'CSI' = Crime Scene Instructions?

Jermaine McKinney is lead to his arraignment to the Trumbull County courthouse, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2006. McKinney, 25, allegedly used bleach to get blood off his hands to avoid leaving a blood trail, used bed covers and blankets to cover the seats in a car he and accomplices used to leave the murder scene. (AP Photo/The Tribune Chronicle, Steve Schenck) AP

When Tammy Klein began investigating crime scenes eight years ago, it was virtually unheard of for a killer to use bleach to clean up a bloody mess.

Today, the use of bleach, which destroys DNA, is not unusual in a planned homicide, said the senior criminalist from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Klein and other experts attribute such sophistication to television crime dramas like "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," which give criminals helpful tips on how to cover up evidence.

Prosecutors have complained for years about "the CSI effect" on juries — an expectation in every trial for the type of high-tech forensic evidence the show's investigators uncover. It also appears the popular show and its two spinoffs could be affecting how some crimes are committed.

"They're actually educating these potential killers even more," said Capt. Ray Peavy, also of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and head of the homicide division. "Sometimes I believe it may even encourage them when they see how simple it is to get away with on television."

A man charged in a recent double-homicide in northeast Ohio was a "CSI" fan and went to great lengths to cover his tracks, according to an affidavit filed by Trumbull County prosecutors.

Jermaine "Maniac" McKinney, 25, allegedly broke into a house, killed a mother and daughter and used bleach to remove their blood from his hands, prosecutors said. He also allegedly covered the interior of a getaway car with blankets to avoid transferring blood.

Prosecutors said McKinney burned the bodies, his clothing and removed his cigarette butts — which would contain his DNA — from the crime scene.

According to the affidavit, he also tried to throw some evidence into a lake, including a crowbar used to bludgeon one of the victims. The lake was frozen though and he shouted a profanity when the crowbar remained on the surface.

Investigators later recovered the evidence. McKinney, who was indicted this month on two counts of aggravated murder, aggravated burglary and other charges, could face the death penalty if convicted.
  • Gina Pace

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