Dateline   |  September 27, 2013

Toxic, Part 8

After seven long years, the trial of Holly McFeeture for the murder of Matt Podolak begins with the prosecution building its case with testimony from Matt’s friends and one of Holly’s own.

Share This:

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

>> narrator: seven years of pestering the investigators, seven years after the suddagonizing death of his brother matt. holly mcfeature walked into the courtroom.

>> i finally felt we were going to take this happen.

>> narrator: the case against holly was possibly a reach. no guarantees here. and mark knew it.

>> i was extremely nervous. oh, my gosh. being in that courtroom. i have no idea how it's going to turn out.

>> narrator: truth was, the prosecution didn't have much to work with. without any hard evidence to pin on holly , their case boiled down to a process of elimination. someone did this to matt. who else could it have been other than his fiance?

>> in this case, telling a story would be crucial because there wasn't a whole lot else to do, right?

>> absolutely.

>> narrator: prosecutor brian mcdonough began his story with a scene inside the hospital room the night matt died.

>> his body was shutting down. his organs were systematically shut down.

>> narrator: and then matt's father, len podalak spoke in who about his son's final moments.

>> he would say, where's little man, and where's samantha.

>> narrator: a picture was passed around the courtroom, matt dead, lying on the autopsy table. mark began to cry. across the courtroom, so did holly . and then the coroner told the jury what he found during his autopsy. discoveries that became the core of the case against holly .

>> the cause of death was chronic intoxication by ethylene glycol.

>> he explained he found crystals in matt's heart and brain, having inched their deadly way through his body, kidneys to heart, to brain.

>> how much time would it take for the crystals to deposit themselves in the blood vessels of the heart?

>> it takes weeks at least.

>> the fact that crystals were forming in his heart and actually had traveled through his brain indicated long-term exposure and not a one-time deal.

>> matt's friends and family testified about watching matt disintegrate weeks and months before his death.

>> he would start sweating profusely and he complained of back pain.

>> he was sitting beside my and practically was hunched over to where his chest was on his knees.

>> narrator: who could have made that happen and how? investigators had found anti-freeze in holly and matt's garage. admittedly a year after holly had moved out. detective quinn took them out of the evidence bags for the jury to see, left them on the witness stand , a prop. a little courtroom theater.

>> a bottle of saturn anti-freeze and coolant.

>> narrator: take a look at those bottles, the prosecution seemed to be saying. and common sense would tell you it wasn't suicide, nobody would down anti-freeze on purpose, said the prosecutor, let alone bit by bit as dated in the coroner's report.

>> there was no suicide note . he didn't go ahead and give away his possessions. suicide did not make sense.

>> narrator: no, there was one person, the prosecutor argued and only one, who had the manes and the motive to poison matt, his fiance, holly mcfeature. then witnesses testified about matt and holly 's fierce arguments they couldn't help but overhear.

>> when we were fishing, that phone would be ringing every five minutes.

>> i told him he needed to protect himself and i told him that he should remove his shock gun from his house.

>> narrator: and far from being shattered by matt's death as her family claimed, prosecution witnesses described how holly sealed almost giddy after matt died.

>> what did you observe of the defendant?

>> a party atmosphere, like nothing had happened.

>> narrator: and then the prosecution called holly 's old friend, rebecca vega. if anybody had a ringside seat to holly 's life after matt, it was rebecca .

>> how was it to actually be in that courtroom, see her there and answer those questions?

>> narrator: rebecca told the jury holly didn't wait long to remove every trace of matt from the house.

>> it seemed that everything belonging to matt had been taken out of the home.

>> narrator: but it was what holly hadn't cleaned up. those bottles of chemicals on the kitchen floor.

>> one of the items was brought up as anti-freeze for matt's boat to winterize his boat.

>> i'm sorry, to what?

>> to winterize his boat.

>> but who winterizes their boat in summer?

>> narrator: matt died in july, so rebecca 's story was evidence that holly had access to anti-freeze around the time of matt's death.

>> she was able to put anti-freeze in the kitchen of holly mfeature after the death of matthew podalak.

>> narrator: now they needed to convince the jury that holly actually fed the an try freeze to matt. that would take a little doing. first several of matt's co-workers testified that holly sometimes dropped off lunch to the factory.

>> holly would bring it in every once in a while for him.

>> how many occasions do you recall that happening?

>> half a dozen.

>> and holly always made sure to include matt's favorite drink. half a gallon of more of raspberry iced tea . anti-freeze is tasteless.

>> you can't smell it, and you can't see it in the tea, you would have no way of knowing it was coming.

>> narrator: but why would she do such a thing? what was her motive? as the prosecution saw it at least, all those arguments that matt and holly were having represented the death throes of their relationship. he didn't want to lose custody of those kids.

>> so it was your claim that he was sticking like glue and to get rid of him she had to poison him?

>> that's what she saw as the way out.

>> narrator: sweeteninged by the fact that holly was the beneficiary of matt's life insurance policy and 401(k). he was worth $15,000 to him if he died.

>> that's chump change, basically, right?

>> $15,000 may be worth more than $15,000 to another.

>> to persuade the jury, that a hard working young mother, who always volunteered to help others, who coached a t-ball team, could at the same time be capable of cold blooded murder. the prosecution's star witness to come, the man who knew all about her violence and secrets and kissing and telling.