Friday, January 23, 2009

Phil Spector Retrial: Day Thirty-one

January 22nd, 2009

Prosecution Witnesses:
#32 Tabitha Stowell (producer of infomercials; Lana was currently in a test trial of a product slated for an infomercial; testimony complete)

#33 Donna Clarkson (mother of murder victim, Lana Clarkson)

Accredited Press inside the Courtroom: Harriet Ryan of the Los Angeles Times; The AP reporter (about 20 minutes)

The Prosecution Rests
It was a very short day today. Testimony lasted less than an hour and the prosecution rested their case. The defense will begin their case the following Monday at 1:30 pm. A juror has an appointment in the morning.

9:29 am: Before trial starts, I chat for a moment with AJ, asking him if the defense ever turned over the "real" witness list. He did not. All AJ and Truc will get is a day (or possibly two) notice on who the next witness will be. Marky Ramone is back in court today. I see him in the ante chamber with Weinberg and Susan. Ramone is wearing skin tight black leather pants and the old "Converse" style high top tennis shoe with the big, round white toe, but the shoe tops appear to be made of black leather. He sits in the second row with Rachelle Short.

Harriet Ryan is in her usual spot in the back row sitting next to Pat Kelly from the PIO. Susan hands some exhibits to AJ in the well and he and Truc start to review them. Weinberg is in his usual posture of leaning way back in his chair and playing with his lip again. Weinberg tells AJ, "I don't know how much of that we are going to use." I wonder if he loads the prosecution with exhibits and data that they have to absorb and then doesn't use it at all. I see AJ nod as Truc and AJ review the documents. I turn around and say hello to Pat Kelly. I see AJ pointing out something to Truc on one page of the document. From what I can see from my seat, it's several pages with six to eight colored text blocks with text inside the colors. Over at the defense table, Spector's hand shakes as he holds a paper cup.

9:39 am: The Clarkson's are not here yet, and no jurors, however Fidler takes the bench. AJ tells the court they have another witness. They also state that Mr. Weinberg has agreed and the prosecution has agreed not to ask Donna Clarkson any questions about the drug use raised in the medical intake form that Lana filled out. It's just my opinion, but I don't think the jury would have taken well to the mother of the victim being crossed about this.

9:41: The Clarkson family arrives. Fawn and all three of her legal team that I have seen in court on various days are here. Rod Lindblom, John Taylor and Bill Ferguson. There are motions that are mentioned that are not discussed at this time. There's something about some emails that if they became public could compromise something. Judge Fidler recommends to the prosecution that they file the motions under seal and that they may be unsealed at a later date.

Tabitha Stowell is called to the stand. She is a producer of infomercials. Truc asks her to explain to the jury what those are. Back in 2003, she was an associate producer for, I think she says "Branward" but I'm sure I got the name wrong, and she was producing an infomercial on a "lateral thigh trainer." As an associate producer her job was mainly dealing with the talent. She is talking real fast and smiling, Judge Fidler asks her to slow down. The jury laughs. Truc asks what do they (the actors) get for participating in the program. Stowell explains that they get free training, a diet plan and the product at the end of the month long trial period. The actor's do not get paid (money). They do however, have the possibility of being seen in the industry via the infomercial.

The workout sessions Lana had were with a trainer named Peter Virgile. The producers were looking for people that needed to lose five to fifteen pounds. Stowell interviewed Lana, and she identifies the familiar photo we saw all through the first trial and at the beginning of this trial up on the ELMO as Lana Clarkson. Stowell hired Lana Clarkson, and she began her training with the personal trainer. Stowell presents the workout schedule for Lana. She kept in contact with Lana. There were a total of fifteen actors that were hired. Stowell states that usually she would call once a week to check up on them. "For this part of the program, I believe it was Friday that I called," Stowell states. "How often did you talk to her?" Truc asks. "AT that point I believe I talked to her two to three times. Stowell also verified with Virgile that Lana did in fact attend the training.

Stowell called Lana on January 31st, 2003. Lana told her that she wouldn't be there that weekend but she would be back on Monday. "And when did you find out that she was killed?" Truc asks.

DW: Objection! To the word killed.

Fidler takes the time to explain to the jury that each side has a particular view of the case and that this is the people's. (It doesn't go to the fact of the matter.) Fidler over rules the objection.

The prosecution is finished with this witness and there are no questions on cross. The next witness is Donna Clarkson.

Donna Clarkson is wearing a suit that has a little something on it that commemorates her daughter. It is a black suit, with a little tiny ruffle of sheer leopard fabric around the entire edge of the cuffs, collar and lapel of the suit. For those of you who don't know, Lana loved many things in a leopard print. Even her niche in the Columbarium at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery where her ashes rest is lined with leopard fabric. It's a perfect touch. (You can see a picture of the Columbarium at this link. Lana's niche is on the upper floor of the Columbarium.) Truc Do presents the prosecution's last witness. In a soft voice that almost quavered at times, Donna Clarkson spoke about the last days of her daughter's life. (There is a photo of Donna on the stand where you can see what she is wearing in Harriet Ryan's story in the LA Times.)

TD: You are a psychiatric nurse, correct?

DC: Yes.

TD: You've been a nurse for thirty years, correct?

DC: Yes.

TD: Your daughter is Lana Clarkson (correct?)

DC: Yes.

TD: She is the oldest of your three children?

DC: Yes.

Donna Clarkson testifies that she was "very close" with her daughter and "we often had lunch." Truc Do then goes over the last few days of her daughter's life. I believe she states that she had lunch with her daughter on Friday and that she went to work that night at the House of Blues. Donna testifies that on Saturday, she attended a "Comic-Con" convention. Donna Clarkson explains what the Comic-Con is and that her daughter had a big fan following from her two Barbarian Queen movies she made with Roger Corman. Donna states that Lana went to sign autographs for fans at the convention. Donna states that her daughter enjoyed that and she went to work that night.

Truc moves onto the day Lana and her mother went shopping for black, flat shoes. Donna explains about how at Lana's job at the House of Blues, she had to stand a lot and she didn't have any flat shoes. Lana ended up taking eight pairs and Donna paid for them. They were all flat shoes. Lana was supposed to go to the Comic-Con that day also but it got late and she didn't go. Donna testifies that she was already dressed in the same outfit that she was found in when they went shopping. Donna testifies that Lana had with her a long, heavy skirt because sometimes she had to stand out side and she would wear the long skirt if she got cold. The long skirt was found in her leopard handbag at the scene.

Donna mentions that on this night, Lana was supposed to be an "MC" for an awards show that night at the House of Blues and that she was looking forward to that.

TD: Did you say goodbye?

As Truc asks this question and Donna answers, she starts to tear up a bit on the stand and hearing her voice wavering, I start to cry too. I have to take a moment to remove my glasses and wipe my eyes.

DC: She said, Thank you for the shoes, mom. I love you.

Lana was supposed to call her the next day.

TD: Was that the last time you saw your daughter alive?

DC: Yes.

Donna Clarkson said she was at (I believe) Lana's home when she got the news of her daughter's death and that her other children were with her.

The pair of shoes she was wearing on the night of her death were one of the pairs that she had purchased for her daughter. Donna states that her daughter called these shoes "Mary Janes" and they were her favorite. Donna Clarkson testifies that she and her children had all entered Lana's home together (I believe with LE) and after that "they" (LE) told them what happened.

Truc asks Donna about an appointment Lana had to have her taxes prepared the next day. Donna states that all her tax papers were laid out on the table in Lana's home.

TD: For this appointment, did the documents appear organized to you?

DC: Yes.

DW: Objection as to whether or not the items were organized.

Fidler: Over ruled.

DC: She was ready for her tax appointment.

Donna Clarkson testifies that her daughter had run a web site, and that she had applied to incorporate her company. She successfully incorporated her company and she found that out before her death. Donna Clarkson found out after her death that she had a Siemens commercial, a print ad she was to shoot in the next few days. Truc presents an invoice to Donna to look at dated February 4th, 2003. The invoice is for a print ad, and Donna testifies that it is the agent copy (of the booking).

TD: Did you know if your daughter made plans to attend a birthday party by her friend Annemarie Donoghue?

DC: She spoke briefly about it.

TD: Did you know Annmarie?

DC: Yes. [...] It was a party for a friend, Lee.

Truc has her look at a printout of an invitation acceptance list with her daughter's name on it. She reads what her daughter wrote to accept the invitation. "Can't wait. xoxo, love Lana."

The prosecution's first exhibit, that familiar photo of Lana Clarkson is up on the ELMO.

TD: Where did this photo come from?

DC: It was her last photo shoot. [...] Lana paid for the film developing; I paid for the processing and duplication of all photos.

Donna states the day the photos were taken but I miss hearing the date. Donna Clarkson states she "thinks" she picked up and paid for the photos on January 9th, 2003. Truc hands her a copy of the receipt for the photos and Donna reads that yes, the date is January 9th, when she paid for the photos.

TD: And the exhibit #1 is one of those head shots?

DC: Yes.

One after another, several more head shots are put up on the ELMO and Donna Clarkson identifies each one as photos that were taken at Lana's last photo shoot. Donna states that she went with her daughter to pick up the head shots. They had ordered 200 prints.

And that's the end of Donna Clarkson's direct testimony.

Weinberg states that he does have a few questions for cross.

DW: Did you have regular email?

DC: I didn't have a computer.

(This is something that I've known for some time, but Mrs. Clarkson had asked me not to put it in my blog and I complied with her request.)

DW: Did she have a best friend?

DC: Yes, Nili Hudson.

DW: You told Detective Tomlin on December 3rd, someone whom he should talk to more?

DC: Nili Hudson.

10:12 am: The AP reporter enters 106.

DW: Would it refresh your memory (if I showed you Detective Tomlin's report)?

Detective Tomlin's report is given to Donna to read.

DC: Well, I don't believe I said that because I... [...] I said it again. It states that there but that's not correct.

DW: Didn't she talk to her every day? (Lana and Punkin)

DC: She didn't even visit her all the time she broke her wrists.

DW: Do you know where Detective Tomlin got the information where, Donna Clarkson said (to talk) to Punkin Pie?

DC: I don't know.

At some point Donna states that "she" (Punkin) wasn't even around much those last few months. Weinberg presses her on Punkin being Lana's best friend. Donna states that Lana had "many best friends" and that "she said that at the memorial." Many people had come up to her at the memorial to tell her that "Lana was their best friend."

DW: Are you denying that you told Detective Tomlin [...]?

DC: No I'm not denying it. (I don't remember it.)

DW: You told us about Barbarian Queen? (That was produced in the 80's?) [...] That was the last film she was in?

DC: No, that's not correct. [...] I didn't bring her resume with me today.

Donna then mentions several other film projects Lana did. Weinberg then moves onto the showcase that Lana produced. I don't have in my notes who said this, whether it was a question or answer: She had completed the showcase prior to Christmas 2001.

DW: She had borrowed money? [...] Many thousands of dollars?

Donna replies that she had paid most everyone back. I believe Weinberg asks her again about the money she owed. I believe that Donna also mentions that Hugo told her, Donna, he didn't want the debt repaid.

DC: Hugo told her (Lana) he didn't want the money back.

(Hugo was the gentleman who loaned her the money for her comedy showcase.)

DW: At the end of 2003, she was in dire financial (straights)?

DC: I don't know that.

DW: She asked you to pay for the shoes?

DC: I offered to pay.

DW: It was about $150.00 for those shoes.

DC: That's pretty good for eight pairs of shoes. [...] It's hard to find flat black shoes. [...] That was like a little miracle.

DW: You went to the House of Blues on several occasions?

DC: Yes I did.

DW: During the trial last year, [...] you went back through her things... (and found some letters)?

DC: No, that's not correct. [...] I gave the documents prior to that. [...] It was in a (scrap) book. It was fairly empty.

DW: You found three letters addressed to Lana, correct? [...] And they appeared to be highly complimentary to Lana?

DC: Yes.

The defense enters the letters into evidence and Donna identifies them as the letters she found. Weinberg presents the letters to Donna and reads the names of the people the three letters say they are from.

DW: Do you know anything about (these letters)?

DC: I had never seen them before.

DW: You don't know who created them?

DC: I have no knowledge of them.

DW: Did you or anybody ask people not to speak about your daughter in the press?

Donna replies no. Weinberg presses on and mentions Ed Lozzi.

DW: Do you know Mr. Lozzi?

DC: I don't know him.

DW: Did anyone on your behalf (ask Mr. Lozzi not to speak to the press)?

DC: I know there was an attorney involved.

I believe it's AJ who asks to approach and/or there is an objection. The jury is asked to leave and Donna is questioned outside the presence of the jury.

DW: The issue is what you knew or whether you (directed anyone not to speak to the press)?

DC: I was asked if I knew of Ed Lozzi. [...] I don't know anything of him.

DW: Was there a conversation that you had....

DC: I told Mr. Lindblom that I had no knowledge...

At some point, Donna explains that Mr. Lindblom was Lana's entertainment attorney. She also states something to the effect that Lozzi was saying things in the press and publishing things that were not true. It was Lindblom's job to handle all that.

DC: I don't know if Mr. Lindblom spoke or emailed him [Mr. Lozzi].

Weinberg asks her if she knew that Mr. Lozzi said (I think this is correct) that Lana had handled guns?

DC: Do I know of Mr. Lozzi stating that? I read it.

Weinberg is trying to find out if "she" was a participant of any conversation with Rod Lindbloom as to what to say to Ed Lozzi. Donna states something to the effect of, that Mr. Lozzi was claiming in the press, things he could not prove (such as having represented Lana at one time). He didn't have any documentation to back that up. Donna does mention that she seems to remember one time, long ago, of Lana having lunch with someone once and the description could have fit Mr. Lozzi.

Weinberg asks again if she was involved in directing what was said to Mr. Lozi.

DC: You have to talk to Mr. Lindblom.

DW: I understand that.

DW: You know Dr. Pena?

DC: I saw his testimony. [...] Well, I saw some of his testimony.

DW: You spoke to him on the telephone?

DC: I believe it was only once.

And that's it for cross. There is no redirect of Donna and AJ tells the court that the people rest their case.

Unfortunately, I don't have in my notes at what point the jury is brought back in. I'm not positive if it was at the end of the questions about Mr. Lozzi or if it was after all of Weinberg's questions.

When the jury is brought back in, Fidler tells them that court is over for the day and that like it or not they get to eat lunch! (It's around 10:30 am.) It was too late to call off the caterer, and rather than waste the taxpayer's money, they get to eat lunch early. The jury is ordered back Monday, January 26th at 1:30 pm. A juror has an appointment that morning, so court will only be in session in the afternoon.

After the jury leaves, Weinberg brings up the jury site visit. There is also some discussion about the bloody chair and getting it to court and trying to "store" it. It's determined that (if the chair is needed) Detective Tomlin will take custody of the chair and take it home with him. He will be responsible for bringing it to court. By Tuesday, he will let Tomlin know (whether or not the chair will be needed).

Weinberg makes an argument to the court that "many of these exhibits have crime scene" on them. He wants Fidler to admonish the jury about this. Judge Fidler says to Weinberg, "Like I said earlier to the jury, each side has their theory of the case...." Fidler states that he will craft some language to the jury.

AJ asks for the prosecution to have an ex parte meeting with the court in chambers about the site visit. He asks the Judge if they want them to follow him into chambers (now). It's decided that motions mentioned at the start of the proceedings will be heard next Monday at 9:30 am. It wasn't until just now that I noticed in the back far left corner of the courtroom a photographer was taking pictures.

As the people slowly exit the gallery, The AP reporter and Harriet Ryan speak to Weinberg in the aisle between the first and second bench row. I try to overhear what was said and it's about the site visit. I overhear Weinberg say to the AP reporter and Harriet that he would propose that "both of you" attend the jury visit.

This is interesting. The AP reporter has rarely been in the courtroom for the entire prosecution case. Harriet Ryan has. Last year, the judge ruled that only one reporter could go in the site visit. Spector's attorney's last year indicated that "Mr. Spector" wanted only the AP reporter on the site visit. The Judge stated then that he could not compel the press who to choose. Last year, the AP reporter lobbied people to choose her. I know this because she even approached me to support her back then. A meeting with all the members of the press was held in courtroom 105 for them to vote on who was going to be the press representative to observe the jury visit. Luckily for Mr. Spector, the AP reporter did get the most votes. Please don't misunderstand. I like Ms. Deutsch, have the utmost respect for her and she is highly respected among her peers.

Whomever is chosen to attend the site visit, I will try my best to get a briefing from them but understand, these reporters are not obligated to give me one.

Special thanks to Sedonia Sunset for her time and effort in helping to edit many of my entries. Sprocket.


Anonymous said...

And now.... it's time to smear Lana. Make her into a loser, hopeless, helpless and hapless. The characterization of the suicidal victim type.

Which I don't believe for a minute!

I'm sorry you don't get to go to the house when the jury goes, as you are really the only real reporter on this trial.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you ask the trial judge for permission to attend the site visit?

If you succinctly state to the court that:

1. You are the only journalist to cover this retrial on--not on a daily basis, but with any degree of frequency; and

2. You have a sincere interest in, and represent, fro a practical, demonstrated (through reporting) standpoint, the most likely candidate to result in representing the public interest--in knowing what occurred at the site visit;


Final comment, the la TIMES HAS HAD A reporter there daily, but the they have not published a word about the trial.

FURTHER HINT: Copy and attach to your motion the MSM reports that you are the only reporter to cover the retrial daily.

Like it or not YOU ARE A JOURNALIST and the peoples best shot at knowing what is going on.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Sprocket, go for it. You need to be able to attend that event as part of your near total coverage.

Anonymous said...

How was the jury reacting today to Donna Clarkson ? And how were they reacting to Doron Weinberg's cross? Are you picking up any clues as to their biases, quirks, preferences?

What was Weinberg's demeanor like when he talked to Clarkson? Fake polite ? Clinical ? Genuinely polite?
Enquiring minds want to know.

Sprocket said...

Anon @10:40 am:
The smear campaign already started with Dr. Pena, but I'm sure the "pie" is coming.

Anon @12:36 pm & Anon @2:53 pm:
I take it you have not read all the stories in the LA Times or the Telegraph about Mrs. Spector's latest activities. (Yes, the LA Times has published aboout 8-9 stories on the trial.) I'm certain the court would not let someone from the general public attend the jury viewing. Only accredited press would be allowed.

Anon @5:25 pm:
To be honest, I was trying to take as many notes as possible, I was not able to spend much time watching the jury. Understand that it was early in the morning; it appeared to me the few times I did look over that they were very attentive to her testimony.

Understand that I usually can not see Weinberg's face when he is questioning a witness. That's because I sit right in line with the witness box so I can watch the witness. His tone was not overly accusatory when he was asking her about who Lana's best friend was, he was just persistent.

Anonymous said...

Oh no, Pie? We need pictures!

shari said...

Fascinating as usual Sprocket, great coverage!!!!!!!