Season 17 - Episode 5: Public Service Homicide

Episode 5: Public Service Homicide

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Carl Mullaly is found dead in his apartment by a takeaway delivery boy. He has been stabbed four times, and the police are quick to note that nothing appears to be missing from his flat and that there are no signs of a struggle. Green and Cassady discover that Mullaly had recently featured on Hard Focus, a popular undercover television programme that entraps sexual predators with offers of sex from underage girls, then films their reactions as they are arrested. “No wonder Mr Mullaly’s dead,” Green remarks.

When Mullaly’s neighbour Evan Fleming is questioned about the death, he appears unfazed by the murder and the news that he and his young daughter were living so close to a child molester. “Mr Mullaly’s not living next door anymore, is he?” Fleming responds, coolly.

Mullaly’s phone records indicate that he spoke to a woman named Hannah Welch several times in the hours before he was murdered. Hannah claims that she was the victim’s girlfriend and had no idea that he was a paedophile, only that he had recently lost his job as a school caretaker. Further investigation reveals that Fleming tipped the school off about Mullaly’s sexual deviancy, and phone records indicate that it was also Fleming who ordered the takeaway for Mullaly. “Who orders dinner for a dead man?” Van Buren ponders.

When Fleming is brought in for questioning, he claims that his daughter Abigail saw a woman leave the apartment soon after the murder. He insists that he initially concealed this evidence from the police to spare the girl from having to give evidence and out of a general contempt for Mullaly. “That son of a bitch babysat for her twice,” he says. “You’ve been changing your tune an awful lot,” Cassady responds. However, she decides to go out on a limb and interview Abigail. Following this, the detectives ascertain that Hannah Welch is the perpetrator. When the detectives arrest her, Hannah is defiant. “He deserved to die – he was a monster!” she exclaims. “It’s still murder,” Cassady replies.

Hannah claims that she was attacked by her boyfriend after she confronted him about the allegations. Citing self-defence, her solicitor wants her to be released immediately. “We might as well send out open invitations to execute paedophiles,” McCoy says. He decides to press ahead with the charges, knowing that the lack of any signs of a struggle contradict Hannah's self-defence claims. However, Branch is all too aware that it will be tough to prosecute a woman with no prior convictions for murdering a known paedophile. “You’d better find some skeletons in Hannah Welch’s closet – and fast,” Branch tells his team.

As she constructs her case, Rubirosa discovers that Hannah was not in fact Mullaly’s girlfriend, but a victim of his abuse. Further investigation reveals that Hard Focus was paying her rent, and that a producer for the show gave her a knife and instructed her to confront Mullaly. Although Hannah’s own guilt seems certain, can the DA demonstrate that the TV show and its producer are also culpable for the murder?

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