Expert says Clarkson may have shot self

first_imgA noted forensic pathologist injected a new scientific opinion on Lana Clarkson’s death into the Phil Spector murder trial Tuesday, setting off angry protests from prosecutors who accused defense attorneys of withholding the information from them. Dr. Michael Baden, one of the nation’s foremost forensic experts, touched off the dispute by testifying that he attended Clarkson’s autopsy four years ago, studied reports afterward and recently concluded that her spinal cord was not completely severed when a bullet tore through her mouth at Spector’s mansion Feb. 3, 2003. The opinion supports defense claims that Clarkson could have spewed blood onto Spector’s jacket with her dying gasps after she was shot. Baden’s theory offers an explanation of how Spector could have gotten specks of blood on his jacket if he didn’t shoot her. Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler dismissed jurors from the courtroom while Baden was questioned about the process that led to his opinion and defense lawyers were quizzed about why they did not tell prosecutors their plans before Baden took the witness stand. As lawyers yelled over each other in the hearing without jurors present, the judge declared: “All of you stop it! There has been an allegation of a discovery violation. When there are allegations of misconduct, I will get to the bottom of it and no one will stop me.” After hearing from Baden and the lawyers, Fidler ruled for the prosecution, saying there had been “a deliberate and knowing violation of the discovery statute. … The reason prosecutors weren’t told was to have the effect that the prosecution would be unable to rebut it.” After researching the matter during a break, Fidler indicated he would not strike the testimony but would craft another remedy. He ordered Baden’s testimony to resume without further mention of the disputed theory. The expert then offered his conclusion that Clarkson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound but not necessarily suicide. “I think she may have been playing with the weapon or looking at it or being reckless with it. I would not say suicide. I would say self-inflicted,” he said. Baden also testified that Clarkson was under the influence of alcohol and Vicodin, which may have impaired her judgment. On cross-examination, he added the possibility that Clarkson did not know the gun was loaded. Jackson attacked Baden on cross-examination, trying to paint him as a partisan rather than a neutral expert because his wife is a member of the defense team. Baden hesitated to define the role of expert but finally said, “We are not advocates.” Noting that Baden’s wife is an advocate for Spector, Jackson hammered away at the subject, asking, “Advocates don’t testify as experts, do they?” “Mr. Jackson,” said Baden, “you do a pretty good job of testifying.” Spectators laughed, and the judge told jurors to disregard the remark. While the jury was out of the room, defense attorney Christopher Plourd said the first time he and Baden discussed the spinal cord theory was Sunday, although Baden had written a report on his other findings earlier in the case. Jackson suggested in questioning Baden that he had discussed the matter with his wife, Linda Kenney-Baden, who is a member of the defense team. But Kenney-Baden has been ill and absent from court for weeks, and Baden and the lawyers said she was too ill to have any input in the case. Baden said he had recently been pondering why Clarkson’s lungs were filled with blood and other fluids and were three times the normal weight at the autopsy. On Sunday, he told the judge, he had “an `aha!’ moment” and shared his opinion with Plourd.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *