Attorney has often been missing from court

Bruce Cutler, the often-absent lead defense lawyer in Phil Spector’s murder trial, announced at the 11th hour Monday that he is leaving the team. And, the music producer said outside court he decided Cutler should no longer be involved.

Spector said in a discussion with reporters that it was in his best interest that Cutler leave.

Spector is charged with murdering actress Lana Clarkson in his Alhambra home a few hours after she went home with him from her job as a nightclub hostess. The defense maintains Clarkson was depressed and shot herself in the mouth.

Cutler has been absent for several weeks while taping a syndicated TV show. Spector says he feels Cutler no longer has a connection with the jury because he has been gone for so long. Spector also said he believes the judge doesn’t like Cutler.

Attorney Roger Rosen, who has been at the helm of the defense effort, will take over as lead counsel.

The judge smiled but made no comment as Cutler turned, picked up his briefcase and left the courtroom. The proceeding was done outside the jury’s presence and they were not told about the development.

Cutler is perhaps best known for representing the late mob boss John Gotti in New York.

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