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Interview With Stacey Lannert, Serving Life in Prison for Murdering Her Father

Aired September 4, 2003 - 21:00   ET


STACEY LANNERT, SERVING LIFE IN PRISON FOR KILLING FATHER: And so I grabbed the gun and I took it upstairs. And I closed my eyes and I pulled the trigger.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: When she was 18 years old, Stacey Lannert killed her own father after she says he sexually abused her since she was 9 and started abusing her kid sister. Tonight, convicted killer Stacey Lannert speaks out from her maximum security prison, where she's serving a life sentence. And then the sister she killed for, Christy Lannert, who says she, too, was abused by her father. They're next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. A daughter killing her own father after what she says was years of his sexual abuse. Was justice truly done when Stacey Lannert was convicted of first-degree murder in December of 1992? We'll hear from Stacey herself in just a moment, but first here's the story behind that disturbing question. Watch.


KING: A teenage daughter murders her own father...

LANNERT: And then the gun was right there against the chair.

KING: ... with his own rifle in their own home. And a taped police confession by the accused, Stacey Lannert.

LANNERT: And I decided at that moment that I was going to do it. I was going to kill him.

KING: Stacey Lannert was convicted of murder one, got a life sentence. But now members of her jury wonder if her punishment is too harsh, even though Stacey not only admits to killing her dad but says she has no regrets about it because Stacey Lannert also claims her dad raped her for years. The detective who took her confession believes her. The prosecutors says she's a liar and did it for money.

Is Stacey Lannert just a cold-blooded killer, or did years of sexual abuse drive her to murder her own father? Some jurors say state law left them no choice but to give her life without parole in Missouri state prison. And that's where Stacey Lannert is today at age 31, as her new attorneys appeal to Missouri's governor for clemency or at least a parole hearing.


The full name of the maximum security facility where Stacey Lannert is sentenced to spend the rest of her life is the Women's Eastern Reception and Diagnostic Correctional Center in Vandalia (ph), Missouri. And that's where Stacey told Court TV's Nancy Grace about the start of what she says was years of sexual abuse at the hands of her own father.


LANNERT: We used to play a game called touch tongues, where -- like, me and my sister...

NANCY GRACE, COURT TV: Touch tongues?

LANNERT: Yes. Or me and my mom. My mom actually had started it. It wasn't anything sexual.


LANNERT: It was just -- we'd stick out our tongues and close our eyes and touch tongues and go, Ooh! And he asked me if I wanted to play that game.

GRACE: When you say "touch tongues" -- I have reason to believe it didn't stop there.

LANNERT: No, it didn't. It eventually progressed to much worse things. It's really hard to think about and think about your dad doing those types of things to you.

GRACE: And I noticed, again, at trial, you never gave them any specific incidents. Are you able to recall and recount the first time your dad had performed oral sex...


GRACE: ... had you perform oral sex with him?

LANNERT: I might -- I couldn't at that time. At that time, I didn't have anybody that helped me. I didn't have anybody that cared about me. I didn't have anything. The only thing I had was my sister. And I went to trial because I had this deep-seated belief that if people knew, that they would understand. But then I wasn't able to present anything to help myself.

GRACE: Couldn't get it out.

LANNERT: No. I was very, very helpless. Very helpless.

GRACE: That first afternoon, the first time you had oral sex with your dad, what was -- what were the surrounding circumstances? LANNERT: I don't really -- I don't quite remember all the surrounding -- I don't -- I don't think it was -- my father never touched me unless he had been drinking. And so all I really remember is him having alcohol breath, a beer breath. And he would take a shower first, and he'd come out and he'd have this little -- a little robe on. And he usually just had me touch him, or he would touch me. And this time he came out, and he had the marshmallow cream and said we were going to play a different game. And then he would tell me he loved me. And...

GRACE: See, right there, you're going from him coming out with marshmallow cream to afterwards.

LANNERT: No, it would be before.

GRACE: What would happen?

LANNERT: It would be before. He told me that he loved me. And he took a little of the marshmallow cream and placed it on his finger and told me to lick it off. And I did.

GRACE: Off of his finger?

LANNERT: Off his finger. And then eventually, he moved it to another area, to his -- he moved it farther down and...

GRACE: To his penis?


GRACE: And have you lick it off. And ultimately, that turned into oral sex.

LANNERT: Right. That's how he got me to do it, that he would keep placing it on there.

GRACE: Oh, continuously.

LANNERT: Continuously. And if it came off, I would stop, and then he would put more on. So it was more a game. It was fun. It wasn't, You're just going to do this. It was -- I liked that. I thought I did. It was never -- there was never force, like...

GRACE: Until the actual rape.

LANNERT: Until the actual rape.

GRACE: At trial, when you were on the stand and you were looking at these 12 people you'd never seen before, the judge up on the bench, how did that make you feel, when you were trying to describe sex with your father?

LANNERT: I never tried to describe it. I wasn't asked.

GRACE: Did your lawyer, your defense lawyer, then talk to you about what happened? LANNERT: No. He didn't. He never brought it up. He never asked me to speak about it. He never -- and I would usually cry. I couldn't even say that my dad had raped me. It was very hard for me to say. It's still hard for me to say.

And I couldn't tell those 12 people that. I couldn't tell the courtroom that. I had went through a lifetime of being silent. And even though it meant to save my own life, I couldn't speak. No. No. I can now because I've gotten stronger. And I've healed. And I have people that care about me and who tell me that it's not my fault. And I didn't believe that (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You know, I felt like it was my fault, I should have stopped it, that I could have told this person.

I was just so filled with shame, and I didn't want anybody to know what had happened to me. You feel like everybody knows anyway. Didn't really feel like I had to defend myself. I felt like you should be able to look at me and you should know.

GRACE: When you hear that certain jurors say, We disagree with our verdict, we wish we hadn't done that, how does that make you feel?

LANNERT: I don't really understand. I don't understand how any of this happened! I really don't. And I don't understand. And it just seems like my whole life, I've been waiting for somebody to come and save me and nobody ever has, and that everybody that can't just leaves, really just leaves me there.

GRACE: Do you still see your mom?


GRACE: She's really all you have.

LANNERT: Her and my sister.

GRACE: Do you ever blame her or wonder why she didn't save you?

LANNERT: Yes. But I can't -- I can't -- I can't live like that. I just can't. I can't have all that anger. I can't be mad at anybody. I can't be mad at my dad. I can't be mad at me. I can't be mad at her. I can't be mad at Christy. I can't be mad at the prosecutor. I can't be mad at anybody. I just want to be free in my heart, in my body, in my mind and in my soul.


KING: A little later, we'll hear from Stacey's younger sister and her attorney and the prosecutor who convicted her. But when we come back, Stacey Lannert describes the first time that her father's alleged sexual abuse turned into actual rape.


KING: Welcome back. We continue now with Stacey Lannert, doing life in prison for killing her father when she was 18 because, she says, he sexually abused and assaulted her for years. Now Stacey details how that alleged abuse turned into out-and-out rape.


LANNERT: He would tell me not to tell my mom. He would tell me that -- or my sister -- that they would be jealous because he made me believe that it was a game that big people played. And people would tell me that I was mature for my age, and I thought it was actually something special that we did. It didn't feel bad at all, whatsoever. It wasn't the greatest thing in the world, but it didn't hurt me. And I didn't think he ever would do anything that would hurt me. He was my dad. And so I thought I was special.

GRACE: It never occurred to you that it was odd to keep secrets from your mom?

LANNERT: No, not at all. I just thought it was something that him and I shared and that it was because I was his favorite and I was special.

GRACE: During these incidents where you and your dad -- you're 8.


GRACE: -- were having oral sex in the basement, where was your mom?

LANNERT: I don't know. I don't know. She was either upstairs or out or out shopping. I don't know where she was. I don't have that very clear in my mind. She wasn't there. She wasn't there.

GRACE: After oral sex, the next morning, would your dad just act normal? Just...

LANNERT: Uh-huh.

GRACE: Would he ever refer to it during the day or at the breakfast table?

LANNERT: No. I don't think we really ate breakfast together that much. We -- about that time, we all stopped becoming a family. It stopped being -- everything just kind of started breaking apart around that time, and it wasn't normal anymore.

GRACE: Now, was that around the time your parents were having marital problems and...

LANNERT: They had marital problems from the 2nd grade up until the time they separated, when I was beginning 8th grade.

GRACE: Did your dad and mom sleep in the same room?


GRACE: Throughout all of this.


GRACE: I know we're at age 8, but I know, Stacey, that, according to you, things didn't end with oral sex.


GRACE: What happened?

LANNERT: I was beginning not to like it and I didn't want to play anymore, because it was -- I don't exactly know why I didn't want to play, just -- I didn't like it, and I didn't like the taste in my mouth. And I had went to spit, and he got...

GRACE: You mean, after oral sex...


GRACE: ... spit out...


GRACE: ... ejaculation?

LANNERT: Yes. But I didn't know what it was. I just knew I didn't like it and I didn't want it in my mouth. And he told me to swallow it, and I wouldn't. And I went into the bathroom to spit it out, and he got very, very angry. And that was a side of him I had never seen before at all whatsoever, so I ran from him. And I tried to lock him out and...

GRACE: Lock him out of what?

LANNERT: I was in a bathroom area, and it had two doors. And he was at this door, and I tried to run through this door and run upstairs. And he wound up catching me right in front of the wood- burning stove, and he threw me on the ground, and he raped me.

GRACE: Stacey, at that point, how old were you?

LANNERT: I was 9.

GRACE: When that rape was over, what did you do?

LANNERT: I laid there for a really long time until he left me. And then I went and looked for my mom, and I couldn't find her. And her car was gone from the garage. And I went and I locked myself in the bathroom and I took a bath. And when I came out, I just -- I couldn't believe that that man standing there at that doorway was my dad. And I just wanted my mom. And he told me that Mom knew and that she didn't want that to happen to her anymore and that she wouldn't help me. And I believed him.

GRACE: How often did your dad have sex with you?

LANNERT: It varied. It varied a lot. Sometimes it would be very often, and sometimes it wouldn't be at all. At the most frequently, it was, like, three times a week and sometimes it would be once a month.

GRACE: Would he orchestrate times when your mom wasn't there...


GRACE: ... or would she actually be somewhere in the house?

LANNERT: She'd be in the house.

GRACE: Now, how does that work? To most of us, that's unfathomable. How would that work?

LANNERT: Well, we had always spent a lot of time together in the basement. And she would come down sometimes when I would scream.

GRACE: And say what?

LANNERT: Ask if everything was OK. And then he'd say yes, and I wouldn't say anything.

GRACE: You wouldn't say anything. Did you ever tell your mother?



LANNERT: Because I thought she knew and she didn't care.


KING: Stacey says the things only got worse, if you can imagine. You'll find out how when the interview continues. But first, some of Stacey Lannert's videotaped police confession. Watch.


LANNERT: And then the gun was right there against the chair. And I decided at that moment that I was going to do it, I was going to kill him. I walked behind here. He was laying on this couch right here. And I walked behind here, put the gun on that little ledge, and I pulled the trigger.



KING: Welcome back to our look at the case of Stacey Lannert, doing life without parole for killing her father, who she says sexually abused her since she was 9 years old. As she became a teenager, she says, things went from awful to even worse. And the unthinkable became all too thinkable.


LANNERT: Well, she did find underwear underneath the stairs. I didn't understand why I was bleeding, and so I had hid them. And she didn't know where they had came from or whose they were. And she was...

GRACE: How could she not know whose underwear they were? There were only three women in the house.

LANNERT: Right. She didn't know if they were mine or my sister's. Neither one of us were at an age where we should have been menstruating.

GRACE: Having your period, yes.

LANNERT: Right. And so she was real confused as to where it came from.

GRACE: Did she ask you?

LANNERT: Yes, I eventually told her when she had threatened to take us to a doctor. I told her that they were mine.

GRACE: And what about the blood?

LANNERT: Well, I guess she assumed I had started my menstrual cycle because I did start shortly around that time. There was a lot -- were a lot of indications. And that's why I absolutely felt that my mother knew. In my own way, I was telling her. I didn't ever come straight out and tell her, but my personality changed so much, my demeanor changed, my attitude towards her changed. I wasn't the same little girl that I was.

GRACE: What was your attitude toward your mom?

LANNERT: I was just very, very angry at her because she wasn't protecting me from him.

GRACE: Did you feel that somehow this was your fault?

LANNERT: I thought there was something wrong with me because he was violent. Had he not been violent with me, I maybe would have never known. But he hurt me.

GRACE: Every time, was it violent?

LANNERT: Yes, because I would fight him in the beginning. In the beginning, I would fight back. And eventually, I became complacent. But it took a long time to get me there.

GRACE: Did you ever think you could reach out to a teacher or your grandmother or your aunt?

LANNERT: I really didn't think I could tell anybody. I really, really didn't. I honestly didn't. I don't know why. I was very, very much in fear of him.

GRACE: Now, your parents divorced.


GRACE: How old were you when they divorced?

LANNERT: Twelve and thirteen.

GRACE: And where'd your mom go?

LANNERT: She wound up moving to Arizona.

GRACE: And then later to Guam.


GRACE: Now, did she oppose your father having joint custody?


GRACE: Had she ever asked you point-blank, Is your father abusing you?

LANNERT: No. She never asked.

GRACE: But she took you to a psychiatrist.


GRACE: And the psychiatrist told your mom -- this is what age, 10?

LANNERT: Twelve.

GRACE: Twelve. The psychiatrist told your mother that the psych thought you were abused.


GRACE: Sexually.


GRACE: And your mom never mentioned it. When did it hit you that you could kill your father?

LANNERT: Right around when I turned 18. I felt very, very trapped and just stuck and like it was never, ever, ever going to end. So I would fantasize about him being gone.

GRACE: I want to go back to the night of the shooting. What happened that night? July 3, right?

LANNERT: Right. I had came back from Guam around the end of April.

GRACE: And that's living with your mom.

LANNERT: Right. That was living with my mom. And... GRACE: Why did you come back to live with your dad?

LANNERT: Because my sister -- when I was living with my mom, my sister moved back in with my dad.


LANNERT: I think -- -and she was always jealous of me and our relationship, and I think that it was she thought maybe with me being gone that they would have a better relationship.

GRACE: She and your dad.


GRACE: OK. So she moves back in.


GRACE: Then what happened?

LANNERT: She called. She would call me. She was 14. She had started drinking very heavily. And she would call and she would just be really upset and in a lot of pain. And she just -- she needed me. But I didn't want to go back at all whatsoever.

GRACE: Did you think she was then being molested?

LANNERT: Not at that time. Not at that time. I just thought that it wasn't working out the way she wanted it to.

GRACE: Now, when your dad called you in Guam, what did he say to make you come all the way back?

LANNERT: He told me to get my ass back home right now. Right now.

GRACE: For...

LANNERT: He said I had to take care of my sister, had to take care of her. I wasn't worried about him molesting her, at that point in time. I was worried about him hurting her.

GRACE: Did you think the sex was just going to stop?

LANNERT: Yes, I did. I did because...

GRACE: Because you were grown up more?

LANNERT: Right. And I had gotten away and I was free, and it had stopped. It had stopped for those three months that I was gone, and I didn't want to return to that. So I had planned on -- I had gotten my GED while I was living with my mother, so I was free to go to college. So I figured I'd come back, put Christy on a plane to go live with my mom, and I'd go to college and I'd be out of the house. And that would be it. GRACE: So what ultimately happened? I mean, something happened between coming back and you're on trial for murder.


GRACE: What happened?

LANNERT: My dad became extremely increasingly violent, both towards her and me. He would hurt me physically when he raped me, but he wouldn't hurt me physically for any other reason. He never really threatened me. It was the kind of thing -- You're going to do this. And I had a lot of learned helplessness behavior, I guess, and I just kind of fell into it.

GRACE: See, even now you're blaming yourself.

LANNERT: Right. I know. It's a very hard pattern to break.

GRACE: When you came back from Guam, did the sex resume?

LANNERT: Not right away. Not the very -- not the first week because he wasn't there. But when he came back home, yes. Yes, it did.

GRACE: Did you make it clear this is not what you wanted? At this point, you're what, 16 years old?

LANNERT: I'm 17...

GRACE: You're 17.

LANNERT: I was almost 18. I was, like, three weeks away from being 18, about a month being away from being 18. And yes, I was very, very vocal about it. And for some reason...

GRACE: And what happened?

LANNERT: I had in my mind that on my 18th birthday, he couldn't ever do that to me again. I don't know why I thought that. I realize it's really silly now, but I really, honestly believed it.

GRACE: So you say no, and what happens?

LANNERT: He just takes it. He would make me. He would force me. And it became worse and worse and worse. He would restrain me. He would tie me down, hold me down, and belittle me and humiliate me in ways that just broke my soul.


KING: When we return, Stacey takes you through the night she killed her own father and all that's happened since. And then we'll talk with her sister, her lawyer and the prosecutor who still calls Stacey a liar. First, more from her videotaped police confession.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LANNERT: He woke up. He thought that he had broke his collarbone, and he started calling my name. And I went downstairs to try and find the phone to call (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I couldn't find it, and I panicked. So then I shot him again.



KING: Welcome back. Stacey Lannert was 18 when she killed the father she said had sexually abused her half her life. Here now her account the night of the murder and its aftermath.


S. LANNERT: July 3, in St. Louis we had what's called a VP fair, it's now called the Fair of St. Louis. And Christy and I were going to go to the fair. And her birthday was ready to come up.

So I had -- things had gotten increasingly worse with my dad on my 18th birthday. I had brought home a puppy, because and he did not like the dog at all whatsoever. And he had told me that I had to get rid of it. And I told him that I wasn't going to. And if the dog goes, I go. And he said, fine, go. I don't need you anymore. I'll get you a replacement.

GRACE: I'll get you a replacement?

S. LANNERT: I've got your replacement.

GRACE: And who would that be, Christy?

S. LANNERT: My sister. And he pulled my sister into her room. And wouldn't let me in. And she was screaming. And I don't know what he did to her. I absolutely do not know what he did to her in that room. Don't want to know. I don't want to know.

And when she came out, she looked like me. And I gave her my car keys, and told her just to leave, go pick up her friend. I acted like nothing happened. Just like all those times before I acted like nothing happened. And I went downstairs. And I cried. I just had to pull myself together, because I couldn't let her see me distraught, because I had to be strong. And my dad had came down while I was crying. And he was a little threatening.

GRACE: Did you ever ask her what happened in the room?

S. LANNERT: No. Never. And to this day I still haven't asked her.

GRACE: She came out of the room and looked like you, what do you mean?

S. LANNERT: I just saw me in her. I just saw me in her.

GRACE: Now, when asked later, Christy said she was not molested. Do you think she is in denial?

S. LANNERT: Oh, yes, definitely. Most of my family is. I still am in certain moments.

GRACE: So that night you guys go to the fair...

S. LANNERT: We went to the fair.

GRACE: And what happened?

S. LANNERT: I went -- we went to go home. And the light was on. And I knew he was on that couch. And I knew he had...

GRACE: The couch at the front door?

S. LANNERT: Right. And I knew we had to -- just that it would keep going. That it would never ever, ever stop.

GRACE: Why were you going back to the house?

S. LANNERT: Where else was I supposed to go?

GRACE: But you had rented a hotel room for the night.

S. LANNERT: Not at that time.


S. LANNERT: Not at that time. So we pulled up to the front of the house, and I looked at her, and I said, let's not go back. Let's not ever go back. And she said, okay. And we went to the hotel by the airport. Just to -- it was like 1:00 in the morning at this time. Just to sleep. Just to figure out what we were going to do. And we were there for about a half an hour. And I had left my dog at home.

GRACE: The puppy?

S. LANNERT: Yes, the puppy.

GRACE: OK, so you go back for the puppy. You go in, and what happens?

S. LANNERT: I went in the basement window because I didn't want to walk past him. And my sister went in. My sister went in. And I was downstairs. And I heard noises upstairs. And so I grabbed the gun and I took it upstairs. And by the time I got upstairs, he was passed out on the couch. And I set the gun -- there was a ledge behind the couch, and I set the gun on the ledge. And I closed my eyes and I pulled the trigger. I didn't care. I just didn't care.

GRACE: You say you closed your eyes, you pulled the trigger, you didn't care. But your dad woke up and begged you to call the police.

S. LANNERT: Right.

GRACE: And you didn't call the police. S. LANNERT: I tried to. I tried to. I searched the house for the phone. But because of the altercation earlier, he had ripped all the phones out of the wall and hid them somewhere in his room and I couldn't get to them.

GRACE: So instead of calling anyone, you shot him again point blank?

S. LANNERT: Not right away. It wasn't point blank, and it wasn't right away. As I was looking for the phone, it had kind of hit me what had happened, that I had done this. And that maybe I was -- I was wrong.

And he started yelling. He got very, very angry. He was still drunk. He was in a drunken stupor. And he started calling me all kinds of names. And Christy all kinds of names, and being threatening. Wait until I get up off this couch.

GRACE: Because he was just shot in the shoulder?

S. LANNERT: He thought he had broke his own shoulder. He had no idea he was shot. He thought he had broken his collarbone, and he thought he did it by himself by rolling over. That's how drunk he was.

GRACE: And so instead of calling for help, you shot him again?

S. LANNERT: I did.

GRACE: In the head?

S. LANNERT: I don't -- yes, I guess it was. Everything's really, really blurry.

GRACE: I know. But then at trial, the jury heard your story of abuse. They heard the whole thing. What went wrong?

S. LANNERT: I wasn't able to really talk about it. The prosecution just had painted this picture of monetary gain from me. And believed it.

GRACE: Because your dad had a CD worth $100,000?

S. LANNERT: I suppose. I suppose.

GRACE: You know, that is a lot of money.

S. LANNERT: It is. But it's not worth...

GRACE: But they heard your story of abuse.

S. LANNERT: No, they did not hear it. And instead of receiving help, I was taken immediately from that night and put in a jail cell and medicated. I was never given any kind of treatment. I was never asked -- I never had anybody that cared about me. Never, never had anybody that cared about me to say, what did you go through? Can I help you? It's okay. It's not your fault.

GRACE: You've been behind bars how long?

S. LANNERT: 13 years.

GRACE: Stacey, when you heard that guilty verdict do you remember the moment?

S. LANNERT: Yes, I do.

GRACE: What was that like?

S. LANNERT: I wish they would have just given me the death penalty, because that's what they gave me just a very slow one.

GRACE: When you think about you're life, your 31 now right, how do you deal with that every morning when you get up?

S. LANNERT: Well, I just hope everyone is different from the one before. And that's all I really can do. And now I know there are people who are behind me and who believe me and support me and that makes all the difference. I never had that before.

GRACE: Your last hope is clemency is from the governor. Do you think it's possible?

S. LANNERT: I think anything is possible.


KING: Is anything possible for Stacey Lannert? We'll ask the prosecutor who put her in prison. The lawyer who is trying to get her out. And Stacey's younger sister Christy.

Nancy Grace joins us too when LARRY KING LIVE returns.


KING: Ellen Flotman is Stacey Lannert's attorney.

Where does it stand now?

Are you asking for a pardon?

FLOTMAN: Pardon or clemency. We've asked for a commutation to straight life which would give Stacey a chance for parole after 15 years. She's done 13 right now.

KING: Any word from the governor?

FLOTMAN: Whenever we call them, they say it's pending. And that's the most we can get out of them.

KING: Christy, the story that Stacey just told, true?

C. LANNERT: Yes. KING: Did your father abuse you?

C. LANNERT: He raped me one time.

KING: He did?


KING: And you tried to have him killed, right?


KING: Didn't you?

Did you plead guilty to conspiring?

C. LANNERT: I pled guilty. But I didn't...

KING: Why did you plead guilty?

C. LANNERT: Well, Stacey and I had talked about it because I was with her at the same place. And she said, you know, it's too big of a risk if I went to trial. And it just seemed like the easiest way to get out.

KING: Nothing ever happened with that? I mean, you pled and they dropped the charges?

C. LANNERT: No, I did. I served -- I got a five-year sentence and I served about two and a half of it.

KING: As an accessory to the murder?

C. LANNERT: Conspiracy to commit murder.

KING: And you pled that why since you didn't shoot and you didn't plan the shooting, did you or did you?

C. LANNERT: No, I didn't.

KING: Why did you plead?

C. LANNERT: Why did I plead?

Well, I talked to Stacey about it, and she and I agreed that it would probably be the best thing to do, instead of taking it to trial.

KING: Bob McCullough, the prosecutor, why don't you believe Stacey?

MCCULLOUGH: Well, Larry, I have to tell you, she tells a very compelling story, from what I just saw. The problem is, it's not true. And much of what she said tonight is the first time we've ever heard that. She tends to add a great deal to her story every time she tells it, wherever she happens to tell it. And I have to say, none of that was mentioned at the trial. She sat in front of the jury, she had every opportunity. She tried the -- to tell you that her lawyers never asked her about it. That's just nonsense. That was the only discussion we had with her lawyers was about the sexual abuse and whether it had existed or not. So the problem is she creates this and each story that she tells, in of it's self is compelling. But when you put them together over a period of 13 years that it's clear that she makes it up.

KING: Nancy you were prosecutor and your often prosecution oriented.

GRACE: That's right Larry.

KING: What do you make of this?

GRACE: Larry, I read every single line of the defense case. I analyzed it, I studied it, and I went to Missouri in my mind, believing she had made the whole thing up. That her father had been shot because she was a cruel vindictive daughter. I couldn't understand it. And she didn't tell her story at trial. As the prosecutor said. But Larry, having dealt with a lot, a lot of child molestation victims, sometimes, Larry, they can hardly speak. And unless this girl had been worked with a counselor, had been explained that she could tell what happened, she may very well clam up on the stand. And I've got to tell you, when I walked out of that facility, I felt bad inside, that she was still there.

KING: So, you think she's telling the truth?

GRACE: I do, Larry. I think she's telling the truth.

KING: Christy, did you testify at your trial?

C. LANNERT: I didn't have a trial.

KING: You didn't have a trial. You just pled to it.

C. LANNERT: Right.

KING: Did you tell the officers you were raped?

C. LANNERT: No, I didn't.

KING: Why not?

C. LANNERT: I just couldn't talk about it. I didn't tell anybody until last year.

KING: You just have said it?

C. LANNERT: Right.

KING: How old were you when you were raped?

C. LANNERT: I was 15.

KING: Ellen, why is Bob McCullough wrong? FLOTMAN: Stacey has told more and more details over the years. She has not ever said anything that's been inconsistent. I've represented her for 10 years now. And it's taken her until the last five years to be able to tell this at all. She has added more detail. Nothing has changed. She is telling the same story over and over.

KING: Bob McCullough, why would she kill her father?

MCCULLOUGH: Well, she killed her father for the money. What's been left out of all this is that her father had a pretty sizable estate. He had inherited a significant amount. An estate worth almost half a million dollars. What Stacey hasn't mentioned to you is that when she came back from Guam, she went on this spending spree. And in the period from about the middle of June until the 4th of July, 3rd of July when she killed him, she spent about 5,000 bucks. In addition to trying to hire people to kill her father and planning it out with Christy and with other people. Though she expect it in cash. She would forged his name. She had taken check books. And we have the checkbook where she was practicing writing his name on the checks. She rigged a scheme where the check cashing place would call a friend of hers and he would act like her father and he cashed the check.

One thing, Larry, let me point out. She adds things to each incident, but she also adds incidents when she's talking about this. This rape of Christy, what she left out of that was, they just didn't go down to the fair and watch the fireworks after that. Before that they went out to a restaurant. Christy, Stacey and two other kids, had a nice dinner, in a nice restaurant, on their father on the credit card. There's nobody around. I mean, nobody's talking about how traumatized anybody is. There were four kids having a fine time going down to the fair.

KING: Christy, when were you raped?

C. LANNERT: It was the day he was talking about. That night that she shot him.

KING: That was the same day, the night she shot him?


KING: How do you respond to what Bob said?

C. LANNERT: He wasn't there. He doesn't know. And I think he's making stuff up too.

KING: You think he's making up about the checks and the...

C. LANNERT: Well, something about $5,000, I don't see where he gets that.

MCCULLOUGH: We have all of the checks. We have all of the credit cards.

GRACE: The prosecutor is not lying. Bob McCullough is not lying. She did forge checks. She did do all that. But that doesn't mean she wasn't molested.

KING: Bob, you know you could do all those things and still be molested right?

MCCULLOUGH: Sure. Sure. I mean, they could. But there's absolutely no evidence, no indication of any of that. And all of the credible evidence, and keep in mind, she had every opportunity at trial to tell her entire story. She had two psychiatrists or a psychologist, I don't recall what the exact title was, who examined her and testified. She had been branded a liar by her own mother, talking to various psychiatrists, as she was -- or people as she was growing up, including this psychiatrist. She's a very, very accomplished liar when it comes to this. And I have to tell you, she is very convincing.

KING: Ellen.

FLOTMAN: The psychologist who examined her before trial believed she was molested. All three psychologists who had examined her since trial had believed she was molested.

MCCULLOUGH: The psychiatrist who examined her thinks she was malingering and making all this up.

FLOTMAN: No, I read that report just this week. I read that report just this week, and he said she was molested.


MCCULLOUGH: The psychiatrist that they hired, took it as a given, assumed it was true. There's a huge difference.

FLOTMAN: Dr. Armor (ph) was hired by the state, and he says she was molested.

MCCULLOUGH: Marilyn Hutchinson, (ph) gave her book prior to examining and talking to her, with all of the symptoms in that book. Read this book. Cure her on the way to healing or some nonsense. She reads that and studies it, and then believe it or not, regurgitates all of the symptoms in that book back to Hutchinson.

FLOTMAN: Yes, she's been very well trained. Isn't that amazing that she can recite this book for the last 13 years that she knows exactly -- sure she's very good at that.

KING: Let me get a break and come back with more on this fascinating case. We'll be right back.


S. LANNERT: He took a little of the marshmallow cream and placed it on his finger and told me to lick it off. And I did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Off of his finger?

S. LANNERT: Off his finger. And eventually he moved it to another area. He moved it to -- he moved it farther down.


S. LANNERT: To his penis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he had you lick it off and ultimately that turned into oral sex right.

S. LANNERT: That's how he got me to do, that he would keep placing it on there.


S. LANNERT: Continuously. And if it came off I would stop. And then he would put more on. So it was more a game.




S. LANNERT: So I ran from him. And I tried to lock him out. And ...

GRACE: Lock him out of what?

S. LANNERT: I was in a bathroom area. And it had two doors. And he was at this door, and I tried to run through this door and run upstairs. And he wound up catching me right in front of the wood burning stove. And he threw me on the ground and he raped me.


KING: Christy, you were there. You were raped. Why didn't you testify at your sister's trial?

C. LANNERT: Her defense attorney didn't ask me to.

KING: Do you have any idea why, Ellen?

FLOTMAN: I sure don't. There's a lot of things -- I been defending this case, if I had been defending this case, I would have done differently. It's hard to second-guess him. The girls were neither one were ready to talk about it. I'm doubt that they give him details to work with and I don't think he asked them.

KING: You think -- because she would have -- based on this now, she would have been a credible witness, right?

GRACE: Larry, yes. If the jury had heard, not only Stacey's story, but her sister's story as to the molestation, yes, they would have believed it.

Larry, the details Stacey Lannert gives -- there's no way the prosecution could have known. We can't shoot them in the foot. The details is what tells me she's telling the truth. The beer breath, the marshmallow cream, the whole story. You can't make that up.

KING: Bob, are there ever times that you doubted yourself?

MCCULLOUGH: On this case?

KING: Yes.

MCCULLOUGH: No, none at all.

KING: None at all?

MCCULLOUGH: No. What you have to look is -- she does, they said, tells a convincing story as you're sitting in Vandalia talking to her. And let it run from start to finish. But when you compare that to previous interviews that she's had on other networks, on other shows, statements that she's given, and you can see the progression with that. Compare that with what she told the police, what Christy told -- excuse me -- the police. Christy wrote out a statement saying, Look, Stacey came back to me before they found the body and said, Don't tell them about the money I've been spending. Tell them we went back to get the dog. The nonsense about going back to get the dog was just that -- they made that up. Or Stacey made it up to go back into house and shoot him.

KING: Christy, you're saying no to that, right?

C. LANNERT: That's not true.

MCCULLOUGH: I have her handwritten statement right here.

C. LANNERT: The whole statement is not even true.

KING: You mean you lied in the statement?

C. LANNERT: Yes, I did.

KING: Why?

C. LANNERT: Because I didn't want to tell the real truth.

KING: Nancy, you would have prosecuted this case, wouldn't you?

GRACE: You're darn right I would have prosecuted it. And I agree with the prosecutor with what he knew at the time. But what I'm saying is, all that's done. All that's over. Now there is a chance to reassess.

KING: You're saying she shouldn't be in jail time?

GRACE: I'm saying that this needs to be reassessed. That I think that she was molested. And I'm concerned -- and I think the prosecutor is right, that the sister and Stacey did lie at the time. But you know what? They were juveniles, Larry. That happens. My question is, was she raped?

KING: Christy, you eventually got 90 -- you eventually $90,000, right?

C. LANNERT: Yes, I did.

KING: Yes. And where's your mom now?

C. LANNERT: She lives in Illinois.

KING: And what does she make of all this?

C. LANNERT: What does she make of all this?

KING: Yes.

C. LANNERT: She wants Stacey to come home.

KING: Does she visit Stacey?

C. LANNERT: Yes, she does.

KING: Are you close with her?

C. LANNERT: Not really.


GRACE: She let it happen. She let the rape happen.

KING: Ellen, what are the prospects, do you think?

FLOTMAN: I don't know, Larry. We've...

KING: The prosecutor...

FLOTMAN: We've had this clemency petition pending for five years now. We're on our third governor. We're not giving up. Nothing has -- nothing changed. If I'm still representing Stacey 10 years from now, I will be, and still fighting to get her out of prison.

I believe her. The police officer who arrested her believes her. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals believes her.

MCCULLOUGH: The 8th Circuit Court affirmed her conviction and said everything was done properly.

FLOTMAN: Did you read the opinions?

MCCULLOUGH: I read it this afternoon...

FLOTMAN: Did you read that opinion?

MCCULLOUGH: a matter of fact.

FLOTMAN: It says we believe she was molested. And legally under the state of the law, we can't do anything about it, because of the way...


MCCULLOUGH: It says, even if she was molested, the law is proper. It was not self-defense. You know, it's not self-defense -- whatever Stacey wants to tell you...


GRACE: Yes, it wasn't self-defense, he was right. The guy was asleep on the sofa at the time.

FLOTMAN: Acutally, if he was -- if she was tried today, she would probably get a self-defense instruction.

MCCULLOUGH: No, she would not.


KING: I tell you what, guys, we have not heard the last of this. We're going to have to do more on it. We're out of time, Bob. We're going to have to do more on this. Thank you for it. Thank Nancy for doing a terrific job. Nancy Grace who went to the prison to interview Stacey. And Christy Lannert, and Ellen Flotman, who continues to press for some sort of release. And the prosecutor, Bob McCullough, who's also president of the National District Attorney's Association.

I'll be back to tell you about tomorrow night right after this.


KING: Tomorrow night, Dr. James Dobson returns on matters dealing with morality.


Murdering Her Father>

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