In the mid-season finale of How To Get Away With Murder, we finally found out the answer to the question we’ve had since day one, who killed Sam! It turns out that Wes, “the puppy dog,” did it with a little help from his friends. Sam definitely didn’t go down without a big fight, though! Now, it’s time for the broken law breakdown.
Since Sam has the least time as a living character in this episode, we’ll begin with him. The episode starts with Sam having an epic argument with Annalise, both of them coming up with the worst possible insults. Insulting your spouse and screaming that she’s a vile piece of ass may not be against the law, but Sam takes it way too far when he violently grabs Annalise by the neck and begins to choke her.
Broken Law # 1 Alert!Sam’s conduct towards Annalise: Simple assault – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2701 (in relevant part)
I’ve included subsections 1 and 3 above because Sam could be guilty of assaulting Annalise for both of those reasons. Additionally, I don’t see Annalise crying out “kill me” during the fight as entering the scuffle by consenting, but I included it for those who might disagree.
After the fight between Sam and Annalise, Annalise leaves the house and Michaela shows up absolutely needing to turn in the trophy to get out of the exam. Rebecca attempts to sneak in the house on a quest to steal private files from Sam’s computer. Unfortunately for Rebecca, Michaela is the least slick person in the world and says her name out loud, cluing Sam in to her presence. This leads to more criminally violent behavior from Sam. On Rebecca’s request, Michaela calls Wes for help, as Sam chases Rebecca up the stairs and Rebecca locks herself in the Keatings’ bedroom.
Michaela attempts and fails to calm Sam down, then the others arrive. Sam wants them to leave, and Wes agrees that they will all leave if he lets Rebecca go. One could argue that Sam had the right to attack his unwanted guests because they were committing crimes in his home and they entered Sam’s home against his will. However, his actions after the group agree to leave don’t help his defense much. As Rebecca and the Keating 5 (minus Asher) attempt to depart, Sam assures them that he’s not going to do anything to them, because he’s so trustworthy at this point. Apparently his idea of “not doing anything” is tackling some of them to the ground and throwing punches at the others.
The amount of force he uses during this chaotic scene, especially when he attacks Laurel, could have killed one of his victims, and this force will be explored further in this entry when we delve into the other characters’ broken laws.
Broken Law # 2 Alert!Sam’s conduct towards everyone in his house: Aggravated assault – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2702 (in relevant part)
Sam’s attack on Laurel terrifies Michaela enough to shove him so hard that he falls over the banister and falls to what the group thinks is his death. As they all panic about what to do next, a definitely NOT dead Sam ferociously strangles Rebecca. In my eyes, Sam is trying to kill Rebecca at this point, leading us to his final broken law of the episode.
Broken Law # 3 Alert!Sam strangling Rebecca: 18 PA Cons. Stat. § 901. Criminal attempt, 18 Pa Cons. Stat. § 2502. Murder. (Attempted Murder- in relevant part)
This concludes the broken laws by Sam, since it’s difficult to commit crimes when you’re dead, having your body set on fire and having people removing your tibia or fibula.
We’ll explore Rebecca next, since her behavior serves as a catalyst for most of what happens in this episode. Her crimes begin as soon as she walks into the Keating household. Sam makes it abundantly clear that she is not welcome in his home, and she proceeds to his bedroom anyway with the intent to steal private information off of his computer.
Broken Law # 4 Alert!Rebecca’s entrance into the Keatings’ house intending to commit a crime: Burglary – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3502 (in relevant part)
When it comes to the crime Rebecca intended to commit and wound up successfully committing, I admit that the details here are complex. She is clearly guilty of theft, but there are many different types of theft under Pennsylvania law. Since this admittedly gets confusing and is part of the reason it took me so long to do this entry, I am going to explain why I believe her actions would be considered identity theft rather than robbery or standard theft.
Broken Law # 5 Alert!Rebecca stealing Sam’s personal information from his computer: Identity theft – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4120 (in relevant part)
Speaking of criminal conspiracy, Rebecca participates in the groups’ initial planning to get away with killing Sam after Wes kills Sam by clocking him in the head with the golden snitch — I mean the get-out-of-a-law-school-exam free trophy. Now that I’ve completed my obligatory cheesy Harry Potter joke, we can discuss more broken laws.
Broken Law # 6 Alert!18 PA Cons. Stat. § 903. Criminal conspiracy (In Relevant Part).
Broken Law # 7 Alert!Tampering with or fabricating physical evidence – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4910
Now, let’s move onto the actual murderer, Wes!
Since we’ve already discussed burglary, conspiracy and identity theft, note that since Wes knew Rebecca’s plans and informed Connor and Laurel of them, and all three of them chose to go into Sam’s house to help Rebecca, that would make Wes, Connor and Laurel guilty of those crimes too. This constitutes broken laws 8, 9 and 10 and is integral to explain why Laurel later believes they could all be found guilty of felony murder.
Wes is in a far worse position than the others, however. It’s possible that he’s guilty of a separate conspiracy, one with Annalise, since we find out that Annalise is present when Wes goes to get the murder weapon and tells him not to be sorry. They could have planned the rest of Wes’s actions. More importantly, Wes is the one who actually killed Sam!
Broken Law # 11 Alert!18 Pa Cons. Stat. § 2502. Murder.
After Wes kills Sam, his blood ends up all over Rebecca. Cleaning up, throwing up and panic ensues, and Wes decides to hide Rebecca in a hotel and ship the others off to the woods. He explains out loud that Rebecca can’t be at this scene. Wes and everyone involved, since nobody stops this from happening, are guilty of:
Broken Law # 12 Alert!Hindering apprehension or prosecution – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5105
Wes goes back to the crime scene and gives a heartfelt apology to Sam’s dead body for killing him. “I’m so sorry,” he claims. But that doesn’t mean that Wes doesn’t need that trophy back! Sorry Sam, but there’s no way this puppy dog is leaving without his murder weapon.
Broken Law # 13 Alert!Tampering with or fabricating physical evidence – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4910
See broken law # 7 for the definition of this crime. Wes is guilty of this for numerous reasons; he cleans the blood, he retrieves the murder weapon and brings it to the woods to be disposed of, and helps drag Sam’s dead body in a rug to the woods to burn it. He additionally destroys the flash drive that Rebecca went through so much trouble with, which allegedly contains evidence that Sam killed Lila.
The way Wes and the others go about handling Sam’s body is another issue:
Broken Law # 14 Alert!Abuse of corpse – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 5510
Next up is “prom queen”/ Michaela! Before we realized that Sam was still alive, it appeared as though Michaela had killed Sam. The amount of force she uses when shoving him over the railing could have killed him, and since he ended up dying, she could be found guilty of his death too. However, her intent was not the same as Wes’s. While Wes intended to kill Sam, Michaela used such force to injure him and stop him from attacking Laurel. If Michaela got arrested for this conduct, it would likely be for:
Broken Law # 20 Alert!Involuntary manslaughter – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2504 (in relevant part)
Michaela did not know about Rebecca’s reasons for being at the Keatings’ house and is therefore not guilty of that particular conspiracy and the burglary mentioned above. However, she does remain on the property after Sam asks her to leave, which makes her guilty of:
Broken Law # 21 Alert!Criminal trespass – 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3503 (in relevant part)
Connor and Laurel’s offenses have been covered above. Connor’s only additional offense is going to his ex-boyfriend’s house inventing a fake drug addiction. This is weird, but not illegal. Although Laurel thinks they’re all going down for felony murder, when she first says this it’s when she believes that Michaela killed Sam. The following explains what could happen to Rebecca and the Keating 5 Minus Asher:
As mentioned above, it’s Annalise’s level of guilt is unclear, although it’s rather sketchy that she leaves her house after fighting with Sam, sleeps with Nate, then is seen leaving Sam an emotional voicemail begging him to come home when she already knew that Sam was dead. The scene between her and Wes makes that obvious. She has already admitted that the police have been asking questions, and since she’s purporting to still think Sam is alive, she’s clearly guilty of lying to the police and attempting to conspire with Wes to do the same. I will explore Annalise’s guilt more thoroughly as we learn more about what she has done.
Asher is in the clear; sex, acting like an idiot at a bonfire, and getting angry about a stolen trophy are all acts that are not against the law. Excellent work, doucheface! Let’s see what he does when he learns that Sam is dead! As for Bonnie, drunk sex is not illegal, and she could be in the clear unless Annalise has filled her in on the truth about what happened to Sam. If she knows, then she’d be part of the conspiracy. The same goes for Frank, without the drunk sex part. As long as Laurel didn’t fill him in off screen of the trophy’s status as a murder weapon and Annalise hasn’t told him the truth about Sam, for once, Frank has not broken the law! He might just think he was protecting Laurel from becoming the “shooting star.”
It appears that Wes wins the Most Screwed In The Group award. Hopefully, Annalise will at least give him the trophy so he doesn’t fail out of law school too. And that’s assuming that he isn’t kicked out of school and sent to jail without passing go or collecting credits for his first semester. We have a lot to look forward to in the upcoming episodes!