Trial 4 episode 1 recap – “Execution-Style Murder”

November 11, 2020
Daniel Hart 0
Netflix, TV Recaps


“Execution-Style Murder” is an interesting, intriguing opening as it sets the scene for the murder of John Mulligan and how Sean K. Ellis ended up being the lead suspect.

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“Execution-Style Murder” is an interesting, intriguing opening as it sets the scene for the murder of John Mulligan and how Sean K. Ellis ended up being the lead suspect.

This recap of Netflix limited series Trial 4 episode 1, “Execution-Style Murder” contains information on the chapter.

We recapped every episode — check out the archive.

The opening

“Execution-Style Murder” gives the audience archive footage of the motion of a new trial for Massachusetts versus Sean K. Ellis in May 2015. The judge states that she feels that Sean had an unfair trial — she doesn’t want the honest police officers to be reflected negatively. The documentary explains that Sean K. Ellis was 19 when he was charged with the murder of detective John Mulligan back in 1993. A narration explains how the officer was shot five times in the head — what followed was mistrials. Sean’s new lawyer hints at how there was a systematic problem with the Boston Police department in the 80s and 90s. Sean wants the world to know that he’s innocent.

The Netflix series opens up with the base setter, prepping the audience for a world of injustice and corruption.

He didn’t seem like a cop-killer

What’s incredible is that Sean has been in prison for 22 years. So it’s obvious that if this man is innocent, this is a great injustice in the system. His lawyer Rosemary explains to the viewer how he wasn’t the perfect suspect.

That fatal night

“Execution-Style Murder” then flits to September 26, 1993 — the night of detective John Mulligan’s murder. Toni Locy from The Boston Globe explains how the police were frantic that night — of course, when it’s one of their own, they are on to it. It’s an upsetting moment — the officer died at the scene. Five gunshots in the face is a brutal, evil assassination and the documentary describes it clearly.

Many, many enemies

“Execution-Style Murder” discusses John Mulligan’s career — the cop had a high arrest and conviction rate, so basically, many enemies. It’s easy to see why this was a tough case and Trial 4 brings the full weight of how much the department was under pressure and needed to bring someone to justice. Archive footage of the funeral is sobering — it was a parade through the city.

To sum up the type of cop John Mulligan is described as in Episode 1 — a hard-working officer but he’d arrest you for smoking a joint. He had “a past”.

An insufficient department

“Execution-Style Murder” discusses how in 1991, a detailed newspaper report from The Boston Globe evidenced how the Boston police department was not sufficient enough to solve crimes. This is a damning exposé and it does not put the police in a good light. At this stage, we understand the docuseries is drip-feeding the audience information.

The white woman

Joanne Samuel, a witness, saw a white woman in John Mulligan’s car arguing with the detective. The conclusion was that Mary Shopov was the woman — she was the first interviewed suspect for the homicide. In her statement, she denied a lack of attraction and that John always wanted sex. She did admit that John did have other women at some points in his life. It’s a weird state of affairs; the Boston police department was ready to scapegoat her as the killer, which backs the argument that the department was not sufficient enough.

The turning point

What changed is that Sean K. Ellis went to the police department about his cousins’ murder — Tracey and Celine were murdered three days after John. It was a traumatic time for Sean — you can feel the pain in his eyes when describing how he found out.

Repeating the story

David Murray gives a statement to the police regarding Tracey and Celine. The investigator asked about his nephew, Sean. The police really wanted to speak to him; they tried to make out that Sean murdered his cousins because they wanted him out of the house. Sean describes the night he was with his cousins going to the store. The police then accused Sean of killing John Mulligan — they kept asking him to repeat the story of the night with his cousins. They wouldn’t let him have a lawyer.

It’s fascinating how quickly the police can put scenarios together and come to a single-conclusion — Trial 4 Episode 1 shows how it escalated quickly, with the cops emotional and angry that one of their own was killed.

Voluntary information

Sean told the cops he was there that night when John Mulligan was murdered — he gave that information voluntarily, which is unusual for a top suspect. It’s evident so far that the cops were trying to pin the murder on Sean.

Craig Hood, an ex of one of the cousins, confessed to killing the women over a dispute over a gold chain.

The ending

A man named Victor Brown was interviewed about a motor vehicle parked outside his house. He noticed two black males inside the car. This is the same car that the police are looking for.

The VW Rabbit belonged to a man named Terry Patterson and he drove Sean to the store Walgreens on the night of the murder. He was charged with armed robbery; the lead investigator claimed that Terry indicated that Sean killed John Mulligan. The lawyer in the room denied that it happened. The police discounted the lawyer. This is flagrantly a case of the police’s word versus the defendant’s.

Trial 4 Episode 1 is an interesting, intriguing opening as it sets the scene for the murder of John Mulligan and how Sean K. Ellis ended up being the lead suspect.

It’s flagrantly evident that the Netflix series is suggesting that the police were desperately trying to find a top suspect; there are suggestions that the department was somehow incompetent in some ways and investigations were often misdirected. This is a very detailed first chapter and highlights how wrong homicide investigations can be.

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