Monday, November 3, 2008

Phil Spector Trial: Day One of Testimony

Prosecution witnesses presented:

#1: Vincent Tannazzo (testimony completed)
#2: Dorothy Melvin (ordered to return Tuesday)

When I finally got home today, I had a bit of dinner and then fell asleep on the sofa, I was so tired. I just woke up about a half hour ago. This is a short entry so I can get to bed. The defense started off the day by again requesting a mistrial, claiming the jury was "poisoned" during opening statements which Judge Fidler promptly denied.

Truc Do presented Vincent Tannazzo, a retired security guard for Joan Rivers, as the first witness for the prosecution who testified about meeting Phil Spector at Christmas parties hosted by his boss sometime in the early 90s two years in a row and the several inflammatory, profanity laden statements he heard Spector say. Under relentless cross examination, the defense challenged virtually everything Tannazzo testified to, from his claim that he was a licensed private investigator working for Joan Rivers to what year the events allegedly took place.

In the initial trial, Tannazzo testified that he thought the events took place sometime between 1994 and 1997. Today, he changed his testimony slightly, stating that the events could have occurred in the "early 90's" from 1991 on. In cross, Weinberg kept asking him "why" he changed his testimony, and hammered home the fact that Tannazzo did not have any corroborating evidence to back up his claim that the events took place. He admitted he did not speak to Joan Rivers or Dorothy Melvin about the incidents afterwards, nor did he try to report it to the police when he discovered Spector was carrying a concealed weapon at one event or note them in a diary. Weinberg tried to paint Tannazzo as someone who purposefully interjected himself in the first trial for the publicity.

Under redirect, by Ms. Do, it was revealed that at the first trial, Tannazzo made a request of the court not to be photographed while testifying on the stand. Tannazzo was finally finished with his testimony in the afternoon and the prosecution called their second witness, Dorothy Melvin.

Under direct examination by Ms. Do, Melvin told the jury about how she met Spector and started dating him sporadically over the next several years. She told in detail the events that happened on July 3rd, 1993 at his Pasadena home where after a late night of partying and Spector drinking almost an entire "jug bottle" of vodka, she fell asleep on a white sofa. When she woke up she went looking for Spector and found him outside in the motor court pointing a "snub nosed revolver" at her new car. A verbal argument ensued where Spector then pointed the gun at her, ordered her upstairs and to take off her clothes. Melvin states that during the ensuing fight, Spector backhanded her with the gun in his hand two separate times. While trying to flee the residence in her car, Spector approached her with a shot gun. After finally getting off the property, she called 911, telling police she left her purse on the premises and she needed to get it back because it contained important papers, including her employer's passport. With the help of Pasadena police, she was able to retrieve her purse. She never pressed charges, choosing to avoid any negative publicity attached to her.

Towards the end of the court day, Melvin was about to corroborate Vincent Tannazzo's testimony about the Christmas parties when Weinberg objected stating they have not received any discovery evidence from the prosecution. The jury was excused and the last 15 minutes of the court day was taken up by whether or not the prosecution had provided the defense with exactly what Melvin was going to testify to. Various portions of a sidebar of the first trial transcript was read in open court by both sides, in support that there was or wasn't adequate discovery of what Melvin was going to testify to.

Judge Fidler ruled that they would take up the matter at 9:30 the next day, and he requested that Pat Dixon be there to present what he remembers of his verbal interview with Ms. Melvin that Mr. Jackson did not witness. Weinberg's last request of the court was to ask Fidler to admonish Ms. Do for her continually leading questions under direct examination. Judge Fidler then addressed Ms. Do and said, "Consider yourself admonished."

This was a long, drawn out day with continual objections by the defense. At this rate, the retrial will take longer than the first one. I will put up a more detailed entry as soon as possible. Please note that I am also working on a detailed narration of opening statements.

Another noteworthy event in the morning session was the reappearance at the retrial of a white haired gentleman who greeted Spector with a hug. This was the same man who, late in the first trial, followed Dr. Adams and approached him at one of the Red Line stations on his way home from court. I believe I know his last name, but I'm not positive.

On Tuesday, court will only be in session in the morning to allow the jurors time to vote. On Wednesday, court will only be in session in the afternoon. Looks like Thursday will only be the other full day of court this week. In looking at the marked off days on the calendar behind the clerk's desk, November 10th and 11th will be dark, as well as the entire Thanksgiving week. In December, court will be dark for Christmas week as well as the following week of New Years. There is also a day in January, 2009 that is marked dark. I believe it's a Monday, either the 19th or the 26th.

I'm pretty tired, so I'm going to head off to bed. I'll try to get more comprehensive notes up, tomorrow afternoon.

Update: Detailed trial notes for Monday, November 3rd, 2008
I make the 8:29 train. In the station on the upper platform I notice a man still getting a cell phone connection farther in the tunnel than I can. He gets on the train in my car at the last minute and I ask him what cell service he uses. Humph! Same as mine. We start chatting about the Red Line and how we are both relatively new comers to riding it. Jerry tells me he is a commercial real estate manager and I tell him about T&T and covering the Spector trial.

I clear the first floor security in the criminal courts building. On the first floor there are a total of four security stations, and they are all at the rear of the building. One station is dedicated to employees and attorneys who have business in the building. The other three are for the general public and jurors. Rarely are all three public scanners in operation at one time. There is another huge counter area for the LAPD to check in when they are in the building. Also on the first floor is a small Sheriff's station.

Up on the 9th floor Jennifer Barringer is here at 9:05 am also. The lights are on in the ante chamber, but it looks like the lights are off. A bit later I realize that the sheriff's have blacked out the windows on the inner courtroom doors. Apparently, this is to avoid looky-loos.

9:14 am: I see the jurors down by the 9th floor security station with their bailiffs. I head on into the courtroom. AJ and Truc arrive and I overhear Wendy tell someone that they are going to let the jurors go home early on Tuesday so they can vote.

AJ leans towards me and answers a question in the affirmative that I had sent to Sandi Gibbons. The courtroom is cold and barren. Only Jennifer is here at the defense table.

The jury files in and there appears to be a problem with the jury room door. The sheriff's help them get it open. The two clerks from the DA's office are here sitting in the front row on the far left side. I need to ask them what their first names are. There is only one other person in the gallery, a man, wearing a lanyard around his neck that looks like it's a building employee badge.

The ELMO is on and I can see the screen saver for the computer it is connected to. It's a close up of blades of grass. Jennifer is working on her laptop and the court reporter is setting up. The two bailiffs are chatting by the jury room door. Another man joins the man behind me. A member of the PIO staff arrives and comments on the blacked out door windows.

9:25 am: Weinberg arrives with Harriet Ryan right behind him. We smile to each other and say hello. Harriet has been writing some great pieces on the trial for the Los Angeles Times. I see a young, pretty blonde woman arrive. She's wearing a long light brown coat and the bailiff tells her she can sit in the back row. She looks like she might be a reporter to me. She's more professionally dressed than the average person from the general public. I see Harriet plugging in her computer at the same time that Linda Deutsch from The Associated Press enters the courtroom. Everyone is making a comment about the black paper over the windows.

Spector, Rachelle Short and their bodyguard enter. Rachelle is wearing a shimmering black satin form fitting jacket with her black slacks. Spector is wearing a black pinstripe suit, white shirt with a bright red tie and matching kerchief. The bodyguard takes his usual seat of sitting in the back row against the wall in the plastic chairs. He often forgets to remove his hat when he enters and has to be reminded by either Wendy or the bailiffs.

Jon Scott from All Memphis Music arrives and sits in the row behind me. A woman joins the two clerks from the DA's office, sitting between them. There are two young men in suits in the row behind me to the left. The bailiff comes over to ask them who they are and I overhear that they are from the public defenders office.

9:30 am: Some of Lana Clarkson's family enter and sit in the front row. John Taylor, one of the family's counsel, turns around and asks me how I'm doing. A few minutes later Rick Ocampo enters. He's working on this case behind the scenes. He takes one of the plastic seats in the back row by the inner doors. Linda Deutsch is concentrating on her blackberry. AJ and Truc are in conversation; Donna and Rod Lindblom haven't arrived yet. An image is up on the ELMO of Dorothy Melvin and Spector, the same one we saw at the first trial that was taken at one of Joan River's Christmas parties.

9:33 am: Donna and Rod arrive. Donna and Fawn are always dressed in conservative, elegant suits and I admire the pearl necklace that Donna has on today.

9:35 am: Judge Fidler takes the bench. Weinberg stands up and asks for the opportunity to address the court about recent rulings and address his [opposition] to the courts ruling for admission of evidence. (I believe this is about Fidler's rulings regarding opening statements.) The prosecution "expanded and exploited it, and now it's a trial about Mr. Spector's character [...] now having reviewed the text of opening statements [...] it's abundantly [clear] now to have the trial focused on Mr. Spectors character; his abuse, his violence [///] So that in itself requires a mistrial because it's [the jury] been poisoned [...] It leaves us in an impossible quandary. We either ignore it or we respond to it and present evidence [...] and that would then lead us to open the door [...] I'd asked for the judge for instructions to the jury and you said..." (Darn! I miss the last part; but from what I remember, Judge Fidler told Weinberg that he would instruct the jury that opening statements are not evidence). "The damage has been done," Weinberg continues.

AJ stands up and says, "If I can, your honor. It's not about character; it's about history and pattern of violence. It's not about his character. I've thought a lot about this. The Court took a bit of issue with the word "habit." The court will take this up in a variety of ways to get the cour to reverse it's ruling."

AJ then gives a simple example of, let's say, Spector backhanded a little ol' lady and we try to say because of that, he killed Lana Clarkson. That would be about character. "Mr. Weinberg said, Let's bring some truth back into the courtroom..." And in response, AJ brings up People Vs. Thornton. "The distinctive combination of circumstances is the basis of why 1101(b) was founded. [...] The degree of similarity must be extreme."

Louis Spector enters the courtroom with his companion, Frieda.

"People vs. Kelly," AJ continues. "We've already cited Kelly in our moving papers. The charged and uncharged incidents must share common features. The Supreme Court uses the word 'pattern.' " AJ then uses the words in one of the defense's motions. He brings up "...the moving papers dated September 15th, 2008:

"If identity is at issue as this case must show that the pattern is so unique and unusual as to show a signature..."

AJ then reads the first words he said from his opening statement. "Those were my first words to the jury. Those were the words that Mr. Weinberg was in favor [of]." AJ then goes on to defend the use of the word "pattern" in his opening statement. "I did not run afoul of the law. I ran afoul of Mr. Weinberg," he continues. "The law is the law and I was well within my rights. I was well within the [constraints?] of the law."

Weinberg stands up and makes a startling (to me) argument. "I'm not sure I've ever heard an argument more divorced from reality than that one," he says. He then quotes from AJ's opening. "Mr. Jackson has undermined the meaning of the law [...] He never killed someone before in the exact same way"[...] (Oh brother! That same useless argument that Spector never killed anyone before! Women were lucky he didn't until Lana Clarkson!) Weinberg goes on. "This is speculation ontop of speculation [..] It is a complete misuse of common scheme or design [...] There's no evidence of what happened in that house is the same as what happened before." Weinberg continues to argue his point. "There's no proof of absence of mistake. There is none. There will be none. There was none at the last trial," Weinberg says.

"Having allowed that evidence in the prosecution has turned that evidence into what the court has asked him not to do [...] I can read..."

Judge Fidler says, "I dont' need to revisit my ruling. The problem is always [that fine line]... I took some issue to the word pattern without tying it into the issues of 1101(b) [common scheme; absence of mistake] ... We did discuss it. I did instruct the jury and my instructions are what control [the court? the trial?]" The 1101(b) witnesses will testify. They will be told [in what context they can use these these witnesses]."

"The motion for a mistrial is denied," Fidler rules.

Weinberg continues beyond that. "That puts the defense in a position to respond and that forces us to say that is not the case. It's an invention [...] and that opens the door to us."

Fidler responds to Weinberg. "I would suggest that if you would like to present a [witness for a] ruling, and I will give an offer of proof (I'm not sure I have this right.) and you can decide [from his ruling] whether or not to put on that witness."

Weinberg says, "Okay."

Susan then comes in with a suit jacket. "I was in such a haste to get here, I didn't have a matching suit jacket," Weinberg says. Susan hands Weinberg his jacket and Fidler tells him that he didn't even notice.

With this bit of business finally over, Truc moves to the podium and the jury files in. Fidler asks AJ if Vincent Tannazzo is the first witness up and he replies, "Yes." The judge wants to admonish the jury before Tannazzo takes the stand.

Fidler asks Juror #13 (Alternate #1) about his injury. He came in walking almost normally. He had a special shoe on his foot. He informs Fidler that it was a hairline fracture, or a re fracturing of an old injury. Fidler informs the jury that it costs about 10,000 a day to operate a courtroom.... It's somewhat funny at the time and he gets a few laughs.

Fidler addresses the jury. "There are certain witnesses tat you are going to hear from [...] test these pieces [...] are admitted for limited purpose. You will be told at a later time. I just wanted you to know about that."

Vincent Tannazzo is sworn in and Truc Do steps up to interview her first witness.

Tannazzo currently lives in New York. He was a police officer from 1960 to 1983. The first few years he was in uniform. After that, he was promoted to narcotics, in Brooklyn. He retired from the force in the intelligence division. He started a private security business with his two brothers in 1990.... 1989 or 1990. Their company was licensed [as a private investigative firm]. At some time they took on Joan Rivers as a client, around 1989, 1990 when they incorporated. He now occasionally works for her in a limited capacity. Tannazzo describes the security he provided for her when she had a television show. He carried a weapon while he worked for Joan Rivers.

Tannazzo testifies that he knew Dorothy Melvin. She was Joan Rivers' manager. His company provided daily security for Joan for approximately 7-8 years. Tannazzo is asked to identify Phil Spector and he does so, describing his dress. Tannazzo states that he'd known previously that Dorothy and Spector were dating. He first met him in the lobby of Joan Rivers' residence in Manhattan. It's a seven story apartment building off a side street in Manhattan and Ms. Rivers' has the top three floors.

Tannazzo testifies that when he met Spector, it was somewhere in the 90's. 1993, '94, '95. He's not sure of the exact years. The part started at three or four in the afternoon on Christmas Day. He describes his duties of picking up the guest list. He waited in the lobby to check the arrivals against the guest list. Phil Spector arrived with another male, his limo driver. Spector had nothing with him. Yes, he was on the guest list. Prior to that date, he had never met Phil Spector.

Do: Did you know who he was?

VT: Yes. I had several of his albums.

After some time, the door man in the lobby receives a phone call who says to him, "Vinnie, (Tannazzo testified earlier that people call him Vinnie.) it's for you." It's Dorothy Melvin on the line. Dorothy tells him, Vinnie get up here. Phil Spector just pulled out a gun.

Do: What was her tone?

VT: She was upset.

Tannazzo proceeded upstairs to the residence and unholstered his gun. Spector was at the elevator with Dorothy Melvin. Tannazzo identifies the photo up on the ELMO of Dorothy Melvin and Spector. Judge tells the jurors about the exhibits and the pre-numbering system.

Tannazzo testifies that Melvin and Spector were having an argument. Tannazzo states that Spector was ranting, "These f***ing c**ts!!" These f***ing c**ts!!" "I was shocked," Tannazzo continues. "I didn't know what was going on." Dorothy Melvin was telling him to, calm down, calm down. "He was like, out of control [..] it was loud."

Do: How many times did Mr. Spector use the "C" word?

VT: It was over and over.

Do: Were they directed at Dorothy Melvin?

VT: I don't believe they were.

The three of them proceeded into the elevator. The very small, cramped elevator is described as being around four feet by six feet, a little bigger than the witness box. "I was standing next to him and started to lightly pat down Phil Spector." Tannazzo states that he was doing this in a discreet manner. In the pat down, Tannazzo felt a gun in the right side of his waist ban, under his jacket. Tannazzo believes it was a 38 revolver.

Do: What did you do?

VT: I did nothing at that time.

In the elevator lobby, he was still ranting, using profanity. When they reached the lobby, Spector was still muttering those words. "I saw his hand go to his waistband," Tannazzo says. "I told Phil Spector, if he pulled out his gun I'd blow his f***ing brains out. [...] So I told him to get his attention and let him know that I was armed."

Do: What did Mr. Spector do?

VT: Phil Spector says, I'm cool, I'm cool! I love cops, I love cops. All I want is my keyboard. [...] He started to calm down a little.

The group proceeded to the limo, and Vincent go into the back seat of the limo with Spector. The limo driver had carried in a keyboard to the party. Tannazzo got into the limo with Phil Spector and directed the limo driver to retrieve the keyboard. His conversation with Spector continued in the limo. Spector produced out of his pocket a sheriff's badge. He told Tannazzo that he was a sheriff in North Carolina. Tannazzo said to Spector, "I don't want to hear it." Spector then produced a carry permit for the gun, but Tannazzo didn't look at it. "Phil began telling me, That's why I have permits everywhere I go." It's at this moment that Spector told Tannazzo that shocking statement: These f***ing c**ts, they all deserve a bullet in their heads.

Do: What did you think?

DW: Objection! Irrelevant!

Fidler: Sustained!

Tannazzo testifies that Spector was calmed down a little bit but he still wasn't under control. The limo driver put the keyboard in the trunk and they left. Tannazzo went back upstairs to speak to Dorothy Melvin to see if there were any complainants and Dorothy told him there were no complaints.

Do: Did you see any sign of Mr. Spector being intoxicated?

VT: No.

Tannazzo saw Spector again one year later. His duties at the party were the same as the previous year. Tannazzo testified that he didn't do anything differently this year, but he did think a few things.

Do: What did you think?

VT: What are they, crazy? But I might have used a different word.

This year, Spector arrived alone. They didn't say anything to each other. After Spector went up, and hour, Spector and Dorothy exited the elevator in the lobby. "They were having an argument. Spector was saying, That f***ing c**t! That f***ing c**t!"

Do: Did it seem to you taht he was yelling those words to Dorothy Melvin?

VT: No.

Tannazzo testifies that he got in between Dorothy and Spector. "Again, Dorothy told me Vinnie, get him out of there." Right afterwards a woman then exits the elevator. "Best I can remember," Tannazzo says, "It was just a woman." The lobby of the apartment building is described. "Its a small little lobby. It's not very big at all," Tannazzo testifies. "Spector was about fifteen to twenty feet from the woman in the elevator. [...] He looked at the woman. [Spector then says] I should put a bullet in her head right now. [...] I was watching Spector to see if he would do anything. [...] Spector took a few steps toward the woman. [...] I grabbed Spector by the lapels and said, 'That's it!' F**k it!' [...] I then put him in the limo, and asked Dorothy Melvin if she was going to be alright."

Do: Did you speak to Dorothy Melvin of Joan Rivers about either incident.

VT: No.

Tannazzo states that he can't remember if he heard that soon after Dorothy Melvin and Spector broke up.

I observer a very petite older bottle-blond woman come and sit beside Rachelle Spector in the front row. She was also here for opening statements.

Tannazzo is then asked about how he became involved in the first trial to testify. He explains that someone left a garbled message on his answering machine [looking for him]. The person called him "Vincent" which is how he knew it wasn't someone that knew him. All his friends call him Vinnie. He knew that the defense team was trying to get a deposition from Joan Rivers. He believes he was contacted by former private investigators of Spector's then defense team. These private investigators said they were not looking for him. He sent a page to former Spector attorney Linda Kenny Baden but he never got a response. He still was under the impression that someone was trying to get a hold of him so he contacted the Los Angeles District Attorney's office. He is not certain who he spoke to. He believes it could have been Mr. Jackson. He says to whomever answered the phone, "Is anyone looking for me in regards to the Phil Spector case?" Tannazzo states that the person he spoke to said, "He couldn't talk to me but he would have someone contact him. [..] “I believe it was Detective Tomlin.”

Tannazzano testifies that the date this happened could have been January 31st, 2007.

TD: In 2003, did you hear about the death of Lana Clarkson?

VT: Yes.

TD: What did you think?

DW: Objection!

Judge: Sustained!

TD: What did you do?

VT: I called Joan Rivers up to find out if he shot Dorothy Melvin.

Tannazzo says that he had never talked to anyone until 2007. He is firm that he has “ doubt that Phil Spector used that phrase. [...] No doubt in my mind.”

TD: Any doubt that he spoke those words?

VT: No doubt.

TD: Any the other time in the elevator?

VT: Absolutely not.

Weinberg gets up to cross Tannazzo.

DW: The first time you talked to anyone it was January 31st, 2007?

Vincent says something to the effect of, that it might be; if that’s what you have in your reports I’ll agree with that.

DW: Who else did you discuss this with? Anyone in the 12 to 14 years that have passed?

VT: I might have.

DW: And you told them about yourself?

VT: Yes.

DW: Then you told them about the story you told here? (I miss the answer.) Then you testified around (I miss the date)....?

Tannazzo is not clear about the date that he testified in the first trial.

DW: Were you asked to corroborate anything about yourself?

VT: No.

DW: Did anyone ask you to corroborate anything about [yourself or your work history]?

VT: No.

Weinberg then brings out inconsistencies in his testimony today and his testimony at the first trial outside the presence of the jury and in front of the jury. Weinberg confronts Tannazzo that at the first trial, he said he was employed with the NY police from 1966 to 1983. Today you said from 1969. Do you remember testifying on August 7, 2007? You testified twice that you began in 1966...

Tannazzo tries to explain that in the NY police department at the time, “I was allowed to buyback two years time.” Meaning, that his years of military service would count as service in the NYPD.

Weinberg goes over Tannazzo’s work history with a fine tooth comb, and then goes over his prior testimony. He asks him why he retired on a disability pension with 1/2 pay. Tannazzo explains that he injured his back [I believe] in an auto accident.

DW: You didn’t have further employment until six years later.

Tannazzo replies, “I got a license in 1980. Oh, I’m sorry 1990.”

DW: So you’re telling me you have a license now?

VT: No, it expired two years ago.

There are more questions about the security firms that Tannazzo opened. The first was Elete Proprietorial Group. He was with them for 4 years. That firm was then closed and they opened Brothers Protection. His brother Peter opened that and he was a vice president. Peter was the registered agent.

DW: Were you still receiving a pension in 1994?

VT: Yes.

DW: If you retire and you state employment before your 20th anniversary, you must report it?

VT: Counselor, you’ve got to give me a minute. I’m flabbergasted at that.

DW: Isn’t it true that the only thing you were ever licensed for was for an unarmed security guard in 2001-2004?

And this is where the back and forth, “No you were not!” “Yes I was!!” verbal match between Weinberg and Tannazzo begins on whether or not Tannazzo held a private investagator’s license all those years ago.

VT: I’m telling you in open court! I probably have it on my person. In my wallet and I’ll show it to you!

Tannazzo is adamant that he doesn’t keep track of dates and concedes to Weinberg’s dates on prior testimony, etc. “If you say that’s the first time...”

DW: You had no notes. You never wrote anything down. [...] and you were able to remember specific words [...] and based ont hat you made phone calls all over the place...

VT: I knew they were trying to get a hold of Joan Rivers to get a deposition from Joan Rivers. [...] From her lawyers advice, she was told not to give a deposition.

DW: You didn’t talk to Joan Rivers [about the incidents]?

VT: She didn’t bring it up, so it’s not my call.

DW: Wern’t you there to protect her? [...] I’m not asking about your ‘call’

VT: I called Ms. Rivers aide. Asked who was looking for Ms. Rivers. I got three names.

Weinberg is now on the attack to try to discredit Tannazzo’s testimony. He’s relentless about what Tannazzo did. With his questions, he’s trying to put these questions in the juror’s minds, “why.”

TD: Objection! To the characterization “poking around!”

And on that note, the morning break is called.

The man with the shock of white hair is in the courtroom. When I finally look around, I see Ciaran McEvoy in the back row beside Harriet Ryan from the LA Times. He gives me a nod hello.

Spector and the white haired guy hug. They chat at the break in the gallery area right beside where Rachelle is sitting with the older bottle-blonde woman. I also notice a pretty woman in the back row wearing a long tan winter coat. I’m wondering if this could be a reporter. She has that look about her.

11:10 am The Clarkson family return to the courtroom. A black man wearing a long coat enters and sits in the back row and we wait for court to start again. I look on over at the calendars behind Wendy’s desk. There are three calendars hanging up. One show’s November, the next December and the last on January. I squint to see the days that are blocked out with an “X.” Tuesday, November 11th and Monday, the day before are X’d out. Other dark days are the entire Thanksgiving week, as well as two weeks over Christmas and New Years.

A short, gray haired man wearing a suit and carrying a leather satchel comes in and sits in the second row, way off to my left. (I later surmise that this is Dorothy Melvin’s attorney.) At 11:15 am Linda Deutsch takes her favorite seat.

During the break, Tannazzo takes out a small document from his wallet and Truc, AJ, Weinberg look at what he’s handed them. Now I see he hands them a second small card/document. Wendy asks counsel if she can call the jury. AJ asks for 30 more seconds. AJ, Weinberg and Do chat. Tannazzo takes the witness stand. Then Wendy is about to call the jury and Ms. Do says, “We have an issue before the jury comes out.”

Detective Tomlin enters the courtroom and takes a seat in the gallery.

TD: Mr. Weinberg did not provide any discover on any impeachment matters. We’ve received appropriate information from New York and... (miss the last part of her argument).

DW: WE asked for certified records bu they could not be here by today.

TD: It appeared to me and possibly to the jury that Mr. Weinberg was reading from official documents.

Nothing is immediately resolved and the jury is called.

While the jury enters, Susan whispers to Spector and I see her rub his left arm while she talks.

DW: During the break, you showed me a card that showed me you were an agent of a licensed agency. Is it not in fact the case that you [...] Brother’s Protective and that you are a Protective agent [...] you were merely an employee and not licensed yourself?

VT: Counsel, that’s simply not true.

DW: Why did you call the prosecution?

VT: I wanted to know who was looking for me.

Weinberg’s tone is questioning and Tannazo’s tone is slightly irritated. As the questioning goes on, it appears he gets even more irritated.

VT: I called the DA’s office and asked to be put through to [Alan Jackson].

DW: How did you know the prosecution was looking for you?

TD: Objection!

Judge: Sustained! Misstates the evidence.

DW: So when you called the prosecution, what did you think they wanted?

VT: I don’t know!!! (He sounds very exasperated.)

Weinberg's questions are rapid fire one after the other. Tannazzo goes over it again about why he called.

DW: (With an incredulous tone in his voice) Someone from the DA’s office told you they couldn’t talk about the case?

TD: Objection!

Judge: Sustained!

Tannazzo testifies that Detective Tomlin called him and tape recorded the phone call.

DW: You told the detectives [this happened] ‘95, ‘96, ‘97. That’s what you first said to Tomlin, when he first interviewed you.

Weinberg keeps pressing Tannazzo about why he’s now changing the dates of when the events happened.

DW: Why did you change [your testimony].

VT: Because it could have happened any of those years. I’m not arguing.

Weinberg now takes out a prior statement (or testimony; it’s not clear in my notes). The Judge asks Tannazzo if he could see the statement and if that would refresh his memory. Tannazzo reads the prior statement/testimony to himself. I take a peek over at the jury. One juror in the back row looks over to the juror next to them, whispers and they both smile. A few jurors in the back row take notes. One of the jurors is intently watching Weinberg and then the witness, back and forth.

Weinberg reads back prior testimony of Tannazzo from the first trial.

DW: Why did you change your testimony?

VT: I’m not changing my testimony.

DW: You are providing testimony to the prosecution in a murder case and you just put years out there?

Tannazzo again tells Weinberg that he can’t remember the dates.

DW: Well, lets fix them in relation [to your life].

Weinberg asks if it was before of after he had the detective agency?

VT: It could have been before or after!!!

DW: You bought a home in 1994? Was it before or after?

VT: I bought a home. What does that have to do with it?

DW: Was it before or after your declared bankruptcy?

Objection!!! (I’m not sure if it’s AJ or Truc who objects, but it is AJ who then says, “Maybe we should approach.” And a bench conference starts.

I look at the clock. It’s 11:41 am and I think, at this rate, the trial will take four or five months. Judge Fidler then excuses the jury until 1:30 pm, because they need to argue some points.

When the jury exits I look on over at Spector. He’s smiling for the jury as they enter the jury room. The Spector’s leave the building. Judge Fidler leaves the bench for a moment. Tannazzo is still on the stand and the courtroom gets noisy in the well area. Then I think it’s Wendy who announces that the court is in recess until 1:30 pm.

Later when the lunch break is almost over, I see Weinberg, Jennifer and Susan have lunch in the cafeteria together. Gone are the days where, during the first trial, the Spector defense team (as well as Spector and Rachelle) were offered a room on another floor to use during lunch and breaks.

I head out to the underground city to have lunch.

1:29 pm, I get back inside the courtroom after the lunch break. While waiting in the hallway, I had a chat with Harriet Ryan about the tragic news event she had to cover yesterday. Looking over at the court calendar, I notice that January 19th is also a dark day.

AJ and Truc bring in their cart loaded down with their case file binders. These are huge, four inch looking binders.

Rod Lindblom gets up to speak to AJ. Allan Parachini, the head of the court’s Public Information Office joins the small group in 106’s gallery. Spector and Rachelle are here.

1:32 pm. Wendy asks, “Ready for the jury?” AJ responds, “Yes.”

Linda Deutsch arrives and takes her seat. Spector’s bodyguard is in the same spot. In one of the plastic chairs along the back wall near the door. We’re now waiting for the witness who hasn’t shown up yet. Weinberg is at the odium and AJ and Weinberg speak.

I find out that court will only be a half day tomorrow, to give the jury time to vote. I also hear that the next day will be a half day also, but an afternoon session.

Now, Rick Ocampo and Doron Weinberg talk at the courtroom doors. Ocampo leaves. Truc’s apple computer starts up with the familiar start-up sound. Allan Parachini is in the front row reading what appears to be a motion. It has the familiar format. It’s now that I notice that the chair Spector is sitting is is different than the rest of the chairs at the defense table. It is a special type chair. Weinberg comes over the Linda Deutsch and asks her, “Are you expected to attend this trial every day?” Linda replies, “No. Only for a few days.” A gentleman who looks like an officer (I see a badge at the belt area) in plain clothes enters and sits in one of the plastic chairs.

Allan Parachini and Linda Deutsch chat. Spector’s bodyguard puts on his hat and steps out of the courtroom. The attorney from the morning session returns. At 1:40 pm Vincent Tannazzo is found, and the jury is called. The bodyguard steps back into the courtroom. I watch as Spector slowly sits back in his chair after the jury is seated, he is careful to flip back the long coattails of his Edwardian jacket before he hits the chair.

I watch a juror in the back row take a few notes.

DW: I did ask you if you could supply us with copies of the cards, so I could take copies.

Detective Tomlin enters and sits beside Allan Parachini in the front row. Two young people come in and sit in the back row.

DW: What you present today, is the exact words? You have noting written down? [...] How did you hear about Lana Clarkson’s death?

VT: There was a lot of news.

DW: When you first heard about the case, did you think you had any information for the prosecution? [...] In late 2006, 2007, did you think that you maybe [could] be a part of this trial?

Weinberg is trying to imply that Tannazzo was looking for the publicity.

VT: NO! I petitioned the court not to be shown on TV.

Weinberg now goes back over the first incident, and tries to twist Tannazzo's testimony of the first event. He’s going over every detail and asking questions.

DW: Did you take the gun?

VT: No.

DW: Was it loaded?

VT: I don’t know. [...] First. I did not witness him pull a gun.

DW: You see the man in an angry fight and [...] you don’t tell anybody abut it?

VT: Counselor! I’m there as security; not a police officer.

Tannazzo goes into more details, trying to explain why he handled the situation like he did.

DW: Did you know it was illegal for people in NY to [carry a concealed weapon]? [...] You let this man walk out without ever finding out if he had a permit?

Tannazzo, in an exasperated tone, explains that his job was to handle the situation and get Spector out of the party and that’s what he did. He ensured there was no further incident.

Truc Do steps up to redirect her witness.

The papers Tannazzo handed the attorneys at the break are returned to him.

TD: Mr. Weinberg suggested you were here because you wanted the publicity....

VT: I made a request of the court that I not be televised.

TD: When you called in, in your mind did you have [...] Did you as a [former] police officer feel it was your civic responsibility to cooperate in a legal matter.

VT: Yes.

TD: When the person said they couldn’t talk to you, did they give you an explanation?

VT: I don’t know, know the laws in California.

TD: But someone did contact you?

VT: Yes.

TD: Did the way you handle things with her [Joan Rivers; was it always] with discretion.

VT: Yes.

Tannazzo explains how things operated with working for Joan Rivers. He admits he didn’t file a police report. He handled the situation and it was over with. He goes over his history of the private investigator companies he operated. In the first company, he was waiting for a private investigator's license and worked under another PI license. In 1994 the company went from being “Elete” to Brother’s Protection. The business was closed when his older brother passed away.

I take a moment to write down what Truc is wearing. A dark brown, perfectly tailored suit.

The details of the state of New York’s private investigator licenses are reviewed. The state of New York did not maintain records prior to 1994.


Judge to Weinberg: She’s repeating a question that you asked.

Weinberg: No she’s not!

A bench conference is called, and I can see Truc talking to the Judge. Do is doing the best she can to rehabilitate Tannazzo. Fidler appears to be explaining a point to Do. I can’t hear what they are saying but I can tell the dialog is going back and forth between them.

Weinberg speaks to Fidler and Ms. Do shakes her head. While the gallery waits, I develop a cough in my throat. Rod Lindbloom and Donna turn around and ask if I’m all right and if I have water. It’s 2:08 pm and the bench conference continues. Susan and Spector whisper. Now AJ gets into the discussion at the bench. Do whispers to AJ. Fidler addresses AJ and shakes his head slightly. Some jurors watch the bench and others look bored. A juror in the front row nervously moves their pen back and forth. I start to yawn. At 2:13 it’s finally over, and I believe it’s the Judge who states, “We’re going to move away from those questions.”

I have the next statement as a question, but unfortunately, it doesn’t have who asked it beside it. “The question as to whether or not you had a license to carry a weapon.”

Up on the ELMO are photos of the documents Tannazzo had in his wallet that he showed the attorneys at the break. Up on the screen I see two documents that appear to be expired licenses for a private investigator in the name of Vincent Tannazzo.

I think this question was asked by Truc: Nassau County issued a license. As a retired police officer, you were permitted to carry a weapon?

The document on the screen says Non-qualifying Officer/Principal for Brothers Protection Group. It expires April 11, 2004. The other license expires April 11, 2006. Through more redirect, she gets Tannazzo to testify that he was drafted in the Army.

VT: Because I was a veteran, I could buy back my military time. [...] I was put out on a medical disability. I was hut by a drunk driver.

Truc then goes over the prior statement, line 17, page 4. “It was 94 or 96. I’m not sure of that date. [...]You told Detective Tomlin that this was in the 90’s?”

Weinberg objects on the reading of something back. I believe this is overruled. Truc then goes over his prior transcript from the first trial. He’s questioned about the years he testified to on the stand in the first trial. ‘93, 94...

VT: ‘93, ‘94, the year doesn’t stick out. [...] I have absolutely no doubt that’s what he said.

TD: And in the car?

VT: I have no doubt.

TD: And the second party?

VT: I have absolutely no doubt.

TD: Why could you tell the jury why you remember.

VT: It wasn’t just the average person saying it. It was Phil Spector saying it.

Truc is done with redirect and Weinberg gets back up to recross.

DW: Did Detective Tomlin offer any information to you? [...] He didn’t offer any information.

VT: That’s correct.

DW: Couple of months later, you were interviewed by the prosecution, correct?

VT: I probably was.

DW: Then you get on the stand.... (and I can’t write any more. He’s going over the same points again and again.)

VT: I wish I could tell you exactly concrete. [...] I’m trying to tell you. [...] The words he said to me stuck in my head, not the year.

Weinberg keeps coming back to the same point. Now he moves onto the license again. Tannazzo tries to explain how it works. That he didn’t have to take a test as long as he had law enforcement background. Weinberg shakes his head. Tannazzo says that in the state of New York, they don’t even need a license to be a bodyguard. Tannazzo is now basically arguing with Weinberg about the license and Weinberg won’t get off this point. Tannazzo is now getting visibly upset.

DW: That’s your idea of a license!!!!

OBJECTION! Sustained! And that’s it for Vincent Tannazzo. Judge Fidler tells him he’s subject to recall. He’s out of the witness box and hopefully on his way back to New York.

It’s 2:37 pm and the people are about to call Dorothy Melvin and they take a brief recess.

During the break, AJ greets Louis Spector and tells him it’s nice to see him. Linda Deutsch, Harriet Ryan and Ciaran McEvoy all chat. I decide to stand and stretch so I can face away from Spector in the well. I try to listen in on what the accredited press is talking about.

A woman comes in and sits in Linda Deutsch’s special seat while she’s talking to Harriet Ryan. When she comes back to her row, she asks the woman to scoot over. Another woman comes into the gallery and the bailiff comes over to speak to her. She’s sitting in the third row, right behind me. Linda Deutsch now chats with Louis and Frieda.

The woman behind me and Jon Scott speak. Come to find out, Jon Scott knows who her husband was and they know people in common. She’s a long time friend of Dorothy Melvin and came to court today to support her. Two more general public looking people enter the courtroom and sit in the back row.

Spector is back in the courtroom now, talking to Weinberg. The attorneys come back in. AJ talks to Rod Lindbloom. It’s 2:50 and we’re still on break. A moment later Wendy is calling the jury.

Truc presents Dorothy Melvin’s testimony. Detective Tomlin enters the courtroom. AJ leaves the courtroom for a moment. He steps out to speak to a DA clerk.

TD: People call Dorothy Melvin to the stand.

Doroth’s hair is very short and curly. She looks good. She looks very different than the last time she testified.

She states she worked for Joan Rivers. She knew Vincent Tannazzo as “Vinnie.” She was with Joan 22, 24 years. She states she’s, “....not sure of the dates.” She identifies Spector for the record and tells the court what he is wearing.

She describes how she first met Spector. “We had a mutual friend who was staying at my house. She invited me to an event where Spector was. [...] There were about 20 people at the table.”

She was at the event first and when he came in he circled the table to sit down next to her. They exchanged small talk. She was only there for about 20 minutes. She heard from him the next day. She got at first what she thought was a crank call from kids playing around. She then got a call from Pauline Brandt, who was calling for Phil Spector who wanted to see her “... at the Ritz.” Her friend, Jan Walker said, “He likes you.” Her friend said, “...He’s called me over and over again, wanting to see you.”

Spector sent a limo for her to pick her up. Melvin testifies, “He told me a lot of things that made me uneasy. He did things that made him go from menacing to charming.”

Melvin testifies about something later she read in a book about a coffin in the basement.

Objection! Sustained!

Melvin states, “It was the most bizarre evening I ever had and I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again.”

The phone calls started as soon as she left.

TD: Did you have a dating relationship of some sort?

DM: Yes.

TD: Did that relationship at some point end?

DM: 1993.

At that time, she lived in New York and Spector was living at the Waldorf Towers in NY. She saw him several times a year. She’s asked about how often they dated and she says, “It’s still hard to answer. I was on the road often.”

TD: At some time, did you come visit him there [in Pasadena] on July 3rd, 1993?

DM: I had a home, family out here. I lived bicoastally then, and I was visiting my family. [...] I told Spector I was coming out and he said please come visit me.

She first went to her parents to say hello and pick up her car. She talks about the things they did at his house. He showed her his memorabilia. They shot some pool; Spector played the piano. They looked at photos. Melvin has a difficult time identifying the overhead photo of the house in Pasadena. She knows there was more than one story to the house. She never saw the third story.

During the evening, she did not drink but Spector was drinking a bottle of Vodka when he was at the piano. She demonstrates how big the bottle was, and makes a guess that it was about 10-12 inches tall. She didn’t pay much attention to how much was in the bottle, but does agree that it was somewhat full.

TD: At some point you saw that Spector drank a lot out of the bottle and there was about three or four inches left, correct?

DM: Yes.

Melvin states he became increasingly more loquacious; laughing, smiling, and a lot of quotes.

TD: He was charming?

DM: Very charming.

TD: At some point during the evening did you fall asleep?

DM: I had flown in from New York and waiting for him I fell asleep.

At some point Spector had disappeared. She fell asleep for several hours.

DM: I went looking for him. [...] I found him outside and he was pointing a gun at my car.

Melvin describes the gun that he was holding at her car: “...a snub nosed revolver.”

DM: I said, what the expletive are you doing!!!!

TD: So you said, “What the f**k are you doing?

DM: Yes. [...] I think I was advancing and screaming at him. [...] He turned and said to get back in the house.

TD: did he use profanity.

DM: I don’t recall.

Melvin states she approached him and she was jumping around screaming. She then testifies that Spector backhanded her with his right hand and told her to get back in the house. He had the gun in his right hand. She had never had him point a gun at her before.

TD: You were familiar that Mr. Spector had guns on him before.

DM: Yes.

TD: Were you afraid?

DM: No.

TD: When he backhanded you....

DM: That’s when I became frightened.

Looking over at the defense table, I see Spector is writing on a note pad.

Melvin states then he was in the house. He had her purse and was going through er purse. He was telling me to get my clothes off and get up to the third floor.

TD: What was on the third floor?

DM: I never saw the third floor.

Melvin states that the gun was occasionally pointed at her then at the floor. She testifies that, “He said I was looking for things to steal and sell.”

TD: What type of jacket were you wearing?

DM: A fuscia jacket. [...] He found a lipstick in my purse and wanted t know what it was.

TD: Did that make sense to you?

DM: No.

She testifies that she was stuck by Spector twice that night. Once in the motor court and once in the house by the stairs. The second time he struck her on the temple area. It was after the second hit that she was able to get her keys and get to her car. She drove down the driveway intending to get out of there, but the gate was closed at the end of the property.

TD: As you sat there, waiting....

DM: I heard footsteps down the dirve and I heard the pump of a shotgun. It was a pump action shotgun.

(Although it’s not in my notes, I believe it’s at this time that AJ steps up and demonstrates the pumping of a shotgun that was retrieved from Spector’s home. Melvin is not sure that this is the shotgun but she said recognizes the sound of the pumping action.)

TD: How were you feeling at the time?

DM: He was screaming get the f**k out of here! I was yelling back, the gate won’t open.

He approached her as he was holding the shotgun. And then he stopped and she pantomimes how he just stopped and like a light switch, his demeanor, behavior, and tone of voice changed and he said, “The gate won’t open?” As if he was puzzled.

TD: He asked you in the quizzical way? Does that happen often with him?

DM: Yes.

As soon as Melvin was outside the gate she called 911 on her car phone. (This was the era before cell phones; she had a car phone.) She testifies that she assumes anyone who points a gun, that it’s loaded. She assumed the shot gun was loaded and it made her feel terrified.

The 911 operator put her through to the Pasadena police. She told the 911 operator that there were weapons involved. They met her on a side street. Two officers responded.

DM: I told them what had transpired. I told them what had happened. She had too welts and she didn’t need medical attention. She didn’t show the police the welts when they first arrived. She says she did go to the police station and it was there that she probably went into more details.

She told the officers that she wanted her handbag back. She had her passport, Joan River’s passport and several thousand dollars in cash. She didn’t want to press charges because of who her boss was. She wanted to avoid publicity. Being Joan River’s manager, she sought publicity for Rivers, but she did not want anything about herself in the press.

The officers went up to Spector’s house and they came back without her purse. According to the officers, Spector told them she took it with her and that they had seen John Lennon’s guitar. She testifies that at that time, she said to the officers, “Does this look like a lover’s spat?” She parts her hair to show them the welts and she wanted to press charges.

She follows them back to Spector’s home.

I check the clock. It’s 3:33 pm. She believes the officers went into the kitchen door. She could hear what Spector said to address the police officers. She heard Spector say, “Is Miss Melvin outside? Why is she outside? Tell her to come on in!”

DM: He was being charming.

Then Spector turns accusatory and says that the police were trespassing. So the police come back out and they call the Sargent. The police at one point handcuff Spector and Spector is saying, “Don’t you remember Dorothy, you took it with you. You took it with you.”

An officer was given permission to look through the house and he found her purse. When she got back home, there were menacing messages on her answering machine. Afterwards, she was never alone with him again. All these years, Melvin kept the original tapes of the phone messages he left on her machine. She found them just before she testified at the first trial and turned them over to the prosecution. She says she never told anyone about the event.

Melvin then details the circumstances of how she is here now. Detectives Tomlin and Fotier showed up on her doorstep.

Melvin is not sure of the date, and both sides stipulate when she was first contacted about the incident. February 19th, 2003. She states that she was contacted by the National Enquirer and her attorney had to send them a cease and desist letter. When the detectives showed up, she cooperated. She never knew any of the other women.

Later, she saw Spector in social events and functions. He invited her and she would attend. She then rolls her eyes.

TD: Why did you do that.

DM: It never made sense [seeing him afterwards].

Melvin states that after Joan River’s husband died, she started having parties. The photo up on the ELMO of her and Spector is from one of those parties.

TD: Do you recall a time where you had to ask Vincent Tannazzo to escort Phil spector out of the party?

DM: At least once.

Weinberg interrupts, “Your honor, may we approach?

3:45 Bench conference. Looking over at the defense table, Spector’s right hand is up by his mouth and it’s shaking. Jennifer passes a post-it note to Susan. Spector’s right hand continues to shake. His right elbow is resting on the edge of his special chair. Fidler asks the jurors to step into the jury room. All the counsel stand and the jury files out. Dorothy Melvin is asked to step outside. Looking around the gallery, I see that Spector’s fan is here. I see the attorney speak to Melvin’s friend and this is when I deduce that the guy must be Melvin’s attorney.

AJ: This is the same issue as last time.

AJ details how it was raised last year.

DW: No where in discovery is there anything in discovery about this Vincent Tannazzo incident. They knew it! Weinberg goes over an aspect of her statement.

The first trial transcript is read back by either Weinberg or AJ. Page 1441.

I believe it’s AJ who says, “the defense was put on notice over a year and a half ago that Dorothy Melvin had this information. [...] Dorothy Melvin was the one that escorts Spector out of the Christmas Party. This was in April of 2007, that we brought it up to counsel [first trial defense]. AJ goes on to explain more of the details.

DW: We never had anything.

The trial transcript is read back. None if it is familiar and I’m thinking that what they are reading is a sidebar from the first trial.

DW: Mr. Dxon says, “No, it was a conversation that she had with me.

Now they have moved onto page 1444 of the first trial.

Weinberg continues to read from the transcript. “Mr. Jackson was not in the room. [...] Because from, I know from the Joan Rivers party what had happened. [...] That doesn’t make any sense. If Dixon took her statement, we’ve not received it. [...] For her to now come in to corroborate Tannazzo.

Judge Fidler then asks the prosecution, “Perhaps Mr. Dixon can come her tomorrow.” The people offer that Weinberg can question Ms. Melvin privately before court tomorrow.

DW: It would be better to examine her, outside the presence of the jury.

It’s 4:00 pm, and Fidler tells Wendy to bring out the jury but before he does, they bring Melvin in so they can order her back, first. Melvin’s attorney exits the courtroom. AJ & Rod Lindblom exchange whispers. The jury is instructed to be back at 9:45 am tomorrow and that Wednesday they will only be here in the afternoon.

The jury files out and I see that Alternate #1 has a special orthopedic shoe on his foot. The last order of business for the day is Weinberg asking the judge to admonish Ms. Do . “Every statement is a leading statement your honor.”

Fidler says to Ms. Do, “Consider yourself admonished.”

And that’s if for the first day of testimony.


Anonymous said...

Once again, enormous thanks for your thorough reporting, it's much appreciated. I'm going to be traveling this month, and since the trial is no longer being covered by local television or Court TV, I'll be relying on your accounts to augment the rather skimpy press coverage (although the British papers seem to be staying on top of the story, and probably the LA Times as well). Write On! (and get that much-needed rest).

Anonymous said...

Many thanks from me as well - 1st place to check for any news from the PS trial

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the update. You do a tremendous job keeping us informed!

Anonymous said...

It sounds like the defense's strategy is just to wear the poor jury down. Maybe this can backfire by making the jury dislike them so ultimately it will hurt the defense's plan to muddy the waters.

Thanks Sprocket for your excellent reporting not only of the testimony but of details which all of us find interesting.

kindee said...

Thanks a million Sprocket! Without your reports I would be completely in the dark about the Spector shenanigans. Rock on buddy!

Anonymous said...

What's happening with the Spector Trial? No news for two weeks . . .