The Darwin Exception

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

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Spector Refresher – Opening Statements and Admissions

Posted by thedarwinexception on August 3, 2008

Opening week in Spector round one was taken up not only by opening arguments, but also by the whole “Caplan Issue”. One hopes that this whole “mini trial” won’t need to be re-litigated again in Spector round 2. Which should help to speed along the whole running time. Many an afternoon in Round 1 was filled with a long list of former Spector supporters testifying about the “little white object” that supposedly was the key to the whole case.

Not that there weren’t other “side trials” during Spector 1, what with BabyDoll Gibson, Michael Bay and the whole “Lana e-mail’s and evidence belonging to her estate”, but the “little white object” was the one that took up the most time – and cost Henry Lee a great deal of credibility.

But we did manage to get in opening arguments during the first week – and it was our first glimpse into exactly what the state would be arguing and what the defense’s theory of the case would be – not that they would actually *have* a solid, non changing theory.

Alan Jackson, lead prosecutor for the state,  “cut the defense to the knees” by not bringing in Spector’s own statements during his opening argument. Spector had made several statements after the shooting – mostly self serving statements like “It was an accident”, and “I didn’t mean to shoot her. It was an accident. I have an explanation for this.” and “The gun went off accidentally. She works at the House of Blues. It was a mistake.”

Spector changed his story at the stationhouse, after he had time to reflect on the situation at hand. Then he started babbling that Clarkson only “pretended to work” at the House of Blues; that Clarkson was “a piece of shit” and that Clarkson “certainly had no right to come to my fucking castle, blow her fucking head open.”

Good stuff for *both* sides – the self serving “she blew her fucking head open” statements for the defense and the “she was a piece of shit” statements for the prosecution.

But the defense didn’t want the statements to come in at all – and there was vigorous pre trial motions from both sides. The prosecution wanted the jury to hear the statements – all of them, including the “It was an accident” statements, which seemed to imply that Spector had the gun in his hand at some point and was at least admitting that Clarkson didn’t shoot herself voluntarily. Bad stuff for the defense, who were preparing to argue that Lana was depressed and that Spector wasn’t even in the vicinity when she found the gun and shot herself.

The judge ultimately ruled that the statements could be admitted by the prosecution, and based on this ruling, Bruce Cutler, Spector’s lead defense attorney, prepared an opening statement and a defense which relied on spinning those statements to his client’s best advantage. And probably heavily slanted towards the “See, he said it was an accident” line.

But Alan Jackson decided not to even *mention* the statements in opening arguments, a strategy that Cutler found devastating to not only his opening statement, but his entire defense, he told Judge Fidler.

Under California law, statements suspects give to law enforcement are *only* admissible by the prosecution. They are considered “hearsay” if the defense admits them, and that is not allowed. So now Cutler was faced with an opening statement that was wholly un presentable and a case that he needed to entirely overhaul.

So, now we have our first strategy question for Round 2:

Should the prosecution again NOT admit the self serving statements and the admissions that “It was an accident” made by Spector the night of the shooting? Or should they allow the jury to hear these statements and allow the defense the luxury of having the jury consider just that – that it was not a premeditated homicide, but maybe an accident that rises only to the level of voluntary manslaughter?

Who does this testimony help – and why? Who does it hurt – and why?

Should it be considered in Round 2?

 

RELATED READING: Transcript of Phil Spector’s stationhouse statement to police

                                Police Report

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43 Responses to “Spector Refresher – Opening Statements and Admissions”

  1. Sandy said

    Personally I just want him in jail. At this point in his life he needs to go if even for a couple of years. That would be enough time for him to live on the other side and give Chell some long shopping trips. Unless the admission ended with probation, which wouldn’t be justice for Lana.

    Thanks for the reviews, all starts coming back to memory and you will have us ready for trial. And it reminds me why I’ve been here from day one reading your trial coverage. You’ve been my morning coffee for a very long time.

  2. Charles said

    Go Phil!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. AtwoodLady said

    Is Alan Jackson going to prosecute PS in #2?

  4. Is Alan Jackson going to prosecute PS in #2?

    It looks that way so far – but that could change. They’ve added new members to the team, but as of now Jackson is still lead prosecutor.

    Kim

  5. HT said

    How the hell should I know…..

    I guess it depends on the jury selection and if they have another egomaniac on it. Then it doesn’t matter who says what.

    HT

  6. mclayton said

    Yes, let it in, along with the testimony from the “prior bad acts” witnesses. If it is manslaughter so be it, at least the defense may not feel the need to trash Lana to the degree that was presented in round one. Of course that may keep Punkin Pie off the stand!! I agree with a previous poster, any time served is better than another mistrial. I can’t believe Rachelle is still hanging in there, must be more money left for shoe shopping than I thought..

  7. Katprint said

    Let it in. So he didn’t shoot her on purpose, it merely happened accidentally while he was brandishing the gun at her face – still a felony murder. Let him get up on the stand and explain; surely he will be every big as charismatic a witness as Hans Reiser (recently convicted of 1st degree murder despite the missing body, primarily due to his extremely unpleasant personality.)

    Not that it will make a difference if the defense gets lucky with another extra-thickheaded juror like that civil engineer holdout, whom I swear to God must have been paid off by Team Spector.

  8. barb said

    Congrats on your landslide win at the fair!

    I think that the Phil S. self=serving statements should be let in the #2 trial, and that they may help get him convicted. He can’t have it both ways, ‘it was an accident’, oh no wait a minute, ‘it was a suicide’.

    Glad you are feeling ok!! Hope ZL will be by to enjoy the summer weather. Stay well, Barb

  9. Tess said

    I think they should let it in. I think that it probably was an accident because the little twerp hadn’t actually killed anyone with the gun play to that point. I think he should be convicted of second degree murder. Putting a loaded gun in someone’s mouth is reckless and could lead to a death. It is not rocket science. He needs some prison time and he needs to be in the general population of said prison. At that point, how much time he is sentenced to might become a moot point.
    tess

  10. Greg said

    Do they get to use his previous trials statements in this trial at all? I think the combination of “it was an accident” and “she had no right to kill herself here” would persuade the jury he wasn’t exactly innocent.

  11. Do they get to use his previous trials statements in this trial at all?

    Spector didn’t really make any statements at the previous trial – well, not any in front of the jury.

    But he did get *some* statements into the first trial – like the nasty foul messages he left on women’s answering machines, and, of course, the infamous “I think I Killed Somebody!” Neither of which, I’m sure, he ever expected to be repeated in front of a jury.

    Kim

  12. Go Phil!!!!!!!!!!!

    God I hope this guy sticks around and adds something intelligent to the discussion.

    I may have to go trolling for Spector supporters. Does anyone know where that juror hangs out?

    Kim

  13. HT said

    I can be bought to cheer for Phil, sort of like a paid professional mourner. I still want to know what Diane Ogden died of. Somebody out there has to know.

    HT

    • sean ogden said

      I am so troubled by my Mothers death there is not one second goes by i doint think of here….she was Murderd…

  14. AtwoodLady said

    Will it be hard to seat a PS jury in #2 because of all the coverage in #1?

    Isn’t it possible that potential anti-PS jurors might not admit to watching, reading, hearing info from #1 in order to be seated on this jury to find him Guilty?

    Of course, I guess the opposite could also be said for the pro-PS group.

  15. Gail said

    I also remember hearing in the initial media reports, PS denied even knowing the woman who killed herself in his castle.

    I dunno, and leave it up to the P to analyze, they have been there done that and surely know the best way after the last trial. My gut tells me it would help PS. I don’t think he deserves any help, as he was a bomb ready to kill someone somewhere sometime.

    Kim, what do you think?

    One thing I would like to know, has anyone seen or heard anything about Henry Lee? He seems to have dropped off the face of the Earth. LOL is he in hiding? Has he been ruined? What gives?

  16. Katprint said

    So, we will have the Spector murder trial to entertain and amaze us and the Simpson robbery trial will be going soon as well (September 8 I believe.) I read today that the fourth codefendant, Charles Ehrlich, has now pleaded guilty to reduced charges of attempted accessory to robbery and attempted burglary. Does anybody know if the Simpson robbery trial will be televised as well? [sarcasm] The fun never ends! [/sarcasm]

    I think some people here in California get too much sun – it fries their brains and makes them crazy.

  17. Greg Smith said

    In a July 30 Los Angeles Time story, Harriet Ryan wrote:
    “Ogden died in December of an accidental overdose of a prescription medication.”

  18. HT said

    Thanks Greg. How sad. I thought maybe breast cancer but never gave OD a thought. In a way, it poses more questions, don’t you think? I’ll never forget her testimony. I thought it was especially tragic and telling about Spector, what a screwball he was and continued to be. I knew then whatever happened to Lana was his fault, intentionally or not. Guess I can’t ring in on his side afterall even if paid.

    HT

  19. luvgabe said

    Greg Smith Says:
    In a July 30 Los Angeles Time story, Harriet Ryan wrote: “Ogden died in December of an accidental overdose of a prescription medication.”

    *******

    Egads. I hope Spector’s lawyers won’t use this to buttress their defense position that Lana did herself in?

  20. Greg Smith said

    Luvgabe, I think the prosecution is thinking along the same lines. The same story said:

    Fidler denied a prosecution attempt to bar Spector’s lawyers from mentioning how Ogden died.

    • kysha essick said

      I KNOW AS GOD IS MY WITNESS MY MOTHER WAS MURDERED LAST YEAR AND THESE PEOPLE KNOW WHO THEAY ARE AND THAY BETTER STOP FUCKING WITH ME AND THAY ROTT IN FUCKING HELLLL……

  21. luvgabe said

    Thanks, Greg Smith! Fidler’s denying the prosecution is NOT good news.

    ******

    Katprint: Do you think there’s a fundamental difference between juries in Northern vs. Southern California?

    I fear the jury pool in L.A. is tainted by celebritymania (or as you said, their brains are fried by the sun) if we go by the south’s wrong-headed verdicts in OJ Simpson, Robert Blake, & Spector 1 vs. the north’s conviction of Scott Peterson & Hans Reiser.

  22. Katprint said

    Luvgabe: In all seriousness, I suspect that more “real” celebrities (defined as people who are famous prior to their crimes as opposed to people who become famous because of their crimes) live in southern California than in northern California. I daresay Hans Reiser’s pre-crime fame as a superduper programmer was nowhere near the celebrity status of OJ Simpson, Robert Blake or Phil Spector, and nobody had ever heard of fertilizer salesman Scott Peterson until his pregnant wife went missing. Thus, the northern California cases were relatively free of celebritymania.

    OTOH, I had never heard of Phil Spector until he murdered Lana Clarkson.

  23. Sprocket said

    Greg Smith Says:
    August 4, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Luvgabe, I think the prosecution is thinking along the same lines. The same story said:

    Fidler denied a prosecution attempt to bar Spector’s lawyers from mentioning how Ogden died.

    Hi Greg,

    I believe the article is not exactly correct as to what Fidler said, since I was there at the hearing.

    From my blog: Fidler is discussing the admisability of the video tape of Ms. Ogden’s testimony in Spector 1.

    Judge Fidler throws a bone to the defense. “Without fully ruling, I don’t see why you can’t comment that you would not have questioned the witness this way. Fidler then reminds the people (since they haven’t brought it up yet) about their motion to exclude the defense from bringing into the trial Ms. Ogden’s cause of death. Judge Fidler then says he will approach this, …”working backwards. I won’t rule on that issue of excluding Ms. Ogden’s cause of death because (they) have to wait and see what discovery shows regarding cause of death.”

    Hope this helps.

    • sean ogden said

      I saw my mothers face too days before she died and i could tell she was being poisoned solwley i did not know she was envolved in this fucking trial…and my stepher father put a restrain order on me when i recieved the call from him “YOUR MOTHERS DEAD I SAD WHAT THE FUCK WARE IS MY MOM??? HE SAID YOUR MOM HAD SOME PROBLMES AND THEY WERE BIG ONES AND I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU EVER AGAIN” I SAID FUCK YOU

      • HT said

        I am sorry about your Mother. She was very brave to have testified against that out of control idiot.

  24. Greg Smith said

    Sprocket, as you know, the LA Times is letting editorial staff go and trying to cut expenses. Maybe you should try to underbid Ryan to cover the trial. Just kidding!

    I remembered seeing the quote someplace about “…what discovery shows regarding cause of death,” but had forgotten that I must have seen it on your Trials and Tribulations blog. Thanks for posting that.

    Greg

  25. Fidler then reminds the people (since they haven’t brought it up yet) about their motion to exclude the defense from bringing into the trial Ms. Ogden’s cause of death. Judge Fidler then says he will approach this, …”working backwards. I won’t rule on that issue of excluding Ms. Ogden’s cause of death because (they) have to wait and see what discovery shows regarding cause of death.”

    Well, I have a sneaking suspicion that the “cause of death” and “prior testimony” is tied together because the defense would like to point out to the jury that when Ogden was on the stand the last time she was impaired and unstable, and therefore unreliable, because she was on drugs.

    If they can get it in front of the jury that she overdosed, they can then argue that the jury cannot trust anything she said from the stand because of her apparant overreliance on prescription meds.

    I hope this won’t be another “mini trial”.

    Kim

    • kysha essick said

      MY MOTHER WAS SOLWLY POISOIND BY THESE PEOPLE EVEN MY FUCKING STEPHFATHER WAS ENVOLVED WITH HER MURDER AND PAUL SHAFER YOU MOTHERFUCKER I HOLD YOU RESPONSABLE FOR MY MOMS MURDER FOR OPENING YOUR BIG FUCKING MOUTH: YOU AND PHIL WILL GET YOURS ……OH BYTHEWAYTHEAY NEED TO PUT HIM IN POULATION I HAVE SOME HOMIES IN THERE THAT WANT TO FUCKING MEET HIM WHALE HE EXPLANS JUST WAHT HE DID TO MY MOM……????

  26. anygirl said

    Geesh Kim, I sure hope that is not the case…those “mini trials’ took up enough time and energy last year..:(

    If that is the case, and I would like to bet the farm on this one, most if not all of the people that took the stand to testify were on something…blood pressure meds, thryoid, or some kind of menopausal medication in the case of Punkin Pie…ewwwww..just typing that name is creepy…overdose and interaction mistakes can happen with all kinds of meds.

    The defense is just a bunch of wankers…again

  27. Sprocket said

    Well, I have a sneaking suspicion that the “cause of death” and “prior testimony” is tied together because the defense would like to point out to the jury that when Ogden was on the stand the last time she was impaired and unstable, and therefore unreliable, because she was on drugs.

    If they can get it in front of the jury that she overdosed, they can then argue that the jury cannot trust anything she said from the stand because of her apparant overreliance on prescription meds.

    I hope this won’t be another “mini trial”.

    Kim

    Sounds like an argument right out of Riordan’s mouth. They would have to first argue a reason though, to open up Ogden’s medical file/history, correct?

    However, If the information is in the autopsy report that she had been prescribed these medications prior to her testimony, can the defense use that in argument since the autopsy report is public record? This would mean they would not have to argue to open up her personal medical records, correct?

  28. Sprocket said

    Greg Smith Says:
    August 5, 2008 at 12:33 am

    Sprocket, as you know, the LA Times is letting editorial staff go and trying to cut expenses. Maybe you should try to underbid Ryan to cover the trial. Just kidding!

    Layoffs already? They just hired Harriet in June! I have the utmost respect for her and I think she’s a good reporter. It was nice to have her back in the courtroom again.

  29. They would have to first argue a reason though, to open up Ogden’s medical file/history, correct?

    Well, that depends….

    Having a witness on the stand is reason enough to *bring up* medical reasons as to why they may not be reliable or able to accurately assess and describe situations they are testifying to.

    If Fidler allows Ogden’s prior testimony via video, then the defense *should* be allowed to impeach her testimony. One way they may be able to do that is if they can prove that she was on drugs, using drugs, over-reliant on drugs or died from an apprant overdose of drugs.

    But – they won’t be able to speculate. They’ll have to have something other than “We think she might have, could have, may have, possibly been over-reliant on medications…”

    This is why Fidler said that he’s not going to rule on the issue NOW, pre-trial, and will wait and see what the prosecution has as to her cause of death, and what will be turned over in discovery. If it’s something that the defense thinks they can run with, THEN Fidler will rule on whether or not he is going to allow it. Remeber, Ogden won’t be around to defend herself – the defense will have to prove their allegations to Fidler’s satisfaction before he’ll let the defense trash her.

    That’s why I worry about another “mini trial” – we’ll have everyone from her doctor to her hairdresser coming in to either say “she wsn’t on drugs” to “she was a pill popping maniac.”

    Kim

  30. Greg Smith said

    Is the Los Angeles Times cutting staff? Here’s a portion of a story from July 3, 2008:

    The Los Angeles Times announced Wednesday that it would eliminate 150 newsroom jobs — more than one-sixth of the staff — and publish 15 percent fewer pages, in the deepest of a series of cuts at Tribune Company newspapers as the company tries to stay afloat.

    In all, the Los Angeles Times Media Group, which includes the paper and some smaller businesses, is cutting 250 jobs, which includes nonnewsroom jobs that have already been eliminated, said David D. Hiller, the publisher. Russ Stanton, the editor, said that the cuts would be carried out over the next two months.

  31. Janice Vincent said

    Hi Greg…. Yes, unfortunately LA Times is being forced to lay-off yet “again”.

    I worked for The Baltimore Sun which was also “bought up” by The Tribune Company of Chicago. Since that time, things for both newspapers have been taking a dive.

    Unfortunately, there are local individuals both here in Baltimore and also in LA who would like to purchase each of these papers…. Serious groups who have been trying to years to purchase them and “turn them around”….. But alas, The Tribune seems h#ll bent on ruining two award winning newspapers.

    They no longer have foreign bureaus… but rather rely on AP Wire stories…. I realize this is the age of computers – but good investigative journalism is hard to beat….

    janice

  32. Val Dalton said

    Hey Kim, Just to let you know you were on the radio yesterday. Scott had Lee Michaels look for your stuff in the arts building. He was going around trying to find it and as soon as he said what he was looking for the lady knew exactly who you were and where your stuff was. He talked about some of the other people who had mad things but he really plugged how beautiful your stuff was!! I have yet to even go to the fair and see it. Have you been to take pictures?

  33. Hey Kim, Just to let you know you were on the radio yesterday

    HOLY SHIT!!! NO kidding?? That’s so cool. He didn’t call me “that bitch that hates the Redneck Games…” did he??

    And yeah, the awards ceremony was yesterday – I went and got my little award and my $$$$$ and had my picture took for the paper (can you look in the paper and send it to me when you see it??) And I asked how many years in a row I can win and the lady there said “as many as you want, hon, we don’t give a rat’s ass…” So I guess I’ll keep entering.

    I took some pics of my stuff with the ribbons on them, I’ll post them later today. Besides the Edna Hill award, everything got blue ribbons, too, so that was cool.

    And I really am surprised how everyone seems to know who I am there. When they were doing “roll call” yeaterday at the awards ceremony to see if everyone was there, they were calling off names and when she got to my name, she didn’t shout it out and wait for a raised hand, like she did most other people, she just looked at me and smiled ansd said “present” – and I swear I had NEVER seen this woman before in my life! What the hell?????

    So what did the radio guy say about my stuff?? DId he like the color? Paul hates the color.

    Kim

  34. Gail said

    CONGRATULATIONS KIM! This is great news! No doubt, YOU are now ‘Miss Malone’! Radio! Newspaper! Autograph Please!

    I am so happy for you, WOW all blue ribbons and the Edna Hill award, can’t do better than that eh? 🙂 I can hardly wait to see the pictures. Zoweee you must be on a super high today! OK so where did you and Paul go for dinner? lol

  35. Val Dalton said

    Yeah as much as a guy’s opinion counts lol. He did say there were nice. I can’t wait to see them up close!!

  36. luvgabe said

    Alas, Malone’s little newspaper, the Malone Telegram, is so chintzy it refuses to put itself online, except for links for subscription or to put an ad. http://mtelegram.com/

  37. Sandy said

    Me thinks you may not be as much of a secret in Malone as you may think. And I bet they love every bit of you as we do.

  38. Phil Spector, IMO, is an annoying little twerp and I wouldn’t piss on his head if his wig was on fire. OTOH ISTM that Lana Clarkson was a delightful woman who I would have liked as a friend.

    Despite that it is clear that she killed herself.

    First, 55% of gun homicides are suicides.

    Next these three: a shot in the mouth is a suicide in all but 1 in 100,000 or some large number of cases. That alone excludes him.

    The lack of any material amount of blood on his clothes also excludes him.

    Clarkson’s DNA on the gun and the lack of Spector’s also excludes him.

    Any one of these is enough – all three is unimpeachable evidence of her suicide.

    You may WANT to see him in prison, but there is no case here to do that – unless an annoying attitude is now a crime in California in which case I have a very long list.

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