It's difficult not to think "reality show" when you hear about Brian Randone's strange journey.
Open with a scene in South Omaha, where he grows up the son of a firefighter and a stay-at-home mom.
Move on to Texas, where the born-again Christian stages dramatic performances of the Gospels — a ministry, he calls it.
Then to California, where he proposes to a model and actress who once appeared in soft-core adult films.
Fade to four walls in the Los Angeles County Jail, where he waits two years to go on trial, accused of torturing and murdering his fiancee.
Pan the camera across the courtroom, where the prosecutor and the lead defense lawyer argue the case while holding white canes — both are legally blind.
Watch the jury of nine women and three men file in after deliberating what could have caused more than 300 bruises and abrasions on her body. Did she die of suffocation or a drug overdose?
Listen to Randone say "Hallelujah" as the not-guilty verdict is read.
Now, fade-in on a west Omaha restaurant, where he works on a platter of eggs, ham, fried potatoes and grits. He has broken from a recent visit with family to break his public silence.
For two years, news outlets published and broadcast the sordid tale of "the preacher and the porn star." Search his name on the Internet now and most postings reflect the accusations but not the outcome of the trial.
It took two years, but Randone said the jury delivered vindication along with a verdict.
"There's a proverb that says a lie lasts a moment but the truth will stand forever."
Randone worked with a private attorney for nearly a year, but the lawyer died a day before the trial was to start. Two other private lawyers took up the case and represented Randone without charge because they were friends with the deceased lawyer.
During the three-week trial last fall the prosecution said Randone repeatedly kicked Lee, causing hundreds of bruises and wounds. Furthermore, the pathologist who conducted her autopsy said she died of suffocation, pointing to abrasions around her eyes, nose and the inside of her mouth as classic signs of smothering.
The prosecution also called a Los Angeles County toxicologist, who acknowledged Lee died with a high level of GHB in her system. But the toxicologist argued it was medically impossible to determine whether it was enough to cause death because fatal levels of GHB vary widely, depending upon the user.
Against his wishes, Randone said, he followed his legal team's advice and did not take the stand.
His lawyers called a former Los Angeles police officer who said she had compiled case studies of thousands of GHB users. Head snaps and convulsions are common symptoms among those who overdose, she testified. She produced a video of a GHB user exhibiting similar physical behavior.
The defense also called a New York psychiatric professor with expertise in club drugs who testified that GHB can severely depress the respiratory system. In other words, the defense said, Lee died of asphyxia caused by an overdose rather than having a pillow crushed against her face.
As for the bruises and abrasions, the defense argued they were superficial and could be explained by Lee's repeated falls and convulsions.
But the witness who may have won Randone's acquittal was a San Diego forensic pathologist named Harry Bonnell.
Bonnell testified that paramedics found a faint indication of cardiac electrical activity when they arrived, meaning Lee's heart fired electrical impulses even though it wasn't beating.
Bonnell told the jury that such "pulseless electrical activity" can be attributed to just two causes: rapid, massive blood loss or drug overdose.
Blood loss wasn't a factor in Lee's death.
In addition, Bonnell testified that pulseless electrical activity continues no longer than 30 minutes from the moment of death.
Paramedics measured the electrical activity until 12:28 p.m., meaning the earliest possible time of death would have been 11:58 a.m.
The defense showed phone records indicating Randone was talking to his business assistant from 11:57 a.m. until 12:05 p.m., when he discovered Lee wasn't breathing. From that time, he was on the phone with the 911 operator until paramedics arrived.
In recent interviews with The World-Herald, the prosecutor and the defense attorney both said jurors told them Bonnell's testimony was critical to their verdict.
That angered Deputy District Attorney Philip Wojdak, who accused the defense team of hiding Bonnell's testimony until the last minute so it couldn't be disputed in front of the jury.
Lawyers are obligated to share their evidence before a trial begins — "discovery" is the legal term — but Randone's team never indicated that pulseless electrical activity would be introduced, Wojdak said.
As a result, the prosecution did not challenge Bonnell's testimony. Wojdak said he has since talked to a forensic pathologist who disagreed that only an overdose or massive blood loss is associated with electrical activity after the heart stops beating.
Mark Overland, one of Randone's attorneys, said Bonnell's name was on the pretrial witness list, which means the prosecution could have questioned the pathologist in a deposition to learn about his planned testimony.
Overland disputed the contention that the electrical activity testimony was false. In addition, he pointed to other evidence supporting the not-guilty verdict.
Overland mentioned that Randone had no criminal background.
He mentioned how the couple had purchased plane tickets for trips they were planning together.
He brought up how his client tried to resuscitate Lee.
Finally, he said, there was no motive for the killing other than the prosecution's suggestion that the couple had been arguing over Randone's late return that morning.
The prosecutor, however, had a different take. He said presenting a falsehood as medical fact essentially allowed Randone to get away with murder.
"I couldn't put it more bluntly than that," Wojdak said.
Overland offered a similarly blunt assessment of the prosecutor:
"He's an idiot."
One reason the defense team took the case was because the lawyers were convinced that authorities never should have charged Randone, Overland said.
"I argued to the jury if we had a choice between innocent and not guilty, I would ask for an innocent verdict," he said. "I've tried a lot of cases, but this one clearly went beyond not guilty."
Looking back at that September night two years ago, Randone said, he made terrible mistakes. He should have called 911 sooner. He shouldn't have been taking the drug himself, which clouded his judgment.
Since his acquittal Dec. 9, he said, he has mailed a letter to Lee's family, telling them he will answer any questions they have. They have not yet responded.
Of course he feels terrible about Lee's death, he said, but "terrible" isn't the same as "guilty."
Guilt is one emotion Randone said he doesn't feel.
He worked two years to defeat guilt.
"This wasn't an O.J. thing where he had a good legal team, or like Robert Blake or anything like that," he said.
"I got off because of the evidence."