Netflix just released a trailer for the upcoming docuseries Trial 4, premiering on the streamer next month. The 8-episode series follows a man named Sean K. Ellis who spent 22 years in prison after being unjustly convicted of murdering Boston Police Detective John Mulligan.
Ellis was put on trial 3 times within one year before being found guilty of the murder in 1993, when he was 19 years old. His attorneys and supporters long maintained that Ellis was the victim of a police conspiracy, and had simply been a convenient patsy to take the fall for a crime that corrupt Boston detectives wanted solved quickly. (Indeed, three of the detectives involved in the case were later found guilty of federal extortion charges, including falsifying warrants and robbing suspects at gunpoint.) Ellis was released in 2015 after exculpatory evidence about the handling of his case came to light, but he still faced the possibility of a fourth trial that could potentially put him back in prison for life for the murder of Detective Mulligan. Trial 4 covers the investigation into Ellis’ initial conviction and the preparation for a potential fourth trial, with interviews from Ellis himself and virtually everyone involved in the case since 1993.
The eight-episode docuseries TRIAL 4 delves into the story of Sean Ellis, a man who served 22 years in prison after being found guilty of killing Boston Police Detective John Mulligan in 1993. Though law enforcement presented evidence linking Ellis to the murder, further investigation revealed corrupt police officers, questionable witnesses and enormous pressure within the department to solve the case. Ellis’s story, while devastating, sheds light on timely issues of systemic racism, police corruption and criminal justice reform while offering hope that, ultimately, people have the power to change the system.
The series was directed by Rémy Burkel and executive produced by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, the documentarian behind Netflix’s controversial docuseries The Staircase. Like The Staircase, Trial 4 looks like an extremely in-depth look into the frustrating failures and abuses of the justice system. After a year of civil unrest pushing back against police violence and systemic racism, Ellis’ story feels more timely than ever. Check out the trailer below. Trial 4 premieres on Netflix November 11.