LOS ANGELES – A witness called to support defense claims that actress Lana Clarkson was depressed before her death at Phil Spector's mansion was accused by prosecutors Tuesday of saying the record producer should "fry" for killing her.
Punkin Irene Elizabeth Laughlin denied she made the comment to a man at a social event.
"Is it true you said, 'We need to fry that ... for killing Lana Clarkson?"' asked prosecutor Alan Jackson.
"Not that I remember," said Laughlin. "I don't think I would have ever said that."
"As you sit here today, do you remember using that phrase to anybody?" asked Jackson.
"No," said Laughlin. "I never believed that, so I don't remember ever saying that."
Laughlin became flustered when defense attorney Roger Rosen asked her, "You never believed what?"
"It's a hard question for me to answer," she said.
The witness, who goes by the name Punkin Pie, is among Clarkson's friends called to support the defense claim that the 40-year-old actress was suicidal when she went to Spector's home on Feb. 3, 2003. Spector is charged with murdering Clarkson, but his attorneys claim she shot herself.
She testified Monday that during a tearful phone call days before her death, Clarkson said she was sick of Hollywood.
Laughlin said the actress bemoaned career failures and quoted her as saying: "I can't take it anymore. I'm sick of this town. I want out."
Jackson sought to undermine her account, stressing that Laughlin and others had spoken of Clarkson's generally happy personality and suggested 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 by having to work for $9 an hour as a hostess at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip.
Jackson suggested it was a good job.
"She didn't get a job slingin' hash at Denny's, right?" he asked.
"Yes," Laughlin said coldly. But she said it took pep-talking by her to convince Clarkson it was a job that 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," she said. "But I calmed her down. I didn't think anything was imminent."
When she was told a few days later that Clarkson was dead, Laughlin said, she was inconsolable.
She also said she was inundated with calls from media because it was known she was Clarkson's best friend. She said she contacted a lawyer for the Clarkson family who told her not to comment.
Laughlin also talked to homicide detectives who came to her door but acknowledged she did not mention any suicidal feelings by Clarkson.
Jackson accused her of adding those details later. He suggested she wanted to make money from a book deal.
"You're kidding me, right?" she snapped, saying that there is no book and that she has lost money because of her inability to work.
Under defense questioning, Laughlin told of good times when she and Clarkson went to Jamaica on vacation and to parties at 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 well-known 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. Clarkson found modest fame as the star of a cult movie, "Barbarian Queen," in the 1980s.