Appeals court upholds Phil Spector murder conviction

Mon May 2, 2011 6:05pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Phil Spector's murder conviction was upheld on Monday by a California appeals court, ensuring the famed music producer will remain behind bars for killing actress Lana Clarkson.

The ruling by a three-justice panel from California's 2nd District Court of Appeals comes less than three weeks after Spector's attorneys argued his 2009 conviction of second-degree murder resulted from a prejudiced trial.

The attorneys argued in the one-day appeals hearing that jurors should not have heard testimony from five women who said Spector had threatened them with a gun, years before Clarkson was found shot to death in the foyer of his home.

But presiding Justice Joan Klein, writing on behalf of the panel in an 81-page ruling, sided with prosecutors who said the testimony from the women was crucial to the case.

"The evidence showed that, when fueled by alcohol and faced with a lack or loss of control over a woman who was alone with him and in whom he had a romantic or sexual interest, Spector underwent a sharp mood swing, exhibited extreme anger and threatened the woman with a gun when she refused to do his bidding," Klein wrote.

Spector, 71, who was famous for his layered "Wall of Sound" recording technique, met Clarkson in 2003 at a West Hollywood nightclub where she was working as a hostess.

The justices found that the evidence showed that Clarkson's death "had neither been an accident nor a suicide."

Clarkson starred in 1985 movie "Barbarian Queen" and the 1987 satirical comedy "Amazon Women on the Moon."   Continued...