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The Verdict

Did a Florida wife stand her ground and kill her estranged husband after an alleged rape or was it a cold-hearted murder?

Produced by Chris Young Ritzen, Tamara Weitzman and Patti Aronofsky

[This story was first broadcast on April 25, 2015. It was updated on Jan. 16, 2016.]

On Nov. 20, 2014, a jury in Seminole County, Florida, took less than three hours to convict Anita Smithey of second-degree murder. Anita admits she shot and killed her estranged husband, Robert Cline, but, she says, he was raping her and she thought he was going to kill her. If Anita is telling the truth, a terrible injustice was done. "48 Hours" lays out the facts -- did jurors get it right?

"The day of the verdict, I was like, 'This is it. ...This is the day that my mom is finally free and liberated from this," Drew Smithey told "48 Hours" correspondent Peter Van Sant. "She can just live happy and free."

"And what were her last words to you" Van Sant asked.

"'I love you,'" Drew, Anita Smithey's 18-year-old son from her first marriage, replied. "I believe those last three words, 'I love you,' was in case this doesn't go right. I love you."

Anita Smithey and her family have been waiting four long years for vindication -- for a jury to rule she was justified in killing her husband. That didn't happen.

"It was the most painful experience of my entire life, to have to witness such injustice," Drew said.

"I believe that my mom did what she had to do to escape with her life."


Anita Smithey points out her favorite wedding photos during an interview with "48 Hours" correspondent Peter Van Sant
"48 Hours"

"I like these two because I think it shows that he loved me," Anita Smithey told "48 Hours" correspondent Peter Van Sant as they looked at her wedding album.

Anita says her relationship with Robert started out with so much promise.

"Robert was funny. I mean he could be funny. You know, dynamic," Anita said in her only interview. "I felt like he was really good to me ... He always had something planned."

Robert Cline, a former combat medic who served in Iraq in Desert Storm, was also a widower. He lost his first wife, Debbie, in 2003, from a heart attack. And he was raising their two children, Stephanie and Eric, on his own.

"My father was the best person possible," Stephanie Cline, 17, said. "He was kind, he was funny, he was smart. ...He was the kind of person that will be your best friend forever, the kind of person that will never let you down. "

Anita and Robert met each other at work. He was in sales; she was a database programmer.

In 2004, Anita, who also has two kids, was going through a divorce. She leaned on Robert for support, which turned into romance.

"What was your mom like when she was with Robert? Was she happy?" Van Sant asked Drew.

"Yeah, she was. She was so excited. He would always make her laugh," he replied. "I was thankful that he was around to just have this joy around."

"When I first met Anita, I thought, 'Wow, she's pretty, she's young, she has two kids. Oh, I've never had a sister, that would be amazing,'" said Stephanie Cline.

Stephanie was just as excited about her father's relationship with Anita and the prospect of having a new mom.

"I mean I've always wanted a mother. That's what my dad tried to get us, was a mom," she said.

On May 6, 2007, they married.

"Happy day for you?" Van Sant asked Anita.

"Oh yeah. It was beautiful. Stephanie was maid of honor and Drew was best man," she replied.

Anita Smithey, Robert Cline and their children
Anita Smithey, Robert Cline and their children
Anita Smithey

"When they first got married, everything was like this picture-perfect life -- with everyone always happy and smiling all the time. And then it slowly started to change," Drew explained.

He says Robert became distant, irritable and verbally abusive. Anita says it was all because of Robert's addiction to marijuana.

"During this time when your mom and Robert would argue, were you afraid?" Van Sant asked Drew.

"Very afraid," he replied. "There was just so much tension. ...It felt like there was a monster living there. If you said the wrong thing or you did something ... he would come after you and he would just go on a rampage ... you just didn't want to set him off."

Anita says Robert took his newfound rage into the bedroom, constantly demanding rough sex.

"I remember one conversation when we were walking she started crying," Anita's best friend, Jessica Flores, explained. "And she said, 'Is it rape if it's your husband?' I told her, 'Anita, it doesn't matter who it is. If you say no and they still push themselves upon you, that is rape.'"

This growing conflict reached a flash point on Nov. 19, 2009. During a heated argument, Anita says Robert put his fist through the shower wall and then pushed her.

"I grabbed my phone. 'Cause I just told him 'I'm not putting up with this.' So I was gonna call 911," she told Van Sant. "And so he grabbed the phone and threw it across the room. Then I went running downstairs because at that point he was coming after me."

"She thought it was escalating out of control," said Drew.

Just 13 at the time, Anita's son, says he saw it all.

"She looked at me with tears in her eyes the whole time and said, 'Drew I need your phone right now. I need to call 911.' And I was about to hand it to her and we're all in the same room and Robert looks at me and says, 'Drew if you give your mom that phone there's going to be trouble,'" he explained.

"My son said, 'Mommy what do I do?' And I just said, 'sit down, just sit down and just listen to him,'" Anita explained in tears

"I was just so scared, I didn't want him to hurt my mom," Drew continued. "She had to leave the house and run to a neighbor to get help."

When police arrived, she was questioned and filled out a report. Then she fled to a hotel with her kids.

"She actually parked behind the hotel so that way if he came by, he couldn't see her car," Drew explained.

Incredibly, just one week later, Anita moved back home and dropped the charges against Robert.

"Being educated and everything, it's embarrassing to say why I would stay," Anita told Van Sant. "It just looks crazy. Like, 'why would you go back to somebody who does these things?' But you do."

"That's what victims do. They stay with their abusers. Even though she knew he was bad she loved him," said Flores.

But just two months later, Anita says the abuse became too much. She secured a place of her own and filed paperwork online to divorce Robert. But Drew says that didn't keep him away.

"He tried and called my mom ... saying he was sorry," Drew explained. "He was trying to act like this nice, caring person again, trying to convince her to come back."

Jessica Flores worried that Robert would come after Anita again -- with deadly consequences.

"Robert had made it clear to me on more than one occasion that she was not leaving that marriage alive," said Flores.

"Robert said to you, 'Anita is not leaving this marriage alive?'" Van Sant asked.

"Yes," Flores replied. "And I told Anita, I said, 'He's gonna kill you.'"

And on May 4, 2010, Flores' worst fears came true, but it was not the result she expected.

This time, Flores says, Anita fought back -- and Robert Cline was dead.

Detectives Daniel Mattingly and Matthew DePanicis of the Oviedo Police Department were assigned to the case.

"When I arrived, Miss Smithey was already on the front walkway of the house. She was sitting down, she was crying and ... she kept saying that 'he shouldn't have been here. He shouldn't have been here,'" Det. Mattingly explained. " Anita first said Mr. Cline came over to the house that night and somehow was able to get inside the house."

"Give me a sense of what it looked like inside that house," Van Sant asked the detectives.

"He was lying naked on the left side of the bed, face down with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his back and to his arm," Det. DePanicis said. "All we had was that ... she had shot him."

"She was sitting on the ground. And she was holding a towel to her side. And it was saturated in blood," Det. Mattingly said. "She had a stab wound."

State Attorney's Office

Anita looked like she'd been through a battle with a bruise on her forehead, a chipped tooth, and cuts to her lower lip, face and neck. And she said that Robert sexually assaulted her.

"He did torture her in every way possible, mentally, physically, sexually, verbally," said Flores.

In spite of this, detectives quickly became suspicious of Anita, who, in their eyes, would go from being a victim to a murder suspect.

"I did not murder him," Anita told Van Sant. "I want people to know the truth, through my eyes. What happened -- I'm not the person they're trying to portray me to be."


Just 11 hours after shooting her husband, Anita Smithey was out of the hospital and sitting in the interrogation room of the Oviedo Police Department.

Det. Matthew DePanicis: I know this is probably very traumatizing for you. So I'm not asking you questions to have to have you necessarily relive it.

It had been 36 hours since Anita says she slept.

Anita Smithey: Most of the time he's a great guy. ...Things were getting kind of bad between us. ...He was really getting aggressive.

She had been treated for her injuries and had a rape examination.

Anita Smithey: He was smoking a lot of weed. ...His big thing, really, is punching walls.

Over the next two hours, she told detectives her story.

Anita Smithey: I thought it was just time, I just thought time will take care of this.

It all began shortly before midnight when Anita said Robert showed up at her house unexpectedly.

Anita Smithey: I would tell him not to come over, but he always came over anyway.

Anita Smithey and Robert Cline
Anita Smithey and Robert Cline
Anita Smithey

In spite of being separated, Robert Cline had often come over for sex on Monday nights, when Anita's kids were with their father.

Anita Smithey: I was a little concerned about what is he doing here. ...I don't really know where this is going. I'm like," I'm just gonna placate him." I really did not want to start fighting with him.

She said Robert brought over a bottle of tequila and he set up her cable TV. After taking a shot, they watched the show "CSI" for a bit and then started to kiss.

Anita Smithey: So, then, I'm thinking, "OK, he wants to have sex." So this is what we do. And he'll go home. So I was sort of consensual on having sex with him initially.

Anita said when they were done, she dressed and told Robert to leave. Instead, he became enraged and violently started to pull off her pants.

Anita Smithey: I'm telling him, "No. I'm done. I gotta work tomorrow. I'm done."

And then pulled out a knife that he menacingly held to her neck:

Anita Smithey: I'm like, "If you hurt me, you're not going to get away with this. Everyone's gonna know it's you." ...Because I felt at that moment, is he threatening to kill me? Like what is he doing with the knife? I don't understand like what he's doing.

At that point, Anita said Robert wanted some rough sex. He turned around to get coconut oil at the side of the bed and that's when Anita reached for the gun she kept in her nightstand.

Anita Smithey: That is the point when I got the gun and I put it under the pillow.

She says Robert began to rape her.

Anita Smithey: Did I think he could kill me, yes I did.

Anita couldn't take it anymore.

Anita Smithey: And I said, "I've got a gun, get off of me."

She took the gun from under her pillow and aimed it at him:

Anita Smithey: We were so close, like he was right there. We were so close. To the point that I think he was almost leaning on the gun.

Anita said she doesn't remember pulling the trigger.

Anita Smithey: I just had no intentions of actually shooting him, and I just ... I just did.

She fired three shots, hitting Robert twice.

Anita Smithey: He actually sat up and he goes and he said something like, "You bitch, you killed me."
I just said, "Baby, baby, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry. And I'm getting someone. I'm getting someone." And he said nothing.

"The interview continues on ... and through the process of the interview little things are added, little things are taken away," Det. DePanicis explained.

DePanicis says Anita's story was not matching the evidence they found at the scene.

Lt. Nelson Genao: You said the coconut oil was on the bed. When we went to your home, we found it in the bathroom. How did it get there?

Anita Smithey: I thought it's on the bed.

Lt. Genao: No, it's in the bathroom.

And that's not all Anita had trouble explaining. While she was clear about how she sustained injuries to her face and neck...

Anita Smithey: I don't know at what point in this that I got stabbed. I don't know.

...she was noticeably vague when trying to explain those stab wounds in her abdomen.

Det. DePanicis: Did he do those to you or did you do those to yourself?

Anita Smithey: I can't do this to myself.

But the detectives weren't so sure.

Det. DePanicis: Did you grab the thing and stab yourself?

Anita Smithey: No, I didn't.

They pressed on - again and again.

Det. DePanicis: Is it fair to say that you did freak out because you shot him. You worried about how we were going to look at it. And you in turn stabbed yourself?

Anita Smithey: I didn't stab myself, by myself.

Det. DePanicis: I know you did not get stabbed on the bed. I know you did not get stabbed while you were wrestling with the knife. Is it fair to say that?

Until finally, Anita made a shocking statement:

Anita Smithey: Yeah it's fair to say that.

Det. DePanicis: OK. So at what point did you get stabbed?

Anita Smithey: After I saw he was on the floor.

Anita finally told the detectives what they have been waiting to hear:

Anita Smithey: I was like, oh, my God. I shot him because I was scared of him. And I have you know other than a few face wounds, I have nothing to show for the fact that I shot a man.

To Detective DePanicis, it was a very damning admission.

"It's suggesting, not premeditation, but a thought process to cover up a crime that you just committed," he told Van Sant.

And with that, Anita was arrested. But her lawyer, Whitney Boan, believes that Detective DePanicis went too far -- bullying a rape victim into confessing something she did not do.

"He went in there with an agenda," Boan said. "He went in there with the idea that this woman is gonna be a defendant, and I'm gonna charge her with murder."

Anita Smithey: You guys are trying to trip me up

Detective: I'm not trying to trip you up...

Anita Smithey: Yes you are. Yes you are.

Boan says Anita was so traumatized after the shooting, that she should never have been subjected to an interrogation in the first place.

Anita Smithey: Well why didn't he just get off of me. Why does he treat me like that if he loves me?

"I saw a woman who was victimized not only once by Robert Cline, but again by the Oviedo Police Department in the manner in which they interrogated her in that room," said Boan.

"At a time when she's traumatized, raped, cut ... and you don't know the circumstances and has been up all night ... can you understand why people would say you might not get the most reliable, accurate story at that point?" Van Sant asked DePanicis.

"I can see that," he replied.

"Were you taking advantage of her?"

"No," said DePanicis.

Det. DePanicis: Our only intention is to get the full story and to figure out exactly what happened.

Anita Smithey: I know what your intentions are.

But Anita's supporters say that nothing she said in the interrogation can be trusted:

Det. DePanicis: Evidence doesn't lie.

Anita Smithey: I know evidence doesn't lie and you can keep saying that, but I don't remember.

"She hadn't slept, she hadn't eaten," Drew Smithey said of his mother. "She's been stabbed. She's had to kill someone and they're telling her, 'You stabbed yourself. You did this. Just admit it. Say it.' ... Of course you would say whatever you had to to get them to stop."


Anita Smithey's father never imagined he'd ever have to sell his 150-acre family farm in Indiana.

"My father bought this property in 1954. My children grew up here. ...A lot of memories are here," Phil Andry explained. "I had to make the decision. You know, is a farm worth more than a life? And whatever anybody says, it wasn't to me."

With his daughter's freedom at stake, Phil Andry sold the farm to help pay for Anita's legal defense team.

"And I don't regret what I've done," he said.

It would take more than a month for Anita to make bail.

"When I posted bond for her and got her out, she was suffering terribly," said Phil Andry.

The former Army chaplain who spent years counseling soldiers says it was obvious to him that Anita was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD.

"I lived with Anita day and night," Phil Andry said. "I was very worried about her emotional state."

She did not have a clear chronological memory of what actually transpired that night," said Audie Andry, Anita's brother.

Audie Andry believes that it is the PTSD that affected Anita's ability to get her story straight during that interrogation.

Lt. Nelson Genao: You said the coconut oil was on the bed. When we went to your home, we found it in the bathroom. How did it get there?

Anita Smithey: I thought it's on the bed.

Lt. Genao: No, it's in the bathroom.

"She had gaps in her memory," Audie Andry said. "She could not put together what actually happened."

Prosecutors Kelly Jo Hines and Stacey Salmons were assigned to Anita's case. They say Anita's family is just using PTSD as an excuse.

"I think that the act of Anita Smithey murdering her husband was traumatic. Do I think it rose to the level where it impeded her ability to give a knowing, voluntary or intelligent statement? No," said Salmons.

Belinda Cline is Robert's sister.

"Anita likes to be a victim," she said. "I think that Anita thrives on it."

A police deputy, Belinda Cline says she has seen Anita play the victim game before in 2003, when Anita told Belinda that her first husband was abusive toward her. It's an allegation his family denies and Belinda doesn't buy.

"So I would talk to her about injunctions for protection and you know, pursuing charges against him. But Anita would never do any of the things that I would suggest for her," she said.

"And as a cop you're thinking what?" Van Sant asked.

"I'm thinking ... if you are really in fear, then why are you still in this situation?" Belinda Cline replied.

"Do you believe that Anita was abused by her first husband?"


"And was she abused by your brother?" Van Sant asked.

"Absolutely not," said Belinda Cline.

Robert Cline and Anita Smithey
Robert Cline and Anita Smithey
Anita Smithey

In fact, prosecutors say Robert was actually trying to reconcile with Anita.

"Robert Cline was a man ... who loved his wife ... who wanted to make that relationship work," Salmons said. "This is not a man who wanted to hurt her."

The proof, they say, are in text messages he sent.

"In those series of text messages, it's clear that he's not this horrible, obsessed monster whose violent--angry, degrading in any way to her. In fact he's texting her, 'Love you.' 'Hope we can work things out,'' conversations about counseling," said Hines.

And prosecutors say Anita shared an unusual, but consensual, sexual relationship with Robert even after they were separated. Some people referred to what they did as rough sex.

"It was what they did. It was their norm," Salmons explained. "They engaged in role play. They engaged in a sex life where there was an introduction of at least a knife. ...It was something that she accepted. It was something she enjoyed. It was not anything that she objected to."

But what about Anita's claims that Robert was violent in their marriage? Like on that Nov. 19, 2009, confrontation described by Drew: "I just was so scared that I didn't want him to hurt my mom," he said.

Not so, says Robert's daughter Stephanie, who witnessed the same incident.

"She came downstairs and was yelling at me, 'Do you see this? Do you see this? Your dad just slapped me. He hit me. He's crazy.' Blah, blah," Stephanie Cline said, tapping her cheek. " No. That's not what happened at all 'cause I was right there. I saw it ... He never laid a hand on anybody, he would never do that, he's not that type of person."

In fact, Belinda Cline says less than two months after that alleged violent episode, Anita spent New Year's Eve partying with Robert.

"There's pictures of them where the two of them are standing in front of a Christmas tree together," Belinda said. "I mean I'm watching video of them shootin' fireworks and Anita is filming everything."

"So what does that tell you about her story?" Van Sant asked Belinda Cline.

"That it's a lie. That she's not afraid. She's not afraid," she said of Anita.

"It's quite extraordinary for me to listen to you tell this story when the other side is telling a completely opposite story," Van Sant commented.

"The other side isn't dead. They can paint the picture. She's got to paint some kind of picture because she killed him for no reason," said Belinda Cline.

But because the murder took place in Florida -- like George Zimmerman who claimed self-defense when he shot Trayvon Martin -- Anita is entitled to a Stand Your Ground hearing. If Anita's team could prove she shot Robert Cline in self-defense, she could walk free.

"Going into this Stand Your Ground hearing, are you optimistic?" Van Sant asked Drew Smithey.

"Of course. My mom was optimistic, too. It's so cut and dry. If you are being raped inside your own home, you said 'no' ... and if you are using a gun to defend yourself, that I feel like, there couldn't be a more clean-cut situation for the Stand Your Ground law to be effective," he replied.

But the prosecution wasn't going to make it easy for Anita to make her case.

Anita Smithey [crying on the stand]: I didn't want him to kill me. I wanted him to get out of my house. I didn't want him to kill me. It's not fair to my kids, but I didn't want him to die.

Prosecutor: You apologized to him because you knew that what had gone on in that bedroom on that night was not worthy of your action of murdering Robert Cline.

Anita Smithey: No. No. I didn't. I had no intentions of murdering Robert Cline.

"They're kicking my mom while she is down. It's so terrible to see," said Drew.

Prosecutor: You stabbed yourself in order to try and deflect responsibility ...

Anita Smithey: No. I didn't have to do that because I had been raped and I cut up and beat up. I didn't have to stab myself to look like it was self defense. That doesn't make sense.

But the judge rejected her claim that she was "standing her ground" when she shot her husband.

"She was just in absolute shock at that time. And so was I," said Audie Andry.

Anita Smithey would have to now stand trial and face a jury for murdering Robert Cline. But, just before her trial was to begin, Anita and her legal team scored a huge victory with a ruling that could change everything.


For the first time in a long time, Anita Smithey is optimistic. Just before her criminal trial is to begin, her lawyers win a major pre-trial victory. The jury won't be shown that damning interrogation video where Anita says her wounds were self-inflicted:

Anita Smithey: I mean I did stab myself ... I had a hold of the knife ...

"How concerned was I? Very concerned," Det. Matthew DePanicis told Van Sant. "I mean, 'cause that's -- that's a vital aspect of this case."

Anita's camp says Detective DePanicis bullied her.

Det. DePanicis: You stabbed yourself near him. Is it fair to say that? There's no need to lie now!

Anita Smithey: I'm not lying...I don't remember where I stabbed myself.

They say he tried to confuse her to build a case against her.

Anita Smithey: No, you guys are trying to trip me up.

Det. DePanicis: No we're not.

Anita Smithey: Yes you are. Yes you are.

Anita Smithey: I don't know, 'cause if I say anything you're going to use it against me.

Det. DePanicis: Nothing's being used against you at this point.

Detective DePanicis' response - " Nothing's being used against you at this point" --would become a major legal issue.

"And that mere statement kinda muddied the waters as far as her Miranda rights were concerned," DePanicis explained.

It meant that everything Anita said afterwards, about cutting herself, couldn't be used at trial.

"Did you screw that up?" Van Sant asked DePanicis.

"Umm, my intentions were good," he replied. "I guess it was a slip up on my part, yes."

It's a slip that could cost the prosecution their case. Four years after the killing, Anita's attorney for the trial, Rick Jancha, wastes no time portraying Robert Cline as a monster who attacked Anita.

"You'll hear that Robert Cline grabbed her ... pulled her down on the bed ... he pulled a knife. That he put it to her throat," Jancha addressed the court. "He was violently beating her, violently sexually assaulting her."

The jury is shown pictures of Anita's injuries. Without the interrogation tape of her admitting to causing some of the cuts, it's a huge problem for prosecutors.

They're hoping Medical Examiner Dr. Frederick Bulic will fix it for them. He poured over the photos of Anita's wounds - the scratches on her face, the cuts on her neck.

"I have the opinion that these are self-inflicted," he testified.

Dr. Bulic says the cuts are all shallow in depth and the cutter, he says, was careful about doing them.

Prosecutor Stacey Salmons: Is there any evidence indicating that these wounds were inflicted upon her by another person?

Dr. Bulic: There is no evidence that any other person was involved.

"I think she panicked," Salmons told Van Sant. "Anita Smithey's story is that Robert Cline was attacking her ... and what does she do towards that end? She gets a knife ... she calculatedly places cuts to her cheek, cuts to her neck, and cuts her abdomen in such a way as to indicate that perhaps she had been harmed by him."

And what about the bruising on Anita's face and her chipped tooth? Dr. Bulic suspects recoil.

"If the gun was held near the face, it's possible," he testified.

But then, Shirley Rice, a specially trained nurse who's been involved in more than 300 rape cases, takes the stand. She says after examining Anita, it's her opinion Anita was assaulted:

Shirley Rice: At the time I did the exam, I thought of her as a victim of a sexual assault.

Rick Jancha: And has anything happened to change your mind since that time?

Shirley Rice: In my evidence, no.

But when prosecutors questioned Nurse Rice:

Prosecutor Hines: You're unable, from a professional stand point, to ever say for sure whether or not the injury that you see during a sexual battery examination is either consensual or non-consensual, right?

Shirley Rice: I cannot tell you whether it's consensual or non-consensual 'cause I wasn't there.

"Robert Cline did not rape Anita Smithey," Salmons told Van Sant.

And to prove that point, prosecutors call Anita's former friend, Toraina Stewart, to the stand.

Prosecutor Hines: Did the defendant ever confide in you with regard to any sex practices that she and Robert Cline engaged in that stick out in your mind?

Toraina Stewart: Yes.

Prosecutor Hines: Can you tell us what that was?

Toraina Stewart: Playing date rape, role playing.

Prosecutor Hines: Did she tell you that they had engaged in that date rape or role play scenario on the night that Robert Cline was killed?

Toraina Stewart: Yes.

"Toraina turned out to be a snake," Jessica Flores told Van Sant.

Asked if Stewart betrayed Anita, Flores said, "She did in a way that she should've never betrayed her."

Prosecutors called the case detectives to testify Anita told different versions of what happened the night she shot her husband:

"And she started to tell a second story and I noticed the inconsistencies between that first story and that second story..." Det. Mattingly testified.

Detective Mattingly tells the jury Anita first said Robert waved a knife at her, but in a second version she didn't even mention a knife. And there were other inconsistencies. But Mattingly admits, at the time, he never took notes. Both he and Detective DePanicis are grilled about their lack of experience.

Rick Jancha: Isn't it a fact that this is the first homicide case you ever investigated?

Det. DePanicis: Yes sir, that's true.

Rick Jancha: Did you ask her how long it had been before she'd slept?

Det. DePanicis: No.

Rick Jancha: Did you ask her how long it had been before she'd ate?

Det. DePanicis: No.

Rick Jancha: Did you ask her when the last time she had anything to drink?

Det. DePanicis: No.

Jancha argues Anita was so traumatized by the events of the evening she should have never been subjected to a grueling police interview so quickly.

"I speculate, ladies and gentlemen, that there is one piece of evidence," Jancha told jurors.

As the trial was wrapping up, many courtroom observers believed the defense had won its case. But Jancha wanted to seal the deal to show just how traumatized Anita was with one last piece of evidence: the 911 call.

Prosecutors don't object.

Jurors hear for the first time the dramatic 911 call. But amid Anita's cries, they also hear Anita say Robert stabbed her in the stomach with a knife:

911 Operator: And why did you shoot him, did he hurt you?

Anita Smithey: He stabbed me.

Prosecutors Kelly Jo Hines and Stacey Salmons could not believe their good fortune.

"As we objectively listened to that 911 call that was just played to you, and before I start my closing argument to you, I'll address a few things just about that phone call alone," Hines addressed the court.

"Stacey, I'm sitting just behind you there in the gallery. And I hear you say, 'I set the snare,'" Van Sant noted to Salmons. The prosecutor smiled.

By playing that moment where Anita says Robert stabbed her in the stomach, it opens the door for prosecutors to contradict her. The jury could now hear that previously forbidden part of the interrogation video where Anita admits stabbing herself:

Anita Smithey: I just know that I freaked out and I picked it up and I stabbed myself.

"This is a big deal that you are now going to be allowed to present this to this jury, correct?" Van Sant asked the prosecutors.

"Yes," said Salmon.

"He didn't open a door. He opened a vault," Van Sant commented on what defense attorney Rick Jancha did.


Prosecutors close their case against Anita Smithey with the best argument they've got: that interrogation tape.

"She inflicted those injuries to herself," Prosecutor Kelly Jo Hines told the court.

It's proof, they say, that she was not acting in self-defense when she killed her husband.

"I think that is what doomed us ... completely outrageous. Ridiculous, insane, ludicrous," Drew Smithey said of the verdict. "She was being attacked. She was being raped, and she was terrified. ...I'm 100 percent certain she thought ...he was going to kill her."

Jurors find Anita Smithey guilty of second-degree murder. Drew watches, unable to do anything as his mother falls apart in court.

"I know exactly why she was so hysterical and why she collapsed," he said. "It's because she didn't do it."

Anita's supporters say they know exactly who to blame -- her own attorney, Rick Jancha, for foolishly playing that 911 tape and opening the door for prosecutors to use Anita's admission she stabbed herself.

"It's not a mistake, but a fatal error," said Anita's father, Phil Andry.

"Not only did those statements get played, but they got played right at the very end of the trial, very last thing," said Anita's brother, Audie Andry.

"Anita's camp says the only reason why they lost that case is because of the playing of this 911 tape," Van Sant commented to the prosecutors."What do you say?"

"I say that the playing of the 911 tape was only one small piece of a much larger puzzle in a two-week trial," Stacey Salmons replied.

A trial that took four long years to begin had come to dramatic conclusion.

"I was sad, I was happy, I was mad, I was emotional," Stephanie Cline said of hearing the verdict. "Finally, justice for my dad."

"I finally couldn't wait to look at his parents and hug them ... the same with his children," said Hines.

"When you guys left the courtroom, you were still pretty stoic, wouldn't talk to reporters. But when you went into the elevator, and the elevator doors closed, we could hear you outside," Van Sant noted to the prosecutors of the squeals he heard.

"I'll go on record and say I'm the one who squealed in the elevator. And part of that is just the relief that comes with it of knowing that you work so hard and that you succeeded," said Salmons.

But their feeling of relief didn't last long. Just before sentencing, Anita's attorney suffers a heart attack and falls into a coma. Attorney Whitney Boan steps into represent Anita.

"This verdict -- justice or injustice?" Van Sant asked Boan.

"Injustice," she replied. "She was brutally beaten and she was forcibly raped."

Boan was already planning Anita's appeal, focusing on that interrogation.

"I'm very optimistic that Anita Smithey did not receive a fair trial in compliance with the law and that she will have another day in court," she told Van Sant.

But first, Anita will be sentenced for Robert Cline's murder. She's facing life in prison. Her 13-year-old daughter is too upset to speak, but her son, Drew, begs the judge to show mercy.

"My mom is just - she's my everything and I just want you to know how much I love her and she's not the person that people are making her out to be," he said in court.

Drew tells the court he will continue in school with the hopes of becoming a doctor to make his mother proud. Then it was time for the man who gave up everything for his daughter, to make one last effort to save her.

"I've always known Anita as a very caring person. A person of integrity you know... she just added a lot-- to all of our lives, Phil Andry addressed the court. "I just appeal to you today -- briefly on -- the way she has lived."

Friend Jessica Flores tells the judge that, essentially, Anita is a victim of domestic violence and locking her away is not the answer.

"She wants to help other victims out there, she wants to make a difference," Flores told the court in tears. "Please help her to help other people."

To Robert Cline's family, the repeated characterization of him as an abuser is repugnant. The reality is just the opposite, they say.

"Anita was the abuser, mentally and physically," said his sister, Belinda Cline.

"She has no heart. At all. I'm sorry, but she doesn't," Robert's daughter, Stephanie Cline, said. "She shot my dad. She killed my dad. She deserves to get life in prison. A life for a life."

The judge sentences Anita Smithey to 40 years. Anita will likely be in prison until she's at least 80 years old.

"Justice has absolutely been served in this case," said Salmons.

"I agree," Hines added. "Robert Cline can never come back. He can never hold his children."

"How important was the moment to you and to the memory of your father?" Van Sant asked Stephanie Cline.

"The most important one yet," she replied. "To my father's name will not be dragged through the mud anymore, to let the real story show."

Robert Cline's children were adopted by his sister, Belinda.

Anita's children are being raised by her first husband.

  • Peter Van Sant

    Correspondent, "48 Hours"