The Perfect Murder

SN 5 | EP 10 | The Last Blitz

In the early morning of April 13, 1996, Earl Little, a cornerback on the University of Miami football team, returns home to the on-campus apartment he shares with his football teammates. The door is unlocked, but when Earl tries to open it, it won't budge. With more force, Earl pushes the door further open, only to have the worst shock of his life: slumped against the door is 22-year-old Marlin Barnes a linebacker for University of Miami and Earl's best friend since childhood barely alive. Marlin's face has been smashed beyond recognition. Earl races to call 9-1-1. When police and paramedics arrive, they discover a second victim in the apartment. 22-year-old Timwanika Lumpkins, Marlin's female friend, lies in a bedroom, her body partly hidden under a bed. It appears she has been dragged out from underneath the bed by an attacker. Like Marlin, she has been bludgeoned repeatedly. Both Marlin and Timwanika die before reaching medical care. As the morning progresses, detectives begin their investigation into this gruesome double homicide. Police observe wood splinters on the floor of the apartment. On the floor, they also find an unfired 12-gauge shotgun shell and a piece of metal that appears to be the trigger guard from a shotgun. Marlin was a well-liked member of the football team. Timwanika, police learn, was a young mom who worked from home and had been friends with Marlin since high school. Detectives learn that the night before, Marlin and Timwanika attended a party at the Miami dance club. When Marlin left the club to return home, he discovered two tires had been slashed on his SUV. Marlin, Timwanika, and Shabaka Graves, a teammate who had also attended the party, had pushed the car to nearby gas station. Timwanika and Marlin had gotten a tow back to Marlin's apartment from there. Police visit the gas station where Barnes and Lumpkins waited for the tow truck. An attendant tells police about a suspicious looking man, wearing a hooded sweatshirt, who sat in his car and appeared to be looking across the street. He drove a grey Nissan with no license plates. Detectives look into Marlin's background. Marlin was born in the crime ridden Liberty City projects in North Miami. Marlin was no stranger to violence his own father was shot to death. Marlin, however, followed a different path avoiding gangs from an early age, and even founding a "Right Track" program aimed at steering impoverished youngsters away from a life of crime and drugs. Police know they need to consider all possibilities in this investigation. Could gang members, carrying a grudge against Marlin, and be behind this brutal double homicide? Then, a tip comes in that ever detective hopes for. A young woman tells police that her boyfriend, Joseph Stewart, supplied a shotgun to his cousin, a bad guy. When the cousin returned the gun, it was bloody and splintered. Joseph Stewart's cousin, this woman tells police, is Labrant Dennis the former boyfriend of Timwanika Lumpkins, and father of her child. Finally the pieces are falling into place. Detectives speak to Joseph and retrieve the shotgun. The Medical Examiner soon confirms that this is the murder weapon. Police trace the grey Nissan to Labrant's current girlfriend, and the gas station attendant identifies Labrant Dennis as the hooded man seen on the night of the murders. Police also learn that Labrant Dennis was abusive toward Timwanika. At trial, prosecutors explain how Labrant Dennis was driven to kill. Shortly before both were murdered, Marlin had helped Timwanika move out of the home she shared with Labrant. Seeing Timwanika with Marlin had sent Labrant into a fury a fury that grew until the night of April 13th, 1996, when Labrant Dennis stalked Marlin and Timwanika home from the club and beat both in a jealous rage. In 1999, Labrant Dennis is convicted of killing Marlin Barnes and Timwanika Lumpkins and sentenced to death.

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The Perfect Murder
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