Law & Order (1990) s12e02 Episode Script

Armed Forces

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.
Table 10 asked for medium rare.
These are still grazing.
And the bar's out of wine glasses! I get glasses.
Now! Learn how to do your job or you're fired! Sorry.
Sweep it up and get it out of here.
All right, sarge, where's the guest of honor? Over here.
No wallet, no ID.
ED: Uh Stabbing.
That's a hell of a chest wound.
Blood still hasn't tightened up.
Can't be more than an hour old.
Oh, this guy's hands are filthy.
Yeah, well, I think personal hygiene's the least of his problems.
Let's check the dumpsters, and the sewers.
See if we can turn up a weapon.
Who found him? Dishwasher.
You, come here.
I can go back to job now? Yeah.
Let me ask you a few questions first.
Did you notice anybody hanging around here earlier this evening? Sorry? Can we get an interpreter over here? All right.
Wait over there.
Over there! ED: Hey, man, take it easy.
Why can't these people learn some English? And you think yelling is gonna help the situation? All right, sarge, do me a favor, you want to canvass a couple of the buildings over there.
When's this guy gonna learn he's the minority in this city.
The shrinking minority at that.
(CAMERA CLICKING) RODGERS: Your John Doe's awhile male, around 50, 55 on the outside, about 75 under the hood.
Johnny didn't take his vitamins? Steatosis of the liver, enlarged spleen, black pigments on the lungs.
This guy drank, smoked, you name it.
You can't make that chest wound his fault.
Did he put up any kind of a fight? Yeah, there's bruising around his neck and wrists.
What about his hands? We noticed they were stained.
Shoe polish.
Found it under the nails and on his clothes.
Guess we know what he did for a living.
Detective Briscoe.
Shine 'em up for court? No.
We're working a case, Ralph.
Uh-oh, what did I do? No, we got some information that this guy might be in your line of work.
Figured since he was in the area, you'd recognize him.
This guy got no stand around here.
You're sure? That's probably not his best side.
Well, I'm sure.
How about freelance? I heard about a guy over at Foley Square.
Takes away some of my federal clientèle.
Well, if this is the guy, your business is about to pick up.
Yeah, that's him.
What the hell happened? He got stabbed.
We found him last night over in Tribeca.
So what can you tell us about him? He comes around here most everyday.
He seemed a little EDP to me.
Emotionally disturbed, like, he had enemies? Like the type of guy you ask how it's going and you get a 20-minute answer.
Some of the people that work over in the courthouse complained a few times.
So what'd you do? Moved him away from the building.
He didn't seem too dangerous and he had a license on him.
Where'd you move him to? Across from the deli on the corner.
His name was Joe.
It's too bad.
You wouldn't happen to know his last name? Nah.
I was wondering where he was this morning.
He usually comes in by 8:00.
Comes in? Yeah.
I let him keep his shine box here.
Saves him the trouble of lugging it back and forth.
Back and forth from where? Queens, I think.
You mind if we take a look at the box? I got no use for it.
That was very nice of you to let him keep it here.
I had a soft spot for the guy.
Alcohol problems.
I know what that's like.
I tried to tell him it's never too late.
I guess he didn't take your advice to heart, huh? These look new.
Pretty strong prescription.
"Morgenthal Frederics Optical.
" Folly silver, spring loaded hinges.
I love these frames.
They were just introduced this season.
They sound expensive.
(SCOFFS) Budget doesn't fit with our guy.
Uh, is there any way you can tell who bought that pair? There are two possibilities.
My wife picked them out.
She's convinced I lost them on purpose.
When did you lose them? Must have been Tuesday.
I was coming back from court, stopped off for a shine.
I must have put them down.
I saw this man the day he died then didn't I? I take it you didn't know his name.
He just shined my shoes.
But I do remember him telling me that he'd just been mugged.
He still had the bruises.
ED: Did he say by who? He said a gang of Chinese kids jumped him, that he'd been laid up for awhile.
Guess they thought he should've stayed home permanently.
We got an ID on this guy yet? Joe from Queens.
His prints aren't in the system.
Beat cop thinks he might've been an EDP.
Was there a collar? No, relocated him.
Apparently the guy showed him a vendor's license.
Cordova's getting a list from Consumer Affairs, see how many "Joes" there are.
What about missing persons? Nothing.
My feeling is whatever family this guy had, gave up on him a long time ago.
Autopsy report looks like he gave up on himself.
We did find a customer who says he mentioned being mugged recently by some Asian kids.
So we make this a robbery by one of the Chinatown gangs? Asian gangs usually pick on their own, on their own turf.
But it could have been one of those initiation things.
While Cordova's working the vendor's license, it might be worth checking back in the neighborhood on that gang theory.
The guy at the deli told me what happened.
Any ideas who killed him? Hey, any gang kids ever come over here to buy booze? I always check ID.
Hey, we're not after your license, pal.
We just want some information.
Yeah, we were just thinking that some restless youths from Chinatown might've drifted over this way.
They're a pain in the ass.
What are you talking about? Take a look.
The Mott Street Ghost Shadows.
Couple of stores down the block got the same treatment.
I stopped scrubbin' it off about a year ago.
Any other problems besides them tagging your gate? They hassle the customers once in awhile.
And this girl who used to work register for me.
One night when she got off, they pulled a knife on her.
Any arrest made? Tell you the truth, I don't think she reported it.
Carla was pretty shaken up, decided she couldn't work here anymore.
There were three guys.
One of 'em pulled a knife and took my money.
I just got on the train and came home.
Why didn't you go to the police? Well, they followed me from work.
The last thing I needed was them coming after me.
Miss Burns, if everybody takes that attitude, how are we ever gonna catch them? We're not asking you to file charges against them.
We just want you to help us identify who they are.
What if I have to go to court or something? All you have to do is look at a mug book.
Come on, we'll even buy you lunch.
They're all starting to look the same.
I didn't mean it like that.
There's just so many, it's hard to Can I take a break? Sure.
Why don't you try and relax a little bit.
You want a soda or something? I'm okay.
Hey, any of these guys have a history of rob twos? With the Ghost Shadows, that falls into the category of recreational activity.
This is the one with the knife.
He had a scar like this through his eyebrow.
Kenny Eng.
He's a Ghost Shadow? Two years.
Are you sure he's the one? Positive.
ED: Wanted for robbery and assault.
When's the last time you went out for him? Not for a few weeks.
But if you really like him for this homicide, I can cash in a chip with one of my Cl's.
On my mother, man, I did not do this.
Whoa! On his mother, Ed.
I guess we gotta let him go.
What about the girl in the liquor store, Kenny? We got a witness who says that this guy told him that he took a beating from some Asian kids.
Do I look Asian to you? If you run in this neighborhood, there's no way you don't know this guy.
ED: You're going down for something, Mr.
How big a package is up to you.
Okay, so maybe I've seen him.
Seen him or killed him? I didn't mess with that guy.
Oh, 'cause you got respect for people.
No, 'cause he was bugging.
One time he sees some of my boys taggin' a van, he comes right at them, man.
They had to give him a beat down.
Three or four guys against one old drunk.
Ain't nothin', man.
That dude could throw down.
Came at them like a crazy man.
Jury's gonna love this, Kenny.
I'm tellin' you, man, we didn't mess with him after that.
Besides, I think he was connected.
BRISCOE: Connected to what? Couple of suits he was talkin' to.
ED: You mean his customers.
Ain't no one getting a shine I saw, man.
They started conversatin and what not, shoe shine man got in their car.
When was this? I'd have to check my palm pilot.
Okay, it was Tuesday.
ED: Did you see the ride? Phat Benz.
Four door sedan.
What color? Dark blue.
What'd these people look like? One I got a good look at was a white guy.
Old, like him.
A little fatter.
Other guy I couldn't get a good look at 'cause he was on the other side of the car.
You best hope this checks out.
Cops, man.
You're always blaming Asians for everything.
Do we believe this story about the Mercedes? Well, Eng refused to name any associates, so we can't confirm it.
It seems like if he's gonna make up a story he should make up something a little bit more plausible.
All right, let's process him on the old robbery warrant.
Let him sweat it while we check out the murder.
The vendor list from Consumer Affairs.
Sixteen "Joe"s or "Joseph"s, none of them in Foley Square.
But there was a permit issued to a Joseph Eastman of Sutter Avenue in Ozone Park.
That's in Queens, that's near JFK.
Actually, he could've used it anywhere in the city.
Why, he a friend of Rudy's? Guy had an exemption.
He was a war veteran.
He was behind a month in his rent.
Probably spent it all on housekeepers.
Or he drank and smoked it all away.
Does he have a whole lot of people coming in and out? No family, no friends, no nothing.
The man preferred to be lonely.
I didn't even see a phone.
Who he gonna call? Hey, Ed.
From H.
Eastman, Patchogue, New York.
That came almost a month ago.
I put it inside for him myself.
He never opened it.
Family photos.
Army dogtags.
Purple Heart.
And a Bronze Star.
Is that the real McCoy? "For meritorious or heroic achievement, Joseph Eastman.
" Shoe shine Joe was a war hero.
Joey and I spoke about twice a year.
You know, happy holidays, things like that.
BRISCOE: You were the only family he had? Yes.
My brother and his wife died in an auto accident long time back.
But his parents gettin' killed just about broke his spirit.
How about lately? Do you know if he was in any kind of trouble? Like I said, we weren't that close.
What about that package you sent him? Yeah, that surprised me, too.
See, Joey never liked talking about his tour of duty.
Some guys you know, they'll go on forever.
Not Joey.
I know the type.
And he could've, believe you me.
My nephew was awarded the Bronze Star.
Yeah, we saw it.
Anyway, he calls me one day about a month ago, out of the blue, tells me to send him all his stuff.
After all these years.
Did he say why? I guess him being sick had somethin' to do with it.
You see, last October Joey got diagnosed with cancer.
Said a doc at the VA gave him a year tops.
Joseph Eastman was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, October 18th.
Who was the treating physician? According to the computer, Mr.
Eastman never appeared for his referral to Oncology.
And it looks like someone from Psych Services also tried to contact him.
Psych Services? After you called, I pulled his chart.
His last admit wasn't to Oncology, it was a psych admit.
He was with us three days, signed himself out.
Given a prescription for Ativan.
Looks like there were six admissions over the last few years.
What's this name, Nolan Tinsdale? An emergency contact number.
ED: Did anybody reach this Tinsdale about the lymphoma? I'm not showing that.
All right.
Can you do us a favor, and write down that number? Once upon a time, if Uncle Sam wanted to find you, he found you.
I didn't realize that Joe was still using me as a contact.
So, the hospital never tried to reach you then? No, they didn't.
You say he had cancer? Yeah.
It was lymphoma.
There probably wasn't anything you could've done anyway.
How do you two know each other, Mr.
Tinsdale? We served together in the Army.
And you've kept in touch all these years? No, not really.
A few years ago, I ran into Joe on the street.
I barely recognized him.
He was a wreck.
Booze, drugs, no job.
I took him to the VA hospital and I convinced him to have himself admitted.
And since then? Well, I gave him my card and every so often he'd call.
I'd take him for coffee, give him some money.
When was the last time you saw him? A few months ago, I guess.
Can you think of anything Joe might have been involved with that got him killed? Well, the first thing that comes to my mind is drugs.
Our medical examiner says that he was clean.
Glad to hear that.
Well, we saw that he'd been awarded the Bronze Star.
He got that while he was in my unit in Vietnam.
We were out on a routine patrol.
We stumbled onto an enemy encampment that wasn't on our maps.
We took it out in a firefight.
His uncle told us that he didn't talk about his service much.
It was a tough adjustment for Joe.
ED: You seem to have adjusted just fine.
Lot of work, Detective.
Lot of work.
Well, we won't take up any more of your time, Mr.
I told my wife I'd be home for dinner.
This way I can get a jump on the traffic.
You drive to work? Sometimes.
What kind of car do you drive? A Range Rover.
Why? Oh, it's just something that a witness mentioned.
Well, look, if I can be of any help just let me know.
Tinsdale seemed all right.
Sometimes you can't help people unless they're willing to help themselves.
And we can't find anyone else who knew him? Not anybody with a $100,000 Benz.
So, he knows he's dying, refuses medical treatment, but takes the time to ask his uncle for his service medals.
He was getting his house in order.
Or revisiting his past.
You ever keep in touch with any of your buddies from the service? A couple.
So, maybe Eastman kept in touch with someone besides Tinsdale.
Why don't you ask the Army if they can point you to someone local? You say Joe Eastman's dead.
ED: His body was found in an alley near a dumpster.
Awful sorry to hear that.
When you called though, I wasn't quite sure how I could be of help.
Well, the picture we got was of a guy who'd had a real tough time of it after the war.
I suppose that's true.
I really don't know.
Yeah, well, from what we've learned right near the end there, he wrote to an uncle and asked him for his service medals.
I don't understand.
I thought he was mugged.
ED: Well, it turns out he had terminal cancer.
And the Army tells us that you served with him.
That you received the same commendation.
Yeah, that's right.
Service above and beyond.
ED: Did he ever reach out to you, Mr.
Fletcher? Mayor Fletcher, and no.
I mean, why would Joe Eastman reach out to me? BRISCOE: Well, sometimes the only people you can talk to are the ones who were there with you.
Your old lieutenant had contact with Mr.
Eastman over the years.
Nolan? Didn't know that.
BRISCOE: And you're sure you didn't talk to Mr.
Eastman recently? Quite sure.
I'm sorry I have to cut this short, there's a Town Council meeting I really have to attend.
No problem.
If we think of anything else, we'll give you a call.
Get a card from the detectives.
It was nice meeting both of you.
Do you know how to get back on the highway? It's kind of tricky.
Oh, don't worry, we'll find it.
Hey, Lennie.
That's the Mayor's unit from Vietnam.
Scores big points with his constituents who come in here.
He ever talk about it? The war? It's only like his favorite subject.
There's Nolan Tinsdale.
Does Mayor Fletcher see any of these guys ever? Well, Mr.
Tinsdale, of course.
They're in touch a bunch.
I really don't know much about the others.
When's the last time Mayor Fletcher saw Mr.
Tinsdale? They had dinner two weeks ago.
I made the reservations myself.
Do you know what kind of car the Mayor drives? One of those big Mercedes.
BRISCOE: Really? Which model, do you know? An S500.
Oh, I love those.
Especially that dark blue four-door sedan.
That's what the Mayor has.
No kidding.
You want me to believe that a mayor from a town in Jersey drove into New York City, stabbed an ex-Army buddy, and then went home to his wife and kids? The car matched Eng's description.
Any theories on who the second man was? His secretary said he and Tinsdale had dinner together about a week before the murder.
Now, I thought Tinsdale was in the clear with you? That might've been a little premature.
And what could be the motive? An old Army grudge, who knows.
Hey, we could put Fletcher and Tinsdale in a line-up, and see if Eng can ID 'em.
(CHUCKLES) You really think I'm gonna drag a mayor into the house on the word of some gang banger? I didn't know mayors from New Jersey had diplomatic immunity? Lennie, listen, even if Eng can make an ID, we need a motive.
Otherwise the D.
's gonna laugh in your faces when you ask him to write this one up.
Now, if you think it had somethin' to do with the Army, then run it down.
You know, I hate to admit it, but she's right.
She does that every now and then.
Let's see, this guy was admitted into the psych ward a few weeks before he was killed.
Maybe he told his shrink something.
He signed himself into our In-patient Unit for three nights.
I was the consulting.
He presented as confused, agitated, slightly delusional, with some suicidal ideation.
He talked about killing himself? Mmm-hmm.
Did he say what that was about? It was an acute admission, Detective.
I wasn't looking for any bogeymen.
Well, I'm sorry, Doc, but we are.
(SIGHS) He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
We were originally told that he was admitted several times.
PTSD's a chronic condition that can last a lifetime.
I treated his symptoms, and he signed himself out.
He must have talked to you about something.
At least told you why he wanted to off himself.
All I could get was it had something to do with Vietnam.
I had a sense there was a big load he was carrying around.
Six admissions over the course of 25 years.
But nothing specific? He mentioned a village over there.
I can't remember the name.
You might want to take a closer look at his service record.
Sorry, it's the best I can do.
We drafted him after he graduated from Canarsie High School in 1968.
Trained at Fort Benning, volunteered with Special Forces, one tour in Vietnam.
Served under Lieutenant Tinsdale in the 81st Infantry Division.
I can get you a list.
Is there anything in Eastman's service record about the missions he carried out? Not that I can access in this database, other than the commendation relating to his Bronze Star.
Tinsdale said it was a firefight.
A routine patrol.
(KEYBOARD CLACKING) Heroic achievement on the night of May 3rd,1969.
While on a probe for an arms cache in Ba Pho secret zone.
Alpha team encountered armed Viet Cong aggressors on the outskirts of the village of Cai Binh.
Alpha team extracted from Cai Binh without casualties.
Every member of his squad was awarded the Bronze Star for this operation.
Doesn't sound so routine to me.
Wait a minute.
This is odd.
A new entry from about a month ago.
It looks like Corporal Eastman tried to give his Bronze Star back.
Two Army buddies meeting for dinner doesn't sound like much of a conspiracy.
It wasn't just the two of them.
Stephen Morehouse.
Now, we pulled Mayor Fletcher's IUDs, there were several calls to Morehouse in Somerville, Mass.
And Morehouse was in Tinsdale's unit, too.
The waitress that served Fletcher and Tinsdale ID'd him as being in the restaurant with 'em.
We ran all their credit cards.
Morehouse checked into a hotel, in the city, the day before the murder, checked out the night of.
We've left half a dozen messages for him.
He hasn't called us back.
VAN BUREN: And we have a witness in custody who puts the victim getting into a car identical to Fletcher's.
What does the Mayor say about it? He told us he hadn't spoken to Eastman recently and he cut off the interview.
When we asked him to come in for some follow-up questions, he lawyered up.
You know, I had my doubts, too, but there are just too many coincidences for it to be anything else.
What about Tinsdale? He's a little bit more forthcoming, but not much.
He said the last time that he saw Eastman was a few months ago.
Has he requested a lawyer? Not yet.
I'm afraid I'm a little confused about what you're doing here, about why you want to talk to my husband.
My office is investigating a homicide.
Joe Eastman.
I told you about him.
That you were interviewed by two detectives.
So why are you here now? Well, it seems two men your husband commanded in Vietnam were both in the city the night Mr.
Eastman was killed.
Stephen Morehouse and Stanley Fletcher.
Why would you think Nolan would know about that? Because he had dinner with Mr.
Morehouse and Mr.
Fletcher the week before.
These are both good men.
No one's saying they're not.
But for some reason Mr.
Fletcher's asked for a lawyer and Mr.
Morehouse has refused to return several of our calls.
What do you want my husband to say? Was there ever any animosity between them and Mr.
Eastman? Stephen Morehouse carried me out of a jungle with two bullets in my belly, through enemy fire to an LZ where I was medevaced.
He took a round himself and we got on the chopper.
Eastman and Fletcher were both there.
It was a long time ago, Mr.
Well, they saved my life.
I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them.
I'm sorry, I can't help you.
Can't or won't? The night this happened my husband was home having dinner with me.
Is that true, Mr.
Tinsdale? I just told you it was true.
Now we'd like you to leave.
Not much of an alibi.
And Fletcher invoked his right to counsel, but not before he had his car detailed at a local car wash.
What about Morehouse? He isn't returning any of our calls.
And your theory is that this murder somehow relates to their military service together.
It's the only common link.
One that's 30 years old.
Eastman was diagnosed with terminal lymphoma, refused any treatment.
In the last few months he contacted an uncle he hadn't spoken to in over a year and asked for his Army medals.
What was he awarded? A Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
A few weeks before Eastman was killed he contacted the Army and tried to return his medal.
The Army produced this letter.
"I, Joseph Eastman hereby desire to return a Bronze Star "falsely awarded to me for the events of May 3rd, 1969.
" Mmm-hmm.
It goes on to request information about where to return the medal and how to expunge Eastman's official service record.
What does the Army say about it? That Eastman never got a chance to tell them why.
At least that's the official version.
See if we can get the unofficial version.
With the information you gave me over the phone I was able to do some investigation.
Were you able to find out anything about Cai Binh? Some of the villages in that province were destroyed during the war.
But Cai Binh is still there.
Right here, about 80 kilometers up the Mekong River.
Then people still live in the village? I had our office in Ho Chi Minh City send an attaché there.
Did you find anybody who was there in 1969? We spoke with one woman in her early 50s.
She recalls the incident that you mentioned.
She remembers the battle? What she remembers was not a battle.
It was a massacre perpetrated by the American soldiers.
The Americans came to the village.
They killed many civilians.
Our military says the casualties were all Viet Cong soldiers.
Our records are quite clear.
Two men, nine women, and 14 children.
Among the dead were this woman's mother and two-year-old daughter.
I doubt one can ever be mistaken about something like that.
According to this witness, Tinsdale's unit made it into the village shortly after nightfall.
When they opened fire with automatic weapons, she and a few others managed to escape into the jungle.
When she returned, everyone was dead.
Why didn't this ever come out before? Because it's not the Army's version of what happened.
According to them, Tinsdale and his squad were given information about enemy activity inside the village.
When they approached they took heavy fire.
For which they were awarded the Bronze Star.
Doesn't seem like Eastman saw it that way.
Thirty years later.
According to his psych record, Eastman was bothered about something a long time before that.
He was drafted.
He was doing things that would be a nightmare for any kid.
Don't tell me we can draw conclusions from a psych report.
If it wasn't the skeleton in their closet, Jack, why else kill Eastman? Are we absolutely sure this wasn't a mugging by the Ghost Shadows? And Eng just happened to correctly guess the make, model and color of Fletcher's car? Your witness only puts two men at the car, not three.
But we know Morehouse saw Tinsdale and Fletcher in New York.
And still, no idea what they were talking about? How do you feel about a road trip to Massachusetts? I don't talk to anybody about Vietnam, period.
I'm afraid you'll have to talk to us, Mr.
Morehouse, either here, or in front of a grand jury in New York.
Just brings back a lot of bad memories.
About the Bronze Star you were awarded? We already know Mr.
Eastman wanted to return his and that you were in New York the day he was killed.
You strike me as an honest, hard-working man, Mr.
If you were looking for a chance to set the record straight, this is it.
Joe called me, out of the blue, a couple months ago.
About what? He wanted me to give my medal back.
He wanted all of us to.
Tinsdale and Mr.
Fletcher? Why? (SIGHS) Damn fool threatened to go to the media.
So they killed him? We tried to figure out what to do, how to approach Joe.
I just had a bad feeling about the whole thing.
We met at the hotel, and I told them, just leave it alone.
I never even left my room.
But they wouldn't listen.
You ever serve your country, Mr.
McCoy? I wasn't in the war, no.
It's hard to explain to somebody who wasn't there, what it did to you.
Especially to a black man who didn't want to be there in the first place.
The Army gave us all those medals for killing those people.
It's a tough thing to live with.
Joey never could.
Dockets ending in "03" and "04.
" "People v.
Tinsdale and Fletcher.
"One count of Murder in the Second Degree.
" I'll enter not guilty pleas on behalf of both defendants, and I'll hear you on bail, Miss Southerlyn.
Your Honor, these defendants voluntarily surrendered themselves.
They murdered a former Army colleague to conceal their actions during the war in Vietnam.
Vietnam? They allegedly killed innocent civilians, women and children.
GARDNER: My clients strenuously dispute that.
The only question in this courtroom is whether or not these defendants pose a flight risk, and whether you have a case against them.
A witness places the victim getting into a car identical to Mr.
Fletcher's shortly before he was knifed to death.
This witness is a teenager with gang affiliations.
Who correctly identified Mr.
Fletcher's vehicle and then his photograph.
GARDNER: These are respectable men with no criminal history, Judge.
Do you really think bail's necessary, Miss Southerlyn? I'd say these men lost whatever claim they had to respectability the moment they chose to end Mr.
Eastman's life.
Bail's set in the amount of$200,000.
(GAVEL BANGS) What's the position of the Vietnamese government on all this? They'll produce the witness in New York if we give them enough lead time and make the appropriate diplomatic requests.
How'd the line-ups go? Pretty much as expected.
The kid from Chinatown ID'd Fletcher, but not Tinsdale.
Which still leaves Morehouse to establish him at the crime scene.
Yeah, I'm pretty surprised Gardner hasn't approached us to discuss a plea.
Maybe that's your answer.
Motion in limine.
He's seeking to exclude any testimony relating to Cai Binh.
Peace, with honor.
What happened in that village Not with evidence indicating Mr.
Eastman planned to go public with those events.
So we're gonna sit here and judge what happened over three decades ago.
It's not our judgment that matters, it's the defendants' effort to conceal those facts that goes directly to their motive.
GARDNER: Judge, testimony of an alleged massacre would irreparably prejudice a jury.
Your clients were awarded a Bronze Star for their conduct, Counselor.
I'd think they'd be eager for a jury to hear what they'd done.
Their witness is a Vietnamese National, Judge.
I doubt if a jury is going to get an unbiased account of the action.
What about that, Mr.
McCoy? Bias goes to weight, not admissibility.
If you don't allow her testimony, the jury only gets half a truth.
I'm gonna hear what she has to say, Miss Gardner.
Judge Outside the presence of the jury.
I was born in the village of Cai Binh.
I've lived there all my life.
Could you tell us what happened on May 3rd, 1969? (SPEAKING VIETNAMESE) (SPEAKING VIETNAMESE) That night I was in my house helping my mother.
A boy who lived next door came running in, he said the American soldiers were coming.
What happened after the boy came in? (SPEAKING VIETNAMESE) There was shouting.
Everyone was running.
My mom told me to go to the main parts of the village to find my sister.
And did there come a time when you left your home? (TRANSLATING) (SPEAKING VIETNAMESE) Yes.
I ran up a path that led to the village.
Then there was an explosion over me.
It turned very bright.
Then the shooting started.
JACK: Who was shooting? The American soldiers.
They were at the edge of the jungle firing into our homes.
JACK: What did you do next? (SPEAKING VIETNAMESE) I hid in the jungle until the shooting stopped.
When I returned to my home, everyone on the floor was dead.
My little daughter was in my mother's arms, on the floor covered with blood.
Nothing further.
I'm sorry, Mrs.
I just have a few questions.
(INTERPRETER TRANSLATING) Where were the men in the village at the time this happened? (TRANSLATING) (SPEAKS VIETNAMESE) Fighting the Americans.
GARDNER: Where? (SPEAKING VIETNAMESE) In the territory around our province.
And you stayed in the village helping to feed them, supply them, and warn them that the enemy was coming? (INTERPRETER TRANSLATING) (SPEAKING VIETNAMESE) The Americans came and told us we must leave our village where my family has lived for hundreds of years.
I helped my mother, my husband and my father to fight the Americans just so we can stay on our land.
So is it fair to say that you hated the Americans then and you still hate them now? Objection.
You made your point, Miss Gardner.
When the illumination flare exploded over your village, Mrs.
Trung, were you able to see who was firing? (TRANSLATING) Could you see for yourself who was firing the weapons into your village? (INTERPRETER TRANSLATING) (SPEAKS VIETNAMESE) I did not see it for myself.
Move to strike the witness's testimony as hearsay.
Her testimony establishes her state of mind, which is an exception to the hearsay rule.
From that the jury can infer whether these defendants had an incentive to conceal their conduct.
Judge, this is a second hand horror story of how my clients supposedly massacred her family.
Trung, I thank you for coming all this way.
(TRANSLATING) (SPEAKS VIETNAMESE) What happened? I'm sorry, but I can't admit your testimony into evidence.
(SPEAKS VIETNAMESE) Why not? Because you didn't observe these events with your own eyes.
(INTERPRETER TRANSLATING) (SPEAKS VIETNAMESE) Do you think it never happened? (SPEAKS VIETNAMESE) Do you think that my mother and daughter weren't killed by these men? I'm very sorry, Mrs.
(SPEAKS VIETNAMESE) Thirty years and you still can't tell the truth.
I came all the way here for nothing.
At least we still have Kenny Eng.
And if Tinsdale or Fletcher take the stand, I can always use Trung's story to cross them.
General Mark Halston, Army Office of Strategic Affairs.
I noticed you in the courtroom.
I'm up here to observe the case.
If we'd known, we would've been happy to brief you.
Is there somewhere we can talk? No one's here to embarrass the Army, General.
I understand that.
And I certainly didn't come here to bully you.
But the Army would like to see this case go away quietly.
If a jury convicts based on what happened in Cai Binh it's going to open a Pandora's box.
We don't let political considerations sway our decisions, General.
There's an international criminal court being formed that's a year away from hearing cases.
Four Rwandans were recently convicted of war crimes in a Belgian court.
Now, I'm not disputing the merits, but there's precedent for other governments to try to make an example of these men, and others.
What would you have us do? Basically, I'm asking you to cut a deal.
For the good of the nation.
There are a lot of good soldiers out there who don't deserve to be put through this, who don't deserve to have their honor questioned.
I've already told Miss Southerlyn and I'm telling you, this case is going to verdict.
After what we heard yesterday, I'd reconsider if I were you.
There are two sides to what happened.
If that's the truth, why were you so afraid of what Joe Eastman had to say? I think considering the circumstances here, manslaughter's a pretty generous offer.
Well, I don't know about Stan, but I'm not pleading guilty.
This trial's the only chance I may have for vindication.
I'm afraid you won't find any vindication here, Mr.
My God.
What are you doing here, Stephen? I told you guys to just leave it alone, but you wouldn't listen.
Morehouse has agreed to testify against you.
We've been walking around with this thing for far too long.
You son of a bitch.
Come on, man.
Look at where it's got us.
You've already been divorced three times.
And me? I can't get a night's sleep, without washing down a bunch of pills.
We're no heroes, Nolan.
And that's all Joe wanted, was for us to stand up and say so.
I never said I was a hero.
But we took the medals anyway.
There were women and children in that village.
No way we could have known that at the time.
Come on, man, we had reports.
How many times was our intel wrong, Stevie? You expect us to risk our lives on a piece of paper that's three weeks old? We could hear them screaming.
We could've pulled back.
Don't forget you fired too, Stevie.
You fired, too.
You do what you think is right, Stephen.
It's all we can do.
I had a split second to make a decision.
I don't like the way it turned out, but I did the job they sent me to do.
What about Joe Eastman? Who sent you to do that, Mr.
Tinsdale? You talk, we go to prison, Nolan.
Do you realize that? They're gonna find out sooner or later, Stan.
Joe called us, he said he was gonna send back his Bronze Star, write a letter to the papers about what happened at Cai Binh.
I couldn't let that happen.
Because what Mrs.
Trung testified to was true.
Because it didn't matter if what she said was true or not.
I'd been called a murderer before, when I came home.
I wasn't about to look into my son's eyes and explain it all over again.
So you took matters into your own hands.
I'd tried for years to get Joe back on his feet.
I took him to the VA.
I gave him money.
Somehow he just He could never make peace with it.
Maybe he was better than the rest of us.
I don't know.
What happened when you went to see him? We just wanted to talk to him.
We thought maybe we could get him to change his mind.
JACK: He refused.
After we got him in the car, he just started to lose it.
So Stan pulled over.
And that's when Joe pulled the knife.
His knife? I managed to wrestle it away from him, but he just kept coming at me, like he didn't care what happened anymore.
You gotta understand, there was no chance to walk away.
Gardner's accepted our offer of man two.
She intends to ask the judge for the minimum.
A mayor and an oil executive.
I'm sure she'll make a strong case.
I think there were mitigating factors.
Based on what they did or who they are? They were kids.
Kids armed to the teeth, put in a place where most of the time they couldn't tell who was for them, and who was against them.
We need to be careful how we judge.