The Darwin Exception

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

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CA vs. Spector – “She Looks Peaceful!” – “Doctor, She’s Dead”

Posted by thedarwinexception on July 26, 2007

Werner Spitz may be a forensic pathologist. He may even be a good one. But after today’s completion of his cross examination, he gets a new certificate of competency – he can now be called the “King of Evasiveness”. I think he lied to Alan Jackson yesterday – he doesn’t get paid by the day, he gets paid by the word, and he’s determined to squeeze every “da doo run run” penny out of Phillip Spector.

And Spitz will not concede a thing. He won’t even concede bullshit petty stuff like “Lana was long legged, right?” No, Spitz prefers to ramble, to evade, to say, “well, it’s a possibility” to the point where you are quite convinced that if Jackson asked the Dr. if his name was Werner Spitz, Spitz would not concede that, either, rather responding with “Well, that is what my parents they tell me, and when I was in the first grade, this is what they called me, but, without seeing the documents, sir, I can only assume that this is so….” Paid by the day, my ass. He’s getting paid by the word.

Alan Jackson deftly handles this evasiveness, though, trying to cut him off, objecting a few times that the witness is being non responsive, even pleading to the sensibilities of the witness, telling him “We’ll get through this a lot faster, Dr. if you just answer my questions”, then when the Doctor says “Well, I would like that, too”, Jackson remembers the doctor’s fee schedule and says “well, but that’s another $5,000 for you, isn’t it?”

The doctor holds steadfastly in his opinion that this was a suicide, nimbly twisting the facts and circumstances to fit a preconceived theory, and turning a blind eye to any scenario or possibility that would dare contradict what he holds to be true.

Jackson narrows the doctor down to the 4 things that the doctor considered as “physical evidence” when making his determination that she shot herself – those 4 things are that she had gunpowder on her hands, she had blood on her hands, she had tissue on her sleeves and that she had an intra oral wound. 

Jackson tries to explain that the *statistic* that intra oral wounds are more likely to be suicides is not physical evidence, but the doctor refuses to concede this, and insists that it is physical evidence as far as he is concerned – as is the fact that Spector didn’t’ meet the qualifications of being the one who pulled the trigger. When Jackson defines this as a “conclusion” not physical evidence, Spitz again refuses to budge and says “no, in his mind, that’s physical evidence”.

Jackson then very skillfully proceeds to tear down each of the 4 things the doctor has claimed is all the physical evidence he used in drawing his conclusion. He points out that the gunpowder on Lana’s hands does not only point to the fact that she pulled the trigger, that this physical evidence could also point to the fact that her hands were raised in a defensive position and they would still be in the path of the smoke, debris and gunpowder residue that the gun emitted.

Spitz, ever the evasive witness says “Well, that would depend – I am not a firearms expert, it would depend on where the gunshot residue was found on the hands.”

Jackson asks the doctor to *assume* that that the gunshot residue was found on the back of both hands and the webbing of the hands, if this was the case, would that scenario then support a conclusion that her hands were up in a defensive position?”

Never giving an inch, Spitz then asks if there was gunshot residue on the front of the hands as well, because gunshot residue on the back would not be unexpected – gunshot residue on the front would be unexpected, but not gunshot residue on the back.

Jackson then points out to the doctor that the doctor said the GSR was one of the physical evidence elements that he said he used in forming his conclusions – “Are you now saying, Doctor, that you don’t even know where the GSR was taken from?”

Jackson asks the doctor if the fact that there is blood on the back of Lana Clarkson’s wrists could also point to the conclusion that she had her hands up in a defensive position.

The doctor, clinging to his theory and earning his “da do run run” money says that “No, this doesn’t have to be the case, that she could have been holding the gun with both hands as I testified earlier.”

Which really pisses Jackson off and gets him fired up. It’s one thing for a paid expert to give an opinion, it’s one thing to draw conclusions from the evidence and reasonably be able to concede that there are certainly other interpretations, but put forth your own as the most logical or most reasonable. That is not the way this witness is testifying.. He is refusing to consider any other explanation, refusing to concede that reasonable inferences can be drawn other than the one he is proposing, and it’s really, really fucking aggravating and makes him look like he really is giving “testi-money” and nothing more.

Jackson asks him “You aren’t testifying as an advocate, are you? You have no vested interest in this case, do you? That $45 thousand dollars isn’t going to sway your testimony, is it?”

The good doctor sputters and spurts and shoots back that of course it isn’t going to sway his testimony. “I don’t need the money, sir!” he says. I don’t care about money – I do pro bono work all the time!”

And Jackson shoots right back – “Well, you didn’t care enough to do this case pro bono, now did you?”

With the implication that this guy is just a paid advocate hanging in the air, which maybe tempers Spitz’s advocacy a tiny bit, he finally concedes that yes, the blood on the back of Lana’s hands could also imply that she had her hands up in a defensive position.

Jackson then asks him about the last piece of physical evidence that led him to conclude that Lana shot herself – the tissue on the sleeves. Jackson asks Spitz if Spitz was aware that this tissue on the sleeve had been attributed to blood flow by the other experts. Spitz says “I don’t know about that – blood is blood and tissue is something else.”

Jackson then asks him if he is aware that the tissue on the sleeve is in a flow pattern, and that a flow pattern stain of tissue or blood wouldn’t really give any insight into the gunshot itself, since any tissue or blood in  a flow pattern had to have occurred after the shot.”

Spitz says that any contamination by purging or other expelling of blood and tissue after the event is objectionable as evidence. But he says that he fails to understand how the rolling over of the body and the purging of the blood would contaminate the area with tissue – he says “the way I reaosn it is that there was tissue on both shoulders and the blood contaminated the area later.”

We were also treated early in the day to another of Jackson’s little courtroom demonstrations, when he tried to have the doctor explain his testimony yesterday that the positioning of Lana’s legs was different when the gun was discharged than it is in the photographs taken later. Jackson asks the doctor to explain what he bases that on and exactly what position he believes were legs were in.

Jackson sits in a chair and asks the doctor what position his legs should be in to replicate how he believes Lana’s legs were at the time of the shot. Spitz says the legs were probably “tucked under her”, and he rambles on saying “I am tot tally aware of situations where people who have been sitting when they died have their legs stretched and because her dress is ruffled and bunched as she came sliding down in chair – then her legs were presumably under her at the time the shot was fired because there was no gunpowder residue reside or blood that I am aware of on the parts that were not accessible – so legs must have been bent under her.”

Jackson lets him ramble on to the point of incoherency, and he finally says to the doctor

“Isn’t another explanation that the blood didn’t spray that far?” Making his explanation sound so succinct and so simple after the long rambling explanation of Doctor Spitz that one can’t help but think that this is the more reasonable interpretation.

The doctor says that if this was the explanation – he would still be left with the problem of how the skirt got bunched up that way – above her knees the way it was. He opines that since he has often seen people do that – die and then move their head, move their arms, move their lower extremities, that the simple explanation is that her legs were tucked under her, and then her lower extremities moved after death to the splayed out position she was found in.

Jackson asks him, with doubt in his voice –  “You’ve seen someone shot to death and the head moved back and forth and the extremities moved around?”

The doctor says “Oh, yes! I have an example right here – on a disc! It was photographed by the police – but, of course, I’ve seen it in other situations, too.”

“Where did this man shoot himself – this police example that you have?”

“In the head” says the doctor, as he points to his temple.

“This wound did not dissect his spine, right?”

“Well, no, the shot was in the temple.”

“But Lana’s spine was involved, right? These are two different wounds, aren’t they? Electrical impulses from his brain could still travel down his spine, couldn’t they? Hers couldn’t..”

“This is correct but irrelevant,” the doctor pronounces – “Transmission from the spine have nothing to do with it.”

I think Jackson is as confused at this statement as I am – because he finally comes out swinging and says to the doctor “Couldn’t her skirt have been hiked up around her thighs because there was a GUN IN HER FACE and she was voluntarily retreating – shrinking back in the chair and as she retreated she slid downwards?”

Again the doctor uses one of those head scratching answers and he says “if you saw the evidence that I have you wouldn’t ask me that.” And this answer makes me really wonder what the hell he’s talking about. He then goes on to explain himself – one hopes – and he says that the likelihood of her retreating in the chair is remote – that these kind of leg movements are not that infrequent.

Jackson asks the witness if he knows how long the skirt was when Lana was standing. The witness says he has no idea. Jackson asks him to assume that from the evidence of a videotape at the House of Blues that the skirt came at least down to the middle of her thigh. Jackson then asks him to concede that when she was sitting that the skirt would be even shorter than that – Jackson coins a new phrase and calls this “fashion physics”. And the doctor says he is not much “into fashion”.

Jackson then takes the witness down the path to his next point – that it doesn’t really matter where Lana’s feet or calves were at the time of the shot, because according to “fashion physics” and the length of her skirt, the thighs to the knees would have been exposed no matter how far her skirt was “bunched up”, and there was no blood found on either her thighs or knees.

Jackson then tells the witness that there had been earlier testimony, through James Pex, a defense expert, that if there was no blood or spatter or gunshot residue found any lower than the hem of the skirt, then the spatter did not go further than that. That the outer boundary of the spatter range was the hem of the skirt. Jackson tells Spitz that Stuart James, a defense expert,  also testified that the spatter stopped at the hemline.

Spitz admits that he did not review their testimony.

Jackson asks the doctor to assume that the spatter stopped at the hem of the skirt, that nothing was found past this boundary – and if this was true then it wouldn’t matter where her legs were or where they moved to, that this would not be a determining factor in his mind.

Spitz says that this factor is just another link in his chain of thoughts. That her slipping down on the seat with her skirt bunched up – he doesn’t buy that this is a defensive position, in view of what else is going on here, that it’s not plausible to assume that this is a defensive position.

Jackson is incredulous when he asks that doctor “You don’t think it’s plausible that if someone has a gun in their face in a threatening manner that they would retreat, that they might slip down in the chair, that they my cower away?”

The doctor then shares the most bizarre exchange of the trial yet when he says to Jackson: “She doesn’t look defensive – she is in a peaceful position in the photos”.

Jackson then almost blurts out “Well She’s DEAD Doctor! She’s peaceful NOW! I’m talking about the few minutes before she died.”

“Well, if someone held a gun in my face, I wouldn’t be sitting there waiting for the gun to go off. Just cowering, I would be running away – all reasonable people would agree with that, and all reasonable people would act in a similar manner. They would be fighting back.”

“Doctor, are you aware that we have in this case at least four other similar situations, where Phil Spector was holding guns on women and in all four of those situations, the women did not fight back, they shut up, sat down, went upstairs, disrobed and otherwise did exactly as he asked them to. None of these women fought back while he had a gun held on them. Are you aware of that?”

“I am aware of a history of several situations where a gun was involved with other women – but I am not aware of the positions they were in.”

“So you weren’t provided with a history of the other situations of Phillip Spector with guns on women?”

“I was provided with the history, but I am not aware of whether they were sitting or standing or whatever.”

Jackson tries to get back on track with getting the witness to talk about the hem of the dress and the periphery of the blood spray. He asks the witness again if the blood spatter was limited to a distance about as far as the hem of the skirt and blood spatter experts said that the defendant had High Velocity blood spatter on his jacket – would Spitz then place the jacket within the boundary of the hem of the skirt.”

The witness will not budge on this issue, and he refuses to either accept the parameters of the hypothetical, accept what the prior witnesses had testified to, or accept the definitions and classifications of the blood that the expert blood spatter witnesses attributed to different stains.

Jackson asks Spitz if he understands that he is the *only* witness who has testified that there was expirated blood in this case. That this had never come up before Spitz testified that Lana had expirated blood. That no one else has said that the blood on the jacket was expirated blood.

Spitz says he did not know that.

Jackson tells him that Pena never mentioned expirated blood and Spitz tells Jackson that although Pena might not have testified as to expirated blood, he most certainly and unequivocally described it.

Jackson tells Spitz that no, in his testimony, Pena said that she could *not* have expirated blood.

Spitz says Pena “implies” expirated blood in his report.

Jackson asks how she could expirate blood if she could not breathe out, and Spitz explains to him that if you breathe in, you have to breathe out. And that he is trying to explain to Jackson what is possible and not possible.

Jackson then asks if this was expirated blood on the jacket – then where was the jacket? Won’t expirated blood only go a few inches?

Spitz says that depends on the force behind it, and Jackson says that there *is* no force behind it.

Spitz then goes into a long explanation of the “last gasp” before death. When you are experiencing this “last gasp” coughing, you are terminally expelling the last of the air and material in your mouth and lungs- your lips have no tone and your mouth while not totally closed, but looks like it is closed. How far would that material be projected? Spitz says maybe 2 to 3 feet – but it depends on the intensity with which that terminal cough would have – that it’s not only “a few inches”.

Jackson then asks about what if this was not expirated blood, but impact spatter – if impact spatter ended up on the jacket – with the same pattern as is present on the hem of the skirt – well, then, where would *that* place the jacket?

“The impact spatter occurs from a shot in the the mouth, which will have a containment of the initial materials, blood, spinal fluid, tissue, gun powder, smoke, all those things in a confined place. This can build up and when released can be projected for 6 feet or more.’

Jackson responds with “So, and you are not an expert in blood spatter, but in your opinion, even if there was no blood found *anywhere* beyond the hem of Lana Clarkson’s skirt -t here was no blood on her thighs, no blood on her calves, no blood on her feet or her shoes or the carpet underneath her – even so, the jacket can still be six feet away and have blood on the left side of it?”

“Yes, that’s what I am saying, because the velocity of the blood – you wouldn’t expect to have it close by the source – you would expect it to be farther away.”

“So, the spray came out of Lana Clarkson’s mouth, and Phillip Spector was just *so* unlucky that here he was, 6 feet away from her, and all of this spray ended up on his jacket – but nowhere else – not behind him or in front of him or below him or above him – Just on Him??”

“Well, when you say all of it – you make it sound like you have a bucket full – he has all of 18 spots on him, which includes some spots that have been described as transfers.”

“So in your opinion , doctor, and you agree that all of the experts – even the defense experts – they all say that Lana has spatter on her dress – and what you are telling this jury is that when the gun went off, spatter came out her mouth, and some landed on her dress, but the rest of this spatter – it JUMPED and skipped her thighs and her knees and her calves and her shoes and JUMPED and missed the carpet and all of this spatter landed on Phillip Spector’s jacket?”

“You are probably correct in that description – but it didn’t have to jump, the amount of spray she had was quite small – it came out of her mouth and a little dripped down some spray onto the hem of her dress…”

“So it changed trajectory? It went DOWN on her dress and then completely made a 180 degree turn and flew across the room 6 feet to get onto  the jacket?”

“Well, now you are making it sound like those people who criticized the so called magic bullet theory in the Kennedy assassination …”

“Please, doctor, let’s not get into the Kennedy assassination – we have enough problems in this trial…”

“You are aware, Doctor, are you not, that Stuart James, a PAID defense expert, a man highly regarded in his field, COMPLETELY disagrees with you. He says, in fact, that the spatter pattern on the jacket, which is millimeter and sub millimeter in size, is consistent with a high velocity spatter. Are you aware of that?”

“I did not discuss that with him”.

“Doctor, I don’t care what you discussed with other witnesses outside of this courtroom – are you aware that this was his testimony before the jury?”

“No, I am not aware of that.”

“Would you defer to those experts in other areas and sciences that have more expertise than you?”

“At this point, I don’t know what I’m deferring and not deferring – all I know is that if I saw something for myslef, I would not defer, and I know that this can happen.”

“Really? How many times have you seen blood spatter come out and then skip all these targets and find another target and then change trajectory and find another target?”

“Not spray that deliberately as you put it changes trajectory – you are assigning volition to something that has no volition…”

“Doctor, isn’t it a more reasonable inference just that simply put Phillip Spector’s jacket was closer in proximity to the blood letting event?”

“No – because he would have more than 18 little spots on him – you would have a different density – you would have a large amount of tissue…:”

“Doctor, didn’t you say yesterday that there was very little blood spatter in this case?”

“I don’t remember saying that.”

“Well, wouldn’t you agree that the blood spatter in this case would be limited?”

“It would be limited to that which would occur from a wound by a .38 caliber missile into an area that is highly vasculated and under arterial pressure – and this is like a garden hose, these arteries, and when these arteries are cut, the blood can be like a garden hose under pressure and the blood can easily reach a ceiling 12 feet high.”

 “Well Doctor, she didn’t cut an artery, so that is irrelevant.”

“It is not irrelevant at all – no, she didn’t cut the jugular or the carotid, but every artery is under the same pressure.”

“So where is all the blood on the ceiling? Where is the blood on the carpet?”

“Her head wasn’t pointing at the ceiling.”

It is at this point that I discount everything else this witness has to say. He’s done, over, finished, kaput, Jackson has chewed him up and Spitz’ed him out. There’s only so much BS you can take in one sitting – and I ain’t talking “Blood Spatter”.

I truly think the guy is a nut job with nothing to add besides a bill for Spector.

He does go on to admit that he never actually saw the dress or the jacket and Jackson asks him if it might be a good idea, before the doctor comes into the courtroom to start testifying about garden hoses squirting blood 12 feet and blood spatter jumping over feet and carpet and knees, if it might not be a good idea to actually look at the evidence he’s testifying about – and Spitz says he doesn’t really need to, since he talks to the other experts in the case and he sees photos.

Jackson also explains to the doctor that Dr. Pena, before testifying, consulted with 2 neuropathologists – brain specialists  – who told Pena that when Lana Clarkson sustained her wound that she was immediately dead and that she had a transection of the spine – which meant that she had no volitional movement and she could not expirate blood.

Spitz says that he came to the conclusion that she expirated blood on the slides and the naked eye examination that Pena wrote about in his autopsy report. The alveoli were full of blood, this meant that she had to have expirated blood. There was no other way for the blood to get into her lungs – no other way.

Jackson asks the witness if Lana Clarkson was upright after her death – and evasive and stubborn Spitz even refuses to concede this – he has to be led into it before he finally agrees that sitting upright in a chair is “generally upright”.

Jackson asks what happens to the esophagus and the vocal cords after her spine was transected.

Spitz says that the esophagus is a muscle and it is always closed unless you swallow and would probably be halfway closed – not open. It is a soft muscular tube and when it is not being used it is relaxed with a passage in it.

Jackson asks the doctor if it is true that once it relaxes it becomes open and flaccid. The doctor will say only “partly open”.

Jackson then asks the doctor that since she was shot in essentially the back of the throat, if it would be true that she would continue to bleed from the back of her throat, even after death, and that some of that bleeding would continue down the back of the throat.

The doctor says, yeah, it would continue down the back of the throat – some of it would – it would follow the path of least resistance, which would be the back of the throat.

The doctor agrees that the force of gravity would pull the blood down the back of the throat and that some of the blood would go into the primary and secondary bronchial tubes. He refuses to concede that it would go into the tertiary bronchial tubes  – because these tubes lead directly to the alveoli that Pena found full of blood and that the doctor said “proved” that Lana Clarkson expirated after death. He will grant Jackson the primary and secondary bronchial tubes – but no way is he giving him the tertiary – even after Jackson points out that Lana was sitting in that chair, with gravity working on that blood for almost 12 hours before she was moved.

Spitz says he doesn’t care how long she was sitting there – in his experience with autopsies, in order for blood to occur in quantities of the portions found in this case, it does not happen by gravity.

Jackson then uses the old standby of quoting the doctor to himself from his book. He takes the following quote from the doctor’s book and asks if he agrees with it:  The presence of gunshot residue does not prove someone fired a gun and the absence of gunshot residue does not prove they did not.

Once the doctor agrees with the statement – (doesn’t he have to?) Jackson asks him if he is aware that there is evidence, through the diaper and the wetting of the diaper, that Spector wiped his hands that evening. Spitz, of course, doesn’t concede anything, and says that it’s even debatable that GSR can be wiped off.

Jackson gets into a debate with the doctor, finally getting him to agree that all the literature agrees that with normal activity – putting ones hands in pockets, driving a car, walking around, handling keys or money, that 90% of GSR can be wiped off within an hour.

Jackson addresses the acrylic nail issue, and again, it takes 20 minutes for Spitz to even agree that an alternative interpretation of the evidence is that the nail was broken off in a struggle, and that this was just as likely an alternative as the nail breaking when she pushed the trigger. But he doesn’t even really agree with this – he still adds that it’s *more* consistent with a recoil than a struggle.

Jackson then asks Spitz about all the *other* physical evidence – the evidence that he *didn’t* mention when he listed the 4 things that convinced him that Lana Clarkson shot herself. The fact that it was Spector’s house, and Spector’s gun, and Lana was stranger  there, and she didn’t know where any weapons would be in the house, that she was fully clothed and by the door with her purse over her shoulder, that after she was killed Spector went around the house depositing blood everywhere – on the door, on the latch, on the banister, that he retrieved a diaper and attempted to clean the scene, that the diaper was wetted, that the gun was wiped down, that there was blood in his pockets, and that he never called for help in the 40 minutes between the time she was shot and the time the police subdued him. Jackson also mentions the statement to the driver – and Spitz agrees that Spector told the driver “I think I killed somebody”.

And Jackson then asks Spitz – these are all items of evidence that you didn’t mention when you gave us a list of the things you considered when making your opinion.

Spitz says he doesn’t consider statements when rendering decisions, because statements are subject to interpretation.

Jackson asks him about everything else he just mentioned, he didn’t say he considered any of these things when coming to his conclusions.

Spitz says “That is correct, and the reason is that there are facts there and that the fact that she was in his house doesn’t change my opinion.”

“So none of this has any impact on your decision?”

“No.”

“Is it important to consider that there were only two people in the room?”

“Yes, they were both able to pull the trigger – one did, and one didn’t.”

“And is it important to maintain a level of objectivity and look at all the evidence?”

“Yes”

“So, given that there are two people and you looked at background of Lana Clarkson  – did you look at his history?”

“I am aware that there were in the past some number of years ago, there were some episodes which I classified as unusual and stupid but that does not reflect on this case -”

Jackson then outlined the four pattern witnesses stories again – highlighting the similarities between their cases and Lana’s story – that he was angry, that one of the women happened to be sitting in a chair the same as Lana, that he was always drinking, that the women were always ready to leave, and that he always threatened them with a gun, actually pressing a gun against one of the women’s heads. Jackson then asked the witness if he considered this pattern of violence when making his conclusions.

Spitz says he considered them along with all the other evidence.

“And you ignored it for the the purpose of your conclusion. And notwithstanding that you considered all this violent history and the similarities between these cases your opinion is still that she committed suicide.”

“I wouldn’t say suicide – I’d say she shot herself.”

Plourd gets up to redirect – and it’s pretty much a regurgitation of everything from direct – and Spitz revels in the chance to spout his opinions without having them challenged and having them so obviously respected.

Plourd immediately asks him about the statement he made yesterday wherein he would “reevaluate his opinion” if Spector could be proved to be closer. He testifies that he *did* reevaluate his opinion – he even made a list – and surprise! – he came to the same conclusions.

Plourd allows him to read off his list – something Jackson didn’t allow him to do on cross – and Spitz goes down this long laundry list of all the reasons Spector did not pull the trigger – including such definitive items as “There was no GSR in his ear canals” which makes no sense at all since his ears, of course, were not tested for GSR – and neither were his pants, his shoes or his socks  which are also on the “definitive list of why Spector could not have pulled the trigger.”

Plourd also allows Spitz to explain his earlier testimony to Jackson that “statements made are unreliable” – he asks the Doctor if this would include the fact that the driver had “trouble with his English” and Spitz agrees that he believes this was so.

On recross, Jackson keeps the questioning relatively  short – asking mostly about this “list” the Doctor made and read – asking him if Plourd helped him come up with this list. The doctor insists that no one helped him, that it was made as a response to Jackson asking him to re-evaluate his opinion, but then he contradicts himself and says “he always had the list”, so Jackson tells him it couldn’t be a “re-evaluation”, it’s just a regurgitation, if the list was always there.

Jackson then points out to him that many things on the “list” aren’t even relevant, and that before the jury gets the wrong idea, he wants to straighten out some things – like the fact that most of the items on the list that the Doctor says have an absence of GSR weren’t even tested for GSR. The doctor says he realizes this, yes.

Jackson also asks about the GSR, or lack thereof, in the ears, and asks the doctor if this means that they can assume that Spector didn’t pull the trigger with his ears.

Jackson then goes back to the history of Spector and why the doctor didn’t consider this, and he now includes Tanazzo’s statement about the “cunts” and how they “all need a bullet in their heads”.

He asks the doctor if he had heard this statement before – and the doctor says yeah, he heard it. And Jackson asks if he considered it, and the doctor says “Let me put it this way – I took notice of it – but I found very little if any relevance to the events of 10 years later.”

Jackson then says “Doctor, Lana Clarkson died of a bullet in the head, did she not?”

“Yes.”

Plourd can do little to recover form that, so he asks the doctor about his work with SIDS and how many children’s lives he has saved with his research – at least until Jackson objects on grounds of relevancy and is sustained.

And we have a new witness –

Enrique Guarez – an Alhambra police officer who was in charge of the day shift the day Lana died. I don’t know why the defense called him, all he testified to was that Phil asked for his white jacket when he was at the police station so he could get phone numbers out of the pocket.

The prosecution, though, got this officer to testify that when he saw Spector at the police station, he was intoxicated, slurring his words, stumbling, had watery bloodshot eyes and smelled of alcohol.

So, like I said, I don’t know why the defense called him. Unless they are setting up some big “the police planted blood on his jacket since they had it” defense. Whih at this point, might not be a bad idea. They aren’t getting anywhere with the whole “accidental suicide” thing.

We are done with court for the week, and there will be no new testimony until Tuesday. Which is kind of a good thing. I really need the break.

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27 Responses to “CA vs. Spector – “She Looks Peaceful!” – “Doctor, She’s Dead””

  1. noor b said

    Awesome!

    Maybe the defense put the last witness of today on to try to sneak in some of the statements Phil made to the police after his arrest.

    I think that’s why there was called for a sidebar.
    The judge has told the defense over and over again, these statements will not come in, unless Phil takes the stand.

    Well, whatever the reasoning for the defense was to put this last witness on the stand it sure backfired.

    And as far as this “doc”, is concerned, well, you put it all in a box. ha ha

    Thanks Kim, you’re the best.

  2. noor b said

    Oh, I forgot to mention, the defense asked the doctor at the very end, if he had noticed the finger print on the bottom of Lana’s brand new shoe.
    It was never identified…..
    What a mystery that is.
    Did the sales person kill Lana?

  3. Skip said

    You’re such a joy to read. You’re not only an excellent writer, your insight is awesome.

  4. Kathy said

    I am so glad I found your column and what a pleasure it is to read. I know a beautiful person, Lana Clarkson, was murdered and I am sorry for the family.However, I always have a good chuckle with your column and this one was the best. But than you had such a good comedian (Dr.Spitz)and the rest of his defense team today. As for Dr. Spitz guestioning De Souza’s English… several times I was screaming at the TV, “Do you not understand English?”

  5. Lovey Von Doodlesocks said

    Wow! Kim, I don’t know how you do it! Like all your other Spector trial blog entries – this is an incredible recap of today’s court happenings. You get every detail down to the letter and yet it reads like a good book that I can’t put down. Since discovering your blog I’ve made it my evening ritual before bed to put on my jammies, relax, sit down at my computer and read your blog. You really are a talented and engaging writer! Your blog is like a two-for-one; I get caught up on today’s trial happenings and am entertained at the same time. The humor and comic relief you disperse throughout your blog always catches me off guard and cracks me up till I almost pee my jammie bottoms. Thanks for sharing your writing with (and your thoughts) with all of us! You totally rock! Love ya!

  6. Lana Lewis said

    Holy Smokes! This is amazing. You summed up so much in such a short amount of time. I am impressed!

  7. Sprocket said

    Hysterical coverage Kim! I loved reading every word of it!

  8. […] very much with the web site – let alone find out how it works. TheDarwinException (latest post here) uses the same WordPress software as I do and if you compare our two sites you can see how good it […]

  9. HVS said

    It all looks sleazy, but isn’t this whole line of testimony simply an attempt to establish an alternative — any alternative — to the prosecution’s scenario?

    Either here or in AFCA, you provided an extremely enlightening summary of the California law on acquittals: AIUI, all the defence has to do is to convince one or more of the jurors that their “possible scenario” is possible — not that it’s likely, or even more likely than the prosecution’s, just that it’s a possible alternative — and Spector automatically walks.

    So it doesn’t really matter if Spitz (or any other witness) comes across as a carpetbagging, sleazy rent-a-witness: all the defence in California has to do is to convince that one of their alternative scenarios — whilst perhaps unlikely — is possible, and the accused (as I understood from your explanation) *must* be freed.

    Have I understood that correctly?

    Assuming I have understood it, the defence could be playing a very smart game: “We know you don’t like our witnesses; we know you think they’ve been bought; but that’s all beside the point: you must ask yourself whether the scenario they’ve outlined is possible — not whether you think it’s right or wrong, just whether it *could* have happened that way”.

  10. It all looks sleazy, but isn’t this whole line of testimony simply an attempt to establish an alternative — any alternative — to the prosecution’s scenario?

    That’s it exactly. All they have to do is have one juror sitting in the deliberation room saying “Well, she *could* have committed suicide….” And Phillip walks free.

    Either here or in AFCA, you provided an extremely enlightening summary of the California law on acquittals: AIUI, all the defence has to do is to convince one or more of the jurors that their “possible scenario” is possible — not that it’s likely, or even more likely than the prosecution’s, just that it’s a possible alternative — and Spector automatically walks.

    That was in AFCA – but you got it. Here is the pertinent text of CALJIC 2.01

    “If the circumstantial evidence [as to any particular count] permits two reasonable interpretations, one of which points to the defendant’s guilt and the other to [his] [her] innocence, you must adopt that interpretation that points to the defendant’s innocence, and reject that interpretation that points to [his] [her] guilt.”

    So, all the defense has to do is convince ONE juror that it’s reasonable that Lana Clarkson committed suicide. To that end, they bring in her BFF’s to say she was despondant and suicidal, they get an expert to put the gun in her hand (realizing that the prosecution’s experts can’t put the gun in ANYONE’S hand), and bring on a blood spatter expert to say “Yup, the blood says she did it herself”, and VIOLA, they get an acquittal.

    Because as long as there are two REASONABLE scenario’s, the jury ALWAYS has to adopt the one that favors the defendant.

    Of course, *I* don’t think it’s reasonable to think that Lana killed herself, but what am I really basing that on?

    I’m basing it on the “pattern witnesses”, the fact that he didn’t call for help, the fact that the gun was wiped down and the driver’s testimony of what he heard Spector say – those are the things that reasonably allow me to believe that Spector is guilty.

    Now, that may be “reasonable” thinking – but let’s look at the other side.

    Lana Clarkson was a struggling actress, she was 40, she was not a “Star”, one could say she was no longer even a “Starlet”, having been forced to take a job as a hostess at a Nightclub.

    She was depressed. All of her friends knew she was depressed, she had threatened to “end it all” according to her BFF, Pie.

    She left the club after work with Phil Spector – she was taking Vicodin and she started drinking. Her BAC was .12 at her autopsy, so we know she was legally intoxicated at the time of her death.

    We have had evidence that inhibitions are lowered while drinking and on drugs – and we already know she was depressed and prone to crying on people’s shoulders. She goes to Phil’s house and as she is waiting at the back door for the driver to take her home, she sees a gun in a drawer. She picks up the gun, thinks to herself “You know, my hero Marilyn Monroe is adored and loved by millions of people partly because of the tragic circustances of her death. Maybe if I killed myself the way she did, I would finally be famous. I’ve wanted to kill myself, anyway, what better way to go out in a blaze of glory than to die at some famous guy’s house? I know he must be a big shot, that guy at the House of Blues told me “Treat Him Golden” – the guy has to *be* somebody, right? And here I am all drunk and foggy from the drugs, and I’m not thinking clearly, I’ll just do it – fuck it, I hate this town, anyway.” BANG.

    Reasonable? We have one expert saying “The gun was in her hand”, we have another expert saying “The blood spatter shows only she could have fired the gun”, so is it *reasonable* to assume they are right? And it doesn’t even have to be MORE reasonable than any other scenario – it just has to be reasonable.

    The rule doesn’t say – “if there are two reasonable scenarios – pick the one you like best.” It doesn’t say “If there are two reasonable scenarios, pick the one that is more likely, or has the most evidence supporting it”, no, the rule says “If there are two reasonable scenarios, you must adopt that interpretation that points to the defendant’s innocence”.

    It’s a really, really low standard, but it worked for Oj, didn’t it?

    Kim

  11. HVS said

    Thanks; I thought I read your explanation in AFCA, but wasn’t sure.

    It is indeed a ludicrously low standard, but if the defence didn’t try that angle, they wouldn’t be doing their job. It must also be being done with an eye to appeals: if he’s convicted and they can show that either the direction or the deliberations were based on “which reasonable scenario was the more reasonable”, it would presumably be grounds for an automatic quashing of the verdict.

    Harvey

  12. Dave said

    The more that Spitz spits, the more my curiosity is aroused about what Henry Lee actually determined. Maybe the headline for this segment should read “Dr. Lee “Spitz” in Spector defense’s face.”

    Do we yet have a scenario where either side will have grounds for appeal, no matter what the verdict?

  13. The more that Spitz spits, the more my curiosity is aroused about what Henry Lee actually determined. Maybe the headline for this segment should read “Dr. Lee “Spitz” in Spector defense’s face.”

    Well, I was going to use “Jackson Spitz Out Another Witness”, but I thought it was too easy.

    Do we yet have a scenario where either side will have grounds for appeal, no matter what the verdict?

    Well, the prosecution NEVER gets to appeal – double jeopardy attaches. so the prosecution only gets one bite of the apple.

    The defense? Oh, they can come up with a wheelbarrow full of issues, and I would be very surprised if they didn’t already have an appeals attorney on retiainer, who is monitoring the trial and jotting down notes for appeals issues.

    I’m sure they will appeal the judge’s decision to allow the “pattern witnesses”, although 1108 has been tested before and is usually upheald on appeal, not that this would preclude them from trying again.

    I’m sure the playing of the answering machine messages is an appeals point, as is any motion they’ve ever filed and were not granted – along with every objection they’ve filed to a prosecution motion that was denied.

    The appeals process isn’t so much “pick one good thing and run with it”, the approach is more “throw everything in and see if something sticks”.

    Kim

  14. pk said

    Love your blog – fantastic writing/insight/perspective – how any “reasonable” person can look at the evidence (and each side’s interpretation of the evidence) and “reasonably” conclude that this was anything but murder is beyond the pale. The forensics, the “excited utterances” testimony (first, excited words after the horrific event from PS, the driver), the competency and honesty of the pro’s experts as opposed to those looney, high-paid experts that sell their souls on the stand . . . One can’t keep poking guns in people’s faces for years on end without one’s “luck” running out and the thing going off. Rest in peace, Lana, and condolences to your family.

  15. Marie said

    You really are an outstanding writer. Great work, you should be paid for all this work. You have a great way of getting the big picture, and I really appreciate you writing these!

  16. […] CA vs. Spector – “She Looks Peaceful!” – “Doctor, She’s Dead” [image]Werner Spitz may be a forensic pathologist. He may even be a good one. But after today’s completion of his […] […]

  17. JS said

    Assuming I have understood it, the defence could be playing a very smart game: “We know you don’t like our witnesses; we know you think they’ve been bought; but that’s all beside the point: you must ask yourself whether the scenario they’ve outlined is possible — not whether you think it’s right or wrong, just whether it *could* have happened that way”.

    But it has to be a reasonable doubt, not a fantastical doubt. Our justice system is to make sure that the guilty are punished and the innocent are not wrongfully convicted. It must be a delicate balance.

  18. frazzledgear said

    Hired experts only make the really big money when they are called to testify. They all charge a fee just to give the hiring attorneys their opinion -but they charge the BIG bucks for having to testify in court. That is a financial incentive to render the opinion the hireing attorneys NEED -or they won’t be called and can’t make that money. That is a financial incentive that most times prosecution witnesses usually do not have.

    Even though these experts make a point of mentioning the rare times the state hires them -they make their real money being hired as defense experts.

    The state’s ME, criminalists, etc. get paid the same salary whether their conclusions benefit the prosecution or not, whether they testify in court or not -there is no financial benefit for them to come to certain conclusions over other ones. And we don’t WANT the state’s witnesses to have any financial benefit to come to certain conclusions over others either.

    But that means hired experts MUST come into court and make it clear through their testimony that their opinion is an unbiased and honest one, that they have no “dog” in this fight at all, that their testimony would be the same no matter who was paying their bill -and most of all, be willing to admit that some evidence could certainly be viewed in a light unfavorable to the defense. The hired “experts” in this case dig in their heels insisting NOTHING can ever possibly be viewed in any light unfavorable to the defenandt. But that just isn’t true -or the defendant wouldn’t even BE on trial.

    In this case, so far their “experts” have not been able to pull this off -and it is because they have actually made it clear to the jury that their opinion is intimately tied to their paycheck and they are little more than hired guns who expect to get paid.

    I wonder if this isn’t the way hired experts get it both ways though. They get paid, but they also do everything possible to let the jury know they think the defendant is guilty as hell without coming out and saying so -and instead let the jury know they shouldn’t take seriously anything they say. Because so far -the defense has put on two forensic pathologists who self destructed on cross examination and did EVERYTHING they could to make it clear to the jury their opinions were NOT honest atll.

    Maybe this is the only way they can sleep at night -believing they did what they could without outright betraying the client paying their bills -that their “testimony” was pure crap – bought and paid.

  19. frazzledgear said

    Most of what I took away from Spitz’s testimony was wondering just how many homicides he signed off as suicide in his 54 yr. career. He made it look pretty easy to get one by on him, didn’t he?

    When you combine that stat of “99% of intraoral wounds are suicide” with the stats regarding someone committing suicide at the home of a stranger -you don’t get a likelihood of suicide at all. You get a MASSIVE and OVERWHELMING statistic that the death was due to homicide -whether that gunshot was intraoral or anywhere else on the body. You want to talk RARE?

    Dead people at someone’s else home are the least likely suicide victims no matter how they died. Now combine that one with the FACT that the gun was wiped off.

    Who wipes off the ONE piece of evidence that would back up your claim when you tell the police the dead person in your house shot HIMSELF? People only wipe off a gun for ONE reason -to prevent police from knowing who really held that gun. Period.

  20. […] very much with the web site – let alone find out how it works. TheDarwinException (latest post here) uses the same WordPress software as I do and if you compare our two sites you can see how good it […]

  21. Niner said

    Hey Kim!
    again – great job of reporting!! (o:

    on one of your posts you wrote:

    [i]We have had evidence that inhibitions are lowered while drinking and on drugs – and we already know she was depressed and prone to crying on people’s shoulders. She goes to Phil’s house and as she is waiting at the back door for the driver to take her home, she sees a gun in a drawer. She picks up the gun, thinks to herself “You know, my hero Marilyn Monroe is adored and loved by millions of people partly because of the tragic circustances of her death. Maybe if I killed myself the way she did, I would finally be famous. I’ve wanted to kill myself, anyway, what better way to go out in a blaze of glory than to die at some famous guy’s house? I know he must be a big shot, that guy at the House of Blues told me “Treat Him Golden” – the guy has to *be* somebody, right? And here I am all drunk and foggy from the drugs, and I’m not thinking clearly, I’ll just do it – fuck it, I hate this town, anyway.” BANG.[/i]

    Must be careful here, Kim! We’ll have to ‘see’ if the defense uses any of your comments from here on their closing agruments!!

  22. BJ said

    That’s it! I have figured it out!
    If indeed I ever find the ‘need’ to ‘off’ someone? I am going to make sure that it is an intra-oral gunshot wound, and hire Dr (!?) Werner Spitz for my defense.
    Yes, this is how the Orange Juice got off, not to mention a few others. Just one juror has to be considering the ‘chance’ that poor Lana Clarkson might have pulled that trigger…and Phil Spector walks out of there.
    Note to self: If I am ever held at gun point make sure I move around frantically, God forbid they shoot me in the mouth…it might look like a suicide. And if I had a ‘bad day’ last week? They’ll bring in every Tom, Dick and Harry that saw me like that…do not take pain medication before you go to work, you need to suffer through it…if you die? They’ll consider you a druggie, add a few drinks? It has to be suicide…good grief.
    You write very well Kim, thanks for blogging to share your experiences and insight…I look forward to many more from this lifetime of a trial! 🙂

  23. IonaTrailer said

    Since it is extremely unlikely that wee Phil won’t take the stand in his own defense – which in my opinion looks mighty odd because if it was me and I was innocent I’d be screaming to the world that I didn’t do it – we hopefully will have Donna Clarkson, Lana’s mom, and other true friends of hers during rebuttal to squash once and for all any notions that Lana was depressed or suicidal. I believe that this testimony, combined with the logical common-sense evidence will eliminate any would be waffle-ers on the jury.

    Justice for Lana.

  24. Great recap. Note to self: finish that 4 week correspondence course “Crimes and Who Did Not Commit Them” so I can get a gut job that pays $5000 a day. These “expert” criminalogist types are so full of BS. Inspector Clouseau was more credible. If I were Phil, I would start getting ready for an extended stay in the Gray Bar Hotel.

    PS after watching the testimony of these experts — with long public service records devoted to fighting crime — I am now convinced that, based on their work, the jails are populated with innocent people and many vicious killers freely prowl the streets.

  25. Jim said

    Memo to Dr. Spitz:
    I havn’t seen that much tap dancing since Billy Flynn.

  26. Jackie C. said

    I don’t suppose your predisposition has influenced your coverage. Lets’ hope the jury is aided by impartiality.
    At least for the integrity of justice.

  27. I don’t suppose your predisposition has influenced your coverage

    Who cares? My blog, my predisposition, my coverage. If you want a sterile account, go to the Yahoo news wire.

    Lets’ hope the jury is aided by impartiality.

    I’m sure they are – but, then again, they are sitting in court all day and have taken an oath to be impartial. Last I checked, WordPress didn’t require such an oath.

    Kim

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