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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
Navigation
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 However, the container is empty and has been replaced by one for a Chinese restaurant.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.

With all of their leads exhausted, Langston, Nick and Riley are left at dead end. Whilst they have cleared every witness, solved the mystery of what happened to Gary, Elizabeth Martin and the missing money, the ultimate question still hangs over them; who killed Bob? As the others eat, Langston studies the crime scene photo's again and comes up with a new theory. What if nobody else was involved and the killer was staring them in the face the entire time? Examining Bobs records, he notes that without his glasses (which fell into the chicken grease) Bob would have barely been able to see anything. This coupled with the heavy blow to the head, may have left his balance offset. Combine those with the wet floor and you get the following result; Bob simply slipped over backwards and hit his head with enough force to sever his spinal cord.

Nick and Riley both agree that the evidence supports this hypothesis. Having found their killer, Riley notes that this is a "case of blind justice." In response to Langstons question about the paperwork, Nick says they don't need to list any suspects, Bob's death "was an accident."

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. He also notes that Melinda was a dental hygienist before they married and would have kicked him where it counted before letting him feed her a fatal amount of toothpaste. Naturally of course, nobody believes him and by all accounts, this is looks to be an open and shut case.

In the lab, Greg starts squeezing out the toothpaste from the Tuckers' home, with Caherine soon joining in. They stop however, when Hodges informs them that the toothpaste that killed Melinda had a bleaching agent in it, whilst the toothpaste found at crime scene did not. Catherine and Greg return to the Tucker house, but do not find any toothpaste with whitening on the premises. In the garden, Greg notices a mark on the fence, which turns out to be shoe rubber, meaning someone climbed it. Suspicious he goes next door, where the eighty-year-old neighbor gives him permission to search her trash. He quickly comes up with two tubes of whitening toothpaste, a pair of latex gloves and the missing antihistamine pill. The investigators have their evidence. Now all they need is to run the appropriate tests to guarentee the conviction.

However, when the results come back, the investigators are in for a shock. The DNA from inside the gloves turns out not to be Scott Tucker's, but Melinda's. In an instant, the case turns from a homicide investigation to a suicide and set up. Catherine does not believe it at first, arguing that Melinda may have tried to frame her husband for a poisoning and that her death was accidental. Greg however, points out that as a dental hygenist, Melinda would have known about the dangers of floride toothpaste and the appropriate dosage she needed to ingest. With this in mind, the pair are able to reconstruct Melinda's final hours.

Having spiked her husbands own drinks, Melinda waited until he was unconcious, then began her final act to set her husband up for murder. Wearing gloves so as to leave no fingerprinst, Melinda laced her own wine with antihistamine, then deliberately ingested some. She then threw the two empty tubes of fluoride toothpaste into the trash, before feeding herself the lethal dose of toothpaste. Whether by accident or intention though, Melinda made the mistake of using a toothpaste different to the one she had previously put in the trash can. Going downstairs, Melinda slipped the handcuff key into the unconcious Scott's pocket, so that when the police arrived, he would be the prime suspect. She then went into the garden, climbed the fence and disposed of the evidence in the neighbors trash, thinking no one would look for it there. Returning to the house, Melinda then went back upstairs, where she handcuffed herself to the bed. With the key downstairs and no chance of escape, she then lay back and waited for the inevitable.

Catherine meets with the now vindicated Scott and tells him what happened to Melinda. She cannot help but wonder though, what did Scott do to make his wife hate him so much that she was prepared to kill herself and frame him for it? Scott reveals that it all goes back to their failed real estate business. He and Melinda were once a very successful pair. Melinda handled the sales part of the business, whilst he took care of the financing. However, the one thing they differed on was their interactions with the customers. Having worked in real estate all his life, Scott kept his distance, maintaining a stricty professional relationship with his clients. Melinda on the other hand, was much more sociable and outgoing. Despite Scott's urgings and protests, she started hanging out with the buyers, going to their parties and other socials. This is in turn, caused the clients to befriend Melinda.

This simple act, ultimately came back to bite the Tuckers big time. When the laws on the NINJA loans changed, many of their former clients could no longer afford to pay for the houses they had bought. Under threat of eviction, they turned to Melinda and her husband for help, one which the Tucker's simply could not offer. This not only cost the Tucker's these peoples friendship, it resulted in several lawsuits, which in turn led the downfall of their business and left the Tucker's hopelessly in debt. Although Melinda was sympathetic to the people she'd befriended, Scott was more concerned about their own problems, which he blamed his wife for. He stated that if she had just listened to him, none of this would ever have happened.

Catherine realises that this is when the couples marriage started to fail and Melinda's hatred for Scott was born. The latter confirms this, stating they couldn't bare to look at each other afterwards, but due to their circumstances were not in a position to divorce or get themselves out of trouble. Scott notes that while Melinda tried to kill him a couple of times, he never thought that she would do anything as extreme as this. The case closes with Scott cursing his deceased wife. Thanks to the investigators dilligence and a small oversight on her part though, Melinda's set up scheme has failed, leaving her husband free to go and start his life over.

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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