Two joggers are trotting through Central Park. They bicker about eating habits, as they pass over a bridge, but when they finish crossing the bridge they turn and see a man beating a woman (already lying on the ground) on the road they just passed over. One of the joggers quickly uses an air horn to hail another jogger, who charges down under the bridge. The man assaulting the woman flees, followed by the jogger. The original couple flag down some mounted police officers to tell them what happened. One of the officers takes off through the woods, and eventually finds the third jogger, lying on the ground with a knife in his chest. He is still able to describe which way the criminal ran, and he says he got one of the man's gloves.
Later, the officer tells Briscoe and Curtis that the criminal jumped the western wall of Central Park. The jogger described the criminal as a dark-haired Hispanic man. Curtis is impressed by the jogger's resilience.
Another officer tells the detectives that there was no wallet on the corpse, and no signs of sexual assault; the man was just pulling down the woman's pants when the joggers showed up. He theorizes that the criminal must have tried to stun the woman before raping her; he probably wasn't trying to kill her. Approaching her body, they see a medical technician, who says that the woman died.
On the other side of the wall, the detectives talk to doormen, but can't get any useful information. Eventually they find a bellhop who saw the man dash across the street and into the subway. The detectives are upset at losing the trail.
Van Buren drives up; she says that when a white female jogger is attacked the media plays it up, so she needs to be on the scene. A forensic technician, atop a pile of rocks, yells that he found something. Curtis vaults over a stone railing to climb the rock pile. Briscoe and Van Buren move more carefully.
The technician shows the cops a footprint left by the criminal, as well as some dropped change that fell when the criminal pulled out his knife. The change includes a 20 peso coin, which Curtis identifies as the popular subway slug; they are similar enough to subway tokens that they can fool the machines, and are much cheaper than actual subway coins. Van Buren says they should check the subway station coin boxes; the criminal would have had to take off his glove to put a token into the subway turnstiles, so if he used a peso coin, they might be able to find that coin and lift a fingerprint.
At the precinct, another technician says that they found three peso coins, two with prints, only one of which was in the system — a man named Francis Murphy. Curtis reads the file on Murphy and sees that he doesn't match the profile they have; Murphy is black, but the guy they're looking for is Hispanic. The technician says they didn't get any other useful prints, but the knife is rare and expensive, and only a couple dozen stores in the city would sell it. Curtis says they should start looking at knife stores to see if anyone remembers selling such a knife, but Briscoe wants to find Murphy first. their guy may have gotten his coin from him.
They find Murphy's parole officer, who is watching another of her inmates and hoping that he delays going to work long enough to violate his parole. They ask where Murphy is, and she names a barbecue place, but says he's likely not there. At the barbecue place, the proprietor, says he fired Murphy for not paying attention. He says he hires mostly ex-convicts, since he himself is one, but he fires any who don't do the work correctly. He adds that Murphy sold stolen and fake goods, and most recently has been selling subway slugs, and tells them where Murphy hangs out. He invites the detectives in for lunch, and they accept.
Murphy denies any knowledge of criminal activity.
"Kind of a zen thing, huh, Francis? Keep your life pure and simple?"
"I don't know."
"I hate to intrude on your ignorance, but do you know this guy?"
—Francis Murphy and Lennie Briscoe
Curtis grabs his bag of pesos as motivation for Murphy to talk. He admits to selling some coins to the man, but doesn't know his name. Curtis keeps the coins as they walk away.
Later, Curtis and Briscoe tell Van Buren that they checked 17 knife stores and found nothing. Profaci says that someone on their canvas knew the victim slightly; her name was Emily and she lived on East 86th street. Briscoe says that they can continue searching knife stores or can check every apartment on East 86th. Van Buren says that Profaci will continue searching for Emily's full identity, and the others should resume the knife shop search.
At Weller's Sporting Goods, the clerk recognizes the police sketch of the man who killed Emily. The man collected gambling debts; one time, when the clerk owed money, he came to the store and took a knife as he was collecting his money. The clerk is reluctant to say who the criminal was working for, but once Briscoe promises that they won't mention his name, he admits that it was Joey Giabone, a mob boss.
At his bowling alley, Giabone is dismissive. He doesn't want to cooperate with the cops. Curtis says that Giabone is being investigated for extortion, prostitution, and the murder of two witnesses at a mafia trial. They ask again who the assaulter is, saying that they know he worked for Giabone, and after seeing the sketch, Giabone says he fired the guy a year ago. He finally tells the cops the man's name — Luis Cruz.
At a payphone, Briscoe calls the precinct and gets Cruz's information. Cruz has a history of violent crime, and lives at Arancia Apartments. But when the cops get to the apartment building, the super says that Cruz left over a year ago. Then Curtis gets a phone call. Emily was identified, and her husband — back from a business trip — will meet the cops at the morgue.
At the morgue, Briscoe and Curtis enter the viewing room — to see Michael Dobson, a criminal whom Briscoe investigated with his previous partner, Logan. Dobson wonders what happened to Logan.
"Where's the other guy?"
—Michael Dobson and Lennie Briscoe
Curtis asks what's going on. Briscoe exposits that Dobson was arrested by Logan and Briscoe for killing his first wife (see: Coma (episode))
Dobson identifies the body, and he and Briscoe bicker. Briscoe says that Dobson should be in jail, and Dobson gets mad.
"Yeah, and we should talk about that."
—Michael Dobson and Lennie Briscoe
Dobson leaves in a huff.
At the precinct, Van Buren and Briscoe fill Curtis in on their previous encounter with Dobson. Dobson's former wife was going to divorce him and take his money and the kids.
Van Buren says that the case was dropped when they found proof that another man, a junky, killed Dobson's wife. Everyone had assumed that Dobson had killed her himself, so when they found the junky the charges against Dobson were dismissed. Later, they learned that the junky had worked at Dobson's business, a comedy club. But not only could they not prove that Dobson had hired the junky, Double Jeopardy would prevent them from trying. Curtis doesn't see what motive has for killing his new wife.
"Always the romantic."
—Lennie Briscoe and Anita Van Buren
A neighbor says that Emily was nice and Dobson doted on her. The neighbor adds that he never saw Dobson yell at or hit Emily, or saw any bruises on Emily. He finishes by saying that Dobson cared about his kids more than anything else. Another neighbor, Rhonda Levine, has little new information for them, and confirms that Dobson and his wife got along well. Dobson enters the apartment with his kids; upon seeing the detectives, he smirks, then tells Levine that she should tell the detectives the truth.
Outside, the cops approach Dobson as he gets into a taxi.
"Here's my card. Why don't you just fax it on over?"
—Michael Dobson and Lennie Briscoe
Dobson says the cops are determined to convict him no matter what, and jokes that he once laced his wife's ice skates too tight so he's clearly a murderer. Briscoe says that they're going to Dobson's restaurant next.
A waitress, Margaret Nash, says that the customers loved Emily. She and Michael were in the restaurant all the time; it was hard work getting it off the ground. They got the capital when Dobson sold his comedy club; he handled most of the business aspects. Curtis asks why Dobson was out of town when his wife was killed, and Nash says that Dobson was in San Fransisco trying to get a franchise deal on his restaurant. He called the restaurant multiple times a day to see how they were doing. Briscoe observes that this would also establish an alibi, and when Nash asks what he means, Briscoe asks who handles the restaurant's insurance. She says she'll check the files.
At Beryl Insurance, the agent says that Dobson was a brilliant comedian. Briscoe asks what policies Dobson had, and the agent says that Dobson used to have fire, theft, liability, and partnership policies. Briscoe asks about the last one, and the agent says that, since the Dobsons were co-owners of the restaurant, they had a policy so that if one of them died the other would get a million dollars to keep the business going. He says that this is standard for businesses with multiple owners. However, the Dobsons ran into financial problems when the restaurant didn't make as much money as predicted, and Dobson canceled all of his policies except for the partnership one.
Van Buren jokes that a million dollars would ease the sting of being a widow. Curtis says that everyone thought the Dobsons had the perfect marriage, and they know Cruz did it anyway. Briscoe points out that Dobson has a history of using intermediaries to kill people. Van Buren says that they need to link Dobson and the killer sooner this time, and Briscoe points out that Cruz worked for Giabone, who was with the mob, and restaurant owners often have to deal with mobbed-up businesses. Van Buren has Curtis call a friend in the Organized Crime Control Bureau (OCCB) to see if Dobson had mob connections.
The friend, Detective Jones, says that the restaurant was in a pilot anti-corruption zone; there weren't many mob connections in the area. The trash and vending services are legitimate businesses. Linen services were connected to a mob outfit, but not one of Giabone's.
Jones continues on and says that the comedy club that Dobson used to own did use one of Giabone's companies for garbage pickup. As the cops leave, Jones tells Curtis that he should come to the OCCB Christmas parties again.
"Why Rey. You never dance with me."
—Detective Jones and Lennie Briscoe
Dobson tries to stop the cops from entering his apartment, but lets them in when Briscoe says they think they know who killed Emily. Inside, Briscoe asks if Cruz looks familiar, and gives Dobson a picture.
Dobson continues to make verbal jabs at the detectives. They say that they know that Cruz worked for Giabone, who did Dobson's trash. They tell him that, if he knows Cruz, he needs to admit it. Dobson gets mad, saying that they want to endanger his life by having him tell stories about the mob. He rants that he has to deal with scum when he's an honest businessman just trying to get by, and that the police are too corrupt or lazy to fight the mob effectively. He throws Curtis and Briscoe out of his place.
Briscoe tells Van Buren that the San Fransisco police saw Dobson in town when his wife died. Looking at Dobson's cell phone records, they found no calls to or from Cruz, and one call from Dobson to his kids, which he can use as another alibi — he wouldn't have called his wife if he knew she had died. Briscoe and Van Buren complain that Dobson covered his trail too well, but Curtis finds something in the cell phone records - - Dobson got a ten second phone call from a pay phone twenty minutes after his wife died. The pay phone was near a station on the same line as the one that Cruz took. The call was charged to a Herbert Jaffe.
Jaffe says that he just got a $20,000 phone bill — people placed calls in his name all over the world. Someone saw him punch his credit card number into a pay phone. The detectives talk to an officer who patrols the area near the pay phone, and he says that some criminals can read people's card numbers from how they move their fingers, and then sell those numbers to whoever wants them. He doesn't recognize Cruz, but he does have a list of the people who are known to sell credit card numbers in the area, and one of them is Francis Murphy. After tracking Murphy down again, slamming him against a couple of walls, and threatening to arrest Murphy for the murder, he admits to knowing Cruz. He doesn't know where he is, but knows that he has a girlfriend, an Asian prostitute named Joy.
Curtis talks to two hookers and asks if they know someone named Joy. After saying that she's Asian and Cruz's girlfriend, they remember who she is. They tell the cops where Joy is. The police go to her place and burst down her door, but Joy says that Cruz fled to Mexico, stealing all her cash in the process.
Dobson, in interrogation, complains about police harassment. He denies everything, and his attorney, Marcia Starnell, says that he doesn't need to talk to the cops. Briscoe goes outside to talk to Van Buren, Kincaid, and McCoy.
McCoy says that they could use Cruz to make the case, but Van Buren says that they probably won't find him. Briscoe and Van Buren urge McCoy to okay arresting Dobson, and he assents. Dobson is arrested for murder.
In court, Judge Ari Waxman is surprised to see a 1st-degree murder charge. Kincaid says that Dobson hired someone to kill his wife; hiring an assassin is first degree murder. She urges remand, since the death penalty is an option. Starnell says that Dobson runs a business and has two children, and Dobson adds that he's their only parent. Kincaid points out that Dobson killed their mother, but when Waxman asks if he's charged with that, she says that this is a subsequent homicide. After more bickering, Waxman remands Dobson.
Schiff complains that Dobson killed again.
When McCoy vows to make the case, Schiff points out that McCoy dismissed the charges last time. Kincaid says they have a lot of evidence that Cruz and Dobson knew each other, but Schiff points out that they don't actually have Cruz. McCoy says that, if they can talk about what happened to the first Mrs. Dobson, they don't need Cruz. Schiff says that this is unlikely.
In chambers, Judge Harold Kaiser hears Starnell argue that mentioning the first dead wife would be prejudicial. McCoy argues that it shows a pattern, but Starnell says that Dobson was never convicted of the first murder. Kincaid says that a conviction isn't necessary to admit the testimony, but Kaiser says that he does have to weigh the lack of a conviction in whether he admits it. Starnell says that, if the jury knew about the first murder they might convict on that, which would violate double jeopardy.
"Yes, they are."
—Jack McCoy and Harold Kaiser
The first murder is excluded.
In jail, Dobson wants to see his kids. After he and McCoy bicker, he gets up to terminate the interview, but McCoy says they aren't done. He offers a murder 2 charge. Starnell asks about a sentencing recommendation, but Dobson doesn't want to hear it.
He says that the only reason he wanted to get out of his first marriage was because he wanted to marry Emily.
He insists again that he didn't kill anyone.
Kincaid tells Schiff that Dobson just gave them another murder for the first murder, but Schiff points out that it doesn't matter. McCoy says that he wants to go for the death penalty. Kincaid says they have time to make that decision, and Schiff clarifies that it's his decision, not theirs. Kincaid says that life in prison will stop Dobson from killing more wives, but Schiff says that he could buy a hitman on the outside for $500. Kincaid says that Dobson won't be able to do that from jail, but Schiff says that, rather, he wants to send a message — if someone hires a murderer, the price will rise to $500 and a lethal injection. He says they're seeking the death penalty. Kincaid says that they still need to convict Dobson, and Schiff wonders if Dobson has another girlfriend now, like before.
Briscoe and Curtis talk to one of Dobson's busboys. The busboy says that he doesn't want to disrespect the dead or tell stories about other people's lives, but the cops insist. He eventually admits that Dobson was having a relationship with Nash, the waitress.
Nash tries to deny the relationship, but when Kincaid says they have proof, she just says that she won't testify. She says that Michael and her are in love, and that Michael was getting a divorce and had already discussed it with Emily. Kincaid says there's no record of it, but Nash trusts Dobson.
Later, Kincaid tells McCoy about the meeting.
Kincaid says that they have several motives now, and McCoy says that Starnell knows it — she just called asking for a deal.
Starnell says they'll take first-degree manslaughter. McCoy says that it's weird that Dobson would plead when he's innocent, but Dobson says that McCoy will make him look guilty anyway. McCoy says that Dobson will have to confess, but when Dobson jokes about his motives, McCoy says there's no deal. Then Kincaid gets a call — INS just picked up Luis Cruz at JFK Airport.
McCoy says that, if Cruz testifies about what Dobson did, McCoy won't seek the death penalty. Kincaid says that they have several eye witnesses, including the jogger who got stabbed. McCoy offers murder 2, saying that Cruz's testimony isn't crucial to the case. Cruz doesn't want to talk, but speaks up once McCoy begins to leave. He says that Dobson paid him $10,000 to kill Emily, and he knew Dobson from the comedy club, where Giabone was shaking down Dobson. He says that Giabone had him working loan-shark and extortion rackets. Kincaid wonders where the money went, since Cruz robbed his girlfriend before fleeing the country. Cruz says that Dobson mailed the money to a postal box, and he hadn't gotten it yet. He planned to come back for it in a year, but the mailbox place called Joy and said that mail had to be picked up in thirty days or it would be returned.
In his office, McCoy is happy about the latest turn of events.
Then Briscoe enters with an envelope — they found the money in Cruz's postal box. Unfortunately, not only are Dobson's fingerprints not on it, but Joey Giabone's are. Kincaid and McCoy wonder if Giabone hired Cruz to kill Emily, instead of Dobson. Briscoe still thinks that Dobson did it, and McCoy challenges Briscoe to explain it. He can't.
At his bowling alley, Giabone and his lawyer say that they'll cooperate in exchange for immunity. McCoy is surprised by their audacity, and says that there's no way that will happen, since Giabone is under investigation for a dozen major crimes. Giabone says he won't cooperate otherwise. Outside, Kincaid recalls that Cruz said that Giabone loan-sharked too. She wonders if Dobson might have borrowed money from Giabone and not paid it back, which would give Giabone a motive to kill his wife.
Kincaid talks to Nash, who doesn't want to cooperate anymore. She says that,, even if Dobson owed money to the mob, she still trusts him. She eventually admits that Dobson owed money to Giabone, and was scared. Kincaid is incredulous that Nash didn't mention this before, but Nash says that she thought it would make Dobson look guiltier.
Dobson says he doesn't want to cooperate; he's scared that Giabone will have him killed. Kincaid points out that he'll be killed if he's convicted, and McCoy asks if Dobson is worried about his children being killed by the mob.
He rants about how stupid everyone else is, and McCoy tells him to just explain what's going on. Dobson says that he owed Giabone money; the restaurant wasn't working out.
Dobson says that Giabone threatened his kids if he talked.
Cruz's lawyer complains that Cruz has been cooperating, but McCoy doesn't believe it anymore. Cruz essentially admits that he was really working for Giabone, and he says that he can turn over Giabone. Cruz and his lawyer say they'll take manslaughter 1 and witness protection, and he'll testify.
Schiff is amused by this turn of events.
McCoy and Kincaid muse that Cruz was about to nail Dobson, and now he's exonerating him. Schiff thinks this is very convenient.
"That's interesting, isn't it."
—Claire Kincaid and Adam Schiff
McCoy calls the postal box company and says that he has some mail but can't pick it up for a while; he wants to know how long they'll hold it. They tell him that they'll hold his mail forever, so long as he pays his bill. Schiff wonders who called Joy to tell her that the mail would be returned. The cops bring Joy in for a voice lineup, and she identifies Margaret Nash as the caller. She attempts to break into the viewing room to assault Nash, and she's restrained while Briscoe leads Nash out.
Briscoe confirms that they're all on the same page.
The cops and lawyers conclude that Dobson asked Nash to call Joy.
In a conference room, Dobson smugly says that he still won't testify. Starnell says that, if McCoy really thinks Giabone did it, he's obligated to release Dobson whether or not he testifies. Dobson says that he won't endanger his family. McCoy has Nash brought in, even when Dobson protests that she's not involved. When Nash enters, Dobson quickly tries to silence her.
McCoy and Dobson try to convince Nash that Dobson is guilty and innocent, respectively. McCoy reveals the phone calls. Nash admits that Dobson asked her to make the calls. McCoy asks Nash how Dobson could have even known Joy's number, but Nash just says that Dobson knew the mob. However, when McCoy asks how Dobson knew which mailbox was Cruz's, she can't explain it, and neither can Dobson.
Dobson tries to convince her to keep trusting him, and she gets up to leave without saying anything. McCoy threatens to charge her with being an accomplice, then points out that being Dobson's third wife could result in her death. He shows her a photo of Dobson's first wife's body, then one of Emily's. This finally breaks Nash's trust in Dobson, and she begins to cry. Dobson looks unhappy.
Later, Kincaid says that she still can't believe Dobson committed the same murder twice. Schiff says that people like Dobson assume they can talk their way out of anything. Kincaid says that Dobson will be appealing and delaying his death sentence well into the new millenium.