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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  October 7, 2017 1:00am-2:01am PDT

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>> almost like praying. good to see you. >> good to see you. thanks. so many outlets to buy almost like praying. that is "all in" for this evening. 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. 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 he was having an affair. >> was it money? >> nobody really knows what happened except for him and garrett. >> or was the truth hidden here
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on this tropical paradise. >> it was an assassination, a hit. no question. >> reporter: it was august hot in coral gables. the air was shirt-sticking thick as night fell. the small, damp breeze pushed weakly at limp palm fronds. in the artificial kula john sutton's house, an intimate party was winding down early. it was susan sutton's birthday, attending his son, 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. were you two close? >> extremely.
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that's my best friend. >> reporter: 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 put it, leave it at that. >> reporter: the guests laughed. the law partner went home. son christopher and his girlfriend went 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 the police at my house. i have just been assaulted. >> what happened, sir. >> somebody came in and shot me. >> shot you? 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 face. >> john sutton, tough as nail, take no prisoners lawyer was
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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. >> where is she? >> i don't know. >> somehow he made it out the front door on his own. he was met by a paramedic. >> he had holes in his head, in his face. i couldn't believe how mr. sutton made it out of the house walking to us. >> reporter: they stabilized sutton. rushed him off in an ambulance. an hour north of sutton's home, homicide detective, larry belview was getting home. >> i was pulling into nigh driveway. he was critically injure called 911. he made his way to the door. >> they didn't want to go in ton till he came out. >> there was no way of knowing if the persons involved were still inside. they backed off until the s.w.a.t. team arrived and maiden tree into the house. >> reporter: not knowing if the gunman was still in the house.
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s.w.a.t. teams cleared the house room by room, 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. >> reporter: miami-dade prosecutor karen keagan was on homicide duty that night and 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. 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. >> reporter: susan sutton was dead. a bloody phone beside her. she must have dropped it as she pulled up the covers in her vain attempt to hide from her killer. house secured, no shooter around the s.w.a.t. team withdrew. a dispatcher warned the detective this may be the deadly result of a domestic dispute. sutton's 911 call an perhaps an attempt to cover up what he had done.
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>> when i got the phone call and said there was a murder/suicide down in coral gables. we heard that the husband was en route to the trauma center. and in critical condition. >> reporter: en route with two bullet wounds to his head. had sutton killed his wife and turned the gun on himself. no, that theory was quickly dismissed when the paramedic put out a report. >> he can't provide any info. >> he had wounds to his hands which would make it clear like it was defense type wounds that somebody else must have shot him. he put his hands up. >> reporter: obviously. first clue. >> this is not murder/suicide. >> reporter: who or why would anyone want to harm john or susan sutton? the suttons had lived exemplarily 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.
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his law practice, susan worked as office manager was booming. just that week he 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 near the rear of the house, near the pool, the door latch showed it had been broken long before the night. >> the killer had gone in through the sliding glass door, had walked all the way through that house, no ransacking. drawers were not opened. and 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. >> reporter: no. >> it was apparent they were targeted it was an assassination, it was a hit. >> reporter: an assassination? a hit? that sort of crime just didn't happen in staid coral gables.
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whatever the motive there was little to go on no motive, murder weapon, 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 and bullets ripping through the silence of that steamy august night. but who? and 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. >> reporter: which is a red flag. >> yes. >> reporter: when "blind justice" continues.
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>> reporter: an august morning, 2004, melissa sutton, 19 years old awoke to her new college dorm life in southern florida,
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unaware of what happened to her parents the night before unaware that her mother was dead unaware doctors were fighting to save her life. >> reporter: who told you and how? >> i actually got a call from a friend who, said i hope your dad is going to be okay? i just went what? like, maybe, he had a heart attack or something. >> reporter: just out of the blue? >> out of the blue. >> reporter: frantically, melissa called every number she could back home. >> i called my mom, she didn't answer. i called teddy, my dad's partner, extremely close family friend. and he didn't answer. i called my brother, he said he couldn't talk right now. >> reporter: were you frantic in the sense that you knew something bad happened? >> i didn't know what. i didn't know what level. >> reporter: eventually melissa reached montodo who reluctantly broke the news to her on the phone. he brought her back to miami and
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the hospital where her father was in intensive care. her brother, christopher, had already arrived. both of them were reeling from 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. >> reporter: pretty touch and go wasn't it? >> to say gruesome is, if i didn't know his hands and know little intricate pieces of him you wouldn't have known it was him. >> reporter: you faced the shocking prospect of becoming an orphan. >> i don't think that ever crossed my mind. he was still alive. >> reporter: melissa wondered -- why her parents? who could have done this? investigators describing it as a hit. >> reporter: did you have any idea? >> teddy told me what happened. i didn't know who, i thought it was some sort of break in. was my first instinct. that's what i thought for a long
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time until we started talking about my dad's clients. >> reporter: the 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 are looking at maybe, incidents in his law firm, he may have had made people angry. >> reporter: civil attorneys take a lot of money from people and make people mad. >> i said find out if any of these people had reason for revenge. >> reporter: john sutton ran his law firm like 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 threat tuned shoot up john's firm. and the very night of the murder, the neighbor heard a boat roaring down the canal
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behind john's boat over here and it turned out that that woman owned such a boat. >> she was interviewed down the line also, and she was not the person responsible. >> reporter: what about the phone call susan was on when she was shot to death. detectives found the bloodstained 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 montodo had shown up at the house even before the first reports of the 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 maybe gunshots he didn't know. >> reporter: at least that's what he told the police. depending on the all. truth in his statement he could be a suspect. >> absolutely. >> reporter: 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.
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i call him my godfather pretty much. like a relative. >> reporter: police were suspicious. why had montodo arrived so quickly after the shooting? why was he armed with a handgun? they had a to questions and perhaps more importantly, 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. >> reporter: how did he do? >> he passed on certain information but showed he was deceptive in others. >> reporter: a red flag. >> yes. >> reporter: a red flag this early in the investigation, what exactly did the law partner 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?
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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 who ever did this could not finish off what they had started. >> reporter: well was the killer already closer than anyone could have dreamed? when "dateline" continues.
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>> reporter: susan sutton was dead, shot five times by a killer who invaded her birthday party. her husband, john, an attorney had been shot in the head twice in critical condition at a miami hospital undergoing surgery to save his life. 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. >> eddie montodo told police he had been on the phone. heard gunfire. rushed over to the sutton home with a gun of his own to try to help. they gave montodo a polygraph. it showed he had been deceptive. hiding something. >> what we learned was that he was having an affair with mrs. sutton. >> reporter: so montodo hadn't been straight with them or good friend and partner john sutton.
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but was he off the hook for murder? well, maybe. maybe not. when they checked phone records it appeared montodo was still being deceptive. he told them the affair had been recent and brief. that's not what the phone records said. did he 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 he was involved in the incident? >> again early in the investigation. a lot of investigating to do. >> reporter: and mostly, 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. and until now all they heard from sutton was this. >> are you bleeding? do you see any blood? >> i am bleeding all over, yes.
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i can't see. >> reporter: 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. >> reporter: 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. >> reporter: it would be nice to look into his eyes and know he can see back and see you.
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>> it is different. different to look at some one who is blind. a different expression. >> reporter: for a long type, 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. >> reporter: 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. >> reporter: 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
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hat or visor, black shirt, black pants. face shaded by the visor. and open fired. all i really remember was one bang. >> reporter: 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. >> reporter: how did you find out about susan? >> at some point, i asked melissa, how is mom doing? and melissa said she is 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. >> reporter: in fact for weeks and weeks, sutton drifted in and out, depended on others to save him. >> of course, my son was there. a bunch of my friends were there. i had multiple surgeries in that hospital.
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>> reporter: as he lay in that bed, sedated, medicated, breathing through tubes, a thought, 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 call the police. you know? everything i could say to get some assistance. >> reporter: he was wrong. there was no killer. still, christopher demanded the hospital take special precautions. >> i do recall him as very adamant that -- that my dad be placed under john doe so that who ever did this could not find him. and finish off what they had started. >> reporter: so you were a pretty paranoid guy lying there? >> most certainly. >> reporter: and with good reason. because the killer was still out there. and knew exactly where john sutton was.
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but unfortunately, police had no idea where the killer was. >> everyone is somewhat a suspect. you start with the family. you keep working your way out. >> reporter: when "blind justice" continues.
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>> reporter: the fact that john sutton was alive at all after the mystery invader killed his
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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 montodo. >> it is upsetting. i am not excusing teddy, i'm not excusing anybody. i don't focus on that. i can't change it. can't change any of it is a bad dream. >> reporter: then the dream got worse. teddy was a possible murder suspect. >> one of the homicides detectives related to me there has been a problem with the polygraph. >> reporter: he was actually a suspect. >> i suspect so. anybody that probably was anywhere near me was a suspect. >> reporter: but as sutton was absorbing the news of his wife's apparent betrayal. montodo 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.
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records confirmed he actually called the police before rushing to the sutton house. so, as detectives eliminated early suspects like montodo. they went back to the basics of every homicide investigation. >> everyone is somewhat a suspect. you know you start with the family. and you keep working your way out. >> reporter: family. john and susan met on a blind date, were married a year later. from the beginning, 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 want aid baby she want aid baby more than anyone in the world. >> reporter: if wishing couldn't make susan pregnant, said her sister mary, it could make her a mother by adoption. >> she got her wish. as i said the happiest day of her life when she brought christopher home.
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>> reporter: 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, about 2 days old, very cute, was a lot of fun. >> reporter: a happy time. >> absolutely. >> reporter: susan equipment her job to be a full time mom. but susan kept trying to get pregnant. after suffering through years of failed fertility treatments and miscarriages. and 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. >> reporter: which seemed to describe the family too.
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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, you know, these are my biological and these are my adopted. i had a great childhood. >> reporter: there were advantages to having a brother seven years older especially when he grew to be a 6-foot, 200-pounder. >> he was my defender and protector. someone made fun of me at school one time. he came and kind of give the kid a stern look, what a big older brother did. and you know, i think he was protective of me. >> reporter: after the murder, in fact, 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. >> reporter: oh, my gosh. >> and i was then and i am still proud that she managed to stay in school. >> reporter: during a long, arduous recovery, the many surgeries, lingering fear, a
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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. i think i do the same thing. and if you were to break down emotionally all the time or -- dwell on what happened you wouldn't get out of bed. >> reporter: 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 there 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. that's where i went. >> reporter: a full time nurse looked after him during the day. christopher and his girlfriend juliet driscoll were there for him the rest of the time. and three months after the august shootings when john decided he was ready to go home
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to the house in which the shooting happened, christopher went with him. eyes for his blind father. >> and at that point he was more involved in driving me around or some care giving. >> reporter: but now it was almost christmas. still no arrests. the detectives were certainly following up leads trying to find anyone with a motive to kill the suttons. oh, understand the digging they were doing was mostly in mounds of dry 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 doosie. >> he is sitting across from me and i look at him. i go, al we got something here. >> reporter: a phone call from a killer when "dateline" continues.
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>> reporter: there is a reason of course why parents worry about the company their children keep. it was months after john sutton lost his wife and eyesight to an intruder with a handgun. detectives were planning their way through interview transcripts, tips, e-mails, and phone records. anything to narrow down their list of suspects. and in the pile of material from a phone company, they came across a name. >> we isolated within a three,
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four hour period of the murder, five or six different names. and one of those came back to garrett kopp. >> reporter: who were they talking to? >> on the 22nd there was probably, i want to say maybe, 13 phone calls, if memory serves me right. they were made between garrett kopp and chris sutton's phone calls. >> a lot of calls. >> reporter: lots of calls. on the day of the murder. quite probably meant nothing at all, of course. still. garrett kopp was 20. a visitor around the sutton house. didn't seem to hatch a job or any direction in life. but 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. >> reporter: what sort of person did he seem like? >> when garrett was in the house, he was always, shall we say at a distance.
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i honestly cannot recall any conversations whatsoever with garrett. >> reporter: but kopp and christopher called each other all the time. even the night of the murder. an hour after the murder. just when christopher and juliet were coming out of the movie. >> we pulled the video from the amc movie theater. it showed him getting right on the cellular telephone right after all the shooting happened. >> reporter: was there a connection here with what happened? again, probably not. but, just to cover all the bases detectives ran a criminal background check on young mr. kopp. and what do you know? >> he was arrested on august 23rd. >> reporter: the day after the shooting. >> the day after the shooting. i still get goose bumps when i remember that. because, he is sitting across from me. i look at him and i go, we got something here. >> reporter: indeed they did. one day after the murder, garrett kopp was arrested for
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aggravated assault after an altercation at this apartment complex. a big no-no. he pulled a gun on a couple guys. happened in homestead, florida, about 30 miles away from the crime scene. detective bellevue called homestead police department and talked to the arresting officer. >> please tell me it was a handgun? >> he said it was. >> tell me it was a glock 9 mill meter. >> he goes it was. >> now please tell you have that weapon? >> he goes, i do. >> reporter: bingo. >> we got to get that gun. >> reporter: yeah. >> art went down and picked up the gun. we submitted it to the firearms tech. >> reporter: 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. >> reporter: but detectives did not rush out and arrest kopp. for a simple but very important
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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. he said do you want to see the tickets. >> reporter: just had them right there like that? >> basically to me, red flag there. i want to prove i'm at the movies. >> reporter: or, 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 the pieces of the puzzles we are putting together. >> we can't prove it yet. >> reporter: like for exam pull, this big tantalizing piece of the puzzle right here. what in heavens name might an
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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. >> reporter: when "blind justice" continues. grew into a free-wheeling kid... loved every step of fatherhood... and made old cars good as new. but i couldn't bear my diabetic nerve pain any longer. so i talked to my doctor and he prescribed lyrica. nerve damage from diabetes causes diabetic nerve pain. lyrica is fda approved to treat this pain, from moderate to even severe diabetic nerve pain. lyrica may cause serious allergic reactions, suicidal thoughts or actions. tell your doctor right away if you have these, new or worse depression, unusual changes in mood or behavior, swelling, trouble breathing,
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rash, hives, blisters, muscle pain with fever, tired feeling or blurry vision. common side effects: dizziness, sleepiness, weight gain, swelling of hands, legs, and feet. don't drink alcohol while taking lyrica. don't drive or use machinery until you know how lyrica affects you. those who've had a drug or alcohol problem may be more likely to misuse lyrica. now i have less diabetic nerve pain. and i love smoothing the road ahead for others. ask your doctor about lyrica.
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>> reporter: amazing what the 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 called christopher right after the shooting. so, now the complexion of the investigation changed.
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>> trying to think why would garrett kopp do this? i mean he is like 20-year-old kid. obviously there is a tie with christopher sutton and him. >> reporter: 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. >> reporter: 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. >> reporter: it got worse as christopher got older. did he get into trouble? >> absolutely. there was vandalism, not only of our own things. there were vandalism of other people's property. >> reporter: they sent him off to boarding schools then.
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but he didn't last at any of them. failed, got kicked out. of course, the whole family tried, said his sister melissa. the trouble wasn't the lack of love. not at all. was there a sense that christopher was loved? >> oh, no doubt about it. >> reporter: 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 and, as well as a parent, you know what do we do? >> reporter: 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.
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behavior modification their specialty. it is a long way away, samoa. was that part of it? that it would be a good idea to have him far away for a while? >> we weren't focused on finding the farthest place we could send him. we were very hesitant about samoa. we investigated it rather thoroughly. >> reporter: it was expensive. paradise cove charged $25,000 a year. but -- >> we just had enough. what else could be do? >> reporter: the suttons knew there was no way christopher would agree to go on his own. 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. 17 years old. >> reporter: they kidnapped him. put him on a plane. he was sent to samoa. >> reporter: but christopher could not break so easily. and paradise cove was no paradise.
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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 hogtied, beaten. >> reporter: when his family was allowed to visit him a year later they did seem to beep a distinct change. a huge improvement. they found the buff, cleaned up young man who excelled at sports. it was, as you can clearly see, a happy family reunion. >> the is was really happy event. we cried. we hugged. we said, you know, our hellos, and loved each other, and he was proud of, you know what he had learned and showed off at least to us. >> reporter: 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
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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 are going to stay. which infuriated christopher sutton. >> reporter: why did you decide to keep him there when he turned 18? >> we had concerns he wasn't ready to return. he had not "graduated the program." >> reporter: how did he feel about that? >> he was quite upset. >> reporter: he wanted to come home. >> he wanted things his way. he always wanted things his way. >> reporter: this time, finally, tough love seemed to work. christopher was 19 and a changed man when he returned from his protracted stay in samoa. >> we met him at the airport, at l.a.x., on his birthday, april 13. >> reporter: he was happy to see you? >> absolutely. >> reporter: there was a joyous reunion? >> thrilled. >> reporter: the suttons went on a family cruise, a reward for their son. that's where he met his future fiancee, a young woman from boston, jewel yet driscoll. juliette moved and became a
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member of the family. john sutton got her a job at his law firm. >> she was what i would imagine if somebody was going to marry into the family. my mother embraced her. she was a great influence on my brother and the family. >> reporter: 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 arrests to drugs, you know, this is good behavior. we were all happy that things were better. >> reporter: anyway by the time of the murder, christopher was 26. and samoa had receded into his distant past. >> i interviewed melissa in the very beginning. all she knew about her brother was he was a little rebellious as most teenagers are at that age.
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>> i think i said something along the lines, no, i don't know any reason why he would want to do this. >> reporter: a belief her father shared. >> i asked him early on. when he was able to talk at jackson hospital. could your son have something to do with this? he said i don't believe so. >> reporter: perhaps garrett kopp act add loan. but detectives were convinced christopher had to be mixed up in the awful shooting somehow. someone must know. and they were right. someone did. coming up -- john sutton survived two bullets to the head. could he survive being home alone with his son? >> christopher made comments that his parents were going to pay. >> reporter: when "dateline" continues. steve chooses to walk 26.2 miles, that's a marathon. and he does it with dr. scholl's. only dr. scholl's has massaging gel insoles that provide all-day comfort to keep him feeling more energized. dr. scholl's. born to move.
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>> reporter: miami homicide detectives larry bellevue and art manney had a problem they were afraid the man who shot sutton was a frequent visitor at the sutton home. and they at least suspected the sutton's own son, now john's care giver was all mixed up in it somehow. >> i was becoming more concerned. >> reporter: 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
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actually living with his son christopher and being cared for by christopher. >> sure. >> reporter: 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 there? >> absolutely. again we still didn't want to tip our hand. >> reporter: should christopher have been a suspect at all. after all does this sound like the behavior of guilty men. garrett 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 handy man. by the way, i found another casing. i mean, come on. >> an indication maybe they didn't do it. >> i didn't think so. >> reporter: that's what any good defense attorney is going to point out. >> sure, sure. the casing was underneath something. i don't know how we missed it. we missed it. >> we were a little pissed. >> reporter: detectives remain convinced christopher harbored a
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lingering anger at his parents for sending hem to the boot camp. they talked to camp alumni. this former resident was there when christopher got the news that he would have to stay well beyond his 18th birthday. >> i know he was upset. he was mad at his family for that. >> reporter: when detectives tracked down another paradise cove resident. he said christopher was a lot more upset than that. >> christopher made comments that his parents are going to pay for sending him, taking years out of his life. >> reporter: when they took a closer look at christopher's more recent history. they could easily see his improved behavior wasn't exactly lasting. even girlfriend juliette's influence couldn't keep christopher from slipping up. yes he went back to college after he returned from samoa, but soon dropped out. he did form a company. but the company folded. >> he didn't seem to be motivated. >> reporter: yeah. >> we fried to get him to stay in jobs. nothing seemed to be working. >> reporter: what john sutton
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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, garrett kopp was one of his best clients. kopp it turned out had been buying and sometimes reselling the drugs, mostly marijuana and and he and christopher spent plenty of time sampling the goods, according to prosecutor kathleen hoeg. it wasn't just drug deals. hung around a lot. playing video games. in the months after the phone records showed a spike in the number of calls. 300 calls in three month. >> that's an awful lot of drugs to be dealing with three months. >> could they have been talking murder? speculation, of course, but then after the murder when kopp was arrested on the gunha


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