“Dateline” (NBC) first broadcast “Sins of the Father” was on July 30, 2001 at 10/9 p.m. It garnered 11.5 million TV viewers overall. The final TV rating was 8.3 with a 14 share of the audience in the 10 o’clock hour. The second broadcast was on March 19, 2002 at 10/9 p.m. It grabbed 10.4 million TV viewers overall. The final TV rating was 7.8 with a 13 share of the audience in the 10 o’clock hour.
“Dateline” is an investigative news program that follows crime & murder in the United States. “Sins of the Father” was reported & narrated by Rob Stafford.
A Miccosukee (Florida) tribal member named Kirk Douglas Billie was convicted of second degree murder & sentenced to life in prison in 2001. He was charged in the 1997 drowning deaths of his two sons named Kurt (5) & Keith (3). Billie’s first court trial was surrounded by controversy over jurisdiction because he was a member of a U.S. tribe that claimed sovereignty. He committed his crime just off of the Miccosukee Indian Reservation & that crime went into state jurisdiction.
“Sins of the Father” opened with pictures of the beautiful land & waters of south Florida. Police investigators found an SUV submerged inside a water canal. Two Miccosukee Indian boys were in the back seat of that SUV who had drowned.
A tribal policeman named Jim, said that the mother of the two boys named Sheila Tiger had called him. She said that the night before she was driving in an SUV with her three kids. She eventually gave her kids to a baby sitter who took the keys of the SUV. The sitter said that a car was following her & was frightened. She went to a relative’s home & Kirk followed her there & an argument ensued. The sitter kept the newborn as Kirk took the SUV with his other two sons sitting inside the back seat.
Kirk later argued that he never stole the SUV which was missing the next morning. The Miccosukee tribe was stunned as Kirk was charged with murder. He denied that he killed his two kids & said he didn’t know they were in the back seat. Jim said that he found it impossible that Kirk didn’t know those kids were in the back seat.
The Miccosukee tribal court met two weeks later & surprisingly forgave Kirk. They believed his story & that it was an accident. They brought no charges against him, but the crime took place just outside the Indian reservation. Florida state police charged him with first degree murder of both boys. As the first court trial began. There was video evidence submitted showing Kirk in jail. He broke down on camera when he found out his sons were in the back seat. The jury had to consider whether Kirk intentionally wanted to kill his own boys.
The Miccosukee tribe prevented all of their tribal witnesses from testifying because they lived on the reservation. Sheila Tiger moved off of the reservation & was ordered to testify against the father of her dead boys. You can watch the full episode of “Sins of the Father” on YouTube.