Phil Spector: The Burden of Truth
Like Woodrow Wilson, Doron Weinberg had 14 points he wanted to share with his audience. These had nothing to do with the status of Alsace-Lorraine, however, but with the emotional state of Lana Clarkson, the House of Blues VIP hostess who took a one-way ride to music producer Phil Spector's mansion one February night in 2003. Weinberg, who is representing Spector during his retrial for the second-degree murder of Clarkson, finished his closing argument by portraying Clarkson as a deeply depressed woman who could no longer confront a life filled with professional and personal failure.
Clarkson, the veteran attorney told the jury, had a history of alcohol and drug abuse, suffered from chronic migraine headaches, had recently been dumped by a man with whom she'd hoped to form a new life, and was getting nowhere with the revival of her acting career. Then, gingerly addressing the 800-pound gorilla in the room, Weinberg broached the subject of involuntary manslaughter, a lesser charge that Judge Larry Paul Fidler decided, in the trial's waning days, to allow jurors to consider, should they find themselves unable to convict Spector on Murder Two. Involuntary manslaughter, Weinberg said, was no comprise for a jury to grasp at in case of a deadlock similar to the one that spiked Spector's first trial in 2007. To "split the difference," he said, was no option.
Weinberg concluded his argument at 2:14 p.m., after spending a full day
and a half before the jury. At 2:15 p.m. Deputy District Attorney Alan
Jackson was at the podium to deliver the prosecution's rebuttal
argument. He immediately derided Weinberg and his protracted argument,
describing the performance as "a filibuster" full of "parlor tricks"
and, likening Weinberg's explanations of how the scientific evidence
exonerated Spector (while proving how Clarkson had committed suicide) to a
Rube Goldberg contraption.
Jackson, attired in a dark, chalk-striped suit that contrasted with
Weinberg's undertaker-black suit, made good use of the floor space in
front of the jury box, whether stepping toward jurors to drive home a point related
to the discomfort Spector allegedly felt standing in front of
Clarkson's corpse, or rapping the witness stand to announce, of the
previous six month's testimony, "If it don't come out of this
microphone it ain't evidence."
Sometimes the Texan Jackson overplays this kind of down-home, y'all vernacular when
addressing jurors, but overall it was a vivid and welcome change from
Weinberg's dour recitation of his 14 points of doom. He was especially
effective in excoriating Spector's expert witnesses, whom he dismissed
as "hired guns" whose testimony cost the defense $419,000 and who
postulated, in order to prove Clarkson committed suicide, that blood
spray from a gunshot wound could "loop around" a suicide's wrists.
Jackson, attempting to disprove the defense thesis that Clarkson was a
suicide waiting to happen, pointed to the eight pairs of shoes she had
purchased the morning before she died. The very last words she wrote,
Jackson noted, were in response to a party invitation and rang with expectation:
"I can't wait."
After the Deputy D.A.'s rebuttal had run 35 minutes past the court's
normal closing time, a juror told Judge Fidler she had to leave. And
with that court recessed until tomorrow morning, when jurors will hear
the final 10 minutes of Jackson's argument. He will likely reiterate today's overarching theme -- that Spector's defense had not met "the burden
of truth" to answer the allegations facing him.
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