Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

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

'A Little White Thing'

A special hearing took place, without the jury present, regarding the existence of a piece of evidence allegedly found by the defense team, but withheld from the police.

Dr. Henry Lee
Dr. Henry Lee

Greg Diamond, a former law clerk for Spector's first attorney, Robert Shapiro, testified that he was with a group of defense attorneys in the foyer of Spector's home the day after Clarkson died. Blood spatter expert Dr. Henry Lee and forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden were also present. Lana Clarkson's body had been found sitting in a chair in that foyer. According to Diamond, one of the lawyers noticed a small white object in the carpet. Diamond, who came forward just weeks before the start of the trial, testified that Dr. Baden examined the object and said that it was a piece of a tooth. Los Angeles authorities never received a tooth fragment from anyone on Spector's defense team.

Dr. Baden took the stand next and testified that the incident never happened, adding that he had never been accused of tampering with evidence. "In my 47 years, this is the first time that issue has ever been raised," he said.

Attorney Sara Caplan, who had been part of the defense team at the time, testified that she saw Dr. Lee retrieve a "little white thing" from the carpet and put it into an evidence vial. She said the object was "flat with uneven edges" and roughly the size of a fingernail. She said she did not know what became of it after Dr. Lee put it in the vial.

Private investigator Stanley White then testified that he was also present in the foyer and heard Dr. Lee say that the white object was human "tissue." White, a retired sheriff's department homicide detective, said that he and Lee argued over what the object was. White was sure that it was a piece of fingernail, but Lee disagreed and told him, "You need glasses." When asked in court to gauge on a scale of 1 to 10 how sure he was that it was a fingernail, White responded, "9.5." He added that the object "looked like a defensive-wounded fingernail." He testified that it was streaked with a silver color that could have been gunpowder and that part of the nail was red, but he couldn't say for sure if this was blood, nail polish, or something else.

Dr. Lee was traveling in China and unavailable for the hearing.

This mysterious white object is significant because Clarkson had been wearing acrylic nails on the night she died, and forensic technicians found that a small piece of her right thumbnail was broken. The defense plans to argue that the broken thumbnail clearly indicates that the victim turned the gun on herself and probably pulled the trigger with her thumb.

Testimony at this hearing brought out several discrepancies in the story of this alleged incident. Greg Diamond said that Dr. Lee never touched the object. He claimed that it was Sara Caplan who found it, picked it up, and showed it to Dr. Baden. Caplan, however, testified that she never touched it and also said that Stanley White had not been in the foyer at the time it was discovered. According to Caplan, he had been outside, standing guard.

 But another investigator for the defense who had been at the scene, Bill Pavelic, testified that that he had not seen Dr. Lee or anyone else with a small white piece of anything. When later asked by Court TV about Stanley White's testimony, he angrily responded that he considered White a "prosecution witness" and a "snitch."

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