Law & Order (1990) s15e23 Episode Script

In God We Trust

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.
(PANICKED CLAMORING) What's your location, Ladder Seven-Two Can Man? OVER RADIO: Search negative in apartment six-baker.
Everybody's out.
Received, six is clear.
I'm gonna go check the stairwell to the roof.
We got flashover in six-baker! Time to get outta there, Ladder Seven-Two Can Man! I don't like this.
Pick up transmission! Evacuate the building, Ladder Seven-Two Can Man! Mayday! May Get the fast truck in there, now! (SCREAMING) That was Sean! (SHOUTING) Paramedics! He got trapped on top of the main burn.
Poor guy had two choices, jump or be incinerated.
What about his emergency line? The old ones were too heavy to carry.
And the brass hasn't approved any of the lighter-weight models.
Well, I take my hat off to you guys.
Personally, I'd rather dodge bullets than run into a burning building.
What was his name? Sean Grafton from Ladder Seventy-Two.
His old man and two brothers in the department.
He have a family? Yeah, a wife and two kids.
That's rough.
How'd it start? That's why we called.
Guys who were up there said multiple points of origin.
Well, we'll know more when we get back in the building, but nine times out often, you're right.
Which means Sean Grafton was murdered.
The fire was started in two separate areas of the sixth floor.
The east stairwell landing and the hallway.
Was there any evidence of an accelerant? Here and here, and a gallon milk bottle with traces of gasoline.
We're really lucky just to have the one fatality.
We need to figure out who the target was.
So we're thinkin' personal, not arson for profit.
Well, it doesn't make sense to me that someone would torch the top floor if they wanted to burn down the whole building.
Gas in a milk bottle, this guy was an amateur.
Well, there's four apartments on six.
And they're all burned out.
So while you guys run down the residents I'll canvass the gas stations in the area.
My smoke detector never went off.
If one of my neighbors hadn't pounded on the door, we would've been fried to a crisp.
Do you live with somebody? My daughter, Hannah.
Uh, we went out the fire escape.
She was terrified.
How's she doin' now? She's okay.
I sent her to school.
It's better she's with her friends than sittin' upstairs in the hotel room.
Do you or your daughter have any problems outside of the home? What do you mean? Does anyone wanna cause you harm? No.
Where's Hannah's father, Miss Wilder? Oh, he's been out of the picture since before she was born.
And your neighbors on the sixth floor, do any of them have ongoing disputes that you're aware of? Not really.
It's always been a quiet building.
CLAUDE WORTHY: That was somethin' huh? To see that man go off the roof? Reminded me of the Towers.
Is there any reason why this might've been directed at you, Mr.
Worthy? You think somebody set that fire? We're just covering all the bases.
Then you should cover that woman across the hall from me.
The one in Six-B.
Emily Wilder? With the little girl.
If I had a dollar for every argument she got into with some boyfriend.
Is there anything more specific you can tell us, anything that happened recently? Uh Last week was it? A man pounding on her door.
Yelling for her to let him in.
I looked through my peephole to see what all the commotion was about.
You get a look at the guy? I got a look at his back.
Brown hair over his collar.
Had on an MTAjacket.
So Emily Wilder forgot to mention her rowdy boyfriend.
So she can be protecting him, or scared he might finish what he started.
Maybe we should scare her.
There might be an easier way.
Well, have you contacted the Board of Education? We don't have time to get jammed up in the bureaucracy.
Well, I'm sorry, Detective.
All right, let's go.
No, no, wait a second.
You heard about the fire last night, the one where the fireman got killed? Yes.
Well, it happened in Hannah Wilder's building.
We think she still may be in danger, or have some information that can help us.
A fire, then the police.
This kid's gonna be scared to death.
Well, it just so happens that my partner here has two children, and he really knows how to talk to kids.
So while he's talkin' to Hannah, I'll just go get myself a cup of Joe.
What do you say? All right.
Do you have a gun? No, no, no.
I left that in the car.
Those are cool sneakers.
You know, my daughter says she wants to get Skechers for her birthday, what do you think? Those are cool, too.
My mom said I might get a canopy bed for my birthday, but now, 'cause of the fire, we don't have any place to live.
I'm sorry you had to go through that, Hannah.
So, you and your mom, you're gonna stay in the hotel? I don't know.
We can't stay with my dad, 'cause my mom says his apartment isn't big enough.
Where does he live? In the Bronx.
I never get to go there, 'cause Mom says it's too far away.
But he likes it 'cause it's close to his work.
Oh yeah, what does he do? He drives the city bus.
Is his last name Wilder like yours? Uh-uh.
Al Gruner? No, John Gruner.
Okay, so you're gonna open the door.
I can't just let you in his apartment.
Sure you can, we're authorized.
(KEYS CLINKING) Hey! Come here.
Smell this jacket.
Yeah, what? You don't smell gasoline? No.
And I don't like this.
And, he has matches in his pocket.
Well, the guy's a smoker.
Pretty Woman? I didn't see a DVD player in here.
"Wizard Video, Astoria, Queens.
" You know what I think? I think we should find out who John Gruner is watchin' chick flicks with.
(KNOCKING) NYPD, Miss Tarantino.
You mind if we come in? (NERVOUSLY) Well, the house is kind of a mess right now.
(SCOFFS) Don't worry about that, we're used to that.
What is this about? Well, you see, John Gruner's apartment got burglarized last night.
We're tryin' to find him so he could secure his belongings.
I don't know a John Gruner.
See, I told ya, there must be some screw-up on our end.
You mind if we come in and straighten this out? Can you come back a little later? (BOTTLE CLINKING) (SHUFFLING) ls someone home with you? My brother.
Listen, why don't we cut to the chase.
If Gruner's in here, you're harboring a fugitive.
Now are you gonna let us look around or not? Police, don't move! Nowhere to go, Gruner.
It's up to you now.
Get down.
Down! Cuff him.
I wanna know what kind of a guy tries to burn his own daughter out.
I don't know what you're talkin' about.
I mean, I wanna understand your side of it, I really do, but I have to have an answer to that question! What if I don't? Detective Falco, can I have a few minutes with Mr.
Gruner, please? You sure? You see, Detective Falco's in law school, and I don't wanna get him jammed up by anything that I might say.
Or do.
Y cu had your chance, Brunet.
(DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES) So you and Emily Wilder were havin' problems, huh? Hannah told us.
You talked to her? Oh, yeah.
I don't like you talkin' to my daughter! And I don't like you tryin' to burn her alive! And if you mouth off to me one more time, I'm gonna put your head through this table! I love that kid! And Emily wouldn't let her anywhere near me! But I didn't start that fire! (DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES) Results of the spectrograph analysis of the jacket we recovered from your closet.
Positive for gasoline.
I work on a bus.
Yeah, well, last time I checked, buses ran on diesel.
So you know what we're gonna do now? We're gonna go get Hannah, and we're gonna bring her here, and you can explain it all to her.
Right here in this room, just the four of us.
You can't do that! Well, how 'bout it, Mr.
Lawyer-man, can I do it? I read the case US v.
There you go.
I'll go get her.
No! FALCO: It's too bad.
She'll always remember her Daddy cuffed to a table.
Trying to explain how he torched her home and nearly killed her.
Hannah wasn't supposed to be there! And you hated her mother that much? That you tried to burn her alive? Is that what you did? We're gonna need it all in writing, all right? I want every detail of how you set that fire.
wants you.
I'll babysit him.
We just now got a confession on the fire.
Well, I hope you can still use it.
A slug? Looks like a .
Yeah, it dropped out when I cut off the fireman's bunker gear.
There's a bullet hole in his pants and a graze wound on his left thigh.
Somebody shot him at the fire.
So, is it possible he didn'tjump? So there's no way anybody could've been up here with Grafton, right? Somebody would've seen him.
Anybody in one of these buildings could've taken a potshot at him with a handgun.
Take a look at this air vent.
See, one of the shutters has a nick in it.
Whatever made it came from the inside.
Could you pry this housing off, please? Yeah, sure.
(CLANKING) Feel around in there, would you? Is somethin' wrong with your hand? (LAUGHING) Luciano Barbera.
You're high maintenance, man.
Hey, hey.
hey- A .
Five spent shells.
And I'm bettin' that one of them wound up in the leg of Sean Grafton's pants.
Ballistics says the fire made the gun go off.
Two rounds in the cylinder exploded in the heat that was raging up the air vent, one of them through the barrel.
And it matches the slug they found in Sean Grafton's bunker gear? Yes, ma'am.
And guess what? There are firing pin strikes on the other three shell casings, the ones that didn't explode.
Meaning that gun was fired long before someone hid it on the roof.
Ballistics is running the gun now, see if it matches up with any old shootings.
says he'll charge Gruner with arson and felony murder, which means he'll do at least 25-to-life.
Well, how about we give this collar to the Fire Marshals? No problem with us.
Here's a match on your mystery bullet.
To what? An open homicide.
Check it out.
Nine years ago.
on this block, a male black named Justin Leonard was shot three times.
What was it about? We never really knew.
Leonard worked part-fume at Nukes, someone lit him up when he was leavin' for the night.
Nothin' like a cold case.
All right.
This is where we found the body.
In this store entrance.
There was a struggle at first.
This window was shattered, CSU found blood in the broken glass which wasn't from the victim.
Which means DNA's in play.
Anybody in the store see anything? It was closed.
But the manager from Kinkos said that Leonard was arguing with three black men when he was lockin' up.
Arguing about what? She wasn't sure.
She picked a local trouble maker out of one of the books, a Leshawn Muncie.
My guys picked him up, but we couldn't get anything to stick.
I got enough problems without y'all tryin' to put a body on me from nine years ago.
Maybe we can package this up with the case you're in on now.
Two for the price of one.
But I didn't do no murder.
Ah, come on, man, we have the murder weapon with your prints on it.
Don't even try to play me like that.
Okay, if you're not involved and you help us out, we'll put in a good word with the D.
If I remember correctly, I went to Kinkos that night.
What were you doing, copying your thesis? Nah.
I was helpin' a couple of dudes make some IDs.
It's all very fascinating, tell us more.
The brother locked the door as we was rollin' in.
We had a few words, but that's it.
This is Justin Leonard.
Yeah, that's him.
That's good.
So if you had nothin' to do with this, you'll give us the names and addresses of the friends that you were with that night.
I don't think so.
FALCO: Or a DNA swab.
Hell no.
You never know what loose ends I might have out in the world.
You asked the white dude who was out there that night for his DNA? What white dude? Guy waitin' outside of Kinkos for his friend to get off work.
Give us a description.
White, 'bout 30.
FONTANA: Oh, man.
Man, it's nine years ago, man! If you're jerkin' us around, Leshawn, you haven't seen the last of us.
Open up.
Then I got nothin' to worry about! Justin was my only child.
It was just me and him after my wife died, when Justin was in grade school.
We're terribly sorry for your loss, sir.
I'm sure Detective O'Brien asked you this nine years ago, but was Justin havin' problems with anyone at the time? Oh, no, no.
He was a good boy.
He had this way of talkin' to people, make 'em laugh, put them at ease, you know? We were told he was in school.
Yeah, he was goin' to Pratt Institute, goin' for a master's degree, graphic arts, doin' real good, too.
Look, the only explanation I have is no explanation at all.
Wrong place, wrong time.
To lose him like that almost killed me, too.
Did he ever mention any kind of romantic problems? He had a nice girlfriend, uh, a girl he met who worked at the college, uh Nancy was her name.
She was at the funeral.
They were just starting to get serious, too.
I met Justin when he came into the Placement Office looking for a part-time job.
The two of you hit it off? We did.
How long were you seeing each other when Six months.
Are we bothering you, Miss Harvard? Mrs.
It's just that, I don't know That was a lifetime ago.
I'm married now.
Brings back a lot of hard memories.
Well, I'm sure you'd like to see whoever killed Justin be brought tojustice.
Yes, I would.
I'm sorry.
Was there anyone else in your life back then? Who would kill Justin? Well? (SCOFFS) No.
No, not at all.
When was this picture taken? About nine years ago.
Not long after Justin died.
It's in New Hampshire.
My parents' 30th anniversary.
April 13.
And the man in the picture with you, the one with the bandage on his hand? That's my brother, Bruce.
Did he live in New Hampshire back then? No, on the West Side, actually.
On 49th Street? How did you know that? I met Justin once or twice.
What a tragedy for his family.
And it was hard on my sister.
How did you and Justin get along? Like I said, I never knew him very well.
You had a hand injury back then, Mr.
Did I? We saw it in the anniversary picture, in your sister's office.
You're right.
I had a bandage on at my parents' party.
You know, I still have a scar from that.
How'd you hurt yourself? Fell.
Cut my hand on some broken glass.
Did you go to a hospital and get it looked at? No, I I believe I took care of it myself.
Is there anything else I can help you with, Detectives? Not right now, Mr.
You like the brother? Too many coincidences.
The hand injury, the murder weapon in the building next to him.
He could access the roof there? Easily.
Perfect stash spot.
We went back and showed Elwin's photo to the mutt who had an argument with the victim that night, and he was pretty sure it was Elwin who was standin' outside the copy place.
But it's been too long for him to be certain.
What about a motive? The victim was dating his sister.
And he didn't approve because? Black guy, white girl.
Well, bring the sister in, rattle her cage, see if you can get her to consent to a DNA swab.
It could eliminate her brother.
Or put a nail in his coffin.
Bruce was never crazy about any of my boyfriends.
You know how big brothers are.
We'll take that to mean that he didn't like him.
If you knew my brother, you would know he could never hurt anybody.
If you're so sure he had nothin' to do with this, you'll have no problem giving us a DNA sample.
I don't know.
What's the problem, Nancy? No! Are you beginning to doubt your brother? It's just Well, I think that we should talk to a lawyer about this! So can I go now? Yeah, sure.
If you don't wanna cooperate, it's gonna go on our report, you know? I don't care.
My brother didn't kill anybody! Detectives! This guy says his sister's up here.
Bruce, what are you doing here? I killed Justin, Nancy.
I killed Justin Leonard.
Before agreeing to speak to us on video, Mr.
Elwin, did you read, understand, and sign a copy of your Miranda warnings? Yes.
You wanna waive your rights and proceed with this statement? Yes.
FONTANA: Nine years ago, did you know a man named Justin Leonard? He was my sister's boyfriend.
Did you see him on the night of April 17, 1996? Yes, on Broadway and FONTANA: Tell us what happened.
I waited for Justin to leave work.
When he came out, I followed him for halfa block.
FALCO: Why? I had a gun in my pocket.
To scare him.
But he grabbed my arm and tried to wrestle the gun away from me.
We broke a store window when we were struggling, and I cut my hand.
Somehow I had managed to pull free.
I stepped away, and I shot him.
I shot him three times.
What did you do then? I left him there on the sidewalk, and I went home.
I hid the gun in a vent on the roof of the building next to mine.
Were you intoxicated or using drugs the night you shot Leonard? No.
I was stone sober.
So, if you just wanted to scare him, why did you end up shooting him? 'Cause he said he and Nancy were in love.
And I didn't want my sister to marry a black man.
"Docket number 05943.
"People v.
Bruce Elwin, murder in the second degree.
" How do you plead, Mr.
Elwin? I'd rather not choose, Your Honor.
Talk to your client, Mr.
(WHISPERING) What's the matter? I don't want to choose.
(WHISPERING CONTINUES) He refuses to enter a plea.
He's adamant.
Then I'll do it for him.
Not guilty.
People on bail? Your Honor, the defendant freely confessed to a murder motivated by racial animus.
We plan a hate crime enhancement.
We're asking that Mr.
Elwin be remanded.
So I suppose you're going to tell me that he deserves some bail because he turned himself in? Actually, no.
Elwin consents to remand.
I wish they were all that easy.
The defendant is remanded.
Send it to a Trial Part.
(GAVEL FALLS) I'm as competitive as the next guy.
Do you think it was fun sitting on my hands at arraignment? So what's it about, Kevin? Look, there's no hidden agenda here.
Elwin's genuinely remorseful.
The first thing he said to me is he wants to throw himself on the mercy of the court and do his time.
All 30 years of it? He knows the deal.
And you're just gonna stand back and assist him in committing legal suicide.
He's the client.
I advise him of his options, and he makes the calls.
If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck When was the last time you had a case where the defendant surrendered, confessed, and, I quote, "threw himself on the mercy of the court"? Neven There's your duck.
So calendar an allocution on a guilty plea.
We'll see if Elwin balks.
Your client intends to enter a plea of guilty to second degree murder, Mr.
Clemens? That's correct, Judge.
Does he wish to challenge the hate enhancement filed by the District Attorney? No.
Elwin, do you understand that I can sentence you to 30- years-to-life on this plea? Yes, sir, I do.
Very well.
Will you take his allocution, Mr.
McCoy? On the night of April 7, 1996, did you shoot Justin Leonard with the intent to kill him? Yes.
Can you tell us in your own words how this happened? I went to the store where Justin worked.
Then I waited outside for him.
May I be heard, Judge? I've been retained to represent Bruce Elwin.
You're a little late, Miss Weiss.
He's just about to allocute.
Not anymore.
His guilty plea is withdrawn.
Sorry for the histrionics, but I was retained an hour before this case was calendared.
If you were proceeding with the guilty plea, you wouldn't be here.
You always could read the handwriting on the wall, Jack.
Maybe you should do the same.
We have a rock-solid confession, and a murder weapon stashed 50 feet from your client's front door.
I know you have a strong case on the evidence, but I have a strong case on the equities.
This is a hate crime.
For the past nine years, my client has led an exemplary life.
Meaning he hasn't murdered any other black men? Meaning he shouldn't be prosecuted at all.
He is a different person than the one who committed, what even he agrees, is a despicable crime.
What's the punchline? I'm filing a Clayton motion asking that his case be dismissed in the interest of justice.
Ever since he committed this crime, Mr.
Elwin's been a born-again Christian.
I don't see a way out of this, Jack.
If Judge Taylor grants the Clayton motion, it's a dismissal on the merits.
The defendant walks.
A successful Clayton motion is rare enough.
I don't think this one has a snowball's chance in hell.
There are more people who believe in angels in this country than in evolution.
I doubt if Judge Taylor is one of them.
Then we lucked out.
There's ajudge or three who could be sympathetic to this.
For instance? Justice Scalia said our laws derive their authority from God.
William O.
Douglas wrote that we're a religious people whose institutions presuppose a supreme being.
How does that translate into a free pass for murder? The defense is arguing that since Elwin has redeemed himself in the eyes of the Lord, the law should recognize that.
It will, after he admits his responsibility! He tried that, Weiss pulled the plug.
The stratagem is just an excuse for Wendy Weiss to put on a little guerilla theater in the courtroom.
No better time than now, Jack.
She's dreaming if she thinks she can cash in on that.
Would you have ever dreamed that Congress and the President would intervene in the Terry Schiavo situation? Or that the Colorado Supreme Court would split three to two on whether the jury could consult the Bible on the death sentence? Trust me.
Wendy Weiss is not a true believer.
What does she have to lose? If her Clayton motion is denied, she's no worse off.
If Judge Taylor doesn't bite, this could work as jury nullification.
In New York City? I'll take my chances.
Maybe it's a good thing I'm not on your jury.
Really? I go to church, Jack.
I believe in spiritual redemption.
The born-again Christians that I know have had a genuine moral awakening.
And people facing life in prison, often "awake" to find religion.
So why don't I find out just how genuine Elwin's transformation was? Bruce moved in here over 10 years ago.
He had a stereo system on this wall, a big TV, tons of video games.
He had a real nice leather sofa set over here.
What happened to it all? One day the Salvation Army truck pulled up, took it all.
He gave away his BMW, too.
When was this? About nine years ago, that's when he drank the Kool-Aid.
He found religion? Yeah.
One day I call him up, and he says he's not hangin' out anymore.
Says he's changin' his life.
Next thing I know, it's Jesus this and the Lord that.
Oh man, I went to Catholic school, all right? So we didn't hang out anymore.
And he quit his job, too, started to work for one of them do-gooder outfits.
Bruce was a Senior Systems Analyst at a bank.
He said he wanted to give notice and work here.
Did he say why? He didn't need to.
It was obvious he wanted to change his life and give something back to the community.
How could you tell? There are many people like Bruce, people who wake up one morning and are unhappy with what they see in the mirror.
He was making $200,000.
I told him the Westside Family Center could only pay him eight or nine.
And he said he'd take it on one condition.
That I'd tithe ten percent of his salary and earmark it for one of our children's funds.
I talked to friends, co-workers, family.
Bruce Elwin is the real deal.
Within weeks after he murdered Justin Leonard, he renounced his lifestyle and most of its worldly accoutrements.
Means you're gonna have to oppose his motion on the merits.
That's fine, because it has no merit.
You may think that, but the facts indicate that Elwin spent the last nine years atoning for what he did.
I don't care if he comes to court with a hair shirt and a scourge.
Murder is murder! And the defense will argue that if rehabilitation is the reason that we put murderers in jail, Elwin's well on his way to accomplishing that on his own.
There are other reasons for incarceration, deterrence, denunciation, and there's a catharsis for everyone in seeing the guilty punished.
But we stopped holding executions in the town square.
And they're not called penitentiaries anymore, they're correctional facilities.
Anyone who's ever been in one knows that that's a bad joke.
You can't dispute the fact that Elwin is doing more for society now, than if he spent his life in jail.
So we'll forgive you if you kill someone, so long as you demonstrate you're really sorry.
Forgiveness is a Christian ideal.
And if you don't believe in Christ, well, then you just have to do your time? The logical outgrowth of this insanity.
The defense is asking Judge Taylor to recuse himself.
Why? He has an anti-Christian bias.
You sent my blood pressure off the charts with this one, Ms.
Nothing personal, Judge, but when you consider the subject matter of our Clayton motion.
Of course it's personal.
It's blatant judge shopping, YourHonoL And you better convince me otherwise, Counselor.
When you sat in Civil Term, you demonstrated an anti-Christian bias in several of your decisions.
In Cohen v.
Tenants Association, you ordered a creche removed from Gramercy Park, in Waverly v.
Board of Ed, you prohibited funding for an after-school Bible club.
Those decisions were mandated by the First Amendment.
You joined in a memo forbidding the singing of carols at the courthouse Christmas party.
You were supported for your re-election by the Libertarian Party and the ACLU.
Do you have a list of the books Judge Taylor borrowed from the library? You know what, Ms.
Weiss? As deeply offended by this as I am, I'm going to recuse myself.
I can't believe you're acquiescing to this, Judge! I don't need you riding me, Mr.
McCoy! If you entertain this application, you will only encourage more disqualification motions! Black defendants demanding blackjudges, gay defendants, seeking I get the point.
But I need the resolution of this matter to be bulletproof.
To avoid the appearance of any impropriety or retaliation against the defendant, I refer this matter for a hearing in the Motion Part.
That would be Judge Proctor, who I'm sure is on all the right lists! When did Bruce Elwin join your congregation, Pastor? Nine years ago.
And is he an active member of the Second Church of the Lamb? Oh, yes.
Bruce is a regular worshipper.
And a frequent volunteer.
He's on our Steering Committee, and he works two nights a week in our Church Pantry serving meals to the indigent.
Did Mr.
Elwin ever consult you on personal matters, Pastor? From time to time.
Did he ever tell you what prompted him to become a born-again Christian? Only in a roundabout way, Mr.
He talked about his faith, and how grateful he was to find salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ.
He never admitted to you that he murdered Justin Leonard? No.
So you didn't know that he killed him because he was an African-American? Even so, if Bruce now accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, I'd still embrace him.
Did you kill Justin Leonard? Yes, I did.
Can you tell us what happened after you shot him, Bruce? I went back to my apartment.
I had a bottle of bourbon, and I started drinking until I passed out.
I woke up the next day in a pool of my own vomit.
And then I remembered what I'd done.
Luh I went outside, and I walked to one of the piers on the Hudson River.
Why, Bruce? To decide whether to throw myself into the river, or turn myself in.
I sat there and stared at the water, and I decided.
The river was my only way out.
That's when I heard church bells off in the distance.
I stopped.
And I listened.
It was Jesus calling me back from the edge of that pier.
And at that moment, I turned toward Him and never looked back.
May I ask a question? As you sit here today, Mr.
Elwin, how do you feel about what you did to Justin Leonard? What I did and what I felt was evil.
The hate that was inside me, that was because I kept Jesus out of my soul.
After you had this epiphany, Mr.
Elwin, why didn't you turn yourself in? I thought the police would come for me.
I I called in sick, and I just sat in my apartment, day after day.
I prayed.
And I waited for that knock on the door, but it never came.
Then I realized, the Lord had other plans for me.
That's when I quit my job, and dedicated my life to serving Christ.
A righteous man would have admitted his crime.
Why'd you wait nine years? I just put myself into Christ's hands, and He sends me where He sends me.
You read the Bible? Most days.
Do you adhere to what it teaches about murder and retribution? Thou shalt not kill, an eye for an eye.
Yes, those are part of my beliefs.
So you believe you should be punished for the sin you committed? That's not for me to say.
All I can tell you is I let Jesus Christ into my heart, and asked Him for salvation.
Did Jesus direct you to file a motion to dismiss the murder charge against you? I'm not some kind of nut, Mr.
The Calvary Hill Foundation hired Ms.
Weiss to represent me.
Once she knew all the facts, she had this idea.
To change! Your plea of guilty to murder, into a motion, to excuse you from all the consequences? I know it doesn't sound logical to you.
"When the Lord closes the door, he opens a window.
" God works in mysterious ways, Mr.
You don't need to convince me, Mr.
It's not easy to cross examine a true believer, Jack.
Religion's one thing.
But to invoke it as a mantra to avoid personal responsibility Mantra or not, Judge Proctor seemed riveted.
Excuse me.
Is he gonna get away with killin' my son? Not if I can help it, sir.
I believe in God too, Mr.
I try to forgive, I just don't have it in me.
I wish there was something I could say besides I'm sorry.
No offense, but I've been hearing "sorry" all morning.
How about "don't do it in the first place"? Elwin's the last of the defense witnesses.
I wonder why they're not calling his sister? She didn't give the cops a DNA sample.
Maybe she isn't atrue believer in her brother.
Let's hit her with a subpoena.
Bruce and I didn't know any African-Americans growing up in New Hampshire.
So how did he react when you started dating Justin Leonard? He asked how serious it was.
I told Bruce that I was in love with him.
How did your brother respond? I don't remember.
He's admitted to killing Justin because he was black, Mrs.
Harvard, he must have said something? I guess maybe he did.
Well, what did he say? He said that He said that he didn't want me to waste my life.
Waste it how? Waste it how, Mrs.
Harvard? To waste it on To waste it on a black guy.
Was that the language he used? No.
He He used another word.
Do I have to say it? So after saying what he said, and doing what he did, do you honestly believe your brother is different now? Yes.
Imean, I I--- He called me from jail to say how sorry he was.
And you accepted his apology? I did.
I really want to.
But how can you know what's in another person's heart? No one could argue with a straight face that Bruce's faith and rehabilitation aren't sincere.
So here's the $64,000 question, Judge.
Will the law recognize his rebirth in Jesus Christ? Or is it too scary to acknowledge that there's a higher moral authority than what's written in a lawbook somewhere? Bruce Elwin rendered himself unto the very power we openly acknowledge is the inspiration, even the source, of our legal institutions.
God is woven into the fabric of our laws.
Our legislative and our judicial bodies open their sessions with prayer.
Witnesses who come into this courtroom are asked to swear on a Bible.
Over your head, Judge, higher than the law itself, is a simple statement, "In God We Trust".
Is that just lip service? Let's put our money where our mouth is.
Look at what God's done for Bruce Elwin.
Can the justice of men do better? Is Ms.
Weiss serious? If you really, really, really turn to God, you can murder someone and walk away with a clean slate? That doesn't put Mr.
Elwin in line with any higher moral authority I'm aware of.
It places him above the law.
We can all acknowledge the existence of a higher moral authority! We see it in action, when our collective conscience compels us to reject unjust or immoral laws! But while our actions may be guided by our faith, we deliberately don't conduct them under the guise of religion.
Our founders left "God" out of the Constitution, not for lack of faith among them, but because of what they knew about the toxic combination of state and religious power.
So, if Mr.
Elwin, regards his prosecution for a hate murder as unjust or immoral, let him present his arguments without the cloak of religion.
To that, the People say the defendant's virtuous conduct after Justin Leonard's murder should be a factor in his sentencing.
But to dismiss this case outright, would be a miscarriage of justice that contradicts more than 200 years of American jurisprudence.
If you kill someone, Mr.
Elwin, you have to answer to the State first.
And to Justin Leonard, and his family.
And then, hopefully, some day, to your Maker.
I commend the defendant for using his religion and remorse for his heinous conduct as a fulcrum to change his life.
I believe his transformation is heartfelt and sincere.
Nevertheless, for the reasons stated by Mr.
McCoy, I'm denying the defendant's motion to dismiss the murder charge in the interests of justice.
Let's set a trial date.
(GAVEL FALLS) Unless the defendant wants to "put his money where his mouth is".
No, this is going to ajury.
Don't you wanna hear my offer? I know you, Jack, I know it's not gonna be anywhere in the ballpark.
Then you know I'll do everything in my power to keep you from jamming this defense in through jury nullification.
Well, you can't stop me from calling lots of character witnesses.
Back door's as good as the front.
This is a sign.
Bruce, please.
I murdered him, and I'll plead guilty.
Do that and you'll spend the rest of your life in jail, Bruce.
If that's what the Lord wants.
There's only one way for me to be at peace with Jesus now.
And it's to pay for what I've done.
I'll, uh, I'll call the Judge, I'll let her know.
Too bad.
Way things are goin' in this country, I could've hung the jury.
Next time, Wendy.
I'm just curious, Jack.
What were you going to offer? I was considering going as low as man one, praise the Lord.