Spector defense seeks to introduce Clarkson diary
EmptyThe Phil Spector murder trial erupted in intense arguments outside the jury's presence Thursday over whether the defense can introduce a diary written by gunshot victim Lana Clarkson in which she wrote about having visions of a dead actress, experiencing depression over her acting career and having a fascination with guns.
Prosecutors acknowledged that they knew about the material but considered it untrustworthy and did not submit it to the coroner's office.
Before jurors were sent out of the courtroom, Deputy Medical Examiner Louis Pena testified he had not considered doing a "psychological autopsy" on Clarkson because he had concluded her death was a homicide, not a suicide.
The actress died of a gunshot fired inside her mouth in the foyer of Spector's suburban mansion more than four years ago.
"We do a psychological autopsy only at the request of the family when it's ruled a suicide," he said.
At that point, defense attorney Christopher Plourd tried to begin questioning the coroner about whether he considered documents found in Clarkson's computer after she died.
There were objections by the prosecution and, after a brief conference at the bench, Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler dismissed jurors from the room and ordered a full-scale hearing on the issue.
That was when Plourd disclosed some of the contents from a computer hard drive which contained a Clarkson composition called "The Story of My Life."
In the document, Plourd said, she discussed having had drug problems in her youth and said she drank 17 shots of tequila on her 17th birthday.
"She has delusions," Plourd said, "She's seeing people who are deceased and talks to them. She talks about seeing a dead actress who comes to her in visions, a struggling actress who didn't make it and killed herself with a gun."
Plourd said the defense team investigated the story and found that this was indeed a real actress and found the place here she had lived, which is where Clarkson claimed to have had the visions.
Plourd said that a district attorney's investigator read the entire diary and concluded it didn't contain anything relevant to the case.
Plourd sought to question Pena about whether the writings would have changed his opinion that Clarkson's death was a homicide if he had read the entries.
He also cited e-mails sent by Clarkson to a friend in which she said she was despairing over financial problems and wanted to get her affairs in order and "chuck it."
Prosecutor Alan Jackson argued that the writings in the computer were not authenticated, could not be relied upon and were probably creative efforts that Clarkson made for a writing class she was taking.
The judge appeared to disagree.
"I think you are arguing way too much," Fidler said to Jackson. "If you have the words of a deceased ... how do you keep that away from the jury and away from an expert who could have considered it."
Spector is accused of murdering Clarkson, 40, on Feb. 3, 2003, at his suburban mansion. Clarkson had gone home with Spector from her job as a hostess at the House of Blues nightclub on the Sunset Strip.
Spector, 67, gained fame in the 1960s with a recording technique known as the "Wall of Sound" that produced many hit records. Clarkson was best known for her role in Roger Corman's 1985 cult film "Barbarian Queen."