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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  October 7, 2017 2:00am-3:01am PDT

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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 gun charge
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prosecutors discovered it was christopher who put up the money to bond him out, even drove him to court. hard lit sort of thing that 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 police were discovering. christopher and his girlfriend were still living with john. garrett kopp was still coming around, so solid evidence or not, 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 of a killer. >> what do you do? >> go in the back door and walk in and shoot him. >> case closed? far from it when "dateline" continues. of diabetic nerve pain these feet... liked to style my dog as a kid... loved motherhood, rain or shine... and were pumped to open my own salon. but i couldn't bear my diabetic nerve pain any longer.
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you get up to 5 lines of talk and text at no extra cost. so all you pay for is data. see how much you can save. choose by the gig or unlimited. xfinity mobile. a new kind of network designed to save you money. call, visit, or go to keith morrison: detectives larry belyeu and art nanni had a theory to explain the shooting of john sutton and the murder of his wife, susan, which detectives had a theory to
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explain the shooting of john sutton and the murder of his wife susan which was that christopher sutton hired his dope-smoking buddy garrett kopp to kill his parents but it was really just a theory and while the case against kopp was really strong, the murder weapon was found in his possession, the evidence against christopher was a little more than circumstantial, a little more than guilt by association. he might have had an association but -- >> i needed more than that to get the arrest. we were going to neat a confession, i believe. >> and given what they had against kopp detectives gambled that the shooter might roll over on the son. and he denied all in is wasn't my gun at all in. >> looks like we'll be here a long time today. >> and they were. hours and hours. >> you know how the house was set up? >> finally i said i don't believe you did this on your own so give me a reason as to how chris got you to do this.
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>> basically they said, look, you know, you've got to look out for me hand my family because i'm afraid of him. >> chris was going to go kill him. >> if he didn't do it chris would take care of him and his young son. >> i didn't believe it but that's the story he wanted to give. >> having given himself an escape kopp finally escaped, sayingist fer was behind it all, bought the black clothes he wore, hired him as a hitman. >> did he form late this plan? or was it a combined effort between the two of you? >> he did. >> what plan did he tell you? what did he want you to do? >> go in the back door, walk in and schoos 'em. >> does it upset him to tell think story? >> no, not really. not that i could tell. >> did he seem relieved he had finally told someone. >> and during this time i was talking to him. he was pretty matter of factually talking about it. >> after that confession kopp was charged with first-degree
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murder. he was allowed to see his father, his son, his girlfriend and then taken off to jail. >> so case closeded? >> well, you would think given what kopp toll the detectives in them, but it did not give them what they needed to arrest christopher. there's a feature in florida law which says that things people said in a confession about somebody else could be labeled hear say. they needed more. so they turned to the person closest to christopher, his fiancee, julia driscoll. the two wren gaged to be married in a few weeks. dress bourkts invitations in the mail. >> she said i don't know anything about it. christopher doesn't tell me. >> didn't tell her anything, or so she said? >> that was my reaction, and i didn't buy it. >> i guess not, because he went on grilling this young woman for more than 12 hours at end of which the detective played to her heart, her relationship with susan and john sutton.
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>> say is a said, look, susan real cared about you. she basically thought of you as a daughter. this woman didn't deserve to die like this. john doesn't certainly, you know, deserve to be blind the rest of his life and i know for a fact that garrett did this under the direction of christopher. finally she started crying and i go i think i might have her. >> with the tears came a story, what christopher had said to her that just might nail her for murder. >> parents deserved to die for taking years out of his life. she said that 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 julia 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. >> she says, well, i've got good news and bad news, and the good news is that we have arrested
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the assailant, and he's admitted had but he's inculcated your son and set him up. and imsaid, man oh, man. 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 chase the killer and i think chased
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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. one event in particular which perhaps he had suppressed, it happened nine years earlier when christopher was just 16. it was the to siding factor in setting him off to samoa. >> susan was going through christopher's room and found a handwritten note planning our murderer. >> what did it say? >> well, it talked about killing us for insurance sxwls a week after a warrant was taken out for his arrest police found christopher and brought him to the miami died homicide bureau. there he learned both his co-conspirator garrett kopp and his fiancee had implicated him. >> i showed him the statement saying i knew it was going to
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happen and i don'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 garrett 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. enough to put him behind bars. coming up, garrett kopp's confession should be enough to put him behind bars. but did prosecutors have enough to convict christopher sutton? >> this was a circumstantial case, extremely circumstantial
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real based on motive. >> when "dateline" continues. .. that's good for my teeth? now i don't have to choose! from crest 3d white comes new whitening therapy. it's our best whitening technology. plus, it has a fortifying formula to protect your enamel. crest. healthy, beautiful smiles for life.
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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. >> yeah? >> 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. he had been a skier. now he learned to ski blind. he fell in love again. her name is kathy henry. how did you meet her in. >> blind date.
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>> am i supposed to laugh at that line in. >> 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'd always 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 that 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 hand member mize 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 just -- i couldn't even imagine. i don't even -- i can't even try
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to think what that would be like. >> yeah. >> it's heavy. >> memorizing thing an 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 because he waited for his son's long-delayed trial. he pursued with something like an obsession a quest to regain his eyesight. >> most people might have given up by then. can't do anything. >> not even close. >> not you. >> i won't take no for an answer. >> at some of the best hospitals in the country, sutton had been told there was simply nothing to be done, he'd be blind forlism the bullets had permanently destroyed his optic nerve but john had heard about a landmark breakthrough at the harvard research institute in boston where a renowned researcher successfully regenerated the
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optic nerve in mice and use being stem cell therapies and drugs. sutton and his girlfriend kate were on the cold rain-swept streets of boston on a way to an appointment at scapins. >> there's a chin rest in front of you. a doctor discovered his one intact eye and discover even thought the nerve was destroyed, the rest rast you're theoretically at least could work. >> my son is in jail charged with first-degree murder. >> he listened to the awful story of the way john lost his eyesight. they explained to him amazing things they were doing here, like growing corneas in a petri dish and, of course, 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
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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 witnesses. >> mike gilmore, then the president, offered sutton a glimmer at least of hope. >> we will be able to regenerate an optic nerve. it's not such a question 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. >> okay. >> how soon depends on how much funding we can get, how many scientists we can put behind the
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problem to solve it. >> so sutton told the 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 him, 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 country speaking at fund-raisers, using what he calls his shock and awe presentation to tell his story complete with his 911 call and news footage. >> the body of susan sutton --
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>> i want to flip this tragedy, this catastrophe into a positive. >> meanwhile in miami it was decision time. alleged shooter garrett 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 as sure that with my blindness every minute of every day that i will not forget you. >> rise, please. >> 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
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the case was, as prosecutor kathleen hogue knew all too well rather weak. >> this was a shirk shall says, extremely circumstantial based on motive. >> john sutton wanted the law to convict his son. 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 in. >> shoot. >> who did you shoot at first? >> john. >> and what did you see mr. sutton do when you shot him? >> flip over a bit. >> what "dateline" continues. li. be strong. life takes softness and strength, that's why we make angel soft mega with more of the value you already love. 83% try to eat healthy, yet up to 90% fall short on getting key nutrients. let's do more. one-a-day men's.
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hello. i'm dara brown. here's what's happening. yet another hurricane is bearing down the u.s., this time it's nate now in the southern gulf of mexico. forecasters think the category 1 storm may hit near new orleans late saturday night or early sunday. in las vegas, it's believed
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that it's believed stephen paddock acted alone hand no one else was in the hotel room with him. police officers say they are following more than a thousand leads but have yet to come up with a et move. more news in one hour. keith morrison: summertime in miami. pounding heat, unavoidable sun. >> summertime in miami, pounding heat, unavoidable sun. unavoidable except, of course, inside. >> all rise, please. >> and six years inside his cell in the county jail have produced a doughy christopher sutton by the time his trial finally began. it was 2010, a son charged with hiring the hitman who murdered his mother and brian daubached his father and here he sat apparently can have temp and highly prepared, ignoring most of the time the surviving members of his family a scant few feet away. >> you know, we locked eyes, but i have nothing to say to him.
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>> melissa sat with her father, their father, front row seat. the prosecutor told the jury a horror story, the state's version of what have 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 knitting needles in a mannequin to show where susan was shot six times. her son took a deep breath, recoiled, dreadful but how would the state prove that christopher was behind her right hand? >> here's how for starters. >> this man once worked with christopher, was an occasional pot customer, too, but was shocked, he shade, when christopher asked him a certain question. >> what did the defendant ask
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you? >> he asked me if i knew of any hitman that would kill his plarnts. >> what reason or explanation did he give you? >> he said his parents were worth about $500,000 to a million. >> worth a lot more actually. with the house and insurance, law practice, christopher stood to inherit millions, so was money a motive or was it the stint of the boot camp in samoa or both? the detectives told the jury he tried to find out when he questioned christopher. i said did you hate your parents that much? >> his answer, you tell me. he said you just don't know. >> but did that answer the question about guilt or motive? or would she? >> if you'll come forth and stand in front of our clerk her. >> when juliet once his fiancee and love of his life christopher's eyes welled up. he hadn't seen her in years. now her testimony could send him away for life.
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>> what did the defendant tell you about getting his parents killed or taken care of? >> same thing i'd been hearing for the last six years. >> which was that he could find someone 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 that birthday celebration a few hours before she was killed. >> we went over. it was me, chris, john, susan and teddy. we had dinner. >> dewer that melissa was there, or do you need a minute? >> this might be a good time for a break anyway. >> that night whether juliet knew it or not christopher and his drug dealing hitman garrett kopp were already leading a trail for detectives, a trail of phone calls. 17 in all. one just an hour after the murder at christopher and jewel
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yet left the movie theater that friday night and here what is the man on the end that have phone, the man who said he did it, garrett kopp, 25 years old, short, scruff i, the self-confessed killer shuffled into the courtroom and told a horrifying tale, how christopher instructed him to tenter the house in a sliding glass door neither pool and how he made a sketch to guide them to john and susan's bedroom. >> what did you shoot at first? >> john. >> is that mr. sutton? >> yes. >> where was mr. sutton when you shot at him initially? >> on the bed. >> and what did you see mr. sutton do when you shot him. >> flip off a bit. >> after you shot mr. sutton. >> proceeded into the other
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room. >> who was the room who arranged to have you shoot john and susan sutton? >> christopher. >> how many money were you expected to get in. >> upwards of 100,000. >> up until this moment john sutton had been a spectator, his thoughts and feelings his own. he was a victim, too. staying out of it wasn't an option for him hand now came the moment that 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 seat gun, but in an instant, bam, and then the next thing you knew i woke up and inwas 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.
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>> 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 knee if they didn't hear what they wanted to hear, that they were going to arrest me instead. they threw my purse across the room. >> what would that do to the prosecution's case when "dateline" continues. car without getting ripped off. start at the new show me used trucks with one owner.
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she tells them-- keith morrison: it takes a special sort of skill she tells them -- it takes a special sort of skill to defend a man facing a charge of first-degree murder, and in miami bruce fleisher has honed the skill as well as anyone, but what he could see right away, knew it long before of the trial, was that the scene in that courtroom was about as bad as it could be because there they were, just feet apart. his client and a klein father, a survivor of christopher sutton's alleged plot to kill his
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parents. >> the fact that john sutton survived to me was the greatest prejudice in the case. >> and there he was right behind the bar the whole time. >> the jury would hear something bad and they would look over at john sutton. they had to be thinking, this poor man. look what he has to go through life with. >> for the victim, fleisher knew, he must display only sympathy. so instead, he would attack the murder investigation itself, the way the police police came up their two star witnesses, juliet driscoll and garrett kopp. after all, without them the state's case was weak, and why do you suppose they fame forward anyway? because they were forced to, or sore reasoned fleisher. juliet driscoll, for example, why did she tell police that christopher talked about killing his parents? >> they eventually said if you don't tell us what you want to know you'll be arrested in this
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murder conspiracy and what does she do? she tells them what they want to know. >> please have a seat over here. >> in fact. defense attorney got juliet to admit the state wouldn't even have had that if detectives hadn't intimidated and threatened her. >> they told me that if they didn't hear that they wanted to hear that they would 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 for first-degree murder? >> they told me they were going to arrest me for murderer. >> and you eventually told them what they wanted to hear? >> after 13 hours, yes. >> after christopher was arrested the two planned a honeymoon in samoa, of all places. which begged the questions ? >> if he was going to take the lives of his parents why would
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you stay with him or marry him in. >> i can't think of so many times i hate this person so much i could kill him right now and when you hear it for six straight years you don't believe it. >> finally juliet testified that detectives lied when they shade she told them i knew it would happen, i just didn't know when. >> i never believed he was going to do it, and that's why the whole thing with my statement that i knew he was going to do it and i said he didn't know he was going to do it, i'm still confused about the whole matter. i don't know if he did it or not nobody knows what really happened except for him and garrett. >> thank you. >> that's what i've been saying. >> why not just play a taste 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. >> right, and i think that gives a rise to a major reasonable
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doubt in this case. >> remember, garrett 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 tongues. >> oh, and he did. fleisher went after garrett and the cops. >> every time you denied being involved in this, they got aggressive with you, didn't? >> somewhat. they just like got pushy a little bit. >> got pushy a little bit. like they washed you over to you and pushed you on the shoulder. >> and get in my face. >> did they touch you? >> touched me. >> leaned up against you like this? >> yeah. >> and when they got close what were they saying, garrett, garrett? >> something like that. >> you need to tell us something, garrett, because they are going to fry your ass in the electric chair. >> exaccuse me, exchose me, thank you, mr. fleisher. >> is than an objection?
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>> that's an objection. >> well, the question is that what they said to you? >> something like that. i'm going down for murderer. >> you're going down for murder. >> i'm going to get the death penalty. >> i'm going to get the death penalty. >> what finally made you give some information? >> saying that juliet was 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 cite so water tight after all. the maybe christopher himself could set the record straight. >> we're calling chris sutton. >> would jurors listen? coming up, accused of murdering his mother hand blinding his father, a son sheds tears on the stand for himself. i was what they called in
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denial. do you need a break? >> yeah. the when "dateline" continues.
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judge, we're calling chris sutton. keith morrison: jurors had to be deeply judge, we're calling chris sutton. >> jurors had to be deeply curious about the man accused of putting a hit on his own parents. for one thing in his buttoned down shirt and wire-rimmed glasses he looked more law student than murder suspect, and besides for two weeks they watched his careful note taking, his whispered asides to attorney fleisher. >> he felt that he was wrongfully prosecuted and the only way we could tie up a lot of things and actually prove things or disprove things was by him testifying. >> about to give meet truth, the whole truth and nothing by the truth? >> i do. >> how would he convey his innocence? first, by describing his hospital vigil, a concerned son on night of the shooting. >> did he acknowledge that you
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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 was claiming to be a perfect son. in fact, he told the jury he was a drug dealer. garrett 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, garrett kopp? what happened, if anything, with your relationship with garrett 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 had a while. >> was he mad at you? >> yes. >> so it was a payback time now? yes, says christopher, it must have been, and thus his theory of the murder. christopher said he had nothing to do with it, told the jury he never asked kopp to kill his
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parents. kopp made it all up. the police had it all wrong, what really happened, he shade, 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. >> what was the value of that? >> 7,000 bucks. >> in fact, the very day of the murder says christopher a hopped-up cop called him again and again desperate to buy the drugs. between his mother's birthday party and the movie that night he couldn't do it. >> why did you tell him that you can't get the drugs? >> objection, judge. >> overruled. >> i told him that i left it in my room at the parent's house. >> and that's what gave kopp the idea where to go to get the drugs. >> but that still doesn't explain why he who in cold blood murder and attempt to murder these two people. >> he went to get the drugs. he found the sutton's home han
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they could recognize him. he panic. he was in a drug stupor and he shot them both. >> so if you were garrett kopp, wouldn't you try to implicate the man who turned you into place? here eerts thing, says christopher. he could understand kopp turning on him but juliet, his own fiancee. 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. >> i was crying because the woman i was going to be married in five weeks lied to save herself. >> these were tears of frustration. how could he defend himself through lies when the police interrogator accused him of murder in. >> i told him he won't believe anything i said, that he would terrorist my words to use them against me okay you know, like
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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. not down the allegation that his bin,ment to samoa had given him a motor thoif kill his parents. but what you're about to see is christopher describing the program, probably wasn't in the defense strategy. >> had 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
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denial. do you know a break? >> yeah. >> strange? stoic for the rest 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 honest f-as a witness. >> i cried when i got off the plane. >> when court resumed christopher told the jury that while he was initially upset about being sent to samoa, got over and made the best about 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 loved them very much. >> he had given the jury an alternative. he tried, at least, to to fuse the samoa motive. enough? not nearly, said prosecutor kagan. >> what motive did garrett kopp
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have to go in and attempt to assassinate boast those people, none? what motive did christopher sutton have to want both his parents dead? plenty. >> and what's the story here? they had the statement of garrett 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 oats evidence in this case? what do they have? nothing. >> seven men, five women on the jury and real doubt in there. >> 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 "dateline" continues. i should take a closer look at geico...
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♪ now you may deliberate. all eyes for the jury, please. >> not an easy task, these people were given. did christopher sutton master mind a plan to kill his own parents. >> we battled for a while. >> who knew those 12 were butting heads in the jury room and split down the middle after seven hours they went home. it was mostly garrett ko p, p they had trouble with. how could they believe a cold-blooded hit man who rats on a friend to save his own skin. >> he's making a deal. >> which would mean what? you can't believe what he's going to say because he's an opportunistic. >> next day they try again. ten hours went by. sweat in the air-conditioned hall way. a deadlock. then 7:00 p.m., two words set the halls a buzz. a verdict. >> john and melissa sutton took their seats in the front row.
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>> bring in the jury, please. >> christopher sutton stood stone faced as jurors filed in. >> were those tears from some members of the jury? >> ladies and gentlemen, i understand you have reached a verdict? >> judge stanford blake read the verdict. >> state of florida versus christopher sutton, we the jury of miami dade florida this 21st day of july, 2010, find the defendant christopher patrick sutton as to count one, guilty of first degree murder as charged in the indictment. >> guilty. with that christopher's head snapped back as if he had been struck. >> count three, guilty of attempted first degree felony murder. >> melissa wept. her father, their father, locked his jaw, stared ahead sightless. sentencing would be immediate. john sutton was offered time to speak. and years of stoic resolve crumbled. >> regardless of the result,
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this is a bad case. we are now -- we are 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? >> here is the judge -- >> it's ironic for me that my
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son was born the exact same date as christopher sutton. so at this time, as to count one, mr. sutton, the court poses a sentence of life in prison, without the possibility of parol. >> 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. to know you didn't do something but yet to have people feel you did. >> the words fairly gust from their mouth, as if there wasn't time to say everything that needed to be said. >> a lot of this comes down to there's me and garrett and everybody else is just talking
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about what i did years before or maybe after or, you know, even jowl yet said that. the only thing that could know this were christopher and garrett. >> this idea he would break in for drugs. >> i had stuff in my bedroom still that i was moving out and in of that room. garrett kopp helped me move some of that stuff. >> do you need some water? >> no, i'm okay. >> the jury told us christopher's tears on his witness stand made some of them believe his incarceration on the island was a motive for murder. >> you seemed kind of broken up talking about that camp. but not so broken up when you talked about your parent's death. >> when i initially talked about it, i would cry a lot, it's been hard. the program, i've done my best to seal it -- >> that was the first time i sat there in a long time and had been like, wow, what really did happen there? >> how do you feel about your dad now? >> i'm devastated that he said things against me that are bad, but my dad turning on me in hard
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times isn't anything new. >> then he talked about his circumstances, his fate, and his self kroshlgs abandoned him. >> the way it's set right now, this is home. you'll never get out. >> at some point in time, if you have integrity inside yourself, you have to stand up for what you believe in, even if your life is on the line. >> how does that feel? >> it's hard. it's hard to know i'm going to jail for something i didn't do. you know, i'm not going to sit here and deny i had problems with my parents or that any of that stuff happened. that's why i wanted to get up there and explain, explain to people that, you know, i might not be the best person. sure, i could have been a better guy, but i was trying and i didn't have anything to do with this. i didn't create this system. i'm just stuck in it. >> trapped. >> that's why i'll fight all the way to the end. i'm innocent and i'll always
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maintain my innocence. >> show me how it looks like a lion. >> 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. say, what were you thinking of? what a stupid, criminal, ridiculous crazy thing all this was. >> reconciling if it ever comes is a long, long way. >> that ain't happening, no way. no way. >> 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. i have billion family pictures with him in them. >> a brother who blew up your whole family.
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>> but in the same picture, i have a mom who passed away, a brother who is in jail. a dad -- that's my family. that's kind of what it is. but at the same time, you know, i believe he did what he did. i have no intention of ever speaking with him again. >> so, life goes on. melissa moved up north and has a career in media services. detectives retiefred from the force. belue 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. >> the enthusiasm coming out of you is kind of inspirational. >> i'm ready to roll.
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i got plans for this eyesight. ♪ ♪ i'm craig melvin. >> i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." i am freaking out. i walk in and my sister's not there. her door is open, her lights are on, her bed's undone. everything was horrible. and i felt it. >> she had been fearless on the front lines in iraq. >> pretty amazing. i saw her as like a really strong soldier. >> but something had her terrified at home. >> i'm scared. i don't feel safe. >> a desperate call to police.


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