It’s hard to believe the disposition of a murder case might hinge on something as trivial as an artificial nail, but a missing piece of acrylic nail is playing a surprising role in the Phil Spector murder trial. The nail was also the reason for nail tech Patricia Yankee Williams’ June appearance on Court TV’s “Bloom & Politan: Open Court.” At press time, with the trial still underway, prosecutors are arguing that Phil Spector’s legal team removed a piece of broken acrylic nail from the crime scene and hid it. Spector is charged with 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson at his Alhambra, Calif., mansion. The missing nail, if it exists, is important since it may have gunshot residue that could indicate Clarkson shot herself. It could also be construed as a sign of a struggle. Defense lawyers deny any knowledge of the nail.
With these issues weighing in the balance, Court TV anchors Lisa Bloom and Vinnie Politan invited Yankee Williams to appear on their show as an expert on artificial nails. “I was asked to explain the process and make-up of acrylic nails,” says Yankee Williams, who was brought to the set in a limo prior to her 20-minute segment. “They asked me to speculate how I thought Lana Clarkson’s nail may have broken. The acrylic had chipped off from the top of her thumb nail, but her natural nail remained intact underneath.”
Explained that this could have happened various means and offered several examples. “It could have occurred during a struggle or perhaps even by falling and hitting it against something,” she said. She also noted that if an extreme amount of force had caused the break, her natural nail would have broken as well. “They theorized that perhaps Clarkson pulled the trigger or, in the opposite case, tried to block the bullet. However, both of these situations would have caused her natural nail to break as well,” she said. “I also observed that her nails appeared to have been recently serviced, so that ruled out the issue of grown out acrylic or nails that were in need of repair or a fill.”
To help viewers understand the basics of an acrylic nail service, she used a model hand to demonstrate pink-and-white nail application using a form. “The time on-air was limited, so I only laid the acrylic and showed how long it took to dry and what it looked like before it was shaped and finished. I also prepared the hand in advance with some pink-and-white nails so viewers could see the finished product,” she says.