Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

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

'Lana, Don't Go'

In his closing argument Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson asked the jury to imagine themselves in the House of Blues parking lot on the night of Lana Clarkson's death as she was about to leave with defendant Phil Spector. Jackson said, "You'd lean over and you'd whisper, 'Don't go. Don't go.' You'd simply say, 'Lana, don't go. The reason that you would say that is because you know something she didn't know. You know in your heart of hearts he is responsible for her death. He killed her."

Lana Clarkson
Lana Clarkson

The Los Angeles Times characterized Jackson's 4 hour and 13 minute closing as a "fierce performance" that included a 130-slide Power Point presentation and video clips of various prosecution witnesses and of Clarkson herself, which evoked tears in the courtroom. He called Spector's defense a "checkbook defense," saying that the defendant paid scientific experts large sums of money to testify in this case. "When the defense didn't like the way the science was going, they changed the science," Jackson said. One slide in his presentation showed photographs of the defense's forensic pathologists—Michael Baden, Werner Spitz, and Vincent DiMaio—under the heading "The Script."

Another slide showed a list of ten scientific points that defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden had promised in her opening statement would prove that Lana Clarkson had committed suicide. Jackson attacked each item, saying that the defense failed to prove those points, marking each one in turn with a red "X."

In slow, measured words Jackson told the jury, "We do not have to prove an intent to kill." He compared Spector to a person who drops a bowling ball from a freeway overpass just to see what will happen and hits a car, killing the driver. Jackson explained that under California law this kind of conscious disregard for human life calls for a second-degree murder charge.

He pointed to Spector whose hands shook throughout the trial. "What if he had a tremor and the gun just went off? It just doesn't matter," Jackson said. "There could have been an earthquake and the gun goes off. It doesn't matter."

Later, when the jury was out of the courtroom on lunch break, the defense objected to Jackson's characterization of the law, saying that he had confused the jury with an overly broad definition of second-degree murder, and asked for a mistrial. Judge Fidler denied the request but asked Jackson to amend his statements when he continued with his closing statement.

Jackson spoke long into the afternoon, extending the day beyond the customary 4:30 PM recess. He concluded his presentation with video clips of the five women who had testified that Spector had threatened them with guns in the past as well as a clip of Spector's chauffeur, Adriano DeSouza, testifying that Spector had emerged from his home on the night of the murder with blood on his hands, saying, "I think I killed somebody." The presentation ended with glamorous images of Lana Clarkson from her promotional videotape. Jackson finished by telling the jury that Clarkson was "entitled to your justice."

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