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Casey Anthony murder trial: the case of the disappearing 'heart'

An FBI fingerprint expert testifies at the Casey Anthony murder trial that she saw, with ultraviolet light, a heart-shaped outline on duct tape that prosecutors say was used to smother little Caylee.

Casey Anthony stands in the courtroom with her defense attorney Jose Baez (l.) as the jury enters during her trial at the Orange County Courthouse on Monday, June 13, in Orlando, Fla. Anthony is charged with killing her 2-year-old daughter in 2008.

Red Huber/AP

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An FBI fingerprint expert testified on Monday in an Orlando murder trial that she noticed a heart-shaped outline on a piece of duct tape that prosecutors say was used by a Florida mother to smother her 2-year-old daughter.

Elizabeth Fontaine, a forensic examiner in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s latent print unit, told the jury that she noticed the heart-shaped object while using ultraviolet light to inspect the duct tape for possible fingerprints.

“It was approximately the size of a dime,” Ms. Fontaine said. She said the shape was defined by a residue outline.

“If you were to wear a band-aid for an extended period of time you have that glue and debris outline,” she said. “Rather than a band-aid it is in the shape of a heart.”

In a strange twist, the heart-shaped outline mysteriously disappeared from the duct tape before forensic experts were able to photograph it.

Analysts have speculated that the outline was caused by a small heart-shaped sticker. The presence of a heart-shaped sticker on the duct tape would be important because prosecutors contend that the heavy-duty tape was the murder weapon used by Casey Anthony to kill her daughter Caylee in June 2008.

Ms. Anthony is charged with first-degree murder. She allegedly drugged her daughter with chloroform, suffocated her by affixing three pieces of duct tape 6 to 8 inches long over her nose and mouth, hid the body in the trunk of her car for several days, and then dumped it in a wooded area not far from the family home.


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