Dateline   |  March 14, 2014

The House on Sumac Drive part 5

The state makes its case against Russ at trial, while his attorney defends him and tries to get additional evidence before the jury.

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

>> narrator: the case against russell faria went to trial in november 2013 , almost two years after betsy 's murder.

>> i don't know what to do.

>> narrator: prosecutors opened their case with that frantic 911 call the night that she died.

>> do you think that she's beyond help right now?

>> she's dead.

>> narrator: the state said it sounded suspiciously hysterical, like an act. betsy 's mother said it sounded to her like howls of guilt.

>> the 911 call was really goofy.

>> goofy?

>> oh, my god, oh, my god, what do i do? what do i do?

>> he loved her, didn't he?

>> uh-huh, that's what causes these crimes of passion.

>> narrator: if that wasn't suspicious enough, said the state, it was also russ 's clearly bogus suggestion that betsy killed herself, an obvious lie, they argued. after all, as they pointed out, the medical examiner discovered she had actually been stabbed more than 50 times. members of betsy 's family including her daughters testified that russ had a temper. the friend who drove betsy home that night, pam hupp told the jury what she told police, essentially that russ was a bad guy . the physical evidence said the state, also proved that russ committed the murder. that is betsy 's blood on his slippers and her blood on the bedroom light switch, even though she was killed in the living room. what's more, said the prosecutor, russ 's semen was found in betsy , showing he had sex with her before killing her. as the prosecutor put it to the jurors, he violates her one more time. and as for russ 's alibi, the prosecutor said it only made his movements that evening more suspicious, looked like he went out of his way to appear in front of cameras at multiple gas stations when he could have bought everything at one place. and his alibi to witnesses sounded --

>> they all were saying the exact same thing and the exact same monotones, it was unbelievable.

>> narrator: and that was in essence, the state's case against russ faria . to which defense attorney jooel schwartz said, are you kidding?

>> in my opinion, the man got charged with murder and then it snowballed from there.

>> narrator: one thing he said t receipts t cell tower pings, his friends' testimony, was a good an alibi as he had every seen. what stuck out to him was that there were also some very serious questions, like questions about pam hupp, who had bad mouthed russ .o he was one of the last people to see betsy alive. between 6:00 to 9:00 p.m ., when the window that betsy was thought to have died. inconsistencies stood out. to him anyone. example, betsy 's mom said pam told her, she didn't go into betsy 's house when she dropped her off that evening, but --

>> she told me a completely she said she went inside for 10 to 15 minutes .

>> narrator: another one? when she left the house, she said betsy was sitting on the couch. but in another interview which was videotaped, she said something didn't.

>> she may have still been on the couch, but today, it makes sense that she walked me to the door.

>> narrator: beginning at 7:21, she had not a answered phone calls , including one from her daughter who she had promised to answer.

>> at 7:27, there's a call from pam hupp's cell phone to betsy 's cell phone .

>> narrator: that one also went unanswered. but here's what pam told police about that 7:27 p.m . call.

>> initially she stated i called to let her know that i was home safe.

>> narrator: home? impossible, pam lived a half hour's drive away.

>> but where was she based on the cell tower try angulation?

>> she had not gotten, at the very most, three miles from the house, i think she was still at the house.

>> narrator: but the biggest question, said schwartz was about insurance. it seemed very odd that three days before the murder, someone, supposedly betsy made pam the beneficiary of betsy 's $150,000 life insurance policy.

>> and she got the money?

>> she got the money.

>> narrator: pam hold investigators she was one of betsy 's best friends and betsy wanted her to get the money to make sure her daughters got what they needed. but to make this important change, they went to a local library and had a young librarian, not a notary or any insurance company employee witness betsy 's signature on the change of beneficiary form. the whole thing seemed very fishy to schwartz .

>> i believed that betsy was conned in some way, shape or form into signing this policy without believing it would ever actually be sent to the insurance. company. which is why she never told anybody, including her own mother and her own sisters who she was very close with.

>> narrator: but the lead detective told the insurance company pam was not a suspect. and so the company cut her the check.

>> the husband always does it, so of course this is the guy who did it so i think that clouded their investigation. it's the only explanation in my eyes to explain what i consider to be a horribly deficient investigation.

>> narrator: plus later that same lead detective was preparing pam to testify at russ 's trial and warned her the defense would certainly bring up the issue.

>> one of the concerns that i have is, again, like i said, just because you're one of the last people to see betsy . you get this money given to you.

>> narrator: after all said the detective, pam did benefit from betsy 's death to the tune of $150,000.

>> they're going to suggest that you had something to do with the planning or the conspiracy to commit that murder because of your financial wind fall.

>> narrator: and not only that --

>> what you're originally told investigators is that you did this to try to get the kids taken care of because she's afraid russ will get it. but at of this date, you haven't turned any money over to the family or the kids?

>> no.

>> that's a huge problem.

>> narrator: the investigator said she should set up a trust for betsy 's daughter.

>> i told you that is my first phone call .

>> sure.

>> narrator: then the didnetective prepared pam for the key questions he thought the defense would ask.

>> have you had anything to do with betsy 's murder?

>> no, i have not.

>> narrator: attorney schwartz told the judge that indeed he did plan to ask pam hupp about all those things when she took the stand. but the judge said no. he could not ask about any of that because, said the judge, there was no direct connection between pam and the murder.

>> in the 25 years i've been practicing law , i have never -- a witness testifies, you can cross-examination the witness, that's a basic tenet of law, their bias, their interest, the fact that they are the last person with the victim, the fact that they just recently were given the victim's insurance under who knows what pretenses. the fact that they lied about going in the house. the fact that they lied about where they were when they called the victim, after being in the house, and i couldn't get into any of that. i have never seen anything like it.

>> narrator: both pam hupp and the district declined "dateline's" request for an interview. in any case, the case against russell faria wasn't over. russ had helpers as he set about killing his wife.