Thursday, January 15, 2009

Phil Spector Retrial: Day Twenty-seven

January 14th, 2009. (unedited, draft entry)

Prosecution Witnesses:
#31 Dr. Lynne Herold (LA Co. Sheriff's Office senior criminalist, blood spatter analyst and crime scene re constructionist; under first cross examination)
Accredited Press inside the courtroom: Harriet Ryan from the Los Angeles Times

The highlight of cross examination occurred today when Dr. Herold was asked what happened during her first meeting with Mr. Weinberg. Dr. Herold replied, "I ended up with two attorneys yelling at each other [and nothing was accomplished]." The entire courtroom erupted in laughter.

When Weinberg arranged his interview with Dr. Herold, she notified the prosecution. Mr. Jackson and Truc Do showed up for the meeting. Mr. Weinberg insisted that the prosecutors did not have the right to be there during the interview. From my understanding, the prosecution felt they did. During the shouting match, someone indicated that Dr. Herold had the right to have an attorney present, so she called the legal representative for the sheriff's office. That attorney told her she had the absolute right to have anyone she wanted at the meeting. At this point, Judge Fidler said to Dr. Herold, "I want to thank you for keeping me out of it." Dr. Herold said, "It reminded me of two school boys."

It was then suggested that the meeting be tape recorded and Mr. Jackson could listen to it later. One party was not happy with that claiming the interview was "work product." Eventually, Mr. Weinberg tape recorded the conversation and Dr. Herold also tape recorded the conversation "as a back up." I could not see Mr. Jackson's face so I have no idea what his expression was during this event.

Dr. Herold testified today that there was no physical evidence that indicated to her "who" pulled the trigger. When Dr. Herold met with Weinberg on September 16th, 2008 she was asked if there was a single piece of evidence that was inconsistent with Lana shooting herself. Dr. Herold testified, "I said no, at that time. Except I was given new testimony since that time about blood spatter on the back of the hands. [...] She was given Jaime Lintemoot's transcript of her testimony on December 30th." Taking that evidence in consideration, the scenario of Ms. Clarkson holding the weapon no longer fits all the evidence. However, the evidence that "she's seen" Weinberg asks, is not inconsistent with Lana shooting herself.

Dr. Herold is an excellent witness. She takes her time to review the evidence in her mind before she answers. Several times on the stand when she didn't reply quickly, she would say, "I'm thinking." Throughout the day, I observed Weinberg asking Dr. Herold general, broad questions and each and every time Dr. Herold would break the question down and either clarify each point or explain why she could not answer that question without more information.

Weinberg in vain tried to get Dr. Herold to tell the jury how many hours she spent working on this case. Each and every time Dr. Herold said they do not have a bookkeeping method in place in the Sheriff's crime lab to document how many hours individuals spend on specific cases. She's a salaried employee and she works on more than one case at a time. She gets paid the same regardless of what case she examines. She did say that there is a procedure to document how many hours are spent testifying. Dr. Herold did agree that a lot of time was spent on this case. She states that when she testified that she looked at literally every inch of clothing, she did. She does not know if there is a procedure in place for detectives.

During the morning break I observed that Spector's supporters chat very loudly and laugh with Rachelle while they are standing in the gallery in front of the inner courtroom doors.

During direct examination, Dr. Herold testified that the two blood smears on either side of a "void area" on Lana's left thumb pad area could have been a transfer stain that appears to match a bloody stain on the left grip and front strap of the gun. Under cross examination, Weinberg tried to get Dr. Herold to agree that Lana's left hand would "had to have" been lifted first, before the gun could have been placed against it. "The gun is not that close to her body to state that," Dr. Herold replied." Weinberg tried to get Dr. Herold to agree that it was possible that there was spatter within that blood smear. Dr. Herold stands her ground stating the entire blood smear was not visible in the photo so she could not make that conclusion.

Weinberg presented an alternate possibility for that blood smear. First, he shows Dr. Herold a blood smear spot on the right side of the gun that also includes the "mottling" previously testified to. Weinberg put on latex gloves and demonstrated how Lana might have been holding the gun towards herself. His left thumb is on the hammer of the gun and his right hand is also surrounding the gun and the right thumb would be on the trigger.

Weinberg also presented a directional blood back spatter stain on the dorsal side of Lana's hand. The spatter is like an exclamation point (!) and it's between the proximal most joint of the left thumb and the metacarpal-distal joint of the pointer finger, (first knuckle). These are my anatomical descriptions, not Dr. Herold's.

Dr. Herold insisted that, the way Mr. Weinberg was holding the weapon, yes, that could account for the back spatter, however, it was inconsistent with the way the weapon was in Lana's mouth when the shot was fired. Back and forth the questions and answers go. Dr. Herold was very insistent that the spatter could not have gotten on that area of the dorsal side of the hand if Lana was holding the weapon in that manner.

After the lunch break, Fawn comes to court and she looks very sharp. Her hair is fixed up in a complicated twist that reminds me just a little of a 40's hairstyle. It's very attractive and several people compliment her on it and how nice she looks.

The other issues that were discussed in the afternoon session were the time it actually takes for clotted blood to be observed with the naked eye. In the first trial, Dr. Herold said "three to five minutes," and that's a general observation because there are so many variables. In this trial, she said "five minutes." Weinberg spent some time on this point, asking her what references she used to state the five minutes. He also brought to her attention a textbook written by Kish (sp), James, (Stewart James, defense expert) and Sutton that states the presence of cerebral spinal fluid can speed up the blood clotting process. Dr. Herold says that the book does not source a reference to a study so she can not look back to the literature.

Weinberg presents saliva as an alternate source for the "mottling" on the gun. Dr. Herold states that would not explain "all" the mottling since there was mottling observed on the metal frame of the gun, not just the barrel.

During the first part of the afternoon session an older couple enters. The rail thin woman is wearing one of those huge three or four inch "TEAM SPECTOR" buttons on her winter coat and wearing sunglasses . I could tell by the expression on Judge Fidler's face that he was not happy about this. The bailiff's ordered her to remove the button and her sunglasses. The woman looked quite a bit like Anita Talbert but I could not swear that it was her. She did speak extensively to Spector during the afternoon break.

There was more testimony about various blood stains on the gun and whether or not a specific round spot was blood spatter on the metal frame as well as an area of the leather handle of the gun. At 3:30 pm, Juror #9 holds up their hand and reminds the court that he has a doctor's appointment and Wendy apologizes for the oversight. Court ends for the day and will resume tomorrow at 9:30 am.


Anonymous said...

Who is Anita Talbert. "Team Spector" buttons. As if all this is a game. So gross.

Anakerie said...

Thank you so much for the details on Dr. Herold's testimony. I think she was one of my favorite witnesses in round 1... She knows her business for sure! "It is what it is"...

katfish said...

Frankly, if I were a juror and saw someone in the courtroom with a "teamspector" button on their lapel it would not ingratiate me to their "cause", rather it would offend me that they reduce this serious matter to "sport". Did the jury see this?

Anonymous said...

I really miss Dr. Herold's testimony. She is a hoot and knows her stuff. Doesn't sound like Weinberg is making much headway.
Thanks again Sprocket. Bill

Anonymous said...

I think the world gained a very useful phrase from Dr Herold's words - there would be few who could use it with honesty and validity - she is part of a very select group. Her testimony was and is faultless and backed by valid science.

many thanks again for the reports

Anonymous said...

Spector's going down. Then what is that wife of his going to do?

Does he still live in that weird castle?

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is quite a story! can't
believe even the LA Times has pretty
much ignored this. I enjoy the
trial updates- keep up the good work.

So when does the defense start? Like
many people here I can't wait to
finally see this come to a

Anonymous said...

Hello Sprockey :O)
You are doing an amazing job of bringing this trial to life for all of us. Just wanted to say, "hey!!"
~~little bear

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your awesome coverage!Wondering if Rachelle Spector will shoot herself in the mouth, the way Spector says Lana did, the night before the verdict comes in.
I can't imagine him allowing her to spend all of his money while he is in the slammer for murder!