IMDb rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 100%
At the age of 19, Sean K Ellis was charged with the murder of police officer John Mulligan in 1993. In eight hours’ worth of episodes, this true-crime series examines the case, while also investigating the systemic racism and corruption in the Boston Police Department, which is what led to Ellis’s being charged with the crime.
Ellis’s first two trials led to deadlocked juries. The third trial convicted him of the crime that all the evidence shows he did not commit. The title “Trial 4” refers to the fight for his fourth and final trial, which took over 20 years.
Executive produced by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, who directed The Staircase, and directed by Remy Burkel, Trial 4 is long and ambitious, described by RogerEbert.com as “one of the densest true crime docuseries ever made”. It features interview after interview with players on both sides of the case, as well as archival footage. The picture that emerges of the Boston Police Department and the Boston political scene is of a hotbed of corruption.
Wall Street Journal says, “Mr Burkel manages to make sense of it all. Of great help is a literal time line that appears occasionally on screen, replete with dates and a description of the events about to be portrayed.”
Another interesting feature of the series is the list at the end of every episode of witnesses and other players who were contacted by the filmmakers and who refused to discuss the case.
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