Truth On Trial

Who Killed A Doctor's Young Beautiful Wife?

Produced by Jamie Stolz and Susan Mallie

Decatur, Ala., sitting along the banks of the often murky Tennessee River, was once a booming river city with a thriving railroad.

Local crime reporter Jonathan Baggs says nothing shattered that quiet city like the case of 34-year-old Daniel Wade Moore. The ordeal Moore's been through has left him yearning for life's most simple pleasures, like sitting on the front porch with his sister.

Daniel learned about life the hard way - Decatur is home, except when he was living on Alabama's death row.

Daniel, who works for the local electric company, has his simple life back. But a constant part of that life is an unimaginable possibility: that he could once again become a dead man walking.

Nearly six years ago, Daniel was convicted of the murder of Karen Tipton and sent to death row. In 2005, the conviction was overturned, but he now faces another trial, and once again the death penalty.

"Time and time again you get a little bit of hope only to have the carpet jerked right out from under you. You can only take that so many times before you learn to quit hoping," he tells correspondent Erin Moriarty.

Dr. David Tipton also struggles to hang on to hope. He once lived in Decatur, on the other side of the tracks from Daniel.

Tipton, a psychiatrist, was raising his daughters Caroline and Catherine in their leafy Decatur neighborhood until something went terribly wrong: the brutal murder of Karen.

What happened nine years ago to Karen would connect David to Daniel in ways neither man could have imagined. Certainly not back in 1984, when David, a medical student, first met the beautiful blonde technician at an Alabama hospital.

Karen's brother Lance and sister Laurie say after five years of dating, Karen decided David was the one. "She said at one point, you know, 'He is just a great guy. He's gonna make some person a great husband. It might as well be me,'" Laurie remembers.

The first thing Karen wanted to do was start a family.

But the Tiptons' seemingly idyllic like came to an abrupt end on March 12, 1999, when David says he came home from work earlier than usual that day to go to the theatre.

When he walked from the garage into the house, he noticed the deadbolt on the door was not locked. Inside, he also noticed that the alarm panel had been removed from the wall. He found it lying on a kitchen counter.

"It was unusual. But it was not so weird. Given the fact that our alarm system was not working and we were expecting it to be fixed," he remembers.

David went into the foyer to hang up his coat. As he was calling for his wife, he says he noticed a small drop of blood on a tile in the foyer. "The next thing I saw was more blood. In the foyer, toward the door," he remembers. "And I walked up the stairs and was the most surprised person on the face of the earth to find a dead body there that looked somewhat like Karen."

Karen's nude body was lying at the top of the stairs. She had been stabbed 28 times, and her throat had been cut.

David called 911. "She is dead. I have no idea where my children are. There's blood everywhere. I'm really concerned about my children," he told the operator.

Investigators began searching for clues, as officers tracked down the Tipton children, who were still at school where they had never been picked up.

Who would kill this 39-year-old housewife and mother? The crime scene was puzzling: David reported that Karen's purse and some jewelry were missing, but her diamond ring was still on her finger and there was no evidence of forced entry. Most striking of all was how brutal and vicious the killing was - a sign to investigators that the killer may have been someone who knew Karen.

"Even from the beginning, I realized that I had to be a suspect. Because I was the first on the scene and the husband. I knew that," David says.

Police believed Karen was murdered sometime between 1 p.m. - after a phone call to a friend - and 2:30 pm when she was supposed to pick up the kids from school. David's office manager said he left his office in neighboring Huntsville at 3:30 p.m.

Jonathan Baggs, then working for the Decatur Daily, heard the report come across his police radio. He says that once police ruled out Karen's husband, they faced another problem. "There was a lot of pressure to solve this case and solve it very quickly," he remembers.

But days, then weeks went by with no solid leads.

Until one month later, when a high speed chase of a random shoplifter ended with the arrest of Daniel Wade Moore, then just 24 years old. Some 48 hours later, in a twist no one could have predicted, police believed they had found Karen's killer.