Season 13
Number 14
Writer Carlos Marimon
Director Jeffrey Hunt
Original Airdate February 13, 2013
Previous Episode: In Vino Veritas
Next Episode: Forget Me Not

Exile is the fourteenth episode in Season Thirteen of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


The CSIs investigate the demise of a famous Cuban singer’s sister who’s in town as part of a U.S. tour. Meanwhile, Hodges begins to get cold feet at the prospect of marrying his Italian bombshell girlfriend.


Victim: Marta Cuerto (deceased)

On the case: entire team

While Cuban pop star Silvana Cuerto rehearses on stage, a young woman is seen being beaten and tortured. Following the rehearsal, Silvana and her manager find the woman's body in Silvana's dressing room.

The woman is Silvana's sister, Marta; the body has been dressed in one of Silvana's costumes. There's no blood in the dressing room, so Nick figures the primary crime scene was somewhere else. David Phillips puts the time of death at six hours ago; he observes bruises on Marta's face and upper torso, and notes the presence of semicircular impressions all over the body. It's noted that there are only two ways in and out of the dressing room; however, everyone at the club was watching Silvana rehearse. Russell spots blood on a poster frame and removes it from the wall. On the back of the poster, the killer has written "Silvana, you're next" in blood.

Silvana tells Russell that she didn't see any unwelcome people backstage. She adds that she last saw her sister yesterday and that Marta does wardrobe for the show. Marta never received any threats; however, it's a different story for Silvana. Her manager, Antonio Ficha, tells Det. Crawford that Silvana has been receiving threats ever since she arrived to the United States from a group called Los Gusanos—Cuban exiles who want Silvana to go back home to Cuba or die. The group's leader, Eddie Santos, has followed Silvana and her crew everywhere. Antonio eventually reveals that he works for the Cuban government and is also Silvana and Marta's handler.

Greg and Morgan process the dressing room, finding black streaks on the floor and a trail of white fibers that lead to the door. The trail of fibers leads down the hallway to the back door of the club. Based on this, the CSIs figure Marta's body was wrapped in something and dragged into the dressing room. They soon find the sack stuffed in a trash chute.

Sara speaks with Estefan Meha, the club's owner, and is shocked at the lack of security cameras in the establishment, especially since members of Los Gusanos are protesting outside. Stefan tries to pin this on the exiles, saying that there have been frequent acts of vandalism since Silvana started performing at the club.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins notes that Marta has ligature marks on her ankles, bruising on her shoulders from an extension of the muscles, and bruising on her abdomen. The doc concludes that she was hog-tied and tells Finn about "la silla" ("the chair")—a torture technique commonly used by the Cuban police where they hog-tie someone, lift them off the floor onto a chair, and beat them into submission with a pipe. This would explain the semicircular cuts all over Marta's body. Finally, the doc shows Finn that he removed a piece of metal trace from the victim's heel.

The black trace found in Silvana's dressing room turns out to be motor oil; the same substance was found on the burlap sack used to transport the body. Marta's blood was also found on the sack. The metal trace comes back as a layer of four different metals; when combined, they point to a chrome-plating auto shop. Hodges tells Russell that there are only three chrome-plating facilities in Vegas, one of which is just two blocks from the club. The shop happens to be owned by Eddie Santos.

Inside the shop, Nick finds metal trace consistent with what was found earlier, while Brass spots a blood trail that leads to a back room. A bloody torture chair sits in the middle of the room; there's also blood spatter on the wall and a bloody pipe on the ground. Nick and Brass are alerted to the sound of a car pulling up outside. When Eddie emerges from this car and sees the cops, he unsuccessfully tries to run.

Blood from the room and the torture instruments come back to Marta, and the time of Marta's death coincides with the time Eddie's shop was closed for business. Eddie admits to following Silvana around, but insists that he would never kill anyone. Nick reveals that a rape kit was done on Marta; semen found traces back to a sofa in Eddie's shop. Eddie denies his involvement and readily gives up his DNA. When run, the results show that Eddie wasn't Marta's sexual partner; however, the profile is a second-order relative match to someone in Eddie's family, possibly a grandson or nephew.

Meanwhile, in autopsy, Doc Robbins determines that Marta's cause of death was actually poisoning, as her heart and brain are much larger than they should be and her lungs are lined with cherry red mucosa. He also concludes that the poisoning occurred at the same time as the beating. The cherry red mucosa is indicative of cyanide poisoning, but the doc doesn't quite know how it would've gotten into Marta's system.

Sara searches Marta's phone records and zeroes in on the last three calls she made, all of which occurred around a few hours before she died. Two of the numbers have a 202 area code, which Russell recognizes as Washington, D.C. When Sara performs a reverse lookup on one of the 202 numbers, the search comes back "Access Denied."

Marta's stomach contents show that she actually ingested the cyanide. It came from the cassava leaf, which is extremely poisonous if not processed carefully. Hodges explains to Nick that the killer force-fed Marta the cassava leaves, knowing that the glucosides from the unprocessed leaves would react with stomach enzymes to produce hydrogen cyanide. The cyanide was then absorbed through the stomach lining into the blood steam, eventually overwhelming Marta's system and causing her to suffocate.

Greg looks into the Santos family tree and finds something interesting—in 1973, Eddie served in the Cuban army with Colonel Carlos Cuerto, grandfather to the Cuerto sisters. One year later, when Eddie and two other comrades accused Colonel Santos of having dealings with the black market, the colonel had them thrown in jail, where they were tortured for six years by the colonel himself. Marta's murder may have to do with a family feud rather than something political. When Greg does more digging into the Santos family tree, he discovers that Estefan Meha, the club owner, is Eddie's nephew.

Greg and Morgan talk to Estefan in his club while Silvana rehearses on stage. He denies having any vendetta against the Cuerto family. Before he can explain how his DNA was found on Marta's body in his uncle's auto shop, Silvana suddenly collapses. She's rushed to the hospital, where Russell tells her manager that she's exhibiting signs of cyanide poisoning. The same person who killed her sister has gotten to her, too.

Under interrogation, Estefan says he doesn't share the same beliefs as either Los Gusanos or his uncle. He begins to tear up when shown a picture of the bloody torture chair and swears that he wasn't there when it happened. When pressed, he admits that he and Marta were in love, and the auto shop was the only place near the club where they could meet in secret. The two made love hours before Marta was killed, and Estefan says that she was alive when he left.

Silvana awakens in the hospital with Russell sitting by her bedside. He tells her that someone tried to poison her with cyanide, but she doesn't remember if anyone offered her any food or drink before her rehearsal. Based on everything that's happened, she laments coming to the United States and tells Russell to find the person responsible.

Hodges determines that Silvana was also poisoned with cassava leaves; however, she actually ingested pills filled with the poison. The theory is that she thought she was ingesting pills filled with justica pectoralis, an herbal remedy used primarily for relaxation. Hodges says that the Cubans call the drug "tilo," and Finn remembers that a bottle of it was found in Silvana's dressing room. It seems possible that someone who had access to the room could've spiked the pills. When Greg process the pills, he finds fingerprints that belong to Antonio, Silvana's manager and handler. It's also confirmed that the pills contained ground-up cassava leaves.

Ecklie contacts the State Department and finds out that the Cuerto sisters were seeking asylum. The sisters defecting would be bad news for Antonio, and the theory is that he killed Marta and left the threatening message for Silvana. Det. Crawford gets a call and is told that Antonio checked Silvana out of the hospital and brought her back to their hotel. The two went to the room and were met a little while later by someone matching Estefan's description. When Brass and Crawford get to the room, they hear crashing followed by a gunshot. Upon entering, they find Estefan dead, Antonio holding a gun, and Silvana hiding in the bathroom.

In the room, David Phillips examines Estefan's body, seeing that he took a few blows to the face before being shot in the forehead. A compound fracture of the right index finger indicates that Antonio possibly ripped the gun out of Estefan's hand. Greg spots a burlap fiber on the floor, as well as one in the air vent. When he searches the air vent, he finds a duffel bag with blood on it that belongs to Antonio. The bag is a full murder kit, complete with leather gloves, rope, and a plastic bag full of cassava leaves.

In the hallway, Silvana tells Finn that Estefan pushed his way into the room and started arguing with Antonio, accusing him of murdering Marta and poisoning Silvana. When Estefan pulled out the gun, she hid in the bathroom. Silvana claims that Estefan was only trying to protect her.

Under interrogation, Antonio tells a different story and claims the murder was in self-defense. He and Silvana were packing their bags when Estefan showed up and started accusing him of the murder and poisoning. When Antonio said he was taking Silvana home, Estefan pulled out his gun and pointed it at Antonio. Silvana hid in the bathroom while the two men fought for the gun, with Antonio eventually getting the upper hand. When Estefan charged at him, Antonio fired in self-defense. He also denies poisoning Silvana despite his fingerprints being found on the tilo capsules. When presented with the evidence against him (tilo capsules, bloody duffel bag, rope fibers), Antonio says that someone is framing him.

Blood on the duffel bag is a match to Marta, and the fibers found match the burlap sack used to move the body. The rope and cassava leaves are consistent, as well. However, no DNA was able to be recovered from the gloves, and a lambskin fiber was found in the bag. The lambskin has a particular acrylic dye recipe commonly used in the restoration of classic American cars—more specifically, a 1956 Chevy Bel Air. Eddie Santos drives the same car, but it turned up nothing when processed earlier. Russell goes through photos from the case and fixates on a one of Silvana posing in front of a 1956 Chevy for a photo shoot. He's connected the dots.

Records show that Silvana rented the car for two days, and an employee of the rental place says that she later rented it off the books for another day. Curiously, when returned, the car was cleaner than it was when it left the lot. Russell accuses Silvana of murder, figuring that love turned to hate through betrayal. He notes that it was Marta who called the State Department, not only to give Silvana a career, but to get closer to Estefan herself.

Russell theorizes that Silvana had loved Estefan since they were kids; when Marta got close to him, Silvana got jealous. The jealously soon turned to hatred. Russell tells her that she framed Antonio and poisoned herself just enough to make herself sick, but not enough to kill herself. He then plays some of Silvana's music, which are songs about love, loss, revenge, and redemption. It's revealed that Silvana called Estefan and begged him to come to the hotel to rescue her. She told Estefan that Antonio killed Marta, but her lies got Estefan killed.

Silvana breaks down and confirms that she had been in love with Estefan since they were kids, something Marta knew. In fact, every song she wrote was about Estefan. When Marta came between them, Silvana claims she had no choice but to beat her and poison her. Russell tells her that unlike her song, she'll find no redemption in this country.

In a separate storyline, news is still fresh about Hodges being engaged to an Italian beauty named Elisabetta. Ecklie confronts Hodges in the Trace lab and berates him for getting engaged to Elisabetta a week after meeting her. He's even more concerned about Morgan possibly looking foolish after going to bat for Hodges' character when she signed her deposition.

Hodges later tells Morgan that Immigration processed the application and approved it, thanks in large part to Morgan's recommendation. This means that he and Elisabetta have 90 days to get married; if they don't, she has to go back to Italy.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Marc Vann as Conrad Ecklie
  • Larry Mitchell as Officer Mitchell
  • Alimi Ballard as Detective Kevin Crawford
  • Sandra Vergara as Silvana Cuerto
  • Alexandra Manea as Marta Cuerto
  • Ignacio Serricchio as Estefan Meha
  • Antonio Jaramillo as Antonio Ficha
  • Castulo Guerra as Willie Santos
  • Jennifer Hamilton as Choreographer
  • Micki Duran as Dancer #1
  • Nolan Padilla as Dancer #2
  • Noel Bajandas as Dancer #3
  • Vaitiare Au-Harehoe as Dancer #4
  • Rodrigo Guzman as Dancer #5
  • Zuzano Lova as Dancer #6
  • Jeremy Barthel as Dancer #7
  • Rhapsody Violetti as Dancer #8


  • Kevin Crawford is now a detective. He was first seen in the episode Strip Maul, where he told Nick that he was planning on becoming a detective, something he obviously followed through on.
  • Morgan backing Hodges' character by signing a deposition to the fact occurred in the episode Double Fault.
  • When a look into the Santos family history is required, Russell suggests bringing genealogist Donna Hoppe in for assistance. Donna previously assisted the lab with two cases.

See Also[]

CSI:Las Vegas Season 13
Karma to BurnCode Blue Plate SpecialWild FlowersIt Was a Very Good YearPlay DeadPick and RollFallen AngelsCSI on FireStrip MaulRisky Business ClassDead AirDouble FaultIn Vino VeritasExileForget Me NotLast Woman StandingDead of the ClassShelteredBackfireFearlessGhosts of the PastSkin in the Game