Monday, February 2, 2009

Phil Spector Retrial: Day Thirty-six

February 2nd, 2009
(This is an unedited, draft entry)

Defense Witnesses: #3 Nicole Spector (birth daughter of Philip Spector; testimony complete)

#1 Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran (LA County Chief Medical Examiner & Coroner; currently under direct examination)

Accredited Press inside the courtroom: Harriet Ryan from the Los Angeles Times in the morning session until the first break.

9:21 am: I get inside the courtroom and I'm the only person in the gallery. When it's a half day like today was scheduled to be, many of the regular gallery people don't come to court. Cindy is setting up her court reporter equipment. Susan and Mr. Smith are at the defense table. Wendy and Cindy chat.

9:23 am: Weinberg enters 106. It's clear he was here earlier and has come back in. Dr. Lakshmanan is back up for the continuation of his direct. He was in the hallway when I came in.

9:24 am: Rachelle and Spector enter 106. Their bodyguard stops and stays in the ante chamber area where he can keep his hat on. Whenever he enters 106 he has to remove it. I have to say that this bodyguard is always very sharply dressed to the nines. The defense team sets up their books and computers.

The bodyguard comes in to get Weinberg's attention. Weinberg nods to him and continues to go through one of his big black binders for a moment more and then steps out into the hallway.

The bailiffs and Mr. Smith chat at the bailiff's desk. Weinberg reenters 106 with Nicole Spector. I could swear that Nicole and Rachelle barely acknowledge each other. Rachelle is sitting in the first bench row on the left, intently looking at her blackberry, possibly texting. If they did acknowledge each other, it was quite brief. Nicole doesn't sit beside Rachelle; she sits in the bench row behind her and stares on over at me. Rachelle appears to continue to text on her blackberry. Either that or she's surfing the net.

Nicole is an attractive young woman with short, jet black hair parted on her left side with bangs. She is wearing a very nice looking black skirt and jacket suit combination and black arch strap heels. The material looks like it is lightweight and slightly sheer.

9:31 am: Truc enters and sets up the computers. She's wearing her light gray suit with the little shoulder passants and a frilly blouse underneath. AJ enters a moment or two later with the cart carrying their case files. I'm the only one in the gallery at this point and when AJ reaches the prosecution table he says good morning to me. I smile back.

9:32 am: The Clarkson family enter with their attorney, John Taylor. A moment later Pat Kelly from the PIO office enters and sits in the back row.

There is a bit of confusion in the well. Weinberg asks where his water bottle was when he goes up to the podium. AJ thought it was left over from the week before and had put it in the trash, but it was Weinberg's. AJ apologizes profusely and those in the well have a bit of laughter over this mistake and assure Weinberg that the trash can the water bottle was placed in, had a new sterile trash bag.

Nicole Spector takes a notepad out and starts writing on it. She looks on over at me stares and then writes for a bit on her pad.

9:37 am: Harriet Ryan enters 106 and sets up in her usual seat.

9:38 am: Dr. Lakshmanan enters 106 and stands in the ante chamber for a moment then exits.

9:39 am: The DA's clerk enters and sits in the back row.

Nicole Spector turns around to look at (I think) Harriet Ryan and Pat Kelly who are chatting.

9:40 am: The jury enters the courtroom. While the jury enters, I see Spector wipe his mouth with a kerchief. The bodyguard reenters and sits in the back row against the wall.

A few other public people enter 106.

9:42 am: We wait for Dr. Lakshmanan and the judge. Once Fidler takes the bench, Weinberg would like to call a witness out of order. He calls Nicole Spector.

As Nicole takes the stand she smiles at the jury. Nicole states that she lives in Brooklyn, New York. I did not write fast enough to get what she said she did for a living. All I got was "Subsidiary writers assistant (I think she said for a publishing company) and a free lance writer." (That might explain the notepad in court when she was looking at me and taking notes. Maybe she's going to write her own story on her father's trial.)

Nicole states she is 26 years old. She was born on October 17th, 1982. She is asked if she ever lived with her father and she replies, "Yes. From birth to eight-and-a-half years. [...] After that, she continued to be in contact with him and live with him, since."

DW: How old is he?

NS: He was born in 1939 so I guess he's 69.

Weinberg references Dorothy Melvin's testimony.

Nicole testifies that her father is right handed.

DW: Did you have a twin brother?

Nicole states that she did.

DW: Is he deceased?

NS: Yes.

DW: When did he die?

NS: 1991.

TD: Objecton! Relevance. Counsel approaches the bench.

There is a sidebar and then AJ and Truc speak privately. Truc still has a bit of a cough.

9:46 am: Weinberg shows some documents to Truc that she reviews. I'm wondering if this is a way to get in Spector's state of mind about his dead child.

AJ and Truc go over a binder and then we are back to direct examination of Nicole.

Nicole states that her twin brother died of an illness. Weinberg asks her when she learned about him being ill. "I was about six or seven," she testifies.

DW: Do you know a woman named Dorothy Melvin.

NS: Yes I do. [...] I met her when (she was dating my father).

DW: How old were you?

NS: Eleven.

Nicole testifies that she met her after October, 1993, when she would have been 11 years old.

DW: Did you take any trips with her?

NS: Yes I did. [...] We went to Toronto, Canada for about a week. I think my father was accepting an award there.

DW: Can you tell me how long they spent together?

Nicole states that it was some time after she was eleven. I believe she states three years. She states that a time came Ms. Melvin contacted her.

DW: Did Dorothy Melvin continue to have contact with you?

NS: Yes. I moved to New York when I was seventeen (to attend college).

DW: She wanted to have a relationship with you?

NS: She wanted to have a relationship with me and to continue to have contact with my father...

Nicole states that she was 17 or 18 years old. It was her first year at college so the year would be 2000. The contacts with Dorothy Melvin occurred in 1999, 2000 and 2001. They gradually tapered off.

Ms. Do gets up to cross Nicole.

TD: You moved out of your father's home?

Nicole states that although she moved out she continued to stay with her father.

TD: Where were you living?

NS: In Pasadena, with my mother.

Nicole states there was only one trip that she took with Dorothy Melvin and her father. She believes that she was 11 years old at the time.

TD: You believe you went to Toronto Canada. What month?

Nicole can not remember the exact month.

NS: I know it was very cold. I was in the 7th grade. My mom would know.

Harvey with the white hair enters and sits with Rachelle.

TD: Now you're living in New York [...] You indicated at that time you were 17, [...] and the fall of that year your turned 18?

Truc asks her about testifying in the last trial.

TD: And you kept up with the trial?

NS: At arms length.

That's interesting. When Nicole was here testifying in the first trial, she was interviewed on Court TV and spoke to the press very lovingly about her father. I'm not positive, but I believe at that time she stated something to the effect of believing in her father's innocence. Apparently, Nicole and her dead twin brother were fortunate to grow up in a two parent household for their first eight years or so. She escaped the estranged fate of her adopted siblings. I do know that one of her adopted brother's stated that Nicole has said she doesn't believe the sexual abuse of her siblings occurred.

There are a few more questions by Truc Do but I am not fast enough to catch them all.

Weinberg gets up to redirect.

DW: Do you know what testimony Dorothy Melvin gave at the last trial? [...] You weren't asked any questions about her (at that trial)?

NS: No, but I would have been thrilled to have been.

I have to say, it was very interesting the tone of voice Nicole had when she answered that last question and I wish I could describe it better. But I will tell you the immediate impression that came to my mind. To me, it was almost ominous sounding. Strange.

That's all the notes I have on this witness. When Nicole leaves the witness stand she greets Harvey sitting next to Rachelle and sits in the second bench row. The bailiff got up from his seat in the back row and motioned her that she had to leave the courtroom.

9:58 am: After a short confusion that Dr. Lakshmanan can't be found, he shows up at 106 and takes the stand.

I'm quite tired tonight and I hope that at some time, I will be able to add more detail to this entry, but don't count on it for now. Here is a brief recap.

There was just as much testimony of Dr. Lakshmanan outside the presence of the jury as in front of them and they were released early today. The testimony outside the jury's presence continued into the afternoon. In the afternoon session, Fidler made a tentative ruling about suicide statistics being entered into evidence with this witness, with the provision that the jury would be given guidelines that the specific statistics that were revealed, through examination of the witness, could only be used to show bias. He was willing to craft something for the jurors and even suggested that the defense and prosecution could suggest wording.

Once Fidler made that decision, the prosecution changed course. AJ stated that since Weinberg let the proverbial "cat out of the bag" (he was instructed by Fidler moments before not to ask questions in this vein in front of the jury but he did anyway) with one question Weinberg posted to Dr. Lakshmanan:

(As a coroner, isn't it your experience that intra oral gun shot wounds are almost always suicide?)

With th ruling, the prosecution now withdrawals their objection to it (all statistical evidence about suicide being entered into testimony) and deal with it as it unfolds. AJ states that he would rather avoid a ruling with the instruction to the jury that says this goes to bias. The prosecution is formally withdrawing their objection to the use of statistics and numbers.

There was a misunderstanding about whether or not Dr. Herold needed to appear for questioning in the afternoon session. The defense and Judge Fidler thought the prosecution was going to call her. The prosecution did not realize that they were supposed to. A hearing with Dr. Herold will occur at 9:00 am tomorrow to discuss four issues the defense has raised about her testimony.

The jury visit has been delayed until the earliest, the week of February 16th. The prosecution presented to Judge Fidler, photographs of valves surrounding the fountain pump that could be used to control the flow of water. There's no way to verify that the fountain was on in (a particular position). Fidler requested that testing be done on the fountain. I believe that before that will happen, Weinberg states something to the effect of, "I can tell you this won't be the last .... [...] Let me find out what I can and get back to you."

Court resumes at 9:00 am tomorrow for a hearing with Dr. Herold outside the presence of the jury. The jurors are to report back at 9:30 am.

Update: February 3rd, 2009.
I thought it would be important to go into a little detail concerning the issues the defense raised concerning Dr. Herold's testimony. This was first raised by Weinberg, in response to the people raising a discovery violation with Stuart James's power point presentation. Weinberg at that time told that court that "if" he was ruled against, then he wanted certain areas of Dr. Herold's testimony stricken from the record. There were four areas that he felt were clear discovery violations. Note that Mr. Weinberg only raised this issue after the prosecution first raised theirs.

Yesterday, a few minutes before the morning session was to end, Weinberg outlined his issues with Dr. Herold's testimony. Truc asked that the issues be outlined so that they do not waste the court's time looking for the specific testimony. I believe Weinberg states something to the effect of, so they can tell their witness so she can change her testimony. Truc denies that there will be a discussion with Dr. Herold. This is simply to avoid wasting the court's time so that during lunch she can review the specific areas of transcript.

1. Dr. Herold's belief there is a fabric impression. He's never seen any report stating that.

2. The mottling on the gun. When did Dr. Herold determine the mottling went beyond the barrel. Where is the report?

3. She had a conversation with Jamie Lintemoot that she had in 2003. When was this disclosed.

4. Apparently, Mr. Jackson did experiments with Dr. Herold without Ms. Do. (Where is that documentation.) Then, I asked her to show me and she said, "I've practiced this with Mr. Jackson.

Truc Do then raises the issue of the meeting of Weinberg, Pex and James that was held in between the time the "prior" testing that Pex did on a jacket, that inspired James to go purchase a jacket made of wool and do some further testing.

I'm not sure if it's AJ or Truc that says, "We don't want to get into the tit for tat..." and then goes onto state that Mr. Weinberg did not raise any objection to these issues when Dr. Herold was on the stand. It wasn't until we raised the issue of the possible defense discovery violation that Mr. Weinberg now brings this up before the court.

Fidler states something to the effect that, "I'm trying to move this trial forward. Normally I'd say to schedule these hearing on Friday, but I have wiretap..."

AJ states that he believes, "there is an issue regarding Mr. Pex. We are letting the court know in advance there will be something we have with Mr. Pex."

We are on notice that there is a hearing. Spector waives his right to appear at the afternoon session where Dr. Lakshmanan will continue to be questioned outside the presence of the jury and the issues of Dr. Herold will be raised.

After the prosecution withdrew their objection to suicide statistics, the issue of Dr. Herold was addressed in part. All four issues are addressed by the prosecution.

The first trial testimony included the words "raised ridge impressions" to describe what Dr. Herold observed on the gun to support her conclusion that the gun was "wiped." In the second trial, Dr. Herold stated that description was not specific to fingerprints.

In regards to mottling beyond the barrel, the prosecution refers the court to Dr. Herold's file notes and her first trial testimony.

Regarding the meeting with Jamie Lintemoot, there is the staff meeting that is documented.

Regarding the demonstration with Ms. Do and the "practicing," AJ refers the court to the animation that was presented as part of closing argument. He also states that in the first trial a demonstration was made with Pat Dixon. He also states that in the first trial and in this trial, he stood on the steps of the witness box and asked Dr. Herold a series of questions as to "where" Mr. Spector was standing, where Ms. Clarkson's hands must have been, etc.

Weinberg argues again that Dr. Herold and AJ practiced; did an experiment. Truc Do states that, "No objection was made about these issues or were raised during trial, until we raided the questions with Mr. James."

Before the court is about to close for the day, it's Wendy who asks if the jury visit. The Sheriff's Dept. and the PIO needs to know.


donchais said...

Poor Dr. Herold! Will this trial ever be over for her?

Anonymous said...

I was highly impressed with Nicole during her interview during the last was either an interview or maybe I recall her testifying on the stand. She seemed like a highly intelligent woman. She most likely reads this blog daily and that may have been the reason she was starring in your direction. You should have introduced yourself!

Anonymous said...

Great reporting, Sprocket, this trial is so interesting. It is indeed hard to believe that it is 6 years since Lana was killed and that the reason for her death is still living in the castle and complaining that he can't take photos for "memorabilia".

Anonymous said...

I dunno. Sounds like a lot of smoke and mirrors to me. I bet most of the jury has already made up their mind.

Anonymous said...

Why should Ms. Nicole Audrey Spector even want to sit within the vicinity of a person
such as Ms. Rachelle Marie Short?

Ms. Nicole Audrey Spector possesses an elegance, engaging intellect, and natural beauty.

What does Ms. Rachelle Marie Short
possess? Elegance? Intellect? Natural Beauty?

Ms. Rachelle Marie Short possesses Mr. Phillip Harvey Spector.

Ms. Nicole Audrey Spector is keenly aware that there is no true fancy betwixt Mr. Harvey Phillip Spector and Ms. Rachelle Marie Short. Ms. Nicole Audrey Spector loves her father, but unfortunately we cannot say the same for the pathetique and possessive Ms. Rachelle Marie Short who dreams of beauty in a bottle and lives in supreme self denial.

Anonymous said...

Defense attorney Weinberg is crying so much he should change the spelling of his name to Whineberg! Crying about testimony already given, then complaining to Fidler with words tantamount to saying, "Well, if you sanction me for being late with my discovery, then I'm going to move to have Herold's testimony stricken." Fidler should stand up to this goofball and hold him to the same rules of discovery that he would apply to the prosecution. Whineberg was purposefully late on discovery with the suicidologist, with James, and now with Pex. Hmmm...maybe he thinks if he can get away with murder, so can Spector.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, as ever Sprocket. I wonder as to why Spector is ever allowed to "waive his right to be present". He is extremely lucky to be out of jail on bail, this is a murder trial and he is the defendant - one would think he should be present for all and any discussions in any way related to the trial and evidence.

Is this a ruling of an individual Judge? or could someone decide to waive their presence any time at all?

Anonymous said...

Dear Liz:

Penal Code Section 977(b)(1) provides that if a defendant is charged with a felony, he must be personally present in court “at the arraignment, at the time of plea, during the preliminary hearing, during those portions of the trial when evidence is taken before the trier of fact, and at the time of the imposition of sentence.”

At all other times, such as when counsel are arguing motions and evidentiary issues outside the presence of the jury, the defendant may be excused from being personally present in court with the permission of the trial court if he signs a written waiver of his presence in the proper form in open court.

Therefore, to answer your question, Spector’s presence being excused for routine motion hearings and other matters taken up with the court when the jury is not present is specifically allowed by the Penal Code and is routine procedure not unique to the People of the State of California vs. Phillip Spector.

Anonymous said...

hey there goes it?

couple things to ask you.
first of all,i was wondering if this trial is open to the public?i would love to see the circus act live.

second...has anyone addressed the diaper in more detail? why does a grown man have diapers in his house[unless.maybe they are DEPENDS adult diapers for spector himself] was there just one diaper ?or did this come from a pack of them?and how come they don`t seem to be going after the fact that this man was cleaning up the scene that much...this should be the basis of his guilt factor.does spector have an explanation for this?

this guy is buying time,and wasting a lot of peoples life. what`s up with that wife?is that really the man of her dreams?hard to believe that`s her vision of a prince charming....i bet she does`nt get a cent in his will. poor thing,she`s under his regime and there`s no getting out..she knows what happens if she tries to leave.

great reporting sprocket.....hope you get one of those fancy book deserve it. i`ll buy it.

Sprocket said...

elvis parsely:

The diaper was an old time "cloth" diaper; Curity brand. It was not a modern day depends.

There was another diaper, same type, found in one of the upstairs rooms with the other guns and ammunition that was found. I have read over the years that supposedly, this very soft fabric is ideal to polish/clean firearms with. I don't know if that is true or not.

In the people's case, witnesses did testify that the blood on the gun was moved/removed i.e. wiped, and that Lana's face was wiped. So yes, the evidence does suggest that there was an "attempt" to clean up the scene.

The trial is open to the public. I'm the general public. There is plenty of room in the courtroom for you to come down and listen to testimony.

As far as the relationship between Spector and Rachelle, I'm not privy to what goes on behind the closed castle doors. You'll just have to leave that up to your imagination.