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Mr. Monk And The Wrong Man

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"Mr. Monk And The Wrong Man" is the 8th episode of the sixth season of Monk .

Plot SynopsisEdit

On a quiet day in 1993, a mailman drops something off at a normal suburban house. As he continues on his way, we suddenly hear the sound of a woman screaming from inside the house.

Across the street, a neighbor, Sarah McNally, is talking on the phone and hears the noise. She hangs up and looks out her window, and sees nothing, other than a man, Max Barton, walking down the street. McNally goes over to the house, owned by John and Valerie Davis, to investigate. When she enters the living room, she finds a horrifying sight: the husband is tied up in a chair, tortured and killed, and his wife is lying dead on the back patio. And someone has managed to get into the wall safe. McNally staggers out of the front door, screaming for someone to call the police.

14 years later, at the Seabrook State Penitentiary, Max Barton is up for parole. Also present are McNally, the witness who found the bodies, and Adrian Monk, the detective who investigated the Davis murders, and whose testimony put Barton in prison. Monk describes the crime scene and what happened to the two victims as being unlike anything he's seen in all his years of police work, both as an official detective and as a consultant. He notes that the husband had been tortured and the wife had tried to escape before she was killed. He states that he became a cop specifically to put away killers like Barton, and firmly believes Barton should never be even considered for parole. But just as Monk is reaching this point in his testimony, a lawyer from the appeals court enters the room and Barton's attorney announces that Barton has withdrawn his parole application. It turns out that DNA found under the victims' fingernails at the crime scene does not belong to Barton at all, meaning Monk nabbed the wrong guy 14 years ago.

At an apartment in a different part of the city, a security guard, Paulie Flores, watches a news broadcast on Barton's exoneration. He silently curses Max.

At the police station, Captain Stottlemeyer and Lieutenant Disher are rehearsing for the questions that the press will ask. These include questions about Barton's plans to sue the state for wrongful conviction, and the fact that the department has reopened the case, which will involve revisiting the crime scene and going back over all of the evidence. Stottlemeyer is concerned about this mistake, because Monk is evidently very devestated by what's transpired.

Nonetheless, Dr. Kroger convinces Monk not to quit being a detective. He encourages Monk to work through it, because empathizing with Barton will make him a better detective and human being in the long run.

Monk and Natalie go to see Barton as he’s being released from prison. As Monk watches Barton pick up his belongings from the guard, including his belt and his wallet, Barton finds his belt doesn't fit anymore. The guard suggests that he punch a hole through it because it looks good on him. As they walk, Monk tries to apologize again profusely to Barton, reminding him of all the evidence that had led to him being convicted in the first place: namely, the fact that the killer used an upholsterer's knot (and Barton worked as an upholsterer at the time), he had a criminal record, his fingerprint was found on the doorknob (he claimed in questioning that he made a delivery to the house the week before the murders), he's left-handed like the killer was, and Sarah McNally identified Barton as the man she saw leaving the house. But Barton refuses to listen, telling Monk to curl up in a hole and die.

Monk and Natalie run into Barton again at the halfway house where he's staying as he reintegrates himself into society. He's outside, lifting a barbell, when they arrive. Monk is distracted when Barton takes off his shirt and begins weight-lifting, and Monk notices that Barton has a tattoo of him on his right arm, with a tattoo of a knife positioned in a such a way that when Barton bends his arm, it looks like the knife is stabbing Monk's tattoo image between his eyes. However, again Barton turns down Monk's help.

At Monk's apartment, he tries to convince Natalie to go to Barton by herself to get him to open to her, but she refuses. However, they are interrupted when Natalie gets a call that Barton is causing trouble. It turns out Barton has gone to the hair salon where his ex-wife Sherry worked and is causing a scene. Monk talks Barton down after pointing out that the two cops who have arrived outside are itching to find even a slight excuse to return him to prison, and offers to help him find Sherry, albeit he reveals through a photo of her that she might be seeing someone else since she divorced him several years ago.

Monk, Stottlemeyer and Disher later drop by the Davis's house. It's come into new ownership by a typical suburban couple, Eric and Cindy Gelbertson, and their two children, but the exterior is virtually unchanged from 14 years ago. As they walk up to the front door, Monk mentions that Natalie's father has found Barton a job and they are working to track down Barton's ex-wife. Coming into the house, the three men tell the owners some of the small details about what happened to the Davis's. The owners initially wonder if the previous couple were drug dealers, but Stottlemeyer notes that they actually had a wall safe full of jewelry, which is what the killer was after.

Monk looks around the room where the bodies were found, and uses his photographic memory to recreate the room as it had been back then from reference points, as the arrangement of the furniture is different from 14 years ago. For instance, a sandbox now exists where the wife's body was found. He asks the Gelbertson boys if they ever have found unusual things like shell casings or bone fragments while playing outside. But then Monk notices a crucial clue: scratch marks on a sliding door to the room that were made by a dog. The Gelbertsons mention that the marks had been there when they first moved in, and Monk is perplexed: he doesn't remember seeing a dog at the original crime scene investigation in 1993. But Randy looks at the file and notes that in fact, the Davises did have a Doberman Pinscher, but it died just the day before the murders. They buried it by a pine tree in the backyard. Stottlemeyer realizes that the killer may have killed the dog as a safety precaution, and even though 14 years have passed, there ought to be enough solid remains for them to do toxicology tests to check for poison.

That night, Paulie Flores, the security guard we saw watching the news earlier, enters his apartment. When he clicks on the light, he is startled to see Barton sitting on the couch. Barton is obviously not happy with Paulie, who reminds Barton that it wasn't his fault that Barton got caught so easily when they committed the Davis murders. Barton warns Paulie that the police are going to find him, and he is aware that if the police talk to Paulie, he's going to tell them all about the other jobs that the two of them pulled so he gets a slap on the wrist while Barton goes back to prison. As Paulie is opening the fridge to pull out a bottle of imported liquor, Barton takes off his own belt and attempts to strangle him with it. Paulie jabs Barton with his elbow and manages to free himself. He tries to run, but Barton regains his footing, tackles Paulie to the floor in the dining room, and kills him.

The next morning at the police station, Stottlemeyer hands Randy the toxicology report on the remains of the Davis's dog. It turns out the dog was poisoned with penzedrine, a drug used in heart operations. It's also very rare, which is good news for them. He instructs Randy to go back to 1993 and look for someone who had access to the drug, who had a rap sheet, and missed work on the day of the murders.

Monk goes to the loading dock at a Davenport Toothpaste processing center, and finds Barton slacking off, complaining about back problems. Monk has to do some of Barton's assigned work for him, and as he's doing so, Natalie shows up, having located Max's ex-wife Sherry. There's just one small problem, though: she's getting married to someone else. Monk ends up crashing said wedding, which is broken up when he convinces Sherry that Max wants her back.

As the original wedding party disperses, the groom expressing hatred for Monk, he gets a surprise encounter with Sarah McNally, who is aghast at the fact that Monk has been helping Barton, reminding Monk that Barton was the man she saw on the street shortly after she heard screaming from the Davis's place. Monk tries to point out that it isn't her fault as she was in her house across the street when the murders were committed. Then McNally promptly reveals that she has a photographic memory, and remembers everything about the day of the murders, including the fact that Monk measured the viewing distance from her house to the crime scene house and his measuring tape broke, the details of the car he was driving that day, the details of his clothes from that day, and even the badge number of Monk's partner at the time. She remembers how Barton walked down that street, his hands in his pockets like he didn't have a care in the world.

This jolts Monk's memory: he remembers that the killer broke into the wall safe inside the Davis's house using an acetylene torch, which they never recovered, and it was too big to be stuffed into one's pockets. If the man McNally saw had his hands in his pockets, then Barton was guilty of the original murders to begin with....but he had an accomplice who helped him. Unfortunately, it's too late to put Barton back in prison on the original charges because of double jeopardy.

Here's What HappenedEdit

Monk and Natalie join Stottlemeyer and Disher at Paulie Flores's apartment. Stottlemeyer notes that Paulie was found hanging from his closet door by his own belt, a "prison style" suicide. Stottlemeyer notes that Paulie was a security guard at a pharmaceutical company for the last 15 years, so he did have access to penzedrine. He and Barton were old high school friends. The obvious theory is that Barton and Paulie were in on the Davis murders together, and poisoned the Davis's dog before breaking in the next day, and Paulie got away by escaping out the back door while Barton left out the front door. Paulie's DNA is the DNA from the crime scene that they originally thought had been Barton's. It turns out Monk was right about Barton being guilty after all, though Monk amends that he was half-right as he never knew about Paulie being there, since Barton never ratted him out.

Stottlemeyer mentions that unfortunately, they can't put Barton back in jail because of double jeopardy. But then Monk looks at the belt used to hang Paulie, and realizes that they may not be able to nab Barton for the original murders, but they can arrest him for Paulie's murder.

Monk, Natalie, Stottlemeyer and Disher return to the church just as Barton and Sherry are being remarried. Monk repeats the same statement he made to convince Sherry to return to Barton earlier, but changes it to warn her that he's dangerous. Barton feigns innocence, claiming he hasn't seen Paulie since high school. But Monk reveals that Paulie didn't "hang" himself with his own belt, and Randy produces the belt that was used to hang Paulie. Monk notes that it's Barton's own belt, the one he realized he needed to have a hole punched into because it didn't fit anymore when he was being released from prison.

Max scoffs, exasperated, and Monk agrees - there's no way to prove that the belt in the evidence bag is Max's, but they can prove that he's wearing a belt that isn't his. He explains that Max used his own belt to kill Paulie and pass Paulie's death off as a suicide, but he made a mistake afterwards - it turns out Paulie's own belt wasn't on his body or in his apartment.

Max says there's no proof, but Randy reveals that in fact they caught a small break: Paulie's belt is part of his company uniform and it is standard issue, so the company logo is stamped on the inside of it. Reluctantly, after some coaxing, Max removes the belt, and we see the LP logo of Paulie's employer. They promptly arrest him on the spot and take him away, just as Sherry's original groom returns again.

Sometime later, Stottlemeyer calls Randy into his office to inform him of a screwup he just made on another case. Randy tries to apologize, but Stottlemeyer makes clear that it was Randy who screwed the case up, not Monk nor anyone else. As Randy leaves the office, Stottlemeyer comments, "God's in his heaven, all's right with the world."

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