Spector killed actress in fit of rage: prosecutor

Thu Oct 30, 2008 5:55am 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.

But Spector's lawyer told the jury that 40-year-old Lana Clarkson had reached a low point in her life emotionally and professionally, and took her own life after having a drunken sexual encounter with Spector.

"What the evidence is going to tell you is that Lana Clarkson's body would look the same whether she shot herself or was shot," attorney Doron Weinberg said.

Spector, 68, is charged with murdering 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 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 sat quietly through Monday's opening statements dressed in a sober black suit and white tie. Clarkson's mother and sister were among spectators in the packed 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.   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>