The E! True Hollywood Story - Amber Frey   View more episodes

Aired at 07:00 AM on Wednesday, Oct 06, 2010 (10/6/2010)      View all transcripts from this day


00:00:00I was ready to go out on my own and enter in that endeavor.
00:00:04It can be challenging.
00:00:05You're taking a leap of faith.
00:00:06Amber took another leap of faith in late november 2002.
00:00:11A close friend set her up on a blind date.
00:00:14He left a message and he said, "hi, this is scott peterson, and I'd like " and I said, "okay, are you sure he's a good match for me?
00:00:20" and she says, "no, no, trust me, you know, trust me.
00:00:25"He's, you know, he's funny, "he's good-looking, he's tall, " I mean, just everything was positive and all in his favor.
00:00:36So I thought, okay.
00:00:37When a friend introduces youto someone, you think that he or shehave been vetted to an extent, and they're probably going to at least be safe, if not the match of your life.
00:00:51Coming up, a woman scorned.
00:00:54Scott told mehe was not married.
00:00:57We did havea romantic relationship.
00:05:10There was a lot more to our relationship than one, two, three.
00:05:14There was a lot of conversations on the phone.
00:05:18I had no reason not to trust him.
00:05:23Amber frey not only trusted scott peterson, she fell in love with him.
00:05:28But on december 30, 2002, all that changed.
00:05:32Amber was at a party when her cell phone rang.
00:05:35It was her friend richard byrd, a detective with the fresno police department.
00:05:40Byrd told amber about the disappearance of a pregnant woman in modesto, some 90 miles away.
00:05:46Even though it was all over the news, amber wasn't tuned in to the story.
00:05:51She didn't spend a lotof time watching tv, wasn't reallya big news junkie or anything like that, and for this to miss her radar is not unusual.
00:06:01That's just the way she did her life.
00:06:03Then detective byrd delivered the real shocker.
00:06:06The missing woman was laci peterson.
00:06:09Her husband's name: scott.
00:06:12I needed to contact the modesto police to confirm that it is the same scott peterson, or alleviate my worries that, you know, that it's not.
00:06:21Modesto police confirmed scott's identity.
00:06:25When I got off the phone, I remember that friends were still there.
00:06:28And I was cryingand I was shaking.
00:06:31I think I went into shock because I lost some time there, because what felt like maybe ten minutes they said was over an hour.
00:06:39She was just very upset,yeah, more so upset because she thought scott was someone who she could spend her life with.
00:06:48I mean, everything seemed to be so perfect.
00:06:51The police department's absolutely ecstatic when amber frey calls because she breaks the case.
00:06:55Up to that point, they have a lot of suspicions.
00:06:58But what they needis that motive.
00:07:01Why would scott petersondo something so horrible?
00:07:04It certainly gave us an idea that maybe everything that scott had portrayed as himself and everything that we had heard about him is that he wasn't quite as perfect as everybody was suggesting that he was and there was a different side to him.
00:07:18Later that same day, amber received a visit from detective buehler and his partner.
00:07:23She gave us incredible detail, all the way from phone calls to gifts to the places they went, recalling dates and times.
00:07:32And she was rather surprising, compared to many of the people that I've dealt with in this job, on her recall ability for all the different things that she did with scott.
00:07:41Amber didn't think twice about handing over potential evidence, including the cork from a bottle of wine she shared with scott and a box of condoms he left behind.
00:07:51Whatever I had that was available to them that would, you know, further help their investigation, I was open to do so.
00:07:59And they were doing their job.
00:08:02And I had information that, you know, may be vital in locating her.
00:08:08Amber even offered to go undercover.
00:08:11We have used surreptitious tape recordings, which is legal to do in california, on many other cases in the past.
00:08:17And we suggested that to her, if she would, you know, be agreeable to record phone conversations with scott, and she agreed to it.
00:08:25Had scott peterson learned that, in fact, she was recordingall of his conversations, we don't know what he might have done.
00:08:32Amber: I know I was a complete mess for some time.
00:08:35I was terrifiedto go anywhere, one.
00:08:37I pretty much isolated myselfat a friend's for, you know, a couple to almost few weeks.
00:08:43Still, amber went ahead with the sting.
00:08:46From december 30, 2002, through february 19, 2003, she recorded more than 28 hours of phone conversations with scott.
00:08:56One call came on new year's eve 2002.
00:09:32Amber knew scott was lying, but she kept her cool.
00:09:36What she didn't know would have floored her.
00:09:39Peterson placed the call from modesto during a candlelight vigil for laci.
00:09:44More than 1,000 people showed up.
00:09:46Scott hardly came across as the grieving husband.
00:09:50Crier: Here he is in modesto talking about his european adventure down to the smallest detail, and I think that wasthe first real glimpse at a jekyll and hyde.
00:10:01Scott called amber again on january 6, 2003.
00:11:21NINE DAYS LATER, ON JANUARY 15th, Modesto police told laci's family about scott's relationship with amber.
00:11:29The rochas were shocked.
00:11:31Until that point, they believed scott had nothing to do with laci's disappearance.
00:11:36Then the name amber frey was leaked to the media.
00:11:40I remember getting a phone call telling me thatthe girl had been found and it was goingto hit the news.
00:11:48On january 24, 2003, the press descended on american bodyworks, where amber worked.
00:11:55She pretty much justcalled me up and said, "they're out here now.
00:11:59"They've got cameras.they've got microphones.
00:12:01"I can't even go to the bathroom.
00:12:02"I'm stuck here in the office.
00:12:04" modesto police escorted amber from fresno to modesto.
00:12:09That afternoon, she gave her first statement to the press.
00:12:13Okay, first of all, scott told me he was not married.
00:12:18We did have a romantic relationship.
00:12:22When I discovered he was involved in the disappear-- or the laci peterson disappearance case, I immediately contacted the modesto police department.
00:12:30To have reporters and investigators probing into your private life, it's a very, very tryingsituation for anyone.
00:12:40I am very sorry for laci's family and the pain that this has caused them.
00:12:51And I pray for her safe return as well.
00:12:54She came across as very genuine in that first press conference, very heartbroken herself.
00:13:00For somebody who was untrained, unpaid, unprepared, she did rather well.
00:13:05When that was over, we introduced her to some of laci's family and friends.
00:13:10The girls took herunder their wing, you know, laci's friends, and figured outshe wasn't the enemy.
00:13:15She was a victim, too.
00:13:19Coming up,the horrible truth.
00:13:22When laci's body washed up,amber cried for a few days.
00:13:26It just tore her up.
00:13:29Imagine havingthe whole world listening in on private conversationsthat you're having.
00:18:24It was difficult for her because she becamea media figure, but she wasn't getting the media pay for it.
00:18:31She didn't get the pay that a hollywood star would get.
00:18:35Amber frey told the world about her relationship with scott peterson on january 24, 2003.
00:18:41Immediately, amber's life became an open book.
00:18:45In february, "the national enquirer" published nude photos taken three and a half years earlier.
00:18:51Amber says she questioned the photographer after the shoot.
00:18:55I said, "these aren't gonna beon the internet, " and he says,"oh, no, absolutely not.
00:18:59"You would have to fill outa contract of some sort, " that's where I left it.
00:19:04I pretty much took his word for face value.
00:19:07You know, all I filled out was a questionnaire, and that was it, so.
00:19:15Meanwhile, peterson had no idea that his phone conversations with amber even if it was negative,he would sustain that so he could have somebody to talk to, and that was amber fry.
00:19:39The last taped conversation between scott and amber took place on february 19, 2003.
00:20:25Amber wanted nothing to do with scott peterson.
00:20:29Still, scott called two more times.
00:20:32The calls finally stopped on march 5, 2003, when police reclassified the laci peterson case from missing person to homicide.
00:20:43THEN, ON APRIL 13th, Investigators made a gruesome discovery.
00:20:47The decomposed body of a baby boy washed up on the shore of san francisco bay.
00:20:52The next day, a woman's headless torso was found.
00:20:57Amber sent scott an email asking if the bodies were laci and connor.
00:21:02There was no response.
00:21:04Woman: I called scott, and his reaction was, "they'll find out it's not laci " and the reaction to findingthe body of a baby, " and he got in his car and went all the way to san diego, rather than going to where these bodies were found to see if they're his wife and child.
00:21:26FIVE DAYS LATER, ON APRIL 18th, Modesto detectives arrested scott peterson at the torrey pines golf course near san diego.
00:21:35Scott had dyed his hair blond and he was carrying nearly $15,000 in cash.
00:21:41But that wasn't all.
00:21:43Grace: When scott peterson was finally arrested, he had a shovel and a length of rope in his trunk mapdriving directions to where amber frey worked.
00:21:56It terrified her, thinking, what was he up to with that map?
00:22:01That same day, the medical examiner positively id'd laci and connor peterson.
00:22:06When laci's body washed up,amber cried for a few days.
00:22:10It just tore her up.
00:22:13Peterson pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on april 21, 2003.
00:22:18He was held without bail at stanislaus county jail.
00:22:22Then the press descended on amber.
00:22:25They camped out at the house.
00:22:26And I said, "amber, here's what's going on.
00:22:29"There's a $100,000 offer for you "to give the six pictures and an exclusive " so she thought for a minute.
00:22:36" you can't put a price on a human life.
00:22:44And you can't put a price on justice.
00:22:46And I knew what that meantto preserve that and certainly endured quite a bit of ridicule, inaccurate statements, you know, during that time.
00:23:01Privately, amber started spending time with her old boss, chiropractor david markovich.
00:23:07I was somebodythat could talk to-- that, in her mind,had a, you know, a level head.
00:23:11And I respected her for how she was handling this whole affair.
00:23:14 and so our relationship grew.
00:23:19We grew to love each other and care for each other.
00:23:21How long have you been seeing scott?
00:23:23Still, amber needed someone to guide her through the blitz of instant fame.
00:23:28That's when she hired media-savvy attorney gloria allred.
00:23:33She grilled her, she quizzed her, she grilled me, she checked out my mother, my mother's boyfriend.
00:23:39She made sure that amber was real.
00:23:41My role as amber's attorney will be to advise her of her rights and to represent her as a witness in the criminal case.
00:23:47I expect that I will be asked to testify in this case, and I am prepared to do so.
00:23:54Until that time, I just wanna lead a normal life and regain my privacy.
00:24:00I hope that everyone will understand and respect my wishes.
00:24:05Thank you.
00:24:06Amber's message was clear.
00:24:09So was her new look.
00:24:11The next time people saw her with gloria allred, well, she'd had a chance to do her makeup and her-- and she did it all herself.
00:24:17We call that frey makeover.
00:24:19You know, it would have been far better if there wasn't such a dramatic change between the firstpress conference and the second one.
00:24:25It was easier to talk about amber frey and make fun of her makeover than to talk about the real issue, which was scott peterson murdered laci and connor and dumped their bodies in the bay.
00:24:40In the fall of 2003, amber revealed that she was pregnant.
00:24:44The single mom gave birth to her second child, justin dean markovich, on april 27, 2004.
00:24:52With all the questioning and the media wanting to be present, it's unfortunate that I couldn't come right out and be so vocal and happy with all my friends and family.
00:25:00And yet I had to kinda be discretionary.
00:25:02So that's the bitter part.
00:25:03The sweet part is he's, you know, an awesome kid.
00:25:08While amber and david celebrated the birth of their baby, scott peterson sat isolatedin the stanislaus county jail.
00:25:16Peterson's trial began on june 1, 2004.
00:25:20You know, amber was key, no two ways about it.
00:25:23She established the motive for this crime.
00:25:28Coming up,amber's day in court.
00:25:31Once amber freytook the stand, it was likea helium balloon going-- [ imitating hissing ] all the wind came outof the defense.
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00:30:04For a little girl from fresno to be going through that and have to be thrown into the public eye, yet she held her head high and she went aheadand she did it.
00:30:13She's a little fighter.
00:30:15On august 10, 2004, 29-year-old amber frey arrived at the courthouse in redwood city, california, to testify against her former boyfriend, scott peterson.
00:30:27The stakes could not have been higher.
00:30:29If convicted, peterson faced the death penalty.
00:30:33Reporters converged from around the world.
00:30:36When she was coming down the escalator, she was terrified.
00:30:40All the police surrounded her.
00:30:42Levinson: Imagine being a witness in a murder case where you have to face somebody you've had an intimate relationship with.
00:30:47It's very, very tough.
00:30:49And I think you onlyget through it if you keep focus onwhat's at stake here.
00:30:53And what's at stake is holding somebody responsible for terrible murders.
00:30:59After 19 months of silence, amber held nothing back.
00:31:04The most damning evidence: The wire-tapped phone calls between amber and scott recorded between late december 2002 and february 2003.
00:32:04Man, she grilled that guylike the best of the best.
00:32:09Amber performed flawlessly.
00:32:10She never once missed a beat.
00:32:12She never oncesaid anything that apparently raisedsuspicion by scott.
00:32:17Some of the calls were intimate.
00:32:20It's conversation that anybody who's been involved in a romance would have with somebody that they were romantically involved with.
00:33:06Imagine havingthe whole world listening in on private conversationsthat you're having.
00:33:12And she had feelings for scott.
00:33:15And there were genuine tears that she had in court because she had been fooled by the defendant.
00:33:21The tapes that she was able to put together for us revealed a side of scott that nobody else would have believed if they hadn't heard those.
00:33:29He danced around the subject in suchan extraordinary fashion, such as "i can't explaineverything now.
00:33:35" and, of course, all the fanciful pathological lies, I think, were very important for the jury to see who scott really was.
00:33:42Grace: Once amber frey took the stand and those tapes started coming in hour after hour after hour, it was likea helium balloon going-- [ imitating hissing ] all the wind came out of the defense.
00:34:02Amber spent four emotional days on the stand as the prosecution's star witness.
00:34:08Then she faced a grueling cross-examination by the defense.
00:34:12Peterson's attorney, mark geragos, tried hard to cast doubt on amber's character.
00:34:19As far as her being discredited, I think it's important to remember that she wasn't the other woman, at least in her mind.
00:34:25I mean, this guy was single.
00:34:27He was available.
00:34:29On november 3, 2004, after a five-month trial, peterson's fate was in the hands of the jury.
00:34:36They deliberated for seven days and on november 12, 2004, returned with a verdict: Guilty of first-degree murder for laci and second-degree murder for conner.
00:34:49Many of them felt that amber's testimony and those tape recordings were extremely important in their ultimate verdict because it helped them to know who scott petersonreally was.
00:35:01I think when you talkto the jurors in the scott peterson case, you'd findthat our opinion is that you are a courageous young woman.
00:35:07You have our respect and certainly our appreciation for your contribution.
00:35:12People can attack amber frey all they want to.
00:35:15 they can say she's dumb.
00:35:19They can say she didn't have any impact on the case.
00:35:22They're all wrong on all three counts.
00:35:27At some point during her long ordeal, amber began putting her thoughts and feelings on paper.
00:35:33 a memoir entitled " the book was published in january 2005 and became an instant bestseller.
00:35:44This was an opportunityfor me to have a voice and to setthe record straight and to share a little bit more about what I went through in this experience.
00:35:56Maybe her life has been turnedso topsy-turvy that this is her wayof recouping.
00:36:02But the perception is, is that, you know, she's trying to get rich off a tragedy.
00:36:07She's got a story to tell.
00:36:09And, hey, she's got two kids to support.
00:36:12She's a single mom.
00:36:14This is america.
00:36:15You make a buck, have at it.
00:36:17You know, whether she got a dollar or $10 million, she would trade the money if she could take all this back.
00:36:26ON MARCH 16, 2005, JUDGE ALFRED A. DeLUCCHI Sentenced 33-year-old scott peterson to death.
00:36:34Scott's responsiblefor his actions.
00:36:38And the jurors,you know, were presentedall the evidence and they decidedthat was the verdict.
00:36:43And I was very sad,just a lot of emotions.
00:36:49In may 2005, cbs aired a made-for-tv movie based on amber's book.
00:36:54Janel maloney from "the west wing" played the lead role.
00:36:58I'd like to beginby taking you back to november 20, 2002.
00:37:03You were getting ready to go out on a blind date with someone.
00:37:06What was that person's name?
00:37:09Scott peterson.
00:37:10And this person you know as scott peterson, do you see him here in the courtroom today?
00:37:16Could you point to that person?
00:37:20For people who don't like amber frey, there are lots of things that they can point to, the fact that she went ahead and wrote a book and now the movie.
00:37:28But like her or not, she was really important in this case.
00:37:33Today, scott peterson sits on death row at san quentin.
00:37:37Peterson's appeal process could take up to 20 years.
00:37:41Amber remained in fresno and hoped one day to lead a normal life.
00:37:47I mean, nobody could imagine going through this.
00:37:50Still, you know, she wants to be married.
00:37:53But marriage wasn't in the cards for amber and chiropractor david markovich.
00:37:59They share custody of their son, justin.
00:38:02Amber focused on raising her children.
00:38:06Amber is a womanwho stood by her convictions to do the right thing.
00:38:11She's very honest, very loving in that sense towards her family.
00:38:15Her family and her kids are her number one priority.
00:38:19In october 2005, amber began dating her neighbor, robert hernandez.
00:38:24The pair married in july 2006, near lake tahoe, california.
00:38:29Two years later, amber filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences.
00:38:35In november 2002, amber's life turned upside down after a chance meeting with a charismatic but devious stranger.
00:38:45Sadly, there are no winners in this tragic tale.
00:38:48Yet through it all, amber frey stayed true to herself.
00:38:54No matter what situation, it's not always going to be, you know, always positive or always great.
00:39:01And sometimes the greatest lessons are when you fall the hardest.
00:39:14>> Announcer: Billion-dollar fortunes.
00:39:17Gruesome crime scenes.
00:39:20>> [ Gunshot ] >> Announcer: Even money couldn't keep them safe.
00:39:25>> This guy had more security than the president of the united states.
00:39:29>> Announcer: For the next hour, we'll explore shocking crimes of passion, revenge, and greed that made news around the world.
00:39:36>> His skull was crushed.
00:39:38He was bludgeoned to death.
00:39:39>> Announcer: And we'll hear from the killers themselves.
00:39:42>> I've made a lot of bad choices.
00:39:44>> Announcer: Is money the root of all evil?
00:39:46You won't believe the truth as we investigate "billionaire " [captioning provided by comcast entertainment group] >> Announcer: He was a self-made millionaire who enjoyed the spoils of his labor.
00:40:09But when this fun-loving texas playboy was brutally murdered, chilling details of family secrets soon emerged.
00:40:17>> This story was on the news every night.
00:40:19It was on everybody's lips.
00:40:24>> Announcer: For an elite group of wealthy texans, horseshoe bay is a little slice of heaven on earth.
00:40:29>> This is a wonderful place to live.
00:40:31I call it paradise.
00:40:33>> It's a place of golf courses and good restaurants, boating, people living the good life.
00:40:41>> Announcer: In 2005, 73-year-old millionaire charlie white was one of the community's most colorful citizens.
00:40:48>> Charlie white was a classic larger-than-life texan.
00:40:51People who were his close friends truly loved the man.
00:40:55>> Announcer: But on the evening of november 14, 2005, friends of charlie reported him missing, and sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the white home.
00:41:03The serene texas town was jolted by a shocking discovery.
00:41:09>> They went in and they discovered the body of mr. white in the living room.
00:41:14He was battered badly about the head and face.
00:41:18A tooth was knocked out.
00:41:19It was completely across the room.
00:41:21And then sort of thecoup de grace,they took an extension cord, wrapped around his throat, and choked him.
00:41:27>> Announcer: In order to figure out who killed charlie, investigators needed to explore his past.
00:41:33Charlie white made a fortune in THE 1970s AND '80s AS THE OWNER Of aladdin beauty college.
00:41:38>> He eventually sold that chain and had millions upon millions of dollars.
00:41:43>> Announcer: As white's business thrived, his private life suffered.
00:41:46Charlie and his wife, greta, divorced in 1975, and the family quickly fell apart.
00:41:52>> This is a family that was team dysfunction.
00:41:56A son committing suicide.
00:41:58Another son who left his life.
00:42:01A daughter ran out of the house, gets hit by a car, and eventually died.
00:42:07>> Announcer: Still, charlie managed to forge a relationship with his youngest son, darin.
00:42:11>> Charlie and his son darin loved the high life.
00:42:14They would go out drinking together.
00:42:15They both loved women.
00:42:17They both lived large.
00:42:19>> Announcer: White's heartbreaking losses fueled his zest for life.
00:42:23>> Charlie white lived life on the edge in this robust, no-holds-barred, absolute, crazy sexual lifestyle.
00:42:33>> He was known for going to parties and bringing his own prostitute.
00:42:39>> Knowing of charlie's reputation and the fact that perhaps many people did not care for him, we could have a large list of suspects.
00:42:47>> Announcer: A quick run of white's credit card receipts put him at a local wal-mart just two hours before he was killed.
00:42:53>> So they went and checked out the security camera.
00:42:57There's this grainy video that shows charlie white's car pull up into the parking lot.
00:43:03And out gets charlie.
00:43:04A few seconds later, a figure gets out from behind the passenger side.
00:43:09>> At that point in time, we said, "bingo, we've got to determine who that second person " >> Announcer: It didn't take detectives lonkid, someo who is using his father strictly for the money.
00:43:28>> Announcer: Five days after the murder, investigators brought darin in for questioning.
00:43:33Within hours, the 37-year-old made a shocking confession.
00:43:42>> It was an extremely brutal murder.
00:43:45>> Announcer: In his defense, darin described his father as a depraved tyrant capable of extreme cruelty.
00:43:51>> Charlie white also had the classic dark side.
00:43:56He drank a lot.
00:43:57When he drank, he got nasty.
00:43:59>> He had a reputation as being very, very sexually perverted.
00:44:05>> Charlie white forced himself on one of darin's girlfriends.
00:44:08And this was just devastating to darin.
00:44:11>> Announcer: Darin confessed that on the night of the killing, he reached his breaking point.
00:44:14>> He indicated that he and his father had gotten into a horrible fight that had lasted several hours.
00:44:22>> Lane: Darin indicated that it was quite a struggle between the two and that charlie was attacking him, was threatening him.
00:44:28In fact, he'd even indicated that charlie might be going into another room to get a gun to shoot him.
00:44:34>> Announcer: After brutally beating charlie and knocking out two of his teeth with a liquor bottle, darin said he felt certain his father would die.
00:44:46Darin pled guilty to the killing, and his attorney begged the jury for a fair sentence.
00:44:51>> We thought that darin's best shot was to look the jury in the eye and say, "look, I killed my father, I need to be punished, but here are the extenuating " >> Announcer: The defense claimed darin was the victim of lifelong abuse.
00:45:08>> I told the jury that darin white was damaged goods, and i believed that.
00:45:13>> Announcer: On february 20th, the jury handed down white's sentence-- 20 years behind bars.
00:45:21Despite his sentence, darin considers himself a free man.
00:45:25>> He had such an incredible sense of relief after he killed his father, like a heavy weight was lifted.
00:45:31He says he's never felt better in his life.
00:45:33>> Announcer: Darin will be eligible for parole in 2018.
00:45:38Coming up, a wealthy heiress, a violent crime, but was it murder?
00:45:43You won't believe the answer.
00:48:31>> Announcer: The heiress and the polo player-- a match made in society heaven.
00:48:35But when the handsome sportsman wound up with four bullets in his chest, the question remained, did the millionaire's daughter shoot him in self-defense?
00:48:44>> [ Gunshot ] >> Announcer: Or was it murder?
00:48:47>> It just seemed to capture the attention of the news media, and it had all the ingredients.
00:48:54>> Announcer: Susan cummings was born into a life of privilege.
00:48:57She and her twin sister, diana, were schooled in monaco and france before becoming proper southern socialites in virginia.
00:49:04>> She actually was a very shy, introverted woman who had very, very quiet interactions with people.
00:49:12>> Announcer: Susan was the daughter of sam cummings, an international arms dealer whose company earned $100 million a year.
00:49:19>> Her father was very prominent, very well-liked, highly regarded.
00:49:24>> Her father was the largest small arms dealer in the world at the time.
00:49:29>> Announcer: In 1995, 33-year-old susan started dating 36-year-old argentinean polo player roberto villegas.
00:49:37>> He was the kind of player that was so focused and played so well, and everybody loved him.
00:49:44He had the big smile, and he was happy all the time.
00:49:47>> Announcer: But some say villegas wasn't exactly prince charming.
00:49:50>> The accusations were that he was abusive to her, that he was threatening to her in some way.
00:49:57>> I have never seen roberto lose his temper, be angry.
00:50:02He was a decent guy.
00:50:04>> Announcer: In september 1997, cummings decided to end her two-year relationship with villegas.
00:50:10>> She just said, "roberto, you're gonna have to leave.
00:50:13I don't wanna see you anymore, and we've got to end this " >> Announcer: On the morning of SEPTEMBER 7th, SUSAN CALLED 911 From ashland farm, her multimillion-dollar virginia estate.
00:50:25>> The phone rang, and it was my dispatcher informing me that we had a shooting at ashland farms and that the victim was roberto.
00:50:38>> She shot him.
00:50:39She didn't just shoot him once.
00:50:40She shot him four times.
00:50:45>> She was charged with first-degree murder.
00:50:47And she was charged with use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
00:50:52>> Announcer: Cummings admitted shooting roberto but called it self-defense.
00:50:56Susan claimed villegas threatened her with a knife after she asked him to leave.
00:51:00>> He grabbed her by the throat, and he told her, he said, " and at that point, he took out a knife.
00:51:12She opened the cupboard door, and she got the gun.
00:51:14And when she turned around, she said, "all I could see is this look of rage and anger.
00:51:22And I could see him coming up " and she said, "i just instinctively, I just fired to " >> [ gunfire ] >> Announcer: Cummings went on trial in may of 1998.
00:51:37Defense witnesses testified that susan wasn't the only one who got roughed up by roberto.
00:51:42>> Howard: We met girls who dated him who did not have nice things to say about roberto.
00:51:48He definitely had a dark side.
00:51:50>> Roberto had enough women that were after him constantly that he didn't need to beat anybody.
00:51:57>> Announcer: According to the prosecution, forensic evidence didn't match susan's story.
00:52:03>> The prosecution pointed out that the cuts that susan sustained, 18 of them were parallel and they were across her arm.
00:52:11We wouldn't expect to see them in a case of self-defense.
00:52:15The reason for that is that if someone is coming at you with a knife, the instinctive behavior is to raise your hands.
00:52:21What it suggests, in fact, is that susan cut herself.
00:52:25>> Announcer: After six days of testimony, it was up to a jury to decide the socialite's fate.
00:52:31>> You had two choices.
00:52:32Either she shot him in cold blood, or it happened the way I described.
00:52:38What happened was, at most, at most manslaughter.
00:52:43>> Announcer: The jury found susan cummings guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
00:52:47>> A compromised verdict in this case would have been maybe five years.
00:52:51That would have been a compromise.
00:52:52Who in their right mind when you're charged with first-degree murder can fuss with 60 days in jail?
00:53:00>> Announcer: Newspapers across the country had a field day with the sentence.
00:53:03>> To shoot and kill someone in cold blood and to be slapped on the wrist, it didn't seem to be a just end to that crime.
00:53:16>> Announcer: The heiress paid $2,500 in fines and spent 51 days in a minimum-security prison.
00:53:23>> Announcer: After less than two months, susan was a free woman.
00:53:27Today she remains active in polo circles.
00:53:30>> One of the other things that really upsets me is the lack of remorse on susan's part.
00:53:37This was one decent human being and not the monster that he is being portrayed as.
00:53:48>> Announcer: Coming up, a wealthy executive, a young wife who loved to spend his money, but was there a kinky ecrippling my classroom, so I can't believethe sacramento politicians cut a backroom deal that will give our state'swealthiest corporations a new billion dollartax give-away, a new handout that can only meanlarger class sizes and even more teacher layoffs.
00:55:42But passing prop 24can change all that.
00:55:44Prop 24 repeals the unfaircorporate give-away and puts our priorities first.
00:55:50Vote yes on prop 24, because it's time to giveour schools a break, not the big corporations.
00:56:33>> Announcer: At first, this may-december couple didn't seem to have much in common but money.
00:56:37He had it.
00:56:38She wanted it.
00:56:39Still, for a while the marriage seemed to work until a deadly shooting exposed a dangerous liaison.
00:56:45>> [ Gunblast ] >> Announcer: In 1993, 30-year-old celeste martinez was a three-time divorcee working as a waitress in an elite country club in austin, texas.
00:56:57>> Celeste was a hardscrabble young woman.
00:57:00She went through hell as she described it in her life growing up.
00:57:04>> Announcer: By contrast, 69-year-old steven beard was a retired millionaire who made his fortune as a local television executive.
00:57:12>> He had plenty of money, and these ladies would sort of throw themselves in a way at steve.
00:57:17>> Announcer: Celeste often waited on steve at the country club.
00:57:21>> Steve spent night after night at the austin country club.
00:57:24And celeste came over and introduced herself and very quickly moved into his life.
00:57:29>> All I did was just give him a hug, not even as anything sexual or anything.
00:57:37Just because, you know, I felt bad for him.
00:57:40>> Announcer: Beard wasn't considered a ladies' man, but it helped that he had deep pockets.
00:57:45>> Steve was wealthy.
00:57:46I'm not gonna lie and say that didn't have an attraction to me because it did.
00:57:52>> Announcer: Steve and celeste married in 1995.
00:57:54The union raised eyebrows, but the newlyweds genuinely enjoyed each other's company.
00:57:59>> I would say that I brought as much to steve's life as he brought to my life.
00:58:05>> Steven beard took to celeste's twin girls, christina and jennifer.
00:58:10In fact, after they were married, he adopted the two girls.
00:58:14He had such love for them.
00:58:16>> Announcer: Celeste seemed eager to make up for lost shopping time.
00:58:20>> She told me that in one day on a spree, she spent $50,000.
00:58:26>> Celeste's spending habits were an illness.
00:58:29If she felt depressed, she'd go out and buy things.
00:58:35>> Announcer: But retail therapy didn't always do the trick for celeste.