LOS ANGELES – Listen up, "CSI" fans: It's not as easy as it looks on TV.
An expert testified in record producer Phil Spector's murder trial Wednesday that latent fingerprints rarely are found on guns used in crimes and that none was found on the gun that killed actress Lana Clarkson.
"We only get fingerprints off guns 8 to 10 percent of the time," said Donna Brandelli, a sheriff's forensic identification specialist. Prints rarely adhere to the shiny metal surface of a gun or a wooden grip, she said.
Coincidentally, Brandelli noted in testimony on her experience and education that she is writing a doctoral thesis on "the CSI effect and jurors' expectations based on their television viewing habits" -- referring to the hit TV show about forensic investigators.
She said she used every scientific technique available to her to search for fingerprints on the .38-caliber revolver and on bullets taken from the gun found at Clarkson's feet in Spector's mansion.
"I met with negative results," she said. "We were unable to isolate any fingerprints."
Brandelli said investigators had better luck finding fingerprints on the bottom of Clarkson's shoe, on two brandy snifters, a bottle of tequila and a ginger ale bottle on Spector's coffee table.
Her colleague, Dale Falicon, who tried to match the prints, testified the glasses and bottles had prints from Clarkson and Spector. The print on the bottom of the shoe could not be matched with anyone.
Earlier, a coroner's criminalist denied compromising evidence while collecting fibers, hairs and debris from Clarkson's body.
Jaime Lintemoot, called by the prosecution in an attempt to fill in any gaps in the story of evidence collection, said that she used "tape lifts" to remove fibers from the abdomen of Clarkson's black slip dress.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Linda Kenney-Baden suggested that by applying the large patch of sticky material to the dress, she had obliterated blood spatter evidence crucial to the case.
But Lintemoot said she did not believe she compromised evidence. She acknowledged that she was called to a meeting at the coroner's office a year after the 2003 killing to explain her procedures and that she never looked at the tape lift to see if there were blood stains on it.
She said her decision to remove Clarkson's clothing at the coroner's office rather than at the scene became a problem when the movement of the body caused more blood to flow out of Clarkson's nose onto her jacket. The right sleeve of the jacket, which was clean in photos taken at the scene, was covered in blood after the body was moved, she said.
The pattern of blood spatter from the gunshot is a key element in the defense case, with lawyers suggesting it will tell how far away Spector was standing from the actress when the gun was fired.
Clarkson, 40, star of the movie "Barbarian Queen," was killed by a shot fired in her mouth on Feb. 3, 2003. Her body was found slumped in a chair in a foyer, and prosecutors claim Spector shot her. The defense says she shot herself.
Spector, 67, was a top producer in the 1960s and '70s with a revolutionary recording technique known as the "Wall of Sound."