Too often, a past mistake comes back to haunt you.
The murder of a famous designer had the cops pulling a thread leading to a low-level crook who had graduated to murder.
But this open-and-shut case hit a snag when it turned out ADA Maroun had a connection to the criminal’s past.
That had Maroun worried that her past error not only cost a man his life but might ruin this current case.
This made Vicious Cycle a tricky case for the ADAs, showing how the past can haunt in surprising ways.
A less than fashionable crime
At a New York boutique, fashion designer Perry Sutton (Terrance Eugene Murphy) was showing off his latest collection. He talked of the high crime rate, anger, and violence but also indicated, “I believe in New York.” He added he wouldn’t let any punks push him around.
It cut to Sutton lying dead in front of the store as Cosgrove and Shaw checked out the scene. Shaw showed he was wearing one of Sutton’s jackets with Cosgrove cracking, “I guess that makes you the fashion police.”
There were little clues as the cops checked out the boutique. Naturally, his employees were jarred, with one claiming he got into an argument with a woman at the party.
The woman was a rival store owner who blamed Sutton for her going out of business. She ended up getting a job offer from Sutton, who also shared an ex-girlfriend was stalking him.
The detectives tracked down the woman, Sophia, who nearly pulled a gun on them. They arrested her as it was the same type of revolver that killed Sutton.
Sophia claimed she bought the gun for protection from a crazed fan. She said she liked Sutton and even gave him a watch as a breakup gift that wasn’t on Sutton when he was killed.
Sophia’s alibi checked out, and Dixon wondered if this was a regular robbery. The watch had a GPS inside it, with the cops tracking it to a warehouse. A man tried to run before being arrested.
They found the watch among the many random items as Eddie Wells (Brian D. Coats) would sell stolen items to people in the neighborhood. He claimed to have just bought the bag with the watch and knew nothing of a murder.
Maroun and Eddie’s lawyer, Marcus Wallace (J. Bernard Calloway), bickered for a bit with Wallace playing the race card before Dixon threw him out. Cosgrove pointed out Eddie was into low-cost items, not an expensive watch, meaning one of his guys stole it.
Tracking the crook but a complication
They staked out the warehouse with one of Eddie’s “employees” showing up. He tried to run but was swiftly arrested. The crook, Eriq Gwynn (Garrett Richmond), held he was doing the world a favor robbing from richer stores but knew nothing of a watch.
All the items had been stolen from a local pharmacy whose owner reported getting into a fight with a robber the other night. They saw a video of Sutton confronting the shoplifter and chasing him out.
The crook was identified as Nick Castillo (Eric Keji Santiago), whose rap sheet ran 15 pages. They checked in on his place only to learn Castillo had been shot. They arrested him at the hospital.
The judge ordered Casillo held over as his lawyer, Lara Vega (Liza Colon-Zayas), argued that bringing in his long criminal career would affect the jury, which the judge agreed with.
Price was confident of a strong case but thrown by Vega actually objecting to his opening statement and even moving for a mistrial on the spot before the judge shut her down.
Vega seemed to be arguing Castillo acted in self-defense even though Sutton wasn’t known to carry a gun. McCoy wanted them to look into it deeper to make sure there were no problems.
Maroun and the cops looked into Castillo’s past arrests as Shaw mused on some low-level crooks treated far worse in jail. Shaw suddenly found one file showing Maroun had arraigned Castillo 10 months earlier on a larceny charge, which she didn’t even remember.
Maroun’s past mistake haunts her
Maroun met Jasmine, the robbery victim, and was struck by her saying Castillo had used a gun on her. Maroun had never followed up on it and was now worried that she missed a chance to have Castillo locked up on the gun charge and, thus, not have a chance to kill Sutton.
Maroun and Price were surprised Vega didn’t cross-examine Jasmine on the stand about Castillo robbing her. That’s because she served Maroun with a subpoena to testify for the defense.
Price argued this was all a distraction, but the judge allowed it to go through. Maroun was forced to admit that Jasmine never specifically said Castillo had a gun, and Vega accused her of perjury.
Price pointed out the hundreds of cases Maroun handled at the time and that her success rate was much better than one mistake. She had to smile at realizing he was making her feel better.
Maroun found McCoy waiting in her office and wondered if she was about to be fired. McCoy told her to find a way to get proof on Castillo. She quickly went through some records to find an opening.
Gwynn testified under immunity that Wells had given all of his thieves a gun as protection during their robberies, including Castillo. The jury found him guilty.
Price found Maroun working in her office to tell her he did a good job, but she was still blaming herself, saying if she’d done her job, Sutton would still be alive. Price just let her muse on it as he walked off.
It was a tough situation for Maroun to see how her past actions could affect a case and have her deal with her guilt in the future.
Law & Order Season 22 airs Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC.