Spector Testimony Begins
Phil Spector’s new lawyer promises to unmask a prosecution witness as someone other than the man who took the stand in the eccentric music figure’s first trial.
As the 68-year-old music producer’s retrial enters its second day Thursday, lawyer Doron Weinberg says he will show that retired New York City police detective Vincent Tannazzo “is not who he says he is.”
Spector’s murder retrial reopened Wednesday with Weinberg casting the shooting of Lana Clarkson as a probable suicide and prosecutor Alan Jackson using previous testimony by Tannazzo to portray Spector as a violent man who hated women.
Tannazzo, scheduled to be the prosecution’s first witness Thursday, testified last year that Spector had been ejected from two Manhattan Christmas parties given in the early 1990s by comedian Joan Rivers after yelling obscenities against women and shouting, “‘These (expletive for women). They all deserve a bullet in their heads.'”
Weinberg called that claim “preposterous.” He said the words were never spoken and that he would show that Tannazzo “is not who he says he is.”
The retired detective’s testimony was the subject of pretrial disputes with the defense claiming the incendiary language he attributed to Spector is prejudicial.
Tannazzo is expected to be followed on the stand by one of Spector’s old flames, Dorothy Melvin.
In his opening remarks, Jackson promised jurors that they’ll be introduced to whom he called “the real Phil Spector.”
“You’ll see how Phil Spector regarded women and how he regarded Lana Clarkson,” he said. “To him, she was just another woman who deserved a bullet in her head.”
He focused on Spector’s relationships with women over a 30-year period and planned testimony by five of them, including one who has died and will be seen on videotape. He said each woman was threatened with a gun by Spector after he had been drinking.
His opening statement drew protests from Weinberg, who told Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler that Jackson was attempting to put Spector’s character on trial.
Weinberg moved for a mistrial, saying the jury had been intentionally poisoned by the remarks. It was rejected by Fidler, who reminded jurors that opening statements are not evidence.
The courtroom was packed, with Clarkson’s mother and sister in the front row. Spector’s wife, Rachelle, and his son, Louis, also were in court.
Spector, the rock legend who invented the “Wall of Sound,” has been known for his outrageous hairdos in the past but presented a more conservative image Wednesday, with his hair in a neat, shoulder-length bob. He wore a black pinstripe suit and white tie.
In his opening, Weinberg said the prosecution “does not have evidence that Mr. Spector killed Lana Clarkson because he didn’t.” He contended the evidence will show her gunshot wound was self-inflicted.
Clarkson, who had recently turned 40 and experienced personal and career setbacks, may have impulsively shot herself in a moment of despair as she prepared to leave Spector’s house after becoming intimate with him, the lawyer said.
Spector met Clarkson while he was out on the town in 2003 and she was working as a club hostess. He took her to his home, where she was found dead in the grand foyer, a gunshot through her mouth.
There were no witnesses to the shooting. The prosecution has said Spector shot her after she resisted his sexual advances.
It’s been a year since the jury in Spector’s first trial deadlocked 10-2 with the majority favoring conviction on second-degree murder.