Law & Order (1990) s11e12 Episode Script

Teenage Wasteland

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 talk to Mr.
M about the fridge? He says we can take it when we're through today.
Freddie's cousin's coming with his truck later.
What about the AC? It's staying.
Yeah, that figures.
Yeah, it probably doesn't work anyway.
Oh, my God.
Eddie! CSU OFFICER: Asian male, late 40s.
Multiple blows to the face and head.
Multiple blows? The back of his head's crushed in.
How long's he been dead? Rough guess, since last night, but it's hard to tell.
It rained yesterday.
Body's been sitting in a puddle.
Any ID? Just 30, 40 bucks cash.
Small change.
And two soggy restaurant receipts.
Writing's smudged from the water.
Let me see.
Looks like Chinese.
Maybe that's his bike.
Who lives here? It's vacant.
Guys that discovered him were the painters.
And he was found covered like this with the blanket? Same blanket fibers were on the door frame, and there's some blood spatter.
He was done here.
All right, round up the super or the handyman, whatever, and close all of this off.
Now, why would a guy make a delivery to an empty apartment? Maybe he got dragged down there.
Or pushed down.
I want you to check with all the local Chinese take-outs.
See if we can find out who this guy was.
ED: Hey, Lennie.
He must've been locking up and got jumped before he could finish.
Well, he's finished now.
We were married over 20 years.
Owned the restaurant almost 10.
I'm very sorry, Mrs.
We'll try and keep this short.
Thank you.
We do have a few questions, if you don't mind.
You didn't report your husband missing last night? I thought he was sleeping here.
Has he done that before? Many times.
On Saturday, we open early.
I don't like him to drive home so late by himself.
By himself.
So you'd left already? We were slow.
It was raining.
My husband sent me home.
What time was that? Who else was here after that? Oh, Jenny, my niece.
She takes the orders.
Works the register.
When you left, was that the last time you spoke to your husband? He called about 11:00 to make sure I got home okay.
Why didn't he go with you? My husband worked 15 hours a day, seven days a week.
Tommy never liked to close.
Thanks, Mrs.
My uncle sent me home around 11:30.
This probably came in after I left.
Uncle Tommy must have taken the orders himself.
Well, what about some other record of the addresses? I always write them down on the ticket and on the receipt.
But there's nothing here.
Unis canvassed the building and the two buildings adjacent.
Two people ordered Chinese, but from different restaurants.
Both of 'em got their food.
So where was he going? Well, we think it's a little coincidental that the vic gets killed below street level in front of an apartment that nobody lives in.
Well, if that's true, the perp had to know the apartment was vacant.
And had access to a phone.
Which doesn't mean he actually lives in that area.
Now, preliminary forensics on the blanket looks like the contents of a sewer.
A homeless guy.
Well, the area in front of that door might have made a nice little shelter.
All right, pull the IUDs from any payphones nearby, and let's talk to the tenants again.
See if anyone saw someone hanging out last night.
Last night, no.
But there's a guy who sleeps down there sometimes.
I see him every once in a while on my way to work in the morning.
How long has that been? Off and on, I'd say a couple of months.
Did you get a good look at him? (SCOFFS) I never look.
I mean, who wants to make eye contact? But I hear the tenant that used to live there had trouble with him.
You know this tenant? No.
Young kid.
Nice enough.
Lived with his girlfriend.
Any idea where they moved to? No.
I'm sure the landlord can tell you.
Doorman makes all the difference, you know.
I couldn't even get packages before.
Had to go to the post office.
What about this homeless guy? Late 50s, I think.
White guy.
We'd open the door to go to work and he'd just be there.
ED: So you moved out? Mmm-hmm.
We called the police a couple of times.
They even got him to leave once.
But a few days later he came back, and he was pissed.
He threatened you? Just yelled a lot and went on about how he had fought for my freedom, and now I don't even let him sleep in my doorway.
EMILY: It sort of freaked me out.
We started looking for another place right away.
Sounds like we lucked out, huh? We took 42 smudges.
Twelve usable prints off the frame, show up with sheets.
We got a witness who says our guy might have been in the armed forces.
Yeah, so I ran the prints through the defense department's database.
Your witness was right.
"Marvin Warner, Sergeant.
"Honorably discharged, May '76.
" (CELL PHONE RINGING) Two misdemeanor loitering charges.
Sounds like our guy.
We're gonna need the photo from his last arrest.
I'll get you a printout.
Okay, thank you.
Lennie, that was Mrs.
She said somebody called the restaurant on Friday about an order placed.
He never got his food, and he wanted to make sure the girl that took the order didn't charge his credit card.
ED: You told me you left at 11:30.
I did.
This man's wrong.
He said you took his credit card number.
Which means we're gonna get a validation from the credit card company and the time.
So, if there's something you know, you should tell us.
I'm sorry.
It's my fault Uncle Tommy got killed.
Uh, what do you mean? I'm supposed to take call-back numbers to make sure that the orders are real.
But it was late.
I forgot.
How could you have known? You told me that you write the addresses down on the tickets.
I put them in my coat pocket.
I'm so sorry.
"631 East 12th.
110 East 2nd Street, basement apartment.
" So whoever called in the order definitely knew about the apartment.
Which doesn't eliminate the homeless guy.
Yeah, but we got zip on the IUDs from the payphones, and the addresses from his priors are bogus.
So what are we doing to find this guy? We got unis checking the parks and the shelters in the area.
And his arrest photo's circulating the neighborhood.
Well, he's a veteran, right? How about we check the VA hospital? ED: I'll check their outpatient lists.
Yes? New York City police, ma'am.
Is there a Marvin Warner living here? (BARKING) Marvin's my brother but he doesn't live here.
(SIGHS) Is he in some sort of trouble? Well, we think he just might be able to help us with an investigation we're conducting.
An investigation about what? We just need to ask him some questions, ma'am.
I don't know where he is.
Nobody's looking to hurt him.
Yeah, well, how do I know that? (EXHALES) My brother has had a difficult life.
Ma'am, I was in the service, too.
I know the transition back can be very hard.
But please, let us talk to him before he really does get hurt.
If he's in the city, he likes to panhandle at a bodega on 9th and Avenue A.
When our mother died a year ago, that's where I found him.
Guy works 15 hours a day, winds up in a puddle in the rain.
He left his mark, though.
Three kids.
Business that supports two families.
Hey, check it out.
Here comes Sergeant Slaughter.
(CAR DOOR OPENS) Marvin Warner? They must be from the prize patrol.
Ed, tell him what he's won.
You've just won a fabulous time-share upstate.
Come on.
I didn't rob anyone and I didn't kill anyone.
BRISCOE: Well, we got a witness who says you're a pretty belligerent guy, Marvin.
What witness? The tenant who used to live in the basement apartment.
Oh, the dot-com kid? Piece of crap.
Him and the girl.
How does it hurt them, me trying to stay out of the weather? There's shelters for that.
I'm not an animal.
I served my country.
I deserve better than that.
Yeah? And what about Mr.
Ngai? Didn't he deserve better? I told you, I don't know what you're talking about.
Your blanket was wrapped around his head.
You must've been pretty hungry to trade a nice warm blanket for some cold Chinese food.
You want to know about my blanket? Well, how about you just ask those kids? ED: What kids? The kids that kicked me off of the landing.
I was hanging out there, same as usual, and these punks come by.
How many? Four or five.
Just tell me to take a walk.
I put up a pretty good fight, too.
Only it was four against one.
They wouldn't even let me keep my blanket.
What time was this? Well, I don't know, but it was still raining.
What'd these kids look like? Kids.
Just, you know, regular kids.
It was a girl and four guys.
Yeah, teenagers.
Had you seen them there before? No.
But the little bitch they had with 'em, she had a key to the place.
So we're buying Warner's story? We got a lady on the first floor thought she heard some arguing earlier that night.
Which makes Warner's timing right.
What do we have on these kids? BRISCOE: Just a neighbor from the canvass.
Says he saw a bunch of kids getting into a blue car while he was walking his dog.
No make, no plates.
That was around 12:30 a.
What is this, a thrill killing? ED: Well, it doesn't look like an accident.
Well, how did they know about the apartment? How did they get a key? Look, I haven't been down here since Friday morning.
I'm supposed to have the place painted Saturday, and then this.
I can promise you, none of this stuff was here Friday morning.
Hwa Ying restaurant.
Who else has keys? Landlord, me, and I gave a key to the tile guy.
ED: Tile guy? Yeah, we're trying to raise the rent.
And when was he here? Friday afternoon.
I gave him the key and told him to lock up when he was done.
ED: Did he return it? Yeah, it was in my box Friday night.
It's the one I gave the painters.
Who is this tile guy? I got his card in my office.
Meantime, nobody comes in or out of here.
I left at 7:00.
Anyone confirm that? My wife.
I was home by 8:00.
You give the key to anybody? No.
I put it in the box.
Kid came by, though, just as I was leaving.
Yeah? What did he want? Looking for someone.
Think he said Mitch, Mike, something like that.
Said he was a friend of the guy who used to live there.
We haven't been back to the apartment since the end of the month.
So you don't know anything about this kid that came by Friday evening saying he knew you? Absolutely not.
What about Mitch or Mike? You know anybody by those names? Mitch? You sure he said Mitch? ED: Who is Mitch? Heather's boyfriend? You want to fill us in here? Well, the weekend we were supposed to move out, this place wasn't ready yet, so we went to a hotel.
I had everything packed.
I told my sister she can use the apartment for the weekend.
With her boyfriend.
KEVIN: I gave Heather the key.
Told her to leave it with the super after the movers were done.
Maybe that was a mistake.
She's going to college next year.
I think she's capable of handing in a set of keys.
Let's talk about it later, okay? Honey, please.
I did give the keys back I left them in the super's box.
He never got them.
Well, then I don't know.
Hey, somebody stopped by that apartment on Friday night saying he was looking for Mitch.
So? So you're saying somebody looking for your boyfriend was just a coincidence? You two didn't kind of like extend your stay, did you, Heather? Where were you Friday night? Some clubs in the city.
With Mitch? Chris Donnels, some others.
All right, we're gonna need their names and addresses.
My mother and father knew where I was the whole night You can ask them.
I paged her around 11:00.
She called me right back.
We gave her her own cell phone so we could keep track of her.
Just because she called doesn't mean she wasn't getting into trouble.
She was home by 2:00.
I was up.
I saw her come in.
ED: What about between Why? ED: We have witnesses that may have seen Heather at your son's old apartment on Friday night.
RUSSO: Kevin's apartment? Mmm-hmm.
RUSSO: May have seen her do what? Why should you be at Kevin's old apartment? May have seen her do what? We're trying to sort that out.
Somebody also came by looking for Mitch.
Mitch Regan? If they were looking for Mitch Regan, maybe you should be talking to him and not our daughter.
Look, Mitch is working right now at the store with his father.
Can't this wait? Well, when do you expect him? I still don't understand why you want to talk to him.
I mean, was he in an accident or something? We just want to look in the car, ma'am.
We can call in a warrant, but then we're going to have to take the car.
Oh, no, no, no.
Don't take the car.
Do you know where your son was Friday night, Mrs.
Regan? Please, what is this about? Look, he's a good kid.
I mean, if you're looking for drugs or something, you're not gonna find it.
What is it? What did you find? Looks like a snow pea.
I was at a club.
I didn't go anywhere near that apartment.
Then why'd this kid come looking for you there? I don't know.
Hey, look, maybe the last couple of weekends I was there with Heather.
Chris probably just got the night wrong.
Chris? You mean Chris Donnels? How'd you know we were talking about him? You remember the homeless guy? I don't know.
BRISCOE: Oh, sure you do.
We got a witness who said you and your little buddies roughed him up that night, too.
Maybe you remember his blanket.
I don't know anything about this.
That ain't gonna fly no more, Mitch.
We found Chinese food in your Mustang, Mitch.
The lab is working on every article of clothing you own right now.
We're gonna check out every phone call you made.
You think we're not gonna find out what happened? And when we do, who do you think's gonna do the time? Huh? Heather? Look, it wasn't me, okay? I wasn't the one that hit him.
Then who did? We didn't have enough money to pay for the food.
ED: Who's "we"? Me, Heather, Peter Franco, Chris Donnels and Nick Simms.
Look, the Chinese guy got upset.
There was some shoving.
Pete hit him.
Peter Franco.
I told him to stop, but it was too late.
But he didn't mean to kill the guy.
What about the blanket? I put it over him afterwards, out of respect.
Look, I swear, that's all I did.
I wasn't involved.
This kid was more than just there.
Lied through his teeth until he found out you had the goods on him.
I think we got our doer.
The kid played too many angles before he finally came clean.
Even then, he had the presence of mind to blame someone else.
Hey, what are friends for? Charge him with murder.
A person doesn't lose the back of his skull unless his killer intends him to.
BRISCOE: What about the girlfriend? IUDs from her cell phone.
Which means we can place them all at the scene.
Pick 'em up.
We'll see how it shakes out.
Is your daughter here? She's eating dinner.
We have a warrant for her arrest.
What the hell's going on? Heather Russo, you're under arrest for murder.
She's not going anywhere with you.
Don't make this any harder than it has to be.
Bob, don't, please.
On your feet, Heather.
I'm sorry.
You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you do say, can and will be used against you in a court of law.
"Docket ending 316 of 2,000.
" "People against Peter Franco, Chris Donnels, Nick Simms," "Heather Russo and Mitch Regan.
" I'll hear you as to the facts, Ms.
Your Honor, the victim in this case, Thomas Ngai, was the owner of a Chinese restaurant.
Late Friday night, while making a delivery to an apartment previously leased by the defendant Russo's brother, he was savagely attacked, robbed and killed by the defendants.
What was taken? CARMICHAEL: Apparently just the food they ordered.
I didn't do anything.
I didn't Counselor, I suggest you tell your client to shut his mouth.
What about the girl? What'd she do? CARMICHAEL: We believe her to be the individual who placed the order to the restaurant from her cell phone, luring the victim to the apartment.
Your Honor, because murder in the First Degree requires a defendant to be 18 years or older at the time of the crime, the defendant Regan is the only one before you charged with a capital crime.
However, the People are requesting remand as to each defendant.
These are still teenagers, Your Honor.
First arrests for each.
CARMICHAEL: Defendant Regan has a juvenile record for assault.
Those records are sealed, Your Honor.
And the People will be making an application to unseal right after this arraignment.
First arrests or not, they're certainly starting off at the top.
Your Honor I'm not going to try this case here, Counselor.
Defendant Regan is remanded.
Bail is set at $250,000 as to Franco, Donnels, Simms and Russo.
This is outrageous.
Yes, Counselor, it certainly is.
Let the games begin.
Motions for severance.
Like rats off a sinking ship.
Donnels and Franco claim Regan did it.
Regan points the finger back at them.
And Heather Russo is waiting to see which way the wind is blowing.
Which leaves Mr.
At this point, he's not prepared to make any statement.
I'm not looking for a statement, Counselor, I'm looking for cooperation.
If I don't get it from him, you can bet I'll get it from someone else.
So far, no one's pointed a finger at you.
Once they do, you become just another member of the pack.
What are you offering? A top and a bottom.
If he was involved in any way in the murder, man one and he serves five-to-15.
If he was just there, six months and probation.
Six months just for being there? No one walks on this, Counselor.
A man lost his life.
A woman lost her husband.
Three small children lost their father.
I'm giving him this one chance to tell me why.
It wasn't supposed to be like that.
CARMICHAEL: You mean like murder? We just went into the city to have a good time, you know? Killing a man's a strange way of having a good time.
We were at the apartment, drinking some beers, smoking, and just hanging out.
And I think it was Pete, Peter Franco, who said he was hungry, but no one had any money.
So Mitch said we should call some Chinese place and order some food.
How were you going to pay? SIMMS: We weren't.
We were gonna just take off with the food.
So you were gonna rob him? When the guy showed up, Pete and Chris threw this old blanket over him that we'd taken off some homeless guy.
And then they knocked him downstairs.
Where were you when this happened? With Mitch, just inside the apartment.
When he fell, the guy tried to get up, but Mitch wrestled him to the ground and then Pete and Chris and Mitch they were all hitting him.
And finally, he stayed down.
Only he wasn't dead yet.
The forensic report indicates a considerable period of time passed before another single blow smashed his skull.
Probably minutes.
LEWIN: What forensics? He threw up under the blanket.
Simms said they could hear him moaning, pleading for his life.
Dear God.
That's when Mitch Regan said that Ngai had seen their faces, and that if they didn't want to go to jail they'd have to kill him.
While they argued about that, Ngai started retching.
Apparently that wasn't enough for Regan.
He wasn't about to wait.
He picked up a piece of cement from the staircase and smashed Ngai's head with it.
Then they all got in his car and drove back to Queens as if nothing had happened.
We have to consider the death penalty for Regan.
What? Wait a minute.
Wait a minute.
It was Regan who suggested the robbery.
Regan who incited murder.
And when no one else would go along with him, it was Regan who finished the job himself.
Have you looked at his date of birth? He's barely 18.
He made Simms drive so he could eat the food he'd ordered.
He also has a prior assault as a juvenile.
It happened two months prior to his 16th birthday.
JACK: Otherwise, he'd be a violent predicate felon.
The child he attacked was left blind in his right eye.
Look, I appreciate your conviction here, but the death penalty is not something I'm willing to inflict on a teenager.
JACK: On any teenager or just this one? What are you talking about? A black kid sells some crack, we put him in prison for life.
It's done every day without us blinking an eye.
A kid from the suburbs does the same thing, we get people running around trying to arrange a rehab bed for him.
Just a moment.
Abbie, part 78.
We're not talking about a drug case here.
We're talking about the death penalty.
Which is exactly why we have to avoid any appearance it wasn't applied objectively.
We both know the crime justifies it.
That was the clerk.
Regan might have beaten us to the punch.
Judge Schreiber just let him plead guilty to murder one with the promise of a life sentence.
A writ of mandamus asking me to vacate the guilty plea.
Judge Schreiber had no authority to accept such a plea.
We pled to the top count, murder one.
According to Hynes v.
Tomei, a defendant cannot plead guilty while the prosecutor's notice to seek the death penalty is pending.
You haven't filed the notice.
JACK: Because the statute allows us 120 days.
But Hynes doesn't cover that situation.
JACK: The spirit of the case does.
Judge, we'd be allowing defendants to circumvent the law if we let them plead guilty before D.
's had a chance to consider the death penalty.
It'd create a race to the courthouse.
It'd be the defendants who get to choose their own sentences.
Well, better them than some bloodthirsty prosecutor.
STANTON: No, I'm sorry, Your Honor, but Mr.
McCoy didn't seem to mind races to the courthouse when he was making offers to any kid quick enough to roll over for him.
Well, that may be true.
But in the context of the death penalty, I don't think we want to be playing games about whether notice has been filed or not.
I'm vacating the plea.
Simply put, Mitch Regan cannot plead guilty until the People have reached their own decision about the death penalty.
Your Honor, I think I'm sorry, Counselor, but this is for the protection of all defendants.
Well, this is one defendant you just protected right back into a lethal injection.
You'll forgive me if I don't say "thank you.
" Wesley Stanton.
Man's a legend in a lot of people's minds.
Especially his own.
He's taking the case pro bono.
Well, I'm sure the publicity will more than compensate him for his time.
The point is, the ball's back in our court.
What if I simply waited for the headlines to go away, and then quietly announced I'd considered the evidence and decided not to seek the death penalty? You're not going to do that.
All right, call the senior staff.
I'll hear all the arguments.
No, my point is, how can we ask for the death penalty when other jurisdictions are considering a moratorium? Honestly, I don't think it's a problem.
There's two issues involved with the moratorium.
The potential for an innocent man being executed, faulty DNA evidence, something like that, and ineffective assistance of counsel.
But, correct me if I'm wrong, Jack, I haven't heard anything to suggest that this guy didn't do it.
And Wes Stanton has tried more capital cases than I have.
What about the guidelines? Where does he fit? Both Jack and I concur the juvenile assault should be considered a prior crime of violence.
Why? Because it occurred two months prior to his 16th birthday, and it involved substantial injuries to his victim.
We also discounted a separate incident involving a neighbor's pet, a cat, which contained allegations of animal torture.
The facts weren't clear in the probation report.
I'd agree.
He's already had his bite.
Now, the heinous nature of this crime is self-evident, as was his total disregard for the victim's life.
Excuse me, but why aren't we talking about this kid's age? JACK: We can talk about it all you like.
But if we use his age to disregard every other guideline, it only makes our determination more arbitrary, not less.
He's right.
Legislature's established a bright line at 18 years old.
I don't think we should blur it.
Blur it? Whatever happened to the exercise of discretion? ROSENFELD: I agree with Nora.
I don't think it's as simple as a bright line.
This kid's got a family, a high school education.
He's got a job in his father's store.
Meaning what? Meaning, I think he has a chance.
HAYES: Well, what about the kids who never had a chance? Who rings their hands for them? Now, I'm sorry, but being white and from Queens isn't mitigation in my book.
We're also not just talking about a white defendant.
Let's keep in mind that a decision here not to seek the death penalty could very well be perceived as discriminatory by the Asian community.
No, I'm not gonna kill a white kid just to prove I'm politically correct.
JACK: No one's suggesting you should.
But if we're prepared to visit this type of punishment on offenders at all, we'd better not refuse to do it just because he looks like the kid next door.
You know, you can get anything you need on the computer with Westlaw.
Oh, I like the books.
What are you Shepardizing? US Supreme Court decision from Oklahoma.
Juvenile death penalty.
Unfortunately, the court's very clear that no national consensus exists that violates cruel and unusual punishment when the death penalty is given to somebody over the age of 16.
I was hoping to find a New York court disagreed, but, no.
He's 18, Nora.
In the eyes of the law, he's an adult.
Have you seen his arrest photo? I don't think he even shaves.
Well, I'm sure shaving is some legitimate male rite of passage, but it certainly shouldn't be the standard to decide a capital case.
What should be the standard to take the life of a teenager? Where I come from, it's when what a person's done is so vicious, so cruel, he forfeits the right to get any older.
Where I come from, a person can't forfeit that right.
We can only take it from him.
"My decision today" "continues this office's tradition" "of objectively applying the laws of this state" "to the cases it's charged with prosecuting in this great city.
" "Ours is an island," "but we are not untouched by the national debate" "or its dictates concerning the death penalty.
" "That being said," "my decision goes against my personal feelings," "but as District Attorney, I took an oath to uphold the law," "which includes applying the death penalty fairly," "with due process of law.
" "To do otherwise would be to substitute" "my own judgment for the judgment of those" "the people elected to make such decisions.
" "Accordingly," "I am forced to conclude that notice to the court" "of our intention to seek the death penalty" "in the case of the People v.
Mitch Regan is appropriate.
" CARMICHAEL: The jury was out less than an hour.
And Stanton didn't call a single witness? I think Stanton's saving his credibility with the jury to plead for his client's life.
When are you back in court? Judge Schreiber starts the penalty phase tomorrow morning.
Do we have any witnesses? He's limited our presentation to the M.
LEWIN: Well, what about mitigation? I assume Stanton will mount his case now.
Well, he was hoping to call one of Regan's teachers.
But? Schreiber ruled that it opened the door to the prior juvenile history.
I don't think Stanton wants a jury to hear how his client viciously assaulted someone in the past.
Especially a child.
Which leaves him with what? He's calling his mother.
Doesn't everyone? Doctor, earlier in this trial you indicated a single blow from a blunt object caused Mr.
Ngai's death.
Ngai died from a depressed skull fracture.
Basically, the back of his head was crushed in.
JACK: There was also mentioned on cross-examination by Mr.
Stanton that the fatal injury sustained by the deceased might have been received during the initial attack at the top of the stairs.
RODGERS: Anything is possible.
JACK: But I want to be absolutely clear that that is not your expert opinion.
No, it's not.
Why not? Because of the evidence I found of regurgitation, the vomit under the blanket.
Anything else? There was a pattern of blood focal hemorrhages on the surface of the lung.
Now, this blood didn't appear to be from any internal injuries.
Rather, it was more likely from the facial injuries and broken nose he received.
As a result, Mr.
Ngai was breathing in his own blood.
As he did, it spread through the smaller airways.
Both the regurgitation and blood could only have occurred sometime prior to the fatal head injury.
I divorced when Mitch was three years old.
STANTON: What was the cause of the divorce? My former husband, Mitch's biological father, had a drinking problem.
Eventually, he abandoned Mitch and me.
Did that effect your son? Very much so.
He cried at night, had nightmares.
It was a very difficult time for both of us.
STANTON: He's your only son? MRS.
REGAN: With his father.
I have two other children with my husband.
So, Alex Regan is not Mitch's natural father? His stepfather.
And what is that relationship like? It's always been a little strained.
My husband is a good man, but he's been hard on Mitch.
I've always thought, a little too hard at times.
Before I got married, he watched out for me, he protected me, even as a small child.
He's still like that with his brother and sister.
When his grandmother was dying, he wouldn't leave her side.
He's not this monster.
He isn't.
I know him.
I know him better than anyone in this world.
You have to believe me.
Thank you, Mrs.
Regan, was your son ever physically abused? MRS.
Not by his stepfather and not by his biological father? Bill, my first husband, was an alcoholic, but he wasn't a violent man.
JACK: And your current husband? MRS.
REGAN: Never.
And you cared for your son, gave him food and shelter, love and support? I thought so.
But there must be something I did.
Regan, you said you know your son better than anyone in the world? Yes.
Did you know he was capable of this? I have nothing further, Your Honor.
MITCH: It started out kind of like a goof or something.
Like somebody said, "I'm hungry," but we had no money.
And we all started laughing and I don't know Heather called, and we were just gonna take the food.
But something more happened, didn't it? When the guy got there, Peter and Chris jumped out from behind two cars and threw this blanket over his head.
And then he fell down the stairs.
STANTON: He fell.
Then what happened? We didn't know what to do.
I mean, the guy was hurt pretty bad.
That's when Peter started to get scared.
We all did.
And Peter said the guy saw his face.
Him and Chris.
And I don't know, everybody started freaking out, and it just happened.
(SIGHS) How do you feel about it now? Bad.
Really sorry.
But I know whatever I say is not gonna make it better.
Did you talk to your folks about it? My mother.
My father hasn't come to see me.
My mother says that he wants to, but doesn't know what to say.
Like she said, things have sort of been like that between us.
What do you want, Mitch? What do you want to happen? I want (SIGHS) I don't know.
I just wish it hadn't happened.
I mean, not just like right after my birthday like that.
I'm sorry.
I really am.
Okay, son.
You're sorry it happened? MITCH: Yes.
After your birthday like that? I'm just sorry it happened.
And nothing you can say will make it better, is that right? I guess not.
Not even the truth? What do you mean? I mean the truth about why you killed this man.
JUDGE: Overruled.
JACK: You were with Nick Simms inside the apartment when the blanket was thrown over Mr.
Ngai's head, is that right? Yes.
When you came outside, he was under the blanket? That's right.
So who was it who said he'd seen your faces? It was you, wasn't it? But that wasn't possible.
The fact is, it didn't matter to you whether he'd seen your faces or not.
You wanted to kill him all along.
JUDGE: I intend to instruct the jury that they should consider whether or not a sentence of death should be imposed, and whether or not a sentence of life imprisonment without parole should be imposed, and that they must be unanimous, beyond a reasonable doubt, as to either one.
And in the event they're not unanimous, Your Honor? I'll tell them if they fail to reach agreement then I will sentence the defendant to a term of imprisonment, with a minimum term of 20 or 25 years and a maximum term of life.
Your Honor, you tell those people there's a chance this boy might be back out on the streets some day, you play to their fears, to the worst in them.
Until the Court of Appeals tells me otherwise, my hands are tied here, Counselor.
McCoy, pursuant to the statute, you will deliver the first argument.
Eighteen years old, and already a cold-blooded murder to his name.
Because of his age defense counsel wants you to give him another chance.
But the fact that he abandoned his responsibilities to all of us so quickly doesn't mitigate what he's done.
It only makes it that much more frightening, because this teenager is the one who lives next door the one we see ourselves in.
His act betrays us all.
Somewhere that night, he ceased to be who we thought he was and instead became everything we fear.
But his is not the only life being measured in this courtroom.
Not the only face for you to remember here today.
Imagine, if you will, the last moments of the victim's life.
And when you do, imagine it not slipping away, but being beaten out of him.
Ngai was a slight man, a family man.
That night it was cold, raining.
Ngai sent his wife home to be with their children.
But he stayed to work for them.
And when he arrived to make a delivery, he was set upon, thrown down a flight of stairs.
A filthy blanket forced over his head to stifle his screams.
Badly beaten, he vomited underneath the blanket, he breathed in his own blood.
Yet, all the while, managed to plead for his life.
But rather than evoke any sense of mercy, Mr.
Ngai's desperation only provoked more viciousness in this defendant.
A savagery that silenced his pleas by crushing his skull with a rock.
As you think of this defendant, you may regret what might have been.
But judge him for who he is.
Forget what he looks like, and remember what he did.
So, finally we come to it.
Come to the decision not of who's so evil, so unredeemable we put them to death, but how young can we put them to death.
At what age do even liberals throw in the towel? Down where I come from, down in Texas, it's 17.
But up here, up here in the Big Apple y'all go and exercise your own blood lust to the ripe old age of 18.
Not old enough to drink but apparently old enough to execute.
So, how young can we do it? It all depends on what it is that makes a life worth saving.
Is it a mother's love? A kind act? If that's all it is, then all of us are worth saving.
But the law, the law doesn't require nearly that much.
You see, the law only requires that there be some question, some reasonable doubt, as to the value of the life the prosecutor is asking you to take.
Because it has to be definite, this willingness to put a boy to death.
And the only trouble with that, is that at 18, nothing is definite.
At 18, life is nothing but questions.
In fact, can there be any doubt, any at all, that 20, 25 years from now this boy, if allowed to live, will be a different person from the one sitting before you today.
Will he be a better person? I don't know.
But the fact is, neither do you.
Spare his life.
Spare us all.
JUDGE: I understand the jury has reached a verdict as to sentence.
We have, Your Honor.
I'll ask the defendant to rise.
Render your verdict, Mr.
"As to the first count of the indictment, Murder in the First Degree," "the sentence of this jury is death" MRS.
REGAN: No! No! (SOBBING) Please! Don't kill him! Don't kill him! No! Oh, my God! Stanton can probably drag this out for a long time.
He may not have as much time as he hopes.
Supreme Court's been consistently narrowing appeals for death row inmates.
With any luck, we'll be able to strap him to a gurney before he's 21.
God have mercy on our souls.