Law & Order (1990–2010): Season 5, Episode 18 - Law & Order - full transcript

An alcoholic young man is accused of murdering a married couple in their bed -- but they were strangers to him, and no motive can be discerned.

Are you wondering how healthy the food you are eating is? Check it -
criminal justice system

the people are represented by two
separate yet equally important groups,

the police who investigate crime

and the district attorneys
who prosecute the offenders.

These are their stories.

You the cable man? All day.

Thank goodness.

Mrs. Lerner was home all weekend
with Mr. Lerner and no food channel.

Yeah, well, she's not home now.

She probably
didn't hear the bell.

How many times
did you ring? Enough.

That's what I like, a
man anxious to do his job.

That's me. Mr. Anxious.

Good day, Mrs.
Lerner. Coming up.


Mrs. Lerner.

The cable man's
here. Mrs. Lerner?


Vics are Eileen and David
Lerner. Maid found them.

You got a point of entry?
Broken window in the kitchen.

We got a blood trail from the
bedroom, takes him out the same way.

It's nice and tidy.
Anything missing?

We're still doing an
inventory with the maid.

These people lived here alone?

Maid said they
moved in last year.

They got a daughter that
lives uptown. She's on her way.


Nice color scheme. Didn't
eat breakfast, did you?

Couple of dozen stab
wounds each and still counting.

Judging by the blood glutting
around the male vic's head,

I'd say they've been
dead at least 24 hours.

Still tucked in. Didn't
know what hit her.

Yeah, well, he's not so lucky.

Stab wounds, both
hands, through and through.

So the wife's attacked first. He
wakes up, tries to fight the guy...

"David and Eileen.
Twenty-five years of joy."

Till death did them part.

Twenty-five years and they're
still sleeping in the same bed.

Then some animal
comes along and does this.

You find the murder weapon?

Searched the house, the yard, the
alley and two blocks four ways. Nothing.

Looks like a 10-inch,
single-edge knife did it.

Weapon of choice
at Thanksgiving.

The set in the kitchen
was missing a carving knife.

So he entered the house unarmed?

He didn't know the Lerners
were gonna be home.

Once he got inside he
heard a noise upstairs

and decided to do
something about it.

Did he help himself
to anything else? No.

Jewelry, cash, silver settings.

They're all present
and accounted for.

I'm not getting a
read on this one.

If he's there to kill them,
why enter the house unarmed?

If it's burglary, why
leave empty-handed?

Well, maybe butchering the Lerners
tired him out, or he was in a hurry.

Well, he had time to freshen up.

According to Forensics,

they found blood mixed
with water in the kitchen sink.

Any hits on prints?
BRISCOE: No, nothing.

Besides the Lerners and
their maid, we got 38 unknowns.

Thirty-eight? They must've
been a popular couple.

Yeah, with carpenters,
painters and plumbers.

They were fixing up the house.

But here's the real deal,

partial right thumbprint on the
headboard in Mrs. Lerner's blood.

It matches the prints found
near the broken window.

So we get prints from the
workers and the maid's family,

and see if any of them match up.

And check back with Forensics,
maybe this guy's MO will tell the story.

MARKS: Lady went first.

The angle of the wounds suggests
he was on the bed, straddling her.

He hit all the major landmarks,
stomach, kidneys, liver, heart.

That's about as
deliberate as it gets.

And how. This one goes
off the gruesome meter.

See this blood-spatter
pattern above the headboard?

That's the cast off of a
knife moving hard and fast.

Thirty five at bats, and
he never missed his target.

Great, we'll make him
the MVP. He earned it.

Struggling in the dark with his
victims, and he never hits the bed?

Guy knew what he wanted.

I'm getting married next summer.

I can't believe
they won't be there.

LOGAN: You have any idea
who'd want to hurt your parents?

I can't imagine anyone would.

Everyone who ever
met them loved them.

Well, we all want to think that about
our parents, but it's not always realistic.

I was born and raised in this
city. I know what people are like.

My parents were different.

BRISCOE: Even the nicest
people can make enemies.

We have to ask this,

did your parents ever gamble
or have any financial problems?

Does it look like they did?

Sometimes these fixer-uppers
can drain a bank book pretty fast.

They could've borrowed
money from the wrong people.

No, they bought this house
because it needed work.

It was their dream house.

Since the day they moved in here
last year, they spent every minute

restoring every piece
of tile, every doorknob.

Sounds like a full-time
job. Were they retired?

They own... Owned
a small ad agency.

Pharmaceutical advertising.

We've had no bomb threats,
no letters, not even a phone call.

Who the hell gets worked
up over cold medicines?

Didn't some drug
company get in trouble

because they had the wrong
number of stars in their logo?

Some religious fanatics
spread rumors about Satanism.

But that was years ago, and that
company is not one of our accounts.

Well, how about a
disgruntled employee?

Anybody complain about
their Christmas bonus?

Eileen and David treated
their employees very well.

Sounds like Santa's workshop.
They never had to fire anybody?

Since this agency opened, only
two people have left against their will.

One died and the other
was deported by the INS.

And Eileen went to
Washington to stop that.

Well, no disrespect, but they
sound a little too good to be true.

I can think of only one
person who might agree.

Bob Frankel.

Finally. What did
they do to Bob?

He was partners with Eileen
and David before they broke away.

They took Symtac, the primary
account, and started this agency.

Well, that must've hurt.
Did Frankel take it in stride?

I doubt it. He went bankrupt.

Oh, yeah. I have fond memories
of those days, Detectives.

Eileen and David
left me in ruins.

I'm just now crawling out
from under chapter seven.

Yeah, you could say I would
have liked to have killed them.

BRISCOE: If you're trying to clear
yourself in a murder investigation,

you're not going
about it the right way.

I don't mind telling you how I
feel because I didn't kill them.

Look, what they did to
me was the best thing

that could've happened to me.

It made me realize how much I
really hated the advertising game.

Whatever anger I
felt, I turned it into this.

Yeah, well, some people
never learn to forgive and forget.

So, just for the hell of it, where were
you last Saturday night at 1:00 a.m.?


I'm developing a private
blend for my Gen X crowd.

And I call it Java Jive.

Latent ran that
bloody thumbprint

against everyone known to have
been in that house in the past year.

They got nothing.

You run it against the
short list of enemies?

The Lerners don't have enemies.
These people were saints.

The only guy they ever screwed
thinks they did him a favor.

You're saying someone picked
their name out of the phone book

and dropped in on them?

It happens. Some nut-job forgets to
wear his aluminum-foil hat one morning.

All of a sudden, voices
in his head start telling him

to go ring doorbells
and stab people.

Well, I don't like
unsolved mysteries,

so before we hand it
over to Robert Stack...

We know. We know. Yeah,
walk through it one more time.

All right. Forensics says our
guy was standing over her,

and that she went
first. They're asleep.

Does she see him? Does she
scream? She was still tucked in.

So our guy leans over, and he leaves
a right thumbprint on the headboard.

That probably makes him a lefty.

Husband wakes up. They
fight. The husband loses.

Okay, they're both dead.

Okay, so now what does he do?

He doesn't steal anything. He
goes downstairs and washes up.

I'm sorry, am I in the way
here? No, no, not at all.

This isn't gonna take very long,

but maybe you'd rather
not have to listen to this.

It's okay.

All right. So, he
walks into the kitchen,

he cleans up at the sink,

and then he goes out
the way he came in.

Why climb back out the window when
he could just walk through the door?

Key-locked deadbolt, that's why.

And latents didn't find
his prints on the doorknob.

He didn't even try to open it.


And there's no prints on
this side of the door, either.

He gets into the
garden from over there.

So why does he pass
that door, come over here,

climb over all this crap
to get into the window?

Maybe he's psychic and
he knew the door was locked.

Manhattan Security Services.

These holes in the
masonry, Ms. Lerner,

was there a different kind of door
here when your parents moved in?

It was a security door.

My parents removed it when
they remodeled the kitchen.

They wanted a
view of the garden.

When my parents bought this
house, it looked like Fort Knox.

So does half of New York.
Who used to live here?

Warren Bartlett. The divorce
lawyer. You may have heard of him.

Yeah. You can't open Page
Six without reading about him.

That's the guy who
destroyed a lot of lives.

Oh, my God. You mean, my parents
may have been killed by mistake?

This is unbelievable.
Those poor people.

Well, it's still just a theory.

We can't really be sure
you were the intended victim.

But then again, in
your line of work...

I reach the pinnacle of my
profession, I have to live like a prisoner.

Cameras, security doors,
letter bomb analyzers,

a bodyguard when I go to court.

I mean, it's not as if we
don't serve a purpose.

Do you know how many
matrimonial attorneys

were attacked last year?

I know one who should have been.

Did anybody ever
show up at your home?

Actually, that's why
we sold the brownstone.

Now I live in a doorman
building. High security.

Well, we're gonna
need some names.


Could be one of your clients'
exes didn't know you relocated.

UNGER: You think you're
being smart, cautious.

You sign a pre-nup, you know,
just in case it's not happily ever after.

My ex goes to Bartlett.

Voilà, the pre-nup's not
worth the paper it's written on.

It's America. We have
to pay for our mistakes.

How many mistakes do you
make that cost 30 grand a month?


I might wanna smack him around
myself. Somebody beat him up?

Somebody tried to kill him.


Hey, bully for them.

Closest I ever got was
throwing a chair in a deposition.

Look, that was eight years ago.

I've gone through
three wives since.

If I was going to try to kill a divorce
lawyer, he's way down on my list.


Learned my lesson, man.
Never mess with the talent.

Tina had the voice of an angel,
but she had a tail and horns.

We heard Bartlett really
cleaned you out in the divorce.

You lost the house,
the studio, the car.

Don't believe
Bartlett's B.S. PR.

I threw money at him
to make Tina go away.

Besides, this business is a
license to print the green stuff.

The way he tells it, you
weren't just throwing money.

You were throwing punches,
threatened to kill him.

You try two days locked
in a room with the wife,

Bartlett and my suit who
goes out at $300 an hour,

being grilled over
every nickel and dime.

You'd lose your
cool, too. Maybe.

But you see, you used
the magic word, kill.

Bartlett threatened to go to the cops.
Tell them I was dealing coke. Real crap.

Said he'd tie me up in criminal
court till next year's Grammys.

He did his homework.
Yeah, well...

My shark did some
homework of his own.

Seems Bartlett's kid had a little
problem with the blow himself.

Makes for a quick
settlement. Everybody's happy.

You know, the more I talk to these
guys, it reminds me why I stay single.

You mean, it's not just the quality
time you get to spend with yourself?

You know, it is possible
that the guy we're looking for

isn't ticked off at the way
Bartlett does business.

His kid is a dope-head. Maybe
it's the way he does business.

Yeah, drug dealers. I keep forgetting
there's notches below lawyers.

You know, we could
spend a whole year

chasing down guys who may
have wanted a piece of Bartlett.

Well, we wouldn't want you to
get a hernia from overwork, Mike.

Very funny. But I
got a different angle.

Bartlett's kid's into
powdering his nose.

Now, maybe he
didn't pay his bills,

and I doubt he sent a
change-of-address card to his dealer.

Listen to this, Bartlett
never had any children,

but he's got a foster
son named Smith.

The kid's father OD'd,

mom's had a long history of
drugs and theft. She's till in Bedford.

Anyway, I ran the
kid's name, no yellows.

Well, Bartlett's got connections.
He could make those disappear.

Yeah, he couldn't make an
impound report disappear, though.

Well, that's a big help.
No, actually it might be.

Steven Smith wrapped his car around
a hydrant the night of the murders.

Less than half a block from
the Lerners' brownstone.

Wow, that's almost a clue.
And it beats heavy lifting.


It's Anita's sense of humor.
Lieutenant Anita to you.


It's like I said, a bunch of us
went to a party down in SoHo.

I really don't remember much.

You remember having a brief
encounter with a fire hydrant?

You guys are cops.

I tell you what happened, you
could pull my driver's license.

Come on, man, that's
not even our department.

Relax. Just tell us
what happened, Steve.

All right.

My buddy Josh and me, we
left a party to go hit the clubs.

And I guess I shouldn't
have been driving.

I hit the hydrant. That's it. I paid
the towing fine. Nobody got hurt.

What's the big deal?

But you used to live right
down the block from there.

Yeah, well, you know, but we
were going to the Palladium, I mean...

Of course we were
in the neighborhood.

What? You think I'm a
witness to something?

Did you see anything? No.

I locked up the car and I
decided to call it a night.

You and Josh both
called it a night?

No. He wasn't as out of it as I was.
He went back to the Zoo for a nightcap.

What, did you take a cab home?

No, I was pretty wasted. I
needed the air, so I walked.

He got all revved
up. The party died.

Well, didn't you think Steve may
have had a little too much to drink

to get behind that wheel?

Last year I saw the guy
go for eight hours straight.

Maybe he's gotten out
of shape, I don't know.

I hear AA'll do that to you.

He's in AA?

Yeah, his girlfriend,
Sally, she talked him into it.

Sally have a last name?

Beyers, I think.

The things you'll
do for a little action.

BRISCOE: You mean, he
doesn't take AA seriously?

Maybe he did. I don't know,
you are what you are, right?

He said he'd only have one.
One drink turns into eight or nine...

Yeah, why don't you tell
me about the accident?

He was singing like a jerk. You
know, started playing air guitar. Boom.

And what happened
to your drinking buddy?

He smacked his head up
against the steering wheel.

You know, if he wasn't so loaded,
he might have actually got hurt.

LOGAN: So where'd
you go from there?

Something like that just messes
you up. I cabbed it back to the Zoo.

Steve go with you? No. He
said he wanted to walk it off.

Eight or nine drinks, I'd have to circle
the Island twice to walk that one off.

You know, back
in my drinking days,

I came home once at the
tail-end of a three-day bender.

Only I went into the
wrong wife's front door.

That was enough to make
me go to the 12 steps.

What are you saying, kid went
to his old house by mistake?

It plays out.

Steven used to come
home drunk all the time.

So he didn't want to
mess with the security door.

So he crawls in the window.

He's in AA. He went on a bender.
Maybe he told his sponsor all about it.

I'm sorry. I appreciate that
you've got a job to do, Detectives.

But anything said in
meetings is strictly confidential.

You know, I had a guy like you
who dragged me out of a bottle once,

and I wouldn't appreciate him
giving out interviews to the tabloids,

but this is a little different.

We're investigating
a murder case here.

You don't think
Steven killed someone.

Well, you're all wrong there.

Steven's many things,
he's an alcoholic,

he's a substance
abuser, but he's no killer.

That much I'll tell you. Did you
know he was drinking again?

I'm sorry. I'm his sponsor.
I can't tell you any more.



What, does this guy
think he's a priest?

It's the only way it can work,
Mike. What's the girlfriend's name?

Sally Beyers. Maybe
she's not so tight-lipped.

Steven's worked hardest
on steps four and five.

"Making a fearless
moral inventory"

and "admitting his wrongs
to God, to himself..."

"And to another person."
Sounds like you've been there.

Sober 532 days.

All right. Your boyfriend
can't say as much.

This was his first slip. It
happens. He tell you about it?

Tuesday, in group.
He told us all.

It's part of the recovery.
What else did he tell you?

What gets said in
meetings stays in meetings.

We're investigating a
serious crime, Miss Beyers.

And we have to
talk to everybody.

Steven was in that neighborhood
and he knows that house.

He doesn't remember anything.

He told us that he'd had a major blackout,
and he said he's been having nightmares.

I think it scared him into
sobriety. What kind of nightmares?

He read about those
people dying in his old house

and he dreamed that he did it.

Wait, wait, wait.
Let me get this right.

Now, you're saying this
poor jerk had a dream.

Which he told to a group
of people in an AA meeting.

Last night I dreamed that I
was having an ice-cream sundae

in bed with Heather Locklear.

You don't think that
that's sufficient cause

to get a warrant to
check out my bedroom?

With no disrespect, Your Honor,

I doubt I'd find Ms. Locklear's
fingerprints on the headboard of your bed.

And you found the
kid's prints at the scene?

An unidentified set.

All I'm looking for is an order
to fingerprint Steven Smith.

All right. I'll give you
your order, Ms. Kincaid.

Disrespect and all.

I told you I was
drunk, all right?

Did you ever hear of a blackout?
They happen. I can't remember anything.

BRISCOE: And these
don't jog your memory?

Why would I do that to those
people, man? I don't even know them.

We're not saying you
meant to kill them, Steven.

You know, there was a
case up in Westchester.

This kid killed an
Indian couple by mistake.

Now, if that's what this is,
maybe there's a way out.

What kind of mistake,
man? I wasn't there.

You drink too much, you do
things you're not exactly proud of.

Believe me, I know.

Don't you think that
I would remember...

Remember? I've been there, too.

Now relax. You want
some coffee or something?

No, I'm okay.

Steven, when you woke up the next
day, was there blood on your clothes?

Yeah, I cut my head in the
accident. Of course, there was blood.

Look, we can go over
this a million times, okay?

I can't help you.
I wasn't there.

All right, tell me this. In your
dream, what happened to the knife?

I'll tell you what I think
happened, Steven.

I think you went in
through the window

because you were too drunk to
notice that the steel door was gone.

You didn't know the Lerners
had remodeled the house, did you?

No, how would I? I haven't
been there since we moved.

Now, see? That's just my point.

Kid's on the verge.

This might help. Prints came
back. Our bloody thumb's a match.

Let's do it.

You know what they say, Lennie.
Memories fade but fingerprints don't.

Get up. Up!

Steven Smith, you're under arrest for
the murder of David and Eileen Lerner.

You have the right
to remain silent.

Anything you say can
and will be used against...

"Docket number 622613,
People v. Steven Alan Smith.

"Charges are two counts
Murder in the Second Degree."

Plea, Ms. Larson?

Not guilty.

And what do the
People have to say?

The People request that the
defendant be held without bail.

He lives with his foster
parents, Your Honor.

The Bartletts have deep
roots in the community.

And he certainly seems old
enough to hop a cab out of town.

Bail is set at $500,000. Next.

A half a million bail, Jack. A
little over the top, don't you think?

Thirty-five stab wounds.

I'd say I showed
remarkable restraint.


I suggest your police
officers brush up on it.

Your client
admitted... I never...

To be accurate, he said he
dreamt about the murders.

He read about them in the papers.
They happened where he used to live.

Freud would say it's natural.

And I suppose his prints on
the headboard of the Lerners' bed

got there telekinetically.

No, but the procedure by which
you matched them to Mr. Smith

violated his rights.

We had a court order
to fingerprint your client.

Sure you did.

But said court order was
supported by privileged comments

made during
confidential AA meetings.

I'll see you in court.

The rules of privilege are founded
in public policy, Your Honor.

Encouraging free communication
in certain circumstances

has been deemed more important

than admitting the substance of
that communication into evidence.

And the legislature is clear as
to whom that privilege applies.

I see doctor and patient,
attorney and client,

priest and penitent,
husband and wife.

There's nothing in the rules of
evidence about self-help groups.

But the underlying
policy is the same.

Society has recognized
addiction as a disease.

Would we be here
at all if my client

had sought treatment
in a psychiatrist's office?

Psychiatrists are professionals
specifically covered by the statute.

Alcoholics Anonymous
is a self-help group.

Confidentiality is a
courtesy, not a legal mandate.

For a 12-step program to be effective,
a participant must bare his soul.

How can we
require or expect that

if it can then be turned around

and used as evidence
against him in a criminal trial?

If we admit this evidence we are,
in effect, destroying any chance

these individuals
have at finding a cure.

It's very convincing, Counselor.

The problem is that
Mr. McCoy is right.

There's nothing in the statutes
that mentions 12-step programs.

I'm talking about principle,
social policy, Your Honor.

I'm talking about the law,

which as we all know, is
to be narrowly construed.

My job is not to rewrite the
statutes, it is to interpret them.

The defense motion is denied.

In that case, Your Honor,

the defendant changes
his plea from not guilty

to not guilty by reason
of mental defect.

They've got you dead
to rights, why not?

All right.

The defendant will be made
available for examination

by the People's experts
at their convenience.

I've never even met those
people before. I have no idea why...


I may have killed
two innocent people.

People I never even heard
of, and what do you think I feel?

I don't know. You tell me.

I have nightmares about it.

I don't...

I don't even know if I did it.

You don't remember?

What do you remember?


We were at a party,
doing shooters. All right?

I left with Josh. We put
in a CD or something...

I don't know. The car swerved
off the road. I totaled the car.

I hit my head. Josh
went back for a drink.

What did you do?

I thought I walked home.

But you didn't? No. I guess
I went back to my old house.

I don't remember!

Why do you think that
you went back there?

I was drunk, okay?

I know what you're
thinking, and it's sick.

What, Steven?

Warren and Leah,

they put up with all my crap, all
right? They're good people. I love...

I know what you're
thinking, it's like...

You think I wanted to kill
them. What do you think?

DR. OLIVET: He claims amnesia
for the crimes and I believe him.

Amnesia's not grounds
for insanity. That's true.

The only form of mental illness
seems to be substance abuse.

He was drunk, and as we all know,
that's not the basis for an insanity plea.

They tried this in Westchester.
There's a difference.

There the defense claimed that
the boy had a learning disability

and that his homicidal tendencies were
implanted by a high-school psychologist.

Steven Smith had
an alcoholic blackout.

That, combined with a head
injury from the car accident,

could have triggered
a dissociative episode.

He was drunk, he killed
two innocent people

and now he's trying to
use the bottle as a defense.

Isn't it pretty obvious he
meant to kill the Bartletts?

At least unconsciously.

But there's no evidence
of any conscious motive.

Bartlett's wealthy.

The brutality of the murders,
this had nothing to do with money.

Then we should find
out what it was about.

What are you implying?

The Lerners were killed in
your old bedroom, Mr. Bartlett.

Let me tell you something.
Steven has problems.

Most of them
come out of a bottle.

He's ill, Warren. And she's
trying to say it's our fault.

Look, Steven had trouble
handling a groundball,

I spent three hours a night
with him out at the schoolyard.

He was lost in algebra, I
took a week off from work.

Something prompted this.

Steven is sick.

He's insane, for God's
sakes! I don't need you to tell...

I'm certainly not going
to help you put him in jail

when he should be
under psychiatric care.

Mr. Bartlett,
you're an attorney.

You know that if he knew what he
was doing at the time of the crime,

he's not legally insane.

What are you saying? That Steven
was rational when he did this?

I'm sorry, I won't accept that.

They're wealthy, they're educated,
they seem to be the perfect parents.

And Steven wanted them
dead. For no apparent reason.

He's still living with them,
that has to mean something.

Maybe this was some
sort of dissociative episode.

In other words, the crime is so
crazy, the kid's got to be nuts.

The defense has the burden to show
that at the time he committed the murders,

Steven Smith didn't understand
the nature of what he was doing.

Maybe we shouldn't be
so gung ho here, Jack.

Maybe he is better off in
a hospital than a prison.

Tell that to Elizabeth Lerner.

Am I supposed to let him play
doctor in a rubber room at Bellevue

just because he tells
me he can't remember?

Come on. You know
it's not that simple.

Even Olivet can't tell us whether he
was rational at the time of the crime.

That's going to make for a
wonderful cross examination.

Only one person knows what
Smith was thinking that night, right?

And he was in an alcoholic fog.

Well, let's turn
on the defroster.

Hypnotize him. Take
him back to the scene.

If he says that E.T. told him
to kill a couple of gremlins,

then I'll cut a
deal for insanity.

LARSON: What happened, Jack?

You had too much last night,
blacked out and forgot the law?

Hypnotic testimony
is inherently unreliable.

On the contrary, I was
up until the wee hours

reading supreme court decisions.

Specifically Rock v. Arkansas...

Which held that a per se rule
excluding hypnotic testimony

infringes on a defendant's
right to testify on his own behalf.

In other words, you can't force
my client to give hypnotic testimony.

I don't want him in prison if
he's legally insane, Marge.

I'll tell you what.

If we learn that these murders
were the result of a psychotic episode

that rendered him unaware
of what he was doing,

I'll be the first one seated
at the bargaining table.

And if we don't?

I agree that nothing he says under
hypnosis can be used against him in court.

Heads I win, tails you lose.


One more time
on the kitchen floor

Shut up, Josh. Man,
I wanna sing, I'll sing.

Oh, my God.

My head. What happened, Steven?

I totaled the car.

Where are you?

It's late, I better get home.

The door's locked. How
are you going to get in?

I gotta get home.

The storm window.
She'll never know.

Who will never know?

I'll be quiet.

Where are you, Steven?

Mommy. Don't hit me, Mommy!


It burns, Mommy!
Please. It burns.

I'll be good.

EIDLER: What did
you do wrong, Steven?

STEVEN: I didn't mean it.

I won't spill the Coke on
the carpet again. I promise.

Mommy, don't hit me, please!

Don't or I'll... Or
you'll what, Steven?

It burns so bad.

Tell me, what will you do?

No. I'm sorry. It's bad.

What is it, Steven?

The knife.

I'm sorry, the knife.
It's bad. But I have to.

I have to.


It's pitiful is what it is.

But it's clear he knew what
he was doing was wrong.

Translation, he
wasn't legally insane.

Come on, we all know

I can march into a courtroom,
show a video of what we just saw

and walk away with a verdict of
not guilty by reason of mental defect.

And if you put one
witness on the stand

who says that he was legally
insane at the time of the murder,

you'll be suborning perjury.

I've known you for
15 years, Marge.

I never suspected that
was part of your makeup.

We've gone way beyond
an insanity defense, Jack.

So you're willing to cut a deal?

And subject my client to the tender
mercies of the criminal justice system?

I don't think so.

Steven Smith committed
justifiable homicide.

He was acting in self-defense.

It's probable that Steven Smith
was physically abused as a child.

Now he's a grown man. Yes.

But it was the 12-year-old
boy who swung that knife.

Is it possible that
he's just acting?

It's possible, but I doubt it.

The alcohol, the
physical trauma,

together they could've
freed repressed memories.

I think the night
of the murders,

he was a 12-year-old boy who
thought he was about to be beaten.

It sounded like he was
hit repeatedly. Burned.

It won't be a stretch for Larson to
make a good case for self-defense.

You got no case, come to us.
We'll give you all the help you need.

Steven Smith went into what he thought
was the Bartletts' bedroom at 2:00 a.m.,

which means that he can't argue
that he didn't know they were asleep.

Which means that he can't argue

that he thought he was threatened
with imminent physical harm.

Which means there's
no self-defense.

But he was thinking
like a 12-year-old.

I'm not certain he could
make that distinction.

I think he could.

The Lerners were found in
their bed, in their nightclothes.

Both were victims of
multiple stab wounds.

Did you come to any conclusion
as to whether they were asleep

at the time the
attacks commenced?

Objection. Calls
for speculation.

Detective Logan
is qualified to testify

as to the opinions formed
as a result of his investigation.

Speculate, Detective Logan.

The time of death was determined
to be between midnight and 3:00 a.m.

The lights were out, Mrs. Lerner
was still under the blankets,

we determined that she was
asleep when the attack began,

and that Mr. Lerner who had
defensive wounds on both hands

was awakened by the
attack on Mrs. Lerner.

JACK: Thank you, Detective.


The defense has no
questions for this witness.

I was with Steven from around
8:00 until just after he wrecked his car.

And was his behavior out
of the ordinary that evening?

We were drinking heavy, you
know. I guess he was acting like usual.

Turning your attention to the moments
immediately following the accident,

please describe how
the defendant acted.

He wrecked his
car. He was upset.

I said I'd call a tow truck,
and he said to hell with it,

he'll deal with it
in the morning.

And what happened then?

I went to go get another drink.

Did the defendant go with you?

No. Thank you.

What were the defendant's
parting words that evening?

He said he was going home.


I see. No more questions.

We've put five witnesses on the stand.
Larson asks one question on cross.

I'd say she was pretty
confident. Sure she's confident.

Tomorrow she plans on
breaking the jury's hearts.

Sympathy alone doesn't
get you an acquittal.

But it sure as
hell hangs a jury.

Look at those boys out in LA.

This isn't the Menendez
brothers, Adam.

There's no doubt in this case
that the victims were innocent.

That's right.

Only here we have
the abusers in the flesh

to tell us all about what
monsters they were.

I have a Masters in child psychology
from the University of Michigan,

and a Ph.D. from Cornell.

I've been with the
Department of Social Services

for the last 16 years where I've
counseled nearly 10,000 abused children.

Did you have an opportunity to
see the videotape of the defendant

in his hypnotic state?

I did.

Would you say that he fit the
profile of the typical abused child?

Considering Steven's body
language, the panic in his voice,

the substance of
what he was saying,

leads me to believe that
he was an abused child, yes.

When he was 12 years old, would
you say that he hated his foster parents?

On the contrary, he
loved them very much.

He loved them, yet still
he wanted them dead?

Well, you have to understand
that the love an abused child feels

is tempered by
confusion, shame, guilt.

But most of all, by fear.

Now, Steven Smith
was burned and beaten.

In my opinion, he
wanted to kill the Bartletts

because he thought
they were going to kill him.

Thank you, Doctor.

Of the 10,000 abused children
you've counseled, Doctor,

how many were beaten while
their abusers were asleep?

That's an absurd question. So I
can take it that that means zero?


But abused children believe their
abusers are an omnipresent threat.

Their abusers.
Not some strangers.

I'm not proud of what I did.

I got help. I thought
I got it in time.

So, you're admitting
you abused Steven?

Warren and I
couldn't have children,

but the problem was I just
wasn't ready to be a mother.

Please tell us
more, Mrs. Bartlett.

Well, it began with a
glass of wine at dinner.

I'd put Steven to bed
and I'd feel so alone.

So I'd have another and another,

and then I moved on to vodka.

And I'd start at breakfast.

And I was hard on Steven.

He would cry and... I
just couldn't stand it.

So you hit him?

You'll have to answer aloud.

I hit him,

first with my hand, and then
with anything I could find.

A bottle, a shoe.

I was alone in the house
with Steven. I blamed him.

And how did it
end, Mrs. Bartlett?

One afternoon, I was on
my second bottle of vodka.

Steven was in the living
room watching television.

I kicked his can of soda

and it spilled all
over the carpet.

It was a new carpet!

I burned him with a cigarette.

He ran into the kitchen.

I followed him and I
grabbed a carving knife.

I'm so sorry.

Warren came
home from the office.

I don't know what would have
happened if he hadn't come home then.

I started treatment
the next day.

Thank you.

Shall I ask for a
recess, Mrs. Bartlett?

No, I'm okay.

How old was Steven when
you attacked him with the knife?

He was 12.

And you haven't hit him
once in the past nine years?


And he still lives
at home with you?


No more questions.

The defense rests.

Well, juror number three
was actually in tears.

After my closing, I hope
they'll be crying for the Lerners.

And that'll make them want to
put the mother in jail, not the kid.

Did you ever
consider the possibility

that Mrs. Bartlett might be
exaggerating to protect her son?

It's just her
word. That's right.

It is just her word, isn't
it? Where are you going?

Well, wouldn't this have been
a slam dunk for the defense

if Mr. Bartlett took the stand
and confirmed her story?

Larson never called him.

My wife had a drinking problem.
I wasn't aware of the extent of it.

A bottle of vodka a
day, you didn't notice?

I was referring to how
she treated Steven.

She said she beat him
with a shoe, a bottle.

You didn't notice?

I was starting a new practice. I was
at the office more than I was at home.

I see.

Now, sir, correct
me if I'm wrong,

but didn't you tell my
associate, Ms. Kincaid,

that when your son
had trouble with baseball,

you worked with him every night?

You took a week off to help
him with his mathematics?

That was after Leah was in treatment.
My practice was already established.

Yes, but it seems you
had a close relationship.

I'm proud of that, yes.

He would come to you
when he had problems?


He didn't understand Pythagoras,
he came to you for help,

he booted a
groundball, he ran to you.

But when your wife burned him with
a cigarette or beat him with a shoe,

he didn't think it proper to
confide in you, is that right?

He was a boy.

Did you abuse Steven,
Mr. Bartlett? I was selfish.

I worked too hard. I ignored my
family. Steven suffered from that.

Did you ever beat
him with a shoe?


A bottle? No.

How many times did you
burn him with a cigarette?

I would never...

I always protected Steven.
I would never hurt him.

But Steven thought you
would. That's not true.

I love him! He loves me!

And he had no
reason to kill you.

Your Honor, Mr. McCoy
is testifying here.

In my chambers.

The witness himself said that
he never abused the defendant.

He said he always protected him.

What's that have
to do with anything?

Let's assume for the moment

that the defendant actually believed
that Mrs. Bartlett was going to kill him.

Fine, that's self-defense, but
Mr. Bartlett never laid a hand on him.

He didn't have a weapon.

So tell me, what was he
defending himself from?

The jury can infer he was...
They won't get the chance.

Your Honor, the People dismiss
count one of the indictment,

the charge of
murdering Eileen Lerner.

We'll proceed only on count
two for the murder of David Lerner.

Are you sure? I'm sure.

And I further move that
Your Honor charge the jury

that they may not consider self-defense
as a justification for that murder.

Very clever, Mr. McCoy.

This is prejudicial.
And it's the law.

Motion is granted.

you are instructed as follows.

In the matter before you,
you may not in any way

consider the affirmative
defense of justification

as a result of self-defense.

In other words, the
only issue before you

is whether the prosecution
has proven sufficiently

each and every element of the
crime of Murder in the Second Degree.

Namely, did the defendant intend
to cause the death of David Lerner

and did he in fact
cause said death?

Forewoman, has the jury reached a verdict?

Yes, we have, Your Honor.

On the sole count of the indictment,
Murder in the Second Degree,

how do you find?

We find the defendant,
Steven Smith, guilty.

The defendant is remanded
to custody pending sentencing.

Jury is excused.

Court is adjourned.


I'm so sorry.

We split hairs. We won.

But I'm still not convinced

putting Steven Smith in prison
for 25 years is the right thing.

You think he should
be on the street?

You know that's not what I mean.

The law only gave
us two choices.