The Perfect Family

Jeffrey Pyne, an honor student and athlete - the perfect son - becomes the prime suspect in his mother's murder

Last Updated Jun 22, 2014 1:00 AM EDT

Produced by Liza Finley, Marc Goldbaum and Ruth Chenetz
[This story first aired on Jan. 12. It was updated on Aug. 10]

(CBS) HIGHLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. | A savagely murdered suburban wife and mother ... her husband and son the prime suspects. Even for a couple of hard-bitten detectives like Dave Hendrick and Greg Glover, this was a tough one.

"We take no joy in this case. I mean, this was a brutal case literally is destroying a family," said Oakland County Det. Sgt. Greg Glover.

It started as a love story. Bernie Pyne says he was smitten the minute he saw a fresh-faced farm girl named Ruth walk across the room during his senior year in high school.

"I said, 'You are beautiful. We need to go out.' And she said, 'Just get out of here,'" Bernie told "48 Hours" correspondent Tracy Smith.

"But you were relentless," Smith remarked.

"I called her up about every couple of months. And on one occasion, she goes, 'Yes, I will.' ... we were actually married less than 10 months later," he said.

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The Pyne family

They settled in suburban Detroit and eventually had two kids: Jeffrey and, 10 years later, Julia.

"There were many, many years that were ... not just normal, they were wonderful. Ruth was a wonderful mom and wonderful wife," Bernie said looking at family photos. "Lots of happy times."

But Bernie says nearly 20 years into the marriage their lives took a very dark turn.

"I could just tell that there was something wrong," he told Smith. "And then I ... noticed that she didn't sleep. ... I said, 'Have you had trouble sleeping?' She goes, 'Yeah ... I haven't slept in eight days.' That's when we knew ... there was something drastically wrong."

Ruth was eventually diagnosed as bipolar with psychotic features.

"As the illness progressed, what was her mental state like?" Smith asked.

"She would actually think ... there were ... listening devices in the house. In fact, one time she actually thought there was a tracking device in her bloodstream," Bernie replied.

She grew increasingly paranoid, says Bernie, even stashing knives in the headboard of their bed. Ruth was prescribed anti-psychotic drugs, but she refused to take them.

"She believed all medicine was a form of sorcery and she wasn't gonna take it," said Bernie.

Despite Ruth's illness, Bernie says the children managed to excel; Julia in ballet and Jeffrey on the basketball court and in the classroom.

"He was top of his class? Smith asked.

"Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. He was the -- he was the valedictorian," Bernie said with pride. "He was actually one of the top three recruits in the honors program at U of M Flint."

All that while holding down two jobs and caring for Julia when his mom was too ill. The toll it took on Julia can be seen in a heartbreaking drawing she made when she was 8. The picture shows Julia with Ruth, who was crying.

"Somebody had to be there for the family," Ruth's sister, Linda Jarvie said. "Jeff had to be the guy there to pick up the pieces."

After a vicious cycle on and off meds and in and out of hospitals, things escalated to violence in 2010.

"She'd been off her medication. She hadn't been sleeping. She was just -- she was just miserable," Bernie explained. "I said, 'Ruth, just please take your medication.' After she got through telling me, basically, 'no,' Jeffrey came into the room. ... And she launched out of the bed and ... she actually grabbed his throat and tried to hit him."

"Jeffrey never fought back?" Smith asked.

"Never. He's a tender soul," Bernie said. "He's not a fighter. He's ... a loving son."

The police were called to the scene says Det. Sgt. David Hendrick.

"She was, in fact, arrested for domestic violence," he said.

Ruth spent over two weeks in jail -- time Bernie and Jeff used to petition the court to force Ruth to take her medicine.

"I don't want her to take her medication either, but when she doesn't bad things happen," Bernie testified.

Ruth was sent to a hospital for 23 days. When she returned home, she once again refused to take her meds.

"We loved Ruth. But it was gettin' old," Bernie told Smith. "And I ... went to the attorney. And I had done everything but serve Ruth the [divorce] papers. ... As much as I loved her, I couldn't take it anymore."

There was something else. Bernie had met a woman -- Renee Ginell, the manager of a local GNC store.

"Somehow the relationship escalated. When it was all said and done, we were very close," said Bernie.

Ruth caught Bernie and his lover having dinner at a local restaurant. For Bernie, it was the final straw. That night, he asked Ruth for a divorce.

"She said, 'Bernie, I'll do whatever it takes to save my marriage and my family,'" he told Smith. "When she said that to me, I said, 'OK. That means you must take your medication. And -- you must let me go to the doctor with you, so that we can work with it and get -- the levels right.'"

"And did she?"

"She did."

"So the Pyne household was a happy household in the spring of 2011?" Smith asked.

"We were at the best place that we had been in a long time," Bernie replied.

Before spring was over, 51-year-old Ruth Pyne would be found lying in a pool of her own blood on the garage floor of her home. She was so badly beaten her skull had been cracked open.

"I don't want to think about what my sister had to go through," Jarvie said. "You hope that she was unconscious and knocked out early ... you don't want to go there. It's too painful."

But Jarvie did think about who did it and wasted no time telling police.

"The police asked me who killed my sister and I said, 'Bernie Pyne,'" she said. "He's a violent person, I mean I'm afraid of him."

And, Jarvie says, so was her sister ... at least until Jeffrey was born.

"There was always a sense that Ruth was afraid of her situation with Bernie and she left him a few times to come live with me," she told "48 Hours."

Bernie denies ever harming Ruth and says she never stayed with Linda during their marriage. He does admit he had wild streak in his youth.

"I was a little bit of trouble back then. I was a little rough around the edges," he told Smith.

And, Bernie tells "48 Hours", he was once arrested for putting guy in a coma during a bar fight, but was acquitted of felony assault. He insists those days are long gone.

Still, he knew it didn't look good.

"So you felt like a suspect?" Smith asked Bernie.

"I'm a husband of a mentally ill woman who had had an affair within the last six months. Yes," he replied.

"What was it like living under that cloud of suspicion?"

"Very uncomfortable."

"How so? Did you feel like everyone was watching you?"

"In the first place, as a husband to have your wife brutalized like this is the most painful and humiliating thing that can happen to a person. And then, to have people think that you could do it, is the most disgusting and debilitating thought that you can have," Bernie replied, overcome with emotion.

But it turned out that Bernie had an ironclad alibi, backed by his boss and four witnesses. He was at a retirement lunch for one of his buddies at work.

"It took a couple days, but we were able to actually confirm Bernie's alibi and pretty much rule him out as a suspect at that point," said Det. Hendrick.

Bernie started calling Det. Glover, sharing information and helping out however he could.

"I wanted to be part of finding out who did this to my wife," he said.

The two men developed a close rapport, but it was not destined to last.

"It came to a point to where Bernie -- flat out asked us. He said, 'I wanna know in your mind who the monster is that committed this crime,'" Det. Glover said. "And I actually said to Bernie, I said, 'Bernie, I'm not sure you want us to tell you that.' And he said, 'I want to know who the monster is in this case.' And I said, 'Bernie,' I said - 'Your son is the one that - that -- that killed your wife.'"

In October 2011, five months after his mother was found bludgeoned and stabbed to death, 21-year-old Jeffrey Pyne was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

A GRUESOME CRIME SCENE

"I'm a better suspect on any day than Jeffrey could ever be," Bernie Pyne told Tracy Smith. "I was the one that was trapped in a marriage -- when you look at this, you know -- with a mentally ill woman. I mean looking at it from the outside, I'm a logical suspect. There's no doubt about it. ... Jeffrey could never hurt his mother. There's just no way."

"Nobody wants to believe that somebody like Jeff is capable of this type of a crime," Det. Greg Glover said. "The person that everybody thought was the perfect kid on the inside wasn't as perfect as what they were seeing on the outside."

When detectives Greg Glover and Dave Hendrick received a call for assistance on May 27, 2011, they could not have imagined what was awaiting them.

"Multiple, multiple puncture wounds to her neck, there appeared to be multiple wounds to her head. There's rage -- there's violence there. I mean, that's indicative of some sort of personal relationship between the victim and the killer," said Det. Hendrick.

"I've been doing this for almost 25 years and this was probably one of the worst crime scenes that I had seen," added Det. Glover.

It was an unsuspecting Bernie Pyne who discovered the gruesome scene when he arrived home after picking up his daughter from school.

"So what happened when you came home?" Smith asked.

"Julia and I got out of the car. We parked right here -- walked around the back of the house. And I saw Ruth's arm," Bernie said as he walked Smith through the back door of the family's home. "Luckily Julia didn't go inside."

"And she was right in the doorway," Smith noted.

"Yeah, she was actually against the door," Bernie said.

Bernie ran from the house before Julia could fully see what happened -- calling out to neighbors and calling 911: My wife, she's laying on the ground, there's blood everywhere ... I can't -- I don't know what's going on."

Police arrived within a few minutes, but Ruth was already dead -- viciously beaten with an object and repeatedly stabbed.

"I remember there was blood everywhere," Bernie told Smith.

As police investigated the scene, Bernie called Jeffrey, who had started his shift at 3:00 that afternoon, working at Spicer Orchards.

"First time I called him, no answer. Second time I said, "Jeffrey you need to, you need to come home," Bernie told Smith.

"Did you tell him why?"

"I did not tell him why."

"And when Jeffrey got to the house, what happened?"

"That's when I told him that -- that mom was dead," said Bernie.

"Did he ask you what happened?"

"I don't remember, I don't remember the conversation. I was pretty ... I was in a bit of shock," said Bernie.

When Jeffrey arrived home, he found his father and sister being consoled in the backseat of an ambulance. It was there that EMS workers noticed, and bandaged, blisters on Jeffrey's hands which he said developed after lifting a large pallet at work.

"And when I heard the story that he gave about how he had injured those hands on a pallet, I was suspicious of it. As a teenager in high school, I worked in a feed store and I'd moved hundreds of wooden pallets and had never come up with an injury even remotely close to that, nothing more than a sliver," said Det. Glover.

"I've seen those blisters on him and usually it's from shoveling and raking and that type of thing. I don't know if they were new blisters or old blisters. They didn't look like new blisters to me. The looked to me, the way I look at it ... like old blisters that he'd actually ripped the skin off throwing the pallet which would make perfect sense to me," Bernie said. "Blisters don't make a murderer."

Jeffrey told police he had been home with his mother before and after she went shopping that morning.

"We know that she left the Meijer store at approximately 10:54 a.m. We know the body was found at 2:30," Det. Hendrick explained.

It's what happened between those hours that will prove Jeffrey's innocence or guilt.

"He told me he left the house at 1:30 and that's when I knew whatever happened, happened between then and 2:30," Bernie told Smith.

"In that one-hour window."

"In that one-hour window, yes."

"And did you ask him how was mom?"

"He told me she was laying in bed and one of the things he told me that I said, 'What's the last thing you did before you left?' And he said, 'Well, I got the mail and I threw it on the fireplace and said bye to mom,'" said Bernie.

"Everybody is focused on the fact that he left at 1:30. He says he left at 1:30. We don't know that he didn't have a confrontation to kill his mother shortly after she came home. If that's the case he had two hours to clean up, approximately, get things together and leave," said Det. Hendrick.

Jeffrey says after leaving his home, he drove a few miles to his neighbor Diane Needham's home to do some gardening.

"He was very specific about planting five lilac bushes. We discovered that the lilac plants or bushes had been planted on the Monday prior. We found out through Mrs. Needham. She was very specific about that," Det. Glover explained. "So at that point, we knew that he had not been there and planted those lilac bushes as he had told us."

And, when Jeffrey was brought in for questioning the night of his mother's murder, detectives were struck by his demeanor:

Det. Hendrick: You have no idea how your mom died?

Jeffrey Pyne: No.

Det. Hendrick: Your mom's murdered ... someone killed your mom.

Jeffrey Pyne: [puts hand over his face]

"The lack of emotion, the lack of questions. He never asked us questions about anything," noted Det. Hendrick.

Det. Hendrick: So if there is anything else you know about ... that you have been holding back?

Jeffrey Pyne: I don't know what to tell ya.

"He never asked us how she died, how she was killed, who did this - anything -- he never asked us one question about anything," said Det. Hendrick.

"Is it strange that he never asked what happened? When they said 'Your mom has been murdered' that he didn't say, 'How, what happened?'" Smith asked Bernie.

"As far as I'm concerned, OK, that's Jeffrey. He's very even. And you know, they're asking the questions, he's not," he replied.

Det. Hendrick: Did you have any arguments with your mom today?

Jeffrey Pyne: No, I didn't say anything hurtful to her, I did nothing.

"We felt that if the police were accusing you of killing your mother and you hadn't done that, you'd be very adamant -- and very strong by stating that 'You have the wrong guy. I didn't do this.' Jeff Pyne has never to this day told us that he did not kill his mother," said Det. Glover.

The detached demeanor, the questionable alibi and those mysterious blisters -- along with no sign of Ruth being sexual assaulted and no sign of a break-in made Jeffrey not just the prime suspect, but the only suspect.

"We took months working this investigation," Det. Hendrick explained. "Anytime we developed information on another suspect or things that the family would say, 'Well what about these people, well what about that?' We looked into them. We ran them down. We checked them out. We went into as much detail as we could to eliminate anybody else that was a possible suspect. There was no one else."

"The boy didn't do it. My son would never harm his mother. They have this one wrong. The police make mistakes and this is a mistake," said Bernie.

THE TRIAL OF JEFFREY PYNE

Nearly a year-and-a-half after the brutal slaying of Ruth Pyne, her son is going on trial.

The stakes are high for Jeffrey Pyne. If convicted, he would spend the rest of his life in jail.

"This is the kind of case that is a mosaic. It's like a jigsaw puzzle, and we're gonna put all these pieces together ..." prosecutor John Skrzynski told the court in his opening statement. "... you're gonna see that what it forms is the picture of a man, Jeffrey Pyne, committing a first-degree premeditated murder."

Skrzynski gained national attention when he convicted suicide doctor Jack Kevorkian in 1999. He has won dozens of other high-profile cases.

This is the first murder trial for defense attorney James Champion.

"I wanna make something perfectly clear," Champion addressed the court in his opening statement, "we're not exercising a defense of insanity or self-defense or some other excusable homicide."

"Did you try to negotiate a deal?" Tracy Smith asked Champion.

"Jeffrey has maintained his innocence all along. There was nothing to offer," he replied.

Most of Jeffrey's family is pulling for him. Even Ruth's sister, Linda Jarvie, is trying to keep an open mind.

"I wanted to be a good aunt for Jeff and really listen to the testimony," she said. "Maybe Jeff didn't do this. Maybe Jeff didn't do this."

Prosecutor Skrzynski begins with the only physical evidence implicating Jeffrey: the blisters on his hands that Jeffrey claims he got handling wooden pallets at work.

On the stand, Jeffrey's friend and co-worker, Nick Bretti, says he's hurt his hands at work, but never the way Jeffrey says he did -- even when he tried to duplicate Jeffrey's injuries:

John Skrzynski: Do you handle pallets and boxes - wooden pallets and boxes?

Nick Bretti: Yes ... I tried multiple times picking up pallets in multiple different ways and could not, I couldn't do it.

John Skrzynski: You were trying to simulate those injuries and you couldn't do it.

Nick Bretti: No.

Skrzynski then launches an attack on Jeffrey's alibi. Remember, Jeffrey says he left his house around 1:30 on the day of the murder and went over to a neighbor's house to plant lilac bushes and paint the basement.

Skrzynski plays the jury a voicemail message Jeffrey left on Diane Needham's phone that day:

"Hey, Mrs. Needham, it's Jeffrey. ...I've been over to your house a few times, I thought you were coming home..."I was just over there for about an hour or so just kinda sweeping up. Kinda checking things out. ...I was actually hoping you'd be there... "

It's a very detailed message, but he never mentions the lilac bushes. Det. David Hendrick believes Jeffrey left the voice mail to back up his alibi.

"I think he was looking for an alibi," he continued. "He was hoping that she was either there so he could run over to the house. Or at least talk to her on the phone to give him something to tell us later...'Hey it couldn't have been me. I was here.'"

The state then calls Medical Examiner Ruben Ortiz-Reyes. He testifies that the manner in which Ruth Pyne was brutally slain does reveal something about her killer:

John Skrzynski: Based on the wounds themselves, can you tell anything about the person who committed this crime?

Ruben Ortiz-Reyes: In forensic pathology, it's called over killing ...because the injuries at the beginning were enough to kill this person. But whoever did it was upset.

John Skrzynski: Can you say that person was enraged?

Ruben Ortiz-Reyes: Yes. Could be enraged.

John Skrzynski: Does that indicates some kind of relationship between the people?

Ruben Ortiz-Reyes: It's possible.

And there's something more. After she was savagely beaten, Ruth Pyne was still alive before she was then stabbed 16 times.

The medical examiner says a couple of minutes may have passed as the attacker looked for a knife.

"He intended on killing her," Det. Greg Glover told Smith. "He could have stopped what he was doing and walked away from it. He didn't do that. He continued the assault a second time."

"And does that make it premeditated?"

"Under the law, yes it does."

It's a strong circumstantial case. But what about motive? What would make this perfect son turn into a brutal killer?

Jeffrey's ex-girlfriend, Holly Freeman, would open a window on life inside the Pyne home and deliver perhaps the most dramatic and damaging testimony of the trial:

John Skrzynski: Can you describe the relationship?

Holly Freeman: ... It was a serious relationship ... we had talked about marriage and kids ... He became emotional often. And almost every time it was about his mother.

Freeman learned of Ruth's mental illness and that often it became too much for Jeffrey.

"There were many things that bothered him that he tried to brush off," Freeman continued, "but they would accumulate and result in him having an emotional breakdown."

Jeffrey considered moving out, but Freeman says he worried about what would happen to his little sister.

"He felt bad leaving Julia there, and he was worried for her," she testified.

But just two months before Ruth's murder, something happened that made Freeman look at Jeffrey in a completely different way:

John Skrzynski: Can you tell the jury what happened at that time?

Holly Freeman: Jeff had told me ...[breaks down crying]

Holly found out Jeffrey had cheated on her:

Holly Freeman: I was completely thrown off.

John Skrzynski: In what way?

Holly Freeman: Because Jeff, to me, Jeff was the perfect guy, the perfect son, the perfect boyfriend. And that was the first time ever that I had ever had a reason to doubt him.

John Skrzynski: And that was the result of his cheating?

Holly Freeman: Yes. Because he ... lied so effortlessly to me. To my family. To my friends.

"What really tied it together was probably Holly's testimony ... that Jeff can lie so effortlessly," Linda Jarvie told "48 Hours". "Why, why did Jeff do this? What is so wrong with him?"

"Well I can see how that doesn't look good but that's nowhere near proof beyond a reasonable doubt," Champion told Smith.

The defense is about to reveal a surprise of its own.

THE CONVERSATION

James Champion shocks the courtroom -- declining to call any witnesses.

Asked why, he tells Tracy Smith, "We really felt they hadn't proven the case beyond a reasonable doubt. They hadn't satisfied their burden of proof. ... they had a case that laid an egg ... they had a case that ran out of air, that ran out of energy that ran out of gas."

Champion is sure the esteemed prosecutor John Skrzynski isn't going to win this one. Bernie Pyne is praying he's right.

"I have to believe that the system's gonna work and that Jeffrey will be home," said Bernie, who hasn't been able to touch or hug his son in more than a year.

"What do you miss most?" Smith asked Bernie.

"I miss my family," he replied.

Bernie is allowed only one visit a week to Jeffrey.

"I feel like the government literally came in and stole my son," he said.

Bernie says he's never felt so powerless, but believes he has the truth on his side.

"Did you ever flat out ask him if he killed Ruth?" Smith asked.

"He and I had the conversation, if you will."

"The conversation?"

"The conversation."

"Meaning what?"

"I remember it very well, I said, 'Jeffrey -- I don't know what's going on here. But they're looking really hard at you. And I need to know. Did somethin' happen here? Did mom lose it? I said, 'it would be easier to defend you for self-defense than it would be for anything else. I need to know did something happen here? You need to tell me.' He said, 'Dad, I could never ...he says...I could never hurt anyone, let alone mom. I loved her.'"

"And that was it?"

"I knew right then."

And now it's up to Champion to convince the jury in his closing argument.

"Look, if Jeffrey was responsible for this, there would be proof," he told jurors.

At least some blood on his clothes, under his fingernails or in the house, says Champion.

"There was no evidence that anybody cleaned up in that house," he continued in court.

"They checked Jeffrey's car. There's no blood in the car ... whoever did this was covered with blood," Bernie reasoned. "There's no way Jeffrey could have cleaned up not transferred anything. That to me alone should clear him."

"There's no facts here. That's a hunch. That's a theory. That's an argument. That's a guess," Champion continued in court.

"If Jeffrey had done this, he wouldn't ... have come back with his hands all bandaged up ... Look at who Jeffrey is ... compassionate, sensitive, trustworthy," Bernie told Smith.

Not according to ex-girlfriend Holly Freeman, who testified that Jeffrey cheated on her.

Bernie says he's never known his son to be a liar.

"Basically it's character assassination, if you will, to portray him as a liar and somebody that he's not," said Bernie.

"You think that Holly was just an angry ex?" Smith asked Champion.

"Yep. No doubt in my mind," he replied. "Everybody lies. It's a fact - especially when it comes to kids and dating."

"But I think what she was saying was going to his demeanor - that whole idea with a very straight face, he could lie," said Smith.

"Right. I think anybody can ... that doesn't make him guilty of murdering his mother," said Champion.

In fact, on cross, Champion got Freeman to admit Jeffrey was anything but violent.

James Champion: Did you ever see him hit anybody?

Holly Freeman: No.

James Champion: In fact, you hit him a couple of times didn't you?

Holly Freeman: Couple of times.

James Champion: But he never hit you, did he?

Holly Freeman: No.

But what about Jeffrey's demeanor on that interrogation tape -- a red flag for the detectives.

"Don't you think it just plain looked bad in the police interview that he showed no emotion," Smith asked Champion.

"I would have preferred that he showed more emotion but," he replied, "we can't impose our standard of how somebody ought to react to grief or tragedy or some traumatic event."

"Here's a boy who had never been in any fights ... never had any type of violence at all -- even video games," Bernie said," and so this is going to be his first exposure to violence. Do you really think so?"

"Could he have just lost it?" Smith asked.

"I don't believe so. That explanation would make it real easy for the police. But I don't believe so. No," Bernie replied.

"That brings us to the big question," Smith said. "If Jeffrey didn't kill Ruth, who did?"

"I don't know who killed Ruth," Bernie replied.. "Anybody could have done it ... but I know the person that did not do it and that's Jeffrey."

As the trial winds down, tensions rise on both sides and it gets personal. Detective Greg Glover and Bernie Pyne get into an angry confrontation in the hallway.

"At one point ... he come right up to me shakin' his head nonstop ... and actually said to me... 'I can't believe what you're doin' to my family. Do you realize what you've done to this family?'" said Det. Glover.

"The look I gave him I'm sure was not friendly because I was not happy with the way my son was treated," said Bernie.

"And I said, 'Bernie,' I said, 'You know, don't blame the police for this. We didn't cause this,'" Det. Glover continued.

"And at that time, he told me, 'Don't look at me that way.' And I thought about that for a moment. And then, I looked at him, and I said, 'I'll look at you anyway I like,'" Bernie explained.

"I feel horrible for Bernie," Det. Glover said. "But at the same point, it's hard to swallow, what he's -- the personal attacks on me in the public."

At the eleventh hour - shortly before the case goes to jury- Prosecutor Skrzynski makes a potentially game changing motion. He asks for another option: second-degree murder.

Champion argues vehemently against it.

"I'm concerned that the jury will compromise their verdict," he tells the court.

"Why argue against including a second-degree murder charge?" Smith asked.

"Because I'm scared to death that the jurors might actually split the baby," he replied, "might compromise the verdict. If there's an alternative, they'll take it."

Judge Bowman grants the motion. The jury will now have the option of murder in the second degree.

"That was my greatest fear. And that was the prosecutor's greatest hope," said Champion.

THE VERDICT

Bernie Pyne has been spending the holiday season trying to keep some sense of normalcy for his daughter, Julia, as they both wait for a jury to decide whether Julia's brother is coming home.

"The only thing that -- that repeats and goes through my mind is, 'Gotta get my son home to his sister. I've got to restore what's left of my family," he told Tracy Smith. "I had to tell her ... we're pretty sure that Jeffrey's comin' home, but the system isn't perfect and that there is a chance that -- that maybe Jeffrey isn't comin' home.' It shook her visibly."

"What'd she do? What'd she say?" Smith asked.

"'I just can't think about that, Dad. It can't happen,'" he said.

"Do you allow yourself to think about that?"

"I really don't," Bernie said. "I can't imagine Julia not havin' her brother back and I can't imagine not havin' my son back at home."

It's the third day of jury deliberations.

"We're gonna be all right. I'm focusing on the positive right now," said Bernie.

Bernie, who's been waiting more than a year for Jeffrey to be cleared in the murder of his mother, must wait four more hours before he can learn his son's fate due to the judge's crowded court docket.

"The agony of having to wait four hours to hear a verdict, is just, it's torture," he said.

But he is hopeful it will end with an early Christmas present for Julia.

"She has a play tonight -- a Christmas play at 7:00 p.m. that she's playing the prelude for on the piano. And-- my hope and my prayer is that-- I can take him ... to that play and he can see her play that prelude," said Bernie.

"In the people of the state of Michigan vs. Jeffrey Pyne, we the jury find the defendant guilty of second degree murder."

Second-degree murder. The jury determined that Jeffrey killed his mother, but it was not premeditated.

Jeffrey seemed stunned, nodding his head in disbelief; Bernie is distraught and disillusioned.

"I wasn't there to protect my wife when I needed to be and I wasn't able to get my son--home for his sister for Christmas. So it's not been a good year," Bernie told reporters as he walks out of court.

But for Jeffrey's aunt, the verdict was a relief and a vindication.

"Some justice was served by the guilty verdict today. I am deeply saddened... by my sister Ruth's senseless death. This was a heinous crime. Ruth Pyne was a victim..." Linda Jarvie told the court.

Still, she has sympathy for her nephew.

"I hold no grudge against Jeffrey. I just hope Jeff gets help, the help he needs to understand himself, why he did this," she said.

Bernie had to break the news to his daughter.

"She was more upset then I actually have ever seen her." In tears, he continued, "She said "No, no. no. It can't be."

"Do you think if there was no option for second-degree murder, that the jury would have acquitted Jeffrey?" Smith asked defense attorney James Champion.

"No doubt in my mind," he replied.

Champion has no doubts, because he spoke with jurors immediately after the trial.

"The last question I asked them was, 'If you hadn't had the second-degree instruction, would you have acquitted him?' And they said 'yes,'" said Champion.

"I believe the jury got it wrong in this case. Absolutely," Bernie told Smith.

Wrong or right, Jeffrey could be facing as much as life in prison, with parole.

At his sentencing in January 2013, Bernie returns to court to read a letter from his daughter -- a letter about Jeffrey:

"My brother Jeffrey and I are very close, and I miss him very much ... He is a great, great big brother. And I ask you to send him home very soon to me and my dad because we love him very much," Bernie read on his daughter's behalf as Jeffrey listened, was overcome with emotion.

"I am a victim of this crime. I miss my wife Ruth very much. And I'm doing the best I can to raise my daughter as a single parent," Bernie told the judge. Nobody knows who killed my wife. I am sure that my son had nothing to do with this but must try to live with the verdict. I would ask for leniency in his sentencing so that what is left of our family can be put back together."

After all this, the Judge Leo Bowman is ready with the sentence: "20 years to 60 years ... with the Michigan Department of Corrections."

"I'm disheartened. I'm disgusted. And I'm gonna tell you somethin' else. It was -- it was a coward and a monster that did this to my wife. And -- and that's not my son. He could never harm her," said a shell-shocked Bernie.

"Could it be that it's just too painful for you to think your son did this to his mother?" Smith asked Bernie.

"I don't think so. In fact, if I thought my son had anything to do with his, we wouldn't need court and we wouldn't need attorneys and everything else. I'd have marched him into the police department and we'd have taken care of this," he said.

"What if, somewhere down the line, somehow it's proven to you that he did do this? Would you forgive him?" Smith asked.

"I would forgive him. But that would be tough," said Bernie.

There are mixed emotions for everyone in a case that leaves no victors -- just heartbreak.

"Me and my partner are both fathers and could never imagine what he's going through," Det. Glover said of Bernie. "When the guilty verdict came back, I was happy of the verdict, but at the same point couldn't help but feel bad for Bernie and that family. ...Ultimately, you know, nobody was really going to win in this case. And ... it's a tragedy.

"Julia and I are very close and we're gonna move on. We're gonna take this one day at a time and I've promised her that I will do everything I can to bring her brother back to her," said Bernie.

Bernie Pyne and his daughter Julia regularly make the five hour round trip to visit Jeffrey in prison.

A new attorney has filed an appeal on Jeffrey's behalf.

For more information on the case, visit www.justiceforjeffpyne.com

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