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Could this doorbell video help solve a murder?

On February 3, 2020, Putnam County Sheriff’s Deputy Terrell Abernathy was dispatched to the home of a police officer in the city of Eatonton, Georgia. He was there to serve Officer Seth Perrault with a subpoena as a witness in a case for the department. No one answered the door, but as Abernathy told CBS News reporter Anne-Marie Green, he could have told someone who was in the house.

Putnam County Representative Terrell Abernathy
Doorbell camera shows Putnam County Deputy Terrell Abernathy attempting to deliver a subpoena at the home of Eatonton, Georgia Police Officer Seth Perrault on February 3, 2020. Perrault did not answer the door.

Putnam County Sheriff’s Office

I heard footsteps or footsteps, heavy steps,” Abernathy told Green in an interview with this week’s “48 Hours Report,” “Death of Officer’s Wife,” which airs Saturday, January 28 at 10/9c on CBS and streams on Paramount Channel +. He added, “I declare myself, who I am, what it is. I even turn my back on the door. I don’t care if you’re in your underwear. Just answer the door and take the paper.”

Seven minutes later, Abernathy left with the subpoena still in hand.

Twenty minutes later, Abernathy was on his way back to Perrault’s house. Seth Perrault calls his boss, the chief of police, to report that his wife has killed herself. The chief then alerted Putnam County Sheriff Howard Seals. In an interview with “48 Hours,” Sheriff Green told that Perrault alleged that he and his wife Amanda were in bed arguing, “and then all of a sudden she pulled the gun out of the air and shot herself.”

But when Sills entered Perrault’s house and saw how Amanda Perrault’s body was lying on the couple’s bed, he knew something was wrong.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Seals said. “Her body is flat on her back, her legs are nearly brought together, and her arms are folded at her side.” The gun Amanda Perrault shot was allegedly shot with her left foot, and the gun magazine was with her right hand. Seals says that was enough to convince him that Amanda Perrault did not kill herself.

Amanda and Seth Perrault
Amanda and Seth Perrault

Amanda Perrault / Facebook

District Attorney Wright Barksdale told Green he agreed with the sheriff. He told me, ‘This scene is not right. Something does not add “.” The crime scene, as well as other evidence in the case, convinced Barksdale that Amanda Perrault’s death was not a suicide, but a murder.

The evidence in this case included interviews with some of Perrault’s neighbors, who reported that the couple could be heard fighting almost every day and, in their eyes, Seth Perrault had always been the aggressor. A neighbor said that he would sometimes stand by in his yard listening to arguments in case things got really bad. When asked why none of them called the police, the neighbors said it was Seth Perrault I was the police.

Two of Amanda Perrault’s sisters, Angie and Alisha Johnson, told Green they knew things were bad in the marriage, and their sister asked several times if they should call 911. “She would tell you, ‘No, no, don’t call.’ We were just drinking. “…everything will be fine later.” She probably knew her situation was going to get worse.

On January 28, 2020, Amanda’s condition worsened – bad enough that she called 911 to report that her husband had made out with her. Seth Perrault was arrested that day, and Amanda asked her sister, Angie Johnson, to come and get her the next morning. Instead, Amanda attended her husband’s bond session. Before Seth Perrault was released on bail, the judge asked Amanda if she wanted a protection order. She said no, then let her husband come home. Five days later, Amanda died.

A few days after the shooting, the sheriff decided he had enough evidence to obtain a warrant for Seth Perrault’s arrest, and Perrault was arrested. But before the grand jury can hear the evidence and decide if there’s enough for a trial, COVID-19 has battered and shut down the courts. Seth Perrault had been in jail for seven months, awaiting an indictment and possible trial, when the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s medical examiner released Amanda Perrault’s autopsy report, stunning everyone. Dr. Laura D’Arriso concluded that the method of death was suicide.

“I was amazed,” said the sheriff. “I just called my DA. And I said, ‘You won’t believe this. ‘”

“Do you think you might have made a mistake?” Green asked the district attorney. Barksdale replied, “Absolutely not.” Barksdale said there was plenty of evidence pointing to Amanda Perrault’s murder — including the doorbell video of the deputy at Perrault’s front door.

Barksdale said, “In my heart, I think Amanda Perrault was really shot when Abernathy rang the doorbell. I think he was worried someone heard the shots, which is why he didn’t go to the door.”

Darresso is a respected medical examiner, Justine Kinney, one of Seth Perrault’s attorneys, told “48 Hours,” “So, we thought her suicide testimony was basically open and closed.”

“You have to remember; she works for the country,” said Kenny.

But what does the jury think of the report? “It all comes down to forensics,” Kenny said. “Can the state actually prove that Seth pulled the trigger and shot his wife in the head?”

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