The judge in record producer Phil Spector’s murder trial reversed an earlier ruling in the case Monday and decided to allow jurors to hear damaging testimony from a celebrity security guard who says that in the early to mid-1990s he heard Spector rant profanely against women and declare that they should all be shot in the head.
Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler said he reconsidered the matter when it was raised again by the prosecution at the end of its case.
While he originally thought it was inadmissible because it was too long ago and did not address the specific details of the Feb. 3, 2003, gunshot death of actress Lana Clarkson, Fidler said he researched the law further and changed his mind.
The judge said that although the comments by Spector may have occurred as long ago as 1993, they were relevant to show Spector’s state of mind toward women. He said he was struck by the specificity of Spector’s comments about shooting women in the head.
“In this case you have a woman who is shot in the head,” Fidler said, referring to Clarkson’s death from a bullet fired through her mouth. “It is highly particularized.”
The judge also said the testimony “tends to show the depth of Mr. Spector’s anger.”
Prosecutor Alan Jackson argued to be allowed to present the testimony, saying, “It sheds a probative light on how he felt about Lana Clarkson. … It shows a misogynistic state of mind, how he feels about women.”
Defense attorney Roger Rosen denounced the testimony as “character assassination” and said it should be excluded. The defense contends Clarkson shot herself.
The ruling came after Vincent Tannazzo, a retired New York City police detective, testified without the jury present about providing security for two Christmas parties given by comedian Joan Rivers in Manhattan.
In both instances, a year apart, he said he wound up ejecting Spector from the parties as he ranted. He said that in the first instance he brushed up against Spector and was able to tell that Spector had a handgun in his waistband, and when Spector made a move toward his pants he warned that producer that if he pulled the gun “I’d blow his brains out.”
He quoted Spector as repeatedly uttering an obscene phrase referring to women.
Tannazzo said Spector said to him, “These (expletive). They all deserve a bullet in their head.”
The judge said later he considered whether the phrase was so offensive that jurors would be prejudiced by it.
But in his ruling he said the phrase had already come up in one witnesses’ testimony and jurors have heard it.
The Tannazzo issue came up as the trial resumed after a one-week recess for the Fourth of July holiday. The defense has already begun its side of the case, but the judge’s ruling allowed the prosecution to reopen its case to call him to the stand.
Spector, 67, rose to fame in the 1960s with a recording technique known as the “Wall of Sound.” Clarkson, 40, was a struggling actress best known for her role in the 1985 film “Barbarian Queen.” She was working as a nightclub hostess when she met Spector and agreed to go to his suburban mansion when she
got off work in the early morning of Feb. 3, 2003. She died of a gunshot in his foyer about 5 a.m. that day.