Soap opera star Sofia Archer is on an early morning walk with her husband Sean, her daughter Agatha, her adopted child Christopher Mogae, and the child's nanny, Mary Calvin. The Archers and Calvin are all white, and Christopher is black. Sofia is taking care to make sure that no one sees or photographs Christopher. Sofia, Calvin, and Agatha enter an ice cream store, where the clerk recognizes Sofia and her baby — Sofia's celebrity status was enhanced when she adopted Christopher from the impoverished African country of Mumoono. Sofia tries to get Agatha some ice cream as the clerk pesters her to be the first to see Christopher, but they stop when they all hear Sean getting into an argument outside. He is shot by an unseen assailant and crashes backwards through the window of the ice cream shop. The baby is unharmed, but Sean is dead. A uniformed officer tells the detectives that Sofia went to a hospital to be treated for shock, and Calvin, Agatha, and Christopher were taken home. No one saw the shooter, or anything besides Sean getting shot. Green muses to Cassidy that the shooting might have been a failed kidnapping; there was a lot of press surrounding the adoption. When the officer tells them that Calvin noted that this was one of the first times that the baby was out in public since the adoption, Green notes that this probably isn't a coincidence. At Sofia's luxurious home, Sofia tells the detectives that Sean was a good man who died protecting their child. Green and Cassidy wonder if there had been any threats, as the adoption got so much bad press, but neither Sofia nor Calvin took the bad press seriously.
"A lot of human rights organizations, children's rights groups, brought it up looking for press and donations; when the cameras were gone, so were they."Sofia exposits that the press mostly accused her of adopting Christopher for her career, as other celebrities like Madonna had also recently adopted babies from Africa. Calvin says that everything was above-board and legal. Even the President of Munmoono supported the adoption, as did the baby's father, Ephraim Mogae.
"I mean, he knew this was the only way his son would have a decent life."Green asks if Sean had enemies. After some hesitation, Sofia is prodded by Calvin into bringing up a John Brody. Sofia doesn't think that Brody has the courage to kill someone, but Calvin explains that Sean just got back from shooting a film in Gibralter, and he was sleeping with Darla Brody, John's wife. Cassidy is surprised that Sofia is so nonchalant about this, but Sofia says that they had an open relationship. She cautions them not to tell anyone about this, but does admit that Brody was ruined by the affair. In a shabby apartment that is overstuffed with personal possessions, Brody tells the detectives that it's a 'tough break' that Sean was shot. Brody is white and obviously disheveled. He says that Sean slept with his wife, and he (Brody) moved out of the house and away from his kids because of him.
"Yeah, that's an awful situation. Got you drinken'."Green asks if Brody shot Sean; Brody says no. He has no alibi; he claims that he was in the apartment at the time of the shooting, but no one can verify that. Cassidy asks him why he called Sofia to tell her that Sean was sleeping with Darla, ,and he says that he wanted revenge, but that it didn't do any good because Sofia didn't care. He calls the Archers 'whores' and collapses down onto his couch. He allows the police to search his room for a gun, saying that it won't take them long to find that he doesn't have one.
—Ed Green and John Brody
"Here it is. My worldly possessions."Green tells Van Buren that Brody had no gun, that he'd just woken up (as evidenced by the bourbon on his breath), and that the gunpowder residue test on his hands was negative. He points out, though, that Sean's philandering destroys the image that he and Sofia tried to project of them being a devoted traditional couple. Van Buren asks why this matters, and Green says that it widens the suspect pool considerably if Sean and Sofia could have both been seeing other people. Cassidy comes in with a ballistics report — the bullets in Sean match the gun of a Marlon Cooper, a civil rights attorney who was arrested for assaulting a police officer. Cooper, a white man, tells the detectives that the assault charge was dropped. He claims to not care about the Archers and to not be following the adoption. He has an alibi for the time of the shooting. As for his gun, he claims that it was stolen. However, the detectives find a brochure for a civil rights group and locate it at a protest, where the members tell them that Cooper was obsessed with the Archer adoption, to the point where the group disassociated themselves from him. The members explain that the adoption was illegal — Mumoono requires adoptive parents to live in the country for a year, but the Archers were only there for three days. Cooper had wanted to protest the Archers. Cassidy asks why they broke off their association with Cooper, since Cooper was protesting on behalf of Mumoono and Christopher Mogae; the members say that they want money for AIDS research and to help war orphans, and the Archers brought money to Mumoono with their adoption. Regardless of the motivations of the Archers, the members say, the adoption was good for the country. Green verifies that Cooper wasn't convinced by this argument, and he and Cassidy are referred to a Letter to the Editor that Cooper wrote. Van Buren reads the letter, which excoriates Sofia for adopting a child from Africa when there are poor children of color in many American cities, including New York City itself. It accuses her of just wanting a career boost.
"…a celebrity career-boosting accessory du jour is no longer a sweater-wearing chihuahua. It's a destitute African AIDS orphan, ready for purchase from any number of countries desperate for foreign cash."Cassidy thinks that Cooper did it, as his gun is the murder weapon and the kidnapping would bring a lot of attention to his cause. Green, however, says that he verified Cooper's alibi; he was meeting a drug dealer at the dealer's Probation Officer's office; the officer remembered Cooper being there. However, Green got some files from the Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU). They sent over frames from a security camera in the Archer's lobby. They show Cooper giving money to the doorman, Dwayne McCready, during the previous week. McCready, a white man, says that he thought Cooper was just a paparazzi. He admits that Cooper paid him $1000 to tell him when Sofia would leave with the baby. He says that he called Cooper's cell phone to tell him, but when Cassidy says that they checked Cooper's cell phone, McCready says that he just called a number that Cooper gave him. He denies responsibility for the murder. Cooper is interrogated. He maintains that he didn't shoot Sean, even when confronted with the photographs of him talking to McCready and McCready's information.
"I think we're seeing coincidences."Green and Cassidy say they know that Cooper was strenuously against the adoption, which Cooper admits too. But he still won't tell them anything.
"[The Archers] were pure, Biblical evil. You tell me I'm wrong!"Cooper says that he's sure that the real killer is remorseful, and he hopes the police don't find him. Cooper's superintendent says that many people go in and out of Cooper's apartment, all of them scum. He doesn't know if anyone entered recently. Green knocks and demands that any occupants open up, but when no one does, Green has the superintendent unlock the door. As soon as the door open, a crash sounds from inside. Cassidy runs to cover the street while Green enters, gun drawn. He sees, through an open window, someone limping down an alley and into the street. Green radios Cassidy to tell her this and to describe the man (a black male, about twenty-five, in a gray sweater), but the man is able to get a taxi instantly and leaves before the driver sees Cassidy. Cassidy radios Dispatch to tell them about the cab. Green tells Van Buren that they found ammunition in Cooper's apartment that was consistent with the bullets used to kill Sean. There are many prints in Cooper's apartment, but none of the fingerprints are in the system. Van Buren muses that the killer's first crime was to shoot Sean in the head. Cassidy comes in and says that she found a prepaid credit card in the apartment; it was used to buy a round trip ticket from Mumoono to Toronto and back, and also to buy a child seat just for the America-Mumoono leg. Van Buren guesses that the fleeing man is Christopher's father, Ephraim Mogae. There were no other charges on the card, and they have no leads on Mogae's current location. Van Buren tells the detectives to think of something. Sofia recalls that Mogae has a relative in the area, and Calvin supplies the information that Mogae's cousin lives in New Jersey. She goes to get the cousin's name from her records. Cassidy asks if Mogae contacted her to see Christopher, and Sofia says yes, but she told Calvin to not make any appointments with Mogae; she (Sofia) wanted time to bond with her new son. She doesn't recall when Mogae last tried to see her, but Cassidy notes that Sofia had put out press releases stating that she'd keep in touch with the baby's birth parents.
"For 'stealing' babies?"
"Three days is not a year."
—Marlon Cooper and Nina Cassidy
"I don't need to defend myself to you."Calvin returns, saying that the cousin's name is Festus Lepetu. He also hasn't contacted the Archers since they told Mogae and his family to stop trying to talk to them. Lepetu is a cab driver. He is black and has a thick accent. He denies knowing Mogae's location, but Green and Cassidy point out that Mogae got into his cab that morning. Green threatens to call immigration to examine Lepetu's family's papers. At this, Lepetu says that Mogae was just in town to visit him, but Green doesn't believe him. Lepetu finally asks if Mogae can at least get justice against Sofia, but Cassidy responds that, if they don't find Mogae peacefully, he'll probably be shot by police. Green drags Lepetu away to help find Mogae. Lepetu's apartment has several people ministering to Mogae, who is stretched out on a bed. He says he can walk, but cries out in pain when he tries, so they have him sent to the hospital. Once he's stabilized, the detectives confront him with what they know, and offer him the chance to make a deal. Mogae confesses, telling them where the gun is, then saying what happened. He testifies that, after McCreavy called him, he stole Cooper's gun and went to confront Sean. He wanted to take Christopher back because the Archers had promised to stay in Mumoono for a year, but left in three days. When he confronted Sean, Sean refused to let him see his child, and pushed him away, so Mogae drew his gun. He cocked it, he says, but then the gun went off on its own. Green says they need the confession in writing, and Mogae says he'll do that, but he won't do anything until he sees his son. Sofia refuses.
"Hell no! No!"Rubirosa tells Sofia that, if she lets Mogae see his son, he'll plead guilty to manslaughter and serve fifteen years. Otherwise, he goes to trial. Sofia will have to testify, and possibly Agatha as well. Furthermore, the gun was broken — it might have really went off on its own, and Mogae could be sympathetic enough to encourage the jury to acquit. Sofia asks how Mogae could possibly be sympathetic, so Rubirosa points out that the Archers refusing to let Mogae see his son will look bad, as will the illegalities in the adoption. Sofia is horrified, but Rubirosa presses on, saying that it will only be for five minutes, Mogae can't come within three feet of the child, and Rubirosa, Green, and Cassidy will be supervising it. Sofia, in tears, agrees, after Calvin offers to supervise as well. However, when Mogae sees the child's face at the jail, his grin vanishes and he begins to look horrified. Rubirosa looks puzzled, as does Calvin.
"Is there a problem?"In his office, Branch is stunned.
"This… is not my son."
—Ed Green and Ephraim Mogae
"What the Hell is that supposed to mean?!"McCoy says that Mogae swears that the child isn't Christopher. He last saw his child four months ago, and Christopher was malnourished then, so photos from the orphanage wouldn't necessarily look anything like the child in his present state. Sofia, for her part, refused to let anyone photograph the child once she took it to America. Rubirosa adds that Mogae will not plead guilty until he sees Christopher or learns what happened to him. Branch thinks they're being played, but Rubirosa thinks that Mogae was sincere. She adds that Mogae would be an incredibly sympathetic defendant, and the broken gun will only help his case. Branch asks if Sofia will object to DNA testing of her son, and Rubirosa says that she will, so Branch just tells McCoy to get ready for a lot of hard work. After all, he says, if Mogae is right, they need to find his actual son. McCoy argues to Judge Laurence Strasnick that the State has the right to compel a DNA test. Sofia's lawyer, Farmer, says that is only true for paternity suits, which the Mogae case isn't, and adds that the State cannot initiate a proceeding to attempt to illegitimize a child. McCoy says that they want to wrap up the Mogae case, and if necessary, find Christopher. Farmer says that Mogae has no standing, but McCoy says that, if Mogae is lying, no harm will be done with the test, and if he's not, they need to begin looking for Mogae's real child. Strasnick rules for McCoy. Rubirosa finds McCoy with the test results. Mogae was right; the child Calvin brought in for the viewing wasn't Christopher. Rubirosa has a lead on where to start looking for Mogae's real child, though: the DNA indicated that the child's mother is Lashonda Harris, who went to jail four months ago (the same time that the Archers returned to America) and still has nine years and eight months to go. She was caught smuggling in heroin in bags that she'd swallowed; a bag burst, Harris was present at the time. Furthermore, she was Sofia's former assistant.
"What the Hell's going on here, Connie?"At Bedford Hills, a jail, Harris says Sofia agreed to raise Harris's child while Harris served her sentence. Harris is a black woman of middle age. Sofia, Harris says, made the offer about four months prior. Harris knew, vaguely, that Sofia was planning to adopt a child from Africa, but didn't learn anything more about that. She also doesn't know where the child is. Rubirosa finally tells her that Sofia was raising Harris's son as the child from Africa. Harris claims that she didn't know that Sofia would do that; rather, Calvin just approached her, saying that Sofia just wanted to raise her son. Rubirosa is surprised that Calvin is involved.
"What is going on? Is my son okay?"The lawyers tell Farmer and Sofia what they found. Farmer responds that they think they know how the child could be Harris' son and not Mogae's. He says that, one week after the adoption, Sofia left the child in Calvin's care for six weeks while she (Sofia) went to a 'weight rehabilitation facility.' Rubirosa interjects that this is a fancy name for a health spa. Farmer continues, saying that they think that Christopher came to some harm while Calvin was watching him, and that Calvin approached Harris on her own to try to substitute her child for Christopher. Sofia claims to not have noticed the switch.
"It's not your son I'm worried about."
—Lashonda Harris and Connie Rubirosa
"Oh, so all brown babies pretty much look the same, is that what you're saying?"Farmer says that Sofia had only been around Christopher for three days or so before leaving for the spa, and that Calvin was his exclusive caretaker. Rubirosa points out that this flatly contradicts Sofia's press statements, which Sofia agrees with. She insists, though, that it wasn't a publicity stunt, and that she was giving Christopher a better life, and was drawing attention to the impoverished country of Mumoono. McCoy cuts her off.
"Save that for the press, Mrs. Archer."Sofia yells that Christopher would be raised by a nanny, but so was Agatha, and so are the children of many working women.
"Not to the extent that their children are unrecognizable to them."Sofia protests this, but McCoy just asks if Calvin will admit to this. Sofia says that Calvin will probably make something up, so McCoy says that they've heard enough from her, and he and Rubirosa leave. Calvin, in interrogation, protests that Sofia is lying. Her attorney, Liz Prather, asks what McCoy will offer in exchange for Calvin's story, but McCoy won't commit to anything without hearing it first. Calvin says that Sofia, because of the bad press, tried to care for Christopher herself in the week following the return from Mumoono, but she was incompetent. Calvin left for an hour to buy food, and when she returned, the baby had died. Calvin tried to give Christopher CPR, and defibrillated him, but it didn't work. Calvin says that she wanted to call a hospital or doctor, but Sofia threatened to blame her to the police if she did that, because of the bad press. She doesn't know if Sofia actually killed the child or not. It was Sofia who had the idea of switching the children; Calvin had never heard of Harris before that day. Sofia offered Calvin $500,000 for her part in the deception, and Calvin needed the money.
"I felt so bad for that little boy… but he just died."She takes them to the burial site, a wooded area off the street. After some difficulty, the detectives and other officers find Christopher's corpse.
"Bones. Human. Looks like an animal got it."Rubirosa orders that Calvin be formally arrested, and Sofia too. Cassidy asks why they're arresting Sofia, and Rubirosa says that Sofia had to know what happened. The detectives arrest Sofia, and have to fight through a mass of press and paprazzi In a conference room, McCoy tells Farmer and Sofia that Christopher's body has rib fractures consistent with being beaten to death. Sofia blames Calvin for this, so Rubirosa tells her to drop the pretense since there's no cameras in the room.
"Your assistant could be a little more respectful."Farmer asks if there is any evidence that Sofia, as opposed to Calvin, killed Christopher. McCoy points out that Christopher was Sofia's child, not Calvin's, and that Sofia would garner lots of bad press if Christopher were found to have died in her care. He also cites the $500,000 given to Calvin. Sofia says that was a loan so Calvin could pay her mother's medical bills, but Rubirosa notes that it was paid in full, in cash, the day Sofia left for the spa. Farmer says that it doesn't matter.
"Your client could be a little less nauseating."
—Farmer and Connie Rubirosa
"You've got nothing."Rubirosa tells Branch that she doesn't believe that Sofia didn't notice that her child had been replaced by another, and McCoy adds that the time of Christopher's death can only be pinned down to within a week. Sofia may have been in town when Christopher died, or she may have already left for Ohai. As for Calvin's background, she has no arrests, but the child she cared for before she went to work for the Archers went to the ER a few times. Rubirosa says that the previous child was autistic and accident-prone, but Branch points out that Farmer will do his best to obfuscate that. McCoy says they have to make a deal with Calvin — she'll plead guilty to hindering prosecution and illegally disposing of a body, they won't charge her with anything more serious, and Calvin will testify against Sofia. Branch okays this, but says that it'll be a tough case. In court, Calvin testifies to burying Christopher and to approaching Harris at Sofia's orders.
"She knew that… it would be charitable to raise him as Christopher, and that the press and the public would never know the difference."Farmer asks if Calvin killed Christopher; Calvin denies it. Farmer points out that Calvin admitted to burying Christopher and approaching Harris. Farmer then brings up Calvin's past, working for a Paige and Franklin Littlefield and nannying their son Jackson. Calvin admits to taking Jackson to the ER three times. Farmer recites Jackson's injuries, but Calvin protests that Jackson was autistic and would hurt himself. Farmer then says that the Littlefields fired her. Calvin's response is that the Littlefields wanted a specialist in raising autistic children to be their new nanny, and Calvin didn't qualify.
"Or they just didn't want any more broken bones, or worse."Judge Louise Einhorn sustains the objection. Farmer ends his questioning. Sofia testifies that she wanted to give Christopher a better life than he could have in Mumoono, and that she wanted to raise awareness of the plight of that country. She claims to have done extensive research.
"Objection, Your Honor!"
—Farmer and Jack McCoy
"I had learned that fourteen percent of Mumoono's twelve million people are infected with HIV. The number of orphans is around one million."She testifies that, when she returned from Mumoono, she was told by her agent that she was being considered for a prominent roll in a remake of , but she'd have to lose weight to get it. She left Christopher with Calvin, she says, to go to the spa to get in shape. When she returned, she had minimal contact with Christopher — almost, she says, as if Calvin was keeping them separate. Lastly, she denies all of the charges leveled against her by McCoy and Calvin. McCoy points out that Sofia refused to let Christopher be seen in public during her absence. Sofia says that this was to reduce the amount of press. McCoy asks if this was to ensure that no one could compare Harris' son to Christopher; Sofia denies this. McCoy then points out that Sofia lied in her press releases when she said that she would raise Christopher herself, then presses home the point that Sofia has a history of skillful lying. Sofia says that she only lied to the press to raise awareness for the Mumoono orphanage, and she succeeded in steering three million dollars in donations to that facility. McCoy accuses her of just doing that to boost her career, and says that, if she lied that much over a career move, she would lie even more to stay out of jail. Sofia asserts that Calvin killed Christopher, but McCoy disagrees. He cites the payment, but Sofia reiterates that this was a loan for Calvin's mother's medical bills.
"I would never harm Christopher! And I am incapable of harming, or even raising my voice to a child!"Sofia only repeats that she adopted Christopher to save his life, and the lives of his fellows in the orphanage. She will only accept responsibility for leaving him in Calvin's care, but not for killing him. Harris tells Rubirosa that Sofia was an absent mother to Agatha; she never yelled at or hurt Agatha, but she was never around the child. She insists that Sofia didn't drink or do drugs, aside from prescription medications, and was incapable of hitting a child. If her child through a fit, says Harris, Sofia would just leave the room so Harris could deal with it. If Harris wasn't around, Sofia would just ignore the problem until somebody who knew what they were doing showed up.
"Just neglecting one to the point of being unable to recognize him."
—Sofia Archer and Jack McCoy
"She wasn't cruel! She was just… absent."Rubirosa finds McCoy in his office.
"Y'ever work as a babysitter?"Rubirosa tells him that she worked as one, and that small children eat anything on the floor. The house vacuum bag in Sofia's home, when it was first searched, included several diet pills. Eight were found, and even one would kill an infant. Rubirosa thinks that Sofia spilled her diet pills, didn't think to pick them up, and only realized after the fact that Christopher might eat one and die. In a conference room, Rubirosa says that Sofia was the only one whose fingerprints were on the pill bottle, and Christopher's DNA (from saliva) was recovered on several of the pills in the vacuum cleaner. Farmer says that Sofia may have simply wiped Christopher's mouth, then opened the pill bottle. McCoy then says that they know that Sofia, from the health spa, canceled an expensive anti-malarial drug that Christopher was on. The drug is rare and only sold through the CDC, and the lawyers already know that Sofia didn't place another order. The only reason she would cancel the order and not obtain it from another pharmacy is if she knew that she wouldn't need it — which would mean that she knew that Christopher was dead.
"I delivered newspapers."
—Connie Rubirosa and Jack McCoy
"A vanity adoption, a hoodwinked father, and the child overdoses on your diet pills? You would have been pilloried in the press."Sofia begins to confess, saying that it might have been an accident. Rubirosa points out that this would imply that Sofia perjured herself. Farmer quickly tries to say that this was just a hypothetical, but Sofia keeps going. McCoy, though, quickly shuts her down.
"An accident doesn't make me a killer."Sofia says that she raised millions of dollars in money and supplies for Mumoono.
"You might have been able to sell the adoption as simple goodwill, and Christopher's death as maternal incompetence, but you replaced him with another child!"
—Sofia Archer and Jack McCoy
"Do you know how many other children will live years past their life expectancies because of me?"Sofia protests that she did her best. McCoy offers a plea to second-degree manslaughter, with a fifteen-year sentence. Farmer tells her to take the deal, and Sofia accepts it. Later, Rubirosa says that she wants to have children. She can't imagine, she says, seeing raising a child as a burden.
"We're only concerned with the one who won't."
—Sofia Archer and Jack McCoy
"Some people are wired wrong."Rubirosa sighs, saying that Sofia was using a baby as fashion. She asks McCoy to pour her another drink.