CA vs. Spector – 2 Buzzes, 2 Motions, 2 Drivers
Posted by thedarwinexception on September 24, 2007
So Christopher Plourd, for the defense, filed a motion this morning. They want *another* clarification of the jury instructions to be read to the jury or the judge to reinstruct the jury with a new instruction they have drafted.
“First, I did not intend to suggest that the defendant could be convicted of murder on the theory that he was legally responsible for Ms. Clarkson’s suicide. A person who aids, encourages or advises another to commit suicide is not guilty of murder, even if that person intended that the other person commit suicide and supplied the other person with means to do so.
Second, there is no evidence in the record that would support an inference that a second firearm was involved in the events that preceded the death of Ms. Clarkson. Therefore, you may not return a murder conviction on either the theory that Mr. Spector assisted her suicide or that he used a second firearm to force her to do anything.”
So, they basically want the judge to tell the jury that there can’t be a conviction based on the theory that Spector coerced, aided, abetted or encouraged Lana to turn the gun against herself. The defense feels that if the jury were to convict Spector on this theory – that he somehow encouraged her, or enticed her, into killing herself, that this would be a violation of the due process of the law – since it would basically turn their own evidence against them. They argued that there was scientific evidence that she held the gun inside her own mouth and that there was scientific evidence that she pulled the trigger herself – they don’t want the jury to be able to contemplate the judge’s suggestion that “He forced her to kill herself” and bolster that suggestion by saying “Well, maybe that’s why all that evidence shows that she was holding the gun!”
So the judge calls everyone together to hear the defense’s motion outside the presence of the jury – but not too far outside their presence, we hear the buzzer ring once two times while the hearing is being held. Once when they go for their morning break, and once when they again resume their deliberations.
Fidler takes the stand and tells all assembled that there is a concern on the part of the defense – that the instruction the court gave on Friday might indicate that it applied to the suicide scenario that the defense proffered, and that the hypothetical examples unduly restricted the defense. The defense also says that the scenario the judge gave regarding the “forcing of the gun into Lana’s mouth” is not factually possible.
Riordan, the mighty disembodied voice on the speakerphone, tells the judge that although the court’s instruction was clear that he was not giving every possible scenario, the judge gave an example that Spector forced the gun in her mouth. Riordan says that while he agrees that forcible action is not suicide – that there could easily be an inference made by the jury that there’s no evidence of force- but the jury could also conclude that if you give a gun to a person who is drunk or suicidal, that this would fit the definition of malice – it’s dangerous to human life, and the person giving the gun had acted without regard to human life. Riordan tells the court that although this does fit the definition of Murder in the second, that the legislature has decided that assisted suicide is not Murder, it’s charged differently.
As to the second part of the defense’s motion – Riordan explains that as the defense team was brainstorming, it was pointed out that if Spector had forced Lana to take the gun into her own hand and turn it on herself, that this made absolutely no sense, because once she has the gun in her hands, then force becomes a questionable issue – but someone on the jury could also say “he had other guns in the house” and the defense wants to make sure that the jury knows and understands that there has never been evidence of a second gun being used in the death.
Alan Jackson stands to argue against the defense’s two part motion. He says that assisted suicide requires a showing of intent on the part of the person assisting the suicidal person – that one would have to show that Spector was intending on assisting Lana with her own suicide, and that this does not fit the facts of this case at all. Jackson also points out that the court tailored it’s comments in the jury instruction to say *force* – and that this word eliminates the possibility of assisted suicide. Once you FORCE someone to put the gun in their mouth – you have now gone outside the realm of suicide. As to the guns – Jackson says there is already an instruction limiting the use of the evidence of the other guns found in the residence. The jury knows that they can’t consider them for any other purpose. Jackson also points out that the defense is basically arguing the evidence, and since the court invited them to re-argue their case after the instruction was given – and the defense declined – it is now improper for them to ask the court to re-argue their case for them. Jackson concludes by telling the court that neither one of these instructions are necessary and they are both confusing. The court has instructed properly on these issues.
Riordan, the disembodied voice, counters that he is willing to bet that there is not a person on the jury who knows the laws with regard to assisted suicide. Although he agrees that the court used the word force, it didn’t tell the jury that what looks like suicide can’t be suicide if there is force involved.
The judge says that there is no reason to re-instruct the jury on the available use of the guns as evidence, that the introduction of another gun in his scenarios was neither implied or intended. But he says he does have to ask the prosecution what the harm would be in telling the jury that if they believe that Lana committed suicide, that this can’t be the basis for a guilty conviction and that none of the theories in the instruction would apply.
Jackson says that all of this is spelled out quite clearly in all the *other* instructions – that the jury surely knows that if they believe that Lana committed suicide that they have to return a verdict of not guilty -t hat the defense argued this for 6 and a half hours in closing statements. These instructions and reinstructions have to stop – that the defense can’t come in here and make up a new instruction every time they think of a new theory. Where would this end? Jackson says Russian roulette would be murder in the second – but he isn’t going to request a jury instruction saying so. Jackson tells the court there’s nothing illegal, improper, or misguiding about what the jurors have in front of them in the form of instructions and to start dragging them back to court to keep reinstructing them is going to highlight the defense’s case, and since the prosecution already has the heavier burden, this would unduly prejudice them further.
The judge says that both sides are trying to parse words now, and although he understands, he doesn’t see the positions that the sides are taking. He understands them, but he doesn’t see them. He is going to give all of this some thought.
Before the judge can come to a decision, the jurors ring the buzzer twice -they have a question.
And actually, it isn’t a question it’s a request – they want a VCR. All of the evidence is back there with them, but, of course, for some of the media they have to specifically ask for players because those aren’t provided unless requested. And it’s unclear whether or not they have transcripts of the media, since transcripts are not evidence – they are only marked in court as “aids”.
It is later revealed that the jurors want to watch the interview of Adriano DeSouza with the police the morning of Lana’s death. It is interesting that they want to see this after the clarification of the instructions. They certainly didn’t want to see it before the clarification. What can this mean? Does one juror have a doubt based on DeSouza’s statement? Does one juror have a question about whether or not DeSouza could understand English? Is this replaying of the interview meant to cast doubt or dispel it?
I find it terribly, terribly reminiscent of that other Los Angeles case. That jury, as well, wanted to hear the drivers testimony before they came out with their verdict.