May 24, 2007 / 12:33 AM / 12 years ago

Judge: criminologist in Spector trial hid evidence

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The judge in music producer Phil Spector’s murder trial ruled on Wednesday that famed criminologist Henry Lee recovered possible evidence from the crime scene that he hid from prosecutors.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler rules on the credibility of forensic expert Henry Lee (not shown) during an evidentiary hearing in the murder trial of music producer Phil Spector, at Los Angeles Superior court, May 23, 2007. REUTERS/Damian Dovarganes/POOL

Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler, who made the finding after convening a special six-day hearing into accusations of evidence-tampering in the sensational case, declined to hold Lee in contempt.

But Fidler said Lee’s denials under oath that he withheld evidence were not credible and ruled that, if the renowned criminologist testifies for the defense, prosecutors can raise the issue of the missing evidence — possibly a piece of the deceased’s fingernail — before jurors.

Spector, 67, is accused of shooting actress Lana Clarkson to death in the foyer of his Los Angeles-area mock-castle on February 3, 2003. His trial on murder charges is expected to last until July.

Former Spector lawyer Sara Caplan and private investigator Stan White testified during the hearing that Lee recovered a small white object from the pioneering rock producer’s foyer. The judge said that he found Caplan’s testimony the most credible.

“If I have to chose between the two, I am going to choose Ms. Caplan as more credible than Dr. Lee,” Fidler said. “Dr. Lee has a lot to lose if this turns out to be true.”

The white object has not been seen since the day that Lee supposedly recovered it from Spector’s foyer, and therefore can not be entered as evidence.

Prosecutors have long claimed that the defense had recovered a fragment of Clarkson’s fingernail at the crime scene, which they say could help prove that Spector shot her.

The defense claims that Clarkson, 40-year-old star of such films as “Barbarian Queen” and “Amazon Women on the Moon,” was holding the gun herself when it went off in her mouth.

Lee is best known for testifying for the defense in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, along with a number of other high-profile cases. He is sought as a guest on cable news shows for his forensic expertise.


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