Kimmie, a server at Dominique's, currently very busy, asks another server where Vanessa is – her tables are backing up. Jack, the bartender, says he sent her outside when her argument with her ex-boyfriend got too loud. Kimmie walks out the door into the alley behind the bar calling for Vanessa. After she sees a cat with blood on its fur, she discovers Vanessa's body.
Georgie, the CSU tech, runs down the crime scene for Benson and Stabler. The victim, Vanessa Bevins, a student at Hudson University, was raped, possibly sodomized, and then shot to death. The gunpowder on her hands likely indicates she was struggling for the gun. Benson and Stabler interview Kimmie Robinson. She is reluctant to give information, but she says Vanessa worked part time at the bar and was a college girl. She also had mood swings, and Kimmie suspected drugs.
Ray Bevins' ruckus interrupts Kimmie's interview. Ray, who is trying to cross the yellow tape, tells Stabler he needs to get in because someone called him saying his daughter was in an accident. Stabler breaks her death to him just as Vanessa's body is rolled out to the morgue van.
At the station, Stabler and Benson interview Ray. He says he did not know she had a boyfriend, and her mother passed away when Vanessa was 3-years-old. Vanessa had been a straight-A student, but last semester she started getting Cs and Ds. The dean at Hudson University called Ray when she tried to take out a loan for $5,000, but she would not tell him why she needed the money. When asked about drugs, he says she had been having violent outbursts. Ray asked her to give up the job at the club and told her not to come to him for help when she ruined her life when she refused, saying he was treating her like a child. Stabler says he knows Ray did not mean what he said; Stabler has three girls of his own, and says things in anger he does not mean. Ray responds that at least Stabler can take the words back.
Cragen summarizes the case. He says the erratic behavior, secrets, and debt indicate drug usage. Stabler says the murder may be the dealer's way of making a point, and that the rape is just a bonus humiliation. Fin and Munch return from the club and say they have had no luck identifying the boyfriend. Cragen tells them to find the boyfriend. He sends Stabler and Benson to interview Vanessa's roommate, and Munch and Fin to check on ballistics for the gun.
At Hudson University, Benson and Stabler speak with Lindsey Hay, Vanessa's roommate. She identifies Vanessa's ex-boyfriend as Donovan Alvarez. Donovan is a "straight arrow" and does not do drugs. Vanessa was also on the straight and narrow until last semester when she started blowing off classes, dressing sexy, and flirting with everyone. Donovan had not minded. He said he liked Vanessa's free spirit. Shortly after which she dumped him.
Benson and Stabler interrupt Alvarez' speed chess game at the park. Alvarez gives them attitude from the get go, claiming his chess game takes his mind off Vanessa. He loved her. Stabler notices a bandage on his neck and asks him about it. Alvarez says he knows what they are doing and says he wants a lawyer. Benson points out that if he volunteered a DNA sample he could clear himself. Alvarez replies that there is no way he is going to give the police the means to set him up. Stabler wonders why they would do that and Alvarez asks why they rammed a plunger up Abner Louima's ass. He says to return when they have a warrant. Then he puts the white pawn flat on the chessboard and says, "I believe that's check and mate." Stabler picks up the piece by its top and says, "Sure is, smart-ass."
Stabler delivers the chess piece to M.E. Warner. She says she will dust it and send any prints to ballistics for a possible match. She has gathered more evidence from the cat – the blood on its body was Vanessa's, but the blood on its claws belongs to the assailant. Vanessa's acrylic nails also have skin cells under them.
At the ballistics lab, CSU Captain Judith Siper tells Munch and Fin that the gun's grip was too textured to get a print from, and the ones on the barrel belong to the victim. However, she has unexpected good news for them. Even though everyone was expecting a street gun, this one has a legitimate owner who lives on Park Avenue.
At the Kligman home, Mrs. Kligman says her late husband Marvin naturally had a registered gun since he was in the diamond trade. Munch asks to see the gun and who else has access to it. Mrs. Kligman says only her son does. When she opens the safe, the gun is gone.
Benson and Stabler question Peter Kligman about the gun at Hudson. He claims he does not have the gun and has no idea who does. He was not sleeping with Vanessa. Benson says they will check his alibi, but right now, he is looking good for the murder. Peter finally admits he took the gun after his Super Bowl bets went south. He had planned to sell it, but someone stole it. More questions establish that Donovan lives in the same dorm as Peter, Peter showed Donovan the gun, and Donovan saw where Peter kept it. Stabler takes a phone call and says Warner needs them.
At the morgue, Warner has fumed the body and found a fingerprint on Vanessa's inside right wrist. It is a 10-point match for Donovan.
Benson and Stabler arrest Donovan during one of his criminal law classes, making him do the perp walk in front of his classmates and an indignant professor.
At the station, Donovan undergoes a DNA swab while protesting his innocence. He claims he argued with Vanessa at the club because she had stolen a credit card and put thousands of dollars on it. He grabbed her in anger after she said that she had bigger problems than paying him back, and that is why the print on her wrist is so deep. When he finally takes the bandage off his neck, the wound is from a razor, not finger scratches.
Stabler and Benson walk to their desks. Stabler is not sure he believes Donovan's story, but it does offer a possible motive. He is distracted from the conversation by multiple messages left by Ray Bevins. Cragen walks up and says Donovan's DNA does not match the DNA from the crime scene. Stabler then offers another crime theory. Cragen says regardless, they still cannot hold on to Donovan nor can they talk to him anymore. Donovan's criminal law professor has called and lawyered up for him.
Ray Bevins appears and Stabler walks over to him saying it is the middle of the night. Ray says he knows, but Stabler has not returned any of his messages. He wants to know if there are any leads or information that Stabler can share with him. Stabler says they are making progress, but Ray needs to go home. Stabler will call him as soon as he knows anything. As Ray leaves, Benson comes around the corner with Vanessa's LUDs. She had called the rape crisis center multiple times in the two weeks before she was raped. Julie White at the rape crisis center says she spoke with Vanessa over 20 times. Vanessa was in a sexual relationship, and needed help understanding it – she was not sure she had been raped. Julie says Vanessa was definitely raped. The man was a sadist and liked it rough. He also made her have sex in public and degraded her. The one time Vanessa said no, he beat her up and she never refused him again. Julie gave her SVU's phone number, but says Vanessa was depressed and not able to handle reporting the rape yet. She kept blaming herself instead of her boss.
Benson and Stabler interview Vanessa's boss, Perry Williams, at his Central Park apartment. He admits he was sleeping with her. The detectives invite him to the precinct, and he says he will come with them after he has called his lawyer to meet them there.
Perry and his lawyer are questioned at the precinct. Rather, the lawyer tries to avoid all questions, but cannot keep his client's arrogance in check. Perry offers details and slander about Vanessa. As he is escorted to the elevator, Ray steps off the car to which Perry is headed. Ray asks Stabler for news about Vanessa, and Perry overhears him. Perry identifies Ray as Vanessa's father, and taunts him. Stabler and Perry's lawyer try to restrain the two men. Ray accuses Perry of murdering his daughter.
Stabler tells Ray he needs to stop coming to the station. Ray says he does not care about anything, not even his job, just finding Vanessa's killer. He is angry they have not arrested anyone yet, but Stabler reminds him it has only been three days and Ray must give them time. He asks for Stabler's opinion of whether Perry is guilty. Stabler gives noncommittal answers to begin with, but when Ray pressures him he gives in and tells Ray that they are looking at Perry for rape. Ray is very grateful.
That night, Benson urges Stabler to go home. He says he needs to get Perry. Benson leaves for some sleep, and Stabler makes a call, asking someone to put a rush on the test.
Siper goes over the test results with Stabler at the ballistics lab. The grease on the gun matches Vanessa by way of the lotion and face powder she used. Stabler says the gun touched Vanessa's skin. Siper says you would think so, but the grease also had tobacco flakes that match cigarettes found in Vanessa's purse. Siper has re-examined the gun residue pattern, and it does not fit a struggle. It looks as though Vanessa shot herself.
Back at the precinct, the detectives go through the new theory for the crime. Stabler says Perry raped Vanessa and drove her to suicide. Benson says Vanessa stole the gun, planning to kill Perry, and lost her nerve. Fin says Perry raped her again, and that was the last straw. Benson suggests looking for an outcry witness to make the case, but Stabler says no one knows anything – they all thought she was a party girl. Huang walks up and says there is a reason. Vanessa's toxicology reports show lithium in her blood. The drug indicates she was bipolar; it explains the mood swings, shopping sprees, promiscuity, and why everyone thought she was using drugs. Huang says it also explains why she could not leave Perry. Fin asks why the drug did not work, and Huang says the level is too low. She had stopped taking the medication approximately a week ago. Stabler goes to tell her father.
At Ray's home, Benson and Stabler go over everything with him. Ray is in denial. He has an alternate reason for each bit of evidence. He finally says that even if Vanessa did commit suicide, it was Perry who drove her to it. Benson agrees, but says Perry is not legally responsible for the suicide. Ray asks them to leave.
At Hudson University's health services center, Benson and Stabler interview Vanessa's psychiatrist. He says she had done well with the meds and therapy. As she stabilized, she realized Peter was abusing her. Perry was the one who pushed her to stop her meds. The doctor says Perry wanted a hypersexualized party girl and as she approached normal, he lost control of her. Benson asks if Vanessa confided in anyone, and the doctor says she kept a therapy journal.
Back at the precinct, ADA Alex Cabot has joined the detectives. Benson says the journal has some graphic stuff written in it, and she understands why Vanessa did not share it with her father. Perry's ex-girlfriends will testify he gets off on pain, but they will not claim rape. Vanessa showed signs of sexual trauma that Perry will claim were consensual. They also have her statements to the rape crisis counselor and her psychiatrist. Alex says none of that proves rape, but she can get the statements admitted under the outcry exception to the hearsay rule. Olivia reads part of the journal to Alex, and it is so disturbing Alex agrees to take the case to trial. She suggests, however, that they urge Ray to file a civil claim and clean Perry out.
As Benson and Stabler leave to find Ray, Warner comes in and asks to speak to Stabler. She says she messed up. When she walked Ray through the evidence, she mentioned the oral sodomy. She did not realize Stabler had not told him about it. Stabler says he had not wanted to put that image in Ray's head. Warner says he was very upset and left muttering about a club. Stabler runs out the door.
Behind Dominique's, the detectives arrive to an active crime scene. Stabler's alert did not arrive in time, and Ray shot Perry in the same alley where Vanessa committed suicide. Ray is nowhere to be found. Stabler says, "We had him. We had Perry."
Police cars in code 3 (lights and sirens) and the detectives' car arrive at Ray's apartment. He is not there. Benson says he would want to be with Vanessa. A call comes over the radio. A man is holding a gun to his head in Central Park.
Stabler approaches Ray, who is sitting by a lake with his back against a tree. Stabler shows him he has no gun and asks Ray not to do it. Ray, distraught, says he has nothing with Vanessa gone. She needed help and could not come to him. Stabler says Vanessa loved Ray and she would not want him to do this. Ray chose this spot because it was Vanessa's favorite place as a child. Stabler talks to him intense and quiet, and gently takes the gun from Ray.
Alex enters the observation room as Elliot watches Ray talk to someone in the interrogation room. Alex is angry with Elliot. He lawyered up for Ray and called a topnotch criminal defense attorney. Although the case against Perry was probably unwinnable, Alex will not condone vigilantism, even though she sympathizes with Ray. Disgusted, Stabler says he arrested him, now Ray is all hers.
Ray's lawyer asks for manslaughter with only probation because Ray snapped when he found out Perry would not go to trial. Alex fires back that for someone who had snapped, he surely did a lot of planning. The lawyer suggests Ray see the court psychiatrist since Alex does not believe he was temporarily insane.
At the jail, Ray tells his story to Huang. He says he got the gun from someone at work and went to the club to wait for Perry, saying he had an appointment. When Perry returned, Ray confronted him. Perry denied raping Vanessa and claimed she liked what he did to her. Ray took him to the alley and made Perry kneel as he had made Vanessa kneel. Perry pleaded for his life and said he would tell the truth to the police. Ray did not believe him and put the gun in Perry's mouth and fired.
Back at the precinct, Huang says Ray was not temporarily insane. He had the presence of mind to plan the murder. Stabler is upset, and challenges Huang. Alex believes Ray's lawyer will try nullification and the jury may acquit in sympathy. Stabler has no problem with that verdict. Alex says she is not sad Perry is dead, but she will not roll over for Ray. As she and Huang leave, Stabler tells Benson he should have anticipated Ray's actions and stopped him. Benson disagrees and says Stabler would not have done the same thing. She says Stabler made a mistake and let Ray in. Stabler agrees, saying Ray got to him and now Elliot's responsible.
When Ray testifies at the trial, Alex challenges his version of the story. She says he did not know his daughter as well as he thought did. There were whole parts of her life that he did not know about. He had no proof of the rape, either. Ray says no, Stabler told him Perry had raped Vanessa.
Stabler knocks on Alex's office door and asks if she is calling him to the stand. She says no, the defense is calling him since he is now their star witness. Stabler denies telling Ray that Perry had definitely raped his daughter. He told him Perry was a suspect. Alex is mad. She says it does not matter; he gave premature information to an unstable man and the defense will use that to justify the murder. She says he had better be prepared for her cross-examination.
The next day at court, Ray's attorney gets Stabler to admit he had told Ray they were "going to get the guy." Stabler claims it was an ambivalent remark about finding the murderer, not that Perry did it. The lawyer also pressures Stabler into confirming that he told Ray they were powerless to arrest Perry. Alex cross-examines him and gets him to say that what he told Ray was not the official opinion of the case. At that point, there was only circumstantial evidence a crime had been committed so what Elliot said was a personal opinion and his sympathy for Ray made him give the man unsubstantiated information. Alex asks him if he condones Ray's actions. After a long pause during which he looks at Ray, Stabler says, "No, it was wrong."
During the closing arguments, Ray's attorney says every one of the jury would have done the same if it had been one of their family members. She asks for a not guilty verdict. Alex reminds the jury that Perry Williams is not the one on trial. He had not been found guilty, and in the eyes of the law, he was innocent. Even if he had been convicted of the rape, he still would be alive. Ray executed a man who was kneeling and begging for his life, and while some of the jury may think Perry got what he deserved, they must ask themselves if they really would have done the same thing if the man's crime had not been proved. She says that everyone has felt the need for revenge and that justice is an eye for an eye. However, does that mean Perry's family can now kill Ray, and Ray's family can then retaliate against Perry's family? An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.
The jury finds Ray guilty of second-degree murder. Stabler, who attended the verdict, meets Ray as he is being escorted back to jail. Stabler says he is sorry, but Ray says he is not.