Snapped - Denise Miller   View more episodes

Aired at 09:00 PM on Sunday, Jan 24, 2010 (1/24/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:00k." What he meant was that, as a police officer, he was getting paid to be observant.
00:00:08But did he do morethan just look ?
00:00:11According to hisreputation around town, Denise certainly had reasonto suspect so.
00:00:17( Jessie ) At one time, Wayne did do a lot of running around.
00:00:21He would just draw women, you know ?
00:00:22Basically, he was like a magnet and he just dated a lot of women.
00:00:27Denise didn't like this.
00:00:29They had a lot of problems, jealousy issues.
00:00:31Although according toWayne's friends, the problemswere mostly Denise's.
00:00:37She was a very jealous person and she was very jealous of our friendship.
00:00:42If he talked to someone that was of the opposite sex, she would get upset about that, accuse him of messing around.
00:00:50Wayne told Denise she hadnothing to worry about.
00:00:54However, Wayne's assurances that he'd given upon womanizing didn't end Denise's accusations.
00:01:01And this time,she'd accuse Wayne of way more than justmessing around.
00:01:09One morning in December of 2003, Denise showed up at theLittle Elm Police Department.
00:01:15She hadn't come lookingfor Wayne, however.
00:01:18She'd come topress charges against him.
00:01:22She wanted tofile an assault, a class-A misdemeanorassault, family violenceagainst Officer Irby.
00:01:29It had all started,according to Denise, the day before.
00:01:33Denise explained that she'ddropped by Wayne's rental house for a talk.
00:01:38But Wayne hadn'tbeen alone.
00:01:41He had a female friendover at his house.
00:01:43It was a friend thathad come in from out of town.
00:01:46And the ensuing argument,according to Denise, had gotten out of hand.
00:01:52She was upset and she was there totell the officers that she had beenassaulted by Wayne Irby.
00:01:59And she'd apparentlytaken a beating.
00:02:02She had bruiseson her face, maybe even a cut lip.
00:02:07At first, Little Elm police took Denise's allegationsseriously.
00:02:12We took the offense report.
00:02:14They called Wayne inand talked to him.
00:02:16And when Wayne came in to talkto his superiors that afternoon, he'd obviously beenin a fight, too.
00:02:24He had some bruises and scratcheson him and stuff.
00:02:27But according to what Waynetold his fellow officers, he hadn'tstarted the fight...
00:02:33Denise had.
00:02:34She showed up and saw the purse there, and she went nuts.
00:02:39He just told me she jumped on him.
00:02:41All Wayne had done,he said, was defuse the situation.
00:02:46He ended up putting heron the ground and sitting on herto get her to calm down.
00:02:52Denise, according to Wayne, had eventuallycalmed down.
00:02:55She hadn'tforgiven him, though.
00:02:58At least that's howWayne's coworkers interpreted herassault allegations.
00:03:03It was a false report.
00:03:06She tried to-- she was trying to get him in trouble.
00:03:08False or not,in the end, no charges were filed.
00:03:13She came in a few days later and wanted to drop the charges and said that he was a good officer and she didn't want to see his career hurt.
00:03:21She finally broke down and said, "No, I set it all up and it was-- there was nothing to it." Regardless of who'd actuallystarted the fight, the bruises faded and Wayne and Deniseeventually reconciled.
00:03:35They started dating again and even shopped aroundfor a house.
00:03:39( Denise ) We took his mom and my mom over to a house that we decided to purchase.
00:03:44And we told them that when we get in the house we will get married, because I did want to do it right.
00:03:50Wayne's proposal never came,however.
00:03:53And Denisestarted wondering why.
00:03:56Was Wayne seeing someone elseon the side ?
00:04:00She kept accusinghim of the same thing over and over and over.
00:04:03She tried to keepconstant tabs on him, too.
00:04:06( Jerry ) He would be out on an accident and he would go back to his vehicle and say, "Look at this.
00:04:13"She's called me 60 times, wanting to know where I'm at and what I'm doing." And when Wayne and Denisewere together, things only got worse.
00:04:22( Whitney ) My brother and I, we would hear screaming.
00:04:24We'd go downstairs and knock on the door and, you know, they'd be like, "No, we were just laughing." And you could tell that they were lying.
00:04:33By October of 2004,Denise's jealousy finally becamemore than Wayne could take.
00:04:40( Denise )He said that he was moving out.
00:04:42He just said thatwe were bumping heads.
00:04:44Wayne told Denise he hadalready rented a new house.
00:04:49She was devastated.
00:04:50( Whitney )We'd wake up in the middle of the night and see her crying and likerocking on the floor.
00:04:56And by November, Denise received her secondrejection in as many months.
00:05:02She lost her job.
00:05:04She got even more depressed.
00:05:06And everything-- everything just kind of went downhill from there.
00:05:09Unemployed, alone,and afraid of losing her home, Denise turned to Waynefor help.
00:05:16Wayne, out of compassion and caring for her and her two children, moved back in with her to help her out through her financial issues.
00:05:23But would the couple'sreconciliation lead toa second shot at love ?
00:05:28Or something far worse ?
00:05:33A week aftermoving back in with Denise, Wayne Irby missed the morningroll call at 6:00 a.m.
00:05:39on December 10, 2004.
00:05:42He was punctual every day.
00:05:43There wasn't...
00:05:44there wasn't a day that he didn't show up to work or he was late or tardy.
00:05:50There was stillno sign of Wayne when roll call endeda half-hour later.
00:05:55So as the Little Elm officers left the ready roomand started their shifts, they conducted a brief searchfor their fellow officer.
00:06:03( Jeff ) They went to the address that Wayne and Denise had shared together.
00:06:08Um, he wasn't there.
00:06:09You know, his car wasn't there, no sign of him there.
00:06:12A patrol car alsodrove by the rental house Wayne had moved out ofa few days earlier-- a house Waynestill held the lease on.
00:06:22His vehicle wasn't there.
00:06:23There was no signof him there.
00:06:25There wasn't any trace ofDenise, either.
00:06:28When police called her house, Denise's two teenstold them that they hadn't seenher in more than 24 hours.
00:06:36My mother had not come home.
00:06:38That's very unusual.
00:06:39She always comes home.
00:06:41She's never done that before.
00:06:44And despite the factthat her children had repeatedlytried to call her, Denise had never answeredher phone.
00:06:50They said they had notbeen able to contact her and she always has hercell phone with her.
00:06:56She always keeps it on, especially whenshe's away from home.
00:07:00Whitney told police that,after multiple voice mails, her mother had finallycalled them back a little before midnight.
00:07:08And she was like, "I'm out running errands.
00:07:10I'm just calling to say I love you." And that was weird.
00:07:14Weirder still,Whitney said their mother didn't answer her phone when they'd called her againthe next morning.
00:07:20And the copswanted to know why.
00:07:24Was she unwilling or was she unable ?
00:07:30Coming up, a chilling clue has police scrambling foranswers...
00:07:35and victims.
00:07:37They found a note in the house that said, "Please forgive me and continue to pray for my soul." ..
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00:11:48( narrator )At 9:30 a.m. on December 10, 2004, officers of the Little Elm,Texas, Police Department pulled up outside the home of Wayne Irbyand Denise Miller.
00:12:00Irby, a six-year veteranof the Little Elm force, had missed that morning'sroll call.
00:12:07He was supposed toshow up at 6:00 a.m.
00:12:09And it was kind of strangewhen he never showed up and didn't call because he-- whenever he wassick or something, he would call the sergeantand then he'd call me.
00:12:17They knew that ifWayne doesn't come to work and if Waynedoesn't call, that something's wrong.
00:12:24Wayne wasn't answeringhis phone either.
00:12:27( Erma )If he see my number, he always called me back and when he didn'tcall me back, and I kind offigured something, but I didn't know what.
00:12:35( Jerry )There was just a weird feeling about it, and the more thattime had transpired, the worse thatfeeling got.
00:12:44And Wayne's girlfriend,Denise, as her teenagershad informed police, was also missing.
00:12:51It's unlike my mother to not contactmy brother and I for like more thantwo hours.
00:12:57She's always calling.
00:12:58The kids had said she hadn't come home that night.
00:13:00They'd actually gotten up, dressed themselves, got themselves ready and gone to school.
00:13:05We went to school, and it was just like the longest morning.
00:13:09And they called me into the office, when it was like third hour.
00:13:14It was one of his fellow police officers, and they were asking me if I knew where they were.
00:13:19Whitney Miller had no idea where her motheror Wayne could be.
00:13:24Neither did her brother.
00:13:26By then, police were becomingvery concerned.
00:13:29( James ) We went over to his and Denise's house, looking for any signs of anything, you know, find out where he was.
00:13:37The house was empty.
00:13:39Police, however,did find a disturbing clue in the master bedroom.
00:13:45They founda note in the house that they believe Denisehad written that said, "Please forgive me and continue topray for my soul." She said she was tired ofhurting and lettingother people hurt her.
00:13:56But what exactly wasthe letter insinuating ?
00:14:00Discussions with Wayne's familyoffered a suggestion.
00:14:04Just one day earlier, he'd left Denisea second time.
00:14:09I knew that theywere having troubles.
00:14:12He had mentioned about going tomove back into his home.
00:14:15( Jessie )He just told me, "She just keep bringing things up "from the pastand she just won't let it go, so I'm moving out." Armed withthe information that Wayne had once againmoved out, his colleaguesdecided to pay another visit to his nearby rental house.
00:14:30( Jerry ) We checked all the windows around the residence, but the blinds were down.
00:14:35You couldn't see inside the windows.
00:14:38It didn't appear as if anybody was at home.
00:14:41Was it justan empty house ?
00:14:44Or was it a crime scene ?
00:14:46There was onlyone way to find out.
00:14:49I went over to wherever the leasing agent was for that house and talked with her-- she called the owner of that house and he ended up meeting us at that house with the keys.
00:15:02Keys in hand, officers finallyentered Wayne's residence.
00:15:07( Jerry ) As soon as we entered the door, there's the kitchen bar and there's some items sitting on the bar.
00:15:13One was his cell phone, the other was a fanny pack that he carried with him everywhere he went.
00:15:20The find filled Wayne'sfellow officers with a sense of dread.
00:15:26They implied to me that Irby wasin this residence.
00:15:31Passing throughthe kitchen, Officer James Wynn found Wayne laying facedownin the hallway.
00:15:38I rounded the corner to the left and that's when I saw...
00:15:44him laying on the floor.
00:15:46He immediately rushedto his friend's aid.
00:15:50It was no use.
00:15:51Wayne Irby was dead.
00:15:54I went to check him for a pulse and that's when I saw-- appeared to be a bullet wound to the back of the head.
00:16:01Who had fired the fatal shot ?
00:16:03Police didn't have tolook far for an answer.
00:16:07On the counter,there was a note and it was by written byDenise Miller.
00:16:13And this note,unlike the cryptic one police had found earlier at the homeDenise and Wayne once shared, wasn't a prayer request.
00:16:22It was a confession.
00:16:25( Jeff ) One side said, "I did it.
00:16:27I took our lives, call our mothers." The other side of the note said, "He was the best police officer that you had." Our lives ?
00:16:35Our mothers ?
00:16:36Did that mean she'd killedherself and Wayne ?
00:16:40If so, why wasn't shelying dead on the floor alongside him ?
00:16:46The main gist ofwhat I saw was that she had killed him and thengotten scared and ran.
00:16:54The search forWayne Irby was over.
00:16:58Now police were focused oncatching his killer.
00:17:02They start looking for her.
00:17:04She's immediately a suspect.
00:17:06We put out an all-points bulletin to surrounding agencies to be on the lookout for her.
00:17:12While Wayne's body wasbeing transported to the Tarrant County MedicalExaminer's Office for autopsy, police returned tothe couple's home with a search warrant.
00:17:23There was stillno sign of Denise, but the authorities did makean ominous discovery.
00:17:29His holsters are there, and that's when wereally determined that both hisduty weapons are missing.
00:17:34Wherever she was, Denise wasapparently armed.
00:17:38( Tracy ) At this point, I think she's a danger to other officers.
00:17:41We put out the Teletypes to other agencies to make sure that if this vehicle is spotted or if she's spotted, they know...
00:17:48what she had done and...
00:17:51take caution.
00:17:53Would the caution be necessary ?
00:17:55It all depended upon whoDenise was more of a danger to: the police...
00:18:03or herself ?
00:18:07At just past 4:00 a.m.on December 11, 2004, the night manager at the Ramada Innin Gainesville, Texas, a guest in room 10 The lady is sayingthat she had fallen and needed some helpgetting up.
00:18:23She stated shedidn't need an ambulance, she just needed somehelp getting up.
00:18:26Finding the door dead-bolted, the manager ordereda hotel maintenance worker to break into the room.
00:18:33When they entered the room,of course, they saw the blood on the mattress, the sheetson the floor.
00:18:38And also on the floor was a criticallyinjured woman.
00:18:42Paramedics and policearrived within minutes of the hotel manager'scall to 9-1-1.
00:18:48( man )There was a firearm in plain view sitting on the table, and what I immediately assumedto be a suicide note.
00:18:56Despite the suicide note, the woman lyingslumped on the floor was still very much alive.
00:19:03( Tom ) She kept telling me that she had just fallen down and she just needed help getting up and she kept reaching her arm out asking me to help her up.
00:19:11I asked her what her name was, she never would tell me what her name was.
00:19:16Judging by her injuries, it was a miracle the womancould even speak at all.
00:19:20( Mike ) She did have an obvious gunshot wound to the right side of her head.
00:19:24Her right eye was bulging out.
00:19:26Paramedics rushed the woman tothe North Texas Medical Center.
00:19:31While she wasen route, police back at the hotel made a positiveID on the mystery woman.
00:19:37The manager provided us with the registration card and my corporal, he read the name "Denise Miller," and he looked at me and he said, "I think that's the suspect in that shooting." I was relieved, of course, to find out my mother was alive and, not exactly okay, but she was alive.
00:19:56Coming up, police figure they've caughtWayne's shooter.
00:20:00But will she remember pullingthe trigger ?
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00:24:40( narrator )In a Gainesville, Texas, hotel room early on the morningof December 11, 2004, Denise Miller had puta pistol to her head and pulled the trigger.
00:24:51Wanted for the murder ofher boyfriend, Wayne Irby, it appeared to bethe last act of a desperate woman whose life had spiraledbadly out of control.
00:25:02( Whitney )People were being laid off in her job.
00:25:03She was extremely depressedbecause it was a combination of her job and Wayne and it wasjust too much for her.
00:25:11News of Denise'ssuicide attempt quickly reacheddetectives in Little Elm.
00:25:17Gainesville found outwho she was.
00:25:18They identified herand they contacted us.
00:25:21I kinda thought that we might get a calla little later on that maybe she haddone something like that, 'cause she had indictedin one of her notes that, "I took our lives." She'd almost succeeded, too.
00:25:32Gainesville police informedtheir counterparts in Little Elm that Denise was in the emergency roomof an area hospital.
00:25:40( Jeff )She shot herself in the temple, and the bullet actually missedthe majority of the brain, went aroundand lodged on this-- the opposite sideof her head.
00:25:49I don't know if she flinched at the last minute not wanting to do it, or if it was just the lack of firepower she had.
00:25:56I'm not sure.
00:25:57But... nonetheless, she failed.
00:26:00The evidence Gainesvilleinvestigators had recovered from Denise's hotel room,however, suggested she'd fullyexpected to die that night.
00:26:09There were severalblister packs of sleep aid in the trash can and I rememberthey were mostly empty.
00:26:16One of Wayne'smissing service weapons had been recovered fromthe hotel room, the other fromDenise's car, parked outside.
00:26:24Neither, however, appeared tobe the suicide weapon.
00:26:28Instead,police figured the gun Denise had used on herself was the .25-caliberautomatic pistol they'd found lyingon the hotel-room floor.
00:26:39I think she had originally wanted to tryto commit suicide with the .40-caliber beingthe larger-caliber gun.
00:26:45But that plan hadapparently gone awry.
00:26:48She either was intoxicated from the sleeping pills and alcohol, or wasn't familiar enough with the gun to know how to load it.
00:26:53The bullet had been loaded into the chamber backwards, which of course prevented the gun from firing and jammed it.
00:26:59And lying beneaththe jammed handgun, police had also found yet anothersuicide note.
00:27:06She said that shekilled him accidentally.
00:27:09She freaked outand she ran.
00:27:12While Gainesville police were wrapping upthe crime scene at the Ramada, investigators from Little Elm walked into theNorth Texas Medical Center to try and get a statementfrom Denise.
00:27:23There's a lot of medical intervention going on.
00:27:26She has a neck brace on, she's on a backboard.
00:27:29I can tell her eye is very severely swollen.
00:27:33Despite hertraumatic injuries, Denise seemed coherent.
00:27:38After readingDenise her rights, Ranger Murphree turned ona tape recorder and questioned her aboutthe events of the past 24 hours.
00:28:04She was able to remember things that happened before the offense, appeared to remember some things later on that happened after.
00:28:16Could not remember what happened immediately surrounding the offense.
00:28:20However, when pressed, Denise did admit to beingin Wayne's rental home on the day of the shooting.
00:28:44She admitted to me that she did have an argument with Officer Irby, but denied shooting him and even denied shooting herself.
00:28:54With an obvious bullet wound and two notes implicatingherself in Wayne's death, why would Denise suddenlydeny her own involvement ?
00:29:03Was she lying ?
00:29:05Or was there, perhaps,another possibility ?
00:29:08When she shotherself in the head, the area of her brainthat it damaged was the one thatwould control that memory.
00:29:16After being questionedby Ranger Murphree, Denise was sedated and airlifted to a Dallastrauma center.
00:29:23And when she wokethe following morning, Denise appeared tohave amnesia.
00:29:29I don't knowwhere I was at.
00:29:30I just remember hearingsome lady's voice.
00:29:33I couldn't see anything.
00:29:34Some woman said, "Honey...
00:29:36why did you shoot yourself ?" I said, "Ma'am, I didn't shoot myself." She says, "Well, honey, there's a bullet in your head." That same bullethad also left Denise partially paralyzed and blindin her right eye.
00:29:49But that pain paled incomparison to the shock Denisewas about to receive from her daughter.
00:29:55I said, "Whitney, I need to talk to Wayne." I had to break the news to her that he was no longer living.
00:30:01I said, "Whitney, quit playing." I said, "I need to talk to Wayne." She says, "Mom, no, really, Wayne is dead." I was totally confused and it's like everything was spinning.
00:30:13Whitney couldn't bearto tell her mother exactly howWayne had died, however.
00:30:20It wasn't until hours later that a nurse inadvertentlybrought Denise up to speed.
00:30:26He says, "You've been on the paper." He says, "You've been on the news.
00:30:29They said you shot your boyfriend, a police officer." While Denisestruggled with the truth, investigators were busysolidifying their case against her.
00:30:42On December 13th, police received Wayne Irby'sautopsy report.
00:30:47The medical examiner'sfindings showed Wayne died from a single .25-caliberbullet.
00:30:54( Jeff ) The gun that was used was the same gun that she used on herself that was found in Gainesville.
00:30:59That was ballistically matched to the projectile taken from Wayne's head.
00:31:03But where, exactly,had the .25 come from ?
00:31:07To the police, it appeared unlikelyto be Wayne's.
00:31:11A .25-caliber weaponis a small weapon.
00:31:14It's not usedin law enforcement.
00:31:17Running the gun's serial number, police discovered thatthe pistol was registered toDenise's stepfather.
00:31:23So how did it wind up inWayne's rental house to fire the fatal shot ?
00:31:29To police,the answer appeared obvious: Denise.
00:31:34( Tracy ) Bringing the gun to the scene pretty much tells me that she had ill intentions.
00:31:39She was a control freak and she wasn't getting her way.
00:31:43It wasn't going how she wanted it.
00:31:47On January 18th, after 38 days ofrehabilitation and recovery, Denise received her releasepapers at the hospital.
00:31:56( Denise ) This guy came, and I noticed he had handcuffs and he had a badge.
00:32:00And he came in and I believe he read me my rights.
00:32:03( Rex ) When I picked her up and served the arrest warrant, she came across as a shadow of her original self.
00:32:11She was sitting in the wheelchair.
00:32:14She was slumped over, not speaking...
00:32:17and she wasn't the same person.
00:32:21Police immediatelyloaded Denise into the back ofa waiting police car.
00:32:26And not just any cruiser.
00:32:28( Denise ) They put me in Wayne's squad car and the reason I know it was Wayne's squad car is because he kept it immaculate and he always had this incense, the same incense, and I could smell the incense.
00:32:41It was, according to Denise,no coincidence.
00:32:45The police officer kept driving and he kept looking in the rearview mirror at me, smiling.
00:32:51Was this covertact of vengeance a harbinger of things to come ?
00:32:57At her arraignmenton May 2, 2005, prosecutorscharged Denise with murder.
00:33:03And based on the evidencecontained in her chain of suicide notes, they were fairly certainof a conviction.
00:33:11We had a very strong circumstantial case to begin with, that was only bolstered by the fact that she had confessed not once but twice in those notes.
00:33:22Coming up, prosecutors have a strong caseagainst Denise, but with her in a wheelchair, half-blind and partiallyparalyzed, will a jury decideshe'd suffered enough ?
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00:37:13( narrator )In the spring of 2006, more than a year after she wascharged with the murder of her boyfriend, Wayne Irby, Denise Miller met with hercourt-appointed attorneys at the Denton County Jail.
00:37:25Despite sufferingpartial paralysis and apparent amnesia from a self-inflictedgunshot wound, a psychologicalevaluation had found Denise competentto stand trial.
00:37:38She understoodthe charges against her and she understood whata judge was, what a jury did,and she understood all that.
00:37:46So there was nothing toprevent her being tried.
00:37:49But would the caseactually go that far ?
00:37:55In the weeks leading upto her trial, the Denton CountyDistrict Attorney's Office had been working on a dealthat would offer Denise a reduced sentenceof 20 years in prison in exchange for herguilty plea.
00:38:08We were aware of the factthat Ms. Miller was now in a wheelchair and that there couldbe an issue of sympathy.
00:38:16The question now was would Denise takethe prosecution's offer ?
00:38:21The answer was no.
00:38:23In my mind, I don'trecall what happened.
00:38:26But I just would notdeliberately do something like this.
00:38:30She say,"I love your son," and she say, "I justcan't remember." She didn'twant to plead guilty to something she couldn'tremember.
00:38:37Which, depending onhow you looked at it, was either a drawback oran unexpected benefit.
00:38:44She couldn't talk to her attorneys the way normal clients can talk and convey what had happened.
00:38:51But on the flip side, I did believethat jurors would find hersomewhat sympathetic because of her physical limitations, her mental limitations, and just her lack of memory of this event.
00:39:05Still, her attorneys would havea lot of explaining to do if Denise hoped to avoida potential life sentence.
00:39:14Denise may not have rememberedthe shooting, but she hadalready confessed to it in a series of suicide notes.
00:39:22Aside from the notes, we had other strong circumstantial evidence, and we had the fact that she tried to kill herself.
00:39:28Little wonder that the moodaround the defense table was decidedly grimwhen proceedings began at the Denton County Courthouseon July 10, 2006.
00:39:38( Whitney )I like to think I'm optimistic, but going into the trial,I didn't really think that she hada chance of getting off.
00:39:45It was just a lotagainst her.
00:39:48In their opening statements, Denton County prosecutorswasted no time laying out their case.
00:39:54They described Denise Milleras a jealous control freak that couldn'ttake no for an answer.
00:40:01And when Wayne threatened toleave her for good, prosecutors alleged,Denise killed him.
00:40:08She went over therewith the full intent of if she couldn't have him,no one could.
00:40:14And, prosecutors asserted, there was plenty ofcircumstantial evidence to back up that claim.
00:40:21The gun ended up belonging to her.
00:40:23She left notes at the scene.
00:40:25She went somewhere and tried to kill herself after killing him.
00:40:29Denise's defense team,in their open, didn't disputethe state's claim that Denise had killed Wayne.
00:40:36However, they arguedthat his death was simply a tragic accident.
00:40:41Defense attorneyspointed to her suicide note, written just moments before Denise had put a pistolto her head and pulled the trigger.
00:40:50( Jamie ) This is somebody's dying declaration, and right there in the note there was a sentence that said, "I shot him or killed him accidentally." If you're gonna kill yourself, why would you write a lie right before you died ?
00:41:05For prosecutors,the challenge was obvious: prove that, contrary tothe defense's claims, Denise had verydeliberately shot Wayne Irby.
00:41:17( Jeff ) This was not an accident.
00:41:18Denise had taken that gun, 'cause that was her gun that she used-- it was not Wayne's.
00:41:23She had taken that gun over to the residence.
00:41:27Worse for Denise, according to a report from the Texas Department ofSafety Crime Lab, there was no way she could havepulled the trigger by accident.
00:41:36We had the trigger pull tested on the gun, and it took 4½½ to 5 pounds of pressure to pull that trigger, which is fairly substantial when you're considering, you know, one finger.
00:41:47Next, prosecutors called the Tarrant County MedicalExaminer to the stand.
00:41:52Wayne's injuries,according to his testimony, also argued againstan accident.
00:41:58( Paige ) She couldn't have hit him better if she tried.
00:42:01It was a dead-on shot to the back of his head from a fairly short distance away.
00:42:06But the most damning evidence,prosecutors contended, were Denise's own actions in the immediate aftermathof the shooting.
00:42:15If you truly accidentally shot somebody, the first thing you would do is call for help, and she never did that.
00:42:21She fled.
00:42:23But what about Denise'smultiple suicide notes ?
00:42:28Prosecutors urged jurors to judge the bodyof the work, and not one linepossibly taken out of context.
00:42:36According to prosecutors, the first note,the one found in Denise's house and most likely writtenbefore Wayne was shot, clearly indicatedDenise was preparing to do something drastic.
00:42:49In the first letter,she doesn't mention anything about an accident.
00:42:52And while the notein the hotel room did say the shooting was an accident, that wasn'tall it said.
00:42:59It also contained, uh, references to, "I did a horrible thing...
00:43:05thou shalt not kill." The rest of even that note contradicted the fact that it was an accident.
00:43:10Finally, rather than focus onthe wheelchair-bound woman sitting at the defense table, prosecutors urgedthe jury to remember just who the real victim wasin this whole tragedy.
00:43:23I think the prosecutiondid an excellent job of reminding the jury that this pitiful womansitting before them is in that condition by her own hand.
00:43:33She's the one that chose to murder Wayne Irby, which then...
00:43:39caused her to choose to shoot herself.
00:43:45On July 12th,Denise's attorneys rested without calling anywitnesses.
00:43:51They couldn'tput her on the stand because she doesn'tremember.
00:43:54But in theirclosing statements, the defense also turned toWayne's autopsy report, to bolstertheir contention Denise hadn't intendedto kill Wayne.
00:44:05After all, if Denisewas indeed the bitter, scornful lover that prosecutorsdepicted, then why,defense attorneys argued, hadn't the shooting beenmore malicious ?
00:44:17There was only one shot.
00:44:18He was not shotmultiple times.
00:44:21And how exactlyhad the pistol gotten into Denise's hands ?
00:44:26Since their clientclaimed she couldn't remember the shooting, defense attorneyscould only speculate.
00:44:33My theory was she didn'tthink it was loaded.
00:44:36And as the defensereminded jurors, Denise had even managedto load one gun backwards.
00:44:42And guns, as the defense remindedjurors again and again, were only one ofthe many things Denise didn't know anything about-- including the crimeshe was on trial for.
00:44:55I don't remember if it was day, I don't remember if it was night.
00:44:58I don't know what day it was.
00:45:00I don't know what I did the day before, I don't know what I did that morning.
00:45:03I don't even know if he and I were together that morning.
00:45:08All I know is what people tell me.
00:45:10She was completely disabled.
00:45:13She won't be able to work, she was in a wheelchair.
00:45:18She had very limited, um...
00:45:22cognitive ability.
00:45:24Denise was, in effect,all but helpless, unable toeven take the stand in her own defense.
00:45:31There was no use in putting her up on the witness stand to say, "I don't remember, I don't remember, I don't remember." Coming up, which willweigh more on the jury's mind: the case against Denise or her disabledcondition ?
00:45:47She was so incapacitated at this point, I didn't think that the jury would see her as a continuing threat to society.
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00:51:10( narrator )The murder trial of 40-year-old Denise Miller concluded on July 12, 2006.
00:51:17Charged with the deathof her boyfriend, police officer Wayne Irby, it was now up toa jury to decide if she was guilty of the crime.
00:51:27It was, even asthe jury filed back into the courtroom with a verdict, something Denise herselfwas unsure of.
00:51:35She had tried tocommit suicide and shotherself in the head.
00:51:38She had absolutely no memoryof the case.
00:51:40It just seemedlike a major nightmare.
00:51:43But was Denise's nightmarealmost over ?
00:51:46Or was itabout to get worse ?
00:51:50Inside the Denton CountyCourthouse, the judge readthe verdict aloud.
00:51:55They came back witha guilty verdict, and I was crying.
00:51:59When I heard it,like, my body got flushed and I just kind of...
00:52:04I don't know, I just kind of left for a little bit, and then it kind of hit me.
00:52:08And then I started to cry.
00:52:09Denise's disability hadn'tswayed the jury's verdict.
00:52:14But would they really send a wheelchair-boundwoman to prison ?
00:52:18In my mind, this casewas always about punishment.
00:52:21Will they feel sorryfor her because she'sin a wheelchair ?
00:52:24If they did feel sorryfor Denise, jurors still hada chance to show it.
00:52:29They may have found her guilty, but when it came tohanding down a sentence, they could opt for as little asfive years in prison, or even probation.
00:52:39( Jamie )She was so incapacitated at this point, I didn't think thatthe jury would see her as a continuing threatto society.
00:52:46I was looking forward to receiving probation.
00:52:49But, you know, not knowing.
00:52:54And when her sentencinghearing began that evening, Denise's attorneys did theirbest to secure it.
00:53:01Denise's defenseteam did try to kind of paint her ina sympathetic light.
00:53:07They told the jurors that while she had the knowledge of what happened to Officer Irby, she didn't have the memory of it.
00:53:17Denise might notremember the incident, but according to the jury, that didn't excuseher from taking full responsibilityfor what she'd done.
00:53:27On July 13, 2006, they sentenced Deniseto 62 years in prison for the murder of Wayne Irby.
00:53:35( Jessie )I think the 60 year was a just sentence.
00:53:40She was given an opportunityto get less and she refused it.
00:53:45Denise's daughter,on the other hand, considers the 62 yearsexcessive, even though sheaccepts her mother's guilt.
00:53:54I think it was unfair.
00:53:55I mean, what she did was wrong, of course.
00:53:57But I do think it was unfair.
00:54:00After all,according to Whitney, her mother is already servinganother sentence, even if itwas self-inflicted.
00:54:08Her left side was paralyzed, but she's trying to make the best of it.
00:54:12She's improved a lot and she can walk without a cane.
00:54:15But while Denise's body hasslowly recovered, her memory hasn't.
00:54:20It's very frustrating when you don't know anything, when you don't know.
00:54:24It looks like I'm lying, but I'm not lying.
00:54:27I don't remember.
00:54:41Captioning made possible byOXYGEN MEDIA, L.l.c.
00:54:44Captioned bySoundwriters™™ ( narrator )A devoted police officer mysteriously disappears.
00:55:11( man )When he didn't show up for his shift that day, people started wonderingwhere in the heck he was.
00:55:16For answers,investigators turn to the missing man's longtimegirlfriend.
00:55:20But when they discoverthat she'd also vanished, police assume the worst.
00:55:26It was an off-and-on typerelationship.
00:55:28One marred by more than justthe occasional breakup.
00:55:33My brother and Iwould hear screaming.
00:55:34She had bruises on her face.
00:55:37Fearing the tempestuousrelationship had finally come unraveled, police embark ona frantic search.
00:55:44But will they find the missingcouple in time ?
00:55:48His holsters are there.
00:55:49Both his duty weaponsare missing.
00:55:51Or will they be too late ?
00:55:54I just remember hearingsome lady's voice.
00:55:56She says, "Well, honey,there's a bullet in your head." Captioning made possible byOXYGEN MEDIA, L.l.c.
00:56:14Few officers on the Little Elm,Texas, police force were as dedicatedas 38-year-old Wayne Irby.
00:56:22He was very meticulousand detailed and he was eat upwith law enforcement.
00:56:25If you were breaking the law,he'd write you.
00:56:27And we used totease him, he was so hard that he'd write his ownmom a ticket.
00:56:31Therefore, it wasquite a surprise when Wayne missedroll call at 6:00 a.m.
00:56:36on December 10, 2004.
00:56:39That just wasn't--that wasn't Irby.
00:56:41He was always punctual.
00:56:42Worried, Wayne's coworkers tried to contacttheir missing friend.
00:56:47They had called hiscell phone numerous times and even went over and knockedon his door several times.
00:56:53And when police attemptedto contact Wayne's girlfriend, Denise, they learned she wasalso missing.
00:57:00They had talked to herkids at their school and their mom had notcome home the night before.
00:57:06And I tried to call her,and tried to call Wayne.
00:57:08Neither one of them waspicking up the phone.
00:57:10The dual disappearancessent police on a desperate search.
00:57:14Among Wayne's coworkerson the Little Elm force, it was common knowledgethe couple had a troubled relationship.
00:57:21There were somejealousy issues involved.
00:57:23They had been fightingback and forth.
00:57:26But if police were right, and Wayne and Denisehad butted heads again, two questions remained: how bad would it be, and if push finallydid come to shove, who would fire first ?
00:57:43Fresh from a divorce and new to the small Texas townof Little Elm, love was the last thing onDenise Miller's mind in 2002.
00:57:51But that all changed withone knock on her door.
00:57:55I went to the door and I sawa police car, and I becamea little nervous.
00:57:59There was no needto be nervous.
00:58:01The officer merelywanted to introduce himself to the new homeowneron his beat.
00:58:06And, before leaving, he also offered Denisea little advice.
00:58:10( Denise ) He was telling me that I should let my garage down because burglars have a tendency to climb in through the garage and travel through the attic.
00:58:21A single mom strugglingto raise two teenagers, Denise appreciated the gesture.
00:58:26Particularly when it came froman officer like Wayne Irby.
00:58:31He was sharp, well-groomed.
00:58:33His uniform was well-pressedand badge shined.
00:58:36A four-year veteran of theLittle Elm Police Department, Wayne was the prototypeTexas lawman.
00:58:43He was very proudto be a police-- he always wantedto be a policeman.
00:58:47He was very meticulousand detailed.
00:58:49He loved his job.
00:58:51But over the next few weeks, Denise realized thatWayne's interest in her was more than justprofessional.
00:58:59He would start calling me and asked me to go out and eat with him and hang out a little bit.
00:59:04So we did that.
00:59:05A divorced dad,Wayne was an immediate hit with Denise's two teens,Walter and Whitney.
00:59:12When I first met Wayne, I really liked him a lot.
00:59:15He was fun to be around, and he was funny.
00:59:18( Denise ) He was a kid at heart himself.
00:59:19He listened to the music they listened to.
00:59:22My kids loved being around him.
00:59:24With her kids'unanimous approval, before long, the couple'sromance turned serious.
00:59:31She was real sweet,real quiet.
00:59:34But she was real nice.
00:59:35They seemed likethe perfect couple.
00:59:37But were Denise and Waynereally a couple ?
00:59:40Or was she justone of the many women Wayne was involved with ?