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Young Man With A Horn
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Season 9
Number 8
Writer David Rambo
Director Jeffrey Hunt
Original Airdate December 4, 2008
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Young Man With A Horn is the eighth episode in season nine of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.

Synopsis

While investigating the death of a beautiful popular TV singing contestant, the CSIs come across a lead in the murder of a nightclub owner in the early days of Vegas.

Plot

Victim: Layla Wells (deceased)

On the case: entire team

Layla Wells and Kip Westerman are the two finalists on the singing show Overnight Sensation. The producer of the show belittles Layla while she's singing during rehearsal, causing her to run offstage. She's later found dead under a highway overpass wrapped in a white tablecloth and wearing pink lingerie and heavy makeup. In autopsy, Doc Robbins puts Layla's time of death at between 2:00 and 4:00 AM. Grissom wonders if Layla had a stalker who went too far.

The producer, Drew Rich, tells Brass that Layla was last heard from at midnight. Meanwhile, in the lab's layout room, Catherine and Nick have the tablecloth spread out on a table. Nick theorizes that their killer could be a sailor, as the tablecloth was tied in knots consistent with a reef knot. He also finds that the tablecloth is from Rancho Linen Service, a company that delivers to every hotel on the Strip. Based on the discolored patterns on it, Catherine guesses that it had been in the same place for a long time.

At the crime scene, Riley wonders why Layla would have ventured to a shady neighborhood when she was being put up in a hotel suite. There are blood drops next to where the body was found, but no blood trail. Greg measures track marks in the dirt and finds that they're 11 inches apart. This rules out a shopping cart, as its wheels are narrower in the front than in the back.

Back in autopsy, Doc Robbins tells Catherine that Layla's cause of death was blunt force trauma to the ribcage, which lacerated the liver. There is no evidence of sexual assault; however, Layla was about eight weeks pregnant. Catherine wonders if this would be the killer's motive. Meanwhile, In Layla's hotel room, Nick and Brass find out that she last used her key card at 7:12 PM. She also made two phone calls, with the second one being to her chaperone at midnight. Layla's internet history shows that she was searching for abortion clinics, but she then had a change of heart and searched for adoption agencies.

In the A/V lab, Archie scrolls through some tabloid articles speculating that Kip and Layla were a couple. Surveillance footage from the hotel elevator shows Drew leaving the elevator at 11:50 PM. Layla left separately 15 minutes later, and Kip did the same two minutes after her. Kip is interrogated with his father sitting next to him. Kip is shocked when told that Layla was pregnant and is ushered out of the room to provide a DNA sample, leaving Brass alone with Mr. Westerman. Brass shows him more surveillance footage from the elevator that has him and Kip returning to the hotel right after the time of Layla's murder. After seeing a Navy tattoo on Mr. Westerman's arm, Brass theorizes that he has everything riding on his son's success on the show and that he would do anything to prevent him from screwing up, including killing Layla.

It's discovered that Kip is not the father of Layla's baby, but rather someone named Marvin Fleck. When shown a picture of Marvin, Catherine sees that it's Drew. Wendy informs her that Marvin was in the system for having sex with a minor, but had the charges were dropped after she changed her story. Catherine guesses that Marvin/Drew paid her off. Back at the production set, Marvin/Drew tells Brass that he offered to pay for Layla's abortion, but Layla said she would only agree if she was allowed to win the competition. When told that his credit card was used at a motel three blocks away from the crime scene, Marvin/Drew explains that he was with a hooker. Since the age of consent in Nevada is 16, Marvin/Drew believes that he can get away with statutory rape; however, Brass informs him that there's an exception when a person is in a position of authority with a teenager, such as "executive producer." Marvin/Drew is arrested.

Hodges informs Grissom that the lipstick Layla was wearing contained spermaceti, which originally comes from the heads of sperm whales. Since there's been a ban on sperm whaling for 20 years, the lipstick is very old. None of the makeups in the hotel room contained spermaceti, however. Hodges also shows Grissom that the tablecloth contains traces of amocite, a specific type of asbestos. It's commonly found in spray-on ceilings and also hasn't been used in 20 or 30 years. Hodges' theory of Layla finding a hole in the space-time continuum and being murdered decades ago is shot down by Grissom.

Catherine and Nick look at the layout of the old Vegas Strip. She notes that all of the casinos that Rancho Linen serviced have been torn down except for one casino on the west side near where Layla's body was found. That casino is the Le Chateau Rouge, which Greg and Nick go to check out. Outside of the casino, Greg finds track marks on the ground 11 inches apart, consistent with the ones he found earlier. Nick finds a hole in the fence with pink fabric stuck to it and notes that Layla was wearing a pink sweater when she left the Palermo. They have a little trouble getting inside, indicating that someone locked up after Layla was there. The casino is almost like it was 50 years ago and Greg remarks that it was the first integrated casino in Vegas. A service cart is found to have the same wheelbase as the tracks found in the dirt outside, while towels on the cart are from Rancho Linen. Nick finds smears on the floor that test positive for blood. He says that the owner needs to be tracked down and that it's time to reopen Le Chateau Rouge.

Grissom talks to the casino's owner, Karen Rosenthal. She tells him that she hasn't set foot in the casino since her husband was murdered there, adding that she didn't sell the property because she knew it would be torn down. Grissom enters the casino, where it becomes apparent to the viewer that he and the other CSIs are being watched. In the dressing room, Catherine sees footprints in the dust and a recently moved tube of lipstick on the counter of a performer named Jasmine. She remembers that Layla's grandmother was named Jasmine and figures that she was trying to reconnect with her roots.

Back in the casino, Grissom finds a recently fired bullet that's blown back the dust, while Nick comes across Layla's cell phone. When they look at the video on the phone, they see that Kip was recording Jasmine singing on stage; Jasmine was wearing her grandmother's outfit, which Greg saw in the dressing room. The performance got interrupted by an elderly man coming out playing a saxophone. Greg and Grissom theorize that the sax man killed Layla, wheeled her out on the cart, brought the cart back and tried to put everything back the way it was 50 years ago. Grissom hears a noise and finds the sax man hiding behind the curtain on stage. When found, the man is holding a gun. He immediately passes out.

The man is brought to the hospital, where he refuses to tell Grissom his name. He recounts that Layla was singing on stage and when he showed himself, Kip shoved Lalya out of harm's way and punched him in the face. This caused the man to fire his gun. At the station, Kip tells Brass that he found out where Layla's grandmother performed and they took a taxi to the casino just to take a picture outside. Layla, however, went a few steps further, going inside and donning her grandmother's outfit. After the scuffle, Kip says that he looked for Layla for hours not realizing that she was still inside the casino. Back at the hospital, the man confesses to murdering Layla.

Through ballistics, Nick is able to match the bullet and gun found in the casino to a cold case - the 1958 murder of Karen's husband (and casino founder), Jules. Grissom watches a video highlighting the founding of the casino and Jules' murder. In the video, former Sheriff Claude Montgomery recalls that Karen heard a gunshot from the musicians' dressing room and found her husband dead in there. The sheriff says that Jules was killed by one of his employees, musician Melchior Wilson, who stole money and ran. His prints were found on Jules' wallet and he later confessed to the whole thing. He would end up dying in prison.

Grissom lays out photos from their current case as well as photos from the scene of Jules' murder. Catherine wonders if the killer ended up ditching the gun in the casino where the sax player found it years later. Grissom sees that Jules' wallet was made out of alligator skin and notices that Melchior's recovered print from the wallet was a clean print. Using another wallet as an example, Grissom lifts his own print and sees that the voids in the wallet would have caused the print itself to have voids. Since the print could have been lifted from anywhere in the room, he concludes that Melchior was framed.

Grissom visits and underground gambling hall where everyone knows his name from days past. Sheriff Montgomery is playing Texas Hold 'Em with some other players when Grissom approaches him. The sheriff agrees to talk about Le Chateau Rouge, but only if Grissom beats him in a hand, which Grissom does. Sheriff Montgomery tells Grissom that they got a signed confession from Melchior, but Grissom reminds him that back in the day, suspects would be taken out to the desert and given a choice - confess or get in the hole in the ground. Grissom tells the sheriff about the voids in the fingerprint that an alligator wallet would leave and adds that the sax man's prints were all over the scene from 1958. Sheriff Montgomery, who doesn't recognize the sax man from his photo, refuses to answer any further questions and leaves Grissom to pick up their drink tab.

Catherine compares Layla's bruises with the sax man's fist impression that Nick took at the hospital; they don't match. Back at the casino, Nick tells Catherine that Drew's hooker alibi checked out. They recap the events, knowing that Kip dropped his flashlight after Layla was startled and she ran from the stage towards the right. Catherine follows the trail and comes across an antique chair that has a part of Layla's costume on it. The arm of the chair matches her bruise impressions, meaning that her death was an accident. But, if that's the case, why did the sax man confess or tell the cops who he is?

Riley examines the souvenir program that Greg lifted from the casino and wonders if the unidentified man is one of the original musicians. This theory is proven correct, as the man is identified as Harry Bastille. Grissom visits Harry in the hospital and asks him why he confessed to killing Lalya and moved the body. Harry responds that he didn't want anybody coming into his space and that he wanted to spend his time in the last place he was ever happy. Karen is brought to the hospital and remembers the name Harry Bastille; however, she tells Grissom that the man is not Harry. Grissom informs her that she's wrong and that they think Harry might be the one who murdered her husband. Karen denies this, but Grissom remembers that there was pink champagne at Jules' crime scene, the same champagne Karen was drinking when he spoke to her earlier in her car. He suggests that champagne is usually part of a celebration or, in this case, a romance.

Karen relents and admits that she and Harry had an affair in 1958. When Jules caught them in the act, he drew his gun and intended to kill Harry. After a tussle, Jules dropped his gun. Karen picked it up and shot her husband. She then took the money from her husband's wallet, gave it to Harry and told him to run. Karen tells Grissom that she actually confessed to the murder, but the town was run differently back then and the men who ran it forced Sheriff Montgomery to arrest Melchior. She laments that back then, a white woman could get away with murder, but she couldn't love a black man.

Later, Catherine and Grissom walk together on the Strip. He tells her that he originally came to Vegas to play cards in an effort to win money to support his then-girlfriend. Catherine tells him that everything worked out, as he now has roots, friends and a work family. "Yeah," he replies. "Maybe it's time to up the ante."

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Liz Vassey as Wendy Simms
  • David Berman as David Phillips
  • Archie Kao as Archie Johnson
  • Larry M. Mitchell as Officer Mitchell
  • Tippi Hedren as Karen Rosenthal
  • Robert Guillaume as Sonny Bridges
  • Bill Cobbs as Harry Bastille
  • Ralph Waite as Sheriff Claude Montgomery
  • George Schlatter as Himself
  • Holt McCallany as Mr. Westerman
  • Ben Bledsoe as Kip Westerman
  • Seamus Dever as Drew Rich
  • Tiffany Hines as Layla Wells
  • Richard Steinmetz as Jules Rosenthal
  • La Monde Byrd as Young Harry Bastille
  • Sarah Poynter as Young Karen Rosenthal
  • Kanesha Washington as Jasmine (uncredited)

Trivia

  • Holt McCallany makes a one-time comeback to the CSI franchise as Mr. Westerman, three and a half years after his recurring character, John Hagen was written off from the show's spinoff, CSI: Miami (episode 324, 10-7).

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 9
For WarrickThe Happy PlaceArt Imitates LifeLet It BleedLeave Out All The RestSay UncleWoulda, Coulda, ShouldaYoung Man with a Horn19 Down...One to GoThe Grave ShiftDisarmed and DangerousDeep Fried and Minty FreshMiscarriage of JusticeKill Me If You CanTurn, Turn, TurnNo Way OutMascaraThe Descent of ManA Space OddityIf I Had a Hammer...The Gone Dead TrainHog HeavenAll In
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