Law and Order
SVU, Episode 7.12
Production number: 07012
First aired: 3 January 2006
  th of 502 produced in SVU  
th of 502 released in SVU
  th of 1271 released in all  
Ted Carthage Benson Infected.jpg
Written By
Michele Fazekas & Tara Butters

Directed By
Michelle MacLaren


Monica Phelps is found dead in her apartment and her son Nathan is found hiding in the closet behind her body. The detectives soon link Monica's death to philanthropist Ted Carthage, who runs an organization dedicated to helping women get off the streets.

Benson is certain that Carthage is the killer, but a shaky ID from Nathan puts him back on the street. After Nathan kills Carthage himself, Sophie Devere argues that Nathan committed the killing because he saw Carthage shoot his mother (something the gun manufacturers don't like). Carthage is revealed to have in fact been the killer of Nathan's mother and testimony by Benson moves Novak (who's sympathetic but unable to really do anything) to offer the plea bargain, but the gun manufacturers, through Carthage's wife launches a civil suit to prevent this with Novak, Devere and Judge Donnelly as the defendants.

After the Carthage wife's lawyer, Mike Geddes, calls Nathan to the stand, Novak uses this as a ploy to win the case: she convinces Donnelly and Devere to allow him to be put on the stand and then uses it to call for a mistrial of the criminal case as him testifying is self-incrimination.

Donnelly calls a mistrial at Devere's request (and per their plan), thus dismissing Nathan's criminal case, and Novak is able to successfully move for a dismissal of the civil case as it is no longer relevant. Geddes believes that the three planned this, but the judge does not as Geddes was the one who called Nathan to the stand.

Nathan gets a foster family and is let go while Geddes is unhappy and confronts Novak on the issue. Novak admits that she believes that Nathan should be punished in some way, but doesn't deserve a harsh punishment and the civil suit forced her to take the actions she did to help him.


Episode summary


Main cast

Recurring cast

Guest cast



Geddes: [after seeing Nathan with a foster family] Killer got a foster family. That's nice.
Novak: You're a jerk, Geddes.
Geddes: Yeah, and you got a murderer off.
Novak: Nathan Phelps would be serving the sentence I had already negotiated had you not gotten involved. So why don't we put the blame where it really belongs? On your bosses.

  • Munch: (looks at detergent while Fin questions a suspect whose drugs are stashed in the front load washing machine) So what should I use? Lemony Goodness, or Mountain Stream?

  • Devere: [her opening summation] Some of you might think that Nathan Phelps acted out of simple vengeance. Ted Carthage murdered his mother, so he murdered Ted Carthage. That is what the assistant district attorney will argue. She will tell you that anyone who kills out of retaliation should go to jail. I agree with her. But that is not what my client did. Did he hate Ted Carthage? Absolutely. Did he kill him? Yes. So, if not out of retaliation, what made Nathan do it? This is a new study published in Science magazine. It found that people who have witnessed gun violence are twice as likely, sometimes 3 times as likely, to commit an act of violence themselves. Nathan witnessed Ted Carthage shoot his mother. And just as this study predicts, he reacted with violence. This study equates gun violence with an infectious disease. Anyone exposed to it is infected. Now, you may not agree or like this study. Gun manufacturers don't like it, either. It goes against their mantra: "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." But this study points to something that is almost unspeakable in today's gun culture, and that is that the blame for violence can be directly placed on the gun. Once you see someone squeeze the trigger, it's easier to do it yourself. Nathan saw his mother shot to death in front him, and at that moment he contracted the disease. It wasn't his choice, any more than it is your choice to catch a cold after someone has sneezed on you. Violence is the disease. Guns are the virus. And we have an epidemic on our hands.

  • Benson [to Casey]: What are you gonna do?
  • Novak: Draft a plea bargain.
  • Benson: I damaged your case that much?
  • Novak: You changed my mind. And, I'll bet you convinced a juror or two.

[during Nathan's testimony]
Geddes: Why did you kill Ted Carthage?
Nathan: I don't know.
Geddes: Didn't he kill your mom?
Nathan: Yeah.
Geddes: So are you lying when you say you don't know?
Nathan: I'm not lying.
Geddes: Was your mom a prostitute?
Nathan: I don't know.
Geddes: Did you have a nice apartment when she was alive?
Nathan: It was okay.
Geddes: Was there a lot of crime in the neighborhood?
Nathan: I guess.
Geddes: Did you have a nice life, Nathan?
Nathan: Yes.
Geddes: Doesn't sound like it. How old were you when your dad was stabbed to death?
Nathan: 6.
Geddes: If you could, would you shoot the guy that stabbed your dad, just like you shot Ted Carthage?
Nathan: No.
Geddes: No?! Why not?! He stabbed your father!
Nathan: I don't wanna kill anybody!
Geddes: Sure. You did. You were angry.
Nathan: No!
Geddes: Yeah, Ted Carthage killed your mother. You hated him!
Nathan: Stop it!
Geddes: You didn't kill because you saw the gun! You wanted to hurt him! You hated him, and you wanted him to die!
Nathan: [furiously jumps out of his seat] YES! I HATED HIM! ALL RIGHT?!!

Background information and notes

  • Goof: It sounds like Olivia refers to Nathan as "David", which is part of Malcolm David Kelley (Nathan)'s real name, as she is telling him goodnight in the station house "crib" bunk room.
  • At the end of this episode, Casey claims that she has never seen anyone gunned down in front of her. Earlier this season during the episode "Raw," she saw just that but her statement was in relation to being brought up in a house with guns.
  • This is the first episode to be broadcast in a 16:9 ratio, which is known as letterbox format.
  • The original working title for this episode was "Plague."

Episode scene cards

1 2 3

West's Papaya
564 West 54th Street
Tuesday, November 15

My Salvation Charities
363 West 20th Street
Wednesday, November 16

Marla's Beauty Salon
169 West 129th Street
Thursday, November 17

4 5 6

Trial Part 29
Monday, December 12

Trial Part 29
Tuesday, December 13

Civil Court
Part 8
Wednesday, December 14

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