Too Tough to Die
Season 1
Number 16
Writer Elizabeth Devine
Director Richard J. Lewis
Original Airdate March 1, 2001
Previous Episode: Table Stakes
Next Episode: Face Lift

Too Tough to Die is the sixteenth episode in Season One of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


Sara gets emotionally involved when she, Grissom and Nick investigate the case of a woman who is abducted from a parking garage, raped, and left for dead. Meanwhile, Catherine and Warrick take over a case from one of the day shift CSIs who has quit. The case involves a neighbor's dispute that led to murder. Not only has an important piece of evidence been lost, but the case goes to trial in four days.


Victim: Pamela Adler (alive)

On the case: Gil Grissom, Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle, Jim Brass

A woman is carjacked at gunpoint in a parking garage and her body is later found on the side of a highway in the desert. Upon arriving at the scene, Grissom, Nick and Sara are informed that the woman was shot multiple times in the head and appears to be a victim of sexual assault; remarkably, she's still alive. Grissom has Sara go to the hospital to process the victim and collect a sexual assault kit.

In the hospital, Sara is informed that the unidentified victim, who's in a coma, has two bullets lodged in her brain that can't be removed without killing her. Sara notices a tan line on the victim's ring finger, indicating that she's either married or recently divorced. As Sara processes the victim, she promises her that she'll find whoever did this. Grissom overhears this and warns her not to get too overzealous in her pursuit of the suspect.

Grissom and Nick process the scene of the body dump, finding cartridge casings and a denim belt loop. Since the victim wasn't wearing denim and the belt loop appears to fresh, it could belong to the suspect. Grissom uses scent pads to collect any odors from the belt loop that could narrow down the suspect's location. Back in the lab, it's discovered that the cartridge casings belong to a gun that was used in a prior case handled by the crime lab.

As Grissom, Nick and Sara go through the evidence, Nick mentions that the gun used ties back to a gang-related murder; the shooter was never found. However, Grissom remarks that this is not uncommon, as nobody ever talks to the police in gang neighborhoods. Sara pulls out a hat that belongs to a member of the Snakebacks, a local gang. Grissom tells her that gang shooters usually mark their kills by tossing down their hats as a way to let the opposition know who was responsible. The hat has a thick sweatband around it, and Sara offers to compare its DNA to the DNA collected from "Jane Doe." This remark is met with surprise by Grissom, as Sara is now on a first-name basis with the victim. He later warns Sara against getting too close to the victim and advises her to develop a hobby outside of law enforcement.

Grissom informs Nick they can't get a warrant for any evidence found from a dogs' search, as this is a constitutional issue. Anything found inside the suspects' house is inadmissible if the suspect is found inside. Despite this, K-9 units are sent to the Snakebacks' neighborhood, with Grissom telling Nick that if the suspect is inside the house, they'll find another way to get a warrant. The scent dogs get a whiff of the scent pad and lead the police to Tony Thorpe, who is wearing a pair of jeans with a missing belt loop. Meanwhile, Sara intently searches the missing persons database for a match to her Jane Doe and identifies her as Pamela Adler.

Nick and Sara are able to match the belt loop to Tony’s jeans. In interrogation, Tony gloats that Pamela isn't dead yet, and since he's a juvenile, the law is on his side. Brass assures him that if Pamela dies within a year, he'll be charged with murder. Sara, watching from behind the glass, is disgusted by Tony's arrogance and walks away.

Sara visits Pamela in the hospital to tell her that they caught Tony, and meets Tom, Pamela’s husband. He tells her that Pamela is going to live, and that she'll be moved to a facility; Sara promises to visit her and hastily leaves, holding back tears. She returns to the lab and during a talk with Grissom, cries over a system that rewards suspects when the victim is too tough to die. Pamela is going to be in a vegetative state for the rest of her life, which her husband isn't even aware of, while Tony is likely to get out in jail in four years. Grissom tells her to let the case go; otherwise, she's going to be spending all of her time in hospitals helping the people she couldn't save. "I wish I were like you", she tells Grissom. "I wish I didn't feel anything."

Victim: Chuckie Hastings (deceased)

On the case: Catherine Willows, Warrick Brown

Catherine and Warrick inherit an open murder case from a dayshift CSI who quit the day before. Roy McCall shot and killed his neighbor over a motorcycle, and because the case has changed hands so many times, the district attorney can't make sense of the evidence. Grissom informs the CSIs that the preliminary trial is in only four days, so some serious headway needs to be made on the case.

According to Roy's statement, he returned Chuckie Hastings' motorcycle to him with the front end banged up. The two got into an argument in Chuckie's backyard, at which point Chuckie stabbed Roy in the right arm with a screwdriver. Roy responded by shooting Chuckie twice in self-defense while Chuckie's wife, Laurianne, looked on. Laurianne claims that Roy shot her husband in the back, a statement corroborated by the coroner's report. Roy may have lied in order to make the murder look like self-defense. This can be proven if they check the screwdriver for Roy's blood. However, there's one problem: the screwdriver is missing. The previous CSI who worked the case realized this and quit before he could be fired, having cited burnout as his reason for quitting.

Catherine and Warrick go to the crime scene and speak with Laurianne, who reiterates that she saw her husband get shot in the back. At first, she says that she saw both shots; however, she soon tells Catherine that she only heard the first shot, then ran outside and witnessed the second. Warrick notes that Roy had a semiautomatic, meaning he could've fired multiple shots in less than a second. Catherine determines that it would've taken at least three seconds for Laurianne to run from the garage to the backyard; therefore, she didn't see any shots. She filled in what she thought happened—her husband getting shot in cold blood. Roy might've been telling the truth, but the screwdriver in question still needs to be found.

In the interrogation room, Roy repeats his side of the story and shows Catherine the wound on his arm. Catherine quietly tells Warrick that she believes Roy is telling the truth—Roy is right-handed and if he inflicted the wound on himself, he would have stabbed his left arm. Furthermore, the wound on his arm is at a downward angle, something that would've been difficult if Roy used his left hand. Despite this, the coroner's report still contradicts Roy's statement.

In autopsy, Doc Robbins confirms that Chuckie was shot from back to front both times; one bullet exited out the ribs, while the other exited out the chest. Warrick notes that when men usually fight, they're moving around. While the doc's findings may be correct, there could be more to the story.

Chuckie's bloody shirt also confirms that he was shot from back to front both times, and unburned gunpowder around the entry wounds indicates that he was shot at close range. Both Roy and Laurianne told police that the two men were standing five paces apart, which contradicts the evidence so far. Catherine and Warrick reconstruct the shooting; based on the entry wounds and gunpowder burns, Roy first shot Chuckie when he was standing two feet away. Curiously, he was standing only one foot away when he fired the second shot. Laurianne claims to have seen Roy fire both shots from the same distance, while Roy says that he shot Chuckie from front to back in self-defense. The truth seems to be somewhere in the middle.

Catherine and Warrick then use a dummy to recreate the bullets' entry wounds. When Warrick bends the dummy over at the waist, they both come to a realization: both parties were telling the truth. Using the dummy, they explain to the district attorney the order of events. After Chuckie stabbed Roy with the screwdriver, Roy pushed him to the ground. Chuckie got up and charged at Roy's midsection, which is when Roy fired the first shot through Chuckie's back in self-defense. Roy then fired a second shot while Chuckie was going down to the ground. This shot wasn't in self-defense, and Roy had no reason to fire another shot if Chuckie was already going down.


Catherine learns that Eddie took out a second mortgage on the house they own together. He visits the lab to see her and they get into a physical altercation, which Grissom breaks up. This convinces Catherine that she needs to finalize her divorce.


Main Cast[]

Guest Cast[]

  • Robert David Hall as Dr. Al Robbins
  • Timothy Carhart as Eddie Willows
  • Madison McReynolds as Lindsey Willows
  • Geoffrey Rivas as Detective Sam Vega
  • Gerald McCullouch as Bobby Dawson
  • Mark Collver as Detective B. Evans
  • Palmer Davis as Attorney Margaret Finn
  • Katy Boyer as Laurianne Hastings
  • Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine as Tom Adler
  • Aldis Hodge as Tony Thorpe
  • Andy Taylor as D.A. Sam Gentry
  • Michelle Anne Johnson as Pamela Adler
  • Gary Bristow as Chuck Hastings
  • Geoff Meed as Roy McCall
  • Netfa Perry as Shandra Thorpe
  • Larry Bagby as Hank Dudek
  • Edi Patterson as Rosalyn Dudek

Major Events[]

  • Detective Sam Vega is introduced for the first time.

Episode Title[]

  • Too Tough to Die was the title of the eighth studio album from the Ramones, a punk rock band.


  • In the opening scene, the character Pamela Adler, uses a remote access for her car but still uses her key to unlock her car door.
  • While examining a victim in a coma, Sara breathes on a piece of medical equipment to warm it up before using it. Doing this would transfer her own DNA onto the equipment, which would contaminate the test.


  • Sara has to investigate Pamela Adler's death later in the Season 9 episode The Happy Place. Pamela had been in a coma for eight years until her death.


  • The song that Sara is humming while going over missing person cases is "One Way or Another" by Blondie which has the lyrics "One way or another, I'm gonna find ya, I'm gonna get ya, get ya, get ya".  

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