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tv   Dateline NBC  NBC  November 14, 2015 7:00pm-9:00pm CST

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the first thing you want is, well, the police are going to get the bad guys, right? i was not prepared for what happened. >> professor, artist, mom murdered. >> a primal scream came out of me. she immediately broke down, started crying pretty hard. >> police quick to question the ex, maybe too quick. >> they focused in right from the very beginning. >> husband always does it, right? >> what if the husband didn't? >> you don't find any dna fingerprints, blood, anything that he's in the house. >> could someone else be the real killer? >> i'm wondering what was this man capable of? >> so much tragedy and so much heartbreak. >> it was very emotional for me.
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to figure out they had it wrong.3 f2 estaban equivocados misterio en sun going down, air cooling down to a fine evening warm. here at the town's historic rodeo grounds, refugees from the summer heat in phoenix, 2 hours and 25 degrees away settled into the stands to enjoy the annual exploits of the cowboys. at the very same time, a few miles away on the edge of town, a woman named carol kennedy jogged along a well worn path at the base of granite mountain. sometime after 7, she turned in at her big back yard here on a street called bridle path. trotted past the stone labyrinth she'd laid out here years earlier to mark the turn of the millennium, and arrived at the
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intended to inhabit for the rest of her natural days. but of course, carol kennedy had no idea that this was going to be her last day. and, no, it would not be natural at all. >> that is the biggest loss of my life to this day. it's profound. it's p prcing. it's constant. >> reporter: carol kennedy was in, as they say, a "good place" in her life. this is her friend katherine morris. >> carol was the epitome of kindness and living a life from a pepepective of having ananpen heart and being loving. >> reporter: before she became a close friend, katherine morris was carol's student at prescott carol's friend. >> she was very wellespected and admired, her classes were always full, very didiicult to get into. >> what was she like? >> she was magnetic. and she was always sort of searching for the truth. and you just were gravitated to
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her. >> charisma that kinda pulled her students in, especially maybe you. uh-huh, uh-huh. she was soft and inviting. >> i'm carol kennedy. i live in prescott, arizona. >> reporter: you get a sense of her personality in this 2006 interview, in which she was asked about her passion for teaching. >> it's such a gift to feel like you get to give seeds to this first row here and then they turn around and give it to rows behind tm. >> reporter: and in fact she shared those passions with the man who was her husband for 25 years. love of her life, really, steve democker. >> they were crazy for each other. >> reporter: sharon democker is steve's sister. >> carol was really easy to love. she was kind of a natural fit the family. she was just immediately a sister to all of us. >> reporter: "all of us" being the democker family. high achievers, all of them. sharon is a doctor. >> it's an accomplished bunch. one of my friends said, "there's
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not a weak link in this group." >> reporter: carol and steve got married in his parent's backyard overlooking lake ontario, near rochester, new york. an outdoor wedding for a couple who loved adventure. >> steve was the one that kind of w-- started the adventuring side of things. so first there was hiking, and then skiing, and mountntn climbing, and kayaking. >> reporter: they moved around a bit, as people do, and wound up eventually prescott. which proved to be the perfect place to raise their two bright, attractive, daughters, katie and charlotte. >> they're amazing. i think that it't'really-- a testimony to the kinda parents that steve and carol were. the girls were their first priority. >> reporter: steve became the dean of prescott college. carol taught psychology ere. but life is a river. never the same for long. steve decided to change careers. left the academic life became a nancial advisor. very successful too. and there were other changes.
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>> nobody knows all of what goes on inside a marriage. but i did talk with both of them about it and -- they th struggled but their lives were moving in different directions. >> reporter: and, much as they still cared for each other, there were infidelitie steve had an affair. they decidededo separate. >> carol loved steve fiercely. she fought hard for her marriage until the end. >> reporter: but, in 2008, after more than 25 years of marriage, 5 living apart, steve and carol divorced. it was a long, painful process and afr it was final, carol went to a nearby lake where she called katherine. >> she was sobbing. and at first when she called me i was like, "oh, oh no." and then i realized that the-- at the sobbing and the wailing on the phone was-- it was a mixture of-- >> it was cathartic. yeah.
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>> reporter: time for a fresh start. carol had left teaching by that time, was focused on a new passion, painting. >> her art was developing. she was really doing well with that and taking off with that. >> reporter: of course she remained close to her daughters, but she also stayed close to steve. and in fact, just a few days before that julylyorning, the whole family went to the airport together, to see katie off on a study abroad trip to south africa. charlotte was staying with her dad in prescott. nothing ahead now but the long, easy, days of summer. as she jogged the last few yards to her house, carol passed by the guest cottage she'd rented out as a way to help her pay expenses. >> it's 50 feet awayayrom the main house and it t s all of its own kitchen and bath and shower and rooms. >> reporter: it was comforting, in a way, to have someone else with her on the property, out here at the edge of things. man's name was jim knapp. divorced father. bit of an odd duck, some people said. but easy to get t ong with. at least, that's what carol told
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the man didn't cause any trouble. >> jim knapp was just sort of this free-spirited surfer dude from hawawi who-- hang ten. >> but she took him in as a >> it was my understanding that he was, had been diagnosed with cancer. and i think they sort of co-supported each other through a lot of the painful times that they were both experiencing. >> reporter: once inside her house, carol put together a salad for dinner, answered a few e-mails. settled in for an evening alone. she picked up the phone and called her mother ruth who lived way off in nashville, tennessee. >> she was an amazing daughter who still called her mom every day. >> reporter: ruth was 83. the call, a nightly ritual. and then at 8 pm, the oddest
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thing. the line went dead. but not before ruth heard something rather terrifying. ruth tried to call back. nothing. and there she was, so far away, and now worried. so she decided to call the sheriff's department, whose headquarters is here in downtown prescott. >> sheriff's office, maria. how can i help you? >> ah, yes. mymyame is ruth kennedy and i'm calling from nashville, tennessee. i was on the phone with my daughter and she screamed and said, "oh no" and the phone's gone dead. and is there anything you can do? can you go check? >> reporter: "oh no." those two words played back, again and again,`in ruth's worried brain. and so began a mystery. and a story too unbelievable even for some of its most intimate partipants. what happened to carol kennedy? >> the answer to that question would take years to answer.
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not just what happened to carol, but who was behind it? >> we were just stunned. and if we announce your team on nbc's sunday night football, you're automatically a winner. you could even win $500,000. it's time to play game time gold. who's your team? working on my feet all day gave me pain here. in my knees. but now, i step on this machine and get my number which matches my dr. scholl's custom fit orthotic inserts. now i get immediate relief from my foot pain. my knee pain. find a machine at here's something tshout from the mountaintop. cricket's plans start at $35 a month,
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let there be peace on earth let there be peace on earth >> reporter: carol kennedy and her mother, ruth, were having their nightly phone call. suddenly the phone line went
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ruth tried back, couldn't reach carol. then she called the sheriff's department. >> she's out there and she screamed and said, "oh no," and then the phone was dropped, and i'm just at my wit's end. >> now, did d u call her or did she call you when this occurred? >> she called me tonight and calls me every night. i'm 83, and she worries about me, and so we were just having our conversation, and then all the sudden she just screamed and said, oh no, and then i have not been able to get her to answer the phone back. happened. >> okay, ruth, who does your daughter live with? >> she's recently divorced, she's s one. >> what's your daughter's name? >> carol kennedy. >> reporter: notice what she said? recently divorced. the operator heard it. >> do you believe she's concerned if her husband or ex-husband came back? >> oh, i don't think so.
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no, i don't think it's that kind of a thing. >> okay. they knew they cared deeply for each other and the two daughters. >> the connection of the two of them interesteme. >> they took time to nurture their relationship and to spend time together. and do things they continu to do bringing up katie and charlotte. >> carol wasn't answering our her phone and ruth was frantic. >> all right, we'll send them out to check on her and have them give you a call. >> reporter: you can imagine what that was like for ruth so far away waiting for a phone call. she knew carol had a border, jim, but steve would know what to do. she called him on the cell phone, and when he didn't pick up, she left him this message. >> hey, this is ruth kennedy, in nashville.
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i was on the phone with carol and screamed and said oh no, and i can't get her to answer me back. i wanted to see if you could see what you could find out and let me know something. >> by that time it was dark. steve and carl's daughter charlotte and her then boyfriend were, at that moment, at steve's house waiting for hito come home. jacocowas actually living there trying to sort out a few issues with his parents. >> reporter: what was your relationship like with him, and what was charlotte's relationship like? >> charlotte was very close with steve. he'd offered me to stay with him before, you know, try to figure something g t, just to make my situation with my parents better, and i had a lot of respect for him. i lookededp to him.
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outdoors man was overdue from a mountain bike ride. and it was getting late, really late, actually. >> it was very, very odd. and he would usually-- we'd usually have dinner pretty late there. it was, you know, normal to have dinner at 9 o'clock, 9:30. when he hadn't come home around that time, it was when we kind of s srted to get a little worried. that may be he had crashed or gotten hurt or something. >> what did you do? >> charlwtte called his cell phone and -- no answer. >> no answer. >> did it go straight to voe-mail or something? >> yeah. >> reportete anyway, hungry for dinner, they went to the store for groceries. >> while we were at the store, it was probably around 10:00, 10:15 was when we got a call from steve. and he told us that, he got a flat tire and he was at the workout center, he was going to finish up his workout there. >> and what his phone had been off or something or what happened to his phone? >> he said his phone had died. >> while he was out there having a flat tire? >> correct. >> reporter: steve was in the
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shower when charlotte and jake arrived back at the condo. they made a quick dinner, vegetable stir-fry. it was late, but then again, it was a mild summer night. not a care in the world, it seemed. no idea what was happening at the house on bridle path. >> i'm kind of getting worried about you. >> panic begins. a daughter rushes to the scene. what would she find?
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>> reporter: july 2nd, 2008, about 11:00 p.m. steve democker, his daughter charlotte, and charlotte's boyfriend jake were eating a very late dinner. >> he had takekea few more bites of his dinner and then by that
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point charlotte and i were pretty close to being finished. >> reporter: that's when steve told them about a strange phone call he received from carol's brother. who told him that apparently carol's home phone suddenly cut out when she was talking to her mother ruth, and nobody could reach her. >> how did charlotte react to that? >> she was worried. >> reporter: charlotte said she texted her mom earlier that evening. everything seemed fine, then. but t w? she called her mother. voice-mail. >> hey mom. i heard from grandmother that guys were on the phone and she so, i wanted to text you to see if everything was okay. now i'm kindndf getting worried so if you want to text me back or call me or something just let me know that you're okay and that everything's okay. >> reportete the beginnings of panic bubbled up in charlotte's brain. she and her boyfriend called around to local hospitals. but nobody named carol kennedy
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had been admitted to any of them. >> so this is night time, was there any thought of going over there? >> yeah. we talked about it. >> reporter: steve was concerned about carol, of course. but, as her now ex-husband, he had another concern too. >> steve hadadxpressed that he wasn't really comfortable with it because, you know, they had just finalized their divorce and, you know, he didn't feel comfortable invading her privacy if she was with, you know, another guy on a date or something like that, so. >> mm-hm. >> we had decided thth charlotte and i would go out there and check on her. just kind of see, you know, if anything was out of the ordinary. >> reporter: it was around midnight when they drove out to carol's place on bridle path. having promiseseto call steve the minute they got there. >> do you remember what it was like driving over there? >> it was very quiet. i don't really think we spoke very much at all on the way there. >> because? >> just nervous, you know. >> little anxious? >> right. >> do you remember pulling up p the house? >> yes.
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very vividly. >> reporter: at that moment her dad. >> as soon as we got to the top of the hill you could see, the police, you know, the sheriff's lights and all the cars and, you know, just the worst thoughts are kind of going through, you know, my mind at that point. >> you know, the almost kind of thing that hits you here before it hits you here. >> right. yeah. kind of feel it in your stomach first, for sure. and we got closer to the house and we saw a caution tape and all of, you know, people running around and everything. >> we had pulled up and stopped on the side of the road and two sheriffs walked up on either side of the car and we rolled the windows down. >> did this person know who you were? >> i think he had asked, you know, "were you guys just passing through?" and charlotte said, "no this is my mom's house." and so, i'm sorry to tell you but, you know, carol passed away. at that point she just immediately broke down, started
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crying pretty hard. the phone. fell to pieces. >> were you frightened? >> scared a little bit. really more so for charlotte, just you know not really, i mean, even now i don't think i could-- i could figure it out how to console someone in that situation. >> reporter: maybe steve would know what to do. and told steve what had happened. he needed to come down and be with charlotte. >> and steve? >> he was taken aback. you know, it was almost kind of disbelief, like he didn't really know what to say really. kind of hear him choking back, some tears a little bit. and that was, you know, was hard. >> reporter: right away steve rushed over to carol's house. a detective had a recorder rolling. you can hear charlotte sobbing.
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and d eve talking. >> the last time i was out here was-- i don't know. i'm sorry. i don't know. it's been a while. >> reporter: someone else e lked to the d dectives, too. a man who showed up just minutes after the deputies got there. jim knapp, carol's boarder. the man who had been living in the guest house. >> i can't remember the month i moved in. >> reporter: and jim knapp had a lot to say about carol, but he didn't stop there. >> it was certainly a gruesome scene. >> blood drops. shoe prints. ththclues tell a story.. >> the shelf was knocked over several minutes after the blood hit it.whooping cough vaccination is up to date.
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>> reporter: just before 9:00 p.m., july 2nd, just around the time carol kennedy's worried family members were recording phone messages to each other, a yavapai county sheriff's deputy was dispatched to carol's house on bridle path.
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found the home dark. eerily quiet. he shone a flashlight through a window, saw a bookcase toppled over, and blood. everywhere. that's when investigator mike sechez was pulled into the strangest case of his career. the kind of thing he had moved totorescott to avoid. >> it's a quaint little community nestled in the pines and not a whole lot of crime, especially from what i was used to. >> reporter: sechez put in 27 years in the phoenix police. this job with the yavapai county attorney's office was supposed to be an escape from big city crime. and here he was, middle of a
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brutal homicide. >> what did it look like? >> it was certainly a gruesome scene. not only a large of amount of blood on carol's body but also on the furniture that was nearby, blood spatter that had been cast off in on to t walls and other items as well. >> so that tells you something about how she died? >> she certainly died a violence death. >> reporter: something else. as he surveyed the room he could plainly see, whoever did this was tryizg to fool them. how did he know? when he looked past the obvious gore, he couldn't help but notice things had been moved around after carol was dead. >> there was a ladder that was placed over top of her body that along with some of the blood that had been splattered on to a bookshelf. and then the shelf was knocked over, obviouslsl several minutes after. >> sure. >> the blood hit i i >> unlikely that it was just tottering and, eventually, collapsed? >> that could not have happened. >> so that's a pretty significant little detail, then? >> yes, absolutely. >> reporter: staging. clear as day, said the detective.
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there were even some drops of blood just outside the door. the blood trail led detectives to another discovery. shoe prints outside the house. >> there was a lot of tracks o o there. >> reporter: the house was next door to ranchland. lots of people went running and riding there. carol, too. >> horses, animals, people use that area and there were a lot of tracks. these tracks were unique. they were fresh. >> reporter: they found carol's footprints from her jog that very evening. but there were other suspect's track then stepped right on one of hers, so she went out and then this suspect came into her house. >> you had sequences of tracks. >> yes. >> reporter: about 50 feet from the main house, you'll remember, was a guest cottage. which carol had rented out to that tenant, jim knapp. >> jim knapp was one of the first ones to arrive at the scene after the deputies had arrived. >> reporter: so, of course, the detectives asked him. where was that night? and knapp was ready with a
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story. >> he hahabeen babysitting, one of his boys at his ex-wife's house when this incident actually occurred. >> you'd have to pin him down on that, make sure he had proof of it, right? >> that's correct. >> reporter: another detective turned on his recorder, as kpp rambled on about his relationship with carol. >> she and i are, sort of, commited to one another to be co-coaches to coach each other through both our divorces. >> reporter: but knapp didn't stop there. oh no. he seemed very eager to tell them about carol's ex-husband, steve democker. >> i'll warn you guys. it's just my intuitive take. the guy comes off to me as a very sneaky, manipulative man. >> reporter: so by the time steve arrived detectives were already suspicious. and they asked him to come to the sheriff's department.
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where he told them the same thing he'd told his daughter. he was riding his mountain bike when he got a flat tire. >> i don't really mountain bike very often. >> okay. >> i mean, i'm starting to. mostly i go trail running. so i don't have a routine. >> reporter: he drew them a map of the trail he followed. >> love lane goes up and out and there's the trail. >> reporter: at one point, the trail got to within a mile of carol's house. the detective's ears perked up. but steve insisted he never went to carol's house. >> i am happy to give you blood and saliva. i am happy to give you everything you need. >> right. so there's nothing we can find that's going to tie you there at all. >> no. i wasn't there. i wouldn't do that. >> reporter: steve told the detective he was tired. dehydrated. >> we can fix that. if you need more water, i'll be glad to get you water, if you need some food, i'll give you food. we'll get you something. you can tell me what you want.
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to be patient with us and help us through this matter. >> yeah. of course, i want to do that. i'm going to be happy to give you dna. i wasn't there. so i assume that it'll be good for me. >> that is true. if it is like you say, then once we do my work and -- >> i'm just -- i'm cold and i'm tired and -- >> reporter: steve asked what were they thinking about him. was he a suspect? >> i don't know what looking suspicious looks like and i don't mean to ask, just i'm tired. >> no. and like here's the whole thing with it. there's certain things in what's going on and just like i said we've got a suspicious death and right now we don't have any -- >> and you're suspecting me. >> --other person. well, we have no other person right now. >> reporter: and so it was a long night in that little room. the detective gave steve a blanket. asked again about that trail. >> the proximity of where the trail is -- >> i know.
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>> where you're riding. >> i wish i'd chosen a different trail. >> i wish you had chosen a different trail also. because, here's the thing -- >> well, of course if i had done it, i probably wouldn't have chosen to be right near the scene of what sounds like maybe a crime. >> reporter: maybe so. but wherever he was, he picked up something the detectives simply couldn't ignore. >> very fresh multiple scratches. >> reporter: on his arms and legs. steve said he got those riding a rough mountain trail on his bike. detectives photographed them, before letting him go home. meanwhile, overnight, other detectives searched steve's office, his home, his garage. they took pictures. lots of pictures. after the autopsy, next afternoon, the medical examiner
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reported that carol died from blows to the head. administered by some blunt object. 7 times, her killer hit her. with what? the medical examiner offered an opinion. it looked like it might have been a golf club. and one more thing. carol herself might already be telling them who killed her. >> it's one of those moments that you go, "oh my goodness." >> reporter: the clue that police almost missed. will it help them crack the case? ...or this. ...or that... talk to farmers and see what gaps could be hiding in your coverage. my heaven! we are farmers bum - pa - dum. bum - bum - bum - bum give the gift of more. switch to cricket wireless
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>> reporter: there is, as katherine morris can tell you, no good way to find out your close friend has been murdered. especially a friend as incandescent as carol kennedy. >> it is the biggest loss of my life to this day. it's profound. it's piercing. it's constant. >> she didn't have any enemies. >> none. none. >> reporter: katherine, who by this time lived in atlanta, flew across the country to prescott. >> i needed to see it.
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i needed to be in her home where she last was. >> reporter: she joined other members of carol's family at bridle path. in the very room where carol died. blood still spattered on the furniture. the mess of what happened everywhere in that room. >> you just -- you can't imagine. painful. >> did it help? >> it helped greatly to put it into perspective of the absolute animalistic, violent. >> evidence of that was still in the room? >> oh, yes. oh, yeah. >> reporter: steve was there, too, said katherine. and she remembers him saying something that, to her, didn't make much sense. >> he put his arm around me and said, "you'd just wanna think it >> then i looked at him and i said, "that this -- this is not
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what i'm looking at is not an accident." >> reporter: by then, so soon after the murder, steve was the only real suspect under investigation. and in the following weeks, as friends and family mourned, detectives peeled back the relationship. and soon found evidence that their recent divorce was, well, no divorce is pleasant, but -- >> we looked heavily into e-mails and we learned that carol was very unhappy with the outcome of the divorce. they argued heavily back and forth up until the day of her murder. >> reporter: steve made good money as a financial advisor, had agreed to pay six thousand dollars a month in spousal support. >> when you say somebody makes over five hundred thousand dollars you would assume that a six-thousand-dollar monthly payment is not a big deal. but he was spending way more than he was making. he was having to borrow money from his parents almost monthly. >> when he's making a half a million a year? >> that's correct.
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and the six thousand dollars he was going to be unable to sustain his lifestyle. >> reporter: mind you, those numbers were for 2008. a year when, like a lot of people, steve hemorrhaged money because of the financial crisis. still, to the detective, that like motive, and might even explain why the murder occurred when it did. at the beginning of july. 1st. the second payment was due july 1st. she was murdered july 2nd. and that payment was never made. >> i wasn't there. i wouldn't do that. >> reporter: again and again, he denied killing his ex-wife. said he was out mountain biking the evening she died. but, look at this. along with shoeprints near carol's house after the muer, police also found tire tracks. bike tires. >> we then were able to see that
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then the individual walked right to the back of her house. >> reporter: they did not take direct impressions of those shoe and tire tracks as investigators frequently do, but they did take pictures of the tracks. looked a lot like the treads on steve's tires, they felt. and, while no matching shoes turned up, they discovered that steve once bought a pair that might match. and then, there was the curious business of the murder weapon. or possible murder weapon. remember the coroner's report. suggesting carol may have been hit with a golf club? when investigators learned that, something clicked in their memories from their first search through steve's house. >> there were golf clubs in his garage. >> so let's go bacand seize them, right? >> yeah, seize them and examine them to see if we can determine that these golf clubs were used as the murder weapon. >> so it sounds like kind of an aha moment, right? >> it's one of those moments
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at you go, oh, my gogoness, we may have overlooked something. >> reporter: so, they returned to steve's condo, seized the golf clubs from the garage. and tested them. but t uld find no evidencecehat any of them was the murder weapon. still there was something else. in the first search of the condo, a detective remembered seeing a golf club cover, or golf 'sock' on a shelf. they looked at the photos. there it was. but when they searched the garage a second time, it was gone. and the shelf itself had apparently been sort of rearranged. >> reporter: was it possible that now missing golf sock belonged to a different golf club. one that was no longer around. one used to kill carol kennedy. did steve, knowing he was a suspect, get rid of that golf sock because it was incriminating evence? seemed like every investigative e trail they followed led right back to the same person they had suspected all along. carol's friend katherine knew who that was.
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>> i didn't believe that steve did it. but i couldn't think of anyone else that would possibly do any harm to carol. and so three months after carol was killed, they arrested steve democker on a charge of first degree murder. steve's sister, sharon. >> i'm trying to imagine what it was like for the family, this amazing, accccplished, interesting, intelligent family, when the leader child was charged with murdering his wife. a woman who you all loved. >> it was a total shock. you're going, "the they, they don't understand. if -- - they knew him they would see how wrong and impossible this was." >> reporter: even worse, osecutors filed for the death nalty. any chance for bail for steve, given the charge, was remote.
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gathered in court for the hearing, which, coincidence, had been scheduled for cistmas eve, 2008. and then it was delayed. >> it was a crushing blow seeing the wheels turn painfully slowly in this process. so we left, and we're standing out in the corridor, and then, they were just startin' to bring steve out, and we said, "do you know what? let's just sing him a christmas carol." so, we started singi, we wish you a merry christma and, we could d e that, you know, there were t trs streaming down steve's face. >> reporter: steve's family wept too. they believed he was innocent. that someone else killed carol. and their belief only grew stronger. >> 911 what is the emergency? >> reporter: after? a 911 call. this time to the prescott police department. >> the door's open, it looks like a gunshot hole in the
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wind, and there's a shell casing inside, and the bedroom door is closed. >> coming up -- >> the husband always does it, right? >> they focused in on one person right frfr the very beginning.g. >> a thumbprint. a smear of blood. and here's the bombshell. neither one belonged to steve democker. >>here were a lot of red flags. before i had the shootinin burning, pins-and-needles of diabetic nerve pain, these feet... ...served my country... ...carried the weight of a family... ...and walked a daughter down the aisle. but i couldn't bear my diabetic nerve pain any longer. so i talked to my doctor and he prescribed lyrica. nerve damage from diabetes causes diabetic nerve pain. lyrica is fda-approved to treat this`pain. lyrica may cause serious allergic reactions or suicidal thoughts or actions. tell your doctor right away if you have these, new, or worsening depression, or unusual changes in mood or behavior. or swelling, trouble breathing, rash, hihis, blisters, muscle pain with f fer, tired feeling, or blurry vision.
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>> reporter: steve democker was in jail, charged with first degree murder for his ex-wife carol kennedy's violent death. he pleaded not guilty. robertson joined steve's defense team, and right away saw what he lieved was an elemental mistake by detectives. >> they put together their story, their version of events almost immediately. >> husband always does it, right? >> yeah, they focusesein on one person and they had a story, and that's what they worked on. they zeroed in on steve democker right from the very beginning. >> reporter: but robertson said dedectives should have t ten a much closer look at another man in carol' s life, jim knapp. the man who lived in the guest house and showed up at the crime
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scene within minutes of the officers. and, who was the first person to point the finger at steve. >> but the fact that law enforcement viewed him in a different way that they viewed steve democker, that they saw jim knapp as a friendly witness, and they see steve democker as a suspect, frames the way that they investigate. so anything having to do with jim knapp becomes excusable, explained, it's just not something you have to worry about because he's not our guy. >> reporter: and yet? look, for example, at these crime scene photos of carol's kitchen counter. this magazine was sitting on it, and slipped inside, between the pages, were some financici documents that were printed the very day carol was murdered. >> that became really important because his thumbprint is on those financial documents. >> reporter: what was jim knapp
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and something else, perhaps very significant. >> there was blood on the doorknob of the door that led from the main house into the backyard garage. >> reporter: the blood became evidence i im #805 collected days after carol's death. and whose dna was mixed with carol's blood? jim knapp's dna.a. >> just like the thumbprint, the question becomes when did jim knapp's dna get put on that door handle? >> reporter: robertson clearly and steve's sister sharon did too. >> so you've felt all along that jim knapp should have been a suspect and wasn't. >> he should've been investigated. there were a lot ored flags that were concerning. >> reporter: knapp told where near carol's house when the murder happened. he was at his ex-wife's place, miles away, babysitting his son. >> didn't they find out that the alibi, in fact, was pretty
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solid? >> no. what the son said was that, yeah they'd gotten a video and the son was watching it. he doesn't know where dad was. >> d d wasn't sitting beside him in the room? >> no. dad was not watching with him, so he doesn't know where dad was. and the son got bored watching this movie and i beleeve he went and got t his computer. so there's a period of time that we don't really know. he might have been in the house, but nobody saw him. >> reporter: so maybe knapp's solid alibi wasn't? and remember how he told everyone he had cancer? sharon, a doctor, discovered something about that. >> i've seen the medical records. >> and? >> he had a superficial type of skin cancer at one point and it'd been removed. so no. he didn't. >> reporter: steve's family even
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murder, in which jim knapp said things about carol they found deeply disturbing. >> because carol and i lived a life like an old married couple. >> he was actually rather obsessed with carol. i have e-mails that he's written about how what he and carol share is more than anyone could picture. that no one will understand the bond that they have and how close they areo each other. and he referred to her, to some people, as his girlfriend, but she never had any romantic interest in him and no one -- >> and he had -- >> has ever -- >> tremendous romantic interest in her. >> very much so. >> thus in your mind, a reason to be angry one night? >> certainly. >> reporter: was it possible that carol rebuffed him. that he got angry? the detectives didn't ask those questions, said steve's family. and soon it was too late. six months after carol's murder. a 911 call from a condo where jim knapp went to live after carol was killed.
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>> we came for a welfare check of a friend of mine. the door's open. it looks like a gun shot hole in the window, and there's a shell casing inside and the bedroom door's closed. >> who are you doing the welfare check on? >> jim knapp. >> reporter: jim knapp was dead. gunshot wound. the medical examiner ruled it a suicide. >> i was stunned. it was -- it was one of those moments where it just sort of took my breath away. and then when i found out there was no note and as i learned about the details of what the scene looked like, it's still a baffling death. >> reporter: baffling because it simply did not look like a suicide. >> there was multiple gunshots fired in that room.
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there was furniture in disarray. there was drawers pulled out. >> reporter: staging, in other words. just as the investigators believed someone staged the scene of carol's murder. was jim knapp carol's killer? or another victim of an unknown killer? or maybe both? couldn't have been steve, he was in jail. and then the questions multiplied. in june 2009, almost a year after carol's death, steve's attorney received an e-mail. the sender, anonymous. the e-mail read: "i can tell you what really happened the night kennedy was killed." the e-mail said jim knapp was "running his mouth to kennedy about a prescription drug deal he was in." it said the murder was meant to look like, '" home invasion gone bad." this "wasn't one crazed man with a golf club." when steve's attorneys tolhim about the e-mail, steve replied with a startling story. he had heard the same thing just a month earlier.
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>> steve said that somebody was communicating to him through the ventilation system in the jails and told him a story about how a drug ring out of phoenix had been trying to collect money or seek some retribution against jim knapp for involvement in a prescription drug ring. >> reporter: the attorneys an opportunity for steve to tell law enforcement what he heard so they could investigate it. e-mail. listen to his reaction. >> i'm sorry. >> well, i almost hate to ask you this, but can you explain why you're emotional here today? >> because i spent a year not knowing what happened to carol and being accused of it. thth's what's happened right now. >> reporter: there was more than the e-mail to go on. remember the dna the medical examiner found under carol's fingernails?
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or jim knapp's. police called the dna, "evidence item 603." but to defense investigagar rich robertson, it represented much more. >> evidence item 603 became mr. 603. it was a male's dna that was found mixed in with carol's blood under the fingernails of her left hand. and this wasn't a small amount of dna. a reasonable person i think would d ink, this probably could have gotten there during an attack. >> reporter: jim knapp. the anonymous e-mail. mr. 603. steve's family and attornene thought investigators shouldld focus more on all of those things. instead, it seemed to them, prosecutors had already made up their minds, and steve would go
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>> reporter: summer 2010. two years after carol kennedy's
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murder, american flags were once prescott town square in anticipation of the annual rodeo. and, on june 3rd, inside the square's historic court house, >> i will ask you to find the defendant guilty of the first degree pre-meditated murder. >> reporter: first, he said, that 6 thousand a month in alimony. no. carol, said the prosecutor, was dead. >> the evidence will show that at the time of her death that steven democker was the owowr insurance policies.
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the total value of those life insurance policies was 750,000 dollars. >> reporter: steve and carol's daughters, katie and charlotte, were in court, sitting behind, and supporting their father. >> to have your father accused of killing your mother and for them to not believe it. you can't imagine what that must have done to how they view things. and it's just got to be a horrible expernce. and in his opening statement, defense attorney john sears was quick to address that life insurance money. >> you will hear from katie and charlotte that their father told them from the begigiing, this is your moneyeyrom your mother. this isn't mine. he disclaimed, he signed over any interest to the girls and the money was paid out to the girls. that's what happened in this case. >> reporter: prosecutor butner called his first witness. katie democker, steve and
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carol's elder daughter. >> dididhe have a habit of things that she did when she came home from work? >> she did. she typically went for a run maybe four days a week out on the backland. >> and to your recollection, did she leave the door unlocked when she would do that? >> yes. >> reporte an unlocked door. opportunity for her killer to enter and wait. on the stand, carol's mother, ruth kennedy, had to relive that very last phone call with her daughter. how exactly didiit end so abruptly? she told the sheriff's department operator that carol had screamed "oh, no." >> and you just said that, "oh, no" a certain way with a certain emphasis, was that the way that she said it to your recollection? >> she said, "oh, no." basically, that's the way it came out. >> did she scream then? >> it really was not a scream. i'm sure it was because i was so rattled myself. she just said, "oh, no" that's all she said and basically in that tone of voice, like it was more dismay.
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difficult for ruth, as you can imagine. >> she was everyththg a mother would want in a daughter. she was a good mother. >> reporter:r:harlotte, the younger democker daughter, was living with steve that summer. was in steve's house the night of the murder when he was unreachable for 5 hours and said his cell phone was dead. your father, did heheave normally have spare batteries with him? >> sometimes in his car. >> did he carry them in the car and also in his briease? >> it's possible. i don't t ow. >> normally, he was reachable by way of his cell phone, right? >> yes. >> reporter: and when he finally those scratches. prosecution. >> did you ask him about those >> i did. >> what did he tell you? >> he explained they were from branches from riding his bike. >> reporter: and then the prosecutor asked charlotte's, by
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about the weird business of the golf club cover. photo in steve's garage, night of the murder, but was gone when detectives returned with abother search warrant. the implication, of course, was that the cover fit the club, never found, that killed carol. jacob said that after the detectives left he talked to steve. >> what was that conversation? >> the golf head sock cover was found after they had left. >> he said, he had found it? >> yes. >> did he say what he was going to do with it? >> he didn't know whether or not to turn it into the police or give it to his lawyer. >> reporter: implying, said the prosecution, that steve knew the golf sock could incriminate him, and didn't know what to do with it. but just as the case seemed to be building momentum, two o eks into the trial, judge thomas lindberg left the bench at lunch break and suddenly collapsed. it was a brain tumor.
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and everybody waited for 5 weeks until a brand new judge was appointed, so they could pick up with testimony right where they left off. and that's when the jurors finally got to hear what became of the missing golf cocor. >> go ahead and open your evidence bag please. >> reporter: detective theresa kennedy showed it to the jurors and the judge explained a stipulation made by the attorneys. >> on july 5, 2008. >> reporter: turned out, days after carol's murder, steve gave the golf sock to his attorney, john sears. who kept it in his locked office until steve's arrest. that's when sears turned it over to law enforcement. >> reporter: so was the curious case of the migrating club sock an attempt to cover up a murder, or a bit of confusion. an investigative d dd end? prosecutors weren't done, mind you. they next tried to tie steve to the crime scene. dna or fingerprints at carol's house, but they did see those tire tracks.
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the tires on steve's bike. >> the tread othis tire is similar to the tread we observed of this tire track. >> and did you find any discernible differences between them? >> no i did not. >> reporter: and those shoe prints. they brought in an expert from the fbi. >> did you find any shoes that seemed to be comparable to the impressions that you observed in these photos f fm the crime >> yes. i found one shoe that could have made those impressions. >> reporter: a la sportiva pike's peak. rererds showed that stevevbought a pair of those shoes two years before the murder. but when detectives searched his house, they didn't find any such shoes. so, intriguing, but hardly proof. prosecutors knew they had a big problem.
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that anonymous e-mail liliing the murder, not to steve, but to jim knapp and illegal drugs. so, even as the trial went on, investigator mike sechez was interviewing and re-interviewing witnesses. including steve's girlfriend, renee girard. >> it was obvious to me that she was very protective of mr. democker. >> reporter: steve began dating renee when he was separated from carol. they were together during that tumultuous time, steve's divovoe, carol's murder, his arrest. renee had always stood by steve and his family but sechez had a feeling. >> we were pretty convinced that she knew more than she was telling us. >> reporter: sechez knew something else too. during the trial renee broke up with steve. so on the eve of her testimony sechez interviewed renee again about that "anonymous e-mail." what he discovered? explosive is not too big a word. >> where did that mysterious message come from? >> steve was terrified. mistake. >> the e-mail trail. the money trail. a winding trail of surprises was about to change this case.
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>> reporter: mornings dawned cooler in the arizona mountains, the summer flags in the town square werstored away for another year. and the murder trial of steve democker ticked into its fifth, fitful monon. the prosecution had amounted to circumstantial bits and pieces
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and investigator mike sechez knew that steve was likely to mount a strong defense. >> mr. democker is a very intelligent individual. >> but he's also a very narcissistic personality. you put those together and you can make it difficult to solve a crime. narcissistic? that's what it seemed like to the detective. also seemed to him like steve's girlfriend, renee girard, was protecting him knew more than she was telling. thth renee broke it off f th steve. and sechez interviewed her one and remember the "anonymous" e-mail that claimed carol's murder was linked to an illegal drug ring? oh boy. >> she told me that mr. democker had informed them during one of their in-person visits at the jail to bring some pencil and paper. there was a glass between them. mr. demockck had brought a document with him that he placed on the glass, so that they could view it. >> reporter: according to renee,
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steve himself wrote that document. then asked his daughter charlotte, just 17 at the time, to copy it down. >> mr. democker then asked them to send that document which became known as the anonymous e-mail to mr. sears and to the prosecutor's office. >> reporter: "mr. ars" was john sears. one of steve's defense attorneys. steve's reasoning, according to steve's sister sharon, he'd heard that story from an inmate in that air-vent conversation and desperately wanted to get the story out, and i iestigated. >> the death penalty was still on the table. so, steve was terrified. we were terrified. i can certainly appreciate when u're terrified, maybe you do some stupid things. >> well, it's when you start making mistakes, and that was a doozy of a mistake. >> uh-huh. >> reporter: and uncovering that fraud led investigators to what they thought was another, even
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remember carol's life insurance money? $750,000 worth. steve's defense attorney talked about it during his opening statement. >> he disclaimed, he signed over any interest to the girls and the money was paid out to the girls. that's what happened in this case. >> reporter: that statement caught investigator mike sechez by surprise. >> we had made contact with the life insurance company several timemethroughout the investigigion and we had been informed that the life insurance had not been paid out to anyone. >> reporter: so, had the insurance paid out or hadn't it? sechez took another look, a much harder look at the money trail. >> not only was the insurance paid out, but it was paid to the two daughters who then transferred it to several accounts, including wire transfers to mr. democker's parents' account in new york,
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back to mr. democker's defense team. >> reporter: remember steve democker was a highly-paid financial adviser. the prosecutors now believed he was using that expertise to try to get away with murder. >> here is a person that murdered his ex-wife then collected her life insurance of over 750 thousand dollars and is using that life insurance to pay his defense team in the murder prosecution. so then prosecutors added fraud to the charges steve was facing. but fraud is certainly not what it was, said defense investigator rich robertson. >> these girls voluntarily, on their own, believing in their father's innocence, dedicated money that they inherited to defend him. w can that be wrong?g? >> the girls decided to use that money for their dad's defense.
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there was no fraud, or the insurance company would have been the first one to say, "hey, we got a problem here." >> so, was that just piling on, on the part of the prosecution? >> yeah. >> reporter: the much bigger issue for the defense, said investigator robertson, wawathat phony e-mail. an e-mail the attorneys presented in court as real. because, they said, they, too, were duped by steve. >> suddenly, the attorneys are in an awkward legal ethical kind of posture and, in relationship their client. and so it createtean untenable situation for the first defense team. >> reporter: so untenable for these highly respected defense attorneys that they no option, case. and so, seven months in the judge was forced to declare a mistrial. >> we thought we were sprinting to the finish line.
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we thought that steve was gonna be home in time for finish line just kinda moved off into the horizon. >> reporter: gut wrenching said carol's friend katherine. it was so emotional of, not even a roller coaster. emotion. >> reporter: they'd have to start all over again. the money the girls received from their mother's insurance was gone now. sone to pay for the first team of attorneys. so, since steve was pretty much destitute, court appointed attorneys stepped in. and right away craig williams and greg parzych were impressed by how steve's family supported him. >> it't'a large family. very educated, very tight-knit group. >> how uniformly did they support steve through this process? >> i'd say very uniformly. >> they're all behind him? >> yes. >> reporter: but one thing after another. as steve's second trial approached. there was another, huge, surprise.
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under carol's fingernails wawa finally identified. that would be "mr 603." the mysterious mr 603, not who anyone expected. >> how can you trust anything after that? >> exactly. social side. maybe see if it's something that has aaffect on her social side. she literally started changing. it was shocking. (laughs) the difference has been incredibleleshe's much more are. (jan) a brighter look to her eyes.
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reporter: it had always been an issue in the case against steve democker: that one fascinating clue that could break the case wide open. who was "mr. 603"? that's what people were calling the mysterious dna found under carol's fingernails after she wamurdered. one thing for sure, it was not steve.e. >> we exhausted so many man hours and looked at any and all alternatives. >> reporter: and then itas during the long months of waiting for a new trial to begin, the prosecution had an idea. what if that 603 sample was a simple mistake. what if something just got mixed up in the lab? so investigator mike sechez looked up the autopsy done just before carol's. and submitted a sample from that
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for re-testing. and? nearly three years after carol's murder, a call from the crime lab. >> the sample dna that we sent had matched the dna under carol kennedy's fingernails. we finally were able to discover and verify who mr. 603 is. >> reporter: mr. 603, it turned out, was another dead soul, the man lying on the autopsy table before carol got there. it was his dna. maybe on one of the coroner's instruments, that ended up under carol's fingernails. mystery solved. one more doubt removed, said the prprecution. but for steve's defense team, it was further proof of a shoddy investigation. >> contamimition. we found out not only potential contamination, there was actual contamination in this case. >> how can you trust anything after that?
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>> reporter: defense attorney craig williams said the case against steve had an even bigger flaw. >> you cannot put steve democker in that house where there was a horrific murder, a bloody >> no dna at all. >> no dna, no blood. you don't find any dna of you don't find any dna, fingerprints, blood, anything that he's in the house. how can you convict hihiof murder? >> reporter: but in july 2013, after carol's death, steve was still in jail, and the case finally went to trtrl again. new defense attorneys. a new prosecution team. who, it soon became clear, had, during the long delays, spent argument against steve. >> carol kennedy had no enemies. this was not a burglary or a robbery, no valuables are missing. the overwhelming evidence in this c ce points to the defendant and at the close of that evidence we will ask you to
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charges and especially first-degree murder. >> reporter: and now the prosecution had more evidence. like steve's gooooe searches during the month before carol's damaging, to say the least. >> there was some information for the term "how to kill and make it look like suicide," and there was some information on the term "how to make a homicide appear suicici." >> reporter: those e-mails and texts messages, carol and steve arguing in the days before her death, were read to the jury. a crime scene analyst claimed the blood spatter indicated the killer was left handed. >> with the position that i think is the most comfortable position, i would think that they're swinging from the e ft. >> reporter: and steve was left handed. remember the golf sock in the garage? it was made, said the prosecution, for a now missing lele handed club. so here, at last, was the state's theory about how steve killed his ex-wife.
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days before the murder, said the state, he dropped off that club at carol's house, supposedly for her to sell in an upcoming garage sale, but left the golf sock in his garage. and then, the night of the murder, he sneaked into her house, and used that club to kill her. though such a club was never found, the golf sock was evidence it existed, said the prosecution, and the shape of carol's wounds confirmed it. then, to bolster an alibi, as his ex-girlfriend renee girard testified for the prosecution, steve allowed his cell phone battery to die. something he never normally did. >> in general, therereas usually a battery in his phone and an extra battery either charged or being charged. >> did you e er know him to be to not have a phone at the ready if he needed to use it? >> he didn't. >> reporter: renee also revealed that a month after the murder,
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hindsight t emed very significant. >> in the evening we would take picked up a bag on the way out the door one evening and as we were walking told me about the bag and what he was going to do with it. >> reporter: a getaway bag. which she said he buried on a golf course. and sure enough, with renee's help, detectives found the bag on the golf course. inside were cash, clothing, and a cell phone, and a pen light. also, after steve was arrested, they conducted more searches. in his storage unit, they found books about how to "cover your tracks" and live as a "fugitive." at an apartment he rented in scottstsle, arizona, they fofod parking garage. motorcycle that the detectives parking garage. they believe that he had
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recently purchased it. >> reporter: and inside these locked cases, they later learned, steve had maps, clothing, hair dye, makeup, and fifteen thousand dollars in cash. charlotte, who still believed her father was innocent, prosecution. put on the spot, she had to agree she knew he was thinking of running. and under a grant of immunity she admitted that she wrote the so-called anonymous e-mail that claimed carol was killed by drug dealers. an e-mail dictated by her father. >> and at one point, your dad held up a piece of paper to that glass window and wanted you to write down what was on that papar? >> yes. >> and you did? >> yes. >> what were you supposed to do with that piece of paper? >> i was supposed to write an e-mail with the same substance that i had copied dodo. i believe, in the hopes that it
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>> what did that mean to you, i mean, did you believe it? >> i did. i believed that that was what he had been told by someone in the jail. and that, you know it was very emotional for me. and i wanted it to be investigated. >> so how did you get the information out? >> i sent an anonynyus e-mail. >> reporter: anonymous. so that it could not be traced back to her or her father. her older sister katie wasn't aware the e-mail had come from charlotte. but, she was at the center of the story about life insurance. steve had signed a disclaimer saying he would not benefit from the proceeds of carol's life insurance. but, katie was forced to testify that wasn't true. >> my father was asking me for rious things related to that money. >> reporter: once carol's life insurance paid out, katie transferred her share to her grandparents. >> but you knew that your
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grandparents were going to use that money for attorneys' fees? >> that was my understanding, some or all of it. >> reporter: the prosecution called close to 50 witnesses to portray steve democker as a man o plotted to kill his wife. plotted his escape. and used his own children to fund his defense. and even hoodwink his lawyers and the court. the case looked strong, the prosecution rested. >> your honor, the state would rest. >> reporter: now it was time to hear from the dedense. and, no surprise, it had a quite different theory about carol kennedy's murder. a theory that had nothing whatsoever to do with steve democker. >> coming up--
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>> it wasnsn a little bit of evidence that we had on mr. knapp. it was a mountain of evidence. >> i'm wondering what was this man capable of? was s going to hurt me or hurt my f fily? i was scared. sail the ship chop the tree skip the rope look at me all together now vo: everything for entertaining everyone. kohl's. we stop arthritis pain, so you don't have to stop. tylenol 8hr arthritis pain has two layers of pain relief. the first is fast. the second lasts all day. we give you your day back. what you do with it is up to you. tylenol . think your heartburn pill works fast? take the zantac it challenge! zantac works in as little as 30 minutes. nexium can take 24 hours. when heartburn strikes, take zantac for faster relief than nexium or your money back.
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>> five years, the state has had five years to put steve democker at the scene of the crime, but they cannot. >> reporter: anybody paying attention to the bizarre murder
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case playing out in fits and starts here in prescott. was apt to be a little suspicious of steve democker's behavior after the killing. getaway bag? fake e-mail? defense attorneys craig williams and greg parzych could see that as well as anyone. bubuwas he guilty of mururr? no, they said. rather, he was the victim of some detectives tunnel vision, beginning with a sloppy investigation. >> there was kind of cavalcade of people roaming through this scene that they didn't lock down, tromping through footprints and tromping through the house. and they didn't seal it off correctly. to me, when somebody shows up on the scene and immediately points the finger at the ex-husband, and then that's all they ever did. >> it's always boom, right on m? >> it was always on him. >> reporter: the jurors listened to steve's interview with the detectives, conducted the night carol was killed. >> we've got a suspicious death and right now we donon have any other person.
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>> and you're suspecting me. >> well, we have no other person right now. >> reporter: in which you can hear the suspicion, said the defense. and steve, said the attorneys, felt a cold fear overcoming him.m. >> he's afraid of what's happening, that the investigation is all on him, they're not focusing on anybody else, anything else that focuses on him, and he's afraid that nobody will believe him. >> reporter: that's why he buried the getaway bag, they said. wasn't a sign of guilt, but of terror. months after steve was arrested. >> you never had any evidence that mr. democker tried to use that bag to flee, correct? >> that he tried to use the bag to flee? >> yes. >> i believe that's precisely what he did. >> he never fled. >> we arrested him before he could flee, yes. >> well, you're using a term of flee." my question to you is very direct. he did not flee, did he? >> okay. there's another term of art.
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did mr. democker flee or not? that's a yes or no question. >> no,o,e did not flee. >> reporter: and steve's sister sharon had a simple explanation for those coincidences, the night of the murder. the circumstantial evidence. like his dead cell phone battery. >> i think most of us with cell phones can appreciate that later in theheay it's not uncommon for the babaery to go. >> but their ears perked up when he drew the route and part of it came within a mile of the house on bridle path. >> well, he lived out there. for many years. so that was a favored trail. >> they also made a great deal of the tracks that they found in the property. the shoe prints that must've been his, the tire t tcks that must've been his. >> nobody knows whose those are. he did buy a pair at one point. but he doesn't know if he kept them. he said, "i never keep any shoes for more than six months."
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no shoes lasted more than six months. >> and he bought them a couple >> yeah. the bicycle tire, that's the tire that's on 80% of all the mountain bikes in the u.s. it's the most common tire. so there's nothing very distinctive about that. they wanted to be able to tell the jury that it was a match. they were not allowed to d dthat because as the experts saiai "we have no idea if it's a match or not." >> something that has more or less. >> reporter: the defense called its own forensic pathologist to ask if the medical examiner was correct in his conclusion that the murder weapon was a golf club. >> with regards to saying, ah, specifically this weapon, i can't. >> i think the golf club is a, as alfred hitchcock used to say, it's the mcguffin, okay? it's the magic device to tie it to steve democker, the golfer, the elitist. >> sure. >> the rich guy who is pissed off about. >> fine. but isn't there scientific evidence to say that's a golf
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club head that hit it? >> no. i don't agree with any of that. and nobody, not a single person could say that that was a golf club. they all said it could have been a golf club. but they also said it could have been other weapon. >> reporter: the defense argued detectives should have looked into other suspects too. one person in particular. jim knapp. the man who rented carol's guest house and arrived at the scene almost immiately after deputies. >> why was he a potential suspect ininour view? >> well, it's like the guy who lights the fire that comes back to watch it burn. and that was our feeling about mr. knapp. becausit wasn't a little bit of evidence that we had on mr. knapp. it was a mountain of evidence on him. >> reporter: knapp, said the defense attorneys, was in serious financial trouble and cooked up a shameless lie to money. knapp faked cancer. >> he got totohe point where he was lying about having active financial help so that he could take care of his cancer, which he actually didn't'tave. >> he didn't have. >> reporter: they said knapp
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desperately wanted to buy a franchise business, a smoothie money. at one point, even introducing carol as his business partner. so was he obsessed w wh carol? his behavior with this former girlfriend when she tried to break up with him certainly seemed obsessive to her, she said he wouldn't leave her alone. kept sending her e-mails. >> i'm wondering what was this man capable of. was he going to come up and stalk? was he going to do something mean? was he going to hurt me or hurt my family? felt like. and i was scared. >> reporter: more defense how did jim knapp's fingerprints wind up on those financial documents that were printed the day of the murdedeand found slipped inside a magazine sitting on carol's kitchen counter? and how did knapp's dna get mixed with carol's blood in a sample taken from a doorknob,
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leaving the house? thatatas evidence item #805. they called a dna expert. >> so you can see that all the way across that top line the numbers are the same as james knapp and there are many points of difference with steve democker.. >> your point was that on each of these analyses, james knapp matches each one of these, and steve democker doesn't. >> that's right. >> reporter: in fact, neither steve democker's d-a, nor his fingerprints, were ever found at the crime scene. so, had police focused on the wrong man all along? and because steve democker knew that, did he make a foolish mistake like a frightened man would? the anonymous e-mail, the voice in the vent, all of that occurs once he's placed in custody, loses hope and becomes desperate. that should not, in our opinion, should not have been introduced in this trial. that's a whole separate trial, a whole separate issue. >> reporter: the defense tried to keep all that out of the trial did not succeed.
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look like a bad, evil guy who forced his daughters to use their inheritance money to pay for his attorneys, a low, scummy thing to do. >> but none of that put him in the house. none of that put any dna on him, in his house car, person, >> judge, at this time, the defense rests. >> thank you. >> reporter: all along, steve's family remained rock solid in his corner. as sister sharon said. >> i wanna think the best of my brother. the other part of it is that no one showed me anything that changes my mind. there is no evidence to say, "well, you know, you're not thinkin' about this." show me something. >> but do you see your own kind
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affecting your judgment about these things? >> if you can prove to me that this is what happened then that's different. but i'm missing the big evidence that's, says that he was there. >> reporter: and now, five years after the brutal murder on bridle path, a jury would finally get to decide. and steve would finally get his say. >> coming up -- >> it was rough on everybody. >> you really are on pins and needles. let there be peace on earth let there be peace on earth all the hard work... time in the service... community college...
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nothing else in life to compare to the agonizing hours and days. a family waits. endures. as twelve strangers sit in a locked room and prepare to dictate fate. >> well, as -- as anyone who's watched a tv show -- i can tell you unfortunately, the reality is really similar. you really are on pins and needles waiting for that verdict that you don't know what it is. >> yeah, and you have no control over it. >> uh-huh. >> strangers are gonna decide. >> uh-huh. >> who don't know your brother? >> uh-huh. >> reporter: this family of highly educated professionals knew the case for and against steve as intimately as any attorney. on the third day of deliberations, there was nothing for them to do but sit together. watch their phones. and then, as they prepared to leave a coffee shop in prescott -- news. the jury had reached a verdict. but it was four in the afternoon. apparently quitting time. and the judge decided they'd all have to wait until morning to hear what the verdict was. katie and charlotte, comforted by steve's parents, his
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had another night to wait and wonder what did the jury decide? >> it was rough on everybody. >> it is. and it's just horrible. with that nervous energy then is to the -- you can't sleep. >> we were thinking, "well, are they just stretching this out?" >> was it torture? >> well, sure, i mean, we -- we just want them to go ahead and let him go now. >> reporter: then, the next morning -- the clock struck nine. it was time. >> when they came back into the room, could you tell? >> yeah. didn't have a good feeling. it's never good when they come back in the room and they won't look at the family. >> we the jury duly empaneled and sworn find the defendant, steve democker, guilty. verdict count 2, guilty. for count 3, guilty. >> reporter: guilty on all counts. >> how'd it feel? >> we were just stunned. it's -- it wasn't the right verdict. the law didn't support that verdict. >> reporter: defense investigator rich robertson didn't think so either.
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>> the biggest shock to me was that they came back unanimous and came back unanimous fairly quickly. it was disappointing. and still is. >> how did steve take it? >> devastated. >> steve's innocent. and steve wants to continue to fight and prove his innocence. that's what his mission is now. >> reporter: but is he innocent? investigator mike sechez. >> i believe in my heart and soul that steve democker killed carol kennedy. >> reporter: he thinks often, he said, about the daughters about the impact on them. >> while my heart goes out to them, you know, you have to recognize that this is all because of one man's actions. >> reporter: carol's friend, katherine. >> i never wanted to believe that steve was capable of doing this. and the jury has made their decision. i accept their decision. i agree with their decision. >> i'm so glad it's over. i'm so relieved. because so many of us have been dragged through it for the last
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five and a half years. >> reporter: katie and charlotte were back in court at their father's sentencing. and in spite of everything, the state's case against steve, how steve used charlotte to create that phony e-mail evidence and then paid for his defense with life insurance money carol intended for her daughters. in spite of all that, at their father's sentencing, they asked the judge for leniency. >> i ask because i would like the opportunity to someday walk again with my father, freely and outside. to speak openly and honestly with him and find ways to heal the pain of this prolonged nightmare. i believe in healing and forgiveness because that is the way that i was raised. as for me, i can promise that i will never forget the memory of my mother. she lives in me every day and will for the rest of my life. >> the additional pain of the reality that we now face is very difficult for me to grasp.
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mother, my father may never attend my wedding or see my children born or even watch me graduate. it feels like losing a parent all over again. this excruciating punishment is almost as difficult for me as i know it must be for him. >> reporter: steve professed his innocence. >> i did not kill carol. we loved each other for more than twenty years. our marriage was over, but not our affection for each other. i would no more have harmed her than i would harm my daughters by taking her from them. >> reporter: leniency was not forthcoming. the judge sentenced steve democker to natural life plus 20 years. no parole. no hope of a life ever outside prison walls. all along, we'd been asking for an interview with steve. he was willing. the sheriff wasn't.
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finally, after the sentencing, we were allowed a brief telephone interview from state prison. >> the lengths that they went to string. to -- to amplify, to exaggerate the evidence, to even misrepresent it, that was the only way they were able to achieve this conviction. and it's just wrong, keith. it's just wrong. >> you're looking ahead here to an appeal process that will take quite some time at the minimum. you know, appeals are hard to win. you could be, in fact, in prison for the rest of your life. are you prepared for that? >> i'm as prepared as anyone can be. i mean, the part that's really hard is you become nothing but a burden. and so i guess if i wind up here for the rest of my life, i will try to find some way to be of use in the world. >> reporter: interesting thing about steve democker. he's an extremely articulate man. can he possibly be sincere, too? all we can know with certainty
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is that carol will never again have the chance to be useful. although, scratch that. maybe she will. >> one thing that she always, sort of, said to us, "as long as i'm living in this world, i am always here for you and with you." and i think she should have rephrased that to, "no matter if i'm here living or in heaven, i'm always with you," because i feel her in my heart. i feel her when i'm doing certain things. and her presence certainly lives
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