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Law & Order: LA

Big Rock Mesa
Episode 1.16 - May 23, 2011

Lee Tergesen plays Patrick Denton in this episode of the most recent iteration of the "Law & Order" franchise.

The episode opens against the backdrop of a large wildfire in Malibu. The fire turns out to be arson, set to cover up a homicide. Two homeless people and a volunteer from a shelter were found dead at the scene. The volunteer -- who is also a law student -- has a bullet in his head.

Denton is one of the homeowners in the area affected by the fire, but his house is mostly unharmed. He and his neighbors have had run-ins with the homeless people who live in camps around the area.

Detectives determine that Denton's garage is the scene where the man was shot and killed, and Denton is arrested. The arrests of two neighbors follow, and prosecution begins on charges of manslaughter. However, the charges escalate to murder as it is revealed that the homeowners were the subject of a lawsuit, which was being led by the murdered law student.

The lawsuit claimed the homeowners were irresponsible in building their houses in such a high-risk area and wasting taxpayer resources when firefighters have to try to save their homes.

In court, the arguments play on the jury's fears and prejudices about homeless people. The defense successfully makes the case that the "innocent" homeowners were merely defending their homes against scary, threatening homeless people.

Lee has some compelling scenes in the courtroom, conveying his emotions convincingly and effectively.

The lead detectives in "Law & Order: LA" are played by Alfred Molina and Corey Stoll, who appeared with Lee in "Helena from the Wedding."


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