Likely Spector DNA found on actress - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Likely Spector DNA found on actress

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Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2007 9:22 pm | Updated: 6:14 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

LOS ANGELES - DNA consistent with Phil Spector's genetic markers was found on Lana Clarkson's breast but was not present on the gun that killed her, on the bullets in the weapon or under her broken fingernail, a sheriff's criminalist testified Tuesday.

Steve Renteria, who said he has worked with DNA analysis since 1994, made the disclosures under cross-examination by defense attorney Christopher Plourd in the music producer's murder trial. A prosecutor had not raised the issue of DNA on the actress' breast during his inquiry.

A swab from Lana Clarkson's left breast "yielded a mixed profile that was consistent with two donors," Renteria said. "The major donor in that sample was Lana Clarkson herself - it's her own skin surface so one would predict that - and the minor donor, the types found, were consistent with - were originating from Phil Spector."

A microscopic examination revealed no sperm cells, Renteria said, but it did find cells that can be found in saliva, as well as lining the mucous membranes of all body openings.

However, Renteria said he could find no DNA consistent with Spector on the gun or the bullets in the fully loaded weapon. Only one bullet had been expended from the snub-nose .38-caliber revolver.

Nail scrapings from Clarkson's right thumb also turned up none of Spector's DNA, Renteria said.

The lack of DNA on the gun could raise questions about what a chauffeur saw at Spector's home. He testified that he saw the record producer emerge from his home holding a bloody gun and declare, "I think I killed somebody."

The gun was found on the floor beside Clarkson's leg.

The lack of DNA from Spector under Clarkson's fingernail supports a defense theory that that there was no struggle, and the gun evidence further suggests that Clarkson pulled the trigger. Defense attorneys have argued that Clarkson killed herself.

The prosecution has fought to get a missing piece of Clarkson's acrylic nail that they claim a defense forensic expert found and withheld. Prosecutors have suggested it would help to show the angle of the gun when it was fired and might prove a struggle was involved.

The finding of what is likely Spector's DNA on Clarkson's breast may remind jurors of testimony by sheriff's Detective Mark Lillienfield, who said he felt there were "sexual overtones" to the death scene from the moment he saw the actress slumped in a chair in Spector's foyer, her face and her dress soaked in blood.

Clarkson, 40, the star of the movie "Barbarian Queen," died around 5 a.m. on Feb. 3, 2003, from a single shot fired in her mouth. She had met Spector just hours earlier while she was working as a hostess at The House of Blues nightclub. He asked her to accompany him to his mansion for a drink.

Prosecutors have relied on testimony from a parade of women who claimed Spector threatened them with guns when they tried to leave his presence after dates. The defense has contended that scientific evidence would prove that Clarkson killed herself.

Renteria explained to jurors the intricacies of DNA testing and the potential for contamination, as well as the frequency figures that would isolate Spector's DNA to him. But he did not offer any theories about how Spector's DNA came to be on Clarkson's breast.

Nor would he say absolutely that Spector was the DNA "donor," only that he was the likeliest donor of anyone in the world.

The witness also gave jurors an example of how DNA can become contaminated. He said that during testing in the Spector case his own DNA wound up in a "control" test tube by accident. He said that in such a large laboratory with so many employees, contamination can occur.

"I had confidence the other samples were fine," he said.

Spector, 67, became famous in the 1960s and '70s after his "Wall of Sound" technique revolutionized the recording of rock music.

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