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What They Saw

What They Saw

Wed, 15 Jun 2022 10:00

NBC News’ Dennis Murphy speaks to a Georgia father accused of murdering his ex-wife. While his friends come together to prove he is innocent, prosecutors count on his young children to testify against their own father.

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Would you hear little screaming? You heard screaming? I've known those kids their whole life. I don't believe for a minute that they made any of that up like screaming noises or something else like like laughing training. Believe their father killed their mother. They found her in the bedroom. A young mom stabbed to death. I could see her fighting, fighting for her life. I was so distraught. She was gone. She was your wife, the mother of your children. That's awful. I wouldn't wish that on anybody. Her ex had been to visit the day she died, a trip with the kids, and just like that, he was suspect number one. They had no evidence. I was absolutely flabbergasted. Everyone thinks this, police said they were a key to the mystery. His own young children, she says. She peeks through the mail slot. She looks in the mail slot. Yes. Ideas were planted in their minds. We're going to prove that he's innocent. Two children on the stand. What did they see? That was the hardest day, because I love them so much. I didn't do this. I'm Lester Holt and this is Dateline. Here's Dennis Murphy with what they saw. Really Sam? I didn't. Umm, Janice, I think you're good to go. Alright, Jared, thanks for sitting down with us. You're welcome. Thanks for having me. Did you take a butcher knife and plunge it into Sierra's neck and killer? No. Well, the kids were waiting outside. Absolutely not. That did not happen. No. Credibility. The reliability of years old memories, there's a lot of that ahead because this is the story of a murder. June 8th, 2012, Columbus, GA. It was an apartment maintenance man who found her. She'd been stabbed to death upstairs in the bedroom in the kitchen sink, a butcher knife. The victim was Sierra Ingram, a 28 year old nurse and mother. Her good friend, Kendra Smith says she hadn't been answering her phone for days. But. You know, why didn't I go down there and, well, I knew something was wrong. Police would later estimate that Sierra had been dead in her apartment for nearly a week. I think I was. I think I was so distraught she was gone. But I don't really think that at the time I put a lot of thought into like who did it or or why. Apartment managers told the arriving officers that Sierra had small children. So one of the detectives first questions was, where are the kids now? And that led to a bigger question. One all homicide inspectors ask, what is the back story here? What was this victim's life all about? They began piercing together the story of Sierra and Jared. She was your wife, the mother of your children. What do you think about her? And the brutality of it, it's awful, and I wouldn't wish that on anybody. Sierra, already the mother of a young boy, met Jared Ingram when they both enlisted in the army in the early 2000s. He and a friend cozied up to the pretty young recruit and tried to get her attention. We started talking about how none of the soldiers who got off the last bus looked like they were going to make it. And she stood up and she challenged me and she said I'm going to be at the top of the class. And I said OK, and I asked her if she wanted to go out. That weekend now you had a momentous early data. Is that too nosey a question? You know what I'm referring to. I I do. Our first date. We conceived the child, yes. We OK with that? Yeah, I was OK and I was excited. I always wanted to be a father. Sierra and Jarrett, intimate Strangers, decided to make a go of it when the army forced them into a quick decision. Get married or be stationed apart. When we got in the cab to go to get our marriage license, the cab driver mentioned to us that she was also a licensed pastor. So she drove us to her church. We got married on the steps. You got married by your cab driver? We got married by our cab driver. One. Stop shopping. The army, as the army does, move them about. They tried to build a happy home, had another child, but Jared acknowledged they weren't good at living together once we get married. We actually had our first argument that evening on the 10 scale, how how active an argument was this a good eight? But that set the tone for the rest of the relationship. That was every night. Why don't you guys just shake hands and say, see you later? It's been nice, the kids mainly, they decided. Co parenting was the arrangement that worked best for them. They divorced in 2009 and shared custody. By then, they'd both left the military. Sierra had become a nurse. Her friend and coworker at the hospital, Samella Payne, says the main thing keeping Sierra in Georgia was being near her ex. She didn't want the children to be right. Their father. She tried her best to Co parent and like, you understand that she didn't have anybody here. So she'd sacrificed her short term happiness, right? For the kids. For her children, that's the type of mother she was. Her friend Kendra lived in Tennessee, but they were as close as could be. When did you talk? End of the day, start of the day, middle of the day. All day when we were single moms dealing with, you know, our exes. And she was my support system, and hopefully she thought of me as hers. By June 2012, Sierra decided it was time for a fresh start. She made a plan to move home to Indiana to be near her family, their kids ages 6 and seven. Would stay with Jared for the summer and join her later. Was she dating again? Yes, she was absolutely. She was young, so of course, you know, she didn't want to be alone, you know? In fact, even before the move to Indiana, she'd already met a guy online who lived up there. He was going to help her move. He was going to come down to Georgia. He had made plans, but a plane ticket? And that brings us back to Sierra's apartment and the bloody bedroom. As Sierra's moving day approached, Kendra noticed her friend's daily texts and phone calls had stopped completely. I didn't talk to her on the 2nd, so on the 3rd I messaged her and got nothing. So I was like, OK, she's busy, called her, then on the 4th starting getting worried some more. You wondered, you know, was she ditching me here? I thought, OK, she dropped her phone in the toilet, but then you think about OK, well. There's other phones in the world. Or send me an e-mail. Hey, I'm not ignoring you. Samella was worried, too. She'd help plant a goodbye party for Sierra at the hospital, but Sierra never showed up. I remember sitting around the table, all the coworkers looking at each other, and you fully expected she was going to walk in the door. I want her to, but I knew something was wrong. Samella was at. Work on June 8th, when Sierra's brother called her with the news, I answered the phone. He told me we just found Sierra did. I don't remember nothing else after that. Jared says he got a call that afternoon as well. There was crime scene tape up at his ex wife's apartment. The coroner was there too. He says he feared the worst and went to go talk to the children. Just six and seven years old. We said a prayer. I told him, you know, no matter what happens, I love you very much. I didn't tell them any details, but I told them, you know, something might be going on. Mommy, we don't know yet. Asking if they had any questions, did they? Yes. My son asked me if he could have some candy and did you know his mom was dead? He didn't know. I didn't know. He, at this point only had. Assumptions and worries and fears. Assumptions worries, fears. And that was just day one. When we come back, the investigation begins as to see an officer approaching me with his gun drawn, and he raised it up and he said don't move. Police have some questions for Jared. You know the last one that I know of. To see her now there's something that you won't talk to me about and for the man Sierra had met online. Oh my God. Sierra Ingram was dead, stabbed three times in the neck and left to die at the foot of her bed. Her ex-husband, Jared, was tending to their two children when a police officer reached him on the phone. He asked me if the kids were OK. I said yes, they're fine, he said. They're going to send some officers out to talk to me, and they're sending a counselor to talk to the kids. Moments later, Jared saw a woman he assumed was that counselor in his front yard. As I approached, I looked, as you can see out of my peripheral vision, an officer approaching me with his gun drawn and he raised it up and he said don't move and so I put my hands up. He pressed me against the wall and put my hands behind my back and cuffed me. Before he could get his bearings, Jared says his kids were whisked off in an SUV. Jared okayed a search of his home and was taken to the police station for an interview. On the second line, the conversation started amicably, Jarrett said the last time he'd seen Sierra was six days before he and the kids had stopped by to pick up some toys before her move to Indiana. They removed. They ran right upstairs and started playing with some of their toys and watching TV and stuff. How long were you there for? See, couple hours, he said. They hadn't talked since that wasn't unusual. We didn't call each other a whole lot when the other one had the kids. Usually she wasn't like one of those that wanted to call everyday. Actives wanted to know about the state of Jared and Sierra's relationship. How had they been getting along? He said they hadn't had any issues lately, but admitted things between them were strained. No problem, I just. Once we broke up, I felt like, you know, there was no reason to have an argument with her anymore after that. They also asked Jared how he felt about Sierra's decision to move to Indiana and didn't feel any kind of way about it. Really? Did she ask you? So she just said, I'm. I'm leaving. Yeah, but, I mean, that was her. After about an hour, the interview took a turn when detectives hit Jared with a revelation. As far as they could tell, no one had heard from Sierra since Jared's visit with the kids. Meaning Jared was quite possibly the last person known to have seen Sierra alive. I feel like you're. More than it's in the transverse here is that I don't know. Right now I don't. There's only thing I know is that you the last one that I know of to see her. And so far, the last one I know that was there. Now there's something that you won't talk to me about. Be sure about that. I'm sure the detective told Jarrett that as they were speaking, officers were spooling through the video cameras at Sierra's apartment complex. What are you feeling right now? Feeling like I can't wait until you get finished with the rest of the videotape? And I'm feeling scared until you do. That's what I'm feeling right now, and I want you to be scared. Because if I was the last one that suffered a lot, then exactly put it on me. Well, I'm not going to put something on anybody. I'm going to take the evidence for what it's worth, and a look at some of the evidence made it seem unlikely that Jared could have done it. The murder was brutal. Bloody Jared's two small children had been there with him the whole time, though Jared did mention that as they ready to leave the apartment, the kids went outside first. You went outside to the car while I was talking to her and I came outside and she came outside. It doesn't belong here. The detectives really think Jared had something to do with his ex wife's murder, or were they just pressing him because he was the ex-husband? They ended the interview on friendly terms. I appreciate you coming in. It had been a very long night, Jerrod says. He was just desperate to hug his kids who'd lost their mother. You can see why you became a figure of interest here. When I sit back and put myself in the shoes of the police officers, absolutely. They show up at Sierra's house. They find her body, they go. They pick me up. Back at the crime scene, investigators look for clues to fill in the story. Could it have been a botched robbery? It was hard to tell if anything had been taken. The apartment was in such disarray with moving boxes, and there were no signs of a forced entry. But there was an attempt to clean up the scene with Bleach, and they did find a man's watch tucked into the sheets of Sierra's bed. Who could that belong to? What about this guy she'd met online, the man flying in to help her move? Police Department in Columbus, GA. His name was Ryan Morgan. Detectives got him on the line. Were you supposed to come down, come here to help her move? About a week before I quit texting me, Ryan thought he'd been ghosted, said that he'd cancelled his plane ticket and I just text her back and said, hey, thanks a lot for the thoughtfulness and thanks for wasting my money. Detectives didn't tell him right away why they were calling. Because I'm freaking. I'm like, well, what's happened? She she was killed. The reason you didn't hear anything from her was she was murdered. You've gotta be no. We. Was that genuine surprise? Oh my God. Of course they'd have to check out Ryan's story and pick through every detail of the last day of Sierra's life. That meant talking to her children. What did they see? What did they hear? Coming up. Can you stop that final family visit? What was happening inside their mother's apartment? Would you hear? All the screaming you heard screaming when Dateline continues. I'm Lester Holt with NBC Nightly News. The past couple of years have been challenging and exhausting for so many, and the headlines can often feel overwhelming. We all want answers. We want to know what it all means for us and our families. These are the questions we try to answer every night, making sense of the major stories and learning about the people and moments that inspire us. I hope you'll join me every evening. NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. Kendra Smith felt she'd found a kindred spirit when she met Sierra Ingram. Losing her was awful. Every day I'd get in my car, I'd cry all the way to work because I talked to her every day. Who would work, you know, every day on my way home. I mean, I'm just in tears all the way home. Similar pain felt hollowed out when she heard her good friend, fellow nurse gone. Just like that. So you were going to be friends for life no matter where each of you traveled to? Absolutely. We were family. The day after she got the news, samella drove to Sierra's home. She just had to see the place with her own eyes. You went to the scene? I went to the scene because I I distilled. Did not want to believe that she was gone. So everything's yellow taped and closed off, right? I was in there now. That my friend was gone. She spoke to an officer who was there guarding the crime scene. What did you talk to him about? Any and everything that I can remember that that she would tell me and what she was going through and what Samella said about her conversations with Sierra caught the officers ear because it certainly didn't match Jared's story. This post divorce relationship was more than just a little strained. Somalis has. Sierra had long confided in her that it was tumultuous? She would tell me. While he would break her computers break TV's just like I'm mad at you. Bang. Here's one for your computer. Yeah, yeah, yeah. The way the stories went, Jared would lash out if he couldn't get his way. Did he ever get physical with her, Sam? As far as you knew, she told me that, yes. But you didn't see any bruising or scratches or anything like that, huh? No. If she did, she would hide it. She's the type that wanna be strong. She didn't want you to be upset or worried about her. And he told us any stories about abuse in his relationship with Sierra just weren't true. Were there any hands on altercations here? Her, on you, you and her? Absolutely not. She threw something small things, not like a remote control, Jared told us anyone who knew Sierra well knew that she wouldn't put up with abuse. She was a very fierce woman. She had her way. She's not going to let you tell her any different. And she's very determined. I couldn't see her being in an abusive relationship. Of course, he says he and Sierra had plenty of scorching disagreements during their marriage, but once they split, the drama ended. Andy says they shared responsibility for the kids amicably, coparenting and very successfully. I think the biggest issue we ever had was that when she she cut my son's hair, I didn't. I didn't really like that. He had a big, puffy Afro and it was really cute on him and I liked it. But given what investigators had heard, they were now very focused on Jared. Did he have any opportunity to murder? X, What were the kids in tow? Jared said he put the kids in the car and went back inside Sierra's place to get the last of their things. Two kids sitting in the back seat of a car, a boy and a girl aged 6 and seven. What did they see? What did they hear in the next few moments of their lives? And importantly, what would they say about it? The police talked to the children the day they discovered Sierra's body. What grade are you in? Undergarden the kids confirmed that for at least some period of time, Mom and dad had been inside the apartment without them. Why would they leave you and your brother in a car? Hello. You never leave this in the car. Here they are talking to a forensic interviewer a few days later. Why do you think they're interested in the car? Maybe he's doing something. Jared's 6 year old daughter says she got restless and did what 6 year olds do. She says she got out of the car and went to the door, lifted the mail slot and peered inside. She told investigators she saw her dad. What was he doing? I forgot. I mean, was he standing? Was he sitting? Was he? He was standing. Just stand there doing nothing. Did you have something in his hand? He would just stand there doing nothing, she says. He told her to go back to the car, but she says she peeked in again. Investigators were interested in what she saw and what she says she heard. Think. No, but she she sound like she was someone. That one. That that was in the live room he used to upstairs. Mom was still laughing, though her brother says he got out of the car too, and he also heard the laughter. Or was it something else would you hear? All the screaming you heard screaming. Yeah, tell me, did you hear where they just sang? Like screaming noises or something else like, like laughing, screaming? Yeah. Screaming what in the world was going on inside Sierra's home while the children waited outside. Coming up, if you're asking, did I think he did it? It was an absolute no, a new relationship for Jared and new questions about those interviews with the children. The police are suggesting something for the children to say. In the weeks following Sierra's murder, investigators compiled their evidence. There were those police interviews with the children, and they had Sierra cell records showing her phone went silent around the time Jared was at her apartment. There wasn't a single phone call or text after 6:39 PM on June 2nd, and the only wisp of a lead? That guy from Indiana. Who was going to help Sierra move? She was murdered. Well, his alibi checked out and that left one person, Jared. So on July 1st, a month after Sierra's murder, I was leaving to go to work. And then people started getting out of their cars and put their hands up like this, saying, you know, don't move, you're under arrest. Jared was charged with murder and spent the next 15 months in jail before posting bond and being released. By then, he'd lost custody of his son and daughter. They'd moved to Indiana to be with Sierra's. Mom, are the kids taking your phone calls? Because I'm sure you're trying to reach them at this point, that part of my bond agreement is that I cannot speak with anyone in Sierra's family, including my children. So? So that's a whole area of your life that's no contact? Yes. Jarrett says he started attending church and began reaching out to old friends like Katie Duke, a girl he knew from high school band days always had a thing for him, even in high school. But it was just not good timing. It never was. This wasn't exactly great timing either. After all, Jared was accused of murdering his ex-wife. What did you think, if you're asking, did I think he did it? It was an absolute no. Why would they even think this? And how could it have possibly come to this? And you're saying that because the guy you knew that? Yeah, the character of the man, the character. Just how could, how could it possibly anyone think this? Their relationship grew from a friendship into something more. How did you decide you're going to get married? We started talking about it and it was a lot of back and forth because with something like this hanging over her head, do you wait till? Everything is over. And then get married. That sounds sensible, right? Katie disagreed. I basically told them I'm ready. I'll marry you. You know, they began their married life together in a kind of limbo, waiting for Jared to go on trial. He still hadn't been indicted. What was taking so long? Jared and Katie kept their anguish quiet. A lot of people in the church didn't even know his story. Right then, January 2017, four and a half years after the murder, the indictment came down and a trial date. Set no more secrets now. What did you think when you heard? In my mind initially, it was just and it's impossible. Debbie Duke is Katie's mom. Laura Duff and Jim O'Donnell are church friends. Did you ever think, my goodness, this young man's a killer? Debbie not for a second. The very notion that somebody could consider Jared capable of this was beyond my belief that there there's just simply no way I could apply my brain to that. The support wasn't just moral. The church friends offered to help any way they could. We had two or three people come up and says what? What, what can we do if like, well, pray I don't. But one of them said, well, come on, there's something we could do. What about all that paperwork? Couldn't you use help with that? And I'm like, that would be wonderful, that paperwork was the case against Jared, Mounds of documents, police reports, audio and video recordings, and to mount a defense, they would need to understand it. My lawyer was very good, but he has a small practice, just him and his wife. And so, as far as legwork, there's not there's not 100 paralegals going around to do legal research for him. Jared and Katie transformed their kitchen into a war room, and those church friends became legal assistants of sorts. They vowed to be objective. I was a true believer in Jared's character. OK, but if the evidence had persuaded you of the evidence, persuaded me otherwise, I would have gone with the evidence. But the ad hoc church team divvied up the work. Jim, a software whiz, took a crack at the cell phone records, and it took me some study and everything to try to figure this out. But it came down to numbers. Simple math. According to the cell records, Sierra was alive and on her phone at 639. Yeah, 3 minutes later, 6:42 PM, Jared cell records indicate he is still at Sierra's apartment, and 26 minutes after that, Jared's phone pings off the tower that the friends estimate is a good 15 to 20 minute drive away from Sierra's apartment. There's not enough time here for him to have committed the crime, and the the telephone traffic persuades us that the math doesn't work. It just simply doesn't work, at least by their calculations. Then Jarrett supporters looked at the bloody crime scene. Photos, which raised more questions in their minds. How do you walk out of an apartment without completely showering, changing your clothes and doing all that? That would add even more time, because tick tock, tick tock. He's got to get to that other tower, absolutely. Change clothes and there were none of his clothes ever found with any evidence on them. The friends then turned to those interviews with the kids and they transcribed every word, including the interview where Jared's son says he heard screaming. Would you hear? All the screaming you heard screaming. They noticed. That interview took place five days after Sierra's body was found. But in the police file, the friends found an earlier interview. The sun story about what he heard on that occasion was completely different. Here's that interview. Did you hear anything when Daddy was inside? I don't hear nothing. Jared supporters wondered where his son could have gotten. The idea of screaming the first time it comes up on the tapes is in a question from police just hours after they found Sierra's body was Mama screaming, screaming, screaming. Absolutely nothing incriminating about their initial testimonies. Those statements that come out later are, in my opinion, conditioning. What do you mean? I mean that the police are suggesting something for the children to say. And if you suggest something to a child of that age who's impressionable, it's possible that they may say, yeah, I guess it could have been that. And there was something else Laura picked up on. I could hear it. One of the investigators whispering under their breath, trying to tell the children to say something on their recorded. Interviews. Do you remember that? So yes, I mean, do you remember that? Was the officer putting words in his mouth? It's hard to say, but the children would speak about that day again, this time in court, where they'd be the chief witnesses against their father. Coming up, what's the little girl see? She sees her father standing, he has changing his shirt and he has a white bottle beside him. Two young witnesses with powerful stories to tell where those children coached never when Dateline continues. Hey guys, Willie Geist here reminding you to check out the Sunday sit down podcast. On this week's episode, I get together with pop superstar Ed Sheeran to talk about his latest album called Equals and Heading Back Out on Tour, Plus everything that has changed since the wild success of his hit album Divide, including Getting Married and having a baby girl. You can hear our conversation now for free wherever you download your podcasts. Hey everybody, it's Savannah Guthrie and I'm hoda. Copy and we've got some great news to share. the Today show is now available wherever you get your podcast. Can you believe that right now you can get your daily dose of news and headlines and the day's top interviews from us right here every single morning. We have what you need to start your day, and it's available every day wherever you get your podcast. Why not subscribe and follow today to start listening? In the spring of 2018, nearly six years after Sierra Ingram was brutally murdered, Jared Ingram entered a Muskogee County courtroom in Columbus, GA, to stand trial as her accused killer. But he wasn't alone. You're behind your husband in the church pews there in the courtroom was important. You show solidarity that you have a lot of people. So yes, we invited anybody to come and just let the jury see how much Jared is loved and how much. Support and love that he has sitting behind him. Muskogee County District Attorney Julia Slater and her team hoped the jury would be persuaded not by Jared supporters, but rather by the cold, hard facts of the case. Is it your belief that Jared Ingram murdered his ex-wife, Sierra? Well, the kids are waiting in the car and the motivation for this crime was what he did not want Sierra to move with the children to Indiana and would do anything to prevent that. Prosecution called friends like Samella Payne, who testified that Sierra told her numerous times that Jared was threatening violent. Was that unnerving for you? No, because I wanted justice for Sierra. And it's it's too long. It had been too long. I just had to do what I had, you know, my part. He's sitting there. Yeah, to the left of me. You couldn't look at him. I was so disgusted. I hate him. Hate to say that, but I do. Umm. And I just didn't look. The prosecution said Jared had another motive to the tune of nearly $13,000 in back child support payments. The prosecution also argued that the forensic evidence pointed squarely at Jared Ingram. Police found Jared's fingerprint on Sierra cell phone, a cell phone last used, about the same time Jarrett cell phone placed him at her apartment. So did he have enough time to do this? Yes, he certainly had enough time. We know that he that his phone was at the apartment at the time. Her phone went silent. There's enough time to have killed her. He knew where the bleach was. He could get to the bleach, to the the the cleanup that he attempted to do. We're not talking about extensive cleanup here, are we? No, we are not. We're bleach here. A little bleach there, right? Throwing bleach a few places in the apartment, trying to clean her up a little bit. Jared Ingram steadfastly maintained to anyone who would listen that he had not killed Sierra. But the prosecution found someone who said Jared told him a different story. About how he killed his ex-wife, told me how he did it and all that. A confession Jacques Gilcrist testified that Jared confided in him when they shared a cell at the county jail. He detailed Jared's words in this police recording. Say yes, stay out or Internet or something like that. This witness was able to give details. This particular person who had was in jail at the time of the murder. No way that he would have known in this information unless he received it from someone who knew it. But the star witnesses for the prosecution were Jarrett's own children. You hadn't seen them in years at this point, it's correct. They even look the same to you. No. Are you making eye contact with him? You're trying to send him any messages? I'm looking at him. They're not making any eye contact with me. They did mouth, I love you. Umm, that was about all that. I thought I could get away with, the children, then 12 and 13 years old, told the jury with clear eyed detail. What happened that last day? They saw their mother alive and the details were more damning than ever, as when Jared's daughter testified about peeking through that mail slot. What's the little girl see? She sees her father standing, he has. He is changing his shirt and he has a white bottle beside him on the floor. That. He doesn't know. She doesn't know what it is. But a white bottle beside him? A white bottle? Bleach? A change of clothes? Those sounded like new elements. Were those children coached to give details of their story? Never was it different years later than it had been at the beginning. There were more details years later and there were some things that were clarified. But no, the the children were never coached. They were forensically interviewed intentionally so that they would not have ideas put in their heads, and they were never coached with what to say on the stand. Are you persuaded that little girl saw her father changing his clothing and doing a cleanup? Absolutely. And that the little boy heard screams, absolutely. Heard his mother's dying declaration, as it were? Yes. So sad that they had to see and hear that. But yes, that's what they saw and heard. But there was another version of what happened that day, and the jury was about to weigh the credibility of that storyteller. Growing up, I've been waiting six years to be able to stand up in front of a jury and say I didn't do this. Who would the jury believe, the children or their father? What if this jury says you're guilty? What if? 12 jurors sitting in judgment of Jared Ingram so, back to where we began. Did you take a butcher knife and plunge it into Sierra's neck and kill her? No. Kids were waiting outside. Absolutely not. Pour bleach on her. No, that did not happen. No, that's been the story for your life for the last one. How many years now? Six years? It had been six years since the crime, six years of suspicion. But Jared's attorney, Mike Reynolds, says it had taken investigators mere hours to come to a conclusion. You get domestic cases, we get a lot of them, and there's almost an automatic that you go and go to the deceased former spouse or current spouse and that's my man. We're going to make it fit. And the defense argued there wasn't a shred of physical evidence linking Jared to the actual murder. No DNA, no prints on the possible murder weapon, nothing in that bloody scene at Sierra's apartment. All the prosecution pointed to was Jared's fingerprint on her cell phone. He was over at that townhouse quite a bit. It would not have been uncommon for his fingerprints to be all over this place, Jarrett says. Sure, he used Sierra's phone that day. I just remember my daughter handed me the phone saying that it was. Her older brother in Indiana and that he wanted to talk to me and they weren't worried at all about that jailhouse snitch. He was totally. Not credible, as most snitches are not because if you talk with any jurors they don't want, they don't believe them. I mean, you don't call somebody and talk about another crime unless you expect to get something out of it. They live right here, but what about the kids and their ever important stories? The defense questioned the new details, dad changing his shirt, the white bottle of what could have been bleach. You're saying that the the cops in this case are seeding the story? They're coaching the kids? I absolutely think that they were asking leading questions that were leading them to conclusions that they didn't originally have. Jared's attorney was confident the jurors would understand the facts if they heard from Jared directly. I knew that he was going to make a good witness. Most particularly because he was well spoken. You took the stand, always risky, rarely advised. But you did it. There was no question. Why did you take the stand? I've been waiting six years to be able to stand up in front of a jury and stand up in front of a judge and say I didn't do this, but it exposes you to aggressive cross examination by the prosecutor. It does. And that was rough. It seemed like he was doing everything in his power to kind of get a rise out of me, provoke you, so the jury could exactly show the jury the monster. Jared faced the prosecutors questions for more than a dozen hours over three days. So this is a poor set of facts that have come together against you. You're the last known adult to have seen her. The kids are saying they've heard screaming in the house, the father acting very suspiciously. Bleach, it's everything seems to be consistent with you going in and killing Sierra and doing a rough clean up and then coming out. Absolutely not. If I had done a quick, rough cleanup, there would have been something on me. There have been something in the car. The police had the car in their custody. They combed it. Inch to inch, they they found no blood. They found no bleach. That that that's impossible. Jared denied he'd ever been violent with Sierra the defense, pointing out there's never been so much as a single report to the police. And no, child support wasn't a problem. He said they were working on it, and he hadn't been upset about the ex's move to Indiana, either. His new wife, Katie, watched from the gallery. I'm cool. Very intelligent. He's our evidence. The jury went out to deliberate. 2 days passed without a verdict. Then, in an odd quirk of the court calendar, everyone took a week off. No decision. What if this jury says you're guilty? You know, I. We couldn't stop hugging. I mean we're we're pretty much always like that, but there's I guess a little more emotion behind it because of. What if Jared was charged with the Commission of four felonies, including murder? What were you hoping for in the court? That he would be found guilty. And what do you do? It took less than two hours once the jury went back at it. You're watching the faces as they violent I am very intently and nobody's given anything away. And then what? You hear the words, they start reading off the counts one at a time. And it's just not guilty, not guilty, not guilty. Jared Ingram not guilty of the murder of Sierra Ingram. I started crying. I've never in my life cried in happiness. Never in that moment I cried in happiness. For Sierra's friends and family, the reaction was much different. Was surprised. And I think that my surprise came mostly from the children's testimony. I don't believe for a minute that anyone coached them into saying any of that. They told the jury what they saw and what they heard. Yeah, absolutely believe that. And if you believe it, it means that he's guilty. Right. You think Jared murdered Sarah? I do. Does she need justice? She does. I don't know how they're going to get it. But the prosecutor says not guilty is not the same as innocent. I do think that he is the murderer, and we would not have tried him if we didn't have confidence in that. Jared and Katie are grateful to the circle of friends who they say helped acquit him. Though he's fought for custody. Jared's children have been living with Sierra's mother since 2012. The frustration of still not being in contact with my children has been hard. Is it better at this point, given all the poison that you say has been put before them, poisoning their minds toward you? Is it better just to let them be raised by their grandmother and maybe later on in life when they're they're bigger, you can catch up with them. Absolutely not. But they think you killed their mother. I don't know if they think that or not. I think they've just trained to hate and fear me. It would be better for them to heal this relationship as soon as possible. The children, what they saw, what they heard, what they remembered. Sierra's friends say what's more important now is what they know about the woman lost on that day. If her kids start to forget her, the memory dims. What would you sit down and tell them about their mother? Love them. She said those kids were everything to her. You know, she thought they were her world. That's all for now. I'm Lester Holt. Thanks for joining us.