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CNN SPECIAL REPORTS

Love & Death in Paradise

Aired January 24, 2015 - 23:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANN BENDER, ACCUSED OF KILLING HUSBAND: I recall it as being a relatively peaceful day.

That evening, we had dinner because we had never talked about guns. It never occurred to me to even think about that. I got into bed first. I dropped off to sleep. I open my eyes because I heard him talking and I saw the gun. He had it pointed at his head. I immediately reared up on my knees and lunged toward him.

I touched his hands and I don't know exactly what happened. But what I do know is I did not shoot my husband.

RANDI KAYE, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Costa Rica, the ultimate tropical destination. Paradise, but within its grand mountainous landscape and beautiful beaches an American, Ann Bender has fought for her freedom, fought the charge that she killed her husband John on January 8, 2010.

Her passport taken, unable to leave the country, trapped. She spoke with me while waiting to stand trial for the second time. Was it murder or suicide? Prosecutors claimed Ann is a cold blooded killer.

Ann is adamant she did not murder her husband.

KAYE: You will be tracked twice on the same charge.

A. BENDER: If there were any merit to this, I could respect it and I could have substance of peace.

KAYE: Peace, Ann Bender has been seeking since she first moved to Costa Rica with John. They had hoped to escape here in the clouds of the jungle. The isolation instead would lead to a descent into madness.

Boracayan del Sur, John and Ann Bender's unique refuge in the beguiling Costa Rican rain forest, the stuff of dreams, their dreams at first.

A. BENDER: I'd never seen a place as beautiful as this.

KAYE: It's remote with their one of a kind 80,000 square foot circular house nicknamed the Bender Dome which Ann and John designed and built from scratch.

A. BENDER: We built it to take advantage of the incredible views. KAYE: Their goals for themselves, a life of quiet isolation and purpose, a bomb to calm their inner demons.

For the refuge, help native wildlife and flowers return and flourish by keeping poachers and farmers off the thousands of acres.

The Venders share their extraordinary home with lots of animals nurturing and rehabilitating some like Toff (ph) the great black hawk, Leo (ph) the jaguarundi, and Lily (ph) the three-toed sloth.

In the kitchen, Ann showed me the sink that became Lily's personal toilet.

A. BENDER: And she would grab this and I would create like an infinity pool of water and that's where she would do her business.

KAYE: Wow.

For Ann, animals have long been important companions, says her brother, Ken Patton.

KEN PATTON, BROTHER OF ANN BENDER: She developed that bond with animals in a very early age.

KAYE: Ken and Ann grew up in Rio de Janeiro.

What was your sister like as a little girl and as a teenager?

PATTON: Very popular in school. She hung out with the cool crowd definitely.

KAYE: Outgoing and popular. But something wasn't quite right.

A. BENDER: When I was in my pre-teens 10, 12, I knew something was weird, something was different.

KAYE: Weird and different turned out to be early signs of what would later become serious mental illness.

A. BENDER: I didn't have any suicide attempts or anything like that until my 20s. That's when it really hit.

KAYE: Ann would be diagnosed as bipolar, a condition characterized by episodes of severe mode swings. She says that might explain her making sometimes rather impulsive decisions like moving to Virginia.

A. BENDER: One morning I woke up and I said I'm done with the city. I want to move to the country. I want to live in a log cabin.

KAYE: Virginia is where she would meet John, the man she'd one day be accused of killing.

And so when you first met him, what was your first impression?

A. BENDER: Animal.

KAYE: Right away?

A. BENDER: Absolutely.

KAYE: That very first meeting, Ann tells John that she is bipolar.

A. BENDER: And he started telling me about his issues with mental illness in his own family and we started talking about that.

KAYE: And about his own history with depression, which his parents Margie and Paul Bender say started at a young age.

PAUL BENDER, FATHER OF JOHN BENDER: John would get depressed, but not frequently.

MARGIE BENDER, MOTHER OF JOHN BENDER: He'd go through tons of act, you know, everything is going wrong and usually it got over quickly.

KAYE: They say that young John enjoyed nature, animals and ...

P. BENDER: He got into minerals, almost immediately he saw in the minerals something that he could trade and make a profit on.

KAYE: John Bender liked trading and was good at it. He was something of a number's wiz and decided to use his math skills in casinos.

P. BENDER: He started playing with Atlantic City and card counting and he did it until they kicked him out. It was a challenge. It wasn't for the money. It was the idea of being able to use your mind to trade profitably.

KAYE: Eventually, John would become a trader at the Philadelphia stock exchange and worked with and mentor Pete DeLisi.

PETE DELISI, JOHN BENDER'S COLLEAGUE AND MENTOR: John did everything to an extreme. So if he believed in something that he felt that's statistically or mathematically had an edge, he would exploit that, you know, as much as big as he could.

KAYE: Part of John's strategy was to have competitors on the trading floor underestimate him.

DELISI: He wore scrubs on the floor because he wanted people to think he was, you know, a goof ball and didn't know what his was doing.

KAYE: But John did know what he was doing and became a multimillionaire. But wealth didn't necessarily bring happiness.

DELISI: I think he was a torture genius. There were times when his depression could last for a period of weeks.

KAYE: John used some profits to move himself and his trading operation here to Golden Mountain Farm in rural Virginia.

KAYE: Was he looking to escape people?

DELISI: I think so, yes. I definitely do. KAYE: Ann, with moving with John just two weeks after they first met. He soon proposed.

A. BENDER: Our wedding was 19 people and all family including the two of us.

M. BENDER: There was the feeling that they were at the same place that they had exactly the same goals and the same values.

KAYE: All they seem to need and want was each other.

A. BENDER: Neither of us liked having people around.

KAYE: So they went even farther away and deep into the remote Costa Rican rainforest, leaving family and friends behind.

And was he looking for the same tranquility that you had in Virginia?

A. BENDER: Yes.

KAYE: Oh, very much so.

Next, the tranquility is shattered.

A. BENDER: When John did not move, they fired between his feet and held the gun up to his head.

KAYE: And to decline into depression, paranoia and what Ann claims were suicide rehearsals.

A. BENDER: Had I been in my right mind, I would have behaved differently.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAYE: It happened in San Isidro, a short drive from Ann and John Bender's refuge in April 2001.

A. BENDER: So we were driving along and John mentioned to me there is this car that is behind us and like just keep following us. We pulled in to where we're going to go. I looked at John and I said this is a kidnapping. He just sat there on the ground because he knew that they wouldn't be able to move him.

KAYE: They were not kidnapping him. They were acting as muscle for a past business associate of John's. John and Ann no longer felt safe in Costa Rica.

A. BENDER: The first thing we did is we left the country. We went to Canada.

KAYE: Three months later, they returned to their home in the rain forest.

A. BENDER: To come back, we have to be safe. So that's when we hired a private security. KAYE: She and John also armed themselves.

A. BENDER: We both got gun permits. I never in a million years would have thought and John said the same thing, I can't believe I'm learning how to shoot a gun. Both of us were very anti-gun.

KAYE: She said soon, their safety was threatened again. When their mountain top sanctuary was invaded in 2002, by armed men.

And how far did they get on to the property? How close to you?

A. BENDER: They got within 15 feet of the corner of our house.

KAYE: Ann says the Boracayan security team scared off the intruders. She and John felt targeted. It was all quite unsettling for two people trying to cope with metal health issues. On top of that, Ann soon contracted Lyme disease. An infection transmitted by ticks that can cause agonizing pain.

A. BENDER: So that's why I walked with the cane. I have permanent nerve damage in my hands and in my feet. The infection passed the blood barriers so it's in my spinal cord and it's in my brain.

KAYE: It was 2002, the beginning of what would become an eight-year downward spiral for both of them, an unraveling that would end with John dead.

A. BENDER: He entered into a very severe depression at the end of 2008. And it was triggered by the death of a particular bird that he was taking care of. Wacker (ph) was his name.

KAYE: When a possum hiding in their kitchen killed Wacker (ph), John was devastated.

A. BENDER: He told me the day after, he said the house has betrayed me.

PAUL MAYER, THE BENDER'S NEIGHBOR: So this will be here for 200 years.

KAYE: Paul Mayer has a tree farm next to the Bender's property.

MAYER: I remember Ann very well from the first meeting. Beautiful woman, hair up in a pony tail, white tank top, tanned, two-way radio on the hip. OK, I'm living next to a Lara Croft Tomb Raider and an investing legend.

KAYE: Mayer also remembers his last get together with the Benders in 2009. Six months before a bullet would end John's life.

MAYER: Ann did not look good. She looked pale. She looks like she had lost weight. And both of them seemed sad or depressed.

A. BENDER: The last six to eight weeks, I was not eating. I was not drinking. I wasn't bathing. I wasn't doing anything to take care of myself. KAYE: John began talking suicide. Ann says she had to repeatedly take part in what she calls dress rehearsals.

A. BENDER: We would gather all the films that were in the house and put them on the table. And he would ask me what do I do with these. I had tried to commit suicide before myself and so I would tell him this is what you do but it tell that doing these things would calm him down. And he would feel better.

KAYE: Practicing suicide to calm him down. It seems an absurd notion, almost unbelievable. What about another extraordinary claim that to get John through another day, she would do anything, anything.

Including let him think he could cure her by injecting her with water. Gathered from a stream on their property.

A. BENDER: He was absolutely psychotic.

KAYE: He really believed this could help you?

A. BENDER: Yes, absolutely. I knew that it was something that was allowing him to survive another day.

KAYE: Dr. Arturo Lizano Vincent is Ann's psychiatrist.

DR. ARTURO LIZANO-VINCENT, ANN BENDER'S PSYCHIATRIST: I thought that they must have been both psychotic.

KAYE: And in that case, they feed off each other's manic moments?

LIZANO-VINCENT: Yeah.

KAYE: Shared craziness.

LIZANO-VINCENT: Shared craziness yeah.

A. BENDER: I know that there's definitely something to the concept of the two of us having gone mad together.

KAYE: Ann was also physically deteriorating. She said that time, she was too weak to walk. During this time Ann flew to the U.S. on a trip for their gem's business. She says they've been buying and stockpiling precious stones as an investment. While she was gone, Ann received a startling email from an angry and despondent John.

He wrote "I wish I were, dead. I deserve to die, I feel so utterly ill that there aren't even words. I haven't felt this bad in years.

A. BENDER: I could read in the intensity of his words and in the conversation we had over the phone, that he had passed over a certain line that he had never passed before. And I was terrified.

KAYE: Two months later, she sent an email to John's parents telling them "For the first time in 11 years, we find ourselves in the unfortunate position of both being depressed at the same time." Two days, later John was dead. Coming up. Was it murder? Suicide or an accident?

A. BENDER: It hurts, that I will never forget his rattling breath that I had read about heard about.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAYE: Ann Bender remembers all too well. The joy before the madness of January 8, 2010. Here, inside her home, she took me up the elevator leading to her bedroom. The place where her husband died.

It's hard for you to come in here?

A. BENDER: Just a little tough.

KAYE: Though she still finds it hard to be in this room, Ann was willing to take me step by step through the final hours she and John spent here.

How did you spend your last day? What did you do together?

A. BENDER: I recall it as being a relatively peaceful day. He was much calmer, I wasn't feeling so much of the angst coming from him. We watched the sunset. We did all of the positive things that we always did. That evening, we had dinner and then we played the video game we usually played.

KAYE: Ann and John played the post-apocalyptic action game Fallout 3, killing super mutated creatures as a way to relax.

A. BENDER: I was feeling that he was more at peace and so I was more present in the moment for those few hours that evening. And I wasn't quite as watchful as I have been before.

KAYE: So did you finish the video game and both come upstairs together?

A. BENDER: That night, I wasn't able to walk. So he would carry me to the elevator.

KAYE: Ann says they followed their nightly routine. John turned out the lights and they got into bed. Ann says she began to doze off.

A. BENDER: I was lying on my belly, face down. My head facing towards him and I opened my eyes because I heard him talking.

KAYE: So what was he was saying?

A. BENDER: He referred to the may suicide attempts where I have been in bed next to him and he said something to the effect of knowing how it feels to wake up with your spouse dead.

KAYE: Though it was dark, Ann says she could see that John had a gun pointed at his head. Ann says she took action almost instinctively.

A. BENDER: I reared up on my knees, lunged towards him. And in the process of putting my hands or hand to his. We felt toward each other. And he had the gun loaded and cocked. I managed, but we fell towards each other and the gun went off.

KAYE: A single gunshot entered the back of John's head. Ann would watch as her husband drifted away.

A. BENDER: I heard that sound. I'll never forget his rattling breath that I had read about, heard about.

KAYE: Ann says she walked around to John's side of the bed. Held his hand and stroke his arm.

A. BENDER: As I was kneeling next to him, all of the blood started to fall through the mattress and was pooling at my feet.

KAYE: Ann grabbed the radio and called for help. The head of Boracayan security Jose Fabio Pizarro was one of the first to respond.

KAYE: When you first arrived here at the house, what do you see?

JOSE FABIO PIZARRO, BORACAYAN HEAD SECURITY: John was in his bed. He was lying there lifeless. He was dead. I give all my attention to Ann who is very upset. She hugged me saying, I tried to stop it. I tried to stop it, but I couldn't.

KAYE: Ann says she called her older brother Ken Patton to deliver the news.

PATTON: Phone rang. I think it was about 2.00 o'clock in the morning Eastern Time.

A. BENDER: I called him and I don't remember what I said.

PATTON: The first thing she said to me was he finally did it.

KAYE: The police arrived and began processing the scene. Eventually, Ann was taken to a police station.

A. BENDER: When I got there, the first thing they did was test my hands.

KAYE: For gunpowder residue?

A. BENDER: And I remember they unbagged my hands and they were commenting about stuff that was under my finger nails.

KAYE: What did you tell police that night?

A. BENDER: What I remembered?

KAYE: Did you ever tell them "I didn't shoot him? I didn't kill him?"

A. BENDER: Yes I said I didn't. I said I lunged for the gun and the gun went off. KAYE: After being questioned, Ann was released. Pizarro then urged her to go to the hospital. Because he says she was emotionally and physically frail.

A. BENDER: Pizarro said to me "You need to go to the hospital". And I argue with him I said "No I want to go home", yes you need to go the hospital.

KAYE: Ann would spend the next six months at the hospital in San Jose, coming up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The cause of death was homicide.

KAYE: Prosecutors don't buy Ann's story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ann intended or had planned to kill John Bender that night of January 8 2010.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KAYE: The gory scene of her husband's death earlier that day and years of struggling with mental illness had taken their toll on Ann Bender's mind and body.

She was brought to this hospital in San Jose. Ann's long-time psychiatrist Dr. Arturo Lizano-Vincent was the first to see her.

KAYE: How would you describe her mental condition when you first saw her after John's death?

LIZANO-VINCENT: Flat is the way we call it in psychiatry.

KAYE: Even blank stare?

LIZANO-VINCENT: Yeah, blank stare because her psychosis was monumental.

KAYE: Ann's physician Hugo Villegas found her shockingly frail and thin, weighing only 66 pounds.

DR. HUGO VILLEGAS, PHYSICIAN: Ann was severely malnourished with pockets of pus and abscesses on her skin.

KAYE: Treating her would not be easy.

VILLEGAS: She was in this trans-like state not cooperating too much in terms of what her needs were, how she was feeling.

KAYE: Though Ann was in no condition to communicate, she says the police wouldn't leave her alone.

A. BENDER: I do remember police officers coming in to the room and they were unnecessary. It was cruel.

KAYE: Give me one example. A. BENDER: Having four police officers walk in with their guns full of weapons to make sure that I was still there. That was not necessary to do everyday for two weeks.

KAYE: Ann had plenty to be concerned about. Lead Prosecutor Edgar Ramirez says the forensic evidence was pointing to murder and Ann's guilt. There was the single shot to the back of John's head, a spot he says makes Ann story impossible.

EDGAR RAMIREZ, LEAD PROSECUTOR: The only wound Mr. Bender had is located on the right occipital region, shot like this.

Experience tells us that when a person is going to commit suicide, they would shoot themselves in a central location, specifically here, here, and here, or directly to the heart.

KAYE: What about the position of John's body?

RAMIREZ: The positioning of John Bender's body when found shows that he was in a fetal position asleep when shot.

KAYE: No gun powder residue found on John's hands.

RAMIREZ: The gun powder residue only appears on Ann, in her hands and in her clothes.

KAYE: But forensic tests found no significant residue on Ann's hands. And Ann's attorney Fabio Oconitrillo says the residue on her clothes does not prove she fired the gun.

FABIO OCONITRILLO, ANN BENDER'S ATTORNEY: If someone shoots a fire arm, the gun powder residue can end up coating another person's clothes.

KAYE: What would have been Ann Bender's motive for killing her husband?

RAMIREZ: They were having problems because Ann was frequently taking trips out of the country to buy precious stones and jewels.

KAYE: Jewels found around the couple's mansion during the investigation. Authorities removed them from the house by the suitcase load. Ann says the gem business was not a source of contention.

A. BENDER: It was a collection that we wanted to make. We had both always loved gems and minerals since we were young. To him, it was a sound investment.

KAYE: Not only was it a sound financial investment, but Ann says John bought her the stones also as a way to cope with their mental illnesses.

A. BENDER: Whenever I was acutely ill, John always wanted to buy me stuff. And so he started buying, at first just, you know, small things like beads. These are sapphire, a particular type of sapphire that changes color based on the light.

KAYE: John did more than surround Ann with precious jewels. He also bought her hundreds of beautiful replicas of stained glass tiffany lamps.

A. BENDER: And we both loved art glass. The tiffany lamps were something that we just both fell in love with them.

KAYE: How many did you have?

A. BENDER: 550. Seeing clouds roll through your living room with the reproduction tiffany lamps lit up, everyday it was a beautiful experience and ever-changing.

KAYE: Still beautiful on the outside. Inside, Ann's home is now dark, cold, and empty. Empty because police confiscated almost everything of value including the colorful jewels and lamps she adored, even the kitchen appliances.

A. BENDER: Two refrigerators and one industrial size freezer. Two ranges, I had two, one with six burners, one with four. The refrigerator and the stove top, why were those things taken?

RAMIREZ: The money used to purchase those things may have come from elicit sources. I mean, in this case we also found that the Bender's had bank accounts and tax savings like Grand Cayman for example.

KAYE: An allegation of tax evasion that John and Ann smuggled jewels into Costa Rica.

How do you feel about the accusations that you and John were involved in some type of illegal activities?

A. BENDER: It's an absolute fabrication. We were doing nothing wrong.

KAYE: Prosecutor Ramirez and Ann seemed to agree on one thing. Both believed mental illness lead to John's death, but for different reasons.

Ramirez suspects Ann had a psychotic break.

RAMIREZ: Both of them were bipolar and obviously had personality disorders. But in Ann's case, she knew what she was doing and planned to kill him that night.

KAYE: Ann blames John's death on his severe depression.

A. BENDER: Three months before he died, he was talking about killing himself everyday. Everyday.

KAYE: Coming up, Ann goes from suspected murderess to defendant.

A. BENDER: I was officially charged August 3rd of 2011.

KAYE: And discovers her fortune maybe gone. A. BENDER: I'm absolutely broke.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

A. BENDER: I was in shock when I arrived in the hospital.

KAYE: Ann Bender's husband John was dead. And the enormous home they once shared in the rainforest was empty.

A. BENDER: The main reason I didn't live at the refuge initially was health reasons. Here, I'm 10 minutes away from the hospital.

KAYE: Ann moved hours away to this small city apartment in San Jose. Though no longer confined to a hospital room, she'd soon discover her freedom had limits. Ann surrendered her passport as prosecutors continued to investigate. Eventually, they concluded she was responsible for John's death.

A. BENDER: I was officially charged August 3rd of 2011. So, it's almost two years and 20 months later.

KAYE: 20 months after John's death, Ann then hired Fabio Oconitrillo to take over her defense.

OCONITRILLO: She wasn't satisfied with the attorneys that we're representing her during that year and a half.

KAYE: Ann had began to question the honesty of Juan de Dios Alvarez, the man who would hire those attorneys.

A. BENDER: Something was wrong, but I did not know exactly what.

KAYE: Alvarez had played an important role when Bender's realizing their dream. Helping them acquire dozens of properties that make the refuge. He's also the man they turn to when they decided to funnel most of their fortune about $70 million into a trust which he established and controlled.

A. BENDER: The purpose of setting it up was to ensure that the refuge would have a structure that would protect it after we were gone.

KAYE: In the event of John dying first, it was also meant to provide financial security for Ann. But that isn't how things went according to Milton Jimenez, an Alvarez employee who helps manage the trust.

MILTON JIMENEZ, JUAN DIOS DE ALVAREZ'S EMPLOYEE: After John Bender died, the first thing Mr. Alvarez did was take away Ann's credit card. He declared himself the only heir of the trust. He said that trust no longer existed and then now every thing belongs to him.

KAYE: Jimenez says he was so disturbed by what he calls Alvarez's lying ways and soaring ego that he left the company.

A. BENDER: I found out that he had quit and I got in touch with him. He told me verbally some things. And things fell together.

KAYE: Jimenez had accused Alvarez of stealing from the trust.

JIMENEZ: Almost around the same time the trust was created, Mr. Alvarez began investing the funds into personal projects and paying for personal expenses. His lifestyle changed completely.

KAYE: Ann sued Alvarez for fraud. And gain access to his files on the trust. The case is pending. From what you saw, how much money do you estimate Mr. Alvarez stole from that trust?

JIMENEZ: By the time I left the office, I calculated $20 million.

KAYE: In the end, Jimenez believes Alvarez wanted and put away so that he could get away with embezzling millions.

JIMENEZ: What he wanted the most was for Ann to go to jail. There's no way he wanted anything else.

KAYE: How has all of this affected you? What's been the impact?

BENDER: I'm beyond upset in terms of the degree of betrayal and how long it was going on.

KAYE: You're basically broke, right?

A. BENDER: I'm absolutely broke.

OCONITRILLO: I requested that Mr. Alvarez be removed as a trustee. The court named a substitute to take his place.

KAYE: We've reached out to Juan de Dios Alvarez, but he's declined to speak with CNN. In his e-mail he says, he's following the advice of his attorneys in not giving us an interview. With the civil suit and potentially a criminal trial against Alvarez in motion, Ann still had her own criminal trial to worry about.

Next, Ann goes on trial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ann entered the room and went in like this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

A. BENDER: I did not shoot my husband.

KAYE: You can tell me right here and now, you did not kill John Bender.

BENDER: I did not shoot him. I tried to stop it.

KAYE: On January 14th, 2013, three years after John Bender's death in a court room in San Isidro, Costa Rica, Ann Bender went on trial charged with murdering her husband.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you touch the gun?

A. BENDER: No, his hands were too big.

KAYE: Her lawyer asked about her claim that she saw John holding a gun to his head.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you remember if it was pointing at himself with one hand or with both hands?

A. BENDER: I just grabbed both his hands.

KAYE: On cross examination, Ann told the prosecutor that she lost her grip on John's hands, started falling back and the gun went off.

On the fifth day of trial, testimony ended and closing arguments began. The prosecutor demonstrated how easy it was to shoot the gun.

And he calls John's death a cold blooded killing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The shot was at the distance and not on contact and according to the (inaudible) Ann entered the room with the gun and went like this.

KAYE: Three judges would decide Ann's faith. If found guilty, she face a sentence of up to 25 years in prison but most likely she'd be committed to a mental institution instead.

A. BENDER: As soon as the judges start, I was looking at them. I was just -- I waited and I remember now just being one solid (inaudible).

KAYE: Before rendering their decision, the judges cited problems with the investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An important evidence was absent, for example, technical test on the trajectory of the bullet. In analysis of (inaudible) found on the body of the victim, and the blood on the pillows.

KAYE: Moments away from the verdict, Ann says she never felt more alone in her life.

A. BENDER: Fabio reached behind and he held my hand. And I remember just being so grateful for that contact.

KAYE: Because there is reasonable doubt, the judge's decision not guilty. Defense attorney Fabio Oconitrillo believes this John Bender e-mail was key to Ann's acquittal.

OCONITRILLO: In an e-mail John sent Ann a few months before he past away, he said that he wanted to kill himself and everyone around him after discovering issues with his finances.

KAYE: Issues like getting money from the man who managed Bender's financial trust. John wrote, "I am such a total (inaudible) loser for ever getting involved with a total scumbags."

For Ann, the verdict was relief and vindication.

You must have thought it was over?

A. BENDER: Yeah, I thought it was over. KAYE: But it wasn't. In Costa Rica, such a verdict can be appealed. So, defendant can be tried twice for the same crime. And that's what prosecutor Edgar Ramirez did.

Why did your office appeal the decision and in what basis?

RAMIREZ: The decision took us by surprise and after analyzing it, we did not agree with the court's assessment of the case evidence.

KAYE: Prosecutors won their appeal, and a new trial got underway this month.

A. BENDER: It was devastating to know that I have to go through that again. This is a travesty in terms of the use of the justice system.

KAYE: Friends and family including John's parents do not believe his death was premeditated murder.

P. BENDER: Absolutely not.

M. BENDER: It is just so impossible, the moon could be made of green cheese actually before something like that. And not only did Ann not have a motive to kill him, I know she adored him and could not possibly benefit by his death.

KAYE: Months before Ann would learn her faith, I asked about her future. If you are again acquitted at the retrial and it ends there...

A. BENDER: Yes.

KAYE: ...what do you want to do with the rest of your life? Where do you go from here?

A. BENDER: I know what John wanted me to do with the refuge. And a lot of that will depend on the resources that are left. He wanted me to start helping people with mental illnesses and to create an aspect of the refuge that would allow for retreats for people with mental illnesses.

KAYE: What do you want for you?

A. BENDER: I want peace for John because I know he's not at peace.

KAYE: John Bender's ashes are in an urn near what Ann says was his favorite view looking out from the refuge. A refuge she's trying to save, a paradise that will never be the same.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)