LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles judge on Thursday set a September date for pioneering rock producer Phil Spector’s second trial on charges that he murdered actress Lana Clarkson in the foyer of his mock castle in 2003.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler ordered Spector to stand trial beginning on September 29 in the high-profile case.
The jury in Spector’s first trial deadlocked 10-2 in favor of a guilty verdict in September 2007, forcing Fidler to declare a mistrial, but prosecutors immediately said they would bring the case again.
Most of Spector’s defense team quit in October causing delays in the retrial. The new defense team is seeking to have Fidler removed from the case, claiming he is biased against the 68-year-old rock producer.
Clarkson, 40, was found dead of a gunshot to the mouth early on the morning of February 3, 2003 after Spector’s driver called police to say that the record producer had killed someone.
Prosecutors say Spector, who is credited with revolutionizing pop music with his early 1960s “Wall of Sound” recordings, shot Clarkson while trying to prevent her from leaving.
They called a series of witnesses to testify that Spector had a history of brandishing guns at women when he was drunk and said forensic evidence indicated that the Colt Cobra .38 special revolver went off accidentally after he jammed it in Clarkson’s face.
Defense attorneys countered that Clarkson, best known as the star of such B-movies as “Amazon Women on the Moon” and “Barbarian Queen,” had been depressed and may have killed herself.
Spector, who first shot to fame as the mastermind behind the popular “girl groups” of the early 1960s and later worked with The Beatles, The Ronettes, The Ramones, Tina Turner and Cher, did not take the witness stand in his own defense.
He told a magazine interviewer early on in the case that Clarkson committed suicide for reasons he could not grasp.
After a five-month trial in 2007, the jury deliberated for 12 days before telling the judge that they were hopelessly deadlocked and could not reach a unanimous verdict.
Editing by Anthony Boadle