Anatomy of Murder

A murder case has many layers: the victim, the crime, and the investigation. To truly understand it, you need to dissect each piece of a tragic puzzle. Join Anna-Sigga Nicolazzi and Scott Weinberger every Wednesday for an insider’s perspective, as they reveal to you the Anatomy of Murder.

House of Clues (Jim Short)

House of Clues (Jim Short)

Tue, 24 Jan 2023 08:00

An elderly man savagely tortured in his home… Did his job put him in the crosshairs of danger or was it more personal?

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When I'm looking at these photographs, you can see that he had been attacked and stabbed many times and cinched by something. Both his scalp is badly burned, his eyebrows are almost burned off, but he's got a plastic trash bag over his face. Homicides, murders, those are the ultimate crimes you can commit. And when it's been done in a particularly gruesome way or for bad reasons, somebody needs to step up and do right by this case. I've got Weinberger, investigative journalist and former deputy sheriff. I'm Anna Sige Nikolasi, former New York City homicide prosecutor and host of investigation discoveries through conviction. And this is Anatomy of Murph. Today's case is all about a house in Austin, Texas. It isn't located in the downtown area, but in a rural section of Travis County. The house sits down into road and is fairly secluded. This area was not near much. It was remote. We're not downtown Austin. We're not even on the suburbs. We're listening to Jeremy Sylestean former assistant district attorney for Travis County, Texas. It's probably a couple of acres. It was behind a Montessori school off of a county road. It's not somewhere that if you were driving by, you would even see the property. The house was relatively small just a bit over a thousand square feet, but every area in this house pointed to a killer. If those walls could talk, they would scream. With Friday, April 7, 2017, and the family of 74 year old Jim Short hasn't heard from him in quite some time. His family was very close. They had daily contact, whether it was in person or over the phone. So they became concerned. His niece Linda headed over to his home, which was in a remote area, to check on him just a little before noon that day. And her suspicions were raised even more after he didn't answer to the point that she actually headed over to alert the police. When they went inside, the officers saw just a normal living room area. It wasn't like a big house. It was a small house out in the country. And they were looking around, just kind of scanning the bedrooms. As we mentioned, the house itself was just over a thousand square feet, a two bedroom, single bath home, and it's in that bathroom where officers conducting that welfare check made a gruesome discovery. We all know that saying a picture is worth a thousand words, and there's no place that it's truer than a crime scene. We're going to break down this crime scene room by room, starting with the bathroom. When they made their way back to what is the master bathroom, they immediately saw that there was a deceased person. 74 year old Jim Short is lying in a pool of his own blood positioned in the bathtub, hands bound behind his back, and it was a scene right out of a horror movie, especially when officers theorized that the amount of torture he likely endured before death. What stands out is that he's in his socks and there's blood everywhere. He's got blue jeans on, kind of a grayish color t-shirt, but he's got a plastic trash bag over his face. And if you were just trying to describe it to somebody, you might say it looks like somebody had put it on to suffocate them. But that wasn't the extent of his injuries. He had nearly 28 stab wounds. He was stabbed, cut, sliced, and burned. Yes, burned in different parts of his body. When I'm looking at these photographs, you can see that he had been synched by something. Both his scalp is badly burned. His eyebrows are almost burned off, and even the hairs in his nose. But the fatal wound, I believe, was in the neck area. He's got two severe stab wounds that are right around the larynx on the right side of his body. The medical examiner would rule that this was a slow and methodical death. I've seen that kind of killing before where someone seems to have been executed. Yeah, I've had those cases. This one was definitely more that looked like it had a lot of purpose behind it. By the time this homicide had occurred, Jeremy Silestine had more than 10 years experience in the DA's office. When it came to knife attacks and stabings, he actually began to hone his skills at his very first trial. I refer to it as the two pizza case. Basically what happened, these two guys got into it outside of a bar and they handed up stabbing him. You learn a lot about the different kinds of knives and blades and penetrating versus perforating injuries. That kind of thing, when I then came 10 years later to Jim's case and looked at his body, I knew specifically what I was looking at. I could tell you the kind of blade that was involved, I could tell you that this was something that did not happen on accident based on what I've seen before. So Scott, we have these three distinctive type of injuries. You have the stab wounds, you have the bag over the head, and then you also have the burns. What was your read when you started to hear that listed? It's apparent that the motive was torture. As an investigator, you have to ask, what was the killer trying to get from the victim? Now, we've seen cases where it involves money or an ATM card and looking for a pin number or even drugs. And while it is way too early to determine if any of those issues were in play here, there's no doubt that several of these non-life threatening wounds proceeded what would be a series of fatal stab wounds and perhaps even suffocation. And you know, Scott, I think the beginning of that is exactly how I saw it too. Since a lot of those stab wounds were not deep in nature that they were likely, you know, the victim was alive and whether that was for the twisted pleasure of torture because they wanted something. But then you look at, you know, why stab and the smothering aspect, where I should say the asphyxiation, the bag over the head. And I kind of looked at as one of two ways. Either there is the stabbing to the point of maybe dead, not sure. So making sure by asphyxinating Jim with the bag over his head, or was there something else going on? You know, is there this sexual component to it, whether on, you know, the tackers and like all these things, these reads like, I just feel that's going to be much, much more to the story than what was found. I agree. And you mentioned it before how the crime scene normally speaks to an investigator. You know, some obvious things may quickly jump out. Or in some cases requires multiple searches for evidence after you leave the crime scene. How does someone get a burn on their hands with the skin to the point that it's peeling off and burned on their head like that without there being some sort of specific aim in that area? That's what never really made sense to me without that torture scenario. And the bedroom also told the story of what seemed like haste. The initial scene of the attack that looks like it was in Jim's bedroom and the master bedroom. And they found a lot of blood on the bed on the sheets. They saw evidence of burning like someone had tried to set fire to the house. There was gasoline odor around. There was a gasoline can that was on the ground. So that was kind of all in the bedroom and bathroom area. It looked also like the fire had self extinguished. I could just didn't have enough fuel or oxygen to keep going even though they were char and smoke marks all over the place. It was somewhat haphazard, right? Because the house didn't go up in smoke. Almost like someone was very quickly trying to clean up any evidence of what they had done maybe ran out the door. And this is what was left behind. It does appear that the attack may have begun in or around the victim's bed. I'm basing that on the tremendous amount of blood on the sheets soaked through into the mattress. A lot of cast-off and blood spatter consistent with a knife attack on all of the walls. So when you're looking from the bedroom to the bathroom, remember this is a really confined space. Investigators are beginning to paint the picture of where the attack began because they already know where it ended. Which room was of such import because it really started to paint the picture to investigators of what happened where and when? So the intention was likely here after committing the murder was to light the house on fire, but that never happened. The fire really never advanced. So investigators did also recover a gas can. So here's all this evidence in this crime scene that potentially was attempted to be cover up by a fire, but then never happened. Besides the gasoline, the bedroom investigators also found a knife. It seems the knife had what appeared to be blood on it. And so on those items are going to see what they could get right because it's starting to figure out the what, but now they want to know the who. So is there going to be any blood that could lead to any DNA evidence and potentially identification? Is there going to be anything like fingerprints or any identifying marks on those items that might lead them to who committed this heinous attack? And I think it's also important that the chairman is this knife from the home or was it brought into the home? It was described to me as a pristine thumbprint. So they were able to, first of all, find the knife. Second, it had this medium blood that allowed the fingerprint to be laid on it and they pulled it directly. So now that they've recovered this pristine thumbprint from the knife, this is huge that the killer could be identified through this thumbprint, but that's not all because as investigators moved into the kitchen, they uncovered another clue. They found that Walmart bag. It had freshly recently purchased groceries and they found a receipt. And I don't even know how many times we have said that Walmart usually equals good video and that is why in many ways it is investigators best friend and that certainly proved relevant and important here. But as investigators were finishing processing the inside of Jim Short's home, they also noticed that certain things were missing, specifically Jim's credit card and his wallet. Jim's phone was also missing. They called it, could not find it. So now looking at the crime scene, after looking at the inside of the home, you still have the great outdoors. So just moving outside of the walls of his home, they started to look there and they noticed very quickly that there were a few different vehicles. Jim kept some vehicles on property, had an old truck, there was an RV that was unused. So it was one of those kind of places that you might see if you're driving by in the kind of country areas around town. But one of his cars, Jim's suburban SUV, the one that he drove regularly every day, was missing. So I know one of the questions, and I see that I'd be asking right here, is this a robbery turn murder or a targeted attack? I mean, based on the nature of the injuries, the torture portion as well, so far, this attack is feeling very personal to me. And I think the only thing that I can conclude for sure is that obviously there's a robbery element, and as you said, it's extremely brutal. Now again, we've seen cases where it's a stranger comes into the house and because of their own mental makeup that they want to commit this type of act on a stranger. But certainly we have seen it much more often that the parties were known to one another and there's something more personal going on. And another piece of evidence as the known to each other portion maybe is there was no forced entry into the home. So those are all painting a picture of someone who may have been familiar with the victim. Even the where his home is located really goes against this being that crime of chance. The remoteness of it is not like you are in a suburban, heavily populated neighborhood or in a city scape where they just go in off the street to any home. You almost had to purposely be out there for the purpose of seeing Jim. Yeah, you're right. It's not like an area that just happened to be driving by and pick this house. There is a specificity to the decision to come to Jim's home. And so while investigators concluded the same thing that Jim likely knew his killer at least in some way, but they also started to look more closely at Jim. Jim was kind of a recluse. He didn't have kids. He had a stir that lived nearby. I think that it was a complete shock to them. They did not see it coming. They didn't know who could have been responsible. Jim is a retired 74 year old man. There was no one standing out in his circle that appeared likely to even want to murder him. But maybe his profession put him in harm's way. It turns out this was a local defense attorney that we all knew who'd been murdered. Jim Short was a criminal defense attorney who began his practice back in 1988. I immediately thought to my personal relationship with Mr. Short and how many times we'd actually dealt together over the years. I remember seeing him in and around the courthouse. He just struck me as kind of a nice guy. One of those guys who doesn't come in with a lot of flair or anything necessarily, but you know that he knows what he's talking about and that he did his job well. You know Scott, let's just discuss the potentials when you talk about someone in his line of work if we're now trying to figure out if his murder stemmed from that career. You have to consider that this is a possible factor. I started asking questions about any potential grievances or threats that may have been directed towards Jim Short. These could lead to who may have done this. And interestingly, you know people say, oh prosecutors, you know you must get these threats all the time. But in the numbers, it is quite often actually the defense attorney who at least has more of that problem with their clients. Because again, remember that is besides a professional relationship, it becomes somewhat personal. And the defendant, this is the person who's supposed to defend them in the courtroom. And so when someone lashes out, you know unfortunately too often it ends up being to the person who they have hired to protect their rights. He still carried on in practice. He was still practicing law from time to time, although it wasn't his major focus anymore. He was just kind of living his older life. Investigators had one major lead from the house that collected a backpack that was in the living room. And there was something about it that just didn't look like something an elderly man like Jim would carry. It wasn't anything remarkable, but it did have identifying information. So they found documents and I think even ID that came back to Justin Twine. So who is Justin Twine? And could he be Jim's killer? I don't know why he didn't go back to the backpack. That just seems like it's a missed opportunity. But I think his hope was that there would be nothing left to track him at all. Let me raise two points. First, just finding ID left at a crime scene is not a case closed. You know, we've seen cases at a scene where an easy find like that may have actually been a misdirection a way to slow investigators down. Investigating what could be really a stolen backpack. You know, I like the idea that you just said, which was that it could be a misdirect, right? It could be almost like the frame if someone was that savvy. I don't see it as anything purposeful at all. I actually just look at it as a disorganized killer who's kind of very, as I used the word haphazardly before, you know, trying to set the place on fire, maybe quickly gathering up his belongings and probably just ran out the door, not realizing what he'd left behind. And the next point really refers to the location. Jim's house is set in a dirt road in a rural area. What was the reason to leave or flee quickly? Why would you leave that behind knowing that you weren't really running out before you were noticed or heard by a neighbor or a 911 call was made? So you know, it could just be really a deadly mistake. Remember they're trying to set a fire. And so smoke is the thing that can be seen for miles. So why not want to get away quickly? Yeah, that's a really good point, actually. But either way, police do have a strong lead. And the backpack in the living room presumably belongs to a person named Justin Twine. He had no local record, no local references. So Justin Twine was just an unknown person, had no idea why he would be in Jim's house or his life. They ran his name and found out that he was from Louisiana, a small town called Bunky. He really had some criminal history over there, nothing that stood out to them necessarily. You know, mostly of the lower level things like disorderly conduct or resisting arrest, you know, driving without a license failure to have ID on him, you know, things like that. There is a family violence case that's there, but I don't recall it being of any consequence to us. I mean, if you're asking what stands out to you about Justin Twine's record, I would have to say this. If it is Twine who committed this torture homicide, it shows me more of a lack of prior planning and staying within the nature of the injuries, something very personal between two people that in fact may have known each other. They were interested to know why Hal and where he was now. So if we assume that it's Twine or certainly he's a person of interest that needs to be found by law enforcing, how are they going to do that? They have his identification. So of course, they can see the last known address. They have prior contacts and each prior contact when you're arrested, police ask where you live. So there's all these different veins that they can start to go down to try and find this guy and find out what, if anything, he had to do with this crime. I think that once it became clear that that backpack belonged to someone in particular, they were looking for that person. Another thing that was missing was Jim's phone. So would that be another way that potentially police could find Twine? Would it be that the phone would end up being with this guy Twine and that the phone would lead investigators to him? Jim's phone was also missing and it did not turn up until the next day when a homeless man in the South Austin area alerted police that he'd found it. And remember, we know that Jim's suburban is missing, so it would be obvious step for law enforcement to put a beyond the lookout for that vehicle to determine whether he could be stopped on his way wherever he's fleeing to. We were looking everywhere that they could for it. They didn't really have an idea of where it would be and they didn't have any lead on Justin Twine himself. He was just kind of in the wind at that point. Also missing from the crime scene was Jim's wallet, including his credit cards, which had about an $18,000 credit line. They saw that there were charges all the way from Austin to the Houston area and then over into Portland. So you have this person potentially the killer who is now going across state lines, so who is it going to be the best people for law enforcement to try to contact to use to retrieve him? We all know the answer we talked about it before and that's the US Marshall's task force. They got the Marshall service involved at this point because once somebody flees across state lines, the Marshalls can do their thing. They were tracking credit card purchases and when they looked through what was happening on Jim's accounts, they saw that these were contemporary purchases happening right there in downtown New Orleans, but they tracked him down to the Royal Sinesta Hotel in New Orleans on Bourbon Street. When the US Marshall service arrives at the hotel, they learn that Justin Twine checked into the hotel under his own name, but using Jim's shorts credit card. The only way investigators were able to determine that it was definitely Justin Twine is when they knocked on the door and he answered, it was him. He had not done anything to disguise himself. He was checked under his own name. When they arrested him, they found all kinds of room service, hundreds of dollars worth of room service that had been ordered on Jim's credit cards. And the story that the front desk clerk had given is that Justin convinced them that Jim was his uncle and was there at the hotel with him, but was having Justin pay for everything with the credit card. The US Marshall's task force arrested Twine on an unrelated warrant. And you know, we talk about if he's going to be the who, well then it's about the why. And if we just talk about motive, like the only thing that kept going through my head is I was hearing Jeremy talk about this guy in the hotel really living it up. It was like that song, you know, money, money, money. Sorry, my voice is really bad. It was like, it really is all I could hear about because I can't imagine it being about anything else but that scene, what he was doing with Jim's money just, you know, hours after his murder. So I really want to get your take on the San Asiga because it comes no surprise to me that anyone who was willing to leave a backpack at a crime scene, at a potential murder weapon, take in the credit card of your victim and checking into a hotel under your own name. That just shows me how unsophisticated of a criminal that Justin Twine likely was. What about you? I agree wholeheartedly and while again there's so many things that have yet to be answered, I saw that loud and clear, crystal clear I should say. And when Twine was taken into custody, he was questioned at the New Orleans Parish and even though he exercised his right to remain silent, his phone spoke volumes. They found Justin's phone that turned out to be a treasure trove of information for me through subpoenas came across a Craigslist post that Justin had put out there. After investigators read that post, they realized that Jim's murder is all centered around his house. On March 30th, 2017, a week before Jim's murder, Justin Twine posted this on Craigslist. I've got it in front of me if you guys want me to read that. It reads. Hi, my name is Justin Jones and I'm a 23 year old male. I am a native housing and I currently am in Cottonport, Louisiana and don't have anywhere to stay. I have a valid ID and Social Security card. I'm dedicated to looking for a job and get on my feet. I am in desperate need of housing. I'm a great cleaner and wonderful with pets and children. I am a gay male and hope that is okay. Given any chance, I will get on my feet within 30 days and find a job. If you have any questions, please feel free to call me. I am also able to send you pictures via text and he had also posted that with the title Homeless Gay Male Seeking Help. Scott is that last line to me that speaks volumes. The fact that he was willing to exchange pictures, why would pictures be an important factor of someone who's looking for a place to stay? Right, because I think that is the veiled message in this entire thing and maybe it's because I have had a very similar case. So having one of the first early Craigslist killer cases, but that I've seen how Craigslist was used for much more than finding a local handyman or looking for items to sell, which is what it was originally the purpose was. But it really seems like there is this person to person almost want at or at least offering something else in exchange for that money or housing. This was a fishing scam on Justin's part. He was in the business of trying to get people to send him money without any commitment on his part. So there were multiple individuals he was communicating with off of this same ad or other versions of the ad in different places. And some people would send him money and get no response after that and that bridge would be burned. But to Justin, it didn't matter because he scored what he needed to score, which was a few hundred dollars typically. So that ad that he placed in Louisiana, he actually placed similar ads while here in the Austin area. The scam didn't stop. It was something that was a lifestyle for him and he was trying to market that even here. Forgetting for the moment, whether this was an actual reach out for someone who needed help or a predator looking for prey. And we do know that this advertisement was answered. It was Jim Short and Jim Short did know his killer. It's clear based on this ad and Jim's response. We were able to get traffic between them. So it started as an email exchange going back and forth. It became mostly about phone and text messages. You know, whether he's a predator or just someone down on his luck, like he wants money, he wants services, he wants someone to give him housing and he's kind of putting the carrot out there that he is willing to exchange things at least photographs to hopefully get some of that. Yeah, by all indications, Justin Twine was praying on people looking for any angle he could to get close to them, to evaluate them, to use them and potentially rob them. And in this case, it appears to have been cold blooded murder. This guide, it looks like he is praying on people's sympathies and trying to get them to open their wallets or in Jim's case, it seemed like it got him to open the door. Yeah, a lot of it was getting to know you type stuff at first. You know, this is who I am, this is what I'm about, but it eventually did become a little more graphic about what they might be expecting out of this relationship. And they eventually settled on Jim buying Justin a bus ticket to get to Austin. So let's dig into the all important timeline in the investigation. We do know that Justin Twine arrived in Austin just one day before Jim's murder. And this is where video evidence helps investigators piece together that timeline. Both of the text messages that investigators were able to gather, they learned that Justin Twine was arriving at the bus station and the plan was for Jim to pick him up. Based on the location data from the phone, investigators were able to pinpoint which bus he probably arrived on. And then in turn, obtain surveillance video from the bus station showing him arriving, getting off of the bus, and then getting directly into Jim's vehicle. He was picked up from the bus station on the 5th of April, and we saw them on camera at the Walmart on the 6th. And the family discovered him on the 7th. So stepping back and trying to do the 10,000 foot view of where the investigation is right at that moment, I'm thinking about the reason why there was a can of gas in the house. And at what point did the issue between the two lead to Twine's decision to turn violent? I mean, did the gas can come from somewhere on the victim's own property? Was getting the gas and spreading it through the house post murder to try to cover it up? You know, I say it's likely. So based on what we've covered so far, Twine wanted something from Jim and Jim never realized the danger that he was really in. And that's kind of where I am right now. But you know, was there something deeper going on? You know, whether there was this relationship component, sexual component, you know, is this a grifter who's just looking to get and when then his victim box at giving his money or whatever that it just goes brutally wrong? Or is there something deeper with Twine's own psyche, you know, that he went there looking to do this and it was in a remote area. And so he had his best chance of getting away with it. There's so many possibilities based on what we know so far. Lost physical desire, whatever you want to call it, has a control over people. And some people act on that and some people don't. That's one reason I'd never really feared that part of Jim's life. I mean, we all have these things that motivate us and he was motivated by sparking up some sort of relationship with somebody like Justin Twine. But they both agreed to that. That was that they were mutually consenting adults. There was nothing untoward about it. The reason behind them getting together is nothing that we should be surprised by. There's a whole marketplace that exists for that reason. And for Justin to then come in and betray that, I think it is not at all what Jim expected. We've got a victim who was tortured, bound in the bathtub with a bag over his head. And you've got somebody with his credit card checked in at a hotel in New Orleans. I think the picture is pretty clear. And what we saw through the forensic evidence was that Justin was not at all concerned about anything with Jim. He was going to come here, get whatever money he could and go. But another piece of the puzzle for me personally was when the US Marshals arrested him in New Orleans at that hotel, as the investigator, I'd be calling over to those agents and saying, okay, you got him in custody. Great. Take photographs of him. Take photographs of his hands. Take photographs of his arms. I want to know, ultimately, is there any injuries, any self-defense injuries that he could be claiming down the road that may make me believe my narrative may be different? That is the star on top, which is to get photographs of the defendant. I cannot tell you, unfortunately, the number of times that that was not done. I think it's sort of an old trick of the trade in a sense, Anasega, that you want to take those photographs at first contact with your defendant because you don't want them claiming that on the way back to your jurisdiction, that they rubbed a corner of a desk or they got injured in the jail when they were being transported, you want that first opportunity to take those photographs. And protect that evidence. Let him explain where the injuries came from if there are any. But if there are none, if there's an absence of injuries, that's pretty big. So once Twine was taken into custody and was formally charged, you know, it wasn't like we're done until we get into the courtroom. Now it's time to really dig into the investigation to bring a strong case to prosecute. Investigators in another jurisdiction outside of New Orleans would recover Jim's suburban truck. The vehicle was processed. That information was sent to investigators down in Austin, Texas. That's where we did have some DNA and I think it was on a sweatshirt of some kind. You know, while every piece of evidence got as a good piece of evidence, I didn't look at this as, you know, anything earth shattering, like no bombshell because again, we know that the two of them are together because you know that Jim picked up Justin and they were seen in the Walmart. So again, his item in that truck isn't going to necessarily lead to, you know, murder or anything more. But what could not be discounted is the knife found in Jim's room that had blood evidence and what was considered also a pristine fingerprint. I mean, that would be so huge in this case. The blood that was tested came back to Jim exclusively and when they examined that they were able to find a thumbprint that was really useful that came back to Justin's wine. That's it. That thumbprint with coupled with the rest of it says it all. But this isn't going to be an open and shut case game over at trial. Like there is no such case and there's going to be challenges plenty of them for Jeremy as he goes into the courtroom. But we're get the DNA done to get the forensics done and as that stuff is coming in, we're realizing what kind of case we have. Let me play defense attorney for a moment. And again, I've had such a similar case. So I watched the way it played out, which is that, you know, in that case, the defendant said that yes, he was there, consentually, even for something that was a fetish in nature. But nothing sexual that he's not gay and that when the victim in my case came onto him sexually, that he tried to ward him off. And when he couldn't, that he just lost it in that case, stabbing my victim over 50 times. But I can see it playing out the same way here. I'll just think about it for a moment. Okay, listen, yeah, maybe I was willing to send a picture on myself, but I wasn't going to do anything physical. And so I'm there in this guy's house. He's helping me. And I think that's it. I'm going to clean his house. I'm going to be his like friend if that's what he wants. But now all of a sudden, this 74 year old guy is coming onto me and he wants to have something more, you know, I can just imagine a defendant at least putting this forth. And again, like, you know, I couldn't get him away from me and I just lost it and at least trying to lessen their culpability that way. Again, I don't buy into it, but I think that that is where I could see the defense quickly going. Anyone hearing self-defense would think this is preposterous, not to sound agist, but come on. You only have two people in that home, a 74 year old man and a 26 year old man. Just logic and common sense suggests that twine was likely the aggressor. I think that they were attempting to use the great gap in years as showing that Jim had some sort of intellectual or other advantage over Justin, which just, you know, wasn't true. He's not a physically intimidating person, Justin, but I think that definitely would have had the better of Jim, who was long separated from his military service. He was not somebody who was greatly in shape. He was just kind of a tall, lanky, older guy. This brutal attack and the results of being tortured, burned, and tied up in the bathtub speaks volumes. I mean, the word self-defense in my eyes doesn't paint a picture with the evidence that they have of Jim's body, post-mortem. And when Justin twine, as we mentioned before, was arrested, no signs whatsoever of any injuries or any defensive wounds. 100% because also the law of self-defense, if you even are allowed to use force or deadly force to ward off a tack to yourself and someone else, but the law says it is only until the threat is over. So any one of those wounds, presumably, is going to make the threat of Jim, if that was even true at all. And certainly we don't believe it is, but if it was, it's over. You got to stop. In my experience, you don't get those kinds of wounds on a person's body without there being very specific intent to do so. So yeah, someone can always claim self-defense. I think it has to be believable and credible, but that's just not what Jim's body was telling us. It looked like a torture scene. It looked like somebody who had been bound and gagged and suffocated and placed there, not fallen there because of a fight, but placed there, and then the cover-up. I mean, when do you come across crime scenes where there's been gasoline poured and fires lit? So I want to say, you've tried murder cases with the defendant claim self-defense. The evidence in your cases spoke differently as well. I mean, how do you step into those or approach those side of cases? One of those things that you need to be thinking about from the get-go because you need to know how your jury feels about self-defense. They may not think in their own mind in line with what the law is, but there's this other factor looming out there that we're already talking about is, you know, people's biases, whether it is because of someone's sexual orientation or any potential relationship between someone much older with someone much younger. You know, that all feeds in here, too. And you know, we've all seen that color people's viewpoint to the point that they just can't be fair with what the evidence is. So that's also really going to be a big deal that Jeremy is going to have to try to deal with from the beginning. For me, the complication was that Twine got to control that narrative. So if he chose to talk about self-defense and say that he was attacked, you know, it's really up to us then to rebut that presumption because once it's raised, it becomes the state's burden to disprove self-defense. In Jeremy's case, he had a piece of evidence that could rule out Twine's self-defense claim and it was Snapchat. I always really see the beginning of the trial in some ways as the most important opening statements is when the jury hears for the first time all the pieces put together in a story format. And so it's so important because you hope that then they see it in that way as you lay out the evidence. But again, before you even get to opening, it depends who the 12 people sitting in the box are and that really leads to the importance of jury selection. That conversation that you're having with the perspective jury up front is going to define what happens throughout the next week or so that you're trying that case. For Jeremy, it's about connecting with potential jurors right from the start during jury selection as you mentioned, trying to get a sense of if they would be a good fit more than just looking at the questionnaire for. The next rule is that you never know who's going to show up that Monday morning because it is just a random draw of people who are eligible to serve. You get a look at them on paper, you kind of get their basic demographic facts, but you don't know anything more than that about them until you start talking to them. What do we want from our jury? You don't care about where they stand socioeconomically, education, but you do care if their life experiences in any way preclude them from being fair and open-minded. So here, it's like you have to talk about everything from your victim's background. In this case, there is going to come up because, of course, this is started with Craigslist and kind of this component of male, potentially seeking male, and do people have any views on sexual orientation that might impact their ability to be fair. And so while again, it should obviously be to each his own. We know that isn't always the case, but if now you have someone on that jury that is going to be biased and is going to let them rule the day when it comes to the ultimate decision here, that's really important to try to figure out. And Jeremy realized that the text messages and emails would likely be admitted into evidence and reading those with this jury, the one he's planning on seating, would they be able to judge it based on nothing to do with sexual orientation, but be able to look at it as a defendant and a victim and make a renderer decision based on the facts? It's several things like that where if you're not careful, somebody who has an agenda could totally submarine your case. But on top of that, there is some education and teaching that has to go on, and I didn't want the defense in this case to own the conversation about self-defense. I wanted the jury to understand my take on it and what I believed the law set about self-defense. I spent some time in jury selection, or we did, the team did, talking about why that would be an issue that they may have to consider and what their thoughts were on that. I also think it's so important in a homicide case for a prosecutor to talk about the victim when they were alive, what kind of person they were, what kind of family they had, how they were loved, and how they were an important member of society. It's important for the jury to know as much as they can, and you say this all the time, and you're going to see about the living victim. If we don't do that, the only look that a jury is going to get is that of the deceased person's body. That's not fair. To put it bluntly, there's no rule of evidence that says you have to do that or necessarily you're allowed to even, but routinely we want the jury to understand who Jim Schwart was. So quick stories about what he was about, what he did for a living. I mentioned his military career that came up. We want the jury to have an idea of who this person was when they were alive and what has been lost. Even though Twine would claim self-defense, prosecutors had a lot of evidence from the crime scene to suggest otherwise. But they also had video evidence from his phone and from online after the murder. We were able to get a search warrant for Snapchat, but also download a lot of video off of his phone once we had that in our possession. The beauty of Snapchat is that if you're a user of it, you post things and they disappear. That's what most people think. But that's not always the case, just like any aggregator event from in there and some of that because they're trying to sell it. So if you get your hands on it quickly enough, you're going to find all kinds of stuff. So just picture that's right. Most of you are probably familiar with Snapchat or the many platforms that you take these short videos. But what they see, you don't see Twine with his head down and appearing distraught after having been attacked or anything. It's quite the opposite. These aren't lengthy videos where somebody's giving the Scooby-Doo rundown of their motive in 10. So we saw him leaving the area of Jim's house and making his way toward Houston. But along the way, Twine is filming himself in the suburban, having a good time and making kind of provocatively, I don't know, sexy videos for his followers to show that he's got money and means now. So that never stopped. And based on what we know about where Jim is literally laying in his bathtub at the time, this video says everything about what happened in that house. He is just putting it out there in the world that everything is fine and good. Nothing weird has happened to him. He had no affect. He was just fine. Justin wasn't disturbed by anything. He wasn't posting on social media saying that he'd been attacked. He was having a good time. Like any other social media post from someone of that age who was just trying to put their best life out there. When I went through this report, Atasiga, I thought of three words, state of mind. This was Justin Twine's state of mind shortly after he brutally murdered Jim Short. Did he just survive a vicious attack from short? Clearly not. His state of mind was joyful, laughing and seemingly unaffected by what he had just done. All I could think about is that exactly how I would start my summation is I would play that video and then cut to probably a description of Jim's body and how he was left. And that's it. At trial, Jeremy displayed a presentation where on one side he showed a photo of Jim Short, a kind man who dedicated the best years of his life defending others. But now his face had been covered with bruises and burns. And then on the other side is a selfie that Justin took at the Royal Sinesta where he's fully nude, but he's got his hands cupped over his genitals. And the reason I brought that up is because you see nothing on his body that indicates he was in a scuffle of any kind. Here's Justin Twine untouched, unscathed, unharmed, and then compare that to what you saw which would happen with Jim. This was somebody who maliciously did something that day. After a 70 trial, the jury deliberated and came back with their verdict. Guilty, unmerdered, and they came back at 40 years on this case. We did everything we could to get to the right number. People that I talk to in the community came up to us after the trial and thanked us. Now, defense starties came up and thanked us for doing a good job. You can't help but thinking about how Twine prayed on someone that he saw as vulnerable. And that's just another level of disgusting. He took advantage of Jim's kindness, you know, maybe his loneliness, definitely his need from companionship, and the coldness in what he did and how he left him is actually bone-chilling. You know, he cared about his family members. He took care of people around him. He wasn't flashy. He was just kind of a regular guy and needed to have that moment of justification for his life. Even in his age, and even under those circumstances, he didn't deserve to be taken from his family like that. Justin Twine was a wolf in sheep's clothing. According to someone's humanity, only to be used in a way where his true intentions were revealed and challenged. This scheme took a deadly turn and Jim Short suffered dearly for it. Tune in next week for another new episode of Anatomy of Murder. Anatomy of Murder is an audio-chuck original. Produced and created by Weinberger Media and Frisetti Media. Ashley Flowers and Sue Middavid are executive producers. So what do you think Chuck? Do you approve?