Oct. 23, 2006 | 3:39 a.m. ET

A real-life Shakespearean crime story (Keith Morrison, Dateline correspondent)

Some stories are so dramatically revealing of the tragic flaws in human character we think of them as ‘almost Shakespearean.’  I can’t tell you anymore how many times I’ve found myself thinking that while shooting stories dealing with one of the most wrenching issues of our time: child custody disputes.  The murder of a PHD Chemistry student named Jarrod Davidson is just such a story.

There were two families involved, and they were as different as the Montagues and the Capulets (or so it seemed to me).

But when Jarrod married Kelee, a girl he’d met in college, the marriage had nothing like the love shared by Romeo and Juliette.  

No, the reason they married was not love, but a baby girl: Malia.  And within months of her birth, the poison that had spoiled their relationship and driven them apart began to infect other members of the two families, and a struggle began over custody. 

Our story tells the tragic result, along with the remarkable investigation that uncovered the truth of what happened.

The feelings of these two families are very raw.  Even now one of them is still lobbing vile accusations at the victim of the crime — a dead man unable to defend himself.

And along the way, Lady Macbeth, family feud, a crucial potted plant, mysterious amnesia, unexpected escape from death… and (we’ve been seeing a lot of these lately) allegations of sexual impropriety.  Whew.  As we say, Shakespearean.

Keith Morrison reports on the 2004 execution-style murder of a young chemistry scholar in Santa Barbara, Calif., and the bizarre investigation and trial that ensued. In the report, the victim’s ex-wife discusses the murder in her first televised interview. Airs Wednesday, Oct. 25, 10 p. m.

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