Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Phil Spector Retrial: Day Eight of Testimony

November 18th, 2008

Prosecution Witnesses:

#10: Sophia Holguin (waitress who served Spector at the House of Blues; testimony completed)

#11: Euphrathes Anthony Lalonvriz (Security trainer at the House of Blues; testimony completed)

#12 Melissa Grosvenor (1101(b) witness who was held at gunpoint in Spector's Pasadena home)

Accredited Press inside the courtroom:
Harriet Ryan of the Los Angeles Times (about an hour in the afternoon session)

I miss the 8:29 am train this morning. Going down the escalator I realize I forgot to take a sweater again and I forgot to bring a bottle of water. When I get a seat on the train, there is a woman in the seat directly behind me. She has headphones on and she is singing, badly. This is going to be an interesting (and auditorialy painful) 1/2 hour ride. When the train starts up I'm fortunate. The sound drowns out the weak wailing of the American Idol wannabe.

In the first floor elevator bay, Pat Kelly from the PIO and I chat about where I can get any public case documents or motions. She tells me that normally they would be on the mezzanine level but since the case is in court the easiest would be to just ask the prosecutors for a copy of the document. It takes us about five tries before we are able to get on an elevator.

The courtroom is almost empty. There's no accredited press and no attorneys with Mrs. Clarkson and Fawn. There are two gentlemen in the gallery on my left. Spector's #1 fan is here. Weinberg's male clerk is covering computer exhibits duty today. Spector is wearing a black pinstripe jacket, black pants a black shirt and a white kerchief. There are black shoes on his feet. Rachelle is wearing the black form fitted short satin jacket again with a midnight blue satin shirt. From here, her pants look like they have multicolored pin stripes, but I'm sure that's not right. They are too long, too; the pant cuffs are dragging on the floor. Over that she is wearing one of her long, worn sweater coats.

Wendy and AJ and Truc chat. At 9:37 am the jury is called and the bailiff calls out for people in the gallery to turn off their cell phones and pagers. For a short time, the courtroom appears that it's a bit warmer today. The DA's clerks arrive. I notice two of the alternates take out wool looking shawls and wrap them around their shoulders when they sit down. Juror #5 is wearing another music related t-shirt. It's black with an image and the words Johnny Cash. The rest of the men are wearing button down or polo shirts. A juror in the back row has a coughing fit, but she's fine.

Sophia is up on the stand, under cross examination.

Ms. Holguin's cross is not as painful as some of the 1101(b) witnesses. Many times however, she answer's Weinberg's questions with I don't remember that, I don't know or I don't recall.

I take a moment to look on over at the jury. One alternate stares at Weinberg a lot. A juror in the top row takes a note. The alternates in the first row have their eye on the witness. I would have to say in general, this group does not take many notes. There are a few jurors that hardly take any notes at all.

Weinberg goes over in detail with Holguin's recollection of how Spector instructed the $450.00 tip be distributed, and she didn't get that entire tip. Weinberg asks her, "In fact, he had about five people in mind, correct?" Holguin answers, "Yes." Weinberg then implies that she takes most of the money for herself and didn't distribute it like instructed.

DW: You told your roommate when you got home you, you told your roommate you got $350.00?

SH: I don't have a roommate.

Weinberg gets Holguin to admit that Spector was not "irritated" the entire time he was at the House of Blues. He tries to impeach her that she told detectives Spector just asked for rum, not Bacardi 151 specifically. He asks her if she knows what "up selling" is and she denies doing that with Spector's order.

Weinberg's cross concentrates on focusing on discrepancies in her initial interview with police on February 7th, 2003. In that interview, she went over the details of the dialog she heard Spector say when ordering drinks at the House of Blues three times. It was on the third recounting of the event when she tells detectives that Spector said to Kathy Sullivan, "Just order a f***ing drink!"

DW: Isn't it true that on the 3rd go through, this is the first time you said [to detectives] 'Get a f***ing drink? [...]

I believe she answers yes.

DW: Will you explain to the jury why it wasn't until the third time you went over this, this is the first time you bring this up?

Because I had just heard the woman I was working with was murdered.

DW: Is that what you think?

SH: That's what I had heard on the news at the time. I don't know.

DW: Didn't you just mix this up in your mind?

SH: Because as I talked about it, more detail came back.

When Weinberg makes these confrontational type questions, the witness is a bit stunned, almost like she's starting to doubt her own thought process. That's just my impression.

One juror in the back row is very attentive and takes notes. Two jurors in the front row, both have one arm across their chest and a hand resting on their face. Another juror in the back row rocks in their chair.

Weinberg is now in a familiar stance when he is cross examining. He has his left arm across his chest, and his right arm is close to his body and his hand on his face. His chin is resting in the palm of his right hand. I don't always see his full face, so I don't know what expressions he is giving the witness when he stands like this.

Right after cross ends, John Taylor enters the courtroom and sits with Lana's family. AJ gets up to redirect his witness.

On redirect, Holguin testifies that Spector asked her to go home with him. She declined. She also testifies that Spector was hitting on Lana and that the detectives when they first interviewed her, asked her about this.


There are more questions again about the three times she went over the drink ordering event with the detectives. The jurors look totally bored at this point and I rarely see a note being taken now. It must be putting Rachelle to sleep. Her eyes are closed.

DW: Are you trying to say that the first time you were talking about ordering drinks you were not giving exact words?

SH: Could you repeat that please?

Weinberg asks about the ordering of the rum again. In the interview with detectives she told them Spector ordered it straight up. Today, she testified that it was on the rocks. The jury looks like they want to leave. Fidler asks Weinberg if they can take a break. He states that he just has a few more questions. I think this is ridiculous.

Recross is finished and AJ gets up to redirect.

AJ: Regardless of what he ordered, straight up, on the rocks, what you served was Bacardi 151 and that's what he drank, correct?

SH: Yes.

AJ: And it's double the alcohol?

SH: Yes.

We're finished and we take the morning break.

11:06 am: Break is almost over. Pat Dixon comes in to sit in the back row on one of the plastic chairs. During the break I saw Euphrathes and Melissa Grosvenor in the hallway. One of them will be next. I believe the gentleman who is with Melissa is her husband. During the break, a trial watcher came up to me and said they thought Rachelle was starting to look a bit dowdy, because she has toned down her outfits. She has been wearing more dark colors than light.

The next witness is Euphrathes Lalonvriz and Truc presents the witness.

He had worked at this House of Blues location a little over a year and before that he had worked at a HOB in New Orleans. His job title/description was Bartender/Security. At the time he was a "trainer" which meant that he could go to any HOB location and train new employees.

He explains the Foundation Room inside the House of Blues as a VIP room for clientele. He had seen Spector at the HOB before the February 2nd date. He explains the term "golden" and how it is used to treat some members like they would treat the honored patron, Dan Ackroyd.

Lalonvriz details his recollection of the altercation at the entrance to the Foundation Room between Spector and Lana. He then describes what he saw of the drink ordering event. He testifies that inside the "Buddha Room" where Spector and Kathy Sullivan were seated, Sullivan was sitting somewhat behind Spector. He did not see her face while he was ordering drinks. He states that he saw Sullivan shaking her head that she did not want a drink, and that she silently "mouthed" that she just wanted water. He instructed the waitress to put Sullivan's water order in a tall glass with a lime to make it look like it was a drink. He testifies that Sullivan appeared "edgy" and uncomfortable to be there.

Lalonvriz testifies that he had a short conversation with Sullivan at the Sunset Blvd. entrance outside. He states that Sullivan said while shaking her head, 'I just want to leave." She was walking toward the backside of the HOB [towards the parking area where Spector's car was parked].

Truc then introduces five security footage video clips into evidence. As the first tape starts to play, Lalonvriz holds up his hand and he says something to the effect of, "I'm sorry. It has nothing to do with you. The courtroom is real cold and I have to go to the bathroom."

It's a funny moment and the jurors and the gallery laugh. Judge Fidler says, "Of course." and Lalonvriz makes a bee line for the door.

Meanwhile, Detective Tomlin is sitting in Linda Deutsch's favorite spot. Several of the jurors chat with the individual beside them. I see a black man enter out of the corner of my right eye and sit in the back row of the courtroom. 11:43 am the witness retakes the stand and Fidler retakes the bench.

As each tape is played, Truc stops the video and has Lalonvriz identify people in the video. The first three videos are of the parking area outside the House of Blues. The fourth clip I don't remember seeing before. It's of Lana inside the Foundation Room, putting out candles at the bar area. This was one of her jobs that she has to complete before she is allowed to go sit with Spector at his table.

While this clip is up, Lalonvriz describes various areas of the Foundation Room that surround the image of the bar up on the ELMO. I notice that Donna gets teary eyed, seeing the grainy, infrared image of her daughter up on the screen. She is dabbing her eyes with a Kleenex. Seeing her cry, my eyes start to well up with tears also.

Fidler calls the noon recess. When I look on over to my left I see that Donte has arrived sometime since the last break. He leaves the courtroom with Spector, Rachelle and the bodyguard.

12:59 pm: I'm back in the hallway, waiting. I see Donte sitting on one of the benches. It makes me wonder if he went to lunch with his father, or if he ate in the cafeteria, alone. 1:25 pm Spector, Rachelle and the bodyguard arrive. Inside the courtroom, Donte is sitting beside Rachelle in the first bench row on the right. The courtroom is virtually empty. The only other people are one of the DA's clerks and the witness.

I watch Truc pull these huge, five or six inches thick binders off the cart and then put some hand cream quickly on her hands. "Where's AJ?" she asks the clerk. He said he would be right along after the clerk left the office. 1:33 pm Pat Kelly from the PIO arrives, and still no AJ. 1:36 pm the Clarkson's arrive. Spector's #1 fan is here and again there is no press in the room.

Lalonvriz takes the stand again and identifies the people in the last video clip. Sandi Gibbons from the DA's office enters at 1:43 pm. I notice Spector is facing the ELMO, watching the video clip. And that's it. Lalonvriz's testimony is finished for direct. As the last clip plays of Lana Clarkson getting into Spector's Mercedes I think, This is the last image that anyone has of Lana, alive. The only people who see her alive after this are Adriano DeSouza and Spector. A chill goes down my spine.

Weinberg has no cross for this witness! Melissa Grosvenor is called to the stand. A man I remember from the first trial is with her. I think it is her husband. He sits on the second bench row off to my left.

AJ requests a short recess to argue a motion outside the presence of the jury. The jury files back out and Melissa Grosvenor, who was sitting in Linda Deutsch's favorite spot is asked to leave the courtroom for a moment. AJ makes an effort to prevent the defense from bringing up Melissa's bank fraud felony conviction, as well as the employment application she filled out for Continental Airlines where she lied on an employment application. He fails. Fidler rules this is all admissible under Wheeler.

With that settled the jury comes back in and Melissa comes back into the courtroom. This time I think she is sitting on the end in the first row. As the jury comes in Spector sits down before they are finished filing in. During that time he has turned his body around and he's staring directly at Melissa Grosvenor for about 6-8 seconds. When Spector realizes the jury hasn't finished filing in he stands up again. During the entire stare down, Grosvenor stares straight ahead and doesn't look at Spector.

Grosvenor's testimony was finished early at around 3:30 pm today. However, it's getting late and I need to wash my hair and get to bed. I'll try to finish up this entry tomorrow evening. I believe that Spector's driver, Adriano DeSouza will be the first or second witness up on the stand tomorrow. More to come...


ritanita said...

Thanks, Sprocket! I can't wait to hear more. It feels like I were there... and I wish I were. Shame on mass media!

Anonymous said...

Seems quite strange that the MSM is nowhere to be seen. Many thanks for your presence & notes.

When you have time, your thoughts on the differences and similarities between the two trials would be very interesting to hear. I wonder how the witnesses can still remember anything about what happened that night - being so long ago.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Liz; thanks for being there and what's with the media. I would love to see AJ in action and PS get what he deserves - a nice new boyfriend in jail.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks Sprocket for your very descriptive eyewitness accounts. You are a life line to the justice system.


pillowlady said...

Sprocket, we appreciate your hard work. Thank you. Perhaps Rachelle was told to tone down her clothing and hairstyle during this trial. Her hair seems very light and blonde streaked. I would give anything to be able to watch this trial, but, with your vivid description, it is like I'm there. Thank you.

PatC said...

I agree that it's completely ridiculous that mass media isn't covering this trial and that your coverage is the next best thing to a live trial or being there ... THANKS!

As for the issue you described regarding rum 151 vs. 80 proof... AJ clearly handled it well -- as is to be expected -- my question is this... did not one of the ladies who had dated PS in the past testify in the first trial that Bacardi 151 is PS "drink of choice" when he drinks?

Anonymous said...

Thanks again, Sprocket.

As to: All this memory stuff. I have read that if a person has a story that is always perfectly the same, without any variants or elaborations, it is very likely the person is lying. We use different wording, different images when we talk to people, even tell a story which is true differently, slanted a bit differently, to different people. Weinberg must be aware of this, so I wonder why he is wasting so much time alienating the jury as I think he must be. I have heard of impeaching witnesses but this stuff seems ridiculous.

Unknown said...

Owize1 and I got a good giggle out of your morning's escapades... lol

Great job on the story... Thanks!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for covering this! I read alot of your blog as well as watched the 1st trial. Really disappointed that no media outlet is covering this one, but thanks to you we can still follow #2. Keep up the good work! Will any of Lana's so-called friends be testifying for the defense?

Sprocket said...

Thank you! I do not know which witnesses the defense plans on calling. "Punkin" Pie's name is on the witness list attached to the jury questionaire.