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Hi, everybody. This is Talking Dateline. I'm Josh Mankowitz, and I'm joined by Dennis Murphy. Hi, Dennis.


Hey, bud. How are you doing?


I'm good. We are here to talk about the episode from last Friday, which is called Down the Basement Stairs. Now, if you, the audience, have not seen this episode, or if you've not heard it on podcast, it is the podcast episode right below this one on the list that you just chose from to get here. So go there, listen to The Down the Basement Stairs, or watch it on television, and then come back here. I don't think that I have ever covered a case at Stateline where there were four trials?


I think that's the headline on this thing. We've been in courts a lot, Josh, and my experience is state prosecutor goes for one time, they lose. They had a hung jury. They come back and they go again. But after two, if they don't get it after two, everybody shakes hands and goes home. That's my experience. I can't recall one going four rounds like this because somebody's got their Guinness Book of records looking it up, and I'll be proved wrong. But it is extraordinary.


Yeah. There are cases that go more times, but frequently that hinges on evidence that was admissible one time being admissible another time. This is the same case, and prosecutors couldn't make it go.


Speculation. I don't think they could play the movie, as it were, for the jury and tell them what happened in that house. Okay, here are the two women at the top of the stairs. What happens? Is there a fight? Does one fall? Is one pushed? And what happens when they get to the bottom of the stairs? Everybody wants to have a lumenol or fingerprint or something that explains it, but they didn't have that technical evidence. It's not a who done it to me so much as what in the world happened here.


In this last trial, the thing that the prosecution offered as a theory was the idea that there was some fight between the two of them, and that Anne falls down the stairs. Then Cara has to make up her mind. Am I going to face a domestic violence charge, lose my job, lose the house, lose the child? Or my only option is to accelerate this fight into a murder.


As a law enforcement friend said to me, Josh, years ago, sometimes you have to finish what you started, and you got to carry through. Now, this is all happening, I think, in split seconds, but that is the difficulty.


Except that there is absolutely nothing supporting that theory, except that the prosecution offered it.


Really? It's all speculation. There was an interesting thing that happened in the last trial, Josh, which was just September. It's a charge of first-degree murder. Now, keep in mind, the homicide is a hands-around-the-neck-strangeulation. Prosecutor is saying, like, This is her wife. She's a paramedic, and she's choking the life out of her for four minutes until.


She's dead. That's not something you do accidentally.


Yet the jury came back with a lesser. They bought a conviction, a guilty on the charge of manslaughter, basically. I think they just didn't know what to do with it.


Yeah. The decision to retry, I know you asked prosecutors about that, and they said in your interview with them, they said, We were spurred on by the family. We said to the family, Do you want to go again? The family said, Yes, we do.


I don't think district attorney's office work like that.


No. You and I both know that's not how it works.


They've got the charge, they're going to go for it.


Right. Prosecutors are not supposed to bring cases thinking like, Let's throw the spaghetti at the wall and see if it sticks.


They don't want to go around the kitchen table at the victim's family and see a show of hands and tell us how many people want to go for it again. Of course, you have to be sensitive to them because it's going to be very painful to have the same parade of witnesses again, all the awful charges, all the awful stories told. But now I think this is the district attorney deciding to go for it.


I thought probably the strongest parts of the prosecution's case were the phone void. You can see when she stops using the phone.


What you have to understand here is that the prosecution's case is built on a timeline. One end of the timeline, and one end of the timeline, bookend, is a phone call that Anne makes to a relative and it goes to voicemail, I think, is not answered. At 12:21, the phone usage stops. This woman who is making 30, 40, 50 calls a day in text messages is suddenly on radio silence right before 1:00 PM. Then the medical examiner says 1:00 PM is his estimated time of death.


That, to me is a pretty good exemplar of time of death. I mean, she's on the phone all the time, and then suddenly she's not on the phone. That would be persuasive to me as a juror.


That's the start of the timeline. Then as Cara would tell the police in her interview later, she said, Well, it was about three o'clock. Anne says to me, Look, I've got a night shift tonight. Do me a favor. Take the child to the mall. Get out of my hair for a while. Let me get a little kip here.


Which is another part of the prosecution case, which raises the question, why is Cara calling her?


You said you wanted a sleep. I'm going to wake you up now.


If she wants to sleep, why are you.


Calling- Creating a digital alibi with those calls that you just mentioned, and then going around the mall with her debit card and buying this, that, and the other things, things she doesn't need. But it establishes that she's at the mall store at 5:20 PM. I think that's important. Josh, join me in the weeds over at the McDonald's. I don't think that's a small bit of evidence.


That is exactly the thing that I thought when you presented that in the story, which is this is the first really persuasive piece of evidence I've heard.


She's taken Brianna to the mall, and instead of going to Burger King, they go to McDonald's. So that doesn't really matter, except that McDonald's has a bunch of trash cans. It's pouring rain, and the surveillance video sees Cara get out of the car in the rain. She's got a few rags and puts it in the farthest can. Now, what is that about? I think a person that does that has some explain to do. What is going on with ditching the cleanup brag?


Those are things that if I were a juror in that case, I would be listening to very carefully.


Then there's the whole issue with the paint, Josh, which is part of this timeline. If she tumbled down the stairs, the paint can was not in her trajectory. There was no way that she was going to spill it. Yet there's paint on her, a lot of wet paint on the floor. Some of the paint is dry and some is not. In one trial, they brought in a paint expert, a guy who literally watches paint dry. And he says, In my experience, what I'm seeing here, this should be wet, this part should be dry. And yet, meanwhile, the body is cooling down and rigor mortis is setting in. The body is answering the scientific question, This probably happened around one o'clock, and yet the paint seems to be wet later than it should be. So something's out of whack here.


Okay, I got a couple of questions about the paint guy. First of all, I'm going to sound snarky here as if I'm on the date with... I'm on the date-line podcast and not the talking date-line podcast, so sue me. But that guy needs to spend every penny of the expert witness money that he's getting on a better suit because that one has seen better days.


Well, as you know, he becomes the problem in that case because his testimony is thrown out on appeal. They said he was out over his skis. He didn't have the experience to testify to what he testified to. I think expert witnesses are brought in to clarify things for jury, to explain holes in the story. This pain expert didn't do that. What you really want the pain expert to say is what it's doing there in the first place on the body, and he can't do that. He can tell you how quickly it dries or doesn't dry, but it didn't clean up the story at all.


That's one of the things that the prosecution didn't do. If Cara is guilty, if she is involved here, what's the point of the paint? You're pouring the paint over the... Because what, then you think that it'll obscure evidence of strangulation?


I mean, they're a couple. Dna is not an issue because they're in each other's lives.


Yeah, you're not going to hide anything with paint. So what's the idea?


Dateline armchair detectives. This is for you guys to figure out because I totally didn't get why it was, or when it happened on that timeline.


Here's an interesting thing. Prosecutors often say about juries, When they start thinking about what's possible is when you get acquittals. When you start getting them to think about what's likely, you get a conviction. One of the messages that prosecutors tend to put out, at least implicitly, if not explicitly, is, I mean, look, who else was this going to be? Who else would do it? They'd had fights before. Domestic violence was in the background of this story, the way it's in so many date-line stories. So if it's not her, then who else is it? Well, in this case, there were a couple of other, I mean, I don't know, suspect is the right word, because each of them had some alibi, but there were at least somebody that police could have looked at as possibly being involved in this. Let's talk about them a little bit.


There was a former romantic interest. A woman who was a police officer. She was in and out of Anne's life, and there were money issues and some jealousy, and put that in a shaker with ice, and you could easily explain a fairly lethal story.


This would not be the first time that a jolted ex ended up committing a murder, as we know from watching Dane line. I presume that there was nothing from the ex-lover to Anne saying, You'll pay for this. You'll be sorry. I mean, because anything remotely threatening or stalking or repeated calling.


That would have come in. I can't get that story to spool up either. I just.


Don't see it. Yeah. I mean, it feels like there really wasn't.


Anything there. And she was alibied out. She said she was at the gym and there was the.


Security camera. And there was some video of her leaving the gym. And even though there's that ATM receipt of her, not too terribly far away. So now the other paramedic, Mark, are you able to tell what's going on there? I mean, was she having a relationship with him too? What was going on there?


I think there was something emotional going on, a tie with a text. I mean, it certainly was flirtatious stuff. But is it woo woo stuff? I don't think so. I don't see him making a move on her, especially she's with a baby in the house. I don't know. I just can't see that narration working.


Yeah. And like... Okay, let's say something is going on there. He's going to kill her. Why?


But you have to get that person in the timeline again, Josh. If she says she's having lunch with the baby and then they're going to the mall, when do you get that the unknown person from the bus station who has walked up the hill and killed her, or the paramedic or the former police, the police officer friend? How do you get them in the house to do what they do? Cara puts herself in the house, as she tells the police.


There's no eyewitness testimony anywhere that anybody else, any neighbor or any pass or by or anybody saw some unknown person at the property or casing it or walking by or looking in the windows. There's just nothing like that.


What I call the one-armed man in all.


These stories. Right. That gets you back to what prosecutors want juries to think, which is, well, if it's not her, then who else could it possibly be? They'd had problems before. That's the way prosecutors want you to think. I have to commend you and your production team here, who I believe to be the wonderful Sue Simpson, with whom I've done a couple of stories. Because getting that piece of audio from the judge saying, If you two don't stop this, essentially, I'm calling the Department of Children and Family Services. You can tell how at the end of his rope, the judge is, which gives you a little window into Anne and Cara's relationship that you otherwise wouldn't have. That's a great thing to have, is that little piece of audio.


That's true, and good on Sue for doing that. I've been getting a scolding from the bench. The issue is the thing that joins them. It's the baby, Brianna. They both love the child, and they both want to have her. They've actually filed for divorce, and there were restraining orders and everything else. At the heart of all that stuff seemed to be the child. Yet you had all these character witnesses who said, I saw them come by, The Sunday Service, and they were radiant from their vacation on the cruise ship, and everything looked fine. The paramedic, the male, is not telling any stories about Anne reporting a huge fight in the previous 48 hours. There's none of that stuff.


Right. Was Mark the paramedic, did he say, I can't imagine Kara doing it? Or did she say I was... I think.


He got in a jam because he had a slightly not candid story about what he was doing that day. Then he untwisted that story. But once you lie to a cop, cops don't like to be lied to. You know, Josh, what happens? They're moving up that pad of people of interest very quickly at that point. He got caught in a jam in his story, and that's how he stayed in it for a long time. But in the end, he was not a suspect for them.


No, he was not, and neither was the ex.


I'm struck all these years later how little of interest there is that this is a same sex couple marriage. It was news in 2010, a couple goes to the courthouse and gets married. The same sex aspect of this to me totally falls out of the story.


Yeah, this is the couple that we cover all the time, and sometimes they're happy and sometimes they're not happy. One of the things that the defense said was, these people were together a long time, and you're looking at only the brief period of time that they were estrange. But the rest of that time, they were getting along fine. Lots of couples go through periods in which they are not getting along. Some people separate and then get back together. It's not an indicator that one's going to murder the other. One of the things that I was struck by was the shopaholic anecdote.


Oh, yeah.


So she gets access, or Mark gives Anne access to his credit. She runs up a $7,000 bill. Who does that? Who does that on a friend's card?


To me, that's not couch change.


I mean, come on. I wouldn't charge $700 on a friend's card unless we'd specifically agreed to it or something like that.


And Josh, likewise, the police officer, the in-and-out affair that she had, she's also getting charges run up on her card. I think it's part of the mix. How does money fit into this thing? Jealousy, anger, resentment, money. A very bad moment at the top of the stairs. You can make your own script, I guess.


So here's a new thing that we're trying on talking date line. I'm not supposed to call it viewer mail, but my feeling is if it was good enough for David Letterman, it's good.


Enough for me. Go to the mail sack, Josh.


We always say don't watch alone, and we're going to prove that. We are watching with you, and sometimes you have questions, and so we're going to try and bring you answers. The first one is from someone named Ben in Los Angeles, and he writes, The gift card you gave me doesn't have any money on it, you son of a... That's a text. That's not if you were mail. Sorry, I got it wrong. Anne seems like a lot of work and it was very emotional, says Tammy Minoski, who writes to us a lot on Twitter. I wonder if Cara planned this or it was a crime of passion. If you believe that Cara is, in fact, guilty, what do you think? Unplanned or planned?


Well, I think Anne was certainly the firecracker of the two. She loved to have the Mr. Mike in her hand and she had a playlist for her own karaoke. She loved the attention and she was a sparkler. Cara was not by all accounts. Does that mean that she is more likely to put on spoke ears and come up with a devious plan to get rid of her wife? I don't think so. I don't think that works out. I don't think anybody woke up that morning and said, This is the day that Anne is going to die. This is something in my mind, speculation, something happened that was triggered at the top of the stairs there, and I don't know what it was, and neither does the prosecution.


Here's a question from Seth. Are the jurors allowed to know about the previous hung juries? I think the answer to that is that they're not.


No, not in my experience that I can't be aware of any of the facts. It's only what's presented to them in the courtroom.


Here is one from Terry, and she says that I miss something? Maybe she just fell down the stairs. I mean, is that possible? She says, I did that. I fell down the stairs. Yes, Terry, you did fall down the stairs, but you didn't have strangulation marks on your throat.


They plotted that out. They theorized, well, let's see if somebody's up at the top of the landing here and they take a misstep, what happens? Bumpity, bumpity, bump. They learned that they would not hit the paint can, so it doesn't account for the paint can. The paint is a confusing factor.


The paint being a confusing factor is perfect for this next question. It's from Paula Roby, who is a friend of mine and a big data viewer, and I think doesn't miss an episode. And her question is a pretty good one. Is paint drying junk science? I mean, paint does dry. So does that qualify as junk science? I'm thinking the prosecution would argue no. Others might argue differently.


Well, are there scholarly journals that you can point to? I think the problem here was the credentials of the particular paint expert they had. He was a very well-qualified engineer, but they decided that he could not have a legal opinion for this jury about what happened with the paint and how quickly it dried.


Here's a question that I think we can both answer from I am Mirage, M-Y-R-A-J. I can't wait to see a date-line show that starts with, They were evil, mean people that no one liked who could have killed them and then expose all the dirt. Okay, so I'm going to refer you to a show that you've got a date-line episode that you can watch on Peacock, and it's called Stone Cold. I did that story in Tucson a few years ago. Here's the thing about that. That was a guy who did not light up a room, the victim in that case. His girlfriend certainly liked him, and his brother really liked him. We interviewed the two of them. But many other people had a problem with this guy. Sometimes we do stories like that. You've probably done stories like that in which the person wasn't popular.


No, they're not all the man or woman of the year. But if you want to see an episode of Daylands is only three minutes long, I suppose that would be the ingredients.


All right, before we go, I want to say that if you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you should call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or you can text start, S-T-A-R-T, to 887.88, or you can visit www. Thehotline. Org. Dennis Murphy, thank you for joining us. The episode is Down the Basement Stairs.


Josh, thanks to you, and good holidays to you, my friend.


Couple of things before we go, we found another case that had four trials. That was a Keith episode called The House on the Lake, and it was coincidentally also produced by Sue Simpson. You can find that on Peacock Season 25, Episode 12, and my episode that I mentioned, Stone Cold, that can also be found on Peacock, Season 27, Episode 13. And if you ever have a question you want answered, you can reach us on social at DateLineNBC or #dateLine. Meanwhile, we'll see you Fridays on BBC.