Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Phil Spector Retrial: Day Thirty-seven

February 3rd, 2009: Six Years Later

Defense Witnesses: #1 Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran ( LA County Chief Medical Examiner & Coroner; currently under first cross by Truc Do)

Discovery hearing with Dr. Lynne Herold outside the presence of the jury.

Accredited Press inside the courtroom: Harriet Ryan of the Los Angeles Times, for a short time in the morning session

Court was supposed to start at 9:00 am to have a hearing outside the presence of the jury with Dr. Lynne Herold on the stand. But par for the course in 106 these days, it doesn't get started until about 9:20. At 9:00 am Truc was here and at 9:05 am, AJ brought their cart and both sides are setting up. Truc is in that suit that looks dark brown in some light and almost charcoal in others. It's the one with the short, form fitting jacket that has a tiny thin ribbon tie. The skirt has those long, two inch wide pleats all along the back. Wish I had photos to show you how her wardrobe is stylish and professional.

There are two people in the gallery holding files, waiting for Fidler to come out and sign documents. Dr. Herold is sitting in a chair along the short wall of the well behind the prosecution table. When Dr. Fidler comes out, Dr. Herold says she hasn't seen him (Fidler) with his robes off. He replies, "I wear it in the car." Dr. Herold replies, "At least you wear clothes underneath." Smiling, Judge Fidler says, "There are stories..."

The documents are signed and Fidler goes back into chambers. Weinberg starts to move the podium is if he's going to use it but apparently changes his mind. He addresses Dr. Herold when he's standing next to her. "How are you?" he asks. "Fine, thank you," she replies.

9:14 am: The jury enters. They have always been here on time. Only the one time can I remember one juror being late. Right after they enter, Pat Kelly from the PIO enters and talks to the sheriff's. Sheriff Williams is in the box and there is another sheriff in the back row.

I have to note that I've been spelling the regular bailiff's name wrong. It's KYLES, and not Kyle. He's not here today. At the moment, Wendy is not at her desk but a moment after I write this, she comes out from the jury room. Diane is the court reporter set up for the morning. At 9:17 am Wendy calls the judge and at 9:19 am, Spector, his bodyguard and his number one fan enter 106. Rachelle is not with them.

When the day starts, there are very few people in the courtroom. But over the course of the day that changes as people come and sit in for a few hours and then go.

Dr. Herold takes the stand. Weinberg first questions her on "cloth patterns" and "when was the first time she made that observation. Dr. Herold replies that she doesn't have the specific date, but it was when she first observed the item. She then decided to send the item for chemical processing for ridge detail and fabric impression.

Weinberg challenges her on her case file. "You never said fabric." Dr. Herold replies, "It was evident to the technician." Weinberg asks, "In 2003, did you use or write the words fabric or cloth with ridge detail?" "I'd have to go back through my notes," she replies. "When did you (first) talk to the prosecution? [...] The question is whether there is evidence of fabric (impression in your notes). [...] You did not use the words fiber or cloth in the first trial." "I was not asked about it," Dr. Herold responds. Weinberg asks if the enlarged photographs of the gun were produced specifically for her to talk about fabric pattern.

Weinberg then takes a tactic that he utilizes throughout most of the hearing. "It's not what you think has happened. It's (what you documented in your notes.). Dr. Herold insists she can't answer the question as stated. Weinberg won't let this go and won't get off the point.

Dr. Herold explains that in her mind, she did talk about fabric when she testified that the gun was wiped either with the diaper/rag or via the bloody pants pockets. These items are fabric.

9:30 am: The Clarkson family enter 106.

Weinberg moves onto the "reconstruction" or more aptly, the demonstration she did with Alan Jackson and the one she directed Alan Jackson and Ms. Do. Weinberg confronts her on her testimony that she previously stated "they practiced." (Her and Mr. Jackson.) Dr. Herold states that this was referencing the demonstrations in the first trial. Weinberg presses on and asks, when she was working with Ms. Do and Mr. Jackson, did you say, 'No, it had to like this or that?' Dr. Herold questions back. "In the courtroom?"

Dr. Herold states that there was no practicing with Mr. Jackson other than what was performed at trial. She states there was a short meeting with Mr. Jackson and Ms. Do in a conference room before her testimony in the second trial. They did not practice; she was asked questions, which she answered. Judge Fidler asks her if there was anything they did in the conference room that was not from the first trial. Dr. Herold states only the one difference was the positioning of Lana Clarkson's hands, taking into consideration Jamie Lintemoot's testimony.

Weinberg then moves onto the discussion she said she had with Ms. Lintemoot, where Ms. Lintemoot described to Dr. Herold the blood stains she observed as "pin prick" type stains. Weinberg asks her if this discussion occurred at a private meeting. Dr. Herold says no. "When," Weinberg asks. "There was a meeting at the coroner's office. It was an organizational meeting. It was the same time I asked her about the tape lift."

A suited man with a briefcase enters 106. In my opinion, Dr. Herold has effectively deflected the first two accusations of discovery violations. Weinberg continues to ask question after question about Jamie Lintemoot's testimony. Weinberg then tries to say that she never alerted anyone to this evidence. "Did you ever say to the prosecution, 'Hey, Jamie Lintemoot saw pinpoint and we should look into this?' " "No," Dr. Herold replies. "Did you ever discuss with your coworkers?" he presses on. "Yes," Dr. Herold states. "You asked if I took any steps to tell any of you. No. Other than her tech reviewer." Dr. Herold clarifies that it's not her job to initiate an investigation into Jamie Lintemoot's observations. She testifies as to why she was so conservative in the grand jury and the first trial. It's because there wasn't any photographic evidence documenting the blood.

9:53 am: Spector's adopted son Donte and a young friend with very curly, wild black hair enter 106 and sit in the second bench row. Later in the day, I find out that the younger man wanted to have his photo taken with Spector. That's accomplished in the parking lot near the Mercedes. I start to wonder if this is the "new" hot thing to put on one's resume. Getting one's photo taken with a man on trial for second degree murder. To each his own, I guess.

The next item Weinberg brings up is that on November 17th, 2008, she asked the fingerprint section to look at photographs. Dr. Herold replies that isn't correct. She states that she was just the "conduit" between the two parties (The prosecution and Mr. Falicon (It's now that I learn how Dr. Herold pronounces her coworker's last name: Fal' uh kin.). That's because on her desk is a file of every photograph that has ever been taken in. (I'm not sure if that's just for this case or for every photograph in the lab.) She was involved because she had to get the slide of the photo for him to review.

I think there is a bit more on that but I didn't take many notes on this examination.

Judge Fidler asks the people if they have any questions. From my notes, I have that AJ only has one question. "When I asked you to blow up photos of the gun, did I tell you what I was going to discuss?" "No," Dr. Herold replies.

Weinberg then goes onto his arguments that he feels supports the contention that there are discovery violations with this testimony of Dr. Herold and why it should be stricken from the record. Weinberg states that, "Every expert I've spoken to, ridge detail, says that refers to fingerprints. [...] When she said fabric pattern, that was in no prior notes. [...] Either Dr. Herold is not telling the truth about not discussing this (with the prosecution) prior (to her testimony) or there's a distinct (effort?) to (sneak in this testimony) and surprise the defense.

Weinberg continues with his arguments on the rest of the issues he's brought up to the court.

AJ then steps up to present his argument and his presentation of the facts as he sees them. Regarding the first point (fabric pattern), she stated at the first trial and at the grand jury, 'something came in contact [...] with either the diaper or the pants pocket.'

AJ presents Jamie Lintemoot's testimony on June 13th, 2007 during the first trial. He details the court (Fidler) even questioning Ms. Lintemoot during her testimony.

AJ explains that a demonstration is not an experiment and goes over in detail the process. AJ states that the day he asked Dr. Herold to consider the questions before her, he sent an email to Mr. Weinberg with the questions. This is the same thing he did when he got Dale Falicon's report about the print and he faxed it to the defense, that same day.

Weinberg states his arguments all over again. "The testimony for this trial is totally new. (The gun she sees evidence of fabric impression.) [...] Jamie Lintemoot never said pinprick patterns on the back of the (wrists)..."

Fidler interjects. You're making a credibility issue about Dr. Herold. Where is the discovery violation?

Weinberg goes over Jamie Lintemoot's testimony again and gives his version of AJ's communication with him. He denies that he got discovery in a timely manner. When he does, to me, Fidler starts to look irritated. It's 10:18 am.

Fidler asks the people if they have any comment. AJ just sits there for a time. He's speechless. He clarifies his version of the email communication. After that, Weinberg gives the court one last shot at his version of events in the email issue.

Fidler then goes on the record. "This is too bad that both sides can't stand each other. [...] The one thing I appreciate, that you both have kept this out of (in front of) the jury." He goes onto mention something about that they've been polite and helpful to each other while in front of the jury.

Fidler states that, "I'm not going to make any finding that she's (Dr. Herold) not credible. I think opposite that. She's very detailed." He goes onto say that on the contrary, he finds her to be more credible. She tends to be difficult, but she's a scientist and won't be pinned down. Then Fidler goes over every issue that Weinberg raised and states he does not find any discovery violation. He does say that on the demonstration, there's something new but it's not major. He does mention that, if there is a change, then that needs to be communicated to the party. AJ speaks up and says, that was already done. He states that he emailed Mr. Weinberg with what Dr. Herold would say when the issue of Jamie Lintemoot's testimony added to the reconstruction equation.

Weinberg is not happy with this ruling. Fidler states that he understands, but that he disagrees with Weinberg. There is no discovery violation.

I have this one note on my pad, but I'm not sure who says it. I have Weinberg's initials by it but I'm thinking that maybe Fidler said it. By itself, it's hard for me to remember what it's referencing: My information is that that value is not used or is useful and that it's on it's last legs, and it's not (more) powerful than it was at (the) last trial.

10:32 am: The jury is called. As the jury enters I look on over at Spector and I see him yawn.

Dr. Lakshmanan is back on the stand under direct examination.

My trial notes will be delayed a day or so over the next several days. I got home late tonight because on the way home from court, Mr. Sprocket and I tried to drop off an arrangement at Lana's niche. Unfortunately, the Hollywood Forever Cemetery was closed and we got caught up in a couple of hours of Hollywood traffic nightmare.

More to come


Anonymous said...

Did Weinberg roll his eyes and make a face when he got the ruling he didn't like?

Sorry he sounds like a total jackass to me.

Anonymous said...

I start my day, everyday, by signing on and reading your blog. It almost as if we are sitting right there in the courtroom. Thank you!

I do, however, have a question. Is there a projected date on when this trial will end?

Sprocket said...

Anon @ 2:31 am:
Weinberg's back is to me for the most part. I did not see him make any facial expressions this time.

Sometimes, what he does is continue to argue his point. I know he did that with later rulings as the very end of the day, but can not remember specifically if he went on and on after Fidler ruled on Dr. Herold.

Anon @ 5:46 am:
I did over hear Truc Do say in conversation, that she has a trip planned with (I think) her sisters around March 22nd. Let's hope she still gets to go on that trip.

People in the courtroom have told me they believe one of the bailiff's has said the projected end date is in early April. I don't think that's correct.

I'm personally guessing that closing arguments will happen sometime in mid March. That's based on Weinberg's statements to (I believe) accredited press or the court that his case will take three weeks.

After that will come the people's rebuttal case where Nili Hudson is expected to take the stand.

Anonymous said...

Trying to figure out how the Chief Coroner is a witness for the defense....hope you will clarify in your posts to come.

Sprocket said...

Weinberg was trying to show that the Coroner had bias because they did not at least consider to investigate this death as a suicide.

In my personal opinion, of what I saw, he was not very successful.

Next up will be Werner Spitz. Lets hope they get to him today.

Truc only has a little bit more of her cross, then I predict it will be a very long redirect, then probably a recross. Hope he gets off the stand today.

Anonymous said...

But did not Dr. Lakshmanan expressly INSTRUCT Dr. Louis Pena TO NOT REVIEW two binders of letters, emails and notes from Lana Clarkson provided by the prosecution and bearing on Clarkson’s state of mind before her death?

Is that not the crux of the “bias” claim?

Christine said...

To me the totality of evidence even if some is not viewed first hand is overwhelming: on the one side, a person who likes to threaten, demean and control women and use guns to do so. On the other side, a woman who sees a big "producer" who takes her to his house where she has a nightmare experience at his hands which leads to her death.

If Lana was going to commit suicide--- she wouldn't have been hoping to get some further show biz connection and go out after she was exhausted from work besides --- she wouldn't have chosen to go to the home of some unpleasant guy like Phil Spector. She would have gone home and killed herself at home.

The fact that Lana Clarkson went to Phil Spector's house in the first place, with an unattractive, short, bossy person, --- that fact along shows that she was hoping to advance her career and go on in her artistic quest. Artists always struggle!!! And know it is a struggle. Yes, there are complaints and people get depressed. Some people even almost feel it is good luck to complain rather than brag.

The suicidal person does not spontaneously choose to go to the house of a stranger, snoop randomly through drawers until they find a gun, sit down neatly on a chair with their handbag over their shoulder, lean back as if trying to get away from the gun, and pull a trigger from a gun which is then wiped down.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, Christine!

You have absolutely nailed down the entire case in a nutshell. 10 of the 12 jurors in the first case saw it, as well. My only regret is that you are not in this jury. You are able to see and verbalize the "big picture". Defense attorney Weinberg's job is to try to make the jurors ignore the big picture and look at every minor, insignificant detail. Then, if he is able to find a minor, insignificant discrepancy in the case, he jumps up and screams, "See, that proves Spector must be innocent!" I'm sure AJ and Truc will remind the jury to keep focused on the big picture.

Barry said...


When you do go to the crypt, please say a prayer for Lana from me. From everything I heard in the first trial, she was a wonderful person.

Thank you


CaliGirl9 said...

Christine, you said it well.

For the life of me and for the Clarkson family’s sake, I hope the members of the jury are as logical as you are.

A beautiful woman like Lana Clarkson “committing suicide” in a stranger’s home? How ridiculous is that? Yeah she’d had some hard times but it also looks to me (from evidence presented by Nili Hudson, Lana’s real friend) that she had a great social support system. Her friends did not let her go hungry or lonely. She had a supportive family. Why would someone purposefully hurt all of those people by killing herself? For me that’s what it is all about. She had no one she wanted to “get even with” by killing herself.

So what if most intra-oral gunshot wounds are suicide? How many of those suicides are in stranger’s homes? Has that statistic been presented? And by stranger, I mean someone that you have no connection to whatsoever, not a friend-of-a-friends home.

Six long years for justice is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Spector is going down ! You heard it here first.

Sprocket said...

Anon @ 8:04 am:

Of course Dr. Lakshmanan did and as head coroner he was absolutely correct to do so.

The coroner had already come to a conclusion about the manner of death in 2003. That information was given to the coroner's office in 2004, or as late as 2005. The coroner's office was confident in their conclusion and has consistently stood by it.

There is quite a bit of confusion (that the defense has instigated, imho) as to "why" the coroner's office did not perform a psychological autopsy on Ms. Clarkson.

The problem is, it is standard procedure in the department to ONLY do a psychological autopsy when the family of the victim challenges a coroner's finding of suicide, or if there is a question as to whether or not the death is an accident or suicide. For a psychological autopsy to be initiated, a formal request by the family must be submitted in writing to the coroner's office. They must have the family's approval for questioning to begin. They review each request very carefully.

A psychological autopsy is NEVER done in a homicide case Never. It is never done and to do so would have been improper. Dr. Lakshmanan unequivocally stated in his testimony, (and I paraphrase here since I'm too tired to look through my notes) to do so (in a homicide case) would compromise the validity of a psychological autopsy and impede the homicide investigation.

When a psychological autopsy ~which is essentially an autopsy of the mind~ is performed, the coroner's office contracts out to an independent body of psychiatrists (via a contract they have with a distinguished university) to do the interviews. Their department does not do it directly.

That investigation into Lana Clarkson's "state of mind" by the DA's office was completed well after the autopsy report had been signed off. Long after.

Regardless, Dr. Lakshmanan has testified on the stand in no uncertain terms that regardless of what the DA's investigators might have turned up, the information they had as to the totality of the circumstances surrounding Ms. Clarkson's death ~and Dr. Lakshmanan stated several key facts of those circumstances~ it his professional opinion this was clearly a homicide.

I think I'm correct on the following:

I don't believe that the defense has entered into evidence (from the first trial or potentially this trial) any statements from witnesses or the final report from the DA's investigation (and there were, I believe, over 200 pages to this report)as part of their case in chief, EXCEPT a total of FIVE EMAILS off Lana's hard drive computer. That's it. Five emails.

Now, what does that tell you? If the DA's investigators did a thorough review and did interviews of the people who knew her and there was something in that report that was favorable to the defense, why wouldn't they enter it at trial?

shari said...

I will have to say Sprocket, your knowledge of law and court procedure continues to boggle my mind. You missed your calling, you should have been in the legal profession or forensics, not that you aren't talented at sewing. I am just amazed at your explanations also. Again, thank you so much for all the trial coverage of this vile little man and his nefarious deeds. Say a prayer for me also at Lana's niche and let her know we all are still thinking of her.
Christine: You are spot on in your summary. I might add that my mother commited suicide and it was the 2nd attempt that succeeded. Neither the first attempt or the second time was in anyone elses home, but alone in her own.

ritanita said...

Super kudos to Christine!

For me, this case revolves around the testimony of Adriano DeSouza. He heard Spector say, "I think I killed somebody." Spector had a gun in his hand. Spector obviously manipulated the crime scene and didn't even do a good job with that.

Weinberg's involvement with a suicidologist is pure bunk. I remember in the Mark Jensen trial when a specialized witness (don't recall if he was a suicidologist) opined, based on the facts provided to him by Jensen and his family, ruled Julie's death a suicide. The prosecution attorney got up and added some "new" information from evidence in the case and the so-called expert had to do a 180 and say he wasn't sure.

The facts are the facts. Gun in Spector's hand, his house, his rules.

No way it was a suicide and I have faith that AJ and Truc Do will handle it as well as they have the rest of the defense.

Provided the jury has 12 rational people, I pray they make the right decision and give Lana the justice she so well deserves.

Sprocket said...


It is doubtful that Fidler will let the suicidologist opine on Lana's state of mind. He has indicated that in earlier, tentative rulings on this specific issue.

He will be able to talk about suicides in general, the scientific statistics about them as well as what is generally known, or not known about them by the lay public. (like misconceptions)

Sprocket said...


I'm no wonderkid, lol! All this was revealed in testimony going back to Dr. Pena in the prosecution's case. Dr. Lakshmanan verified it when he testified the last few days.

Anonymous said...

had no idea Dr. Spitz would be testifying again. I'm assuming Mr. Jackson will do the x, and if that's so, then Sprocket, I cannot wait to read your recap. the x of Dr. Spitz at the first trial was astounding.

Anonymous said...

"I start to wonder if this is the "new" hot thing to put on one's resume. Getting one's photo taken with a man on trial for second degree murder. To each his own, I guess."

OR, they want to get their picture with one of the (if not THE) most legendary rock n roll producers of all time.

katfish said...

One of Spector's sons posted on the IS forum that the young man with Donte was likely Donte's son.
How sad is that...go to Grandfather's murder trial in order to get a photo with your Gramps. As was noted, in the Spector family you take your opportunity when you get them.