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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  March 18, 2018 2:00am-3:00am PDT

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i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales and this is "date line." there's this pile of leaves, and it's where everything else is clear and flat. my heart is racing a million miles an hour. i was using my boots to move leaves, and that's when i screamed this blood-curdling scream. >> nique leili, a corporate executive who made time for romance and her three daughters. >> she was the best mom. >> then she disappeared. dozens joined the search.
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>> we need nique to come home. >> then, they found her. [ screaming ] >> you can't! >> launching a mystery that would divide this family. >> i suspected him from the beginning. >> one daughter thought her stepdad, matt, did it. the others said no way. d matt, he hadheory all his own. >> this is not theirst time she's run away, okay? >> h nique taken off and found trouble? >> now you're thinking someone gave her a date rape drug. >> that's a possibility. >> the trail would lead to this house of cameras. >> there is a big server tower that would indicate a large amount of data being stored. >> what they discovered, thousands of hours of tape. >> let me out of this room. >> it's absolutely a torture to listen to. >> and would reveal one shattering truth. >> i got down on my knees and just started crying.
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welcome to "dateline." nique leili was a mother of three juggling family life and a thriving career when suddenly she vanished. decks turned close to her for information. then they discovered something unusual. her last moments had been recorded on camera. here is dennis murphy with "the house on sidney's cove." there's never a good day to search for a missing woman. but this rainy, muggy saturday in the heat of july made an unhappy task all but unbearable. they decided, the friends and family, that they would all wear red shirts. they got themselves organized in the parking lot of a walmart in lawrenceville, georgia, about an hour outside of atlanta. and then set out to find any trace of a petite corporate
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executive named nique leili. >> she has three kids. would who love to see her home. >> amy robinson told reporters that her 44-year-old sister, mother of three, was hardly the kind of person who would just up and disappear without a word to anyone. >> i'm just so worried about my sister. we just have no idea where she is, or what -- what's happened to her. >> as fate would have it, the question of where nique was would be answered soon enough. but even now, the question of what happened to nique remains unclear. >> i am sick of playing your games. >> what is clear from the recordings she left behind is that nique leili lived a trouble and tormented life. >> this is what i live day in and day out is keep my mouth shut, my head down, and do exactly what's expected of me. >> tell me about nique's personality. >> she was very funny. she and i used to laugh all the time.
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and she was very feisty. she would say what she meant. she didn't mince a lot of words. >> as sisters, amy robinson and nique leili were ten years apart, but according to amy they were always close. boy, you two look alike in those photos. >> we do. >> i was thinking maybe you're swapping out each other's clothes, but of course you're ten years apart. >> well, that doesn't stop it from happening. i wore a lot of her hand-me-downs. >> by the mid '90s nique had been married and divorced twice and she and her young daughter alex were sharing an apartment with amy. >> we had a good time with that too. we just laughed, putting up pictures in the apartment and stuff. >> it sounds like a sitcom. >> yeah. oh, yeah. and at times it definitely was. >> eventually nique moved out, remarried and had two more daughters with her third husband, matt leili, a new yorker she met online. >> he made my sister laugh. so, you know, we would all laugh. >> after brief stays in oklahoma and mississippi, nique and matt
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returned to georgia and settled into this house on sidney's cove in lawrenceville. nique, a well regarded corporate money person, was the primary bread-winner. matt, a computer guy, ran a small business out of the house. >> he started going to, like, government surplus auctions and buying these big pallets of old, used computer parts and then, you know, rebuilding them and selling them on ebay. >> by this ring -- >> by this ring. >> when it was amy's turn to get married in 2003, her big sis was there serving as matron of honor. >> i just want to raise a toast to amy my best friend. my confidant, my sister, and to the love of her life, who makes her head spin. to amy and dylan. >> then, later thaght, boogying to, what else, "we are family." ♪ we are family >> as the years passed, the sisters remained close. in late june 2011 amy organized a spa day out for nique and her
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three girls. >> no boys allowed. only -- we're going to go have a girls' day. >> where did you go? >> we went to get our nails done. >> day of beauty at the spa. >> mm-hmm. yep. we got manicures and pedicures and went and had lunch. >> nique had had her toenails painted pink that day. and though she sometimes had a difficult relationship with her teenage daughter, alex says that day at the spa felt like a turning point. a fresh beginning. >> snapshots. everybody looks pretty happy. good girls' day out. >> it was fun. i am beyond grateful now that we've done it. >> two weeks later nique had apparently left home in the middle of the night without a word to anyone. when the family reported her missing two days later, the police advised them there was little they could do. >> their response was, we don't even know where to start looking. >> she is not on the 11:00 news every night. >> no. because, frankly, a grown woman having left her house wasn't that interesting a story. well, a hundred people getting together all wearing red shirts. there is an interesting story.
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so they covered that. >> then the cameras were out. >> then the cameras came. >> this is what the cameras saw. searchers armed with maps literally beating the bushes around nique leili's subdivision for clues as to what might have happened to her. >> keep your eyes open. if you see her or anything, definitely call 911 and let them know that you've seen her. >> every searcher had an assignment. >> look, we got blue sky. it's going to smile on us. >> harriet garrett, nique's mother, had the job of going door to door, leafletting the neighborhood with flyers picturing her daughter. >> i don't think anybody's at home, but we'll find out. >> even though southern hospitality may have been in short supply that day. >> gbefore i call the cops. >> harriet pressed on. >> good morning, sir. my name is harriet garrett. my daughter is missing. and they're trying to give -- we're trying to get some news coverage. >> like so many of the volunteers that day, alison
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rockwell wasn't a relative. she was looking for nique, her co-worker. >> i love nique. nique was great. she was so great to work with, very smart. lots of energy. positive. wonderful. just a wonderful person. >> on the morning of the search, alison recalls that she and another colleague from work, a man named derek, were running late, and that would turn out to be an important twist of fate. >> 40 minutes late, actually. everyone else had started searching. >> were you given a grid or an area to look at? >> yes. we were given the front of the neighborhood, the very front of the neighborhood. on the right. >> it was one of the last unassigned sections of the organizers' search grid, a patch of woods near a busy road. >> derek and i went into the woods together. and i remember having to walk up and go over a large tree. and there is this pile of
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leaves, and it's in the middle of where everything else is clear and flat. and my heart is racing a million miles an hour. i go up to the pile of leaves. i was using my boots to move leaves at the bottom of the -- of the pile. as i was doing that, i said derek! derek came over. and he heard the panic in my voice, and he started helping me. and that's when we saw blonde hair. and i screamed this blood-curdling scream. >> and there was no question. >> no. coming up. >> she said, oh my god, it's her. we found her. there is her hair. >> how awful for you. >> yeah. >> a body, and a vital clue. >> the telling factor was, the bottoms of her feet were clean. >> what did that mean? when ateline" continues. at lowe's weave everything you need
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at first, it was the unnatural way the leaves were clumped that attracted attention. then it was the hair. >> and i hear a scream from the woods. >> you hear a scream. >> yeah. and i tore off running into the woods. and then, when i got into the woods, her coworker alison was there, and she said, oh my god, it's her. we found her. there is her hair. >> how awful for you.
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>> yeah. >> nique leili's sister amy and her friend alison felt sure the body beneath the leaves had to be nique's. >> it was terrible. i think everybody was a little bit shocked. so i just kind of went into crisis mode and i called 911. >> within minutes, police, ambulances and news cameras were converging on the patch of woods where the body was found. nique's mother, harriet garrett, says she heard the news when a cop told her she would have to stop leafletting the neighborhood. >> someone in the neighborhood had complained. and while he is talking to me, his radio goes off. it's the dispatch. body has been found. >> you hear it over the dispatch. >> yes, sir. yes, sir. >> do you actually go to that place in that little bit of woods? >> yes. well, i couldn't -- by the time i got there, they already had the crime scene tape up, and i couldn't get any further. >> we're going to move back. we're going to move back on down, guys.
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>> they had it isolated by that time, but i got to it as close as i could. >> hello? >> soon, harriet had nique's oldest daughter alex on the phone. >> do you know it's her? well, i'm right here. the police won't let me come, honey. they won't let me through. i'm right here where the police are. they won't let me through. where are you? >> i just remember fainting or something. but as soon as i came to, i took off running. and i ran all the way to where thcrscenime pe was. >> you c't you can't baby. >> first they wouldn't let me see her. i am grateful that they didn't now. >> as nique's family struggled to process the news, amy faced the microphones and once again became the family's voice. >> all we saw was her hair. um, you know, so we're just waiting for the police to do their job and we'll find out more soon. >> inside the police tape, investigators carefully
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uncovered the body of a middle-aged female. she was nude, lying face-down and, tellingly, appeared to have a fresh pink pedicure. given the decomposition, the heat, the rain, investigators figured the body had lain there for awhile. >> it had been out there several days. >> gwinnett county police detective brad everson. >> no clothing whatsoever. >> any obvious injuries to the body? lacerations? blunt force trauma, gunshot, stab wound? anything you could see? >> nothing. and of course at this point, there's no -- there is no identifying documents around it. so there's nothing around where the body is at that would indicate what happened. >> in the way of these things, dental records confirmed what everyone suspected. the body in the woods was indeed that of nique leili. >> a telling factor was the bottoms of her feet were clean. >> wt does that tell you? connect the dots for m >> that tells you she didn't walk out there and put herself
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in those woods, and she sure wasn't going to cover herself up. >> later, lab analysis of nique's blood revealed something else that was odd. there was a high level of the date rape drug ghb in her system. so now you're thinking maybe sometime before this woman's death, almost immediately before, somebody gave her the date rape drug? >> that's a possibility. >> m.e. also finds semen. >> correct. >> had nique somehow been abducted, raped, and then dumped less than a mile from her home? the detectives couldn't say. but in the days before her body was found, while this was still a missing person's case, nique's husband matt had told everson something intriguing on the phone. this wasn't the first time nique leili had walked out on him. >> my wife has a long history of some kind of mental imbalances, okay. and i have been finding out the past two days everything she has been telling me in therapy all these years has been a lie.
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>> coming up, the nique no one knew. stories of unstable behavior. >> this is not the first time she has run away, okay. >> my father is a witness for her throwing a knife at my face. >> when "daneline" continues.
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- there's a common thread i see every time i'm in the field. while this was burning, you were saving other homes. neighbors helping neighbors and strangers alike. - this is what america's about. - sometimes it's nice to see all the good that's out there. bringing folks out, we have seen it in community after community. by the time searchers found
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nique leili's body, police detective brad everson already knew bits and pieces of her life story. he had been working her case since she was reported missing a few days earlier. >> i had already talked to her dad, talked to her mom, talked to both her sisters, you know, talked to her oldest daughter. >> the picture that emerged was of a woman whose life had revolved around her work, her daughters and her husband, matt. >> he would come sometimes and do lunch with nique. >> did she ever talk about her girls? >> yes. yeah. she was very proud of all three girls. yes. >> photos on the desk kind of thing. >> oh, absolutely. >> like most marriages, nique's had its ups and downs. early july 2011 when nique disappeared was one of the down times. matt freely admitted that when he talked to the detective the day after he reported her missing. >> this is not the first time she has run away, okay. she has awaynd she's been gone for two hours. she has been gone for three hour four hours one time. she has gone to work with a bag of clothes and then meack
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after work. you know. but she has never been gone overnight. >> so he's telling you this is just the latest of a continuing episode that my wife has. >> correct. >> matthew -- >> in this telephone call which the detective recorded, matt leili said his wife was mentally unbalanced. >> she is not very happy with her life. she has never felt accepted, okay. we've been in and out of therapists. there's a fear of intimacy. you know, she's got no problem with girls. but when it comes to a male, they are a threat. they are -- all my life, guys have used me for sex. >> he is getting a host of information. i have a hard time getting a word in edgewise. >> she yells at me in front of the kids. she throws things at me in front of the kids. all i'm doing is sitting there going, please stop. please stop. do you remember what the doctor said.
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is this the person you want to be? >> matt leili said he considered getting a court order to protect him from his wife. >> has she ever been violent? >> yeah. i have pictures of myself with bruises on me. my father is a witness of her throwing a knife at my face. i am 250 pounds, 6'5". she's 98 pounds soaking wet. i'm being beaten up by my wife. who is going to believe me. >> he's telling you that she's bats. >> that's what he's saying. >> as for the night nique disappeared -- >> he stated the previous friday that they had actually gone out to eat and gone to a movie after she got home from work. >> we had a great time. we -- we came home. on the way home i said to her, you know, hey, you know know -- i want to have sex. i said to her, hey, how about you put on an outfit. i think it might have set her off. >> he wanted her to put on a little sexy costume of some kind, huh? >> correct. >> the fear of intimacy that i thought she was working on getting over, it was gone. but apparently that set her off, because she picked a fight. >> as matt tells it, the fight continued at home and ramped up. matt's father, who was visiting from new york, was just down the hall. when the argument touched on the way nique had supposedly been treating her father-in-law, matt
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asked hidad to weigh in. >> he called his father matthias into the bedroom and basically asked matthias to tell nique how he felt about being down there, and that matthias came out with a line that he hadn't felt welcome, that kind of stuff, and that nique reacted to that by basically saying he was lying. >> then matt said his wife did something off the wall. >> i mean, holy cow. she rips her shirt off with her [ bleep ] hanging out, no bra, nothing, says maybe we should just [ bleep ]. throws her shirt on the floor and then says, isn't that what family does. >> you're kidding. she flashed her father-in-law? >> correct. >> my wife has done some weird [ bleep ]. that's the weirdest she's ever been. >> matt says the dust finally settled in the wee hours of saturday, july 9th. nique in the bedroom, he on his couch in the downstairs office. >> i wake up at 6:00 to go to the bathroom. the light is on in the bedroom.
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i can see it upstairs. so i go upstairs to see what's going on. she's not there. >> all her stuff was still there. her car was still there. her keys, her phone. >> her purse was still there. >> correct. he assumed she had left on foot or somebody came and picked her up. >> matt told the cop it was then that he realized his home security system had been turned off. >> i have a camera system in the house because i sell cameras. to the dvr. she always shuts it off when she leaves. when she is pissed off. she knows it pisses me off. >> that's the first you learned that this place is wired for sound and pictures? >> correct. >> when n.ique's body was found days later near her home, learning the story told by those cameras became most urgent. coming up, a treasure trove of evidence. >> quantify it. what are we talking about? >> thousands of hours of material. >> just what will it reveal? >> it's absolutely a torture to listen to.
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i'm dara brown with our top stories. the president's legal team is suing stormy daniels for $20 million. daniels' attorney says the adult film star had been threatened but would not confirm or deny who the threats came from. >> the russian voters are heading to the polls today. current president vladimir putin is expected to easily win the election and stay in office through 2024. now, back to "dateline." welcome back, i'm craig melvin. nique leili was dead, and now her husband was telling police that this seemingly happy mom was violent. but investigators were about to get a better view at home than ever imagined.
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here again is dennis murphy with "house on sidney's cove." >> within minutes of finding nique's body, police raced to the layly home about a mile away. what they observed right awa was tounding the home security system that matt leili had casually mentioneto detectiverson a few days earlier appeared more appropriate to fort knox than a house in the 'burbs. >> and when you first see the house from the road, you can see all these huge, big cameras on the eaves of the house, both sides. >> there were 21 security cameras in all, with a tricked-out control room to monitor and record everything. >> he sounds like one-man nsa. >> it's a very low crime area. it almost boggled the mind as to why he felt he needed quite so much surveillance coverage for the house. >> odd to be sure. an observation to tuck away for later. but the duty that day came first. notification. the officers telling matt leili that his missing wife had just
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been found, dead. >> the uniformed guys told me that he at one point seemed like he got sick. >> matt leili may well have been sick, sick of talking to the cops, because by now he had lawyered up and wasn't answering any of their questions. so you now have probable cause to get a search warrant? >> correct, correct. >> do you think, man, maybe this is going to help us? maybe these cameras saw and recorded something that tells us the story of what's up with nique? >> that was my hope. we're mainly going for anything in the house that has any sort of memory. be it computers. be it -- he had a dvr hooked up to the surveillance system. >> the detective knew it would take time to review and catalog all of that material, so since the police had found no sign of blood, nor any signs of struggle in the house, the detective reviewed the evidence he did have, particularly matt's claim that his wife was bonkers. are any of her family members corroborating this emotional instability issue that's raised
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by the husband? >> none whatsoever. >> this is not a woman off her meds. >> no. they're completely shocked by this -- this version of events that matthew layly is giving me. >> are any of them suspicious of matt, the husband? >> yes, they were all suspicious of matt. >> nique's daughter alex had d with her mother and matt until she was 16, and there was plenty she had to say to the detective. >> i wanted him to know what was going on in the house. i wanted him to know that i suspected him from the beginning. that my mom would have never left her girls. and i wanted him to know he would restrain her, lock her in bathrooms. >> why did he do this? the whole thing with the cameras. >> he is just extremely controlling. >> still, despite the family's suspicion and the fact that the semen found on nique's body proved to be matt's, the police didn't feel they had enough evidence to make an arrest. there is no ankle bracelet on this man. you haven't taken his passport. >> no. >> does anybody say, if you're moving around, tell us where you're going to be. is it that kind of relationship with the authorities?
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>> no. there is not really a relationship with us. >> what about all the computer evidence, the video files from matt's hard drives? they appeared to be useless. after months of reviewing more than a half million video clips, the best investigators could come up with was this. it's a clip of nique leili walking onto the front porch to have a smoke just after midnight on july 9, 2011. the day she went missing. after that, nothing. what happened after midnight in that house? >> exactly. that was the million dollar question. >> the video files from midnight until 6:00 in the morning that day were corrupted, according to the tech guy who examined them. >> we could see footage, but what it was, it was very disjointed. most of it was not time stamped or it was not date stamped. so it was not in a manner that you could just go in and click play and just play through everything. >> the bottom line, the police
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had zero, nada, zilch. and so with no compelling reason to stick around lawrenceville, matt leili moved back up north to vermont, to be closer to his family. that was in february of 2012, almost seven months to the day after nique's body was found. nique's stepmother, betty chatham, says the move effectively ended all contact between nique's family and her two youngest daughters amanda, 12, and rebecca 9. >> he was to provide us with a telephone number. he was to set up a skype account so that we could talk with the girls. nothing. packed up. moved. >> five months later in the summer of 2012, the investigative file passed to cold case detective sergeant john richter. >> i was actually in the homicide unit as a corporal when her body was found. >> does that stay with you? >> yeah, i would say that certain cases that stick with you. and this is one. >> at first richter did what all cold case detectives do. he re-interviewed witnesses. when that went nowhere, richter
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took another look at matt leili's computer hard drives. do you think somewhere in there is the nugget that will get you to the next step in the investigation? >> i think at the minimum we needed to redo it to see if technology had advanced. so i needed new forensic guys to look at the video, or whatever else he could find on the computer. >> turns out the techie richter needed was just down the hall. corporal chris ford had been an i.t. guy before joining the police force. >> richter came down and said, hey, do you mind taking a look at this? i start looking for what we call low-hanging fruit. what's easily available. that's when i started digging through and finding the audio files. >> nobody had listened to the audio files before because investigators were so focused on finding video from the night nique disappeared. that's just what ford did at first too. >> i basically looked at the video in raw format, which is basically computer language. >> something was recorded there. >> yes. it just wouldn't play. >> eventually ford determined the screwed up files were no
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accident. someone had defeated those files and then run a cleanup program to clear the data base logs. not once, but twice. >> the only two times the cleanup drives were run were the days that he reported her missing and the day her body was found. >> i'll never forget the day he comes to my cube and says, these videos were deleted. this wasn't corrupted. he turns to leave and he looks back and goes oh, i got a bunch of audio files on there, too if you're interested. >> quantify it. what are we talking about? >> thousands of hours of material dating back from 2008 up to 2011. >> the audio recordings are probably best described as cringe-worthy scenes from a very bad marriage. >> that's not what i said and how said it. don't take my words out of context. when we got in that [ bleep ] car -- [ bleep ] [ bleep ]. >> damn it, damn it, damn it, damn it. [ bleep ] lower your voice! >> it's absolutely torture to listen to because we have a woman i know is now deceased and i'm hearing how she's living for the years preceding her death. and how she's just being beaten down psychologically and mentally.
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>> it took the detective nearly a year and a half to listen to all of the recordings, and by then he had heard more than enough. when he learned that matt leili would be returning to georgia to testify in a civil suit concerning the payout from some life insurance policies nique had, sergeant john richter planned to be waiting. could investigators have it all wrong? nique's youngest daughters paint a picture of their mother's inner battles. >> she was hearing voices in her head, and they were telling her people were talking bad about her. >> and why they're furious with their mom's side of the family. when "dateline" continues. in terms of treating sensitivity,
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in march 2015, matt leili returned to georgia for the first time since he'd left the state three years earlier. it was money that brought him back. a court proceeding concerning a payout from his wife nique's life insurance policies. >> i knew he was coming down. that made me uneasy. it made me feel really creeped out. >> this was three years later. >> mm-hmm. what we didn't know was that the whole federal courthouse was actually crawling with plain-clothed gwinnett county police. >> they were taking him down that day. >> they were. we had no idea. >> sergeant john richter says the plain-clothed cops waited all day for just the right moment to make their move. >> get him on the outside of the courthouse. >> who makes the collar?
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how does it go down? >> myself and detective washington were there. put the handcuffs on him. felt pretty good. >> nique's family knew the feeling. >> i raised my hands and said, praise god. that was my reaction. >> in addition to facing a murder charge, matt leili was eventually charged with sexual assault and multiple counts of eavesdropping. a few weeks after his arrest, nique's daughters, amanda and rebecca, posted an edited video on youtube in support of their dad. in the video the girls claimed that their mother hated her own family and those same spiteful relatives were the primary reason their dad was in jail. for nique's family, that video was devastating. what, they wondered, had happened to those girls in the four years they had been in vermont. >> as far as i can tell, he poisoned them against us. i can only attribute that to, you know, them living in a house with a master manipulator.
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>> the notion of matt leili as a master manipulator would become a central theme when his murder trial began in january 2016. >> morning, ladies and gentlemen. >> in her opening statement to the jury, prosecutor lisa jones depicted matt leili as a couch potato sponging off his hard-working wife. >> nique leili was the breadwinner. the family was in debt, up to $300,000 in debt. >> furthermore, jones said, matt leili tried to control his wife by turning their home into a virtual north korea. with cameras and recording devices everywhere. lenses aimed at them as they sat on the couch and watched tv. >> you will take a look into thisarriage, ladies and gentlemen, in this case. you will hear the voices of nique leili and the defendant in this case arguing. >> nique's murder, she claimed, was simply matt leili's final act of control. >> i think they got into an argument, that he wanted to have sex, that he drugs her, that he
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has his way. she is loud, she is not able to resist as much as it progresses, that he silences her. that he strangles her, he sits on her, he asphyxiates her to where she can't breathe. >> not meaning to, maybe. >> i think he meant to. i think he had it. i think he knew she was leaving him. she made it clear she was done. >> raise your right hand, please. >> the state's first witness was nique's oldest daughter alex. >> they would be arguing. he would end up locking her in a bathroom. she had been shoved down stairs. there were several nights that i would lay up at night and listen to her say, please get off of me. get off of me. you're hurting me. >> next, nique's sister amy told the jury about the constant monitoring at the leili house. >> we knew that he would record phone conversations that came into or out of the house. >> were you aware at any time whether there were ever gps trackers or tracking devices on any types of the phones or vehicles at the residence? >> yes.
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i knew that he had trackers on nique's phone and when alex was old enough to have a cellphone that he tracked her phone as well. >> then the prosecution gave the court a fly-on-the-wall look inside the leili home by playing those promised recordings of the couple's fights. >> let the record show i am now locked in a room again. i don't want to be here. i don't want to have this conversation. i've asked -- >> let the record show that she is being an absolute [ bleep ]. wants her way no matter what. >> it was hard to listen to. bitter screaming matches, frequently about sex. >> i know that when we go two days without sex, you're going to automatically assume i am on strike mode no matter what else is happening. don't touch me! sit down if you want to sit down. >> i am reaching out to you. >> i don't want to hold your hand right now. >> in retrospect for the prosecution, the recordings seemed to have the ring of prophecy. >> your hands around my throat. >> my hands were not on your throat. >> i don't care what the [ bleep ] you think.
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but it was my throat they were around. >> they were not around your throat. stop telling that story like that. >> bull [ bleep ]. you threatened to kill me. >> the prosecutors said nique leili's best chance for leaving her marriage came 12 days before she disappeared. after yet another argument nique had called 911. >> 911. >> y, my husba won't let me leave the house. >> my wife is yelling and screaming and just woke up the children. >> officers dispatched to the leili home that day offered to help nique leave. but, as this still photo shows, she wouldn't budge from the front porch. >> she wanted him to go. he didn't want to go. he wanted her to go. she wasn't going to leave without the girls. so the argument -- they were pretty much at an impasse. >> two weeks later nique leili was dead. in a house where practically everything was recorded, the prosecutor claimed it was no accident that the video covering the crucial hours when nique leili went missing was somehow corrupted.
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>> the surveillance system was in fact recording during that time period. is that correct? >> that is correct, yes. >> the prosecutor countered matt's claim that nique had somehow turned off the security system by calling the police department's i.t. guy, chris ford, as her last witness. >> so detective, in your professional opinion, then, did an individual have to go in and purposefully corrupt and delete those files? >> that's correct. yes. that's the only way i can explain why, out of all the dates and video that i can recover, that's the only date range i can't recover from. >> though no one knows exactly what was on the missing video, the prosecutor suggested that it was probably video of matt leili carrying his wife's body out of the house. >> you heard her -- >> in closing, the prosecutor let nique leili have the last word. >> you need to listen to what she says and what she lived. >> welcome to my world. you killed me a long time ago. >> welcome to my world. you killed me a long time ago.
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find him guilty. because that's exactly what he is. coming up, has the prosecution really proved anything? >> it's a circumstantial case. >> and then, nique and matt's daughters say that in their parents' marriage, matt was the victim. >> she took a heel and threw it. i myself had to duck from it. >> was it being thrown at your dad? >> yes. >> when "dateline" continues. even on the small stuff. you get an extra 5% off everyday on items big or small with your lowe's advantage card. and back pain made it hard to sleep and get up on time. then i found aleve pm. the only one to combine a safe sleep aid... the 12 hour pain relieving strength of aleve. i'm back. aleve pm for a better am.
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♪ welcome back. here is dennis murphy with the conclusion of "the house on sidney's cove." >> by early february 2016, the prosecution had rested its case against matt leili. the husband was portrayed as an eavesdropping control freak who had killed his wife during an argument. leili's defense attorney, tom clegg, insisted that matt leili was, in fact, an innocent man, falsely accused by the state of georgia. >> they have a theory, and that theory is nothing more than a hunch. it is a guess. so if you were to ask yourself questions that might have been posed of you if you were to have gone to journalism school -- who, what, where, why and how -- you will find that, during the course of this trial, the state of georgia will fall woefully short in proving the allegations
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that they are making against this man. i think their gut feeling was, come on, she's naked, she's buried this close to the house, she's obviously hidden. it's got to have been him. >> what you call a circumstantial case. >> yes. >> the defense attorney concedes he had some difficult circumstances to overcome in this case, beginning with the six hours of missing surveillance camera video from the night nique leili disappeared. clegg insists his client did not erase those files as the prosecution claimed. >> the video surveillance system was shut off at some point in the morning. matt believes that nique shut it off. he is insistent that he did not shut it off, that the system was shut off by nique. >> so whatever happened to her, the cameras didn't see it. >> the cameras did not see it. that is absolutely correct. >> as for those audio recordings of the couple's screaming arguments, clegg pointed out that most were recorded in 2008 and 2009, two years before nique died. according to the defense attorney, matt made the
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recordings with the enuragement a marriage therapist that the couple had been seeing at the time. >> he is talking, and he is conciliatory in my opinion. he is trying to calm things down, and it is impossible to calm nique down. >> please, don't do this. please, nique. >> you do not want to do this with me right now. i mean it. you do not want to tangle with me right now. at all. >> what did i do? >> according to clegg, the prosecution cherry-picked scenes from the leili marriage, highlighting the bad and downplaying the good. bright spots like the 2010 trip matt and nique took to hawaii. they even renewed their marriage vows on that trip. >> the tapes reflect both of them at their worst. now, the flip side is, when they're getting along well, when they are affectionate towards one another, when they renew their wedding vows in hawaii, they don't tape that stuff. >> it's always the darkest side of the moon? >> the darkest side, absolutely, yes. >> as for the night nique
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disappeared, the defense tried to show that nique leili was once again acting unstable, behaving erratically. the defense attorney called matt's father, matthias, to verify his son's version of the last fight between matt and nique. the one where she allegedly flashed him. >> she tore off her top and says, come on, let's go, let's act like a family. >> were you expecting any sort of comment like that? >> never. i -- never. >> once nique disappeared, clegg says, matt leili inquired about having his wife involuntarily committed and even hired a divorce attorney. a man who knows his wife is already dead, he says, wouldn't have done either of those things. >> he did not really want to divorce her. he wanted to let her know, look, here are your options. you can go get help for yourself, or i'm going to go forward with a divorce.
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>> the defense wrapped up its case by calling matt and nique's two daughters, rebecca, now 14, and amanda, 17. >> did you ever see your dad hit your mom? >> no. >> did you ever see any obvious injuries or bruises to your mom? >> no, sir. >> according to the girls, their mother was the one with the violent temper, not their dad. >> she took a heel and threw it. i myself had to duck from it. >> was it being thrown at your dad? >> yes. >> on the day nique made that 911 call, amanda said her mother complained about hearing voices in her head. >> she was pacing back and forth saying that she was tired of people talking bad about her behind her back, and my dad asked her who was talking about her, and she said that, um, she was hearing voices and like the voices in her head were telling her people were talking bad about her. >> throughout, neither girl made eye contact with their mother's relatives, who hadn't seen them
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in four years. whatever affection might once have existed seemed to be gone now. >> we made our own decision. we don't like that side of the family. so we want to stay away. it's not him forcing us to stay away from them. >> in closing, tom clegg argued that, while the state may have proved matt leili unlikable, it had not answered any of the basic journalism questions. who, what, where, when, why or how. >> in closing i said, you have heard all of this evidence. the state still cannot answer any of these particular questions. what does that tell you? that tells you they have fallen woefully short of proving matt's guilt. >> after eight days of testimony, both sides of the family prepared for a long and anxious wait for a verdict. turns out they didn't have to pace long. after just three hours of deliberation, the jury announced it had reached a verdict. >> i'm going to ask you at this time if you would stand and read the verdict out loud. >> as to count one, we the jury find the defendant guilty of
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murder. >> though not a sod came from nique leili's family, their expression said it all. >> thank you, sir. >> before passing sentence, the judge gave matt leili once last chance to have his say. >> mr. leili, is there anything you want to say? >> i didn't do it. and i'll be filing an appeal. >> with that, the judge asked matt leili to rise and receive his sentence. >> i'm going to follow the state's recommendation as to count one and have you sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. >> it was a bittersweet ending for nique's family. they'll likely near see matt layly again. but as nique layly's youngest girls left the courthouse to go back north with their grandfather, it seemed just as likely that they would never see them again, either. >> they were my girls. i still love them to this day. taught them how to read. got them ready for school in the mornings. >> you'd like to have a relationship with them. >> i would love to have a relationship with them again. i don't know that that day will ever come.
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but i want them to know my door is always open. but i don't know if that day will ever come. >> one murder, so many victims. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline extra." i'm craig melvin. thanks for watching. ♪ i'm craig melvin. >> i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." it's gut wrenching. >> there's a body laying on the side of the road. >> this young woman was shot three times. this was a murder. >> a young, single mom, out with friends on game day. >> it was packed. >> but as night fell, fear grew. >> they're asking us, do you know anybody that would want to harm your sister? >> was it someone that was a stranger? was it someone that


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