tv Dateline MSNBC December 19, 2020 11:00pm-12:00am PST
from him, yesterday. >> reporter: a few feet, but an unbridgeable divide when it's a matter of father, versus son. i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline." >> he's a monster. he's evil. he's pure evil. he is that character in those horror movies. >> he hid in the shadows. a killer in a mask. >> he's clearly a brilliant individual, a brilliantly scary individual. >> his target a doting young mom. >> she was a gorgeous strawberry blond who loved her son more than anything in the whole world. >> she was so scared. >>ar he struck once. would he kill again? and would she be next?
>> you're just so shattered and hurting so bad. >> imagine being hunted in your own home, held a virtual prisoner, your children in danger from a man with a blueprinta for murder. >> i was terrified. >> she will face down evil and come forward with a new revelation that will make your jaw drop. >> what i did was wrong. there are no words. i have everything to lose. hello and welcome to "dateline." it was a brutal crime, and right away one woman said she knew what happened. it would take years to bring the alleged killer to trial. but the verdict was far from the end of this case. it's a story of obsession and control that will keep you guessing till the very end. here's andrea canning with "the killing in cobb county."
>> a new attraction can be so exhilarating. but not always. sometimes attraction turns into a dangerous obsession. lottie spencer says she knows all about that. >> he'd show up at my job. he would showow up at the store. and no matter where i went he would be there.nt >> lottie says she had a stalker, a teenager who got into her house, into her car, and worst of all into her head. >> i wouldn't go out to the mailbox without a gun.il i was terrified. he had total control over you, it sounds like. >> pretty much. >> lottie could feel it in her bones. something bad was coming. and she felt powerless to do anything about it. >> i knew he was watching. and then i just thought here it comes again. >> life used to be much simpler for lottie. in the fall of 1995 she moved to cobb county, georgia, just north
of atlanta. she lived in this house with her daughter christina. >> this is an upper-scale neighborhood. me and christina were always outside. my life was really good. i was really happy. >> their downstairs neighbors were carmen smith and her son nick. 5-year-old nick had sparkling blue eyes and a million-dollar smile. just like his mom. kristen horan is carmen's sister. >> she is a gorgeous strawberry blond, feisty. very outgoing. young woman who loved her son more than anything in the whole world. they're just like two peas in a pod. >> it was a monday afternoon the week before halloween. nick and christina got off the school bus and walked home together. cobb county prosecutor jesse evans. >> first thing they did is go down stairs to see if they could find nick's mom. is there. she should be r there. >> reporter: while christina stayede by the door nick went inside. someone was there. but not his mom. >> nick turned the corner and he
saw something move across the bedroom down the long hallway. >> it was a dark figure wearing gloves and a mask. the stranger suddenly stabbed nick and left him for dead. >> as he's laying there on the floor, he actually sees his perpetrator run from the house. christina began really freaking out.be she was terrified. >> christina ran upstairs to her apartment to get help. her babysitter catherine was there with her boyfriend scott.e they hurried downstairs.ri >> christina started walking toward thehr sliding glass door. and i grabbed her shoulders and i stopped herab and i said don' touch danything. >> the glass door was smeared with d blood. the scene inside was unspeakable.sp >> somebody said oh, my gosh, there's nick. and you could see him through the window on the floor in a pool of blood. >> said get out of here, go dow, the street. she said what are you going to do? i said i've gotsa to get that b out of there. i'm not leaving without that boy. >> scott grabbed an ax from the
garage for protection, then dropped it when heth realized h desperately nick needed help. >> he wasn't breathing at the time. i smacked him a few times and nothing happened. and so i started screaming at himed and started smacking him harder and telling him he wasn't going to die today. and all of the sudden he kind of bolted up. at that point i said,p. "you're alive." >> scott picked up the little boy and bolted from the house. he squeezed nick tightly against his chest, trying to staunch the bleeding. >> he was running andch he was yelling down the street call 911, call 911. he's [ muted ] up. call 911. >> lottie was at work when she got a frantic call from her daughter. >>ll she was hysterical. she was saying that nick was hurt. and i drove home as fast as i st could. i was screaming for christina and nick, but they weren't there. >> lottie didn't see carmen either. but when police officers arrived
at the scene, they made a terrible discovery. the vivacious flight attendant and devoted single mother was dead. she'd been strangled. carmen smith was just 30 years old. >> you're just so shattered. and hurting so bad. and you'red so thankful that yr daughter's alive. then you feel so bad what happened to nick and carmen. >> carmen's sister kristen and brother-in-law jim barely had time to process the news about carmen before learning that nick was fighting for his life. they rushed to be at his side. >> we went straight to the hospital. >> you mustnt have been thinkin how could someone stab a 5-year-old, your nephew, approximately 18 times. that's a monster. >> exactly. yeah. >> i won't ever forget walking in that hospital room. i'm sorry. but yeah. and then you -- you have to come to grips with reality.
>> and it was a grim reality.li after emergency surgery nick was inni critical condition. he looked so little, so fragile in his hospital bed. >> you never think that you could be touched by something like this. when you've got the perfect family.'v >> he'd been stabbed 18 times and had lost a dangerous amount of blood. but he survived. nick was going to make it. it was nothing less than a miracle. >> there was no easy way to tell him about his mom, but he had to know. and even 18 years later nick remembered it like it was yesterday. >> my dad and my aunt told me that my mom didn't make it and i didn't really understand it then. i still don't really understand it. >> it was such a senseless act. nick and his family could only grieve and wonder why.
but back at the apartment, now a crime scene, a chill ran through lottie. she told police she could explain p exactly what happened. >> i told them that i had somebody that had been stalking me and it was my belief that he was the one behind what happened to nicholas and carmen. >> coming up -- who was this man in the mask who would kill the young mother and try to kill her son?he >> he's pure evil. he's a monster. >> a chilling story of hunter and hunted. >> he's always told me he can gets away with the perfect mother. his plan was in the making. >> when "dateline" continues. tis here's to the duers. to all the people who realize they can du more with less asthma thanks to dupixent, the add-on treatment for specific types of moderate-to-severe asthma.
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it is a haunting memory, impossible to forget. >> it definitely changed my life of course completely. so i remember it pretty well. >> nick smith was only 5 years old when a masked man stabbed him 18 times and killed his mother, carmen. while recovering in the hospital, nick was told his mother was gone. do you remember your mom? >> not as well as i wish i did. most of my memories are just stories i've been told from other people. >> carmen's sister kristen and her husband, jim, helped raise
nick. bedtime stories were often about his beautiful mother. >> she was very athletic. she was in swimming and basketball, softball, track. and she was in the homecoming court. prom queen. she dated, you know, the football player. she was a cheerleader. >> i remember her liveliness. she was very vivacious, very beautiful, and very fun. she had nick fairly early in life and did a great job of working and providing for nick at the same time. >> do you just feel robbed you that never got to experience all those things a mother and son get to experience together? >> definitely. a lot of people in my family say i act just like her. i just know she was a happy person. >> a happy life that ended in an appalling act of violence. the police officers who discovered carmen's body got an immediate emphatic lead from her upstairs neighbor, lottie spencer. >> did you know immediately who had done this? >> mm-hmm. >> who had committed this.
>> i knew. >> lottie was certain it was the work of a teenager named waseem daker. waseem and lottie had a history. she said it would explain the hideous attack. she told detectives her story. things had started so innocently. don't they always. >> push it up. come on! >> i met him at the paintball field, playing paintball. so we just met by being teammates on the same team. >> lottie was the captain of her team. kind of a den mother to the other, much younger players. especially waseem, a georgia tech student 12 years her junior. >> he didn't have anybody else that he could open up and talk to or share his thoughts and feelings with. >> so you felt kind of like a big sister to him. >> that's exactly how i felt. >> daker was a bit of a loner. he latched on to lottie, started calling her at work, at home, and wouldn't stop. >> i told him that you know, i have a life and you're just taking too much of my time. and then he would cry and then i knew that there was a problem.
>> what was a nuisance at first lottie says quickly escalated. her phone started ringing off the hook. up to 100 times a day. >> why didn't you just stop talking to this person? >> i should have. i felt really sorry for him. i really didn't want him to get into trouble. it sounds so crazy. >> but maybe that also says about you that you're a good person. >> or a very foolish person. >> foolish, lottie says, because daker's stalking became bolder, increasingly bizarre. >> he just started flipping out, yelling on the top of his lungs that he's going to get me and slit my daughter's throat in front of me. i would come home from work and there would be a pair of my underwear on my doorknob or a few days later a bra. >> what message is he sending with that? >> look at me, i'm getting into your place and getting away with it. there's nothing you can do to stop me. another time i came home early and went into my bedroom and there was waseem daker, naked,
wearing garter hose and a garter belt, looking at himself in my mirror. >> this is any woman's worst nightmare. >> mm-hmm. >> lottie says things reached a tipping point when once again daker threatened her and her daughter, this time while brandishing a knife. >> he's always told me that he can get away with the perfect murder. his plan was in the making. >> finally lottie decided to let the justice system take over. daker was arrested in august 1995 but released on bond. a judge ordered him to stay away. he didn't and was arrested again in september. this time he was sent to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation. prosecutor jesse evans. >> he's got some severe issues with obsession. i don't think that he has the ability to feel compassion for other people. he's clearly a brilliant individual. he's also a brilliantly scary individual. >> while daker was hospitalized, lottie packed up and moved to the house in cobb county, about
20 minutes north of atlanta, where carmen and nick lived downstairs. >> so you moved. >> yes. >> to try and escape him. >> mm-hmm. >> in october on friday the 13th waseem daker was released from the hospital. less than two weeks later carmen smith was dead. and lottie spencer was overwhelmed with guilt and anger. >> waseem daker is evil. he's pure evil. he's a monster. >> and that's what lottie told police. she said her stalker must have been the one behind the attack on carmen and nick. but why? daker was obsessed with lottie. he'd never met or even spoken to carmen. or had he? lottie thought she knew the answer. a phone call she says daker made to carmen's phone a few days before the murder. >> it was friday the 20th, and like daker style the calls started coming in and the phone got put off the hook. and then i could hear her phone ringing. >> carmen answered, then hung up
abruptly. what was said? nobody knows. but carmen told her sister and brother-in-law that the call was from lottie's stalker. >> she said i'm going to go get a hammer and put it next to the bed. and i remember laughing thinking if that guy decides to get in the house he's in trouble. but you really never think that it would go to where it went. >> we had talked about her packing some stuff and coming to stay with us for a while. >> lottie says seeing carmen's reaction to daker's call was heartbreaking and she did what she could to help her neighbor feel safe. >> the only entryway from within her dwelling was on the sliding glass door, and so we just barricaded the door with some wood. she was so scared. she was shaking and just -- she was so scared. >> just three days later that glass door was open and smeared with blood and waseem daker was
the lead suspect in a horrible crime. >> coming up -- evidence at the scene of the crime. >> there's a broken knife blade and hair and fiber evidence that was recovered off carmen smith's body. >> will it be enough to catch the killer? >> he was getting away with murder. he's getting away with exactly what he told me he would. >> when "dateline" continues. n e karate moms... in desperate need of brown sugar. meaning, you. you're the one we made mywalgreens for. with pickup in as little as 30 minutes. hiya! get 30-minute pickup at walgreens.com every minute. understanding how to talk to your doctor about treatment options is key. today, we are redefining how we do things. we find new ways of speaking, so you're never out of touch. it's seeing someone's face that comforts us, no matter where. when those around us know us, they can show us just how much they care.
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just three days before she was killed carmen smith told family and friends she'd gotten a call from waseem daker, the man who'd been arrested for stalking her neighbor. it was the strongest allegation yet connecting the victim to the suspect. investigators tipped off about that call by lottie now closed in on daker. >> did you execute a search warrant on his house that night? >> we did. >> john dawes was a homicide detective with the cobb county police department. >> in his room we found a piece of paper with the address where this crime occurred. we found a torn-up letter that was his words to lottie spencer. >> daker's torn-up letter to lottie was hateful and threatening. prosecutor jesse evans. >> he specifically talks about having plans and backup plans to exact revenge on lottie, and the worst part about the letter is
he gets to the and end he says, "but i'm going to let you live. i'm going to get revenge on you but i'm going to let you live." >> to police and prosecutors this wasn't just a rant. it looked like a blueprint for murder. now they tried to link daker to the crime scene. >> some of the important evidence we start with is the hair and fiber evidence that was recovered off carmen smith's body. there was a broken knife blade. it was a fairly clean crime scene other than that. >> carmen had small puncture wounds on her back and terrible bruising, suggesting a ferocious struggle. >> she had been not only tortured and murdered but she had been undressed at some point and redressed. >> at carmen's bedside the hammer she'd wanted for peace of mind. never touched as she fought for her life. not far away was the suspected murder weapon, a piece of rope. crime scene technicians dusted for fingerprints and collected blood samples. the evidence was sent to the
state crime lab for analysis. >> the lab tests kept coming back without the physical evidence that we needed that linked him to the dead body of carmen smith. that's when we knew that it may always be a circumstantial case. >> and the circumstantial part of the case was just too weak too make an arrest. prosecutors still believed daker was the only viable suspect in carmen smith's murder and the stabbing of her son, nick. but they didn't have the evidence to prove it. the investigation stalled. >> so waseem daker walked away from the murder. >> he walked away from the murder but not from some accountability. the police felt like they had a viable way of charging him with aggravated stalking. >> daker was arrested and charged with stalking lottie spencer. >> there are multiple witnesses, friends of hers, friends of his, that actually observed firsthand some of these stalking activities that were occurring at her apartment.
either by hearing the phone, hearing him knock on the door at all hours of the night, seeing him come by. >> daker was convicted in september of 1996 and sentenced to ten years in prison. it was the close to the worst chapter of lottie spencer's life. but it wasn't a happy ending. >> did you feel like you had some peace in your life again when he was behind bars? >> no. i mean, because he was getting away with murder. he was getting away with exactly what he told me he would. he needed to pay for what he did to carmen. >> after the trial lottie decided to leave georgia to try to start over. nick smith went back to the same school and the protective embrace of his family. >> i kind of just went back into the normal routine. i think that was the best way that i could have dealt with it. and i think my family did a pretty good job of trying to keep my life as normal as possible. >> and during the next ten years
nick's life did finally return to normal. but in 2006 daker was released and moved nearby. all the terrifying memories of the masked man wielding a knife came rushing back. police decided to provide security to keep nick safe. >> we would have the cops sit outside of our house at night, and we had cameras installed in my house and on the outside just as a precaution. >> lottie says she was also looking over her shoulder. >> tell us about the day that he got out. that he was a free man again. >> not a good time. >> were you waiting every day for the phone to ring or the bang on the door? >> yeah. i was starting to unravel again. >> coming up -- the fear begins all over. and so does the push for justice. >> you had your smoking gun. >> absolutely. >> it's another trial for waseem daker. and just look who's addressing the jury.
when "dateline" continues. are you ready to join the duers? those who du more with less asthma. thanks to dupixent. the add-on treatment for specific types of moderate-to-severe asthma. dupixent isn't for sudden breathing problems. it can improve lung function for better breathing in as little as 2 weeks and help prevent severe asthma attacks. it's not a steroid but can help reduce or eliminate oral steroids. dupixent can cause serious allergic reactions including anaphylaxis. get help right away if you have rash, shortness of breath, chest pain, tingling or numbness in your limbs. tell your doctor if you have a parasitic infection and don't change or stop your asthma treatments, including steroids, without talking to your doctor. du more with less asthma. talk to your asthma specialist about dupixent. if your financial situation has changed, we may be able to help.
hello. i'm dara brown. here's what's happening. the cdc released new guidance on allergic reactions to covid-19 vaccines. if a person ever had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient in the covid-19 vaccine, it said they should not get that specific vaccine. and if they had a reaction to other vaccines, consult with a doctor first. covid cases now total over 17.5 million and over 314,000 deaths. meanwhile, vaccinations continue. in new york approximately 19,000 people have been vaccinated. in texas over 15,000 also received the shot. now back to "dateline." welcome back to "dateline." i'm natalie morales. prosecutors believed carmen smith had been murdered at the hands of waseem daker, her neighbor's stalker.
yet with no physical evidence tying waseem to the crime, they could not prove it and the investigation stalled. years passed, but a determined detective was about to take a new look at an old include and turn this case from cold to red hot. once again here's andrea canning with "the killing in cobb county." >> after ten years in prison waseem daker was a free man but still a suspect in the murder of carmen smith and the stabbing of her son nick. >> he was still terrorizing you in some ways. >> mm-hmm. just the fact he was out was kind of terrorizing. >> he is that character in those horror movies. he's like your worst nightmare. >> after his release daker got a job and moved to suburban atlanta. he was a free man and enjoying life. here he is skydiving. and loving it. daker's freedom galled homicide
detective john dawes. the carmen smith murder was now officially a cold case. to dawes daker was the one who got away. >> does a case like this haunt a police department? >> absolutely. because these cases go home with you in your mind. >> but for years dawes couldn't do anything about it. and then, just by chance, he was sent to a dna training seminar in 2008. a random assignment that would change everything. >> back in the mid '90s very, very little at all could be done with the hair except to say the color of the hair. now when there's any tissue from the root on the hair whatsoever it takes just a minute amount of tissue to come up with a full profile dna. >> it's called nuclear dna testing. and dawes immediately thought of carmen smith. carmen was a strawberry blond, and he remembered the short dark hairs recovered from her body. not hers.
under layers of bedding. >> i felt it was invaluable evidence if there was enough tissue on that hair that was underneath her sweater. >> reporter: dawes brought one of those dark hairs to a dna lab in texas and waited. it was almost 15 years after carmen smith's murder when the call came in. there was a match. >> they have identified waseem daker's hair, him and only him, to the exclusion of all others, on the dead body of carmen smith at the time she was found. >> you had your smoking gun. >> absolutely. >> i got a call from detective dawes. i was very happy. but it was really hard for me to have to go back and tell the story of the things that he did. >> lottie dreaded the thought of testifying in open court in front of daker. but she knew there would be no avoiding it. daker was arrested and charged with murdering carmen smith and stabbing her son nick. his trial started in september of 2012. >> all rise.
>> prosecutor jesse evans was there for the state. >> this case, ladies and gentlemen, is about obsession, revenge and choice. >> evans argued that daker was a violent stalker and that his obsession with one woman led to the murder of another. >> you can't get inside the mind of a psychopath and figure out why they chose to kill. >> evans said daker had left a trail of destruction and those critical hairs. >> a cold case solved by dna technology proved positive that waseem daker is guilty. >> defending waseem daker was waseem daker. >> initially i want to point out a couple things. there's three principles of law i want to give you. >> before he took over his own case daker had been represented by an experienced father and son team, michael and jason treadaway. they were still advising him and believed the state's case was
vulnerable. >> they had no case without those hairs. that's why they didn't go forward initially. they didn't have a case. and they knew it. >> their advice to daker? focus on those hairs and don't obsess about lottie. >> this case had to be defended by attacking the science of the state's case. >> but daker couldn't seem to let go. his focus from the start was his relationship with the state's star witness. >> i've been in her bed. i've been in her sofa. >> it was a romance, daker said, intimate in every way. lottie insisted that was not true. >> some of the things he said had to be just really beyond frustrating, saying you two had a sexual relationship. >> you know what? there was no relationship. so there's nothing, you know, more that i can say about that. >> did he ever try and do anything like kiss you or -- >> no. >> -- since he's so in love with you? >> never once. never once tried to kiss me or anything. >> when daker finally turned to
those hairs, he called on dr. greg hampekian. the prominent dna expert challenged the state's key evidence. the nuclear dna test matching daker to carmen smith that was done on the root tissue of a single hair. the problem, hampekian says, is none of the hairs recovered from the crime scene had any roots. >> there were hairs taken from the body and they were all clearly indicated on the report as having no root. that's something you could do with the naked eye. and of course the expert at the time used a microscope. >> are you 100% sure the original hair had no root? >> the records all state that. so somehow it arrives at this laboratory and it's a hair with a root. there's real problems with that piece of evidence. >> it was a serious challenge to the state's key piece of evidence. and daker once again connected the evidence to lottie spencer. a liar, he said, who had ruined his life in the most treacherous
way. >> and they would never have seen these hairs if she hadn't made the false allegations in this case. she derailed a murder investigation by making all these false allegations. >> for lottie all of the fear and hurt from her darkest days came rushing back every time daker mentioned her name. >> he was enjoying it. like he had control again. and that made me feel like really weak. >> jesse evans asked the jurors not to focus on lottie and to think about another woman when they started their deliberations. >> carmen smith's body was laid to rest. but i assure you it was not in peace. >> after he took his seat prosecutor evans was anxious, uncertain what the jury would do. >> we were really holding our whole case together with two hairs. two hairs from the victim's body. if there's a plausible explanation for how those hairs come back with his dna results, if there's an explanation for that, our case is no longer
viable. >> it took the jury just 3 1/2 hours to reach a verdict. >> we the jury find the defendant waseem daker guilty as to count 1, malice murder. >> guilty of the murder of 30-year-old carmen smith. >> you go all these years thinking that he got away with it. and he didn't. >> at daker's sentencing the state called just one witness, nick smith, who was determined to face his attacker one last time. >> i just kind of had to not let him defeat me. in a way. >> when waseem daker took my mother's life and stabbed me, my life was put on hold -- >> nick struggled to hold back tears. >> no long er will someone othe than me control my life and interrupt my thoughts. he's finally caught and i'm finally free. i love you, mom. >> i never wanted to use what
happened as any sort of crutch or let it get in the way. i did the best i could. if she was here, i think she would be proud. >> the judge then delivered daker's sentence. life in prison plus 47 years. but a defiant daker refused to sign the documents for his sentence. >> it's typical of the coward that you would act the way you're acting. and that's what you are. a coward. >> case closed. justice for carmen and nick smith. and the victory lottie had wanted so badly. but the story was far from over. something happened at the end of the trial that would come to haunt lottie. something that would lead her to realize there was still unfinished and unbelievable business in her saga with waseem daker. >> a final verdict? yes. the final chapter? not even close. a stunning confession is about to turn this case around.
>> coming up -- >> i couldn't let it go. i have a conscience. i have to live with me. >> there's a real issue here. something is going on behind the scenes that we weren't aware of. >> when "dateline" continues. >>s fights pain in two ways. advil targets pain at the source... ...while acetaminophen blocks pain signals. the future of pain relief is here. new advil dual action. here's to the duers.
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and forever. >> it was very emotional. but just so good. so very good. >> do you feel free? finally free? >> i feel like a lot of weight has been lifted and i'm going to close this chapter and just go on with my life in a positive way. >> that was lottie in 2012. she told us she had closed that chapter. but it turns out she didn't. not by a long shot. in fact, since that interview she has turned this story completely upside down with astonishing revelations. we sat down with her again to hear her new version of things. >> so did not expect to be sitting here talking to you again. >> no. >> it's a major turn of events. >> yes. there has been. >> it all began with a bombshell. >> mr. daker and i had a consensual sexual relationship. >> yes, lottie now says in the mid '90s she had an ongoing
sexual relationship with waseem daker. that he wasn't really her stalker, he was her lover. it was something she had flat out denied for 17 years. >> if what you're saying is true, you lied to the district attorney, you lied in open court to the jury. you lied to me. >> mm-hmm. there are no words to describe just how very remorseful i am. what i did was wrong. i am taking 100% full responsibility for what i have done. the damage i have caused this man. and his family is -- there's nothing i can do to take it back. nothing. >> lottie now says she lied under oath about the sex and about many of the stalking charges she'd made against daker. >> did waseem threaten you? >> never. >> your life. >> no. >> did he threaten anyone's life around you? >> no.
>> are you in love with waseem daker? >> no. i never was in love with mr. daker. >> and you're not today? >> no. >> but lottie says even though she and daker were in a relationship she still feared him and until recently genuinely believed he was a murderer. >> i was terrified of him. that was no lie. those emotions were real. i've had the nightmares. i've lived in that fear. >> she says that fear drove her to lie to put daker behind bars. but the euphoria she felt after the verdict started to sour. she couldn't stop thinking about something prosecutor jesse evans said during the trial. >> i learned during the closing arguments that carmen's lifeless body was wrapped up in five layers of bedding. and i was shocked. and i started to get pretty scared at that moment because i had given carmen two blankets just before her death. >> they were blankets that lottie now says she and daker had slept in together.
>> mr. daker used those blankets on a number of occasions. i mean, he was welcome in my home and we were friends and he'd spent the night. and clearly i knew that his dna could have been on those blankets. >> remember, carmen had been found under several layers of bedding. if one of lottie's blankets was among them, it could explain how daker's hair got on carmen's body. >> this isn't a maybe. this is a woman who's risking perjury charges, who's turning against her own self-interest. this is a woman who can explain this evidence. you have to take this seriously. >> there hampekian, who had been an expert witness for daker, worked on the case case in his role as director of idaho's innocence project. he believed lottie's story was a game changer. >> now there's a logical explanation of how the hairs got there. this is one of those places where you just have to shake the system and say wait a minute, this is so obvious. he didn't get a fair trial.
>> i couldn't let it go. i have a conscience. i have to live with me. >> so lottie decided to come forward. she filed affidavits with the court and in 2013 judge mary steelee granted daker a hearing for a new trial. but jesse evans wasn't buying lottie's new story. that's because while he was preparing for daker's hearing he believed he found that story's real source. >> there's a real issue here. something is going on behind the scenes that we weren't aware of. >> coming up -- >> i messed up really bad. it's despicable. >> another revelation inside a
prison cell through a thousand pages of secrets. >> do you think waseem daker is manipulating lottie from prison? >> when "dateline" continues. >> when "dateline" continues with less eczema, you can show more skin. so roll up those sleeves. and help heal your skin from within with dupixent. dupixent is the first treatment of its kind that continuously treats moderate-to-severe eczema, or atopic dermatitis, even between flare ups. dupixent is a biologic, and not a cream or steroid. many people taking dupixent saw clear or almost clear skin, and, had significantly less itch. don't use if you're allergic to dupixent. serious allergic reactions can occur, including anaphylaxis, which is severe. tell your doctor about new or worsening eye problems, such as eye pain or vision changes, or a parasitic infection. if you take asthma medicines, don't change or stop them without talking to your doctor. so help heal your skin from within, and talk to your eczema specialist about dupixent.
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for almost two decades here's how lottie spencer talked about waseem daker. >> waseem daker is evil. he's pure evil. he's a monster. >> but then she changed her story. calling him a victim. >> you know what? i messed up really bad. it's despicable. >> lottie's reversal was astonishing. in the years since carmen smith's murder she had built a new life. she was a single mom again,
raising her young son in a new home. by recanting her testimony she put all that at risk. >> how worried are you right now that you could go to jail for perjury? >> i'm very worried. i know that i'm facing prison time. and there will be severe penalty for what i do, and i don't want to be ripped away from my little boy. i have everything to lose. >> a year after daker's conviction the hearing began on the motion for a new trial. daker again representing himself called dr. hampekian, the dna expert, to the stand. >> if a man sleeps in a blanket, can his hair transfer to the blanket? >> yes. >> and if a man has sex in the blanket, can his hair transfer to the blanket? >> yes. >> dr. hampekian laid the scientific foundation, but daker's chances really hinged on lottie. >> next witness. >> lottie spencer.
>> a hush came over the courtroom as a nervous lottie made her way to the stand and swore to tell the truth. >> just prior to carmen smith's murder i gave her two blankets, blankets that i knew that you used in my roswell apartment. >> she acknowledged having a sexual relationship with daker. and then lottie's old list of daker's abuses started to topple like dominos. >> did the defendant ever threaten you with a handgun? >> never. >> did i ever physically threaten you, threaten to kill you or harm you? >> never. >> did i ever steal your bras, panties, or hang them on your doorknob? >> no. >> there are going to be people who will see this and think you're lying now and that you were really telling the truth before. >> what reason do i have? i have everything to lose. i'm doing it because this is right. >> in a bristling cross-examination prosecutor jesse evans portrayed lottie as a troubled, unreliable woman. >> did you admit to us that you had some mental issues that you were dealing with? >> i said i was suffering
anxiety and depression. >> okay. >> evans' next move was stunning. he presented evidence that he said explained lottie's incredible reversal. letters confiscated from daker's prison cell. 4,000 pages of correspondence between the convicted murderer and the woman who testified against him. >> i sent him daily devotions, bible verses, encouraging cards. i sent him a lot of information, case files. i actually feel like i'm his personal secretary in a way. >> it turned out lottie had actually been helping with daker's appeal. he gave her research assignments. she looked up cases, printed documents, mailed them to prison and then waited for his next request. >> do you think waseem daker is manipulating lottie from prison? >> there's no doubt by sending those letters to him, a convicted murderer, a sociopath, she's opened the door. she's allowed him an opportunity to get back into her life. and we already know that he has
a history of manipulating her. >> is he manipulating you right now into doing exactly what he wants? >> absolutely not. this is a repentive woman who is very remorseful and very sorry for what she has caused. >> but evans says those letters tell another story. he says lottie knew about the bedding and hair evidence long before daker's murder trial started and never said a word about giving any blankets to carmen. >> it wasn't until after she started secretly communicating with the defendant that she then made this broad assertion that, well, i had given some blankets to carmen. the problem with that is i challenged her on it. describe the blankets. tell me which ones they were. she couldn't remember. >> so there's no smoking gun or smoking blankets in this case. >> absolutely. i don't think there are any blankets. i don't think there's any evidence of that. >> on the stand lottie not only recanted her testimony from two trials but described the incredible lengths she's willing
to go to help set daker free. >> so you believe so strongly in this you applied for a second mortgage to help in waseem's defense and you even took out a life insurance policy with naming waseem as the beneficiary? >> my daughter is the beneficiary. she would get a third. my son would get a third. and daker would get a third. but yeah, i would mortgage my house and i would hire him the best defense that he could possibly get. >> despite all of lottie's efforts the fund-raising, the correspondence with daker, the legal research, judge staley didn't buy her new story. she rejected daker's motion for a new trial. >> the right results were reached for the right reasons. i know that we've done things the right way, and i feel confident in the defendant's guilt. >> the ruling included a harsh rebuke of lottie. the judge said she lacked credibility and her new testimony appeared to have been concocted by the defendant. but lottie seemed unbowed, ready
to carry on her fight. >> somebody needs to stand up and say wait a second, justice was not served in this case. >> and on that point lottie's not alone. jason treadaway, taker's shadow attorney during trial, agrees. >> the circumstances of how daker's hair came to be on that bedding, what kind of more pivotal evidence could there possibly be? i believe the man deserves a new trial. >> how can you believe anything lottie says, though, now? >> i think when you have a man's liberty and life at stake you have to believe what she says. how can you at least not allow 12 different people to hear her version now and let them decide if it's true or not? >> are you ever going to give up on waseem? are you in this till all appeals are exhausted? >> yes. i played a role of an innocent man being falsely convicted for crimes he did not do. i've got to make it right. >> in 2016 the georgia supreme court upheld daker's conviction.
he tried to take his appeal all the way to the u.s. supreme court, only to be denied review. >> i have no doubt that waseem daker's a cold-blooded killer and that justice has been served with his conviction. doesn't matter what lottie says. this case is carmine. this case is about nick. >> that's all for this edition of dateline. i'm natalie morales. thank you for watching. i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is "dateline". someone just sucks the life out of you and tells you your dream life isn't going to happen, that wedding you're planning, you don't get to have it. evil exists. evil dwells in people. >> it was a night like this just before halloween, a killing that still haunts.
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