Published on May 20, 1998
Author: LEIGH DYER, Staff Writer Section: METRO 393 Words, Page: 3C
One of Charlotte's best-known murder mysteries reached a national audience Tuesday night when NBC's "Dateline" broadcast the story of the 1990 throat-slashing murder of Kim Thomas.
The segment told the eight-year tale of investigation, suspicion and accusation, calling it a mystery "that still baffles an entire town."
Prominently featured was Dr. Ed Friedland, Thomas' husband, who was indicted in 1994 on a murder charge in Thomas' death. Prosecutors dismissed the charge in 1995 for lack of evidence.
"I'm angry because I have been on trial for seven years and the people who are responsible for this mess . . . all those people have had a free ride. . . . I want accountability," Friedland said on the show.
Friedland has sued the city of Charlotte and four police investigators in the case, claiming they maliciously prosecuted him and ignored another suspect, Marion Anthony Gales. Gales, 35, had a lengthy criminal record, including a history of break-ins near Thomas' home.
City Attorney Mac McCarley declined late Tuesday to give a detailed response to the show. "We'd like to tell our side of the story, but because of the threat of additional lawsuits against the city by Dr. Friedland, we can't," he said. "We're looking forward to the opportunity to present this case in court, when all the evidence is going to come out."
A trial date in that lawsuit is at least a year away, he said.
In March 1996, Friedland sued Gales for wrongful death, saying he wanted to clear his own name and show that police botched the investigation.
In October, a civil jury agreed with Friedland. It decided that Gales killed Thomas and awarded Friedland $8.6 million in damages.
A month later, the judge ruled that the case was filed too late and threw out the judgment. Friedland is appealing.
After the "Dateline" show, Thomas' father, Lou Thomas, said he was disappointed in the show's presentation of the case.
"Dateline" didn't say that Friedland has refused to answer investigators' questions since shortly after the slaying, and that Friedland has refused to answer the Thomas family's questions as well, Thomas said.
Thomas also spoke of his bitterness at losing visitation rights to his grandson, who was an infant when Kim Thomas was killed.
"I wish I knew who killed my daughter," Thomas said. "All I know is there's circumstantial evidence against Dr. Friedland and Marion Gales."