was really no big deal about that if you were smart enough as a defense lawyer to handle it, because there wasn’t a conflict there. Tyson was saying where he thought Dale was gonna be. Dale was not there, but he was downstairs. It wasn’t that Tyson was lying or anything. The biggest problem was that they never brought Dale Edwards in to explain that away, which they could have easily done,, and so they left him out. The prosecution then made a big deal of ‘Where’s Dale Edwards?’ The jury was given the feeling that hey, they must have lied about this situation. I can only tell you the prosecution really honed in on small discrepancies in Tyson’s situation, many of which were not very big on their own, but when put together with a scenario that they came up with, and was not combated away by the defense, made Tyson appear to be the liar.

Q – Didn’t Desiree Washington claim that in 1989, a fellow high school student, Wayne Walker, raped her, and then she withdrew the charges? Did the defense know that at the time of the trial?
A – They say they did not know at that particular time. I suppose that’s one of the questions you have again about the handling of the case by the defense. You have to remember they were tremendously over confident here. They thought they would get the case thrown out in the Grand Jury. They didn’t. And then during trial, you could see it on Vincent Fuller’s face, he just thought Tyson was gonna walk out of there, and never, ever thought he would get convicted. They really didn’t do their homework in a lot of cases because, it’s amazing to me with all the money at their disposal they would have not gone back and investigated her, and tried to find out whether this had occurred. It actually does them no good now. The Appellate Court is not going to believe that has anything to do with reversing this conviction. So, it’s–pretty much worthless public relations type evidence that Dershowitz is bringing forward. He knows that. It’s not going to make any difference with the case. Tyson’s appeal now will really be based on what happened at trial.

Q – Didn’t Desiree Washington’s father. have a role in this whole scenario?
A. Well, he’s a very controversial witness, subject in this case, Donald Washington. There are those who believe that he put dollar signs in Desiree’s mind, and was the one who took her to the private lawyer, and they signed the agreement. They were gonna sue Tyson for everything he was worth. He actually told ESPN at one particular time that he thought if Tyson was convicted in a criminal case, he would get damages from that, which of course was not true. There were some questions about his background relations with Desiree’s mother, and his wife, that there was some physical violence between them, and that Desiree was involved at one time. Donald Washington’s dealings very unusual character in this case, and I don’t give too much credence to whatever he says. If anything, he’s probably playing both sides against the middle. I think today Donald Washington is tremendously disappointed because so far, he hasn’t seen one cent from this.

Q – What is the update on Desiree’s book and film deal? Did it fall through?
A – Well, she never actually pursued those situations. It doesn’t mean she won’t down the road, but she never went through with that kind of thing. The civil suit is pending in Indianapolis before Judge Larry McKinney and it has been stifled a bit only because they wanted to get a ruling from the Appellate Court with regards to the case will be reversed or not. So, in this situation at least, nothing is going to happen with that civil case or probably anything else she does until they find out what the result of this appeal is going-to be.

Q – You write, “Both people, Tyson and Desiree, put their trust in a legal system that promises truth and justice for all. Unfortunately, most of the critical participants used Tyson and Washington as mere pawns and concentrated on either filling their pockets with gold or enhancing their own careers.” Who would you be talking about here?
A – Well, let’s just go down the road a little bit. I think Judge Patricia Gifford got all” involved, held a press conference right before the trial.” I think she got caught up in the celebrity nature of this case and the visibility. Most people think she wants to be Governor of this state. It was a great visibility situation for her, and I think she let a lot of her personal feelings get into the case, especially with regard to Tyson, in prejudicial conduct with regard to Tyson. The defense lawyer, Fuller, yes, lined his pockets with gold, you bet. The fees I just can’t imagine how large they must’ve been. For what he did, I think he got headlines, stars in his brain and felt like this was gonna be the biggest case of his career and established more his reputation as a national, international lawyer, and he did that to the detriment of his client. Don King picked that particular lawyer, I think depending on which particular theory you believe, he got caught up in the celebrity nature of the case as well. They never used the local lawyer that was very competent for Tyson and so Tyson lost once again. Prosecutors Greg Garrison and Barb Trathen I think for the most part did a credible job, although they complete over matched Fuller, and so there wasn’t much of a shoot out here. It was mostly one-sided, but this whole business about trying to conceal this pretty much irrelevant agreement from Washington with regard to movie and book rights. Why they concealed that, I don’t know, but they did, and that’s certainly a violation of any judicial ethics. And you know, just right on down the line I think in this particular situation at least, I feel like Desiree Washington probably didn’t get a real fair shake from the prosecutors because the prosecutors should have revealed that document It didn’t amount to much and it made her look bad when they didn’t. I think she got bad advice about filing the civil suit and if she had gone back to Rhode Island, gone back to school, and gone back to private life and not taken the advice of the lawyers who said, sue, sue, sue, I think she would have been better off. So, right up and down the line I think both of them got caught up in a group of people who were searching for headlines and a case that would move their careers forward, plus in Fuller’s situation he was able to make a great deal of money off the case.

Q – Desiree Washington claims Tyson gave her a communicable disease?
A – Well, supposedly that’s Herpes. It’s an unusual situation. Nothing ever came up about it at the trial. Nothing was ever said about it. Then, all at once in a civil suit it ‘was brought up. God knows where that all came from. I think again, it was adding fuel to the fire in terms of the sleaziness of the case. I’m not so sure anything like that was relevant, but the news media picked up on it and for whatever reason, they must have felt it needed to be filed. Again, I think it just detracts in this situation. What really is the critical issue is what happened on that bed in that hotel room that night, and whether Desiree Washington consented to have sex or whether she was raped.

Q – Mike Tyson made $82 million in his career. Is he broke today?
A – One of the things that I think is interesting is that in one interview with Ed Bradley they ask him about Don King and Tyson said, ‘He’s my man, and I’m loyal to him. It’s incredible that he would say that, because I know a year ago they we’re having to dip into an indemnity fund that he had of some sort, where money was put away for him for the future, to pay off legal fees and other expenses. Most people believe that when Mike Tyson finally does come out of prison he will be flat broke if he is not already Dershowitz, Fuller, certainly expensive. There are allegations that Don King’s family members were making salaries off of Tyson. It’s in some ways a real tragedy that way as well, because he just keeps getting used and really has no way of combating any of that at this particular point. So I think most people believe that once Mike Tyson walks out of that prison, he’ll have nothing. However, if he keeps himself in shape and he takes care of himself then he has the possibility of walking into the ring and I can’t even imagine how much money he will make, to have that first fight.

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