Spector witness says Clarkson was depressed
EmptyLana Clarkson was a depressed, 40-year-old, out-of-work actress fighting health problems and "at the end of her rope," according to a forensic expert who testified Wednesday that she was a candidate for suicide when she went to Phil Spector's mansion and wound up dead.
Dr. Vincent DiMaio, testifying for Spector's defense in his murder trial, said he studied Clarkson's e-mail correspondence, her date book and her medical records in addition to scientific evidence and concluded that she pulled the trigger on the gun that killed her.
"She had financial problems. She was afraid of being evicted. In one of the e-mails she said she had no job skills," said DiMaio.
He said the tall, blond beauty who became a cult movie star in the 1985 film "Barbarian Queen" had fallen on hard times. She had broken both her wrists in an accident the year before she died. She had been plagued with persistent headaches that did not respond to drugs and "no one seemed to know where they came from," he said.
She was so depressed that she spoke of having trashed her house, he said.
"She was an actress, was 40 years of age. I'm sorry, that's sex discrimination, but that's the way it is," the witness said.
DiMaio, a noted forensic pathologist, said Clarkson had been taking the painkiller Vicodin, which was in her system when she died, along with alcohol. And he said Clarkson had addiction problems which led her to consult a Screen Actors Guild Web site for counseling on drug and alcohol problems.
In a note to one of her doctors, he said, she declared "she was at the end of her rope and could not function."
DiMaio noted that in her day planner for Aug. 21, 2002, Clarkson wrote: "First sober day."
Clarkson was shot to death on Feb. 3, 2003, at Spector's hilltop Alhambra mansion. She had taken a hostess job at the House of Blues when Spector, now 67, met her and invited her to come home with him for a drink after the club closed.
Prosecutors have spent eight weeks focusing on the world of Spector, a legendary record producer who frequently threatened women with guns, according to testimony. The defense changed the focus to Clarkson.
The deputy medical examiner who testified for the prosecution concluded that Clarkson's killing was a homicide and interpreted her writings to show that she was "a hopeful person" and with plans for the future. DiMaio disagreed. He said that many people live with or conquer depression. but, "Most people who commit suicide are depressed."
Numerous law enforcement officers and forensic scientists called by prosecutors were unable to say conclusively that Spector fired the gun that killed Clarkson.
DiMaio, the first defense witness, said he was sure Spector did not fire it and Clarkson did. He held his hands in front of his mouth and showed how she would have balanced the gun. He cited reports that she was familiar with guns and had been to a gun club.
He also offered a sometimes stomach-turning display of how Clarkson died complete with a three-dimensional model of her tongue, a photograph of the entire tongue after it was removed from her body and a Plexiglas model of her head. He used a probe on the head to show how the bullet entered her mouth and went through to her spine.
Clarkson's mother and sister have sat through most of the trial testimony, averting their eyes from bloody photographs shown by the prosecution. But they left during the defense display.
Defense attorney Christopher Plourd also showed a computer animation of the gunshot with a mist of blood and gunshot residue flying into the air. Prosecutor Alan Jackson objected to the display, calling it "a cartoon." But Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler said it was a video aid for jurors and permitted it to be shown.