Law & Order (1990–2010): Season 8, Episode 20 - Burden - full transcript

A doctor is accused of maliciously killing a quadriplegic boy. However, the doctor claims that it was a mercy killing and that he was acting on the family's wishes.

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.

My baby, I can't wake
him. He's not breathing.

Was he choking? I don't know.

I came to change his diaper,
and he wouldn't wake up.

This kid wears diapers?

He's a quadriplegic. Help him!

Get an airway. CARSON: Right.

Can I get a hand with the O2?
- Got it.

Here we go. Pupils fixed.

You got a... No, nothing.

This kid's blue.
Temp is way down.

Mom, what's wrong with Mikey?

I don't know, honey.

This kid's gone. Still nothing.

You're not giving up!

We're not stopping.

Three, four, five.

There's something wrong here.

I think you need
to call Homicide.

Increasing the rate.

Are you guys the detectives?

We're undercover.

Special jaywalking
duty on 14th Street.

He's got writer's cramp.
Must've given out 20 tickets.

What's this about?

Michael Sutter, 12. His mother says
he was paralyzed from the neck down.

She's the one that
called 911 at 5:17.

The paramedics
pronounced him dead.

So a sick kid dies. Why call us?

Ask him. HOWE: Check his lips.

Blue tint.

Cyanosis. Kid's got
micro-hemorrhaging in both eyes.

Suffocated? Looks that way.

No, you're wrong.

You must be wrong.
Nobody could have done that.

I was alone with
him all afternoon.

Why don't you take Mrs. Sutter
and her daughter to the living room?

Did I just hear a confession?

Michael used to be all
straight As. Played soccer.

But then Dad took him
skiing two years ago.

They were driving
back, and hit some ice.

There was only
one airbag. Dad's.

Was anybody else here when
your mother found Michael?

Just Mom. We don't
get a lot of company.

What about your dad?

He was working. On Long Island.

He's a landscape engineer.

And where were
you this afternoon?

After school, I hung
out with some friends,

and then I had to pick
up some groceries.

Then I came home, and...

And he was...

Michael's care is your
mother's responsibility?

The insurance stopped
covering the health care worker,

so Mom had to quit
her counseling job.

Your mom get along with Michael?

Nobody gets along with Michael.

His brain was like a baby's.

We were at the hospital today.

Every Tuesday
he goes for dialysis.

We came home around 3:00.

He fell asleep on the
way back in the van.

And from 3:00 until you found
him, did you check in on him?

Do you do this kind of questioning
after every family tragedy?

Only when we need answers.

So you never went out
for coffee or anything?

I went to pick up the paper.

I wasn't gone more
than five minutes.

And nobody dropped by?


You take care of your son by
yourself. You gave up your career?

It was no sacrifice.

You were holed up with
your kid for two years.

You couldn't have
been too happy about it.

What are you saying?

You think I killed him?

Michael was my son.

He was a sick little boy.

He just died. God
just took my boy away!

Kid was a quadriplegic.

Could he have just
stopped breathing?

The M.E. says that if
somebody hadn't suffocated him,

he would've kept on
breathing for another 60 years.

And there were no marks? No
abrasions around his mouth or nose?

No. It wouldn't have taken
much pressure. Probably a pillow.

M.E.'s preliminary report sets
the time of death around 3:30, 4:00.

Well, the call to
911 came in at 5:17.

That gives Mom plenty
of time to clean up.

So the mother
might have tampered

with evidence that
might have existed.

Unless somebody came in while
she was out getting the paper,

and did her the
favor of killing the kid.

Well, so far, she's the only
one with the boy all afternoon.

Did he get any kind of insurance
settlement? Maybe in trust?

Single car accident.
Nobody to sue.

The insurance covers most
of the medical bills, but that's it.

What's the daughter think?

That Mom's not a happy camper.

See if Mr. Sutter agrees.

And, guys, about this
jaywalking assignment,

it came from the top.

It's all about my
lawsuit. I'm sorry.

It's not natural, picking
out a casket for your son.

Salesman starts telling me
about mahogany and hardware,

like I'm comparison
shopping or something.

We appreciate how
hard this is for you.

Mrs. Sutter, she was the one

who usually took
care of Michael?

Well, I did what I
could on the weekends.

Was your wife resentful
about being stuck at home?

You know, Lois warned
me about you guys.

Look, if she were happy
about it, she'd be a fool.

She quit being a social worker,

I quit going for overtime,

which has made us practically
broke, as I'm sure you know by now.

Mr. Sutter, we're
trying to be fair.

But your wife was home,
and your son was murdered.

I don't believe that.

Well, can you think of anyone
else who would want to hurt Michael?

Nobody wanted to hurt Michael.

I mean, maybe somebody
broke in when Lois stepped out.

Tried to rob the place.

There was no sign of that.

I mean, you didn't find
anything missing, right?

Anyone outside of your family
have a key to your apartment?

There's our
neighbors, the Hodges.

I think they still have a key.
But they didn't kill Michael, either.

He was a nice boy.

You know, Joe blamed himself
for what happened, driving so fast.

Next drawer over.

Joe saved the boy's life.

Gave him CPR for half an hour.

Could the key be missing?

No, no, no. It's in
here someplace.

Did you see any of the
Sutters Tuesday afternoon?

I said hi when Lois brought
Michael home from the hospital.

I was on my way out.

Tuesdays it's ceramics,
and today it was art class.

I tried to encourage
Lois to do that.

Bridge, book club, something.

I know she started going to a
dance studio right around the corner.

She needs to get out. No
one should have such tsuris.

Here it is.

She was pretty bitter, huh?
Alone with Michael all day?

She seemed happier lately.

That's the makeup. She
started painting her face again.

Can't change the inside,
you change the outside.

Would you two like to
be fixed up with partners?

No, we're together. You have
a student named Lois Sutter?

Lois? Yes. Yes. She comes
every Friday afternoon.

How long she been coming here?

About three months now.

Quite talented. She's
moved up to intermediate.

I mean, really, she's a
natural at salsa and tango.

Any particular student
she's friendly with?

I couldn't say. I
teach beginners.

Mr. Gilbert teaches the
Latin steps, but he's off today.

I'm sure he'd know.

He sometimes
shares a cab with her.

Excuse me. Something I
really have to put a stop to.

She shares a taxi
for a half-a-block ride?

I'm guessing Gilbert's
bedroom's a little further away.

Who I share a taxi with
is none of your business.

And I haven't done anything
improper with any of my students.

Maybe we should get them all
together for a teacher evaluation.

Yeah, women are a
little harder to charm

when they find out they're
number 12 in the conga line.

I teach dance. It's sensual.

It's only natural that
bonds would form.

With Lois Sutter?

Mr. Gilbert, we're not the press
corps, and you're not the President.

We need an honest answer.

It's not what you think.
We've grown very close.

Close enough she'd share
confidences about her family?

Yes. I'd say her husband
doesn't understand her,

but Lois's husband
doesn't even know her.

What about her son?
She talk about him, too?

Husband, son, her daughter.

She wanted out
of that situation.

She told you that?

Foreplay generally consisted of
letting her vent for half an hour.

When she was here on
Tuesday, it was the same drill.

This Tuesday? What time?

She came by
mid-afternoon, around 3:30.

She left at 4:40.

You seem pretty
sure about the time.

Well, she looked at her
watch. She said she had to go.

Anybody see you two together?

Well, the whole point
was not to be seen.

She checked her watch, huh?

Guess you couldn't
have been all that good.

Please don't tell my husband.

It'll just kill him.

Tell him what?

About Gilbert, or that
you killed your son?

I did not kill Michael.

No, you were too busy
doing the horizontal cha-cha.


It's a nice alibi, but
we're not buying it.

You wanted out of
your marriage. No.

You couldn't stand sleeping next to a guy
who'd turned your son into a potted plant.

As long as Michael
was still alive,

you didn't have
the guts to walk out.

No. No, please.

How'd you do it? With
a pillow? A blanket?

Michael just died.

Here's the Medical Examiner's
report. Read what it says right here.

"Hemorrhaging in
his eyes, cyanosis,

"depleted oxygen
in his blood stream."

You know what that means?

That can't be Michael.

"Michael B. Sutter."
That's your son.

"Death by manual asphyxiation."

No, it can't be.

That's impossible.

It's right there in
black and white.

She couldn't have. Who?

I can't believe she'd hurt him.

Who'd hurt him?

I left him with Stephanie.

Your daughter?

Oh, God.

I don't care what you
say, I wasn't home,

and Mom was watching Michael.

Your mother spent the
afternoon with her boyfriend.

Now, we don't know what
she told you she was doing,

but she told us that you
were at home covering for her.

You killed your brother.

She... She said that?

Why'd you do it, Stephanie?

Were you jealous of all the attention
he got? All the trouble he caused?

No. Come on.

The whole family was
falling apart because of him.

Okay, take it
easy, take it easy.

You're a minor, your
family has big problems.

The judge is gonna
be sympathetic.

You just have to tell
us what happened.

I mean, your brother was
barely living anyway, right?

I wasn't there. I was with
Kara from my bio class.

Your mom's a better liar
than you are, Stephanie.

It's the truth.

My mom was always
sticking me with him.

I mean, all he ever
did was lie in bed.

And all he ever cared about
was watching TV, eating,

and crapping his pants.

So as soon as my mom left,

I ditched him.

I'm sorry. I just couldn't
stand to be with him anymore.

Hooked up with Stephanie
around a quarter after 3:00.

Where'd you go?

The Asteroid Palace,
down on Broadway.

We played video games.

How long were you there?

I don't know, about an hour.

She have anything to
say about her brother?

Steph's always got something
to say about the vegetable.

That's what she called him.

He's a pain in the ass.

Why? She used to trip over him?

Steph and I were gonna
go away to college together.

Not anymore. No money.

Stephanie was pretty
angry about that, huh?

Look, Stephanie's
not a bad person.

Just nothing ever
seems to go her way.

What was her mood
Tuesday afternoon?

I don't know. She was fine.

She seem nervous? Distracted?

Yeah, she was distracted by one

of those guys that
gives you the quarters.

I think he was
hot for me, though.

Couple of the arcade workers
confirm the girl was there.

Yeah, and in high spirits.

Her brother's dead, all
her problems are solved.

That's pretty cold-blooded.
Is that the kind of girl she is?

I didn't see a lot
of ice in her veins.

She walked out on her brother. She's
cut from the same iceberg as her mother.

So the boy was alone
from 3:00 to 5:00,

which is when he got murdered.

Go back to the M.E. Nail
down the time of death.

Forget the time
he actually died.

He was poisoned
two hours before that.


When you called, I had
the lab pull out all the stops.

Kid's tox screens
spiked for nicotine.

I knew he was a
12-year-old quadriplegic,

so I figured he wasn't a smoker.

Unless somebody was
holding the cigarette for him.

I checked the
intestinal contents.

What we thought were carrots tested
positive for coniine. Hemlock root.

Poison hemlock? Isn't that
what Socrates died from?

Forensics says
the stuff grows wild.

Not just in ancient Greece.

Paralyzes the muscles,
and finally the lungs.

Already paralyzed,
nobody'd notice he was dying.

Nobody'd notice because
no one was watching him.

The kid had lunch at the
hospital with his mother.


Michael Sutter came in at 9:30

and was discharged at 2:15.

He was in this room.

It's okay, you don't
have to get up.

So you talked to Mrs. Sutter?

Yes, about Michael.

Unfortunately, nothing had
changed since the accident.

Mr. Blake, you're not feeling
too dizzy this afternoon?


Michael was a real trouper.

The kind of damage he
suffered is terribly tragic.

More than Mrs.
Sutter could deal with?

You can't imagine the
pressure this puts on a family.

If Mrs. Sutter did do something
to help end her son's pain,

nobody can fault her for
feeling the way she did.

Did she fix his lunch?

Michael was supposed to
have a hospital lunch. Why?

The meal may have
been tampered with.

Anyone other than Mrs.
Sutter have access to it?

That I don't know. I wasn't
in the hospital at lunchtime.

Oh. Here we go. Michael
had his usual meal at 1:00.

One of the candy stripers
would've delivered it.

My school's vocational program
lets me work here two days a week.

I hope I'm not in any trouble.

No, no trouble, Martha.

Did you keep an eye on
your food cart last Tuesday?

I don't watch it all the time,

but I just leave it
alone in the corridor

for a sec when I'm
in the patient's room.

Do you remember bringing
a food tray to Michael Sutter?

Michael? Sure. Nice family.

Who'd you hand the tray to?

I don't remember.

I might have just
put it on his bed table.

Did you happen to notice if his
mother did anything to his food?

No, I don't remember seeing her.

Okay. Thanks, Martha.

Any visitors?

I don't know. People
come, people go.

I don't much notice.

What about the food cart?

You notice anybody
messing with it?

Nobody. That I'd
notice. Excuse me.

The girl doesn't remember
seeing Mrs. Sutter near the food.

Well, somebody
had to feed the kid.

And somebody had
to see them do it.

There are two beds in the room.

I've had too many
difficult days lately.

Dialysis once a
week for two years.

Just like the Sutter boy.

Last Tuesday, he
was in your room

at Hudson Terrace, the next bed.

Plays his TV too loud.

You recall you both ate
lunch in your room that day?

I certainly do.
Meatloaf. Too dry.

I hate dietetic pudding.

You know, Michael can't
even wipe his own chin.

On Tuesday, you remember seeing

Michael's mother
feed him his lunch?

No, I don't.

His father fed him.

He cared enough
to bring something

with a little taste
to put on the food.

Lord knows, it needs it.

The stuff he put on the
food, what did it look like?

I couldn't really see it.
He said it was cinnamon.

Hemlock? What's that
got to do with Joe Sutter?

Well, it grows wild.

You're in the
landscape business.

He works for you.

Yeah, for nine years.

Helped turn my business around.

Nobody worked harder than Joe.

Worked? When did
he stop working hard?

His kid's condition made it
impossible for him to pull a full week.

He resent that?

I resented that.

When I heard the kid died,

part of me actually felt relief.

I get Joe back, he
gets his life back.

Well, if I had a
kid like Michael,

I wouldn't want to
see him suffering.

Is that how Joe
felt? Who wouldn't?

One time, after work, Joe
hoisted a few too many.

Said he wished he'd never
breathed air into his kid.

Said he didn't save
Michael, only pieces of him.

So the hemlock, would
Joe know where to find it?

Any one of us
could find it. Why?

We're gonna need a list of
Sutter's last few projects, all right?


You're backed up against a
wall. Your life's falling apart.

It was somebody
else. The hospital.

I mean, they kept
changing the nurses,

and then they stuck us
with this doctor, Semenko.

I mean, they didn't give a damn.

They had no reason to want
to see him dead. You did.

Look what's happened
to your beautiful family.

Your wife's sleeping
with some dance teacher,

your daughter's one step
away from living on the street,

and you have no money,
and all because of that kid.

You don't know me.

If you knew me, you would see.

I know you.

If you had the stones...

You don't know this man, Lennie.

Look, this isn't about
money or adultery

or anything like
that, is it, Joe?

My wife's got MS.

I picture her life 10 years
from now and it kills me

because it might not
be a pretty picture.

You see your boy,
he used to be strong.

Played soccer, yeah? Yes.

My wife used to run
three miles every morning.

Did you imagine Michael at
20 years old? Forty years old?

Still in that same room,
same bed, same tortured pain?


Me, too.

And you want to know the worst
thing? I know why it's happening.

It's my fault.

God is punishing her
because of something I did.

No. No, see, you
cannot think like that.

I tell myself that, but...

Every time I look
at her, I feel the guilt.

Every time I think of her,

every time I think of my daughters
and what they're going to lose.

Someone you love is suffering.

They have no hope.

What can you do
to help this person?

I mean, how often have you
asked yourself this question?

When you bathe him?

Every time I kissed
him good night.

And you knew there
was only one answer.

You had to do it.

You had to do it
because you loved him.

Let it go.

It was an act of love, Joe.

I loved Michael.

All right, maybe I...

But I didn't do this.

I didn't kill him.

I thought Curtis had him.

Three months ago,

Sutter spent a week replanting the
median on the Southern State Parkway.

Forensics surveyed the area.

"Conium maculatum. Hemlock,
two acres scattered growth,

"30 meters east of
construction site."

Not exactly a smoking gun.

We've got motive,
access to the exact poison,

a witness to the feeding.
They can't all confess.

Can I leave now?

Not for about another 30 years.

You're under arrest for
the murder of your son.

You have the right
to remain silent.

Anything you do say can and will
be used against you in a court of law.

You have the right to an
attorney. If you cannot afford one...

Mr. Sutter's not a flight risk.

His only family's
here in New York.

He's charged with killing
a member of that family.

Even if we accept the
People's allegations,

Mr. Sutter can't be considered
a threat to the community.

Bail is set at
$100,000. Next case.

"Docket number 661254..."

Excuse me. Who do I
see about posting bail?

Who are you?

Roy Cashman.

You're posting
bail for Joe Sutter?

Yeah, so what?

I have you down as
a prosecution witness.

You told the police he said he
wished he'd never saved his son.

I never said anything like that.

Look, I know what
Joe is going through.

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

Cashman's going
to testify for Sutter.

Briscoe and Curtis can rebut.

Plus, we've got two others who
confirm Sutter wanted the boy dead.

I spoke to the kid's
doctor, Lyle Semenko.

He's backing off, too.

This father kills his kid,
and the world still loves him.

They think he committed
an act of mercy.

Character witnesses, Cashman,
Semenko, none of it matters.

Who told us his
father spiked the food?

That's your
witness to nail down.

Miss Goring told me I
didn't have to talk to you.

She was wrong.
What did you tell her?

That I was in the room when
Mr. Sutter was feeding Michael.

That he didn't do
anything to the food.

You told her? Or she told you?

I'm pretty sure about
it. I was in the room.

Mrs. Bing says she saw
Mr. Sutter spike Michael's food.

She also doesn't remember
you being in the room.

Maybe Mrs. Bing's wrong.

Martha, Miss Goring's
job is protecting murderers.

You're helping her do that.

I used to talk to the
Sutters all the time.

I saw the way they
were with Michael.

They loved Michael.

I see Martha
McSorley all the time.

She works hard, but
she cares too much.

Whenever somebody
dies, it becomes personal.

She says she stayed in the
Sutters' room right through lunch.

She's got 30 trays to deliver. You
know how much time that takes?

No way she can hang
out in one patient's room

and deliver all those trays.

No way she could do it, or
you know she didn't do it?

You told the police you
saw her during her rounds.

You're gonna want me to testify?

That's the idea.

Guess I can't say
for sure. It was quiet.

I snuck out to the
stairwell for a smoke.

Then how do you know
nobody tampered with the food?

'Cause nobody could have.

'Cause when I ducked out, there
was a doctor standing by the food cart

doing some paperwork. He
was still there when I came back.

Nobody's gonna mess with
trays while a doctor's right there.

Do you remember which doctor?

Dr. Semenko.

McSorley's definitely lying.

We've got a bigger problem.
Dr. Semenko's lying, too.

The boy's doctor?

An orderly said he saw Semenko
hanging around the food cart

while McSorley was
making her rounds.

Semenko told Briscoe and
Curtis he was out of the building.

You sure he didn't just
forget where he was?

I just hope we
didn't put the Sutters

through the wringer for nothing.

Talk to Semenko's boss. Find
out if he's just absent-minded.

Semenko's a good physician.

hard-working, responsible.

Even Dr. Schweitzer
had his detractors.

Well, there was one complaint.
About three months ago.

A young woman badly
injured in a car accident.

She'd been here four days,
seemed to be out of danger,

then she just died.

Unexplained respiratory failure.

She was in Dr. Semenko's care?

She was under the care
of several specialists.

Dr. Semenko wasn't
even her primary.

What was the conclusion?

An investigation determined
the patient died of natural causes.

Stuff like that just happens.

Whose investigation? Ours.

And you never thought to
mention any of this to the police?

Our counsel advised we
were under no legal obligation.

And like I said, Semenko
and the others were cleared.

Just this one incident? How
long has he worked here?

A little over six months.

But I think you're
barking up the wrong tree.

Where did he work before Hudson?

Bergen County Clinical in New
Jersey. He came highly recommended.

It was a mutual decision.

We were facing cutbacks.
Dr. Semenko wanted to move to the city.

The fact that his mortality rate

was 14 times that of
any other staff physician

had nothing to do with your
decision to cut him loose?

How did you know...

I just came from
the County Coroner.

A 61-year-old woman
has gallbladder surgery,

a 17-year-old boy
having back surgery,

and about a half dozen others.

None of them had
life-threatening problems.

All of them were treated by
Dr. Semenko, and now they're all dead.

He was cleared of any
malpractice charges.

We're talking about murder.

He was cleared in each of
the incidents you mentioned.

By your own
impartial review board?

The primary concern of this
hospital is our patients' well-being.

If one of our
doctors is a danger,

we want to deal
with the problem.

By passing it along
to the next hospital.

Dr. Semenko is a
responsible physician.

I've watched him work.

When his patients
suffered setbacks,

he always compiled
complete case studies.

He attended every postmortem.

And yet his patients
kept right on dying.

You can't predict an appendix
patient having an aneurysm.

You can't predict a high school
senior suffering nicotine poisoning.

Nicotine poisoning? It happens.

There's no way Dr. Semenko
could have known.

The boy's parents didn't
even know he used tobacco.

Nice botany books, Doc.

Anything in here on how
to grow poison hemlock?

I'm surprised you don't
seize my anatomy books

and arrest me on porno charges.

Got stuff here looks like
oregano. Smells like oregano, too.

And is oregano.

If you're making
pasta later, take some.

No other greens except
for some Romaine lettuce

that I can tell you is for real.

But you can get rid of it. You
got no snap in your stems.

Can I have my home back now?

Hey, Doc,

where do you keep this baby?

We'd like to take a
look under the hood.

I don't own a car.

You just collect the manuals?

I sold that car.

What's this? "Car-Finder."

This one of those
satellite locating systems?

It was an expensive car. I was
concerned about it getting stolen.

Well, why don't we activate
the system, see what turns up?

Lake Hill Country
Club. Dr. Lyle Semenko.

What, you threw the
clubs in with the car?

Hey, Lennie, what's
this? More oregano?

Wouldn't want to
sprinkle this on my pasta.

Unless you want some.

You're under arrest
for murder, Doc.

You have the right
to remain silent.

Anything you say can and will be
used against you in a court of law.

You've got no witnesses.

You've got no forensic evidence

linking my client to
Michael Sutter's food.

We've got poison
hemlock in his car.

I'd love to hear his
explanation for that.

You and I both know that
the jury will crucify him.

Murder two. He does 25.

Your client took the life
of a defenseless child.

What life?

That boy was in constant pain.

You want us to start weighing
crimes based on the value of the victim?

I had a 95-year-old
client in Florida.

Shot his agonizing,
cancer-ridden wife to death.

Jury hit him with a $50 fine.

This jury's gonna
know that Dr. Semenko

was acting out of
compassion for the victim.

I think your client's shown a
little too much compassion.

We've looked into his
employment history.

I estimate he's responsible for 17
deaths at four different hospitals.

The hospitals let him skate
by, but the buck stops here.

Get your affairs in order.

We're going to trial.

You're spending the rest
of your life behind bars.

Mercy killing.

It worked for Dr. Kevorkian.

This guy's no Kevorkian.

I'm giving you my opinion
without having met the guy,

but he sounds like what we call

a custodial poisoner
or asphyxiator.

Plain vanilla serial killer?

A little more charming
than most, but yeah.

He rubbernecked at
every patient's postmortem,

like a kid torturing a
bug and watching it die.

And these deaths. Starts with
ODs on prescription medicines.

Then he gets
bolder, uses poisons.

Stuffs bandages down
some lady's throat.

He didn't get
charged on that one?

Half a dozen of the staff
had access to the patient.

The hospital
just fired them all.

You don't think Semenko
wanted to get caught?


No, he got bolder because
he got more confident.

He believed he was
operating above the rules.

When nobody caught him,
everything got reinforced.

We haven't caught
him yet, either.

Motion in limine.

Semenko's lawyer
wants to preclude

any mention of the other deaths.

Oh, yeah.

A doctor has a run of bad luck,

but that does not
make him a killer.

Bad luck had
nothing to do with this.

Mr. Semenko is a serial killer.

He was never charged
in those other deaths.

Your Honor, People v. Molineux.

They are prior bad acts. The
evidence is not admissible.

It's not even
relevant, Mr. McCoy.

People v. Mees. These
acts establish motive.

The defendant is
trying to convince a jury

that he acted out of mercy

when he has a track record of
killing perfectly healthy patients.

Molineux, even as
extended by Mees,

allows only similar
prior bad acts.

Not one of these other
deaths involved a patient

who had zero
expectation of recovery.

This is perverse!

Mr. Gillum is saying that because
this killer never showed mercy,

he should be allowed to argue
that he's a mercy killer this time.

You have a point, Mr. McCoy.

But this doesn't meet
the Molineux exceptions.

And if I have to choose
between an A.D.A.

and the Court of
Appeals, guess who wins?

The evidence is suppressed.

Michael Sutter was
murdered by the defendant.

This is not in dispute.

The defense will give you
reasons why it's not a bad thing.

They'll tell you that Michael
Sutter had no quality of life.

It's true that Michael Sutter
wasn't going to grow up to be

a teacher or an engineer or
a doctor, like the defendant.

But he liked to watch TV.

He loved his family.

And he was alive.

The defense will tell you

that taking Michael Sutter's
life was the merciful thing to do.

Michael Sutter's family will
tell you that they loved Michael.

They miss Michael.

This case is not a
debate about euthanasia.

It's about a thrill
killing by a monster

masquerading as
an angel of mercy.

Michael Sutter is dead.

He was murdered.
That's all that matters.

Mr. McCoy is right,
the law is simple.

It only sees black and white.

But reality?

Well, reality has all sorts
of shades of gray, doesn't it?

Dr. Semenko didn't just
wake up one morning

and on a whim decide
to kill Michael Sutter.

Michael Sutter's
parents know that.

And although it may be
very hard for them to admit it,

they wanted this death.

And they made that
very clear to Dr. Semenko,

who had the courage, in
the face of an antiquated law,

to act in the best interests
of a suffering child.

The State tries to
lock up people like this.

They have put Dr. Jack
Kevorkian on trial

over and over again, but
he's never been convicted.

Because juries,
juries just like you,

have always
recognized the truth.

Dr. Lyle Semenko
is not a criminal.

He's a hero.

I read him stories every night.

It's funny,

he had the same
favorites he did as a baby.

After all the suffering,
after all the damage,

he was still the
same little boy.

Did you love him, Mr. Sutter?

You don't stop loving
your son when he gets hurt.

And you don't stop loving
your son when he dies.

Mr. Sutter, did you ever ask
Dr. Semenko to end your son's life?


It's horrifying

that he could blame this on us.

I mean, that anybody could think

that we wanted this.

Mr. Sutter, Michael's care has cost
you almost a quarter of a million dollars

since the accident, hasn't it?

Whatever it was,
it was worth it.

I understand.

But you had a college
fund for your daughter,

and now that's
gone, isn't that right?


And your relationship with
your wife has grown strained?

She was having an affair?

Michael's condition made
things very difficult for all of us.

And he wasn't going to
get any better, was he?

We hoped.

But, no.

In fact, there was only one way

that Michael's suffering
was going to end,

and you knew that, didn't you?


I could never take...
Now, on December 12th,

did you take Michael to an
appointment with Dr. Semenko?

I took Michael to
many appointments.

And did you say to Dr. Semenko that
Michael didn't deserve to live like this?

Didn't you tell Dr. Semenko

that you wished Michael's
suffering would end?

No, I might have said that,

but I didn't mean I
wanted him dead.

Mr. Sutter,

if you had to do
it all over again,

I mean, if you had known how
much Michael was going to suffer,

would you have pulled
him out of that car?

I loved Michael.

I know that, Mr. Sutter.

But would you
have saved his life?

No. Thank you.

Do you remember coming to the
hospital with your daughter Stephanie

on a Saturday
morning last November?

Michael woke up
with a fever of 103.

It turned out to be a flu virus.

And did Stephanie want
to come to the hospital?

Her brother was sick.

Didn't she tell you that she would
rather be skating with her friends?

Objection. He's
leading his own witness.


Did you fight with your
daughter at the hospital?

I don't recall.

Do you recall Dr. Semenko
being in the room

when you were
arguing with Stephanie?

Objection. She
doesn't recall arguing.

A priori, she can't recall
who might have been present.

Next question, Mr. Gillum.

Your Honor, permission to
treat this witness as hostile.

Go ahead.

Didn't Stephanie tell you that she
didn't give a damn about Michael?

That she had stuff to do?

Objection. Hearsay.

Offered to show the defendant's
state of mind, Your Honor.

Overruled. The
witness will answer.

She might have said some
things she shouldn't have.

Like calling Michael
a vegetable?

She was angry. She
wanted to hurt me.

Wasn't she worried
about hurting her brother?

He couldn't understand.


He couldn't even understand
when his own sister said

that she wished he
were dead, could he?

She didn't mean it.

She just didn't want to
see Michael suffer anymore.

None of us did.

I know.

Thank you.

Mrs. Sutter, did you

ever tell Dr. Semenko
to end Michael's life?


Thank you.

Dr. Semenko, does
Hudson Terrace Hospital

have a policy regarding
assisted suicide?

Yes. In all New York
hospitals it's strictly prohibited.

And is this ever a
subject of discussion

amongst your fellow physicians?


The rules reflect a
wrong-headed view

of dealing with death and dying.

Do you and your colleagues have
methods to get around these rules?

We physicians risk being
charged with trafficking in drugs

just by providing morphine
to terminal patients.

The State doesn't want
us to turn them into junkies.

And every day, in every
hospital in this country,

a doctor calls for a slow code.

Objection. Contrary to
what the defendant thinks,

he can't possibly
know what goes on

in every hospital
in the country.


Dr. Semenko, would you please
define the term "slow code"?

When a patient is beyond hope
and requires life-saving measures,

a slow code means the staff
just goes through the motions.

They let the patient die.

And this is done according
to the patient's instructions?

No, it's done when, in the
attending physician's opinion,

death would be best.

Michael Sutter wasn't terminal.

He could have lived
another, what, 50, 60 years?

His heart would
have kept on beating,

his lungs would have
kept on breathing,

and the pain would never stop.

Sometimes I have to tell people

the worst news they
think they'll ever hear,

the death of their loved one.

But somehow they wake up the
next morning, and their life goes on.

People couldn't function
if they couldn't move on.

The Sutters couldn't move
on. They needed to move on.

Did the Sutters ask you
to end their son's life?

There was no doubt
about what they wanted.

They knew their son's life,

in any meaningful way, was over.

I was just the instrument,
doing what they wanted done.

What they couldn't
bring themselves to do.

Thank you, Doctor. Your witness.

Your Honor, it's almost 12:00.

I wonder if we could
take our noon recess?

The jury's buying it.
Semenko's hammering us.

He's smart, he's
confident, he's charming.

Same pathology that
makes him a serial killer

makes him a hell of a witness.

He must have some weakness.

You ever once hear
him question what he did?

The Sutters needed to move on.

Absolute knowledge.
Absolute certainty.

Some kind of God complex?

His narcissism.

Power to save life,
power to end life.

More fascinated with death.

Jack, somebody that's
in love with himself

isn't going to like having
his opinions challenged.

He'll hate it.

One weakness he does have,

he's not afraid of you.

Mr. McCoy, are you
ready to proceed?

Yes, Your Honor.

Michael Sutter isn't the first
severely handicapped patient

you've had in your care, is he?

No. I've had many.

Did you kill them all?


Sustained. Watch
your step, Mr. McCoy.

I'll rephrase.

When dealing with other
patients with similar difficulties,

how did you justify allowing
some of them to live?

Every case must be
assessed on its own merits.

By you? No need
to consult the family?

The Sutters had already
made their wishes known.

But ultimately, it
was your decision,

and you weren't
afraid to make it?

I have the training.

The training to decide
who should die, and when?

The training to recognize
when there is no more hope.

And did your training tell you to
use hemlock to kill a helpless boy?

Coniine, the active ingredient,
causes the lungs to shut down.

It's an effective
agent of death.

It causes all
muscles to shut down.

It's a horribly
painful death, isn't it?

My specialty is
spinal cord injuries.

That's why the Sutters
chose me to care for their boy.

Michael's death was
relatively pain-free.


Wouldn't potassium chloride have
been quick and completely pain-free?

The difference is,

that would have raised red flags

all around the
hospital, isn't that right?

If you're implying that my
medical opinion was compromised

by a desire not to be
detected, you're right.

I would rather be in a hospital
right now, caring for my patients,

than defending this
ridiculous charge.

But Michael Sutter's
death was humane.

You have no doubt at all?

No. It was the
right thing to do.

Then why didn't you come forward

when Mr. Sutter was
charged with murder?

Come on, Dr. Semenko.

If you have such confidence
in your own goodness,

why let an innocent
man go to jail?

Objection, Your Honor.


Dr. Semenko,
answer his question.

I don't know.

Is it because deep in your heart
you knew what you did was wrong?

That you had committed murder?

No more questions.

No, I want to answer.

I have confidence
in the judicial system.

I knew Mr. Sutter
would be found innocent.

If I stepped forward,
I'd lose my license.

I'd lose my ability to continue
my work to care for my patients.

He's awfully slick. The bastard.

He said the Sutters chose him.

Joe Sutter told the police the
hospital assigned Semenko to them.

Maybe Semenko's lying,
trying to build himself up.

Check it out.

Has the jury reached a verdict?

Yes, we have, Your Honor.

On the first count
of the indictment,

Murder in the Second
Degree, how do you find?

We find the
defendant not guilty.

On the second count
of the indictment,

Manslaughter in the First
Degree, how do you find?

We find the
defendant not guilty.

And on the final
count of the indictment,

Manslaughter in the Second
Degree, how do you find?

We find the defendant guilty.

They're calling Semenko
the next Kevorkian.

Read on.

They've already
received donations

for his appeal
from all 50 states.

Yeah, well, don't be surprised

if the Sutters kick
in a few extra bucks.

The hospital confirmed
Joe Sutter asked for their son

to be transferred
to Semenko's care.

I don't want to hear this.

I pulled Lois Sutter's resume.

Her last job, she spent two days
a week at Bergen County Clinical.

She was there for five of
Semenko's suspicious deaths.

They knew. They put their
kid in front of a loaded gun.

What are you gonna do about it?

You couldn't even convict
Semenko of murder.

Who's joining me for dinner?