Dateline   |  July 26, 2013

'Mystery at Ascot Estates,' Part 5

The defense argues that Bryan was the one who killed Tammy.

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

>>> brett parker had declared a resounding not guilty to the murder of his wife tammy and friend bryan capnerhurst. from the day it happened to this moment in court, he insisted that he was the innocent victim of a robbery gone bad.

>> who shot your wife?

>> my friend, bryan .

>> is he still there.

>> i shot him. i think i killed him.

>> defense attorney david fedor said the accusation that brett plotted to kill his wife and then framed his friend was too far-fetched to believe.

>> i think brett is a fine young man. 'not a genius. it would have taken an einstein to set this thing up.

>> would it tack a genius, though, to concoct a plan like that.

>> i think i'm fairly bright and i'll be damned if i could have thought it up.

>> bryan capnerhurst fired that handgun.

>> his attorney said bryan capnerhurst was a desperate man with far more motive for murder.

>> a man at the end of his rope who had a desire for money and a plantar violence. and the evidence in this case is going to prove it.

>> still, the defense thought it had an uphill battle. fedor knew it didn't help his case that his client was an unfaith ullr husband and gambler.

>> they showed he was a bad man because he gambled. he had an affair. they said that was another thing that showed he was a murderer. it was just ludicrous.

>> from the start, fedor and co-counsel mark whitlock wanted the jury to know, okay, sure, brett , a gambler himself was deep in debt, but he was in debt to an old friend he had known since he was 15.

>> you weren't worried about that, were you.

>> i never was worried about brett .

>> as a matter of fact of fact, if he called you and said you were a problem you would have wiped the whole thing clean for him.

>> we would have worked something out, sir.

>> you never put any pressure on him or called him up and said i'm going to come get you.

>> no, sir.

>> that life insurance policy the prosecution suggested was a smoking gun , they testified he wasn't all that interested on an insurance policy for tammy .

>> did you attempt to sell him an insurance policy on his wife tammy .

>> yes.

>> were you successful in selling him insurance to his wife.

>> i was not.

>> tammy had taken out the insurance on her own and instead of claiming a dime for himself, brett had already signed the insurance money over to his kids.

>> did he tell you directly, mr. spell, that he wanted this money to go to the children?

>> yes.

>> and remember those downstairs blinds, the ones with the gunshot residue the prosecution said had been left by brett before bryan even arrived.

>> proof that he killed tammy ahead of time and then looked through the blinds to see bryan coming.

>> they stated that, but they didn't prove that.

>> a defense expert suggestsed the fine particles had merely drifted to that blind even days later.

>> if you have an air handling system like we have in most buildings and houses, over a period of time it will be sucked through the intakes and distributed fairly evenly through a place.

>> and that curious matter of the toilet seat being up when logically it should have been down.

>> and that's about as definitive?

>> yes.

>> objection, your honor. i move to have that stricken.

>> when the prosecution tried to enter that as evidence in court, the defense successfully objected. his attorney told us it was just a family habit to leave the toilet seat up to make things easier for their young son.

>> he has a 6-year-old child. every time the child comes in from school or anyplace else he runs to the bathroom right away. brett and his wife always put the seat up.

>> he hears shots fired in his house and he's going to think about putting the toilet seat up?

>> it's an automatic reaction if you do it every day.

>> it was explainable behavior, the motive was flimsy said the defense . now it attacked the state's forensic evidence . the defense used the amount of gunshot residue found on brett 's hands to undermine the theory that brett had shot his wife with one gun and his friend with another arguing there just wasn't enough gun residue on his hands to have fired both weapons.

>> if he fired both the 9 millimeter and the 410 revolver in combination, i would expect his levels to be very high.

>> all right. well, what did you find in this case?

>> well, his levels are consistent with someone who has fired a firearm, certainly, but they're not extremely high.

>> and the defense argued that bryan did have gunshot residue on his hands, proving he could have killed tammy .

>> certainly that's not the only way in which gunshot residue can be had. but it is consistent with firing a gun.

>> and there was the prosecution's theory that the gun in bryan 's hand had been placed there after his death. that he could never have held on to it after being shot himself . the state claims that it would have been impossible for bryan to have that gun in his hand given that the severe injury that he sustained to his arm?

>> that was hogwash. many, many people have a death grip. if you're shot and you've got something in your hand you squeeze it tighter.

>> and the idea that bryan would never have had a gun, a friend of brett 's, robert bauer says that's just not true. he wasn't asked to tell his story in court, but says that a month before the killings he was at the parker home and saw bryan handling one of brett 's guns with ease.

>> he took all the bullets out and handed the clip and handed me that and happened me a revolver which he took the bullets out with and i hear his friend said he would never touch a gun.

>> brett told investigators he had given bryan that 9 millimeter handgun for protection and in a dramatic move, the defense brought in a witness to confirm that. brett and tammy 's 14-year-old daughter brooke .

>> bryan and my dad were discussing a gun that my dad had, and they were just talking about how they thought it was good for him to have safety at his house and to protect bryan 's family.

>> are you talking about mr. capnerhurst?

>> yes, sir.

>> having young brooke testify was controversial. but brett 's aunt knew brooke believed her father was innocent and wanted to take the stand.

>> she had some information that needed to be given and she did what she felt like she needed to do.

>> she wanted the jury to hear her story. no matter how difficult it was to tell.

>> witnessed them talking about how he was giving a gun to bryan and not lying about that. i was there and i remember.

>> it was a tragedy that had stirred up the quiet waters of this carolina community and soon a jury would have to decide who was to blame. but before they did, the defense wanted them to hear from the only person alive who really knew what happened in the house