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Hi, everybody. I'm Josh Maykowitz.
Along with Dennis How are you, bud?
I'm good. Great to see you.
Good to see you.
We are talking dateline. This is going to be a discussion about the episode that you should have just listened to, called The Clearing. If you haven't just heard it, it is the podcast episode right below this one. Go there, listen to that, and then come back here. Dennis, I love this episode.
I'm glad you did. I think you're a great man, a great judgment, Jess. I always appreciate your value.
How long did it take you to do this? Start to finish?
I think we were doing it for about three months. We had shooting in Columbus, Ohio, and we had some stuff to do in Las Vegas where Matt Moore was the guy who was accused of this crime. It was an interesting thing. I think, Josh, sometimes people don't understand how we get stories, and it's interesting that the unseen iceberg of our lives is all of the producers that carry us forward. Research stories, get it to the 10-yard line, and then invite us in to do the story. In this case, the producer, Dorothy Null said, I think I get an interesting one for you. It's about a woman who went missing and was found hanged in woods nearby her house. But was it a hanging or was it a staged suicide and, in fact, a murder? What made it interesting was that we had a booking. We had this guy who was accused of this crime who was going to talk to us. Josh, you know there are two certainties in life. One is that the sun will rise in the and if it's on date line and a woman is missing, the husband did it.
Right. That's one of the great things about this episode. Absolutely.
It stood conventional wisdom right in its head because the guy who was accused stood trial and the jury walked him. He was out of there.
Let me ask you this. Frequently, when I am trying to book defendants, or in this case, people who were defendants, and either it's a hung jury or the case has been dropped, or in this case, they were acquitted, their attorneys always say to them the same thing, which is, Look, you beat the odds once before. Most people who get hauled into court on murder charges get convicted. You were not. Why do you want to tempt fate again? Even though you can't be charged with murder again, you talking to date line is guaranteed to make prosecutors think maybe we can get another bite of this apple, and they talk these guys out of it. I've had that happen a bunch of times. How did you get Matt Moore?
That makes good sense. If I had been in this guy's situation, I would have grabbed that not guilty ballot, gone out the front door and headed to deepest, darkest, Idaho, and never been seen again. I think this guy got out there and he thought he'd been colossally screwed over by the criminal justice system, and especially the Court of public opinion, as I call it. I mean, in social media land, this guy was public enemy number one. The gossip mill had met and convened and found him guilty. I think he wanted to crawl out from under that. He wanted to reclaim his name, even though he had the ballot from the jury that he was not guilty, he even wrote a Kindle book, an e-book.
Which was probably also against his attorney's advice.
I think if there's one takeaway that loyal viewers of date lines should know by now is that you do not talk to police if you're charged. I don't care whether you sit next to the chief of detectives in church on Sunday and your softball team plays their team, you do not talk. Matt Moore walked into a disastrous police interview willingly.
When I was watching your story, I wrote down, This is why you don't talk to police without your attorney.
I bet you were yelling at the screen, man.
Don't do this. I was.
Then he consents to a lie detector test, and it's not even a lie detector test. It's something that comes out of a box of cereal. It's called a stress-voice-analyst test. It feels very much like voodoo junk science, and he fails it. He's gone to a police interview room. He's confronted, Give it up. You killed her. We know you did it. Now is the time. He's had an absolute disastrous round of talking to police. Now here at the end of it, you were mentioning why doesn't he disappear? Why is he still talking? I don't know. There's something in there that wants to be heard and get the story out against all legal advice.
One of the things I liked so much was that at the beginning of this, the first hour, you only see Matt in the police bodycam video, which is great because you see it all experientially as it's happening when you see him on the bodycam video. My first thought is, Oh, man, I hope it's not Matt. One, because then there's not going to be any mystery to this. Secondly, he seems like a nice guy, a happless guy. I hope it isn't him. I thought only showing him in the bodycam video for the first half of this, for the first hour, was great and really worked. Then later you go to him and I'm like, Okay, I'm watching him very carefully. Like all date-line viewers, I'm looking at the way he's sitting and I'm looking at his background, and I'm thinking either he's acquitted or also possible, you interviewed him while he was out of custody. He might have been out on bail for some period of time pending trial. That's always when you want to get somebody when the trial hasn't happened yet and they can talk to you freely. Because once people are locked up, it's pretty hard to disguise the fact that they're locked up.
We were conscious of that when we put him in the chair, as we say, we were doing an interview, and this is after the verdict. He is a free guy. We said if we have him talk about his backstory, the early time of the marriage, if he's not in a green tank with a ugly polo shirt on, they're going to know that he's out and about in the free world. He's roaming the country. We have to really counter game that now because people are so aware of the way we do things. So we didn't do it. We didn't try and do a fake out of whether he was out or not and just went with it. You know what's interesting? I think, about that cop video, which really begins this thing. It's document number one. Here comes Officer Hollis. He's got a bodycam and he's rolling, takes you in minute one and you're starting to hear this story. The prosecution, the cops, the prosecutors in trial later said, That's all you need. Look how guilty this guy is. I said, What? I'm looking at a guy who's coming up from... Well, he's a little hungover.
He looks like a medicated bear, a wild mountain dean, but he seems to be okay to me. He's saying, Cops, go through the house. Go through my car. I don't need a search warrant. They looked at that very same document, and that was where this case tucked off and said, Just look at that guy. Everything about him is wrong.
I'm with you on that. I didn't think he looks guilty in that opening video at all. I actually thought in the interrogation videos, he's actually holding his own.
He is. He's taking the shots and standing.
Yeah. I did pay attention to the cop saying that he says I loved her, instead of, I love her, suggesting that he knows that she's no longer with us.
Those little nooks and crannies thoughts fill out a whole case.
Against a guy. That's what made me think this might come up at trial.
He said, Josh, if you remember, I don't know what you're… He says, I didn't do it. They hadn't asked him if he did do it. He didn't say what it was, but he says, I didn't do it. Again, he's blurted out something, he's volunteered to the cops. He doesn't have to be in that room. He could say, My attorneys outside were done here.
When I was a Long Island correspondent for channel Two in New York, which was roughly 100 years ago, I think.
It's the second grand.
Administration, I think. It was, yes. Many of us thought that the car might replace the horse. It was a very exciting time in America. I covered the disappearance of a woman named Lisa Solomon, who had vanished, I think, on Christmas night. Her husband said that they'd had a fight and she walked out of the house and she never came back. Now it's like a day or two later, and we're all interviewing him on his front lawn. Eventually, it was my turn. I step up there and I interview him, and he says to me, Look, I've called in all my friends. As I recall, half of them were bikers and half were psychics. A good group of friends to have if you're looking for somebody. He said, We're going to get to the bottom of it. We're going to find out who did this. I remember thinking, How do you know anything's been done? I mean, what's been done? What do you mean? Who did this? My interview, unlike other interviews from other TV stations, let me just point out, my interview was used at trial because exactly for that. Because of the way he talked about her and the way he suggested that he knew that some crime had been committed when, in fact, no crime was in fact alleged.
Subsequently, Lisa Solomon was found. She was no longer alive, and he's locked up right now.
We were looking at the transcripts of this, Josh, of what everybody had told us. There was a phrase that kept coming up, and I really was haunted by it. Here we are meant to be dealing with laws and rules and forensics. People kept saying to us, It just didn't feel right. It didn't feel right in my what this guy was telling me. That's pretty much what they went to trial with. That became the driving force. Something's not right about it. I just think there's got to be more than something doesn't feel right.
There does. I mean, prosecutors have ethical obligations to not bring cases unless they have a more than reasonable certainty, as you know, that the person's going to be convicted. You can't just say, Let's let a jury decide. It doesn't feel right. They got to have more than that.
But we didn't quite know how to handle for a long time the forensics on this thing because this case became dueling experts. We've seen experts all our lives, Josh, right? People are paid $30,000, $40,000 to take the stand and tell the jury of what they know. In this case, you had a couple of them. It was a very difficult science. I mean, the forensics of the the neckbone, the anatomy of the neckbone, and people don't really know what's happening. We don't have in our common experience. You had two theories about why this woman was dead. Was it a hands-on manually straddling? Did that account for the broken bones in her neck? Or was it the ligature, the thing that she was hanging from that had somehow slipped and cracked her bones after four months in the clearing? We thought, How are we going to get people through this very dense technical testimony?
First of all, I thought you did a great job with that, you and Dorothy, because I was pretty interested in the expert testimony by the time at round. That woman, Diane, the defense expert, that woman is a reasonable doubt factory.
People don't get indicted for murder because they got a set of good facts. But she was able to sort this thing out and say, Look, jurors, you're being asked to decide whether this is a murder, a sage suicide, or a homicide. She said, That's not the question. The question is this guy sitting on the bench next to me, is it his hands that caused her death? The whole argument in the court was derailed by murder versus suicide. In the end, the prosecution had no, and I mean, no evidence to say that his hands were on her and caused this thing. You know what? I think she's the better storyteller. I've often thought, Josh, it doesn't matter how good your facts are. If you have a spellbinding storyteller in front of the jury, he or she has better odds of winning in the prosecution.
Whatever they paid her was worth it. I quote this all the time on Twitter. It's Race Horse Haynes, the great defense attorney from Texas, who famously said, What's money when you're looking at 25 to life in the crossbar hotel? I would say Matt got his money's worth.
You're talking about those old Houston, Texas lawyers back in the day. They would go to JC Penney's and buy a suit to argue before the jury and have a wonderful Italian silk suit to wear to the country club on Saturday night. They want to be the man of the people. It's part of the business of being storytellers. You have to get their attention. You have to make them think about.
Your guy. Yeah, I agree that the talent in the courtroom frequently surpasses the evidence that is or is not introduced. We've seen that again and again and again with different attorneys.
Diane Monashie is an absolute star. The prosecution in this case never came clean about what their theory of the crime was. Was she killed in the woods and was she strung up as a stage suicide? Was she killed in her house and through some machinations unknown, her body brought in the dark past all of the eyes that were out there walking their dogs and watching and somehow he brought her into the woods. She said, Jurors, I just looked at the clock. It's 1:05 and jury summations when we finally found out their theory of the crime. She said, If that isn't reasonable doubt, I don't know what it is. Good point, Diane. They had not told them their story of what had happened.
Yeah, I agree. And prosecutors are not required to provide a motive, but juries like to hear them.
I just can't see him doing this. Some of them thought he wasn't the brightest blade in the pack. How did the Schmo figure this thing out? And to find a LG brand little teeny, tiny phone card charger to be the news? This is not a John Wayne hanging tree news. This is a thing you use to charge your phone. They said that's what supported her for four months, this teeny, tiny cord. That didn't seem to make any sense either. But it did. It worked.
It felt as if suicide had been a factor in Emily's life. It surrounded her. To suggest that her suicide came out of the blue, it was unquestionable that it's a thing that she had thought about many times. I don't mean actually doing it, but the issue of suicide was clearly something that was part of her consciousness.
She had lost her husband from 10 years before with a gunshot wound. Matt's son, who was mentally ill, he committed suicide by hanging in the woods in that same town. Her parents had died in a violent car wreck. She was surrounded by death.
I think that's right. I think there's so little that is known about suicide and about depression. In fact, interviewing someone, when police interview a friend of someone who either killed themselves or it was murder, and they say, Did they seem sad? Did they seem depressed? The person, No, not at all. They didn't seem at all depressed. That is frequently taken by law enforcement as evidence of clearly this was murder and not suicide. In fact, of course, people who are severely depressed in a lot of cases are really good at hiding that, particularly from the people who are closest to them, who you would think are the ones who would recognize it, but they don't always recognize it. I think that that may be played a little bit in this too.
Emily Noble was a neat guy. It was the squared-off bedsheets, not a drop on the floor. I could see a person like that getting up, making her bed, and then going out to the woods and killing herself. I don't think those are inconsistent facts. Prosecutor thought that was absurd. Why would anybody do that? But that whole bias of she had the rest of her life ahead of her and her friends could not see her ever, ever doing it. That really did drive the investigation. When they talked to some of the friends that said she was not suicidal, I don't think any of us know what suicidal is.
As always, if you or someone you know is in crisis, call the suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 on your phone, or visit 988 lifeline. Org for more resources.
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Social media in this, while this was unfolding before Matt was charged, was universally against him. It reminded me a little bit of Keith's case in Idaho with those kids who were killed in the house, in which social media, I'm not going to say it propelled a prosecution, but it was a factor in all of it, and in some cases, slowed down law enforcement and accused people who had absolutely nothing to do with the crime, and in some cases, I think, seriously damaged some people. This felt like some version of the same thing with everyone online yammering that this guy is a crook, this guy is a killer. We need to proceed and lock him up. I'm wondering whether that spurred the prosecution on.
I asked that question, Josh, directly of the prosecutor from the courtroom. I said, Look, did the court or public opinion conclusion that this guy was a killer, did that blow back into your decision to move forward with the case? They denied it. They said it was strictly based on the forensics, the examination of the bones. But this guy was toasted by two days in. The woman had been missing two days. On the Facebook pages, they decided that this guy was guilty. Somehow we're to come out that if he'd flunked a lie.
Detector test and he wasn't searching.
Where are you, dude? If this is the love of your life, how come you're not out there elbow to elbow with us as we're going through the woods.
He said he didn't do that because Facebook had already rallied against him, and if he was going to go into the mob, that was not the way to be. He just took a pass on that, too. Another error that he made. In addition to talking to police before he talked to an attorney, he should have been seen with the the searchers.
In your interview with Matt, first of all, any preconditions? Is there anything he said I don't want to talk about?
No, I think it was, Let's go. As far as I know, there was nothing off the table.
He seemed so much more cheerful than I expected him to be. I mean, he smiled much more than I expected him to.
Given that- That's exactly what surprised me when I met this guy. We'd seen him on the officer cam at the doorstep. Then when I met him out in Las Vegas, where he lives, we did the interview, he's engaging. He's good. He's totally socially appropriate. There's nothing off about him. He's certainly not the guy in the doorway that the cop met, but it is disarming.
I guess I just thought that his demeanor during your interview would be more serious in that this is him trying to reestablish his position in the world through this interview and the e-book he wrote as, I am not a killer. I'm a good guy. I actually suffered a loss. My wife killed herself. I didn't do it. I don't know if I'd be smiling when I told that story.
He's a guy that likes to keep a room happy. He's a pleaser. He says that. That was his dynamic with Emily. She would become operatic, and he would keep things light and spray some lithium around the room and his conversation and everything would be okay. That's how he gets through life. I had to ask him. I said, Look, did you do it? The whole world wants to know, did you do it? I know you got a ticket that you didn't do it from the county courthouse. He said, Why would you ask me that? If I were there, wouldn't you think there would have been something to convict me?
Why would you ask me that? Why do you think we're here?
The response should be, Dude, I love my wife. She was the spark of my life. Why would I kill her? That comes down about paragraph three after, but I thought that was odd.
Yeah. Aren't we here to ask you that? I mean, aren't you here to answer that, to refute that? Come on. When I'm watching your story, I was thinking to myself, Either this is a small town department that doesn't get a lot of murders and did not want to come off him as a suspect once they got that sent, or they were right. At the end, that's the question you're left with.
I don't know, Josh, what happened in the woods that night. I don't know. Neither does the best friend, Celesta, started off on Emily's side, and then she met the new husband. He'd been there a couple of years. She liked him okay. But she came around to thinking he was guilty. What she told me was, I would like to know what happened. It's still the mystery of my life. She thinks he did it, but it can't be proved.
This is it. There's no wrongful death suit coming from this. He was acquitted, and there is no other legal tale behind Matt. He is free to lead the rest of his life.
The judge had an interesting, I thought, farewell to Matt. The jury had come back. The court was breaking up, and he said, I don't think that the quest for justice for Emily should result in a quest of injustice for you. The flip side of trying to help her is not to get you hung up for this thing. I asked Diane Menashi, the lawyer, later, I said, Look, is it possible that Emily was, in fact, killed that she was a victim of a homicide? She said, Sure, could happen, but it's not my guy. It's not my guy, and they never proved that it was him. So it is still a big mystery what happened to Emily Noble, at least in my mind.
Yeah, and clearly in the minds of the jury, and very possibly in the minds of the date-line audience now. Dennis, thanks so much.
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