Mass Murder Attorneys|Chary of Fingerprints

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CN) – Attorneys for accused mass murder James Holmes on Monday got a second crack at trying to have forensic evidence ruled unreliable in a pretrial hearing.
     Holmes, 26, is accused of killing 12 people and injuring dozens more in a shooting spree at an Aurora, Colo. movie theater during a midnight premiere of a Batman movie.
     On Monday, Arapahoe County Judge Carlos Samour heard arguments on a defense motion which called fingerprint evidence unreliable.
     This is not the first time the defense has called forensic evidence into question. Two hearings in July were held to determine whether ballistics and chemical evidence should be excluded from Holmes’ trial. Judge Samour ruled that both types of evidence will be allowed.
     Although Monday’s hearing was about a defense motion, only the prosecution had witnesses ready.
     Prosecutor Rich Orman asked FBI fingerprint examiner Melissa Gische to testify about the method examiners use and whether they can be used to identify someone.
     “Fingerprints can be done in an accurate and reliable manner,” Gische said.
     Defense attorney Katherine Spengler tried to cast doubt on the science of fingerprinting, by saying that bias and stress could have a factor on whether an examiner can match prints.
     “Any factor can affect the examiner,” Gische said. “That’s why training and quality assurance measures are important.”
     Spengler asked Gische about a study that shows that there are no error rates in fingerprint methodology.
     “I disagree,” Gische countered. “Those studies don’t test the methodology, just the examiners.”
     Orman wrapped up Gische’s testimony by asking about the history of fingerprinting research.
     “Are there any studies out there that show fingerprinting is useless?” Orman asked.
     “Not that I am aware of, no,” Gische replied.
     One of the examiners who actually looked at prints from Holmes’ apartment also testified Monday morning. Her testimony generally paralleled Gische – though she also said she found a print on a gun and tactical manual that match Holmes’ prints.
     A pre-trial readiness hearing is scheduled for Nov. 3.
     The trial is to start in December.

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