- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2009

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Phil Spector’s defense attorney rested his case Thursday in the music producer’s murder retrial involving the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson.

Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler advised Spector of his right to testify, but he chose not to take the stand in his own defense.

Attorney Doron Weinberg concluded with testimony from forensic psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, an expert in memory and witness testimony. Her opinions were presented to cast doubt on the prosecution’s star witness, a chauffeur who said he heard Spector say he thought he had killed somebody.

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Spector, the eccentric music legend renowned for his “Wall of Sound” recording technique, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Clarkson, who became a 1980s cult figure through her starring role in the film “Barbarian Queen.”

She died of a gunshot fired into her mouth while seated in the foyer of Spector’s home in 2003. The defense has contended Clarkson was suicidal and killed herself. The prosecution maintains that Spector killed her.

Loftus, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, and author of 22 books on human memory, witness testimony and repressed memory, told jurors that witness observations can be influenced by stress, lighting and time. She also said accuracy depends on whether distractions divert the person’s attention.

“Memory does not work like a videotape recorder,” she said, noting that individuals sometimes change their descriptions inadvertently because of information they receive after the event.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Alan Jackson suggested that Loftus was “to a certain degree, a professional defense witness.” She acknowledged she has rarely been asked to testify by prosecutors.

She also acknowledged that witnesses who were confident of their accounts “are slightly more likely to be right than those who aren’t.”

The chauffeur had expressed confidence in his observations when he testified.

After the defense rested, prosecutors began their rebuttal case. The judge told jurors that testimony in the trial would conclude next week. The retrial recessed until Monday.

In Spector’s first trial, the jury deadlocked 10-2 with the majority favoring conviction. The second trial began in October.

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