Prosecution and defense opening statements were presented today in the retrial of Phil Spector who is facing one count of second degree murder in the February 3rd, 2003 shooting death of Lana Clarkson.
I have lots of notes and I can't possibly transcribe them all. This will be a very short highlight of today's events and when I get the free time, I will put up more detailed notes on the opening statements later. Mr. Sprocket came to court with me today but did indicate that he probably won't be back until closing arguments. There were some familiar faces in the gallery; Linda Deutsch, Harriet Ryan, Donte, Miriam Hernandez, Louis Spector and his companion Frieda, and lots of new ones like blog reader Linda and her friend Paula, who is working towards a degree in criminal justice.
In the afternoon session I see Detective Tomlin as well as Juror #9 who said he is going to come whenever he can. Ciaran McEvoy, now with the LA Daily Journal was also a welcome, familiar face. The Clarkson family and their attorneys were there, sitting in the front row. There were quite a few reporters that I didn't recognize, but I did get to meet the Telegraph's US correspondent, Kathryn, who I sat next to in the third row in the morning session.
The courtroom ended up being packed with a mix of general public and seasoned reporters. There were five reporters on laptops in the back row, Harriet being one of them.
A man who was a juror on the Black Widow trial that Truc Do prosecuted, brought his wife to the morning session thinking that Do would be presenting part or all of the opening statement. I believe they left around lunch time when they learned that AJ would be handling the entire opening.
AJ hit it out of the ballpark. At least, that was my impression. To me, some jurors appeared transfixed soon after the lights were dimmed and the prosecutions slide presentation was up on the ELMO; AJ took them on a journey of the five women in Spector's life with whom he became enraged when they told him they wanted to go home. I watched one alternate in the front row who looked like her jaw was hanging open a ways the entire time AJ was speaking.
Very early on in his presentation, AJ put up on the ELMO the words that Vincent Tannazzo testified to in Spector 1. "Women are all f***ing "C's". They all deserve a bullet in their heads." This was to show the "real" Phil Spector.
I freely admit I am a fan of AJ. I've had the opportunity to see him work his magic not only in Spector 1, but in pre-arraignment hearings on the Kazuyoshi Miura matter, a case that sadly ended when Miura took his own life less than 12 hours back on US soil.
But don't start thinking that this trial is a "slam dunk" for AJ and Ms. Do yet. Weinberg is a worthy adversary whose courtroom style is low key and worlds away from that dysfunctional group of combative egos in round 1. His best argument that I heard in the courtroom was bringing to the jurors attention that Adriano DeSouza, in speaking to the 911 operators and other sheriffs immediately after Lana's death, "...reconstructed the critical statement eight different ways..." of what Spector said when exiting the house, before settling on, "I think I killed somebody."
Weinberg points out that what he initially said to the first 911 operator was "I think, I think he said, I killed somebody. It's my English. I"m not sure." Weinberg then says the evidence will show "...officers then promote and encourage the most incriminating of the eight versions."
Where Burce Cutler, in a loud accusatory voice, claimed DeSouza didn't understand English, was napping and having a little siesta in the car with snacks and cookies, Weinberg tells the jurors that,
"He's a human being, and he's not sure what he heard. [...] Adriano has convinced himself what Mr. Spector said. He's the star of the case. Mr. DeSouza is wrong because he's a human being. He's not a tape recorder. We will prove to you that his perception was wrong. If it wasn't for the confession, we wouldn't be here."
Weinberg plans on attacking the credibility of Vincent Tannazzo. Weinberg told jurors that Vincent Tannazzo, supposedly a retired LE, only came forward with his statements recently, at the first trial and the evidence will show he is not what he appears to be.
Another argument that I felt had some merit were the ones based on the science. There was no GSR on Spector; no blood spatter on Spector's right sleeve jacket; the trajectory of the bullet was consistent with a self inflicted wound. There was no evidence of a struggle between Lana Clarkson and Phil Spector and there was no evidence of Spector's DNA under Lana's nails nor was there any torn clothing.
It remains to be seen whether or not the jury will consider it crucial that 1) the physical evidence could not answer manner of death and Dr. Pena was directed by his superiors not to order a psychological autopsy on Lana, instead utilizing an independent investigator to help them "determine the facts." Weinberg told the jury, "Lana Clarkson's body would look exactly the same if she was shot or responsible for shooting herself.
One of the weakest arguments for me was, "The evidence will show that there was physical evidence of sexual intimacy before she died. Phil Spector's DNA was on Lana Clarkson's left breast. Lana Clarkson's DNA was found on Phil Spector's scrotum. There's no basis of fact that he didn't want her to leave because he wanted sexual activity [...] in the face of those DNA facts.
To me, that's not enough DNA to prove Spector was "satisfied" with the outcome of the sexual contact. To buttress the claim that Spector was not holding Lana against her will, Weinberg tells the jurors that he still had the driver outside, waiting to take her home. That's not holding her against her will.
Weinberg skips over the facts about the dead bolt latch. The set screw was tampered with so that the exterior latch part of the bolt could instantly be pulled off with the bolt in the extended position, effectively locking someone inside the house.
I don't know how to get a feel for this jury, yet. It's a new trial and like I've mentioned before, a totally different vibe in the courtroom from last time. Towards the end of the court day, three male jurors in the back row had their arms crossed in front of their chests. One of those jurors nervously rocked a bit in his chair. It appeared to me at times that Juror #6, the research scientist was closing his eyes and possibly napping.
Dorothy Melvin will be the first witness in the box tomorrow morning. She's put on a little bit of weight, cut and curled her hair and I didn't recognize her at all!
Read Michelle Blaine's blog for her comments on Weinberg's claim that Lana was depressed and near the end of her rope. Michelle gets it spot on.
I hope to get a more detailed transcript up of opening statements but it will take me several days to get it up.