Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Phil Spector: The 'Mad Genius' of Rock'n'Roll

'Is He Lying
or Is He Incompetent?'

At a hearing held outside the presence of the jury, Judge Fidler ruled that defense criminalist Dr. Henry Lee had withheld evidence from prosecutors, leaving the door open for the state to present this information to the jury. The evidence in question was the small flat white object believed to be part of an acrylic fingernail. Two former members of Spector's defense team—attorney Sara Caplan and investigator Stanley White— had testified previously that they saw Dr. Lee in possession of this object in the foyer of Spector's mansion.

Dr. Henry Lee
Dr. Henry Lee

Lee had responded their testimony on the stand, saying that Caplan had mistaken a cotton swab that he put into a glass vial for a piece of fingernail. When shown a photograph he had taken at the crime scene depicting a white object on a wooden step, Lee said it was just a gouge in the wood. But Deputy DA Alan Jackson then presented a magnified copy of the same shot. "This is clearly not a gouge," Jackson said. "Is he lying or is he incompetent?" he added, referring to Dr. Lee.

In making his ruling Judge Fidler said: "I have to choose between the two, and Miss Caplan is more credible than Dr. Lee." He went on to say, "Dr. Lee did recover an item that was flat, white, and irregular around the edges."

But the judge clarified his ruling, explaining that he could not officially determine that the object was a fingernail or anything else; however, the jury could be told about this object and that it was missing. Judge Fidler also said that investigator Stanley White's testimony alone might not have swayed him, but White's testimony combined with Caplan's strong testimony convinced him that Lee had indeed withheld evidence from the prosecution.

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