Dateline   |  September 27, 2013

Toxic, Part 7

The prosecution may lack enough hard evidence to make a conviction, but can a convicted felon’s story of a booze-induced night with Holly pop the cork on this case?

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

>> narrator: in the summer of 2011 , five years gone, matt podalak's death was still an unsolved mystery. all that time, mark podalak had neglected his own life to prove that holly was the killer.

>> i know that relationships with friends suffered, ultimately led to me getting a divorce. it was destructive on all levels because you focus on a certain mission.

>> and you're so damn angry.

>> and i'm angry.

>> narrator: even angrier now, if that's possible. but things have changed, the case was reclassified as a homicide. but holly was living her life, free, no charges filed.

>> i became frustrated, i ability ain't going to lie.

>> so he asked us to look into the case on facebook.

>> i can't tell you how many times she's cried, knowing that people are saying that she's a murder and that this loving mom and softball coach can kill a man that she loves.

>> narrator: but day by day , sergeant mike quinn was closing in on holly . one big thing, one solid piece of evidence was all he needed and maybe, he and the prosecutors decided, maybe a jail bird could provide. holly briefly dated a man named kennedy . and according to kennedy , during a wine and sex driven evening, holly made some kind of confession. this, thought the prosecutors was gold.

>> what did he claim he heard?

>> he claimed to have heard holly mcfeature confess by saying she put something in his drinks.

>> narrator: prosecutor brian mcdonna.

>> but that she wanted to stop but that his kidneys had failed. and that was compelling evidence.

>> narrator: but always something, mr. kennedy wasn't the church pastor, in fact he was in county jail , under arrest for beating up some cops. so a snitch.

>> as a prosecutor, we don't like informants. but what was so compelling about his testimony was that he was the only person to have that knowledge.

>> how would he have that knowledge? where would he hear that?

>> he heard that from her lips to his ears.

>> narrator: but how could they possibly prove it? one possible way, sneaky, but it might work. they set up a phone call , kennedy in prison, called holly . and they turned on a tape recorder.

>> hello?

>> holly .

>> yes.

>> do you know who this is?

>> yeah, hi, jameson.

>> sometimes things need work, sometimes they don't. just how it is with investigations of this sort. suffice it to say, the call wasn't everything they hoped it would be. so here they were at a kind of crossroads, do they go forward? or do they drop it. they have a jailhouse snitch, with multiple felony commissions. a woman who offers to get rid of her husband, might have been real or imagined. at most, might have amounted to a paltry 15 grand. and a dixie chick's karaoke, the performance of which could have been monstrously cruel or perfectly innocent. still, who else could have done it?

>> the details of the case are very salacious.

>> prosecutor allison ford.

>> there's sex, there's the allegation of poisoning, it's very interesting and it's certainly enough to keep anyone's attention, but that doesn't make it necessarily a strong case or a dead bang winner for trial.

>> narrator: and so the prosecutors consulted mark and his family. they were all committed now. all emotionally attached. but the family should decide.

>> they said, this is where we are. he laid it all out and he said, we can take our shot and see where this goes and --

>> and you might lose?

>> we might lose. and we all agreed that we wanted to go with it. we have suffered long enough.

>> case number 564265, holly mcfeature.

>> narrator: so in 2012 , six years after matt podalak's death, holly mcfeature was indicted for aggravated murder and contaminating a substance for human consumption. this was serious, maximum sentence, life without parole . her attorney brett jordan applied for bail.

>> she was scared, she missed her kids. i would say probably in some state of shock at that point.

>> narrator: the judge took a look at the circumstantial case against her and granted the bail request. half a million bond with an ankle bracelet. but though the case was not the strongest, there was publicity, anti-freeze poisoning? holly was suddenly famous. and not in a good way. the old brooklyn little league told the once beloved coach she wasn't welcome anymore. and holly mcfeature prepared to defend her life in court.