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News

Spector-tacular: at the Phil Spector trial

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The facts: Phil Spector, motherf***ingawesome record producer and somewhat legendary kook, is on trial for the 2003 murder of Lana Clarkson, a struggling actress. One Feburary night, Spector ended up at the House of Blues' VIP Room -- oh, sorry, "Foundation Room" -- where Clarkson was working. He picked her up, she went home with him, and about an hour later ended up with a bullet in her head. The prosecution says Phil Spector murdered her; the defense contends that she shot herself.

The prosecution expects to wrap its case next week. The defense has presented several days of testimony. And LAist is in the courtroom.

Today it was crowded with people eager to see Sara Caplan, a defense attorney and colleague of Robert Shapiro's, take the stand (Shapiro and his team were Spector's lawyers, at first, but he fired them in 2004). Caplan, who fought having to testify as far as she could through the courts (no dice), appeared peeved. And orange -- maybe it's TV makeup, maybe it's spray-on tans gone wrong, but the women who testify are all mighty orange.

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Anyway, Sara Caplan was not happy to be on the stand. Take this little exchange:

Prosecutor: Do you remember learning that Phil Spector had been arrested? Caplan: Can I consult my lawyer?

Thanks for your cooperation, honey. Eventually, she was coaxed into telling the jury what she'd said before, but what the jury hadn't yet heard: on the day after Spector's arrest, at the crime scene (the elaborate foyer of Spector's house), she saw fellow defense staffer Dr. Henry Lee put a small white shard "about the size of my entire fingernail" into a vial. The "small white item," as the prosecution termed it, never made it into evidence. Was it a broken acrylic nail from Lana Clarkson's hand? Would its existence have proved that she tried to fight off Spector and his gun, rather than killing herself? Could the defense team be so dastardly as to remove and destroy evidence?Maybe Dr. Henry Lee did pick up a fake fingernail, put it in a vial, and secret it away. But this afternoon Caplan cast doubt on that possibility simply by drawing the small white item.

The defense team brought her a legal pad and pen, and she drew a raggedy-edged oblong shape, about an inch long. It was projected on a large screen directly opposite the jury. It didn't look like a fingernail, even one that had been ripped or broken. The prosecution's apparent annoyance ("How many times have you discussed this foyer, little-white-object thing with the defense?") made it seem like their last-minute, reluctant witness was less the absolutely damning slam dunk they'd hoped for.

But hell. They've got a bevy of ex-girlfriends that were threatened by a gun-toting Spector. So it's not like they're in trouble.

The trial picks up again Monday with club promoter Punkin Pie and her -- you guessed it, orange -- cleavage.