TROY, Mo. – More than eight years ago, our questions about possible police and prosecutor corruption began in the Betsy Faria murder case. To this day, we remain surprised that no other media outlet—TV, newspaper, or otherwise—attended a murder trial that has lasting implications a decade later.
At one point, FOX 2’s Chris Hayes sat near Pam Hupp to watch the unfolding court proceedings. FOX 2 put together this report the night of the now overturned verdict. Defense attorney Joel Schwartz’s words in this report would prove prophetic: “We’ll do this again. I guarantee it.”
Looking back, it’s hard to believe Hupp wasn’t yet mentioned in our reporting. That would have to wait for the next night. We felt compelled to first raise attention to the fact that the prosecutor had accused four innocent witnesses of conspiring in murder. It seemed a desperate attempt to get a conviction and it worked. It was one of many examples of the prosecutor deflecting attention away from a woman who is now the focus of national headlines. That courtroom accusation would turn out to be among dozens of leads FOX 2 would follow in our reporting on “The Real Truth About Pam Hupp.”
The following script is from our original report, which aired Nov. 21, 2013.
LINCOLN COUNTY, Mo. – A shocking verdict in the case against a man prosecutors say stabbed his wife 55 times.
42-year-old Betsy Faria was a breast cancer survivor who was brutally murdered December 27th, 2011.
Fox Files investigator Chris Hayes was the only reporter in the courtroom to witness the many bombshells leading to an emotional guilty verdict.
Paramedics had to carry out suspect Russell Faria`s mother, who fainted. Another family member appeared to vomit after the verdict.
Family on both sides sobbed as they left the courtroom, their emotions coming from different places. The now convict’s family huddled together as they walked out to their cars.
The victim Betsy Faria’s sister described mixed emotions — sadness for the Faria’s, yet relief. Rodgers said, “Two years, almost two years, we’ve been waiting for this verdict.”
At about 4:30 p.m., Russell Faria was seconds away from hearing his fate. Judge Chris Kunza Mennemeyer brought in the jury. We had to leave the courtroom for the verdict, but had permission to shoot outside the glass doors when the Judge read “guilty” murder first. You could see the defense attorney react in disbelief.
The prosecution’s case was challenging. Police found no blood on Russell Faria. The defense showed Faria’s cell phone seemed to confirm his alibi, that he was nowhere near the murder. And four different witnesses testified that Faria was with them on the night of December 27th, 2011. Prosecutors never pinned down a time of death, but appeared to suggest Faria killed his wife right before calling 911. That theory then changed.
It would be an understatement to say we saw a surprise twist during closing arguments. Lincoln County Prosecutor Leah Askey accused four alibi witnesses of conspiring inmurder. It seemed to come out of nowhere when she told jurors that four different people, not counting the suspect, hatched an elaborate plot, then waited until the right time to strike. Defense attorney Joel Schwartz just about jumped out of his shoes. He explained later, “I was outraged. These were four innocent people who are not guilty of anything, they were accused of murder in that courtroom.”
Schwartz then said this about the verdict, “Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. Theres not one shred of evidence, not one.” Reporter Chris Hayes asked, “So what’s next?” Schwartz, “We file the appealand well do this again, I guarantee it.” (Hayes) “What made the difference?” (Schwartz) “I cant tell you. There wasnt one shred of evidence pointing to his guilt, not one shred. There was evidence pointing towards another, but the Court kept that out.”
Prosecutor Askey said the jury heard the late Betsy Faria`s voice. She said, “They were out for four and a half hoursand they deliberated a long time and I was pleased with the outcome and think that justice was served.”
Minutes after the verdict, Russell Faria made the long walk back to the jail where he
s been told hell stay forever.