Death Penalty: Final Appeal
Cold Case S03E20 Death Penalty Final Appeal

Season : 3
Episode: 20
Directed by: Alex Zakrzewski
Written by: Sean Whitesell
Production Number:
Airdate: 16 April 2006
Date of Crime: 4 June 1994
Previous: Beautiful Little Fool
Next: The Hen House

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The 1994 case of a raped and murdered 16-year-old girl is re-opened when Det. Jeffries gets a call from a prisoner on death-row -- scheduled to be executed in just three days.


In 1994, Mike Lange and his daughter Kate are moving into a new home, and giving instructions to the moving crew. Mike tells Kate that some men in the moving crew are ex-cons and that the company hired them to help them turn their lives around. That same night, Kate is found raped and murdered in the kitchen of their new house. Andre Tibbs, one of the movers, is accused and convicted of her murder.

At the precinct, in the present day, Det. Jeffries receives a call from Andre. Jeffries was one of the officers who interviewed Andre when he was arrested in 1994. He has always maintained that he didn’t rape or kill Kate, and he insists the cop who arrested him framed him. Now he pleads to Jeffries to re-open the case. According to Andre’s story, he went back to the house to deliver an apology letter to Mr. Lange and found Kate already dead. When he heard a noise, he ran, afraid people were going to think he killed her because he had earlier convictions. He says the officer who arrested him took the letter from Andre’s pocket and took it with him. The detectives find out that the officer in question, Joey Norman, has just killed himself after the police’s internal affairs bureau started investigating him for corruption. Jeffries and Kat go talk to Andre in the death row; he is scheduled to be executed in three days.

Andre flashes back to the afternoon he was in the Lange’s house. He was carrying a heavy mirror upstairs and Mr. Lange offered to help. Andre didn’t want to look bad in front of his boss so he refused, but he fumbled and dropped the mirror. It upset Mr. Lange, they had a heated argument, and Andre ended up being fired. Lilly and Scotty talk to Mr. Lange about his testimony. They ask him whether he really saw Andre at the house that night or if Officer Norman made him say that. He relives the moments where Officer Norman told him he found Andre a few blocks from Mr. Lange’s house, with blood on his boots, and how the officer kept saying that Andre was guilty. Officer Norman asked him over and over again if Mr. Lange saw Andre inside the house that night, until Mike relented and said that he really did see him. Mike admits that he never saw anyone at the house that night. Lt. Stillman and Jeffries go ask the DA who prosecuted the case for a warrant for the letter that Officer Norman supposedly took from Andre, since now all of Norman’s possessions are with the IAB under investigation. The DA refuses, saying there is no question about Andre’s guilt.

Meanwhile, Vera and Lilly talk to Wayne Nelson, Andre’s boss at the time. Wayne flashes back to that afternoon when they were moving the Lange’s stuff from the van. Mr. Lange had given Wayne his car keys and some money to buy lunch for the crew, but Wayne gave them to Andre because he wanted to keep an eye on the rest of his employees. On the way to the car, Andre passed by Kate and her friend, studying on the lawn. Kate’s friend, Barbie, flirted with him and went with him to get lunch. Now Barbie is being interviewed. Barbie tells Kat and Scotty that she tried to seduce Andre, but he didn’t go for it. She flashes back and describes how Kate and Andre talked about his drinking problem and Kate’s mother’s drinking problem. Barbie says she got Andre’s phone number from his pager and dared Kate to call him. Kate finally called Andre that night and, according to Barbie, he called right back. Jeffries confronts Andre about the call and he swears he never made any call. Mr. Lange comes to the station before the execution and reveals he heard the phone ring and Kate talk to someone on the phone. He says he never told the police about it because he didn’t want anybody saying that Kate brought it on herself. Jeffries talks to Andre just before the execution, and asks him to tell the truth before he dies. Andre maintains he is innocent. He is ready to receive the lethal injection when he flashes back one last time.

It is dark and he is holding a letter. He gets to the Lange’s front door and realizes it is open; he enters the house and hears noises in the kitchen. When he gets there, Kate is on the floor bleeding. She dies right in front of him. Andre’s last words to Jeffries are ”prove me innocent”. The next day, even without a warrant, Jeffries goes to the evidence storage and finds Andre’s letter in Officer Norman’s belongings. He finally realizes Andre was telling the truth all along. They also find out Wayne, Andre’s boss, has been lying about his relationship with his own daughter, Faith. They track her down and question her about her father. She says she ran away after graduating from school because her father sexually abused her since she was thirteen years old. She recalls that he called her friends many times a day trying to find her after she left. One day, he simply stopped calling and she never heard from him again. When asked if she remembers when that was, Faith answers it was June '94. Lilly realizes it was the same month that Kate died.

The phone records show that it was Wayne who called Kate that night, pretending to be Andre. Lilly and Jeffries confront Wayne about the call and he lies, saying she called thinking it was Andre, but he told her it wasn’t. When the detectives say they know about Faith, Wayne breaks down and starts remembering Kate’s last night. Kate opened the door, thinking Andre was coming to talk to her but it was Wayne at the door. He got inside the house and followed Kate to the kitchen, calling her Faith. When Kate tried to escape from Wayne, he grabbed a knife and assaulted her. In the present, Jeffries arrests him and Lilly thanks Faith. The song Hallelujah by John Cale starts playing while Jeffries is reprimanded for punching ADA William Danner. Lilly sees Kate in the cold case vault, and ADA Danner packs his things from his office. Jeffries, Kat, Lt. Stillman and Mr. Lange attend Andre’s funeral, where Jeffries catches a glimpse of Andre.


Main CastEdit

Guest CastEdit



  • In a first for the series, this episode features a greatly abbreviated opening sequence, and the main cast is instead as the episode plays, along with the guest cast, something that will not be repeated until season seven's "Bullet".


  • Collective Soul "Shine"
  • G. Love & Special Sauce "This Ain't Living"
  • Duran Duran "Come Undone"
  • Dionne Farris "I Know"
  • Crash Test Dummies "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm"
  • Dave Matthews Band "Satellite"
  • Closing Song: John Cale "Hallelujah"