When Phil Spector, his wife Rachelle and Spector's bodyguard emerged from their black Lexus this morning, it was, finally, to an awaiting squad of TV news cameramen huddled at the top of the Superior Court's pedestrian ramp. After half a year of testimony that went largely ignored by the media, Spector's second trial for second-degree murder was concluding with final arguments. Spector and his wife entered a packed courtroom, whose tiny door windows were covered with black paper; after a few comments from Judge Larry Paul Fidler, the prosecution began its close.
Deputy District Attorney Truc Do, dressed in somber, dark charcoal, began by stressing the two worlds represented during the trial: One - Phil Spector's - was of wealth and power and, Do implied, of male privilege also. The second world belonged to Lana Clarkson, a 40-year-old woman who was trying to eke out a living both as an actress and hostess at the House of Blues night club. This second world was one where working people - especially working women - were always at the mercy of the rich, even in death. Spector is accused of fatally shooting Clarkson in the mouth after whisking her away from the House of Blues to his Alhambra "castle" in the early morning hours of February 3, 2003.
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In a rather startling coup de theatre, Truc Do's PowerPoint presentation included slides of the dramatic Mui Ne sand dunes, located, she said, in the part of Vietnam her family is from.
"This is not a screensaver," Do said. More pointedly, she likened the slides' shifting sand mountains to what she claimed were defense attorney Doron Weinberg's ever-changing positions regarding the trial's expert witness testimony. Again and again she hammered home her belief in the reliability of witness Adriano De Souza, Spector's driver on the night of Clarkson's death, who told police Spector emerged from his mansion holding a gun and uttering the words, "I think I killed somebody."
During the trial Weinberg picked over those words and De Souza's recollection of the fatal night, hoping to sow doubt in jurors' minds. The prosecution, which also includes deputy D.A. Alan Jackson, clearly wants to minimize any possible damage Weinberg and his own expert witnesses may have done to De Souza's credibility. How Weinberg will reply to the woman in the dunes will be seen later today.
[Update: After Truc Do finished the prosecution's presentation, Judge Fidler granted Doron Weinberg's request to delay his final argument until Tuesday morning.]