A dead woman's gunpowder-covered fingernail is at the center of a tug-of-war between prosecutors and lawyers defending music producer Phil Spector against charges that he murdered a B-movie actress last year in Los Angeles, court documents showed on Wednesday.
Prosecutors demanded that Spector's attorneys turn over the fingernail, which apparently was overlooked by detectives called to investigate the fatal shooting of actress Lana Clarkson at Spector's Alhambra, Calif. mansion.
According to court documents, prosecutors found out about the fingernail after a defense investigator bragged about the find to former colleagues at a Sheriff's Department barbecue last summer.
Detective Mark Lillienfeld said defense investigator Stan White told him at the July 2 barbecue that the "torn piece of the victim's fingernail ... was blackened on one side with visible gunpowder residue from a gunshot."
However, "Hollywood defense attorney Ronald Richards said the fingernail will be significant only if Abramson can prove the nail did not break during a struggle for the gun or as Clarkson held her hand in front of her face as she was shot."