A key witness in Phil Spector’s murder trial was seen in a videotape played in court Tuesday repeating the words he said he heard the music producer say: “I think I killed somebody.”
The video, recorded five hours after actress Lana Clarkson was shot inside Spector’s home as the driver waited outside, was admitted into evidence over defense objections.
It showed that chauffeur Adriano De Souza, a Brazilian immigrant with a heavy accent, easily handled English when he was questioned by detectives and, although clearly upset, generally stayed to his account of events.
The defense has sought to show that De Souza, whose native language is Portuguese, could not understand English well enough to testify accurately. The defense has also questioned whether he was aiding authorities in an effort to resolve his own immigration problems.
De Souza testified earlier in the trial and already told jurors Spector’s words the night Clarkson died.
According to De Souza, Spector came out of his house in the early hours of Feb. 3, 2003, with a gun in one hand and made the statement as Clarkson’s body lay slumped in a chair in the foyer behind him.
At one point during the lengthy tape, De Souza appeared to become flustered as the detectives continued to question him about the words that Spector used. He was asked again and again if he was sure that what was said was, “I think I killed somebody.”
De Souza hesitated and said, “I think so. I think so. I’m not sure. It’s my English.”
When De Souza returned to the witness stand at the end of the tape, defense attorney Bradley Brunon seized on that point and asked whether the chauffeur said he wasn’t sure.
“Yes, I said that,” said De Souza. But he added, “I told him that because I thought he does not understand what I said.”
De Souza also discussed the case with authorities on the videotape, becoming concerned when officials told him it would be on the news. At one point as the detectives questioned him in an interview room, De Souza asked: “You think I’m in danger because this guy is too rich?”
Authorities told him he was not in danger but said he would likely be contacted by investigators for Spector’s attorneys.
Clarkson was killed about 5 a.m. after De Souza chauffeured Spector on a restaurant- and bar-hopping night from Beverly Hills to the Sunset Strip. Clarkson, a hostess at the House of Blues, agreed to go with Spector to his suburban Alhambra mansion after getting off work.
Jurors heard testimony Tuesday that police fired a Taser gun at Spector before he was taken into custody, apparently because he was uncooperative. But a paramedic who saw him at the jail testified that Spector “had no medical complaints” and declined treatment because the gun’s barbs did not penetrate his skin.
An Alhambra police officer testified that Spector cooperated when he was taken to jail, tested for gunshot residue, stripped nude and examined.
Spector rose to fame in the 1960s and 70s, transforming rock music with what became known as the “Wall of Sound” recording technique. Clarkson was best known for the 1985 film “Barbarian Queen.”