Produced by Asena Basak
On September 9, 2016, a desperate 911 call triggered a swift response from the Royse City, Texas, Police Department.
Robert Poynter, a veteran firefighter, was shot in the head while sitting in his wife’s Jeep, on an unmaintained county road in Royse City, Texas. His wife, Chacey Poynter, told police she’d called her husband for help after she claimed her Jeep was stuck in mud. Chacey Poynter claims when Robert Poynter got in to help move the vehicle, he was shot by a man who emerged from the dark. She told police she had no idea who fired the fatal shot.
“And, as soon as that – that shot, he slumped over into the passenger seat,” Poynter tells “48 Hours” correspondent Peter Van Sant in her first network TV interview. “I just wanted him to be OK.” Her husband, however, “was dead,” she says.
From the moment police arrived at the scene, they were skeptical of Chacey’s story of what happened. Everything she told them – in breathless and halting sentences – was, including an admission that she was having problems in her marriage.
“Her story kept adding all these different twists and turns and pieces of information that just weren’t fitting in place of the puzzle,” says Royse City Police Sgt. Shane Meek.
Later, at the police station, she confessed that she did know the identity of the man who killed her husband – a lover by the name of Michael Garza.
The investigation into the murder exposed the fractured relationship between the Poynters, including a twisted plot for killing the 47-year-old firefighter, whose wife, then 29, had carried on multiple extra-marital affairs. Prosecutors maintain Poynter plotted out the murder with Garza to cash in on her husband’s life insurance policy.
“A CLEAN ASSASSINATION”
The harrowing night of September 9, 2016 is forever etched in the memory of Chacey Poynter.
Chacey Poynter [in tears]: When I’m awake, I see his face. When I’m asleep, I see it. It hurts.
Chacey Poynter: It’s something I can’t get out of my head.
CHACEY POYNTER [bodycam video]: And he’s been shot in the head, please … he’s around – he’s around the corner, like –
CHACEY POYNTER [bodycam video]: When I walked up to him, I yelled his name and I just felt something on me.
She says her husband Robert Poynter, a decorated fire department captain, was gunned down by a shadowy figure — just feet away from her — on a rural road in Royse City, Texas.
Det. Michael Burk | Royse City Police Dept.: You can see if you look below us tire tracks from tractors, deep ruts. It’s a true farm road.
Detective Michael Burk photographed the scene.
Det. Michael Burk: The night of the murder, there was still water in the ruts, they were still muddy, it was pretty rough.
Sgt. Shane Meek: It’s not even a traveled road. … It’s for farmers to use to make access to their fields.
That night, Sgt. Shane Meek wondered how Chacey Poynter and her husband ended up on the broken road and questioned a breathless Chacey in the back of his squad car:
SGT. SHANE MEEK [bodycam video]: Breathe for me, Miss Poynter.
CHACEY POYNTER: I’m trying.
SGT. SHANE MEEK: Calm down and breathe for me, OK? … Breathe fast like that you’re not helping yourself, OK?
CHACEY POYNTER: I — I know.
SGT. SHANE MEEK: Slow breaths.
Chacey says the couple planned to meet at a fast food restaurant for tacos:
CHACEY POYNTER [bodycam video]: I was gonna meet him at the Jack in the Box. … I don’t — I don’t ever take this road.
SGT. MEEK: Right.
CHACEY POYNTER: I –
SGT. MEEK: What made you come down this one?
CHACEY POYNTER: I — I missed my last one.
SGT. MEEK: Oh, you did. OK.
CHACEY POYNTER [breathless]: So, I — I did — I never, never been down this road before.
She texted her husband.
Peter Van Sant: What do you say to him?
Chacey Poynter: I told him that GPS said that I was 3 miles out.
Chacey says while texting, she got stuck.
Chacey Poynter: I called him after that … I told him that my Jeep was stuck and that I needed him to come help me.
As a fire captain, Robert Poynter was used to coming to the rescue. He rushed to her side.
Chacey Poynter: I stayed on the phone with him. He drove out there.
Peter Van Sant [at crime scene with Det. Burk]: Why did he park there?
Det. Michael Burk: He told Chacey that the ruts were too deep, and he wasn’t going to be able to get his truck down here.
Chacey Poynter: I met him almost all the way down to his truck, and we walked back together… And he went to go get my Jeep. He got on the driver’s side.
As Chacey waited on the side of the road for Robert to back up, she heard a gunshot.
Chacey Poynter: I don’t think I reacted to the sound … It was Robert. I jumped in the Jeep. It was rolling very slowly. … I was holding his head in my left hand, and I put the Jeep in park with my right hand. And I just — I was calling his name. I can see his eyes. … I just feel the blood [cries].
Det. Michael Burk: This was a clean assassination. Robert unfortunately didn’t have a clue what happened to him.
Det. Michael Burk: The victim was sitting in the driver’s seat … He’s got an entry wound approximately right here on the temple.
Peter Van Sant: On the right side of his head?
Det. Michael Burk Yes, sir. … and the wadding from a shotgun shell was still in his skull.
Peter Van Sant: And could you tell if that blast was shot from forward of the vehicle or from behind?
Det. Michael Burk: It was hard to tell.
Chacey says as she ran for help, she saw that shadowy figure:
CHACEY POYNTER [bodycam video]: There was a man – I —it was a tall person. That’s all I know.
SGT. SHANE MEEK: OK.
CHACEY POYNTER: He was taller than me.
SGT. SHANE MEEK: And what was he wearing?
CHACEY POYNTER: I — dark clothes, is all I know.
SGT. SHANE MEEK: Did you see any type of firearm, rifle —
CHACEY POYNTER: No.
SGT. SHANE MEEK: — or anything like that in his hands?
CHACEY POYNTER: No. I — no.
While sympathetic, Sgt. Meek was puzzled.
Sgt. Shane Meek: That some guy just happened to be standing in the shadows of the trees to step out and shoot this guy point-blank in the head with a gun just didn’t make sense.
SGT. SHANE MEEK [bodycam video]: Alright, well give me a second, my partners need to speak to me. … I’ll be right back with you, OK?
Chacey Poynter: I was terrified. … I just watched my husband get shot. And the man that did it was still out there.
But whoever that suspect was, why would he want Robert Poynter dead? Robert was a devoted public servant, a career firefighter.
Jason Salisbury | Firefighter: Honestly, it’s one of those things you don’t even believe it at first.
At the University Park Fire House near Dallas, where Robert spent 19 years as a firefighter and later a captain, the pain of his loss is still raw for his buddies Jason Salisbury, Paul Falkenhagen, Earl Starnes and Mark McAdams.
Peter Van Sant: But every day you still feel this absence?
Jason Salisbury [emotional]: Yeah. Absolutely.
Peter Van Sant: You still miss the man?
Paul Falkenhagen: How could you not? … I think of Bob … every day I come up here. It burns me up inside. … But every time I pass his locker, I get choked up inside, it makes me want to cry. I’m about to cry now.
A firefighter with the touch of a gentle giant.
Mark McAdams: My last fire with Bob. … this little girl … she was crying. … Bob … took the time to … comfort her and tell her we were all OK and everything was fine.
Jason Salisbury: And that’s the way Bob always was, not just that little girl. … his girls were number one on his list. Always. Always.
Natalie Poynter: No matter how much help you needed, he was always there.
Robert Poynter had three daughters: a 6-and-a-half-year-old with Chacey, and from his first marriage, Natalie and Nicole.
Nicole Poynter [crying]: The things you miss the most are the simple things like being able to call him. Being able to see him and hug him, you know.
Back in 2008, Robert’s 20-year marriage to their mother Amy Poynter – his high school sweetheart – began to unravel.
Amy Poynter: Signs started showing up that something was amiss. … He was shorter with conversations. He wasn’t home as much. There were excuses when he was gone.
Then Nicole discovered her dad had a second cell phone.
Amy Poynter: That was the initial realization that there was somebody else.
Peter Van Sant: And, eventually, this other woman — you learn her name.
Amy Poynter: It was Chacey Tyler Mormon.
Chacey, 20, was working as a nurse aid. She was introduced to Robert through a mutual friend.
Chacey Poynter: And from the first moment that I ever met him in person … we were never apart after that.
Peter Van Sant: What was his marital status?
Chacey Poynter: As far as I knew he was separated.
Amy Poynter: From what I understand, she continued to go up to the station to kind of let him know that she was interested and did that quite often.
Earl Starnes: She pursued Bob. She pursued Bob.
Amy Poynter: We’d been married 20 years and here’s a young girl that’s giving him attention … And I just think that she continued to try and, you know, fill any need and be there.
Chacey Poynter: We started seeing each other in December of 2007 and I was pregnant by May of 2009.
Robert and Chacey were married on December 28, 2009; she was 22 and he was 40.
Chacey Poynter: I knew I wanted to marry him.
Peter Van Sant: What is it about Robert that you fell in love with?
Chacey Poynter: He’s goofy. He would just make me laugh.
But almost seven years later, Chacey says the couple’s love faded. And that night in the squad car, she decided to share her frustrations:
CHACEY POYNTER [bodycam video]: I was young and stupid when we got married. … I didn’t want to be married anymore.
CHACEY POYNTER [bodycam video]: We’ve been — we’ve been having problems. I — was — coming to meet him at the Jack in the Box — so we could talk.
SGT. SHANE MEEK: What do y’all fight over?
CHACEY POYNTER: … My daugh — he’s trying to take my daughter away from me.
A TROUBLED MARRIAGE
Just over an hour after Chacey Poynter held her husband’s bloodied head in her hands, she kept giving Sgt. Meek details — not of the shooting, but of the state of her marriage:
SGT. SHANE MEEK [bodycam video]: Why would he try to take your daughter away? Like what reason did he give you?
CHACEY POYNTER: Because he knows that that’s what’s gonna hurt me the most.
Sgt. Shane Meek: Yeah, her story kept adding all these different twists and turns and pieces of information that just weren’t fitting into place of the puzzle.
Peter Van Sant: You’re talking about marital problems at a time when your husband’s body is still in a Jeep. … Why did you go there?
Chacey Poynter: I don’t know.
Chacey says three years into their marriage, the couple grew apart.
Chacey Poynter: Nothing really set it off. … We slept in separate bedrooms. … I never felt he loved me like he could have. … he loved his ex-wife a lot, and I felt like she still had a lot of him.
According to Chacey, Robert had a temper. He was taking testosterone and steroids to treat low testosterone levels – and Chacey claims that made him violent.
Chacey Poynter: There would just be times, you know, he would grab me by my hair. Umm, I could get thrown up against the wall.
Peter Van Sant: This was verbal abuse and physical abuse. Is that right?
Chacey Poynter: Verbal, mental, physical.
Robert’s ex-wife Amy doesn’t buy it.
Amy Poynter: That is all made up. … he did get on … treatments … he had normal testosterone … For her to say that he had roid rage and all that, that just wasn’t him.
Peter Van Sant: So, she’s lying to me is what you’re saying?
Amy Poynter: Yes, I am.
When Natalie was 16, she lived with her dad and Chacey for six months and never saw him become violent.
Natalie Poynter: So, it was useless to try to come to me and act like dad was some kind of beast.
Peter Van Sant: Did you ever see him slam Chacey against a wall?
Natalie Poynter: No.
Nicole Poynter: Absolutely not.
Peter Van Sant: Natalie and Nicole have told us that it never happened. Are they telling the truth?
Chacey Poynter: No, sir. … They’ve never really cared for me from the beginning. I was the younger girl that came in and took their father.
Chacey believed she had a good reason for not reporting the alleged abuse to authorities.
Chacey Poynter: You know, I don’t walk out and announce he’s beating on me. I’m not gonna do that because it would jeopardize his job.
Despite their problems, Chacey says she tried to keep the spark alive in the marriage.
Peter Van Sant [showing Chacey a photo]: I don’t mean to embarrass you with this, but what is this from?
Chacey Poynter: This was done for Robert. I had a friend of mine who was a photographer and she did a boudoir shoot for me. …He wasn’t attracted to me after I lost all the weight. He — he liked me when I was heavier.
Over a two-year span, Chacey transformed her body.
Chacey Poynter: I’d lost a total of 104 pounds. I got up every morning, ran, strict diet, worked out. I pushed myself pretty hard.
Chacey admits she began seeing other men — a lot of men.
Chacey Poynter: When I dropped the weight, I didn’t hide in his shadow anymore.
Peter Van Sant: You had confidence?
Chacey Poynter: Correct. … I started meeting people, you know, I was going out more. … I was doing things for myself.
Natalie accidently found evidence on Chacey’s computer that her stepmother was cheating.
Natalie Poynter: She had left it open on her Facebook. And she was talking to men on there that weren’t dad.
Peter Van Sant: What kind of conversations?
Natalie Poynter: Very sexual and gross.
Natalie says while her father pulled overnight shifts at the firehouse, Chacey often snuck out for hours at a time, leaving Natalie and her then-4-year-old sister alone.
Natalie Poynter: She was never wearing gym clothes, but she always said she was going to the gym. … and often my little sister would wake up and … cry and cry because she couldn’t find her mom.
Natalie eventually found the courage to tell her dad about Chacey’s cheating ways.
Natalie Poynter: I will stand up for what I know and what I believe in and that to me wasn’t right.
Peter Van Sant: You said what?
Natalie Poynter: I said, “I think Chacey’s cheating on you.”
Deeply troubled, Robert filed paperwork for divorce, but ended up not following through.
Jason Salisbury: He was trying to save the marriage. He had already been divorced once. He didn’t want to lose his — his third daughter and not be able to be with her all the time.
Robert installed a security camera next to the front door to try and catch Chacey cheating with one of her lovers. Then, just 12 days before Robert’s murder, the doorbell rang.
Chacey Poynter: Soon as that doorbell rang, I was out that door telling him he had to go.
Peter Van Sant: And off he runs. And Robert knew.
Chacey Poynter: Correct.
CHACEY POYNTER: [bodycam video]: I love him. He’s a pain in the ass, but I love him.
On the night of Robert’s murder, Sgt. Meek had a hunch that Chacey Poynter knew more than she was saying.
Sgt. Shane Meek: Something just didn’t sit right.
SGT. SHANE MEEK [bodycam video]: Chacey, do you mind if I take some pictures of you real quick?
CHACEY POYNTER [in agreement]: No.
Although she wasn’t under arrest, she was read her rights.
SGT. SHANE MEEK [bodycam video]: All right look up at me.
SGT. SHANE MEEK: All right, listen to me. You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
But Chacey kept on talking, revealing what she was up to before that fateful rendezvous with her husband … hanging out with someone named Michael Garza:
CHACEY POYNTER: I went to a friend’s house.
SGT. SHANE MEEK [bodycam video]: At a friend’s?
CHACEY POYNTER: Yeah.
SGT. SHANE MEEK: Whose house was that? …
CHACEY POYNTER: Michael Garza …
SGT. SHANE MEEK: Are you and Michael Garza dating, or anything like that? …
CHACEY POYNTER: We –
SGT. SHANE MEEK: Do y’all have a relationship?
CHACEY POYNTER: Yes …
Sgt. Shane Meek: Well, then that red flag goes off.
SGT. SHANE MEEK [bodycam video]: Did y’all like have date? Was it date night?
CHACEY POYNTER: No. We — we just hung out. We — we had sex — obviously.
SUSPECT OR GRIEVING WIFE?
SGT. SHANE MEEK [bodycam video]: OK, what were you saying? I’m sorry.
CHACEY POYNTER: He’s contacted an attorney to get a divorce. And — and I was — I was OK with that. We’ve been married six years, almost seven years.
Investigators say the more Chacey Poynter talked, the more she seemed like a suspect than a grieving wife.
Sgt. Shane Meek: The hyperventilating’s now stopped, and she’s gone into this stutter talking … which … leads me to believe that she does these pauses … to gather additional thoughts.
Peter Van Sant: So, are you thinking is this a performance?
Sgt. Shane Meek: Yes, sir. It started seeming more and more that way.
And a performance with a recurring character: Michael Garza:
CHACEY POYNTER [bodycam video]: I was with — at Michael’s house, at Michael’s house.
SGT. SHANE MEEK: What – what, tell me his name again, I’m sorry.
CHACEY POYNTER: Michael Garza.
SGT. SHANE MEEK: Michael Garza.
CHACEY POYNTER: Yes.
CHACEY POYNTER: Do y’all have a relationship?
CHACEY POYNTER: Yes.
SGT. SHANE MEEK: Yes?
CHACEY POYNTER: Yes …
Peter Van Sant: Michael Garza. Who is he?
Chacey Poynter: He was a place that I would go to to vent and — and I loved him for that.
Chacey began having an affair with Michael Garza after meeting him on Facebook in the summer of 2016. A selfie captured one intimate moment.
Chacey Poynter: It was something I felt guilty about.
Robert shared his frustrations about Chacey with his buddies at the firehouse.
Earl Starnes: And I told him, “Hey, you just got to cut your losses. … Divorce sucks. But you’re miserable …” And he said, “Yeah, you’re right. You’re right, but I’m invested.” Those were his exact words. “I’m invested in this.”
Robert was hopeful the marriage could be saved. He took Chacey and their daughter to Mexico on vacation, but it backfired.
Chacey Poynter: We fought. … He thought I was on the phone with somebody else. … it upset him.
Jason Salisbury: It was the Wednesday that Bob had come home from Mexico. He said the trip wasn’t good. He said, “I just can’t do this anymore.”
Peter Van Sant: And when did he die?
Jason Salisbury: On Friday.
Not long after Chacey told Sergeant Meek about the affair with Michael Garza, she was driven downtown to the Royse City Police Department to be questioned by Detective Michael Burk.
The interrogation started at 2:20 in the morning and lasted eight hours:
CHACEY POYNTER: Did I love Robert, yes. He was an ass—- to me, I loved him …
CHACEY POYNTER: I loved him. I — I really did love him. We’ve had a lot of issues in our marriage.
Among those issues: her affair with Garza:
CHACEY POYNTER: Michael and I ended up having sex while I was there.
And she gave more detail about Robert’s murder:
CHACEY POYNTER: Right to the front of my Jeep, there was someone standing there. Probably 6-foot, maybe. I could see dark clothes, that’s it. I don’t know if they were white, black. I don’t know anything.
DET. MICHAEL BURK: Somebody, from what you’re saying, shoots your husband, cold-blooded murder, and just lets you run away.
CHACEY POYNTER: There was someone standing there.
Det. Michael Burk: When somebody comes out to murder a random stranger, you know a big red flag is that they don’t let a witness go.
Peter Van Sant: And that suggested what to you?
Det. Michael Burk: Suggested she might have known the killer.
Detective Burk pressed her:
DET. MICHAEL BURK [interrogation]: Look, the way your husband was killed, somebody was right next to him.
DET. MICHAEL BURK: I think you are full of crap. … I want to know who pulled the trigger …
CHACEY POYNTER: I’m telling you … I don’t know who pulled the trigger.
DET. MICHAEL BURK: You see, I think you do and that’s the problem.
CHACEY POYNTER: No, I don’t.
Two hours into the interrogation, Detective Burk broke through:
DET. MICHAEL BURK: Who killed your husband? Who shot Robert?
CHACEY POYNTER: Mike.
DET. MICHAEL BURK: Can you say that louder for me, please?
CHACEY POYNTER [cries]: Mikey did.
Mikey — as in Michael Garza.
DET. MICHAEL BURK: Where was Mikey?
CHACEY POYNTER: To the passenger side …
Now cornered, Chacey changes her entire story. She says she told Garza about Robert’s alleged anger issues.
CHACEY POYNTER: I didn’t want him dead. I just — I wanted him to know what it’s like to be bullied all the time.
Chacey told “48 Hours” Garza rode with her that night. The plan was to confront Robert outside the Jack in the Box, and demand he leave Chacey alone.
Peter Van Sant: Did you see him put a shotgun in your vehicle?
Chacey Poynter: No, sir.
Peter Van Sant: You never saw a shotgun?
Chacey Poynter: No, sir.
Peter Van Sant: How can that be true?
Chacey Poynter: I was on my phone.
Chacey Poynter: Garza tells me, make a right onto County Road 2595. … When I asked him what was going on, he said, he’s gonna meet us here.
Chacey now claims it was Garza setting a trap.
Chacey Poynter: He told me to take my Jeep back up around the first corner and let Robert know that my Jeep was stuck and I needed him to come help me.
Peter Van Sant: You had to tell Robert something to get him to come to the location, right?
Chacey Poynter: Yes, sir.
Chacey Poynter: My Jeep wasn’t stuck.
When Robert arrived, she noticed something kind of touching.
Chacey Poynter: He wore the cologne that he wore on our wedding day, and he hadn’t worn it since. And I had made a joke about it. And uh, and he laughed.
Robert could never have imagined that he was just moments away from death.
Chacey Poynter: As I was walking to the Jeep, I said, “STOP!”
Peter Van Sant: Who are you yelling stop to?
Chacey Poynter: To Garza.
Peter Van Sant: But why would you have shouted that way if this was just going to be a conversation between two men? Isn’t that indicative that you shouted “stop” because that meant don’t shoot him?
Chacey Poynter: No. I didn’t – at that point I didn’t want him to even talk to Robert.
Chacey Poynter: At that moment— [emotional] I’m sorry. At that time, there was a gunshot.
Peter Van Sant: Did Garza say anything to you?
Chacey Poynter: Nothing. … not until after … I called 911 did he run up to me. And he took my phone from me… when he threw it down on the ground.
Prosecutor Jeff Kovach doesn’t buy any of it.
Jeff Kovach: The question is which one of those stories does she want us to believe? Hurt him? Scare him? Or just have a talking to … None of them are credible.
Peter Van Sant: Investigators … believe … that you were luring your husband to this remote area so he could be murdered.
Chacey Poynter: There was no plan to — to bring him out and murder him. There was no talk of that.
On September 10, the morning after her husband’s murder, Chacey Poynter was arrested for conspiracy to commit murder. The couple’s daughter would stay with Chacey’s mother.
Peter Van Sant: Did you conspire to have your husband murdered?
Chacey Poynter: No sir.
Peter Van Sant: And you’re telling me that you are speaking the truth?
Chacey Poynter: Yes sir.
Investigators then set out to find the man who allegedly shot Robert Poynter. But Michael Garza, the truck driver, had hit the road.
A TWISTED PLOT
On September 15, 2016, just five days after his wife was charged in his death, Captain Robert Poynter was laid to rest.
Amy Poynter | Victim’s ex-wife: The funeral was absolutely beautiful … It was very ceremonial. … We had guards guarding his urn, his ashes, the entire time.
Firefighters from all over Texas honored him.
Mark McAdams | University Park firefighter: I did the Fireman’s Prayer.
MARK MCADAMS [speaking at the funeral]: When duty calls me, o Lord, wherever flames may rage, give me the strength to save some life, whatever be its age.
Earl Starnes | University Park firefighter: I remember … trying to hold it all together. And then when I lost it is when we walked out.
Natalie Poynter | Victim’s daughter: Other fire stations … and police came in and they lined from the church all the way to the fire station.
Nicole Poynter |Victim’s daughter: I remember … the bagpipes. Painful.
Amy Poynter: One of the hardest things … is they give the … Last call for Robert Poynter. … You still think that person’s still there somewhere, that this couldn’t have happened. … that’s the thing with Bob. You always had this underlying feeling that … Even if he had to walk through fire, somehow that man would make it through.
Amy says in the last days of his life, Robert was finally ready to walk away from Chacey.
Amy Poynter: … he was kind of beaten down. … He was tired. … Where he was just ready, you know, to get a divorce. … I think she knew he was ready to move on.
Investigators say just the day before he was gunned down, Robert had reached out to a divorce attorney on Facebook, sending this provocative message: “I’m thinking of a surprise attack.”
Chacey Poynter: He … said something to her about a surprise attack on me … He had contacted a realtor, said he was gonna put the house up for sale. … he was going to have custody of our daughter.
Peter Van Sant: The next day he is killed. Do you think that’s just a coincidence?
Jeff Kovach | Prosecutor: That’s not a coincidence. That’s why the murder happened when the murder happened.
Peter Van Sant: What was the attraction for Chacey with your dad? Was it love or money?
Natalie and Nicole Poynter [in unison]: Money.
Natalie says Chacey had convinced her father to change his almost $685,000 life insurance policy. Instead of the girls getting the money, Chacey was made the primary beneficiary.
Jeff Kovach: We believe that was the motive. … She saw him as an ATM. machine. And she was going to milk the last little bit of money she could get out of him.
Prosecutor Calvin Grogan says investigators discovered a mountain of digital evidence.
Calvin Grogan: There were plenty of text messages after the life insurance beneficiary designation change occurred in April, indicating that Chacey Poynter was looking for somebody that would take care of Robert.
And many of those texts — more than 10,000 — were between Chacey and her lovers.
Jeff Kovach: She’s having affairs with multiple men. Danny Mims, Brad Golden, Shawn Butcher, and Michael Garza.
Prosecutors believe Chacey began grooming Garza for murder, convincing him that Robert was an imminent threat.
Jeff Kovach: She used sex to manipulate men. … She’s not going to come right out and ask someone, “Hey, will you kill my husband for me?” … Chacey Poynter … plays the victim and then she uses that to manipulate people. And, so, she told all of these men that she’s this abused, battered woman.
She texted Garza from that Mexican vacation where the couple was to reconcile: He’s coming after me sooner or later.”
Peter Van Sant: Garza answers, “F him. No. I will shot [sic]that dude.” … It’s Michael Garza talking about murdering your husband.
Chacey Poynter: I didn’t think he was serious. … I didn’t want him involved … I told him that.
BRAD GOLDEN [interrogation]: I’m telling you man, this girl was good at what she did.
BRAD GOLDEN: She would be at my house every day, every day, around 4 to 5 o’clock.
Brad Golden is the lover caught on the security camera video. He says Chacey manipulated him.
BRAD GOLDEN [interrogation]: I never even suspected — suspected, boy, that she had been married. She had told me she’d been divorced since 2014.
Golden says Chacey told him horror stories about Robert.
BRAD GOLDEN [interrogation]: She always told me that Robert was abusive to her.
DET. MICHAEL BURK: Mm-hmm.
BRAD GOLDEN I don’t know if she was trying to get me to feel sorry for her and I just wasn’t falling for it or whatever cause I kept trying to get her to meet at the police station –
DET. MICHAEL BURK: Right.
BRAD GOLDEN: — you know?
Peter Van Sant: Were you ever able to corroborate any of her story of abuse?
Det. Michael Burk | Royse City Police Dept.: We spoke to neighbors. We spoke to friends. … I mean, there was no evidence to support it at all.
Chacey had made allegations about Robert’s anger issues to ex-lovers Sean Butcher and Danny Mims, who she often texted.
Jeff Kovach: Eight days prior to the murder … “I wish he’d run out of air in a fire.” Moving back to July 11, “I need him gone. Gone. G-O-N-E.” All capitalized.
Danny Mims replies, “I’m not a magician.” Chacey answers, “Well, I need one.”
Peter Van Sant: Did you want him dead?
Chacey Poynter: No. I was upset.
Jeff Kovach: Sean Butcher says to Chacey … “What do you need to leave?” Chacey Poynter says … “I would be better off with him gone — benefits and can’t lose custody.”
Peter Van Sant: Investigators have said … you were going from person to person to try to find someone who would kill your husband.
Chacey Poynter: I wasn’t.
Jeff Kovach: The day before the murder … from Chacey to Garza: “I’ve made up my mind.”
Peter Van Sant: What do you think she’s made up her mind about?
Jeff Kovach: I think it’s pretty clear it’s about killing … Robert Poynter.
With Michael Garza on the run, a SWAT team raided his house — coming up empty. But the next day, Garza turned himself in and he was charged with Robert Poynter’s murder.
Det. Michael Burk: He did not want to speak to us. Only wanted to speak to his attorney. … And that’s as far as we got.
With their two suspects now behind bars, investigators hoped to find direct evidence linking Garza to the murder. Five weeks later, that evidence would come from a farmer who unearthed the murder weapon – a shotgun — while plowing a field less than a quarter mile from where Robert was shot.
Jeff Kovach: That shotgun was still loaded. The shell hadn’t been ejected, OK, and there’s two more in the magazine. … and they’re all man-killing slugs consistent with what the medical examiner said was used to kill Robert Poynter.
Det. Michael Burk: We did a search on the firearm … came back to Matthew Garza, Michael Garza’s brother.
Police now had what they needed. Michael Garza would be the first to face trial.
Calvin Grogan: Michael Garza just happened to be the person that was in Chacey’s life at the right time … All it really took for Chacey was to basically just dangle the bait.
CHACEY’S FATE DECIDED
CHACEY POYNTER [bodycam video]: … And then when I looked up there was nobody there.
SGT. SHANE MEEK: OK.
CHACEY POYNTER: You probably think I’m crazy.
From her bizarre performance the night her husband was murdered, to her confession about her lover Michael Garza, investigators were convinced Chacey Poynter was determined to have her husband killed that night:
DET. MICHAEL BURK [interrogation]: Michael was gonna shoot Robert? …
CHACEY POYNTER: He was going to do it.
Peter Van Sant: Investigators believe you knew about the mission, planned the mission … to murder your husband for money.
Chacey Poynter: That’s what they say.
Peter Van Sant: Look at me. They’re right aren’t they?
Chacey Poynter: No, sir.
On July 10, 2018, the prosecution put the alleged triggerman — Michael Garza — on trial. He had pleaded not guilty. When Garza took the stand, he made a shattering announcement implicating Chacey.
Jeff Kovach: He says that he gave her his brother’s shotgun … because he thought that she was abused … he implied that she did it.
Garza told the court he couldn’t have murdered Robert Poynter because he was tending to a sick animal on the family farm.
Jeff Kovach: His alibi is that he was … tending to Oreo the cow while this whole murder was going on.
The jury didn’t find Garza’s alibi credible.
Calvin Grogan: I actually do believe that his testimony helped us.
On July 20, Michael Garza was found guilty and sentenced to 99 years in prison.
Nicole Poynter: It was a huge step forward … but it also felt like the real battle had just begun.
The Poynter family now focused on Chacey.
Amy Poynter: In my mind she’s always pulled the trigger … because she was the instigator of all of it.
Peter Van Sant: What were you thinking going into trial?
Chacey Poynter: I was very hopeful.
Prosecutors were hopeful, too, that they would prove Chacey wanted Robert’s money and that she was the mastermind.
Jeff Kovach: There’s no way Michael Garza was ever going to get Robert Poynter out on that road alone. Only Chacey could do that. And she played her part well.
Using Chacey’s texts, prosecutors demonstrated that her alleged love for Michael Garza was really a sinister ploy.
Jeff Kovach: He is a pawn. … He’s the dumb idiot she got to do this.
In fact, Garza didn’t know that after he shot Robert, Chacey planned on spending the night with another lover.
Jeff Kovach: She was texting Brad Golden while she was out there committing this murder … She had sex with Brad Golden that morning. They still planned to meet up that night.
Peter Van Sant: What the heck is going on?
Chacey Poynter: I don’t know. My life was out of control.
Chacey’s defense attorneys, Scott Cornuaud and Frank Hughes, say the state’s obsession with Chacey’s affairs tainted the jury.
Scott Cornuaud: Chacey having affairs … has nothing to do with murder. … It just demonizes her. … Chacey Poynter is not guilty of murder. She’s guilty of … being negligent, because she should have anticipated that this thug Garza would … commit a murder to get to her.
Frank Hughes: Calling 911 is probably the strongest point we have in her defense. … No one who planned to kill someone would shoot him … And call 911.
But the prosecutors argued at the sight of her dead husband, Chacey had a moment of sheer panic.
Jeff Kovach: It’s one thing to talk about killing somebody. It’s another thing to go through with it.
While Chacey chose not to take the stand, jurors did hear her speak through those recorded police videos — one that captured this revealing moment:
CHACEY POYNTER [holding her head in her hands during her interrogation]: Oh no. What have I done?
At the end of her two-week trial, the jury began its deliberations.
Earl Starnes: We waited for a while … An hour, two hours, three hours went by.
After the fourth hour, Chacey Poynter was found guilty of murder.
Nicole Poynter: I cried.
Natalie Poynter: Very relieved.
Earl Starnes: They got it. That they saw who she really was.
Mark McAdams | University Park firefighter: She met him and she walked him to his death.
Jason Salisbury | University Park firefighter: Smiling and giggling, talking about tacos and cologne. She’s evil.
Peter Van Sant: Chacey told me … that you always had Robert’s heart.
Amy Poynter: I think that’s true. … She took away all choice of anybody of having any relationship or any, you know, future with him.
Nicole Poynter: This is his bunker gear. … having it is almost like having part of his presence … which is comforting in a way and painful in another.
Peter Van Sant: How do you want your father to be remembered?
Nicole Poynter: As he was. As he really was … He was gentle, and he was smart, and he was kind … He was rare, we were lucky to have him.
Chacey Poynter: This is injustice.
Peter Van Sant: True redemption and remorse comes from telling the truth. Isn’t it time you did that?
Chacey Poynter: He wasn’t supposed to die.
Jurors sentenced Chacey Poynter to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 30 years.
Peter Van Sant: Are your tears now, tears of what you did to your own life or tears of what you did to him?
Chacey Poynter: It’s both.
Robert Poynter’s life insurance benefits were split among his three daughters.
Chacey’s mother and stepfather share custody of the couple’s daughter with Robert Poynter’s parents.