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If I Had a Hammer...
WriterDaniel Steck,
Allen MacDonald,
Corinne Marinan
DirectorBrad Tanenbaum
Original AirdateApril 23, 2009
Previous Episode: A Space Oddity
Next Episode: The Gone Dead Train

If I Had a Hammer... is the twenty-first episode in season nine of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.


The crime lab re-investigates one of Catherine's earliest murder cases from the 1980s when the man who was found guilty motions for a retrial, claiming to have been wrongfully convicted.


Eighteen years ago, Catherine's first solo case as a CSI was the murder of Thomas Harrott, a ninety-one-year old man who was beaten to death during a robbery. Catherine recovered a print on a rock used to break Harrott's window and matched it to Jeremy Kent, a teenager in the neighborhood. Her evidence combined with an eyewitness testimony from a neighbor and testimony from Kent's cellmate claiming Kent had confessed was enough to put Kent away in 1991, but when Kent discovers his cellmate was talked into testifying by the lawyer they shared, Kent realizes he has cause to get the case reopened. With the team's help, Catherine pulls out the old evidence and starts going over it, armed with new technologies that didn't exist in 1991. Archie and Greg listen to Harrott's 911 call and work on matching the vehicle they hear in the background to the Pontiac Kent was driving at the time. Doc Robbins and Langston go over the autopsy report, which they find was shoddily done. Both conclude that Harrott was beaten to death brutally. Catherine responds to a subpoena from Kent for a pre-trial meeting, during which he tries to ruffle her feathers by challenging both her professional inexperience at the time and her personal life with her ex, Eddie. He also tells her he's challenging the print on the rock. While Riley works on the rug Harrott's body was found on and discovers the outline of a hammer in blood, Catherine examines the print on the rock with 21st century technology--and confirms the match to Kent.

Langston examines a boot print found at the scene and finds it's deeper in the toe than the heel, indicating the person who left it might have leapt up. He and Catherine return to the scene to examine the exact place the print was found--just by the fence separating Harrott's house from his neighbor's yard. Recalling that the neighbors' motion detector lights came on, Catherine tells Langston that she searched the neighbors' yard twice and found nothing. Looking at the roof, the two CSIs decide to search it. While they scour it, Catherine is surprised to catch sight of a hammer in the tree--literally sealed in by the bark, which appears to have grown around it. The team recovers the hammer and finds two bloody prints on it. While Hodges is able to confirm that, based on the rate of the tree's growth, the hammer is in all likelihood the murder weapon, Nick and Mandy analyze the prints and aren't able to match either to Kent. Catherine suspects the man had an accomplice, so she visits Kent to try to lean on him to give up the name of the person with him. She tells him she's reconfirmed that his prints are the ones on the rock, but all Kent will admit to is robbing the house--and finding the old man already dead when he got there. Her assurance of Kent's guilt shaken, Catherine turns to Brass, who reminds her they had no doubts about Kent's guilt eighteen years ago--and shouldn't now. Catherine calls on the team to help theorize why Kent might be protecting his accomplice, and they come up with several possibilities: the person is likely a family member, someone he loves or someone he fears.

Archie matches the car engine from the 911 call not to a Pontiac, but to a Dodge. Greg finds the connection in Kent's high school yearbook: a picture of Kent and a young woman named Sabrina Littee standing in front of a Dodge registered at the time to the girl's father, Arthur. Brass visits Sabrina Littee, now Owen, a married mother of two. After Brass asks her about the car, she admits she dated Kent secretly in high school and sometimes loaned him her father's car. Brass hands her a warrant for the Dodge, which is now in her possession. The team goes over it and Catherine finds a bloody shard of glass behind one of the seats, which Hodges is able to confirm is the same glass from Harrott's shattered window--and the blood on it is Sabrina's. Brass questions Sabrina with her husband, a lawyer, present. She admits that Jeremy got her pregnant in high school and he had promised her they would go to Los Angeles together--but first they needed money. He committed several robberies that night while she waited in the car--until she heard a commotion in the Harrott house after Kent went in. She went inside and found Kent standing over Harrott's body--and then he gave her the hammer to throw away. Her husband storms out in disgust while Brass tells her that the felony murder rule allows him to arrest her for a murder committed during a felony regardless of whether or not she struck the fatal blow. Catherine tells Kent that one of the prints on the hammer is a match for his upper finger--while the other matches Sabrina. Kent is shocked to learn Sabrina made a statement confirming Kent killed Harrott. Kent tells Catherine he's never met his child--and hopes that if Sabrina testifies against him, the boy will be there. Catherine reminds him that he had a choice years ago--and that Thomas Harrott didn't.


Main Cast

Guest Cast


  • When Riley types in the license number of the car into the Nevada State Police DMV database, she puts the car plate number into the driver's license field.
  • When Brass goes to Sabrina's house and Sabrina says the line "Can I help you?", Sabrina's hand goes from her hair to her side in between shots.
  • When Hodges holds the petri dish with the glass fragment in it out towards Catherine, the position of the petri dish in his hand changes positions in between shots
  • The tree in which the hammer is found is described as Quercus agrifolia and given the common name desert oak. Q. agrifolia is actually coast live oak and does not grow in Las Vegas. The tree shown in the show does not look like coast live oak.
  • After finding the hammer, they say that the tree grew around it and preserved the prints. However, this process would have taken months of years to occur. Until the hammer was encased by the tree it was exposed to bacteria, insects and all kinds of weather. This would have destroyed almost all traces of the fingerprints and made any kind of print match impossible. It would have also degraded any DNA in the blood and made any genetic match to the victim or suspect(s) impossible.
  • The blood on the piece of glass would have degraded after 18 years, making any kind of DNA match impossible.

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