Dateline   |  September 27, 2013

Toxic, Part 10

Now it’s the defense's turn to show that the prosecution’s case is a house of cards, built on gossip, heresay, and no hard facts.

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

>> narrator: for almost a week, holly mcfeature's family sat in a courtroom listening to prosecutors accuse holly of drip by drip, ounce by ounce feeding her fiance the poison, and watching him die. monstrous, evil, and, said her family, completely untrue. just nasty gossip, gussied up as ed.

>> it's just a bunch of people talking bad about my sister.

>> such a one-sided burn her at the stake type of scenario.

>> narrator: defense attorneys brett jordan agreed.

>> it was all just finger pointing without any basis.

>> narrator: now they knew they would have too tell the jury something they personally believed in their gut, that holly mcfeature was wrongly accused. the defense began by putting some negative cards on the table. holly and matt had been fighting a lot, but that was hardly a surprise, two babies, one of them colicky and matt was out fishing all the time.

>> you can't say just because somebody's arguing every day, that's a sign of hatred and i'm going to kill that person.

>> narrator: and that story that went around about holly 's behavior at matt's funeral, something how became this big myth that holly didn't care.

>> i can tell you right now that holly didn't care.

>> so you can crawl in her mind and you can tell everybody here what she was thinking?

>> no, you can read it on her face.

>> read it on her face.

>> you don't have to be crying your eyes out at a funeral to not be grieving.

>> narrator: no, the defense argued, all the testimony mall lining holly 's behavior was really a product of six-plus years of rumor and innuendo, which according to matt's family, hard onned into sounding like truth, even if it wasn't.

>> narrator: if you listen to the witnesses, even holly 's friend, they all turned away once they talked to the detective.

>> that was certainly the case, said the defense , when holly 's friend rebecca vague zba.

>> narrator: after she heard from the police, said the defense , did she begin saying what she said at the trial.

>> but you have no idea how that man died, do you?

>> i didn't have to see physical proof.

>> i asked the question, you have no idea how that man died, do you?

>> not to my knowledge, no.

>> did the memory of all those happy days rebecca spent with holly suddenly sprout with suspicion once the detectives whispered in rebecca 's ear?

>> narrator: holly has children, and she's very careful. and i know she would not leave chemicals like that just lying around the house.

>> no, the assault on holly by her former friend, the defense said, was just a smoke screen, for the hard evidence the prosecution did not add. like anything connecting holly to the murder weapon, by which, of course you mean the anti-freeze. remember those two bottles of anti-freeze investigators found in holly and matt's house, after she moved out?

>> narrator: a blue bottle of peak an antifreeze and coolant.

>> the prosecution showed them off like the crown jewels , all the while knowing they had no connection with no prints on the bottles, no indication the anti-freeze was even the same kind. no indication the bottles were in holly 's house.

>> those two bottles were not linked to matthew podalak at all?

>> what was the point in that?

>> exactly. there wasn't any.

>> were they implying a connection? you're grasping.

>> another defense weakness, was the prosecution's theory that holly disguised the anti-freeze in matt's beloved raspberry iced tea .

>> narrator: do you know how that iced tea got into that thermous?

>> there was nothing ever connecting that it was even iced tea .

>> and the motive, the prosecution suggested, the modest life insurance money? laughable, said the defense . wouldn't even buy a decent car. besides, holly said she had no idea it even existed.

>> narrator: the question is, do you have any personal knowledge about how they actually knew there was a life insurance rider on his health insurance ?

>> i can't say that they did.

>> but holly 's defense attorneys did have a big problem, no getting around it, that pillow talk with jamison kennedy. if they could knock him down, they were done.

>> narrator: