Originally aired Dateline NBC Sept. 12.
There was once a magic moment in America.
When the music was new, and Supermen rose to undreamt fame and power.
And no one, not a soul, was blessed -- or cursed -- with knowing the future.
(Music: The Ronettes)
"The night we met I knew I needed you so... Be my -- be my baby..."
Alan Jackson (prosecutor): The evidence is going to paint a picture of a man who on February 3, 2003, put a loaded pistol in Lana Clarkson's mouth. Inside her mouth -- and shot her to death.
Bruce Cutler (defense attorney): Phillip did not shoot this woman. He did not force a gun in this woman's mouth. And he didn't do it.
It's slightly surreal, this murder trial of the silent little man, 67 years old. The blank stare. The quaking fingers.
And the wild reputation.
Diane tape: It was like he was demonic. It was scary ... scared the hell out of me.
Dorothy tape: I was sobbing and I said, "Why are you doing this, Phil? Why are you doing this?"
Melissa tape: "If you try to leave, I'm going to kill you…"
Stephanie tape: He had his gun with him and said that I wasn't going anywhere.
Hardly the sort of "This is Your Life" that Phil Spector must have dreamed about back in 50s, when he was a high school dweeb -- with a little band whose hopelessly innocent name was: the Teddy Bears.
A teenage Carol Connors was picked by a 18-year-old Phil Spector to sing that famous song "To Know Him is to Love Him."
Carol Connors: He knew that he was brilliant, even then. I mean and I think when you have your first thing out of the box and it's a number one record, boom-- and all of a sudden you are smarter than everyone. And you become invincible.
Invincible. Legendary. Huge.
His creations were so exciting back then. They changed everything.
Mick Brown: He loved Beethoven, he loved Tchaikovsky, he loved Sibelius.
Mick Brown has written about Phil Spector.
Mick Brown: He wanted to make rock and roll records that were as big as classical music.
It was called the wall of sound.
Mick Brown: Nine million radio plays. And as Spector himself told me with a great delight, "That's even more than Paul McCartney's "Yesterday." He took great delight in that.
But it wasn't easy getting there.
Mick Brown: A very unhappy life in many ways. His father was the-- was, you know, the figure on the top of the mountain. Had a very, very good relationship with his father.
Idolized the man, did that little boy. And so the event that came next was, perhaps, the ultimate definition of the young Phil Spector.
Mick Brown: Ben Spector killed himself.
Carbon monoxide. In his car.
Mick Brown: Which of course, must have been devastating to the young Phillip, nine-year-old Phillip as he was then.
In 1953, four years later, the surviving Spectors -- overbearing mother Bertha, Phil and his sister -- left the Bronx for Los Angeles.
Mick Brown: He's the small child. He's the unprepossessing child. Short in stature, whiny voice, watery eyes-- borderline diabetic, asthmatic. He's out of water here.
And that's how Phil Spector became the high school outcast.
Rommie Davis remembers him. Though at the time, as one of the in-girls, she deliberately ignored awkward Phil.
Rommie Davis: But there was something just a little offbeat about him, and he somehow didn't move in the mainstream of what you might call the cool kids.
Keith Morrison: He wasn't in the in crowd.
Rommie Davis: He wasn't with the in crowd.
Until, suddenly, 1958, that song.
"To know, know, know him…"
That's Phil on the right playing guitar.
The yearning little anthem of female teen-hood.
No matter that he wrote the song about his dead father-- now all of America wanted to know Phil Spector.
Rommie Davis: Because once the songs became popular and the kids liked what he was playing, then they wanted to have him around.
Mick Brown: I think at that point, he discovers that while he's somebody who doesn't fit in outside. Who doesn't have control of things outside. This is the area, the world where he finds he is in control.
There was never control in life. Married four times. Five kids -- three estranged now. One died very young. And he admitted to Mick Brown in an interview that his life had been horribly unhappy.
Mick Brown: And talking very honestly about the fact that his parents were first cousins, he said … and almost without any prompting from me. It was-- "I've not been well. I've been crippled inside."
Manic-depression which he'd only addressed late in life, not back when he was the hit-maker in the '60s and '70s ruling the music world -- letting his dark side run wild.
Carol Connors: Well, I had always heard about the guns. They were sort of legendary in the industry. You know-- I mean-- there was no way to continue to be in the industry and not know the antics of Phil Spector.
The stories? They start in the early '70s. He's said to have fired a gun in the studio while recording with John Lennon. In the studio with Leonard Cohen, he held a gun to Cohen's head. He held the Mama's and the Papa's Michelle Phillips at gun point.
Phil Spector was the inspiration for that character in 70s camp classic "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" holding the weapon in the woman's mouth, the fictional portrayal of a famous music producer with a penchant for guns.
But what was on the screen wasn't a movie anymore. Now the giant at the revolution of music had become the shrunken center of the very strange case of the People vs. Phil Spector.
February 3, 2003. Pre-dawn. A 911 operator was first to hear the news.
"My name is Adriano. I'm Phil Spector's driver. I think my boss killed somebody … because he has a lady on the floor and a gun in his hand."
The lady on the floor, really partially slumped in a chair, was Lana Clarkson.
She was 40 years old. She too had a back story full of its own pathos and joy.
Question: What'd she want to do? What'd she want to be?
Female voice: She wanted to be a famous actress.
Question: Did you think she would be?
Female voice: Absolutely. She had charisma. She was beautiful. She had talent. And she had drive.
She grew up in northern California, tall and pretty and hungry for fame. She was 17 when she took on Hollywood, auditioning with her friend Pam Krause to be an extra.
Lana was nearly 6-feet-tall, a knockout. She was statuesque, blonde, gorgeous.
Which is why she was plucked from the crowd of extras for her first line of dialogue.
A single word actually, one syllable.
(From "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" in 1982)
Pam Krause: And she goes and shakes the hands of these young teenage boys who are obviously trying to have a girlfriend of their own. And they couldn't even believe. The look on their face was in shock that-- that it-- that that guy could ever get a wife as beautiful as Lana.
That got her in the actor's union.
And then, her talent persuaded Roger Corman, the king of B movies, to make her the Barbarian Queen.
(From "Barbarian Queen")
Lana Clarkson: "If you've come to kill me, then just kill me. I don't need to listen to you talk."
Roger Corman: Lana on the set and off the set was truly a wonderful person. She was bright, she was vivacious, she was friendly to everybody. She leapt into her roles, and particularly in the sword and sorcery pictures, which required a great deal of action. She seemed to enjoy them.
But Hollywood, as every child should be taught early on, is often a cruel town.
As Lana aged, even small parts played hard to get.
And so she adjusted and developed a standup comedy act.
Michael Nathanson: She was really, really funny.
And, said pal Nathanson, she didn't take herself too seriously.
Nathanson: And what's most interesting about the routine. Her act, if I may, was that 90 percent of her standup was all about, "Hi, I'm Lana Clarkson. I want to tell you what it's like to be an ex, kind of over-the-hill, B movie queen in Hollywood."
Lana Clarkson: I played probably every sex pot bimbo character you can imagine.
Adjustments. Two days before she died she told Pam Krause's mother, a matchmaker, that she was ready for a mate.
Dianne Bennett: She says, "I love kids, I'm getting to the point where I'd really like to find the right man. Will you promise to call me on Monday?" I said, "Of course."
Pam Krause: All she had to do was to live until Monday morning.
But first, Lana clocked in to work at her new job as hostess in the VIP room at the House of Blues, Sunset Strip, Feb. 2, 2003. 6 p.m.
It was about an hour after that when Phil Spector and his driver headed out to pick up his old classmate, Rommie Davis.
They'd recently become re-acquainted after a high school reunion.
Keith Morrison: Was he a gentleman?
Rommie Davis: Always. Always. Impeccable. Always.
So, Rommie was taken aback when she dined with him, several times, on that fateful weekend.
At dinner on Friday...
Rommie Davis: He ordered a drink. And-- you know, Phillip-- Phillip didn't usually drink. And so I was a little disconcerted and thrown at that. I thought, a drink?
Rommie knew Spector shouldn't drink while on medication for manic depression. Then, on Saturday night…
Rommie Davis: This was not Phillip. This was somebody else. He was just different. And so he ordered a daiquiri and I thought, oh my gosh.
Still, she agreed to see him again on Sunday, Feb. 2.
Rommie Davis: He had more than one drink. He was acting, you know, very, very weird. And he didn't-- he didn't want to go home.
He dropped off Rommie and picked up another female friend, took her to Trader Vic's, an old Beverly Hills watering hole.
And then they went to Dan Tanas for more drinks.
They got there at 1:44 a.m. and then, very late now, nearly 2 a.m., they went to the House of Blues.
They met the new hostess -- Lana Clarkson.
Mick Brown: Initially she doesn't recognize Phil Spector. Doesn't know who he is. Thinks, in fact, that he's a woman. And somebody steps in very quickly and has to explain who he is. "This-- this is Phil Spector. You treat him like gold."
And so, according to people who work at the House of Blues, she did. And when Spector sent his date home, she and he struck up a conversation that lasted until it was time to go.
Here in this grainy security video you can see Lana Clarkson after the bar had closed blowing out a candle, then walking Phil Spector to his car. The time stamp says 2:23 a.m.
Mick Brown: At that point, according to the chauffeur, he begins to invite Lana back to The Castle. "Come back to The Castle. Just come back for a drink."
Keith Morrison: She doesn't want to go?
Mick Brown: And she says, "No."
But Lana acquiesces, gets in the back of Spector's chauffeur-driven Mercedes.
They watch a movie in the backseat – "Kiss Tomorrow Good-bye," a noir starring James Cagney.
(From "Kiss Tomorrow Good-bye")
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, it is my duty to prosecute and your duty to convict or acquit."
They head east to the city of Alhambra, where Phil Spector lives in a massive gated hilltop mansion he called The Castle.
And then everything changed.
Detective Rosenberg: Shortly after five o'clock this morning, officers from the Alhambra Police Department were dispatched to the residence behind us regarding a call of a gunshot victim.
The bullet, just one, broke her neck and severed her spine. She was dead in an instant according to law enforcement.
And thus began the slow trip down the long and winding road of the law...
Phillip Spector you're charged in indictment number DA-255233 in count one, with the murder of Lana Clarkson, in violation of penal code section 187, that's alleged to have occurred on Feb. 3, 2003...
… along which the eccentric music producer was arrested, and booked for murder. He hired some very expensive lawyers -- and fired a few too.
Occasionally he got on a soap box.
(In front of courthouse)
Phil Spector: The actions of the Hitler-like district attorney, and his storm-trooping henchmen, to seek an indictment against me, and censor all means of getting my evidence and the truth out, are reprehensible, unconscionable, and despicable.
Alan Jackson (prosecutor): The evidence is going to paint a picture of a man who on February 3, 2003 put a loaded pistol in Lana Clarkson's mouth, inside her mouth and shot her to death.
More than four years after the death of Lana Clarkson, the case against Phil Spector -- charged with second-degree murder, facing 15 to life -- began in downtown Los Angeles. It's not exactly Hollywood, but Hollywood and music insiders would take the stand on both sides of the case.
Prosecutor Alan Jackson set the scene, took the jury through the events on the eve of that deadly Monday morning.
The jury saw the surveillance video with Lana Clarkson walking Phil Spector to his car a little after 2 a.m. Spector's driver picked up the story.
DeSouza: He invited her to go to The Castle.
Prosecutor: And what was her response?
DeSouza: First was no.
Adriano DeSouza was a substitute driver. From now on, DeSouza would be the only person alive to see Lana Clarkson with Phil Spector.
DeSouza: She said that she was going uh, she was going just for a drink.
Prosecutor: What did Mr. Spector say?
DeSouza: Uh, don't talk to the driver.
DeSouza says he dropped them off at the house. And fell asleep in the car.
Alan Jackson: And out of nowhere "POW." One shot.
DeSouza: I got out of the car, and he was at the door. At the time he had the gun in his hand.
Prosecutor: What did he say?
DeSouza: He said "I think I killed somebody."
"I think I killed somebody."
But did he?
Clerk: Please state and spell your first and last name for the record.
Lillienfeld: Mark Lillienfeld.
When police arrived at Spector's castle, said the lead homicide detective, they found Lana Clarkson, dead, a purse on her arm, sitting by the back door.
They also found the gun.
(In court, referring to photos on projector)
Lillienfeld: To the right of her left leg, there is the butt of a gun, next to her left ankle.
The detective found the holster for that gun in a nearby, slightly open drawer.
And upstairs, he said, he found a cup full of bullets which matched the bullets in the gun.
They found 14 phones but only one 911 call -- from the driver.
Lana's blood was on the door latch, on a rag in the bathroom, in Phil Spector's pants' left pocket. Inside. And it was smeared on her face.
A forensic scientist gave an explanation.
Lynne Herold: You wouldn't have a smear unless there was some activity that caused it.
Alan Jackson (prosecutor): So somebody manipulated not only her face and neck but manipulated the blood on her face and neck?
Lynne Herold: Yes.
Did Phil Spector pick up that rag, wipe her face, clean the gun, and plant it under Lana's left leg to imply suicide?
Alan Jackson: So how did it get under her leg? After he wiped the gun down, Phillip Spector attempted to set a stage for the crime scene. He put the gun under her left leg. She didn't do it, and he was the only other person in the room.
Did Spector fire the gun? He was wearing a white jacket that night on which investigators found tiny bits of blood -- a misty splatter. Meaning, said the forensic scientist, Spector was close enough to have held the gun in Lana's mouth.
Lynne Herold: Given its size it falls into the category of the mist-like back-spatter that typically cannot go farther than two to three feet.
Forensic testimony droned on for 16 days. The defendant himself was hard-pressed to stay awake.
But it was Spector's own notorious past that underscored the prosecution.
Prosecutor: The evidence will show, ladies and gentlemen, that the defendant has a pattern.
And so now came a parade of women who testified that their stories could well have ended just as Lana Clarkson's did.
Ogden: I'm saying OK Phillip now I'm going to leave, I have to go now.
It was 1989. Dianne Ogden, a music industry insider who had been close to Spector, remembered a visit to one of his homes.
Ogden: And I put my purse on my arm. And I'm saying buh-bye…
Her purse on her arm. Like Lana. Spector, she said, refused to let her leave.
Ogden: He was screaming at me. He was screaming the f-word. You're not f-ing leaving … He had a gun to my face, a pistol of some sort. I wouldn't look at it. I couldn't, you know. I was afraid to touch it, I was afraid it would go off. I wasn't sure if it was loaded, and he had it here (moving her finger like a gun over her face) here, he put it all over me.
Melissa Grovsnor: He walked right up to me and held the gun right to my face. With just inches between my eyes--
It was 1992. Melissa Grovsnor.
Grovsnor: --and said if you try to leave I'm going to kill you.
Dorothy Melvin: He took his right hand that was holding the revolver and smacked me in the side of the head and said I told you to get the f- back in the house.
1993. Dorothy Melvin.
Melvin: I was sobbing and I said why are you doing this Phil? Why are you doing this?
At his house on a date.
Melvin: Eventually he got up and he back handed me with the pistol again and said I told you to take your f-ing clothes off.
Stephanie Jennings: Phil was requesting that I go over to his room.
1995. Rock and roll photographer Stephanie Jennings at a New York hotel.
Jennings: He had his gun with him. And he pulled a chair and put it in front of the door and said I wasn't going anywhere.
Robitaille: I remember standing in the lobby and as I turned, there was a gun, pointed at my temple (puts her fingers to her head), actually touching my temple.
Devra Robitaille, as far back as 1976.
Robitaille: He said if you leave I'll blow your f-ing head off.
But, powerful though the women's testimony was, could anyone show evidence that Spector's drunken antics actually intended harm to women?
Prosecutor: Thank you, your honor. We call Vince Tannazzo.
Actually, claimed the prosecutor, someone could.
An ex-New York cop was about to tell a story from the early '90s about the night he was working security and had to throw a drunken Phil Spector -- who had brandished a gun -- out of a celebrity party.
Tannazzo: I proceeded to elevator to go up to Joan Rivers' apartment and before I got to the elevator I un-holstered my gun and put it in my suit jacket pocket.
And why did the prosecutor want Tannazzo to testify? Because of what the ex-cop claims Spector said on the way out of that party: that women -- he used a different term…
Tannazzo: "...these fucking cunts." And he said "They all deserve a bullet in their fucking heads."
Prosecutor: They all deserve a bullet in their head?
The case against Spector looked very dire.
By the time attorney Bruce Cutler -- famous for representing the likes of John Gotti and associates -- presented himself to the Spector jury, the icon of rock had fired a few lawyers and hired some more, all to argue his central claim: the state could not prove he killed Lana Clarkson because she did it herself.
Cutler: I'm not suggesting to you and I'm not saying the evidence will indicate to you that this was a suicide, but a self-inflicted gunshot wound, ladies and gentlemen, can be an accidental suicide.
But to persuade the jury of that, Cutler and the rest of the defense team would have to surmount some rather inconvenient evidence, such as this:
(police video in court)
Adriano DeSouza: He had a gun, in the front. And he... he told me, like I - "I think I killed somebody."
That's the driver, Adriano DeSouza, telling the cops he heard Spector say "I think I killed somebody." The defense strategy? Question DeSouza's reliability as an accurate reporter. English wasn't his first language and he admitted he had fallen asleep.
Cutler: And that awakening from a deep sleep, he was able to be startled enough and to hear those five fatal words: I think I killed somebody. I think I killed somebody. I think somebody is killed. Or maybe he didn't hear anything.
And, said the defense, there was noise from that fountain by Spector's house that might have drowned out Spector anyway.
Prosecution: You think you might have gotten those words wrong?
DeSouza: No, the the words that I heard that like were clear
The strategy wasn't working terribly well. So, was what you're about to hear a legal Hail Mary pass? If it was, it bombed.
Question: Can you describe Mr. Spector's voice?
Answer: I'm not good with describe stuff, sir. Voice? You want me to uh like, to talk like him?
Question: Well, that's one way.
Answer: (in a nasally voice he impersonates Spector) "Adriano, Adriano go to the grill in the alley." That's what it was. Like that. (courtroom laughs)
Prosecutor: I would object but he asked for it.
If that were the entire defense, Phil Spector would have a big problem.
But that was just a sideshow compared to the rest of the defense.
The prosecution had claimed the fine blood spatter on Spector's white jacket proved he was so close to Lana when the gun went off that he must have pulled the trigger.
But that, said a small army of defense forensic experts, was not necessarily true at all.
The spots on the jacket proved nothing, they said, because blood could travel quite a distance.
DiMaio: If you give it more energy will go three feet or four feet.
Werner Spitz: They can go six feet.
Stuart James: There's simply a wide variation … anywhere from there up to five or six feet.
Famed pathologist Michael Baden came to say the blood on Spector's jacket would have landed on the right side not on the left where it was found if he shot her.
And in an eleventh hour epiphany, after he'd been on the case over four years, since the day Lana died, Baden suddenly realized that she did not die instantly but was alive and was breathing for perhaps four minutes.
Question: If there's an injury to the area of the mouth, and blood, does blood ever get expirated from the mouth?
Baden: Surely. Once there is blood in the cranial in the oral cavity, as we breathe out, some of that blood uh will come out out of the mouth or nose.
Could Phil Spector have been coming to Lana's aid, when that blood came out of her mouth, and sprayed his jacket?
But how could the gun have wound up under Lana's leg if Spector didn't plant it there himself? After all, the driver had seen him holding the gun after the shooting.
Well, there was a simple answer to that, too, said the defense.
Defense opening: By the time these pictures are taken of where the gun is there was what's called a take-down of Phillip by several police officers … god knows what got kicked or moved or whatever in the take down.
A take down? That's right. When police arrived, and Spector put his hands in his pockets instead of over his head, they tackled and Tasered him.
Question: All officers, the four officers, now entered in kind of a rush, is that right?
Police officer: It was a controlled rush, yes.
The defense even brought the jury on a tour of The Castle.
The idea was that they would see for themselves the small entry way -- that they'd see how easy it would be for a gun to go flying during a police take down. But the key to Spector's defense was Lana Clarkson herself.
The defense never explained how Phil Spector's gun ended up in Lana Clarkson's hand. But it was there they insisted. And suddenly the thing on trial seemed to be Lana's frame of mind.
Defense: Was she acting recklessly because of her history?
Well, there was her moribund career. Going nowhere.
And, she'd taken a bad fall in 2001, broke both of her wrists, couldn't work for nearly a year, and was still on a strong pain killer Vicadin.
She had to be depressed, suggested the defense. They had her emails that said so and she'd been fired from a play. She was also dumped by a man, said this friend…
Friend: She was very, very upset about it.
Question: Was she depressed over it?
Friend: Yes, extremely.
That was just a month before her death.
Depressed about men and work.
And drinking, claimed the woman whose name is Punkin Pie. And though she was taking the stand for the defense, she insisted...
Punkin Pie: She was my very best friend in the whole wide world.
Ms. Pie gave her profession as club promoter. She came with pictures which the defense showed as evidence of parties with Lana.
Defense attorney: At the time of this birthday party did Lana drink tequila?
Punkin Pie: Yes.
She smiled for the cameras, but Hollywood was simply not being kind to Lana Clarkson. Like the night, a few weeks before she died, said Pie, when she approached a big time movie director who she'd once worked with.
Pie: She said Michael Bay just dissed me. He didn't know who I was. And she was crying and very upset.
Roger Rosen: Did she say something else to you?
Pie: She said I'm really sick of the people in this town, I hate this town and I hate the people in it and I don't want to be here anymore.
Then, less than a week before she died…
Punkin Pie (crying): She called me at home and she was bawling, crying uncontrollably and she said "Pie, I can't take it anymore." She said "I don't want to live, live any more, I don't want to be in this town. I want to end it."
Then, in a risky move, the defense put Lana Clarkson's mother on the stand.
Question: I'm going to ask you if uh, have you seen those three letters before?
Lana, desperate for work, claimed the defense, had forged supportive letters from industry executives. They wanted Lana's mother to confirm she'd found the letters.
Question: You found those in Lana Clarkson's residence, did you?
Would the jury think the defense had been cruel to a grieving mother?
Question: When was the last time you spent time with Lana, before she died?
Mother: February 2. Sunday.
It was, said the defense, a depressed and suicidal Lana Clarkson whose unhappy life ended in the entryway of Phil Spector's castle full of drinks and Vicodin. And with the solution, a gun, finally in her hand.
Not Phil's doing. Not at all.
Depression. Suicidal despair.
It was the cornerstone of Phil Spector's defense: his claim that Lana Clarkson, rejected by Hollywood, had the poor manners to choose his house and his gun to bring her own sorry life to an end. But now, the prosecution would get to respond and show a different Lana -- and a different side of Hollywood.
Question: Did you like her?
Michael Bay: I did. Because she was funny. I like funny people.
Director Michael Bay came to court to say that it was quite impossible that he would have "dissed" Lana, as Punkin Pie had described.
Michael Bay: If I disrespected her, she would probably would have slapped me. She's just funny and she's, she was kind of saucy, you know. She had no qualms coming right up to someone.
In fact, that suicide defense brought out a strong reaction from Lana's friends.
Nili Hudson: She was upbeat. She was going out on auditions. She was working.
Question: Do you ever hear Lana talk about suicide committing suicide or ending her life in any way?
Nili Hudson: Absolutely not.
Lana's agent brought in pictures of her at her last audition just 11 days before she died. Told the jury how she landed the part -- but didn't live to do it.
So where did Punkin Pie, the self-proclaimed best friend, get this idea?
Pie: She said "I don't want to live any, live any more."
Back in 2003, the day Lana died, Pie told the cops just the opposite.
Prosecution: He asked you specifically was there anything in Lana Clarkson's personality or what there anything you noticed about her that suggested to you suicide. Is that correct?
Punkin Pie: Yes.
Prosecution: And specifically you said "absolutely not."
Punkin Pie: Probably.
So was she telling the truth now or back in 2003?
The prosecution tried to answer that question with this letter Pie wrote to a friend almost a year after Lana died:
"My Lana, my best friend, my right arm, my inseparable sister, was violently and abruptly taken from me at the hands of Phil Spector."
But if the jury had to guess at the truthfulness of some of the witnesses, surely this would help them get to know the real Lana Clarkson:
(video of Lana Clarkson)
I started my career in show business working for the wonderful low-budget movie producer Roger Corman.
Her showcase reel. Now the jury saw her in commercials for K-Mart:
Lana: "Dang it Dan!"
"Pate, it's from France."
"No, no, no."
There she was, the pretty, ambitious actress.
It was during the cross-examination of Lana's agent that for some reason not entirely clear, the defense seemed to feel the tape would be helpful to its side by showing the jury that Lana wasn't very good, not marketable.
And then, some of the people in the courtroom began to cry.
In this tape, for the long suffering jury, Lana Clarkson had finally come alive.
(video of Lana waving)
It was hardly what the defense strategy intended.
But was there even agreement on the defense team? On the last day of testimony another one of Spector's high powered attorneys, Bruce Cutler, announced he was out. Done.
Cutler: There is nothing more I can do for Mr. Spector.
A fact the jury was not permitted to hear as it finally prepared to consider the case of the untimely death of Lana Clarkson in the home of Phil Spector.
Somewhere in Los Angeles tonight are nine men and three women whose sleep may well be troubled.
Are they struggling with the fate of Phil Spector?
They've been watched, all these 57 days of the trial, by Court TV's Beth Karas.
Beth Karas: Right from jury selection, they're starting to take their sides. And as the evidence unfolds, they're either strengthening that position and maybe they'll start going to the other sides.
(In court, addressing jurors)
Judge: Keep an open mind…
They were sent away late Monday morning to the small, plain jury room up on the ninth floor of the criminal court house. It's the same floor and the same hallway where the O.J. Simpson jury pronounced its quick not guilty.
And with them, in a twist that is surely stranger than fiction, is a senior producer with Dateline NBC, selected as juror number two.
So-- special access, you ask? Well, no. In fact, the arrangement has been a royal pain, since by court directive the case, the trial, even the name of the defendant, may not be mentioned by the producer to staff, or staff to producer.
So we can only suspect they are aware that no Hollywood jury has ever found a major celebrity guilty of murder.
Nor do we know if this is the argument they are considering.
Defense: The government has again given you stories instead of science, they've given you personality instead of proficiency, they've given you speculation rather than certainty, they've given you emotion rather than evidence, fiction, rather than facts, and deceptions rather than details.
In its closing, the defense asked the jury to accept its experts' version of the science of the case.
The prosecution focused on the driver's account of death at The Castle and on those women with their stories about Phil Spector and his guns.
Keith Morrison: What's going to grab them the most? Is it going to be story or science or personality? What?
Beth Karas: The jurors cannot ignore the science and they cannot ignore the story. The defense has asked them to focus on science only and not to consider Phil Spector's past with women because those were many, many years ago. But it's powerful evidence.
As was prosecutor Jackson's closing, which was as powerful, some court watchers said, as they've seen in years.
Prosecution: Lana Clarkson … she's been murdered twice. She was murdered once on February 3, 2003, when he put a gun in her mouth and that gun went off. And her character has been assassinated over the past four months, through the presentation of the defense evidence, attempting to paint her in a way that simply isn't true.
But was Lana Clarkson suicidally depressed, as the defense contended? Only the jury can decide that now.
Keith Morrison: Kind of thing that could produce an argument in the jury room.
Beth Karas: Yes, but did she go to a stranger's house and shoot herself in front of him? … That's what may be difficult to wrap their heads around.
And Punkin Pie? What of the woman who claimed to be Lana's best friend, and proposed the depression story?
Keith Morrison: What kind of an impact would she have had on the jury?
Beth Karas: You know, the first time she came into the courtroom, when it was announced, "Punkin Pie," the jurors sat up.
But then there were those others to counter Ms. Pie and that letter she sent soon after Lana's death, contending her friend died at the hands of Phil Spector.
Keith Morrison: So for the jury, what? Do you disregard her completely?
Beth Karas: I don't know that they'll disregard her completely because there certainly is corroboration that they were close friends.
The jury, of course, is not with us tonight -- they've been ordered to avoid news about the trial. Instead they'll be stewing in private about arguments like this:
Baden: The only question is who put the gun in Lana Clarkson's mouth and who pulled the trigger.
Or they could let their minds wander back before the scene at The Castle, before the movie in the back seat of the Mercedes -- the parking lot, House of Blues, closing time.
Alan Jackson: If you could say but one thing to Lana Clarkson, right then, you'd lean over and you'd whisper, "Don't go."
Fantasy, of course.
Instead, in the next hours, or days, 12 ordinary humans will announce the fate of the aging prince of rock and roll.
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