The defense in Phil Spector’s murder retrial rested its case Thursday with the testimony of a memory expert summoned to undermine a key prosecution witness.
UC Irvine professor Elizabeth Loftus summarized research suggesting that certain circumstances -- including stress, fear and exhaustion -- can lead witnesses to misremember events. Loftus spoke generally about the limits of human memory, but questions by a defense attorney referenced the circumstances in which Spector’s former driver, Adriano de Souza, says he heard the music producer admit to shooting actress Lana Clarkson in his home.
“If you are very upset, aroused or afraid, it can affect the acquisition of memory,” Loftus said.
De Souza testified that he was sitting in a car outside Spector’s Alhambra mansion on Feb. 3, 2003, when he heard a gunshot. Moments later, he told jurors, Spector emerged holding a gun in a bloodied hand and said: “I think I killed somebody.” The driver said he was tired before the shooting and shocked and frightened afterward.
Clarkson, 40, died from a gunshot wound to her mouth. Prosecutors contend Spector pulled the trigger when she tried to leave his home. During a seven-week trial, Spector’s lawyer presented scientific experts and other witnesses who suggested the evidence was consistent with Clarkson, who was struggling with career setbacks and financial problems, committing suicide.
Spector’s 2007 trial ended in a hung jury with jurors split 10 to 2 in favor of conviction.