It was the most surreal moment of the trial so far. That's the word Louis himself used to describe how he felt when his father, who walked right past him in the hallway to enter the courtroom with his entourage, emerged moments later, and addressed him directly. Spector reached out to shake his son's hand and said, "Louis, I didn't recognize you." Louis replied, "It must be the long hair." Dominick, Ciaran, Steven and myself were stunned when we witnessed this event.
But let me back up, not to the very beginning of my day, but to when I arrived on the 9th floor of the courthouse. I had rushed a blog entry this morning about Dr. Lee's latest communication with the press, again defending himself against allegations that he took a piece of evidence from the crime scene. I made a point to print out the article so that I could ask the real reporters in the room if they had seen (or heard) the latest interview with Dr. Lee.
Dominick, Steven, Ciaran and even Linda Deutsch, not one of them had heard about it, so my print out got passed around, and the accuracy of the article checked. (There were a couple of errors.) Everyone was really hoping that the defense would end their direct examination of this witness soon so we could see Alan Jackson tear apart the defense's paid hack, Dr. DiMaio and his manner of death conclusion of suicide.
Dominick and I were standing near the courtroom door just about ready to go inside when an adorably petite woman approached me and asked, "Are you Sprocket?" I said, "Yes!" I thought that this might be one of the Court TV forum members that has been talking to me about possibly coming down to watch the trial. An attractive man with a beard and long hair pulled into a ponytail stepped up beside the woman and said, (and, I'm hoping I'm remembering this correctly) "I'm Claudius, also known as Louis." Claudius is the member name that Spector's son, Louis uses on the Court TV Phil Spector Forum. I was so surprised, that even thought I'm sure we exchanged greetings, I can't remember a word that we said. Immediately afterwards, we all entered the courtroom. I took my usual seat to the right of Mr. Dunne, and Louis and his friend sat along the back wall near the door. Once I sat down, I immediately told Dominick that Louis was in the courtroom, and that I knew of him through postings on the Court message boards. I asked Dominick if he would like to meet him, and he said, "Yes, but let's wait until the break." I immediately got up from my seat, and went over to where Louis and his friend were sitting. I asked Louis if he would like to meet Mr. Dunne, and he replied, "Sure." I can't remember, but I believe I told Louis and his companion they could meet him during the morning break.
We then had to sit through a little more than an hour of Chris Plourd continuing his direct examination of the facially animated Dr. DiMaio. The break is finally called in the courtroom, and Dominick says he needs to go make a call. I get up to stretch my legs, and slowly make my way out to the 9th floor hallway. Outside, Louis and his companion are standing near the courtroom door, and I join them. Louis and I talk about his posts on the Court TV message board, specifically about him and his siblings being locked up in their rooms at night. The impression that I got from talking to Louis was of a man who has completely accepted the fact that, he has no meaningful relationship with his father. I finally see Dominick make his way down from the other end of the hallway towards us. Once Dominick arrived, greetings were made, and we all chat for a bit. Louis talks with us a bit about himself, his brother Gary, and how his unusual childhood shaped his life. Ciaran and Steven join the group and are also introduced. Peter Y. Hong from the Los Angeles Times politely introduces himself. Handing Louis his card, Peter mentions that he himself is estranged from his own father.
As we see Phil Spector, Rochelle, and the bodyguards approach our group , Louis indicates that Spector would ignore him. "It's what he always does," Louis says. Spector, Rachelle and the bodyguards pass by him without a hint of acknowledgement, just like Louis predicted. Louis says something to the effect that this total indifference is something he is quite familiar with. I comment to Louis that, I can't imagine how that must feel. Louis doesn't appear to be upset at all that his father walked right by him. Moments later though, the courtroom door opens, and I see Spector and Rachelle emerge with their bodyguards. It was at that moment that Spector greeted his son, and introduced Louis and his companion to his wife, Rachelle. Spector, Rachelle and the guards quickly reenter the courtroom. Louis appears as surprised as the rest of us in the group, and describes the experience as surreal. Immediately after that, one of the bodyguards returns and says something to Louis. Louis then tells us what it was. "My father would talk to me more if I didn't talk to the media." Louis, almost perplexed says, "What's the difference? He hasn't really spoken in 20 years anyway." Right before or after that (I can't remember which) Linda Kenney Baden stepped outside the courtroom and shaking Louis's hand, introduced herself to him. It's about then that Louis's companion tells Dominick that it was more exciting meeting him, and Dominick, quite tickled by the compliment, breaks out into a big smile, thanking her.
Back inside the courtroom at our favorite seats, Dominick says to me, "That was the best thing that happened in the trial." As testimony is just about to start again, the judge has to ask the jury to exit the courtroom while the Judge rules on a new issue. Dominick and I are still reeling by what we just witnessed. Dominick says, "That was so strange." And I agree. It was just amazing what we saw. Finally, DiMaio is back on the stand testifying, but I can't concentrate on a word he is saying. I was still trying to process and remember every detail that happened, when Dominick leans over to me to say, "We'll talk about it downstairs." Inside the courtroom, Dominick and the rest of us occasionally look over our shoulders at Louis. To us, sitting rows in front of him, he appears emotional, almost stunned as to what just happened.
It's about then that I get an idea. I wasn't sure if Dominick would be interested, but I take a chance and ask him if he would mind having lunch with Louis. Dominick replies that he would. As soon as the noon recess is called, I approach Louis and his companion and ask if they have plans for lunch, and would they be interested in having lunch with me and Dominick in the cafeteria. They said they had brought their lunch, today, and I immediately replied that I did too. We would meet up in the cafeteria where Mr. Dunne likes to sit.
Lunch was fabulous. For me, it was quickly evident that Louis and his companion are very down to earth people that I readily identified with. I mostly listened to the table conversation, and let Dominck, Louis and his friend talk about Spector and their experiences. One of the first things Dominick asks Louis, was, if he was crying in the courtroom after his father acknowledged him. Louis said no, and went on to explain that he was just struck by how surreal the whole event was, and at that time, he was still processing the whole experience, and how to feel about it. Dominick starts to tell us about something he experienced with Spector, but before he does, he turns to me and says, "Now this you can't write about, because it's coming out in the next issue of Vanity Fair." I chuckle and say, "Of course!" I'm sorry that I can't mention what Dominick told us. You'll just have to read his next article in the magazine. Dominick and Louis discuss what they each think might happen once the trial gets closer to a verdict. The conversation goes so well, we linger in the courthouse cafeteria, reluctant to leave and make our way back to the 9th floor.
At the afternoon break, I sit down with Louis and his friend to talk about how the case is going so far. Louis quite puzzled says, "Rachelle is so happy. Why are they all smiling, if Alan Jackson is doing such a good job?" He's quite perplexed. Beth Karas then comes up to Louis and introduces herself, and they all get a chance to talk.
After testimony ends for the day, I head out into the hallway. Louis and his friend are already there waiting, and we talk about taking the Metro trains back to the suburbs. Just then, Spector and his group emerge from the courtroom. Spector, approaches his son again, and shaking his hand says, (I believe), "Nice to see you again." And then, just as quickly, he was gone. I'm totally blown away again. Right afterwards, Dominick emerges from the courtroom and we tell him what just happened. Before we leave the hallway, we wind down saying our goodbyes. Louis says he is trying to arrange it where he and his other brothers will be present for the verdict, but since he lives over an hour away from the courtroom, it is uncertain whether or not he and his siblings will have enough notice to make it to court in time for the reading.
As I rode the Red and Orange Lines home, I couldn't stop thinking about what an exciting day this had turned out to be, and how much I enjoyed meeting Louis and his friend, and introducing them to Dominick.