tv Dateline Extra MSNBC August 14, 2016 3:00am-4:01am PDT
>> he was an olympian and a father, killed, his wife says, by an intruder in his own backyard. >> but if her husband was dead outside why was the gun found hidden inside? >> she would say i would be better off if dave wasn't around. >> was he does fending her family. >> the mystery may not be who did it but why. >> justice will be served. i have to believe that. >> welcome to dateline extra. dave was an elite athlete who took home a bronze medal at the olympic games.
for dave, home was california, where he grew up, met his beautiful bride and also where he lost his life. jane said there was an intruder and then gunfire. there were troubling holes in jane's story. what happened at the home last night? here is the hometown hero and the homecoming queen. >> it was late when it happened, too late. the sky had already fallen. no one saw it coming. no one heard the warning but now in the night it was done. they work hard here in their homemade garage gym because it isn't just a gym. it is a kind of shrine. >> i look at the wall and
there's a bunch of pictures. that's what makes it special i think. >> these were the moments before they were born. a shot putter became his family's superman and his little brother watched him win a bronze medal at the 1984 olympics. >> afterwards i just cried. how do you not? it's cool. he was my big brother but he was like my super man. he was my super man. >> david and don inherented a passion for athletics and fission. >> i remember my first milk was a protein powder. >> here is where that dna was
planted, oxnard, california. they grow mostly strawberries here now, lima beans in those days. >> everybody knew everybody. >> she knew them growing up and that big old farming family of her childhood best friend. >> our dads were both farmers. we are both from big farming families. >> it was just lots of labachers around. they multiplied. they were good catholics. >> and jane was featured as homecoming queen. >> but she was not ever concerned with that. she is also very very shy. >> how do you get to be
homecoming queen if you're shy? >> she is also a very kind person, very gentle person. >> and as that yearbook shows, a star volleyball player too. >> she is not that tall but she could jump. >> jane met laut. they began dating after high school and some times let don tag along. >> she was wonderful. she was fun. they got along so well. it was neat. >> when they got married in 1980 jane's friend was at the wedding. >> all of the girls getting dressed up, that was really fun. it was just sweet and jane was quite excited. she looked gorgeous, beautiful,
beautiful on her wedding day. >> he had her on a. we would talk maybe once or twice a week on the phone and probably for hours her and i. we just hit it off. we were family. >> jane was there by dave's side as he became a national and then world competitor. he won the 1984 games. >> he was disappointed but he knew, a point of your career when you know something is done. it's okay because you know you have done -- you have gone as far as you can and that door closes. >> and another door closes.
he became a high school teacher, coach and athletic director. >> he never showed it. he renmained a legend to his niece and nephews. >> he had so much patience, so much kindness. >> at home dave and jane stru strulged -- struggled to have children. >> they adopted a baby boy from south korea, named him michael. >> they were happy. >> moments in time. >> it doesn't make sense. no. it's not right. it doesn't make sense.
>> there were shots being tired? >> yes. >> when a super man fell to earth. >> coming up, what happened in that backyard? did a run-in with a prowler turn deadly? ♪ ♪ when date line extra continues. isaac hou has mastered gravity defying moves to amaze his audience. great show. here you go. now he's added a new routine. making depositing a check seem so effortless. easy to use chase technology, for whatever you're trying to master. isaac, are you ready? yeah.
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and turned their home into a crime scene. dave had been shot in his own backyard but what or who had lured him outside? here is the hometown hero and the homecoming queen. >> midnight, august 29th, 2009, oxnard, california. >> the woman in full panic. >> what does the person look like. >> the woman on the phone was jane laut, the wife of the hometown hero. >> dave was still outside where she heard shots fired.
>> the officers had to lock down and call in a homicide team to investigate further. it was a brutal scene. >> investigator said by the time first responders arrived there was no sign of a prowler but they did find dave laut. >> he had been shot multiple times. she was on the ground face down with very obvious gunshot wounds to his back and back of his head. >> she had no idea who would do this. son, michael, ten at the time,
>> and the gunshots? >> as jane talked to investigators the awful news was getting around. >> we got a call around 5:00 in the morning. >> what happens to a person when you go to bed and you wake up at 5:00 in the morning and suddenly your life is a very different thing. >> it is like an earthquake and things are never the same after. it was awful. >> he just fell to his knees. he was on the phone and he just began sobbing and saying no.
no. it was horrible. >> you don't believe it. it's like how do you kill super man? how is super man dead? >> a few days later dave's family held a candle light vigil. >> he was so loved. every step we take we take because you're here to support my mother-in-law and husband and we truly appreciate that. >> hold up our candles for dave. >> but they didn't know then what the police had discovered, a key piece of evidence almost overlooked at first. >> the lead investigator is just looking around. i mean you have a dining room table. you have a hutch. you have a grandfather clock.
he opened up that clock and it was an oh, wow moment. >> why would a prowler leave something so important in there? >> how did a key piece of evidence get inside? something else seemed odd, jane's behavior. >> she tried to keep one of the police officer's out of the laundry room. she tried to close the door with her in the laundry room and him out. i'm not a customer, but i'm calling about that credit scorecard.
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hometown hero and the homecoming queen. >> she told the story of a backyard prowler and gunshots outside her door and dave was dead. some thing seemed off. when police were still questioning jane she stepped into the laundry room. >> she tried to keep one of the police officers out of the laundry roomment s. she tried to keep him out. jane was wearing pajamas but they found her jeans rolled up in a towel. her top was lying there as well, inside out. looked like they had been removed quickly, stashed away. when they tried to administrate gunshot residue.
>> when the offer began getting the test ready she did either wash her hands or wipe her hands on a towel, one of the two before coming back to the table and before the test was done. >> police scoured the place and they were about ready to take dave off to the morgue when some instinct told the lead detective to look here. he crooked opened the doors, looked down inside and there it was. >> this is more than likely, the murder weapon. >> surely no prowler would have dropd a weapon right here in the dining room clock. >> the prowler theory did not make any sense what so ever with a hidden gun inside the house.
>> it wasn't long before they shifted the focus from unknown prowler to the woman who reported one, jane. remember the clothes they found in the laundry room? when they tested them they found gunshot residue. did shane shoot dave then change into her pajamas before she called 911? remember jane mentioned a flashlight. they bagged it, found it as if she was holding the flashlight while shooting her husband. dave had been shot six times. >> someone appeared to have been shot from several feet, grazed his head then the bullet hit the wall. that shot brought him to his
knees where the killer fired shots two and three at close range. >> the one that goes through his cheekbone bounces off of the concrete and nicks the fence and that bullet we matched out on the sidewalk. >> shots four, five and six in the back and back of dave's head. >> we believe shot six was the shot to the back of the head. >> from the very beginning jane denied she had anything to do with it. they didn't believe her when it
matched the gun inside the clock. >> i honestly felt like she is family so i am going to dismiss the strange feeling i get some times. >> like the time she said two men put a knife to her throat and demanded money. >> i said did you call the police or yell? she said no. i just came home i said it was in the middle of the day? then a claim somebody was leaving threatening notes on her car. >> you ask her what kind of notes. >> the implication is somebody is after her. she is in some danger! they look back and it was like something fell into place for them. >> it was like jane was the parent and michael was the child and dave was in the way.
i think that was a stress. >> the stress was pretty clear. >> for a while every time she would call me it seemed like she was to vent about something she didn't like about what dave was doing. >> so evidence was carefully for months. in february 2010 jane was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and the story, said investigators was which i will goly clear. >> this was an execution. she lured him out, aggressed on him, shot him a second or third time, shot him again and shot him two more times, one to the back of the head. >> there seemed to be plenty of evidence. jane's odd behavior, her lie about a prowler and on top of it
all, the gun in the grandfather clock. she pleaded not guilty and it turned the case on its head. >> he was a monster. she was despicable. co >> coming up, what had been happening behind closed doors. will your business be ready when growth presents itself? american express open cards can help you take on a new job, or fill a big order or expand your office and take on whatever comes next.
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daylig daylight. now back to dateline extra. welcome back to "dateline extra." i'm tamron hall. dave laut was murdered outside his home, and then police found the gun that killed him inside. calling the story his wife told detectives into question. but secrets emerged, and what she told them next would send the investigation hurtling in a whole new direction. a stunning allegation pointed to another explanation for dave's death. here again is keith morrison with the hometown hero and the homecoming queen. >> reputation is all we have in the end. how quickly it can turn. sweet jane laut now accused murderer, and now that dave was dead, stories emerged. >> it seemed like she was
controlled, in my opinion. >> an across-the-street neighbor. >> he's standing there while she's pulling weeds, cleaning out gutters, washing his truck. and he's not lifting a finger to help her? come on, you know. >> while jane seemed, what, nervous? >> almost like a scared little rabbit. >> i was always a little leery about what was actually going on in the home. >> this close friend said jane's fear reminded her of another vulnerable creature. >> jane looked like a scared cat. constantly doing like -- looking over her shoulder looking to see if there's somebody behind her. >> this from jane's former co-worker. >> he was very aggressive. he was very demanding. and when he said jump, she would go how high. >> how strange it was, she thought, that jane always wore long sleeves, even when it was
hot outside. but more disturbing -- >> there were times when she would come in, and i noticed on her face, it looked swollen. and she would never comment how it happened. >> there were several times that i saw bruising on her. one time on her face. her arms, her lefgs. several places. >> this is a monster. just a monster. >> ron bammier is jane's defense attorney. and according to him, dave laut is far from the hometown hero so many believed him to be. the real truth about dave laut, for nearly three decades, he subjected his wife to horrific abuse. >> like all abuse, it's about power and control. we have verbal abuse, over a long period of time. emotional abuse. the way he treats her. we have physical abuse, that's
everything from the punching to the kicking to the slapping to the hitting, throwing her down, pulling her hair, spitting on her. >> and jane wasn't the only victim. dave was angry that his adopted son, michael, was not athletic. >> neighbors would hear him call michael names, racial names to michael that are just horrible. we have him yelling at him in the street because he can't ride a bike or catch a football or play baseball. >> all those years jane was afraid to report dave. so she covered up her abuse and her injuries. we obtained this summary of a police report from the 1980s in which jane reported that an intruder attacked her while she was alone at work. at the time, police found the injuries consistent with jane's story. in fact, said bamieh, dave inflicted those injuries. then ordered jane to lie, and blame a nonexistent intruder. a pattern of covering up dave's abuse, abuse which by the summer
of 2009 was getting worse, said bamieh. >> from june of '09 to august of '09, it was escalating. >> but jane continued to take it, until that particular august night when something changed. that night, according to bamieh, for the first time, dave threatened michael's life. she really believed he was going to kill michael? >> yeah. >> jane had taken michael to the beach that day, said bamieh. they were late getting home. >> dave was upset. started screaming and yelling, nobody respects me. i don't get any attention around me. nobody cares about me. >> jane put michael to bed, got into pajamas herself and waited for dave's anger to subside. >> but he wasn't calming down. so about 10:30 or 11:00, he comes out of the room, and he's upset and he's angry. >> and that's when she saw the gun, said bamieh.
>> he's holding it and he starts talking about michael, how they don't respect him, and he's going to blow his f'ing head off. she gets out of bed, falls down, crawls toward the back door. somehow she gets him out on the patio. she's like, calm down, dave, calm down. >> then out of the darkness, dave stumbled on the patio. >> he loses his balance, and that's her opportunity. and she goes at him and she tries to get the gun. the gun goes off. and then she eventually gets the gun and she empties it. >> then she ran back into the house, put the gun inside the grandfather clock and called 911. >> she has no idea he's did. he's down but she thinks he's getting up. women in these relationships have this superman complex.
>> so yes, she lied about the prowler, but did it almost automatically. but once the police discovered jane's lie, said bamieh, their minds are made up, that she was a cold, calculating killer. and so when police found those clothes found in the laundry room, they believe it must have been jane's attempt to hide evidence of her crime. but those clothes only had a tiny fragment of gunshot residue. and police never bothered to test the pajamas jane was wearing when they showed up. but bamieh did. and the tests revealed the pajamas were covered in gunshot residue. proving, said bamieh, that jane was wearing those pajamas when she fired the gun. >> it supports her story. >> as for the claim that jane jumped up to wash her hands before a gunshot residue or gsr test? that never happened, said bamieh. that was just the police covering up a major mistake. >> the cop lost the gsr sample test. they searched for it and couldn't find it.
>> anyway, investigators looked at the crime scene evidence and just plain got it wrong. once they concluded she was a murderer, he said, they actually distorted the evidence to fit their story. >> a bullet that glanced off his head, and went about a 90-degree angle and hit the wall. and deposited two pieces of scalp matter on the garbage can. >> that's impossible? >> it violated the laws of physics. >> what's more, he said, the dna on the gun was dave's. once again supporting jane's contention, that he had the gun. and then they struggled for it. >> his dna is on the trigger. there's no getting around that fact. >> one more thing, said bamieh, one more bit of evidence that the police missed, even though it was right under their noses. bruising on jane's upper left arm. photographed the morning after dave was killed.
>> look at the bruise closely, you'll see there's basically a little hand print. >> a hand-shaped bruise that helps prove, said bamieh, this wasn't murder. it was self-defense. >> if you're fighting for your life reasonably, you have to conclude they're fighting for a gun, you get to use lethal force. >> and now looking back, said jane's childhood friend, helen, things began to make sense. >> we saw her less and less. >> more than two decades passed. helen had a long career as a social worker, and gradually lost touch with jane. >> i would always send her christmas cards and say, call me, whatever. and i would never hear from her. >> and then helen heard about dave's death. >> everybody was pointing to jane. and like a light bulb went off and i'm like, oh, my god, she was a battered wife. and you didn't get it. you didn't see it.
>> but the very idea that jane was an abused spouse, that she killed dave in self-defense? absolutely ludicrous said the lauts. an outrageous allegation about dave. >> i know my brother. he's just a good man. he would give you have the shirt off his back. that's just the way he was. >> can you see him losing his temper at the woman he's married to, and abusing her, hitting her? >> no. >> never. >> no. >> never. >> no. >> no, said the lauts. no, said the police. besides, they said maybe jane had quite another motive for killing dave laut. a financial one. coming up, borrowed money -- >> thousands and thousands of dollars. >> and even more money if dave was dead. >> sometimes she would say things like, i'd be better off if dave wasn't around. >> when "dateline extra"
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welcome back. here again is keith morrison with more of our story. the hometown hero and the homecoming queen. >> olympic glory does not always translate into material wealth. in fact, said detectives, as they sifted through dave and jane's financial records, they found evidence they were struggling. >> the lauts' finances were -- they were just living beyond their means. it was poor bookkeeping, poor management of the bills. it didn't happen just before the shooting. this has been going on for years and years and years. >> after dave was killed, said don and rebecca, they found out jane had been borrowing money
from her mother-in-law. >> jane asked her for a lot of money, gave her different excuses why she needed money. >> to pay mortgages or something like that? >> mortgages, doctor bills, school -- >> supplies. >> -- school supplies. >> how much are we talking about here? >> thousands and thousands of dollars. it was a lot. >> when they found out dave had three life insurance policies? >> i believe we totaled it all up, and i think it came to 300, $350,000, somewhere in that neighborhood, that she was likely to see if a prowler had done this. >> was there ever any indication she was capable of violent acts? the sort of person who could be violent? >> yeah. >> she said some things to me, and i dismissed them because i maybe didn't want to believe that she was capable. but sometimes she would say
things like, i'd be better off if dave wasn't around. >> meanwhile, justice crawled. a year passed. then two, three, four. jane remained free on bond. and dave's niece, megan laut, fumed. >> she caused my family so much pain, and it's horrible. it's just -- i hate it. >> nephews aaron and cody took it out on the garage weight room. >> i have a way of bottling and condensing it and i get it out when i lift. >> you get your emotion going, your anger, your adrenaline going. >> in december 2013, don laut pleaded with a judge to get the case before a jury. >> i just want the court to know that there's a family, and there's friends behind my brother. and it's been four years. and it's been very difficult.
>> and then in january 2015, more than five years after dave's death, in a move that shocked jane's veteran defense attorney, the prosecution indicated it would be open to making a deal. >> and i was blown away. >> a plea deal? yes. and what a deal it was. if jane pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, she would be sentenced to just six years and would most likely serve only three. seemed like an admission of weakness from the prosecution. and the opportunity of a lifetime for a woman facing first-degree murder and 50 to life. and so -- >> i gave her my strong recommendation that she take it. she said no. i was just like -- i was stunned. i said, jane, i kept saying, do you understand it? she said i understand fully. this is my decision.
and she was crying. and she says, i have to fight for this. >> mind you, by then jane had some powerful moral support from her old friend, helen. >> she rose that night. she didn't fall, she rose that night. and, you know, became the -- a very strong, powerful woman. and defended the life of her son. >> and then at last in january 2016, jane laut went on trial for murder. her friend, helen, sitting right behind her. >> do you think she'll go to jail? >> i don't. >> really? >> i don't. i absolutely do not. >> you believe the jury will believe her story? >> i do. >> and see it as a case of self-defense? >> i do. i believe that. i believe that. >> i sincerely believe her. i don't say that about many people. i sincerely believe her. >> do you usually get this personally invested in a case? >> i am always invested in my
cases, yes. but do i care as much about clients like i do about jane laut? no, i would be lying if i say i didn't. >> could he persuade a jury to believe in jane, too? coming up, jane takes the stand. >> i get a not guilty, which is what we're shooting for. she has to testify. >> a gun takes center stage. >> pull back the hammer, fire. each and every time. >> and the verdict. >> we, the jury, find the defendant -- >> when "dateline extra" continues. at credit scorecard. (to dog)give it to me. give it. oh, sure! we give it to everyone for free. oh, well that's nice. (to dog) go get it! you can go get it yourself online and see your fico credit score right there. great! (to dog) that's a good boy. thanks? oh, and you can even see how your current card compares to others out there. wow. convenient. ooh. somebody wants a belly rub. what, now? get your credit scorecard at discover.com. free for everyone, even if you're not a customer.
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jury. would she regret that decision? here is a final chapter of the hometown hero and the homecoming queen. >> dave was a son. he was a father. s he was a colleague. he was a friend. prosecutor ramin newy told the jury jane was a calculating killer. >> if you look at each of the six shots they were administered by this defendant as she was executing her plan to murder her husband. there is just one reasonable conclusion, to find the defendant guilty of murder. >> the defense attorney countered the real victim was jane laut, who suffered the utmost cruelty at the hands of her husband.
>> he is not the hero of the olympics. he is the monster who abused her for 27 years. >> the defense called family and friends and neighbors who all testified jane was an abused spouse. but attorney babier said the most important witness was the defendant herself. >> if you're going to get a not guilty, which is what we're shooting for, she has to testify. >> the judge would not allow cameras to roll when for the first time publicly through tears jane told her story. she said she took dave's abuse for nearly three decades, until the night he threatened their son. >> i think she could live with the fact that he could kill her. she could not live with the fact that he would kill michael. >> on the stand, jane admitted that she lied in her 911 call. >> 911 emergency -- >> and later to the police about a prowler. but she denied she had any financial motive for killing her husband.
after all, she did not ask for nor did she receive a penny of dave's life insurance. >> jane would never be about finances. absolutely not. >> why do you say that? >> because that's not her value. jane is about relationships, she's about family, she's about children. it's never been about money for her. >> of course, the prosecutor got his turn to cross examine jane. there were a lot of i don't remembers about the the night of the murder. she simply couldn't recall what happened after she fired the first two or three shots, she said. but she did admit she was quite familiar with the gun. in fact, had used it several times before. >> this single-action gun in the hands of this defendant required her to pull back that hammer, fire. pull back the hammer, fire.
each and every time. for the six times that she aimed that weapon at her husband and shot him. >> like this, said the prosecutor, as he played a video of a woman firing that very gun. but, said the defense attorney, that's not the only way to fire the gun. >> if you hold the trigger down you can pull the hammer back and fire. >> this is called fanning the gun. the sort of thing you'd expect to see in an old western. but a prosecution expert countered that a movie is the only place he'd ever seen that. >> every expert that came up said that that is absurd. the accuracy of firing a gun six times and hitting your target six times in the dark is astronomical. >> after seven weeks of testimony, final arguments from both sides. defense attorney bamier made an
impassioned plea to the jury. >> why would jane laut do this? why would she do this? when you think about it, there's only one real reason. only one. it's what anybody would do to protect their child. >> you do not have the right to kill your husband -- >> the prosecutor urged the jury to look past the emotion and focus on the evidence. >> the defense testimony is false. it is untruthful. it is unbelievable. it is a story conjured up to raise her battered woman's self-defense claim in a murder case. it is plan "b" because plan "a" doesn't work. and it's a lie. >> jurors deliberated for 3 1/2 days. then finally, march 30th, 2016, announced they were ready. jane, supported by helen and other friends who had stood by her all along, walked to the courthouse and what waited there. >> it appears to be in order so
i will read the verdict. the we the jury find the defendant jane laut guilty of the crime of first-degree murder. >> guilty of first-degree murder. a shock ran through the room. ron bamier, who fervently believed in her innocence, looked distraught. jane comforted him. the woman who flat turned down a deal to do six years for voluntary manslaughter now faces the possibility of life in prison. it was a victory for dave's family. yes. but not one to celebrate. >> our faith calls us to forgive, and we do. we forgive her. >> but forget? no. not the lauts. not their superman. >> it's very difficult. i miss him every day. i miss him every day. >> i think i'll always grieve. i know i'm always going to miss
him. he's always a part of me. but it's hard. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline extra." i'm tamron hall. thanks for watching. uncertain trumpet. let's play hardball. good evening. while donald trump is trying to take back his words. he woke up this morning telling us all of his repeated claims is that president obama was the founder of isis wasn't meant to be for real. trump made the about face saying ratings challenged cnn reports so s