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I'm Lester Holt.
Tonight on Dateline, a dramatic new twist in the case of a doctor, his wife and the mysterious end to her life.
Oh, my God, I heard her screams on that call were so raw and so real. I can't believe I'm losing Leslie. He walked into the bathroom and he found her on the floor and he sort of thought, gosh, what a terrible accident, she slept in the shower.
If the shower is way over here. What is she doing way over here?
I thought there's no way she fell in here and died. Did you feel like Leslie was talking to you from the grave? Yes, she's telling me what happened. Leslie was murdered. People were floored. This was the biggest stunner that we had seen in a very long time.
Here's Andrea Canning with Return to Shalimar Way. In a quiet suburban town outside of Syracuse, New York, there's a street called Shalimar Way, a winding cul de sac lined with well adorned mansions, swimming pools and tennis courts. Take this final turn, and there behind the trees lies one of the streets, crown jewels, an 8000 square foot home owned by a couple who seem to have it all, a close family wealth, prestige.
They were very involved in the community. Both of them spent their lives giving back. Life was good here.
That is until the morning of September 17th, 2012. Oh, my God.
It was just before eight thirty a.m., Dr. Robert Newlander, an OBGYN, had returned from a job to discover his wife, Leslie, on the floor of the bathroom shower. He yelled to his 23 year old daughter, Jenna, to call for help.
My mother, I don't know if she's breathing, but he's laying on the ground in the shower, unconscious. I don't know. I was awake and I don't think I need to go over there to see if she's OK.
Jenna headed for her parents bathroom.
Where are you going? To get somebody started, ma'am. All right. OK.
Sergeant Tom Norton of the DeWitt Police Department was nearby when the call went out over the radio.
I hear a unconscious person call, which we get those all the time. A female had slipped and fell in the shower and she was unconscious. That was all the information you had. Those all that I knew going into this.
Norton made his way to the house. EMTs were already there.
I went inside. This house is enormous. And I'm following the noise. And I go upstairs and I'm in this office area. And there's a gentleman who I later learned was Dr. Newlander. And there was a female who I later learned was just Newlander. She was on the floor and she was just screaming hysterically and she just kept screaming Mommy over and over again. And it made me focus on her because, like, why she reacting to this, you know, I mean, we go to people who are passed out all the time.
Before Norton could get his bearings, a paramedic emerged from the bedroom where the victim was being worked on.
He says to Dr. Newlander, I'm going to speak to you on your level as a physician. There's nothing that we can do for her. I'm asking for your permission to stop CPR. And I'm like, stop CPR. I mean, this is so much just unconscious. What do you mean stop CPR? And that made Jenna scream even more. That was also the moment when Sergeant Norton realized just who Dr. Newlander was and that they had a personal connection.
My wife used to go to him. Oh, OK. So he was really on your radar?
I didn't know him personally, but yeah, I knew who he was. Did he deliver your child?
His midwife did, but his office did. It's a bit of a coincidence.
They're correct. Yeah, it was strange.
While another officer stayed with the new landers, Norton decided to take a look around and I walked past them into this bedroom and I just immediately stopped in the doorway because of what I was seeing. What are you seeing? Off to my right? I see the paramedics working on a female. She's on a backboard. There's a lot of blood around her blood, presumably from a head wound after that fall.
And then I look off to my left and that's the entrance to the bathroom. And there's just blood all over. It's marble floor. There's blood all over the floor. It's on the walls.
Norton walked over to get a closer look at Leslie. Her hair was matted with blood and he noticed her left eye.
It was closed and swollen and completely black. And I'm looking at it and, you know, I'm like, well, I've seen people with black eyes. I mean, I've been doing this a long time. And that was unlike any black I've ever seen. Leslie was officially declared dead at the scene. The news would be impossible for friends like Mary Jane Belzec to absorb.
I was confused at first. I thought maybe the information was incorrect. Did you say how details? I think I couldn't even ask that question initially because I was too overwhelmed with the news. I just cried.
Another friend, Terry Bar, heard the news from her daughter, who was close with Jenna. I just didn't believe it. I just thought, this can't be true. Jenna had sent out a group text to her friends that my mother's died. She fell in the shower, I think is what it said.
Terry got in her car and headed straight for the new landers. What are you thinking as you're driving to the New Year?
Can you believe it? I just thought I can't believe I'm losing Leslie.
And all you know is that it's an accident, right? And it just sounded so freaky, freaky for sure.
After reviewing the scene, Sergeant Norton made a quick assessment. He wasn't going home any time soon as the fire chief to remove all of his personnel from the bedroom.
Paramedics, everybody. I wanted them all out so I didn't have to worry about contamination. I called my captain. I told him, quite frankly, said, I don't know what I have, but you need to come here. Crime scene experts were on the way, but what would they find, an accident or something much darker?
It was the start of a mystery that would torment a community for years to come. When we come back, what had happened to Leslie, what a loss this was. She's very healthy. She's Sladek, she's strong. It was almost unimaginable.
And Sergeant Norton is about to make a curious discovery. She was moved over 50 feet from where the shower was. So if the shower is way over here, what is she doing way over here? Leslie Neulander was dead after a fall in the shower, but responding officer Tom Norton had questions about the scene, for one, why he found her body in the bedroom, not the bathroom.
She was moved over 50 feet from where the shower was. So that's going through my mind. If the shower is way over here, what is she doing way over here? And there was that strange looking black guy answers would have to come from the county medical examiner, the M.E. was the next person to arrive, along with evidence techs and a lead detective.
I remember he spent quite a bit of time looking at the head injury, which was just massive, you know, her skull fracture. Norton, listen, does the M.E. reviewed the scene? Yes, there was a lot of blood, but head wounds bleed profusely.
And the location of Leslie's body didn't seem troubling, Dr. Newlander told paramedics he carried her to the bedroom so he could perform CPR. As for that black eye, the M.E. said it had resulted from her fall.
He was explaining that when you have an injury to the skull on the right side, it's common for it to bleed into the left side. Her eye was pulled with blood. He explained to us that the injury was very common.
When you fall and hit your head, did the black eye explanation put things a little more into perspective for you?
Yes, that made sense right there at the scene. The M.E. concluded that Leslie's death was an accident, just as the family said he made the determination that it was consistent with an accidental slip and fall in the shower. Are you a little surprised? You know, I'm not a medical examiner. So, I mean, I take his word for what he's seen. All that was left for police to do was collect their things. I told my evidence technician, you know, he's ruled it accidental.
Finish what you're doing and you know, and pack up your stuff.
The house was turned over to the grieving family. Mary Jane Balik knew it wouldn't be easy for Leslie's many loved ones to say goodbye.
What a loss this was for Bob, for Janna, for her other kids, for the community, for her friends. It was almost unimaginable.
Mary says that together, Leslie and Bob were a force to be reckoned with. They just always seem to have a very powerful public persona. They had two lovely children from their marriage together. They were also very friendly and successful and gregarious. So they seemed to have the perfect life, good friends, a close knit family, not to mention that sprawling home on Shalimar Way house in the Caribbean, too. But Mary says Leslie didn't flaunt it, so she had the fancy house.
But it might as well have been a shack.
Yeah, she was totally unpretentious. Despite her social status, she was very able to relate to anyone on any any level.
Bob was well liked to. He'd built a successful medical practice, working hard to earn a reputation as one of the top OB GYNs in the area.
He was definitely a very good doctor and he definitely delivered a lot of babies.
Leslie's friend Terri is a labor and delivery nurse who worked for Bob for a couple of years. Was he really calm under pressure?
Yes, he was very good in an emergency. Leslie had a career in medicine, too, she was a nurse before giving it up to be a stay at home mom to Jenna and their younger son, Ari. She also played stepmom to Bob's kids from his first marriage, absolutely adored them and definitely made them the priority in her life. And the kids deep affection for their mom is clear in this tribute they made for her sixtieth birthday.
Thank you for being here.
And I mean, the video was later posted on YouTube where the daughters joked about Leslie's unforgettable New York accent she had ever known from New York.
I don't understand. How does everyone know I'm from New York? Hmm. Yeah, I don't know, Mom.
It was that accent that drew friend Kevin Robbie to her. They met one day while waiting in line at Starbucks.
She was probably four or five people in front of me. A loud, big hair, you know, Long Island accent. You recognized it right away. Oh, immediately. I mean, you probably could have heard her a half block away easily.
They immediately hit it off like Leslie did with so many others in town.
I used to joke with her she should run for mayor of Syracuse. Everyone here knows you.
Everyone, Leslie and Bob were also known for their contributions to local charities. What was it about them that they wanted to give back?
I think there's a certain amount of responsibility. One feels when you live in a small community, a sense of responsibility that extended to their dearest friends. Friends like Mary, she'd had a rough year was hospitalized after complications from a serious fall. The new landers were right there to support her.
The whole family came over to my house to welcome back. And all four Bob Leslie, Jana, R.E. were all there. You could have died.
Yes, I was very close to death as she hugged me and kissed me and said, it's amazing to think that a little fall like that could cause you so much trouble.
Wow. Now those are kind of prophetic words. Sad, really? Yes. Leslie's fatal fall happened just two days after that visit, did that seem odd to you that you had just gone through this life changing event with a fall and now here your close friend is has died from a fall?
Well, it's I certainly ask the question that everyone ask, why now? Why me?
Why, my friend, she's six years old. She's very healthy. She's athletic, she's strong. Well, quirky, weird things do happen.
Mary had no idea at the time how much her friend's death would consume her or the role she would be asked to play to solve a mystery. Coming up, she explained to me that the room had a lot of blood in it. Did that strike you as odd at all?
I thought it was very unusual doubts about how Leslie died.
People aren't putting the pieces to this puzzle together, and somebody needs to do that. When Dateline continues. Not long after the police pulled out of the Newlander driveway, the day Leslie died, her friend Terry pulled in the mood inside the house was intensely sad.
The family is in the living room and everybody's obviously, you know, very upset and crying and hugging each other. What do you say when you walk into a situation like that?
I'm really sorry. I'm just very sorry.
It was especially heartbreaking for her to see Leslie's daughter, Jenna.
I think she really relied on her mom. I think her mother was her real rock.
So Terry was glad to help.
Later that evening, when Jenna asked for a favor, she asked me if I would make sure that there wasn't blood on the floor in her mother's room before I left blood in her mother's room.
Terry didn't understand. She thought Leslie had fallen in the shower. She pulled the new Lenders' housekeeper aside.
What did she say about the situation? She explained to me that the room had a lot of blood in it and that they tried cleaning and Kim couldn't get it all up.
Did that strike you as odd at all or. I thought it was very unusual because I didn't think that a closed head injury from a fall in the shower would have any blood.
Terry, the train nurse, decided to see for herself. She got a chill the minute she crossed the threshold. There was blood in the bedroom pools and pools of it. The housekeeper was also perplexed.
She said, this doesn't make sense. This just doesn't make sense. Together, they got down on their hands and knees and tried to clean up the blood, but there was just too much of it and it was soaked deep into the carpet.
I can only imagine that must be awful. It was absolutely awful. It was absolutely awful.
All the while, a disturbing thought was taking root, one Terry dared not say out loud.
Where does your mind go from there to the obvious? I think that that Leslie been killed. You have to assume that when things don't make sense.
What had happened to her friend Terry was utterly confused. She didn't know that the medical examiner had already investigated at the scene and ruled the death an accident, or that Bob had given an explanation for all that blood, saying he moved the body. Her mind raced as she went back downstairs to comfort the family.
I think I just blocked it. I just blocked it. Were you being a little bit of an actress in a way that I. Sure, definitely.
Definitely. I have to be something I'm not right now. I have to feel something or express something that I'm not feeling. Absolutely.
Terry had to keep a straight face because she says Leslie's family seemed so certain about what happened. That included daughter Jenna, who'd been in the room that morning. It was just a fall in the shower.
Yeah, my mom died in an accident. Yeah. And it was left of that.
By the next day, the story was making its way around town, the tragic fall in the shower that took Lesley New Lander's life. I mean, who would ever think that that would happen to anyone?
Megan Coleman is an anchor at NBC affiliate STRØM. She says everyone was as shocked by the circumstances as they were sympathetic to Dr. Newlander. Tens of thousands of people have a connection to this man. He had been at the bedside when all of these women were bringing their children into the world.
People loved him. Not only did Megan report on the Newlander story, but like so many in this town, she also knew the doctor personally.
A few months before Leslie died, he took part in a ceremony for Megan's newborn son. Leslie was there, too. They were warm.
They were engaging.
She had this beautiful smile. No one would ever have thought that, you know, anything like this could happen to her. And I think generally everyone was just stunned.
During Chiva the Jewish mourning period, friends and family came in droves to support Bob Mary. Jim Belak was still bedridden after her own fall, so her husband went alone.
So he went over to visit and to represent our family, to talk to the family. How is Bob coping? Withdrawn, really. It's almost like losing your compass.
Yes, there was people, you know, every day at the house bringing food and staying for several hours.
Terry went to she says that after several days of hosting, Bob was spent by the end of the evening. Bob was very annoyed by having people still in his house and he was glad to see it end.
Terry visited the new landers frequently that first week.
She says she was even at the house when Bob got a phone call letting him know that Leslie's death was officially being filed as an accident.
And I thought, well, then this is a closed case and everybody's accepting. It seems to be. But Terri couldn't let it go, not for her friend, Leslie, did you ever feel like a little bit of a detective or something that you were? I did. I felt like there people aren't aren't putting the pieces to this puzzle together. And somebody needs to do that. Coming up, you went to see a psychic, a medium Terry seeks help from another realm.
She said, I know who your friend is. Then she went on to describe Leslie. She said, well, she struck in the head.
A month had passed since the heartbreaking death of Leslie Neulander, that's just about when the friend she'd met at Starbucks, Nevine Ruby, learned she was gone. They'd been close, but ran in different circles, had different friends. No one knew to call him about the funeral.
It was like a Monday. And I just remember I just woke up an hour before my alarm and I just went over to my computer and I just typed her first and last name and there was her obituary and I was like in shock.
Terry had been in shock at first, too, but now that had been replaced by a deep sense of unease to her.
The fall in the shower story just didn't add up. She kept waiting for someone, anyone to pull her aside and share similar doubts.
You're just kind of waiting for your phone to ring in somebody else to call and say, I think what you think and what you know, what do you think happened? But weeks turned into months and nobody's doing that.
Terry helped Leslie's sister clear some of Leslie's things out of the house.
Does she have any thoughts on what had happened or she never discussed it. And you didn't feel comfortable bringing up your suspicions? No, I just assumed she would bring it up to me.
It all left Terry in a very lonely place.
Did that weigh on you, that feeling of maybe it's not my business? No, it never weighed. I mean, it's not my business. Wait, Amy, why aren't people doing anything, you know, when there was some certainly hesitancy because you don't want to be the person that's out there being judged by the whole community, like, why are you going against them? That's not a good position to be in for anybody. Are you just every day waking up and this is like on your brain morning, noon and night?
Mm hmm. And that's what I struggled with for a very long time. Where do you go and what do you do with no one to talk to?
Terry latched on to what many would consider a kooky idea. What if she could talk to Leslie, find out what really happened?
If you went to see a psychic medium, what's the difference between a psychic and a medium? A psychic predicts a future, a medium as somebody that speaks to the dead. Oh, OK. Terri says she didn't give the medium details, just said, I'm here to talk about a friend, but sure enough, the media seemed to key right in on lesslie. And she said, I know who your friend is. I've seen her before. And then she went on to describe Lesley, how she was a big community leader, very involved in everything, very vivacious, lots of curls in her hair.
Did you say the name Leslie Newlyn? Never. Never. Leslie had actually been at a reading where this woman had been, but it was a big group reading and had never spoken directly to Leslie.
And according to Terry, the medium also seemed to know that her friend was dead. She said, I see that she died from a head injury. She's holding her head. Her head hurts so bad. And I said, yes. And she said, you know, was she ill? And I said, no. She said, well, she's struck in the head, struck in the head, said the medium by the one person who would have been in the bedroom with her that morning, her husband.
Did you believe the medium? Absolutely.
Because when somebody can describe a bedroom to you and describe the puddles of blood and everything about and describe the person, what they look like in their in their real life, had any of this been out in the navia, never.
Terri was more convinced than ever that her suspicions were right. But she still didn't know where to take them. She reached out to her priest for advice. He suggested she call the police, but Terri believed the case was closed. Why would the words of a medium changed that? So she decided to try someone else.
I thought that she would be the perfect person to ask. A year earlier, Terri had gone to a book club meeting at Leslie's house. The plot of the book involved a coroner. I believe it was a story that took place in England. It was definitely an interesting book, and it just so happened that there was a real life medical examiner in the club, an expert on death. And I remember Mary saying, you know, if you ever have questions about things that you're wondering, you can always ask me.
Mary is the Mary, you know, Mary Jean Belloc. She's not just a friend of Leslie's, but also a doctor, the retired chief medical examiner for Onondaga County, where the new landers lived. Terry picked up the phone.
Was that a hard call to make, even to Mary? Oh, it finally opening up about these feelings you're having.
It was it was tough.
Definitely was tough, but it must have been nagging at you so hard that you just had to. Yes, I think that that's how I felt like nobody's doing anything for Lesley and I. Am I going to just sit back and let this happen or is there somebody that can help me understand this and know what the right thing to do is?
To say Mary was skeptical would be an understatement. Twenty plus years of criminal justice experience told her Terry was probably way off base.
I had faith in the system and I knew there had to have been some investigation concerning the death. And if there was anything, then it would have come out there. There would have been some news about it and there had been nothing. I thought, I'm not sure why you're worried about this right now. I would imagine most people would say, come on now, it's Bob. She fell in the shower, leave it alone. Right.
And that's pretty much what I said. Plus, she knew from her own recent fall just how easily accidents can happen. Happened to me. I fell. Who would have thought I would get so sick? It's very, very sad. But things do happen still.
Her training told her it was important to hear Terry out. When I was medical examiner, I would have family members coming in to tell me about what they thought about the circumstances of the death. And I always took those visits very seriously. You have to consider what someone's saying, whether or not they understand what they're saying or whether or not they have the forensic detail.
So Mary listened intently as Terry described the blood she saw in the bedroom and even told her about that conversation with the medium.
In the end, Mary didn't feel alarmed at all.
Nothing struck me that I needed to make someone aware of these concerns.
Mary thought Terry's imagination may have gotten the best of her. I thought maybe she was right, you know, and maybe I am jump into the wrong conclusion.
Still, given how disturbed Terry seemed to be, Mary offered her a suggestion.
I said you should go to the police and make statements. If you have all of these concerns, you really need to just tell someone officially what your concerns are, because telling me in this informal manner is I don't think you're going to get past it. Did you feel like by going to the police this will put an end to it? Yes. And we can clear the air and move on?
Yes, I did. Coming up, two days after her death, an investigator received an. This letter regarding this case, what is in the letter, some information about their personal life. Did this letter writer have secrets to reveal?
Is your detective son starting to tingle a little bit?
Well, yeah, it is when Dateline continues.
In the weeks after Leslie Neulander death, Terry Bah found herself increasingly angry, her friend Leslie was too lively, too young to be gone. I felt robbed. What did you think about as far as what you were going to miss out on with your friend and just being able to run things by her? And I think there's no goodbye in a very tragic way. And she wasn't upset just for herself, but for Leslie, to all those sunset milestones, her friend would never get to experience seeing Jenna get married and seeing her kids grow up and have their own families.
I think that was huge. Definitely. She was looking forward to those times.
Her friend Mary, the trained medical examiner, had dismissed Terry's suspicions. But Terry was medically trained herself. And as Bob's nurse, who'd worked alongside him for years, something nagged at her. Bob's decision to move Leslie to the bedroom for CPR.
Bob was very good in an emergency, and it is instinct, family or not, to kick into saving mode. And we all know not to move a body to Terri.
It seems strange that Bob would move Leslie unless he wasn't telling the truth about why he moved her and if he was lying. Terry thought there was only one horrifying conclusion to draw that Dr. Newlander had killed his wife. I was just crushed for her. I was you know, I was just very crushed that you think you can trust somebody and and they're not who you think they are and how how awful that must have been for her.
But with the community rallying around the doctor, Terri mostly kept those thoughts to herself.
Did friends and family see Bob as the grieving husband? Yes, they definitely did.
I think definitely he had a lot of support. Then a few months after Leslie's death, Terri unexpectedly found herself face to face with the police.
It just happened, coincidentally, that a police officer came into an office that I was working in. And I asked him a couple questions and he said, I think you need to, you know, have a conversation with my partner. Was your biggest fear that the family would find out you went to the dentist? Very uncomfortable. It was there would be very uncomfortable. Yes.
To avoid being seen at the police station, Terry arranged for a detective to come to her house. His name is Scott Capral. He's the detective who was at the scene that morning with Sergeant Norton, the responding officer.
I personally have seen a lot of wounds over the 22 years of my career from Falls and not from falls. And I've never seen a wound that bad.
But like the sergeant, he deferred to the medical examiner.
We're dealing with different experts in the field and he is an expert and we respect him. And I guess every fall is different. That's right.
Terry told the detective how tortured she'd been over Leslie's death. I said to Scott, My life is living Dateline.
That's what I feel like I'm living. And this needs to, you know. Come to a conclusion, the detective couldn't share details with Terry, but it turns out she wasn't the first family friend to express doubts about the case. Despite all the public support and sympathy for Dr. Newlander, he says whispers in the community had already reached his office.
We started to hear some just some comments coming in from the community. Nothing that we went out and solicited. But it was, you know, via other police officers that may have seen someone else.
The DA's office had also received a letter two days after her death, were contacted by an investigator from the district attorney's office who advises us that they received an anonymous letter regarding this case.
What is in the letter and what does it mean for the case? The letter basically outlined some information about their personal life.
Enough that we were clear that whoever wrote the anonymous letter felt that we should continue looking at it.
According to the letter, this wealthy power couple was having financial problems. Police wanted to speak with whomever wrote it. Were there any clues in the letter? Did it sound like it was maybe from a family friend or relative?
You know, obviously the letter was written by someone that had some sort of knowledge of their life was obviously something someone didn't make up try as they might.
They couldn't figure out who wrote the letter. Nonetheless, Detective Capral did some investigating, taking written statements from both Bob and Jenna.
I looked at his daughter Jenna's affidavit, and it was exactly what you expect from someone in her position. His was a little different, his contained, in my opinion, quite a few areas that needed follow up.
But before the detective could question him, Dr. Newlander requested an attorney. Did anything seem suspicious about that? No. In this profession, that's something that you have to look at and and not even take a second glance. If any lawyer might say, yeah, he made the right decision. Sure. Yeah. That had been more or less the extent of the investigation, but now the detective was sitting across from someone who knew the New Zealanders well, he wanted to know more about their life, those finances.
Terry confirmed that despite the beautiful home, Bob and Leslie had taken a big financial hit. A billing dispute had caused the area's largest health insurer to drop Bob's medical practice. Terry, who was working for him at the time, saw the storm coming.
I said, you know, if you lose your Blue Cross and Blue Shield patients, that's a third of our practice and that means layoffs.
So he said that I was the only person that had perceived that.
And that's just what happened.
Dr Newlander had to let Terry and several others go. I think he genuinely felt bad and hoped that things would change. You know, when I did come back briefly, there was an influx of some new patients. And so I did he did call me and asked me to come back briefly, and I did. And then I was again laid off. Was that kind of the beginning of the end for his practice? Yes, definitely.
One of the patients who left his practice during the insurance dispute was the wife of responding officer, Sergeant Norton, when he lost his contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield.
She was forced to find a different physician where she kind of disappointed about that. Yes, she was very disappointed. She liked going to him. Yes. She thought that he was he was a good physician.
So the New Zealanders had money. Trouble is, your detective son's starting to tingle a little bit that.
Well, yeah, it is.
But again, we follow protocol. And according to the M.E., Leslie's death was an accident. He is the expert in his field and we rely on him. If he explains to us that this is the situation that it looks like to him than than we have to go with that.
If only there was someone else in town who could offer a second opinion, perhaps it was time to consult a certain retired medical examiner. Coming up, you probably didn't want to believe that this wasn't an accident. I didn't I didn't want to believe that. A new look at Leslie's final moments.
Did you feel like Leslie was talking to you from the grave? Yes. She's telling me what happened. Now that she'd been to the police, Terry Barr was doing her best to avoid Bob Newlander, she had a close call when they nearly bumped shopping carts at the supermarket. Did you just make a beeline to the other direction?
Absolutely. Your car, like, why does a man who's never shopped a day in his life or cooked a meal in his life show up at Wegmans at noon when everybody else is there?
Terry thought Bob was making an effort to appear as though everything was normal. Then one day, about three months after Leslie's death, Terry's phone rang. It was Bob. I was quite surprised.
What did he want? He just said he was reaching out to friends and catching up with people since Leslie died. He's been so distraught and just wanted to see what people were up to. I thought it was very unusual. He'd never called me before. Did you again have to go into actress mode and pretend like everything was OK? Absolutely I did.
It's very hard because you just trying to be yourself and you're not used to being in that role.
Mary Gambella got a catch up phone call, too. But unlike Terry, Mary welcomed the call. She and her husband hadn't heard from Bob since that night of mourning at his house.
My husband and he chatted. I didn't get on the phone. Sorry, I haven't called. I've been out of touch. I'm going to go visit my daughter who was studying in Israel. You know, just a casual light conversation.
Truth be told, Mary hadn't given Terry Suspicion's much thought since their talk. She thought maybe Terry had been watching too many crime shows.
Well, it is true that my field has gotten very popularized in the media. And so everyone thinks they have a little piece of it and they are their own investigators.
You probably didn't want to believe that this wasn't an accident. I didn't I didn't want to believe that.
But now, after this phone call, Mary found herself wondering for the first time, was there something specific he said on that call that bothered you? I think it was just his tone. What was with his tone that I'm sorry, I've been out of touch. I'm going to be out of touch again and leaving. But I just want to call you and say hi. I felt odd.
This business of leaving the country troubled her to off to Israel to see Jenna. Why did that concern you?
Well, if it happened that this wasn't simply an accident, then that would raise concern that he could just be gone. Right. And maybe never return. Right. Was something nagging at you at this point? It was.
I don't know. I had nothing other than the friend's concerns. I just thought I just need to have a conversation with Bill Fitzpatrick.
Bill Fitzpatrick is the Onondaga County district attorney and a colleague of Mary's. Until she retired as medical examiner a few years earlier.
I thought I should just close the loop with the information and just call the district attorney.
It was a fateful decision. What was his response? His response was, would you take a look at the case? Did that surprise you? Yes. You're friends with the victim and her husband? Yes. Did that feel odd at all? Of course it did. It took me a moment to answer the question. I had to think if I should or could or would do this. And I thought, well, yes, I do know them both.
But if there is a way to answer this, if there is a way to allay these concerns, then perhaps I'm the best person to do that.
With Dr Newlander about to leave the country, there was no time to waste. The files were brought to Mary's home for her review.
I'm sure you don't right in.
Well, there's a process. You look at everything. You consider the scene, you consider the autopsy findings, you look at the statements, you weigh it all in and come to a scientific conclusion.
Mary could see how the medical examiner drew his conclusions that Leslie's death was a slip and fall.
He saw some findings in the brain that he attributed to a fall and he latched on to that finding and felt that that explained her story as portrayed by Bob.
Mary took it all in the crime scene photos, the SMEs report she absorbed every detail as she immersed herself in the final moments of her dear friends life.
Did you feel like Lesley was talking to you from the grave as you're looking at this report? Yes. She's telling me what happened.
Yes. And in the end, was there enough information in those files for you to make your own determination? Yes. Coming up, new questions about the evidence there were a lot of things that weren't adding up for you, very significant things. Yes. And new doubts about the doctor's story. It just made no sense at all. When Dateline continues. I can only watch TV and scroll on my phone so many nights while I'm stuck at home and Hunter Killer is one of my favorite ways to switch things up.
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Retired medical examiner Mary Jim Belloc had pored through her friend Leslie Neulander case files, trying to determine what really happened that day.
Your part in all this almost reads like a novel.
Well, it's not fiction.
And truth is often stranger or painful than fiction could ever be painful, she says because of what she found like Leslie's injuries, there were more than just that gash on her head and she had large five inch wound on the side of her scalp with injuries on multiple sides of her face.
It was a pattern of the injuries that's not explained by the story. So in forensic parlance, that's a red flag.
Mary was also alarmed by the blood in Leslie's bedroom. It wasn't just pools in the carpet. There was blood spatter at Leslie's bedside on her lamp, the water bottles even up on the wall. There were a lot of things that weren't adding up for you. There were very significant things, yes.
By the time she finished her review, Mary had little doubt and her conclusion was as heartbreaking as it was startling. Leslie was murdered.
She died as a result of blunt head trauma. And the manner was homicide. Science aside, though, this is your friend. Yes. Who died. It was upsetting. And I knew it could only get more upsetting because the professional side of me came to a conclusion that I supported scientifically. But that didn't make it easy.
But Mary says she'd taken an oath as a doctor and was duty bound to honor it. I speak for the dead person.
That's what I did my whole life. So they're my patient. They're who I take care of and they're who I speak for. If it hurts the living, so be it.
So Mary didn't hesitate when she called the D.A. What did you say to him? It's a bombshell that you're dropping. Well, I said it's a homicide. And he said, OK, thank you.
Mary's opinion was big news for lead detective Scott Capral to have another medical examiner say, you know, these are multiple blows to the head, you can't in an investigation like this, can't walk away from that.
But of course, the D.A. had two opinions to contend with. He arranged a meeting of the medical examiners inviting a group of other prominent pathologists to review the case. Former DeWit police chief Gene Conway was there.
The current M.E. was also in the room. Yes. And the meeting was for the purpose of discussing the findings that the medical examiner had come up with.
This is a bit of a showdown.
The current M.E. ruling one way in accident. You've got the former M.E. saying, no, this is a murder.
Well, it was a good discussion. Everybody had an opportunity to certainly share with everyone else what their opinion was and the opinions of those other pathologists matched Mary's.
Leslie's death was a homicide. They said, no question. For Mary, the validation was bittersweet.
It would have been wonderful if I had been wrong. I wish I had been wrong.
But the Onondaga County medical examiner had the final say, and he held fast. Leslie's official manner of death remained an accident. Still, Mary's opinion was enough to jump start the investigation.
Naturally, police wanted to speak with Dr. Newlander. The D.A. reached out to his attorney and Bob agreed to an interview.
Arrangements were made between the district attorney and his attorney that he would willingly come in and answer questions. So he did. This is very important now that he's coming in.
Yes, extremely important. The detective would finally get to hear the doctor describe what happened the day Leslie died.
His story was that he had gone for a run and come back and went through a whole process of getting some coffee and bringing coffee up because that's a normal routine. Then he says that he goes to wake China up, talks to Jenna about what a great run he had at Green Lakes and goes to check on Leslie.
Dr. Newlander said they had to be somewhere that morning, but when he went back to the bedroom, Leslie wasn't ready yet and he could hear the shower running.
He was knocking on the door and she wasn't answering. So he walked into the bathroom and then he found her on the floor of the shower.
The detective says that Dr. Newlander went on to describe how he moved his wife from the bathroom to perform CPR, and then he went through his explanation of how he brought her out and moved her, you know, four or five different times.
Part of that explanation stood out. The doctor said the reason he moved Leslie was because the bathroom was steamy and dark. That didn't fit how the detective remembered the scene.
It was sunny skies that day, 61 degrees.
And we knew there were two skylights in the bathroom, along with a huge window that made that entire bathroom area one of the brightest rooms in the house.
So for him to say it's too dark to work on her and perform work, it just made no sense at all.
And the detective thought there was something odd about that C.P.R. story. In the interview, Dr. Newlander said he tried to save his wife up until the moment the paramedics arrived.
We knew that wasn't true because we had already spoken to the paramedics and at least two of them walked in and can tell us without a doubt that he was just kneeling there. He was doing nothing. In fact, the day after Leslie died, one of the paramedics told the detective he wasn't sure CPR had been performed at all.
Typically, a lot of times when you do CPR for the first time, if you're doing it correctly, there's most of the time you're going to break the person's ribs or crack a rib and nothing was broken or cracked. According to the paramedic, he was the first one to do that.
So for the police, Dr. Newlander story had problems, but they were a long way from proving he'd murdered his wife. There were big questions to answer, like why blow up a happy twenty eight year marriage? Someone new was about to enter the investigation who thought he just might have a clue.
You know, sometimes you got to be brave enough to get involved, even if it's a bad situation. Coming up, you two had an instant connection. Oh, yeah, it was amazing. Leslie's secret confidante is about to step forward and he has a bombshell to share.
Word was out around Syracuse, Dr. Bob Newlander was under investigation for his wife's death.
Tom joins us live from outside the doctor's Hanover Square apartment.
Anchor Megan Clements says if you could believe it, this was the biggest stunner that we had seen in a very long time in this community.
And for me personally, because they had been in my home, what, four months before she had died, I thought this can't be happening. He seemed just like any other dad, any other husband.
Dr. Newlander family was in his corner and he was fighting back in the press through his attorney.
This has been an open secret and a subject of gossip and irresponsible rumor now for months. Dr. Newlander has not been charged with any kind of offense.
He spoke out and was adamant. These are ludicrous allegations. This is outrageous. He is the most honest person I've ever met.
For detectives, a benefit of the coverage was that it encouraged anyone with information to come forward. Someone who did was Leslie's friend from Starbucks, Nevin Roby.
Never there until I read a news story where it got changed from this to an actual investigation. And that's when, you know, I did, you know, go to the police and sit and talk with them. He walked detectives through a story from the beginning, how he'd met Leslie by chance earlier that year.
He was new in town and working at the Apple store in the mall. She was a regular customer.
And we just started talking because I asked her, like, you know, where are you from?
They quickly realized just how much they had in common. Once we found out that we both have a connection being Jewish, it was also nice because it was like, you know, OK, so where what synagogue should I go to?
You two had an instant connection. Oh, yeah, it was amazing.
Although they were years apart in age, the two became fast friends, maybe twice, three times a week.
You know, we'd have like lunch because I'd be working. She'd be like, hey, I'm stopping in the mall. Nevins says their conversations were light at first. Things going on in town, the latest news. But over time, they grew more personal. He says the fact that they were strangers in each other's lives made it feel safe.
I could ask her things about things that are going on in my life that I'm going to get a real hundred percent response and I don't have to feel worried about it and vice versa. Who am I? I'm a nobody really in her world. And same thing with with her. It was easy for her to open up to you. Absolutely. There's no judgment. There's no fear of retribution of someone knowing something about you that could affect you in some way.
And that was really, I think for both of us, really, it was very you know, it was nice to have that.
Nevins says Leslie's husband wasn't a regular topic of conversation, but he got the impression that their marriage was not a happy one.
What were the positive things she had to say about Bob? She never said really anything positive about the conversation about her in her marriage.
We're always like little crumbs.
But Nevin says there was something specific and all those crumbs, though Leslie didn't dwell on it, it sounded like he had been cheating on her throughout the marriage because they didn't talk much about Bob.
And David was surprised when, after knowing each other for just a few months, Leslie's husband sent him a text. Who are you?
You know, and what are you guys talking about? You know, what are you guys doing? And stuff like that. And I just responded very simply. I was like having lunch. She's my friend. We're talking about things, life, my life, her life, what's going on in her world.
I mean, it's. Did you get hostile at all? He only got hostile at the end. My wife and I were having marital issues and stuff like that. And I'm glad you're like you're her friend. But, you know, please stay out of the our marriage stuff.
Nevin isn't sure if Leslie told Bob about their friendship or if he'd snooped in her phone. Either way, he insists they were never more than friends.
Do you think, though, from the husband's perspective, that he could have perceived it as something more potent?
I think anyone can perceive anything. And on any topic, really.
So she never said to you, oh, Bob knows about us and. Well, there's nothing to know about us, really. You know, I mean, friends. Yeah. I mean, she has a hundred something million friends.
And so, I mean, my my husband, if I'm having lunches with a guy who's a lot younger, he'll he'd want to know about it.
Sure. But I'm not Brad Pitt. You're an attractive guy. Again, much younger guy. I would think that that Bob would want to know that you're in his wife's world. Right.
Again, you'd have to ask Bob. I've no idea what he does or does not know.
Even after Bob had texted him telling him to stay out of their marriage. Never says Leslie met him for another lunch and she shared some stunning news. She and Bob were splitting up. It was just days before Leslie died.
She told me that they both sat down and told all the kids, the whole family, they were going to get a divorce. She was looking for a new place. The last conversation, she said she put down a deposit but was waiting for like a credit check or something to this effect. And she was very excited.
It was a tantalizing piece of information for the detectives. What if Bob really wasn't on board with the separation?
We had multiple acquaintances and friends and close friends of hers explained to us that she was most certainly ready to move on.
And in divorce, one of those friends was Terry. She didn't know much about it, but it was another one of the many things that made her suspicious about Bob from the start.
She told me that they were separating and that she would we were going to meet for coffee and talk later in the upcoming week. Was this a total surprise to you? Yeah, it was a surprise to me.
I just asked her if you're are you OK? And she said, yes, it's it's fine, Terry. It's OK. And I'll fill you in. Let's wait until Tuesday and we'll get together Tuesday.
But Terry, never learn more about it, because by Tuesday, Leslie was dead. For the detectives, the suggestive stories about Bob were adding up, but they weren't hard evidence. Investigators had just been given a look inside the new lander's marriage. Now they needed another look inside the house. Coming up, it was strange, it looked like the shower hadn't been touched from that day, a return to the scene yields stunning new evidence.
I'm staring at this headboard and I shined my flashlight on it.
And I'm like, you're not going to believe this when Dateline continues. Dr. Bob Newlander may have been under investigation for his wife's death, but he wasn't acting like it. He was out and about grocery shopping, eating at restaurants, going to temple with his family.
Megan Coleman went to the same synagogue.
And I remember sitting several rows back from him and, you know, sort of had the corner of my eye, you know, sort of what I mean. You know, this is Yom Kippur.
It's the day of atonement. And so, you know, you sort of think that perhaps this day may take on a little bit more meaning for him. So I was sort of watching and wondering, will there be any sort of reaction or visible something, you know, that I could kind of glean from from watching him?
She says many in the community still felt sorry for the widower, they couldn't believe that the marriage of such an admired couple could have ended in murder. I think that that was also part of what made it so difficult for people to wrap their head around what was going on because they were so giving and they were so loving.
Dr. Newlander wasn't acting guilty when it came to the investigation either. After that first interview, he agreed to speak with detectives again.
Was he cooperative?
Was he confrontational? What was the tone? He was I mean, certainly he was cooperative.
Dr. Newlander didn't have to come in and talk to you. No, not at all. As months passed without an arrest, Leslie's friend Terry wondered why the case didn't seem to be going anywhere.
You just feel like it's going to go on for years like it does in other cases. And this just maybe never going to get solved for a long time.
But behind the scenes, investigators were hard at work building the case. They were now consulting an all star team of experts in neuropathology and blood spatter.
The desk attorneys focus was proved to us this is not an accident. And so it was a matter of staying focused and building the case to a point in time that we felt it was time to bring it to a jury, a grand jury.
Something high on their to do list return to the mansion on Shalimar Way, I would imagine there were probably things you wanted to look at that you couldn't the first time because you had to essentially shut it down once the death was ruled an accident, right? That's right.
It seemed like a long shot that they would find anything significant. Many months had passed and the House had been sold. But still, detectives reached out to the new owner.
They hadn't moved in. He hadn't touched anything in the house. And he said, if you need to come back, you're welcome to come on back and take a look. And so, you know, obviously, we certainly are never going to pass up an offer to do that.
And they were about to get unbelievably lucky because not only had the new owner not yet moved in, but it appeared the New Zealanders had hardly touched the bedroom. Since the day Leslie died, Sergeant Norton was back at the scene.
You could tell that they tried to clean the blood out of the carpeting and but you could still see the outlines. You could still see the stains. And standing there in that bathroom, he says it was as if no time had passed at all. Look at the shower hadn't been touched from that day. I mean, there was still we were finding dried blood in the shower and here it is. March creepy. It was just it was strange. I mean, that it was never cleaned.
The actual shower was never cleaned.
The evidence techs took measurements and carpet samples and recorded blood spatter on the blinds. At one point, the sergeant found himself staring at the built-In bed frame. The mattress was gone, but the headboard was still there.
I'm staring at this headboard to this bed. It was like a black felt fabric with a pattern in it. And I don't know if it was the light. Just call it the right way or what drew my attention to it. But now I see a stain in the headboard. He needed to take a closer look.
I had a flashlight and I shined my flashlight on it. It was a red stain in this black fabric. I just remember calling out to Scott Kirpal, I'm like, You're not going to believe this or. The stain was blood, they'd all missed it the day Leslie died. It was covered up by pillows the day that we were there. So I never really got to see that.
For Detective Capral, the find was a game changer.
Once we identified that it was Leslie's blood that was that was enormous to us. It certainly did not fit any explanation that, you know, he brought her out to the floor right next to the bed and he told to do CPR.
And he told you I placed her on the bed at any point to do it all CPR?
Not at all. Investigators thought they had what they needed. And in the summer of 2014, almost two years after Leslie died, the M.E. quietly changed his opinion without public explanation. Leslie's manner of death was now a homicide. A grand jury returned an indictment and Dr. Newlander turned himself in. There was an arrest this morning of Robert Neulander. The obstetrician who brought so many lives into the world was now accused of taking one charged with second degree murder and tampering with physical evidence in Syracuse.
The story hit like a bomb. He's accused of killing his wife, Leslie, and covering it up to make it look like she fell in the shower, and Megan says there were plenty of people in town who didn't believe that Dr. Newlander was a killer, including his own family, who had his children, who were standing by him from the beginning. And you had her siblings who were also standing by him, which I think was a really powerful symbol for the community, because one would think that if if he had killed his wife, her siblings, Leslie's siblings would not be standing by him.
But they were.
Besides, all that doctor knew, Lander's attorney made his position known to in 40 years of criminal practice.
I have never had a client whose innocence I believe and more firmly than him.
It all made Leslie's friend Kevin wonder where was the support for Leslie?
We're all her fans and supporters because she would be the first one that I could. That's 100 percent guarantee. You know, if this this whole situation were reversed with anyone, should be the first one, you know, calling the charge on this.
Leslie's friends, Mary and Terri felt much the same way. This is about standing up for Leslie. And you would have no reason to want to hurt Bob.
No, I have no reason. I don't want revenge on Bob. I don't that's not what this is about. I think this is about, you know, Leslie's story and letting people know that, you know, domestic violence happens in all kinds of homes. And she didn't deserve this.
Did people commend you for standing up or did some people turn on you? It's a small community and some people felt, well, good. Someone's speaking up for Leslie, but other people felt like, why are you even pursuing this? Can't you just let things rest where they are? This is terrible for the children. They don't deserve this. They don't. But I didn't kill her.
Whether or not Bob Newlander killed his wife wouldn't be up to married.
It would be up to a jury to decide. Coming up, the case heads into court.
And on the stand, a distraught and devoted daughter.
God, she had lost her beloved mother. And by all accounts, they were best friends. Everyone was watching and waiting and wondering, what will she say?
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In the spring of 2015, Dr. Bob Newlander went on trial for his wife's murder. It was one of the most anticipated courtroom dramas Syracuse had seen in years.
More compelling testimony today as we head into week two of them. All eyes were on this trial. I mean, our crews basically lived at the courthouse during this time and everyone was waiting on bated breath to see what would be the next development.
Cameras were not allowed in court, but each day those crews captured the same dramatic scene in the hallway.
Bob was flanked side by side with his children, with Leslie's siblings, with, you know, family and friends and his attorney. They wanted the entire community to know we stand by our dad.
It was a show of unity in the face of a damning narrative from the district attorney. Bill Fitzpatrick told the jury Bob Newlander had killed his wife in a rage, viciously attacking her in the bedroom, then moving her to the shower to make it look like an accidental fall.
Horrible assault occurred in that bed. Something horrible occurred in the shower.
The D.A. said the cover up continued as Bob drag Leslie back to the bedroom under the guise of performing CPR.
He had explained all the blood, and that's the only way he could do it.
Critical clues to the murder, the D.A. said, could be heard on Jeni's heart wrenching call to 911.
One day, Gena first called the operator from the other side of the house after her father screamed for help.
I need to go over there, see if she's OK. OK. How do you know she's down there? My dad my dad's over there.
She then ran to the master bathroom where she saw her father carrying her mother out of the shower.
The day implied even Jenna knew someone so severely injured should not be moved down and her dad was a doctor.
What's more, right before that, the D.A. said Jenna made a key observation. Well, she says there's blood everywhere. And then she says that she sees her, her dad bringing her mom out of the shower.
So what that tells us is that the blood was already there. There.
A forensic expert also testified that Leslie was in rigor mortis and she died hours earlier than Dr. Newlander said. And the family housekeeper told the jury she was the one who usually changed the bed sheets. Yet the morning Leslie died, it looked to her like someone else had changed the sheets.
You think that was Dr. Newlander covering up the blood in the bed? Absolutely.
With his own bed making job, she's actually very upset that you would even insinuate she made a bed like that because she's much better at that.
And a final telling detail in the crime scene photos.
The D.A. said the blood spatter at Leslie's bedside was on the lamp, the water bottles, but not the coffee cup. Dr. Neulander said he delivered before finding his wife in the shower.
You believe that he placed the coffee cup there after just part of staging? Without a doubt, based on the blood spatter there, it should have hit the coffee cup. Oh, yeah, absolutely.
But when it was time for the defense, Dr. Knew attorney told the jury the prosecution's case was absurd from the very beginning.
Ed Mankin, the defense attorney, was adamant. This is a purely circumstantial case and prosecutors don't have anything to go on.
He said the medical examiner's first report was right. Leslie's death was an accident.
The defense called its own pathologist to say Leslie's head injuries were consistent with a fall in the shower, a fall perhaps caused by vertigo, a feeling of dizziness that affects your balance. Jenna had mentioned her mom struggles with it to police. What a Jenna say about her mom's condition with vertigo. I believe she said in her statement that her mom did have a history of vertigo, but but that she hadn't had issues with it for years. But Leslie's sister told the jury that Leslie had recently suffered dizzy spells and a friend testified he'd seen Leslie fall on a trip to Israel the previous winter.
Part of the defense's strategy was to play up this idea that she had vertigo and that that could account for the reason that she slipped and fell in the shower that day.
As for all that blood in the bedroom, the defense said that couldn't be trusted. Paramedics had trampled all over the scene and that blood spatter at Leslie's bedside. The defense said that could have come from a long sleeve shirt Dr. Neulander was wearing. He told detectives about it during an interview.
He said, I was racing against time to save my beloved wife. I had a bloody shirt on, you know, from from her injuries. I was covered in blood, ripped the shirt off to try to, you know, administer CPR and that that could account for the blood being spot spattered everywhere.
Plus, if Leslie's death was a. Murder, the defense argued then what had he struck her with no murder weapon had ever been found, nor, for that matter, bloody bedsheets. The defense said even if the housekeeper story was true, that the sheets had been changed, Leslie might have done that herself.
And remember, the police had packed up and left right after the M.E. gave his opinion. The defense pointed out that the police had hardly done any investigating that day at all.
The defense definitely blamed the police for a botched investigation.
Case in point, that coffee cup was never collected or tested. So who's to say there was no blood on it?
My mother, of course, the defense still had to address Jenna's 911 call with emotions running high.
Jenna, by then 25, took the stand in her father's defense. She was incredibly fragile.
She had lost her beloved mother. And by all accounts, they were best friends. They were incredibly close. And now she has to take the stand in the trial of her father.
Everyone was watching and waiting and wondering, what will she say? How will she act? For now?
Reporting live at County Court, Meghan's colleague, reporter Sarabeth Ackerman, was inside the courtroom when Janet testified right off the bat.
They were asking questions to her about the relationship between her and her mother. So she was crying. She had to grab some tissues and take a couple of breaths to just kind of calm down.
Remember the day said her call, prove there was blood in the bedroom before Leslie was pulled from the shower. Clear evidence of a crime.
But Jenna testified that wasn't true. She said her comment about the blood came after her mom had been moved. In fact, she said she helped her dad carry her mom out of the bathroom, then noticed all the blood. The D.A. didn't buy it.
So the D.A. did say that, you know, she was covering for her father there. Her father used her as part of the cover up and now she's covering for her dad.
But would jurors believe the D.A. or Bob and Leslie's sympathetic daughter, Sarabeth, says it was obvious Jenna's testimony had affected the jury. Several of the jury members were upset. When you looked over at them, they seemed almost choked up.
Dr. Newlander had received an impassioned defense, but perhaps his attorneys best move was not his own argument, but rather what the prosecution hadn't told the jury. Coming up, another revelation from Leslie's friend, Nevin, I was a little concerned something didn't feel right. And a family on edge, you could just feel her anxiety. She was looking at her father, not knowing what's going to happen.
What would the verdict be? When Dateline continues.
After eight days of testimony, Bob Newlander fate was in the hands of the jury. Detective Capral was confident. I know the case we put together. I and the members of our team know what happened. We know how methodical we were. But there was something missing from the prosecution's case.
The jury was left wondering, you know, what do we know about why he would, you know, murder his wife? The D.A. hinted at trouble in the new lander's marriage as a possible motive, saying the new lenders were sleeping in separate bedrooms. But he didn't call Leslie's friends like Nevine to share what they knew about the marriage, that the separation was imminent and that she was making plans to move out. That meant the jury never heard about the text messages Bob sent Nevin asking him to stay out of their marriage either or this potentially explosive story.
She'd start talking about Bob and how he's acting very erratic.
Nevins says that at their last lunch, Leslie told him about an incident with Bob. It happened in the bathroom.
He came to the bathroom one day and he was like, really kind of like semi aggressive and not aggressive to her physically. She was just like kind of like verbally and then he'd, like, leave quickly. And so I was like, well, do you feel afraid? And she's like, No, not really.
But Nevin's instincts kicked in. And I was just kind of like, well, then don't don't stay there. Then you have a lot of friends in this area. You have money stayed hotel.
But according to Nevine, Leslie said she didn't want to do that. That weekend was the Jewish New Year and she would be hosting.
I've got family to prepare. I mean, Jewish culture. She's the matriarch. You know, she's she's the one who really runs the show.
So did you feel good when you watched her walk away? I did, but I was a little concerned. Something didn't feel right, really. I just I felt like, you know, do I say enough? Is everything going to be OK?
Of course, it wasn't OK. When Kevin found out Leslie died in the shower, he was immediately reminded of that bathroom incident. He says Leslie told him about it.
I was like, no way.
So you put bathroom and shower. I was just like other you got to be kidding me. Like, don't get me wrong, I understand the bathroom is one of the most dangerous spots in a household, you know, and there are a lot of accidents, too.
Too much of a coincidence. Way too much of a coincidence. You know, I mean, come on.
But the jury never heard this story. Did they have enough evidence from what they did here to find the doctor guilty?
Deliberations stretched from one day to two. Then on the afternoon of the third day, reporter Sarah Beth Ackerman sensed a commotion in the halls.
We started noticing that there were several other district attorneys kind of making their way over to the courtroom. So we all knew that something was going to happen.
The Newlander family walked to the courtroom arm in arm. Jenna was clinging to her dad. She was crying, she was breathing really heavily, I was actually maybe a couple feet away from her and you could just feel her anxiety. I remember she was looking at her father, not knowing what's going to happen. They filed into the courtroom and took their seats.
The tension was suffocating as the four person rose to deliver the verdict, guilty, guilty of murdering his wife in the second degree and tampering with physical evidence. And at that point, everything went crazy in the courtroom. Jenna screamed.
She was hysterical, screaming, crying. It was just a nightmare.
As officers handcuffed Dr. Newlander, Jenna called out to her dad. She was saying, Daddy, look at me. Look at me, Daddy, I know you're innocent. I love you. I was there.
After the verdict, Bob's defense attorney vowed to fight on. Bob Newlander is the most honorable person I have ever met. This case has been a travesty. From start to finish, it is not finished. The D.A. fired right back.
Let's remember that he was intimately involved in selecting those 12 people. And I don't think it's fair of them to refer to this as a travesty.
For Leslie's friends, the verdict meant they could finally exhale. I think it's a relief.
And you want to be believed and you want to know that, you know, people support you for doing what's right.
I was glad there had been a conclusion that it wouldn't drag on longer and more and that now there's been a decision and people can try to move on.
But moving on would be complicated because yet another twist was on the way. Coming up, there were some whisperings, you know, was there something inappropriate that went on with the jury?
The stunner that turned everything upside down.
Do you have anything to say? Do you have anything to say at all? I just want to be with my family, OK? Will there be a next chapter to this story? Three months after the verdict, Dr. Bob Newlander returned to court to be sentenced. His four children walked in, holding up photos of their loving parents. Lezley sister spoke on the family's behalf in support of Bob, asking the judge for the minimum sentence like so many families.
We came to this courtroom in the hope of finding closure. Instead, what we received was not closure, but a gaping hole that will last for the rest of our lives.
Dr. Newlander addressed the court directly. My head is unbowed by the verdict of this court. This man has been wrongfully convicted. I would not or could not say this if it were that simple.
He told the court how his years as an obstetrician left him incapable of taking a life.
I have helped bring over 10000 lives into this world, and I'm proud to have this very special calling that allowed me to hold those lives of newborn babies in my hands. Above all, it's given me a profound appreciation of the sanctity of life. I love my wife Leslie very much, and I mourn her every day. I know we're still.
The judge gave the doctor a sentence of 20 years to life in prison. It had been a trying few years for Leslie's friends, but they felt at peace with the roles they played.
I'm glad that it ended, you know, the way it did. Do I do. I wish I didn't have to go through this. Absolutely.
It's been difficult. Some people don't talk to me. Other people say, I'm glad you spoke up for Leslie. I think the community needs time to heal. For greater Syracuse, it seemed like the Newlander saga had come to an end once he was sentenced. Most people thought, case closed, you know, he's going to spend this time in prison for the death of his wife.
And that's the last that we will hear from or of Dr. Newlander.
But that thought couldn't have been more wrong. After the trial, an alternate juror contacted the defense saying she believed there had been serious juror misconduct. There were some whisperings, you know, was there something inappropriate that went on with the jury?
And specifically juror number 12, as she came to be known, there were allegations that she was receiving media notifications during the course of the trial.
Bob knew Lander's defense attorney called for an investigation. The 24 year old juror had to turn her phone over to the authorities.
They found that juror number 12 had not only just received media alerts, that she received upwards of 7000 text messages from family and friends throughout the trial, asking her questions about the case. Among the text she received, a friend asked, is he guilty? The juror replied, Can't tell. The friend also asked, is he scary? And then there was this text sent the day she was picked for the jury. The jurors dad wrote her, make sure he's guilty.
What did that mean? Make sure he's guilty. There were a lot of questions as to whether or not he received a fair trial.
Defense attorneys filed an appeal based on juror misconduct, and the fight started all over again. Motions were filed. Several hearings were held. The appeal went all the way to the state's highest court.
The next appeal on this afternoon's calendar is for people of the state of New York versus Robert Newlander that I think everyone was sort of wondering, will there be a next chapter to this story?
The state argued that despite the improper texts, the juror did not show any outward bias. But ultimately, the court's seven judge panel unanimously agreed with the defense. Now, former doctor Robert Newlander will get a second trial. And so in the summer of twenty eighteen, almost three years after he was convicted of murder, Bob Neulander was released from prison. He put up a million dollars cash bail for Robert.
There's a lot of people that think you shouldn't be out of prison. What do you say about that?
He was let out hand in hand with his son Ari, with a couple of belongings and hand and a paper sack. They were flanked by reporters from the front back. And every side said, do you have anything to say at all? I just want to be with my family and please just give us some time. And they were then taken to a car and he is out and awaiting trial.
Bob's new defense team released a statement on his behalf. Bob Newlander and his family greatly appreciate the Court of Appeals decision, which reaffirms that every defendant has the right to an impartial jury and a fair trial. But for Leslie's friend, Nevin, it was a crushing development. It's just sadness, you know, I figured she could rest in peace because what else you're going to get from a guilty verdict? Really, there is nothing else.
Well, Nevine is all but certain Bob will be found guilty again. He knows a second trial comes with a risk.
There's always a possibility that somehow you can have a juror who just can't seem to come to a conclusion, locks it all up or, you know, they find him not guilty, you know, which is that could happen, I guess.
Dr. Newlander was scheduled for trial earlier this year, but it was delayed due to the covid pandemic. A new trial has been set for 2021. The riddle, Bob Newlander has been a free man.
We've heard sightings of him running at various parks, eating at restaurants. And I think everybody sort of has this watchful eye wondering, is there a killer in their midst or was this an innocent man who was convicted and will now get his next day in court?
Whatever happens, one thing is for sure, the woman at the center of it all is sorely missed, that giving front and devoted mother who lost her life on Shalimar Way. How do you want people to remember her? I think I want them to remember what a vivacious and loving and kind person she was. I think she needs peace in heaven. Leslie didn't deserve to die. That's all for this edition of Dateline. We'll see you again Friday at 10:00, 9:00 Central.
I'm Lester Holt for all of us at NBC News, good night.
The Meet the Press Chuck Todd cast, it's an insider's take on politics, the twenty twenty election and more candid conversations with some of my favorite reporters about things we usually discuss off camera. Listen for free wherever you get your podcast.