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  Transcripts

Burden of Proof

Boston Doctor Charged with Wife's Murder

Aired March 10, 2000 - 12:30 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM R. KEATING, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, NORFOLK COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS: After the top of that storm drain was removed, investigators were able to find a hammer, a bloodied, right-handed glove and a knife. Through other DNA testing, we were able to link Dirk Greineder to the handle of the knife and a portion of the glove.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, for the indictment of murder, how do you plead; not guilty or guilty?

DR. DIRK GREINEDER, MURDER DEFENDANT: Not guilty.

RICK GRANDY, PROSECUTOR, NORFOLK COUNTY, MASSACHUSETTS: And that was the matching glove to the one in the first storm drain, the left- handed glove, and that, too, your honor, was visibly stained with blood.

MARTIN F. MURPHY, GREINEDER ATTORNEY: We believe the police have made a very serious mistake here. Dr. Greineder loved his wife. He did not kill his wife. We look forward to being able to show that, in the end, he will be vindicated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It shows that the police did a very good job. They found what they needed to find, at least enough to charge the doctor with the crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROGER COSSACK, CO-HOST: Today on BURDEN OF PROOF: A prominent Boston doctor is charged with murdering his wife. Behind his life of wealth and stature, prosecutors say he led a second life of prostitutes and pornography under a different name.

ANNOUNCER: This is BURDEN OF PROOF with Greta Van Susteren and Roger Cossack.

COSSACK: Hello and welcome to BURDEN OF PROOF. Greta is off today.

In Boston, the murder trial of a prominent doctor is exposing an alleged double life of prostitution and pornography. Prosecutors claim Dr. Dirk Greineder killed his wife on October 31. They searched his computer and business records, revealing a secret life under the pseudonym Thomas Young, the name of a fellow undergrad at Yale University three decades ago.

Now, according to investigators, DNA evidence from a bloody glove and a knife found near the crime scene link Greineder to the murder of his wife.

Joining us today from Boston is Robert Griffin, chief of superior court prosecutions in Suffolk County. Also in Boston, criminal defense attorney Andrew Good. And in our Boston bureau, WBZ radio reporter Jay McQuaide. Here in Washington, Mike Pearce (ph), criminal defense attorney Bernard Grimm and Sarah Kimball (ph). And in the back, Larissa Masny (ph) and Erin Alspach (ph).

Let's go right to you, Jay. You've been covering this story. Bring us up-to-date.

JAY MCQUAIDE, WBZ RADIO: Well, as you say, it began on Halloween, I remember the morning because it happened to coincide with the crash of EgyptAir, it was a morning, they went for a walk, this couple. As you mentioned, he was a prominent allergist, well-known, speaks four languages, known for 30 years in the medical field. Works at a very prestigious Boston hospital.

Anyway, this couple, which lives in a very affluent suburb of Boston, mind you, Wellesley, Massachusetts, took a morning stroll, as they normally would on a Sunday morning around a popular park in Wellesley.

And according to Dr. Greineder's story anyway, his wife got fatigued, got tired, and said she was going to stop at their car, and he was going to continue on with the walk.

Well, according to Dr. Greineder's story, he did continue on, and when he finished his walk, and came back to the couple's car, a short distance away in the woods, he found his wife's body covered with blood, she had been bludgeon and stabbed to death. Prosecutors say, of course, that it didn't happen quite that way, and that Dr. Greineder, after 31 years of marriage, is the person who killed his wife that Sunday morning.

COSSACK: Now, Jay, since this murder charge has come out, and since the murder has occurred, we now know of many things about Dr. Greineder that obviously we didn't know before. What are some those things?

MCQUAIDE: Well, that was the most revealing part of this entire court appearance. After he was charged with an indictment, when the DNA evidence came back, Roger, the prosecutors told us that this is an individual who unbeknownst to his family, friends, or colleagues in the medical field had been leading a secret sex-obsessed life that, for the past 18 months, under the pseudonym of a Yale classmate, he had been downloading pornography on to his computer files at home, and in fact had been calling and visiting prostitutes, not only on business trips out of town, but here in Boston.

Of course, this is a life that Dr. Greineder denies, but a life that prosecutors say ultimately led up to this murder. COSSACK: Jay, what is the motive that the police are alleging in this case?

MCQUAIDE: I'm glad you brought that up, Roger, because in the court appearance that we've had at his arraignment a short time ago, they have never actually spelled out a motive. But they did drop this bombshell about this secret life, but they never made it clear in their court statements as to whether or not they are alleging that, perhaps, Mabel Greineder had found out about her husband's secret life, or if in fact that Dr. Greineder was concerned about his wife finding out about this double life of the past 18 months, or if in fact the marriage had just gone sour, and he wanted to break it off.

We don't know. They haven't actually said specifically with the exception of dropping this bombshell, which the defense calls it, of saying that for the past 18 months he's been doing something that no one else, not even his family or friends, knew he was doing.

COSSACK: And Jay, there is a dispute over the DNA evidence in this case. The prosecution say they have DNA evidence, and defense says: That's impossible, you have never tested him for DNA.

MCQUAIDE: Yes, that's right. The prosecutors have said their case is going to rely on physical evidence and DNA evidence. DNA evidence, they say, as you pointed out in the opening there, that came from the bloody knife and the glove that they found in a storm drain not far from the body; a glove, which the prosecutor mentioned there, happened to match, according to the prosecutors, a glove found in the doghouse of the Greineder home in a search after the murder.

It is a good point, and we are going to have to learn more about that. It is really not clear at the moment. This case is just beginning, mind you. He was just indicted this month, and we don't even have a trial date yet.

COSSACK: All right. Bob Griffin, the prosecutor in this case presents unusual problems to say the least. I would think one of which would be you have to deal with the reputation of this man in the community.

ROBERT GRIFFIN, PROSECUTOR, SUFFOLK COUNTY, MASS.: That is certainly a problem that the prosecution is going to face. However, his reputation, if the evidence of his secret life or his double life, if you will, comes out in court I think that that type of evidence will severely impugn his reputation.

COSSACK: Bob, you don't think that, and there may be a leap between saying: Look, this guy was a wonderful doctor and perhaps he had a quirky side of him, but that quirky side, and I am saying -- I am putting the DNA to aside for a moment, that quirky side does not a murder make.

GRIFFIN: No, it doesn't necessarily a murderer make. However, there's certain other circumstantial evidence that the prosecution has in this case that the doctor is unable to explain. For example, he had blood on numerous parts of his body when the police came. However, most notably, his hands were clean.

He stated to the police that he had attempted to stem the bleeding from his wife's gaping wound. If he had, in fact, done that, one would certainly think there would be blood on his hands.

COSSACK: And does he have an explanation of why there was no blood on his hands?

GRIFFIN: It's my understanding that when the police asked him why he didn't have blood on his hand, he was non-responsive.

COSSACK: All right. Andrew Good, the police, they have found a bloody glove -- sound familiar? -- in fact, two bloody gloves in this case, perhaps that will explain what happened, why he did not have blood on his hands.

ANDREW GOOD, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it might. I think the defense has a lot of investigation to do here, both on the forensic side and on the non-forensic side in order to present a credible explanation for whatever the prosecution is presenting. And I think that one question that may be answered early on, or an attempt will be made to get an early answer is whether or not this evidence concerning Dr. Greineder's sexual activities, if it can be linked to him, whether those have anything to do with this case.

I would imagine that the defense will consider trying to keep that evidence out of this trial just because it may not be so easy for the prosecution to show that there's some link between whatever his sexual activities were and the crime.

COSSACK: Andrew, how would defense go about doing that, keeping this -- it would seem to most people that this is pretty relevant evident, what would the defense do?

GOOD: Well, as I say, it doesn't necessarily follow as a matter of logic that if someone is sexually active with someone other than their spouse that that gives them a motive to kill their spouse. I understand the argument can be made that it does, but unless you have something more, it isn't necessarily clear to me that a judge would agree that just because a person is active with someone other than his spouse that that provides a motive to murder the spouse, at least that might be the argument.

On the other hand, if the defense is going to have to accept the idea that this evidence is going to be presented, then it needs to have an explanation for the whole series of events, including the sex, that may be persuasive in raising a reasonable doubt as to Dr. Greineder's guilt.

COSSACK: All right. Let's take a break. Up next, arguing a case of alleged double life. And does a secret world link the defendant to this crime? Stay with us.

(BEGIN LEGAL BRIEF)

Boulder County, Colorado District Attorney Alex Hunter will not run for an eighth four-year term.

Though Hunter has been criticized for not indicting anyone in the JonBenet Ramsey case, he says he thinks his constituents feel he "has done right by the law."

(END LEGAL BRIEF)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSSACK: Good news for our Internet-savvy viewers: You can now watch BURDEN OF PROOF live on the Worldwide Web. Just log onto cnn.com/burden. We now provide a live video feed Monday through Friday at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time. And if you miss that live show, the program is available on the site at any time via video-on-demand. You can also interact with our show and even join our chat room.

A prominent physician has been charged with the Halloween murder of his wife in suburban Boston. Fifty-nine-year-old Dirk Greineder is being held without bail. Prosecutors say he lived a secret life of prostitution and pornography.

Well, Bernie, we know what the prosecutors are claiming, but the one thing also that's happening in this case is the doctor's three children, mostly adult children, are standing by him and saying this couldn't be my father. How would you use that as a defense attorney?

BERNARD GRIMM, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, that's -- it's critical in two ways: One, in order to get him released on bond, you can say he has strong ties to the community and he obviously has the support of his family, perhaps contrary to other notable cases we know where the family actually takes the other side of the person charged. And down the road you may also want to call them as possibly character witnesses. However, you want to footnote the possibility that you could probably keep this bizarre sexual conduct out. And if he opens the door to character, then it's all going to come flooded right back in.

COSSACK: And the possibility exists of having one of his children testify to what a great father he is and suddenly being asked, well, did you happen -- did know when you were making up this -- your mind about what a great father you had that he was conducting himself in these other ways?

GRIMM: Absolutely, say, well, would you have the same conclusion if I told you your father had sex with 50 different prostitutes in the last three and a half years? So...

COSSACK: Bob, doesn't it make it more difficult for the prosecution when you have the children standing by their father saying, yes, we now everything he did, but we know the kind of relationship my mother and father had and my father wouldn't have done this?

GRIFFIN: It certainly provides a problem for the prosecution, but it's not an insurmountable problem. Many children do not want to believe that their parents are capable of such a heinous act. I don't think there's any child in America that wants to believe that their father, who they have known all their life as a loving father, has committed such an act as murdering their own mother.

COSSACK: All right, Jay, let's talk a little bit about the DNA dispute in this case. The prosecution says DNA will play a big role. In fact, we have matches. The defense says, how can you have a match? You haven't even taken a sample.

MCQUAIDE: That's a good point, Roger. That's right. The defense attorney in this case, Marty Murphy, that's one of the things he's repeated over and over again in court is, look, you say that you have conclusive DNA evidence against my client buy yet you haven't taken a sample. You haven't taken a sample of saliva, hair or whatever else you collect -- DNA. Now, perhaps the lawyers can talk about how long those tests take, but that's something the defense has been hammering home.

Now, we do know that Dr. Greineder has been held without bail and he sits in a jail, in a lockup, until further DNA tests are done, and perhaps those are the more complex tests. But that's something you're going to hear the defense say again and again and again: You're presenting this case before the grand jury, you've got an indictment, now you're bringing the client to an arraignment and you haven't taken a sample from my client.

COSSACK: Andrew, the notion that a sample hasn't been taken -- an official sample -- suppose, you know, a court order saying, give me some hair or what have you -- that doesn't prevent the prosecution from being in possession of some DNA that they believe belongs to the doctor, does it?

GOOD: No, it doesn't. They could have acquired it by some other means, some way in which the doctor has left some biological specimen on a witness basis, and they believe that this is a known sample from Dr. Greineder and they're using that. And they eventually will take the position that if the state questions whether or not this comes from Dr. Greineder, that they're welcome to go ahead and test it to see whether that's the case. I think that, by the way, that the defense counsel in this case has offered to provide samples, so, you know, he seems to feel that if the testing is done properly that his client will not be matched. So we just have a standoff at this point on this issue.

COSSACK: Now, there -- Andrew, there is initial -- the prosecution has said, well, we have some initial results which indicate that this is the doctor's DNA. But it's my understanding that the in-depth testing of DNA, if you will, the RFLP in the -- that it takes some time. What they have -- what do they have now that they could make those kinds of conclusions?

GOOD: Well, I'm not sure that they've said exactly what they have now, whether they've actually produced the written reports of the results and the backup material so that that can be known. I don't know what they have. They've made -- both sides have made statements about what the status of the situation is from the laboratory, but it's far from clear, really, what information is available. COSSACK: Bob, the doctor had, up until now, an outstanding reputation in the community. Now it comes time to pick a jury: What do you do about this?

GRIFFIN: Well, the jury va nary (ph) from Norfolk County, it's a fairly homogeneous area. It's a middle-class, suburban city jury. He's pretty much -- you're pretty much stuck with a jury of his peers. You're going to get a lot of people his age, a lot of people in his professions, and that's about what you're going to get.

COSSACK: Would you be concerned about -- that people would be -- particularly in light of the fact that his family is standing by him, that those people would be, perhaps, more favorable to him than you would want as a prosecutor?

GRIFFIN: I don't necessarily believe that that would be the case. Certainly one of the hurdles that a prosecutor has to get over is to convince any jury that somebody is capable of murdering someone who they had appeared to have a long and loving relationship with and had children with. It's -- that in and of itself is a hurdle, but I don't think that that would be an insurmountable burden for the prosecution in the case given the evidence that I understand that they have.

COSSACK: All right, up next, the defense of Dr. Dirk Greineder, and amid DNA evidence and stories of a pseudonym. Stay with us.

(BEGIN Q&A)

Q: What do best-selling author Scott Turow, former FBI and CIA director William Webster and former U.S. senator Paul Simon all have in common?

A: These three men, along with a dozen other men and women, have been named to Illinois Gov. George Ryan's capital punishment commission. Ryan has suspended the death penalty until he is certain the system works correctly.

(END Q&A)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSSACK: After last week's arrest for alleged murder, Dr. Dirk Greineder's medical license has been suspended. His attorney says prosecutors have made a serious mistake.

Well, Bernie, medical license suspend, double life, all these horrible facts; I think that if I was defending the doctor the one of the things I'd be thinking about was trying to change where this trial was going to take place. How would you go about doing it?

GRIMM: I would agree. There's good pretrial publicity and there's bad pretrial publicity. I think what's going to come out in this case, what people like to read, that will set this apart from any other type of murder is this other life that he lived with prostitutes, with pornography, with the other name, and that's what sells newspapers and gets people to turn on the 6:00 news. I think he's going to want to get out of this area that he's in and get, maybe, to another section of Massachusetts.

COSSACK: Andrew, one of the traditional defenses that goes on in a murder trial is to put the victim on trial. This would seem in this particular case to be a very difficult thing to do. Would you go about -- would you think about it, and how would you go about finding out?

GOOD: Well, I think that the investigation for the defense in this case is more likely to focus on who did this if Dr. Greineder didn't. There are -- there were -- had been some publicity about homicides committed using a similar methodology of killing the victim in the same general area not very far distant; there are at least two or three other homicides in a relatively-short span of time. So, I would think that one area of investigation would be less to do with the life of the victim and more to do with whether or not defense can show likely that there were avenues of investigation that might have led to someone other than Dr. Greineder as the offender.

COSSACK: Bob, I wanted to talk to you about that. There have been report of some serial killers in that area. If you're the prosecutor, aren't you concerned that perhaps the defense that Andrew just spoke about is going to be raised?

GRIFFIN: Oh, I would certainly expect it to be raised. But, however, if the DNA testing and the circumstances of this particular case, I think, can distinguish Dr. Greineder's case, as I said earlier in the show, the circumstance of him not having any blood on his hand after he tells the investigators that he was trying to stem the bleeding from his wife's gaping wounds in her neck speak to me -- speaks legions as to how this case can be distinguished from the other case. The -- one of the cases that Andy spoke about was very similar in that it was an elderly -- it was an elderly man and his wife who were out for an early morning walk in a park, and she was brutally murdered, stabbed numerous times, and there was a particular suspect who was identified and ultimately exonerated by DNA evidence.

COSSACK: Bob, let me give you a hypothetical. Let's suppose -- you know, as you know as a prosecutor, you always have to be careful of cooperating defense lawyers. And when they're offering up DNA evidence of their client, normally that's not a good sign for the prosecution. Let's suppose the -- lets suppose the DNA comes back inconclusive in this case. How does it hurt the case? What would you do after that?

GRIFFIN: Well, obviously it takes -- you know, it takes out the crown jewel of the evidence, so to speak, in the case. However, what you're left with then is you're left with a circumstantial case. And even without the DNA, from what I understand they have for circumstantial evidence, I still think that they have a strong-enough case that they could go forward and that they would get to a jury.

COSSACK: Andrew, without DNA will a jury convict this prominent doctor? GOOD: Oh, I don't know. You never predict what juries will do. Certainly, would -- you know, this case, if there's no DNA evidence then that becomes a weapon for the defense. That is, if they've conducted DNA testing and they can't make a match, they're going to have a hard time explaining why.

COSSACK: OK, Andrew, and with that you get the last word, because that's all the time we have for today. Thanks to our guests and thank you for watching.

Today on "TALKBACK LIVE," sports and society: breaking the rules or breaking the law? Weigh-in at 3:00 p.m. Eastern, noon Pacific.

And we'll be back Monday with another edition of BURDEN OF PROOF. We'll see you then.

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