The judge in Phil Spector’s murder trial said Wednesday that he would allow a fifth woman to testify that the music producer threatened her with a gun.
Prosecutor Alan Jackson said Devra Robitaille’s testimony was warranted in the trial’s rebuttal phase because defense attorneys had attacked the veracity of one of the women who testified that Spector had held her at gunpoint. Jackson said that by attacking that woman, the defense implicitly attacked the others, as well.
The prosecution has made the women’s testimony the cornerstone of its case against Spector, claiming he showed a pattern of taking women home with him, holding them at gunpoint and refusing to allow them to leave.
They say the pattern was repeated with deadly results when 40-year-old actress Lana Clarkson was shot to death in the 67-year-old “Wall of Sound” music producer’s home after going home with him for a drink Feb. 3, 2003. Spector’s attorneys say Clarkson shot herself in the mouth.
Defense attorney Bradley Brunon argued against the additional witness, saying that prosecutors deliberately held back Robitaille’s testimony until near the end of the trial to give it added impact.
After Melissa Grosvenor testified last month that Spector threatened her with a gun, her estranged sister testified that Grosvenor had made up the story so she could take part in a high-profile trial.
“She was bragging about going to be on Court TV,” Angela Pileggi Silverstein told jurors.
Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler said allowing Robitaille to testify would indicate that “other witnesses are telling the truth and there is strength in numbers.”
“For all those reasons, I find this is appropriate rebuttal and I will allow this witness to testify,” the judge said.
Also Wednesday, one defense expert contradicted another’s theory that Clarkson sprayed blood from her mouth with her dying gasps.
Prosecutors contend that blood spatter on Spector’s jacket got there when he shot Clarkson. The defense says the spatter could have hit him when he stood as far as six feet away.
Dr. Jann Leestma, a neuro-pathologist, said blood would have flowed and there could have been involuntary movements of the body after the gunshot severed Clarkson’s spine. But he said a projectile-like spray of blood that would result with force similar to when someone emits a loud “raspberry” was unlikely.
In opening statements, the defense’s scientific attorney, Linda Kenney Baden, demonstrated how gases would build up in the mouth from a gunshot, collect in the cheeks and be expelled in a movement similar to a raspberry. Another defense expert, forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz, agreed with the theory and suggested during earlier testimony that Clarkson could have breathed out blood after she was shot through the mouth, spattering it on Spector’s jacket.
Jurors are scheduled to visit the scene of Clarkson’s death on Thursday.