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Long Ball
Long Ball.jpg
Season 10
Number 12
Writer Christopher Barbour
Director Alec Smight
Original Airdate January 21, 2010
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Long Ball is the twelfth episode in season ten of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synposis

A former pro golfer is found dead on a golf course during a tournament, one day after his estranged son sets the course record for the course low score.

Plot

Victim: Russell Huntley (deceased)

On the case: entire team

At a golf tournament at Copper Glen golf course, professional golfer Rocco Mediate hits an errant ball into the woods. When he and his caddy go looking for the ball, they come across a dead body in a golf cart.

Doc Robbins arrives at the scene and notes the bullet hole in the victim's neck; however, no exit wound is found. He puts the man's death at approximately ten to 12 hours ago. Catherine has been able to find out that the victim's name is Russell Huntley, a member of the country club and a former professional golfer himself. Langston finds a club head cover saturated in blood and figures that Russell tried to use it to stop the bleeding; unfortunately, the cover acted more like a sponge. They realize that there's a club head cover, but no golf clubs. Catherine follows the cart's tracks up to the path, but they disappear there; the cart could have come from anywhere on the course.

Brass speaks with Russell's ex-wife, Michelle Nagano. Her stepson, Daniel, is playing in the tournament and beat the course record the day before - a record previously held by Russell. She recalls that she last saw Russell alive the night before at a party in the clubhouse. While Danny was being celebrated for breaking the course record, Russell was chewing him out for acting like he won the tournament. Michelle intervened and sent Russell home.

David Phillips x-rays the body, but is unable to find a bullet anywhere. He concludes that Russell wasn't shot. Catherine figures that the cause of death might be sharp force trauma and finds a fragment of black plastic. Hodges finds a bloody sportsbook ticket in Russell's pocket and is told that if the ticket is a winner, the casino is obligated to pay the next of kin. Before leaving, Catherine tells Hodges to find out what's on Russell's shoes in an effort to pinpoint where he was on the golf course.

In the garage, Langston, Nick and Sara process the golf cart. Langston finds medium-velocity blood spatter on the roof that he thinks could be cast-off. Nick discovers that the golf balls in the shag bag are Jupiter PTXs, but that the golf balls in the rack in the cart are Fuschidas, indicating that they could be looking at two different players.

Brass talks with Daniel, who confirms that he last saw his father alive at the clubhouse party. He also confirms that he and his father got into an argument about the course record being broken before he sent him home. Brass calls the course's management office and asks to speak with someone who was at the clubhouse bar during the party - preferably someone with a good memory.

Nick is able to recover prints from both sets of golf balls. Russell's prints on the Jupiters, while prints from the Fuschidas come back to both Daniel's caddy, John Dudek, and Michelle's sister, Erin. Erin is a student at WLVU and has an extensive rap sheet that includes public lewdness. Meanwhile, Catherine finds out that the fragment recovered from Russell's neck is from the shaft of a golf club.

Nick visits Erin, who's in her lab at WLVU working with lasers. He tells her that her prints were found on one of the balls in Russell's cart, but she doesn't know how it got there. Erin admits that she was also at the clubhouse party and also got into an argument with Russell. She tells Nick that she buys Fuschida golf balls for her step-nephew. When asked why she does that since the company already sponsors Danny, Erin replies that it's been a tradition for her to buy Danny a new set of balls for every tournament he plays in.

Hodges analyzes the soil and grass from Russell's shoes and is able to come to one conclusion: Russell was killed on a golf course. He tells Catherine that the three types of grass he found - bent, Bermuda and rye - can be found on both courses at Copper Glen.

Since caddy John Dudek's prints were on the balls in the cart, the team knows who to talk to next. Greg pulls Langston and Nick aside tells them that John used to be a professional golfer until he was busted for using performance-enhancing drugs - and that Russell ratted him out. A past interview shows Russell admitting to doing so, claiming that someone putting themselves ahead of the honor of the game is a disgrace.

Langston questions John at the golf course. He, too, is unaware of how his prints could have gotten on one of the balls found by Russell's body. John tries to reason that Russell borrowed some of Danny's golf balls, a notion that Langston rejects since Russell and his son weren't that close. When asked about the night of Russell's murder, John says that he and Danny went to the clubhouse party, then just hung out afterwards.

Langston, Nick and Sara try to track Russell's whereabouts and narrow the murder timeframe down to a 14 1/2-hour window. They also have no primary crime scene. Catherine interjects and reveals that the bloody betting slip shows that Russell bet $5,000 against his son's first round score. Nick thinks about it and says that before breaking the course record, Danny had shown no signs of being able to play that well. He theorizes that Danny was cheating, possibly with help from John, and that Russell found out about it.

Langston and Nick set out to prove the cheating angle, noting how difficult it is to do so when the cameras and the eyes in the gallery are always watching. The USGA's rules are extensive, leading the CSIs to figure that if Danny was cheating, he was doing it by messing with either the ball, his club, or his body.

Danny's clubs are confiscated and he's brought into the interrogation room for questioning. There, Brass shows him an old how-to video about golf that starred Danny and his father. Brass' point is that Danny doesn't seem to be too broken up about his father's death. Danny tells him that his father stopped coaching him when he was 19 years old, leading Brass to guess that he hired John to get back at him. Brass then accuses Danny of cheating and has Henry enter the room to draw his blood.

Langston tests the golf clubs, while Nick tests the balls; neither find anything suspicious. Henry informs them that Danny's tox panel also came back clean, leading the CSIs to wonder if Danny wasn't cheating, after all. As Henry leaves, he knocks over the case of balls, spilling them on the floor. It's then that Langston and Nick see that one ball is bounding way higher than the other. Nick tests the ball and finds that it's center mass is 20% harder than it should be, meaning that Danny was definitely cheating. Langston asks how it's possible to alter the ball without making a mark on the outside, and Nick concludes that lasers were involved.

Nick interrogates Erin and brings up a study that was done that exposed golf balls to focused x-ray sources. The scientists found that the radiation altered the composition of the cores, making them harder, which increased the distance per drive. Erin admits to juicing the balls, saying that giving them to Danny was John's idea. In a separate room, John tells Langston that he overheard Erin talking a few weeks back about the juiced balls and asked if he could get his hands on some. Erin agreed to do so in exchange for sex. John insists that Danny didn't know the balls were tampered with and only thought he was playing a great round. Erin says that Russell confronted her about the balls, but that was the last time she saw him. She shows Nick her alibi - a webcam set up in her lab that shows her and John having sex around the time of Russell's death.

After much hard work, Hodges has a breakthrough, finding fungus on some of the grass he's been processing. He tells Catherine that there are only two areas on the entire golf course that have the fungus, with one of them being a private teaching range that's currently closed.

Greg and Sara head to the range, where they find Russell's abandoned clubs, his jacket and an open box of Fuschidas. The golf bag is curiously missing a driver. Greg finds some red paint transfer nearby, noting that it's the same color as the driver head. He also finds the broken shaft of a golf club, but there's no sign of the head. Meanwhile, Sara finds some blowflies, and a test of the area comes up positive for blood.

A flashback shows Danny and Russell arguing at the teaching range, which ends when Danny attacks his father with the broken club. In interrogation, Catherine presents this theory to Danny and shows him that both he and his stepmother used their cards to gain access to the teaching range that night. Danny denies killing his father, but admits that they went to the range after Russell accused him of cheating. There, Russell proved that the balls were juiced, much to Danny's surprise. Russell told Danny that he had to come forward, something Danny refused to do. As he drove away in his cart, Russell stood on the range banging his driver on the ground and yelling that he was going to go to the officials. Danny tells Catherine that he never got physical with his father and that he was alive when he left. As he was leaving, his stepmother was driving up.

In a separate room, Michelle confirms to Brass that she was driving up to the range, but turned around when she saw Danny leaving. Brass theorizes that Michelle actually saw Russell with a golf club stuck in his neck, but decided not to call the police in an effort to protect her stepson. She denies this notion.

The prevailing thought is that either Danny is protecting Michelle, Michelle is protecting Danny, or the two of them are in on it together. The murder weapon has yet to be located, and with the assumption being that Russell was stabbed with the broken club, Langston guesses that the castoff on the roof of the golf cart came from Russell removing the club from his neck. Since they know where the golf cart crashed, they know where to start looking for the club. It's eventually found in some bushes and brought back to the lab for processing.

Surprisingly, the only prints found on the broken club belong to Russell, which exonerates both Danny and Michelle. Langston has Sara blow up the prints on the club and sees what appears to be a partial palm print. Based on the orientation of the palm print, he and Nick get an idea. Remembering that Danny said his father was banging the golf club on the ground, they use a golf-club swinging robot to mimic the action. With Catherine watching, they're able to get the golf club to break the same way it broke in Russell's hands.

The conclusion? Russell banged the club on the ground so hard that it broke. The broken head flew up and lodged itself in his neck. As he drove in the golf cart to get help, he removed the club and eventually bled out. The lesson learned in all of this? Don't drive angry.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Jorja Fox as Sara Sidle
  • Jon Wellner as Henry Andrews
  • Jason Dohring as Danny Nagano
  • Steven Eckholdt as John Dudek
  • Rosalind Chao as Michelle Huntley
  • John M. Jackson as Russell Huntley
  • Melissa Tang as Erin Nagano
  • Michael Eric Strickland as Rocco's Caddy
  • Jonathan Antin as Himself
  • David Feherty as Himself
  • Natalie Gulbis as Herself
  • Gary McCord as Himself
  • Rocco Mediate as Himself
  • Kevin Na as Himself
  • Duffy Waldorf as Himself

Quotes

Nick Stokes: You know, Ray - for somebody who doesn't like golf, you certainly seem to know an awful lot about it.
Dr. Raymond Langston: It's not that I don't like golf. It's just that you have to focus your mind, practically every fiber of your being, on a small, white ball that you want to hit just the right way. And then when you hit it, the feeling is exhilarating. And so you chase the small, white ball all day, so that you can hit it exactly the same way. You chase that feeling - kinda like cocaine. Not exactly the best hobby for an obsessive personality.
Nick Stokes: People like that you are better suited for a job in criminalistics, huh?

Music

  • Don't Worry Baby by Los Lobos

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 10
Family AffairGhost TownWorking StiffsCoup de GraceBloodsportDeath & The MaidenThe Lost GirlsLover's LanesAppendicitementBetter Off DeadSin City BlueLong BallInternal CombustionUnshockableNeverlandThe Panty SnifferIrradiatorField MiceWorld's EndTake My Life, Please!Lost & FoundDoctor WhoMeat Jekyll
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