Murderous music legend Phil Spector should be set free, according to the best friend of the woman he killed, Lana Clarkson. In a dynamite exclusive interview with RadarOnline.com, Irene "Punkin Pie" Laughlin said she was with doomed Clarkson just before she died, and insisted the legendary record producer is rotting in a cell on trumped-up charges
"I believe there is an innocent man sitting in prison," Laughlin told Radar. "There was never evidence to prove that Phil pulled the trigger! There was no evidence on him, there was no blood on him. How do you do that?"
Now, Laughlin has rocked Hollywood by claiming Spector's victim was suicidal over her fading acting career and she believes Clarkson pulled the fateful trigger herself. "Since day one I've been afraid that my girlfriend ended her life and shot herself," she said. "She pulled the trigger."
Clarkson was found dead inside Spector's mansion outside Los Angeles on the morning of Feb. 3, 2003. The 40-year-old blonde was slumped in a chair with a handbag around her shoulder, dead from a single gunshot to her mouth. Earlier that evening, Spector had picked up the struggling actress while she was working as a hostess in the VIP room at the House of Blues on Sunset Boulevard.
It was a job that Laughlin said drove her friend to the point of killing herself — as she learned during a disturbing phone call from Lana the day before her death, "She started bawling," recalled Laughlin, who Clarkson called "Dolly." "Lana said, 'Dolly, I can't take this two-faced f--king town anymore! I don't want to live! I'm going to get a gun, and I'm going to blow my f--king brains out!'"
Laughlin claimed she later told cops, "She was so depressed. She told me she was going to blow her brains out."
Because of that, she said, "I've been afraid that Spector's been innocent from day one. There's no evidence that he pulled the trigger.
Angry friends of Clarkson claimed Laughlin was paid off by the 75-year-old Grammy winner to declare his innocence. Laughlin, however, has suffered her own hardships. She has been diagnosed with lupus, and is on the verge of losing her home in Redondo Beach, Calif. "I've gone through a living hell because of this trial, and because my best friend died after telling me what she told me," Laughlin said. "But I still think Phil Spector deserves a new trial!"
Indeed, Laughlin later testified in Spector's defense at trial, and recounted for Radar how she had witnessed Clarkson's downward spiral in the months before her death. Clarkson, who had small roles in Scarface and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, had gone through a series of failed auditions, often followed by pill-popping binges that triggered severe depression.
"For Lana, it was real difficult, because it was the first time in her life that she had to go and get a job," said Laughlin. "At first, she was really excited about working as a hostess … but two weeks after, it started weighing on her that she's now pulling out chairs for people who used to cast her in movies and commercials!" Clarkson was also recovering from a devastating mental breakdown suffered about a year before her death.
Laughlin, now 57, had even resorted to inviting Clarkson out to nightclubs so she could eat. The former L.A. club promoter also revealed she had seen Clarkson snorting cocaine and taking pills hours before she ended up being invited back to Spector's home.
Clarkson would soon learn of her friend's tragic death from Clarkson's mother. "When I heard there was a gunshot involved in the death," said Laughlin, fighting back tears, "all I could think about was Lana's phone call — and 'dear God, oh no!'" Spector — who oversaw hits for The Beatles and Cher — is serving 19 years to life in prison.
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