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Lawyers in Spector case bicker over thumbnail

Defense claims the piece of evidence doesn't exist
/ Source: Reuters

Prosecutors and lawyers for Phil Spector spent 90 minutes Tuesday arguing over a broken thumbnail from the woman he is charged with murdering — a piece of evidence that the rock producer’s lead attorney later said does not exist.

More than a year after B-movie star Lana Clarkson was shot to death at Spector’s mock castle in the Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra, lawyers in the case have now devoted two full court hearings to the thumbnail — with a third scheduled in May.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Carlos Uranga said he would order defense attorneys to turn over the nail, which may have been overlooked in Spector’s mansion by police detectives, but the judge first wanted a hearing into the matter, complete with testimony by famed forensic scientist Henry Lee.

Prosecutors were told about the nail by a defense investigator who bragged about it to former colleagues at a Sheriff’s Department barbecue last summer. They have been demanding it ever since.

Lead defense attorney Leslie Abramson, who was making her first appearance for Spector after taking over the case two weeks earlier, refused to say in open court if the nail even existed — but told reporters outside that it did not.

“We don’t have a piece of nail. If I had a piece of nail I’d blow it up poster-sized and put it on every billboard in Los Angeles County. They don’t want to hear it,” she said.

Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, said prosecutors were not willing to take the word of Abramson “standing out here on the sidewalk” but would wait for the outcome of the hearing.

Spector appears in courtSpector — who came to court dressed entirely in black, including shiny boots with four-inch heels — has pleaded innocent to the murder of Clarkson and said in a magazine interview that she killed herself in a bizarre suicide that involved “kissing” the gun.

He spoke only to tell the judge that he was willing to postpone again his preliminary hearing, which will determine if he must stand trial in the case.

Much of the hearing was conducted with only Spector’s lawyers and the judge in his chambers because the defense said the issue concerned matters of attorney-client privilege.

Abramson also objected to cameras in the courtroom, but was quickly overruled by Uranga.

The flamboyant attorney, who is best-known for representing Erik Menendez against charges that he and his brother Lyle murdered their wealthy parents in 1989, was set to retire before Spector hired her.

Asked by reporters why she took the case, Abramson, who saw both Menendez brothers convicted despite her spirited defense, replied: “Because frankly, guys, it’s a winner. If I’m going to end my career on this case — nobody wants to go out losing.”