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tv   Nightline  ABC  September 23, 2017 12:37am-1:07am EDT

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this is "nightline." >> tonight, bad medicine. a beautiful veterinarian with the seemingly picture-perfect wife charmed by another doctor. >> i've always understood women very well. >> tangled up in an alleged murder for hire plot. the sting operation staged at olive garden. the body cam footage from the arrest. and what the accused is saying now from behind bars. >> are you dr. jekyll? or are you mr. he hyde? i'm here to swallow gum and take names! >> they may be comedians but their job is no joke. >> comedians are the philosophers of the times right now. >> we're with a former obama
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speechwriter who turned his pen to political comedy. >> i think we are revealing who trump is even faster than he's revealing himself. >> from "saturday night live" to "funny or die," a local comedy in the trump era. >> last night i solved afghanistan. solved! >> first the "nightline 5." endless shrimp is back at red lobster. we went all-out to bring you even more incredible shrimp and new flavors. like new nashville hot shrimp drizzled with sweet amber honey. and new grilled mediterranean shrimp finished with a savory blend of green onions, tomatoes and herbs. feeling hungry yet? good, because there's plenty more. garlic shrimp scampi and other classics you love. as much as you want, however you want them. endless shrimp won't be here long so
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we are the tv doctors of america, and we may not know much about medicine, but we know a lot about drama. from scandalous romance, to ridiculous plot twists. (gasping) son? dad! we also know you can avoid drama by getting an annual check-up. so we're partnering with cigna to remind you to go see a real doctor. go, know, and take control of your health. it could save your life. doctor poses! dad! cigna. together, all the way.
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good evening. thank you for joining us. tonight the disturbing story of a veterinarian and a doctor who fell in love and allegedly plotted to hire a hitman to kill their exes. police say it all unfold nld olive garden. we'll hear from a doctor behind bars, the audio diaries of his former lover, and the cops who orchestrated the sting operation. here's abc's matt gutman. >> i never wanted to hurt anyone. i hate the idea they think i'm a monster. >> reporter: monster, not a word valerie mcdaniel easily friends would use to describe her. >> valerie was an amazing human being. she had a light within her. >> reporter: and an alleged murder for hire plot about the last thing they thought she'd ever be involved in. >> i wanted to take time and tell my story from the beginning. try not to judge me. >> reporter: these audio diaries a window into a life
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by all accounts, everything seemed picture perfect. a loving mother living in river oaks, an affluent neighborhood in houston, a condo in this fancy high rise. and running a thriving veterinary clinic. >> she was so successful and so beautiful and funny and intelligent. >> reporter: but privately, valerie's struggling to rebuild from a failed marriage. >> she did not feel loved. >> reporter: until, that is, she meets this man, leon jacob, a brash doctor eight years her junior. >> i was lonely. and he kept me company. he listened to me. he was everything i needed. >> reporter: in her words, valerie fell deeply in love. leon can be charming and disarming, just ask him. it seems like you're a svengali, with a flick of a finger making this woman fall madly in love with you. >> without sounding like a pompous ass, i can only describe it as, i've
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women really well and they've always liked me. >> reporter: but it's the back end of some of leon's relationships that have been problematic. his first marriage ended in divorce, followed by charges of aggravated stalking and intimidation. >> attempted cyber harassment is what i pled guilty to. she went a little overboard with her complaints about about me. >> reporter: but his romantic troubles continued. the police were called to the scene of an alleged fight he had with a woman he was dating named megan back in january. according to the police report you busted her lip. >> okay, that's true -- >> you put a hand on her. >> i never put a hand on her. subsequently that charge was dropped because there was no evidence. >> reporter: cops charge leon was stalking her. >> ex-girlfriend says that he hides in the bushes and waits outside her workplace. >> they caught you loitering outside her office, she says in the bushes -- >> she says that. you can claim a lot of things, right? you can say, you kn
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came and took toe am krypton for the weekend, doesn't make it true. >> reporter: megan's gone but the stalking charge lingers. a felony conviction could keep him from ever getting his medical license. >> according to prosecutors, the way he's going to eliminate that problem is by eliminating her. >> reporter: investigators say that's what leads leon to this guy, a former army sergeant and purple heart recipient who calls himself zach. these days zach is bringing new meaning to the term "soldier of fortune." cops say zach promises to take care of leon's problem for a price. $5,000 in cash, two cartier watches, and a laptop. but according to investigators, zach takes the money and runs without ever firing a single shot. eventually the cops find out about the alleged plot and zach ends up working with them. >> zach tells us that mr. jacob has hired him to kill the victim in this case. >> reporter: prosecutors say that with police secretly
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informs leon he's outsourced the job. >> they have zach call leon and say, hey, i got a guy, he's going to do the hit for us. >> reporter: but that new guy is actually an undercover cop named javier. we've been asked now to show his face. >> i was shocked that leon wanted two people killed. and that his girlfriend, valerie, would also be involved. >> reporter: his girlfriend, valerie. the vet and new love in his life. and that second person they allegedly want whacked? her exhusband, mack. >> at that point they decide to meet at olive garden. >> they were sitting at this table? >> yes. >> reporter: at this very table the vet, valerie. leon, and zach and you've yes, sir posing as a contract killer. cops say hee onmade his target clear. >> he told me on more than one occasions that his survival is more important than hers. >> reporter: as leon and
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the undercover javier and valerie are left alone to discuss intended target number two. valerie's ex, mack. >> she said, i have no other choice, he's going to take my baby from me. >> and he finally gets her to say that she does in fact want him to be killed. >> reporter: police spring into action, immediately reaching out to valerie's ex-husband, mack, to tip him off. we've recreated the scene to show how the cops enlisted mack to stage his own death. >> they do a series of pictures of him dead. >> reporter: he agrees to pose for photos like these, complete with a bullet wound to his head. megan also agrees to assist in the sting, staging her own set of pictures, like these, to make it look like she'd been kidnapped. >> leon kept using the word "disappear, or he would say, i want her gone, i want her to go away forever. and i took that to understand that he wanted her dead. >> reporter: the cops are now ready to take their
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informing leon and valerie that mack has been killed. javier fill posing as that hitman. >> i begin to tell valerie and leon that mack was gone. that it was done. leon gives me the cash, and i count out $1,800. >> reporter: later that same day, javier says he informs leon that the other job is done too. megan is now a memory. >> so at that point, we close body cases. but we decided we wanted to go an extra step. so that extra step was the death notice. >> reporter: a death notice. now that's what cops call it when they have to notify next of kin that a loved one has passed. so now it's these police officers who have to give a performance. >> can we talk to you, please? >> yeah, come in, what's going on? >> reporter: it's all being recorded as potential evidence on polic
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>> i'm afraid we have some bad news. your ex-husband's been found. it looks like it turns out to be a fatality. looks like it might have been robbery gone wrong. sorry to have to tell you. have you heard from him recently? >> i heard from him last night. >> reporter: soon enough leon emerges from the bedroom. >> her ex-husband's been found tonight. >> oh my god. >> it looks like it might have been a robbery gone wrong. >> oh my [ bleep ]. >> wanted to see if anybody knows anything or -- >> no. >> might be able to help us? >> reporter: listen carefully to what leon says next. cops say it's sounding like he's establishing his whereabouts. >> we've been here all night. we were here all day with their daughter, watching movies. >> reporter: now police believe they have enough evidence to end the masquerade.
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>> all right, i'll tell you we'll need you to come with us and -- >> oh, so i guess i'll stay. >> okay, what, right now we're going to read you your rights. >> me? >> both of you are being arrested for solicitation of capital murder. solicitation of murder. >> reporter: there's another surprise in store for valle. as she's being hauled off to jail, someone's waiting outside her front door. it's her ex-husband, mack, back from the dead, waiting to take custody of their young daughter. >> i wonder what was going through her mind at that moment. that she handed her over to the man she tried to murder. >> both of you are being arrested. >> reporter: the two are charged with allegedly hiring a hitman to kill both their exes. >> nothing to state, your honor. >> no judge, thank you. >> reporter: four days later valerie released on a $50,000 bond. but just two weeks later, she took her own life.
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>> i didn't wake up one day and just say, hey, i want to kill my ex-husband. things just gradually happened. >> reporter: valerie's former lover, leon jacob, has been sitting in the harris county jail for almost seven months. he's awaiting trial on charges of stalking and solicitation of murder. when i sat down with him, he wouldn't talk about the details of his case. but denied any wrongdoing. >> i am innocent of these charges. i still maintain that throughout. >> did you hold yourself responsible for her suicide? >> no. that was a decision she made on her own. she had so much pressure on her, and i wasn't there to help support her. >> reporter: prominent defense attorney george parnum is representing leon. >> do you know of any recordingings? >> reporter: he gave us a preview of defense strategy, accusing police of entrapment. >> they were active
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capital murder. >> reporter: leon's in this pick pickle, according to parnum, because of valerie. >> valerie was extremely instrumental in a fact situation that lands my client in jail, behind bars. >> reporter: but leon says his feelings for valerie haven't changed. >> and i did love her. i still do. very, very much. >> reporter: he has pleaded not guilty to all charges. but if convicted, leon jacob could face life in prison. he is scheduled to go to trial in december. for "nightline," i'm matt gutman in houston. and next, is the president funny? what professional comedians are saying about comedy in the trump era. the mercedes-benz gle can help protect you from the unpredictable. and the distracted.
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there was a time when comedy was about taking a break from life's worries. now more and more it's about taking a stand. in the trump era, comedians are hitting politics hard. abc's nick watt is with top comics who say their work is needed now more than ever. >> ted cruz got caught liking porn on twitter. >> reporter: and this is how "funny or die" dealt with the allegation. >> how am i supposed to explain to my family that ted cruz might watch my videos? >> reporter: actual porn stars ridiculing him. >> on behalf of all porn stars, i just want to say -- gross. >> reporter: the brains behind it? est while obama speechwriter flexing his political pecs
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we made sure not only is it funny but what is the political angle? >> ted cruz thinks victims of rape and incest shouldn't be able to hit an abortion. >> we had a staffer who accidentally hit the wrong button. >> comedians are the philosophers of the times right now. >> last night i solved afghanistan. solved! >> and the emmy goes to -- >> reporter: alec baldwin won an emmy for his "snl" portrayal of the president. >> i suppose i should say at long last, mr. president, here is your emmy. >> reporter: he never won for "the apprentice." vents his "snl" anger on twitter. nine months into an objectively tumultuous trump administration, comedy is still grappling with exactly what to do here. how to do it. >> we wish that we could just make fart jokes, that would be nice. but this is not a moment for that. >> reporter: kathy griffin went too far, holding trump's severed head for a photo. she lost a lot of work.
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while the president himself retweets gifs of him hitting hillary with a golf ball. >> this president is so unlike what you're supposed to be as the head of a country. >> reporter: joy behar talked about trump on "the view." >> he pardoned an immigrant hater basher, sheriff arpaio. >> reporter: and wrote a book about him. >> there is so much grist for the comedy mill. having said that, it's a little scary at the same time. and comedy sometimes is at its best when there's a little fear involved. >> reporter: "funny or die" just opened a d.c. office. they're beefing up politics and he's the gate. >> i dress like i'm from d.c. so it's kind of, you know -- basically banana republic outlet mall sheep. >> david sticks out walking around the office. >> i'm glad you noticed. >> reporter: he did the jokes for obama like the anger translator at the 2015 correspondents' dinner. >> rising seas or violent storms -- >> you got mosquitos sweating people on the train, stinking it
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funny, self-deprecating book, "thanks obama and my hopy changy white house years." >> i didn't want to write about the inner circle because i was not in the inner circle. >> his first term he didn't know who he was. >> he definitely didn't know hoy was. >> reporter: now he makes funny videos. >> give it up for the trump family! >> we feel it legitimizes the content we make. like, why do people care about this so much? david can rattle off boom, boom, boom. >> i think we are revealing who trump is, even faster than he's revealing himself. >> reporter: but does all this really make any difference whatsoever? take it away, ellen's video doctoring. >> he referred to my hands, if there's small, something else must be small. i guarantee you there's no problem, i guarantee you. >> the hands annoy him. >> also the thing that seems to get to him is any joke that implies that someone has more power or is more respected than he is. "snl" did a joke about president bannon. >> hey, donald. that's enough fun for tonight.
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>> yes, of course, mr. president, i'll go sit at my desk. >> i think that really was one of the reasons that trump turned on him. >> reporter: he first met the fod folks when president bowl did the collaboration "between two friends." >> some of the episodes have probably been better. the one with bradley cooper. >> everybody loved bradley, good for him. >> i assume you've tried to get trump on "between two friends"? >> it's a badge of honor and a badge none of us would feel good about putting on him. >> reporter: most coastal comedians are left-leaning. >> who voted for trump? you'd not find a lot of takers. >> reporter: some argue some of this comedy is counterproductive to their cause. humanizing him. fallon ruffling candidate trump's hair for fun. or spicy yucking it up on kimmel. >> this is obviously a hard job. and, i mean -- it turned out to be kind of funny in a lot of ways. was it for you. >> funny? >> reporter: but is president trump, whoec
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the correspondents' dinner this year, is he actually funny? >> he's pretty funny. just the way he sort of, you know -- lumbers around. he's kind of physically funny. and of course the hair is hilarious. >> yes, i hate to admit it, yes. >> i believe you, we have talked about that. >> i think he knows what he's doing. >> i do too. >> i don't think he's funny. i think he has a sense of dropping. >> i could have said, mitt, drop to your knees, he'd drop to his knees. >> it's about asserting power. like in high school, what they're really doing is bullying. >> you should have seen this guy, i don't know what i said, i don't remember! >> reporter: unintentionally funny. >> the health systiste nambia h system is increasingly insufficient. >> reporter: namibia doesn't exist. >> this is really uruguay. >>
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>> it's a good moment but a difficult moment for the same reason. you have the press secretary at the white house hiding behind a bush to avoid taking questions. >> bring the bushes out, guys. >> i don't know where you go, it's hard to exaggerate that. >> reporter: for that matter, this. >> crowd was massive. this goes all the way down here. all the way down. this was a massive crowd. >> reporter: i'm nick watt for "nightline" in los angeles. >> we'll be right back. (dog) mmm. this new beneful grain free is so healthy... oh! farm-raised chicken! mmm...that's some really good chicken. i don't think i've ever tasted chicken like this. what!? here come the accents. blueberries and pumpkin. wow. that was my favorite bite so far. not even kidding. i mean that was... ...oh! spinach! mmm. that's like three super foods. pretty, uh, well...super. now i got kind of a pumpkin, chicken thing going on... ...whoop! time to wrestle. (avo) new beneful grain free.
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we are the tv doctors of america, and we may not know much about medicine, but we know a lot about drama. we also know that you can avoid drama by getting an annual check-up. so go, know, and take control of your health. it could save your life. cigna. together, all the way.
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thanks for watching abc news. as always, we're online at and our "nightline" facebook page. thanks for the company, america. have a great weekend. >> one player, three lifelines. $1 million. any questions? good. let's play "who wants to be a millionaire." [cheers and applause] [dramatic music] ♪ hey, everybody, welcome to the show. you guys ready to
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"millionaire"? let's do it! let's welcome our next contestant who's getting married in just days! >> yeah. pretty exciting times. >> there's still time. [laughter] he's from washington, d.c. dan feitel--how you doing, dan? >> i'm great, happy to be here. >> good to have you here. >> thank you. >> well, if you get married, you could use some spending money for that honeymoon. >> it could change the honeymoon pretty significantly, depending on what happens here. >> well, let's do it. you have 14 questions, the money values growing from $500 all the way to that $1 million. [cheers and applause] you have the three lifelines there if and when you need them. you ready to go? >> let's do it. >> all right, let's play "who wants to be a millionaire"? [dramatic musical flourish] ♪ a $500 question starts us off. good luck--here we go. said to be the world's heaviest building at over 700,000 tons, romania's palace of the parliament contains all but which of the following?


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