Spector Defense Targets Key Witness' English-Language Ability

The defense in Phil Spector's murder trial sought to show Monday that his Brazilian immigrant chauffeur, the prosecution's key witness, has trouble with English.

Driver Adriano De Souza, whose native language is Portuguese, is a major witness because he has testified that Spector came out of his home about 5 a.m. on Feb. 3, 2003, with a gun in his hand and said "I think I killed somebody" as actress Lana Clarkson's body lay slumped in a chair inside the mansion's foyer.

Under cross-examination by defense attorney Bradley Brunon, the chauffeur said he had been up at 6 a.m. the previous day, worked until 11 a.m., slept several hours before getting a call about 4:30 p.m. to go to work for Spector at 7 p.m. In the course of that night he took small naps in the car, De Souza said.

"When you dream, do you dream in the Portuguese language or in the English language," Brunon suddenly asked De Souza.

Prosecutor Alan Jackson objected on grounds the question assumed facts not in evidence and was irrelevant.

Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler interrupted and spoke directly to De Souza.

"Do you dream, sir?" the judge asked.

"I dream," the witness said.

"What language if any or both do you dream in?" the judge continued.

"Portuguese and English," De Souza said.

Brunon then used a following question to suggest that De Souza's current abilities in English are better now than they were more than four years ago at the time of the killing.

"Back in 2003, before you had four additional, four-plus additional years of English, living in an English-speaking country, when you heard English at that time did you first translate it to Portuguese in your own mind and then translate the answer from Portuguese to English and then answer in English?" Brunon asked.

De Souza indicated he did that when he first started learning English, but, "At that time I was good in both languages."

Clarkson, best known for a role in the 1985 film "Barbarian Queen," was working as a hostess in a VIP room at the House of Blues when she met Spector shortly before 2 a.m. on Feb. 3, 2003.

De Souza, who has testified that he drove Spector to a series of restaurants from Beverly Hills to the Sunset Strip, said Clarkson initially refused when Spector asked her to go home with him, but she then decided to go with him for a drink.

The defense claims Clarkson shot herself.

Spector rose to fame in the 1960s and '70s, transforming rock music with what became known as the "Wall of Sound" recording technique. He worked with such stars as the Ronettes, the Righteous Brothers, and produced solo albums by John Lennon and George Harrison.