The Darwin Exception

because it's not always survival of the fittest – sometimes the idiots get through

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CA vs. Spector – Caplan Capitulates as Lee Flees

Posted by thedarwinexception on July 12, 2007

“Smith & Wesson was like Masters and Johnson to him”.
Scott Raab on Phil Spector


Phil Spector must think he is already sitting  in the second circle of hell, the one Dante reserved for those who “lust”. It is rather ironic and fitting that as Spector sits on trial for murder, it isn’t the science that is damning him, it isn’t the circumstantial evidence, and it isn’t even his own statements given to police or his limo driver. No, what is damning Phil Spector are the women in his life, both past and present, paid and unpaid, groupies and victims, and there is a certain satisfaction in that.

And what is even more satisfying is that even those women who are called by the defense, like the queen of botox we saw yesterday, or who worked for the defense, such as Sara Caplan, end up helping the prosecution more than the defense. And all during it, Phil. Spector sits there with trembling hands and you just know he wants to reach out for “People’s Exhibit Number Sextuple M, the murder weapon itself, your honor”, and “put a bullet in all these fucking cunts heads.”

Yes, it surely must be the second circle of hell.

And today was no different. We start the day with Sara Caplan, who strides into court after the Supreme Court rules that yes, you must testify, no, we aren’t going to bail you out, and she decides that instead of throwing herself on the pyre for her ex-client, the gun toting Elmer Fudd, she would really rather just go on vacation with her son, since she’s had to put it off while all this is going on. So she announces to the court “OK, I’ll testify.” I agree with her, actually, I wouldn’t go to jail for his pathetic ass, either.  Most likely her thought process is that she is deferring to the Supreme Court’s opinion that she can not claim attorney/client privilege. As long as she has their opinion to back her up, she can still keep her credibility with future (and past) clients, keep the bar at bay with regards to her license, and comply with this court’s order.

But since Henry Lee has hopped a slow boat to China and has thrown down the gauntlet to Spector’s defense team with the veiled threat of “Bring me back – gonna cost you some bucks! BUH BYE!” is Caplan’s testimony really relevant, anyway?

Although between the two, Caplan and Lee, I think Caplan is the more honorable person in this situation. At least she had ethics when it came to her client, and stood by her principles. Exactly what principles and ethics is Henry Lee demonstrating with regards to his client? He was paid by Phil Spector to investigate and testify regarding his opinions. For Lee to leave because he was challenged by the court and become suddenly “unavailable” so he can avoid cross examination is juvenile and silly, and actually makes him look even more complicit in the shenanigans the court has accused him of. If he is so concerned about his reputation and stature, he should get on the stand and defend himself.

Cutler and Baden both mentioned Henry Lee in their opening statements. They told the jury that the “world renowned” Lee would tell them that the science proves their client is innocent. Once Caplan gets on the stand and casts doubt on Lee, and Lee never takes the stand at all, the jury will have no choice but to determine that the defense lied to them in their opening statements.

So, Caplan agrees to testify – she will take the stand this afternoon. But first we have the final moments of Tomlin’s cross examination and redirect, which actually included the question by Alan Jackson “Did you ever do a line of coke with a witness? Fire up a bong and smoke a little pot?”, since the witness was asked by the defense about “appropriate”  interrogation techniques, and Rosen asked the witness “…and sometimes you have to feed potential witnesses alcohol to get them to say what you want?” Leading one to wonder why the defense was basically trying to discredit their own witness, and leading one  to believe that maybe one of the defense investigator’s might have gotten a little tipsy with one or another of the witnesses they were interrogating.

Then we are treated to another Spector groupie on the stand, the sister of Melissa Grosvenor, one of the 4 “prior bad acts” witnesses, and, one assumes, the one that Grosvenor accused of being a drug addict and paid flunkie of Phil’s.

She is sworn as Angela Pileggi Silberstein, from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and yes, she is the sister of Melissa Grosvenor. Roger Rosen conducts her through the cross, putting on the record that she and her sister(s) grew up in Augusta Georgia, the home of the Master’s Golf Tournament held every year in April. He quickly moves to April of 2005, and elicits that Melissa and Angela were together in Georgia that year, and they attended a party held in the home of a Judge, presumably one of the many homes that are rented out each year to attendees of the tournament and surrounding festivities.

Angela testifies that while they were together in the home of the judge she and Melissa toured the home because it was “a nice house” and found themselves in a den/office/study area where she witnessed her sister steal a plaque that said “Attitude is Everything”. And I can’t help but wonder how this is going to impeach Melissa’s testimony, since Miss “Holier than Thou” here apparently sat there and watched her sister steal the plaque. Accomplice much?

Angela also testifies that while she was in Los Angeles earlier this year, she was interviewed by Tawni Tyndall, an investigator for the defense. While in her hotel room with another of her sisters and Tyndall  present, a call was placed to Melissa and while on speakerphone Melissa said to the witness “Why did you tell the investigators about my bank embezzlement charges and the plaque stealing incident? They would never have known otherwise”.

Angela then testifies that early in the case Melissa told her very excitedly “I’m going to be on TV! I’m a part of the Phil Spector case!”

And again, one comes away from the defense’s direct examination of their witness feeling a little disappointed. There’s nothing there. No “WOW” factor in any of the testimony they present, no meat on the bone or facts to sink your teeth into and make you think and mull and ponder. Just ——- a letdown.

So this sister saw her other sister steal a plaque – and not even a very inspired plaque. “Attitude is Everything?” No it’s not. What a pithy fucking platitude. So this sister was asked by the other sister “Why did you rat me out?” Big Fucking Deal. Let me tell ya, 10 to 1 the investigators already knew about Melissa’s background anyway.

I can’t see how this is going to make the jury just say to themselves “Oh my fucking God – Melissa stole a pithy platitude plaque? Well, Phil Spector NEVER could have pulled a gun on her – she’s a hardened fucking criminal for Christ’s sake. There’s no way her story could be true – unless she stole the gun for him first!”

And what’s even more annoying about the letdown of the witnesses testimony is the smug way Rosen presents it – like it’s just the most important thing the jury will ever hear during the case. He gets testimony that “Melissa was excited to be on TV” – and he gets a self satisfied look on his face like any minute now the Prosecution is just going to stand up, wave a white flag and say “God Help US! We give Up – We just can’t overcome THIS evidence, your honor.”

But, as usual, it’s Alan Jackson to wipe the smugness off Rosen’s face as he stands to cross examine the witness.

“You don’t like your sister very much, do you Miss Pileggi?”

Jackson then proceeds to discredit Angela Pileggi by getting her to admit that no, she and her sister do not speak anymore and that yes, she *adores* Phil Spector, which only seems to lend credence to her sister’s testimony that this woman is a paid flunkie.

Jackson then asks her if she adored Spector in 2004, and if she knew that her sister was lying about her testimony then. The witness says yes, and Jackson asks her “well, did you call the investigators and *tell* them that your sister was lying about this guy you adored?” The witness can only answer “No”, and answer “No” when Jackson asks her the same question using the year “2005.”

Jackson then asks her about the first contact she *did* have with investigators, and asks her if it was after she had called Phil Spector to ask him for a favor – to get her backstage passes to a Rolling Stones concert, to see her friend Keith Richards, who Spector had previously introduced her to (by the way, lending credibility to the drug allegations her sister made against her, I mean, really, Keith Richards? At this point it would have been better for the witness if she said she called Spector to ask about getting backstage to see Clay Aiken. Becauuse, you know, if you squint, doesn’t Phil Spector look like Clay Aiken 50 years from now?)

The witness says “yeah, it was after I asked him for the favor – but I’ve never received anything from him, never before and never since, and by the way, he never even called me back so I didn’t get the backstage passes so I could get high with – I mean, say HI to, my friend Keith Richards.”

Jackson then goes into the reason for the rift between this witness and her sister Melissa, and gets the witness to admit that she was “upset” with her sister after her sister sided with Angela’s ex-husband during their bitter custody dispute over Angela’s twin sons. Melissa took the ex husband’s side and voiced concerns for the welfare of the twins in light of Angela’s “drug

Then Alan Jackson asks the witness about her statement that Melissa “wanted to be on TV” and says “Did you realize that anyone can go to the LA Superior court website and see the motion that her attorney’s filed asking specifically that she *not* be shown on Television?”

“I wasn’t aware of that” says the witness. Yeah, I bet you weren’t.

And she and all her sibling rivalry issues are dismissed from the stand. Subject to recall.

And then Sarah Caplan makes her way to the witness stand. And the very first question, as innocuous as it seems, elicits a “I have to consult with my attorney”…

Jackson takes another tack and defers to her, and manages to get things to flow rather smoothly. She testifies basically the same way she did in earlier sessions, although one can tell she is totally underhwelmed and unthrilled to be there.

She testifies that she was at the house, along with her colleague Robert Shapiro, she was in the foyer under some klieg lights, noticed a small, white object with irregular edges, pointed it out to Henry Lee, and saw him pick it up with either tweezers or q-tips and place it in a cylindrical holder with no stopper.

She testifies that she doesn’t remember where exactly it came from, she doesn’t know what happened to it afterwards, she doesn’t know what it was and she doesn’t know what Lee did with it.

Linda Kenny Baden crosses Sara Caplan, and she immediately tries to take the heat off of Dr. Lee so he’ll come back and testify for her. She elicits from the witness that Caplan has known Lee since the early 90’s, that she’s worked with him several times before, and that she’s never known him to be anything besides the world’s greatest forensic criminologist. Which should surely have Lee packing for his return flight home.

Baden then asks Caplan if she has ever diagrammed this elusive white irregular object thing, and Caplan says no, but she did this morning, for Baden, in the hall. Baden then has her recreate this diagram, which ends up looking like some sort of amoeba with a V slot cut out of one side. I actually thought Baden was next going to have her diagram the flagella and the nucleus.

Baden then has Caplan compare her drawing and her recollection of the size of the object to a known picture of the missing acrylic fingernail. Caplan is adamant that the two pieces don’t line up.

Jackson re-directs the witness, reminding her that she never drew this item for the prosecution, nor did she compare what she remembered seeing to the known object that is missing. Caplan tells him no one asked her.

She leaves the stand, subject to recall. But she will be on vacation with her son, one assumes.

Next we have the third player in the trio of “10 Reasons I hate My Sister” sideshow. Cathi Pileggi takes the stand to back up everything Angela said. She is suffering from laryngitis, and croaks like a frog, which is distracting. She adds nothing new, just parrots “rib-peats”everything her sister said. (I slay me).

Next up another witness we saw during the prosecution case, Steve Rentaria retakes the stand to talk about the KM test for presumption of blood, the size of the blood droplets on the back of Spector’s white ladies dinner jacket, and goes through a painstaking description of every 1 millimeter and 2 millimeter drop of blood, throwing in a much larger 3 centimeter speck every once in a while just to break it up.

Jackson seems to know what Rosen is trying to prove with this witness, and it’s a good thing, because fuck if I know.

Then hang on to your seats, boys and girls, because here comes Miss Punkin Pie herself. Holy Shit.

Punkin takes the stand and identifies herself as Punkin Irene Elizabeth Laughlin, so it looks like her very, very good friend Jennifer Hayes isn’t as intimate with this friend, either, since she thought her legal name was Punkin Pie.

Miss Pie describes Lana as “my very best friend in the whole world ever”. Which actually makes sense, since she’s such good friends with Jennifer Hayes. These two seem to be from the same punkin patch. And Jennifer better take a long hard look at Punkin Pie, too, because this, baby, this is what you look like when the botox breaks down. Yeah, that’s right.

She relates that she knew Lana for 10 years, and that she became friends with Jennifer one or two years after she met Lana. She then says “Jennifer remembers better than I do”, which, of course, we already know, since Jennifer already testified that she’s Punkin’s memory.

The defense then showed her a series of pictures, each displaying the two of them together with drinks in their hands at various hot spots and nightclubs. The prosecution objects to one particular picture showing Lana looking a little droopy eyes, one would imagine from an overindulgence of alcohol, but the defense wins approval from the judge in a sidebar.

They get through publishing 6 pictures for the jury before the end of the court day.

And we have to wait until Monday to finish our Pie.

Hopefully Alan Jackson will bring out some of Pie’s baggage on cross examination, particularly the prosecution’s motion in liminae filed over this witness, which says that upon first being contacted by investigator’s, Pie had much different things to say about her “very very good friend” Lana Clarkson. She told investigators then that Lana was never suicidal, and her only bout with depression had been when she broke her wrists and was unable to work. The current story Pie has to tell wasn’t brought up until much later, when she was planning to write a book and was in talks with a “Spector associate” about how to handle the public relation aspects of marketing this book. Once the book idea was formulated she started talking about how Lana was suddenly “trained with weapons on the set in relation to her move roles”, and that Lana “was totally humiliated with her job at House of Blues” and that Lana actually told Pie she wanted to kill herself. Miss Pie also specifically admitted that she was writing a book about her role in the trial as a “witness with a controversial story to tell.”

I have a feeling Thanksgiving is coming early this year, and that Alan Jackson will enjoy his Punkin Pie.


13 Responses to “CA vs. Spector – Caplan Capitulates as Lee Flees”

  1. houdini said

    another pithy recap of the day’s events. however, i also see spector in the 4th circle of hell….avaricious, misers and spendthrifts. kind of like gypsys, tramps and thieves. the 4th circle describes what brought him to this place. avaricious with the people he stomped on to ascend to his castle, miserly with his adopted boys, and a major spendthrift with his attorneys.

    he should have copped a plea, but then none of us would have bonded over this tantalizing tale of woe!


  2. i also see spector in the 4th circle of hell….avaricious, misers and spendthrifts.

    Oh yes! Another good place for him! I don’t care which circle of hell he ends up in – as long as he’s close enough to the flames for his asss to feel the fire.


  3. Katy said

    Love your blog. I think Ms Pie is full of cow pie. How indrecible can one be when first she states the truth, Lana was not suicidal or depressed, the when the money and the defense investigator start talking, she changes her tune. PHOOEY!

    As far the sisters, who cares. The fact is MG testified to being held at gunpoint by Spector in a similiar way to three other women. That’s what counts. Noth some blathering from jealous siblings about a stupid stolen $20 plaque. GMAB

    Ms Caplan and Ms LKB have some ‘splainin to do. Isn’t that drawing LKB had to remind SC about discoverable evidence? Shouldn’t that have been shared with the prosecution prior to SC testimony today? SC skirted very closely to perjury today. IMO

  4. Bob E. said

    Kim, I don’t know where you are getting the pictures that accompany your court reports, but your choices are priceless…each one speaks volumes both about the person and about the procedings, and vividly bolster your summary of the case. Your reports are the only source of info I am seeing about the trial (our newspaper has nothing, and I don’t ever see any reports on our TV news), and the pics are just the icing on the cake. Thanks for all your effort!

  5. C Marino said

    I wonder why Lana Clarkson’s two best girlfriends never showed emotion (cried) when they spoke of their dead best friend?

  6. I wonder why Lana Clarkson’s two best girlfriends never showed emotion (cried) when they spoke of their dead best friend?

    You know, I think that’s the most legitimate and telling point of all.

    I’ve been going through boxes and boxes of pictures since we’ve moved, and I came across a box of pictures that included some snapshots of me and my best friend in High School. She died shortly after graduation in a car wreck on New Year’s Eve. I saw the pictures of her and I – and I sat there with them and cried and cried looking at them. And Charyl has been gone over 20 years.

    For Pie to sit there so emotionless “This and me and her at my birthday, this is us in Jamaica…” as if she was describing furniture was rather jarring, don’t you think?


  7. noor b said

    “I have a feeling Thanksgiving is coming early this year, and that Alan Jackson will enjoy his Punkin Pie.”

    Thanks for the fantastic and funny reading for me this morning.
    Wow, you’re good.

    I love the observations you make, and then translate it for us, that it’s like reading the best book ever, and you never want the book to end.

    I’ll be reading every single word you write.
    Thanks Kim.

  8. fishguy said

    Miz Pie should correct the spelling of her “very best friend/soulmate’s” name on her MySpace page. Sheesh.

  9. Marie said

    Regarding Rentaria’s testimony, did you mean to say “3 *milli*meter speck”? Because a “3 centimeter” speck is more than an inch wide, a bit more than a speck.

    Did Angela Pileggi *really* say “get high with — I mean say Hi to”? If so, that would have been utterly hilarious. If that’s your paraphrasing (with “this is what she *oughta* say”, that’s hilarious, too, but it’s to your credit, rather than her fuckup.

  10. IonaTrailer said


    And that’s my final word.

  11. anna said

    thank you for that, I haven’t laughed that much over any internet article …

    … Lee back to China with or without the nail which they probably ground up as per some bizarre ancient Chinese medicinal product and ate it. It’s an ancient Chinese custom from the old days I kid you not, that to eat a piece of your enemy – is to mystically overcome them. Perhaps Phil did get some of Lana after all. It would be his deviant style, from one of those circles of hell. Don’t think this doesn’t go on, esp. in the circles of the Hollywood ‘deviant elite’.

  12. You know, Kim, I could be watching this live on local TV, or even on the Court Channel, but I really prefer your version. I’m certain I learn more from you and I’m positive you’re a lot funnier.

    Thanks for all your work in entertaining and informing us of what’s going on. I just wish I knew what the jury was making of all this.

    Incidentally, if you ever decide to kill someone in Los Angeles County, do it in the City of Los Angeles, not in a contract city or an unincorporated area. You, the murderer, would much rather have the LAPD investigating, rather than the LASO. (The Nicole Simpson et al. case being an example.) The Sheriff’s Office is about twice as likely to catch you as is the LAPD. maybe more.

  13. I just wish I knew what the jury was making of all this.

    Oh gosh, don’t you though? Some of the talking heads have said that they take a lot of notes, and they report when the jurors laugh or shake their heads in disbelief, and many have said that the jurors seem to really like the Prosecutor Alan Jackson (but who wouldn’t, the guy is the ultimate in sexy – brains and humor and so, so cute), but I would love to know what the jurors make of all this.

    The Sheriff’s Office is about twice as likely to catch you as is the LAPD. maybe more.

    I will keep that in mind. But I would also hope I wouldn’t have Jackson prosecuting me. The guy is scary good.


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