Siblings Stand Trial for Plot to Murder Stepfather

Did jealousy drive siblings to murder after their stepfather's 63rd birthday?

ByABC News
July 1, 2009, 9:43 AM

July 1, 2009 -- On July 19 2007, 63-year-old San Diego defense attorney Timothy MacNeil was murdered in broad daylight in the house he shared with his 17-year-old stepdaughter Brae Hansen. Police initially thought it was a robbery gone bad.

Cops who arrived at the scene found MacNeil dead from gunshot wounds to various parts of his body. There seemed to be no signs of a forced entry, and the contents of the family safe were intact. But blood spatter and bullet holes lodged in the wall told the tale of a violent struggle.

Officers found Brae cringing in a corner of the room where MacNeil's body lay. The 17-year-old was visibly shaken. Her hands were crudely bound together with plastic zip ties. She explained to police that she had managed to call 911 by using her tongue.

Watch the full story on "Primetime Crime" TONIGHT at 10 p.m. ET.

Brae gave police a statement in which she described the intruder's height and said he was wearing all black. But she said she didn't see his face, which was covered in a black mask with eyehole cutouts. (Click here to watch Brae under questioning).

A few elements of Brae's story struck veteran Detective J.C. Smith as odd -- but one in particular stood out.

"...To be your own house is a very, a very brutal, violent killing, and to leave a witness to that seemed unusual," Smith told ABC News.

After Brae gave her statement, she was released and sent to the home of MacNeil's brother and sister-in-law. The couple soon sensed something wasn't right; their instincts proved correct.

In a statement given later that evening to another detective, Brae said that MacNeil had called the killer "Nathan" -- the name of her 20-year-old brother, who was away at college in Arizona. Brae quickly backtracked, tried to deny she said it, and then went out of her way to clarify that the killer definitely wasn't her brother.

This change of story, along with other inconsistencies, led police to arrest both Brae and her brother Nathan, who had been living with his grandmother in Arizona.

Police read Brae Hansen her rights that evening and turned on a video camera in the interrogation room. She began to recount an astonishing tale.

"Do you think you should be charged with anything?" asked Smith on the tape.

CLICK HERE to see photos of Brae and Nathan through the years.