Skip to main content

tv   Dateline  MSNBC  October 21, 2017 2:00am-3:01am PDT

2:00 am
i want her to be right here in the thick of it with me. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline extra." i'm craig melvin. thanks for watching. i'm craig >> i'm natalie morales. and thi" it's never good news when the phone rings at 5:00 in the morning. i knew something wasn't right. he just began sobbing and saying no, no. >> it was just before midnight when the shooting started. >> had been shot multiple times. he was on the ground face down. >> a man was dead, but not just any man. >> how do you kill superman? how is superman dead? >> he was an olympian, and a
2:01 am
father, killed, his wife says, by an intruder in his own back yard. >> describe them to me. how fast they were. >> pop, pop, pop. >> but if her husband was dead outside, why was the gun found hidden inside? and what other secrets were hidden away? >> sometimes she would say things like, i'd be better off if dave 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. welcome" elite athlete dave laut took a
2:02 am
today home was ventura county california. where he met his wife jane and . jane said there was a prowler . police found dave dead and troubling holes in jane's story. what happened at their home that night? here keith morrison with the hometown hero and the queen. >> it was late when it happened. very late. 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 in part it isn't just a gym. it's a kind of shrine. >> i look at the wall and there's a bunch of pictures. and that's what makes it
2:03 am
special, i think. >> these were the moments before they were born when a shot putter named dave laut became his family's superman. and his little brother watched him win a bronze medal in the 1984 olympics. >> i mean, after, i just cried. how do you not? how do you not cry when you see your brother up there getting a medal? he was my big brother. but he was like my superman. he was my superman. >> don laut is dave's younger brother by nine and a half years. dave and don inherited a passio >> i remember my first milk when i was a kid, it was protein powder. >> it's built into your dna. it's part of your life. >> yeah, it really is. >> here is where that dna was planted, oxnard, california. a farm town on the beach north of l.a.'s encroaching sprawl. they grow mostly strawberries here now.
2:04 am
lima beans back then. they were different in those days. >> when we grew up, you could ride your bike anywhere. everybody knew everybody. >> this is helen kulouris. of course, she knew the lauts growing up. and that big old farming family of her childhood best friend, jane laubacher. >> our dads were both farmers. old farming families we're both from. >> the laubachers were big here in oxnard. >> there was just lots of laubachers. you know, it was just -- they multiplied. they were good catholics. >> and helen's friend, jane, grew up to be especially beautiful. featured in her high school yearbook as homecoming queen. >> but 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?
2:05 am
>> she's also just a very kind person, very gentle person. >> and as that yearbook shows, a star volleyball player, too. >> she could spike -- i mean, she's not that tall, but she could jump. >> jane soon met that other gifted athlete, dave laut, already well on his way to becoming one of the best shot putters in california. they began dating after high school, and sometimes let don, little laut, tag along. >> she was wonderful. she was fun. they just -- they got along so well. they loved each other. it was just neat. >> when they got married in 1980, jane's friend helen was a bridesmaid. >> going that morning of the wedding to jane's parents' house, and all the girls getting dressed up. and 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 pedestal. he always said such wonderful things about her. >> this is don's wife, rebecca.
2:06 am
>> we became very close. we'd talk maybe once, twice a week on the phone. and probably for hours her and we just hit it off. we were family. >> jane was there by dave's side as he became a national and then world competitor. dave won the bronze medal in 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 like a point of your career when you know that something is done. it's okay. because 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. >> and he was even better at being a teacher and coach than he was even throwing. >> if dave missed his former glory, his family said he never
2:07 am
showed it. and of course, remained a legend to his niece and nephews. >> i think one phrase that could best describe him is a gentle giant. >> yep. >> 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. >> and then in 1999, they adopted a baby boy from south korea, named him michael. >> they were happy. >> yeah. >> i mean, 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. >> this doesn't make sense, no. it's not right. it doesn't make sense. >> ever since that august night in 2009. >> 911 emergency. >> i heard shots. >> you heard shots being fired?
2:08 am
>> yes. >> when a superman fell to earth. coming up, when a run-in with a prowler turned >> how many pops did you hear? >> three. >> describe how fast they were. >> pop, pop, pop. >> when "dateline extra" continues. with advil, you'll ask what twisted ankle? what muscle strain? advil makes pain a distant memory nothing works faster stronger or longer what
2:09 am
pain? advil. my dbut now, i take used tometamucil every it traps and removes the waste that weighs me down, so i feel lighter. try metamucil, and begin to feel what lighter feels like.
2:10 am
2:11 am
keith morrison: midnight august 28, 2009, oxnard, california.
2:12 am
mitd midnight, august 28, 2009, oxnard, california >> the woman in full panic. >> what's the person look like that was in your back yard? >> you heard shots being fired? >> yes. my husband is outside. >> the woman on the phone was jane laut, the wife of the hometown hero. >> oh my god. >> 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. so i came back in. and i heard the shots. >> how old is your son? don't wake him up just yet, okay? >> i can't see dave. >> stay with me. i have officers on the way.
2:13 am
stay inside the house. >> the officers had to lock down and call in a homicide team to investigate further. it was a brutal scene. >> ventura county's investigator mike palmeiri arrived, there was no sign of a prowler. but they did find dave laut. >> he had been shot multiple times. he was on the ground, face down, with very obvious gunshot wounds to his back and to the back of his head. >> jane was a mess. she told investigators she had no idea who would do this. >> is there anybody who would want to harm him at all? >> no. >> son michael, 10 at the time, slept through it all. and jane's brother took charge of him while jane went down to the oxnard police station to offer a complete statement.
2:14 am
it had been a perfectly normal evening, she said. they were in bed by 10:00. dave in the master bedroom, she in michael's room, where she often slept because dave had a bad back. she said it was about an hour later, she said, about 11:00. >> dave came down the hall, she said, worried about the dog. >> so 11:15, she said, she and dave crept over to a sliding glass door to a side yard. >> the gunshots?
2:15 am
>> the gunshots? >> what did it sound like? >> it sounded like pop, pop, pop. like quick. >> how many pops did you hear? >> three. >> describe them to me, how fast they were.
2:16 am
>> pop, pop, pop. >> it wasn't a pop, hesitation pop, hesitation pop? it was one, two, three? >> 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. >> what happens to a person? you go to bed at night and everything's fine. the phone rings at 5:00 in the morning, suddenly 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 he just began sobbing and saying, no, no. >> yeah. >> and -- it was horrible. >> you don't believe it, but it's like -- how do you kill superman? how is superman dead? [ singing ]
2:17 am
>> a few days later, dave's friends and family held a candlelight vigil. >> he was so loved. and every step we take, we take because of people like you reach out to us and are here to support my mother-in-law and my husband and our family. we really truly appreciate that. thank you. >> lift up your candles for dave. >> but they didn't know then didn't know what the police had discovered. a key piece of evidence almost overlooked at first. >> the lead investigator in this case walks in, he's just looking around. and i mean, you've got a dining room table, you've got a hutch, you've got a grandfather clock. so he opened up that clock and it was an oh, wow moment. >> now, why would a prowler leave something so important in there? >> if the intruder was outside, how did a key piece of evidence get inside?
2:18 am
and something else seemed odd. jane's behavior. >> coming up. >> she actually tried to keep one of the police officers out of the laundry room, tried to close the door with her in the laundry room and him out. >> when "dateline" continues. goin' up the country. later, gary' i have a motorcycle! wonderful. ♪ ♪ i'm goin' up the country, baby don't you wanna go? ♪ ♪ i'm goin' up the country, baby don't you wanna go? ♪ geico motorcycle, great rates for great rides.
2:19 am
2:20 am
2:21 am
keith morrison: jane laut told the police a harrowing story of a backyard prowler and gunshots right outside her door. jane laut told the police a harrowing story of a back yard
2:22 am
prowler and gunshots right outside her door. and now her husband dave was dead. some things seemed a little off. for example, said investigator palmieri, when police were still questioning jane at the house, she stepped into the laundry room. >> she 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, said palmieri, jane was pairing pajamas. in the laundry room they found her jeans rolled up in a towel tucked between the washer and drier, her top laying there inside out, looked like removed quickly. when an officer tried to administer a gunshot residue kit to jane's hands, standard procedure in a shooting investigation when an officer tried to administer a gunshot residue kit
2:23 am
to jane's hands, standard procedure in a shooting investigation -- >> when the officer doing the test began getting the test ready, she did go into the bathroom and 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. >> so odd things. anyway, police scoured the place, didn't see any murder weapon lying around. and they were about ready to take dave's body off to the morgue when some instinct told the lead detective to look here. he cracked open the doors of the grandfather clock in the dining room, looked down inside, and there it was. >> this is more than likely the murder weapon. >> a ruger six-shot revolver. surely no prowler would have dropped a weapon right here in the dining room clock. >> the prowler theory did not make any sense whatsoever with a hidden gun inside the house. >> and so it wasn't long before investigators shifted their focus from unknown prowler to the woman who had reported one, jane laut.
2:24 am
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? and you'll remember, jane specifically mentioned a red flashlight. so police bagged it, tested it, and found gunshot residue. as if she was holding the flashlight while shooting her husband. if jane was the killer, this is about as cold-blooded as it gets. investigators said dave had been shot six times. >> we came up with a fairly logical explanation of how it was done. >> shot one appeared to have been fired from a distance of several feet. grazed his head. deposited pieces of scalp on a garbage can and then the bullet hit the wall. that shot brought him to his knees, where the killer fired shots two and three into his face at close range. >> we find the one that goes through his cheekbone, it goes
2:25 am
down the side yard, 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, and the 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. >> but they didn't believe her. especially when they found out that the bullets that killed dave matched the gun in the grandfather clock. and now don and rebecca laut began to look at a lot of things differently, things jane had told them through the years which maybe didn't add up either. >> i honestly felt like she was family, so i'm going to dismiss the strange feeling i get
2:26 am
sometimes. >> like said rebecca the time jane told her two men put a knife to her throat and demanded money. >> and i said, well, did you call the police? did you yell? she says, oh, no, i just -- i just came home. i just wanted to get home. and i said, this was in the middle of the day and nobody else saw? she said, no. >> and then there was her claim that somebody was leaving threatening notes on her car. >> but then you would ask her, and probe her, like what kind of notes? but she wouldn't really tell you. >> so the implication is somebody's after her, she's in some danger? >> right. >> now when they look back at the things they noticed 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 had the sense that she was pushing dave away? >> yeah. i think that was a stress on the marriage. >> that there was stress was pretty clear, said rebecca. >> for a while, every time she
2:27 am
would call me, it seemed like it was to vent about something she didn't like about what dave was doing. >> so evidence was carefully sifted for months. and then in february 2010, jane laut was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, and the story, said investigators, was chillingly clear. >> this was an execution. she had lured him out, shot him from behind, and then egressed on him, shot him a second and third time, stepped back and shot him a fourth time, came up super close, 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. so jane hired a lawyer, and pleaded not guilty. and the story that came out then turned the whole case on its
2:28 am
head. >> mr. laut was a monster. he was despicable. coming up, what had been happening behind closed doors? >> you've got one or two choices, flight or fight. she decided to fight. >> when "dateline extra" continues.
2:29 am
2:30 am
2:31 am
hello. i'm dara brown, here is what's happening. funeral services will be held in florida for army sergeant la david johnson. senior congressional aide says the ambush attack by militants stemmed in part from a massive intelligence failure. in other news, "the new york times" says republican lawmakers are considering a sharp cut in 401(k) contribution limits to offset a $1.5 trillion tax cut. now back to "dateline." welcome back. i'm craig melvin.
2:32 am
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 what she told them next would send the investigation hurdling in a whole new direction. a stunning allegation points to another explanation for dave's death. here again is keith morrison with "the hometown hero and the homecoming queen." >> 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. >> i mean, 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? 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.
2:33 am
>> this close friend said jane's fear reminded her of another vulnerable creature. >> jane looked like a scared cat. constantly doing like a twitch, 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 legs.
2:34 am
several places. >> this is a monster. he's just a monster. >> ron bamieh 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, said bamieh, for nearly three decades, he subjected his wife to horrific abuse. >> like all abuse, it's 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 said bamieh. 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.
2:35 am
>> all those years jane was afraid to report dave. said bamieh, afraid of what he might do to her loved ones. so she covered up his 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
2:36 am
to kill michael? >> yeah. >> so she made a decision to fight. >> 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 here. 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. he grabs her, throws her against the wall. she falls down. she kind of crawls backwards with her hands and feet like a crab walk towards the back door. somehow she gets him out on the patio. she's like, calm down, dave, calm down.
2:37 am
>> then, out in the darkness, dave stumbled on the patio. >> he loses his balance, and that's her opportunity. and she goes at him and she try toss grab the gun. they go to the ground. there is a struggle for 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 dead. he's down but she thinks he's getting up. women in these relationships have this superman complex they give their abusers. >> so yes, she lied about the prowler, but did it almost automatically. her conditioned response to his abuse. but once the police discovered jane's lie, said bamieh, their minds were made up, that she was a cold, calculating killer. and so when police found those clothes shoved in the laundry room, bamieh said, they believed it must have been jane's attempt to hide evidence of her crime. but those clothes only had a tiny fragment of gunshot
2:38 am
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 all supports her story. >> it all does. >> 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, said bamieh, 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. >> you're saying that's physically impossible?
2:39 am
>> yes. it's ludicrous. >> 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.
2:40 am
>> 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.
2:41 am
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. >> 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" continues.
2:42 am
2:43 am
♪ (cheering)
2:44 am
a triangle solo? surprising. what's not surprising? how much money sam and yohanna saved by switching to geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more.
2:45 am
keith morrison: olympic glory does not always translate into material wealth. >> 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?
2:46 am
>> mortgages, doctor bills, school -- >> supplies. >> -- tuition, 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 $300,000, $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.
2:47 am
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 september 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
2:48 am
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. said bamieh. 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 said bamieh. 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. and 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. it's not on you, ron. 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.
2:49 am
>> she rose that night. i mean, 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, that's -- i would be lying if i said i did. >> but could he persuade a jury to believe in jane too?
2:50 am
coming up, jane takes the stand. >> she's going to 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. >> when "dateline" continues. i was wondering if an electric toothbrush really cleans better than a manual. and my hygienist says it does but they're not all the same. who knew? i had no idea. so she said, look for one that's shaped like a dental tool with a round brush head. go pro with oral-b. oral-b's rounded brush head surrounds each tooth to gently
2:51 am
remove more plaque. and unlike sonicare, oral-b is the only electric toothbrush brand accepted by the american dental association for its effectiveness and safety. my mouth feels so clean. i'll only use an oral-b. oral-b. brush like a pro. whentrust the brand doctors trust for themselves. nexium 24hr is the number one choice of doctors and pharmacists for their own frequent heartburn. and all day all night protection. when it comes to frequent heartburn, trust nexium 24hr.
2:52 am
2:53 am
throughout history, the one meal when we come together, break bread, share our day and connect as a family. [ bloop, clicking ] and connect, as a family. just, uh one second voice guy. [ bloop ] huh? hey? i paused it. bam, family time. so how is everyone? find your awesome with xfinity xfi and change the way you wifi. welcome back. facing 50 years to life for the murder of her husband, when prosecutors offered to cut jane laut's sentence to just six years if she'd plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter,
2:54 am
she said no. would she regret that decision? here's keith morrison with the final chapter of "the hometown hero and the homecoming queen." rameen minoui: dave laut was a son. he was a father. he was a colleague. he was a friend. keith morrison: more than six years after the death of olympic bronze medalist dave laut, the murder trial of his wife, jane, finally began in this ventura, california, courtroom. prosecutor rameen minoui told the jury jane was a calculating killer. rameen minoui: 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. it's to find the defendant guilty of murder. i'm about to talk to you for quite some time. keith morrison: defense attorney bamieh countered the real victim was jane laut, who suffered the utmost cruelty
2:55 am
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 the defense called family and friends and neighbors who all testified jane was an abused spouse. but attorney bamieh said the most important witness was the defendant herself. ron bamieh: if she's going to get a "not guilty," which is what we're shooting for, she has to testify. keith morrison: 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. ron bamieh: i think she could live with the fact that he could kill her. she could not live with the fact that he could-- he would kill michael. keith morrison: on the stand, jane admitted that she lied in her 911 call-- on the stand, jane admitted that she lied in her 911 call.
2:56 am
>> and later to the police about a prowler, but she denied she had any denial 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 boundary. 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 remembers about the murder. she simply couldn't recall what happened after she fired the first two or three shots, but she did admit she was quite familiar with the kwgun. in fact, she used it quite a few times before. >> this gun in the hands of this
2:57 am
defendant required her to pull back that hammer and fire. pull back the hammer, fire. each and every time for the six times 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 pull the trigger down. you can pull the hammer back. >> this is called fanning the gun. sort of thing you expect to see in an old western: but a prosecution expert countered the movie is the only play you'd ever see that. >> every expert that came up said that is absurd. the accuracy of firing a gun six times and hitting the target six times in the dark is astronomical.
2:58 am
sglm aft >> after seven weeks of testimony, final arguments from both sides, defense attorney made a passioned plea to the jury. >> why would jane do this? why would she do it? when whether yyou think about is only one reason. anybody would do it to protect their child. you do not have the right to kill your husband. >> while prosecutor urged the jury to look past the emotion and focus on the evidence. >> defense testimony is false. it's untruthful. unbelievable. it's a story conjured up to raise a battered woman self defense claim in a murder case. it's plan b because plan a is a lie. >> jurors deliberated for 3.5 days.
2:59 am
[ inaudible ] 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 call us to forgive, and we do. we forgive her. keith morrison: but forget? no, not the lauts, not their superman. don laut: 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.
3:00 am
but it's hard. that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thanks for watching. [music playing] i'm craig melvin. and i'm natalie morales. and this is "dateline." r, i mean, i lost concept of time. i reached in, pulled her out, started screaming help. this is date line. >> when i saw her. i lost track of time. >> i reached in. it was the worst seconds of my life. >> how was it possible? >> i would give anything if she were alive today. >> such a sweet young wife and mom. such a


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on