A Secret Service forensic scientist testified in Michael Jackson’s child molestation trial it was possible that fingerprints of Jackson’s accuser found on an adult magazine could have degraded in the year it took police to test the magazine after it was seized.
Antonio Cantu, chief of forensics for the Secret Service, said under cross-examination that 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.
Cantu said residue from fingerprints can change over time, although under direct questioning Cantu told the jury that some fingerprints have lasted as long as 50 years. The judge ordered the comment stricken because the witness is not a fingerprint identification expert. Rather, as a chemist, Cantu develops methods for detecting fingerprints but does not match prints for identification purposes.
The prosecution has said that one magazine seized from Jackson’s Neverland ranch has a single fingerprint from Jackson’s accuser and one print from Jackson. The defense claims the accuser could have handled the magazine during grand jury hearings before it was subjected to fingerprint analysis.
Defense attorney Robert Sanger asked whether Cantu would expect the analysis to be done after the material had been presented to a grand jury. “You would expect to do that analysis first,” Cantu said.
“Were you aware that the fingerprint analysis in this case was not done until a year after the evidence was seized?” the attorney asked. “I was not aware of that,” said Cantu.
Jackson, 46, is accused of molesting a 13-year-old cancer patient at his Neverland Ranch in February or March 2003, 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 it was non-sexual.
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