Home     Casebook: "Burned"
Episode 8-9 (# 166)               Original Airdate: 12.10.97
Written by Siobhan Byrne          Directed by Constantine Makris
Guest Stars
Robert Vaughn (Carl Anderton) Mia Dillon (Elaine Anderton Lawlor) Sam Huntington (Terry Lawlor) Joseph Siravo (Stan Kaminsky) Michael O'Hare (Roy Lawlor) Bob Dishy (Lawrence Weaver) Anne Jackson (Judge Jane Simons) Sylvia Kelegian (Sandra Lawlor) Ellen Lancaster (Lois Garey) Tess O'Brien (Grace Killeen) Tom McCarthy (Tony Collabro) Camilia Sanes (Ellen Rattinger) Joe Pacheco (Salvatore Hess) Brenda Spohnholtz (Theresa Green) Peter Lewis (Ted Vlanos) Tom Demenkoff (Brady) Richard Donelly (Norm Crispin) J.K. Simmons (Skoda)
Stan Kaminsky and Ellen Lancaster enter his darkened apartment, laughing, groping one another. Kaminsky assures her he has no wife and no roommate. She finds a cigarette butt with red lipstick on the tip; he says it was his mother's. When he goes into another room to get her a drink, Ellen sees an answering machine and hits the replay button. She listens to a message. "I did it. You don't have to worry anymore. I killed Dee Dee." When Kaminsky returns, a nervous Ellen tells her she just remembered she had to be someplace. Despite his objections, she leaves -- in a hurry.
At the 27th Precinct later that night, Ellen Lancaster tells Detectives Lennie Briscoe and Rey Curtis that she was sure she'd heard right -- Kaminksy had someone killed. "Okay, let me see if I got this straight," says an unethused Briscoe. "Stanley somebody, who's a fashion photographer someplace, lives in some apartment, probably in a building at 114th and Riverside, and has a message about the murder of somebody who might be named Dee Dee." Curtis tells her to wait, they'll go get a sketch artist. Briscoe wryly tells his partner this one is going to be a slam dunk.

Briscoe and Curtis go to the apartment building at Riverside and 114th the next day and ask the super about a tenant named Stan. There's a Stan Arnold, a Stan Hudson (but he's in New Mexico) and a Stan Kaminsky. Curtis shows the super a sketch, says the Stanley they want is a fashion photographer who likes to pick up women at bars. The super says its Kaminsky. He didn't see Kaminsky with anyone last night because the Rangers were playing. But he knows that Kaminsky works at a lumber store on West 88th.
The detectives find Kaminsky at the lumber store, loading a truck. Kaminsky doesn't remember much about Ellen. He tells them she was warming up one minute and the next thing he knew it was a "no hitter." He swears he didn't do anything to her. Curtis asks him if he returned the calls he got on his answering machine, and when Kaminsky says no, Curtis adds that somebody left him a message about Dee Dee. Kaminsky doesn't know a Dee Dee. He's annoyed that Ellen invaded his privacy by listening to his messages. The detectives persuade him to let them listen to the messages. Kaminsky doesn't like being seen leaving with two cops. Briscoe tells him to look at the bright side -- at least he's not being handcuffed.
At Kaminsky's apartment, the detectives listen to the two messages on the machine. One is from Kristen, who is off this weekend and "has bikini, will travel" if Kaminsky still wants to go to Jamaica. The other is from a cable company regarding Kaminsky's unpaid balance. Curtis notices that the tape rewinds after the last message is played and tells Kaminsky they'll have to take the tape. Kaminsky needs a pen to write down Kristen's number. Briscoe has it memorized, and gives it to him.
In the Communications Division at One Police Plaza, a tech informs the detectives that the original message left a print-through. He plays a tape on a reel-to-reel. They hear the message Ellen Lancaster heard.
Back at the Two-Seven, in Lt. Anita Van Buren's office, Van Buren asks Briscoe if there aren't any crimes with actual bodies that he could investigate. Curtis arrives with Kaminsky's "yellows" -- he was convicted of Assault 3 back in 1995 and got probation. Last April, Dina Perucci got an order of protection against him. Van Buren tells them to find out if Dina is still alive.
Briscoe and Curtis are met at the door of Dina Perucci's apartment by Dina's roommate, Theresa Green, who is on her way out. Theresa hasn't seen Dina since Monday, but that's not unusual. They are both flight attendants. She knows Kaminsky and tells the detectives that after Dina broke up with him he came banging on their door one night at two in the morning.
In the interrogation room at the 27th Precinct, Briscoe and Curtis grill Kaminsky. He insists he doesn't know a Dee Dee and doesn't know where Dina Perucci is, he hasn't seen her in months. He suggests that the message was a wrong number; he got a lot of calls for a guy named Ray, or Roy, when he first got the number. Briscoe and Curtis haul him, protesting, out of the room; Curtis tells him if he remembers anything -- like Ray's last name -- Lockup will pass the message on to them.
Later, Van Buren tells Briscoe that, according to Worldwide Airlines, Dina Perucci is in Athens on a layover. Van Buren says the phone call could have been a prank. Curtis gets off the phone, grabs his jacket, and tells Briscoe that a Roy Lawlor had the number before Kaminsky.
It's Wednesday, October 9. Briscoe and Curtis find Lawlor at his apartment at 556 West End Avenue. Curtis uses a small pocket tape recorder to play the message for Lawlor, who doesn't recognize the voice on the tape. He doesn't know anyone named Dee Dee. Briscoe notices that Lawlor is smoking constantly; Lawlor admits he's been smoking two packs a day ever since he stopped drinking. Briscoe can empathize; he went half nuts when he quit. Lawlor says he went into the program when his marriage broke up. "One day at a time, huh?" asks Briscoe. "One long day," replies Lawlor grimly.
At Sumi Hair Select on 2314 Broadway -- Lawlor's place of employment -- a manager tells the detectives that Lawlor works in town, and asks them if they're from the 15th Precinct. He's got parking problems -- four tickets in the last month. He says that Lawlor had no friends among the other salesmen. He kept mostly to himself. Lawlor had to stay in the city because they couldn't get insurance on him. Curtis asks if that had anything to do with DUIs. The manager says that two years ago Lawlor got drunk, passed out, and started a fire in which his daughter, Diane, was killed. As the detectives start to leave the manager asks what he should do about the tickets. Briscoe advises him to pay them, just like they do.
At the police arson division, Briscoe and Curtis learn that even though the Fire Department reached the scene when the fire was in its early stages, both Lawlor and his daughter suffered from smoke inhalation. The daughter didn't recover. The investigation concluded that Lawlor had dropped a cigarette on some newspapers after falling asleep on the couch. A neighbor, alerted by her barking dog, had called it in. Lawlor admitted to being responsible. His blood alcohol level was point two-five. The mother was upstate, in Saratoga, at the time.
Back at Lawlor's apartment, Briscoe comments on Roy's big memory lapse. Lawlor curtly tells him to try dealing with something like that. He speculates that the phone call was made by someone trying to spook him; he has pissed off plenty of people in his time. He asks the detectives not to rehash all of this with his ex-wife. She's been through enough. But he doesn't know where she is.
The detectives use Sandra Lawlor's social security number to find out where she works, and her boss directs them to a bar, where they find her. They tell her they need to ask a few questions regarding the death of her daughter. Eyeing Curtis, she invites him to call her Sandy. (He doesn't.) She says she was in Saratoga, at a conference, when the fire happened. Curtis asks her where she was last Thursday at 11 or 12. She replies that she was asleep. Besides, why would she leave Roy a message at his old number? She last spoke to Lawlor on September 25 -- what would have been Dee Dee's seventh birthday.
Briscoe enters Van Buren's office to tell the lieutenant and Curtis that he pulled Sandra Lawlor's phone records. She made no calls to Stan Kaminsky, but did make some late night calls to Lawlor's new number, as well as a dozen calls to another number, this one registered to Elaine Anderton Lawlor, who lives on Park Avenue. "Another Mrs. Lawlor?" asks Van Buren, surprised. Curtis says it could be a sister or an aunt. Briscoe had pulled the records on that number too. The confession was made from that phone.
On Tuesday, October 15, Briscoe and Curtis pay a call on Elaine Anderton Lawlor at her home at 40 East 87th. Elaine tells them she and Roy got divorced eight years ago. She hasn't talked to him since he moved to the West Side six or seven months ago. As for Sandra, his second wife, she calls at all hours, complaining about Roy. Curtis tells Elaine that someone left a confession to the arson that killed Roy's daughter on an answering machine. Briscoe adds that the call from this apartment. Elaine's father, Carl Anderton arrives. When Elaine tells him what the detectives have said, Anderton says someone is pulling their leg. He doesn't trust phone records because they can be tampered with. He advises them to talk to "that drunk" Lawlor if they have questions about the firel he started it. Anderton produces his attorney's card and tells them to talk to him -- and asks them to leave.
Briscoe and Curtis talk to the doorman at 40 East 87th, who tells them the Anderton's have two housekeepers, a chauffeur, a secretary -- and Elaine has a kid, Terry, a boy age fourteen or fifteen. Curtis asks if Terry has a high-pitched voice. The doorman says yes. As they walk away, Briscoe tells Curtis he doubts the Andertons will volunteer Terry for a voice sample. Curtis says maybe he will volunteer one himself.
When the chauffeur brings Terry home from school, Briscoe and Curtis approach the boy on the sidewalk and ask him if he can direct them to the Metropolitan Museum. Terry gives them directions. Curtis repeats the directions, and gets them wrong, forcing Terry to give them again. The detectives thank him and walk on.
At the Communications Division, One Police Plaza, a tech informs the detectives that since the boy's voice barely registers 50 decibels the best he can do is a 60% match. "Sixty percent is about twenty percent short of an arrest warrant," says Curtis. Briscoe suggests they look at the arson evidence.
Back at the arson division, they go over the evidence from the Lawlor fire -- cigarette butt, newspapers, a couple of matchbooks. One is from London's Connaught Hotel. "My first wife wanted to stay there one night," remembers Briscoe. "I figured out we could afford one hour." They agree it isn't the kind of accommodation Roy Lawlor would frequent -- but it's right up Carl Anderton's alley. The arson investigator checks his records, tells them the matchbook was found in the hallway, and it wasn't checked for prints. The cardboard has an acetate finish; the investigator says they should have been able to lift a print. Briscoe wonders if they still can.
Briscoe and Curtis visit ADA Jamie Ross and tell her there was a print on the matchbook. It wasn't Lawlor's. It's size indicates it might be a kid's. Curtis says they also have a 60% match on a voice print. Ross reminds them that Carl Anderton sits on the mayor's reelection committee. Curtis replies that if he sat in a booth collecting money at the Lincoln Tunnel they'd be arresting his grandson by now. Ross wonders about motive. Briscoe says it was the kid's half-sister -- you don't have to be a genius to come up with something. "Then come up with something," says Ross. She suggests they check with the household help at the Anderton's.
The detectives are walking with Grace Killeen, a former employee of the Anderton's. She is pushing a baby in a stroller, and tells them Anderton had her sign a confidentiality agreement. Briscoe says a little girl, five years old, died in a fire they think Terry might have set. Sooner or later she'll have to talk to them. Is she going to wait for a subpoena? She tells them that before the fire Terry would have long phone conversations with his father. He blamed his half-sister for the fact that he could only see his father on the weekends, and thought she was trying to turn his father against him. When the Andertons put some clothes out for the Salvation Army two weeks after the fire, she went through them, as was her custom, and found one of Terry's shirts -- with the smell of smoke still strong on it.
When Terry Lawlor and his mother emerge from 40 East 87th, Briscoe and Curtis are there to arrest him. Elaine is outraged; Briscoe produces the warrant, says they'll be happy to talk to her and her lawyer down at the precinct. As she gets in the back of the car with her son she mutters, "God, you bastards."
Carl Anderton and his attorney, Lawrence Weaver, call on EADA Jack McCoy in his office. ADA Ross is also present. Anderton announces he doesn't like that his grandson has to wear an electronic monitoring device while he's out on bail. McCoy points out that if he weren't Anderton's grandson he might not even be out on bail. Anderton insists that if Terry weren't his grandson he wouldn't have been charged with the crime. McCoy says he has enough for trial, but is willing to talk about a plea. Anderton wants him to drop his charges, and when McCoy mentions talking about a plea with Terry's mother, Anderton says he's the boy's guardian. Weaver thinks there's no way they can prove Terry set the fire. Ross reminds him they have his confession on tape. Weaver produces a motion for an audibility hearing. "A sixty percent voice match is crap, and you know it," says Anderton.
On Friday, October 25, McCoy and Ross meet Weaver in the chambers of Judge Jane Simons. Weaver has reports from three nationally recognized experts comparing the tape to five random samples. His own wife's voice was a 50% match. Ross tells the judge they're offering the match as a probable one in light of the other evidence. McCoy points out that the call came from the defendant's home. Weaver says that doesn't prove his client made the call. Judge Simons says she listened to the tape and can't herself tell that the two voices are from the same person. Considering the inflammable nature of the tape's contents, she decides to suppress it.
In his office, Adam Schiff tells McCoy and Ross that Anderton is a good man; he and Anderton worked together on the Lindsay campaign. He wants to know what kind of plea was offered. Ross says they didn't get that far -- Anderton wouldn't consider a plea. McCoy wants to know why they are "pussyfooting around." Schiff says Anderton has a $4 billion war chest. He took on the SEC three years ago re: the Atlantic Star Cable merger and won. "He's rich, he's powerful," says Ross dryly. "Maybe we should let Robin Leach try the case." Schiff says Anderton brought down a governor and put senators in office. McCoy says he won't kiss Anderton's ass. Schiff tells him to treat Anderton with respect. "He gets the same from me as everybody else," replies McCoy. "I don't care who he is."
Adam Schiff pays Carl Anderton a visit. Anderton reminds him of the time Schiff was present in this very room with Bobby Kennedy right after they signed the Bedford-Stuyvesant restoration agreement. Schiff declines a drink, sits down, and tells Anderton they've been through some rough times together. This will be another one. Anderton replies that if Schiff wanted to he could make it go away. Schiff mentions Terry's confession. Anderton explains that Terry was just trying to make his father feel better. Schiff advises a plea bargain. Anderton asks Schiff when his term is up. Schiff wants to know what he is implying. Anderton says they go back a long way. The important things -- loyalty and friendship -- haven't changed. Terry is his only grandson, and Schiff was at Elaine's wedding. Anderton asks if Schiff is denying him this personal request. Schiff replies that he can't do it. He won't.
Working late in the conference room of the DA's office, McCoy tells Ross he's taken stronger cases to trial. Ross thinks it would help if they could tell a jury what turned Terry into an arsonist. "He was angry at his father," says McCoy. "That's an emotion I can understand." He observes that a nanny suspected drugs; it would be nice if they could prove it. Ross has checked medical records, school records -- nothing. She can't find any friends, or anyone at his school to say anything bad about him. McCoy remarks that they're afraid of losing an endowment. Other schools Terry attended won't talk to Ross, either. Perusing a yearbook, McCoy says Terry looked pretty harmless in a jacket and tie. "You all do," says Ross, wryly. McCoy spots a counselor; if Terry was doing drugs, maybe she'll know about it.
On Tuesday, November 19, Ross talks to the counselor In the library of Bernard Elementary on 252 West 88th. The counselor says drugs weren't Terry's problem. She's not sure exactly what was, but his behavior was "something else." He could be charming one week and an absolute monster the next. He ran for student president of the middle school, then withdrew a week before the election, claiming the other candidates were sabotaging his campaign. He said he could hear them whispering through the walls.
In McCoy's office, psychiatrist Emil Skoda asks the EADA if he's expected to make a diagnosis on the basis of an amateur's observations. McCoy says yes, and jokingly asks if Skoda has a problem with that. Skoda deduces that Terry Anderton can't relate to others, has a low tolerance for frustration, is unpredictable. "So far that's my kid," he adds. The fear and suspicion, the whispering through the walls, sounds like the early stages of bipolar disorder. "Alternating cycles of depression and mania." Periods of feeling better than normal then, suddenly, irritability and aggression and feelings of persecution. He reminds McCoy that this is a third-hand diagnosis. But it could explain why the kid's a firebug. Ross wonders why, if Terry is crazy, his lawyer isn't going for an insanity defense.
McCoy and Ross confer with Carl Anderton and his attorney, Weaver, at the former's home. Weaver scoffs at the idea that Terry has bipolar disorder and suggests that McCoy needs his head examined. McCoy tells Anderton he doesn't want to prosecute Terry if he has a mental disease. Anderton insists that there is nothing wrong with his grandson. McCoy suggests that they let his psychiatrist examine Terry, off the record, but Weaver nixes that idea. Ross tells Anderton his grandson needs treatment, not prison. "Sir, your grandson killed that little girl," McCoy tells Anderton. "Either in prison or a psychiatric hospital, he's going to answer for it." Anderton replies that in the end his grandson will be coming home with him. McCoy informs Weaver that he is moving for a 730 exam.
In the hallways of the Criminal Courts Building, McCoy and Weaver consult with Judge Jane Simons. When Simons suggests that the defendant's best interests are served by counsel, McCoy replies that his counsel is refusing to acknowledge the obvious. Weaver scoffs; his client hasn't been "howling at the moon or ripping his hair out -- he's not crazy." A 730 exam is a pointless proceeding that could only be to his client's detriment. Judge Simons decides to question Terry herself, in chambers; if his condition is so obvious she'll be able to determine it. McCoy wants Skoda to observe. Weaver is opposed, but Simons allows it.
In the judge's chambers, Simons questions Terry, who acknowledges that he understands what's going on, that he's scared, and that he has been playing a lot of Nintendo at home since he can't do much rollerblading while wearing the monitoring device on his ankle. Simons excuses him, and tells McCoy that Terry seems like a normal teenager. Skoda remarks that he would have asked different questions. McCoy starts to elaborate on Skoda's point, but Simons cuts him short; she's satisfied that the defendant is of sound mind, and denies McCoy's motion for a 730 exam.
Outside the Criminal Courts Building, McCoy and Ross accompany Skoda while the latter pauses at a street vendor's to buy a pretzel. Ross doesn't understand why the defense didn't jump at a chance for an exam. McCoy tells her they think they'll win, and Ross opines that they're probably right. "If they won't use his mental state to get him acquitted,fine," says McCoy, "we'll use it to convict him." Ross doesn't think Terry belongs in prison if he has a mental disease.
On Monday, December 15, in Supreme Court Part 64, McCoy is questioning Sandra Lawlor, who testifies that after Dee Dee was born Terry became aggressive with her, to the point that she told her husband she didn't want Terry around her, out of fear for Dee Dee's safety. They cut Terry's visits to just weekends, when she could be present. After the fire, she didn't tell the police about it because Roy had said the fire was his fault. Under cross, Lawlor admits that no one else saw Terry be aggressive towards Dee Dee. McCoy objects when Weaver asks her if she drinks. Judge Simons overrules the objection when Weaver argues it goes to credibility. Sandra admits that she does, and also admits that on two occasions neighbors had to call the police on two occasions when a fight between her and her husband became severe. Weaver claims that it was Terry's grandfather that curtailed his visits because of the violent environment at the Lawlor home. McCoy objects that Weaver is testifying, and Simons sustains.
The Bernard Elementary counselor testifies that Terry told her he was being persecuted, during which Carl Anderton, seated directly behind the defense table, speaks in an animated way to Weaver, who objects that the testimony is hearsay. McCoy explains that the testimony is offered merely to demonstrate the defendant's state of mind, and Simons overrules the objection. Anderton angrily whispers to Weaver, who asks to approach the bench. Weaver complains that the counselor is not accredited by any school of psychology or psychiatry; McCoy points out that she's not being asked for a professional diagnosis, but rather merely to describe observed behavior. Weaver then argues that anything Terry told the counselor was privileged. McCoy says he can't have it both ways. "Either she's a qualified mental health practitioner or she isn't." Simons agrees. The counselor testifies that Terry told her he could hear the other kids whispering about him through the walls. At Anderton's urging, Weaver requests a recess to consult with the district attorney.
Outside the courthouse, Anderton and Weaver confront McCoy and Ross, while police hold back the press. Weaver says they'll agree to second-degree manslaughter; Anderton claims the fire was an accident, without premeditation. McCoy can't believe Anderton would let his grandson go to jail. Ross says Terry needs psychiatric help. "Absolutely not," says Anderton. His grandson is being offered a chance to stay in a "looney bin." He steps closer to McCoy, and claims he knows what this is all about. "You're going after my grandson to embarrass me....I know your type. You think to bring down a man who has accomplished something in life can build you up." If McCoy turns down his offer he'll go public, and expose McCoy for "vindictive, envious, little man that you really are." as Anderton walks away, besieged by the press, McCoy tells Weaver to inform Anderton they'll consider his offer. McCoy suggests to Ross that Carl Anderton fits what Skoda said about bipolar disorder -- charming one minute, aggressive and paranoid the next. "Like grandfather, like grandson?" asks Ross. McCoy tells her to dig up everything she can on Anderton.
In Adam Schiff's office, Ross reports to the DA and McCoy that 1951 Anderton was pulled out of Andover in the middle of the year and spent the rest of the year in Austin Riggs -- "the Boystown of the rich and famous." Schiff says Anderton was always high-spirited. Ross announces that she checked his press clippings for the past thirty years and found unexplained absences. He abruptly curtailed a takeover bid and accused a company's stockholders of conspiring against him. He exhibits classic manic-depressive behavior. Schiff points out Anderton runs a Fortune 500 company. McCoy remarks that Howard Hughes did, too. Schiff says he doesn't want Anderton humiliated. McCoy complains that Anderton is standing between his grandson and an appropriate disposition. Schiff suggests getting his daughter to intercede.
McCoy and Ross meet Elaine Anderton Lawlor in a park. She insists that if her father thought Terry was sick he would try to get the boy help. Unless, says McCoy, the mental illness could be traced back to him. Elaine replies that her father is a public figure -- if something was wrong with him people would have noticed. McCoy recites media descriptions of Carl Anderton -- colorful, eccentric, mercurial, unpredictable. "To a psychiatrist it's a code for unstable." He asks if she knew Anderton was willing to have Terry plead to manslaughter in the second degree. The prosecution doesn't want him to go to prison but to a psychiatric facility where he can get help. Elaine then admits that Anderton is Terry's guardian. She has no authority.
Accompanied by Weaver, Anderton arrives in the conference room of the DA's office to find Schiff and McCoy present with Elaine. He asks what his daughter is doing there; McCoy says he invited her -- "on the off chance that someone in your family would act in your grandson's best interest." Weaver asks about their offer and McCoy says the choice is Man One or not guilty by reason of mental disease. Anderton angrily insists Terry doesn't belong in a hospital. Elaine speaks up -- her son needs help. He tells her to wait outside. She won't leave. Anderton says what she thinks doesn't matter; he is Terry's guardian. McCoy tells him that can change. Schiff says they will petition to have Elaine made Terry's guardian -- on the basis of Anderton's mental competency. The DA mentions Anderton's stay at Austin Riggs, the private tutors, the hospitals. Anderton says he was exhausted. Schiff warns him that once the process is started everyone will know. "They finally got to you, didn't they, Adam?" asks Anderton. "After all these years." The newspapers, the networks, have used this accusation before. If Schiff goes through with this, he shouts, it will never stop. He sinks into a chair at the table. Elaine gets up to stand behind him, a hand on his shoulder. Anderton begs Schiff not to "let them do this to me."
On Monday, January 5, in Supreme Court Part 64, Terry testifies that he thought his stepsister had a demon inside her, and that had something to do with why his father was an alcoholic. He thought that a fire would scare the demon out; he'd read that Native Americans used fire to purify the innocent. He wanted his dad to stop drinking. He admits he told his grandfather about the fire, and Anderton had warned him not to talk to anyone else and that he wouldn't get into trouble. McCoy tells Judge Simons that The People are satisfied. The judge remands Terence Lawlor to a secure facility to be designated by the Commissioner of Mental Hygiene until such time as a panel of doctors determine he is no longer a danger to himself or to society. Sitting behind him, Carl Anderton quietly breaks down.
In the DA's office, at night....McCoy and Schiff are on their way out, and McCoy tells the DA he's sorry about his friend. "Save your sympathy," says Schiff. "We haven't heard the last of him." McCoy observes that living with such a secret for so many years must have taken enormous willpower on Anderton's part. Schiff recalls that whenever Carl Anderton did something bold, the op-ed pundits would call him crazy. "And Carl would just smile."

[Summary by Jason Manning, September 2002]