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tv   Dateline Extra  MSNBC  February 10, 2018 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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>> do you ever sense the has failed to work effectively with the fbi that they don't trust their own employees, that they haven't acted on that information brought to them? >> you know, my colleague shawn maloney, who was a staff secretary for bill clinton, he's sent and sent to our oversight committee concerns about not just mr. porter but there's been concern from 30 or 40 individuals who -- >> thank you, congressman. i want to hear from eric swalwell and what he had to say. thank you all for coming. that's "hardball" for now. thanks for being with us. we were in love. >> they were so happy at first sharing a lovers perch high atop a cliff. but romance turned to danger.
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she fell from the edge. >> i would call this an accidental death. >> but was it? >> she said that if anything happens to me, you'll know who did it. >> a mystery of nearly 20 years heads into court and the husband is on the precipice. >> did you kill your wife, jodi? >> i did not. >> what happened on the cliff's edge? hello and welcome to dateline extra. i'm craig melvin. when police got word that someone had fallen off a cliff, they weren't surprised. the place was known to be dangerous, but even they couldn't guess it would take almost 20 years to find out what really happened to a woman out on an evening hike with her husband. here's chris janson. >> every couple has it. a shared song, a favorite movie or maybe a special place.
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steven sharp says for him and his wife jody, this was it. two rocks forming a lovers chair on the edge of a cliff. >> that was our spot. >> they'd been escaping to this magical place for years, ever since they were newly weds for a starter apartment in new jersey. up here the air was fresh and the views seemed limitless. >> it's sort of framed by trees. you should look down to right of the george washington bridge. >> what they did want see from here, of course, was the future. had they caught even a glimpse of what was to come, surely they would have abandoned this place forever. steven and jody met in the late '70s in georgia. he was in the army, a bookworm
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who love the civil war. she taught history. there's was a meeting first of minds, then hearts. how would you sort of describe those early years? were they loving? were they exciting? >> yes, they were -- you know, we were in love. it was ecstatic. >> from there, marriage, a house, a son jonathan in 1983. and how would you describe jody as a mom? >> she was really devoted. >> life was good. and even as the years went by, even with the demands of work and family, steven says he and jody still make time for each other like that last summer sunday in september of 1992. steven says it was supposed to be a date night. >> no idea that that would be the most critical day in our
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life, our marriage. >> it was a day like any other day. >> yes. >> here was the plan. husband and wife would drive into manhattan and go to a comedy dlub, a lighthearted night on the town. but they made a detour here to palisades, to their spot. steven remember pulling up to the scening look out, sitting in the car with jody, sharing a wine cooler. klthere were other people there sitting in their cars. and we walked up and looked over the spot where the binoculars were, and looked up to this sort of open view. >> he says they then turned and took a narrow well-worn path to those rocks. they sat there as the night fell around him, he with his back against the rock, holding her as she sat directly in front of him. at some point something goes terribly wrong. >> yes. >> he said he stood up intending to go back to the car to get wine and a blanket. for whatever reason jody stood
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up, too. the edge of the rock was at her feet. what was your last glimpse of your wife? >> just standing up and, you know, stumbling forward. >> jody had gone off the cliff. >> i didn't know how bad things were, but i was stunned. i -- >> what did you do? >> i got down on my stomach, stuck my head over and i just yelled. jody, joedy, talk to me. >> but no response. he grabbed a flashlight and flagged down a motorist who came here to the palisades interstate police station. lieutenant walter siri was on duty. >> until he came through that door it was a quiet night, and then all hell broke loose. >> a frantic man was telling them a woman had fallen from the look out above and her husband was calling for help.
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>> i was there at a rescue mission. i shot she was alive. >> he began to lower himself off the side of the cliff where the woman's husband says she had fallen. about ten feet down he caught sight of a ledge. >> the minute i got to that ledge there was a purse, i think two credit cards. >> on a ledge ten feet down? >> right. >> but it was what he didn't see that confused him. there was no sign that the woman's body had also hit that ledge or any part of the cliffs. >> nothing. no blood, no hair, no clothing, no fibers, no skin. >> by that point officer walter siree had arrived up at the look out. since there was nothing the husband could do to help in the rescue siri was told to get him out of the way and drove him back down to police headquarters. on the way steven recounted the awful moment his wife disappeared. >> we were talking and she said for me to go back to car and get
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the blanket. and she slipped and i didn't see her anymore. >> rescuer troughy had made it to the base of the cliff. he had expected to find a wounded woman here, but he didn't. >> i said alt the first point maybe this was a hoax. maybe she never went off the cliff. >> he and another rescuer began to walk along the base, pointing their flash lights north. finally about 30 feet away the beams landed on something white. it was jody lying motionless next to a tree. >> there was a lot of blood on that tree and the blood was actually draining down the tree. that's where severe impact took. that's where she really, you know -- >> jody sharp had not survived the fall. to him it was clear, she had slammed into that tree. as he began to move the body, he noticed something else. >> she had the odor of an
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alcoholic beverage that emanated from her body. >> so when you smelled that did you think maybe she had had too much to drink and fell? >> at that moment, yes. >> steven sharp was waiting in a police station for someone to tell him what it happened to his wife. do you remember what goes through your mind at that point? >> how badly is she hurt? where is she? >> and that's when an officer walked into the room and broke the news to steven. jody was gone. >> i don't even remember who came in and told me. >> and what your reaction? >> how could this happen? >> that question would haunt him and many others. and it would take years for the answers to finally come. coming up. >> he was rubbing his eyes to make it look like he was crying. >> you thought he was faking tears? >> absolutely. >> curious behavior puts a
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welcome back to dateline cru. it started out as a romantic date for a new jersey couple. but it ended in tragedy. jody and steven sharf hike to a fav favori favorite spot to take olook a l the view. >> it was the worse night of his life and now steven sharf in the early morning hours of september 21, 1992 had to tell his 10-year-old son, jonathan, his mother was dead. >> i said we need today take a walk.
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and i told him and me immediately burst into tears. and i cry like i baby and i wasn't ashamed. >> he remembers his distraught son's reaction but little else from those hours. were you sleeping, eating or were you -- >> i was drinking. i had my my wife and his son lost his mom. >> there was plenty of sympathy to be sure. his wife had died in a freak accident off a cliff of all places. how could that happen? and that's exactly what police who were there the night of jody death wanted to know, too. >> right away i got a feeling that there was something definitely wrong. >> it nagged at rescuer michael chiofy. why was jody's purse on a ledge, just feet below where her husband said she had fallen.
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>> either she should be here or the pocketbook should be down with her. and it wasn't fitting. >> another thought dawned on him. if jody had tumbled, why hadn't she hit the side of the cliffs? there was no blood or hair anywhere on the rocks. and the location of jody's body seemed off to him. way off. >> she was like 30 to 40 feet away from us to the north. when a person falls off a cliff usually they're going to go south or right down. right down where the got off the ropes, that's where she should have been. >> someone else was scratching their head that night for different reasons. it had to do with steven's behavior while the search was under way. the officer was surprised he was willing to leave the look out while rescuers were looking for jody. >> did he give any indication he didn't want to leave?
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>> no, not at all. >> if it was my wife or girlfriend or whoever they are, they would have to pry me from the top of those cliffs. >> but he willingly got into your patrol car? >> without a word. >> when the officer heard steven describe how his wife had fallen, he made a mental note. >> there was no emotion in it at all. like he was reading a script. >> did it occur to you, maybe he's in shock? >> no, i've seen people who have lost loved ones, i've never seen anybody act that way. >> but it was particular moment later inside the station house that really dot the officer's attention. >> and he asked if he could get a drink from the water fountain. he was splashing water into face and rubbing his eyes to make it look like he was crying. >>ia thought he was faking tears? >> absolutely. absolutely. >> a death scene where the
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pieces didn't connect. a husband who appeared n nonchallant. from a cop's point of view things were adding up and not in steven's favor. >> it was the totality of the circumstances. every little thing was clicking in my mind. and i'm saying to myself, this isn't right. something is wrong here. >> gut instinct is one thing. people are paid to be suspicious. maybe their view of steven was too jaundiced. a few months later the ruling was in. the burgen county medical examiner concluded the manner of jody sharf's death could not be determined. the accident was like anything
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else, case closed or was it. >> coming up. >> so you didn't think was a horrible accident. >> no. >> the suspicions grow. there a weapon at this romantic ron day view? when over the edge continues. whoooo.
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its technology was engineered (beeping). while its design was meant to be seen. experience the new 2018 lexus nx, and the nx hybrid. experience amazing, at your lexus dealer. welcome back to dateline extra. police began to question stephen scharf's behavior after his wife fell from the edge of a cliff. to them he just didn't seem like a grieving. but did their suspicions amount to anything than a hunch. >> her husband said so, and the medical examiner wasn't arguing with him. but detectives have a kind of sixth sense about cases.
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it was telling james linem something sinter had just happened. so you didn't think was a horrible accident? >> no. >> there wasn't any smoke and gun really, just something dark he thought he could read between the lines in his police notes he reviewed the day after jody's death. >> he did not react like somebody who just lost his wife should have reacted. >> and so the detective moved his investigation from the physical evidence to the less tangible clues. he quickly learned from jody's friends that this was a couple not in love but in crisis. the subject wasn't wine and roses on those cliffs. it was divorce. >> she was going to go through with it, yes, absolutely. >> jody's long time friend told detectives hat jody had been determined to take her 10-year-old son jonathan and leave her husband. she was convinced stephen had
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been cheating on her. >> she couldn't prove anything, but women called the house. and sometimes they'd call and hang up on her. >> in fact, linem learned jody had served her husband divorce papers on september 8, 1992. less than two weeks later she was dead at the base of the palisades. the timing made him even more eager to talk to the widower scharf. there's a sit down with scharf. he's consented to talk, right? >> yes. >> two days of his wife's death, stephen scharf was freely answering detectives questions. yes, he told them, he and his wife were talking divorce as they had sometimes done during their tem pestuous marriage. and it was true, there were other women. >> he said they had an open marriage and they were seeing different people. he actually said he'd seen like 50 or 60 women.
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>> and she was okay with it. >> she was okay with it, yeah. >> they came to this romantic yet treacherous spot to reconnect and kiss and make-up. >> and the spot where they went, it's not a spot you would go to reconcile with anybody. >> detectives weren't buyic the story for another reason. they had found something suspicious inside scharf's car. a bag for items you mind expect for a romantic picnic and one you would not, a hammer. >> wine, cheese, claw hammer. if red flags are going up, they reached the top of the pole at that point. >> did you think that might be a murder weapon? >> yeah, i thought that myth be plan arkts, and he didn't use it so he went to plan b. >> which he believed was to push or throw jody off that cliff. so detectives asked him the
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obvious. what was a hammer doing in that picnic bag? >> well, he told us he fixed a drawer in his kitchen with a hammer. he put it in the bag with his picnic items. it was a convenient excuse for having that hammer. >> detectives asked if they could check out the drawer and the rest of steven's house that night. he agreed. but as it turned something potentially far more telling was happening away from the action. >> and i said, look, mr. scharf, i'm your local police department. >> he was a local officer told to keep an eye on stephen scharf that night as detectives combed through his house. the officer says he began talking to stephen about what had happened to jody when stephen interrupted him. >> he finally looks at me and says you don't believe plea. >> and then the officer says scharf said something that almost knocked him off his feet. >> and i said i believed an
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accident occurred. and i said was it an accident. and he put his head down and he said no. >> he believed that was a stunning confession. he ran to del the other detectives including linem, but they had just spent hours grilling the man. >> we didn't get the feeling that that point it would have done anything. >> they didn't find evidence. >> the cause of death at that time was listed as undetermined so officially it wasn't a homicide. >> in time the detectives moved onto other cases. stephen scharf moved on, too. 14 years after his wife's death, he remarried. tina scharf says he's been a loving ideal. >> it was like we were two puzzle pieces that were made for each other where each of us completed the other person. >> utven in this happy new life, he says, he's never forgotten
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about jody. but he might have been surprised to learn that someone else was thinking of her, too, after all these years. burgen county had a new prosecutor and he was eager to revisit old case files. among them an unexplained death here on the cliffs of the palisades so many years ago, the death of jody scharf. >> there was this renewed push since 2002 to look into the cold cases. >> marcos covered the trial for the record newspaper in new jersey. on one hand, he says, it didn't seem the prosecutor had any reason to pursue the cold case. >> in terms of hard evidence it had absolutely nothing new. >> but the prosecutor did have someone new. a famous name to join the investigation into jody scharf's death. dr. michael baden, a world renowned forensic pathologist who investigated the deaths ofs of john f. kennedy and john bu loogsy and testified at the
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trial of o. j. simpson. he was about to turn up the heat on a very cold case. >> the doctor has reviewed the evidence and has determined this could not have been an accidental fall. >> in december of 2008 detectives paid one more visit to stephen scharf. >> they wouldn't tell me what it was for. i had no idea what was about. it didn't make sense. >> 16 years after that fatal night on the cliff, police were back. and stephen scharf was in for a shock. after all these years you thought it was done. >> not until they reach behind and hand me this thing, this arrest warrant. >> coming up, the case heads into court with a surprise from the stand. >> and hear from my mother. >> stephen and jody scharf's only son has some dark secrets to share. >> did you see that abuse? >> i did. >> when "over the edge" continues. where's frank?
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i'm dara brown with hours top stories. president donald trump taking to stwiter on saturday asking what happened to due process in reference to two white house officials who resigned suddenly following domestic abuse allegations by their ex-wives. and with the winter olympics finally under way tensions with north and south korea apparently beginning to thaw. kim jong-un's sister apparently invited man jay in to visit the south korean capital. now back to dateline. welcome back to dateline extra. years after jody scharf fell to her death a new prosecutor reopened the case and brought in a famous forensic pathologist to reexamine the evidence. what would he uncover? here again is chris janson.
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>>ane ever murder trial time is an invisible but crucial player for both sides. sometimes it hurts a case. memory fade, evidence is lost, witnesses die. but time can also put evidence in a new light. such was the case in the trial of stephen scharf, accused of killing his wife nearly two decades ago. >> there is no statute of limitations on murder. >> the prosecutor promised the evidence would tell a story as simple as it was brutal. a husband determined to avoid a costly divorce lured his wife to the edge of a cliff and forced her off it. >> if he has lied, he is guilty. >> the state martialed some familiar facts to tell its story, starting with the crime scene, where the prosecutor said the cliffs show nee sign of an accidental tumble.
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>> no debris, no clothing, no blood, no hair, no tissue. >> and then there was the husband himself. cool and collected in the back of a police car. >> i didn't see any emotion from him. >> who later confessed, the prosecutor said, to killing his wife. >> and then i said it was an accident. and he said, no. >> but those facts were not where the case ended. the prosecutor argued that they simply set the stage for the real case, a story told by the victim's friends, family and most importantly by a star witness. >> my opinion is that the manner of death is homicide. >> dr. michael baden, the famous forensic pathologist, told jurors the crime scene spoke of a murder, not an accident. >> if a person falls accidently, the individual will be, you know, within a couple of feet of
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the base of the building. >> and that didn't happen in the case of jody scharf. her body landed 50 feet out from the top of a cliff, and 30 feet to the north. >> she had to have been propelled from that point. >> jody had to have been thrown or pushed to her death, he said. and likely from another spot entirely on those cliffs. he wasn't the only expert who saw it that way. >> the head and chest injuries are not consist with someone that tumbles down the cliff face. >> dr. marryanne, clayton was the burgen county medical examiner who first ruled the circumstances of jody's death could not be determined. now on second look, she says, the victims wounds our lack of them told her something different, something vital. if jody had tumbled down the
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palisades she would have broken bones everywhere. she did not. >> there were no visible injuries on the back of her body. >> but why would stephen kill his wife. the biggest reason the prosecutor argued is he didn't want a divorce, he didn't want a custody fight, and he didn't want to split assets with jody. and there was yet another motive for stephen said the prosecutor, a potential pay out. >> ussa life insurance company. >> an insurance representative testified about a $500,000 policy taken out against jody scharf months before her death, payable to a primary beneficiary. >> you can tell us the policyowner? >> stephen f. scharf. >> jody scharf was simply worth more dead than alive. her friend testified that jody feared stephen might do something violent if she pushed for that divorce.
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even so, she said, jody was determined to get away from her husband. >> she was going to have divorce papers served on stephen, and she was very afraid of him. >> yet was stephen violent enough to kill his wife? an unlikely but powerful witness was about to testify against stephen scharf. >> i hear from my mother. >> his own son took the stand against him. now a businessman, jonathan scharf painted his father as an angry violent man who terrorized his mother. >> did you see that abuse? >> i did. >> jonathan scharf said he realized his father had likely killed his mother only after that arrest in 2008. this videotaped interview shows him recalling the dark past for the first time to police. >> she got coffee thrown at her by him. >> now in court he had even more to tell about his childhood,
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like the afternoon he sat cowering in the back seat of a car watching his mother suffer. >> my mom was driving and my dad was just hitting her with the bottom of his fist. and i was just, like, begging him to stop doing it. >> he also remembered the last day of his mother's life. he was 10 and said his mother told his father that she didn't want to go out with him alone. >> she said if i wanted to go out with you, i wouldn't be divorcing you. >> but where was the proof that stephen had planned to kill jody that night? well, there was the hammer in the picnic bag. but there was also testimony from this woman, one of stephen's old girlfriends. >> i even mentioned to my girlfriend that it was a perfect relationship. >> terry scofield had been dating stephen months before jody scharf's death. >> did mr. scharf tell you
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whether or not he was married. >> actually, he said he was not married. >> and remembered something strange stephen said to her on the beach over that labor day weekend. >> he was under a lot of stress, and the stress would be resolved by the end of september. >> two weeks later jody scharf was dead. terry now sees that cryptic statement in a dreadful light. >> i was like oh, no, the end of september. and then the light bulb went off immediately. >> it also went off for her friend, in perhaps the most chilling testimony of the cushion's case, she told the jury when she heard her friend was gone she immediately remembered something jody said just weeks earlier. >> she said that during this conversation that i have with him, if anything happens to me, you'll know who did it. she said you'll know it was him. >> the prosecutor's position was clear, a husband with the
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motive, the perfect setting, the violent intent to kill his wife. or was there another way of looking at that couple perched high on those cliffs on a summer night? stephen's new wife says the prosecution has it all wrong. >> my husband is not capable. that is not the man he is. my husband is sweet, kind, loving, considerate. >> the defense was ready to show how stephen scharf, far from villain, was the real victim in this story. >> coming up. >> they destroyed the crime scene area. >> new questions about the evidence, and was there another reason why a son might implicate his dad? >> who does the money go to? >> it goes to me. >> when "over the edge" continues.
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welcome back to dateline extra. we continue now with "over the edge." once again chris janson. >> stephen scharf is not guilty. >> 18 years after the death of his first wife, more than a decade after the investigation first stalled stephen scharf was being called a killer. but his defense attorney argued there was no new evidence in this case, no new eyewitnesses. only new opinions. >> i'm talking about the same old facts and circumstances. >> bolink s said the state was hoping to win a murder conviction by painting his client as a terrible husband, that it couldn't prove he was a killer in 1992 and it couldn't prove it today. >> my client, stephen scharf, has been wrongfully charged with her death. >> and one reason the prosecutor
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couldn't prove murder had to do with sloppily police work, the defense attorney said, suggesting it had been like keystone cops on the palisades that fatal night. >> you never photographed the body before you moved it, did you? >> no, sir. >> why didn't they take photographs? they destroyed the crime scene area. >> they didn't even bother to question potential eyewitnesses, he said. instead, they cleared visitors from the look out. >> there might have been someone who saw something or heard something. >> there might have been. there's a possibility that might have happened. >> and if police were so suspicious of his client two nights later, the defense said, why didn't they video their interview with him? that way jurors could have judged stephen scharf's supposedly odd demeanor for themselves. why didn't you? >> not an interrogation.
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he wasn't in custody. i don't know. >> the defense attorney also argued the defense attorney msad in his home. >> my client never said it was an accident. >> and as for that hammer. >> the hammer was examined by forensic experts. there was nothing found on that hammer. >> and the defense attorney pressed the medical examiner on her flip-flop. undetermined manner of death in '93. now it was a homicide. really? >> are you trying to say that you're learning from your mistakes on this case? >> crow may call them mistakes, sir. i did the best i could in 1992 documenting what i had observed with ms. scharf. >> the medical examiner was helpful to the defense in one critical way, though. she determined that jody had been drunk the night she fell off the cliffs. jody had a blood alcohol level
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of .12. that was over the limit. >> it would be equivalent to approximately four average sized drinks or beer, something like that. >> a drunkful fall argued the defense. to back that up, the lawyer had his own heavy hitter. famed pathologist dr. cyril wekt. as high profile as the prosecution's dr. baden. only wekt had a totally different take on how jody scharf died. >> i would call this an accidental death. >> in wekt's version which he demonstrated with all things a teddy bear, jody fell off a cliff onto jagged rocks below causing her mortal woods. her body then catapulted. >> and out goes the body and hurtles into the air. >> into the tree canopy that
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hurtles her into the abyss and into that tree. >> this is what i think happened to explain the injuries on the chest and hips. >> there was a bubble to burst in the prosecution's case, the motive for murder. stephen scharf wasn't a greedy killer, he said. his client never made a claim on that insurance policy. it was only after the money was turned over to the state years later, he said, that stephen scharf even bothered to collect. would it throw fuel on the fire not to do it. well, i know i look guilty because i am guilty i better not make this claim. >> you're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't. >> the other alleged motive, divorce, was flims assy well, he said. jody and stephen had been talking break up for years. the prosecutor ppaints a picture
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of someone, who frankly isfurous about this divorce. >> no one person ever indicated that my client was furious over this divorce. they had talked about divorce for years. maybe she was, you know, saying one thing and not following through. >> though it is true stephen scharf did not want a divorce, he says he wanted to give the marriage another chance. and as for that former girlfriend, terry scofield, she recounted stephen's missteyster statement just before jody's death. >> just give me until the september and everything will be okay, a lot of the stress will be gone. >> the defense attorney says that was stephen's clumsy way of trying to dump his girlfriends. and speaking of which, he added, those other women did not bother jody at all. she was seeing other people herself. >> the person on the bottom half in both of those is who?
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>> jody scharf. >> the record keeper of dating service testified that jody's name was on an application. she even checked off the interests she'd like to share with a mate. the attorney offered that as proof of stephen and jody's open marriage. but what really wrinkled the defense, what had torn at the heart of stephen scharf was the testimony of his son, jonathan. >> i remember her showing me her bruises. >> he had painted his father as a brute and possibly a killer. >> i never hit jody. it made me sick to my stomach. >> the young man wasn't to be believed, said the lawyer. for one thing when police interviewed jonathan back in 2008 the young man described his dad as a good guy. >> i think he was a, you know, fairly decent guy.
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>> it was only after detectives told him his dad had just been arrested that the son turned on his father. >> she got coffee thrown at her by him. >> before you found out that your dad was arrested, did you lie? >> yes. >> and did you lie more than once? >> yes. >> why would jonathan turn on his father and lie? the defense lawyer said it was jonathan, not his dad who was motivated by greed. if stephen scharf was convicted, his son would get all that insurance money. >> who's the money go to? >> it goes to me. >> in the end the lawyer called stephen scharf's son a spoiled brat. >> that sounds like some spoiled kid. >> who was not a credible witness. in closing, he insisted this wasn't a murder case. just a sad story about a woman who tumbled drunkenly to her
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death. >> this case is an accident. nothing more, nothing less. >> soon it would be in the hands of a jury. >> coming up. >> it was a light bulb. you couldn't help but think, that's interesting. >> the jurors speak. what would they decide? >> stephen, did you kill your wife, jody? >> the verdict when "over the edge" continues. it's 6 am. 40 million americans are waking up to a gillette shave. and at our factory in boston, more than a thousand workers are starting their day building on over a hundred years of heritage, craftsmanship and innovation. today we're bringing you america's number one shave at lower prices every day. putting money back in the pockets of millions of americans. as one of those workers, i'm proud to bring you gillette quality for less, because nobody can beat the men and women of gillette. gillette - the best a man can get.
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the jury is about to decide the fate of stephen scharf. here's kris janson with a conclusion of our story. >> 18 years after a night that end in his wife's death off a cliff, stephen scharf stood accused of murder by the state of new jersey. and through it all one thing he wants you to know is this. he would never have laid a hand on his beloved jody, never. stephen, did you kill your wife, jody? >> i did not hurt jody. i did not. >> did you throw her off the palisades? >> no, i did not. i did not. i didn't hurt jody. i didn't push her. i didn't cause her to get hurt. i didn't kill my wife. >> we talked to stephen scharf at the burgen county jail, where
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he was held for more than two years after his arrest in 2008. he and his wife tina say they've paid a high price for something he didn't do. >> we visited through a piece of plate glass. our daughter is 2 1/2 and has still never been held by her father because we don't have contact visits. >> it's not just a tragedy for jody. it's a tragedy for john. it's a tragedy for my wife. it's a tragedy for my daughter and for myself. >> still, he decided not to take the stand in his own defense but told dateline that what he first said years ago about his wife's death was the truth. >> i wish it didn't happen. i wish we'd gone to the comedy club, but i didn't -- i'm innocent. >> but had the jury gotten that same message? when they walked into the that deliberating room for the first time, some jurors, in fact, planned to vote not guilty.
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>> there wasn't enough evidence for me. that's what it was. >> others were thinking guilty. >> it was several things. it was no one thing that had made up my mind. >> the jurors went back and forth over the evidence. and here's what they came to believe. that jody was likely drunk and hat her husband knew it. and if that was the case, why would he let her get so close to the edge of a cliff? >> as a husband knowing that your wife was drinking, would you bring her there? >> the jurors deliberated three days before deciding whether stephen scharf should be found guilty or not guilty of a single count of murder. >> on the charge of murder of jody anne scharf your verdict is? >> guilty. >> guilty. later jurors said what united them with the testimony of jody's friend, telling them that jody was terrified of her
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husband. >> that possibly she was telling everyone if something happens to me it was my husband. >> and it was another woman in stephen's life who also swayed the jury. terry scofield recounting what stephen said to her weeks before jody's death, that his stress would soon be over. >> that was something that pushed me towards what we decided in the end. >> it was the light bulb. >> to them it wasn't jody who slipped but her husband with that menacing statement. they believed it wasn't just a fall from the cliffs. it was a cold-blooded execution. stephen scharf was sentenced to life in prison. he says the jurors condemned him not on the facts but for his and jody's tumultuous open marriage. so you think this was a moral judgment on the part of jurors? >> yes. and i suppose some people would say, well, he was punished for his moral weakness. but this was a murder trial.
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>> but for rescuer michael chiofy it's a fitting end to a story that's haunted him since that night on the palisades. >> this has never left me. it's been years. i went back there myself without people knowing it several times because it bothered me. something was wrong. >> for close friends like marry anne hillforty, the verdict does not remove the sting of the loss. >> i'm angry that he took the life of a beautiful person. that's what bothers me the most. that he would do that and think he was going to get away it. he wanted the insurance money. he wanted his son, he'd have the house. he'd have whatever he wanted, and she'd be out of the way. now, i think that was sad.
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>> that's all for this edepositiedition of dateline extra. i'm craig melvin. thanks for watching. it was very exciting. >> they met in vegas. a professional poker player. >> he said he was making good money at it. >> a former trapeze artist. she fell for him. but she didn't gamble on this. >> i could smell the odor of decay and blood. >> or this. >> at every turn there was another woman. >> married, with a child and women in multiple cities. >> what else is he capable of? >> capable of murder? he had a

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