Phil Spector’s lawyer closed her case in the music producer’s murder trial Friday by entreating jurors not to become “vigilantes,” not to judge him on his appearance or by stories of women who dated him — and to find him innocent of killing actress Lana Clarkson.
“We don’t convict people in this country because we don’t like them, because we don’t like their hair or their clothes,” said Linda Kenney-Baden. She acknowledged that jurors knew a lot about Spector, famous for the “Wall of Sound” recording technique he pioneered in the 1960s, from media reports before they joined the panel.
“You know he’s been called a celebrity, and you said you would ignore that,” she reminded them. “Your job is not to make good copy or good ratings. Your job is to find the truth.”
The prosecution planned a rebuttal Friday afternoon. Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler then was to instruct the jurors and turn the case over to them for deliberations. The judge said that might not happen until Monday.
Although Spector never testified, Kenney-Baden returned several times to the question of his impression on jurors.
Spector, an eccentric millionaire past his prime, has sat silently at the counsel table, a diminutive figure in frock coats and colorful ties and shirts listening to former girlfriends testify that he threatened them with guns in decades past.
“It’s real easy to convict someone if you don’t like them very much,” Kenney-Baden warned jurors. “You’re not the media. You are the search for the truth. Ask yourself: Have they really proved their case or just attacked what we brought to you?”
Kenney-Baden spent a day and a half outlining the defense’s scientific evidence, which she said proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Spector, 67, did not shoot the 40-year-old actress — star of the 1985 cult film “Barbarian Queen,” — whom he invited to his home three hours before she died of a gunshot through her mouth on Feb. 3, 2003.
The attorney’s final hours of summation included PowerPoint displays to highlight what she said was missing from the case — scientific evidence placing the gun in Spector’s hand. She played video clips of testimony from the prosecution’s own experts saying they could not say conclusively whose hand was on the trigger.
She asserted that police jumped to the conclusion that it was a homicide within 15 minutes and “rounded up the usual suspects,” but that in fact there was simply an absence of evidence.
“They said to themselves, celebrity, high profile. This was going to be political,” she said. “This blinded them. they decided to engage in the prosecution of a celebrity.”
She said they failed to look at Clarkson’s life, to do a psychological autopsy and to analyze trace evidence that might exonerate Spector.
And she returned repeatedly to the white jacket he wore that night, which to the naked eye has no blood on it. Microscopic traces of blood were found in areas that she said would not suggest he was the shooter. Rather, she said, they would show that he tried to lend aid to Clarkson after she was shot.
Kenney-Baden addressed the prosecution’s strongest points — the five women from Spector’s past who said he had threatened them with guns when they tried to leave his presence.
“The government wants you to believe that these alleged incidents prove that Phillip Spector had a motive to kill somebody he only met ... a couple hours before,” Kenney-Baden said.
“All of the women here have long-term relationships with Phillip Spector,” she said. “The knew him for a long time. Some of them even continued their relationships after the supposed allegations that were testified to.”
The prosecution had focused on the women “because they want you to hate Phil Spector,” she said.
The judge said Kenney-Baden would have to clear up the matter for the jurors.
Kenney-Baden also returned to the prosecution’s star witness, Adriano De Souza, the chauffeur who said he heard Spector say, “I think I killed somebody.” She listed many reasons why De Souza was wrong and noted that when the chauffeur asked what had happened, Spector shrugged, as if to indicate he didn’t know.
She concluded with a call to jurors to examine the evidence carefully and represent justice system well.
“Phil Spector, regardless of all the money he has, regardless of the people trotted out to say he is a bad person, he has the same rights of due process as anyone,” she said. “You are not vigilantes. Your job is to ensure he gets a fair trial. ... It’s now time for you to make things right.”