Law & Order

Season 3 Episode 3


Aired Monday 10:00 PM Oct 07, 1992 on NBC

Episode Recap

A woman named Beth Milgram is found murdered in the street. She was beaten over the head with a steel pipe. The nature of the crime leads Logan and Cerreta to believe the victim knew the killer. Logan and Cerreta find polaroids of her and her friends near her body, so they ask the girls to come in. The girls tell the detectives that no one would have wanted to hurt Beth. The girls also say that Beth's parents were coming into the city to take her to the airport for a flight to Italy.

The detectives go to Beth's dorm room where they talk to her parents. They tell the detectives about Beth's boyfriend Tommy, so Logan and Cerreta head over to his dorm room. Tommy isn't there, but they talk to his roommate Bill Lynch. Lynch accuses them of going after Tommy because he's poor and Mexican, to which Cerreta replies that they didn't know either of those things. Lynch says he doesn't know when Tommy got back the night before, but that it was "some time after Letterman".

Logan and Cerreta find Tommy working at a homeless shelter. He tells them that Beth's father hit her when he found out that she and Tommy were engaged. He didn't approve of their relationship because of Tommy's ethnicity. When Cerreta asks Tommy where he was the night before, he says he was at the shelter until one o'clock and advises them to check with Father Gregory at the church.

Father Gregory says that he fell asleep before Tommy left, so he doesn't really know how late Tommy was there. The detectives are suspicious of Father Gregory's story. They go to forensics to see what information they have there. Forensics finds black polyester fibers snagged on the pipe. They also find Tommy's fingerprint on the outside of the envelope that Beth's pictures were in. Unfortunately, they have no way of knowing if Beth had the envelope before she went to see her friends or after.

The Nassau police send over a file regarding Beth and her father. They had a fight in the front yard of her parents' house four months earlier. Beth's father gave her a bloody lip. Cragen tells them that Mr. Milgram is pressuring him to get Beth's dorm room unsealed so he can pack up her stuff and go home. Although Cerreta is skeptical of the theory that Milgram killed his daughter, he and Mike head over to the room to check it out.

In Beth's room, Logan recalls that when they gave the parents the news about death, her father was sitting at her desk going through her papers. He finds a life insurance policy in the amount of $250,000 with her father listed as the sole beneficiary.

When they question him, Milgram gets mad and asks them to leave. They go speak to his wife, but when they ask to look around, she tells them to talk to her husband.

Back at the precinct, Logan and Cerreta are talking to Cragen when Mr. Milgram and his attorney storm in. Milgram tells them that he was 80 miles away from where his daughter was killed the night of her death, and he has a speeding ticket to prove it. Cragen asks them if they have anything else to go on, and they remember another girl who was at the party, Celeste. Celeste tells them that the day of the party, Beth told Tommy he should see other girls. Tommy called Celeste later and told her that he couldn't live without Beth.

The detectives go back to talk to Tommy again. Tommy again says he was at the shelter until one in the morning, so the detectives go talk to the people staying there. One of the men tells them that Tommy was there all night. He says he knows because around three or four in the morning, he got up to go to the bathroom, and he saw Tommy going into the confessional with Father Gregory.

Father Gregory tells Cerreta and Logan that he can't tell them what Tommy said or what time he was there. When they come out of the building, Cerreta tells Mike he thinks that Father Gregory winked to try to tell them something without actually breaking his vows.

They manage to get a warrant to search Tommy's room, where they find a bag with fibers that match the fibers found on the pipe. Logan calls Cragen to let him know they're about to go arrest Tommy, but Tommy is already there, along with Father Gregory. Tommy confesses to the murder, saying he couldn't stand for Beth to leave him.

Father Gregory speaks to Ben on Tommy's behalf, asking for a minimal sentence so that Tommy can commit himself to the church when he gets out of prison.

Adam tells Ben and Paul that unless they can prove the murder was premeditated, they should offer Tommy a plea. Otherwise, the jury will feel sorry for him, and they will never convict on murder.

Mr. Milgram comes to see Ben and asks him to offer Tommy a plea. He says that Tommy once fooled him, and he will fool the jury too. Ben has to interrupt him to stop him from making a threat against Tommy.

Ben soon hears from Tommy's attorney, Cyrus Weaver, who is trying to get the bag with the matching fibers and Tommy's confession thrown out. Ben manages to keep the confession, but the judge rules the bag inadmissible as evidence. Without the bag, there is no evidence of premeditation and not enough for a murder two conviction. Weaver tells Ben and Paul that he is going to plead not guilty by reason of mental defect or diminshed capacity and because there is no manslaughter charge, Tommy will walk.

They go to trial anyway, and Weaver tries to prove Tommy's insanity defense is valid. Dr. Olivet holds up well on the stand, but Ben and Adam are nervous. Paul comes to the rescue by finding out where Tommy got the pipe. An order for plumbing work was called in at the shelter where Tommy worked four days before Beth's murder. They get a search warrant and pull apart the walls at the shelter, where they find pipe matching the pipe used to kill Beth.

At trial, however, Weaver makes it clear that the pipe could have been picked up anywhere and did not necessarily come from the shelter. He then puts his psychiatrist on the stand who says that it is probable that Tommy was not aware of the consequences of killing Beth at the time of the murder.

Tommy takes the stand and talks about his mother dying in the heat while rich people were partying in a house not far off. Weaver is clearly trying to evoke sympathy for the life that Tommy came from.

Weaver approaches Paul afterwards and tells him that he is willing to talk about a deal because neither side has a decisive edge in the matter. Ben decides to offer a deal because he is unsure of the outcome of the trial, but he wants to make sure Tommy is punished. Tommy, however, refuses to accept the deal, saying he'd rather take his chances with the jury.

In closing statements, Ben demonstrates the six blows that Tommy applied to Beth's head in killing her. The jury convicts him of murder.

The episode ends with Schiff talking about the guilt that everyone feels about people like Tommy and then getting into a hired car outside the courthouse and saying, "The state pays for it."