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tv   Dateline NBC  NBC  April 18, 2015 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT

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blood evidence does not lie, it actually tells a story. >> tonight, you are there at the crime scene. >> you can almost recreate the crime. >> right there on thele wall, a mystery skral -- scrawled in blood on the wall. >> was it a cryptic message. >> the former model and flight attendance. >> when she got dolled up oh, my goodness. >> did she write these letters? >> was she fighting for her life. >> was it the name of the killer
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like in a movie? >> and the ending, it was like a movie, too. >> and i can't believe what people do to each other. >> "written in blood." welcome to "dateline" everybody, i i'm lester holt. tonight the little letters r-o-c will tell a story all their own, but are the is something else that you want to pay attention to in this story, something as crucial that you want to notice because a pizza delivery will help deliver the killer right to the detective's front door. here is dennis murphy. >> reporter: if year-round sun and water is your thing, then florida is your list of things to check out. it was for karen who was a one-time model and once she got
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water and sand in her shoes, she never turned back. >> she loved the boating and the wildlife and i remember just jumping on the boat and going to the islands and having picnics and coming back at sunset, and so much fun. >> reporter: good friend catherine milllayay worked the counters with her for frazzled passengers, and who isn't these days. >> she was smart and funny. >> reporter: but when the capable and reliable karen didn't show up for her saturday shift on october 11th, 2003 clearly something was wrong. her boyfriend had tried to call her at home. >> when she wasn't at home or answering her calls, i started to get worried, but wit was a couple of hours before i got
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panicy about it. >> reporter: the boyfriend drove over to her condo, and the front door was unlocked a. bad sign. he said that he stepped inside and looked to the right to the kitchen. kitchen. >> i saw her body, and i knew immediately that there was no doubt in my mind that i knew she was dead and i pick d uped up the phone and i called 911. >> she is laying on the floor. there is blood everywhere. >> reporter: karen was sprawled on her back bloody and a murder victim in her own home. pinellas county homicide de detective michael holbrooke would lead the investigation. >> when the investigation team arrived, tim was hysterical and actually threw up on the front lawn he was so upset. >> reporter: and they put him in the back seat of the patrol call where he placed a call to
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catherine with the unimaginable news. >> he said catherine, it is tim, and she is in the floor of her apartment, and there is blood everywhere and she has bn been stabbed. >> reporter: stabbed? >> it is a horrible way, a really horrible way to die. >> reporter: the baby of the family with five older brothers suddenly gone. she had been especially close to her brother mike. >> i was at the airport, and my brother said, you better sit down. and he said, karen has been murdered. >> reporter: any theories of what had happen ded? >> i didn't know. i was trying to figure tout why. and relying on the police to do what they needed to do. >> reporter: and what they had to do was plenty. they processed the crime scene can and filmed every inch of karen's home and knocked on the doors and tried to figure out
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just who the victim was. detectives holbrooke and larry nalvern talked to people closest to her. >> and we took mr. permenter and gave him a run down. >> he gave them a rundown of where he had been before the terrible discovery. he said that he had dropped in before the discovery with a calendar of kittens that he said that he knew she would find irresistible and he left at 9:30 and left. >> wouldn't bit the routine to spend the night. >> no, because it was friday. she had to get up early.
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>> reporter: and he spent time with friends that night with friends. >> and isn't there suspicions or i want to talk to the lawyer or anything like that? >> foshgs he is being more than cooperative. >> reporter: and while tim said that he was off with friends, there appeared to be a frenzied struggle at her home. >> she put up a heck of a struggle. >> reporter: what are you looking at? >> she had defensive wounds and the way her body was contorted, and i remember thinking she put up a heck of a struggle. >> >> >>. >> reporter: do you suck in your breath or have you seen everything at this point? >> i can't believe what people do to each other. >> reporter: there were other signs of tampering. >> there was a cable box tampered. >> then you think somebody was
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cutting the wires and knocked over birdbath and so there was evidence out sooidside that you at first to so think of yourself, this might be a burglary. >> reporter: and karen's overturned purse on the stovetop supported the theory. anna took a inventory of everything the pizza box, the garden glove and the grocery receipt, but it is what the authorities founded on the wall just above the body that would turn it out of the movies a three-let three-letter message in blood and you didn't have to squint to make it out. r-o-c, and on the victim, the right-hand thumb of the vicktim was clearly stained with blood. r-o-c. what was the murdered woman trying to tell the cops? >> all of the theerories were running through my mind. is it a word, a person, a thing? the clues pointed so many directions that it was really a
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total mystery. >> reporter: there is a concept in the law known as a dying declaration, and with those three letters scrawled in karen's own blood, would it lead to the apprehension of her own killer. >> and when we come back the investigateors or thes hone into those
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but karen always liked her, and tim was smitten by her when
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she worked at the dealership that he worked at her. >> and you were pinching yourself and thought that you were the luckiest guy to be around. >> yes, i thought that she was the one, and she was a person that i could settle down with. >> reporter: and settling down was not part of karen's growing up. she and her five brothers had been raised as military brats who moved bases a lot. and now the family was being gathered from far flung parts of the country for her funeral, the sis sister who had been their glue >> the boys got involved in their own stuff, and then there was karen can and she was what connected all of us to the family unit. >> reporter: what does that tell us about her?
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>> she was more important to us than we knew. she was very important. >> and to mike, she was the very important. >> she could have been a scientist or anything she wanted to do. >> reporter: and her friends loved her. >> yeah, she was hard not to love. >> and harder to think of the cruel fate she had come to. >> during the viewing there were visible stab wounds on the hands, and so we pull ded the flowers down a little further. >> reporter: a few days after the murder her many friends at the airport said their good-byes. >> there is a chapel at the main terminal in florida and tlhere were so many people there from so many people and it was inkred incredible. >> reporter: meanwhile the
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investigation department was moving quickly on several fronts. first they validated the boyfriend tim's story, and he said that after visiting karen that evening he spent the night with a friend named george solomon at moon lake about an hour from the north. >> and he did go up to stay with george solomon and this is confirm ed confirmed with interviews with george and george's girlfriend. george gave us a time line that was consistent with what permenter gave us. >> reporter: so tim's story of the night of the murder checked out, and he voluntarily came clean with something from the start. he had a record, and he'd done time. >> and early on in life you got in trouble. what were you doing? >> i was running an escort service, and i got stupid and i started it up small basically running an ad out of the newspaper, getting a small office and it just expand eded from there, and ballooned. >> what kind of money were you pulling down a week.
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>> i was grossing $6,000 to $7,000 a day. >> reporter: and you are how old? >> about 20. that is the trap why go to school when you make that kind of money. >> reporter: and that is the trap. and ended up in a gun fight? >> yes. >> reporter: and tim was worried that he would be painted as a bad guy right away because of his sordid past and so he agreed to cooperate right away. >> so i allowed them to photograph me and remove my clothing and go go to my home to remove anything he wanted. >> there was nothing about the clotheing or the car or anything in his home that led us to believe that he was involved in any other way, and that he came over to find her and he was devastated. >> reporter: the alibi checked out and the police also dismissed any clues to home invasion. after all she had been stabbed 16 time and in fact, a crime so ferocious, it had to be a crime
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of passion. so now they were puzzled to find out what the biggest clue was r-o-c. so this is a creepy scene with this scrawled in message and then you find this guy, and what does it suggest? >> absolutely that is what it suggests, just like you would see in a movie. >> reporter: and the e detectives soon discovered how the letters on the wall were soon connected to the victim lying beneath them. roc was a person the name of a man who had spelled trouble for him in the past. >> roc was an ex-boyfriend who karen had trouble with previously. >> reporter: and whoever and wherever he was, roc had just become the prime suspect in the murder. >> all right. that is what she meant to write and they had to follow the lead and off they go. >> reporter: to find roc?
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>> yes. >> reporter: and coming up mission accomplished and find them they do. >> what did she find in you? >> the bad boy kind of thing. >> reporter: what do they find next? >> i am looking at murder and somebo
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♪ a stomach-churning crime
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scene with at first glance a cryptic message written in blood, r-o-c, but it wasn't a big mystery for long. r.o.c was the unusual but proper spelling of karen's ex-boyfriend. >> tell me about the former boyfriend, roc. who was he? >> he was an ex-boyfriend. he'd had a little bit of legal problems. little bit of substance abuse problem. >> roc had a personality as big and as loud as the pipes on the harleys he loved to cruise. he worked at an auto body shop handling insurance claims. when he met karen, she was on a downward spiral. after being married for five years, she'd recently gotten divorced and the doctor had given her awful news she had multiple sclerosis, 38 years old. >> what do you think that did to her?
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that is an awful diagnosis and what do you think that did to her? >> i think that really affected her self-esteem. i think it may have had an impact on the type of men that she was attracted to. >> karen came to rely on roc to take her to doctor's appointments and give her injections. but when she took the step of asking him to move in her family and friends thought she was asking for trouble. >> is it my place to say, well, you need to go find somebody that is going to offer you a better future? >> you can't dictate terms to your kid sister. >> no. you can only fix yourself. >> and, as it turned out, roc wasn't a fix for karen either. the relationship soon took an ugly turn. >> they seemed to get along for a while, and she was happy. and he turned into not a very nice guy. he was a little creepy.
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>> tough on her? >> unexplained bruises, and i used to the tell her, why? what are you doing? he did not e deserve her. but she would not listen. sfwlr the fights got worse, and the police were called three separate times to intervene, and one time roc broke down the door, and that is the final straw. police were called three separate times to intervene. one time roc allegedly broke down the front door. that was the last straw. karen filed a domestic battery complaint and roc moved out. tim permenter says that even a year later roc was still harassing karen about a roll top desk he'd left behind. >> she was starting to get scared of him toward the end. >> issue he had was i have a valuable piece of furniture i want it back. >> right, but karen said that was a ruse. >> trying to worm his way back in? >> that's the way she portrayed it to me. >> the dents knew they had to confront this roc, so they tracked him down and paid him a surprise visit. he wasn't happy to see them. >> i'm in my home in the garage in north port, florida.
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black unmarked shows up. everybody knows what that is. i'm thinking, what the heck is that. >> detective holbrook identified himself and said they needed to talk about his friend karen. they sat done on the porch and said she's dead. this doesn't register. i said you need to tell me what's going on. >> but the detective wanted roc to do the talking. he asked about his troubled relationship with karen. >> roc indicated he was using drugs and that karen liked to drink and that they fought often. >> but roc said he savored the good times too. >> when she got dolled up, oh, my god, gorgeous. i mean picture perfect. nothing out of place. >> could you feel the sparks, something going on? >> she was all by herself, and she was ready to go. she looked hungry for attention. and she was alone. and it was perfect. it was a perfect set up. >> what do you think she saw in you?
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what was working from her side? >> probably the bad boy kind of thing. i wasn't your conventional strait-laced kind of guy. >> roc was straight with officials and admitted there were screaming matches and a few rip-roaring fights but said that she was the instigator. >> she'd get violent, physically violent. just stuff. things would happen. but nobody ever got arrested, but they'd come out, and they would address the issue. >> as roc tells it, she gave as good as he got, that he dodged a few pieces of thrown crockery. >> she was ready to stand up for herself at the drop of a hat. she was a tough girl. >> roc remembers karen playing hardball about that roll top desk of his, too. not liking her attitude. >> i did call her on several occasions about my roll top desk. >> the desk.
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>> that stupid desk. and it was bugging me. i mean, it was a nice piece of furniture, and i really wanted to get it back. and she pretty much said, you left, you're not getting it. >> he never did get it. that roll top was still in karen's condo in oldsmar on the night she was stabbed to death. now detective holbrook pointedly wanted to know if roc had been there too. >> he said where were you on such and such a day, and i'm like, well, first of all, i'll have to look at the calendar, because i don't know where i was that day, but i guarantee you i wasn't in oldsmar. so we go from there to discussing where i was, who i've been with, where i've, where i lived. >> so you're getting a serious grilling. >> right. he ends up telling me that we found your name in blood on the wall. >> roc. >> yeah. so obviously i'm a suspect. and i acknowledge that. i mine, i'm looking at murder.
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i'm getting somebody's talking to me about a murder. >> roc waived his right to a lawyer and agreed to give fingerprints and swabbings. it looked as though police had found strangely yet another cooperative boyfriend of their victim. >> i said if you're looking for fingerprints, they're all over that home because i lived there for a year. so you're going to find them. >> did you lose your patience with them? that's it for today, fellows? >> i did lose my patience when they cut the end of my finger off taking a fingernail. you take the end of my finger off now i'm done. >> his cooperation had an edge to it. was he really trying to cover his tracks? detectives were determined to find out. >> when we come back, a closer look at the man and the clue. the csi of r.o.c. >> i remember thinking, wow, i wonder if that's what wrote these letters. >> were those three little letters really what they seemed? when "written in blood" continues.
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the handwriting was on the wall. and forensic specialist anna cox was intent on breaking down the key piece of evidence implicating karen's ex-boyfriend roc. those three letters in blood,
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r-o-c. >> you would spend hours looking at these letters. >> i did. >> you actually cut the sheetrock out of the place and took it into your lab. >> yes. >> i had to know everything about those letters. >> using a high-powered microscope, she did an analysis of the blood spatter. the flung spatter served as a gruesome canvas for the letters r-o-c written over it. >> when the letters r-o-c were written on top of it it skimmed right over it and didn't disrupt it at all. >> here was her central observation. since the specks of blood weren't smeared, that means r-o-c must have been written after they dried. but how long after? >> i have a special machine that i use to make some spatter. >> in her lab, she used animal
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blood to test how long it took for spatter to dry on a similar surface. >> i was able to apply spatter to sections of cashed board and i wrote the word r-o-c. i must have written it a dozen times. >> it took about 20 minutes before the specialist could write without smearing the spatter. she concluded there must have been about that much time between the time of the attack on karen and the word r-o-c being written on the wall. next she looked for fingerprints in the letters themselves. sounds impossible, right? >> if she's writing and applying pressure to the wall, you would think that there would be some type of transfer to ridge detail. >> ridge detail, we all have it. unique, telltale patterns on every unique finger and hand. but anna wasn't finding that here. rather, she detected an unusual hint of a pattern. almost like polka dots. >> and i thought back to myself, the garden glove on the counter that was missing its match, missing its pair.
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>> a garden glove was found in karen's kitchen. just one glove. the mate was never found. >> on the interior side where the palm and fingers were, it's like that rubber, and it's got those little. >> nubbly things. >> that stick up for gardening purposes so you don't slick. and i remember thinking, wow, i wonder if that is what wrote these letters. >> cox bought similar gloves at a hardware store. and after several more days of testing was satisfied that her hunch was correct. anna cox had come up with two important findings. the message in blood had likely been written with a gloved hand, and it had been scrawled at least 20 minutes after the onset of the attack on karen. she reported her results to the detectives who by then had learned another pertinent fact about their victim. >> karen was exclusively
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left-handed and karen's left hand did not have blood sneered on it. >> and not only that, but when the autopsy report came in, it suggested that karen couldn't have written anything from either hand. >> from what the medical examiner was seeing on his table, was this a victim who was going to be able to dip in her own blood and write r-o-c on the wall? >> no. over 90% of her spine had been damaged by the knife wounds. >> she was incapacitated. >> incapacitated. she didn't write that. it wasn't her. >> karen pernell did not write the letters r.o.c. in blood. it was a huge turning point in the case, and the best news possible for the ex-boyfriend, roc. >> they confirmed 100% that she couldn't have done that. she couldn't have done it. she would have been physically incapable of doing that. and it surely wasn't me. i mean why would you write your own name on the wall. >> police agreed that implicating yourself in a murder
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just made no sense. roc got more good news after police checked out his alibi that he was home on the night of the murder. >> we got his cell phone records, and the cell towers he's sitting off around the same time that we know karen was killed he's in north port florida, that's a good hour, hour and a half away. >> and you went over all of these alleged beefs that he might have had with her, boyfriend/girlfriend? >> absolutely. and he had moved on. >> the detectives were ready to move on too. they officially cleared roc. it was a major development. karen's ex had gone from a prime person of interest to a victim himself, the victim of the killer who had tried to frame him for the crime and frame him. >> whoever killed her knew roc. >> somebody knows my name. >> as part of the story here. >> yes, but if you think about this, it's not even a smart thing to do. >> roc was right.
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the pool of suspects had suddenly narrowed to a small handful of karen's intimates who knew about him and knew the unusual way he spelled his name, r-o-c. the detectives were about to take a hard look at all of them. coming up, a surprise in the crime lab. a new clue emerges from something so ordinary it was almost overlooked. >> you could walk right by and think it has no importance at all. it ended up being crucial in this case. >> could a box of pizza help solve this puzzle? when "dateline" continues.
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- you can collect rainwater to shower with but there are easier ways to go green. like taking shorter showers, which conserves water and lowers your bill. you'll sing long ballads in the rain and short ditties in
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the shower. ♪ the more you know ♪ police had reached a startling conclusion. karen pernell did not write the name roc on the wall. her killer had. but those three letters were still a gift to police, because investigators figured he had to know both karen and roc. detectives started questioning the other men in karen's life. >> karen had nicknames for her boyfriends. car guy. that was tim permenter. another one that she referred to as dr. pilot. >> dr. pilot, a british airways captain had recently been sending karen romantic texts. but he was aboard a flight over the middle east when karen was killed. so he was ruled out, as were most of karen's known male friends. all could prove they were
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nowhere near her house in oldsmar that night. every boy friend except car guy, tim permenter, the one who reported finding karen's body. >> is she conscious? >> no. >> is she breathing? >> i don't know. >> tim was inconsolable during that 911 call, and later would tell detectives he had lost the love of his life, the woman he was hoping to marry. but the people who knew karen best started telling a different story. >> i'm not sure why she stayed in that relationship or if she even began a relationship like that. >> the relationship began with tim trying to sell karen a new car. but police learned he also sold her a bill of goods about himself, saying he'd been a navy s.e.a.l. involved in top secret missions and never mentioning the sordid truth about his criminal past.
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>> karen told me that he explained his scars as he got injured on a mission. >> super commando stuff, huh? >> i think that would have been his impression of himself. >> why are you lying to her? giving her a crock? >> there's really no excuse for it, other than if you're an inmate or you're a convicted felon, no matter how good you do, no matter what you do, there's always going to be that specter hanging over you. >> it was several months into the relationship before tim finally revealed his ugly secret. he was a felon who had spent more than a decade behind bars, not a navy s.e.a.l. but a violent one-time pimp the self-described escort king. >> i said i've been waiting for the right time to tell you this, and she was flabbergasted. i think that she, she became frightened of me. >> so why didn't you just shake hands and call it quits? >> because i loved her. >> karen's friends and brothers say she told them she was afraid. and when she tried to pull away from tim, brother mike says those fears were quickly borne out.
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>> did you ever hear evidence that she was not being treated well? >> yes. and she called me and said that tim had choked her and i felt like, after that conversation that i'd convinced her to file a police report. >> but no report was filed. still, karen's co-workers could tell something was terribly wrong. >> she had bruising on her neck. and in fact, one of her friends at work remembered her missing a day or two, and when she did come in she wore a turtleneck. with the summer months here in florida, you don't wear a turtleneck. >> while the detectives chased down every lied, the crime lab made another big discovery. unlike the melodramatic bogus message in blood, this evidence was something forensic tech anna
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cox almost passed right over. a pizza box on karen's kitchen counter. >> you could walk right by and think it has no importance at all. it ended up being crucial in this case. >> cox was able to lift a clean fingerprint from the box. it was tim permenter's. and it blew a hole in his minute by minute account. >> he said i wasn't there when the pizza was delivered. >> he told the officers i was out of there at 7:30. >> well, his fingerprints were on that box. >> and you had a receipt saying it was delivered at 8:48. >> so he has now put himself right there at the scene and right there in the last crucial hours of her life. >> it's a poor set of facts. >> for him. >> and then tim's timeline, his alibi took another hit. he first said he was home when he called his friend george just after 9:30. detective nalvin found evidence proving otherwise. >> once we get the phone records back and the cell tower site locations back we are putting him at her house. >> so the tower is catching him in a lie? >> absolutely.
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his 911 phone call in the morning hits off the same tower he was hitting off when he called george at 9:36 the night before, which is directly north of karen pernell's house. >> they could think of only one rhine for tim to lie about those times. it was that karen's car guy was the killer. they brought him to headquarters again. this time for an official and much more aggressive interrogation. >> and he gave the same timeline as he gave previously. we went through it again with him. and he held true to what he told us. at that point, we started attacking the story. >> tim had a simple explanation for the timeline problems. he was confused. >> the corroboration got me confused. >> confused? >> tim, you weren't confused, you were lying.
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>> when the pizza arrived, i was still there. >> 8:48 delivered. >> i would say i was there for another ten, maybe 15 minutes. >> why do you till cops 7:30? >> i'm horrible at times and days. and the problem was, is that making a mistake became a "i'm hiding something." >> cops call your mistake a lie. >> it's impossible. >> pizza man keeps a receipt. >> tim had been tripped up by his own statements. and detective holbrook says his suspect knew the charade was over. >> he put his face in his hands, and he literally covered his face for two or three minutes. tim ultimately looked up at us and the car salesman guy that we knew as tim permenter had completely left the room. >> what did you see in his eyes? what did you see in his face? >> first thing i thought was satan just walked into the room.
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>> coming up. >> i knew i was innocent. >> was he? >> juries really like to see forensics, right? >> the dna, the blood samples. and they didn't have it. >> that was the biggest concern fo
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detectives were now convinced that tim permenter, the boyfriend who pledged to help solve karen pernell's murder was really the killer. but tim says police had nothing on him and why only targeting him because of his criminal record. >> i didn't do it, but i knew somehow, some way, i was going to get pinned on it. i knew it. i knew the minute i saw the
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body. >> detectives arrested him and sent him to the county jail. state attorney bill lowrie got the case. >> who is tim permenter, who's he? >> i think timothy permenter is a psychopath, someone who had gotten lucky to be with karen. and once you got past the superficial aspect of him and realized what he really was like, she wanted out of that relationship, and that ultimately led to her death. >> prosecutor lowry says permenter thought he could outsmart the cops by acting the bereaved boyfriend, playing it to the hilt at the crime scene. [ crying ] >> but the prosecutor says permenter got thrown off his tearstained script when he called karen's best friend soon after making that 911 call. >> he says, kathryn, it's tim. i'm at karen's apartment, she's laying on the floor, there's blood everywhere and she's been stabbed. >> not she's dead. >> not she's dead, she's been stabbed.
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>> and he tells her on the phone according to catherine that she's been stabbed. >> okay. she has been stabbed. >> we didn't know that at that point in time. >> so he knew something he shouldn't have known, something crucial. >> he knew something because he's the one that stabbed her. >> he sized up his case. a rejected lover with a violent history. a man who was at the scene of the crime and lied about it. he charged permenter with first degree murder and decided to seek the death penalty. then just weeks before the trial was scheduled to start, tim's friend, george solomon, his sleepover alibi witness recanted his story. and how. >> tells me this whole new story that permenter had admitted he killed karen that night. >> blurted out a confession. >> when he got up there. >> so that's a holy cow moment for you. >> it is. >> death penalty cases can sometimes take a torturous path in reaching the courtroom. this one had taken four long years.
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despite building a strong circumstantial case prosecutors did not have a murder weapon or other physical evidence linking tim permenter to the stabbing. defense attorney dudley clapp. >> you have a complete lack of physical evidence. no bloody fingerprints. no bloody footprints out the door. >> but prosecutor lowry was confident about the evidence he did have. >> frankly, i think circumstantial cases are sometimes the best, okay, because they don't lie. the circumstances don't lie. people lie. >> and that's the case lowry made to the jury. the circumstances showed tim permenter was the only one with a motive and the opportunity to kill karen. and everything he did afterwards was fabricated to cover up his horrendous crime. >> the issues in this case were the murder of karen by the only person that really could have done it, and that person lied about all these things. and, you know, there's no reason for a person to lie about the
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death of their loved one, if that's really true. >> defense attorney clapp countered with common sense, arguing that karen's killer must have been just drenched in blood after a frenzied attack, and there was no forensic evidence to show that his client was that person. >> in order to buy the state's case, you have to make assumption upon assumption upon assumption. that's not what our system is about. >> how, how did i do it? how on earth did not one single drop of blood get on my clothing? anything like that? >> or in your car, which was ripped apart. >> right. and that's why i agreed to let them look. get what you want, because i knew i was innocent. >> the defense also tore into the credibility of the state's star witness, george solomon, saying it was ridiculous to think tim would get an invitation to spend the night
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with him after blurting out a murder confession. >> hey, i killed somebody. just now or whatever. oh, really? oh, okay. well, come on, let's go see my wife and kids. no way. >> a confident tim permenter decided to speak directly to the jury. he took the stand in his own defense. >> the attitude was, look, you've got to get up here and talk to these people. >> how do you remember him on the stand? >> i think he was calm. i think he answered questions as best he could. very simply, i think very completely, we felt that we had made a showing that the state had not met their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. >> mike pernell had waited four long years to get justice for his sister, but now he wasn't sure what the jury would do. >> there were times that i felt the evidence was very circumstantial. >> in this day and age, we know
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that juries really like to see forensics. >> right. >> the dna, the blood samples, and they didn't have it. >> that was the biggest concern for me. >> but it took the jury just four hours to find tim permenter guilty of first degree murder. he was spared the death penalty by the judge who ordered him to serve a life sentence with no chance for parole. >> how are you doing today? >> i'm fine. >> i spoke to permenter at florida's liberty correctional institution. the convicted murderer says he's victim of a justice system that was tilted against him from the start. >> did you murder karen? >> no. >> because this would be a great time to relieve her family of a lot of remorse and just fess to it. >> and i understand that, but i did not kill karen. i did not. and i'll probably spend the rest of my life here. and when i'm 80, if i'm still alive, i did not kill karen. i'll pay for it. and i am paying for it, but i didn't do it.
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>> the detectives who cracked the case say they might have believed him if only he hadn't tried so hard to fake his alibi, starting with those three letters "written in blood". >> so this hollywood touch as i think of it, roc did it, the dying declaration, it bit him. >> bit him hard. very hard. he outsmarted himself, and that's why he's in prison. >> roc is free to ride his harley these days, but it still eats him up that a man he never met tried to frame him for murder. >> if you could sit down and talk to him, just the way we're sitting here, what would you say to him? >> i am restrained, correct? i couldn't get to him, right? >> should we tie you to the chair in this scenario? >> i would not be a good communicator in that conversation mode with him sitting there. i couldn't do it. >> mike pernell couldn't do it either. he'd rather not think about tim permenter and the last moments of his precious baby sister's
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life. >> i'm not interested in remembering karen associated with that crime. >> it's been a long ordeal for you. >> mm-hm. i want to remember karen as a brilliant, beautiful young woman she was. >> maybe this smiling person. someone who loved her friends. loved the beach and died too young. that's all for now. i'm lester holt. thanks for joining us.
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the reaction is if everybody's in the same boat i don't mind playing the game. but all of a sudden now we're at 32%. >> right now at 11:00, bay area cities singled out to restrict water. state water leaders are now pointing fingers at individual


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