Natalie Antonetti

Natalie Antonetti

October 09, 2020

"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear."

-C.S. Lewis

It was the 13th of October 1985. A Sunday. Thirty eight year old Natalie Antonetti lived with her sixteen year old son Johnny Goudie and her roommate Susan Otten in Austin, Texas, United States. 

The night before, the 12th of October, Natalie went to the Steamboat and a club called Toulouse with friends. She returned around 2.30am and fell asleep on the couch. Susan went to bed. Susan got up at 4.40am to get a glass of water and Natalie was still asleep on the couch. 

Natalie Antoinette Johnny Goudie

Natalie Antonetti and her son Johnny Goudie

A short while later, around an hour or so, Susan, who had been asleep in bed, awoke to hear thumping sounds and moaning. Susan heard a door shut so she went into the living room to check on Natalie. She saw Natalie sitting on the couch holding her head. At first, Susan did not even know it was Natalie as she looked unrecognizable and was completely covered in blood.

Susan woke Johnny and called 911. Johnny spoke to Natalie and asked her what happened but she was unable to speak or answer any questions. He later told 48 hours that there was a frightened look in her eyes. The ambulance arrived and Johnny asked her to give him a kiss. She did. Natalie then slipped into a coma at hospital. She was in a coma for eighteen days. 

Natalie had suffered from blunt force trauma and the Medical Examiner determined that it was consistent with having been attacked with a club or small bat.

Natalie Antonetti

Natalie Antonetti

The attack caused skull fractures and brain contusions which led to Natalie being in a coma. Natalie did not recover. She died after the withdrawal of life support.

Everyone who knew Natalie was shocked. Natalie, Johnny and Susan lived in an apartment in an apartment complex and Natalie was well known and liked in the area. She stood out due to her striking good looks but it was her relaxed style, friendly nature and love of music that made both men and women gravitate towards her. She enjoyed having friends over for dinner, listening to music and helped to style and cut women's hair. 

Police discovered that there was no sign of any forced entry. Nothing was missing from the apartment. Natalie was not sexually assaulted and there were no defensive wounds on her body. It seemed like it was a brutal yet targeted attack. It was a vicious assault and police believed Natalie was struck in the head with a baseball bat over and over again. Natalie's own bloody handprints were all over the house. They believed the attack took place in a short space of time. The attacker entered, beat up Natalie in a violent assault and left immediately afterwards. 

Police could not find any enemies or anyone who wanted to cause Natalie harm.

The same morning that Natalie was attacked, another 911 call was made. Donn Chelli made that call. He lived in the same apartment complex as Natalie and he called to report an incident. He saw a man outside looking into windows. He approached him and the man told him he was the second person who had bothered him that night. A composite sketch of the man was created based on Donn's description. He described him as a tall, husky man with long, blond hair. Donn told police that the man was holding a bat.

Police asked Donn to attend a police lineup to see if he recognized any of the men in the lineup. Donn identified John Martin "Marty" Odem. Marty lived in the same apartment complex as Donn and Natalie. Shortly after Natalie's murder, in 1986, he was convicted of breaking into another woman’s apartment. He raped her. Marty was known to carry a baseball bat at times and his ex wife claimed he was abusive and sexually violent. 

Police questioned Marty in relation to Natalie's murder but he said that it was not him. Police did not have evidence to bring him to Trial for Natalie's murder but Marty was in prison for the other crime so Natalie's case went cold. 

More than twenty years after Natalie's murder, in 2007, the Austin Police Department received an anonymous call. The call was later traced to Rebecca Davis who said that he husband Dennis Davis was responsible for Natalie's death.

Dennis Davis

Dennis Davis 

Dennis Davis was a studio owner and engineer and well known in the music business. He worked with big stars in Nashville such as Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. So when police were provided with his name, he didn't seem like an obvious suspect. But he knew Natalie. He had even dated her at one point. Johnny knew him too. 

According to Dennis, he had nothing to do with Natalie's murder. He told police that the night Natalie was murdered, he was with his girlfriend at the time at his house. His girlfriend was Amparo Garcia-Crow. He said that he got a phone call from a friend who told him about Natalie and he went straight to the apartment complex. When he got there, Natalie was in the ambulance. 

Police spoke to Amparo Garcia-Crow. She told police that she had dated Dennis but she was not with Dennis that night. She said that she kept detailed journals over the years and there was no mention in the journals that she was with him that night. According to Amparo, they broke up just three days before Natalie's murder.

A woman called Linda Bless told police that there were two sides of Dennis. He was very nice at times but there were other times when he was jealous and violent. His ex girlfriend Gelinda told police that he confessed to her that he had killed Natalie. 

Furthermore, before Natalie's murder, Dennis left a note for her when he discovered she had a new boyfriend and it said:

"Natalie, you can go to hell. And take Doug with you. If you don't have the brains and self-respect to see through his bulls**t, then f**k you. D.D."

In 2009, Dennis was arrested and charged with murder. 

It was the Prosecution's case that Dennis entered Natalie's apartment in the early hours on the 13th of October 1985. It was their case that he split her skull as she lay on the couch in her apartment. He did this by beating her with a baseball bat. 

The Prosecution built their case around their belief that Dennis was a violent man who was known to have a temper and had physically assaulted women in the past. To prove this, they called a number of witnesses to testify. 
 
Gelinda Mudgett testified. She dated Dennis from 1987 to 1989. She said that one night after a night out, Dennis curled up in a ball on the porch and said:
“I didn't mean to do it. I didn't mean to her hurt her. I didn't mean to kill Natalie.”
Gelinda said the he killed her because Natalie was pregnant with his baby. She also claimed he was physically abusive to her during their relationship. 
 
Susan Otten also testified. She said that she saw a bat at Dennis's house after Natalie's murder. This was despite Dennis claiming that he did not own a bat. 
 
It was the Defense's case that there was no physical evidence against Dennis whatsoever. They told the Jury that Donn saw a man with a bat at the apartment complex around the time Natalie was murdered and his description of that man did not match Dennis's description. 
Dennis Davis
 
Dennis Davis at the police station
 
The Jury heard a recording of a 911 call made by Donn Chelli. The call was made minutes after Susan called 911 about the attack. Donn claimed he was walking back to his apartment from a  7–11 store and he saw a man looking into his apartment window.
 
He said that the man was carrying a bat but the description of the man did not match Dennis's physical description. A composite drawing was made at the time but by the time Dennis's Trial began, it was lost. 
 
Dennis maintained he was with his ex girlfriend at the time but he admitted that he left the note on Natalie's door but denied killing her.  The Defense referred to Gelinda's testimony. They said that in her pretrial conversations with police, she said that she could not recall what Dennis told her. Furthermore, Medical Records showed that Natalie was not pregnant.
 

Even though his wife was the person who alerted police to Dennis, at the time of his Trial, she claimed she was mad at him when she did it. She recanted her statement.

Rebecca said that Dennis had previously told her that Natalie was too trusting, never locked her doors, and that one night somebody broke into her apartment and hit her on the head.  He told her that he believed someone at her apartment complex attacked her. She claimed she never heard him confess to Natalie's murder. 

Dennis did not testify. But the Jury read the statement he gave to police a day after Natalie was attacked. He said he dated her on and off for nine months but they were now just friends.

Natalie Antonetti

Natalie Antonetti

According to Dennis's statement, he saw Natalie on the afternoon of the 12th of October and she seemed fine. He said that he spent Saturday night at his house with Amparo Garcia. He received a call from Susan at around 5.30 am or 6 am the morning of the 13th of October. He said that Susan was in hysterics and was screaming that:

“there was blood everywhere and something was wrong with Natalie.”

It had been reported that Dennis knew how many times Natalie had been struck with the bat but he claimed that he only knew this because Susan told him about the sounds she heard the morning of the attack. 
 

The Jury found Dennis guilty of murder and he was sentenced to 36 years in prison. 

Two years later, his conviction was overturned and a new Trial was ordered. The Appeals Court believed that Dennis's lawyer was ineffective and did not submit evidence about another suspect. The Jury heard nothing at all about Marty Odem.  

The Appeals Court noted that Marty's roommate told police that Marty told him he met a woman from apartment 188 in October 1985. Apartment 188 was Natalie's apartment. The roommate claimed that Marty told him the woman invited him into her apartment. They had wine and sex but afterwards, she refused to have any contact with him. 
 
The roommate asked police if a bat was used in the attack. He said that Marty had one but the roommate could not find it. He said that the night before the attack,the Saturday night, he was out with Marty. They were at a club on the same street that Natalie was on.  The roommate claimed he dropped a friend home at midnight and he did not see Marty again until after Natalie's attack. 
 
When police questioned Marty, he claimed he had no idea who she was but then said he saw her on walks to the laundromat. He failed a polygraph test and the test examiner said he was 100% certain he was responsible for Natalie's death. 
Natalie's son Johnny Goudie and his band Liars and Saints
 
Dennis was released on bond and his lawyers filed a motion to dismiss the indictment for failing to comply with the speedy trial requirement. The Prosecution filed a motion to dismiss the case pending further investigation.That was declined and Dennis's lawyers filed an amended motion to dismiss the indictment on speedy trial grounds.

Judge Wahlberg granted the motion and dismissed the case. The Prosecution appealed and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed Judge Wahlberg and reinstated the indictment. However, in 2018 the Prosecution dismissed the case against Dennis Davis. 

 



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