Spector Detective: Actress' Killing 'Had Sexual Overtones'
LOS ANGELES – From the moment he saw actress Lana Clarkson's dead body slumped in a chair in Phil Spector's mansion, a gun at her feet and blood soaking her short black dress, the lead investigator sensed "sexual overtones," he testified Wednesday.
Sheriff's homicide Detective Mark Lillienfeld testified in Spector's murder trial that when he found a Viagra pill in the music producer's briefcase, it intensified his belief, and he seized it as evidence.
"I thought at that time, as I do today, that this murder had sexual overtones to it, and that the Viagra would prove or disprove certain facts," the detective said.
It was the first time in the six-week-old trial that a witness has mentioned sex as a possible motive.
Clarkson, 40, went home with Spector on Feb. 3, 2003, after closing time at the House of Blues, where she was a hostess. Two hours after they arrived at his castle-like suburban home, she was dead, slumped in a white French provincial chair in the foyer. She had been shot through the mouth.
Prosecutors contend Spector shot her; the defense says she shot herself.
Prosecutor Pat Dixon first elicited testimony about Viagra in the briefcase on Tuesday as he had the detective list what Spector had been carrying. He said that the Viagra container held one pill and that there were two empty slots.
Questioning the detective again Wednesday, he asked Lillienfeld to explain his suspicions of a sex crime. The witness described a romantically set scene in the elaborate living room.
"The home was dark. There were candles lit on the fireplace. There was alcohol out in front of the fireplace on a coffee table," he said. Someone had left a nearly empty brandy snifter in the bathroom, along with a pair of false eyelashes, he added.
"Miss Clarkson, the way she was dressed, the person that she was, the person that the defendant was -- all those facts in my mind played into a sexually motivated murder, and the Viagra was a piece of evidence that would perhaps prove later on to be important," Lillienfeld said.
Defense attorney Bradley Brunon had raised the issue earlier, asking Lillienfeld whether he had any evidence that Spector took Viagra that night.
"I do not," the detective said.
Noting that Lillienfeld examined Clarkson's clothing, Brunon asked, "You didn't find any tears or rips associated with someone tearing at her or pawing at her?"
"I did not," Lillienfeld said.
The attorney attempted to ask about the results of a rape examination of Clarkson but the witness said he did not know. Jurors have already heard that the examination was negative.
Late in the day, the judge threatened to hold in contempt a lawyer who said she would refuse to testify on whether a defense forensic expert withheld evidence.
Prosecutors hoped to call Sara Caplan, formerly a member of Spector's defense team, to repeat testimony she gave at an evidentiary hearing. Outside the jury's presence, she refused and cited attorney-client privilege.
Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler, outraged, said that Caplan was the only "unimpeachable witness" on the subject and that case law supports her testifying.
"If she refuses to testify I will hold her in contempt. ... I think she is making a terrible mistake," Fidler said.
Caplan, near tears, told the judge that when she testified at the hearing she never thought she would have to testify at trial against a former client.
Her lawyer, Michael Nasatir, begged the judge to reconsider. Fidler delayed a decision until Monday, when the trial resumes.
Spector, 67, rose to fame with the hit-making "Wall of Sound" recording technique in the 1960s. Clarkson was best known for her role in the 1985 movie "Barbarian Queen.