Monday, November 17, 2008

Phil Spector Retrial: Day Seven of Testimony

November 17th, 2008

Prosecution Witnesses
#8: Dianne Ogden (1101(b) witness; unavailable for trial; testimony was the video recording by Court TV during the first trial; testimony completed)

#9: Kathy Sullivan (waiter at The Grill on the Alley; after work, she went to Trader Vic's, Dan Tana's and the House of Blues with Spector; testimony completed)

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

Special Hearing Outside the Presence of the Jury (Requested by Doron Weinberg)

#3 Judge Douglas Sortino (From 2002-2005, prosecutor assigned to the Spector case)

Accredited Press inside the courtroom:
Afternoon session only, Harriet Ryan from the Los Angeles Times; Beth Karas from CNN In Session (unofficial capacity)

Some quick news for those of you who have been waiting for the main stream press to put out another article on this case.

Dianne Odgen testified from beyond the grave today. Her video taped testimony, preserved by the former Court TV was played for the jury. Over the objections of Weinberg, the jury was give a redacted copy of the transcript of the tape to read as the video played.

Fidler gave the jurors a brief introduction to the video tape explaining that there were blacked out areas of the tape and that they were not to speculate on the reason for that. A few minutes into the tape it's stopped and Ms. Do asks the court to explain to the jury about the blue screen. Fidler goes onto explain about the different attorneys and their different style and tone and the way they present or cross witnesses. They are not to be concerned with that; just the content. It's at this point that Juror #1 asks if they could keep the transcript copy to write on. Judge Fidler says yes. "People?" Fidler asks. AJ states they have no objection. Weinberg objects. Fidler notes his objection and tells him he is overruled.

There was quite a bit of redaction and black out on the tape. Any time the camera zoomed in on Spector, those images were blanked out and although you heard the audio, the video went to a blue screen. Noticeably absent was Cutler yelling at Odgen about the purse on her shoulder incident and Judge Fidler admonishing him. (Later, I verified with AJ that he had a battle over that. He had to edit it out.) After the tape was finished (it went for approximately two hours) Weinberg made a motion about this testimony, objecting to the cross examination. "I've never been involved in a case where, the prosecution decided on the cross of the witness. [..] It was highly offensive in many ways." Weinberg goes onto say that because of Cutler's style of cross, he was severed from the case and never presented another witness to the jury again. He went onto say, "And now we are associated with it. Move for a mistrial."

Right after asking for a mistrial, Weinberg objects about Stephanie Jennings testimony. "Stephanie Jennings had nothing to do with the scenario outlined by the court. It was not about sex. [...] She thought Spector inviting her to her room had something to do with going to a party in his room with friends. [..] Her testimony should be stricken. [...] We still haven't heard any testimony having to do with the facts of the case."

Fidler: Let me hear from the people and then I'll rule.

AJ: Based on all the previous motions [that have already been ruled on] (unfortunately, I miss the rest of his statement. It was quite quick and brief.)

Fidler: Motion to strike denied. Motion for mistrial denied.

Weinberg then goes on, waxing poetic about the prosecution's method of questioning witnesses. He's complaining that the direct exam is more like a cross and too many questions are leading witnesses. The same thing on redirects. "[If you read back over the testimony] it reads like a cross. It reads like they are putting words in the witnesses mouth." Weinberg continues to give examples about the prosecutions questions to their witnesses. Weinberg wants to get this on the record (outside the presence of the jury) that he doesn't want to have to be constantly objecting to questions in front of the jury. Fidler waits to hear from the people before he responds.

AJ: We have no response. This is Mr. Weinberg objecting about the rulings.

Fidler: Mr. Jackson. You do have a bad habit of leading your witnesses.

AJ: I (or it may have been "we") respect the courts ruling.

The noon recess is called and the white haired man I've mentioned before is in court. He greets and hugs Spector.

Back from lunch while I'm waiting in the hallway, the beautiful Beth Karas walks up and I smile and give her a hug. She's very sharply dressed, wearing a light brown leather jacket with a string laces down the sides that can be tightened. I told her that AJ mentioned during the morning break that she would be here and she says, "He was supposed to keep it a secret so it would be a surprise." She is on vacation this week but said there is no way she could be out here and not drop in and see some of the trial. Beth indicated that she might not be in court tomorrow because she will be concentrating on giving her network a phone update on the trial. I'd recommend staying tuned to hear what she has to say.

Many people in the courtroom were quite pleased to see her.

Right before the afternoon session started Harried Ryan shows up and takes her usual seat in the back bench row.

Kathy Sullivan held fast to her version of events that transpired over the evening of February 2nd and early morning of the 3rd, 2003. Under cross examination Sullivan testifies that when she heard about what happened on the news, she took her own notes about what she remembered of the evening the following day. She felt that someone would be calling her and she felt it was important to take notes. I thought Sullivan was an excellent witness. She came across well on the stand and did not appear to get irritated by Weinberg's cross.

There are two areas where her testimony does not coincide with the testimony of the next witness we hear. During cross examination Sullivan states, "I just remember her being very professional and I have no notes or memory of her saying Miss." This was in regards to whether or not Lana addressed Spector as Miss when she didn't recognize him. Sullivan also testified under cross that she does not remember Spector demanding that she order a drink several times. She remembers him asking her only once. She also does not believe that Spector raised his voice or using profanity (the "F" word) when he was asking her to order a drink.

The next witness who testified was the waitress who served Spector in the foundation room at the House of Blues, Sophia Holguin. She looked a bit different to me. In the first trial, her hair was very wavy and curly. Today, it was completely straight. She completed her direct examination today and will be under cross, tomorrow.

At approximately 3:50 pm, the jury was released and there was a hearing outside the presence of the jury. Weinberg has the former prosecutor on the case take the stand. This is interesting because Doug Sortino is now a judge.

Sortino takes the stand and was sworn in.

DW; You are now a judge?

DS: Yes.

DW: Do you know why you are here?

DS: I believe it is about a discovery issue.

What follows is the biggest waste of time I think I have ever seen in this trial. Weinberg is still chasing after the statements Dorothy Melvin made on the stand, where she insisted that she told the investigators about the three different incidents at parties hosted by Joan Rivers' yet, there was nothing in discovery handed over by the prosecution to the defense.

At the end of the examination of the witness and cross, Weinber states, "It appears that his memory might be flawed because Detective Tomlin and Detective Bennett have records. [...] He says that he was never there alone with Ms. Melvin. [...] Bennett said he went with Sortino to Melvin's to pick up the notes/postcards. [...] Plus, he laid to rest that he showed the report to Melvin. [...] It appears to be clear that Melvin didn't tell prosecutors about the three different incidents. [...] [What] it comes back down to is, one paragraph in Tomlin's report is all the defense has and she swore that she talked Doug Sortino about the events. [...] I think that she didn't give the information to the detective. I think she testified about things that simply are not true, [...] to bolster her testimony. [...] I believe that at this very least we should have to inform the jury that the DA doesn't have any documentation to support [her statements]."

AJ: At this point, I'm not sure what Mr. Weinberg is trying to prove. The discovery issue is that she was aware of the discrepancy issue between the Pasadena report and Detective Tomlin's report. [..] It's for the jury to decide what's inaccurate. AJ goes onto defend the people's position on the Christmas incidents.

DW: At this point, I'm no longer surprised that Mr. Jackson doesn't understand the argument. [...] On the face of it, we now know it wasn't a discovery issue.

So Weinberg believes that Melvin is lying and he wants Fidler to tell something like that to the jurors. It's 4:24 pm and Weinberg is still arguing. "That does not leave room for her answer. That's untruthful," he continues.

Fidler: There are several things that need to be addressed. Now you believe that there was no deliberate discovery violation.

Fidler lists the possible options.

The first possibility is she told the police and they didn't give it the weight it deserved and didn't note it.

The second possibility is she thinks she did and she's mistaken.

The third possibility is she's purposefully covered up.

Certainly you can argue it and put on witnesses and argue it. You can do that.

Weinberg doesn't appear to be happy with this ruling.

DW: What I have contended is that she wound up giving testimony that she knows is untruthful. The woman cam up and falsely claimed that she made statements to the prosecution. [...] It should not be up to me.... it's not my job to convince the jury.

Fidler: It's not for the court to single out to the jury which witness is accurate or not.

I can tell by Fidler's face and tone, he's irritated. He's not happy with Weinberg.

Fidler: (Sounding exasperated) The mistake has been pointed out.

Weinberg in defense of his position, brings up the missing evidence in the first trial, and how the defense was admonished for this to the jury. He goes onto to say, "There's no reason why the court can't issue a jury instruction about this issue."

Fidler: I don't equate my prior instructions to be relevant to this issue. [...]I don't know how to say this politely. I find your request for an instruction to the jury to be totally inappropriate.

And that's it for the court day. Jon and I are very tired and we rush out of the courtroom with the Clarkson's to try to miss as much as we can of the freeway traffic.


Unknown said...

Your coverage is the best, anyway!

BTW... anyway you can find out how Dianne died. I've always wondered.

Sprocket said...


At the time she died, there was zero news as to COD (cause of death). One of my readers found out that to get a copy of the autopsy report, the request must be made in person, at the county where the death occurred.

Later, when Fidler ruled that her taped testimony would come in, the LA Times reported that she died of an accidental overdose. I'm not positive, but I believe the article stated it was prescription medications.

The jurors have not been told of Ogden's death. They have just been told she's unavailable to testify.

Anonymous said...

Sprocket: I can't tell you how much I am enjoying your blog on this case. It's almost like being there. I can picture the witnesses from the first trial and of course AJ and Judge F. I know this trial is going to be long and drawn out, but just remember you have avid readers out here and we really appreciate you!! Keep up the good blogging.

donchais said...

I'm waiting to find out if, after yet another Weinberg objection, you totally lose it and jump to your feet and shout out - "Objection!"

I think Judge Fidler would be amused, lol!

Anonymous said...

Sprocket - I think we should start a blog pool on how many times Weinberg makes a motion for mistrial! I'm guessing 33!

Sprocket said...

Thank you very much everyone. I have to say that sitting on the hard benches in 106 for about five hours each day is exhausting. And, the courtroom was quite cold yesterday. I think I will have to start bringing a coat.

This is my prediction: I'm betting that with every witness, Weinberg will be challenging them on any testimony that contradicts with either their grand jury testimony and/or the last trial.

If Weinberg finds even the tiniest change, he will move to have their testimony stricken, or find an argument for a mistrial. This is not much different than what Craig Albee did for the defense in the Jensen trial. I'm not saying that his tactic will be successful in getting Spector an accquittal or another mistrial, but it does make him a tougher adversary for the prosecution.

The more motions he makes, the harder the prosecution has to work to counteract those arguments. And, it takes up court time.

So with each witness you have to ask, did they testify differently at the first trial or at the grand jury? Stephanie Jennings testified at the Grand Jury; Weinberg brought out any little item that could be considered different from that testimony as well as what she said to reporters. Same thing with Devra Robitaille.

I know for certain that Kathy Sullivan did not testify at the grand jury, and I was not in court when she testified during trial #1. But from what I remember of watching her testimony on the old Court TV archived footage back then, I don't believe there was anything inconsistent in her testimony yesterday from the last trial. I also don't know what might have been omitted.

Sprocket said...

A few more notes from yesterday.

AJ has a sense of humor. He wore a muted pink tie with very tiny turkeys as the design.

I do know that there was an argument in Dixon's office at the lunch break between several individuals.

When Dianne Odgen's tape was played, the beginning of the tape had an image of Judge Fidler for about 6-10 seconds. Judge Fidler remarked to the gallery & jurors, "Nice looking Judge." The courtroom laughed.

Several people have commented to me now on how beautiful Truc Do is and that shes' got "a great head of hair." There was one gorgeous top she wore last Wednesday underneath her suit jacket that I couldn't stop staring at. Her wardrobe is fantastic, stylish and sexy.

During the taped testimony, Spector faced the screen but it was impossible to tell from the angle of his head (tilting down) whether he was actually watching it or not.

Donte was in court yesterday. He looks a bit different with an almost completely shaved head dressed very casually in tennis shoes and jeans.

Beth Karas visited Judge Fidler in chambers soon after she arrived at 106. I don't believe she brought cookies this time.

Beth Karas did bring me some news on Dominick. He spent 15 days in the hospital for his heart. He just got out and is resting at home in NY. Dominick recently turned 83. He never had the bladder surgery, and according to Beth he is much better now.

Please stop by Dominick's Diary, there is a link on the blog and leave Dominick your well wishes.

Unknown said...

Thanks Sprocket. I had heard the word suspicious surrounding her death, but no details. I guess the suspicions have faded.

Anonymous said...

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Weinberg is irritating this judge. This summer, a judge in another case that Weinberg is involved in - the Dr. William Ayres child molestation case- recused himself because of "antipathy" towards Weinberg.

We hear that Weinberg violated the law by scheduling hearings for the Spector trial after he'd already been scheduled for a hearing on the Ayres trial.

Weinberg can ask for as many mistrials and delays as he wants, but he is gonna lose the Spector case bigtime. He is also gonna lose the Ayres case.

woot said...

Sprocket....would it be possible to publish a picture of Truc Do?? When you mention Beth Karas her image comes right up from watching all the professional Court TV ladies that prove that beauty does in fact come with brains. Woot

Sprocket said...

Unfortunately, it is against the LA County Courthouse policy to take photos inside the building and I would like to have her permission to photograph her. Maybe when the case is over, I might be able to accomplish that.