Based on a true story. Two young boys watch their mother's boyfriend beat her. On her deathbed, she says he didn't do it. He goes free. Twenty years later, a rookie prosecutor - a young woman - fights to revive the cold case.
Jamal, 7, and Trey, 3, watch their mother's live-in boyfriend Will Downey beat their mother Norma to death. But on her deathbed, Norma said he didn't do it. Downey goes free. Twenty years later, the Cold Cases Unit takes another look and refers the case to County Prosecutor Dot Gibson. She wants no part of a case that old, especially because the dying victim said Downey didn't do it. Our hero, Katy Landon, 28, is an assistant prosecutor working under Dot Gibson. Katy is the foster mother of a charming girl, Ali, 8, who hasn't spoken a word after watching her mother get stabbed to death by a dope-head two years ago. Katy and Ali share a one-bedroom apartment. No pets allowed. Ali wants a dog so badly. Several years ago, Katy had a medical problem. She can't have children. Katy's crazy about Ali and adopting her is the most important thing in Katy's life. Ali wants the adoption even more. When Katy reads the Downey file, and learns the two young brothers watched their mother get murdered, the case strikes a raw nerve. Katy wants to prosecute, but she can't convince Gibson it's a winnable case. Gibson nixes the matter. Katy secretly enlists the help of the local Coalition for Battered Women, a politically powerful group that pressures Gibson to prosecute. Gibson caves. Katy gets her case. At the trial, Katy shines as she battles Carol Fox - "The Fox" - a hotshot attorney defending Downey pro bono. Katy needs to explain away Norma's deathbed exculpation of Downey, so Katy presents expert testimony battered women often lie to protect their batterer. But it's still just the brothers' word against Downey's. For Katy, the realization sets in - she can't convict him. She's devastated. Katy gathers herself. She tracks down a new witness. When Downey testifies to deny the murder, Katy leads him into a series of lies. Then she springs her new witness and now Katy's got him. The jury convicts Downey of Murder One. Katy lands a new job for a lot more money with a top law firm. Now she'll be able to adopt Ali. But not so fast. A kind couple, the Finches, have entered the picture and they, too, want to adopt Ali. He's a dentist and she'd be a stay-at-home mom. Big house, big yard. Ali gets along great with the two Finch kids. And with the big Finch dog. Katy realizes what she has to do. She chooses to give up her long struggle to adopt Ali.
Female in her fifties