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Valedictorian Murder Trial

Aired November 14, 2012 - 20:00:00   ET


NANCY GRACE, HLN HOST: Breaking news tonight, live, Highland township, Michigan. The perfect son, the high school valedictorian, star athlete turned U of M biology major, doting son. Bombshell tonight. At this hour, he is accused in the vicious murder of his own mother, mother of two Ruth Pyne`s body found by her 10-year-old girl, bludgeoned stabbed repeatedly 16 times to the neck and upper torso, lying there in the family garage.

But tonight, in a surprising twist, Ruth Pyne`s husband -- that`s Jeffrey`s father -- the neighbors, the former teachers, they all agree the wrong guy is locked up, Jeffrey Pyne is innocent, and tonight, the real murderer is walking free.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeffrey Pyne was by all accounts the perfect son, a University of Michigan biology student. He was the high school`s valedictorian and a star athlete.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Allegedly murdering his own mother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ruth Pyne`s body was found bludgeoned and stabbed repeatedly inside the garage of her family`s idyllic suburban Michigan home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t feel that, you know, the real murderer has been caught.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By all accounts, what happened inside this suburban home is a complicated story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The family`s dark side...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Court records show Ruth had a history of mental illness dating back 14 years and was allegedly often violent. In 2010, she was accused of attacking Jeffrey, allegedly beating him and attempting to strangle him. She was jailed for two weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The question is, did this violent history with the mother provide a motive for the son to then commit the murder?


GRACE: Good evening. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us.

Bombshell tonight. Live to Highland township, Michigan. The perfect son, the high school valedictorian, star athlete turned U of M biology major, a doting son -- at this hour, he stands accused in the vicious murder of his own mom.

But tonight, in a surprising twist, Ruth Pyne`s husband, Jeffrey`s father, the neighbors, the former teachers -- they all agree the wrong guy is locked up, Jeffrey Pyne is innocent, and tonight, that means a killer is walking free.

We are taking your calls. I want to go straight out to Jean Casarez, legal correspondent, "In Session." Jean Casarez, they`re keeping it very, very close to the vest, why this young man who`s, frankly, everything a mom would want her son to grow up to be -- why he is charged in the brutal death of his mother.

JEAN CASAREZ, LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, "IN SESSION": Well, here`s a challenge for this young man. This was an extremely personal crime. This 51-year- old mother of two was found dead in her garage by her daughter. She had been brutally beat in the head repeatedly, like, by a 2-by-4, and she`d been stabbed 16 times in her neck!

GRACE: You know, also, Jean, I was assessing the crime scene. She`s found in the garage -- that means outside the living space, but yet still in the home. That is very, very important as to the identity of the killer. There was no sex attack. Nothing was stolen that we know of. The home was not ransacked. The cat -- there was no evidence there was going to be a carjacking out of that garage.

So what`s the motive for murder if it was none of those things?

CASAREZ: Well, no signs of forced entry, you`re right. It seems like there was blood on some of the faucets, left by somebody who tried to clean it up.

It was in 2010 that this very, very severely mentally ill mother attacked her own son, the one that is accused with her murder. She beat him up and she tried to strangle him. So prosecutors may say that he held a grudge, that he had a motive and he had a motive for murdering his own mother.

GRACE: Now, Jean, when was that attack?

CASAREZ: That attack was several years ago. It was about two years ago. But one year before that, her psychiatrist made a statement that she was not taking her medication for her mental illness, which was schizophrenia and psychosis, and she was a danger to herself and she was a danger to others.

GRACE: You know, to Michael Christian, senior field producer with "In Session," who`s covering the case. Michael, it`s my understanding that she, due to her mental illness, started attacking her son when he was about 9 years old. That`s just a couple of years older than my babies, John David and Lucy. And attacking a 9-year-old boy? I don`t get it.

MICHAEL CHRISTIAN, SENIOR FIELD PRODUCER, "IN SESSION" (via telephone): Yes, it`s a very, very sad story, Nancy. Apparently, by all reports, the attacks started as early as when he was 9 or 10. He`s 22 now. He was 21 when he allegedly killed his mother.

As Jean said, the mother, Ruth Pyne, was arrested, jailed at one point for attacking her son. That was approximately nine months before she was killed. And at that point, she was released after about two weeks from jail under the condition that she take her daily medications in front of her husband so that he could witness that she`d taken them because otherwise, authorities were just afraid she would not take her medicine and the situation would never get any better.

GRACE: So wait. Let me get this straight. She attacks her 9-year-old son. She gets no jail time. She viciously attacks him, tries to strangle him, and she basically gets a lecture, a very brief lecture from the judge and is told, OK, little lady go home and take your meds and you be a good girl. OK.

CHRISTIAN: By all accounts, when she took her meds, she was fine. And everybody says that. But obviously, like so many people who have these problems, you take your meds for a while...

GRACE: Michael! Michael!

CHRISTIAN: ... and you feel better and you think...

GRACE: Michael! Michael!

CHRISTIAN: ... I can do without them.

GRACE: Michael Christian!

CHRISTIAN: That was something they absolutely didn`t want to happen with her.

GRACE: I`m not going to even ask you how many trials you and I have covered together, some you covered when I was still a prosecutor. That`s just like saying Jeffrey Dahmer`s a great guy as long as he`s not in the kitchen! You know what? So just save that for me, all right? Just hold that.

We`re all talking about the mom, how awful she is. Well, you know what? She`s not the issue anymore. She`s dead. This 51-year-old mother of two was found brutally beaten and stabbed to death. There were 16 stab wounds to the neck and the upper torso.

Now, Jean Casarez has just pointed out something very, very important. There was blood on some faucets. That means this was not random, all right? Somebody doesn`t come into your home to try to steal things or rape you and then suddenly do a clean-up. They do the crime, they get out! It`s not fitting together. It`s not fitting together.

I want to go out to you, Matt Zarrell. Can I focus off the mom and her mental illness. And tell me about this boy. He`s the high school valedictorian. Like a lot of abused victims, he worshipped his mother and father, very doting and solicitous to them -- valedictorian, star athlete, at University of Michigan biology major. That`s no piece of cake.

So what`s the evidence?

MATT ZARRELL, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER (via telephone): Well, Nancy, this all started in 2010, but actually, it started years and years ago when at the age of 9, Pyne`s mother was already threatening to kill him. Then in 2010, she actually went to jail for trying to choke her son to death.

GRACE: Now, I know that the family, the Pynes, are deeply, deeply religious. They had their both son and daughter in a Christian academy called West Highland. Even there, he was a star student, growing up all the way through star student.

Her mental health started deteriorating around 1998. To you Stacey Newman. Again, I`m asking focus off the mom`s mental illness, all right? I`m a JD, not an MD. I want to talk about the evidence.

Stacey, what do they have? The son says he was at work at the time. Interesting. While he was a student, he was also a handyman. He worked in the neighborhood, so he`s kind of on the scene. All they`re saying that we know of is that there are some wounds on his hand. Well, how do I know what the wound is? How do I know he wasn`t nailing a nail with a hammer?

What is the evidence?

STACEY NEWMAN, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER (via telephone): Well, that`s exactly right, Nancy. According to the defense, as far as those fresh wounds go, we know he was a local handyman, working at the time for a neighbor, so he could easily explain those wounds could have came from doing work on the lady`s home.

Now, Jean said earlier there was blood evidence on the faucet, Ruth Pyne`s blood, a sign the killer may have cleaned up that area.

But Nancy, I agree with you. We don`t know that there`s definitive evidence linking him to the crime. There`s no witnesses. And the defense says they know he has an alibi and they`re trying to get cell phone records because they`re saying these cell phone records will prove that he was not in the home at the time of the murder.

GRACE: You know, Stacey, I want justice. I don`t want a killer to walk free. But let me go to you, Michael Christian. I`m not hearing anything that satisfies me in this case. I`m not hearing what I need to hear for a murder charge to be justified. Now, if he did it, fine, proceed to trial. But I`m not hearing -- and you know what? It`ll be a cold day in H-E-L-L before you string my son up on a crime he did not commit!

CHRISTIAN: It`s interesting, Nancy, because he`s been charged with first degree premeditated murder, and in order to be convicted of that, the prosecution is going to have to convince this jury beyond a reasonable doubt that he intended to kill his mother, that it was premeditated, that it wasn`t the result of a sudden thought or impulse.

Now, I think there were people at the time who thought, Well, gee, maybe she was attacking him and he just snapped. But that doesn`t sound as if that would be something that would fit into that definition. So it sounds like the prosecution`s going to have a tough hill to climb here if they need to prove premeditated murder.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: High school valedictorian in Michigan who is now on trial for allegedly murdering his own mother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perfect son, a University of Michigan biology student, he was the high school`s valedictorian and a star athlete, viciously murdering his own mother. But by all accounts, what happened inside this suburban home is a complicated story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeffrey says he was at work at the time of the murder and maintains he`s innocent.


GRACE: We are taking your calls. Tonight, a young man, really the ideal son, charged in the murder of his own mother. Take a look at this young man, Jeffrey Pyne, a loving son, a doting son, very solicitous of his mentally ill mother and his father. That`s true in many, many cases of child abuse. The child goes overboard to try to please the abuser.

Well, he grew up to become a star athlete, to become, as I said, the high school valedictorian, the University of Michigan biology major, even working as a handyman to help pay for school. Why is he facing charges that he murdered his own mother?

We are taking your calls. To Cathy in Pennsylvania. Hi, Cathy. What`s your question?

CATHY, CALLER FROM PENNSYLVANIA (via telephone): Yes, Nancy, I like you would hate to see an innocent man go to prison. Why do the Oakland County prosecutor`s office use the citizens grand jury instead of just arresting him?

GRACE: Well, I think I`ve got the answer to that. I`m going to unleash the lawyers -- Darryl Cohen, Evangeline Gomez and Eleanor Odom.

But Michael Christian, to you and Jean very quickly. There are police charges, first of all, where an arrest is made. And then that`s one type of charge, when police charge you. Say you`re a DUI or a burglary.

If it`s a felony, very typically, your case will go to a grand jury, a citizens grand jury. It`s often called a secret grand jury. All grand juries are typically held in secret. A grand jury has two tools, investigative and charging.

So in this case Michael Christian, did the police file then go to the DA`s office and then called a grand jury? Do they normally have a grand jury?

CHRISTIAN: It was a special grand jury, Nancy. It`s a grand jury, apparently, that was looking at cases that had not been solved, and this was the first indictment that they handed down. He was arrested based on that grand jury recommendation, I believe, three or four months after this killing. But again, this was the first recommendation or first indictment that this particular grand jury had ever handed down.

GRACE: Wow. So it sounds to me that Cathy in Pennsylvania is actually right. This does sound a little out of the norm.

Unleash the lawyers -- Eleanor Odom, Darryl Cohen, Evangeline Gomez. Eleanor Odom, they`ve got to have -- or in a sensical world, they`ve got to have more evidence than wounds to his hand, especially if he is a handyman. There`s got to be more.

ELEANOR ODOM, PROSECUTOR: Exactly. And the prosecutors and the police haven`t played their hands yet, Nancy, and I suspect we`ll hear this evidence laid out in the state`s opening statement. That`s what`s important.

But this grand jury -- everybody`s saying a secret grand jury, like it`s so special, but that`s every grand jury. They deliberate in private.

GRACE: Yes, we just went through that. Darryl Cohen, either they`ve got more evidence or there`s not going to be a murder conviction. I can tell you that much, if that`s all they`ve got.

DARRYL COHEN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Nancy, I don`t see a murder conviction. I see this as an emotional "We have to get someone that we have to charge," and he is as good a defendant as he could possibly be.

GRACE: Evangeline?

EVANGELINE GOMEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I agree with Darryl, Nancy. I don`t see how the prosecutors are going to make their case. And frankly, at this point, I think it`s a waste of resources on their part. They really need to be out there looking for the real killer.

GRACE: To Jean Casarez. Jean, tell me, have we gleaned anything at all regarding the evidence, other than he has wounds to his hands?

CASAREZ: This is what`s being said, that there is no evidence that links him to the crime. But yet it was that grand jury. A lot has not been released. We know he carried a knife. She was stabbed. Is there any evidence that will come out that that could have been the knife to kill her?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole thing, you know, really upset the entire neighborhood. I really don`t think Jeffrey did it. He was no threat for five months. Why was he all of a sudden a threat? We don`t feel that, you know, the real murderer has been caught. We feel that there`s someone out here that did it other than Jeffrey.


GRACE: His father, his neighbors, former teachers, practically everyone that knows him and the victim -- his own mother (SIC) -- says this boy is innocent. Is the real killer still out and about?

We`re taking your calls. I want to go to Bethany Marshall, though, psychoanalyst and author of "Dealbreakers." Bethany, I want to hear your take because everyone is focusing on the mental illness of the mother, a 51-year-old mother, and was gainfully employed. Nobody`s really focusing on the murder.

BETHANY MARSHALL, PSYCHOANALYST: Well, I think the mental illness of the mother does play in because children feel about their parents how their parents feel about them. So this mother had long-standing homicidal ideation towards the son, as far as I can tell. And what happened -- the son came to feel -- if, indeed, he is guilty, the son came to feel the same way about her, all right?

This reminds me of Andrea Yates, where Rusty Yates left his young children in the care of someone who was mentally ill and then thought that nothing bad would happen. This is the same kind of case. This little boy was raised by a mentally ill mother, and nobody thought something bad would happen -- the school officials, the parents, the court system.

Why was the father entrusted with handing the mother the medication? Because what happens is in our society, children do not have a voice. Adults have a voice. They can advocate for themselves. They can hire an attorney. They can go before the judge. Little kids can`t sit (ph) and go before the judge. A child can`t go get an attorney. And our system is overburdened in terms of child protective services.

So I think what happened is he felt about her how she felt about him.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ruth Pyne married over 30 years to her husband, Bernie. They lived in Highland township and had two children, including a son, Jeffrey, seen here in family photos. But one day back in May, it was the Pynes` 10-year-old daughter who found Ruth dead in the garage. Ruth Pyne, a devoted wife and loving mother, had been severely beaten in the head and stabbed 16 times in the neck. And now her 21-year-old son Jeffrey Pyne has been arrested and charged with first degree premeditated murder.

But what could drive a son to allegedly kill his mother? Jeffrey Pyne still lived at home. and here are photos of the family in seemingly happier times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeffrey Pyne was by all accounts the perfect son, a University of Michigan biology student. He was the high school`s valedictorian and a star athlete.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Allegedly murdering his own mother.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ruth Pyne`s body was found bludgeoned and stabbed repeatedly inside the garage of her family`s idyllic suburban Michigan home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t feel that, you know, the real murderer has been caught.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By all accounts, what happened inside this suburban home is a complicated story.


GRACE: Welcome back to everyone. A young man, the ideal son, some would say the perfect son -- he grew up doting on his parents, loving them seemingly unconditionally, catering, as well, to his little sister, now 10 years old. He grows up to be the valedictorian, the star athlete, a University of Michigan star, as well, majoring in biology. Then his 51- year-old mother, Ruth Pyne, mother of two, found bludgeoned and stabbed to death in the family`s garage.

He is the focus of police investigation, now accused in her murder. But what`s the evidence? In a stunning twist tonight, everyone is on his side, his father, Ruth Pyne`s husband, neighbors, former teachers all rallying around this young man, saying Jeffrey Pyne is innocent.

We are taking your calls. Very quickly, to Dr. Bill Manion, medical examiner joining me tonight out of Philadelphia. Bill, what do the injuries to Ruth Pyne say to you?

DR. BILL MANION, M.D., MEDICAL EXAMINER, BURLINGTON COUNTY, NJ: Well, you`re right. It does show that there is a personal connection between the murderer and the victim here.


MANION: This is overkill. Obviously overkill. In addition to autopsy could reveal if she was taking her medicines or not taking her medicines. They still have enough blood and tissue to determine her medication levels. And then that blood found on the spigot I wonder if they could have found his blood on the spigot as well as her blood.

GRACE: Wait a minute, I`ve got a question, Dr. Manion. Why do I, trying to solve this crime, care whether she was on her meds or not? Why is it the victim`s fault? I mean she was stabbed 16 times in the neck and then beaten brutally with a board. And you want me to look to see if she was on Xanax? Why?

MANION: Well, that -- we have brought up earlier that some people thought maybe she had attacked him. And if she wasn`t on her meds that would support that theory and that he had stabbed and perhaps this wasn`t a first-degree premeditated case.

GRACE: OK. Now you`re talking, Manion. Now I get it. You`re going towards she`s off her meds, she attacks him again, he kills her.

Now here`s the problem with that, Darryl Cohen. If you`re -- this man is now -- this young man is now 22 years old. His 51-year-old mother unarmed attacks him and he stabs her 16 times and beats her in the head with a board, that`s still going to be murder because self-defense is only allowed to the degree of force necessary to defend oneself. In other words -- where is Darryl Cohen? I`m talking to him but I don`t see him.

Darryl, I can`t come slap you with an open hand and then you whip out an oozy and gun me down. That`s not really how self-defense works.

COHEN: Of course not, Nancy. Self-defense is reasonable force to defend yourself to prevent the person from attacking you and stop them and neutralize it.

GRACE: OK. I don`t want to be the one to point out that I just said that. So --

COHEN: OK, you did, but the truth is, Nancy --

GRACE: Tell me how --


COHEN: This guy didn`t do it. This guy, there is no evidence against him. None whatsoever other than emotion. That`s all there is.

GRACE: Emotion, emotion, emotion.

Eleanor Odom, you are the prosecutor with me tonight. I don`t know of a lot of prosecutors who go, you know what, I just don`t like him. I think I will charge him with murder one. I just -- I don`t see it.

ODOM: Nancy, we have an ethical duty to prosecute cases that we believe we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. That`s a big burden of proof. So I`m guessing in addition to the knife, the wounds on this defendant, and other evidence the police have, I`m thinking of phone records, things like that would actually place that person near the crime scene. They`ve got something else. We just haven`t heard it yet.

GRACE: You know what, Eleanor, I don`t want this guy to go to the penitentiary for the murder of his mother. I don`t want this to be true.

But if he did I hope you`re right because how many cases have there been, Evangeline Gomez, where I say they`ve got to have more evidence. They`ve got to have more evidence. They just haven`t told us yet and then guess what, they don`t have more evidence.

GOMEZ: Prime example of one of those cases that you`re speaking about, Nancy. There`s just no direct evidence. They have circumstantial, they think they have a motive. But you know what, maybe she had somebody else.

GRACE: Here we go. Trash the victim. She`s having an affair. Yes, I don`t think so. But you know what, that`s something to throw out there.

I want to go back to you, Stacey Newman, I want to talk about the day of the crime. What do we know? What is the timeline, Stace?

STACEY NEWMAN, NANCY GRACE PRODUCER: Well, the timeline we know is when the young daughter, she was 10 at the time, came home from school with the father and we are told she is the one -- about 2:30 in the afternoon, she is the one that came home and found her mother dead, beaten to death, stabbed in a pool of blood on the floor of the garage.

GRACE: Back to you, Jean Casarez. I`m thinking about what Stacey Newman is telling us, what do we know, what do we -- what are we missing here, and a lot of this turns on the alleged perpetrator and his demeanor and his personality. We know that for five months after her body, Ruth Pyne`s body was found there in the garage floor of her own home no arrest was made.

Police did not take him into custody. Nothing. Now we`re still not hearing any evidence that in my mind justifies a murder one charge. So go through it with me. Go through with me, Jean, the chronology of how we have landed with accusations this young man murdered his mother and if he is the young man we believe he is, the star athlete, the valedictorian, the loving son, wouldn`t he say, dad, mom came at me with a knife and I killed her?

Wouldn`t he throw down the knife right there in the garage and call 911, call his father? See, this is completely in conflict with what we know about this young man.

CASAREZ: In conflict to totally what we know. He had always defended his mother. His mother when he -- she attacked him in 2010 and strangled him he didn`t return force. And Nancy, that`s justifiable homicide what you just explained right there. Potentially it could be.

But here`s what we know. Obviously police investigated this crime and they talked to her son. They looked as his clothes, they looked at his car, they looked at his belongings, they didn`t find any of her blood on any of his belongings including that knife.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Former high school valedictorian faces a Michigan courtroom today for the murder of his mother. Twenty-two-year-old Jeffrey Pyne is accused of bludgeoning and stabbing 51-year-old Ruth Pyne to death. Ruth Pyne was reportedly stabbed 16 times in the neck. She was found in the family`s garage by her younger daughter.

Her son, Jeffrey, a biology student at the University of Michigan, claims he was at work at the time his mother was murdered but investigators have reportedly found information that Jeffrey was the target of his mother`s rage when she stopped taking medication for mental illness. Jeffrey`s father believes he`s innocent, but according to court documents Jeffrey`s hands had wounds on them in the hours after the murder.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Ruth Pyne married over 30 years to her husband Bernie. They lived in the Highland Township and had two children including a son Jeffrey seen here in family photos. But one day back in May it was the Pynes` 10-year-old daughter who found Ruth dead in the garage.

Ruth Pyne, a devoted wife and loving mother, had been severely beaten in the head and stabbed 16 times in the neck. And now her 21-year-old son Jeffrey Pyne has been arrested and charged with first-degree premeditated murder.

KIP CONLEY, NEIGHBOR: I knew that Oakland County was looking at him. OK. They had said that it was domestic.


GRACE: A young man many say the perfect son now charged in the murder of his mother. What is the evidence? That`s my question tonight.

We are taking your calls. Joe in Florida, hi, Joe, what is your question?

JOE, CALLER FROM FLORIDA (via telephone): Hi, Nancy. I can`t imagine anyone wanting to kill their mother or killing their mother. But I wonder if she was mentally ill, do genes possibly transfer to the son?

GRACE: OK. Hold on just a moment. Let`s talk about that.

To Dr. Bethany Marshall, psychoanalyst and author, he has shown whatsoever to my understanding of the facts of any mental illness. But in young men doesn`t the onset of, for instance, schizophrenia begin in the late teens and early 20s?

MARSHALL: That`s right, Nancy. Age of onset is between the ages of 18 and 21. However, in the predormal (ph) or lead-up stage they sometimes seems strange or bizarre. This guy seems very intact. I would consider that perhaps he is a sociopath because sociopathy is associated with maternal rejection.

GRACE: OK. Stop right there. OK, Bethany.


GRACE: Maternal rejection. Sociopathy. Can you break it down for those of us that only have a law degree?

MARSHALL: It`s a critical distinction because many mothers neglect their children. They won`t feed them well, they don`t comfort, they don`t sooth, but that doesn`t create a person with a personality disorder, a sociopath, someone who is cunning, conning, malicious, lies, homicidal, lacks empathy or remorse. But the mother who completely rejects the child doesn`t even want the child, has simmering hatred and resentment, will often create a child who has no conscience, no ability to bond, no guilt -- feelings of guilt, remorse, empathy.

And so what we could be seeing is that superficially he was charming because he learned to do that to survive in his family but he had become detached, cold and aloof. And that`s what led to the homicide.

GRACE: Now I don`t know that any of that is true, though, Bethany. You`re spinning, you`re spinning the little bit that we know to suggest that this guy, this young man who is the star athlete, the valedictorian, the loving son, has a mental illness. All right? Now I don`t know if I want to go there with you on that?


GRACE: Just because Joe in Florida calls and says, is this genetic, suddenly I`ve got this guy strapped down and I`m having him committed. I`m not willing to go there yet because this is not what his personality says. But let me tell you something, it`s documented, Dr. Bethany Marshall.

Bernard Pyne, the father, writes, "I`ve got to work. I cannot monitor my wife when I`m working. She claims her whole family could die and that it would not bother her at all."

You know what, I get the mother. I get what we`re saying about her.

MARSHALL: Well, Jeffrey wasn`t -- OK.

GRACE: But what about him? You know what, back to you, Michael Christian, you are the field producer. You`ve been beating the bushes. What more is there to the story? What more do you know? Tell me anything. You may think it`s innocuous, I want to know what it is.

CHRISTIAN: You know, it`s interesting, Nancy, because not only by all accounts was he the perfect son and the perfect student, perfect neighbor, but I watched him in court yesterday and from what I have been told by court administrators he`s the perfect prisoner. He`s been in the county jail here since he was arrested last year and he`s been an absolutely model inmate. They`ve had no problems with him whatsoever.

He smiles at the guards and jokes with them. He`s very friendly with the sheriff`s deputies who bring him in. He`s just been incredibly cooperative apparently in all phases of his life.

GRACE: OK. Michael Christian, let me get the lawyers plus Jean Casarez. You know where this could be headed. Say they`ve got some evidence. Say they`ve got something that we don`t know about.

What do the names O.J. Simpson, Mary Winkler, and Lorena Bobbitt, all have in common?

Jury nullification. When you believe that the perpetrator did the deed, but you say, you know what, I don`t care, I`m going to either give a not guilty verdict or I`m going to give such a lesser verdict conviction that they can walk free on probation.

Now I saw you put the Rodney King picture up. I assume you`re referring, Liz, to the police in the Rodney King case. So let`s talk about jury nullification. What -- how does it work, Darryl?

COHEN: Well, Nancy, if a jury finds that the defendant is a good guy and the victim is a bad person then the jury says forget the evidence. I don`t really care. I heard it but it went in one ear and out the other and as a result we`re going to find the defendant not guilty because the victim deserved what the victim got and probably more.



UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Jeffrey says he was at work at time of the murder and maintains he`s innocent. And this morning as his trial begins, his neighbors, former teachers and much of the community where he grew up agree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t feel that, you know, the real murderer has been caught. We feel that there`s someone out here that did it other than Jeffrey.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: In fact, the defense for Jeffrey Pyne is expected to say just that, that the wrong guy is locked up while the real murderer is still out there despite all the family history. The defense is not expected to claim he snapped after years of abuse or acted in self-defense. They say he`s innocent.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A woman was found dead in a pool of her own blood inside the family garage just behind this makeshift plywood door. The victim`s 10-year-old daughter made the horrific discovery.

CONLEY: I saw about six or seven cop cars by the time it was all done. Rescue was there, ambulance was there.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Kip Conley lives two houses down from where 51- year-old Ruth Pyne was murdered. He`s worried about Pyne`s daughter who had just come home from school with her father when she came upon her mother`s lifeless body.

CONLEY: It was just tragic. Just no other way to describe it. The little girl is never going to forget.


GRACE: You are seeing video and coverage from ABC`s "Good Morning America" and us. We, like them, want to know why there`s got to be more evidence implicating this young man, by all accounts, the perfect son, before the murder of his mom.

I want to go back to you, Stacey Newman. The family is absolutely standing behind him. Did the prosecution give us any hint at the other evidence they may have?

NEWMAN: Well, Nancy, this is interesting. When the prosecution announced this indictment, they said the grand jury received testimony from Jeffrey Pyne`s family, friends, and co-workers, which, quote, "produced evidence linking him to the murder."

GRACE: OK. Well, it`s still got to be more than testimony. It`s got to be more than, yes, I saw him at the house, or, yes, he was in the area.

What more do we know, Stacey, about where he was at time of the crime and about his general job hours and the demands on him at U of M, University of Michigan?

NEWMAN: Well, we know he was in a serious biology/premed program. But he also was a local handyman. He says he was doing some work that day at a neighbor`s house and was nowhere near the crime scene at the time of the murder. And as a I said earlier, the defense said cell phone records will prove his alibi.

GRACE: What about it, Jean Casarez?

CASAREZ: This case could be the fresh wounds on his hand. Friction wounds and pressure wounds. Maybe he was working as a handyman that day. What exactly was he doing? That could be the evidence prosecutors have.

GRACE: Interesting, Jean. Dr. Manion, friction wounds, pressure wounds. What are they?

MANION: Well, the friction wounds, if he was holding a piece of wood, a 2x4, and was smashing someone`s head with it, he would get friction abrasions on his hands. And the other thing they`re talking about are the incised wounds made by the knife. And if he did have fresh incised wounds on his fingers because his hands flipped on the bloody knife, that could be very compelling evidence, at least in my mind.

GRACE: Unless, of course, you`re dealing with a handyman that works with implements like hammers and saws and screwdrivers all day long.


GRACE: Tonight we remember American hero, Marine Lance Corporal Jeremy Long, just 18, Sun Valley, Nevada. Purple Heart, Medal of Valor, loved sports, WWE, country star Toby Keith, parents Kathy and Rod, Brother Zachary, sister Samantha.

Jeremy Long, American hero.

Welcome back. Another question I`ve got, Michael Christian, they`re saying cell phone pings are going to factor into whether or not they can prove this really perfect son murdered his own mother. But if he was in the neighborhood at some point during that day, if he was working on somebody`s home in that neighborhood, what difference would the -- what would the pings really prove?

CHRISTIAN: Yes, that`s a good question, Nancy. I guess it would depend on how far away the neighbor`s home is or the woman that he was working for, allegedly working for. This may be a case where it literally comes down to what cell tower something pinged off of at one time. I can tell you I have looked at the court file. And there are a lot of motions filed about bringing in cell phone records and cell phone experts. So I think that is going to be a pivotal part of this case.

GRACE: I`m telling you, I`m telling you, Jean Casarez, that even if they bring in evidence he was in the neighborhood, just based on his reputation alone, based on his history with his mother alone, I think it`s going to be very difficult for there to be a murder one conviction on this young man. I really do.

CASAREZ: You`re exactly right because if the whole community is supporting him, the jury pool is made of that community. And as you said, it`s called jury nullification.

GRACE: So where does it stand, Stacey? What`s next?

NEWMAN: What`s next in this is jury selection is under way, as Michael Christian has told us. And, Nancy, there are reports right now that the defense may not even be using self-defense in this case because they are so confident he is innocent and says a stranger is behind this murder.

GRACE: Well, of course, that flies in the face of stranger attacks. No forced entry, nothing stolen, no sex attack, no ransacking of the home. On the other hand, this young man, if I had to defend somebody, it would be Jeffrey Pyne.

Everyone, "DR. DREW" up next. I`ll see you tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. And until then, good night, friend.