Produced by Josh Yager and Dena Goldstein
[This story first aired on April 2, 2016. It was updated on March 25, 2017]
Officer Dean Skiba was working the night shift in Montgomery County, Maryland, when he got the kind of call young police officers sometimes dream about -- and sometimes lose sleep over.
“How bloody was this apartment that day?” “48 Hours” correspondent Richard Schlesinger asked Officer Skiba.
“It’s like a horror movie. You can see it was up all over the wall, all over the ground,” he replied.
It was about 2 a.m. on Oct. 13, 2013, when three successful 20-somethings arrived at the tiny studio apartment near Washington, D.C. Two of them lived here - a grad student named Rahul Gupta and his girlfriend, Taylor Gould. They’d been barhopping for Gupta’s 24th birthday and came home with a friend, Mark Waugh, who was a promising young law student. Within about an hour, Waugh would be dead... stabbed to death on the floor.
When Taylor Gould called the police she was drunk, and, at times, incoherent:
Taylor Gould: He’s -- he’s here. And I -- I need emergency right now.
911 dispatch: What is happening?
Taylor Gould: I don’t know!
When Officer Skiba and the other first responders got to the scene, Taylor Gould met them at the door and stayed in the hall with police. He says the first responders had no idea what they were walking into.
“It was just a mess,” he said.
Mark Waugh was dead; Gupta was covered in blood, and drunk.
“He was drunk. He kept rambling and talking in circles,” said Officer Skiba.
But Skiba says he was startled by what Gupta said next.
“I do remember him distinctly saying to me, ‘I caught my buddy and my girl cheating. I killed my buddy,’” the officer told Schlesinger.
As drunk as he was, it was hard to know if Gupta’s confession was believable. He was handcuffed on the spot.
“What did you think about the woman? Was she a suspect?” Schlesinger asked of Gould.
“Uh yeah, definitely,” said Officer Skiba.
Because they also suspected Gould, police handcuffed her as well. Gould and Gupta arrived at police headquarters at about 5 a.m., where veteran interrogator Detective Paula Hamill met them.
“They were both brought to headquarters as suspects,” said Det. Hamill.
As a mother of six, Detective Hamill had questioned her share of young people. She says it was clear in Gupta and Gould’s answers that the haze of alcohol was obscuring the details.
“They’re the only people still alive and they were of no help,” the detective told Schlesinger.
Rahul Gupta to Det. Hamill: I’m really not sure what happened between when we got there and when the police got there.
They told strikingly similar stories about what they remembered -- which was not much.
Taylor Gould to Det. Hamill: I don’t know.
Rahul Gupta to Det. Hamill: It’s kinda sh---y that I don’t f---ing remember what happened.
Detective Hamill suspected they both knew more than they were letting on.
“That apartment, there’s not even like a separate bedroom or anything,” she said.
Det. Hamill: Somebody was murdered.
Taylor Gould: I know.
Det. Hamill: You have to have some explanation.
“That certainly is something that you would remember for your life,” said Det. Hamill.
Because he confessed, Rahul Gupta was still the prime suspect. But Detective Hamill couldn’t possibly have expected what happened when she turned up the heat on Taylor Gould:
Det. Hamill: Did you kill Mark?
Taylor Gould: I don’t think so.
She doesn’t say no. She told police she didn’t remember.
In his drunken confession at the scene, Gupta said he did it because he caught Gould cheating on him with Mark Waugh. But Gould says she and Waugh did nothing untoward.
Det. Hamill: You did not have any kind of sexual relationship with Mark?
Taylor Gould: No ... I can’t imagine doing that but if you find evidence otherwise I’m not going to deny it.
Detective Hamill spent hours going back and forth between Gould and Gupta and getting very little. As the hours passed, Gupta was sobering up and starting to back away from his confession:
Rahul Gupta:I found him like that.
Det. Hamill: So if you don’t remember, then -- then there’s the possibility that you did it.
Rahul Gupta: There is that possibility. But I -- I know for a fact that I didn’t do it.
“Was he frustrating you?” Schlesinger asked Det. Hamill.
“Yes,” she replied.
Rahul Gupta: I can’t say what happened.
Det. Hamill: You see how it’s hard for me to wrap my head around that?
Rahul Gupta: Sure.
After several hours of interrogation, Gupta was charged with murder and his parents hired defense attorneys Phil Armstrong and Jennifer Page.
“The first statement your client makes to the police was a confession. How do you get around that?” Schlesinger asked Armstrong.
“People who are under stress do crazy, stupid things,” he replied.
He says in this case, Gupta tried to cover for Taylor Gould.
“The bottom line is this. He’s innocent,” said Armstrong.
They agree his drunken confession is not as revealing as his character.
“Rahul Gupta is a kind, mild-mannered man whose life’s intent was to marry Taylor Gould, have a family, and help society,” said Page.
The Guptas arrived in the Washington area from India in 1986, and built a successful printing business. They moved to the affluent suburb of McLean, Virginia. Rahul Gupta met Mark Waugh in high school. Waugh was known as a quirky kid who loved to smile and loved a challenge -- in school, and in the great outdoors.
Before Mark Waugh started Georgetown Law School, he’d been a star debater in high school and college. Jason Peters met him years before that - in Cub Scouts.
“I remember-- sort of-- a funny, goofy character,” Peters told Schlesinger said. “Huge personality ... always smiling, always joking ... huge heart.”
A decade of campouts, cookouts and community service eventually made them both Eagle Scouts.
“He was a strong leader-- and someone that you could really look up to. He prided himself on his leadership ability,” said Peters.
“Mark ... was ... just a really nice kid,” Sherene Gupta Rapoport said. “He was a really good friend for Rahul.”
Gupta’s older sister says her brother was a loyal friend too, because they’d been raised to believe anything worth having was worth working hard to keep. In fact, the Gupta family worked hard for everything -- especially education. Rahul Gupta was going for his second Master’s degree.
Reporter Dan Morse, covering the murder for the Washington Post, said everything about this crime was interesting -- especially the three people who were there that night.
“Rahul is a really smart guy...” Morse said. “There’s Mark Waugh ... no one can say a bad thing about the guy. You know, why would anybody want to hurt him? ...And then there’s Taylor Gould...”
Morse says Gould showed immense promise, too. She and Gupta had started dating as seniors at George Washington University and moved in together after graduation.
“Did he ever talk to you about her?” Schlesinger asked Rapoport.
“I think I asked him one time, ‘Are you serious?’ You know, ‘Do you think this is going somewhere?’ and his reply was ‘Yes,’” she replied.
“And you approved?” Schlesinger asked.
“Yeah,” Rapoport replied. “I mean, I support him.”
Gould helped out with some of Gupta’s bills while he paid for his studies.
“She works at the FDA,” Schlesinger noted to Morse.
“Nice government job,” he said. “The three of them all had these very bright futures ahead of them.”
And one of them still could have a bright future, but not before police find out what happened in apartment 1601 ... and who did it?
Taylor Gould to Det. Hamill: Clearly, I, you know, interacted with the body, ‘cause I have blood on me. I just don’t know when it happened.
GUPTA & GOULD QUESTIONED
It was the evening after Mark Waugh’s murder and Sherene Gupta Rapoport says her family still had no idea what had happened.
“We started figuring out that something was wrong when Rahul didn’t respond to any of our birthday wishes,” she said.
In fact, they’d planned a dinner out to celebrate Rahul’s birthday. But Rahul and Taylor Gould never showed up.
“How worried were you?” Schlesinger asked.
“I mean, really worried. Really worried. Because ... it just wasn’t normal,” Rapoport replied. “We couldn’t get him on the phone. We couldn’t reach Taylor on her phone ... we knew there was something wrong.”
Det. Paula Hamill: Did you touch him?
Taylor Gould: That part I don’t remember.
At police headquarters, Paula Hamill spent about eight hours talking to Gupta and Taylor, but not getting anywhere:
Det. Hamill: The blood on your hands and your feet. Do you have any idea where that came from?
Taylor Gould: I assume from Mark.
Hamill says Gupta was still trying to talk his way out of his confession:
Rahul Gupta to Det. Hamill: I want to take this time now to say I did not attack anybody.
Gupta says he was zoned out on the couch, drunk and stoned, and only looked up when he heard Gould screaming. When he realized Waugh was hurt, he says, he tried to stop the bleeding.
Rahul Gupta [demonstrates for Det. Hamill]: I came to him. And then I put a lotta pressure here. And then I just sort of, like, hugged him.
Gupta acknowledged he never actually saw his best friend and his girlfriend doing anything improper ... he only had a hunch.
Rahul Gupta to Det. Hamill: Him and Tay just made it seem like they had a thing going on. ...And as soon as I found that out, I just started doin’ my own thing.
“The brother that I know is very calm, actually. A very calm person,” said Rapoport.
But since he had confessed at the scene, Rahul Gupta remained the prime suspect. Prosecutors Timothy Hagan and Patrick Mays would begin looking into his past.
“He was ... overly competitive, confrontational,” said Hagan.
“There was some talk about him having a temper,” Schlesinger noted to Rapoport.
“Yeah, not that I’ve seen,” she replied.
“You’ve never seen him mad?”
“No,” she replied.
“We know he has a temper and we know that that temper gets worse when he drinks,” Hagan continued.
They say it’s a wonder Gupta and Gould remember anything at all.
“You have the mix of alcohol and drugs...” said Mays.
Rahul Gupta to Det. Hamill: I smoked marijuana before I went [hiccups] before I went out.
Gupta and his friends went bar hopping for his birthday; to three bars, drinking for hours. Rahul, Taylor and Mark were joined by another friend, Josh White.
And everyone agrees things started getting strange around midnight at a bar called Buffalo Billiards -- but they strongly disagree on crucial details. Along with the drinking, there was a little flirting. One of the most important questions in this case is who was flirting with whom?
Taylor Gould says Josh White was getting a little too friendly:
Taylor Gould: Josh was texting me and it was really weird. And he was kind of hitting on me and um...
Det. Paula Hamill: Josh was?
Taylor Gould: Yes.
But Josh White would later tell police it was the other way around:
Josh White to detectives: She has a tendency to be a little flirtatious to Rahul’s friends. ...And I just asked her, like, straight up, like, “What’s the deal? ...Like, you know, you’re a little flirtatious...” And she said, “I couldn’t do that to Rahul. You know, I love him very much.”
White says Waugh walked up to them at exactly that moment, overheard her say “I couldn’t do that to Rahul” and misunderstood:
Josh White to detectives: It sounded like I was hitting on her and so he took that very badly... He was pretty pissed off...
White says he tried to explain the misunderstanding to Waugh and Gupta at the bar, but things had gotten uncomfortable and Gould wanted to leave. White went back to his place; Waugh went home with Gupta and Gould.
Security video shows the three of them walking through the lobby toward the elevator not long before the bloody attack on Mark Waugh.
“Can you tell anything from the body language of Rahul Gupta and Taylor Gould?” Schlesinger asked the prosecutors.
“She seems intoxicated,” said Hagan.
“She seem mad?” Schlesinger asked.
“I don’t think so,” Mays replied. “I didn’t see that,” said Hagan.
“Does he seem mad?”
“It’s hard to tell,” said Mays.
To this day, prosecutors still aren’t sure how Mark Waugh became the target of this brutal attack.
“Was there ever any friction between your brother and Mark?” Schlesinger asked Rapoport.
“Not that I know of,” she replied.
But at one point, Mark Waugh texted a friend, apparently from the bathroom:
“My night is becoming historically akward [sic]” and “I’m about to gnaw my hand off so I can leave in the ambulance.”
“He’s just ... looking for an escape,” said Hagan.
“So, there was some drama going on in that apartment?” Schlesinger asked.
“Absolutely,” Hagan replied.
Because Gupta and Taylor both lived in the apartment, DNA and fingerprints wouldn’t help. But there were other bits of evidence that would-- and the prosecutors say that’s what focused their attention on Gupta and away from Taylor.
“It’s not possible that she physically could have done it,” said Mays.
Taylor Gould is only 5’5” and 125 pounds. They were sure she isn’t big enough to be the killer.
“Mark ... who’s considerably larger than her, was fighting back,” said Mays.
“And she doesn’t have a mark on her consistent with being fought back,” added Hagan.
They also don’t think she was bloody enough.
“She has no blood on her face, no blood in her hair,” said Mays.
“Could she have washed up?” Schlesinger asked.
“There are photographs that are taken ... within several minutes,” Mays said. “Her hair is not wet and she has her makeup on.”
And they say she behaved as anyone would, who is confused and innocent.
Asked how she got blood on her hands,Hagan told Schlesinger, “Contact with Gupta.”
On the 911 call, it does sound like Gould could be touching Gupta:
Rahul Gupta: Get the f--k off of me. Don’t touch me.
The prosecutors concede Gould and Gupta might have been in love ... once. But they say they were not at the time of the murder.
“This relationship ... was not a good relationship,” said Mays.
Josh White to detectives: Rahul was just like, “I ... just wanna have fun. It’s my birthday ...”and then Taylor was just like, “We should just go.”
By the time police talked to Josh White, they were already thinking Gupta’s birthday binge was an argument waiting to happen.
Det. Paula Hamill to Taylor Gould: We’re just trying to find out what the f--k happened.
Det. Hamill: What the heck happened?
Rahul Gupta: Somebody got stabbed.
Det. Hamill: Right.
Rahul Gupta: So -- again I don’t know...I didn’t do it.
Gupta still insists he didn’t do it. But now, for the first time, he says he knows who did:
Det. Hamill: If you didn’t stab him, then who did? Tay?
Rahul Gupta: Yeah.
Det. Kathy Fumagalli: He said ... you had to have done it ‘cause he didn’t do it.
Taylor Gould: Oh, my God!
“I DIDN’T STAB ANYONE”
“I think he felt like ... maybe he could talk himself out of whatever trouble he might be in,” said Det. Paula Hamill.
Rahul Gupta: I did not attack Mark ... I did not attack anybody.
Rahul Gupta: I didn’t stab anyone.
Detective Hamill, who spent hours interrogating Rahul Gupta, says when he changed his story, she didn’t change her mind.
“I believe that ... his initial statement ... was as truthful as he could have been,” Hamill said. “And then I think he spent the rest of the time tryin’ to get away from it.”
“There’s no question that Rahul made ... false statements,” said defense attorney Jennifer Page.
Page says Gupta was drunk and disoriented and that’s why he confessed to protect Taylor Gould from being charged with the murder.
“I think it’s very difficult for people to believe that an innocent person would implicate themselves for any reason, at any time, to any degree,” said Page.
“I think that -- he would definitely -- try to protect Taylor,” said Rapoport.
“When you heard what he said to that first police officer who came in. What did you make of that?” Schlesinger asked.
“Honestly, I didn’t believe it,” she replied.
“You didn’t believe he said those words?”
Co-counsel Phil Armstrong says as Gupta sobered up, he quickly realized going to prison for Taylor Gould wasn’t a good idea. So he started telling the truth.
“When ... they questioned him about what happened, he was adamant that he had not done it,” said Armstrong.
And Armstrong says the evidence backs up his client, starting with that surveillance tape from shortly before the murder.
“Mark was - laughing,” Armstrong pointed out. “He and Rahul appeared to be interacting favorably.”
And they think that if anyone was acting suspiciously that night, it was Taylor Gould. Gupta’s lawyers say Taylor only called 911 when Gupta ordered her to, and she wouldn’t tell the operator much of anything:
911 Dispatch: OK. Taylor, are you there?
911 Dispatch: Taylor? Hello? Taylor?
Taylor Gould: Hello?
911 Dispatch: Taylor.
Taylor Gould: Yeah.
911 Dispatch: Yes, hello. I need you to talk to me.
The defense says that tape reveals a lot about Taylor and Gupta.
“You can hear him screaming, ‘Call 911,’” said Page.
911 Dispatch: What is the address of the emergency?
Rahul Gupta: 911! Call 911!
Taylor Gould: Shut up!
Rahul Gupta: Come on. Come on Mark, come on ... Breathe, Mark.
“He is bereft. He is sobbing. He is begging,” Page said of the 911 call.
“This is inconsistent with somebody who ... hated this man so much that he had to stab him 11 times,” said Armstrong.
Page and Armstrong say Gupta did everything he could to keep his friend alive.
“We know for a fact that he gave him CPR,” said Armstrong.
And they say that’s why he’s covered in Mark Waugh’s blood. They argue much of the other forensic evidence at the crime scene is meaningless as well, because police were careless.
Armstrong said, “Horrible mistakes were made.”
And the lawyers think Gould acted too deliberately that night, considering she claimed not to remember what happened. There is evidence that before the first responders could get there, she changed her clothes, not once, but twice.
“How did she get blood all over her legs? ... her hands? ...her dress?” Armstrong asked.
Det. Hamill: How did the blood get on the dress?
Taylor Gould: I mean, maybe -- maybe I was by Mark before or Rahul. But, I mean, I -- I have no idea.
Det. Hamill: You had the wherewithal to change your clothes... Yet, you can’t remember how you got the blood on you.
Taylor Gould: I’m telling you the truth.
Gupta’s lawyers say photos taken at the police station show Taylor could’ve been responsible.
“There were two very peculiar marks on her hand, located just below the knuckle of the little finger,” Armstrong explained. “If you stab someone with the knife, with any reasonable degree of force, it’s possible that your hand will slide down the knife and ... it will hit the bottom of the handle.”
Page and Armstrong say that Gould was strong enough to stab Waugh to death, despite her size.
“When we asked the medical examiner ... ‘Who could do this?’ she said, quote, ‘Any healthy adult,’” said Armstrong.
Police believe Mark Waugh fought his attacker and the lawyers say there is evidence that Taylor Gould was in a fight. Her fingernails were bloody and one was broken. One of her contact lenses was stuck to the back of Waugh’s jeans, and there was something else. Long, blond hair, just like Gould’s, was found on the murder weapon.
“Found wrapped around the knife ... never tested,” said Armstrong.
And it wasn’t just on the knife. More long, blond hair was stuck in a blood stain on the wall, and even in Mark Waugh’s hand.
“...clutched in his hand,” Armstrong noted,” as he lies dead on the floor.”
The hair was never tested, but it was assumed to belong to Taylor Gould. But the prosecutors say it doesn’t matter, because she lived there.
“There were strands ... of hair of hers throughout the apartment -- in every room,” said Hagan.
“There is a mountain of reasonable doubt,” Page said. “Rahul Gupta did not do it.”
“Mark Waugh was stabbed by Rahul Gupta,” Hagan continued. “What she did was most likely nothing.”
The prosecutors say they became convinced Taylor Gould is innocent largely because she admitted she could be guilty:
Taylor Gould: I can’t myself imagine doing that. So I’m just confused. ‘Cause, like, I’m not trying to put the blame on the wrong person.
“She’s trying to be truthful ... in describing the fact that she does not have a memory of what happened in that apartment,” said Mays.
“That gives her credibility in your book,” Schlesinger noted.
“It does,” said Hagan.
But the defense lawyers believe whatever Gould and Gupta said to police should not overshadow what they said to eachother about five hours after they arrived at police headquarters. In an unusual move, their interrogators brought them together -- and left them alone -- to see what happened.
“That was probably the second time in 10 years that I had done it,” Det. Hamill explained. “Maybe one of them would say something that would make us go, ‘Oh, oh did you hear that?’”
Rahul Gupta: What happened, Tay? ...What happened to Mark?
Rahul Gupta: Did you stab Mark or no?
This conversation could make the difference between who goes home... and who goes on trial for murder.
Rahul Gupta and Taylor Gould had been talking to police for about five hours, when Det. Paula Hamill made that unusual strategic decision to let them talk to each other:
Taylor Gould: Are you OK?
Rahul Gupta: Yeah (hiccup).
If Gupta was acting for the detectives, he was staying in character in a performance with Gould:
Rahul Gupta: Did you stab Mark or no?
Taylor Gould: I don’t think-- like, I wouldn’t do that. Why would I attack someone?
Gupta kept trying to blame Taylor:
Rahul Gupta: What happened between you two?
And she kept not quite denying that she did it.
“Did they have some conversation before the police got there to say, ‘I’ll say I don’t know. You say you don’t know and ... maybe they’ll never find out?’” said Det. Hamill.
But the conversation between Taylor and Rahul at times sure sounded unscripted:
Rahul Gupta: I wanna poop. I wanna eat. I’m hungry. ...Go out there and tell ‘em that I want my lawyer and I wanna get the f--k outta here.
Taylor Gould: OK.
Rahul Gupta: I just need to get the f--k outta here, dude.
And after that meeting, Gould made what sounds like another ambiguous remark to Detective Hamill:
Taylor Gould: You know, if I did it, I don’t -- I don’t want him to get hurt in this process.
But after more than five hours at police headquarters, Gould was released. And Gupta was soon charged with murdering Mark Waugh.
“Why did you believe her and not him?” Schlesinger asked Det. Hamill.
“I don’t know that -- we believed either one of them. But at the end of that day, there was more evidence to support his being responsible for the murder than her,” she replied.
“Is there any chance ... that Rahul and Taylor did this together?”
“No. I don’t believe knowingly that they did this together,” said Det. Hamill.
A year-and-a-half after Mark Waugh was killed, Dan Morse of the Washington Post was in court to cover Rahul Gupta’s murder trial. Cameras weren’t allowed.
“Right away, you’re sorta wondering how this defense is gonna play out,” he said.
“I want you have to the opportunity to answer this as directly as possible. Did your brother Rahul Gupta kill Mark Waugh?” Schlesinger asked Sherene Gupta Rapoport.
“No, he did not,” she replied.
“And you’re certain of that?”
“I’m 100 percent certain of that,” she said.
But Gupta did confess to murder -- even though he later changed his mind. So in opening arguments, his lawyers made some bold promises. They promised he would take the stand. And they promised to show not only he is not the murderer, but Taylor Gould is.
Gould isn’t on trial, but she will be a witness - and Gupta’s lawyers will get to cross-examine her. So while prosecutors Timothy Hagan and Patrick Mays officially prosecute Gupta, they also have to unofficiallydefend Gould.
“Somebody who murders someone in this fashion ... you would expect to be covered in blood,” Mays said. “One person in that apartment was covered in blood, Rahul Gupta.”
The defense maintains Gupta got the blood on him when he gave Mark Waugh CPR. And they say Gould had more than enough blood on her to be guilty, including spots inside her dress and on her bra. And Gupta’s lawyers want the jury to focus on those blonde hairs on the knife and in Waugh’s hand.
“What are the chances that there’s gonna be hair on the knife, hair in the hands, hair on the wall ... and she says she has no involvement in this case?” said Armstrong.
“How would Taylor Gould’s blonde hair end up in Mark Waugh’s hand?” Schlesinger asked Hagan.
“Any number of possibilities. We’re talking about a dirty apartment,” he replied. “We aren’t talking about a clump of hair; we’re talking about a strand.”
Gould wasn’t much help in clearing anything up on the stand. Even in front of a jury, she said she just didn’t remember because she’d blacked out from all the drinking.
“By the time she said it over and over again,” Morse said, “it’s somewhat credible.”
“If she had done it, the easiest thing in the world for her to do now was to point the finger at him,” Hagan said. “But she never does that.”
Except on the stand, she finally says she did not kill Mark. She says she is not capable of it. But, from the beginning, there was a sense that if there was a bombshell in this trial, it would come from Rahul Gupta when he took the stand.
“People were just hangin’ on this guy’s words. And it’s a cliché, but you coulda heard a pin drop,” said Morse.
Gupta was calm and composed. He testified that after arriving home, he’d argued with Gould about whether she had been flirting with Josh White at the bar. And he told the jury something he hadn’t told police. He said he tripped and hit his head right before Mark was killed.
“When Rahul Gupta ... sat back up from falling, this entire event had gone on all around him and that he hadn’t noticed it,” Mays explained.
On cross-examination, Patrick Mays confronts Gupta about how such a brutal attack could have happened in such a small space without him noticing. And then Mays launches an attack of his own -- offering texts suggesting Taylor and Gupta’s relationship was in trouble and that he would never have confessed just to protect her.
“And then he hits him with these texts about Taylor complainin’ about their sex life. And he’s saying, you were willing to spend the rest of your life in prison for this ... young lady that is complainin’ to you about your performance in bed?” said Morse.
Gould’s texts to Gupta:
“Our sex life may not be salvageable.”
“You shouldn’t have to make yourself have sex with me.”
“They cherry picked a half a dozen texts over two years. And we gave them back very similar texts that indicated they had a very loving relationship,” said defense attorney Phil Armstrong.
Gupta’s texts to Gould:
“I wouldn’t trade my time with you for anything.”
“I love you.”
“We know that this was a rocky relationship at best,” said Mays.
Gupta’s lawyers think it’s critical for jurors to know that he maintained his innocence in that taped discussion with Taylor.
But it won’t work. In a potentially crucial decision, the judge rules that the jury cannot see it.
“The guy who’s on trial says, ‘I didn’t do this’ to his girlfriend, ‘did you?’ And she says, ‘I don’t know.’ And the jury never got to hear it,” said Armstrong.
But the jury did get an earful of another recording, and that one could decide this case.
GUPTA’S FATE DECIDED
After nearly 15 hours in custody, Rahul Gupta made a phone call. He called his father.
Like most calls from most jails, this one was recorded. Gupta told his father what happened in the apartment:
Arvind Gupta: Where are you?
Rahul Gupta: I’m in jail.
Arvind Gupta: What happened?
Rahul Gupta: Mark and I got into a fight and he tried to get a knife. And then I --
Arvind Gupta: Who?
Rahul Gupta: -- got the knife.
It’s hard to hear, but it sounded to lawyers on both sides like Gupta admitted holding the knife. The jury will decide for itself.
“He’s still traumatized by what happened,” Phil Armstrong said. “It doesn’t make any rational sense.”
“It doesn’t unless he’s telling his father the truth,” Schlesinger commented.
“And he might be telling his father the truth if it weren’t for the fact that all of the scientific evidence ... points in the opposite direction,” said Armstrong.
In their closing argument, prosecutors say the jury doesn’t have to take their word about Gupta being guilty; they can take Gupta’s:
Arvind Gupta: Who - who -- who did you get into a fight with?
Rahul Gupta: Mark.
“It’s the first and the last statements that he makes. And in between there he tries a number of different lies,” said Mays.
The state has made a strong case against Gupta. But Dan Morse says on the witness stand, Gupta made a pretty strong case of his own.
“I thought ... he might pull this off,” said Morse.
“How did he present himself?” Schlesinger asked Gupta’s sister.
“I thought he did really good. I mean, he was Rahul. You know, he was him,” Sherene Gupta Rapoport replied.
As the jury begins to deliberate, the stakes for the prosecution could not be higher. If Rahul Gupta is not convicted of murdering Mark Waugh, chances are nobody ever will be, because the state has already argued Taylor Gould is not the killer.
The jury takes less than a day to decide. The verdict: guilty.
“Our son Mark, all I can say, was a gift from God,” Bill Waugh addressed reporters after the verdict.
And the sentence, life in prison, is what Mark Waugh’s family was hoping for.
“His murder was a sin not just on his family but on the community as a whole,” Bill Waugh told reporters after Gupta’s sentencing.
“I mean, it was devastating,” said Rapoport.
“How do you deal with that? How do you absorb that?” Schlesinger asked.
“When you don’t have a choice, you just do it,” she replied.
“We feel very strongly that he didn’t get a fair trial,” said Armstrong.
Gupta’s lawyers believe the judge should have allowed the jury to see that tape of Gupta talking to Taylor at police headquarters.
“This is important stuff that goes right to the issue of guilt or innocence,” said Armstrong.
“Is Taylor Gould an innocent bystander in all of this?” Schlesinger asked Prosecutor Hagan.
“Yes,” he replied.
“Purely innocent?” Schlesinger pressed.
“We believe so, yes,” said Hagan.
“I feel comfortable that she wasn’t held criminally responsible in the murder,” said Det. Paula Hamill.
Detective Hamill maintains Taylor Gould is legally “not guilty.” But she believes Gould may have played some role in what happened that night.
“Miss Gould could have set up an environment ... that caused Mr. Gupta to become upset,” she explained. “I also still do believe ... that she was possibly involved in a relationship with the victim behind Mr. Gupta’s back.”
Taylor Gould did not want to discuss that night -- or anything else -- with “48 Hours.” She’s getting an MBA and moving on with her life.
“Miss Gould ... has something she has to carry for the rest of her life,” said Det. Hamill.
Sherene Gupta Rapoport says Rahul does, too. The family is doing what they can to help him transition from life as a student to life in prison.
“Rahul and us, you know, we’re determined to make the best of this, however that might be. I don’t think we have a choice,” said Rapoport.
But Rahul is still in their lives.
“At the end of the day, I’m grateful that I have my brother. You know, and he’s still somebody I can go and talk to, I can visit. I can write to him,” said Rapoport.
She says all the Guptas know that’s more than Mark Waugh’s parents have.
“While I can talk to my brother, you know, they can’t talk to Mark,” Rapoport continued in tears.
After Gupta’s sentencing, Mark Waugh’s father, Bill, told reporters, “His death is a tragedy that we must carry for the rest of our lives.
On March 24, 2017, Rahul Gupta’s latest appeal was denied.
Nancy and Bill Waugh have filed a wrongful death suit against Rahul Gupta.