Law & Order recap: A murder trial with no body?

Law & Order
Jack McCoy (Sam Waterston) discusses a case with Price (Hugh Dancy) and Maroun (Odelya Halevi) on Law & Order Season 21. Pic credit: NBC

“True crime” can have real consequences. 

Right after handling a case based on Elizabeth Holmes, Law & Order tackled one inspired by the Gabby Pietito case

But without an actual body, the prosecutors had their hands full bringing about a verdict in Filtered Life. 

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A missing tourist sparks a search

An elderly couple complaining about “these kids today” found a pack of trash on the ground only to realize there was blood leading to a car. Called in, Bernard and Cosgrove were told the van belonged to Amanda Larson, who’d been living in it since coming to New York a few days earlier. 

There were signs of a struggle with Amanda’s friend telling of them being at a spa the day before and no idea who Amanda hung out with in New York. She stated Amanda had a vlog posting videos of her life living in a van with over 2 million followers.

The timeline showed Amanda had been at a party the night before but nothing before her vanishing. They talked to the party owner who admitted using Amanda for the publicity and hung out with Toby Crawford (Joseph Cannon) and Megan Walsh (Isabelle McCalla), who ran their own food vlog.

Megan claimed she had stayed home that night while Toby didn’t come home until early in the morning. He said the last time he’d seen Amanda, she was at a train station. However, in interrogation, Cosgrove showed photos of Amanda at an ATM across the street from Toby’s apartment. 

Megan stated that she and Toby had actually broken up but kept up appearances for their vlog. Dixon revealed the blood on the scene belonged to a drug dealer named Joseph Denzig (Kenneth Browning). 

Denzig had a cut on his arm, which he claimed was falling off a fence. They found Amanda’s driver’s license in his closet to arrest him. He claimed to see a man dragging Amanda into a truck and just took her purse. 

Looking at Amanda’s last video, the cops saw a van matching that description following her around. They also saw a man popping up in the video with Cosgrove noting Amanda led her stalker to him, which annoyed Dixon. Cosgrove defended himself on “this is why my kids don’t have social media accounts.”

A murder trial with no body

Amanda’s mother, Valerie (Molly Lloyd) was thanking some of Amanda’s followers for helping with the search. The cops talked to one of them who related Amanda had been flirting at a bar with Daniel Garrett, a man claiming to be a rich “nice guy” but actually living with his mother. 

The cops learned Garrett had driven his car near a park which made a great dumping spot. They saw the truck with Garrett (Chrisitan Mallen) trying to run only to be caught. 

In interrogation, Cosgrove seemed ready to rip Garrett’s head off before he lawyered up. Dixon wanted to charge him with murder, but Maroun said they didn’t have enough for even a kidnapping case. 

Price agreed with her as the evidence was flimsy since they couldn’t even find a body. McCoy told them to use what they had as “it’s a hell of a lot better than the alternative.”

At the arraignment, Garrett pled not guilty with his lawyer, Erika Knight (Marsha Stephanie Blake), pushing a motion to dismiss and suggesting this whole thing was a massive publicity stunt by Amanda. Maroun pointed out all it took was one juror believing it to cause a mistrial and finding a jury with no beliefs on social media was impossible. 

They figured Garrett had tried this scam on other women, and six were willing to testify about his lies. Garrett would lash out after each ended the relationship, including physical abuse. However, the judge denied the motion to testify.

Just as they left the court, a post came of Amanda living it up in Mexico. Price figured the feed was hacked with a fake post, but the press was already asking if he was going to drop the charges. 

Is she dead or alive?

Valerie testified there was no way her daughter would do this, especially without telling her. Amanda had missed her grandfather’s birthday, which was out of character.

Knight once more pressed this was a publicity stunt and brought up Amanda photoshopping images of fake trips. Valerie snapped that her daughter was a good person and tearfully begged Garrett to tell her where the body was. 

Garrett decided to take the stand, claiming Amanda was a party girl using him. Price brought up Garrett’s history of fake dating bios to woo women, and he was a flat-out liar. He pressed on Garrett’s items for burying a body before the judge cut him off. 

A woman named Lisa (Sarah Jo Provost) had been following the case and discovered Amanda’s shoe at a cabin where Garrett had once tried to bring her. But the fact she broke into the place didn’t make the case any better. 

As Price feared, Knight took Lisa apart on the stand, bringing up Garrett’s claims she once turned him down and Lisa publicizing her own blog. Knight then suggested if “hypothetically” Garrett led them to the body, he could get a reduced sentence. 

Price pressed they could get a guilty verdict, but Valerie wanted closure with Amanda’s body. McCoy pointed out that Garrett would be 39 when he got out with the deal and thus “enough time to victimize more women” and pressed Price to wrap it up.

Price’s summation brought up the obsession with true-crime stories, which turned a family’s tragedy into entertainment. He pressed the jury to remember “verdict” meant “speak the truth,” and the jury had to do that. 

The jury came back with a guilty verdict. While Price felt they did their job, Maroun wasn’t sure Amanda’s sobbing parents would agree. 

It was a challenging case for Price with the reminder of how a victim’s loved ones often suffer more. 

Law & Order Season 21 airs Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC.

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