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Recap / Murder She Wrote S 2 E 13 Trial By Error

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Jessica finds herself running her own version of 12 Angry Men when she ends up as jury chairman in a murder trial. When the jury retires to deliberate, most of them are ready to believe the story that the defendant killed to protect himself from an enraged husband. However, Jessica feels that some of the pieces don't fit, and she is determined to see that justice is served, even if she must drag her mostly-reluctant fellow jurors with her every step of the way.


This episode includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Confess to a Lesser Crime: Mr. Reynolds claimed he had been sleeping with Mrs. Anderson when her husband burst in with intent to kill, meaning hitting him with the poker was self-defense. If everyone thought he had been with Mrs. Anderson at the time of his wife's death, no one would suspect him of killing her.
  • A Deadly Affair: Mr. Reynolds faked a car accident to kill his wife so he could keep her money and still be with Mrs. Anderson, his lover. When Mr. Anderson found out his wife had taken another man home (or so he thought) he came storming in and threatened to kill her and Mr. Reynolds. She grabbed the poker and killed him.
  • Disability Alibi: Inverted; Jessica finds it suspicious that a man injured and hurting from a collarbone injury could win a hand-to-hand struggle to keep an uninjured opponent from shooting him with a gun.
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  • False Reassurance: The defendant, still pretending to be innocent, thanks Jessica for clearing him in the current case and says he'll never forget her. Jessica, who has already told the rest of the story to the district attorney and gotten Mrs. Anderson to act as a witness, says it contents her that justice was done and she's sure he won't.
  • I'll Kill You!: Mr. Anderson says he'll kill his wife on hearing that she has taken home another man.
  • Improvised Weapon: Mrs. Anderson picks up a poker to whack her husband with after he threatens her.
  • Is the Answer to This Question "Yes"?: One of the lawyers asks a friend of Mr. Anderson's if Mr. Anderson had a Hair-Trigger Temper. He laughs and asks if week-old fish bait smells.
  • Killing in Self-Defense: The defense's story says that Mr. Reynolds killed Mr. Anderson when he burst into Mrs. Anderson's house and tried to kill him for getting romantic with his wife. In reality, that was the story Mr. Reynolds and Mrs. Anderson came up with after Mrs. Anderson killed him in defense of herself and her lover.
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  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Mr. Reynolds faked a car accident to get rid of his wife, ramming her side of the car into a pole and knowing that she never wore her seatbelt and would sustain worse injuries. It fails because the jury foreperson is Jessica Fletcher, who wonders how a former racecar driver could wipe out so badly.
  • No-Tell Motel: The Bide-a-Wee Motel's owner says in his business, it's not smart to remember clients' faces.
  • Rogue Juror: Jessica is forewoman in a murder trial. Her fellow jurors are generally sure that the defendant killed in self-defense, while Jessica asks them to take some time to review the facts. In a subversion of the usual plot, the jury acquits, because while the defendant did commit murder (disguised as an accident), he is not guilty of the murder he's on trial for, and convicting would've allowed the real killer to go free.
  • Vorpal Pillow: Mr. Reynolds used his wife's pillow to smother her, which worked because of her previous injuries.

Example of: