LAW AND ORDER SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT "CREDIT" By Matt Sheppo
Matt Sheppo [email protected]
M. SHEPPO LAW AND ORDER SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT “CREDIT” TEASER FADE IN: INT. THAD AND BARRY’S APARTMENT - NIGHT THAD, a preppy looking guy in his 20s, stands in his kitchen, perturbed by a smell in the air. He opens a cabinet under the sink and grabs a bag of trash. He sniffs it. THAD Christ, Barry... (calling) Barry! He heads through the bland, middle class apartment, arriving at: BARRY’S ROOM Entering the open door, Thad looks down at BARRY, a large, unkempt man strewn across the floor. PSYCHEDELIC MUSIC plays trough a stereo. THAD Barry, please, if all you’re gonna eat is tuna, disgusting by the way, throw the empty-- Barry? Thad nudges the unmoving Barry with his foot. Nothing. He bends down to get a closer look, putting his finger tips under Barry’s oily nostrils. Again, nothing. He turns Barry’s head to the side and a frothy white substance drains out of his mouth, down his cheek. THAD (CONT'D) Oh Jesus, Barry. Barry!! Suddenly, Barry lets out a stuttered HICCUP and rolls over. There is a bong underneath him, the water soaking the floor. A content smile comes to Barry’s lips. Thad shakes his head. CUT TO: EXT. APARTMENT BUILDING ALLEY - NIGHT Thad opens a dumpster lid and tosses the trash bag inside. As he’s about to close the lid, he does a double take. He looks in the dumpster, flinching in fear.
THAD’S POV: A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN, early 30s, partly buried in trash, lies dead inside. Her shirt is unbuttoned and there is blood everywhere, staining what appears to be a white sheet draped around her. Dim light from somewhere above bounces off her face, making her glow with warmth. Thad, looking oddly calm, stands in place, staring at her. CUT TO: EXT. APARTMENT BUILDING ALLEY - DAWN Arriving on scene, detectives OLIVIA BENSON and ELLIOT STABLER approach the LEAD COP, badges displayed. Police work around them, the area roped off with tape. STABLER Stabler and Benson, Special Victims. What do you got? LEAD COP Tenant from the building found her in the dumpster, doesn’t recognize her. There is a series of knife wounds and small cuts in her back, her throat’s slit. No weapon in the dumpster, no blood trail. Looks like she was wrapped in a bed sheet and tossed. We found the ID in her jeans pocket. The Lead Cop hands Benson a bag with the victim's wallet, Benson pulls out the ID. STABLER Signs of a sexual assault? LEAD COP Her jeans and shirt were unbuttoned and she’s not wearing panties, so we called you. BENSON (reading the ID) Jeannie Connors, age 32. Lives... (looks around) In this building across the street. STABLER Lets get CSU over there, see if we can’t find our crime scene. The Lead Cop heads off. sky.
Benson looks up at the brightening
3. BENSON What a way to start the day... (re: the ID) She’s pretty. Even for a driver’s license.
She hands Stabler the ID.
He takes a look.
STABLER (depressed) Was... She was pretty. CUT TO: INT. JEANNIE CONNOR’S APARTMENT - A BIT LATER A FORENSICS TEAM goes over the apartment reporting to Benson and Stabler, who stand in the living room near the kitchen. The place is in disarray with overturned furniture and puddles of blood scattered about. An INVESTIGATOR carefully sweeps up small rocks of shattered glass that cover the floor. The LEAD FORENSICS INVESTIGATOR approaches Benson and Stabler. LEAD FORENSICS IVESTIGATOR So far just blood, no semen. But the glass is from a shattered table top, we’ll check it for fluids. He motions to a bare table frame in the kitchen area. and stabler walk towards it.
STABLER (to Benson) So maybe the doer rapes her on the table, during which it shatters. If so, it likely would have cut him too. A TEAM MEMBER walks out from the bedroom. large chef’s knife.
He’s holding a
TEAM MEMBER Detectives, I think we have the murder weapon. STABLER Lets dust that for prints, and see if it matches other knives in the kitchen. From behind Stabler, JOHN SOLOMON, late 40s, dressed in Eddie Bauerish outdoor clothing, wanders hesitantly into the apartment from the front door.
4. STABLER (CONT'D) (loudly, to everyone) Listen up, we have a lot of blood here, a lot of broken glass, and a stabbing with a long struggle. So lets find two types of blood if it’s there. Lets also get the sheets off the bed, see if they’re a match-BENSON --Elliot.
Benson motions to John, who looks utterly shocked, as he moves into the apartment. JOHN (to himself) Oh no... Oh my God no... Benson and Stabler rush over to John. back to the door.
They try to move him
STABLER Sir, sir-(pissed, to an officer) Who secured this scene? The police officer rushes off. JOHN Oh Jesus Christ no... John falls to the ground pushing forward towards a large pool of blood and glass. He falls into it. BENSON Sir, please, this is a crime scene, You’re going to-JOHN --Oh Jeannie, No!
He wipes his hands in the blood, tears now filling his eyes. Benson and Stabler’s eyes meet. What a way to find out... END OF TEASER
5. ACT ONE
LOCALE CARD: APARTMENT OF JOHN SOLOMON - 264 CENTRAL PARK WEST - TUESDAY, MAY 24
INT. JOHN SOLOMON’S APARTMENT - DAY Benson and Stabler sit on a sofa in a classy, well decorated apartment. Across from them in a modern leather chair is John Solomon, still very distraught. He’s dressed as before, some blood now on his shirt. JOHN It was like out of a dream, or a television show or something. I got to her building to pick her up and the police were outside, and I just knew... A hundred people in her building, and even before I went upstairs, I just knew. John tears up, Benson hands him a tissue. STABLER Mr. Solomon, your forearm, what happened? John looks down at three small Band-Aids on his arm. JOHN From this morning, the glass. I’m sorry I touched the scene, I hope I didn’t ruin anything? BENSON Why were you there for Jeannie so early? JOHN We were going hiking up state. Wanted an early start. STABLER And what about last night? Were you with Jeannie last night? JOHN It happened last night? know when?
BENSON We’re not sure on the exact time of death, the Medical Examiner is looking her over now.
6. JOHN Oh Jesus...
John’s eyes well up again. track.
Stabler tries to keep him on
STABLER I’m sorry, but last night John? JOHN I was home the whole night alone, writing. BENSON You never left your apartment? JOHN No, I was here from about 6 on. have a new show, we’re starting production.
BENSON You’re a television writer? JOHN And producer. (melancholy smile) That’s how Jeannie and I met. Yes.
STABLER Mr. Solomon, I’m sorry I have to ask, but when were Jeannie and you last intimate? JOHN I, I don’t really-- Wait, why? Benson and Stabler exchange a look. gets it.
After a moment, John
JOHN (CONT’D) Oh my God... John looks sick to his stomach. He stands and begins pacing, like he wants to run away from this. BENSON John, we know it’s been an emotional day, we can come back later if you---No.
JOHN No I’m fine...
John composes himself, stops pacing.
7. JOHN (CONT’D) Please, I want to help you in any way I can.
John sits back down. JOHN (CONT'D) It’s, it’s been a little while I guess. A week maybe. I think last Wednesday. We had a disagreement, hiking today was my way of making it up to her. STABLER You were fighting?
JOHN Not fighting really, we never fought, just a difference of opinion. I was trying to convince Jeannie to go back to work, to acting, she didn’t agree that was best. BENSON Best how? JOHN Jeannie had been depressed lately, and I think the kids were getting to her. She spent all her time at a center for abused children in Chelsea. I thought she should get involved in other things. Have her mind other places. STABLER This children’s center, that’s how Jeannie supported herself? JOHN I don’t think she took anything from the center, just volunteered. She has a wealthy family, trust fund. We met on the set of the first television series I produced about 7 years ago, this teen drama that never took off. She was an actress and model then, but an equally beautiful heart to match. What an angel she was... John smiles at the memory. BENSON You had been dating for 7 years?
8. JOHN No, just the last year and a half. We had stayed friends, but I got involved on a spin-off series that shot in Los Angeles, The Precinct LA. BENSON Can you think of anyone who would have wanted to hurt Jeannie, anyone at all now or from her past, exhusband or boyfriends?
John thinks for a moment, then shakes his head. JOHN No one. STABLER Have you seen anyone strange around her building, was she having problems with a neighbor, or did she mention an argument at the center? JOHN No... Nothing... BENSON Think hard Mr. Solomon. After a moment, John has a thought. JOHN Wait. Actually, there is this man... This man, outside her building. An older guy, he looks Italian, he’s always outside, waiting there at night, like he’s waiting for a cab that never comes. BENSON This man, did you or Jeannie ever speak to him? JOHN I think Jeannie said she offered him some food once, but I wasn’t there. She said he didn’t even respond. BENSON Was he homeless?
9. JOHN I didn’t think so, he was dressed well enough. But he would just stand next to the street, by the door at all hours, he’d never move from the same spot. I always told Jeannie to move, that she could afford to live anywhere in the city... Do you think this man could have done something to her? BENSON We’ll definitely look into it.
Benson jots something down in her notebook. for a moment.
John watches her
JOHN I suppose you two are used to this sort of thing by now? STABLER You never really get used to it. Or at least I hope I never do. JOHN It’s funny, I wrote about this stuff for years, just flippantly putting words on paper like it was nothing. Murder, rape, stabbing, perp, vic... Those words sound so different when they’re in reference to someone you love. John looks off to the side out a window. changed.
His life forever CUT TO:
INT. SVU SQUADROOM - DAY Benson and Stabler walk over to their desks, both tired. They sling their jackets over their chairs before falling into them. Just as they plop down, CAPTAIN CRAIGEN enters. CRAIGEN Olivia, Elliot, what did you get from the children’s center? STABLER Six volunteers who said Jeannie was a gift sent by God, that no one would want to hurt her, and no offer of coffee.
10. CRAIGEN I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the machine’s down. BENSON Again?
Detectives FIN and MUNCH enter. back area of the room.
They head over to table in a
CRAIGEN Gentleman, tell me you got a little more to go on from her building? FIN Neighbor after neighbor reported they didn’t hear or see anything last night. We got nothing but up early. Munch picks up a coffee pot and pours. MUNCH That building was constructed at the turn of the century, when people took pride in their work and built things to last. It’s not surprising it’s so quiet, the walls are no doubt thick and sturdy, not like today’s plywood and drywall jobs. FIN (to Munch) I know something else built at the turn of the century that’s plenty thick. Fin playfully knocks on Munch’s forehead.
He’s not amused.
MUNCH Just for that I’m not sharing the rest of this coffee. Fin, cup in hand, tries to get the pot from Munch. What? down?
BENSON Captain, you said it was
CAPTAIN I thought it was. After a moment of “cat and mouse” Fin gets the pot, and pours a cup.
11. CAPTAIN (CONT'D) Ok, if the lover’s quarrel is over lets get back to work. Elliot and Olivia, the M.E. is ready for you two. John and Fin, you can start by handing over that pot of joe.
Craigen goes to pour himself a cup. Benson and Stabler stand up and begin slowly putting their jackets back on. FIN (to Benson and Stabler) What did you guys get from the boyfriend? BENSON Nothing really, pretty typical, though he did mention, quote, “some creepy old guy” who’s always standing outside the building at night. CRAIGEN Well until we have more, Fin and John, you two are on that tonight. FIN (to Benson) But did you get a sense he fought a lot with Jeannie? BENSON Said he didn’t, why? FIN No one hears squat in that building now, but the guy above her apartment swears he heard them fighting every other night back in the summer, when both places would have their windows open. Said it was always muffled, but sounded like pretty intense arguing. STABLER Well we’ll see what the M.E. says, but I got to say I’m not surprised, he rubbed me the wrong way. BENSON How? He seemed like a typical grieving boyfriend to me? STABLER Don’t know. Just call it a feeling...
Benson and Stabler head over to the coffee table. MUNCH Well if that feeling is right, this “creepy old guy” could be a wild goose chase. CRAIGEN Until we know more you’re checking it out anyway. Besides I understand there’s some turn of the century architecture for you to admire. BENSON Captain? Benson displays the now empty coffee pot. CRAIGEN Sorry Olivia, I’ll make a fresh pot. He flips a switch on the machine and it shorts out, a bit of smoke wafting out from the top. Craigen tries not to laugh. Benson and Stabler share a defeated look and head for the exit. CUT TO: INT. MEDICAL EXAMINER’S LAB - DAY Benson and Stabler, cups of Starbucks in hand, stand with the M.E., DR. MELINDA WARNER, above Jeannie’s body which is outstretched on a table, a blue sheet covering her. M.E. WARNER (re: the coffee) You two really shouldn’t have those in here. BENSON Please, you don’t know what we went through for these. So what have you found? M.E. WARNER Take a look. She peals back the sheet, showing Jeannie’s face. She turns her face to the side revealing deep slashes on her neck. M.E. WARNER (CONT’D) She was killed when her left carotid artery was severed by the chef’s knife found at the scene. (MORE)
M. SHEPPO M.E. WARNER(CONT'D) The cut starts here on the back of her neck, wrapping around. The knife’s only prints matched Jeannie’s, though we found traces of powder on the handle, the same type found in examination gloves.
BENSON Could be from our guys? M.E. WARNER No, the NYPD switched to gloves, which are powder What I found matches the cheaper latex you get in stores, unfortunately it means rare.
nitrile free. type of drug is by no
STABLER But it does tell us this was premeditated. What else did you find? M.E. WARNER She was raped, just before dying. And it was pretty brutal, done with some sort of object. I found this. Warner turns to her side and places a blown-up photograph against a lighted screen. It displays what appears to be a black tube. STABLER What is that? M.E. WARNER A blown-up image of a tiny piece of black plastic found half buried in her vaginal wall. I have no idea what’s it from. Here’s the actual piece. She holds up a spec of plastic at the end of a long clamping instrument. Benson and Stabler take a look. BENSON Could it have broken off from a sex toy? M.E. WARNER No it’s a soft plastic, pretty porous, the type you’d find in a child’s toy. Sex toys tend to be sturdier, made often with hardened silicone. But I did find something else easier to identify.
14. STABLER Tell me it’s semen? M.E. WARNER Trace amounts, and not semen but rather pre-ejaculate fluid, enough to get DNA. And I also found traces of a spermicide put in the tips of condoms. BENSON So the attacker used a condom? M.E. WARNER Possibly, or it could be from earlier in the morning or the previous night, at the very latest. My guess is whoever used the condom wasn’t wearing it when he started, then put it on. BENSON The boyfriend said they hadn’t had sex in a week. STABLER Then he should have no problem sharing his DNA to rule himself out. Thanks Melinda. CUT TO:
LOCALE CARD: APARTMENT BUILDING OF JEANNIE CONNORS - 44TH ST. & 8TH AVE INT. PARKED CAR - NIGHT Fin and Munch sit watching the building’s entrance, a rap album playing from the stereo. Fin’s enjoying the music, peering out the windshield. Munch is on a cell phone. MUNCH Yeah... Ok... (to Fin) Can you turn that garbage down! Fin does so. MUNCH (CONT’D) (in the phone) Ok, thanks. Munch hangs up.
15. FIN What’s wrong with you John, my tunes never bothered you before? MUNCH That was Elliot, the boyfriend just gave a DNA sample, they’ll run it by the morning. FIN You didn’t answer my question. MUNCH Sometimes the ears do not want the music of the streets blaring into them, rather passing by them at an appropriate resonance. FIN I’m starting to think the “creepy old man” we’re looking for is sitting right next to me... MUNCH Can you lay off the old jokes please? FIN What happen to put you in this funk, an ex-wife come a calling? MUNCH It’s nothing, I’m just not in the mood today. FIN Come on, tell me what’s bothering you? MUNCH Nothing. FIN John, I know you... MUNCH Fine, it’s my birthday tomorrow, ok? FIN (smiling) Why the hell didn’t you tell me, happy birthday man. I know the perfect rap album to give you as a gift.
16. MUNCH Look, give me the gift of not mentioning this to anyone, alright? It’s not a birthday I’m looking that forward to celebrating. FIN Oh I see, it’s a milestone is it? The big seven-o? MUNCH This is why I don’t mention these things to you, you know just what to say to-FIN (hurried) --John, John. Look at this guy. (pointing out the windshield) Does that say “creepy old man” to you or what?
They open their car doors to exit. EXT. JEANNIE CONNOR’S APARTMENT BUILDING - CONTINUOUS Munch and Fin approach the CREEPY OLD MAN. He’s in his 60s, dressed in an older styled suit, but it is clean. His face is weathered, has no expression. He stares forward, not looking at the detectives. MUNCH Excuse me, sir... Detectives Munch and Tutuola, can we have a moment? The man doesn’t respond, doesn’t even look over. Rather, he keeps his eyes out on the street. FIN Excuse me, my partner asked you a question. Nothing. MUNCH Ok... Sir, we’re investigating a rape and murder that occurred in this building, do you live here? Sir?! CREEPY OLD MAN (looking near Munch) I... I wait... I wait out here.
17. MUNCH That’s great, but do you live here? CREEPY OLD MAN What time...What time do you have...? MUNCH (looking at his watch) It’s a quarter to 10. Sir, do you live in this building? CREEPY OLD MAN (satisfied) Still time... It’s still so early. MUNCH Can I get you to take a look at this photo, sir?
From his coat Munch takes out a picture of Jeannie. Creepy Old Man continues to stare ahead.
CREEPY OLD MAN A quarter of 10, still early... Still early... MUNCH The photo, sir? CREEPY OLD MAN I said there’s still time! FIN Ok, that’s it. Fin grabs the Creepy Old Man by his jacket and swings him against the building, holding him by the collar and staring him in the face. He grabs the photo from Munch. FIN (CONT’D) Her name is Jeannie O’Connor, we have a witness that says she’s talked to you, and now she’s dead and raped- do you know her? Look at the picture! The Creepy Old Man looks. Yes.
He recognizes her.
CREEPY OLD MAN Yes of course I know her.
He takes the picture in his hand, staring at it. his collar go.
18. FIN You know her from the building? CREEPY OLD MAN I know her from many buildings, I know her well. FIN How well? CREEPY OLD MAN (laughing a bit) Very well. I love her. I’ve made love to her if that’s what you mean. I know her well. FIN Wait, excuse me?? CREEPY OLD MAN But her name’s not Jeannie. This is Doris. This is my Doris... Where did you get this picture? MUNCH Sir, this girl’s name is Jeannie O'Connor, she’s 32 and she was raped and murdered in this building last night. CREEPY OLD MAN No... No, no she’s coming here any moment. Any moment...
Fin and Munch exchange a look, unsure what to do. The Creepy Old Man begins staring back out at the street, still clutching the photo in his hands, which begin to shake. Tears start to fall down his cheeks. After a moment, he is weeping. Munch and Fin exchange a look. Munch then puts his arm around the crying man. MUNCH Come oh sir, let’s take a trip, I think I might know where we can find your Doris. CREEPY OLD MAN A trip in a car? FIN Our car’s right over here, lets take a trip in our car... They begin walking towards the car.
19. MUNCH (to Fin) Now you see why I’m not excited about growing older?
Suddenly, the Creepy Old Man freezes, grabbing his chest. starts to shake. Sir?
MUNCH (CONT'D) Sir?!
The Creepy Old Man’s legs collapse from under him and he falls to his side, Fin catching him on the way down. FIN John, I think he’s having a heart attack. Munch grabs his CB. MUNCH This is Detective Munch-SVU, I need a bus at 1101 East 44th Street immediately. Fin holds the man as he lays helplessly on the sidewalk, his eyes open, but blank, his body in pain. Munch looks down a him, not knowing what to do. END ACT ONE
20. ACT TWO
FADE IN: INT. INTERVIEW ROOM - DAY Benson sits across a table from John, Stabler moves about behind her on his feet. BENSON John, the fluids found in Jeannie came from you, we ran the DNA. JOHN What? STABLER That’s right John, and you said it had been a week since you had sex, so we have a problem here. JOHN Oh no... STABLER Oh yes John, you wanna change your story now? JOHN Wait, I’m so sorry, you’re right we did have sex. I forgot, it was the night before she was killed. STABLER You forgot? And you didn’t remember until just now? JOHN But wait, I didn’t, I didn’t finish. STABLER Hold on a second, last night we asked for a DNA sample, you didn’t remember this then? JOHN You said you found semen, it couldn’t have been mine. BENSON Not semen, but there’s always fluid prior to ejaculation John. Did you use a condom?
21. STABLER Hold on, I’m still interested in how he forgot having sex.
Stabler leans over the table, getting into John’s face. JOHN It was a traumatic few days, I just forgot because honestly we didn’t have sex long. She wasn’t into it so we stopped, she was still upset with me. STABLER She wasn’t into the sex or you raping her with a piece of plastic? JOHN What?! BENSON Elliot! Stabler steps back. JOHN What’s he talking about? BENSON John, help us retrace these events, you had sex with Jeannie the night before you came to pick her up to go camping? JOHN Yes. STABLER Consensual sex, John? JOHN Yes! But it was just for a few minutes. It wasn’t...I guess in my mind it didn’t count, so when you asked I just forgot. BENSON Did you wear a condom at any point? JOHN No. BENSON Our medical examiner found preejaculate fluids from you, as well as a spermicide used in condoms. (MORE)
M. SHEPPO BENSON(CONT'D) Could Jeannie have been seeing someone else?
JOHN No, no way. So she was raped? STABLER Jeannie was brutally raped with something plastic, she had severe vaginal cuts and there was a piece of the plastic found inside of her, but I’m starting to think you knew this already. JOHN Oh my God... John goes white. He turns to the side, THROWING UP towards Stabler. Stabler jumps back, as it has apparently splattered on his shoes. STABLER Damnit! JOHN (weakly) I’m sorry... BENSON Elliot, why don’t you get some water for Mr. Solomon. Stabler, looking at his shoes in disgust for a moment, exits. JOHN I’m sorry, I just-BENSON --It’s ok. Look, at this point John, the evidence is pointing to you, and the strange man outside the building just had a heart attack and was in no shape to do this crime. JOHN I could never hurt Jeannie. BENSON Well help us then John, who could? JOHN I don’t know... I don’t know, just a random rapist? Benson looks at John for a moment.
He’s a mess.
23. JOHN (CONT’D) (pleading) Look, I promise you I didn’t do this. I wish I could help you more, but all I can tell you is it wasn’t me. You can search my apartment if that will convince you. I have nothing to hide. CUT TO:
INT. JOHN SOLOMON’S APARTMENT - DAY Benson and Stabler are going through John’s bedroom, a large space with shelves full of video tapes and typed pages scattered about. Stabler pushes hard on a stuck sliding closet door, forcing it open and off it’s runner. BENSON Hey, you wanna take it easy? volunteered for this.
STABLER Exactly, that’s why were not going to find anything. Any evidence that might have been here I’m sure he took care of. He wrote crime dramas, he knows a thing or two about evidence. BENSON I don’t know what you’re watching on TV lately, but Hollywood doesn’t know everything. John enters the room. JOHN Did you two care for anything to drink? STABLER We’re fine. Stabler picks up a small trash can and somewhat haphazardly empties its contents on the floor to examine them. BENSON We’re almost done, John, thanks. Benson motions at a stack of video tapes on the desk. BENSON (CONT’D) These tapes, a lot of them are unlabeled, just numbers?
24. JOHN Old episodes of shows I worked on. I had them out trying to find a few with Jeannie in them. No luck yet.
Benson turns from the stack. JOHN (CONT’D) You can take them if you want. If seeing her could help in any way? I don’t know... I guess not, huh? BENSON I’ll take some, thanks John. And, I think we’re done here. I’ll let you know if I find one with Jeannie. JOHN Actually... Don’t. I’m not sure I’m really ready yet. Benson smiles kindly at John, who looks out a window, distraught. CUT TO: INT. SVU SQUADROOM - DAY As Munch enters the main office everyone in the station including Fin and Craigen glance at him, waiting for something. Munch arrives at his desk, looks down. There’s a birthday cake, the top in the shape of a hill and a “You Are Here” sign sticking out one side. FIN Happy birthday! Fin and the rest of the crew stick noise makers in their mouths and blow. Munch looks at Fin, not amused. MUNCH (sarcastically) Thanks. He turns and starts walking towards a back room. Hey John.
Munch exits, not looking back, and slamming the door shut behind him. CUT TO:
INT. SVU STATION HOUSE - BACKROOM - A BIT LATER Fin enters the room were Munch sits, now looking over some papers at a table. FIN Listen, I’m sorry about that, you ok or what? MUNCH No I’m sorry, you were being nice. FIN So what’s the deal, you hit’n a new decade with this one or something? MUNCH I’m 57 Fin. FIN So what’s wrong with that? You’re still every bit the pain in the ass you were when I met you. MUNCH It’s not getting older, it’s being 57. My uncle died when he was 57. He was basically the man who raised me after my father killed himself. Oh.
FIN What did he die of?
MUNCH Prostate cancer. for a long time.
He had been sick
FIN You worried about that? MUNCH No, my health is fine, checked out a few weeks ago. It’s how he died. I had been visiting him for almost a year in a hospice, three times a week, we’d play pinochle. He loved card games. Then I got involved in a relationship with my second wife, stopped going so much. When he passed away I hadn’t seen him in a month. He died on his 57th birthday, all alone. Fin is quiet for a moment.
26. FIN I’m sorry John... But, that was a long time ago, you should forgive yourself. MUNCH It’s not above forgiveness, it’s just about remembering. FIN ...And about worrying you’ll be in the same position one day?
Munch looks across the table at Fin, unsure what to say. There’s a knock at the door, Craigen opens it. CRAIGEN Gentleman, you’ll want to see this. CUT TO: INT. INTERVIEW ROOM - DAY Craigen, Stabler, Fin and Munch look on at a television set, the image paused on screen. BENSON I found this while I was looking through the tapes I took from John’s apartment. Benson hits play. The opening to an episode of the fictional show “The Precinct” begins. FIN This is The Precinct, I know this show. They’re about to find a body. BENSON Look were they find it. They watch for a moment. SCREAMS.
A CHARACTER on the television
STABLER A dumpster. BENSON The victim is a woman Jeannie’s age, found in a dumpster across the street from her apartment building, slashed with a knife across the back and side of her neck. And there’s more.
Benson fast forwards with a remote for moment. Then, ON SCREEN, a DETECTIVE speaks with a COP at the scene. COP Detective, look at this. in the dumpster.
The Detective looks down at something in the Cop’s gloved hand. DETECTIVE That looks like blood, bag it. Benson hits pause. MUNCH Well what is it? BENSON A pez dispenser. STABLER The inventory list from the dumpster, there was a pez dispenser wasn’t there? Benson nods. STABLER (CONT’D) The black piece of plastic the M.E. found? BENSON It’s how the victim is raped in the show. STABLER Jesus, this guy’s sick. CRAIGEN Fin and John, lets get that dispenser before they trash it. Elliot and Olivia, alert Warner, we need to find out if we have a match. STABLER (very upset) I knew it. I knew there was something wrong here. He recreated a murder from his own TV show. BENSON But why? Why would he do this and then let me have the tape?
28. STABLER I don’t know. But we’re sure as hell going to find out. END ACT TWO
29. ACT THREE
FADE IN: INT. INTEROGATION ROOM - NIGHT Benson and Stabler are the middle of interrogating John, who is shocked by what’s he’s hearing. Stabler holds the video tape in his hand. STABLER It’s all here John, the body found in the same location, slashes to the neck the same way-BENSON --It’s just too similar John. STABLER How do you explain this?
JOHN I, I can’t... STABLER Thought so. BENSON You let me take the tape. Why? Did you want me to find this? JOHN No. I didn’t know it was there. didn’t remember this episode.
STABLER Well you wrote it John. JOHN Twenty years ago! There’s a knock at the window. steps outside.
Stabler moves to the door and
INTEROGATION ROOM VIEWING AREA - CONTINUOUS Craigen is there with ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY CASEY NOVACK. Craigen hands Stabler a pez dispenser in an clear evidence bag. CRAIGEN This just came back from the lab. The piece of black plastic in Jeannie was this thing’s ear.
30. STABLER (turning back to the door) Great, I’ll arrest him. NOVACK No, you won’t yet. STABLER We have a tape of a show he wrote detailing every aspect of the crime down to this thing. NOVACK Yes, a show that a million people have watched. That series is still on round the clock on cable, I’ve probably seen that episode. STABLER He’s lied to us already about sleeping with her, and now he can hardly remember this episode? What’s it going to take to arrest him, a confession? NOVACK That would be nice. What you have is excellent circumstantial evidence, but we have nothing physical tying him to the attack or that pez dispenser. Not to mention the fact that he volunteered his DNA, his home for search, and has cooperated at every step of the investigation... That spells out reasonable doubt. CRAIGEN She’s right Elliot. Lean on him. He gave you the tape, either he didn’t know what was on it, or he wants to be caught. Find out which it is. STABLER (not pleased) Fine.
Stabler turns to the door. INTEROGATION ROOM - CONTINUOUS Stabler enters, holding up the bagged pez dispenser for John to see.
31. JOHN What is that?
Stabler sits at the table across from John, sliding the pez dispenser over to him. STABLER You tell me... JOHN It’s... It looks like a candy dispenser, ah, a pez dispenser. STABLER Bingo. But it’s not just a pez dispenser, is the pez dispenser you raped Jeannie with before you slit her throat and tossed her body in a dumpster. John moves back in his seat, away from the dispenser. JOHN (under his breath) Oh my God. STABLER You left it right there in the dumpster for us to find, but then we missed it and so you had to give us the tape to help us along. Sorry about that John, not as fast I guess as your cops on TV. John stares at the dispenser, shaking his head “no”. BENSON John, this will go a lot easier on you if you just tell us what happened. JOHN I know who did this. killed Jeannie.
I know who
STABLER So do we John, and I’m looking at him. JOHN It’s Mark Lethom. partner of mine.
An old writing
STABLER What? Ok, that’s it, you can discuss this with your attorney.
Stabler stands and moves to John, pulling out handcuffs. STABLER (CONT’D) John Solomon, you have the right to remain silent... BENSON Elliot, hold on. Stabler continues to cuff John, roughly pulling him up from his seat. STABLER Any thing you do say can and will be used against you a a court of law. The door to the room opens, Craigen steps in. CRAIGEN Detective Stabler! Stabler stops, but doesn’t undo the cuffs. BENSON John, who is Mark Lethom, he wrote with you? JOHN Yes, he helped me write that episode, now I know which one you mean. The pez dispenser, that was his idea. BENSON His name isn’t in the credits. JOHN I know, and that’s what this is about, I didn’t give him a credit. STABLER Oh come on, that episode is 20 years old, he just now decides to get even and he does this? JOHN He’s tried hurting me before, he’s brought suits against three times, but they never made it to trial. CRAIGEN Elliot, remove the cuffs. STABLER Captain?
33. CRAIGEN Do it.
Stabler pauses for a moment, then undoes the cuffs, SLAMMING them down on the table, hard. He exits the room. BENSON John, why haven’t you mentioned him before? JOHN He lives in Chicago, he doesn’t even know Jeannie, I had no idea this had anything to do with me. He wrote with me on several episodes at the start of that show, he’d add little things here and there, but never enough to come close to earning a credit. The pez dispenser, he said it would make the case more interesting, more shocking for the audience. That son of a bitch. CUT TO: INT. SQUADROOM - A BIT LATER Stabler sits at his desk, Craigen and Novak stand next to him. Fin and Munch hover about the room. STABLER (to Craigen and Novack) So you two are buying this? NOVACK I think it’s a possibility, yes. Benson is walking out with John from the interrogation room. Stabler watches John exit, their eyes meeting for a moment. Benson joins the group. BENSON I guess we call CPD and see what we can find on Lethom? FIN Already done, he’s got priors for solicitation, busted by a female undercover. STABLER Solicitation is a long way from this.
34. FIN There’s more. Lethom didn’t take kindly to the arrest and pushed the undercover into a brick wall, fractured her forearm. MUNCH History of violence against women, I’d call him a legit suspect. These Hollywood types hold grudges, and Lethom ends up paying for sex while his one time partner is producing his own shows, that would burn me up. CRAIGEN Your thoughts, Elliot?
Stabler looks across his desk at Benson. doesn’t tell him much. He budges.
STABLER Fine, then we’ll check him out. See if he was in New York at least. CRAIGEN Start by calling Lieutenant Van Buren at the Two-Seven, she has a detective who used to work in Chicago, might have a friend there who could do us a favor and pay Lethom a visit. NOVACK Detective Fontana? If I’m not mistaken, he may be able to do us one better. CUT TO: LOCALE CARD: APARTMENT OF MARK LETHOM - 3611 SOUTH STATE STREET, CHICAGO - FRIDAY, MAY 27
INT. MARK LETHOM’S APARTMENT BUILDING - HALLWAY - DAY The door opens and DETECTIVE FONTANA from Law and Order is greeted by MARK LETHOM, 40s. Mark has a rather passive and quiet, slightly creepy demeanor. MARK Can I help you? FONTANA Are you Mark Lethom?
35. MARK Yes.
Fontana extends his hand to shake. FONTANA Detective Fontana, New York City Police Department. After a moment of hesitation, Mark shakes his hand. FONTANA (CONT’D) Oh, sorry, here’s my badge... (finding his ID) I’m off duty this week, my mind is elsewhere. I’m from your fair city originally, home for my baby Niece's Christening. Mark looks at the badge. MARK Why are you here? FONTANA You mind if I come in? This hasn’t been much of vacation really, I was the Godfather, so I’m a little tired. MARK Ok. But I don’t understand, what’s this about? FONTANA Thanks. Fontana works his way past Mark into the apartment. INT. MARK LETHOM’S APARTMENT - CONTINUOUS The place is a mess- the floors covered in books, dirty dishes scattered about. Fontana walks around, taking a look at everything. FONTANA I’d ask to sit down but your couch looks covered there. MARK Excuse me, detective? are you here?
36. FONTANA Right, well I’m here because your name came up in a murder investigation in New York, do you know a... (looking at a note pad) John Solomon? MARK Yes. He was murdered? FONTANA Not him, his girlfriend. MARK And you think I had something to do it? I’m confused. FONTANA Well I don’t know the case well, it’s not mine, but from what I understand John’s our suspect. If you were, the detectives there would be here, they wouldn’t have sent me, if you follow?
Fontana stops walking, examining a framed White Sox jersey on the wall. FONTANA (CONT’D) Oh, you’re a Sox fan? Yes.
MARK Why have they sent--
FONTANA --Me too. It figures, you living on the South Side. I grew up a bit further north in Little Italy, mostly Cubs fans, drove me nuts. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about? MARK Yeah, but why-FONTANA --Wrigley’s a nice place to kick back a few beers, but there has to be something off with someone to keep rooting for those losers year after year, am I right? Fontana, working his way back towards Mark’s bedroom, looks over at Mark for a response. After a moment, Mark smiles.
37. MARK Absolutely. FONTANA See, you’re all right Mark. MARK Well I’m no Cubs fan, I can tell you that. I’m not a freak’n moron.
Fontana half smiles and takes a look through the doorway to the bedroom. FONTANA Oh, so I’m here because this John guy mentioned you had a beef with him? MARK I haven’t seen John in probably 4 years. FONTANA Not since you last sued him? Fontana looks at Mark for a response. thing.
Mark doesn’t say a
FONTANA (CONT’D) Hey is that... Those are old time Sox pennants, huh? MARK Yes, but I’m confused, John is saying I did this? FONTANA I’m not sure what John is saying, but I thought I’d come by and ask you if you were in New York last week? You mind if I take a closer look at those? MARK No. FONTANA No I can’t take a look at the pennants, or no you weren’t in New York? MARK New York. Fontana turns on the bedroom light and enters.
BEDROOM - CONTINUOUS The room is much neater than the previous, with toys and boyish memorabilia from the early 70’s scattered about. Fontana examines the pennants. FONTANA Lot of good memories on this wall. And if you ask me, this could be our year again. MARK Maybe. Fontana continues to look at them for a moment, and then returns to walking around as he speaks. FONTANA Well, the thing is Mark, my friends in New York took a look at a credit card record of yours and it showed you bought some items from a toy collector in Queens last Wednesday. Maybe you did that online? MARK (thinking) Ah... FONTANA --No you didn’t, it was an in store purchase. Are these the original? Fontana motions to two Rock‘Em Sock‘Em Robots in their box on a shelf. MARK I’m, I was there, in Queens, not in New York City though, John lives in the city. There was a screenwriting convention in Queens. FONTANA Queens is part of New York City Mark, as is Manhattan where John Solomon lives, and his girlfriend Jeannie for that matter before she was raped and murdered. MARK Raped? FONTANA So when I asked you earlier, you were confused about the layout of New York City then, Mark?
39. MARK Yes, I didn’t know that. Queens.
Fontana looks Mark over for a moment. phone rings.
As he does, his cell
FONTANA One sec. INTERCUT PHONE CONVERSATION: INT. CAPTAIN CRAIGEN’S OFFICE - CONTINUOUS CRAIGEN Detective Fontana, we took a mug shot of Lethom from CPD to the vic’s building, got an ID from a teenager. Says he saw him around the building the day before the crime. FONTANA That’s great news. CRAIGEN Thought I’d give you the heads up. We’d appreciate anything else you can find for us. MARK’S APARTMENT Fontana turns and freezes for a moment. He looks down at several rows of pez dispensers lined up on a dresser. FONTANA (phone) That shouldn’t be a problem... Fontana hangs up. FONTANA (CONT’D) So Mark, you collect these things? MARK Yes. FONTANA What are they called? MARK Pez dispensers. FONTANA I haven’t seen one of these since I was a kid.
Fontana picks one up and Mark quickly moves towards him. MARK Please don’t! Mark snatches the dispenser from Fontana. MARK (CONT’D) Sorry, this one is special. expensive.
Mark carefully puts the dispenser back in the row. FONTANA No problem. That’s how it works I guess, like anything, the rare ones are worth more, right? MARK Yes. FONTANA So lets say a 1970’s yellow stemmed Panda with removable eyes, ears and nose, that would be pretty rare right? Mark freezes.
He’s silent for a moment.
MARK Not that rare. FONTANA So you have one here? Fontana starts looking around the row of pez dispensers, then opens the drawers of the dresser. They are full of dispensers. MARK I don’t know. I, I might. Why did you ask about that one? You should leave. FONTANA You must, there are tons here... MARK I want, I want you to leave now. FONTANA Well what’s this? Fontana holds up a few pieces of paper stapled together. then starts thumbing through them.
41. MARK I said I think you should leave now. FONTANA This is your whole collection and you have them in alphabetical order... MARK Detective, I want you-FONTANA --Here it is, Panda, Yellow, removable face features, with a “one” next to it, I guess indicating you have one, can I see it? MARK Detective-FONTANA --You don’t have it anymore do you? MARK Leave! FONTANA You’re right, I should get going.
Fontana pulls out a pair of cuffs. FONTANA (CONT’D) But you’re coming with me. Mark Lethom, you’re under arrest for the murder of Jeannie Connors. Fontana turns Mark around against a wall and cuffs him. MARK What? FONTANA You have the right to remain silent, anything you do say, can and will be used against in a court of law. And I’d be especially careful what you say about the Cubs my friend, I’ve been a die hard “moron” my whole life. END ACT THREE
42. ACT FOUR
FADE IN: INT. INTEROGATION - LINE-UP ROOM
Mark enters the room in a line of five men, all of the men are approximately the same height and weight. INTERCOM VOICE Please turn and face the window. As the men turn around, we see Mark is number 4. Also, two of the five men have goatees, Mark and two others do not. INT. PROTECTIVE VIEWING ROOM - CONTINUOUS SANDRA PHILLIPS, a sharp defense attorney, sits on one side of the room, on the other Novak stands with KYLE THOMPSON, 14. A CORRECTIONAL OFFICER sits between them at a mic. NOVAK Ok Kyle, tell us if you see the man you saw in your building's lobby that night. Kyle looks out carefully, but no luck. NOVACK Take your time. KYLE It’s just... NOVACK What’s wrong Kyle? KYLE I think I know which it is, but did he have a goatee in the picture? PHILLIPS (to Novack) Don’t answer that. NOVACK (to Kyle) Don’t worry about the picture you IDed before, just tell us now if you see the man you saw that night. Kyle looks back out for a moment. KYLE Number 4... I think.
43. NOVACK You think? KYLE It’s number 4.
I’m sure of it.
NOVACK Ok, thanks Kyle. Kyle exits.
Novack gives Phillips a look.
NOVACK (CONT’D) Satisfied? I’d say that was a positive ID? PHILLIPS And I’m sure it was on the up and up when your detectives showed him the line-up cards too? NOVACK Completely, you can examine them yourself. Oh I will. matter.
PHILLIPS But I don’t think it’ll
Novack smirks a bit. NOVACK (half joking) I take it you’re ready to deal? PHILLIPS Not quite. Phillips gives Novack a document and her smirk back. PHILLIPS (CONT’D) Motion to suppress the pez collection. Phillips exits, Novack looks down at the papers. is gone.
Her smirk CUT TO:
LOCALE CARD: CHAMBERS OF JUDGE HENRY BLANKO - WEDNESDAY, JUNE 8 INT. JUDGE’S CHAMBERS - DAY JUDGE BLANKO, distinguished, 60s, looks across his desk at Novak and Phillips.
44. JUDGE BLANKO So Ms. Novack, let me understand this, Mr. Lethom did or did not ask your detective to leave his apartment? NOVACK “Did” Your Honor, but that was after he discovered the defendant’s pez collection. PHILLIPS You mean after he coerced his way into my client’s home under false pretenses. NOVACK What false pretenses, claiming to be a White Sox fan? PHILLIPS Claiming my client wasn’t under suspicion and that the police already had their man in custody. NOVACK You know very well detectives can lie to suspects to obtain information. JUDGE BLANKO And you know well Ms. Novack that without a warrant your detective should have left the premises when requested by Mr. Lethom. NOVACK You’re honor, the defendant allowed Detective Fontana into his home and Detective Fontana continued to ask for and was granted permission at every step along the way. PHILLIPS Right up until the point he was questioned about the panda pez dispenser, at which point he told the detective to leave- This was prior to his finding the inventory list. JUDGE BLANKO (to Novack) Is this correct?
45. NOVACK Yes, but-JUDGE BLANKO --Then the list is out. NOVACK Your Honor? Then I’ll argue inevitable discovery, with Kyle Thompson’s ID placing Lethom at the building we would have gotten a search warrant. JUDGE BLANKO But by the time you had the ID your detective was already in Mr. Lethom’s home, going through his things. I may invite someone into my home, but I would expect them to leave when I asked and never would my invitation allow them to go through my drawers. I feel Mr. Lethom’s rights were violated, the inventory list is out. PHILLIPS Thank you Your Honor, I’m also asking that the pez collection itself be excluded on the same grounds. JUDGE BLANKO Ms. Novack? NOVACK The majority of the collection was on display on a dresser, the detective saw them prior to being asked to leave. JUDGE BLANKO Ms. Phillips?
Her look shows this is the case. JUDGE BLANKO (CONT’D) Then we’ll call this one a draw. The list is out, the collection itself stays in. CUT TO: INT. SVU SQUADROOM - DAY Novack enters and is greeted by Benson and Stabler at their desks.
46. BENSON How’d it go? Bad I take it, or you wouldn’t be here. NOVACK We lost his inventory list, which means we can’t prove he ever owned the panda dispenser used in the attack. Beyond some decade old threat letters to John and the ID of a 14-year-old, we don’t have much. BENSON How rare is that panda dispenser? NOVACK Rare enough that if we could prove he once owned one and no longer does, it would look very good to the jury. Right now his knowledge of that episode and the dispenser used in it isn’t any greater than John’s, or anyone who saw that show.
Benson thinks for a moment, but she’s got nothing. STABLER ...My daughters used to mark their toys with their initials, especially if they both had the same toy. Any chance this guy did the same thing? BENSON Probably not, that would ruin their value, and we didn’t find anything written on the dispenser used in the rape. STABLER Well maybe he marked them in a different way? It’s worth a look. NOVACK There are over 200 of them from his apartment, if you want to look at them, you’re welcome to. Why not...
STABLER I owe it to John.
Novack and Benson both give Stabler a surprised look.
47. STABLER (CONT’D) What can I say? I guess sometimes feelings are wrong. CUT TO:
INT. INTERVIEW ROOM - NIGHT Sitting next to a table full of pez dispensers is Stabler, Benson, Fin and Munch. With gloved hands they look carefully over the different dispensers, inside and out. FIN Isn’t the fact that a grown man would have collection like this enough to convict him? MUNCH Hey some of these are pretty valuable, not a bad investment. Just think of them as colorful, hyper-happy T-bills. BENSON Well I’m not finding anything, they hardly look touched, except to put the candy inside. Stabler looks at the candy in a open dispenser, then picks up another and does the same. STABLER Wait a minute... The pieces of candy, they’re all in a pattern. Take a look... All red, green, yellow, 9 total pieces each. They look quickly through several of the dispensers. is right.
BENSON There was pez in the one used in the attack. STABLER What do you want to bet it’s in the same pattern? Stabler and Benson hurry out of the room. Munch stops Fin at the door, closing it. He takes a pack of cards out from his jacket. MUNCH Found this at my desk, what’s it about?
48. FIN Just a little birthday present. MUNCH A pack of pinochle cards? FIN There’s more, take a look at the first card.
John flips opens the pack, pulling out a business card. MUNCH “Brighton Senior Living”? FIN Room number and best times for visits are on the back. MUNCH And who’s in the room? FIN Harold D’Angelo. MUNCH (not pleased) The “creepy old man” from Jeannie Connor’s building? FIN Listen, the nurse I met with said he’s doing great but has no family. He’s a big fan of cards and could benefit from some company from time to time. MUNCH Fin, I see what you’re trying to do, but it just doesn’t work that way. FIN Well why not? MUNCH Because it just doesn’t, you want me to go through the myriad of reasons? FIN No John. Because life’s too short. MUNCH Look, I get it’s a nice thought, but really...
Munch trails off, looking at Fin for a moment. MUNCH (CONT'D) (heartfelt) Thanks. CUT TO: LOCAL CARD: RIKER’S ISLAND CORRECTIONAL FACILITY - MONDAY, JUNE 6 INT. RIKER’S ISLAND - MEETING ROOM - DAY Mark and Phillips sit side by side at a table, Novack enters. PHILLIPS What now counsellor, you have some Tinker Toys tying my client to a crime? NOVACK Nope, these will do just fine. As she sits, Novack slides a couple of pez dispensers across the table to Mark. NOVACK (CONT’D) Recognize those? MARK I may or may not have these in my collection, I don’t know. PHILLIPS (sarcastically) He doesn’t keep a list, remember? NOVACK Take a closer look, they’re yours. Every one in your collection had the same pattern of candy inside, the same number of pieces and the same colors in the same order. A pattern that matched the dispenser you used to rape Jeannie Connors. Mark looks at the candy inside. head.
He smirks a bit, shaking his
PHILLIPS That’s hardly DNA. NOVACK But like DNA it can make a powerful argument for inclusion or exclusion in a group. (MORE)
M. SHEPPO NOVACK(CONT'D) Especially because the green pez isn’t sold in the US, it’s Japanese and doesn’t come cheap. So I’m pretty sure the jury will conclude the dispenser belonged to Mr. Lethom. Couple that with the threatening letters you sent John Solomon, a witness that puts you at the scene of the crime the day of, and your connection to the The Precinct episode, and you’re looking at life without the possibility of parole.
PHILLIPS What are you offering? MARK No, no deals. PHILLIPS Mark, please. NOVACK Murder 2. MARK I said-PHILLIPS Sentencing recommendation? MARK NO! Mark stands up, slamming the pez dispensers hard against the table. For the first time, he’s showing some command. MARK (CONT’D) This will go to trial. PHILLIPS (somewhat quietly) If it does Mark, it’s going to be hard to win. MARK Listen to me. I’ve waited almost 20 years for this, to have the great creative genius John Solomon in court so he can be exposed for what he is, a liar, a thief and a fraud. I’m innocent, and I have nothing to hide. And I sure as hell am not taking a deal. (MORE)
MARK(CONT'D) (pointedly to his attorney) You’re not making any deals. NOVACK Mr. Lethom, you realize that it’s you on trial, not John Solomon, whatever disputes you have over the credit for his television series aren’t going to enter into his trial. MARK Oh no? So you’re going to convict me without motive? Tell me, who would do something like this, if not for revenge for having been wronged? Novack looks at Mark for a moment, then to Phillips. a point...
CUT TO: INT. JOHN’S APARTMENT - DAY John paces near his window, Novack sits on a couch. JOHN So let me understand this, he murders and rapes Jeannie, in the process essentially framing me for the crime, and now his attorney gets to question me about allegations I plagiarized his work? NOVACK It’s complicated. But I have to put you on the stand. What separates you and Lethom is motive. Their only defense is to paint you as another possible suspect. You had the same knowledge of the crime in the episode, and you had a personal relationship with Jeannie. Although the evidence against Mark is strong, I need you to explain he believed you stole his ideas and failed to give him credit. That’s the motive that drove him to do this. JOHN Ms. Novack, he’s delusional, his obsession with my success is at issue, his jealousy. (MORE)
M. SHEPPO JOHN(CONT'D) Only a sociopath would do what he did for revenge, even if I had wronged him, which I didn’t. NOVACK I agree, and I believe the jury will see that. But I also think Lethom believes this is his chance to try you, to hold you accountable in front of the country for keeping him from the type of success you’ve seen. The attention this is already getting from the media, it’s only going to increase during trial. Lethom’s goal is to convince the world you’re a fraud. It seems more important to him than the case itself. JOHN So then either way he wins? If I tell the truth, that he’s a no talent hack who didn’t deserve any credit, the jury’s going to question his motive, because why would he want to hurt me? But if I lie, if I say he did have reason to want revenge, he’s getting what he wanted all along... He’s making it look like I stole from him. NOVACK I don’t envy your position, and I would never instruct you to perjure yourself. JOHN Then what is it you’re asking of me? NOVACK Jeannie is dead John. Lethom murdered and raped her. I’m just asking you to think about why he went to the lengths he did to put you in this situation. Is there any chance his claims about those episodes could have merit? JOHN (shocked) Ms. Novack, I didn’t treat Mark unfairly in any way. He didn’t write enough of any of those episodes to earn a credit, and even if he had he wouldn’t be in the place I am in my career. (MORE)
JOHN(CONT'D) I’ve worked in TV for 25 years, I’m the executive producer of the 4th Precinct spin-off. That series launches next season, I’m not about to ruin my reputation and that show’s fate to make this case easier for you to win. NOVACK And I’m not asking you to. I just want you to know what to expect in court. And to think about what’s on the line. John looks to his side, out of the window. well what is on the line...
He knows all too CUT TO:
LOCALE CARD: TRIAL PART 28 - THURSDAY, AUGUST 4TH INT. COURTROOM - DAY John is finishing his direct testimony. NOVACK And at this point the connection was made between the events in the episode of The Precinct and Jeannie’s murder, and that’s when you pointed the police to the defendant? JOHN Yes. NOVACK And what specifically prompted you to suggest the police investigate Mr. Lethom? JOHN For years he had sworn to get even with me, to teach me a lesson as he called it. He felt he deserved writing credits for the early episodes of the The Precinct series, and he blamed me for not giving him those credits. NOVACK Those threats include the letters sent to you by Mr. Lethom previously shared with this court and presently marked people’s 11 through 15?
54. JOHN Yes. In addition, he’s tried to sue me three separate times for plagiarism, each time the charges were dismissed. But, I just... I just never thought he would take it to this. NOVACK Nothing further.
As Novack sits, Phillips rises, moving quickly to the witness stand. PHILLIPS Mr. Solomon... If, as you claim, Mark was so bent on revenge, why didn’t you suggest him as a possible suspect to the police right away? JOHN I didn’t think Jeannie’s attack had anything to do with me or my affairs. PHILLIPS It wasn’t until you were actually on the verge of being charged with her murder yourself that you pointed out Mr. Lethom, isn’t that right? Novack stands. NOVACK Objection Your Honor. PHILLIPS This goes to the witness’s credibility. JUDGE BLANKO I’ll allow it. Please answer the question. JOHN Yes, it was at that point that the similarities between the show and Jeannie’s murder became clear to me. The police had just previously uncovered them, that’s why they suspected me.
55. PHILLIPS So you didn’t pick up on those similarities right away, did you? No.
JOHN That episode was 20 years old.
PHILLIPS And moreover it was primarily the work of Mark Lethom, was it not? NOVACK Objection. Overruled.
JUDGE BLANKO Answer please.
JOHN No. As I said, that episode was 20 years old. Phillips moves in even closer to John. PHILLIPS Not to mention the fact that specific elements from that episode were the creative work of Mr. Lethom, correct? JOHN Ok, yes, some elements. the--
PHILLIPS --Some elements, would you care to share with the jury which ones? JOHN Well, elements like the pez dispenser for one. PHILLIPS For one, there were more? JOHN Yes, he framed several aspects of the crime, that was his job at that time, that’s why he recreated those elements in the murd-PHILLIPS --I’m sorry, his job? But I don’t see his name in the credits of The Precinct. Was he paid for this job?
56. JOHN I wrote those episodes on spec, none of us were paid at that time. PHILLIPS Who do you mean by “us”, Mr. Solomon? JOHN The early writers and creators of The Precinct. PHILLIPS Including the defendant? JOHN No, he was never a writer.
Phillips is now in John’s face. PHILLIPS Well I’m confused then Mr. Solomon, he is a writer or he isn’t? You say he didn’t write the episode in question, yet because of it you knew it was Mark? And you did write it, but don’t remember it? Novack rises again, she’s had enough. NOVACK Objection! Despite the defendant’s wishes, this proceeding is not to determine who stole who’s credit, Mr. Solomon is not on trial here. JUDGE BLANKO Ms. Phillips, I think you have pursued this line of questioning enough. PHILLIPS These questions now go to motive, Your Honor. What?
NOVACK Sidebar Your Honor? JUDGE BLANKO
Approach. Novack and Phillips do so, arriving at the bench.
57. NOVACK (to Phillips) I don’t know what he’s convinced you of, but you have a duty to defend your client. If you try to impeach the witness, all you’re going to do is further show he had a reason for revenge. JUDGE BLANKO Address me, Ms. Novack. PHILLIPS Your Honor, it has been the defense’s position that Mr. Lethom is not the only possible suspect here, Mr. Solomon had motive to frame my client for this murder. NOVACK That’s absurd. Your Honor, the defendant is using this opportunity to argue his case for 20-year-old writing credits, this is a murder trial. PHILLIPS Yes, one the People have gone out of their way to establish is about those credits. I must be allowed to present the jury an alternate theory. JUDGE BLANKO I agree and I’m going to allow you to proceed counselor. But I advise you to do so carefully, you’re on the edge here.
They return to their places, Novack unhappy. PHILLIPS Mr. Solomon, let me rephrase the last question. Your inability to see the similarities between the murder of Ms. Connors and that in the episode of The Precinct stems from the fact that Mr. Lethom actually wrote the majority of that episode, isn’t that right? JOHN Yes. Phillips freezes, as surprised WHISPERING erupts from the gallery. Mark is also caught off guard, a shocked smile starting to form on his face.
58. PHILLIPS Excuse me? JOHN (with regret) Yes. That’s right.
As the WHISPERING becomes louder, Judge Blanko POUNDS his gavel. JUDGE BLANKO We will have silence in the gallery or I’ll clear this room. Proceed counsellor. Phillips is flustered, she didn’t expect this. PHILLIPS Your honor, I’d like to request a moment to confer with my client. JUDGE BLANKO I don’t see why, the witness answered your question, proceed. PHILLIPS Your honor, If I could-JUDGE BLANKO --Proceed. Phillips is at a loss. PHILLIPS So it is your testimony, Mr. Solomon, under oath, that the defendant, not you, actually wrote the The Precinct episode shown to the jury? You wrongfully plagiarized from him and denied him the credit he deserved? JOHN ...Yes. MARK Finally! Mark rises to his feet, screaming at John. MARK (CONT’D) It took this, you son of bitch! After all these years it took this!!
Phillips turns to Mark to shut him up but it’s too late. GASPS and CHATTER erupt from the gallery as the Judge POUNDS his gavel for order. Mark, an elated smile still on his face, looks in at John with contempt, and then to Phillips. It takes him a moment to realize that his outburst has incriminated him. His smile turns quickly to shock and regret. FADE THROUGH: SILENT LOCALE CARD: TRIAL PART 34 - WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17 INT. COURTROOM - DAY Mark stands with Phillips for the verdict. JUDGE BLANKO On the sole count of Murder in the First Degree, how do you find? JURY FORMAN We find the defendant, Mark Andrew Lethom, guilty. The look of shock and regret on Mark’s face remains. A content Novack looks back at Stabler, standing in the back of the room. CUT TO: EXT. COURTHOUSE - DAY Stabler and Novack are moving down the courthouse steps, past a MOB OF REPORTERS waiting for John. STABLER So you think this is going to hurt John’s career? NOVACK He seemed to think so, but was still willing to put the nail in Lethom’s coffin. Have to admire that. They stop walking, as Benson hurries up the steps to them. Her face is painted with shock. BENSON Is the verdict in? NOVACK Just now, guilty. What’s wrong? Benson pulls a bound script out from a bag.
60. BENSON This. It’s a script we had taken from John’s apartment, a crime show called The Jury Finds. NOVACK His new show. BENSON I started reading it, and it’s this. NOVACK Excuse me? BENSON It’s this case. Almost exact. Only the credit hungry writer in the story didn’t do it. He was framed. He was framed by the victim’s boyfriend. You don’t think...
She trails off and the three are silent for a moment, looking at one another. They then turn towards the Reporters who have jumped into action as John approaches them. There’s a smile on John’s face as he addresses them, and a confidence he hadn’t yet shown. JOHN I know you have a lot of questions and I appreciate that, we all want to know who wrote what. If you want answers I invite you and all of America to tune in Wednesday nights to my show, The Precinct The Jury Finds, everything will be cleared up then. Benson looks from the reporters back to Stabler. meet.
STABLER I guess sometimes feelings are right... FADE OUT. THE END