Spector chauffeur's frantic calls played for jury
EmptyIn a voice bordering on hysteria, a chauffeur was heard on tape in court Wednesday, first summoning Phil Spector's secretary and then telling a 911 operator: "I think my boss killed somebody."
"And why do you believe he may have killed somebody?" asked the operator.
"Because ... he, he have a lady on the, on the floor and he have a gun in, in his hand," the chauffeur stammered.
The Brazilian chauffeur, Adriano De Souza, the star prosecution witness in Spector's murder trial, was breathless, halting and spoke in accented English on the two recordings made about 5 a.m. on Feb. 3, 2003. Parts of the calls were difficult to hear and transcripts were given to the jury for them to follow along.
He told jurors he was scared after he peered into Spector's home and saw actress Lana Clarkson's dead body with blood smeared on her face and heard a gun-toting Spector declare: "I think I killed somebody."
"I didn't know what to do," he said. "I tried to run."
Seconds later, he said he realized he could drive the car out of the property, which he did.
"I tried to escape from that place," he said. "He could shoot me."
At the bottom of the driveway, he said, he stopped and used his cell phone to call Spector's assistant, Michelle Blaine, left a message and then called 911.
In the message to Blaine, the excited chauffeur said, "Michelle, Michelle ...You have to come to Mr. Phillip's house. I think he killed some -- a lady." He said he was calling the police.
De Souza explained that he called the secretary first because her number was in his cell phone and although he knew where Spector lived he didn't know the actual address. He said he stopped outside the estate because the address was on a sign there.
In his first words to the operator he identified himself as Spector's driver and said, "I think my boss killed somebody."
During lengthy questioning, the California Highway Patrol 911 operator asked De Souza if he heard the shooting and he said, "Yeah. I hear ... like a noise."
In the middle of the call, after giving basic details, he was transferred to the Alhambra Police Department where an officer asked him: "OK, what happened?"
"Oh my God. Again?" De Souza asked anxiously. He then recounted that his boss had shot someone, a lady.
The officer asked for the name of his boss, and in a touch of irony, could not understand the name Phil Spector and repeated it first as "Seal Inspector," then as "Chil." The driver had to spell the first name three times before the officer understood.
Asked where the man with the gun was, De Souza answered, "Oh, inside the castle because I'm outside. I'm afraid to inside again."
Twice he spoke of his fear saying, "I'm not inside anymore. I'm afraid to go inside," to which the officer responded, "I don't want you to, OK?"
It was several minutes before the officer told the chauffeur that a car was on the way. The call ended after 10 minutes when police arrived.
On Tuesday, De Souza described driving Spector on a night on the town from Beverly Hills to the Sunset Strip. Other witnesses have told of Spector ordering a series of drinks through that night and meeting Clarkson, who was working as a hostess at a VIP room at the House of Blues.
Two hours after she went home with Spector, the driver told of hearing a "pow," then seeing Spector emerge from the house with a gun his hand saying, "I think I killed somebody."
In Wednesday's session, prosecutor Jackson showed the jury photographs of Clarkson's body slumped in a chair in the foyer and gruesome close-ups of her face with blood around her mouth. The defense claims she shot herself.
De Souza said he looked past Spector and saw Clarkson's body slumped in a chair with her legs near the floor and asked Spector what happened, to which Spector responded with a shrug.
Defense attorney Bradley Brunon, in the start of his cross-examination of De Souza sought to show that the driver had little command of English and probably misunderstood Spector. But the witness was adamant that he could understand him.
Asked if he was familiar with Spector's speech pattern, De Souza did an imitation of the music producer's clipped, nasal voice.
Jackson, anticipating the attack on De Souza's English, led him through a lengthy account of his studies in Brazil where he said he learned English from the time he was 13.
In a separate hearing outside the jury's presence, forensic expert Henry Lee denied a claim that he collected a piece of Clarkson's acrylic fingernail when Spector's first defense team inspected the scene the day after her death.
"I feel pretty upset. I think my reputation is severely damaged," Lee said.
In an earlier hearing a retired sheriff's investigator who worked for Spector's initial attorney told the court he saw Lee hold a piece of fingernail in a handkerchief, and an attorney said she saw Lee put a piece of white material in a test tube. The prosecution claims the defense has withheld the evidence.
Lee said he doesn't know the investigator and did not collect a fingernail. He said he thinks the attorney "made an honest mistake." He said he only collected small blood stains and two pieces of thread.
The issue was unresolved at day's end and more hearings were planned. The trial was recessed until Monday.
Spector rose to fame in the 1960s and '70s, changing rock music with what became known as the "Wall of Sound" recording technique. Clarkson was best known for a role in the 1985 film "Barbarian Queen."