Dateline   |  May 15, 2013

May 15: 'Behind Closed Doors', Part 6

The jury deliberates... Jeffery Pyne could be convicted of first degree murder which is a life sentence, 2nd degree murder which could mean as little as 13 1/2 years in prison, or not guilty.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> and it just happens to be the defendant's house.

>> the only verdict this case requires is a verdict of not guilty. thank you.

>> reporter: as the trial came to an end, jeffrey pyne's family hoped and even believed that he would be home for christmas .

>> i thought that we had a real good chance. i thought that the jury would come back with a not guilty verdict .

>> reporter: jeffrey 's aunt susan remained certain he was innocent. what's more, she says, there was just no evidence to convict him.

>> i could not see him doing that and coming away with no evidence. it should have been somewhere. it should have been on him somewhere.

>> the blood?

>> something. is he that good? i mean, really.

>> reporter: as jurors retired to deliberate, they faced three choices -- guilty of first-degree murder, which meant a life sentence . guilty of second-degree murder, which could mean as little as 13 1/2 years, possibly even less. or not guilty.

>> waiting for that verdict was tough. i didn't know what to think.

>> reporter: day one, no verdict. then a second day.

>> you always wonder if the longer they're out, is it the worse for the prosecution.

>> the verdict is reached by the jury. is it --

>> reporter: finally, on the third day came the news. a verdict. the courtroom was hushed.

>> we the jury find the defendant guilty of second-degree murder.

>> i went over to bernie , and i hugged him, and i apologized that i didn't get the job done.

>> a very good closure for us, but at the same point also, you know, sad.

>> there's a dead woman here. and there's a family that's destroyed.

>> reporter: outside in the hallway jeffrey 's father was numb.

>> i wasn't there to protect my wife when i needed to be. and i wasn't able to get my son son -- first of all, i believe in my son's innocence. and i wasn't able to get him home for his sister for christmas.

>> julia broke. and she said, "no, dad, no." and she said that over and over again. the pain that she felt was like nothing she's -- i think that was harder on her than losing her mom.

>> reporter: bernie 's friends, carol and john stako were stunned. she criticized the defense for not calling witnesses. she believed it might have swayed the jury.

>> you know, the prosecution did a great job of building this case about this poor abused child. that wasn't his whole life.

>> that wasn't his whole life.

>> it was a small part of his life.

>> there were good times and there were bad. and you can say that about any household.

>> i don't understand why his attorney did not put people on the stand to testify about the pine household.

>> i have a statement i'd like to read, your honor.

>> reporter: weeks later on sentencing day jeffrey pine spoke up for the first time.

>> i continue and will always maintain my innocence in this crime. i hope and have faith that one day the truth will be made known and i will be acquitted.

>> reporter: and he asked for leniency.

>> i do, however, ask you for compassion in my sentencing. in doing so considering that i have no previous criminal record, no history of violence, that i was a productive member of society.

>> reporter: family members added their pleas for compassion.

>> i am ruth pyne's sister.

>> reporter: believing in jeffrey 's innocence.

>> i feel that this case was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt .

>> i am sure that my son had nothing to do with this but must try to live with the verdict.

>> reporter: jeffrey , so stoic throughout the trial, began to quiver and finally broke down when his father read the judge a letter from his little sister , julia .

>> my name is julia pyne. i am 12 years old. and i am a victim of this crime. i miss my mom, ruth, very much. my brother jeffrey and i are very close, and i miss him very much as well. he is a great big brother , and i ask you to send him home very soon, to me and my dad, because we love him very much.

>> reporter: the judge wasn't swayed.

>> i believe that until jeffrey acknowledges his role in this crime and finds a way to deal with the anger and rage that caused him to do such a horrible act it is not safe for him to be free.

>> reporter: he sentenced jeffrey to 20 to 60 years in prison.

>> this is beyond surreal. i know that jeffrey didn't harm his mother. and yet he sits in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

>> reporter: bernie pyne will proclaim his son's innocence until the day he dies. he's pinning his hopes on an appeal for a new trial.

>> on a daily basis i think about all aspects of this, and it just doesn't make sense.

>> the court stands adjourned.

>> i mourn not only for my wife but my son. it is a pain that doesn't go away. it's a living agony.

>> reporter: jeffrey once told his teacher he wanted to study medicine to find a cure for his mother. he told others that he'd trade places with her if he could. now jeffrey pyne, the one-time valedictorian, will spend at least 20 years behind bars for ending