|Original Airdate||January 16, 2011|
|Previous Episode: F-T-F|
|Next Episode: Last Stand|
Wheels Up is the twelfth episode in season nine of CSI: Miami.
When the CSIs investigate a murder at a roller derby match, the only thing shorter than the girls' skirts are their tempers.
Wrath of Connie is a jammer on the Miami Masochists roller derby team, but she’s having an off night. She heads into the locker room during the middle of a bout, but she doesn’t come out alive. Her real name is Connie Briggs, and someone hit her hard enough with an object to break her rib. Dr Loman posits that the broken rib must have ruptured something and caused her to bleed out internally.
Ryan speaks with Miami Spice, aka Olivia Adler, a rival player who got into a fight with Connie during the game. However, Olivia was in the penalty box known as the “Sin Bin” when Connie was murdered, and footage from the game confirms that she didn’t leave the rink. However, Masochist player D’Beat Down, aka Deb Taylor, got knocked off the track and didn’t return for 15 minutes. Deb and Connie were “derby wives”, partners in crime on and off the track. They had a bond, and they were supposed to be there for each other. She should have had Connie’s back, but she was signing autographs and posing for pictures while Connie was being murdered in the locker room.
Loman confirms that Connie’s chest cavity is filled with blood from a massive vessel rupture caused by the broken rib. He found ipecac in her stomach contents, which is used to induce vomiting. That’s why she went into the locker room during the bout. There’s some bruising on her gums from an ill-fitting mouthguard, which didn’t belong to her. The person who dosed her with ipecac had to use their own mouth to mold the mouthguard, and Natalia finds male DNA. It belongs to Vince Kessler, who says he just wanted Connie to get sick so she couldn’t play.
Lucy Strickland is Connie’s emergency contact and roommate, and she comes to the lab. She’s been friends with Connie since freshman year, but she claims nobody would want to hurt her. They didn’t talk about the roller derby much because that was Connie’s thing, but Lucy does remember Connie mentioning a woman named Tara and Feathered. They had a beef when Connie joined the roller derby four months ago. Natalia and Horatio speak to Tara Werner, and they discover that she severed her T9 and T10 vertebrae during a scuffle with Connie on the track. She doesn’t blame Connie, though, it’s just part of the game.
Vince is Tara’s brother, and he’s angry that they think she had anything to do with this. Tara’s injuries provide motive for Vince to kill Connie, but he claims he didn’t do it—still, he says, karma is a bitch. Tara says her paralysis has been tough on Vince, but he knows she didn’t blame Connie. Horatio asks her to use her roller derby expertise to identify the strange bruise left behind by the murder weapon. She has no trouble figuring out what caused the mark: an elbow pad.
Loman shows Natalia evidence of domestic abuse in Connie’s x-rays. He locates a fragment of bone, which is from a previous rib fracture. It has been healing for at least six months, but the new rib fracture dislodged the fragment; it was this piece of bone that shredded her thorasic aorta. Natalia and Horatio talk to Lucy, who says Connie broke up with a guy named Jake McGrath about four months ago. Connie doesn’t seem like the type to keep quiet about abuse, but Lucy says that’s why she joined the roller derby: it made her feel empowered and in control.
They bring Jake in, and Horatio points out that he put Connie in the hospital on several occasions. They find a punching bag at his house with indentations from elbow pads, but Jake says the marks were made by Connie and a friend when they were practicing. It wasn’t Deb, though, it was Lucy. The pair of them were hellbent on joining the roller derby, and the team finds equipment in Lucy’s trunk. Her elbow pads are heavier than the ones used by Connie’s teammates and rivals because she replaced the plastic plates with steel, which increased the force of her hit and enabled her to break Connie’s rib.
It was Lucy’s idea to join the derby, but Connie was the one who excelled. Lucy didn’t make any of the squads, and she and Connie drifted apart. Lucy went into the locker room to clean out her stuff, and she saw Connie after she threw up during the bout. Connie told Lucy she might not be cut out for the derby because she’s not fierce enough, and Lucy slammed the elbow pad into her back one time before running out. With the murder solved, Deb skates around the rink with Connie’s jersey to honor her memory, and the team, as well as Tara and Vince, sits in the audience to watch the roller derby bout.
Despite being cleared of Connie's murder, Jake McGrath is locked in an interrogation room by Horatio, who shuts the window binds, and the closing shot of Jake's pleas for mercy heard through the covered room indicates that Horatio is about to beat him severely in retaliation of Connie's abuse.
- David Caruso as Horatio Caine
- Emily Procter as Calleigh Duquesne
- Adam Rodríguez as Eric Delko
- Jonathan Togo as Ryan Wolfe
- Rex Linn as Frank Tripp
- Eva LaRue as Natalia Boa Vista
- Omar Benson Miller as Walter Simmons
Guest Cast Edit
- Christian Clemenson as Tom Loman
- Christopher Redman as Michael Travers
- Wes Ramsey as Dave Benton
- Clare Grant as Connie Briggs
- Zoe Bell as Deb Taylor
- Hayley Marie Norman as Olivia Adler
- Lindsay Pulsipher as Tara Werner
- Johanna Braddy as Lucy Strickland
- Matthew Currie Holmes as Vince Kessler
- Todd Lowe as Jake McGrath
- Kelli Dawn Hancock as Top Hun
- Jennifer Vidas as Referee
- Scott Ferrall as Announcer
- Desiree Hall as Sara Clark