Spector killed actress in fit of rage: prosecutor

Wed Oct 29, 2008 5:36pm EDT
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By Gina Keating

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rock producer Phil Spector murdered an actress in the same "petulant fit of rage" witnessed over the years by other women he held at gunpoint in similar circumstances, a Los Angeles prosecutor told jurors on Wednesday at the start of a retrial in the 2003 killing.

Spector, 68, is charged with murdering 40-year-old Lana Clarkson in the early morning hours of February 3, 2003 as she tried to leave his mock castle in the foothills outside Los Angeles.

A first trial ended in a mistrial in September of 2007 after the jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of a guilty verdict against the man who pioneered the 1960s "Wall of Sound" pop music technique. California law requires a unanimous verdict to convict or acquit.

The diminutive Spector arrived in court on Monday dressed in a sober black suit and white tie and flanked by two large bodyguards. He talked quietly with his attorneys, at times smiling, until the seven men and five women of the second jury to try him entered the courtroom.

During his opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson reiterated for the new jury the prosecution's theory that the shooting was the final chapter in a long pattern of violence that Spector practiced against women toward whom he had romantic intentions.

"In some petulant fit of rage, he pulled a gun on the unarmed Lana Clarkson as she sat in the foyer of his home and before he was through with her, he put a bullet in her head," Jackson told the court.

"A history of rage, a pattern of hate, a pattern of abuse against women. She was simply the last in a very long line of women who had suffered abuse over the years," Jackson said.

As in the first trial, the jury will hear testimony from five women whom Spector detained at gunpoint, often pressing the barrel of the weapon to their heads or faces, when they tried to leave his home or hotel after a night of drinking.   Continued...

<p>Music producer Phil Spector (C) and his wife Rachelle Spector leave Los Angeles Superior Court after the judge declared a mistrial in his murder trial September 26, 2007. REUTERS/Gus Ruelas</p>