Letters and e-mails written by the woman whom music producer Phil Spector is accused of killing say she was “at the end of my rope” and expressed despondency about her acting career.
But the judge in Spector’s murder trial rejected an attempt by the music producer’s lawyers to introduce Lana Clarkson’s writings about living in a home where an actress committed suicide in the 1930s.
Spector’s defense team used the e-mails and letters in cross-examining a deputy medical examiner, Dr. Louis Pena, about his finding that Clarkson’s death from a gunshot fired in her mouth was a homicide, not a suicide.
Pena said he did not see most of the material, and when questioned about most of it, he said it would not have changed his opinion.
Clarkson, an actress best known for her role in Roger Corman’s 1985 cult classic “Barbarian Queen,” was 40 when she died in Spector’s foyer after going home with him on Feb. 3, 2003.
Clarkson’s letters to friends and a doctor in preceding months were read aloud by a defense attorney. They included the phrases “I’m at the end of my rope here” and “I was at the end of my tether.”
To one friend she wrote, “You know me, Polly Positive. But (expletive) this year has been the worst. I began to question my talent.”
Letters and medical records indicated she was plagued by constant headaches and for a time could not function because of them. She had also been on strong prescription narcotic medications but in her later communications said she had discontinued them and had stopped drinking.
She also wrote at one point, “This has been definitely the most difficult year of my life. My finances are a shambles and I am on the verge of losing everything.”
Clarkson also wrote about how in late 2001 she broke both wrists, getting 22 fractures, was hospitalized and was on disability for an extended period.
Prosecutor Alan Jackson read the entirety of the letters and e-mails, saying they needed to be placed in context.
“I really feel like I’m losing it. I’m kind of feeling like giving up the dream and therefore the struggle,” said one letter.
Jackson asked Pena whether that sounded like an actress contemplating giving up career goals rather than suicide.
Pena said yes.
Questioning Pena, the prosecutor sought to show jurors that Clarkson had a positive outlook before her death. In January 2003, Clarkson had been hired for an infomercial, she provided her agent with new information about herself to submit for TV pilots and she was supposed to be the master of ceremonies for a House of Blues employee party on Feb. 4, 2003.
Jackson also noted that four days before her death she wrote to a friend about her nightclub job, saying, “I’m enjoying it. I’m also dealing with a bunch of drunk idiots but that comes with the territory.”
‘Suicidal vision’ rejected
Earlier, Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler, clearly peeved, rejected the defense team’s attempt to use what they claim are diary-like writings of a suicidal vision taken from Clarkson’s computer.
Spector’s lawyers described the manuscript as including accounts of her having visions of a dead actress who killed herself with a gun. Fidler had indicated Friday that he likely would allow the material.
After reading the document during the weekend, he returned to court with a stern expression and said that what he found in the manuscript was so different from the defense characterizations that he checked to see if he had the right document.
He read aloud the passage about the dead actress, which showed Clarkson had found the account in a book about the history of Hollywood. And rather than visions, there was a description of seeing shadows pass a window.
“I don’t consider anything in this particular document to be significant,” Fidler concluded after allowing the defense to try to substantiate its claims.
Fidler said he would consider allowing the defense to introduce the material when it calls its own experts, but not to cross-examine the coroner.
Spector, 67, the producer who rose to fame with the hit-making “Wall of Sound” recording technique in the 1960s, is accused of murdering Clarkson, whose body was found slumped in a chair in the foyer of his mansion.
Clarkson had met him for the first time at her job as a hostess in a VIP room at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip.