Dateline   |  March 28, 2014

The Mystery on Bridle Path, part 10

Steve DeMocker’s defense team argues his DNA was never found at the murder scene, but someone else’s was: Jim Knapp, the man who lived in the guest house.

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

>>> five years. the state has had five years to put steve democker at the scene of the crime . but they cannot.

>> narrator: anybody paying attention to the bizarre murder case playing out in prescott, that could be a little suspicious of steve democker's behavior after the killing. a get away bag? but was he guilty of murder? no, they said. rather he was the victim of some detectives' tunnel vision , beginning with a sloppy investigation.

>> it was kind of a cavalcade of people roaming through this scene, that they didn't lock down, tromping through the footprints and tromping through the house. they didn't seal it off correctly. to me when somebody shows up on the scene and immediately points the finger on the ex-husband, then it's boom right on him.

>> it was always on him?

>> narrator: this is the interview with steve and the detectives the night carol was killed.

>> we have got a suspicious death and we have no other person right now.

>> in which you could hear the suspicion, said the defense. and steve , said the attorneys felt a cold fear overcoming him.

>> he's afraid of what's happening, that the investigation is all on him, they're not focusing on anything else, anybody else, they focus on him and he's wondering why no one will believe it.

>> narrator: that's the reason for the get away bag, he said. it wasn't because of guilt, it was because of terror.

>> you don't have know evidence that mr. democker tried to use the bag to three?

>> i believe that's precisely what he said. we found it before he could flee.

>> you're using a terms of art there, my question is very direct. he did not flee, did he?

>> no, he was not able to, no.

>> another terms of art. here's a very simple question. did mr. democker flee or not, that's a yes or no question.

>> no, he did not flee.

>> narrator: and steve 's sister sharon had a simple explanation for these coincidences the night of the murder, the circumstantial evidence , like his dead cell phone battery.

>> i think most of us can with cell phones can appreciate that later in the day, it's not uncommon for the battery to go.

>> but his ears perked up when part of it was less than a mile of bridle path .

>> he lived out there for years and so that was his favorite trail.

>> also the tracks they found on his property, the shoe prints must have been his, the tire tracks must have been his.

>> nobody knows whose those are. he did buy a pair at one point. he doesn't know if he kept them. he said he didnnever kept shoes more than six months. that bicycle tire is the tire that's on 80% of all the mountain bikes in the u.s. it's the most common tire. so there's nothing very distinctive about that. they wanted to be able to tell the jury that it was a match. they were not allowed to do that, because as the expert said, we have no idea if it's a match or not.

>> narrator: the defense called its own forensic pathologist to ask if the medical examiner is correct in his conclusion that the murder weapon was a golf club .

>> in regards to saying specifically this weapon, i can't.

>> i think the golf club as alfred hitchcock used to say, it's the mcguffin. it's the magic device torques tie it to democker, the golfer, the elitist, the rich guy who's --

>> but isn't there scientific evidence to say that that's a golf club head that hitter?

>> i r not a single person could say that that was a golf club . they all said it could have been a golf club . but they also said it could have been other weapons.

>> narrator: the defense argued, the investigation should have looked into others as well, for instance jim knapp who arrived at the scene almost immediately after deputies. it's like the guy who starts a fire who comes back to watch it burn. that's our feeling about mr. knapp , because it wasn't a little bit of evidence on mr. knapp , it was a mountain of evidence.

>> narrator: knapp says defense attorneys was in serious financial trouble and cooked up lies to get friends to lend him money.

>> he got to the point where he was lying about active cancer and asking people for financial help so he could take care of his cancer which he actually didn't have.

>> narrator: they said knapp wanted to buy a franchise business, a smoothy store with carol's divorce money. at one point, even introducing carol as his business partner . so was he obsessed with carol? his behavior with his former girlfriend when she tried to break up with him certainly seemed obsessive to her, she said. he wouldn't leave her along, kept sending her e-mails.

>> i kept wondering what was this man capable of? was he going to stalk? was he going to hurt me? my family? i felt threatened and i felt scared.

>> narrator: one more question, how did jim knapp 's fingerprints wind up on those financial documents that were printed the day of the murder and found slipped inside a magazine sitting on carol's kitchen counter . and how did carol's dna get -- that was evidence number 805, they called a dna expert.

>> you can see that all the way across that line, it's the same as jim knapp and different with steve democker.

>> on your analysis, james matches each one of these and steve democker doesn't?

>> that's right.

>> narrator: in fact neither steve democker's dna nor his fingerprints were ever found at the crime scene . were the police focused on democker all along and did he make a mistake like a frightened manage would.

>> once he's placed in custody and loses hope. that should not have been introduced in this trial. that's a whole separate trial, a whole separate issue.

>> narrator: the defense tried to keep that out of the trial, did not succeed.

>> because it makes him look like a bad, evil guy who used his daughters to help pay for his attorneys. that's a low, scummy thing to do. but none of that put him in the house, none of that put any dna on him, in his house, car, person, anything along those lines.

>> judge at this time t defense rests.

>> narrator: all along, steve 's family remained rock solid in his corner. his sister sharon said --

>> i want to think the best of my brother. the other part of it is, that no one showed me anything that changes my mind. there is no evidence to say, well, you know, you're not thinking about this. show me something.

>> but do you see your own kind of understandable family bias?

>> uh-huh.

>> affecting your judgment about these things?

>> if you can prove to me that this is what happens, then that's different. but i'm missing the big evidence that says that he was there.

>> narrator: and now, five years after the brutal murder on bridle path , a jury could finally get to decide, and steve would finally get his say.