LOS ANGELES – Actress Lana Clarkson told a friend in a tearful phone call just days before she died of a gunshot wound at Phil Spector's home that she was sick of Hollywood and wanted out, the friend testified.
Punkin Irene Elizabeth Laughlin wept as she recounted the call during Spector's murder trial Monday.
She said Clarkson bemoaned her career failures and told her: "I can't take it anymore. I'm sick of this town. I want out."
Laughlin, who was to return to the witness stand Tuesday, was among Clarkson's friends called to support a defense claim that the 40-year-old actress was suicidal when she went to Spector's home on Feb. 3, 2003, and may have pulled the trigger on the gun that killed her.
Prosecutor Alan Jackson sought to undermine her account in a pummeling cross examination. He stressed that Laughlin and others had spoken of Clarkson's generally happy personality and suggested that both Laughlin and a previous witness, Jennifer Hayes-Riedl, exaggerated Clarkson's depressed mood at the end of her life.
Both women said Clarkson was humiliated that she was working for $9 an hour as a hostess at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip. She had found modest fame as the star of a cult movie, "Barbarian Queen," in the 1980s.
Jackson suggested her House of Blues work was a good job.
"She didn't get a job slingin' hash at Denny's, right?" he asked.
"Yes," Laughlin replied coldly.
But Laughlin said it took pep talks to convince Clarkson that the job might lead to better prospects.
Jackson asked why Laughlin didn't call Clarkson's family or a suicide prevention line if she thought Clarkson was so depressed.
"It was very frightening," Laughlin said. "But I calmed her down. I didn't think anything was imminent."
She acknowledged that when detectives came to her door she didn't mention any suicidal feelings by Clarkson.
Jackson accused her of adding those details later to try to get a book deal.
"You're kidding me, right?" Laughlin snapped back. She said there is no book.
Under defense questioning, Laughlin talked about vacationing in Jamaica with Clarkson and going to parties and nightclubs. Most of the time, she said, Clarkson had an "on" switch and was the life of the party. But Clarkson also had a vulnerable side, she said.
She said Clarkson could still "put on a happy face," but that changed 10 days before her death when they went to a Hollywood party where Clarkson tried to talk to producer Michael Bay, for whom she once worked.
Laughlin said Clarkson returned crying, saying he didn't know who she was.
Spector, 67, gained fame with his "Wall of Sound" music recording technique. He had met Clarkson at the House of Blues of that night and took her back to his suburban mansion after she got off work. Prosecutors claim that Spector shot Clarkson in his foyer as she prepared to leave.
The music producer's chauffeur, Adriano De Souza, offered some of the prosecutions' most damning testimony when he talked about waiting for two hours outside Spector's home for Clarkson's departure, then hearing a "pow" around 5 a.m. De Souza testified that, seconds later, Spector emerged holding a gun and saying, "I think I killed somebody."