“Usual Suspects” gives background to Sean and also shows how the police landed on him with their investigative flaws.
This recap of Netflix limited series Trial 4 episode 2, “Usual Suspects” contains information on the chapter.
We recapped every episode — check out the archive.
“Usual Suspects” opens up with the police announcing that Terry Patterson has been arrested; Patterson stated that Sean Ellis was the shooter. Sean’s lawyer talks about how Sean became the single event after this, constructing this narrative that Sean was solely focused on so the police looked like they made progress. We’ve heard this narrative before with investigators wanting a suspect rather than the right suspect.
Sean’s younger life
The Netflix series then pivots with Sean introducing viewers to his neighborhood. It was a community fuelled by drugs and crimes — the concept of poor wasn’t known. Everyone was in the same boat, the same class. It’s all about survival — it’s a wild west.
Followed even at the funeral
The series then flits to October 1993, with Terry Patterson heading to his arraignment. The police were following Sean. Of course, Sean’s mind was on his murdered cousins and he attends their funeral — there were cops everywhere. When Sean saw the open caskets, he lost it emotionally; he was very close to Celine.
It didn’t add up
The cops arrested Sean on the day of the funeral. His head was looking down as he was arrested which didn’t look good in the media — an expert stated that he should have had his head up. Journalists and experts were shocked to see two young Black men as the prime suspects when it was deemed a cold, execution-style killing. Again, the Netflix series presents how it never did add up.
The documentary discusses how it felt similar to other cases where it was placed on racial lines. The case referenced is the murder of pregnant woman Carol Stuart, who was murdered by her husband Chuck Stuart and he tried to pin it on an African American man. The Boston department ate it up — it smeared a mark on the department nationally.
In the courtroom for the arraignment, it was full of cops and it’s quite haunting. It’s an incredible scene as the older Sean watches his plea and bail request in the present day. He’s reliving the entire moment. The bail was denied despite no prior criminal record. It’s a way more upsetting scene than you’d expect. Sean tells the viewers that it never registered then, and it doesn’t register now. On the way out of court, Sean has his head up and was proud — his lawyer told him to do that.
This is heartfelt — it’s difficult to imagine going through what happened to Sean.
Finding the guns and the line-up
The investigators interviewed Sean’s uncle David Murray. He had been incarcerated for armed robbery and the police use that against him as he was on parole — they made him say what he needed him to say; they coerced a statement to make him say that Terry and Sean buried the guns.
The police find John Mulligan’s gun and the murder weapon in a field across from Sean’s house. Sean’s lawyer explains that the police were trying to link the murder to Sean as quickly as possible to close the case. The police then got a statement from Rosa Sanchez who was asked to identity Sean from that night — he was placed in a line-up. There’s a suggestion that the line-up was not sanitized as the witness could have known Sean Ellis’s number before the verification.
When Sean Ellis steps forward in the lineup, he was verified by the witness Rosa. It was put on record that he had been identified. Sean Ellis tells the viewers that he was very confused but he wasn’t scared as he felt everything was going to figure itself out.
Sean’s lawyer states that Rosa Sanchez was the devastating witness and that John Brazil, the detective, dragged up all these statements.
Trial 4 Episode 2 gives background to Sean and also shows how the police landed on him with their investigative flaws. This is indicative of an investigation that works on racial lines and how a sense of injustice can douse efforts to find a real killer. This is a truly horrifying chapter that indicates how badly a police department can operate.