Skip to main content

tv   2020  ABC  August 7, 2015 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT

10:00 pm
i'm john quinones. that is our program. join us next week for another edition of "what would you do?." connect with us any time, like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. and don't go away. "20/20" starts right now. >> reporter: tonight on "20/20" -- a simmering summertime feud leads a once-friendly neighborhood to war -- [ gunshots ] with a vet who thinks he's still on the battlefield. >> this is not murder. this is killing the enemy. it could be anytown, u.s.a. your town. kids playing on swings. tight-knit neighbors. then -- a midnight murder spree. a killer in camouflage, crawling across his front yard. >> i immediately went into what the military calls a crouching stance. >> reporter: billy woodward,
10:01 pm
engaging the enemy -- his former friends. but why? >> just pop, pop, pop. i figured he was going to come and kill all of us. >> reporter: you had been such good neighbors. how in the world did it go so badly? a gun and, he says the law, on his side. billy woodward says that you all threatened him. was he "standing his ground" with 31 rounds defending himself? or taking revenge against a neighbor who taunted him? >> queer-ass army reject. >> we never had guns, we never had baseball bats, we never had knives. >> the words that are coming out of my mouth, they're not going to kill somebody. >> reporter: try telling that to a man who's reached his breaking point. >> these people [ bleep ] with me and [ bleep ] with me. >> reporter: tonight, you'll see how a small florida suburb
10:02 pm
erupted into bloodshed. your neighbor had just gunned down your boyfriend in front of your eyes. those explosive surveillance images. >> plastic g.i. joe. >> reporter: interrogation tapes. a blow-the-roof-off hearing. >> do you not understand that, sir? >> reporter: and the question everyone will be asking -- is this woman's husband a calculating killer or a hero? >> he saved my life and our children. how can you punish him for that? >> reporter: after tonight, which side will you be on? >> good evening. right here tonight, you're about to see how those few minutes of gunfire, 31 rounds, caught on video, will change a neighborhood forever. friends turning on each other to set off the war next door. but why? >> that's the big question.
10:03 pm
and it's part of the debate raging across the country. the controversial stand your ground law. is it ever justifiable or an excuse to kill? after tonight, you may ask yourself, who's the bully and who's the real victim? once again, debra roberts. >> reporter: titusvile, florida, tucked in along the east coast just up from the kennedy space center. >> three, two, one, and liftoff. >> reporter: it's the space coast, nasa country, where big rockets shoot for the stars. but among three homes on smith drive, a more earthly matter put this city in the headlines. a vicious neighborhood feud. the trouble begins here at billy and barbara woodward's house. parents of two kids, she works in h.r., he's at home on disability. a gulf war vet, he says he suffers from ptsd and anxiety -- treated with a shoebox full of prescriptions. across the street, billy's good
10:04 pm
friend gary hembree lives with his girlfriend kim sillsbury and their children. >> reporter: what was the relationship like between you two and the woodwards? i get the impression that there was a good relationship? >> gary knew them for years and years, our kids would go on hayrides with him. it seemed fine. >> reporter: they were so close, woodward even loaned gary money. gary's house was bursting at the seams. an old friend, roger picior and his girlfriend had moved in with her children. the crowd from gary's home often spilled next door into the yard of welder tim blake and his wife keri. >> i thought it was a nice place, i mean, all the neighbors seemed really nice. you know, it was very quiet, quaint, kids were playing all the time. >> reporter: a tight group of neighbors, all getting along. billy's wife barbara still recalls the happy days on smith drive, when all the children played together. is that the swing set that you put up?
10:05 pm
>> i saved for years to buy that swing set, and all the kids would come over and play on it. my daughter loved it. >> reporter: they even bond over chickens. billy decides to raise some in his yard. not exactly legal but no one seems to mind. he considers them therapy animals. >> they were like pets. you could pick them up and handle them. they were very friendly. >> reporter: how many would you guess you had? >> i don't know, about 20 or so. >> reporter: oh. life was mostly fine, until an incident with a birthday present. billy and barbara's daughter ava was turning 12. >> somebody left a present for ava. they thought we were not home, but i guess we didn't hear the door or whatever so they left it on the porch. >> reporter: but ava's birthday gift went missing. the woodwards accused the daughter of their neighbor gary with stealing it. >> i just knew. i just knew that she had taken it. gary immediately got very agitated and upset that we were accusing his daughter of having stolen something from our house. >> reporter: billy and barbara call the police. gary's daughter is in tears. it was a bad scene. the families in those three
10:06 pm
houses along smith drive are now at battle stations -- it's billy and barbara woodward versus everybody else -- gary and kim, roger and the blakes next door. photos from that day show billy, the man who loved those chickens, flipping the bird. and, although he denies it, the neighbors say billy also brandished a weapon. >> billy lifted his shirt up and showed us his gun. >> billy flashed a gun and held it up, said -- told us, said, "anybody come out there, come on out here in the street, we'll get it done right now." >> reporter: when billy's dad comes over, he says the neighbors turned on him too. >> some of the comments were, "i got me a baseball bat, i'll bash that old man's head in." >> reporter: did you fear that this could turn violent? >> oh yes, ma'am, absolutely, yup. >> reporter: things get so heated, billy's father buys him a surveillance camera that will later record terrifying events. all this heartburn, instigated by something as minor as a missing birthday present. sad, but hardly a surprise to
10:07 pm
anyone familiar with the long-running carnival of wacky neighbor stories "20/20" has followed over the years. >> i was minding my own business when you came out here. >> there's somebody on a tractor on pioneer. oh, my god. >> he's smashing my house. >> i'm getting the [ bleep ] out of here. >> reporter: caterpillar crimes and misdemeanors. >> you better get the cops up here with some guns, because this son of a gun is crazy. >> reporter: the antics often lead to a fence, surveillance cameras, and regular visits from the police. but not many end in the kind of heartbreak witnessed in this story. back in titusville, the neighbors across the street from billy woodward know exactly how to ruffle his feathers -- those precious, illegal chickens. they blow the whistle, and billy is forced to give up his feathered friends. he and wife barbara find them new homes in the country. how upsetting was it to bill to have to get rid of them? >> it made him angry. he was just upset that there had not been a problem and then now,
10:08 pm
all of the sudden there is. >> when they made him get rid of the chickens, oh, it was on then. a light switch went on in billy. he was not ever the same then. >> they were constantly taunting about the chickens. they would drive up and down the street and lay on the horn just to be irritating. so it was a constant barrage of noise, which they knew would bother him because of his ptsd. >> reporter: so it was a hostile environment? >> it was constant. it was constant. >> reporter: even neighbor tim blake admits the taunting sometimes went too far. did you ever think at some point that this is going to escalate, this is going to get bad? >> we even told the cops, "are you going to wait till the body bags are being toted out?" >> reporter: but you also knew that you were antagonizing him as much as he was antagonizing you. >> oh, it was a 50/50 deal. yeah i look back now, i act like -- you were a idiot. >> reporter: police were soon barraged with calls from the neighborhood, often several times a day.
10:09 pm
what would happen once the police arrived? >> they would say everybody needs to go home and calm down. that never happened. as soon as the police would leave, they would start their taunts again. >> reporter: billy's dad, himself a former cop, gives his son some astonishing advice, saying he can't rely on the police. >> i explained to him that at the same time that you have to try to involve the police to keep you safe and your family safe, son, you always have to remember that there might be a time when they're not there. >> reporter: you said that to him. >> yes i did, because i've had to say it to many, many people over the -- over the years. >> reporter: by late august, the nasty dispute ends up at the titusville courthouse with all sides asking for orders of protection. after speaking out of turn in court, billy gives his standard excuse. >> judge, i apologize for my outburst. i'm a mentally disabled veteran who's medicated, who suffered a head injury and combat stress,
10:10 pm
and i don't control my actions very well. >> reporter: the judge denies the orders and tells them all to go home and behave, but the hot-headed neighbors can't even get out of the parking lot without a physical brawl. billy jumps gary. >> he came right up to us and said, "are you ready to die?" picked gary up by his neck, threw him up against the car. >> reporter: gary's cell phone rolling on the whole thing. >> hey! you psychopath. >> i'm okay. >> reporter: the recording ends when a deputy picks up gary's phone. billy is arrested, and released. five days later, there he is on the surveillance camera, with his gun, all that ammo, and his neighbors in his sights. stay with us. ♪ me and you, ♪ and you and me. ♪ no matter how they tossed the dice. ♪ ♪ it had to be.
10:11 pm
♪ the only one for me is you. ♪ and you for me. ♪ so happy together! now there's a rewards program that lets you earn points at one place and use them at another. introducing plenti. ♪ ♪ when it comes to rewards, there's plenti together. ♪ ♪ could protect you from cancer? sfx: crunch what if one push up could prevent heart disease? [man grunts] one wishful thinking, right? but there is one step you can take to help prevent another serious disease-pneumococcal pneumonia. one dose of the prevnar 13® vaccine can help protect you from pneumococcal pneumonia. an illness that can cause coughing, chest pain, difficulty breathing,
10:12 pm
and may even put you in the hospital. prevnar 13® is used in adults 50 and older to help prevent infections from 13 strains of the bacteria that cause pneumococcal pneumonia. you should not receive prevnar 13® if you've had a severe allergic reaction to the vaccine or its ingredients. if you have a weakened immune system, you may have a lower response to the vaccine. common side effects were pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site, limited arm movement, fatigue, headache, muscle or joint pain, less appetite, chills or rash. even if you've already been vaccinated with another pneumonia vaccine, prevnar 13® may help provide additional protection. get this one done. ask your healthcare professional about prevnar 13® today. htake care of what makes you,e. you. right down to your skin. aveeno® daily moisturizing lotion with 5 vital nutrients for healthier looking skin in just one day. aveeno®. naturally beautiful results® ♪ it's just a summer thing double it up this summer with a hot deal from mcdonald's. the $2.50 double combo,
10:13 pm
a mouth-watering double cheeseburger and small fries for just $2.50. (music)
10:14 pm
now, back to "20/20"'s the
10:15 pm
war next door. with debra roberts. >> reporter: the sun has set on a fateful labor day weekend in titusville. the traditional end of a long hot summer, the first monday of september and the last straw in a neighborhood feud pitting billy and barbara woodward against the folks across the street on smith drive, gary hembree, his girlfriend kim sillsbury, their house guest roger picior, and next door, tim and keri blake. enter the gunman, billy woodward, crawling on all fours into the frame of his own surveillance camera. >> i kept low crawling. i was on a military mission. i was going to end this war. >> reporter: it's just past midnight. he's slipping out of his home where his wife and two children are asleep to spy on his neighbors, and the remains of a rowdy barbecue across the street. >> when you hunt down an enemy, patience is a virtue.
10:16 pm
if you have no patience you're not going to make a good soldier. >> reporter: the next time we see him on the surveillance camera, billy is across the street approaching roger and his son, who had been wrestling on the lawn. >> roger's son jumped off his back when he saw me, and i shot roger in the torso. you'll have to listen to the video to count the amount of times. right now i couldn't tell you. >> okay. >> he slumped to the ground. >> what's striking is how calm he is, how methodical and emotionless. >> reporter: billy now turns his gun on tim blake, standing in his carport. >> i followed him to his garage. he tried to go inside the door. i put rounds into his torso until he slumped to the ground.
10:17 pm
>> he shoots me about, i don't know, five or six times. >> did he say anything? >> no, he was smiling. >> smiling. >> smiling. >> reporter: as these crime scene photos show, investigators later find spent bullets and brass shell casings littering the driveway. lead punched holes in a tool box and the doorway. >> there was two bullets in the door frame. i had to call csi out the next day to come pull them out. >> reporter: but most of billy's shot find their target. 11 bullets hit tim blake. >> i got, still a bullet in my backbone, one in my leg. >> reporter: and what's, what's racing through your mind at this point? >> i was going ahead and saying my prayers, stuff was flying around my face. i just kept getting shot everywhere and then i was like, damn, i'm already dead, i just ain't had time to die yet. >> i opened the door and saw you laying in a pool of blood, didn't know if you were dead or alive, and closed it and called 911. >> reporter: keri, did you think you were going to be killed? >> i did. i truly did. i thought he was going to come
10:18 pm
in the house and shoot all of us. >> reporter: then, a deathly silence. but billy isn't retreating, he's reloading. a fresh clip with 15 more rounds. and now billy's ex-friend, gary hembree, father of the little girl in the birthday present spat, follows his girlfriend kim out their front door. straight into the line of fire. >> gary hembree come out of his garage and said, "what the hell's going on out here?" i had a clean shot at his chest, and i put one dead center of his chest. he slumped to the ground. >> reporter: these official police sketches obtained from court records by "20/20" show the position of gary hembree's body, just a few feet from his front door. trapped under her bullet-riddled car next to her wounded boyfriend, kim sees woodward closing in. >> he came back and i watched his feet walk up very slowly, and he emptied the rest of the clip out in my boyfriend.
10:19 pm
>> reporter: at some point, billy returns to his first victim, roger, with roger's son, watching in horror. >> my dad was just laying there like this. he pushes him over because he was laying on his stomach and flipped him over and pushed his head. his head just went like that and put it right to his head, point blank, just -- >> shot him again? >> two right to the head. >> and in order to make sure there are no survivors on the battlefield i point-blank shot him in the head once or twice. >> so i ran. and i am still running. >> reporter: tim blake is alive today for one reason. >> because i was out of bullets. >> okay, so you ran out? >> i used 31 rounds. two 15-round clips and one in the chamber. >> and you ran dry? >> ran dry.
10:20 pm
on three people. >> reporter: ran dry, as if he'd been watering the lawn, instead of mowing down his neighbors. billy walks back to his home as another neighbor calls out, "you all right?" billy's answer is like ice. >> i got them all. i got them all. >> reporter: "i got them all," he says. minutes later, that camera is still recording, as smith drive lights up with first responders. >> tonight, a titusville man shot 11 times by his neighbor. >> reporter: billy's wife barbara says she slept through the whole thing and when she wakes up, she believes her husband is a victim. >> you thought your husband had been killed? >> i thought my husband was dead. >> did you know that he was capable of that kind of violence? >> the man that i know and i believe in would not just go shoot some people because he was angry. something had to happen. >> reporter: days later, tim blake comes to in a hospital. detectives arrive to break the bad news about his two other neighbors.
10:21 pm
>> i can tell you that gary and roger didn't make it. they didn't make it, okay? you're the only one that lived. >> reporter: after the shooting, in a police interview room, billy woodward waives away his miranda rights, and starts talking. he seems to lose his head for a moment. >> these people, [ bleep ] with me and [ bleep ] with me. >> reporter: this detective is probably thinking we got him. he's confessing in detail. what he did, how he did it, in what order he did it. but as it turns out, this becomes the seeds of what is the defense. >> now the war is over. >> is it? >> i promise you those people will not harass my family or me again. >> do you feel like you should go to jail for this? >> no. because i have pleaded and
10:22 pm
begged and i have asked for help. no. i don't deserve to go to jail for this. those sorry [ bleep ] deserve to go to jail for what they did to me and my family for the last month. making us live like prisoners in our own home. >> well, yeah. >> i'm a soldier. i fought the war. i fought to win, and i won. >> reporter: when we come back, billy woodward now looking more like a salesman than a soldier, but he's still fighting. fighting to find a way out of jail. and how about the look on his face in that mug shot? what does he know that we don't? is there something on that surveillance tape that could set him free? >> war had been declared upon my house and family, do you not understand that, sir? >> reporter: stay with us. ♪ oh, come on, come on, come on let me tell you what it's all about ♪ ♪ a-b-c, it's easy as 1-2-3
10:23 pm
♪ as simple as do-re-mi, a-b-c ♪ b-c, it's easy, it's like counting up to 3 ♪ ♪ sing a simple melody ♪ that's how easy love can be ♪ 1-2-3, baby you and me it's easy to get it all at target. ♪ get up girl, show me what you can do. ♪ a new sea chance to tryew look. something different. this summer, challenge your preconceptions and experience a cadillac for yourself. ♪ the 2015 cadillac srx. lease this from around $339 per month, or purchase with 0% apr financing. it's an olive garden first, but it won't last long! create your own tour of italy, starting at $12.99.
10:24 pm
choose three of our nine most-loved dishes to enjoy on one plate, served with salad and breadsticks. hurry in to create your tour at olive garden! hurry in to create your tour sexy and chaotic!lashes? new colossal chaotic lash mascara from maybelline new york. sweep up for colossal volume. sweep our teaser tip across to unleash the chaotic look. a perfectly sexy mess. new colossal chaotic lash ♪ maybe it's maybelline when pharmacists are in pain the medicine in advil is their #1 choice for pain relief. more than the medicines in tylenol or aleve. use the medicine that pharmacists use most for themselves. relief doesn't get any better than this. advil. make sure the second hug feels. just as good. huggies gentle absorb liner draws more runny mess away than pampers swaddlers. woman: i'll take care of you, i promise. ♪ when i went on to ancestry, i just put in the name yes, we are twins.
10:25 pm
of my parents and my grandparents. i was getting all these leaves and i was going back generation after generation. you start to see documents and you see signatures of people that you've never met. i mean, you don't know these people, but you feel like you do. you get connected to them. i wish that i could get into a time machine and go back 100 years, 200 years and just meet these people. being on ancestry just made me feel like i belonged somewhere. discover your story. start searching for free now at ancestry.com. ♪ i ride the highway... son begins to play) ♪ i'm going my way... ♪i leave a story untold... he just keeps sending more pictures...
10:26 pm
if you're a free-range chicken, you roam free. it's what you do. if you want to save fifteen percent or more on car insurance, you switch to geico. it's what you do. ♪ two wheels a turnin'...
10:27 pm
"20/20"'s the war next door continues. once again, debra roberts. >> reporter: the feuding neighbors on smith drive in titusville complained they couldn't get anyone's attention. >> surveillance video shows -- >> reporter: well, they got it now. >> -- a neighborhood shootout. >> reporter: you shoot up the neighborhood, and people notice. >> police say after he fired on all three victims he went back to two of them, looked down at them and shot them again in the head. >> reporter: and before the crime tape comes down, people are arguing about whether billy woodward did the right thing. >> you should be ashamed of yourself. did you ever curse a person yourself? do you deserve to get shot execution-style? >> reporter: two years after the killings, the argument moves from the street to a more formal setting -- the courthouse in viera, florida. and look at billy woodward now, in a suit and tie.
10:28 pm
a far cry from the distraught man with his head in his hands in that police interrogation room charged with murder and attempted murder. but in an audacious legal maneuver, woodward and his defense team turn the tables on the state's attorney, claiming woodward is immune from prosecution under florida's stand your ground law. how does stand your ground work exactly? >> in a stand your ground state, i don't have to retreat. i can stand my ground, i can stand right there, and respond to your deadly force with my own deadly force. >> reporter: attorney mark o'mara is not on this case, but famously got george zimmerman acquitted in the trayvon martin killing. is stand your ground just sort of a blanket defense that's being used in getting people off left and right? >> it's really not, no. stand your ground has gotten sort of a very bad connotation since the zimmerman case. but it's not used very often. >> reporter: maybe not, but when it is used, it can cause quite a stir. one of the most stunning stand
10:29 pm
your ground defenses happened in texas. >> a shot in the dark by a neighbor who claimed his life was in danger too. >> reporter: the case of raul rodriguez. like woodward, a killing caught on camera. he went to his neighbor's house to complain about loud karaoke music at a little girl's birthday party. >> don't come any closer, please. i'm telling you, i'm telling you to stop. i said stop right now or i will shoot you. stop. get back. and i was, no, no, no, no, stop, stop, stop. i'm in fear for my life. get away from me. get away from me. >> reporter: saying he was attacked, rodriguez shot and killed the birthday girl's father. he went to prison for murder, but his conviction was recently overturned and he's been set free, pending a new trial. back in florida, billy woodward, half-smiling for his mug shot, is hoping to spring himself from jail too. in this courtroom, a special stand your ground immunity hearing. no jury, just a judge.
10:30 pm
billy and his attorneys must prove that in the same circumstances, a reasonable person like you or me would have done what he did. >> we have to prove that his fear was reasonable by a preponderance of the evidence, that is the law. >> what he's asking the court to do is to say, i may have been mistaken about what i believed was about to happen. and, yes, based on that mistake, i killed two people but you know what? never mind. i shouldn't be held accountable for that. >> reporter: but woodward's defense team arguing since stand your ground takes away the duty to retreat, it means you can attack. >> and you are allowed to continue that use of deadly force until the threat is totally eradicated.
10:31 pm
and that is what mr. woodward did. >> reporter: in a way it's like the two dead men, gary hembree and roger picior, along with the sole shooting survivor, tim blake and wife keri, are on trial. that's keri on the stand. >> did you understand that if you make threats that people might take you seriously? >> at this point, nobody was taken seriously. >> this was just a big joke to you all? >> reporter: the defense plays the surveillance video from episodes in the weeks before the shootings, highlighting vile taunts and threats against billy woodward and his family, even his 12-year-old daughter. >> kim had initially said that she was going to have ava, billy's daughter, raped, and i made a comment as well, something about yeah, and we're going to pay him to do it or something, 'cause i was in the heat of the moment, hot-headed. >> reporter: you've got daughters. >> i do. >> reporter: you can't take it lightly for somebody to say that
10:32 pm
they're going to have your daughter raped. >> no. but he had also come outside numerous times and told everyone he was going to kill them, he was going to come in our houses when we were sleeping and take all of us out including our dogs. >> reporter: billy said this to you all? >> billy said this to us, yes. >> reporter: gary hembree's girlfriend, kim sillsbury, is named as one of the ringleaders in harassing the woodwards. but she denies some of the allegations. did you threaten to burn down his house? >> no. >> reporter: did you threaten to do anything to them? >> not that i remember, no. >> reporter: did you ever threaten to get somebody to rape his daughter? >> that's ridiculous. i have children. i had never gone out of my way to be violent to that man. and anything that i did say, or could have said, or may have said -- that i remember or don't remember -- i never would have hurt anybody's child. ever.
10:33 pm
>> reporter: woodward says that you all threatened him. >> words that are coming out of my mouth, they're not going to kill somebody. nobody has the right to take someone else's life. nobody has that right. >> reporter: mark o'mara says the immunity hearing could backfire. >> tomorrow we expect to hear from the defendant who is accused of killing his neighbors. >> reporter: still ahead, woodward takes the stand, delivering powerful testimony. >> i'm trappedlike a rat. >> reporter: and stunning claims that he believed the neighbors were armed with more than sharp tongues that night. a baseball bat, gunshots and a firebomb. are innocent victims? stay with us.
10:34 pm
th 10 gigs of data to share for 100 bucks? 100 dollars? really? yup, that's way less than verizon or at&t and more than double the high-speed data of t-mobile. but, we're locked in our contract. not anymore. sprint will pay off your old phone and contract so you can switch. goodbye at&t! everybody's switching to the best family plan from sprint. get 4 lines with unlimited talk, text and 10 gigs of high-speed data to share for only $100/mo. and now get your new phone delivered and set up for free with sprint direct 2 you. trouble hearing on the phone, visit sprintrelay.com are those made with all-beef, karen? yeah, they're hebrew national. but unlike yours, they're also kosher. only certain cuts of kosher beef meet their strict standards. they're all ruined. help yourself! oh no, we couldn...okay thanks, hebrew national. a hot dog you can trust.
10:35 pm
outperforms the #1 non-drowsy allergy pill. most allergy pills only control one inflammatory substance, flonase controls six. so you are greater than your allergies. flonase. six is greater than one. this changes everything. the more gaps you may find.ur insurance, like how you think you have coverage for this... when you only have coverage for this... that's not homework!! talk to farmers and see what gaps could be hiding in your coverage. ♪ we are farmers bum - pa - dum. bum - bum - bum - bum ♪ ♪ it's just a summer thing double it up this summer with a hot deal from mcdonald's. the $2.50 double combo, a mouth-watering double cheeseburger and small fries for just $2.50. (music)
10:36 pm
happy anniversary to me it's safeway's anniversary... happy anniversary to me but you're the one who's gonna save some serious money. happy anniversary to me right now with your club card usda choice ribeye steak is $7.99 a pound 32-ounce gatorade is 69 cents and select quaker cereal is $1.49 happy anniversary to me. safeway's huge anniversary sale! it's just better. pwhat've we got? 5. bp 64/40
10:37 pm
sterilize sites. multiple foreign objects in the body. tweezers. (buzz!) (buzz!) if you're the guy from the operation game, you get operated on. it's what you do. (buzz!) if you want to save fifteen percent or more on car insurance, you switch to geico. it's what you do. same plan. new phone. or a new plan. and a just in case. add a new line. or three. and unlimited talk and text for unlimited tweens. take a carrier store detour at target, and upgrade to a shiny new everything. all things mobile. all in one place.
10:38 pm
"20/20" continues, with the war next door. here again, debra roberts. >> reporter: they patched up the bullet holes, and swept away the lead. but now the state of florida wants someone to pay for the shooting of three neighbors, and it's turning out to be trickier than expected. you might think billy woodward, the man who shot his neighbors, would be a pariah, an outcast. but his wife barbara says it's quite the opposite. families of the victim see your husband as a villain. how do you see your husband? >> he's not a villain. he saved my life. some people would call that heroic.
10:39 pm
>> reporter: a hero? in the woodwards' old neighborhood on smith drive in titusville, florida, plenty of people seem to agree. there are literal signs of support. hi, i am deborah roberts, with abc news. how are you? larry and marty mauldin live just down the street. why do you have that sign in your yard? >> i support billy. in my opinion, i'd like to see him walk. >> reporter: you'd like to see him be released from jail? >> yes. >> reporter: some people would say, "okay, neighbors have disputes, but you can't go out and shoot each other." >> if he had threatened my family in my house like he did theirs, he he wouldn't have lasted this long, and i would have killed him before this. >> you're sorry anytime someone dies, but these people just made this neighborhood just a holy hell. >> they all ganged up on billy and his wife and his family. >> reporter: scott and lydia crow lived behind billy and barbara woodward. with a front row seat to the
10:40 pm
feud. they take the woodwards' side. was it kind of bullying? >> yes. it was adult bullying is exactly what it was. >> it was six people's word against his. >> reporter: they say they were drawn into the conflict when keri blake threatened them and other neighbors. >> keri took her finger and pointed at our house and pointed at billy's house, like we're going to get you, and we're going to get you, and we're going to get you. >> come on up here and take the witness stand. >> reporter: back at the courthouse, woodward is defending himself during a stand your ground hearing. >> do you swear or affirm the testimony you give in this case is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god? >> yes, your honor. >> reporter: if they can pull off this legal maneuver, he can avoid a trial and be set free. >> they were becoming more hostile, and the threats were becoming more real. >> reporter: his lawyers try to prove that during weeks of taunts and threats, woodward showed restraint. >> there were periods of time when you were actually angry and enraged, is that correct?
10:41 pm
>> yes, sir. >> did you get a gun, walk across the street and shoot somebody? >> no, sir. >> reporter: right after the shootings, billy woodward never mentioned weapons or an imminent threat. but now with everything on the line, his story of what happened the night of the shooting has critical new details. his lawyers produce this facebook photo of neighbor roger picior -- one of the men billy killed -- holding a rifle. they cue up that surveillance video. at about 10:22 you can hear some sounds of that rowdy barceque across the street. at 10:41 you can hear the neighbors taunting and cursing at him. >> queer ass army reject bitch. >> reporter: at 10:54, billy says he hears shots. >> i distinctly heard from my house, with my window cracked, four cracks of a .22 automatic firearm, unmistakable cracks of
10:42 pm
a .22 automatic rifle, or a pistol. and i heard, "bang, bang, bang!" >> reporter: listen again -- sound like gunfire to you, or just firecrackers? >> that is a .22 automatic. >> reporter: at 11:05 billy says the neighbors are talking about a gun. >> the girl said, "they've got a gun. oh, my, god," so then i said, "they've got a gun." >> at that point in time, what's going through your head? >> death for me and my family, and that now they're serious. >> why didn't you call 911? >> they don't come. the last time i called the cops it took them 10 minutes to get there, and left me hanging down the road with my dog, out and exposed, with nothing to protect me. >> reporter: at 12:02, just after midnight, billy says he sees his neighbors set something
10:43 pm
on fire -- and that's when he gets his gun. >> what about that caused you to arm yourself? >> because i didn't know if that was a molotov cocktail fixing to come to through and into my house. >> this is the key to the defense. he says he hears gunshots, he thinks he sees a molotov cocktail created. he's now in imminent fear for himself and the safety of his family. that's the makings of a classic stand your ground defense. >> if i'm inside my house, i'm trapped like a rat. >> reporter: outside now with his gun and extra ammo, the former soldier says he hears the men planning to come get him. >> it's a gathering of the forces that caused me to snap into action and do what i did. >> is that where you were at that point in time? were you in war? >> you doggone right i was! war had been declared upon my house and family, and myself. now i'm the only living link
10:44 pm
between my wife and children and imminent death. do you not understand that, sir? >> reporter: you're convinced, barbara, that it was your life or their life? >> yes. i believe him. i believe in him and i believe what he saw and heard that night gave him no other choice. >> reporter: the survivors deny the claims. >> nobody planned to get billy, no. >> reporter: as for the gun, nothing more than a toy. and none of the victims were armed. in fact police say none of the victims were armed, something woodward acknowledges in his first recorded interview with
10:45 pm
police. >> was he armed? >> he was unarmed, sir. >> reporter: but at the hearing, woodward now says he thought the neighbors did have weapons. he says roger had an aluminum baseball bat in his hands. >> you're going to hear that baseball bat fall to the ground as i shoot him. >> reporter: his lawyers play surveillance video. listen to the sound just after the second gunshot. they say that is the sound of an aluminum bat hitting the pavement. but police did not find a bat at the scene. >> the scene was cleaned up. the gun was gone, the bat was gone, the pipe was gone. the scene was cleaned up, and that's why everybody thinks they were unarmed. they were not unarmed. >> reporter: woodward says he thought gary hembree was pointing a gun at him. that only after the killing did he realize what was really in his hand. >> did you learn at that point what was in his hand?
10:46 pm
>> after the fact, a coffee mug, sir. >> reporter: a coffee mug. then, under cross examination -- >> this was a military operation as far as you were concerned, correct? >> reporter: the strangest moment. the talkative woodward suddenly at a loss for words. >> mr. woodward? mr. woodward? >> one moment, please. >> reporter: when he does respond, it doesn't get much better. >> you told the officer that you were back on the battlefield. >> yes, sir. i was trained. >> how much time did you personally spend in infantry combat on the battlefield? >> infantry combat? >> yes, sir. >> zero. >> zero? >> all i did was pull guard duty, sir. >> reporter: after a week of testimony, judge james earp must now decide whether woodward goes to trial -- or goes free. >> in a case like this, an analysis seems to suggest that this immunity hearing was not going to be granted because
10:47 pm
there was no good argument that the threat was imminent that he was responding to. >> reporter: just hours later, judge earp is back on the bench, ready to rule. >> if you'd like to get up and leave after you know what the ruling is, you're welcome to do that, of course. >> reporter: when we come back, the ruling that will decide whether billy woodward was standing his ground on the neighbors' lawn. stay with us. but mom and dad know that they're feeding them the complete nutrition of natural balance®. now available at petsmart! we're always looking to bring you the very best in pet nutrition. with natural balance®, part of our family of natural foods, you can give your pets premium quality ingredients. introducing natural balance® at petsmart. save up to 10% on dry and wet food! fill your pet with love. petsmart®. inspired by pets. >>mine hurt more.. >>mine stopped hurting faster!
10:48 pm
neosporin plus pain relief starts relieving pain faster and kills more types of infectious bacteria neosporin plus pain relief kills the germs. fights the pain. use with band-aid brand. aa chance to try somethinglook. different. this summer, challenge your preconceptions and experience a cadillac for yourself. take advantage of our summer offers. get this low mileage lease on select ats models, in stock the longest, for around 269 per month. to the dodge ball bruisers, to the team rally cruisers, to the touchdown dancers, and the long distance chancers,
10:49 pm
♪ yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah be yourself. kohl's
10:50 pm
we get 24/7k this out. professional monitoringme and video monitoring we can watch on our own tv. that's way better than our old security system. [metal clanking] [chip crunching] [baby crying] don't be old fashioned.
10:51 pm
xfinity customers, add xfinity home for $29.95 a month for 12 months. plus get a free security camera. call 1-800 xfinity or go online today. "20/20" continues with the war next door. once again, debra roberts. >> reporter: judge james earp returns to the bench in the viera, florida, courthouse,
10:52 pm
ready to rule on whether billy woodward was some kind of neighborhood hero, standing his ground, saving his family, or whether he's just another accused killer with a grudge and a gun. turns out woodward is about to have another very bad day. >> this is an order denying his claim of immunity pursuant to florida statute 776.032. >> a judge rejected a titusville veteran's claim that he shot his neighbors in self-defense. >> he called william woodward the aggressor in this case. >> the judge is essentially saying that he doesn't buy the defense. that it was reasonable to believe that there was an imminent threat to him or his family. and in fact the judge is saying he thinks it was a preemptive strike. >> this defendant did not exercise self-defense. this defendant did not stand his ground. >> and that means william woodward now faces trial for murder and attempted murder.
10:53 pm
>> reporter: do you have a guess about the chances for acquittal in this case? >> if i were to guess, it was too rational, too planned out. >> some neighbors have feuds. some neighbors build fences. but your husband shot his dead. could your husband have done something different? >> he could have waited for them to come across the street and shoot him and then we would all be dead. >> reporter: this is a difficult question, but did these men deserve to die? >> i don't know. i can't answer that. >> reporter: do you think he deserves to be punished? >> how can you punish someone for saving the lives of their family?
10:54 pm
>> reporter: billy woodward is back in the county jail. >> not for long. >> reporter: you're convinced that he's going to prevail? >> oh yes, ma'am, i'm convinced he's coming home. absolutely. >> that man needs to be behind bars. there is something wrong with him. >> reporter: he could face the death penalty. >> i'm okay with that. >> reporter: he's facing possibly the death penalty. should he be put to death? >> good. yes, i think he should, i think he should die. >> reporter: but jeanie huppert, the mom of gary hembree, shot with a coffee cup in his hand, doesn't want anyone else to die. >> no, not to death, no. i don't want his mother to go through this. i don't want his kids to ever go through this. it's not going to bring gary back. >> reporter: nearly three years since that nightmare on smith street, one final heartbreaking twist. if billy woodward had held his fire just a few more days, his neighborhood feud would've ended on its own. gary hembree was planning to move, and the woodwards were
10:55 pm
just days away from packing up too, ready to close on a new house. woodward even mentions it to detectives. >> had you ever thought about killing them before tonight? >> no. you know why? 'cause we just signed on a brand-new house. we're going to a new neighborhood. >> it was like if this had just lasted another 30 days, everybody would have gone their way and they would all live peacefully, you know, the rest of their lives. but it didn't happen that way. >> reporter: you would have been out of this neighborhood. >> in days. and that's all we wanted was to go somewhere where we could live in peace and quiet. >> reporter: how is life now? you moved, you are no longer in that neighborhood. >> we are doing okay. we love our new neighbors, we love our neighborhood. the kids have lots of friends to play with. >> reporter: no arguments with your neighbors? >> no. >> reporter: zero point zero. >> my son still misses this house, 'cause it's all he knew. and this is the house where daddy lived with us. >> reporter: i see a sign here that says, "we support billy woodward."
10:56 pm
so some of your neighbors, or former neighbors, are still standing behind you. >> yes. >> reporter: despite the judge's ruling, billy woodward is still innocent until proven guilty. a jury will have to decide whether he committed murder or something else. but there's no question that he did terrible harm to many families, including his own. how are your children understanding, or do they understand what went on? >> my daughter does. she understands. my son just wants his dad to come home. all he knew was, he woke up and dad was gone. he doesn't understand why these people would keep his daddy from him. >> reporter: billy woodward faces another hearing next week and his murder trial may come up late this year. so now, you wait. >> now, we wait. >> reporter: and see what a jury will decide. >> so our question tonight, if
10:57 pm
you were on that jury, what would you decide? >> and, how bad have things gotten between you and your everyday, millions of amazing photos and videos are shot with iphone. ♪ that's because the iphone makes it easy for everyone to shoot amazing photos and video. ♪ if it's not an iphone, it's not an iphone. ♪
10:58 pm
tlike chicken blanketed in golden breadcrumbs and wholesome sides with her signature touches. all topped with thick, homemade gravy. because dinner shouldn't take all day... just taste like it did. marie callender's. it's time to savor ♪ a-b-c, it's easy as 1-2-3 ♪ as simple as do-re-mi ♪ a-b-c, 1-2-3 baby you and me ♪ 1-2-3 baby you and me, yeah it's easy to get it all, big and small at target.com ♪ i'm gonna teach you how to sing it out ♪ ♪ come on, come on, come on, come let me tell you what it's all about. ♪
10:59 pm
[ male announcer ] only true match has l'oreal's technology to match your skin's unique tone and undertone. 100% guaranteed. my skin. my story. my true match. [ male announcer ] from l'oreal. my skin. my story. my true match. steak and unlimited shrimp is back! for just $15.99! for a limited time... try unlimited garlic herb butter... or crispy shrimp for just $15.99 and let the bold flavors... speak for themselves with unlimited shrimp at outback that's our program for tonight. thanks for watching. i'm david muir. >> and i'm elizabeth vargas. have a great night, and a good weekend.
11:00 pm
one of the key members of the 4019ers is fired. >> the able to

56 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on