‘48 Hours’ takes deep dive into Washington County man’s murder conviction

Michael Politte
Michael Politte(KCTV5)
Published: Nov. 25, 2022 at 10:17 PM CST
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WASHINGTON COUNTY (KMOV) -- Sisters Chrystal and Melonie Politte have vivid memories of Dec. 5, 1998. It’s the day Chrystal received a phone call that they had to go to their mother’s house right away because she was dead.

Forty-year-old Rita Politte had been murdered. Her son, Michael, was only 14 years old at the time. He says he woke up that morning and found her on fire.

Michael told investigators that he had no idea what happened to his mom. But when he failed a voice stress test and an accelerant-sniffing dog alerted to his shoes, he was suddenly a suspect.

Two days after the crime, Michael was arrested for his mother’s murder. When he went on trial in 2002, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He spent more than 20 years behind bars before a new team of lawyers began to reexamine his case. One of Michael’s attorneys says the state never had a solid case against him.

Michael was released on parole in April. Now, “48 Hours” is taking a look at his case in this week’s episode.

You can hear more on the investigation and Michael’s interview during the next edition of 48 hours on Saturday, November 26 at 9 p.m. on CBS.

correction: A previous version of this story had an incorrect year for Michael's trial.