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Dead Rails
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Season 15
Number 10
Writer Gavin Harris
Director Frank Waldeck
Original Airdate December 14, 2014
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Previous Episode: Let's Make A Deal
Next Episode: Angle of Attack

Dead Rails is the tenth episode in season fifteen of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

An ex-con buried alive in the desert is killed after being hit by a car. The CSI investigation takes them into the world of pool, high-stakes hustling, and prostitution.

Plot

Victim: Jimmy Turelli (deceased)

On the case: entire team

In the middle of the night in the desert, a man crawls his way out of a shallow grave. He makes his way towards the highway in hopes of flagging down a passing motorist; however, he's struck by an oncoming car and killed.

Greg and Nick arrive on the scene the following morning. David Phillips finds a blank key card in the victim's pocket and alerts the CSIs to the sharp-force wound in the victim's neck. The blood is mostly clotted, which means the injury happened hours before the collision with the car. Upon seeing that the victim's clothes are covered in dirt, Nick concludes that something isn't right. Sure enough, he finds blood drops on the side of the road. He and Greg follow the trail and eventually come across the shallow grave the victim crawled out of.

Det. Crawford speaks with Mary Haymond, the driver of the car who hit the victim. She claims that she took her eyes off the road for one second and that the victim appeared out of nowhere. After the accident, she performed CPR on the victim, but the revival was unsuccessful.

Back in the desert, Nick mentions that he located an all-gravel access road that runs parallel to the highway. This may be how the killer transported the body out there. Greg finds a green fiber embedded in the dirt, nothing that the victim wasn't wearing anything that color. Nearby, Nick finds a black-and-red snakeskin. He explains that the colors are indicative of the regal coral snake, whose natural habitat is Central and South America.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins notes the broken bones and lacerated organs the victim suffered because of the accident. However, he confirms that the cause of death was the sharp-force injury to the neck. A clear glass shard was found in the wound, and the doc also finds an odd bruise pattern on the victim's cheek. The injury has indentations with a distinct marking, possibly from a logo. Because traces of a metal alloy were found in the wound, the quick conclusion is that the victim was hit with brass knuckles. Finn enters with an identification of the victim: Jimmy Turelli, a recently paroled inmate with a long rap sheet that includes grand larceny and robbery. Jimmy also used to run numbers for Sam Braun back in the day. Between the brass knuckles and the body drop in the desert, the team could be looking at a Mob hit.

Traces of talc are found in the abrasion on Jimmy's cheek, and the alloy residue in the wound is identified as brass. Meanwhile, the green fabric found in the grave is worsted wool, a fabric used to make expensive suits. However, it's unlikely someone would make a suit this color. The glass pulled from the neck wound comes back as potassium oxide, the same thing fine stemware is made of. When Hodges mentions champagne, Morgan gets an idea.

Morgan rents a pool table and sets several champagne glasses on the felt. She then executes a trick shot, much to Hodges' amazement. With both Russell and Hodges curious about where this is going, she theorizes that the green fiber is cloth from a pool table, explaining that worsted wool is known as "speed cloth" in the billiards world. The bridge, used to help players in difficult shots, is made of brass and is the same shape as the bruise on Jimmy's cheek. Finally, talc is used by pool players to keep their hands dry. As for the champagne glasses, Morgan explains that trick-shot artists set them up and smash them with their sticks when the shot is successful. The theory is that the trick-shot artist ended his act with a flourish, leaving broken glass on the felt. Something happened that caused a fight, which led to the killer using the bridge as a weapon and jabbing a piece of broken glass into Jimmy's neck. Morgan also notes that there's a major pool tournament going on at the Palermo.

According to tournament coordinator Elise Massey, Jimmy paid the entrance fee for one of the players: Natalie Barrow, aka "The Hornet." As Natalie plays, Greg and Morgan spot that the hornet-shaped bridge she's using has a pattern similar to the bruises on Jimmy's cheek. When questioned, Natalie claims to not know anything about Jimmy's death. She recalls seeing him last night at the Vegas Rails, a pool hall where Jimmy bartended. He also owned the place before he went to prison. Natalie confirms that she performed the champagne trick shot, making $500 in the process. When told about the bridge being used to hit Jimmy, she says that she sells the unique bridges online and encourages the CSIs to take a look at the one she's using. She doesn't recall seeing Jimmy playing anyone the previous night, but does mention that he was excited about a midnight game he had set up, which he proclaimed was for the "stakes of a lifetime."

Morgan and Sara visit the Vegas Rails billiard club, finding evidence that someone left in a hurry. Jimmy's photo is spotted on the wall, so the CSIs have to be in the right place. Blood spatter on a pool table indicates that this was the primary crime scene, and the spatter pattern is consistent with arterial spray. A hornet-shaped bridge is found under the table; however, since it's property of Vegas Rails, it seems Natalie was telling the truth about making money on her design. A broken champagne glass with a bloody stem is also found under the table. There are circular marks left in blood on the felt, and Morgan guesses that a ball rolled through the blood pool. When no ball is found in the pocket, the CSI figures the ball in question was the cue ball and that the killer took it because his fingerprints were on it. A black-and-red snakeskin is soon found in one of the corner pockets, similar to what was found in the desert.

Finn discovers that the Vegas Rails billiards club is owned by a shell corporation. Because of Jimmy's background, it's likely the company has ties to the Mob. She then shows Russell a photo taken from the pool hall; the player in it is using a pool stick with a snakeskin grip. The player in question is Calvin Tate, a part-time pool hustler and full-time con artist. Calvin is a regular at Vegas Rails and records show that he paid for drinks the night Jimmy died. The drinks started flowing around midnight, so the thought is that Jimmy's high-stakes game was against Calvin.

Greg and Det. Crawford go looking for Calvin at his apartment, but are greeted by his wife Zoe, who says that he isn't home. She's shocked to hear that Jimmy is dead and says that she used to wait tables at the same place where Jimmy bartended. Calvin yells out and makes himself known, so Greg and Det. Crawford enter. When questioned, Calvin admits to beating Jimmy in a game last night, but denies killing him. He recalls hearing Jimmy on the phone with tournament coordinator Elise Massey; she had taken over management of the Vegas Rails club when Jimmy was incarcerated. The thought is that the two argued over the clientele that was allowed in the club, as Jimmy only wanted the best of the best to have access. Before they leave, Greg and Det. Crawford spot a bruise on Zoe's arm. Calvin clearly has been abusing his wife, but no charges are pressed against him for the time being.

Finn goes through the Vegas Rails' financial records, finding that $5,000 was charged for a single game of pool. She believes the argument between Jimmy and Elise wasn't about the clientele. When Morgan and Sara processed the club, they came across a notebook with a security code and a secret password for the Rails' website. When access is gained, a video is shown of Elise advertising scantily-clad women. Jimmy may have been unhappy that she turned his club into a brothel.

Under interrogation, Elise is told that what she's doing is illegal; however, with her connections in the mayor's office, she believes she can skate by. She tells Greg that she didn't kill Jimmy, as he was her friend; in fact, the two used to work "more closely." When asked about her whereabouts on the night Jimmy was murdered, Elise says that she was hosting an all-female trick shot competition at the Tangiers.

Finn discovers that the key card found on Jimmy's body is a condo security card. When Jimmy's place is searched, a few female hairs are found in his bed. The hairs belong to Zoe Tate, who insists that she wasn't having sex with Jimmy. She was staying at Jimmy's place to get away from her abusive husband, but it still doesn't explain why she lied earlier about not having seen Jimmy in years. Zoe explains that instead of taming Calvin, she became just like him. The two worked on a scam called the "Honor Hustle," where Calvin would find the richest guy in the bar. While Zoe would flirt with the guy, Calvin would play pool against him and lose on purpose. Finally, when the stakes were highest, Calvin would bust out his 'A' game and take the mark for a lot of money.

As the scams progressed, Jimmy feared that the duo was taking things too far, and he especially feared for Zoe's safety. Things came to a head the night Jimmy was murdered, as he and Calvin played their high-stakes game - for the right to take Zoe home. Jimmy ended up running the table and took Zoe to safety, which made Calvin irate. Back at Jimmy's, Zoe says that she heard him leave the place at 3:00 AM, presumably to go back to the billiards club.

Calvin's whereabouts are unknown, and Zoe claims that she hasn't seen him since the cops swung by earlier. When Greg and Det. Crawford go back to the apartment, they find it a mess. Calvin sits dead on the couch with a close-contact bullet wound to the forehead. Greg pulls a 9mm bullet from the couch, and David Phillips puts the time of death at just a few hours ago. Zoe has been in custody all morning, so she's ruled out as a suspect in her husband's murder. Evidence shows that the killer was looking for something, but came up empty. Greg notes that Calvin was a hustler and likely kept his valuables close to him. When he searches Calvin's hat, he finds a flash drive.

Back at the lab, it's found that the flash drive contains several lewd photos of Zoe performing sexual acts with some "Honor Hustle" marks. The style of shots indicate that a hidden camera was used, which means she could've been extorting married men, forcing them to pay up so their wives never found out. Calvin was in possession of the photos, but since he was broke, it seems Zoe had another partner. Greg and Sara theorize that Calvin found out about the extortion and wanted a piece of the action; however, Zoe's partner wasn't interested and killed Calvin to get him out of the way.

Morgan has had trouble recreating the blood pattern made by the cue ball as it rolled through the blood on the table. She discovers that the distance between the marks actually reduced by 1/100th of an inch with every revolution, something that would be impossible with a regular cue ball. Traces of bourbon were found mixed in with the blood on the felt, and she shows Russell a photo from the Vegas Rails web site. The club serves drinks with balls of ice approximately the size of billiard balls, and Morgan guesses that a ball of ice rolled through the blood pool. This would explain how it got smaller with each revolution and why nothing was found when she and Sara searched the scene earlier. She also points out that Jimmy got sober in prison, so whoever he was drinking with is the killer. The thought is that the leather pocket of the pool table not only absorbed the ice ball, but the killer's saliva, as well.

A piece of the pocket is cut out, and DNA on it comes back to an unlikely suspect: Mary Haymond, the woman who hit Jimmy with her car in the desert. As she had given Jimmy CPR at the scene, her DNA sample was taken for exclusionary reasons. Trying to save his life was her undoing.

Mary is interrogated by Russell and Det. Crawford. It's revealed that she's the president of the shell corporation that owns the club, as well as several other establishments. They're all fronts to launder money from extortion and prostitution. Her black book was also found, revealing that Elise worked for her. Finally, a photo of Zoe is with one of the marks is found on Mary's phone. Det. Crawford mentions that Zoe has already told them everything, and Mary opens up.

Mary states that she operates just like every other casino in town, "taking money from fools who smile while they're losing it." She denies killing Jimmy; however, her DNA was found mixed in with Jimmy's blood and the gun used to shoot Calvin was registered to her. It seems obvious that she killed Calvin because he wanted in on the action, but the question is why she killed Jimmy. Det. Crawford figures out that Jimmy had a change of heart and wanted out of the game. Mary admits that Jimmy found the flash drive with Zoe's photos on it and assumed that she was in on the hustle with Calvin. This led to a confrontation between the two, with Calvin denying any involvement.

Waking up in Jimmy's apartment, Zoe realized that the flash drive was missing and knew Jimmy had seen the photos. She got in touch with Mary, and a meeting was set up at the Vegas Rails. There, Mary offered to cut Jimmy in on the action, but he refused and threatened to call the cops, all in an effort to save Zoe. Mary responded by hitting him with the bridge and stabbing him with the broken champagne glass. Out in the desert, she buried Jimmy's body, but he wasn't dead yet. On her drive out of the area, she saw him standing in the middle of the road and floored it, killing Jimmy once and for all.

After Zoe is hauled away, Russell mentions that Zoe had lawyered up; therefore, she never said a word about her and Mary working together. Det. Crawford admits that he lied to a suspect in interrogation to get a confession - the best kind of hustle.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Alimi Ballard as Detective Kevin Crawford
  • Sharon Osbourne as Elise Massey
  • Alexandra Holden as Mary Haymond
  • Laura Wiggins as Zoe Tate
  • Bernard Curry as Calvin Tate
  • Melanie Liburd as Natalie Barrow/The Hornet
  • Christopher Atkins as Jimmy Turelli
  • Jonathan Stanton as Chinese Man

Music

  • Hello by Nadia Fay
  • Roll With the Punches by The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer
  • Left Hand Free by Alt-J

Notes

  • Jon Wellner (Henry) is credited but does not appear in the episode.

Trivia

  • Sharon Osbourne played Elise Massey in the episode. She's a well-known television personality, music manager, and author who is also married to rocker Ozzy Osbourne. Ozzy played himself in the season 13 episode Skin in the Game.
  • Elisabeth Harnois performed her own pool shots in the episode.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 15
The CSI EffectBuzz KillBad BloodThe Book of ShadowsGirls Gone WilderThe Twin ParadoxRoad to RecoveryRubbery HomicideLet's Make A DealDead RailsAngle of AttackDead WoodsThe Greater GoodMerchants of MenaceHero to ZeroThe Last RideUnder My SkinThe End GameImmortality


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