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tv   Dateline  MSNBC  January 30, 2022 10:00pm-11:00pm PST

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i'm craig melvin, >> i'm natalie morales. >> this is dateline. >> she is the little girl who won the heart of a big city. >> they call use a miracle baby. why did they call you that? >> shot in the head at point blank range. a crime scene, shocking even hardened police. >> dorothy explorer pillow, full of blood. >> as she fought to live, this detective vowed to catch whoever left her to die. soon, he turned up a promising lead. >> bells and whistles go off in my head. >> in the hospital, she battled
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back. >> to know she had survived, it was a pretty powerful moment. >> not just her body, but her mind. >> they come into the daycare, and erica said, don't let him hurt me. >> she handed investigators, what could be, a vital clue. but would it be enough to crack the case? >> hello, welcome to dateline. i'm craig melvin. it all started with a crime that not even police could believe. a little girl. just a toddler. shot in the head, deliberately. left for dead by a killer who, then, disappeared. but a detective vowed to crack this case, no matter how long it took. >> one of the biggest
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attractions at the louisville zoo was a floppy your baby named scotty. cute, and cuddly, at least for an elephant. >> he has hair. >> you are right. >> but on this day, he shared the spotlight with another media celebrity. a spunky girl, named erika. who has an infectious laugh, and an incredible story, captivating a city. >> that girl's a miracle child. >> why did they call her that? >> because she's been through a lot. >> we have a two-year-old, shot twice in the head. >> does she have an understanding of what happened to her? >> she knows she was shot. >> if you could have seen her, you would have said, there is no way this child could possibly make it. >> louisville, the home of churchill downs is famous for its big horse race, the kentucky derby. so, it knows a thing or two about long shots. but, in betting parlors, the odds of this story ever finding a happy ending, were off the
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board. virtually, impossible. would a little girl ever gain the strength, not only to recover, but to come back hole? and, would a dedicated detective not only crack his biggest case, but keep the emotional promise he had made? >> eric a story, beginning in a hard scramble neighborhood, in louisville, in this brick house, on wilson avenue. a two-year-old, wild about door of the explore, erica lived here with her mom, aaron harper. on may 18th, 2006, police got a frantic 9-1-1 call. when they arrived at the house, the man who made the call flagged them down. >> what was his state of mind? >> he was hysterical. >> what was he saying? >> there is a little girl here, a little girl. >> detective tom, and retired officer, larry riley, found a horrifying scene. a woman, almost certainly dead, on the floor. >> you can see a pool of blood.
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>> the officers had to step over the woman, to get to the back room, where, on the bed, they saw the little girl, motionless. >> when i first saw her, i thought she was dead. >> was she saying anything, doing anything? >> no. then, eventually, i touched her, and she pushed my hand and said, leave me alone. >> tell me about the motion you felt at that moment. >> she was alive. >> barely, the officers could see, the little girl was shot in the head. dried blood, everywhere. they could tell she had been left there for a long time. >> she had labored breathing, very labored. >> had you seen anyone who is breathing like that who made it? >> no. i have not. >> there was no time to wait for an ambulance. a sergeant at the scene, barking the order for a police car to take her to the hospital. but, first, the officers had to get her to the car. >> i need to tell you, from the house, to the car, it seems like a long way. wouldn't it seem like when you
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guys are sprinting? >> forever. >> you were holding her head, and you were holding her legs. we guys like this? >> yes, just like this, pretty much just like this. >> when they finally reached the cart, they handed her to two ems firefighters in the backseat. now retired officer, stephen, jump behind the wheel. >> in my car i said, go as fast as you can go. just go. >> kelsey gunned it for the three mile trip to the hospital in downtown louisville. >> i was thinking about my own kids. it could've been any of my children. we're all fathers. >> the nbc station, wave tv, captured the dramatic final moments of the high-speed motorcade, as it made the left turn towards a hospital. with traffic, officer kelsey said, the ride can take up to 15 minutes. >> how long did it take you? >> two or three. >> across town, another part of the story, unfolding inside of this house. all day long, harold harper, and his wife, judith, were wondering why they could not
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reach their daughter, aaron, and their two-year-old granddaughter, erica. harold, a retired factory worker, and judas, a homemaker, talk to their daughter almost every day. so, the silence was strange. then, the tv news flashed on. >> first here at seven, some breaking news. >> they said there was a shooting on wilson avenue, where she lived. we thought, oh my god. >> he, and judith, picked up aaron's oldest daughter, ebony, and drove to the house. >> there was a bunch of people outside, and it was taped off, and it was a mess. >> you knew something was up? >> exactly. guy just freaked out. >> it wasn't long before judas, and harold's worst fears were confirmed. >> the jewelry she had on, they brought it to me. i knew it was air, and right then. >> their daughter, aaron harper, 42, was dead in the doorway. >> when you saw that jewelry,
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you knew it was your daughter. what went through, you judy? >> i lost a son in 78, in a car wreck. he was already gone at the hospital. i should've few tears and went on about my business, but this was different. my son was 21, he had no children. >> the loss of earon harper, a mother of four, was devastating, but they had to see what happened with baby erica. finding out in the most impersonal way. >> i knew she was hurt, because the police rushed down the street that i saw on tv. >> later, they learned how badly hurt. she had been shot in the head. >> why, in the name of god, would someone do that? >> it was this man's job to find out. >> in your experience, how many times have there been babies who were victims? >> never then there been a case i've worked, where a baby's been shot. >> a lifelong worker, without a pitching career at the university of louisville, now, retired detective, said that
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this would be a high profile case. he just didn't know it would be the case of a lifetime. >> this is detective rick arnold. today's day eight is may 18th, 2006. >> a video camera, oldest attractive arnold process the crime scene, honing in on clues. >> this trim, near the victims body, there's a shell casing. >> the harsh reality of death, laying side by side, with the everyday images of young life. aaron's body, in a pool of blood, near a red kitty wagon. a shell casing, in front of a box of diapers. a band, where erica once jumped for joy, now, covered in her blood. >> suspected blood on the sheets, the pillow, and the pillow cases. >> detective arnold noticed something on the bed that would burn in his memory, throughout the investigation. >> the first thing, immediately, was the door of the explorer pillow.
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it had blood on it. >> what was your emotion when you saw that? >> anger. >> with two young kids of his own, this case, already, hit rick arnold hard. on the spot, he made a promise to america's grandmother. >> you said, we will find who did this. >> yes. >> that is a lot to promise somebody. isn't it? >> it is. >> coming up -- a glimmer of hope for baby erica. >> i was rubbing her hand, and she opened her eyes. >> when dateline, continues. eyes. eyes. >> when dateline teamwork... long walks.... that's how you du more, with dupixent, asthma attacks. dupixent is not for sudden breathing problems. it's an add-on-treatment for specific types of moderate-to-severe asthma that can improve lung function for better breathing in as little as two weeks.
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we're carvana, the company if you'rwho inventedr older car vending machines and buying a car 100% online. now we've created a brand-new way for you to sell your car. whether it's a year old or a few years old. we wanna buy your car. so go to carvana and enter your license plate answer a few questions. and our techno wizardry calculates your car's value and gives you a real offer in seconds. when you're ready, we'll come to you, pay you on the spot and pick up your car, that's it. so ditch the old way of selling your car, and say hello to the new way at carvana. detective rick arnold, admitted
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it. little erika shooting made his blood boil. it's why he guaranteed judith harper, that he'd find out who killed her daughter and shot her two year old granddaughter. >> why did you make that promise? >> that was probably a little bit of emotion spilling over. there was a baby shot and there was an adult that was killed. we were expecting that at that point the baby to die. >> erica had practically flatlined that are high-speed policed turban delivered to children's hospital -- >> she was rushed into the emergency room where doctors and nurses worked frank thickly to stabilizer. >> her vital signs were barely measurable. >> dr., thomas morey ali, a pediatric surgeon performed surgery on the gunshot erica said these were kept sense of her skull and brain, pre off. >> this is where you can see
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part of the bullet, and broken bone. >> the surgeons lifesaving mission was to clean the fragments from america's hand, repair the wounds and preserve bring function if possible. >> erica actually was lucky in one way. the angle of the bullet wasn't straight through the brain, but downward, exiting under her chin. >> what a blessing as opposed to the bullet going through and damaging the skull and everything. >> and doctor moriarty, was it relieved that the bullet only struck the frontal lobe, which can absorb injury better, especially, in the very young. >> less than three years, old the brain's ability to repair is very remarkable. >> after a delicate three and a half hour surgery, doctor moriarty, encouraged by -- >> the bullet and the bone fragment of the prop image were gone. but despite the repair, brain injuries are unpredictable. and doctor moriarty urged
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caution. >> the next few days in the icu are going to be critical. >> another, real shell casing -- >> at the crime scene, detective arnold continue to shift the recruits. moore leads came into focus. a bloody footprint, three big red soda cans and to cigarette butts by the. bed >> the second one had an ash about an inch long. someone had left that cigarette and washed out >> detective arnold ordered dna testing on the cigarette and cans the detective was also learning about aaron. and the more he found out, the more he was drawn. in mostly by herself earon harper, was john in the only one home at the night of the shooting and, evan, at 16. >> instead of like mother and daughter we were like sisters. >> you are like friends? a >> yes, we would do everything to piss each other. >> and fun to be around, with an oversized personality. >> she was outgoing. she would just do anything.
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a daredevil. i just miss her so much. she was everything to me >> she loved her kids, she tried her best to take care of them. >> earon worked at churchill down, meeting celebrities like actor jason priestly but she had to go on disability because of a mess and a painful inflammatory condition known as fry broke my latza she also took prescription painkillers to manage her symptoms. >> she was, how to, put it one heck of a woman, you know a force of fighting spirits and everything is concern >> but her parents were concerned by the crowd she sometimes ran with. >> she was with some guys that you weren't found a? >> that's right >> even so, her parents couldn't imagine who could've shot her and little erica or why and that just wrapped up their own fears that the shooter or shooters might come back >> i was scared to death. i thought, my god, what if, you
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know, what if they don't catch these people? >> at the crime scene, detective harold was coming the house for more clues >> there is a closet that contains a save >> some contents apparently missing. >> the first thing that popped into my head is some kind of a robbery >> and then, this a cell phone. >> one of the first things we do is check cell phone records >> phone records show that karen received two phone call records in the hours before the shooting both from a family friend >> you have a cigarette? can have a cigarette. >> james mary had known her for years he called, or anti >> police brought him in to know if he had any information that could help the investigation >> you are the very last people to color by phone, was you which is why we want to talk to you. >> was me? >> cuisine very provided some
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names to check out and repeatedly offered to assist police in any way he could. >> i'll help -- you to help you find whoever did this. >> back at children's hospital, erica was now in the icu holding on for life her heartbroken grandparents and big sister stood barely vigil >> it was horrible, i remember that that wasn't her, that wasn't erica >> ebony took a very hard. 14 years older, she'd been like a second mother to erica in fact, erica actually called her mommy by day four in the icu, erica's family was seeing signs of hope doctors believed erica was strong enough to remove her breathing tube. now, it was time to see how she would do on her own. >> i was rubbing her hand and she opened her eyes like a little bit. and she said, mommy and everybody was like, oh my goodness, she's speaking. >> well erica had taken the first small steps towards recovery, there was a big sign
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of life in rick are no investigation. . it was a mystifying discovery that would turn out to be crucial. >> why is this with all these personal effects of aaron harper? >> did it make sense, does it? >> made zero sense. coming -- up an unlikely car, a cadillac, leads to an unlikely clue. when dateline continues. unlikely clue. unlikely clue. when and ...home and more. you could save up to forty-five percent. (man) that's a whole lot of discounts. ngs, and you could save a whole lot of something with farmers policy perks. (kid) sup, dad! (burke) seventeen-car garage you got there? ♪we are farmers♪ ♪bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum♪
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♪wouldn't you like to get away? ♪ ♪ ♪ sometimes you want to go ♪ ♪where everybody knows your name ♪ ♪ ♪and they're always glad you came ♪ after she was shot, erica woke
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up, and started to talk to her family. in the icu, erica was feisty, and combative. her neurosurgeon, dr. moriarty, said that was a positive sign. her brain was rebooting. >> did you pray a lot? >> yes. >> judith was the most religious and the family. one week after surgery, her prayers, and unshakable faith, were answered. erica's condition was upgraded, from critical, to fair. >> she looked bad, but i never dwelled on her not making it. >> now, the family needs to turn its focus to the one who did not make it. erica's mom. on may 25th, 2006, one week after she was gunned down, earon harper family, gathered for the eulogy. the man who led the eulogy was the only one who raised her to
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the hospital, steve kelsey, who served as a minister in the local church. >> it was so moving, and personal, because he had been on the scene. >> for jesse holiday, then a crime reporter for the louisville career journal, one elevated the story was simple. little erika. >> the public concern, from the beginning, was that there was a two-year-old involved. >> after nearly two weeks in hospital, erica was well enough to move to nearby frazier rehabilitate of institute. but, the hard work was just beginning. the brain injury had damaged her ability to walk, and talk. what had been second nature to her, needed to be re-learned. running, talking back and forth, and being a playful kid again. erica sister, who knew her best, was worried. erica had lost sight in her right eye forever. ebony was afraid, she would never be her old self again. >> what was different? >> she didn't run, or play, or
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talk as much. she was quiet. >> still, with no idea why her sister, and mother were shot, 70, and her grandparents, remain fearful. >> you must have been worried. who did this? >> i was. i was just thinking about the safety of the kids, and me. i didn't go out much. >> back at the police station, detective arnold was trying to figure out his next move. when his investigation caught a lucky break. a 75-year-old spotted some of america's things in a rain soaked ditch, three miles from her house, and phoned police. there were empty prescription pill bottles, credit cards, i.d. bottles, and personal papers. and, something else, that did not belong. >> tell me about what this is. >> this is the cadillac manual. >> a cadillac owner's manual. it stood out, because it didn't seem to fit with the rest of the mess. so, why was the car manual there? whose was it?
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rick arnold tried to thumb through it, but the pages were soaked together. >> even the front and back over were soggy, to the point where when i started to look through this, for the very first time, the pages still stick together. >> days later, rick had separate a few pages, but, was still frustrated. >> it was the third time. i was really thinking, this will be the last time, if i don't find it now, i'll be out of luck. but i've gone through this, literally, looking with a, my four fingers, page by page. >> the third time, the charm. >> all the way stuck in the binding of the book, and automobile insurance card. >> with a name? >> and they, most importantly. >> by now, is working days turned into working nights. detective arnold, typing a man's name into his computer. and, it's spit out 15 matches. one of them, living in southern indiana, just across the river from louisville. around 11 pm, rick called the man. >> i asked if he knew why his
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manual would be in a drainage ditch in louisville kentucky. and he said, i don't know, but my car was broken into at work last week. >> his cadillac. the break-in happened on the night of may 17th. only a few hours before aaron harper was found dead. >> i ask, where do you work? he said, he is a pharmacist at walgreens. bells and whistles go off of my head. he works at a drugstore. they sell prescription drugs. it hit me, immediately, there is a reason why the manual was with that stuff. >> detective arnold had a working theory, and it went like this. someone broke into a shiny cadillac, parked outside in indiana walgreens. the car, happening to belong to the stores pharmacist. for no apparent reason, the thief grabbed the owner's manual, from the glove compartment, and tossed it into his car. he then went to aaron's house, where she, and erica, were shot. aaron's prescription pills, and credit cards, or stolen. then, according to the theory,
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the person rushed away from the house, through the pill bottles, and credit cards into the getaway car, and drove off. a few miles away, whoever was in the car got rid of the hot property. testing the empty pill bottles, and credit cards, out of the window. along with the cadillac manual. that is how everything ended up together in the drainage ditch. >> i think there were describing stuff, and i believe they thought, well, we don't want to, she's dead. >> rick asked if the pharmacist knew who broke into his car. >> he said, i do not know for sure, but i have a good idea. >> the pharmacist remembered, and store security cameras confirmed, a man in a baseball cap, and another man, came into the walgreens at 9:30 pm, on may 17th. just hours before she was shot. >> he said, they didn't look like they were regular shoppers at our walgreens. most of our prescription customers, our regular. he went on to say, they came
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back to the pharmacy, and tried to obtain prescriptions using bogus names. >> on the security tape, ripped look closely, and saw the man in the baseball cap, leaning through the window of the enclosed pharmacy section, seemingly, checking out names of pill bottles. over, and over, detective arnold stared at the grainy, walgreens tape. the man in the baseball cap, looking familiar. >> one person was familiar. >> as, and james quiz and very, the family friend, who phoned her minutes before the murder. earlier, he told the detective, how much he wanted to help the investigation. >> rick was not buying any of it. he had become a per son of interest, a prime suspect, but rick wasn't ready to arrest him, not yet. not until he had the other man. but, that wouldn't be easy. although there were two suspects in his sights, the mystery man was not in focus. >> how clear is the image of
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the second guy? >> not very. >> coming up -- turned out, it was an image that was all too clear to erica. >> it was a guy who came into the daycare, with raids in this air, and erica said, don't let him hurt me. >> when dateline continues. hurt me. >> when dateline continues ♪ got my hair ♪ ♪ got my head ♪ ♪ got my brains ♪ ♪ got my ears ♪ ♪ got my heart ♪ ♪ got my soul ♪ ♪ got my mouth ♪ ♪ i got life ♪
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here's what's happening cincinnati bangles are heading to six dibble they'll face off against the los angeles rams who will host the game at the stadium sunday, it's february 13th, on abc. intensive thousands are still without power after one of the worst winter storms to hit on saturday massachusetts -- with 1:10 getting more than 30 inches of snow, the blizzard is coming across the seventh largest snowstorm in the city history. now back to datelineback to date welcome back to dateline. i'm craig melvin.
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detective rick arnold, identified one man, now, a suspect for mortar on security video. but, there was another person in the picture to. would detectives track him down before it was too late? once again, hoda kobt. >> just 27 days after being shot in the head, erica was released from rehab and met officer and pastor, steve kelsey, and other rescuers. it was nothing short of a miracle. >> that is beautiful that is beautiful. >> to see the look on those faces and know that she had survived was a pretty powerful moment. >> erica left, cried and acted like a two-year-old. reporter jesse holiday was amazed by her progress. but also concerned about long term brain damage. >> i didn't feel at that point i could say for sure she was going to be okay. >> but even getting this far, beating the odds, erica was going home >> just great to have her there, you know, to
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get her home from the hospital. >> it was a home she already knew. grandparents, judith and harold harper were waving away to their goal free wears >> not knowing what's shape she would be, and not knowing what mental state should be. >> erica's father had never been a big part of her life. so the court granted judith full custody of erica and her baby sister. >> you worked your whole life. >> yeah. >> especially your time, to kick your feet up >> yeah. >> but that's not for you. that doesn't bother me a bit, now men and my husband were a little different. >> it didn't turn out exactly like i thought it would because -- well, you know the, reason the children and stuff >> for years before the shooting, harold had retired from his longtime meatpacking job, expecting to ride his hardly into the
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sunset. >> i had a california trip i've been into canada, most everywhere. well, that had to stop. >> he knows that i couldn't maintain these children without. him >> i don't want her to and i love those little kids. >> i love my grandparents. they're the best grandparents ever >> do you think that they sacrificed a lot to do this? >> yeah my grandpa loves his hardly >> but, you know, people do what they have to do. what's in the hard to do. >> together, they give erika a secure home day-by-day, she was regaining strength. but things were not normal >> erica was so afraid of balloons >> balloons? >> balloons, the popping. and she was afraid of firecrackers. >> loud noises and everything. she was like this. >> she was scared when it raining when it was fire. outside >> but there was something else that terrified erica. and it was harder to understand. >> there was the guy that came
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in to pick this child, up and he had breeds in this. her and erica started running and crying to the teacher and said, don't let him hurt me >> judith told detective arnold about america's new fear, men with braids and, there on the walgreens video, detective arnold saw it the man coming in with james quiz and very, the mystery man had breeds but the image was still too fuzzy to figure out rick, circulated a freeze frame of the man. and hoped someone could identify him then, he waited eight months later, rick got some promising news. a detective thought, he recognized the walgreens guy from another shooting. >> and i might want to check him out. >> his name? kenneth williams. rick compared several kenneth williams mugshots with the walgreens. video and then we went, boom we've got a. guy >> then, rick's
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investigation got lucky again, an unlikely witness came forward with information about that same kenneth williams and then i erica and her mom were shot. >> but the witness for shaun turner was questionable he was charged with murder himself for which he later plead guilty to manslaughter. and he was also gravely wounded in the shooting. prosecutor -- >> he's on his deathbed, he thinks he's going to hell. and he has something he needs to say. >> weeks later, turner helped improved enough to talk to rick arnold. >> james, and kenneth williams -- they had supposedly hit a lick on a woman >> they had a lick on some lady >> what does that mean? >> that slang term for a robbery. >> a robbery that quickly escalated to a murder. >> he knew things that he couldn't of. known he knew things that weren't in the media >> there were things that he could've known. >> what kind of things?
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>> that there were pills involved. >> it was a long frustrating, 15 month investigation. but rick was finally close to the answers that he had promised erica's grandmother. >> what up to going some of those times where you might have felt like you are hitting a dozen? >> two year old baby, erica hughes >> five days later after interviewing -- detective ronald was ready to bring in quisenberry for some tough questions actually, he had enough questions to arrest him earlier, but he wasn't ready yet he wanted more. both men from the walgreens video, so he could play them off of each other in dueling interrogations. and now he had them. >> you've been waiting and waiting patiently so it's time to do your thing, right? >> now it's time. >> the detective moves to get each suspect to implicate the other. not knowing he was nearly out of time. >> coming up,. >> so you didn't know you are playing beat the clock? >> no, no idea. >> when dateline continues. when
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♪are you ready for me♪ ♪are you ready♪ ♪are you ready♪ your record label is taking off. but so is your sound engineer. you need to hire. i need indeed. indeed you do. indeed instant match instantly delivers quality candidates matching your job description. visit i'm pretty cynical, saw, i was not really sure what's the long term effect was going to be. >> one year after ercot was left dead, reporter jesse holiday made a house call to erika's grandparents house. a checkup of sorts. >> with erica being so young and with their grandparents raising her, and there was so much interest to begin, with we wanted to go back and see how she was doing. >> erica had jessie at hello.
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that's all it took for the high spirited, then three year old to win over the cynical reporter. >> erica was in it from the very beginning. you know, she was trying to write with my pen. she wanted to color on my notebook. i was just struck by her curiosity. >> jessie reported that eric lost all sight in her right high. she also had a small scar on urchin where the bullet inner headed exited. >> i think people still wonder how she survived. i still wonder how she survived. >> louisville and america's family were still consumed by two questions at the heart of it all. who could commit such a horrifying crime and with the shooter ever be caught? but judith harper at faith all along that justice would be done. most of all, faith in detective arnold. after, all the promise he made to solve the case was to her. >> he is going to see that these people were found. if it had just been aaron, it
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would've been maybe another death. but since erica was involved in, that he wasn't going to let up on. it >> didn't didn't know yet, but down at police headquarters, detective arnold was close to getting answers from the man he had been pursuing since their starting roles in the walgreens. video james quisenberry, his family, friend who made the last phone call to aaron. and kenneth williams, who admitted to a witness that he was part of a robbery that turned deadly. now, it was time to bring both men in and interrogate them. >> i'm a little apprehensive, but not nervous. no butterflies. because it is something that i had planned on and prepared for such a long time. >> you are ready? >> i was. ready >> 15 months after the shooting, quisenberry and williams voluntary came down to the headquarters. each new the other was there. >> i wanted both of them to
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understand that if they didn't tell us the truth, the other guy. maybe >> as a tactic, the detective arnold even walked williams past the monitor that shows quiz in very in the interview room. now yes time to, think hey, what's quiz and very telling these detectives. what is he talking about? >> detective arnold needed both suspects to admit that they were in the house when the shooting went down. that would back up murder charges against both of them. no matter who pulled the trigger. >> quisenberry was interviewed for us. he said he knew nothing about the. crime but as the incantation wore on, he started blaming the man in the other room. >> why don't you tell me how we killed, are and how we did. it >> i wasn't there, but i know he did. it >> but detective ronald knew something quisenberry did not. after kristen berry's first interview, he scooped up the smoke down by marlborough's for dna testing. and, think they matched a cigarette but from the crime. scene >> he claimed he wasn't, there but you got dna that putin. there >> i collect those
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cigarettes but, and they had your dna. on >> the one had my dna? on >> the one that had you dna on. it that's exactly. right you are in the house. and that's what i want to know. about >> how does he react to sort of being cornered, caught in a lie? >> he was getting. scared >> i mean -- i never told you that i wasn't. >> i know, that's my. point >> i'd be over there all the. time that's what i'm. saying >> now, quiz him very was admitting that he had visited his friend aaron. that day but he insisted that he left before anyone was shot. rick says that december and his story were crumbling so he went for the jugular, demanding he come clean. >> i want to know what you saw inside the house. >> and it worked. >> i saw him go in there, and i was -- i was behind. a pal, pile,, pop. i heard more gunshots. >> him saying he was in the house, it was critical. >> that becomes the most unquote -- thing. >> detective ronald now had
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admission number. won the interview nearly over, when barry had a request, one of the strangers that recovered. >> i know this is hard to ask the police this -- i need to smoke a blunt. a blunt is a king size, marijuana cigarette. >> i had never been asked that. before >> now, it was time to interrogate. williams and he proved to be a tougher nut to crack. >> first impression of him? >> he's. hard-core he's hard-core to the mask. >> i did not shoot the lady. i did not do nothing to her or her baby. >> he also denied everything and blame the man in the other room, quisenberry. . >> did you have a gun? >> yes. >> what color was it? >> black. >> willis kept insisting that he was not even in the house. but rick needed to get him inside. as he had with quiz. amber >> i wanted him in the house, not outside by a car, knocked down by the, street by the stop. sign >> and he needed. fast all the, he didn't realize how fast at the time.
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>> so you did know you are playing with the clock? >> no, no idea. the >> detective, arnold saw an opening and passed. first, you'll hear williams finally admitting to coming inside. then, listen closely as rick ask a rapid fire follow-up about his location in the house, giving him no chance to think or changes story. >> after the gunshot, iran in there to see what was going on. >> what room where you knew in that have been? >> what room? >> have. >> i was in the back room >> that was music to meyers, when i heard him say he was in the backroom. >> rick had him right where you wanted him. inside the. house >> and then too soon, -- an attorney who immediately stop the interview. >> just under the wire, just in the nick of. time >> detective arnold place williams and kristen berry under russ, and then he wasted no time making the one phone call he had waited 15 months to make. to erika's grandmother.
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>> i literally got done going to the bathroom and made that phone call. >> what was making that phone call? like >> it was like a, nicole because it first it was about them on a promise judy harper, that i would -- in 2000 -- six that i would get. them and we had. then >> what did you think when he told you? >> just relieved. i had confidence that they would find them sooner or later. because they couldn't get away with the. forever >> williamson quiz and barry would stand trial for the murder of aaron and the attempt of murder of erika. an eye for an eye, the death penalty hung over both of them coming up -- an emotional trial, and a little girl who not only survived, but thrived. when dateline continues but thrived. but thrived. when ♪ oh, oh, oh ♪ ozempic® is proven to lower a1c. most people who took ozempic® reached an a1c under 7 and maintained it.
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kenneth williams stood trial for the murder of aaron harper and the attempt of murder of little erica. whatever the verdict, one man would not be there to hear it. for, harold harper, facing the defendants was simply too much to bear. >> i couldn't look them in the eye without rage. and i was just afraid that i would miss everything up. >> it was an emotional trial. coal prosecutor mark baker, with two young daughters himself, cried in his opening statement. >> once he determined that there still life in that little body, you could imagine what the officers did there at the scene. >> prosecutors maintained that the defendants came to steal with earon spills and money. but the plan changed after and fought. back according to the key witness. >> he told me he snatched the purse from her and he shouldn't let go of the press. he. shudder >> this testimony helped build in another piece of the puzzle. why quisenberry and williams
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were in the house that night. it appears that after aired became too ill to work, she found a way to supplement her income selling her prescription medicine. she had invited her friend quisenberry to buy pills before. but this time, the deal deteriorated into robbery and ultimately murder. when williams came along with his gun. >> i had no idea that they would go in the house and kill you over a bottle of pills. >> the trial took just one week and there was little doubt that quisenberry would be convicted of some crime. he got manslaughter and a maximum 45 years in prison. as for williams -- >> we, the jury, find the defendant, kenneth williams guilty. >> guilty of murder. and then a life sentence with no possibility of parole. spray or the death frontal to only because one holdout juror would not vote for. it >> did you think that he should've got in the death penalty?
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>> no. i can't go around talking or acting with hate in my heart. because if i do that, that my children, they're going to be thinking it's all right for them to do it >> rick was gratified that he can make good on his promise to america's grandmother but he also got something back from her. >> i do a lot from judy strength. she told me from the get-go that things would work out. and that's a sign of her fate. >> out of the tragedy, the harper family had pulled together. with her grandparents as her guiding life, erica's future looked bright. when i caught up with her, she was a playful six-year-old. we went to the, where she briefly stopped for fun and games to. talk >> they call you the miracle baby. the miracle baby. why did they call you that? >> because i'm a special girl. >> why is special? >> i know everything. >> you know everything? what do you know. >> i know about like went
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bananas are rotten i don't eat them. >> you don't eat rotten bananas? what else do you. no >> erica struggles from the brink of death became blockbusters news in her hometown. >> hi i'm erica hughes, and america baby became the media celebrity as the familiar face for a community leaders campaign to keep the children of louisville safe. >> please help us fight crimes against children. >> she is still the miracle baby. but she is also a great advocate for fighting crimes against children. >> erica, what do you want to be when you grow up? >> a nurse and a teacher. >> and why a nurse? >> you have to help people. >> erica, come here, yay. >> like the nurses and doctors from children's hospital could save your life. >> oh, i'm so glad to see you. >> more than three years later they celebrated erica's recovery with a red carpet reunion.
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taking all in, sergeant sergeant moriarty, promise that he would give his patient a clean bill of health. no brain damage whatsoever >> she's wonderful. she's perfect. she is this little flower that has grown. >> he left there with the good brain. and that's very important. >> smart cookie. >> yeah. she's going to needed throughout life. >> when you look at erica, do you see any of your mom and america? >> yes. >> while parts? >> main thing, i see is our mouth. >> is that right? >> yeah, erica's loud, she has that raspy voice. she's like my. mom >> wears your mom now? >> up in heaven. >> do you think about her a lot? >> what kind of things do you think about? her >> about her coming down. >> what happens when she comes down? >> shall still be my mom. >> so it's a constant reminder that she is still with you?
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>> yeah. >> and that's another shared straight, that she kept their cause darkest hours, her mom's fighting spirit. >> we i guess she did have her parents fighting spirit to pull through all of that. so there you go, you got. that >> that's all for this edition of dateline. i'm craig melvin, thank you for watching. m craig melvin, thank she mainly comes and dreams. and it's so real, it feels like her. and she just gives me a hug. why did it have to happen to our family? >> why did it have to happen to michelle? why that they? >> a young nursing student disappears. she was still dressed in my hospital scrubs. something drew her out to her car. >> the cousin she grew up with. the brother she raised. desperate to find. are >> they were able to do what a lot of other families have never been able


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