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tv   Dateline Extra  MSNBC  July 14, 2019 8:00pm-9:00pm PDT

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i can't see why someone would want to hurt her. >> how could this happen to someone that we knew? >> it's been a a very long 13 years. >> home coming queen hannah hill was just 18 when she disappeared. everybody's sweetheart. >> this doesn't happen to people like her. why? where? when? >> and who? it was her boyfriend? they had fought before.
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>> did you physically abuse her? >> yes. >> or was it another man in her life? they had been twogt the night she died. more than 13 years would go by as hannah's a fought fought for justice. two possible suspects. >> did your kid kill hannah hill? >> two trials. >> i was a wreck. it was just very intense. >> would there ever be justice for hannah hill? >> the truth always comes out. >> the night hannah hill disappeared. >> hello and welcome to "dateline extra." 18-year-old hannah hill may have been living in her parent's basement, but she was about to move up in the world.
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she had just bought her own car and set to start a new job. then she vanished leaving friends and family reeling. why, they wondered, did hannah go out so late the night before her big day and where had she gone? here's dennis murphy. >> she was a girl who made big entrances. >> she could walk in the skproom light up a place. she would make a whole room smile. >> she was always happy. just wanted to have fun. >> but it was her exit, her sudden disappearance, gone from her house just like that that enshrouded yun hannah hill in history. >> she was last seen last wednesday. we're asking anyone with information contact the police department. >> she was 18 years old just days from turning 19 and seemed to be in for the night. a former home coming queen and her pjs phoning a few friends from the basement bedroom at her mom ask dad's in akron, ohio. it's too late now, but she wish
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ed he could answer one question. why did you leave the house so suddenly that night? her brother doesn't know. >> she got dressed and said i'm going to go out for a little bit. i'll be back. i love you. >> and that was it? >> never seen her again. >> the thing was the next morning a thursday in may of 1999 was going to be a red letter day for hannah. she is would drive her gold primp, the used car she was proud to be paying for to her first day of secretary work, the company that makes atms. her boyfriend of more than a year expected her to swing by his place in the morning to pick him up. he says she was a no-show. >> i remember waking up with this gut feeling that something wasn't right. i paged her. no answer. she always called me back. always. and she didn't. >> the kids relied on pagers back then. cell phones and text messaging were off in the future for ha a
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hannah's circle of friends. her mom was a home maker and dad was scratching out work as a boil er mermaker in the smokest of the rust belt. dad loved his girl. >> hannah was a very bubbly kid. she loved everybody. >> she liked the spice gills and signed her letters with tiny pink hearts. a nice kid. these friends of hannah thought so. >> she was a very easy going person, definitely someone you could be friends with very easily. >> he was a great friend. she was a great girl. >> tara ferguson was her best friend forever. >> she's so fun and silly and funny. >> she was a pretty young girl. >> yes, she was a hopeless romantic. she was bound to try to find that prince charming. >> not every teenage girl has the same definition of prince
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char charming. hannah's boyfriend brad was a high school dropout with more than a few rough edges. but by all accounts, hannah was smitten. >> definitely her one true love. she just really loved him and was really happy. >> and brad remembers like yesterday being captivated by the girl at the party with the lively brown eyes. they quickly became a couple. >> did you think i'm lucky to have this girl? >> i did. we used to get compliments. you guys look so cute together. >> by 1999 hannah's friends and family thought she was growing distant. they worried that brad was tugging her into a world where she didn't belong. >> she thrusted everybody. >> saw the best in everybody. >> yes. >> didn't have her radar up? >> no, that's where we differed. >> now hannah hill had vanished into the night. out there somewhere, but where. thursday turned to friday. the close friends were frantic. >> brad and i were calling each other back and forth. i'm calling the hills.
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i'm paging her. she's not calling. that just wasn't like her. >> we're freaking out now. so we make out thousands of f fliers. ask we're passing them out, have you seen my sister? we heard nothing. >> the boyfriend took it a step further. he went down to the police station on that friday, the first of several visits to the cops. >> my girlfriend is is mising and doesn't seem like the police are doing very much. >> long days became longer nights with no word from hannah. by tuesday evening, she had been missing nearly a week. police finally turn to the media. >> an 18-year-old girl has vanished and tonight police are asking for your help. >> when it came across the cb she was missing, i got really real. >> the next morning a breakthrough. news that police had located hannah's car. it was parked on a quiet dead end street called cane road. jerry hughes then with the akron
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pd raced to the the scene. detectives popped the trunk. it was worse than he'd expected. >> you have seen a lot of stuff in a lot of years. how does this fit? >> it's sickening. it's something you can't unsee. you'll see that for the rest of your life. >> the the body of hannah hill had been found naked from the waist down, posed, her shirt pulled up. >> 7:30 this morning that the auto belonging to a missing person hannah hill had been seen parked on cane road. >> pictures of her car being towed away made the evening news. >> devastated. how could this happen? >> i just totally blacked out. every emotion just hit me all at once. >> what had happened to hannah and why. >> and who had killed hannah. police quickly focused on one man, hannah's boyfriend brad. coming up -- >> found out he was a drug
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dealer. he liked to chase other girls. >> when the night hannah hill disappeared continues. l disappeared continues. it's the last thing i want to do. well i switched to swiffer wet jet and its awesome. it's an all-in-one so it's ready to go when i am. the cleaning solution actually breaks down dirt and grime. and the pad absorbs it deep inside. so, it prevents streaks and haze better than my old mop. plus, it's safe to use on all my floors, even wood. glad i got that off my chest and the day off my floor. try wet jet with a moneyback guarantee ♪ how do you like it, ♪ how do you like it ♪ ♪ more, more, more ♪ how do you like it, how do you like it ♪ all you can eat is back. how do you like that? applebee's. now that's eatin' good in the neighborhood. when crabe stronger...strong, with new nicorette coated ice mint. layered with flavor... it's the first and only coated nicotine lozenge.
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hannah hill was buried in a family plot a day after what would have been her 19th birthday. for her friends back in akron, cane road, the quiet residential street where her car had been found became a place to honor her all too brief life. >> we put ribbons around a nearby tree for remembrance. >> for detectives the heat was on to find her killer. the akron police department was already facing intense scrutiny for taking a full week to find hannah's car. there it had sat on cane road where just hours after hannah first disappeared residents began calling police to come take a look. >> at least five neighbors
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called police. we have a car in our neighborhood that's totally unexplained. and you need to come out here. >> ed meyer was a reporter for the akron beacon journal. the neighbors saw car keys on the dashboard. a black eye for the department, police came and ticketed the car but failed to make the connection. >> how could this car have sat there since wednesday and not be connected with this? >> i think that's entirely possible for a car to be parked for many days anywhere in the city. >> did somebody drop the ball here? >> that's under investigation. >> was the investigation compromised horribly because of that delay? >> the condition of the body, the forensic results? >> very possible. it gave time for whoever did this to cover his tracks. >> who did do it? in the week after hannah had van ished, all the while her body in
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the trunk of the car, police restaurant trying to make sense of her boyfriend. when detectives checked him out with the family, they got an earful. >> mr. hill was never a a fan of brad. he didn't like him. and mr. hill made no bones about it. >> i try ed ied to pull her awam brad. when kids get something in their head, the more you try, the further they get away from you. >> hannah's friends saw things they didn't like about brad too. >> i probably told her she was better than that and could do better. and he wasn't good for her. >> and when they met him, police were struck by brad's demeanor. before the car was found, washington lacy, a police officer at the time, was pulling weekend duty when again into the station walked a fuming teen demanding to know what was being done to find his missing girlfriend. >> the first impression, he was
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abrasive. >> brad's attitude wasn't the only thing to catch the officer's eye. >> right away noticed some scratches on him. we kind of raised our eyebrows at that. >> lieutenant hughes was on duty and made note of the angry boyfriend with the scratches. >> he has physical injuries, coming on like a house of fire. >> either he was completelien innocent and concerned about his girlfriend or he had done something and was going to use us as a tool. >> could have fallen either way. >> right, right. >> the detectives said brad was visibly upset and told him he had been a bad boyfriend, jealous, controlling. >> we found out that he was a drug dealer and that he liked to chase other girls. >> it takes you pretty closely into means and motive opportunity country. >> take off your shirt. we need to get all your photos.
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we want full fingerprint asks palm prints. >> is he saying, slow down, i need to talk to a lawyer. >> absolute ly not. never said anything about an attorney, his rights, just find my girlfriend. whatever you need, find my girlfriend. >> then came the awful day they sdovrd the body. now we're hammering him, we're peppering him. if not you, who. i want more information. give me something to go on. >> to detectives brad was a puzzle. a angry and abrasive on one hand and yet cooperative and seemingly distraught about hannah's death on the other. >> it didn't click. >> questions still swirled around brd hours after the body was discovered. but now the case was about to spin off in a whole new direction. investigators had obtained hannah's phone logs and learned she made four calls on her last night. one to a girlfriend, two to brad and another to a boy named denny
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ross. >> denny ross, does it mean anything to anybody? >> detectives learned he lived in a three-bedroom apartment noex a porn shop. they drove over and knocked on the door. >> denny ross answered the door. he has a phone in his hand. i said hang up. i'd like to talk to you about this. he said, i have my attorney on the phone. >> an attorney? >> yes. i said, oh, that's a little different. >> and denny ross would share a surprising admission about a visit from hannah the very night she disappeared. coming up -- >> did that lead to murder? when the night hannah hill disappeared, continues. hannah l disappeared, continues chugga-chugga, charles! my man!
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award winning design. award winning engine. the volvo xc90. the most awarded luxury suv of the century. s. is welcome back. investigators learned brad was a drug dealer with a jealous streak and cooperating with police after his girlfriend hannah hill was found murdered.
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then another name turned up in hannah's phone records. denny ross, when detectives showed up at denny's apartment, denny surprised them with an admission. and they got a second surprise. a crucial clue that practically fell into their laps. once again, here's dennis murphy. >> investigators locking loo the murder of hannah hill followed her phone records to the doorstep of den any ross. denny was a friend of brad's. they knew denny as the host of a nonstop fun house ask crash pad. >> were you surprised hannah was hanging around with that crowd? >> no, i mean, we hung out with people that didn't do some fwraet stuff, but i guess we just kind of thought not that it was okay, but we weren't doing it so i guess we were pretty naive too. >> denny was days into probation on a drug charge and asked to
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have his lawyer present when detectives arrived for a conversation. once the lawyer showed up, detectives took out a tape recording and began an interview. >> denny told the detective he stayed in the night hannah disappeared. but then volunteered an astonishing bit of information. >> that makes him the plast known person to have seen her alife. >> absolutely. yes. >> denny offered up a tip for the cops take a look at brad.
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but denny, not brad, was suddenly the person cops ed ed know a lot more about. at 3:00 a.m. they returned to denny's in force with a search warrant. the officers charging up these exterior stairs said they heard a thud. it wasn't long before one of them found a garbage bag beneath his window. in it, hannah's missing clothing. >> is that case closed? >> it's not case closed, but it's a big factor. >> i called that bag of evidence the key factor in this whole case. the magic bag. >> critics of the police work in the case, like local journalists, were skeptical. >> we didn't buy it. why would he keep a potential bag of evidence that could hang him inside his apartment r for a full week. >> denny insisted he did not toss the bag out the window. his fingerprints weren't found on it and it didn't match any of the garbage bags he had at home.
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the officers didn't check the temperature of the bag and couldn't say a if it had been out nor minutes or days. still the next day denny was charged with hannah's rape ask murder. >> breaking news. an arrest has been made in the murder of 18-year-old hannah hill. >> the arrest of good time denny was incomprehensible to hannah's friends. >> i can't say why someone we knew would want to hurt her. >> you tell me who your boy is. >> denny ross, a young kid who got himself in a situation by telling the truth. >> he was an average, care-free kid oobt kpooited about a new job in internet marketing. >> personality, gheern. >> a person who doesn't stop smiling. it doesn't matter who you are. you'll feel at home around him because he has that personality. >> the medical examiner ruled
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the death a homicide by fitsuation saying she was strangled to death, but little else was clear. the me found semen inside hannah's body, but the sample wasn't useful because it had degradeed so much during the week her body lay in the trunk of the car. and then there were what critics saw as investigative lapses. police never checked brad's alibi the night hannah disappeared. never checked her pager records and never performed a key chemical test of the carpet in denny's apartment. >> the police investigators can spray a chemical on this alleged evidence and it will luminous and show blood and can be tested. that was never done. >> visible blood spots were found on denny's apartment walls, but in the dozens of samples of blood and fibers sent is out for testing, none came back to hannah. >> no dna or blood. she was killed there and there's no trace of her?
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>> yep. >> nor there was a trace of denny on or in hannah's car. >> good morning, ladies and gentlemen. >> despite the ambiguous evidence in october 2000, 21-year-old denny ross stood trial for the rape and murder of hannah hill. he pleaded not guilty and faced the death penalty if convicted. >> he beat her into submission so he could rape her. >> two young prosecutors argued their theory of the case. that inside that apartment denny had raped and killed hannah. they faced off against what the papers were calling a million dollar defense dream team hired by denny's father. the lead defense attorney was david chestnut from las vegas. >> police rushed to denny and ignored everything else. >> the girl's mother was called to the stand but not videoed. it all came down to the contents of the trash bag found beneath the window. of all the dna tests run on hannah's clothing spotted with blood, only one came back to
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denny. a small semen stain on the girl's underwear. hardly proof of a crime, said denny's lawyer. >> they are kids. they are fooling around. that doesn't mean he raped her. >> the case went to the jury. and in the midst of deliberations came a stunning turn. the judge quite unexpectedly walked into the jury room and declared a mistrial. she said she took that drastic measure because she was getting a report that one of the jurors was talking about a lie detector test not in evidence. a lie detector test hannah's boyfriend had taken and passed. that, said the judge, was jury misconduct. >> the court finds that the jury is unable to fulfill the obligations required by law. >> the prosecution team was stunned. >> it was not a good day. >> nor was it a good day for the defense. >> everybody was brokenhearted. >> denny's team was more
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heartbroken to learn when the judge sbruptd the jurors they had reached a decision on the major counts. dateline spoke with four jurors and had already signed and sealed the ballots on all of the charges except the lesser charge of manslaughter. >> not guilty. >> not guilty. >> not guilty. >> denny had come oh so close to being acquitted in hannah's murder. because jurors had voted in his favor, his lawyers went back to the courts to contest being tried again on grounds of double jeopardy. >> how does one get tried again for a crime that he was found not guilty of? >> denny waited in jail for over a year while the courts tried to sort out what to do. in september of 2001 he was released on a $1 million bond. >> it's great to finally be out. >> reporter: denny's freedom would be short livid. you'll hear more about that later. for hannah's friends and family, the shock of the violent death followed by the inconclusive
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trial took an enormous toll. brad now lived under a shadow of suspicion with people wondering if he killed hannah. he tumbled deeper into drugs and did time for robbing a bank. maybe hardest hit of all was hannah's mother kim. >> she went into a shell. it ripped our family apart. >> several years after hannah's murder, the figure of an angel appeared in a tree near where her car had been found. a small shrine to hannah's memory and for hannah east best friend it wasn't that she ever stopped thinking about her sweet friend, but found she couldn't talk about it. emotions all bottled up. >> so you went on with your life. and you have babies. >> yes. >> she never got to do that, did she? >> no. >> the case, whemeanwhile, was the deep freeze making a glacial
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procession through the courts. seasoned passed with no resolution. that was about to change in startling fashion. coming up -- a second trial, but at times it was hard to know exactly who was the defendant. was it denny ross? >> he was choking me from behind ask squeezing. >> or hannah's boyfriend. >> did you blame yourself for hannah's murder. >> yes. >> when the night hannah hill disappeared, continues. tz t hannah hill disappeared, continues tz ♪
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now back to "dateline." welcome back to "dateline extra." denny ross's murder trial had ended with a stunning twist. just as the jury was about to acquit him on the most serious charges, the judge declared a mistrial. denny was released on bond, but he was not off the hook yet. prosecutors would get another chance to prove he killed 18-year-old hannah hill. this time they would be armed with crucial new evidence and a bomb shell witness. here fwen is dennis murphy. >> the trial of denny ross for rape and murder had collapsed. years passed with the akron police department getting kicked in the teeth for losing the conviction with what so many called sloppy police work. >> people say it went down as a
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pd fumble. >> that's probably the way it's remembered by most. but defending ourselves is not what we're concerned with. solving the case is what we're concerned with. >> with a team of detectives and prosecutors, jerry hughes by then lieutenant hughes toiled away at hopes of a second chance at convicting dennis ross. >> the case went careening into appeals in the state, federal and the ohio supreme court. >> finally the ohio supreme court overturned lower court decisions and ruled that denny ross could be retried for hannah's murder. 13 years after hannah's death, the second trial began. hannah's mother was dreading it. >> kim said i have to be here every day. and i know that was probably hard for her. but that's just what she felt she had to do. >> the evidence will show on that evening of may 19th,
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1999 -- >> matt meyer was the prosecutor who laid out the theater roy of the crime. that hannah hill was lured over to denny ross's bachelor pad for a fatal encounter. nearly 70 witnesses were called. some of them testifying off camera to things denny had told them over the years about hannah's death. >> denny made a comment to me that he was going to [ bleep ] hann hannah. >> we were all having sex and i was having sex with this girl and ended up choking her. she died. >> this woman was a stripper back then and a regular at denny's place. for 12 years she denied being there the night hannah died. just months before the second trial she changed her story saying now she was there that night and hadn't spoken up earlier because she was afraid. >> while you were there, what did you observe?
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what did you hear? >> they were in the bedroom. >> did you know what was going on in that bedroom? >> i had kind of a good idea. i knew they were [ bleep ] around. when i heard her make weird sounds, i just said [ bleep ] this, i don't want to be a part of any crime scene and left. >> if they told you the son was going to come up you'd get a second opinion. >> 13 years later you look at somebody for who they are when they come before you. the jury can believe some, all or none of what these people testify to. >> then there were expert witnesses like this pathologist who said that dna testing had advanced so much in the years since hannah's death now they could detect denny's dna on blood droplets discarded in the trash bag and on the t-shirt found on her body in the car. >> the dna profile from it one of the cuttings from inside the pockets is consistent with denny ross.
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>> the new evidence his bhood on the victim's clothing seemed to belie his account of two teens making out. kissing and stuff. >> any intimate relationship there isn't an exchange of blood. >> one of the most electrifying witnesses was this one. who said she first met denny at a bar in 2004, five years after han hannah's death. denny was out on bond at the time. she said she invited him back to her place where she says he violently attacked her. >> how were his hands fixated on your neck. >> from behind, he was choking me from behind and just squeezing until i couldn't breathe. i couldn't breathe at all. i know i passed out a few times. >> what are you doing at this point? >> pretending i'm dead hope hessian can't see me breathe. >> choked during sex, battered and left for dead. the prosecution's implication was clear. is this what happened to hannah
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hill years before? >> people develop patterns of behavior. it's what we do. we form habits. and killers are no different. >> prosecutors knew denny's lawyers would offer an alternative killer in this trial. who would that be? the boyfriend. to preempt the defense team, prosecutors put brad on the stand. it was a risky strategy. >> i was a heroin addict for quite some time. >> the story brad told of his relationship with this nice girl hannah was for sure a warts and all presentation. >> i was not a good boyfriend. >> you explain to us whatnot a good boyfriend means? >> i was abusive. i abused her. >> did you verbally abuse her?
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>> yes. >> did you physically abuse her? >> you need to answer out loud. >> yes. >> brad testified that just days before hannah disappeared they had a big fight about him cheating on her and said that's when she scratched him. >> does that picture fairly and accurately represent the scratches that are on your arms. >> yes. >> most painful was the fact that he had introduced hannah to denny in the first place. >> but for you, hannah hill would never have met denny ross, is is that what you're saying? >> yeah. >> did you blame yourself for hannah's murder? >> yes. >> do you still blame yourself for hannah's murder? >> yes. >> did you kill hannah hill? >> absolutely not. >> the prosecutors had had had
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their chance to show brad as someone clearly not the killer, but now defense attorneys would have their crack at him. and all or nothing cross-examination. coming up -- did brad have a motive for killing hannah. maybe something he read in her secret diary. >> she wrote she had gone to denny's. did you read that? >> when the night hannah hill disappeared, continues. e night disappeared, continues not this john smith. or this john smith. or any of the other hundreds of john smiths that are humana medicare advantage members. no, it's this john smith. who we paired with a humana team member to help address his own specific health needs. at humana, we take a personal approach to your health, to provide care that's just as unique as you are. no matter what your name is. ♪
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now it was the defense's turn. they were hoping to convince the jury that brad was lying and the investigation had been hopelessly botched. here again is dennis murphy. >> through 13 years of hearings, appeals and trials, denny ross always had one loyal person in his corner. his father allen. >> did your kid kill hannah hill? >> no. >> in a moment of rough sex that went bad? oh, my god, she's dead, put the body in the car, ditch the car. >> then make yourself a suspect by telling the police she was there. no, no, by son didn't do this. >> allen sees hannah showing up looking for a shoulder to cry on. the teen upset her boyfriend brad, the guy she recently scratched up, had cheated on her her. the night unfold just as denny had told the cops. they fooled around a little, kissed and stuff and hannah left
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a few hours later. had someone been waiting below for her to leave the notorious party house? >> so denny ross was framed by the true killer is what you're saying. >> that's pretty obvious. >> that was the theory defense attorneys took to court. preparing for denny's trial number two was a daunting task. >> it turned out to be a 13-year investigation so there was an awful lot of data. >> they insist denny is nebt. the fallout of the heat that came down on the pd had failed to find hannah's car. >> once they found the bag of clothing outside the kin window, the case turned from an investigation into the death of hannah hill into an investigation of denny ross. >> denny's lawyers told the jurors about all the things police had failed to do. like check hannah's pager records or do a test of denny's place. they questioned how denny could have killed hannah in his apartment and left no trace of the murder.
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>> no blood, no exkrament, nothing that belonged to hannah hill and yet that's where they say she was murdered. >> denny's attorneys said those spots were so tiny they didn't prove anything and also challenged the notion that bleeding prove d a violent encounter. >> we get paper cuts. >> correct. >> mosquito bites. >> yes. >> the defense team challenged the credibility of prosecution witnesses in denny's circle back when. the former stripper who 12 years along had changed her story now testifying she heard denny hurting hannah the night she died. the defense team got her to admit she had smokened a lot of pot and had a pattern of lying. even b in a pretrial interview with denny's lawyer. >> you decided it was better to lie to me. correct? >> yeah. >> it was in your best interest
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to lie to me. >> yes. >> and when it came to this woman who had electrify ied the court by saying denny attacked and choked her, defense attorney hs lost the pretrial bat toll keep her off the stand. they insisted that no matter what she had to say, she couldn't tell the jurors anything about what had happened to hannah. >> dwrou know where hannah hill was in 19 at 9:00 p.m. to may 20th, 1999? >> absolutely not. >> no further questions. >> defense attorneys said the focus on the other witnesses was the prosecutors attempt to shift attention away from the true killer. >> the person who we still to this day believe killed hannah is her boyfriend. brad's ally bye as to where he was that night was that he was home watching television with his roommates. and they never interviewed the roommates. >> now denny's attorneys would
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have a shot at the one man that could create reasonable doubt in the case. they began by attacking his depiction of himself as a bad boyfriend. >> you were a bad boyfriend, but you were also abusive. >> correct. >> you hit this young girl. >> no. >> the lawyer tried to trip brad up on dates and times. >> you told us earlier today, i want to get this straight. >> you're trying to confuse me. >> but did brad have a motive for killing hannah. for an answer to that question, denny's attorneys would turn to hannah's diaries. >> page after page of entries in her own handwriting, you could argue she was fed up with brad and was reaching out on the very night she disappeared. >> that's got to be something for a jury to think about. >> it would be if i was sit issing on the panel. >> the diary entry speaking from her grave, her own words telling jurors who she was thinking of.
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denny. here on november 11th. again on december 2nd. and yet again on december 16th. in hannah's handwriting, denny. what's more the defense attorney got brad to admit he had read the diary cataloging the visits to denny. >> did you recognize where it said brad read this book. it hurt really bad. i never loved someone so much. >> i recognize the fact that she recognized i read the book. >> did you read that? >> i don't remember. >> was it jealousy then? was that the motive? >> you were concerned that denny might get one up on you. that any male was a potential risk to your relationship with hannah. >> correct. >> denny's lawyer closed by saying the state's case couldn't possibly add up to a conviction. inconclusive dna, a long string of sketchy witnesses and most of all, an angry, abusive, jealous
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boyfriend. >> in your drirks deliberations against who is the evidence stronger? if there's any kind of evidence against brad, we have reasonable doubt then. >> had the defense there was now more waiting, and just one hope: justice for hannah. >> the truth always comes out no matter what it is. >> coming up, the verdict in the second trial of denny ross. >> we have two families out there. we had to take our time and make that right decision. >> when the night hannah hill disappeared continues. l disappeared continues. award winning interface. award winning design. award winning engine. the volvo xc90.
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>>. >> welcome back. at denny ross's trial they presented new dna evidence and testimony from a woman who
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claimed denny attacked and choked her years after hannah hill's murder. the defense was the one who should have been on trial. hannah's family waited 13 years for justice and their wait was almost over. here with the conclusion of our story is dennis murphy. f our story is dennis murphy jurors deliberating, asked by the state to pass judgment on another human being. >> we have two families out there. we had to take our time and make that right decision. >> what would they make of the weeks of testimony? why a murder defendant who didn't even look like one? >> the first day i thought he was a lawyer. >> he had this boyish look as if to say, why am i here? i didn't do this. >> seven jurors in the case spoke to "dateline" and told us initially they were an evenly divided panel of 12. as they talked, it became apparent they regarded some of the prosecution witnesses as literally unbelievable.
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>> and you as a juror have to make a decision, do i believe this story this person is telling me? >> that's really hard. especially when they tell you how many drugs they put in their system. >> when it came to this woman, the one who testified about denny attacking and choking her, jurors said they believed her story about being assaulted. but nonetheless, her testimony was not a deciding factor in their final decision. >> you still would have gotten to where you got. >> yes. >> and once again, 13 years later, the investigation in the early days after hannah's disappearance still bedevilled the case. jurors said the police work left her with many unanswered questions. >> they didn't look at her pager and she was a major pager user. >> we can't figure out why they didn't luminol when they were first there. >> the wait was excruciating. >> it took a long time. >> yeah. >> the jurors said they weighed brad oborn's testimony carefully.
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>> did you believe his story? >> looking at his body language making contact with the jury, i believed him. >> none of us felt that it was him and none of his dna was there. >> so on friday, just after lunch, came word of a decision. lawyers, friends, family all assembled at the court. hannah's brother stayed away, shaky. >> i was at a friend's house waiting by the phone. i was terrified. >> all rise, please. >> in just moments, there was no more need for guesswork. >> count 1, is it your determination that defendant committed murder in this count in that he did purposely cause the death of hannah hill? is that your decision? >> yes, your honor. >> denny ross guilty on all five counts. in the back of the courtroom, hannah's friend tara was visibly shaken. >> i was a wreck.
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it was just very intense. >> i remember thinking, thank you, god, and a sense of relief all in one fell swoop. >> those long years of work for prosecutors and detectives had paid off. >> the only thing the state of ohio is going to say is that we are grateful to these jurors that they have finally provided an accounting for hannah hill's death. >> jurors told us that in the end it all came down to the blood evidence on hannah's clothes. >> the dna outweighed a lot of unknowns for us. >> it said denny ross was there. >> as a result of the hannah hill disappearance, the akron police department made many changes throughout the years, especially in the communications department to make sure mistakes like the failure to locate hannah's car never happen again. >> 13 years on, can akron residents be assured that the screw-up has been rectified? >> i believe so. there has been a lot of changes. >> denny ross was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison for
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hannah's death. he won't serve that time for years to come. what the jurors didn't know is that he is already serving a 25-year sentence for the rape and attempted murder of this woman between the two trials. he will be 67 years old before he is eligible for parole. >> we're disappointed. we had hoped for a different result. >> denny's lawyers filed a request for a new trial, which was denied. they are appealing the conviction and sentencing, and denny's dad has vowed to fight as long as it takes to clear his son. >> do i think there will be a round 3? you can bank on it. okay? bank on it. >> reporter ed meyer says he is suspicious to this day about how the bag of evidence appeared beneath denny ross' window. >> skeptics can still wonder. absolutely they can still wonder. >> as for brad oborn, he says he has been sober for two years. oborn was never regarded as a serious suspect by the authorities or hannah's friends and family. brad says he loved hannah and that living under a cloud of suspicion has taken its toll. >> do you feel like this verdict clears your name? >> i believe it has. i know i didn't do it. i know in the back of my mind i didn't do anything. the only thing i'm guilty of is being a bad boyfriend. and i can't change that. i wish i could.
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if i had three wishes, all three of them would be to change that. i can't. >> on a rainy sunday after the verdict, hannah's friends and family gathered for a balloon release in her memory. they passed around sharpies and wrote little messages for the lost girl. her brother. >> i'm just so glad it's over with, finally. now i can start mourning. >> her father. >> dad always loved you. >> the best friend. >> i said, hannah baby, i love you and miss you so much. fly high, my bright star. love, tara. >> and then after a brief prayer, they stood by the pond and the brisk wind carried away their goodbyes. >> let go. >> farewell to hannah hill. never forgotten by her family and friends, or as it turned out, by the criminal justice system. >> that's all for now.
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i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. >> she's the little girl who won the heart of the big city. >> they're call you the miracle baby. >> shot in the head at point blank range. a crime scene that shocked even hardened police. >> dora the explorer pillow had blood on it. >> as she fought to live, this detective vowed to catch whoever left her to die. soon he turned up a promising lead. >> bells and whistles go off in my head.


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