|←||L&O, Episode 14.24||→|
|Production number: E4319|
First aired: 19 May 2004
| Written By|
Richard Sweren & Marc Guggenheim
Two women are accused of conspiring to murder each other's husbands, but Jack and Serena are forced to try the cases simultaneously and separately. Meanwhile, Detective Briscoe announces his retirement.
A delivery driver, John Byrne, is shot dead on a woman's stoop with a .38 revolver. There was no robbery and the empty package he had just delivered came from a bogus sender, so Detectives Briscoe and Green immediately suspect a planned attack. Byrne's wife Adele denies having any marital or financial problems, but a coworker points them to Gloria, a secretary on his route who he was cheating with.
Gloria says she broke it off when she realized John had another girlfriend. Security footage from the motel they frequented shows John with this second girl; Green recognizes her sneakers as an exclusive pair sold at only one location on the Upper West Side. It turns out she's one of the saleswomen there, Blair. She reveals that Adele in fact knew about the affair, and had called her threatening to "do something about it."
Adele denies knowing Blair or owning a gun. Her supervisor at the parks department says she was working grounds maintenance in Riverside Park near 85th Street at the time of the murder, so Briscoe and Green wonder if she hired a hitman. Her bank statements show frequent visits to Gardner's Cafe, plus a $500 withdrawal from a private ATM in Bennington, Vermont.
The detectives travel to Vermont and discover the ATM is located inside a gun store. After Briscoe threatens the owner with federal prosecution for selling a firearm to an out-of-state resident, he admits he bought Adele a .38 Smith & Wesson under his name. When confronted, Adele claims it was in her handbag when it was snatched the month before the murder, although the police report she filed at the time didn't mention the gun. Lieutenant Van Buren suggests they search the Hudson River near 85th, assuming Adele ditched the revolver there. The divers find one and the serial numbers match. Briscoe also informs a disappointed Green that he's putting in his retirement papers.
Everyone thinks Adele is done for until the ballistics lab determines her gun isn't the murder weapon. The detectives look into other unsolved shootings in the area and come across Randall Gardner, a wealthy property developer who was killed the same week as John Byrne with a .38 while jogging in Central Park. His wife Belinda runs Gardner's Cafe, and what's more, ballistics soon determines that Adele's gun is the murder weapon in that case.
Randall's sister suggests Belinda married Randall for his money, and he bought her the cafe so she wouldn't just go shopping all day. Belinda also stood to inherit $13 million from his death. The team believes the two women met at the cafe and agreed to kill each other's husbands, so they would both have strong alibis for their own husbands' murders. But with no hard evidence of a conspiracy, the trials can't be combined, and without the second murder weapon, the already shaky case against Belinda would collapse if Adele were acquitted. DA Branch decides to try the pair simultaneously.
At Belinda's trial, McCoy is caught off-guard when Gloria's boss testifies that a custodian found a gun in a trashcan at his office the day after the Byrne murder. The gun was turned into the police and the judge orders that it be tested, confirming that it was the .38 that killed John Byrne. The gun is untraceable and nobody at the office remembers Belinda, creating enough reasonable doubt for her to be found not guilty.
Meanwhile, Adele is found guilty, giving McCoy an opening. At Rikers, he asks her whether it's fair that Belinda got to plant her gun in Gloria's office and is free to enjoy her millions, while working-class Adele faces a sentence of 20-to-life. Double jeopardy only protects Belinda from being prosecuted again in the Byrne case, not her own husband's. With Adele's testimony, Belinda can be indicted for hiring his murder. She didn't pay Adele in cash, but McCoy successfully cites case law establishing that the payment can also be in "services," i.e. the killing of John Byrne. Belinda agrees to a deal for 20-to-life rather than life without parole and gloats that a jury had still acquitted her. McCoy is unbothered, having won nevertheless.
Back at the precinct, Briscoe packs up his things. He remarks that it's nice to go out on a win before walking out of the door, ending the episode.
- Jerry Orbach as Detective Lennie Briscoe
- Jesse L. Martin as Detective Ed Green
- S. Epatha Merkerson as Lieutenant Anita Van Buren
- Sam Waterston as Executive A.D.A. Jack McCoy
- Elisabeth Röhm as A.D.A. Serena Southerlyn
- Fred Dalton Thompson as D.A. Arthur Branch
- Glynnis O'Connor as Defense Attorney Anne Paulsen
- John Benjamin Hickey as Defense Attorney Aaron Solomon
- Robert Turano as Detective Ed Pachuco
- David Brummel as Judge Gus Stamos
- E.J. Carroll as Forensic Technician Kevin Braken
- Janet Sarno as Judge Monica Ferrante
- Andrea Navedo as Detective Ana Cordova
- Joe Gonzalez as Sergeant Martinez
- Elizabeth Connors as Adele Byrne
- Victoria Dillard as Belinda Gardner
- Terry Burke as Murray Gunderczak
- Amanda Serkasevich as Blair
- Stephanie Michels as Gloria Regelson
- Darrell Larson as Arnold Barker
- Jesse Perez as Joe Rodriguez
- Toks Olagundoye as Janette Gardner
- Ronobir Lahiri as Motel Clerk
- Alton Fitzgerald White as Boss
- Alex Nevil as RME Manager
- Ken Forman as Dempsey
- Laura Hughes as Louise Hamilton
- Kristi Flynn as Clarissa Hamilton
- Langdon Bosarge as Fashionista
- Joseph Ricci as John Byrne
- Marcos Muniz as Jury Foreperson #2
- Maggie Maes as Jury Foreperson #1
"It's nice to go out on a win." - Det. Lennie Briscoe
Background information and notes
- This episode marks Jerry Orbach's final appearance on the series as Detective Lennie Briscoe. He reprised his role in the spin-off series Law & Order: Trial by Jury for the series' first two episodes before he passed away on December 28, 2004.
- This is also the last appearance of Defense Attorney Anne Paulsen.
- Other episodes that make references to the film Strangers on a Train include the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Bedfellows" and the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Revenge".
Episode scene cards
Law & Order