tv Dateline MSNBC September 9, 2018 3:00am-4:01am PDT
she's not there for -- for them and for me. to share in it. it's -- it's hard. that's all for now. i'm lester holt. thanks for joining us. i'm craig melvin. >> i'm natalie morales. >> and this is dateline. phone rings at 5:00 in the morning. i knew something wasn't right. he just came in sobbing saying no, no. >> it was just before midnight when the shooting started. >> he had been shot multiple times. he was on the ground facedown. >> a man was dead, but not just any man. >> how do you kill super man? he killed super man.
>> 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. what other secrets were hidden away. >> sometimes she would say things like i would be better off if he wasn't around. >> was her husband defending his family or was she. >> she rose that night. the mystery may not be who did it, but why. >> the truth will come out and justice will be served. i have to believe that.
jane said there was a prouder p prowler that day and gunfire and found him dead. what happened at the home that night. here's keith morrison with the hometown hero and the homecoming queen. >> it was late when it happened. very late. too late. sky had already fallen. no one saw it coming. no one heard the warning, but now in the night it was done. they worked hard here in their homemade garage gym. it isn't just a gym. it's a kind of shrine.
>> you look at the wall and there's a bunch of pictures. it's something special. >> before they were born, but a shot putter named dave became his families super man. and his little brother watched him win a bronze metal. >> here with have that spin that is a very good technique here. >> and his little brother watched him win a bronze medal in the 1984 olympics. >> after i just cried. how do you not? how do you not cry when you see your brother up there getting a medal. it's cool. he was my big brother, but he was like my super man. he was my super man. >> don is dave's younger brother by nine and a half years. they inherited a passion for athletics and fitness by their father. this is all built into your dna. >> yes. it really is. >> here is where that dna was planted, oxnard california. >> when we grew up, you know, you could ride your bike anywhere. every knew everybody.
they grow mostly strawberries. >> when we grew up, you could ride your bike anywhere. every knew everybody. >> this is helen. she knew them growing up and that big old farming family and childhood best friend. their dads were both farmers. there was a lot of them around. just always a lot of them around. they multiplied. they were good catholics. >> >> and helen's friend jane grew up to be especially beautiful, feature instead her high school yearbook as homecoming queen. >> she was not ever concerned with that. she's also very, very shy. >> how do you get to be homecoming queen if you're shy. >> she's also just a very kind person.
very gentle person. >> and as that yearbook shows, a star volley ballplayer too. >> she could spike. she's not that tall, but she could jump. >> jane soon met that other gifted athlete. dave. already on his way to being one of the best shot puters in california. sometimes let don tag along. >> she was wonderful. she was fun. they got along so well. they loved each other. it was neat. >> when they got married in 1980, jane's friend helen was a bridesmaid. >> going to the morning of the wedding, to jane's parent's house and all the girls getting dressed up. it was really fun and it was really sweet. jane was quite excited. she looked beautiful on her wedding day. >> he had her on a pedestal. he always said such wonderful
things about her. >> this is don's wife, rebecca. we would talk maybe once or twice a week on the phone. 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. and the world championship meet in 1983, he talked to nbc sports about the benefits and costs of weight training. >> it can tighten a thrower up. >> dave won the bronze medal at the 1984 games, but after his career faded quickly. he kept trying, but knee injuries. he didn't make the olympic team in 1988. >> he was disappointed, but he knew. it's a point of your career when you know something is done. it's okay. you know you've done -- you've gone as far as you can and that door closes. >> and another door opened. dave became a high school biology teacher, coach, and athletic director.
>> he was even better at being a teacher and koechl than he was at throwing. >> he missed his former glory, his family said. he never showed it and remained a legend to his niece and nephews. >> i think the phrase that best describes him is a gentle giant. he had so much patience, so much kindness. >> at home, dave and jane struggled to have children. she wanted to have a family really bad. i felt bad when i would get pregnant. >> then in 1999 they adopted a boy from south korea. named him michael. >> they were happy. i have tons and tons of pictures of them. the three of them together. they were happy. >> moments in time. inspiration on a garage wall, which these days is about all that's left. >> it doesn't make sense. it's not right. >> ever since that august night in 2009. >> 911, what's your emergency. >> you heard shots being fired?
>> yes. >> when a super man fell to earth. >> what happened in that backyard? when we return, did a run in with a prowler turn deadly? >> how many pops did you hear. >> three. >> describe how fast they were. >> pop, pop, pop. when dateline continues. tennis partner's... chatty coworker's... youngest daughter's... entire judo class. one shot can make a world of difference. walgreens has specially trained pharmacists, that know which flu shot is right for you. protecting the world... over 60 million flu shots and counting. starts with protecting yours. walgreens trusted since 1901. ♪ as moms, we send our kids out into the world, full of hope. and we don't want something like meningitis b
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he doesn't get my room. he's only going to be here for like a week. like a month, tops. oh boy. wi-fi fast enough for the whole family is simple, easy, awesome. in many cultures, young men would stay with their families until their 40's. >> the woman on the phone was jane laut, the wife of the hometown hero. dave was still outside, she said where she heard shots fired. >> where did you last see your husband. >> he told me to get back in. i came back in and then i heard the shots. i just want to get my son. >> how would is your son. he's still asleep. >> i can't see dave. >> stay with me.
i have two officers that are there. stay inside the house. >> the officers had to lock down and call in a homicide team to investigate further. it was a brutal scene. >> da's investigator said by the time first responders arrived there was no sign of a prowler. they did find dave laut. >> he had been shot multiple times. he was on the ground, face down with very obvious gunshot wounds to the back of his head. >> jane was a mess. she told investigators she had no idea who would do this. >> is there anybody that wanted to harm him? >> his son, michael, ten at the time slept through it all and james's brother took charge of him while jane went down to offer a more complete statement. >> it had been a perfectly normal evening, she said. they were in bed by ten. dave in the master bedroom and she in michaels room where she often slep because dave had a
bad back. then it was about an hour later, she said. >> dave came down the hall, she said. worried about the dog. we went down to get her. >> so 11:15, she said, she and dave crept over to a sliding glass door to a side yard. >> he had add flashlight. >> so you walk towards the side of that door with the flashlight in your hand, right? >> uh-huh. >> when you get to the sliding glass door, then what happens. >> he was by where the trash cans were and then i heard him what the f or something like that.
>> did you see anybody else? >> i saw a shadow or something. >> do you think you did. >> was it in front of or behind dave. >> so how far behind him are you. >> four, five feet. >> what do do you. >> he says get in the house. i'm going to door. >> then what happens. >> and then i the shots and then i shut the door. >> and the gunshots. >> what did it sound like. >> it sounded like a pop, like quick. >> how many pops did you hear. >> three. >> describe them too me, how fast they were.
>> pop, pop, pop. >> it wasn't pop, hesitation, pop, hesitation. it was 1, 2, 3. >> as jane talked to investigators into the early morning hours, the awful news was getting around. >> we got a call about 5:00 in the morning. >> you go to bed and everything is fine. phone rings at 5:00 in the morning and your life is a very different thing. >> it's like an earthquake. it just shakes your whole foundation and being. and things are never the same after.
it was awful. >> he just fell to his knees. he was on the phone and just began sobbing and saying no, no. >> yes. >> it was horrible. >> you don't believe it, but it's like how do you kill superman? how is superman dead? >> a few days later dave's friends and family held a candle light vigil. >> we are here to support my mother-in-law and my husband and our family and we just really truly appreciate that. thank you. >> lift up the candles for dave. >> but they didn't know then, didn't know who the police had discovered. a key piece of evidence they almost overlooked at first. >> the lead investigator in the case walks in. he's just walking around. you have a dining room table. you have a hutch. you have ra grandfather block and he opened up that clock and
it was an oh, wow moment. >> what would a prowler leave something so important in there. >> coming up, if the intruder was outside, how did a key piece of evidence get inside. and something else seemed odd. jane's behavior. >> she tried to keep one of the police officers out of the laundry room. tried to close the door with him in and her out. >> when "dateline" continues.
oxnard oxnard oxnard, california dave laut dave laut jane's dave's . >> jane lawsuit told a horrifying story. now her husband, dave laut, was dead, but some things seemed a little off. for example, said investigator, when police were still questioning jane at the house, she stepped into the laundry room. >> she actually tried to keep one of the police officers out of the laundry room. she tried to close the door with her in the laundry room and him out. >> why, well, jane was wearing pajamas when police arrived, but
in that laundry room they found her genes rolled up tucked behind the drier. her top was there as well, inside out. looked like they had been removed quickly. when an officer tried to administer a gunshot residue to jane's hands, standard procedure. >> when the officer doing test began getting the test ready, she did go into the bathroom and either wash her hands or wipe her hand on a towel. one of the two before coming back to the table and before the test was done. >> so odd things. anyway, police scoured the place. didn't see any murder weapon lying around and they were about to take dave's body to the morgue when some instinct told the lead detective to look here. he opened the grandfather clock, looked down inside and there it was. >> this is more than likely the murder weapon. a six shot revolver. surely no prowler would have dropped a weapon right here in the dining room clock. >> the prowler didn't make any sense whatsoever with a hidden
gun inside the house. >> it wasn't long before investigator shifted their focus from unknown prowler to the woman who had reported one, jane lawsuit. >> remember those clothes they found in the laundry room. when they tested them, they found gunshot residue, so did jane shoot dave then change into her pajamas before she called 911? >> remember, jane specifically mentioned a red flashlight so police bagged it, tested it and found gunshot revenue as if she was holding the flashlight while shooting her husband. if jane was the killer, this was about as cold-blooded as it
gets. >> he had been shot six times. came up with a fairly logical explanation of how it was done. shot one was several feet. deposited pieces of scalp on the garbage can. that shot brought him to his knees where the killer did shots two and three in his face from close range. >> it bounces off of the concrete. it nicks the fence and that bullet, we matched out on the sidewalk. >> shots four, five and six hit in the upper arm and back. back of dave's head. >> we believe shot six, the final shot was the shot to the back of the head. >> from the very beginning, jane denied she had anything to do with it. >> i don't know what happened
and i didn't do it. like now i'm scared. >> but they didn't believe her. especially when they found out that the bullets that killed dave matched the gun in the grandfather clock. now don and rebecca laut started to look at things differently. >> i honestly felt like she was family so i'm going to dismiss it will strange feeling i get sometimes. >> said rebecca the time jane told her two men put a knife to her throat and demanded money. >> i said, well, did you call the police? >> did you yell? she says, oh, no, i just came home. i wanted to get home. >> this was in the middle of the day and nobody else saw? she said, no. >> then there was a claim someone was leaving threatening notes on her car. you would probe her what kind of
notes, but she wouldn't tell you. >> so the implication is somebody is after her, she's in some danger. >> now when they look back at the things they noted over the years, it was like something fell into place for them. >> there was a separation. it was like jane was the parent and michael was the child and dave was in the way. >> you got the sense she was pushing dave away. >> yes. that was stress on the marriage. >> there was stress was pretty clear says rebecca. >> for a while, every time she would call me, it seemed like it was to vent about something she didn't like about what dave was doing. >> oh, in february 2010 jane laut was arrested and charged with first degree murder, and the story said investigators was clear. >> she lured him out, shot him, shot him a second and third time.
stepped back, shot him a fourth time. came up super close and shot him two more times 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. jane hired a lawyer and pleaded not guilty. the story that came out turned the whole case on its head. >> mr. laut was a monster. >> coming up. what had been happening behind closed doors. when dateline continues.
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on behalf of democratic congressional candidates. vice president mike pence says it's disappointing to see obama on the campaign trail. florence is now a tropical storm. strengthening to a hurricane. virginia has already declared state of emergency. now back to dateline. despicable despicable despicabledy speckable. what she told him next woumd send the investigation in a different direction. here again is keith morrison with hometown hero and the homecoming queen.
sweet jane laut, now accused murder and dave, now that dave was dead, stories emerged. >> it seemed like she was controlled, in my opinion. >> an across the street neighbor. he's there standing there while she's, you know, pulling weeds, cleaning out gutters, washing his truck and he's not lifting a finger to help her. i was like a scared little rehab it. >> i was always a little leery about what was actually going on in the home. >> she said jane reminded her of another vulnerable creature. >> jane looked like a scared cat. always doing a switch over her shoulder. looking to see if someone is behind her. >> and this from jane's former coworker. >> he was very aggressive. 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 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 legs, several places. >> he is a monster. he's just a monster. >> ron 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, for nearly three
decades he subjected his wife to horrific abuse. >> like all abuse, it's power control. we have verbal abuse. we have 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. spitting on her. hitting her. >> jane wasn't the only victim. he was angry the adopted son michael was not athletic. >> he would call racial names to michael that are horrible. we have him yelling at him out in the street about not riding a bike. >> all those years jane was afraid to report dave. afraid of what he might do to her loved ones. she covered up his abuse and her injuries. we obtained this summary from a police report in 1980. jane reported an intruder attacked her alone at work. police found the injuries consistent with jane's story. dave inflicted those injuries and ordered jane to lie and
blame a nonexisting intruder. a pattern of covers up abuse, abuse by which 2009 was getting worse. >> from june of 2009 to august of 2009 it escalated. she continued to take it until that particular august night when something changed. that night according to him for the first time, dave threatened michael's life. >> she really believed he was going to kill michael. >> yes, so she made a decision. >> jane had taken michael to the beach that day. they were late getting home. >> dave was upset. started screaming and yelling no. nobody respects me. i don't get any attention around here. >> jane put michael to bed and waited for dave's anger to subside. >> he wasn't calming down. he comes out of the room and he's upset and angry and that's
when she saw the gun. >> holding it and he starts talking about michael, how they don't respect him and he's going to blow his head off. grabs her, throws her against the wall. she kind of crawls backwards. somehow she gets him out in the patio and is like calm down dave, calm down. then out of the darkness, he stumbles on the patio. >> he loses his balance and that's her opportunity and she goes at him. the gun goes off and she eventually gets the gun and just she empties it. >> then she said she ran back into the house. put the gun inside the grandfather clock and called 911. >> she has no idea he's dead. he's down she thinks he's getting up.
they give their abusers. >> so yes, she lied about the prowler, but did it almost automatically her conditioned response to her abuse. once the police discovered jane's lie, their minds were made up, that she was a cold calculated killer. so when police found those clothes shoved in a laundry room, they believed it must have been jane's attempt to hide evidence, but those clothes when tested only had a tiny fragment of gunshot residue. they never bothered to test the pajamas. the pajamas were covered in gunshot residue. proving she was wearing the pajamas when the gun went off. as for the claim she jumped up to wash her hands before a gunshot residue test. that never happened.
that was just the police covering up a major mistake. >> the cop lost the test. they searched for it. they couldn't find it. >> anyway, they looked at the crime scene evidence and just plain got it wrong. once they concluded she was a murder, thal actually distorted the evidence to fit their story. >> deposited two pieces of cal p matter on the garbage can. >> you're saying that physically impossible. >> yes, it's ludicrous. it violates 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 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. >> in you look at the bruise closely, there's a little hand print. >> a hand shaped bruise that helps prove this wasn't murder, it was self-defense. >> you're fighting for your life reasonably. think you reasonably have to conclude that fight for a gun. you have to use reasonable force. >> 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 career as a social worker and gradually lost touch. >> i would always send her christmas cards and say call me, whatever. i would never hear from her. >> then helen heard about dave's death. everybody was pointing to jane and like a lightbulb 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 laut's. >> i know my brother. he's just a good man. he would give you 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. >> never, no. >> 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 would be better off if dave wasn't around. >> when "dateline" continues. . the dentist is going to be able to provide that to their patients. sensodyne rapid relief in my opinion is a game changer. it's going to let the dentist offer their patient sensitivity relief in 3 days. it has a formulation that lays down a barrier of protection against sensitivity. within 3 days, say over the course of a weekend you're going to start feeling significant results. to say that it works in 3 days really is a big deal. with uncontrolled moderor atopic dermatitis, you never know how your skin will look. and it can feel like no matter what you do, you're itching all the time. but even though you see and feel your eczema on the surface of your skin, an overly sensitive immune system deep within your skin might actually be causing your eczema. so help heal your skin from within.
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>> the laut's finances, they were living beyond their means. it was poor bookkeeping. poor management of their bills. this had been going on for years and years and years. >> after dave was killed, 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 mortgage or something like that. >> mortgages, doctor bills, school, tuition, school supplies. >> how much money are you talking about here. >> it was thousands and thousands of dollars. it was a lot. >> and 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 many that neighborhood. she was likely to see if a prowler had done this. >> was there ever any indication she was capable of violent acts or the sort of person that could be violent. >> 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. >> nephews took it out in the garage weight room. >> i have a way of bottling it and condensing it and i get it out when i lift.
>> get your emotion going, adrenaline going. >> in september 2013, don pleaded with a judge to get the case to a jury. >> i just want the court to know there's a family behind my brother and it's been four years and it's been very difficult. >> then in jane 2015, more than five years after dave's death, in a move that shocked jane's 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 serve three years. the opportunity of a lifetime for a woman facing first degree murder and 50 to life.
>> i gave her my strong recommendation she should take it and she said no. i was stunned. i kept saying do you understand. i understand fully. it's not on you ron. it's my decision. she was crying. she said 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. you know, became the -- a very strong powerful woman and defended the life of her son. >> 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.
i absolutely do not. >> do you believe the jury will believe her story and see it as a case of self defense. >> i do. i believe that. >> i sincerely believe her and i don't say that about many people. >> do you usually get this personally invested in a case. >> i am always invested in my cases, but do i care as much about clients, no. i would be lying if i said i did. >> could he persuade a jury to believe in jane too? >> coming up, jane takes the stand. >> she has to testify. >> a gun takes center stage. >> pulled back the hammer , fires. each and every time. when dateline continues. ♪ go your own way copd tries to say, "go this way."
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welcome back. facing 50 years to life for the murder of her husband, when prosecutors offered to cut the sentence to just six years if she pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter, she said no. would she regret the decision. here's keith morrison with the hometown hero and the homecoming queen. he was a son, he was a father. he was a colleague. he was a friend. >> more than six years after the death of olympic bronze medalist dave loud, the murder trial of his wife jane finally began in this ventura, california, courtroom. the prosecutor told a 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 only one reasonable
conclusion. to find the defendant guilty of murder. i'm about to talk to you for quite some time. the defense attorney said the real victim was jane lout who suffered the utmost cruelty at the hands of her husband. >> he is not the hero of the olympics. he is a 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 bammier said the most important witness was the defendant herself. >> should find her not guilty. that's what we're shooting for. she has testified. >> the judge would not allow cameras to roll for when the first time publicly, jane told her story. she said she took dave's abuse for nearly three decades, until the night he threatened their son. >> she could live with the fact he could kill her. she couldn't live with the fact
he could kill michael. >> on the stand jane admitted 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 relationship, 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 remember about 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 these six times as 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. >> you hold the trigger down, you can pull the hammer back to fire. >> this is called fanning the gun, the sort of thing in an old western. but a prosecution expert said the movie is the only place he saw that. >> the expert said that's absurd. the accuracy of hitting your six times in the dark is
astronomical. >> after seven weeks of testimony, final arguments from both sides. defense attorney made an impassioned plea to the jury. >> why would she do this? why would she do this? when you think about it, there's only one real reason. only one. what anybody would do to protect their child. anyone. >> you do not have the right to kill your husband. >> while 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 battered woman 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 and march 30, 2016, announced they were ready.
jane supported by helen and other friends who have stood by her all along, walked to the courthouse and what waited there. >> all appears to be in order. so i will read the verdict. we the jury in the above entitled action find the defendant guilty of crime of first degree murder. >> guilty of first degree murder. a shock ran through the room. the attorney who fervently believed in her innocence looked distraught and jane comforted him. the woman who flat turned down a deal to do six years for voluntary manslaughter, received a mandatory sentence, 50 years to life. jane lout is appealing her conviction. 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 them. not their superman.
>> very difficult. i miss him every day. i miss him every day. i think i'll always grieve. 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." i'm craig melvin. thanks for watching. good morning. pim dara brown in new york at nbc new york headquarters. it's 7:00 in the east. here's what's happening. never. a new denial from the vice president over invoking the 25th amendment. >> have you ever been part of a conversation about that? >> no, never. why would we be? >> tests his reaction to the op-ed and the suspicions of his involvement in it. >> plus, on the road again. former president obama issues words of warning while out on the stump in