"Why isn't anyone covering the Spector trial?" asked Marc Germain, the veteran talk-show interviewer.
Phil Spector photo by Ted Soqui
I had no answer, other than that assignment editors across town deem it to be a pale sequel to the first trial, the B-side of a mid-chart hit. It's not that way to those involved in the day to day trial, of course, and that includes Betsy Ross, the indefatigable court diarist who goes by the nom de blog Sprocket. Her Trials & Tribulations site is the only source for daily Spector reportage, so much so that she has received the thanks of mainstream media reporters whom she's befriended since she began following the Spector murder case in 2007.
Tonight I spoke to her about the case, feeling a little guilty that
every minute we spent on the phone meant she'd have to delay her day's
blogging a bit longer. Her accounts are massive, minutely detailed entries that include noting what the trial participants wear, the demeanors of the lawyers and, of course, the emotional climate changes occuring within the Spector entourage -- which, Sprocket says, has been pared down to Spector, his young wife Rachelle, their two bodyguards and lawyer Doron Weinberg.
Every morning Sprocket's husband drives her from Sherman Oaks to a Valley Red Line station, from where she catches the train downtown, to the Criminal Courts Building on Temple St.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"The atmosphere is completely different," Sprocket says of Spector II. "There's virtually no one in the gallery -- there was no press today -- and I'm hearing more laughter from the jury room."
Things are also a lot more streamlined, even though, Sprocket says, Weinberg will object to the slightest variance in witness testimony between the two trials.
"He's a crafty, meticulous lawyer," she says. "He'll fight to keep out the name of the DVD Spector had played the night of Lana Clarkson's death [Kiss Tomorrow Good-bye] and the fact that he had Viagra."
Sprocket is grateful for one thing: So far there's been none of the ceaseless analysis of what happened to a fragment of acrylic fingernail that had been blown off Clarkson's hand by the bullet that killed her in 2003. Then again, there is one constant that links the two trials, Sprocket says: The inconsolable sadness borne by Clarkson's mother, Donna, who will sometimes sob in court as she hears testimony. Some things don't get easier the second time around.