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By Murray Newman
Since 1999, Murray Newman has practiced criminal law, handling cases from DWI to Capital Murder and everything in between. He serves as a consultant for Cold Justice. Follow him on Twitter and visit his blog.
Cold Justice's investigation into the murder of Charlene Corporon tested the boundaries of just how "cold" a murder case could be and still have a hope of solving it. The 1982 murder was the oldest of all the cases investigated this season and it felt as if we all stepped back in time as we worked. The case had originally been investigated in a completely different era of law enforcement – one where the investigators were much more likely to identify with the lawmen of the Old West than with today's modern detective.
Only a handful of the original sheriff's deputies and Texas Rangers were still alive to be interviewed, but the team was fortunate to have one of them able to join the new investigation. Much like Johnny Bonds, Nubbin Chamblee was the very picture of an old school sheriff's deputy and investigator. Both men are physically imposing "country boys" and their skills at talking to witnesses were as entertaining as they were informative. By comparison, Captain Richard Rooth of the Matagorda County Sheriff's Office was much quieter than Johnny and Nubbin, but his all-encompassing knowledge of the facts of the case and his commitment to bringing a killer to justice was inspiring.
Although the murder had been committed long before the world knew anything about DNA or even knew what "CSI" meant, Yolanda and Kelly's investigation into the crime scene would become a critical factor in solving the case. Their focus into the layout of the Corporon Grass Farm and the positioning of everything in the house quickly led them to the inevitable conclusion that Charlene had been murdered by someone who was a regular resident there.
This case embodied what Kelly always says about circumstantial cases still being good cases, as it became very clear to Kelly and Yolanda that the only person with the motive and opportunity to kill Charlene was her son, Gary. The fact that the case was so old, however, meant that finding living witnesses was extremely difficult. Even first responding deputies were no longer available to answer basic questions about what the crime scene was like when they first arrived. Ultimately, the investigators were able to locate numerous witnesses that painted a very clear picture of the events leading up to Charlene's murder.
The two most important witnesses were obviously Gary Corporon and his wife Doris, the two people who were there the night of the murder. The investigators all agreed that they needed to separate the two of them and interview them at the same time. Everyone on the Cold Justice crew woke up at 4 a.m. that day to do surveillance on the husband and wife so they could be interviewed. We were all stunned to learn that Gary was working off the coast of Angola.
In the end, the most powerful message about the Corporon case was what happens when a murder isn't solved for over thirty years. Life went on for everyone else involved in the case and justice was denied for Charlene.
All of that changed when Kelly Siegler came back to her hometown.
Blog entries are the opinions of their authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of TNT.