The Phil Spector Trial: We Watch Court TV So You Don't Have To (09/06)

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WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY? Finally, after four and a half months of testimony, closing arguments began in the murder trial of famed producer Phil Spector. First up: the prosecution. Deputy DA Alan Jackson started things off by hypothetically putting the jurors in the House of Blues parking lot the night Spector coaxed Lana Clarkson to come back to his castle in Alhambra. With a CCTV video still of Clarkson and Spector in the parking lot on the projection screen, Jackson asked the jury what they would tell Clarkson if they were there, in that parking lot, on that night. Jackson speaks unanimously on behalf of the jury when he cups his hands around his mouth and whispers, "Don't go." These are the heartstrings that Jackson would play with throughout his closing argument, which lasted the entire day and left no defense rock unturned. With the help of a perfectly synched PowerPoint presentation, Jackson broke down the Spector defense team step by step, calling Spector's collection of high-powered lawyers and big time witnesses "a checkbook defense."

At the onset, a jaw-dropping moment: Jackson played the call chauffeur Adriano de Souza made to police after Spector came stumbling out his house, gun in right hand, and proclaimed, "I think I shot somebody." That phrase is repeated often throughout the series of phone calls that the police fielded that night, all while Spector was back in his mansion washing his hands, tidying up the crime scene, dabbing Clarkson's face with toilet water, and positioning the gun just so that it looks like a suicide, he argued.

Next, Jackson eviscerated the testimony from Clarkson's so-called friends Punkin Pie and Jennifer Hayes-Riedl so surgically that it's hard to believe either woman will want to leave their house tomorrow. He painted both women as liars who stated under oath that they were so close to Lana that they talked to her three or four times a day, yet records showed neither made or received a phone call or e-mail to or from Clarkson in the four months prior to her death.

Jackson returned to the defense's suicide theory, arguing that Clarkson wasn't depressed, and even if she was, it wasn't nearly to the magnitude Pie and others claimed. Besides, Jackson reasons, depressed people don't commit suicide; clinically depressed people who are mentally sick with depression commit suicide, not people who just have a bad day. They don't, in the case of Clarkson, sling a purse over their shoulder, sit in a chair closest to the door, and abstain from writing a goodbye note or calling a loved one, even though the phone was mere feet away. As Jackson argued: The defense will have you believe Clarkson entered Spector's house, seamlessly found a gun that was hidden in Spector's drawer, loaded up on Spector's bullets and, unbeknownst to Spector, shot herself.

By lunchtime, the first half of Jackson's closing argument was so damaging to the defense that Spector's new lawyer Dennis Riordan grabbed at five miniscule legal straws in an effort to have the case be called a mistrial. Judge Fidler denied the motion for a mistrial, but asked Jackson to tone down the editorializing.

Following the recess, Jackson came back firing by referencing the five women the prosecution brought to the stand to testify that, in a similar situation, Spector pointed guns at them as well. Near the end of his closing argument, Jackson contended that instead of telling de Souza that "I think I killed somebody," Spector in fact should have said "I think I finally killed somebody." Later, Jackson attacks each of the defense's witnesses one by one, focusing on the easy target, Dr. Vincent DiMaio, and closing on Dr. Michael Baden. Jackson tells the jury how the defense tried to blindside the prosecution with Baden's "non-transected spine" revelation, but in the end, Baden's epiphany is nothing more than a "Hail Mary pass that gets dropped in the end zone." After all the controversy, Jackson muffled the Baden-fueled cacophony with a simple football reference.

For his closing act, Jackson screened a montage of Clarkson in multiple roles throughout her career. The video, soundtracked by Steely Dan's "Peg," casted Clarkson as a happy, hard-working actress, and not the suicidal failure presented by the Spector defense team.

IS THIS GOOD OR BAD FOR SPECTOR? Jackson was so masterful and effective, only a miracle on par with Moses parting the sea can save Spector from being convicted (or twelve jurors who believe in the phrase "celebrity justice").

TODAY IN COURT: Lawyer Linda Kenney-Baden will single-handedly present the defense's argument, despite missing three essential weeks of testimony due to a viral infection. With the resignation of Bruce Cutler still echoing in the courtroom, it falls on Kenney-Baden to at least try to undo the damage Jackson did to her client's case. The defense's closing arguments are expected to last the majority of the day, after which the prosecution's brief rebuttal closing arguments will take place. All in all, Judge Fidler told the jury he expects the trial be put in their hands at some point on Friday.

For his closing act, Jackson screened a montage of Clarkson in multiple roles throughout her career. The video, soundtracked by Steely Dan's "Peg," casted Clarkson as a happy, hard-working actress, and not the suicidal failure presented by the Spector defense team.