A fifth woman testified in the Phil Spector murder trial Monday that the legendary music producer held her at gunpoint. Devra Robitaille, a former assistant to Spector, said he twice threatened her with a gun -- once in the 1970s and again in 1987 -- when she sought to leave his house.
The testimony came after Spector confirmed in court that he would not testify in his own defense. Spector is accused of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in his Alhambra home on Feb. 3, 2003. Spector's attorneys contend that Clarkson shot herself.
Robitaille's testimony, which closely tracked that of four other women who testified previously, supported the prosecution's theory that Clarkson's shooting followed a pattern Spector had long exhibited, of getting drunk and threatening women at gunpoint when spurned.
Robitaille, a composer, said Spector first pulled a gun on her when she tried to leave his house after a party in the 1970s. She said Spector pointed what she believed to be a shotgun at her, pressing the muzzle to her temple and threatening to "blow [her] head off."
She said the incident occurred some time after she began working for Spector in 1974, while the two also were briefly involved romantically.
Spector locked the door when she tried to go home, Robitaille said. A London native, Robitaille said that when Spector brandished the gun she "became very British," which she explained: "I told him, 'Stop that, knock it off, put it down, I'm leaving.' " Spector, she said, followed her orders and let her out of the house.
Robitaille said she continued to work for Spector but later quit and moved back to London. She returned to the United States in 1986, she said, and telephoned Spector, who again offered her a job. She accepted.
In 1987, Robitaille said, she attended a party at Spector's home, then in Pasadena, and he again threatened her with a shotgun when she said she was leaving. She said she again responded by berating Spector, but this time, he did not unlock the door for her for several hours.
Spector attorney Roger J. Rosen said Robitaille's testimony apparently contradicted what she told district attorney investigators in March. Reading from official interview transcripts, Rosen quoted Robitaille as telling investigators that she never thought the gun was loaded and "there was no screaming and yelling."
Robitaille said the transcript contained so many errors it was "a dog's dinner." She said the restaurant in which the interview was recorded was noisy and the transcriber got much of what she said wrong.
Robitaille said that when she read the transcript in prosecutor Patrick Dixon's office, she placed pink adhesive notes on pages with errors. When questioning Robitaille, Dixon pointed out his copy of the transcript on a table, with at least a dozen pink notes stuck to its pages.
Rosen also questioned Robitaille about giving paid interviews to tabloids. Robitaille was paid $9,000 for the interviews.
Spector's defense attorneys said in court Monday that they have presented the bulk of their case but may still introduce some of Clarkson's e-mails and records.
Judge Larry Paul Fidler quizzed Spector to make sure he had freely relinquished his right to testify. "Do you wish to waive and give up your right to testify?" Fidler asked. Spector, with Rosen leaning over his shoulder, said, "Yes."
After Robitaille's appearance, prosecutors called a neuropathologist who participated in Clarkson's autopsy. John Andrews said Clarkson was probably instantly incapacitated when she was shot.
His testimony contradicted a theory put forth by Michael Baden, a defense pathologist, who last week said Clarkson may have lived for a few minutes after she was shot.
Baden's assertion could support a defense contention that Clarkson coughed blood onto Spector's jacket as the producer assisted her in her last moments of life. Prosecutors say that Spector was hit by blood when he fired the fatal shot.
Andrews will continue his testimony today.