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Let's Make A Deal
15-09-Let-s-Make-a-Deal-csi-41208576-800-533.jpg
Season 15
Number 9
Writer Elizabeth Devine
Director Brad Tanenbaum
Original Airdate December 7, 2014
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Previous Episode: Rubbery Homicide
Next Episode: Dead Rails

Let's Make A Deal is the ninth episode in season fifteen of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

The CSIs investigate a murder at the Clark County Jail after an inmate stumbles upon a body while running away from officers.

Plot

Victim: Bruce Grady (deceased)

On the case: D.B. Russell, Greg Sanders, Julie Finlay, Morgan Brody, Nick Stokes

In the Clark County Jail, inmates line up to get their annual flu shot. One inmate, Denny Morrison, begins to freak out at the sight of a needle. He soon overturns the vaccine table, steals pepper spray from a guard, and runs as far as he can to safety. Denny is eventually found in the laundry room and when he tries to go into a closet, he stumbles upon a dead body.

Nick and Russell arrive at the scene and are greeted by Detective Carl Brenner. Det. Brenner leads the CSIs to the body of Bruce Grady, who was in jail awaiting trial for armed robbery. Bruce was assigned to the low-risk medical module on the third floor because of liver cirrhosis, so his presence in the laundry room three floors below is a mystery. Nick sees that someone stabbed Bruce rather violently in the abdomen, and Russell notes that they have 2,000 suspects in lockup.

David Phillips puts the time of death at three hours ago, and he also finds a defensive wound on one of Bruce's hands. The blood drops on Bruce's clothes are gravitational; when combined with the blood on the bottom of his shoes, Finn concludes that he was standing upright while he was bleeding. Nick spots some blood on the sink's hot water handle and also finds a bloody towel nearby. Whoever tried to clean up the scene didn't do a very good job. The laundry cart has the initials "M.M." (Medical Module) on it, and residue inside matches what's on Bruce's hands. It seems Bruce hid in the laundry cart; however, lack of blood indicates that he was attacked after he got downstairs. The question is: did Bruce come down voluntarily or did someone force him to?

Greg and Morgan check out Bruce's cell. The cell walls are lined with pencil drawings, which explains the transfer on Bruce's hands. Morgan finds a file folder full of legal paperwork under the mattress and a "jail kite" in the pillowcase. Greg explains that the kite is a piece of paper with a message written on it that's folded into a triangle and attached to a string, which allows it to be passed from cell to cell. This kite contains a threatening message: "Liars don't last long in here. Watch your back."

Nick and Det. Brenner speak with Officer Elliott Woo, the guard in charge of the laundry room. He was unaware that Bruce was transported to the laundry room in a cart, and explains that he was three hours late to work due to an accident on the highway. Upon arriving to work, he took his laundry trustees down to the dock to unload it, leaving the laundry room unsupervised for at least 15 minutes.

The laundry trustee in charge of the medical module is an inmate named Wilbur. He tells Nick and Det. Brenner that he transported Bruce down to the laundry room under orders from someone else. Not wanting to end up like Bruce, he refuses to say who gave him the order, but he does admit to receiving a kite telling him to bring Bruce down to the laundry room during the linen swap. Wilbur adds that nothing sent by a kite is a request; if someone gets a message, they have to obey it. He took Bruce, who was drugged up on medication, down to the laundry room, grabbed another cart, and left. Nick gets a sample of Wilbur's DNA to eliminate him as a suspect.

Finn pulls Bruce's rap sheet and discovers that every time he was arrested, his charges got reduced. There's only one way this could happen: he was an informant who was making deals with the district attorney. When cross-matching cases where Bruce appeared as a witness with inmates who are currently assigned to the jail, Finn finds out Bruce was the star witness in the murder case of Lincoln Mayfield. Lincoln was recently transferred to the Clark County Jail after his case was overturned on a technicality. When Nick searches his cell, he finds a bloody shiv hidden under a mattress.

Ecklie provides Russell with Lincoln's case file. The "Snakeback Assassin" was suspected of over a dozen gangland murders, including the murder of a pregnant woman who got caught in the crossfire. Witnesses were afraid to come forward, and the district attorney never had enough evidence to charge him. Therefore, Bruce was used as an informant and put in a cell next to Lincoln. After a while, Bruce got Lincoln to talk, and he provided information that only the killer would know. Bruce's testimony in court got Lincoln put away, which would give him motive for killing Bruce.

Surprisingly, against his lawyer's wishes, Lincoln wants to talk to the police. He tells Nick that everything Bruce said in court was a lie, and that he never told him anything. Despite his hatred towards Bruce, Lincoln swears that he didn't kill him. In fact, he only wanted to get Bruce down to the laundry room so he could talk to him and straighten him out. Lincoln says that Bruce showed up wasted and started talking nonsense. After a confrontation, Lincoln admits to shanking Bruce, but says that one jab shouldn't have been enough to kill him. He adds that he wouldn't kill Bruce; he needed him alive so he could tell the district attorney that he lied. Bruce being dead hurts his chances of the case against him being overturned.

Medicine that Greg found in Bruce's cell earlier is actually identified as "pruno," or jail alcohol. Inmates make the concoction with the items available to them and let it ferment. This would explain why Bruce appeared to be intoxicated when he met Lincoln in the laundry room.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins tells Finn that the stab wound to Bruce's abdomen was about an inch wide and an inch-and-a-half deep. The stab wound didn't kill Bruce, and petechiae in the eyes indicates that he died from asphyxiation. Bruce was manually strangled, and finger-shaped contusions have begun to form around his neck. The inmate was stabbed, then strangled. It's illogical that Lincoln would strangle someone when he had a shiv, so it's possible he was telling Nick the truth about his encounter with Bruce.

Greg and Morgan go through Bruce's personal effects, and Morgan discovers a hidden compartment in the case file. The compartment contains a tiny, state-of-the-art recording device that Morgan notes won't be available to law enforcement until next year. She had also learned that one law enforcement agency was going to be chosen to test the prototype. But how did Bruce get his hands on it?

Russell speaks to FBI Agent Ben Parker. The agent recognizes the device, but refuses to say anything about Bruce or the investigation. Russell concludes that Bruce was also an informant for the FBI, and he tells Agent Parker that the investigation is likely the reason why Bruce is dead. The assumption is that Bruce was killed by the same inmate that the FBI is investigating; however, Agent Parker reveals that Bruce was actually investigating a guard. Not only was Bruce informing on crooks, he was informing on cops, as well.

Agent Parker informs Ecklie that the FBI is under no obligation to share any information about their ongoing case. He adds that an indictment is expected any day and doesn't want to risk a leak. The only way information will be shared is if the two cases somehow intersect with each other.

All the blood collected from the laundry room comes back to Bruce, including the blood on the sink. His blood was also on the shank, as well. Lincoln's DNA was on the shank's handle, which corroborates his story. The team knows that Bruce was actually strangled to death; however, epithelals on his neck come back with no hits in CODIS. Since all inmates are entered into the system, the killer is likely a guard.

Bruce was reportedly intoxicated at the time of his murder; however, his tox report shows that his blood alcohol level was only .03%. A half-dozen prescription pills were also found in his system, and all but one were on his medical record. Terbinafine, a drug used for skin infections, was also found in Bruce's system, and it's not dispensed by the jail infirmary. Someone with access to the outside must've slipped the drug to Bruce. Side effects include an unsteady gait and confusion, which would explain why Bruce appeared intoxicated. Deaths have also been reported in individuals with cirrhosis of the liver who took the drug. Someone was poisoning Bruce, but got tired of waiting for the drugs to take effect.

Officer Woo was conveniently absent from the laundry room when the murder took place, which makes the CSIs suspicious. When questioned by Finn, the officer once again says that he was at the loading dock for approximately 20 minutes. However, Finn notes that Officer Woo has been making monthly cash deposits to his bank account. Various inmates told Finn that the officer would look the other way if the price was right, and he admits to doing so in order to support his wife's shopping habits. Officer Woo says that Lincoln paid him $2,000 to stay away from the laundry room while he met with Bruce. Finn guesses that he's the dirty guard who Bruce was snitching on, and theorizes that when Mayfield couldn't kill Bruce, Officer Woo finished the job. The officer denies killing Bruce and voluntarily gives up his DNA.

Greg tests out the recording device hidden in Bruce's cell. According to the specs, the recorder can pick up voices within a certain decibel range, even if there's background interference. However, in the jail's laundry room, noise from the machines would make the noise interference level high enough where voices couldn't be heard. If the FBI was trying to record Officer Woo during his shift in the laundry room, then they were using the wrong device.

Officer Woo's DNA doesn't match the swab taken from Bruce's neck, so he's ruled out as a suspect. Finn scans Bruce's confidential informant files looking for links to any officers. One of the connections is with Det. Brenner and, as it turns out, he was also part of the Lincoln Mayfield case. In fact, the detective would've been in charge of putting Bruce in the cell next to Lincoln. Since Lincoln swore he never told Bruce anything, it's possible Det. Brenner fed his informant the information. When Nick looks up Det. Brenner's personnel file, he discovers that the detective is on three medications, including terbinafine. Det. Brenner was poisoning Bruce, and he may have also killed him, as well.

Russell tells Ecklie about the team's findings: Det. Brenner was using Bruce by feeding him case information then putting him next to suspects he wanted to frame. This would explain the detective's meteoric rise through the department over the last two years. Lincoln Mayfield's case was the most recent and the most high-profile, which may have gotten the attention of the Feds. Knowing the heat was on him, Det. Brenner started to poison Bruce. It just so happens that the detective was in the jail when Bruce was strangled, as he was conducting a lineup down the hall from the laundry room.

Det. Brenner is hauled into the station, much to the displeasure of Agent Parker. Arresting the detective could affect the the grand jury hearing and damage the FBI's case. This time, the tables are turned, as Ecklie tells the agent that the LVPD is under no obligation to share information. Under interrogation, Det. Brenner admits to "nudging" his cases to help pad his conviction rate; however, the reality is that he was framing them, which could lead to every one of those convictions being called into question. He denies killing Bruce, but does cop to poisoning him with the terbinafine. Bruce had been getting cold feet about Lincoln's retrial, and Det. Brenner figured that if Bruce was sick, the district attorney would be forced to use his previous testimony. When Ecklie brings up the FBI investigation, the detective seems to know nothing about it.

Getting a DNA sample from Det. Brenner appears to be a tough task; however, Russell remembers that the detective gave him his business card earlier. The DNA from the card is surprisingly not a match to the swab taken from Bruce's neck, ruling Det. Brenner out as a murder suspect.

Henry informs Russell that DNA from the Bruce's neck swab is actually a match to inmate Peter McCrone, who had been punched in the face during the melee earlier. Peter's DNA wasn't in the system because he was in county jail on a misdemeanor; his DNA was only collected when Finn interviewed him. Finn reveals that Bruce's earliest arrest was for sexual assault, which had been dealt down to malicious mischief. It turns out that Peter was the sexual assault victim 20 years ago.

Under interrogation, Peter recalls being molested 20 years ago in elementary school by Bruce, who was the janitor. Despite being threatened to keep quiet, Peter told his mother, and Bruce was arrested the next day. However, Bruce took a plea bargain and only got three years in jail. Peter tells Nick that he ran into Bruce in the laundry room and recognized him from his voice. When Bruce showed no regret for his earlier action, Peter strangled him to death and stuck the body in the closet. He then wiped up the blood and left the scene.

Peter was only in county jail on a misdemeanor for child endangerment, and he explains to Nick that he left his two-year-old home alone when he went to bring his wife home from the bar. The neighbors called the cops, which landed him in jail. However, the incident occurred a a month ago, and Peter was only supposed to be in jail for a day. The public defender apparently dropped the ball, which is why Peter is still behind bars. Peter asks Nick when he's going to get out, but the CSI regretfully tells him that it's not going to be any time soon.

In the locker room, Nick sits sullenly and thinks about the case. He tells Russell that Peter's child endangerment charges had been dropped, and it was the paperwork that kept him in jail for a month. Nick hints that he, too, was molested as a child, and he admits that he would've done the same thing if he was in Peter's position. Russell says that Peter's momentary decision to commit murder will ruin his life forever, but Nick states that Peter's life was ruined a long time ago.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Marc Vann as Conrad Ecklie
  • Larry M. Mitchell as Officer Mitchell
  • Anthony "Treach" Criss as Lincoln Mayfield
  • Grant Harvey as Pete McCrone
  • Ryan Devlin as Detective Carl Brenner
  • David Dean Bottrell as Bruce Grady
  • Jeremiah Birkett as Wilbur
  • Derek Webster as Agent Ben Parker
  • Charles Baker as Denny Morrison
  • Rich Ceraulo as Officer Elliott Woo
  • Bryan Friday as Prison Guard
  • Nolan Gross as Nine-Year-Old Pete

Episode Title

  • Let's Make a Deal is also the name of a game show originally hosted by Monty Hall. As of 2021, the show is hosted by Wayne Brady.

Notes

  • Nick hints to Russell that he was molested many years ago. This is referencing the fact that he was molested as nine-year-old by a babysitter, first mentioned in the season 2 episode Overload.
  • While walking through the medical ward, Greg notes that he just survived being in quarantine. This occurred in the episode Bad Blood.

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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