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tv   Lockup Raw  MSNBC  October 22, 2017 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT

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due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised. >> msnbc takes you behind the walls of america's most notorious prisons. into a world of chaos and danger. now, the scenes you've never seen. now, the scenes you've never seen. "lockup: raw." >> behind every murder is a motive. >> they're crying on the phone, they're screaming, telling me that their daughter cannot spend another day around this guy, they're afraid of what he's going to do. >> i felt that the person was more like a man than like a woman. this was after we got married. >> behind every murder is a story. >> i went to trial. columbine had already happened
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like five months before that. there were quite a few similarities between my case and that, like i was wearing a trench coat. >> and behind some murders, a person you thought you could trust. >> i just remember when i woke up, first thing i said was, today is the day. >> more americans are incarcerated today than ever before, and now when we go behind the walls of maximum security prisons, we see a greater cross section of inmates than ever. >> i mean, obviously they're the ones that the moment you meet them, you know they're dangerous and belong in prison, but we're also finding more and more inmates who have committed murder who look like the guy next door, just an average, normal guy, and it's really left
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us puzzled. i mean, what would lead a guy like this to kill someone? >> at 27 years old, adam drake looks more like a college dorm resident than a maximum security prison inmate. >> you seem awful happy and perky. >> i am always happy and perky. >> but when we met him at the limon correctional facility in colorado, he was serving life without parole for murder. drake was convicted when he was 17. tens year later, he has his boyish looks and an adolescent appetite. >> some of the things i miss the most are peanut butter cap'n crunch. i miss gum. it's such a small thing, but you don't really realize how much you miss it until you haven't had it for 11 years. >> if i hadn't known adam's crime, i would never have guessed it was murder. adam drake had a very child-like quality about him, which is a little surprising to see in a prison environment.
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he came into prison as a teenager and it's almost as if something stopped in him at that age. >> drake's teen years were troubling, and he frequently ran away from home. >> i was bored, i guess. i'm smart. everything that they kind of taught me, i kind of learned. just didn't do homework, didn't like going. >> running away eventually led drake to murder. he shot and killed a man known for giving troubled teens, including himself and some of his friends, a place to stay. drake testified in court that he killed the man in self-defense. >> i didn't really intend to kill him so much. he had my friends in his house and wasn't letting them go, so i went back to get them, and when i went in, he attacked me, so i shot him. >> drake shot his victim five times with the final shot fired through the back of his head. to make matters worse for drake, he faced a jury just as the country was still trying to make sense of the columbine school
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shootings. >> i went to trial with columbine had already happened like five months before that, and there's quite a few similarities between my case and that. like i was wearing a trench coat. my crime occurred in april. their crime occurred in april. i was 17, they were 17. >> and your sentence? >> i got life without parole. >> so how does a 17-year-old deal with that? >> i cried. and after that just kind of coped. >> how did you survive when you came in as an 18-year-old? >> when i was in county jail, a lot of old-timers told me, okay, when you get there, try to avoid anything having to do with gangs, tattoos, gambling. that's the way i went is kept my head down, don't make waves, and when i do make waves, make sure it's little splashes. >> he's an intelligent young man. he's a bookish young man, and if he could, he'd play dungeons and dragons during the time when he's not working, which is good. the more you read, you have to do math with that stuff, the more you stay out of trouble. you know, he does have a brain up here. he makes his own decisions. >> but we learned that drake's
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mind can also cause him trouble in a setting as restrictive and controlled as prison. >> definitely suffering from obsessive-impulsive disorder since i've been locked up. i think it has to do with the routines. eventually you become reliant on routines. >> drake's obsessive-compulsive disorder has made reconciling his routines with prison routines more challenging. in fact, it earned him a disciplinary write-up in the chow hall. >> while he were there we got word adam got into trouble and was locked up which was really surprising because he was a model offender. the prison had just implemented a policy where offenders had to sit down in the first available seat. so for adam that was intolerable. >> i like to sit in this chair facing that way, so this would be southwest -- southeast facing northwest. nothing really in the northwest i got to look at. i just prefer to be sitting looking that way.
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>> he's serving a life without parole sentence for murder and he's having difficulty because he can't sit in a certain spot in the chow hall. this is his big dilemma. >> like over the past several weeks it's been more like tightening in my stomach, feels like knots are getting put in. it's been more anxiety and stress. >> we soon learned that drake's ocd extended far beyond where he sits in the chow hall. >> adam had rituals for everything. he even alphabetized his socks. >> i have to keep the socks in order and i got to wear them in succession. that's why it's "e" is next, because i'm wearing "d"s right now. i tie them in a knot where i can see the letters. >> in prison offenders have little or no control over their day-to-day lives. adam decided this was what he
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could control. he could control his articles of clothing, his canteen. this was his way of saying, i have some control over my own destiny. >> okay. can i do something without you getting upset? >> what's that? >> these socks. i'm not really sure why i did it. i just thought, well, what would happen if i did move your socks? you're in prison. you're in danger every day. how long can you leave these socks like that? >> i don't like that at all. >> i'm not exactly sure why i decided to challenge adam. i think i was just trying to make him see that whether his socks were here or folded this way or that way, it wasn't really going to alter his life, so again i picked up one of the t-shirts and kind of put it down haphazardly. how about this? >> yeah, that's not cool either. >> why? >> the label needs to be facing up.
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>> why? you know it's your shirt. you know your name. >> it just does. i don't know. it's like i couldn't explain why i have empty boxes in there, either. i just need to have them because i don't know when they could be handy. >> he was very good natured about it. he played along with me but made it clear the second we stopped he was going to put everything back the way he needed it to be. i'm walking away. >> drake did tell us, however, that as difficult as prison has been, it's had one benefit. >> pretty much through my teens i really didn't get along with my mom. and ever since this happened we made our relationship better. >> we were with drake when he received a visit from his mother and stepfather. but initially his attention seemed to be elsewhere. >> the one thing about visits, not only is it a happy day because you're seeing your loved ones but it's a happy day because you have a host of vending machines with a little
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bit of everything you can choose from that you can have your loved ones purchase something out of there for you. adam cleaned the visitation room as part of his job. and he planned out exactly what items that he was going to have his parents buy, down to the last cent. >> i labeled it by machine, which item it is and specifically what it is so that way they know and how much it cost. >> it was a little happy he was seeing his family, but it was also a lot of happiness that he was going to enjoy all these treats. >> but there was more to this visit than treats. >> he never said he loved me. he never said it when he was growing up. after three years, and he said, mom, i love you. after three years, i mean, totally different person. unrecognizable. i wish he could come out soon. >> he never explained exactly what had transpired in his childhood as to why he ran away, but watching that visit i would never have thought adam was a runaway or had any problems. there did seem to be a true bond of love between the two.
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>> i don't know what it was that kept adam so happy, but he always had a smile on his face. but seeing his mother crying and just really, really emotional, i think it started to finally get to him a little bit. >> this place helping, turned out to be make you grow up. now, i can say i am proud of you, the way you turned out. >> adam maintained hope he was going to get out someday i think because of the shifting laws regarding minors and life imprisonment. that's what he was clinging to. >> we all know he made a mistake. i think he pay what he done. >> i'll get out. this isn't going to be forever. coming up -- >> my nickname is lefty. it's because i have one arm. >> the loss of an arm leads to tragedy and murder. ♪
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♪ ♪ as we sing holy holy holy when we met brian at california state prison corcoran, we had a pretty good hunch that the origin of his nickname would play a major part in his story. >> my nickname is lefty. never been called lefty, it's because i have one arm. at 18 i was the victim of a drunk driving accident when i was in the air force. >> the other thing that was significant about brian to me was he was the height of irony
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on a lot of levels. he was a good example as to why you don't want to take justice into your own hands. his crime was that of a vigilante. >> you know being a christian means you don't have to be scared of your past because your sins, no matter how ugly they are, and we have some ugly ones in this room -- >> he is an inmate preacher at the prison's chal and ca trace the ugliest of his sins a bizarre series of events that began with the loss of his arm. >> after the air force medically retired me, i retired to little rock, arkansas, started selling clothes in the mall. all i thought about all day long was having one arm, being in the big city where i didn't know anybody, and i already had like self-confidence issues before that. so finally one day i decided, the only way i'm going to get over this and not miss out on
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the best years of my life is just to do everything i wanted to do before. i learned how to talk to girls. i learned how to build confidence and i did what i wanted to do. >> but the benefits of his newfound confidence revealed a new problem, a lack of cash. >> eventually i went to the club. i was only 19 years old and i got in, and for the first time i was around people that i always wanted to be around, and part of that scenery was doing cocaine, and i couldn't afford to do cocaine without selling cocaine. so i started to sell cocaine. >> he claims he was successful as a drug dealer, but then one night he took things up a notch. >> three years after selling drugs, i end up going with a buddy to do not really a murder for hire but we were supposed to beat a guy up pretty bad and make it look like a robbery. >> the man survived, but he told us the experience shook him up enough to give up crime. he enrolled in college, but then a phone call from his father sent him on yet another life-altering odyssey. >> fast forward about six months. i'm in texas, i'm doing good, making an honest living for the first time in a long time, and as a matter of fact the day i got a scholarship to go to abilene christian university is right around the same day my father called me and asked me,
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hey, how much does it cost to get this guy killed? >> brian says his father told him his distant cousin, an 8-year-old girl who lived in california, was being molested by her father. the girl's grandmother and mother wanted to pay brian to kill the man. >> so told my father i would call him back and after a few days of thinking about it, i decided to come out to california and kill paul myself. >> a short time later brian flew out to the west coast to carry out the hit. he knocked on the man's door, but when a young boy answered, he got nervous and left. he went back a second time, but nobody was home. >> and by this time the two ladies that paid me, they're crying on the phone, screaming, telling me that their daughter, she cannot spend another day around this guy.
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they're afraid of what he's going to do. by this time i'm so tired of it if i get caught or i don't, i just cannot let this guy spend another day around this little girl. they end up telling me tuesday at about 2:15 he would go to a daycare center to pick up his son. >> the location did not dissuade him. he forged ahead. >> staked out the place, planned my escape route, went to mcdonald's, grabbed something to eat, went to some abandoned horse trail and put on my arm and my disguise, a hat, glasses, jacket, and went and waited, and i waited for, i don't know, seemed like forever. so i remember i said out loud to nobody or anything in particular, i said, hey, if i'm supposed to do this, have my favorite song come on, and i just hit scan on the radio and it went through all the stations and all of a sudden my favorite song started playing. he parked in the parking lot about 20 feet from the front door of the daycare center. i remember i pulled in his blind spot, and i got out of the car, and i slowly crept to his window. i just remember taking the gun, and i tapped it a few times on his window and kind of startled, and he looked at me. i just started shooting. dropped the gun and took off. >> he was later identified,
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arrested and convicted. and then he came to the painful realization that he had been duped. >> the truth about the man i killed, as much as i would like to say i killed for a righteous and solid reason in people's eyes, the truth is i believe i was mistaken. i believe that it was a bitter custody dispute. one of the ladies had manipulated us all and got family and got me to believe that he was molesting his 8-year-old daughter. i would like for that to be true so all this isn't in vain, but the truth is that i just may have been mistaken. and i may have done all this for no reason at all. >> even this twist wasn't the last of the bizarre ironies in brian's life. he testified against the two women who hired him. the two women received life sentences. in return for his testimony, brian got 25 to life and
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immunity for his father. but the deal came with a price. he was labeled a snitch by other inmates and forced into protective custody on corcoran's sensitive needs yard or sny. >> sensitive needs is for inmates that cannot program around the general population inmates. child molesters, people with sex crimes, and people like myself that have testified, we can all program together. >> so he killed a man who he thought was a child molester only to find out he wasn't, and now he spends the next 25 years or whatever surrounded by child molesters. >> i borrow a slogan from the military, i don't ask, don't tell. it's creepy but you just want to push it back and just concentrate on who they are now and not so much what they've done. >> so that's the new brian? >> yeah, that's the new brian. the old me wouldn't have -- there's a lot of things the old me wouldn't put up with, but, yeah, now i'm just -- i mean, we're all here. we're all here. coming up -- >> here we are putting our lives on the line for the people in
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this country and they turn around and treat us like we're some pieces of [ bleep ]. >> he acted as though because he was a medic in the army that that should give him some sort of pass for the crimes he committed when he came back to his country.
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we film in prisons all over the world, and we're constantly reminded that people who kill can come from all walks of life, even those who we hold the highest regard. >> bruce bastian was an army medic in iraq. a young man dedicated to saving lives in combat, but when we met him at the limon correctional facility in colorado, he was serving time for the mayhem he and a friend caused on the streets of colorado springs. >> when i approached bruce, he was outside of his cell, and i said, bruce, you know, i'm with the camera crew, what do you want? i know why you're here, and we'd
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love to get your story. he said, well, why wouldn't you want my story, look at me. i'm like a movie actor. >> bastian accepted a plea bargain on two murder charges that resulted in a 60-year sentence for accessory and conspiracy to commit murder and aggravated robbery. the crimes occurred over a four-month period and were committed by bastion, who was home on leave, and a discharged army buddy. their two murder victims were fellow soldiers, one of whom served in eir unit. >> it just kind of came out of nowhere one night really. i mean, we were sitting there, we were drinking at my house. decid toso we out and leave the house and the next thing you know, there's a dead guy lying in the parking lot and we're driving away. and after that it kind of just escalated after that, you know. >> why do it again? why commit another crime? >> it happens. i don't know how to explain it. i mean -- >> how many? how many victims are we talking about? >> a handful. not too many. >> how many? >> ten at the most maybe. >> ten victims? >> at the most. it sounds like a lot, yeah. >> though only two of the eight victims were homicides, the
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others were robbed and in some cases badly beaten. >> when he was telling us the story of his crimes, it was almost like listening to somebody describe playing a video game. he was that detached. >> one of them was -- lost her eyesight in one of her eyes and punctured a lung accidentally, but she survived. she was found in time before she bled out, basically. >> we wondered if his experience in iraq played a role in his behavior. >> no, that's the thing. i don't want to blame it -- that's what all these guys try to come home and say, oh, shame on -- you know, boo me, i got problems. i saw somebody die so i should [ bleep ] get off. i should have total immunity. i'm not saying that. >> he did not seem to have been
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bothered by the military experience at all. if anything, i feel like he got a little bit of a charge from it. >> to an extent it was fun. i guess every kid's dream is to blow stuff up and shoot people, i guess. you know, little fantasy, but i mean, it was bad at the same time. >> i think one of the things that was difficult for me in dealing with bruce was that when he told his stories about being a soldier over in iraq, his behavior was despicable. >> we would rob people over there, and there you can just -- hey, i'm taking this [ bleep ] whether you like it or not. they don't do anything about it. what are they going to do? >> why were you robbing people in iraq? >> for the hell of it, i guess. because we could. >> but it was a different story when his crime spree made headlines. he felt the coverage was unfair. >> how are you being perceived in the media? >> like i'm some kind of monster, i guess. you know, here we are putting our lives on the line every day for the people in this country, and then they turn around and treat us like we're some piece of [ bleep ] basically. >> bruce acted as though because he was a medic in the army, that that should give him some sort
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of pass for the crimes he committed when he came back to this country. >> these weren't bad crime. you hear stories about some of these guys take people hostage and cut their hands off while they're sitting in the back room and raping their daughter in the other room. crazy [ bleep ] like that. it wasn't like that. i don't want to say -- i mean -- simple kind crime. >> he didn seem to have any empathy compassion for the people he victimized. >> it's a shame it happened. it shouldn't have happened, but it did, and i like to tell them don't dwell on it no more. try to forget about it as best you can and move on with your life. yeah, it's a tragic thing. yeah, murder is bad. innocent people don't deserve to die all the time, i understand, but it happens, you know, and once it happens there's really
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nothing you can do about it. it's kind of nothing in a way. i'm not a violent person really. i don't like to consider myself -- i don't think i am. maybe i'm in denial. coming up, more than 30 years later an inmate comes to terms with murdering his wife on their honeymoon and the shocking secret was revealed. >> it's like the person has had their sex organ removed. that's what i thought. this was after we got married. ♪ if you have moderate to severe ulcerative colitis or crohn's, and your symptoms have left you with the same view, it may be time for a different perspective. if other treatments haven't worked well enough, ask your doctor about entyvio,
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due to mature subject matter, viewer discretion is advised.
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i think i was in love with terri williams, yeah. then my love died and turned into hatred. that's what got me in trouble. >> we met richard moore in the sewing factory at colorado's limon correctional facility. he first came to prison in 1976. personal computers and cell phones were still more than a decade away. gerald ford was president and the united states was celebrating its bicentennial. the country was also going through what was widely regarded as a sexual revolution. that's when moore's troubles began. >> i was convicted of killing my
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wife in 1976 in the state of iowa. >> moore's wife, terri williams, was a dancer at a local club when their relationship began. >> i was just a customer. i just walked in off the street. we met, hit it off pretty decently, you know, and ended up -- well, we picked each other up actually, so we went to terri's apartment and made love and enjoyed each other's company, you know. we got married. then i began to have thoughts about terri. i thought maybe terri was a little bit different, you know. >> how so? >> i felt that the person was more like a man than like a woman, and i thought that the person maybe had been a man. >> why? >> from feeling into this area of their body, you know. i thought that's very similar to me, you know. it's like the person has had their sex organ removed. that's what i thought, you know,
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but i wasn't completely sure. this was after we got married. >> it was on the fourth day of their honeymoon when terri confirmed moore's suspicions. >> i confronted terri, you know, with some questions that i had, and she told me that she had been a man. >> did it make you question yourself? >> oh, yeah. still to this day. >> tell me about that. >> well, to find out you're in love with someone that is homosexual and you're not a homosexual, then things started progressing to real loss of temper, you know, towards the
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individual and hatred for the individual. i began to hate them, you know, and i hated them enough that i killed them, you know. i shot him to death because of his sexuality because he had been with me and i -- i'm not gay, you know, and it bothered me, you know. it angered me a great deal. it made me really mad to think that the person had deceived me, you know, in this way and hadn't just told me the truth when we met. could have said, yeah, i'm a transsexual, you know. the person could have told me that they were a transsexual. we could have had a couple drinks and been friends and that would have been the end of it. i would not sleep with a transsexual, you know. there's no way, but i did, unknowingly, you know, and that bothered me at the time, and it still does. >> when we first started interviewing richard about the murder of his former wife, it was obvious he was still very conflicted about the situation. he was distancing himself from
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his former wife by referring to that person as him, them, that person. >> i wanted to take the person home and drop them off, you know, and then just go my way, get the marriage annulled and be done with it, you know, but i lost my temper and i started thinking about murdering the person, and i stopped on the freeway and i had an exit and i had them get out of my car and then i shot them to death. >> how? where? what was she doing when you shot her? >> she was looking at me. i had a .22 and i shot her in the head four times and then covered the body up with a blanket and drove off. terri didn't try and defend herself at all, just stood there when i shot her.
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you know, she didn't put her hands up or anything like that. it was -- maybe she knew. i don't know for sure that was going to happen, you know. i have no idea. >> once i started referring to terri as a woman, he started actually embracing the fact that in his mind he had married a woman. terri was a female as far as he was concerned, and i think it became a little more acceptable to him, and at that point the interview took a really dramatic turn. 30 years later, you know, there's a lot of information out. she was a transgender. >> i never heard that term until you used it. >> she was a woman. as far as she was concerned, she was a woman. she had breasts, a vagina, anatomically turned into a woman. does that give you any comfort? >> i feel sorry for the victim actually. sympathetic because the person had a right to live no matter what they are,ou know, but i
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was a lot younger then. so it bothers me even today. but i'll have to live with that. >> what's making you emotional? >> just thinking that i killed somebody that maybe should still be alive, you know. >> did you love terri? >> i think for a while i did, yeah. and i should have just walked away from the whole situation, just got in my car and say, it's been nice knowing you, and i don't know what else to say, and i'm going to drive on and think about all of this, you know, but i had thoughts like that, but i didn't live those thoughts. i lived the violent thoughts that i had instead of the good thoughts. coming up -- >> the last time i talked about this on the record, the court
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tried to make me out to be a cold-blooded, ruthless monster. that's not me. >> at 16 he killed his parents. >> he had no emotion about it, and he didn't have any kind of response or real answer as to why. >> but one couple sees more than just a killer. >> at 16 he killed his parents. >> he had no emotion about it, and he didn't have any kind of response or real answer as to why. >> but one couple sees more than just a killer. we switched our auto and home insurance. liberty did what? yeah, they saved us a ton, which gave us a little wiggle room in our budget. wish our insurance did that. then we could get a real babysitter instead of your brother. hey, welcome back. this guy... right? yes.
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state prison, we were with inmate aaron brown on what was for him an unusual day. he had visitors. >> aaron. >> just glad to see you, always. >> hi, dude. what's up, man? >> vicki and keith have played the role of surrogate parents to brown for more than 15 years. as a teenager he was friends with their own children. >> he just would call to talk to my boys, and the boys at the age they were were never home, and we developed a friendship, and i loved him. he just seemed kind of lost and lonely, you know, and then the crime happened. it was very heartbreaking.
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>> the crime occurred when brown was 16 years old. he's now serving two 50-year sentences for the murders of his mother and stepfather. >> aaron brown bewilders me. he sat in wait with a shotgun until his parents came home one night, and as his mom walked through the door, he blasted her with the shotgun, shot at his stepfather, missed, and ended up chasing his stepfather around the house shooting at him until he finally killed him. and i wanted to know why. >> weeks earlier before he grew out his hair and beard, we interviewed brown about the murders. >> i just remember when i woke up like the first thing i said that day was, today is the day. i had myself convinced and for whatever reason there was nothing wrong with it in my mind. i didn't see any other way. >> any other way than what?
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>> there was no other way for me to escape that environment. it wasn't -- i didn't get abused physically or sexually or any other way, but i did not love my parents then, i did not feel like i was loved, and i just did not feel i could be there anymore. >> whatever he told me was pretty common stuff that occurs in a lot of families. what was so wrong that they had to be murdered? what was so wrong in your family? >> i have no idea. >> even with all these years to look back? >> i have no idea. i wish i had a good reason why i did what i did because at least then there might be some way of justifying it, but there's not. there's no way to justify what i did. >> he had no emotion about it, and he didn't have any kind of response or real answer as to why, and i couldn't figure out if he knew and didn't want to tell us, if he had buried
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something and was in dee denial, or if he was just an amoral person. >> i mean, i talked about it in court, and they said i had no remorse because i was so matter of fact, and that's not the case. i mean, the fact is my personality type says that i'm matter of fact about everything. the last time i talked about this on the record, the court tried to make me out to be a cold-blooded, ruthless monster, and i don't -- that's not me. >> before fleeing the scene of the crime, brown knelt by his mother's side one last time. >> so that last time you looked at your mother, what was going through your mind then? >> nothing. pure silence. >> no feeling whatsoever? >> back then i was probably -- i think i was pretty proud of what i had done. i was happy that i had finally
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gotten away from that. now -- it was stupid, it was pointless, and two people died for nothing. >> after he was incarcerated, brown reached out to his friend's mother, vicki. >> it was very scary to me. i was shocked, and i didn't understand how that could happen, and i guess i was selfish that i didn't want to just openly accept that phone call right away, but i'm grateful to him, yeah, i'm very grateful. >> i have led a very i don't know what kind of life you want to say, but i have done a lot of things in my life -- >> we all have. made mistakes. >> and so as i go through life, i just look at everybody and look at them as who they are instead of what they've done because if we look at each other for what we've done, we would never have relationships with anybody.
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>> he said to me you've always loved him and have been there for him. if he ever needed anybody, he would need you now. >> are you all right? >> yeah. >> he's a wonderful young man. >> you know, a lot of people would have a hard time understanding what you guys are doing. >> uh-huh. >> you're parents. he did what he did to his parents. >> yeah. we're called to love and not judge. love. >> forgiveness. >> yes. >> to be forgiven you have to forgive so that's the main key.
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even while serving two life sentences at indiana state prison for murder, aaron brown pursued his education.
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>> i got my bachelor's degree in 2004 and right now i'm actually working on a master's degree. >> in what? >> literature. >> brown also tutors other inmates and hopes the experience will be beneficial if and when he ever leaves prison. >> my job actually for me is practice for what i intend to do on the streets. i would like to teach college when i get out. >> while brown was articulate on many subjects, he could not tell us anything when it came to explaining why he gunned down and killed his mother and stepfather when he was 16 years old. >> i wish i had a good reason why i did what i did, but there's not. >> though he seemed unable to reconcile the relationship he had with his parents, brown came as close as he probably ever will to being a parent himself during our stay at indiana. >> hi, hi.
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>> i vividly recall aaron's face when he first saw gaia, his kitten. he looked like a child. he was so happy. it was amazing. it was a complete transformation from the guy i had been talking to prior to that. >> i'm happy. >> the prison allows a limited number of well-behaved inmates to adopt cats from a local shelter. brown qualified for the program. >> she acts like we've known each other for a while. >> there wasn't this big range of emotion with him. there was either kind of a mildly happy guy or just kind of like a mildly sad. he was -- the only time i saw him really happy was when he got his cat, gaia. >> that's the first i have seen you smile since i've met you.
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>> yeah. i'm sure my face is going to hurt tomorrow. >> we checked in with brown a couple of weeks later and like any good parent, he was concerned. >> we had a few problems when i got her. she had fleas real bad, which i understand because the shelter has like 400 cats. she was getting pretty sick. i think she had flea anemia and that's one of the reasons why i think she was so small when i got her. well, after three flea baths, i ended up getting a flea treatment for kittens and used that on her, and she's been good ever since. she hasn't had any fleas. then she's got a little rash that's kind of some sort of fungus or something that broke out in the shelter, too, so i'm treating that with an anti-fungal cream, but she's good. she's happy and playful. >> so, again, how about you, aaron? you sound like a parent of a newborn. talk to me about it. >> it's kind of like being the
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parent of a newborn. i mean -- i guess, i've never had kids, but i mean, she's like my kid. i want her to be healthy. i want her to be happy, and as far as i can tell, she's pretty happy. there's a kid. >> look who i have. >> oh! >> you can just feel when he talks about the cat, it's just this great emotion of happiness to be able to have this. >> you know -- >> it's been a great blessing and a gift for him. >> little things in life to us are not always -- but when you're in a situation like this, it's such a big thing for him, and he really -- he just loves it. he's so happy with the cat, so we're all -- >> we're all happy. >> yeah. we're happy. >> not long after gaia came into his life, brown decided to share th by enrolling her in the prison's pet therapy program. he brings gaia to the residential treatment unit to visit inmates recovering from
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mental health problems. >> see you, little buddy. hairy little dude, ain't he, for a little one. >> after aaron had gaia for a little while, he seemed to start thinking outside himself. he actually started to become much more involved with other people. everywhere aaron went he took gaia. that opened the door for him. he suddenly started engaging with other people, talking to staff, being more open. he had a softer, more nurturing side that emerged after gaia came into his life.
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aaron and i never had an overt conversation about the fact he killed his parents and now he was parenting a kitten. it was obvious to me though that whatever he couldn't feel for his own family and certainly the people he killed, he seemed to transfer all of these emotions over to this cat, which was interesting to observe, and we spent weeks there and i would check in with him periodically, and we were filming aaron looking at family photographs, and he started to pause and he seemed to almost be reminiscing in a good way as he looked at his mom, and he seemed to have a little kinder feelings towards her.
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>> this is probably the best picture i have ever seen of my mom. this was also in '85. this was when she graduated from a beauty school as a beautician. >> he was describing her in a kinder, more loving way than i had ever heard before. >> i mean, obviously i recognize her, but i just don't remember her like this. this was 23 years ago, and it's just so long ago i don't remember her like that. >> and as he's looking at these photographs of his mom, of course i couldn't help but ask again, then why did you kill her? and he just stared at me blankly as though i just asked if he knew what the temperature was outside. >> i don't know. >> and then all of a sudden picks up a picture and smiles gloriously. >> that's gaia. that was the 30th of august. i'd only had her for about a week and a half. she looks so different. >> shows me a picture of gaia the cat with this really happy, loving smile. it was such an odd moment. i just remember stopping and it took me a while to take it in. you're kind of detached. >> from? yeah. >> your mom. >> it's kind of a coping mechanism, i think. >> right now after the denial, after the years have passed? >> i miss her.
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i'm craig melvin. and i'm natalie morales. and this is "dateline." don't know what it is about my mom that has captured the heart of so many people. there's just something to her that people connect with. what was so beautiful about her, it made her a target, too. craig melvin: she was the queen of the million dollar listing, the real estate broker who sealed the deal. her customers love her. hands down the most genuine person you ever met. craig melvin: she headed out to show a house that day and never made it home.

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