Dateline   |  March 28, 2014

The Mystery on Bridle Path, part 7

The trial of Steve DeMocker begins in June 2010. The prosecution reveals he had the motive and means to kill his ex-wife, Carol Kennedy.

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

>> narrator: summer, 2010 , two years after carol kennedy 's murder, american flags were once again draped around the town square , in anticipation of the annual rodeo, and inside the courthouse, county attorney joe butner kicked off off the trial of steve democker. attorney butner told the jury, the case was no less condemning.

>> i will ask you to find the defendant guilty of the first-degree premeditated murder .

>> narrator: first he said, steve had motives and not just that $6,000 a month in alimony. no. carol said the prosecutor was worth a lot of money dead.

>> the evidence will show that at the time of her death, that steven democker was the owner and beneficiary of two life insurance policies, the total value of those life insurance policies was $750,000.

>> narrator: steve and carol 's daughters katie and charlotte were in court, and sitting behind their father. attorney rich robinson .

>> to have your father accused of murder and for them not to believe it, you can't imagine what that must have done to how they view things. that's got to be a horrible experience.

>> narrator: defense attorney john seer was quick to address that life insurance money.

>> their father told them early, this is your money from your mother, not mine. he disclaimed any money offered to the girls.

>> narrator: the prosecutors called the first witness, charlotte democker, steve and carol 's elder daughter.

>> did she have a habit of what she did when she came home from work.

>> she did. she typically went for a run probably four days a week out in the back land.

>> and to your knowledge, would she leave the door unlocked when she did that?

>> narrator: on the stand, carol 's mother ruth kennedy had to relive that very last phone call with her daughter, how exactly did it ending so abruptly? she told the sheriff's department operator that carol had screamed, oh, no.

>> you just said that oh, no, in a certain way with certain emphasis, is that the way she said it to your recollection.

>> she said oh, no, basically that's the way it came out.

>> did she scream?

>> it really was not a scream. i'm sure it was because i was so rattled myself, she just said, oh, no. that's all she said. and basically in that tone of voice. like it was more dismay.

>> narrator: this was very difficult for ruth, as you can imagine.

>> she was everything a mother would want in a daughter. she was a good mother.

>> narrator: charlotte, the younger democker daughter was living with steve that summer, she was at steve 's highways the night of the murder when he was unreachable for five hours and said his cell phone was dead.

>> did your father normally have spare batteries with him?

>> sometimes in his car.

>> did he carry them in his car and also in his briefcase?

>> it's possible, i don't know.

>> normally he was reachable by way of his cell phone , is that right?

>> yes.

>> narrator: and when he got home that night, those scratches, suspicious, according to the prosecution.

>> did you ask about those scratches?

>> yes.

>> what did he say?

>> he said they were from branchs from riding his bike.

>> and then there was the weird golf cover. it was in the garage the night of the murder, but was gone when detectives returned with another search warrant. the implication was that the cover fit the club never found that killed carol . jacob said that after the detectives left, he talked to steve .

>> what was that conversation?

>> the golf head sock cover was found after they left.

>> he said he had found it?

>> yes.

>> did he say what he was going to do with it?

>> he didn't know whether or not to turn it into the police or give it to his lawyer.

>> implying to the prosecution, that steve knew the golf sock could incriminate him, and didn't know what to do with it. but just as the case seemed to be building momentum, two week into the trial, judges thomas lindhberg left the bench at lunch break, and suddenly collapsed. it was a brain tumor. and everybody waited for five weeks until a brand-new judge was appointed so they could pick up with testimony right where they left off. and that's when the jurors finally got to hear what became of the missing golf cover. detective teresa kennedy showed it to the jurors. and the judge explained a stipulation made by the attorneys. turns out days after the murder, steve gave the golf sock to his lawyer who kept it in his office until his arrest. that's when sears turned it over to investigators. a bit of confusion, an investigative dead end . prosecutors weren't done, mind you, they next tried to tie steve to the crime scene . didn't find any of steve 's dna or fingerprints at carol 's house. but they did see those tire tracks, the criminalists compared them with the tires on steve 's bike.

>> the tread on this tire is similar to the tread of this tire track.

>> and did you find any discernible differences between them?

>> no, i did not.

>> and those shoe prints , they brought in an expert from the fbi.

>> did you find any shoes that schemed to be comparable to the impressions that you observed in these photos from the crime scene ?

>> yes, i found one shoe that could have made those impression impressions.

>> narrator: records showed that steve bought a pair of those shoes a year before. prosecutors knew they had a big problem, that anonymous e-mail linking the murder, not to steve , but to jim knapp and illegal drugs. so even as the trial went on. the investigator was interviewing and reinterviewing witnesses.

>> it was obvious to me that she was very protective of mr. democker.

>> steve began dating-they were together during steve 's divorce, carol 's murder, renee had always stood by steve and his family. but lachey had a feeling.

>> we were pretty convinced she knew more than she was telling us.

>> narrator: lachey knew something else too. during the trial, renee broke up with steve . so on the eve of her testimony, lachey interviewed renee again about that anonymous e-mail. what did he discover? explosive is not too big a word.