Bookie's Wife: Brothers In Crime?

Bob Angleton Faces Trial In Wife's Murder

While police were zeroing in on Bob Angleton for the 1997 murder of his wife, Doris, the multimillionaire bookie was trying to convince them that not only was he innocent, but that he knew who was guilty.

According to Angleton, his older brother, Roger, was the obvious suspect in Doris' murder.

First, Roger was known to be mentally unstable and had attempted suicide at least twice. "I would say that he went through many different levels of being crazy," says Bob.

The two brothers had been feuding for years. "I think he always might have had a problem with that I was successful and he wasn't," Bob theorizes.

The trouble between the two started in 1990 when Roger was working as Bob's assistant in his bookie operation, and Bob decided his brother was incompetent and let him go.

According to Bob, he and Roger had a violent confrontation in a parking lot. Roger threatened to expose Bob's bookie operation to the IRS if Bob didn't pay him $100,000. Bob says Roger even pulled a gun on him.

Roger continued to threaten him, and in a letter sent to Bob just six weeks before the murder, Bob says that Roger threatened to hurt his family.

"I should have taken it seriously," says Bob, "but, looking back at it, everyone else warned me, that this guy is dangerous. He's crazy."

The police weren't buying Bob's story until a few weeks later, when Roger was arrested in Las Vegas on unrelated charges. In his briefcase, police found an audiotape. The voices on it are hard to understand, but that tape would change everything about the murder investigation.

It's a meeting between two men, apparently discussing in cool and calm terms Doris' cold-blooded murder.

"I think you should just blow her away," one of the men says. "Go out the front door and just blow her."

It was clearly Roger's voice. But who was the other man?

Doris' brother, Steve – and many of Doris' friends – thought the second voice sounded like Bob.

"I didn't want it to be Bob on the tape," says Steve McGowan, Doris' brother. "It would be the best thing for the girls to at least have one parent."

The police also thought it sounded like Bob and, less than four months after his wife's death, he was arrested for murder. It happened on his twin daughters' 13th birthday.
Ali and Niki Angleton went to live with family friends while their father was facing the death penalty in a city that sends more people to Death Row than any other, in a state that at that time executed more people than any other.

Prosecutor Lyn McClellan thought the tape was powerful evidence against Bob, despite the bad quality. "I believe it as deep as I believe anything," McClellan says. "There is no explanation for the words on that tape coming from anybody else other than Bob Angleton."

McClellan and the police believe Bob paid his brother to kill Doris. The plan was for Roger to leave behind clues pointing to him, and away from Bob. Then Roger would disappear, leaving police at a dead end. Roger reportedly spelled out the plan to his attorney, Jim Skelton.

"He told me that number one, he was supposed to get a million dollars for the killing," says Skelton. "That it was a $100,000 down and $100,000 a year for the next 10 years. And their plan was that Roger would assume a new identity and disappear. Then the idiot gene kind of stepped in and Roger got caught."

That's when police found that audiotape. Roger's lawyer thinks his client made it as an insurance policy. "He was worried about Bob paying him so he kept a lot of incriminating evidence on the murder he could later use to blackmail Bob if Bob didn't pay him the money," Skelton says.

Lyn McClellan's case was beginning to look like a slam dunk, but first he needed to make a deal: Roger would be set free if he testified against his own brother in the murder-for-hire plan.

But McClellan never had a chance to nail down his star witness. The day before he was supposed to offer Roger the deal of a lifetime, Roger killed himself in his jail cell, cutting himself more than 50 times with a disposable razor. Roger also left behind a suicide note that cleared Bob.

Roger wrote that Doris' murder was just what Bob said it was - an act of revenge after Bob had refused to pay Roger blackmail.

It couldn't get much better for Bob and his defense lawyer, Michael Ramsey. But McClellan believes Roger lied in his suicide note, probably to save his brother. He thinks the truth about the murder could be found on Roger's tape. He hired an expert to study it. He wanted there to be no doubt in the jury's mind that it was Bob's voice they were listening to.

Steve Cain, a former audio analyst for the FBI, began by comparing the voice on Roger's tape, measuring the similarities between the two voices by using a machine called a spectrograph. It's not an exact science, but it's generally accepted as evidence by most courts.

Cain shocked everyone by concluding the voice on the tape was probably someone else. But whose voice was it? Cain can't say. To make matters worse for McClellan, the law required him to give Cain's report to the other side.

"It was a piece of evidence sent from heaven," says Ramsey . "I mean, can you have a better piece of evidence fall in your lap?"

Niki and Ali Angleton were only 14 when their father went on trial for murdering their mother. Now, the twins had to get on the stand and testify for their father, to help keep him off Death Row -- and keep themselves from becoming orphans.

The twins testimony was crucial because they would swear that the other voice on that taped discussion of murder was not their father's voice.

And, the testimony of the twins became even more important for defense attorney Ramsey after the judge decided to throw out Roger's suicide note, ruling it was hearsay.

In the end, the trial really boiled down to one thing – the audiotape, as distorted and hard to understand as it was. Bob Angelton's fate would now depend on what the jury heard.
After three weeks of testimony, the case went to the jury and the panel spent three days and two nights deadlocked.

"We wanted to believe in our hearts that it was him on those tapes, because we believed in our hearts he did it," a juror said.

But the tape was too hard for the jurors to understand, and they knew Bob's life was at stake.

"We certainly couldn't send a man to the chair based on that tape," said another juror.

Some jurors didn't like it, but they voted to acquit Bob Angleton of killing his wife and set him free.


NEXT: Another Trial Ahead

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  • David Kohn

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