A Question Of Murder

Did John Maloney Get A Fair Trial?

This story originally aired March 26, 2005.

The NFL's Green Bay Packers are the soul of Green Bay, Wis., a hard-working, blue-collar town that takes pride in its team and its clean-cut image and generally leaves violence on the field.

But the town's traditional values were rocked to the core in 1999, when a jury found one of Green Bay's own police officers guilty of murder, of strangling his wife and setting her on fire. The officer, John Maloney, was sentenced to life in prison.

"Sometimes, I still wake up in the middle of the night and realize, look around, and come back to reality that I am in this place. I don't belong in here," says Maloney, who denies committing the crime.

Maloney has spent the last six years in prison, and his protests of innocence might have rung hollow if there weren't so many troubling questions about this case.

Correspondent Susan Spencer reports.

Maloney says the key to understanding what really happened is to understand his wife, Sandy.

The Maloneys have three children: Matt, Sean and Aaron. Matt, the oldest, says his all-American family began crumbling in the early 1990s, when Sandy developed neck pain and along with it, a serious addiction to prescription drugs.

"If she couldn't get the pills from her doctors, her friends would provide it for her," says Matt. "They were no help to her."

Things were so bad that if the boys needed a prescription, the local pharmacist would make them take the pill in front of him, to make sure Sandy wouldn't steal it. But even that didn't work.

"She'd tell me to slip it under my tongue and just keep it under there until we left the place. And then I'd spit it out, and she'd take it when we left," recalls Matt. "I know I shouldn't have been doing it but I was so young. Now that I think about it, I can't believe someone would do that, especially your own mom."

But Sandy's situation deteriorated, and was complicated by depression, panic disorder and alcohol. Matt says they started finding vodka bottles all over the house. And Maloney says this promoted a lot of arguments: "They were loud. Yelling and screaming. ... Doors slammed and stuff like that. I mean, it was, you know, a terrible time."