Published January 13, 2015
The pictures were the subject of testimony by Lynne Herold, a sheriff's criminalist. The pictures had been seen before, but of all the forensic experts to testify so far, Herold's analysis on Tuesday was the most graphic and her descriptions the most shocking.
She spoke of clotting blood, stringy blood, blood spatter and bodily fluids.
Seated in the courtroom's front row, Clarkson's mother and sister averted their eyes from the death photos displayed on a big screen, sometimes in groups of four.
But they watched with interest when an image of Clarkson's clothing, including the last dress she wore, was projected on a screen with marks to show where blood spattered on it.
Several times, prosecutor Alan Jackson compared the scenes jurors were seeing to the gory movies of Quentin Tarantino, which led the expert to say that details of a real murder are different than the screen versions.
She said that blood on the gun that killed Clarkson and on her face and hand was smeared at some point but it was hard to tell how. She said three sources of "moving blood" would be the gun, a bloody cloth found nearby and "Mr. Spector."
"But the gun doesn't move itself, so he moved it?" asked Jackson.
"That is the inference," said Herold. "I'm assuming no law enforcement personnel moved it."
The expert said she was not at the death scene in Spector's mansion and made her analysis primarily from photographs and examination of evidence in her laboratory.
Clarkson, 40, died from a single bullet fired into her mouth in the foyer of the music producer's home on Feb. 3, 2003. The defense claims that Clarkson, whose body was slumped in a chair, killed herself.
"Here you can see the smeared blood up into her hair," Herold said as jurors looked at a picture of Clarkson's damaged profile.
She said it was clear that someone had moved Clarkson's head at some point before the body was found.
Jackson asked whether Clarkson was immediately incapacitated by the gunshot or whether she could have gotten up and moved.
"No, she would not have been able to move," said the witness. "... There is no movement by her after she started bleeding."
At the start of her testimony, Herold made an assertion that contradicted a claim made during the defense opening statement.
Herold said that scientific literature shows that blood spatter travels no more than 2-3 feet (0.9 meters) from the point where the bullet impacts a person.
The defense claimed that blood can travel as far as 6 feet (1.83 meters) and its controversial forensic expert, Henry Lee, is expected to testify on that point.
"Obviously, we cannot line up people and shoot them to see what happens," Herold said. "But we look at crime scenes and measure blood spatter. It's a combination of laboratory testing and crime scene observations."
Jackson asked her if it was surprising that there was so little blood spatter on Clarkson's slip dress.
"Not to me," the witness said cheerfully. "It's not like the guy standing offstage (in the movies) who throws the bucket of blood."
Shortly after the witness noted that a certain blood flow could barely be seen on the screen and the prosecutor noted that "jurors will have the photos to look at up close and personal," the judge called a recess.
"Given the nature of this kind of testimony I think breaks are especially important," said Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler.
Clarkson, who appeared in the 1985 movie "Barbarian Queen," died just hours after meeting Spector at her job as a House of Blues hostess and agreeing to go home with him for a drink.
Spector, 67, was a leading music producer in the 1960s and '70s, rising to fame with a revolutionary recording technique known as the "Wall of Sound."