Thursday, January 8, 2009

Phil Spector Retrial: Day Twenty-four

January 8th, 2009

Prosecution Witnesses:

#29 Dr. Louis Pena (LA Co. Deputy Coroner; performed the autopsy on Ms. Clarkson; testimony completed)

#30 Dr. John Andrews (LA Co. Deputy Coroner and Forensic Neuropathologist; assisted autopsy on Ms. Clarkson's brain and spinal cord; direct testimony complete)

Accredited press inside the courtroom:
Harriet Ryan from the Los Angeles Times in the morning session as well as John Spano, also from The LA Times; a possible unidentified man in the afternoon session.
(Correction: John Spano has not worked for the LA Times for some time, and is now a practicing attorney.)

The "Team Spector" MySpace plea ad, requesting people come down to the courthouse in support of Spector to let the jury know Spector is innocent pulled in a few new faces today. In the morning session, there were three gentlemen that appeared to be in Spector's age range that showed up for the first time. Two were formerly from England (now living in Pasadena). I overheard one of the men indicate he was Ian Whitcomb, and had recorded with Spector in the 60's. (Maybe this song?) In the afternoon, the two Englishmen left and were replaced by two more new faces from Spector's era. Rachelle introduced herself to the men who arrived for the afternoon and I have to say that to me, it did not appear that Spector knew any of these people at all.

The defense went over in selected detail today with Dr. Pena, a medical history form Ms. Clarkson filled out as a new patient where she detailed her prior marijuana and cocaine use. Weinberg insinuated today that because all four grandparents of Ms. Clarkson were alcoholics, a father that was a drug addict and that since alcoholism can be inherited, Ms. Clarkson was also an alcoholic. The only other support the defense offered for this was her femoral blood alcohol level at the time or her death and a few emails, one where she states she "injured herself with tequila" and another email where Ms. Clarkson wrote she was "16 days sober."

Weinberg also tried to imply that the form Ms. Clarkson filled out stated "she" took psychedelic drugs since the age of 7. Under redirect, Truc Do had Dr. Pena read the entire statement on the intake form, which made it clear (to me) she stated her parents were hippies that took psychedelic drugs since she was 7. At one point, Weinberg insinuated that since Ms. Clarkson had some very high highs and very low lows, she was possibly manic depressive. (I promise to have more on Dr. Pena's recross over the weekend.) When Dr. Pena finally got off the stand in the late afternoon, he probably rushed out of courtroom as fast as he could. He had been on the stand five consecutive days straight.

Over the lunch break I learn that because the suicidologist will be testifying for the defense, Judge Fidler, first in an in camera hearing and later in open court, will allow in even more medical history of Ms. Clarkson that was ruled inadmissible in the first trial.

A little after 3:00 pm, AJ presents the next witness, Dr. John Andrews who has an impressive and extensive CV. Dr. John Andrews testified that once Ms. Clarkson's spine was severed she would have been unable to move, take a breath, or voluntarily blink. Dr. Andrews stated that because of the location of the severing of the spine (just above the 1st cervical vertebrae and below the pons), it would have been impossible for Ms. Clarkson's body to exhibit decerebrate posturing.

As Spector was leaving the courtroom, he turned to one of his new fans and said, "Did you hear that guy up there? He's wrong."

Court resumes Monday, January 12th at 9:30 am. The following week, court will be dark for the Federal holiday on January 19th. The jurors had asked for the morning of the 20th off to watch the inauguration. Today, it appears a juror needs that afternoon for a doctor's appointment also. I've also heard that court will only be half day on the 21st, but I'm not positive about that.

During the afternoon session, Sandi Gibbons from the DA's office was kind enough to give me a copy of the prosecution's opposition motion to dismiss Polanski's motion to dismiss. At 178 pages, it's almost an inch thick. If the Spector courtroom is dark the afternoon of January 21st, I hope to get into this hearing.

More to come...


Anonymous said...

Gosh,I just read a biography of Phil Spector and Weinberg could be describing his own severely alcoholic client. His attempt to prove deduce that having alcoholic grandparents makes you an alcoholic is ludicrous...

Has the prosecution in your opinion, showed the extent of Spector's drinking problem?

Anonymous said...

I wonder, does this open up things for the prosecution to go into Phil Spector's alcoholism and drug abuse? Which was obviously a factor in his "losing it".

Also, does that mean Weinberg is going to imply that if you're an alcoholic then you're prone to suicide in a stranger's house? Is he going to have her going to programs and showing out of control behavior? If that were the case a lot of alcoholics I've known personally over my lifetime would have done this at strangers houses a long time ago!

Anonymous said...

Great job as always Sprocket!

It burns me up that victims get smeared so much by the defense in so many trials but the defendant usually does NOT get the same treatment as some evidence is suppressed about them, often.

One habitual bad habit that Spector had was waiving and pointing guns at women when they tried to leave him and/or he was drinking!

CaliGirl9 said...

I wish I knew more about the law.

If Judge Fidler is allowing for more of Lana's medical history to come into this trail v2.0, methinks Harvey's should also be an open book.

I pray this jury smells the crap that is Weinberg and Harvey and also sees through the bullshit.

Sprocket said...

Anon @ 4:12 am:

Unfortunately, the prosecution can only bring in Spector's drinking on the night in question.

Anon @ 10:00 am:

We will have to wait and see what the "suicidologist" says on the stand.


Unfortunately no, that is unless Spector takes the stand. Fidler has ruled that Spector's "character" can not be put on trial. The prior bad acts (1101b witnesses) only came in to prove "identity" and "absence of mistake." IIRC, Fidler didn't fully agree with AJ's "doctrine of corroboration" motion.

katfish said...

I have a few questions about this part of your post-
"Over the lunch break I learn that because the suicidologist will be testifying for the defense, Judge Fidler, first in an in camera hearing and later in open court, will allow in even more medical history of Ms. Clarkson that was ruled inadmissible in the first trial."
1.Is it the prosecution or defense that will be submitting more of Lana"s medical history?
2.Do you know what history was ruled inadmissable in the first trial?
3.Has the prosecution been able or chose to elaborate on the injuries to Lana's wrists that were responsible for her loss of work and possible depression in the year before her death?
IMO, all that alcoholic grandparent stuff and drug use by her parents is smoke and mirrors and hopefully the jury sees it the same.I suppose their ages and personal experiences will come into play here,more than any other area of the one of them had a mother-in-law who rifles through people's drawers when she visits.
Just a thought, I wonder if the juror #10 in trial 1's, mother-in-law noticed a reduction in her invites to friend and families home after that tidbit about her behavior came out?

Kath said...

Interesting that Spector's drinking in his past can't come in but Lana's can. Doesn't seem fair to me.
Also,did Lana say that her parents were hippies and took drugs from the time she was 7??? I surely misread that.

Sprocket said...


The defense will be presenting more of Lana's medical history. I was appalled at what they are going to use as evidence that, because of "this" Lana committed suicide in a strangers home. I know what it is; I'm just not mentioning it out of respect for her family, but it looks like it will come in.

Yes, I know what it was that was ruled inadmissible. It's coming in this trial because the defense has an expert witness to comment on it. Dr. Seiden.

The prosecution contends that Lana was NOT clinically depressed over her injured wrists. The reading of her emails on Wednesday supports their position. They contend she experienced highs and lows over her tough financial situation resulting from her injuries but that did not mean she was diagnostically depressed.


You did not misread that. This is what Lana wrote on a medical intake form. Spector's drinking can only come in as it relates to the night in question. The only other information about his drinking came in via the 1101(b) (prior bad acts PBA's) witnesses. Rommie Davis also testified that Spector was drinking all three nights in a row that they went out to dinner together.

Now, if the defense brings something up about Spector, then they've opened the door for the prosecution. I don't see that happening though. What I do see happening is several witnesses testifying to trash Ms. Clarkson. Same as in the first trial.

Anonymous said...

Defense lawyers can be so ugly in order to win, trashing people and their reputations. To me it's almost like verbal abuse, one reason many rape victims refuse to prosecute their attackers. One wonders why the legal system allows such violation of victims, since they've already been victimized, but I don't really understand the law and how they can set limits between that and the truth.

I only hope there isn't someone in the jury who is prejudiced, irrational and perverse ---and that the prosecution can keep the momentum going and present the case clearly enough to the jury.

I have been to several insurance trials, and seen two kinds of expert witnesses: the really highly paid "experts" who make a business of helping their client win, and then the true experts like the coroner and the criminologist who aren't so well paid and just try to get the truth across. I would hope the jury is able to see that difference in bias as well. After all, why would the coroner or criminologist try to slant the evidence, where on the other hand the suicidologist or other expert called in is chosen for their bias.

Wasn't there something earlier in the trial about finding out how much the expert hired by Weinberg was paid? These experts like the Badens from the last trial are rolling in money from all the expertise....