Law & Order (1990) s19e04 Episode Script

Falling

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.
Carlos, get some help with that, buddy.
Are you in charge here? At the moment.
I live in the building across the street, and the jack-hammering at 2:00 a.
m.
, it has to stop.
Okay, I'll pass it on.
You want to give him a hand with those bags, please? Yeah, I'm sure you'll pass it on.
ROB: What more am I supposed to do? The guy you talked to said he'd pass it on.
He only said that to get rid of me.
Gee, I wonder why he'd want to say that.
Excuse me? It was a joke, a totally lame joke.
No, Rob, it wasn't (RUMBLING) (GLASS SHATTERING) Oh, my God, the crane! (LOUD THUD) (SIRENS WAILING) (MEN YELLING) (CHATTERING OVER POLICE RADIO) GARY: His name's Carlos.
Carlos Lazaro.
Was he operating the crane? No.
Nobody was using the crane.
He must've just been walking by.
LUPO: What about Carlos' next of kin? His wife, she's sick in the hospital.
The rest of his family, I don't know.
He's from the Dominican Republic.
CINDY: Mr.
Hardy, what went through your head when you got the call about today's crane collapse? This is the greatest tragedy ever to happen to the Hardy Organization.
Everyone at the Hardy is committed to safety, and this site was no exception.
I'm Wayne Hardy.
This is my project.
I'm Detective Lupo, this is Detective Bernard, we're Homicide with the two-seven.
Homicide? What do we need homicide detectives for? You don't, but he does.
And until we know what happened, sir, this is a crime scene.
(INAUDIBLE) This kind of thing never happens on a Hardy project.
I build luxury condominiums.
Premium materials, premium workmanship top to bottom.
Right, I've read your ads.
Who was running your site this morning? You met him, the junior foreman, Gary Talbot.
Mr.
Nolan, it says here in your final bid for this project that you were going to use a T-65 crane.
That's right.
That one out there looks to be a T-35.
That's a lot smaller, isn't it? LUPO: T-35, he's right.
Turns out the job needed a smaller crane, so that's what we used.
And that's what we billed for, Mr.
Hardy.
You can check the invoices.
I don't need to see the invoices.
This is my fifth project with Carl.
Hmm.
This is our first.
So, you don't mind, we'll take those invoices.
NOLAN: You know, I use T-35s all the time, and this one was 100% safe.
But don't take my word for it.
The city inspector said so, too.
Twenty-three years I'm inspecting sites in this city, never had a serious injury on my watch and now this.
Homicide detectives to boot.
Just standard procedure, Mr.
O'Connor.
There was nothing wrong with that crane.
I got all the papers right here.
All right, take your time.
We're not going anywhere.
The Buildings Department said they logged over two dozen complaints about that site.
You followed up on less than half of them? Well, it was always the same thing.
Noise complaints from the neighbors about some night work at the site.
I issued three separate violations.
Yeah, and the complaints kept coming? Didn't that tell you something? There were no safety issues at that site, okay? This was a freak accident.
The crane was anchored to the building with steel collars on the sixth, ninth, twelfth and fifteenth floors.
When the collars failed, the crane came down.
Okay.
Do we have any idea which one failed first? Uh, yeah.
This one on the ninth floor, the point of greatest stress.
Once it went, the rest of them popped like buttons on a shirt.
So why'd this one fail? Uh, well, this might've something to do with it.
The T-35 has a load bearing capacity of six tons per lift.
These work logs show it lifting six and a half, seven, even eight tons.
An average of 7.
96 tons per lift.
You do that long enough Yeah, something's got to give.
Overloading the crane, running nightshifts, sounds like someone was in a hurry to finish that building.
Well, yeah, time is money.
BERNARD: So, maybe it was worth a little money to have somebody look the other way.
The forensic accountant is very anxious to talk to you.
Great.
After a morning of forensic engineering, nothing beats a little forensic accounting.
BERNARD: Hey, what you got? Gentlemen, hold on to your hats.
These petty cash receipts don't add up.
The petty cash that the construction company keeps in a safe on the site.
Last week it was short $3,660.
The week before that, short $5,700.
If somebody was getting bribed, maybe that money was coming from here.
Who was in charge of the petty cash? Foreman Gary Talbot.
GARY: You can't receipt every out-of-pocket expense on a $200 million building.
And anyway, I'm not the only one with access to the petty cash.
The night shift has its own foreman.
We noticed you guys were pulling a lot of overtime on top of the night shifts.
You under a lot of pressure to finish the job? Yeah.
There's always pressure.
What about these seven and eight ton loads on the T-35? Oh.
The crane wasn't my area.
But I can tell you that whatever we did on that site, we got written approvals from the inspector every step of the way.
Where would we find those approvals? I got them.
I got copies of everything.
I've been in construction long enough to know it's a pass-the-buck kind of business.
Uh-huh.
Honey, can you come and help me with Lacy? Sure.
My daughter.
That's fine.
Guy's right.
Faxes from the city inspector, approving the nightshifts, heavier loads.
BERNARD: Check this out.
The number that this was faxed from doesn't match the number on the cover sheet.
6-3-1 area code.
A city inspector faxing from the Hamptons, on a weekday afternoon.
Nice work if you can get it.
Can we help you with those? Uh, no, it's okay.
Get back in the house with your mother.
Go on.
Friend of my wife's family lent us the place for the week, but now it's, you know, time to get back to the real world.
That friend.
It wouldn't happen to be Hudson River Rentals, would it? Because they said your wife took a three-month lease at $15,000 a month.
Nice ride, fancy boarding school for your daughter My partner and I, we're starting to think that we got the wrong city job.
LUPO: Hmm.
Come on, guys.
Can't we do this tomorrow? Nah.
Turn around.
I spent 20 years watching guys take bribes and get promoted while doing it.
That's not me.
Right.
You is the guy that took bribes, but never made it to supervisor.
Eddie, you have 200,000 in expenses that we can trace back to you.
And no legitimate income to cover it.
And now there's a body.
I just wanted I never meant Yeah, remorse is good, Eddie.
Remorse with a confession is even better.
Or this crane thing falls on you.
(SIGHS) Nolan, the contractor, he's the one who first approached me about approving the smaller crane and the heavier loads.
Who made the payments? The foreman.
Talbot? No, the night foreman.
Talbot wasn't in the loop.
Who else was? The big guy, Wayne Hardy.
He offered to make sure I got assigned to his next project if this one came in on time.
(SIGHS) What do you think about these charges? Biggest miscarriage of justice.
(TV MUTED) I pity his cellmates.
Something's not adding up.
The missing money from the petty cash what we thought the night foreman was using to bribe O'Connor? The night foreman said he used money he got straight from Nolan.
Maybe the petty cash was being used to pay off someone else.
Well, these two have to be arraigned by tomorrow, and you know how the D.
A.
Hates surprises.
"Who needs math?" I told my teachers, I'm going to be a cop.
Don't feel bad.
I said the same thing about biology and I spend half my life looking at autopsies.
Here.
The contents of the pockets of that crane fatality.
BERNARD: Carlos Lazaro.
I've been trying to track down his next to kin.
Let me tell you, directory assistance in the Dominican Republic is just as screwed up as here.
Wait, isn't his wife in a hospital in Queens? Yeah, but she's non-responsive, some sort of coma.
I can relate.
My wife's nonresponsive, too.
Good night, fellas.
If I ever start talking like that, shoot me.
Lupes, it's the hospital bill for the care of Mr.
Lazaro's wife.
Check out the record of payments.
Got one for $3,660, and another one for $5,700.
The same amounts missing from the petty cash.
Yeah, that money was in a safe in the construction office.
Hard to believe a day laborer like Carlos could get away with that.
That leaves the foreman Gary Talbot.
You buy him as some kind of Robin Hood, stealing to help Carlos? No, no, no, no, no.
Nobody's that nice, not even Robin Hood.
There's been no change since they brought her in four weeks ago.
My first thought was an overdose, but her tox panel came back clean.
So how did Mrs.
Lazaro end up in a coma? Well, I found chlorine in her lung tissue, so my best guess is she drowned.
Are you sure? The 911 printout said her husband came home from work and found her passed out in the living room.
This was a dry drowning.
It's basically a delayed reaction drowning.
The patient inhales water not enough to kill them right then and there, but it starts this chain reaction in the lungs which, absent medical intervention, ultimately results in death, or as with Mrs.
Lazaro, a persistent coma.
So during this chain reaction, she's what, walking around like normal? Walking around, yes.
Normal, no.
Her behavior would've become increasingly erratic until she lost consciousness.
Can you pinpoint exactly when she inhaled the chlorinated water? My best guess is it happened 10, 12 hours before she landed in my E.
R.
Dr.
Graber, Dr.
Kellen is looking for you.
Good luck.
All right.
Thanks.
So sad about her husband.
He was here every day after work.
Every day.
He ever talk about how she might've drowned? No.
She ever have any friends visit her? Her neighbors, the first week.
Since then it's just been her husband and sometimes this guy Gary.
Gary? How often does he come? Every week.
Thursdays.
Late.
He says he's a family friend.
It's such a shame.
Amelia's so beautiful.
Thursdays are when the payments were made for her care.
Robin Hood or Robin Creep.
You know, if Talbot was stealing to pay for her hospital bills, maybe he had something to do with putting her here.
Guilt makes people do extraordinary things.
BERNARD: All due respect, Lieu.
, nice as you are, I just don't see you stealing from the company till to pay for my wife's hospital care, assuming I had a wife.
Who said I was nice? (DETECTIVES CHUCKLING) So, what are we suspecting? Talbot had something to do with this woman's near drowning? Maybe they had a lot more to do with each other.
So, now, we have Talbot and Carlos's wife having an affair.
They're kicking back in the motel hot tub, maybe one of them starts making plans for the future.
Things got ugly from there.
BERNARD: Amelia ends up in the hospital with a lung full of water while Talbot ends up with a heart full of remorse.
So the crane falling on Carlos had nothing to do with this.
Not unless Talbot pulled the crane down on top of him.
These are two unrelated crimes.
So one of them was just a swimming accident.
Listen, Talbot is an important witness against the city inspector, and the D.
A.
Doesn't want us messing with that case.
You telling us to bury this? Open a new one.
First item, search Lazaro's home.
I've never seen Amelia with any man except Carlos.
No other man.
She loved him.
So, did you see her the day she got sick? Sí, in the elevator.
I thought she was drunk, she didn't remember what floor she living.
She said she don't feel so good, so I tell her go to a doctor.
(PAGER BEEPING) Amelia ever go swimming? No.
I think Amelia is afraid of the water.
Yeah? Why do you think that? Well, there is this pool over here in the park.
(LAUGHS) It's not deep, it's for kids.
One time the wind take her hat into the water.
She was afraid to go in.
She ask my son to get it.
(PAGER BEEPING) I have to go.
(DOOR CLOSES) Hey, Lupes, you got Talbot's number on you? Is that Amelia's phone? Yeah, a prepaid no ID cell phone, with two numbers in the address book.
One for Carlos and the other for Talbot.
How cozy.
I don't know about the missing money.
It probably went in that city inspector's pocket.
No, no, no.
See, we know where it went.
It all matches up.
The missing money and the money that you paid to the hospital.
That I paid? The nurses recognized you, Gary.
All right, look.
Carlos was having a hard time and they were talking about shipping Amelia back to her own country Don't even waste your breath, because we found this adorable little phone in Amelia's purse.
It's prepaid, no ID, untraceable.
Perfect for people having extramarital affairs.
No.
I love my wife.
That's it.
I'm not talking to you guys anymore.
We know the truly involved parties are either dead or in a coma, on even how well Talbot covered his tracks.
It's going to be hard proving he was having an affair.
There's always Talbot's wife.
Every morning's the same.
Gary would've been helping me with Lacy.
But Tuesday, four weeks ago, how would I remember? That was the day that the wife of one of your husband's employees was found in a coma.
Amelia Lazaro.
That name mean anything to you? Amelia Lazaro? Why are you asking? Because your husband's number was found on her phone.
Yeah, I gave her that phone, with our number programmed on it.
And why would you do that? Because she worked for us a few days a week, helping out with Lacy.
Any reason your husband wouldn't have mentioned that to us? Amelia doesn't have any papers.
We were paying her under the table.
Did you know that your husband was visiting her in the hospital? Well, why wouldn't he? She worked for us.
Well, we think your husband was paying for her medical bills with the money he was stealing from his work.
You see, in our experience, that goes above and beyond what someone would do for an employee, unless there was something else going on between them.
I don't know what you mean.
She just helped us out with our daughter, that's all.
If you don't mind, I have to take Lacy to the doctor.
Oh, these are water-wings, right? That's what they're called.
They're cute.
You You take your daughter swimming? It's water therapy.
Water therapy.
That means Talbot has access to a pool, which may be where the chlorinated water in Amelia's lungs came from.
BERNARD: Except Talbot alibis for the 12 hours before Amelia dropped into a coma.
He was pulling double shifts at Wayne Hardy's luxury salt mine.
Well, that leaves Mrs.
Talbot.
She may have gotten into it with Amelia if she suspected her husband was cheating on her.
It might not have been the first time.
A divorce petition Gary Talbot filed last year.
It was withdrawn a couple of months later.
Sounds like this guy was just itching to get out of his marriage.
Mmm-hmm.
And Sandra knew damn well why.
Well, the question is, can we put Sandra with Amelia on the day she went into a coma? LUPO: We can do better than that.
9:26 a.
m.
, Sandra charged two MetroCards at the 86th and Lex station, near their apartment.
Two MetroCards, one for her and Lacy, the other for Amelia.
There you go.
Half an hour later there's a purchase at a deli on Union Square.
And 90 minutes after that, a charge at a drugstore at 18th and Park.
An hour and a half in a three block radius.
Is there a swimming pool there? LUPO: Right.
The Michael Phelps wannabes clear out by 10:00.
Mrs.
Talbot had permission to bring her daughter in between 10:00 and 11:00, when there was nobody here to complain about the kid screeching.
What about this woman? You ever see her with them? Sure.
Yeah, the maid, the helper, whatever.
She didn't like the water, so she'd stand on the edge of the pool, hand Mrs.
Talbot towels, help the little girl in and out of the wheelchair, things like that.
Do you remember the last time that they were here? Maybe about four weeks ago? Sure.
Yeah, the helper fell in the pool.
How did that happen? I I didn't see.
I was here, I heard some arguing and then a big splash.
What was the argument about? I can't hear anything from in here, way too much echo bouncing off the tiles.
That big splash, could it have been the little girl or Mrs.
Talbot? I guess it could've been, but when I went out to the pool, they were bone dry and the helper was standing there soaked and crying, so you tell me.
Nobody saw Sandra Talbot push her in the pool.
Yeah, but there's circumstantial evidence, there was a big splash, Amelia was soaking wet.
And everybody knew she was afraid of water, so it's not like she just dove in.
Well, even if Mrs.
Talbot pushed her in, she got out and walked away.
Yeah, but it doesn't matter.
If she hadn't been pushed into the pool in the first place, she wouldn't be in a coma right now.
It's attempted murder.
Mrs.
Talbot, you're under arrest What are you doing? for the murder of Amelia Lazaro.
She didn't do anything.
Hey! LUPO: It's time to go.
It's okay, baby.
I'll take care of this.
Lacy, Mommy will be right back.
Mr.
Talbot, stand back.
No! Mr.
Talbot.
She's done nothing! Mommy will be right back, okay, honey? I'll take care of her, baby.
It's okay.
Don't worry.
Honey.
"Docket number 42641.
"People v.
Sandra Talbot.
Attempted murder in the Second Degree, "Assault in the First Degree.
" We plead not guilty and request ROR.
For a Class A1 felony? This was a slip-and-fall.
Well, Mr.
Goodwin can argue that to a jury.
Your Honor, my client's nine-year-old daughter has static encephalopathy.
She can't move, eat, or go to the bathroom without assistance.
My client's husband has to work to support the family, there is no other help.
My client needs to be home.
She put her caretaker in a coma and now she begs mercy because she has no caretaker? You both overshot the mark, counselors.
Bail is set at $200,000.
Next up.
You know 200 grand's out of their reach.
Well, then lower your retainer.
You have no eyeball witness, a motive you can't prove, and a link between the alleged act and the victim's coma that's more science fiction than medical fact.
What are you looking for? Assault two, suspended sentence.
Assault one.
She does five years.
The whole idea of a plea is to keep Mrs.
Talbot with her daughter.
Our idea is to give Amelia Lazaro justice.
Your client knew about the affair and she tried to drown the other woman.
Now, she has to answer for that.
Our first pretrial discovery request.
An application for all evidence the police seized from the pool.
See you.
From a crane collapse to a jealous wife.
The cops just followed the facts.
This is where they led us.
To a crime with no witnesses and no forensic evidence.
Not quite.
The defense asked us to produce a float pole from the pool.
I had the police check it, and they found Sandra's prints on one end of the pole and Amelia's partials on the other.
Her lawyer's going to argue Sandra used the pole to fish Amelia out of the water after pushing her in.
It's mitigation.
It's worse than that.
They'll argue renunciation.
Sandra Talbot had a change of heart after trying to drown Amelia.
She could get away scot free.
Renunciation's no defense if it's motivated by a fear of getting caught.
Amelia didn't drown right away.
Sandra was worried somebody'd walk in, so she fished her out.
Good luck proving that.
Gary Talbot is a key witness in our crane case.
Try not to muddy that up.
We need to retrace Sandra and Amelia's steps after they left the Rec Center, find anyone they talked to.
I already told the police what I know.
We talked to other people who saw Amelia that day.
A subway employee from the 96th street station said that she was having trouble breathing.
Like I told the police, she was sick.
The police also said you told her to go to see a doctor.
Yes.
That's what she should have done.
That's what I don't understand, Mrs.
Escobedo, why didn't she? I don't know.
She was confused.
So you noticed that she was in trouble, and of course offered to call 911 for her.
Didn't you? She didn't want no help.
You said she was confused.
Why would you listen to her? She say her boss tell her don't go to the doctor.
She say her boss tell her La migra.
La migra.
So I listen to her.
Maybe I was wrong.
Sandra pulled her out of the pool.
That's renunciation.
Penal Code Section 4010.
"Renunciation must be complete.
" Simply put, Mrs.
Talbot, your lawyer can't argue renunciation if you talked Amelia out of seeing a doctor.
SANDRA: I'm heartbroken about Amelia.
If I really thought that she really needed a doctor Look, Sandra can't go to prison.
Please.
What if What if my client was covering for someone? I'm listening.
Their daughter is on anti-spasm pills, but she didn't get her meds that morning.
She spasmed and kicked Amelia into the pool.
An accident? Then why hide it? The Talbots receive thousands in city aid for Lacy's care.
If they're negligent, that aid can be revoked.
They'd have to institutionalize her.
Stop it right now.
Lacy's been through so much.
I won't victimize her to help myself.
I can't.
The truth right now or she takes her chances with a jury.
Amelia and I argued about Gary.
I got angry, I pushed her, but I swear I wasn't trying to kill her.
I just If I could take it all back, I My daughter's a sick little girl who needs her mother.
Don't take me away from her, please.
I'm begging you.
Assault two.
Suspended sentence, provided a portion of Gary's salary goes to Amelia's long-term care.
And Mrs.
Talbot will allocute.
I think we can all live with that.
Suspended sentence? Pushover.
SANDRA: I confronted Amelia about Gary.
We began to argue.
Amelia admitted that she and Gary had been together.
I lost my temper.
I pushed her into the pool.
Knowing she couldn't swim.
Yes.
She was struggling in the water.
I got scared.
I helped her out.
And what did you do? I told her to leave my family, my husband, alone.
All right.
Mr.
Cutter, are the People satisfied? Mr.
Cutter? Judge, permission to inquire? Mrs.
Talbot, how did you learn about the affair? Amelia Amelia was giving Lacy a bath.
She left her phone in the kitchen.
It started to ring.
I saw it was Gary.
He left her a message.
I'd given her the phone, I'd programmed it, I knew the code for the voicemail, so I I found the message.
He was meeting her after work.
So you confronted her that day? No.
Then the next day? You confronted Amelia the next day? Yes.
When you took Lacy to the pool? Yes.
GOODWIN: Your Honor, is there a point to this examination.
She's already admitted Your Honor, at this point the People are withdrawing their plea offer and stand ready for trial.
But we have a deal.
Had a deal, Mr.
Goodwin.
It's the District Attorney's prerogative.
Give it a date, Freddie.
(GAVEL BANGS) Pushover, my ass.
Pulling the plug in the middle of an allocution, I hope you didn't snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
We checked Amelia's cell phone records.
There was no call from Gary Talbot that day, or any other day.
But the night before Amelia drowned, she made a call to a Dr.
Lucas Ziering.
He's an endocrinologist.
It was a one minute call.
It was after hours, she left a message.
And? And the next morning Sandra Talbot got a call from Dr.
Ziering.
She was on the phone for 20 minutes.
An hour later she shoved Amelia into the pool.
And you think something about that call upset Sandra? I just don't think she tried to kill her over an affair.
(KNOCKING ON DOOR) I turned up a police report filed by Doctor Ziering, about anonymous threats left on his office voicemail.
It's dated at two weeks before Amelia was pushed into the pool.
Maybe that's what Amelia's call to Ziering was about, she was leaving another threat.
A threat about what? Bird in the hand, Mike.
Next time a defendant wants to plead guilty, let them.
AMELIA OVER PHONE: This is for Dr.
Ziering.
What you are doing to Lacy Talbot is against God's plan.
You cannot change her nature.
It's evil and you will burn in hell if you do this.
Lacy's mom recognized their caretaker's voice.
I I told Sandra that if these calls persisted, I could no longer treat their daughter, and she said she would speak to the caretaker.
What did she mean, changing Lacy's nature? How were you treating her? The Talbots approached me about restricting their daughter's physical development.
Meaning what? Estrogen therapy to permanently stunt the child's growth.
And the removal of her breast buds, womb and ovaries, so that her sexual organs never mature.
Surgery and drugs to keep her a child? Is this treatment approved? It's very controversial.
In fact, I'm not the first doctor that the Talbots came to.
They're desperately concerned about their daughter's welfare.
I told them that they have to be discreet, or we're going to get these kooks butting in.
What happened after you got another call? I told Mrs.
Talbot that I could no longer provide Lacy's treatment.
CONNIE: How did she react? She begged me to reconsider.
But I I couldn't.
I just couldn't risk the publicity.
She became furious, started screaming at me, and I had to hang up on her.
It I'd hoped that she would understand.
Don't worry, Doctor, I think she found someone else to vent her anger on.
I got nothing to say to you.
Right now, we need you to listen.
We told you There was no affair.
It was about your daughter.
Amelia interfered, she threatened your doctor.
I don't want to talk about this.
Well, somebody needs to talk to us if your wife expects any leniency.
Why? So you can scare off the next doctor who'd even consider helping us? My little girl will never walk or talk.
And if she grows up in this condition Right now, she's an angel.
She's our little angel.
We can't imagine what it's like, the strain it must put on your marriage.
We also know you filed for divorce last year.
GARY: Yeah.
I looked down the road and it was all black.
Everything would get worse the older she got.
And I couldn't handle it.
We worked through it.
Is that when you came up with the idea for this treatment, to keep her a child? I think you should leave now.
Mr.
Talbot, I would We do not need your condemnation or anybody else's.
This is our private business, so you just butt out.
We traced a payment the Talbots made right before Sandra was arrested to a Dr.
Connor Dunning at Emmanuel Children's Hospital.
I think she lined up another doctor to do this operation on their daughter.
That explains why Mrs.
Talbot won't speak the truth in open court.
Their first doctor got skittish.
She doesn't want to scare off this one.
I'm moving to stop the procedure.
On what basis? It's an assault on a handicapped child.
CONNIE: I don't know if I would go that far.
What would you call disfiguring this poor kid, tearing out her uterus, forcing hormones into her veins to stunt her growth? I mean, look, I've read up on this, I talked to doctors.
No one knows what the long-term effects are, assuming Lacy even lives to find out, because the hormones might cause a blood clot that kills her.
The procedure's not medically necessary, it's all for the parents' convenience, to save their marriage.
What does any of this have to do with our prosecution of Sandra Talbot? One assault's to cover another, this one on a child.
It's all part of the same criminal enterprise.
It's a stretch.
She was ready to plead.
CUTTER: On false grounds.
You're splitting hairs.
What, so we don't have an obligation to pursue the truth? Lacy Talbot's treatment isn't our concern.
We have a victim.
Amelia Lazaro.
If Mrs.
Talbot doesn't want to come clean, empanel a jury.
But this office focuses on established crimes.
We're amending the complaint to add a charge of conspiracy to assault Lacy Talbot, unindicted coconspirator, Gary Talbot.
Overt act, payment for the surgery.
Mike, were you not here when Jack said focus on established crimes? If the judge buys my argument that the operation is a crime, then Jack won't have anything to complain about, will he? You just want to stop them from doing this procedure on their daughter.
I don't have kids, and I am not in the Talbots' shoes, but I'm not convinced.
Stick around.
Mister Cutter tanked a plea and now he realizes his case is a loser, so he trumps up a charge that Mrs.
Talbot is trying to assault her child.
It's a legitimate charge based on newly discovered facts.
GOODWIN: These facts don't even come close to establishing an assault.
They establish that there's a plan to cause serious injury to a child.
Mr.
Cutter, I agree the procedure's ethically questionable.
That does not mean it's a crime.
But I will give you a chance to change my mind.
The procedure's untested.
It's benefits are highly speculative.
The surgery will be painful for Lacy and the recovery long.
And complications from the estrogen therapy can't be discounted.
Dr.
Peller, are there other reasons why your hospital's ethics committee refused to sanction this procedure? It's a slippery slope.
Keeping Lacy small might make her easier to care for.
But then why not amputate her legs to make her more portable? Remove her larynx to stop her from crying? So you're saying that the convenience of the parents shouldn't be a relevant factor? In my opinion, it is clearly outweighed by the dignity anyone, especially a disabled child must be accorded.
She needs love, not surgery.
Before I agreed to perform the procedure, I spent hours with the Talbots watching them interact with Lacy.
Their commitment to her quality of life and their love for her is obvious.
But removal of her breasts, uterus and ovaries seems unwarranted, doesn't it? Actually, no.
Lacy's never going to give birth, breastfeed or have sex, so those organs are unnecessary.
And removing them eliminates the potential for cancer or emotional confusion.
Dr.
Dunning, would you say that medicine's role is to cure sickness? Well, that's one formulation.
But that's not what this procedure does, right? There's nothing wrong with Lacy Talbot's sex organs requiring their removal.
Nothing inherently dangerous about her growing into an adult.
The procedure doesn't address sickness by that narrow definition, no.
But Thank you.
Money's tight.
Part-time help for Lacy is all we can afford.
Since we can't pay the going rates, the people we use aren't properly trained.
How much does your daughter's care and treatment cost you a month? Nearly $6,000.
The city chips in about $2,000 a year.
We're out of pocket on the rest because Medicaid won't pay unless we put her in an institution.
Is that an option you've considered? Absolutely not.
We're a family and families stay together no matter what.
And I know without the round-the-clock care we give her, she can't survive.
Would you ever intentionally harm Lacy? No.
I'd die for my daughter.
If you had a million dollars to pay for caretakers, would you still consider this procedure for Lacy? Yes.
It's going to improve her life.
And yours, too, right? It'll reduce your workload.
Make her easier to lift, to feed? It's about keeping our angel where she belongs at home and in the arms of the family that loves her.
By keeping her small.
But if she matures into a grown woman, then you'll have other inconvenient things to worry about, her menstruation, her sexuality No, it's not about those things.
She won't be so cute and cuddly anymore.
It's not about that.
We won't be able to care for her at home, we won't be able to bring her with us, to include her You'd need more caretakers, special equipment, a bigger home.
Yes.
It would be too expensive.
Yes.
We couldn't do it.
But you wouldn't want Lacy to grow up even if you had all the money in the world.
You'd still put her through this procedure.
That's what you just said.
You wouldn't feel the same way about her if she grew up, would you? It's easier to love her now, when she's small, like a doll.
Isn't it? (SOBBING) I love her, I do love her.
My angel All right, Mrs.
Talbot, you're excused.
I have no doubt the Talbots are motivated by love and concern for Lacy.
On the other hand, Mr.
Cutter has demonstrated that this inquiry cannot begin and end with a parent's intentions.
On balance, the court is not satisfied the elements of assault on the child have been made out.
The motion to amend the complaint is denied.
I hope that now the parties can reach an agreement on a plea settlement.
Goodwin has agreed to a meeting.
I got to tell you, Mike.
I think the judge made the right call.
Ever since she pushed Amelia into that pool, Sandra Talbot's done nothing but lie and obfuscate.
And now her reward's a green light to maim her child? It's not our business anymore.
Besides, there are no clean hands here.
Sometimes it's hard to know where justice is, but you have to do something.
You just have to try and save who you can save.
Assault two, suspended sentence, five years probation.
Same terms for Amelia Lazaro's care.
And there's more.
I want her agreement that she won't consent to the procedure with her daughter.
Like hell we will.
He can't do that, can he? No, he can't.
Mr.
Cutter, are you kidding me? Take it or leave it, Mrs.
Talbot.
Or we go to trial and you go to prison.
I can't be away from her.
You want to tell me what this is? I'm guessing you already know.
No operation.
No hormone therapy.
You've attached an illegal stipulation to a plea.
You violated Mrs.
Talbot's rights.
The judge will repudiate this document.
I can sell him on it.
I'm repudiating it.
You've gone completely off the reservation here.
Just imitating the master.
People v.
Willach, the Munchausen-by-proxy case.
Did you forget you made enforced sterilization a condition of a plea for a woman who killed her babies? I remember.
I also remember the judge reaming me out for it.
He was right.
You followed your instincts.
I'm following mine.
It's what we both get paid for.
You get paid to follow orders.
The court didn't buy the argument the Talbots are assaulting their daughter, it's time to turn the page, Mike.
I have an executed plea agreement.
I'm moving forward.
You want to take the case away, that's your call.
I have real reservations about this stipulation, Mr.
Cutter.
Parents' control and care of their children is a right protected under the 14th Amendment.
That right isn't absolute.
It gives way to a compelling State interest, like protecting a minor.
I believe I have already ruled on that, Mr.
Cutter.
You ruled that the operation isn't a crime.
That doesn't mean the State still can't take an interest in stopping it.
Mr.
McCoy? Permission to approach? I've just been made aware of the substance of the plea agreement in this matter.
Then you know it attempts to impose a questionable stipulation.
My office doesn't sanction that stipulation and we'll remove it.
I'd like to apologize to the Court and Mrs.
Talbot for this error in judgment.
BRADLEY: With the removal of the stipulation, the court has no objection to this plea agreement.
We may proceed with the allocution.
People v.
Willach.
I overstepped back then.
One day you'll thank me for yanking your leash, Mike.
Sometimes I wish someone had been there to yank mine.