Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

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

'Very, Very, Very, Very Depressed'

The prosecution called to the stand a former security guard for comedienne Joan Rivers who testified that he had ejected Phil Spector from Christmas parties at Rivers's New York home two years in a row in the 1990s when Spector made threatening statements about shooting women. Retired New York City police detective Vincent Tannazzo told the jury that on the first occasion Rivers's manager Dorothy Melvin informed him that Spector had pulled out a handgun at the party. (Previously in the trial Melvin had given testimony regarding an incident in which Spector had threatened her with a gun.) Tannazzo said that as he escorted Spector out, he could feel the gun under Spector's jacket and warned him not to touch it or he would go for his own weapon and shoot him. On the way out, Spector used a vulgar term to describe women when he stated that they "all deserve a bullet in their heads."

One year later Spector made a scene at Rivers's annual Christmas party, and once again Dorothy Melvin asked Tannazzo to remove him. According to Tannazzo, when he took Spector down to the lobby, a woman happened to be getting out of the elevator, and Spector commented, "I'm gonna put a bullet in her head." Tannazzo took the belligerent producer outside and put him in his limousine.

The defense proceeded to present their case with a series of witnesses whose testimony gave the jury a portrait of a troubled Lana Clarkson. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedic David Stark testified that when he treated Clarkson at a Christmas party in 2001, he had smelled alcohol on her breath. She had broken both wrists after falling at the party.

Lana Clarkson
Lana Clarkson

Clarkson's friend, writer David Schapiro, told the jury that she had complained to him about her money woes. In an e-mail she wrote to him in 2000, she said, "I am going to tidy up my affairs and chuck it, because it is really all too much for one girl to bear anymore." She also wrote, "I'm so tired of struggling to eat." Under cross-examination, Schapiro admitted that Clarkson was known to exaggerate.

Playwright John Barons testified that three months before Clarkson's death, he had fired her from his production of "Brentwood Blondes" when she became unpredictable and difficult to work with.

In the days before she died, Lana Clarkson was "absolutely out of her mind and depressed," according to her friend Jennifer Hayes-Riedl. Forced to work at House of Blues to make ends meet, Clarkson was "humiliated," Hayes Riedl testified. In addition to her financial problems, Clarkson had recently broken up with a man she thought was going to be "the one." Hayes-Riedl told the jury that Clarkson drank to excess and often combined Vicodin with champagne or tequila.

On cross-examination, prosecutor Patrick Dixon asked Hayes-Riedl about Clarkson's attitude regarding her career. Hayes-Riedl admitted that her friend had been hopeful, but "it was game-face hope. That's different from long-term hope." Clarkson, she said, was "very, very, very, very depressed."

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