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.

Island Intruders (Brian Simpson)

Island Intruders (Brian Simpson)

Wed, 15 Dec 2021 08:00

A break-in. A 41-year-old father soon dead inside his home. A true who-done-it left this beach town on edge, waiting and hoping the killers would be caught.

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If you're looking for a new show unlike anything you've ever heard before, check out audio Chuck's latest series killed. Each episode of killed covers a story that you may have never read because it was killed before it got published. I'm Justine Harman, who some of you may know from my show OC swingers, and I'm here to bring these dead stories back to life binge killed right now to get the full story. Hi everyone, Ashley Flowers here and I have exciting news to share. My debut novel, all good people here is officially out now. Our fans are blowing up our social talking about it. You do not want to be left out and the worst thing that could happen is for someone else to spoil it for you because there are some wild twists in this book. If you love true crime content, mysteries, and a grown up Nancy Drew style detective work then I have a good feeling you won't be able to put this book down. So what are you waiting for? Grab your copy of all good people here now, wherever books are sold. No one was emergency. This is 1 where it was a true whodunnit. It sounds like there was a break in in the house behind us. That was very, very odd. There are no lights and nobody knows who it is. So people are like on edge and scared and not knowing what to do. Popping noises. Banging noises. I'm Scott Weinberger's, investigative journalist and former deputy sheriff. Belasi former New York City homicide prosecutor and host of Investigation Discovery's true conviction. It's anatomy of murder. Today's case reminds me of the mission that law enforcement is always on, especially in homicide cases, to get results and to bring justice to a victim's family, no matter how long it may take. One of the reasons we wanted to bring you this case now is because of the timing. It was just ten years ago that this murder happened and it has still left a lasting impression on Lieutenant Matt Harrellson from the Bureau Beach Police Department in Florida. It's just kind of interesting that we're talking about it now. 10 years later, when I was going through my case file on this case, the memories sort of washed over you. It's like it just happened yesterday, you know? It's so bizarre in that nature. I've actually spoken with Matt before on the television show True Conviction. And, you know, there's something that I really appreciate about him is that he's a really tell it like it is, and you could just tell that his mission, his calling if you will, is really to work on behalf of all the victims that he encounters in his cases. I've mentioned on this podcast before what drew me to a career in law enforcement, and for Matt it was a happenstance meeting with a uniformed member of law enforcement that began his journey. To serve. It's kind of a funny story. I was about six years old and my parents and I, we were actually traveling to going to see my grandparents at Christmas time and we were living up north at the time. And so we hit some icy roads and we actually crashed our car down into a ditch. Fortunately, none of us were hurt, but this was at a time we were kind of in the middle of nowhere. And I actually, we were actually in Canada at the time. Of course, we called in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and when he showed up, I mean, this guy was sharp. I mean his uniform. He was just set up. He had all his equipment on and I got, I got to sit in the front seat and there was all these buttons and and lights and everything, and I'm like, this guy's like a superhero to me. This was like Captain America. Like this guy was like the coolest dude ever. I said, this is what I got to do. I want to be awesome like that guy. Back in November, November 17th of 2011, Matt was in charge of the Detective Division and he was about to face a case that was going to test him in more ways than one. It was 11/17 of 2011. Dispatch received a 911 call at 6:43 PM. No one was emergency in 2011. The 17th was a Thursday. I only remember that because I was getting ready to watch the Thursday Night Football game because it was Tim Tebow was playing that night. So I just wanted to see how he was going to do. But anyway, that was a, you know, that's totally unrelated. Hi, it sounds like there's a break in in the house behind us in Central Beach in Vero Beach. I want one call woman says that she had heard some type of noise coming from the home behind her. Loud popping noises, banging noises just happened and there are no lights on at the house. So. She looked out of her window and she noticed that there were no lights at her neighbor's house and wondered if everything was OK. The owners are Brian and Kristen Simpson. The caller is actually a neighbor of the Simpson family and their homes back up, right up a budding one another. So they were sitting Outback so they heard the pop noises and she said it just didn't sound like anything other than it could be a firearm. But I've never heard that type of disturbance going on over there. Just seems very out of the ordinary. The call would go out as a suspicious incident, and while it was unclear whether the popping actually was gunshots, officers would still approach the situation with caution. And a lot of times, you know, you get these types of calls and the officers show up and it's like, you know, it turned out it was some kid with fireworks or, you know, somebody's motorcycle backfiring or, you know, something like that. So it's so hard sometimes to always what I call remain frosty. Meaning like, you're always on point, the hair on the back of your neck stand up so, like, you're ready. You know there's something when there is such an unknown that in a way makes it almost more dangerous for officers, right? Scott? I agree. You know, the first step for officers on scene is what attempt to make contact with someone in the house. Now, that may not mean a direct approach to the House when responding to similar situations. I would just stop short of the home, stand back for a moment and listen, and then perhaps knock on the door. Or I would even have dispatch ring the number of the house to see if somebody answers. They first got to the home. It was a very typical ranch style home that you see in many parts of Florida. It was one story. There's neighbors basically all the way around it. When they get there, they find a green Mercedes SUV parked in the driveway. Of course, they run the tag. It comes back to Brian Simpson, the homeowner at that address. They knock on the door. No response. But when officers weren't able to get an answer at the front door of this home, they walked around back and noticed a small bathroom window, which was open. Not like a large picture window, but like a small exhaust type window that most bathrooms have. And so it looked like somebody climbed out of that window and then dropped something on the ground in that area. There's some stuff like underneath the window of the bathroom like looks like some debris of some sort and they couldn't tell what it was. If there's some sort of box, the first thing that comes to mind is a simple BNE like breaking and entering into the home. That property may have been stolen from inside and this is the way the suspects gained entry. Or left the actual property. So at that point I'm just thinking this is a burglary and the neighbor may have heard that popping sound or the banging sound of them trying to get into the house, trying doors, trying to pry open a window, the back sliding door ajar and they look in and there is a black lab that's inside and like barking at the officers. The officers did return to the front of the home and tried the front door, which happened to be unlocked. Based on the information on a 911 call and the door ajar, police would enter the home to do what they call a welfare check of the homeowner. Now you might be saying to yourself, wait a second, can police just come into my home, you know, whenever they want to. And of course the answer is no. But in a case like this under the law, we call it exigent circumstances, there is a reason that they need to get inside quickly, and it's basically going to be if someone is hurt and. Injured, or there are some other reason they believe that evidence is about to be destroyed, something that they can't wait for someone to actually let them in. Of course they open the door. They make an announcement. Very Beach Police Department. Is anybody home? They go in and they're clearing the house. And as they made their way through the home into a back bedroom, they found a man deceased on the floor, laying on his stomach. With multiple gunshot wounds to his chest. They could see that he's been shot at least twice in the chest, it appears. The person on the ground. His name was Brian Simpson. He was 41 years old. He had worked at a glass company. He had been in Florida for about 20 years. For 19 of those years, he had been married to his wife. They had two children, a boy and a girl. And by all accounts, he was someone who was really all about his family. Everyone always said like Brian was like the life of the party, super nice guy. They said, you know, he loved his wife and loved his kids and just a great guy. The Simpson home was now a crime scene and investigators decided to get a search warrant before they began a thorough search of the premises. And here's why. It's about any potential evidence they don't know who caused this person's death yet. Was it someone inside the house? Someone who has an expectation of privacy? To cover your bases and make sure they can use any potential evidence they find? You need to make sure that they are legally entitled to search and recover as they process the paperwork for the search warrants. And the waiting for a judge to sign it? A moment came in this case that Lieutenant Harrelson will never forget. That's when Miss Simpson and the two kids come home. They had no idea they come driving up the road. They see all these patrol cars, crime scene tape around their house and Brian's not with them. And it would be Lieutenant Matt Harrelson's responsibility to make this heartbreaking notification. One of the officers stops him right from driving up the road, and Kristen Simpson gets out, and she just starts screaming, where's Brian? Where's Brian? And it was like, wow, what do you do with this? She came running up, and I grabbed her and I just was, like, holding her because she she. I got where's Brian? Where's Brian? Where's Brian? And we just had to pull her off, and we had to tell her, like, right there. I mean, what are you going to do? I mean, you can't sugarcoat that. You just have to be like, Brian's gone, Brian's inside, something's happened. We're investigating it. You have to give us time to work. And I mean, she just absolutely freaked out. I mean, she was just like screaming at the top of her lungs, like thrashing on the ground. The kids came out, they're bawling. It was a brutal scene. It is completely natural for a loved one to want to get to where the body is to confirm what you're saying is true. It's understandable they would be in complete disbelief, but this is an act of crime scene and any contamination of that crime scene may affect the outcome for you getting justice for that family. It's one of the harsh realities that comes along in these types of cases and hands down, it is the most difficult and most raw part of this job. In learning about the minutes, the time leading up to Brian's death, what really stuck out to me was this that it was 6:30 PM that Brian last texted his wife about his daughter's choral concert, and then it was 8 minutes later that the neighbor heard what sounded like those popping noise that led her to call 911. Think about it, a lifetime went by in only 8 minutes. And here they are with a billion questions and can't understand and and I'm in the same boat. I can't make it any better. I can't even give you an answer. I can't even tell you we've got the guy in custody, you know, nothing. I mean, there's nothing you can do to help that pain at that moment. Those are those moments that are unenviable in this job, you know? And I'm the person they'll probably always remember that told them their dad was dead and that her husband was dead. That's brutal. You know, Scott, there really is a bit of irony here. You know Matt Harrelson, he became an officer to be a hero, but for this family, he is forever going to be the person that gave them the news that their husband and father was dead. You know, when you're involved in these homicide investigations, you try, at least at a certain level, to divorce yourself from the emotion of those cases. So while it may be easy to say that you're able to move on deep down, inside, each one of the people who take this job on have the responsibility of solving these crimes. Always take a piece of that case with them and that place in their heart that never goes away. There's moments where sometimes you just sit and with your own thoughts and you're going over stuff. Fortunately, I don't have cases like this every day. I don't know that I would have made it 25 years. I just got to be honest if you had to deal with this on a daily basis. But at the end of the day, I really wanted to help people. And obviously I'll never bring Brian back, but at least I can find justice for the family. Most of you probably know that I love a good mystery, and playing games on my phone is sometimes exactly what I need when I'm taking a break from work. Enter June's journey. It's a hidden object murder mystery game set in the heart of the 1920s. You search for hidden objects and collect clues across thousands of vivid scenes to help June as she investigates the mysterious. Death of her sister with new chapters every week, there is always a new case waiting to be cracked. You can chat and play with or against other players by joining a detective club. Now celebrate the game's fifth anniversary with a two week birthday Bash, June's journey Golden Soiree. Exciting surprises await in June's journey every single day during the 5th anniversary celebration from September 19th to October 2nd, including special events daily rewards. And unique decoration items followed the official Junes journey Facebook page and become an e-mail subscriber for even more perks, including a chance to win. One of just 10 gold plated charm bracelets joined the 5th anniversary party. Now through October 2nd, download June's journey for free. Available on Android and iOS mobile devices as well as on PC through Facebook games. Matt knows the best thing he could do for the family is to find the person or persons responsible for the murder of Brian Simpson, and those answers could lie at the crime scene. Brian Simpson's body was located in the master bedroom. The door leading to the bathroom, just a few inches away from where his body was found, had several bullet holes through it. So it appears, though I don't if he was shot through the door, if there were through and through, I didn't know at that point. And also underneath him, which I thought was kind of weird, was like an American flag. Like it was like a flag that you would put out on your house, you know, out front on a flagpole. And here's a couple things that really stand out. One is that American flag, is this going to be some sort of a ritualistic murder, that this is part of the killers MO or or modus operandi? Is this something that Brian tried to use in self-defense or is it just happenstance? Maybe there was a flag in the house and somehow the way he fell, investigators found no shell casings in the house. And that's not all. The lack of any expense shell casings led investigators to believe that it was unlikely the shooter would have had. Time to pick up any of those casings. So that meant to them that the weapon was likely a small caliber revolver. The two bedrooms in the bathroom there didn't appear to be anything even touched in there. It was almost as though whoever had been in the house hadn't got to that point yet, or they had targeted a certain area. And then the master bedroom where Mr Simpson was deceased and laying down, that's where you saw the chest of drawers had been, you know, rummaged through. There was things on the ground. And then of course there was also things inside the ensuite bathroom on the floor leading up to where the window was. Moving to forensics, crime scene investigators were able to locate some shoe prints in four areas inside and outside of the home. The first footprint was located just outside the window in some sand facing away from the home. Then two more impressions were found inside the bathroom, one in the tub and the other on top of the toilet, which led police to believe the movement from the bathroom to outside was one step in the tub, one step up onto the toilet and then out the window, and then the last shoe print. It was found in the bedroom next to Brian Simpson's body, and here's the importance that shoe print was a different size to the ones found in the bathroom and out on the sand, and it did not match the size of any of the family members. That indicated to investigators the likelihood that there were two men inside the house. Investigators now move from inside the house to outside in the surrounding area, trying to see if there were any witnesses. Vero Beach is sort of split up in two ways. You have the mainland, the city of Vero Beach, and then you cross over a bridge and you're on the barrier island, which is some of Vero Beach's most expensive homes, several with direct access to the beach and the Atlantic Ocean. At the time, this section of Vera Beach hadn't had a homicide in more than a decade. A lot of people didn't even have house alarms. They didn't have ring cameras, they didn't have surveillance cameras. A lot of people didn't even lock their doors. I mean, like, they would go to work or go to dinner that night. They would just leave their house unlocked because that's just the type of community that we have. The police are now obviously going to start by going door to door, but they even fan out beyond that and their efforts paid off. We actually were able to find other witnesses of suspicious persons that had been in the area just prior to the 911 call. We had several people that saw two males who had been walking towards the region where the Simpson house was about 30 minutes prior. It was the way they were almost eyeing people and property and furtively looking around as they moved enough that it caught the attention of more than one person in the area. They just seemed out of the ordinary, like, and they they said hello to him and they didn't say anything to him and they just seemed to be, I guess for lack of a better term, on a mission. They didn't know what it was, but you know, something wasn't right. So now the question was, who were these two men? But there was more that those same neighbors reported. We also had someone that reported the same evening that they had two of their bicycles stolen from the side of their house. Going back and trying to retrace the steps of where these two suspects may have come from, we actually found two bicycles up underneath the Causeway Bridge that comes across from the mainland. The discovery of these two stolen bikes was a big development, likely stolen as the pair were fleeing the homicide and dumped at the foot of the barrier bridge as they made their escape off of the island. Now the question was, would those bikes yield any forensic evidence, touch DNA or fingerprints? That would be huge, but unfortunately they didn't get any. We did the touch DNA, we did. We bagged them and tagged them and sent them off to FLE. It didn't pan out for us in this case, unfortunately. Now Lieutenant Matt Harrellson and his team would turn to another stage of the investigation, the autopsy, to determine if any forensic evidence can be gained during the examination. So being that the bullets weren't actually found inside the home, it makes that part of the autopsy even more potentially pivotal. Certainly recovering any projectiles since this was a shooting would be critical if they could be matched with a weapon. The coroner found 222 caliber bullets that had gone. Into Mr Simpson. The fatal bullet, if you will, took like just a weird turn it it hit him in the clavicle, and it ricocheted off his clavicle down and severed his aorta. You know, when we see an injury like that, you usually expect the person to walk out of the hospital the same day or not too much afterwards. I mean, that's rarely something life threatening. I mean, feel yourself where your clavicle is, right? You feel that collarbone, there's not much around it, there's skin on both sides. You don't have a lot of vital organs right there, obviously close, but yet somehow, because of that bone, the bullet ricocheted, severed an aorta, causing him to bleed to death within moments. It's just one of those, like one in a million type situations. Again, I couldn't get any lands and grooves or anything off of the bullet itself because they were so mangled and destroyed. One thing about the human body is that it's made-up of all different parts, including bone, and that you find that when bullets hit bone, at times it actually mangles the bullet. So while there is devastation to the human body and death often results or serious injury, the same can be said for the bullet. The autopsy then focused on means and manner of death, ruling it officially a homicide and collecting any other blood evidence which could assist them down the road if the investigation uncovered anymore evidence. With nothing forensically paying off in this case, solving this case is going to come down to police officers most vital tool and resource and that is the eyes and ears of the community. With the lack at this point of any viable leads, Detective turned to an old school practice which is still valuable today. Composite sketches, also known as artist renderings. They did have a good description for witnesses of two men, and the best place to take those sketches was the news media. And by now word of the homicide had already spread through the community and obviously there was lots of concern. We were starting to put together a timeline as well as who we were looking for and the type of weapon. And then of course we've got all kinds of newspaper articles going out. You know, if anybody saw anything, heard anything, that type of thing, please call, you know, our tips hotline and things of that nature. And so when police are trying to get these answers, there's so many different ways that they fan out and tried different mediums. They're talking to their confidential informants, the people on the street that have their ears to the ground and talk to people in the neighborhoods, but also the pawn shops. They're critical. We were looking, you know, at pawn shops and fences and places like that to try to find if maybe some of the stuff had been moved out on the street, to try to get suspects in that way. You know, we were following up everything, I mean, to the point where it's like we're running ragged. In a homicide investigation, information comes from various sources, and sometimes it comes from the public in the form of a tip, and oftentimes they turn out to be very useful. Something a a Sergeant told me when I first started it was really funny and it's always apropos. Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, people got to talk. And that always stuck with me because a lot of times when people commit a crime, especially something like this, they tell somebody because they just can't keep it in. Scott, I have to wonder what you thought when you heard that line, because when he said it, I smiled ear to ear. There's just, it's a great saying, and from experience, I have to say it's completely accurate. It really talks about human nature. That is a fact, and that is exactly what happened here. Matt Harrelson happened to be walking through the Communications Center in the days after the homicide when a woman called to say that she and her son were fishing underneath the barrier Island bridge and noticed a motorcycle parked underneath, which was very odd. To that location. It was also on the night of the homicide. It was around 6:45 PM and she heard the bike start up and leave at a very high rate of speed back towards the mainland. And while she didn't see anybody on the bike, she thought it was very important information to tell police. And the tips and the information keep coming. And then four days after Brian's murder 1 emergency 911 gets another call. I just came by my house and there were a couple of guys walking down the street who just got off the go line bus. And the question becomes, are the killers about to strike again? I can see him right now. On November 21st, four days after Brian's murder, a little before noon, police received another 911 call from the same area. I just came by my house and there were a couple of guys walking down the street who just got off the go line bus. There's one guys wearing a blue hoodie and the other guys wearing a black T-shirt. My mailman just pulled up and he said he saw him walking around a couple streets over. As soon as you guys could have somebody come over and check it out and see what they're up to. As the composite is being released to the media, we receive a 911 call and he saw two males that he thought were out of the ordinary. Like they were just kind of lingering around, not really looking like they were going to a specific house or, you know, meeting up with somebody or anything and they were walking, which he thought was odd. The two people will not just in the same area. It was two blocks from the Simpson home and we're getting plenty of calls. Yeah, we just had that murder, so it's like people are being a lot more aware. So I'm scratching my head here. If these are the two people, the killers, why would they go back to the scene of the crime? Right? I mean, you're thinking they're going to distance themselves from the area as much as they can. I mean, they know at this point that their face in those composite sketches is plastered all over town by all forms of media. Yeah, why would they come back? I mean, it completely doesn't make sense. But as you know, in this line of work, you have to expect the unexpected. And for police, they're going to start to try to answer that question themselves because if they can. Figure out what they're doing back then. Maybe it helps them not only figure out the why, but The Who and catch them. Officers responded to the scene. They made contact with both subjects, who identified themselves as a Henry Jones, who was at the time 23 years old, and a Darius Robinson, who was a juvenile at the time. In 16, when the officers asked him, you know, like, what are you guys doing? They couldn't really give an answer. They were kind of going around in circles as to what they were doing over there because obviously neither one lived in the area, couldn't say, oh, I'm going to my friend's house or anything like that. They talked about that. They were just. Going over to to the beach. But here's the thing, they weren't on the beach. There is this roadway A1A that separates the beach from the roads, from the houses and they were on the other side. And so this non answer answer really is going to heighten the radar of all the police involved. And then police were able to find out from another witness who was able to connect Jones with that very same motorcycle that was parked under the bridge the night of the Simpson homicide. We made an arrest on both of them, Mr. Jones, because we had an eyewitness account that put him on the motorcycle separate from the young lady under the bridge. This was like that day about 20 minutes prior. We found the motorcycle at JC Beach. It had been parked. The motorcycle matched exactly the description as given that was under the bridge at the night of the incident. Mr. Jones did not have a driver's license and he was seen on the motorcycle. So we arrest him for driving while license suspended because it had been suspended multiple times. Darius Robinson, we arrested him. Loitering and prowling because, again, he could not tell us why he was over there and what he had been up to or what was going on. Investigators separated both Jones and Robinson as the investigator. You have to try to establish some type of rapport with your subject, and sometimes that may not be possible. But you try to determine between the two who was the leader and who may be the follower, and you always go to the follower first, hoping that there is a possibility that they would flip, and you take that opportunity. Because of the age and when we ran the criminal histories of both, Mr. Jones had a criminal history longer than your arm. I mean, he'd been arrested probably over 20 times for different things, so I pretty much knew he was going to be a more difficult interview, and so we decided to speak to Darius first. And now, one thing to note. You know, he's 16 years old, and while that's young, he's definitely a teenager. Under the law, he is treated as an adult, which means he doesn't have to have a guardian present. And I say that because had he been only one year younger, they could not have spoken to him without speaking to a guardian and getting permission first. Basically, Robinson didn't give a whole lot. You know, he said he doesn't know anything about what we're talking about, and he was just hanging out with Henry and, you know, they were just going to the beach on this, talking about the day that we arrested him and then when you started. To get into the other scenario, he basically he clammed up and wouldn't talk, he said. I don't know what you're talking about. During the interview with Henry Jones, he claimed he was nowhere near the Simpson home. He had some song and dance claim if he'd been in Fort Lauderdale on the 17th and he didn't know what we were talking about and he had no clue. And you know, he didn't know what we were talking about. So now they're left with nobody confessing. They have these various pieces of evidence which are piling up, but they're still largely circumstantial at best. You have the bike that's seen in the area, but nothing that's placing either of them inside the Simpson home. So now what are police going to do next? With both suspects being held on minor violations? Detectives were working hard to obtain search warrants for their homes and both locations were under constant surveillance by the Viro Beach Police Department investigators. Were able to keep Henry Jones in custody, but the younger Darius Robinson was released to his family. So he got turned over to his mom at that time and we basically put eyes on him where he lived. Now you had Jones, who had this record, and while the thing that he was arrested for was driving with a suspended license because they could tie him to that motorcycle, police knew that that was going to hold him in for so long. So it really came down to almost a race against the clock to execute those search warrants before Jones got out. We were trying to work as fast as we could because I felt pretty strongly he was gonna bolt, you know, once he got out knowing what we knew and that we were looking at him as a suspect. Investigators do get that search warrant sign for Henry Jones's apartment, and once inside they quickly locate an interesting piece of evidence, the first of many. We found many of the items from the Simpson home to include other items that were not from the Simpson home. It was like a what I call a range bag. You know, someone that takes it to a firing range. A small black zippered bag used to transport a handgun and Henry didn't strike me as the type of person that was a gun enthusiast that would like just take his gun to the range and then go home and clean it. He didn't really strike me as that type of individual. So backtracking with the Sheriff's Department, they had a burglary where a gentleman had his range bag, his 22 caliber revolver pistol stolen, along with rounds and items associated with that handgun. So they do a search of Jones's phone and there is really nothing out of the ordinary. There's no picture of him inside Simpson's residence. There's none of him holding a gun or the proceeds of any burglary. There's just one blank photograph that had been taken, but it was kind of unusual. Again, it's not in The Simpsons House, it's just this blank picture. So but it isn't the what, it's the where and when it was taken. It wasn't of anything. It was like almost as though like you hit your pocket or you know, like **** dial somebody by accident. He like actually took an accidental photo because it was just like a dark of nothing but a time and date stamped and GPS underneath the bridge right at the same time of when the motorcycle was heard leaving the scene. And there was more. Also on the phone, they were able to pull a history of Google searches. Investigators downloaded the information, revealing searches online of what the value of some of the property that they allegedly stole from the victim's home. And one of those items was a watch. Another was a rare coin, and they were apparently trying to determine what the value of those items may have been. But also, investigators did obtain a search warrant for Henry Jones's motorcycle. We started with the motorcycle because we had it in our custody and I opened the it's got a little rear hatch area like behind the seat and inside that hatch was a box of partially empty 22 caliber bullets, black gloves and a little half empty box of 22 caliber blanks. This is the piece that there is no question that I would be beginning my summation with the photograph of exactly what Harrelson saw when he opened up that back, that little rear hatch. My God, if only the the weapon was here. You know, that's what I'm thinking. There's that saying a picture is worth 1000 words. I would start that summation. You know, you hold that photograph up and saying this is the thing that proves it all, and then it just becomes this laundry list of the other pieces that all connect right back to what they found on the back of that bike. Now we move on to Darius's House, and Darius lived with his mom and a couple of cousins in a very small apartment. And once everyone was removed from the home, they went room to room, checking closets and in places where weapons could be hid and also checking for clothing. And when a search warrant is conducted, you know, picture it like this here, you definitely have the occupants present. So all they're taken outside of the home, they're milling around. People often start to congregate. They want to know what's happened. And there is loud noises and they're going through rooms and there's people outside, you know, what are they doing? What are they finding? So it's a bit chaotic, and police really have to be pretty. Methodical and careful with what they do and how long it takes. Of course, we executed that search warrant. We found some clothing that may or may not have been. We were never able to verify, like some black clothes and stuff that he may have wore that night. But it's hard to say we did not find the firearm there or any of the Simpson property. But there was an opportunity for another chance to talk to Darius. One of the investigators, Milo Thornton, had a talk with Darius's mom, and that went a long way, apparently, with this youngster. At the time, I believe he was a Lieutenant, and Milo has a good relationship with a lot of the young community because he knew Darius from like some basketball camps and stuff. Milo took Darius's mom aside, and I don't know what he said to her. He talked to her for a few minutes. I just stood off to the side, and then I saw her go over to talk to Darius. And none of us know exactly what was said, but those of us that have been involved in these cases, you could almost guess, you know, remember he knows them from the neighborhood and you've got to believe that. He's saying, listen to the mom, you know and I know that all these pieces of evidence are about to fall into place. And if that happens, he is going to go down with the other guy. But if he wasn't as responsible, if he wasn't as in the mix, this is his time to help himself. And again, his mom, of course, out of love for her child, she is going to go for that self preservation. And implore her son to talk to the police and tell him what he knows before he is in too deep and that he won't be able to get out. I don't know what was said to mom or what Mom said to Darius, but but he had a change of heart and he wanted to give a statement. And boy, what he said made them stop and listen. I saw him start crying and then he walked over to us and he said, I want to talk to you guys and I was like, oh baby, here it comes. This is going to be good. Darius was ready to tell the entire story in the hours leading up to the homicide. He told investigators that he and Jones were hanging out smoking weed when Jones told him he wanted to go back over to the barrier island because there was a specific house that had a safe. Henry had told him about. You know, where they could go get some money. He said. Because he had done a couple of break INS over on the island before and he knew there there were some other houses over there and the one that he that he didn't get to finish. He said had a big safe in it and that's where he wanted to get back to. He was at that time he said that, you know, they they went, they looked around, they couldn't find the house he was thinking of. He wasn't sure where that house was with, had the safe in it, but he, you know, he knew it was around in that area where they were. What they did was they parked the motorcycle under the bridge near the fishing pier, he said. And then they walked up the road trying to find the house that Henry was looking for. So now as they're going, they turn and all of a sudden they end up on this other property, which ultimately ends up being the Simpson residence and they just decide to give it a try. They pulled on one of the windows which was in the kitchen and it opened. It was unlocked. And so in they go. Jones went out first, Robinson was the lookout, and eventually they both made it into the helm. But then it's almost like Jones sees so much inside that he wants to get that he now motions for Robinson to come in. They went to the bedroom, started going through the Chester drawers and they found, you know, coins and watches and jewelry and things of that nature. And he said Henry started stuffing them in a pillowcase to steal from the home. And by the way, this was not the house that had that safe. While all of this was going on at the home, Brian Simpson was watching his son play baseball a short distance away. He said as they were in the process of that, he said they heard the front door open. And he said they just kind of froze. They said they heard somebody sounded like in the kitchen. It sounded like Brian came back home during the baseball game to grab something to drink, Dairy said. They didn't know what to do. And when Simpson heard noises coming from inside his home, he apparently grabbed the only thing he could think of, which was a wooden pole attached with an American flag inside the living room. And he must have grabbed that as some sort of a weapon, if you will, or something to go back there to see what the noise was. He starts to call out who's there and the next thing they know someone is trying to get through that door, almost pushing it as they are now inside the bathroom, and that person is Brian Simpson. When he approached the bathroom door, he heard voices on the other side, Robinson said. He scrambles up on the toilet to get outside the window, and as he does, he hears pop, pop, pop. He said I don't know how many times he shot, he said. I just heard gunshots, he said. And I got up on top of the toilet and climbed out and fell out the window. And Henry, because he's a bigger guy, like sort of walked over Brian to get out of the house. And now the two of them make their escape and leave the barrier island. They met up in the backyard and then ran out to the front and they're they're trying to get back to where their escape vehicle is, if you will, their motorcycle, he said. And they saw a couple of bikes leaning against the house and they grabbed those and and rode the bikes down there, ditched them, got on the motorcycle and and came back. But now let's come back around to how it was that these guys were back on the barrier island and Matt Harrelson asked Robinson what they were doing. Why did you go back? Like what are you doing back over there? Based on the Robinson statement, police would learn that the reason the pair were back in the neighborhood four days after the murder was that Jones had tossed the 22 caliber revolver as they were fleeing from the Simpson home. So they were trying to find that because Henry knew his fingerprints may have been on it, and so he didn't want to get busted if we found the gun. Robinson took police to where he thought the weapon had been dumped. We went there, and to this day it burns me alive. I I never found that gun. After Robinson gave that statement to police, after putting all the other pieces in place with what he said and connecting those dots, both men were charged. But Robinson soon became a state's witness, basically a cooperating witness. Clearly, the prosecutors really needed this witness. For them to be able to go after a capital murder case wasn't much forensic evidence that tied back to both Robinson or Jones, so having Darius Robinson on the stand telling the entire story was an important portion of the prosecution's case. But let's remember this right he's not just some kid that happened to be with Jones. There's the saying you've heard me say before in for a penny, in for a pound. Under the law, he is also responsible for the crime of felony murder. But ultimately they needed his testimony because without it, there were so many pieces that were just missing. And do they line up and were the jury get it? And this isn't the type of case that any prosecutor wants to leave anymore to chance than you have to. Jones we charged with first degree felony murder, armed burglary of an occupied dwelling with assault and battery, armed robbery with a deadly weapon. Darius we charged with first degree felony murder and burglary of an occupied structure. Prosecutors really questioned the fact that could Robinson just been young and possibly manipulated by the older Jones? Darius Robinson did enter a no contest plea and he was sentenced to 10 years. For Jones, things went differently. He was charged with that first degree felony murder, and he took his case to trial. You never know what the jury's and as you know, all it takes is one of them to have, you know, a little bit of doubt and they're just not sure, you know. And that's all it takes from my perspective, obviously, I I'm deeply entrenched in it and I've been living it and I knew there's no way these guys didn't do it. He went to trial, he was convicted, and he was ultimately sentenced to two life prison terms. But those justice results were short lived. I got a call. You're not going to believe this. I'm like what? He's like they they're overturning this thing. I'm like, you gotta be for what? And it turns out it was nothing we did. As far as the reason for that case being overturned, let's just leave it at this without getting too into the weeds. There was a request that the defense made at the first trial during jury selection that they wanted the jury to be questioned, and the judge said no, and ultimately an appeals court decided that the jury should have at least been able to be asked that question. Jones got an appeal and was going to be retried. That was, again, brutal. For a family to have to go through a retrial in a homicide case, in some cases seeing the evidence, in some cases obviously hearing the evidence and the testimony, it's troubling. So we've got to drag them back through that again for them to have to see the person that killed their husband and father again and go through all of this and hear all of this stuff, I mean, that's just to me, that's part of our system that's just wrong. How can you make somebody go through that again? One thing to note that at trial there was a defense. A defendant never has to give a defense, but Jones chose to, and he claimed that he was never inside that house. In the end, the jury rendered their verdict. Henry Jones found guilty, sentenced to two life sentences to be served consecutively. The defendant serves them back-to-back, one after the other. That sends a very strong message is unlikely that Henry Jones will ever be released from prison. In thinking about this case, I just keep thinking worst and best. There's so many things about this case that were the worst, you know, the worst timing for Brian Simpson to have come home. The worst decision for Jones to have entered that house for a burglary with that loaded gun and you could go on and on. But let's end with talking about the best. Brian Simpson had been watching his son play baseball just minutes before. His last communication was a text to his wife, and the subject matter of that text was about his daughter. He was writing about his daughter's upcoming choral concert. And those three things, his son, his daughter, his wife being the last things he did on this Earth, his last thoughts, his last acts, well, that really talks about the person. The best qualities the family man that Brian Simpson clearly was. They were just such good people and to see them hurt, it pulls out your heart. Lieutenant Matt Harrelson just hit his 25 year anniversary of service with a Vero Beach Police Department and continues to have a desire to serve. It was something he said during our interview with him that resonated with me, and it's so fitting for members of law enforcement dealing with these tragedies, seeing the incredible pain these families go through each case does become personal. It's seared into my brain forever. I mean that that just never gone. You can't Unsee it. You can't unhear it. You can't unfurl it. It's always there. Sir? I concur. TuneIn 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 for SETI Media. Ashley Flowers and Summit David are executive producers. So what do you think, Chuck, do you approve?