The prosecution’s top forensic expert in the Phil Spector murder trial testified Monday she studied evidence in the case for more than a year but could not determine that the music producer fired the gun that killed actress Lana Clarkson.
Defense attorney Linda Kenney-Baden asked sheriff’s criminalist Lynne Herold: “In any of your reports, did you conclude with any degree of certainty that Phil Spector pulled the trigger on that Cobra (revolver) on Feb. 3, 2003?”
“No,” Herold replied.
It was Kenney-Baden’s last question after a two-day cross-examination that focused on the minutiae of blood spatter evidence and the positions of Spector and Clarkson in the foyer of his mansion.
The witness said she also could not say where Clarkson’s hands were at the time the gun discharged. She also acknowledged that Spector could have been walking or running toward Clarkson rather than standing in front of her when the gunshot killed her, a scenario described by the prosecution.
Herold testified last week that Spector, arms raised, was within three feet of Clarkson when she was shot through the mouth, based on how close Spector had to be to have blood spatter on parts of his white jacket.
Clarkson was shot Feb. 3, 2003. Her body was found slumped in a chair in the foyer of Spector’s home. The defense contends she shot herself.
Kenney-Baden presented Herold with a number of technical questions involving blood spatter on Spector’s clothing. Then she walked up to the witness box, held up her arms in the manner the prosecutor had done last week, and said that perhaps he was moving when he held his arms up.
The witness agreed that was possible.
But Herold, who has a doctoral degree, declined to compare the case to many of the scholarly studies that were cited by Kenney-Baden in her questioning. “There is no other case like this case,” she said. “It is a unique case unto itself, as is each case.”
‘I'm a real doctor’
She said she was unfamiliar with a paper in which another expert said that blood spatter in a suicide can travel six feet.
“I’m not familiar with that paper and I will not comment on it unless I can see it,” she said.
“You are not a medical doctor, are you?” asked Kenney-Baden.
“No,” the witness said, smiling. “I’m a real doctor, as opposed to a body mechanic.”
As jurors and the audience laughed, she added, “A standard lab joke.”
As Herold testified, three experts who will testify for the defense were seated in the front row of the audience taking notes.
In eight weeks of testimony, prosecutors have not presented any witness to say that Spector fired the shot.
The judge, meanwhile, said an appellate court had rejected an appeal by a former Spector attorney who was ruled in contempt. The lawyer has refused to testify to the jury about seeing a defense forensic investigator pick up a small white object at the death scene that was never given to prosecutors.
The lawyer has claimed attorney-client privilege but the judge said that does not apply to issues of destruction of evidence. The prosecution believes the item was a piece of acrylic fingernail missing from one of Clarkson’s thumbs.
The issue has only been discussed outside the presence of the jury, but prosecutor Alan Jackson was allowed to pose hypothetical questions about it to Herold to try to show that the disputed evidence would have been important to the case.
Spector, 67, was a leading music producer in the 1960s and ’70s after rising to fame with a recording technique that became known as the “Wall of Sound.”
Clarkson, 40, was a struggling actress best known for the 1985 film “Barbarian Queen.” She was working as House of Blues hostess a few hours before her death.