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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  November 18, 2017 1:00am-2:00am PST

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there's likely to be voter backlash. >> it's a great point. you're going to notice whether you're paying more taxes or not. thank you both. >> thank you. that is all in for this evening, good night. >> he's a good dad. and he just loves us so much. >> reporter: no one wants to have both their parents taken away from them. a dramatic new turn in the story of a young family, facing heartache beyond measure. a mom who suddenly vanished. a dad, suddenly under suspicion. >> you just hear the awful things they say. >> i knew they were focusing on me. there was no body, no weapon, no eyewitness. >> there's not one doubt in my mind that he is guilty now, after four trials, the final verdict is in! >> look, i'm not guilty. i didn't do this!
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>> reporter: i'm lester holt and this is dateline. it was september 11th, 2001. >> things are in some kind of disarray.
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>> we cannot sit here in silence and watch another travesty of justice take place. the family was helping launch a
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with a private lake in the backyard. living in paradise, seems like. >> yeah. the kids have -- still have a lot of happy memories out here. it's just a very unique and special place that we were fortunate enough to purchase, you know, years and years ago. >> reporter: a unique and special place that only a prosperous person could afford like the prominent car dealer cal harris. he loved it out here, too, he said. and taught his kids to love it. you went hunting with the kids here and fishing? >> hunting, fishing. you name it. we swim in the lake, jet ski in the lake, we water ski. my kids like to bring their friends out and really enjoy. if you like to be outdoors, it's a fun place. >> christmas was always fun. >> reporter: i can imagine. >> opening presents. playing with the new things you got. >> reporter: i can't think of a more idyllic place to have christmas. did it feel like that at the time? >> it did. >> reporter: it was here in this patch of paradise, said cal, that he woke up one morning 15 years ago to find that his wife,
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michele, wasn't home. she'd gone to work the evening before, didn't come back. merry harris is cal's aunt. >> he didn't know what happened. >> reporter: woke up and she wasn't there? >> and, honestly, he didn't -- it wasn't something he seemed comfortable talking about a lot. i think it was very emotional for him. >> reporter: she was gone. gone without warning. her friends, distraught, called her cell phone. >> where the hell are you? you need to call me as soon as freaking possible. i am worried to death about you. >> reporter: they heard her cheery cell phone message haunting them. >> hi. this is michele. leave me your name and number and i'll call you back as soon as i can. >> michele? bob miller. what is going on here? >> reporter: there is something else about this you should know. the night michele harris
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vanished was not just any night. it was september 11th, 2001. >> things are in some kind of disarray. >> reporter: so they were. and so nobody was paying much attention to the disturbing events up here around little owego, new york. >> troopers have all been sent to new york city. there's a skeleton crew left at all the stations. >> reporter: back then, sue mulvey was a senior investigator with the new york state police. she took the call morning of september 12th. what did you do? >> i sent two investigators over to talk to calvin harris and sent a uniformed trooper up to the house. >> reporter: calvin harris opened up his house to them. >> he said whatever you need. look wherever you need to look. carte blanche. i want this to be solved. i want this to happen. >> reporter: that morning she knew only this. she had a missing person case on her hands and, with luck, it would resolve itself speedily, as many do. >> we kept hoping, as everyone
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did, that michele would call her house or call one of her friends and show up. >> reporter: cal said his aunt merry was completely focused on his four children, had to leave it to others to search for michele. >> his thing was, it's time to go to school. now it's time for me to pick them up. i need to make sure this is a routine that's normal for them. we're going to keep them in that routine. >> reporter: but where was their mother? here was a clue, and it didn't look good. michele's van had been left at the foot of the long driveway leading up to her house on that big country lot. the keys were still in the ignition, but where was she? mulvey's investigators, video camera in hand, searched the house. outside those 200-plus acres to look through. >> that area was homesteaded heavily in the 1800s. so there's a lot of laid-up wells and old foundations and things like that. >> reporter: didn't find anything? >> no, we didn't. >> reporter: not at first and not outside, but a few days
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later they did. >> i entered the residence through the open garage door. >> reporter: senior investigator steve andersen. >> i noticed blood stains on the floor and on the moldings of the doorway that led out to the garage. >> reporter: and there was more blood, tiny stains on a kitchen rug. they sent it out for tests. >> everything on the floor, on the inside walls and on the carpet came back to being michele's blood. >> reporter: and suddenly the case looked very different. >> then we knew we had a real problem. >> reporter: what in the world had happened to michele harris? when we come back -- >> they have what would appear to be an idyllic life and a beautiful home and beautiful children. >> a husband suspected. a daughter questioned. >> i didn't talk. i just sat there and cried the whole time. somehow we always leave packing to the last minute.
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>> reporter: michele harris, 35-year-old mother of four, was missing. new york state police investigator sue mulvey felt sure of one thing, michele had not abandoned her children. >> the clear picture that we developed is that michele would never leave her children, ever. >> reporter: so was it foul play? after all, michele's van was abandoned at the foot of her driveway.
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and that blood on the garage floor and in the kitchen alcove, testing proved it was michele's blood. >> there's a lot of blood in the garage and spread over a wide area. and there is a lot of blood splatter, over 60 drops, of blood that's been not just dripped but splattered by some force on that throw rug. >> reporter: and yet it didn't make sense. this woman, wife of an affluent car dealer, devoted mom, seemed like an unlikely victim. >> they had what appeared to be an idyllic life, beautiful home, beautiful children. >> reporter: it got off to a storybook start. he, the attractive wealthy car dealer. she, a pretty young woman from modest means, answering phones at a harris family car dealership. >> my brother had his office across from mine. i just saw her one day and just kind of evolved from there. >> reporter: what attracted the two of you to each other?
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>> she was very outgoing and very attractive and good personality. >> she was a knockout. she was funny. she was vibrant. >> reporter: his aunt merry harris was also taken by cal's new girl. michele, she said, was a woman up for anything. >> athletic. let's have a good time. jump on the jet ski. jump on the four wheeler. >> reporter: wasn't a dainty wee thing as it were. >> right. >> reporter: and not a shy, retiring type either? >> no. that's part of why their personalities to me seemed to really mesh. >> reporter: michele fell hard, too, for the man and his lifestyle. gary taylor is her dad. >> he won some dealership thing and they went to switzerland, i think. >> reporter: wow. >> there was a lot of perks there that she had never had before. so -- >> reporter: in august 1990, michele and cal got married here beside empire lake. >> it was a great day. just a beautiful setting.
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very relaxing. not very stressful. just kind of -- ended up being a big party afterwards. >> reporter: the fairytale rolled on. the kids kept coming. they built this house on empire lake. here on their private preserve, they were a family in motion, fishing, swimming, skating. michele into all of it. and now the kids, of course, are much older. taylor is 21, cayla 20, jenna 18 and tanner 16. their mom? about her, they have no real memories. >> it's been a long time. >> reporter: yeah, that's true. most of your lives. and how old were you? >> i'm not sure how old i was. but i don't have any memories. >> reporter: jenna is often told by those who knew michele how much she resembles her mom. >> i've seen pictures of her. she's really pretty. she's always smiling. like a really happy person. it makes me feel good that people see me in her. >> reporter: and even with that
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terrible loss, said the kids, they've grown up happy and content for the most part, all thanks to one person. just tell me about your dad. what kind of guy is he? >> funny. >> reporter: funny? >> yeah. >> he's funny and he's the most caring guy in the world. and he's nice and we're his whole world. and he's protective and just loves us so much and wants the best for us. >> reporter: a protective dad who said he tried to shield them best he could from the not-so-happy times. >> michele was really struggling with those kids at a young age, which i totally understood. what i noticed was that she was just drifting away from being a stay-at-home mom. and i understood that. >> reporter: there was certainly friction in the harris marriage. he loved order. she, not so much. >> she had a room downstairs and she called it the chuck room. if there was going to be a party or picnic or whatever, she'd throw it -- take it down the
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chuck room. >> reporter: she told friends and family he had a temper, a controlling way. once back in 1996 she called her sister-in-law from a closet, terrified. >> he had the gun outside the closet and she was inside, hiding. >> reporter: what did you hear about that? >> he was out there with a pump gun, i guess, and he was racking the pump action up and down and telling her to come out. >> reporter: cal later denied it was true that he had been fighting or threatening michele with a gun. then in 1999, michele learned cal was having an affair. she was devastated, but not ready to end the marriage. and cal said he wasn't either. >> michele said we can work through this, but, you know, you've got to get rid of the girl. she worked up at one of the dealerships. >> reporter: they did what they could to salvage the marriage. it didn't work. she told her family he cut off her spending money. she took up with a young man in november 2000. a month later she told cal she
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wanted a divorce. her family said he didn't take it well. and things in that big house in paradise grew strained indeed. why did she stay in the house? >> her attorney had advised her to stay in the house and to not leave. >> reporter: they divided the parenting duties and worked on a settlement. michele got a job as a waitress at a local restaurant and bar. that's where she was the night of september 11th. she finished her shift about 9:00, had some drinks with two co-workers and then she drove to her boyfriend's apartment. left there about 11:00. that, sue mulvey learned, was the last time anybody saw michele harris. >> we did a lot of work on a lot of different people early on. and it wasn't until they were eliminated and then we learned more and more about calvin that he became the focus. >> reporter: the district attorney even tried to speak to the two eldest children.
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didn't accomplish much beyond frightening them, apparently. >> i know i just sat there and cried the whole time. i didn't talk. i wasn't allowed to be in there with taylor. >> reporter: how old were you at the time? >> i was in fourth grade. he was in fifth grade. so, 9 and 10. >> reporter: the d.a. jerry keen said he interviewed plenty of other witnesses who convinced him the police had the right man. in september 2005, four years after michele harris disappeared, the d.a. charged her husband, cal, with second-degree murder. >> three state police personnel literally busted into my office and kicked the door open. and the three of them jumped me and handcuffed me and shackled me and walked me out the front door of my office. >> reporter: you got a taste of law and order up close and personal. >> yeah. >> reporter: the d.a. was going to take the case to trial, even though there was no body, no murder weapon and even though he himself was by no means convinced he could prevail.
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>> i thought that it was maybe a 50-50 shot at a conviction. i thought that a jury could go either way. coming up -- >> it hurts. absolutely. all of it was just taken away. >> prosecutors come on strong. >> he told her that he would put her body in a place where it would never be found. >> and the evidence? before i had the shooting, burning, pins-and-needles of diabetic nerve pain, these feet... grew into a free-wheeling kid... loved every step of fatherhood... and made old cars good as new. but i couldn't bear my diabetic nerve pain any longer. so i talked to my doctor and he prescribed lyrica. nerve damage from diabetes causes diabetic nerve pain. lyrica is fda approved to treat this pain, from moderate to even severe diabetic nerve pain. lyrica may cause serious allergic reactions, suicidal thoughts or actions. tell your doctor right away
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>> reporter: in september 2005, four years after his wife, michele, vanished, cal harris was charged with murder. >> oh, it hurts. absolutely. you know, i had a good standing in the community. >> reporter: yeah. >> had a successful business. donated my time, money and resources to a lot of good causes in the community. raised my kids in that community. and, you know, all of it was just taken away. >> reporter: but the cayuga county d.a. had become convinced that cal killed his wife late in the night of 9/11 and, as the children slept, disposed of her body. >> the more i met with the people that were close to michele and that knew something about the case, the more convinced i became that, you know, he really did this. >> reporter: the trial began in may 2007, with the prosecution claim that cal harris was a man used to being in charge of everyone and everything in his life.
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>> he's in control of his businesses. he's in control of his wife. he's in control of his finances, his employees and his children and just kind of a domineering person. >> reporter: more than that, said the prosecutor, cal harris could be volatile. michele harris began keeping notes about what she said was abusive language and behavior. in fact, she won a temporary order of protection against him. >> what he said to her was, i wouldn't need a gun to kill you. and if i did kill you, they'll never find your body. >> reporter: in the heat of passion people say terrible things to each other. doesn't mean they killed them, though. >> but he went beyond saying terrible things to her. he told her he would put her body in a place where it would never be found. that's like one of the biggest facts of the case. we looked and looked and looked for this woman's body and have not been able to find it. >> reporter: the harris family baby-sitter, a woman named barb thayer testified she was the one
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that found michele's van parked at the end of the long driveway. >> she goes into the house and yells is michele here? because the car's at the end of the driveway. and the defendant, without missing a beat, just said, we better go get the car. >> reporter: according to the baby-sitter, cal didn't seem surprised. >> didn't ask her any questions about the keys, like he knows the keys are in the van. >> reporter: this is an interpretation of a person's reaction. >> yeah, you're right. but it's all these hundreds of little things that convinced me that he's just not acting like someone would act if they didn't know what had happened to their wife. >> reporter: later that morning, when new york state troopers talked to cal, they too made note of his demeanor. >> he seemed kind of unconcerned. he was more concerned with getting michele harris' van cleaned up and back on the lot. >> reporter: the motive, said the prosecutor, was simply money.
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cal had learned that michele was demanding an appraisal of the car business. did she intend to take a piece of it in the divorce? >> all of a sudden, everything is out of his control. >> reporter: so the argument went, if michele disappeared, cal's problems did, too. >> he was going to have his finances scrutinized. he was perhaps not going to be able to stay in the marital residence. certainly his children are leaving. and the next day, all those things are back in his control. >> reporter: finally, that blood evidence. prosecution witnesses called it medium velocity spatter that had been left there only recently. >> i think it could very well have been the most important part of the case as far as placing michele bleeding in the house with some force having been applied to that blood and no explanation for it. >> reporter: so what happened that night? prosecutor keene put his theory to the jury.
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>> she got home that night at about 11:30, parked her car, went in through the garage door and as soon as she got inside the house, she was struck with something by the defendant. >> reporter: she went down on the kitchen rug, he said. was struck again. that blood spatter. >> so this would put her down either on her knees or on her bottom as she's being struck and the blood spatters on the door and on the carpet. took her back out into the garage and laid her down on the garage floor. she must have bled some on to the garage floor because there's an area three feet by six feet where blood was found. >> reporter: then, said the prosecutor, cal tried to clean up before he disposed of the body. >> he would have then taken the car back down to the end of the driveway, walked back up to the
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house and disposed of the body during the seven hours or thereabouts before he called mrs. thayer. >> reporter: the defense attorneys tried to swat it all down. and cal harris himself was adamant, he had nothing to do with his wife's disappearance. >> it's one thing to say, look, i'm innocent. i didn't do this. it's another thing to have so many people accusing you, pointing the finger at you. look, i'm not guilty. i didn't do this. i didn't commit this crime. >> reporter: there was no body, no murder weapon, and the defense said the forensics were unconvincing at best. but the jurors weren't having it. it was june 2007. they came back guilty. cal harris broke down and sobbed. >> because i knew i was going to not see my kids. i knew i wasn't going home that night, you know. i knew how they were going to be. it just was overwhelming. >> reporter: but in the eyes of michele's family, it was finally justice.
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and then? then an extraordinary thing happened. >> my first reaction was, come on. the judge is not going to accept this guy's claim. >> a new witness with an amazing story. and it turned the harris case on its head. coming up -- >> as i was going by the harris property there was a blond woman out there. looked like she was crying. i know it was her. >> had someone seen michele? >> the most bizarre story that you could have ever told. >> get ready for trial number two. and later.
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>> reporter: what happened here in little owego, new york, in august 2007 was almost unbelievable. cal harris, convicted of killing his wife, michele, was about to be sent away for 25 to life and
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suddenly it all blew up right in d.a. jerry keane's face. >> i came into the courtroom thinking the defendant was going to be sentenced and it ended up more my being on trial. >> reporter: who on earth had the power to make this happen? he did, kevin tubbs. >> i know she was there, okay? i know she was. >> reporter: kevin tubbs, a plain spoken rough hewn farm worker back then was hauling hay. why was he so important? because after six years during which tubbs swore he barely registered the fuss over the harris case, he picked up the paper and saw the story of cal's conviction and -- >> i seen that and, you know, i started like recalling, you know -- thinking like oh, my god. >> reporter: just like that, he suddenly knew, he said, that what he saw the morning after 9/11, the morning michele harris disappeared was important. it was between 5:30 and 6:00 in the morning, he said. he was hauling a load of hay. >> as i was going by the harris property, there was a blond woman out there and a young
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gentleman, you know, in his early 20s. >> reporter: standing by a pickup truck. >> my lights were right on them. >> reporter: and hardly more than ten feet away, he said, he looked straight at the young man. saw he was dark haired, muscular and visibly angry. >> he looks at me like this, like what do you want? >> reporter: and the woman? she was looking down. >> just by her face, looked like she was crying. she was either upset or wasted. >> reporter: the woman, he said, he was certain of it, was michele harris. >> i know it was her. >> reporter: was it true? if kevin tubbs really did see michele on the early morning hours of september 12th, then the prosecutor's case was in ruins. because cal harris couldn't have murdered her some seven hours before and an innocent man had
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just been convicted. and so the judge tossed out the verdict, called for another trial and sent cal home to his kids. many, including michele's family, thought tubbs story was bogus. >> everybody knew he was lying. it was the most bizarre story that you could have ever told. >> reporter: and of course, when trial number two opened in 2009, the prosecution attacked tubbs' credibility. why did he wait six years to come forward? still for the defense, tubbs was pure gold, the man to create reasonable doubt. >> there simply isn't enough evidence to convict cal harris of murder. >> reporter: bill easton was one of cal's attorneys. >> there's not an eyewitness to it, not an ear witness to it. he didn't confess to it. none of this direct evidence is present in this case. >> reporter: the prosecution argued that cal showed how unfeeling he was by failing to join the search for michele. that was nonsense, said his aunt merry.
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cal was simply trying to keep it all together for his small children. >> there were dozens, maybe hundreds of experts scouring the area, looking for her. and there was one person taking care of these four kids. >> reporter: that alleged motive that cal was worried the dealerships would take a hit because of the divorce? not so said cal's side. his lawyer told him michele couldn't touch the business. and that anyway, before she vanished, michele had decided to accept cal's settlement offer, $740,000. >> she had indicated to numerous people she was happy with the settlement. >> reporter: besides, said aunt merry -- >> there's plenty of money to go around and no amount of money would have made cal say a ha, you know, for $2 million, i'm just going to wipe her out. >> reporter: then there was the blood, the spatter in the kitchen alcove. could have been a cut finger,
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said the defense. anyway, nobody could tell when it was left there. as for the prosecution's claim that cal tried to wash away blood on the garage floor -- >> there's a small amount of diluted blood that was found days after the new york state police had walked through this particular area of the house while they were conducting the search. >> reporter: walking on it is not going to destroy the blood cells. >> it could dilute it if their boots were wet. >> reporter: finally the defense decided jurors needed to hear from cal harris as a caring father not as the menacing husband the state made him out to be. the defendant took the stand. >> it was nerve-racking at first. obviously my life is on the line and my kids are -- you know, their lives are on the line. >> reporter: he admitted to an affair, blamed himself for the end of the marriage. but denied threatening her or trying to control michele. if anything, he said, she had been living a wild life, staying out all hours just before she disappeared. >> she came and went as she pleased. she had money to spend.
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i wasn't tracking her down. the baby-sitters were here. the nannies were here. she was off doing whatever she was doing. i don't even know what she was doing. >> reporter: was it enough? the jury deliberated for almost two days. and it wasn't. guilty again. >> takes your breath away. you know, it's like getting stabbed in the stomach. just -- i'm numb, you know. i had already been through it once. >> reporter: family and friends stepped in, took care of his small kids who began a weekly ritual visiting dad in prison. taylor, the eldest. >> you go and get to see him for two hours a week and you've got a bunch of other people talking and it's loud. and you can't really have a private conversation. that was definitely the hardest part for us. i mean, he held it together well but -- >> reporter: what was it like driving home? >> quiet.
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>> reporter: watching his kids walk away week after week, said cal, was unimaginably hard. >> that was the worst. i went back to my cell and just laid there for hours and hours and just closed my eyes and tried to block it out. >> reporter: three years rolled by. but then came a day in october, 2012, when cal harris found himself crying for joy in the prison yard. coming up -- >> it's rare, though. i mean, this is really rare for that to happen. >> yeah. >> a new chance at freedom, new urgency from the kids. >> this is our time to do our part. >> and a whole new theory of the case. >> it's all coming together. >> it's time to look elsewhere. >> trial number three, when "dateline" continues. estored. fortified. replenished. emerge everyday with emergen-c packed with b vitamins, antioxidants, electrolytes
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>> reporter: had cal harris won the lottery, it could hardly be as surprising as the news he heard in the prison yard in 2012. this is rare, though. i mean this is really rare for that to happen. >> yeah. >> reporter: what happened? new york's court of appeals overturned his second murder conviction, citing errors made by the judge and ordered trial number three. cal once again went home to the house on empire lake and his four growing children. tanner, the youngest, was in eighth grade then. the rest were in high school.
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>> that was great. >> reporter: what a change, huh? >> back to normal. it was easy. >> reporter: yeah? >> yeah. >> reporter: didn't take long to adjust? >> he had to adjust to what our plans were. >> reporter: well, you'd been coping on your own for so long. >> yeah. >> reporter: this time, this third chance, the kids were determined this would be different. >> we want you to know our dad will not be taken away from us again for a crime we know he did not commit. >> reporter: it was a very public coming out. cayla addressed the cameras. the rest of the kids and their teary-eyed dad stood by. >> we cannot sit here in silence and watch another travesty of justice take place. the family was helping launch a tip line, asking the public to help find out what really happened to michele. it was march 2014. >> it's time for the truth. it's time for a real investigation that will get us answers. i think that it was a good thing for us to finally come out and
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talk about it. >> reporter: how did it feel to do it? >> good. it was time to come out and give our part in this. >> reporter: cal hired new lawyers who condemned the state for an investigation that was blind to everything else as they searched through every square inch of cal's life and property. according to lead defense attorney, bruce barket. >> they pursued this man for 14 years with scant evidence. evidence that really no prosecutor should bring a case on. so the defense scoured the police files for clues and a -- they said the mother was hanging with an unsavory crowd. >> there were people with dealing drugs, with criminal records. people making sexual advances. >> and on the night she vanished, after she left her boyfriend's place, they knew that she did not go home.
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because one of the witnesses reported seeing her later that night with another man, a local steelworker attorney donna aldea. >> on that night at a bar, in a dance club, he actually said. he was there but left the two of them alone and went home. >> reporter: the steelworker was a regular at her restaurant, saided defense. stacy stuart. he told his friends he had a sexual relationship with michele. he appeared to be the very man kevin tubbs saw with michele in the early hours of september 12th. >> it was a blonde woman out there and a young gentleman, you know, in his early 20s. >> reporter: tubbs identified that man from a photograph. >> his physical appearance, his facial hair, his height, his age and the type of vehicle he
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drove. >> reporter: tubbs said the man he saw was standing beside a black truck. stewart owned a black truck, same kind. >> and it's a new model and it's a chevy. you look everything up and it's all coming together. >> he's denied any involvement in her disappearance and said he was never alone with her. >> still, cal's side was convinced that he played some role in michele's disappearance. >> in 2015 trial number 3 began with a change of venue. >> to have forensic scientists get up and speculate and guess at how old blood was based on the color from a photograph is an outrageously unsupported proposition. >> reporter: also out? hearsay testimony from prosecution witnesses who said michele told them that cal threatened her life. >> we don't think they belong in evidence. it's part of the reason the case was unfair the first time, the
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second time. >> reporter: but then? then the defense attempted to present its evidence about that alternate suspect, the steelworker. and the judge shut them down. the jury would only be allowed to hear the following fact. the man's name, that michele knew him, that kevin tubbs i.d.'d him and that he owned a black truck at the time. no more. why? because stacy stewart wasn't on trial and cal harris was. wrong man, his attorneys insisted. >> cal did not deserve to be on trial. and frankly, michele and her family deserve better. we all want to know what happened to her. it's time to look elsewhere. >> reporter: there was a new
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prosecutor this time around. tioga county's kirk martin. he made the same arguments as the previous d.a. saying the evidence pointed to cal harris killing his wife. the trial went on for three months. finally, late april, the jury got it and the waiting began. michele's family, still convinced that cal was guilty. >> there a corner of your brain that thinks, god, maybe it was somebody else? >> not at all. not at all. >> well, cal and his family hoped the jury was suede otherwise. >> you had said i didn't do it. i should be acquitted. yet, you weren't. how does that impact your thinking now? >> just by what bruce and his team had done during the investigation. it's got to create some doubt. we didn't have that before. >> by this time it was a way of life for the children.
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>> so i think, if things don't go our way, it will definitely turn all of our world's upside down. i know we're tough enough that we'll get through it. but you definitely don't like to think about that kind of thing. >> we definitely have plans what we want to do when it's all said and done and over with. >> reporter: want to talk about that at all? >> vacation. >> yeah. >> somewhere cool. >> reporter: maybe. maybe not. coming up -- >> what would happen this time? >> breaking news out of the east >> breaking news out of the east schoharie courthouse. >> would you believe trial number four? >> shocked. truly shocked. if you have medicare
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>> reporter: in cal harris's first two trials, jurors
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returned their verdicts swiftly. third time, deliberations dragged. finally, two weeks in, the jurors made it clear they simply could not reach a verdict. >> breaking news out of the schoharie county courthouse, the third cal harris murder trial has been ruled a mistrial by the judge. >> reporter: a mistrial. it was the outcome nobody wanted. >> we got closer to justice, but we're not there yet. they were sure he murdered -- >> reporter: tioga county prosecutor kirk martin did address reporters. >> my obligation as a district attorney is to seek justice. i await the earliest possible trial date that fits with the court's schedule. a fourth trial? really? >> deja vu all over again. same courthouse, same cast of character sters. with one notable newcomer.
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judge richard moss. when he waived his right to jury trial. he had a judge to decide the case. he would decide whether to hear the defense's new evidence. in the end, he allowed some, but not all. lead defense attorney, bruce bar ket. >> the truth has finally began to peek its head at this trial. we finally begin to see an outline of who is actually responsible for michele harris' demise. a peek or two. he made the most of it. something the steelworker once said about michele. >> he says i was the last person to be seen with her when she was alive. >> defense attorneys said they wanted to put stacy stuart on the stand but couldn't track him down. so now in closing, the attorney didn't offer a detailed theory about what happened to michele.
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didn't have to. >> i'm asking the court to find mr. harris not guilty because there's not proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed this offense. >> four trials and now it was all on the line. so d.a. kirk martin came on strong. that whole defense theory, he told the judge, was a fantasy. >> there's no evidence stacy stewart had any sort of relationship with michele. let alone any reason or motive to harm one hair on her head. >> finally, said the d.a., after so many years, so many trials, it was time to convict cal harris once and for all. >> michele died at the hands much her husband, the defendant, calvin harris. >> so what would the judge do? >> we presented the evidence about what we think happened. >> the judge was terse. his verdict brief. with no explanation. just two words. words cal harris and his
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children have waited 15 years to hear. not guilty. >> when he came back with the not guilty, i was just -- i was shocked. i was truly shocked. >> shocked, overjoyed. and saddened by what he had lost. >> best years of my life as a parent. i'll never get those years back. >> he will also never stand trial for his wife's murder again, exonerated and free finally to speak his mind about his terrible 15-year ordeal. >> from my standpoint personally, i think one of the greatest hypocrisies in our country is our criminal justice system. there is nothing fair about it. >> now, a man goes free, vindicated. but a mystery endures about a woman who vanished on a warm september night while the rest of the world was looking the
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other way. i'm craig melvin. >> i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." >> we were like sisters. we had shared so much. they told me that they had found her body. i just collapsed. she's dead because she was my friend. >> first, melissa disappeared. >> where's melissa? >> that's the million dollar question. >> i knew right then that she absolutely never made it into her house. >> left behind in her garage signs of a struggle and a strange orange mist. >> we didn't know what it was. >> then, her boss went missing, too. >> who was he afraid of? >> he might of been afraid that he was next. >> he "i


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