Dec. 3, 2008 -- During the summer, the murder trial of an ex- husband scorned captivated the city of Newton, Mass. Jim Brescia, 46, was convicted of hiring a hit man to kill Ed Schiller -- estranged wife Stacey Rock's old beau -- and sentenced to life in prison.
Schiller, then 38, and Rock, now 40, were high school sweethearts who had rekindled their romance after Stacey's divorce from Jim Brescia was underway and he had moved out of their home. In her first interview, Rock told "20/20" co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas that she never wanted to believe that Brescia was involved in Schiller's death.
"I couldn't allow myself to believe that," she said, crying. "I mean, it's horrible, and you know, devastating, that Ed's gone. But it can't be because of me, you know?"
Even during her marriage to Brescia, Rock says she had feelings for her first love. "Ed was always on my mind," she told Vargas. "I always loved Ed. I started having dreams of him."
When the two reconnected, Rock said her ex-husband was jealous, but she didn't think he would harm Schiller.
Looking back, Rock said that she "should've known that if he could get away with it, he would have no trouble doing it."
She said that seeing her ex-husband during his trial, "He's nobody that I knew. There were points where I wanted to levitate, and go hit him."
Stacey Rock on Marriage: 'What Have I Done?'
One day in January 2006, Schiller arrived for work at his office around 7:30 a.m. and parked, as he did every day, in the garage next to the office. Moments later he was shot execution-style as he sat in his car.
The murder stunned Newton, a city of 80,000 people that had just been named "the safest city in America." Beyond the shock, there was heartbreak for Rock.
"I had just spoken to Ed on the phone, and I imagine that it happened right after he hung up," she said.
The two first met when he was a senior in high school and she was a sophomore.
"He was just my soul mate," Rock told Vargas. "I just remember seeing him and being like, yeah, love at first sight."
In 1992 the two started living together, but friends say the relationship imploded into bitter jealousies and passionate arguments. Eventually Rock asked Schiller to move out.
"He was very bitter about how they ended their relationship, and Stacey moved on, and I don't think Ed was ever able to really do that," said brother Carl Schiller.
Rock passed through a series of jobs including receptionist, waitress and bartender. While tending bar at the Wayland Country Club she met Brescia, nine years her senior. She said that she found security and safety with an older man and that the age difference "was definitely one of the things that he pushed, and I believed."
"He was persistent," Rock said. " Kind of charming, funny. He seemed really nice."
After a very brief courtship, Rock became pregnant, married Brescia and settled into a comfortable suburban life with her husband, who was a successful middle manager at a defense contractor. The couple soon had three children, but Rock says she felt both intimidated and ignored by her husband.
"He worked a lot," she said. "Money was very, very important to him. He was a little quiet and sullen, very set in his ways."
She says she soon had regrets.
"I can remember asking him why he didn't kiss me, you know," she said. "He wasn't very affectionate. I didn't feel like he liked me. I remember going, 'oh my gosh, what have I done?"
During this time, Rock sent a postcard and then a letter to Schiller.
"I just wanted him to know that I love him," she said, crying. "And I called him. ... The first time I heard his voice, I was just so in love. And he loved me still."
Did Jealousy Lead to Murder?
Rock says that she didn't immediately tell Schiller how unhappy she was in her marriage or that she'd considered getting a divorce. But two years later, she got the courage to go through with divorce proceedings. Brescia, she says, bitterly moved out and she and Schiller began dating.
"The general consensus of Ed seeing Stacey again was not a positive one," said Carl Schiller. "Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of Ed's friends would've told him to abort that mission as quickly as he possibly could. We had watched Ed be really hurt over Stacey and none of us wanted to see that happen again."
Carl Schiller says he was devastated when police informed him of his brother's death.
"He came on and said your brother's deceased. I think I swore at him," Carl Schiller said. "I remember shouting, 'What do I do? What do I do now?'"
Soon after the murder, a red Ford Taurus that witnesses said they had seen at the scene of the killing was reportedly traced to Scott Foxworth, an ex-convict who had served time for second degree murder.
Police also found a discarded phone card purchased by Brescia, revealing a series of calls between the two, leading police to believe Brescia had hired Foxworth to kill Schiller.
Both were arrested in April 2006 and authorities painted the picture of a contract killing. Foxworth, they say, was the trigger man, in it for the money; he goes on trial next year and has pleaded not guilty.
Brescia, authorities say, was a jealous husband who wanted his ex-wife's boyfriend out of the picture. His trial began in June and Rock was a crucial witness.
"I remember one time when we were standing in my room and there was a picture of Ed and I said 'That's the love of my life,'" Rock testified.
The prosecution argued that Brescia had been jealous of his wife's relationship with Schiller for years and that he snapped when he learned that the two had been spending time with his children.
"I remember him saying that Ed would be lucky if their paths didn't cross because he didn't know who he was dealing with, and that if we ended up together it wouldn't be good for his health," Rock testified.
The real smoking gun came with Nancy Campbell, a co-worker of Brescia's at the defense contractor Raytheon. The prosecution said Campbell put Brescia in touch with Foxworth, the alleged trigger man, who was an old boyfriend of hers.
Two Sides Present Cases
In a case lacking any physical evidence, Campbell's testimony was crucial and she was granted immunity to give it. While on the stand she said the plans for Schiller escalated from a threatening warning to murder.
Beyond Campbell's testimony, prosecutors also presented detailed phone records, charting what they say was a murder plot being hatched between Brescia and Foxworth.
Authorities put together a timeline of 81 phone calls between the two, many of the calls made from pay phones. Police placed Brescia near those pay phones by examining records of calls to other people he'd made on his cell phone.
J.W. Carney, Brescia's defense attorney, said there were no hard facts to support the allegations and said there was no reason for the defendant to feel jealous of Schiller because Rock and Brescia had, for a time around Christmas, been living together again.
For the defense, creating an image of a potentially reunited family would eliminate Brescia's motive, but Rock says she never suggested to Brescia that they might reconcile.
"Never once did I ever tell him anything had changed," she told Vargas.
The defense also introduced testimony that pointed to a completely different reason for the murder: rumors of illegal drug use by Schiller.
Campbell testified that Foxworth told her he hadn't killed Schiller, but that the victim's use of illegal drugs had caught up with him.
The defense strategy was to portray Brescia as a concerned father. They say he didn't want the victim harmed, just warned to stay away from the Brescia children because of Schiller's alleged drug use.
The defense position was that Brescia had only wanted Foxworth to warn Schiller to stay away from the children, and that Foxworth took things further himself, or that someone else did the killing.
'I Need to Move On'
After five hours of deliberation, the jury reached a verdict. But as the verdict was read, the man found guilty of the murder of Schiller was nowhere in the courtroom.
Brescia's lawyer said his client was rushed to the hospital the night before, the victim of a stroke that had started when he was on the stand testifying. His attorney now says because an oncoming stroke impaired his testimony, Brescia has filed a notice of appeal and wants a new trial.
Rock called that theory "just another last-ditch attempt to get away with murder."
"That's Jim," she said. "Classic Jim Brescia. It's no stroke. It's him."
Middlesex County District Attorney Gerry Leone said the office doesn't doubt Brescia had a stroke, but says it doesn't change anything.
"We have no reason to believe Mr. Brescia didn't have a medical issue, but nothing we have seen or heard would compromise the verdict," Leone said.
Two jurors concurred that the stroke would not have been a factor in their deliberations.
"If he, indeed, had a stroke on Friday it would not have ... a bearing on my decision for the trial," juror Rich Poirier said. "It wouldn't have affected the outcome of the trial."
"I don't think it would have made one bit of difference," said Steve Robillard. "I mean what's it going to change? The phone records? You know, the money. The lies. It's not going to change anything. Ed Schiller wouldn't be dead if it wasn't for Jim Brescia."
Three days after being found guilty, Brescia was out of the hospital and back in the courtroom, receiving a life sentence without chance of parole.
"Proving guilt is all well and good, but it doesn't bring Ed back," said Carl Schiller. "I don't feel like we lost Ed, I really feel like Ed was stolen from us. [Jim Brescia] robbed us of a really great guy who was a real positive part of life. And of our world. And we really miss him a lot."
Rock says she needs to move on from the ordeal.
"I can't hate him, because that would just take everything from me. There's not enough of that, and I can't do that with my children. I need to move on, and I need to live, and I'm not going to let what killed Ed take me."