Two groundskeepers at Central Park discuss sport statistics as they clean up the trash. One mocks the other and claims an encyclopedic knowledge of baseball. The baseball expert, Williams, yells for the other man, Garrity, to come over — he just found a body.
Briscoe and Curtis show up at the scene. A man from CSU, Warner, estimates that the boy died at about 6 the previous evening.
"Nice out of the way place to kill somebody."
Warner says that the body was dumped in the park but, since there's no spilled blood, was probably killed elsewhere. The boy is of middle school age and is black, and died from a blow to the head. Briscoe searches the kid's backpack, and Curtis finds his ID, which names him as Derrick Walters. It says to contact an Estelle Walters in an emergency. The detectives roll the body, and Curtis finds a note reading 'They must be destroyed.' Briscoe is dismayed. Curtis asks why.
"What is that, a school fight song?"
Briscoe says that a man named Andrew Dillard murdered five black boys of about Walters's age five years ago; at each murder he left a note with the same message that they just found. Curtis says that Dillard's in prison, and Briscoe responds that they clearly have a copycat.
Briscoe tells Van Buren that Dillard is still in prison; they had the warden check. Curtis adds that the Justice Network just did a special on Dillard.
"Ah. Educational TV."
—Anita Van Buren
Van Buren says that Dillard was a psychotic racist and wonders if this crime fits his usual pattern. Curtis says that there were no signs of sexual assault, and Briscoe adds that there weren't any signs of a struggle either. Van Buren tells them to retrace Derrick's steps. Then a secretary tells them that Estelle Walters has arrived.
Estelle tells the police that she tried to file a report the previous night, but Derrick, only a few hours late from school by that point, hadn't been missing for long enough yet for the police to actually file the report. She complains that the police didn't take her seriously and didn't look for him. Van Buren says that Derrick might have been with friends, but Estelle insists that Derrick was always home by seven so they could go grocery shopping together. She finishes by saying that Derrick played basketball after school at St. Justin's Church.
Briscoe and Curtis catch McCoy on the courthouse steps and ask for more information on Dillard's murders. They want to know what to expect from the copycat. McCoy says that Dillard drove a delivery truck for a bakery; he drove by grocery stores and offered young black boys free treats, then abducted and murdered them.
A clerk at Gotham Market, named Ronda, says that Derrick was in the previous day. She adds that a security guard talked to Derrick before he left. They find the guard, Simon Brooks, at home, who confirms that he talked to Derrick — he saw Derrick looking at pornographic magazines and told him to move along.
"He was lookin' at those girly magazines. You know what's in some of those?"
Brooks says that his company rotates him between different stores, which was how he was at the grocer that particular day. He adds that Derrick left alone, and was heading north.
Outside, Curtis says that north was away from Derrick's home. They wonder what Derrick was doing, and decide to talk to Derrick's friends. At St. Matthew's Academy, another basketball player named Carlos says that he wasn't all that close to Derrick. They ask where Derrick might have been going, and Carlos says that a scout named Ernie Bigelow had been trying to get him a sports scholarship.
The detectives talk to Bigelow, who is watching a group of students play basketball. He says that Derrick is a great kid, and when asked when he last saw him, says that they last met on Monday at his, Bigelow's, apartment — Ernie was packing to go on a trip to Rochester. Curtis says that Derrick was killed Monday and asks when Derrick was there. Bigelow states that Derrick showed up at about five to watch footage from the school that Ernie was scouting him for. Ernie threw Derrick out at about 5:30, since he had to get on the train to Rochester.
Curtis tells Van Buren that Bigelow isn't on the high school's payroll — he's a freelancer. Van Buren doesn't know how Bigelow can make a living with that job, and Briscoe says that Ernie used to be a coach but was fired — and no one is telling him why.
"Find out why he's not there anymore?"
"Yeah. I don't know, I can't remember, and I can't talk about it."
—Anita Van Buren and Lennie Briscoe
Van Buren wonders if Bigelow was fired for molesting the students. Curtis and Briscoe point out that Walters wasn't abused, and that there's still the note to contend with, but Van Buren thinks that Bigelow is still a likely suspect.
In interrogation, Bigelow is exasperated.
"I don't know how else to say it. I didn't kill this kid. You want me to try hanging from the chandelier?"
"Oh, trust me. If you killed this kid, you're gonna hang, all right."
—Ernie Bigelow and Lennie Briscoe
Briscoe says that no trains to Rochester left that night until 8; there was no reason to kick Derrick out at 5:30. Bigelow says that he wanted to eat dinner before getting on the train, but Curtis still acts skeptical. Bigelow points out that he has no motive. When the detectives bring up that Bigelow got fired, he says that he lost his job for gambling, not sexual assault — but he can't prove it, because the guy he owes money to will break his legs. Van Buren knocks to summon Briscoe. Another body was just found.
At the harbor, a police officer says that the kid was found floating offshore and died very recently. He died of strangulation. His bus pass identifies him as Shawn Monroe. Curtis finds another 'They must be destroyed' note.
"Yeah, yeah. We got the message the first time."
Elaine Monroe sobs about her son's death; Leon Monroe, her husband, looks more reserved. He says that Shawn was disobedient and thought he knew better than his parents, and Elaine's protests to the contrary are unconvincing. Leon wishes that they'd kept Shawn off the streets. Shawn had wild friends, though he attended an exclusive private school. He played basketball, but wasn't good enough to be scouted, so Bigelow couldn't have met him that way. Elaine asks for the cross that Shawn always wore.
Briscoe and Van Buren look at a list of similarities between Shawn and Derrick. They were the same gender, age, and race, and died at about the same time of day, but while Derrick was a wonderful son, Shawn was practically a delinquent. Van Buren verified Bigelow's story that he was fired for gambling, and Curtis adds that he was in Rochester when Shawn died. Also, Shawn wasn't wearing his crucifix when his body was found. Briscoe wonders if the cross was a trophy; some serial killers collect items from their victims. Curtis wonders if there's a religious angle, in that Derrick played basketball on a church team and Shawn is missing his crucifix.
"So we look for vampires and members of the clergy."
The principal of Cheever Academy, Shawn's school, says that Shawn didn't really fit in. He clarifies that Shawn was lower-class, while Cheever is not.
"Did you explain that to Shawn's parents before you took their money?"
The principal says they did all they could to provide Shawn with a safe environment. Briscoe wants to know where Shawn got off the school bus, but the principal says that Shawn played hooky the day he died with a girl named Vanessa Carey.
At her home, Vanessa admits to cutting class to go with Shawn. This surprises and displeases her mother. After several interruptions from Mrs. Carey, they ask Vanessa what happened. Vanessa says that she went with Shawn to see a movie, but he met up with two of his old friends, Felix and Damien, first. The two friends them talked about stealing, and Vanessa didn't like them. She told Shawn that he had to pick between her and his friends, and he chose them, so she went to the museum for the rest of the afternoon.
Briscoe talks to Felix and Damien in interrogation. Damien is abrasive and says that he wants his parents or a lawyer to be there. Curtis says that, since they aren't suspects but are witnesses, they don't have the right to an attorney. The cops want to know what they were doing with Shawn the day he died.
"We wasn't doin' nothin'."
"Really? And where wasn't you doin' it?"
—Damien and Lennie Briscoe
Felix looks nervous. When Damien blows off the question, Briscoe says that the two might need lawyers anyway. Felix admits that they were shoplifting at Broadway and 96th. Shawn was with them, but he got caught. Felix saw that a cop had Shawn by the neck, and ran away.
An officer on Broadway and 96th recognizes a photo of Shawn, but says that he was elsewhere in the city at the time Shawn was caught stealing. The officer says that he was the only officer in the area, so if he didn't nab Shawn, no one did. The detectives are confused, until Curtis sees several security guards and wonders if one of them caught Shawn. They realize that a security guard had a run in with Derrick, so they leave to talk to Brooks again.
Brooks doesn't want to talk to the police. He was working near Broadway, according to his dispatcher, but he claims not to have seen Shawn. Brooks says that there are many security guards on Broadway, but Briscoe says that only one was seen with Derrick — him. Brooks still denies everything.
"It's circular reasoning."
Curtis finds a Bible, and Simon says that he reads it. When asked why he has no TV, he says there's nothing worth watching. Curtis tells Simon that, if he swears on the Bible that he's innocent, the cops will immediately leave. Simon hedges for a long time, but can't bring himself to do it.
"You don't know what you're asking."
In interrogation, Simon says that Derrick and Shawn were sinners. Briscoe asks why they were killed when there were so many sinners around. After protesting that they wouldn't understand, Brooks says that Derrick looked at pornography while wearing a religious image — his hat, from the church basketball team, had the image of St. Justin on it.
"It wasn't just lust. It was sacrilege... Justin was a martyr to our Lord."
As for Shawn, he stole while wearing a cross. He repeats that the two had to be destroyed. Van Buren asks why he was mimicking Dillard. Brooks first says that God wanted him to kill the boys, and then says that he killed the ones from before too. Dillard was innocent.
"I killed those boys. I killed all those boys. You just gave Dillard the credit."
McCoy asks if the cops verified the story. Curtis says that Brooks knew details of the murders only the killer would know, he had trophies from the kills, and he was ID'd in lineups by witnesses. McCoy wonders why the killings stopped when Dillard was arrested. Briscoe says that, when Dillard was charged, Brooks told his mother what had happened, and she put him on anti-psychosis medications. This stopped him from killing anyone until recently, when she died and he went off his medicine. McCoy is disturbed by his conviction of an innocent man.
Schiff complains about the bad press.
"What do I say about Andrew Dillard? 'Oops?'"
"Tell 'em your staff is so good they can even convict an innocent man."
—Adam Schiff and Jack McCoy
Schiff wonders how McCoy and his partner at the time, Diana Hawthorne, could have screwed up so badly. McCoy says that they had a strong case. His handwriting matched the notes, he was seen with one of the victims, fibers on the victim matched his truck, and he was a racist and crazy. Schiff says that Dillard wants to meet with McCoy.
Dillard tells McCoy that the last five years of his life were hellish. McCoy apologizes. Dillard says that he spent all his time hiding in his cell, because he thought the black inmates would have attacked him for killing black people. McCoy says that the evidence pointed at Dillard, but Dillard's lawyer says that they're claiming that McCoy knew Dillard was innocent but prosecuted him anyway. He shows a statement taken by a detective a few months before the trial; a witness saw one of the murder victims walking into Central Park with a black man. When she saw Brooks on the news, she recognized him and called the lawyer. The defense never got a copy of the statement, even though all potentially exculpatory evidence has to be turned over to the defense. McCoy says he never saw the statement before. Dillard smiles and says that his lawyer specializes in wrongful prosectuion, and the lawyer says that the statement is the basis for a $50 million dollar lawsuit.
McCoy vents to Kincaid about the lawsuit as they sit at a restaurant. Kincaid tells the waiter that they'll be a minute. McCoy continues to complain that he would never engage in prosecutorial misconduct. Kincaid responds with a tepid 'Right.' When McCoy wonders why Kincaid wasn't more forceful, she says that McCoy has done some questionable things.
"You wanna co-sign the complaint?"
McCoy says that the detective who gave the statement might not have given it to him. Kincaid wonders why the detective would do that, and McCoy asks why he would hide the statement. Kincaid says she'll look into it.
Kincaid talks to Detective Monfredo, the detective who talked to a witness who saw one of the victims with Brooks. Monfredo remembers the interview perfectly. He says that he gave the statement to the District Attorney but the witness vanished; he thinks the witness might have had some issue preventing her from testifying. He says that he personally handed it to Hawthorne, McCoy's assistant.
Kincaid sees Hawthorne in her office. She's in private practice now, and is talking to a client on the phone. Once she hangs up, she jokes that her clients are annoying. She says that she got served by Dillard's lawsuit, and wonders why Kincaid is on the case and not the city attorney.
"Call it an internal investigation."
Hawthorne says that she doesn't remember meeting Monfredo, but if she got the statement she would have given it to McCoy. When Kincaid says that she trusts Jack, Hawthorne is amused and calls her naive.
"You know how Jack operates."
Hawthorne posits that the statement might have gotten lost, but says that she thinks it's more likely that McCoy got it and is lying now. She says she worked with McCoy for four years, and was his lover for three, so she knows him. Kincaid and Hawthorne bicker before Kincaid leaves.
Schiff tells McCoy that they have a problem. He's upset about the political fallout.
"We've got cops all over the country manufacturing evidence! Criminal justice system held in contempt. And now this gangrene creeps into the prosecutor's office. THIS prosecutor's office!"
Schiff suspends McCoy.
"Am I permitted to participate in my own defense?"
Schiff says he can remain in the building so that he can fight Dillard's suit.
Late that night, Kincaid says that the file has everything but the detective's statement. McCoy looks doomed, saying that it doesn't matter whether the statement is there or not; Dillard will destroy him either way. Kincaid says she's being deposed, and wonders why. McCoy says that Dillard will want to show a pattern. He asks her what she'll say if Dillard's lawyer asks if McCoy has ever concealed exculpatory evidence. She can't answer. Eventually she cites a case in which McCoy withheld a witness statement (see: Competence (episode)
). McCoy says that, based on a technicality, he didn't have to turn over the statement; Kincaid says that the judge disagreed. McCoy again asks what she'll say if Dillard's lawyer asks if McCoy ever concealed exculpatory evidence.
They argue, with McCoy saying that he didn't believe he had a duty to disclose. Kincaid, pretending to answer the question again, repeats this in a robotic tone.
"Does that help?"
"Not if you say it like that."
—Claire Kincaid and Jack McCoy
Kincaid looks away, and then asks what the handwriting expert testified. McCoy says that the expert said he was certain that Dillard's handwriting matched the notes. Kincaid reads his initial report, saying that he couldn't come to a conclusion. McCoy realizes that Hawthorne was the one who talked to the expert.
The expert says that the notes were hard to judge for handwriting matches. McCoy brings up the expert's testimony, and Kincaid reads the initial report.
"Mr. McCoy, you were the prosecutor. You know what happened."
—Handwriting expert and Jack McCoy
The expert says that he talked to Hawthorne, who told him that there was a lot of evidence that proved that Dillard had killed the boys, but it had been excluded on a technicality. She told him to 'make his evidence as strong as possible.' So he lied, saying he was much more certain than he was. He tried to talk to McCoy, but Hawthorne said that he was too busy. He's not sorry about what he did.
"A serial killer of children was about to go free. I was told I was the only one who could prevent that from happening."
McCoy finds Hawthorne outside her law firm. He accuses her of suborning perjury. He yells that he's been suspended and two boys are dead because of what she did. She isn't sorry either. McCoy wonders what Hawthorne was thinking, and she says she just wanted to win. She says that McCoy has repeatedly used technicalities to avoid turning over evidence, and given experts 'pep talks.' McCoy insists that Hawthorne crossed a line. She thinks that McCoy wanted her to do what she did. She leaves in a huff.
Schiff tells McCoy that they're settling the suit with Dillard for three million dollars, and McCoy is no longer suspended. Kincaid says that Hawthorne is being disbarred. McCoy doesn't think that's enough.
"It's over. Get back to work."
McCoy argues that Derrick and Shawn died because of the botched prosecution. He wants to go after Hawthorne for criminal facilitation. Her conduct allowed Brooks to kill; ergo, she facilitated his crimes. Schiff warns McCoy that Hawthorne will say and do anything to avoid prison. McCoy isn't worried. Later, the detectives arrest Hawthorne. She knows that McCoy instigated this.
Judge Walter Schreiber denies the motion by Hawthorne and her lawyer, Gerald Fox, to dismiss the charges. Hawthorne complies that she was just following McCoy's orders.
"The Nuremberg defense. Who does that make me?"
Schreiber says, however, that McCoy can be called as a witness. He asks if Kincaid will be prosecuting, and she says yes.
On the stand, McCoy insists that he didn't know what Hawthorne had done, that he would not have condoned it had he known, and that her actions were not standard practice. He says that he's not paid to win; his only goal is to fight for justice and the truth. Fox asks if McCoy convicted Hank Chappel of murder ((see: Act of God (episode)
), and McCoy has to admit that he did, even though Chappel turned out to be innocent. Fox reiterates that McCoy convicted an innocent man without Hawthorne's help. McCoy insists that he didn't find any evidence that Chappel was anything other than the perpetrator.
"Isn't that odd, considering he turned out to be innocent?"
"He appeared to be guilty."
—Gerald Fox and Jack McCoy
He says that McCoy may have overlooked evidence pointing to Chappel's innocence. Kincaid objects and Schreiber sustains the objection. Fox then wonders why McCoy would never talk to his key witness or look at an important witness statement. McCoy says that he trusted Hawthorne, so Fox brings up that Hawthorne and McCoy were lovers. Kincaid objects but is overruled. Schiff, in the audience, grimaces. Fox has McCoy read a note he wrote to Hawthorne.
"Diana, thanks for an amazing night. I had to get to the office early. It's time to nail Andrew Dillard."
Fox argues that Hawthorne was doing what McCoy wanted her to do. McCoy asks why he would convict an innocent person, so Fox points out that McCoy got a promotion three weeks after Dillard's conviction. They argue over how certain the promotion was, and McCoy has to admit that he took Hawthorne to Ireland after the conviction.
Later, Hawthorne testifies. She argues that she was just doing what McCoy had taught her. She concluded that the witness was not reliable, so there was no reason to turn the statement to the defense. As for the handwriting expert, she says that McCoy always insisted that his experts sound certain on the stand.
Kincaid asks if Hawthorne swore an oath to uphold the law, and Hawthorne says that she was just following how McCoy implemented that same oath. She maintains that she never concealed evidence or suborn perjury. Fox objects when Kincaid begins to berate her over her actions. Kincaid says that Hawthorne got a lucrative job as a defense lawyer after the case. Hawthorne protests that the job came a year later, and she didn't plan for it; she left the district attorney's office because she didn't feel comfortable working with McCoy after they broke up. Kincaid then wonders if Hawthorne was tempted to do what she did to help out McCoy, who was her boss and lover.
"And you wanted his admiration... you wanted his affection."
Hawthorne tries to laugh it off, but Kincaid insists that Hawthorne acted on her own to help McCoy get the promotion he really wanted.
Late at night, Hawthorne finds McCoy in his office. She sits down on the couch and admits that Kincaid was right, and she (Hawthorne) hadn't even realized it until that moment. She finally admits that what she was wrong.
"I never asked you."
"No. But I thought you'd be grateful."
—Jack McCoy and Diana Hawthorne
Hawthorne says that she needed his gratitude. McCoy is speechless.
Later, Kincaid tells Schiff and McCoy that Hawthorne pled to a minor charge, will serve six months, and will lose her law license. Schiff complains that all of Hawthorne's cases are now being appealed, and McCoy says he'll go through them.
"You bet you will."
McCoy tells Kincaid that she could have won the case and didn't need to take the deal. Kincaid jokes that she thought taking the deal was what McCoy wanted. She chuckles, and they walk off.