Tuesday, September 25, 2007

HOW AND WHY LANA CLARKSON DIED

HOW AND WHY LANA CLARKSON REALLY DIED

As we all wait for the jury in the Phil Spector trial to finish up and remain hung regardless of how many times the judge tries to influence them towards a guilty verdict in this never ending California courts gong show I thought I’d let you know in advance what really happened that rather early morning in Feb 2003 and of course not just how it happened but why.

After watching as much of the trial as I could either on Court TV or on their Internet feed I decided I should do a little background work and come up with a more plausible theory than the one put forward by the prosecution, which certainly doesn’t stand up to forensic science, firearms science or common sense.

First lets look at the two people involved:

Phil Spector - once the most powerful music producer in the world, now a 60ish, bald diminutive man who no longer commanded the respect he had in the past. A man known within industry circles to have two dramatic personalities, one the charming, giving, generous, soft spoken shy musical genius, the other a belligerent dominant egomaniac who always carried a handgun and when overly intoxicated would at times wave his pistol around and make outrageous demands often against the very women he claimed to care for. Not really a nice picture but one that was tolerated because if Phil Spector took interest in your career you were going to be more successful than would be possible without his help.

Lana Clarkson – once an actress of some note, appearing in a few so called B-movies and starring in one and with several small appearances in A list sitcoms that she hoped would lead to either a full time TV role or an A list screen appearance but really it only led to a few commercials and as with hundreds of actresses it didn’t really lead anywhere, also like hundreds before her she tried every angle possible to remain a full time actress and not to have to resort to that dreaded backwards step of having to take a straight job again but that was where she ended up when in a last ditch attempt she borrowed all the money she could to produce and present a DVD that would be her final chance to save her career. She soon realized that it wasn’t getting the response she’d hoped for, in fact it was getting no response and she was even forced to pen at least response letters from industry executives in the hope that these forged letters would help her. Recently turned 40 (young to you and me but not to an actress who has not yet made it) recently forced by economics to take a job as a hostess albeit in the VIP lounge at the House of Blues and facing the reality that her last ditch attempt had failed, this must have been a heavy burden for her.

The night in question Lana showed up on time, in the new shoes purchased that very day by her mother. He mother took her shoe shopping that day…much has been made of the fact that she purchased 7 pairs of shoes and therefore was planning ahead and therefore wouldn’t kill herself…first she didn’t purchase 7 pairs of shoes nor did she suggest going shopping that day. Her mother suggested lunch and shopping (check the transcripts)…something my wife and daughters do together often to stay in touch and its used as an excuse by my wife to stay in touch more often than our daughters would if they were left to their own devices but I digress. When they met for lunch her mother asked her what she needed and she replied that because of her new job she had to be on her feet for many hours each night and none of her stylish shoes were up to the task so the mother did what mothers do…she not only bought her daughter the pair she need but 6 other pairs they both thought were perfect for her. Lana wasn’t planning for the future her loving mother was trying to help her daughter through what must have been a very stressful and trying time. My wife says mothers know when their children are in pain and even if it’s best left unsaid they try to reach out in a comfortable way to shows their children that they care and are there for them.

Back to the night before her death, Lana showed up for work early in the evening while Phil Spector was making his way around town with different people having drinks. Eventually he showed up at the House of Blues and the newest hostess to the VIP lounge initially thought he was a woman because of his long too large white jacket (apparently it really was a woman’s jacket) and his hairstyle (his wig) but when she asked who he was she was told by the clubs manager and her boss he’s Phil Spector and should be treated as if he was Dan Aykroyd, one of the cofounders and owners of the House of Blues chain. With that knowledge she attended to Phil’s every need throughout the remainder of the evening. As the night wore on he began to ask Lana to come back to the castle (the name of his home) to which she always declined sighting several common reasons women generally use when they are politely trying to tell you to “get lost” like I’m too tired, I’d be no fun…I have an early morning tomorrow etc. Phil being Phil and Lana worried about pissing off somebody as important as Phil Spector and her boss finally relented and agreed to come to his home for drinks.

Although the House of Blues management denies that Lana or any other employee was drinking while on duty that night two factors say otherwise, one I’ve worked in a bar and almost all employees share a shot or two with a kindly paying patron or each other through the night and two her blood alcohol level and stomach contents showed more than just the brandy found open in his house and in the quantities missing from the bottle they were sharing so I’m guessing fatigue (remember she was up since late morning to go shopping with her mom and then straight to work until 0130 or so), a few drinks and the fear of agitating an important customer convinced Lana that a couple of drinks at the castle and a chance to let somebody important know that she was really an actress wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

Again the blood alcohol tells level during the post mortem (as does a few limo rides myself) that the drinking continued during the ride to the castle so when Lana and Phil arrived, Phil was probably well down the impaired road while Lana was probably less down the road but still at that relaxed easy going point, you all know what I’m talking about. It was then that they entered the castle though the back door and walked down the foyer towards the living room. During this walk Phil Spector either decided to impress Lana by removing his .38 cal Colt revolver in its custom made hip holster and putting it away in a drawer or did so without thinking as the drink had relaxed and embolden him. Lana either didn’t care didn’t mind or at least didn’t object, as she didn’t leave on the spot, as we know from the evidence and further events.

After passing through the foyer they both entered the living room where Phil remained in his charming mode, he light candles, turned down the lights and got out the brandy to sip. They even shared a glass (DNA of both Lana and Phil was found on one glass) either on purpose or because they were becoming so intoxicated that they didn’t realize whose glass was whose. They began to make out willingly (Phil Spector’s saliva DNA found on her neck line and upper breast) as there was no sign of anything other than consensual foreplay, kissing and fondling.

Phil Spector knows how old he is and how much he’d had to drink and understandably headed upstairs to take a double douse of Viagra (two tablets of a three pack were missng). I believe that while he’s upstairs preparing for the big moment Lana has a moment of clarity and grabs her purse and heads for the back door hoping to leave but she finds the door locked and can’t figure out how to open it. Being drunk and feeling horrible about how low she has sunken she decides to sit in a chair beside the foyer table to await Phil Spector to tell him she’s sorry but must leave (she knows nothing of his past history with women), thinking all along, damn the job if it comes to that but sleeping with the likes of Phil Spector is not worth it. As she waits for him the booze continues to work with the prescription pills she’d taken earlier and her thoughts continue to dwell on how she was failing in her life long dream of becoming a successful actress (we all know what we think about when we’ve been drinking and are left alone) and how she was reduced to being a hostess in front of former colleagues, not to mention almost sleeping with a 60 plus year old, wig wearing midget, who was going to continue to drunkenly slobber all over her and then pass out forgetting all his promises of help with her career the next day. It was then that she remembered the gun in the drawer…she opened the drawer and there it was still in its custom made hip holster. She drew the gun from the holster (she taken weapons lessons and was familiar with firearms) and in a moment of great despair fuelled no doubt by a combination of fatigue, alcohol, prescription drugs and the realization that she had sunken to levels she hadn’t thought herself capable of she did the unimaginable and put the gun into her mouth and without hesitation pulled the trigger. Everybody says how could she commit suicide in a stranger house…well this is how, opportunity, alcohol magnified depression and bam it’s done and to late for a re-do.

Hearing the gunshot from upstairs Phil ran down to see what had happened, seeing the blood on her face Phil returned upstairs to get the most absorbent item he could find. He grabbed a diaper (he tore up diapers to use as cleaning material for his numerous guns) and wet it in the downstairs bathroom before wiping her face. Realizing that she wasn’t moving he went back upstairs (I’m guessing alcohol, shock and fear had kicked in big time now) and for some reason dropped the diaper in his bedroom removed his white jacket (which she bleed on under his right sleeve as he tried to wipe her and her head was to the left as the police found it) and returned downstairs to take the gun from Lana’s now dead hand. Remembering his driver (this is a man not used to doing anything for himself) he went outside to ask him for help. When he walked out the gun was in his right hand down by his side facing the ground and he yelled “I think I just killed someone” according to the driver, a funny statement to make whether you did it or not. The prosecution would have you believe that he was coherent enough to try and clean up the murder scene but then forgot to hide the jacket and diaper and then confessed to the first person he saw. Hard for me to accept but you never know I suppose. I’m guessing that the driver did what we’ve all done once in a while, he heard what made sense to him based on what he was seeing. I’m guessing Phil yelled “I think someone has been killed” or words to that effect and the driver having been jolted out of his long boring wait by a bang (loud enough to hear in a car with music on over a fountain through a closed door) in the middle of the night and then a few minutes later seeing Phil with a gun in his hand and not seeing Lana…whether is was a language challenge (the driver was a native Portuguese speaker who spoke and understood reasonable English) or the shock of the moment I really believe he heard what his eyes told him to hear and he fully believes it just as I have defending myself in argument with my wife when of course I was totally wrong.

Since we have no eye witnesses that have told us what happened and my theory doesn’t match the prosecutions theory I guess we should just depend on the only independent witness, forensic science to guide us to a reasonable conclusion.

Was Lana depressed, who knows, her friends (hard to call any of them friends) seem split on the matter and many seem more interested in the publicity that the trial has brought to them instead of being unbiased truth-tellers. Her mother is devastated by the premature loss of her daughter but willingly provided forged letters to the lawyers showing how desperate Lana was to have people think her very expensive DVD was a hit and maybe ignore their own instincts. Her mother’s act of buying her an excessive amount of shoes to my male mind says that she was trying to cheer up her daughter…now that doesn’t indicate depression but certainly sets the stage for alcohol to do what it does best and that’s to magnify your emotions. Anybody who’s been to a party and seen somebody who’s been drinking react to a present or bad news knows how over the top in either direction they can become.

Was Phil a gun carrying person who if put in the wrong mood became an idiot who threatened women…no doubt about it and if science showed that he did it his background surely would put the final nail in the coffin but sadly science gives us the opposite result.

When somebody fires a weapon of any type or calibre an amount of gunshot residue is deposited on the shooters hands and the clothing around that hand. The larger the calibre and with revolvers the amount of gunshot residue is dramatically increased due to the design of the weapon. Phil Spector did not have any gunshot residue on his hands (he could have washed off the majority of it) but more importantly he didn’t have even microscopic traces of gunshot residue on his jacket cuffs or sleeves (or his shirt, which he was wearing when he came out in case you’re thinking he took his jacket off).

The next thing to consider is blood and more importantly blood spray or as the experts say spatter. When a bullet hits a human an amount of blood is forced back following the incoming trajectory of the bullet, the blood rarely travels but fractions of inches but the tiny particles of blood that make up splatter can travel several feet (as we found out in the trial experts disagree on the exact distance but did agree that it will travel a minimum of 2 feet and a maximum of 6 feet). Now if Phil fired the gun the math is simple, his arm length (roughly 35 inches based on his height (height divided by two plus the length of the revolver) or 3 feet 3 inches) he was within the median range that the experts all agreed he had to be in (assuming his arm was fully outstretched, if his arm wasn’t it gets worse for the prosecution) to get splatter all over his jacket or shirt if you believe the jacket was off or body if you believe his shirt was now off too (and then in a moment of clarity replaced followed by an admission of gilt). Unfortunately for the prosecutions case there was absolutely no splatter where you really needed it to be, on the cuffs or sleeves and when I say none I mean microscopically none. This is a complete impossibility if he fired a revolver within a person’s mouth based on his size. The prosecution tried to repair/resolve this problem with a PowerPoint slide demo in the rebuttal closing argument that showed the recoil of the gun causing the gun to exit Lana’s mouth and recoil up and to the right so quickly that the spray missed Phil to his left. Sadly this ignored the video of the exact same handgun being fired and all the weapons science that showed the recoil of the .38 cal Colt that was confirmed as the weapon used in this death.

This weapon has almost no recoil and had the gun been so violently and rapidly ripped from her mouth (even by the force of the recoil as the prosecution contends) there would have been much more damage to the roof of her mouth (there was none mentioned by either the prosecution or defence forensic exerts) and her teeth as the foresight and barrel cleared the mouth. The only damaged any expert for either side mentioned was a bruise on the tongue, which indicates either a bruise from the gases or a forcible downward movement of the gun (natural internal recoil) neither of which agrees with the prosecutions theory. You must also remember that the power of this weapon is such that there was no exit wound and an experienced coroner took hours to determine that it was a gunshot internal to the mouth as it wasn’t obvious to even the most experienced observers including detectives and EMT responders. This isn’t CSI and Grisim didn’t have it solved with a quick look at the scene. The prosecution was simply trying to respond to the defences closing argument when they rightly focused on the only witness…science and in doing so the prosecution stepped on their own initial argument as to how the shooting occurred (forcible entry into the mouth hence the bruised tongue and missing chip of tooth).

The final scientific factor that is troubling is the other material that exits a wound from a human microscopically and instantaneously and that is tissue and again there was none where it needed to be and again you can’t wipe this stuff off to a level that it’s not going to found under a though examination in a lab. Phil Spector should have had gunshot residue, blood spatter and Lana Clarkson’s tissue all over his right sleeve or cuff regardless of the weapons angle, or the recoil involved. If a miracle occurred the left side of his jacket would have at least minuscule amounts of at least some of the above mentioned material no matter how he was standing, or in reality based on the wound trajectory squatting or kneeling (as drunk as he was perhaps kneeling but certainly not squatting). Yes don’t forget the hardly mentioned fact (what’s wrong with the defence here) that the trajectory was flat not downward indicating someone standing above the victim, which means Phil Spector even as short as he is (5’2 without platforms and 5’6 with them) was either squatting or knelling when he did the dirty deed (where was the blood spatter and human tissue in his wig, shoulders, neck area and chest).

So where does science, the circumstantial evidence and my theory lead us? The science, and forensic evidence leaves me with more than reasonable doubt it leaves me perplexed as to why Phil Spector is on trial but when it comes to the circumstantial evidence it’s clear that he’s on trail because he’s an arrogant angry Napoleonic figure of a mouse who has for many years misused his power to the point that he should have gone to jail several time for assault and assault with a deadly weapon but instead of getting timely justice the system is trying to make up for past mistakes and failures but none of that unfortunately adds up to murder in this case.

What’s lost here is not that we should feel sorry for Phil Spector (for being unjustly accused of murder) as this costly and humbling trial may finally ensure no other woman feels threatened in the future nor will Phil have any influence over anybody ever again.

What really bothers me is how all of Lana’s so called friends allowed her to continue to descend into despair and when they had a chance to come forward and tell the truth instead either naively ignoring her obvious pain (perhaps out of guilt for their own inaction) or they became opportunistic vultures trying to profit from her demise by telling so called shocking tales to the tabloids.

Science solves this case beyond a reasonable doubt, Lana Clarkson killed herself, alone and in great mental anguish fuelled and magnified by fatigue, alcohol and prescription pills and while Phil Spector is an ass and many other things he’s not a murderer…I wish he was, it would be easier for all those loved ones left behind to rationalize this incredible waste of life.

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