Dateline   |  June 14, 2013

Deception, Part 10

Denis Ratte, caught by an elaborate undercover sting, begins his trial for murder.

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

>> be.

>>> denis ratte caught by an elaborate undercover sting, a confessor to murder, sat in jail while outside his two children, anna and gabriel , battled over whether he belonged there. anna thought the confession finally proved it. her father was guilty. but she stood alone. most of her family sided with gabriel . there was no evidence, said denis ' sister. and no motive.

>> she was the breadwinner. she was the brains of the operation. she was his everything. he lost the house, he lost kids had, he lost his whole life. why would he kill her?

>> in his confessions, denis said he had a reason that would seem so twisted neither police nor anyone else believed it. wendy, he said, was said to have a split personality. denis claimed on the day he killed her, he knew wendy's alter ego shanna was going to sexually assault anna , and of course he couldn't let that happen.

>> translator: i had no choice. save the little girl . save my little girl .

>> what did you think when you heard that?

>> i was disgusted. of all the lies you could have said for why, you had to involve me again.

>> it was all too much for anna . the lies, the betrayals. and now her dear brother refusing to share her outrage. he want very much to think that your father's not guilty.

>> i know. and i can't blame him.

>> you think he's living in la-la-land?

>> i think he didn't see what i saw. he wasn't there. i was up to my neck in investigation trying to find mom. and i can absolutely understand wanting to be blind to -- to the truth. because i was there, too.

>> you know, i don't want to speak badly about my sister. i really don't. but she -- because of her activism in trying to find my mother for so many years, it was a lot easier for her i think to put everything aside and create a solution. me, i'm happy to live with a question mark . i'm not going to pretend it's anything else.

>> why don't you want to see something, some kind of evidence to back up what you've seen on tape?

>> the look in his eye on that tape was --

>> that's all you needed?

>> that's what i needed.

>> or is it that you cannot stand live nig kind of doubt any longer? you had to make a decision, and that was the decision you made?

>> absolutely not. i saw the truth on his face in that tape.

>> the man who ran the undercover sting, lead investigator robert burret, insisted his team took all precautions to make sure denis did not lie when he met with mr. big.

>> we're always mindful of false confessions --

>> allegations are made all the time, i suppose.

>> correct. i think no loved one really want to believe that someone they know and care about could be responsible for somebody's murder.

>> in fact, the mr. big undercover technique has been repeatedly upheld by canada's supreme court . and although the rcmp did not find any physical evidence to corroborate denis ' confession to mr. big and his gang, it turned out they did have evidence that was much more compelling. they got it after denis ratte was arrested.

>> by that point in time, denis ratte's read all his rights that he's provided under the canadian law . he had access --

>> sure. he could have said, ah, i thought i was talking to a crime boss . i thought i was lying to him.

>> absolutely.

>> he didn't?

>> no, he didn't.

>> whether denis was arrested, he had no idea he'd been caught in a sting and that his confession to mr. big was on tape. but then police showed him the video.

>> translator: does there come back to you? is it coming back to you, denis ?

>> at first for almost an hour, denis seemed to be in denial.

>> translator: i have never said that, that i killed her, first of all.

>> translator: yeah, but, we know that you killed her.

>> translator: no, i never said it.

>> translator: you said it there, denis .

>> translator: i said it there?

>> translator: yes.

>> that's when the investigator decided to show another tape. the one police made of gabriel the day they told him they'd arrested his father.

>> translator: so essentially, your son is asking you to tell the truth.

>> and then a couple of minutes later, a silent nod from denis . and he began to confess again. the same details. the gunshot, the tarp, the carjack.

>> translator: she didn't suffer.

>> translator: she didn't suffer? it was fast?

>> translator: it still hurts.

>> it had been a heavy burden to carry that with him all those years, said denis .

>> translator: you know, it's hard. you know, someone who looks at you and -- i've always loved my wife. i still love her even. we were friends, okay?

>> translator: you have killed your friend?

>> translator: yes. it took everything for me to do it. i even cried when i did it.

>> there. he admitted it. and this time --

>> translator: check the tapes. it's all true.

>> translator: it's all true what you told them?

>> translator: it was all true.

>> translator: you didn't tell any lies at all?

>> a confession is the strongest evidence anybody gets. generally does the deed.

>> uh-huh.

>> and that was a pretty detailed confession, not just one but twice.

>> and that's the one i don't understand more than anything. i've asked him more than once, why did you confess when you knew you were in front of a police officer , why wouldn't you say, oh, well, of course i didn't do it? you know, i was just trying to get in with this organization? and you know, he didn't have much of an answer. so if there's an ounce of -- of me not believing him, it's there. this is the biggest weak not in the story.

>> but given the continued absence of any physical evidence , that second confession still wasn't enough to convince gabriel his father killed his mother. is it possible, though, that you're living in denial?

>> no. you're not the first person to ask me.

>> i bet.

>> i've definitely thought it it, right? but i think i'm very balanced about it. i can be swayed by the evidence whether it is going to be for or against my dad. so show me the evidence.

>> were denis ' two confessions evidence enough? a jury was about to decide. a brother and sister were prepared to fight for what they believe was right even if that meant