WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY? Following what seemed to be a case-crippling closing argument by prosecutor Alan Jackson, Phil Spector defense lawyer Linda Kenney-Baden had the arduous task of presenting the defense's closing arguments. Kenney-Baden had one task: not to prove innocent, but to prove reasonable doubt. Employing a similar PowerPoint technique as the prosecution, Kenney-Baden started off her argument with a focus on science. It is science, and only science, that could convict Spector in this case, and in this case, science "proves" Lana Clarkson took her own life at Spector's castle.
Things started off shaky for Kenney-Baden. From the get-go, it was easy to see her argument would be devoid of the charisma and grandiloquence that Alan Jackson packed into the prosecution's summary. The PowerPoint presentation, Jackson's MVP yesterday, had the complete opposite effect yesterday. When Kenney-Baden used the program to show the jury a video of how blood spatter spreads, it suddenly froze, halting the momentum. Later, evidence photos were incorrectly ordered, causing the defense to scramble to find the appropriate slide. Plus, the graphics and font were aesthetically cheesy, like the lawyers put junior high schoolers in charge of the design.
Still, she is effective, commanding the jury to take the facts of the case into the deliberation room with them and leave all the assumptions behind. The facts, Kenney-Baden told the jury, are that nothing scientific proves Spector pulled the trigger, in fact they prove the complete opposite. We heard the terms "blood spatter" and "gunshot residue" repeated over and over again, ingraining into the jurors' minds that both terms support Clarkson shooting herself, and not Spector shooting Clarkson. In fact, Spector would "have to be a contortionist" to have killed Clarkson. Before going on the much-needed lunch break, Kenney-Baden hammers home theories of police and government ineptitude in handling the case, from conduct at the crime scene to mishandling evidence to autopsy procedural errors that all distorted proof that Spector was innocent.
After the recess, Kenney-Baden finally launched into the Clarkson character assassination. Clarkson, according to Kenney-Baden, was a pill-popping alcoholic who compliantly went back to Spector's house. Kenney-Baden subtly insinuated that Clarkson even performed oral sex on Spector before taking her own life. The lawyer argued Spector was a feeble old man who could easily have been overpowered by the taller, heavier Clarkson. When discussing Spector's eccentric crime scene behavior, Kenney-Baden claimed that Spector, overwhelmed by Clarkson's suicide, was not all there mentally when he was confronted by a handful of police officers who instantly assumed it was murder. Spector represents, to the police and district attorney, a star they could finally hang a crime on, someone who would be a "celebrity notch in their gun belt," in the wake of the O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake acquittals.
But was Clarkson depressed enough to commit suicide? Despite dying in February 2003, Clarkson had yet to purchase a calendar for that year, even though she had fully detailed calendars for the previous years. In fact, Kenney-Baden argues that in 2004, the prosecution made some startling revelations that caused to them do a full-scale investigation into the life of Clarkson to confirm to themselves that she wasn't suicidal. The defense reveals that Clarkson repeatedly tried to make appointments with psychiatrists in 2002, and in January 2003, just one month before her death, she and the man she thought she would marry parted ways. "We don't want to assassinate her character," Kenney-Baden says, before rattling off the "fact" that Clarkson was childless, husband-less, a career failure, had risk factors for engaging in reckless activities, and on the brink of bankruptcy. A subtle mention of recent suicide attempter Owen Wilson was even thrown in.
Thursday's session finally ended with a half-hour examination of Spector chauffeur Adriano de Souza, his reckless misuse of the English language (his native tongue is Portuguese), and how he might have misinterpreted the "I think I shot somebody" statement. At that point, Judge Fidler decided that now would be a good place to stop for the day.
IS THIS GOOD OR BAD FOR SPECTOR? You have to tip your hat to Kenney-Baden: With the pressure of following up Alan Jackson's arguments and the job of hoisting on her back an entire defense team that lost their original closing arguer, Kenney-Baden was extremely effective. While it's doubtful it will be enough to get an all-out acquittal, it might be enough to hang a jury.
IN COURT TODAY: Kenney-Baden will have another hour's worth of closing arguments, followed by the prosecution's estimated two-hour rebuttal closing argument. After that, Phil Spector's fate enters the jury's hands for the remainder of Friday. If the jurors fail to come to a verdict by end of court today, deliberations will resume on Monday.
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