Dateline   |  January 17, 2014

'Deadly Deceit' part 5

A suspect’s wife joins forces with police to implicate her own husband in her stepson’s death.

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

>>> cindy carlson was willing to play the sympathetic wife with the man she had come to fear and hate. that's how badly she wanted her husband out of her life and locked away. so when police asked her to wear a wire and meet him for lunch again, she jumped at the chance.

>> i was actually calm because i knew that carl believed my story of wanting to get back together.

>> abigail's restaurants near seneca falls would be the meeting place. it was mid-november, 2012 . you had undercover officers in the restaurant?

>> we had four in there.

>> were they diners, waiters?

>> diners.

>> there was very little evidence against carl carlson . so the detectives desperate needed cindy to get him to repeat what she claimed was his confession to levi 's murder. obviously carl was suspicious.

>> part of me feels like i'm walking into a booby trap .

>> yeah, i can imagine you would feel that way. i had to convince him that, you know, it wasn't a trap. i offered for him to check my purse.

>> then she got him back on the subject of that day in 2008 .

>> i asked you if you pushed the truck, and you said yes.

>> i didn't push the truck, i said. no, i said i had nothing to do -- but i said, i took advantage of the situation when it happened. and that is exactly what happened.

>> carl , you told me that you didn't set it up that way, but when you were in there, you saw the opportunity.

>> after it happened. then i saw the opportunity.

>> detective clear was struck by that exchange. how could a father call his son's death an opportunity?

>> at that moment i felt i understood him to a degree. this is someone who doesn't think like we do.

>> that said, this exchange with cindy was no confession, and the evidence so far was circumstantial. the insurance, the radio, carl 's visit to the barn. still, detectives believed they had enough to bring him in for questioning.

>> go ahead and have a seat, carl .

>> it was the moment of truth . if carlson refused to speak or called in a lawyer, the case could evaporate. but carlson couldn't resist talking about himself.

>> you know, you work -- i work multiple jobs and stuff like that. and i mean, i worked my ass off.

>> we were talking about his favorite subject -- him.

>> carl said he found levi dead after returning home just like he told the police in 2008 .

>> went out there and found him. and then we went to the hospital.

>> what do you mean you found him?

>> i found him dead.

>> okay.

>> the truck was on him.

>> carlson insisted levi 's death was an accident. it couldn't have been anything else.

>> you don't kill your son. you don't kill anybody for money.

>> detective clear decided to change tactics.

>> there's not a conscience at play. there's not empathy to play to. what do we play to some what does he have? he has an ego, and it's a big one. so that's the strategy that we shifted to which is i gave him sympathy and attention.

>> it seemed to work. as the hours ticked by, carlson 's story began to change. and then he dropped a bombshell.

>> version two came out where he was already dead before they left to go to the funeral.

>> i made a decision to walk out on my son and not get out from underneath the truck.

>> why?

>> i panicked.

>> at that point, there's no doubt in my mind what happened here.

>> detectives continued to push, and as the interrogation stretched into its eighth hour, carlson finally broke. he admitted he didn't just find levi under the truck, he saw the truck fall, and he may have even caused it to fall.

>> opened the truck door because i had to get inside to move the [ bleep ] truck. when i did, it tipped -- it fell over.

>> and then clear pushed a little more, and that's when carl admitted he left his son to die.

>> the real truth is you did kill him. whether -- whatever your intent was, the action you took caused the truck to fall on him --

>> the action -- yeah.

>> the inaction of leaving him there --

>> right. contributed or whatever.

>> yeah.

>> he wasn't painting himself as a cold, calculated killer.

>> no. he seemed to think it was a better picture to say that i accidentally caused this thing to fall and walked away and left him to die on the floor. come with me, you're under arrest.

>> carl carlson was charged with second-degree murder. not long after that, he got a lawyer. and when they came to court, carl used a walker claiming old injuries were getting the best of him. his attorney said police coerced carl , and the cindy tapes violated spousal privilege. the judge denied the defense notion suppress, and the trial was sets for november 6th , 2013 . all japanese years, mike carlson had mis -- all these years, mike carlson had misgivings about carl 's behavior. after watching the interrogation video, his worst fear was cemented -- that his own brother was a killerme. and now he had a new fear. as the trial approached, did you think that the evidence was overwhelming and that it was pretty clear carl was going to go away?

>> i was probably more scared as the trial approached that it wasn't a slam-dunk.