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The Murder Trial of Doctor Dirk Greineder

Aired June 20, 2001 - 12:30   ET


GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, CO-HOST: A doctor on trial for murder takes the witness stand and testifies about the last moments of his wife's life.


DR. DIRK GREINEDER, MURDER DEFENDANT: I tried to take her pulse again, I think. I know I looked in her eyes. And I couldn't even tell if the pupils were moving, because it was too hard. So then I pulled up her shirt, thinking I would hear a heartbeat with my -- if I just put my ear to her chest.

I mean, I saw the wound, but I couldn't get a heartbeat. I knew she was gone, but it just -- I didn't believe it.


VAN SUSTEREN: Prosecutors paint a picture of a secret double life involving prostitutes and Internet pornography, which allegedly contributed to the murder of Mabel Greineder.

Today on BURDEN OF PROOF: Dr. Dirk Greineder faces cross- examination.

ANNOUNCER: This is BURDEN OF PROOF, with Greta Van Susteren and Roger Cossack.

VAN SUSTEREN: Hello and welcome to BURDEN OF PROOF.

Boston Doctor Dirk Greineder took the witness stand this morning for another day of emotional cross-examination. Greineder is on trial for the murder of his wife. Prosecutors say he stabbed and bludgeoned her to death as they took a stroll through a neighborhood park on the morning of October 31, 1999.

ROGER COSSACK, CO-HOST: Greineder's defense: Well, the two became separated on the morning walk and a stranger killed his wife. Prosecutors allege that the doctor killed his wife, Mabel, because she discovered his secret double life of prostitution and solicitation for sex over the Internet.


MARTIN MURPHY, GREINEDER'S ATTORNEY: Before this trial started, had you ever seen this hammer before?


MURPHY: On Saturday, October 30, when you went to the -- Morse's Pond, did you bring this knife and hide it?


MURPHY: Before this trial started, had you ever seen this knife before?


MURPHY: On Saturday, October 30, Doctor, did you bring two brown work gloves to Morse's Pond and hide them?

GREINEDER: No, I did not.


VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us today from Boston is criminal defense attorney Henry Owens -- also in Boston, former Massachusetts prosecutor Wendy Murphy.

COSSACK: And in Atlanta, Patrick Coffey, a forensic scientist specializing in blood stain pattern analysis -- and from New York, Court TV's Catherine Crier, the host of "Catherine Crier Live."

OK, host of "Catherine Crier Live," help us out. The doctor's been on the witness stand for a few days, been going through cross- examination. Is he getting his point across? How's he doing?

CATHERINE CRIER, HOST, "CATHERINE CRIER LIVE": Well, during the direct examination, I thought he was very impressive: emoted at the right time, very serious, logical in his answers, not intimidated, didn't seem to be so by the prosecutor. But over time, it seemed to me he was wearing down a bit.

And this morning we heard the recross-examination, where the prosecutor really got into him about motive. That has been the big hole here. People saying sex in and of itself through the Internet and with prostitutes isn't a motive. But he really began to push him, trying to, I think, illicit sort of a splitting up this man's character, that the activity became more frenzied, on the Internet all night, more activity, maybe trying to imply to the jury that this guy was literally about to explode when the incident occur.

VAN SUSTEREN: Catherine, take me back for a second. Tell me who this doctor is, what kind of practice he had, what the marriage was like.

CRIER: Well, a very well-known, nationally renounced allergist, asthma doctor, 32 years married to Mabel Greineder. Apparently, from his testimony and the testimony of the children, this was a good relationship. The wife's sister actually testified to a bit of difficulty, but she was never able to pinpoint sort of fights and trauma and divorce. But, you know, obviously she's sitting on the other side of the courtroom. She's not with the kids, not supporting the family and has been giving him some serious looks. So she obviously believes this man is guilty.

The children have been supporting him tremendously. His older daughter, who is also a doctor by the name of Kirsten, was the first witness called by the defense, gave a -- should I say, a wonderful performance, when we're analyzing someone on the stand -- very much in control, describing a lovely family, a loving father, a good relationship.

But you had some holes in the testimony. And you had moments where she obviously had talked to her father about things like DNA transfer shortly after the murder. She had talked about things that would be an unusual conversation in any circumstance. So there are things for the prosecutor to work on.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, one of things that -- you know, obviously, it, you know, attracted my attention. This is maybe the sort of the salacious -- and I don't know if this came into evidence or not, but she was murdered on October 31. The next day, the evidence is that he went out and talked to a prostitute. Did he secure her services?

CRIER: Well, it's interesting because this was, again, the subject of the recross-examination, because he insists that he left her a message, that, in fact, he had called her before the murder for her services, but then called back because he didn't want her ringing the cell phone that his children had that would clue them in to this relationship.

So he was going to call and leave her a message, say: family crisis. Stay away.

The prosecutor comes back and says, "Well, now tell me" -- because he's got the phone logs and the time the guy was on -- "you say you left her -- you left no message, did you? She's got an answering service. There was no message." And the doctor sort of stumbled through and put his head down and said, "I left a message." And that was the last question.

COSSACK: Catherine, there are some holes here regarding DNA -- or at least alleged holes. There's an argument about his explanation of the DNA. What is this all about? He claims that the reason that she had scratched his back earlier in the morning, and that perhaps is why his DNA is under her fingernails.

CRIER: Well, Roger, it's extraordinary, because this is something that the trial lawyers are certainly looking at. Or are there no explanations? Are there too many explanations? And we have heard about him giving her a back rub, but he'd never scratch her back. But maybe he accidentally scratched her back. We've heard about a double nosebleed, that they both had a nosebleed and shared this towel. We heard even that maybe she had picked up one of his used kleenexes and put it in her pocket as an excuse for mucus of his actually transferring DNA. And that maybe then his DNA got on her body, the murderer got his off her body. And that's why his were showing up on things like the gloves.

VAN SUSTEREN: Henry, you're our resident masters of defense attorneys. A double nosebleed, sort of like: What are the odds? This transference seemed rather thin as well. What are you going to do with something like that?

HENRY OWENS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I guess the problems they are confronting with as defense counsel, you have to come up with a reason, or to tell something to this jury that: This is what really happened.

And you have to deal with the facts you are given. It may sound a little bit incredulous that both of them had double nosebleeds on the same morning, but you have to come up with a reason for him to tell the jury: This is what really happened. And I think he...

VAN SUSTEREN: They better have had nosebleeds together some other time or something to corroborate that -- or both be on blood thinner or something. I mean, the odds are -- I mean, that's the kind of thing -- Henry, I got to tell you, you got a hard time with that one.

OWENS: You have a hard time with it, but he had to come up with something to say, "This is why this blood was found where it was found," because DNA is a very important aspect of this case. And as a doctor, he had to come up with something that this jury could say, "Oh, that's really what happened" and try to convince them that he is right and the government is wrong.

COSSACK: Henry, here's the problem: If you can't convince Greta on this one, they may have a problem with a jury. Let's take a break.

The Greineder defense team put the doctor on the stand so jurors could hear directly from him. But that also opened the door for cross-examination by the prosecution. So how did the doctor do on that cross-examination? Let's find out more. Don't go away.


Aaron Sorkin, creator and executive producer of "The West Wing," was spared a felony conviction and jail time for drug possession by agreeing to enter a drug treatment program. Sorkin was arrested in April at an airport, carrying what security officers identified as rock cocaine, marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms.



(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICK GRUNDY, PROSECUTOR: Who called May's older sister to inform her of the death on October 31, 1999?

GREINEDER: I -- to best of my recollection, Rick, a member of my family.

GRUNDY: And on October 31st, 1999 you loved May.

GREINEDER: I love May now.

GRUNDY: And Rick was making those calls. And on November 1st, you loved May, too. Isn't that correct, sir?

GREINEDER: I love her now.

GRUNDY: And you called who on November 1st?

GREINEDER: I called Miss Julio.

GRUNDY: Thank you.


COSSACK: This morning, Boston area doctor Dirk Greineder took the witness stand for the third day of his testimony. Greineder is on trial for first degree murder. He's accused of killing his wife.

Wendy, one of the most difficult, difficult decisions that a lawyer can do -- defense lawyer can do -- and I know you've been on both sides, is that decision to put that defendant on the witness stand. You know, it's fraught with danger and there's always 20/20 hindsight. Do you think there's anyway in this case that Dr. Greineder could not have taken the witness stand?

WENDY MURPHY, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS PROSECUTOR: I -- Roger, I don't think so, and frankly, he had nothing to lose because the forensic case is so strong. It is absolutely rare and you're right, most defense attorneys would say don't testify, you have Fifth Amendment right not to. The jury won't be allowed to use it against you and it can only hurt.

But in a case like this where Dirk Greineder's best defense is the myth that wealthy, Ivy League educated doctors from Wellesley. Massachusetts are not capable of slicing their wife's throats and bashing their heads in with a hammer. Because that's his best defense he had no choice but to get to stand to exploit that, and that's exactly what he's been doing.

The question is, is the jury buying it? And if they buy the forensic evidence, they will be repulsed by his performance. And Catherine had it absolutely right. It was a performance. His face was down. The tears weren't coming. The sob -- we heard the sobs but there were no tears. This was a crocodile performance, a crocodile tear performance where, in addition to not looking at the jury when he was talking about the murder he'd then turn around, sit up straight and stare right at the jury when he was talking about more benign things, about their lives together.

It's not -- you know, the jury has got to judge his demeanor. They've got to look in his eyes and say, "is he telling us the truth?" He refused to give them that opportunity by looking down and avoiding their stare. They're not going to like him very much.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, Wendy, I don't even know if they have to look at his performance or his demeanor.

Let me go back to Catherine for one second on this particular issue, because I think the forensic evidence may sort of -- just sort of trump all of this.


CRIER: You're talking about the spatter.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I'll talk to about that. But let me ask you this quick question on the -- that she was -- obviously, since she was stabbed, she was -- there was a bloodbath. No blood on his hands, yet on his jacket.

What's the prosecution's theory on that? And how does the defense attempt to diffuse it?

CRIER: You know, the prosecution's theory fits very nicely with the evidence, and that is that he wore those gloves and sure enough...

VAN SUSTEREN: What gloves?

CRIER: The gloves that were found in the storm drain that has his DNA on the inside, at least one out of 20,000. And so he's got these clean hands all the way through. And then sure enough, when I'm talking about the spatter, it's not only on the tennis shoes -- and we know it's impact spatter -- but also there is a print on his eyeglasses reflecting the little plastic nubs that we heard about from the glove manufacturer this morning that were on these gloves. Interesting, isn't it, that these little dots of blood would appear on his gloves, but those hands pristine?


VAN SUSTEREN: Was there any indication he bought those gloves?


VAN SUSTEREN: Obviously, the DNA in the glove, one in 20,000 isn't good for the defense. That certainly links him to it. But is there more evidence to suggest...

COSSACK: Yes, they hook him to that. They hook him to those gloves, don't they?

CRIER: Well, he's got the matching gloves that appeared in the doghouse, up on a rafter. He's got -- you know, one was in storm drain and one close -- relatively close to the van. Also, these were gloves distributed by this hardware store close to his home. And either you've got the link there with the hammer. The hammer was bought literally a minute after some nails that are tagged to the doctor.

So you've got a distributor right there in his home for all of the various items. You've got the loaf pan that shows up on site with a shrink wrap that appeared in his trash that matched that loaf pan. I mean, the physical evidence is just extraordinary.

COSSACK: Henry, what do you do with...


COSSACK: Poor Henry. Henry, what do you do in this situation? I mean, there -- obviously the doctor -- what is the -- is the defense -- has suggested that, look, you know, these kinds of Harvard -- or these kinds of educated doctors just wouldn't kill their wife. And look, his three wonderful children are here to tell you -- and forget everything else?

OWENS: I think what you have to look at -- this was a case that No. 1, the prosecution would not have accepted a plea to manslaughter. It was a case that the doctor had to go to trial. He had no alternative. Therefore, you take the facts and you try to present the best defense you can.

I think having those three children in the front row every day -- I love you, Dad -- supporting him was very, very important. You have a defendant who's articulate, intelligent. Hopefully he would be a good witness in front of that jury.

I disagree a little bit with his demeanor looking down, not developing eye contact with jurors. But you have to understand, these are the facts. What do we do with those facts? And I think right now the defense attorney is doing the best he can with the facts he has to work with.

MURPHY: You know, I...

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me hold you for one second, Wendy because we got to take a break. But I'm just reminded of -- a judge once said to me, trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. But when we come back: more evidence -- how the sneakers, the doctor's glasses and blood-stained patterns have shaped the prosecution's case against Dirk Greineder. Don't go away.


Q: A New York appeals court ruled unanimously against New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in what legal matter?



(BEGIN Q&A) A: His quest to bring his girlfriend into Gracie Mansion. His estranged wife and children still live in the home.


VAN SUSTEREN: Dr. Dirk Greineder is on trial for the murder of his wife. Much of the evidence in this case involves the defendant's clothes and the blood spatter on them. And we're lucky to have with us Patrick Coffey, who is an expert in blood spatter analysis.

First of all, what is that blood spatter analysis?

PATRICK COFFEY, BLOODSTAIN PATTERN ANALYST: That's just where you examine blood stains to determine sequence of events. You can determine the number of blows to an individual. You can determine the direction of force. All that...

VAN SUSTEREN: Can you determine how it got there?

COFFEY: Well, in certain cases you can determine how it got there. A lot of times it's for elimination purposes only. If blood is there, then you need to explain why it's there and how it got there.

COSSACK: Mr. Coffey, in the sense of how the blood got -- where the blood was with Dr. Greineder and where it wasn't, is that an important factor in this case?

COFFEY: Yes, it's very important, not only as to where it was but the types of stains that were found, especially on his shoes. Impact spatter, you have to be very close to the action, close to the incident for you to receive impact spatter.

COSSACK: What is impact spatter? What is it? What is that?

COFFEY: That is blood spatter that's produced from some type of force. And it's usually characterized by measurements of -- the droplets would be in measurements of five millimeters or less in diameter. And the smaller the diameter of the stain itself indicates the higher velocity or impact in which it was received.

COSSACK: Now what would cause that? For example, in this case, one of the things that the doctor is accused of doing is cutting his wife's throat. Is that the kind of act that would cause the kind of spatter you are describing?

COFFEY: It's possible that that would cause it. We would normally classify that as arterial spurting or arterial gushing for a slit throat. However, for blunt force trauma to the head would be very common with what was found on his shoes.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Wendy, let me pull you completely out of character. I'm going to make you a defense attorney for a moment.

Forget the fact that he's got his three children sitting in the front row and Henry thinks that may be his best defense at this point. Is there anything in the physical evidence that, you know, that suggests someone else? Or is there any evidence anyone else would have any motive to kill her?

MURPHY: Well, let me give two answers. One is there is some DNA that has appeared in various places that is unexplained or it was untestable or it came up inconclusive. But of course, you have to remember that those are some pieces of the blood evidence or other forensic evidence.

There's clearly enough to implicate Dr. Greineder, but the defense will focus on the fact that there's also this inexplicable evidence as well. And the defense did get permission from Judge Chernoff prior to trial to mention in its opening -- and I'm sure this will come up as well again and again -- that there were two other homicides as yet unsolved in nearby towns. It's not quite next door, but nearby. They involved older people when they were on walks. And they -- the defense has been allowed to talk about that. But there's no real physical connection between those cases and this case. So I'm not sure how much the defense can gain from relying on that to demonstrate reasonable doubt.

VAN SUSTEREN: Henry, a major problem with the fact this man had been involved in prostitutes and the Internet and pornography and maybe perhaps putting naked pictures of himself on the Internet. How, as a defense lawyer, do you diffuse that so the jury doesn't -- so they're not sort of disgusted by him at the outset?

OWENS: Well, I think the defense attorney in this case, in his opening argument said, "Listen, my person may not be the perfect husband. He was unfaithful. But that does not mean he killed his wife."

So somehow he had to convey that to the jurors. Let them know that there is something about him that many people are going to find most disgusting but he did not kill his wife. And I think that's the spin that you had to put on the extramarital sex.

MURPHY: But it helps water down the best defense he has, which is that he's the kind of person that doesn't do this sort of thing. And the myth that society believes is true, which is that...

OWENS: That is true but...

MURPHY: ... wealthy doctors don't do this.

OWENS: But in this case, there was such overwhelming evidence. I mean he's on the Internet...

MURPHY: I love to hear you say that, Henry.

COSSACK: All right, let me jump...

OWENS: That's the problem in this case.

COSSACK: Let me jump in here a second and go back to Patrick again. Patrick, the issue here seems to be that they have found Mrs. Greineder's blood on his jacket, sneakers and eyeglasses. And they -- and the prosecution claims that the blood spatter on his clothes shows that he was nearby. Now explain to me how can the spatter show where he was and where he wasn't?

COFFEY: Well, if he were to find the body after the bleeding had stopped, any blood that was left on the body at that time and -- simply would drip off the body onto his clothing would be much larger in diameter. With the impact spatter on his shoes, especially, indicate that he was very close by when the blood was actually being shed. And that being, the blood stains on his shoes were very, very small in diameter.

MURPHY: And can I just say, just to be fair to Dr. Greineder's defense, their explanation thus far for the spattering evidence is that when he picked her body up to try to help her he dropped her body and that...

COSSACK: And that's what it is.


VAN SUSTEREN: And supposedly he had no blood on his hands though, which is a major problem...


COSSACK: All right, you guys, that's all the time we have for today. I'm cutting everybody off. Thanks to our guests. Thank you for watching.

Today on "TALKBACK LIVE": a legal roundup. The missing intern, road rage and Rudy Giuliani's divorce. Wow! What a show. Send your e-mail to Bobbie Battista and tune in at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time.

VAN SUSTEREN: And tonight on "THE POINT:" an entire half-hour on the disappearance of Chandra Levy, the missing Washington intern. Why are her parents back in Washington D.C.? Tonight, a day-by-day account of what has transpired since the day she vanished. That's at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time.

And of course Roger and I'll be back tomorrow with another edition of BURDEN OF PROOF. We'll see you then.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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