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Deep Fried and Minty Fresh
Deepfried.jpg
Season 9
Number 13
Writer Corinne Marinan,
Sarah Goldfinger
Director Alec Smight
Original Airdate February 12, 2009
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Previous Episode: Disarmed and Dangerous
Next Episode: Miscarriage of Justice

Deep Fried and Minty Fresh is the thirteenth episode in season nine of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

Langston and Nick are called to investigate the murder of a fast food restaurant manager and have quite a task ahead of them when they discover that much of the evidence is coated in cooking oil. Elsewhere, Catherine and Greg investigate when a woman is found chained to a bed and killed by toothpaste and her husband is the prime suspect.

Plot

Victim: Bob Graham (deceased)

On the case: Raymond Langston, Nick Stokes, Riley Adams, Jim Brass

It is a bad night at fast food restaurant Choozy's Chicken: The signature chicken statue crashes through the restaurant's window and Bob Graham, the head manager, is found dead in the kitchen. Langston and Nick examine the area, with Langston noting that the floor is covered in oil. They also discover that someone has been living in the kitchen of the fast food joint. The two find a blood pattern that indicates a body was dragged outside, suggesting that there is a second victim. They follow the blood to the dumpsters and grease containers, finding a large amount of blood on the ground by the grease container. However, the container is empty and has been replaced by one for a Chinese restaurant. They also discover skid marks and a side mirror broken off from a vehicle.

Riley looks in the drop safe in Bob's office to see if the restaurant was robbed and discovers that there's $200 missing. The surveillance camera in the office has also been unplugged. Meanwhile, Brass talks to Kiwi Long, the usual night manager, who says Bob was covering her shift. She mentions an employee named Elizabeth Martin was closing up the night before, but that she has not been able to reach her. In the kitchen, Nick finds a smudged handprint on the fryer along with a bloody fingerprint. He also finds blood on a "wet floor" sign.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins determines that a strong blow to the head that severed Bob's spinal cord was the cause of death. There's a circular mark at the base of Bob's skull, leading Nick to think that the "wet floor" sign could have been the murder weapon. Nick and Langston get a lead with the side mirror, leading them to a frat boy named Max Stanton, who has a prior for assault against Bob. A former Choozy's Chicken employee, it quickly becomes evident to the two CSIs that the only thing Max is guilty of is theft: He was attempting to make off with the Choozy Chicken mascot in his truck but failed.

The team prints all of the Choozy's Chicken employees, but two are missing: Elizabeth Martin and Gary Comstock. Brass finds evidence that "Elizabeth Martin" is an assumed name, while Wendy finds Gary, a former drug addict, is in the system - and that his epithelials were on a razor found at the restaurant, indicating he was the one living in the kitchen. A flashback shows Bob finding out that Gary was crashing in the restaurant and getting killed for his discovery. Brass wonders by a drug addict would leave all the loose cash behind.

Mandy runs the fingerprints found next to the broiler but does not get a match to Bob or any of the employees. She matches prints on Elizabeth Martin's closing receipt to prints on the "wet floor" sign, but without Elizabeth's prints for a comparison, she cannot say for sure that they are Elizabeth's. Meanwhile, it's revealed that the blood Riley found in Bob's office is menstrual blood, but there's no sign a sexual assault or struggle took place.

The team turns to surveillance footage from the nearby Chinese restaurant's camera and sees several people getting out of a van and stealing a grease container. The plates are registered to one Timothy Rand. Langston and Brass go to his house in the desert and find him distilling grease into biodiesel fuel. Langston opens up the container from Choozy's and finds a male body inside. The man is identified as Gary Comstock.

In autopsy, and Doc Robbins determines that Gary was asphyxiated in hot chicken grease. There are antemortem abrasions on his knuckles, indicating that he was the one who attacked Bob, as well as a blood stain on his boxer shorts. Riley adds that Gary's tox panel was clean, meaning that he wasn't using anymore. Elsewhere, Hodges finds the remnants of glasses and nine 20-dollar bills in the grease Gary was dumped in. When added to the $20 that was found in Bob's pocket, all of the missing money from the restaurant is accounted for, meaning that there was no robbery.

Langston, Nick and Riley return to the scene and recap what they've found so far - Gary was dragged from the kitchen and dumped into the grease container outside. The blood trail leading to the container, as well as the blood on Gary's boxer shorts both belong to Bob. They wonder if Gary killed Bob or whether there was another assailant. Langston and Nick recreate the crime, with Langston pretending to shove Nick's face into the fryer. Doing so illustrates how Bob's glasses ended up in the fryer; they fell off as he was doing the deed. Nick sees that Langston is using his hand to give himself leverage; however, they note that the print recovered earlier doesn't belong to Bob.

Nick asks Mandy to run the print again and she does, noticing this time around that it is inverted because of pressure. Once that is factored in, the print proves to be a match for Bob. Brass calls Nick: INS has found Elizabeth Martin and determined she is an illegal immigrant. Brass questions Elizabeth, whose real name is Rosa Gonzales, and she tells him she was indeed closing the night Bob was killed. Bob claimed her receipts did not add up and forced her to undress so he could do a strip search. Gary walked in and caught him feeling Rosa up and confronted Bob. Bob went after Gary and Rosa dressed and ran out to find Bob winning the fight. She picked up the "wet floor" sign and struck Bob in the head. Gary told her to run and she did. Brass tells her the blow from the "wet floor" sign was not what killed Bob, but tells her that she's not free to go because of her immigration status.

So, who killed Bob? Langston, Nick and Riley ponder the question and Langston posits that without his glasses (which fell in the chicken grease) and suffering from a blow to the head, Bob's balance may have been off. He likely slipped in the chicken grease and tumbled backwards, hitting his head on the floor hard enough to sever his spinal cord. Riley notes that this is a "case of blind justice."

Victim: Melinda Tucker (deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Greg Sanders, Louis Vartann

Catherine  and Greg investigate the death of Melinda Tucker, who was killed handcuffed to her bed while her husband Scott, a real estate agent, was passed out drunk on the couch. A check of the mail shows that the house was being foreclosed on. Catherine takes the wine in Melinda's glass back for processing, while Greg finds two tubes of toothpaste in the trashcan.

In autopsy, Langston joins Catherine as Doc Robbins processes Melinda's body. The doc notes that despite Melinda being handcuffed to the bed, there is no sign of sexual activity. Langston notices an advanced gastric ulcer on the stomach. When the doc removes Melinda's heart and squeezes the contents out, a blue substance comes out which Langston and Doc Robbins describe as "fresh" and "minty".

The substance is later tested identified as toothpaste - approximately 12 ounces worth. Henry tells Catherine that one can overdose on toothpaste if it contains fluoride and determines that, based on her size, Melinda would have had to ingest at least one tube for it to be lethal. He also mentions that there were trace amounts of diphenhydramine hydrochloride in Melinda's tox panel, indicating that someone slipped it into her wine. Diphenhydramine hydrochloride makes one sleepy and also prevents one from throwing up.

Greg and Det. Vartann question Scott, who had the key to the handcuffs in his pocket. He has fallen on hard times and his wife had a large life insurance policy — did he decide to get rid of his wife? Scott claims that he and Melinda had not had sex in months, and also notes that Melinda was a dental hygienist before they married; she would have kicked him where it counted before letting him feed her a fatal amount of toothpaste.

Greg starts squeezing out the toothpaste from the Tuckers' home, but stops when Hodges tells him and Catherine that the toothpaste that killed Melinda had a bleaching agent in it, which the toothpaste the Tuckers had did not. Catherine and Greg return to the Tucker house but do not find any toothpaste with whitening on the premises. Greg notices a shoe mark on the fence and thinks to check the eighty-year-old neighbor's trash. He comes up with two tubes of whitening toothpaste, a pair of latex gloves and a missing antihistamine pill.

Back at the lab, Greg makes a startling discovery: the DNA in the gloves is Melinda's. She fed herself a fatal dose of toothpaste, spiked her husband's wine and then handcuffed herself to the bed to frame him for murder. Scott tells Catherine that his wife was deeply unhappy when his clients started to lose their houses and blamed the Tuckers. The clients she had socialized with and became friends with blamed her, and she blamed Scott.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

Goofs

  • When the CSI team is looking at the Choozy's Chicken that crashed through the window, the scene is reversed. The CC logo is backwards and the broken glass remaining in the window frame moves from the upper left to the upper right.
  • At the beginning of the show when Riley puts the ruler on the tile floor in the kitchen of the restaurant, the ruler changes position on the floor in between shot going from flush against the edge of the tile to crooked.
  • As Riley opens the safe, the door bolts start and stay in the deployed position. This indicates the safe door's did not start in the closed and locked position as the filmmakers would have us believe.

Notes

  • It is revealed by Jim Brass that he is a Vietnam War veteran.
    • It is also implied that Jim is not a big fan of the hippie subculture, since when he goes to the house of one of the suspects, he seems to have a certain disdain for things related to the hippie subculture, such as meditation, recycling and other things.
  • It is revealed in the episode that Raymond Langston is fluent in Mandarin.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 9
For WarrickThe Happy PlaceArt Imitates LifeLet It BleedLeave Out All The RestSay UncleWoulda, Coulda, ShouldaYoung Man with a Horn19 Down...One to GoThe Grave ShiftDisarmed and DangerousDeep Fried and Minty FreshMiscarriage of JusticeKill Me If You CanTurn, Turn, TurnNo Way OutMascaraThe Descent of ManA Space OddityIf I Had a Hammer...The Gone Dead TrainHog HeavenAll In
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