Last Dance Before an Execution - May 12, 1971 - Recap

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Sam leaps in to the body of a man named Jesus, who is being strapped into an electrical chair for execution. The warden declares it's May 12, 1971, and announces that Jesus Ortega has been condemned to death by execution by the State of Florida for the murder of Father Vincent Torelli in 1969.

As Sam panics, the phone rings and the warden answers. He informs those gathered that Sam and the other prisoner scheduled for execution, Raul Casta, that they've been granted a 48-hour stay of execution by the governor. District Attorney Theodore Moody speaks up against the governor while his assistant, Tearsa Lorrea, looks on.

Sam is taken back to his cell, next to Raul, who is crying with relief. As he's locked up, one of the guards, Officer Hudson, warns him not to get too used to being back in his cell. Once Sam is alone, he notices the law books that Ortega was reading, and Raul says that Ortega was right and they'd listen to their own laws.

Back at his office, Moody learns that Ortega wrote an appeal and the governor is looking for evidence that Ortega claims was omitted from his trial. Moody wants his people to find out what was in the appeal, and wonders where Tearsa is. Torelli identified Ortega and Raul on his death bed, and they have two other witnesses. Moody warns that if Ortega gets a mistrial, he'll be tied up in court during the gubernatorial election when he's running against the governor, Bowman. Moody's people insist they did everything by the book and they have nothing to worry about, and go to get the appeal.

Al arrives at Sam's cell and apologizes for being late. They can't revive Ortega in the waiting room, and Beaks figures that he thinks he's already dead. Al confirms that Ortega dies in two days. He and Raul were convicted because they robbed a priest but were accused of murdering the priest. They figure Sam is there because they're innocent of the murder. Sam has been reading Ortega's notes and points out that the evidence is conclusive that they murdered the priest.

Sam gets a visitor: his lawyer, Tearsa. She warns that Moody if ever finds out she's helping Sam, she'll be in serious trouble, but is happy that Moody has been thwarted for now. Al warns that she isn't being careful and Moody will have her disbarred in a year when he finds out. Tearsa explains that the governor saw that the ballistic tests were inconclusive, and the bullet in Torelli's chest didn't match Sam's gun. The witnesses can't place Ortega and Raul at the murder, just the robbery. Sam asks why she's helping him and she admits that Ortega's letter made her realize that Moody was prosecuting Cubans, and her parents ran away from Cuba for the same reason.

Once Al leaves to check the information, Tearsa notes that Sam has changed. First Ortega accused her of being a traitor to her own people. Once the trial ended, Oretga's letters changed and Tearsa admits that she changed as well and believed in something again. She tells Sam to go back over everything and check with Raul to see if he remembers anything.

Sam goes over Ortega's notes and reviews the case with Raul. The widower explains that his daughter was sick and he went to see Ortega to get some money for medicine. Ortega suggested they go to the church and see if the Madonna might grant a miracle. The priest refused to give them money, thinking they were going to spend it on rum, and Raul went berserk. Ortega pulled him back to the chapel and said it was no house of God, and then broke open the poor box. They left the church at 7:45 to find Julio Antuna, a doctor in Cuba who couldn't get a license in the States. He stole the medicine, and Raul figures that's why he didn't come to the trial. Raul swears that he and Rosita were with Julio when Torelli was murdered. Sam summons a sympathetic officer and convinces him to let him make a call after hours.

Sam calls Tearsa, who confirms Julio moved out of the area two days after the murder. Two officers talked to Julio but their report is missing. Al arrives and confirms that Julio never registered in the U.S. and they can't find where he went. When she reveals she's in Moody's office, Sam has Al go there to watch her. He tells Sam to tell Tearsa to look out the window, where she sees Moody arriving. She hangs up and pretends she's only there for the meeting he summoned her and the others for. Moody tells them that someone in the office is working with Ortega, and the governor plans to reopen the trial. Moody tells them to check everyone in the office. However, he notes that if Ortega can't introduce any new evidence, the execution will continue as planned.

The next day, Tearsa meets with Sam and warns him that the execution has been re-scheduled for 7 a.m. the next day. She's hired an investigation team to find Julio but warns that Bowman won't push for an extension without hard evidence. Sam notices a report mentioning a through-and-through, which means the bullet passed through the victim's body. The second bullet was never recovered from the church and Sam suggests that Al go there and use his hand link as a metal detector. He convinces Tearsa to go to the church so Ziggy can center on her brainwaves because they've got nothing else to go on. When he starts to panic, she agrees to go there and recreate the crime scene.

Al arrives at the church, homing in on Tearsa's brain waves. She's simply seated because she doesn't know what to do. Tearsa kneels to pray while Al scans the church and finds the bullet in the wall behind a painting of the Madonna. A young girl, Maria, sees Al and he persuades her that he's an angel and she needs to tell Tearsa where the bullet is. Under Al's prompting, Maria identifies Tearsa by name and directs her to the bullet.

Al goes to tell Sam the news and explains that the bullet grazed the corner of the painting as it entered, and then the painting swung back over the hole. He thinks everything is okay now, but Sam points out that he hasn't leaped yet. Al checks the history records and discovers that Ortega is still executed because the ballistic report confirms the bullet came from Ortega's gun and proves he was guilty… and he is executed for the murder.

With an hour left until the execution, Tearsa arrives and accuses Sam of lying to her. He tries to explain that he's not the man who killed the priest and Tearsa believes he's using her. Moody arrives and tells her he has a special punishment for her for her disloyalty. She insists that she believed some of the men they prosecuted were innocent, and Sam wonders who else Moody pushed through for execution. When Tearsa says she'll go public, he says that she'll quietly go away when he has her disbarred for stealing his personnel files. Once he goes, Sam tries to convince her she hasn't lost, but Tearsa says she has thanks to him.

The time of the execution arrives and the priest arrives to offer Sam confession. Sam insists that God hasn't abandoned him and he's done everything that has been asked of him. The priest tells him to cleanse his soul but Sam insists he has nothing to confess. Raul accuses him of going back to kill the priest, but Sam admits that he doesn't know.

Sam is taken to the execution chamber while thinking that it doesn't feel like he is being executed, and he believes God will save him. He briefly calls out for Al and then recovers himself. Al arrives and tells him to confess to the murder of the priest. Sam confesses to the people gathered, but insists that Raul wasn't there. He's there to make sure that Raul isn't killed for a crime he didn't commit. Al tells him that he's also there to take down Moody. Under Al's prompting, Sam reveals that Julio left for New York to visit his daughter and was interrogated by Moody's people when he returned. Moody helped him obtain his medical license on the condition that he leaves Florida and never return. He gives Tearsa Julio's phone number to confirm his story.

Tearsa confirms everything and informs the press that Julio is willing to testify again to prove Raul's innocence. Al confirms that Raul is freed and Moody's reputation is ruined. Tearsa reopens the remaining deathrow cases and gets two of them released. However, Sam's execution proceeds on schedule. As the executioner pulls the switch, Sam leaps just in time.