Burden of Proof
Season 2
Number 15
Writer Ann Donahue
Director Kenneth Fink
Original Airdate February 7, 2002
Previous Episode: The Finger
Next Episode: Primum Non Nocere

Burden of Proof is the fifteenth episode in Season Two of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation


When the body of a photographer is dumped at the Body Farm, Grissom finds out the man was shot to death, but there aren't any bullet fragments in his body. The case gets even more complicated when the CSIs discover the 14-year-old daughter of the photographer's girlfriend was the victim of sexual abuse.


Victim: Mike Kimble (deceased)

On the case: entire team

At night, Grissom makes his way around a Body Farm and is led to an unauthorized cadaver on the property; someone has disposed of a dead body in the hopes that it would be overlooked. David Phillips puts the time of death at under six hours ago. There's no ID on the victim, and it's observed that he suffered a single gunshot wound to the chest. Grissom is surprised to see a carpet beetle emerge from the victim's clothing, and he soon realizes that the scene has been cross-contaminated.

Fingerprints identify the victim as 38-year-old Mike Kimble, and Catherine guesses that his address in Summerlin could be the primary crime scene. In autopsy, Doc Robbins examines the entry wound and informs Grissom that there's no fragments inside the body, nor is there an exit wound. With no evidence of a bullet anywhere, they decide to excise the wound tract. Upon opening the body, they find a titanium screw and a type of maggot specific to the intestinal tracts of cows. It's possible this could be more cross-contamination.

When Catherine and Warrick arrive at Mike Kimble's house, they find that it's been set ablaze. After the fire has been extinguished, Nick and Warrick take a look around the charred house. They observe a burn pattern that looks like the fire burned upward, defying the laws of physics. The point of origin is found in the upstairs bedroom, but neither CSI smells any kind of accelerant, though the fire could've burned it off. Since the fire burned downward, they wonder if the fire was chasing after an accelerant, such as furniture polish. They soon find a blood-stained blanket on the floor and conclude that the fire was started to cover up a bigger crime.

The neighbor who called the fire in tells Brass that Mike had a fiancée, Jane Bradley. Catherine and Brass go to Jane's house and are greeted by her 14-year-old daughter, Jody. A distraught Jane says that she and Mike were to be married in a week and that he was a photographer. The conversation is soon interrupted by Jane's ex-husband, Russ. He's stunned when told that Mike was killed, and Catherine checks his hands for gunshot residue; however, she finds nothing. Meanwhile, back at Mike's house, Nick tells Grissom that the fire was orange, meaning a low-temperature fuel was used, such as gasoline or kerosene. Grissom walks around and finds Mike's photography room, which has been untouched by the fire. "Sometimes, it's about where the fire isn't," Grissom remarks, as he comes across hidden, provocative photos of Jody posing for the camera.

Jane denies that her fiancé had an inappropriate relationship with her daughter, and when Jody is questioned about it, she only says that she and Mike loved each other. Catherine believes that Jody is protecting her abuser and offers to take her to the hospital for an exam, which reveals that she has a second-degree burn on her wrist, as well as scarring from chronic sexual abuse. Jody explains that the burn came from a curling iron, but Catherine later tells Grissom that she believes Jody got the burn from setting the fire.

It's discovered that the provocative pictures were taken with the same type of camera Mike used. When Warrick clears up one of the pictures, he and Nick find what appears to be a finger in the bottom right corner. Nick notes that a professional photographer would be unlikely to get his finger in the shot.

Grissom conducts an experiment, trying to figure out the source of the ground beef in the victim's wound tract. He uses ground beef to determine whether the fly found the beef in the wound or whether the beef came from an outside source. As it turns out, none of the beef particles are as big as the tissue found in Mike's wound tract. Grissom asks Sara to continue with the experiment and dispose of the beef when she's finished. Sara, a vegetarian, takes offense to the fact that Grissom doesn't remember this and is disappointed when she gets brushed off.

Grissom finds out that Russ Bradley owns a gun, and he has Russ bring it down to the station. Upon examining it, he notes that the gun has been cleaned. Russ, meanwhile, tells Brass that he never liked the way Mike looked at Jody, claiming that he was too "touchy-feely." Elsewhere, Warrick informs Sara that the accelerant used to start the fire was nail polish remover, meaning their arsonist could be a female.

While examining bullet casings, Grissom sees the ice in his drink melt and comes to a realization: there was no bullet inside the victim because it melted. He soon conducts another experiment, molding ground beef into a bullet and freezing it.

Catherine and Nick go to Jane's house and use the ALS to search for bodily fluids. In the bathroom, Nick finds Jody's nightgown on top of the laundry basket; the ALS picks up a substance on it. Downstairs, Brass confronts Jane with the fact that she canceled her upcoming wedding to Mike five days ago, possibly because she caught wind of what was going on. However, Jane claims that she just got cold feet and again denies that Mike would never do what he's being accused of.

Greg surprises the team when he reveals that the DNA from Jody's nightgown actually belongs to her brother, Jake. When informally questioned, Jake claims that he doesn't know how his semen got on his sister's nightgown. He also denies taking pictures of Jody and planting them in Mike's house. Nick plays a hunch and speaks with Jake privately. He gets the teenager to open up about having an "adolescent accident" and using the first thing handy to clean himself up. As the conversation continues, Jake says that it was actually his sister who was obsessed with Mike, not the other way around.

Warrick continues to clean up the provocative photograph of Jody, with a focus on enhancing the fingerprint in the bottom right corner. He soon wonders if he can enhance the reflection in her eye to see what she was seeing. Meanwhile, Grissom test fires his frozen meat bullet and sees that it creates a bullet-like entry wound in the flesh. He concludes that the bullet disintegrated and got lost in the soft tissue.

In interrogation, Russ Bradley is accused of shooting Mike with a frozen meat bullet. While his gun was cleaned, his re-loader wasn't, and the material on it is consistent with the material found in Mike's wound tract—ground beef. Russ confesses to the murder, saying that he saw how Mike was looking at his daughter. The two men got into an argument, and when Mike laughed the accusation off and refused to change his ways, Russ shot him. He then dumped the body at the Body Farm, as the grocery chain he owns makes regular deliveries there for experimental purposes. Brass also accuses Russ of setting the fire in Mike's house, but Grissom tells him that they're still examining the evidence on the arson.

Sara blindsides Grissom by formally requesting a leave of absence of at least six months, saying that she wants to check out the federal government system. Despite the Vegas lab being the best in the country, she claims that she needs a different work environment—one with communication and respect. When Grissom asks if this is about the "hamburger thing," Sara snaps, amazed at the fact that he's reduced everything to a single quirk of hers and isn't taking any of the blame. She threatens to quit if the request isn't signed and is indifferent when told that the lab needs her.

Catherine informs Grissom that Russ will be convicted of manslaughter, released on bail, and will be out of jail in four years, as no jury will convict a father for killing his daughter's abuser. She conducts and experiment with a fake hand and determines that Jody likely did burn herself with a curling iron like she had claimed.

Warrick is able to clean up the photo of Jody and sees what he believes to be the reflection of a porthole in her eye. When he asks Jane if her fiancé owned a boat, she replies that Russ purchased one after their divorce. He goes to the boat, takes some pictures of the porthole, and collects some evidence.

Catherine sits down with Jody and tells her what the team has discovered—her father used Mike's camera to take pictures of her, then planted the camera and pictures at Mike's place to implicate him. Jody says that she unsuccessfully tried telling her mother what was going on, but was repeatedly ignored. Instead, she confided in Mike. Catherine informs Jody that cases like this are difficult to prove and that her testimony in court would make all the difference; however, Jody refuses, saying that her father killed Mike and threatened to do the same thing to her.

Warrick comes back from the boat with some crucial evidence—a sleeping bag with both seminal and vaginal fluid on it. The DNA is from Russ and his daughter. Confronted with the crime, Russ tells his lawyer to make deal; however, he's informed that in the state of Nevada, sexual assault of a minor 14 years of age or younger is a mandatory life sentence with no possibility for parole.

Catherine tells Grissom he needs to take responsibility for his team and "lift his head out of that microscope" every now and then. He considers her advice and orders a plant for Sara with a card that says 'From Grissom.'


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Eric Szmanda as Greg Sanders
  • Robert David Hall as Dr. Al Robbins
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Terry Bozeman as Attorney Brad Lewis
  • Janet Gunn as Jane Bradley
  • Sara Paxton as Jody Bradley
  • Dan Byrd as Jake Bradley
  • Nancy Valen as Neighbor
  • Monnae Michaell as Doctor
  • Jason Beghe as Russ Bradley
  • Patrick Thomas O'Brien as Edward Cormier
  • John Rosenfeld as Child Advocate
  • David Sobel as Mike Kimble
  • Candice Cook as Nevada State Trooper (uncredited)
  • Roger Hamilton as Dog Trainer (uncredited)

Major Events[]

  • Sara feels that Grissom doesn't respect her when he doesn't know she's a vegetarian. She turns in a request for a leave of absence, but Grissom tells her that the lab needs her. At the end of the episode, with Catherine's advice, he sends a plant to her at the lab with the sentiment, "From Grissom."


  • I'm Just A Kid by Simple Plan


  • Sara's been a vegetarian since she stayed up all night watching a pig decompose with Grissom in Sex, Lies and Larvae.


  • The episode is inspired by the murder of Joel Schoenfeld by John Valverde.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 2
BurkedChaos TheoryOverloadBully for YouScuba Doobie-DooAlter BoysCagedSlaves of Las VegasAnd Then There Were NoneEllieOrgan GrinderYou've Got MaleIdentity CrisisThe FingerBurden of ProofPrimum Non NocereFelonious MonkChasing The BusStalkerCats in the CradleAnatomy of a LyeCross JurisdictionsThe Hunger Artist