Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999–…): Season 20, Episode 14 - The Flying Dutchman - full transcript

As Stone prosecutes the case of a woman who killed her abusive husband, Benson and her squad wrestle with the duty of testifying against her.

In the criminal justice system,

sexually based offenses

are considered especially heinous.

In New York City,
the dedicated detectives

who investigate these vicious felonies

are members of an elite squad

known as the Special Victims Unit.

These are their stories.

Yeah, so...

And that's all you want to tell me?


Then we are done here.

Hello, Annabeth.

My name is Olivia Benson.

This is a very simple case.

The defendant, Annabeth Pearl,

hosted a dinner party
with her husband, Thomas,

at their apartment on West 26th street.

Three people ate New York strip,

baked potatoes, and creamed spinach.

Three hours later,
when the guests had left

and the dishes were loaded
into the dishwasher,

Annabeth put on her nightie...

walked into the den...

picked up the gun that was
sitting on the coffee table,

and shot her husband, Thomas,
three times

while he was watching TV.

The detectives assigned to this case

will tell you how
they arrested Annabeth

less than an hour later
at a local eatery

with the murder weapon
still in her possession.

They'll tell you how,
without provocation,

she confessed to the murder.

Now, the defense will play
on your emotions.

They'll tell you about a bad marriage,

an abused wife.

But what they can't tell you

is that Thomas ever hit Annabeth

or that she was ever in imminent fear

of physical harm.

This is a very simple case.

Annabeth Pearl is guilty
of murder in the second degree.

- How's it going?
- Ah, great.

- Oof.
- Oh, Jesus.

Hey, I wouldn't drink that

unless your tongue is made of asbestos.

You... you could have told me that

before I burned my fingers.


Rollins, SVU.

Yeah. Bucci, 2-8.

Whatcha got?

Uh, husband and wife thing.

Yeah. Robbery at a bodega.

Teenage girl ripped off
a case of tampons

while her boyfriend
emptied the register.


I hate this. Waiting.

Not me.

I get to sit here, read the paper.

Nobody's calling me an SOB,
nobody's shooting at me.

Life could be worse.

Detective Bucci.

- Yeah?
- You're on.

- Part 21.
- All right.

- You alone?
- Yep.

What you got?

All right.

Anything but the jellies.

Ooh, thank you.

No sign of Liv?

No, I was hoping you heard something.

Scruples are a hard thing to live with.

What if she doesn't show?

Then she doesn't show.

Her testimony will be
the nails in Annabeth's coffin.

Without it, Stone...


Will be hot as that cup of coffee.

What Mr. Stone didn't tell you

was that Thomas took one bite
of his New York strip,

spit it out,

and then told Annabeth he was going

to give the rest
to the neighbor's beagle.

What Mr. Stone didn't tell you

was that that dinner
was the culmination

of six years of continuous
psychological abuse.

The straw that crippled
the camel, if you will.

Criticism, insults, blame...

all of which served

to diminish Annabeth's dignity,

destroy her self-worth,

and erase her self-confidence.

Now, Mr. Stone may call

what Annabeth did "murder,"

But I call it self-preservation.

I'm sure you will, too.

This room gives me the willies.

The belly of the beast.

Yeah, well, my belly feels like

the professor's about
to hand out the final exam.

It's Annabeth that should
be nervous, not you.

This is wrong.

Don't go all Liv on us, all right?

The woman shot her husband

because he didn't like her dinner.

Life should be so easy.

Come on, not you, too.

I don't judge.

Is it hot in here?

Hell always is.

Yeah, he is.

- He's going full Liv.
- Somebody has to.

Yeah, that's right.

And that "somebody"
interrogated Annabeth.

I wonder who that could be?

What if she doesn't show?

Look, man, we can only do our job.

- What, that's all this is to you?
- Yeah.

I get up in the morning
and I get dressed.

I come to the office.
After that, I go home.

At the end of the week, I get
a check and the check clears.

- That's called a job.
- Okay, you know what?

It's not all on us, though, Carisi.

We do our part,

but the rest is up to a judge and jury.

All right, so what happens upstairs,

that doesn't concern you at all?

The short and sweet is fine with me.

Oh, please, give me a break.

This from the guy who flew to Cuba

on his own nickel
to catch a fugitive rapist.

And you, with that Labott girl...

Carisi, have a donut.

Are you telling me

that you never even think about this?

I mean, the... the responsibility?

The... the power that we have?

I mean, I could get up
on that stand and I could lie.

I could say, "Yeah, Annabeth told me"

she planned on killing Thomas
for the past six months."

Now, I do that, she is done.

No question.

Or I could say I don't recall.

"I don't recall"
to anything that Stone asks me.

And maybe she gets to live
a nice, peaceful, safe life

- in a Chelsea apartment.
- Or door number three...

you tell the truth.

All I'm saying is...

It's a lot of power.

And who the hell are we?

Detective Tutuola.

- Yo.
- Part 33.

Carisi, chill out.

Have some donuts.

Jerry Griffin.

He's the bartender at the Tatum.

He met me outside in the front.

He told me Annabeth Pearl
was inside with a gun.

Mr. Griffin knew her personally?

Ms. Pearl and her husband
lived across the street.

It was their local joint.

What, if anything, did you do then?

I went inside.

I saw Ms. Pearl sitting alone

covered in blood

with the gun sitting
in front of her on the table.

Was there anything else on the table?

Yeah, what looked like a wedding ring.


Thank you, Sergeant.

I knew Tommy, you know?

- Who?
- Thomas Pearl.

The deceased.

I knew him in the Academy.

Once a prick, always a prick.

That explains a lot.

And the son of a bitch
was in this world for himself.

Not anymore, he's not.

This guy, he... he never
picked up a tab in his life.

He never paid off his bets.

He was this... this macho piece of crap

who was always bragging about

how he cheated on his girlfriend.

Thought a woman's place
was behind a desk.

Yeah, him and how many other cops?

Come on, it's not like that anymore.

Oh, yeah? It's not?

Good to know.

Wait, somebody's been
screwing with you?

Oh, forget it, Carisi.

Look, the guy may have been a dick,

but if he's gonna
take a bullet it deserves to be

from some... some yahoo hocking heroin

or robbing a bank or something.

- Not from his wife.
- Why?

Because she promised to honor,
cherish, and obey him?

Because he's a cop.


Just... come on, loosen up.

- All right, all right.
- Right?

Where the hell is Lieu?

You should be happy.

If she doesn't show up,
Annabeth will probably walk.

Hey, Lieu.

I, uh, wasn't sure
you were gonna show up.

- Well, neither was I.
- Yeah.

So, uh, listen, on... on this one,

there's... there's ways that you can

maybe color your testimony.

I mean, not out and out lie,

but just maybe you emphasize
certain parts.

What... what Annabeth told you.

Other parts, not so much.

Really, Carisi?

Well, you're the one
that interrogated Annabeth,

so people are gonna be pretty interested
in what you have to say.

- Well, if I say.
- Lieu, I'm sorry.

I'm not feeling okay
about this case, okay?

Maybe I feel like SOBs like Tommy Pearl

get exactly what they deserve.

When a cop gets killed,
it's an itch I can't scratch.

He's a cop who abused his wife!

With his words.
Annabeth didn't have to listen.

Look, guys, stop. Stop.

And law without empathy...

doesn't help anyone, Rollins.


I'm all about empathy.

Come on, it's...
it's coming out of my ears.

For eight years I'm drowning in it.

What about Tommy's gun, huh?
He just puts it on the table...

Yeah, he left it out.
Did he ever point it at her?

- Amanda.
- Did he threaten her?

This is not freshman English.

We don't have to read
between the lines.

- It's not our job.
- Maybe it is.

Maybe we shouldn't ignore the fact

that Annabeth was a victim.

Well, that kind of doesn't work

because it's her husband
who's the one in the casket.

He was a cop.

Liv, he wore the same shield as we do.

My lieutenant was convinced
there was domestic abuse.

Was there?

Well, her husband never hit her,

if that's what you mean.

Is that the only kind
of abuse contemplated

- by the statute?
- Objection,

the witness is not an attorney.


How many times
was Mr. Pearl shot, Sergeant?


And where were the wounds?

Two in the chest and one in the crotch.


Nothing further.


Sergeant, did the defendant,
Annabeth Pearl,

ever claim that she was raped
by her husband?

Not that I'm aware of.

Thank you.

Listen, my man, is...

is there anything you
can do about this heat?

I'll tell Wally,
but I doubt it's gonna change.

One thermostat for the whole floor.

Judge Finkel likes it this way.

Well, why don't you see
what you can do, okay?

- Thank you.
- Sure will.

You guys have a nice day.

You, too.

Sometimes I wish I had a job
like that guy.

Oh, so you could listen
to cops bitch all day long?

Something without consequence.

Think what you mean to say
is that you wish

that you weren't cursed
with a conscience.

Well, it's definitely a burden.

It also makes us human.

- Unless you're a sociopath.
- Oh, come on.

You... you actually think
that Annabeth is a sociopath?

I think she knew what she was doing,

and I think she didn't care.

Or she didn't see another way out.

Yeah, there we go.

Well, luckily we don't have
to read her mind.

But we do, Rollins.

Eighty grand a year
and we get to determine

who's spending the rest
of their life in a cage

and who's gonna eat dinner
at Del Frisco's.

Worrying about it
is way above our pay grade.

We do worry about it.

At least... at least we usually do.

Yeah? You never wanted
to put a couple of pops

between some guy's eyes?

I mean...

you know,
'cause I've wanted to, and I...

I would have really enjoyed it.

- But I didn't.
- Because you knew

that it was wrong.

Because I knew the consequences

and I chose not to.

And maybe she didn't have that luxury.

Annabeth chose it.

She chose to end that man's life.

She chose to take someone's life.

To break the law.

It's free will.

I mean, come on, we all learn about it

- in Sunday school.
- Yeah, yeah, yeah.

We're... we're free, all right.

We're free to believe
in the guy upstairs or not.

It's like a perjury trap.

Okay, all we have to do

is go up on the stand
and say what happened!

There's no choices!

There's no consequences to you!

They put a crown of thorns on Jesus,

but that did not make him king.

What is he talking about?

And neither does our shield.

But what we say
in that courtroom, Lieutenant,

how we say it, this... this game
could be over before it starts.

You know what, if you want
to commit perjury

because Tommy hurt
Annabeth's feelings...

Damn it, Rollins,
it is more complicated

than that and you know it.

- Okay.
- "Perjury."

I'm talking about the truth here,
and I'm gonna make sure

- the jury sees it.
- Yeah?

And Liv's testimony is gonna
turn them the other way.


I tell them exactly, verbatim...

what Annabeth told me.


I know the law better
than anybody in this room,

but I also know
my moral responsibility.

Killing Tommy
was Annabeth's only option.

Now, the law says that that's wrong.

- But morally...
- You're not a priest, Carisi.

Morally, the result is just.

You know what, I've got
one question for you:

Why didn't she walk out the door?

Why didn't she leave the damn bastard?

- Are you kidding me, Amanda?
- No!

For it to be a justifiable homicide,

there had to be an imminent threat

of death or... or serious
physical harm, right?

And was Tommy about to beat Annabeth?

No. Was he about to rape her?


You know how I know that?

Because that's what she told you.

When I was in the bag,

I took a domestic disturbance call.

All right?

Craig and Ellen Carter.

Their neighbor was complaining
because they were screaming

at each other all night.
They were cursing.

So I show up.

I calm everybody down

and do, you know,
what we're supposed to do.

And I'm looking at this guy
and I can just see in his eyes.

And he's got that smirk, you know?

So I take Ellen outside,
and I say, "Listen.

Listen, you've gotta
stand up for yourself."

I told her that she needed
to leave this guy.

But there's no signs
of physical violence

so that's... that's all I can do.

A month later...

I get another call.

The same house, same complaint.

Only this time...

Craig is taking her head and bashing it

against the wall, and she's dead.

So don't you stand there and say

that all she had to do
was walk out the damn door!

Detective Carisi.

That's me.

Part 33.

Mr. Griffin, the bartender
at the restaurant,

told me that Annabeth lived
across the street.

So based on the way
that she was dressed,

I assumed that she'd just
come from home.

So I went over there.

And what did you do once
you arrived at her apartment?

I rang the bell, I knocked.
There was no answer.

So I tried the door,
which was unlocked.

- I went inside.
- Were there signs of a fight?

Well, it's impossible to tell.

Excuse me?

It's impossible to tell.

The defendant could have
easily straightened up

before she left the apartment,

or even before she shot her husband.

That's not what I asked, Detective.

Uh, once you were inside the apartment,

were there signs of a fight?



You know, Liv, I love you...


And I respect you...

more than anyone
I've ever met in my life.

Don't take this the wrong way...

but sometimes... you see victims

where there aren't any.

Annabeth Pearl
was abused by her husband.

Her friends disagree.

Nobody knows what goes on

behind closed doors in a marriage.

Including you.

All you have is Annabeth's word.

Amanda, I'm sorry about
what your father did

to your mother.


I mean, that's exactly

what I'm talking about.

My mother didn't have to be a victim.

I'm not talking about your mother.

I'm talking about you.

Do you really think that your father

beating the hell out of your mother

in front of you...


color your whole universe?

Sure it did.

But not in the way you think.

'Cause I remember sitting in my room

staring out the window...

after one of their
knock-down drag-outs,

and I remember looking out the window

and there was a... a streetlamp,
and it was...

the closest one was on the corner,

so it was... it was dark, eerie.

And I sat there...

looking out, watching and waiting...

and praying for my daddy to come back.

Uh, and the son of a bitch

just beat the snot out of my mother,

but I wanted him back home.

Of course you did,

'cause all children
want their parents together

no matter what, Amanda.

Good, bad, indifferent...

She could have called the sheriff.

I mean, Christ, we had
a gun locker in the house.

But she had to be a martyr.

I mean, I don't think
she'd know what to do with herself

if she wasn't suffering or cowering.

Yes, because he made her like that.

You don't know!

There was a weakness in her!

There was a weakness,

and it was there
before they ever even met.

How do you know that?

Because this is this.

It's not that.

But you know, I... I know.

Believe me, I know,

because I was the one
staring out that window

waiting for my daddy's shadow

to come out of that street lamp.

Come up the sidewalk,
up the front walk,

and back into our house.

I was the one that was petrified

that I would end up weak like my mom

if he didn't come back!

Amanda, that's not a reason

to hate your mother.

Maybe it's time...

for you to come out
from under that shadow.

There was an EMS team on the scene.

They determined that she sustained

no physical injuries.

They also said that she was in shock.

Did the paramedic indicate
how long she was in shock?

They didn't say anything about that,

but it's... it's possible
that she was in shock

before she fired that weapon.

- Before?
- Yeah, it's not unusual...


It's your witness, Counselor.


It's not uncommon

for a victim to go into survival mode

once they've been threatened.

She may not have known
what she was doing.

One more thing, Detective.

This isn't exactly
what the room looked like

when you went into it, is it?

Uh, no.

The television was on.

I'm confused.
The apartment's not that big.

If the TV was on when
you walked in the front door,

I think you would have heard it.

Well, the TV was on
but the volume was muted.

Almost as if Tommy and Annabeth spoke

before she shot him.

I wouldn't know about that.

But they might have, right?

In fact, it is possible
that Tommy said,

"I love you, sweetie."

Yeah, it's possible.

It's also possible he said,
"You ruined my dinner, bitch.

Now I'm gonna kill you."

Your Honor!

Nothing further.

Well, on that, we're gonna
break for lunch.

You look like your witness
just committed treason, Peter.


What the hell's going on down there?

Excuse me?

When I walked into
that courtroom this morning,

I had a no-lose case.

Now, two witnesses later,

I am treading water
and gasping for air.

- So Carisi got creative.
- He "got creative"?

He's a cop!

He's supposed to get on that stand

and tell the truth. That's it.

- Did he lie?
- Liv, come on.

You and I both know the truth
comes in many colors.

So maybe Carisi picked the one

that he could live with.

I knew it.

I knew you were behind this.

You wanna do me a favor?

You keep your bleeding heart
out of my courtroom.

So what is your dilemma?
Just do what Carisi said.

Just fudge it. Generalize, minimize.

And what if I'm wrong?

Annabeth told me

that she didn't regret
killing him for a minute.

Lack of remorse is not
an element of a crime.

You think a jury gives a damn?

If I testify truthfully,

then this becomes a revenge killing

that is never justified.

This woman goes to prison

for a very long time.

- Truth's a bitch.
- I know in my gut...

that she was powerless
to leave her husband.

I know that.

But she was strong enough
to pull the trigger.

That's naive, Amanda, and you know it.

What about the gun?

What about it?

Well, he didn't leave it out
just for show.

Okay, did Annabeth ever say
that he threatened her with it?

No, she didn't have to
because he left it out.

She saw it.

She saw it when she woke up
in the morning.

She saw it when she made dinner.
She saw it.

She saw it last thing
before she went to bed.

And she read between the lines.


Come on.

You and I both know

what he was telling her with that gun.

He was telling her

that I could kill you at any minute,

and I would probably get away with it.

Tommy is the one that ended up

- with the bullets in him, though.
- Yeah, and where was he shot?

Two in the heart and one in the groin.

And believe you me,
that last one was not a mistake.

- That was not a miss.
- Did she say that to you?

She didn't have to.

You have no idea...

what utter terror is.

What pure...

and utter terror is.

You know, they say
that your heart beats faster,

but that's not true. It doesn't.

It stops. Everything stops.

You don't breathe because...

you're scared that it might upset him.

And if you get a cramp in your foot,

you tell yourself, "Just let it throb."

Because you'll live through that pain.

And that's a hell
of a lot better than what...

what he'll do to you.

And the pain is... is so complete

and it's so... it's so overwhelming.

You can go without food for...

For three days...

and you don't close your eyes
because you...

because you're scared that...

you'll never open them again.

You pray.

You pray...

"Please, God...

"don't let him
climb on top of me again."

Okay, Liv.

I am so sorry.

Nobody should have to live like that.


Tommy Pearl is not William Lewis.

Annabeth was not held hostage.

Wasn't she?

She lived with that fear

every day for six years.

But maybe we're all victims.


maybe we're...

we're just all victims of our past.

But the good news is that I am just

a rebuttal witness,

which means I'm only used if needed.

What are you gonna do
if Stone needs you?

I don't know.

But somebody has to stand up
for Annabeth,

and somebody has to tell her...

has to tell her that she survived

and she's gonna be okay.

Detective Rollins.

Part 33.

I haven't finished my apple pie yet.

I don't know. They just told me...

I'm pulling your leg, guy.


You don't want those
to, uh, go to waste.

The donuts.

Oh, I'm sorry.

Yes, of course. Please.


I've had a sweet tooth
since I was a kid.

You mind if I, uh, take home
a cruller to my wife?

She loves crullers.

How long you been married?

34 years next Tuesday.

You're a good husband, Charlie.

Ah, it's easy.

All it takes is a little love.

I took the defendant's
initial statement

when she came in to the squad.

And what did she say to you?

She said she'd killed her husband.

What did you do after that?

I asked her if she wanted
a lawyer present,

and she said, "I did it.

Why would I need a lawyer?"

Did she tell you why

she killed her husband of six years?

She did.

She said he didn't like her dinner.

Thank you, Detective Rollins.

Do you recognize this, Annabeth?

Looks like Tommy's gun.

That's right.

You've seen it before?

Every night when he came home
from work,

he took it out and he cleaned it.

And then he put it away
in a gun locker.


He kept it out where he could
always get to it.

I asked him I don't know how many times

to put the gun away...

but he refused.

Did he say why?

He said he was a cop.

It was part of him.

He said seeing it...

knowing it was there
made him feel strong.

Like a man?

That's what he said.

Objection. Your Honor.

What's a trial without some
good old fashioned histrionics?

You've made your point, Counselor.

How did the gun
make you feel, Annabeth?



It was always where I could see it.

It was like a lion showing
its teeth to a zebra.

"I'm the king."

"You're less than."

You are not less than.

That's a joke.

My heart pounds when I shop for food.

Will Tommy like this,
or will he dump it on the floor

for me to clean up?

My hand, it shakes
when I answer the phone.

It'll be Tommy telling me
his friend saw me flirting

with someone at the cleaner's.

I used to take business classes
at Hunter College.

Tommy told me to quit.
Said I was too stupid.

It was a waste of money.

Did you ever tell your family
about how he was treating you?

How about a friend?

I used to have friends.

Lots of them.

Tommy said they weren't
good enough for us.

Now all we have are his friends.

Thank you, Annabeth.

Did your husband
ever hit you, Mrs. Pearl?

Did Tommy ever hit you?


Did he ever rape you?

We had sex lots of times
when I didn't want to.

Did you tell him that?


I was too scared.

So in six years of marriage,
you never once said...

"I'm not in the mood."

"I'm too tired," "I have a headache,"

or "I... I just don't want to"?


I'm sorry, Mrs. Pearl...

but that's not rape.

- Objection!
- You know better, Mr. Stone.

That man was raping me

from the moment I said "I do"!

Come on, who ate my jellies?

You okay?

- Liv.
- Yeah, I'm fine.


what's happening upstairs?


Whose blood?

Well, you know how they say
you only die once?

Well, that's a lie...
at least for Tommy Pearl.

So Stone is gonna call me.

If he wants any shot
at winning this case, yeah.

Fin, what am I gonna do?

Running's not an option?

I didn't think so.

I mean, as far as I can see,

this is just another case to me.

Listen, your BS doesn't fly with me.

I should know that by now.

Fin, I'm...

I'm asking you...

Do you think Annabeth
belongs in prison?

Liv, half the guys
I grew up with are in prison.

Do they belong there?

They don't think so.

But you do?

It's not my place to judge.

Oh, my God.

Again with your BS.

Look, last Sunday I went fishing

off of Sheepshead Bay.

Four hours passed, not a nibble.

Then right when I'm ready
to pack it up,

my rod starts jerking.

So I start reeling. I'm reeling.

I swear, I've never had
a perp fight that hard.

And then there it was,

flopping around
on the deck of the boat,

a 35-pound bluefish.

The most beautiful thing
I've ever seen in my life.

That's... that's great, Fin.

I threw it back in the bay.

Anything that's willing

to fight that hard to stay alive

deserves to live.

Like Annabeth.

Just saying.

So you're telling me...

to lie.

I'm just saying,

that blue's not gonna get hooked again.

But that's just me.

So I guess you didn't come here to...

get some donuts.

Lieutenant Benson.

Part 33.

Lieutenant Olivia Benson?


Do you swear to tell the truth,

the whole truth,
and nothing but the truth?

I do.

Please state your name for the record.

Lieutenant Olivia Benson.

Did you have the opportunity
to interrogate the defendant

after she confessed
to killing her husband?

I did.

Did she express remorse
for what she did?

You have to understand,
under the circumstances...

Just please, answer the question.

Taken out of context,

her words can be misconstrued.


You just reached out
and put your hand on the Bible

and swore to tell us the truth.

Did the defendant, Ms. Annabeth Pearl,

express remorse...

for what she did?


What, if anything,
did she say in that regard?

She said that...

she said that she was glad

that her husband was dead...

And that she'd prayed
about it for years.