Three men are released after spending 19 years in prison for a murder they didn’t commit, but someone starts picking them off one by one.
In 1992, Frank answered a call in a rural area and found the dead body of Troy Faber, a teenager who was tied to a tree, tortured and killed. Three young men were arrested and charged with the crime. In 2011, the men are released after the key witness recants his statement. Celebrity Kayla Bledsoe holds a press conference to celebrate that these innocent men are out of jail, and there are protestors in the crowd—including Troy Faber’s parents. They start to charge the stage, but the cops get the former prisoners out of danger while Horatio speaks with the Fabers and stops them from trying to attack the men they hold responsible for their son’s death.
Later, the three men are having a party at Kayla’s mansion. Rocco winds up dead in the bathroom, and he was stabbed ten times: eight times in the chest, once in the back and once in the thigh. The brutal murder mimics Troy’s death all those years ago. Walter and Dr Loman also discover that the man’s genitals were cut, which is consistent with what happened to Troy. That information wasn’t released to the public, so the killer knows details about the original case. A blood stain on Rocco’s pants has an imprint of the Shadow Elite insignia. Troy Faber’s father joined the group when he was in the Marines, but he says there are plenty of people with the same knife. They bring in Troy’s mother Connie as well, and she admits to stabbing Rocco. She thinks about her son’s death every day, and she couldn’t bear to see his killers laughing and experiencing freedom they didn’t deserve.
Connie claims that she only stabbed Rocco once, and Loman confirms that the nonfatal stab wound in Rocco’s chest is from the knife Troy’s mother used. However, the other wounds were inflicted by a different, duller blade. Walter and Loman find flakes of dried blood on Rocco from Troy Faber—he was killed with the murder weapon from 1992, which was never recovered. Calleigh wonders if the killers left the weapon at the scene, so Frank leads Horatio and Ryan to where he found Troy Faber’s body. Ryan locates a piece of metal from the murder weapon embedded in a gash in one of the tree’s roots. The metal has a zinc coating, which indicates that it was used for athletic purposes—like Darren’s javelin from track and field.
Darren overheard Victor and Rocco talking at the party, and he realized that they were guilty of Troy’s murder. They lied to the world, and they lied to him. He went back and dug up the javelin they buried, and he used it to kill Rocco. Darren will go back to prison, but at least he’s going away for a crime he actually committed.
“A Few Dead Men” offers the CSI: Miami take on the recent release of the West Memphis Three. In the crime drama’s version, Rocco, Victor and Darren were convicted of murdering a 14-year-old boy, but they are released after the key witness recants his testimony. Like the West Memphis Three, these men enter an Alford plea, which allows them to profess their innocence while acknowledging that there is enough evidence to convict them during a re-trial.
Troy Faber’s parents are devastated when they see the men who killed their son walk free, and Horatio stops them from attacking the former convicts at the press conference. It is clear that Horatio understands their pain, but he has to uphold the law. Frank, meanwhile, finds it very difficult to remain objective; in fact, he doesn’t even try. He found Troy Faber’s body all those years ago, and the case still haunts him to this day. He’s disgusted by the fact that he is expected to protect these men after what they did. He refuses to believe that they might be innocent, and he doesn’t hesitate to say he’s glad to see Rocco dead.
At first, it appears that Rocco may have been killed by Kayla Bledsoe, the famous singer who campaigned to free these men. When Calleigh and Ryan confront her, she does have a terrible secret to confess, but it isn’t what they were expecting: Victor raped her. She blames herself for what happened, and she realized when he attacked her that Victor did kill Troy all those years ago. She helped get monsters out of prison. Calleigh is firm but understanding with Kayla, reminding her that the attack was not her fault. She stays with her at the hospital while they do a sexual assault kit, and she’s there to protect her when Victor heads to the hospital to kill her before she can get him arrested again. Horatio catches Victor as he tries to escape, and the man grabs an innocent bystander and holds her hostage with a scalpel. Horatio doesn’t hesitate to shoot Victor, and he fires another shot after the hostage gets out of the way. Horatio stands over Victor, who asks if God will forgive him for what they did to Troy Faber—Horatio tells him there’s “not a chance” of forgiveness.
Ultimately, it is revealed that Rocco and Victor were responsible for Troy’s death, but Darren was falsely convicted. He spent the past 19 years in jail thinking they were all innocent, that their lives were all ruined by this mistake, and it pushes him over the edge when he finds out the truth. He overhears Victor and Rocco talking about Troy Faber, expressing their glee at getting out of jail after killing the boy, and he’s stunned by the revelation that they would do this and drag him down with them. He goes back to the scene of the original crime and finds where Victor and Rocco buried the murder weapon—his own javelin from when he was part of the track and field team in high school—and returns to exact his revenge on the men responsible for ruining his life. Rocco had already been stabbed once by Troy’s mother when Darren found him, and he finished the job. Rocco’s death is brutal, but it’s hard not to empathize with Darren. Victor and Rocco destroyed his life the day they killed Troy Faber, and Darren visits Troy’s grave to apologize for what happened to him. The boy didn’t deserve to die, and Darren didn’t deserve to spend half his life in jail for a murder he didn’t commit.
“A Few Dead Men” ends with Frank closing the case, and it’s clear that the murder of Troy Faber still weighs heavily on his mind. The case was his very first homicide back in 1992, and it was the first time he’d ever seen such a brutal murder. It was like Troy was staring straight at him. Throughout the hour, Frank is visibly affected by his memories of the case, and at the end of the episode, he takes the photo of Troy out of the evidence box before he puts everything away. He carries the photo out to the crime scene and places it between the tree roots. Horatio is with him, and he asks Frank if he’s going to be okay. It has been 19 years, Frank reminds him, and he doesn’t think he’ll ever get over what happened to the boy. Horatio says this is what makes Frank a good man, and he gives him some time alone. Rex Linn does a wonderful job of showing Frank’s conflicted emotions throughout the episode, particularly in the moments where he is silently reliving the horror of the original case. Frank speaks out a few times during the hour, but most of his feelings are expressed in more subtle ways. Linn does so much with these little moments, especially the haunted, vulnerable facial expressions that accompany Frank’s memories of Troy Faber’s murder. This case had a tremendous effect on him, and it no doubt helped to shape the man into the strong, determined detective he is today.
See also: “A Few Dead Men” episode guide