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Random Acts of Violence
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Season 3
Number 13
Writer Danny Cannon,
Naren Shankar
Director Danny Cannon
Original Airdate January 30, 2003
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Previous Episode: Got Murder?
Next Episode: One Hit Wonder

Random Acts of Violence is the thirteenth episode in Season Three of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

When the nine-year-old daughter of Warrick's former mentor is killed in a drive-by shooting, Warrick lets his emotions lead him to assume a suspect is guilty without looking at the evidence. Meanwhile, Nick investigates when a man is found dead in a sealed computer room. All three of the company's employees had reason to kill him, but none of them claim to have seen a thing.

Plot

Victim: Aimee Phelps (deceased), Jason Gilbert (alive)

On the case: Gil Grissom, Warrick Brown, Jim Brass

As Matt Phelps is putting his two kids, Aimee and Travis, to bed, a drive-by shooting occurs. Matt and his son are able to hit the deck in time; however, nine-year-old Aimee is shot and killed in her bed.

Upon arriving on the scene with Grissom, Warrick confirms that he grew up in the neighborhood; in fact, his grandmother still lives down the street. He also recognizes some onlookers on the other side of the yellow tape. Jason Gilbert, an innocent bystander who was saying goodnight to his girlfriend, was shot in the drive-by, but will survive. When Brass says that the victim is Aimee Phelps, Warrick immediately recognizes the last name and rushes inside to console Matt. Grissom enters the house and observes a bullet hole in the living room bookcase. He makes his way to the bedroom, eventually finding Aimee's body with a bullet wound in her neck. Warrick soon joins him, but is visibly distraught by the night's events. When Grissom asks him if he'll be able to handle the case, Warrick grimly replies "I want this case."

Warrick tells Grissom that Matt had items stolen from his trophy case a week earlier. They observe a brick wall full of bullet holes. Grissom states that the bullets shed their jackets after they hit the glass window and disintegrated on impact with the wall, which means the only useful bullet is the one that's inside Aimee.

Brass tells Warrick that Jason wasn't too popular in the neighborhood, as he had gotten in a fight down the street the week before. Warrick notes that Matt heard tires screech and he sees that the bullets were shot from right to left. He and Brass follow the trail down the street to find an overturned mailbox on the corner. When they stand it upright, Brass notices that the dent in it is high enough to have come from an SUV or truck hitting it. Warrick spots silver paint transfer on it, as well. An officer interrupts and tells them that someone was found at a bar two blocks away brandishing an automatic weapon. The person is being held at the site.

They interview a bartender who says the person in custody is a constant troublemaker. When the bartender refused to serve him, the patron opened his jacket and revealed his gun. The troublemaker is revealed to be Gene Jacobs, and Warrick says he used to go school with Gene before Gene got kicked out. Warrick tests him for gun shot residue, but tells him he'll take it back to the lab first instead of testing it right then and there.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins tells Grissom that the bullet entered Aimee through her throat and severed her spinal column, adjacent to the brain stem. Hitting it resulted in almost immediate death. The 9mm bullet pulled from Aimee has wood splinters embedded in the jacket due to its journey through the bookcase. Grissom stops by the ballistics lab and supplies Bobby Dawson with the bullet pulled from Aimee. Bobby compares it to a test bullet and confirms that the bullet that killed Aimee came from Gene's gun.

In the interrogation room, Brass asks Gene about Jason Gilbert. Gene claims to not recognize the name, but according to Jason's girlfriend, Gene had been stalking her. To the belief of no one, Gene insists that he found the gun lying on the ground. The gun was jammed, so he cleared it. When told that he used the gun to shoot up the Phelps home, Gene says the bullet in the gun was the only one; he threatened the bar owner with an empty gun. Gene also tells Brass he can show him where he found the gun—in an alleyway by a big yellow dumpster. Watching the interrogation through the window, Warrick immediately concludes that Gene is lying. However, Grissom points out that they only found a small amount of gunshot residue on Gene's hands, so he could be telling the truth. This information doesn't sway Warrick's opinion.

Gene's apartment is searched, and boxes of unopened electronic equipment are confiscated by the police; the stuff is likely stolen. No guns or ammo was found, but they did find Gene's car keys. Grissom and Warrick only find empty beer cans inside Gene's car; however, Warrick notes that the car is the right height and color to match the one that hit the mailbox. There's no visible paint transfer to reach a definite conclusion, though.

Warrick pays Matt a visit at the rec center he operates. Matt is painting over a gang symbol that Warrick doesn't recognize, and Matt says it's hard to keep up with all of the different gangs. He adds that they've had several break-ins recently and tells Warrick that the rec center van was stolen a few days before; Warrick offers to look into the theft. When Warrick asks Matt if there's anything he can do, Matt requests five minutes alone with Aimee's shooter.

Warrick gets a call from Grissom and is told that Gene had an alibi for the night of the shooting. Warrick returns to the lab; however, he has brought Matt with him. Grissom knows that this isn't a good idea. He tells Warrick that Gene's alibi is David Ardis, who was with Gene the night of the drive-by. David says he dropped Gene off at the bar and that he also saw Gene find the gun. Warrick notes that David has bloodshot eyes and is wearing the same clothes he slept in—he's a junkie. Brass arrives and tells them that a witness can place David and Gene at a store buying a baseball bat and that David has the receipt to prove it. Since the evidence is flimsy, the district attorney decided not to press charges. As Gene is getting released, an irate Matt charges at him and has to be held back by Warrick. Gene will be put in protective custody to avoid repercussions in the community, but Brass asks Grissom what their plan is with Warrick, who's already way too involved with the case.

While processing Gene's car, Warrick notices a hollow spot behind the back seats. He pulls the seats forward to reveal a hiding spot. In the spot is a bag filled with all of the stolen trophies from Matt's house. Warrick brings the evidence to Grissom, who tells him that the evidence needs to be tagged and cataloged. All evidence is pointing to Gene, and Warrick says that Gene shot Aimee in the head and is walking around laughing at them. Grissom asks Warrick if he can prove that, and Warrick angrily replies that he's been putting people like Gene away for years. The job, Grissom says, is to process evidence objectively and without prejudice. As others in the lab look on, an irate Warrick tells Grissom that he's a robot; Warrick, on the other hand, actually cares about the victims and their families. Grissom responds by removing Warrick from the case. When told he'll have a new case the next day, Warrick tells Grissom to "keep it."

Grissom searches the alleyway by the yellow dumpster, looking for any evidence to help with the case. Two police officers roll up and tell him that they're investigating a possible burglary and that the homeowners are on vacation. As the officers ponder how to get into the yard, Grissom finds the control that mechanically opens the gate. It's then that he notices that one of the spires on top of the gate is bent. He envisions it being bent by the gun when it was thrown over the gate. On the ground, he finds a bullet with a dent in it.

In the lab, he brings the bullet to Jacqui Franco and says he believes the bullet got jammed in the gun. He tells her the bullet has never been fired nor exposed to the heat. Grissom is hoping that there is a recoverable print on the bullet.

Warrick tries to contact the Assistant District Attorney on the phone, but is unable to. However, he lies to the secretary in order to get Gene's new address. Warrick pays Gene a visit and tells him that they can at least get him for robbery. He threatens Gene by telling him that, by the time Gene is put in jail, everyone on the block will know he killed a nine-year-old girl. Gene responds by making fun of Warrick's schoolboy persona. He says that he's not afraid of Warrick, and the CSI dares him to step outside.

Gene is next seen in the hospital with multiple facial fractures. The doctor tells Brass that the assailant used only their fists; if they had used a weapon, Gene would be dead. Brass calls the Assistant District Attorney with this information and reveals that they're the only two people who knew Gene's new address.

Grissom shows Warrick a bunch of photos documenting Gene's injuries. Warrick gets the stare down from Grissom, but he denies any involvement; however, he shares that he'd like to shake the hand of Gene's attacker. Grissom hands Warrick his new assignment: find out who put Gene in the hospital with these injuries. There's a pattern in the center of one of Gene's contusions; identifying the pattern could help identify the assailant.

When questioned by Warrick in his home, Matt claims to have been home all night. Warrick looks at Matt's hands and sees that the championship ring he's wearing is a match to the wound on Gene's face. Matt admits to following Warrick to Gene's motel room and beating Gene up, saying he had a good night's sleep afterwards. Warrick tells him he has no choice but to arrest him and bring him to the police station. The neighborhood sadly watches Matt get put in the back of a patrol car. An officer tells Warrick that they have located the stolen van from the rec center.

The van is found abandoned next to a highway. Upon searching the vehicle, Warrick finds shell casings in the back seat. Grissom sees blue paint transfer on the van's bumper, likely from the mailbox. He puts two and two together and believes that Gene lied about where he found the gun so that the police couldn't tie him to the break-ins in the neighborhood. Other than that, Gene was telling the truth. A flashback shows Gene breaking into one of the houses when the gun was thrown over the gate by the passing van. Gene picked up the gun and cleared it. They go over the van and Warrick finds a stick from a lollipop under one of the front seats.

Jacqui is able to pull a thumbprint from the bullet that's a match to Tyrel Constantine, a 15-year-old who had been arrested the previous year for joyriding. Under interrogation, Tyrel tells Brass that he's never heard of Jason Gilbert and claims that he never shot anybody. Grissom disagrees. In another room, Warrick mentions Tyrel's name to Matt, who tells him that Tyrel used to hang out at the rec center until he lost his privileges a few weeks before.

Grissom tells Tyrel that it was his saliva on the lollipop stick found in the van and his thumbprint on the bullet. Tyrel admits that he shot up the Phelps home just to scare Matt; killing Aimee was an accident. He was upset with Matt that he had been embarrassed in front of his friends when he got kicked out of the rec center. Jason Gilbert was collateral damage.

Matt tells Warrick that he gave up on Tyrel; if he hadn't, Aimee would still be alive. Warrick replies that Tyrel gave up on himself. As a handcuffed Matt is led away, Warrick tells Grissom that he blew it. "Yeah," Grissom replies, "but you're not the one who's paying for it." Warrick is later seen at the rec center, which is now closed due to Matt's incarceration.

Victim: Garrett Kwan (deceased)

On the case: Nick Stokes, Sam Vega

Nick and Det. Sam Vega visit HyperTrix, an Internet service company. Vega hands Nick the access log, which says that four people entered the building after 6:00 PM and nobody left. The three employees still breathing are working diligently in their cubicles. In an air-conditioned server room, they find David Phillips along with the body of Garrett Kwan, the company's Chief Technology Officer. David runs a liver temp check and estimates that Garrett has been dead for five to seven hours. There's blunt force trauma to the back of the head; however, there's no weapon to be found and there's only one way in and out of the room. Nick notes that there is one dead boss and three live employees—pretty good odds for catching a killer.

Employee Todd Benton is shown rehearsing his story before Nick and Vega visit with him. When they do, Todd nervously repeats his speech to them, stumbling a few times in the process. Todd says he's the one who found Garrett's body and called the police; however, he had been working the entire time before that. He then points the finger at a coworker named Charlie, who had a perfect view of the door. An empty desk is shown and Todd reveals that Charlie actually no longer works for the company.

Nick and Vega then interview Anders Molyneaux, who also had a view of the door to the server room. Anders denies being the guilty party and tells them that Garrett was simply his boss by chance. Serena Chase is the next person to be interviewed. She admits to seeing Garrett enter the server room between 6:00 and 6:30, but never noticed him leave.

In autopsy, David tells Nick that Garrett died from a blow to the head from a rectangular object. Garrett was only hit once, which explains the lack of blood spatter at the scene. David shows Nick a piece of black plastic that was found in the wound, possible trace from the murder weapon.

Nick and Archie collect all of the hard drives from the office for processing back at the lab. They soon come across a risque photo of Serena on a palm pilot. Nick and Vega interview Serena, who says the photos are "harmless fun." Vega reveals that Garrett was suing Serena for sexual harassment. She admits to flirting with Garrett, but Garrett overreacted. When accused of murder, she ends the interview.

Greg stops Nick and tells him that the plastic found in Garrett's wound was common plastic, found in everything from garbage bags to floppy disks. Across the hall, Archie shows Nick a fantasy role playing game found on Anders' computer. In the game, Anders' character is shown chopping the head off of Garrett's character. When questioned, Anders says the game was merely for entertainment. Nick points out that he looks nervous, but Anders replies he's always uncomfortable as the office ventilation is not up to par. Anders admits to having been working on the computer game during company time. Garrett found out and reported it to the board, which almost got Anders fired. Anders is unsure as to how Garrett always seemed to be one step ahead of him.

Nick goes through the evidence and takes out a CD case containing CDs labeled as "KwanSpy." Archie confirms that Garrett was spying on his employees, copying every document, e-mail, and keystroke. The data was then transferred to Garrett's computer. Nick finds the CD made the night of Garrett's death, thinking that it's possible they can find who was away from their computer when Garrett died. However, the data shows that every employee was at their desk when Garrett was killed. Every suspect has just been eliminated.

Back in the company's server room, Nick tells Vega that he has no suspect, no motive, and no weapon. He notes that there's one thing that goes in and comes out of the room constantly—cold air. Nick climbs a ladder and peers into a vent that contains black plastic lining; a tear in the lining could be possible transfer.

They find Hugo Karlin, the building's maintenance worker, working on a ceiling panel. Vega mentions that facility management told him Hugo was working on the air conditioning above HyperTrix. Nick notices blood on Hugo's hammer. A flashback shows Hugo working on the air conditioning vent when his hammer fell out of his tool belt and hit Garrett on the head while he was standing below. Hugo claims it was an accident and shows them the tool he used to pick the hammer up off the ground. He says nobody ever noticed him around the building and had hoped that this time would be no different if he covered his tracks. Hugo is arrested and brought out through the office as the HyperTrix employees look on.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Romy Rosemont as Jacqui Franco
  • Geoffrey Rivas as Detective Sam Vega
  • Archie Kao as Archie Johnson
  • Gerald McCullouch as Bobby Dawson
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Palmer Davis as Attorney Margaret Finn
  • Ty Upshaw as Officer T. Brantley
  • Keith David as Matt Phelps
  • Dwayne L. Barnes as Gene Jacobs
  • Maury Sterling as Anders Molyneaux
  • Melissa Marsala as Serena Chase
  • Kevin Chapman as Bartender
  • David Packer as Hugo Karlin
  • Jim Rash as Todd Benton
  • Tom Virtue as Doctor
  • Daniel Farris as Tyrel Constantine
  • Chanel Gaines as Aimee Phelps
  • Barry Sigismondi as Police Officer
  • Shawn Smith as Travis Phelps
  • David Robert May as Jason Gilbert (uncredited)
  • Simon Rhee as Garrett Kwan (uncredited)

Episode Title

  • Random Acts of Violence is a play on the old adage random acts of kindness.

Featured Music

  • Roxanne by Bauchklang

Quotes

Greg: All work and no play makes Greg a dull boy.
Grissom: All play and no work makes Greg an unemployed boy.

Goofs

  • Just after they arrest the Janitor, they're walking out of the building past the employees. The girl sitting at her chair is not actually typing on her keyboard, her fingers never even press on the keys and her screen-saver is displayed on the screen.
  • When Grissom gives an unfired gun cartridge to a tech for possible fingerprints, he says it's a stovepipe and was never fired nor exposed to heat, which is impossible since a stovepipe occurs when a spent casing is caught in the slide before it's completely ejected from a semi-automatic gun.
  • Warrick holds up a glass trophy he found in the suspect's car belonging to Phelps, and he says he got it last year. Yet, the year carved in it is 1999, which was four years before the episode aired.

Notes

  • Jorja Fox (Sara) and Marg Helgenberger (Catherine) are credited but do not appear in this episode. Due to this, William Petersen (Grissom) is now the only actor who has appeared in every episode.
  • Warrick is seen wearing the CSI Las Vegas stab vest for the first time.
  • Tech Archie Johnson goes out into the field for the first time.

Trivia

  • The room where Nick and Vega first talk to the repairman is actually the CSI locker room set without the lockers.
  • Keith David, who played Matt Phelps, is an accomplished actor with over 300 acting credits to his name in television, movies and voice acting.
  • Jim Rash, who played Todd Benton, is recognizable to some for his role as Dean Craig Pelton in the TV show Community. Rash also famously won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for The Descendants in 2012 and mimicked Angelina Jolie when he got up on stage to accept the award.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 3
Revenge is Best Served ColdThe Accused is EntitledLet the Seller BewareA Little MurderAbra-CadaverThe Execution of Catherine WillowsFight NightSnuffBlood LustHigh and LowRecipe for MurderGot Murder?Random Acts of ViolenceOne Hit WonderLady Heather's BoxLucky StrikeCrash & BurnPrecious MetalA Night at the MoviesLast LaughForeverPlay with FireInside the Box
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