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Driver’s testimony seems to implicate Phil Spector

Times Staff Writer

Phil Spector’s driver moved the prosecution’s murder case against the famous record producer toward its climax Tuesday, testifying that Spector emerged from his mansion holding a revolver in his bloody hand and said, “I think I killed somebody.”

Adriano DeSouza, who was the only other person with Spector and actress Lana Clarkson at Spector’s Alhambra home the night Clarkson was found shot to death, said he stood just outside the open doorway speaking with Spector about 5 a.m. on Feb. 3, 2003. DeSouza said that when he looked past Spector, he could see the limp legs of Clarkson in the foyer.

Spector, who produced records with the Beatles, Ike and Tina Turner and the Righteous Brothers, is charged with murder and has pleaded not guilty. He is free on $1-million bail.

It was DeSouza who called 911 from Spector’s house to tell authorities of Clarkson’s death. His testimony will be at the heart of the prosecution’s case and the biggest target for the defense.

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Prosecutor Alan Jackson has repeatedly called Spector’s alleged statement to DeSouza a confession.

Spector attorney Bruce Cutler dismissed it as “five words allegedly said to someone taking a siesta.” In his opening statement last month, Cutler said of the prosecution, “Their whole case is DeSouza.”

He called DeSouza an illegal immigrant who spoke poor English and was manipulated by police. DeSouza, he said, was merely “a substitute driver with a language problem, who was full of snacks and cookies and water and sound asleep, sitting in a closed car, with the heat on, and the radio on, and the fountain going.”

Under questioning by Jackson, DeSouza quickly addressed his language skills and education. He attended private schools in Brazil and earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science, he said. He came to the U.S. on a student visa to study English, he said.

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A handsome man who wore a black suit, white shirt and light-colored tie, DeSouza spoke clearly and had no trouble understanding what was asked of him. His English slipped a few times, when he referred to Spector once as “she” and called a briefcase a “wallet.”

DeSouza worked as a valet parking attendant at the Grill on the Alley restaurant, a Beverly Hills favorite of Spector. He said he worked on call as a driver for Spector.

The night of Clarkson’s shooting, DeSouza had driven Spector from his Alhambra home to several destinations.

First, they picked up a high school friend, Rommie Davis, for dinner at the Grill on the Alley.

Then Davis was taken home and DeSouza drove Spector and Kathy Sullivan, a waitress at the Grill, to Trader Vic’s in Beverly Hills and the House of Blues in West Hollywood.

DeSouza said that after a brief time at the House of Blues, he drove Sullivan home. When he returned to the House of Blues, DeSouza said, he picked up Clarkson and Spector and eventually drove the two of them to the Alhambra home. He said Spector smelled of alcohol.

DeSouza waited in Spector’s black Mercedes when Clarkson and Spector went into the house. About 5 a.m., he said he heard a “pow” sound, and about a minute later, he saw Spector at the doorway.

DeSouza stood on the witness stand with his right forearm across his torso to show how Spector held a revolver.

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The trial ended for the day before the defense could cross-examine DeSouza, which probably will occur today if prosecutors complete their direct examination.

peter.hong@latimes.com


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