tv 2020 ABC July 1, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT
it's closing time for "what would you do" in portland. for us, time to come down from our coffee and doughnut high in this unforgettable city. for you, time to get ready for "20/20" which starts right now. road rage, the national epidemic. this fourth of july, driving could be crazy out of the highways highways. but there's never been case as shocking as this. >> a car came up behind us. >> the las vegas mother of four, supposedly hunted down, gunned down. >> all because of road rage. >> her family, destroyed by grief. >> that was my wife! >> but was the first story in the headlines the whole story?
>> so much of this story has changed. >> tonight, "20/20" returns to where it all began, and ended. >> did you think there would be a shootout? >> no. >> we're putting all the pieces together. an entire family, witnesses. opening up on camera. >> did you and your mom go out looking for trouble? >> the victim, painted as a villain? >> there's the animal! are you happy? >> the suspect, no stranger. he's their neighbor. and one of his best friends, and cra cracked the case, talking only to "20/20." >> if this were a movie, it would almost be too unrealistic. a dangerous intersection.
>> good evening. i'm elizabeth vargas. david is away tonight. 43 million people traveling this weekend, most of them in cars. that may translate into a lot of road rage. but in a case that has just taken a dramatic "u"-turn in court, all it took was a single honk of a horn to turn a regular thursday night into a national nightmare. here's debra roberts. >> reporter: it's a cool thursday night in america's favorite adult playground, las vegas -- and the strip is already jumping. but across town, near another playground, in a part of vegas where people actually live, a local mom is about to set tonight's mystery in gear. >> she pulls in and she smiles, and she's like, "i don't need you crashing the car." >> reporter: 44-year-old tammy meyers is giving her 15-year old daughter, kristal, her first driving lesson -- at 10:00 at night? why would you go for a driving lesson at night?
>> i wanted to go at night 'cause i mean, there's no cars around that you could possibly hit. >> reporter: why'd you pick that area? >> it's close to home. >> reporter: so tammy steers her 1993 buick from the family home on mt. shasta circle to this empty parking lot at a nearby junior high school. >> it's a parking lot that's just wide open. >> reporter: tammy and husband bob have raised four kids in this neighborhood. teaching them all to drive right here. so you didn't think anything about the fact that they were going driving late at night? >> you know, we live in las vegas. we're a 24-hour town. >> reporter: that night bob is 300 miles away on business in kernville, california. a traveling vendor, selling hats and t-shirts at local fairs and sporting events. son robert jr. is with him. the others back in vegas -- the eldest, brandon, at home. >> everything was good. everybody was happy. >> reporter: here's how kristal says it all played out. back in that parking lot, she takes the wheel -- delicately maneuvering the car. delighting in every turn. >> i was just like, okay, i'm
getting the hang of this. >> reporter: then, the lesson moves from the parking lot to the neighborhood's main streets. >> we finally stopped, she pulled over and we switched seats. >> reporter: tammy now takes the wheel. kristal says her mom is teaching her how to change lanes. she's going at a snail's pace, when suddenly an impatient driver appears in the rear view. >> it was a silver car. i just noticed that he was riding, like riding our bumper, and then he swerves around us and i honk the horn. >> reporter: that honk of the horn, something we've all done, would change everything. >> reporter: so then, you pull up here -- >> and she turns right and right about here -- >> reporter: when kristal says that silver car suddenly sideswipes them -- >> and we had to stop really hard. >> reporter: who was this guy? do you know? >> no. i didn't recognize him. >> reporter: were you scared? >> yeah, i was, i was really scared, and he gets out the car. >> reporter: it's okay. take your time. >> and he says, i'm gonna kill you and your daughter.
>> reporter: he says, i'm gonna kill you and your daughter? >> yeah. >> reporter: in a panic, krystal says they flee the scene, but what happens next is a puzzle we piece together tonight. everyone agrees that sometime after 11:00 two cars barrel down mt. shasta circle to the end of the cul-de-sac where the meyers live. that old buick driven by tammy, and a four-door silver sedan driven by a mystery man, in hot pursuit with a gun. you heard the shots? >> yeah, i was looking and i heard the shots. >> reporter: did you know she had been hit? >> yeah. i was screaming. i said, mom's been shot. mom's been shot. >> reporter: brandon, her eldest son, remembers running to his mother's side, as that silver sedan flees the scene. >> i was just screaming at her, mom, please stay here. stay here! >> brandon was telling her to stay awake, because she was closing her eyes. >> reporter: she's hit in the head. a frantic brandon dials 911, and at 11:34 tammy's rushed to a nearby hospital. at the scene of the shooting, leads and evidence are scarce.
did you have any idea who had shot your mom? >> no. i was completely in the blank. all i saw was the gunfire. >> reporter: back in california, bob meyers get fragments of the story over the phone from a distraught kristal. >> and she said, dad, i saw it. there's blood everywhere. all over mom's head and face. >> reporter: he drops everything and begins driving home. >> and what's happening in your chest at this moment? >> i'm like, what's going on here? >> how fast are you driving? >> hundred miles an hour. >> reporter: every thought, saturated with concern, for his wife of 25 years, the family matriarch who'd earned the nickname "mama bear." >> didn't have a mean bone in her body. >> reporter: it's not until the early morning hours of february 13th, when bob, still on the road, gets a call from police. >> he says, mr. meyers, it started off as road rage. they followed your wife home and shot your wife. >> reporter: frantic, he wants to know more and begins calling tv stations -- asking for updates.
and granting interviews. >> i'm speechless. i've been with this woman 25 years. >> reporter: he is now the vocal spokesperson for the meyers family. local reporter jacqui heinrich found it peculiar. >> he called our station when he was driving back from california and says, hey, i'm angry about this. how could someone do this? >> i didn't want to freeze out the media. and here's why i didn't. you can't find killers without the media's help. >> reporter: by daybreak, bob finally arrives at the hospital and sees his wife's lifeless body. >> i get to the room. i see my wife. and i said, oh, this is gonna be okay. >> reporter: but his optimism is quickly dashed. >> the main doctor said, sir, i hate to be the one to have to tell you this bad news, but your wife's not going to make it. i told my wife, no matter what it takes i'll find out who did
this to you. >> reporter: later that morning -- >> i'm right here. you know what you did last night, you come here. >> reporter: an angry bob meyers stands before the cameras, saying there were as many as three killers in that silver car. >> three guys wanted to plow into a mother of four and follow her home and kill her. >> reporter: by the end of the day's news cycle, here is the official narrative. >> police say three suspects in a small silver car nearly collided with her green buick. >> reporter: as the buick becomes a makeshift memorial, tammy meyers appears to be yet another victim in an endless string of road rage incidents. los angeles, homestead, florida, randleman, north carolina. and most recently, this scene in houston, texas. an argument ending with a thrown drink, prompting a fender stomp, which sparks an all-out melee in the middle of traffic. but this one is unlike any other. a mom, cut down in her own driveway.
>> road rage mystery in las vegas. a mother shot after teaching her daughter to drive. >> reporter: but despite all the attention, no arrests. the next day, february 14th, a heartbreaking valentines day. vegas police release this security video of the silver sedan, cruising the neighborhood around the time of the shooting -- and with it, this composite sketch. >> police say this is the face of one of the suspects. >> reporter: police say it's kristal's description of one of the strangers in the car that sideswiped her and her mom, threatening to kill them. he's a big guy, six feet tall weighing about 180 pounds. >> as far as we can tell, there was no prior contact with these individuals. they are complete strangers. >> there's a manhunt for this unknown guy, instilling fear in everyone across the valley. everyone's like, could this happen to me? >> neighbors are too afraid to show their faces with that suspect still out there. >> reporter: that night, an agonizing moment for bob meyers. at 7:05 p.m., he disconnects his
beloved wife from an artificial respirator. >> i'll always have a wife, she'll never leave my heart, but she's gone. i didn't want my baby to suffer. but i didn't want her to go either. you don't want to have to say it's okay to turn off the switch to let your wife go. >> reporter: but you had to it. >> had to. >> reporter: but before tammy meyers can have a funeral, she's about to be buried. >> it was like they were murdering her all over again -- repeatedly, daily. >> tammy meyers went looking for the driver. >> reporter: as the story takes the first of what will be many sharp turns. was the innocent victim really all that innocent? >> maybe this isn't what i thought it was at the beginning. >> reporter: and - a young woman with inside knowledge about that night. but to break the case, she must find the courage to turn in a friend. you called the police. what did you say?
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allyson: chloe! allyson: chloe! bounty is faster and 2x more absorbent than the leading... ...ordinary brand, and faster than chloe too. allyson: come on chloe! bounty the quicker picker upper >> reporter: three days after removing his wife from life support -- >> dear god, protect them for what's to come. >> reporter: -- bob meyers holds
a candlelight vigil. >> this is a testament to a good person and a community that needs good people. >> reporter: but now there are as many whispers about shooting victim tammy meyers as there are prayers for her. >> i want to keep the facts as they are because it's starting to get twisted. >> reporter: just hours earlier, police announce a stunning discovery, one that paints a much different picture of the las vegas mom. >> the reason i wanted everyone here was just to clarify some things. >> reporter: a big piece of the meyers account has been missing. turns out between that alleged road rage incident and the shootout, tammy returned home with no one in pursuit, dropped off her daughter, and instead of dialing 911, picked up her son, who's armed with a gun, and went back on the road. >> she tells her 15-year-old daughter to wake up her son who was in bed, and have him come outside and get in the car so they can find who frightened
them while they were on the roadway. >> she got her 22-year-old son to get his weapon. i mean, people start to wonder, should i be feeling bad for her? >> reporter: local reporter jacqui heinrich says that surprising and late disclosure changed the whole tone of the story. >> when the police held a press conference and said, "actually, tammy meyers went back out," then they started to think, "maybe this isn't what i thought it was at the beginning." >> reporter: suddenly the family is feeling the burn of online hate with comments like this -- "am i the only one who's glad she got shot?" on social media, people began to really turn on your wife and son. >> well, it bothered me. because my wife wasn't a troublemaker. >> reporter: bob is suddenly doing damage control, insisting that this is not a vigil for a vigilante. >> my son is not an animal. my son is a hero in my book. >> reporter: so what's brandon's story? he says his mother was convinced that road rager was headed to the house to make good on his death threat. >> she said, "someone is trying to kill us. we need to go now."
i'm like, "let's call 911." >> reporter: you said, "let's call 911"? >> yeah, and she goes, "we need to get away from the house. they're trying to hurt us." so i grabbed my gun. >> reporter: brandon's gun -- a registered beretta 9-millimeter pistol. why'd you grab the gun? >> just safety precautions. someone's trying to hurt my family. i'm going to come protect them. >> reporter: brandon takes me on a drive to relive that night with his frightened mom behind the wheel. >> she's just, like, pale. her mouth was open. she was terrified. >> reporter: he points out the spot where he says his mom and sister were sideswiped by that angry driver. >> it happened right here. >> reporter: right here? do you see any cars? >> no, nothing. >> reporter: so, he says, they call it a night and head home. still no cars. nobody's coming near you? >> no one's near us. completely -- it's a ghost town. >> reporter: but then, just as they make a right turn by the junior high school, he says they spot a silver car. >> boom. they were right here in front of us. >> reporter: she saw the silver car right here? >> it was literally right here in front of us.
>> reporter: things would escalate, leading to the shootout in the cul-de-sac, with both brandon and that mystery shooter exchanging more than 20 rounds. but the exact how and who of the incident still puzzles police. that is, until this woman picks up a phone and drops a dime. you called the police. >> i felt that i had to. >> reporter: were you conflicted? >> absolutely. i still am, even sitting here. >> reporter: nearly a week after the shoot out, investigators interview this woman, khatelyn kristian. tonight, she's exclusively sharing her story about the evening tammy died. >> it was about 3:00 in the morning. i was sleeping, and my phone was going off the wall. >> reporter: she says it's her good friend, 19-year-old eric nowsch, a wannabe rapper and pot dealer seen here in his instagram photos. >> it was, "i need to come over, something important." >> reporter: how did he sound? >> disheveled. you know, shooken up. >> reporter: khatelyn says nowsch comes over to her apartment, confessing to a shooting in his neighborhood. >> and the first words out of
his mouth is, "i got them." >> reporter: telling her he may have shot a rival drug dealer. and then he showed you something. what did he show you? >> well, he had emptied his backpack. his gun and extra clips -- >> reporter: extra clips? >> for the gun. >> reporter: nowsch leaves. then days later, it hits khatelyn her friend may have been involved in tammy meyers' shooting. you read the details, that there's a mom of four who's shot and killed. what goes through you at that moment? >> how could this happen? and i didn't even finish the article before i got up and called. >> reporter: called -- >> the police. >> reporter: she makes a wrenching decision to turn in her trusting friend. and how did you feel after the conversation, once you told them what you knew? >> terrible, but there's always a right and a wrong. >> reporter: the next day, s.w.a.t. teams, squad cars surround erich nowsch's home. he's holed up inside. our las vegas affiliate ktnv is live on the scene.
>> right now, we are in the tactical phase of attempting to take a suspect into custody. >> reporter: khatelyn says she's texting erich nonstop. so you were trying to convince him to surrender? >> right. >> still a very confusing scene here as everybody is arriving here on scene. >> reporter: one of those arriving is the suspects mother, who's in obvious distress. >> guys, please, get back. >> please! turn your [ bleep ] phone off. >> reporter: but as the standoff drags into its second hour, questions in this already complex case are multiplying. for one thing, erich doesn't even drive, and he bears little resemblance to kristal meyer's description of the shooter. >> i mean, he's really small. he's nowhere near six foot. >> reporter: and just as bizarre, the location of his house -- just a block away from the meyers' residence on mt. shasta circle. we go through the play-by-play on this map with abc legal analyst dan abrams. the irony being that the suspect is right around the corner from this family. >> they're out looking for some
composite sketch of some guy in a road rage incident. and little do they know that it's a block away. >> you can literally see his home from my front door. >> reporter: and you walked over to his home really angry. >> pajamas and all. you were yelling. >> i was upset. >> reporter: bob meyers is devastated, the police stopping him from getting any closer. and in that moment, his understandable grief turns to unforgiving anger. >> are you all happy? you made my wife look like an animal, and my son! there's the animal! a block away. are you happy? my wife was a victim. she lost her life. and it was like they were murdering her all over again -- repeatedly, daily. >> reporter: finally, a shirtless nowsch surrenders. >> the suspect has been taken into custody, suspect is en
route to headquarters to be interviewed. >> reporter: yes, police have questions, but nobody is prepared for the shocking answers. >> your story's not right. my name's getting thrown into [ bleep ]. >> reporter: nowsch is about to spin a whole new version of the story. >> i freaked out. i was just like, there's no way. >> reporter: stay with us.
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>> a teenager in custody. >> his name is erich nowsch. >> we know the suspect is here at metro headquarters. >> reporter: while the media churns the news of eric nowsch's arrest, the 19-year-old suspect himself is alone with his thoughts, slumped across an interrogation table, while others are thinking, just who is this kid? >> his instagram account is full of photos of what appear to be drugs. >> reporter: by all accounts, nowsch is a wannabe gangsta rapper and low-level drug dealer known on the streets as baby g. the kind of guy who ends up either famous, or in jail, or in this case, both. >> you got your water. all good? >> mm-hmm.
>> reporter: but his close friend khatelyn kriztian sees him more as a lost child, whose father committed suicide in 2010 and is now living with his mother and a baby sister. >> eric is a good person. eric has a huge heart. >> reporter: nowsch may be in need of a father figure, and detective clifford mogg is happy to oblige, kicking off the interview with a laid-back miranda warning. >> i just need to advise you of your rights, and then i want to talk about you. you have the right to remain silent. >> reporter: after some friendly talk -- >> so, tell me about erich. >> reporter: the cuffs come off, trust-building. and very slowly, detective mogg starts pulling the string. >> in your mind, what's this all about? tell me. >> well, you guys think that i did something. >> reporter: nowsch says he's no killer, just a pot head who likes to light up at ansan park. curiously, the park just across the street from the junior high school where tammy meyers was giving that driving lesson. >> the park has always been my number one spot. >> reporter: but nowsch says, on
the night of tammy's murder, he was hanging out at this guy's house. ♪ a local rapper named young krane. >> i went over there sometime in the afternoon and i was there until the next morning. >> reporter: then, talk of weapons. >> have you ever been in possession of any handguns? real guns. >> yeah, but i got rid of it. >> when? >> probably about like a month ago. >> so describe the gun. >> it was like this big. and it was black and it was silver. >> reporter: much-needed protection, nowsch says, because rival drug dealers had been threatening him and his family. >> kids threatening your family? or other people threatening your family? >> yes. >> reporter: an hour later detectives finally reveal their hand, letting nowsch know they've already blown up his alibi, because his best friend khatelyn has told them everything. >> she really likes you. she said you were like a little brother to her. >> reporter: where he'd been, what he'd done, and the gun he did it with.
>> i knew about that gun that you were talking about way before you ever told me. >> this is crazy, dude. >> it is. everybody's trying to see you do the right thing. but everybody realizes that you made a bad mistake that night, okay? and the fact you sought out khatie to talk to that night, that lets me know that this was really bothering you. >> reporter: cornered, nowsch can no longer carry the weight on his slender shoulders. >> come here erich. look, son, tell me what happened. okay? you gotta get this off your mind. >> i didn't mean to hit no mama though, or no bros. nobody's mom -- >> so tell me what happened, tell me from the beginning, erich. >> reporter: now get ready for nowsch's story, which begins just after 10:00. that night he's in the park, armed and paranoid over the threats he'd been receiving when he notices tammy's buick circling slowly in the school parking lot. >> every direction i went, she was just following. everywhere i went, that car was
there. >> reporter: he says he was sure it was someone stalking him, so he hides and calls a friend to pick him up so he can get away. >> it was a smooth 30, 45 minutes before i even got in a car. until i knew this car was out of sight. >> reporter: the friend arrives in a silver audi sedan. nowsch thinks he's escaped his enemies, but almost instantly crosses paths with that buick once again. >> and they just came out of nowhere. they were following us, and they didn't even turn. >> reporter: he tells police something that surprises them, that someone in the other car was brandishing a gun at him. >> so far we have you telling us that these people were waving a gun out the window. >> yeah. >> listen to me. >> i am listening, man. >> nobody but you has said that. >> reporter: and he reveals something else that thus far has gone unreported, he fires shots at tammy's car even before the fatal shooting. >> and i just cocked it back and i started shooting on them. >> reporter: he says the cars
separate, and he starts heading home, but as he turns onto his street, suddenly they are once again face-to-face. and nowsch, now panicking, follows that car into the cul-de-sac. >> i really thought these were the guys who were -- that have been threatening me this whole time. >> when you pulled into the cul-de-sac, what did you see? >> first thing i see him running up to the door. that's all i kept thinking, is they're going to grab more straps. i done let every bullet i had in there. i got scared. >> reporter: after unloading his gun, nowsch flees the scene, thinking he'd protected his family. it's only days later khatelyn says they both realize he's may have just destroyed one. what was his reaction when he realized that it was tammy? >> nauseating remorse. like, he could not understand how it happened. how did it go from, "i was terrified and these are some punk kids looking for me," to the life of a mother? >> reporter: he saves his
biggest surprise for last, telling police meyers is not only of his neighbors, he knows her, has eaten dinner at her table. >> so you know the family. >> i know the whole family, man. >> is there anything you want me to tell the family? >> my intentions were to take someone who was going to harm my family out. not a family's mom. not tammy. >> reporter: the stunning relationship is confirmed for the first time when bob meyers later addresses the press. >> we knew how bad he was but we didn't know he was this bad. >> reporter: meyers claiming his wife had mentored the troubled youth. >> my wife spent countless hours at that park consoling this boy. she was really good to him. she fed him, she gave him money, she told him to pull his pants up. >> reporter: some saw it as odd that you didn't disclose that you knew him to the media at one point. and then later on you did. >> 'cause i didn't know. i never knew -- nowsch's last name. i knew him as erich.
i didn't know it till i saw his picture on television. >> reporter: detectives leave their suspect alone in that room, this time to call his mother, and let her know he won't be coming home. >> mom, i love you. i love you. okay. i've already told them everything. the only reason i confessed, mom, is because they knew everything. >> reporter: but the case is far from closed. nowsch won't give up the driver of the silver sedan, and claims no knowledge of any prior road rage incident. >> the so-called confession has some problems with it. >> reporter: and was there a darker side to the relationship between tammy and her killer? >> mrs. meyers used to come to the park and, like, try to purchase things off of him. >> reporter: stay with us. you did not grow up with a samsung fridge that takes pictures to help you shop. you did not grow up with an lg washer that handles tough and dainty at the same time. and, you definitely didn't grow up with fingerprint-resistant, black stainless steel,
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>> reporter: i mean, he looks the picture of a confused kid right here, don't you think? >> yeah. >> reporter: in court, nowsch is represented by defense team conrad and augstus claus, known around town for their assertive advertising, and now for their assertive defense. >> we are conducting our own investigations and some of those already appear to be bearing fruit. >> reporter: the clauses want that interrogation tape tossed out. >> and i just cocked it back and i started shooting on them. >> reporter: saying nowsch smoked pot right before surrendering to police, and was impaired while making those statements. >> the fact that our client was high and the police knew it compromises the result. >> reporter: but they're not just betting on a technicality. they claim the killing of tammy meyers was justified. >> the facts seem to point to self-defense in this situation. >> do you think erich should go to prison as a murderer? >> no. i don't think erich needs to go away forever.
>> reporter: because, she says, for months eric was facing a barrage of anonymous death threats from what he suspected were rival dealers. the situation serious enough for him to get that .45 caliber pistol. what kind of threats? >> he said they would come through text messages, phone calls, facebook messages, he didn't know who they were, but that they were going to skin him, skin his baby sister alive. take care of his mom as well. >> reporter: you saw the actual text messages? >> absolutely. >> reporter: and as nowsch says repeatedly in his interrogation video, he thought they'd come for him the night of february 12th. >> in his mind it's, "they threatened me. this was them coming at me. this is me protecting myself." >> reporter: and she believes nowsch's claim that he saw someone pointing a gun at him from tammy's car, prompting him to begin shooting. there's no doubt in your mind that he felt that somebody waved a gun at him. that he saw that. >> absolutely. there's no doubt in my mind that he felt absolutely threatened. that, "it was me or it was them." >> reporter: but brandon meyers insists he never revealed his
gun. did you wave your gun? >> no, not at all. >> reporter: but given the meyers family's previous omissions, local reporter jacqui heinrich has trouble believing them. her suspicions turbocharged by rumors among people who knew nowsch and what they claim was the true nature of the relationship between tammy and nowsch. mentor and mentee, or something more sinister? >> mrs. meyers used to come to the park and try to purchase things off of him. >> find out that it has more to do with drugs than mentorship. >> reporter: heinrich points out the investigators found the painkiller oxycodone in tammy's purse. >> we don't know if that is related to their relationship or if that's separate, if that's totally on the up and up. >> reporter: nowsch never mentioned anything of the sort in his interrogation, but the accusations lead to headlines like this -- suggesting the shootout wasn't about aggressive driving at all, but about dirty drug dealing. >> the one thing we can
positively say at this point is that this case is not about road rage. >> reporter: but bob meyers says it was all just the defense trying to muddy the waters. one of many off-the-wall theories his family has had to knock down. did anybody in your family ever buy drugs from him? >> definitely not. >> reporter: some question the fact that your wife had oxycodone in her purse. >> yeah. she had a prescription for it. she had a prescription for three years for it. >> how do you plead to count one, murder with use of a deadly weapon? >> not guilty. >> reporter: on march 12th, 2015, nowsch pleads not guilty to murder charges as police are closing in on another piece of the puzzle. who was driving the car when tammy meyers was shot? nowsch won't say. but cell phone records lead police to his 27-year-old buddy derrick andrews. owner of a silver audi which sure looks a lot like the car in the security video. andrews and nowsch are soon seated side by side once more,
not in the audi, but in a courtroom with matching jumpsuits. >> this was an act of unprovoked use of force on behalf of mr. nowsch with mr. andrews being the driver and complicit in this act. >> reporter: andrews denies any involvement, pleading not guilty. could he be the mysterious man seen here in the sketch? the first alleged road rage incident that started this all? the prosecution finally thinks they have it all figured out. but be forewarned, truth is stranger than fiction. >> it turns out everybody's wrong. >> reporter: don't go away. ♪ whatcha gonna do when you get outta here? ♪ ♪ i'm gonna have some fun! ♪ ♪ what do you consider fun? ♪ ♪ fun, natural fun! ♪ yeah, we rocking right now. ♪ ♪ there's a party over here. ♪ ♪ hey, i'm in heaven. ♪
actually, i came up with it at the water cooler. but i thought you'd like this cowboy story better. the portobello mushroom buttery jack is back. part of the buttery jack family. taste it before it's gone. >> reporter: with arrests made, suspects in custody, and charges brought. finally, the prosecution's story. the version d.a. steven wolfson believes explains what happened the night tammy meyers was killed. >> there's no evidence to support that mrs. meyers was doing anything other than being out with her daughter, giving her daughter some sort of driving lessons. >> reporter: wolfson believes
kristal meyers. yet, what happened next is a series of bizarre, tragic coincidences, the odds of which, even by vegas standards, are incalculable. 10:10 p.m., tammy is offering that driving lesson to her daughter in that school parking lot. by coincidence, erich nowsch is in a park across the street. he's carrying a .45 caliber handgun and the weight of the world on his shoulders after death threats from some rivals. nowsch notices the meyers' vehicle and its slow moving maneuvers and apparently misconstrues that as a threat. he thinks the driver is stalking him. nobody seems to dispute that it all started right here in this junior high school parking lot. >> just out for some driving lessons. >> reporter: after the driving lesson, tammy meyers gets back behind the wheel and begins heading home. 10:56, she sees a silver sedan speed up behind her and pass aggressively.
her impulsive teen daughter makes a fateful decision. kristal reaches over and slams on the horn. >> if that horn hadn't been honked, none of this probably would have happened. >> reporter: it's full-on road rage as the silver car pulls in front of the meyers. kristal says the driver hops out, walks toward her mom's car and says, "i'm gonna kill you and come back for your daughter." >> we'd be very interested to find out who was in that other car. because we don't believe it was mr. nowsch. >> reporter: back at the park, nowsch is being picked up by friend derrick andrews, coincidentally driving a different silver sedan. meantime, tammy myers makes it back home, and instead of dialing 911, drops off her daughter and picks up 22-year-old son brandon, who grabs his pistol. he happens to be a registered handgun owner. >> it was a mistake on her part, in my opinion. but it is what it is. >> reporter: the search begins
as mom and son take off looking for the road rager. moments later, they locate him, or so they think. >> we pulled up. boom, they were right here in front of us. >> reporter: she saw the silver car right here? >> it was literally right here, in front of us. >> reporter: what does she say when you see the car? >> "brandon, that's them. those are the ones that threatened to kill me and your sister." >> reporter: a chance encounter and what would be fatal case of mistaken identity, as tammy has the right color but the wrong car, one occupied by nowsch and andrews. >> it's right here that she thinks she's found the car. and it's at that same moment that nowsch thinks he's being followed by this green car. so now, you have both of them mistakenly paranoid about the other. >> reporter: when nowsch spots the stalking green buick, the same exact one he spotted in the parking lot, he surmises that he's the one about to be attacked. moments later, shots fired.
the first, but not the last time, bullets will fly that night. >> at that point, the evidence says that mr. nowsch raised his weapon in a threatening manner. this is a loud .45 caliber gun, makes a lot of noise, very intimidating. >> she goes, "brandon, what was that?" and i said, "mom, we're getting shot at." at that point she's shaking. >> reporter: he says he fired some shots there, but he didn't hit anybody. >> this should have been the end of it, which is, nowsch has now gotten to threaten the drug dealers who he thinks are behind him. he's fired his weapon. they've learned their lesson. >> reporter: both cars speed off. meyers and nowsch each now heading home, taking parallel streets. but remember, they live only a block apart. and in the final, cruelest twist of fate, find themselves headed for disaster as they turn towards their houses, winding up on the same street. the meyers pull into the cul-de-sac. derrick andrews follows them in. >> and that's when brandon got out of the car.
mrs. meyers got out of the car. >> the minute he follows them into that cul-de-sac, he's now become a threat. >> reporter: what did you think was about to happen at that point? did you think there was gonna be a shootout? >> no, until they started shooting. and everything was like -- like slow motion, like, very slow-paced. it was weird. >> reporter: nowsch empties his .45 and reloads. >> the evidence will show mr. nowsch, in an unprovoked way, for stupid reasons, chose to drive down in a neighborhood that he was familiar with. and he saw two people and opened fire. >> reporter: when the shooting stops, the sedan backs away, and brandon meyers sees his mother on the ground. >> she was laying and bleeding. >> reporter: so just seconds more, and you would've both made it into the house? >> yeah. >> there's no evidence to suggest that brandon or
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>> reporter: a year after the tragedy, the meyers family gathers for the last time on mt. shasta circle. they are packing and moving out of the neighborhood. and away from the specter of tammy, shot down in front of their eyes. >> i catch myself all the time calling her. i'll sit in my chair out in the living room and i'll go, "hey, babe." nothing comes back. >> reporter: the quiet cul-de-sac, once a safe and secure street for the boys' football fun will now be remembered for the woman it could not protect. >> i hate looking at this. i just stare at the ground right there. and i know that she was right there. >> reporter: for a while, it looked as if they might finally get closure. in march, erich nowsch and his
alleged accomplice striking deals. >> is anyone forcing you to plead guilty today? >> no, sir. >> reporter: nowsch pleading guilty to second degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon. but now facing ten years to life in prison. >> reporter: nowsch was in court this morning to ask the judge to withdraw his guilty plea. >> reporter: a month later, nowsch is having second thoughts. saying, "he was never fully consulted about available defenses" and asking the judge to withdraw his guilty plea. >> nowsch confirmation of counsel for the public defender's office. >> reporter: recently, nowsch got new attorneys and next month, a judge will decide whether to throw out nowsch's plea deal and set a date for a trial. as for the meyers, 16-year-old kristal is finding life difficult without her mom. the loss, the scorn, the guilt. you saw everything. >> yeah. i ask myself, what if we didn't go, or what if i didn't want to go, or what if i never honked the horn?
it probably would have been different. >> reporter: she is coping the best way she knows how, through music. you say that you've actually written a song. >> yeah, i did. >> reporter: do you mind singing a little bit? >> sure. ♪ the angel fly and let us all go and oh, she'll be all right ♪ ♪ all these people judging us everywhere we go the pain will never leave it will always ♪ ♪ remain the same >> a daughter's loving tribute to her mother. nowsch will be back in court next month. our question to you, do you think it was a case of road rage, or something more personal? let us know using #abc2020.
and next friday, diane sawyer's interview with a sur >> what jaycee reveals for the first time. >> it's stunning. >> this summer's most inspiring, extraordinary television event. next friday on abc. >> you won't want to miss that, next friday night. and "20/20" can be watched all weekend, any time of day, on demand and dvr. i'm elizabeth vargas. have a good night, and have a safe and wonderful july 4th weekend. armed forces move in to
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