Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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Witness for the Defense 

Jessica goes to Quebec to testify at the trial of a friend who is accused of killing his wife and burning his house.


Seymour Robbie


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 5 more credits »




Episode complete credited cast:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Christopher Allport ... Jim Harlan
Richard Cox ... Clay McCloud
Stefan Gierasch ... Dr. Cornwall
Marilyn Hassett ... Patricia Harlan
Simon Jones ... Barnaby Friar
Dianne Kay ... Monica Blane
Patrick McGoohan ... Attorney Oliver Quayle
Juliet Mills ... Annette Pirage
Claire Trevor ... Judith Harlan
James Staley ... Fouchet
Charlie Brill ... Rudy
Sean G. Griffin Sean G. Griffin ... Klebber
Dori Arnold Dori Arnold ... Secretary
Ivan Bonar ... His Lordship


Jessica obeys a Canadian court summons to Quebec to give testimony in wealthy fledgling author friend Jim Harlan's trial concerning the death of his young wife, Patricia, in their country house's fire. Nationally reputed Attorney Oliver Quayle refuses to acknowledge arson as a cover-up for murder. Instead, he fights the evidence claiming it could be an accident, despite convincing indications she was killed by a blow on the head. The couple was heard to fight over a nasty divorce. Jessica can't resist doing her own investigation, even questioning witnesses like the ex-con gardener. Instead of appreciating her help, the haughty lawyer starts discrediting her in court, referring to an allegedly stolen book plot, psychiatric history and even arrested relatives. Yet Jessica keeps sleuthing and unearths how Jim, who hurt his cause by silence, eloped with and blackmail was paid by socialite, overbearing mother, Judith Harlan, and gets help from Quayle's assistant. Barnaby. checking on the ... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

trial | quebec | fire | arson | brooch | See All (10) »


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

4 October 1987 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Guest star Patrick McGoohan (Oliver Quayle) is most familiar to television fans from his long-standing roles on Danger Man (1960) and The Prisoner (1967). See more »


The defendant is referred to as having served time in "Commonwealth prison". Canada has no such prisons. Canadian prisons are either federal or provincial. See more »


[first lines]
Jessica Fletcher: Good morning. I'm Jessica Fletcher. I believe Mr. Quayle is expecting me.
Secretary: Oh, yes, Mrs. Fletcher. Indeed, yes. Please follow me.
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Murder She Wrote Theme
Written by John Addison
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User Reviews

Canadian justice
28 July 2017 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

This episode of Murder She Wrote takes Jessica Fletcher to Quebec where in fact she is returning to be a witness at the trial of young writer Christopher Allport. She was in Quebec a year before when Allport's wife Marilyn Hassett disappears burned up in a fire at their house. Now Allport is charged with arson and murder.

Angela Lansbury is under subpoena from Crown attorney Juliet Mills and her friend's lawyer Patrick McGoohan is an Alpha male of the first order. He tries to attack her character on the witness stand bringing up incidents from previous episodes of the show. He's one arrogant fool. All of which makes Lansbury more determined to find the real story on her own.

I have to say that Angela Lansbury's scenes with McGoohan and with his assistant Simon Jones are outstanding. Claire Trevor plays Allport's mother and Charlie Brill has an important small part as the sleaziest of sleazy private eyes.

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