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Ex-Spector lawyer relents, will testify

Ex-Spector lawyer relents, will testify

Sara Caplan had been held in contempt for refusing to testify about possible mishandled evidence, but the state Supreme Court denied her appeal. She is scheduled to take the stand this afternoon.
By Michael Muskal
Times Staff Writer

10:46 AM PDT, July 12, 2007

A former lawyer for Phil Spector said today she will testify in the music producer's murder trial about whether a defense scientist mishandled evidence.

A day after the state's top court denied her final appeal, Sara Caplan, who represented Spector in the early days of his murder case, appeared this morning before Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler. The judge said she will testify this afternoon.

Fidler has already held Caplan in contempt for refusing to testify before the jury considering Spector's fate.

Spector, 67, is charged with shooting Lana Clarkson, 40, on Feb. 3, 2003. Clarkson was found in the foyer of Spector's Alhambra mansion.

Caplan testified with the jury absent about what she saw as the defense explored the death scene the day after Clarkson's body was found. She said she saw famed forensic scientist Henry Lee pick up a small, flat object and put it in a vial.

The material was never given to the prosecution, which has argued the object was part of an acrylic fingernail. The fragment would support the prosecution theory that Clarkson could have been trying to fight off Spector.

Lee has insisted that he never pocketed any material and has called the dispute a prosecution move to discredit him. Lee's testimony has been considered important to the defense, which is now presenting its case in the trial that began at the end of April.

However, in recent interviews including one with the Associated Press, Lee has downplayed his role and has said he plans to travel in Asia in the coming weeks.

Caplan had argued that because she was a former attorney, it would not be proper for her to repeat her testimony to the jury. Fidler rejected her claim and said she had waived any privilege by previously testifying.

Times staff writers Peter Y. Hong and John Spano contributed to this report
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