But the next day he changed his mind again and said he couldn’t put involuntary manslaughter on the table. Nor could he think of any language to amend Special Instruction 3 that would not result in a mistrial. The court drifted into a state of controlled anarchy. Jurors cooled their heels in the jury room, wondering what was going on outside its doors, while Fidler, the prosecutors and defense team haggled over solutions. Finally, at the end of Thursday afternoon Fidler called in the jury and told it to simply forget all about the special instruction, “As if you’d never heard of it.”
He then proceeded to impose a new instruction that not only clarified the conditions under which Spector could be found guilty, but actually floated some possible scenarios in which Spector could’ve killed Clarkson. Needless to say, the prosecution had no objections to this but it brought defense lawyers to their feet. They were especially livid over one hypothetical in which Clarkson — not Spector — fired the gun.
The defense’s Brad Brunon complained about this scenario being included when Fidler had previously barred the defense from introducing evidence — long whispered about in the hallway, but never formally presented — that Clarkson had a reputation for drunkenly inserting objects in her mouth at parties.
Fellow defense attorney Dennis Riordan strenuously claimed that suddenly Fidler had turned all of Spector’s expert defense witnesses, who claimed Clarkson had, indeed, fired the gun, into incriminatory witnesses. Riordan spoke by speakerphone from his San Francisco office, and his halting, disembodied voice, with its vestigial Bronx accent, provoked occasional laughter in court, especially Thursday, when Judge Fidler pantomimed his pulling the plug on Riordan.
Still, Riordan’s importance to the defense became obvious. Riordan, is known for his tenaciousness and eye for overlooked details. He won a 14-year battle for freedom for accused murderer and ex–Black Panther Johnny Spain, got dog-mauling defendant Marjorie Knoller’s murder-two sentence tossed and is currently on the West Memphis Three appeals team. He was brought into the proceedings in late August to vet and block prosecution initiatives during closing arguments and jury instructions, and it was he who crafted the poison pill known as Special Instruction 3.
Next week, the DA’s office will announce whether or not it will seek a retrial. When the deadlock was announced, Phil Spector betrayed no emotion. Later, a news helicopter that followed Spector’s entourage back to his Alhambra castle recorded the music producer dancing with his wife, Rachelle, in their driveway, not far from where Lana Clarkson had been shot dead on February 3, 2003. For the time being, Phil Spector was home free.