Dateline   |  September 27, 2013

Toxic, Part 12

Two families wait for a verdict that could send Holly to prison for the rest of her life. The jury’s decision comes painfully slowly, and surprises the courtroom.

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

>> tragedy.

>> narrator: this could be a close calm. the jury went out. no verdict at the end of that first day. or the next. matt's brother mark didn't know what to think.

>> you don't know if the jury being out long a bad thing or a good thing?

>> narrator: holly 's sister chrissy was nervous, but tried to be confident.

>> they had a man from --

>> narrator: at the end of day three, a verdict. holly was surrounded by her family. as the jury filed in, holly began mouthing the lord's prayer.

>> i understand you have reached a verdict in this case, is that correct?

>> narrator: and then the judge began to read.

>> we, the jury in this case, being duly sworn do find the defendant holly mcfeeture, guilty of aggravated murder, a violation of --

>> i heard those words, guilty and it was emotional.

>> narrator: mark turned to hug his mother, her face awash in tears. across the courtroom --

>> nobody could react because it was total shock. nobody was expecting that.

>> narrator: the guards came then, wrapped handcuffs around holly 's wrists, she shook her head no, she seemed to be reeling, the words less than a whisper.

>> she looked at me and she was gone.

>> what did that do to you?

>> it tore me apart. i really couldn't understand how this happened. it wasn't supposed to happen like this.

>> narrator: the defense team felt gutted. the prosecution's case had been so flimsy, they thought. what had gone wrong?

>> still don't know what happened.

>> narrator: this was not an easy one for prosecutors. the sort of case you walked away from, if you didn't let yourself get caught up.

>> what was it like to get your guilty verdict ?

>> it confirms the work that we do.

>> what made it good?

>> to be able to deliver something to the family that they believed from the beginning made it very satisfying.

>> narrator: a month later at the sentencing, holly 's sister wanted the judge to know what the children thought, that their mother was not a murderer. and that they were begging him, send her home to them.

>> my mom is the greatest mom in the world. and because she is sweet and kind. i really want to see her again. i really mishs her. i wish i could have my mom back.

>> narrator: and matt's father, a former cop had become an ordained minister . and he had come to a decision.

>> i have come to a point where i have for given holly . and i ask you to temper justice with mercy.

>> i just have one simple question. why? why put someone in unimaginable pain when you could have just walked away from the relationship. why continue to poison someone when you could have stopped? and why take him away from hiss children that he so dearly loved.

>> the nature of the crime and the case can not be overlooked in this matter and the court's going to impose a sentence of life with parole eligibility after 34 years.

>> narrator: holly mcfeeture won't be eligible for parole for 30 years. but is it over? no. the process of appeal has begun and so has the struggle over the futures of the children. they're living with holly 's family now, matt's parents haven't seen them in years.

>> we want them in our life. we want them to know who their dad was.

>> en t

>> narrator: the night before holly was shipped out to begin her life sentence , chrissy took them to see holly . they spoke over a jailhouse phone.

>> that was very hard to watch. i had to turn away, numerous times because, like i said, it was just heart breaking knowing that they couldn't just touch and she couldn't touch her babies that she loved so much.

>> narrator: and mark podolak, goes where he always goes on the anniversary of matt's death, to talk to his brother a at the cemetery, this year with a lot more to say.

>> i hope they're proud of you, big brother , a little bit, because hopefully i helped you rest in peace a little bit more than you have been.

>> narrator: and this year there will still be a podolak playing amateur hockey in cleveland. matt loved the game. mark took it up in his memory. and since matt can't be here to play, said mark, he'll play for him. that's all for this edition of