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The mother of slain actress Lana Clarkson took the witness stand in Phil Spector’s murder trial Monday and testified her daughter bought seven pairs of shoes for a new job as a nightclub hostess some 12 hours before she died.
Donna Clarkson also identified a series of glamour photographs of the actress that were taken about a month before her death. Actors commonly use such publicity pictures to promote their careers.
The unexpected testimony was elicited by the prosecution in an apparent attempt to counter the defense claim that Clarkson committed suicide when she was shot to death at Spector’s mansion in 2003.
Clarkson’s mother had been called to the witness stand by a defense lawyer for a completely different purpose. The attorney wanted her to identify letters found in her daughter’s home that were apparent forgeries designed to indicate strong prospects for an acting career.
Defense attorney Bradley Brunon suggested Clarkson herself wrote the letters in an effort to get a loan of money from someone who had advanced her funds before.
Donna Clarkson acknowledged her daughter had borrowed money from a man in San Francisco and said the letters were found after the actress’ death.
One person whose name was on a letter testified it was a forgery. Marc Hirschfeld said he was formerly an executive vice president of casting at NBC and had cast Clarkson in at least one role a number of years ago.
He said they remained friends and he had written her after she sent him a video she produced. But Hirschfeld said one letter with his purported signature was fake. It mentioned an NBC job title that does not exist and was written on phony letterhead, he testified.
The letter also contained language he would never use such as “you’ve done it kid,” he said.
Hirschfeld said he indeed encouraged her and promised to keep her in mind for future roles, though he was not as effusive as the forged letter suggested.
Earlier in the day, Phil Spector’s lawyers recalled to the witness stand a scientist critical of blood analysis done by the Los Angeles County sheriff’s laboratory.
James Pex, retired director of the Oregon State Police Crime Lab, cited documents showing the sheriff’s lab sought certification from the American Society of Crime Lab directors but failed an initial test for blood analysis in 2003 over procedures for identifying crusted blood.
Pex suggested the identification of blood is tricky and can’t be based just on visual observation or techniques depicted on TV shows like “CSI.” He said the key is “precision, accuracy and sensitivity” of testing procedures.
To make his point, he showed jurors microscope slides of blood and then a microscopic view of a piece of tomato skin which presumably could be mistaken for blood.
Defense attorney Christopher Plourd showed Pex crime scene photos of Clarkson’s hands. Each hand had a minuscule dot of blood.
“In determining between a homicide and a suicide the blood patterns on the hands are pivotal,” Pex testified.
That led to demonstrations by both prosecutor Alan Jackson and Plourd of how the gun might have been held when it fired. Plourd held up both his hands to his mouth as if clutching a gun. Jackson held out his hands palms forward in a defensive motion.
Pex said one thing was certain: “Blood doesn’t go around corners. It travels in a straight line.”
Spector, 67, a legendary music producer whose “Wall of Sound” technique revolutionized rock music, is charged with murdering Clarkson, who was working as a hostess at the House of Blues nightclub the night he met her and invited her home with him for a drink.
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