LATEST: A medical examiner has told the Phil Spector murder trial criminalists made mistakes when collecting evidence from the scene of actress Lana Clarkson's shooting death.
Deputy county medical examiner Dr. Louis Pena yesterday (30May07) told the Los Angeles hearing the errors included moving Clarkson's body, which caused blood to come out of her mouth.
Pena testified this movement compromised examining her dress for blood splatter.
He also claimed the lost tooth fragment, which occupied much of the hearing earlier this month (May07), was due to a forensic dentist.
Pena said, "There were three vials collected to be examined by the odontologist. What happened is on review in meeting with the odontologist he admitted he broke one of the vials and the tooth fragment was lost. It flew around the room somewhere."
Pena explained how this occurred: "When my back was turned he took it out, cracked the vial, panicked - as he told me - and sealed it again."
On Tuesday (28May07), Pena testified Clarkson was murdered, and did not commit suicide, and that she died instantly after a gun was fired inside her mouth. He also said the gun had been wiped and Clarkson's blood was in the left pocket of Spector's trousers.
The medical examiner yesterday told the court how he found some tooth fragments on a nearby staircase, showing the force of the gun shot had sent two teeth flying.
Pena also confirmed that a piece of acrylic nail was missing from the victim's right thumb - last week (ends25May07), Judge Paul Fidler ruled forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee removed and hid the fingernail.
Spector is accused of the fatal shooting of Clarkson at his home in Alhambra, California in February 2003. He has pleaded not guilty and claims Clarkson committed suicide.
The trial continues.