Sunday, September 27, 2009

Eyewitness I.D. Mystery

Alright my fellow honorary members of the Bloodhound Gang, I've got a mystery for you. I need help reconciling an absolutely positive identification of somebody with the fact that I'm not sure that there was any logical way it could have actually been the person I thought I saw.

Sound confusing? It is.

First a little background.

I'm in New York City for the weekend visiting my favorite Grammar Editor, and last night she made reservations for us at Sparks Steakhouse. Now, as much I love a good steak, my Editor also knows that I like all things about famous crime, and Sparks is the scene of the famous Organized Crime hit on Paul Castellano that John Gotti ordered back in 1985. Needless to say, I was already quite excited about the evening.

We arrived at 8:30 p.m. and had a drink at the bar while waiting for our table. As we were talking to the bartender, a blond lady walked in, dressed in some sort of purple velvet suit. Her date was an eccentric looking man who was dressed in a bizarre suit with a ultra-wide tie that only a celebrity could get away with. I took one look at the man, and I knew exactly who he was.

He was this guy:



Yeah, Phil Spector walked into the bar. I'm not talking about a guy who looked like Phil Spector. I'm talking about Phil Spector. We compared this guy to pictures on my Editor's IPhone for two hours. Same hair. Same cheekbones. Same eyes. Same nose. Same mouth. Same eccentric taste in clothing.

The only problem being that the last I heard, Phil Spector was serving the beginning of a 19-year-sentence in California for the murder of Lana Clarkson.

So we thoroughly searched through Google.com to see if perhaps Mr. Spector was out on an appeal bond or something. I know in Texas you can't get an appeal bond following a murder conviction or a conviction with a sentence of over 10 years, but we all know that California has always marched to the beat of a different drummer.

But the only thing our Google search yielded for the Spector case was an article about how he was having trouble finding a location to transition to from his lock-down drug rehab.

So, of course, being a complete and total tourist and celebrity gawker, I did a walk-by on the way to the restroom for a closer look.

Yep, it was Phil Spector. And to make matters worse, the woman he was with was arguing with him!

Good Lord, lady! Don't you know how this guy handles an unruly woman!! Quit arguing with him!

We also sat and watched as a waiter was taking photographs in the general vicinity and Phil kept turning his back to the camera. He was clearly feeling very awkward with being documented. I mean, it was hysterically blatant how this guy was avoiding being photographed.

We discussed with our waiter whether or not he thought the mystery guest was Phil Spector, and he agreed completely with us.

But how could he be in New York City and Corcoran Prison in California at the same time?

The Grammar Editor and I left the restaurant at about the same time as Mystery Phil, and he was pacing around, waiting for a cab. He wouldn't stand still as she tried to sneak a photograph of him on the IPhone. The closest thing she got to a picture of him was this shot:



Although it is a crystal clear photograph of my right shoulder, Mystery Phil came out a little blurry.

So, you guys be the judge. I'm 99.99% positive we were sitting across the restaurant from a convicted murderer who is supposed to be sitting in prison right now.


Can anybody help me reconcile this?

Or is Eyewitness I.D. really that unreliable (at least when it comes to me?)

25 comments:

Rage Judicata said...

Kudos for acknowledging that ID testimony is, in fact, a problem.

Rage Judicata said...

Kudos for acknowledging that ID testimony is, in fact, a problem.

Anonymous said...

Yes, eyewitness ID IS that unreliable, especially when mixed with Tequila.

Anonymous said...

"Kudos for acknowledging that ID testimony is, in fact, a problem."

Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Actually, per the CA code, he could get an appeal bond. So it could be...

Anonymous said...

Wikipedia:
The retrial of Spector for murder in the second degree began on October 20, 2008,[34] with Judge Fidler again presiding; this time it was not televised. The case went to the jury on 26 March 2009, and nineteen days later, on April 13, the jury returned a guilty verdict.[35][36] In addition he was found guilty of using a firearm in the commission of a crime.[37] Spector was immediately taken into custody[37] and was formally sentenced on May 29, 2009, to 19 years to life in the California State Prison System.[5] Spector will be 88 years old before becoming eligible for parole.[38][39][40][41][42]
Spector is currently serving his sentence at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran. Although it is in Corcoran, it is a separate facility from Corcoran State Prison, where, amongst others, Charles Manson is serving his life sentence.[43][44]

Anonymous said...

He is still in custody. You were wrong.

J-Ro said...

Have you seen Barry Manilow lately? He looks a lot like Phil Spector these days - and you WERE in NY...

My guess is that you had a Barry sighting...

J-Ro said...

Exhibit "A":

http://arkjournal.com/uploaded_images/Barry-Manilow-797324.jpg

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/images/2009/02/08/barry_manilow.jpg

Anonymous said...

I think you're trying to prove a point. Did you photoshop the face?

Cause Phil ain't trotting around right now.

A Harris County Lawyer said...

No, I'm not trying to prove a point at all, and no, nothing is photoshopped. I'm telling you this dude looked just like Phil Spector. I'm flabbergasted.

The only possible explanation I can think of is that there seems to be some sort of trouble with the transition from the rehab unit to where he was going and he was granted some sort of temporary bond. Hell, I don't know.

Stranger things have happened in California.

Rage Judicata said...

Stranger things have happened in California.

Yeah, but you were in New York.

And you weren't even stressed about being the victim of a crime, and hadn't had some cop shove a photo in front of you and hint that that was the guy, or saw him in the blink of an eye and then had to make an ID days or weeks later...

But no doubt these chucklehead ADA's in here will say that nothing needs to be changed with how we handle eyewitness identification.

Anonymous said...

It's also troubling that there could be two dudes who look like Phil.

I'm putting my money on Phil being in prison and you being mistaken. A better pic would help.

Anonymous said...

I vote for the Barry Manilow explanation

Anonymous said...

That dude totally looks like Phil Spector! However, I saw a booking photo of him after he was placed into custody. He had no hair up top and looked uber creepy. So I think the dude is in jail. But I agree, could be Manilow. And if there are two creepy Phil-looking guys in the world right now, there might be more....

Anonymous said...

You sure it wasn't Pete Justin?

Anonymous said...

I don't know who you saw in New York, but Phil Spector is still in prison in California. Even if by some extraordinary stroke of luck, Mr. Spector were given the opportunity to post an appeal bond, he would have been required to remain within the jurisdiction. If he was not placed on house arrest or some sort of electronic monitoring, he would most certainly have some investigators from the D.A.'s office or LAPD detectives watching his every move.

Anonymous said...

You can call this number to find out if Phil was who you saw. California does not have an online prisoner locator as does Texas.

Home Reports Research Inmate Locator
Identification Unit/Inmate LocatorTo locate an offender within the jurisdiction of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation you can call the Identification Unit at (916) 445-6713. You must provide the full name and the month, day and year of birth or CDC identification number for the subject of your inquiry. This unit can only provide you with the current location and CDC identification number for the offender. The Identification Unit does not have and will not provide any future release date information. This service is available only Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. excluding state holidays. You may also fax your inquiry to the Identification Unit at (916) 322-0500.

Please note that information for offenders recently admitted into or transferred between state prisons may not be available for 7 business days.

Anonymous said...

Sidenote: What's up with you having an editor, Murray? Are you writing a crime novel (fiction) or a nonfiction book? You'd do well with either. Just curious.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it was Keith Richards?

Anonymous said...

That was totally Pete Justin.

Michael said...

I actually observed the (2nd) Spector trial for a day when I visited LA about a year ago. From that experience I can say that, in person, Phil certainly has an unmistakeable countenance and aura to him. (I can also say that his attorney, Doron Weinberg, was freakin' awesome.) But I seriously doubt he is out on any sort of appeal bond. Last I heard, he had been transferred to some unit that allowed him to keep and play instruments. Phil's actually originally from Brooklyn (the family moved to LA when he was young) so maybe you saw some equally eccentric cousin of his.

Sprocket said...

We may be crazy out here in So. Cali, but we're not THAT crazy.

I covered the second Spector trial on my blog. He's in custody. I saw him being taken away by the LA Co. Sheriff's. They haven't let him out.

I wouldn't be surprised if you saw a celebrity look-alike, or even George Frangines.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcS94bzs7kQ

There are not that many photos of Phil that were taken during the last few months of his trial. It was obvious to several of us inside the courtroom that he was medicated to the max when the verdict was read.

Betsy

Anonymous said...

Don't be silly that was Michael Jackson.

Anonymous said...

Doppleganger