I am a Killer (2018) s02e07 Episode Script

Owning It

I think it's fair to say that I destroyed my family a long time ago.
When I shot my father and even before that.
Then, I think I hurt my family again.
I mean like soul-wrenching pain.
You know, people always want to say, "I'm sorry.
" That doesn't work.
When you ring a bell the bell doesn't unring.
You can't unravel time and go back.
This is a true story.
I'll start it off like that.
I just wanted to rebel, I wanted to cause chaos.
I looked over at him.
We'll see who kills who, huh? I made the choice.
I took his life.
It's something that I never intended to do, I wish I didn't do.
I knew I was gonna get out of that car and murder those two men.
As he kneeled in front of me, all I remember is pulling the trigger.
I'd killed them both.
I'd stabbed them to death.
Uh, my name is Charles Armentrout.
During my younger years, everyone called me Billy.
Hey, this is a true story.
I'll start it off like that.
Uh, I was born in St.
Louis City.
Louis Hospital, August 2nd, 1965.
I wasn't too old when my parents got separated.
Probably six or seven years old, maybe.
I remember my stepdad and my mom getting together.
I think the relationship with my stepfather is where all the anger started appearing.
He didn't physically abuse me so much, as he did verbally and mentally abuse me.
And I think over time that took a toll on me.
When you got an adult all the time telling you you're stupid, you're dumb, that has that plays a factor in your development.
And I think that's where all the negative behavior started coming from.
When I was 18, me and my stepdad were not getting along at all to the point of almost physical blows between the two of us.
And my father called me and he said, "You're 18, you can come live with me and your mother can't say anything.
" So I moved in with my father.
At first it was fine, but now that I look back on it, I was not making the right choices.
I was just in a bad place.
I wanted to be the bad guy.
I started robbing gas stations.
After I robbed my first gas station, I seen it was easy, so I robbed another.
Uh, that robbery turned into another robbery.
I was a loose cannon.
The thrill was intense.
I can remember vividly a very prominent point and I was talking to myself, I was having a conversation with myself.
And I said, "If you keep doing this, if you keep going down this road, you're going to end up dying or messing up really bad.
You've got to stop.
" And I said to myself, "Screw it.
" From that point on, it got worse.
I started stealing money from my father.
He caught me writing checks on his account and he got really pissed.
I thought he was going to kick me out of the house.
And I was worried that I would have to go back to my stepfather.
And I knew my stepfather was going to be on me.
I couldn't I couldn't do it.
I felt like I was in a corner.
And I didn't have no way out.
Yeah, I had some type of insanity at that point in time.
I waited for my father to come home.
We have a door up the stairs and I was on the other side of the door.
When he reached for the doorknob, I started to fire.
I forget exactly how many times I hit him.
I think six, maybe seven, out of nine shots.
Uh I ambushed him.
He didn't do anything wrong to me.
'Cause he really didn't.
I didn't care.
I cared about me.
Man, I was a monster.
The police wanted him to prosecute, but he didn't want to prosecute me.
He thought I was he thought I was insane.
During the hours after my father was shot, the police department's realized that I had robbed several gas stations.
I was arrested for that, charged and sentenced several months later to 19 years.
I served ten of that in the Department of Corrections.
When I was released at 28, the only person that was prepared to accept me on parole, because I had to have a place to parole to, was my grandmother.
Inez Notter.
My father's mother.
She was a firecracker.
She was small in stature.
She had a big heart.
Uh And ultimately, she forgave me for shooting her son.
Absolutely incredible.
The neighborhood was the Bevo Mill area, in South St.
It was a good neighborhood.
But at that time, I was hanging around the wrong people, wanting to be the life of the party, the big shot.
Uh, Roger Brannan was he was weird, but he was cool.
We'd hang out at his house, smoke weed, party.
Rick Lacey was different than Roger Brannan.
Rick Lacey was a guy's guy.
He was a dope fiend.
He was a petty criminal.
And we just hung out, we did drugs, all the time, 24/7.
I started hanging around with this one girl.
And she introduced me to cocaine.
And once I started, it just bit me and I couldn't shake it.
I would ask my grandmother for money.
And she would give me money.
And then, she started not giving me money.
So I stole checks and started writing checks on her account, and stealing money.
Uh, she found out about it, confronted me with it, and I was like, "I'm sorry, Grandma.
I'm I didn't mean it.
I'll pay it back.
" And about a week later, my car got impounded.
I didn't have no money.
And I went home to my grandmother's house and tried to get some money.
And she refused.
The only way I thought I could get some money was to rob her.
Uh Beat her up.
This is pretty gruesome, but it went from robbing to when I first swung the bat.
Then I knew I had to kill her.
I followed her in her bedroom and I started beating her with the bat.
I beat her until she was unconscious, tied her up and laid her on the bed, rifled the drawers, found some money, left.
Yeah that's what I did, and I killed her.
I came back the next day took the body and hid it in a trunk in the basement and tried to clean up the scene.
We began the manhunt for Billy Armentrout.
He was the primary suspect in this, so 100% of our effort went to finding him.
I'm Bill McDonough, and I was one of the original detectives assigned to the case.
We found out that Billy had tried to cash one of his grandmother's checks that day and was turned away from the bank.
Which is a good, fresh trail.
Everybody involved had informants that were familiar with the streets.
And so everybody everybody contacted their folks and put it out there that we were looking for him, and we got a call and I just remember them saying, "Hey, he's spotted at Ricky Lacey's house," gave the address and we jumped in our cars and drove down there as fast as we could.
And while we're en route, we announce on the radio that we're gonna take the back, um because the bad guy always goes out the back.
I was right on the nose, 3436.
That's it.
First floor.
Homicide pulled up to the front and out of the back window, um, came Billy Armentrout as like a gift from God, dropped right at my feet and um, we fought for a little bit and I got him under control and put in custody and, uh, that was it.
Billy was in custody.
I got transferred to the bureau, and then, um, I got immediately assigned with Rubin and, um We hit we hit the ground running.
Um, back in the '90s, we had the, uh, crack wars and, uh, they were getting 200-plus murders in the city a year.
Actually, after we captured Billy, we start talking and this gave me an idea of of really how bad the crack monster had him when he said, "Is this about my grandma?" And we said, "Yeah, it's about your grandma.
" And he goes, "If if if you let me smoke crack one more time, I'll tell you anything you wanna know.
" And, you know, I was I was floored at that, offended.
And I just said, "Billy, you know, it's gonna hit you, eventually, what just happened here, that you killed your grandma over this over this thing that you want one more, uh one more hit of.
That's not happening.
" You have the right to remain silent.
- Do you understand that? - Yes.
Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
- Do you understand that? - Yes.
Tell us what happened Saturday morning.
Starting with the time that you woke up.
Well, Rick came over.
Rick who? Uh Lacey.
Rick Lacey came over banging on the door.
I said, "Rick, what's going on?" We kinda talk, try to figure out how to get some money.
And I said, "Well, we'll go over Grandma's and try to pull a scheme on her.
" And, you know, Rick said, "Well, what if I knock her out?" So I went in my bedroom, got my little Cardinal bat off my dresser.
Took it back in and gave it to Rick.
So Rick followed her in the bedroom and I heard a commotion.
And Rick said, "Billy, Billy.
You gotta get out of here.
You gotta go.
" Me and Rick left.
- Why didn't you throw the bat away? - Rick said to throw it in the river.
I knew that wasn't no good.
- Anybody else know you were there? - Rick.
Rick went to get some heroin I went over to Rick, came in and got high He wasn't all that difficult to interview.
He kept on lying about it, kept on saying Ricky Lacey did what he did.
When you say Rick Lacey assaulted your grandma with that baseball bat, was just that bat used or was there anything else used? Just the bat, to my knowledge.
We were quite confident that Ricky Lacey had nothing to do with it.
Uh, Ricky Lacey said he had never been to Billy Armentrout's grandma's house.
We found no physical evidence there, fingerprints There was just nothing there.
You know, you have a guy that is smoking crack.
He is just a a tsunami walking through the neighborhood and anything that he sees, he's gonna take either by deceptive means or by violence.
Billy crossed into a whole different realm when he murdered his grandma.
He beat an 81-year-old woman who didn't weigh 100 pounds.
He'll probably do this again, but he's going to pick on the, uh on the most vulnerable.
I think he's evil, but I think he's a coward too.
What do I think about Billy Armentrout? I think he's sick and disgusting for what he did to his own grandma.
She did everything for him and this is how she gets repaid.
He does not need to be let go on these streets ever again.
My name is Roger Brannan, and I'm from St.
Louis, Missouri.
Well, I was friends with Billy Armentrout and Rick Lacey back in the day.
It was kind of like, I guess you could call it my my wild days.
That's what it was.
It was mostly partying.
You know, I, uh I did my drugs, which was weed, marijuana.
Never done none of that other stuff.
You know, the crack or or heroin, but they all did.
They hung down there at Rick's house.
Wherever they could do their drugs, that's what they did.
When I first found out what was going on, as in the murder, I was arrested for trying to cash a check for Billy.
I was sleeping and they came and knocked on my door and it turns out that there was at least 20 of them.
They took me to the police station, and when they said murder, I told 'em anything that they wanted to hear, you know, 'cause I wasn't gonna you know, I wasn't gonna go to jail for something that somebody else did.
You know? It scared me, really.
I always thought that it was just Billy that did it.
That thought of Rick Lacey helping Billy murder his grandma, that thought didn't even come to my mind.
You know? The only time that it did come to my mind is when it came out of Billy's mouth.
He was trying to blame it on somebody else and he picked Rick Lacey.
I think that someone like Billy Armentrout who had been living a life of lying to get drugs and lying to get out of trouble, to lie and go to court and say he didn't do something was just a continuation of the behavior that he had been doing before.
My name is Chris Slusher.
I'm an attorney here in Columbia, Missouri, and I've been a criminal defense attorney for 25 years.
Billy Armentrout, I remember, wanted to represent himself from the beginning.
We had what I would call a hybrid role in the case.
Initially, we were appointed to be what would be termed standby counsel.
Um, essentially you're there, you're following things, and if he needs you, you're there to then jump in.
So Rick followed her in the bedroom.
I do remember Mr.
Armentrout's claim that Mr.
Lacey was the primary one who delivered the blows that caused the death of his grandmother.
Whatever, he hollered at me.
The State did not believe Mr.
Armentrout's representations about the role of Ricky Lacey, and that they felt that Mr.
Armentrout was the only one responsible.
In my experience in representing people in these cases, there is, in many of them, a fundamental fear of admitting their guilt because they recognize what they have done is so terrible.
And so it's this conflict within them that makes them not want to admit it.
They have to evolve to the point where they can accept their own responsibility and in my interaction with Mr.
Armentrout, during the trial phase, I didn't see that because he wasn't there yet.
Billy was always claiming innocence about his crime.
He stood on the fact that he was innocent and that he didn't commit this crime and that he got a raw deal.
I think that was a lot of where his bitterness came from.
I could relate to him, his his anger with the system, or his frustration with trying to prove his innocence.
My name is Randall Bernard Knese.
I go by Randy.
I came to Potosi Correctional Center in 1997, and I got to know Billy Armentrout, lived in the same wing with him and got to be good friends with him.
In the Missouri corrections system, they have a class called "Impact of Crime on Victims Class" or, as we call it, "ICVC".
At the end of it, they have what's called a victims' panel, when they told their stories about how their loved one was murdered.
It was very, um It left you in a state where you couldn't hide no more.
Where you where you were like, "Damn, you know, I did that to somebody.
" And this is the way their family feels.
And I don't know what it was for Billy that was changing him, but there was a change going on and he never really spoke it to me.
Then, one day, he said that he was going to sign up for ICVC.
I was like, "I'm going to be a part of this class, 'cause I'm gonna try to get the truth out of him.
" Can Billy become a different guy than the man that was a part of killing his grandmother? Can he become no longer the guy that committed his crime? Something in that ICVC class got to him, brought him to that place where he had that epiphany moment where he shocked us all.
I was doing ICVC.
Several of the inmates were people that I were close with, that knew me, and then when Randy Knese did the last chapter, which is homicide and he talked about his crime and then we went around the room I finally said, "I murdered my grandmother.
" To absolute astonishment of everybody in the room.
I said her name was Inez Notter.
And I beat her to death with a baseball bat.
And when I said that, all of the people that were on that panel had an understanding that for once in my life, I took ownership of my choices.
It wasn't that I didn't know I did it.
It was that it was so painful that I couldn't acknowledge doing it, uh, in any meaningful way.
I am sorry.
But how do I express it? I can't.
However I can be a better person and a different person.
Someone so much so different that they wouldn't recognize my actions, my thoughts or the way I conduct myself.
He's admitting that that he did it.
After all these years Wow.
And he he knows what he did wrong.
He knows exactly what he did wrong.
And you want to know what? For some odd reason, I believe him.
I sure do.
I kind of feel sorry for the guy.
But he did wrong.
And he has to pay for what he did.
That's all I can say.
I mean That's all I can say.
I didn't know that I was going to shed a tear about this crap.
And, uh I really do wish him happiness, if if if possible, in the penitentiary.
I mean, I know he he was a bad guy.
He says he's changed.
But changing is not gonna get you out.
Changing is not going to bring your grandma back.
You know, people always want to say, "I'm sorry.
" That doesn't work.
When you ring a bell, the bell doesn't unring.
You can't unravel time and go back.
I think it's fair to say that I destroyed my family a long time ago.
When I shot my father and even before that.
Billy had called me from prison, and he was trying to reach out, I guess.
I I mean, we had a nice conversation, but that was the last time that I even spoke to Billy.
I've gotten a couple Christmas cards over the past couple of years, and I haven't returned them and it's kind of weighed on me.
I laughed when I saw this one, because he has a funny face.
My name is Mary Eberhardt and I knew Billy from when I was married to his father, Bill.
My name is Wendy, I'm Mary's daughter.
I looked forward to the weekends when Billy would come over 'cause I could get into mischief with a partner in crime, so to speak.
It was fun.
I enjoyed Billy.
When I first met Billy, he was five and he was just a sweet little boy.
All he wanted to do was be with his father.
He just wanted to please him.
He wanted to please him.
He looked for the weekends to be with his dad.
But then, when he got to be with his dad, it was bad, bad, bad.
His father, a vicious man, didn't think twice about hurting anybody, not just my mom, because she's a woman and she's, you know, not as strong as him, but I think Bill would have gone and attacked anybody that crossed him.
I'd seen so much of Bill hitting Billy, you know, for just trivial little things.
I never saw Billy get any compassion or any sort of nurturing.
I don't know that he had that in his life, and I think maybe that just hardens you.
Several years had gone by and I hadn't seen Billy, um, in quite some time, and I just remembered him as my my big brother.
And then he did come back into our lives, but it wasn't the same big brother that I felt comfortable around.
He came in and visited for a while.
It wasn't until after that visit that I noticed that we Things started to Disappear.
- And he was breaking in.
- The door was off the hinges, the apartment was just completely vandalized.
It wasn't just a burglary.
It was anger lashed out.
Then the big one was after that and that's when Billy was standing there behind the door and he showed me that he had a gun.
He put it on my face, so that I could feel it was cold.
It was real.
It was obvious he was capable of doing scary things.
And then we moved after that.
I didn't see Billy again for, like, three or four years and that was when his father had called and said that Billy had shot him.
He said, "The little bastard.
" Excuse me, but that's what he said, "He thought he killed me.
" We don't know whether he committed suicide or whether it was accidental, because he was found in his truck, inside of his garage.
And he had been drinking.
This happened, like, four months after Billy had shot him, and he just went downhill from that.
He just drank and drank and drank.
And I think inside of his mind, he more or less felt he deserved to be shot, the way he treated Billy.
Yeah, my dad was a hard man.
To say that my dad was worse than any other bad dad Okay, maybe he was.
Maybe that's the only way he knew.
Did I see him be abusive to my stepmother? Yes.
Was he abusive to me? Sure.
Could that have been the reason that I shot him? It probably is in that ball.
But you have to understand that it's just not one solitary thing.
It's a culmination of things.
The reason for not being honest about the murder of my grandmother, it has multiple layers.
I think the first and foremost layer is denial, on my part, that I could have done such a such an act to someone who loved me.
I think the second layer is that I didn't want to face that.
Uh I didn't want to accept it.
I wanted to blame everybody else.
My mental psychology was such that there were times when reality and fantasy started to blend.
To a point where I wouldn't even acknowledge it to myself in my thoughts.
I buried the feelings so deep that there were times when I was actually convinced that Rick did it.
I had never had an opportunity to contact Rick.
To let him know that I had stopped blaming him and taken responsibility for the murder of my grandmother.
When learning that he passed once again, it's, you know, another layer of pain that I didn't get a chance to tell him, "Hey, man, I'm sorry.
I didn't mean to do that.
But I did.
" Uh, my family contact is limited to very few.
My fault.
I've caused them so much pain, I can't expect them to forgive me on any level.
The only people that I have been in contact with and were in contact with was my Uncle Bobby Wacker That was up until his death.
And my stepsister Wendy, and my stepmother Mary.
And then we just fell off a little bit.
Well, after one of my interviews with the team, I got an email from my sister.
I hadn't heard from her since 2009.
And I believe she's coming up to see me today.
It'll be the first time I've seen her since we were young.
And I always missed communicating with her.
Because those childhood memories are some of the best that I've got.
It was the highlight of my life to visit my dad on the weekends and spend time with my sister.
I've been dishonorable for most of my existence.
I will not be dishonorable anymore.
I will be honorable in every action that I do.
If you're truly remorseful, and you truly recognize the devastation that you caused by taking another person's life, I think you can move on from it.
Apologize, make amends.
Mean it.
Own it.

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