Skip to main content

tv   Dateline  MSNBC  August 7, 2022 11:00pm-1:00am PDT

11:00 pm
appreciative, each and every day even more. because it can cut short. >> even here, this little remnant of paradise. >> that is all for this edition of dateline. i am natalie morales. thank you for watching. u for watching >> michael george fell prey to the two issues most known to common man, sex and murder. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> fun place, a comic book store. but, not that night. >> they said, you can't go through. somebody was killed. >> she was a young wife and mother, minding the store for her husband. was it robbery, revenge, or something else? >> we might want to look at his relationship with this employee named rene. >> a little cozy, check it out. >> yes. >> years past without an arrest, but for one prosecutor, this
11:01 pm
cold case was personal. >> that was the case that was unsolved for my old man, my dad. >> the clues, that lowers triangle, cash, and a bearded lady. >> he said she looked like a woman in a fake beard. if a guy. >> it's a mystery with so many head snapping. it took to trial. >> we waited 18 years for justice. only two have carpet pulled off. to >> uncover the truth. >> we have a verdict. >> but was it the truth? >> he's a person who's done evil things, but that does not make a murderer. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> i looked at him and said, hey, let's go down to the comic book store and help buy. we pulled up at the party, police stopped us. i knew immediately all the crime scene tape was there, and they said, you can't go through. we are investigating a homicide. we are investigating the comic
11:02 pm
book store. >> the comic bookstore was a mom and pop shop in a strip mall outside detroit, out by the register, and to see big guys spidey, hulk and x-men. in the storage space in back was the ugly reality. one of the shop owners -- the woman was on the floor, ominously still. no super-hero had come to her aid, just some customers. regulars. >> most of the time we were there on friday nights. >> it was a friday the 13th a, july 1990, when tom and lenora ward walked into -- >> she knew our names. immediately, when we would walk in, she would light up with a smile. many times, she would actually come around a counter to greet us. >> but not on this summer evening. it was just after 6:00, tom and lenora had picked out a comic, but there was no one behind the counter to take the money, not barb or her husband, michael, the co-owner. it >> wasn't uncommon that
11:03 pm
someone wouldn't be at the cash register, but that was a longer than normal time. so, we thought we would stick around, just to make sure, you know, because we like to. >> some teenage customers were also in the shop browsing, and they too were itchy to pay and go. they were the first ones to peek into the back room and see barb sprawl. >> right out, there's somebody back here. and that time, tom and i rushed to the back storage area, and found barr on the floor. >> we fought thought she perhaps had fallen backwards and hitter had. >> i noticed that she was blue around her mouth. her pupils were dilated and big. and i could not find a pulse. >> lenora happened to be a nurse and took charge. she noticed only a small amount of blood and concluded that barb had suffered a heart attack or a seizure. she told her husband to call 911, while she began administering cpr. >> i had never done cpr on someone that i knew and loved. it was, "please god, let this
11:04 pm
be ok. she's a mother. " >> as the ambulance rushed barb to the hospital, lenora ward felt she'd done her professional best, but she wasn't at all sure her prayers would be answered. >> i knew that she was medically in dire straits. >> the woman rushed into the emergency room that evening was 32-year-old barbara george. she was a little heavy, physically fit, and enthusiastic softball and volleyball player. doctors and nurses began working feverishly to get a pulse, thumping the woman's chest in rapid bursts. one he armors said -- >> if we can give 104 cents per minute to that patient, the better the chance of reviving the heart. >> but after 15 minutes it was all over, a doctor pronounced barb george the mother of two dead. it felt to the nurse to clean up the body for the family to view that's. when she saw. >> when we were straightening up her hair--we noticed some
11:05 pm
blood on the top of her head. i noticed there was a small hole. my first thought as a nurse was there had to be a bullet hole there. >> imagine that, barbara george, the nice lady behind the counter, shot to death. >> she was shot, shot to the head. it wouldn't seem that it would happen to such a person. >> back in the shop, friends and family continue to arrive for what was supposed to be a surprise birthday party that night for michael george. barb's husband. what a pleasant night it should've been, with toasts, the singing of happy birthday, and all the superheroes from his beloved marvel and action comics looking on. all those guests now stumped to find the party turned into a crime scene. and barr, the hostess, that. >> coming up -- would could be too close to solving the mystery? right after the murder, witnesses reported seeing a speeding car. >> we both thought to ourselves, and then, said it to each other,
11:06 pm
where, boy, this car is going too fast. >> and a man waiting outside the comic book shop. >> he had a dark outlet for that time of the year, greek fisherman sky, is how i would describe it. >> when dateline continues. ontinues oh! excuse me! roll it back, everybody!! new charmin ultra soft is now even softer so you'll want more! but it's so absorbent, you can use less. enjoy the go with charmin. -well, i'm not 100% sold yet. -okay, have you considered -- it's fine, flo. she's not interested. i get it. not everyone wants to save money. -what's she doing? -i don't know. renters and homeowners can bundle and save. for what? a trip to bora bora? bora boring. okay, you know what? i'm in. she's all yours. want some tacos? -eh, i'm not really in the mood. -yeah, you're right. so messy, all the napkins, those different toppings. -actually, i'm in. -yeah, you are. nurtec odt is the only medication that can treat my migraine right when it strikes
11:07 pm
and prevent my next attack. don't take if allergic to nurtec. most common side effects, in less than 3%, were nausea, indigestion/stomach pain. treat & prevent - all in one.
11:08 pm
with xfinity internet, you get advanced security were nausea, inthat helps protect you. at home and on the go. you feel so safe, it's as if... i don't know... evander holyfield has your back. i wouldn't click on that. hey, thanks! we got a muffin for ed! all right! you don't need those calories. can we at least split it? nope. advanced security that helps protect your devices in and out of the home. i mean, can i have a bite? only from xfinity. nah. unbeatable internet. made to do anything so you can do anything. at xfinity, we're constantly innovating. and we're working 24/7 to connect you to more of what you love. we're bringing you the nation's largest gig speed network. available to more homes than anyone else. and with xfi complete, get 10x faster upload speeds. tech upgrades for your changing wifi needs.
11:09 pm
and advanced security at home and on the go to block millions of threats. only from us... xfinity. their whole in the wall shop come but -- he collected thousands of comics over the years, and he likes superheroes adventures, way more than he likes selling insurance. so with some help from bob's parents, they took the jump and opened their own shop in a clinton township strip mall in the winter of 1988. joe covina is barbe's brother, he earned a living by removing dense endings from back in 1990 he was the kid brother who looked up to his sister. he admired her on the ball
11:10 pm
field. >> i used to go to her games. i remember going to tournaments with the family. you know, she was your typical older sister. she was always there to help you. >> barb had been raised in a traditional polish catholic family and when she found her man -- michael george -- marriage became the organizing principle of her life. >> was she a happy bride? >> very happy. yeah. she couldn't wait. and when children came along â two girls -- barbara george seemed complete. >> her kids were her pride and joy. i think that was everything to her. >> but as brother joe and his then-girlfriend mary -- now mary shamo -- drove over to the comic shop on that friday the 13th, both of them knew that after nine years, barb and michaelâs marriage had hit more than a rough patch. it was for your house for the weekend, well barb michael to call after the party for a cozy couple of days of the launch. >> that is friday, night is gonna be a romantic weekend. >> we cannot man to be, because
11:11 pm
by the time john mary got to the common bookstore just before 9:00, there is confusion. cup cars. >> we pulled, up and joe pulled up to please stop, and they said you can't go through, we investigating a homicide, somebody was killed. >> i immediately thought mike, because i thought no one hated my sister. absolutely nobody. >> but it wasn't mike. it was his sister, the sister who'd loaned him money when he was short, fought his corner for him, now rendered in a moment victim. and it was up to detective sgt. donald steckman to make sense of the senseless. he'd been the investigator on duty when the hospital called that they'd had a woman come in with a single gunshot to the head. >> so now we had a full-blown homicide. >> you know it's going to be a long night? >> yes. >> as the detective's team scoured the strip mall dumpsters for maybe a tossed weapon, clothing, or something, he turned over the few facts he had so far. a woman with children was gunned-down execution-style in the back of a little comic book store. police interviewed merchants and customers at the mall. had anyone seen anything out of the ordinary? it turned out tom and
11:12 pm
lenora ward did. the couple who'd given barb first aid had picked up on something when they arrived that evening: a speeding car in front of the comic book shop. >> and we both thought to ourselves, and then said it to each other, "boy, that car's going too fast. â >> later they'd wonder if that was the getaway car. immediately, something else caught their eye: a man coming out of the closing shop door. >> had on kind of a dark outfit for that time of the year. greek fisherman's cap is how i would describe it. another man visiting the strip mall would say he saw different suspicious character, someone wearing apparently a fake beard, possibly bearded lady. shop a small, deeper than it was wide. aisles have bins filled with comic books out front by the register, and a door to the back storage room. barbara george had been but found just inside the backroom, along the far back door wasn't
11:13 pm
toward the lead to the alley in the rear. crime scene techs began videotaping the crime scene. >> this is the cash register. >> there were $750 on the cash register, untouched. in a glass case just behind the, till a wall of can likable vintage comics, the good stuff, they hadn't been ransacked. in the storage area, at some bins have been toppled over, but the emts might have done that as a rushed in to assist barb georgia sheila on the floor. more than $400 would be found in her pockets, the jewelry she had worn wasn't taken. later, the medical examiner determined that the shopowner had been shot by above, the bullet entering almost the very top of the skull, indicating she had been crouching. another bullet have been fired first, it missed and went through a swimsuit calendar on the wall, and into the empty shop on the other side of the sheet rock. if it was robber of the comic
11:14 pm
book store, it was an unusual one. -- the husband of the victim had just arrived. >> he identified himself, and we said what's going, and we've said they've been incident, here which i tell you but your wife had been injured. >> injured? >> i told him that... >> not dead? >> we never told him what, we never told him what happened to her. >> he doesn't know what has happened to his wife? >> to our knowledge, he had no idea what was going on. and he never really asked, you know, âis she seriously hurt? â or anything else. and when he started, i said, âwell you need to go over to the hospital because your wife is really seriously injured. " >> at the hospital, michael george was informed that his wife had died of a gunshot wound to the head. a few minutes later, mary and his brother-in-law joe came rushing in. the girlfriend was undone by the awful news. >> iâm blown away. i'm shocked. i wasn't even related to her and i was devastated and i was crying and i was upset. mike never once cried. he was why was she so suspicious of the comic book man? >> coming up.
11:15 pm
>> there wasn't one tear in his eyes, there wasn't a swell in his eye, as there is nothing going on, is all an act. >> an untroubled, husband with a very troubled marriage. >> we did see the bullet, there they're giggling together. you wouldn't think get any kind, world the way they're counting on. >> we started receiving phone calls, might want to look at his relationship with his own plane renee. >> he looked cozy, check it out. >> yes. >> when dateline continues. teline continues we've still got the best moves you've ever seen good for you, but shingles doesn't care. because 1 in 3 people will get shingles, you need protection. but, no matter how healthy you feel, your immune system declines as you age increasing your risk for getting shingles. so, what can protect you? shingrix protects. you can protect yourself from shingles with a vaccine proven to be over 90% effective. shingrix is a vaccine used to prevent shingles in adults 50 years and older.
11:16 pm
shingrix does not protect everyone and is not for those with severe allergic reactions to its ingredients or to a previous dose. an increased risk of guillain-barré syndrome was observed after getting shingrix. fainting can also happen. the most common side effects are pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site, muscle pain, tiredness, headache, shivering, fever, and upset stomach. ask your pharmacist or doctor about shingrix. shingles doesn't care. but you should. flowers are fighters. that's why the alzheimer's association walk to end alzheimer's is full of them. because flowers find a way to break through. just like we will. join the fight at 80% of couples sleep too hot or too cold. because quality sleep is vital, the sleep number 360 smart bed is temperature balancing,
11:17 pm
so you both stay cool. our smart sleepers get 28 minutes more restful sleep per night. >> barbara george had been shot save 50% on the sleep number 360 limited edition smart bed. ends monday.
11:18 pm
11:19 pm
to death in the storage room of a comic book shop she owned with her husband michael. six hours after her murder, michael george had returned from the hospital to show the chief detective, sgt. steckman, around the small store, which was now a crime scene. you noticed too important white boxes were gone. >> and as soon as he walked in the back room, he looked and said there were two cardboard boxes full of very expensive comic books missing. >> so he's saying, "i had some expensive stuff back here. " >> two boxes of comic books. >> and it's gone? >> and they're gone. >> michael george made a list of stolen comics and estimated their value at $12,600. he'd later file an insurance claim for vintage editions of "spiderman, " "green lantern, " and "iron man, " to name just a few. >> so he's talking about robbery is his likely scenario? >> his whole scenario was it had to be robbery. >> at the comic book shop,
11:20 pm
michael george would tell the detective that he had no idea what had happened to his wife. he'd last seen her, he'd said, a little after 4 p. m. when she'd relieved him behind the counter. he said he'd taken the couple's two kids over to his mom's and had remained there, taking a nap on her couch before returning to the store just after 8 p. m. det. steckman asked michael george the questions a cop would when the wife has just been murdered. >> let's get all this up straight. were there any girlfriends? " "no. " "were you having any affairs? " "no. " any problems with your marriage? " "no, everything was fine. " >> at the funeral days later, a girlfriend of barbs weather couldn't make out what he was feeling, because his eyes were concealed behind dark, dark sunglasses. >> like something that a blind person would wear, something you see stevie wonder wear. >> and mary sense that michael was acting strange, even goofy, only increased after a visit to the trailer park home where michael george and barbara had lived. she and joe -- barb's brother -- had gone over to give michael some support during tough days. >> and he comes in and her
11:21 pm
vacuum's sitting there and he grabs the vacuum and he embraces the vacuum and he showed more emotion with this vacuum than he did the whole time. >> what's he saying to the vacuum? >> and he's just saying, "oh, this was barb's vacuum. " and, "oh my god, she's never going to use this vacuum again. " and then he would go to a blender and he's like, "she's never going to be in this kitchen again. " >> are you thinking, "what's up with this guy? " >> and i am looking at him like he was a screwball. here you are, grieving over a vacuum and all these appliances, and there wasn't one tear in his eye. there was no swelling going on in his eyes. he had nothing going on, it was all in the act. >> the police meanwhile were chasing down bank records, and insurance policies, looking for leads on the speeding car, the man in the greek fisherman cap, and whether this could indeed have been a botched robbery, after all. and they were getting a crash course on the value of vintage comics. unhappily for them, the case detectives hadn't found the gun and hoped for forensics like a
11:22 pm
bloody print just weren't there. but the investigators were getting calls on the qt about michael george maybe having a girlfriend. >> when did you learn about a shop assistant named renee? a friend of both him and barb? >> that was two days later. we started receiving phone calls from people advising us that we might want to look at his relationship with his employee named renee. >> a little cozy, check it out. >> yes. >> it was barb george who'd met and befriended renee kotula at their children's school, and brought her to work at the comic book store. renee had five children and needed the money. her floundering marriage had ended in divorce just three weeks before barb's murder. not long after they buried barbara, mary shamo remembers dropping in unexpectedly at the comic book shop along with her boyfriend joe and the pair got a shocker. they saw michael and renee, the shop assistant, canoodling. >> they didn't see us pull up,
11:23 pm
they were really close and they were giggling together, and their arms were crossed over to each other. and when you lose somebody in your life you kind of look around at the world like, "what's going on? why does the world keep moving when i just lost somebody so important. " and here this man is as happy as a clam. you wouldn't think that he had any care in the world, the way he was carrying on with her. >> michael and renee would set up a new home together with the help of a $130,000 life insurance payout on barb that he'd received as beneficiary. >> is he becoming what cops call "a person of interest"? >> yes, at that point he was. at that point he had to be. >> he'd talked to the police casually at the store that night, and then in a more formal interview at the police station six days later. but there would be no follow-ups. according to det. steckman, michael george said he would hire an attorney. lawyer up. >> they'd stopped talking. >> exactly. >> so this is a big unsolved case? >> yes. how much frustration is building within the family? >> what can we do? i mean, you can take the law and your own hands, but what's gonna happen with that?
11:24 pm
>> did you ever talk about it? >> i felt it. there was times i felt, you know, i should do something. but, you know, i'm a catholic. i couldn't live with it. >> in the comics, superheroes are ageless. but the comic book shop in the clinton township strip mall wasn't. it closed its doors in 1992. michael george the shop owner and his new wife rene had moved from town. they had settled something hundred and 75 miles southeast of detroit in, lindberg, population 4000, a little cold mining town. they had open a new shop, comics world. with his new kids and grenades five being raised together in a spacious new home, they found friends, among other parents involved in their case sport team. michael coach brad westover stock daughter in law school.
11:25 pm
he never missed a game. >> it was a family man. respected business person. >> we had electrical supply shop three blocks down from comics world. >> as life was for the kids, and i have to say, as life was for winning. he treated her like goal. >> they endured themselves to a town where families go back generations by raising money for the make a wish chair, and giving comics for the public library. besides his good works, as france said he was just plain fun. >> the guy always had a smile on his face, always joking. everybody enjoyed being around him. >> michael george had all but several times with his murdered wife's family. uncles and aunts back in clinton, michigan, really saw barbara's two girls. >> something or 2000 was michael george even aware that the longtime chief of police and in his former town had passed away. chief robert smith that died without solving the nagging case of the comic book murder. >> everyone in this town was
11:26 pm
aware of this crime, and probably myself more so because my dad was the chief of police at that time. >> chief smith's son, eric smith. >> i have written by that story thousand times, just like by every time we go down there, there was something he said. >> it was still gnawing at him? >> there's no question about it. >> four years after his father's death, he was elected to the prosecutor's job. he became responsible for all the criminal cases in clinton town ship and beyond. >> and i can't tell you how many people came up to me and said that a family member of theirs had been murdered or had been killed and nothing had been done. and you could see the desperation on their face. and they really thought that the system had passed them by. if iâm going to be the chief law-enforcement officer of this county, i can't let people out there think that we don't care. so we started a cold case unit very soon after i came in. >> one of prosecutor smith's first acts in office was to send out a letter to all the police departments in his county asking police chiefs and
11:27 pm
detectives to look at their old unsolveds with "fresh eyes. " >> i did it with michael george in mind. there's no question in my mind that at the time, while i was hoping that we'd get a lot of cases, i was hoping that clinton township would pick this case up. >> and maybe resolve one for the old man? >> that's it. that's it. that was the case that was unsolved for my old man, for my dad. >> just as he'd hoped, the clinton township p. d. re-opened the dusty comic book murder case and what a surprise the detectives found there. how could they have missed it all -- >> coming up -- a phone call to the comic book shop that seemed to come out a very bad time. >> he sounded like he was busy, it wasn't already. >> did he say, you know, busy to people in the shop, i gotta go. >> no, it just kept coming back to mind.
11:28 pm
it was a funnel effect, we started off looking at a lot of things, a lot of people. it just narrowed down to just like a funnel. >> when dateline continues. hen dateline continues ghing] ♪ birds flyin' high, you know how i feel. ♪ ♪ breeze driftin' on by... ♪ if you've been playing down your copd,... ♪ it's a new dawn, it's a new day,... ♪'s time to make a stand. start a new day with trelegy. ♪...and i'm feelin' good. ♪ no once-daily copd medicine... has the power to treat copd in as many ways as trelegy. with three medicines in one inhaler, trelegy helps people breathe easier and improves lung function. it also helps prevent future flare-ups. trelegy won't replace a rescue inhaler for sudden breathing problems. tell your doctor if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure before taking it. do not take trelegy more than prescribed. trelegy may increase your risk of thrush, pneumonia, and osteoporosis. call your doctor if worsened breathing, chest pain, mouth or tongue swelling, problems urinating, vision changes, or eye pain occur. take a stand and start a new day with trelegy.
11:29 pm
ask your doctor about once-daily trelegy, and save at pre-rinsing your dishes? you could be using the wrong detergent. and wasting up to 20 gallons of water. skip the rinse with finish quantum. its activelift technology provides an unbeatable clean on 24 hour dried-on stains. skip the rinse with finish to save our water. oh, marco's pepperoni magnifico. classic and old world pepperoni® on one pizza—and a large is just $9.99?! the phrase “slice of heaven” comes to mind... marco's. pizza lovers get it. alice loves the scent of gain so much, she wished there was a way to make it last longer. say hello to your fairy godmother alice and long lasting gain scent beads. try spring daydream, part of our irresistible scent collection. (heartbeats) introducing icy hot pro. ice works fast... to freeze your pain and your doubt.
11:30 pm
heat makes it last. so you'll never sit this one out. new icy hot pro with 2 max-strength pain relievers. hello, i'm dara brown, here's
11:31 pm
what's happening. at least nine people were injured in a shooting in downtown cincinnati. police say there are at least two shooters, no arrests of a made. a separate shooting in the different part of town, injured two, it's not clear if the incidents are related. and, it's been another weekend of frustration in the nation's airports, with more than 1300 domestic cancellations, delays numbers in the thousands. they are ports of the most delays were chicago midway in chicago o'hare. now, back to dateline. now, back to dateline. the comic book murder files came out of the archives, and the little -- township for, us to remember that killing at the strip mall.
11:32 pm
and he took it personally, that someone out there had gotten away with murder. the lieutenant had identified with the victim. >> i was approximately the same age, and had children the same age, and maybe that was just something that stuck with me. >> this is a tough one to pick up the staff. >> i knew that going in, but i had already operated under the theory, you don't shoot you don't score. and i thought i outed to myself, but i outed to barb to. >> detective needed help, google fashion shoe leather cops, to make the calls not on doors, so he recruited jimmy hall and leni rico, the three of them went into the old boxes, re-reading yellowing police reports. but there's a reason the crimes go into the cold case files, a lack of evidence. the three wondered, if they had one of those here. >> they seem to normal, and finally when we can see the conclusion that it's doable, we need to notify the family,
11:33 pm
that's why we finally contacted them. >> the cold case detectives were painfully aware of giving barb george's family falls of active 17 years. but in early 2007, the detectives laid out what they found, warts and all to barbara's brother joe and other family members. >> and we were honest with them, we don't know how successful we're gonna be here. >> still, after that meeting with the detectives, barb's family and friends allowed themselves to be optimistic. >> i told my sister when we walked out of that police station, i said, "something will come out of this. " >> joe and mary -- his girlfriend back then -- had broken up after barbaraâs murder, but they remained close over the years. >> joe called me and he told me what was going on. and my and it's a good, good god's gonna get him. >> the detective started their investigation, as though it were july 13th 1990.
11:34 pm
and the 19 11 call had just come in. all three of them knew this wasn't going to be an episode of csi, with forensic science saving the day. >> no weapon, no blood smears, no-- >> nothing. >> -- hair fibers -- >> in terms of what people are used to seeing nowadays, with dna and things like that--we didn't have it. we just had to do detective work. >> which means? >> get out there and interview people. >> they say without preconceived theories they chased down all the old leads again, the speeding car, the mystery man in the greek fisherman's cap. and re-examined the old motive: was it possible that barbara had been shot to death over a pricey collectable comic book? the cold case detectives interviewed over 100 people, and of all those fresh 2007 interviews, the one they did with one man turned out to be the game-changer. his name is mike renaud, a girls'softball coach, now confined to a wheelchair after a swimming pool mishap a few years ago.
11:35 pm
back in 1990, renaud was a college senior and a "spiderman" fanatic. the detectives learned, renaud had placed a call to the comics world store on july 13, the night of the murder. he thought it had been about 5:30 p. m. or so, about 30 minutes before the murder. the avid collector wanted to know why one of his comic books had zoomed in value. a voice he knew very well answered the phone. it was michael george, the shop owner. >> he sounded like he was busy. he was in a hurry to get off the phone. >> did he say, you know, âiâm busy. there are people in the shop. i got to go. " >> no, no. it was just a short-- >> just something you could hear in his voice or the way he-- >> we would b. s. a little bit. and there was no time for b. s. >> the cold case cops had struck gold. mike renaud's story was the missing puzzle piece that detectives had been looking for years. renaud's account, if true, did nothing less than demolish michael georgeâs alibi that he'd been napping at his mother's at the time his wife was murdered -- around six pm. renaud's phone
11:36 pm
call story meant george was lying. renaud swore that he'd talked to the store owner at the comic book shop and their brief conversation must have taken place just minutes before barb was killed. the embarrassing thing about this nugget of a clue was that mike renaud had told the very same story to the police back in 1990, the day after the murder. what looked like a case-breaker in 2007 had simply slipped through the cracks back when. they'd had it in the case file all along. in clear handwriting, there it was, a record of renaudâs july 14 phone call to the police: "mr. renaud stated that he called'comic world'... (around) 5:30 "and âtalked [with] the owner michael george. " >> well, that's the one piece that was missing. even so, it was a piece that still had flaws as evidence. there were no existing phone logs to corroborate renaudâs story or to pin down the exact time he said he placed the call. to this day, former detective
11:37 pm
donald steckman doesn't know how that note from renaud went astray, but he says he was unaware of the comic book collector's story of talking to the husband in the shop minutes before the murder. >> âwell, how did you not see it? " well, i never saw it. if we'd have seen it, we would not be sitting here today discussing this case, 18 years later. >> you would have gone for an arrest and -- >> yes. >> -- indictment? >> no doubt-- >> -- be going to-- >> no-- >> -- trial-- >> no doubt about it. >> -- by 1991? >> no doubt about it. >> and now the investigative leads pointed just one way: toward the husband. >> it just kept coming back to mike. and it was like a funnel effect. we started off looking at a lot of things and a lot of people. and it just narrowed down -- just like a funnel. it was time for the cold case detectives to take a road trip to pennsylvania, a trip across miles and time. they were going to make a surprise visit to michael george at comics world.
11:38 pm
-- >> this is a vendetta? in the barbara -- >> exactly and that something entirely different from what he told the police back in 1990. >> after 17 years, a conversation i suspected killer never expected. >> if you're going to show tomorrow, i get a lawyer. >> when dateline continues. when dateline continues downy will soften your clothes without dyes or perfumes. the towel washed with downy is softer, and gentler on your skin. try downy free & gentle. new astepro allergy. is softer, and gentler on your skin. now available without a prescription. astepro is the first and only 24-hour steroid free spray. while other allergy sprays take hours astepro starts working in 30 minutes. so you can... astepro and go. >> two of the cold case
11:39 pm
11:40 pm
11:41 pm
11:42 pm
detectives punched up a quest for comics world in pennsylvania, and moderate southeast. it was 2007, 17 years after the murder, and lie commandoes synchronizing their watches, the detectives had decided to execute simultaneous surprise interviews on michael george's turf. >> we had teams of detectives go to all three locations exactly the same time. >> it would be michael at the store, his wife renee at the house, and michael's mother at her home, back in hazel park, michigan. >> unannounced? >> unannounced. >> when they found comics world, the two detectives waited for some customers to leave, checked their watches, then sauntered in. >> we were probably about a minute behind the other detectives. so, when we walked in mike george was on the phone. and, we assume he's talking to renee, his wife. and, he says, "no, there's nobody here. " and, he had his back to us as we walked through the door. he turned around, he goes, "they're here. " and he got off the phone and he just looked pretty sick at that point.
11:43 pm
>> det. hall switched on the tape recorder he'd concealed in his jacket. >> introduced ourselves. mike was pretty much unemotional. he said, "hey, come on in. have a seat. " started talking to him. >> this is some of that conversation: >> we are re-opening that case. we have a few questions for you. want to talk to you about it. >> okay. >> what did the police tell you back then, our department? >> they had leads. they never, you know, told me what the leads were. >> he didn't say much at the beginning. >> i mean, does he say this is great news? >> no, very unemotional. >> âi've wondered for 17 years. what's happening? i've been waiting for you guys? >> no, he doesn't give-- >> no. >> does not give the typical response like, âyou found somebody? â or, âwell, that's good. â you know, like you said-- >> what do you have? >> after 17 years, michael george claimed a flickering memory for events.
11:44 pm
>> i remember the funeral. i don't remember anything. i remember the funeral because there were so many cars. >> is he getting sweaty, twitchy, anything? >> oh, he was very nervous. >> he was very pale. >> very nervous. >> didn't make eye contact. most of the interview his head was looking down towards the table. >> in 1990, with a conversation with a lead detective at the store after the murder, michael george had speculated that barb was killed in a botched robbery, someone after valuable vintage comic books. george said the cops had to be wrong. he knew he'd been ripped off. >> i knew stuff was gone. >> okay, what was taken, maybe the cops are missing something. >> very old books. >> okay. what kind of books were they? >> they were golden age books. the whole case was gone, the whole box was gone. >> he couldn't remember exactly how many comics were taken or the amount. and he never offered up that robbery motive, until we brought it up. >> although he was sketchy mostly tales, he had no trouble coming up with a totally new answer, when the cops asked him to speculate on why barbara, of all people, had been murdered? listen, as his theory switches from robbery to prevent. >> i think barb was at the
11:45 pm
wrong place at the wrong time. i think somebody wanted to get back at me. i don't know who it was, but i should have been there so they could get back at me. and so she could raise these two girls instead of me. >> so this was a vendetta and what, barbara took the bullet that was meant for him? >> exactly, and that was something entirely different from what he told the police back in 1990. >> is that as interesting as everything else you heard that night? >> absolutely. >> they're interesting, he came up with -- >> meanwhile, the prosecutor back in michigan, the son of the onetime police chief -- was deeply curious about how the swoop-down interview was going. >> were you surprised to hear that he talked to them? that he hadn't lawyered up or said, "i am getting on the phone to my attorney right now"? >> very surprised. but i really think he was so shocked by the fact that we're still looking at him. so shocked that he didn't know what to do. and that's why we didn't call him. that's why we didn't give him a heads up. >> as the interview continued,
11:46 pm
michael george as he hadn't in 1990 now owned up to his philandering. >> describe for me your marriage to her at the time of her death? >> it was rocky because we had all the pressures. i'd just quit my job to open up that store. you know, we would have our fights, we would have our arguments. >> you say it's rocky, and people have fights and arguments like that. what was the cause (of) most of it? anything like extra-marital affair? >> yeah, yeah. >> on her side or on your side? >> my side. >> late in the 90-minute interview, the conversation circled back to an earlier theme: robbery, the supposed theft of the detectives asked if anyone knew that he kept pricey books in the back storage room. that's when things got testy and george's previously passive tone becomes more direct and confrontational. >> then i am just trying to find out how that that individual, the suspect, would have known they were there, that's all. unless it was an inside job, or unless -- >> they weren't taken.
11:47 pm
>> -- they weren't taken, it was big insurance fraud. >> so you're saying i am lying now. >> no, no, i, no. i'm just, iâm just saying that, that's a possibility, mike. you have to look at all options. >> so now you're saying that i lied about the books being gone. so now, so now what you're saying is i better get a lawyer. >> we didn't say that. >> yeah, you did. you just said one of the possibilities. >> that is a possibility. >> insurance. okay, stop. if you're going to show up tomorrow, let me know, i will get a lawyer, because this is bulls--now. >> the next day, in fact, he would need a lawyer, a criminal defense lawyer. the michigan detectives, and the pennsylvania state police, arrested him at his workplace, the comic book store. as he was led away after a later court appearance, he loudly proclaimed that police had nabbed the wrong man. was he right? >> no, i didn't do it. i was with my daughters and my mom. they know. they know i didn't do this. >> the cold case had turned
11:48 pm
red-hot. michael george was returning to michigan. -- that's because there was not. it would come down to a single witness and his recollection of a solitary phone call he said he made on friday the 13th, 1919. >> coming -- up a twist in court field with a predicament. >> did you expect it was possible, he was gonna come out and say, this is dismissed. we don't have a case here. >> initially, it never crossed my mind. after five hours, you start to worry. >> that's probably the toughest moment i ever had as a lawyer. >> when dateline continues. when dateline continues with align probiotic. you see... your gut has good and bad bacteria. and when you get off balance, you may feel it. the bloating, the gas - but align helps me trust my gut again. plus, its recommended by doctors nearly 2x more
11:49 pm
than any other probiotic brand. just one a day naturally helps promote a balanced gut. and soothe occasional bloating gas and discomfort. align probiotic. welcome to an align gut. flo, you're here. this pipe just burst on me. well, you bundled home and auto with progressive, so you have round-the-clock protection on all your stuff. like that cardboard tv. i told props to switch that out. okay, everyone, that's a wrap. [ bell rings ] wait, you faked this whole thing? i knew it was the quickest way to see you. i'm sorry, jon, but i'm already in love with insurance. you know that's weird, right? well, any weirder than faking a burst pipe? got a little carried away. yeah. michael: my tip is, the worst lies are the lies you tell yourself, like smoking isn't that dangerous. announcer: you can quit. for free help, call 1-800-quit now. kids don't always take the best care of school supplies.
11:50 pm
so save money shopping back to school on amazon. while they... 0oh... uh... figure their stuff out. there is nothing glamorous about migraines. since i was a teenager the pain has taken me away from my family and friends. but i finally found relief with nurtec odt it's the only medication that can treat my migraine right when it strikes and prevent my next attack. treat and prevent all in one. don't take if allergic to nurtec. most common side effects, in less than 3%, were nausea, indigestion/stomach pain. with quick dissolving nurtec i can get back to normal fast and prevent my next attack. treat & prevent - all in one. >> all rise --
11:51 pm
>> in a michigan courtroom, not far from his old comic book store, michael george was
11:52 pm
standing trial, charged with a first degree murder of his then wife, barbara. >> he was the husband from hell. >> in early 2008, the man who intended to put george away was steve kaplan. then the trial went to the cold case unit. >> he knew getting the comic book man with nothing but circumstantial evidence, no weapon, no witness, no dna, made this case a tough 1 to 1. something he'd never let onto the jury, of course. >> we will prove to you that it was a murder. and if it's a murder, there's only one person in this world who had a reason to kill this wonderful person, and that's michael george. >> for caplan, proving it oil bowl down to a case of who you trust. janet george, michael's mother, she said her son was sleeping on the couch at the time of the murder. or with the jury except the word of the comic book collector mike were not? he said the defendant was in the store about that time, and answering his phone call? >> answered the phone?
11:53 pm
>> how long the truck did find it at that time? >> less than five minutes. >> i woke up between 5:15 and 5:45. >> do you remember how he seemed to you? >> he seemed like he was in a hurry. >> how important is he to your case? >> without him we cannot when this case, because without him, we cannot place the defendant, physically in that store, close to the time of barbara's shooting. >> and then came a routine moment that we've all seen in courtroom dramas on tv, the prosecutor in this wave, steve, caplan rose and told the judge, and the defense response in this michigan courtroom, just as productively, was to try to get the case thrown out, not enough evidence. they argued -- and asking the judge for what's called a directed verb it. >> when you just don't know, you have to pull the plug.
11:54 pm
you have to say that's it. >> and then it got really strange. >> and you say, "your honor, the state has not proved its case. we ask that you dismiss it right now, that it not go to the jury. " >> right. >> it happens all the time. >> right. and we did. >> and almost always you're rebuffed. >> that's right. and almost always you're rebuffed within about 10 to 15 seconds. >> that didn't happen here. >> no. >> this time judge james m. biernat listened intently for 20 minutes as michael george defense lawyer argued that there was no way the prosecution had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was in the comic book shop with a gun in his and. >> the judge is obligated to make a call to say whether or not there was sufficient evidence to justify this. >> the prosecutor knew that by law, the judge has to regard all evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution. he took just 30 seconds, and parried with a brief citation
11:55 pm
of case law arguing why the case should go to the jury. and then the judge retired to his chambers to ponder this motion to dismiss. in first-degree murder trials it hardly ever happens in american courtrooms, less than 1 percent of the time, that the case would be short-circuited before it ever got to a jury. but the judge was out, and he stayed out for hours. >> what was going on? eric smith, the county's chief prosecutor: well, i could tell you what was going on in the prosecution's end. we were fit to be tied. we've all tried hundreds of cases. and these motions for directed verdicts are dismissed almost immediately. >> did you expect it was possible he was going to come out and say, "this case is dismissed. jurors, you're released. we don't have a case here. " >> well, initially, never crossed my mind. after a couple hours, it still hadn't crossed my mind. after five hours you start to worry. >> for the defense, carl marlinga was feeling better by the hour. >> i remember walking outside with my client and saying this is obviously good news. i cannot lie to you. judges don't
11:56 pm
take this long to decide these motions. >> after hours of watching the clock go around, the defendant, out on 1 million dollar bond, playing with his circle of friends and family in the hallway, the judge, at last, returned to the bench. >> the court has been reviewing this matter for approximately five hours. i think an extraordinary length of time to review any motion for directed verdict. >> he started, there was a case to be made for the defense's position, he started. >> albeit, it could be argued that this evidence is marginal. >> then he seemed to point out the merits of the prosecution's argument. >> this is in many ways a classic murder case. if the evidence is believed by the jury, then the jury could reach a finding of guilt. >> on the one hand. and the other. where was the judge going? >> so, the court at this point
11:57 pm
they're substitute its judgment for that of the jury. >> he decided for the prosecution. there was enough evidence to go forward. >> the directed verdict is denied. >> the defense had lost a five-hour long high-stakes game and apparently by the closest of margins. >> that's probably the toughest moment i ever had as a lawyer. >> you thought you might have had it. >> i thought i might have delivered this guy from this horrible, horrible experience of not only having lost his wife, but then being falsely blamed for it after all of these years. i thought, i thought the ordeal was almost over. >> the jurors filed back in for the defense case unaware of how close they'd come to being thanked and sent home without ever hearing any more evidence. fired up by the knowledge that the judge had almost tossed out the case, the defense set out to counter the prosecution's crucial phone call, it seemed to place the defendant at the scene. >> michael could not have been at the store, committing this
11:58 pm
murder. elite defense attorney said it was impossible to be in two places at once. and so, he called michael george's mother as has alibi witness, to tell the jury that michael arrived at her house sometime after 5 pm on that friday's 13th. >> he said, he was tired. he was gonna taken up for a while. >> this is george then testify took her two grand daughters to the school playground. >> now, when you got back, did you observe michael at all? >> yeah. >> where was he? >> he was on the couch, sleeping. >> now, it would be up to the jurors to decide whether they believe michael george's mother, or the witness who said michael george answered his phone call. decision day, march 17, 2008. michael george prayed quietly to himself. his freedom, his family, the life he'd enjoyed in pennsylvania were at risk for ever. a murder conviction meant mandatory life, no possibility of parole. >> all right, all rise for the jury, please.
11:59 pm
>> the jury of eight women, four men, fouled nervously as one juror explained. >> my hands were sweating, and i took a look at michael george, and i saw his family. i was numb and scared the same time. >> my brother tells me, your heart is beating fast. i said, yeah it is. i mean, this is it. >> coming up -- the verdict. >> number one, first degree murder. we find the defendant -- >> when dateline continues. hen dateline continues to save money. -what's she doing? -i don't know. renters and homeowners can bundle and save. for what? a trip to bora bora? bora boring. okay, you know what? i'm in. she's all yours. want some tacos? -eh, i'm not really in the mood. -yeah, you're right. so messy, all the napkins, those different toppings. -actually, i'm in. -yeah, you are. after years on the battlefield and multiple concussions, migraine attacks followed me home. i wasn't there for my family and i was barely functioning. until nurtec odt changed all that.
12:00 am
nurtec is the only medication that can treat and prevent my migraine attacks, all in one. don't take if allergic to nurtec. most common side effects, in less than 3% were nausea, indigestion, stomach pain. now, i run a non-profit for other green berets, and i can do so much more because i can treat & prevent, all in one. ask your doctor about nurtec odt. 9 out of 10 couples prefer a different mattress firmness. becthe sleep number 360 smart, bed senses your movements and automatically adjusts to keep you both comfortable. our smart sleepers get 28 minutes more restful sleep per night. don't miss our weekend special. save 50% on the sleep number 360 limited edition smart bed. ends monday.
12:01 am
♪ ♪ away suitcases are designed with 360-degree spinner wheels. ♪ ♪ so you can go with the flow. ♪ ♪ every search you make, every click you take, every move you make, every step you take, i'll be watching you. the internet doesn't have to be duckduckgo is a free all in one privacy app with a built in search engine, web browser, one click data clearing and more stop companies like google from watching you, by downloading the app today. michael george was on trial for duckduckgo: privacy, simplified.
12:02 am
gunning down his wife in the back room of a comic book shop. his future was about to be decided. the form and read the verdict. >> count number one first degree murder, we find the defendant guilty. >> guilty of first degree murder, michael george slumped and sobbed and his attorney's arms. >> barb's sister and two brothers, seem to share a gasp
12:03 am
of relief. >> took away my oldest sister didn't get to see me get married didn't get to see my son be born, she will not never get to see him do anything. and then he took a part of me away. >> across the room convicted man's younger daughter,, one of barbs two children, collapsed into her stepmother rene. michael george would go on weeping for a full two minutes. but lieutenant craig keith, the cold case detective who rediscovered the crucial evidence, was unmoved by georgeâs tears. >> mike showed no emotion back in 1990. and now he cries. and, my impression of that is mike is crying for himself. it was devastating, it was just devastating. >> barely able to stand georgia's help too the podium to face the judge, the same judge who had apparently been a
12:04 am
heartbeat away from dismissing the case altogether. >> the jury has found you guilty of all charges. at this time, iâm remanding you to the custody of the macomb county sheriff's department. " >> the comic book man was now a convict. his hands were cuffed and deputies led him away. >> i had no doubt that the verdict that we came to was the correct one. >> the jurors had returned to their deliberation room. they said they could hear george sobbing but that didn't shake their confidence in their verdict. they said it had come down to the testimony of the ben who said he had called about a spider-man call.
12:05 am
>> i think i hear you all saying he was tripped up by answering that phone call from michael renaud. >> yes. >> he should not have been there when mike renaud called. the cold case started by prosecutor eric smith with this case in mind. >> i really thought he's finally gonna face the jaws punishment he deserves. >> and smith had 11 furs that the lake police chief were so you believed. >> i wish she was here to share this with i know you smiling. >> the defense lawyer voice the kind of comments expect here. >> i believe the jury was wrong i think we have a good shot with this judge cannot get an outright reversal, but a new trial. >> but that wasn't bluster in this case michael jordan's defense attorney was prophetic. six months later they tried again, a motion for a new trial before the same judge. one of the grounds was prosecutorial misconduct.
12:06 am
>> this is not a modern robbery, it's a murder. would happen is, the prosecutor had a display for the jury. >> this timetable is -- >> an out of the judges i shot, began assembling pieces of a photo the judge the punchline is voila jurors there is your killer. >> michael george. >> maybe clever, or corn ball, but either way the prosecutor may have overstepped his bounds. the image of the finished part puzzle was a mike shot of michael george shows never introduced into evidence. according to defense lawyers, it showed him in a bad light, a prejudicial error, they are good. strike one. strike two was newly discovered evidence in the case, file possibly favorable to the defense. >> judge it had enough. >> the judge ruled that michael george to get a new trial in the 1990 comic book murder case. -- >> once convicted michael george another chance to win is
12:07 am
freedom. >> it was just elation it's like, okay the greatest injustice that i had ever been associated with as a lawyer had just been corrected. we are going to get a new trial. >> defence attorneys -- always believed in their clients innocence, and now they had one another chance to prove it. >> michael was devastated by the verdict. and suddenly, he's got a new life, suddenly has faith again in the system. >> i think he had two things working, he had new evidence, he had some unfairness in the closing argument, on top of this real heartfelt feeling that an innocent man had been convicted. >> the county prosecutor, eric smith, wasn't buying any of it. >> the judge seems to directive because there's a new trial, because of prosecutorial misconduct. >> he hung his hat on a lot of, things and i was clearly one of them. since the case began, it appears he's not been comfortable to kiss. what he did was set aside a
12:08 am
murder conviction, which is unheard of. >> smith was beside himself, even though the judge's controversial decision was eventually backed by michigan's highest court. >> you wait 18 years for justice, and then you finally get justice, only to happen, the carpet pulled out from under you. >> after the 2008 guilty verdicts barbs brother had gone to a grave site to share the good news. >> we finally got him. he didn't get away with it. you can rest now. >> but now, there was the judges blockbuster decision. >> it tore a hole in our hearts, it's something that, here, we thought it was over. >> barbara's family would have to go through this painful ordeal all over again, and with even more uncertainties this time around. though the jury had found michael george guilty, the judge clearly had serious doubts. a new jury could go either way. especially since the defense now had new evidence.
12:09 am
more possible tunic killers, and just dug up dirt on the prosecution star witness. but to completely nuke prosecutors were revved up for the coming courtroom battle. steve fox, and bill cataldo, teaming up to make michael george face the music once more time. the trial of the comic book murder, volume two, is now at hand. >> coming up, a different jury, different prosecutors. >> michael george fell prey to the two issues, most known to comic fans, sex and money. >> will there be a different verdict? when dateline continues. when dateline continues. her skin and out-cleans our old free detergent. tide hygenic clean free. hypoallergenic and safe for sensitive skin.
12:10 am
tide hygenic clean free. you said you'd never get a dog. you said you'd never do a lot of things. but you never knew all the things a dog could do for you. and with resolve you never have to worry about the mess. love the love, resolve the mess.
12:11 am
12:12 am
another busy day? of course it is. you're a cio in 2022. but you're covered. with security that protects your company everywhere, on-premise... in the cloud... and right here too. comcast business. powering possibilities. september 2011. in the nearly three years since the last comic book murder trial, michael george had been locked up in the county jail where he said inadequate care
12:13 am
caused a vitamin b 12 deficiency that crippled him. he was now confined to a wheelchair, as a second trial got underway before a new judge mary jonauskas. >> officially calling the case of people versus george, who was -- >> more sympathetic jurors. the new prosecution team of bill cataldo and steve, fox would work hard to demonize him. >> michael george fell prey to the two issues most known to conman. sex and murder. >> what was your theory for the jury? >> i think motive is important, easy, hundred and $30,000 and insurance proceeds, and the fact that you didn't really want to be married, he didn't like his wife, he found a completely unattractive. >> he wanted a new life. >> it is opening argument, steve fox told jurors that in 1990, michael george was having a torrid affair with a shop assistant, rene cotulla, and
12:14 am
now his second wife. >> i want to get rid of his overweight wife, and move on to something better. >> before the murder, the husband wasn't bothering to hide his disdain for barbara, according to this prosecution witness. >> teresa testified that she and her son went to college world, the sunday before the murder. michael, barbara, and their two young daughters were in the store, when teresa walked in. >> i had a remark to him how beautiful his little girls were. >> but if you say? >> that, if it wasn't for his daughters, that he would not have been with his wife, that he found her unattractive, and heavy, and it's up to him he would take the girls are moved to florida. >> what was your reaction to that response? >> i couldn't believe he had said something like that to me while she was right there in the store. >> and that same customers shocked again days later, when michael made which she thought was a passenger, during his own wife viewing at the funeral.
12:15 am
>> he gave me a very inappropriate hug, it would've been a hug that i would only have given my husband. >> meaning? >> it's a very intimate hug. >> a little creepy, but the following saturday as was their customs, threesome anderson stopped by comics for world. michael slipped a note. >> would you read that note for the jury? >> you look very, very pretty today, thanks for coming in, sincerely, michael. >> publicly scornful of his wife, hitting on other women, and now a longtime friend of ours was testifying that her friends and family, we're all well away of capital t trouble in the marriage. >> -- she was crying, very upset. like wanted to voice. >> does she convey whether she agreed to that? >> she did not want to. divorce >> prosecutor fox then asked the witness mohsin the defendant barb's funeral. >> i overheard mike saint to his mother, yelling out mom,
12:16 am
did you call the insurance company? it just didn't sound good. because the phone conversation i had with barb, and then now her death. >> michael george, a one-time insurance salesman himself, received $130,000 tax free from his life's life insurance policy. not bad money 1990. >> a witness who worked with michael in the insurance policy asked about the money. >> when is that there? >> it's a claim statement for a payment of the proceeds. >> who signed the claim? >> michael george, it looks like. >> i want day? >> 7:18 of 90. >> july 18th of 1990? >> are you aware that barbara is buried on july 17th, of 1990. >> womanizer, scoundrel. the prosecution dissected his character, and referred to him as the only possible killer. >> our concentration was to
12:17 am
show that he was the only guy. that he was the one who had had to have done, it because no one else would've. >> speak loudly, your first name is kim. >> prosecutors call this woman -- i witnessed 30 to 35 arguments. >> she testified, she heard many heated arguments between michael and barber that summer. but the one she overheard that afternoon, friday the 13th sounded even uglier. >> it was much louder who is much angrier, it was much more violent. >> then it was in the past? >> yes. >> less than four hours later, barbara george will be discovered by customers on the floor in the back of the comic store. yet, in this public space of a strip mall customers coming and going cars, no witness remembered hearing gunshots, the two had been fired. no one remembers seeing anyone leave the store. and no witness saw michael in georgia the story from the time he left after 4:00, until he
12:18 am
drove up at 8:00 for what's to be's birthday party. by then, police were all over the scene. >> he told us who was, identified himself and wanted to know what happened in the store. >> lead detective of clinton township pd testified that michael said his wife is working at colleagues world. >> i devised, and they've been incident this store, and his wife had been injured. >> did he ask you about her condition? >> no. >> did he ask you about how it happened? >> no. >> he told the husband that den lieutenant all brook would be driving into the hospital where he can find out about his wife. the former lieutenant testified that michael started chattering without prompting. >> he made a statement that i thought was noteworthy. >> and what was that statement? >> something must of fell or dropped on her in the back room. >> why is that statement interesting to? >> because i never told him that mrs. george was in the back room of the store. >> he knows things he should
12:19 am
have known. >> he knows evidence that only the shooter would now not realizing how unique that information is. >> later that night, according to police. michael george told investigators two white boxes of expensive comics were missing, and then poor barbara might have stumbled into a robbery gone bad, a theory that police and prosecutors subsequently rejected. >> this is why it's not a robbery. -- we know that ring was work at least hundred only $5,000. who several hundred dollars in cash in the register, they were untouched. tons of comics behind a glass were untouched. safe, untouched. >> the safest in the back storage, remember michael cain the missing boxes of callers have been. >> and what is unique about, that these two white boxes were on, mark they didn't say expensive comics here. >> missing commerce were never found, and prosecutors believe they were never stolen either. even though michael recovered a
12:20 am
12,600 dollar insurance claim for them. >> there's 100 on march white boxes in that room the only way to know which ones to grab would be if it's an inside job. but they only incite job according to prosecutors was the murder itself. >> the reason it's an inside job is because of the accessibility to that door. >> that door was central to the prosecutors the theory of the murder. michael george's said sneaked in the back door and concealed himself until his wife was alone in the store when she came into the back room there belief was he fired two shots the first one hitting a swimsuit counter in the wall, and the second striking her in those top of the head, and she was ducking away. >> the murder took place, and where he went from there are theory was at the back door and run. so we need to the alley side on c, but not before dealing with what only he could do before he told the jurors. >> the same place he came, in he left, through the back door
12:21 am
blocking tight block. double locked. >> indeed, the door was locked from the outside when police a lot arrived. something the prosecutors only michael george can do. >> you have to have those keys. >> nobody about the defendant had keys to the backdoor, prosecutors maintained. and, they added, and he supposed robert would've fled through the busy fun tour. and certainly would've been spotted. >> there were 20 witnesses and started walking in within a minute or two minutes of that gunshot. >> nobody saw anyone leaving with boxes of calm books, nobody saw anyone running out the front door. >> i would about the people who were spotted by witnesses around the comic book shop, minutes before and after the murder? the guy in the greek fisherman 's -- this is spacious characters team to be wearing a fake beard. the so-called bearded lady. police even made a sketch of the bearded lady, prosecutors said that none of them would be some science by's never amounted to anything, except in
12:22 am
the case the bearded lady. prosecutors theorize that this person may have been michael george's accomplice. now, the prosecutors would offer up their star witness,, the sole person who could say the husband was indeed in the store, as the minutes were counting down to murder. comic collector maker and although, but this time the defense was ready with new evidence to challenge not only his credibility but also his memory. >> coming up. >> in 1990 you used marijuana and you drink alcohol on the weekends, did you not? >> so the strategy is to go nuclear on him? >> i wouldn't say that, we were just bringing up the past. >> when dateline continues. when dateline continues it disrupts my skin with rash. but now, i can disrupt eczema with rinvoq. rinvoq is not a steroid, topical, or injection. it's one pill, once a day, that's effective without topical steroids. many taking rinvoq
12:23 am
saw clear or almost-clear skin while some saw up to 100% clear skin. plus, they felt fast itch relief some as early as 2 days. that's rinvoq relief. rinvoq can lower your ability to fight infections, including tb. serious infections and blood clots, some fatal, cancers including lymphoma and skin cancer, death, heart attack, stroke, and tears in the stomach or intestines occurred. people 50 and older with at least one heart disease risk factor have higher risks. don't take if allergic to rinvoq, as serious reactions can occur. tell your doctor if you are or may become pregnant. disrupt the itch and rash of eczema. talk to your doctor about rinvoq. learn how abbvie can help you save. kids, one year they want all dinosaurs stuff the next, camels. - llamas. - llamas. so save money shopping back to school on amazon. you sure that's not a camel? yeah. whatever you say. no matter what type of dog you have... or, cat you have...
12:24 am
frontline® plus lets you take them everywhere... no matter how you define it. frontline®. the #1 name in flea and tick protection. listen, i'm done settling. because this is my secret. i put it on once, no more touch ups! secret had ph balancing minerals; and it helps eliminate odor, instead of just masking it. so pull it in close. secret works. and it's easier than ever to get your projects done right. with angi, you can connect with and see ratings and reviews. and when you book and pay throug you're covered by our happiness check out today. angi... and done. ♪ ♪ away suitcases come in many colors.
12:25 am
so you can find your color. colors. choices. happiness. away. ♪ ♪ a serial killer is targeting muslims, since november for men have been shot and killed in albuquerque. authorities are asking people to help locate evokes wagon sedan located the crime scene.
12:26 am
and there's international concern over fighting at the oil plant in ukraine. the head -- damaged a plant. crews have already had to limit that output of the reacted after the strike. now, back to dateline. ack to dateline. once again, michael george's guilt or innocence, would likely come down to the man who said he made instant phone call about a spider-man comic book. >> we call mike renauld. >> in the first -- shop owner on the phone, just minutes before the murder. the judge, however had seem skeptical. but now, 12 new people would be de-escalating the case. so, prosecution and defense lawyers had to start afresh, with the all important star witness. the stakes couldn't be better. >> mike renauld without him would he have had a case? >> now, he was the only one who
12:27 am
alone can destroy the defenses alibi. >> without, him we don't even issue a warrant. >> -- their clients freedom, both depending on the challenging's story, and reinforcing the defendants alibi. >> so what was the witnesses case in the prosecution side? >> but we'd really focused on, was specifically that alibi. >> the defendants 1990 story, was that he left his clinton township shop, sometime after 4 pm to go to his mother's house. she lived in hazel park, about a half hour away. it's michael george's alibi that he was at his mother's house from a vote for 30 to 7:30. a little after he arrived, his mother said she took her grandchildren of the park, and he was sleeping on the couch when they got back sometime after 6:00. barb was murdered a little after 6:00. and michael george's account is true, he was at his mother's at that time, and therefore could
12:28 am
not be the killer. but, according to prosecutors, michael george wasn't napping on the couch at all. they contended he had returned to comics world, and sneaked into the storage room with a gun when barb left to order pizza for his birthday party. and, about what time is that? >> it's about 5:30. >> that's when the timeframe of this person, friend of barbs came to the store. it was, locked and she had to wait for barb to return for the pizza place. >> if she's not in the store at 5:30, she can't possibly answer the score at 5:30? >> correct. >> some someone answered the phone, it had to be someone other than her. >> correct. >> now, prosecutors questioning the one person who could identify who's on the phone. >> your name is michael renauld? >> yes sir. >> in 1990, a decade before the disabling accident, he was married, how do young, daughter i was holding on to jobs. >> we also attending school? >> yes, i was going to wayne
12:29 am
state. >> how old you? do >> i graduated criminology. >> the prosecutor wanted to regard him as both a serious person, and a knowledgeable collingswood collector. >> before 90, 90 how frequently would you go to the store? >> at least once a week. >> the day of the murder, he testified, he abs actually stopped by it after work. but critical to the story it had to do with a phone call and made later in the day to the shot. he had a collectors question about a spider-man comic video. >> he was excited that one book had jones for $8 to $40. >> did you contact anyone to discuss reasons? >> he knew the, voice he knew the timing would be there. and that's the case. >> tell me about the demeanor of michael george on that phone call? >> the answers were very sharp, and they seem to be in a hurry to get off the phone. >> so might wonder as so many people did if michael jordan was lying in wait to wear his
12:30 am
wife in just moments why would be so dumb as to pick up a ring in phone? >> he picks it up for two reasons either as a businessman he doesn't want to lose business, or number two it's his accomplice from the outside letting him know what's going on. >> couldn't investigators just pulled the phone logs and verify the story, and see we will time the phone came in? nine in 1990. the phone companies didn't keep those catalogs on local calls. but remember, renauld story had fallen through the investigative cracks altogether before a cold case cop, craig teeth came out in 2007. and in that we discovered file was a statement that said that -- he wanted the detectives to know that he spoke with michael george in the comic shop and 6 pm on the final day. >> after you've got the phone with the department, did you think about it further?
12:31 am
>> yes. >> why? >> i did not want to get mcgahn trouble if i was wrong on my time. >> according to those newly discovered records, renaud had called the police back almost immediately to amend the time you spoke to michael george. >> what did you advise police this time and you called back? >> it was closer to 5:30 instead of six. >> there were multiple calls to the police, we saw that is a strength of what rather than our weakness. he's actually trying to help michael george. he's trying to tell the police, don't get him in in trouble because of me. it's establishing that is that he's having some ill will against a defendant is not making it up. >> that's not how the defense team saw renaud, they thought it was basking in the limelight of a big murder trial. >> we thought he was exaggerating his own importance and as mine. >> when the defense had's credit card renaud in the
12:32 am
examination they wanted to question his motives, memory, and credibility. >> first of all, he makes himself sound like he's a good buddy of him, but michael georgia remember middle. as a defense, recalls renaud's multiple calls to the police, changing the times indicated that he didn't have a good handle on his recollections and was therefore unreliable. >> he called back several times, be an uncertain of the time when he made to call. >> if the called michael george happened at all and the defense dispute said did. the defense attorney believes that it must have taken place before the shopowner left for his mother's house, it was more than an hour before the murder. >> so you're saying that renaud is not just mistaken it is time. but -- >> we think he wanted to become a hero. >> in fact, since the last trial. renaud i tried to bolster a story by adding new facts, according to the defense. renaud revealed for the first time, that he went to the clinton township police department days after the
12:33 am
murder, to make a report in person. marlene goes tough cross-examination brought out that renaud's recollection of that interview -- how >> do you know the name of the person? >> i do not. >> how about the gender? male or female? >> it was male. >> old or young? >> i cannot say. >> was this person in a uniform or in a suit or sport coat or sure? >> i cannot say. >> you remember seeing a bench? >> i cannot say. >> did you ever see a police report that was generated as a result of that interview? >> no, sir. >> there is, in fact, no police reported that interview. was it another example of the defenses theme of in a police work. >> either the police department lost a very important police report, with the lack of police notes is a fact because the interview never happened. >> is it true, sir, that you invented this conversation. >> i did not do that.
12:34 am
>> but now, the defense was moving on. telling the jury there may be a reason why his memory so hazy. back in those days, the lawyers asserted, he was often in a haze of pot smoke. >> can you even remember the times that you are high? >> so the strategy is to go nuclear on mike renaud. >> i wouldn't say declare, no, we get rid of it is just bring out the facts. in 1990, you use marijuana, and drink alcohol on the weekends, did you not? >> i was in college, and that would not surprise me. >> the homicide that we're talking about occurred on friday, july 13th, there were two initial calls into the clinton township police occurred on saturday, july 14th, of 1990. we are agreed that friday and saturday our weekend is, correct? >> correct. >> one question whether he got
12:35 am
high on the early weekend that mattered. renaud had to admit he did not remember. >> correct. >> i again, the defenses goal was to raise reasonable doubt about this recall. >> marijuana can cause time distortion, so we are talking to a person might not have the best handle on time. >> now that the fans believed it shredded his story, it is ready to tell the jury, who really murdered barbara george. >> coming up, another possible suspect in an impossibly strange disguise. >> we said it would be a woman in a fake beard. really thin guy. >> it's a fake beard and mustache on a july day, with the little theater productions, or halloween parties, this is just too suspicious in these circumstances. >> when dateline continues. hen dateline continues downy unstopables in-wash scent boosters
12:36 am
keep your laundry smelling fresh waaaay longer than detergent alone. pour a cap of downy unstopables into your washing machine before each load. and enjoy fresher smelling laundry. if you want laundry to smell fresh for weeks make sure you have downy unstopables in-wash scent boosters. shop for downy unstopables online, including our lighter scent. michael george have been
12:37 am
12:38 am
12:39 am
married to his second wife rene from most 20 years. through thick and thin, they still seemed very much in love. >> this case will show you -- >> but, i did 2011 trial, the defense acknowledged right up front, the during his first marriage, michael would never have won an award for husband of the year. >> this is not a matter of suspicion innuendo discussed with the person for having affairs. this is a matter of evidence. >> so lead defense attorney reminded the jurors that the defendant was on trial for murder. >> and adultery is a person who's done evil things, but that doesn't necessarily make him a murderer. >> the victim shoe can be seen. >> as for any hard evidence that michael george killed his wife in cold blood, the defense maintain it didn't exist. >> and you have no weapon, no witnesses, no forensics. >> there's nothing to tie your
12:40 am
guy at him. >> nothing the ties into the crime. >> your honor, i'm happy to say that we rest. >> and then, just as in the first, trial came out with the prosecution rested. and the defense problem ocean sane, we there's no physical evidence that links migratory should the crime. but this time, there is no five hour retreat to think about. >> the court is finding that the prosecution has presented substantial evidence. >> the defendant teared up. there was enough evidence, the judge declared, to go forward. >> the basic conclusion, gentleman, is that the motion is denied. >> but that setback, not unexpected, the defense began its three pronged attack. that the initial police work is an apt, that there was evidence that somebody knew that someone else committed the murder. and thirdly, that michael george had a strong alibi. >> we decided that our strongest evidence was the
12:41 am
alibi, and that would not only be sufficient to win, but knowing that we are dealing with michael's history, and the affairs -- we really had to prove innocence. >> michael george told police that he really had to left his store with his daughter is not at 4 pm on friday. they went to his mother gianna's house about 30 minutes away. he said she was asleep when his mother's house, when tragically his wife's shot. janet george the mother read does write in the first, trial backed up her sons asleep on the stuff it coach story. >> but defense internees alter the strategy for trial number two. >> do you swear you're gonna read everything that's in that transcript. >> mom, didn't testify in person this time around. the defense had a stand in reach the 2000 new testimony for the record. and account in which he arrived at her house a little after 5
12:42 am
pm that day. he said he was, tires so he took a nap, while she took her granddaughters to a nearby playground. >> now, when you got back, did you observe michael it'll? >> yes. >> where was he? >> he was on the couch, sleeping. >> if the jurors believe the serbian recited michael george couldn't possibly been the shop around 5:30 answering the phone. that's when mike renaud said he talked to him. >> gianna george is a mother she still alive why don't you put on the stand? >> tough call we agonized about it. the problem with janet george, is that she loves her son, but she is a wild card. her memory is fading. >> but the lawyers were confident about their decision not to call the mother, because they had someone there to substantiate parts of the story. >> peggy -- was jan's next door neighbor. on that front of the 13th, like most days. peggy said she got home from
12:43 am
her job, between 5:45 and 6:00. >> and she got close to your house do you see anybody? >> actually saw janet in the two girls in the school playground at the end of our street. >> when you saw them there? what if anything the video? >> we just waved. >> and as you pulled into your house what if anything did you see in front of dance house? >> there was a van parked in front of the house. >> and did you recognize whose man it was? >> i assumed it was one of michael's vans yes. >> in the prosecution's theory of the timeline there is a missing link of logistics. how did michael get from his mother's place and back to the store in time to kill barbara. the neighbors sighting of his van outside his moms, could plant the seed of reasonable doubt. >> she has no dog in the fight she is not a close, close prison body or lifeline body of janet michaels, she's a neighbor. why wouldn't you believe?
12:44 am
for >> when you take the combined testimony of gianna george, and peggy meir attack, you have solid evidence that he was at some place else. >> and that neighbor was a person the defense team and found on its own. the police said never knocked on doors to corroborate michaels alibi have been at his mother's. evidence in itself the defense argues of shoddy police work. even the former police lieutenant, admitted on cross examination, that aspect of the investigation could have been better. >> if you are the officer in charge of this case, would you have conducted a canvas of the neighborhood to see if people couldn't place from their eye or about the time of the homicide? >> yes sir. >> inept police work was a defense team. for instance, the police never tested michael george for gunshot residue the night of the murder. >> the rear entry door -- >> and also failed to dust the prosecutions critical backdoor for fingerprints. >> if the bad guy reach for the
12:45 am
handled to try to get out that way he would've left some prints. but, we'll never know that because the police don't dust them. >> there's some plastic storage bins. >> and police photos inside the comic book storm where barbara's found, showed a lot of clutter blocking that backdoor. how could michael george have gotten in or out? >> does that look like the room you saw in the back? >> shawn the photo -- leaning up against doria? >> i really can't tell from the perspective here, it's hard to tell. >> the defense felt it had already raised enough reasonable doubt to secure a not guilty verdict. and even though they in no way hadn't but lawyers wanted to offer the jury to have other supposed to consider. >> the defense calls mr. thomas quentin takes the defense put on a witness show the story of being with two friends outside the comic book shop in flint,
12:46 am
michigan about 50 miles away from michael george's shop. as senator looking guy, he, said where is it peddling would appear to be hot comics. >> amanda precious in the parking lot, and i asked take a look, there's some old comics who wanted to sell. >> this new defense witness said he came forward after seeing the first comic book murder episode of dateline. -- and got nothing from him. >> the vibe that the gentleman was giving us told us no way. >> the witness said that encounter to place july 14th 1990 significantly the day after barbara george's murder. but his friends called by the prosecutions, contradicted him, and said it actually happened weeks earlier. >> and we were walking towards the building. >> but the defense wasn't out of alternative suspects. one of those four suspects who originally come on barbara george, thomas ward recalling seen a suspicious man looking about when he got to comics world, a little after 6 pm.
12:47 am
>> and appeared that this individual was trying to gaze into the store, quite focused -- >> words that he remembered the man because of his distinctive hat. >> a greek fisherman's cap black cap. >> i kept like this. >> i'll show the defense exhibit one of five. >> something like that yeah. >> still another new witness testify then in 1990 she briefly dated guy who wore a short brimmed hat like that. a guy who cardigan, and was up to no good when he came to the kabul bookstores they frequented. >> i realized that he was stealing these comic books. >> these were all possible suspects the defense claimed. but on the top of its list of curiosities, someone who became known as the bearded lady. >> here coming around -- >> witnessed joe gray, a friend of the georgia, this came to the store before six clock to drop off supplies for michael's birthday party. great was with a friend who had
12:48 am
gotten a gander or something strange -- >> it looks to be a really thin guy with womanly hips. greene's friends were so concerned about the beaded lady out front, they even warned harvey george be on the lookout. it didn't feel right. >> why would somebody wear a fake beard maybe somebody was coming to the party's joke, or maybe they're trying to rob the place? >> it was joe gray's friend who would help police make the sketch of the so-called bearded lady? >> i believe the person with a figured and mustache is a killer. >> that's your solution? >> it's a fake beard and mustache on july day with a little theater productions where halloween parties. this is just too suspicious in these circumstances. that person is a killer. >> what would 12 fresh jurors believe this time? the comic book murder case, volume two, had one final chapter left. >> coming up. >> all right gentlemen we have a verdict. >> all right for the jury. >> when dateline continues.
12:49 am
hen dateline continues and prevent my migraines, all in one. don't take if allergic to nurtec. most common side effects, in less than 3% were nausea, indigestion, stomach pain. treat and prevent, all in one. i didn't win the lawsuit, but everybody knows i wrote that song. flo? gosh, it's been forever. you look fantastic. it's jon. hamm, from the blind date we went on years ago. ah, the struggling actor who didn't believe he could save with snapshot based on how and how much he drives. i'd love to talk about it over dinner sometime. well, i usually don't talk on the phone during dinner, but for potential customer tom hamm, i will make an exception. oh, boy. a dental tool is round for a reason. so is an oral-b. round cleans better by surrounding each tooth. so clean, you'll feel like you just left the dentist. oral-b. brush like a pro. ♪♪ we hit the bike trails every weekend
12:50 am
or shinges doesn't care.. i grow all my own vegetables shingles doesn't care. we've still got the best moves you've ever seen good for you, but shingles doesn't care. because 1 in 3 people will get shingles, you need protection. but, no matter how healthy you feel, your immune system declines as you age increasing your risk for getting shingles. so, what can protect you? shingrix protects. you can protect yourself from shingles with a vaccine proven to be over 90% effective. shingrix is a vaccine used to prevent shingles in adults 50 years and older. shingrix does not protect everyone and is not for those with severe allergic reactions to its ingredients or to a previous dose. an increased risk of guillain-barré syndrome was observed after getting shingrix. fainting can also happen. the most common side effects are pain, redness, and swelling at the injection site, muscle pain, tiredness, headache, shivering, fever, and upset stomach. ask your pharmacist or doctor about shingrix. shingles doesn't care. but you should. the comic book murder was a
12:51 am
12:52 am
grueling case in search of an ending. barbara george had been shot to death in 1990. her husband was arrested in 2007. his first trial ended in a guilty verdict that was later overturned. and now after a six-week retrial in 2011 second jury was behind closed doors deliberating. 21 years and all. and once again, michael george had and testified as was his right. his lawyers have put it through a mock cross examination that sprang of leaks. they said his memory is faulty after all the time. >> i put together a pattern of cross-examination questions where he had to say i don't remember about 20 times in a row. and we have two solid alibi witnesses, it's almost malpractice to put him on the stand. >> the prosecutors believe his
12:53 am
reluctance to testify was more about him not being able to stand up to the grilling he would've faced in real cross-examination. >> my wife was murdered, that's the most important day of my, life after going happened that day? it's because, maybe, i talked myself out of wanting to remember. >> i want to hear what he had to say. >> these jurors said the entire panel was disappointed that they didn't hear the story from michael george's own mouth. >> i think you can see a lot about a person when they talk about themselves. >> dateline talk to ten of the 12 jurors. they told us their first vote ruthless split something qualities five not. >> and the not guilty's need to be persuaded. it was clarification and a couple really hut the idea that the robbery did happen. >> the central question for each juror was which story to believe? the comic book collector who said he tossed on the phone to michael george in the shop just before the murder or the
12:54 am
defendants mother his alibi witness that he was napping on her couch across town at the same hour. >> to me ultimately, it came down to michael renaud's testimony and the phone call that he made the play's michael george of the scene of the crime. >> so, did the defense damage his credibility as a marijuana smoking beer guzzling college kid. >> i thought they were personally attacking him to make us think he was a drug abuse or. >> and several jurors crushing the mothers regulation of the events. >> i'm not saying she would live for him, but would you stick up for your kids? the jurors talked it through for three days, and finally took a vote. >> all right gentlemen, we have a verdict. >> their job is done. >> michael george cried quietly. his wife renee remained stoic. on the benches across the court, barbs brother hoped for justice
12:55 am
from second jury. >> just 12 people, you don't know what they think. >> first degree premeditated murder of barbara george. guilty in the first degree. >> guilty, murder in the first degree. i'm guilty on the other counts as well. felony firearm, and insurance fraud. michael george didn't break up this time he, closed his eyes and seem, to talk to himself. behind him, his wife renee buried her head. barb's brother contain his drawing, out of respect for his nieces who lost their mother and now their father. >> it's a little bit bittersweet they still have to come to the realization that their father is a murder. >> the prosecutors quietly congratulated each other on the conviction. >> it was a huge relief to know that finally the family is getting the justice they deserve. . >> michael george was let out of the -- eye terrible injustice as a staunch defensive tierney
12:56 am
called it. >> i live with the caves for four years and i see no case that he was there committing the crime, i've prosecuted killers, and i defended killers, this man is not a killer. >> i don't know why it got us put us through this. but i do know he loves us. >> six weeks after the verdict michael george's speak out at his problem for sentencing hearing. >> they can't testify of putting people away, it did not start with me and will not end with me. >> before this, i never been accused of any crime, i had no priors, no problems with drinking or drugs. i can only hope and pray that the lives are destroyed by people being overzealous in the police community will be fine where scene they got above. >> barbed brother joe expect nothing -- >> he thinks he's better than everybody else and he thought he was gonna get away with it. >> and his barbs family saw it since 1990 he did get away with
12:57 am
murder. until county attorney eric smith's cold case unit finally made him pay. >> do you still talk to barbara? >> yes. >> to talk to her in the court and other? >> yes. >> where did you say? >> i love her, that we missed her, and then we finally got him. and hopefully she can rest in peace and we can move on.
12:58 am
12:59 am
1:00 am
this is sunday, a political earthquake. >> excitement. joy. >> next, stunning pro abortion rights, voting red kansas. >> not overreach into our personal rights. >> i'm astounded at the turnout. >> reporter: beating back a move by conservatives to build on the overturning of roe v. wade. >> we are in this because we believe very strongly in protecting both women and babies. >> what does voting in kansas tell us what might happen in november's midterm election.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on