As far as murder juries go, Phil Spector's second panel doesn't seem to be knocking itself out. They got the case on the afternoon of March 26 and almost immediately took off on a four-day weekend for the Cesar Chavez holiday. When jurors returned on April 1 it was to learn that one of their number was sick and they were off again -- until yesterday, when they put in five hours of deliberations. Today, at jurors' request, a portion of a prosecution criminalist's testimony was read back to them. The read-back couldn't have pleased the defense, because, among other things, it involved a missing thumbnail belonging to Lana Clarkson, whom Spector is accused of fatally shooting in his mansion's foyer on February 3, 2003.
It was this tiny sliver of nail -- an acrylic press-on, to be exact -- that caused Spector's lawyers so much grief
in the first trial. Shortly after Clarkson's death, a team of Spector's
lawyers, investigators and criminalists combed over the crime scene, and it is
widely believed that renowned forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee discovered
the fragment but kept it from the District Attorney's office. It has never been produced and the ensuing
courtroom furor at the time prevented the defense from allowing Lee
from getting anywhere near the witness chair in 2007, and almost caused
Judge Larry Paul Fidler to send lawyer Sara Caplan
to jail for not testifying about Lee's actions in Spector's foyer.
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Presumably this present jury knows nothing about the missing nail's
notorious history, but defense attorney Doron Weinberg can only wonder
how much of a help that nail could have been to proving his thesis
that Clarkson shot herself -- with the gun's blowback tearing the nail off the tip of her thumb. As it is, he could only allude to it during the trial.