SANTA MARIA, Calif. – A sheriff's technician testified Thursday in Michael Jackson (search)'s molestation trial that she found a fingerprint from the brother of Jackson's accuser in an adult magazine seized from the singer's home.
The prosecution began presenting testimony on fingerprint evidence to support the boys' accounts that the pop star showed them sexually explicit magazines at his Neverland ranch.
The testimony followed an effort by defense attorney Robert Sanger to undermine the reliability of the results. He elicited testimony that the magazines were not tested for fingerprints until months after they were seized — and then only after some of them were used in grand jury hearings in which the accuser could have handled them.
Technician Lisa Hemman said the brother's fingerprint was found on a page of a magazine called Finally Legal.
She said she and another examiner initially ruled the print inconclusive in September and October of 2004, but that it was re-examined and found conclusive in a report filed in January.
"As an examiner you always go on the edge of caution," she explained. "If you don't want to rush a job you make it inconclusive."
Hemman said the process involved comparing hundreds of fingerprints to those of three people. She did not name the three, who presumably were the accuser, his brother and Jackson.
She said on first examination they concluded the fingerprint was inconclusive.
"With respect to that particular print, did you have a belief as to who the print was made by when you ruled it inconclusive?" asked Deputy District Attorney Mag Nicola.
"Yes," she said, and named the brother of the accuser.
Hemman also testified the fingerprint of another minor was found but she did not identify that person.
There was no immediate testimony about a magazine alleged to have both a print from the accuser and Jackson.
Jackson is accused of molesting a boy at Neverland in February or March 2003. The magazines were seized in November 2003. The grand jury heard testimony in spring 2004 and fingerprinting was done later that year.
Sanger also elicited testimony from forensic experts focusing on the length of time between the seizure of the evidence and when it was subjected to fingerprint analysis, suggesting the evidence could degrade.
Antonio Cantu, chief of forensics for the Secret Service, said he was not aware of the delay in the fingerprint tests and acknowledged it would have been preferable for the tests to have been done immediately.
But Hemman offered an explanation of why fingerprint analysis was not done immediately.
"We wanted to preserve DNA evidence. Processing for fingerprints could destroy DNA. So you do the testing for DNA before you do the fingerprint testing," she said.
Jackson attorney Brian Oxman (search) remained away from the trial after being hospitalized with pneumonia Wednesday.
In Las Vegas, meanwhile, a prosecution witness — former Jackson bodyguard Christopher E. Carter, 25 — was being held on unrelated charges of kidnapping, burglary and robbery.
Carter was expected to testify he once found Jackson's accuser inebriated and that the boy told him Jackson had encouraged him to drink, Santa Barbara prosecutors said. Officials in Nevada said they will comply with prosecutors' request to have Carter testify.
Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old cancer patient at Neverland, giving him alcohol and conspiring to hold the boy's family captive to get them to make a video rebutting a Feb. 6, 2003, documentary in which he appeared with the boy and said he let children sleep in his bed, but that it was innocent and non-sexual.