The Trial (2010) Movie Script

I'm fine. Thank you for asking.
Is this personal, Judge?
All right.
Uh, give me 30 minutes.
Mac, here's an order appointing you
to represent Peter Thomason...
in the Hightower murder case.
Gene Nelson's the public defender.
He called an hour ago
with a conflict of interest...
with one of the government witnesses.
Now, if there's a conviction, I can't risk
a habeas corpus down the road...
from some bleeding-heart lawyer based
on ineffective assistance of counsel.
- I'm retired.
- No, you quit.
But last I checked,
you still have a law license...
and you still live in my district.
Let someone else
make a name for themselves.
I can't appoint someone who's only handled
a few nolo pleas in traffic court...
to a murder charge.
Now, I can order you to do this.
When you gonna start living again, Mac?
There would've been a time
when you would've asked me to order you.
I'm not that lawyer anymore.
Talk with Gene and meet
with the defendant...
and come see me Monday morning.
Hey, Gene, you got a minute?
The judge wants me
to speak to Peter Thomason.
I thought you retired.
Yeah, well,
what can you tell me about the case?
They found the girl in the car,
but she didn't die from the accident.
She was strangled.
Cops found Thomason wandering around
the scene with the keys in his pocket.
He was doped up.
Claims he can't remember anything.
- Any witnesses?
- Not to the murder.
Police report mentions a guy in a pickup.
- Saw the girl's Porsche heading up the mountain.
- Anything else?
Joe Whetstone just made an offer.
Joe Whetstone?
Alex Hightower didn't trust the local D. A.
to do a good job...
so he hired Whetstone
as special prosecutor.
What's the offer?
Twenty-five years to serve.
Thomason will be younger
than you when he gets out.
- Does Thomason know about the offer?
- Not yet.
Getting him to take a plea...
will be a lot easier for you
than convincing the jury to let him go.
He'd be a fool if he
doesn't take the deal.
This case is a dog.
- Mac McClain.
- It's Pete.
Okay, Pete.
The public defender that was gonna
represent you has a conflict of interest...
and can't handle the case.
The judge has asked me to take it.
The prosecution has made an offer.
Twenty-five years, which at your age,
is a lot better than life.
- Twenty-five years?
- Mm-hmm.
- Do I have to say I'm guilty?
- Yep.
No way. I didn't do it.
Did you make a statement to the police?
- I don't think so.
- You don't think so?
- I don't remember.
- You don't remember?
I remember picking Angela up
and taking her to dinner.
The next thing I remember
is a camera flashing a bright light...
when they took my picture here.
- Did you take any drugs?
- No.
Then can you explain
why there were drugs in your system?
One last question.
How can you say you're innocent
if you don't remember anything?
Because you don't kill someone
that you love.
Do you need anything?
There's not a lot to do here.
Think somebody can go get
some books from my apartment?
Make a list.
What do you want?
Judge Danielson wants me
to defend a murder case.
You're in no shape
to handle a murder case.
He thinks I am.
Judge Danielson's been
on the bench too long.
There's a plea offer.
I went to the jail and spoke to the defendant.
He doesn't want to take it.
Claims he would've never done
anything to hurt her.
That's convincing.
He reminds me of my son.
- Which one?
- Zach.
Something about the look in his eyes.
The way he talks.
That's no reason to get involved.
You're not the only one
that lost Laura and the boys.
She was my sister.
So, whatever reasons you got to help
this kid, whoever he reminds you of...
will not fix you,
will not bring them back.
Sausage biscuits.
You're getting too skinny.
Let's see.
Come inl
I'll do it.
Here's your order.
Try to file any additional motions
as soon as you can.
Can I get an advance to pay an assistant?
- You bet.
- Hire an investigator.
You got it.
After this is over,
I'll let you rest in peace.
Looks like you're having fun.
Oh, yeah. About as much fun
as when I got braces.
Well, why don't you
come back to work for me?
- You're retired.
- Yeah.
But the judge has made me an offer
I can't refuse.
Am I getting paid?
Yes. But I can't promise you
one of those aprons.
Hey, Mindy, can you clean this up?
Don't say too much,
or you'll talk me out of it.
- All right, any questions?
- Yes.
Did he kill her?
Well, you know that's the wrong question.
What is the evidence?
Well, that's what you two
are gonna help me find out.
Pete Thomason says he
doesn't remember anything.
We need an expert to shrink his head
and find out what's in it.
- Have you guys ever heard of Dr. Anna Wilkes?
- No.
Well, Mike Bender in Rossville says she
has a good reputation with their judges...
and she stands her ground in court.
Get some references
and set up an appointment.
Will do.
The jury reads the newspaper.
We need to make our own press release.
My boyfriend Eddie can do it.
He works for the paper.
Your boyfriend Eddie is not
the sharpest tool in the shed.
You write it.
- Make it sound like me.
- Well, that should be exciting.
Gene Nelson's file is a mess.
I want you to go through it
and tab anything you think is important.
"Reasonable doubt. "
What does that mean?
A reason why he's not guilty.
Exactly. Right now,
this piece of paper is empty.
- Before we go to trial, I want it to be full.
- Okay.
There's over a hundred people
on this witness list...
uh, a bunch of them
from his marine corps unit.
You want me to run 'em all down?
No. That's a prosecutor's trick
to try to wear us out.
We're not gonna let that happen. I want
you to start here- Rodney McFarland.
He's the guy who said he saw
Angela's car on the road.
He lives up on Grassy Mountain.
After that, I want you to speak to Angela's
college friends. See if they know anything.
All right?
Joe Whetstone is a formidable opponent.
He's a good prosecutor
with the power of the state behind him.
He's gonna try to steamroll us
and our client...
but we're not gonna let that happen.
All right?
Let's get to work.
Welcome, everyone. It's great to
see you. Who wants to help me pass these out?
- Thank you.
- Let's all take a seat.
Hey, there. Hi.
All right.
Why don't we get started?
So, did anybody face a struggle this week
that they'd be willing to share?
I, uh-
I went to the grocery store with a friend...
and I saw a box of
Jodie's favorite cookies...
and I just- I burst into tears...
and I ran out of the store.
I'm sorry. It was very embarrassing.
You may have felt embarrassed,
but moments like that are gonna happen.
Grief is like a river. You can't dam it up.
And you can't make it go faster.
You just have to allow God
to take you at his pace.
All right, take care, you guys.
See you next time.
Interesting meeting.
What's your goal?
Well, there's a time to mourn
and a time to heal.
We provide a time and a place for healing.
What's your success rate?
Well, when you try to do it
by yourself, not so good.
When you ask God for help, the odds go up.
Well, I think I need
something more tangible.
I can't think of anything more tangible.
Mac McClain. My assistant called you.
Oh, yes, of course. Sorry.
- I'm Anna.
- Nice to meet you.
Have you heard about the case?
- Just what I've read in the paper.
- Uh-huh.
Well, my client claims
he can't remember anything.
I need to find out if
he's suffering from amnesia.
I'd also like you to tell me if you think
he's competent to stand trial.
When will you need my report?
As soon as possible.
- I'm sorry for the rush, but-
- It's okay.
When someone's life is at stake,
I'll make time.
That's very kind of you.
You Rodney McFarland?
Yeah, that'd be me.
What ya sellin', son?
Nothing. I, uh-
I'm Ray Morrison.
I work for a lawyer.
I'm doing a little investigating...
on the night that your truck got run off
the road in Dennison Springs.
- Lawyer, huh?
- Yep.
Well, I ain't hurt.
I ain't injured, you know.
So you can go back, you and your boss,
and chase some other ambulance.
No, no. He's not that kind of lawyer.
I just need to speak to you
for a few minutes.
Well, what is it you think
we've been doing here, son?
There we go.
You saw me dip this in that bucket.
Take you a little sip of that.
You'll like it. It's good.
A little sip now. Don't drink it.
Go ahead. It's good.
There she is.
You're right. Beautiful truck.
Yeah, she's a sweetie.
She's pretty. I bought her brand new
on the lot in Blue Ridge.
You ever been to Blue Ridge?
No, I haven't. What happened here?
Well, now that happened the night
my daughter was having her baby.
I was in the truck headed over the mountain,
getting there as fast as I could.
Trying to get there in time, you know,
and I was making good time.
Lord have mercy, this thing will flat get
up and go. Look at these tires.
See that? Never buy foreign tires, Ray.
I always buy American.
Everything on this whole hill
back here is made in the U. S. A.
Except for my, you know- my clock.
I bought a radio clock- General Electric-
thinking it's made in Pennsylvania.
Got it home. The dang thing said
"Made in Taiwan" on the bottom.
You believe that?
So, you were making good time.
I was. I was making good time.
It was about midnight.
I slipped around the bend.
Here come two cars headed right for me.
- Two cars?
- Aimed right at me, both of 'em.
One was a yellow car.
Other one was a kind of a dark purple.
This color?
Yes, sir, that color right there.
This one was tailing the yellow car...
and I reckon them boys thought
they owned the road, both of 'em.
But when the yellow car
run me off the road...
I reckon the purple car sideswiped me.
I didn't know I'd even been hit
till I got home.
You didn't tell the police
about the other car?
No, no. Like I said, I didn't even know
I'd been hit till the next day.
Could you tell who was driving either car?
No, sir. No, sir. Never saw 'em.
You know, it happened so fast. It's-
Yeah, always does.
Now, you saw me take this
chip of paint right from here...
and put it in this bottle,
didn't you, Mr. McFarland?
Well, I reckon I did, son.
I'm standing right here.
Close enough to you to spit on your shoe.
Appreciate you not doing that.
She had a significant amount
of roofies in her system.
Rohypnol. It knocks you out.
Anything else?
No, just a little bit of alcohol.
What about Thomason?
Small amount of alcohol,
a lot of amphetamines.
Doesn't Rohypnol cause memory loss?
Yeah. That's why men give it to women.
Did you test Thomason's blood
for Rohypnol?
Would you do that, please?
Get me the results as soon as you can.
You don't think he could've got
a scratch in a grocery store parking lot?
This guy doesn't go to the grocery store.
He's got enough squirrels and rabbits
on that hilltop of his.
Do you believe him?
Mac, we drank from the same tin cup.
We're practically kinfolk by now.
I'll get this to a lab,
see what they can tell us.
We need to find that car.
I'll be right back.
Hey, Mac. Good to see you.
So, uh, did Gene tell you
about the plea offer?
You get the same deal.
Why should we take it?
I bet you got enough in Gene's file.
You can answer that.
By the way, your client in our last case,
did he ever get out of prison?
Talk to Mr. Thomason.
He should take the deal.
How many years did your other client get?
Thirty-five years.
- Did he turn down the plea offer?
- Yes.
Five years.
All risel
God save the state of Georgia
in this honorable court.
The Honorable
Judge William L. Danielson presiding.
Be seated.
We have, uh, several motions
filed by Mr. McClain...
seeking information under
Brady versus Maryland...
Mr. Whetstone, what is your response?
Three things, Your Honor.
First, I'm delivering to Mr. McClain...
photographs of Angela Hightower
while she was alive and after her death.
Second, the state would like to conduct
a psychiatric evaluation.
I've attached the credentials
of Dr. Lewis Newburn.
Anything else, gentlemen?
Yes, Your Honor, one more thing.
Based on a review of
the facts and circumstances...
surrounding the murder
of Angela Hightower...
the state intends to seek the death penalty
upon conviction of the defendant.
The death penalty!
Sit down.
Your Honor, there is no evidence
of aggravating circumstance.
The defendant is guilty of murder committed
in conjunction with the crime of kidnapping.
Kidnapping? Miss Hightower agreed
to go to dinner with my client.
And a subsequent development rendered her
presence with him nonconsensual.
There's not enough evidence
to support that.
She had Rohypnol in her system.
Uh, I'm not sure that your theory
holds water, Mr. Whetstone...
but, uh, prosecutorial discretion
buys you a little leeway.
Now what this means, gentlemen...
is first, we will have a trial
to determine guilt or innocence.
And if the defendant is found guilty...
we will move immediately
to determine the sentence.
Your Honor, may I have
a moment with my client?
Death penalty?
Or 25 years.
That's it?
Those are my only two options?
You have no memory,
no alibi and no explanation.
I didn't think anyone would come.
Here I am.
I didn't know if it was important
or not about the letters.
I don't have the letters that she got...
but I do know she wrote her dad
after the third one.
I mean, I just didn't think it was that
big of a deal, but then this happened.
- Can you show me?
- Yeah. I made copies.
There may be more,
but she only wrote two on my computer.
I mean, she was really worried
about how her dad would react.
I mean, it was her uncle.
"Do not call or write again.
"I do not want to see or talk to you.
"If I hear one more word from you,
I'll tell my dad.
"I mean it. Get some help.
Angela. "
You said there was another one
to her father.
I just- I didn't know what to do.
I hope I did the right thing.
Yes, you did.
Do you know whether
these were actually sent?
Well, the one to her uncle,
I mailed myself.
I don't know about the one to her dad.
I mean, she didn't
go into all the details.
It was just really creepy.
I'm really glad you came.
So, what have you dug up about McClain?
He's represented a lot of people
in the county over the years.
Some who probably couldn't afford to pay.
Three years ago, his wife and two sons
were killed in a car wreck.
It was Christmas Eve.
Since then, his practice
has been slowing dying.
And just recently, he shut his office.
So, we have a lawyer with nothing to lose.
That makes him dangerous.
I want someone assigned
to McClain at all times.
But I am sorry to hear about his family.
Well, he understands
the nature of the charges.
And he's not delusional.
He's legally competent.
He's depressed.
How depressed?
Severely. I would say clinically.
But it doesn't explain the amnesia.
What do you make of that?
There are several known causes-
trauma, a blow to the head.
But there were no signs
of physical injury.
Right. Another would be long-term
drug or alcohol abuse.
Despite the presence of amphetamines,
he has no history of habitual use.
Which means?
He may be faking.
Have you tested him for Rohypnol too?
Yeah. We're just waiting for
the results to come back.
Well, good. Let me know.
It could make a huge difference
in my report.
Thank you.
You think she'll be a good witness?
I believed her.
You could reopen the office.
Answering machine.
Oh, and one more thing.
You could get one of these too.
She's right about the cell phone.
Spencer is her uncle.
He's not much older than she is.
Now I know why she
didn't like him so much.
This is gonna be very helpful
for your case.
The state psychiatrist
is sitting over there.
Answer his questions.
But remember, he is not your friend...
and he is not here to help you.
If he gets out of line, we'll be watching.
He's all yours, Doctor.
You'll have my report the same
day Mr. Whetstone does.
Fair and impartial, I'm sure.
I look forward to seeing you in court.
- How do you think that's gonna go?
- Not good. It never does.
Mr. McClain.
Uh, this is Hunter, my son.
This is Mr. McClain.
Ooh, that's a good grip.
- How old are you?
- Ten and a half.
Ten and a half. That's a great age.
Would you care to join us?
We're starving.
We just got back from Jacks River Falls.
You've heard of it?
Sure. I used to go there
all the time with my boys.
There's a great store along the way
where you can buy boiled peanuts.
- I've never had a boiled peanut.
- You never had a boiled peanut?
Man, my boy Zach could
eat a whole bag of 'em.
Hunter, why don't you go see
what's in the dessert case?
Did you get my report?
Yeah. Thanks.
Uh, it's gonna be very helpful.
But Pete tested negative for Rohypnol.
Really? Why don't you
try testing him for G. H. B.?
It's a close relative.
G. H. B.
They have three pieces
of peanut butter pie.
Peanut butter pie?
I love peanut butter pie,
and it's a lot better than boiled peanuts.
These paint chips
are from a mid-'90s sedan.
Mindy, call the department of motor vehicles.
See if you can find a match.
In every criminal case,
you want to put someone else on trial.
That's our man.
Spencer Hightower.
What seems to be the problem?
I need to take a look at the financial
records for the Spencer Hightower Trust.
Those are privileged.
Well, Judge Danielson doesn't agree.
Dr. Newburn doesn't believe our client.
"Sociopathic homicidal tendencies. "
- Well-
- God.
- that didn't surprise me.
- Hmm.
Let's call Dr. Wilkes. Tell her I'd like
to see her as soon as possible.
What time are we due back in Atlanta?
The deposition starts at 4:30.
If we're not out of there in 15 minutes,
pull the fire alarm.
put your shoulder back.
Good. And bend your knees.
Okay, and throw!
She's got you all twisted up
like a pretzel.
You can't teach baseball
from a book. Come here.
So, just get a good grip on that.
And I want you to throw a fastball.
Let's see that.
- Nice! Got another glove?
- Yeah.
There you go.
That's a nice glove.
It's my dad's.
He passed away.
I'm sorry to hear that.
It's okay. But I still really miss him.
All right, you wanna put some heat on it?
All right.
There you go.
Let's make this quick.
Mr. Hightower.
Bring me up-to-date.
Well, there's been a change
in defense attorneys.
- Who is it?
- Mac McClain.
Are you sure you can handle him?
Well, I would hope you know
the answer to that.
Here's a detailed summary
outlining our preparations for trial.
May be your case, but she was my daughter.
I'm sorry about your husband.
What did Hunter say?
Only that he passed away
and that he missed him.
Well, he doesn't know the whole story.
It was suicide.
I'm sorry.
Eventually he's gonna
ask me questions that, uh...
I don't know how to explain.
Tell him the truth.
Is that what you tell all your witnesses?
I started that group
that you came to right after he died.
A lot of people need a time and a place
to heal, including me.
I don't agree with Dr. Newburn's
assessment of my client.
He said he's a psychotic
with homicidal tendencies.
Hey, Mark. Excuse me.
Good morning, counselor.
Mr. Whetstone.
I never heard from you.
Of course, I didn't really expect to.
I've seen a lot of guys
like you over the years.
Good men. Good attorneys.
But they're trying to fix something in
themselves by way of their clients.
It never works.
You're goin' down with the ship.
Deal's off the table for good.
This trial is necessary...
because a beautiful
21-year-old woman is dead.
I wish we weren't here today.
Mr. Alexander Hightower...
desperately wishes we weren't here today.
Let me speak for Angela.
Let me walk you through the events leading
up to her murder through her eyes.
The defendant had won her trust
and the trust of her father.
On August 2, he came to the Hightower
home, spoke briefly with Mr. Hightower...
and then took his daughter to Atlanta
in her yellow Porsche.
I don't know what, uh, the defendant
and Angela talked about that night.
I don't know what they ate
at that quiet little Italian restaurant.
But I do know she never came home.
At some point, the defendant offered
Angela something to drink.
It might have been a soft drink,
a cup of coffee.
But whatever it was...
it was no ordinary beverage.
Because inside that glass or cup...
were a few drops of a colorless,
odorless, tasteless drug...
called Rohypnol.
As soon as that was in her system,
Angela was helpless.
And the evidence will show that...
the defendant took drugs
himself on August 2.
Sometime around midnight,
sheriff's deputies responded to a call...
and found Angela in her car...
But she wasn't killed in a car wreck.
She was murdered.
And the defendant was found
at the scene of the crime...
with the keys to her car in his pocket.
Now, is that all the evidence? No.
A psychiatrist
will give you understanding...
about the defendant's mental capacity
to commit such a horrible crime.
Police will piece together
the events of August 2.
And when all the evidence
has been presented...
I will stand here...
and I will ask you to do your duty
for the state of Georgia-
for Angela-
and find the defendant guilty of murder.
Ladies and gentlemen...
I cannot think of anything more serious...
than deciding the fate
of another human being.
When we entered the courtroom
this morning...
the clock began ticking on an experience
that none of us will ever forget.
My job is to guide you
through this process.
Not to tell you what to think.
Not to bully you.
But to treat you with the respect
that service on this jury deserves.
First, please remember
what Judge Danielson said.
Nothing we lawyers say to you is evidence.
Second, I agree with everything that
Mr. Whetstone said about Angela Hightower.
Her life was cut off before
she had a chance to live it...
and someone should be brought to justice...
and someone should be
punished for that crime.
However, the evidence will prove...
that the person most likely responsible
for Angela Hightower's death...
is not in this courtroom.
Not yet.
Third, the prosecution will present
its side of the case first.
The book of Proverbs tells us...
that the first to present
his side of the case seems right...
until another comes forward
and questions it.
That is wisdom from the ages...
and I would ask you to apply it
to your responsibilities here today.
Thank you.
Proceed with the state's case,
Mr. Whetstone.
Your Honor, the state calls
Lieutenant Walter Monroe.
Oh, no.
Please introduce yourself
to the jury, Lieutenant.
Lieutenant Walter Monroe,
United States Marine Corps...
currently serving at
Parris Island, South Carolina...
after completing a tour of duty in Iraq.
Well, on behalf of the entire courtroom...
I'd like to thank you for your service to
our country, Lieutenant.
Could you please tell us
how you know Peter Thomason...
the defendant in this case?
Thomason was in my unit
before he received a general discharge.
A general discharge?
He didn't receive an honorable discharge?
Objection, Your Honor. Irrelevant.
Your Honor, I can lay
the foundation for this.
No, sir. According to the records,
he did not receive an honorable discharge.
Are these records in your possession?
Your Honor, these records are irrelevant.
Your Honor, these are business records
which show prior similar conduct.
Lieutenant, uh,
are you the custodian of these records?
Yes, sir.
Maintaining these records
is a part of my duty as a staff officer.
Why did the defendant not receive
an honorable discharge?
"Gross misconduct involving
attempted administration...
of an illegal substance to a civilian. "
And what was that substance?
And the gender of the civilian?
Your Honor...
we tender State's exhibit 1.
Any objection?
I object, Your Honor.
Same reasons as before.
Overruled. Admitted.
Your witness.
No questions at this time.
You have no idea the impact
this is gonna have on the jury.
Start talking.
Just after boot camp...
I went out one night with Lieutenant Monroe
and a buddy named Harry O'Ryan.
They met some girls,
and I went home early.
I guess something happened to the girl's
drink 'cause she ended up in the hospital.
And Lieutenant Monroe
convinced Harry to say that I did it.
So, I took a general discharge
to avoid a court-martial.
Where is this Harry O'Ryan now?
Last I heard, he was out of the corps.
You blew it, Mac.
Monroe was on my witness list.
You should have let me do my job.
And what were the results
of your testing for Rohypnol...
in the blood sample from Angela Hightower?
- Positive at a clinically significant level.
- Which means?
Which means that for a period
before her death...
she would have suffered
from the effects I just described.
- Disorientation?
- Yes.
- Impaired judgment?
- Yes.
- Limited cognitive function?
- Yes.
Inability to protect herself?
Yes, she was helpless.
Your witness, Mr. McClain.
Doctor, did you test Mr. Thomason's
blood for Rohypnol?
Yes. It was negative.
Have you ever heard of
gamma hydroxybutyric?
Yes. It's not very common.
It's known by the initials G. H. B.
Mm-hmm. You know how it operates?
Very similar effects as Rohypnol.
Did you test Mr. Thomason's blood...
from the night of Angela's death
for the presence of G. H. B.?
- Yes.
- What were the results?
It was positive.
So, there was disorientation?
Impaired judgment?
Limited cognitive function?
Was Pete helpless too?
Yes, he was.
Thank you.
We should have caught that one.
You remember Dr. Lewis Newburn's report?
Yep. The one that said our client was
a psychotic with homicidal tendencies, yeah.
- That's the one.
- Mm-hmm.
Well, this is a photo Ray took
the day he followed Spencer.
Guess who Spencer was going to see?
The guy you used to date,
the one that lived with his mom.
- What was his name- Rupert?
- No.
- Randall?
- No.
- Rudolf?
- No!
Dr. Lewis Newburn.
And his name is Ronnie, by the way.
And his mother was living with himl
Dr. Newburn, where is your office located?
400 West Lenox Street.
And this is where you see your patients?
Yes. Except for those in the hospital.
Is Spencer Hightower one of your patients?
He's a client.
I thought you saw "patients. "
I'm his financial adviser-
the trustee of a trust set up by his father.
So you control his money.
- Just some of it.
- How much?
Objection. That is irrelevant.
Are you paid for your advice?
There is a fee authorized by the trust.
And how much is this authorized fee?
Same objection.
Around $50,000.
But that had nothing to do
with my evaluation of the defendant.
I'm sure it didn't.
No further questions, Your Honor.
501, 503.
Harry O'Ryan!
Don't run! I'm not a cop!
I'm here about Pete Thomason.
Relax, I ain't gonna chase you.
Pete's always been a hard-luck guy,
but this is unbelievable.
He's no killer.
Glad to hear you say that.
This whole thing with the girls-
that was Buster's idea.
Lieutenant Monroe.
He slipped the girls the drugs...
dropped me off
at another bar down the street.
Pete wasn't even with us at that point.
The girls, they don't
remember anything, 'cause...
well, they were out of it.
When things started
to go south for Buster...
I agreed to back him up.
Pete got nailed for it.
Buster's still in the corps.
He'll say anything to make sure
his record stays clean.
Which is why Pete needs you.
No, man, I don't-
Look, I'd like to help and all,
but I just don't think so.
He needs your help.
If you do this,
you will unburden yourself...
give yourself one less thing to chase you.
Well, now, it was a warm night that night...
so I had rolled my window down
to let some air in, you know.
And of course, I can spit out of it too...
and I don't have to use my spit cup
I keep in the front seat.
How fast were you traveling, Rodney?
Uh, well-
uh, Judge, I ain't gonna lie to you.
Now, I was speeding.
I was going too fast that night.
Now, I had a good excuse.
I was trying to get to the hospital.
My daughter was having her baby.
And I was going just a little too fast,
I reckon.
But, now, I'm a good driver.
I'm a good driver.
I ain't had a ticket since 1958.
And you can look that up.
That's all typed on the record.
You can ask anybody, but that night,
yeah, I was going a little too fast.
I had too much truck.
It's that old '71 I had.
Ross Weatherford sold me that thing.
It was brand new.
I paid too much money for it too.
It was just too much truck.
Mr. McFarland, could you tell us what
caused you to run off the road that night?
Well, it was- it was that yellow car,
followed by that purple car.
And how close was the purple car
to the yellow Porsche?
Oh, son, if he'd have been any closer, he
could've hooked on bumpers for a free tow.
I mean, he was in
his hip pocket, you know.
And, Judge, another thing
about that purple car.
Uh, he-he hit my truck that night.
And as of yet, ain't nobody
stepped up to pay for it.
I'm waiting.
Thank you, Mr. McFarland.
No more questions.
Can you tell us what tests
you performed, Dr. Wilkes?
W. A. I. S. I. Q. testing, Rorschach...
Beck's Depression Inventory
and general achievement testing.
And have you read
Dr. Newburn's evaluation?
I have.
What's your opinion about
the validity of his report?
I disagree with its findings.
Mr. Thomason is not a sociopath.
He's depressed.
And how is your report
different from Dr. Newburn's?
My evaluation is based on
objective testing and a clinical interview.
Dr. Newburn's opinion is based
solely on one brief interview.
Thank you.
Your witness.
Ms. Wilkes, who hired you in this case?
Excuse me, Your Honor. It's Dr. Wilkes.
The witness has been
qualified as an expert.
Dr. Wilkes.
I was contacted by Mr. McClain's office.
Would it be fair to say that
your contact with Mr. McClain...
has gone beyond the professional?
Objection, Your Honor. Irrelevant.
He's got her on cross. Overruled.
The witness will answer the question.
Of course not.
Your Honor, these photographs
were previously entered into evidence.
Permission to publish?
Could you, uh, tell the jury...
what's going on in this picture?
Mr. McClain and I are sharing
a piece of peanut butter pie.
- Was it good?
- Yeah.
If you like peanut butter.
And, uh, hmm...
what about this one?
That's Mr. McClain in front of my house.
I have a home office.
Did you, uh, do anything besides
talk about this case?
He played catch with my son.
We drank coffee.
Don't you think this jury
should be concerned...
about the neutrality of your opinion?
Not at all.
Mr. McClain is a fine man...
but my opinion on his client
is based on testing.
I'm sure it is.
Pete had nothing to do with this.
He was already back at the base.
Harry, can you tell the court why you wanted
to come forward today and tell the truth?
Um, well, when I heard that Pete
had been charged with murder...
and that Lieutenant Monroe
was testifying against him...
I knew that I had to come forward,
clear the record.
I guess I was just...
tired of having this follow me around.
Thank you.
No more questions.
Your witness.
Mr. O'Ryan...
how many different stories have you told
about what happened that night?
At least two.
And in both versions,
you didn't do anything wrong, did you?
You mean besides not telling the truth?
Well, you've had some problems in the past
with telling the truth, haven't you?
I mean, for instance,
if you write a bad check...
well, that's a lie, isn't it?
I mean, you're saying you have money
in the bank that you don't have.
No, not exactly.
Are you the same Harry O'Ryan
convicted of writing bad checks...
to convenience stores,
gas stations and liquor stores...
in Kentucky, Tennessee,
North Carolina and Georgia?
Do you know how many false writings
are represented in these pages?
Well, would you be interested in learning
that you've written 137 bad checks...
during the past two and half years...
resulting in 13 arrest warrants
in four different states?
I've made some mistakes.
Would you like to add perjury
to the list of crimes you call mistakes?
- Objectionl
- Withdrawn.
I'm ready.
And I see why you wanted me to go last.
'Cause now that I've heard everybody else,
I think it's gonna help me a lot.
Unless you can think of something else,
you're not going to testify.
Why? I'll tell the truth.
What- that you loved her
and that you can't remember anything?
If you look dumb,
Joe Whetstone will make you look guilty.
We have a chance to win this.
I want the last thing
the jury sees and hears...
is to be Spencer Hightower's face
and what he has to say.
The defense would like to call Alexander
Hightower to the stand, Your Honor.
Mr. Hightower,
would you read this to the jury please?
Whole thing?
Yes. The whole thing.
"Dear Dad...
"I don't know how to tell you this except
to come out and say it.
"Spencer has been bothering me.
"He's been writing me letters,
saying things he shouldn't say...
"and asking if he could come
visit me here at school.
"I called him and told him to stop,
but he won't leave me alone.
"Over Christmas break,
he made a pass at me.
"I slapped him and he got mad,
and I hoped that was the end of it.
"He won't stop calling.
He won't stop bothering me.
"You have to make him get some help.
"He is scaring me.
"Please make it end.
"I know you'll take care of it, Dad.
Love, Angela. "
- Did you receive this letter, Mr. Hightower?
- No. I did not.
Do you wish you had?
Oh, yeah.
No further questions.
Mr. Hightower.
Who was the last person
you saw with Angela?
The defendant, when he picked her up.
And do you know where
your brother Spencer was that night?
He was with me.
No more questions, Your Honor.
Mr. Hightower has suffered enough.
Mr. Hightower, you may step down.
The defense calls
Spencer Hightower to the stand.
How ya doin'?
Mr. Hightower,
would you read this to the jury, please?
"Spencer, do not call or write again.
"I do not want to see you or talk to you.
"If I hear one more word from you,
I'll tell my dad.
"I mean it. Get some help.
Angela. "
Did you receive that letter?
Sounds like Angela was quite upset
with you, doesn't it?
- I don't know.
- She was tired of you harassing her, wasn't she?
It was, uh- It was a misunderstanding.
I didn't harass her.
Did she slap you at a Christmas party?
- It was more of a push.
- A push.
Why would she have to push you?
What were you trying to do?
- Nothing. It was no big deal.
- No big deal.
Is that how Angela would've phrased it-
that it was "no big deal"?
I don't know. Why don't you ask her?
And we can't do that,
can we, Mr. Hightower?
Mr. Hightower.
This is a bank statement
from your personal trust.
Would it surprise you to know that there
was a $50,000 cash withdrawal...
two days before the death of Angela?
Objection, Your Honor.
The witness's bank records are irrelevant.
Thank you.
Are you a wealthy man, Mr. Hightower?
Well, it depends on who you compare me to.
How about if we compare you to most
people in Echota County?
Most people from Echota County
live in trailers.
Are you trying to be funny?
Listen, Mr. McDonald,
or whatever your name is...
I shouldn't be here answering your stupid questions.
You're here because Mr. McClain
called you as a witness...
and you will answer every
single one of his questions...
unless I instruct you to do otherwise.
Do you understand?
Yes, Your Honor.
Did you hire someone to kill Angela?
That's a stupid question.
But the answer is no.
Did you drug Angela and Pete
to make it look like he was responsible?
No more questions.
Thank you.
"Reasonable doubt"-
two words we rarely use
in everyday conversation.
Let me tell you what it means.
Some portion of your mind
may suspect Peter Thomason is guilty...
but if, after considering
all the evidence...
you remain wavering and unsettled...
it is your duty to give Pete
the benefit of the doubt...
and find him not guilty of these charges.
In my opening statement, I said the person
most likely responsible...
for the murder of Angela Hightower
was not in this courtroom.
Now you know why I made that statement.
I'm not here to prosecute
Spencer Hightower.
That is a case for another day,
and I trust that day come soon.
Mr. Whetstone is going
to speak to you after I finish.
Listen to him carefully.
That's right. Listen to him carefully.
And then ask yourself if he has
answered to your satisfaction...
each and every one of the grounds
for reasonable doubt.
He can't do it.
Because the truth is Peter Thomason did
not kill Angela Hightower.
And I ask you, on his behalf...
to find him not guilty.
Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen...
the technique used by the defendant
and his lawyer against these charges...
is called a "red herring defense. "
Now, a red herring is a fish
that protects its eggs from predators...
by darting in front of the enemy...
and diverting attention
from where the eggs are hidden.
In this trial...
the defendant views you as the enemy...
because you have the power
to take away his freedom.
He's desperate and he has resorted
to skillful measures...
in order to distract you
from your rightful goal.
The red herring is a very smart fish.
Mr. McClain is a very smart lawyer.
Every one of the defenses
that Mr. McClain has raised...
is a red herring calculated to keep you
from focusing on the evidence.
Use your common sense.
The defendant was captured by the police
at the scene of the crime.
He is the only person
who had the opportunity and the motive...
to have murdered Angela.
Peter Thomason
is a predator with a history.
We all wish Angela could be with us today...
but she can't.
On Angela's behalf...
I have complete confidence
in your ability...
to render the only just verdict
possible in this case-
a verdict of guilty.
Court is adjourned until
Monday morning at 9.:00 a. m.
What do you think they'll decide?
Is it a good jury?
If I can get one on my side,
I can hang it.
If I can get three,
they'll convince the rest.
Are you scared?
Because someone's life is in my hands.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury...
have you reached a verdict?
Yes, we have, Your Honor.
Will the defendant please rise?
Madam Foreperson...
would you please announce the verdict?
We find the defendant, Peter Thomason,
guilty of first-degree murder.
The jury will return on Tuesday...
to commence the sentencing phase
of the case.
Court is adjourned.
I'm sorry.
I'm so sorry.
He reminds me of my son.
- Death penalty?
- Or 25 years.
Those are my only two options?
When you gonna start living again, Mac?
I heard you say
that grief was like a river.
Well, if that's the case,
then I'm drowning.
You spend your whole life
looking for that special someone.
Then you find her,
you build a life together...
you raise two of
the greatest kids in the world.
And then it's all taken from you...
without your having a chance
to even say good-bye.
And it's all your fault.
How do you come back from that?
I want to believe that there
is a time and a place to heal.
But when is that time
and where is that place for me?
When you've come as far
as you can by yourself...
you let go...
and you realize...
that God has a reason that your life
didn't end that night too.
Right before Judge Danielson called me
and asked me to take this case...
I held a gun in one hand
and a bottle of pills in the other.
I was trying to decide
which way to end my life.
That phone call saved me
from making a terrible mistake.
When you retire to the jury room...
I'm going to ask you to consider one word
in deciding Pete's fate.
What is that word?
The word I want you to think about
is an ordinary word.
Standing alone, it doesn't inspire emotion,
doesn't pull at the heartstrings.
Ladies and gentlemen, the word is "life. "
We live in a world
where human life is cheap.
People suffer and people starve,
and nobody seems to notice.
Nobody seems to care.
But as a member of this jury...
you are part of a system of justice...
that affirms life as inherently valuable...
a gift from God that
should not be taken away...
except in the most
extraordinary circumstances.
What I know now and what I didn't know...
when I held that gun
and those pills in my hand...
is that life has value...
no matter how dark the past
or tortured the present.
Ladies and gentlemen,
you have two choices before you-
life or death.
I ask you to choose life.
For you.
- Cell phone.
- Ahh.
- Thank you-
- You're welcome.
- I think.
- Jury's in.
Have you reached a decision?
Yes, sir, we have.
Will the defendant please rise?
Madam Foreperson, would you
please announce the decision?
We recommend a life sentence
with a possibility of parole.
Don't worry.
Hey, Mac.
I'm glad you didn't pull the trigger.
This isn't over. I'm going to file
a motion for a new trial.
We're gonna keep digging.
Did you discover something?
Five of the companies that receive money
from the trust all have the same president.
- Spencer.
- No.
Dr. Lewis Newburn.
Now why would Spencer set Dr. Newburn up
as head of a bunch of dummy companies?
That's a good question.
Let's get subpoenas for detailed records
on all five companies...
and serve Newburn
before the end of the day.
I bet that doctor knows more about what's
going on with Spencer than he's admitted.
I bet you're right.
From Mac McClain.
Have a nice day.
She's a beauty. Just put her out.
Uh, what can you tell me about her?
One owner, low miles.
Other than those minor scratches there
in the front, she's in perfect condition.
- Did you handle the trade-in?
- Sure did.
Guy wanted to trade it in for something
he could take off-road with instead.
This baby's built to be king of the highway,
not slogging through a mudhole.
- She's got power-
- I'll take it.
One condition-
I'd like to speak with the original owner.
- We don't normally- - I got cash, in
case you want to sling this sled today.
And stick close to the phone.
I want to be able to get you
at a moment's notice.
Don't screw up like you did the last time.
Give me about an hour.
Wait for the call.
Then go get him.
Back here!
- Dr. Newburn.
- I, um-
I was on the way home,
so I brought those records you requested.
Thank you.
You can set them down right there.
- You got any more coffee?
- Sure.
- Thank you.
- You're welcome.
"Newly discovered evidence. "
Is that what this is?
Hey, maybe you could save us
a bunch of time and tell us what's inside.
Well, uh, that I'm the president
of each of the companies.
Who are the other shareholders?
Let me ask you a question, Mr. McClain.
Are you going to go after Spencer
with the evidence I'm giving you?
Whatever it takes to help my client.
I'm sure you will.
Have you considered
the effect it might have?
You see, what concerns me
is the effect it might have on me.
Well, just like the bank,
you had to answer the subpoena.
You know,
you're a slick lawyer, Mr. McClain.
But this is one thing
you didn't figure out.
You see, you're going to
ask your questions, and Alex will ask his.
And he's going to ask questions
that I don't want to answer.
You see, Spencer doesn't know
about the companies.
They weren't set up for him.
He has plenty of money.
You embezzled.
Well, did you know that Alex and Angela
both have trusts too?
And that upon their deaths, that money is
going to flow directly into Spencer's trust...
and, well, he doesn't
keep close tabs on it.
Alex isn't dead.
Not yet.
Yeah, come get him.
I've done most of your work for you.
Well, now, Mr. McClain-
looks like you're going to take a swim.
You see, here's what I thought.
I thought maybe you got yourself drunk...
and you fell off the pier
after you lost the case.
How's that sound?
No? Okay.
Better yet.
You finally got the nerve
to kill yourself.
It was suicide.
What do you think about that?
How do you feel?
Disoriented? Impaired judgment?
Maybe you don't feel like you
can protect yourself!
That's pretty good for
what you got in your system.
I don't think so.
What are you gonna do with that?
Macl Macl Are you okay?
Let me take that.
They were driving a black sedan.
It's parked out in the back there.
Hey. Here you go. Drink that.
You okay?
How you feeling?
I found the purple car. It was a Cadillac.
So tell me, Alex, how much
of all this do you want to know?
All of it.
Well, first the hit men
slipped something...
into Angela and Peter's drinks
at the restaurant.
Then they took them to the ravine
where they killed Angela...
pushed her car off the cliff then planted
her keys in Thomason's pocket.
After the trial,
you were going to be next.
They found an open-ended ticket
to Venezuela in the doctor's car.
So it was all about the money.
He'd been siphoning off
millions for years.
If McClain hadn't kept digging...
who knows what would have happened.
What about Thomason?
Judge signed a motion
this morning to dismiss the charges.
Thomason owes McClain a lot.
I think we all do.
How's it feel? Come on.
I'll give you a ride home.
My life changed...
the moment that I stopped asking God
why my family was gone...
and started thanking him
that I was still here.