By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
IN THE DAYS AFTER JUDGE FIDLER dismissed the deadlocked jury on September 26, Ricardo Enriquez, previously known only as Juror 9, opened a fascinating window into its deliberations when he began speaking to the media and bloggers alike, answering our nagging questions and describing the secret proceedings that began with five jurors voting for acquittal, four for conviction and three undecided, and ended with the 10-2 guilty ballot. He said that the alpha males in the group quickly became apparent.
“Each one had their own fan base,” he explained, adding that he had campaigned to be elected foreman. “It was Big Brother. I knew I wanted to be the jury leader, the cruise director.” Enriquez said that he learned from a hypnotist that the best way to control a group is to feed its members and give them activities. For a while he brought the jurors casseroles and other homemade food, but stopped when the deadlock became apparent.
“I didn’t bring crap after deliberations began,” he said ruefully. “The jury became a real dysfunctional family. These people were so weak, wishy-washy. They wanted to be nurtured.”
Dysfunctional, maybe, but not sloppy. If anything, the jury was thorough to the point of neurosis as some jurors got lost in esoteric explanations that either exonerated Spector or pointed to the impossibility of ever knowing what happened that night in his mansion. Enriquez began to despair that some of his colleagues believed the defense’s 11th-hour theory that Clarkson’s body had involuntarily moved about after the bullet smashed through her spinal cord. He also grew angry over one juror’s insinuations that Clarkson was a fallen woman.
“She was made out to be a whore,” Enriquez said. “My task was to protect her fucking honor.” Today he admits to having vivid dreams of Lana at night.
IN THE END, LANA CLARKSON, whose acting career peaked early, became another enigmatic murdered female in a city filled with Black Dahlias and Dorothy Strattons. In the essay collection Women in Film Noir, E. Ann Kaplan seemed to have Clarkson in mind when she wrote in the 1970s: “Women in film noir are above all else unknowable . . . [they] stand outside the male order and represent a challenge to it. They symbolize all that is evil and mysterious.”
Certainly, throughout this trial, Clarkson was little more than an erotic surface, and nearly all of her activities were portrayed as vaguely transgressive or aberrant by the defense. Spector’s lawyers made every glass of wine she raised, each doctor’s prescription she filled, and any and all professional and personal setbacks she encountered seem like ominous portents of madness and suicide.
There is a moment in Robert Aldrich’s 1950s film version of Kiss Me Deadly when the character Dr. Soberin explains the post-atomic age — a definition appropriate for the Hollywood whose attention Clarkson feverishly worked to win back.
“As the world becomes more primitive,” says Soberin, “its treasures become more fabulous.” Lana Clarkson strove for Hollywood’s fabulous treasures only to die a lonely death in the house of a stranger.
And so, still free on $1 million bond, Phil Spector and his young wife, Rachelle, bide their time at his castle, with its cracked cinder-block walls, awaiting the next trial. In a sense, Spector is merely taking a backstage break from a legal spectacle unique to Los Angeles — the permanent trial. A mixture of passion play, policier and soap opera, the permanent trial is a creation of a paparazzi-ized news media — and a public that craves watching its movie stars, musicians and other entertainers shuffle from the red carpet to the perp walk. It began with the O.J. Simpson case in 1994 and has morphed into a single unending event in which the cast of celebrity defendants changes, but not the continuity of public shame.
More than once, Judge Fidler paraphrased Lincoln’s famous comment about General McClellan snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and, while it’s tempting to lay this same charge at the district attorney’s door, it wouldn’t be fair to the prosecutors, who meticulously prepared what had seemed to many — including Ricardo Enriquez — an airtight case. What let the air in was the learned testimony of defense expert witnesses who lent their reputations to support convoluted theories regarding the blood spray from Clarkson’s wound as well as assessments of her mental state based on a selective reading of her e-mails and other correspondence. The erudite opinions of Spector’s pathologists and forensic experts, combined with the very human doubts found in all juries, simply combined to make two jurors skeptical enough to not vote for a guilty verdict.
About an hour after Fidler dismissed the jury for the last time on September 26, three members, including Enriquez and the anonymous foreman, held a news conference. Then, after 21 minutes, bailiffs opened a back exit door and they were gone. We in the media, after five long months, were suddenly left in the stillness of a room with no judge, lawyers or jurors. Some of us stood about for a moment like sleepwalkers, then lurched to the elevators, which took us to the courthouse lobby that was filling with blinding sunlight at its southern exits. There, some people said their goodbyes, others instinctively followed the cameras trailing Vanity Fair correspondent Dominick Dunne, the trial’s best-known writer. A flame had been extinguished, and, like moths, we now drifted aimlessly, searching for the next spectacle to light up the headlines.