Wednesday, January 7 at 8.30pm
The plaza outside Biscayne Courthouse buzzes with reporters as 32 year-old Cheri Lyle, flanked by her lawyer, approaches the courthouse steps. Elsewhere in the plaza a man, Don Landis, holds a closed umbrella by his side as he nervously checks his watch. Cheri’s ex-husband, Brad, watches her from the crowd as she makes her way up the steps. Calleigh and Ryan arrive at the courthouse in mid-argument over Ryan’s violation of protocol. Horatio arrives at the courthouse prepared for something to go down and calls for backup. Tripp recognizes the man with the umbrella and initiates chase. Manning pulls a gun from his pocket and points it at Cheri. Horatio pulls his gun and warns Manning not to shoot. Shots are fired. Manning goes down, Cheri is hit and it’s hard to tell who is shooting and who is shot. Ryan instinctively shields Calleigh, knocking her to the ground. Horatio moves in to survey the scene.
EIGHT HOURS EARLIER: Cheri leaves the lab, thanking Calleigh for her help with Cheri’s child custody case. Meanwhile, a very agitated Brad Manning pays Horatio a visit, pleading with Caine to help him protect Amy, his 8 year-old daughter. In the child custody battle, both Manning and Cheri are accusing each other of abuse. The evidence – blood found in the child’s underwear by the Department of Children’s Services. Horatio goes to Amy’s school to question her and finds her reading a library book. He takes great care in talking with the little girl as he asks her about her relationship with her father. Amy tells Horatio she and her dad have a little secret that she can’t tell.
On his way to a Miami Shores crime scene, Tripp gets in a fender-bender with Landis (the man with the umbrella at the courthouse), who flees the scene of the accident. Delko and Alexx are at the Miami Shores crime scene where the victim, Bill Keller, either committed suicide or was pushed from his balcony. Alexx’s examination reveals that Keller had multiple fractures, ruling out suicide. Delko and Tripp investigate Keller’s apartment; Delko discovers a scattering of fibers on the floor that match Keller’s shirt and indicate a struggle. Delko finds a split cable wire which could be a motive. Tripp questions Keller’s neighbor, Greg Rondinelli, about the split cable. Rondinelli agrees he was angry about paying for Keller’s porn movies, but didn’t murder him over it.
Wolfe tells Horatio Manning isn’t Amy’s biological father. Yelina’s investigation reveals Cheri has been arrested for extortion, wire fraud and blackmail and is currently running personal ads online. Cheri declares there is nothing illegal about her personal ads.
In autopsy, Alexx determines two important facts: Keller was into kinky sex and his killer used hair dye. On Horatio’s hunch, the lab tests – and finds – a match between Keller’s blood and that found in Amy’s underwear. Calleigh then finds a photo of Cheri and Amy, posed in bikinis, on Keller’s computer hard drive. Cheri admits she and Keller were dating, but claims he was not molesting Amy.
Horatio suspects Brad Manning, whose blonde highlights explain the hair dye found on Keller’s body, killed Keller for molesting Amy and fears he’s now off to the courthouse to kill Cheri.
BACK TO PRESENT TIME: As Brad Manning lies dying, Horatio promises not to let Amy come to any harm. Cheri is off to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the arm. Horatio attempts to put Amy in protective custody, but without solid proof of the sexual abuse, Cheri can pick Amy up after her release.
The bullets from the courthouse plaza aren’t matching up; Manning fired a .38 and Cheri was hit with a 45 caliber. Calleigh and Ryan return to the crime scene and determine the position of an “unknown shooter,” and collect fragmented newspaper shavings from the spot. They concur that the rounds were fired too close together to have come from one shooter.
Tripp gets details from Landis, a cab driver, about a man he picked up from the airport and who paid him to open an umbrella in front of the courthouse security camera at exactly 4:00 pm, obscuring its view of the plaza. Landis dropped him at the Shore Club earlier that day. Horatio ID’s the man as Vincent Lesca, a victim in Cheri’s federal fraud case. Tripp and Delko question Lesca. Wolfe suspects that Lesca’s bullet was meant for Manning, not Cheri.
Wolfe greets Calleigh’s father, Duke, as he departs the elevator. Duke’s been having some health challenges and Calleigh has been taking care of him, something Ryan didn’t know and which explains some of Calleigh’s preoccupation of late. Lesca’s DNA reveals he is Amy’s biological father, and he confesses to shooting Brad Manning. He knew from the photo he saw on the web site that Amy was his daughter and felt this was his only chance to have a family.
Amy is nowhere to be found, but Horatio has an idea where she might be; he locates her at the library, nestled safe within the pages of a book. Amy explains she had seen her mother coming to get her and escaped out the window, unwilling to be “nice” to her mommy’s boyfriends any longer. Horatio reassures her she won’t have to and that she’ll be safe. Duke Duquesne will now be representing Amy.