The Spector End Game
The Phil Spector trial is winding down, but not before some last media flourishes about producer Michael Bay, Punkin Pie, Spector’s daughter and a field trip.
Jurors in the murder trial recently visited Spector’s mansion, 15 miles northeast of Los Angeles, to see for themselves the spot where actress Lana Clarkson was found dead, slumped over in a chair.
Despite the defense’s objections, at press time the jury was expected to return to the courthouse to hear testimony from a fifth woman who claimed Spector had threatened her with a gun.
Spector is accused of fatally shooting Clarkson in the mouth February 3, 2003, after she came home to his mansion after meeting him at the House of Blues in West Hollywood where she worked as a hostess. The defense is trying to prove Clarkson shot herself and that Spector was standing too far away to pull the trigger.
The defense surprised the courtroom by announcing July 31st their case would close early and they would eliminate key witnesses, including a return of forensic expert Henry Lee. Then, the defense called Spector’s daughter, 24-year-old Nicole.
She testified that her father is right-handed, which supports defense claims that it’s unlikely the producer shot Clarkson because blood stains were found on the left side of his jacket.
The courtroom was also treated to a video where Clarkson came to life, displaying her comic talents in "Lana Unleashed." During the 25-minute production she portrayed a talking Barbie doll, a Las Vegas showgirl, a nun and Little Richard, complete with black face.
Clarkson’s former agent, Nick Terzian, said although he was impressed with the video, he had never sent it to any casting agents. He also remarked that although she was upbeat, enthusiastic and a top moneymaker at his agency, he had only booked her for two print ads paying $2,250, less commission, during the last year of her life.
Next, the trial turned to the prosecution’s rebuttal in which they called Nili Hudson to call out Punkin Pie Laughlin’s testimony. Hudson, who said she was Clarkson’s best friend for 20 years, accused Laughlin, who claimed she was the actress’s BFF for 10 years, of false testimony.
Laughlin, a club promoter at the late Ian Copeland’s Backstage Café, testified in July that Clarkson was depressed and embarrassed to be working for $9 an hour at the House of Blues. Hudson said Laughlin’s mass Christmas card mailing contradicted her testimony: "My Lana, my best friend, my sister, my right arm, was violently taken from me at the hands of Phil Spector."
Hudson admitted she had watched some of the trial on TV and thought Spector was guilty but said it didn’t keep her from telling the truth.
The jury also heard from "Transformers" director Michael Bay August 6th. Laughlin had earlier claimed Clarkson was in tears because Bay snubbed her at a party 10 days before she died. Bay said he remembered her from casting the actress in a small role in a car commercial in 1998 but denied seeing her at the Hollywood Hills party.
"If I disrespected her, she probably would have slapped me," Bay said. "She was just that saucy."
Earlier, the defense lost a July 24th bid to get the judge to dismiss the murder charge against Spector or reduce the charge to manslaughter – and also lost a motion to keep an unflattering photo of Spector from jurors, taken the day he was arrested.