Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Phil Spector Retrial: Opening Statements, Part II

Wednesday, October 29, 2008I'm up on the 9th floor pretty early, around 8:15 am. Mr. Sprocket came with me. I tried to get him to wear one of his nice silk ties with his white shirt, but he refused. His "excuse" was, he wasn't going to wear a silk tie with jeans. I think he can wear a tie with a nice pair of pressed jeans but Mr. Sprocket isn't buying it. I think he just doesn't want to wear a tie.

The 9th floor is pretty deserted at this time. I see ABC's local affiliate Channel 7's Miriam Hernandez is already there. Since she's the first reporter on the 9th floor, and it hasn't been decided yet who will film the proceedings, the PIO staff ask her to get her cameraman up on the 9th floor to film the proceedings.

Dr. Adams is there at the end of the hall waiting for Judge Pastor's courtroom to open; he's talking to Linda, who had emailed me earlier in the week that she was thinking of coming with her friend Paula. They took the Metrolink from San Diego. That's how much they wanted to see opening statements. Linda and Paula took a very early train and were at the courthouse before 7:00 am. It's going to be a long day for them.

I see that Spector's fan is here. A member from the PIO is taking names of the general public as they show up who want to attend opening statements, as well as the press that starts to show up, one by one. I see a gentleman whom I first met and talked to years ago at the Robert Blake criminal trial. I remember talking to him while waiting for the Blake jury to come back with a verdict. He firmly believed Blake was innocent, and that the prosecution didn't prove their case. The jury agreed with him and Blake is a free man today.

I see Harriet Ryan, but there is quite a bit of press here that I've never seen before. You can tell who they are because they are often wearing their press badges on lanyards or clipped to their belongings, and they all gravitate towards one another. I sit with Dr. Adams and Linda until 8:30 am, when Dr. Adams goes into 107. Terri from City News is here, and I see a member of the defense team, Jennifer Barringer and I believe one of the defense clerks, enter the courtroom.

A still photographer and more journalists arrive. Mr. Sprocket keeps taking my pen and writing what he thinks are funny notes on my pad. He's also making jokes in my ear and I have to tell him to stop and that he better not even try to whisper what he's saying inside the courtroom.

I over hear the PIO staff tell the accredited press that we will be starting at 9:00 am. They must be going to argue some motions before the jury is set to arrive by 10:00 am. Linda Deutsch from the Associated Press arrives along with another reporter I don't recognize.

9:05 am: AJ and Truc Do come down the hallway. One by one the hallway fills up with people hoping to get in to see the opening. Then the bailiff's and PIO staff let us into the courtroom. At this time, there are still plenty of seats available. The Clarkson family hasn't arrived yet, and more general public slowly trickle in. It's a very different feel in the courtroom than the first trial. The "bigger" celebrity in the room from the first trial, Dominick Dunne, is back in New York, writing his memoirs.

Steven Mikulan from the LA Weekly is not here. He's covering the Anand Jon trial at the other end of the hall and he expects closing arguments to start any time. Ciaran McEvoy of the LA Daily Journal is covering Federal Court. He did tell me that he might be able to drop in for a day or two. John Spano and Peter Hong from the LA Times are not here either. I only recognize one other person from the general public and that's Jon Scott, of All Memphis Music, com. I met him at the first trial.

The court reporter sets up her equipment. The prosecution is testing the ELMO and has put up on the screen an image that says "People v. Spector."

The courtroom is almost full now with press and general public. Another video camera is setting up right beside the one from Channel 7. I overhear the female reporter talking with the second cameraman in a language I don't recognize. Mr. Sprocket thinks it's French but it doesn't sound like my 7th grade French Class. People are coming in and out. It's still a bit noisy and I wonder why it's taking so long. Linda Deutsch is in her regular seat: second row on the end.

9:17 am: No Spector and no defense team. There are five people on laptops directly behind me in the fourth row. More last minute press arrive that all seem to know each other. I see DA staff, reporters and public all mixed in together in the gallery. A man in the second row way down on the end close to the jury box gets up to greet Ms. Do. He obviously knows her. I find out later that he was a juror on the Black Widow case that she successfully prosecuted.

The Clarkson family enters with their attorneys and Ms. Do gets introduced to the entire group. Rod Lindblom, Donna, John Taylor, Fawn, a friend of Fawn's who came often during the first trial and a gentleman that I have not seen before.

Spector's defense attorney arrives with his paralegal, Susan. I also see Tawni Tyndall enter and sit in the defense area benches. She had attended a few of the pretrial hearings for round 2 and I didn't recognize her. Tawni is a very pretty woman and during the first trial she wore her long hair down and very form fitting outfits. Today, her hair is up in a french bun and she is wearing a black skirt and matching suit jacket. More press squeeze into the long benches.

Spector's son Louis arrives with his longtime companion, Frieda. More people show up and try to get seats. The DA's clerks who are assisting on the case are introduced to the Clarkson family. The courtroom is almost packed and bustling with conversation. I see Claudia from local station KFWB arrive and grab an empty seat along the back row. If I'm remembering correctly, she makes her way over to the video cameras for a moment. I'm wondering if she possibly sets up a microphone to do some sound recording.

9:30 am: I think what we are waiting for is Spector. Even more press enters the courtroom and those that know each other exchange greetings and catch up. The PIO staff ask the people in the bench rows to move down and squeeze closer together to try to make room for more people to attend. Ah, I see what they are trying to do. They are moving people out of the most of the seats on the defense side to make room for Spector's entourage. They also cleared out some seats along the back wall so that Louis and Frieda can sit there. Thats where Louis and Freida mostly sat during the first trial. The PIO's staff are really trying to pack in as many people as possible.

9:35 am: The bailiff's still haven't closed the inner courtroom doors. Suddenly, Judge Fidler takes the bench. Spector is still not here and we learn that he has waived his right to appear on the motions that will be argued before the trial is to begin.

Doron Weinberg brings up the Dr. Lee and Ogden matters. They will submit their motions now on the pleadings. Weinberg talks about Lee. "At the last trial, the defense was penalized because of what they did [...] legal ramifications [...] can't penalize the defendant for something out of his control [...] something to reconsider so that he's not penalized..."

Do stands up and says "[We've received] no notice of this motion." Counsel and the Judge agree that they will take this matter up at a later time.

Weinberg is now asking that if there is going to be a second bailiff in the room, that he not be seated in the chair directly behind Mr. Spector. (The bailiff's desk is surrounded by a half wall, and on top of the half wall, plexi-glass. It's right behind and off to the left a bit of the defense table. Right in front of this walled in desk area in the well, is a chair that a second sheriff often sits.) Weinberg states, "...this projects a sense that [...] that's where a back up bailiff sits; behind Mr. Spector. It sends a message that Mr. Spector is dangerous."

Judge Fidler responds, "I'll let them, the sheriff's decide how many [sheriffs] they need for the courtroom..."

Weinberg is now objecting to something on the prosecution's exhibit list, that he states is "contrary to the court's ruling..." I believe it's the word "pattern" on some of the overhead exhibits AJ is going to use in his opening. AJ counter's Weinberg's objection. "The court allowed the 1101(b) evidence exactly for that purpose." There's nothing there about common scheme or plan. It's a pattern to "...absence of mistake..."

Judge Fidler responds that he will not limit the prosecution to using this in argument. (I have that word, argument, but maybe he meant opening statements and I wrote the wrong word.)

The Ogden matter is discussed next. The defense is objecting to the video tape of Dianne Ogden the prosecution is going to show. The Judge tells Weinberg that he is not going to make the people "..edit the evidence further..." Weinberg can object during presentation, and the objection will be ruled on as the tape is played [for the jurors].

The motions have been dealt with and Fidler leaves the bench. It's not in my notes but I do remember Mr. Weinberg asking Fidler at one point if there was a time limit on openings. Fidler tells him no; take all the time you need. It's 9:45 am and we wait. As I look around the packed room I notice Detective Tomlin in the back by the inner courtroom doors. Claudia from WKFB is chatting with Linda Deutsch. At 9:50 am, the jurors enter the courtroom and go directly into the jury room. I see some unfamiliar faces in the first row on the defense side of the room. My best guess is that they are family members of the defense team.

With the Clarkson family in the room, my mind flashes back to visiting Lana's memorial and a big wave of sadness washes over me, just like it does now when I write this.

Spector, Rachelle Short and two bodyguards finally enter the courtroom. From where I'm sitting, it looks like Spector is wearing a black suit and shirt with a very bright white tie and matching kerchief in the suit pocket. I see one of the cameramen is being spoken to by Fidler's clerk. He bolts out of the courtroom and comes back quickly in pants. I guess Fidler doesn't allow men to wear shorts in his courtroom. Back in that far left corner I see Allan Parachini, the PIO's department head, squeezed in among the recording equipment.

10:03 am: Wendy announces that they are calling the jury and the counsel stand while they enter. Here's how the panel is made up:

1F; 2F; 3M; 4M; 5M; 6M; 7F; 8F; 9M; 10M; 11M; 12F; 13M; 14-18F.

Fidler explains opening statements to the jury. "Are the people ready" Fidler asks. "We are your honor," AJ responds. AJ takes the podium and addresses the jury. "Good morning everyone!" The jury replies "Good morning," back.

AJ: The evidence in this case is going to paint a picture of a man when confronted with a particular situation becomes enraged. [...] The evidence will establish a pattern [...] A very rich and active pattern of violence. [...] Before the end you'll be introduced to the real Phil Spector. [...] Let's step back to the beginning.

On the ELMO is an arial view of Spector's castle. "....a gunshot shatters the quiet of the community of Alhambra..."

AJ describes the palatial home surrounded by dense trees.

(I would disagree with the word "palatial." Granted, it's large but having seen some photographs of inside the home, the decor is more, oh, eccentric would be a polite word.)

Adriano the driver hears a noise. AJ describes what Adriano saw and heard. Spector exiting the house holding a gun with blood on one of his fingers. Watching the jury, to me they appear in rapt attention. This is their first glimpse of the prosecution's case and what happened that tragic night.

AJ continues, "I think I killed somebody. Phil Spector just confessed to what had just happened in that house. [...] Adriano asks Spector, 'What happened sir?' In response, Phil Spector just shrugged. (AJ pantomined a shrug.) [...] Adriano looked past Phil Spector in the foyer room and he saw the body of Lana Clarkson."

Up on the ELMO are two images side by side. One is the smiling Lana Clarkson, and the other is a photo of Lana lying dead in the foyer chair. Seeing Lana dead, another wave of sadness washes over me.

"To put the evidence of the evening in context," AJ says, "You will get a pattern of that very rich [...] (Damn! I miss getting those last few words!)

The ELMO changes and as AJ speaks, the names of the other 1101(b) witnesses appear on the screen. "... before her was Dianne Ogden; and before her, Melissa Grosvenor; and before her, Dorothy Melvin; and before her, Devora Robbitille [...] You will se that Phil spector acts in the same way [...] he reaches for a gun."

"The real Phil Spector," AJ says. The ELMO changes and there it is in huge type. The unedited statement Vincent Tannazzo will testify he heard Spector say. AJ reads the statement, not holding anything back or abbreviating in any way.

"Women are all fucking cunts. They all deserve a bullet in their heads." It's shocking and to me, it stuns the courtroom.

Up on the ELMO is another bit of text now that says, "Spector's Pattern of Violence."

Dorothy Melvin
In July, 1993, Spector owned a house in Pasadena. "Pay attention to the pattern that will emerge time and time again. [...] The people you will hear from ran in lofty circles. [...] Dorothy Melvin was a talent manager for Joan Rivers. She was Joan River's manager. [...] They met at a Christmas party."

AJ then describes Spector's and Melvin's bi-coastal relationship and how for part of the year, Spector lived in a hotel suite at the Carlyle or another New York hotel as well as his house in Pasadena.

Dorothy and Spector had a dating relationship. Dorothy Melvin had never been to Spector's home; had never been at his house, alone.

As I watch and listen to AJ present his opening statements he's not reading from a script. He's going completely from memory.

AJ describes the outfit Melvin is wearing ~a black dress with a fuscia jacket~ and the pleasant evening Spector and Dorothy had. While Spector has been playing the piano, throughout the evening he drinks an entire fifth of vodka. At some time during the evening, Melvin takes a cat nap on the white sofa. When she wakes up, it's morning.

I look on over at the jury, and one of the alternates in the front row, it appears that her mouth is dropped open a bit, listening to the story.

When Melvin steps outside looking for Spector, she finds him in the motor court, pointing a gun at her. He's screaming at her that he couldn't find her. Melvin is frightened and doesn't understand what's wrong with Spector. She tells him she was on the sofa with her bright jacket on, in plain view. Spector holds her at gunpoint. Spector is cursing and yelling at her to get back upstairs and take her clothes off. Dorothy takes off her jacket. AJ pantomimes with his arm out, his hand making it look like he's holding a gun.

Terrified, Melvin tries to escape. When she gets to her car, Spector comes at her with a shotgun and screams at her, "Get the fuck out!" AJ describes how Dorothy is telling Spector she can't get out because "...the gate, the gate is closed!"

AJ explains to the jury, "As we go through these incidents, that a pattern emerges of drinking and violence."

When Melvin gets out of the gated grounds, she calls the police. Her purse is still in the house and it has important papers in it; Joan River's passport. She needs to get her purse back.

AJ tells the jury about the police coming to Spector's house. "[Officer] Chris Russ will tell you, that he was confronted by Phil Spector wearing a shoulder holster. He found Melvin's purse and under the dining room table, the shot gun."

After AJ finishes with Melvin's story, he plays several of the messages that Spector left on Melvin's answering machine, cursing and threatening her. Up on the ELMO is a photo of Dorothy Melvin, and a summary list of events that occurred. After the story of each 1101(b) witness is presented, a similar display and list is put up on the ELMO.

Melissa Grosvenor
Melissa Grosvenor's terrifying 1992 experience is presented next. Melissa Grosvenor, who lived in New York, met Phil Spector at a party for Ahmet Ertegun. AJ describes who Ertegun was in the music industry. Phil Spector got Melissa's phone number and they began a casual dating relationship.

Phil Spector invites Melissa Grosvenor to visit his house in Pasadena for the weekend. He tells her, "I'll get you your own hotel room, to be respectful to you..." Spector booked her a flight and when she got to Los Angeles, she went to her hotel room to freshen up and then they went out to dinner where Spector started to drink. AJ goes on to describe more of the evening Ms. Grosvenor experienced. After dinner Phil and Melissa returned to Spector's Pasadena home. It's late into the evening and Melissa is tired; she's still on New York time. She tells Spector, "Phil, it was a great evening but I want to leave now." Melissa is in the foyer of this home, ready to be taken home, and SNAP!

(It's not in my notes, but I believe this is where AJ starts to add the "snap" of his fingers in his narrative, right before he starts to describe the change in Spector's behavior with each succeeding 1101(b)'s story.)

Melissa doesn't know where it came from but suddenly Spector is holding a gun to her head and he's yelling at her, "You are not leaving until I tell you!" Spector orders her into an overstuffed chair, all the while ranting and raving calling her names. Melissa Grosvenor was so tired from lack of sleep, she sat in that chair, exhausted, with Phil Spector holding her at gun point and she fell asleep.

Sometime the following morning, she was woken up by Spector nudging her foot. He was acting perfectly normal, and he asks her, "Hey! Do you want to go to breakfast?" Melissa thinking this is her opportunity to get out of the house, agrees and they went to breakfast.

Melissa and Spector don't discuss what happened. The only hint of the incident was when Spector says to her, "I guess you'll want to be going back east again?"

I take a moment to try to write down the summary list that's on the ELMO for Meilssa Grosvenor but I miss the last line.

Spector drinking/drunk
Romantic interest
Home alone
She tried to leave
Pulled a gun

Devra Robitaille
Devra Robitaille two incidents are described next. AJ goes into the history of how Devra met Spector over the phone when she worked for Warner Records and Spector was trying to negotiate a new record label with them that would be called Spector Warner Records. Eventually, Devra came to work for Spector. There was a dinner party that she helped arrange that Devra observes Spector starting to drink; and drink; and drink. After all the guests had left she says goodbye and starts to leave.

SNAP! She doesn't know where it came from but suddenly, Spector pushes a gun into her face. AJ describes how Devra ~and he tells the jury they will meet her, she's this tiny lady, a musical prodigy in her own right, with this British accent~ spoke to Spector in a stern tone of voice, like she was speaking to a child, because she didn't know what else to do.

AJ tells the jury that none of these women knew each other. They didn't know that Spector had pulled a gun on someone else, in a like situation, so they had no reason to be afraid. Spector locked the door and pulled a gun on Devra. The gun was pressed to her face.

Several years later, in the 1980's, "Here we go again," AJ explains. Spector has a dinner party and he begins to drink. As the last guest leaves, Devra checks the door and the door is locked. "Same thing again. She says she wants to leave. Spector finds a gun and presses it to her head. Spector said to her, Try to leave and I'll blow you away!"

Stephanie Jennings
1995. Stephanie Jennings is a photographer who lives in Philidelphia. AJ goes into detail how Stephanie met Spector. She was at an awards event, photographing the celebrities and she meets Spector. She is invited as Spector's guest to another event and Spector books her a room in the Carlyle Hotel where he is currently staying. The big attraction is really the after party event. At the after party event, Spector starts to drink.

I look over at the jury. To me, they still appear rapt at attention. AJ describes how Stephanie, very tired, goes back to her room to go to bed. Later in the night, she's woken up by a knock at her door. (AJ knocks on the podium for effect.) It's one of Spector's bodyguards telling her that Spector wants to see her in his room. Stephanie is adamant; she is tired, she wants to go to sleep. She tells the individual she will see Spector in the morning.

A few minutes later there is another knock at her door (AJ knocks on the podium again) and it's Spector. When she opens the door he has a gun with him that he points at her face. "You're not going anywhere!" Spector tells her. Spector takes a chair and sets it in front of the door, preventing Stephanie from leaving. AJ also describes the altercation Stephanie and Spector had in the bathroom where she ends up shoving him and he falls into the bathtub. While Spector is still in the room, Stephanie is able to call 911.

To be continued.....