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California Woman Charged With Poisoning Marine Corps Husband
Aired December 20, 2005 - 20:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NANCY GRACE, HOST: Tonight: A Marine who served our country falls sick, dies, is cremated and laid to rest, but not in peace. After his wife marched straight out after the funeral for breast enlargement and adopted an on-line dating name foxontherun07, a murder investigation started. And also tonight: Two women seemingly commit suicide 14 long years apart, nothing in common, but mode of death, single gunshot to the head, .38- caliber, and a man. He dated one, married the other. Did a prominent dentist commit double murder 14 years apart?
Good evening, everybody. I`m Nancy Grace. I want to thank you for being with us. Tonight: Prominent dentist Barton Corbin, his wife, Jennifer, and girlfriend Dorothy "Dolly" Hearn -- did they both commit suicide? Fourteen years later, police and family ask, Suicide or murder?
But first tonight: Twenty-three-year-old Marine Todd Sommer dies of a heart attack (ph), or did he? Was the perfect military wife the perfect killer?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of these factors look bad. She went out and had a breast augmentation done, which isn`t really the part of a grieving widow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Oh, I think that could be a little sexist! Let`s go straight out to John Cote, reporter with "The Sun Sentinel." You got to have more than a breast enlargement, John. Sorry, that`s not enough to make a murder case.
JOHN COTE, "SUN SENTINEL": That may be, Nancy. Prosecutors also feel they have some other suspicious activity on the part of Cynthia Sommer, who is Todd Sommer`s wife. They pointed to several things in court documents that they filed. One...
GRACE: What? What? What? Where`s the beef?
COTE: The primary thing is the $250,000 life insurance policy that...
COTE: ... had been taken out about eight months before Sergeant Sommer died, and the sole beneficiary...
GRACE: Who took it out? Who took it out, John?
COTE: He did.
GRACE: He took it out. Sole beneficiary is?
COTE: Is his wife.
GRACE: OK. Go ahead.
COTE: A $250,000 lump sum payment.
GRACE: Whew! OK. Anything else?
COTE: Well, the other element is that some family friends contend that Ms. Sommer was not particularly happy in the relationship at that point in time, that Sergeant Sommer was strict, didn`t let her go out and party with her friends, and that she was essentially unhappy.
GRACE: Well, you know, weren`t they in quite a bit of debt? And wouldn`t you say, John -- let me throw this to Pat Lalama, investigative reporter on the case. Pat, wouldn`t you think that a little thing called arsenic plays in their determination?
PAT LALAMA, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: This -- this is the ultimate "Desperate Housewife," Nancy. Come on! They should have written a show about this woman, if what cops believe about her is true. She allegedly had this plan to just off the guy, according to cops, allegedly, because she had four kids, didn`t like the lifestyle, wanted to be glitz and glam. I think her motto on her gravestone when she dies will be, Breasts, not bombs. You know, her whole thing was to go out and live this really crazy, wild life. Right after the guy dies, she`s having parties. She`s showing other Marines her taped-up breasts. She`s just gotten them done. She mentioned to someone when she was once investigated for child neglect, Hey, I`ve got...
GRACE: Pat Lalama -- Pat Lalama, I`m a little surprised at you. There you are in LA, where everybody is tall and skinny and blond with breast enlargements, OK? And you`re telling me...
LALAMA: Not me, Nancy!
GRACE: ... that`s a clue to a murder? Uh-uh! No!
LALAMA: I`m telling you it`s the quintessential California story. Yes, it is. But there was -- I mean, there`s a little bit of psychology behind this. This is -- you know, I don`t want to label here with any kind of psychological problem here, but it sounds to me like she found no other escape to get out of this dead life she was living and wanted to be Miss Glitz and Glam, now lives with another former Marine in Florida. I mean, she...
GRACE: Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!
LALAMA: ... was on the run...
GRACE: Where did he come from?
LALAMA: He -- out of the woodwork, as far as...
GRACE: Let me guess. Her husband`s best friend.
LALAMA: You know, I can`t...
GRACE: ... surprise me. Somebody surprise me. Would it be someone other than the best friend? Hey, let`s take a look at the timeline, the timeline leading to Cynthia Sommer`s arrest. Early Feb, 2002, Cynthia joins -- Cynthia Sommer joins Internet dating service. All right, her and about 10 million other people! Feb 8, 2002, Todd Sommer suddenly begins having symptoms of arsenic poisoning. Cynthia Sommer visits plastic surgeon, at the same time when her husband is deathly ill, about her breasts. Feb 18, 2002, Sommer dies. Three months later, Sommer has breast surgery after getting -- cha-ching! -- $250,000 life insurance policy and immediately launches a relationship with Marine Ross Ritter. October, 2005, medical -- hey, you left out the cremation, people! Medical examiner concludes Todd Sommer dies from acute arsenic poisoning. November 30, Cynthia Sommer detained for Todd`s death.
I want to go straight out to medical examiner Dr. Warner Spitz. Explain to us -- this guy was cremated, but apparently, the Marines held back some of his tissue? Why?
DR. WARNER SPITZ, MEDICAL EXAMINER: Well, you can do an analysis for arsenic on no matter what organ that was kept in a solution just in case microscopic examination would be needed. So the diagnosis is now unquestioned.
GRACE: Well, let`s go to John Cote with "The Sun Sentinel." I understand he was cremated. Then how did the military have tissue left over?
COTE: Oh, well, actually, that`s one of the elements in this case that could work in Cynthia Sommer`s favor. She signed a release that allowed military personnel to keep some of the tissue and some of the samples prior to cremation.
GRACE: Let`s go to Hillah Katz, defense attorney in Miami, Florida, near the same jurisdiction. She`s fighting extradition right now. Hillah, take a listen to what the defense attorney has to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We decided to fight extradition, which means we`re not waiving it and fighting the reasons that she should be brought to California.
She`s very distraught. She doesn`t understand how this is all coming about. She`s very upset. She hasn`t been able to see her children since she was arrested last week. She`s very concerned about them, as well as her -- her future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Hillah Katz, how does extradition work in the Florida jurisdiction?
HILLAH KATZ, TRIAL ATTORNEY: Well, extradition works here is that you can petition the court and fight being brought -- in this case, she`s being fought to -- being -- she`s fighting to be brought to San Diego. And what the defense attorney`s doing is he`s arguing for more information. He wants to prove, How do we know he was poisoned? What says it`s a level of arsenic? Why did Cynthia Sommer all of a sudden, three years later, become a suspect?
And it`s actually a great defense tactic because even before charges are filed, this defense attorney here in Florida is attempting to get, for what will be her defense attorney in California, as much information preliminarily about the case as he can in order to start formulating their defense.
GRACE: To psychotherapist Dr. Leslie Austin. Where do the children fit in? She`s got four kids. I don`t know who has the kids tonight.
LESLIE AUSTIN, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: I don`t know who has the children, either, but certainly, this has got to be very damaging for them. I hope they`re with some people who are shielding them from some of the publicity about this case. It`s got to have a devastating effect on them. And there were reports that she was perhaps not the best mother. There were some allegations of abuse and...
GRACE: Yes, you`re right, 2003...
AUSTIN: ... an investigation...
GRACE: ... child abuse charges, 2001, child abuse investigation, no formal charges.
AUSTIN: So it`s possible that it was a very unstable home anyway, and this is just going to have a devastating...
AUSTIN: ... effect on them.
GRACE: Well, remember, everybody, she got $250,000 life insurance policy. To me, that`s a chunk of money. A lot of people don`t think so. But remember, her job was working at a Subway sandwich shop.
Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JODI SANBORN, CYNTHIA SOMMER`S FORMER BOSS: She was a happy-go-lucky person back then. She was a little -- I mean, a little wild, a wild girl, after her husband died.
She got breast implants and spent money, and she got a new stereo system put in her car, went to Vegas with friends and spent all kinds of money there. I mean, basically, I heard all the money that she had gotten was gone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Defense attorney Stacey Richman, I guess, you know, in the grieving mode, you got to have a car stereo that`s worth a darn. I mean, you can`t grieve to AM-FM radio. Forget about it. And you got to go to Vegas to work through the grief, right?
STACEY RICHMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Everybody has their very special ways of grieving. I can`t say...
GRACE: And that is special.
RICHMAN: ... special. Some people need to just blow off a little steam, and I guess he needed to do it in Vegas. It doesn`t help the defense case that she was...
GRACE: Darn right!
GRACE: You`re darn right! Hey, let`s just take a look at the hard numbers, everybody. Ellie (ph), let`s talk about the money.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
GRACE: $250,000 -- I`ve got -- do we have a graph of this, Rosie (ph) -- $250,587. Oh, we`re doing it the old-fashioned way. There you go, Dean (ph) -- $250,587 in life insurance. All right. Death gratuity -- what is that, John Cote?
COTE: She was also getting a monthly stipend of about $1,800 from the military, which also...
GRACE: Now, I`ve got "death gratuity" plus this thing you`re talking about, $1,800.
COTE: Right. There was also a one-time $6,000 payment, which was the...
COTE: ... death gratuity.
GRACE: That certainly beats a stick in the eye! OK. So the total...
COTE: It does.
GRACE: What do we have, Dean, $250,000, $6,000, $1,870 -- you got $258,458.41. Cha-ching! Minus $5,400 breast augmentation. Oh -- oh, yes, and then there`s the $60 to the erotic Web site. Got to have that to get through the grieving process. Total, $253,000 plus the $1,871 a month. All right!
Stacey Richman, how are you going to hide that at trial, defense attorney?
RICHMAN: Well, she didn`t take out the policy. These are things that she was entitled to, as the wife of the guy that died. She`s a military wife. These are things that come to her. He took out the policy, not her. I mean, another suspect is, what about this guy? Who`s he?
GRACE: You know what? You`re right. Let`s just throw out all the money evidence.
To Dr. Warner Spitz, medical examiner -- when you look at human tissue under a microscope, how do you tell that someone has had intense arsenic poisoning? And describe the mode of death. How do you die...
SPITZ: No, you don`t...
GRACE: ... when you get poisoned?
SPITZ: You don`t see arsenic. Arsenic has to be analyzed in a laboratory chemically, and that`s how you find it. How you die from arsenic -- arsenic kills cells. Arsenic kills cells in the kidney. People die of kidney failure. People die of other complications, from the fact that the arsenic killed liver cells and lung cells and other cells.
GRACE: And I think probably, Pat Lalama, that`s the number one clue for investigators. You don`t expect a 23-year-old man in peak physical condition -- he`s a Marine, for Pete`s sake -- to die suddenly of gastroenteritis.
LALAMA: Well, not only that, but let`s remember that I believe the findings were that it was 1,000 times what would be considered normal. Now, this guy didn`t go for the Budweiser and accidentally end up with a bottle of arsenic. It doesn`t work that way. He died in his home.
And Nancy, let`s not forget, if it can be proved that she did this for financial gain, death penalty-eligible. That`s a real interesting aspect here not to forget.
GRACE: So she may be spending time with Tookie Williams!
LALAMA: Absolutely! What a great couple!
GRACE: Unless somebody like a Stacey Richman or a Hillah Katz nominate her for the Nobel Prize.
Very quickly, everybody, here in New York City, subways, buses grind a halt. It`s the nation`s largest city. Millions car-pooled. They hailed cabs. They used in-line skates, bicycles, and of course, thousands took the "pat and turner (ph)" -- that`s right, pat the street and turn the corner to get to work. A judge just ruled the transport workers union in contempt against them, and (INAUDIBLE) for going on strike, he has ordered the union pay $1 million a day starting today. The transport union (INAUDIBLE) walk-out violates the Taylor Act. Now, the Taylor Act is a state law barring strikes by public employees. The president of the transit authority is threatening legal action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prosecutors say 32-year-old Cynthia Sommer did it for the money, poisoning her husband with arsenic. Twenty-three-year- old Sergeant Todd Sommer died on the morning of February 18, 2002, inside the couple`s home on the Miramar base.
SANBORN: She was a happy-go-lucky person back then.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Welcome back, everybody. A man who served our country, just 23 years old, a U.S. Marine, died in one of the most painful manners known. He died by poisoning. The hospital thought he had an acute case of gastroenteritis. Now seems like he`s got acute case of intent, arsenic poisoning. His wife now suspected in the crime. She is fighting extradition.
Very quickly, to Hillah Katz. Hillah, in my jurisdictions where I practiced, extradition is a very simple matter. You`re brought in in handcuffs. The judge says, Is this you? Are you Hillah Katz? Is the murder a crime in your jurisdiction? And it`s a very simple open-and-shut matter. So what`s the big fight?
KATZ: Right. It could be that open and shut, but there`s -- they`re fighting it tooth -- multiple things need to be proven, that not only is she the person that the -- San Diego or in the county in California wants, but in fact, she`s correctly charged with this crime. So it`s just a certain amount of -- there`s only a base amount of legal documents that need to -- need be filed in order for a court to order jurisdiction. But his lawyer is vigorously filing that -- or vigorously asking for the state of California to supplement every single one of those pieces of paper...
GRACE: Well, you know what?
KATZ: ... with more and more pieces of evidence.
GRACE: I`d say, Fine, let her wait. Pat Lalama, let her cool her heels. She`s behind bars. Just as long as she`s nowhere near a medicine cabinet and a man, OK?
GRACE: Here`s what the new boyfriend has to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED: In a phone interview with News 8, Sommer`s boyfriend, Ross Ritter, read us a letter written by Cynthia Sommer in jail. In it, she writes, "Todd and I had a very good marriage. We would have been married forever. After he died, I wanted so much to replace that void."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: I`m sure the prosecution is very grateful to the new boyfriend for releasing that. That`s what Sommer`s boyfriend, Marine Ross Ritter, told CNN affiliate KFBM (ph) in San Diego.
Hey, Pat Lalama, aside from the medical findings -- oh, very quickly, Dr. Spitz, you say you can`t see it with the eye, but what kind of test are run on human tissue to determine poisoning? I mean, what -- what do you actually learn, as a medical examiner, when you test the tissue?
SPITZ: Well, you test the amounts. You test the amount of poison that`s in the tissue. And you have to remember that as much as one tenth of one gram is a minimum lethal dose. So one gram is -- there`s 30 grams in one ounce.
SPITZ: So you can see how little the amount is.
GRACE: OK, well, in this...
SPITZ: Also, remember...
GRACE: In this one, Doctor, his arsenic level was 1,020 times above normal.
SPITZ: Well, yes. That`s a huge amount. Remember, please, that these professional poisoners that we see sometimes in the movies, or we read about in the Middle Ages and subsequently, used -- mostly used arsenic. Napoleon is supposed to have been killed with arsenic. Arsenic is a very dangerous substance because it`s colorless, it`s odorless, it`s tasteless. And it`s easy to use.
GRACE: You know, Pat Lalama, according to my calculations, she was $23,000 in debt, including credit card debt, at the time of his death. She had to pay $867 on the deficit every month, just to meet all the minimum payments. You`re not making that at a Subway sandwich shop, OK? I used to work at a sandwich shop. I know.
LALAMA: Well, clearly, there`s an issue here with how she saw life and her champagne tastes and her so-called beer pocketbook. We know her Marine husband wasn`t raking in lots of dough...
GRACE: Thank you, Robin Leach!
LALAMA: ... while he was serving his country. And so, you know, it seems to me it kind of fits that pattern as this "Desperate Housewife." She was getting deeper and deeper into this trap of wanting to be seen as something she wasn`t. And allegedly, this was her only way out. You know, her defense team will probably argue that it had something to do with his military training, that he inhaled -- ingested some sort of toxic something-or-other from the Pacific Ocean. I can just hear it now. As California defenses go, I`ve heard enough of them. But I mean, in this case, if you put it all together, it just seems she wanted to claw her way out of a life she refused to live! Unfortunately, it seems she allegedly left four young children without a father.
GRACE: We invited the defense on tonight. They did not want to answer specific questions about the defense they plan to mount.
Tonight`s "Case Alert" we have just gotten in. Twenty-four-year-old Nathanael Philip Hendrickson -- Nate -- has not been seen since he left his home November 30, last seen in a Teal 2000 Nissan Sentra, Texas license plate L76DKL. Spring Valley police say the University of Houston downtown student left behind his wallet and his credit cards. If you have info on this young man, please help us. Call the Spring Valley police, 713-465- 8323.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The evidence in this case is circumstantial evidence, and that means that nobody saw her put arsenic in his food or in his drink.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We decided to fight extradition, which means we`re not waiving it, and fighting the reasons that she should be brought to California.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Dr. Warner Spitz, does arsenic have any taste to it?
SPITZ: No. Arsenic has very little taste, if any, maybe a little metallic taste, but that`s about it.
GRACE: Doesn`t it smell like almond?
SPITZ: No, that`s cyanide that...
GRACE: Oh, yes.
SPITZ: ... tastes like almond.
GRACE: Thank you. Thank you. So he very well may not have had any idea he was ingesting anything unusual.
SPITZ: That`s correct.
GRACE: Hey, Ellie, Dean, let`s go through the money again. Ellie, lead it off, friend.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. So we`ve got the life insurance payment, $250,587.41, a death gratuity of $6,000, $1,871 monthly from the Veterans Administration. Then you got to subtract $5,400 for breast augmentation, and then the $64.95 she paid to register with the adult dating Web site.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve got $253,041.46.
GRACE: OK, Stacey Richman, I guess you`re going to argue that`s not a motive for murder, right?
RICHMAN: No, that`s not a reason in and of itself. Again, she didn`t take out the policy. Maybe she -- you know, she spent whatever she spent, but she didn`t take out that policy. There`s nothing connecting her to the arsenic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fourteen years after the death of his former girlfriend, Dorothy Hearn, Dr. Corbin is charged with murder. The Augusta case was reopened recently, after the death of Dr. Corbin`s wife. Thirty- three-year-old Jennifer Corbin was found shot to death December 4th in her Gwinnett County home. Investigators say the couple had plans to divorce.
In a Richmond County case, a similar scenario back in 1990. Investigators say Corbin and Hearn had been dating for about a year before they broke up.
HEATHER TIERNEY, JEN CORBIN`S SISTER: It was by far the worst day of my life. We got a phone call that morning. And the minute we found out Jennifer was dead, I knew exactly what had happened.
Mr. Corbin`s behavior the week prior to my sister`s death was psychotic. He was acting absolutely crazy. My sister`s son, Dalton, who we have, had told my sister and told me that he was afraid that his dad was going to kill his mom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Welcome back, everybody. Double suicide or double murder, fourteen years apart?
Straight down to Andria Simmons with "Gwinnett Daily Post." For our viewers that are just learning about this case, bring us up-to-date, friend.
ANDRIA SIMMONS, "GWINNETT DAILY POST" WRITER COVERING STORY: OK. Right now, the case is going to be tried in Gwinnett County here in a couple of months. Based on that case, they`re going to take the case to Richmond County and try that one next.
GRACE: The facts, Andria. The facts. The facts surrounding the case.
SIMMONS: Well, the facts are, they have a lot of similarities. And that`s what initially led the prosecutors in Richmond County and Gwinnett County to look at whether or not this might, in fact, be a homicide and not a suicide. And investigators believe that these women were killed at the hands of Barton Corbin. We`ll see whether that`s true or not when we get to trial.
GRACE: OK, you know what? Let`s talk about the facts surrounding the case. Put it up, Rosie, please.
Both women had attempted to end relationships with the dentist. Both shot one time in the head. Although I don`t know it, I guarantee you they were shot on the same side of the head. Shot, both of them, with a 38- caliber revolver. Both had reported alleged harassment by the dentist. Both shot at their homes. Both found by an inhabitant of the home, one a roommate, the other a little child. And according to investigators, both crime scenes appeared to have been staged, staged.
Now, I want to go to a veteran defense attorney, that I did a little bit of legal battle with myself, ah, yes, it`s David Wolfe. He has popped up defending the dentist.
David Wolfe, did you hear that sound bite where your client is described as psychotic? I guess you won`t be putting him on the stand, huh?
DAVID WOLFE, BARTON CORBIN`S ATTORNEY: Well, I`d like to get her on the stand for cross-examination...
GRACE: Well, call her, then. Call her as a hostile witness. Nobody`s stopping you.
WOLFE: I`m sure the state will put her up. We`ll have the opportunity to call her if they don`t. You look ravishing in purple, by the way.
GRACE: Don`t even start. It didn`t work for ten years at trial. It`s not going to work tonight.
Just tell me your defense. And I understand, everybody, David Wolfe is under gag order in one of these cases, all right, the one in Gwinnett, the most murder -- oh, I`m sorry, suicide. So tell me your defense.
WOLFE: Well, when you say "tell you our defense," every forensic pathologist that`s looked at all of the evidence in these cases has said that there`s nothing inconsistent with suicide in either case. I don`t know where the facts came from that you listed in the intro there just a moment ago, but I don`t think that it`s anything that`s going to be proven...
GRACE: They weren`t shot with a...
WOLFE: I don`t think anything that`s going to be proven during the trial of the cases.
GRACE: OK. Well, let me ask you this, David...
GRACE: Weren`t they both romantically linked to your client?
WOLFE: Well, yes.
WOLFE: He was married to Ms. Corbin, and the idea that...
GRACE: ... if this cross, you don`t have to explain yourself, OK? They were both romantically linked. They were both shot, one single bullet to the head, right?
WOLFE: Most suicides by gunshot wounds are single gunshots to the head.
GRACE: You`re right about that.
WOLFE: There have been tens of thousands of women that commit suicide every year in this country.
GRACE: Now, hold on. Yes, they commit suicide...
WOLFE: It`s consistent forensically...
GRACE: ... in this country, David, but for a...
WOLFE: It`s consistent forensically.
GRACE: But for a white female in this age category, the likelihood that she is going to be found in her pajamas in bed with a gunshot wound to the head is very, very low, according to statistics, David.
WOLFE: Well, if those are the statistics, then I guess that`s helpful to me in the Augusta case, with Dolly Hearn, right?
GRACE: I don`t know. I don`t think it would help you at all.
WOLFE: Well, you just said most of them aren`t, most of them aren`t. Dolly Hearn wasn`t.
GRACE: I don`t think it would help you at all that the likelihood is that they did not commit suicide.
WOLFE: No, no, no. You know the forensic pathologists that have viewed all of the physical evidence from both, from both of these suicides, have indicated that there is nothing inconsistent with suicide. And it`s abundantly clear that both cases are circumstantially proven by...
GRACE: You know what, David?
WOLFE: ... by the state. But let me tell you one other thing...
GRACE: See, that`s how you win cases. You`re like a snake-charmer. Isn`t it true that, in one of the cases, the gun was found under the sheet?
WOLFE: Actually, not according to the photographs. But let me share one thing with you. We did motions the other day down in Augusta. And I did my motion to dismiss the indictment for pre-arrest delay. And the district attorney down there himself said that, but for the Gwinnett County case, we didn`t have probable cause to indict in Richmond County.
GRACE: So should we just pretend the other murder didn`t happen?
WOLFE: You`re saying -- suicides.
GRACE: You want to give him a gold star for getting away with the first one, being on the lam for 14 years?
WOLFE: "On the lam"?
WOLFE: He was living in Georgia. He was living in his home.
GRACE: Being free. Oh, that reminds me of something. Your guy says at the time of the second murder that he was with his brother. What about those pesky cell phone records that claim he was closer to the home?
WOLFE: Well, my understand is that one of your guests last evening shared some information with you. As soon as the state decides to share whatever information they`re talking about with us, I`ll be able to answer your questions.
GRACE: Well, you can get that on your own, David. It`s your client. He can get his own cell phone records and transmitter records.
WOLFE: Honey, I`ve got the cell phone records.
GRACE: I`ll take that as a compliment.
WOLFE: I have no forensic or scientific evidence...
GRACE: Oh, David...
WOLFE: ... that Dr. Corbin...
GRACE: ... David, David...
WOLFE: ... that Dr. Corbin was at the home. I mean, we`re entitled to it in discovery. You know...
GRACE: "The state isn`t giving me the documents," that`s your defense? Please. Look, I know you better than that. You may argue that in front of a judge, but you`re not going to get in front of a jury and go, "I got my documents late, therefore my guy is innocent."
WOLFE: I don`t know what you`re talking about. Nobody has told us that there is any scientific evidence having to do with cell phone records that reflect that Dr. Corbin was at his home on the night that this incident occurred, the suicide.
GRACE: Here is Dr. Corbin`s sister.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIERNEY: The day that my sister was found, he was supposedly at his brother`s house, Bobby. As far where was Bart when my sister was murdered, I think he said that he was at his brother`s house. However, I believe that there are -- there`s evidence that`s going to prove that to be untrue.
My sister and I have had talks about it. She had called me and told me what Dalton was saying. And I asked her point-blank, I said, "Jennifer," and she said, "Dalton`s saying that he`s afraid Bart`s going to kill me." And I said, "Jennifer, do you think he will?"
And I asked her. And she said, "I don`t think he would, because I don`t think he`d do that to the kids." And I said, "Jennifer, that`s a bad reason."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: David Wolfe, now...
WOLFE: That`s wonderful that she doesn`t think he would. And that`s consistent with her committing suicide. Thank you. Can I get a tape of that?
GRACE: But here`s the other problem. That`s a double-edge sword, David. And you`re a good trial lawyer. But it also includes the fact that the little boy said, "My dad is going to kill my mommy." Now, where would a child have gotten an idea like that?
WOLFE: I have not heard a child say that, and neither has any investigator.
GRACE: Really? So you think the sister is just making it all up?
WOLFE: Yes, I think you`ve got a distraught family that`s upset that they didn`t detect that Jennifer Corbin was in such a state of mind that she would take her own life, so I think they feel guilty about it.
GRACE: According to you, it`s all just one big coinky-dink, a coincidence?
WOLFE: What`s that, that both women committed suicide?
GRACE: That both the women in his life commit suicide in the same manner, in the same locale, found dead by someone in the home, even with the same type of weapon, a 38-caliber?
WOLFE: But wherever you commit suicide, you`re going to be found dead there, whether it`s in their home, or whether it`s in your car, or whether it`s at your place of work. They weren`t in the same place.
GRACE: They were both found in the home, weren`t they?
WOLFE: Well, yes. One was, you just said, in her bedroom with her pajamas on. The other one was sitting on the sofa in the living room.
WOLFE: Wearing her shorts and shirt, the way I understand it. That`s what the photographs reveal.
GRACE: Were the doors locked in both homes?
WOLFE: Well, that`s interesting. As I argued in the motions hearing the other day, the roommate that came home said both doors were locked. She came in and she ran out and said, "Dolly committed suicide," and told investigators in the initial interview that she had been depressed the last two weeks.
GRACE: Are you going to call her as a witness?
WOLFE: The state`s got to call her. They`ve found her.
GRACE: Well, you can call her. You`ve got her...
WOLFE: If they don`t call her, I`ll call her, Nancy.
GRACE: OK. I think I may have to come down there and cover this case live, David Wolfe, and remind you...
WOLFE: That would be our good fortune. That would be our good fortune.
GRACE: We`ll all be right back, everybody.
On another note, we here at NANCY GRACE want very much to help solve unsolved homicides, find missing people. Take a look at 8-year-old Richard Paul Holland, last seen September 8, `97, wearing a gray shirt, red PJs, Williamston, Michigan. If you have info on this little boy, Richard Paul Holland, call the Ingham County sheriff, 517-676-8211, or go online, BeyondMissing.com.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIERNEY: It was an avalanche. It went downhill very fast. My sister wanted a divorce. As her sister and looking out for the kids, we asked if she would be interested in going to see a counselor. She was not interested in doing that. She said that she had no love there anymore.
MAX BARBER, JEN CORBIN`S FATHER: I`ll tell you something else. That`s (INAUDIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: Jennifer Corbin`s father, still looking for justice. He was with us last night. Tonight, we feature the defense attorney in this case. The million-dollar question: Is the prominent dentist guilty of double murder, 14 years apart, or is it just a strange coincidence that two women in his life commit suicide 14 years apart?
Pat Lalama, the state does have a major problem. They`ve got a veteran defense attorney on the other side. Wolfe has tried many, many homicide cases. But what else does the state have in its arsenal?
LALAMA: Well, you know, what it has is just these striking similarities...
GRACE: But what about the affairs? Has anybody noticed that?
LALAMA: Yes, but, now, remember, there are affairs on both sides.
GRACE: I thought one was an Internet affair and the other was, like, the real thing?
LALAMA: Well, that`s a very good question. Now, this is where we all stand on is hanging out on the Internet, professing love and lust, the same thing as cheating? We know that he was having an actual, face-to-face, you know, hand-to-hand, whatever-else affair. She...
GRACE: Oh, believe me. They weren`t just holding hands, Pat.
LALAMA: Well, I`m trying to be nice now, Nancy...
LALAMA: Now, come on...
GRACE: It`s not nice.
LALAMA: OK. No more nice guy. Now, as far as she...
GRACE: Hey, the courtroom is not for the weak-kneed, Pat Lalama.
LALAMA: Don`t I know it. Don`t I know it. Now, she, on the other hand, was having Internet conversations with what she thought was a man named Chris, only to find out weeks later that it was actually a woman and that she was allegedly in love with this woman.
Now get this. This really just -- I don`t know. I want to believe there`s something to this, but I know that there`s no proof. The woman she was allegedly having the Internet relationship with had the name of "Hearn," who is the name of the first victim from 14 years prior, although that family says they`re not related. Now, I just -- that, to me, is just absolutely unbelievable.
GRACE: So, David Wolfe, I guess your client got pretty mad, pretty mad when he finds out his wife, the mother of his child, is having an Internet relationship with another woman? Ouch.
WOLFE: Well, I don`t know that anybody would be pleased about that. But I`m sure you heard about the e-mail that this Internet lover sent to Jennifer Corbin that said, "Why don`t you buy a gun, and put a bullet in it, and spin the chamber, and put it to your head and pull the trigger?"
And she was on the phone with this young woman, whoever it is, for 90 minutes prior to her death there in Gwinnett County.
GRACE: You know what? That is powerful.
Leslie Austin, will a jury buy into that?
AUSTIN: You know, you could just as easily argue that he heard them on the telephone and became angered and shot her.
Look, the statistics of one man having two female life-partners who are died by a single gunshot to the head are very minimal. In both cases, he was accused at one point or another of aggressive behavior, of stalking behavior. In both cases, the relationships were breaking up. And in both cases, there are too many remarkable coincidences for me to feel comfortable just dismissing it and saying, "No relationship at all."
I really do think that there may be a connection here. And it depends on his personality type. I`d love to do a psych interview on him.
GRACE: Well, you know, that`s a good question. David Wolfe, had there ever been any prior domestic abuse in the home?
WOLFE: No, not with Jennifer Corbin, not at all, and not with Dolly Hearn. They had had some disagreements some six months before, in November and December of 1989, but not in 1990.
GRACE: Well, you know, her sister says otherwise. Corbin`s sister says otherwise, told me right here on national TV that there had been domestic problems, violence in the home.
WOLFE: Well, like I said, I can`t wait to get her on cross- examination. You know, just because they say it doesn`t make it so. I`m getting some stickers printed up. I`m going to start putting them on all indictments, that the presumption of innocence is just a theory.
GRACE: Hey, you know what? Save it for the jury.
Take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON CLARK, FORMER HEAD OF HOUSTON FBI: There`s a lot of similarity in the evidence here, Nancy. And I think that`s what`s going to help make this case, is being able to put that similarity together and see how it really compares to the case that occurred some years ago.
BARBER: There are two different cases here on two different dates. I believe that the case in Gwinnett County -- I have a great deal of confidence in Danny Porter -- I think the case is extremely strong. I have seen some of the evidence. I`ve heard a lot of information from both sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: I still say, Pat Lalama, that one of the most damning things is the alibi. This is Trial 101. Alibi is when you place yourself somewhere other than the crime scene. The cell phone records apparently say he was near the home, Pat.
LALAMA: Right, and in both cases. I mean, I think -- I believe, in the second case, there`s even a witness who knows -- wait, let me make sure I got that straight. In one of the cases, there was a witness who saw him at the home.
LALAMA: And so that`s very harmful, very, very harmful.
GRACE: Very quickly to tonight`s "All-Points Bulletin." Law enforcement across the country on the lookout for Hugo Varela, wanted in connection with the 2000 Florida murder of 28-year-old Felipe Ramirez Rodriguez (ph).
Varela, 41, 5`10", 140 pounds, black hair, brown eyes. If you have info on Varela, call the FBI, 904-721-1211.
Local news next for some of you. But we`ll all be right back. And remember, live coverage of the Boston teen subway death lawsuit, 3:00 to 5:00 Eastern, Court TV.
Please stay with us, everyone, as we remember tonight, we remember Army Specialist Joseph Alan Lucas, just 23 years old, old enough to be an American hero.
GRACE: Here at NANCY GRACE, we want to do our part to help the neediest this holiday season, highlighting great charities this week. World Vision, a Christian relief and development organization that is dedicated to helping children around the world tackling poverty. Please remember the neediest along with us this holiday season. If you want to donate, visit their website, WorldVision.org, or toll-free 888-511-6548.
GRACE: Welcome back, everybody. Straight back down to the Atlanta jurisdiction, David Wolfe, defense attorney. Final thought?
WOLFE: I look forward to acquitting Dr. Corbin in Gwinnett County and having this whole thing be over.
GRACE: Beautifully, beautifully put.
And final thought, Pat Lalama?
LALAMA: Oh, boy. I`ll be holding my breath.
GRACE: Holding your breath for?
LALAMA: Well, I think there`s going to be a strong circumstantial case, at the very least, here. I don`t think this man`s going to walk.
GRACE: And, David Wolfe, regarding circumstantial evidence, don`t you believe it can be as strong or stronger than direct evidence?
WOLFE: Can be, but it`s not enough to acquit in Georgia. And you know that. I miss you down here, Nancy.
GRACE: David Wolfe, I will see you in the courtroom, friend. Thank you for being with us.
GRACE: But I want to thank all of our guests tonight. And tonight, like every night, as we head into the holiday season, our biggest thank you here at our show is to you, for being with us tonight and every night, inviting all of us, our staff, our legal stories, into your home.
Coming up, headlines from all around the world. A special good night from guests on the studio. We have Rosie and her friend visiting from the "LARRY KING" set and Esteban (ph) all the way from Japan. Good night, guys.
I`m Nancy Grace signing off for tonight. I hope to see you right here tomorrow night, 8:00 sharp Eastern. Until then, good night, friend.