A one-time clerk in the office of Phil Spector's former lawyer set off a court fight by suggesting his defense team took a piece of evidence, possibly a tooth fragment, from the scene of Lana Clarkson's killing.
Spector, 67, whose "Wall of Sound" transformed rock 'n' roll in the 1960s, is accused of murder in the Feb. 3, 2003, shooting of Clarkson. The music legend has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer has argued the actress shot herself.
Greg Diamond, who worked in 2003 for attorney Robert Shapiro, testified outside the jury's presence and was promptly attacked by Spector's current lawyers. The testimony was later contradicted by forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden.
Diamond contacted prosecutors two weeks ago, saying he had information on the case. On Wednesday, however, he appeared reluctant to testify. The judge told Diamond he was not being accused of anything.
Photos: Phil Spector
The hearing was set to continue Thursday. Jurors have been off this week after lead defense attorney Bruce Cutler called in sick. Testimony in the murder trial was scheduled to resume Monday.
Diamond said he went to the crime scene — Spector's castle-like mansion — with members of the defense team. There, he said he saw one of the lawyers, Sara Caplan, pick up something small and white from the carpet in the foyer. He said she handed it to Baden, who commented "that it was a fragment of a tooth."
Diamond said the small white item was then handed around to members of the defense team, and he does not know who had it last.
Baden said he did not remember Diamond, did not see Caplan find anything and said nothing was handed to him. Besides, he said, he could not have identified it as a piece of tooth because it was outside his discipline as a pathologist. He said it would take a forensic dentist or criminalist to make such an assessment.
"I can recognize an intact tooth, not a fragment," Baden said.
Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson suggested Baden might have been trying to help the defense because his wife, Linda Kenney-Baden, is part of the defense team. Baden adamantly denied that.
Jackson also questioned him about a missing piece of Clarkson's acrylic fingernail, an issue that has been raised previously in court hearings. Baden said he knew nothing about its whereabouts but, from the autopsy, he believes it came off when Clarkson fired the gun.
By LINDA DEUTSCH