CSI: Miami--'Presumed Guilty'

By Kristine Huntley
Posted at February 12, 2009 - 12:40 AM GMT

See Also: 'Presumed Guilty' Episode Guide

Synopsis:

Calleigh, Natalia and Delko testify in the murder trial of Alfonso Reyes, a golf instructor at Palm Court Country club accused of strangling a young woman named Lindsay Garland just six weeks ago. Lindsay's hair and saliva were found on Reyes' shirt, and the CSIs believe he strangled her with a belt, which, Reyes' defense attorney Derek Powell reminds the jury, was never found. After a quick deliberation, the jury finds Alfonso Reyes guilty--just as, in the morgue, Dr. Price and Horatio are re-examining Lindsay's body. When a blowfly emerges from the body bag, Horatio realizes something is awry: witnesses found Reyes with Lindsay's body in the locker room, but if a blowfly managed to lay an egg in her nasal passage after death, she had to have been killed or transported outside at some point. The team is back to square one with the case. Horatio talks to Powell and learns that a woman named Tammy Witten came forward at the last minute claiming she'd seen Lindsay in the passenger seat of a car after her death, but Powell dismissed Tammy, citing her record of drug use. Natalia and Tripp question Tammy, who is in the hospital after a near drug overdose. Tammy tells Natalia that she saw Lindsay dead in the passenger seat of a silver car, which sideswiped a wall driving away on Third Street. Natalia and Ryan go to the alley Tammy mentioned seeing the car in and discover paint transfer from the car as well as blowflies that are an exact match for the one found on Lindsay's body. After retrieving Lindsay's car from the impound lot, Delko and Calleigh go over it and find the paint transfer in the alley is indeed from Lindsay's car. They also find an odd blood pattern inside the car. In jail, Alfonso Reyes tells Horatio that he met Lindsay when she used to sneak into the country club looking for men. They had a brief affair, and the day of her murder they fought when he caught her sneaking onto the premises again. He tells Horatio she was involved with a club patron named Andy Durbin.

After Calleigh matches the blood pattern to a golf glove, Horatio questions Andy. It is Andy's friend, Kevin Sheridan, who rouses his suspicions. Horatio goes back to Lindsay's car and finds DNA residue in the air filter, but Kevin Sheridan refuses to give over his DNA--and Horatio is surprised to learn the man's lawyer is none other than Derek Powell. Horatio goes to the judge from the Reyes trial, Gregory Thorpe, but he won't give the CSI a warrant for Sheridan, a man he notes is a friend of the mayor. Horatio pays another visit to Reyes, who is incensed now that he realizes why Powell pushed for a speedy trial. He tells Horatio more about the day of the murder: he was ironing his uniform in the locker room and stepped away to take a call. When he returned, Lindsay's body was in his locker. Horatio gets the iron and Calleigh recovers skin from it, which matches the DNA from the flecks of skin in Lindsay's car's air filter. She's elated, until Powell shows up with an order to suppress the evidence because Calleigh made a stop after retrieving it and left it unattended briefly. Ryan pulls Sheridan over for a minor speeding offense and gets in his face, resulting in an altercation that allows Powell to file a complaint against Ryan on Sheridan's behalf. Horatio is forced to remove Ryan from active duty. Calleigh and Delko go over pictures Ryan took of Sheridan's car after their altercation and notice a prescription bottle in his car for the same drug Tammy ODed on. They examine the car closely and notice a eye visible through the broken taillight of Sheridan's car and suspect that Tammy, who has been missing since she checked out of the hospital, has been kidnapped by Sheridan.

Armed with the picture, Horatio is finally able to get the DNA warrant, along with a search warrant, from Judge Thorpe. Horatio and Delko find Sheridan with Powell at his house and serve Sheridan with the warrant. There's no sign of Tammy in either the trunk of the car or the house, so Horatio decides to hold Sheridan for 48 hours in the hopes that it will give them time to find her. After Sheridan is taken away, Horatio turns to Powell, who tells the CSI he's represented Sheridan for ten years. Though it would be a breach of attorney-client privilege to directly reveal if he knows whether Sheridan kidnapped the girl, Powell does mention another property Sheridan owns and was hoping to turn into a golf course. Horatio takes to the air in a helicopter to search for Tammy, aware that Sheridan used mylar blankets to conceal her whereabouts. The team finds her tied up in a cellar. The DNA from the air filter and iron pin the murder squarely on Kevin Sheridan, and he signs a confession in exchange for a deal. He romanced Lindsay, but when she put pressure on him to leave his wife and threatened to tell the woman, he killed her and tried to pin it on Reyes. Sheridan is offered a deal in exchange for turning over his accomplice: Judge Thorpe, who helped him hide the body and presided over Reyes' trial. Horatio goes to arrest the judge, who claims he didn't want to help but felt he had no choice. Horatio has little sympathy: he sent an innocent man to jail. With the real culprits under arrest, Alfonso Reyes is released from jail.

Analysis:

P. Diddy enhances rather than stealing the spotlight from what is an exciting, twist-filled episode. Sure, we know that Alfonso Reyes, the sweet-faced young man who is convicted of murder in the teaser of the episode can't be guilty of it--if for no other reason than the fact that he's convicted in the teaser--but it's definitely a shock when we learn the judge presiding over the trial is involved! Though we don't see much of Thorpe, the glimpses we do get reveal he's definitely a political player, a man who might not like that some people's connections put them virtually above the law, but one who understands this is the case and what's more, is willing to go along with it. Jim Pirri gives the judge a world-weary air that almost makes the audience sympathize with him--until we remember that he's guilty of helping to move a young woman's dead body and cover up the crime by, as Horatio reminds the judge, sending an innocent man to prison.

Unlike the arrogant Kevin Sheridan or even the slimy Derek Powell, the judge doesn't immediately stand out as a villain. When Horatio comes to him asking for a warrant for Sheridan's DNA, the judge's reasons for refusing to grant it are understandable, albeit clearly political. And yet, he seems (and turns out to be) sincere when he tells Horatio to bring him something more substantial and he'll grant the team a warrant. When Calleigh brings Thorpe the photographs Ryan took of Sheridan's car, he balks in surprise and perhaps horror as he looks at them and turns to sign the warrant. Pirri gives us the sense that while the judge clearly made a serious, inexcusable misstep, he isn't a monster. He tripped my potential suspect radar when he wouldn't sign Horatio's warrant, but I'm glad he turned out to be a more complex character than the unrepentant Kevin Sheridan, who happily turns the judge over in exchange for a deal we know he most certainly does not deserve.

Sean Combs acquits himself decently as slimy Derek Powell, who takes Alfonso Reyes' case only to assure he's convicted of the crime Kevin Sheridan committed. He seems to have eyes and ears everywhere, first thwarting Calleigh after she returns with the iron from Reyes' locker with a DNA sample on it by filing a motion to suppress based on the fact that Calleigh left the evidence unattended in the car for a few minutes and then by filing a complaint against Ryan after he pulls Kevin Sheridan over and gets aggressive with him. Clearly Powell's client has plenty of money on hand to keep Powell dogging the CSIs around the clock, and Powell himself was unscrupulous enough to pull every trick in the book. By the time Horatio and Delko got their warrant, I'd written Powell off, so I was pleasantly surprised to see he did indeed have a conscience, finally relenting and revealing to Horatio where Sheridan was keeping Tammy. Granted, he did it in a way that saved his own skin and avoided a direct violation of the attorney-client privilege, but at least he did do the right thing. As Powell, Combs projects an aura of confidence and self-assuredness, particularly in the courtroom scenes in the teaser.

I quite like that Ryan somewhat rashly decided to go after Sheridan on his own. Ryan has had little to do this season and that's a shame as he's one of the most interesting characters on the show. While Horatio, Delko and Calleigh rarely do anything that violates the rules, Ryan will skirt and occasionally cross lines he probably shouldn't, as he does here. Clearly frustrated by the way Sheridan's lawyer is railroading the case, Ryan takes matters into his own hands, tracking Sheridan and pulling him over for a minor moving violation. The attempt backfires on Ryan when Powell files a complaint against him, but the photographs Ryan takes of Sheridan's car prove invaluable to the case. Jonathan Togo channels a fierce energy in the scene; Ryan is determined to get Sheridan, even if it means he has to think outside the box. I was a little surprised at how far Ryan went--he really did get aggressive with Sheridan--but as we saw in "And They're Offed" when he fought with the Russian mobster and really laid into him, Ryan does have an aggressive side. Might this be something that gets him into trouble again down the road?

Ryan's little stunt ends up costing him his badge and gun, at least for a brief time (presumably he gets it back at the end of the episode after Sheridan is arrested, though we don't actually see it happening). Given that he seems genuinely surprise and upset when Horatio pulls his badge, it doesn't seem like he fully thought through the potential consequences of his actions. At first I thought that Ryan had basically set himself up to take a brief fall in the interest of getting pictures of the car to help further the case, but his genuine surprise when Horatio removes him from active duty suggests Ryan hadn't thought things all the way through. It would have been nice to see a bit more between Ryan and Horatio in this scene--was Horatio irritated that Ryan took matters into his own hands? Did he sympathize with and approve of Ryan's actions, even if he couldn't come out and say it? Horatio is a bit elusive in this scene, which denies the moment of a beat of understanding and camaraderie between the two characters.

I was grateful for a break from the "will they or won't they" tension between Delko and Calleigh. Though I like the idea of the two together, their progress is slow, and having a scene between them in every episode where we can feel the tension but watch them try to ignore it is overkill. We do need to see some follow up from his proclamation in "Smoke Gets in Your CSIs", but not addressing it in the episode immediately following that was a wise choice. One thing I would like to see more of? Coroner Tara Price. We first met her in episode two of this season, "Won't Get Fueled Again", but in the thirteen episodes that have followed, we've learned little about her aside from the fact that she thinks outside the box and seemed to get off to a slightly rocky start with Delko. Megalyn Echikunwoke seems to be an actress with depth and charm and while coroners usually end up getting the short shrift along with the detectives, it would be nice to have her allotted a little more of the spotlight, especially when the audience is still getting to know her.

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Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.