First off, I could NOT BELIEVE the outfit that Rachelle Short wore to court on Tuesday. Talk about an eye opener. Granted, I grew up very much a tomboy, where I rarely (if ever) wore or owned a dress. My first vehicles were motorcycles that I drove cross country before I learned how to drive a car. So, I wouldn’t be the one to open up an issue of Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar to see what the latest fashions are, and what would be “in” among the mid 20’s crowd. I’m strictly a blue jean girl, twenty-four seven, which is what I’ve mostly been wearing to trial, along with a nice solid white or beige blouse.
That being said, I still expect someone who is in court every day to support their spouse on second degree murder charges to dress in a more conservative tone, regardless of how young and svelte they are. Rachelle was wearing a matching chocolate brown jacket and pants. The jacket (and the pants) were very form fitting. The short sleeved jacket was trimmed in white and a matching brown three or four inch wide belt was cinched tightly over it around her waist. I had to ask Beth Karas how she would describe Rachelle's pants, and the only word she could come up with was “knickers,” that ended just above her knees. At lunch, Beth (who always dresses to the nines and clearly knows high fashion when she sees it) pointed out to Mr. Dunne and myself that Rachelle's white four inch pumps were obviously by Christian Louboutin, (the signature red soles were the give away) and usually cost around $800 dollars or more a pair. After this bit of news, one reporter commented, “Money doesn’t buy class.” That’s for sure. Rachelle also had on her fall hairpiece today. You can tell it’s fake because the color doesn’t match her streaked dye job on her real hair. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, onto the witnesses the defense put on the stand over the last two days.
John Barons, a wanna be playwright who wrote Brentwood Blondes (which had a total of 12 performances in a small local theater) finally got his Andy Warhol 15 minutes of fame on the witness stand, and he milked it for every bit of melodrama that he could. With a variety of facial expressions, heavy sighs and reluctant admissions of shallow motives, John Barons described Lana as an overly demanding actress who “snapped her fingers” for a waitress at a breakfast meeting, made wardrobe demands he couldn’t fulfill and was overbearing and intimidating to the other cast members. He said the only reason he hired her in the first place (over the strong objections of his director who quit saying, “Lana or me!") was because the last three minutes of her sketch comedy DVD (which he described for the most part as "not very good") included an appearance by Roger Corman, ~someone he greatly admired~ and because of that, Barons thought Lana would bring in some high profile names to his production. Like everyone out there wanting to make it in Hollywood, he was hoping some big name would come to his play, and notice him. Steven Mikulen who writes for the LA Weekly, thought his testimony was much like Susan Hayward in I Want To Live!, "overly melodramatic." The only problem, Steven said was, “It was also boring.”
Mr. Barons, who testified last Thursday and this Monday, was first ~ in who knows how long a line of witnesses the defense plans to call~ to flush out the “true character” and “state of mind” of Ms. Clarkson. Barons’ play was a fanciful construct centered on three beautiful women, Marilyn Monroe, Sharon Tate and Nicole Brown Simpson, who died at the hands of powerful men, meeting in the afterlife. (It wasn’t until the end of his testimony during cross by Patrick Dixon, that we hear Baron’s ideas on who supposedly killed Marilyn Monroe: Joe Kennedy, Sr.) Mr. Dunne shared with the rest of the reporters that he knew all three of these women personally; Nicole Brown Simpson being the one he knew the least.
Lana Clarkson was a huge fan of Marilyn Monroe, and it’s evident when we later see pictures of her tiny one bedroom cottage, that was decorated in leopard fabrics and Marilyn Monroe memorabilia in virtually every room of the house. There’s no question Lana loved anything and everything about Marilyn, whom she identified with. So the opportunity to portray Marilyn in this tiny production was a dream come true. Unfortunately, it didn’t last. A little over a month after Lana had been cast in the part, Baron’s felt he was left with no choice but to fire her from the role. He admitted on the stand that he was quite upset, shocked, that after they spent an evening at his apartment reworking the script to reduce the size of her monologues, she walked into a cast rehearsal the next day and announced, “John and I rewrote the play last night.” Barons said on the stand that “I was pissed that she tried to take credit for my work.” (How dare she do that to him!)
He knew right then that he had to recast her as soon as possible, and was thinking of passing off the job of firing her onto one of the stage hands. He ended up doing the unpleasant deed himself when he got home and listened to a long five to six minute message from Lana on his answering machine. Barons, who admitted to giving an unpaid interview to Rolling Stone Magazine a few years ago, also testified to giving Lana a few tablets from his supply of Vicodin, to help her with her chronic wrist pain. When Barons was finally released from the stand, Mr. Dunne said he really would like to read the play, and I said to him, “Well go see if you can catch him in the hallway, because he’s on his way now take a bus back to Atlanta.” He was successful. Barons is going to send Dominick a copy of his script.
The defense tried present their next witness, Rauel Julia-Levy, but was prevented after the prosecution requested an ex parte hearing with the judge, stating they need more time to adequately vet this new defense witness who has crawled out of the woodwork. There is speculation that this witness is an impostor, so we may find out late next week or Monday the 23rd, if the defense is going to be able to call this individual to the stand at all. Rosen and the Judge got into a very heated argument about the number of ex parte requests the prosecution has made. The Judge really lets Rosen have it. Even the DA's office spokesperson said she has never seen Judge Fidler this angry with anybody before. She also shared that she knows Fidler and Rosen have known each other a very long time, and possibly may have been in practice together, but she wasn't positive on that point. For those of us in the court rooom, it was an exciting bit of drama to watch.
Next up was a nebbish, dorky looking man, David Schapiro, a comedy writer who developed a short term platonic friendship with Ms. Clarkson during the summer of 2002. She was part of a group of people who were meeting to develop a comedy sketch idea for television. (Several of the reporters speculated that his guy was probably dreaming for much more than a "just friends" relationship with Lana.) In exchange for free passes to movies and shows, Schapiro would often take Lana to dinner, who by this time, was struggling to make her rent, pay her bills and feed herself. On cross examination by Alan Jackson, Schapiro delivered the funniest line of the day. When Jackson was asking him about how the entertainment industry, and that it is a transitory business with ups and downs, and some times long periods between jobs, “It’s sometimes depressing, isn’t it? Jackson asked.
“You’re making me depressed right now,” Schapiro quickly responds, and the entire court room erupts in laughter. Broken up himself, Jackson replies, “Touché.” Schaprio, who felt Lana was an overly dramatic person who tended to embellish on the direness of her current situation, testified that their relationship ended over a request from Lana for a $200 loan to pay her rent that left him uncomfortable. When he did not come through with the promised loan, Lana ended the relationship. It was his impression that she felt betrayed by him.
Roger Rosen presented several e-mail communications that Schapiro had with Lana, going over the “starving actress” and other sad statements she wrote in her e-mail exchanges with him. However, on cross examination, Jackson gets the witness to agree that although Lana went to dramatic lengths to make a point, he never thought at any time she was at the end of her rope or would resort to killing herself, and he doesn’t think that today.
At the end of the day and continuing on into Tuesday, the defense put on a supposedly close friend and confidant of Lana’s, Jennifer Hayes Reidl. At the end of her testimony I thought, with friends like these, who needs enemies? Jennifer said she met Lana sometime in the mid 90’s through her "best friend,” a woman by the bizarre name of “Punkin Pie.” “Pie,” as she refers to herself on her myspace page, is an infamous person in her own right and was discussed by Ms. Hayes Reidl at length during her testimony on the stand. The prosecution has filed motions to either limit Punkin Pie’s testimony or prevent her from testifying all together. Originally born Irene Elizabeth Laughlin, from my understanding she legally changed her name to Punkin Pie some time ago. On her myspace page, she lists her age as “21.” It’s more likely that’s an emotional or mental age or some state of mind age, because her true age is most likely over 50.
Ms. Hayes Riedl, wearing heavy makeup and bleached white-blonde hair, looked like she spent too much time in a tanning bed or is a frequent beach lounge lizard. It looked like she couldn’t sit still on the stand. She was first used by the defense to introduce photos of Lana’s tiny rented house located on the canals in Venice, CA, although at times on direct, it appeared as if she was totally clueless on her role of describing the photos up on the Elmo. Jennifer, said she was a “very close friend” of Lana’s although not Lana’s “best friend.” She thought Lana lived in her cottage apartment “the entire eight years” that she knew her, but Court TV’s Beth Karas has reported that it’s clear, Lana only lived there two and a half years. Although she said that she had been to Lana’s cottage many times, she couldn’t even remember the address on the stand.
Ms. Hayes Riedl, a self professed interior designer, (who to me appeared self absorbed at times) verified that she was subpoenaed, but she also said she wanted to be here to “get the truth out there” about Lana. However, at times her testimony was quite contradictory. Sometimes she would say that Lana never gave up hope of becoming famous, then other times said that she was depressed to the point of giving up all hope, and would put on her “game face” for people. Lana supposedly shared with Jennifer the intimate details of her life, her hopes and dreams of becoming famous, as well as her thoughts on her stalled career and recently failed romantic relationship. Yet, she had very little say that was positive about her friend. The best she could say was that Lana was very funny. Ms. Hayes Reidl said she didn’t actually see Lana through most of 2002 because during that time she was pregnant and didn’t go out in the evening much. When she did meet Lana, it was with her friend Pie at promotional party events that Pie arranged.
In the last year of her life, she described Lana as someone who was very depressed and complaining about not having money for food and rent. She was supposedly devastated that her relationship with a Mr. L.B. Moon didn’t work out, because Lana thought, “he was the one,” and she was quite upset and depressed about it. Lana had presented her “Lana Unleashed” to several big agencies around town, and was crushed to the point of tears when the feedback she got was that it wasn’t quality work. Lana was hoping it would be picked up.
and The witness described her very good friend as someone who’s favorite drinks were champagne and tequila, and she liked to drink and take pills at the same time. “I’ve seen her take VicodinPercoset. I’ve seen her take a lot of pills,” she said. When she was drinking, Lana was “very controlling, very loud and boisterous.” When she was drinking, Lana would go from “Zero to extreme.” At Ms. Hayes Reidl’s baby shower that was held at a restaurant, she testified that Lana, who was still wearing slings from her broken wrists, was on pain killers that day and, the only one drinking. Supposedly, Lana drank enough at that event to get herself drunk. The defense then tries to ask Ms. Hayes Reidl about a champagne bottle.
Objection! Sidebar! Dominick leans in and whispers to me that Lana supposedly performed fellatio on the bottle. At the end of the side bar, it’s clear the defense does not get to get this event into the record, because they move onto another topic.
When asked if Lana was a neat, orderly person, her friend would only say that Lana was, “An anal-retentive person.” When Rosen asks her about Lana’s “state of mind,” Ms. Hayes Reidl talks about the last time that she saw Lana. Lana had come over to her house in early December 2002 to borrow black clothes. Lana had found a job at the House of Blues in a “corporate” type position. According to Jennifer, Lana was totally depressed and out of her mind that she had taken this nine dollar an hour job that wouldn’t even meet her basic expenses. Lana supposedly said to her, “I can’t believe I’m going to be pulling out chairs for people I used to beat out jobs for. It’s the lowest I can be.” Jennifer testified that, “She didn’t have any money, she didn’t have anything. It was horrible! A horrible thing.” She characterized Lana in the last months of her life as a “sad and pathetic person who just crumbled, who didn’t know what else to do to restart her career. She didn’t have any answers.”
When Dixon asks Ms. Hayes Reidl if Lana ever called her during the beginning of 2003, she gets quite defensive and replies several times in an accusatory tone, “Do you want to know why?!!!!” And then her poor me, victim excuse comes out. “I was trying to keep my two kids out of rehab!” Wow. Two kids needing rehab? I’m thinking, she must be a real piece of work as a mom. She also got quite defense when questioned about developing a show for HGTV, claiming that it “wasn’t an entertainment type show, and that it had nothing to do with Lana.” Soon after that, was some long rambling testimony about Pie, and having to be Pie’s “memory,” because Pie couldn’t remember anything. Jennifer said she was in the “wrong place at the wrong time” when the defense’s investigator, Tawny Tindle called Pie for an interview. She then made a totally foot in mouth comment about, that, if she knew that going to that meeting with Pie would result in her being here today, she never would have gone. And then she says something to the effect that if Lana had known how her evening with Spector was going to end up, she would never have gone with him.
Overall, I don’t believe the jury found her to be a very credible witness, especially when she appeared so surly, and talked about her “friend” in such a negative way. In trying to get a different perspective on how this woman came across, I asked a new trial watcher sitting next to me what she thought of the witness. She said basically the same thing I was thinking.
Update: 11:30 pm
I totally forgot to mention that Louis Spector and his companion were in court again today. Spector, maybe finally realizing that continuing to snub his son in court won't look good to the press, manages to stop by and give him a quick greeting and a hand shake again before he leaves the court room. Mr. Dunne stopped by on his way out of the court room to say hello. Louis got to meet Alan Jackson, who was very understanding of the difficult position Louis and his dearest friend were in, coming to the trial. Afterwords, they had a few words in private.