By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
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By LA Weekly
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Weinberg, nevertheless, was a somewhat more effective presenter than Truc Do — hardly surprising, given the decades of courtroom experience he has on her. Debonair, straightforward and seemingly candid, Weinberg was at ease moving around the podium and handling the gun that killed Clarkson. While he seldom raised his voice to any dramatic intensity, he took direct aim at Do’s PowerPoint photographs of those sand dunes.
The courtroom remained packed during the third day of closing arguments, with three rows of seats filled by Spector’s friends and supporters. It was also, apparently, the Associated Press’ turn to provide the pool images — the mike attached to the court podium had a large AP logo wrapped around it. Great branding idea, I thought — will we see a Nike “Swoosh” on the podium next? But the logo fun didn’t last long. Perhaps fearing that the podium would soon resemble a NASCAR pace car, Alan Parachini, the chief public-information officer for the Superior Courts, had the video cameraman remove the fire-red icon from the mike during a momentary pause in the second day of Weinberg’s defense presentation.
“Some of you may wonder why I’m up here,” Weinberg said by way of opening the morning. He revived “satellite blood spatter,” one of the forensic tropes from Spector’s first trial, and again explained why Spector didn’t call 911 after he allegedly discovered Clarkson’s body in the foyer of his Alhambra mansion, known as the Pyrenees Castle. Co-prosecutor Do had previously made hay over Spector allegedly allowing Clarkson to bleed to death without seeking medical attention for her — even though he had 14 phones in his home. Weinberg tried to sow doubt in jurors’ minds about Spector’s intentions by suggesting Spector had reasonably expected his driver, DeSouza, to make the 911 call, which he eventually did. Weinberg also said that DeSouza, a Brazilian national, may have misunderstood Spector’s English when the record producer allegedly announced to him upon emerging from his house, gun in hand, “I think I killed somebody.” The defense attorney’s spin is that Spector may have said, “Call somebody.”
As for the women who testified they’d had nightmare dates with Spector that ended with him becoming violently drunk and brandishing guns at them and/or forcing them to remain with him for the night, Weinberg questioned their motives. Weinberg claimed that Joan Rivers’ one-time manager Dorothy Melvin had come forward out of “continuing anger over disappointment with her relationship with Phillip.”
And like the defense lawyers from the music producer’s first trial, Weinberg pointed out inconsistencies in the women’s statements or, simply, enumerated the times in their lives they’d been caught perjuring themselves. The most obvious case of the latter was Melissa Grosvenor, who was busted for bank embezzlement and later lied about it on a job application. The problem with this strategy is that it can cause jurors to think back, sympathetically, to all the times they may have uttered white lies, or even not-so-white ones. Does lying on a job application mean one can’t be trusted to ever tell the truth again?
It’s a question that may have run through jurors’ minds in a later Weinberg argument, when he again turned his attention to Spector’s hired driver, DeSouza. Unlike his ham-fisted predecessors in the first trial, Weinberg has approached DeSouza sensitively but has still zeroed in on three things: the driver’s command of English, his second language; his ability to have accurately understood Spector, given that DeSouza had not slept in 22 hours; and finally, Spector’s drunken syntax and the background noise of a nearby outdoor fountain.
Weinberg also strongly implied that DeSouza, who was living here on an expired visa, was more than eager to tell his cop interrogators what he believed they wanted to hear about his boss. For example, Weinberg showed a photographic blowup of a page of an interview in which a detective disclosed to DeSouza that Spector may have worn a white or cream jacket the night of Clarkson’s shooting — a statement DeSouza then agreed with, even though he’d previously told police Spector had worn all black that night.
Finally, though, Weinberg — sensitively, to be sure — reminded jurors that for four years DeSouza had misstated on his applications for visa renewals that he was a student not holding employment here. In other words, Weinberg said, DeSouza had lied four times.
The jurors seemed to be attentive: Brows were knitted and chins were stroked during Weinberg’s argument, but there was no telling how much he was influencing them. Finally, Weinberg concluded his argument by portraying Clarkson as a deeply depressed woman who could no longer confront a life filled with professional and personal failure.
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