tv Eyewitness News at 11 CBS August 15, 2015 11:00pm-11:36pm EDT
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>> i was put in jail for 17 months on charges i've nothing to do with, and they set bail for me at $6 million cash only. >> reporter: but everything changed for ron santiago once defense attorneys joseph riggs and natalie bruce agreed to take his case and prepare for a trial. >> from the first time we met him, we knew that we had an innocent man. >> reporter: they quickly got bail reduced to a million dollars, allowing santiago's family to post the 10% bond. still, being out of jail by no
means meant his troubles were over because of what police found in santiago's home. how important is that casing that was found in santiago's bag in his garage? >> oh, i think it's absolutely critical. >> reporter: district attorney kari brandenberg. >> he has that casing in his possession that was found in his home that we know was connected to the homicide. why would he have that if he weren't involved in the homicide? >> reporter: and what happened to that nine-millimeter ruger that santiago admitted he once owned? so, what happened to your nine- millimeter ruger? >> i traded it. >> reporter: to who? >> you know, we've been knocking heads for the last year and a half, trying to remember. >> reporter: you don't happen to remember the name of the guy you gave this nine-millimeter... >> robert... but i don't remember a last name. it was just a simple, "okay, i'll... yeah, that's great." >> reporter: and there's no paperwork? nothing to prove that you... >> that's my mistake, and i should have. >> reporter: a convenient mistake, according to brandenberg. >> i mean, there's too many huge gaps in what he has to say.
and the shell casing, to me, has not been explained. >> reporter: that shell casing, which looks like this, is incriminating, which is why the defense wanted to have it thrown out as evidence, arguing that the police obtained it as part of an illegal search. that began a six-year legal battle. it went all the way to the new mexico supreme court, which finally ruled that the shell casing could be used as evidence against ron santiago. >> the defense is going to raise every single issue that they can, and they should, in order for the defendant to receive a fair trial. >> reporter: riggs then turned his focus to what he says was a flawed police investigation. >> they stopped looking at some people that were very obvious suspects too soon. >> reporter: specifically this suspect. >> i think renee killed her parents. she hated new mexico, she hated her parents. it was her ticket out of new mexico.
>> reporter: though police had long cleared renee, in a surprising move in 2012, a prosecutor then working the case asked renee to take a polygraph. >> what's your understanding of why they've asked you to do it? >> because i've offered it before, and it's never been done. >> reporter: a police detective administered the test. >> do you know for sure who shot your parents in their bedroom? >> no. >> is there something else you're afraid i'll ask you a question about? >> no. >> reporter: she didn't pass and she didn't fail. it was inconclusive. >> there's nothing of... that you think that... anything else... >> there's nothing. why would i alter my story? >> new mexico is the only state in the union, the only courts that allow polygraph because they've been proven to be inaccurate, invalid and don't further the interests of justice. >> reporter: she did a polygraph
at the request of your office, but you're trying to keep those results out? >> because they aren't results. because they say nothing about anything. >> reporter: but the d.a. lost that fight, so the jury will be allowed to hear about it. jurors will not hear that santiago pled guilty to forging bad checks because a judge ruled that was irrelevant to the murder charges. nor would jurors hear about the tale of the cut brake lines. so, in january 2014, more than eight years after the murders of greg and bernadette olemacher, the trial of ronald santiago finally gets under way. >> all right, please come up, miss ohlemacher. >> reporter: yet almost from the outset, the focus shifts dramatically to renee. >> you appear to be nervous. are you nervous? >> yeah. >> why are you nervous? >> never done anything like this before. i've never been in court. >> reporter: the prosecution
presents her as a victim. >> have you experienced any psychological trauma because of the death of your parents? >> oh, yeah. i definitely have some major p.t.s.d. >> reporter: renee's professed love for her parents is now expressed in tattoos on her body. >> this one is my mama's handwriting. it says, "i love you eternally, mommy." >> reporter: and on her other arm... >> my mom and dad's signature. >> mr. riggs... >> reporter: but in his cross examination, santiago's lawyer spends hours focused on what he suggests are renee's true feelings about her parents, those she wrote about as a teenager. >> "what in the hell is happening to me and my mom's relationship? she makes me so ( bleep ) angry. my dad, i don't know, he just doesn't like me." you didn't really like your parents? >> i did like them, regardless of what my diaries say. >> reporter: but renee has
nothing good to say about her extended family that made her the target of their suspicions. she even refuses to acknowledge her grandmother at the trial. >> that is my mom's mom. >> you won't even call her, "grandmother," will you? >> no. >> she's sitting in the back of the courtroom there, and you won't call her, "grandma?" >> no. >> reporter: the defense also raises the mystery of sammy the dog. remember the notoriously noisy dog not heard barking when renee called the police? >> she had just went silent, and i was afraid that the person had shot her, too, that i was going to go in there and she was going to be dead, too. >> reporter: but sammy was far from dead when police arrived at the scene. >> going up the stairs, we encountered a dog. >> and what was the dog doing? >> it was barking and growling at us. >> and what did you guys do with the dog? >> i believe we had somebody mace the dog so that we could actually get to the top of the stairs. >> reporter: so, why was sammy
quiet during the murders? >> the only reasonable explanation is renee did something with the dog, put the dog in her room. >> reporter: but prosecutors say that's nonsense and charge the defense is simply trying to divert the jury's focus from the defendant, ron santiago, and that damning shell casing. you must think that someone planted it. that's the only other way. either you had that shell casing... >> which i did not. >> reporter: ...or someone put it there. >> it was put there. ♪ to you, they're more than just a pet. so protect them... ...with k9 advantix® ii. it's broad-spectrum protection kills fleas, ticks and mosquitoes too. k9 advantix® ii. for the love of dog™. it's a highly thercontagious disease.here. it can be especially serious- even fatal to infants. unfortunately, many people who spread it may not know they have it.
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>> reporter: ron santiago has been living under the weight of a double murder charge for nearly eight years. >> it's the most terrifying thing anyone could go through. >> reporter: he remains adamant about one thing. >> i'm not guilty. i didn't do these crimes. i did not kill mr. and mrs. ohlemacher. i did not kill them. >> you may call your next witness. >> reporter: and now, with renee ohlemacher finally off the stand, prosecutors begin to focus their case against ron santiago. >> your honor, at this time, i would offer michael haag as an expert in forensic firearm and tool mark examination. >> this portion of the cartridge casing is called the head. >> reporter: michael haag, a firearms expert, was asked to determine if the shell casing
found in santiago's gun bag was fired from the same gun used to kill greg and bernadette ohlemacher. haag goes deep into the metal to study and compare the microscopic markings on the shell casings found at the crime scene, labeled c-1 through 4, with the one found in santiago's gun bag, labeled c-2oo. >> c-200 on the left side, on the right side is c-3 from the homicide scene. we're going to zoom in little bit by little bit. we see the beginnings of some similarities. we have a nice impression here, with another little guy above him and then correspond that with another little guy above that. these are fantastic correlation marks between these objects. my conclusion is that c-200 was fired by the same firearm that
was used to fire c-1 through c- 4. >> reporter: the match is undeniable. even santiago seems convinced. >> oh, i agree completely with his finding. i mean, looking at the photographs, it matched the shell casing from the crime scene. was it the same gun that fired the bullet? yeah. >> reporter: i mean, you have to admit, it looks like it's shot from the same gun. that's... that's damaging. >> that's right. that's why we had to raise the suspicion about how that single shell casing got in that bag. >> reporter: riggs wants the jury to believe that police found more than four shell casings at the crime scene. >> but you saw five or six shell casings. you documented it, you told everybody. >> five or six, yeah. and if i was off by one, i was off by one. >> reporter: and riggs suggests that one extra shell casing could have been planted in santiago's gun bag. he zeros in on detective carl ross, the investigator who led
the search of santiago's house in june of 2006. investigators took over 100 photographs documenting their search. >> we found a bag with ammunition and a casing in the garage. >> reporter: that bag was filled with gun oil, live ammunition and pens. the police began photographing the contents, and each photo is digitally time stamped, detailing the exact moment each one was taken. >> and the time on that? >> 11:29. >> in this photograph, we do not see a shell casing there. detective ross, the time, please. >> 11:31. >> they take yet another photograph and go closer. there is no shell casing at the bottom of the bag. >> reporter: but then, at 11:31, the photography of the gun bag is interrupted, and when it resumes ten minutes later at
11:41, those pens are gone, and instead... >> the very next picture shows a shell casing and gauze. >> reporter: riggs hopes the jury will wonder why that shell casing suddenly appeared. >> having a ten-minute unexplained, undocumented period of time makes the planting of the shell casing plausible. >> that's baloney! >> reporter: "ridiculous," says prosecutor cheryl johnston. >> if you are going to plant evidence, why would you take pictures of it not being there and then a picture with it being there? >> reporter: you don't believe that at all? >> no, absolutely not. >> reporter: what johnston finds suspicious is santiago's missing nine-millimeter ruger. the defendant won't take the stand... >> i think i had that ruger for two or three years. >> reporter: ...so she shows the jury what he told "48 hours" in 2008 when we asked about the gun. >> i traded it.
>> reporter: to who? >> robert... but i don't remember a last name. it was just a simple, "okay, i'll... yeah, that's great." >> reporter: that's just not credible, says johnston. >> the defendant got rid of it because he used it in a crime. >> reporter: she reminds the jury that santiago learned a lot about the ohlemachers when he worked on their home loan. >> there was plenty of evidence that he was deeply involved with the olemachers. he's been to their house. >> reporter: but why would he kill his customers? prosecutors say santiago promised the couple cash from a home loan that was stalled, and he panicked. >> it became clearer and clearer to us that the olemachers expected money and that he was unable to deliver what he said he was going to deliver. >> reporter: prosecutors put neighbor grant martin on the stand. he testifies to hearing an angry greg olemacher threatening someone on the phone a mere 12 hours before his murder.
>> what did you hear greg say into the telephone? >> "if there's not money put in my account by tomorrow, i am going to call the police." >> reporter: but martin admits that he doesn't know who was on the other end of the phone. >> ladies and gentlemen of the jury... >> reporter: ...and defense attorney riggs, in his closing argument, says the state's case doesn't make sense. >> if you don't like the service you're getting at a mortgage company, you don't call them up and say "if you don't give me my money by tomorrow, i'm going to call the cops." they would laugh at you. >> reporter: as he has done the entire trial... >> let's test renee's 911 call. >> reporter: ...riggs returns to his favorite topics, renee and the family dog, sammy jo. >> when renee's on that phone to 911, the dog ought to have been going nuts, right? dog's going to be all over it!
>> she said, "i called for sammy. 'sammy come here, we've got to go downstairs.'" listen to the 911 tape. she didn't call for sammy. it didn't happen. why would she tell you it did? because she is not telling the truth. >> reporter: but the state gets the last word... >> enough about renee! >> reporter: and that's when prosecutor jason yamato finally offers the jury a motive for why this seemingly mild-mannered mortgage loan processor would kill the ohlemachers. >> defendant had a relationship with greg and bernadette that was not going well. the defendant made $90,000 a year. he killed the ohlemachers to protect that $90,000-a-year job. the defendant is guilty of these crimes, and that's before we even get to the casing, the same casing that was used to kill the olemachrs, fired from the same gun. it's crystal clear, the defendant's guilty of every
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dozen witnesses testified, 800 pieces of evidence given to jurors. now, eight years after the ohlemachers were murdered, ronald santiago's fate is in the hands of the jury. >> this was a case we put our heart and soul into for seven and a half years. everything that we had worked for could've been a success or an utter and complete failure. >> i was prepared for the worst. >> reporter: and what was the worst? >> guilty. >> reporter: and going to prison for how long? >> forever. i would never get out. it was life. it was a life sentence. >> i said, "don't be surprised, if... if you're convicted, they handcuff you immediately." >> reporter: three days passed with no word, and then... >> ladies and gentlemen of the jury, has the jury arrived at verdicts in this matter? >> the judge read through the counts. >> let mr. santiago please stand? >> time stopped. i couldn't breathe. >> "we find the defendant not guilty of count one." >> "we find the defendant not guilty of count two." >> second degree, not guilty. >> reporter: what were you thinking at that moment, ron? >> my mind went, i don't know, blank. i didn't know what to think. i mean, did i go in into a state of shock? i think i'm still in a state of shock. >> ladies and gentlemen, this
concludes your service in this matter. >> reporter: outside the courtroom, a clearly emotional santiago savored the not-guilty verdict he had hoped for, with supporters, friends and his extended family. >> it's been a long wait. i'm very happy that the truth has come out, and i did nothing. i had no part in this. >> reporter: hours after his acquittal, surrounded by his own close family, santiago paused in remembrance. >> i want you to keep in your hearts and prayers the vigil family and the ohelmacher family. they've suffered more than i could ever suffer. >> reporter: but far from relieving their suffering... >> i was stunned. i was speechless. >> reporter: ...santiago's acquittal has been yet another
shock for bernadette's sister, jessica montoya, and others in the family. >> he shot my sister. he shot my brother-in-law. he took my family away. >> reporter: to this day, bernadette's own sisters believe both ron santiago and renee olemacher were somehow in it together. >> i totally believe that reneé was involved. >> reporter: but surprisingly, this man no longer does believe that. after pointing the finger at renee throughout the trial... >> you really didn't like your parents, did you? >> reporter: ...listen to what defense attorney riggs says now. >> i came to a conclusion at the end of the trial that renee did not kill her parents. i think renee knows who did, but, for some reason, she can't tell. >> reporter: but if you don't think renee actually killed her parents, is that fair what you did in the trial?
didn't this trial kind of victimize her again? >> there's two reasons why she put herself in that position. >> reporter: but, i mean, the... you put her in that position, too. >> we followed the evidence that the state gave us. i can't remember someone, in my entire career, who did more things to make themselves look guilty than renee. >> reporter: renee now lives in washington state and uses a different last name. she declined to comment on the verdict, but her attorney says she's upset with the acquittal. when renee last spoke to "48 hours," santiago was awaiting trial, and out on bail. >> what bugs me is that he's living a normal life. he's got a family. i don't have a home to go back to because of him. >> reporter: when's the last time you talked to renee? >> in march of 2006. >> she has lost virtually everything.
she lost her parents, she lost her family, she was not treated well as a suspect, she was not treated well in trial. there are people that will probably think that she always had something to do with it, despite the fact that there's no evidence. >> reporter: ironically, it's the same future santiago predicts for himself. >> i don't think i ever will have that true feeling of being innocent or free. i'm the person that got away with it, in a lot of people's eyes. it doesn't matter. i will always be guilty. >> reporter: santiago's attorney says he believes the killer is still out there. >> i would love to see the albuquerque police department take another look. >> reporter: but do you believe that will happen? >> no. i mean, the police will never admit mistakes. >> reporter: was there justice? >> justice depends on who you ask. if you're the one that's charged and you're acquitted, then you think there's justice.
fastest man on no legs, charged with killing his girlfriend. >> i certainly don't think that this will be hailed in the world as a trial for south african justice. >> you fired at reeva. >> i did not fire at reeva. >> now people are again riled up because all the memories are coming back. they're thinking about reeva. they're thinking about the emotion. >> one gunshot, maybe it was by accident. but four gunshots seems to be intentional. >> i think this could be the rebirth of a changed oscar, a remorseful oscar. >> when i was two, my mother amy was murdered. >> she was in bed with her. >> 24 years of always wondering why this happened. >> we expect to hear a name we did not know, not from one that we knew. >> cbsn, the live digital news network from cbs news. cbsn. cbs news.
♪ >> from the cbs broadcast center in philadelphia this is cbs3 "eyewitness news". a tragic ending to the search for a missing man. his body discovered tonight in the schuylkill river. good evening everyone, i'm natasha brown. thanks so much for joining us. the man was reported missing earlier this evening after he was spotted going into the river in manayunk. "eyewitness news" reporter steve patterson picks up the story. >> reporter: swept away. >> we thought would be a rescue effort became a recovery effort. >> reporter: rescue crews responding in manayunk saturday night. the call shortly after 6:00 a man goes in the schuylkill river and is reported missing. an hour later search crews makes the discovery. >> we deployed our members into the river and we were able to recover the body at that time. unfortunatelunfortunately this d expired. >> reporter: emergency
officials say the man believed to be in his 50s was last spotted in the water near the hidden river blues festival at venice island park. how he ended up in the river is the focus of a police investigation but emergency workers cautioned care in respecting the river. >> it's very dangerous to swim in the schuylkill because of the currents, um, we do not recommend it at all. >> reporter: and at this point police not releasing the identity of the victim. of course, the cause now under police investigation. reporting from the news center, i'm steve patterson cbs3 "eyewitness news". this just in to "eyewitness news". police have arrested the hit-and-run driver accused of injuring a six-year-old girl in northeast philadelphia. it happened on the 6600 block of sylvester street about 7:00 o'clock tonight. police say the driver got out of the car and ran from the scene after hitting several park cars. a neighbor heard the accident. >> and the neck thing i know i hear this little girl screaming, a g