The Darwin Exception

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CA vs. Spector – Caplan is Relieved, DiMaio Cherry Picks

Posted by thedarwinexception on June 29, 2007

Sarah Caplan can celebrate Independence Day a little early – she’s not going to jail any time soon. Chief Justice Ronald George of the California Supreme Court issued a last minute stay. Now the court will take a look at Caplan’s appeal and decide if it is worth the justices time. The Supreme Court holds sessions only on Wednesdays. With next Wednesday being a holiday,  the court cannot take up her case until July 11. On that day, they can either say “No, we don’t think this is a case worthy of us looking at and ruling on”” and send Caplan back to Judge Fidler to carry out his coercive contempt proceedings or they can say “Yes, we will looks the the legal points you make and rule on those” If they do the latter, there are briefs and memos and oral arguments and pleadings, all taking time and before you know it Spector’s case will be over and the whole issue will be a moot point.

Inside the courtroom we have another day of fiery cross examination of Vincent DiMaio by Alan Jackson. And despite the fact that all of the prosecution’s experts ended  their time on the stand by saying that from the evidence they were unable to tell who pulled the trigger, DiMaio has no such limitations. He states with all certainty that it was Lana Clarkson. How does he reach this conclusion? Why, because she was younger, taller and physically stronger than Spector.

“Look at Mr. Spector,” he said, pointing to Spector, whose hands were visibly shaking.

“He has Parkinson’s features. He tremble. She was 25 years younger, seven to nine inches taller. She outweighed him by 25 pounds and was in better health than he was. Her reflexes would have been greater, her strength greater. It would be more likely for her to have shot him than for him to have shot her,” DiMaio said.

Jackson reminded the doctor that just the day before he had said that Clarkson was *not* in good physical condition, since she had recently broken both of her wrists and that this had hampered her mobility during the physical act of shooting herself. Now the doctor was saying she was in “excellent physical condition”.

“So you’re manipulating the facts,” Jackson challenged DiMaio.

“No, sir, you’re manipulating what I said,” DiMaio responded. “I said when you consider all of these things together, it’s more likely for her to have killed him because of the physical disparity.”

Jackson also attacked DiMaio over his characterization of Spector as being physically at a disadvantage to Clarkson.

“Are you saying that a short person armed with a gun can’t shoot and kill a taller, unarmed person?” the prosecutor asked.

“No, sir,” DiMaio answered.

“So once again, you’re manipulating facts to get the results you want.”

“You’re manipulating what I said,” DiMaio countered.

“Actually, doctor, I’m repeating what you said,” Jackson offered.

Jackson accused the doctor of “cherry picking” the facts – including the emails he had testified about on direct to tell the jury she was depressed, “at the end of her rope” and overwhelmed with life. Jackson showed the jury some of Clarkson’s other emails from the same time period where she was upbeat, hopeful, positive and making plans to attend parties and gatherings with her friends and looking forward to “pilot season” and new jobs.

Jackson asked the doctor why he hadn’t included those in his report or in his conclusions or in his testimony to the jury, and DiMaio conceded that Clarkson’s mental history and career prospects  “were not important” and “did not form the basis of his conclusions”.

“One piece means nothing,” the witness said, reiterating that the amount of gunshot residue on Clarkson’s body, the blood spatter on her hands and the nature of her wound contributed to his opinions, as well. “Put it all together, it is the picture.”

“In my opinion,” DiMaio continued, “the physical evidence is she had the weapon. She’s the one who fired the gun. He didn’t have the gun. She fired it and probably didn’t think of the consequences. It was a spontaneous reaction of some sort, stupid, based on alcohol. If she’d thought about it, she would have probably put it down.”

Tackling what DiMaio said about Clarkson being depressed over the state of her career when she died, Jackson showed the courtroom the actress’ professional headshots, which depicted a smiling, glamorous woman.

“She’s a very beautiful girl,” DiMaio admitted. But, “she’s 40 years old and there are a lot of people after the same jobs she was. It’s a hard life for an actress. That’s Hollywood. She’s competing against younger girls. She’s competing against Paris Hilton and things like that.”

DiMaio again and again backed off the conclusions in his report – saying that although it contained a personal history of Clarkson, including his conclusions as to her mental state, her career prospects and her medical history, it was not these conclusions that led him to the ultimate conclusion that she pulled the trigger the night she died, that he arrived at this opinion by examining the physical evidence.

“Physical evidence trumps history,” DiMaio said.

“Should the jury ignore your opinions about the medical history and the career?” Jackson asked.

“The jury decides what it wants to consider,” DiMaio replied. “All I can say is who fired the gun and in whose hands it was in. That is based on the physical evidence, not the history.”

Jackson then asked whether the gunshot residue found on both Clarkson’s and Spector’s hands, the blood spatter, the wound, the gunshot residue, all of that, could just as easily point to Spector having pulled the trigger.

“Yes, if you take each in isolation,” DiMaio said. “But each thing taken in isolation means nothing.”

Jackson then questioned how the evidence was being used. In one exchange, Jackson asked if DiMaio had considered whether Spector could wash off the blood spatter or gunshot residue.DiMaio said there was no evidence that Spector had washed, despite Jackson pointedly noting that a wet, bloody diaper was found at the scene and that Clarkson’s blood was found in several places around Spector’s home. The blood was presumably carried by Spector since Clarkson died immediately on being shot.“Was there blood on the doorknob?”“Was there blood on the banister?’“Was there blood on the door lock?”

Yes, yes, yes, DiMaio conceded.

“Then, Dr. DiMaio, you also admit that the blood was deposited there by Mr. Spector, so you have to admit that he had blood on his hands at *some* point after Miss Clarkson died.”


“Did you read the Police report written in conjunction with the GSR test performed on Mr. Spector? Did you see that they note that there is no blood on Mr. Spector’s hands at that time?”


“So, Dr. DiMaio, do you conclude from that that Mr. Spector had to have washed his hands at some point between depositing Clarkson’s blood all over his house and being arrested and brought tot he police station?’

“There is no evidence that Mr. Spector washed his hands.”

“Sir, you realize that a wet cloth diaper was found in the bathroom with Clarkson’s clotted blood on it, do you not?”


This diaper was wet, was it not?”


“Mr. Spector must have been the one to wet that diaper, right?”

“I would assume, so, yes.”

“Do you think that he also would have gotten his hands wet when he did this?

“No, there is no evidence Mr. Spector washed his hands.” There is no physical evidence about Mr. Spector,” DiMaio said.

During re-direct he insisted that he was an unbiased professional, that he couldn’t care less about the outcome of the trial, that he relied on the “objective, scientific evidence” in forming his conclusions, and that he could state without a doubt that Spector did not fire a weapon that evening.

DiMaio was finally dismissed, subject to recall, and the defense presented two brief witnesses who were at the scene the night of the shooting.

There is no court next week for the holiday. Court is scheduled to resume July 9.


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