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Post Mortem
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Season 7
Number 7
Writer Dustin Lee Abraham
Director Richard J. Lewis
Original Airdate November 9, 2006
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Previous Episode: Burn Out
Next Episode: Happenstance

Post Mortem is the seventh episode in season seven of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

When an elderly woman is murdered, the CSIs look to the neighbor and nephew as possible suspects. Mid-investigation, Grissom receives an exact miniature replica of the current crime scene, changing his thinking on the crime. Meanwhile, Greg faces an angry courtroom when he attends a hearing to ascertain his culpability in the death of a teenager he accidentally killed while defending himself against a mob.

Plot

Victim: Penny Garden (deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Gil Grissom, Sara Sidle, Jim Brass

On a stormy night, retired cocktail waitress Penny Garden puts on a record, lights up a cigarette, pours herself some cherry liqueur and clips some coupons. As she gets up from her chair, the outside view of her house shows an intruder in the living room. The two struggle, with Penny eventually getting thrown through her front window.

Grissom and Sara are on the scene. She notices that there are coupons scattered on top of the broken glass, indicating that the killer went through the room after they killed Penny. Catherine arrives later and looks through the rest of the house. In the bedroom, she finds a bottle of lorazepam on the nightstand; the drawer is full of prescription pill bottles.

Penny's neighbor, Jason, tells Brass that he didn't hear any yelling or screaming the night of Penny's murder and that he didn't see anybody leave the house. He says that Penny has had somebody staying with her, but can only identify the individual as a skinny white guy who was always wearing white t-shirts and jeans. After speaking with the neighbor, Brass sees that the house across the street has security cameras. When told that nobody is home, Brass says that he wants an officer stationed at the house in order to obtain the video.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins tells Grissom that Penny's cause of death was exsanguination due to sharp force trauma to the carotid artery. He shows Grissom Penny's lungs; they're riddled with tumors, meaning that she was going to die soon anyway. Grissom notes that there were no pain medications in Penny's house and wonders if the killer took some with them.

Back at the house, Catherine finds a shard of broken glass by the back door, possibly left by the killer when they left the premises. Sara finds another bloody chard outside in the grass. She walks over to a hole cut in the fence and snaps a photo of it. In the front of the house, Penny's nephew, Henry, has arrived with her groceries and wants to see his aunt. Sara tells him that his aunt is dead and asks him to come down to the station to give a statement.

At the station, Henry tells Brass that he went to the movies, gambled, got groceries and came back to find out his aunt had died. He was staying with his aunt because his parents had thrown him out due to his drug use. Brass tells him that Penny's pain medication was missing, but Henry insists that he's now clean and wouldn't do anything to screw over his aunt, since she was the one that took him in.

Sara processes Henry's clothes and shoes, but finds no evidence of blood. The drug panel on his urine also came back negative. There were no pain medications in Penny's system, meaning that a lot of serious drugs are still unaccounted for.

The surveillance video from the house across the street shows Penny's neighbor, Jason, coming out of his house three times per hour to meet with different cars, a sign that he's dealing drugs. In the interrogation room, Brass shows Jason pictures of drugs that were found in his house, including Prevalis, which he's a little young to be taking. Brass says that this is the makings of a "Las Vegas Cocktail," of which one of the ingredients is Fentanyl, a very strong painkiller. He adds that Fentanyl is hard to come by. Penny had been prescribed forty per month; however, there was no Fentanyl found in her house. A flashback shows Jason entering Penny's house looking for the Fentanyl and getting into an altercation with her when she refused to give up the drugs. Jason denies this, saying that he got along well with Penny.

Catherine and Sara discuss the case, saying that both a drug dealer (Jason) and former drug user (Henry) both have motive for murder. There was no Fentanyl in Henry's system, and Sara wonders if he was stealing the meds from Penny and selling them to Jason. This would give both men motive. Just then, Henry arrives at the station holding a package that was left on his doorstep. Catherine and Sara look inside and see a miniature crime scene, similar to the one found at Izzy Delancey's house when he was murdered.

Grissom and Sara look over the two models, with Sara guessing that neither Henry nor Jason could have built something like these. As he goes through the model of Penny's house, Grissom finds a pillow with a picture of a bloody doll on it, similar to the first model. They discuss both cases and quickly conclude that Izzy and Penny have nothing in common as victims. Grissom questions why this model wasn't left at the crime scene like the first one was. He picks up the model of Penny's house and hears something rattling around in it. Using an x-ray machine, Grissom discovers that the rattling in the model is from a loose rock; under the rock, he finds something wrapped in plastic. At Penny's house, Sara locates the same rock and finds a syringe of Fentanyl under it.

Henry and Jason are interrogated separately and told about the buried syringe of Fentanyl. Jason admits to buying the Fentanyl for $50 a pop; a flashback shows the two making the exchange through the hole in the fence. Henry admits that he figured his aunt was selling drugs in order to fuel her habits - liqueur, cigarettes and video poker. When asked if anyone else knew where the drugs were, Henry says that nobody was ever over at the house the entire time he was living there.

Hodges walks in on Grissom while he's examining Penny's model crime scene again. Grissom discovers that there's glue on both the back of the doll and on the pillow on the chair, leading him to believe that the killer expected Penny to die in the chair. Hodges asks how the killer originally intended to kill Penny. Grissom focuses in on the liqueur bottle on the floor; he tries to pick the bottle up using tweezers, but is unable to as if it were glued there.

It's found that Penny's cherry liqueur bottle was poisoned with liquid nicotine. Grissom tells Sara that a cigarette introduces one milligram of nicotine into the system; the liqueur bottle, however, contained sixty milligrams. A dose that high, he says, would cause severe convulsions. Because of this, Penny staggered around the room, messing up the already built model, and the killer felt compelled to fix it so it would match what actually happened. This explains why the model wasn't at the scene originally. Sara says that liquid nicotine is available to just about anyone because of it's use a smoking cessation product. She adds that she went through Izzy and Penny's phone records and found that they had ten numbers in common, one of which is an untraceable disposable cell phone.

Archie pages Grissom to the A/V lab and shows him security camera footage from the neighbor across the street from Penny. A grainy video is shown of a man putting the model crime scene on Penny's doorstep. Archie notes that he doesn't see a delivery truck, and Grissom says that this was a personal delivery to their front door. The video then shows the man walking away from Penny's house.

On trial: Greg Sanders

Testimonies from: Nick Stokes, Sofia Curtis

Greg sits in a courtroom reliving the events of the night he hit Demetrius James with his car, which led to him being pulled out of the vehicle and beaten severely. The county coroner explains to the court that this is an inquest, not a trial, and that anyone can ask questions. Demetrius's family identifies themselves and Greg remembers seeing them in the hospital room adjacent to his when Demetrius died.

Sofia takes the stand and recaps that evening's events for the courtroom - Vasco Ruiz, Jessica Hershbaum, Stanley Tanner and Greg were beaten in separate locations, with Vasco being the only one who didn't survive. She adds that when she arrived at the scene, Stanley, Greg and Demetrius were all unconscious and that the mob had pulled Greg from his SUV and beaten him. A male juror interrupts the proceedings and asks if they're going to ignore the fact that a young, black kid was senselessly run over in the street. The question gets pushed to the side, but not before the juror glares at Greg.

Stanley takes the stand and goes through all of the injuries he sustained at the hands of the mob, adding that Greg saved his life. When asked by the male juror if he could see Demetrius attacking him, Stanley says he couldn't tell because there were hands on his face.

Doc Robbins is next to take the stand. He goes through the autopsy results, telling the court that Demetrius suffered a laceration to the head from hitting the ground when he fell. There was also brain swelling, as well as hemorrhages to the brain stem. Demetrius's official cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head following a motor vehicle collision. The male juror has Doc Robbins clarify that Demetrius's death was at the hands of another; in other words, it was a homicide. Doc Robbins apologetically looks at Greg.

Nick takes the stand next and shows the court the glass from the broken windows of Greg's SUV along with hair that was pulled from his scalp while he was beaten. When the rock Demetrius was holding is shown, the male juror asks if the cops planted it there. Nick defiantly says that were the rock to be planted, it would have been planted next to Demetrius's body. However, it was found near the front tire of the SUV; skid marks indicate that Demetrius was holding it when he was hit an dropped it upon impact. When questioned further, Nick defends Greg's actions saying that the mob was out of control and death was imminent. This gets a rise of Demetrius's family, who claims that Demetrius was going to college and had a future.

Demetrius's mother, Marla, and his brother, Aaron, stand in front of the court and speak glowingly about him. Outside of the courtroom, Marla and Aaron speak with reporters while Greg and Sofia speak privately. Greg tells her that he feels he should say something to Marla and Aaron, but Sofia tells him that he has nothing to apologize for. In addition, apologizing would be admitting that he's guilty, which could open him up to a civil suit.

Warrick discusses the trial with Nick, who tells him that they need to convince the jury that Greg did what any reasonable person would do under the same circumstances. They brainstorm and come up with the idea of putting the jury behind the wheel. The two CSIs head back to the scene and recreate the events. Using the computer from Greg's SUV, Warrick says that Greg was sitting idle with his foot on the brake and then accelerated for no more than two seconds. Nick recreates Greg's point of view and, in the limited time window given, concludes that there's no way Greg could have avoided hitting Demetrius, especially with Demetrius coming right at him.

In the courthouse bathroom, Greg exhales deeply and rinses his face off in the sink. Aaron enters and starts getting on Greg for killing his brother. Greg smartly doesn't say or anything or make any sudden moves. When someone else enters the bathroom, Aaron exits without further incident.

It's finally Greg's turn to take the stand. There, Greg reads from the transcript of his call for backup and recounts the events - he saw the mob beating Stanley Tanner and drove down the alleyway to try to break it up. The mob dispersed except for Demetrius, who picked up a rock to finish Stanley off. Instead, he ran towards Greg. Aaron stands up and interjects, saying that this is only one side of the story and that his brother can't give his. Greg continues, saying he was fearful for his life and wishes Demetrius had just run away. The assistant district attorney runs a computer simulation and shows the jury that Greg only had seconds to make a life-changing decision. The judge brings up the fact that Greg had gone to dinner earlier in the day with another assistant district attorney and had been drinking. Greg is able to prove that he didn't have much to drink and that by the time he reported for work, the alcohol had burned off. Furthermore, the incident in question occurred seven hours after his shift started.

The jury finds the death of Demetrius to be "excusable." Greg is off the hook, even though the assistant district attorney feels that the correct conclusion should have been "justifiable." Outside of the courthouse, different people give their accounts to the media. A reporter asks Greg if he thinks the verdict is fair; before he can answer, Stanley appears and calls Greg a hero for saving his life.

Back in the lab, Grissom allows Greg to take the night off and tells him he did a good job. On the way to his car, Greg hears a car engine revving. He looks and sees Aaron behind the wheel of the car, glaring at him. Before anything can happen, a man walks up to Greg and hands him papers, telling him that he's being served. The papers show that he's being sued for a wrongful death. After the man walks away, Aaron speeds past Greg.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Wallace Langham as David Hodges
  • Amy Aquino as A.D.A. Valerie Nichols
  • Archie Kao as Archie Johnson
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Vicellous Reon Shannon as Aaron James
  • Larry M. Mitchell as Officer Mitchell
  • Tom Pattern as Craig Russell
  • Lorraine Toussaint as Marla James
  • Willie Macc as Demetrius James (uncredited)
  • DJ Qualls as Henry Briney
  • Jim Beaver as Stanley Tanner
  • Randall Arney as Judge Clayton Trueblood
  • David Clayton Rogers as Bruce Ortolani
  • Kenneth Choi as Jason Tua
  • Michael Bofshever as Coroner Patrick Athens
  • Juliana Bellinger as Penny Garden
  • Omar Leyva as Vasco Ruiz
  • Jana Kramer as Girl (uncredited)

Episode Title

  • The title of this episode means "after death," and can refer to both cases. The miniature crime scene arrived after the death of the victim, as opposed to the previous crime and the inquest was about the death of Demetrius James and held after the fact.

Music

  • Lollipop by The Chordettes
  • Word Up by Willis

Quotes

Greg (to Sofia): This isn't a trial, it's a circus.
Sofia: Yeah, starring the mother.
Greg: I feel like I should say something?
Sofia: Like what?
Greg: I don't know.
Sofia: Sorry? You're gonna apologize to the mother of a guy who beat one man to death and was tryin' to do the same to you? That's as good as saying you're guilty and setting yourself up for one hell of a civil suit besides. You did nothing wrong.
Greg: I just wanna be able to sleep again.
Sofia: We put ourselves in harms way every single day and sometimes we pay one hell of a price for surviving it. Other people will never understand that.

Goofs

  • When Penny first falls through the glass, she obviously breaks it all, toward the bottom of the window. Then, her position changes and there is cracked glass in place. We then see several more shots of her, none of which have matching blood spatter or position of her body.
  • When Greg is asked to read the transcript of his radio report of the incident, it's not pointed out that dispatch advised Greg to wait for backup. Since departmental policy was called into question, this might have been a relevant point.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 7
Built to Kill, Part 1Built to Kill, Part 2Toe TagsFannysmackin'Double CrossBurn OutPost MortemHappenstanceLiving LegendLoco MotivesLeaving Las VegasSweet JaneRedrumMeet MarketLaw of GravityMonster in the BoxFallen IdolsEmpty EyesBig ShotsLab RatsEnding HappyLeapin' LizardsThe Good, The Bad, And The DominatrixLiving Doll
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