April 13, 2009 / 9:25 PM / 9 years ago

Phil Spector found guilty of murder

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Legendary music producer Phil Spector was convicted on Monday of murdering a Hollywood actress in 2003 and will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

Music producer Phil Spector and wife Rachelle arrive at the criminal courts building in Los Angeles April 13, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

In his second trial, held after jurors deadlocked in 2007, Spector, 69, was found guilty of second-degree murder by a Los Angeles jury. The man once revered for revolutionizing pop music in the 1960s with his “Wall of Sound” production technique, faces a minimum of 18 years behind bars when he is sentenced on May 29.

Lana Clarkson, 40, a B-movie actress, died of a shot to the mouth, fired from Spector’s gun in the foyer of his home outside Los Angeles on February 3, 2003. The two met hours earlier at a Hollywood nightclub.

California criminal defense attorney Darren Kavinoky said Spector could only be paroled after spending the initial 18 years in prison. Only a few people sentenced to an indeterminate length of time in jail ever get out, he said.

“He’s got a better chance of winning the lottery than ever being released,” Kavinoky said.

Spector, who worked with The Ronettes, The Beatles, Cher and Leonard Cohen at the height of his fame, denied murdering Clarkson.

The first trial ended in September 2007 with the jury deadlocked 10-2, but in California jury verdicts must be unanimous.

He did not testify at either trial and showed little emotion when the verdict was read. He was taken into custody immediately after the verdict.


Clarkson’s family, which has also filed a wrongful death civil suit against Spector, said they were “pleased that the jury had rejected the distortion and trashing of (her) life by the defense.”

“Justice has been served,” they said in a statement. “Mr. Spector has to take responsibility for his actions.”

Prosecutors argued that the shooting of Clarkson was part of a pattern of gun play and violence toward women displayed by Spector in the past.

Spector’s lawyers said Clarkson committed suicide while suffering from depression over her failing career.

She was working as a hostess at the House of Blues in Hollywood when she met Spector. She was best known as the star of 1980s B-movies “Barbarian Queen” and “Amazon Women on the Moon.”

The two long trials featured testimony from five women and a jury visit to the mock castle where the reclusive Spector lived. Spector appeared frail in court, his hands often trembling. None of his old pop music friends testified in his defense.

Spector had a troubled early life. His father committed suicide, his sister spent time in mental institutions and Spector suffered bouts of severe depression.

Shortly before Clarkson was shot, Spector told British journalist Mick Brown in a rare interview that he had a bipolar personality and had “devils that fight inside me.”

In 2006, he quietly wed for the fourth time, marrying model-actress Rachelle Short, who is about 30 years his junior.

Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis and Bob Tourtellotte.

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