Dateline | January 25, 2013
>>> the comic book murder was a 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 , a second jury was behind closed doors deliberating. 21 years in all, and once again, michael george hadn't testified as was his right. his lawyers had put him through a mock cross-examination that sprang leaks. they said his memory was faulty after all that 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.
>> but the prosecutors believe his reluctance to testify was more about him not being able to stand up to the grilling he would have faced in a real cross-examination.
>> my wife was murdered, that's the most important day of my life and i forgot what happened that day? it's because maybe i talked myself out of wanting to remember.
>> i wanted to hear what he had to say.
>> these jurors said the entire panel was disappointed that it 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" talked to 10 of the 12 jurors and they told us the first vote revealed a split. seven guilties, five not.
>> and your not guilties, what? needed to be persuaded?
>> it was the robbery.
>> the clarification.
>> it was clarification and a couple had an idea that maybe the robbery did happen.
>> the central question for each juror was which story to believe, the comic book collector who said he talked on the phone to michael george in the shop just before the murder or the defendant's mother, his alibi witness that he was napping on his 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 that placed michael george at the scene of the crime .
>> so did the defense damage mike renaud's credibility by attacking him as a marijuana smoke, beer-guzzling college kid? not to this juror.
>> i think they were trying to personally attack him to get us to believe that he couldn't remember anything because he was a drug abuser. several questioned the mother's recollection of events.
>> i'm not saying she would lie for him, but, i mean, 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 was done.
>> all rise for a jury.
>> michael george cried quietly. his wife renee, remained stoic. on the benches across the court, barb's brother hoped for justice from a second jury.
>> it's 12 people. you don't know what they're thinking.
>> the foreperson read the verdicts. first degree premeditated murder of barbara george guilty, first degree premeditated murder . guilty, murder in the first degree and guilt oat other counts, as well. felony firearm and insurance fraud . michael george didn't break down this time. he closed his eyes and seemed to talk to himself. behind him his wife renee buried her head. barb's brother contained his joy 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's a murderer.
>> the prosecutors quietly con grad lated each other on the conviction.
>> it was a huge relief that finally the family was getting what they deserved, the justice they deserved.
>> michael george was led out of the courtroom to begin the rest of his life in prison , no possibility of parole. a terrible injustice as his staunch defense attorney saw it.
>> i was left with this case for four years and i don't see any evidence that he was there committing these crimes. this man is not a killer.
>> i don't know why god has put us through this. i do believe he loves us.
>> six weeks after the verdict, michael george did finally speak out, but as a convicted murderer at his pro forma sentencing killing.
>> the catastrophe of putting people away that are innocent has not started with me and will not end with me. before this, i've never been accused of any crime, nor domestic violence. i have no police ridiculous, no problem with drinking or drugs. i can only hope and pray that the lives that are destroyed by people being overzealous in the police community will find% with god above.
>> barb's brother joe expected nothing and said he got it.
>> once again, no apology. he thinks he's better than anybody else and he thought he was going get away with it.
>> as barb's family saw it since 1990 he did get away with murder until eric smith 's cold case unit finally made him pay.
>> do you still talk to barbara?
>> did you talk to her in the courtroom that day?
>> what did you say?
>> that i love her. that we miss her and that we finally got him and hopefully she can rest in peace and we can move on.
>> in the end it didn't take superheroes to get a conviction in the comic bookcase. the state had something better, tenacious prosecutors and a dedicated cold-case cop who like superman, believed in truth, justice and the american way .
>>> that's all for this edition of "dateline" friday. join us again for a special edition of "dateline" this tuesday at 10:00 , 9:00, central and i'll see you tomorrow on "today." i'm lester holt . for all of us at nbc news, good night.