tv Dateline MSNBC January 13, 2019 3:00am-4:01am PST
looking. one day i'm going to look that man in the eye. one day he will be found. he'll be found. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. i'm craig melvin thank you for watching i'm craig melvin. >> i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." >> i said, did you ever contemplate committing the perfect murder? and he said, yes. the key element to that is making sure that someone is caught. once i have somebody, they'll stop looking and that's how you can get away. >> a cold blooded killing, a victim worth millions. and all kinds of conflicting clues. >> i never had a case this complicated before. >> police following multiple
leads until -- >> we asked who's that? he says he's my neighbor, he lives two floors below. >> a suspect under arrest. >> having someone just taken away, sorry. >> case closed. or was it? could there be something else or someone else they missed? >> there were so many parts of the puzzle that were not adding up. >> someone had pulled the trigger, but had someone else pulled the strings? >> he was the type of guy that could take bad luck and turn it into a fortune. hello and welcome to "dateline." they were neighbors living large in their salt lake city loft building. a sophisticated crowd who enjoyed mixing business with pleasure. then, a murder revealed a phony
in their midst, a man they claimed repaid their trust with lies. was he, they wondered, the mastermind behind this cold blooded killing or did investigators need to be looking in another direction? here's keith morrison with "suspicion." >> 7:00 a.m., november 15th, 0 2007, dawn in salt lake city, he pull into the restaurant parking lot, turned off his engine, sky beginning to brighten, sun not quite up, and then the voices, the terror, the nightmare beginning. >> immediately ducked down in my car after the first shot was fired and i laid there thinking, okay, this is how it is going to end for me. >> going to be dead. >> yes. >> 911, what is your emergency? >> somebody just shot the man in front of the village inn.
>> it stands in stark contrast to much of the rest of salt lake city, this chocolate factory, this grand stage for our story. it was converted to loft apartments in the boom years before the bust. and the style of living and location drew a distinct crowd, outliers of a sort, iconoclasts in this mormon city. >> i love this building. it was fabulous. >> bianca brooks, for example, born into privilege in england, raised in ireland and africa, she came here in august 2006 to visit a friend. >> i came on holiday and i met chris and we just hit it off. >> christopher wright, a real estate developer, lived in theb friend. there was a party in the building. bianca was invite. in one night you knew? >> yeah. >> to anyone watching, it was an obvious perfect match. friends and loft neighbors dave and lisa mccowan. >> he is so lovely.
she is quirky. she brought that playfulness out in chris. >> he was a positive guy before, he was ecstatic after. >> it was true blind passionate love that drove bianca to give up everything she had known her whole life back in england and move here to utah, to be with chris. where six months after that first moment they laid eyes on each other they were married. >> made me feel very safe. >> her protector and incurable romantic. >> this is a man who cries during romantic movies. "the notebook". >> it didn't take long for her to become fully entrenched in loft living. >> the loft was full of incredibly creative people. >> academics, airline pilots, physicians, documentary filmmaker, olympic speedskater, mortgage broker, socialites. >> john fife, an advertisining copy writer was one of the first to buy into the building. >> it is a collection of interesting people. >> none more so than the
building's most degre gra grega personalities. >> we were best friends here in utah. >> a huge personality fit his apparently oversized professional accomplishments. investor, restaurateur, owner of an extremely unusual consulting firm. the sole specialty was preparing wealthy clients for, of all things, prison. >> he was hired to help put their affairs in order before they went to prison, help educate the family what was going to happen, try to get the best sentencing possible for him. >> that business as david confessed to his loft friends grew out of personal experience, he himself was a felon, served a year in federal prison for mail fraud. >> but he was the type of guy that could take bad luck and turn it into a fortune.
>> so, most everyone in the building seemed to be living large in those good old premeltdown days when into the mix was introduced a new ingredient, a business man with real money. it was novak who did the introductions. >> christopher had an office about two or three blocks from here. and there was a starbucks he always went to and he went over there and novak was there with ken dolezsar and he introduced them. >> ken dolezsar lived in a wealthy enclave, a nice guy by all accounts, with a big extended family and money to invest. truck loads of money. he already loaned novak $1.8 million to make a movie about his prison consulting business and soon they began work on a real estate deal. >> they spoke sometimes and they had contracts back and forth, but i really -- i'm a girl. >> you weren't interested. >> no. it was so dull. >> fall came to salt lake city,
leaves yellowed and fell. the economic crisis like a low black cloud as they continued their interconnected hustle and flow. but the roiling storm bearing down on them was loaded not with economic ruin, but something else entirely. >> i couldn't believe it. and no one -- everyone was there, all of our friends, and we just said we couldn't move, it was, like, it was just unbelievable. >> "dateline" returns after the break. unbelievable >> "dateline" returns after the break. at walgreens, we want you, to keep doing you... and we'll take care of medicare part d. by helping you save up to $5 on each prescription... so you can get back to doing the things you love.
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so now it was that morning, 7:00 a.m., november 15th, 2007. >> 911. what is the address of your emergency? >> reporter: dean carriger was on the freeway when his radio came to life. >> i wasn't for a few minutes and i heard there was an actual shooting, at which time -- >> reporter: that's my department. >> that's where i need to get busy. >> reporter: he had the address, the parking lot of the village inn restaurant, in a town called sandy, his town. >> it was a very violent scene. the victim was shot five times. the fifth shot was done while the shooter was standing over top of him and shot him in the face. >> reporter: yeah.
oh. >> the shooter was making sure he was dead before he left. >> reporter: cold, methodical, like a professional hit. yet amazingly, somebody was sitting in a car maybe six feet away, watched the whole thing. ordinary guy minding his own business. now eyewitness to a brutal slaying. the man's name was lee carlson. >> the hand came up, reached inside of his pocket, out came a gun. and pointed at the other man right in the face and pulled the trigger. >> reporter: here at the police station lee told how he ducked out of sight after that first shot. but not before he got a glimpse of the shooter. >> as far as i can remember he had a longer nose. and i can't tell eye color but his eyes seemed to be more bulgy. >> you just saw a glimpse. i know we're kind of asking a lot. >> reporter: but what stood out most was his hair, long, tied in a ponytail, looked out of place, like a wig.
before the shooting, said lee, he heard the man's voice, sounded eastern european, maybe slavic. police believe both men came here in the victim's car, which the shooter then used to flee the scene. as for the victim, you heard the name by now -- ken dolezsar, the extremely wealthy local investor. >> my daughter called me just bawling. she told me ken's been shot, and he's dead. wow. >> reporter: matt beaudry considered ken dolezsar to be one of his closest friends. they founded and coached a college hockey team together. the ken he knew wasn't just a wealthy businessman, he was deeply concerned for the boys on the team. >> i watched him pull out his wallet and slip money into the kids' pockets because he heard they needed tuition money, couldn't buy their books. >> reporter: now his friend, their friend, was dead. >> some of those kids just broke down and bawled. >> reporter: at the loft building in downtown salt lake, the news rocketed from floor to floor.
after all a couple of residents including bianca's husband were doing business with dolezsar. >> it felt like rubber necking in a car crash. wow, somebody you knew is murdered. >> reporter: who could want a man as nice and generous as ken dolezsar dead? but then it's almost a truism of police work where money goes trouble often follows. the more money, the bigger the trouble. and in this case, an extra dollop. the dead man's vast fortune, hundreds of millions, wasn't really his, strictly speaking. he married into the bulk of it. the fortune came from a company his wife founded with her former husband. the divorce had been nasty. family loyalties bitterly divided. and some family members weren't the least bit happy that ken was making investment decisions. detective carriger contacted ken's brother and broke the news. >> dropped down to his knees, and he said it's that [ bleep ] derrick. >> reporter: a moment of
unguarded grief and rage and thus a possible suspect. derrick mower, ken's adult stepson. >> it was apparent there were difficulties between those two. >> reporter: but trouble in the family didn't stop with derrick. >> there seemed to be a riff. >> reporter: but not between dee and ken. theirs seemed to be a genuine love story. but now a grieving dee told detectives she was as baffled about the murder as they were. >> she was not able to provide us any information as to who he was meeting that day or anything about his day. >> reporter: and despite all that friction, the infighting over money and control, dee's family produced not a single viable suspect, not even ken's stepson. >> derrick had an alibi at the time of the murder. >> reporter: but those initial interviews weren't entirely in vain. a clue emerged from ken's assistant. the night before the murder she said ken got a call on his cell. >> she knew that he had set up a
meeting to meet with whoever he was talking to at 7:00 a.m. on the 15th. >> reporter: the day and time at which ken dolezsar was shot to death. was the caller also the killer? if so, they now had his voice because earlier that caller left this phone message. >> hey, ken, this is robert. i talked to dave. he said when you get to -- >> reporter: detectives traced the prepaid cell which the call came and went to the store where someone bought it. >> this phone was purchased with cash with no identifying information provided to the carrier. >> reporter: but the family did have a suggestion for the detectives, something they actually agreed on. he should look carefully at a man named david novak. yes, that david novak. remember novak's consulting business for prison-bound executives? guess what? >> dee mower was incarcerated in federal prison. >> reporter: tax fraud. ken's wealthy wife dee was david
novak's client. that's why ken dolezsar knew david novak. something made ken's relatives suspicious. so detectives drove over to the loft where they spoke with mr. novak. >> he was soft spoken. >> reporter: and a bright man. >> he came across as very intelligent, yes. >> reporter: answered all the questions but didn't seem to be of much help. then as detective carriger was preparing to leave, he tried one more question. that prepaid cell phone, the one someone used to invite ken to the fatal meeting, the store had surveillance video of a man buying that very phone. ken's family said they didn't recognize him, but would novak? carriger showed him the photo. >> we asked who is that? he says he's my neighbor. he lives two floors below. >> reporter: and just like that, a big piece of the puzzle plopped into place.
but fair warning -- as you'll see, puzzle pieces and some residents of this downtown loft might not be quite what they seem. coming up -- >> there is a massive sense of disbelief. >> the investigation takes as many turns as one of the building's hallways. >> i never had a case this complicated before. >> when "dateline" continues. (clapping) every day, visionaries are creating the future. ( ♪ ) so, every day, we put our latest technology and vast expertise to work. ( ♪ ) the united states postal service makes more e-commerce deliveries to homes than anyone else in the country, affordably and on-time. (ringing) ( ♪ ) the future only happens with people who really know how to deliver it. why go with anybody else? we know their rates are good, we know that they're always going to take care of us.
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it was almost a month after the murder of ken dolezsar. his friends still coming to terms with it. >> and i just think, what if, all the fun we could have had if he hadn't been taken. >> reporter: until now, the investigation seemed to be going nowhere. then as detective carriger was about to leave novak's apartment in the downtown loft building, he showed novak the surveillance photo from the cell phone store. >> he looked at it and said, that's chris wright. he's my neighbor. he lives two floors below. >> reporter: chris wright, his good friend and husband of the irrepressible bianca. >> this is definitely somebody we want to talk to. >> reporter: carriger arrived unannounced at chris wright's office and almost before he could ask a question, chris launched into a story about ken dolezsar. claimed the man was so paranoid he wanted chris to buy a prepaid cell phone so they could communicate in complete privacy. to detective carriger the story
seemed a little too ready or rehearsed. >> almost as if he was trying to account for things we knew. >> reporter: i see. odd. then as the interview went on, he said, chris' voice began to sound familiar. the voice mail that police believed help lure ken to his death. >> hey, ken, this is robert. >> reporter: to me, that was chris' voice on that phone. >> reporter: the detectives pulled out a search warrant. bianca was home when the police arrived. >> it's surreal. you have -- they're like roving gangs of toddlers who are ripping everything apart. they took the sofa upside down, and took out the lining. they took apart my toaster. they take everything apart. >> reporter: a ballistics report told police the murder weapon was a 9 millimeter handgun. chris was an avid collector of guns and among them police found an empty case for a springfield handgun and what do you know, the gun that went with it was missing.
chris wright was arrested and charged with the murder of ken dolezsar. >> it was a matter of disbelief. he was being taken out of the blue and for no reason. >> reporter: the loving husband who cried his way through romantic comedies, a cold blooded assassin? impossible. it quite literally wasn't possible, said bianca, for chris to have killed ken dolezsar that morning. he had an alibi. >> he was in the loft. i was there. >> reporter: he was at home, in bed, with her. >> he was a foot from me. there's no room for doubt. >> reporter: this surely had to be a colossal misunderstanding. bianca sought support from her neighbors including david novak, her only friend with intimate knowledge of the legal system. he comforted you? >> he was brilliant, yeah. he would ask me how everything was going and what was happening with christopher and whether our attorneys were doing the job they were supposed to. >> reporter: she told him
everything, she said. and he assured her the mistake would soon be rectified. she believed him. >> i didn't want to be married to a murderer. i would not fool myself if there was a second's doubt in my mind he did not do this. >> reporter: but some of their friends in the loft weren't so sure. >> i started to feel sorry for her thinking, oh, my gosh, she poor, naive girl. you're going to be crushed by this. >> reporter: at the sandy, utah, justice center, the case that police turned over to josh player, the then assistant district attorney, seemed clear. >> the evidence was exceptionally strong in this case. it all kept pointing in the direction of mr. wright. >> reporter: there was the surveillance photo, the voice message which was placed from a spot near the loft according to cell tower tracking and the eyewitness. he'd been shown a photo lineup with chris in it and now he remembered some details a little differently than he had that first traumatic day. like chris' blue eyes in the
photo, he said, jarred something in his mind. >> i was 80 to 90% certain that this was the man that i saw. >> reporter: then he found a picture of chris on the web and tried photo shopping in a few details, like the wig. >> i looked at that and said that looks almost like what i saw. >> reporter: reinforcing a memory, but was the memory accurate? as for the rest of the case, the investigation wasn't over yet. the story just begun. the first puzzle pieces placed where they seemed to fit. but -- >> i never had a case this complicated before. >> reporter: oh, even more than complicated, as those friends in the loft began to believe. something darker than that. "dateline" returns after the break.
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hour's top stories. president trump says he's holding off on declaring a national emergency for getting the money for the border wall, saying he would prefer to make a deal with congress. a snowstorm is being blamed for five road deaths in the midwest. the storm is now moving into the mid-atlantic region. now paback to "dateline." r. now paback to "dateline. welcome back to "dateline ." i'm craig melvin. chris wright was under arrest, charged with the murder of his business associate ken dolezsar. the investigation would reveal a damming new discovery, evidence linking chris directly to the crime scene. but for his friends and family, the pieces of this complex puzzle just didn't fit. was it possible chris had been set up to take the fall for a crime he didn't commit?
once again, here's keith morrison with "suspicion." strange times around the loft building in downtown salt lake. so shocking that one of their own chris wright had been arrested and charged with killing wealthy businessman ken dolezsar. >> all the evidence that we obtained led up to chris wright being the triggerman. >> reporter: in the suv ken drove to his fatal morning meeting, for example. the killer used that vehicle to flee the scene. and when the cops found it and scoured the interior, they got a hit. chris' dna. >> we had a dna result from the inside door handle of the suv. >> reporter: it was a tiny sample, not a perfect one, but it seemed to put chris in ken dolezsar's car driver's side which certainly helped the case. but it wasn't quite air tight, not yet. the murder weapon had not been found. yet they found an empty gun case in chris and bianca's apartment, but nothing to connect the case to the murder.
and just about then -- >> the sergeant for the district attorney's office just happened to call me and ask, hey, did you ever look in that gun case? was there shell casing or anything in that gun case? >> reporter: turns out the gun's manufacturer includes a test-fired shell casing with each gun it sells. so the detective went to the evidence locker, he said, retrieved the gun case. >> looked inside and there was a casing. >> reporter: big moment. >> big moment. >> reporter: big moment because when ballistics tested that shell casing -- >> it was a match. that shell casing was fired from the same gun as the shell casings recovered at the scene where ken dolezsar was killed. >> reporter: chris wright's missing gun must have been the murder weapon. now the case looked very strong
indeed. though chris' wife bianca certainly didn't think so. >> i know for certain, categorically, that christopher didn't do it. >> reporter: in fact the police and prosecutor had it all wrong, he insisted. it wasn't just that chris had an alibi for the morning of the murder, she said the whole case, it was all wrong. chris' dna in the car, of course it was there. chris admitted he'd been in the car, but weeks before the murder. but get this, the steering wheel especially and all of the car was covered with dna and fingerprints that did not match chris. nor did bianca buy lee carlson's story. >> he said that the guy had an eastern european accent. christopher is american born and bred. he said that he'd only seen a glimpse of his face. >> reporter: in fact, said bianca, the eyewitness account more properly eliminated chris as a suspect. all agreed, remember, that ken and his killer arrived together
at the crime scene in the same car. but think about it, said bianca. >> i just looked at him going. >> reporter: would chris wear a wig to a meeting with someone that already knew him, had met him, particularly someone as cautious as ken. >> you have a deeply paranoid man ken dolezsar who is doing business with christopher and has met him. you don't think if christopher got into the car all wigged up that he would think that that was slightly strange? >> reporter: and if the eyewitness was right, the killer shot with his right hand. >> christopher is staggeringly left-handed. >> reporter: staggeringly left-handed. then there was the business of eye color. now, long after the event, the eyewitness was saying the killer had brilliant blue eyes but right after the murder -- >> i can't tell eye color but his eyes seemed more bulgy. >> he just got more and more refined in each interview with the police. >> reporter: brilliant blue eyes? >> of course you can see brilliant nordic blue eyes from the side.
>> reporter: what about chris' suspiciously missing handgun, the one linked to the crime? bianca says she is certain chris did not use it to kill ken dolezsar that morning. impossible, she said, because he no longer had it. >> that gun i lost back in the summer. >> reporter: i lost? >> yeah. >> reporter: you just lost a gun? >> i have a horrible habit of losing stuff. >> reporter: before chris ever met ken dolezsar, she took some visiting british friends on a shooting excursion to the great salt lake. they finished at sunset. >> and i put down this little gun, this springfield on the ground right next to the bag, and i went to help somebody with something else. >> reporter: then she got distracted she said, packed up the rest of the gear, went home. and neither she nor chris ever saw that gun again. bianca's proof the gun was missing? this video made just over a day later by her british visitors
who wanted to document their uniquely american experience. and their video, there is no sign of a springfield armory 9 millimeter. >> i lost stuff constantly. it was a bone of contention between christopher and i. >> reporter: while the prosecution scoffed at bianca's lost gun story, her loft friends did not. >> if you knew sweet bianca, she accidentally threw her gorgeous wedding ring away. we had to dig it out of the garbage. i was standing there. she can be an absent-minded dingbat. >> reporter: but remember the day police searched the loft? >> they took apart my toaster. >> reporter: she was focused like a laser that day, said bianca, watching intently, she said, as an officer looked in the empty 9 millimeter gun case. >> i was sitting beside her. >> reporter: no test fired shell casing, she said. >> i don't mean to sound cynical, but i know it wasn't there. >> reporter: only possible conclusion, said bianca, it was
her accusation, the sandy police must have planted the shell casing in order to link chris' missing gun to the crime scene. you think it would be hard for people to accept the idea that this detective would do something as unethical as plant evidence. >> it was not there. i know that. >> reporter: the sandy police department categorically denied the accusation. but as those loft friends heard more of chris wright's side of the story from bianca, they became convinced he was innocent. >> there were so many parts of the puzzle that were not adding up. >> reporter: unless, they reasoned, unless someone they knew very well wanted chris to take the fall. the dark suspicion wafted through the corridors of that old chocolate factory. perhaps police, they said, arrested the wrong neighbor. >> he had the perfect patsy in christopher.
>> the neighbors start comparing notes and realize someone in their circle was not who he seemed. coming up -- >> we were astounded. i remember saying to him, what? >> when "dateline" continues. ro, white, outer layer of your tooth surface. the thing that's really important to dentists is to make sure that that enamel stays strong and resilient for a lifetime. the more that we can strengthen and re-harden that tooth surface, the whiter their patients' teeth are going to be. dentists are going to really want to recommend pronamel strong and bright. it helps to strengthen and re-harden the enamel. it also has stain lifting action. it's going to give their patients the protection that they need & the whiter teeth that they want. but when i started seeing things, i didn't know what was happening... so i kept it in. he started believing things that weren't true. i knew something was wrong... but i didn't say a word.
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took root and grew around the story of the murder of ken dolezsar. it was planted just weeks after chris was arrested. loft residents dave and lisa mccammon were having dinner with their best friends the novaks. >> he announced we're moving. and we were astounded. i remember saying to him, what? you've put all this money into your loft, you've got all this investment here. why are you leaving? he said it's just time to go. >> reporter: he claimed to be their great friend, sociable, gregarious, larger than life. then said neighbors once chris was arrested, he seemed nervous and now he was gone. and so they wondered, was david novak running from something? the loft friends began re-examining all the stories david told them over the years, particularly about his criminal past. >> we started comparing notes and stories and wow, david told me a different version of that. >> reporter: they'd been lying, to put it rather bluntly.
>> certainly not full truths. >> reporter: the brief prison term for mail fraud, it turned out there was more to that story, a lot more. novak confessed to a con that played out like a cinematic thriller. he used a private flying club to run an insurance scam. then as it caught up with him, he attempted to escape by faking his own death. ditched his airplane in puget sound. >> he faked his death in order to avoid insurance audit. that was not a crime of passion. that was a crime of calculation. >> reporter: or so the loft friends believed. and if that was true, what might he have done here in salt lake? their suspicion only grew when the friends found out novak left town without mentioning it was he who fingered chris in that surveillance photo. did he ever tell you that i identified christopher? >> no, no. >> reporter: that prepaid cell phone was the very clue that led
police to chris. a phone which chris bought, said bianca, after novak assured him -- >> novak said that this guy routinely used these throwaway phones. >> reporter: what more, said bianca, chris could not have left that voice mail, because by the time of the murder, she says, he had given the phone away. >> he gave it to novak. >> reporter: and novak gave it to dolezsar. >> yes, yes. as far as we know. but novak, so we don't know anything. >> reporter: but now a theory about motive drifted from loft to loft. hadn't novak borrowed almost 2 million from ken? the friends said they watched him spend lavishly on high living and never saw evidence of that movie the loan was supposed to pay for. but really, was their old friend capable of orchestrating murder and pinning it on chris? >> there's one person that bragged about knowing russian mafia. >> how hard would it be to find
somebody that looked like chris? and he introduced chris from the very beginning with that in mind of setting chris up. >> i know it sounds like a really dumb movie, but if you had ever met novak, the man has a byzantine mind. >> reporter: she recalls all those supportive chats she had with novak after chris' arrest. >> turned out he was probably fishing for information. >> reporter: it reminded friend john fife of a conversation with novak one night after they dined together. john posed a question. he said, mostly in jest, of course, just hypothetical -- >> i said, david, have you ever contemplated committing the perfect murder? and he said yes. the key element to that is making sure that someone is caught and charged for the crime. once they have somebody, they'll stop looking, and that's how you can really get away. >> reporter: and now novak had taken off.
and even though their questions didn't amount to hard evidence, of course, chris' defense attorneys wondered as they prepared for the trial, why the police had so readily dismissed novak as a suspect. dismissed him and a few other puzzling discoveries, like the one about ken's widow dee. remember, she was in prison at the time of his murder. when she first talked to police, she told them she had no idea her husband had a meeting the morning of his murder. no clue who he was meeting with. turns out, she was not telling the truth. >> hello? >> you have a call from an inmate. >> hello? >> hi, honey. >> reporter: it's standard procedure for prisons to record inmate's phone calls. this is ken talking to his wife dee, night before his murder. >> i'm actually meeting with my friend tomorrow at 7:00 a.m., go figure that out. >> oh, i love it. >> yeah, exactly. so tomorrow morning 7:00 a.m. so tomorrow night i should know more.
>> reporter: police confronted dee in prison. recorded the interview. in it she claimed the stress of losing her husband caused her to forget about that phone call. and then she dropped a bomb shell. she said she knew who the friend was ken was supposed to meet, and it wasn't chris wright. she never heard of him before. >> david novak. that's who i believe he was meeting. >> reporter: chris' defenders wanted to know why the police didn't seem to follow up on that or probe more deeply into all that tension of dee mowers' family. odd, all of it. the feeling to them that something was missing, that the case against chris simply didn't hold together. so as chris' trial finally got under way, bianca felt her husband was as good as home. >> it was just like brilliant, you know? they go away, they do their thing and they come back and i get my husband back. coming up -- chris wright makes his case to
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chris' defense did more than challenge the evidence. it made a provocative claim, that chris wright was the victim of a conspiracy, a conspiracy hatched right here in the loft by former neighbor david novak to protect the real killer by setting up chris to take the fall, a conspiracy the prosecution brushed off as nonsense. >> you would have to believe, for it not to be chris wright, that it was somebody that looked like chris wright, sounded like chris wright, had the phone bought by chris wright, used the gun bought by chris wright, had chris wright's dna and had a connection to ken dolezsar to find that it wasn't chris wright. >> reporter: but all of that claimed chris' defense the clever novak was quite capable of setting up. >> he could have it nailed from start to finish. >> reporter: like a chess move 20 moves ahead. >> yep. >> reporter: but that didn't
explain the good samaritan eyewitness that sat in court and pointed his finger at chris wright. >> i'm very certain and clear of what i saw. i may not have told it initially right off the bat under the full stress of what i saw, but i know what i saw and i know who i saw. >> reporter: except there is one person who said he is most certainly sure lee carlson is mistaken. chris wright himself. >> i will answer any question you want to ask. >> reporter: chris was jailed right after his arrest. he wanted to make his case to "dateline" in the flesh, but authorities wouldn't allow it so we talked to him on the phone. so, you say you didn't do it. >> i absolutely did not do it. >> reporter: we discussed all the allegations at length. he offered detailed refutations and some allegations of his own. we're asked to believe that the police were incompetent and definitely crooked, that david novak is crooked, and the only
person who is innocent as the driven snow is you. >> it's not my fingerprints, it doesn't match my description, i had an alibi, i have no motive and there's clearly a person who is pointing the finger at me who got $2 million. >> reporter: this is too cloak and dagger for a jury. >> i understand how difficult it is to believe, but the alternative is that i just simply got up one day and decided to go shoot some poor person in a disguise. >> reporter: chris wanted to talk about that voice mail, the one that helped lure ken to his death, the voice mail detective carriger was sure was left by chris, though no voice analyst ever studied it. >> people who are going to watch your show are going to listen to my voice and they're going to listen to that recording, and i urge them to make their own decision. >> reporter: yeah, let's listen to it right now, all right? >> absolutely. go right ahead. >> reporter: ken, this is robert. talking to dave and he said we'll get to it pretty soon here.
>> reporter: so, that isn't you, huh? >> that is absolutely not me. >> reporter: the jury got the case april 29th, 2010, a jury that certainly heard about but never saw the mysterious david novak. so, did they buy the prosecutor's evidence remember bianca's explanations, her alibi for chris? >> i was concerned because i'd been told that sometimes it can be a crapshoot, was the phrase that was used. >> reporter: the jury deliberated for 11 hours, and the verdict -- guilty. >> i can't even begin to explain. it's like the bottom falls out of your world. and he wouldn't let me hug him. you know. sorry. just give me a sec. >> reporter: that's all right. take your time. >> crying is not acceptable.
>> reporter: and why is that? >> because i'm english. >> reporter: but for ken's friends, at least matt beaudry, the verdict was vindication. >> he looks like a smug killer. and a jury of his peers listened to all the evidence and with that weighty choice decided that he was. i'm satisfied with that. >> reporter: chris wright were sentenced to 15 years to life. he's filed an appeal, requesting a new trial. and david novak has not been charged with or accused by the police of anything, though whether or not authorities want to talk to him is less clear. do you know where he is? >> i don't know where he is, no. >> reporter: are your people trying to track him down? >> well, part of the rules that i'm constrained by is i don't speak about ongoing investigations or the existence of ongoing investigations.
>> reporter: but if law enforcement was mum about kevin novak, ken dolezsar's widow is not. out of prison since 2008, dee mower has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against novak. a suit that alleges a third theory that novak paid chris wright $25,000 to kill ken dolezsar. novak didn't answer the suit, nor attend the proceeding. so in 2011, it was breach of contract and she was granted $11,000. in march of 2012, it was a motion to dismiss the conspiracy claims so a final judgment could be entered in the case. back in the loft, some imagined the worst about their former friend and neighbor. what would you advise him to do if you could talk to him? >> talk to you guys, tell the story. >> if you have nothing to hide. >> refute me. tell me why what i'm saying is not correct. we used to be friends.
i'm more than willing to hear what you have to say, david. >> reporter: so where is he? turned out david novak wasn't so hard to find after all. in fact, here he is near his last known post-loft address, an upscale neighborhood in a certain northwestern city. didn't look like a man on the run, just a man getting a coffee with his wife at starbucks, of course. he just isn't answering calls or e-mails from his former loft friends, and he didn't want to talk to "dateline," telling us over the phone he was not involved in ken's murder, has been cleared by the police, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar and liable to be sued. bring it on, he said. so is chris wright a liar? bianca an unwitting or perhaps willing accomplice? some people are surprised that you stayed because you could go. >> i wouldn't leave a dog in
christopher's situation. and i will work until my dying day to make sure his name is cleared, you know. >> reporter: wait for him as long as you have to? >> yep. no problem. >> reporter: and out in suburban sandy, utah, the case still resonates around the shiny new courthouse, where a.d.a. josh player struggled with his emotions a bit, as he told us he is sure he did not send an innocent man to prison, but rather, achieved justice for everyone. >> i was glad for the family of the victim. >> reporter: you take this stuff to heart, don't you? >> i do. i do. >> reporter: and while they stand on opposite sides of that chasm between innocence and guilt, there's no dispute about the man whose life was lost. ken dolezsar was a man who loved a woman, just as chris loved
bianca, who loved hockey, loved helping kids and tried to do right by all that money, which is mostly still around, though he is not. that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. good morning, everyone, from msnbc world headquarters here in new york. it is 7:00 a.m. here in the east, 4:00 a.m. out west. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." what did they talk about? new questions being raised about the president's conversations with vladimir putin and why there are so few details about them. >> i had a conversation like every president does. you sit with the president of various countries. i do it with all countries. it was a great conversation. i'm not keeping anything under ap