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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  August 22, 2021 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT

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i learned that he was arrested, i was shocked, i was just so confused. i don't think it was real. >> in the rarefied world of the ivy league, he was a total package. star student, gifted athlete, wildly popular, >> he's one of the nicest guys. over, no one could understand how a weekend visit to his parents house. >> ended in gunfire. >> he's already dead.
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>> who's already? did >> my husband. >> charlie told the officers outside he's gonna kill my mom. >> a brave sun protecting his, mom a harrowing story, but was it true? >> he seated behind the, duskier father. yes defenses louis. >> was this campus hero actually a coldhearted killer? >> the defendant sends an email to his fortunately brothers, called showtime. >> or was the truth something completely different? >> one of the things that was always a question, was, was charlie covering up for someone else? >> a trial where nothing went by the book. >> three of the jurors were crying. really hard. >> they're turning around in their seats, they're getting emotional, they see what's coming. he was coming unhinged. >> welcome to dateline.
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charlie tan was an ivy league or with a bright future, and then, charlie's dad was killed in everything changed. police are being told one story. but the evidence was telling them another, and there were also three 9-1-1 calls, in one of them hold the clue that would unlock what really happened on that wintry night? here is dennis murphy, with house of secrets. >> cayuga, cayuga lake in ithaca new york. and it's where you'll find one of the most competitive, most prestigious universities in the nation. cornell, the ivy league big red. more than 13,000 undergrads here, will with good fortune take their places in medicine, the law and the arts.
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there is no doubt a cornell education can be a gold plated entrance ticket to adult life. and only the best move on. students like this man charlie tan, he was so kind his high school classmate featured him in a video random acts of kindness. giving gifts to complete strangers. >> not just a great kid, but the greatest of great kids. >> charlie was the son of chinese immigrants who became mr. everything in his high school. scholar, athlete, class president, the guy with the cool friends. hannah valentine opened up her parents summer lake house to charlie and her other teenage pals. >> he's such a nice guy, he was always happy and energetic. >> personality, the kind of guy that comes in the room tells jokes? >> he's the one that everybody knows, him the room lights up. he starts telling funny stories. >> so you would think that charlie tan was another ivy league overachiever, poised for takeoff and great things to come. but that was not this story. this is about the charlie tan,
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keeper of secrets, and quite possibly something much worse but before all of that, charlie was as deserving a kid's ever got an ivy league acceptance letter. >> he was really excited when he got admitted. it was. awesome >> ivy league? >> yes he was so excited, he was super happy. >> so in the fall of 2013, charlie tan left his parents home near rochester new york, and drove the few hours to cornell his exciting new chapter in his life already filled with over achievements. he pledged a froth. he wasn't big enough for cornell's varsity football team, so at 165 pounds, he was directed towards sprint football team. >> i met charlie the four-day freshman year actually. i just got in my locker, and shirley was one of the first people i met. >> this quarterback, rob,. >> he's one of the most encouraging players i've ever had. >> rob and charlie became not just teammates, but great
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friends. >> he is one of the most generation selfless people i've ever met. >> charlie impressed his teammates and his coach. >> this man touches the lighter weight players. >> good football, player quiet, always had a smile. never late. hard worker. good kid. solid. >> go back to the handsome house in rochester suburbs, where charlie grew up with his teenage years. it's a place called pittsford new york. newspaper reporter knows it well. >> it's a very nice community. it's a picturesque community. >> big lawns, nice cars in the. garage >> yes, big houses. big executives from kodak, xerox, lawyers. >> charlie was the younger of two boys. his parents jim and jean, born in china, lived before moving charlie and his brother to upstate new york. his dad ran a tech business that thrived. the home just radiated upper middle class comfort his friend and i had been there, on occasion. >> i went over to his, house i did know's parents very well i
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talked to his mom a couple of times i didn't really have much conversation with them when we were there. >> little was known about his parents. and charlie didn't have four details if someone. asked if he had secrets, they weren't for the outside world to know about. >> he's very good at, keeping his emotions in. >> i have no idea with the home situation was. like i didn't know before and i don't know now. >> other than a few 9-1-1 dispatchers and a few town officers, the wider community of, friends in charlie chance, certainly knew nothing about the whispers of domestic violence and elaine,, he's a very stoic individual. >> the record is still sealed, but it's safe to say the tan house was known to authorities. go back to cornell, it's the winner of 2015 in charlie is now a sophomore. on a chilly thursday morning he stopped unexpectedly to visit his football coach. there is a soft side to this of
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ex is a nose, in these kids know he'll always be there for them. >> our rule, is if you ever had a problem, come on in, it closed the, door if you need someone to talk to work. here >> now is charlie needed a shoulder or something. i said how you doing, he said good but i can't weigh weightlifting on friday. i said what's the problem, he said i have to go home. >> charlie seemed emotional. clearly something was eating at the student. >> i asked him if there's anything you wanted to talk about. he declined he just said he had to get home. >> it wasn't spring break. class was in session. but charlie got in his car and started the drive to pittsford, 100 miles away. >> the coach did not know if charlie tans life is a student at cornell, would soon be over. >> you can worry about charlie. charlie was squared away. head is act together. knows what he's doing. >> only charlie tan, was not at all okay. it snowed that night. a muffling blinding. covering the home, wear something awful was about to
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happen. >> why did charlie need to rush home? the first sign of trouble, came from a friend's mom who called 9-1-1. coming up. >> he didn't give us a lot of details. i'm just worried that he might do something at his house. >> when dateline continues. house. >> when dateline continues >> when dateline continues ♪ ♪ why hide your skin if dupixent has your moderate-to-severe eczema, or atopic dermatitis under control? hide our skin? not us. because dupixent targets a root cause of eczema, it helps heal your skin from within, keeping you one step ahead of it. and for kids ages 6 and up, that means clearer skin,
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morning, this football coach knew he'd been upset. >> i asked him to call me when he got home, just so i knew he was okay. >> in that very evening, back in new york, charlie spent time in an old friends house where he seemed to his pale, deeply despondent, sad, possibly distressed. not the charlie known since childhood. after charlie, left the friend in his mother were so concerned, they called 9-1-1. was charlie suicidal? >> he didn't give us a lot of details. i'm just worried that he might do something at his house. i don't know if anything's gonna happen, but i just can't take a chance. >> okay well i'm going to have them go to the house and check on him. >> in a deputy just that. this detective of the monroe county sheriff's office. >> charlie told the deputy that he was upset over some things. he had come home to talk to people. and that he was just working out some things in he would be okay. >> it was now late thursday night almost the weekend,
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charlie did not go back to school friday morning come monday he wasn't at practice. >> wasn't really much i could do, other than text him. he didn't respond. >> and then, it was monday night. something awful. >> 9-1-1. center what is the address of the emergency? >> yes, high. >> the color so distraught, confuse the dispatcher. >> my name is jeanne ten. i just i heard an argument in my my son was, talk to my husband. >> ma'am i can't understand anything you're saying. does anyone needed? ambulance >> it was charlie's mother. >> did you say years her to? shot. this someone in the house have a gun? >> now the story was coming into focus. shots fired. the husband. the man of the house was dead. >> he's already dead. my husband. >> your who? >> my husband. >> are you in a safe spot?
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we need you to weigh outside of the house for the police officer safety. >> the detective was soon on route to the lane. he still had a garbled account from the 9-1-1 call. who had shot who? >> he's trying to protect me. >> your son was trying to protect? you yes. >> it looked like it was what we call the domestic murder. something had just occurred. >> on arrival the first deputies on the scene, saw a young man who turned out to be the 19-year-old charlie tan. standing in the driveway with his mother. >> they're outside the? house >> there outside the. house it's a safety thing for the detective, let those people come out, there's no reason to go in. they asked to results was in the. house >> in the next opponents the deputy her to sunday tell a story that sounded like self-defense. he had to shoot he said, to save his mother, he used the shotgun. >> charlie said my dad's in there. he's dead. i had to do. it he was going to hurt my mom. >> the father was shot because
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the boy feels like his mothers in jeopardy? >> yes. >> it's getting late on a frigid february. night the deputies put the sun in the mother and a patrol. car >> i asked him where the shock on. was there was some mention of it being in the garage. >> after securing the weapon, the deputies made their way into the hall. on the second floor, in the home office, they found their victim. >> the husband, the fathers behind the? desk >> he's behind the. dustbin shotgun shells are all right there in that doorway area. >> the detective would quickly learn more about jim tan, father, husband and businessman. >> he owned his own company. they had lived in canada and then move to the united states some years earlier. >> successful executive? >> by all accounts yes. >> but was the successful businessman an abusive husband? detective looked around the household. as crime scene techs processed a shotgun killing upstairs. they came upon an appointment card for jean tend to appear in domestic violence court. so the working theory,
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justifiable homicides made some sense. but the detective was no rookie. his investigation into charlie tan, and what happened inside the home, was just getting started. >> one of the investigators found would appear to be newly taken passport photos. along with a list of prominent local defense attorneys. >> that's interesting. >> yes sir. >> his story, is i had to do. it we are not taking that at face value right. >> correct. >> coming up, a discovery of jim tans computer, triggers suspicions about his time of death. >> so how many days prior is the last? email >> for. that was really a big thing for me. >> when dateline continues. >> when dateline continues >> when dateline continues where everything just seems to go your way. ♪ ♪ you're in good hands with allstate. click or call for a lower auto rate today. charlie's my little sidekick when it you're in good hands comes to projects around the house. but, she disappears on me. i can't see everything she gets into,
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neighborhood, but no one heard the gunshot blast that killed jim tan. but then, this homicide was not a who done it. the sun headed mid, moments after deputies alive that he had been the shooter, he had to do it he said, to protect his mom. >> self-defense is something we will listen, to if that's what happened then the law will bear that out. so we wanted to speak to him, to determine the. >> that same night charlie and his mother were taken down to the station to tell their stories. >> were you able to get a statement from the sun. >> we were not, as layer would not allow us to speak to. him >> his lawyer is already unseen? >> his lawyer was on scene a few minutes after me. >> without the cooperation of
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the middle participants, the mother in the sun, detectives were on their own. it turns out, a very large piece of evidence was waiting to be found right there in their very office. a report from the house and the lane. >> 9-1-1 what's the address for the emergency? >> just two weeks before the emmert can see, it showed the wife placement of their 9-1-1. call >> yes hi my name is jeanne tan. in my husband just beat me up. i need your protection. >> are you injured? >> yes i am. he choked me. and i'm so scared. please. please help. oh he's coming. no. no. please come. please come. >> the dispatcher heard what sounded like an ongoing fight between husband and wife. >> hello. okay. sorry sorry about that. this is confusion. my wife was probably upset at. me >> she's upset it? you >> know you choked. me no i don't be childish.
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it's okay. >> a deputy was sent to the house. and notice jeanne tan, the wife, was clearly rattled. reporter john hand of rochester's democrat and chronicle newspaper. >> they found the gene was still upset. she had some red marks on her mark. but there was not enough there to charge jim tan with a crime. >> so, incident. over >> that night. yes >> he tried to killer but nothing results in terms of charges or makes it into the paperwork. >> correct. >> a history of abuse it appears. if that were the case, charlie had told no one in his circle at cornell university. upon campus, coach colin had not heard from charlie in days. and now his phone rang. >> campus police called me up and asked me to come to his house which i did. they wanted me to know that charlie's father had been killed. >> it was rugged, we have a bunch of players in the
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fraternity. and everybody was obviously very upset. >> charlie admitted that he shot his father to death. >> i think it was probably disbelief more than shock, that this occurred. >> we had a team meeting about it. but immediately after, there was so much support for him, and everyone was amazed by the support. >> from the get-go there was no debate. the entire frye and team had charlie's back. >> not just the spring football team, but everybody on cornell's campus that he knew well. we showing support for him. everyone was trying to help him. and ask if there's anything we can do for him. >> to his friends at home, there was shock of course there too. and yet the heartbreaking story of charlie tanned, protecting his mom by any means necessary, made some kind of weird sense. it was after all the kid who is always trying hard to help. >> people talk about him being selfless. >> he lives to help other people i don't know if that
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sheer experience or not. >> his close friend and i had a hard time wrapping your head around surely doing anything violent that surely she knew, was a thoughtful kid who did things no ordinary teenager would do. >> my mom went through the cancer, and he was always there. he brought her gifts and stuff. he was always there supporting anybody. >> so in a two, would be there supporting charlie for this difficult time. a friend to the end. >> neither she nor anyone else could have guessed where the investigation was heading next. that the detectives who was on the scene that night was wondering if there's more to the story. it was all obvious right away that there was something off with the working theory of the crime. a heat of passion, self-defense homicide. >> we were there for hours, obviously searching every bit. one of the things that was noticed by one of the investigators is just, you know, the dried blood that was all over. >> dried blood. the timeline in the whole story, in fact demanded a closer look. >> it's certainly one of the
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things it starts to get your attention. hang on, there might be more. let's make sure we're on the right path. here >> and there were other observations is that their timeline back. on jim tans desktop computer, where he'd been working when he was killed, there were an open emails going back before the weekend. >> jim is treating some emails with an employee and then at some point after that, he clearly stops using his computer. he is no longer sending, he is no longer opening. >> and as detectives poked around the office monday night. >> how many days prior is the last email? check >> for, for days. that was really a big thing for me. this is a guy who ran his own company with employees and activity. >> going back four days, that put the shooting back to that thursday night, that charlie came home from cornell. in a four-day old crime scene would also explain what had been obviously to this season detectives noses. >> the odor of decomposition was very strong. >> detective now believe the
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emotional 9-1-1 call was bogus. a charade. >> he said you heard a shot? >> his mother was in peril, and he had to shoot the husband. but now you're saying this might be days earlier what's going on here, right? >> correct. that first inference from the 9-1-1 call and from which early said to the driveway to the deputies, seemed to be and confrontation with what we were starting to see inside. >> down at the sheriff's office, jeanne tan, the mother, was released from custody. but not charlie. the 19 year old ivy league or was charged with second degree murder. >> what did you think? anna >> i was shocked i was so confused about it. i didn't think it was real. i didn't think it was possible. >> charlie tan, the nice boy, the great kid, if convicted was facing 25 years to life in prison. coming up, store video shows the gun that killed charlie's father being purchased. but it's not charlie buying it.
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>> new name altogether. here >> correct. >> and then the strange thing charlie did before his mom place the 9-1-1 call. >> the defendant sends an email to his fraternity brothers called showtime. >> when dateline continues. when dateline continues when dateline continues if you can help heal your skin from within. with dupixent adults saw long-lasting, clearer skin and 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. talk to your doctor about dupixent. okay people. oh yeah. let us begin. people!!! less with the puns. more about the moms. they want healthy, affordable options. moms want to save that dough. hold onto that green. enough with the puns! land o'frost premium. fresh look. same great taste. discomfort back there? instead of using aloe, land o'frost premium.
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melvin. i shot his father to save his mother, but investigators were
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finding fallacies in that. story the ivy league student had been arrested and had been faced with second-degree murder charges. once this killing, or justifiable homicide, here again is dennis murphy with house of secrets. >> anna valentine was in a state of disbelief when she learned that her close friend charlie tan was arrested. >> did you have a chance to talk to him in a period? >> he called me on the phone, actually, from jail. so, i talk to him a couple of times. >> and i did not sit around she was going to do whatever she could to defend her friend because she knew that there was no way charlie could do anything wrong. >> you did something remarkable, you pulled together a whole community behind charlie. >> yeah. >> and i started a defense fun supporting charlie. >> and it just spread like crazy, i had no clue what was going to happen. >> you just threw out there on the net? >> yeah. i put up the page and told my friends i did it and people i had not even heard of were supporting him. people from the community,
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everyone was doing. >> how much money did you raise? >> about $50,000. >> why did people come out of the woodwork to support charlie? >> he has just been one of the nicest guys ever. i think everybody knew that, and was just wanting to do anything that they could to get back to him. charlie would give everything back to people, if somebody needed something. he would've been the want to give it to them. >> reporter john ham was working nonstop on one of the most talked about stories that the county is seen in years. >> now it's an investigation for you? a great ivy league kid blows away his life in a nice neighborhood. what is going on? >> we were astonished. it so many times that you have a murder suspect who a bunch of people from pittsburgh are rallying around. >> the case had caught the hearts and minds of the community they could not imagine this exceptional young man in prison. and lawyers and surgeons, political -- these are big powerful people in new york state. who are behind this kid. >> yeah. >> we wish that did not happen, but the drug kid deserves a
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break. some of that feeling around? >> the community feel very strongly. the sworn representative of the people in the murder case found herself in an odd spot. >> the biggest problem one -- he did appear to be, you know, an upstanding showman. >> monroe county district attorney, sandra gore lee. >> from the very beginning people were disappointed that an indictment was filed against charlie tan, and that they were taking this to court, but you know, we have to prosecute people who violate the laws of our state. >> assistant da bill gardner violated the case in court. he told the jury that yes, charlie tan was a high achiever, a bright young man who always went the extra mile for friends. >> and perhaps he wanted toho aw succeed as charlie tan and solve all the problems that were occurring on coachside lane. >> helping his mother.
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>> helping his mother. >> by killing his father. that was the solution. >> that was our theory, yes. the gun was found at the murder scene. his fingerprints are on the ammo, his mother, mother saying my son did it. and charlie saying he had to do it. >> but, did he have to do it? that was the key question. and the prosecution said no. this was no justifiable homicide. this was an execution. in fact, the weapon, a.12 gauge remington shotgun, had been purchased just for the killing. it had just been bought from a walmart near cornell. >> so we sent investigators down there, and as they began to look into that, they found that the gun had been purchased by a young man named whitney knickerbocker. >> newly purchased. >> newly purchased. >> by a new name all together here. >> right. >> it had taken place february 2015, the same day charlie left
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cornell. the store had surveillance video of charlie's friend and fellow fraternity brother buying the shotgun, video that was shown to the jury. the frat brother was never accused of having anything to do with the killing.charlie had apparently convinced him to help buy a gun. >> friends say that whitney was told by charlie that he was going to go on a hunting trip so he asked whitney to help him. >> of course the prosecution says there was no hunting trip, charlie was planning a murder. in fact, before he got the friend to buy the weapon, surveillance footage showed just how intent he was on getting one. hours earlier, there's charlie. >> charlie's on video going into the walmart, attempting to purchase the shotgun. he is unable to. >> why is he turned down? why can't he buy the shotgun? >> he's a canadian citizen. >> which would require a waiting period, time he didn't have. >> so he gets the friend to
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come in and make the purchase. >> that was our theory, yes. >> it's hard to put together a heat of passion scenario, mom's in jeopardy, if you purchase the weapon in advance. >> correct. >> and the prosecutor told the jury there was no evidence of a fight that evening. >> if you look at the exact moment of the killing, jim tan is just sitting at his desk. >> sitting at his desk answering e-mails. >> answering e-mails, working to, you know, provide a living and a pretty good living for his family. >> in fact, the medical examiner testified that as jim tan sat behind his desk in his home office, he was shot three times about the chest and face. the last shot the coup de grace. >> medical examiners still believe jim tan was alive when that was inflicted right to his face. >> the prosecutors believe it was that same night, the same night that one of charlie's friends sent a deputy to the tan home to check on charlie's welfare. it's possible that when the boy answered the door
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his dad was already dead inside. but no one from the tan home called 911, rather, charlie and his mom grabbed their passports and fled the country. >> jean tan and charliettan left the country, went to canada and came back on that monday before the 911 call was placed. >> so why come back and tell a lie? the prosecution didn't know. a guess, perhaps someone had to run jim tan's business. and this last tidbit, before that four days late 911 call, charlie took the time to first send an e-mail warning to his fraternity brothers. they would soon "hear things". >> he sends an e-mail called "showtime". >> you're going to be hearing from law enforcement. >> yes, yes, you will be surprised. showtime. >> jurors don't buy the self-defense. this was no crime of passion. it was a planned murder. so this is an
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assassination. >> yes. >> he walks in and blows dad away. >> exactly. >> the prosecution rested. the defense team was up next, and they were about to lay out a head-spinning theory of the crime from seemingly another universe no one saw coming. coming up, the defense drops a bombshell. >> one of the things that was always a question of ours was, was charlie covering up for someone else? arvana, i can finally breathe easy, buying my car 100% online without any tense negotiation. smells like the internet. shop now at when i'm not racing, i'm personalizing, just like how carvana lets you personalize your financing. you can customize your down payment and monthly payment in a matter of minutes for some truly dazzling results. financing has never felt so fabulous.
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in this courthouse, where you'd routinely expect lots of supporters for the victim, there were none. >> there was no one mourning the victim. the representative from the district attorney's office, i sat with her the whole time. >> there was some thought that the victim deserved what was coming to him. >> people who wouldn't ordinarily advocate homicide, would said if he did it he did it. his father deserved it. >> his friends surrounded him protectively. he had all but a cheering section with pompons. >> i think having all the support made him feel so much stronger, he knew we were all there for him no matter what. >> his friend anna was on the witness list, so she wasn't allowed to sit inside the courtroom until the end. >> i went as much as i could between classes. >> how was he putting up with it? >> some days were harder than
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others. some days he seemed good. >> charlie would sit in court while they would build a case. playing the tape of jean tan calling the cops two weeks before the shooting. >> my husband just beat me up. i need your protections. >> are you injured? >> yes, he choke me, and i'm so scared. >> defense attorney james nobles thought the 911 recording spoke volumes about that household. >> it was almost as if we were put in the hell that charlie lived in for a brief moment. and the hell that jean lived in for a brief moment. >> and they kept piling on. jim tan continued the defense wasn't just a bully at home. his employees testified about the abuse they, too, encountered in the work place. >> every other person who
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worked with jim tan said he was miserable, behaved like a child, he would bully people, was nasty at work. >> so a son defending his abused mother was a defense no-brainer strategy that seemed to require little assembly. the other defense lawyer, brian decarlos. >> i think most people that looked at this case said the only defense is self-defense or some hybrid of, you know, a battered child syndrome. >> but as the trial progressed, that wasn't the attack charlie's defense team planned. >> our strategy was to keep our strategic defense in our back pocket, hidden from the prosecution as long as we possibly could. >> so what was the secret defense? they were going to agree with the prosecution on one point, that when jean called 911 to report her husband dead, the murder was days old. >> that call is 100% fake, there's no question about it. >> not only was the mom lying to 911 about when the murder
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occurred. no, argued the defense, she was lying about something much bigger, who the true killer was. the defense attorney saved his surprise for a closing argument. >> it was an unusual moment, because certainly, i knew there were many friends and supporters of jean tan in the courtroom, and i was going to basically suggest to these jurors that she had pulled the trigger. >> jean tan, the mom, the wife, the true killer. the defense said the shotgun was in her hand. she pulled the trigger. she solved her own problem, not her son. that was the story the defense saved for the 11th hour. >> not an easy thing to do in a packed courtro >> the prosecutor seemed caught off guard. >> he addressed charlie directly. he said something to the effect of charlie, your lawyer is calling your mother a lawyer. and he picked up the shotgun. and he approached the
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jury very, very closely with it. and he was trying to make a point, a very passionate point. >> brandishing the murder weapon as a prop did not sit well with the judge. >> we knew what he had done exactly what we wanted to do. we had totally taken him by surprise. >> as the defense saw, the mom did it theory did explain where charlie sent his front brothers before the 9-1-1 call, email called showtime. the email implied that the story to come might not be the real one. it went on to say this. >> the real truth will come out one day, and you're gonna know what really happened. one of the things that was always a question, always a concern of ours was, was truly covering up for someone else? >> in court, assistant prosecutor bill gardner appeared caught off guard, and stressed that when he rose to make his closing arguments. >> he addressed charlie directly. he said something to the effect of, charlie, your lawyer is calling your mother a killer who picked up a shotgun, move quickly across the room and the approach the jury very closely with it, and he's trying to make a point, in a very passionate point. >> vanishing the murder weapon
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as a prop did not sit well with judge who told prosecutor to calm down. >> frankly, we knew that at that point we had it done exactly what we wanted to do. we are totally taken in by surprise. >> after a week of testimony, the case went to the jury. out in the hallway, tv cameras dogged charlie's every move. >> he knows his life is hanging in the balance. that's a tough thing for anybody to go through. >> but he had the unwavering support of team charlie. they all waited with charlie at deliberations began and spilled over into a second day and then another. >> every day we'd show up to court being, like, oh, is it going to happen today. everybody was super nervous. and charlie was, i was. >> because if it goes in an adverse way for you and charlie, he's going to be led off and you wouldn't see him for a long long time. >> yeah, it was hard to imagine that. >> she is a jury sitting on the case. >> i'm not sure anybody felt
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bad for jim tan, but everybody did recognize that the way he died was still a crime. >> both the prosecution and defense had agreed that charlie's fingerprints were on the ammo. >> but did he actually pull the trigger? or did he load the gun and give it to his mom and say here you go. that was the biggest point of contention. >> she was ready to vote guilty. the panel of 12 was far from unanimous. >> eight people guilty. four people not guilty. >> a stalemate, an impasse seemed to be at hand. but still they talked. >> three of the jurors were crying really hard, because they didn't want to think that he was guilty, but they couldn't ignore it at that point. >> the local media asked prosecutor gargen for updates. >> i don't have experience with a jury out this long. >> on day eight, after 50 hours of deliberations, the jury told the judge they were hopelessly deadlocked. the judge declared
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a mistrial. >> that didn't mean it was over for charlie by any stretch. >> no, it just meant there was a long road ahead. >> a long road with another trial, another set of court dates, another jury to go through the same set of facts, unless that wasn't what was going to happen at all. coming up. an entire courtroom gets the shock of a lifetime. >> he was becoming unhinged. >> when "dateline" extra continues. inues. there's no telling what we might bundle! homeandautobundle xtravafestasaveathon! bundle cars, trucks, colonials, bungalows, and that weird hut your uncle lives in. so strike up the homeandautobundle xtravafestasaveathon band for the deal that started forever ago and will probably never end. homeandautobundle xtravafestasaveathon. -say it with me. -homeandautobundle-- no one's leaving till you say it right.
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case, declares a mistrial. >> even though the case was over for, now the charlie tan mistrial was big news in russia. >> they cannot come to a consensus. >> everyone was talking to the media, including the judge, who is running for state supreme court. >> would you be presiding is judge? again >> i believe i would because the pace is been assigned to me and that's the normal protocol. the lawyers on both side shared thoughts and doing it all over again. >> it's a murder, charge it's not a petty marks the courage. we recognize the da's office is not going to walk away from a homicide. >> from your perspective in a new trial, how will it look differently? better for me. that's how it will look differently. >> unfortunately for chilies attorneys, they had already played their surprise defense.
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>> mom really did it. >> frankly we have to face this like it's a new case starting today. >> in november 2015, just weeks after the trial ended, both sides were back in the same, court before the same judge judge pam piano, who just two days earlier won the supreme court seat. it was a routine hearing, to top three trial. >> you are expecting the senate calendar day we were figuring maybe january child >> this reporter, who had been there for the entire trial, was in attendance, to there's a number of charlie's friends there we saw from roughly four or five a porters, the gangs all here. and the judge said, we have to address the motion for -- that's a common motion made by most defense attorneys when they asked the judge to throw out a case. especially due to lack of evidence. >> everyone thought this would be an order of business quickly dispatched, and the judge would
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move on to setting a new trial day. >> then he starts talking about the lack of evidence, regarding the possession of the gun, and surely ever having the gun. lack of evidence that the fingerprints were found on the shelves upstairs but that didn't indicate that he ever shot it. i looked at another reported, who i know and i said what's going on? here >> charlie's lawyers had a glimmer about where this was going. >> i leaned in detail easier and i told him, something good is about to happen. >> the assembled press could not believe where the judge was setting. >> you're holding your breath and you're going, he's about to dismiss this case, the biggest case we've had in years and years, a case that jurors deliberate and on for 50 hours. the second degree murder. case >> the assistant prosecutor saw the train wreck ahead it wasn't at all pleased, he grabbed the mic. >> can i speak? and the judge said very quickly know you may not. he continued to speak. and the judge said, i'll put you in handcuffs. >> the judge to the district attorney? >> i've never seen that before,
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and i'll push in handcuffs. in a court deputy walks up behind the prosecutor, not the defendant. >> he was interrupting, he was becoming unhinged. >> after the dramatics with the prosecutor, the judge did finishes thought. he throughout the entire case against charlie. a judicial ruling that meant the case could not be re-prosecuted, or retried. >> it was a big win for charlie. he was ecstatic. >> outside the courtroom, the media was waiting for charlie, the former defendant who had not yet spoke to reporters. >> now you'll talk, to us? right >> back, up back up please. >> and before we get a chance to talk to, him his defense lawyer assured him out down the. hallway >> what did you? think did you take it all? and i'm not sure how he took it all. and >> i'm not sure i took it all and at first. >> that this is. over >> it was exciting. everyone was so happy. everyone was in tears. >> not quite everyone, the assistant da was fuming. >> were you willing to get arrested over?
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this >> absolutely. i was more than willing to have hand clubs play, stymied argue my point. because i did not cross any lines. >> what recourse do you have? >> there is no appeal. that i know of. >> so charlie tan is free. >> that's it. there is no appeal as of right from this trial of dismissal, because there has not been a verdict by the jury. >> the event did not happen. >> correct. >> so, in the people versus charlie tan, you had to cynically wonder whether the son's vocal supporters carried the day from outside the courtroom. >> you're talking about division in the community. some of them think the golden ivy league boy was able to kill his father and get away with. it >> yes. there's a question what does affluence by you in the courtroom. >> charlie's mother, according to the district attorney, will not be prosecuted. because there's never been any evidence to show she is responsible for the murder. >> could've been the? mother >> i look at a 12 gauge shotgun, she was a small woman.
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i don't know if she was capable of even being able to discharge that kind of weapon. >> the only two people who know what happened in that house, charlie and his mother, have stayed mom all this time. neither was ever interviewed by police, neither have spoken publicly. >> people will say this is a kid who killed his father and got off. people will also say no it isn't. they couldn't prove. you have two groups of people who say, i don't care what happened, i'm never sending this 19-year-old cornell student. prison >> the mom and brother are running the company jim tan started. as for, charlie is the okay? >> yes he seems ok. he's very positive. >> he's a great kid, a smart student, a very popular kid who's done well in succeeded in all things he's been in. and it's time to move on. we all welcome him with open arms. >> but that didn't happen. the authorities were not done with charlie. he had been living back in canada, but when he tried to cross into the united states to attend a friends wedding in september 2017, charlie was arrested.
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he was then indicted in federal court, charged with receiving a firearm in interstate commerce, intending to use it to commit a felony. and, two counts of false statements at the time of the purchase. the alleged purchase happened four days before his father shooting. in june 2018, charlie pleaded guilty to each of the three charges. he was sentenced to 20 years. then in november 2019, a new defense attorney asked the court to vacate charlie sentence on the grounds of any effective council. in his filing, surely admitted he killed his father. but insisted he did it only to protect his mother from his dad's escalating abuse. information the new lawyer argued, should have been presented a sensing in his young life, he pleased everybody his coaches, his teachers, his devoted friends. outwardly happy, inwardly no one really knew finally, courtesy of charlize 11 page affidavit in his own words, we
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got an answer to the question, who shot and killed jim. and enduring mystery put to rest. >> that's all for this edition of dateline. i'm craig melvin. thanks for watching. watching. very bubbly personality. huge smile. it's a child's worst nightmare to lose a mom. every day i wanted answers. every day was told it was unknown. people don't just die. >> she was a loving mother. he was a crime fighting prosecutor. >> you are a pillar of that community. >> i did when i thought was right. >> then one day the law was at his door. >> his wife was dead, in bed >> her eyes were not open, she was pale. >> i just remember crying and not believing it.


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