SPOKANE, Wash. – The trial of Clay Starbuck, charged with killing his ex-wife Chanin and sexually violating her remains, entered its third week Monday at the Spokane County Courthouse.
Chanin Starbuck was found strangled to death in her Deer Park home in December of 2011, and Clay Starbuck was arrested for her murder two months later. The couple was recently divorced at the time, and have five children.
Prosecutors are still calling witnesses, and Monday several forensic specialists and detectives testified who were at the crime scene and processed evidence.
They focused on fingerprints Monday morning, including how they're collected, and the factors that affect whether a usable print may be left behind.
Fingerprints were taken off several items in Chanin's bedroom where she was found, including a personal massager, camera packaging and a notebook. Those prints then go into a database called the Automated Fingerprint Identification System to find a match. In Washington State, forensics specialists testified there are two million possible matches.
However, it's whom the fingerprints didn't match that drew attention in court.
"The 12 fingerprints taken from the scene, did they match Mr. Starbuck?" defense lawyer Derek Reid asked. "No, they did not," Forensic Specialist Lori Prueninger testified.
However, another forensic specialist testified that a fingerprint isn't always left behind when a person touches something. Several factors are at play – the surface touched, the environment, the subject's hands – and of course, whether they are wearing gloves.
Also in court Monday morning, lawyers on both sides spoke with a juror in the case, who said she'd seen a member of the Starbuck family at church. Nothing was said between the two, and lawyers did not find any reason to dismiss her.
The state is expected to continue calling witnesses through Tuesday. The defense is expected to begin its case on Wednesday by calling two witnesses who are expected to testify they saw Clay Starbuck's car on North High Desert Drive the day of Chanin's murder.