LOS ANGELES – The chauffeur who is a key witness in Phil Spector's murder trial was seen in a videotape played in court Tuesday repeating the words he told the jury he heard the music producer say more than four years ago: "I think I killed somebody."
The videotape, made by homicide detectives five hours after actress Lana Clarkson was shot inside Spector's home as the driver waited outside, was admitted into evidence over defense objections.
It showed that chauffeur Adriano De Souza, a Brazilian immigrant with a heavy accent, easily handled English when he was questioned by detectives and, although clearly upset, stayed to his story.
According to De Souza, Spector came out of his house in the early hours of Feb. 3, 2003, with a gun in one hand and made the statement as Clarkson's body lay slumped in a chair in the foyer behind him.
At one point as the detectives questioned him in an interview room, De Souza asked whether he was in danger because Spector is such a rich man.
The detectives told him he was not in danger but warned him that the case was going to be "high profile" and the story would be newsworthy and that he could expect to be contacted by investigators for Spector's attorneys.
"I don't think you're in danger," one detective said. "But do I think his attorney is going to contact you? Yes. Just tell the truth. You are not obligated to talk to anyone."
At one point during the lengthy tape, De Souza appeared to become flustered as the detectives continued to question him about the words that Spector used. He was asked again and again if he was sure that what was said was, "I think I killed somebody."
De Souza hesitated and said, "I think so. I think so. I'm not sure."
When De Souza returned to the witness stand at the end of the tape, defense attorney Bradley Brunon seized on that point and asked if the chauffeur indeed said he wasn't sure.
"Yes, I said that," said De Souza.
But during further questioning by both sides he reiterated that he was sure Spector made that statement.
The tape contained a complete account from the chauffeur of what happened on the night Clarkson was shot and jurors heard him repeat the phrase "I think I killed somebody" many times.
Clarkson was killed about 5 a.m. on the morning after De Souza chauffeured Spector on a restaurant- and bar-hopping night from Beverly Hills to the Sunset Strip. Clarkson, a hostess at the House of Blues, agreed to go with Spector to his suburban Alhambra mansion after getting off work.
The defense has sought to show that De Souza, whose native language is Portuguese, could not understand English well enough to testify accurately. The defense has also questioned whether he was aiding authorities in an effort to resolve his own immigration problems.
Spector rose to fame in the 1960s and 70s, transforming rock music with what became known as the "Wall of Sound" recording technique. Clarkson was best known for the 1985 film "Barbarian Queen."