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Felonious Monk
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Season 2
Number 17
Writer Jerry Stahl
Director Kenneth Fink
Original Airdate March 7, 2002
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Felonious Monk is the seventeenth episode in season two of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

Grissom, Nick and Sara investigate the deaths of four Buddhist monks who were shot to death in their monastery near Vegas. Meanwhile, Catherine reopens the murder of an old friend during her dancing days when the man who was convicted of it dies in prison, maintaining that he was innocent. During the case, she finds out some disturbing facts about how her old mentor handled the case.

Plot

Victim: Four unnamed Buddhist monks (deceased)

On the case: Gil Grissom, Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle, Ray O'Riley

Four Buddhist monks are shot while they pray in their temple; all four are shot through their foreheads from close range, one at a time. Robbery is ruled out as a motive, as there are gold statues and a money tree that remain untouched. Grissom believes that the team is looking at a hit, and he soon finds a gang sign belonging to the Snakebacks carved into the wall. Nick observes the stippling around the victims' wounds and wonders why none of them fought back after the shooting started. Grissom concludes that they sat still because they were praying for whoever shot them.

While searching the premises, Grissom finds a discarded rifle. Meanwhile, Det. O'Riley questions Ananda, another monk. Ananda claims that he was at the bank making a deposit when the shootings occurred. Grissom notes that the temple is in a high-crime area and asks whether the monks have had a problem with break-ins or burglaries. Ananda sidesteps the question, replying that the past is in the past.

The temple's part-time cook, David Suddahara, tells Det. O'Riley that the temple's doors are always open; nobody has or needs a key. This is a problem, he says, as the monks were too trusting. He recalls that, a few months ago, gang signs were found spray painted on the back wall; however, no police report was filed.

Sara electrostatically lifts boot prints off the prayer room rug, even though shoes are not supposed to be worn inside a Buddhist temple. She also finds a bullet casing under the monks' prayer area, a trace amount of a blue material on a statue, and a wad of used chewing gum on another. Nick, meanwhile, finds a porn magazine stashed in a drawer in Ananda' office, which is strange since Buddhism discourages seeking pleasure. As they meet up to discuss their findings, Sara says that all of her gathered evidence is pointing towards the shooter being an outsider. Nick wonders why someone would shoot four people and leave the murder weapon in plain sight.

At the autopsy, Doc Robbins explains to Grissom that the area where all of the victims were shot corresponds to the Sixth Chakra. In Buddhism, the Chakras are the body's seven energy centers—each one has a color and vibration. The Sixth Chakra, also known as "the Third Eye," is the hub of higher consciousness. Grissom questions whether someone could be threatened by that consciousness; if so, it's possible the killer is a Buddhist.

Ballistics confirms that the rifle is the murder weapon, as a test bullet matches a bullet pulled from one of the victims. The rifle also has Ananda's fingerprints on it. When Ananda is brought in for questioning, he explains that he found the rifle in his office and placed it outside because his faith doesn't allow weapons in the temple. He also claims that the porn magazine was left in the temple by a visitor and that he kept it in case that person came back for it. Nick doesn't believe of any of this, but Ananda replies that the monks abstain from erotic behavior because it diverts them from the path of enlightenment.

A further fingerprint analysis confirms that Ananda never touched the trigger of the gun; the locations of the prints are consistent with his story that he only carried it. Nick suspects that the gang sign is a false lead; after a number of murders, the LVPD came down hard on the Snakebacks and brought the whole gang down. Through David Phillips, Grissom contacts a local Air Force base. Since 9/11, they keep satellite surveillance of bases and other key buildings. Because the temple is close to a base, it is within the range of a satellite. A photo shows a reflection of a car with the vanity plate "PROUDUS" outside the temple close to the time of the murders. The car is registered to Peter Hutchins Sr., a local diner owner who was unhappy with the monks having a temple so close to his establishment, blaming them for the drop in local stores’ business. Inside the car, Sara finds a set of prayer beads that obviously doesn’t belong to Peter.

At the lab, the CSIs learn that Peter Hutchins Sr. has an alibi for the murders and that he left his truck behind. This puts the focus on Peter's son, Pete Jr. Greg examines the blue substance found on the statue and determines that it's paintball paint. Grissom, Nick and Sara visit a nearby paintball field, where Pete is playing. Sara compares a shoe print left by his boot to the boot print found on the scene and sees that it's similar.

Pete is brought in for questioning, accompanied by his father, and denies having been to the temple. When confronted with the boot print evidence, he claims to have brought some friends in to look into the rumors that there was money and drugs inside. However, Grissom remarks that the lab's dust lifter only works on recent prints, which means he was there the night of the murder. Pete confesses that a friend took a gold statue from the temple when they were there the week before. He went there to return it and found the monks as he was taking off his boots. He didn't call the police because he was afraid that he would become a suspect. When Grissom asks how he knew he was supposed to remove his boots when entering the temple, Pete admits, to his father's disgust, to being interested in Buddhism and considering the monks his friends.

With Pete cleared, Greg examines the chewing gum found on the statue and finds trace amounts of curry and saffron in it. Grissom consults with Ananda and presents the lab's findings to him. The spices found on the gum suggest that someone ate them, then chewed the gum. Ananda shows Grissom the temple’s kitchen, the cooking of which uses curry and saffron. Det. O'Riley confronts the two with some new evidence: even though the monks raised ca. $13,000 for their charity project, Ananda only deposited $12 000 when he was at the bank. The account was opened the same day as the murders were committed. Before that, Ananda kept the money in a box in his office. Grissom examines the box and finds curry powder inside.

Suspicion falls on David Suddahara, whom Ananda caught stealing from the charity fund, which is why Ananda opened a bank account to keep the money safe. In interrogation, David confesses to the murders and Grissom confirms that his DNA matches that from the chewing gum from the scene. He thought Ananda was going to report him, went home, got his rifle and returned. Finding that Ananda was gone and fearful that he went to the police, David panicked and executed the monks, one by one. When Grissom asks him why he shot the monks in the Sixth Chakra, he only replies "I shot them between the eyes."

With the case closed, Grissom pays a visit to the temple and sees Pete Hutchins Jr. engaged in meditation with Ananda.

Victim: Stephanie Watson (deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Warrick Brown

Catherine meets up with Jimmy Tadero, her old mentor, at a bar. She brings up Dwight Kelso, who was convicted of killing her best friend, Stephanie Watson, during her dancer days. However, on a televised appearance from his prison hospital room, a dying Dwight confessed to killing a man in Reno, but maintains that he didn't kill Stephanie. Even though he had been seen harassing Stephanie at the bar that night and had a knife cut on his hand when he was arrested a block away from the murder site, Catherine still feels uncertain about the case.

Together with Warrick, she signs out the case evidence, which is due to be destroyed, and re-examines it in the lab. Stephanie's blood is found on the murder weapon, a bloody knife, while Dwight's blood is found on the knife's handle. When Catherine and Greg examine the knife more closely, they notice a small spot of blood that wasn’t examined at the time of the murder. Catherine figures that it was ignored because the lab couldn’t get a DNA sample from such a small amount. However, now, the lab is capable of replicating DNA a million times, even from the most minute sample.

When the test results come back, they show that the small blood spot is from an unidentified male, not Dwight or Stephanie. Ecklie is initially a bit angry that the evidence was signed out without his knowledge, but gets onboard when he learns of the new evidence. In the display room, Warrick goes over the crime scene photos and notices that a glove that belonged to Dwight and was found at the scene isn't in a single crime scene photo or sketch; however, it's in an evidence bag. Catherine becomes suspicious when she learns that it was logged in by Jimmy—two days after the murder.

Catherine takes Jimmy to the crime scene to go over the events again. He shows her the dumpster by which the glove was found, claiming the arresting officer didn’t see the glove because it was dark and he was busy grabbing Dwight. Jimmy is offended when Catherine asks whether he tampered with the evidence in order to make things fit.

Back at the lab, Warrick runs more tests on the knife and finds remains of saliva in the blood on both the glove and the knife—Dwight's saliva. Catherine suspects that the blood came from a mouth injury and was then transferred from the glove onto the knife. She confronts Jimmy, who recalls that Dwight bragged about stabbing Stephanie, but Catherine says that criminals frequently brag about things they didn't do. Dwight had a history of roughing up girls and a knife cut on his hand; however, the District Attorney released him. So, Jimmy admits that he "helped the evidence along." Catherine brings up the fact that Jimmy was in love with Stephanie and even proposed to her. She turned down the proposal and was murdered less than a week later. An incensed Jimmy refuses to give a blood sample without a warrant.

When the DNA test results come back, Jimmy is brought in for questioning. The test proves that the blood on the knife isn't his, nor is it a match to anyone connected to the case or anyone in CODIS. Jimmy is guilty of putting a man away for life and on planted evidence, and he's furious when he learns that Catherine will make sure he's prosecuted to the full extent of the law, even though he could get life in prison or even the death penalty. He calls Catherine ungrateful, saying she would have started prostituting herself if he hadn’t gotten her out of dancing. Catherine rebuts this, saying she earned her career as a CSI and only danced. She remarks that Jimmy sold his integrity to get a case solved and because of that, the real killer got away with it. She asks "Between the two of us, who’s the whore?" She promises to see Jimmy all the way through his proceedings and has him arrested.

In the final scene of the episode, Catherine returns the Stephanie Watson evidence to storage and marks the box "DO NOT DESTROY–CASE UNSOLVED." She hangs her head in disappointment at the outcome.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Eric Szmanda as Greg Sanders
  • Robert David Hall as Dr. Al Robbins
  • Skip O'Brien as Detective Ray O'Riley
  • Marc Vann as Conrad Ecklie
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Bruce McGill as Jimmy Tadero
  • Marshall Bell as Peter Hutchins Sr.
  • Aaron Paul as Peter Hutchins Jr.
  • Nicholas Sadler as Dwight Kelso
  • Randy Thompson as Col. Isaac Phillips
  • Mark Dacascos as Ananda
  • Jusak Bernhard as David Suddahara
  • Michael Delano as Ted Benton
  • Koji Kataoka as Monk #2
  • Steven Kozlowski as Tommy
  • Kimberly Lyon as Stephanie Watson
  • Gregory Onga as Monk #3
  • Woon Young Park as Monk #1
  • Eck Stone as Monk #4
  • Troy Remelski as Peter's Friend (uncredited)

Episode Title

  • Felonious Monk appears to be a subtle reference to Jazz musician Thelonious Sphere Monk. He is considered one of the greatest jazz musicians, and is a founder of the sub-genre of jazz called "bebop." Additionally, "felonious" means "related to crime" and refers to the investigation in this episode of the Buddhist monk that is suspected for the murder of his fellow monks. 

Music

  • Green Onions by Booker T. & The M.G.'s
  • I Just Want to Make Love to You by Foghat
  • Gimme All Your Lovin' by ZZ Top

Notes

  • Paul Guilfoyle (Brass) is credited but does not appear in the episode.
  • Gil Grissom has good knowledge about Buddhism.
  • David Phillips' father is a Colonel at Nellis Air Force Base.
  • During the first bar scene with Jimmy and Catherine, he mentions Roy Logan and the events in The Finger.
  • This is reminiscent of the Waddell Temple Shooting in 1991 where 9 were killed.

Trivia

  • A young Aaron Paul plays Peter Hutchins Jr. in this episode. Years later, Paul would go on to have his breakout role as Jesse Pinkman in the hit AMC show Breaking Bad. Paul would also play Ben Gordon in the CSI: Miami episode Grave Young Men the following year.
  • Bruce McGill, who played Jimmy Tadero, has a long list of acting credits, most notably Daniel Simpson "D-Day" Day in the movie Animal House.

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
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