Prosecutors have trouble making a case against a father accused of injecting his son with deadly bacteria, so Jack is forced to play hardball with the bio-supplier that may have supplied him with it.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Aaron Downing
Jack Gilpin ...
Theresa Copeland
Dennis Creaghan ...
Downing's Attorney
John Berg ...
Dr. Zev Weiss
John Ramsey ...
Paula Downing


When a 5 year-old Ryan Downing dies from exposure to a rare bacteria, VRSA, the police don't know if they're dealing with a one off incident or a planned attack. They first focus on the on the Downing's nanny, but she is quickly cleared. The medical examiner thinks the boy was likely injected with VRSA - she finds a small puncture mark - and when a junkie named Clarence dies of the same disease, his needles indicate they were used on the Downing boy. The boy's father Aaron was having an affair with a co-worker Theresa Copeland and becomes their prime suspect. In order to get the evidence to convict however, ADA McCoy has to lean on the company that likely sold him the bacteria in the first place. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

21 October 1998 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Detective Rey Curtis: [referring to Aaron Downing] Killing his kid? I don't believe it.
Jack McCoy: You don't have to believe it; just prove it!
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References The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1956) See more »

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User Reviews

28 April 2017 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

One of the reasons this show is -- or was -- so enjoyable is that it's not only entertaining, as in, "Will they catch the guy and pin it on him?" It's informative too. A viewer not only learns about the law. I mean, how else are you going to learn what the hell a "writ of mandamus" is? It also brings up ethical issues, moral as well as legal.

Por ejemplo: A medical supply company sells a deadly toxin to a murderer's fake address. The murderer uses it to inject into his young son to spare him the horrors of growing up, thus killing the little kid. When queried by the agents of social control, the supply company conveniently loses the evidence of the sale.

So who is responsible? The father who did the killing? Does it make a difference if he did it to relieve his son of a burdensome life? The company that failed to vett the buyer and is trying to elude persecution? What's the distinction between using a lethal virus to kill someone and running over a target deliberately with a car? Does GM bear any responsibility for the death? Are gun manufacturers guilty of anything if one of their pistols is used in a murder? What about the manufacturers of the box the virus was sent in? Or how about the U.S. Postal Service for delivering it? As usual, the program raises issues like this and then deftly dodges them, maybe because the answers are too complicated, or maybe because there are no clear answers.

In any case, McCoy is an skillful ADA and he and the detectives manage to nail both parties legally even if by tricky means. There's no real doubt about the father's immorality. He was cheating on his wife, cheating on his mistress, and was about to take a flight to Fiji and open a restaurant with embezzled money.

He was despondent because he was no more than a number cruncher at an insurance company and was determined to begin an entirely new life in the South Pacific. The life he'd led so far wasn't one he wanted his son to enjoy.

The medical supply company gets a fine equal to five years' profits, as befits their greater moral distance from the filicide.

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