Today jurors in Phil Spector's murder trial got the case and began deliberations, after six months of testimony. Actually, for a while this week it seemed as though closing arguments were going to go on for another half year. This morning co-prosecutor Alan Jackson finished his rebuttal argument that he'd begun Wednesday afternoon. As Jackson went into extra innings yesterday, ending half an hour past the court's usual closing time, it was appropriate that he opened today with a baseball metaphor.
And not just any, but one using Joe DiMaggio's record-setting 56-game hitting streak of 1941 to pooh-pooh what Jackson regarded as defense attorney Doron Weinberg's tortured use of statistics. Would you, Jackson asked jurors, turn away from your transistor radio when DiMaggio came to bat in that historic 56th game against Cleveland? Notwithstanding that there were no transistor radios in 1941, it was a good rhetorical question, for the point Jackson next made was that Americans were glued to that game not for the numbers but for the fact that a man with a bat in his hand could continue his hitting streak. Likewise, all the science that Weinberg had thrown at the jurors Tuesday and Wednesday, Jackson said, was either of the junk or meaningless variety.
Alan Jackson Pool Photo: Al Seib/L.A. Times
“Every one of [his] points,” said Jackson, referring to Weinberg's closing argument, “falls like [a] tin soldier.”
particularly hammered on Weinberg's contention that, since none of
Spector's DNA had been found on the .38 Colt Cobra that killed Lana
Clarkson, it was obvious the famed music producer wasn't holding the
gun when it went off in the foyer of his home on February 3, 2003.
Weinberg's statement, Jackson said, was “a red herring” since the gun
hadn't even been examined for that DNA — the fact that the gun, like
everything else in the house, belonged to Spector made testing it
meaningless, and so it wasn't.
In other words, Jackson was saying, Weinberg had taken the mere fact
that the Colt Cobra had not been tested for DNA and turned this into a
scientific statement that no such DNA had been found on the gun.
Jackson noted that, while the county's forensics specialists hadn't
bothered with what they regarded as a time-wasting DNA search, the
defense's experts could have subpoenaed the snub nose for their own
tests, but didn't.
Similarly, Jackson took apart Weinberg's
reminder to jurors that no gunshot residue (GSR) had been found on
Spector's clothing and pointed out that, again, no such tests were
conducted since Spector owned so many guns that it would've been
pointless to. Jackson also went after Weinberg's statement that
homicide investigators found no signs of a struggle in Spector's foyer,
suggesting this proved Clarkson had shot herself in the mouth with the
gun, rather than having had the revolver jammed between her teeth
against her will by Spector before he fired it.
“No evidence of a struggle,” dryly Jackson announced, “except for a dead woman in your foyer.”
continued along these lines for close to 45 minutes, crossing off, on
an easel, each of the 14 points of exoneration Weinberg had previously
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 prove that she he
had pointed the gun into her own mouth and pulled its trigger. That
hypothesis had been presented by defense expert witness James Pex, who
would leave the witness stand under a cloud of suspected perjury.
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 incendiary issue in Spector's 2007
proceedings that almost sent one lawyer to jail and could have cost
forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee his reputation, as it is widely
believed that Dr. 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.
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 Lana 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 would they 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
Just before this speech, Jackson had pulled the stops
out when he expanded on remarks that had been made Monday by
co-prosecutor 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.
morning 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 of
these clicks 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 Lana Clarkson and repeated the formula for
Spector's behavior. Instead of saying “click” he went “Pow!” and the release felt among some spectators was as though he had fired a gun.
that's how jurors felt — or if it will affect their views of Spector's
guilt or innocence — remains to be seen. Their first duty is to choose
a foreperson, then they will begin the deliberations that sent their
predecessors, two years ago, into the tailspin of a mistrial —
deadlocked 10-2 in favor of conviction.