The trial of rock music producer Phil Spector saw both the defense and prosecution play the sympathy card: the defence providing a gruesome lesson in self-inflicted gunshot wounds while the prosecution called one of the pop mogul’s former girlfriends as the first witness.
Spector, 67, is accused of picking up a B-movie actress-turned-waitress at a bar in Los Angeles, taking her to his “castle” in the suburb of Alhambra, and shooting her in the mouth when she tried to leave.
The defence insists the fatal gunshot was both accidental and self-inflicted, and quoted yesterday from what appeared to be a suicide note written by victim, Lana Clarkson, two months before her death.
The note said: “I am going to tidy my affairs and chuck it, because it’s really all too much for this girl to bear any more.” The defence also told the jury that Ms Clarkson had a history of depression, and had long been taking pain medication.
Although there was no direct witness to the shooting, Mr Spector’s lawyers said that “science is a witness” – and spent most of their opening statement telling the jury that they could prove through blood spatter analysis, the nature of the wound to Ms Clarkson’s tongue, and fragments of teeth embedded in a revolver that the alleged victim shot herself.
The prosecution called as its first witness Dorothy Melvin, a former manager of the comedian Joan Rivers. Ms Melvin dated Mr Spector for two years in the 1990s. Under oath, she recalled going to a party at Mr Spector’s home, where he drank directly from a vodka bottle. She remembered falling asleep on a sofa at midnight and waking up before dawn.