Dateline   |  December 13, 2013

'Unstoppable' part 5

More than a decade after his wife’s tragic death, Jody Byrd is arrested and charged with her murder. Desta’s family is shocked that their trusted son-in-law could have been the killer, but best friend Christine feels justice is finally coming.

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

>>> inconsistent stories, a secret recordings. guilty husband. 12 years after desta byrd 's last day on earth, police believed they finally had enough to arrest jody byrd for murder. one word describes christine's reaction --

>> ecstatic.

>> after all those years.

>> it was unbelievable to me. it was a relief that finally they were going to do something about it.

>> also shocked, the dodsons. the district attorney broke the news to desta's parents who had stood with and supported their son-in-law, a man now wearing the state's handcuffs.

>> they told us that they had made an arrest with jody at his work on friday afternoon. and i just started bawling.

>> had you given up hope? you had.

>> pretty much. pretty much.

>> in that moment, the dodsons realized their complaints over the years about the police had been misdirected. they had been betrayed, not by the investigators but by jody .

>> he was going to face judgment. he was going to answer for it.

>> yet, if police thought now that after all this time the husband would confess all, they were wrong. in his post-arrest interview, jody byrd continued to proclaim his innocence.

>> i ain't got nothing left out. and i didn't kill may wife.

>> no matter how hard he was pushed to say otherwise --

>> are you aware you're facing capital murder ? son, listen to me. you have no idea the train that's coming after you. yes or no? stop [ bleep ] me.

>> i'm not [ bleep ] --

>> jody byrd insisted they had the wrong man.

>> i didn't kill my wife.

>> that's because, said his attorney, jody byrd was an innocent man. and the state couldn't prove otherwise.

>> there was no smoking gun. there was no forensic evidence.

>> there wasn't dna, there's no fingerprint.

>> right.

>> there's no witness ?n

>> right. see what is there?

>> no case, he said. but that's not how district attorney pamela casey saw it. she was the special prosecutor tapped to bring this to trial. yes, she said, there were challenges.

>> time.

>> so much time had passed.

>> so much time. if i heard, "i don't remember" once, i probably heard it a hundred time.

>> and there were pieces to this case she knew she couldn't bring up in court like a polygraph jody had taken years earlier in which police claimed he'd deliberately tried to mislead the examiner. but prosecutor casey thought she still had a strong case. when the trial began this past october, she said jody byrd 's word and actions would convict him. detective jamie martin testified that while this were no fingerprints found on the rifle, jody 's guilt was written all over his face that night of desta's death.

>> he was not teary-eyed, very composed.

>> not what you'd expect from someone who just found his wife dead.

>> no.

>> christine shattuck, who'd spent years trying to win justice for her friend, also testified about jody , describing him as a man who turned the once-bubbly desta into a beaten-down woman. she had a spark.

>> yes.

>> did she extinguish that for the sake of the marriage?

>> for the sake of being loyal. for the sake of maintaining the marriage.

>> at trial, prosecutor casey brought up jody 's 911 call.

>> my wife is laying out in the yard dead.

>> jody sound so composed talking to the operator. but it turns out that wasn't his first call. phone records prove he first tried to reach desta's parents twice. only after failing to do that did jody call 911.

>> if you think that this person may have some type of life in them, why are you -- what can mom and dad do that 911 can't do or that the paramedics couldn't do quicker?

>> it was jody 's missteps over the years, she said, that truly gave him up.

>> to the best of my memory --

>> a slipup, she says, was the post-arrest interview when jody described how he found desta that night.

>> her back was kind of facing the house.

>> lying her side. but that's not what he first told police . then he said she was flat on her back. her legs pointed downhill.

>> there's a difference between small details and very, very significant details. you know, from finding your wife laid out flat like this to her laying facedown like it, it's two very different things.

>> she also pointed to jody 's u.p.s. shirt, sunglasses, and paycheck found inside the house. suggesting that was where the trouble started that night.

>> i believe there was an argument that took place in the kitchen.

>> could desta have signaled her marriage was over? casey says something started a fate that night in the kitchen. then she believes desta went to check on the dog outside, and her husband followed, furious, and carrying the rifle.

>> i believe there was a confrontation that takes place outside in the front yard .

>> where, she says, jody snapped and shot desta in the head. the medical examiner said desta couldn't have lasted but a few minutes at most. remember, jody first told police he heard her gurgling and saw her eyes rolling. hearing her gurgling and seeing her eyes roll, those would be things that someone would see and would hear if they had just committed a murder.

>> correct.

>> the prosecutor told the court that jody byrd had for years tried everything to stay free. from pointing the finger at his own family to manipulating his in-laws to lying to police . he was, she said, a coward and worse, a killer.

>> evil.

>> calculating?

>> yes, evil and calculating.

>> or was he something else entirely? an innocent man trapped by investigators and hounded by his wife's best friend ? jody byrd 's defense had a very different story about a house on a lonely hill and the woman who died there all alone.