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The Unusual Suspect
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Season 6
Number 18
Writer Anthony E. Zuiker,
Allen MacDonald
Director Alec Smight
Original Airdate March 30, 2006
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The Unusual Suspect is the eighteenth episode in season six of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

When a student is arrested and tried for the murder of a popular high-school girl, the suspect's 12-year-old sister surprises everyone by confessing to the crime in court, resulting in the judge giving the prosecution 72 hours to re-examine the evidence before the jury delivers its verdict.

Plot

Victim: Stacy Vollmer (deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle, Warrick Brown

In a courtroom, Sofia recaps for the court that victim Stacy Vollmer was last seen practicing on her high school tennis court on a Friday night. Monday morning, her body was found wrapped in a shower curtain and buried in a flower bed on school grounds. Doc Robbins then shows the court that Stacy's cause of death was a cerebral hemorrhage, consistent with a single, sharp blow the to the head. She also suffered several lacerations to the back. Nick is called to the stand next. He tells the court that the defendant, Marlon West, had apparently bleached the clothes he was wearing when he murdered Stacy. Furthermore, Stacy's hairs were found in the drain of the bathroom sink.

Marlon's 12-year old sister Hannah is then called to the stand. She confirms for the court that she and Marlon were home alone on the night of Stacy's murder and that they were not together for four hours that night. Under cross examination, Hannah confesses that she is the one who killed Stacy, not her brother. She stands up and shows the bloody shirt she was wearing when she committed the act.

Nick tells Ecklie that despite Hannah's confession, all of the evidence still points to Marlon. Their objective now is to prove that Hannah didn't kill Stacy. When he says that the lab will need a week to reprocess the evidence, Ecklie tells him that they have only been granted three days.

In the lab layout room, Nick plays a video of Marlon being interrogated. In the video, he admits to killing Stacy because she was a stuck-up, miserable person. Nick tells Catherine, Sara and Warrick that the video was inadmissible in court due to the absence of a child advocate. As they go over the crime scene photos, Nick recaps his findings - the crime started out as a prank gone wrong when Marlon sabotaged a shower head in the locker room with sodium hydroxide. "Out of order" signs that directed Stacy to the sabotaged shower head were traced to a laser printer in the school library. The shower head exploded, causing the lacerations in Stacy's back. She then wrapped herself in the shower curtain and ran down the hallway, leaving a blood trail behind her. After Marlon chased her, Stacy fell down the stairs, where she hit her head and died. Marlon then took the body across the football field and buried in the flower bed. Stacy's car was then driven two miles to the front of her boyfriend's house in an effort to frame him; however, he was out of town at the time of the murder. Sara asks about Hannah, and Nick doesn't think that she would be strong enough to carry all of this out. However, Hannah is a child prodigy, having skipped six grades; she certainly has the brains to execute such a plan. Nick thinks that Hannah is just trying to exonerate her brother.

It is found that the soil on Hannah's shirt is the same soil from where Stacy's body was dumped. Meanwhile, Sofia tells Sara that Marlon was the only who had a negative opinion about Stacy - she had a 4.0 GPA, was on the varsity tennis team, and was the homecoming queen. Sofia adds that she looked into Marlon's eyes when he confessed and she has no doubt that he's guilty.

Sara and Sofia interrogate Hannah. She tells them that she throws off the grading curves in her classes, which infuriates the other students. This was particular true for Stacy, who was trying to get into Harvard. Stacy and her classmates pulled some pranks on Hannah, the worst of which was embarrassing her at a school dance. Hannah admits that the wanted to get even by pulling a prank of her own; however, the shower head exploded instead of merely giving off sparks, and the end result was Stacy's death. She then tried to cover up the accident.

The blood on Hannah's shirt turns out to be her own. Warrick believes that this means Hannah fabricated the evidence, but Catherine points out that Hannah could have been at the scene, cut herself on something, and wiped the blood on her shirt. He counters that Hannah is smart enough to have gone to the dumpsite any time within the last four months and rubbed dirt on her shirt.

In the West's house, Nick leads Sara to Marlon's room. There, he shows her the hamper that contained the bleached clothes and the bathroom sink where Stacy's hairs were found. Burn marks found in the bathtub tested positive for sodium hydroxide, so Nick figures that Marlon was doing a test run. Nick stops for a moment as he notices a stepstool with Hannah's name on it next to the sink. In Hannah's bedroom, Sara discovers that she won first prize in the science fair for a project about sodium. In the closet, she finds the sabotaged dress Hannah wore to the school dance. Nick comes across the Stephen King novel Carrie, whose title character had been embarrassed in a similar way to Hannah. In the living room, Hannah's parents tell Sofia that neither Hannah nor Marlon had many friends and that Hannah, whose IQ at age eight was 177, is always compelled to help others, whether they're worth helping or not.

Nick tells Catherine that some previously unidentified prints on the bloody shower curtain came back as Hannah's. He points out that the curtain came from the handicapped shower, but Catherine guesses that Hannah could have showered in there due to embarrassment from not having reached puberty yet. Four prints spaced evenly apart on the curtain indicate that Hannah grabbed it. Nick still believes that Hannah is too light to have dragged Stacy's body across the football field, but Catherine says that plastic slides easily on grass.

Sara talks with Hannah's science teacher, who tells her that the lab is always getting broken into. She notes the broken lock and scratched glass on the case where the sodium is held. Upon spotting a box of blue gloves, she also notes that you need to wear gloves to handle elemental sodium, as it burns the skin. The teacher tells Sara that there's no way Hannah would break in and steal the sodium.

In the lab garage, Catherine and Warrick process the car belonging to Stacy's boyfriend, Scott Baird. Soil and blood are on the carpet, which was already in the report. Warrick flips over the material covering the seat and finds a drop of blood, which he says was not reported before. When he removes the driver's seat from the car and flips it over, he finds a bloody fingerprint. Mandy runs the print and finds that it belongs to Scott.

Under interrogation, Scott tells Sofia that he pressured Stacy into having sex, despite her taking a virginity pledge at school. They did so in the back of his car, which resulted in a little blood. He admits to taking off his condom in the front seat and wiping the blood under the seat. Hodges later tests the bloody print for spermicides and lubricant, and the results are positive. Scott is off the hook, and Marlon and Hannah are the only two suspects once again.

Sara tells Nick that, based on findings on Hannah's laptop, she had IP access to the laser printer in the school library, meaning that she could have printed the "out of order" signs. If she did so, it would show intent.

At the school, Nick, Sara and Warrick set out to recreate the crime. Warrick uses his wife Tina's niece Darcy as a stand-in for Hannah since they are about the same size. Darcy is way too short to reach the shower head until Nick provides her with a stool that was in the nearby shower. They figure Hannah used the stepstool from her bathroom to help her reach the shower head. A flashback shows Hannah hiding in the nearby shower and watching her prank on Stacy unfold. Stacy then ran out into the hall disoriented and eventually fell down the stairs. Outside on the football field, Darcy has trouble dragging a shower curtain with a body weight inside. They conclude that Hannah is too small to have been able to drag Stacy's body the length of a football field. Scratches on the shower curtain indicate that it was dragged at least a part of the way and wonder if Marlon helped Hannah carry the body across the field.

Nick and Sara figure that if Marlon and Hannah committed the crime together, then they're probably still working together as a team. If they can't get one of the siblings to implicate the other, then the whole case gets thrown out of court.

Marlon and Hannah are interrogated separately by Nick and Sara, respectively. Both siblings admit to the crimes, with Nick pointing out that using sodium isn't Marlon's style; however, Marlon admits to breaking into the lab, stealing it, and putting it in the shower head. When confronted with the fact that she couldn't have dragged Stacy's body the length of a football field, Hannah says that she used the electric cart the landscapers use. Warrick looks through the crime scene photos and finds a cart in the background, corroborating Hannah's story.

Nick and Ecklie speak with D.A. Jeffrey Sinclair, who tells them that he'll proceed against Marlon for murder and bring charges against Hannah for conspiracy. Sara enters and tells them that a pizza delivery man delivered to the West house the night of Stacy's death. Since the parents weren't home, one of the kids answered the door; however, the delivery man doesn't remember which kid it was since a month has passed since the incident. This proves that both siblings didn't work together on the crime. Nick and Ecklie still believe that Marlon is their guy and that Hannah is just trying to protect him. However, Sara believes that the crime was more about brains and believes Hannah is the guilty party.

In court, D.A. Sinclair lays out the case again for the jury - Marlon was jealous of Stacy because she made it so easy to be popular. When she humiliated Hannah, he planned his revenge, ultimately resulting in Stacy's death. The defense attorney reiterates that Marlon isn't smart enough to plan a scheme like this, but Hannah is. She argues that there is too much reasonable doubt in the case to prosecute Marlon.

The jury finds Marlon not guilty of murder in the first degree, causing Stacy's mother to break down and Hannah to hug her brother in celebration. Back at the police station, Sara tells Hannah that the D.A. will try to prosecute her for murder. After her mother leaves her side, Hannah tells Sara privately that her parents only cared about her, not Marlon. She tells Sara that you have to be really smart to make people think things happened that never did and whispers that Marlon is actually the one that killed Stacy. Sara is left speechless as Hannah departs. She now has a nemesis.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

Music

  • War by Cobra
  • Moon by Little People
  • Rock & Roll Queen by The Subways
  • Someday You Will Be Loved by Death Cab for Cutie

Quotes

Mandy: Twelve-year-old killer, huh?
Nick: Starting to look that way.
Mandy: I bet that Grand Theft Auto had something to do with it.
Nick: Mmm, I don't know, I don't think Hannah is the video game type.
Mandy: You never know. Between you and me, I actually think it's a ton of fun.

Episode Title

  • This episode was originally titled "Unusual Suspects."

Goofs

  • When the CSIs are talking behind the glass with the lawyer after the boyfriend has been interviewed (and cleared) the lawyer incorrectly refers to Hannah's brother as Malcolm, not Marlon.

Notes

  • William Peterson (Grissom), Eric Szmanda (Greg) and Paul Guilfoyle (Brass) are credited but do not appear in this episode. Peterson had appeared in the previews of this episode.

Trivia

  • During a commercial, executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer announced that his company and GMC planned to donate several Yukons like the ones seen on the show to the police departments in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 6
Bodies in MotionRoom ServiceBite MeShooting StarsGum DropsSecrets and FliesA Bullet Runs Through It, Part 1A Bullet Runs Through It, Part 2Dog Eat DogStill LifeWerewolvesDaddy's Little GirlKiss-Kiss, Bye-ByeKillerPirates of the Third ReichUp in SmokeI Like to WatchThe Unusual SuspectSpellboundPoppin' TagsRashomamaTime of your DeathBang-BangWay to Go
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