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tv   2020  ABC  October 7, 2016 9:01pm-10:00pm MST

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tonight, on an all-new "20/20," the story of two wildly different women on two opposite sides of a murder. one, a nurse and mother, convicted of killing her boyfriend. >> my whole life is over. he was my life. >> the other, a lawyer, obsessed with proving her innocence. >> it could happen to any one of us. >> tonight, "20/20" taking you into that case, from the inside-out. with 13 years fighting a murder charge, her life passing her by. >> what did you miss most? >> everything. >> will this be her last chance
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>> you're coming out in a pine box. >> reporter: it's 10:00 at night. and while most of us are at home, alissa bjerkhoel is at the office. >> my motto is like, i'm never going to give up. i will find a way. >> reporter: an attorney with the california innocence project, bjerkhoel is so devoted to crusading for her clients' release from prison, that their cases literally move her to tears. >> how do you tell someone that even with that evidence of innocence, they're going to die in prison? >> reporter: in this case, that me california emergency room nurse. a mother of two little ones. found guilty of savagely killing her live-in boyfriend 13 years ago. >> if it can happen to someone like kim, who is a nurse in the community, who is a mother, who's just your average american family, it can happen to any one of us, and that's what's scary. >> reporter: nurse, mom, daughter. that's the portrait of kim long her attorneys want you to have,
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biker chick and brutally violent. >> i'm not that person. i'm not a mean, malicious person. >> reporter: so who's the real kim? she agreed to talk to us, so tonight you can form your own opinion. now, it's about being natural and it's about conversation and about being you. >> i never care how i look. >> reporter: really? >> no. >> reporter: the affable demeanor and self-assured voice of the former nurse, a far cry from the frantic tone you hear in her 911 call on october 6th, 2003. >> oh, my god, i can't look, i can't look, i can't look. >> reporter: screams of disbelief as kim describes the body of her boyfriend, ozzy conde, brutally bludgeoned to death on their living room sofa. >> i always have to relive it and it's so hard to do, you know? after 13 years, it's just not any easier to explain what happened. >> reporter: she'd certainly
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they first met in the late '80s when she was in middle school in sunny orange county, california. the two shared a passion for a new band called guns n' roses. ? oh sweet child of mine ? >> reporter: what drew you to him? >> he was very sweet, very genuine. he was the first person i've ever loved, so i think that always sticks with you for the rest of your life. >>ep when kim's family moved to corona, an l.a. bedroom community about 25 miles away. it would be nearly a decade before the two lovebirds locked eyes again. it happened out of the blue on a hunch. kim says she appeared at ozzy's front door. had he changed much since you met him first in middle school? >> we just got older. i think it was love at first sight again. we both felt the same way. >> reporter: except for one big difference. when they last saw each other they were kids. now kim had kids of her own, a 5-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter. ozzy was also a dad and had
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his muse? motorcycles. his canvas? polished chrome. and while he dreamed of open roads, kim fantasized about a biker wedding. >> yeah, now it sounds really stupid, you know? a biker wedding. all i wanted was a couple bikes there. i thought it would be cool. >> reporter: october 5th, 2003, a lazy fall sunday. kim's kids are away, so she and ozzy join some friends for a day of biking and boozing. >> alcohol played every aspect of a bad decision that i ever made. >> reporter: by nightfall kim says she's downed as many as 22 drinks. she's lit up like the fourth of july, and ozzy is aggravated as he watches his girlfriend flirt with other guys here at a local bar. were you a flirt? >> yeah. he just said i was moving about too much, talking to other people, not paying attention to
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>> reporter: the timeline of what follows, much of it hotly contested, will be key to the case. but all sides agree that once home, in the couple's driveway, the jealousy and resentment prove to be explosive. do you remember the kinds of things you were saying to him? >> you're not working. get out. could've said deadbeat. i said some pretty mean things to him. he was in between jobs, so i just had a lot of ammunition. >> reporter: fed up, she told him to pack up and get out. there's a witness to all of this. jeff dills, fr hung with them throughout the day. he watches as kim becomes violent, not only hurling insults, but anything she can get her hands on. >> yeah. started throwing my purse at him. i think i swung my helmet. >> reporter: well, i mean, you were having a physical altercation in public with a man who a couple of hours later would wind up dead. >> mm-hmm. >> reporter: looks bad. >> yeah. it does. >> reporter: fearing neighbors might call police, jeff steps in and offers to take kim to his place to cool off. but after they arrive there,
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>> kim had another drink and they decided to get into the hot tub, started fooling around, kissing, and then they took things to the bedroom. >> reporter: after their tryst, jeff drives kim back home. he says he watched her go inside. >> this is like the hardest part. the door was unlocked and i walked into the house and i can -- man. so i could see ozzy laying on the couch, and i called his name, and i saw a big bloodstain on the couch. >> reporter: she says when she sees a gaping gash on his head, she freaks out. >> i ran outside for some reason thinking i can catch jeff. and i remembered going into the kitchen, getting the phone, and calling 911. >> reporter: the call was made at 2:09 a.m. >> i just came home. he's bloody. i don't know what's going on. he's still breathing. something's wrong. >> do you think you can give him medical attention? >> i can't give him medical attention. something's wrong with him! >> reporter: did you think of rendering first aid? >> i don't know. >> reporter: doing anything? >> i'm just panicked and i need
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>> reporter: after being cooped up in the interrogation room for hours, cops begin to question nurse long. she's still drunk from her 12-hour bender, but she's clear-headed enough to demand some answers. >> what the [ bleep ] happened? >> that's what we are trying to figure out, kim. >> oh, my god. i don't understand any of this. >> reporter: she describes that day's events, but is oddly reluctant to specify who she was with. >> who were you riding with? >> friends. >> friends? >> mm-hmm. >> what are their names? >> that doesn't matter. >> reporter: when the interrogation resumes, kim is inconsolable. ozzy's lost his life, she's lost her love. >> do you know how [ bleep ] my life is now? he was it. he was it. i have nothing. we were going to have a biker wedding. everything was perfect. he was my match.
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on your definition of perfect. police are putting the squeeze on kim for killing her mr. right, but were they looking in the wrong place? coming up, the tale of the angry ex. if anybody was going to kill him, it would probably be you. >> and he's not the only person with a possible motive. i'm elizabeth vargas, we're live on facebook and twitter. tell us,
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"20/20" continues with more of her last chance. >> i've been at the police station since 2:00 in the morning. >> reporter: the party is over for kim long, but her quality time with corona police is just getting started. >> my whole [ bleep ] life is over. he was my life. >> reporter: as she bounces off room, her belly still full of booze. she's not just under the influence, but under suspicion. is this the case of if you find the body you're automatically a suspect? >> that's almost automatic in law enforcement. you have to put that person as a potential suspect until you can rule them out. >> reporter: former fbi agent and abc consultant steve gomez, has studied the police file. they get the autopsy back and what does it tell them?
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strike ozzy was some type of long object, such as a bat or a golf club. >> reporter: could a relatively petite 5'3", 4"-foot woman, weighs 130 pounds, could she have done that? >> if she was angry enough. >> reporter: we returned to the house with bill sylvester, an investigator for kim's defense team. the current residents allowed us inside. >> all right, so this is very similar to the way it was. and the argument is this is where the suspect was, doing something like this. there were blood spatters found on every wall in this room. ceiling, the floor, this door, and out this door into the garage. >> reporter: two things are noticeably absent at the scene. for one, the murder weapon, which to this day has never been recovered. and two, despite the bloody crime scene, not a speck of blood was found on the cops'
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not on those jeans, that black shirt, that belt. can you understand why police found that a little suspicious? >> not really. >> reporter: i mean, you were so clean, that something smelled rotten. >> well, that's just because i wasn't there when it happened. >> reporter: the cops begin to formulate a theory that kim came home still angry, beat ozzie to death, disposed of the murder weapon and cleaned herself up before dialing 911. but she's got an alibi witness. at least she thought she did. jeff dil brought her over to his house and into his hot tub that night. >> did anything happen in the jacuzzi? >> no. >> did you and jeff have anything going on? >> no. no. >> reporter: well, that's not true. and when jeff dills comes in for questioning, his story isn't just different. it's damning. >> did she say anything about not to say anything about the night before? >> she says the cops are going to want to talk to you. i said that's fine. no problem. and then i said, did you tell them that we [ bleep ].
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she said, please don't tell them that. >> reporter: why lie about having sex with jeff dills? you are possibly a suspect for murder. >> yeah, i was just embarrassed. like, who wants to tell them, "oh, yeah, by the way, i ran off with some other dude." having sex with somebody doesn't make you a murderer. >> reporter: true. but your lover's statements just might. dills continues to bury kim, telling police she had a motive. >> she's, man, i could just kick his [ bleep ], you know. that kind of thing. or i want to kick his [ bleep ]. i don't remember the exact words. >> reporter: and worst of all, opportunity. dills tells cops he dropped kim off back at the house much earlier than kim claimed. he says he knows because he checked the clock when he got home. >> i remember noting the time as 1:36. i'm thinking i, going backwards from the 1:36, i had to drop her off between 1:20 and 1:30. >> reporter: long didn't call 911 for help until 2:09 that morning. leaving up to 49 unaccounted minutes with ozzy. and according to police, giving
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crime and clean herself up. at that moment the cops are convinced they had their killer. did kim long ever give a reasonable explanation for what she may have been doing for 50 minutes in the house? >> she always denied that it was that long. >> reporter: but if kim's a killer, she's a cooperative one. agreeing to take a polygraph test. >> the probability of you being deceptive is less than 0.01%. >> reporter: meaning according to that technician there's virtually no chance she's lying. that doesn't stop the cops from pressing her in a follow-up interview, during which she breaks into hysterics. >> no, jeff! no! no! >> didn't you tell him to move his stuff out that night? if you love him so much, why did you tell ozzie to leave? >> maybe because i'm a drunk and i'm a [ bleep ]. >> [ bleep ] enough to crack his head open? >> no, no!
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long finds herself under arrest for bludgeoning to death a man who was once her teenage crush. >> i am going to remain silent. i'm not going to say anything at all until i have a lawyer or an attorney with me. >> reporter: when you reviewed the police reports, did anything stand out? >> yeah, we were missing something. i remember going to the attorney and saying this cannot possibly be the whole case. somebody did it, and the real problem that we have in this case is investig d.a. developed tunnel vision on one suspect. >> reporter: kim's defense team insists that kim shouldn't have been the only suspect. that's because ozzy conde may have been a great guy, but he sure had his share of enemies. here's one of them. i mean, do you hate this guy? >> i did, yes. >> reporter: meet joe bugarski, kim's ex-husband, the father of her son, the man she dropped like a bad habit when she got "reacquainted" with ozzy. she kicks you out of the house, brings him in, to live with your kids. >> right.
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moves in. >> reporter: kim's attorneys claimed this laid-back construction worker then became an obsessed cuckold who stalked kim after she dumped him, hiding in her bushes, peeping in her windows. >> i was pretty pissed. very upset. i mean, how would any other man feel? i'm like, "what kind of guy moves into some house, and they are not even divorced?" >> reporter: well -- and if anybody in the world had a motive to kill the man, it's you. >> right. i mean, i am not the vio type to that extent, to kill someone. but i didn't, i did not like -- i didn't, i didn't like the situation. >> reporter: could joe, kim's ex-husband, be the killer? no way, he says. he was home that night with witnesses to prove it. but he's not the only suspect kim floated. you had a theory of who did it. >> yes. >> reporter: that you said during the interrogation. >> yeah. there was only one person that didn't like us. >> reporter: didn't like? try burning hatred. >> do you have any idea who would, who would have done
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who? >> his ex. >> reporter: she's talking about this woman. we've agreed to change her name. we're calling her cynthia. kim's defense team has dubbed her ozzy's jealous ex, a woman scorned. and she calls kim. >> that woman is the devil's child herself. >> reporter: devil's child. >> devil's child. there's no doubt in my mind. i know she killed him. and i know she doesn't even [ bleep ] care, and it makes me sick. >> reporter: cynthia and ozzy were together for eight years. they raised two kids together. one theirs, one hers from a previous relationship. she says those were the good times. >> he liked to spend time with his family a lot. he was a wonderful father. >> reporter: but when kim came on the scene, she says the situation turned sour. >> my son had came home and he told me that he saw kimberly punch ozzy in the face. that was not okay with me. so i stopped ozzy's visitation.
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>> she had just made our lives a living hell. >> reporter: what did she do? >> she called, she harassed, she threatened. she wanted money from ozzy. it was a -- it was a constant battle. >> i mean, i -- i yeah, i wasn't happy with her. i was pretty pissed off at kim. >> reporter: in the polygraph interview after the murder, the cops want to know if her hatred for kim extended to ozzy. >> have you ever made any comments that, hey, i wished ozzy was dead. >> i did say things like that towards his girlfriend, kim. i said i wish i could kill her. >> reporter: you heard that right. "kill kim." but was ozzy also in the cross-hairs? coming up, cynthia takes things into her own hands. how far did she go? stay with us. ? some relationships you stick with. over time, they get even better.
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>> reporter: just how furious was ozzy's former girlfriend cynthia? well, furious enough that after an argument with ozzy on the phone, she'd taken matters into her own hands, and headed to their home, armed with a sharpie. >> he wasn't even there. i got upset, wrote deadbeat
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>> reporter: and you put glue in the door too. right? >> i did. mm-hmm. sure. >> reporter: they didn't think it was very funny. >> not funny on their end, no. >> reporter: but she's not through. after that episode, she pens this profanity-laced letter. "girl, i really hope you love this guy even though he cheats on you. because i promise when i get done with him you'll be supporting his ass forever." you were angry. >> mm-hmm. >> reporter: ozzy had had enough of her. he filed for a restraining order, which included a child custody request. they were not expecting cynthia to take it well. >> we had bats by the door. >> reporter: you kept baseball bats by the door? >> yeah. we were ready. >> reporter: did one of those bats become the missing murder weapon in cynthia's hands? ozzy's own family thought it was possible. listen to what ozzy's brother
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>> she had threatened to kill him and kill his kim. she wanted to slice their throats. >> and why did she want to slash his throat or their throats? >> they were having conflicts. i think she was jealous of kim. >> reporter: so, you did not yourself take a bat to ozzy's head that night, nor, you're saying, did you hire somebody else to do it? >> absolutely not. >> reporter: you had nothing to do with his murder. >> i didn't want ozzy dead. dead? >> no, she's not dead. >> reporter: well, that doesn't mean you succeeded. >> i don't want anybody dead. >> reporter: so, whodunit? cynthia, the bitter ex-girlfriend? joe, the humiliated husband? or kim, the hard-partying nurse, and the only one who's been charged? it fell to the jury in judge patrick mager's courtroom to sort it all out. were you confident that you would get off? >> yeah. >> reporter: did you think, "there is no way they are going to convict me." >> absolutely. >> reporter: what gave you the
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trial begins, the prosecution's key witness, biker jeff dills, has died at the helm of his beloved harley. but judge magers rules his testimony from a pretrial hearing can be read to the jury. >> this is a case that literally hinges on the testimony of a guy who actually didn't testify at trial. >> reporter: and a man who's dead. >> a man who had died before trial. >> reporter: and despite the defense's attempts to cast suspicion on kim's ex-husband joe bugarski, the prosecution calls on him to establish that kim had a history of violence. >> we did have some heated arguments when we were together that weren't so pleasant where i went to bed thinking, "man, after that argument, am i even going to be alive when i wake up," you know? it got pretty bad. >> reporter: so you honestly thought that maybe she could -- >> yeah. >> reporter: kill you in your sleep? >> yeah.
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that trial to end with a hung jury. so the prosecution comes back a second time. once again bringing up kim's lies to the cops, dills' timeline, the questions about her clothing. >> what happened when you got in? >> i seen him on the couch. >> reporter: this time kim's defense pivots to the cynthia theory. but it's an uphill battle. for one thing, jurors never learn that the results of cynthia's polygraph were inconclusive. >> regarding ozzy, did you plan or arrange with anyone to have >> no. >> reporter: and then, on the stand, she says she's got an alibi. she was on a date the night of the murder. dinner and 90 minutes in a room at this days inn. >> the man that i was with testified in court to my whereabouts. i was with him. i was with him until well over midnight. >> reporter: in the end, jurors rejected kim's lawyer's efforts to pin ozzy's murder on cynthia.
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as the ball dropped on 2006, the gavel dropped on kim long. she was found guilty of second degree murder. >> so when they said that "found guilty," i hate that image. i had to get it right in my head, real quick. you know, they are going to put handcuffs on me, you know? you got to get stoic, you got to get strong. >> reporter: at sentencing, presided over her first trial, delivered two surprise announcements. first, something that would leave even courtroom veterans dumbfounded. what did the judge say? >> basically, that if, if it had been a bench trial, he would have found her not guilty or acquitted her. >> reporter: and then, another stunner. sentencing kim to 15 years to life but allowing her to remain free on bail during her appeal. >> he said, "i never had a case
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and that's when he let me go, pending my appeal. so i went home. >> reporter: the process takes years. finally in february, 2009, the california supreme court denies kim's final appeal, and she's ordered to turn herself in. but nothing in this case is simple. on the day kim is due to report into prison, she disappears. >> how do you turn yourself over to a life sentence? 15 to life means you're going away for life and you're coming out in a pine box. >> reporter: next, kim long on the lam.
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sheriff paul babeu was headmaster at desisto school in massachusetts. a boarding school rife with abuse. a lot of things went down that probably shouldn't have. this isn't about abuse or neglect, because none of this was found. except these records show the state found it, students and parents testified about it, and a judge ordered it to stop. the cornering, the sheeting, i didn't know how to live and function as a normal human being.
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"20/20" continues with more >> reporter: it's time for kim long to go to prison. but instead, she's gone camping. ten days later, she finally surfaces to face the music. why ten days late? >> how do you do it? >> reporter: i don't know. i've never done it. >> i know. i didn't know how to give up everything. how do you walk away from your children, your mom, your dad? >> reporter: she swaps those jeans and bikini tops for prison
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lies to help her grieving parents, roger and darleen, cope. >> i always reassured my parents i was okay, even if i wasn't, 'cause, you know, when your child is not okay, you are not okay. >> reporter: right. >> so i faked it a lot. >> we saw her every weekend so she would be just smiling and she always, always at the end of each visit she'd say, "mom, i'm coming home." and i said, "i know you are." >> reporter: did you always believe her, though? >> yes, yes, yes. >> reporter: but right after she arrives, she lobs a legal long >> the only thing i do remember was making that first phone call to my mom and asking her if the california innocence project knew i was in prison. >> reporter: that was the first thing you said to your mother, in your first call? >> "do they know i am here?" and, "are they coming to get me?" >> reporter: the california innocence project is a clinic based out of the california western school of law, in downtown san diego. it's mission -- to free
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>> this is our war room. we are down in the trenches. this is the place where the students are making phone calls, tracking down witnesses, this is where it all happens. >> reporter: alissa bjerkhoel was just a law student when she first started shoveling through the endless documents in kim's case. >> you have a judge saying, "i don't think the evidence is enough to convict," so there were all these interesting factors that kind of put up a red flag for us that this really could be a case of a wrongful conviction. >> the the case seems pretty weak. >> reporter: wrongful conviction cases are common enough that the issue has seeped into pop culture. exhibit "a," this week's premiere of the new abc drama, "conviction." the biggest difference between that program and this one, this case is real. >> in the beginning when i would visit kim, she was very distraught. she was and i don't know how
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just like a caged animal trying to get out. >> reporter: but, just like hayley atwell's hayes morrison, alissa would eventually make her job her mission. >> i tracked down every single lead i could come up with to figure out, you know, who did this crime, because a lot of these wrongful convictions, people want to know, well, if she didn't do it, then who did? >> reporter: alissa hoped the answer might lie at the tip of this cigarette butt found near ozzy's body. >> the cigarette butt revealed unknown male dna. it was likely male hispanic dna. it doesn't match the victim. it doesn't match kim. it doesn't match anyone that we know of in this case. >> reporter: looks promising, but alissa can't establish when that butt was left there. it could have been days or even weeks before. >> and so i tried as hard as i could to find out who really did this, and never could definitively say it was one person or another. but i did, in that process, gather enough evidence to show that kim definitively could not have done it.
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case. the credibility of jeff dills. remember, he's the dead man talking. the biker friend kim hooked up with that fateful night. >> a man who had died before trial. a man who had never been cross-examined thoroughly about this timeline, about how much he drank, about his motivation to distance himself from kim because he was afraid the cops were going to blame the murder on him. >> reporter: dills told the cops he dropped kim off between 1:20 and 1:30 a.m. the 911 call came in at 2:09. prosecutors asserted that ozzy was killed during that window. but in death, ozzy's body held clues which might refute that. details that suggest he may have been killed before kim could've gotten there. when paramedics arrived, they already saw signs that the body was decomposing? >> yeah. >> reporter: which means he was dead for how long? >> at least over an hour. at the minimum, over an hour.
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the crime, before 1:20? >> exactly. >> reporter: but get this. no time of death expert was called to testify for the defense. why is that? >> it was just, you know, an oversight by the defense team at that time. >> reporter: oversight is being polite. alissa thought inept lawyering had done kim in at every turn. for example, - the issue of her clothing. experts believe the scene was so bloody the murderer would have been spattered with blood. at trial, prosecutors suggested kim may have changed out of bloody clothing and cleaned up. that's why there wasn't a speck of blood on those jeans, shirt, or belt. but alissa says she can prove kim never changed because jeff dills told the cops she was wearing that same outfit when he dropped her off earlier that night. >> she was wearing a black
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it, blue jeans, like low rider blue jeans, i think she had a black belt on. >> he describes exactly what she's wearing. and it matches exactly what she has on that night. in her police interrogation videos that were collected by the police, that were examined for dna. >> reporter: compiling evidence like that to prove kim's wrongful conviction would take years for alissa to build, years kim would never get back. what did you miss most? >> everything. my life. my kid being a nurse, my patients, going places, the desert, everything. ice, or a refrigerator, you miss everything. >> reporter: outside, the innocence project starts making noise, organizing this march.
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sacramento, to draw attention to kim's case and others like it. >> we're doing the 20-miler through camp pendleton. >> we visit her many times. it's very difficult, because i can't bring her home. >> reporter: alissa's first efforts go nowhere, but the long walk to freedom eventually leads all the way up to the california supreme court. and in august, 2015, her motion for a new hearing is finally accept. >> when i got the order which says, we're giving you a hearing merit, i was elated. >> reporter: next, after a lost decade, her 30s and 40s stuck in legal purgatory. judgment day for kim. she takes the stand. what will she make of her last chance? stay with us. like rising co-pays and deductibles... aflac! or help pay the mortgage? or child care? aflaaac!
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>> reporter: the stakes couldn't be higher. elissa bjerkhoel is headed to court for a face-off with lady justice. after seven years, kim long is getting her shot at freedom. what are you thinking going into it? >> i knew we were going to win. i knew the evidence we had was powerful. failure number one. failure to consult a time of death expert, and present that defense. >> reporter: this time, no jury, just judge patrick magers -- who
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trials. >> good morning, ladies and gentlemen. >> reporter: and two desperate mothers packing the court with emotion. kim's mom is cautious but optimistic. >> this is what we've been waiting for. so i believe she will come home. that's a good victory for justice. >> reporter: but over the years, ozzy's family has converted its suspicions about cynthia to absolute certainty that kim is guilty. >> she killed my son. that was my son. that was my child! i have to go to the cemetery and see him in the ground. >> reporter: now, for the third time, kim puts her hand on the bible and swears to tell the whole truth, something kim struggled with. >> what lost this case for the defendant was her credibility. the jury didn't believe her. >> how are you feeling? >> i'm good. >> had you ever threatened to kill ozzy? >> no. >> did he ever threaten to kill you? >> no. >> did you kill ozzy? >> no, i did not kill him.
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fires straight at kim's achilles' heel -- her inconsistencies. her lies about, among other things, hooking up with jeff dills. >> i try to always tell the truth. >> you try to always tell the truth, but you lied to the police about your conduct with mr. dills? >> the, yeah, the sexual conduct? yes. >> reporter: but the defense has an ace to play. that new evidence alissa discovered about the time of ozzy's death and the proof that kim never changed clothes. >> this primarily comes from the jeff dills interview where he wearing. >> and what were you wearing that day? >> i was wearing large sandals, that matched my black belt, blue jeans, a black shirt with ringlets on it that matched my necklace and my purse. >> reporter: and then the bombshell no one saw coming. the prosecution torpedoing its own case. backing away from its core theory that kim long ditched her bloody clothing after killing ozzy. >> she never had any blood on her.
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now. it's not the people's position that she changed her clothing. the people have seen additional evidence here that we weren't aware of before. >> reporter: what's amazing about this is that it seems the perry mason moment didn't come from the defense, it came from the prosecution itself. >> yeah. they, in their closing argument, conceded that she did not change her clothes. if she didn't have blood on her clothes, the only reasonable inference is that she didn't do it. >> reporter: after a seven-year quest to bring kim home, alissa bjerkhoel is so close she can taste it. >> i am feeling pretty good right now. we've done a ton of work on this case. and it's all coming together and wrapping up tomorrow. >> reporter: the next day, in a crowded courtroom, kim hugs the innocence project lawyers as she steels herself for the judgment. >> in the matter of kimberly long -- >> i was, like, squeezing kim's arm or her leg or something every time the judge would say something positive. i think we were both sitting
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>> reporter: translating the legalese. >> when it actually happened, i remember kim being a little confused and being like, wait, what's going on? what happened? >> reporter: the judge continues -- >> the judgment of conviction is vacated and a new trial will be ordered. >> reporter: and you are thinking, "is vacated good or bad?" >> yeah, i didn't even hear it. i just was waiting for that, and that was never said. and then that's when i was like, "what is happening?" i think even the judge laughed. i am like, "what just happened?" >> you're getting a new trial, ms. long. >> okay. >> reporter: alissa, hankie in hand, makes up for any shortage of emotion. >> her room's ready. i've always believed in my heart that she would come home. >> everything we uncovered during the case pointed towards her innocence. and this case also demonstrates just a total failure of the criminal justice system. >> reporter: as a small crowd waits outside while kim posts bail, an innocence project
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>> we are waiting for kim to get out so we got her these shoes, and got her these jeans. >> it was weird, because they brought me clothes. and they had bought me heels. and i am very grateful that they left me in a holding tank for a while, because i had it to walk back and forth. >> reporter: because you hadn't walked in heels in years. >> yes. yeah. >> reporter: ten hours after her moment in court, kim walks out of jail and into the arms of her parents. >> i saw my mom and dad through the glass, and i remember the doors opened - opened, and i went out. and and nobody said anything. like, nobody said anything. like, i was looking at them and they were looking at me. and finally i just threw my hands in the air and i was, "oh, i made it!" i made it! i made it! >> how are you feeling right now? >> just a lot of emotions right now. because i have a lot of gratitude, i'm very humbled by this experience, very humbled.
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hugging and -- god, it's a good feeling. >> reporter: cynthia, ozzy's ex and kim's archenemy, takes the news badly. >> it was like a slap in the face. a slap in the face. when kimberly was released and my son saw it on television he called me and he said mom, he was like, please be careful. she's crazy. she killed my dad and i'm scared she's going to do something to you. >> reporter: kim's ex-husband, joe bugarski, isn't so sure what he thinks anymore. >> my mind is so scrambled from the, from our history that i'm thinking she's capable of doing it, maybe she didn't do it. >> reporter: maybe the evidence doesn't point to her actually doing it, even though you think that she was capable of it. >> right, right, right. but then i think, who did it then? >> reporter: so many questions remain, and coming up, the only
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so i know i'm wearing it, but no one else will. always discreet for bladder leaks >> reporter: there's no playbook on what to do on your second day out of prison. so after beating a wrongful conviction for murder, kim long and her supporters are celebrating with a freedom breakfast. >> i've been watching the internet. or what do you say? >> online? >> yeah, i don't know how to do all of that. >> reporter: she may not be social media savvy, but she's had nearly eight years to dream of reconnecting with the outside world. >> thank you for everything. every day, i knew i was going home, i just didn't know when, i didn't know how long it was going to take. >> she always told me, i'm coming home, mom. >> reporter: aside from spending time with family, it's the simple pleasures she most appreciates. >> there's nobody checking on me every hour, with a light in my
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>> reporter: today she has eight years of sobriety under her belt. that's no small undertaking for the former hellraiser, with the quick temper and a soft spot for hard liquor. in some ways, i guess, prison is a great place to sober up, right? you don't really have the choice. can you drink in prison? >> absolutely. everything is in prison. >> reporter: so, even in prison you had to practice abstinence. >> absolutely. it's a choice, and i chose not to drink and not to use drugs in prison. >> reporter: healthy living now replacing some of those old vices. but so many are haunted by the knowledge that whomever murdered ozzy is still out there. >> one of the tragedies about this case, we may never know who killed the victim in this case. >> reporter: kim tries not to think much about ozzy too much these days. 13 years later, those wounds are still raw. if ozzy could hear you now, what would you say to him?
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i won't answer that. >> reporter: why was that so hard to answer? >> it still hurts to know the last words i said to him were, they weren't loving or kind and it will disturb me for the rest of my life. >> a woman clearly still haunted despite being out of prison, for new. there's still a chance the prosecution will retry her. do you think she's been through enough? let us know on facebook and twitter. >> and next week, that scandal at the university of virginia, with the alleged sexual assault, but did "jackie" make it up?
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next week on "20/20," it's the story you thought you knew. >> it was one of the biggest stories to hit a college campus ever. >> one of the nation's elite universities condemned. >> you took her at your word, and you got burned. c1 in just 30 seconds, the
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