Is it okay to frame someone you know is guilty?
The hunt for a possible serial killer had Cosgrove reaching out for help from an old friend. This was needed when the suspect’s fame could influence the jury.
However, Cosgrove was put in a tough spot when that friend crossed a line that could jeopardize the case.
While justice seemed to be done, Cosgrove may have lost an old buddy trying to step up for what was right.
This made Benefit Of The Doubt a tricky case, with Cosgrove not sure in the end if he truly did the right thing.
The hunt for a killer begins
At home, Cosgrove saw off his daughter Lily, still worried about her as she got in a carpool with friends. He was then interrupted by a phone call.
Arriving at a park, Cosgrove and Shaw saw a woman bound and her mouth taped over. Cosgrove chastised a patrolwoman for moving a bag. It contained a book by the victim, Christina Watkins.
Watkins had published a memoir of working at a racy restaurant with few clues as to who stabbed her. She had left a message for roommate Scott Baker, who enjoyed showing off his ax collection.
Baker was shocked, claiming his innocence as he had been working. He shared Christina had been attending a party celebrating her book. A waitress said there had been a fuss between Christina and someone outside.
They talked to a witness, actor Niles Harper (Corey Cott) who said he’d seen the altercation, but the guy walked off. He admitted the guy was chef Victor Bernini (Jeremy Crutchley) a friend of his.
The cops headed to Bernini’s home, where an attractive woman said he’d blown her off on a date and hadn’t been home all night. She also said Bernini had been pretty upset about something.
With a record for DUI arrests, Bernini was known for his temper and had been forced out of his own restaurant and bankrupted after Christina’s book talked about his antics.
An alert went out about Bernini, who was holding the restaurant manager with a knife. The detectives headed there to find Bernini frantic but managed to talk him into surrendering.
Checked out at the hospital for drug use, Bernini denied killing Christina. Cosgrove pointed out the guy was so high he might not remember. As it turned out, Bernini was on video at a club at the time of the murder.
The M.E. said Christina had burn marks, indicating she’d been tortured. She’d also been heavily drugged, and the M.O. matched a murder she’d seen years before.
Cosgrove went to his old friend, Jerry Ryan (John Bedford Lloyd), a veteran detective and Lily’s godfather. He shared how several women were killed by the same method, not just in the U.S. but in London. He’d been tracking this for some time and even sketches of a suspect.
Shaw warned that not all the cases had the same details and that Ryan might be reaching. Cosgrove pointed out the victims looked alike and that the killer might be escalating and moving up the social ladder as he improved his skills. Shaw was convinced when he realized someone in a black Tesla was present at each killing.
They found a video of a Tesla, which was registered to none other than Niles Harper.
They talked to Ryan, who shared how most of the killings coincided with Harper’s acting jobs. A photo of a suspect at one scene had the same wrist tattoo Harper had.
A murderous actor?
Ryan joined Cosgrove and Shaw talking to Harper, who slipped by saying he gave Christina a ride to the subway. Ryan went to Harper’s car.
Harper refused to let them search it, only for Ryan to yell he saw blood. He then searched to find the missing earring from Christina’s body.
Harper’s lawyer, Rachel Hunt (Romy Rosemont), was with him as Ryan told the cops he and Christina fooled around, and it got rough. Dixon entered to relay that they found some of Christina’s hair in Harper’s apartment to have him arrested.
With reporters at the arraignment, Hunt argued Harper had an alibi of being with his girlfriend Megan (Angela Jeanneau). Maroun talked to Megan, who refused to break that alibi, even after seeing photos of what her boyfriend had done to women.
Price was worried Harper’s celebrity would affect the jury. Maroun related the judge had denied using Harper’s alleged price crimes, meaning the case could only be about Christina.
Just as Price was talking about the case being strong, he got a notice Hunt was trying to get the search of the car suppressed.
Hunt said the search was illegal, as was the one on Harper’s home and the judge agreed, costing Price a key part of the case.
Ryan was ticked, but Price snapped this was his fault for doing a search as he knew there was no blood in the car.
The cops checked out the area to find a local talking about the old warehouses being fixed up. Shaw remembered how Harper had been investing in local neighborhoods to make himself look good.
Did a cop bend the rules too much?
Price told the jury that the Harper they saw on screen was not the same man on trial. Hunt fired back that the case was “An illusion” and openly accused the cops of misconduct.
Cosgrove talked to Christina’s mother, who brought up how she and Ryan had talked about the case. Cosgrove got an awful feeling when she mentioned Jerry being over there.
Cosgrove and Ryan talked at a bar, with Cosgrove knowing Ryan had planted the necklace at the scene. However, Ryan refused to confirm it before leaving as Cosgrove was concerned over his friend’s actions.
Ryan testified to finding the necklace. Hunt brought up Ryan’s known ego, which he admitted to, and it was thus odd he would let Cosgrove be credited for finding it. She flat-out accused Ryan of planting the evidence, which he denied under oath.
He admitted to hating Harper for his crimes, but “I do it the right way.” But the fact Christina wasn’t wearing the necklace the night of the murder hurt his testimony.
Shaw hissed to Cosgrove, “If you’ve got something to tell me, tell me now.” Cosgrove simply replied, “We got our man. That’s all you need to know.”
The jury found Harper guilty.
Cosgrove came home to find Ryan staying for dinner with a celebratory bottle of liquor.
Cosgrove refused it, telling his old friend to leave. Ryan honestly didn’t seem to understand why Cosgrove was so upset as he left with Cosgrove shaken, realizing how he’d crossed the line.
While the case was intriguing, it was Cosgrove’s battle with his ethics and an old friend that made this episode gripping.
Law & Order Season 22 airs Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC.More: Law & Order