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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  November 13, 2021 2:00am-3:00am PST

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and he loved them both, up here in their place of paradise under trapper peak. still does. regardless of the horror he carries around in that box. i'm craig melvin. >> i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." i see her laying there, my dad is kneeling. that was the first time i had ever seen him cry. >> they had a tumultuous marriage. >> there would be yelling and maybe slamming doors. >> according to him, he sees lisa with a gunshot wound to the head. it is initially ruled a suicide. >> her sister went to the missouri state highway patrol to express their belief that this,
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in fact, was a murder. >> she had been having an affair with her boss. >> the prosecutor says, after he shot his wife, he washed his hands and washed his forearms. >> they called us back at noon and started the trial. >> i thought they made one of the worst mistakes i had ever heard of. >> it was obvious there was something that just wasn't right. >> the only thing i've ever wanted was for everyone to hear the truth. i told him that i would fight with everything i had in me. that's the promise i made, too. ♪♪ hello and welcome to "dateline." for many, the holiday season is a special time, but for the jennings family, one christmas eve turned into a waking nightmare. there was an argument followed
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by a gunshot, then a frantic call to police. lisa jennings was dead. the question for detectives was, did she take her own life or was this murder? here is keith morrison with "a crack in everything." ♪♪ it was his secret that started it, a secret gift. it was christmas eve in the year 2006. a little farm not far from a little town called buffalo. buffalo, missouri. and on that farm in the fine, new house brad and lisa jennings had built for their family, the stockings were hung, the children were snug in their beds, and lisa was sitting up very late, drinking wine and crying. meaning? well, who knew. but for one thing, with lisa in
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the way, brad couldn't sneak that secret of his into her stocking, which is what started it, the flaring argument, the slamming doors, the sudden silence. before amanda woke up to the sound of her dad on 911. >> and he's very hysterical, you know. he's -- he's crying, can't really say anything other than get here quick, get here quick. i heard that two or three times. >> such a complicated tale with its secrets and lies and shifting loyalties, and here, of all places, this throwback to an idealized past. >> we hunted mushrooms, we picked up walnuts. >> they were inseparable children, brad and his older sister marsha. >> he was my playmate. we depended on each other. >> marsha became a nurse. brad ran the farm. the center of their family since 1853. that christmas 2006 brad and lisa had been married 18 mostly
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happy years. >> we had a fairly good life. >> there were three kids. amanda, 16 that christmas eve. dallas, who was 11 then. laci, lisa's daughter from a first marriage, was 19 and had just moved into her own place in town and, as amanda said, life was fairly good. >> we would do lots of things. go on vacation a lot. go out and eat. my dad made pretty good money so we were good on that end. >> seemed like a very good and stable environment. >> brad loved cars, especially classic muscle cars, and extra especially the 1970 chevelle super sport he so carefully restored. >> by the time he was 12, he was redoing motors and helping put motors in and out of different vehicles. >> so brad opened a used car dealership. >> he was a great people person. i guess that's what you have to be when you deal with cars and
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stuff. >> and their mom, lisa? >> very pretty. she could be really happy and like a -- sort of like the life of the party kind of person. >> yeah, really fun. >> while brad ran the farm and his car business, lisa worked at a local internet company. >> she was really good at it. >> and she became, like, their top employee. >> at home lisa was the mom who actually liked video games, with dallas mostly. video games and movies. >> we had a big projector screen that we would put on the wall and like watch movies really big. >> did it seem like a happy household overall? >> yeah. >> but, of course, there is, as leonard cohen used to sing, "a crack in everything," and in the jennings' house those were the sudden blowups when the mood went dark and the kids scattered. >> they would fight maybe once every couple of weeks or something. mostly later in the evening, at
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night after they had been drinking, there would be yelling and maybe slamming doors, things like that, but just arguing about anything, nothing. >> i never really thought too much about it. >> anyway, now it was that calamitous christmas eve 2006. there had been a dinner with brad's side of the family. >> christmas eve we would go to my grandma's there in town. >> and then back home, games and stocking stuffing and, of course -- >> i wake up real early and open all of the presents. >> lisa had no idea that brad had bought her a $3,500 diamond ring, got the kids to help him pick it out. back from grandma's he waited for his chance to hide it in her stocking, but lisa kept fiddling on the computer and the kids were playing a board game. >> i think it was monopoly. >> we just played downstairs for a while and then eventually went up to our rooms.
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>> it was well after midnight when they heard the raised voices downstairs. >> i heard, you know, the yelling and everything, a normal fight like they would always have. >> and then a door slammed, which meant that brad had gone out to his workshop to cool down, but laci, home for the holiday, was furious. another fight and this one on christmas eve no less and as usual over some stupid little thing? she was done. >> and so my sister decided to go downstairs and get into it with her. i think one of the last things i remember my mom even saying was something like, i would never disrespect my parents that way. >> laci was just fed up, was she? >> yes, she just couldn't believe they would fight on christmas. >> then more door slamming and laci was out of there. >> she went back to her house in buffalo. >> so by the time she left, your dad was outside in the workshop, although you didn't really know where he was, right? >> well, he was outside. he does that a lot. he will go outside and go out to
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the shop. >> so amanda sighed and closed her eyes and drifted off. and then sometime after 1:30 a.m., that loud, frantic sound, her father on 911. she ran downstairs to her parents' bedroom. >> i opened the door and, you know, i see her laying there and my dad is kneeling next to her, and as soon as i had opened the door, he gets up and kind of pulls me out of the room and he's hugging me and crying. >> their mother was dead. of that there was no doubt. but how and why and who? coming up -- what had happened in that bedroom? >> i didn't realize the gravity of it. i thought there had been an accident, and she was on the way to the hospital. >> the truth would be much worse. >> did you have any inkling, any
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suspicion, that brad might have had something to do with this? >> when "dateline" continues. ins . whether it's a year old or a few years old. we wanna buy your car. so go to carvana and enter your license plate answer a few questions. and our techno wizardry calculates your car's value and gives you a real offer in seconds. when you're ready, we'll come to you, pay you on the spot and pick up your car, that's it. so ditch the old way of selling your car, and say hello to the new way at carvana. [swords clashing] - had enough? - no... arthritis. here. new aspercreme arthritis. full prescription-strength? reduces inflammation? thank the gods. don't thank them too soon. kick pain in the aspercreme. don't thank them too soon. it only takes a second for an everyday item to become dangerous. tide pods child-guard pack helps keep your laundry pacs in a safe place and your child safer. to close, twist until it clicks.
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♪♪ dallas jennings was only 11 that awful christmas morning in 2006, the morning he lost his mother, and it is probably a blessing that something in his brain has blocked the memory. >> a lot of it is a blur to me. >> amanda, 16 at the time, remembers every dreadful detail.
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>> just shock. obviously very upset, but didn't know what to do, you know. >> yeah. >> it was very hard. >> and the ambulance arrived and the policemen. >> they all arrived and we had to leave the house so they could do all their work. so we went outside and waited in my truck because it was cold out. >> just huddled together in there? did you talk much? >> just shock and mostly silence. i remember dallas kept saying, she's going to be okay. he didn't really know what had happened because he didn't see her or nothing, and no one was really saying what happened, and my dad was just sitting over in the passenger seat, just a mess, and that was the first time i had ever seen him cry. >> news of this sort spreads very fast, but often in confused or incomplete or fuzzy bits. so when brad's sister marsha heard something happened at the farm -- >> i didn't realize the gravity
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of it. i thought there had been an accident, and she was on the way to the hospital. >> it was anything but an accident. lisa was gone, dead at 39, killed by a bullet at close range to the head. brad told local sheriff's deputies how he argued with lisa, then went out to his workshop to cool off, and when he came back in maybe 20 minutes later, he found her on the bedroom floor, his handgun nearby. so deputies tested lisa's hands for gunshot residue. they did the same with brad and laci. that to tell them who fired the gun and -- lisa's right hand tested positive for gunshot residue. brad and laci came out negative, meaning, it seemed to the coroner, that lisa, for reasons unknown, must have killed herself. did it make sense to you that she would commit suicide? >> nothing made sense to me that night. >> yeah, i bet.
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>> i had heard statements, you know, that she was troubled about reaching 40. she had had cosmetic surgery. could be a red flag. >> brad and lisa's brother-in-law, paul bryan, was stricken. what did they miss? >> all of the kids loved aunt lisa. she was just fun. >> lisa had seemed so together. she loved family events, loved having kids around. >> there was never a time that lisa did not want the kids to spend the night or to stay, and she might end up with five or six different children that -- >> under her roof? >> -- spent the night. >> it was fine with her? >> yeah, she loved it. >> now this accommodating, fun-loving woman was dead. it was all very shocking. >> and it is not like you've had a long illness or something to get prepared. this was just sudden and -- >> yeah. the idea that she would commit suicide so abruptly and violently like that?
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>> that wasn't something that would be expected, no. >> but, of course, the alternative was really quite unthinkable. >> did you have any inkling, any suspicion, that brad might have had something to do with this? >> i had none. brad called me on christmas morning, and you could tell he was still terribly distraught. so that morning i came over, and he told me the whole story and, no, it never crossed my mind. >> in fact, after all of the lab test results were in, the dallas county sheriff and coroner and prosecutor all officially ruled lisa's death suicide. the local newspaper, "the buffalo reflex" quoted the prosecutor who said, there is zero evidence to show otherwise. so you had no sense anyway, no reason to think it was anything other than what the coroner and the sheriff said it was? >> absolutely not.
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>> but there were others in the family, and they were not so sure. >> it starts with suspicion. lisa's sister feels compelled to share what she knows. coming up -- >> she went to the missouri state highway patrol to express their belief that this, in fact, was a murder. >> and the investigator's prime suspect? brad jennings. >> he started asking me questions about brad, and he goes, what did jennings say to you about his wife having an affair? >> when "dateline" continues. forty percent of people with type 2 diabetes will develop chronic kidney disease, or ckd. did you know ckd can lead to kidney failure and dialysis? kidney alert! ckd often has no symptoms until it's too late! help protect your kidneys. call your doctor for a uacr test. it shows one of the earliest signs for ckd.
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♪♪ it is a sweet little piece of america, buffalo, missouri. population 3,000 or so, where people tend to know each other's business, and where brad could have a best friend he met when they were both in diapers. so, of course, dale potter rushed over to see brad that very christmas morning. >> he just kept saying, why, dale, why did she do this? he was a mess. >> all of those guns you see in the background there? dale owns buffalo's only gun and pawn shop. so when lisa's death was declared to be suicide and the sheriff returned brad's gun, the one that killed her, brad called dale. >> he said, i don't really want
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the gun back. >> i can't imagine why he would. >> he said, do you want it? i said, yeah, i do. i cleaned it up. i just put it in the safe and forgot about it. >> and the family tried to move on and didn't pay much attention when laci began saying odd things. >> you know, when mom was murdered, blah, blah, blah. >> murdered? not that it was anything like an accusation or aggressive or unfriendly. >> she didn't act any different with dad. she still came around. he still helped her. >> but sometimes the smaller your town, the less you know about what your neighbors are saying behind your back. nothing in your face, nothing like that. >> it was way more subtle than that. >> how do you mean? >> probably everyone else was talking about it, but they didn't talk to us about it. >> no, they didn't. but lisa's younger sister, shawn, was talking. >> she saw a rocky marriage, and
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her sister would not be a person who committed suicide. >> this is steve polken, writes a column in "the springfield news leader" called "poking around," which he did, and discovered that lisa's sister shawn got busy soon after the deadly christmas morning. >> in early january she went to the office of the missouri state highway patrol to express their belief that this,fact, was a murder. >> she lucked into a highly-experienced detective named dan nash. >> long time investigator who has been involved in several high-profile murder cases in the ozarks. >> and when sergeant nash took one look at that file, something forensic seemed off. he was inclined to agree with shawn. didn't look like suicide at all. >> he was just struck by the fact that if lisa jennings had shot herself using her right hand, that there would be more blowback from that wound than one drop of blood. >> three months after that christmas eve, investigator nash drove over to brad's farm. told him he was looking at the case again.
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>> and wanted the bath robe that mr. jennings was wearing that night. >> the robe he had on when he said he found lisa dead and held her in his arms. >> why three months later would a bath robe be of any use at all? surely it had been cleaned or something after this event. >> apparently it had not. >> oh. >> mr. jennings had spent little time going back into that bedroom from -- where, from his perspective, his wife had taken her life. >> so brad gave nash the black bath robe and, sure enough, it still had blood on it. so they ran some tests and kept in touch with brad. >> he was questioned a couple of times. >> then a month later -- this was april now -- the sheriff came to call at dale potter's gun and pawn. >> and he said, "i'm here to seize the jennings' gun." >> then a few weeks after that, a guy in a t-shirt and khakis
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walked in. >> told me he was a sergeant with the missouri state highway patrol and said, "i'm here to investigate the murder of lisa jennings." i said, "what are you talking about, murder? it was in the paper, it was ruled a suicide." and he said, "no, he killed her." >> but that wasn't all. >> then he goes, "what did jennings say to you about his wife having an affair?" i said, "he never said a word to me about his wife having an affair. why, was she?" he said, "yes, and we can prove it." i said, "well, that explains a lot." he said, "you mean why he killed her?" i said, "no, why she did this." i said, "maybe everything caught up with her," you know. >> meaning, thought dale, something about the affair pushed her over the edge. then dale offered the sergeant a little family history. i said, "you do know, don't you, that her dad killed himself." he goes, "you're full of crap." he said, "her dad is alive, and he lives at windyville." i said, "no, you're full of crap. her stepdad lives at windyville.
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her real dad killed himself out in kansas years ago." >> another family suicide? an affair? just where was this investigation going? coming up -- a determined detective. >> he looked at me and told me straight up, "i've never been wrong." >> and a confused friend. >> what did you think? >> i thought they made one of the worst mistakes i had ever heard of. >> when "dateline" continues.
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hello. i'm dara brown. here's what's happening. u.n. clip mat summit in glasgow extended past its time as diplomats and negotiators from nearly 200 nations struggled to agree on a deal for reducing emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change. and a record-breaking 4.4 million americans voluntarily quit their jobs in september, up from the previous record of 4.3
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million set in august. a high number of job openings is forcing some businesses to raise wages to attract workers. now back to "dateline." ♪♪ welcome back to "dateline." i'm craig melvin. lisa jennings had died from a single gunshot to the head, her death ruled a suicide. but the file was now in the hands of sergeant dan nash, and to him, the details were not adding up. he believed lisa had been murdered and that her husband, brad, was the trigger man. now nash was about to pay brad a visit, and the already fractured family would be torn apart. once again, here is keith morrison with "a crack in everything." ♪♪ probably everybody in buffalo, missouri, knew that brad jennings, the apparently grieving husband, was now a murder suspect.
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everybody waiting for something to happen. and in july 2007, seven months after lisa's death, it did. >> got about a mile from his house, and two or three highway patrol sergeants and the sheriff stopped him and arrested him and took him to the county jail. >> what did you think? >> i thought they made one of the worst mistakes i had ever heard of. >> later we were told there were people around that knew it was going to happen. >> people like lisa's sister shawn, who went to the highway patrol in the first place, and lisa's daughter from her first marriage, laci. we asked for interviews. they declined. >> when my dad got arrested, laci and shawn showed up at the house to pick me and dallas up and then my grandma showed up as well to pick us up, and my aunt and my grandma kind of got into it. >> it sounds to me like that is sort of the moment when the family broke apart.
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>> that's when it really blew open. that's when, you know, laci quit coming around and everything just fell apart. >> that evening brad's brother-in-law paul, who was married to lisa's other sister, said he met with the highway patrol sergeant who led the investigation. >> and i asked the one patrol officer if he had ever been wrong, that there was a small part of me that wished or hopes he is correct because if not he's going to ruin a lot of people's lives. he looked at me and told me straight up, "i've never been wrong." >> never been wrong? >> never been wrong. >> was this investigator dan nash? >> it was. >> brad posted a million dollar bond and was allowed to remain free until his trial. brad's attorney said the state had no case. >> and every time that i spoke with him, he said it couldn't go to trial. he didn't say it wouldn't. he said it couldn't. >> was still saying that the friday before the trial was to begin in august 2009.
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>> he said, we'll go in there monday morning and we'll see what motions are flying around. >> but by midday monday the jury was picked and the trial began. >> how shocking was that? >> it was very shocking, and we hadn't been there an hour till i was getting sick to my stomach just listening. the prosecution was just running rampant with it. >> that is saying terrible things about brad. >> and i was wanting to jump up and object. >> because to marsha it seemed like brad's attorney, darrell deputy, wasn't objecting at all. >> mr. deputy wouldn't say anything in brad's defense. >> what was it like to be you sitting back there watching that? >> it was the most miserable time of my life, and i didn't know what i could do. i wanted to stop it, and i didn't know how, and mr. deputy
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would say, it's all going to come together here and don't worry about it. >> maybe the attorney was thinking of the gunshot residue or gsr. remember, they found gsr on lisa's right hand but not on brad's hands, implying that lisa shot herself. the prosecutor had an explanation. >> so the prosecutor says it is a logical inference from the facts of the case that mr. jennings, after he shot his wife, before he called 911, he washed his hands and washed his forearms. >> and blood evidence? investigator nash was the expert the state put up, and he said that in his expert opinion the way the spatter hit the wall and brad's black bath robe and lisa's hand, it left no doubt that brad fired the fatal shot. but why would he do such a thing? an age-old reason, said the prosecutor, lisa wanted out. >> the prosecution at trial wanted to show that she was intent on leaving him, and she
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had an application at an apartment complex where laci had lived. >> lisa wouldn't end her life, said the state, because she was busy improving it. she had bought nice clothes, had recently had cosmetic surgery. >> the state presented witnesses that said she was in good spirits and it is unlikely that someone who has cosmetic surgery and is feeling good about themselves would take their lives. >> the defense didn't mention that lisa's father committed suicide or that she, herself, attempted suicide back in high school. no secret in town back then. and nobody brought up the rumor that lisa was having an affair. but one curious thing did come up. the defense attorney in his closing argument made a rather fascinating point about the bath robe brad was wearing when lisa was shot. >> the defense attorney in his closing argument said, they had that thing for two years.
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i don't know why they didn't test it for gunshot residue, but they didn't. so we could wrap this up in a heartbeat whether he did it or not if they had tested that. >> now, that was interesting and a very good point. after all, if they found residue on the bathrobe, it would certainly point right at brad. but the moment passed. the case went to the jury. and two hours and 24 minutes later, they found brad guilty of murder. and where else would this happen? they let him go home one last night before the sentencing began the following day. >> the next morning he asked me to drive him back, and i think that's one of the most difficult things i have ever had to do. >> did you want to just say, "let's go somewhere else, brad, let's just drive to mexico or something?" >> no, that's not who we are.
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and i told him that i would fight with everything i had in me to correct it. >> but what could one lone woman do? no legal training, no contacts, no pull. what indeed. coming up -- a search for the truth. >> it was obvious there was something that just wasn't right. >> and missing evidence. >> i took the photo, i texted it to dwight and just said, jackpot. >> when "dateline" continues. you have always loved vicks vapors. and now you'll really love new vicks' vapostick. it goes on clear and dries quickly. no mess. just the soothing vicks' vapor for the whole family.
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wife, lisa, he dutifully returned to court for sentencing. he got 25 years, and they led him away on a day that would have been otherwise auspicious. >> that was my first day of high school. >> did either of you ever think maybe he did kill her? >> not even once. >> if you know him, even like at all, he's just not that kind of a person. >> true, said brad's big sister marsha, so she decided she had to do everything she could to help him. it wasn't easy. >> because he had two kids who needed to be cared for, he had payments that had to be made on the house and the farm and the cars. he had a business that had to be wrapped up, and he had this huge problem of having been convicted of a crime you didn't think he committed. so what does a person do in a situation like that? >> i had no idea. i didn't even know where to
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start. >> but she knew she needed a better income, so she found a job that paid more but required constant travel. >> come home on thursday night and leave sunday. >> and in the time you were home you would wash your clothes, say hi to the kids, go into the prison, see brad, and get back on the plane again. >> yeah. >> the first appeal claimed brad had inadequate representation at trial. >> i thought that was a no-brainer. >> but it failed. appeals court didn't agree, and brad's trial lawyer, darrell deputy, said he served brad well. anyway, marsha hired more attorneys, but -- >> i couldn't get them to talk to me. i couldn't get them to answer a question. i couldn't get them to call me back. >> did they send you a bill? >> absolutely. i've got lots of bills. >> this went on for months,
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years. she heard about a private investigator named dwight mcneil, but her then-attorney told her, "don't call him." >> so i sat on it for a little bit, and i was having a really bad day, and i called. and dwight picked up the phone. and i just started crying because it had been so long since anyone i had called answered me. >> and he did listen, but -- >> i told her i wouldn't look at the case. >> dwight was a former sheriff. he told her his job was catching bad guys, not getting them out of prison. but marsha persisted, and so he agreed to see her in person. >> i explained to her that if i concluded from my review of the file that there was any basis at all to believe that mr. jennings had murdered his wife, that i
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would use whatever influence and whatever pressure i could to make sure he stayed in prison the rest of his life. >> you could accept a deal like that? >> yes, absolutely. >> so dwight scanned the file, just a quick look, and this was strange. >> it was obvious there was something that just wasn't right. >> remember what the trial attorney said about the black bath robe, too bad they didn't test it for gsr, gunshot residue? dwight, with his years in law enforcement, lit up when he saw that. they must have tested the robe. >> it should have been tested for gsr all the way up the right sleeve. >> sure. if he fired the gun, there would have been gsr on the robe. >> no such report existed for the testing of that sleeve of that robe in the file. >> didn't make sense. dwight began working with lawyer lindsey phoenix, who requested copies of all of the lab reports from the highway patrol's crime lab. >> i got a lovely letter from
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them saying, here you go, here is everything that we have, and it included every test except the one i was looking for. >> but it had to be there. so lindsey went in person to the state highway patrol. >> i said, i want to examine every piece of evidence that you have, and i brought a video camera and cellphone camera and i photographed everything, trying to be inconspicuous. i didn't want to take a chance of me finding something and it disappearing. >> and that is when she found them, two small canisters, and inside -- >> the stubs from the gunshot residue tests that were labeled "robe." i took the photo. i texted it to dwight and just said, jackpot. and then i had to go through the rest of those boxes like i was still looking for something else and act like it wasn't a big deal, and i was ecstatic. >> those little stubs confirmed a gsr test had been performed on brad's robe, but where were the results? she asked the highway patrol for them.
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>> and they didn't send them to me. >> so she wrote to them again. >> i said, all right, i know they're there, i have photographs of it, i know they're there, send me the results, and then they sent them. >> and? the tests were conclusive, there was no gunshot residue on brad's black bath robe, just as there wasn't any on his hands on the night lisa died, meaning brad almost certainly did not fire the gun that killed lisa. but why didn't lead investigator dan nash reveal that? well, he said he never received those results. plausible? >> not in a heartbeat. no, i was a prosecutor before this. my spouse is a police officer. dwight is a police officer. we know the care that goes into building a case, and that's not a step that you skip. dan nash had specifically asked for that test to be done. >> so by now dwight was looking carefully at dan nash. he talked to a retired judge.
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>> and he made it very clear that he had a lot of problems with mr. nash's reputation for truth and honesty under oath, and from there we started interviewing former prosecutors, and the number of former court personnel who expressed concerns about his reputation for truth and veracity. >> remember how at the trial nash was presented as a blood spatter expert? he wasn't. in fact, nash had not even taken a basic blood stain analysis class when he investigated lisa's death. he took a 40-hour course the following year, but was still not an expert when he testified at trial. dwight sought out the best in the field. >> i found two of the world's most renowned blood spatter experts. >> he sent the crime scene photos to both of them. >> and they both independently came to the same conclusion.
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>> that dan nash was quite simply dead wrong. one of them wrote, "the blood stain evidence and the presence of gunshot residue on the right hand of lisa jennings are consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound." but as any lawyer will tell you, undoing a jury's guilty verdict is well nigh impossible. so what now? coming up -- a life interrupted. >> he missed out on me turning 16, me getting married. i have a kid now. he missed that. >> wow, wow. >> he missed out on a lot. will brad jennings miss even more? >> i don't promise anything to a client other than i'll give you my best shot. >> when "dateline" continues. shingles doesn't care. i keep my social distance. shingles doesn't care. i stay within my family bubble. shingles doesn't care. because if you've had chicken pox, you're already carrying the virus that causes shingles.
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welcome back. brad jennings was serving 25 years for murdering his wife. but his sister marcia was convinced he had been wrongfully convicted. she hired a team of private investigators who uncovered stunning new evidence, including the elusive gunshot residue case on the bathrobe brad wore the night of the shooting. they knew the odds of overturning the verdict was low but brad's family would stop at nothing to find justice. with a conclusion of "a crack in everything," here is keith morrison. >> dallas jennings felt like a
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cheated young man, his father in prison and neither he nor amanda believed for a minute that he killed their mother. >> he missed out on me turning 16, me driving for the first time, my graduation, me getting married. i have a kid now. he missed that. the birth of his first grandchild. he missed out on a lot. >> but brad's sister marcia was still determined to bring him back to that world he was missing, and with investigators dwight's help, she finally found a father/daughter team of attorneys who seemed to understand the case. and the family. >> these were just salt of the earth, small town country people, and they were stunned at the way the system had worked against brad. >> first, bob and liz ramsey read the trial transcript. the first thing that jumped out at me is i don't recall seeing the defense attorney do so little for his client in my 38 years of practicing law.
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>> oh, come on. not the worst. surely. >> it was certainly one of the worst. >> but what also jumped out was the work of the highway patrol investigator dan nash, confronted about the gunshot residue test that exonerated brad, he said he never saw the report, said it never made it to his desk. >> if that test had been positive, would it have been lost in a fax machine? >> it's just incomprehensible he wouldn't follow up and say, what happened to my gunshot residue test that i ordered? well, he was either grossly next or he suppressed it deliberately. >> no question about it. the issue of the unrevealed gsr test was huge. >> i thought it was a classic brady violation. it's the kind of evidence that makes a difference in a trial.
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>> so they elected to shoot for the moon, their one chance to overturn the jury verdict, a maybous petition, a claim that withheld evidence that could have changed the result of a trial. >> i don't promise anything to a client other than i'll give you my best shot, and all i told him was this gives you a shot. >> such petitions, few ever go anyway and still they filed and waited. and against all odds were granted a hearing. >> we were very excited but cautious. it was almost like this little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. >> this was the hearing. in november, 2017, almost 11
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years after that terrible christmas eve, here, brad's attorneys revealed the gsr results that suggested his innocence, and the expert's blood spatter findings that did the same. and witnesses who questioned the honesty of detective nash. >> i think that his credibility wu put at issue for the entire hearing. >> lawyers for the missouri attorney general's office were there, too, and told the judge that what the defense came up would not have changed the guilty verdict, that the case was so strong. we wanted to hear from the attorney general's office, from sergeant dan nash, and the highway patrol, and all declined our requests. and then months went by, and they all had to wait for the judge, until february 8th, 2018. finally, a ruling. >> my first reaction was to go right to the last paragraph and see what the result was. >> see what the result was. >> and the last sentence of his order is at a minimum, the suppression of the gunshot residue test undermines confidence in that verdict. >> conviction overturned.
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>> it's the first time that we had to have a positive outcome. it was wonderful. >> the next day on the judge's order, brad jennings walked out of prison after eight and a half years, and into the arms of the people who never for a minute gave up on him. >> love you. >> hi, guys. >> it's the kind of stuff you dream about in law school, and i firmly believe that brad is innocent, so to walk him out was one of the greatest honors in my life. i'll never forget that day. >> we had all waited so long for it and wondered if it was ever going to happen, but it was one of the best days of my life. >> it was really awesome to see him walk out, you know, knowing that he was going to come home with us. that was amazing.
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>> that ride home had to be something, huh? >> it was. >> it was weird. it was the first time my dad's ever seen me drive. >> yup. >> i drove him home. >> brad jennings was a man of few words when he met up with us a few weeks later, as if he was still afraid to believe it and let it go. but we talked a bit about that christmas eve and the mystery of what so upset lisa. >> she was crying. that's the only thing i asked her, why she was crying. >> and she didn't tell you? didn't want to? >> didn't want to tell. didn't want to say something. >> it wasn't until years later he said that he learned she had been having an affair with her boss, and that man had just broken it off, meaning she was also out of a job. >> you know, if she had told me she wasn't coming back to work the day before this -- >> he didn't understand it then. but now, maybe that was an answer to his long ago question, why did she end her own life?
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once he might have confronted the other man. now, nothing to be done. >> i don't even worry about that now. that business, that shut -- that closed down now. >> in july 2018, the state attorney general's office announced it would not retry brad. as for the once close family, when we last spoke with them, they remained badly split. his sister shaun and daughter lacy still believed he was guilty, and now -- >> it's like starting over. >> he clings to his sisters, his mom, to those who believe in him, to his ancestral farm, and to his other longtime love, the old chevelle. >> i knew brad was innocent. the only thing i've ever wanted was for finally everyone to hear
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the truth. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline." i'm craig melvin. thank you for watching. first up on msnbc reports, steve bannon indaylighted by the grand jury, now prepared to turn himself in to authorities. the big move and what it could mean for other witnesses. >> this is a big deal. i'm hopeful that it will have a persuasive impact on witnesses to come who are subpoenaed by the committee. ahead of closing arguments in the kyle rittenhouse trial, more attention on the judge in the case and how his behavior could impact what


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