Simply an hour-and-a-half after Seth Perrault stated his 44-year-old spouse, Amanda, shot herself proper in entrance of him, he was struggling to inform his story.
SETH PERRAULT (to Sheriff Howard Sills): I am in shock. My spouse of eight years, that I like greater than something on this world…
SETH PERRAULT (to Sheriff Sills): I do not know even the place to start out, sir. … I’ve misplaced all the pieces in my life.
Perrault, 44, then a police officer for the Metropolis of Eatonton, Georgia, advised Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills that his spouse Amanda had shot herself within the head.
Anne-Marie Inexperienced| “48 Hours” contributor: What did he say occurred?
Sheriff Howard Sills: He stated that they have been in mattress and … they have been arguin’ … After which unexpectedly, she simply produced the gun outta skinny air and executed herself.
SETH PERRAULT (to Sheriff Sills): I simply sat there and watched my spouse execute herself.
Sheriff Howard Sills: In all my years of questioning anyone for … suicide … I’ve by no means heard anyone use the time period “executed.”
Angie Johnson: I knew she hadn’t. I knew that he was mendacity.
From the very starting, Angie and Alesha Johnson say that they had questions on what occurred to their sister Amanda.
Alesha Johnson: We knew higher. We knew our sister. … Amanda cherished life.
Angie Johnson: She would not put us via this.
About eight years earlier, within the fall of 2011, a lately divorced Amanda met Seth Perrault on-line.
Alesha Johnson: I bear in mind her being form of enthusiastic about it. … he handled her otherwise from a few of the previous relationships she had been in the place, , she wasn’t revered.
Seth, battling most cancers and unemployed on the time, appeared to fall for Amanda quick and exhausting.
Angie Johnson: And so they moved in pretty fast. Like, he had her transfer in inside six months of them assembly.
Seth was dwelling an hour away, together with his mom, who was caring for him. However Angie says Amanda would shortly take over the function of Seth’s caretaker.
Angie Johnson: When she moved on the market … he did not need her to work.
They are saying Seth’s dad and mom have been paying all the couple’s payments – and serving to with bills for Seth’s daughter from a earlier relationship.
Anne Marie Inexperienced: So, Seth was principally depending on his household?
Alesha and Angie Johnson: Very a lot.
And Amanda was depending on Seth.
Angie Johnson: For the longest time, like, he would not let her have any form of … cellphone, mobile phone or something like that … It will be his cellphone or a landline.
Sheriff Howard Sills: She did not also have a automobile to drive. He monitored her continuously.
As time went on, Alesha and Angie say they noticed much less and fewer of their sister.
Angie Johnson: He stored us from bein’ in a position to see her.
Alesha Johnson: She did not come to, like, any of our Christmas occasions, or like, any of our occasions as a result of she needed to host for his household and cook dinner for all of them.
Amanda lived with Seth for 5 years. Then, on June 23, 2017, the couple shocked everybody once they quietly went to the native courthouse and obtained married. Angie and Alesha imagine the one cause Seth married their sister was to assist him get custody of his daughter.
Alesha Johnson: That is why I really feel like he requested her to marry him.
Seth’s custody battle had been occurring for nearly precisely a yr at that time.
Anne-Marie Inexperienced: Do you assume Seth marrying Amanda helped him acquire custody?
Justin Kenney: Completely.
Seth’s lawyer, Justin Kenney is Seth’s lawyer.
Justin Kenney: If Amanda was going to be current in his daughter’s life they needed to get married … I feel that was one of many paramount points for him to achieve custody.
Kenney says Seth did love Amanda—and his daughter—and was simply making an attempt to do what he thought was finest for everybody.
Justin Kenney: This was a man that doted on his daughter. He was a household man. … he would dote on his spouse. … I simply thought he was a — a stand-up particular person.
A couple of months after Amanda and Seth have been married, he was granted custody of his daughter. Somewhat over yr later he was employed by the Eatonton Police Division, and his father purchased him a home close to Lake Oconee.
Alesha Johnson: She cherished their new residence.
Anne-Marie Inexperienced: This could have been all the pieces she hoped for.
Alesha Johnson: Yeah, it was. , aside from the connection.
Alesha and Angie say they did not know simply how unhealthy issues had gotten, however have been listening to an increasing number of tales of preventing, fueled by alcohol.
Justin Kenney: I’ve heard tales and interviews that, , once they have been sober, they have been loving towards each other. But it surely’s when alcohol got here into the combination … that is when it turned poisonous.
Somewhat over a yr after becoming a member of the police drive, Seth fell down some stairs on the couple’s residence and needed to go on medical go away. Now, together with the alcohol, there have been ache capsules, and the sisters say the preventing appeared to be escalating.
Angie Johnson: You may hear it, like, on cellphone calls.
Alesha Johnson: His tone and demeanor round her.
Angie Johnson: I might ask. … “would you like me to name 911? Can I name 911?”
Alesha Johnson: She would inform you, “No, no, do not name.” , “We have simply been drinkin’. We’ll be — all the pieces’ll be OK in a while.” … Perhaps she knew her state of affairs would develop into even worse, .
Then, issues did worsen. On Jan. 28, 2020, simply days earlier than her loss of life, Amanda referred to as 911.
911 DISPATCHER: Putnam County Sheriff’s Workplace will you maintain please?
AMANDA PERRAULT: Sure, thanks.
Angie Johnson: She had barricaded herself in … a again bed room.
AMANDA PERRAULT (911 name): It is my husband, and he is placing his arms on me.
Angie Johnson: She ended up havin’ to run subsequent door.
AMANDA PERRAULT (911 name): He locked me out of the home and I am simply making an attempt to get my issues out of the home, please.
911 DISPATCHER: She’s on the neighbor’s home proper now.
One other sheriff’s dispatcher was alerted.
SECOND 911 DISPATCHER: And he or she stated her husband is … an officer with the Eatonton Police Division.
That second dispatcher stated he knew Seth Perrault and stated he had a status.
SECOND 911 DISPATCHER: I ain’t speculated to know this … however he is been out of labor together with his again and apparently, he is over their whoopin’ up on her ass.
Seth made native headlines when he was arrested on fees of easy battery and household violence.
Angie Johnson: She … advised me … would I come get her the subsequent mornin’? And I advised her sure, to ensure to pack all the pieces, have it prepared.
As a substitute, Amanda determined to attend Seth’s bond listening to. When the decide agreed to launch Seth on bail, he requested Amanda if she needed a “keep away” order added. Amanda stated no, after which let Seth come residence.
Alesha Johnson: ‘Trigger she was scared. … She knew he was mad, she knew that it was … public that he had been arrested. “He is a police officer … , I’ve to deliver him residence and make this proper.”
Alesha Johnson: I talked to her the day he obtained out. And … I stated, “How are issues?” And he or she stated, “He is bein’ unusually good.”
Alesha says she doubted Seth’s new angle and felt that beneath he have to be seething —realizing that if he was convicted on abuse fees, he was in peril of shedding custody of his daughter and his job.
Alesha Johnson: He knew it was gonna embarrass his household … And he had already put himself up right here on this pedestal like he was king. After which to be humiliated in entrance of individuals … I feel it made him very indignant.
Alesha says Amanda was terrified and on the lookout for a method out.
Alesha Johnson: We have been all on — a series message … and we have been tellin’ her, “Simply get out … divorce him, inform his father that you do not need something however a car.” … And … she stated, “I am not making an attempt to get killed.”
Simply 5 days later, Amanda was lifeless.
Sheriff Howard Sills says that from the very begin of his investigation into the loss of life of Amanda Perrault, he wasn’t shopping for her husband’s story.
Sheriff Howard Sills: I knew somethin’ was improper the day I walked in the home.
For starters, the place of Amanda’s physique — depicted beneath in a “48 Hours” animation based mostly on the crime scene pictures — left Sills sure that Amanda couldn’t have shot herself.
Additionally of concern to Sills was the best way the Smith and Wesson .380, which belonged to Seth, was discovered mendacity subsequent to Amanda’s physique with its journal ejected
Sheriff Howard Sills: The journal … It was … close to her proper facet, and the pistol itself, was method down right here beneath her left foot.
What made the ejected journal much more curious says Sills, is the truth that there was a bullet discovered contained in the gun’s chamber.
Sheriff Howard Sills: It is a semiautomatic gun. So, when it fires … the slide comes again. The spent cartridge casin’ is ejected, and it picks up the subsequent spherical.
Due to that bullet within the chamber, the journal needed to be ejected after the gun was fired, says Sills. And, until the gun is flawed, the one solution to eject the journal is to push the button.
Sheriff Howard Sills: Now, do not do that at residence. However if you do that (places gun to his proper temple) the way you gonna get your hand — your second hand round there to do it (reaches round together with his left hand to attempt to attain the button)?
There was additionally no blood on Amanda’s arms or the lengthy sleeves of her shirt. And one thing else caught the sheriff’s eye.
Sheriff Howard Sills: In the course of the closet on the ground was a humid inexperienced towel … Any person had dried off with it, little doubt about that.
One of many first deputies on the scene stated Seth smelled like shampoo. Additionally alarming, the bed room was suffering from 20 miniature bottles of Fireball Whiskey — all of them empty. Sills says he did not have the manpower to course of the scene, so he referred to as in brokers from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Whereas they collected bodily proof and Amanda’s physique was transported to the state medical expert, Sills centered on Seth.
Sheriff Howard Sills (in his workplace): He got here in and sat proper on this blue, leather-based chair.
Seth spoke to Sills in his workplace for over an hour with out an lawyer current.
SETH PERRAULT: I am not gonna mislead you. I am — I’ve no cause to mislead you.
Sheriff Howard Sills: I needed to know what had occurred that day. … how did the journal get outta the gun? … How did the gun get the place it was?
SHERIFF SILLS: Did you contact that gun at this time?
SETH PERRAULT: The .380?
SHERIFF SILLS: Yeah.
SETH PERRAULT: I imply, it has been, like — no.
SHERIFF SILLS: Right now?
SETH PERRAULT: No, sir.
Anne-Marie Inexperienced: How does her physique get into that place —
Sheriff Howard Sills: He … No reply.
Anne-Marie Inexperienced: — as a result of he by no means touched her?
Sheriff Howard Sills: No, by no means touched her.
However Sills says that did not make any sense, so he stored urgent. After which, Seth modified his story.
SHERIFF SILLS: Did you contact her?
SETH PERRAULT: Perhaps I d — I do not know … I in all probability did contact her. I used to be in all probability huggin’ the s*** out of her. And I used to be in all probability like, I am so — like, “honey. What the hell’s occurring?”
Sheriff Sills says Seth tried a number of instances to deflect questions together with his badge.
SETH PERRAULT: I take pleasure in being regulation enforcement agent.
Sheriff Howard Sills: I can not bear in mind what number of instances he regarded me within the eye and stated, “I am police officer.”
Amanda, he stated, additionally knew what cop he was, and the way assault fees would spoil each their lives.
SETH PERRAULT: She h — hated to see my status destroyed on the information ‘trigger she is aware of what police officer I’m. … And he or she was so nervous I would lose my daughter. … She needed to return down right here and inform you that it was a lie.
Seth insisted that Amanda had lied the day she referred to as 911 and felt so unhealthy about it that she needed to admit to perjury.
Sheriff Howard Sills: He stated that she had written one thing that she meant to deliver to me, recanting what she had advised the deputies. And he advised me the place it was.
A handwritten letter was present in Amanda’s nightstand. It reads partly:
“I Amanda Perrault wish to retract my assertion … My husband by no means put his arms on me ever. I really feel horrible for the humiliation I’ve put my husband and my household via. I’m prepared to take any punishment I could deserve for what I’ve executed.”
Sheriff Howard Sills (exhibits Inexperienced the letter): I do not deny she wrote it. However take a look at the penmanship. There’s not the slightest error of any form.
Sheriff Howard Sills: What we have got right here is an inexperienced police officer dictating what’s to be written.
Like Sills, Amanda’s sisters are sure Seth was behind the letter.
Angie Johnson: She wrote it, however she was coached. … I feel what he was telling her — “I want you to write down this to get me out of hassle.”
However Seth advised Sills he was not about to let Amanda confess to mendacity to authorities.
SETH PERRAULT (to Sheriff Sills): I knew if she got here down right here, it was a false assertion and a felony. I knew it.
However in response to Seth, Amanda could not take the guilt anymore, so she put his gun to her head and pulled the set off.
SETH PERRAULT (to Sheriff Sills): She checked out me and stated, “I am sorry. I am sorry I put you thru this.” Increase. … I could not even say a phrase, Sheriff. It was executed.
Seth tried to persuade Sills that Amanda killed herself, as a result of her name to 911 had probably ruined their lives. However the sheriff did not see that as a cause for suicide; as a substitute, he noticed a motive for homicide. Believing that Amanda would by no means take her personal life, this made sense to her sisters as effectively.
Alesha Johnson: He needed to make it appear to be she took her life in order that he may very well be cleared of all this wrongdoing.
Sheriff Sills says he was satisfied that Seth Perrault was by some means concerned in his spouse’s loss of life, however that day, he felt he did not have sufficient to arrest him.
Sheriff Howard Sills: I needed to see if I may get some extra proof. And I did.
One of many clues that satisfied Sheriff Sills that Seth Perrault wasn’t telling the reality have been his actions simply 20 minutes earlier than he reported his spouse Amanda was lifeless. That is when Sills’ deputy, Terrell Abernathy, arrived at Seth’s entrance door, making an attempt to ship paperwork on an upcoming case.
Deputy Terrell Abernathy: They’d a type of video doorbell issues, and I rang that.
The scene was captured on video.
Deputy Terrell Abernathy: I anticipated him to reply the door, and I anticipated him handy him his copy of the subpoena … I imply, you are a policeman. You know the way this works.
Abernathy says he may inform somebody was residence.
Anne-Marie Inexperienced: What’d you hear?
Deputy Terrell Abernathy: I heard footsteps or footfalls, heavy ones. … I am asserting myself, who I’m, what it’s. I even turned my again to the door. … I do not care when you’re in your underwear. Simply reply the door and take the paper.
He waited seven minutes after which left — subpoena nonetheless in hand.
DA Wright Barksdale: In my coronary heart, I imagine that Amanda Perrault had already been shot when Abernathy rang the doorbell. … I feel he was involved that any individual heard the gunshot, and that is why he did not go to the door.
District Legal professional Wright Barksdale believes Seth was making an attempt to determine what to do subsequent.
DA Wright Barksdale: Take into consideration this: he is within the means of staging this scene, and he hears the doorbell ring. Are you able to think about what was goin’ via his thoughts?
However lawyer Justin Kenney says that isn’t what occurred.
Anne-Marie Inexperienced: Why did not they arrive to the door when Deputy Abernathy rang that bell?
Justin Kenney: Worry of what he is bringing. … Seth is afraid that … his ex is about to serve him with custody modification paperwork.
Anne-Marie Inexperienced: What does Seth say occurred after that?
Justin Kenney: So, I imagine that there’s a heated dialogue that takes place. … He lays down … (to) diffuse the state of affairs, he lays all the way down to take a nap. … He awoke to Amanda mumbling one thing, whispering one thing … and— her pulling the set off and taking pictures herself.
Kenney factors out that Amanda was impaired by alcohol — thrice the authorized restrict, when examined by the medical expert. That and the escalating pressure in her marriage, turned a lethal mixture.
Justin Kenney: The great home … the daughter … the monetary safety, all of this was crumbling round Amanda. And then you definately tack on a .23 blood alcohol content material … She thought that that was the one solution to — to repair it, to — to finish it.
Anne-Marie Inexperienced: She was actually drunk.
Sheriff Howard Sills: Completely.
Anne-Marie Inexperienced: Perhaps she by accident shot the gun.
Sheriff Howard Sills: How’d she by accident get the journal out of it? … How’d she by accident get posed as she was?
Sills was additionally very troubled as a result of Seth did not name 911 when his spouse allegedly shot herself. As a substitute, Perrault referred to as his boss, the Eatonton chief of police, on his mobile phone. “48 Hours” made a number of unsuccessful makes an attempt to achieve the previous chief of police for remark.
Sheriff Howard Sills: Clearly, we’re not gonna have a recording of that. And so they have a minimum of a 20-minute dialog earlier than I am referred to as.
Hoping the Perrault’s neighbors had heard one thing the day Amanda died, Sills had Deputy Abernathy return to the Perrault home to query them. What he realized made Sills much more suspicious about Seth’s involvement in Amanda’s loss of life.
Sheriff Howard Sills: We discovered that there had been a real sample of home violence for years and years.
Neighbors stated the couple may very well be heard preventing practically every single day. And of their eyes, Seth was nearly all the time the aggressor.
DA Wright Barksdale: They advised tales a couple of bodily altercation between Seth and Amanda the place he truly grabbed her by the again of the hair and pulled her down and pushed her into the driveway.
One neighbor advised Abernathy that he would usually stand by in case issues obtained actually violent.
Deputy Terrell Abernathy: He talked about how that at instances he would simply stand within the yard and simply wait to see if he wanted to name 911, as a result of it was so violent over there.
One other neighbor stated that Amanda had twice made this chilling remark:
Deputy Terrell Abernathy: That if she have been to wind up lifeless … that Perrault is the one which did it, and … she made this neighbor promise … that she would insist that her loss of life be investigated as a murder.
Anne-Marie Inexperienced: Did anybody name the police?
Sheriff Howard Sills: No.
Anne-Marie Inexperienced: Why not?
Sheriff Howard Sills: Nicely, one of many solutions was that “Nicely, we have been scared to name as a result of he was the police.”
Alesha Johnson: It is hurtful — it is hurtful. … and because of this I needed to do that present, is to be sure that folks know to talk up.
The day Amanda died, the neighbors stated they did not hear a factor. The one witness to what occurred was Seth Perrault — and Sills was certain he could not belief him after the interview in his workplace.
Sheriff Howard Sills: In keeping with Seth … they take the kid to high school, they arrive again residence, and so they go nowhere in any respect apart from down the road to the comfort retailer. Nicely, that did not occur. He lied.
Sills says the proof was on surveillance digicam footage of the couple discovered 12 miles away—at a drive-through liquor retailer, the place Amanda purchased these 20 miniature bottles of Fireball whiskey.
Sheriff Howard Sills (exterior the liquor retailer): She drives as much as this drive-in window. Proper there’s the digicam that catches the truck [points to the camera].
Concurrently, Seth was captured on a digicam subsequent door, in a comfort retailer.
Da Wright Barksdale (within the comfort retailer with Inexperienced): You see him stroll and he truly comes down, I imagine this aisle and he walks, and he will get one thing to drink.
The video, says Barksdale, would develop into an important piece of proof not due to what was bought, however due to what Seth was sporting: a Pink Floyd T-shirt and black athletic pants. Practically 4 hours later, when sheriff’s deputies arrived on the Perrault residence to analyze Amanda’s loss of life, Seth was sporting one thing else.
Sheriff Howard Sills: Once we get there he’s wearing shorts and a darkish T-shirt.
And the clothes Seth was sporting within the video?
DA Wright Barksdale: We discovered these … within the washer.
The clothes was dry and had clearly not been laundered, however there was that deputy who had reported that Seth smelled freshly washed, and there was that damp towel that was discovered on the closet flooring.
Justin Kenney: Seth says … he took a shower.
Seth’s lawyer Justin Kenney says Seth did wash up in some unspecified time in the future.
Justin Kenney: In the event you take a shower — you are gonna change garments. …. there was no proof that the washer had truly been turned on. … it regarded just like the washer … was getting used as a — a laundry basket.
Solely a tiny speck of blood was discovered on the bottom of Perrault’s pants, and a hint quantity of gun powder residue was discovered on his left hand when examined.
Justin Kenney: They did it three hours later after … potential contamination from being … on the police station.
Amanda’s arms have been by no means examined—and the gun was by no means dusted for fingerprints. However Sills felt he now had sufficient proof to make an arrest. Simply two days after Amanda’s taking pictures, now former Eatonton Police officer Seth Perrault, was taken into custody.
Alesha Johnson: Sheriff Sills referred to as me and let me know that they have been going to arrest him for her homicide. And I … My entire household w — simply was so relieved and — and blissful that – that –
Angie Johnson: She was gettin’ justice.
Alesha Johnson: Sure.
However earlier than a grand jury may hear the proof and resolve if there was sufficient to go to trial, COVID shut down the courts. Seth would sit in jail for practically 9 months till that post-mortem report was launched by the medical expert, declaring Amanda’s loss of life a suicide. Her choice was based mostly totally on the shortage of gunpowder across the wound, which meant the gun would needed to have been proper up towards Amanda’s head when it went off — and there have been no indicators of a battle.
Justin Kenney: No person is simply going to permit any individual — to place a gun to their head and pull the set off with out placing up some type of combat.
Sheriff Howard Sills: I used to be astounded. … Very first thing, I simply referred to as the DA. I stated, “You are not — (laughs) you are not gonna imagine this.”
Anne-Marie Inexperienced: Did you assume possibly you made a mistake?
DA Wright Barksdale: Completely not. … We’re gonna take each little bit of the proof and attempt to piece this factor collectively.
However Justin Kenney did assume the prosecution was making a mistake, and that the post-mortem report was all of the proof wanted to defend Seth Perrault.
Justin Kenney: I imply, it was — it appeared fairly open-and-shut to me.
THE TRIAL OF SETH PERRAULT
It was Nov. 3, 2020, and Seth Perrault, nonetheless unindicted, had been in jail for practically 9 months. When COVID restrictions lastly eased, a grand jury was set to resolve if there was sufficient proof towards him, to go to trial.
Sheriff Howard Sills: And the very first thing I put up for that grand jury to see?
Anne-Marie Inexperienced: The crime scene footage.
Sheriff Howard Sills: No, ma’am. … The post-mortem report that stated, “Suicide.” … “Women and gents … The state crime lab medical expert says this was a suicide. Now, I am gonna present you the proof I discovered.”
Members of the grand jury did see the crime scene pictures and heard proof of home abuse and shortly determined that, regardless of the medical expert’s report, Seth Perrault ought to face a jury of his friends.
Anne Marie Inexperienced: What have been the costs?
DA Wright Barksdale: Malice homicide … felony homicide … and aggravated assault.
Perrault pleaded not responsible to all fees. At his trial in February 2022, he determined to not testify, leaving protection lawyer Justin Kenney to inform his story.
Justin Kenney: I feel there was an entire absence of enough proof that Seth killed his spouse.
The prosecution confirmed a jury of eight ladies and 4 males the crime scene pictures, together with the best way Amanda’s physique and the gun have been discovered. Additionally they heard testimony from that sheriff’s deputy who thought Seth smelled freshly showered. They watched the footage of Deputy Abernathy on the Perrault’s entrance door and listened to all 60 minutes of Perrault’s interview with Sheriff Sills.
SETH PERRAULT (to Sheriff Sills): I do not know the way this occurred.
District Legal professional Barksdale says that a few of the most compelling proof was discovered on Amanda’s mobile phone. Like this video she recorded seven months previous to her loss of life.
SETH PERRAULT: It is unhappy. It is unhappy as a result of what, I married you and I am — I am not gonna — I am — dude, you are executed.
AMANDA PERRAULT: I am executed?
Amanda’s sisters have been seeing the video for the primary time.
Alesha Johnson: It made me indignant.
AMANDA PERRAULT: I wanna have weekend.
SETH PERRAULT: You burned that up if you tried to place that cellphone in my face.
AMANDA PERRAULT: What cellphone in your face?
SETH PERRAULT: Oh, proper there. Oh, you are videotaping.
AMANDA: Yeah, since you’re being a d*** and I am gonna present you tomorrow.
SETH PERRAULT (yelling): Oh, so that you did not videotape all of the s*** if you hit me and smacked me –
AMANDA PERRAULT (yelling): Hit you? You f****** choked me eight f****** instances!
Justin Kenney: The video … was problematic. … But it surely — it would not present all the pieces that occurred … Seth additionally states that she had acted violently towards him as effectively.
There was no proof of Seth having been abused launched at trial. However Amanda’s cellphone additionally contained pictures of her with bruises, a black eye and a break up lip together with texts like this one to her sisters: “Seth simply choked me until I practically handed out, busted my lip huge open.”
Seth’s then-8-year-old-daughter was interviewed by a forensic youngster psychologist. Keep in mind, she was a witness to what occurred the day Amanda referred to as 911.
PERRAULT’S DAUGHTER: I used to be scared that, um, one in every of them would possibly get harm.
PERRAULT’S DAUGHTER: They have been cussing at one another. … Miss Amanda was cussing too, however she did not contact daddy in any respect. … Daddy was, like, touching her nostril like this (demonstrates by pointing to her nostril). Like, “Get out of my home proper now.”
The jury was proven a lot of the videotaped interview.
PERRAULT’S DAUGHTER: She was on the ground like this (will get on her knees) … tryin’ to get her stuff. … then, unexpectedly, Daddy simply began grabbing her arms. … and Daddy simply pushed her over the laundry desk. After which, um — opened the door … and pushed her out the door.
Whereas her father spent the evening in jail, she stated Amanda begged her to not inform anybody what occurred, or there may very well be lethal penalties.
DA Wright Barksdale: Amanda tells her that evening, “In case your daddy loses custody of you, he will shoot me lifeless.”
PERRAULT’S DAUGHTER: “Your daddy would come shoot me lifeless.”
However when Barksdale referred to as the now-10-year-old to the witness stand, she stated she could not recall what occurred that day, or what she stated within the interview.
Alesha Johnson: She, I feel, felt actually torn. I seen her take a look at her dad a pair instances … And I felt like … she was extra cautious about what she was saying — like any individual had been teaching her.
In cross examination, the protection requested if anybody had coached her on what to say. She stated no. However Justin Kenney says he believes one other prosecution witness might have been coached: a jailhouse informant named Jack Faulk, who had shared a dorm block with Seth Perrault.
Justin Kenney: Jack Faulk has a legal historical past, I imagine 28 pages lengthy. … quite a few contacts with the police, and he had each incentive to lie, make up a narrative.
Faulk had come ahead three weeks earlier than the medical expert’s report was launched, claiming he had priceless details about Amanda’s loss of life.
Sheriff Howard Sills: He knew issues that solely Seth Perrault may have advised him.
In two hand-written letters, Faulk claimed that Seth advised him, “The digicam catching him with the garments on was his largest concern.” He additionally claimed that Seth stated, “He had been giving (Amanda) ache killers all day” and that “she was handed out” on the time of her loss of life.
Sheriff Howard Sills: I feel he was within the mattress together with her after she was handed out … and held the gun towards her head.
Anne-Marie Inexperienced: He was behind her?
Sheriff Howard Sills: Behind her or barely to the facet.
The protection argued that Amanda shot herself as a result of her lies about Seth assaulting her had probably ruined their lives. Moreover, solely that tiny hint of gunshot residue was discovered on Perrault’s left hand and there was simply that one speck of blood discovered on his clothes.
Justin Kenney says the toughest factor for the protection to clarify, was the best way Amanda’s physique was discovered.
Justin Kenney: We knew that it was gonna be an issue. … the physique needed to be moved not directly. Needed to be touched not directly.
Kenney says there’s one clarification that is sensible to him; one thing Seth Perrault stated in his interview with Sheriff Sills.
SETH PERRAULT (to Sheriff Sills): I in all probability did contact her. I used to be in all probability huggin’ the s*** out of her.
Justin Kenney: And that might probably account for her arms being, ah, by her sides.
As for the best way Seth’s gun was discovered beside Amanda’s physique with the ejected journal by her facet, the protection employed an knowledgeable who testified that he fired the gun six instances and after a type of firings, the journal spontaneously ejected.
Justin Kenney: It exhibits that that firearm can drop the journal when it is fired.
DA Wright Barksdale: Howard Sills took that very gun out and shot it a number of instances. The GBI examined that gun, did not notate of their report any malfunctions in anyway.
Then there was the medical expert, Dr. Lora Darrisaw. Barksdale referred to as her to the stand and requested her to clarify how she got here to her conclusion of suicide as the way of loss of life.
DA Wright Barksdale: What I needed the jury and for her to see … she didn’t take into account all of the proof. … She had not thought of Seth’s daughter’s interview. She had not thought of the mobile phone information, the prior home abuse.
SETH PERRAULT (mobile phone video): Oh, so that you did not — you did not video tape all of the s*** …
However Dr. Darrisaw defended her conclusion. And on this assertion to “48 Hours,” the Georgia Bureau of Investigation backed her up: “Our company stands behind the unique knowledgeable opinion of Perrault’s loss of life.”
Anne-Marie Inexperienced: Have been you nervous in any respect in regards to the verdict?
DA Wright Barksdale: What I strive … and remind myself, it’s my job to pursue justice and to current a case for the jury to contemplate. … And in the event that they have been to stroll him out the door, I might be capable to look to Amanda Perrault’s household and say, “We did all the pieces we may.”
It had been just below two-and-a-half-hours, when the jury within the homicide trial of Seth Perrault introduced that that they had reached a verdict.
Alesha Johnson: After they referred to as us all again in, all of us simply held arms … And … dropped our head. I simply bear in mind praying, sayin’, “God, , simply please — , please do that for our household. … Allow us to have justice for our sister.”
And justice is what they really feel they obtained. The decision: responsible of homicide.
Alesha Johnson (emotional): It was bittersweet, as a result of we obtained justice, but it surely did not deliver her again. It did not deliver our greatest good friend again.
That very same day, Perrault was sentenced to life, with out the opportunity of parole.
Alesha Johnson: I would like a few years of him prayin’ to God, and bein’ on his knees that he woulda took his personal life as a substitute of my sister’s.
Justin Kenney says he believes an harmless man is now behind bars, for all times.
Justin Kenney: My coronary heart sank. … I’ve recognized Seth for nearly a decade now, and … I do not assume he did it.
Each August, on her birthday, Amanda’s sisters honor her reminiscence by releasing love letters tied to purple balloons.
Angie Johnson: “I like you Amanda, and I hope you’re having a phenomenal birthday in heaven.”
In 2022, the notes additionally included the National Domestic Abuse Hotline quantity.
Angie Johnson: And hopefully it will discover any individual that actually wants it.
Alesha Johnson: We simply wanna create … consciousness round home abuse. And for folks to — do not sit again and simply let it occur, it doesn’t matter what the — the sufferer is telling you. Battle for them, ? Assist them. Assist them any method you possibly can. There’s so many issues I want I may return now and do totally different (cries). I want I may return and save her.
Anne-Marie Inexperienced: You are gonna save any individual with this.
Alesha Johnson: I hope so.
In the event you or somebody is a sufferer of home abuse, name 1-800-799-SAFE or go to thehotline.org.
Seth Perrault’s daughter resides together with her mom, who has custody; his sister is petitioning to take custody. Perrault’s first enchantment has been denied.
Produced by Judy Rybak. Michelle Sigona and Anthony Venditti are the event producers. Shaheen Tokhi is the sphere producer. Lauren Turner Dunn is the affiliate producer. Jud Johnston, Marcus Balsam, Marlon Disla and Wini Dini are the editors. Anthony Batson is the senior broadcast producer. Nancy Kramer is the manager story editor. Judy Tygard is the manager producer.