Thursday, September 20, 2007

Guest Entry: Sedonia Sunset's take on the trial

Court TV poster Sedonia Sunset originally posted a fabulous synopsis on the trial on the Court TV Phil Spector Forum. Sedonia Sunset generously agreed to have me put her writings up on the blog. Thank you Sedonia Sunset!

This Trial Has Everything!
Many of us are "obsessed" with this trial, but I think it's the overall drama of the story that sucks us in like a real-life soap opera -- the fact that we have a community of people to discuss it with is a big part, in my opinion, of how and why we get sooooo entrenched with the trial. It also strikes a chord in all of us or we wouldn't be here. Many thanks go to who, unlike Court TV (yet, ironically, via the Court TV feed) provided on-line gavel-to-gavel coverage. Thank goodness for, and high-speed Internet access!

The Prosecution said Lana Clarkson was a plucky go-getter who was still striving to overcome obstacles and become a Hollywood STAR. Yes she had suffered hard times after a debilitating injury, but she was well on the mend, back to work in a place where she could make very high-level Hollywood connections. Even if the $9 an hour pay was downright pitiful -- it was the networking that mattered, and her prospects were looking up. She was scheduled to film a commercial less than a week after the shooting. She had stopped Phil Spector from coming into the exclusive Foundation Room at the House of Blues because he wasn't wearing the required wristband. She had made what was probably a fatal mistake earlier in the evening -- she referred to Phil as "MRS". Spector, mistaking him for a woman. Well, he was wearing a longish, curly wig, high heels, and a long, white lady's dinner jacket. She had no idea who he was. Someone set her straight and told her to treat him "golden" like Dan Akroyd, one of the famous owners of the House of Blues.

The Prosecution said that Phil Spector reverted to his decades-long pattern of getting drunk and pulling a gun on a woman trying to leave. This time though, a gun ended up in a woman's mouth! Lana was sitting by the back door with a purse on her shoulder, which clearly indicated that she was about to leave. Her life was brutally ended in a split-second when a bullet transected her spine and completely severed her spinal cord. The Defense, on the other hand, said she was a severely depressed, disabled, poverty-stricken, washed-up 40-yr-old has-been party girl who was habitually drunk and drugged, and impulsively shot herself when she saw a gun and an opportunity.

Phil Spector didn't act like an innocent man. He initially went outside, gun in bloody hand, somewhat dazed, and told the limo driver: "I think I killed somebody." The driver, Adriano DeSouza, saw the gun, the blood and Lana's outstretched legs. DeSouza high-tailed it out of there lest he ALSO be shot, and immediately called for help. Not knowing the exact situation inside the house, the police took 40 minutes to secure the premises before rushing the suspect to subdue him. They had to subdue him -- he did not follow their commands. They even attempted to taser him, but one of the tasers prongs did not connect correctly and the other one missed him. Much later, Phil claimed that they tasered him with 100,000 volts of electricity. They finally had to tackle him using a riot-shield because he would NOT stand still and keep his hands up.

Once tackled, Phil ranted and raved and threatened their jobs. He also said, "I can explain" and "It was an accident -- I didn't mean to shoot her!" Unfortunately, those statements didn't come into the trial, but they are in legal documents. Before the police stormed the castle, it was clear that Phil attempted to clean things up and stage the scene. He never called 911, despite having 14 working phones in the house. He wiped down the gun and placed it under her left shoe (possibly mistaking his right for her right). He washed his hands and took off his jacket. Did he switch wigs? Maybe. It wasn't brought up. He used a diaper wetted with toilet water where he presumably washed his hands and flushed away the excess blood. I still wonder if the fountain outside was ever tested. He probably tried to flush the diaper, but it didn't work.

Many of us have known men like Phil Spector. Well, maybe not the rich and powerful part, but certainly the abusive, neurotic, woman-hating part. We've all known women like the trashy, attention-seeking opportunist with the ridiculous name of "Punkin Pie," the desperately trendy, youth-obsessed and spiteful Jennifer Hayes-Reidl, and the staunch and loving long-term TRUE best friend, Nili Hudson. We also recognize gold-digging, spoiled, bratty, self-entitled, mouthy piranhas like Rachelle Spector. We can empathize with Lana's ambitions and her ups and downs.

The prosecution lawyers were also intriguing, from AJ, the charming, boyish, eager, whip-sharp, up-and-coming prosecutor to Pat Dixon, his more-experienced and calmer mentor. For some reason I tend to visualize them as Chance and Shadow from the movie Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey -- the eager, headstrong young bulldog and the older, wiser and more patient golden retriever. Of course, AJ is much smarter and more cautious than Chance, but overall personalities seem to fit. AJ is so engaging, however, that I can't help letting a little cynicism in by remembering a scene from Ally McBeal. A new lawyer in the firm practices his various kinds of instant smiles ~boyish, happy-go-lucky, wry, sensitive, brilliant, aw-shucks, seductive, etc.,~ to the tune of "Another One Bites The Dust." He explained that it was a skill that needed to be practiced and exercised, just like any other skill. Does AJ practice his smiles? Maybe, maybe not. I suspect Roger Rosen practices his scowls without even trying. Perhaps they are both just naturally gifted and go with their strong points.

Then there are the defense lawyers, Bruce Cutler, the theatrical real life mob lawyer who looks like a cross between Tor Johnson, WC Fields, and Don Rickles. Roger Rosen is the intense, angry, tie-flipping guy nobody likes who is so tightly wound that you'd need a tractor to pull the needle out of his butt. Looks-wise, he reminds me of Mitch Pileggi, who played Assistant Director Walter Skinner in the X-Files. In a hilarious aside, a Google search on "Roger Rosen" resulted in the following title: "Now You've Got Your Period - Google Books Result" LOL! Chris Plourd is the guy who bores everyone into a stupor and gamely takes the fall for the rest of the team.

Bradley Brunon was so smarmy many people felt the need to take a long, HOT, disinfecting shower after listening to him. LKB was Phil's token female-lawyer, mother and shrewd-operator with the loud, grating, headache-inducing voice and her own soap opera that includes her husband (who bears a striking resemblance to Captain Kangaroo) being a major witness. LKB considerately became deathly ill for two-plus weeks, during which time her husband testified out of her presence. No conflict of interest there, no siree! Out of sight, out of mind! At least until AJ cross-examines him into the dust over it.

There were the defense's expert witnesses. Dr. Henry Lee, the "rock star of forensics" who was officially declared by Judge Fidler to have concealed evidence, fled to China to avoid testifying in front of the jury and being eviscerated by the prosecution on live TV.

Dr. Vincent DiMaio, the exceptionally arrogant, pompous blowhard repeatedly waved off (literally) questions he considered annoying by condescendingly saying "Oh, never mind," clearly indicating that it wasn't worth bothering to even deign to speak to anyone who wasn't also a world famous scientist/ninja pathologist, who testified he has easily disarmed gun-wielding assassins (yes, pural!). He insisted that Lana ~and any other person with an IQ above that of a potato~ would have done the same if Phil Spector had really held a gun on her. It's just common sense, after all.

Dr. Werner Spitz, the elderly pathologist with the heavy German accent and lisp, testified that, yes, legs do bend mid-thigh, blood spatter can skip over half of a long, tall body, jump over the carpet, make a right-hand turn, and land on someone wearing a white jacket! And dead people with severed spines and shattered backbones can breathe, cough and blow raspberries.

That brings us back to Dr. Michael Baden ~the aforementioned Captain Kangaroo doppelganger~ (a description courtesy of Steven Mikulan of the LA Weekly), who has no idea what the term "conflict of interest" means. Baden doesn't see the slightest connection between that term and his testifying for the man that his wife is currently representing in a murder trial. He does concede that there are big bucks coming into both their bank accounts courtesy of Phil Spector. With no tipping of their hand to the prosecution, the defense, in a clear discovery violation, sprung Dr. Baden's "A-HA" moment on them. Dr. Baden said that her spine must not have been completely severed, so she could expirate blood onto Phil's jacket while Spector was tenderly and considerately washing her bloody face with a toilet-water-soaked diaper. Lana's spine must have been severed during the clumsy transport to the coroner's office, not by the exploding bullet that was positioned about two inches from her spine when the trigger was pulled. Yeah, that's the ticket!

Our own CTV poster, Intrepid, referred to the four big-name defense expert witnesses as the "quadrafecta of piffle." LOL! So many of us were disillusioned after watching this quadrafecta of piffle that we will forevermore be highly suspicious of any expert-for-hire witness. That's probably a good thing, so maybe we should thank them for that nugget of wisdom they managed to impart.

Dr. Lynne Herold became an idol to many of us with her calm, patient and logical explanations of her findings. She does not look or talk like a celebrity, and she makes no attempt to be one. She does her job and reports her findings, period. LKB tried, in vain, to trip her up, but Dr. Herold refused to take the bait, pointing out that the laws of physics cannot be changed; it is what it is. If she didn't know an answer, she said so and would not go outside her area of expertise no matter how many times LKB tried to goad her into doing so. If something could have happened in more than one way, she said so. She also placed Phil Spector within about 2 feet of the "blood-letting event." She left us with two renewed catchphrases: "It is what it is," and "Your point is?" She easily outsmarted LKB without even chipping a nail and LKB did NOT forget it. While lashing out at Dr. Herold in her closing argument, wherein she pointedly refused to refer to her as "Dr." Herold, LKB's spite and a seething, childish grudge against a clearly superior opponent shone through for all to see.

Then there was the sleaze factor, from the illustrated paramedic (aka Tattoo Boy) to the sorriest and most tasteless display of sagging, untethered "cleavage" since the Granny character in Playboy cartoons, to the siliconed, spray-tanned, razor-taloned, cock-eyed-due-to-bad-facelift-and/or-Botox mom whining about keeping her kids out of rehab while she partied 4 nights a week, and eagerly trashing her "best friend" at every turn. And let's not forget the Hollywood Madam, Jody "Baby Doll" Gibson who is trying to peddle her upcoming book. She had an obviously doctored trick book and claimed that Lana was a hooker in her stable who was turned on by "sex play" with guns. She dramatically marched into court with her lawyer ~who looked like a cross between Col. Sanders and the Travelocity gnome~ only to be told to take her obviously doctored trick book and stuff it where the sun don't shine (which is hard to do considering her profession and the barely-there skirt-- there aren't too many places on her that the sun doesn't shine), at least until after the verdict.

Oh, and Raul Julia-Levy. He claims to be the illegitimate son of deceased actor Raul Julia. He does look like him. Unfortunately he has baggage several inches thick, including all kinds of aliases, falsified records and convictions. He was going to claim Lana liked to do cocaine with him and loved to play with guns during sex. He was kept out of the trial, but gamely tramped all over the Internet using his own name ~and various sock-puppets~ trying to convince people he was who he said he was. The last I heard, he was trying to sue the prosecutor's office or judge or somebody for defamation of character, or something like that. Whatever.

Then there were the five, 1101B, prior bad act witnesses (PBA). That's only five out of approximately nineteen witnesses, women and men, on whom Phil Spector allegedly pulled guns. The judge only allowed five of them and he picked which ones they would be. The Defense pulled yet another dirty trick and told the jury during closing arguments that the prosecution hand-picked only five women to tell fabricated stories, saying there were no other incidents, blithely ignoring Phil's actual previous conviction for gun-related charges.

Face it, Phil is just a gun-wielding kind of guy -- that's his idea of romance. Many a guy will flatter, wheedle, cajole, bribe, clown, pet, nibble, and even cry, if necessary, to persuade the object of his lust to give in to his carnal desires. Some of them simply proposition every woman they see, theorizing that one out of every ten women will say yes, no matter how obnoxious, repulsive and unknown the guy might be. Phil, on the other hand, shrieks at the top of his lungs at the objects of his lust, calling them "f-----g c---s" while spit flies in his uncontrollable rage. He puts a fine point on it by holding guns on them and threatening to blow their f-----g brains out if they don't do what he says. There's a giant mirror behind the chair in the foyer. Does he maneuver his "dates" into that chair so he can watch himself being "masterful"? He's a producer; every scenario must play out according to his direction and no one else's. Every man has his own repertoire of seduction techniques; it's all a matter of going with what has works, I guess. Stick with the classics and all that. He even brings guns into the picture with platonic dates, just to impress them, because what woman wouldn't be favorably impressed by a man carrying a gun that's longer than he is and reminding them of Elmer Fudd? What a manly, macho man!

Where was I? Oh yes, the PBA witnesses, all of whom simply were trying to leave:

1) There was the practical Dorothy Melvin who did not want her boss at the time, Joan Rivers, to have her name brought into the matter. She called the police and had them retrieve her purse.

2) There was the professional photographer, Stephanie Jennings, who called 911, but Phil convinced them that she was a hooker. She wouldn't go to his room and simply wanted to go to sleep or, after his hissy fit, leave.

3) There was the emotional, girlish former Hollywood music planner, Diane Ogden, with her gripping memory of attempted rape at gunpoint ~thwarted only by Phil's inability to perform~ despite the fact that she would have had sex with him if he'd only been "nice about it." She did not consider rape at gunpoint to be "romantic". She foolishly allowed herself to be alone with him again some months later and he chased her down the driveway with an Uzi.

4) There was the angry, and rightly so, Southern Belle, Melissa Grosvenor, with a somewhat shady past and a drug-addicted sister (who, along with another sister) aired their dirty laundry in court for all the world to see. Can you imagine Thanksgiving at Mom's house this year?

5) And then there was Devra Robataille, an extremely petite British musician, who went all "Mumsy" on Phil and sternly lectured her way out of having him blow her brains out not once, but twice!

There was the former detective, Vince Tanazzo, who did security work for Joan Rivers's Christmas parties. He had to "escort" Phil out of her parties two years in a row because Phil was threatening to blow even more women's brains out. I believe he had a gun on at least one of the occasions, but I could be wrong about that -- he certainly alluded to the fact the he did. One of the women he allegedly threatened was Walter Cronkite's daughter, but that was not revealed in testimony.

And let's not forget Phil's "little woman", Rachelle Short Spector, 26 (he's 67). Did she marry the ugly, gun-toting, egomaniacal, misogynistic, platform-shoe-wearing, frockcoat-adorned, bizarre-wig-bedecked senior citizen for love or money? He married her only after his assistant, Michelle Blaine turned down his proposal. It's pretty obvious that the marriage was for show so that the jury and public will see that there is a women who isn't afraid he'll blow her brains out if she gets up and "leaves" him to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. And there are three hefty bodyguards and lots of meds that make sure of it.

Rachelle showed up for court every day, often with her Mommy in tow, imperiously having a bodyguard carry her totebag and blankie. On several occasions she has spoken to the press, leaving an indelible impression of an air-headed bimbo EACH time. She makes inane accusations and declarations of love on her websites, past and present, and displayed her vast legal knowledge by referring to a "statue of limitations."

The judge clamped down on her testifying-by-proxy through the media by placing a gag order on her and Phil Spector and anyone else who might be acting as his mouthpiece. Most people would be cowed or at least SHUT THEIR MOUTH while THE JUDGE is talking directly to them and ORDERING them to do or NOT do something, but not Rachelle! No, she sassed back at him over and over and argued and carried on until he threatened her with contempt. Chris Plourd, ever the fall-guy, rushed over to her to try to get her to put a sock in it, but she ignored him, other than to protest that the judge was talking TO her, WHILE the judge was talking TO her. Interestingly, Roger Rosen and LKB COMPLETELY ignored the ENTIRE exchange. COMPLETELY. Was it planned in yet another attempt at a mistrial? How could they NOT be surprised and taken aback by such an outrageous outburst and conduct by the defendants OWN WIFE?

And speaking of the judge, there is the stern, but fair, and sometimes humorous Judge Fidler, who is a dead ringer for Bruce Willis! He's savvy to most of the tricks either side attempts to play on each other and swiftly puts the kibosh on them whenever possible, or attempts to remedy the situation without causing a mistrial. And make no mistake, from the moment the Prosecution's side rested, the Defense tried over and over again to get a mistrial because they can see their case going down in flames. The judge keeps a tight rein on his courtroom and is ever cognizant of not letting the trial turn into an OJ-like circus while trying to avoid things like eating well-meaning (but inadvertently poisoned) cookies brought by the ever-classy Beth Karas.

And then there were the monumental defense blunders. The Henry Lee fiasco, the Kenny/Baden conflict of interest, the major smack down of Bruce Cutler by the judge for dramatically yelling and pointing at Diane Ogden and slamming the table/podium, even the AIR (not to mention leaving mid-trial to film a TV show for several weeks and then finally resigning), the posing of Phil to be pointing a gun (using his fingers as a mock-gun), and showing Lana's "showcase" reel.

The Defense meant to show the reel to say that Lana was a bad actress with no prospects. Instead, they brought her to life -- she talked, she laughed, she BREATHED. She wasn't particularly funny, and the audio was awful, but that's what writers and technicians are for. It wasn't supposed to be for the viewing public. It was a portfolio of sorts, to be shown only to people in the industry to show her range of talent. She looked FABULOUS! Most importantly, it showed her alive. She was certainly nicer to look at in that than in the gruesome photos of her slumped in a chair in Phil's foyer, with her black eye, messed-up hair and blood pooling from her nose and mouth. Dr. Spitz had said she looked "peaceful". An incredulous AJ thundered back what so many of us were thinking: "SHE'S ***DEAD***, DOCTOR!!!"

Everywhere we turned there was Hollywood razzle-dazzle and the nuts and bolts of Hollywood. This included testimony by a famous director, Michael Bay and testimony by a failed playwright/producer/director that had to take a bus 3000 miles across the country to testify because he was afraid to fly. We heard about making Mercedes commercials, making blockbuster movies, making low-budget Roger Corman movies, and renting costumes from a little San Fernando Valley shop called Valentino's. Even the buildings are famous places! There's even a "CASTLE", FGS, with 88 steps to the front entrance and a HUGE satellite dish above the back door. Talk about the lives of the rich and/or famous! What more could you ask for? It's no wonder we're hooked on this trial! It has EVERYTHING: sex, drugs and rock and roll!

There were a multitude of "talking heads" on news and legal shows. Some knew what they were talking about and some didn't. The most egregious one was Anita Talbert, a friend of Phil Spector who appeared on Court TV shows several times, spouting complete and utter nonsense. She made outrageous claims such as Lana having taken TWELVE Vicadin that night. Testimony by Dr. Pena, however, revealed she had a LESS than a therapeutic dose in her system. Just about everything she spouted came directly from Phil Spector, who publicly lied at every turn between the night of the murder and the beginning of the trial. A story of her dancing around with the gun and singing Da Doo Run Run seems to be a particular favorite. He also said she was standing up when she shot herself (wrong), and he couldn't have done it since she was so much taller and stronger than he was. He ranted and raved at the police station, referring to her as a piece of shit mere hours after he shot her in the mouth. He said she brought the gun, yet on the stand even defense experts were compelled to testify that it belonged to Spector.

Will Phil run? Hard to say -- he's stuck it out this long, after all. Still, we already know he wears wigs. He COULD wear a disguise and possibly slip out of the country. What would he look like in a disguise? When TV shows invoke Phil's name, they almost ALWAYS play a snippet of "Be My Baby" or "To Know Him Is To Love Him" and other songs he produced. They really should pick a better song, not produced by him, but sung by the Beatles, with whom he also had connections: The Fool On The Hill.


Anonymous said...

Sprocket, thank you for posting Sedonia Sunset's amazing post. I've followed the trial from the beginning and reading this brings back all the moments of this trial. SS, you did a tremendous job of pulling it all together for readers who weren't there all the time!

See you both on the board!

Kay said...

Indeed, what a great summary Sedonia Sunset. Thank you!