Prosecutors submit new evidence in Spector case
Potential witnesses detail history of violent threats against women.
By Peter Y. Hong
Times Staff Writer
9:03 PM PDT, April 3, 2007
Prosecutors Tuesday said they had new evidence that music producer Phil Spector threatened women with violence, including ranting at comic Joan Rivers' annual Christmas party that women "deserve to die. They all deserve a bullet in their ... head."
One of his former assistants also is prepared to testify that Spector put a gun to her head and refused to let her leave his home after parties, prosecutors said in court motions seeking to introduce the new evidence at the music legend's murder trial later this month. Spector is accused of shooting and killing actress Lana Clarkson at his Alhambra mansion in February 2003.
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office filed the motions in Superior Court Tuesday afternoon. The motions were served on Bradley W. Brunon, one of several defense attorneys representing Spector. Brunon could not be reached for comment.
Judge Larry Paul Fidler ruled earlier that four women can testify that Spector threatened them with guns between 1988 and 1995. Fidler said such evidence can be used to show "lack of accident or mistake" in Spector's behavior the night of Clarkson's death.
The gun incidents are admissible to show that the death of Lana Clarkson fit "a recurring, common plan used by Spector to intimidate women into staying with him," prosecutors argued in their motion. Fidler is set to hear their request April 10.
According to the prosecutors, Vincent Tannazzo, a retired New York police officer who worked as a security guard for Rivers, contacted them in January, saying his memory had been jogged by a conversation he had had with Spector's defense lawyers.
After the conversation, Tannazzo said, he recalled Spector making threats at his boss' holiday parties in 1995 or 1996, the prosecution motion said.
Tannazzo said at one party, he was asked to escort Spector, who had been behaving poorly, out the door. As they walked to Spector's limousine, Tannazzo said the producer delivered a 10-minute, expletive-laced rant about shooting women, the motion said. He said Spector told him "that's why I got permits for all over. Wherever I go, I always keep a gun.... "
At Rivers' Christmas party the following year, Tannazzo said he was again called about "Spector creating a commotion," prosecutors contend. When Tannazzo approached him, Spector ranted about women, saying "I ought to put a ... bullet in her ... head right now," the motion said.
Prosecutors also hope to enter as evidence the testimony of Devra Robitaille, who had worked as an administrator at Spector's record label from 1974 to 1977. She and Spector had a months-long romantic relationship during that period.
Robitaille told investigators that sometime in the 1970s, Spector pointed a rifle or shotgun at her as she stood in the foyer of his house, attempting to leave after a party, the motion said.
She said Spector told her, "If you try to leave, I'll blow your ... brains out."
Robitaille said that in 1986 or 1987, when she returned to work part time as Spector's assistant, he again threatened her with a gun when she tried to leave his house after a party.
In each instance, she said, Spector eventually put the gun away and allowed her to leave.