Witness Accuses Phil Spector Lawyer of Withholding Evidence
The producer's defense team allegedly failed to turn over a piece of tooth or fingernail
In a development straight out of Law & Order, prosecutors in the Phil Spector murder brought in a surprise witness Wednesday who said he saw a defense lawyer tamper with some gruesome evidence.
Greg Diamond, a former clerk for Spector’s onetime defense attorney Robert Shapiro, told the court that he saw lawyer Sara Caplan pick up a piece of tooth or fingernail at the crime scene the day after Lana Clarkson was killed at Spector’s Los Angeles home in 2003, Reuters reports.
Diamond said the evidence was found near the body in the foyer of Spector’s home and was not turned over to prosecutors. Since he was arrested, Spector has switched defense teams twice, and Caplan and Shapiro no longer work for him.
Prosecutors allege that Spector, 67, shot Clarkson, 40, in the foyer of his Alhambra home during the early morning hours of Feb. 3, 2003. Spector, who has pleaded not guilty, has claimed that Clarkson committed suicide. If convicted of second-degree murder, he could face 15 years to life in prison.
Prosecutors have for some time accused defense attorneys of holding back the piece of evidence in question, Reuters reports, and filed a motion in 2004 requesting that Spector’s lawyers produce a chunk of Clarkson’s fingernail they believed the defense had discovered at the scene. Spector’s attorneys denied such evidence existed.
Diamond, who was clerking for Shapiro at the time of the alleged murder, approached authorities with his story in the last few weeks but was reluctant to testify, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
But Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler ordered him to appear at the special hearing, where Diamond said he was present at the crime scene with members of Spector’s defense team when he watched forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden a small white object Caplan had found.
“Dr. Baden did make mention of what the item was,” Diamond said, according to Reuters. “He said it was a fragment of a tooth. … Everyone had seen the item in some capacity.”
Baden took the stand and denied Diamond’s testimony, saying Caplan never found any such item.
Diamond is due to take the stand again on Thursday, with other witnesses to follow. Testimony has ceased in the televised case this week because Spector’s lead counsel, Bruce Cutler, called in sick.