Law & Order (1990) s11e24 Episode Script

Deep Vote

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.
ZACK: Are you kidding me? If Babe Ruth was playing today, he'd be lucky to hit 200.
Two hundred home runs, that's what he'd hit.
(SCOFFS) The pitchers are stronger.
They're a bunch of bums.
They throw faster.
The baseballs today are like super balls.
Babe Ruth had a drinking problem, a hot dog problem.
Drunk and fat, he'd still hit 200 home runs.
I'll call 911.
MAN: Get some help! (CAR ALARM BLARING) (CROWD CHATTERING) Two vehicle event.
One injured, one dead.
Driver of the Volvo, Martha Krasner.
Would've been Hey, I'm sorry for the lady, but why call us? At first, EMT couldn't figure why she cashed in.
Compression chest wounds didn't look life-threatening.
She had a heart attack? Bullet.
Small entrance wound behind the left ear.
Hell of an exit under the hair.
BRISCOE: Well, that'll impair your driving skills.
Any additional rounds fired? Still checking for slugs and casings.
By the nature of the wound, they couldn't have gone far.
What about the second driver? Says Krasner drifted into the intersection.
Didn't see her coming.
Didn't see a shooter either.
Any luck with the huddled masses? Bag lady might've seen something.
Or she's just trying to get her 15 minutes.
I was on the corner back there by the donut shop, and I hear somebody yelling and honking their horn, so I look up 'cause I was sitting down, so I can't see so good.
Well, what did you see? This car coming out of the parking spot.
Which side of the street? It was the right side.
It was a gray car.
One of them big ones that kids are driving now.
SUV? Is that what? Who was doing the honking and the yelling? I I couldn't see.
I guess it was somebody who wanted it to hurry it up, or wanted the spot or something.
BRISCOE: Where was it parked? On the corner, right there.
And then, finally, it takes off, and then five seconds later, these other two cars, they crashed.
Did you see who was in the gray car? No, I I was, you know, working.
I'm sorry.
That's all right.
You did good.
You call me if you think of anything else.
I don't have any money.
So the guy in the car behind her wants the parking spot, so does Mrs.
Krasner, she flips him the bird.
He gets pissed, over-reacts, and pops her one.
Or she's honking at the guy in the SUV telling him to get a move on, and then he pops her.
Either way, the last thing she does in this life is put her foot on the gas.
The car keeps going, the shooter takes off.
You could spend your whole life fighting traffic in this town.
And then you die.
I don't understand how something like this can happen over a parking space.
We're very sorry for your loss.
Can you think of anyone who would have wanted to hurt your wife, Mr.
Krasner? I thought you said it was road rage.
That's what it looks like.
Martha had no enemies.
For God's sake.
We're just trying to touch all the bases.
This is one base you can skip, Detective.
Nobody was having any affairs or selling any drugs.
Please, just find her killer.
We're gonna do our best.
Tell me the truth.
Did she suffer? No, sir.
She never felt a thing.
The window was rolled up about three-quarters.
Bullet entered between the glass and the frame.
Eye level.
So she's yelling at the guy, she sees the gun, she tries to roll up the window as she hits the gas.
Or she's rolling the window down to yell back at him, but he shoots her first.
How many shots? Just the one.
No other slugs or casings.
One shot to the side of the head.
Guy was a hell of a marksman.
Or just lucky.
Well, not with this kind of bullet.
Found it under the passenger seat.
38 caliber 158 grain Black Talon.
Hollow point.
Double your damage, double your fun.
The lady picked the wrong guy to get into a traffic dispute with.
Yeah, that's why I don't even honk my horn anymore.
You guys got a visitor in Interview One.
A Mr.
Drives a gray SUV.
BRISCOE: How'd you find out we were looking for you? Uh, on TV.
That bag lady.
I was parked on the corner, like she said.
And you got into the car and It was a tight spot, you know, and I just got the car.
So I'm trying to pull out, and I guess I was going kind of slow or something.
Anyway, somebody's honking their horn, I look over, and Did you get out of the car? Why would I do that? Maybe you got mad.
Someone was giving you lip.
Nobody gave me any lip.
Look, I came in here of my own volition.
Did you see the cars behind you? There was a blue car.
It looked like it was waiting for the spot.
Was there a woman driving it? A strawberry blonde? I think so.
She the one that was killed? Any other cars? I think maybe there was a green car next to it.
What kind? I couldn't be sure.
Big? Small? Medium.
(SIGHS) Wait a second.
The lady was shot from her left.
Simon's in the spot on her right.
It doesn't make sense.
Her husband drives a green mid-size sedan.
Yeah, and the shooter really wanted her dead.
He used a dum-dum bullet.
Maybe we should round those bases again.
Look, Martha was killed by some lunatic.
BRISCOE: Where were you Monday morning, Mr.
Krasner? Teaching at PS 124, and I have 30 ten-year-olds who can vouch for me.
Where was your car? On the street.
Krasner, is it possible that your wife was seeing someone else? It was nothing like that.
We were just having disagreements, you know.
BRISCOE: Disagreements about what? Martha used to be a teacher, too.
She was terrific in the classroom.
Then her, uh, cousin Jeff convinced her to jump on the Internet bandwagon.
It was a disaster.
We're gonna need Jeff's full name and address.
They were family.
ED: We still need his name.
You guys never stop, do you? Do you know why your wife was in Tribeca? Maybe a meeting.
This woman bought her groceries at Key Food.
She bought her clothes at JCPenny's in a New Jersey outlet.
Martha Krasner, party animal.
City pension, IRAs.
The largest cash amount she withdrew in the last year was $400.
Well, she wrote a check last week for $7,000, payable to a Jeffrey Waites.
That's the dot-com cousin.
Yeah, the husband never mentioned seven grand changing hands.
Maybe he didn't know.
JEFF: It was a dynamite business plan.
Which was? Boilerplate websites for public schools.
Schools buy the websites, Martha sells the ad space.
There's 100,000 schools in this country.
Virgin territory.
What was your role in this dot-com? I gave her an office, got her some meetings, helped with the first round of financing, that sort of thing.
BRISCOE: Sounds idyllic Why the split? I had a lot of contacts in the candy business.
They wanted to run ads on Martha's websites.
So what was the problem? Martha didn't think candy products were appropriate for school websites.
How come two weeks ago she paid you $7,000? Compensation for the connections I threw her way.
And, uh, who gets the rights to this dynamite business plan now that Martha's dead? Guys, I don't need to shoot people to get rich.
I'm already rich.
ED: Then how come you hit her up for seven grand? It was business.
Did you, uh, ever throw Martha any connections downtown in Tribeca? That's where she was killed.
Actually, I hooked her up with a firm uptown, on 55th and Madison, that morning.
ED: What's the name of this firm? Reynolds Advertising.
Martha Krasner? Yeah, Jeff Waites' cousin.
I felt bad about blowing her off.
Something came up, and I had to babysit this idiot client.
So you didn't see her? Just for a second, to apologize.
What's this about, Detectives? Someone killed Mrs.
Krasner, sir.
You're kidding.
I wish we were.
You know where she went when she left? Like I said, I was dealing with this crisis.
She asked to borrow my phone.
Her cell wasn't working or something.
ED: Do you know who she called? Sorry.
ED: What time was this? About 9:30.
We can pull the records from the phone company.
Actually, I have them all on my PC.
We monitor the phones for personal calls.
I met Martha at an IT conference in Seattle.
Her sites would have been ideal for advertising our trading cards.
I'm so sorry to hear Ms.
Snowden, Martha called you yesterday morning, about 9:30? She said a client canceled on her, did I have time for a cup of coffee? And did you? I told her to park in my space downstairs.
ED: In the garage? It was a nice morning I walked to the office.
I figured why should she pay Was that wrong? Mrs.
Krasner was shot when she was driving away from your building.
Did you tell anybody else that she was going to be stopping by? No.
It was totally last minute.
Unless our shooter was psychic, he couldn't have known that she was gonna be in that garage.
Maybe he tailed her.
Or it was road rage after all.
Fancy joint like this, you think the garage has security cams? PEREZ: Okay, here's your Volvo.
There's nobody tailing her.
Can I see? Lennie, what's Krasner's plate number? MST 592.
That's not our Volvo.
BRISCOE: Our Volvo? That's not our lady.
All right, here comes Jane Doe.
And two minutes later, there's our DOA Martha Krasner.
Two identical cars, two redheads.
On the theory that the killer was waiting for Jane Doe, Reina's got the running DMV plates on every car that entered that morning.
Especially mid-sized green sedans.
Any ID on the woman who got away? DMV's checking that, too.
Well, since nobody could've known Krasner was in the building, we're thinking the shooter was waiting for the Jane Doe, screwed up, and nailed Krasner by mistake.
That's a real big oops.
And we're sure he didn't follow Jane Doe in? There's nothing on the tape.
We figure he was already inside.
VAN BUREN: Why not do her inside? If we find him, we'll ask him.
Well, what about when Krasner drove out? Anyone follow her? There's no security cameras on the exit ramp.
Lieutenant, '92 Buick Skylark, green, entered the garage at 9:20.
ED: We got film on the driver? Face is turned away from the camera.
VAN BUREN: Maybe on purpose.
Who's the owner? Guy named Mendel.
Reported it stolen three days ago.
Well, that's convenient.
Second time this year.
Let's go.
MENDEL: Nice they send you all the way from Manhattan.
That where they found it? Yeah, it was seen there two days ago.
What do you mean, seen? Seen by who? Why don't you just start by telling us where it was stolen from? The synagogue parking lot, if you can imagine.
On Shabbes, yet.
Yeah, Rabbi, this is the second time you've reported the car stolen.
The other time doesn't matter.
I got it back.
ED: We figured as much.
But there's no police record of the recovery.
We think your car may have been involved in a homicide.
Now, if you have any idea who might have stolen it, please tell us.
Last time, it was my nephew David, my sister's youngest.
He borrowed it, he brought it back.
No problem.
(SPEAKING YIDDISH) So maybe he borrowed it again? He's in New Mexico.
He's on one of those, you know, uh, like a kibbutz.
Commune? Right.
Detective Green.
I'll tell you the truth.
I liked him better when he was stealing cars.
I got a nephew just like that.
All right.
Lennie, Jane Doe's got a name.
Thanks for your time, Rabbi.
Her name's Kate Pierce Reina gave me her work address.
How do you tell someone somebody wants them dead? Quickly? KATE: A bullet to the head, huh? I read about it, but I don't think she really looks like me.
Well, still, from a distance.
Garage was dark.
You have the same car, same height, same weight, hair color.
Must be 10,000 woman in New York fit that description.
We wouldn't be here if we weren't concerned.
Do you park in that garage on a regular basis? I work out in the second floor gym every morning.
Why? Predictable movements.
Fits what? ED: The theory that the killer was waiting for you.
Can you think of anybody who might want to harm you, Ms.
Pierce? No, I never really thought about it.
You married? My last boyfriend broke up with me.
And if anybody's gonna kill anybody, I'm gonna kill him.
"Crooked Cops: Exception Or The Rule?" Is this typical of your work? I'm an investigative journalist.
Pissed anybody off lately? If I'm doing my job right.
Pierce, we really could use your help here.
Believe me, I get it, Detective.
It's just, what can I do? I can't just turn over my files.
Still, you might want to consider it, given that somebody may be trying to harm you.
I covered the Taliban in Afghanistan without a veil.
No one is questioning your courage.
I can give you clippings, anything that's public record, but that's as far as I can go.
We'll need everything from the last three months.
Now, uh, do me a favor.
Sit facing the door.
This is a profile of the Gucci Family.
"Warfare Among the Properly Attired.
" Guns don't kill people, handbags do.
Here's another one.
"Battle of the Ballots.
State Senate Race on Hold.
" The election's over.
Here's one, a couple of weeks ago.
"Caputo Crime Family Moves in on Public Housing.
" Windows.
Windows? Replacement units for the Housing Authority.
The Caputos got a lock on the market.
ED: This is newsworthy? We're talking 30,000 windows per year, hundred bucks a pop, pure profit.
Three million bucks? I'd kill somebody for that.
How'd the Caputos corner this gold mine? The usual.
A little shmear, a little kneecapping.
We just turned in the Organized Task Force investigation.
Between you and me, U.
Attorney's about to hand down some major indictments.
Any chance that Kate Pierce sparking the investigation pissed off the Caputos? Wouldn't take much.
Guys, got a hit on the Rabbi's car.
Let me guess.
Not New Mexico.
Driver ran a stop light.
Keep me posted, this connects to the Caputos.
You got it.
We found gunshot residue on the front seat of the Skylark, Mark.
I didn't I didn't shoot anybody, I swear.
We also have a video of you driving into the garage where the lady was shot.
What garage? What lady? How old are you? Seventeen.
That's good.
That's good for you, because that means that the D.
can't touch you.
The Supreme Court says minors can't be held legally responsible if they cooperate with the authorities.
If you cooperate.
I only got the car yesterday.
BRISCOE: Where? I'll get in trouble.
Mark, look around you.
You're already in trouble.
I bought the car off a guy I know.
Three hundred bucks.
Give us a name.
(SIGHS) Jimmy Coleman.
ED: Where'd he get it? Place he works.
Junkyard up in the Bronx.
Look, will you tell him that you tortured me or something to get me to talk? Yeah, rubber hoses.
BRISCOE: Jimmy Coleman? Who wants to know? Consumer Reports.
ED: We're looking for a '92 green Buick Skylark.
I can't help you.
Try again, and ask yourself if we'd be here if we didn't already know something.
I sold it.
It's not a crime, is it? BRISCOE: Only if it wasn't yours.
ED: How'd you come by the car, Jimmy? Hey, man, if you don't tell us, we're gonna have to assume you stole it.
You know, I'm guessing that a guy in your business has at least a couple of priors.
That three strikes sentence can be brutal.
Hold on, hold on.
Some guy brought it by.
Told me to put it in the crusher.
Some guy? I never saw him before.
He gave me two C-notes.
Told me to mash it and trash it.
Didn't make any sense.
BRISCOE: You still got the bills he gave you? (GRUNTS) ED: Martin Blatt.
Armed robbery, assault, burg two.
Should I go on? We got your prints from one of the hundreds you gave to the junkyard dude up in the Bronx.
Guy's an idiot, but he's got real good eyesight.
He picked you right out of this six-pack.
I never liked that picture.
Oh, yeah? You prefer the one from the garage where you waited for that lady? Is this the part where I slip up and confess? ED: You might as well.
We found gunpowder residue in the Skylark.
I'm strictly a Ford man myself.
You might want to watch your back, Marty.
The Caputos can't be real happy with you right now.
I don't know what you're talking about.
You did the wrong broad, genius.
Hitter like you, that can't be good for your rep.
You better start talking, Blatt.
BRISCOE: Who hired you? Elvis.
Yeah, well, you're gonna be joining The King pretty soon.
(KNOCKING ON DOOR) We didn't turn up any weapons in Mr.
Blatt's apartment, but we did find a cute little hollow space in a VCR that contained a box of .
38 caliber, Black Talons.
Usable prints, too.
Thought you'd want to know.
(DOOR CLOSING) Have a short life, bro.
What's in it for me? How about three hots and a cot instead of a gurney? The lady wasn't Pierce, huh? Housewife.
Go figure.
Who wanted the reporter dead, Marty, and why? I want protection in the joint.
We'll take care of the Caputos.
The Caputos? What've they got to do with this? This isn't about the windows? What kind of windows? Guy that gave me the button said it had something to do with an election.
What election? I don't vote.
The shooter claims the hit had nothing to do with family business.
People say politicians play for keeps.
I doubt they envisioned anything like this.
Who exactly did Blatt say gave him the contract? Small-time wise guy named Albert Bonatto.
No major crime family affiliation.
And what was Bonatto's connection to all this? Well, Blatt claims he doesn't know.
Just that Bonatto wanted this reporter out of the picture.
She's writing an article about some state senate race.
What are we doing to pick him up? Well, I've got people sitting on his house, places he normally frequents.
Let me see if I can get this reporter to give me any more.
CARMICHAEL: So if what this shooter is saying is true, this Bonatto is somehow connected to your story.
Who is he? Convicted felon.
Not previously in the muscle end of things.
(KETTLE HISSING) I don't recognize him.
Well, what can you tell me about the election story you were working on? It was about the 63rd District State Senate race and some irregular absentee ballots.
Anne Benton's district.
Benton was reelected by less than 200 votes.
Then they discovered almost 400 overseas ballots had been altered.
Altered in what way? Official at the Election Board was adding registration numbers to the ballots after they'd been received.
What happened? Judge tossed them out.
Well, doesn't sound like much of a motive for murder.
There was something else.
I'm sorry, I can't answer that.
Even if your life is in danger? I'm not a hero, Ms.
But when you take a job like this, it comes with certain risks.
Things a journalist has to put above her own safety.
Pierce I promise I'll be careful.
Change my schedule.
But if I tell you what you want to know, I'd be revealing information I have no right to reveal.
And there's no way I can do that.
Any word on Bonatto? Nothing so far.
And the reporter? She's blacked out so much of her notes it's hard to put anything together.
Is she protecting her life or her story? Well, either way, she says it goes with the territory.
And she's made it perfectly clear she's not about to breach any journalistic confidences in order to help us out.
Well, there's no law that says we can't speak to the same people she spoke to.
As long as I get the byline when the story breaks.
FEINBERG: Board of Elections have been doing this for over 100 years.
The only time we get headlines is when there's a screwup.
A city worker overworked and under-appreciated.
I can relate.
Now, Kate Pierce interviewed you about the election three times.
You tell me what you told her, I go away.
That's what she said.
Pierce was looking into irregularities in the absentee ballots in the 63rd District.
The added registration numbers.
Anything to it? My opinion? Simple honest mistake.
But she came to see you twice after her article came out.
She wasn't satisfied? A reporter's questions might be optional, Commissioner.
All due respect, mine aren't.
She wanted to know if any other voting irregularities could have contributed to Anne Benton being reelected.
What other irregularities? We had some voting machines break down in Benton's district.
Some? You have to understand, these voting machines are practically antiques.
How many machines? Twelve.
Is that a lot? It is when they happen to be in one polling place.
And you told all this to Kate Pierce? Didn't have to.
She was already onto it.
What happens when the machines go down? Ordinarily, we'd cannibalize parts from other machines.
It's a little different when it happens on election day.
We use emergency paper ballots.
And who's in charge of those machines? I got no idea what went wrong.
Our technician says someone weakened the rivets at the back.
That's why the levers broke.
CARMICHAEL: On all 12 machines.
Who asked you to rig those machines? We know you were the last mechanic to work on them.
JACK: A woman's been killed, Mr.
If you don't help us, you'll be held responsible for your part in the death.
There's a guy I know from the union.
Al Bonatto.
He asked me if could mess with some of the machines in Benton's district.
Did he say why? Just that he wanted them to go down at this one polling place.
But nothing about any woman.
So when the machines break down, the voters are given paper ballots.
Following procedures set forth in the election law.
And we think these breakdowns have something to do with this woman's murder? Kate Pierce was the real target.
Martha Krasner just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
On the theory Bonatto was not working for himself, we went back to try to find a connection between him and one of the two candidates.
State Senators are allowed to maintain private law practices while they serve in office.
Anne Benton was once Al Bonatto's lawyer.
A lowlife like that and a senator from the rainbow coalition.
And nobody has been able to find Bonatto since the shooting.
I think we should have a conversation with Senator Benton.
Anne Benton was one of the people who lobbied for my appointment with Rudy.
Are we playing favorites? Just speak softly and carry a big subpoena.
I've never made a secret of my relationship with Albert Bonatto, however I no longer represent the man.
I haven't in years.
When was the last time you spoke to him? I can't really say.
If you could possibly pinpoint it a little better than that, Senator, we'd appreciate it.
Maybe your Chief of Staff could check your records.
Coulter? I'll check the Senator's appointment calendar.
I'm still not clear what exactly your concern here is.
At this point, all we can really say is that Mr.
Bonatto may be involved in a murder.
Murder? That's not the Al Bonatto I was familiar with.
Two felony convictions for taking kickbacks from city union officials.
There's a variety of fraud allegations.
May I ask how the Senator's name came up? Only by way of her connection to Mr.
Which I've already stated is a matter of public record.
Beyond that, I'm afraid attorney-client privilege kicks in.
But if there's any other assistance I could provide, I would be happy to do so.
Now, Mr.
McCoy, Ms.
Carmichael, if you'll excuse us, the Senator has a committee meeting in about five minutes.
BENTON: You'll give my regards to Nora.
(DOOR OPENING) Never admitted anything, never denied anything.
The perfect politician.
It's too much of a coincidence, her having been Bonatto's lawyer.
Especially with the mechanic tying Bonatto to those voting machines.
We can haul her before a Grand Jury, ask her about Bonatto under oath.
But if Benton's involved, she'll take the Fifth, and there's no way Nora's going to give her immunity until she knows the full extent of her participation.
When I went to see that Commissioner at the Board of Elections, I used Pierce's notes as a roadmap.
I talked to who she talked to.
How'd she know where to go? She had a source.
You're asking me to force a reporter to identify a source? A source who may have information about a cold-blooded murder, and whose life may very well be in jeopardy.
Your Honor, a reporter has to know that everything she sees, everything she hears, is sacrosanct.
Everything? What if a reporter knew of a terrorist plot? JUDGE: But doesn't New York's shield law bar the People from asking for a source's identity? JACK: The protection isn't absolute.
Knight-Ridder v.
In that case, the Court of Appeals noted the limitations of journalistic privilege.
A journalist was forced to turn over a videotape of a murderer's confession.
The tape itself was hard evidence.
JUDGE: He makes a point.
The distinction between a killer's statement and the name of a source sounds pretty real to me.
I talked to this person.
They don't want their name revealed, and I won't betray that.
JUDGE: There's the hitch, McCoy.
If I order disclosure, it's only going to result in refusal by Ms.
Pierce, a contempt citation, and an appeal.
The motion to quash disclosure in the identity of Ms.
Pierce's source is granted.
CARMICHAEL: I wonder how much Pierce really told her source about the danger they're in with Bonatto still on the loose.
She's going to end up protecting this guy right into his grave.
Let's assume Anne Benton's behind the scheme to rig the machines.
What's she accomplish? You mean, other than proving women can be as ruthless as men when it comes to seeking office? Her margin of victory was under 200.
Every vote made a difference.
Well, paper ballots would have meant longer lines.
Maybe voters go home, and Benton's opponent was carrying that neighborhood two-to-one.
Yeah, looks like her strategy worked.
Official tally, Board of Elections.
Almost 2,000 fewer votes were cast at that polling place than in the last election.
Not according to the actual voter sign-in books.
The vote was up.
If that's right, about 2,000 votes are missing.
How many votes are we talking about? The polling place was going heavily in favor of Benton's opponent.
So then these missing ballots were the key to her reelection.
Can we link her to the man who rigged the machines? Not directly.
Where are these ballots now? According to Mr.
Feinberg of the Board of Elections, they never arrived, so they don't exist.
Now you see them, now you don't.
Briscoe and Green just picked up Albert Bonatto.
Well, let's see if he's registered.
CARMICHAEL: Blatt fingered you.
Explains why nobody's seen the little weasel.
We've seen him, Mr.
He killed a girl, and you hired him.
And we've got Joey Eckert, the mechanic who rigged the machines for you.
So now we'd like to know what you have.
I think we all know what he has.
Anne Benton.
Anne was what you'd call a motivating factor.
She ordered the hit? Took a little convincing.
But I always said Annie's a pragmatist.
People will forgive a politician almost anything.
Fixing an election isn't one of them.
What are we looking at? In exchange for his testimony, 20-to-life.
Not exactly an offer I couldn't refuse.
What if I sweeten the pot? With what? All present and accounted for? Abbie said four boxes, we got four boxes.
Lot of voters got ripped off.
So what's new? And Ms.
Benton goes to Albany instead of her opponent.
Well, maybe they'll find some better accommodations for her upstate.
Session's over, Senator.
Have you lost your mind? Please stand up, ma'am.
Anne Benton, you're under arrest for the murder of Martha Krasner.
I'll call your husband.
Call my lawyer.
ED: You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say "Docket ending 261, People v.
Anne Benton.
"Charges are Murder in the Second Degree, "Conspiracy in the First Degree.
" ls the defendant prepared to enter a plea? Not guilty, Your Honor.
JUDGE: Are the People requesting bail? Given the fact that Ms.
Benton has been implicated in a murder-for-hire, the People would request bail in the amount of LINDE: This is absurd.
Senator Benton is only implicated in this awful crime by a reputed organized crime figure, a confessed killer, and a two-time felon.
There isn't a scintilla of direct evidence tying my client to any of these charges.
Carmichael, are the People going forward with anything more than the word of this alleged accomplice? Yes, Your Honor.
The People are in possession of certain missing ballot boxes which we maintain corroborate Mr.
Bonatto's statements.
This prosecution is nothing but a political witch hunt.
An effort by my client's political enemies to try to do in court what they were unable to achieve at the polls.
In any event, Senator Benton hardly seems a flight risk, unless the People consider Albany to be too far outside its jurisdiction.
The defendant is released without bail.
JACK: Abbie.
I just saw Benton and her lawyer.
The Judge let her walk.
She's got a lot of juice in this courthouse.
Makes you want to play in a bigger arena.
What? I've had another job offer, Jack.
Didn't want to spring it on you in the middle of a case like this, but they need an answer in the next day or so.
I guess you're thinking about taking it.
It's the U.
Attorney's Office, Southern District.
The bigger arena.
They're putting together a task force on major crimes.
When would you start? As soon as this case is over.
(EXCLAIMS) But I would be right next door, so if there are any problems with any of my cases I don't have to tell you how much you'll be missed.
No, you don't have to tell me that.
But I'd still like hearing it.
LINDE: The Senator rigged the election, then tried to kill a reporter to cover it up? You've got the gist of it.
Well, by that reasoning she'd have to eliminate half a dozen newspeople.
CARMICHAEL: Only Kate Pierce had a source.
And the name of this source? That's what I thought.
Doesn't change Albert Bonatto's testimony.
LINDE: That the Senator did what? Sabotaged some voting machines? Those machines were due for the scrap heap during the Carter administration.
Those machines were inspected and declared operational.
That is, until a mechanic was asked by Mr.
Bonatto to rig them to fail.
What mechanic? I never met the man.
The beauty of a conspiracy charge, Senator, is one hand doesn't have to know what the other's doing.
LINDE: People's theory, if I grasp it, is that the Senator arranged to steal votes in a neighborhood that was going heavily against her.
It's not complicated, Counselor.
Flaw in your theory.
Those missing votes would have gone our way.
BENTON: As I understand it, the machines didn't go down until afternoon, which means that the paper ballots, the ones that got lost, were from people coming home from work, people who have jobs.
They're my core constituency.
So you see, the Senator had no reason to tamper with the machines, and as such certainly no reason to kill the reporter.
Other than egg on my face, what am I left with? Benton's theory about carrying that neighborhood is absurd.
It may be.
But at least it's supported by an official election result.
What is our theory supported by? A witness.
Al Bonatto's been convicted of two felonies.
He's a member of the mob, for God's sake, in addition to which he's testifying pursuant to a plea bargain.
Nora, if we shied away every time a defense attorney cross-examined one of our witnesses about a plea bargain, we'd never bring a case.
What about the fact that Pierce writes mob stories? Blaming Benton could be a Bonatto smoke screen.
Covering his own ass for family business that has nothing to do with the election.
You don't believe that.
It doesn't matter what I believe.
The question is, what's a jury going to believe when Benton's lawyer stands up and says she had no motive to commit the murder because she had no motive to steal the ballots.
There's not a single exit poll that can support that.
Exit polls aren't evidence.
Without a source, we've got nothing.
We have the ballots.
We count them, they go against Benton, we have our motive.
LINDE: Count the ballots? That's outrageous.
What is this, an election or a criminal action? Counsel, I'm going to construe your outrage as a motion to suppress.
But he has a point, Mr.
Not if his client is going to hide behind those uncounted ballots to get away with murder.
The bottom line is, the People can't make out chain of custody on those ballots.
Any count would be hopelessly tainted.
As I understand it, Mr.
Bonatto had the ballots in his possession? Yes, Your Honor, and he's prepared to testify they were in his social club under lock and key.
He also gonna tell us how he stole them? Furthermore, Judge, the People have provided the court with an affidavit indicating that the security tape on those ballot boxes is intact.
Which doesn't mean the ballots themselves remain in their original condition.
They've been jostled, transported These are paper ballots marked with a pencil.
How could jostling possibly affect anything? You can argue whatever you like to the jury about who killed Mrs.
Krasner, but your motion is denied.
Then I insist on being part of any process that involves counting these ballots.
Counselor, I'm not going to have a replay of recent shenanigans.
Not in New York.
Not in a murder case.
You can be present, but that's it.
Tell the Board of Elections to start counting.
WOMAN: Come on, that's clearly a yes.
MAN: I counted those already.
Let me see that.
I say yes.
MAN: Put it in that pile.
He circled the name, he didn't check the box.
The voter's intention is clear.
And so are the rules.
No extraneous markings.
Put it with the maybes.
JACK: Been going on like that all night? Bi-partisanship at its best.
Even without the maybes, the vote's running roughly 70% against Benton.
This holds up, we have our motive for Martha Krasner's murder.
John J.
McCoy? Right here.
Sir, this is a temporary restraining order from the Appellate Division ordering you and the Board of Elections to immediately halt the counting of these ballots, and for you to appear tomorrow morning, 10:00 a.
How the hell did they manage that? They had help.
Committee to Reelect Senator Benton, Voters Caucus of New York, the Association for Electoral Justice.
It goes on.
JACK: Just like the election.
LINDE: In conclusion, we ask a halt to this so-called count on the grounds that the District Attorney's Office cannot prove the bona fides of these ballots.
That they are, in fact, in their original condition.
Linde, as I understand it, these ballots have been missing for over three weeks? That's correct, Your Honor.
And they were in the possession of a reputed organized crime figure? Again, that's correct, Your Honor.
Well, security tape or not, on these facts alone, it's clear to me they have no place in a criminal trial.
JUDGE 2: Thank you, Mr.
With all due respect, I think this court is losing sight of the purpose of this count.
Let me be clear.
The People have no interest whatsoever in the outcome of this election except as it pertains to this defendant's motive to commit a homicide.
JUDGE 2: Still, regardless of your reasons, you're talking about possibly overturning a decision by the voters of this state.
I'm sorry, but as I understand it, the outcome of this count will be strictly limited to the criminal trial.
That's correct, Your Honor.
Then I fail to see the harm in allowing the count to continue.
I think it's naive to believe this outcome will be limited to the trial.
The fact is, any result which differs from the official election is certain cause for confusion.
JACK: The people learn the truth.
I don't see how that constitutes harm.
Well, how is your case without this evidence, Mr.
McCoy? This evidence is vital to the People's case, Your Honor.
And right there is another concern.
Even with the ballots counted, your case is not a strong one.
What happens when we turn this election on its ear and you lose? I find this court's reluctance difficult to fathom.
And any willingness to let a killer go free, to protect a politician from the truth, is a betrayal of the most basic principles of law.
Thank you, Mr.
This court will recess briefly.
None are more conscious of the limits of the judiciary than this court.
Now, that being said, when contending parties invoke the legal process, it becomes our unsought responsibility to resolve the issues confronting us.
The court, with two dissents, grants the injunction sought by the Petitioner.
The ballots will not be counted.
Without the ballots the case against Benton just becomes her word against Bonatto's again.
A fact that couldn't possibly have eluded the court.
The vote went right down party lines, three to two.
I never thought I'd see the day when a court let politics prevent a murder prosecution.
They're all politicians.
Just some of them wear robes.
The irony is, Bonatto and Blatt end up serving 15-to-life.
Anne Benton gets a second term.
Well, they can always ask Benton to help them apply for a pardon.
It's all nonsense.
There's no legal basis for this decision.
Don't kid yourself.
The same thing will happen on appeal.
It's over, Jack.
We're fresh out of evidence.
Are we? LEWIN: What are you saying? Mr.
They're going to let her go.
I wish I could help you.
We both know you can.
I already told you, my source won't come forward.
Then give me a name.
I can compel the testimony.
Don't you understand? The people who talk to me have to believe that their identities will be protected.
It's the only way I can do my job.
I doubt a journalist's commitment to her professional obligations will be much comfort to Martha Krasner's family.
That isn't fair, and you know it.
This woman's life was taken because someone confused her for you, and now you're refusing to give me information that would prevent her killer from going free.
What's fair about that? And when I break my confidence, when I violate his decision not come forward, what do I tell my source, Mr.
McCoy? Tell him Martha Krasner never had a chance to decide whether to become part of the story.
CLERK: Raise your right hand.
Sir, do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in the matter in which you are about to testify? MAN: I do.
State your name and occupation for the record, sir.
Matthew Coulter, Chairman, Committee to Reelect Senator Anne Benton.
Coulter, do you know a man named Albert Bonatto? I do.
JACK: Do you also know Anne Benton? Yes.
I do.