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
“No evidence of a struggle,” Jackson dryly announced, “except for a dead woman in your foyer.”
Jackson continued along these lines for close to 45 minutes, crossing off, on an easel, each of the 14 points of exoneration Weinberg had presented to the jurors. And, in what must have been an especially gleeful moment for him, Jackson dismissed a Weinberg point that a missing acrylic fingernail worn by Clarkson helped to prove that she had pointed the gun into her own mouth and pulled its trigger. That hypothesis had been presented by defense expert witness James Pex, who left the witness stand under a cloud of suspected perjury.
“I’ve just got one question for Mr. Pex,” said Jackson. “Where’s the nail? If it had broken when she was in that house, it would have been found.”
The meaning of Jackson’s remark was not lost on those in the courtroom, who had attended the first trial. The case of the missing acrylic fingernail was an explosive issue in Spector’s 2007 proceedings, which almost sent one lawyer to jail and could have cost forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee his reputation, as it is widely believed that Lee found and removed the nail fragment from Spector’s home during a defense-team search of the foyer. As it happened, the incident effectively prevented Lee, a well-known criminalist and media celebrity, from testifying on Spector’s behalf.
Also familiar to many today was Jackson’s conclusion, during which he invited jurors “to take a little journey with me,” on which Jackson walked them through the pivotal moment when Clarkson, against her best instincts, changed her mind and left the House of Blues after her VIP hostess shift ended, and accompanied Spector to his Alhambra mansion, where she would die. It was more or less the same speech Jackson had used on jurors in the first trial, and ended with him asking them what they would tell the wavering Clarkson had they been standing next to her when she was making up her mind. Still, it was an effective piece of narrative and, besides, this jury hadn’t heard it before.
Just before his speech, Jackson had pulled the stops out when he expanded on remarks that had been made Monday by Truc Do. In her closing argument Do had likened to empty chambers in a Russian roulette revolver the experiences of five women whom Spector had allegedly menaced with guns and violence following nights of heavy drinking. Clarkson, Do had said, was the sixth woman, unlucky enough to receive the bullet in the chamber.
For his rebuttal, Jackson intoned the names of each of these women who had testified, followed by the words, “A woman, alcohol and loss of control — Phillip Spector reaches for a gun. Click.” After each click, a photo of the woman appeared on a projection screen, so that the five formed the circle of a revolver’s cylinder. The courtroom cringed when Jackson got to Clarkson and repeated the formula for Spector’s behavior. Instead of saying “click,” he said “Pow!” and some spectators shuddered as though he’d fired a gun.
The jury panel of six men and six women then eased into deliberations. Friday would be their first full day of discussions, followed by the four-day Cesar Chavez holiday weekend. When they resumed Wednesday they would have a verdict option that jurors in Spector’s first trial did not: If they reject a second-degree murder verdict (or again deadlock on it), they have the opportunity to convict Spector of involuntary manslaughter. A devisive debate over this option raged at the end of Spector’s 2007 trial, when it occurred to Judge Fidler to suddenly throw this choice into the mix.
Yet Spector’s defense team strenuously objected. The arguments on that issue were led by San Francisco attorney Bruce Riordan, who’d been brought in to help craft jury instructions that would benefit Spector. Riordan won the day, in 2007, but a few weeks ago, Fidler reversed field and, apparently feeling more comfortable about adding involuntary manslaughter to the jury’s menu, did so. Needless to say, defense attorney Weinberg was apoplectic — for jurors could convict his client for basically causing a criminal accident. Ironically, it was one of Spector’s early lawyers, Bruce Cutler, who in 2007 termed Lana Clarkson’s an “accidental suicide.”