Two months after music producer Phil Spector's murder trial began, the defense began its effort today (June 26) to show that actress Lana Clarkson killed herself.

Two months after music producer Phil Spector's murder trial began, the defense began its effort today (June 26) to show that actress Lana Clarkson killed herself.

The prosecution still wants to call a former member of Spector's defense team who has been found in contempt for refusing to testify about a piece of possible evidence that has never been turned over to the prosecution. Because of that, Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler told the jury that the defense would begin without the prosecution resting its case.

Spector, 67, is accused of murdering actress Clarkson, 40, who was a hostess at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip.

She died early on February 3, 2003, from a single bullet fired into her mouth. Her body was found in a chair in the foyer of Spector's mansion, with one hand resting on her purse and a bloody revolver at her feet.

The former Spector attorney facing jail, Sara Caplan, has refused to testify on grounds of attorney-client privilege. But the judge has ruled that the privilege does not apply to issues of destruction of evidence and has found her in contempt.

Caplan was a member of an initial defense team that examined the death scene after sheriff's investigators were through. In a surprise, she earlier said in testimony that defense forensic expert Henry Lee picked up a small white item the size of a fingernail and placed it in a test tube.

Prosecutors said Lee never turned over such an item, which they contend was a piece of acrylic fingernail missing from one of Clarkson's thumbs. Lee denied withholding anything, but the judge made a formal finding that Lee had taken something.

The defense today called as its first witness Dr. Vincent DiMaio, a physician with a private practice in forensic pathology.


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