Casey Anthony CSI: Outline of Heart Decal On Duct Tape
FBI print expert describes the 10 ways she tried to lift prints from duct tape.
ORLANDO, Fla. June 13, 2011— -- An FBI forensics expert testified today in the Casey Anthony murder trial that she found the outline of a heart-shaped sticker on a piece of duct tape that was on the decomposed skull of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony.
The heart shaped outline, likened to the outline of debris that gathers around the edges of a used band-aid, was similar to a heart-shaped sticker that was found at the scene where Caylee's body was discovered. It was also similar to a roll of heart-shaped stickers that police found in Casey Anthony's bedroom.
The testimony by FBI latent print analyst Elizabeth Fontaine was like an episode of the popular television series "CSI," as she presented a tutorial on how to search for fingerprints.
Fontaine told the court that she didn't expect to find latent prints on the three pieces of duct tape that had been found on Caylee's skull, and had been left out in the elements for many weeks. Three times Fontaine was asked if she was able to recover fingerprints on each piece of tape, and three times she answered: "No, I was not."
Prosecutors contend that Casey Anthony killed her daughter in June 2008 by placing duct tape over her nose and mouth, smothering her.
Casey Anthony's lawyer argues that Caylee drowned and her mother never told anyone. The medical examiner has determined that Caylee's death was a homicide, but the body was too decomposed to zero in on a cause of death.
Casey Anthony could be sentenced to death if found guilty.
Defense attorney José Baez walked Fontaine through her 11-step process for retrieving fingerprints. Jurors were treated to a thorough overview of Fontaine's examination from a quick visual inspection to the use of lasers, UV lights, super glue, and dyes to enhance images on the evidence.
Casey Anthony CSI
Fontaine said her examinations began with a visual examination looking for possible prints. She said she next used a laser, like a laser pointer, because its frequencies can help show the outlines of prints not visible to the naked eye.
Still not finding prints, Fontaine said she used an ultraviolet light. It has a different frequency than the laser and could pick up any prints that may have fluorescent qualities.
Normal super glue was her next step. It was applied in a humidity chamber. Any latent prints would attract the moisture and the moisture would attract the glue, which would then form a "coating or shell" over the print, she said.
A UV light was then shown down on the tape through a camera with a filter and the image was shown on a screen to eliminate any reflective properties that might obscure a print and take away what she called the "3D effect" caused by dirt or crinkly of the tape.
A dye stain was then applied because the superglue will dry white or clear, which can be hard to see. With the stain, the glue would glow orange under a fluorescent light, making any print stand out. No print emerged on the duct tape.
Alternate black powder was then applied. Mixed with a solution and painted on to the object, it would adhere to where ever the superglue was, but it still failed to bring up a print.
Regular black powder was also used to search for a print. The powder would adhere to any moisture or oil left by a hand print, Fontaine said.
Judge Belvin Perry excused the jurors until 1 p.m. Tuesday. Perry announced to the court that the proceedings were "running ahead of schedule" and said the state could finish its case on Tuesday. The defense could begin its case as early as Wednesday. Perry estimated that the jury could begin deliberating the fate of Casey Anthony by June 25.
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