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Table Stakes
Table.jpg
Season 1
Number 15
Writer Anthony E. Zuiker,
Elizabeth Devine,
Carol Mendelsohn
Director Danny Cannon
Original Airdate February 22, 2001
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Next Episode: Too Tough to Die

Table Stakes is the fifteenth episode in season one of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

During a fundraiser at the home of Portia Richmond—a legendary showgirl—a dead woman is found floating in the pool. When Portia later disappears, suspicion falls on a young couple who 'house-sat' for her. The sheriff puts pressure on Grissom as well, as Portia's case affects his election. Elsewhere, Warrick looks into a mob hit in a glass elevator.

Plot

Victim: Lacey Duvall (deceased)

On the case: entire team

Patrick and Amanda Haynes hold a charity fundraising party at the home of Portia Richmond, a retired Las Vegas showgirl; Sheriff Brian Mobley is one of the attendees. A woman's scream interrupts the party, and a dead woman is found floating in the backyard pool. However, the victim is too young to be Portia Richmond.

Upon arriving, Catherine and Warrick are tasked with processing the backyard. While Catherine finds a red fingernail in the grass, Warrick spots something in the bottom of the pool. He swims in and retrieves a turquoise and silver cufflink with the initials "CM" on it. Grissom has Warrick peruse the guest list to find anyone who has the same initials.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins tells Grissom that the unidentified victim had a few bodily upgrades, including breast implants and a rhinoplasty. Grissom notes that they can identify the woman from the serial numbers on the implants. Her cause of death is labeled as strangulation, as she has a broken hyoid bone and bruising around the neck. The absence of water in the lungs means that she was dead before she hit the water. Because strangulation is a man's crime, Grissom has Doc Robbins photograph the injuries and run a sexual assault kit.

Much to his dismay, Warrick is called away to another crime scene, and Catherine loops Sara in for assistance. Downstairs in the mansion's living room, Brass fills Catherine and Grissom in on his findings. Nobody at the party saw or heard anything, and Portia herself is on a yacht halfway around the world. Patrick and Amanda Haynes are house-sitting for her and decided to host a charity event to repay her for her generosity. However, neither one of them recognize the murder victim.

The victim is soon identified as Lacey Duvall, a showgirl at the Mediterranean. Backstage at the show, Lacey's friend, Rachel, tells Catherine that Lacey was dating a rich married guy who refused to give out any information about himself. Rachel says that she feared for her friend's safety, but Lacey wouldn't hear of it. Grissom checks out Lacey's dressing table, spotting a music box. An engraved plaque on the bottom it reveals that it was gift to Portia from her husband. Later, as he looks over the music box, Grissom wonders why Lacey would be in possession of it. If she and Portia were so close, why wasn't she on the guest list for the party?

Catherine and Grissom head back to the mansion and find out that Portia received a music box from her husband every year on their anniversary. The CSIs are soon alerted to a thumping sound coming from upstairs. Upon investigating the source of the sound, they awkwardly catch Patrick and Amanda in the middle of a sexual encounter. When questioned again, the couple reiterates that Portia is on vacation and is inaccessible. Grissom eyes Amanda as she drinks water through a straw and asks her for it, claiming to be a straw collector.

Up in the master bedroom, Portia's purse, bags, and jewelry are still in the closet; it appears she hasn't gone anywhere. Catherine and Grissom process the room, and Grissom finds a tooth mixed in with the gravel around the fireplace. The CSIs now have two crimes: a body without a murderer, and a murder without a body.

Back in the lab, Greg is tasked with extracting a DNA profile from the tooth; however, he has nothing to compare it to, as the toothbrush and hairbrush taken from Portia's vanity contain no traces of hair whatsoever. Either Portia was extremely hygienic, or someone removed all traces of her. Catherine and Brass visit a museum that houses a headpiece Portia used to wear in her shows. Hair from the headpiece turns out to be a match to the DNA from the tooth, so it appears Portia was met with foul play.

Under interrogation, Patrick admits that he had sex with Lacey before the party; however, he claims that he never gave her any gifts, especially one of Portia's music boxes. Nick interrupts the interrogation and informs Grissom that Lacey's rape kit matches a ten-year-old rape case in Texas. The suspect's name in the case was Chad Matthews, which matches the "CM" cufflink Warrick found in the pool earlier. Furthermore, Sara discovers that Patrick’s Social Security number is fake, as it belongs to an eight-month-old infant that died ten years ago. Patrick and Chad are the same person, and Chad has been on the run for ten years...until now.

Brass finds out that there are five aliases on record for Chad. The grifter's journal shows that he kept lists of rich women all around the country and logged their vitals, including how much money they had. One of the women on the list was Portia Richmond. Portia's bank records show no activity since she went on vacation, and the CSIs believe she's dead. Catherine comes across a cancelled check that has holes through the signature. Nick explains that nobody signs their name the same way twice; by dotting the curves and lines in the signature, someone can forge it and replicate it by connecting the dots on a blank page.

The CSIs soon conclude that forgery isn't a strong enough motive for murder. They also question why Chad would give up his DNA so willingly, and they figure that he risked everything for one reason: money. Portia was worth $1.6 million, and Chad could skip town with her money and reinvent himself again. But why kill Lacey?

Grissom visits Doc Robbins in autopsy and asks to see the photos of Lacey's injuries. He notices that one of the finger marks on her neck is less vivid than the others, implying that the strangler had a broken fingernail. Greg processes the fingernail collected at the house for DNA and discovers that it shares half of the DNA markers with the semen found from Lacey's sexual assault kit. Grissom has Greg run DNA from the straw he collected earlier, and this confirms that Chad and Amanda are first-degree relatives—more specifically, brother and sister.

During questioning, Chad admits to having a relationship with Lacey, but he once again denies killing her. Grissom reveals that Amanda is the one who killed Lacey. A flashback shows the two women having an argument, where Lacey bragged that she and Chad were going to on "big-time" grifts, leaving Amanda behind. Amanda responded by knocking the cufflink out of Lacey's hand, strangling her, and throwing her in the pool. In the present, Amanda tells Chad that she had no choice, as his relationship with Lacey caused him to make mistakes.

Both Chad and Amanda continue to claim that Portia is cruising the Mediterranean, but Grissom shows them a pair of piranhas he pulled from Portia's lagoon. He informs them that the piranhas have high cholesterol, something only found in humans. The quick conclusion is that Portia was murdered and fed to the piranhas, and a flashback shows Chad carrying out the act. Both siblings/lovers are arrested for the murders of Portia Richmond and Lacey Duvall.

Victim: Tyson Green (deceased)

On the case: Warrick Brown, Detective Conroy

Warrick is called away from the other scene to work the case of a man being shot to death in a glass elevator. The victim has been shot all around his chest and once between his eyes. A quarter has been wedged into the wound between the eyes; when combined with the gun on the floor next to burnt pieces of newspaper, Warrick concludes that this was a professional hit. A flashback shows someone entering the elevator hiding a gun under a folded newspaper, then carrying out the job. Warrick tells Det. Conroy that the quarter stands for the phrase "call someone who cares," adding that the gun was left behind because the killer knows it will trace back to someone else. He offers to print the entire elevator, despite the fact that there will be hundreds of fingerprints overlapping each other.

The victim is identified as 35-year-old Tyson Green. Among Tyson's possessions is a wad of money and betting markers, which takes Warrick back to his gambling days. The serial number on the gun traces back to Vincent Morgan, a local. When questioned, Vincent says that his house was recently robbed and his gun was stolen. His story checks out, and Warrick and Det. Conroy let him go.

Warrick is at a dead end, as the .22 caliber bullet is essentially untraceable, and there are too many fingerprints in the elevator to isolate. Furthermore, the fingerprint lifted from the quarter comes back to Tyson himself. A flashback shows the killer using Tyson's thumb to jam the quarter into the opening in his forehead.

The case reaches a dead end, and Warrick hands Tyson's debt slips to the manager, telling him that they won't be paid. As he stands in the center of the casino floor, Warrick finally realizes that he has a gambling problem.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Eric Szmanda as Greg Sanders
  • Glenn Morshower as Sheriff Brian Mobley
  • Robert David Hall as Dr. Al Robbins
  • Sheeri Rappaport as Mandy Webster
  • John Churchill as Shibley
  • Shawn Christian as Patrick Haynes/Chad Matthews
  • Elizabeth Lackey as Amanda Haynes
  • Colette O'Connell as Detective Conroy
  • Allison Dunbar as Rachel Carson
  • Joann Richter as Lacey Duvall
  • Nichole Hiltz as Dancer
  • Jack Wallace as Tony Mumms
  • Trey Alexander as Vincent Morgan
  • Lorraine Hunt as Mrs. Burton
  • Robert Sutton as Stage Manager
  • C.C. Carr as Guest
  • William Johnson as Tyson Green
  • Lloyd Kino as Gardner
  • Robert Iaquinto as Hit Man
  • Nick Trasente as Pit Boss
  • Nicole Brunner as Show Girl
  • Zeen Jones as Police Officer (uncredited)
  • Lindsey Labrum as Jennifer (uncredited)
  • William Wantland as Extra (uncredited)

Episode Title

  • Table Stakes is the minimum amount required to join a game of poker.

Trivia

  • This is the first episode in which Elisabeth Devine was credited as the sole writer. She was first credited as a writer in Blood Drops under the pseudonym Tish McCarthy. 
  • In Face Lift, Sara Sidle indicates that she hasn't eaten meat after Sex, Lies and Larvae, where she watched a pig decompose.  However, in this episode, she's eating sea bass when she's at lunch with her coworkers.  This would make her a pescatarian not a vegetarian.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 1
PilotCool ChangeCrate 'n BurialPledging Mr. JohnsonFriends & LoversWho Are You?Blood DropsAnonymousUnfriendly SkiesSex, Lies and LarvaeI-15 MurdersFahrenheit 932BoomTo Halve and to HoldTable StakesToo Tough to DieFace Lift$35K O.B.O.Gentle, GentleSounds of SilenceJustice is ServedEvaluation DayStrip Strangler
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