Love, Hate & Obsession

Who wanted one-time millionaire Lanny Horwitz dead more: his jealous ex-wife or his angry son?

Produced by Sara Ely Hulse and Michelle Feuer

[This story first aired on Dec. 14, 2013. It was updated on June 28, 2014.]

Radley Horwitz was asleep at his parents Jupiter, Fla., home on Sept. 30, 2011, when he woke up to a nightmare.

"I still want to know exactly what happened that morning," he told "48 Hours" correspondent Peter Van Sant. "And I jumped out of bed ... and heard -- I-- I don't know how many shots."

Disoriented and defenseless with the house alarm blaring, Radley stayed in his room -- not knowing if the shooter would make him the next target.

"I was basically pacing back and forth in my room like a trapped rat. I was afraid to go out that door there," he said.

"You don't know who's been shot. You don't know who's got the gun in their hands," Van Sant noted to Radley.

"I could hear my mom screamin' my name," he replied.

"And then more shots and they were -- they were pretty-- pretty rapid ... I heard a real lot of -- of dry firing... I knew that the gun was empty," said Radley.

When the shooting stopped, Radley rushed down the hall into his parent's bedroom. He looked into the master bathroom and saw his father, 66-year-old Lanny Horwitz.

"I was scared. And I -- I ran out of there," Radley said. "... he -- he looked like he was certainly beyond -- any help."

"When you came out, what was your mother's state. Was she sobbing? Was she panicked?" Van Sant asked.

"She was hysterical," Radley replied. He says he then left his mother, Donna, so he could turn off that house alarm. A security officer in this gated community rushed to the house.

"And he was at the door in a flash," said Radley.

Security made the 911 call:

911 operator: 911 Emergency.

Luis Garcia: Yes this is Admiral Cove security ... I'm calling in because we have a dead person at 408 Marnier.

911 operator: Did he shoot himself?

Luis Garcia: That's what it sounds like to me.

911 operator: OK, so he committed suicide?

Luis Garcia: Correct.

"I received a call ... to respond to Admiral's Cove for a death investigation, possible suicide," said Detective Eric Frank of the Jupiter Police Department.

Detective Frank responded and found three family members that lived at the home.

horwitz.jpg
From left, Lanny, Radley and Donna Horwitz
Radley Horwitz

"There was Lanny's ex-wife Donna ... they actually were divorced but they were still living together. Their son, Radley, lived with them. ... There's a guest house to your right which is where -- the grandmother -- Anita, was staying," he explained.

"You were in the guest house. What did you hear?" Van Sant asked Anita Carnevale, Donna's mother.

"Nothing. Nothing," she replied.

Detective Frank spoke to Luis Garcia, the Admiral's Cove Security guard who found Lanny with the gun in his hand and was one of the few to speak to Donna that morning:

"I said 'Was anything going on last night' and she said he said he was going to do this and I said 'What, kill himself? And she said 'yes,'" Garcia told investigators.

"There was blood everywhere ... It was very hard to determine what were gunshot wounds at that point," Det. Frank explained. "Once I stepped into the bathroom ... and looked back towards the shower door ... you can plainly see the bullet hole through -- through the glass and through the towel that was hangin' over the door. ... And that made me stop everyone where we were and say, 'Something's wrong here.'"

It wasn't until the coroner moved Lanny's body 10 hours later that it became clear this was no suicide. Lanny had been shot nine times.

"Based on our investigation, Lanny was shot while he was in the shower first. And as he's getting outta the shower, he was shot multiple additional times to where he fell and was basically executed on that floor," the detective told Van Sant.

Violent crimes are almost unheard of in this wealthy development called Admiral's Cove.

"Admiral's Cove is a beautiful development," Barry Horwitz, Lanny's older brother, said. "Lanny had a beautiful home on the water. ... it was a prestigious place to live.

Barry says, at one time, Lanny and Donna lived a life most people would envy.

"They had homes all over the country. They -- they're able to travel all over the world. He had sailboats. He had airplanes," Barry said. "Anything life could offer was there for them."

"Your brother was a business whirlwind, wasn't he? I mean, incredibly gifted businessman?" Van Sant asked.

"Absolutely. I won't argue with that," Barry replied. "Lanny was a millionaire at a very early age."

Growing up in Buffalo, N.Y., Barry says his brother was focused on being a success from an early age.

"At 16. He was a real estate salesman for my father, who did commercial real estate. Within a short time, he became a real estate broker,' Barry said. "And he took to it -- like nothing I've ever seen."

The only thing Lanny seemed to make time for was his high school sweetheart, Donna.

"Donna was a knockout," Barry said. "And then I think Lanny was obsessed. He loved her. He didn't wanna date anybody else. And they were always together."

"... my father told me that when he saw my mother coming down the stairs that he knew right then that that was the -- the woman that he wanted to marry. And at the time she was 14 and he was 15," said Radley.

The love birds married in 1967. "... it was -- a great home life ... my parents were the greatest people in the world," said Radley.

Donna was a stay-at-home mom and Radley was their only child. But after 30 years of marriage, his parent's relationship became a soap opera.

"Your parents were first married in Buffalo in 1967," Van Sant noted to Radley.

"Correct, yes," he replied.

"Divorced in May of 2001, remarried in September 2001, and then divorced again in June 2002," said Van Sant.

"That sounds about right," Radley said. "it was -- a roller coaster, yes.

Asked what led to the first divorce, Radley told Van Sant, "My mother felt that she was being ignored ... And wound up gettin' picked up by a fella that worked there that was a security guard. ... my father was so incensed and disgusted."

After nine years of seeing each other sporatically, the on-again-off-again couple reconciled in 2011, as described in Donna's day planner-turned-journal. She called Lanny by her pet name: Lanbo.

April 18, 2011: So happy Lanbo + I are getting back together

By April 2011, Donna had moved back into the Admiral's Cove house with Lanny and Radley, a single dad, who did odd jobs for his father.

"My mom moved back home, my grandmother moved into the guest house. And -- my father's line was, 'You know, we're all gonna be family again.' And - it -- did not work out that way," Radley told Van Sant. "And my father's behavior towards her very, very much changed. ... he had never forgiven her for -- for leaving him it was very obvious. And personality-wise he could be-- a difficult person to-- to get along with."

But Radley could never imagine his parents' relationship coming to such a violent end, he says, if it wasn't for another woman:

"My parents had their ups and downs and their problems but this never would have happened if it was not for Francine Tice," he said.

Francine Tice: Mistress or Business Partner?

Assistant State Attorney Aleathea McRoberts was at the crime scene that day and Lanny's bullet-ridden body told her this was no ordinary homicide case.

"There's no question that this is a tragic, horrible, horrible case," McRoberts said. "It was clear that this was a statement that was being made by the shooter,"

Radley Horwitz was described as stoic, while his mother, Donna, appeared visibly upset.

"At the scene she shuts down. She does not talk to police," assistant state attorney Lauren Godden said. "And she does not talk to anyone. She puts her fingers over her ears and mouths, 'I can't hear you.'"

CSI investigator Tracie McClendon began processing the crime scene, shooting video and pictures.

"There was no forced entry into the home," McClendon told Van Sant as she showed him the crime scene photos she took that day. "There was nothing."

In the video, you can hear the hiss of the shower and the television that Lanny left on. As investigators looked for clues, they discovered an arsenal of weapons.

"This is a photograph of -- firearms that were found in the home," McClendon pointed out to Van Sant.

"That looks pretty serious," he said.

"This is another gun we found in the house. And this is another one," McClendon continued. "These are more firearms found in the house."

From handguns to assault rifles -- 26 in all -- and thousands of rounds of ammunition in military-style ammo boxes were found in the house.

Most of the weapons were registered to Lanny and his son, Radley, a former licensed gun dealer and enthusiast.

Asked if this was unusual based on her experience, McClendon told Van Sant, "I've never seen that many guns in someone's house."

But it was two revolvers that were found in the master bedroom area that were of immediate interest: one gun was Donna's and the other was registered to Lanny.

"There was the firearm that had been in his hand ... It's a five-shot Smith & Wesson revolver," Det. Frank explained. "And there's another gun ... sitting right on top of the dresser."

"Both of those guns were matched to projectiles in and around Lanny," Det. Frank continued.

Incredibly, even though Radley and his mother were obvious persons of interest, cops let them leave.

"We let them leave the scene because ... we wanted to have that time to build that case as best we can," said Det. Frank.

"In virtually every murder case I've been involved with ... you take them to the police house, you separate them, and you question them. That was not done here," Van Sant noted to McRoberts.

"You can't arrest somebody just for suspicion of murder," McRoberts replied. "The initial focus is clearly, it's just Donna and Radley, but we didn't take that at face value."

Police spent days collecting evidence and going through the family's personal belongings.

"We're learning that this is a very dysfunctional house," Det. Frank told Van Sant.

One very telling item that was recovered was that journal Donna kept:

Feb. 18, 2001: He couldn't stop hugging me + telling me how much he misses me.

"In the beginning of the journal, she talks about all the positive things," co-prosecutor Lauren Godden explained. "She was spending time with her granddaughter ... Radley has a daughter, her name is Gianna. ... It's a situation where she is very hopeful."

Donna was excited when Lanny asked her to move back in with him, even though it seemed to come with a catch: to loan him $200,000. His once lavish lifestyle had been left in shreds after their divorces, the recession and bad business dealings.

March 11, 2011: Lanny loves me + I love him + I want to help him.

Lanny asked about $200,000. To keep both houses afloat + move back in -- + reconcile - great day!

Just five months later, "we see from the entries, her mental state was becoming more and more fragile," said McRoberts.

Aug. 23, 2011: My heart is broken + he is working on my mind - playing games with me.

It was during that time that Donna became obsessed with Francine Tice.

"Francine Tice lived down the street from-- from our house," said Radley.

Lanny told his family that he and Francine were business partners selling a health food product for a company called Lifemax.

"Did they have a business relationship, a personal relationship?" Van Sant asked Radley.

"They claimed that it was -- that it was business, but I saw that it was more than that," he replied.

"How did you know this was more than a business relationship?" Van Sant asked.

"I saw it. I saw pictures. They were always out together," said Radley.

Even Lanny's family noticed a change in him after meeting Francine.

"They were holding hands. You know, kid stuff," Barry said. "But it's the first time I saw Lanny happy in 40 years."

Francine spoke at length to "48 Hours" about Lanny, but would not do an on-camera interview. She vehemently denies having ever had a sexual relationship with him. But Donna pictured something else and began documenting Francine's comings and goings.

July 16, 2001: Fran texted Lanbo at midnight woke us up. Lanny left at 1:15 to go on an errand with Fran didn't return until 4:45 P.M.

"It was a daily contact with Francine and Lanny via in person and in text and in phone calls," said McRoberts.

"Now Francine Tice has said that there was not a physical relationship between her and Lanny, that this was a business partnership," Van Sant noted.

"What was important for our purposes was that Donna believed that they were intimate," said McRoberts.

Sept. 4, 2011: Lanbo home 7:30 p.m. -trying to act like he isn't with Fran "all the time"

"I think she's heartbroken and angry and probably angry with herself for being so foolish," said McRoberts.

Foolish, Radley now says, for believing Lanny still loved her and giving him that $200,000.

"It became obvious to my mother that, you know, that she had been duped," said Radley.

By September 2011, it was clear their on-again-off-again relationship was over because, Radley believes, of Francine.

"She is the most phony, vicious, back stabbing, vile, quintessential Disney villain monster that I think I've ever encountered," said Radley.

McRoberts says Lanny told Donna he wanted her out of the house before he came back from a business trip -- one he was taking with Francine.

"And I would submit to you that clearly this is a -- woman who has reached the end of her rope," McRoberts said. "This was Donna, who was not about to let him go on that trip with Francine."

Police believed they now had their killer. Just six days after Lanny was brutally shot nine times, Donna was arrested for his murder.

"Donna is a very meek, timid, soft-spoken individual," said Grey Tesh, Donna's attorney.

"Who had the motive, who had the opportunity, who may have had the grudge to commit this murder?" Van Sant asked Tesh.

"... both Donna and Radley," Tesh replied. "But, see, here's the difference, though. Donna left him twice before. ... You know, why -- why now? "

"Most of my life, my father was -- was a good person. But towards the end, he was an absolute just evil bastard," said Radley.

It is just that attitude that makes Tesh say cops got it all wrong, and that Radley is the real killer

"So all the motivation that is raised by investigators in this case for Donna wanting to shoot her husband, you're telling me Radley had that in spades," said Van Sant.

"He had more motivation to off his father," Tesh replied.

Radley's story

"My life, again -- up until everything exploded -- was --was great," said Radley Horwitz.

In less than one week, Radley had lost both his parents. His father murdered; his mother in jail, accused of killing him.

"Did you ask your mother what happened?" Van Sant asked Radley.

"No, never," he replied. "... what do you say other than -- I mean, I wanted to know what happened. But I was afraid to ask."

Donna's attorney, Grey Tesh, says there are a lot of holes in the case.

"If she was the shooter she would have blood all over her body; everywhere. And the shooter, I think, was someone taller than Donna because of the angle. If you look at the autopsy report -- if you look at the angle, they consistently say that they go downwards," he explained.

Tesh starts building a shocking defense -- pointing the finger directly at Donna's own son, Radley Horwitz.

"For some people, this is the ultimate betrayal. A mother through you ... accusing her own son of a murder ... to save her own skin," Van Sant said to Tesh.

"That's what the evidence showed," said Tesh.

"Why do you believe Radley killed his father?" Van Sant asked.

"Well, he had half a million reasons to kill him," he replied.

Radley alone stood to inherit $500,000 in life insurance money, two homes, and Lanny's other prized assets. Donna, as Lanny's ex-wife, wouldn't have received a penny.

"So today, are you a multimillionaire as a result of all this?" Van Sant asked Radley.

"No, no," he replied. "He ... left me two houses that were pretty much upside down. And some very nice cars, most of which I got rid of. But I kept the Aston Martin."

But back in 2011, when his father was murdered, Radley's finances were a mess. That's why he was living with his parents.

"You were struggling, correct?" Van Sant asked.

"Oh yeah, yeah -- get a job as a convicted felon?" said Radley.

That's right - this son of a one-time millionaire served time in prison. Before his arrest, Radley was a licensed gun dealer in a business his father helped him set up called "Jupiter Arms."

"It was my passion. I took to it like a fish to water," Radley said. "I was just absolutely lethal, but disciplined and responsible."

Years earlier, Radley says at his father's urging, he bought an illegal gun part online for his personal collection which could convert a glock pistol into a fully automatic weapon.

"My father said ... his exact words were, "Just f----- order it," said Radley.

That attracted the attention of federal law enforcement and Radley says his father took great delight in his misfortune.

"He got a real kick out of the fact that those ATF guys were there ... and loved, you know, saying 'I told you so' and stuff like that," Radley told Van Sant.

Then, in 2006, Radley was arrested by the ATF after selling a handgun to a felon.

"And that's serious right?" Van Sant asked,

"Oh, hell yes," Radley replied. "I wound up with five months in federal prison."

"Do you blame your father for the fact that you ended up in prison?" Van Sant asked.

"Ultimately yes, yes," said Radley.

"And is there enough resentment for you to ... shoot him?"

"What the hell does that solve?" Radley replied.

"What better way, it's alleged, to get your financial house in order than to off your father who'd been tormenting your mother?" Van Sant noted.

"And who wasn't always very nice to me either," said Radley.

Radley said his father was never physically abusive, but that years of verbal taunting was in some ways far worse.

"He definitely was a vindictive person," he explained. "... the psychological death of a thousand cuts never, never lets up. ... Just snide, sarcastic, aloof ..."

Still as prosecutors compile their case, they feel strongly that all the signs point to Radley's mother.

"Is this shooting 10 times, is this a son that's angry? Or is this an angry wife that is -- has snapped?" said McRoberts.

Donna was so angry, investigators believe, she used the last of the 10 bullets to make a brutal statement by shooting Lanny in the mouth.

"Why shoot him in the mouth?" Van Sant asked McRoberts.

"I think, to be honest with you, I think she was tired of his mouth. I think she was tired of him being cruel and biting and condescending," she replied.

Sept. 3, 2011: Things are not good here His comments are insulting

A week after the murder, Radley goes to the police station with his attorney to give a full videotaped statement:

"She was saying, 'He was so awful. He was so awful.' She said that twice," Radley told investigators.

"Donna says to Radley, 'He was so awful.'" ... Are those words a confession to you?" Van Sant asked co-prosecutor Lauren Godden.

"Absolutely," she replied. "Her immediate response, her gut reaction when she sees someone, is to start justifying what she did."

"The quote, too, by the way, 'He was so awful,' right? Police never heard that. He doesn't say that on scene. He says that a week later after he lawyers up," said Tesh.

Tesh believes that Radley made up both that quote and the story about the dry fires

Det. Frank: You're-- you're hearing as you call it the dry fire?

Radley Horwitz: Click, click, click. Yeah. Meaning --

Det. Frank: Click, click, click.

Radley Horwitz: -- empty. ... when I heard the clicking in my mind at least I knew that I was safe.

horwitz29.jpg
The layout of the Horwitz home
Jupiter, Fla., Police Department
"Well, he's full of crap," Tesh said of Radley's statement. "Tell me, how can you hear dry fires when you got a DefCon alarm goin' off? ... And, by the way ... his bedroom's on one side of the house, the master bedroom's on -- completely on the other side of the house."

But unlike Donna, Det. Frank says Radley cooperated fully on scene.

"He gives us a DNA standard. He allows my CSI to ... conduct a gunshot residue test on him," said the detective. Asked about the results of the test, Det. Frank said, "it did come back as negative for gunshot residue."

Donna wasn't given a gunshot residue test after she asked to speak with an attorney.

"She didn't want to answer any of your questions?" Van Sant asked Det. Frank.

"Nothing," he replied.

Tesh says police botched the investigation by never collecting and examining Donna's pajamas or Radley's clothes the morning of the murder.

"Nobody says she had blood on her pajamas," Tesh said. "The police were right next to her. They're right next to her. They woulda noticed that."

And Tesh says the state has little to support their claim that Donna was the shooter.

"They ain't got squat. Here's what they got. They got no fingerprints on either one of the weapons, right. Or the shell casings. ... No DNA specifically linking her," Tesh said. "Nothing, nada, zip."

"This is a circumstantial case?" Van Sant asked Det. Frank.

"It is," he replied.

"You have a journal in which she complains about her husband but she never in the journal says, 'I'm gonna kill him,'" Van Sant noted.

"Correct," said the detective.

"It isn't the journal -- it's how the journal corroborates or explains the crime scene ... why it would have been done in such a cruel and hateful manner," said Godden.

As the case goes to trial, prosecutors insist they have the right person.

"There's absolutely no question that Donna Horwitz shot and murdered her husband, Lanny," said McRoberts.

But the defense says Radley's own words speak volumes about his motive.

"And this sounds awful," Radley said, "but I'm -- I'm glad that he was up and alive long enough to know that what comes around goes around. And that this was the payback for everything that he had done to not only my mother, but to me.

The trial: Mother vs. son

Almost a year-and-a-half after Lanny Horwitz was murdered, prosecutors are ready to present their case in court.

"I think the essence of the case from the very beginning was this was about a woman scorned," said prosecutor Aleathea McRoberts.

And the accused scorned woman looked nearly unrecognizable to Lanny's sisters, Marcia Van Creveld and Sheila Goldberg.

"She looked like a witch," Goldberg said of Donna. "...she had this beautiful, gorgeous black hair. Gorgeous eyelashes. And here's this little skinny thing with this grey hair and glasses."

Attorney Grey Tesh has settled on what could be called "the ultimate betrayal" defense: accusing Donna's son to save her own skin.

"He's a spoiled child -- who thinks he's entitled to everything," Donna's attorney, Grey Tesh, said of Radley Horwitz. "He's gotta fund his lifestyle somehow. And God knows he ain't workin' for it."

"Grey Tesh basically paints you as a liar, a murderer," Van Sant said to Radley. "Somebody would -- who would benefit from your father's murder? What do you say to all that?"

"Screw 'em," Radley replied.

"It's shocking to people that your mother would agree to a defense that accuses her own son," said Van Sant.

"I don't know if it was so much agreeing to a defense as it was a case of him saying, 'Hey, this is your only shot,'" Radley replied.

"McRoberts brought the guns up to me or at least one of 'em in court and showed it to me. And there was just -- there was -- it was -- it was-- blood all over it," Radley said of his time on the stand.

Tesh believes there is evidence that some of that blood ended up in Radley's own sink.

CSI officer Tracie McClendon analyzed every sink in the Horwitz house.

"This right here -- this is when I did the Luminol testing," McClendon said, showing photos to Van Sant."This is Radley's bathroom. He's very clean. ... you can see the entire sink is full, the faucet is covered, everything is covered and glowing."

"Could this not be blood?" Van Sant asked.

"The glow was really, really bright. And it faded quick. Which tells me that it's more of a cleaning solution than blood. Blood will glow a little lighter. And it will last a little longer," McClendon explained.

McClendon testified that all the sinks in the house had a similar reaction, which may poke a hole in Tesh's theory:

Tracie McClendon | CSI investigator: We do it to show blood but that doesn't mean it is blood.

Grey Tesh: Could be bleach or household products, that's possible?

Tracie McClendon: Yes.

Grey Tesh: It's possible...it's also possible that it's blood right?

Tracie McClendon: Yes.

But Tesh claims it's proof that Radley, a known neat freak, washed his father's blood off his hands:

Grey Tesh: You clean yourself-- I mean you're obsessive about cleaning. ... I-- I will bet you that you even have --

Radley Horwitz: Guilty. Guilty of having Purell.

Grey Tesh: Thanks for the clarification.

Radley Horwitz: I don't wanna get you too excited, sorry.

"Give me a sense of what you need to convey to this jury," Van Sant said to Tesh.

"Somebody else did it," he replied.

That somebody else, Tesh claims, may include a hit man hired by Radley. Tesh says a smear of Lanny Horwitz' blood on a gate at his home contains DNA from an unidentified person.

"Someone else's DNA is on that bloody smudge on the gate. Someone else was involved with this," Tesh explained. "It wasn't Donna, it wasn't Radley, it wasn't any of the security guards."

Aleathea McRoberts: Is that the gate that everyone has to come in and out of to go through the front door?

Det. Frank: Yes it is.

The state says the mystery DNA is meaningless.

"The smudge on the post has Lanny's blood on it and the DNA of someone else who did not match anyone in that house. Isn't that your killer?" Van Sant asked McRoberts.

"No," she replied. "When they swab the gate to get the blood off of it, it picks up the underlying DNA of anyone that ever touched that gate since the last time it was ever cleaned, which could be countless numbers of people."

Aleathea McRoberts: In terms of the blood on the gate, is it consistent potentially with somebody going and doing a life-saving check ... leaving with their gloves and pushing the gate open?

Det. Frank: It is.

And to prove that no intruder was responsible, prosecutors point to the alarm system in the house.

"The very first alarm, was, in fact, the glass shatter alarm from the sound of the gun being fired in the bathroom. Which meant and corroborated that no other person had come into the home prior to the first shot being fired," McRoberts told Van Sant.

Tesh tries to back up his new theory by introducing the book "Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors."

Grey Tesh: You bought the "Hit Man" book at a gun show, yes?

Radley Horwitz: Yes, that is correct.

Grey Tesh: And the essence of this "Hit Man" book is it teaches you how to kill somebody and get away with it, yes?"

Radley Horwitz: As opposed to killing somebody and getting caught? Yes.

"You know the allegation. You bought this book to lay the groundwork to kill your father," said Van Sant.

"Yeah," Radley replied. "Honestly, pretty ridiculous, because the physical evidence speaks for itself."

McRoberts says the hit man theory is bogus because Lanny Horwitz was killed with his own gun.

"What hit man would go to do a hit and hope to God that the people had a gun that they could find to-- to complete the killing," said McRoberts.

"Your hit man theory, the problem I see with that is that Donna's in the house," Van Sant noted to Tesh. "She would've seen this hit man, wouldn't she?"

"If you're in your house and you hear shots, do you just go out and run out to see what's goin' on? Especially if you don't have a gun on you. Or do you stay somewhere safe?" said Tesh.

"He portrays me as a complete screw up, a nitwit, and-- unemployed. So where am I gonna come up with the money to-- to hire ... some hit man," Radley said of Tesh.

"There's someone in this case who can answer so many questions about what happened that morning. The morning of September 30. And that's Donna herself. Will you put her on the stand in this case?" Van Sant asked Tesh.

Everyone wonders if Donna will finally break her silence ...

Putting Lanny to rest

In this Shakespearean drama, where an alleged murderous mother has accused her own son of killing his own father, long hours of questioning takes its toll.

"I didn't, you know, I didn't do this," Radley Horwitz testified.

Radley Horwitz: I want to get through this but I'm just - pff, you know...

Judge: Just hang on there we're almost done.

Radley Horwitz: ... a little burnt out.

Prosecutor Aleathea McRoberts knew she had to save her star witness' reputation:

Aleathea McRoberts: On the morning of the homicide of your father ... Did you ever go to any bathroom -- any faucet -- anywhere in that house and clean ... yourself off?

Radley Horwitz: Absolutely not.

Aleathea McRoberts: Mr. Horwitz, finally, did you hire anyone to kill your father?

Radley Horwitz: Absolutely not.

Aleathea McRoberts: And did you yourself kill your dad?

Radley Horwitz: Absolutely not.

"There were only three of us in that house, in the main house that morning. And only two walked out alive. So who else is he gonna blame?" Radley told "48 Hours".

When it came time for Donna to take the stand and openly accuse her son of murder -- she declined:

Judge: Miss Horwitz it is your decision right now that you do not want to testify in this matter am I correct?

Donna Horwitz: That is correct.

Judge: Has anyone forced you to make that decision?

Donna Horwitz: No Sir.

Judge: It is completely your call, is that correct?

Donna Horwitz: That is correct.

Radley wasn't in the courtroom to hear his mother speak.

"So I, you know, did my day of testimony and I left," Radley said. "Why the hell would I want to be around those people?"

The woman Radley blames for pushing his mother over the edge, Francine Tice, was never called to testify. She made her first appearance in court to hear closing arguments.

"Bam, bam, bam, bam. ... Ten times on a naked man, when he's in the shower. The last one in the mouth is the shot of an angry, angry woman," McRoberts addressed the court, her hands clasped as if holding a gun. "Love, hate and obsession can bring a person to kill. And it can bring a person to frame their own son. Thank you."

Grey Tesh hammers back: "This is a case about jumping to conclusions," he told the court. "...there's no fingerprints. There's no DNA matching her. ... A third party we know, beyond every doubt, left his DNA and that bloody smudge on the gate ... Not only is she not guilty, she's actually innocent."

And with that the jury goes out to deliberate, but not for long. In less than two hours, the jury reaches a verdict "I'm thinkin' I won the case," Tesh said.

But the clerk reads the jury's decision: "guilty of first-degree murder." "Shock. Disappointment ..." Tesh said. "I put my hand on her to try to console her, but, you know, what do you say?"

"I think her lawyer was a schmuck," Radley said of Tesh.

Though betrayed by his own mother, Radley doesn't want her behind bars.

"You were hoping for 'not guilty'?" Van Sant asked Radley.

"Yes," he replied.

"But if they said 'not guilty,' then your name is mud in this community, because they've convinced your fellow citizens that you're the killer," Van Sant pointed out.

"Yeah, but my mom would have been out and free," said Radley.

Sentencing was immediate and unforgiving: "Defense, I have no discretion in the matter," the judge told the court. "So I adjudicate her guilty and impose a life sentence."

Life in prison with no chance for parole.

"It's such a huge, immense feeling of relief," McRoberts said following the verdict. "And ... to have the family there, to be able to see justice for the murder of their beloved brother -"

"My brother was very special," said Marcia Van Creveld.

Almost two years after the murder, on what would have been Lanny's 68th birthday, his family and friends take to the sea to pay tribute.

"I miss his true and honest friendship," Francine Tice said, as she spoke about the man she knew:

"Today in celebration of my friend's Lanny's life on earth let us all never forget this most amazing, incredible human being who was alway s there for all of us no matter what. Lanny you will never be forgotten and you will always be missed for ever. My dear friend, may you now please rest in peace."

Together with Marcia, they set Lanny's ashes free in the Florida waters.

"I've still got some pretty mixed feelings," Radley said. "There's not a day ... that I don't think of -- of my mother and where she is right now."

Radley forgives his mother. He has met with Donna several times in jail.

"Has your mother ever just looked you in the eye and said, 'I am so sorry?'" Van Sant asked Radley.

"Just that she loves me very much. And she's so sorry for everything," he replied.

In a letter to Radley, Donna now wishes the best for her son:

I love you and am very proud of you and pray daily that you will stay strong, healthy and happy. Love always & Forever, Mom

"She was great. She was always there for me. She was a huge, huge part of-- of my daughter's life," said Radley.

Jealousy, murder, betrayal -- a once picture-perfect family destroyed.

"He died with his eyes open. And, I mean, my father did some really, really awful stuff to me and to my mother. But, still seeing that just-- just shook me up, you know?" Radley said. "... nobody deserved to -- to die the way that he did."

Lanny Horwitz had a $500,000 life insurance policy. He left $200,000 to Francine Tice.

Radley Horwitz sued Tice for her share of the insurance payout. She settled for $90,000.

As part of the settlement, Tice and Radley Horwitz have agreed never to speak badly about each other in public.

  • Peter Van Sant

    Correspondent, "48 Hours"

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