Recap / Law And Order S 6 E 1 Bitter Fruit

A man is walking through a trash-filled lot at night, searching for bottles and cans to sell to a recycling center. He happily updates his count as he finds new bottles. Eventually, he comes to a large piece of plywood that is lying on the ground. He turns it over and finds a bundle, and when he unwraps the bundle he finds the dead body of a young girl. Her mouth has been duct-taped. He begins to cry at the sight, then begins yelling for help.

At the precinct, Van Buren asks Briscoe how his new partner is working out. Briscoe is unhappy that the partner, Detective Reynaldo Curtis, is so new.

"I got ties older than him. And some shoes too, I think."
—Lennie Briscoe

Van Buren quickly tells him that she wants the two of them to become real partners, and when Briscoe protests, she points out that she outranks him. She dismisses Briscoe. In the main room, Curtis bids his daughter goodnight on the phone. He says that his daughter wants Briscoe to have a good night as well, and adds that his daughter is sad for Briscoe since he doesn't have anyone to tuck him in at night. Briscoe complains about Curtis's daughter knowing about his personal life, and Curtis says that his wife wants to know about him so that she'll know who's watching Curtis's back. Briscoe gets a call, then tells Curtis that they have to go to a murder scene. He jokes that he worries about his own back while Curtis's wife worries about Curtis.

At the scene, a Crime Scene Investigator says he's performing a canvas and quickly tells the detectives what the bottle collector found. The medical technician says that the girl died between six and ten hours ago, and that the cause is unknown but her hands and head had injuries. Curtis says they should show a photo of the girl around the neighborhood, but Briscoe observes that the girl's blazer is much more expensive than anything worn in the area. Curtis smells something; the technician says it's mothballs from the sheet the girl was wrapped in. Briscoe tells the technician to make the girl's autopsy a priority. Briscoe says they should try to find a witness. As the two leave, Curtis makes the sign of the cross.

A woman in an apartment that overlooks the lot throws Curtis out of her apartment; she's stressed because her baby is teething and Curtis woke him up. Briscoe can't get any useful witnesses either, and he compares them to cigar-store Indians.

"No see-um, no talk-um."
—Lennie Briscoe

He then apologizes to Curtis, but Curtis points out that he's not a Native American. They knock on another apartment door and find a bleary-eyed resident who says he doesn't know anything. Briscoe pushes his way in, claiming to need a glass of water. The resident, Alan Krutsky, says he's retired on disability and again asks the detectives to leave so that he can finish his breakfast. Briscoe chatters for a while, then asks again if Alan saw anything; he again says he didn't. Curtis yells at him, and Briscoe keeps at him, and eventually he remembers seeing a white van driving around the lot late that night.

Rodgers tells the cops that she doesn't see any signs of sexual trauma.

"I guess killing her was traumatic enough."
—Lennie Briscoe

Rodgers says that the girl had a brain hemorrhage and died quickly thereafter. There are also wounds on the girl's forearms that indicate that she was held down; the detectives conclude that she struggled before dying. Curtis asks about the hand injuries, and Rodgers says that there were glass shards embedded in her hands and hair.

Briscoe tells Van Buren that Missing Persons doesn't have anything yet. Van Buren thinks it's just a matter of time before someone reports her. The cops fill her in on what they know, and Briscoe says that the sheet was from some mail-order place. Van Buren wants more details, but Curtis is lost in his own thoughts and has to be prompted a few times before describing the sheets — the company that made them stopped a few years ago, and there aren't any records. Van Buren tells them to go back a year and look up records of attempted abductions; the criminal might be in the system. Briscoe protests that this is a lot of overtime, but Van Buren doesn't care. A messenger comes in and tells Briscoe that he has a call, and he leaves. Before Curtis can follow, Van Buren stops him. She asks why he's distracted. Curtis says that he can't help but worry about his daughter, seeing a girl dead. Van Buren tells him that she can't use him if he's paralyzed by every case, and then says that finding the killer will help him get over it. Briscoe comes back — Missing Persons just got a report of a Jodie Gaines, whose description matches the corpse.

Mr. Gaines identifies the body in the morgue. He's visibly stunned. He informs the cops that he's divorced from his wife Karen, and that she doesn't know about what happened. At the precinct, Mrs. Gaines is silent as Mr. Gaines tries to help the detectives. Mr. Gaines says that Jodie had piano lessons the day she vanished; a school bus dropped her off and a car service takes her back. He also brings up that he had custody of Jodie. After a pause, Mr. Gaines says that Jodie was seen getting on the bus, but the piano teacher never saw her. Briscoe asks Karen if Jodie might have gone to visit her, but she says that she works late so Jodie would know not to try seeing her. Mr. Gaines says that Jodie never noticed anyone watching her. When asked who knew her schedule, Mr. Gaines says it was just her piano teacher, Perry Behrens, and the people at her school.

As the Gaines family leaves, Curtis says that they must be wondering if Jodie would be alive if they'd stuck out the marriage.

"Divorced parents are so busy making a life for themselves, the kids end up falling through the cracks."
—Reynaldo Curtis

Briscoe, who is twice divorced, is dismissive of this argument, even when Curtis claims that studies prove that kids in divorced families are worse off than those in families without a divorce.

The bus driver, Charles Fleming, says he wishes he could beat up whoever abducted Jodie. He claims that he dropped Jodie off right outside the piano teacher's house, then waited until she open the door before driving off. He also says that Jodie was his last stop, so there were no other kids in the bus, and he didn't notice anyone unusual. He says the route was perfectly normal; he then describes the streets he took and says that he only saw the usual traffic.

Behrens is adamant that Jodie never showed up. He doesn't change this story even when Curtis brings up the bus driver's story. Briscoe asks why the teacher didn't call anyone; he says that he did the first time Jodie skipped to go clothes shopping, but then he stopped bothering. Briscoe asks when his next appointment was; the teacher says that it was right after Jodie's time slot, and that person showed up on time.

Outside, the detectives wonder what to do next. Briscoe reminisces about his childhood, when, as he remembers it, the city was much less dangerous. Curtis says that he doesn't remember his youth being like that, and Briscoe jokes that Curtis's childhood was fifteen minutes ago. The two cops try to find witnesses, but can't find anyone who saw anything. Briscoe makes a joke about a road crew that appears to be taking it easy. Curtis realizes that the crew is operating on 73rd, and that the bus driver would have needed to take this road to follow his stated route. The two ask the worker leader if the road was closed the previous day. He says the street was flooded.

"Wonder if that bus driver remembers swimming up the street."
—Lennie Briscoe

In interrogation, Fleming says that he took 75th or 73rd. When the cops say that 73rd was blocked off, he says he took 75th, but when the cops say that it might have been that one that was blocked off, he says he doesn't remember.

"Why you making a big deal out of this? What difference what street I took?"
"Deal is, we think you took Jodie on a little Magical Mystery Tour."
—Charles Fleming and Reynaldo Curtis

The bus driver protests when they accuse him of kidnapping Jodie to rape her. He says he raised several children of his own, and Briscoe wonders if Fleming might have needed money to feed them. He guesses that Fleming was offered money to kidnap Jodie and accidentally killed her when she struggled. Curtis yells at Fleming, who finally admits that he didn't drop Jodie off at her teacher's door, like he was supposed to — traffic was terrible, so he dropped her off on the corner around the block. He didn't tell them before because he's required to drop students off outside their houses and to wait until they are inside; he could lose his job for dropping Jodie off early. He looks upset.

In the interrogation foyer, Briscoe thinks that the driver's remorse is sincere, while Curtis still thinks he might be the killer. Van Buren says that Fleming has no record, but she wants to hold him until they know for sure what happened. Briscoe says that there were no witnesses, but Curtis remembers that the corner where the driver now says he dropped off Jodie has an ATM, which means it has a security camera.

A bank officer shows the detectives the tape. They see the bus drop off Jodie, who walks out of the camera's view. Briscoe points out that this exonerates Charlie. Then a white van matching Alan's description speeds past the camera. The cops see a window on the van's side and identify it as a glazier truck. Curtis remembers that Jodie had glass shards in her hands.

A technician examines the video of the van. She can't get anything useful about the van, including a license plate, but they realize that the window attached to the van is fancy and probably rare.

Jamie Ehrenclou, a window specialist at a historical building conservation center, examines the video. He identifies it as a rare and expensive 19th century window. As he gets a list of buildings that have that kind of window, Briscoe asks who could handle repairing them. Ehrenclou says that any glazier could do it, but only a few would keep the specialized materials on hand. He notes that the glass is 'float glass' like the original, and was blown by hand. There's only one local distributor of such windows.

Frank Sullivan says that he does a lot of restoration, including float glass projects. He admits that his company handled a house with a 19th century float glass window, but when they ask about the van he wants to know what's going on. After some pressure, he admits that it's his van. He claims that he doesn't know off the top of his head who was driving the van. Briscoe sees a certificate of graduation from an alcohol rehabilitation clinic called the Gardener Clinic. He adds that the Gardener Clinic emphasizes good works on the part of its students, and helping the police counts. Sullivan is surprised that Briscoe knows the Clinic.

"Yeah, I, uh, read their brochure between shots."
—Lennie Briscoe

Sullivan calls a manager and finds out that the employee was Nick Capetti, who is currently on another job.

At the job site, the cops talk to Capetti. Capetti is defensive. He claims that he was in the area looking at a job, but can't remember the name of the person he says he talked to. He then says that he took a circuitous route back to Brooklyn; when asked why, he says that he wanted to stop by his mom's for dinner. He wants them to stop talking to him.

"You guys done interrogating me now?"
"This isn't an interrogation. When we interrogate you, you'll know it."
—Nick Capetti and Lennie Briscoe

When the cops ask if anyone besides his mother can vouch for his route, he says that he got a speeding ticket.

Briscoe reads Capetti's record, which is full of violent offenses, but none of children. His last crime was assaulting a shopkeeper as part of a protection scam. They haven't confirmed the ticket yet, but Van Buren says that Capetti's history and his admittance of being near the crime scene should be enough for a warrant to search his van.

A technician says that they didn't find anything in the van that could be incriminating — no blood, fibers, or DNA — except for some glass fragments, which are a general match for the shards in Jodie's hands. Curtis gets a phone call confirming that Capetti got a speeding ticket on the turnpike the night of the murder, but the time frame is such that Capetti could have already abducted the girl and gotten to the turnpike before getting the ticket. The cops bemoan that the police who ticketed Capetti didn't look in the van and find Jodie. Briscoe theorizes that Capetti killed Jodie and decided to go home for dinner, then double back into Manhattan to dump the body in order to throw off the cops. They decide to talk to Mrs. Capetti.

Mrs. Capetti says that Nick ate dinner with her, and then she went to bed. Briscoe finds a mothball near a closed door; Mrs. Capetti protests that it's just junk, but the cops insist on opening it. Mrs. Capetti doesn't want to open the door, but does when the cops threaten to get a warrant. Inside the closet, they find pillowcases and a fitted sheet that match the sheet Jodie was wrapped in.

The cops drive up to arrest Capetti, who takes off at a run. Curtis stays close behind him, with Briscoe and other officers following. Curtis eventually catches up with and knocks down Capetti.

"This oughta bring back fond memories, Nick. You're under arrest."
—Lennie Briscoe

In interrogation, Nick ignores the cops and even stretches until Briscoe slams his arm down.

"Pay attention, genius, because now we ARE interrogating you!"
—Lennie Briscoe

Nick refuses to talk until his lawyer arrives.

"Last time I checked, this was still the land of the red, white, and blue. I got rights. Now get me my lawyer."
—Nick Capetti

Briscoe slaps Capetti, and the cops leave.

Outside the courtroom, Karen Gaines approaches Briscoe and Kincaid and asks if she's in time; she is. She joins her ex-husband inside the room. Kincaid walks in, and Capetti is brought in as well. Mrs. Capetti, also there, raises her hand a few times as if waiting to be called on, but Judge Colin Fraser ignores her. The judge asks for a plea; Capetti says he's not guilty. Fraser asks Kincaid for a bail recommendation. She begins arguing for remand when shots rings out — Karen Gaines has shot Capetti three times. Capetti collapses and Gaines is wrestled to the ground as the courtroom dissolves into chaos. Curtis finds Kincaid, who dropped to the ground, and verifies that she's okay. She's spattered with blood but otherwise unharmed.

At her home, Karen sobs that Nick killed Jodie. Kincaid enters and reports that Capetti died. The cops arrest Karen, who sobs about Jodie's death. Briscoe tells her to wait for her lawyer.

Schiff yells that he wants to know how Gaines smuggled a gun into the courthouse.

"Normal-looking people out there taking the law into their own hands!"
—Adam Schiff

McCoy points out that the public is on Karen's side. Kincaid is sympathetic to Karen's point of view, but McCoy says that he's charging Karen with murder 2 — the crime was premeditated, since Karen had the presence of mind to smuggle the gun into the courthouse. Schiff vetoes this plan and insists that they make a deal. McCoy is leery of sending a message that vigilante killings are okay.

"And if she gets acquitted? What message does that send? I'm not taking any chances."
—Adam Schiff

Gaines's lawyer Douglas Greer says that he doesn't think Gaines should do a day in jail. He says that the system failed and let Capetti out of jail after all his previous offenses; now, he can't commit any more crimes. McCoy says that Gaines almost killed innocent bystanders, and Gaines expresses remorse, saying she wishes she could take it back. McCoy offers a manslaughter 1 charge and a 6 year sentence. Greer says that manslaughter 2, 1.3 years would be acceptable. McCoy shakes his head, and Greer smugly predicts victory at the trial. Kincaid suddenly suggests that Gaines plead to manslaughter 1 with a sentencing hearing; a judge would choose the amount of time Gaines served (between 2 and 6 years). Greer is okay with this, but McCoy says they'll have to get back to them.

After Greer and Gaines leave, Kincaid tries to sell McCoy on the sentencing hearing. McCoy thinks that the 2 year minimum is insufficient. Kincaid asks if Gaines hasn't been punished enough. McCoy is amazed that Kincaid is so forgiving.

"Thanks to her you had a near-death experience! I'm surprised you're so magnanimous."
—Jack McCoy

Kincaid says they have the option to show mercy. McCoy says that Capetti's sins didn't mean that Gaines could unilaterally choose to kill him; Kincaid says that maybe they shouldn't unilaterally choose to condemn Gaines either. McCoy goes along with the hearing.

"Why not let a judge decide what she deserves?"
—Claire Kincaid

In court, Mrs. Capetti testifies that Nick was a good son and supported her. McCoy brings up that he kidnapped and killed Jodie. Capetti says that she could have lived with it had Nick been arrested and sent to prison, but not with him being murdered. She shouts at Gaines.

"What gave you the right to shoot him like a dog?!"
—Mrs. Capetti

She says that it's terrible that Jodie died, but that she had no right to kill Nick. She also points out that Nick might have been innocent.

Mr. Gaines says that Mrs. Gaines was devoted to Jodie's welfare. Greer points out that Mr. Gaines was awarded custody, and Mr. Gaines says that Mrs. Gaines was once addicted to painkillers and was judged to be an unfit mother by the courts. She rehabilitated, though. He testifies that Mrs. Gaines spent as much time with Jodie as she could. Judge Eric Caffey looks touched. He says that Karen could have dealt with it had Jodie died in an accident, but not like this. He complains that the cops stopped Capetti but only gave him a speeding ticket. He says that Mrs. Gaines had no faith in the system, so she killed Capetti, and adds that he wishes that he'd shot Capetti himself.

Later, Caffey sentences Gaines to the minimum sentence of 2 years. He also says that she can serve it in a halfway house and can participate in a work-release program. Mrs. Capetti is horrified. McCoy stands to object but is shut down.

"Sit down, Mr. McCoy. I'm within my discretion."
—Eric Caffey

McCoy leaves, upset.

At the precinct, the cops tell Kincaid that it would have been a slam-dunk case — Capetti was definitely guilty. They also say there's no evidence he had help, nor any evidence that he'd heard of Jodie before he kidnapped her. Kincaid says they can close the case. Reading the paper, Briscoe comments that Karen Gaines is getting a lot of press, and then he sees something that makes him pause. Karen Gaines was treated at the Gardener Clinic, just like Capetti's boss, Sullivan.

A manager at the Clinic says that Sullivan and Gaines underwent treatment at the same time. They were in the same therapy group. When Kincaid asks if Sullivan would have learned about Gaines's daughter and rich ex-husband in therapy, the manager says that he wouldn't have needed the sessions to know that. They began having an affair during the second half of their stay at the Clinic.

In interrogation, Sullivan says that there was nothing between him and Gaines. McCoy says that it's odd that Sullivan never mentioned knowing Gaines. The cops and McCoy ask if he needed money and so asked Capetti to kidnap Jodie. He protests that they know that Capetti did it, but Briscoe says that they don't think Capetti did it alone.

"The last time Capetti had an original idea, he left it swirling in the bowl."
—Lennie Briscoe

McCoy threatens to charge Sullivan with murder. When he has the cops arrest him, Sullivan agrees to talk. He says that Karen Gaines asked him to help her. Mr. Gaines was denying her custody and visitation, so Karen wanted to scare him and make him feel what it was like to not be able to see Jodie. She asked Sullivan for help, and while Sullivan turned her down he gave her Capetti's name. He insists that neither of them knew of Capetti's violent criminal history.

Mr. Gaines tells McCoy and Kincaid that Karen Gaines was definitely capable of planning such a crime. When the lawyers point out what Mr. Gaines said in court, he responds that he said what Greer wanted him to say. He continues on, saying that Karen blames him for everything that goes wrong in her life and she's been trying to hurt him however she can ever since the divorce.

"She blames me for her addiction, for losing Jodie, her toaster doesn't work, it's my fault!"
—Mr. Gaines

When McCoy brings up Sullivan's comment that Mr. Gaines was preventing Jodie from seeing her mother, Mr. Gaines says that was Jodie's idea. One time, Karen was twelve hours late bringing Jodie home. Jodie was in tears when she finally got home. Gaines adds that Jodie had to see a child psychologist because of Mrs. Gaines's actions.

Dr. Jane Freeland says that Jodie did love her parents, but had to make tough decisions because her family was being so immature. Not seeing her mother anymore was one such decision. Kincaid asks about the incident that Mr. Gaines referred to. Freeland says that Karen drove Jodie around all night, ranting about Mr. Gaines's evil deeds. She adds that Mr. Gaines could 'dish it out' too; he stopped some of Jodie's dance lessons because they would put Jodie near her mother.

Schiff and McCoy muse about the messed-up family. Kincaid says that Double Jeopardy will prevent them from arresting Karen for Capetti's murder, even if they now think the shooting was to kill an accomplice. McCoy says they can still charge her for Karen's murder. She hired Capetti to kidnap Jodie, and Jodie died, ergo, Karen Gaines committed felony murder. Schiff worries that they won't be able to make the kidnapping charge; the defense will say it's custodial interference at the worst. McCoy says they have Sullivan's testimony, but Schiff points out that accomplice testimony isn't enough.

"That and a dollar twenty-five gets you on a subway."
—Adam Schiff

McCoy says they'll get collaboration. Maybe, he reasons, Capetti told his mother what was going on.

At Mrs. Capetti's home, she just wants the lawyers to leave. McCoy says that Karen will get away with murder unless Mrs. Capetti helps them. He asks several leading questions about whether or not Capetti told his mother that Karen hired him to do the kidnapping. She says that Capetti didn't mean to kill anyone; he just wanted Jodie to be quiet. McCoy asks if Capetti told her why Karen wanted Jodie kidnapped, and shushes Kincaid when she points out that Mrs. Capetti wouldn't know that. McCoy directly says that, the more Capetti says, the better the odds of convicting Karen Gaines. Kincaid looks away. Mrs. Capetti pauses, then nods and says that her son told her that, after he hurt Jodie, he called Karen Gaines saying he wanted to take Jodie to the hospital. Karen told him not to and asked him to just dump the body so they wouldn't go to jail. Kincaid looks like she doesn't believe the story.

Outside, McCoy says that telling Capetti not to go to the hospital is Depraved Indifference Homicide, a murder 2 charge. Kincaid points out that this is perjury, and she excoriates McCoy for wanting to use obviously false testimony. McCoy admits that he knows Mrs. Capetti is lying, but doesn't seem to care.

"I can't believe I'm hearing this."
—Claire Kincaid

McCoy, tired of Kincaid's criticisms, says that he wants two things: justice for the dead and respect from the living. He insists that Mrs. Gaines has to answer for what she did. Kincaid points out that there have to be limits to how far McCoy will go. McCoy finally admits that he doesn't plan to have Mrs. Capetti testify.

"Just between you and me and the lamppost, I have no intention of putting Mrs. Capetti on the stand. All I want to do is survive a motion to dismiss."
—Jack McCoy

He says that they need to scare Karen or she'll walk. He tells Kincaid to have Curtis and Briscoe arrest Karen.

In court, Greer attempts to have the case dismissed for lack of evidence. He says that Mrs. Capetti's testimony is hearsay and thus inadmissible. Judge Janine Pate seems inclined to agree. McCoy says that he would rather ask Capetti, but Karen killed him. Greer says that Capetti's testimony about what Karen said would still be hearsay, but McCoy points out that this would be a statement against interest, which is an exception to hearsay. When Greer points out that Capetti isn't there, so it doesn't matter, McCoy says he has other evidence proving that Karen Gaines set the kidnapping plot in motion. Pate decides to allow Mrs. Capetti's statements and denies Greer's motion to dismiss.

In a conference room, Greer says that Karen will plead to custodial interference. McCoy says that's not nearly a big enough charge. Greer says that murder 2 is a big charge and doubts that Mrs. Capetti will hold up on the stand. McCoy says that, once they hear that Karen hired a convicted rapist to kidnap her own daughter, they'll believe anything Mrs. Capetti says about her. Karen protests that Capetti never called her.

"What kind of mother do you think I am?"
—Karen Gaines

She goes on a rant about the sacrifices she's made and about her husband using his wealth to get custody of Jodie. She blames him for her painkiller addiction and for Jodie no longer wanting to see her.

"I loved her!"
"But. You hated your husband more."
—Karen Gaines and Jack McCoy

Karen collapses into a chair, sobbing, and insists that she never meant anything like this to happen. Greer tries to get a 1 year manslaughter 2 charge, but McCoy wants manslaughter 1, a six year sentence total, and none of it served in a halfway house.

Later, Kincaid tells McCoy that Mr. Gaines is suing Karen for Jodie's death. McCoy points out that Karen has no money, and being in jail, won't be making any money any time soon. Kincaid remarks that it's hard to believes the Gaines's loved each other, but McCoy says they must have been in love at some point — otherwise they wouldn't hate each other so much.

  • Note: first appearance of Detective Reynaldo Curtis