WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY? Jury deliberations finally began in the Phil Spector murder trial. After one day, the jury still had not come to a decision, but that doesn’t mean the day was without drama. This weekend, an article in the U.K.’s The Mail featured recent quotes from Spector, who was supposed to be under a gag order for the duration of the trial. In his comments, Spector said that the presiding Judge Fidler “doesn’t like me,” and likened the members of the jury to “twelve people who voted for George Bush.” Ouch. That interview, as well as a Court TV interview by Spector’s outspoken twenty-six-year-old wife Rachelle, forced Judge Fidler to implore that no one involved in this case speak to the media until the trial ends. After that announcement, Rachelle Spector jumped from her seat in the audience and yelled at the judge “But I’m not a witness.” Rachelle then had the audacity to talk over Fidler as he was explaining his stance, which caused Fidler get tomato red and threaten to kick Rachelle out of court and hold her for contempt. Spector’s lawyers quickly turned to their client’s wife and whispered, sternly, something along the lines of “Shut the eff up.”
There was some court business to attend to before the jury could deliberate. The jury instructions are a crucial part of the trial, as the judge told the jury what to focus on in terms of evidence and witnesses as well as the actual charges Spector is accused of. A mess-up in jury instructions can easily result in an appeal at trial’s end, so Fidler was exact in what he told the jury, right down to correcting the pluralization of a word. For example, during jury instructions, the prosecution and defense bickered over the words “this” and “that” for what felt like the longest two minutes ever.
IS THIS GOOD OR BAD FOR SPECTOR? Who knows? It’s good for Spector that the jury didn’t deliberate for fifteen minutes and emerge with a guilty verdict; using the full four hours of deliberations yesterday means the jurors are really weighing all the evidence. Juror ten, who jotted down several notebooks worth of testimony during the trial, was elected the foreman of the jury, so the final verdict might have a lot to do with which way his notes lean.
MEANWHILE, OUTSIDE OF COURT: To kill some deliberation downtime, Court TV interviewed journalist Dominick Dunne to get his take on the Spector trial. Dunne talked about the time he urinated next to Spector while visiting the L.A. courthouse where the trial is being held. It turns out that Spector and Dunne already knew each other because the late Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun introduced them. Dunne filled Spector in on the Ertegun memorial that Phil missed because of his inconveniently scheduled murder trial. Since that restroom rendezvous, however, Spector no longer speaks to Dunne because of a less-than-flattering article Dunne wrote about Phil for Vanity Fair.