March 23, 2009 / 9:36 PM / 9 years ago

Spector jury told murder was "waiting to happen"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Prosecutors in music producer Phil Spector’s retrial for the 2003 murder of a Hollywood actress told jurors on Monday the shooting was “a death waiting to happen in his world.”

<p>Phil Spector arrives at Los Angeles Superior Court in Los Angeles March 23, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>

“When he’s ignited, he always does the same thing -- he grabs a gun,” prosecutor Truc Do said in closing arguments in the five-month retrial. “In every single one of these incidents, Mr. Spector demonstrates conscious disregard for human life...Her death was a death waiting to happen in his world.”

Spector, 69, is charged with murdering Lana Clarkson, 40, on Feb 3, 2003 as she tried to leave his faux castle home outside Los Angeles. The two met for the first time only hours before in a Hollywood nightclub where the B-movie actress was working as a hostess.

Clarkson was shot in the mouth and the prosecution has argued that the shooting was part of a pattern of gun play and violence toward women by Spector in the past.

Spector faced a murder conviction in September 2007 when the criminal case against him ended with a jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of convicting him. California law requires a unanimous verdict to convict or acquit, resulting in the new trial.

As the retrial entered its final stages, the judge ruled the jury this time may also consider the lesser offense of manslaughter when they deliberate over a verdict. The ruling was seen as increasing the chances of a conviction because the manslaughter option was not available at the first trial.

Spector, an early music producer who pioneered the 1960s “Wall of Sound” recording technique, has appeared frail and quiet in court. He did not take the witness stand at either the first or second trial.

The once revered producer’s new team of lawyers has argued that Clarkson was depressed over her failure to hit it big as an actress in Hollywood and that she took her own life. The defense makes its closing arguments on Tuesday.

If convicted of murder, Spector could spend 20 years to life in prison. A manslaughter conviction would result in about 8-10 years in prison.

The two lengthy trials, with testimony from five women and a jury visit to the bizarre fake castle where the reclusive Spector lives, have all but obliterated his status as the genius behind Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” and the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”.

Spector was the producer and co-writer of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”, which was listed as the most-played song of the 20th century in the United States, according to the performing rights association Broadcast Music Inc.

Spector first found fame as the mastermind behind popular 1960s girl groups and later worked with The Beatles, Cher, Leonard Cohen and The Ramones. None of his former pop music friends testified in his defense.

Spector has been free on $1 million bail since his arrest in 2003. In 2006, he wed for the fourth time, marrying model/actress Rachelle Short who is about 30 years his junior.

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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