“CSI” Fans Possibly Better at Crime

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For years, police and prosecutors have complained about the effect of law-and-order shows (like — well, like "Law and Order") on juries.  They say that having watched the shows, jurors expect certain things from the attorneys at trial, and in particular that having watched shows like "CSI" that deal with forensic evidence, jurors are reluctant to convict if such evidence is not presented.

Apparently, these shows are popular with criminals, too.  The AP quoted experts who said that, for example, before the shows started it was "virtually unheard of" for a killer to use bleach to clean up blood.  (I shouldn’t tell you this, but it destroys DNA.)  Now they describe that tactic as "not unusual."  Said one expert from the LA County Sheriff’s Department."They’re actually educating these potential killers even more . . . I believe it may [] encourage them . . . ."

It may have encouraged Jermaine "Maniac" McKinney, described as a "CSI fan," who police say broke into a house, killed two people and then used bleach to destroy evidence.  He also picked up his cigarette butts and lined his car with blankets,  tactics he had seen on the show.  He also threw some evidence, including a murder weapon, into a lake.  Or at least he tried — in a twist apparently not covered on the show, the lake was frozen.  Police recovered that evidence and McKinney now faces the death penalty.

Next week’s story ripped from the headlines: try not to have the nickname "Maniac."

Larry Pozner, former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, discounted the effect of the shows.  "Most people who commit crimes are not very bright," he said of his clients, "and don’t take many precautions.  CSI and all the other crime shows will make no difference."