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A former romantic interest of Phil Spector testified at his murder trial Tuesday that the music producer threatened her at gunpoint twice about 10 years apart as she tried to leave his homes, scenarios similar to those described by four other women called earlier by the prosecution.
The testimony of Devra Robitaille came after Spector’s lawyers announced they were conditionally resting their case and that the music producer would not testify.
“Yes,” Spector said in a raspy voice when Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler asked him to confirm the decision.
Spector, 67, is accused of murdering actress Lana Clarkson, 40, on Feb. 3, 2003, a few hours after she went home with him from her job as a nightclub hostess. Her body was slumped in a chair in the foyer, her purse slung over an arm. She died from a gunshot fired inside her mouth. The defense claims she shot herself.
Robitaille was called as a witness in the prosecution’s rebuttal case, a move opposed by the defense on grounds the prosecution held back the witness for a surprise ending element. The judge disagreed.
Robitaille described two incidents in which she went to parties at Spector’s homes and wound up being threatened with a gun when she tried to leave. Prosecutors claim Clarkson probably faced a similar situation.
In the first incident, Robitaille, a musician, told of meeting Spector around 1974 and becoming administrator of his company, Warner Spector Records. She said they became friends and eventually had a romantic relationship.
One night she attended a “soiree” at his home with many celebrities in attendance, she said, and Spector was drinking a lot.
When the party ended in the early hours of the morning, Robitaille said, she told Spector she was going home.
“He said no and locked the door,” she testified.
“I remember standing in the lobby with a door in front of me and when I turned there was a gun pointed at my temple. … It was like a long-barreled shotgun. … It was touching my temple. Cold,” she said.
She said Spector held the gun with two hands.
“He said, ‘If you leave I’ll blow your (expletive) head off.’ … He was screaming at me at that point,” she said.
Robitaille said Spector repeated the threats multiple times and said, “You’re not going anywhere.”
Robitaille, who is British and speaks with an accent, was asked by Deputy District Attorney Pat Dixon what she did in response.
“I became very British and sort of mumsy and said, ‘Stop that. Put that down. I’m leaving. Stop mucking about,”‘ she said.
She said Spector put down the gun and let her out.
Robitaille said she briefly quit her job but came back after being sent roses and being placated by a Spector friend. But she said their relationship returned to being professional and platonic.
She said she later returned to England and “my career took off.” She said she toured Europe with famous music groups but returned to Los Angeles in 1986 and contacted Spector. She said he offered her a menial job running errands and she took it but was disappointed by the work.
Robitaille said she accepted an invitation to another Spector party that lasted past dawn, and again was the last person left. She said the door was locked when she announced she wanted to leave.
“I found him and said, ‘I am so tired. I want to go home. Please unlock the door,”‘ she said.
She said that as she stood in a foyer with her handbag hanging from her elbow, “The gun came out and he was holding it at my face.”
Robitaille said Spector was “screaming, ranting and raving, ‘You’re not going. You’re not leaving. I’m not opening the door. … I’ll blow you away. I’ll shoot you.”‘
She said, “I went cold inside and I thought, ‘Oh, I can’t believe this. Not again.”‘
She said her response was to again “get quite British and pull myself up to my full 4-foot-11 and sort of be, you know, like a teacher or a mum or a nanny — Stop that! Put that down! What’re you doing! It’s not OK with me! Knock it off!”
She said the incident lasted a few hours and she was sometimes left alone.
“Were you afraid this time?” Dixon asked.
“In all honesty I have to say I no,” she said, and added Spector eventually unlocked the door and let her go.
She said it was the end of their working relationship and she did not see him again until now.
Robitaille acknowledged she sold two stories to tabloids for a total of about $9,000. She said she was also interviewed for a book about Spector but was not compensated.
After initially denying many of her statements in transcripts of interviews with district attorney’s investigators, Robitaille acknowledged she said she hoped the prosecution would win its case.
“Yes, I wanted them to win. I don’t think people should hurt other people,” she said.
Defense attorney Roger Rosen confronted her with a transcribed statement to investigators saying: “I’m really reaching to give you want you want.” She denied she said it. She called the transcripts faulty.
She acknowledged she watched televised testimony of three of the other women who told of gun incidents and that Tuesday was the first time she mentioned having a purse on her arm when she was threatened.
Rosen elicited that Robitaille’s romance with Spector was an extramarital affair. She said she did not tell her husband about being threatened, and did not report either incident to any law enforcement agency.
The defense’s decision to rest was subject to review of records and introduction of exhibits. The judge also said it was possible the defense could call a few more witnesses, but he told the jury testimony was expected to end this week.
Spector created the “Wall of Sound” recording technique which transformed rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s.
Clarkson achieved modest fame for the 1980s cult film “Barbarian Queen” but was struggling at the time of her death.
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