Law & Order (1990–2010): Season 16, Episode 15 - Choice of Evils - full transcript

A suburban mom ends up admitting to the detectives that she shot and killed her own teenage son out of fear that the boy would become a menace to society.

In the 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.

I'm not saying
it doesn't have potential...

Potentially 20 units
at 3 million each.

Still pricey. Wake up.

Gary, my clients'll
entertain other offers.

Hey. Your clients and me,
we have an agreement.

A handshake, that's all.
It's cash or walk, pal.

This place is spectacular.
Oh, God, another one.

Sir? Sir? You can't be here,
this is private property.


Let's go.


Let me. Hey, fellow.
Come on, let's go!

Come on, let's go now, huh?

Whoa! Whoa! Oh!

Real estate agent
found the body.

Said they've had squatters
here before.

Is there anyone else
living here?

Far as we can tell, the victim
had the place to himself.

Isn't the building locked?

Supposed to be. I checked the fire door.
It was wide open.

Well, how about
security guards or dogs?

No, nothing. They've got cameras,
but the electricity's shut off.

Check the surrounding buildings.
Some of those are occupied.

Maybe somebody caught a glimpse.

This kid doesn't look 18.

Sorry, fellows.
No ID, no wallet.

I found some cash
in his pocket, 38 bucks.

Decent bankroll
for a homeless kid.

The rats have been nibbling on
his fingertips,

so it's gonna be hard
to pull prints.

Are those two gunshot wounds
in his chest?

Yeah, I'm seeing only two. And powder
burns on the shirt. Killed close up.

There's blood on the floor and
the wall where he got shot.

There's not much blood here. He
couldn't have laid here that long.

Well, they dragged him
over there

and they tucked him in,
like somebody cared for him.

Probably the last person
whoever did.

The building wasn't heated?

Well, the cold
will slow the decomp.

Best guess, your Johnny Doe
was laying there about a week.

Did you recover the slugs?

They appear to be from a .38.

One in the heart,
one hit the spine.

But the round to the heart
was pristine.

Ballistics shouldn't have
any problem with it.

That's the good news.
The bad news...

You couldn't find an ID.

Rats chewed his fingers
to a pulp.

No prints of value.

We'll run the DNA in case
someone shows up to claim him.

It's about all we can do
on this end.

We could run him through the criminal
database, see if he's got a record.

If he's a juvenile, you're out of luck.
But what the hell, you got it.

Is there anything more you can
tell us about this kid?

Positive blood-alcohol,
otherwise tox was negative.

No recent sexual activity.

The amount of dirt, I doubt
he'd seen a shower in weeks.

A regular street urchin.

Except this Oliver Twist
went back for thirds.

Died with a full meal
in his stomach.

Meatloaf, potatoes and corn.

Cafeteria food?

Let's take his photo
to the soup kitchens.

Thanks a lot.

His name was Daniel.

Did Danny give a last name
on his intake form?

He wouldn't tell me
and I didn't press.

I think he was scared that
I'd try to send him home.

Did he happen to mention
where that was?


It's the same story,
bad home, bad parents, if any.

When they trust me enough,
they open up.

Danny wasn't here long enough.

When was this?

Well, maybe a month ago.

He stayed only about four days.

Why did he leave?

Danny instigated several
fights with other residents.

His choice to straighten up.
He decided to leave instead.

Father, would you have any idea
who may have done this to Danny?

You know, when I talked to him
after the last fight,

he sounded scared.

It's strange,
but I had the feeling

that he thought he knew
he was gonna die soon.

You think maybe somebody
was after him?

Look, a kid like Danny doesn't
last long out there anyway.

Drugs, AIDS, assaults,
you know how it goes.

The priest we talked to,
he says that he thinks that

somebody might have been
gunning for the boy.

But that's speculation.

$38 in his pocket.
Was he hustling?

He wasn't in any of
the Vice books.

Well, maybe he just
hadn't got caught yet.

Well, we're shopping his photo on the corners
with the unis. We'll see what happens.

You know, keep working that ID.

The list of Dannys in Missing
Persons can't be that long.

Hey. This kid's DNA popped
up in the criminal database.

He's in the system?

No. He's not.

But the computer came up
with a very close match.

And the lab says
that it's his father.

Walter Flint.
Doing life in Attica.

For what?

Serial rape-murders.

Five women, that we know of.

How would I know who this is?

DNA proves he's your son.

He's not gonna be buried with
my name, so what do I care?

Look, all we want to do is get this kid
identified so that he can rest in peace.

- How'd he die?
- Alone.

Living on the street.
Not what I meant.

He was shot twice in the chest.

Died quick at least.

At least.

And in case you're wondering,
his name was Danny.

Your file lists a wife, Allison,

who divorced you after you were arrested.
There were no children listed.

And since you're a convicted
serial rapist, we were assuming...

I killed all those girls.

No kids from them either, right?

Maybe there was another woman
you victimized,

a woman we don't know about,
a woman you didn't kill.

I'm gonna miss my meal call.

You know, it's amazing.

You gave this kid a life,

somebody stole it, and you
just don't give a damn.

You're as dead as he is.

He looks just like
his mother, Allison.

So it was your wife?

When we got divorced, she told
me she was four months pregnant.

I suggested she get rid of it.

I guess she didn't.

The first time Danny ran away, I
didn't sleep thinking about him.

Then the police found him
in Coney Island.

He was with three other boys
his age.

Criminals. They had records. One was
carrying a gun. Fourteen years old.

After that, Danny ran
away pretty regularly,

to the point where we were
on a first name basis

with detectives
who looked for him.

Kids, Mommy and Daddy need
to talk to these policemen.

Go play in the next room
till we're done, okay?

When was the last time
you saw your son?

He ran away about six months ago.
We had an argument.

Because we got tough
and laid down the law.

They say that's what you do.

When we didn't find him,

I guess I...

I just started to
think the worst.

You know why he left?

He pushed Allison against the wall
and I threatened to call the police.

It was an accident.

Stop defending him, Allison.

Danny was four
when John and I were married.

And he seemed so happy
to finally have a dad.

We could fill the void.

He didn't know
about his biological father?

I never told him about Walter.

John was the only father
he ever knew.

Did you ever talk to a professional
about what he was going through?

Yeah, we took him to a psychiatrist.
He prescribed medicine.

Danny wouldn't take his pills.

He wouldn't look me
in the eyes most of the time.

Well, the shrink said Danny
had a conduct disorder.

They say kids with CD
grow up to be sociopaths.

Let me tell you,
he was on his way.

When he left, do you know of
anybody he would have run to?

There were some kids in Brooklyn the
detectives found him with last year.

More hoodlums,
if you didn't guess.

Do you remember
the detectives' names?

I'll get you his card.

If he was my kid, I would've
cut him loose a long time ago.

Between us, whoever killed
him saved us the trouble.

I guarantee we'd be cleaning
up his mess down the road.

What happened with those kids
from Brooklyn?

Three of them got pulled over
in a boosted car.

One had an ounce of weed on him.

Danny got his wrist slapped because
he flipped on the other two.

Spreading good cheer
wherever he went.

Where are they now?

One's still in juvie and they cut the
other kid loose a few weeks ago.

Thanks a lot.

See you guys-

Danny stole the car, not me.

I get eight months and he gets a deal
'cause his parents get him a fancy lawyer.

Look, you got out of juvie
right around the same time

Danny got murdered,
so explain that.

I don't know nothing about it.

I got a job, I got a place to stay.
That's all I know.

Hey! You're on probation,
which means you belong to us.

You hold out on us, and you can
kiss this new life goodbye.

Man, I am not going
back underground.

Damn CRUD freaks 'med to cut me.

What're you talking about?

You mean in the subway tunnels?

Riverside Park. It was a bunch
of us who stayed down there.

Real warm in the winter.

Did something happen
with Danny down there?

Danny hooked up with this girl named Tina.
It was a stupid move.

Tina was Shawn's girl.

So did this guy Shawn and
Danny get into it over Tina?

Yeah, Danny and Tina
took off together

and Shawn said they were dead
if they ever came back around.

Wait a minute. You didn't
happen to run into Shawn

and tell him where Danny was,
did you?

I heard Danny was staying
at Tina's mom's house.

When I ran into Shawn,
I might've told him.

Don't you think that might've led
to him doing something to Danny?

All right, let's go.

You're gonna dump the garbage and
you're gonna show us where Shawn lives.

Nice place, don't you think?

Police, everybody relax.
We're just looking for Shawn.

Hey, this ain't right.

Has anybody here seen Shawn? How
about you, pal, you seen him?

I ain't seen him. No.

I ain't seen him.

Don't touch me! Unclean son of a bitch!
Stop! Don't touch me! No!

Hey! Hey! Hey! Police! Freeze!

Go, man, go!

Police! Freeze!

Ed! You all right in there, Ed?

Man, you all right?

Punk tried to shoot me!

You tried to kill a cop?

You all scared
the hell out of me.

I'll give you something
to be scared of!

Hey, check it out.
A .38 Special.

Come on.

Look, I told you.
The gun went off by accident.

I wouldn't even waste my lead on
either of you two. No offense.

Attempted murder of a police
officer is what you're looking at.

Ballistics is checking into
that gun of yours.

My guess is it's gonna
tie you to Danny's murder.

I didn't even know the dude was dead.
I'm shocked, seriously.

Robert told us you knew
where Danny was.

So? I went by Tina's,
but he wasn't there.

So it's just live
and let live with you, huh?

Right. Give peace a chance,
you know.

You don't strike me as the type of
guy who would just let things go.

You have two active warrants,
criminal trespass and assault

and Bellevue says that you
escaped from their custody.

I ain't going back
to no hospital.

They tried to kill me in there.

So you'd rather give up
three squares a day

and good medication
and live like a rat.

Those people down there
depend on me.

I bring them food, you know.

And Danny and that bitch
would always be complaining.

He steals Tina. Next thing,
the punk pulls out a knife.

But I got powers to that effect.

Ain't the first knife
pulled on me.

Well, what were you gonna do
when you found him?

Like I said,
I never did find him.


Do you want to explain
the suspect's condition?

I don't know. It was dark in the tunnel.
I guess he fell on his face.


Lieutenant, that was me.

The bastard took a shot at me. I'm
sorry, I'm sensitive about that.

Ballistics on the boy's .38.
It's not the murder weapon.

You're kidding me.

So put him in a cell
and start looking for Tina.

Come on, open up.
It's the police.

Super said she was home.

We're looking for Tina Keith.

I'm her mother. She's not here.

You mind if we ask you
a few questions?

Now is not a good time.

Come on. Just open the door. It'll
only take a minute. Come on!

Have you seen this kid before?

Danny Ashburn, he's a
friend of your daughter's.

Tina said he got hit by a bus.

I say good riddance.

She expects me to feed every
stray dog she brings home.

Ma'am, we need to talk
to your daughter.

She's leaving for Miami

Do you know where she is? It's very
important that we talk to her.

She went to that clinic
around the corner.

I know he was making her
sell herself on the street.

How she got knocked up.

Do you have a picture of
your daughter we can borrow?

Damn it, I didn't do nothing!

We heard you were
going to Miami.

Get your hands off me!

Girl, you better calm down!

She's a lovely girl,
don't you think?

Reminds me a lot of her mother.

I don't gotta talk to you.

You're gonna tell us everything
you know about Danny Ashburn.

I don't know nobody named Danny.

- Where are you taking me?
- Downtown.

Well, I didn't kill him. I loved him.
I wasn't even there.

I came back and I found him.

Why don't you just calm down, and in
your own words, tell us what happened?

All right. Danny called
his mom to ask for money.

He told her where we were. She showed up,
like, an hour later. She was crying.

Did he tell her about the baby?

Yeah. He thought if we told her
I was pregnant, we'd get more.

And she gave us all she had on
her, like, 60 bucks and she left.

When did you find Danny dead?

The next day.

I'd gone out to Clarkstown
to ask his mother for more.

Danny didn't want to deal with her
getting emotional, so I went alone.

When I got there, she
talked to me on the porch.

She didn't want his stepfather
to find out what was going on.

And I guess
he figured it out, though,

'cause she went inside to get her
checkbook and I heard shouting.

Okay, so his stepfather got mad.
What did he do?

I don't know. She wrote me a check
for another 60, made me leave.

I barely had enough change to make
it back on the bus to the city.

When I got back, I found Danny.

There wasn't nothing I could do.

The parents lied to us. They said Danny
was out of the picture for months.

Did the girl's story check out?

She said it took her about three
hours to get back to that warehouse.

Now, the buses
in Rockland County

were running on
staggered shifts,

so the timing sounds right.

John Ashburn's E-ZPass
clocks a trip

over the George Washington
Bridge that afternoon.

This is assuming the mother told the
stepfather where Danny was living.

Well, assuming that she did,
the motive plays out.

The mother's at the end of her
rope, the stepfather's fed up.

And the delinquent kid
and his pregnant girlfriend

show up at their house
looking for cash.

Where did they get the gun?

John did accounting
for a family restaurant.

The owner kept a .38
registered on the premises.

He reported it stolen
a month ago.

Now, if it's not in
the East River by now...

Get a warrant, search the home.

You can't do this. You can't just come
in here and go through our things.

Ma'am, we have a warrant to
search your home. Now, please...



They just barged in.

Glad you're here, sir.

We can make this easy.
Where's the firearm? The .38.

What're you talking about? I
don't have a gun. I told you.

John. Hey, what are you doing?

I found it. It was on the top
shelf in the laundry room.

And believe it or not, there's
two spent shells in the chamber.

Where'd that come from?
I didn't put that there.

John Ashburn, you're under arrest
for the murder of Danny Ashburn.

No, stop. Allison, what the
hell is going on here?

Please! You have the
right to remain silent.

John! Anything you say can be used
against you in a court of law.

You've the right to an attorney.

I'll answer your question when you
tell me what the hell this is about.

Where's my wife?

She's being interviewed
right now.

Ballistics matched the .38 we found in
your house to the one that killed Danny.

The same .38 that was stolen from
the Hackett's Mill Restaurant,

which you happen to
keep the books for.

How would I know anything about that?
You're making accusations!

Tina Keith came to your house to ask
for money for Danny and you got upset.

Which you neglected to tell us about when
we notified you of your stepson's death.

I didn't talk to her,
Allison did.

I thought she was one of Danny's
old friends, looking for him.

Danny got shot before Tina
made it back into the city.

So what did you
do after she left?

I took the kids
to that penguin movie.

You can check. I went to the multiplex
in Clarkstown. I have receipts.

Where was your wife
during all this time?

Oh, God.

I knew what I was going to do.

But I'm not a bad mother,
believe me.


You found Danny
in the warehouse...

We argued. I told him that I cared for
him and that I wanted the best for him,

but he didn't believe me.

Things couldn't go on
the way that they were.

I fired the gun twice.

I put him in his sleeping bag.

He looked so peaceful

after he died.

Did Danny
physically threaten you?

No. I... I had the gun on him the whole
time so that he couldn't touch me.

Danny didn't love me


He was so full of hate.

Do you understand?
I had to do it.

I couldn't go through
that pain again.

He was becoming
just like his father.

“Docket number 5877.2.
People v. Allison Ashburn.

"Charge of Murder
in the Second Degree."

Do we have a plea?

Not guilty, Your Honor.

Your Honor,
the People ask for remand.

The defendant's charged with
murdering her own son.

She's a danger to her two other
children still residing in the home.

What? I would never hurt them.

It's an absurd
suggestion, Judge.

The victim in this case had
threatened my client in the past.

The defendant's confession made
no mention of self-defense.

My client has no criminal
record, no history of violence.

Her husband is prepared to post
their home as collateral for bail.

Her family will do
whatever it takes

to have their mother home with
them during this difficult time.

Well, call me sentimental, Counselor.
I'll set bail at $1 million.

They can't make that.

That's not my problem.

I think Booker is going to argue

that Allison was suffering from
an extreme emotional disturbance.

Go for man one?

It's the best play
they can make.

No person in her position could
reasonably have done what she did.

We have a strong confession,
solid evidence.

How many soccer moms have you
convicted on murder two lately?

So she's sympathetic.

More to the point,
Danny Ashburn isn't.

His father's a convicted
serial killer.

Judging from Danny's behavioral
issues, the apple wasn't falling far.

The jury can sympathize. We still
have to hold her accountable.

As soon as Booker files her notice of
defense, have Olivet talk to Allison Ashburn.

I knew he wasn't right
when he was 10 years old.

I caught him in the backyard.

I thought I heard a...
A baby crying,

but it was the neighbor's cat.

Danny had a pocketknife and
he was torturing it to death.

I thought, "This is my son?"

I loved him, you know.

But it wasn't enough to
make him a good person.

And John and I
did everything right.

Did Danny affect your
relationship with your husband?

Danny pushed him, and
they fought all the time.

I used to... I used to pray
that something would happen.

An accident.

So that God
would take Danny back.

L think about him
hurting someone

and I couldn't
go through that again.

Danny had hurt someone before?

No, his father,
his real father...

killed women.

And after Walter went to prison,

I tried to get in touch
with the families,

but no one wanted to talk to me.

What would you have said
to them?

How sorry I was.

That I hated Walter
as much as they did.

That girl, Danny's girlfriend,
when I saw her that day,

and she looked all beat to hell,

and when I confronted Danny
about it,

he gave me the same hateful look
that Walter used to give me.

That's how I knew.

I knew what was in his heart.

She feels tremendous guilt for
having been Flint's wife.

You could look at the act of Danny's
murder as a twisted attempt

to undo the crimes
Flint committed.

The sins of the father
visited upon the son?

The son who was violent
and out of control.

Conduct disorder is the worst
psychiatric diagnosis in pediatrics.

Parents say it's like living
with a terrorist.

If Danny was so bad, maybe Allison
was just sick of dealing with him?

I don't think it's that simple.
She loved her son.

But she came to believe
Danny was beyond saving.

It still doesn't mitigate
premeditated murder.

Look, people who commit
violent crimes

often leave behind families
who suffer as well.

So who isn't a victim here?

I'm skeptical of EED defenses.

But I think this woman's
clearly traumatized.

And Tina Keith showing up
on her doorstep provoked her?

It could've been enough.

Danny had seen one of those iPod things
laying in the front seat of a car.

He told me to keep an eye out.

Then right when he
busted the window,

a cop rolled around the
corner and saw us.

We took off, didn't get nothing.

Why did he hit you?

Well, I should've seen the cop.

I know it makes him sound bad,
but I know he loved me.

He gave me this baby.

Were there other times
that Danny hit you?

Sure. If we missed the train
'cause I didn't walk fast enough,

or, you know, he thought some
guy was looking at me wrong.

It sounds like he hit you
for nothing.

I'm not explaining it right.
Believe me, he had a reason.

Did Danny ever
threaten your life?

He scared me.

He used to promise me one day
he'd kill me and then himself.

He was twisted like that.

It meant he loved me, you know?

Did Danny's mother
know about this?

She told me she worried
about me staying with him.

L told her she should be.

Tina, why didn't you
leave Danny?

He never would've let me leave.

He tormented his family,
he battered his girlfriend.

Danny Ashburn wasn't a victim. He
was an argument for birth control.

He's not the one on trial here.

You all put his pregnant
girlfriend on the stand,

the jury will admire the mother
for not killing him sooner.

I covered his psychiatric files.

I talked to his teachers,
his neighbors.

By all accounts,
he grew up in a good home.

There are no allegations
of child abuse

and their other two kids
are well-adjusted.

Well, Danny's a bad seed.
Supports her claim.

I'm favoring the notion she wanted
him out of her life permanently.

Well, the law doesn't say the act
of killing has to be reasonable,

it's the nature
of the disturbance.

Or the novelty of the excuse.

Driving into Manhattan certainly gave
her ample time to come to her senses.

But will a jury send her
upstate for 25-to-life?

Not a chance. Offer man one. Pick
whatever number you can live with.

Still gonna seem like
a lifetime to her kids.

Ten years, Jack?

She'd get at least 10
with a successful EED defense.

It'd save us all
the hassle of a trial.

Well, how about three years, with psychiatric
counseling from here to eternity?

She sought out her son with the
sole intention of murdering him.

She needs therapy,
not hard time.

Bedford Correctional has excellent counselors
on staff, free of charge to your client.

I'm firm on the number.

I told you, I'm not doing it.

We understand how bad your son was, Mrs.
Ashburn. We're being generous.


You'll be out in time to see your
kids graduate from high school.

You're looking at
25 years, Allison.

Think about this.

Taking the gun
proves intent to murder.

Lying to the police
shows consciousness of guilt.

You freely confessed
to the crime.

You'd be crazy to go to trial.

I didn't lose control
or go crazy.

That girl and that little
baby would have died.

I'm his mother,
I was responsible.

You tell them
or I'll get another lawyer.

I've advised my client that this is
the wrong move, but she's adamant.

I still intend to represent her.
Call it Plan B.

You're going to argue

We'll prove my client was
acting in defense of others

when she killed the victim.

He posed a grave
and imminent threat.

In other words, she killed
her son to protect society.

That's exactly
what we're saying.

See you at trial, Jack.

This defense was never intended

to justify the murder of a
potentially dangerous person.

There was nothing potential about this
young man's capacity for violence.

We've submitted ample evidence
to that effect.

Which is prejudicial
and irrelevant.

No imminent threat was posed
to a third party.

No one else was present
at the scene of the crime,

except for the victim
and the defendant.

Tough hurdle to clear there,

The victim's battered girlfriend

told my client
her life was being threatened.

She had time to retreat
and get help.

Call the police? And after
they stoked Danny's anger

and eventually released him,
the threat would've remained.

Your Honor, she's twisting
the legal definition...

We have submitted multiple reports
from psychiatric experts.

They will testify that Danny
was a virtual ticking bomb

given his history and genetics.

He could've lashed out
at any moment.

Justifying murder by
what these experts say

was in Danny's body, mind and soul?
You don't find that offensive?

It would be extreme
if we presented

only genetic evidence without
a pattern of behavior.

But Danny has documented
examples of violence.

Couple that with his father being a
convicted serial rapist and murderer.

I've read the briefs. I'm gonna
grant some latitude here.

The defense can make a claim of
reasonable belief of imminent harm.

Your Honor.

I agree, Mr. McCoy.
It's a stretch.

I'll cautiously indulge
the defense.

You go too far, Counselor,
it's over.

Danny Ashburn
suffered from what we call

a Type 2 Conduct Disorder.

Type 2 is characterized by predation
and affective aggression.

Danny presented marked
interpersonal hostility,

angry affect and impulsiveness.

Was he violent?

We documented numerous examples
of physical cruelty and abuse.

Danny told me himself during treatment
that he often lost control of his rage.

What is the prognosis for a child
with Type 2 Conduct Disorder?

It typically progresses into Adult
Antisocial Personality Disorder.

CD has been directly linked
to rape, assault and homicide.

Thank you.

Did you advocate immediately locking
Danny Ashburn up after his diagnosis?

Of course not.

That said, in my experience,
most teenagers with CD

usually wind up
incarcerated anyway,

usually with
the worst criminal offenses.

In other words, when the
defendant murdered her son,

she was well within the statistical
probability of killing someone

who would've been guilty of
committing a crime eventually.

Objection. Argumentative.


Will we ever truly know what
Danny Ashburn's potential was?

That's difficult to assess.

Because the defendant murdered
him first, isn't that correct?


Nothing further.

I never got to meet my son.

I was out of Allison's life
before he was born.

You're incarcerated for raping
and murdering women.

Why would you do this?

I guess 'cause I wanted to.

Do you feel there's a compulsion
towards violence in your family?

I had an uncle who was killed
by police during a fight.

My own father, he was a bad one.

He once raped my mother in
front of me when I was a kid.

I guess you'd call that
a compulsion.

You were raised by
a violent father

in an environment of abuse,
isn't that correct?

Guess so.

But you had no contact with
your son throughout his life?

I've been incarcerated since before
he was born. Didn't know I had a kid.

Would you characterize everyone in the
history of your family as violent?

Probably not.

To your knowledge, was anyone on your
ex-wife's side of the family violent?

No, nobody.

Nobody except for her,

isn't that correct?

Nothing further.

Court will adjourn for lunch.
We'll reconvene at 2:00.

Tina Keith was arrested for shoplifting
in Midtown. We've got a problem.

You're looking at Danny
Ashburn at an ATM on 59th and 3rd.

It was an open homicide
in the 39 for months.

Danny Ashburn fits the
description of the shooter.

And Tina here
knew all the details.

Why didn't you
mention this before?

With her priors,
she'd be doing time.

She's only talking to us
to make a deal.

I'm not gonna have
my baby in jail.

Look, I wasn't even there.
Danny told me about it.

Now you said you'd let me go.

Danny pulled the trigger
after he got the cash.

Now the defense has a case.

The victim's name
is Philip Brown.

He left behind
a wife and a daughter.

Simply put, Your Honor, this crime
proves my client was right.

It isn't about being right.

She had no knowledge of this
when she murdered Danny Ashburn.

This evidence shows the
naked truth about this kid.

She shouldn't get
the benefit of hindsight.

She murdered the victim out of fear
of what he might do, not what he did.

Did the defendant know that her
son had committed this crime?

No. I didn't know.

People v. Miller. The victim's
reputation for violence is admissible,

regardless of the defendant's
a priori knowledge.

This is a perfect example
of that reputation.

Mr. McCoy, I do find the prior act
troubling in its implication.

Implications and probabilities
can't be used to justify murder.

You can question the defendant
about her knowledge of this crime.

I'll let you establish
what she knew.

But the videotape comes in.


Our lawyer says
the trial's going to continue.

What did you expect?

You saw the surveillance video.

Danny had no reason
to kill that man.

I don't understand why you're
still going after my wife.

She didn't have
a crystal ball, Mr. Ashburn.

She doesn't get a pass
for guessing correctly.

It should make a difference.

Not according to the law.

The law doesn't care my kids
are losing their mother?

I sympathize.

She's been punished enough.
We all have.

He was ruining us.

I think we're done talking here.

You're gonna turn a blind eye
to the facts.

The facts are a gun and a boy who
was unarmed when he was shot.

I'm sorry.

I just want my wife back.

Allison, why did you
kill your son?

He was dangerous.

I knew he was going to
hurt someone.

Turns out he did.

Why did you believe
he was dangerous?

His entire adolescence was
filled with fights and assaults.

And he got older,
and he stole money,

cars, guns.

We did everything we could
to change his behavior.

But nobody could fix
what was wrong with Danny.

What happened that day
you went to the warehouse?

Danny's girlfriend, Tina,
was pregnant by him.

She came to our house.

Her lip was swollen,
she had a bruise on her neck.

One of the whites of her eyes was red
with blood from Danny hitting her.

So you asked her
about the bruises?

Yes. I told her that Danny
would kill her and that baby

if she didn't get away from him,

and she said I was right,
that he would kill her.

What happened after that?

I couldn't stop thinking about him
hurting that poor girl, or their baby,

or some stranger
like he did at that ATM.

So I had to do something
before he hurt somebody.

You're saying you had no choice?

Between doing nothing and letting him
kill that girl or somebody else?

I was responsible for my son.

The crime we just saw
on that videotape,

you had no knowledge of that before
you killed your son, is that right?

No, I didn't know. But I knew
it would happen eventually.

Call it mother's intuition?

Call it 10 years
of taking him to specialists,

of having the police
visit our house,

of apologizing to parents

every time Danny assaulted
one of their kids.

I knew my son was violent and
dangerous, just like his father.

Did you and your husband worry
about having Danny in your home?

I didn't want him
living on the street.

What about your husband?

John put up with a lot.

Put up with the danger
to your two other kids?

Did John ever

throw Danny out of the house?

He had in the past, yes.

Did you ever feel like you had to choose
between your husband and your son?


Then why did you decide to murder Danny
when you did? What provoked you?

That girl.

You knew how terrible Danny
was for years.

But this time, you took a
gun and killed him. Why?

You never told your husband that
Danny had contacted you, did you?

Or that you'd gone to see him
in the city.

Who did you truly fear,
Mrs. Ashburn?

Danny? Or your husband when he
found out your son was back?


He didn't want Danny
around anymore, did he?

Your marriage was falling apart
because of him, isn't that right?

Objection. Sustained.

You had no choice.

Murder a monster, or lose your
dreams of a happy family.

Lose everything that was
right in your life.

- Your Honor!
- Mr. McCoy.

Tell us what was going to
happen if Danny came home.

John said that he would
take the kids and leave.

I didn't know what to do.

Yes, you did.

Like a good mother,
you fixed the problem.

In the matter of
The People v. Allison Ashburn

on the count of Murder in the
Second Degree, how do you find?

We find the defendant,
Allison Ashburn,


Allison Ashburn was wrong
about the jury.

But she was right about Danny, and I
can't help feeling sorry for her.

She left a good deal
on the table.

Mercy beyond the law
is above my pay grade.

By the way,
I spoke to Tina Keith today.

How is she doing?

Better. She connected
with Child Services.

They got her to a doctor
for a check-up.

She's having a boy.