Spector defense: Clarkson was 'despondent'


The defense in Phil Spector's murder trial will portray gunshot victim Lana Clarkson as despondent over her finances and acting career and possibly contemplating suicide just before she met the record producer, documents filed Monday showed.

Defense attorneys submitted motions arguing that Clarkson's mental state and use of drugs before her death at Spector's California mansion are central to the trial and should not be excluded as evidence. The motions were submitted in advance of a hearing set for today. Jury selection resumes on April 16.

Clarkson was shot Feb. 3, 2003, in the foyer of Spector's suburban Alhambra home. Best known for her role in the 1980s cult film "Barbarian Queen," she was a nightclub hostess at the time of her death.

Prosecutors allege Spector shot Clarkson to death. The coroner's office called it a homicide, but also noted Clarkson had gunshot residue on both of her hands and may have pulled the trigger. Spector has pleaded not guilty and has suggested the shooting was an accident.

Defense attorneys quoted from e-mails written by the actress in the months before her death. "I am truly at the end of this whole deal. I am going to tidy my affairs and chuck it ...," she wrote in an e-mail to an unidentified friend, accepting an offer to borrow $200 on Dec. 8, 2002, the motion said.

The message said she would probably lose the cottage she had been renting in Los Angeles' Venice area and explained she was e-mailing rather than using the telephone because, "This way you cannot hear my tears."

Shortly after that Clarkson's mood brightened when she won a role in a play to portray Marilyn Monroe. She called it "one of the best parts I've ever been offered," the documents show. The motion says that between Jan. 10, 2003, and the date of her death she was fired from the play.

Attorney Robert Blasier, who authored the 18-page motion, said the prosecution wants to "eliminate the core issue" of the defense by asking to exclude evidence regarding Clarkson's character and state of mind.

Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson filed a motion last week to stop the defense from launching character attacks on Clarkson. He also sought to exclude an unfinished memoir found in Clarkson's computer as well as film clips that show her handling guns.

"We can certainly understand why the prosecution would want to litigate away one of the central issues in this case under the guise that the people just want to protect the memory of Lana Clarkson," Blasier said. He said there should have been a "psychological autopsy" of Clarkson by the coroner's office.