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Jury Deliberates on Massachusetts Murder Case

Aired June 27, 2001 - 12:30   ET



RICHARD GRUNDY, PROSECUTOR: I would ask you to close your eyes and put in your mind who you think this killer is, what he should look like, how he should appear, how he should come across, and apply the exact same facts to that image that have been brought before you in this case.

MARTIN MURPHY, GREINEDER'S ATTORNEY: Has the Commonwealth given you any reason to believe that on October 31, 1999, Dirk Greineder wanted his wife dead?


ROGER COSSACK, CO-HOST: Both sides have presented their closing arguments. And now the fate of a Massachusetts doctor is in the hands of 12 men and women.

Today on BURDEN OF PROOF: the murder trial of Dr. Dirk Greineder.

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

COSSACK: Hello and welcome to BURDEN OF PROOF.

Well, the jury's still out deciding the fate of a Massachusetts doctor, Dirk Greineder. He is accused of the stabbing death of his wife. The prosecution says Mabel Greineder discovered her husband's involvement with prostitutes and Internet pornography. They allege the doctor killed his wife to continue this lifestyle.

Now, Greineder says a stranger killed his wife after he left her alone during a walk around a local park. The jury met for four hours yesterday before retiring without a verdict.

And joining us today in New York: Court TV anchor and the host of "Catherine Crier Live," Catherine Crier; also in New York, forensic scientist Larry Kobilinsky (ph); and in Boston, criminal defense attorney Andy D'Angelo (ph); and former Massachusetts prosecutor John Burke (ph), who is running for Essex County district attorney.

Catherine, I want to go right to you because I know that you have been closely following this trial.


COSSACK: Tell me about -- tell us about the closing arguments. Start with the defense and then go to the prosecution.

CRIER: Well, Murphy, the defense counsel, did an outstanding job, as did Grundy, the prosecutor in this case. And, of course, what he was trying to do, as we all know, is raise reasonable doubt.

He talked about the character of the man, the development of the family -- the fact that this was not a circumstance one would ever expect from this situation. He dropped significant hints -- one in particular -- although he was not allowed to go into the serial killer defense -- about somebody else. We had that DNA that appeared on the glove from the storm sewer that belonged to somebody else and alluded to the notion that there were others out there that the police didn't pursue -- so trying desperately to raise reasonable doubt.

He also had relatively effective experts on DNA transfer, on blood spatter, how it might indeed have come from dropping the body, as Dr. Greineder testified he did after finding his wife, struggling to pick her up and dropping her back.

But the prosecutor came on very, very strong.

COSSACK: All right, Catherine, let me just interrupt you for a second.

CRIER: Sure.

COSSACK: Now, one of the issues I know that was very, I think, damaging to Dr. Greineder was the issue that his hands were clean...


COSSACK: ... but blood was found under his fingernails. But -- and they -- and her body was extremely bloody where she had been stabbed. How did the defense lawyer answer that? I mean, that's obviously a very tough argument to overcome. Was -- did he have an answer?

CRIER: There was no answer. And it's quite interesting. We get all of the scientific evidence in. And you and I and other lawyers and judges can argue about this and get so fascinated. And there are many an experienced trial attorney that has told me all that jury is going to do is go back there and say: What about the hands?

He could not respond to the hands. And I think that could very well be determinative.

COSSACK: Did he allude to it at all during his argument? Did he say anything about it?

CRIER: Well, no, he tried to direct focus elsewhere.

COSSACK: I see. And -- OK, now, let's start with the prosecutor. Tell me what the prosecutor did. CRIER: Well, Prosecutor Grundy -- it was interesting because he came on so strong during the course of the trial, very aggressive in his examination of the doctor, obviously, but also aggressive with the children, which can be a touchy issue.

COSSACK: You bet.

CRIER: But he toned it down quite a bit. I think there's been some criticism during the course of the trial that -- you know, that he really punched in about the sex. And he even went so far as to ask Kirsten, the eldest daughter, whether or not they had a copy of "Mein Kampf" in their house, this, you know, horrific allusion to the Nazis.

So he backed off and was very rational, very reasonable in assembling that evidence, which is extraordinarily powerful before the jury.

COSSACK: Now, he -- one of the things I think he argued to the jury -- the prosecutor at least -- was the notion that, look, the only defense here is two defenses. One is: Is this the kind of guy that would commit a horrible crime like this? And two, how bad can he be when his kids still love him?


COSSACK And how did he -- how did the defense go about making the argument? Obviously, you can't say but -- or I guess you can come close to saying it, certainly about he's not the kind of guy that would do it. And what did -- how did the prosecutor try and you know, counter that argument?

CRIER: Well, I think what you do is you counter it with the evidence, because, yes, you have a distinguished Yale grad, a professional, and his children have been behind him all the time in court. But the children also have made some very damning statements -- the youngest, of course, the statement when she ran into the police department to first confront father: "What, did you and mother have a fight?"

Colin, the son, who in fact described a conversation with his mother where, despite Dr. Greineder's assertions that Mabel didn't want to have sex and that's why he turned elsewhere, Colin's own mother turns to him and says, "Well, our marriage is good, but, you know, we could have a better sex life. I think, however, your father's found other ways to deal with that."

You've got a woman who seems to be expressing to son it wasn't her that put a stop to the sex life.

So there were, in fact, statements coming out of the mouths of the children themselves.

You also had the children explaining away conduct. And you and I both know that when there are a lot of events and the defendant seems to be able to explain every one of them -- the double nosebleed and on and on and on -- suddenly, the children are coming in, one of them saying, "Oh, I bought the nails at the hardware store" -- you know, another excusing conduct by saying, "I bought the loaf pan to buy banana bread." And you begin then to question the children's credibility.

COSSACK: You know, Catherine, one of the difficulties, I think, in this case is that argument of: What kind of a guy would do this? And I think, in many ways, that was -- that is the defense in this case.

CRIER: Sure.

COSSACK: You saw as much as you possibly could see of this trial. Do you think that the jury reacts to this kind of thing because, you know, I think, in some ways, it is a compelling argument.

CRIER: Well, it is a very compelling argument, because, despite the law not requiring the state to...


CRIER: ... prove motive, a jury wants to know why.

COSSACK: And it's a far jump from perhaps having sex on the Internet and sex with prostitutes to viciously murdering your wife.

CRIER: Well, the more I listened -- and of course, I'm an ex- prosecutor. I know that I may have a bit of a bias left over. But the more I listened, the more the prosecution drove home to me that notion of snapping, that you've got someone whose activity is building.

They're becoming more frenzied -- all-night-long sessions on the Internet, followed by a hooker, followed by a dirty movie, followed by a return to the Internet on the very night that he's supposed to be preparing a presentation for a medical group.

You see someone building, building, building. You also to -- of interest to me, have a wife who seemed to be a bit controlled by her husband, who all of a sudden goes to her sister to get money for a face-lift. This is -- and many have said, "Well, what's the matter with that?"

Well, it could be a woman who wants to make a change in her life. It could be a woman who has found out about this doctor, which she implied to her son, and said, "I've had enough of this noise. I'm checking out of here. Get me a face-lift, a new life." And maybe that, in fact, is the motive.

COSSACK: Well, we'll have to wait for this jury to come back to tell us what they have decided.

But up next on BURDEN OF PROOF: bloody gloves and footprints, a spattered jacket, the knife and DNA -- does the evidence add up? We'll be right back.

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COSSACK: Welcome back. Dr. Dirk Greineder is on trial in a Massachusetts courtroom for murdering his ex-wife. During the trail, DNA expert Dr. Robin Cotton, of O.J. fame, testified that DNA on a pair of gloves found near the murder weapon matched that of Dr. Greineder. Cotton also testified that DNA from an unknown person was on a glove worn by Mabel Greineder the day she was killed. Joining me now, Larry Kobilinsky.

Larry, the notion of the DNA transfer, which was a major part of the defense argument, the idea that perhaps there was some DNA that was on his murdered wife's face that actually got transferred to him, and that's why her DNA was found on the defendant. Is that a plausible theory?

LARRY KOBILINSKY, FORENSIC SCIENTIST: Well, the reality is is that it certainly is a possibility. DNA can be transferred from one individual to another. There's not a lot of literature on this, but the few papers that exist indicate that you can have a transfer of skin cells, for example, or blood or anything else.

COSSACK: Larry, let me interrupt you for a second.

The Yates funeral is coming to an end in Houston. Let's go to Lou Waters in Atlanta --Lou?




After hearing closing arguments yesterday, the jury in the murder trial of Dr. Dirk Greineder continues to deliberate.

Larry, before the interruption we were speaking about the DNA transfer theory. You said while it's possible, it's somewhat unlikely. Would you go ahead and...


COSSACK: ... elaborate a little?

KOBILINSKY: Yes, in other words, Roger, a single transfer of DNA from one individual to another is certainly a possibility. But we're now dealing with the probability of a double transfer. DNA had to be transferred from Dirk to Mabel. And then that DNA had to be transferred onto the gloves and weapons. So, we're talking about a double transfer. I would say the probability is extremely low.

And then we also have the other issue of all of the blood spatter patterns, which is a whole other ball game. I hate to say it, but there's really an awful lot of physical evidence here, working against Dirk.

COSSACK: All right, let me talk with Andy D'Angelo a second. Andy's a defense lawyer.

This is a very difficult case. The defense seems to be, in many ways, centered around the fact that look, this man just wouldn't do such a thing. And you know, it's a long way to go between perhaps having another life and murdering your wife?

ANDY D'ANGELO, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I think that's true. The motive evidence that the government put forward doesn't really seem to make sense.

What I often tell people is if you found out that the night before this murder, May Greineder found out that her husband was having these affairs over the Internet, would your first reaction be, "Oh, my God, he's going to kill her?"

Most people would say no. And from the sounds of the evidence, the way it was put forth, May knew about this well in advance. She was still telling people that she had a nice marriage, a happy marriage. And she even told her son about some things that maybe were not so great. This doesn't seem to be the type of relationship that would end up in a homicide.

COSSACK: And if you're asking the jury that, Andy, and I understand this is -- you know, defense lawyers have to -- as well, you know, trials have to deal with the facts they have, but aren't you asking the jury in many ways therefore to ignore a great deal of evidence against the doctor and just conclude that look, this guy just wouldn't do such a thing?

D'ANGELO: You are trying to do that to some degree. You're trying to take the focus away from the physical evidence that does point to Dr. Greineder. But I think the defense lawyer, Marty Murphy, confronted some of the evidence.

One of the things that was brought out during the trial and during closing arguments was this glove theory that the government has been harping on, that hands were all clean. Well, if he had gloves on and his hands were this clean, how did May's blood get in his fingernails? It seems to me, either the defendant had gloves on or he didn't have gloves on. And I though Marty Murphy did an excellent job during closing argument of pointing that out to the jury.

COSSACK: All right, John Burke, you're a former prosecutor. Andy brings up an interesting point that the fact of is is that there was a major argument by the prosecution regarding gloves and the fact that these gloves perhaps belonged to Dr. Greineder, depending on how the jury sees this. How would you answer what Andy just said? JOHN BURKE, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS PROSECUTOR: Well, I would do exactly what the prosecutor did here. I would argue the evidence, and that's what the prosecution did. They argued the mountain of evidence.

They started with the knife. They -- and then they continued with the hammer, the gloves. They continued with the blood splatter, the blood splatter that was consistent with May Greineder's blood on his clothes from top to bottom. I believe the testimony was from eyeglasses to shoes. Then they found the doctor's DNA on the gloves and on the knife.

I believe that there's two groups of evidence we're dealing with here in this matter. We're dealing with the evidence that was found at the crime scene. And then we're dealing with the evidence that the state police and the Wellesley Police were able to uncover, uncovering his dual life.

And I think that -- one of the things that Andy mentioned was Martin Murphy did acknowledge some of the damning evidence. I believe in his opening and in his closing, he did say, "You're going to hear some very disturbing facts about my client. But he's not a murderer." And I think what Mr. Murphy did is he addressed the things that he had to address. And then he tried to poke holes in the prosecution's case, the real damning evidence.

In my view of the evidence, it was real damning. There was a mountain of DNA evidence, a mountain of inconsistencies that the doctor had gave to the police and his inconsistent statements, his inconsistent answers as to why the wife was left alone while he was playing with the dog.

COSSACK: All right, let just go back to Larry for a second.

Larry, is this the kind of evidence that we saw in this trial -- there's a great deal of physical evidence that is almost in some ways incontrovertible, that it's just so strong that there really isn't two definitions of it?

KOBILINSKY: It is very strong evidence. But you have to remember that scientists accorded an adversarial system and scientists render opinion. And you can have -- you can look at same object, whether it's x-ray film or a DNA printout and you can come up with two completely different opinions. The fact is is there's an awful lot of evidence here. And I would focus not on the blood under the fingernails and the clean hands. We don't know when the blood got under the fingernails.

What I think we should focus on is the blood spatter that is found on his clothing. That's the kind of thing that does not come from a nosebleed. It comes from a blunt trauma event occurring and cast-off blood, creating a very characteristic pattern.

COSSACK: All right, let go back to Catherine Crier.

Catherine, you old prosecutor -- now, when you saw this, were you watching it and saying this is going to get down to a battle of the experts?

CRIER: Well, that's my interest, and so I'm intrigued by it. But as I said earlier, I think the jury may be able to argue both ways on that because they had competing experts but come back to those clean hands.

But on the forensics, I agree with Larry completely. In fact, he came on the other day and did this wonderful experiment for the viewers all about how spatter works, explaining this. And the -- there was no convincing rebuttal on the part of defense experts as to how the splattering, which appeared on the tennis shoes as well as the clothes.

And even the cast-off that the jury didn't get to hear about because they could not confirm it is blood, there is virtually no way that that gets on his clothes and shoes by picking her up and dropping her a couple of feet after she is deceased.

COSSACK: Catherine, we just have...


COSSACK: Catherine, we just have a few seconds left. I want to ask you from your experience, the -- we know what the defense in this case is -- my client wouldn't do it and look at these poor children.

Do you think the testimony of the children is going to have any affect on the jury?

CRIER: Of course, about -- all three of them were very good. Their demeanor during the course of the trial was we love our father. We're here. We could never imagine him doing such a thing. But as I said, there were things that Grundy, the prosecutor, could toss out for the jury to consider.

COSSACK: All right, thanks to Catherine Crier and thanks to all of our guests. That's all the time we have today. Thanks to our guests. Thank you for watching.

Join us tomorrow for another edition of BURDEN OF PROOF. I'll see you then. Bye-bye.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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