updated 2/4/2005 6:36:02 PM ET 2005-02-04T23:36:02

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUTH GILBERT, ROBIN‘S MOTHER:  I said, I don‘t like the looks of this. 

I said, Please call the police.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  It was the mystery no one could solve.  On the rolling hills of a private golf course, her 14-year-old daughter was found dead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUTH GILBERT:  I just lost control.  I just—I let out a horrible scream.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  The medical expert called it heart failure, but was the expert wrong?  Friends and family suspected something more sinister.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She was dragged 100 yards.  She was buried under brush.  Her clothes were ripped open.  And they said that she died of natural causes.  And it was like, You‘ve got to be kidding me!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  Somewhere in this quiet suburb was an explosive secret kept for 22 years by another mother, revealed just days before her death.  Was this really a case of murder?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DET. MARK DELANEY, READING POLICE DEPARTMENT:  When I first read the reports and I saw the crime scene photographs, I just said, Oh, my God!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  Now a new team of crime scene investigators moves in.  Could they uncover the truth?  Clothing, underwear, files all made to look like evidence—was any of it real.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED PROSECUTOR:  Empty evidence bags, fake evidence bags. 

This is not evidence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  A cold case becomes a chilling courtroom drama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED PROSECUTOR:  This defendant was on her chest, one hand ripping her face.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  One mother‘s intuition, another mother‘s revelation.  Hoda Kotb with the haunting mystery, “Shadows of Suspicion.”  Here now is Stone Phillips.

STONE PHILLIPS, HOST:  Good evening.  The murder of Martha Moxley, the pretty teenager from New England, was a mystery that held this country‘s attention for 30 years.  The 1975 case was solved decades later when Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel was arrested and convicted of the crime.

Tonight, a case with eerie similarities.  It happened that very same year.  This teenager‘s name was Robin Gilbert.  She, too, was from a quiet New England suburb, and her mysterious case would also take decades to solve.  The key, a neighbor‘s secret and a mother‘s confession.  Here‘s Hoda Kotb.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HODA KOTB, NBC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Nearly 30 years ago, a teenager went missing from this house, and in the years since, no one has ever been quite sure about what happened to her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  To, me this case represented almost a mystery within a mystery within a mystery.

KOTB:  It was a case that would bring a prosecutor to his knees, make a friend face a truth he didn‘t want to hear, and unite two mothers, both haunted by a past that wouldn‘t leave them alone.

But our story begins on this lonely stretch of road outside of Boston.  Whenever Jimmy Gilbert drives down this road, it is always 1975.  One single memory is inextricably linked with this stretch of road.

JIMMY GILBERT, ROBIN‘S BROTHER:  It‘s a big part of my childhood. 

What happened to Robin changed a lot of us.

KOTB:  Jimmy was just 16 years old that summer.  He ran with a group of kids from the neighborhood.

JIMMY GILBERT:  Hanging out at my house all summer long.  I always had friends over.

KOTB:  They were a tight-knit bunch.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  All of us hung out together as a group.  A lot of times, we just hung out in the neighborhood.

KOTB:  This group was close from the time they were little kids, and there were plenty of fun times.  But what they didn‘t know was something terrible would soon happen to Jimmy‘s younger sister, and one of their own would harbor a horrible secret.

But there were no signs of that in the summer of ‘75.  How sweet it was in this peaceful New England town.  Ruth Gilbert and her husband, Jerry (ph), had settled in this Boston suburb.  Reading, Massachusetts, was a nice community for their growing family.

RUTH GILBERT:  It was a typical middle-class New England village.  It was clean.  It was decent.  It was full of churches.  It was just a nice place.

KOTB:  Nice enough to raise their children—two girls, Robin and Gail, and two boys, Jimmy and David.

DAVID GILBERT, ROBIN‘S BROTHER:  It was my job, as the youngest brother, to be a pain to my siblings as much as possible.  We were all—there were a lot of kids around the neighborhood.  It was really fun.  We were always playing ball, playing Army, playing other games.

KOTB (on camera):  The Gilbert house seemed to be kind of a fun place to hang out.

DAVID GILBERT:  Yes, with all my siblings and us.  We always had our friends there.

RUTH GILBERT:  They were just a happy group of friends.  It was fun to watch them.

KOTB (voice-over):  Fourteen-year-old Robin, the youngest of the Gilbert kids, was by all accounts a popular, happy-go-lucky child with a real sense of adventure.  She and her best friend were inseparable.

(on camera):  You were tight.  What was it about her and you that made you guys such good friends?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  A lot of things about us were similar.  A lot of things were different.  She was very friendly.  She had a very pretty smile, confident.

RUTH GILBERT:  She was bubbly.  She was a social butterfly.  She was curious.  She was just a fun person.

JIMMY GILBERT:  She had a lot of friends that were attracted to her because of her personality.

KOTB (voice-over):  One of those people was Bob Bilodeau (ph), Robin‘s 19-year-old boyfriend.

(on camera):  Now, at 14 years old, she was dating this older boy, Bob.

RUTH GILBERT:  Yes.

KOTB:  As a mom, were you a little bit, Oh, about Bob?

RUTH GILBERT:  I liked him, but it was just too much of an age difference at that particular period of time.

KOTB (voice-over):  It was just a few days shy of July 4, where typically, parades and relaxation were par for the course, but that night would turn out to be anything but typical.  The Gilbert kids were hanging around the neighborhood, as was Jimmy‘s best friend, David Jones.  Robin was a home with her boyfriend, Bob.  Later, he left.  The rest of the Gilberts went to sleep, and it was just Robin and her best friend hunkered down, watching late-night TV.

(on camera):  You Robin were in the living room hanging out?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes, we were watching—we started to watch a movie.  It was a horror movie.

KOTB (voice-over):  The foreshadowing was uncanny, for the real horror was imminent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She asked if I wanted to go for a walk outside.  I said that I really didn‘t want to.  I was kind of tired, and I ended up falling asleep.  And the next thing that I remember is her father was waking me up, I think it was maybe about 6:00, 6:30 the next morning, and he wanted to know where Robin was.

KOTB:  Robin was nowhere in sight.  It was early morning, and right away, the Gilbert‘s knew something was wrong.  They started a search.  For the next several hours, lots of folks were out looking for Robin.

DAVID GILBERT:  Seems like everyone in the neighborhood was out looking.

RUTH GILBERT:  I said, I don‘t like the looks of this.  I said, Please call a police and find out if they‘ve got anything.

KOTB:  It wasn‘t long, though, before word came in.  Robin‘s older brother, Jimmy, was told to stop the search.

JIMMY GILBERT:  When I was uptown, you know, looking around for her, someone had stopped in their car and suggested that I go home because they had found Robin.

KOTB:  Reading was about to be rocked to its core, and the Gilberts‘ world was about to change forever.

DAVID GILBERT:  I thought the world was a safe place, and it was that day that I learned it wasn‘t.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER:  One mystery is solved, but another begins.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUTH GILBERT:  I just lost control.  I let out a horrible scream.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  When “Shadows of Suspicion” continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  We now return to “Shadows of Suspicion.”

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KOTB:  The sun was rising over Reading, Massachusetts, that summer morning of 1975, and Robin Gilbert had been missing for several hours.  But this missing person‘s case had taken a tragic turn.

DET. ED MARCHAND, READING POLICE DEPT.:  We received a phone call shortly after we got over there that a body had been found in the golf course area.

KOTB:  Reading Police detective Ed Marchand headed to the scene, just a short distance from the Gilbert home.

MARCHAND:  One of the neighbors had found the body out in the backyard between his corner property and the golf course fairway.

KOTB:  Robin‘s father, Jerry, called his wife with the news.

RUTH GILBERT:  And he says, Are you sitting down?  And I said, Of course I‘m sitting down.  And he said, Robin‘s dead.  I just lost control.  I just—I let out a horrible scream.

DAVID GILBERT:  Dad came home.  I remember sitting down with him and him telling me.

KOTB (on camera):  Had you seen your dad cry before that day?

DAVID GILBERT:  No.

KOTB (voice-over):  Robin‘s body had been found at the golf course just a half mile from her home, under some leaves.  The family had so many questions.  Why would she be out in the middle of the night?  Why on the golf course?  And was anyone with her?  Right away, some of her family suspected foul play.

(on camera):  Robin‘s body was taken to the funeral home, where an autopsy was performed that very afternoon.  There was a startling finding.  The state medical examiner determined that Robin had died from an undiagnosed heart problem, an ailment called myocarditis that could have brought on sudden heart failure.

(voice-over):  At first, everyone was baffled.

(on camera):  Was she a healthy kid?

RUTH GILBERT:  Extremely healthy.

KOTB:  Never had any problems?  Clean bill of health?

RUTH GILBERT:  Clean bill of health.

KOTB (voice-over):  The finding didn‘t sound possible.  And like the rest, Robin‘s older sister, Gail, was more than a little bit confused.

GAIL GILBERT, SISTER:  They said, you know, Robin had a heart disease. 

I said, Robin wasn‘t sick.  Well, it was in the very early stages.  OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It‘s, like, Wait a minute.  Slow down.  And someone explain this to me, how this could happen.

KOTB:  It didn‘t make sense, but then they learned that a cold or a cough could trigger this condition, and in fact, Robin did have a cold.  Now, instead of planning for a joyous 4th of July celebration, the Gilbert‘s were arranging a wake for Robin.

JIMMY GILBERT:  I was actually at the funeral when everybody passes by the coffin and says their last good-byes.  I think that‘s when—I think that‘s when it hit home.

KOTB:  Over the next few days, the Gilbert home was filled with grieving family members and many teenage neighbors who‘d spent so much time in that very house, including Jimmy Gilbert‘s best friend, David Jones.

RUTH GILBERT:  There was an awful lot of neighbors bringing in food afterwards, after the funeral.  And I remember David Jones coming down.  And he came in with a paper plate with two chickens that he had obviously cooked.

KOTB:  Bob Bilodeau, Robin‘s boyfriend, also came by.

(on camera):  It must have been difficult for Robin‘s boyfriend, Bob.

RUTH GILBERT:  I think he came to the house a couple times afterwards just to talk.  And I listened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think we were all in shock, and we just weren‘t sure what to do.

KOTB (voice-over):  Despite the medical examiner‘s report, the family had a lot of questions about what exactly happened to Robin.  But they felt there was no choice but to accept the medical examiner‘s finding that Robin had died of a rare heart ailment.  After all, as far as the family knew, even the police didn‘t come up with any evidence of a crime.

GAIL GILBERT:  Medical examiner was law back then.  I guess, you know, once he put his signature on a piece of paper, that was it.  Case closed.

RUTH GILBERT:  I was brought up to respect authorities and what they told you.  You didn‘t ask questions, you just accept it.

KOTB:  And is that‘s just what they did.  Time passed.  The Gilbert children and their friends grew up and started their own families.  Decades went by.  That horrific July day faded.

(on camera):  Did it get easier as the years went on?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Unfortunately, it did.  And I really didn‘t tell many people about it.

KOTB:  Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think part of it was I always felt guilty about it.

KOTB (voice-over):  Guilty about not going for a walk with Robin that night.

(on camera):  How many times have you thought that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I couldn‘t even count how many times I‘ve thought that.  And logically, I realize you can‘t go back and “What if,” but I did always feel that way, to an extent.

KOTB (voice-over):  But they would all go back when an extraordinary tip would reignite this case after more than two decades.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER:  Out of the blue, a revelation from another mother.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUTH GILBERT:  Robin had not died of natural causes, and they had reason to believe that it was a homicide.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  When “Shadows of Suspicion” continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  We return to “Shadows of Suspicion” with Stone Phillips.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KOTB:  It had been more than two decades since Robin Gilbert died that summer night on the Meadowbrook golf course.  And as the years passed, her case had become just an unopened file on the back of a dusty shelf.  Her family and friends had moved on with their lives, but Robin‘s mother always had lingering doubts.

(on camera):  There was something bubbling up inside of you?

RUTH GILBERT:  Always.  Always.

KOTB (voice-over):  A mother‘s intuition became an unexpected reality when she received a phone call from her husband.

RUTH GILBERT:  I got a phone call at work from Jerry.  And he says, I just had a call from Kevin Patterson.

KOTB:  Kevin Patterson, a detective with the Reading Police Department, had some information about Robin‘s death that would blow the case wide open.

RUTH GILBERT:  They had talked to several people, and they had reason to believe that it was a homicide and that Robin had not died of natural causes.

KOTB (on camera):  What caused police to consider homicide?  Turns out, officers got a phone call, a tip that sent them scrambling to take another look at the case file.  It didn‘t take long for detectives to see there were major red flags on those pages.

DET. MARK DELANEY, READING POLICE DEPARTMENT:  When I first got the file, I opened it up and I read the reports and the original autopsy report, and I just said, Oh, my God.

KOTB:  Investigators Mark Delaney and Kevin Patterson said things did not add up.  Looking at photos of Robin‘s body on the golf course, they felt sure they were looking at a crime scene.

(on camera):  What struck you as odd?

DET. KEVIN PATTERSON, READING POLICE DEPARTMENT:  Definitely, some odd set of circumstances to be determined as a natural-caused death.

KOTB (voice-over):  The photos showed that Robin‘s body had been covered with brush and dragged, her shirt torn.  So how did police back in 1975 miss all that?  Turns out, they didn‘t.  Detective Ed Marchand investigated the case.

MARCHAND:  The fact that she had been buried, partially buried, been dragged—everybody seemed to have the same idea that it was more than just a, you know, a passing of natural causes.  We at the police station were, you know, sort of dumbfounded at the time.

KOTB:  He says his hands were tied once the medical examiner made his ruling that Robin had died of a rare heart ailment.  But he says police didn‘t completely give up.

MARCHAND:  The detectives kept talking to the individuals in the area, people that—we were trying to figure out who could have been out on the golf course with her.  But we—at that time, we didn‘t come up with any suspects.

KOTB:  And looking back, Robin‘s best friend says she still wonders why nobody, including the police, ever challenged that medical examiner‘s ruling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She died on the golf course.  She—she was dragged 100 yards.  She was buried under brush.  Her clothes were ripped open.  She had marks on her, and they said that she died of natural causes.  And it was, like, You‘ve got to be kidding me!  It was just unbelievable. 

How do you expect us to believe that?

KOTB:  But this time, things would be different.  There was that tip, and the new detectives moved into high gear, taking an extraordinary step.  After more than 22 years, they would have Robin‘s body exhumed, and it would change this case forever.

DELANEY:  There was some—some organs including the heart, which were preserved very well in the formaldehyde solution that was very useful.

KOTB:  A new autopsy was conducted.  Her heart was examined.  And this time, the medical examiner found no evidence of any rare heart failure.  Instead, he reached a more sinister conclusion, that Robin Gilbert was strangled.

DAVID GILBERT:  Now we‘re off to a different kind of tragedy, that she was killed.

KOTB:  And who did police believe had committed this heinous crime?  It was somebody very close to the Gilbert family, somebody who spent a lot of time at the Gilbert‘s home.  It was Robin‘s brother‘s best friend, David Jones.

(on camera):  Jimmy, you were—you were buddies.  You were best friends with David Jones, right?

JIMMY GILBERT:  We did everything together.  We played football.  We hung around after school.

KOTB (voice-over):  But David wasn‘t implicated by any new evidence or new eyewitnesses.  What ensnared David Jones was a mother‘s intuition—incredibly, his own mother.  She, too, had been haunted by Robin‘s death over the last 22 years and secretly believed her own son may have played a role.  In her dying days, investigators say, she told her sister about her suspicions.  After her death, David Jones‘s aunt picked up the phone and called police.

PATTERSON:  She told me that her sister had recently passed away, and prior—just prior to her death had related to her that she believed her son was involved in the death of a girl, or the murder of a girl, on a golf course in Reading.

KOTB (on camera):  You took that call very seriously, obviously.

PATTERSON:  Yes.

KOTB (voice-over):  Police tracked down David Jones.  He was living in Georgia, now almost 40 years old, married, with a family, and working as a cook in a restaurant.  And over the years, he‘d had some run-ins with the law.  When detectives first questioned Jones, they say his recollection was vague.  But after several hours, a stunning admission.  Jones revealed something nobody had known about that July, 1975, night, that he had been with Robin on the golf course.

Several weeks later, Jones was arrested and charged with murdering Robin Gilbert.

(on camera):  He was your best friend.

JIMMY GILBERT:  Yes.

KOTB:  The guy who‘s your best friend now stands accused of murdering your sister.  I mean, how do you ever make sense of that?

JIMMY GILBERT:  You can‘t.  It‘s—it‘s like being tugged in both directions.  You can‘t—you don‘t know what to do.

KOTB (voice-over):  But the hardest part in this decades-old case was yet to come.  There were no witnesses, no DNA and no obvious motive.  Could this case possibly hold water in a court of law?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER:  The suspect on trial, and more frightening secrets.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The next thing I know, he hit me over the head with a flashlight, and I fell to the ground.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER:  When “Shadows of Suspicion” continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  “Shadows of Suspicion” continues. 

Here again, Stone Phillips. 

PHILLIPS:  Returning to our story, it‘s been decades since the body of 14-year-old Robin Gilbert was found buried in leaves on a golf course in Reading, Massachusetts.  It was a puzzling death.  Back then, a medical examiner had ruled she had died of natural causes.  Now police claim it was murder. 

But after so many years, how could prosecutors prove their case? 

Here again, Hoda Kotb. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KOTB (voice-over):  In October of 2004, nearly 30 years after 14-year-old Robin Gilbert‘s death, David Jones, a former friend and neighbor, was about to stand trial for her murder.  Investigators say Jones might have never been charged if his own mother hadn‘t pointed a finger at him just before she died. 

Even though he was just 16 years old back in 1975, the prosecutor had succeeded in having the case moved out of juvenile court, so Jones would be tried as an adult. 

(on camera):  What was your theory about what happened to Robin that day in 1975? 

RICK GRUNDY, PROSECUTOR:  I think there was consensual kissing out on the ground.  And the defendant made the statement that she‘s not that type of girl when asked as to whether he was sexually involved with her and that he wasn‘t going to accept no for an answer. 

KOTB:  So you say he strangled her? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Correct. 

KOTB (voice-over):  But the challenges of getting a conviction would soon prove daunting. 

(on camera):  It‘s been on evidence.  It‘s been on witnesses.  It‘s been on just about everything.  Why did you take this case? 

GRUNDY:  It was 14-year-old girl who never had the opportunity to do a lot of things in life.  You‘re in there and you‘re fighting for somebody. 

KOTB:  Why fight for someone you never met, you never knew? 

GRUNDY:  Well, I feel that like I did meet her.  I certainly know her. 

I think of her as a friend.  And she means a lot to me. 

KOTB:  Who failed her?  GRUNDY:  Who didn‘t? 

KOTB (voice-over):  In his opening statement, prosecutor Rick Grundy conveyed the crux of the case. 

GRUNDY:  This defendant took Robin Gilbert out to the Meadowbrook Golf Course.  And when she decided, she proved to him that she wasn‘t that type of girl.  His hands on her neck choking her. 

KOTB (on camera):  Before considering David Jones‘ involvement, the prosecution had to first convince the jury of one fundamental premise, that the original diagnosis of heart failure was wrong.  Instead, the jury had to accept that Robin Gilbert had actually been killed. 

(voice-over):  Since the original medical examiner had died, the prosecution called Massachusetts chief medical examiner, Dr. Richard Evans.  He conducted the new autopsy with a new diagnosis, death by strangulation. 

DR. RICHARD EVANS, MASSACHUSETTS CHIEF MEDICAL EXAMINER:  When I say strangulation, I mean manual strangulation. 

KOTB:  The prosecution also called Detective Kevin Patterson to testify about the way Robin‘s body had been covered up and other crime scene details that seemed to confirm someone was involved in her death. 

KEVIN PATTERSON, INVESTIGATING OFFICER:  The photo I observed of Robin Gilbert once the debris had been removed showed Robin Gilbert‘s jersey or sweater to be torn or ripped and also her brassiere to be cut or torn and her breast exposed. 

It was a photograph that appeared to depict or show a drag mark across the second and third fairway originating from a pine knoll.  I observed cuts on Robin Gilbert‘s face, on the right side, near the eye, cheek and jaw. 

KOTB:  And if Robin had been killed, the prosecution maintained, only one person could have done it, the person who in a taped interrogation with police had placed himself at the crime scene, David Jones. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  On the date we‘re talking about, which is July 1, 1975, you met with Robin Gilbert? 

DAVID JONES, DEFENDANT:  Yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.  And you when you first met her, where did you meet her? 

JONES:  In front of her house. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  In front of her house.  And it‘s dark out.  And you‘re by yourself with her.  And then when—you go out to the golf course 100 yards and then what happens? 

JONES:  Sat down, talked.  Made out for a while. 

KOTB:  In fact, detectives testified that David Jones said this wasn‘t the first time he had secretly met Robin. 

PATTERSON:  He told us that, on a number of occasions, he would meet Robin, talk to her earlier in the day and make arrangements to meet her later, sometimes to go on the golf course to kiss and make out. 

KOTB:  The prosecution also tried to show that David Jones had a violent side.  Robin‘s sister testified about a very frightening incident several months after Robin‘s death.  One afternoon, she‘d come home from school.  She was shocked to find David Jones in her empty house.  To this day, she says she doesn‘t know why he was even there. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I walked back into the kitchen.  And he was going to—he was leaving.  And the next thing I know, he hit me over the head with a flashlight and I fell to the ground. 

KOTB:  One by one, the prosecution called people who loved Robin the most to help paint a picture of her, including her closest friend,  Susan Lusk. 

SUSAN LUSK, FRIEND OF GILBERT:  We became best friends.  We were—walked to school together, hung out together. 

KOTB (on camera):  Why was she important to your case?  She was just merely a 14-year-old friend? 

GRUNDY:  She represented what Robin could have been.  She was a person who has had the opportunity to live the next 30 years of her life, to be married, to work—she‘s a teacher—to have children. 

KOTB:  Jimmy Gilbert also testified.  After all, he‘d once known the defendant better than almost anyone. 

JIMMY GILBERT:  He‘s the defendant in the white shirt. 

KOTB:  The jury heard from many witnesses, but there was someone they would not hear from. 

(on camera):  Remember the woman who originally tipped off police and blew the case wide open, David Jones‘ aunt?  She told cops that David‘s mother said she always believed her own son was involved in Robin‘s death.  Well, the jury would never hear her story.  It was not admissible in court because it was secondhand, so essentially considered hearsay. 

(voice-over):  After more than 10 days in court, prosecutor Rick Grundy rested his case, saying David Jones shouldn‘t go unpunished for what happened so long ago. 

GRUNDY:  The truth does not change.

KOTB:  But was the state‘s case against David Jones on solid ground? 

The defense had plenty in store. 

ANNOUNCER:  A bombshell in court.  Did detectives perform a slight of hand? 

JOHN LACHANCE, ATTORNEY FOR JONES:  They brought some props to use to make David believe that they had all kinds of evidence against him. 

ANNOUNCER:  When “Shadows of Suspicion” continues. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  We continue  “Shadows of Suspicion.” 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

Please be seated.  Court is in session.

KOTB (voice-over):  David Jones was on trial for murdering Robin Gilbert in 1975, when she was just 14 years old and he was only 16.  The defense team hoped to prove his innocence by going back in time. 

Defense attorneys John LaChance and Eileen Agnes. 

EILEEN AGNES, ATTORNEY FOR JONES:  The original cause of death was an actual cause of death, myocarditis.  And the jury needed to go no further than that. 

LACHANCE:  The defense‘s theory is, it wasn‘t a murder at all.  It was an illness she had as a result of a virus. 

KOTB (on camera):  This wasn‘t a crime at all is what you‘re saying? 

LACHANCE:  That‘s correct. 

KOTB (voice-over):  To prove that, the defense called its own medical expert. 

AGNES:  My medical examiner goes down there, looks at the heart.  He

sees scarring, which is indicative of myocarditis, some fibrosis and only -

·         he was shocked.  He found that they couldn‘t rule out myocarditis as the cause of death. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My opinion is, there‘s no reason to change the cause of death based everything on that was done to this point. 

KOTB:  But what about the medical examiner who ruled Robin had been strangled?  The attorneys set out to discredit his findings, saying his analysis had been woefully incomplete and therefore he was in no position to conclude that Robin had been killed.  The defense said he hadn‘t even some of the original evidence from 1975. 

AGNES:  So, sir, you would agree with me that, at no time, have you ever see a photograph of the heart that was taken in 1975? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not that I remember. 

KOTB:  The defense attorneys wanted to undermine his credibility as a doctor and as a supervisor. 

AGNES:  Would you acknowledge, sir, that your offices had some problems with missing evidence? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There have been allegations of missing evidence now and then. 

KOTB:  The defense attorneys argued that even if there had been a murder, it would be impossible to solve.  Why?  Because they say, back in 1975, police did a sloppy, inept investigation. 

LACHANCE:  The investigation was a botched investigation. 

KOTB:  The defense went after the original detective, Ed Marchand, suggesting negligence in his investigation. 

LACHANCE:  Did you at some time make some notes about what you saw you that morning? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No. 

LACHANCE:  Did you make any notes during the course of the autopsy? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No. 

KOTB:  The defense argued that the chances of ever finding answers got worse over the years when police threw out ideas items from the case. 

LACHANCE:  Twenty-two years pass from the date Robin Gilbert was found dead.  During that period of time, evidence which could have been developed was lost.  Clothes were thrown out in 1985, the sweater, the bra, the socks, the underwear, the pants, the necklace, all of those items which may have contained trace evidence.

KOTB:  They argued that, since the evidence was gone, there was no proof to ever connect David Jones. 

AGNES:  There‘s no physical evidence, none, not a scintilla of physical evidence. 

KOTB (on camera):  There‘s nothing? 

AGNES:  Nothing. 

KOTB:  No DNA? 

AGNES:  No DNA.

KOTB:  No witnesses?  No nothing? 

(CROSSTALK)

AGNES:  No witnesses.  Nothing. 

KOTB (voice-over):  The attorneys tried to show that David Jones had been a good kid who wasn‘t capable of such a crime. 

AGNES:  He was a member of the Mormon Church and active in his church with his family, attending Reading High School, ran crosscountry, had a paper route, had a number of friends in the neighborhood. 

KOTB (on camera):  Sounds like an all-American kid. 

AGNES:  Fairly average, typical all-American kid. 

KOTB (voice-over):  The defense team also tried to raise the possibility of other potential suspects. 

(on camera):  Bob Billado (ph), the boyfriend, now, he was about 5 years older than she was at that time. 

LACHANCE:  That‘s correct. 

KOTB:  Why was he someone who you were paying special attention to? 

LACHANCE:  Because he was one of the last people that saw her alive. 

KOTB (voice-over):  But perhaps the biggest hurdle for the defense was the fact that David Jones had placed himself at the scene. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She would occasionally go out on the golf course with, is that correct?

JONES:  Yes. 

KOTB:  His attorneys attacked the tactics used by detectives to elicit that admission. 

AGNES:  How long was it into the interview before you turned on that tape recorder? 

PATTERSON:  About two hours. 

AGNES:  So it‘s fair to say, sir, we have no recording of the two hours prior to that time, correct? 

PATTERSON:  That‘s correct. 

KOTB:  The defense suggested that officers may have hoped to trick or scare Jones into a confession. 

LACHANCE:  They brought with them some props to use to make David believe that they had all kinds of evidence against him.  They brought with them a plastic bag, marked evidence with a torn sweater in it.  They went out and bought a bra and cut it in the front, so that it would look like they had the bra.  They brought with them a folder which had a blank pad in it marked DNA on the outside of it, so that somebody would infer that they had DNA evidence. 

LACHANCE:  You and Detective Patterson decided to take some props with you, correct? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We took some materials with us, yes.  I wouldn‘t necessarily—you call them props.  I don‘t know what I call them, but some materials, yes. 

LACHANCE:  This was their last chance to try to get enough evidence to charge him, because without a statement from him, they really had nothing. 

LACHANCE:  You had certain opinions, so you went down to Georgia, is that correct? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That‘s correct. 

LACHANCE:  To say that you were interested in his version of what happened is not quite right, true? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I wanted to hear from him what happened that night. 

KOTB:  And while David Jones my have admitted he was with Robin that night, the defense pointed out that, despite pressure from police, he never confessed to killing her.  In fact, he always denied any involvement in her death.

JONES:  She went to walk back to the road—roadway and I went to cut across the field to go home. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  OK.  All right.  So you separate on the golf course?

JONES:  Yes. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You go your separate ways from the golf course?

JONES:  Yes.   

KOTB:  The defense attorneys had presented their own witnesses, contradicting many of the prosecution‘s theories.  It was now time for a jury to decide whether or not Robin Gilbert had died of a rare heart condition or if she had been strangled.  And if she had been, was it at the hands of the defendant, David Jones?

ANNOUNCER:  And next, trouble in the jury room, days of deliberations. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  From almost the beginning, I was convinced that it was a murder.  But the real question was, who did it?

ANNOUNCER:  A difficult verdict when “Shadows of Suspicion” continues. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER:  And now the conclusions to “Shadows of Suspicion.”

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KOTB (voice-over):  It had been almost 30 years since Robin Gilbert died on that golf course.  In closing arguments, the prosecution hoped to convince this jury that not only was Robin Gilbert murdered, but that she died at the hands of David Jones. 

GRUNDY:  Ladies and gentlemen, in those early morning hours of July 2, 1975, this defendant was on her chest with one hand gripping her face and the other hand on her neck causing those injuries.  David Jones, with extreme atrocity and cruelty and deliberate premeditation, murdered Robin Gilbert. 

KOTB:  But the defense team contended there was nothing remotely concrete to even consider murder, let alone convict David Jones. 

AGNES:  There is no physical evidence in this case that connects David Jones to the death of Robin Gilbert.  You‘ve seen them, empty evidence bags, fake evidence bags.  This is not evidence.  It‘s only evidence because the police used this to distort the evidence in the case. 

There is no DNA evidence.  There is no identification of David Jones in this case.  There are multiple distortions in this case.  There is trickery.  There‘s illusion. 

KOTB:  It would not be an easy decision, no witnesses, no DNA, lost evidence.  So how would the jury reconcile so many missing pieces? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  To me, this case represented almost a mystery within a mystery within a mystery. 

KOTB:  Dateline spoke to three of the jurors, a salesman, a teacher and a software engineer.  Would this jury convict David Jones of first-degree murder or a lesser charge, voluntary manslaughter, or would this jury choose not to convict David Jones at all? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think I felt a lot of responsibility.  It was almost frightening, because we had a really big decision to make and I didn‘t want to make the wrong one. 

KOTB (on camera):  As you guys go back into the jury room, you‘re the foreman.  Everybody is there.  Was there a general consensus initially? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  No.  No, there was not a general consensus. 

KOTB (voice-over):  First of all, had the prosecution convinced the jury that Robin‘s death involved foul play? 

(on camera):  Donna (ph), first you guys had to figure out if a crime was committed at all.  Were there some confusing aspects of this, given you had one medical expert saying likely murder and one medical expert saying, no, this was just a rare heart ailment that struck this young girl? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It wasn‘t confusing to me after seeing the pictures of the crime scene and realizing there is just no way that she could have died naturally, being buried under sticks and leaves and brush.  Somebody had to be there involved with what had happened. 

KOTB (voice-over):  And if they thought somebody had to be there, would David Jones‘ own admission of being with Robin on the golf course be enough for this jury to connect him with the murder?  His statements on audiotape were critical to jurors. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  From almost the beginning, I was convinced there was a murder, but the real question was, who did it?  And that tape and what he said on that tape...

KOTB (on camera):  So, at that point, the strongest piece of evidence was his own words?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right. 

KOTB:  But the defense hope to scored points when it questioned the methods police used to get those words. 

(on camera):  And when the two detectives went to Georgia to talk to David Jones the first time, they showed up with some props, some fake evidence, a fake DNA thing in a fake folder that said, you know, evidence on it. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right. 

KOTB:  What did you think of that technique of police work? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I thought it was heavy-handed.  And maybe that‘s not—I thought it was bordering on deceptive. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I thought it was a little deceptive, too.  I thought it was a little bit toward the edge of trickery. 

KOTB (voice-over):  And what about the suggestion that there were other possible suspects, like Robin‘s 19-year-old boyfriend? 

(on camera):  Tom, what did you make of the whole Bob Billado (ph), the older boyfriend? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I definitely kind of viewed him as a suspect. 

KOTB:  Why? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, motive.  He was interested in her.  And she seemed to be, you know, dating him, but also being very friendly with other boys.  So there was a jealousy angle in there, too. 

KOTB (voice-over):  For the record, despite the defense‘s speculation, Robin‘s boyfriend was never implicated in any way.  The jury‘s job here was to determine whether or not there was enough to connect David Jones with the crime.  They wrangled with serious doubts. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The big question for me was, there was no physical evidence.  And there was no DNA.  There was no fingerprint.  There was no - - nothing under the fingernails, so there was no hard evidence. 

KOTB (on camera):  What made you think in your head, Tom, not guilty? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not enough evidence to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. 

KOTB:  Days of deliberation passed and the people outside the jury room were becoming the ones with the questions. 

(on camera):  When the jury was deliberating, that must have felt like forever, first day, then the second day. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  That was worse than testifying, I think.  When they went into the third day, then the fourth day, I think we started to lose our minds. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Jury entering.  All rise. 

KOTB (voice-over):  And then the moment.  A verdict had been reached. 

(on camera):  When you finally reached a decision, did you feel that, we‘ve done it; we did the right thing; we made the right choice? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, I did. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  (INAUDIBLE) Is the defendant guilty or not guilty? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Guilty. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Guilty to what, sir? 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Guilty to the lesser included offense of voluntary manslaughter. 

KOTB:  Jurors say in, the end it was the tape, David Jones‘ own words, that sealed his fate.  Jurors were convinced he killed Robin, but didn‘t find enough to consider it premeditated murder.  So, after 29 years, this case was finally over. 

(on camera):  When you heard the words, Jimmy, that came out, guilty, he was guilty of manslaughter, what was the first thing you thought? 

J. GILBERT:  I was relieved. 

He‘s the defendant in the white shirt.

When I had to identify him from the stand, I think I had a lot of closure just pointing at him. 

KOTB:  Why was that? 

J. GILBERT:  You know, that this was finally happening. 

KOTB:  You got to point the finger at the guy who did it. 

(voice-over):  The story now had a new ending for Robin‘s family and friends.  The tragedy they all endured brought the tight-knit group back together to close the book on this painful chapter. 

(on camera):  Do you feel that, finally, after 29 years, justice worked? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes, I do.  I‘ve been very angry at the—I guess you could call it the system over the years.  They have put a total new picture.  As my brother said, they painted a whole new picture about how things like this should be handled and how they can be handled.  And they restored a little of my faith in all of that. 

KOTB:  What did you say to Robin after this, this verdict or when you were at her grave site? 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I just told her, she‘s free. 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIPS:  David Jones is no longer free, his sentence, up to 20 years in prison.  Jones served six of those years just awaiting trial.  His attorneys are appealing his conviction and his sentence.

I‘m Stone Phillips.  And for all of us at NBC News, good night.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

END   

Copy: Content and programming copyright 2005 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED.  Transcription Copyright 2005 Voxant, Inc. ALL RIGHTS  RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce or redistribute the material except for user‘s personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon MSNBC and Voxant, Inc.‘s copyright or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.

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