NEW YORK (AP) — The family of a woman murdered while vacationing in Mexico wants CBS not to air a prison diary made by the man accused of the crime for fear it will make him a sympathetic figure.
But CBS said Wednesday it is going ahead and insists that its “48 Hours” episode Saturday on the case of former “Survivor” producer Bruce Beresford-Redman is balanced.
Beresford-Redman is on trial for murder in the 2010 death of his wife, Monica Beresford-Redman, while the California couple was vacationing in Cancun, Mexico, with their two children. Her naked body was found in the sewer of the resort where they were staying.
Bruce Beresford-Redman has been in a Mexican jail since February 2012 as the case grinds on. He maintains his innocence.
The Emmy-nominated producer was given a small camera by “48 Hours” and asked to document his life in prison. Mexican prison authorities permitted the camera, CBS said.
Monica Beresford-Redman’s sisters asked CBS not to air the “48 Hours” episode until after the verdict and the network refused, said Alison Triessl, their lawyer. The sisters, Carla Burgos and Jeane Burgos, believe their former brother-in-law is guilty.
“It will elevate Bruce’s status to one of celebrity, it will elicit sympathy for him and most troubling, it may even influence the rightful verdict in this case,” Triessl said. “As Carla and Jeane Burgos have asked CBS, ‘please do not further victimize our family.'”
In the “48 Hours” diary, Beresford-Redman says he was giving “a sense of what life is like in hell.” He says conditions are hot, cramped, smelly and noisy and he trusts no one. He shows his eyes tearing up when guards set off tear gas after a riot, and shows the fetid conditions of his cell, where 10 men are staying in a room built for three.
“It’s almost impossible to live life in the present, because the present is absolutely miserable,” the producer says, adding he often lies awake in his bed at night, thinking about how much he misses his wife.
At the same time, the newsmagazine outlines a story that reflects poorly on Beresford-Redman. The couple’s marriage was in trouble because of his cheating, and appeared nearing its end. Correspondent Troy Roberts interviews Beresford-Redman and CBS draws on interviews with the sisters that were conducted for a 2012 story. The network said the sisters declined to be interviewed for Saturday’s show.
Susan Zirinsky, executive producer of “48 Hours,” said the intention was not to paint Beresford-Redman in a sympathetic light, but to give viewers a glimpse of what life is like in a foreign justice system. A former television producer seemed well qualified to capture the moments, she said.
“We’re very conscious of the fact that this is a man accused of murder, of horrific murder,” she said. “If he is found guilty in the final judgment, then the tough conditions in that prison are exactly what he deserves. But there is a case to be proven, even if Mexico believes that you’re guilty until proven innocent.”
Zirinsky compared Saturday’s edition to another time when “48 Hours” gave a camera to a woman found guilty of murdering her husband so she could document the trial from her perspective. It was done to give viewers a unique vantage point, not to make people feel sorry for her, she said.
The “48 Hours” episode also details problems that prosecutors are having with their case against Beresford-Redman, including evidence grown moldy and witnesses not showing up for the trial.