LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Eccentric 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.
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 layered “Wall of Sound” production technique, faces 18 years to life 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 be paroled only after spending the initial 18 years in prison.
“He’s got a better chance of winning the lottery than ever being released,” said Kavinoky, who was not involved in the case.
Spector, who worked with The Ronettes, The Beatles, Cher and Leonard Cohen at the height of his fame, denied murdering Clarkson. His lawyers said on Monday they would appeal.
He did not testify at either trial and although his hands shook while the verdict was read, he showed little emotion. He was taken into custody immediately after the verdict.
SPECTOR ‘HAS A PROBLEM WITH RAGE’-PROSECUTOR
Prosecutors argued that the shooting of Clarkson was part of a pattern of gun play and violence that Spector displayed toward women.
After the verdict, prosecutor Alan Jackson told reporters Spector “has a problem with rage, and he is a bully.”
Spector’s lawyers claimed that Clarkson was depressed about her failing career and committed suicide.
She worked as a hostess at the House of Blues in Hollywood when she met the man who produced songs like the Righteous Brothers’ hit “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin.’” Clarkson starred in such little-known movies as “Barbarian Queen” and “Amazon Women on the Moon.”
Clarkson’s family, who 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.”
The two long trials featured testimony from five women and a jury visit to the mock castle where the reclusive Spector lived. None of his old pop music friends testified in his defense.
Spector attorney Doron Weinberg criticized the decision to allow several female witnesses to testify about incidents dating back 20 years. It “left us with very little of a chance to have a fair trial,” Weinberg said.
The jury forewoman told reporters the panel based their decision on the totality of the evidence, rather than specific incidents.
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 Bob Tourtellotte.