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DEATH ROW STORIES
Death Row Stories: Gloria Killian
Aired March 16, 2014 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUSAN SARANDON, NARRATOR: On this episode of DEATH ROW STORIES --
STEVE GRIPPI, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: You'd like to think that upstanding citizens aren't going to suffer torture and murder in their own home.
SARANDON: After a brutal murder, detectives accuse a woman with no criminal record.
GLORIA KILLIAN: He said we will break you.
SARANDON: Until the mother of an American hero puts her all into a fight for freedom.
JOYCE RIDE, CHAIRWOMAN, FRIENDS OUTSIDE: I knew she wasn't guilty. I thought it should be obvious to anybody.
DARRYL CARLSON, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: When I saw that, my jaw dropped.
SANDRA KOBRIN, AUTHOR FULL CIRCLE: This is one of the most egregious cases I have ever seen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a body in the water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was butchered and murdered.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many people proclaim their innocence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this case there are a number of things that stink.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This man is remorseless.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He needs to pay for it with his life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The electric chair flashed in front of my eyes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get a conviction at all costs. Let the truth fall where it may.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SARANDON: December 9th, 1981. Little broke the afternoon quiet in Sacramento's Rosemont neighborhood. Then at this modest home on Rosewood Avenue there was a knock on the door. Ed Davies was in the kitchen. His wife Grace checked out the window and opened the door for a repairman.
CARLSON: He said, ma'am, we got some kind of a report about your phone. And we'd like to look into it. And she said, OK, well, come on in.
GRIPPI: He went to the telephone and then turned around and pointed a gun at she and her husband. He then hogtied them, put blankets over their heads so they couldn't see.
SARANDON: Grace Davies heard a second man enter her home.
GRIPPI: The perpetrators were screaming, where's the silver? Where's the gold?
SARANDON: Ed Davies was an amateur coin collector. But he had never told his wife about the trove of precious metals he's hidden in their home. Now he refused to tell the robbers.
GRIPPI: And then one of the perpetrators put a knife to her neck and said if you don't tell us where the gold is, we'll kill her.
So Mr. Davies told them where the silver was and the gold.
SARANDON: For hours, Grace listened as the strangers dug in the garage. Then one of the men walked back into the kitchen. And Grace was confronted with an unfamiliar sound.
CARLSON: She heard a ping and then she felt her husband's legs kind of like quivering on her legs.
GRIPPI: And then Grace heard a similar sound and probably didn't realize it but the sound was the bullet hitting her head.
SARANDON: Against all odds, the elderly woman regained consciousness hours later. Someone had reentered the house.
GRIPPI: Grace didn't move. She was half in shock and half just lying still, hoping they would go away. She could tell her husband was moving and then she heard another gunshot. And then she didn't feel her husband moving at all.
SARANDON: Terrified and bleeding, Grace eventually freed her hands and tried to dial 911. Only to find the line had been cut. She dragged herself to the couch and collapsed.
CARLSON: In the morning early, all of a sudden the TV just comes blaring on. It woke her up and so she crawled outside on her hands and knees.
SARANDON: A shocked commuter found Grace bloodied and unconscious. Miraculously the 76-year-old woman would survive. Police arrived and discovered Ed Davies' lifeless body.
GRIPPI: You'd like to think that upstanding citizens aren't going to suffer that kind of torture and murder in their own home.
SARANDON: Detectives found no finger prints at the scene but they did learn Ed had recently bought two bags of silver at the Allied coin shop owned by a man named Virgil Fletcher. Estimated value, $27,000.
GRIPPI: Who knew that? What's the connection? How did somebody know that this large cache of silver was in the home?
SARANDON: During an unrelated arrest days later, a local criminal told detectives who might have done the Davies job.
GRIPPI: That was Gary Masse, he and Stephen DeSantis. They were well known thieves, merry-do-wells, thugs. They've been in and out of custody for various crimes.
KOBRIN: I don't think the police were at all surprised. Stephen was an angry young guy that just didn't know how to make a living other than robbing people. Gary is unstable. He was a regular drug addict who had more ins into the criminal element. And the first thing the police did was go after Gary Masse and Stephen DeSantis.
SARANDON: Police launched a manhunt. But for days came up empty handed. Meanwhile, Grace Davies recovered and told police that a suspicious woman had come to her door a week before the robbery. Police now believed there was a third conspirator and their suspicions were confirmed when Joan Masse, wife of suspect Gary Masse, appeared one day at the sheriff's department.
KOBRIN: Joan was not a dumb woman. If you're the one to get the information, you're the one to get the better deal. The first thing she did was say my husband was involved. But Stephen DeSantis fired the shots.
SARANDON: Sheriffs demanded to talk to Gary and Joan promised she would bring him in. But detectives also wanted to know how Gary and Stephen had learned about Ed Davies' treasure.
KOBRIN: Joanne came up with Gloria.
GRIPPI: She said a woman named Gloria helped plan the robbery.
KOBRIN: Gary is completely innocent and it is Gloria and Stephen DeSantis who are totally responsible.
SARANDON: The new suspect was Gloria Killian, a 35-year-old divorcee and law student. Gloria was renting a room from Virgil Fletcher, the owner of Allied Coin when she saw the Davies murder on reported on TV.
KILLIAN: I said oh, my god, that's horrible. That poor woman had actually lived and crawled out in the street and all those horrible things happened to her. It was awful.
SARANDON: A week later, Gloria was helping out at her boyfriend's auto body shop when police came calling.
KILLIAN: We didn't happen to have a customer scheduled then. So we were going to close for lunch and have sex. We got everything locked up. You know, I'm busy taking my shirt off and there comes a knock on the door.
KOBRIN: Four sheriffs come to the door and they say we want to talk to Gloria Killian.
KILLIAN: I was mortified. Can they come talk to us? And I said, sure. No problem.
SARANDON: Sheriffs were taking Gloria to be questioned as the robbery's alleged mastermind.
KILLIAN: As we're walking out the gate, little miss big mouth goes --
KOBRIN: You have the worst timing. I always get caught.
KILLIAN: They fell into a kind of formation. They got one guy behind me, one guy in the side of me and one guy kind of leading me. And I'm thinking, this is really strange.
SARANDON: Within days, Gloria would be facing the death penalty.
SARANDON: On December 16th, 1981, sheriffs brought Gloria Killian in for questioning.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are investigating the death of Ed Davies. We want to talk to you in regard to that.
SARANDON: Gloria thought she would be asked about her landlord, Virgil Fletcher, owner of Allied Coin.
KOBRIN: The man that was murdered was a coin checker. Gloria thought she was being brought down to give them any information about Virgil.
SARANDON: But detectives suspected Gloria of orchestrating the deadly home robbery.
KILLIAN: And then they just started attacking me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are in trouble.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we have been talking to a lot of people. Your name has come up.
KILLIAN: In what regard?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's what I wanted you to tell me.
KILLIAN: We know you planned this. We know that you know everything that happened. And I just went, huh?
SARANDON: Detectives believed Gloria had coaxed information from Virgil about Ed Davies' hidden treasure. KOBRIN: They asked her questions. Do you know Ed Davies? And she says, I don't think so. Well, have you been to his house? And her response is, well, if I don't know him, I don't think I've been to his house.
KILLIAN: I have a tendency to be a little flip when I'm nervous.
SARANDON: Gloria also insisted she'd never met alleged perpetrators Gary Masse or Stephen DeSantis.
KILLIAN: I had no idea what they were talking about. I couldn't figure out why they thought I had set this up.
GRIPPI: There is a distinction between being cooperative and being honest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You aren't being honest.
KILLIAN: I can't tell you what I don't know.
The more I said I didn't know, the angrier it made them. One of them spent the time just staring at me. Staring in my eyes. But I still didn't have anything to tell them.
SARANDON: After two hours, detectives had had enough.
KILLIAN: They stood up and they said you're under arrest for the murder of Edward Davies. Everything just started to narrow in front of me. And it was almost like, what I could hear were echoes. But I couldn't really hear what they were saying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't want to take a polygraph. Is that what you're saying?
KILLIAN: I'm saying, am I being arrested?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. We're asking -- give us a specific answer.
KILLIAN: I know --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do not want to take the polygraph --
KILLIAN: But I don't want to answer any more questions if I'm being arrested.
You know, whatever is wrong with these fools, I am not talking to them anymore. Well, that made them really mad.
SARANDON: A detective handcuffed Gloria for the trip to county jail.
KILLIAN: He said, you are going someplace that no nice little white girl like you has ever been. And we will break you.
SARANDON: Gloria Killian was not the usual suspect. A year earlier, Gloria was on her way to becoming a lawyer. No mean feat for a 35- year-old wife and stepmother who never attended college. KOBRIN: What a life. She had loved the law. And she studied at home for the law boards and scored incredibly high.
KILLIAN: I was married at the time. I was bored out of my skull. I absolutely totally believed in the law. And they accepted me.
SARANDON: But Gloria's personal life disrupted her law school career.
KOBRIN: She got into a dreadfully difficult love affair. She was married. He was married.
SARANDON: Gloria divorced to be with her lover but the relationship soon turned ugly.
KILLIAN: I had to get away from him. It was screwing up my grades, it was screwing up every single thing. And I needed to just get out of there for a while.
GRIPPI: It's been said that she took a leave of absence. She didn't take a leave of absence. She dropped out. She didn't have a place to live. She didn't have a husband and she didn't have any money.
KILLIAN: I was looking -- literally looking for friends which is how I met the people that I shouldn't have met.
SARANDON: One of Gloria's new best friends was a 60-year-old woman named Neva Snyder.
KILLIAN: I really became very fond of her. But I probably was looking for a mother because she was that much older. What I didn't realize, because I didn't have a scrap of street sense, was that there was someone involved in the drug trade.
SARANDON: Neva Snyder dealt methamphetamine. Gloria succumbed to temptation.
KILLIAN: As someone who hadn't the faintest idea that was OK to express her feelings, I think self-medication was the answer. A pill here, a pill there, some powder here. That went fine.
GRIPPI: That were the -- sort of criminal element where that little area hung out. Neva Snyder's house. Gloria got herself involved with the wrong crowd.
SARANDON: The regulars at Neva Snyder's house included Gary and Joanne Masse. The day after Gloria was arrested, Gary finally turned himself in.
SCOTT WILLIAMS, APPELLATE ATTORNEY: Gary was known to use a lot of valium. And he mixed it with street drugs including heroin. And he was catatonic.
SARANDON: Gary refused to answer questions. But his wife had already confessed for him and implicated Gloria. Two days later with gunman Stephen DeSantis still on the run, Gary and Gloria were arraigned together in a capital murder case. KILLIAN: The electric chair flashed in front of my eyes. There is something about hearing the word death. That really does take you to another plane.
SARANDON: Gloria was held without bail for four months. And when she finally got a hearing to determine if prosecutors could proceed to trial, she was shocked to see the judge.
KOBRIN: There's her former legal professor presiding over a case where she is facing the death penalty.
KILLIAN: Judge Sheldon Grossfelt, my family law professor. It was just mortifying.
SARANDON: But Judge Grossfelt soon lost patience with the prosecution.
KILLIAN: They couldn't proceed to trial. There was no evidence. And so of course it was dismissed.
SARANDON: Even as Gloria stepped out into the street as a free woman, she felt uneasy.
KILLIAN: I had this weird feeling. I would say it was like some sort of internal dread. And I tried really hard to get rid of it but I couldn't.
SARANDON: Just one year later Gloria would be arrested for the murder of Ed Davies again.
SARANDON: One year after the murder of Ed Davies, alleged gunman Stephen DeSantis was still a fugitive. His partner Gary Masse went on trial for murder.
KOBRIN: Gary's trial lasted very, very short time and he was found guilty almost immediately.
GRIPPI: Gary admitted that he was part of the scheme. And under the aiding and abetting laws in California, he was guilty.
SARANDON: Gary was sentenced to life with no possibility of parole. He didn't see it coming.
GRIPPI: A lot of people feel that it went beyond where I wanted it to go. I didn't do the shooting. Everyone will realize I'm not guilty of murder and they have no clue that they are standing on that railroad track and the train of guilt is about to run them right over.
SARANDON: When the reality of his sentence hit, Gary quickly requested a meeting with police.
KOBRIN: Gary tells the sheriff's department, I want to talk now if you're willing to listen. He wanted a reduced sentence and he didn't want to be known as being a snitch. He thought he would get a knife in the back. And he wanted immunity for his wife.
SARANDON: But why would Gary Masse's wife Joanne need immunity? The answer would only emerge months later in the halls of the local courthouse. A grandmother named Elizabeth Lee spotted Joanne Masse and rushed to find a court officer.
CARLSON: She said I just solved my case. They're the people right there. And she pointed to Gary and his wife.
SARANDON: Lee had also been the victim of a home invasion and just like Grace Davies, Lee said a suspicious woman had come to her door. She was now certain it was Joanne Masse. The assistant D.A. was in the courthouse but his reaction was not what Lee expected.
CARLSON: They hustle around the courtroom, saying we can't have this. That was the end of it.
SARANDON: Just as Gary Masse had requested, the prosecutor turned a blind eye to the Joanne's alleged crimes. He also moved Gary to a new prison under an assumed name. And a reduced sentence? That would be decided at a later date.
CARLSON: And then Gary became the chief witness for the prosecution.
GRIPPI: Gary Masse says Gloria Killian is the one who gave me the information. Gloria Killian told him about the Davies and went with him to the house a week or so before.
SARANDON: Gary now painted Gloria as the crime's mastermind. Unfazed by the murder, Gloria had called Gary afterwards to demand her take. One year after she was released, sheriffs arrived at Gloria's work again.
KOBRIN: Now because of what Gary is saying, they can arrest Gloria again.
KILLIAN: When they start unsnapping their holsters, this is not the time to discuss it.
SARANDON: Again, Gloria was locked away without bail. The death penalty looming over her.
KILLIAN: I had terrible nightmares. I'm in a prison and I can't get out. Someone is chasing me. You don't know who. I was afraid.
SARANDON: But in late 1983, a California Supreme Court ruling changed everything. People charged as accomplices to murder could no longer face execution.
KILLIAN: The death penalty is off the table. And that was that.
KOBRIN: Since she doesn't get death penalty, she is allowed to be out on bail.
SARANDON: Gloria was eligible for bail but there were objections from the new prosecutor on the case. An assistant D.A. named Kit Cleland. KILLIAN: Kit Cleland was far more emotional than the first prosecutor. He was just angry and very sarcastic. You know, she is a murderer, she's a killer, she's going to run. And Cleland seemed to feel that he was the avenging angel of god.
SARANDON: The judge didn't buy it.
KILLIAN: Look. Did you pull her off an international flight? Did you catch her running down the road? And Cleland went, no. Not exactly. And the judge said, you know what? She's out on $25,000 bail and you can leave her alone.
SARANDON: Gloria was free on bail for almost two years. But waiting for her day in court proved to be an emotional roller coaster.
KILLIAN: I would go from thinking they will never convict me of something I did not do to thinking they'll send me away for a million years. I did everything I could to avoid it. There was no way that I could even cope with the idea.
SARANDON: Shutting herself off, Gloria missed some critical developments. The FBI discovered Stephen DeSantis holed up in Texas. He went on trial in 1985.
KILLIAN: I acted as if it had nothing to do with me at all. I should have been studying the daily transcript of it. I would have known that Stephen DeSantis said he never heard of me, never saw me in my life.
SARANDON: The star witness against Stephen DeSantis was Gary Masse. The jury found DeSantis guilty of murder and sentenced him to death. Gary would next testify at Gloria's trial starting just five days later.
SARANDON: Four years after Ed Davies was killed, Gloria Killian went on trial as the heist's mastermind. The prosecutor called coin dealer Virgil Fletcher who once told police that his tenant, Gloria, plied him for information about Davies.
GRIPPI: Virgil didn't directly say that Gloria Killian was involved but she had talked to him about wanting to meet Mr. Davies and does he date younger women, will he go out on his wife, so she had an interest.
KILLIAN: Virgil said I was asking about Mr. Davies. But I didn't know the Davies. I didn't know they had money. I didn't know they shopped at Allied Coins.
SARANDON: And under oath, Virgil seemed hesitant to implicate Gloria. The prosecutor Kit Cleland also called Grace Davies to the stand wanting the widow to identify Gloria as the suspicious woman who came to her door.
KOBRIN: Grace Davies was 80 years old with a bullet in her head. She had five or six times been unable to identify Gloria as the woman who came to the door. And I think she finally said, well, it could be.
SARANDON: Despite these struggles, Cleland did not call Joanne Masse to implicate Gloria. Joanne was now suspected of committing similar robberies with her husband. So the case came down to Cleland's star witness. Gary Masse.
KOBRIN: Gloria is almost relieved. They're not going to take the word of a career criminal over me. That would make no sense.
GRIPPI: The jurors are instructed, they don't to have believe Gary Masse. And they listened and they found him to be credible.
SARANDON: Masse testified that he met Gloria at Neva Snyder's house and she recruited him to rob the Davies.
GRIPPI: Gary Masse says we went here, we went there, and I did it with Gloria Killian.
SARANDON: And Masse was hard to cross examine.
BILL GENEGO, ATTORNEY: Because it was a conspiracy case, they didn't to have prove anything Gloria actually did which made it very hard for the defense to discredit him.
KILLIAN: Gary Masse was so loaded during this crime. So he got around an awful lot of it by saying, I don't remember, I don't recall. It is all very hazy. It was like trying to fight your way through a bunch of cobwebs.
SARANDON: Gloria took the stand still insisting she didn't know the robbers or the victims. Cleland hammered away at Gloria's credibility. Starting with her first state to police. "I always get caught."
GRIPPI: We were just about to lock up and make love. That's why I said that. You can believe that if you want. Some of her explanations were pretty incredible.
SARANDON: Cleland also confronted Gloria with suspicious notes discovered in her date book.
GRIPPI: They found three or four pages that really caught their attention. She always looking out window. Grace Davies testified, I never open that front door unless I'd see who is there. And then don't approach at coin shop. OK. Now it sounds like someone casing the Davies themselves. And the question, where garage, that would be where the silver is that the perpetrators are looking for. That's frankly damning to Miss Killian.
SARANDON: Gloria explained that during law school she moonlighted serving subpoenas.
KILLIAN: I had a lot of one, two-word notes. I had descriptions of houses. Thirty miles out of town in Elk Grove or next door.
KOBRIN: She had pages and pages of all kinds of information. The police pulled a few pages out as evidence but it's evidence of nothing.
SARANDON: Cleland argued repeatedly that Gloria was less credible than Gary Masse. Masse could be believed, he insisted because there had been no deal made for his testimony.
KILLIAN: There was no deal. He said it a dozen times.
GENEGO: The prosecution said Masse had not been promised that he would receive any benefit. But he hoped that he would get a benefit.
GRIPPI: Mr. Masse was hoping if I tell truth, that judge has to give me something. But we never made any kind of deal with him.
SARANDON: Two days later, the jury returned its verdict. Guilty of murder in the first degree. Gloria was sentenced to 32 to life.
KILLIAN: I just wanted to scream at this jury. Are you crazy? How could you do this? How can you possibly believe this? And then they took me away. I lost every single thing that I ever had. But I convinced myself that as long as I could do something to help somebody, that it wasn't just an entire waste of my life.
SARANDON: In prison, Gloria used her legal training to write appeals for fellow inmates. And even an article that helped expand battered women's rights. But Gloria had no luck on her own case. The state court summarily rejected her appeal.
Gloria lost all hope.
KILLIAN: I could not understand how I could be so betrayed by everything I believed in. By the law, by the judicial system. How could I have been so betrayed? I didn't think I was going to make it.
SARANDON: But in 1992, after six years behind bars, Gloria received a visit that would change her life.
RIDE: Part of my training was never ask an inmate why she is there. The best thing to do is just to sit and listen. They need someone to talk to usually.
SARANDON: Joyce is the mother of Sally Ride. The first American woman in space. Joyce had devoted herself to women behind bars and started visiting Gloria to discuss battered women. They never spoke about Gloria's case.
KOBRIN: Joyce is very reserved and Gloria is very reserved. They're both Norwegian so it is basically two trees talking to each other for a year.
RIDE: After a year of getting to know her, I finally said, why are you here?
KILLIAN: It was surprising to me that she would care. Nobody -- nobody cared what happened to me. So I told her. I told her the whole thing. RIDE: After all these years I'm a pretty good judge of people. People generally believe if a person is in prison, she deserves to be there. That's not necessarily the case.
SARANDON: Joyce sent private investigator Darryl Carlson to visit Gloria.
CARLSON: Gloria said, I don't want you doing this. She said I've had enough of this for the last few years. I don't want anymore. I can't handle it.
RIDE: I think she didn't want to get her hopes up needlessly. And she didn't want to see me waste my money. I did have some inheritance money from my father which I went through rather quickly. I just thought it was worth the expense.
SARANDON: Over Gloria's objections, Joyce hired Carlson who soon found a note in the case files revealing Cleland's unorthodox relationship with his star witness, Gary Masse.
CARLSON: You don't take a suspect in a murder case home for conjugal visits and chicken and dumpling dinners without handcuffs. It seemed like Gary was being nudged into things.
SARANDON: But in order to get a new trial for Gloria Carlson would need clear evidence that Cleland had struck a deal with Masse and deceived the jury.
KOBRIN: It took a long time. They were closing doors and he had to make enemies in the Sacramento courts before that letter showed up.
SARANDON: What Carlson found was a letter that had been sealed from the public. A letter to Masse's sentencing judge.
CARLSON: When I saw that, my jaw dropped.
SARANDON: Gloria Killian had been languishing in prison for eight years when an investigator found evidence discrediting Kit Cleland and his star witness Gary Masse.
KOBRIN: He found a letter to Masse's sentencing charge that asked for leniency in the sentence. It was concrete proof that there was a deal being made before Gary got to testify in Gloria's trial.
SARANDON: With new evidence emerging, Gloria became less reluctant to accept help.
RIDE: She said, is it all right if I hire a lawyer? And she said it would be all right. The thought of getting out was in her dreams again.
SARANDON: Joyce brought the letter to Bill Genego, a top appeals lawyer. GENEGO: It was a quid pro quo from the beginning. If Gary doesn't implicate Gloria, then they're not going to support a reduction in his sentence. As simple as that. I was very excited but there certainly was no guarantee we were going to win.
SARANDON: While it was clear prosecutor Cleland had hidden the deal, Genego still needed to prove that Gary Masse had lied on the stand. He got help from an unexpected source. Two lawyers appointed to appeal gunman Stephen DeSantis' death extent.
WILLIAMS: It seemed to us that we should know as much about this as the district attorney knew and there was resistance.
SARANDON: After a protracted court battle, a judge required Cleland to open his files.
WILLIAMS: We sat there and went through the boxes. We were not allowed to take anything out of the room. I remember looking at this letter and thinking to myself, I can't believe they left this in the file for us to find.
MARY LOUISE FRAMPTON, STEPHEN DESANTIS' APPELLATE ATTORNEY: Whoa. Here we had it in writing. And it was so clearly exculpatory.
WILLIAMS: I remember burying it in a pile of other things that we wanted them to copy for us so that --
FRAMPTON: Right in the middle.
SARANDON: It was a letter from Gary Masse to Kit Cleland. "There was a verbal agreement," it read. "I gave you DeSantis and Killian. I even lied my ass off on the stand for you people."
DeSantis' lawyers took the letter to Gloria.
KILLIAN: We knew nothing of this. It was all concealed from us.
CARLSON: "I lied my ass off in court for you." That was kind of a bombshell.
KILLIAN: They knew that they would have to give me a new trial. They would never let that stand.
SARANDON: Gloria's team presented their case to the California Supreme Court but they received a one-word apply. Denied. The next stop would be federal court and Genego now knew he must do more than cast doubt on the prosecution's case.
GENEGO: You've got to present an alternative explanation about how this could have occurred if Gloria wasn't involved.
SARANDON: Cleland had argued that Gloria pried information from coin shop owner Virgil Fletcher and used to it orchestrate the heist.
GENEGO: They were able to make it seems as if Gloria was the link between Virgil Fletcher and Gary Masse. And if it wasn't her, how else was this going to happen? Well, Gary Lee Smith was the missing piece.
GARY LEE SMITH, REFORMED CRIMINAL: The people I dealt with would steal other folks' jewelry and that sort of thing.
SARANDON: Small time Sacramento criminal Gary Lee Smith was recruited first to rob the Davies.
SMITH: An individual approached me, had some information about the value of the things that were in the Davies house. He told me where the gold and silver would be located.
SARANDON: But Smith wondered whether Davies would resist.
SMITH: What happens if this guy doesn't agree to this? He's not going to want anybody coming in and stealing his stuff. Well, we just shoot him. I certainly knew that I didn't want to get involved in anything like that. The Davies are innocent people. They could have been my grandparents. It just wasn't right.
SARANDON: Before Gloria's trial, Smith approached prosecutor Cleland and told them he had been recruited by a man name Bob Hoard. Hoard, a convicted felon, was Neva Snyder's son and had connections to Virgil Fletcher. But Cleland never arrested Bob Hoard. Instead he pressed Smith to tell him about Gloria Killian.
SMITH: I told him I didn't know her. But they said well, what was her involvement? None. Not that I know of.
GENEGO: It should have caused them to re-evaluate their case but they had already made up their minds about what happened here and they were filtering out information that was inconsistent with that which happens all the time.
SMITH: They took information and that's the last I heard of it.
SARANDON: For Smith's story to help Gloria, Genego would need to find and convince him to testify in open court. All for a woman he had never met.
GENEGO: Gary Lee Smith had completely turned his life around. And really had no reason to come forward and admit that he was a criminal 20 years ago.
SMITH: He asked me if I would come in and testify at her hearing. And I thought, my gosh. I certainly don't want any repercussions or anything.
SARANDON: After 13 years behind bars, Gloria Killian would get another day in court. Federal judge, Gregory Hallows, agreed to hear new evidence and determine if she had received a fair trial. Gary Lee Smith decided to come forward. He testified that Bob Hoard, not Gloria, had recruited him for the robbery.
SMITH: I had to take off work. It seemed inconsequential, really. Because this gal's life is involved.
KILLIAN: He said somebody else did it. And that was the first time I kind of got any complete picture of it. And I was just amazed.
SARANDON: But the star witness was Gary Masse. This time, he would testify for Gloria.
GENEGO: Gary Masse was very upset at the prosecution because he felt as if he had been misled.
WILLIAMS: Gary Masse said they promised me no more than 12 years, and they said it would be in a federal prison. They said I would get drug treatment. I got none of that stuff.
SARANDON: Now Gary Masse was ready to come clean about perjuring himself at Gloria's trial.
GENEGO: I read passages of his testimony at the trial and I said, was that the truth or was that a lie? And he said, that was a lie. And that was exactly what I wanted to get from him.
KOBRIN: And all of the sudden, the judge decides to question Gary Masse himself.
GENEGO: That's almost a challenge, I think, is the way that Masse saw it. Is everything you said on the witness stand a lie? What's your response to that going to be? No, not everything.
SARANDON: Masse told the judge a whole new story. Gloria was involved but only as a pawn of the real masterminds. And eventually Masse cut her out of the deal. But after Masse was convicted he told Cleland what he wanted to hear, that Gloria planned the crime.
KOBRIN: The testimony completely changes. Yes, yes, she might have been involved in the beginning but really, she had nothing to do with it.
GRIPPI: That's not unusual for witnesses to hedge but Gary Masse never came off the point that Gloria Killian told him about the Davies and that she went with him to the house a week or so before.
KOBRIN: So he's trust worthy? Gary Masse says to the judge, I lied on the stand. Straight up. The conviction is invalid but that's not the way the evidentiary hearing turned out.
SARANDON: Judge Hallows ruled that Gary's perjury amounted to harmless error. Masse's deal, he wrote, had not been concealed since the jury could have inferred it. He denied Gloria's appeal.
RIDE: When he said he still thought she was guilty, I thought, you are not a good judge. Why are you here? SARANDON: Six judges had ruled against Gloria. Joyce was out of money. Their last chance was the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court which had reversed just one such ruling in the past decade.
GENEGO: This was the last step in the process. We had lost all along the way. But this was her life. That's a huge responsibility and one that anyone would take seriously.
SARANDON: Now working without pay, Genego submitted the appeal to the Ninth Circuit's three-judge panel led by Judge Michael Hawkins.
JUDGE MICHAEL HAWKINS, NINTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS: I was the United States attorney for four years. I prosecuted plenty of cases myself. They are not entitled to a perfect trial. They are entitled to a reasonably fair trial, the defendants in criminal proceedings are.
SARANDON: A year after filing, Genego made a 15-minute oral argument to the court. Then, they waited. On March 10th, 2000, Gloria was busy advising other inmates. She had been behind bars for 14 years.
KILLIAN: Somebody came running over and said, you're still here. And I said, what are you talking about? And she handed me the article from the "L.A. Times." And that's how I knew. Gloria, you're going home. That was the only time I cried.
RIDE: I was just glad to hear it finally. What I had known for a long time.
KOBRIN: Finally, the Ninth Circuit looks at what happens and says, this is one of the most egregious cases I have ever seen.
SARANDON: Judge Hawkins overruled the district court. Masse's perjury wasn't harmless.
HAWKINS: The make-or-break witness. If you have reason not to believe him, you have some lack of confidence in the jury verdict.
CARLSON: The testimony of a thoroughly discredited perjurer. That's what they said. We would say he is a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) liar.
SARANDON: Cleland also should have disclosed his deal with Masse.
HAWKINS: Gary Masse should have been confronted with the fact that he really did have the deal with the prosecution. In a fair proceeding, a jury should hear it all.
SARANDON: Together, Hawkins wrote, these errors were devastating to confidence in the process. Still, prosecutor Cleland fought the ruling all the way to the Supreme Court without success. Six months later, Gloria was freed. In a rare step, the state bar eventually admonished Cleland for hiding evidence.
KILLIAN: The state of California finally stood up and said, this is not right.
SARANDON: The D.A.'s office chose not to retry Gloria but Cleland insisted he had not a scintilla of doubt about her conviction.
GRIPPI: Gloria likes to say, she's exonerated. She's factually innocent. No. There were some mistakes but Gloria Killian was involved and I would still suggest that the blood of Ed Davies is on her hands. I think she could do a lot better by saying, I was trying to make a quick buck like all the other people at Neva's house and I would not do that again. That would make me respect her a little bit more than I do at this point.
HAWKINS: I have a short response to that. Try the case. Shut up and try the case. OK? If you've got proof, go to court. Prove it. If you don't, move on to the next case. Be a man.
GENEGO: Our legal system is constructed on the idea that you are innocent until proven guilty. So unless you've been proven guilty of something, you are innocent, whether you say that she's not guilty, innocent or exonerated, that's just the right way to think about it.
SARANDON: Gloria was finally free but she had nowhere to go.
RIDE: All of her relatives had died while she was in prison. So I said, I have a three-bedroom house. She is easy to get along with. So am I.
SARANDON: Thirty years ago, Gloria was vulnerable to unscrupulous criminals or zealous prosecutors because she was alone.
KOBRIN: Gloria didn't have people. She didn't have money. She was easy prey. Now she's got people. She has devoted her life to helping the women that she left behind.
KILLIAN: I want to change the criminal justice system until it is fair. And I don't ever, ever want anybody to go through what I went through. It is not right. It has to be fair.