Phil Spector trial at impasse

Judge announces possible hung jury

The jurors in the Phil Spector murder case told the judge on Tuesday that they are split 7-5 and are unable to reach a verdict. They did not indicate which way they were leaning.

The jury, which has been deliberating since Sept. 10, told L.A. Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler that it had reached an impasse in the shooting death of Lana Clarkson. Spector has been charged with second-degree murder and faces a possible life sentence if found guilty.

Fidler told counsel that he wants to hear argument on the possibility of allowing the jury to deliberate on the lesser charge of manslaughter and that he believes he was mistaken in not allowing that possibility in the first place.

Fidler said he would interview jurors individually about the impasse, and, if the judge takes that route, he will reopen the case, allowing both sides to give new closing arguments on Thursday.

On Feb. 3, 2003, nightclub hostess and B movie-actress Lana Clarkson, 40, was found at his mansion in Alhambra. On November 20, 2003, Spector, 67, was indicted for Clarkson’s murder.

During the four-month trial, which began on March 19 in downtown Los Angeles, the defense claimed the death was a suicide and offered testimony that Clarkson was depressed about her career, as well as forensic evidence that she shot herself in the mouth. The prosecution contended Spector had a history of threatening women with guns and that he shot Clarkson after she declined to spend the nightwith him. Spector’s chauffeur, Adriano DeSouza testified that Spector emerged from the house immediately after the gunshot holding a gun in his bloody hand and stated, “I think I killed somebody.” Spector did not take the stand in his own defense.

The trial has been marked by controversy. Spector has been through three sets of counsel, included well-known defense attorneys Bruce Cutler and Robert Shapiro. Famed forensic expert, Henry Lee for the defense, was accused of hiding crucial evidence, a charge that was aired and repeatedly denied. Sara Caplan, one of Spector’s former attorneys, was compelled to testify that a placed a item in a vial at the crime scene, but that it was not fingernail. A former law clerk also claimed to see Lee remove an item from the crime scene.

Forensic expert for the defense, Michael Baden, was accused of having a fundamental bias because he wife, Linda Kenney-Baden, is a member of the defense team. Baden introduced a new theory late in the trial that Clark had breathed for several minutes before she died to explain a spot of blood on Spector’s jacket. The defense contends his clothes would have been soaked with blood if he had been holding the gun because she was host at such close range.

Spector, 67, had a decades-long career as a musician, songwriter, and most of all, record producer, where he pioneered the “Wall of Sound.” During the ‘60s he worked with several bands, notably The Righteous Brothers, Ike and Tina Turner and The Ronnettes. Spector married lead singer Ronnie Spector in 1968. Spector made a comeback in 1970 when he was brought in to produce The Beatles’ “Let It Be,” and produced albums for John Lennon and George Harrison during their solo careers.

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