Death of an Olympian

Self-defense or murder? In her first TV interview, Jane Laut tells "48 Hours" why she shot and killed her husband

Produced by Judy Rybak, Greg Fisher, Chris Young Ritzen and Dena Goldstein

It was shortly after midnight on Aug. 28, 2009, and in Oxnard, California, Jane Laut was frantically telling a 911 dispatcher that her husband, Dave, may just have been shotby an intruder.

Dispatcher: 911 emergency, this is Gaye Lynn, what are you reporting?

Jane Laut: There were shots.

Dispatcher: You heard shots being fired?

Jane Laut: Yes.

Dave's younger brother, Don, and his wife, Rebecca, were asleep in their home when they got the call.

"When the phone rings that early, you know, it's -" said Rebecca Laut.

"Yeah, something's not right," added Don Laut.

Voicemail recording: Hi, this is Detective Sonya Sanchez ...

"But we kinda laid there frozen," Rebecca continued, "and let it go to voicemail."

Jane Laut called her brother, Hank Laubacher:

Jane Laut phone call: Dave heard a noise in the backyard and he went out andIheard some shots. And -- the police are here.

Audio was recorded of first responders to the crime scene that night:

Police officer: Who saw him last?

Jane Laut: I did.

Officers found Dave Laut dead in the side yard.

Jane at scene: I want to check on Dave please.

Police officer: Dave's been injured.

"From a distance -- I observed ... Dave's body and he had two very close-proximity gunshot wounds," lead Detective Mike Young said. "One was to the back of his head... And there was a second very close-proximity gunshot wound to the back of his right shoulder."

"I hit the floor and I was in tears. My -- my Superman was gone," said Don Laut.

Not long after the shooting, Jane was questioned by Oxnard homicide detectives about what she said happened.

[Police interview] Jane Laut: I told you I'm trying to remember everything.

Jane said that while their 10-year-old son, Michael, was asleep in his bed, her husband heard a noise out back.

[Police interview] Jane Laut: He said, "There's something going on in the backyard."

"... her husband, Dave Laut, had gone outside to investigate, that she had gone out briefly with him. He told her to go back in the house, and that she had heard gunshots, and that Dave had not come back into the home," said Det. Young.

[Police interview] Jane Laut: I went in the house. I mean I kinda like stood there...


[Police interview] Jane Laut: And then I heard the shots. So I slammed the door.

That, Jane said, is when she called 911.

Dispatch: Your husband is outside?

Jane Laut [crying]: My husband's still outside.

"How did you first hear that something had happened to your son?" "48 Hours" correspondent Erin Moriarty asked Dotty Laut, Dave's mother.

"It was about 5:00 in the morning. The doorbell rang," she replied. "And then knock, knock, knock, knock, knock. ...It was Jane's brother, Hank ... and Hank said, 'Jane and Michael are OK, but Dave's dead.'"

Dotty Laut was devastated, but relieved that Michael and Jane were safe. Jane had been a beloved part of the Laut family for over 30 years.

Dave and Jane Laut

Dave and Jane Laut

Dotty Laut

Back in 1980, Dave was a hometown hero who had set shot put records and was destined for Olympic fame. His biggest supporter was the young woman who was about to become his wife.

"I mean, if you knew Dave and the kind of person he was and the way he beamed when he talked about Jane and how he had her up so high on this pedestal, I mean, he just -- he loved her," said Rebecca Laut.

"They met in high school," Don Laut said. "She was a homecoming queen and he was you know, one of the big studs in high school."

"She was a nice girl. I loved her all these years, I did," said Dotty Laut.

Jane Laut spoke to Moriarty in her first TV interview.

"Do you remember your wedding day, were you happy that day -" Moriarty asked Jane.

"I was. I was really happy. You know, it was really special," she replied.

"They had a good, strong friendship, and something that I always thought, 'You know, I want to have a marriage like that,'" said Rebecca Laut.

davelaut770.jpg

Dave Laut competing in the 1984 Olympic Games

Laut family

But the marriage faced challenges. In 1984, Dave Laut finally won an Olympic medal -- but it was bronze. Everyone was proud, but Dave was determined to win the gold the '88 games. And then while training, Dave tore tendons in both of his knees and forever lost his chance at the gold.

"He tried, but he couldn't come back," said Dotty Laut.

"He then became a teacher," Moriarty noted. "Did he like teaching?"

"He loved it, he did," Dotty Laut replied, pointing to his athletic director jacket. "It was his dream job."

Jane and Dave seemed to settle into their new life and tried to have a family. When Jane couldn't get pregnant, the couple adopted a baby boy from South Korea and named him Michael.

"We had happy times. Time right before Michael arrived was good. And right up 'til Michael was probably 5 was the best time of our marriage. And it just -- it just started going downhill. And it -- got worse and worse every year," she said, her voice breaking.

But no one seemed to know how bad.

[Police interview] Jane Laut: I'm trying my best. I don't know. [puts her head in her hands]

Back at the Laut home, Detective Young made a stunning discovery that would change everything.

"You found the weapon, didn't you?" Moriarty asked.

"I did," he replied.

"Where?"

"Inside the grandfather clock that was in the living room of the house," the detective said. "I walked over ... opened the door, and looked inside, and there was a gun underneath the weights."

Gun inside grandfather clock

The revolver used to shoot Dave Laut was found inside the grandfather clock.

Oxnard Police Department

Dave Laut had been shot with his own 22 caliber, single-action revolver -- the kind of gun you see in cowboy movies.

The weapon is heavy and an effort to use. In a demonstration, gun expert Nabil Khattar showed Moriarty that the hammer must be cocked for every shot.

Six shots were fired at Dave Laut that night, and according to authorities, all six hit their target.

"And the gunshots that people heard, were they, 'boom, boom, boom, boom?" Moriarty asked Det. Young.

"They were -- separated -- as I recall by about a second a shot. So, 'boom -- boom -- boom -- boom," he replied.

Just hours after being interviewed by police -- before she even knew they'd found the gun -- Jane changed her story. Now she said it was self defense, and hired attorney Ron Bamieh.

"There's no dispute that she wanted him dead that night. Yeah. It was gonna be him or her," said Bamieh.

Jane, Dave and Michael Laut

Jane, Dave and Michael Laut

Dotty Laut

Jane says it was when her husband also threatened to kill their 10-year-old son, Michael, that she felt she had no choice.

"I think if it didn't happen, we would both be dead," she said.

But even then, it would be nearly six months before Jane Laut was arrested, and then, she would be released on bond for six years until her trial finally began.

"Why? Why'd it take so long?" Moriarty asked Det. Young.

"Because knowing the who is only half the story," he replied."We wanted to try and figure out if there was a legitimate why."

"So why do you think she killed your son?" Moriarty asked Dotty Laut.

"My personal feeling is that she was afraid Dave was gonna take Michael," she replied.

JANE'S SIDE OF THE STORY

Jane Laut says she never planned to kill her husband.

"I thought I -- for sure -- it was the only way to stop him. You -- you don't get how he -- he would not stop coming after me," she said.

She was used to abuse, she says, but that night Jane says Dave went further than he ever had.

"Normally he'd get mad and it would taper off sometimes. But he never stopped all night. He just kept ... raging," she said, her voice low and breaking throughout the interview.

Jane claims she first noticed Dave's temper when they were dating and Dave was going for the gold.

"There were signals I didn't really pay attention to before," she explained. "Just his anger, his [pauses] you know, if something didn't go right, if he couldn't find something, if he's throwing away a shot and it doesn't go as far as he wants, he's just losing his temper."

The first time Dave hit her, Jane says, was also shortly after they were married. Dave was going out of town to an Olympic training session and it was Jane's job to pack his bags.

"He was leaving for a trip and I forgot to buy something. ...It was, like, bathroom supplies... And-- and he hit -- hit me. And -- I had, like -- black eye and my lip was split," she said. "And -- he told me that if anybody asks, tell 'em some n----r did it."

And that, says Jane, is exactly what she told everyone.

"I told 'em somebody had mugged me. A black person mugged me," she explained.

But Jane admits that was not the norm. Instead, she describes a pattern of mostly emotional and psychological abuse.

"How often would there be incidents? And what would they involve?" Moriarty asked.

"It was mostly verbal abuse," she replied.

"What would he call you?"

"Well, stupid, idiot, fat, bitch, n-----r, Jew, c--t," said Jane.

Asked how often would that happen, Jane told Moriarty, "The last two years it was all the time."

Jane also says that Dave would taunt her and their young son, Michael, with his vast gun collection and claims that he even made her play Russian roulette.

"He wanted to see how lucky I could be. And he kept trying to make me hold the gun. And I wouldn't do it," she explained.

Dave and Michael Laut

Dave and Michael Laut

Laut family

The older Michael got, says Jane, the more unreasonable Dave became.

"There's so many times I should've called the police and I didn't. And I so regret that, especially the times when Michael was involved. I can't believe I let him stay in danger like that," she said.

"Why did you stay?" Moriarty asked.

"I always thought it would get better," she said.

Yet, she says, she was still unprepared for what happened on the night of Aug. 27, 2009. When Jane and Michael returned home late from a day at the beach, she says Dave exploded.

"I didn't ask Dave anything about his day. I didn't. That just started it, that we didn't ask him. We didn't respect him," she said.

Jane put their 10-year-old to sleep early and did what she had been doing for two years -- crawled into bed with her son.

"Why were you sleeping in Michael's room?" Moriarty asked.

"Because he was scared," she said.

"Michael was scared?"

"Dave would stay up -- in the living room ... and he'd been drinking all -- night. And he's just raging at whatever. It's the TV. It's -- something, an e-mail," Jane explained.

"That would happen every night?

"Almost every night," said Jane.

Jane says she was in Michael's room when she heard Dave raging in the hallway, and got up to try and calm him. "He just started just swearing at me and I kept telling him I was sorry. And ... he started to come down towards Michael's room," she said. "And I saw the gun in his hand."

She says she focused on diverting Dave away from Michael and drawing him out of the house.

"We went onto the side of the house. And we stumbled," Jane explained. "I don't know if we were falling or just, like, moving. But I felt one gunshot go off, and then we did fall. And I was, like, straddling him and I honestly don't remember after that."

Five more shots were fired.

"When you got up, you had to realize he was dead," Moriarty remarked.

"I didn't think he was. Honestly. I mean I saw him. I remember seeing his socks. I just thought for sure he's gonna jump up and run after me," said Jane.

"But if you were terrified, why didn't you right away, then, tell the 911 operator, 'Oh, my God, he tried to kill me, and he's gonna come back in?" Moriarty asked.

"I don't know," Jane said. "I can't explain why."

Jane Laut

Jane Laut

CBS News

The District Attorney's Office offered a deal: plead to manslaughter and agree to a six-year prison term. But Jane did the unimaginable; she turned it down.

"I felt if I took the plea nobody would know what really happened. It would be like accepting what the prosecution said happened that night. It would be like accepting that they said there was no abuse with Michael or me," she explained.

"She's full of baloney," Dotty Laut laughed. "She's lied so many times. All her -- as I look back and think back, so many lies."

The Laut family now says the woman they embraced as part of the family is a pathological liar and a cold-blooded killer.

"Rebecca, you once said to me that there are two faces of Jane, what do you mean by that?" Moriarty asked.

"Jane likes to portray herself as very meek and quiet and shy," she replied.

"Then there's another part of her that's -- 'F the world' and 'F everything. I'm gonna do what I want to do,'" said Rebecca Laut.

"'I don't care who I hurt or in some cases, kill,'" said Don Laut.

A MOTIVE FOR MURDER?

Was Dave Laut -- the hometown hero, beloved coach and high school athletic director -- secretly abusing his wife at home? Oxnard Homicide Detective Mike Young was determined to find out.

Dave Laut

Dave Laut

Dotty Laut

"We spent ... five or six months doing dozens and dozens and dozens of interviews with friends and family ... seeing if anyone was aware of any domestic violence issues," Det. Young explained. "The direct neighbor, right next door -- who was a ex-LA County deputy. ...I specifically asked him ... if there any domestic issues, and he said, 'Absolutely not. I would've seen that.'"

Dave's brother, Don and his wife, Rebecca, in interviews, were adamant: they never witnessed or heard about any abuse.

"Did Jane ever tell you that -- that Dave hit her? Moriarty asked the couple.

"Never," they replied in unison.

Asked if Dave pushed Jane or was verbally abusive, Rebecca Laut said, "Never."

"Did you ever see her with any kind of bruises?" Moriarty asked.

"No, never," said Don Laut.

"Never ever," said Rebecca Laut.

Even Jane, on the night of the shooting, denied any abuse in her marriage:

Det. Erik Mora: I asked you about your relationship -- is it abusive?

Jane Laut: : No.

Det. Erik Mora: Physically?

Jane Laut: No.

Det. Erik Mora: Mentally?

Jane Laut: [Shakes her head "no" and shrugs]

What's more, Jane didn't look like someone who had been in a battle for her life; there were no fresh scratches on Dave or Jane.

"She had two small -- maybe nickel-sized, or so, older bruises ... on the inside of her left bicep, that were greenish and yellowish ... as if they were in the late stages of healing," said Det. Young.

Young says that evidence collected from the scene tells a different story. He says Jane followed Dave out into the side yard holding a flashlight in one hand, and the gun in the other, and then she took a shot from behind.

"The first shot was fired from a distance, striking him on the left part of his head, above his left ear," he explained, pointing to the back of his head. "Then the next two shots, we believe, are contact wounds on the side of his face. And then there's another gunshot wound, ... while he's down on the ground, is at least four-to-six feet away. ...And then ... you've got two more, one in the back of his shoulder ... and the sixth shot that we believe was the gunshot wound to the back of the head, which is the fatal gunshot."

And because the gun was a single-action revolver, Det. Young says every shot shows premeditation.

"She had to physically, manually, cock that firearm each time she shot him," he said.

Police say after she shot Dave, she hid the gun in the grandfather clock and then called 911 with that story about the prowler.

According to the Laut family, unbelievable stories were nothing new for Jane.

"She told me one time that a man died in her arms at the bank. She told me another time that she was held up at knife point at the grocery store," said Rebecca.

"Was that true?" Moriarty asked.

"I don't think so, but it was Jane, so you kinda just say, "Oh, OK," she replied.

But Jane now says all those stories were to cover for Dave's abuse.

"Is it possible she did make up these stories about a stalker and an attack to cover up injuries that her husband gave her?" Moriarty asked Det. Young.

"Well, I guess it's possible.You know, I don't know. I find it convenient," he replied.

Another secret police uncovered? It turns out, Jane and Dave were deeply in debt. Rebecca Laut blames Jane.

"She was the one in charge of the finances," Rebecca said. "I don't think Dave knew that she hadn't paid her taxes in three or four years. I don't believe he knew that they were behind on their mortgage."

And Dave may not have known that Jane had borrowed nearly $60,000 from his own mother.

"She would say 'I need X amount of dollars for a doctor bill. I need X amount of dollars - oh, I have to pay some tuition,'" Dotty Laut told Moriarty. "I just--just gave it to her."

A large sum of money went missing from the parent teacher association at Michael's school, where Jane was the treasurer.

"She told Dotty that she needed $25,000, otherwise the bank was gonna basically foreclose on the home. And it turns out that she took that $25,000 check, deposited it in the bank, cashed out $20,000 the next day, and deposited it into the parent club account," said Det. Young.

Jane again says she was covering for Dave, who had thrown the money into the fireplace in a fit of anger.

"But you had to borrow $20,000. He didn't burn all that, did he?" Moriarty asked Jane.

"No," she replied. "There was some I used because the house payments were two months, three months behind. So I paid for that."

But where was all the money going?

"I don't know. I paid for household bills. I paid for groceries and I'd pay for tuition. I know Dave ordered a lot of stuff," said Jane.

"I know, but we're talking about thousands of dollars," Moriarty noted.

"I don't know," Jane replied.

"We hired a forensic accountant who went through everything, and I think that their conclusion was that she was just a reckless spender," said Det. Young.

Rebecca and Don Laut say they are just as puzzled.

"We have since found out that Dave's wages were being garnished because, apparently, there was issues with the IRS. ...Maybe he found out that day that his wages were being garnished and he went home and asked," Rebecca Laut said. "I honestly think that he was fixing to leave. I -- I truly believe that he was done with the whole financial thing."

Rebecca and Don both say the terrible shooting and Jane's story of abuse came completely out of the blue.

"She told me a lot about their relationship, very personal things about their relationship, so I know that if that was happening, she would have said something to me," said Rebecca Laut.

But as "48 Hours" has learned since this interview, Rebecca might know more about Jane and Dave's marriage than she told us. In a phone call with Det. Young just five days after Dave's death in 2009, Rebecca admitted Jane confided in her:

Rebecca Laut: He was very verbally abusive. Very.

Det. Young: Mm hmm.

Rebecca Laut: To her and to Michael. ...I mean, gosh, there were so many, so many, so many instances I can't even think right now.

And she may not have been the only one who knew about the verbal abuse:

Det. Young: It's not the first -- you're not the first person that's said that. But it, you know, I, what, whatever she's confided in you and told you is very, very important.

Rebecca Laut: Um, he was just very, very, verbally abusive, and that was the main thing.

Could there have been signs of physical abuse?

Det. Young: ...she never made mention of him physically being --

Rebecca Laut: Huh uh.

Det. Young: -- violent towards, towards her, you sort of --

Rebecca Laut: I think, I think --

Det. Young: -- sensed it but she, she never said anything.

Rebecca Laut: No. She would get very quiet.

Rebecca insists that Jane never mentioned any physical abuse, and says that with all she's learned, she now believes that Jane lied about it all.

"Do you think that Dave's mother or your sister-in-law knew this was going on?" Moriarty asked Jane.

"They knew a lot. They did," she replied. "They knew what was going on."

JANE LAUT GOES ON TRIAL

As the date for Jane Laut's murder trial approached, Dave's family feared what they would have to hear. In her defense, Jane would be testifying that her husband, the Olympian hero, was also a sadistic abuser.

"Rebecca, what if the jury believes her?" Moriarty asked.

"I mean, it's gonna be a horrible day, but --" Rebecca Laut replied.

"What are you gonna do?" added Don Laut.

On Jan. 11, 2016, more than six years after Jane Laut shot her husband, the trial finally began. Cameras were only permitted for opening and closing statements.

Ventura County Senior Deputy District Attorney Rameen Minoui began to lay out the State's case against Jane Laut -- shot by shot.

"On August 27th, 2009, this defendant took this Ruger new model single six revolver and she followed her husband of 29 years to the side yard and she shot him with this gun," Minoui addressed the court, holding the weapon.

The shooting was premeditated, Minoui said, because Jane had reasons to want her husband dead: approximately $300,000 worth of insurance benefits, and the fear of a contentious divorce.

"Several weeks before the murder, Dave Laut was researching divorce on his laptop," Minoui continued in court.

"He was looking up divorce lawyers?" Moriarty asked Det. Young.

"Yeah, there was some web activity of divorce lawyer research," he replied.

"There's ... research done on the computer, looking up divorce attorneys," Moriarty told Jane.

"Uh-huh," she affirmed. "I didn't know that ... It was on his laptop, I guess."

"Did he threaten to leave you?"

"No. Never talked about it," said Jane.

But the computer evidence was only one part of the state's case. Investigators insist Jane was never in danger the night of the shooting and that she lied to police from the start. Minoui even showed the jury the grandfather clock where Jane hid the gun after she killed her husband.

"You said there was no sign of a struggle out in the back?" Moriarty asked Det. Young.

"No," he replied.

"Was there any sign that there had been any kind of fight inside the house?"

"Nothing."

"What about on Jane?" Moriarty asked the detective. "She had nothing on her face. During the interview, Detective Mora actually noted that she had a small nick on one of her hands. He asked her how she'd gotten that -- and she attributed it to her cat," he replied.

The defense has never denied that Jane shot Dave that night. But attorney Ron Bamieh has always said she had no choice.

"There's no sophisticated plan here," Bamieh said. "If you really wanted to kill the guy, you don't do it in your house with your kid 20 feet away."

"What evidence is there that he was the aggressor that night?" Moriarty asked.

"The bruising on Jane," said Bamieh.

Bamieh showed the jury photos, taken the morning after the shooting, of a large bruise on Jane's left arm -- an injury she says she sustained while struggling with Dave over the gun.

"According to the detective that saw her naked, the only bruises on her, in her arm were these two old, green bruises," said Det. Young.

"But it's possible," Moriarty pointed out, "a bruise can develop with time."

"Sure, it can. ...but I don't believe it," Det. Young said. "You're in this knock-down, drag-out fight for your life; no injuries on your face, no injuries on your breasts."

lauttestifies770.jpg

An emotional Jane Laut spent six days on the stand, trying to convince the jury she had suffered years of abuse, and had no choice but to kill her husband after he threatened her and their son.

Mona Shafer Edwards

Having turned down five plea deals, Jane had only one option now. If she wanted the jury to understand why she did what she did that night, she had to tell them herself.

"How difficult was it to testify at trial?" Moriarty asked Jane.

"It was awful, but it felt kinda good," she replied. "It felt almost a relief that it would be over."

"She sobbed through most of her testimony," said Marjorie Hernandez , a reporter for the Ventura County Star and a consultant for "48 Hours."

Hernandez says all eyes in the courtroom were on Jane.

"This was her opportunity to ... tell jurors 'this is what I was going through behind closed doors for 29 years in this marriage,'" she said.

It took two days as Bamieh walked Jane through a harrowing tale of abuse and even sexual assault at the hands of her husband.

"That guy sexually, physically, and verbally abused her for years, did things to her that are just awful, just awful," he told Moriarty.

Which explains, says Jane, why she felt she had to kill her husband on that August night.

"He pushed me up against the door jamb. And it was just like yelling in my face, telling me how much he's sick of this and that he was gonna blow Michael's f----n' little head off," she said.

When the prosecutor finally stood up to question Jane, the first thing he wanted to know was why didn't she ever call out for help?

"Did anyone hear anyone screaming, yelling?" Moriarty asked Det. Young.

"Nothing. The only thing that was heard were gunshots by several of the neighbors," he replied.

"You can understand, people wonder why you didn't scream for help if he's trying to kill you," Moriarty noted to Jane.

"I never scream," she said.

Minoui also pressed Jane on why she can't recall the actual shooting.

"You don't remember anything? Is it just a blank?" Moriarty asked Jane.

"Yeah. It is. I -- I mean I don't -- I remember the first shot. And I--" she replied.

"Do you remember pulling the trigger on the first shot?"

"Unh-uh," she said, shaking her head no. "I just remember feeling it."

"But I mean it takes more than that. You have to pull a trigger and- pull the hammer back. I mean it takes a real effort to shoot that gun," said Moriarty.

"I don't remember that. I mean I block it out," said Jane.

To bolster Jane's defense, Bamieh called witnesses who also testified that Dave had a dark side, and said that looking back, they missed telltale signs.

"They saw signs of his temper. They saw signs of him being very aggressive. They saw signs of him yelling at Jane," Bamieh told Moriarty. "They saw that. They would -- people would be disgusted by it. But nobody would say anything."

But the prosecution had witnesses too: friends and family who never saw signs of violence, and described Dave Laut as a loving family man and true hometown hero.

"He was not the monster that they tried to portray him to be. He was a good guy. He cared about other people," Dotty Laut said of her son.

Michael Laut testifies

Michael Laut, now 17, testified that his father had a bad temper, yelled a lot and called him names sometimes. When the prosecutor, Rameen Minoui, asked him if his father was ever violent with him or Jane, he said he couldn't recall.

Mona Shafer Edwards

Jane and Dave's son, Michael -- now 17 -- testified on his mother's behalf. His father had a bad temper, yelled a lot and called him names sometimes, he said. But when asked by the prosecutor if his father was ever violent with him or Jane, Michael said he couldn't recall.

"Do I think that there was absolutely no domestic violence in that house? I don't know. I can't say for 100 percent. I didn't live in that house. I'm very certain that the level of abuse, if it did exist, was nowhere near to the degree that she testified to," said Det. Young.

One person who did not testify was Dave's sister-in-law, Rebecca Laut. So jurors never heard the call between her and Detective Young.

Because Rebecca now believes Jane was lying, the defense never called her to testify.

"She once told me, towards the end, she was complaining about Dave ... And she says, 'You know, sometimes I think that we'd be better off without him,'" said Rebecca Laut.

The final witness called by Bamieh was the executive director of Los Angeles County's Domestic Abuse Center, Gail Pincus.

"She thinks like a woman, she acted like a battered woman," Pincus told "48 Hours."

Pincus says that all of Jane's seemingly odd behavior -- like lying to everyone including the police -- is actually a classic symptom of battered woman syndrome.

"There's all of these things going through her head at the same time, none of which are logical and none of which make sense unless you understand the degree of fear and the degree of trauma," Pincus explained.

After two months, the case was about to go to the jury, when Jane Laut took one final gamble.

"We're all in. We're all in," Bamieh said in his closing.

Murder one wasn't the jury's only option. They could also choose to convict Jane of a lesser charge of manslaughter or, if they thought it was justifiable homicide, they could set her free. Jane insisted that Bamieh tell the jury: it's all or nothing.

"If it's self-defense, it's not voluntary manslaughter," Bamieh told jurors. "And don't think for one second I don't know what I'm sayin'. It's not a crazy risk at all. You either believe it 100 percent or you don't."

"Why? It was such a big gamble," Moriarty asked Jane.

"It just made -- it just -- because it's the truth," she replied.

WHAT WILL A JURY DECIDE?

Over six years have passed since Olympian Dave Laut was shot and killed by someone his family once loved: Jane Laut.

Dave and Jane Laut

Dave and Jane Laut

"It's been a long, long, horrible haul, said Rebecca Laut.

"It's heartbreaking. For me, it's heartbreaking. Because I loved both of them. I mean I loved him because he was my brother. But I loved her too, she was like a sister to me," said Don Laut.

But as they wait for a verdict, their love has turned to anger.

"She's a murderer and she's a desperate woman trying to get herself off," Rebecca Laut said. "We would like to see her put away for life, because she took a life."

And now what matters most is what 12 strangers think of Jane: The jury can convict her of murder, the lesser crime of voluntary manslaughter, or they can decide Jane killed in self-defense and acquit her of any crime.

As the jury deliberates, Ron Bamieh remains optimistic.

"I'm very confident a jury's not gonna convict her of first- or second-degree murder," he said. "I can predict these things. I haven't been wrong yet in one of my cases, in terms of what a jury's gonna do."

"So it's gonna come down to either voluntary manslaughter or acquittal?" Moriarty asked.

"Right. We either walk outta that courtroom together. Or we don't," said Bamieh.

For Jane, the waiting is unbearable.

"It was awful. I was just trying to be positive, but scared to death," she told Moriarty.

At stake is more time with her son.

"You know, I had to tell Michael that if I'm found guilty that I'm remanded right away. I won't come home," she said.

After nearly four days of deliberating, a decision: guilty of first-degree murder.

"I was pretty shocked, honestly. I tried to prepare myself for everything. But I was surprised," Jane said of the verdict.

And in a poignant twist, it is Bamieh -- once so confident the jury would believe his client -- who needs to be consoled.

"It just was like somebody punched you in the gut," he said.

"Jane ended up consoling you?" Moriarty asked.

"Yeah she did. That's Jane Laut," said Bamieh.

Dave's mother Dotty Laut was in the courtroom.

"I was afraid that she was gonna get acquitted," she told Moriarty. "And then when she wasn't, it shocked me. ...I cried. And I don't know if I cried because she was found guilty or because it was over."

The verdict is no victory.

"I mean Jane's been part of your life for over 30 years," said Moriarty.

"That's right. It's why I -- I lost a son. I lost a daughter. And I guess I've lost a grandson, too. I don't know if I'll ever get to see him again," Dotty Laut replied.

Michael has been living with Jane's brother and sister-in-law since Jane was arrested and let out on bond.

"Do you miss him?" Moriarty asked.

"Terribly," she cried. "I know he's OK. I mean, I know he's safe."

Jane Laut is escorted from the courtroom after the verdict

Jane Laut is escorted from the courtroom after being found guilty of first-degree murder.

CBS News

But Jane, who turned down that last plea deal of serving a maximum of six years in prison, may never be free to be with her son-- because she is facing a mandatory sentence of 50 years to life.

"For Jane Laut, who's in her late50s, this is truly a life sentence," Moriarty noted.

"She will die in prison. Yes," said Bamieh.

"Maybe they can find something I did wrong or I should've done better, that could be grounds for a new trial. But the odds are, you know, you get what, two percent of cases like this are overturned on appeal," he said.

"Do you have any regrets?" Moriarty asked Jane.

"Well, of course," she said. "I mean, I regret that it happened. You know, I killed my husband. But Michael's alive. I think if it didn't happen, we both would be dead."


Jane Laut will be formally sentenced in June.

  • Erin Moriarty

    Correspondent, "48 Hours"