Dominick Dunne: Power, Privilege & Justice - Mystery in the Mountains   View more episodes

Aired at 03:00 PM on Saturday, May 29, 2010 (5/29/2010)      View all transcripts from this day

Transcript

00:00:00Her as a devoted wife and mother.
00:00:04But up north, rumors were rampant.
00:00:07>> I could sense that some of the folks were taken back a little bitess or her relationship that she had established with rudy manuel, given his reputation.
00:00:17>> There was some bad feelings between the local townspeople and the people from the reservation.
00:00:23..
00:00:27The finger-pointing and the whispering and the gossiping.
00:00:30>> Narrator: With so many enemies but no clear motive, investig cracking the case may depend on the only eyewitness, rudy manuel, who remains in critical condition.
00:00:43>> They didn't know.
00:00:44They didn't know who was the intended victim and who wasn't.
00:00:47>> It was a high-profile case.
00:00:49It was a major event for the community.
00:00:51This isn't the type of community that has a whole lot of violent crimes.
00:00:55It was a whodunit.
00:00:57>> A targeted hit in the middle of all that nature and serenity.
00:01:02How ironic.
00:01:03Before it was solved, this story would have more twists and turns than the snaky mountain road to camp nelson.
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00:03:23>> Narrator: News of bonnie hood's murder sends shock waves through the mountain community of camp nelson.
00:03:29Back home in newport beach, her family is devastated.
00:03:33>> We had a phone call that morning.
00:03:35Minutes later, my dad came in.
00:03:37I'd never seen him cry before.
00:03:38He was just sobbing -- didn't even know what to do.
00:03:42>> I had a nightmare that she had been shot, that she was dead.
00:03:47And I remember waking up from that nightmare to hear my dad crying.
00:03:51And to hear my sister crying.
00:03:54>> Narrator: Everyone wonders, "who could bring terror to the " >> there were a number of theories.
00:04:01It might have been a drug deal.
00:04:03It could have been a robbery.
00:04:04There are all these other sort of normal, usual scenarios that would explain what happened in that bedroom.
00:04:11>> First 24 hours, we didn't know what happened.
00:04:14That was the first time in 35 years I ever locked the house.
00:04:17>> They felt like this place that we had seen as an oasis was violated.
00:04:21Suddenly, there was this huge gash in the middle of it, and nobody knew what to make of it.
00:04:27Nobody knew what the story was, and everybody had a theory.
00:04:31>> Narrator: Then detectives get a huge break.
00:04:35Rudy manuel makes a miraculous recovery.
00:04:38Despite having a bullet lodged in his brain, he remembers everything about the attack and tells detectives he and bonnie had closed the lodge at around 3:00 a.m.
00:04:49Shortly thereafter, an armed intruder burst through the bedroom door.
00:04:54>> And she said, "who are yo " and he says, "i know you, " and rudy came after him.
00:05:03And he shot rudy first.
00:05:05..
00:05:08..
00:05:10Middle of his forehead.
00:05:11>> Narrator: The gunman then shot bonnie once through the temple and disappeared.
00:05:17>> I can't imagine what people back in newport beach were thinking when they heard that bonnie was found in her bedroom with the handyman.
00:05:26It was a shocking finale for the golden girl from orange county.
00:05:31>> When she walked into a room, she would just light it up.
00:05:34I remember at my mom's funeral the man who spoke said, "describing bonnie hood is like describing a rainbow to a blind " >> Narrator: According to family and friends, beautiful bonnie was always the center of attention.
00:05:50In college at san jose state, her magnetic personality attracted a fellow freshman named james newman hood, the son of a top executive at general electric.
00:06:01The young hood was as ambitious in life as he was with women.
00:06:05But bonnie was different.
00:06:07When alpha tau omega's star mer hooked up with delta gamma's pretty, young pledge sister, sparks flew.
00:06:15>> They were clearly in love, and they had a relationship that was obvious to anybody that knew them that was going to continue on.
00:06:21>> Narrator: After college, the couple got off to an adventurous start.
00:06:25Jim took a civilian job in vietnam, and bonnie worked as a stewardess on military flights.
00:06:31>> Before one of her flights, she got a typhoid immunization shot, and she had an allergic reaction to it.
00:06:38She was paralyzed from the neck down.
00:06:40My dad flew down from vancouver, and he said, "bonnie, when you can walk 30 feet, I'm gonna marry you.
00:06:46" when she could walk 30 feet, she flew up to canada and visited my dad and said, "you didn't think " >> Narrator: In the late '60s, the couple married and started a family in the exclusive oceanfront community of newport beach.
00:07:03>> Newport beach wasn't quite the newport that it is today.
00:07:08Pack up a picnic and go to big corona beach and have a bonfire.
00:07:12We would go boatin go to catalina once in a while.
00:07:15>> Narrator: In the 1980s, the hoods capitalized on orange county's real estate frenzy.
00:07:21And soon, the family was flying high.
00:07:24Bonnie was an instant success in marketing while jim developed commercial complexes that quickly made him a milli >> he's a tremendous salesman.
00:07:34He has a tremendous personality.
00:07:36So there was no reason for him not to succeed.
00:07:39She was always a go-getter.
00:07:40And she was just like jim.
00:07:42I think that's what made them such a great couple is that they had tremendous synergism together.
00:07:47>> Things were taking off.
00:07:49There was an easy air of affluence in the air.
00:07:52And I think there s a sense of camaraderie and a sense of being almost in a gilded age.
00:07:58The weather's beautiful.
00:08:00The boats, the bay, the hills, the large houses -- it's an intoxicating existence.
00:08:07>> Narrator: But eventually, bonnie grew tired of the tony newport beach lifestyle.
00:08:12>> Down in newport, she wasn't happy.
00:08:14The people were a little bit fake.
00:08:16THEY'RE INTO THEIR PTAs AND INTO Their house tours.
00:08:19And my mom didn't want any part of that.
00:08:21She wanted the peace and quiet of camp nelson.
00:08:24>> Narrator: The mountains always held a special place in bonnie's heart.
00:08:28When she was a child, her father would take the family on summer vacations to camp nelson.
00:08:33>> My mom grew up camping there, and she decided to share that joy with us by taking us camping there as kids.
00:08:40>> Narrator: When bonnie learned the lodge had come up for sale, she jumped at the chance for a new career and a new lifestyle.
00:08:47>> Kind of started out as a joke, like, "ah, yeah, we'll buy " then my parents talked, and it turned out to be something that was possible for them.
00:08:58So they made it happen.
00:08:59>> Narrator: In 1987, bonnie and jim became the new owners of the camp nelson lodge -- an historical stone-and-timber resort featuring a 10-room hotel, a bar and restaurant, surrounded by 40 acres of lush horse pasture and spectacular scenery.
00:09:16Bonnie had big plans for the rustic resort.
00:09:19>> She spent a lot of money, and she fixed the rooms up and fixed the lodge up.
00:09:23I guess the main thing would be that she brought it back to life.
00:09:26She's the one that put camp nelson back on the map.
00:09:30>> My mom had always had this dream of having a ranch.
00:09:33And my dad's always wanted to help her fulfill that dream.
00:09:35A place where she could have her horses and really have the open space -- the lodge was the key to that.
00:09:42>> It was definite a family effort.
00:09:44We got a tractor.
00:09:45My mom literally drove this refrigerator truck around.
00:09:50My dad had helped repair the roof.
00:09:53We all kind of helped out.
00:09:55>> Narrator: Rather than relocate the family, the hoods decided to try something new -- a commuter marriage.
00:10:03On weekends, she'd shuttle back and forth from the resort to newport beach.
00:10:07During the week, she'd help the children with homework by phone and fax.
00:10:12>> It wasn't just, "my mom's up ..
00:10:17Leaving the kids and the husband " it's just not how it was.
00:10:20A weekend that we weren't up there, she would come down.
00:10:23It was always just very normal.
00:10:26>> While bonnie was living out her childhood dream, jim was taking exotic vacations -- trekking through the amazon and running with the bulls at pamplona.
00:10:37There were whispers that the marriage was in trouble.
00:10:41>> We had already learned about the relationships between bonnie and her husband, jim.
00:10:46Strained.
00:10:47They spent a lot of money on the lodge.
00:10:49I recall jim having financial difficulties with some commercial investments that he had.
00:10:53>> The real estate business in southern california got a little bit rocky.
00:10:58It wasn't a rising tide lifting l boats.
00:11:00Investigators speculate that with jim's business taking a hit,s pet project became a source of tension.
00:11:07>> Camp nelson was becoming a money pit.
00:11:10They paid $750,000 for it.
00:11:12And the restoration was costing, I think, more than they had imagined.
00:11:16>> Everything was hemorrhaging money, and there wasn't anything to pay it back with.
00:11:20>> Narrator: It seemed the hoods' gilded age had come to an end.
00:11:24And so, apparently, had their undying devotion.
00:11:27>> I think the longer she was up there, the less she felt she had in common with him and the more adamant she was about what she was doing.
00:11:35And the more he was separated from her, the more he wanted to be doing his own thing.
00:11:38And I think the cracks that might have been there -- hidden -- started to become fissures in their relationship.
00:11:45>> There was talk of divorce.
00:11:47He was upset with her squandering money on the lodge -- and then the relationship she had developed with rudy.
00:11:54Soow we're looking at, "what is really going on here?
00:11:57" >> Narrator: Digging deeper, they discover bonnie's insurance totals a cool $3 million.
00:12:06>> If she dies of what's perceived as a murder committed by somebody else, he's not going to lose half of his holdings because of a divorce.
00:12:13He's gonna be the beneficiary of the life insurance.
00:12:16So his problems are all solved.
00:12:17His problem is gone, and the money's coming in.
00:12:20>> Financial trouble, a rocky marriage, insurance policies worth millions -- you better believe the cops are going straight to the husband.
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00:16:18>> Narrator: Weeks after bonnie hood's murder, both jim hood and his dead wife become the targets of a media feeding frenzy.
00:16:27>> It's so easy for them to rs had slowly taken the word "allegedly" out of their paragr suddenly, it just became fact.
00:16:39>> Narrator: They say talk of an affair and financial trouble is totally unfounded.
00:16:43>> The locals have it.
00:16:45They had it wrong about my mom and -- about my mom's and rudy's friendship.
00:16:50And that's all it was.
00:16:52It was a friendship.
00:16:54>> My dad, before my mom died, ..with cash.
00:16:59He never had any type of financial issues, so why would he need insurance money?
00:17:04The man sold million-dollar properties on a regular basis and had several of his own in assets.
00:17:10To me, it was ridiculous.
00:17:12>> Narrator: Family and friends claim bonnie's troubles weren't at home but up at camp nelson.
00:17:18Weeks before her murder, tension with locals had escalated.
00:17:22>> She told me that she had been threatened and her windshield had been broken -- and that people were, basically, threatening her life, and that she had taken her horse into the mountains and found a drug field owned and operated by the people out there.
00:17:38>> She had a lot of information on a lot of things in camp nelson in a filing cabinet there that disappeared.
00:17:42No one knows where it went.
00:17:44>> Narrator: Meanwhile, investigators are getting closer to finding the person who entered bonnie's bedroom that night.
00:17:51The lab results are in on the beer bottles collected from the lodge.
00:17:55And a single fingerprint points to a suspect.
00:17:59>> One of the identifications made was a fellow by the name of bruce beauchamp who had a current address out of fontana, california.
00:18:07And doing further study on him, he also had a prior criminal record out of the state of montana.
00:18:12So those little bits of information really encouraged us that we were onto something here.
00:18:20>> Narrator: When detectives question beauchamp, he admits he visited camp nelson two weekends " police find that story hard to swallow.
00:18:31>> Bruce beauchamp was not living well.
00:18:34The area of fontana where he was living was very substandard.
00:18:38As I remember, it was a trailer home -- very unkempt.
00:18:42You would not expect someone like that to spend money traveling the distance to camp nelson to spend a weekend.
00:18:50It just didn't make sense.
00:18:52>> Narrator: Then, asked about his employment, bruce beauchamp reveals some startling news.
00:18:58>> We learned from him who his employer was.
00:19:02And that turned out to be bonnie's husband, james hood.
00:19:06We thought that was very, very interesting.
00:19:09And a little too coincidental.
00:19:11>> Suddenly the picture completely changed because it wasn't a stranger who'd been up there randomly, but it was a stranger who had -- tied them directly to the husband.
00:19:22>> Jim hood was a blue-blooded, blue-blazered country clubber.
00:19:27Bruce beauchamp was a redneck with a rap sheet.
00:19:30For investigators, connecting this odd couple was their biggest challenge yet.
00:19:35>> Narrator: Back in camp nelson, police show rudy manuel a photo lineup, and HE POSITIVELY I.D.s Bruce beauchamp's photo as the man who shot him.
00:19:45Detectives also find two witnesses in nearby porterville who say beauchamp was showing off his gun the weekend of the murder.
00:19:54Then the shoe print found outside the murder scene is matched to a specific brand of sneaker.
00:20:00>> And investigators were even able to find receipts where bruce beauchamp had purchased and owned a pair of those shoes.
00:20:08>> Narrator: Two months after the shooting, bruce beauchamp is charged with murdering bonnie hood.
00:20:14But investigators don't think he acted alone.
00:20:17>> We feltble that we were on the right track here.
00:20:20 beauchamp working for hood as a possible conspirator in this murder.
00:20:28>> For jim hood, there was motive galore.
00:20:30There's the financial problems that he was having.
00:20:33There was the money that bonnie was spending on the camp.
00:20:35There was the insurance on bonnie's life that would solve his business problems.
00:20:40Then there was the jealousy as a motive.
00:20:42Two classic motives for murder.
00:20:46>> Narrator: But hood had his defenders.
00:20:48>> There was never any sign that my parents had any trouble in their marriageever.
00:20:54Where is the proof?
00:20:56Show me, please.
00:20:57>> I'd bet 2,782% that she never had an affair with anybody.
00:21:02I know jim never did.
00:21:03As far as financials, I don't think there was a financial issue anywhere.
00:21:07Here is a guy that was building $8 million buildings.
00:21:10He didn't need a $400,000 insurance policy.
00:21:13>> Narrator: As trial approaches, investigators try but fail to break beauchamp.
00:21:18>> He did not implicate his boss in any of this.
00:21:22Even when we arrested him and he was charged, he kept tight-lipped.
00:21:28And our thinking was, "we take him to trial for the murder, for the shooting, and after he's convicted, he's gonna start asking for a deal prior to sentencing and give up " >> Narrator: With no evidence linking james hood to bruce beauchamp, the prosecution faces a huge challenge.
00:21:49They must try to convince jurors that the murder was a burglary gone bad.
00:21:54>> The real story was not coming out.
00:21:57It wouldn't until after we convicted bruce beauchamp.
00:22:00And we were biting at the bit for this thing to culminate and come to an end and find him guilty, so we could get on with the case.
00:22:07And we were prepared and ready to do that.
00:22:10>> Narrator: But the theory doesn't hold up in court.
00:22:13>> The prosecution's theory of the case for bruce beauchamp made no sense.
00:22:18Without jim hood it wouldn't work.
00:22:21It's too random.
00:22:22>> Narrator: Then other problems begin to surface.
00:22:25>> The star witness was rudy manuel.
00:22:28You don't pick your cards in these things.
00:22:30You play with what you're dealt.
00:22:33And rudy manuel had an extensive criminal record.
00:22:37>> If you can paint the victims as somehow unsympathetic, even if it looks like that person committed that crime, if the jurors don't like the victims, they may find reasonable doubt where there is no reasonable doubt.
00:22:52>> Narrator: When the jury returns, they find bruce beauchamp not guilty.
00:22:56As he walks from the courtroom a free man, investigators realize the true story of what happened that night might never come out.
00:23:05>> Once beauchamp was acquitted, I think there was almost no chance that the cops could get jim hood.
00:23:12>> So it was frustrating because we were geared up and ready to go to southern california again -- because we knew once bruce was convicted, he would talk.
00:23:20>> Bruce's acquittal appeared to kill any chance investigators had at getting justice for bonnie.
00:23:28But what goes around, comes around.
00:23:31And this case was about to come full circle.
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00:28:03>> Narrator: Bruce beauchamp's acquittal in the murder of bonnie hood is a huge blow to investigators.
00:28:09>> When you lose one in court, when they're acquitted and you know you've got the guy -- you know, but the jury comes back with their decision.
00:28:22Those hang with you for a long time.
00:28:24>> Narrator: Jim hood returns to newport beach to raise his children.
00:28:28But the stigma haunts him.
00:28:30>> We really ignored the rumors that were in the paper.
00:28:33My dad was amazing at not breaking down -- never was in a bad mood, always positive, and 100% and more there for us.
00:28:45>> I felt it from my friends.
00:28:46I felt it from everywhere around me.
00:28:48All of a sudden, I was a bad guy.
00:28:50I was the criminal just because the paper had said something bad about my dad.
00:28:55But the one place I didn't feel it from was my dad.
00:28:58>> Narrator: The hood family seemed to be putting the past behind them and moving on with their lives.
00:29:15Just months after bonnie's murder trial, the san bernadino county sheriff's department gets an urgent call from mission plaza shopping complex located in fontana -- the office of james hood.
00:29:36On the floor, dead, his body riddled with bullets and a gun clenched in his hand, is bruce beauchamp.
00:29:51>> I'm sitting in the newsroom of theorange county register, and I can see my editor mike lednevich walking over to me.
00:29:57And he said, "you'll never " he goes, "there's a murder in " I said, "well, who was the " " " " and it was like, "jim hood?
00:30:09" >> Narrator: Jim hood admits he pulled the trigger, but swears it was self-defense.
00:30:14Hood tells detectives he was receiving threatening calls from beauchamp.
00:30:19>> And he had told me on a number of occasions, he was concerned for his life.
00:30:23>> Narrator: Hood says the two agreed to meet to work out their differences.
00:30:27Just in case, hood says he kept a gun in his desk for protection.
00:30:32He only started firing when beauchamp reached for a gun first.
00:30:36>> The guy accused of murdering your wife lies dead on your office floor.
00:30:42No matter how you spin it, it just doesn't look good.
00:30:47But beauchamp's body, as investigators are about to find out, wasn't the only thing full of holes.
00:30:55>> If beauchamp came in with the intention of killing or somehow intimidating jim hood, how'd he let himself get shot seven times if he's the thug?
00:31:02>> There was a number of things that didn't match up.
00:31:05There was two pools of blood and a smear in between which meant that the body had been moved.
00:31:12This guy who was just riddled with mortal wounds had a gun in his hand -- had fallen down, still had a gun in his hand.
00:31:20And that didn't make any sense.
00:31:22>> Narrator: Two days later, james hood is arrested and charged with murder.
00:31:26Everyone familiar with bonnie's case is stunned.
00:31:29>> I remember thinking to myself, "here we go.
00:31:33Here's the conclusion of our " >> it was like two different stories.
00:31:37One was, here was this crazy man who was acquitted of killing jim hood's wife, and now he was going after jim hood.
00:31:44And the second narrative was that jim had hired him to kill his wife.
00:31:47He'd gotten away with murder, couldn't be tried again because of double jeopardy, and now was extorting -- blackmailing jim for all he could.
00:31:55>> It was extremely frustrating to have the media coverage talk about my dad the way that they did.
00:32:03The way that they painted my dad was he's this rich, white, newport beach developer who comes up with this shrewd plan to -- for conspiracy to murder.
00:32:18..it was just the most absurd thing.
00:32:23>> Narrator: But investigators think otherwise.
00:32:25A friend who drove beauchamp to hood's office that day tells detectives bruce removed the hunting knife from his pocket before he left the car because he didn't want to appear threatening, in case hood called police.
00:32:38>> He definitely knew it was not gonna be a nice, little chitchat.
00:32:42But I do not think in a million years he thought he was gonna get shot.
00:32:46>> Narrator: Then investigators get the hard evidence they need to close the book on hood.
00:32:52C.S.I.s CAN'T FIND ANY BLOOD Spatter on the gun in beauchamp's hand.
00:32:56The gun had to have been placed there after the shooting.
00:33:00And whoever did it made a terrible blunder.
00:33:03Bruce was a construction person.
00:33:06Hammered with his left hand, shot heroin with his left hand, fired a pistol with his left hand -- and the gun was in his right hand.
00:33:14>> Bruce was left-handed, and the gun was in his right hand.
00:33:18So, big mistake.what's that?
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00:37:03>> The defense contends bruce beauchamp came inside that office and threatened james hood with a gun.
00:37:08But the prosecution contends bruce beauchamp was unarmed, that he was gunned down by james hood in cold blood in order to silence his knowledge of what really happened to bonnie jean hood.
00:37:19>> Narrator: In october of 1992, the bruce beauchamp murder trial begins.
00:37:24The san bernadino county courthouse is worlds away from the easy lifestyle of newport beach.
00:37:30And jim hood is far from your typical defendant.
00:37:33>> Jim was cool, tall, blond, blue-eyed, kind of preppy ..charming, charming, charming.
00:37:44>> I pulled a saturday shift in the orange county edition of the los angeles times.
00:37:49So I go to do "hard rock cafe opening" story on a saturday afternoon.
00:37:53Out from the crowd, there's jim hood with two or three friends just chatting and having a good time.
00:38:00If I was on trial for murder, i don't know that I'd be at a hard saturday.
00:38:05>> Narrator: Still, the courtroom is filled with supporters.
00:38:09>> The media had turned him into this monster that there never was.
00:38:14And before asking us who he was, they just jumped to the verdict of, "well, if the paper says so, " >> he tried to put on a demeanor that was one of confidence, but he was petrified.
00:38:28The thought of going to jail for life -- not a very good thought.
00:38:32>> Hundreds of miles from the pristine pine forests of camp nelson, jim hood faced the music.
00:38:39Reporters and cameras lined th walls of the san bernadino county courthouse waiting for the big man to speak.
00:38:50>> The rest of the story was bound to come out.
00:38:53What people wondered about, what people suspected about the murder of bonnie hood might -- as a consequence of this trial -- come out.
00:39:03And we might finally find out what happened.
00:39:06>> Narrator: In opening statements, prosecutor david whitney lays out jim's financial troubles.
00:39:12 hood had his fingers in so many pies that even though he claimed in many instances to be a multimillionaire, in fact, he was in a precarious financial position.
00:39:24And it is our belief that one of the reasons that ultimately he hired bruce beauchamp to kill bonnie was that he was having a serious problem nancially and could benefit from insurance policies on her life.
00:39:39>> Narrator: The state believes that after the acquittal in bonnie's case, bruce found his golden goose.
00:39:45>> Beauchamp starts calling hood, and, in one instance, threatens, "if you don't start dealing with me properly, I'm " >> knowing he could not be tried again for that murder, he tried to get more money out of jim.
00:40:01And I suspect jim probably was giving him some money then just finally realized he had to put an end to this.
00:40:06>> What he meant was he was going to expose jim hood for his complicity in the murder.
00:40:12>> Narrator: The defense sticks to their theory of self-defense.
00:40:16>> He had no reason to kill bonnie hood.
00:40:18Let the evidence tell you, let the witnesses show you that all he has here is gossip, rumor, suspicion.
00:40:26>> Narrator: Hood's lawyer argues that the 911 call proves he's not a cold-blooded killer but a man who feared for his life.
00:40:51>> Bruce beauchamp was a badass.
00:40:54He looked like he was not someone you would want to have angry at you.
00:41:01He looked dangerous.
00:41:14>> Narrator: For the first time in california history, each side uses animation to illustrate their theory.
00:41:21The state contends bruce beauchamp wasn't just shot and killed -- he was mowed down with seven bullets from hood's 9-millimeter pistol.
00:41:31Then the state calls a series of witnesses to dispute jim's claim of self-defense.
00:41:37>> Have you ever seen a gun in the hand of a victim on the ground, holding a gun in any fashion?
00:41:44>> No, I have not.
00:41:46>> Is that one of the things that caused you to be suspicious in this case?
00:41:50>> That is true.
00:41:51>> Specifically, have you ever seen a victim with a gun in that fashion in his hand at a homicide scene?
00:41:57>> No.
00:41:57>> It was a concrete floor.
00:41:59And if somebody is dead weight, they're not gonna keep holding on to their gun.
00:42:05>> Narrator: Experts testify that blood spatter on the floor around beauchamp's hand proves the gun wasn't there when he was shot.
00:42:12>> I would have expected blood to have been -- or some blood to have been -- on the gun or the hand because there were blood stains all around it.
00:42:21And there was no blood stains on the gun.
00:42:23The gun had to come there at a later time.
00:42:26>> Narrator: The forensic evidence is a home run.
00:42:29But the question of motive still remains.
00:42:32>> Rich people sometimes get away with things.
00:42:36But he must have known he was taking an enormous risk in shooting bruce beauchamp.
00:42:41>> Narrator: Next, the state calls their star witness, sharon spray, bruce beauchamp's widow.
00:42:46She describes a conversation she had with bruce shortly after the camp nelson murder.
00:42:52>> I was cleaning our bedroom, and we had a big, four-poster waterbed -- king-sized waterbed.
00:42:58And I was cleaning back rneath the headboard and there was an envelope in there and when I pulled it out, there was $10,000 cash in it.
00:43:05And I asked him what it came from.
00:43:08..at that time, he didn't want to answer me.
00:43:11I asked him if it had anything to do with bonnie hood.
00:43:14" and I asked him if he did it -- if he had killed her.
00:43:20" >> Narrator: The state contends the money is only part of the $50,000 fee hood paid him.
00:43:27But beauchamp got greedy.
00:43:29>> He said, "you can't tell anybody about this.
00:43:31You cannot tell anybody about this.
00:43:33But I got this from jim and this is where I can get money from " >> Narrator: Spray tells the jury how bruce's last request for money ended with the fatal meeting in fontana.
00:43:45>> I think bruce had asked him to wire him money and that -- bruce told me that hood told him no that he had to come back, and then they would settle it.
00:43:54>> The wife's testimony was damning but the packaging stunk.
00:43:59I mean this sharon spray was some piece of work -- heroin addict, ex-con, grandmother at 35.
00:44:07Didn't take long for the defense to skewer the prosecution's star witness.
00:44:13>> Sharon spray was a tough junkie cowgirl.
00:44:18I don't know how else to describe her.
00:44:20She -- tattoos and longtime ..
00:44:26>> She didn't come across as a very strong witness on the stand.
00:44:30And it was a question of which scenario you wanted to believe.
00:44:34>> Narrator: Then the turns the tables.
00:44:36Sharon can't account for how the money was spent or why the couple struggled with paying bills.
00:44:42>> It's total hearsay.
00:44:44The person who told her is dead.
00:44:45He might have had $10,000 from dealing meth.
00:44:48If she did see the cash -- which is unprovable, unverifiable -- he mightlied to her about the source of it.
00:44:55>> What they were trying to say was that he had paid off beauchamp to kill his wife.
00:45:00Well, there's no evidence of him making withdrawals.
00:45:03There's no evidence of beauchamp depositing money in a bank account.
00:45:07Where was the money?
00:45:08>> Narrator: Finally it's hood's turn at bat.
00:45:12>> Jim had a lot of explaining to do.
00:45:15He had to co the jury that he was actually shooting in self-defense.
00:45:20>> His eyes were looking at me ..beat the living heck out of me.
00:45:25I was scared to death.
00:45:29I thought he was going to kill me.
00:45:31>> Narrator: He says he kept shooting because beauchamp's arm was still moving.
00:45:35Once it stopped hood said he never moved the body or the gun.
00:45:39>> People don't understand -- somebody's shooting at you, you just keep pulling the trigger till the thing stops.
00:45:45>> Did you do anything to the beauchamp's right hand?
00:45:53>> No.
00:45:54>> Did you do anything to beauchamp's body other than possibly touch his arm when he was on the ground?
00:46:00>> I did not.
00:46:01>> Narrator: The jury had heard it all -- conspiracy, greed, and murder.
00:46:06But was it enough to convict jim hood?
00:46:09>> Jim came across as very wealthy newport.
00:46:12But in the end, the jury had to decide who was telling the truth.
00:46:17>> Narrator: After 20 days of deliberations, the jury returns.
00:46:21Their deadlocked 10-1 with the last juror undecided.
00:46:26The judge declares a mistrial.
00:46:28For now, jim hood is a free man.
00:46:30>> You have to wonder what was going through that one hold-out's mind.
00:46:35Who did he think he was -- henry fonda in "twelve angry men"?
00:46:39Jim hood had slipped the noose.
00:46:41But the final act of this california drama was yet to play out.
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00:50:43>> Narrator: The san bernadino COUNTY D.A.s OFFICE DECIDES TO Try jim hood a second time.
00:50:48Less than a year after his first trial, he walks the gauntlet of courthouse cameras and reporters once again.
00:50:55But this time, the state has learned from its mistakes.
00:50:58>> In the second trial, the prosecutor did not seek to prove motive.
00:51:03He didn't want to tie together that jim had hired bruce that bruce is blackmailing jim.
00:51:08He just strictly went with the evidence, the forensic evidence.
00:51:12>> Narrator: But when hood's version of the story changes in his testimony, the prosecutor makes a daring move.
00:51:19He calls jurors from the first trial to testify.
00:51:23>> He used the jurors as witnesses to show that jim had lied.
00:51:29Then I was just like -- ka-chung -- you could hear the nail going in the coffin.
00:51:33>> Narrator: The strategy is a success.
00:51:36This time the jury returns confident in their verdict -- guilty.
00:51:40>> That was the one time he looked like a mac truck had hit him.
00:51:44I really think he thought he was not gonna be found guilty.
00:51:48I think he was absolutely just stunned.
00:51:50And the first thing that he said was, "i can't.
00:51:54I mean, my car, it's in the " -- into a different level of denial.
00:52:01>> Narrator: Investigators in bonnie's case finally feel some sense of justice.
00:52:07>> It exonerated us.
00:52:09It really did.
00:52:10There's no doubt in my mind at all that bruce beauchamp was the person responsible for bonnie's death and shooting rudy.
00:52:19And he was subsequently killed by james hood.
00:52:23Case is closed.
00:52:24>> Narrator: But for jim's family and friends, the verdict is a travesty.
00:52:28>> Jim would have lost everything.
00:52:31And this was a man, just a few weeks before the trial ended, had gone out boating in harbor.
00:52:37>> He was an easy target because he was a wealthy, successful, handsome, charming man from newport beach that had everything going for him.
00:52:46I think the attorneys look at it ind of their big fish, their " >> to have someone like bruce beauchamp -- he's a man who's had many convictions, been in and out of prison.
00:53:00He gets the benefit of the doubt.
00:53:02And someone like my dad who has no criminal history and who is an amazing father and amazing husband and person in the ..
00:53:15It doesn't make any sense.
00:53:16>> Whether he ordered bonnie's death or not, I don't know.
00:53:19But there are two dead people.
00:53:21Somebody's spending a lot of time in jail.
00:53:24In this case, it was a story about a culture, as well as about a crime.
00:53:29But affluence is not a cure for everything.
00:53:33Money can't buy you love.
00:53:35>> Jim hood's request to serve his sentence at a medium-security facility was denied.
00:53:42Instead, he's doing his time at one of california's roughest and most isolated state prisons.
00:53:50Officially, his wife's murder remains unsolved.
00:53:57>> Narrator: A millionaire's wife gunned down at her front door.
00:54:01>> It was unbelievable that someone would do something like that just for money.
00:54:07>> Narrator: Attention turns to the social-climbing husband.
00:54:10>> I do believe that the truth has finally got an opportunity to come out.
00:54:14>> Narrator: A high-society world where money talks louder than the truth.
00:54:22>> How far would someone go to get on the right guest list, to be seen in the right places?
00:54:28You'll find out tonight on " >> Narrator: Friday, january 16, 1987, 8:15 a.m.
00:55:02A doorway on slaton drive in the tony atlanta neighborhood of buckhead stands open.
00:55:08Inside a woman lays dead, a box of pink roses at her side.
00:55:13Her name?
00:55:14Lita sullivan.
00:55:17>> The murder of lita sullivan would echo from buckhead to the mansions of palm beach.
00:55:24That's where she had lived with her husband, a wealthy opportunist named jim sullivan.
00:55:30His ambition and their rocky marriage would become the focus of the mystery surrounding the murder.
00:55:39>> Narrator: Lita and jim sullivan were wed in a small ceremony in december of 1976.
00:55:46For jim it was a milepost on a journey that had begun 29 years earlier on the mean streets of boston's notorious south side.
00:55:56Jim was born with little money but plenty of smarts and, most of all, charisma.
00:56:04>> Jim sullivan would charm the pants off anyone.
00:56:07He could be incredibly charming.
00:56:08He had this faux brahmin accent, and he would be very solicitous.
00:56:13He could be incredibly charming to people.
00:56:16>> Narrator: He was also ambitious and ruthless.
00:56:19>> I think he's one of these individuals that has an unchecked ego and really didn't care how his actions affected other people.
00:56:30>> He's rather a brash individual.
00:56:33And I guess better words might be arrogant.
00:56:36He comes off as an arrogant individual.
00:56:40>> Narrator: Sullivan didn't plan to stick around south boston forever.
00:56:44His chance to get out came in 1973.
00:56:49>> His uncle, frank bienert, who had a liquor distributorship in macon, georgia, invited him down to help him run the business.
00:56:55Frank had no children -- older man.
00:56:58Sullivan went down.
00:56:59Uncle frank had really wanted somebody to take the business over eventually and to provide for him in his old age.
00:57:05>> Narrator: Jim agreed to come down -- on one condition.
00:57:09>> Jim sullivan insisted that if in the event frank bienert died, he was to get the whole business.
00:57:15As life would have it -- or death would have it -- jim sullivan was going to be fired just before the anniversary of his first year.
00:57:24Frank bienert conveniently died that week.
00:57:28>> The timing of his uncle's death could not have been better for jim sullivan.
00:57:32The scruffy kid from south boston now owned a $5 million business.
00:57:38But jim was still a little rough around the edges, and that's where lita came in.
00:57:45>> Narrator: Lita mcclinton was raised in atlanta's upper-class african-american society.
00:57:50It was a world of old money, of gala events and exclusive clubs.
00:57:55>> There was a black organization for youth called the jack and jill club.
00:57:59They were members of that, and a lot of black children from upper-class families were at that time.
00:58:05And you went to certain functions.
00:58:07You went to cotillions.
00:58:09You became debutantes -- sort of the same parallel that was in white society.
00:58:14>> Narrator: In the jack and jill club, lita learned early the importance of manners and style.
00:58:20>> She liked making up.
00:58:22She liked clothes.
00:58:23She liked looking pretty, because I always told my girls it took time, and it was going to take a little pain to be beautiful.
00:58:35>> Lita definitely liked the finer things in life, and her family accustomed her to that.
00:58:41She had the outgoing personality of someone who never met a stranger.
00:58:47>> Narrator: With an eye toward the fashion industry, lita took a job at an upscale atlanta boutique.
00:58:54It was there in 1976 that she met jim sullivan.
00:58:57He quickly swept her off her feet.
00:58:59>> She thought that jim was very charming, very thoughtful, a very affable person.
00:59:07>> I think he had that ability to be charming and to spin yarns, lies from here to eternity.
00:59:17>> Narrator: Lita had something jim desperately needed -- a sense of style.
00:59:23>> Jim had two pairs of polyester pants when I met him.

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