A forensic expert told jurors in Phil Spector’s murder trial Monday that the record producer didn’t have to be within arm’s length of Lana Clarkson to have gotten blood on his jacket when she suffered a fatal gunshot wound.
Stuart James said blood spatter from a gunshot wound can travel as far as 6 feet. The testimony is critical to the defense claim that Spector was too far from the actress to have shot her but close enough that blood hit stained his white coat.
Prosecutors allege that Spector shot Clarkson, 40, on Feb. 3, 2003. His lawyers claim she shot herself in the mouth.
During a long cross-examination, prosecutor Alan Jackson led James to acknowledge that under another theory of blood spatter analysis, Spector could have been standing about two feet from Clarkson when blood spattered on his jacket.
James, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., scientist who lectures around the world and has written a book on bloodstain pattern analysis, showed jurors photographs from his book including one depicting blood spatter produced by a high-velocity mechanism such as a gunshot.
“At 6 feet you are still getting millimeter-size stains or less. Even small droplets can travel that distance,” he said.
But James said he has never specifically studied intra-oral gunshot wounds because “You see so few of them. Intra-oral gunshot wounds are not that prevalent.”
Defense attorney Linda Kenney-Baden reminded jurors that a key prosecution witness, sheriff’s criminalist Lynne Herold, said she had taken one of James’ courses on blood spatter. Herold gave the opinion that blood spatter could travel only about 2 to 3 feet.
Clarkson died while seated in a chair in the foyer of Spector’s mansion. James analyzed bloodstains on the arm of the chair, Clarkson’s black slip dress and Spector’s jacket.
At one point, Kenney-Baden walked up to the witness, held out her arm and put her finger to his mouth at point-blank range, asking whether a bloodstain on the back of one arm of Spector’s jacket would be consistent with someone shooting in that position.
“No,” James said.
Later, prosecutor Pat Dixon belatedly rested the prosecution’s case two weeks after the defense began. Prosecutors wanted to present final testimony on a persistent issue in their case — whether the defense withheld a fingernail-size white object allegedly found at the scene.
The defense denies any such item was found.
Monday’s session also was marked by the return of defense attorney Bruce Cutler, who was absent for three weeks while shooting a TV show in which he plays a judge.
He told The Associated Press that he may have to leave again to finish the show, but that he plans to deliver the defense closing argument for Spector.
Spector, 67, revolutionized rock music recording decades ago with a technique that became known as the “wall of sound.” He is charged with murdering Clarkson after she went home with him from her job as a hostess at the House of Blues nightclub. Her most famous role was in the 1985 cult film “Barbarian Queen.”
Testimony has been under way in Spector’s trial since late April.