tv Blind Justice MSNBC October 15, 2011 1:00pm-3:00pm PDT
you know, you can move on and become better for what you have. xxxx they call it the gold coast. the sun, the sea, and in this million dollar home, a mystery. >> he was talking on the telephone when he heard a loud bang. >> a woman, murdered. her husband left blind. >> are you bleeding? do you see any blood? >> i'm bleeding all over, yes. >> okay. >> i can't see. >> but who? >> everyone is somewhat of a suspect. >> and why? >> what brings someone to make a decision they're going to do
this? >> was it love? >> what we learned was that he was having an affair with the son. >> was it money? >> nobody knows what really happened except for him and garrett. >> or was the truth hidden here on this tropical paradise? >> it was assassination. it was a hit, no question. >> blind justice. >> thanks for joining us. i'm ann curry. for criminal investigators, it is often the hardest thing of all to find, the motive. in the story you're about to see, the crime took place in florida, but detectives didn't discover an apparent motive until they dug around a tropical island thousands of miles away, something long buried that had nothing to do with treasure. here's keith morrison. >> it was august, hot in coral gables. the air was shirt-sticking thick as night fell.
a small damp breeze pushed weakly at limp palm fronds. in the artificial cool of attorney john sutton's house, an intimate party was winding down early. it was susan sutton's birthday. attending, their son, his girlfriend and john's law partner. daughter melissa just off to college in north florida, couldn't be there. so she phoned her mother to say she missed her. you two close? >> extremely. it's my best friend. >> i was going to ask how old your mom was. >> 57. no, you can't put that on. she was a nice 45. let's leave it at that. >> the guests left. the law partner went home. son christopher and his girlfriend went out to a movie. john settled in to watch tv in the master bedroom. susan, in another bedroom, talked on the phone with a close friend.
a quiet end to a pleasant evening. quiet, but not for long. >> coral gables 911. >> i need police. >> what happened, sir? >> somebody came in and shot me. >> they shot you? >> yes. >> who did it? >> i don't know. i can't see. i need police and i need an ambulance. >> okay. where did he shoot you? >> in my head. >> john sutton, a tough as nails take no prisoners lawyer was barely conscious as he begged the 911 operator for help. he told the operator blood was gushing from his head wounds, he couldn't see. >> who else is in the house with you? >> my wife. >> where is she? >> i don't know. >> somehow, he made it out the front door on his own. he was met by a paramedic. >> the holes in his head, in his face, i couldn't believe how mr. sutton made it out of the house, walking to us. >> they stabilized sutton, rushed him off in an ambulance.
an hour north of sutton's home, homicide detective larry bellieu was just getting home after a long shift. >> i was pulling into my driveway when i got the phone call. he was critically injured, however, he called 911 and made his way to the door and opened the door. >> they didn't want to go in until he came out, is that it? >> they didn't know if the person or persons involved were still inside. they backed off until the s.w.a.t. team arrived and made entry into the house. >> not knowing if the gunman was still in the house, s.w.a.t. teams cleared the house room by room, finally entering the bedroom where susan sutton had been on the phone. >> when they went into the room in which mrs. sutton was, they didn't see anybody. >> miami-dade prosecutor karen kahgan was on homicide duty that night and was called out to the scene. >> they saw a mound on the bed, covered by a blanket. there were bullet holes in the blanket and they had to yank the blanket down and when they did that, they found mrs. sutton in bed with her hands up.
she had been holding the blanket and covering herself, literally ducking under the covers for cover. >> susan sutton was dead. her bloody phone beside her. she must have dropped it as she pulled up the covers in her vain attempt to pull up the covers in her vein attempt to hide from her killer. no shooter around, the s.w.a.t. team withdrew. a dispatcher warned the detective this might be the deadly result of a domestic dispute. sutton's 911 call, perhaps an attempt to cover up what he had done. >> when i got the phone call, and said that it was a murder-suicide down in the city of coral gables, we heard that the husband was en route to trauma center, and in critical condition. >> en route with two bullet holes to his head. had sutton killed his wife, then turned the gun on himself? no. that theory was quickly dismissed when the paramedic who took him to the hospital put out an update over the radio. >> he can't provide any info but it does look like a gunshot wound to the head.
i don't know if it's defensive wounds -- >> he had wounds to his hands which would make it clear it was defense type wounds that somebody else must have shot, because he put his hands up. >> so obviously, first clue, this is not -- >> this is not a murder-suicide. >> who or why would anyone want to harm john or susan sutton? the suttons had lived exemplary lives, seemed to have it all, a beautiful house with a 31-foot boat out back in exclusive coral gables, the upscale enclave south of miami. his law practice, susan worked as office manager, was booming. just that week, he had received a check for $1 million for a case he had settled. so was robbery the motive? and if so, how did the killer get into the house? officers saw a curtain blowing in the wind through a sliding glass door in the rear of the house near the pool. the door latch showed signs it had been broken long before that night. >> the killer had gone in through that sliding glass door,
had walked all the way through that house, no ransacking. drawers were not opened. in the master bathroom, on the vanity, was some beautiful diamond and gold jewelry. so clearly, early on, it was pretty easy to detect that robbery was not the issue here. >> no. >> and that it was apparent that they were targeted. it was an assassination. it was a hit. >> an assassination, a hit? that sort of crime just didn't happen in staid coral gables. whatever the motive, there was little to go on, no murder weapon, no fingerprints, no dna. there was, however, one possible lead. susan sutton, as it was painfully obvious from the blood-stained evidence, had been on the phone when she was shot five times. someone heard the screams of bullets ripping through the silence of that steamy august night. but who?
>> coming up -- what did he know that police didn't? he was given a polygraph, wasn't he? >> he passed on certain information but he was deceptive in others. >> which is a red flag. >> yes. >> when blind justice continues. . what is it? degree deodorant. the more you move the more it works. ♪ [ sniffs ] yep. it's working. [ male announcer ] get low prices every day on everything you need to stay fresh. like degree deodorant with motionsense, only $3.83. backed by our ad match guarantee. save money. live better. walmart. with advanced power, the verizon 4g lte network makes your business run faster: smartphones, laptops, tablets, mobile hotspots. but not all 4g is created equal. among the major carriers, only verizon's 4g network is 100% lte, the gold standard of wireless technology.
and while other carriers may have limited lte coverage, verizon is the largest lte network in america and ever-growing. with verizon 4g lte, you can invent new ways to upgrade your business using real-time group meetings from remote locations, video conferencing, mobile credit-card payments, lightning-fast downloads, and access to thousands of business apps. plus, verizon has the largest selection of 4g lte devices and the most 4g lte coverage for your business. all on america's fastest, most reliable 4g network. no wonder more businesses choose verizon wireless than any other wireless carrier. verizon. it's delicious. so now we've turned her toffee into a business. my goal was to take an idea and make it happen. i'm janet long and i formed my toffee company through legalzoom. i never really thought i would make money doing what i love. [ shapiro ] we created legalzoom to help people
an august morning, 2004. melissa sutton, 19 years old, awoke to her new college dorm life in northern florida, unaware of what had happened to her parents the night before. unaware that her mother was dead. unaware that in a miami emergency room, doctors were fighting to save her father's life. >> who told you and how? >> i actually got a call from a friend who said i hope your dad's going to be okay. and i just went what?
like maybe a heart attack or something, you know. >> it just came out of the blue. >> out of the blue. >> melissa called every number she could back home. >> i called my mom. she didn't answer. i called teddy montoto, my dad's partner. extremely close family friend. he didn't answer. i called my brother. he said he couldn't talk right now. >> were you frantic in the sense that you knew something bad had happened? >> i didn't know what. i didn't know what level. >> eventually, melissa reached montoto, who reluctantly broke the news to her on the phone. he brought her back to miami and the hospital where her father was in intensive care. her brother, 26-year-old christopher, had already arrived. both of them were reeling from the loss of their mother. and now, they kept vigil at their gravely wounded father's bedside. >> we didn't even know if he was going to live for a long time. >> it was pretty touch and go, wasn't it? >> to say gruesome is, you know, if i didn't know his hands and
know little intricate pieces of him, you wouldn't have known it was him. >> you faced the shocking prospect of becoming an orphan. >> i don't think that ever crossed my mind, actually. i don't know. he was still alive in my mind. >> melissa wondered why her parents. who could have done this? investigators describing it as a hit. didn't you have any sense at all what may have happened? >> well, teddy told me what had happened, but i didn't know who had done -- >> who or what. >> right. i just thought it was some sort of break-in was my first instinct. that's what i thought for a long time, until we started talking about my dad's clients. >> homicide detectives were also thinking about sutton's clients and those he sued on their behalf. at this point, john sutton couldn't provide any information. he was clinging to life in a drug-induced coma. >> i went several times to try to talk to john sutton. he was on pain medication.
he was intubated. we're looking at maybe incidents in his law firm where people may have been angry at him. >> civil attorneys take a lot of money from people and they make people mad. >> i said find out if any of these people had reason for revenge on john sutton. >> john sutton ran his law firm like he ran most things in life. efficient and hard-driving. in fact, detectives heard about one woman who lost a $97,000 lawsuit and was so mad, she threatened to shoot up john's firm. and the very night of the murder, a neighbor heard a boat roaring down the canal just behind john's house over here, and it turned out that woman owned such a boat. >> she was interviewed down the line also, and she was not the person responsible. >> but what about that phone call susan was on when she was shot to death? detectives found the blood-stained handset susan dropped when the gunman opened fire. who was she talking to? had that person heard something? detectives got their answer
almost right away. john sutton's law partner, teddy montoto, had shown up at the house even before the first reports of shooting hit the news that night. he was also armed. >> he was talking to susan sutton on the telephone when he heard a loud bang or what he said may be gun shots, he didn't know. >> at least that's what he told the police. >> depending on the amount of truth in his statement, he could be a suspect. >> oh, absolutely. >> but that, said melissa, had to be impossible. teddy and susan worked together. they talked often and frequently late at night. >> he was my mom's best friend. call him my godfather, pretty much. like a relative. >> but police were suspicious. why had montoto arrived so quickly after the shooting? why was he armed with a hand gun? they had a few questions and perhaps more important, some testing to do. >> we interviewed him extensively. we did take gunshot residue from his hands. >> he was given a polygraph,
wasn't he? >> yes, he was. >> how did he do? >> he passed on certain information but he showed that he was deceptive in others. >> which is a red flag. >> yes. >> a red flag this early in the investigation. what exactly did law partner montoto have to hide? perhaps john sutton could tell them, because the survivor of the slaughter, it was clear, was going to live. and when he came out of his coma, what story would he tell? what did he see? coming up, with his victim defenseless in the hospital, would the killer try again? john sutton's son seemed to think so. >> i do recall him as very adamant that my dad be placed under john doe so that whoever did this could not finish off what they had started. >> but was the killer already closer than anyone could have dreamed? when "blind justice" continues.
an airline has planes and people. and the planes can seem the same. so, it comes down to the people. because: bad weather, the price of oil those are every airline's reality. and solutions will not come from 500 tons of metal and a paintjob. they'll come from people. delta people. who made us the biggest airline in the world. and then decided that wasn't enough.
♪ whoa! hey! [ dog barks, growls ] ♪ whoa, watch out, little man. ♪ [ male announcer ] when you take away the worry, it's easy to enjoy the ride. hey, bud. hey, dad. [ male announcer ] introducing cadillac shield. the most comprehensive suite of owner benefits offered by any luxury auto maker in the world. prego?! but i've been buying ragu for years. [ thinking ] i wonder what other questionable choices i've made? [ '80s dance music plays ] [ sighs ] [ male announcer ] choose taste. choose prego. it's more gradual, subtly self-confident. shouldn't anti-aging be just as subtle? sculptra aesthetic. the injectable that replaces lost collagen gradually,
for a naturally subtle look. and it can last up to two years. you didn't age overnight. why anti-age overnight? injection site discomfort, redness, bruising, bleeding, swelling, bumps and delayed lumps, some with inflammation may occur that typically resolve. it's anti-age for the modern age. visit sculptraaesthetic.com. susan sutton was dead, shot five times by a killer who invaded her home after her birthday party. her husband, john, an attorney, had been shot in the head twice and was in critical condition at a miami hospital, undergoing multiple surgeries to save his life. but soon after the shooting, detectives had a potential suspect. john sutton's good friend and law partner. >> he had a partner who was on the scene when homicide detectives got there.
>> teddy montoto told police he had been on the phone with susan, heard the unmistakable sound of gunfire, rushed over to the sutton house with a gun of his own to try to help, but was that the whole story? they gave montoto a polygraph. it showed he had been deceptive, hiding something. >> what we learned was that he was having an affair with mrs. sutton. >> so montoto hadn't been straight with them, or with his good friend and partner, john sutton. but was he off the hook for murder? well, maybe. maybe not. when they checked phone records, it appeared montoto was still being deceptive. he told them the affair had been recent and brief, but that's not what the phone records said. did teddy montoto have some secret reason to kill his lover and her husband? they tested him for gunshot residue. he told them he might test
positive. he was an expert marksman, had been shooting earlier that day. >> another twist in the story, but what did it mean in terms of the likelihood that he was involved in this incident? >> again, it was early in the investigation. it was a lot of investigating to do. >> mostly, for days, they waited with everyone else to see if john sutton would survive the attack, to see if they would ever be able to ask him what happened. until now, all they had heard from sutton was this. >> are you bleeding? do you see any blood? >> i'm bleeding all over, yes. >> okay. >> i can't see. >> i can't see. it was almost a week after the shooting when sutton was awakened from a medically induced coma. he was going to live. but he was going to live with the scars of the shooting. he had lost an eye but worse, far worse, was the news the doctors gave him. he would never see again. he was blind in both eyes.
>> shortly before i left the hospital, some ophthalmologist came around and very bluntly told me there was nothing they could do for my eyesight. i was very unhappy, very upset about the eyesight. >> did you know right away he was going to be blind? >> no. i didn't. we didn't even know if he was going to live for a long time. >> be nice to look into his eyes and know he can see back and see you. >> it's different. it's different to look at someone who's blind. it's a different expression. >> though for a long time, any expression was masked by truly dreadful injuries. how many bullets had you been hit by? >> i had two in my head, in the right temple and i'm told out the left jaw. one higher towards my ear and one in the lower part of the jaw. >> those were only the shots to
his head. the tip of his ring finger was blown off. other shots hit his thumb and shoulder. >> there were six pretty good sized bullet holes. >> when he was well enough to talk to detectives, sutton told them what he could, the story of a man who barely witnessed the attack that killed his wife and almost killed him. he was a former college swimmer, so he was watching an olympic diving event in the master bedroom, he said. >> next thing i know, somebody was standing there in a black hat or visor, black shirt, black pants, face shaded by the visor, and opened fire. all i really remember was one bang. >> the bullets destroyed his right eye and severed the optic nerve in his left eye. the optic nerve connects the eye to the brain. without it, sight is impossible. but the bad news, of course, didn't end there.
how did you find out about susan? >> at some point, i asked melissa how's mom doing. and melissa said well, she's not doing quite as well as you. they're working on her somewhere else. so you need to hang in there. didn't really mean too much to me. i think i was hallucinating an awful lot. at some point, somebody told me that she had died. >> in fact, for weeks and weeks, sutton drifted in and out of alertness, dependent on others to save him. >> of course, my son was there. a bunch of my friends were there because i had multiple surgeries in that hospital. >> as he lay in that bed, sedated, medicated, breathing through tubes, thoughts, half a dream, terrified him. was the killer a hit man? was he coming to try again? >> i thought somebody was trying to kill me one night, so i raised hell. i said you know, call the police, you know, everything i could say to get some assistance. >> he was wrong. there was no killer. still, christopher demanded the hospital take special
precautions. >> i do recall him very adamant that my dad be placed under john doe so that whoever did this could not find him and finish off what they had started. >> so you were pretty paranoid guy lying in that -- >> most certainly. >> and with good reason. because the killer was still out there. knew exactly where john sutton was. coming up, but unfortunately, police had no idea where the killer was. >> everyone is somewhat of a suspect. you start with the family, you keep working your way out. >> when "blind justice" continues. for convertibles, press star one. i didn't catch that. to speak to a representative, please say representative now. representative. goodbye! you don't like automated customer service,
took a violent turn today. cars were overturned as more than 100,000 people filled the streets. now, removing troops from iraq by the end of the year with 5,000 to guard the embassy. they had considered leaving more than 100,000 troops to guard the country. now, back to "blind justice." the fact that john sutton was alive at all after that mystery invader killed his wife and shot him in the face was a medical marvel, frankly. the rest of the news was not so good. when he was finally able to talk, sutton received a visit from police detectives. susan, police discovered, had been having an affair with sutton's law partner, teddy montoto. >> it's upsetting. i'm not excusing teddy. i'm not excusing anybody. so i don't focus on that, i can't change it, i can't change
any of this. it's like a bad dream. >> but then the dream got worse. teddy was a possible murder suspect. >> one of the homicide detectives related to me that there had been a problem with the polygraph. >> because he was actually a suspect. >> i suspect so. anybody that was probably anywhere near me was a suspect. >> but as sutton was absorbing the news of his wife's apparent betrayal, montoto slipped off the list of top suspects. for one thing, he couldn't have been the shooter. he was on the phone with susan when it happened. records confirmed he actually called the police before rushing to the sutton house. so as detectives eliminated early suspects like montoto, they went back to the basics of every homicide investigation. >> everyone is somewhat of a suspect. you start with the family, you keep working your way out. >> family. john and susan met on a blind
date, were married a year later. from the beginning, they made family a very big deal. but even though they were strikingly good-looking and financially successful and happy, they were stymied. no matter how they tried and oh, how they tried, they could not have children. >> she was sure that as much as anybody else wanted a baby, she wanted a baby more than anyone in the world. >> but if wishing couldn't make susan pregnant, said her sister mary, it could make her a mother by adoption. >> she got her wish, and as i said, it was the happiest day of her life when she brought christopher home. >> christopher sutton was born april 13th, 1989, and the day they brought him home, john sutton remembers every minute, every detail, even the green suit he was wearing. >> when christopher came to us
at about two days old, very cute, was a lot of fun. >> it was a happy time. >> absolutely. >> susan quit her job to be a full-time mom, but susan kept trying to get pregnant, kept suffering through years of failed fertility treatments and miscarriages. finally, adopted a sister for christopher, melissa. >> she was and always has been a little angel. absolutely. she would probably be upset with me saying this, but she was pretty close to perfect. >> which seemed to describe the family, too. they told the kids they had been adopted, didn't seem to worry them at all. >> my mom and my dad were my mom and my dad. there wasn't these were my biological and these are my adopted. i had a great childhood. >> and there were advantages to having a brother seven years older, especially when he grew to be a six foot 200 pounder. >> he was my defender, my protecter. someone made fun of me at school
one time, he came and he kind of gave the kid a stern look, what a big older brother did. you know, i think he was protective of me. >> after the murder, christopher resumed that protective role, this time for his father, who insisted that melissa should return to college in northern florida. >> the day after the shooting was her first day of college. >> oh, my gosh. >> and i was then and i am still proud that she managed to stay in school. >> during a long, arduous recovery, the many surgeries, the lingering fear, a protective layer formed around john's demeanor. he learned the hard way to keep focus in and emotion safely at bay. it was easier that way. survival mode. >> he just focuses on putting one foot in front of the other and i think i do the same thing. if you were to break down emotionally all the time or dwell on what happened, you
wouldn't get out of bed. >> the doctors let him go home finally, but since home was not exactly livable, he moved in with christopher at his townhouse. >> my house was a mess because it was a crime scene. the most logical place for me to go was not where the incident occurred, because we didn't know who was responsible, but this townhouse and that's where i went. >> a full-time nurse looked after him during the day. christopher and his girlfriend juliette driscoll, were there for him the rest of the time. three months after the august shootings when john decided he was ready to go home to the house in which the shooting happened, christopher went with him, eyes for his blind father. >> at that point, he was more involved in driving me around or some care giving. >> but now it was almost christmas. still no arrests. detectives larry and his partner, art, were certainly
technology following up leads, trying to find anyone with a motive to kill the suttons. though understand the digging they were doing was mostly in mounds of dry, turgid paperwork, records of phone calls and the like. and then somewhere in the middle of that pile, there it was. and boy, was it a doozy. coming up -- >> he sat across from me and i looked at him and go we got something here. >> a phone call from a killer. when "blind justice" continues. patients will try and deal with it by drinking water. water will work for a few seconds but if you're not drinking it, it's going to get dry again. i recommend biotene. all the biotene products like the oral rinse...the sprays have enzymes in them. the whole formulation just works very well. it leaves the mouth feeling fresh. if i'm happy with the results and my patients are happy with the results, i don't need to look any farther.
exclusive to the military. and commitment is not limited to one's military oath. the same set of values that drive our nation's military are the ones we used to build usaa bank. from free checking to credit cards to loans, our commitment to the military, veterans, and their families is without equal. ♪ visit us online to learn what makes our bank so different. usaa. we know what it means to serve.
[ dr. ling ] i need to get the results from the m.r.i. see if the blood work is ready. review ms. cooper's history. and i want to see katie before she goes home. [ male announcer ] with integrated healthcare solutions from dell, every patient file is where dr. ling needs it. now she can spend more time with patients and less time on paperwork. ♪ dell. the power to do more.
there's a reason, of course, why parents worry about the company their children keep. it was months after john sutton lost his wife and his own eyesight to an intruder with a nine millimeter hand gun. miami detectives were plowing their way through mounds of interview transcripts and tips and e-mails and phone records, anything to narrow down their list of suspects. and in the pile of material from the phone company, they came across a name. >> we isolated within a three or four-hour period of the murder, five or six different names, and one of those came back to garrett kopp. >> who was he talking to? >> on the 22nd, there was probably i want to say maybe 13 phone calls, if memory serves me right, that were made between garrett kopp and chris sutton's cell phones. >> a lot of calls. >> lot of calls. >> lots of calls. on the day of the murder. quite probably meant nothing at all, of course.
still, garrett kopp was 20, a frequent visitor around the sutton house. he didn't seem to have a job or any direction in life. christopher saw some good in him, apparently. hired him occasionally to do odd jobs. in fact, after the murder, christopher had kopp rip up and remove the bloody carpets from the crime scene. >> what sort of person did he seem like? >> when garrett was in the house, he was always, shall we say, at a distance. i honestly cannot recall any conversations whatsoever with garrett. >> but kopp and christopher called each other all the time, even the night of the murder. an hour after the shooting, just when christopher and his girlfriend juliette were coming out of a movie. >> we pulled the video from the amc movie theater, and it showed him getting right on his cellular telephone right after all the shooting happened. >> was there a connection here? with what happened?
again, probably not, but just to cover all the bases, the detective ran a criminal background check on young mr. kopp and what do you know. >> he was arrested on august 23rd. >> the day after the shooting. >> day after the shooting. i still get goosebumps when i remember that, because he's sitting across from me and i look at him and go pal, we got something here. >> indeed, they did. one day after the murder, garrett kopp was arrested for aggravated assault after an altercation at this apartment complex. big no-no. he pulled a gun on a couple of guys. happened in the town of homestead, florida, about 30 miles away from the crime scene. the detective called the homestead police department, talked to the arresting officer. >> i said please tell me it was a hand gun. he says it was. i said now please tell me it was a glock nine millimeter. he goes, it was. i said, now, please tell me you have that weapon. he goes, i do.
>> bingo. >> we got to get that gun. >> yeah. >> art went down and picked up the gun and we submitted it to our firearms tech. >> the report came back clear as day. this was the gun that killed susan sutton and blinded her husband. >> which obviously connects garrett kopp to that murder pretty intimately. >> absolutely. >> but detectives did not rush out and arrest kopp. for a simple but very important reason. there was a bigger question that needed to be answered. did his friend, christopher, know anything? was he even perhaps involved? shocking question, of course. this was sutton's son, the son who devoted himself to nursing his father back to health. but something about christopher bothered them. and had, ever since he was interviewed the morning after the murder. >> he said that i was at the movies, and said do you want to see the tickets? >> just had them right there, like that. >> basically to me it was like a red flag right there. i want to prove i'm at the movies.
>> odd, perhaps. might mean nothing at all. the gun implicated kopp, of course, but christopher? no real evidence to show he knew a thing. >> there were still a lot of pieces of puzzle that we're still putting together. >> we can't prove it yet. >> like for example, this big tantalizing piece of puzzle right here. what in heaven's name might an island in the far-off pacific have to do with the shooting of john and susan sutton? coming up, trouble in paradise, for a young christopher and his family. >> he was kidnapped in the middle of the night and he was 17 years old. and...silver high. you should probably try this. what is it? degree deodorant. the more you move the more it works. ♪
[ sniffs ] yep. it's working. [ male announcer ] get low prices every day on everything you need to stay fresh. like degree deodorant with motionsense, only $3.83. backed by our ad match guarantee. save money. live better. walmart. but my nose is still runny. [ male announcer ] truth is, dayquil doesn't treat that. really? [ male announcer ] alka-seltzer plus fights your worst cold symptoms, plus it relieves your runny nose. [ deep breath] awesome. [ male announcer ] yes, it is. that's the cold truth!
amazing, with that garden variety assault case in homestead, florida led to. garrett kopp was arrested with the gun that turned out to be the murder weapon in the sutton case. the very same garrett kopp who talked on the phone so often with christopher sutton. the friend who had called christopher right after the shooting. though now the complexion of the investigation changed. >> we're trying to think why would garrett kopp do this.
i mean, he's like a 20-year-old kid. obviously there's a tie with christopher sutton and him. >> as for christopher himself, the detectives had no trouble finding people with an opinion about him. >> the cops should be looking at christopher sutton, because of the lengthy family history of problems that john and susan had had with their son christopher, who was a handful from a very early age. >> a very early age, actually. as john sutton recalled all too clearly. did he get into fights at school? >> i can remember that happening early on in preschool. >> it got worse as christopher got older. did he get into trouble? >> absolutely. there was vandalism. not only of our own things, there was vandalism of other people's property. >> they sent him off to boarding schools then, but he didn't last at any of them, failed and got kicked out. of course, the whole family
tried, said his sister, melissa. the trouble wasn't a lack of love. not at all. was there a sense that christopher was loved? >> i mean, no doubt about it. >> but neither love nor money could prevent christopher from always ending back in the same place, trouble. >> i know that he dealt drugs and at one point, he was arrested for it when i was younger, and you know, that was something that my father being a lawyer as well as a parent, what do we do. >> finally, in 1995, when christopher was 16, when counselors and boarding schools and tough love had all been tried and found wanting, john and susan looked away, far, far away, to find some help. on the pacific island of western samoa there was a place called paradise cove, a so-called boot camp for troubled kids. behavior modification, their specialty. it's a long way away, samoa.
was that part of it, that it would be a good idea to have him far away for awhile? >> we weren't focused on finding the farthest place we could possibly send him. we were very hesitant about samoa, but we investigated it rather thoroughly. >> it was expensive. paradise cove charged about $25,000 a year. but -- >> we just had enough. >> yeah. >> what else could we do. >> the suttons knew there was no way christopher would agree to go on his own, so attorney sutton did what attorneys do best. and got a court order to have christopher forcibly sent to samoa. >> he was kidnapped in the middle of the night and he was 17 years old. >> actually kidnapped him? >> yeah, put him on a plane. he was sent to western samoa. >> but christopher would not break so easily. and paradise cove was no paradise. in fact, there were many reports of physical abuse and restraints used on those who were uncooperative. something christopher learned when he first arrived.
>> we knew that christopher sutton had complained that he had been hog-tied, beaten. >> when his family was allowed to visit him about a year later, there did seem to be a distinct change. a huge improvement. they found a buff, cleaned up young man who excelled at sports. it was, as you can clearly see, a happy family reunion. >> it was a really happy event. we cried, we hugged, we said, you know, our hellos and loved each other, and he was proud of what he'd learned and showed off at least to us. >> then five months after this reunion, christopher turned 18. time for him to come home, or so he thought. >> he was banking on getting out when he turned 18. but we also learned that john sutton being a lawyer, had an order signed by a judge that said when you turn 18, if you haven't completed the course, you're going to stay. which infuriated christopher sutton.
>> why did you decide to keep him there when he turned 18? >> we had concerns that he wasn't ready to return. he had not quote, graduated the program. >> how did he feel about that? >> he was quite upset. >> he wanted to come home. >> he wanted things his way. he always wanted things his way. >> this time, finally, tough love seemed to work. christopher was 19 and a changed man when he turned from his protracted stay in somoa. >> we met him at the airport. >> he was happy to see you? >> absolutely. >> joyous reunion? >> thrilled. >> the suttons went on a family cruise. a reward for his son. that's where he met his future fiance. a young woman from boston, named juliet driscoll. juliet moved to miami and she quickly became a member of
the family. john sutton even got her a job at his law firm. >> she's what i imagined marrying into the family. my mother embraced her. she was a great influence on my brother and the family. >> christopher got his act together, enrolled in college, started working. his parents helped out by buying him a $300,000 condo. >> he started up his own company, which in retrospect looking at everything he had done from arrest to drugs, you know, this is good behavior. we were all happy that things were better. >> anyway, by the time of the murder, christopher was 26 and samoa had receded into his distant past. >> i interviewed his sister and all she knew about her brother was he was a little rebelous as most teenagers are. >> i said something along the lines of no, i don't know any reason why he would want to do this.
>> a belief her father shared. >> i asked him at jackson hospital, could your son have something to do with this? and he said, i don't believe so. >> so perhaps garret kopp acted alone after all. but detectives were convinced christopher had to be mixed up in that awful shooting somehow. someone must know, and they were right. someone did. miami homicide detectives larry and art had a problem. they were pretty sure the man who shot john and susan sutton was now a frequent visitor of the sutton home. >> he gets arrested. >> and they at least suspected the sutton's own son, now john's caregiver was all mixed up in it somehow. >> i was becoming more concerned. >> was john sutton a sitting duck for another attack? one that might finish him off? >> you must have found it a little worrisome that john sutton was actually living with his son christopher and being
cared for by christopher. >> absolutely. >> sure. >> still, they worried but did not act. even though they knew full well that garrett kopp, the shooter, they were sure, was still hanging around. >> isn't that right, that kopp was still there? >> and we didn't want to tip our hand. >> but should christopher have been a suspect at all? after all, does this sound like the behavior of guilty men? gary kopp and christopher sutton while ripping up bloody carpets actually called detectives to tell them they found new evidence at the crime scene, a bullet casing under the carpet. >> helpful handyman, by the way, i found another casing. come on. >> maybe that's an indication they didn't do it. >> i didn't think so. >> but that's what any good defense attorney would point out. >> sure. >> the casing was underneath something and i don't know how we all missed it but we missed it. we were a little -- christopher
was harboring anger at his parents for sending him to that boot camp in sa moia. the detectived talked to cam alumnae. this former paradise cove resident was there when christopher got the news that he would have to stay well beyond his 18th birthday. >> i know he was upset. i know he was mad at his family for that. >> but when they tracked down another paradise cove resident, he said christopher was a lot more upset than that. >> christopher made comments that his parents were going to pay fortaking years out of his life. >> but they could see his recent behavior wasn't lasting. even juliet's influence couldn't keep christopher from slipping up. yes, the went back to college after he returned from so some-somoa, but soon dropped out. and he did form a company but the company folded. >> he didn't seem to be motivated. we tried to get him to stay in jobs.
nothing seemed to be working. what john sutton didn't know was that his son had gone back to the one job he seemed to be good at -- selling drugs. nor did he know that christopher's friend garret kopp was one of his best clients. >> kopp, it turned out, had been buying and sometimes reselling the drug, mostly marijuana and xanax. and he and christopher spent plenty of time sampling the goods. according to the prosecutor. >> it wasn't just drug deals. they hung around a lot. doing drugs, playing video games, whatever. >> in the months after the murder, phone records showed a spike in calls between the two. 300 calls in three months. >> that's an awful lot of drugs to be dealing in three months if you have 300 some odd phone calls. >> could they be talking murder? speculation, of course. but -- then after the murder, when kopp was arrested on the gun charge, prosecutors discovered it was christopher who put up the money to bond him out, even drove him
to court. hardly the sort of thing a drug dealer would do for a mere customer. >> going to court with him, bonding him out. there was more to this friendship. >> john and melissa sutton knew nothing of what the police were discovering. christopher and his girlfriend were still living with john. garret kopp was still coming around. so solid evidence or no, detectives decided it was time to act. they needed a confession to make their case. >> i told the investigators, bring him to me. coming up -- a showdown with a killer.. >> what did he want you to do? >> go in the backdoor, walk in and shoot him. >> case closed? far from it. when "blind justice" continues. ♪
we're centurylink... a new kind of broadband company committed to providing honest, personal service from real people... 5-year price-lock guarantees... consistently fast speeds... and more ways to customize your technology. ♪ lugging around a hot water extraction unit can be a rush! that's why i'm carpet for life. but if things get out of hand, there's no shame in calling us. ♪call 1-800-steemer. [ tires screech ] [ crying ] [ applause ] [ laughs ] [ tires screech ] [ male announcer ] your life will have to flash by even faster. autodrive brakes on the cadillac srx activate after rain is detected to help improve braking performance. we don't just make luxury cars. we make cadillacs.
detectives larry and art had a theory to explain the shooting of john sutton and the murder of his wife susan, which was that christopher sutton hired his dope smoking buddy garret kopp to kill his parents. but it was really just a theory, and while the case against kopp was fairly strong, remember, the murder weapon was found in his possession. the evidence against christopher was purely circumstantial. little more than guilt by association. the samoa boot camp might have given christopher a motive, but -- >> i certainly needed more than that to make the arrest. i decided it was time to act. we were going to need a confession, i believe. >> and given what they had against kopp, the detective gambled that the shooter might roll over on the son. >> and he denied all? >> that wasn't my gun at all. i said it looks like we're going to be here a long time today. >> and they were. hours and hours. you know how the house was set up? >> yeah. >> finally, i said, i don't believe you did this on your own.
>> he said, you have to look out for me and my family because i'm afraid of this. >> chris was going to kill him? >> yes. if he didn't do this, chris would take care heavy him and his young son. i didn't believe him, but that's the story he wanted to give me. >> after having given himself an excuse, kopp finally confessed. said christopher was behind it all. gave him the gun, the money to buy the black clothe he wore. hired him as a hitman. >> did he formulate this plan or was it a combined effort between you two? >> he did. >> what did he want you to do? >> go into the black door and shoot him. >> did it upset him to tell you this story? >> no, not really, not that i could tell. >> did he seem relieved that he had finally told someone? >> no. when we were talking, he was pretty calm. matter of factually talking about it. >> after that confession, kopp was charged with first degree murder. he was allowed to see his
father, his girlfriend and his son then taken off to jail. so case closed? well, you would think, given what kopp told the detectives in there, but it did not give them what they needed to arrest christopher. there's a feature in florida law, which says that the things a person says in a confession about somebody else could be labelled as hearsay. they needed more. so they turned to the person closest to christopher, his fiance. juliet driscoll. frs the two were to be married in two weeks. dress bought, invitations in the mail. >> she sat there and said i don't know, christopher doesn't tell me. >> didn't tell her anything? or is that what she said? >> that was my reaction. and i didn't buy it. >> guess not. because he went on grilling this young woman for more than 12 hours. at the end of which, the detective played to her heart, her relationship with susan and john sutton. >> i said look, susan really cared about you.
she basically thought of you as a daughter. this woman didn't deserve to die like this. john doesn't deserve to be blind for the rest of his life, and i know for a fact garret did this under the direction of christopher. finally she started crying and i go, i think i may have her. >> with the tears came a story, what christopher had said to her that just might nail him for murder. >> parents deserved to die for taking years out of his life. she says this went on for years. she interjected and said i knew it was going to happen. i just didn't know when. that night they put juliet, who was living with christopher, into protective custody. >> the next day i prepared an arrest warrant for christopher sutton. >> and a female officer paid a visit to christopher's father, home alone. >> he. >> she says, well, i've got good news and bad news. the good news is that we have arrested the assailant.
he's admitted it. the bad news is he's in cull pated your son and said your son set imup. i go, man, oman. well, that was a bad night. a real bad night. >> what was it like to hear that? was it a shock or did you have at that point some kind of an idea. >> it was 50 emotions all at the same time. one of which is, well, i finally know. two was i can't believe this. >> john, ever the attorney wanted to know what the evidence was. had the reports read to him, and was convinced. >> i think that i was somewhere in between being completely outraged and upset and somewhere where i knew that he had done it. >> but melissa, so grief stricken wasn't focused on who did it so much as what she had lost. >> a lot of people chased the
killer, and i chased missing my mom. >> police are looking for 25-year-old christopher patrick sutton. >> and christopher was nowhere to be found. day after day as police looked for him, john sutton had time to think and remember. and one event in particular that perhaps he had suppressed, it happened nine years earlier when christopher was just 16. it was the deciding factor in sending him off to samoa. >> susan was going through christopher's room and found a handwritten note planning our murder. >> what did it say? >> well, it talked about killing for insurance. >> a week after a warrant was taken out for his arrest, police found christopher and brought him to the miami dade homicide bureau. there he learned both his alleged co-conspirator garret kopp and his fiance had somehow implicated him. >> i showed him some excerpts out of juliet driscoll's statements saying i knew it was going to happen, i just didn't know when. at that point, he immediately
began to sob, put his head on the table and said i'm [ bleep ]. >> but did that mean he was guilty? or merely that he understood the police believed he was guilty. >> he made comments like, there's no magical way i can tell you where to go to find the truth. >> christopher sutton and garret kopp were charged with first degree murder, a possible death penalty case. both pleaded not guilty. and john sutton got busy. he had a mission. two, in fact. one to seek justice, no matter what that might mean for his son, and the other, perhaps even more impossible -- to simply see again. coming up, garret kopp's confession should be enough to put him behind bars, but did prosecutors have enough to convict christopher sutton? >> that was a circumstantial case, extremely circumstantial.
>> when "blind justice" continues. d today: supported nearly 3 million steady jobs across our country... ... scientists, technicians, engineers, machinists... ... adding nearly 400 billion dollars to our economy... we're at work providing power to almost a quarter of our homes and businesses... ... and giving us cleaner rides to work and school... and tomorrow, we could do even more. cleaner, domestic, abundant and creating jobs now. we're america's natural gas. the smarter power, today. learn more at anga.us. i took some steep risks in my teens. i'd never ride without one now. and since my doctor prescribed lipitor, i won't go without it for my high cholesterol and my risk of heart attack. why kid myself? diet and exercise weren't lowering my cholesterol enough. now i'm eating healthier, exercising more, taking lipitor. numbers don't lie. my cholesterol's stayed down. lipitor is fda approved to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients who have heart disease or risk factors for heart disease. it's backed by over 19 years of research.
[ female announcer ] lipitor is not for everyone, including people with liver problems and women who are nursing, pregnant or may become pregnant. you need simple blood tests to check for liver problems. tell your doctor if you are taking other medications, or if you have any muscle pain or weakness. this may be a sign of a rare but serious side effect. [ man ] still love that wind in my face! talk to your doctor. don't kid yourself about the risk of heart attack and stroke. if lipitor's been working for you, stay with it. lipitor may be available for as little as $4 a month with the lipitor co-pay card. terms and conditions apply. learn more at lipitorforyou.com. why does my mouth feel dryer than i remember it to be? there are more people taking more medication, so we see people suffering from dry mouth more so. we may see more cavities, bad breath, oral irritation. a dry mouth sufferer doesn't have to suffer. i would recommend biotene. the enzymes in biotene products help supplement enzymes that are naturally in saliva. biotene helps moisten those areas that have become dry. those that are suffering can certainly benefit from biotene.
>> john sutton had survived gunshot wounds to his head, the death of his wife, and his own son's arrest for murder. and to top it off, he was blind, apparently permanently. >> it still is unbelievable. i mean, it's like a big, bad dream. >> a nightmare from which there was no awakening. but john, if you hadn't noticed by now is a determined man. he had been a champion swimmer in college. now he swam again. now he swam. he had been a skier. he learned to ski blind. he fell in love again. her name is kathy henry. >> how did you meet her? >> blind date.
>> am i supposed to laugh at that line? >> yeah, it's true. >> what has it meant to you to have her with you? >> it's meant a great deal. it's just tremendous. i wish i could see her. >> and he went back to the thing he always has done best. he went back to court to practice law. >> we did not sue for breach of that contract -- >> where his blindness became, not exactly the handicap some opponents seemed to expect. >> i like to put myself down. so i say, you know, poor old blind guy, you know? i'm just trying to do the best i can. and then i would go in and memorize all the citations and let them decide if i know what i'm doing. >> lately, he's been busier than ever. recently won a $9 million judgment for one of his clients. >> i think the blindness is -- i couldn't even imagine. i don't even -- like i can't
even try to think what that would be like. it's heavy. >> memorizing things and going into court. he is a pretty determined guy. >> yeah, he's great. >> but adapting, even successful adapting, using a talking typewriter, for example, wasn't enough for john sutton. as he waited for his son's long-delayed trial, he pursued with something of an obsession, a quest to regain his eyesight. >> most people might have given up by then. can't do anything. live with it. >> not even close. i won't take no for an answer. >> some of the best hospitals in the country, sutton was told there was simply nothing to be done. he would be blind for life. the bullets permanently destroyed his optic nerve. but john had heard about a landmark breakthrough at the harvard affiliated eye research institute in boston where a renowned researcher had successfully regenerated the optic nerve in mice using stem cell therapy and drugs.
huh man trials would be next. >> one step up. >> so in march 2008, almost three years after his son was arrested, sutton and his girlfriend, kathie, were on the cold wet streets of boston, on their way to an appointment. >> so there's a chin rest in front of you. >> first, dr. joseph rizzo at massachusetts eye and ear institute vauted sutton's one intact eye and discovered even though the nerve was destroyed, the rest of the eye theoretically at least could work. >> my son is in jail charged for first degree murder. >> they listened to the awful story how john lost his eyesight. they explained what they were doing here, like growing corneas in a petri dish. working on optic nerve regeneration. john took it all in, amazed. and for the first time since the shooting, he felt a surge of
positive excitement, and a little germ of hope lodged itself in his stubborn mind. and you were thinking maybe they can do it for you? >> i said i'm in the right spot. >> he talked to the leading researchers, working on optic nerve repair. >> have you done any studies with severed optic nerves? >> he peppered them with questions like he was cross examining witnessing. mike gilmore, the president, offered sutton a glimmer of hope. >> we will be able to regenerate an optic nerve. it's not so much of can we, but when can we. >> and it was a good news-bad news sort of day. >> i do not want to mislead you or provide false hopes. >> yes, there might be a cure, but perhaps not for five or ten years or more, quite possibly too late for john sutton. >> how are you doing? >> okay. >> how soon depends on how much funding we can get, how many
scientists we can put behind the problem to solve it. >> so sutton told the schepens doctors he would somehow help make it happen. he wrote checks, he joined the board of directors. >> john sutton. >> he offered himself as a voice of hope for desperate patients. >> even though it may never help himself, as long as he lives, he's okay with that? >> there's a chance that we may not be able to restore his vision. there is a chance, on the other hand, that we may. but if he doesn't get behind it, he does know that we're not going to move it as fast as we could. >> well, it's my pleasure to be here today. as you will hear, i almost didn't make it here today. >> sutton traveled the countries speaking at fundraisers, using his shock and awe presentation to tell his story, complete with his 911 call and news footage. >> the body of susan sutton --
>> i want to flip this tragedy, this catastrophe into a positive. >> meanwhile in miami, it was decision time. the alleged shooter, garret kopp had finally agreed to plead guilty and testify against sutton's son, christopher, in exchange for a 30-year sentence and no death penalty. sutton confronted the killer the day he entered a plea. >> during the next days, months, years, 20 years, 30 years, i want you to think about what you planned and what you did that night. you can be assured that with my blindness every minute of every day that i will not forget you. >> and with that, the murder trial of christopher sutton could begin. and now, florida law again, now prosecutors could use the sworn testimony in court of both the
girlfriend and the hitman. but even with that, the case was, as prosecutor kathleen hope knew all too well, rather weak. >> this was a circumstantial case, extremely circumstantial. really based on motive. >> john sutton wanted the law to convict his son of murder, but was christopher actually guilty? coming up, in court, a killer returns to the scene of the crime. >> what did you do at the end of the hallway? >> see to shoot. >> who did you shoot at first? >> john. >> when "blind justice" continues. [ male announcer ] humana and walmart have teamed up
to bring you a low-priced medicare prescription drug plan. ♪ with the lowest national plan premium... ♪ ...and copays as low as one dollar... ♪ ...saving on medicare prescriptions is easy. ♪ so you're free to focus on the things that really matter. call humana at 1-800-808-4003. or go to walmart.com for details.
if you think even the best bed can only lie there. ask me what it's like when my tempur-pedic moves. talk to someone who owns an adjustable version of the most highly recommended bed in america. ask me about my tempurpedic advanced ergo. ask me about having all the right moves. these are real tempur advanced ergo owners. find one for yourself. try your friends on facebook. see what they have to say unedited. ask me what it's like to get a massage any time you want. tempur-pedic brand owners are more satisfied than owners of any traditional mattress brand. ask me why i'm glad i didn't wait until i'm too old to enjoy this. start asking real owners.
treat yourself to the ultimate sleep experience and save up to $400-during the tempur ergo savings event. plus, visit tempurpedic.com for full details on our 4 years special financing. don't wait-the tempur ergo savings event ends october 16. visit tempurpedic.com now. temur-pedic the most highly recommended bed in america. summertime in miami. pounding heat. unavoidable sun. unavoidable except, of course, inside. and six years inside a cell in the county jail had produced a doughy christopher sutton, by the time his trial began. july, 2010. a son charged with hiring a
hitman who murdered his mother, blinded his father. here he sat most of the time, ignoring the surviving members of his family a scant few feet away. >> i have nothing to say to him. >> melissa sat with her father, their father, in the front seat. the prosecutor told the jury a horror story, the state's version of what happened the night of the murder. >> the man for whom the gunman had signed on to commit a double murder. a man who was intimately familiar with john and susan sutton. that man? their son, christopher sutton. >> then graphic evidence, a crime scene soaked in blood and littered with bullet casings. the medical examiner placed placed knitting needles to show where the shots were placed in
the mother, shot six times. her son took a deep breath, recoiled. but how would the state prove it all? this man was an occasional pot customer, but was shocked when christopher asked him a certain question. >> what did the defendant ask you? >> he asked if i knew any hitmen that would kill his parents? >> what reason or explanation did he give you? >> he said his parents were worth about $500,000 to $1 million. >> worth a lot more, actually. house, insurance, law practice. christopher stood to inherit millions. so was money the motive? or was it the stint at the boot camp in samoa or both. detective belyeu told the jury he tried to find out when he questioned christopher. >> i said did you hate your parents that much? >> and his answer? >> he said you tell me. you just don't know. >> but would that answer the question of guilt or motive? or would she?
>> miss driscoll, come forward and stand in front of the clerk. >> when juliet, his fiance walked up, christopher's eyes welled up. he hadn't seen her in years. now her testimony could send him away for life. >> what did christopher tell you about his patients? >> same thing i had been hearing for six years. >> find somebody to kill them? >> find somebody, they deserved it. >> this wasn't easy for juliet, as she recalled the last time she saw susan sutton the night of the birthday celebration a few hours before she was killed. >> we went over, it was me, chris, john, susan and teddy. we had dinner. >> do you remember that melissa was there or -- >> do you need a minute? >> this might be a good time for a break.
>> that night, whether juliet knew it or not, christopher and his drug dealing hitman garret kopp were already leaving a trail for detectives. a trail of phone calls. 17 in all, one just an hour after the murder as christopher and juliet left the movie theatre that august night. >> the state would call garre garret kopp to the stand. >> and here was the man at the end of that phone. the man who said he did it, garret kopp. 25 years old, short, scruffy. the self-confessed killer shuffled into the courtroom and told a horrifying tale, how christopher instructed him to enter the house by a sliding glass door by the pool, how he made a sketch of the house to garret down a hallway, to john and susan's bedrooms. >> what did you do when you went down the hallway. >> see to shoot. >> who did you shoot first? >> john. >> is that mr. sutton? >> yes. >> where was mr. sutton when you shot at him initially? >> on the bed. >> what did you see mr. sutton
do when you shot him? >> flip off the bed. >> after you fired at mr. sutton, what did you do? >> proceeded to shoot in the other room. >> and who was the person with whom you were in a plan to shoot john and susan sutton? >> chris sutton. >> and what do you remember the defendant telling you about how much money you might expect to get? >> upwards of $100,000. >> until this moment, john sutton had been a spectator at his son's trial. his thoughts and feelings his own. but he was a victim, too. staying out of it wasn't an option for him. now came the moment he both dreaded and demanded. he testified against his own son. first about the night his world went dark. >> the only thing i saw was for an instant, a snap. i didn't even see the gun. but in an instant, bam. and then the next thing you knew, i woke up and i was on the floor.
>> john sutton answered the questions as if the defendant sitting before him was a man he had never met, as if this was not the boy he had raised from birth. neither father nor son displayed the slightest emotion. it doesn't make any sense to get on the witness stand and cry in front of the jury. it can cause a mistrial. so i dealt with it. i did what i had to do. >> so he did. but was he right about his son? did the state really have the puzzle solved? or had its key witness been forced to lie? coming up. now it was the defense's turn. and christopher's old girlfriend, one of the prosecution's star witnesses against him had a new story to tell. about how she was threatened by police. >> they told me if they didn't hear what they wanted to hear that they were going to arrest me instead.
>> what would that do to the prosecution's case? when "blind justice" continues. we know a place where tossing and turning have given way to sleeping. where sleepless nights yield to restful sleep. and lunesta can help you get there, like it has for so many people before. when taking lunesta, don't drive or operate machinery until you feel fully awake. walking, eating, driving, or engaging in other activities while asleep, without remembering it the next day, have been reported.
abnormal behaviors may include aggressiveness, agitation, hallucinations or confusion. in depressed patients, worsening of depression, including risk of suicide, may occur. alcohol may increase these risks. allergic reactions, such as tongue or throat swelling, occur rarely and may be fatal. side effects may include unpleasant taste, headache, dizziness and morning drowsiness. ask your doctor if lunesta is right for you. then get lunesta for $0 at lunesta.com. there's a land of restful sleep. we can help you go there on the wings of lunesta.
msnbc news now. i'm lori wilson. new york's occupy wall street protests have gone global with violent results oversea es. in italy, police used tear gas and water blasts when they turned over and set cars on fire. newt ginge griffith is $1.1 million in daebt, the largest debt for the. >> reporter: nomination. now, back to "blind justice." it takes a special sort of skill to defend a man facing a charge with first degree murder.
and in miami, bruce fleisher has the skill better than anyone. but what he could tell right away, knew it long before the trial is that the scene in that courtroom was about as bad as any could be. there they were, feet apart, his client and the blind father, the survivor of the christopher sutton's alleged plot to kill his parents. >> the fact that john sutton survived and was blind to me was the greatest prejudice in the case. >> and there he was, behind the bar the whole time. >> the jury would hear something bad and they would look over to john sutton. they had to be thinking, poor man, look what he has to go through life with. >> for the victim, fleisher knew he must show only sympathy. so instead he would attack the murder investigation itself. the way the police came up with their two star witnesses, juliet driscoll and garret kopp. after all, without them, the state's case was weak. why do you suppose they came forward anyway?
because they were forced to, or so reasoned fleisher. juliet driscoll, for example, why did she tell police christopher talked about killing his parents. >> they eventually tell her, if you don't tell us what we want to know, you're going to be arrested in this murder conspiracy. and what does she do? she tells them what they want to know. >> if you would please have a seat over here. >> in fact, the defense got juliet to admit they wouldn't have that if they didn't threaten her. >> they told me that if they didn't hear what they wanted to hear, they were going to arrest me instead. they threw my purse across the room, they slammed their hands on the desks. >> did they tell you it was going to be first degree murder? >> they told me they were going to arrest me for murder. >> and you eventually told them what they wanted to hear.
>> after 13 hours, yes. >> before christopher were arrested, the two planned a wedding and honeymoon in samoa, of all places, which begged the question. >> if he was going to take the lives of his parents, why would you stay with him and why would you marry him? >> i can't think of so many times, oh, my god, i hate somebody so much i could kill them right now. and when you hear it for six straight years, you just don't believe it. >> and finally juliet testified detectives lied when they said she said i knew he was going to do it i didn't know when. >> i'm still confused by the whole matter. i don't know if he did it or not. nobody knows what really happened except for him and garret. >> thank you. >> that's what i've been saying. >> so why not just play a tape? of the interrogation?
well, they couldn't. the police didn't record a word of their long talk with juliet driscoll. >> she said certainly he said those things. but whether he did it or not is up in the air as far as i'm concerned. >> i think that gives rise to a major reasonable doubt in this case. >> but remember, garret kopp, the confessed shooter testified that he was merely christopher's puppet on a string when he killed susan and tried to kill john. how do you get a jury to doubt a statement like that? >> we now had to go after him with hammer and tongs. >> oh, and he did. fleisher went after garret and the cops. >> every time you denied being involved in this, they got aggressive with you, didn't they? >> somewhat. they got pushy a little bit. >> got pushy. you mean they walked over to you and pushed you in the shoulder? >> leaned into my face.
>> did they touch you? >> leaned up against me. >> like this? >> yeah. >> when they got close like this, what did they say, garrett, garrett. >> something like that. >> you need to tell us something, garret, because we're going to fry your ass in the electric chair. >> excuse me, excuse me, mr. fleisher. >> is that an objection? >> that's on an objection. >> okay. is that what they said to you? >> something like that. i'm going down for murder. >> you're going down for murder. >> i'm going to get the death penalty. >> you're going to get the death penalty. >> what finally made you give them some information? >> saying that juliet was confessing in the other room. they told me i was going to go to jail for murder already. so i ended up confessing. >> there was no doubt that kopp committed the murder, but maybe the case against christopher wasn't quite so watertight after all. maybe christopher himself could set the record straight.
>> we're calling chris sutton. would jurors listen? coming up -- >> he went to get the drugs, he found the sutton's home and they could recognize him. he panicked, he was in a drug stupor and he shot them both. >> when "blind justice" continues. [ telephone rings ] aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa auto repair? gary... he hung up. ...why do we have so many a's in our name? so we're listed first in the phone book. ya know, gives us an edge. you know fedex can, give us an edge. how? well, fedex ships auto parts from factories around the world, they clear em through customs, and that'll help us fix cars faster. great idea. you know you got a bright future here at aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa... [ male announcer ] supply chain solutions. fedex. solutions that matter. [ male announcer ] supply chain solutions.
[ jim ] i need to push out a software upgrade. build a new app for the sales team in beijing. and convince the c.e.o. his email will find him... wherever he is. i need to see my family while they're still awake. [ male announcer ] with global services from dell, jim can address his company's i.t. needs through custom built applications, cloud solutions and ongoing support in over 100 countries. so his company sees results. and jim sees his family. dell. the power to do more. it's the potential to turn plans into projects and rooms into remodels.
it's the freedom to turn a single lithium battery into hours of doing. with guaranteed low prices on the names we know and friends in orange with all we need to know, let's unleash the raw power of possibility. more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot. get a free ridgid hyper-lithium battery worth up to 99 bucks with select ridgid cordless tools.
actually prove things or disprove things was by him testifying. >> the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? >> i do. >> how would he convey his innocence? first, by describing his hospital vigil, a concerned son on the night of the shooting. >> did he acknowledge that you were there? >> yeah, he could squeeze your hand, but he couldn't speak. >> how did you feel when you saw your father at the ryder trauma center? >> shocked, hurt, worried, scared. >> not that christopher claimed to be a perfect son. in fact, he told the jury he was a drug dealer. garret kopp was one of his best customers but had good reason to turn on him. why? because years earlier, christopher said, he turned police informant to get drug charges dropped. and who did he finger? garret kopp. >> what happened, if anything, with your relationship with
garret kopp after he was arrested. >> i didn't speak to him for a while. or he didn't speak to me, i should say, for a while. >> was he mad at you? >> so was it payback time now? yes, says christopher, it must have been. thus, his theory of the murder. he says he didn't have anything to do with it. he told the jury, he never asked kopp to kill his parents. kopp made it all up. the police had it all wrong. what really happened was that kopp stormed into the house that night to steal christopher's hidden stash. boxes full of drugs. >> how much marijuana did you store in these boxes? >> in the top box, about two pounds. >> and what was the value of that? >> $7,000. >> in fact, the day of the murder, said christopher, a hopped up kopp, called him again an again, desperate to buy drugs. christopher told him between his mother's birthday party and the movie that night, he couldn't do it.
>> why did you tell him you couldn't get the drugs? >> i told him i left it in my room in my parents' house. >> and that gave kopp the idea where to go to get the drugs. >> but that still doesn't explain why he would in cold blood murder or attempt to murder these two people. >> he went to get the drugs, he found the sutton's home. they could recognize him. he panicked, he was in a drug stupor and he shot them both. >> so if you were garret kopp, wouldn't you try to implicate the man who turned you into police? but here's the thing, said christopher. he could understand kopp turning on him. but juliet, his own fiance. when he heard what she told police, he broke down in tears, not because of what she said but why she must have said it. >> as soon as he started reading parts of juliet's statement, yeah, i started crying. >> and why were you crying? >> objection.
>> overruled. >> because the woman i was going to marry in five weeks lied to save herself. >> how could he defend himself against lies when the police interrogator kept accusing him of murder. >> i told him he's not going to believe anything i say and he would try to twist my words to try to use them against me, like he did with juliet. because there's no proof that i did anything because i know i didn't do anything. >> so there it was. another theory for the jury to consider. but there was one more thing the defense had to do, if possible. knock down the allegation that his banishment to samoa had given him a motive to kill his parents. but what you're about to see, as christopher described the program, probably wasn't in the defense strategy. >> a level two is allowed to go to the bathroom on his own, is allowed to have some more privileges. and then --
>> something in the memories on that island struck a nerve. >> how were you feeling physically during that time? >> i was what they called in denial. >> do you need a break? >> yeah. >> strange. stoic for the rest of his testimony, yet in the process of trying to dismiss samoa as a murder motive, he cried about his experience there. so revealing? attorney fleisher put the best spin on it he could. >> i think that showed his honesty as a witness. >> i cried when i got off the plane. >> when court resumed, christopher told the jury, while he was initially upset about being sent to samoa, he got over it, made the best of it. and when his parents and melissa came to visit, they all had a wonderful time together. hardly a dysfunctional family in the story the photos told. >> were you happy to be with
your parents? >> i was very, very happy to see my parents. i love them very much. >> so he had given the jury an alternative. he tried, at least, to defuse the samoa motive. enough? not nearly said the prosecutor. >> what motive did garret kopp have to go in and attempt to assassinate both those people? none. what motive did christopher sutton have to want both of his parents dead? plenty. >> and what's the story here? they have the statement of garret kopp, the drug crazed little thug who gives this story to save himself from the death penalty, and the coerced statement of juliet driscoll. where's the evidence in this case? what do they have? nothing. >> seven men, five women on the jury. and real doubt in the air. >> when he first started saying his testimony, he put doubt in my mind.
>> coming up, the jury speaks. >> we the jury -- >> and so does christopher sutton. >> i'm sure i could have been a better guy. >> as his father hopes for a miracle. when "blind justice" continues. [ female announcer ] the road is not exactly a place of intelligence. ♪ across the nation over 100,000 miles
of highways and bridges are in disrepair. add to that, countless distractions every mile... ♪ ...millions of ill-equipped vehicles... ♪ ...half a million cubic yards of debris... and the 38 million drivers who couldn't pass the driver's exam today. [ horn blares ] even if road signs actually did make sense. this is why we engineered a car that analyzes real time information, reads your handwriting and makes 2000 decisions every second. ♪ the new audi a6 is here. the road is now an intelligent place. ♪ ♪ [ male announcer ] with 50 horsepower, dual overhead cams and fierce acceleration,
>> now you may deliberate. all rise. >> not an easy task these people were given. did christopher sutton mastermind a plan to kill his own parents? >> we battled for a while. >> who knew those 12 were butting heads all day in the jury room, and split down the middle. after seven hours they went home. it was mostly garret kopp they had trouble with. how could they believe a cold blooded hitman who rats on a friend to save his own skin. >> he's making a deal because he doesn't want to go to the death penalty. >> which would mean what?
you can't really believe what he said because he's an opportunist? >> yeah, to save himself. >> the next day they tried again. ten hours went by. sweat in the air conditioned hallway. a deadlock? then at 7:00 p.m., two words set the halls abuzz. a verdict. john and melissa sutton took their seats in the front row. christopher sutton stood stone faced. as jurors filed in. were those tears from some members of the jury? judge stanford blake read the verdict. >> we the jury find the defendant christopher patrick sutton as to count one, guilty of first degree murder as charged in the indict. >> guilty. with that, christopher's head snapped back as if he had been struck. >> as to count three, guilty of
attempted first degree felony murder. >> melissa wept. her father, their father, locked his jaw, stared ahead, be imme. john sutton was offered time to speak and years of stoic resolve crumbled. >> regardless of the result, this is a bad case. we are now -- we're now at five years 11 months. i lost susan. i lost christopher long before that. >> christopher did not look at
his father. had he done so he would not have seen tears. the bullets that tore into his head left john sutton unable to cry. >> i lost my eyesight. >> how was it in that courtroom? >> it needs to be over. >> raw, personal. here's the judge. >> it's ironic for me. i have a son who was born the exact same day as christopher sutt sutton. remember the joy of bringing my son home just like mr. sutton had, so at this time as to count one, mr. sutton, the court imposes a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. >> and that was that. barring a successful appeal, christopher sutton will die in prison. a result he found so shocking he decided he needed to explain that they got it so very wrong.
>> the verdict did seem to be a big surprise. >> yeah. i definitely wasn't expecting to be found guilty. i mean, i was shocked, you know, like to know you didn't do something but yet to have people feel you did, you know. >> the words fairly gushed from his mouth as if there just wasn't time to say everything that needed to be said. >> i mean, like a lot of this comes down to there's me and there's garret and then everybody else is just kind of talking about you know what i did years before or maybe after or, you know, even julia said that. the only people that could know anything are christopher and garret. >> this idea he would break in looking for drugs. >> yeah, absolutely. >> you wouldn't have drugs there. >> i had stuff in my bedroom still that i was moving out and in of that room. garret kopp helped me move some of that stuff. >> christopher said when garret kopp decided to plead guilty and testify against him he knew jurors would have to weigh two versions of the truth. but christopher says garret's version of the story had one goal in mind -- to save himself
from the death penalty. >> you're sitting in jail waiting for trial. >> absolutely. >> must have thrown you for quite a loop. >> absolutely. i knew he was lying from the beginning because once i read the statement i knew if he was going to implicate me in any way it's a lie because i knew i didn't do anything or have anything to do with it so, then, you know, like it didn't surprise me that he lied yet again, that he changed his story to be more cohesive to what the state needed. that didn't surprise me. the whole thing of being in jail based on one man's word is, you know, shocking. it doesn't seem like that should be possible you need some water? >> no. i'm okay. >> the jury told us christopher's tears on the witness stand when he talked about samoa made some of them believe his incarceration there on the island was a motive for murder. >> you seemed kind of broken up talking about the camp but not so broken up when you talked about your parents' death. >> when i initially talked about it i would cry a lot. it would be really hard. the program, i've done my best to seal that away and forget about it.
>> all of a sudden boom. >> that was the first time i had sat there in a long time and been like, wow, what really did happen there? >> a lot of this goes back to the whole question of whether you were super angry at your parents and that was the way it was portrayed. >> absolutely. >> how bad was that? >> it's kind of a tale of two programs. at the beginning, horrible. then once americans got brought in, more kids got sent home and told their parents it backed off and went from more of a boot camp setting to a, you know, i wouldn't say daycare setting but more like rigid structure. >> did you hate it? >> yeah. i would definitely say that. >> we still have these photographs of you and your family there when they went to visit. i don't know. it looked like there was some real affection there. >> yeah. definitely. i definitely love my parents and my sister and we always -- the family's always great. >> great? so he says.
yet there was testimony from his girlfriend julia driscoll that christopher talked constantly about killing his parents. the narrative is this troubled boy gets more and more troubled as time goes by. there is nothing they can do with him. they have to send him somewhere and then he comes back with a motive to kill them and then tells people frequently that he's going to kill them. or that he'd like them to be dead or something like that. >> not frequently. the only person that ever said that was julia. >> did she tell you what she told me? >> absolutely. she's like they're pushing that it's you. i had to say something or i was going to go to jail. i had no way out. i'm so sorry. please, you know, don't be mad at me, you know, like i had to lie. >> and when christopher took the stand, said the jurors, he did not help his case. christopher on the other hand said he had no choice. he had to do it. you know, i've been told by some
people that it's really a dangerous thing for a person to testify on his own behalf. do you worry about putting yourself at risk by testifying? >> i'm of the belief that anyone who is innocent being accused of a crime, i mean, would have the compulsion to get up there and testify regardless of the ramifications. >> it's a natural thing. still -- >> that's the way it is. >> a mine field. >> that's the way i thought. one of those things like i'm not worried about getting tripped up. i know the truth and i'm going to get up and speak the truth. i'm not going to have three stories like eric. i'll have the truth and my story and i can give 50 interviews or cross examinations and nothing will change. the truth is the truth. >> how do you feel about your dad now? >> i'm devastated that he said things against me or bad but my dad turning on me in hard times isn't anything new. >> and then he talked about his circumstances. his fate. and his self-control abandoned him. the way it's set right now this is home.
you'll never get out. >> well, at some point in time i mean like if you have, if you have integrity inside yourself you have to stand up for what you believe even if your life is on the line. >> how does that feel? >> it's hard. it's hard to know i'm going to go to jail for something i didn't do. you know, i'm not going to sit here and deny that i had problems with my parents or that any of that stuff happened. that's why i wanted to get up there and explain to the people that, you know, it's like i might not be the best person. sure i could have been a better guy, you know, but i was trying and i didn't have anything to do with this. i didn't create the system. i'm just stuck in it. >> trapped. >> that's why i'll fight all the way to the end. i mean, like i'm innocent and i'll maintain my innocence. >> now show me. >> john sutton still remembers the suit he wore when he brought christopher home from the hospital. and now it's come to this. what about christopher?
do you still think of him as your son? >> i guess technically he is, but some day i may go see him and confront him and say, what were you thinking of? you know, what a stupid criminal ridiculous crazy thing all of this was. >> reconciling if it ever comes is a long, long way. >> that ain't happening. no way. no way. >> christopher, wake up! >> it's complicated, says melissa. ridiculously difficult. but what choice does she have? >> i have a brother, you know? i'm not going to ignore that fact, you know. >> a brother who blew up your whole family. >> but in that same picture i have a mom who passed away, a brother who's in jail, a dad who's blind. that's my family and that's kind of what it is. but at the same time, you know,
i believed he did what he did and i have no intention of ever speaking with him again. >> so life goes on. melissa is a media planner for a major cable network in new york now. the detectives retired from the force. he adopted a little boy just like john sutton did all those years ago and john sutton pursues his dream to see again. are you prepared or has it sunk in that you're going to be blind for the rest of your life? >> well, that's not my plan. i may not be that smart, but, boy, i'm motivated. >> i mean, the enthusiasm coming out of you is kind of inspirational. >> i'm ready to roll. i got plans for this eyesight. >> and for more on this story go to "dateline.msnbc.com." and that's all for