Produced by Sarah Prior, Paul LaRosa and Dena Goldstein
When the police were called to Mike and Sue Reuschel’s upscale home in Gainesville, Florida, early in the morning of February 3, 2018, they found the couple was stabbed and bleeding.
Mike told the police that an intruder had sneaked into her house and attacked her. But when Sue woke up from the operation because she was life-threatening in juries, she told the police another story – she said Mike was her real attacker.
The motif? Prosecutors say Sue told Mike that she wanted a divorce that night, and he tried to kill her to avoid having to share his multi-million dollar fortune with her.
“In this case, it̵
Mike and his defense claim Sue is an abusive woman who often clashed with Mike over his daughter Caroline – and Caroline’s expensive wedding only made matters worse.
“There is no way on God’s green earth that my father … would stab someone,” says Caroline Reuschel. “I would never think that in a million yearsfor all of that. “
So what really happened that night?
Peter Van Sant: Where have you been and how did you find out that your father was arrested on February 3, 2018?
Caroline Reuschel: I was in Chicago with my husband. And I got … an incoming call on my cell phone and it was a record that said, “An inmate from Alachua County prison called you.”
Minutes later the phone rang again. Caroline Reuschel replied quickly and heard the voice she had known all her life.
Caroline Reuschel: And he said: “Caroline … you have to get me out of here … you have to call my lawyer.” And I dropped on the sidewalk [crying] and I just sat on the sidewalk.
The events that led to Mike Reuschel’s arrest began to relax very early in the morning after he called the police.
911 OPERATOR: Tell me exactly what happened?
MIKE REUSCHEL: I don’t know. Someone is in the house and next I wake up next to my wife and bleed.
Mike reported that he and his wife Sue had been stabbed to death by an intruder at their home in an upscale part of Gainesville.
OFFICER: So you fight the subject and then it just ran away, you managed to scare it off.
MIKE REUSCHEL: Yes, I think.
Sue’s injuries were life-threatening and when paramedics rushed to rescue her, Detective David Visconti was called to the scene.
Det. David Visconti | Alachua County Sheriff’s Office: [driving with Peter Van Sant]: There was no forced entry that was originally observed by one of our deputies.
Peter Van Sant: No broken window, no torn door. Nothing like that?
Det.David Visconti: No sir.
Still, Visconti had no doubt that something terrible had happened in this house.
Det.David Visconti: There was definitely a fight … There was a large amount of blood around the bed that was on the wall of the bedroom …
But overall the scene was missing something, Visconti said, and he didn’t think there had been a violent intruder there.
Det.David Visconti: Usually we will see many things – knocked over, furniture, broken objects, recesses in the walls, in the drywall.
Peter Van Sant: Did you see any of it?
Det.David Visconti: None of these things existed.
In addition, the Reuschels had surveillance cameras that covered the outside of the house.
Det.David Visconti: The intruder who allegedly fled the house from this direction would have been captured on video.
The experienced detective became suspicious. Then, hours later, Sue woke up from the operation and opened this case wide open – telling the detectives that the story of an intruder attacking her was a lie. She claimed that Mike invented the whole thing and that he was her real attacker. Mike was arrested and charged with attempted murder.
Didi Hoffman: … He could never have done anything like that.
Mike’s ex-wife Didi Hoffman was incredulous.
Didi Hoffman: I’ve known Michael James Reuschel since I was 19 … and I wouldn’t be here today if I thought Mike could possibly harm another person.
Didi met Mike in college; They got married and had two daughters, Caroline and Kate.
Peter Van Sant: Has he ever been physically abusive to you during your many years with Mike?
Didi Hoffman: He never touched me. No way. Never.
But as in many marriages, there were problems. Mike made millions in the technology business; For his job, he had to travel around the world.
Didi Hoffman: Frankly, he wasn’t very close, so it was – it was hard.
After 25 years of marriage, Didi applied for divorce in 2005. Didi said she moved out of the family home so that her non-college children could always return to the home they grew up in. But soon another woman unexpectedly joined the family.
Didi Hoffman:: I moved out in July … But then suddenly … Susan moves into our house.
Sue was 38 years old at the time and was a hospice nurse. She and Mike, 49, met on Match.com and Didi said Sue quickly became the mansion lady. Didi says that everything she left behind – including her dog – became Sue.
Didi Hoffman: Mike and I were really opposites. He was engaging and sociable and … and I was really – and I think I still am – more reserved and … not that exuberant. And I think he was looking for exuberance.
Caroline remembers the first time she met Sue over dinner.
Caroline Reuschel: And my father seemed to be laughing and having a good time.
But Caroline says she couldn’t help but notice how much Sue drank.
Caroline Reuschel: We have never seen anyone who can defeat five to six martinis and can stand and speak.
About two years after their meeting, Mike married Sue in August 2007. Mike stopped traveling and bought a local business. The couple’s happier times are reflected in some of the thousands of text messages that surfaced during a lawsuit. Mike describes Sue as his “trophy bride” and writes that their life together is simply “amazing”.
But Caroline says Sue is jealous of the close relationship she had with her father and tried to tell her apart.
Caroline Reuschel: She had such walls around him … He would not call me if he were not alone in a car. He was not allowed to take my call [voice breaks] of their.
But surprisingly, Sue was happy to help when Caroline announced in 2016 that she was getting married. But, says Caroline, Sue wanted to do it her way.
Caroline Reuschel: Sue was quite relentless to shower me … My mother was invited, but none of my mother’s friends were invited. The majority of the guests were Sue’s friends and family
But Caroline admits that showering was a lot of fun and she was looking forward to the wedding. Sue helped her choose a dress.
Caroline Reuschel: I tried on a dress and I liked it … and Sue kept saying to me: “This is your dress. This is your dress. It is so beautiful. You have to have it.”
Sue handed in her credit card and it was done.
Peter Van Sant: Does it bother you when I ask how much the dress is worth?
Caroline Reuschel: Ugh. That’s so gauche – I think it was 11.
Peter Van Sant: $ 11,000?
Caroline Reuschel: Yes.
The wedding itself in November 2017 would be a royal affair. The backdrop was the magnificent Oheka Castle on Long Island. 160 people attended the wedding and Caroline says the day was “magical”.
Caroline Reuschel: My husband and I know how happy we are to have had this weekend … it was incredibly beautiful.
Caroline says it was almost perfect, except for something she noticed – an unusual sign on her father’s face.
Caroline Reuschel: The last thing I saw before walking down the aisle at my wedding was … this white scar from here to here [left cheek to chin]. And in my mind I was like, “What is that?”
Weeks later, she found out. Michael revealed a dark, disturbing secret to Caroline: Sue had physically abused him for years.
A toxic marriage
Caroline Reuschel: I called him on his birthday…. And I said … “How are you?” And he was just starting to cry.
It was the end of November 2017, just three weeks after her fairytale wedding, when Caroline said her father shared an unsettling secret about Sue that he had promised not to tell.
Caroline Reuschel: And he said … “Sue was arrested” … and he said … “She started attacking me.” … and I think he was so bullied … that he was really afraid to tell someone.
Sue had been charged with household batteries, but the details of what happened on that day were only released two years later during Mike’s attempted murder trial when both testified about the last turbulent months of their marriage.
Peter Van Sant: What was the status of your marriage?
David Byron | Prosecutor: I think it was at the lowest point it could possibly be before the divorce
SUE REUSCHEL [in court]: I was angry.
Sue told prosecutor David Byron that Mike informed her shortly after Caroline’s wedding that the budget had been exceeded by almost $ 150,000:
DAVID BYRON: Was it fair to say that you were annoyed at times by the accused but mostly by Caroline?
SUE REUSCHEL: Yes.
Mike says Sue attacked him when the fight escalated:
MIKE REUSCHEL: She throws the phone at me and storms around the bed, presses and starts her typical beats like this [bangs his fists].
But Mike didn’t call 911 that day – Sue has:
SUE REUSCHEL: I just felt that things were getting a little out of control.
When the police arrived, Sue admitted that she had pushed Mike and agreed to go to her beach apartment to alleviate the situation. But half an hour later, she was arrested when she hadn’t left the house:
SUE REUSCHEL: He said: “Please put your hands behind your back. You are under arrest.”
Sue told the jury that she was ordered to stay away from Mike. She moved to her beach apartment and got advice on alcohol and anger management. Weeks later, Mike refused to continue charging the battery and was dropped.
Peter Van Sant: Did she have a problem with alcohol?
Sean Brewer | Prosecutor: Susan Reuschel testified … that sometimes if she drank she would lose control.
But Mike says Sue’s actions went far beyond a bad mood. He told the jury that she had been tortured for years:
MIKE REUSCHEL: She pounced on me again, slapped my face, scratched my face, slapped my arms and bent my glasses.
Caroline Reuschel: You would throw things at him. Very heavy things like vases and very heavy coffee cups.
Sue denies having abused Mike, and Mike has not reported any of the alleged police incidents.
Peter Van Sant: Is it true that you saw your father with a black eye?
Caroline Reuschel: He sent me several pictures of him with a black eye.
Mike took pictures of some injuries that he shared with Caroline and later with the jury.
Caroline Reuschel: He has a picture … that he showed me … of his blood-flowing face. And from here to here there was a brand [moving her finger from her right cheek to her chin].
Prosecutors admit that this injury may have been caused by Sue, but they say the evidence shows that Sue fought for her life after Mike attacked her.
David Byron: There are text messages in which she accuses him of suffocating her with a pillow. Indeed, this is the same case where she scratched his face.
Despite the alleged abuse and Sue’s arrest, Mike says he still loved his wife and wanted to stay married. In February 2018, he asked Sue to come to Gainesville for the weekend.
SUE REUSCHEL: Mike had asked me to come in. He wanted us to work on marriage.
They decided to go to their favorite steak house. Sue can be seen getting ready and enjoying a glass of wine on the home security video. Mike comes home and the two kiss before they leave. But with steaks and more wine, old wounds opened up again.
SUE REUSCHEL: He had just received an SMS from Caroline.
Sue says when Mike admitted that he had betrayed her trust by telling Caroline about Sue’s arrest.
SUE REUSCHEL: He and I agreed that we would not discuss this.
Mike drove home alone. Sue followed in an Uber, her anger spread through a series of text messages about Caroline: “Good luck with your bitch “…” It will ruin any relationship you have. ”
When they got home, they went to separate parts of the house. Sue continued her angry lyrics: “I’m going to divorce.” “I’ll go tomorrow morning.” The last text from Sue will be broadcast at 10:13 p.m. “You have serious border problems with your daughter.”
Sue later says she was alone in the guest room when Mike entered. There are no cameras in this room:
SUE REUSCHEL: And he just jumped on me … and I felt this pressure … right here [leans back and gestures to her stomach]. And then suddenly I saw a knife coming. I said, “Oh my god Mike, did you just stab me?” And he said yes.
DAVID BYRON: Does he ever say something to you?
SUE REUSCHEL: He said: “Um, Sue, we won’t get a divorce.”
Sue says Mike was on top of her and pinned her arms on his legs. In the fight, her left thumb was sliced. Then, she says, Mike stabbed her again:
SUE REUSCHEL: On my neck. Exactly here.
Sue says Mike then started cutting her wrist:
SUE REUSCHEL: I had the feeling that he was mutilating me. … My hand was like that [showing her scars]. I couldn’t feel anything and I could see in my arm
Sue loses blood, her life is in danger and says that she vomited and lost control of her body functions. She says she tried to squirm under Mike and they were lying on the side of the bed:
SUE REUSCHEL: He just said to me: “Sue, we will only lie here until you die.”
Sue says when she was lying there trying to stay awake, she saw Mike raise the knife again. Desperate, she offered him a way out.
SUE REUSCHEL: I said, “Michael, we don’t have to get a divorce. I’m not going to divorce you.” He just put the knife down.
Sue says after Mike put the knife down, she asked him to call for help – but he would only do that if she agreed that an intruder stabbed her.
Sean Brewer: When she agrees … to leave the intruders with his story, she saved her life.
A poisonous marriage, hateful lyrics and a bloody room. Mike Reuschel’s future will now depend on whether he can convince the jurors he is the real victim.
MIKE’S abuse claims
When first responders entered the bloody scene in the early morning of February 3, 2018, Mike Reuschel had told them that a stranger had broken into their house and attacked his wife – and then him – with a knife.
But in court, now with his defenders Patrick McGuinness and Ann Finnell, Mike admits the story was a lie and says he’s finally ready to tell the truth. He says that despite Sue’s alcohol consumption and violent outbreaks, he hoped to be reconciled that night.
MIKE REUSCHEL: I don’t care if she is drunk for the rest of her life. Only the anger has to go.
But at dinner they fought over Caroline again and this fight continued in the house. Then the stories of Mike and Sue diverge. Mike says he came to the guest room shortly after 10 p.m. and was startled when Sue knelt on the bed with a knife.
MIKE REUSCHEL: I said Sue, give me the knife. And next I know … I felt scorching heat, that’s – that’s all I remember and I’m just trying to get my hands on it. And I’m on the bed with her now, we’re all on our knees.
Mike doesn’t say how he got the knife in his hands, but he says when they struggled and fell on the bed, he felt the blade go into Sue’s stomach.
MIKE REUSCHEL: She falls backwards and I fall in front and above. I felt the knife enter here [pointing to his stomach] and I rolled away as fast as I could because I was afraid that if it went inside she would be killed.
Mike has no explanation for how Sue was stabbed in the neck or thumb, but about a minute after the fight started, he said he somehow calmed her down and took the knife out of reach.
PATRICK MCGUINESS | Defender: Well, you’re both bleeding at this point, right?
MIKE REUSCHEL: Yes, but it doesn’t splash and there is no blood at all that you can see on Sue [points towards his upper torso, where Sue was first stabbed].
MIKE REUSCHEL: I said, “Sue, we have to go to the hospital.” And she said, “Then make up a story so I don’t get arrested.”
Mike says they were arguing about a possible cover story, but then, as bizarre as it may sound, they lay together for several hours – bleeding – and had what Mike says was one of the best conversations in their lives about future vacations in Europe:
MIKE REUSCHEL: We talked about going to Germany on the Rhine and Moselle cruises. … Maybe we’ll make Burgundy next.
If Mike is telling the truth, this happy conversation took place on a bed soaked in blood and human waste. Mike never mentions this, and Attorney David Byron suspects why.
Peter Van Sant: Is that credible?
David Byron | Prosecutor: I think it’s not credible at all. … he held her there and he can’t admit that.
David Byron: Michael Reuschel had months and months to review the evidence and construct a story that went with things he couldn’t admit.
According to Mike, her dog Susie wandered into this bloody scene around 3 a.m., where the violence would break out again.
MIKE REUSCHEL: I get up to take care of the dog, and – and behind me was the knife. And next I know … She cut her right wrist open with her left hand.
PAT MCGUINNESS Did you talk to her about why she cut herself?
MIKE REUSCHEL: Yes, she said she didn’t want to go to prison. I said, “Sue, I won’t send you to prison. I won’t let you arrested. Calm down.” She says, “Do you promise? Do you promise?” I said yes.”
As Mike tells, Sue came up with the whole idea of lying to the police and he reluctantly agreed to protect her.
MIKE REUSCHEL: I said the only chance I have is to turn the cameras off to give the opportunity to say that someone broke in and did this to us.
Mike says after Sue cut her wrist, he left the room to turn off the surveillance cameras and stage a break-in. It took 25 minutes before he called 911 and turned the cameras back on.
David Byron: And he does this with the knowledge that with every beat of her heart more blood flows into this bed.
But the defense believes that the blood at the crime scene helps prove their case.
Michael Berkland: People lie. The forensics are not lying. And that’s why blood spattering was so important in this case.
Michael Berkland is a former doctor and blood stain pattern analyst who testified for the defense.
Peter Van Sant: What is the most important blood test for you in this bedroom?
Michael Berkland: The arterial spurt pattern.
Berkland says he checked records showing that a small artery was cut in Sue’s wrist that night. And he believes the blood on the pillow case and on the bedside table came from this artery.
Michael Berkland: The most important thing about arteries, however, is that blood comes out with every heartbeat.
Berkland uses stage blood and a small syringe to demonstrate how Sue’s blood has moved and forms a line or a fine drop.
Peter Van Sant: So, in your opinion, the blood gives us a schedule when Sue’s wrist was actually cut.
Michael Berkland: Right … because the arteries don’t close by themselves.
Remember Sue says the attack, including the cuts on her wrist, started sometime after 10:13 p.m. But Mike says Sue cut her wrist around 3 a.m. – hours later. Berkland says that if Sue’s wrist was cut before 11 p.m., she would have died long before the help arrived.
Peter Van Sant: How much time did you think she had to live?
Michael Berkland: If the wounds have passed at 11:00 a.m. at the latest, she is dead before midnight.
Peter Van Sant: What makes you believe what?
Michael Berkland: When it comes to this wrist injury, Michael’s story makes more sense.
The defense team says if we can’t trust Sue’s report when things happened, her entire story is suspicious.
ANN FINNELL | Defender: It is absolutely impossible to have happened as she claims.
WHO WAS THE TRUE AGGRESSOR?
In a box encased in protective plastic is the remains of the malicious confrontation in this bedroom, which Attorney General Sean Brewer is certain to contain evidence of an attempted murder.
Sean Brewer | Prosecutor: This is the knife Susan was stabbed with.
Peter Van Sant: The bending of this knife that you think is due to the fact that it hits bones and has bent the blade?
Sean Brewer That’s right.
Peter Van Sant: This is a lot of blood. Brauer: This one is much blood
Peter Van Sant: This is Mike Reuschel’s pajamas?
Sean Brewer: Yes, and they are soaked in blood.
Peter Van Sant: And whose blood is it?
Sean Brewer: Well, Susan is the one who had the injuries that caused the massive amount of bleeding.
Peter Van Sant: So if blood could speak, does this blood tell you what?
Sean Brewer: This blood tells me that Michael … was on her while stabbing her, and she was bleeding pretty much without help.
Prosecutors say this evidence supports Sue’s statement that Mike attacked her. They also say that the items on this bedside table prove that this was not a dynamic fight between two people. David Byron says only one person was in control of the situation: Mike Reuschel.
David Byron | Prosecutor:: There is a full glass of wine, there are a few glasses, there is a lamp. And his proof that Michael Reuschel was able to limit her physically so much that none of these things are disturbed.
And the prosecutor’s office denies Defense Expert Michael Berkland’s claim that blood stains from Sue’s wrist spatter these stains on the bedside table. Instead, her expert says that the blood was most likely thrown off – thrown by the knife and not by Sue, who cut her wrist:
David Byron: The castoff shows that he swung the knife when he pushed it into her stomach and neck.
Prosecutor Brewer not only attacks Berkland’s conclusions, but also questions his credibility by informing the jury that his medical license has been suspended. He was later arrested for storing body parts from autopsies in Tupperware containers in an unusual location:
SEAN BREWER: You kept them in Uncle Bob’s storage shed, didn’t you?
MICHAEL BERKLAND: In an air-conditioned room.
SEAN BREWER: Did you keep them in Uncle Bob’s storage shed?
MICHAEL BERKLAND: Yes.
SEAN BREWER: And the actual organs that you saved were the brain and heart?
MICHAEL BERKLAND: I had some hearts and brains, yes.
Berkland says the organs were kept for private cases that he worked on when he was still a licensed doctor.
MICHAEL BERKLAND: I used the locker because they were safe and secure … either that or I put them in my house. It was safer than my house.
The charge was later dropped. The prosecutor also wants the jury to know that Sue’s wrist injury severity suggests she didn’t do it herself:
David Byron: What was really life threatening was the cuts the defendant made on her wrist.
Sean Brewer: It was cut to the bone.
Mike’s injuries were much less serious. He had some small cuts on his fingers and stomach. And Sue says the bigger cuts on his forearms were actually made himself.
SUE REUSCHEL: He took the knife in my hand … and he stabbed his arm.
And what about this story that Mike told investigators that an intruder did it all? The prosecutor says it was all his Idea to cover up what he had done.
Sean Brewer: He turned off the cameras and did things to make the police believe that there was a burglar.
And the motive for this alleged attack? Prosecutors believe that it was all about money … that Mike didn’t want to give up half of his assets – millions of dollars – in a divorce.
DAVID BYRON: You didn’t tell this jury that after what you’ve been through it didn’t seem fair to Susan to take half of your money?
MICHAEL REUSCHEL: Yes, that’s right. It didn’t seem fair.
Die Staatsanwaltschaft weist Mikes Behauptung zurück, dass er die unruhige Ehe immer noch in Einklang bringen wollte, indem er darauf hinweist, dass er drei Dating-Sites besucht habe:
DAVID BYRON: Ukrainisches Single-Mädchen Irina. Sie ist 18 Jahre alt, oder?
MIKE REUSCHEL: Ich habe mir Bilder von Frauen mit Kleidung angesehen, ja, Sir.
DAVID BYRON: Ich verstehe, dass sie Kleider tragen, Sir. Die Frage, die ich stelle, ist, dass Sie nach Ihrer nächsten Freundin gesucht haben, oder?
MIKE REUSCHEL: Nein, ich werde dir genau sagen, wonach ich gesucht habe.
DAVID BYRON: Sicher.
MIKE REUSCHEL: Alles, was ich von einer Frau in meinem Leben will, ist jemand, der nett und nett zu mir ist. Das ist alles was mich interessiert. Ich sah mir Bilder und Beschreibungen an, wie sie ihren Mann behandeln würden. Und Sue und ich haben uns diese in unserer Beziehung viele Male zusammen angesehen und gesagt: “Sue, das ist alles, was ich von irgendjemandem brauche. Bitte sei nett zu mir, bitte.”
Die Verteidigung kontert, dass Mikes andere Internetrecherchen beweisen, dass er von Sue missbraucht wurde:
PAT MCGUINNESS: Haben Sie zahlreiche Websites besucht, die sich auf misshandelte Ehemänner beziehen?
MIKE REUSCHEL: Ja, ich habe es getan.
Aber die Staatsanwaltschaft hält es nicht für glaubwürdig, dass Mike ein misshandelter Ehepartner war.
David Byron: Er hat alle wirtschaftlichen Ressourcen. Er ist nicht von Familienmitgliedern abgeschnitten. … Michael Reuschel erfüllt keines der Kriterien für einen misshandelten Ehepartner.
Die Verteidigung versucht auch, Sues Behauptung entgegenzuwirken, dass Mikes Angriff erfolgte, nachdem sie mit einer Scheidung gedroht hatte. Sie produzierten Dutzende von Textnachrichten aus dem Jahr 2015, die zeigen, dass Sue diese Bedrohung viele, viele Male ausgesprochen hatte:
ANN FINNELL: Sie sagen tatsächlich: “Zum 50. Mal möchte ich mich scheiden lassen.”
SUE REUSCHEL: Es ist nur ein Ausdruck, wie zum hundertsten Mal.
ANN FINNELL: Aber es ist ungefähr 50 Mal, nicht wahr?
SUE REUSCHEL: Ich weiß es nicht. Ich habe nicht gezählt.
Und Verteidigerin Ann Finnell schlägt vor, dass diese Texte auch Sues destruktive Absichten enthüllen:
ANN FINNELL: Hast du ihm gesagt “Ich hasse dich?”
SUE REUSCHEL: Ja.
ANN FINNELL: OK. Du hast gesagt: “Ich werde dich zerstören.”
SUE REUSCHEL: Ja.
ANN FINNELL: Und an Ihrem Jubiläum im Jahr 2017: “Hasse dich … alles Gute zum 10. Jahrestag. Ich scheide dich … U d – k.” Du hast das gesagt?
SUE REUSCHEL: Ja.
In ihrem abschließenden Argument besteht Finnell darauf, dass Mike niemals versuchen würde, für Geld zu töten. Sie sagt, Sue war in dieser Nacht der Angreifer und Mike hat sich nur verteidigt:
ANN FINNELL: Sie hasst alle. Sie hasst seine Töchter; sie hasst seinen ehemaligen Ehepartner … So hasserfüllt war und ist diese Frau.
Aber die Staatsanwaltschaft sagt, dass es keine Frage gibt, dass Mike Sue tot sehen wollte.
DAVID BYRON: Dies ist kein rasender Kampf zwischen zwei Erwachsenen. Dies ist ein Blutbad, das von einer Person begangen wurde, die die andere Person auf diesem Bett eingesperrt hat.
Im Krieg der Reuschels werden die Geschworenen bald entscheiden, an welche sie glauben.
Peter Van Sant: Wie die Jury überlegt, wie sind diese Minuten und Stunden für Sie?
Caroline Reuschel:: [Crying] Ich konnte einfach mit niemandem reden. Ich verbrachte die letzten anderthalb Jahre damit, mich mental auf das Schlimmste vorzubereiten und auf das Beste zu hoffen.
Caroline muss nicht lange warten. Nach einer 9-tägigen Gerichtsverhandlung dauerte es kaum mehr als 4 Stunden, bis die Jury zu einem Urteil kam.
Peter Van Sant: Sie sagen, ein schnelles Urteil sei oft das Urteil eines Staatsanwalts.
David Byron: Es ist ein Gedanke, der sich in deinen Kopf einschleicht … aber du weißt nie wirklich, was eine Jury tun wird.
Richter: Mitglieder der Jury, ich verstehe, Sie haben ein Urteil gefällt?
JURY FOREPERSON: Wir haben Ihre Ehre.
Richter: Würden Sie es bitte an meinen Gerichtsvollzieher weitergeben?
FOREPERSON: Wir, die Jury, stellen in diesem Fall einstimmig fest, dass der Angeklagte Michael James Reuschel in Bezug auf 1 den Angeklagten des versuchten Mordes ersten Grades als angeklagt schuldig ist.
Schuldig. Mike Reuschel is convicted of the most serious count against him.
Caroline Reuschel: We were all so shocked.
FOREPERSON: As to count two, the defendant is guilty of false imprisonment …
In quick succession, the jury also finds Reuschel guilty of four additional crimes including false imprisonment and tampering with evidence.
Jurors utterly reject Mike’s story of a knife fight with his wife. Prosecutor Sean Brewer says justice was served to a man who lied to investigators and to the jury.
Sean Brewer | Prosecutor: Michael went through great lengths to try and kill Susan. He just wasn’t very good at it.
And what’s more, Brewer says, Mike Reuschel tried to kill Sue not once but twice. While he was in jail awaiting trial, an informant came forward to claim Mike tried to hire a hit man to kill Sue — a charge Mike strongly denies.
Peter Van Sant: Do you believe that your father, in jail, plotted to hire someone to murder his wife?
Caroline Reuschel: No … honestly, I don’t mean to laugh. But it is beyond laughable.
As we were interviewing Caroline, she got a phone call that surprised us.
Caroline Reuschel: Dad? Hello! I’m good. I’m — with “48 Hours” right now, literally — with cameras.
Mike Reuschel allowed Van Sant to ask a few questions.
Peter Van Sant: Mike … I just wanna hear you tell me…. Did you … take a knife into the room that night on February 2nd, 2018, and attack your wife?
Mike Reuschel: Absolutely not.
Peter Van Sant: And you’re telling me the truth?
Mike Reuschel: Absolutely. On my children’s lives … all I did was defend myself … when I got attacked.
Last December, everyone returns to Judge William Davis’ courtroom for sentencing. The victim in this crime, Sue Reuschel, does not appear in person.
When it’s Caroline’s turn to speak, the moment is charged with emotion:
CAROLINE REUSCHEL: [Crying]: No one is as positive, generous and caring as this man… I will say I am and will always be a proud daughter.
MATT F.: He is one of the most caring, kind gentle people I have ever met.
Several colleagues and friends speak of Mike in glowing terms:
JENIFER L: He’s a good person.
CLAYTON C.: The Mike Reuschel I know is a stand-up gentleman.
Then, Judge William Davis took center stage. Mike was about to learn his fate.
JUDGE WILLIAM DAVIS: The person I heard through the evidence and the witnesses was someone who was cold, they were brutal … On count one, the attempted first-degree premeditated murder, I’m going to sentence you to 30 years imprisonment.
All told, the judge gives Reuschel 30 years, not the 50 years requested by prosecutors. But for Mike, who is 64 years old, it is, in essence, a life sentence.
Peter Van Sant: Here are two sophisticated people, very wealthy, living in paradise, one of most beautiful parts of Florida and yet they couldn’t work this out … It’s a real tragedy, isn’t it?
David Byron: Absolutely. I mean, when you hear who Michael and Susan Reuschel were before this all occurred, they lived exemplary and mostly normal lives. And to see it get to this point … really is a tragedy.
The war of the Reuschels is not over. Mike and Sue are divorcing and continue to fight over the marital assets, including the house where Sue was nearly stabbed to death.
The murder-for-hire charges against Mike Reuschel were dropped.