Judge rejects Spector plea for trial delay
EmptyThe judge in Phil Spector's murder trial rejected an emotional plea from the record producer for a one-day delay Thursday because one of his key lawyers has fallen ill.
"I feel completely naked and lost without her," the 67-year-old music producer told the judge.
Attorney Linda Kenney-Baden, a forensic legal expert who has questioned many witnesses and made one of the opening statements, has been visibly in pain this week and had to be helped out of court Wednesday.
Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler said she wasn't needed for Thursday's witnesses and ordered the case to proceed, which it did with testimony from a Hollywood agent and the showing of a video of actress Lana Clarkson, the woman Spector is accused of murdering.
Jurors saw Clarkson performing for the first time in the self-produced video called "Lana Unleashed," designed to display her comic talents.
The 25-minute production in which she appeared as many characters in costumes and makeup including a black woman peddling cosmetics, a TV talk show host, a nun, a policewoman and a Las Vegas dancer, was greeted with silence in the courtroom. A few jurors smiled. Clarkson's mother and sister cried.
The defense used the video in cross-examination of Clarkson's agent in an effort to show that her career was going nowhere before she went to Spector's home on Feb. 3, 2003, and wound up dead, shot through the mouth in the foyer of his mansion. The defense claims she was despondent over her career and killed herself.
The agent, Nick Terzian, portrayed Clarkson as upbeat, enthusiastic and always willing to go the extra mile to get ready for auditions. He had said Wednesday she was a top money maker at his agency, but his testimony showed that in the last year of her life he had booked her for only two print ads -- one that would appear only in Spain and paid her $1,500, less commission, and a print cell phone ad for $750, less commission, which was to have been shot on Feb. 8, 2003, five days after she died.
Before the tape was played, Terzian hailed her comedic talent as "in a weird way equivalent to Jack Nicholson's except Lana was better looking."
On direct examination by prosecutor Alan Jackson, Terzian said he was impressed with Clarkson's video but on cross-examination by attorney Roger Rosen, he said what he meant was that he told her he was impressed by the number of characters she could portray. He said he never sent the video to any casting agents.
A friend of Clarkson testified earlier that the actress was devastated after her visit with the agent, who gave her a negative review of the video which had cost her several thousand dollars to produce.
Terzian also testified that Clarkson was off the talent market for about a year after breaking both wrists in a fall in 2001. The prosecution displayed a photograph of Clarkson with casts on both wrists.
Before the session began, Spector, in his first personal plea to the judge, stood and addressed Fidler in a raspy voice before jurors entered the room. He offered rare insights into his interaction with his legal tem.
"Your honor, Mrs. Baden is my point lady," he said. "She explains to me everything going on in the trial. She strategically handles all of the defense. She's the only one I can talk to. At night I talk to her for hours. I feel completely lost and naked without her."
He added, "I really feel fervently I could not proceed without her at my side."
Fidler noted that Spector has an unusually large defense team and that he has already agreed to the absence of former lead lawyer Bruce Cutler, who is taping a TV show.
"Mrs. Kenney-Baden has not been present for the whole time," Fidler said, noting she sometimes goes out in the hall to confer with witnesses. He said the bulk of the defense case is now being handled by attorney Roger Rosen and he saw no need for a delay.
He noted that yet another member of the five-person defense team, Bradley Brunon, is frequently absent.
"It's been the defense choice to be in and out of court," the judge said.
If Kenney-Baden remains ill and is needed to question scientific witnesses, he said he would reconsider.