The rantings of a Public Defender constantly fighting against society's pervasive Police Industrial Complex. Enjoy the unique perspective of one whose life's work is to fight the system through the system.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

More Speculating about Phil Spector

Iona Trailer responded to my last post, and I was writing a response to her. But it got too long, so I decided to make it into a new post altogether.

I am not privy to any particular information about the Spector case - I only know what I read in the news. I agree that the only assertion about Lana Clarkson being depressed came from the defense. If she did commit suicide, it was a bizarre place and time to do so. But let's look honestly at some facts:

1) Her DNA is on Spector's, um, private parts. Only two ways it got there - one by force or threat, and the other willingly.

2) His DNA is on her breast (saliva). How did that get there? Again, either by force or threat, or willingly.

3) Her blood on the gun, but no blood or DNA of Spector's on the gun.

4) Gunshot residue on her hands, none on Spector. No blood on Spector (he could have washed his hands, so that can explain no GSR and/or blood on his hands - what about his face?), but two tiny particles of GSR on his clothes (which he didn't/couldn't wash), on his clothes 40 minutes after the shooting. Tiny amount of her blood on his clothes. Spector claims that he got her blood on his clothes when he was tasered by the police and fell into a little bit of her blood on the floor. The two tiny particles of GSR on Spector contrast with the abundance of GSR on Clarkson. BTW - blood spatter was hotly contested at the trial. The DA experts claimed that Spector had to be within 3 feet of the gunshot, and the defense experts claimed that Spector was up to 6 feet away. There were 18 itty, bitty drops of her blood Spector's clothes (some less than 1 millimeter in diameter). The distance is crucial: If the defense is correct, the Spector COULD NOT HAVE BEEN THE SHOOTER. If the DA is correct, then he could have been the shooter, but what about the lack of GSR on his clothes?

5) Gun was fired from inside her mouth. If Spector had fired that gun, where is GSR and blood on his clothes? It would be a LARGE amount of blood. There would be SOME GSR. Why GSR on her hands? She had to be holding the gun.

6) No Spector DNA under her fingernails. No other signs of struggle. Her tongue was bruised, but that likely came from the gunshot itself (gun kicks when it fires).

7) She accompanied him home from the club. Absolutely no force involved. He basically tipped her a LOT, and she came along. No one has contradicted that she was drinking heavily that night.

8) Spector looked then much like he looks now - a sad, old, wrinkled dude. What in the world would she be doing with him? That's enough to depress ANYONE.

9) There were a substantial number of emails where she outlines her depression and her alcohol and drug abuse.

I didn't know Lana Clarkson. I don't know Phil Spector. But I can say this: the physical evidence that he shot her after forcing her to perform oral sex on him (which is, essentially, what the DA is saying happened) just isn't there. In fact, the physical evidence contradicts that theory. Why wouldn't she scratch him? Resist? A tiny amount of her blood was on him, but if he shot her he would have been covered in blood. GSR (gunshot residue) is on both her hands, and heavily on her body, only two tiny particles on him. If he shot her, he, and his clothes, would have GSR. Why is there no GSR on his clothes? On his person?

I am not saying that what you say could not have happened. Phil Spector COULD have shot her. His MO and his statements certainly do support the theory that he shot her. But the science here just doesn't add up to it. There are simply too many problems. Spector did not wash his clothes - they should have been covered in blood and layered with GSR - only minute amounts of blood were found - no GSR.

There is simply too much reasonable doubt in this case, regardless of how odious a person Spector is. Nonetheless, I believe that the next jury will dutifully ignore these issues and find him guilty because he LOOKS guilty. And there just isn't any good explanation for how she got the gun from Spector's house without Spector knowing it and then shot herself. No wait, I know: She was depressed, so depressed that she became curious, searched the various drawers and cabinets in Spector's home, presumably while Spector was looking for his "wall of sound," and when she found Spector's gun she shot herself. Wow. I just solved the crime. :-)

Nontheless, it seems clear to me that, at the very least, Spector gave her the gun, or he threatened her with it and she took it. Then, it honestly appears, she shot herself. Manslaughter probably. Negligent homicide very likely (I'd convict on that, maybe). But 2nd degree murder? I don't see it. The next jury, I believe, will see it. But I don't.

Dennis Wilkins
The Guest PD Blogger

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In many states, a finding of two unique particles isn't even enough to make a positive finding of GSR.

In addition, contamination studies have shown that an individual who has neither fired a gun or been in the vicinity of a gun that was fired, can get gun shot residue on their hands simply by being cuffed and placed in the back of a squad car.

Crime scenes, handcuffs, police squad cars, and police stations are not sanitized for removal of all traces of gun shot residue after each crime, handcuff, transport, or booking.....the stuff is invisible to the naked eye and it stays wherever it lands in the real world and can transfer to any other thing it comes into contact with.

Any allegation that he fired the gun because they found two unique particles of GSR should be SERIOUSLY scrutinized.

But I agree with Denis, that even though science doesn't lie, juries often decide cases on gut feeling rather than merging the specific facts of the case with rational, logical,scientific analysis.

Sometimes I fault the attorneys who present "experts" who do nothing more than cancel each other out. (i.e. the prosecution witness concludes one thing and the defense expert concludes the exact opposite) If you don't give the jury something to comfortably hang their hat on, they will resort to a gut feeling test. I can't really blame them for taking a default position like that when given no better option.

Lil Spicy

8/20/2008 11:52 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot say which way I would lean toward in this case. Although you have a valid point, a lot of officers who work in our area (including myself) clean their handcuffs thoroughly with sanitizing wipes as soon as the cuffs are removed from a prisoner. However, I'm sure that not every police officer is going to do that every time they handcuff someone. Anything is possible.

5/19/2010 7:44 AM

 
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6/01/2011 6:48 AM

 
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