Law & Order (1990) Episode Scripts

N/A - Church

NARRATOR: 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.
Hi, how are you? Nice sermon, Reverend.
Very powerful.
Especially the part about the homosexuals being unholy.
Ask me, they should all die! While, I concur that God did not intend for man to lie with another man, as Christians we must find forgiveness in our hearts.
Forgiveness? I don't think so.
You guys are the first to arrive.
Hmm, maybe we'll get a bowl of soup or something.
The only thing you're gonna get here is a dead 25-year-old named Jeff Cantwell.
What time was the shot? About 10:15.
No forced entry.
ED: Single shot.
Close range.
Side of the head.
Looks self-inflicted.
Take a look at this.
"Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind.
It is abomination.
" Mmm-hmm.
You think this is a suicide note? He's gay and he hates himself? I don't know, maybe.
I'll take the back.
What are you thinking? I'm thinking if this dude wanted to shoot himself in the head, he would have used left hand.
What about the gun? It's unlicensed and the residue test was negative.
Well, that doesn't mean for sure Cantwell didn't pull the trigger.
Well, the odds just went way down.
Does he have any priors? None.
He's a struggling actor.
Bit parts here and there, nothing to speak of.
But according to the M.
he had alcohol and marijuana in his bloodstream.
Wives? Girlfriends? Boyfriends.
Just spoke to his mother.
He's been out a couple of years.
Well, did she say if he was seeing anyone? She lives in Dayton, Ohio.
They weren't very close.
Anything else? On the dresser there was a Bible open to this anti-gay passage, "A man shall not lie with a man as with a woman.
" Is it Cantwell's Bible? We're assuming it is.
The shooter could've put it there.
Well, now that's a crazy thought.
We're checking it for prints.
All right, continue your canvass.
See what you can find.
CASSADY: How well did you know him? I moved in ten months ago.
We became friends right away.
Did he have a boyfriend? I don't think so.
Good-looking young actor in New York, he wasn't dating anybody? (SIGHS) He wasn't into the whole party scene.
He took his career pretty seriously.
He was always taking a class, writing a script, working on a friend's play.
I mean, doing what we out-of-work actors do to keep from going crazy.
Well, did he have any financial problems or personal problems? Not that I know of.
Did he go to church a lot? I don't know.
How about his mood? Was he depressed? Upbeat? Upbeat, definitely.
He had a big audition this week for a new TV show.
Really? Yeah, his friend Chris is some big shot writerfproducer.
Do you know Chris' last name? Borrato.
Chris Borrato.
We worked together on a movie I wrote about five years ago called Tragic Man.
Piece of crap frankly, but, you know, it got made.
Anyways, Jeff and I have been friendly ever since.
So you were gonna audition him for your new TV show? Yeah.
Poor guy needed a break.
I mean, he's not exactly Brando, but he's a good guy.
I figured, why not? When was the last time you two talked? On the phone.
Day before he died.
He mention any problems or arguments or anything? No.
We talked about the role of Jake Falls, a 26-year-old lawyer, married to his college sweetheart, struggling with his meaningless middle-class existence.
Did Jeff have a boyfriend? Last dude I remember him with is some banker named Mike Gorman.
He worked for Goldman Sachs, I think.
Was he religious? Last week he asked me if I heard of something called the New Promise Church.
The New Promise Church? Yeah, I just rolled my eyes.
I mean, please, you know? Enough already with the spiritual journey thing.
ED: Wow, I guess religion really pays off.
PATTY: Can I help you? Hi, we need to speak to your minister.
Reverend Sterling, the senior pastor, is giving a sermon in Tampa today.
Okay, is there someone else we could to? Mr.
Jepson, the CEO, is here.
The CEO? Hmm.
What can I do for you folks? Hi.
Listen, we believe that a member of your church was murdered.
Really? I had no idea.
That's terrible.
Who is it? His name was Jeff Cantwell.
I'll have to check our database.
We have over No, I'm sorry, but I don't see the name Cantwell in our files.
How many churches do you have? In the Tri-State area, 15.
Nationwide, 125.
That's a lot of churches.
If you sell a quality product, people will buy it.
"If you are lost, confused, homosexual, we can help you find salvation "through God's loving spirit.
" (CELL PHONE RINGING) (SIGHS) Maybe Cantwell was trying to cure himself.
Well, maybe.
Cantwell's ex-boyfriend just got back from London.
I haven't seen Jeff in about six months.
We've talked a few times, but that's about it.
How long did you two date? About six months, maybe less.
It wasn't very serious.
Was Jeff born-again by any chance? Not that I know of.
What about you? You into religion? Reform Jew.
Passover dinner, temple on Yom Kippur.
Was he uncomfortable with his sexuality? Uncomfortable? No, he was the gayest man I've ever met.
He was proud, strong, active in gay causes.
So he wouldn't be the type to try and cure himself through religion? God, no, no.
No pun intended.
Did Jeff have any enemies? Enemies? The only one I can think of is his ex-agent.
They hated each other.
CASSADY: Why? Well, Jeff claims that he stole an idea from a screenplay he'd written.
Agent denies it, of course, but Jeff sued him anyway.
He sued over that? Turns out the idea he claims was stolen is about to be made into a $100 million movie.
Look, I'm sorry Jeff's dead, I am.
But I gotta be honest with you.
He was a pain in the ass.
(LAUGHS) Were you concerned that his lawsuit was gonna screw up that $100 million movie? (SCOFFS) Oh, please! Jeff's script was a joke, okay? A gay romantic comedy? About three actors from Queens? The movie in pre-production is a Wall Street murder thriller.
Only thing the same is, both written on paper.
When was the last time you saw him? Few months ago, when I let him go.
You let him go? He wasn't booking jobs, I had no choice.
Do you read the Bible? (LAUGHS) I read the Daily Variety and the New York Post.
Where were you the night Cantwell was killed? At the Knicks game with a client.
On the floor, three seats away from Spike.
The agent's alibi checks out.
So what now? We start all over again.
We check his calls, his e-mails, see if we missed anything.
Just got off the phone with TARU.
Turns out Cantwell has five different e-mail addresses.
VAN BUREN: And? Well, on the night of the murder at 9:30 p.
, there was an e-mail sent to jlove@toomail.
net, one of Cantwell's addresses.
"Can I see you tonight, sweetie?" Who sent it? Uh, steve-o@gbc.
Well, let's find out who Steve-O is and pay him a visit.
(STAMMERING) I don't normally I'm not the kind of guy Look, look, I work 20 hours a day! I'm old, tired, fat.
I mean, what am I supposed to do? Hit all the clubs in Chelsea, with all the beautiful people? Oh, I'd clean up down there, huh? "Hi, I'm Steve, the fat accountant.
"Wanna drop some X, maybe dance all night?" Please.
What are you trying to say, Mr.
Franklin? Well, I found his photo on this website.
I figured, what the hell? Have some fun, right? So I e-mailed him, but he didn't respond.
"BootyBoys"? Yeah.
Check it out for yourself.
So Jeff Cantwell was an escort? You mean J-Love.
Well, are we sure J-Love and the chubby accountant never hooked up that night? Positive.
He got off work at 10:00, and went to the Silver Spoon Diner on Second Avenue.
He have a receipt? No, but he used his corporate Amex.
Time of payment was 10:36 p.
All right.
Look through Cantwell's e-mail correspondence.
See if he had any connection to a religious organization.
That open Bible wasn't a coincidence.
Well, the incoming e-mails aren't that interesting.
"You're hot, wanna hook up?" "You bring the meth, I'll bring my ass.
Deal?" "How much to lick your knee?" Well, the outgoing ones are a whole lot better, I can promise you that.
Oh, yeah? Yeah, listen to this.
This is from Jeff Cantwell to a Norm S.
"I know who you are and your name's not Norm.
You're a hypocritical pig "who deserves to be outed, to be exposed for the fraud that you are.
"You make me sick.
Never call me again, faggot.
That's right, dude, you're gay.
Deal with it.
" We know who this Norm S.
is? Get this.
The Reverend James Sterling, New Promise Church.
Can I help you? We need to speak with Reverend Sterling.
About what? Is he home? I'm his wife, perhaps I can help.
You can help by answering the question.
ls your husband home? Hi there! I'm Reverend Sterling, how can I help you? Detective Green, Detective Cassady.
We to speak with you for a few moments.
All right.
Darling, would you give us a few minutes? All right.
Thank you.
Come on in.
Do you know someone named Jeff Cantwell? Coffee? Can't say that the name rings a bell, but in my line of work I meet lots of wonderful people all the time.
You ever exchange e-mails with someone called J-Love? It's possible.
But I get hundreds of e-mails every day.
From wonderful people? Yes.
And you don't recall an e-mail addressed J-Love? I'm afraid I don't, no.
Have you ever used the services of a gay escort? That's preposterous.
Where were you last Tuesday night? If you would be kind enough to let me know what this is all about, I might be able to be more helpful.
Someone killed Jeff Cantwell last Tuesday.
We're trying to figure out who.
Clear enough? How is the family coping with the tragedy? Where were you Tuesday night, Reverend? I'd love to continue this discussion, but I feel I may need to consult an attorney.
You almost sounded innocent.
Yeah, all right, you all have a nice day.
And may the Lord be with you! CASSADY: Well, so now what? Let's go talk to Mr.
CEO again.
You think he's involved? He stands to lose a lot if this church disappears.
So, where were you last Tuesday? During the day I was in Erie, Pennsylvania, talking to various members of our congregation.
That night I had dinner with our board directors in Pittsburgh.
Can you provide proof? I'll have my secretary pull the receipts.
Was Reverend Sterling with you? No.
Do you know where he was? No, I don't monitor his schedule.
What do you think Sterling would do if someone threatened to tell the world he was gay? Excuse me? Hypothetical question.
JEPSON: Reverend Sterling is a wonderful man.
He and his wife, Dawn, have created a church that embraces the forgotten, the disadvantaged, the disgraced.
Everyone except the gays.
Excuse me? Well, you don't seem to exactly embrace homosexuality.
It's not that we don't embrace it.
We just don't believe that God intended for a man to be with another man.
What about Sterling? He ever enjoy the company of another man every once in a while? He's happily and faithfully married to a terrific woman.
Thank you for your time, Mr.
I'm no Bible thumper, just a mother of two looking to make a living, and these religious folks pay well.
What I'm saying is, I don't wanna get fired.
We understand.
It's just between us.
A year ago there was a rumor going around that Reverend Sterling was involved with a male member of the congregation.
A young kid, about 18 or 19.
Do you know the kid's name? I can find out.
Yeah, I know Reverend Sterling.
Were you ever involved with him? What's that supposed to mean? Did you date? No.
Why are you protecting him? I'm not.
Look, we think that Reverend Sterling may have been involved in the murder of a young gay male.
We're just trying to get an idea of what he might be like when he's not standing at the altar preaching, you what I'm saying? (sums) He's a fraud, that's what he's like.
He spends his days yapping about Jesus, purity, and family values, and then his nights he's snorting meth and screwing gay boys.
He's a poser.
He's a self-righteous, self-hating poser.
Okay, let's try this again.
Did you two date? Yeah.
For about three months.
CASSADY: Was he ever violent? Once.
He hit me in the face.
Why? I said I loved him.
In fact, the Bible demands that we be fruitful and multiply.
”But from beginning God made them male and female.
”For this cause shall a man leave his mother and his father and cleave to his wife, ”and they twain shall be one so they are no more twain but one flesh.
" So how can we, as the descendants of God and His teachings, bless the union of two men? The answer, my friends, is we cannot.
It is degrading, it is unholy, and most importantly, it is against God's will.
Leviticus 18:22 states, ”Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind, "it is an abomination.
" Nice to hear from our old pal Leviticus again.
What date did this piece run on CNBC? November 17.
And when did Cantwell send Sterling the e-mail? November 18.
Cantwell sees Norm, his lover of a year or so on TV, dogging gay marriage, he gets pissed, fires off an e-mail threatening to out him.
Sterling freaks out.
And shoots Cantwell in the head before he has a chance to out him.
Hey, good news.
The Reverend owns three licensed handguns, so we had his fingerprints on file.
CSU found a positive match in Cantwell's bedroom.
What about the gun? Nothing.
And the Bible? No.
It's still enough for a search warrant.
My husband is a minister! A man of God! Do you really think he'd be involved in the murder of a homosexual prostitute? Look, why do you hate us so much? Why? Is it because we have the courage to worship the Lord? Because we believe in the sanctity of marriage? Because we renounce homosexuality? Lieu', there you are.
We found trace evidence of the victim's blood in the front seat of Sterling's car.
Are you sure it's a match? Positive.
Arrest him.
Hey, Ed, make this one public.
I want that hypocritical preacher to feel some pain.
(PEOPLE CHATTERING) James Sterling? Step back, please? You're under arrest for the murder of Jeff Cantwell.
It's all right, everyone.
Nothing to worry about.
"So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west.
" ED: You have the right to remain silent "And the glory from the rising of His son!" you say can be used against you in a court of law.
"When His enemy shall come in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord "shall lift up a standard against him.
" ED: Do you understand these rights as I read them to you? Brothers and sisters, lam innocent! Innocent! “Docket number MM, People v.
James Sterling, "charge is Murder in the Second Degree.
" How does the defendant plead? Not guilty.
Bail? People request $1,000,000.
Due to the gravity of the crime and the defendant's financial means, we believe he's a flight risk.
Your Honor, Reverend Sterling has informed me that he will not post bail.
He is the Senior Pastor of the New Promise Church and wants to be remanded, so that he may provide fellow inmates with much-needed spiritual and religious guidance.
Is that true, Mr.
Sterling? You want to go to jail? Yes, Your Honor, I'm looking forward to it.
If you want it, you got it, baby.
The defendant is hereby remanded! Next case.
CLERK: "Docket number Asking to go to prison so he could save thou fellow man? He sure knows how to generate press.
What, you're not buying the Reverend's altruistic motives? He's a businessman, not a preacher.
He and his wife have created a religious empire.
An evangelical Starbucks.
Wouldn't surprise me if they went public sometime soon.
Probably a hell of an offering, too.
not to mention merchandising and licensing division.
Fifty million dollars in sales last year alone.
Sounds to me like motive.
Super-conservative, anti-gay preacher kills a man looking to out him to save profitable conglomerate.
What kind of evidence do we have? Victim's blood in the defendant's car.
Threatening e-mail from the victim to the defendant, a phone call to the victim on the night of the murder from a payphone one mile from Sterling's home.
His fingerprint at the crime scene.
(LAUGHS) What's Sterling's defense? Your guess is as good as mine.
(KNOCKING AT DOOR) Sterling's attorneyjust called.
They want to meet today.
I knew Jeff Cantwell.
Not well, but I knew him.
But our relationship wasn't sexual, as you suggest, it was spiritual.
I was trying to help Jeff cure his demons.
CONNIE: You were trying to fix him? I was trying to save him.
What happened the night of the murder, Mr.
Sterling? Reverend Sterling.
What happened on the night of the murder? We spent a few hours together.
Talking about God, life, family.
But Jeff wasn't doing too well.
He was distraught, frustrated.
He wanted to embrace the Lord and give up his life of indulgence and immorality, but he couldn't.
And it was destroying him.
I could see it in his eyes.
See what? Defeat.
When I left that night he said, "I would rather be dead than to live a life "of impurity and degradation.
" I told him to stay strong, to maintain his faith in Jesus.
Are you saying that he killed himself because he couldn't cope with being gay? Yes.
I don't believe you.
I did not kill that man.
I swear to the Lord, Jesus Christ.
Please, save your hollow invocations for the jury.
Last night I watched one of Sterling's inspirational videos.
Only cost $19.
And? Meyers was right, Sterling knows how to talk.
And sell.
I didn't agree with anything he said, and still I wanted to donate half my salary.
That's why we need to limit his ability to preach from the witness box.
What do you mean? The less he gets to talk about trying to save Cantwell, the better.
Unless the person confessing waives the privilege, a clergyman shall not disclose communications made to him in his capacity as a spiritual advisor.
You're trying to prevent the defendant from discussing the content of his conversations with the deceased? The defendant is a clergyman, his defense is that he knew the victim, but not in a sexual capacity, only spiritual.
If that's the case, he shouldn't be allowed to disclose the content of those spiritual communications.
First, Mr.
McCoy has no standing to invoke the deceased's privilege.
Unfortunately, Mr.
Cantwell is dead so he can't invoke it himself.
Second, the priest-penitent privilege is statutory, and there's nothing in the statute suggesting that privilege survives death.
Nor does it state that it doesn't! Third, my client has a constitutional right to a fair trial.
If he can't talk about his conversations with Cantwell, we can't present our case.
I agree with Ms.
This is a murder trial.
The defendant should have the ability to present his defense, and if he needs to disclose the content of certain conversations with the deceased, so be it.
I first met Jeff a year ago.
He came to one of my sermons.
Afterwards, he approached me and asked for my help.
Help with what? To conquer the wanton and malignant spirits devouring his soul.
Could you be more specific? Mr.
Cantwell wanted to denounce his homosexuality and live out the life that God intended.
I was determined that I was going to help him achieve that objective.
MEYERS: How many times did you meet him? Twice a month.
Sometimes more.
Why'd you spend so much time with him? Why? Because he needed it.
He was depressed.
Suicidal? Yes.
About five months ago we were in my car when he tried to slit his own wrists.
Luckily, I managed to get the blade from him and stop the bleeding.
MEYERS: Did you take him to a hospital? No.
The wounds weren't that deep, and I able to bandage it myself.
Were you with Mr.
Cantwell the night he died? Yes, in the afternoon.
He'd been drinking and doing drugs.
He said he wanted to kill himself.
What did you do? Read the Bible with him.
And I tried my best to talk him out of his depression.
What time did you leave? Around 6:00.
Was he alive? Yes.
Where'd you go after that? To my office in Peekskill to prepare a sermon.
I worked until about 9:30 and then I drove home.
Make any phone calls that night? Called my wife, on her cell phone, I believe, to let her know that I was running late.
Defense exhibit 22.
Phone records relating to Reverend Sterling's Peekskill office.
As you will see, a call was made to his wife's cell phone at 8:20 p.
that night.
What time did you get home that night, Reverend Sterling? Around 10:00.
I watched a little TV with my wife, and then we went to bed.
Reverend, did you kill Jeff Cantwell? Absolutely not.
Nothing further.
When you talked with Detectives Cassady and Green, how come you didn't tell them that you were in Peekskill, working, on the night of the murder? I thought it was a waste of time.
They were clearly only interested in one thing.
That was humiliation.
When don't want to hear the truth, Mr.
McCoy, there's no point in speaking it.
Did anyone see you in the church at Peekskill? I don't believe so, no.
And you didn't make any phone calls or send any e-mails from your office after 8:20 that night, correct? Like I say, I was busy preparing an important sermon.
And yet you were willing to drive into Manhattan earlier that day to meet with Jeff Cantwell.
Well, helping other people is so much more important than writing a sermon.
Is that what you were doing with Jeff Cantwell? Helping? Yes.
Not having sex? No.
I am not a homosexual.
People's 32, Your Honor.
This is an e-mail sent by Jeff Cantwell to a norms@pqmail.
That's an e-mail account that's charged to your personal credit card.
Would you please read it? "I know who you are and your name's not Norm.
"You're a hypocritical pig who deserves be outed, "to be exposed for the fraud that you are.
"You make me sick.
Never call me again, faggot.
"That's right, dude, you're gay.
Deal with it.
" But you never had sex with a man, correct? No.
Nothing further.
Did you have sexual relations with Mr.
Sterling? Yes.
How many times? Twenty, 30 times.
You're positive that's the man you had sex with? Yes.
Nothing further.
You don't have any pictures or video of this so-called sexual relationship? No.
So you expect the jury to just take your word for it? Yes.
You're an honest man? Yes.
Was that why you were arrested for larceny last year? 'Cause you're an honest man? I was working in a restaurant and my manager was screwing me out of some money so So you stole? (SCOFFS) Yes.
Are you a member of the ACLU? Yes.
Do you believe that men should be able marry other men? I do.
Is that why you're lying about having sex with Reverend Sterling, to make a political statement? To humiliate him because he's against gay marriage? That has nothing to do with it! Nothing further.
CONNIE: Just because you steal and vote Democratic doesn't mean you can't ID a guy you had sex with.
I'm more concerned about that call he made to his wife at 8:20.
Peekskill to Chelsea, if there's no traffic, takes about an hour and forty minutes.
So if he left immediately after that call, he's in the city around 10:00.
Yeah, it gives him walk to Cantwell's apartment and kill him.
There's still plenty of time, but definitely cutting it close.
If Sterling actually made that call.
I'm on my way to Peekskill.
Yeah, I was working that night.
Did you see Reverend Sterling? Yeah.
You're sure? Sure I'm sure.
It was around 9:30.
I was vacuuming the hallway he walked right by me.
Only the sixth time I've ever seen him.
Did he say anything? He said hi.
Even knew my name.
Called me Gino.
Did he say anything else? He asked me how to get to Bedford.
Bedford? Right, Bedford.
Said he had to visit someone in the hospital.
Be careful what you wish for, Jack.
What are you talking about? Sterling has the perfect alibi for the night of the murder.
What are you talking about? The church janitor is positive he saw Sterling at the church around 9:30.
Yeah, and it gets even better.
At 9:30, he drove to St.
Anne's Hospital in Bedford.
He was there from 10:00 to 11:00 on the night of the murder.
Signed in at 10:06, left at 11:02.
He was visiting a Mary Billings, age 75, breast cancer.
Call Meyers right away, tell her what you found.
Set up a meeting for 8:00 a.
Maybe Sterling will tell us why he's burying his own alibi.
Your client ready to tell us what the hell is going on? "I can only hope that the Lord will find understanding "in his almighty heart and forgive me for taking the life of another man.
" I don't get it.
We find proof that Sterling's innocent, tell his attorney, and he kills himself? Just doesn't make any sense! Sure it does.
What am I missing here, Jack? Sterling was covering for the person who really did kill Cantwell.
His wife.
His wife? Take Sterling out of the equation, the evidence points to only one person.
Blood in the car, no credible alibi, desire to save the church and a phone call on the night of the murder from a payphone near her home.
So why does Reverend Sterling commit suicide? He knows that we know the truth.
Did the only noble thing he could think of.
Kills himself, takes the blame for the murder.
Go ahead and arrest her.
What's your objective, Mr.
McCoy? To destroy my church? To further humiliate me and my congregation? The truth.
The truth is my husband killed that man Cantwell.
He even said so in his damn suicide note.
I don't believe him or you.
(sums) What are you looking for, Mr.
Jeffers? Well, for starters, a little respect, Mr.
My client just lost her husband, and the very day that he is pronounced dead, you arrest her for a murder that he's already confessed to! We don't believe his confession.
A preacher doesn't lie in a suicide note.
Unless he's trying to protect his wife.
And you think you can get ajury to believe that? They won't even consider it.
Motion to exclude his suicide note.
A suicide note is inadmissible hearsay.
Correct, but this is a dying declaration.
The dying declaration exception applies only to homicide victims.
The law does not address suicide.
It should.
I'm not too interested in "shoulds," Mr.
What I'm saying, Your Honor, is the note should fit within the residual hearsay exception.
People don't write lies moments before they die.
I can't cross-examine a suicide note, Your Honor.
I agree.
Your Honor, there The suicide note is out, Mr.
The good news is the suicide note's out.
Bad news is they have three jailhouse witnesses who claim Sterling admitted to murdering Cantwell at a prayer meeting the night before he hanged himself.
Which means you're gonna have to convince ajury that a preacher's final sermon, his final confession, was a lie.
Not an easy task.
The evidence is pretty solid.
What about this cancer patient at St.
Anne's? Did she see Sterling? No.
She's pretty heavily medicated.
Morphine and fentanyl.
She's been in and out of consciousness the last couple months.
Does anybody remember seeing Sterling at the hospital that night? No.
So the only evidence that you have that he was there is from the sign-in log? Right.
We'll be okay, Arthur.
Yeah, well, maybe it's my Southern roots, but I tend to think a lot of people are probably gonna believe Reverend Sterling's deathbed confession, whether or not it was a bunch of crap.
And that'll make them wonder what we're doing trying the killer's wife for a crime that he's already confessed to.
I get it, Arthur.
We need more evidence.
Like I explained to your associate, I have nothing to say on this matter.
This matter is a murder trial, which means your involvement isn't optional! It's mandatory.
It's not that I don't wanna cooperate.
I just don't know anything.
I'm sorry.
So? That's a pretty political sermon, don't you think? Especially in light of the fact that it was given three days before the general election? CONNIE: All that talk about electing a leader who understands traditional values? Asking the congregation to vote for two ultra- conservative congressmen? What is that rule again, Jack? Once a church is considered a political organization, it loses its non-profit status? I believe that's right.
CONNIE: You brought in 35 million in donations last year.
Plus another 50 in merchandising.
That would be one hell of a tax bill.
Dawn's dedicated her entire life to this church.
She was terrified that Cantwell was gonna destroy it.
She wasn't gonna allow him do that.
Did she tell you she was going to kill him? No! She didn't get specific.
Only thing she said was, "I'm not gonna let that deviant ruin my church.
" The People call Scott Jepson.
May I approach, Your Honor? Mr.
Jepson is my client's spiritual advisor.
Any conversations between them pertaining to the alleged murder are protected under New York law.
Jepson is a former marketing executive, not a clergyman.
He is the CEO of a 150,000-person church.
Clearly he is a religious man and someone who a congregant might seek out for spiritual guidance.
Your Honor, Mr.
Jeffers is trying to hide behind the cloak of spirituality to avoid incriminating testimony.
There is no requirement that a spiritual advisor be an ordained minister or a priest.
I agree with Mr.
Your Honor! I'm not going to sit here and attempt to parse who's a minister and who's not, Mr.
McCoy! End of discussion.
Religion tends to make judges nervous nowadays.
Religion? Is that what you think this New Promise church is? I don'tjudge what others believe.
These guys are frauds, Arthur! CEOs, licenses, convention centers, videotapes.
This is a business, not a church.
Got your Irish up, huh? So tell me, can we win the case without this CEO Jepson? It won't be easy.
Dawn Sterling's a terrific liar.
Too bad she's not our witness.
My husband was scared that Cantwell's lies and accusations would undercut all of our hard work.
But most of all, he was worried about the members of our congregation.
What do you mean? He was concerned about where they'd turn for guidance if our church was destroyed.
Did your husband ever discuss killing Mr.
Cantwell? Objection! Marital privilege.
The defendant is attempting to disclose confidential communications.
Confinug Mrs.
James told me that the only way he could save our church was to kill the man threatening to ruin it.
He felt that by killing one to save 150,000 was worth it.
JEFFERS: What time did your husband come home that night? DAWN: 11:45.
And what was his mood like? Nervous, scared.
And what about his appearance? He was disheveled and there was blood on his pants.
"The blood of human sacrifice," he said.
How come you didn't tell the police? Because I loved my husband! More than anything in the world! JEFFERS: Nothing further.
That's all for today.
Review every document we have one more time.
We need to find some dirt.
According to my friend at the FBI, Dawn Sterling from Rye, New York, used to be Maryann White from Atlanta, Georgia.
She changed her name in 1991.
With good reason, I hope.
Yeah, well, she was arrested for cocaine possession in 1990 and solicitation in 1991.
Dawn Sterling was a prostitute? According to Georgia state records.
I think my cross-examination just a got little stronger.
Why bother? What do you mean? Well, why not use it? Push her into a guilty plea.
Based on this? Sterling's whole life is this church, right? If the congregation found out that she used to be a hooker, that they've been praying with a whore the past ten years, there's no way it'll survive.
Look, I know that you wanna use this information and cross the hell out of her and blow up the church, but it's not gonna ensure we get a guilty verdict.
Couldn't care less about her damn church.
That's why you refused to refer to Reverend Sterling as "Reverend.
" We don't have a very strong case, Jack.
Doesn't mean we can't win.
Okay, fine.
Let's give Sterling a choice.
Plead guilty and we will keep the hooker thing a secret, or finish the trial, tell the world the truth, church goes bye-bye.
Or it gets even stronger! The darker the past, the brighter the redemption.
If she thought being a hooker would help her church, she would have told the congregation a long time ago.
JACK: It's up to you, Mrs.
Murder Two.
Fifteen years.
Forget it.
I wasn't talking to you! We're destroying them, okay? There's no way that a jury can convict you.
Ajury might not, but her congregation will.
You underestimate the human capacity to forgive.
Killing a gay man your enlightened membership might forgive you for.
But turning tricks? I don't think so.
People make mistakes.
True Christians understand that.
Then tell us to go to hell.
Excuse me? I'm happy to resume the trial and cross-examine you.
I'm a good person, Mr.
Maybe not then, but now.
Because of this church.
Is that why you killed Jeff Cantwell? Yes.
Murder Two, fifteen years.
Yes or no, Mrs.
Sterling? Yes.
You don't mean that.
I am not gonna let Mr.
McCoy, or anyone else for that matter, destroy my church.
We can win this trial.
The church and my congregation, that's all I care about.
(sums) I wanna plead guilty.