LOS ANGELES – Prosecutors in the Phil Spector slaying case asked a judge Friday to limit the defense from suggesting shooting victim Lana Clarkson was suicidal because of a declining career.
Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson said in court documents that the defense "will attempt to attack the character of victim Lana Clarkson by painting her as the kind of person who might kill herself, despite a medical history showing no depression or suicidal" ideas.
Calling the evidence irrelevant and prejudicial, prosecutors also asked for limits on comments that Clarkson had a history of drug use and that she was an expert in handling firearms.
Clarkson was shot Feb. 3, 2003, in the foyer of Spector's suburban Alhambra home. Best known for her role in the 1980s cult film "Barbarian Queen," she was a nightclub hostess at the time of her death.
Prosecutors allege Spector — creator of the "Wall of Sound" that revolutionized the recording of rock music — shot Clarkson to death. The coroner's office called it a homicide, but also noted Clarkson had gunshot residue on both of her hands and may have pulled the trigger.
Spector has pleaded not guilty and has suggested the shooting was an accident.
Jackson also sought to exclude from trial an unfinished memoir found in Clarkson's home computer in which she discussed using cocaine in her youth and DVD clips of Clarkson acting in TV and movies, holding a gun and appearing in scenes with implied sexual content.
There was no evidence that the guns in the scenes were real, Jackson said.
"The most obvious point, however, is that the victim ... is acting. She is in scenes created by others, speaking lines written by others, and conducting herself as directed by others," the motion said. "Those characters are not Lana Clarkson any more than Sir Anthony Hopkins is Hannibal Lecter."
Prosecutors also said that the defense has been tardy in revealing the statements of some witnesses and should be precluded from calling them to the stand.
Among them is a woman identified as "Punkin Pie" Laughlin, a friend of Clarkson. According to the motion, Laughlin asserts that the "victim was trained to handle guns because of her movie roles, felt humiliated by her job as VIP hostess at The House of Blues, used Vicodin recreationally and twice told Punkin Pie that she wanted to kill herself."
Defense witness Jennifer Hayes, another friend who is trying to sell a reality TV series, calls Clarkson "a depressed unsuccessful actress and a horrible stand-up comic who 'didn't handle rejection'" and felt humiliated by her nightclub job, according to the prosecution motion.
The prosecutor seeks to limit Hayes' testimony to her observations, not insinuations about Clarkson's character.
Another proposed defense witness, playwright John Barons, wrote a play, "Brentwood Blondes," about famous blond women suffering untimely deaths. Barons directed her in a play for a month, and compared her to Marilyn Monroe.
Barons also said Clarkson was typical of actresses in her age range who say, "if I don't make it by 40 I will jump off a bridge." He called her "accident prone and clutzy" and said she could have accidentally shot herself, according to the prosecution motion.
Spector's attorney Roger Rosen defended the use of the witnesses.
"They want to prevent us from showing jurors a full picture of who Lana Clarkson was," he said.
Rosen said that prosecutors have offered their own conceivably prejudicial evidence besmirching Spector's character through witnesses who will say that Spector frequently threatened women.
"This presents Lana in a different light than they want to paint her," Rosen said. "They feel if this goes to the jury they (jurors) will conclude it was what we have said, a self-inflected gunshot wound."