Presumed Innocent – S01E06 – The Elements | Transcript

The trial begins. Startling events inside the courtroom threaten to derail proceedings.
Presumed Innocent - S01E06 - The Elements

Presumed Innocent
Season 1 – Episode 6
Episode title: The Elements
Original realease date: July 9, 2024
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ruth Negga, Bill Camp, Elizabeth Marvel, Peter Sarsgaard, O-T Fagbenle, Tate Birchmore, Renate Reinsve, Chase Infiniti, Lily Rabe, Nana Mensah, Kingston Rumi Southwick, Matthew Alan

Plot: The trial begins. Startling events inside the courtroom threaten to derail proceedings.

* * *

[reporters speaking, distorted]

[reporter 1] Was it, uh, Mr. Sabich’s pattern…

[reporter 2] As day two of the trial begins, the courtroom remains abuzz with anticipation.

[reporter 3] The prosecution’s strong start has set the stage for a riveting legal battle.

[reporter 4] Molto’s opening statement was nothing short of compelling.

With a commanding presence and unwavering conviction, he set the stage…

[reporter 2] …beyond a reasonable doubt.

[reporter 5] Tommy Molto delivered an impassioned opening statement that resonated with both the jury and the public.

[reporter 3] …going head-to-head against renowned defense attorney Raymond Horgan.

[reporter 2] …or will Tommy Molto’s captivating opening statement continue to resonate, securing what appears to be a solid foundation for the prosecution’s case?

Oh, you’re a fucking asshole!

[Tommy] Doctor, can you describe what we’re seeing here?

[Kumagai] The blunt force wounds that resulted in the death of the victim,

Carolyn Polhemus.

Struck three times by a thin, heavy object resulting in laceration of the scalp,

severe contusions, skull fractures, brain herniation.

[Tommy] Herniation?

Cranial pressure forced sections of her brain to shift, seek an exit.

So that’s her brain seeping through the fractures?

[Kumagai] Correct. What the photos don’t show is that it also pushed through the foramen magnum.

That’s where the spine enters the base of the skull.

[Tommy] And this was the cause of death?

It would have been, but she bled to death before the herniation could kill her.

What was the estimated time of death?

[Kumagai] Body temperature and stages of rigor and livor mortis put it between 10 p.m. and midnight.

And the markings on her face?

[Kumagai] They indicate a fall.

She was struck once on the back of the head, falling face forward, breaking her nose, thus the markings under her eyes and on her cheeks.

She was then struck two more times in the back of the skull.

The contusion on her face occurred while she was still alive.

The fatal blows came after.

Is there any evidence that she tried to defend herself?

[Kumagai] There were no conclusive defensive wounds.

Traces of the defendant’s skin were determined to be present under one of the victim’s fingernails.

Is it possible she scratched him as she was trying to defend herself?

[Kumagai] It’s possible. More likely, she never saw it coming.

[Tommy] And you stated that the blow didn’t kill her, that she lay there, bleeding out?

[Kumagai] Yes, sir.

She suffered.

[Raymond] Leading.

Did she suffer?

I cannot conclude that.

She was most likely unconscious from the blows to the skull.

Can you rule out that she was conscious, that she suffered?

[Kumagai] I cannot rule that out, no.

[Tommy] Doctor, do you have any other findings

in regard to Ms. Polhemus?

Yes. She was six weeks pregnant at the time she was killed.

[Tommy] Your Honor, at this time,

I would enter the parties’ joint stipulation as to the DNA analysis,

which confirms the defendant’s paternity.

[Laryn] So noted.

So the defendant impregnated the victim?

[Kumagai] Yes, he did.

[Tommy] That’s all I have.

[Laryn] Mr. Horgan.

Uh, the defense will not be challenging this witness, Your Honor.

Dr. Kumagai…

Actually, I’m old and I…

[chuckles] …better make sure that I didn’t miss anything.

You said, “A thin, heavy object.”

As I understand it,

you make no findings as to who swung this thin, heavy object.

In fact, they don’t even suggest it.

[Kumagai] Correct.

[Raymond] You make no medical determinations

as to who killed Carolyn Polhemus.

I can only state with an absolute certainty

that this was a homicide.

[Raymond] Uh-huh.

And no thin, heavy object or murder weapon of any kind has been recovered?


Thank you.

Mr. Molto. Redirect?

Do not.

We got what we needed. Move… [stammers]

Doctor, after you completed the autopsy,

did you have chance to encounter the defendant?

Yes, he came to our office and aggressively demanded to see the body.

Is that typical, for a district attorney to show up like that?

It’s been known to happen, but it’s certainly not routine.

Did Mr. Sabich have a pattern of showing up to view victims?

[Kumagai] No.

Did Mr. Sabich ever show up

to personally view a homicide victim?

[Kumagai] Never.

[Tommy] But he showed up on this day. What was his demeanor?

He was agitated, erratic, even scared.

[Tommy] Scared?

Which I didn’t understand then.

But you do now?

My sense, he didn’t want to just know my findings,

it was as if he was scared of them.

There was something off about him.

That’s all I have.

Doctor, do you have any psychological foundation to render behavioral diagnosis

when it comes to agitation, fright or…


I have a history with the defendant,

one that allows me to form lay opinions based on his behavior,

and he was acting out of the ordinary.

You have a history with him. Are you two friends?

[Kumagai] Colleagues, not friends.

Not friends. In fact, you consider my client to be an asshole.


[Raymond] Offered to show bias.

I’ll allow it.

Uh, things get heated sometimes, and I do regret calling him that.

You don’t have any bias, say, against district attorneys?

[Kumagai] Of course not. That’s preposterous.

You ever call me an asshole?


Your Honor, if there is prejudice at play here…

Short leash.


Uh, you and I have gotten into it a few times as well.

I mean, it happens in our line of work.

It is a very contentious, high-pressure process

and sometimes we decompress by blowing off some steam.

But I certainly do not have a bias against prosecutors,

and I take extreme offense to that.

Did you ever call Tommy Molto an asshole?


No more than you.

[Laryn] Dr. Kumagai.

[Kumagai] Maybe this is why you didn’t get reelected.


[Kumagai] Don’t quit your day job.

Oh, no, that’s right. You got fired,

right? Yeah.

[Laryn] Dr. Kumagai.

[officer] We’ve got to go. Head down.

[reporters clamoring]

[shutters clicking]

[officer 2] Copy. He’s in the car.

[clamoring continues]

[Nico] We had what we needed. We had it, but you couldn’t let it sit.

That’s what I said… I told you. Just get Kumagai up there,

and, uh, get him to establish the time and cause of death

and the paternity of the baby.

Ah, but you couldn’t just leave it there.

And now we have an ME that comes across as an aggrieved,

grudge-bearing “dis-grunt.”

It was important testimony.

The Rusty Sabich that everyone knows and loves wouldn’t have done this,

so we have to establish wherever and whenever possible

that at some point he stopped being that Rusty Sabich.

It was a net win.

I’m gonna call this a net fucking loss.

It’s a circumstantial case that’s gonna be built on bits and pieces,

the tiniest and smallest of increments.

Kumagai is just the first piece.

Rusty Sabich was unhinged, other.

The skin under Carolyn’s fingernail wasn’t in the initial report.

FSC is backlogged.

Kumagai just took a little longer with that part of the analysis.

The forensic pathologist, he figures to be a lot tougher.

Jeremy Buck.

He’s probably the best. He was always my go-to. Yours too, Rusty.

He’s as precise as he is graphic,

so we think it’s best if neither of you actually look at the photographs.

Just straight forward, neutral, numb. Okay?

Can we talk about body language for a sec?

What about it?

[Raymond] Well… [sighs] we didn’t love what we saw today.

You guys need to look together.

The jury’s going to be taking cues from you,

and they need to see “I love him. I believe in him” at every turn.

[Raymond] And if the media, they swarm again like they did today,

maybe, Rusty, you could put your arm around Barbara and shield her.



we want the jury to believe that he’s my protector.

Yeah, in a sense. In that situation.

Raymond, I…

can’t claim to know your job,

but I think insulting the jury’s intelligence

is not the best path.

What they’re likely to see on my face is going to be shock.

My husband’s on trial for a gruesome murder.

How could I be anything else but fucking shocked?

Trials often come down to storytelling.

Best version wins.

And you are part of our story here,

and your fury isn’t going to carry the day.

It is very difficult for me to be in that room,

to have to bear witness to all the things that are gonna be said,

all the images depicted.

That I am there at all…

that tells the jury that I believe in my husband’s innocence.

I need to be credible.

But for me to be credible, I need to be truthful.

And that is what I will be in that room.

I will let them see my truth.

That I am horrified, that I am…


that I am repulsed by such depravity,

that I am offended by the mere notion that the father of my children could be…

responsible for such depravity.

This is the darkest hour of my fucking life.

I will not pretend otherwise.

Not for you two. Not for that jury.

[reporters clamoring]

[shutters clicking]

[pathologist] We found skin cells under the fingernails of her right hand,

a DNA match for the defendant.

We also found traces of saliva on the victim’s face

and on the collar of the shirt she had been wearing.

DNA match for the defendant.

Curiously, we found no DNA whatsoever on the rope used to bind the body.

Why do you say “curiously”?

It was fastidious.

The perpetrator was careful not to leave any evidence.

It’s rare to find a scene so bloody and messy,

yet so sterile from an evidentiary standpoint.

[Tommy] What does that tell you?

That great pains were taken to clean up, to cover up.

[Tommy] Based on your nearly 20 years as a forensic pathologist,

what is your opinion about what happened?

My opinion is we had a sudden act of murderous rage…


followed by a very meticulous,

methodical, postmortem act of tying her up.

[Tommy] That’s all I have. Thank you.

Have you ever seen a body tied up like this before?

I had a homicide case several years ago where the body was bound up

in an eerily similar fashion, yes.

And who was the district attorney in charge of prosecuting that homicide?

{\an8}There were two, Carolyn Polhemus and Rusty Sabich.

{\an8}And the killer in that case, his name is Liam Reynolds.

He was convicted.

[pathologist] Correct.

[Raymond] Convicted by the prosecutors

{\an8}Carolyn Polhemus and Rusty Sabich.

[pathologist] Correct.

{\an8}And upon being convicted by Carolyn Polhemus and Rusty Sabich,

{\an8}he threatened to get even with them.

{\an8}Are you aware of this?

[pathologist] I am.

{\an8}[Raymond] Now, I am no expert on the science of getting even, but I suspect

killing one while framing the other…


Would be very…

Sustained. Bring it up here right now.

We discussed this.

This office never really investigated Mr. Reynolds…

They never investigated me, far as I know.

Their burden isn’t to investigate everyone.

They have no duty to prove a negative.

He made a public threat

to Carolyn and Rusty.

Yes, he made a threat…

I thought it important the jury know.

An empty one.

Why I should not have this…

One you will not be milking.

Entered into the record.

Give me something tangible and I’ll let you explore it.

Otherwise, none of your nonsense. Now step back.

Mr. Buck, you’ve been made aware that my client and the deceased

were romantically intimate.

[Mr. Buck] Yes.

[Raymond] And when you say, “skin was found under her fingernails,”

do you mean actual skin, as in pieces of skin,

like he’d been scratched?

No, not visible pieces of skin. Cells.

If I scratched my face like this,

one might find skin cells under my nails?

It’s possible.

So, if Rusty Sabich kissed Carolyn Polhemus, and while kissing,

Carolyn happened to run her fingernails along his neck or on his back,

could that not account for the traces of his saliva found on her

and the DNA found under her fingernails? Is that not possible?

I suppose.

[Raymond] So the DNA you say suggests he killed her,

it could just as easily say and suggest he kissed her.

[spectators whispering]

You do get the distinction?

[keys jingle]

[door closes]



You gotta go. [sighs]

Were you aware that the defendant and Ms. Polhemus were having an affair?

[Eugenia] I became aware, yes.

How’d you become aware?

Well, I had, um, various reasons to suspect.

Um, as for when I actually knew… [stammers]

I needed to drop a file off in Rusty’s office.

It was late. I thought he was gone. He wasn’t.

I walked inside. He was kissing Carolyn. Um…

[Rusty] Yeah?

Uh, I got the, um, Roberts case.


Yeah, yeah.


Thanks. Yeah.

There you go. I will see you tomorrow.

I bolted and, uh, she followed me.

And, um, it was incredibly embarrassing and I… I left.

[Tommy] When was this?

[Eugenia] Last February.

[Tommy] Were there any other incidences that you observed?

[Eugenia] Not overtly sexual, just office gossip.

But, um, I mean, sure, there were undercurrents.

Such as?

Uh, one time in the, um, underground parking lot, I saw them.

They were… I-I think, I don’t know… I think they were arguing.

[Rusty] …together. I don’t know. What?

[Carolyn] Stay away.

[Rusty] But all I’m doing is asking you a question. So if you can just…

That’s it. Fuck’s sake.

[Eugenia] Uh, she was in her car, he was banging on her window,

and she sped off.

[Rusty] Fuck.

[Tommy] Did you have the opportunity to discuss any of this with Mr. Sabich?

I did. [clears throat]

Mm-hmm. What’d you say?

Uh… [exhales deeply]…I told him that I…

that I was worried that he was, um, I don’t know, losing himself.

Losing himself?

[Eugenia] To her.

He, um, was becoming a little undone,


You didn’t approve of this relationship between Mr. Sabich and Ms. Polhemus?

You didn’t approve?

No, I didn’t.

And you didn’t really approve of Carolyn Polhemus, did you?

It’s not about that. It was unprofessional.

You didn’t like Carolyn, did you?

No, I didn’t.

[Mya] Did you ever report your concerns about it being unprofessional to HR?

I did not, no.

And to your knowledge, Ms. Polhemus never made a complaint to HR

about Mr. Sabich?

That’s correct.

To your knowledge, did she ever make a complaint to HR about anyone?



Tommy Molto.

[spectators murmuring]


Do you have any knowledge of me acting unprofessionally or untoward

with respect to Ms. Polhemus?

I have no actual knowledge, no.

And do you have any knowledge about the complaint

that was filed at human resources?

All I know is that she didn’t want to work on any cases with you.

She said that you gave her ick.

[spectators murmuring]

Okay. Did you ever witness me acting unprofessionally toward the victim?

Not really.

[Tommy] How about Rusty Sabich?

Yes. The defendant seemed obsessed, losing himself to her.

That’s your testimony?

That is my testimony.

Thank you so much.


Mmm. Aw.


It’s okay.

I almost feel sorry for him, Tommy.

[Raymond] Mmm. Mmm.

I almost did too…


but then I remembered he’s a fucking cockroach.

You can’t squish him. He keeps coming back.

And he’s made his points.

You’re worried.

Well, if the jury… they… [sighs] sticks with the burden of proof,

I like where we are, but… [sighs]

if they need someone to pin this on, it’ll be Rusty.

[Jaden sniffs]

You okay?

Mmm. You okay?

[breathes deeply]

In my psych class,

we’ve been reading some stuff about trauma and disassociation.

How the brain can protect people from themselves.

Like an involuntary…

detachment from reality.

You ever feel that?

How do you mean?


People can disassociate from their memories.

If it’s…

If they do something that they can’t reconcile with or…

what they perceive themselves to be…

it can cause a disassociation.

My memory is fine.

[treadmill beeps]

[footsteps approaching]

[exhales heavily]

[panting, grunting]

Rusty, I need to talk to you.

[clears throat]


So a… a couple of months ago, um…

uh, around the time I got fired from the gallery,

I started going to a bar in the day. [chuckles]

[clears throat]

And, um…

the bar had a bartender and he…

had a PhD in art.

And so we got talking and, um…

[smacks lips] we actually really connected, and…

we kissed. I kissed him.

But that was all that happened.

[Rusty clears throat]

[clears throat]

[breathes heavily]

[Barbara sighs]

It was… It was… It was just a distraction. It was…

It was just a kiss. [sighs]

Where did it happen?

Um, at his apartment.

I wanted to see his art.

At his apartment?

That’s all.

You wanted to see his…

piece of his art? [chuckles]

Don’t, Rusty.


[Barbara sighs]

Did you fuck him?



Why are you telling me this now?

[stammers] I-I want to be honest with you.

I thought we were being honest with each other.

I’m on trial… for my life.


I know.

You come in every day and you grind me.

You grind me.

“What happened here?” “What happened there?”

“Why didn’t you tell me this about you and her?”

Question after question.

And when I tell you, “I’m just trying to be honest,

I’m just trying to… [breathes shakily]

tell you what happened the best I can remember it.

I… I can’t give you the reasoning all the time,”

you just… You just grind me over and over again.

That is not fair.


It’s not fair? It’s not fair, Barbara? What’s fair?

What’s fair now?

How does it feel?


How’s it feel? To make a fucking mistake?

Fuck’s sake.

Fuck you, Rusty.

Fuck me? Fuck me?

[breathing shakily, stammering]


[Kyle] I’m out.

[Barbara] Are my keys in the kitchen?

Can you clean your bowls, please?

I will.

They’re right here.

Don’t forget your geometry homework.

[Kyle] It’s in my bag.

Are you coming?

No, I’m meeting Lorraine.

And I’m late.


[Barbara] Kyle, you got your lunch?

[Kyle] Yeah.

[door opens, creaks]

[door closes]

I could go. I’m a good seat filler.

Oh, honey. No, that’s all right. I’m… I’m… I’m okay. Really, I’m good.

I’m sorry if I upset you last night.

[Lorraine] Now, why would you tell him?

I don’t know, Lorraine. [sighs]

That was a terrible idea.

I know.

It’s just that lately we’ve… [sighs]

I thought…

I felt we were connecting again.

I felt…


Close and safe.



[sighs] …the whole Clifton thing just suddenly felt so oppressive

and… [inhales deeply]…I needed… I just…


Blurted it out.


And it didn’t go well?


Which is why you are not going to court alone anymore.

I will be there next to you.

I’ll go back, just not today.

Today, they’ve got all the stuff they pulled from his computer and hers.



I don’t think I can sit through that, listening to all his declarations of love…

Oh, God.

Et cetera, et cetera.

You know, the night she was killed, he texted her 30 times?

Oh, my God.

Honestly, I think it’s the most damning part of the whole case.

Thirty times?

And the father has just filed for a protective order,

trying to prevent his son from testifying.

[Nico] You gotta be kidding me.

I’m denying the motion.

But I’m mindful of where he’s coming from.

This day threatens to wreak a lot of emotional havoc

for a kid who’s already had too much.

[Nico] He’s a material witness. So…

[Laryn] Let me finish.

I’d like to spare this family any more unnecessary pain,

whether it’s unnecessary or not.

Now, this case is murder two at best and you know it.

Even your own witness testified that it was likely an unplanned killing.

You’ll never get murder one.

And my instruction won’t help you up that hill.

You walking free strikes me as a bit of a stretch as well.

{\an8}Voluntary manslaughter seems like a good place to land.

Not a chance.


You get a conviction.

You get to resume your life in eight years.

That seems like a bargain.

I’m not accepting any conviction.

A dismissal and an apology is the only thing that I will accept.


Last off-ramp, boys.

Anybody care to blink?

[chuckles] Fine.

You’ll both tread with care with the boy.

[chattering on TV]



Hey, sweetie.

Hey. Hey, sweetie.

You wanna go upstairs to bed?

Run upstairs to bed.



[Rusty] You remember when they were…

they were little and they would sleep, we would watch them for hours.

Angel mode.

Why do you stay?

The same reason… you do. [sighs]

[reporters clamoring]

Michael, you and I met before, where I extended my condolences.

I’d like to do so again now.

Both for the loss of your mother but also for the trauma

of being here in court today.

[clears throat]

It’s a terrible thing we’re asking you to do,

but it’s because a terrible, terrible thing happened to your mother.

Mr. Molto.

I’d like to direct your attention to the night that your mother was murdered.

Can you tell me where you were?

I had dinner at home.

I watched some TV or something. Maybe played video games.

I left the house later and went there.

So just to be clear, you went from the house

where you live with your father, Dalton Caldwell,

and then you said you went there. Where… Where is there?

[Michael] To my mother’s house.

[Tommy] To do what?

[Michael] My mother and I didn’t get along much.

She didn’t want me around.

I was not invited. It caused me some confusion.

And sometimes I would just go to the house to watch.


To see the life that she preferred that I’d not be a part of.

Which I think I’ve explained all of this to you before.

[Tommy] Did you go to your mother’s house a lot?

Every now and then. I don’t know. Like, once or twice a month.

What would you do when you were there?

Mainly, I’d just stare at the house from a distance in the dark

so she wouldn’t see me.

Sometimes I would see people come in. Mostly him.

Note that the witness has indicated the defendant, Rusty Sabich.

I knew what they were doing.


[Laryn] Uh, sustained.

Just answer the questions you’re asked, Michael.

And if at anytime you feel like you need to take a break,

just let me know, okay?


[Laryn] Let’s get to it.

[Tommy] Okay. [inhales sharply]

So you took these videos?

[Michael] Yes.

June 16th.

And can you read the time stamp at the top of the video?

[Michael] Yeah. “9:49 p.m.”

[Tommy] And again, was this the video you took at 9:49 p.m.,

the night your mother was murdered?

[Michael] Yes.

Subsequent to your mother’s death, you texted the defendant?

[Michael] Yes.

What did you text him?

[Michael] I texted him, “You were there. I saw you.”

I saw you what?

At the house when I took that video.

[Tommy] Did you ask to meet with the defendant?

[Michael] Yes.

Why did you ask to meet with him?

Well, because I wanted to look into the eyes of the man who murdered my mother.


[Laryn] Sustained.

So after you asked for the meeting, did you and the defendant in fact meet?

[Michael] Yes.

[Tommy] What did you talk about?

[Michael] He… He asked me why I wanted to meet, and I told him

because I wanted to look into the eyes of the man who murdered my mother.

Objection, Your Honor.

Sustained. The witness is stating his opinion only.

[Tommy] Did you accuse the defendant of murdering your mother?

[Michael] I did.

[Tommy] How did he respond?

He denied it.

But I could see he was lying.

[Raymond] Objection.

[Laryn] Sustained.

Michael, you can state your impressions

but please don’t offer them as facts, okay?


Did you ever have a conversation with your mother about the defendant?

Like I said, we weren’t very close.

She didn’t share much.

But about two weeks before she died,

she told me that she was having some trouble with a man at work.

It was my impression

that it was the same man she was romantically involved with.

[Tommy] Did she say anything else?

That she was becoming afraid of him.

[Tommy] You have any idea who that might be?

Objection. Speculation.

I’ll allow it.

My impression was it was the same man

I had the impression murdered her.


The same man I took pictures of the night she was killed.


[Laryn] Sustained.

Only questions asked, Michael. Please, don’t volunteer.

Thank you, Michael. That’s all I have.


[breathing heavily]

You have a lot of impressions, don’t you?

You have an impression that your mom was scared.

You have an impression that it was the man that she was sleeping with

that she was afraid of.

Impression. That’s a funny word, impression.

Let’s talk about that word for a minute.

What does that word mean? It means…

[sighs] …the belief or the faith in something that is unseen,


[Laryn] Counsel?

[distorted] Mr. Horgan, do you have a question?

[spectators clamoring]

Ray? Ray?

Ray? Ray? Ray, Ray, Ray?

I’m his wife. I’m his wife.

[no audible dialogue]

[defibrillator whirs, beeps]

[defibrillator whirs, beeps clearly]

[normal audio resumes]

[EMT 1] Still no pulse.

[Rusty] Again.

[defibrillator whirs]

[EMT 1] Ready?

Three, two, one, clear.

[Rusty] It’s okay. It’s okay.

[defibrillator thuds]


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