Law & Order (1990) s05e18 Episode Script


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.
You the cable man? All day.
Thank goodness.
Lerner was home all weekend with Mr.
Lerner and no food channel.
Yeah, well, she's not home now.
She probably didn't hear the bell.
How many times did you ring? Enough.
That's what I like, a man anxious to do his job.
That's me.
Good day, Mrs.
Coming up.
The cable man's here.
Lerner? (SCREAMS) Vics are Eileen and David Lerner.
Maid found them.
You got a point of entry? Broken window in the kitchen.
We got a blood trail from the bedroom, takes him out the same way.
It's nice and tidy.
Anything missing? We're still doing an inventory with the maid.
These people lived here alone? Maid said they moved in last year.
They got a daughter that lives uptown.
She's on her way.
Nice color scheme.
Didn't eat breakfast, did you? Couple of dozen stab wounds each and still counting.
Judging by the blood glutting around the male vic's head, I'd say they've been dead at least 24 hours.
Still tucked in.
Didn't know what hit her.
Yeah, well, he's not so lucky.
Stab wounds, both hands, through and through.
So the wife's attacked first.
He wakes up, tries to fight the guy "David and Eileen.
Twenty-five years of joy.
" Till death did them part.
Twenty-five years and they're still sleeping in the same bed.
Then some animal comes along and does this.
You find the murder weapon? Searched the house, the yard, the alley and two blocks four ways.
Looks like a 10-inch, single-edge knife did it.
Weapon of choice at Thanksgiving.
The set in the kitchen was missing a carving knife.
So he entered the house unarmed? He didn't know the Lerners were gonna be home.
Once he got inside he heard a noise upstairs and decided to do something about it.
Did he help himself to anything else? No.
Jewelry, cash, silver settings.
They're all present and accounted for.
I'm not getting a read on this one.
If he's there to kill them, why enter the house unarmed? If it's burglary, why leave empty-handed? Well, maybe butchering the Lerners tired him out, or he was in a hurry.
Well, he had time to freshen up.
According to Forensics, they found blood mixed with water in the kitchen sink.
Any hits on prints? BRISCOE: No, nothing.
Besides the Lerners and their maid, we got 38 unknowns.
Thirty-eight? They must've been a popular couple.
Yeah, with carpenters, painters and plumbers.
They were fixing up the house.
But here's the real deal, partial right thumb-print on the headboard in Mrs.
Lerner's blood.
It matches the prints found near the broken window.
So we get prints from the workers and the maid's family, and see if any of them match up.
And check back with Forensics, maybe this guy's MO will tell the story.
MARKS: Lady went first.
The angle of the wounds suggests he was on the bed, straddling her.
He hit all the major landmarks, stomach, kidneys, liver, heart.
That's about as deliberate as it gets.
And how.
This one goes off the gruesome meter.
See this blood-spatter pattern above the headboard? That's the cast off of a knife moving hard and fast.
Thirty five at bats, and he never missed his target.
Great, we'll make him the MVP.
He earned it.
Struggling in the dark with his victims, and he never hits the bed? Guy knew what he wanted.
I'm getting married next summer.
I can't believe they won't be there.
LOGAN: You have any idea who'd want to hurt your parents? I can't imagine anyone would.
Everyone who ever met them loved them.
Well, we all want to think that about our parents, but it's not always realistic.
I was born and raised in this city.
I know what people are like.
My parents were different.
BRISCOE: Even the nicest people can make enemies.
We have to ask this, did your parents ever gamble or have any financial problems? Does it look like they did? Sometimes these fixer-uppers can drain a bank book pretty fast.
They could've borrowed money from the wrong people.
No, they bought this house because it needed work.
It was their dream house.
Since the day they moved in here last year, they spent every minute restoring every piece of tile, every doorknob.
Sounds like a full-time job.
Were they retired? They own Owned a small ad agency.
Pharmaceutical advertising.
We've had no bomb threats, no letters, not even a phone call.
Who the hell gets worked up over cold medicines? Didn't some drug company get in trouble because they had the wrong number of stars in their logo? Some religious fanatics spread rumors about Satanism.
But that was years ago, and that company is not one of our accounts.
Well, how about a disgruntled employee? Anybody complain about their Christmas bonus? Eileen and David treated their employees very well.
Sounds like Santa's workshop.
They never had to fire anybody? Since this agency opened, only two people have left against their will.
One died and the other was deported by the INS.
And Eileen went to Washington to stop that.
Well, no disrespect, but they sound a little too good to be true.
I can think of only one person who might agree.
Bob Frankel.
What did they do to Bob? He was partners with Eileen and David before they broke away.
They took Symtac, the primary account, and started this agency.
Well, that must've hurt.
Did Frankel take it in stride? I doubt it.
He went bankrupt.
Oh, yeah.
I have fond memories of those days, Detectives.
Eileen and David left me in ruins.
I'm just now crawling out from under chapter seven.
Yeah, you could say I would have liked to have killed them.
BRISCOE: If you're trying to clear yourself in a murder investigation, you're not going about it the right way.
I don't mind telling you how I feel because I didn't kill them.
Look, what they did to me was the best thing that could've happened to me.
It made me realize how much I really hated the advertising game.
Whatever anger I felt, I turned it into this.
Yeah, well, some people never learn to forgive and forget.
So, just for the hell of it, where were you last Saturday night at 1:00 a.
? Kenya.
I'm developing a private blend for my Gen X crowd.
And I call it Java Jive.
Latent ran that bloody thumb-print against everyone known to have been in that house in the past year.
They got nothing.
You run it against the short list of enemies? The Lerners don't have enemies.
These people were saints.
The only guy they ever screwed thinks they did him a favor.
You're saying someone picked their name out of the phone book and dropped in on them? It happens.
Some nut-job forgets to wear his aluminum-foil hat one morning.
All of a sudden, voices in his head start telling him to go ring doorbells and stab people.
Well, I don't like unsolved mysteries, so before we hand it over to Robert Stack We know.
We know.
Yeah, walk through it one more time.
All right.
Forensics says our guy was standing over her, and that she went first.
They're asleep.
Does she see him? Does she scream? She was still tucked in.
So our guy leans over, and he leaves a right thumb-print on the headboard.
That probably makes him a lefty.
Husband wakes up.
They fight.
The husband loses.
Okay, they're both dead.
Okay, so now what does he do? He doesn't steal anything.
He goes downstairs and washes up.
I'm sorry, am I in the way here? No, no, not at all.
This isn't gonna take very long, but maybe you'd rather not have to listen to this.
It's okay.
All right.
So, he walks into the kitchen, he cleans up at the sink, and then he goes out the way he came in.
Why climb back out the window when he could just walk through the door? Key-locked deadbolt, that's why.
And latents didn't find his prints on the doorknob.
He didn't even try to open it.
(BIRDS CHIRPING) And there's no prints on this side of the door, either.
He gets into the garden from over there.
So why does he pass that door, come over here, climb over all this crap to get into the window? Maybe he's psychic and he knew the door was locked.
Manhattan Security Services.
These holes in the masonry, Ms.
Lerner, was there a different kind of door here when your parents moved in? It was a security door.
My parents removed it when they remodeled the kitchen.
They wanted a view of the garden.
When my parents bought this house, it looked like Fort Knox.
So does half of New York.
Who used to live here? Warren Bartlett.
The divorce lawyer.
You may have heard of him.
You can't open Page Six without reading about him.
That's the guy who destroyed a lot of lives.
Oh, my God.
You mean, my parents may have been killed by mistake? This is unbelievable.
Those poor people.
Well, it's still just a theory.
We can't really be sure you were the intended victim.
But then again, in your line of work I reach the pinnacle of my profession, I have to live like a prisoner.
Cameras, security doors, letter bomb analyzers, a bodyguard when I go to court.
I mean, it's not as if we don't serve a purpose.
Do you know how many matrimonial attorneys were attacked last year? I know one who should have been.
Did anybody ever show up at your home? Actually, that's why we sold the brownstone.
Now I live in a doorman building.
High security.
Well, we're gonna need some names.
Why? Could be one of your clients' exes didn't know you relocated.
UNGER: You think you're being smart, cautious.
You sign a pre-nup, you know, just in case it's not happily ever after.
My ex goes to Bartlett.
Voilà, the pre-nup's not worth the paper it's written on.
It's America.
We have to pay for our mistakes.
How many mistakes do you make that cost 30 grand a month? (EXCLAIMS) I might wanna smack him around myself.
Somebody beat him up? Somebody tried to kill him.
(LAUGHS) Hey, bully for them.
Closest I ever got was throwing a chair in a deposition.
Look, that was eight years ago.
I've gone through three wives since.
If I was going to try to kill a divorce lawyer, he's way down on my list.
(MUSIC PLAYING ON STEREO) Learned my lesson, man.
Never mess with the talent.
Tina had the voice of an angel, but she had a tail and horns.
We heard Bartlett really cleaned you out in the divorce.
You lost the house, the studio, the car.
Don't believe Bartlett's B.
I threw money at him to make Tina go away.
Besides, this business is a license to print the green stuff.
The way he tells it, you weren't just throwing money.
You were throwing punches, threatened to kill him.
You try two days locked in a room with the wife, Bartlett and my suit who goes out at $300 an hour, being grilled over every nickel and dime.
You'd lose your cool, too.
But you see, you used the magic word, kill.
Bartlett threatened to go to the cops.
Tell them I was dealing coke.
Real crap.
Said he'd tie me up in criminal court till next year's Grammys.
He did his homework.
Yeah, well My shark did some homework of his own.
Seems Bartlett's kid had a little problem with the blow himself.
Makes for a quick settlement.
Everybody's happy.
You know, the more I talk to these guys, it reminds me why I stay single.
You mean, it's not just the quality time you get to spend with yourself? You know, it is possible that the guy we're looking for isn't ticked off at the way Bartlett does business.
His kid is a dope-head.
Maybe it's the way he does business.
Yeah, drug dealers.
I keep forgetting there's notches below lawyers.
You know, we could spend a whole year chasing down guys who may have wanted a piece of Bartlett.
Well, we wouldn't want you to get a hernia from overwork, Mike.
Very funny.
But I got a different angle.
Bartlett's kid's into powdering his nose.
Now, maybe he didn't pay his bills, and I doubt he sent a change-of-address card to his dealer.
Listen to this, Bartlett never had any children, but he's got a foster son named Smith.
The kid's father OD'd, mom's had a long history of drugs and theft.
She's till in Bedford.
Anyway, I ran the kid's name, no yellows.
Well, Bartlett's got connections.
He could make those disappear.
Yeah, he couldn't make an impound report disappear, though.
Well, that's a big help.
No, actually it might be.
Steven Smith wrapped his car around a hydrant the night of the murders.
Less than half a block from the Lerners' brownstone.
Wow, that's almost a clue.
And it beats heavy lifting.
What? It's Anita's sense of humor.
Lieutenant Anita to you.
It's like I said, a bunch of us went to a party down in SoHo.
I really don't remember much.
You remember having a brief encounter with a fire hydrant? You guys are cops.
I tell you what happened, you could pull my driver's license.
Come on, man, that's not even our department.
Just tell us what happened, Steve.
All right.
My buddy Josh and me, we left a party to go hit the clubs.
And I guess I shouldn't have been driving.
I hit the hydrant.
That's it.
I paid the towing fine.
Nobody got hurt.
What's the big deal? But you used to live right down the block from there.
Yeah, well, you know, but we were going to the Palladium, I mean Of course we were in the neighborhood.
What? You think I'm a witness to something? Did you see anything? No.
I locked up the car and I decided to call it a night.
You and Josh both called it a night? No.
He wasn't as out of it as I was.
He went back to the Zoo for a nightcap.
What, did you take a cab home? No, I was pretty wasted.
I needed the air, so I walked.
He got all revved up.
The party died.
Well, didn't you think Steve may have had a little too much to drink to get behind that wheel? Last year I saw the guy go for eight hours straight.
Maybe he's gotten out of shape, I don't know.
I hear AA'll do that to you.
He's in AA? Yeah, his girlfriend, Sally, she talked him into it.
Sally have a last name? Beyers, I think.
The things you'll do for a little action.
BRISCOE: You mean, he doesn't take AA seriously? Maybe he did.
I don't know, you are what you are, right? He said he'd only have one One drink turns into eight or nine Yeah, why don't you tell me about the accident? He was singing like a jerk.
You know, started playing air guitar.
And what happened to your drinking buddy? He smacked his head up against the steering wheel.
You know, if he wasn't so loaded, he might have actually got hurt.
LOGAN: So where'd you go from there? Something like that just messes you up.
I cabbed it back to the Zoo.
Steve go with you? No.
He said he wanted to walk it off.
Eight or nine drinks, I'd have to circle the Island twice to walk that one off.
You know, back in my drinking days, I came home once at the tail-end of a three-day bender.
Only I went into the wrong wife's front door.
That was enough to make me go to the 12 steps.
What are you saying, kid went to his old house by mistake? It plays out.
Steven used to come home drunk all the time.
So he didn't want to mess with the security door.
So he crawls in the window.
He's in AA.
He went on a bender.
Maybe he told his sponsor all about it.
I'm sorry.
I appreciate that you've got a job to do, Detectives.
But anything said in meetings is strictly confidential.
You know, I had a guy like you who dragged me out of a bottle once, and I wouldn't appreciate him giving out interviews to the tabloids, but this is a little different.
We're investigating a murder case here.
You don't think Steven killed someone.
Well, you're all wrong there.
Steven's many things, he's an alcoholic, he's a substance abuser, but he's no killer.
That much I'll tell you.
Did you know he was drinking again? I'm sorry.
I'm his sponsor.
I can't tell you any more.
(HORN HONKING) (SIGHING) What, does this guy think he's a priest? It's the only way it can work, Mike.
What's the girlfriend's name? Sally Beyers.
Maybe she's not so tight-lipped.
Steven's worked hardest on steps four and five.
"Making a fearless moral inventory" and "admitting his wrongs to God, to himself" "And to another person.
" Sounds like you've been there.
Sober 532 days.
All right.
Your boyfriend can't say as much.
This was his first slip.
It happens.
He tell you about it? Tuesday, in group.
He told us all.
It's part of the recovery.
What else did he tell you? What gets said in meetings stays in meetings.
We're investigating a serious crime, Miss Beyers.
And we have to talk to everybody.
Steven was in that neighborhood and he knows that house.
He doesn't remember anything.
He told us that he'd had a major blackout, and he said he's been having nightmares.
I think it scared him into sobriety.
What kind of nightmares? He read about those people dying in his old house and he dreamed that he did it.
Wait, wait, wait.
Let me get this right.
Now, you're saying this poor jerk had a dream.
Which he told to a group of people in an AA meeting.
Last night I dreamed that I was having an ice-cream sundae in bed with Heather Locklear.
You don't think that that's sufficient cause to get a warrant to check out my bedroom? With no disrespect, Your Honor, I doubt I'd find Ms.
Locklear's fingerprints on the headboard of your bed.
And you found the kid's prints at the scene? An unidentified set.
All I'm looking for is an order to fingerprint Steven Smith.
All right.
I'll give you your order, Ms.
Disrespect and all.
I told you I was drunk, all right? Did you ever hear of a blackout? They happen.
I can't remember anything.
BRISCOE: And these don't jog your memory? Why would I do that to those people, man? I don't even know them.
We're not saying you meant to kill them, Steven.
You know, there was a case up in Westchester.
This kid killed an Indian couple by mistake.
Now, if that's what this is, maybe there's a way out.
What kind of mistake, man? I wasn't there.
You drink too much, you do things you're not exactly proud of.
Believe me, I know.
Don't you think that I would remember Remember? I've been there, too.
Now relax.
You want some coffee or something? No, I'm okay.
Steven, when you woke up the next day, was there blood on your clothes? Yeah, I cut my head in the accident.
Of course, there was blood.
Look, we can go over this a million times, okay? I can't help you.
I wasn't there.
All right, tell me this.
In your dream, what happened to the knife? I'll tell you what I think happened, Steven.
I think you went in through the window because you were too drunk to notice that the steel door was gone.
You didn't know the Lerners had remodeled the house, did you? No, how would I? I haven't been there since we moved.
Now, see? That's just my point.
Kid's on the verge.
This might help.
Prints came back.
Our bloody thumb's a match.
Let's do it.
You know what they say, Lennie.
Memories fade but fingerprints don't.
Get up-UP! Steven Smith, you're under arrest for the murder of David and Eileen Lerner.
You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say can and will be used against "Docket number 622613, People v.
Steven Alan Smith.
" "Charges are two counts Murder in the Second Degree.
" Plea, Ms.
Larson? Not guilty.
And what do the People have to say? The People request that the defendant be held without bail.
He lives with his foster parents, Your Honor.
The Bartletts have deep roots in the community.
And he certainly seems old enough to hop a cab out of town.
Bail is set at $500,000.
A half a million bail, Jack.
A little over the top, don't you think? Thirty-five stab wounds.
I'd say I showed remarkable restraint.
Restraint? I suggest your police officers brush up on it.
Your client admitted I never To be accurate, he said he dreamt about the murders.
He read about them in the papers.
They happened where he used to live.
Freud would say it's natural.
And I suppose his prints on the headboard of the Lerners' bed got there telekinetically.
No, but the procedure by which you matched them to Mr.
Smith violated his rights.
We had a court order to fingerprint your client.
Sure you did.
But said court order was supported by privileged comments made during confidential AA meetings.
I'll see you in court.
The rules of privilege are founded in public policy, Your Honor.
Encouraging free communication in certain circumstances has been deemed more important than admitting the substance of that communication into evidence.
And the legislature is clear as to whom that privilege applies.
I see doctor and patient, attorney and client, priest and penitent, husband and wife.
There's nothing in the rules of evidence about self-help groups.
But the underlying policy is the same.
Society has recognized addiction as a disease.
Would we be here at all if my client had sought treatment in a psychiatrist's office? Psychiatrists are professionals specifically covered by the statute.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a self-help group.
Confidentiality is a courtesy, not a legal mandate.
For a 12-step program to be effective, a participant must bare his soul.
How can we require or expect that if it can then be turned around and used as evidence against him in a criminal trial? If we admit this evidence we are, in effect, destroying any chance these individuals have at finding a cure.
It's very convincing, Counselor.
The problem is that Mr.
McCoy is right.
There's nothing in the statutes that mentions 12-step programs.
I'm talking about principle, social policy, Your Honor.
I'm talking about the law, which as we all know, is to be narrowly construed.
My job is not to rewrite the statutes, it is to interpret them.
The defense motion is denied.
In that case, Your Honor, the defendant changes his plea from not guilty to not guilty by reason of mental defect.
They've got you dead to rights, why not? All right.
The defendant will be made available for examination by the People's experts at their convenience.
I've never even met those people before.
I have no idea why DR.
OLIVET: Why? I may have killed two innocent people.
People I never even heard of, and what do you think I feel? I don't know.
You tell me.
I have nightmares about it.
I don't I don't even know if I did it.
You don't remember? What do you remember? We We were at a party, doing shooters.
All right? I left with Josh.
We put in a CD or something I don't know.
The car swerved off the road.
I totaled the car.
I hit my head.
Josh went back for a drink.
What did you do? I thought I walked home.
But you didn't? No.
I guess I went back to my old house.
I don't remember! Why do you think that you went back there? I was drunk, okay? I know what you're thinking, and it's sick.
What, Steven? Warren and Leah, they put up with all my crap, all right? They're good people.
I love I know what you're thinking, it's like You think I wanted to kill them.
What do you think? DR.
OLIVET: He claims amnesia for the crimes and I believe him.
Amnesia's not grounds for insanity.
That's true.
The only form of mental illness seems to be substance abuse.
He was drunk, and as we all know, that's not the basis for an insanity plea.
They tried this in Westchester.
There's a difference.
There the defense claimed that the boy had a learning disability and that his homicidal tendencies were implanted by a high-school psychologist.
Steven Smith had an alcoholic blackout.
That, combined with a head injury from the car accident, could have triggered a dissociative episode.
He was drunk, he killed two innocent people and now he's trying to use the bottle as a defense.
Isn't it pretty obvious he meant to kill the Bartletts? At least unconsciously.
But there's no evidence of any conscious motive.
Bartlett's wealthy.
The brutality of the murders, this had nothing to do with money.
Then we should find out what it was about.
What are you implying? The Lerners were killed in your old bedroom, Mr.
Let me tell you something.
Steven has problems.
Most of them come out of a bottle.
He's ill, Warren.
And she's trying to say it's our fault.
Look, Steven had trouble handling a groundball, I spent three hours a night with him out at the schoolyard.
He was lost in algebra, I took a week off from work.
Something prompted this.
Steven is sick.
He's insane, for God's sakes! I don't need you to tell I'm certainly not going to help you put him in jail when he should be under psychiatric care.
Bartlett, you're an attorney.
You know that if he knew what he was doing at the time of the crime, he's not legally insane.
What are you saying? That Steven was rational when he did this? I'm sorry, I won't accept that.
They're wealthy, they're educated, they seem to be the perfect parents.
And Steven wanted them dead.
For no apparent reason.
He's still living with them, that has to mean something.
Maybe this was some sort of dissociative episode.
In other words, the crime is so crazy, the kid's got to be nuts.
The defense has the burden to show that at the time he committed the murders, Steven Smith didn't understand the nature of what he was doing.
Maybe we shouldn't be so gung ho here, Jack.
Maybe he is better off in a hospital than a prison.
Tell that to Elizabeth Lerner.
Am I supposed to let him play doctor in a rubber room at Bellevue just because he tells me he can't remember? Come on.
You know it's not that simple.
Even Olivet can't tell us whether he was rational at the time of the crime.
That's going to make for a wonderful cross examination.
Only one person knows what Smith was thinking that night, right? And he was in an alcoholic fog.
Well, let's turn on the defroster.
Hypnotize him.
Take him back to the scene.
If he says that E.
told him to kill a couple of gremlins, then I'll cut a deal for insanity.
LARSON: What happened, Jack? You had too much last night, blacked out and forgot the law? Hypnotic testimony is inherently unreliable.
On the contrary, I was up until the wee hours reading supreme court decisions.
Specifically Rock v.
Arkansas Which held that a per se rule excluding hypnotic testimony infringes on a defendant's right to testify on his own behalf.
In other words, you can't force my client to give hypnotic testimony.
I don't want him in prison if he's legally insane, Marge.
I'll tell you what.
If we learn that these murders were the result of a psychotic episode that rendered him unaware of what he was doing, I'll be the first one seated at the bargaining table.
And if we don't? I agree that nothing he says under hypnosis can be used against him in court.
Heads I win, tails you lose.
One more time on the kitchen floor Shut up, Josh.
Man, I wanna sing, I'll sing.
Oh, my God.
My head.
What happened, Steven? I totaled the car.
Where are you? It's late, I better get home.
The door's locked.
How are you going to get in? I gotta get home.
The storm window.
She'll never know.
Who will never know? I'll be quiet.
Where are you, Steven? Mommy.
Don't hit me, Mommy! (SCREAMING) It burns, Mommy! Please.
It burns.
I'll be good.
EIDLER: What did you do wrong, Steven? STEVEN: I didn't mean it.
I won't spill the Coke on the carpet again.
I promise.
Mommy, don't hit me, please! Don't or I'll Or you'll what, Steven? It burns so bad.
Tell me, what will you do? No.
I'm sorry.
It's bad.
What is it, Steven? The knife.
I'm sorry, the knife.
It's bad.
But I have to.
I have to.
It's pitiful is what it is.
But it's clear he knew what he was doing was wrong.
Translation, he wasn't legally insane.
Come on, we all know I can march into a courtroom, show a video of what we just saw and walk away with a verdict of not guilty by reason of mental defect.
And if you put one witness on the stand who says that he was legally insane at the time of the murder, you'll be suborning perjury.
I've known you for 15 years, Marge.
I never suspected that was part of your makeup.
We've gone way beyond an insanity defense, Jack.
So you're willing to cut a deal? And subject my client to the tender mercies of the criminal justice system? I don't think so.
Steven Smith committed justifiable homicide.
He was acting in self-defense.
It's probable that Steven Smith was physically abused as a child.
Now he's a grown man.
But it was the 12-year-old boy who swung that knife.
Is it possible that he's just acting? It's possible, but I doubt it.
The alcohol, the physical trauma, together they could've freed repressed memories.
I think the night of the murders, he was a 12-year-old boy who thought he was about to be beaten.
It sounded like he was hit repeatedly.
It won't be a stretch for Larson to make a good case for self-defense.
You got no case, come to us.
We'll give you all the help you need.
Steven Smith went into what he thought was the Bartletts bedroom at 2:00 a.
, which means that he can't argue that he didn't know they were asleep.
Which means that he can't argue that he thought he was threatened with imminent physical harm.
Which means there's no self-defense.
But he was thinking like a 12-year-old.
I'm not certain he could make that distinction.
I think he could.
The Lerners were found in their bed, in their nightclothes.
Both were victims of multiple stab wounds.
Did you come to any conclusion as to whether they were asleep at the time the attacks commenced? Objection.
Calls for speculation.
Detective Logan is qualified to testify as to the opinions formed as a result of his investigation.
Speculate, Detective Logan.
The time of death was determined to be between midnight and 3:00 a.
The lights were out, Mrs.
Lerner was still under the blankets, we determined that she was asleep when the attack began, and that Mr.
Lerner who had defensive wounds on both hands was awakened by the attack on Mrs.
JACK: Thank you, Detective.
The defense has no questions for this witness.
I was with Steven from around 8:00 until just after he wrecked his car.
And was his behavior out of the ordinary that evening? We were drinking heavy, you know.
I guess he was acting like usual.
Turning your attention to the moments immediately following the accident, please describe how the defendant acted.
He wrecked his car.
He was upset.
I said I'd call a tow truck, and he said to hell with it, he'll deal with it in the morning.
And what happened then? I went to go get another drink.
Did the defendant go with you? No.
Thank you.
What were the defendant's parting words that evening? He said he was going home.
I see.
No more questions.
We've put five witnesses on the stand.
Larson asks one question on cross.
I'd say she was pretty confident.
Sure she's confident.
Tomorrow she plans on breaking the jury's hearts.
Sympathy alone doesn't get you an acquittal.
But it sure as hell hangs a jury.
Look at those boys out in LA.
This isn't the Menendez brothers, Adam.
There's no doubt in this case that the victims were innocent.
That's right.
Only here we have the abusers in the flesh to tell us all about what monsters they were.
I have a Masters in child psychology from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.
from Cornell.
I've been with the Department of Social Services for the last 16 years where I've counseled nearly 10,000 abused children.
Did you have an opportunity to see the videotape of the defendant in his hypnotic state? I did.
Would you say that he fit the profile of the typical abused child? Considering Steven's body language, the panic in his voice, the substance of what he was saying, leads me to believe that he was an abused child, yes.
When he was 12 years old, would you say that he hated his foster parents? On the contrary, he loved them very much.
He loved them, yet still he wanted them dead? Well, you have to understand that the love an abused child feels is tempered by confusion, shame, guilt.
But most of all, by fear.
Now, Steven Smith was burned and beaten.
In my opinion, he wanted to kill the Bartletts because he thought they were going to kill him.
Thank you, Doctor.
Of the 10,000 abused children you've counseled, Doctor, how many were beaten while their abusers were asleep? That's an absurd question.
So I can take it that that means zero? Yes.
But abused children believe their abusers are an omnipresent threat.
Their abusers.
Not some strangers.
I'm not proud of what I did.
I got help.
I thought I got it in time.
So, you're admitting you abused Steven? Warren and I couldn't have children, but the problem was I just wasn't ready to be a mother.
Please tell us more, Mrs.
Well, it began with a glass of wine at dinner.
I'd put Steven to bed and I'd feel so alone.
So I'd have another and another, and then I moved on to vodka.
And I'd start at breakfast.
And I was hard on Steven.
He would cry and I just couldn't stand it.
So you hit him? You'll have to answer aloud.
Um him, first with my hand, and then with anything I could find.
A bottle, a shoe.
I was alone in the house with Steven.
I blamed him.
And how did it end, Mrs.
Bartlett? One afternoon, I was on my second bottle of vodka.
Steven was in the living room watching television.
I kicked his can of soda and it spilled all over the carpet.
It was a new carpet! I burned him with a cigarette.
He ran into the kitchen.
I followed him and I grabbed a carving knife.
I'm so sorry.
Warren came home from the office.
I don't know what would have happened if he hadn't come home then.
I started treatment the next day.
Thank you.
Shall I ask for a recess, Mrs.
Bartlett? No, I'm okay.
How old was Steven when you attacked him with the knife? He was 12.
And you haven't hit him once in the past nine years? No.
And he still lives at home with you? Yes.
No more questions.
The defense rests.
Well, juror number three was actually in tears.
After my closing, I hope they'll be crying for the Lerners.
And that'll make them want to put the mother in jail, not the kid.
Did you ever consider the possibility that Mrs.
Bartlett might be exaggerating to protect her son? It's just her word.
That's right.
It is just her word, isn't it? Where are you going? Well, wouldn't this have been a slam dunk for the defense if Mr.
Bartlett took the stand and confirmed her story? Larson never called him.
My wife had a drinking problem.
I wasn't aware of the extent of it.
A bottle of vodka a day, you didn't notice? I was referring to how she treated Steven.
She said she beat him with a shoe, a bottle.
You didn't notice? I was starting a new practice.
I was at the office more than I was at home.
I see.
Now, sir, correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you tell my associate, Ms.
Kincaid, that when your son had trouble with baseball, you worked with him every night? You took a week off to help him with his mathematics? That was after Leah was in treatment.
My practice was already established.
Yes, but it seems you had a close relationship.
I'm proud of that, yes.
He would come to you when he had problems? Yes.
He didn't understand Pythagoras, he came to you for help, he booted a groundball, he ran to you.
But when your wife burned him with a cigarette or beat him with a shoe, he didn't think it proper to confide in you, is that right? He was a boy.
Did you abuse Steven, Mr.
Bartlett? I was selfish.
I worked too hard.
I ignored my family.
Steven suffered from that.
Did you ever beat him with a shoe? No.
A bottle? No.
How many times did you burn him with a cigarette? I would never I always protected Steven.
I would never hurt him.
But Steven thought you would.
That's not true.
I love him! He loves me! And he had no reason to kill you.
Your Honor, Mr.
McCoy is testifying here.
In my chambers.
The witness himself said that he never abused the defendant.
He said he always protected him.
What's that have to do with anything? Let's assume for the moment that the defendant actually believed that Mrs.
Bartlett was going to kill him.
Fine, that's self-defense, but Mr.
Bartlett never laid a hand on him.
He didn't have a weapon.
So tell me, what was he defending himself from? The jury can infer he was They won't get the chance.
Your Honor, the People dismiss count one of the indictment, the charge of murdering Eileen Lerner.
We'll proceed only on count two for the murder of David Lerner.
Are you sure? I'm sure.
And I further move that Your Honor charge the jury that they may not consider self-defense as a justification for that murder.
Very clever, Mr.
This is prejudicial.
And it's the law.
Motion is granted.
JUDGE MIKELSON: Finally, you are instructed as follows.
In the matter before you, you may not in any way consider the affirmative defense of justification as a result of self-defense.
In other words, the only issue before you is whether the prosecution has proven sufficiently each and every element of the crime of Murder in the Second Degree.
Namely, did the defendant intend to cause the death of David Lerner and did he in fact cause said death? JUDGE MIKELSON: Madam Forewoman, has the jury reached a verdict? Yes, we have, Your Honor.
On the sole count of the indictment, Murder in the Second Degree, how do you find? We find the defendant, Steven Smith, guilty.
The defendant is remanded to custody pending sentencing.
Jury is excused.
Court is adjourned.
(GAVEL POUNDING) I'm so sorry.
We split hairs.
We won.
But I'm still not convinced putting Steven Smith in prison for 25 years is the right thing.
You think he should be on the street? You know that's not what I mean.
The law only gave us two choices.