I am a Killer (2018) s01e09 Episode Script

James Robertson

Every once in a while, I'll think about, you know, how my life would have been if not for this.
At times, I believe, I deserve forgiveness.
That I'm redeemable.
I am very, very sorry for what happened.
And I wish that I could take it back.
What I did, it's not who I am.
How could I do something like that? [man 1.]
And I walked up, I fired one shot.
And as I got closer, I fired one more shot.
[man 2.]
She was shot through the cheek and it stopped in her jaw.
[man 3.]
I drove him around behind a desk and I stabbed him approximately 25 times.
[man 4.]
I couldn't believe it.
I just thought I can't believe I just killed somebody.
[man 5.]
I don't feel bad about it.
[man 6.]
I started stabbing him, stabbing the guy on the couch.
My name is Joshua David Nelson.
I'm 40 years old and I'm on death row.
I've been here 20 years.
And I was 18 and, like, two months when I caught this case.
My earliest memories were of my father as an alcoholic.
I was probably four or five, maybe even younger.
As soon as he came in, my mom was waiting on him and it would start.
They would argue, and it would fill the trailer.
And I I would run to my room and hide out in my room, uh, crying, as I knew what was happening.
He was beating on her.
And I couldn't help her, but I was also terrified that I was next.
I was probably seven when it happened, when they eventually got, uh, a divorce.
And then I thought it was gonna get a lot better, 'cause it's just me and my mom.
But it didn't get better.
[birds chirping.]
We came down to Florida.
Within a year, I got, like, arrested four or five times.
And it was multiple car thefts and breaking-and-enterings.
I was doing drugs.
I experimented with marijuana, alcohol, you know, hard alcohol, beer, uh, some roofies.
I even huffed gasoline a couple of times.
When the courts heard that, they suggested that I go to a drug rehab.
I just showed up one day, they just dropped me down in one of those places, and there's ten other boys your age there, and they're all there, more than likely, for the same reason.
And me and Keith, we just gravitated towards each other, I guess, and started talking.
Became fast friends, really good friends.
And the friendship built the longer we spent in that rehab.
We became friends on the streets.
Went to the same high school and hung out pretty much every day.
Me and Keith started dating two sisters, and Tina was the youngest sister and she started dating Keith.
That's how we all came together.
Tommy was brought in to our group by another friend of ours.
He just rolled up on us in his car one time, Tommy did, and I didn't really have much interaction with him at first.
He seemed like, uh, a decent person.
And, you know, he was a little bit older than us, and we just started hanging out.
When me and Keith was in that rehab together, we would escape the reality of our situation by fantasizing about, yeah, when we get out, we would do all these things, you know, commit crimes and we would, you know, better our lives, we would get away from all these things.
Fast forward to that day, I don't remember exactly how that came up, but it came up.
We said we could kill Tommy.
We could take his car, take his money and do whatever we wanted to do.
Be on our own.
At first, I thought it was just blowing off steam, at first.
I gave it no mind.
I didn't think that it was really gonna happen.
I wasn't, you know, in essence, planning it out as you would, uh You know, meticulously planning it out, I wasn't doing that.
Neither was Keith.
We called him.
He came over, picked us up.
We drove around.
Keith said, "You know, um, we gotta get some money.
" So he's like, "Okay.
" And Keith says, "Well, if we give you some of that money, will you take us to the rendezvous point so we can pick the money up?" He was like, "Yeah.
I'll take you there.
I'll help.
" [Nelson.]
I still don't have the feeling like, that's a done deal that's gonna happen, we're gonna kill him.
So, we drive out to this abandoned area, this undeveloped area in Cape Coral.
We tell him, you know, uh we're gonna "wait for them," wait for them to come and give us money.
So we get out the car.
Baseball bat came from Tommy.
He carried it around in the back of his car.
He said for protection.
So, when I got out, I used that as a premise.
We're standing out in the dark in the middle of nowhere, I'm gonna have this bat just in case somebody comes out of the woods.
Me and Keith are outside and we're kind of talking about what's gonna happen.
I say, 'I'll hit him first.
If I knock him out, you gotta finish him off.
" "You gotta kill him.
" Then we talk about, "How are we gonna get him out the car?" We knew how much he valued that car.
He loved that car.
Keith had the box cutter.
We cut the bumper with the cutter and told him, "Hey, when you was driving back here, you must've hit something or something happened, and there's a cut on this bumper.
" He got out.
He looked at the bumper.
I felt, like, this rush of adrenaline.
I was trying to get myself to do it.
And I just couldn't do it.
And then I just stepped past that that part of me that wasn't allowing me to do that and I hit him with the baseball bat.
He fell down.
And then I tried to hit him again.
And then I hit I definitely hit him, and he's and he was just crying and scream not screaming, but like, you know, moaning and saying, "Stop.
" You know, "Stop, stop.
Please stop.
Please stop.
" Begging.
And then he said he that's when he said, "Take the car.
Take the car, take the money.
" And we kind of walked off to the side and said, you know, "Is that a possibility?" Kind of talked amongst ourselves and said, "That's not that's never You know, we're gonna get in trouble for this.
" Keith says, "We had that agreement.
" If I'd knock him out, he would finish him.
So, I hit him with the bat.
I hit him again with the bat.
And he stopped making noise.
He stopped begging, he stopped talking.
And Keith pulled out one of his shoestrings from his shoes and tied him up.
I said, "Keith, you know, it's on you.
He's out.
" That's when Tommy said, "I'm not out! I'm not out!" And then I walked over there and I hit him with the bat several more times.
Really hard.
Everything that I had dealt with my entire life came out at that moment and all those feelings, all that anger, and It just It just it just all happened in that moment and He didn't make he wasn't he was out then, 'cause he didn't he didn't say anything else, he didn't he didn't resist.
And then Keith went over there and started cutting his throat with a box cutter.
We drug him to an area with more, like, shrubs and ground cover, I guess you would say, instead of just next to a road.
We took a big piece of wood and put it over him.
And when we drove off, we threw the bat in the water and the razor away.
We got rid of the clothes we were wearing because we were covered in blood.
[voice altered.]
My sister had met Josh through McDonalds 'cause he was working there.
I met Keith through Josh, and shortly after, we started dating.
All of us had problems in our families.
And we had all been talking for quite some time about wanting to run away together.
And our biggest problem was how any of us were gonna go anywhere.
And Keith and Josh had said, "You know, don't worry about it," that they would get a car.
That particular day, they had called and said, "We're leaving tonight.
" We said okay.
So we just waited around for the phone call to leave our house and walk down the street to be picked up.
As soon as we seen Tommy's car, we knew something was wrong.
We didn't know if they had, somehow, convinced Tommy to give up his car or what was going on.
They were both very quiet, and we asked, "Where's Tommy?" And Keith responded with, "We killed him.
" [woman.]
This is a picture of Tommy when he was about 18.
And this is Tommy when he worked at Winn-Dixie.
He was about 16 then.
And, um, this here was the last picture taken.
That's, uh, Tommy.
That was the Thursday night before he died, and my sister.
That was the car, the Ford Probe that they wanted.
I took the picture of him and my sister.
He was tickling her ribs.
And then the following night is when he he got killed.
So I know that was the last picture taken of him.
Tommy was a very happy, energetic person.
He liked cars, installing stereos.
Always on the go, liked to make friends.
Um, I don't think he had any enemies.
Never drank, smoked.
Couldn't find a better person.
He was going to community college.
He'd just started taking up criminal law.
He wanted to be a cop.
And he said, "I'll buy a duplex.
" And he'll live in one end with his family and I'll live in the other end.
And he was gonna have his Lamborghini in the driveway.
I said, "Okay.
" Sounded fine at the time.
We didn't know at first what what had happened.
We never thought it would turn to this.
Um, we had gone to Josh's house, talked to his stepfather.
And we went to the high school, we were talking to friends.
They assumed they all went to Fort Lauderdale.
We thought the worst thing was that, being he was not a drug user, they got him on some kind of drug and he's just forgetting to call home.
That was about the worst thing we thought.
But it took 11 days before we knew what had happened.
They did the positive ID's through the dental records because of the decomposition.
Eleven days in a field, in Florida, in the heat.
He should have been able to do everything that he was gonna do.
And he didn't get to do it.
All over a stupid car.
I mean, all I have to do is think about it, and I start crying like a little baby.
[sniffs, clicks tongue.]
And believe me, I'm pissed.
He's lived all this time as my family dies.
Coming from a peaceful hippie, this is saying a lot.
But I ain't that peaceful.
Peace, love and happiness forever, until you brutally murder my brother.
I will dedicate my life.
I will dedicate my life! They will wish they never They're better off where they're at because they will not wanna meet me when they get out.
This is, uh, Tommy's dad.
He died on December 4th of '04.
And, um, yeah, he was hoping he he could be there at the execution.
He was gonna eat popcorn in the front row.
That was his what he said to the reporters back then.
But as he got sicker and sicker, you know, we knew he wasn't gonna be there.
It's just, you know, 22 years is a long time to wait, you know? And he's definitely should have been put to death a long time ago.
In their minds, they had a reason.
They planned.
But thinking back, no, there was there was absolutely no reason.
Tommy was trying to just tell them, "Take the car, take the car.
" You know, he knew they were killing him.
But they continued.
They made the decision to kill him.
They could have just taken the car and left.
But they made the wrong choice.
And now they're paying for it.
And one's gonna pay with his life.
When I was 19, I was married to Peggy, and she is the mother of Heather, our daughter.
And Peggy is also the mother of Josh Nelson.
I think I was divorced at 21.
And, uh Josh came along about three years later.
I can remember, uh, as Heather was six months old feeling just concerned on a bigger level as to the maternal care that Peggy was able to give to her.
I can remember I could hear Heather crying in the back of the house.
And I might go and check on Heather, and she'd quiet down.
And then, uh, once Peggy got up and I heard her go to the back of the trailer, and the crying stopped quite suddenly, to a point that I was just conscious of it.
It just seemed different.
And I got up to walk back just to see what was going on.
And as I went into the room, Peggy stepped back from Heather, the baby, and had a pillow in her hand.
And it appeared as if Peggy was holding the pillow over Heather's face.
When she stepped back, Heather started crying again.
And I couldn't see it directly, but it just, it felt very much, to me, as if that's what was going on.
And I questioned Peggy about it.
And she denied it.
She said she was just, you know, she was just trying to comfort Heather.
Um, and there were there were a few incidents similar to that.
When I did get custody of Heather, I can remember asking Heather, "Is this something that you want?" Because, you know, you don't know for sure how kids feel about this.
And I can remember Heather saying, well, yes, she did want to come to Michigan and stay with me, but she was very concerned about Josh.
She said, "I don't wanna leave Josh there by himself.
" [Heather.]
My mom was not nurturing.
I would say that she did not have the mothering ability.
I think that there was just a void inside of her that she wasn't able to be the mother that myself and Josh needed, that children are supposed to have.
Alan, Josh's dad the alcoholic part, I think, is what defined him, 'cause I know that he was physically abusive to Josh.
I mean, he spanked him a lot.
Um, he yelled at him a lot.
Um but I guess I don't know how much of that went on more when I wasn't there, than when I was visiting.
You know, if that's one of those things that people, behind closed doors I don't know.
It's kind of hard now.
I think that that kind of an environment destroyed Josh.
He was never given the values, the morals.
I don't think he was ever taught how to love.
Um, and when you don't have that, you can't give that.
And you can't, um There's just nothing at Like I said, I mean, I just don't think that he ever had a chance.
When they moved to Florida, in, like, 1991, that kind of cut off any communication or ties to family.
I found out about the sexual abuse that was going on with him and Greg, his stepdad, during the trial.
I mean, I had no idea.
From what I read in the reports, Greg sexually abusing Josh was a daily thing, a weekly thing.
It was not a every-once-in-a-while thing.
It was It was From the way that the reports read, it was almost that was his entire life.
[Nelson on recording.]
It first started where I would be in the shower and he would come in there and sit down on the toilet.
And, you know, obviously, I knew something was not right about that.
Eventually, one night, he came into my room and he started touching me in my private my penis, and I would try to roll away.
And he was persistent.
And then I would try and roll, I I acted like I was asleep.
I acted like it wasn't existing.
I mean, it wasn't happening.
It couldn't be happening.
And I sunk deeper inside myself, and, eventually, I got an erection.
I was young and my body responded.
And then he would perform oral sex on me.
When he would do that, I can't describe what I've I can't describe what I felt.
I felt nothing.
I felt absolutely nothing.
And like I said, I just sunk deeper inside of myself, running away from myself.
Eventually, I got up the courage to tell my mom after it had been happening for six six months, a year.
I sat her down and I looked at her and I said, "Mom, this is what he's doing to me.
" And she called him into the room and he acknowledged it.
He said he thought that I liked it, that's why he was doing it.
And she told him that if he ever did it again, that she would kill him.
And I'm sitting there thinking the whole time, "If he ever does it again?" What about the times he did it, you know? What about all those times that he did it? [sniffles.]
I find it hard to believe that an innocent child is sitting in death row.
And there is no accountability for the people who have put him where he is.
I mean, I wish that I could have saved him.
I wish that somebody would have just saved him.
Because nobody deserves that.
There were so many people who could have saved him.
Adults who should have stepped in.
Whether when he was 2 or 12, nobody had his back.
And I'm sorry that I didn't.
[Nelson on recording.]
It made him stop for a little while, maybe a month or two, maybe three months.
But yeah, it didn't stop.
Yeah, he approached me again.
By this time, I was 18, and I felt like I wasn't gonna let it happen anymore.
And he didn't react, but he's like, "You know, you need to come with me.
We need to go talk to your mom.
" I was like, "Yeah.
Let's go talk to my mom.
" So but he manipulated the situation where he wanted me to wait out in the car, and while he went in and talked to my mom.
So, in hindsight, who knows? I just I was just trusting for whatever reason, I don't know.
I just trusted those, and you know, in that position, I guess, like an authority figure.
I just trusted him.
And he went in, talked to my mom, and she came out livid, pissed.
Told me to give her my key.
And I was out.
I had to get out.
And I had no job.
I had no money.
I had to get my clothes and get get out.
So, I was like, "All right.
Well, what can I do?" [Tina.]
One night, my sister and I went to Josh's house to see Keith and Josh, and Keith was not there.
I was going to walk to a pay phone to call Keith.
And Tommy was there that night and he said that I could use the phone in his car.
When we got into his car, he told me that we would have to drive up the road to where he could get service in order for me to make a call.
And I agreed.
Instead, he drove me to a remote area where no one else was around and proceeded to sexually assault me.
And I had no intention of saying anything, but my sister could tell there was something wrong with me.
As soon as I told her, she told Josh everything that happened.
Of course, Josh was furious.
At first, Tommy denied everything, but later on, finally admitted what he had done.
When I first found out what happened, I was glad Tommy was gone.
That was my initial thought and I would never have to deal with him again.
The guilt came afterwards.
Not that I felt they did what they did simply because of what Tommy did to me.
I knew they both had problems in their own lives.
But I felt that telling them what had happened to me was the straw that broke the camel's back.
A lot of lives were lost that night.
Not just Tommy's.
A lot of people were hurt, a lot of people were destroyed.
Josh, Keith, the entire Owens family.
Nobody will ever be the same after that night.
Josh will always have a very special place in my heart.
He's a good-hearted person.
He was a scared kid.
He had a lot of damage done to him in his life.
And it came out in a terrible way.
It could have happened.
We don't know.
Well, I don't think it's relevant.
They, um, mentioned that at trial.
They were all friends and, um, there was no forcing or rape.
It just wasn't talked about except brought up that one time, and that was the end of it.
They planned it, premeditated.
They wanted his car and they killed him.
To lure somebody into the woods, to lure them out of their own car, and to beat them with a baseball bat and slice his throat, and he's begging for his life and saying, "Take the car.
" And they still, "No we're gonna kill you.
" And they did.
And what did what did they gain? They're in prison and my son's gone.
So, no, I I wouldn't forgive them.
I hope they burn in hell.
[Nelson on recording.]
I still can't fully emotionally feel and understand and comprehend what I did that night.
How could I how could I do something like that? How could I, especially after being a victim my whole life, being other people's victim, that I would go out and just brutally victimize somebody like that? Because, I mean, I'm I'm totally responsible for that.
No one else is responsible for that.
I did that.
And I wanna take it back, so bad.
I wanna remove that pain that I caused from everybody.
I wanna bring him back to life, but I can't.
I don't know how [quavering.]
I don't know how to make amends.
I don't know how to apologize.
I don't know how I don't know what you know, I don't know what to say.
So, he takes responsibility enough, but that's more or less all he said, that he he's had all these years to think about that he is responsible for what happened.
But I don't feel any different towards him.
'Cause of that statement, it's not like I should forgive him.
I think it's the words he needs to say right now 'cause he knows his execution date is getting closer.
And he'll say anything to, you know, to get some sympathy.
But at the time, he didn't say nothing.
He actually made a face at us leaving the courtroom.
And that was brought up at trial, that he gave us a smirk.
The only thing he was sorry for was getting caught.
I-I don't recall that, but I would never smirk at them about something like that.
I might have smirked about something that someone was saying on the stand or something that I didn't agree with, and But even at that time, I wouldn't do that [stammers.]
at them.
[Tina on recording.]
Not that I felt they did what they did simply because of what Tommy did to me.
I felt that telling them what had happened to me was the straw that broke the camel's back.
I don't that's a hard, you know, that's a hard question to answer because, you know, uh, I think things happen You know, there are a series of things that happen that leads up to something.
I don't think that that was the defining factor of killing him.
But that was definitely a factor that that made him not so innocent, you know, to me.
You can't really hide from yourself, you know, when you're stuck in a cell all by yourself.
That's helped me.
That's helped me to change, to help me to examine who I really am and not who I am because of what I went through.
I'm more in touch with my feelings, in touch with that side of myself and more Yeah, I'm not angry, I'm not in pain, I'm Or those things don't dominate my life, you know? Sometimes, I think I deserve to die because, you know, that's what our society believes.
That's the, you know, that's that's the price you pay when you commit murder, sometimes.
But at the same time, I don't feel like that I deserve to die either because, you know, [stammers.]
the death penalty, they say, is reserved for worst of the worst.
But am I worst of the worst? I know you can't look at me without seeing that what I've done.
But I would just hope that people could look at me and see, not forgetting about that, but seeing me as more than that.
And I I know that's extremely hard for people to do.
I understand that, and and I just wanna you know, I just wanna be seen for all that I am, not that [stammers.]
that moment.
That one un you know, unbelievable, terrible, horrific decision.
I'm more than that, and Yeah, that was one of the motivators for doing this, is I want I know that it's probably not gonna matter much, but I want people to know that, that that it's not so simple.
It's not that clear cut.
It's you know? I'm not an animal that needs to be put you know, put down.

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