tv Death Row Stories CNN August 14, 2015 11:00pm-12:01am PDT
it gives me that peace inside. i can look people in the eye. i have done nothing but tell the truth. my innocent blood will be on their hands and they will have to answer for that one day. may not be here, but they will may not be here, but they will have to answer for it. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com on this episode of death row stories, young newlyweds are brutally murdered. >> the two had been suspects all along. >> they were clearly capable of committing murder. >> but with a man sentenced to death -- >> i've done some bad things in my life, but i've never done anything like this. >> and his own family doubting his innocence. one cop fights to reopen the case. >> you ask, how was a murder too
politically sensitive. why can't you speak out about corruption? this case stinks. >> there's a body in the water. >> he was butchered and murdered. >> many people proclaim their innocence. >> in this case, there are a number of things that stink. >> this man is remorseless. >> he needs to pay for it with his life. >> the electric chair flashed in front of my eyes. >> get a conviction at all costs. let the truth fall where it may. ♪ >> the tiny town of paris, illinois, is located 200 miles south of chicago. neighbors in paris know one another and sleep with their doors unlocked. >> three words to describe paris. conservative, agricultural, and
small. >> on a mid-summer's night in 1986, the easy calm of paris was shattered by a fire at the home of dike and karen rhoads. inside, firemen discovered the lifeless bodies of the newly wed couple. but they soon realized the rhoads had been killed by something other than smoke and flames. >> dyke and karen rhoads had been stabbed numerous times. what they had on their hands was a murder that attempted to be concealed by arson. >> yesterday, authorities were suspicious. today they are certain. 28 year old dyke rhoads and his 25-year-old wife karen were murdered. edgar county state attorney says
they are dealing with more than just a fire. >> this was a horrific crime. it seemed to be a crime of great anger and great passion. >> why dyke and karen rhoads? they're both very clean cut. they both had jobs. there was talk in town that dyke was a bit of a partier, but he wasn't involved in any bad stuff. >> with no clear motive, police struggled throughout the summer to come up with any leads or suspects. >> there was really no break in this case at all for about two and a half months, but in september, the town drunk, darrel herrington was at the police station. he blurts out, just don't ask me about the murder. and of course, they ask him about the murders. >> darrell herrington told police on the night of the murders, he had been out drinking with two locals named randy steidl and herb whitlock. on the way home, herrington
passed out in the back of steidl's cars and was later awakened by the sound of screams coming from the rhoads' house. herrington who spoke through an artificial larynx described what happened next. [ indiscernible ] >> herrington said he was startled and entered the rhoads' home to find steidl coming down the stairs. >> what happened after you got in the house? [ indiscernible ] >> did you notice anything different about randy at this point? >> he had blood on him. >> did he have anything with him? >> he had a knife. >> despite herrington's shocking story, police had a problem.
>> when darrell herrington came forward and told his story, there wasn't enough probable cause to arrest randy or herb because they didn't feel confident that they could convict based on a guy like darrell herrington. >> but a few months later, another witness came forward, who confessed that she'd helped steidl and whitlock stab the newly wed couple. >> okay, tell me what you saw happening. >> blood everywhere. >> where's herb and where's randy? >> one was on the right side of the bed, and one was by the door. >> when you walk into the bedroom, what was karen rhoads doing? >> she was yelling, oh, my god, oh, my god! >> reinboldt also gave police the murder weapon, a five-inch knife and agreed to testify in exchange for leniency.
police now had enough to arrest steidl and whitlock. >> i think the brutal nature of the slayings, the fact that it was a double homicide, the other aggravating factors that our office will likely seek the death penalty. >> both herb whitlock, age 41 and randy steidl, age 35, had histories of petty crime. news of their arrests reached steidl's brother rory, an illinois state trooper. >> for randy, he drank, being a bar setting, if he got angry or someone started something, there was a crowd and consequently, there would be problems. my master sergeant called my and said your brother's been arrested for double murder. in my mind, the illinois state police were involved in the investigation. number one, he's got to be guilty. number two, he's going to face the death penalty.
and number three, a jury in east central illinois, they're going to give him the death penalty. >> that night, rory steidl met with investigators. >> they said that if you'll get him to confess, we'll spare him the death penalty, otherwise he's getting the death penalty. i marched right up to the jail. asked to talk to randy. >> i'm pacing back and forth in this holding cell, he came up to me. he goes, i talked to the prosecutor. i've talked to jack hafferty. >> i said they're going to come up with hair, fiber, any type of trace evidence, they're going to get you and you're going to get the death penalty. so if you did it, you need to let me know now. >> he slammed that stool down. and screamed they don't arrest people that aren't guilty. and that's just -- that's my little brother telling me that. i'll just confess, cooperate, and they won't seek the death penalty?
>> i was thinking, my god, we're talking about your life. i don't want you to die. i went up there to try to save my brother's life. >> randy steidl went on trial for the murders of dyke and karen rhoads in 1987. >> the prosecution's case was that randy and herbie were dealing drugs to dyke rhoads and that dyke owed herbie money for drug debt that he hadn't paid. >> prosecutors focussed special attention on the testimony of eyewitnesss darrell herrington. >> they knew certain things in our minds, you don't believe the town drunk. >> and debby rhinebolt, who described seeing them stab the
rhoads to death. she also described a broken lamp she saw in the rhoads' bedroom. >> the prosecutor in his closing argument made repeated references to the lamp to bolster the credibility of debbie reinboldt. >> debbie's testimony was a little bit of a revelation. she was vivid, convincing, and you've got to remember, in chanpaign county, i'm used to having witnesses testify on behalf of the state. those are the people who are present when homicides occur. >> after a one-week trial, the jury was out for just six and a half hours. >> i sat down next to my attorney, the judge ordered the jury to come in. i don't see their faces because they're looking at the tops of their shoes, and i know it's not going to be good. your stomach and your heart's in your throat because i'm listening for two words, "not guilty." and i only hear one word. it doesn't sink in until i hear my mother wailing behind me.
i never will forget that. and i realize just then they just convicted me for double murder i had nothing to do with. and i'm telling you, it's like somebody just reached over and turned the light switch-off on your life. >> though herb whitlock was convicted of only one of the murders and sentenced to life in prison, randy was found guilty of killing both dyke and karen and sentenced to death.
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sent to death row for the murders of dyke and karen rhoads. while preparing randy's appeals, the defense hired bill clutter to help with the case. >> the first time i met randy, he was going into what they call the condemned unit and having a prisoner who's shackled and brought in front of you. i mean, the reality of that really hits you. >> you know, i was pretty distraught, angry with the system. my hopes were dashed. >> attorney mike metnick, a death penalty specialist, handled randy's appeals. >> randy was assigned an execution date, but it's an incredibly long process to get from point a to point b.
>> mike metnick and bill clutter come to see me. laid out the case. told me, said it's going to be an uphill battle, but they believe in me. >> in the year 2000, the illinois state police who investigated the rhoads murders promoted veteran officer michael callahan to commander of investigations. it was his dream job. >> police officers, their integrity, what they did was never questioned. whatever they said or they did, you believed it as the truth. >> i believe that mike, as a person, his set of morals and standards are so high. his sense of right and wrong has never faltered. >> callahan's first assignment was to review the rhoads murder case. >> i got a call from the patrol lieutenant, and he advised me that i was going to be get being a case to review.
there was going to be a 48 hour show on that case and the command was a little bit concerned. >> reviewing a closed case was unusual, but his bosses at the illinois state police worried that newly-focussed media attention might cause problems. >> my initial thought was of course they got the right guys. the illinois police don't make mistakes. we don't put innocent people in prison. but i will never forget the day i walked in and looked at the file sitting there and i had not even turned the first page when i got a phone call from the sergeant and he blurted out, please don't ruin my reputation. i'm not a dirty cop. so it was a definite red flag to me. >> callahan began by going through the prosecution's timeline of events, starting with darrell herrington's
drinking with steidl and whitlock. >> what happened? [ indiscernible ] >> randy and herbie and randy's vehicle drove to dyke and karen rhoads' house the night of the murder, brought darrell herrington with them. asked him to wait in the car. >> as herrington stayed in the car, steidl and whitlock went to the front door to confront dyke rhoads. >> darrel herrington said he heard them arguing about money. when they argued, they could get very heated. >> herrington later heard screams. inside, he discovered the crime scene. >> what happened when you went in the bedroom, darrel? >> there was a body laying there. [ indiscernible ]. >> darrell encountered randy and herbie, bloody, and was told you didn't see this or the same thing will happen to you. [ indiscernible ]
>> but police reports show debbie reinboldt also claimed to have been with steidl and whitlock that night. >> debra reinboltt comes forward with a story that says, well, i was with herb and randy that night and they invited me to come along with them to the rhoads' house. >> what position was karen rhoads in? did she try to leave when you cut her? >> no, i didn't cut her. >> so she was just lying there, watching steidl and whitlock stab her husband? >> yes. >> is that what happened? >> the stories from the key witnesses left callahan with a glaring question. >> they'd made this case based on the two eyewitnesses, but the eyewitnesses contradicted each other. >> darrell herrington was supposed to have been at the same scene and her story doesn't include him and his story doesn't include her. >> they never saw each other. never knew one or the other was there. that was a problem for me, as a police officer.
>> but this discrepancy didn't seem to bother lead prosecutor mike -- or the assistant state's attorney -- >> the reinboldt presentation was consistent with the physical evidence that i had. for example, she talked about a broken lamp, one of the firefighters, he found the same thing. from my view, that is what we call krob ration. >> but callahan was about to find evidence that would call into question both the lamp and the murder weapon debbie reinboldt had given police. withof my moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis... ordinary objects often seemed... intimidating. doing something simple... meant enduring a lot of pain. if ra is changing your view of everyday things orencia may help. orencia works differently by targeting a source of ra early in the inflammation process. for many, orencia provides long-term relief
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concerns were mounting for lieutenant michale callahan as he reinvestigated the rhoads' murders. >> when you have witnesses that have questionable histories, it's doubly important to corroborate everything that they say. >> debra reinboldt, in her story, talks about seeing a broken lamp. and seeing one of the men holding up a piece of this broken lamp during the murders. >> the crime scene photos of the lamp raised questions for
defense investigator bill clutter. >> you can actually see on the carpet where the firemen had removed the lamp, that there was a silhouette of an in tact lamp. what the lamp did was protected that area of carpet. we were able to prove forensically that that lamp had to have been broken by firefighters as they entered the room and after they suppressed the fire, not during the murders. >> that meant debbie reinboldt's testimony about the lamp had been false. even more troubling were facts callahan learned about the purported murder weapon. >> the knife that deborah reinboldt presented was a folding knife, where the knife bends over. that knife had a blade of 5 and some inches long. >> one of the things the pathologist did was measure the depth of the wounds. on both bodies, the wounds were more than 6 inches deep. we then took it to michael baden, a forensic pathologist and he provided us with an
affidavit and analysis. >> what board certifications do you have? >> three areas of pathology. anatomical pathology, pathological pathology, forensic pathology. >> there was a hilt on the knife. there would have had to been a hilt mark. i felt like, wow, i had this evidence that these two men are innocent. they're going to finally be freed. we're going to be able to actually conduct an investigation and try and find out who the real killers are. >> randy's incarceration had torn his family apart. randy's brother, state trooper rory steidl believed randy was guilty. randy's mother wanted to see for herself, so she visited him behind bars. >> you see your mother's eyes, tears streaming down her cheeks. sets down, she said you look at
me right now. did you have anything to do with this at all? i looked her right in her eyes. and i said, mom, i've done some bad things in my life, but i've never done anything like this. you know i'm not capable of doing anything like this. as soon as i got that out of my mouth, she was up and out of that visiting booth, slammed the door. >> when we left, she said he didn't do that, rory. i said, well how do you know? and she said by the way he answered my question. i looked him right in the eye. i know when he's lying to me. >> despite their mother's belief in randy's innocence, only hard evidence could shake rory's faith in the system. that evidence was about to come from an unlikely source. >> my epiphany came when i got the call from randy's attorney that said i just received a letter from debbie reinboldt that says your brother wasn't there. and that he had nothing to do with it, and that she's willing to speak to me.
>> do you swear that the testimony you're about to give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god? >> i do. >> proceed. >> thank you, mrs. reinboldt, my name is michael metnick. and i am the attorney for randy steidl. do you understand that? >> yes, i do. >> why is it that you're here today? >> because there were some things that didn't -- weren't truthful in the testimonies and -- >> were you there? at the rhoads' house the night they were killed? >> no. >> that's when i was done with the state's case. she was either there or she wasn't. who's she lying to? in either way, she's not credible. >> why did you mention randy steidl? >> why did i? >> yes. >> at that point? >> yes. >> because that's who everybody was saying did it.
>> okay. >> around the time of reinboldt's recantation, bill clutter obtained a previously unknown box of records from the paris police department. >> we're able to go through and view all of the police reports that included polygraph reports that had never been disclosed to us. a polygraph report where darrell herrington had failed the polygraph. but if reinboldt and herrington were lying, why had both of them fingered steidled and whitelock for the crime? randy thought he knew. >> two weeks before the they were murdered, herb whitlock and myself had went to the fbi about prosecutor mike mcfatridge. >> they believed the state's attorney was unfairly targeting them for drug deals they had nothing to do with. >> and they provided information about the state's attorney. and the allegation they made to the fbi was that he was
protecting drug dealers and gambling in paris, illinois. >> it was common knowledge to see the prosecutor out in bars every night, loaded. be up the next morning, he's in court prosecuting somebody for the same offense. that's what alerted me to the fact that he would do anything he could, you know, to frame me for the rhoads' murder. >> for callahan, this upped the stakes. >> my question was, would a state's attorney try to railroad and frame two men that were willing to go to the fbi and maybe have him arrested for his own illegal doing? >> callahan also learned disturbing information about one of the lead detectives in the case, jim parish who had secured debbie reinboldt's testimony. >> there was instances where both herrington and reinboldt will talk about how police induced them with alcohol. never in my life as an illinois state police officer have i ever seen such blatant disregard for policy and procedure. i mean, you would be destroying your case.
>> they did, in fact, take darrell to jimmy's cabin south of paris and did question him, and did buy alcohol for him. what kind of mental condition and physical condition are they in if they don't have alcohol and you have them at a secluded location? what are they going to tell you to get that drink? >> i wanted to open an investigation centering on jim parish and jack ekkerity and mike mcfatridge, look at them for misconduct, impeding a criminal investigation and worse. >> but mike callahan was about to discover the consequences of turning the spotlight on his own department. no artificial flavors,
m make -- michale callahan now knew the case against randy steidl was deeply flawed and needed to be reinvestigated. in the year 2000, he took his findings to his superiors. >> we went into the lieutenant's office, very plush. she closes the door, and she's in uniform. she sits down behind her desk. >> callahan walked her through the evidence, the conflicting testimonies and the recantations. he even highlighted reports that detectives parish and eckerty
had plied reinboldt and herrington with alcohol to shape their testimony. >> she looks at us, and she says, you cannot reopen the rhoads case, it's too politically sensitive. i flashback to all the days i went undercover, risking my life, and believing we would always do the right thing, no matter what, then you're told a murder is too politically sensitive, especially a murder where there's two innocent men in prison and there's misconduct by our own. you're ignoring this? >> callahan refused to comply with carper's orders and continued working on the case. >> those two guys were innocent. i had to keep going. >> he soon discovered a number of leads in the case that were never followed. >> there were any number of suspects. it was like murder on the orient express or something. >> when i reviewed the case, there were several other suspects that for whatever reasons the original investigators didn't follow those leads. one of the suspects in the case,
bill stark, he was a banker by day. there was rumors that he was a peeping tom that was seen in the rhoads' neighborhood at that time. that was never really investigated by the police. he would tell both his wife and family members that he remembered seeing a knife going up and down, and he believed that he was the one that killed dyke and karen rhoads. >> six months before randy's trial, phil stark was found dead of an alleged suicide. >> of course none of those reports made it into the discovery before randy's trial. and the interesting thing is about phil stark's suicide, phil stark, when he allegedly committed suicide was shot once in the head and once in the heart. i suppose it's possible to make those shots simultaneous, but to me, that raises some red flags. >> while mike mcfatridge had
cited a role with drugs as a possible motive for the murders, callahan found evidence about karen rhoads. >> there was one initial report from karen rhoads say she had seen her boss, bob morgan loading machine guns and large amounts of cash in his corvette and heading to chicago. >> bob morgan was one of the most powerful men in paris, and karen didn't want to cross him. according to her mother, she was considering quitting her job, but just a few weeks later she was murdered. >> i started looking at that case and saying, wow, this was definitely a motive. they did talk to bob morgan, and he gave them a statement that he felt that probably some bikers got drunk and went back to rape karen rhoads and things got out of hand and she was killed. >> bob morgan denied any involvement in the murders and passed a polygraph test. but callahan wondered if investigators had turned their
gaze away from the influential businessman for fear of political pay back. >> one of the very first suspects that police also looked at was a drifter put up at the hotel france downtown four blocks from the crime scene. according to the radio dispatch logs, he was the very first suspect after they discovered the bodies. around 9:00 a.m. in the morning, jack eckerty of the illinois state police goes to the hotel france. and by that time, he'd already checked out and was long gone. >> clutter believed that drifter was none other than tommy lynn sells, one of the most notorious serial killers in the country. >> i like to use a knife. a gun is too, too violent, too, too noisy. i like to watch the eyes fade. the pupil fade. it's just like setting their soul free.
>> i get this letter from tommy lynn sells after i interview him. in this letter he makes this cryptic remark about the eiffel tower, ever been? it's nice this time of year. of course it's a reference to paris, illinois. i'm convinced he committed the murder. >> tommy lynn sells was executed in texas in april 2014. >> you had all these different characters who you could read the possible narratives, and i don't see any way that any of these stories hung together. we don't know who killed these guys. >> by now, randy steidl had spent nearly 12 years on death row and lost all of his appeals. and he was about to come face to face with his final chance at freedom. it takes technology, engineering and coordination for pga tour professional rickie fowler to hit the perfect shot.
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randy steidl had spent almost 12 years on death row while his attorney, michael metnick filed appeals in his case. one of metnick's main arguments was that randy's original trial attorney had been infective. >> i could best describe john muller as being a real estate attorney on monday and car accident attorney on tuesday, and on friday, a criminal defense attorney. he was ineptly unqualified.
he ignored the case. >> as close to zero as there is. that was the amount of work that went into the fact investigation for randy steidl's case. >> i would challenge him when the witnesses were taking the stand against me that, you need to talk to so-and-so to impeach them. that's a lie. and he patted me on the back and said, don't you know what my job is? and i said, yeah, prove my innocence. no. no. my job is to create a reasonable doubt. once he said that, before i was convicted, i realized, i'm done. >> there's not much to say. the jury ruled against us. i didn't think they would, and that's that. tomorrow morning we have a hearing on the death sentence. >> in 1999, after years of appeals in the illinois courts, metnick finally had a break through in randy's case.
while the judge did not give randy a new trial, he agreed that randy's attorneys had been ineffective during sentencing and changed randy's sentence from death to life in prison. >> luckily, i got life without parole. many attorneys have told me it's far easier to get a new trial when you're doing life than it is on death row and have lost all your appeals. >> michael callahan had looked into randy's case and found serious misconduct within the illinois state police. but before defying his boss by releasing the results of his investigation, callahan needed to tell his wife, lily. >> when he got this case, he started coming home and doing unusual things. waking up in the middle of the night. he would bring flow charts, put them down our hallway and connect the dots for me.
i told mike that i think if you're quiet and not fighting back and not trying to reveal the truth and not speak out, then you're a part of the problem. >> callahan decided to defy colonel carper. he sent his findings to illinois attorney general jim ryan, but jim ryan declined to review callahan's report because he'd been accepting campaign money from bob morgan, karen rhoads' former boss and a suspect in the case. mike callahan was soon transferred back to patrol, a humiliation for someone who had been a commander of investigations. >> i guess i just tried to tell the truth and he said diane carper removed me from this case. it was a hard time. it was one of those fight or flight things where we just had to fight.
>> by 2001, the illinois courts had repeatedly declined to give randy a new trial. randy's last chance at freedom would now come at the federal level. >> it is the court of last resort. after 15 years of state court findings, most federal judges assume that those state court findings are correct. >> judge mike mccuskey would oversee the case, a veteran of the bench, mccuskey had never granted a petition for a new trial. >> you would think year after year, is somebody going to come with a case that you can look at and say this case was decided wrongly? you always wonder, if 100% of all your cases are going one way, are you looking at them correctly? >> fortunately, randy got the fresh eyes of a federal judge that was not connected to the prosecution in paris, illinois. was not beholden to the cops in paris. >> you've got witnesses that
supposedly came off the street and are up watching a horrible murder, and they don't see each other. that is just unheard of. >> you have a federal judge that's saying that there was evidence favorable to randy steidl's case that was never disclosed by the prosecution. these are the same things i'd been telling the state police for three years now. >> on june 17th, 2003, i entered the following order. petitioners' conviction is hereby vacated. the state shall have 120 days from the date of this order to release or retry randy steidl. >> when judge mccuskey granted me a new trial, i was still holding my breath because i'd watched guys on death row get a new trial and have the attorney general appeal it and have it taken away, and within 60 days they're strapped to a gurney being executed.
>> one thing i could state with a degree of confidence in this business, there's no certainty. no certainty at all. >> randy's fate would now rest in the hands of illinois's new attorney general, lisa madigan who would decide to release randy or try him again. callahan knew he'd have to get his findings to madigan now or live forever with the knowledge that he'd failed to help set an innocent man free.
the state of illinois was facing an ultimatum in the randy steidl case. retry randy for the rhoads murders or set him free. michael callahan now had a small window to deliver what he'd discovered about the case. one day he got a call from the deputy attorney general. >> i went over everything in the case, my concerns of misconduct, the fact that the two eyewitnesses had no credibility. had detectives had actually distorted and lied in reports, witnesses that were ignored. >> but mike mcfattridge who prosecuted randy steidl thought the jury got it right the first time. >> ever since the attorney general, lisa mad began, came in
charge of the appeal, the case has been mismanaged either from indifference or incompetence. they were clearly capable of committing murder and that was proven. >> prosecutors to the bitter end always maintain that the person is guilty. because otherwise, it's to admit that they and the police that worked with them fabricated evidence. >> in the end, based on callahan's report and a lack of faith in the evidence, attorney general lisa madigan decided that judge mccuskey's ruling was the correct one. >> it's been 17 years, three months, one week and two days. i'm ready for it to end. >> we weren't willing to believe that randy was going to be freed until he actually walked through the doors. >> it was a perfect day, you know, the sun was out, not a cloud in the sky. they usher us all in. we have an opportunity to get
randy, you know, psychologically prepared for the moment when he's going to step out. >> ready to go. [ applause ] >> walking behind this, you know, parade of heroes who made this happen. you know, just like passing by the walls and thinking, damn, this is really happening. >> you ready? >> let's go! >> it's a flood of emotions. and my mom was, mom held up real good. everybody did. >> you know, that day was very, very special. >> in 2005, randy filed a civil suit against the state of illinois for wrongful imprisonment. while he was in the courthouse,
he and mike metnick paid a visit to the courtroom of judge mccuskey. >> and he saw us in the gallery. >> i looked at him. i mouthed these words. is that randy steidl? and he nods his head yes. i recessed the court. as i'm saying this right now, i'm even getting goose bumps. >> then mccuskey signals us to come back in chambers. >> there was a split second where you just hug. i didn't cry. i came close. >> starting to get emotional. >> i knew how difficult it was to get to that point, to have a judge overturn 15 years of state court findings. it's almost unheard of, and i was trying to think of something to say to the man. the only thing i could think of was i shook his hand and said thank you for giving my life back.
>> we make decisions every day, but we don't save lives, police do, firemen do, heroes. but that day i knew i'd saved his life. >> mike callahan's fight to bring about the truth of corruption and misconduct in randy's case had ruined his career. in 2003, he sued the state of illinois for violating his right to free speech. >> i was angry. i felt betrayed by my department. the only thing i'm guilty of is wanting to solve a homicide, look for the truth. >> callahan won his lawsuit but before he could collect his reward, the supreme court declared that the government employees didn't have free speech protection the they were talk about something that involved their work. it was a huge setback for whistle blowers. >> the ruling tells police officers, why risk being fired.
why risk all the turmoil, just turn your back to it, as long as you're not the one doing it. >> in 2008, mike callahan's $700,000 award was officially overturned. >> knowing that i'm free to walk out that door anywhere i want to go, that gave me a lot of peace. >> i think it's supposed to be 80 today. >> randy puts a lot of value on our family and on family relationships. and i'm glad that he's able to enjoy his life now and that i'm a part of it. >> the reason i'm here today are the people that would stand up and risk everything. everything they worked for. because of what's right.
i'm extremely lucky. justice is what the rhoads family should have. they're the ones that deserve some justice. ♪ >> we cannot escape history. today in this room, by a constitutional majority of the members elected to the illinois general assembly and by my actions as governor, we've abolished the death penalty in illinois, the land of lincoln. this is the most difficult decision that i've made as governor. it was made after many days and it was made after many days and nights of reflection and review.
-- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com on this episode of death row stories, a white woman is brutally murdered. >> blood splattered on the walls. the brutality of the crime scene was unbelievable. >> and a black man is arrested. >> his fingerprint was found. there were a number of hairs on the victim's bed. >> but after a death sentence, a law intern has her doubts. >> there was something wrong. i started seeing what the lies were. >> and the case begins to unravel. >> there are those that have a hidden agenda. >> is it a fair trial? >> corruption is the theme of the day almost. >> there was no way i was going to let thi