A doorman chides a technician, Mickey, for taking so long to get to the twelth floor of an apartment complex. The elevator is not working, and Mickey needs to repair it. When Mickey arrives, he finds that someone left a purse in the elevator door slot, preventing it from closing. After removing the bag, Mickey notices blood on the walls, and finds a slumped body. Cassady reports that the doorman didn't see anything as Green finds an ID. The dead body is Serena Darby, and she worked at Darby Books. Cassady recognizes the company, but can't place where she heard it before. The medic says that Darby was probably slammed against the wall several times; she's missing teeth and has blunt force trauma wounds in her head. The medic adds that, after the beating, Darby was strangled to death. Cassady comes back with Darby's company's latest book — "If I Killed Her," by James Paul " J. P." Lang. Lang, a famous baseball player, had been accused of murdering his wife but was found not guilty; the book is him telling how he would have killed her had he been the guilty one. Cassady remembers that the book had been pulled due to publicity backlash. At the precinct, Cassady says that CSU found dozens of fingerprints, enough that it will take a long time to process them, and Green says that there's no local family — just a brother from Boston who will come in to make an identification. Van Buren says she'll hold off the tabloids, and wonders how the killers got out without the doorman seeing him. Green says there's a fire escape and the door was unlocked. Discussing witnesses, they have one person who heard an argument and slamming, which could have been Darby hitting the wall, but no one saw or heard anything more specific. Green thinks that the crime was too violent to be random, and Cassady couldn't find anything in Darby's apartment to indicate that she had boyfriends or ex's. They decide to check out the publishing office that was going to publish Lang's book. At Virgil Publishing, a staff member says that the company will lose about 5 million dollars from pulling the book between the advance, future royalties, and copies already printed. She can't remember any specific threats against Darby, but there were a lot of angry people. The staff member doesn't know about any boyfriends or plans she had the previous night, but does know that she talked to Lang himself several times. The last call with Lang featured some unusually harsh yelling; after that, she stopped taking his calls. In Lang's apartment, he says that he wanted to write about baseball, but Darby insisted on a book about the murder. Lang says they argued the other day about the book — he wanted to drop it, she wanted to try another publisher. He says that a 20 million civil judgment against him means he'll never make another penny, so he had no profit motive to see the book in print. He can only keep the apartment thanks to his baseball pension. Cassady is unconvinced that he's really innocent of killing his wife.
"Well, this isn't exactly the prison you belong in now, is it?"He maintains that he was framed the first time. He says that Don Lampard, his father-in-law, was the one that killed the book, and he hated both Lang and Darby. Working in the park, Lampard discusses how he hates Lang. He says that the civil deal, in which all his money went to charity, was a sham — Darby had been paying Lang under the table. He's suing Darby Books and Virgil Publishing. He told Dean Savinsky, the CEO of Virgil Publishing, that he was suing them. After refusing their money, he made Savinsky promise to fire Darby. Savinsky told him over the phone, that she was already fired. Savinsky says that he didn't know what was going on until it was too late. He was going to fire Darby at lunch that day. He adds that Lampard had pretended to be amenable to a settlement proposed by Darby, but stood her up when it came time to finalize. They talked the night of the murder and Lampard refused to drop the lawsuit, even once Savinsky said Darby was fired. But at the precinct, Van Buren points out that Lampard missed his time to attack Darby by missing their appointment, and that neither his prints nor Lang's were at the scene. Green says Lampard might have been wearing gloves. Cassady says that the phone company confirms that Savinsky did talk to Lampard the night of the crime, but the restaurant said that Darby's bill was almost $200. They theorize that she was dining with someone. A waiter at the restaurant confirms that it was Lang, and that he argued with Darby and stuck her with the bill. The detectives confront Lang while he boxes at the gym. They quiz him on his batting averages.
"Your partner's got some mouth on her."
—Nina Cassady and J. P. Lang
"You can remember some number from ten years ago but you don't remember having dinner with Serena the night she was killed?"They take him to the precinct. In interrogation, Lang says it wasn't their business that he saw Darby. He says the argument had to do with a personal matter. Once they start needling him, he tries to leave, but Green says they'll keep going after him. Lang finally says that he was sleeping with Darby, but Darby began wanting to get married, so he broke it off once the book fell through. He says that Darby got angry when he broke up, so he signed a copy of the book that she had with her before leaving. He signed it 'Screw you.' Later, Cassady points out that no one ever saw the two together, but the secretary did know that Darby had a copy of the book. Green says they didn't find it at the scene — the killer walked away with it, unless it didn't exist. Cassady says that they don't think Lampard would have taken the book, but Van Buren points out that they don't even know if Lang actually signed it. They decide to search for it online. Stubbs, the technician, says that he posted an ad seeking an autographed copy of the book and offering to pay $100,00. He got a lot of hits, most of them fake, but got one response from someone saying they were willing to authenticate. They go to her house, where she says that someone contacted her through her website — she collects memorabilia from famous killers.
"You ever eat there? It's pretty forgettable."
— Nina Cassady and J. P. Lang
"Can't say I've heard of it."They confiscate the book and find the inscription Lang said was there. The collector says that a man named Gerald Stockwell sold her the book. Waiting outside his place, the detectives surprise Stockwell entering. Stockwell tries to flee but is caught and arrested. At the precinct, Cassady says that Stockwell was Lang's ghostwriter, but Darby fired him after his first draft. Furthermore, she reneged on her promise to publish his novel, but wouldn't return the rights. Blood on the book matches spatter from the crime scene. In interrogation, Stockwell maintains his innocence. He thought Cassady and Green were loan shark agents; he owes money to unsavory people. He says he was home the night of the murder. He found the book on his doorstep; he thought Darby had messengered it to him. He says that Lang hates him, so he assumed the inscription was directed at him. He adds that he sold the book so he could have money to eat. Green says that they found his fingerprints at the crime scene; Stockwell says he doesn't know how they got there. They arrest him.
"I collect stuff, you know? Related to serial killers, famous murderers."
"I get the idea."
—Nina Cassady and memorabilia collector
"You know, for a writer? You're a Hell of an actor."In court, Stockwell is arraigned. Rubirosa wants remand, Stockwell's lawyer, named Bocanegra, wants zero bail, and Judge Brenda Scalisi wants some middle ground. After Rubirosa lists the particulars of the crime, Stockwell is remanded. In prison, McCoy is confident that he'll win the case, and says he's there to listen. Stockwell maintains his innocence, but McCoy says that they have a book tying him to the scene and ample motive. He offers manslaughter in the 1st degree, fifteen years. Rubirosa says that he'll get at least 25 with a murder conviction.
"Quite a writer's retreat. I don't think it took Tolstoy half that long to crank out War and Peace."Stockwell says that he has information the DA might want. When prompted, he says he has interviews in which Lang confesses to killing his wife, and to bribing a juror. Bocanegra points out that it was McCoy who failed to convict Lang the first time. In his office, Branch asks if there's anything to the bribery claim, and McCoy says that he'd prefer that he didn't lose the case entirely by himself. He says he thought he rebutted Lang's claims of being framed, but apparently didn't. Rubirosa says that the jury deadlocked three times; someone could have been holding out. McCoy says that, if Lang bribed a juror, he'll get solid prison time. At a garage, Todd Dawson talks to Rubirosa about the jury deliberations. He says he realizes he was wrong, and the deliberations were miserable. There was one holdout, Lydia Neville, who maintained that Lang was framed. Dawson says she wore them down until they acquitted just to get out of the deliberations. Talking to Neville, she maintains that she was unconvinced. She tries to brush off Rubirosa and says no one bribed her. McCoy says that she thought Neville would be an asset; the case had forensic evidence and Neville had a PhD. Rubirosa says that Neville paid off $75,000 in student loans shortly after the trial. Turns out that Darby gave her a book contract — and it was drafted before the case was over. Darby's contract with Lang would have been worthless if Lang were convicted, since Son of Sam laws would stop him from making any money off of it. Darby had to get Lang found innocent. In McCoy's office, Neville tries to pretend that she didn't do anything wrong, but McCoy calls her on it. He threatens her with seven years unless she comes clean. She says that it was supposed to be a hung jury. Darby promised her a best-selling book if she was the only holdout. Lang didn't know about the fix until Neville began blackmailing him. He paid her once, so she tried again — right before Darby was killed. Lang didn't know who Neville was; only Darby did. McCoy tells Branch that he thinks Lang beat up Darby for Neville's name so that he could silence her before she went public. There's no evidence that Lang's affair story was true. Branch tells them to figure out if they want to charge Stockwell or Lang.
"My bet's on Lang."Rubirosa says that a surveillance camera caught Lang in Stockwell's neighborhood, far from the penthouse. They think he was dropping the book off at Stockwell's to frame him. Green and Cassady arrest Lang in a crowd of media. His attorney, Carsley, says that the case is trumped up and McCoy just wants revenge. Later, the lawyers watch Carsley on TV. Branch again points out that McCoy really does want Lang back in jail, and McCoy maintains that he can differentiate between his emotions and the facts. Branch warns him against getting stuck in a personal fight. Rubirosa comes in — Lang made bail, and Carsley is moving to exclude Neville's testimony. In chambers, Carsley gives a speech to the judge.
"Okay. Reassure me that this is not colored by your history with him."
—Jack McCoy and J. P. Lang
"Stop grandstanding, councilor. I don't see any cameras in here."Carsley says that Darby did any witness tampering on her own, without Lang's help or knowledge. Afterwards, Branch is upset — Emerton tossed the bribery and any mention of the first trial. The book's contents are also excluded. Branch points out that McCoy can't prove motive with his remaining evidence, and that while the jury may convict, Emerton can set aside the verdict due to insufficient evidence. The bloody book changed hands so many times that Branch doubts it will be convincing. He furthermore points out that Stockwell's indicting is going to hurt him, and says that he wants to plead Lang so that Lang does at least some time. He says 10 years would be lucky. McCoy admits that he's taking it personally, but Branch orders him to make the deal. In a conference room, Carsley rejects the deal. He offers an Alford plea, a no contest plea with no allocution. Lang won't take more than 5 years. McCoy rejects the counter offer and insists that any plea include an allocution. Lang mocks McCoy for not being able to jail him for killing his wife. The meeting ends with no deal. Carsley says he realizes that he was right about the whole thing being a vendetta. McCoy throws Carsley and Lang out. On the stand, Lang says that he had an affair with Darby and the argument at dinner was about the break up. He says that the surveillance photos of him in Stockwell's neighborhood were fabricated by the police and the DA. Lang points out that no one saw him, either near Stockwell or Darby. He maintains his innocence. McCoy wonders why the affair was so discrete until the final night, when they ate at a public place. Lang doesn't attempt to explain the contradiction. McCoy asks if Darby ever was concerned about dating Lang. When Lang asks why, McCoy asks about the book.
"I apologize, judge. I tend to get upset about overzealous D As with a score to settle."
—Judge Stephen Emerton and Carsley
"There's nothing in that book she needed to be concerned about."Carsley objects, and Emerton shuts down the cross examination. On rebuttal, Carsley has Lang testify that he didn't kill his wife. McCoy calls Stockwell as a rebuttal witness. In chambers, Emerton allows this, since it can rebut Lang's direct testimony. During Stockwell's testimony, McCoy plays a tape-recorded interview in which Lang confesses to the murder.
"Really? Don't you confess to the murder of your wife?"
—J. P. Lang and Jack McCoy
"You cut her throat?"Lang is found guilty. Leaving the office, Rubirosa wonders if the jury convicted Lang for the right murder. McCoy says they'll never know, and Branch adds that could change if one of them writes a book about it.
"I almost took her head off."
—Gerald Stockwell and J. P. Lang