April 12, 2011 / 5:50 PM / 8 years ago

Phil Spector lawyers urge new trial on murder charge

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lawyers for record producer Phil Spector urged a California appeals court on Tuesday to throw out his 2009 murder conviction and grant a third trial.

But after a day of oral arguments in Los Angeles, 71-year-old Spector will have to wait for up to three months to find out if his request has been granted.

Spector, once revered in the music industry for creating the layered “Wall of Sound” recording technique, is serving a prison sentence of at least 19 years for the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson.

He did not attend Tuesday’s court appeal hearing.

Spector was convicted of second degree murder by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury in April 2009, in his second trial. A 2007 trial ended in a mistrial after jurors deadlocked.

Spector’s attorneys argued on Tuesday that both trials were prejudiced by testimony from five women who said they were victims of gun-related incidents with Spector years ago.

They also sought to persuade the appeals court that trial judge Larry Fidler effectively turned himself into a prosecution witness when the second jury was shown a videotape of him describing evidence about blood spatter given by a technician in the first trial.

Prosecutors argued that Spector’s prior gun play with other women were both relevant and explained the motive for the shooting.

Clarkson died in the foyer of Spector’s home of a gunshot to the mouth just hours after meeting him at a night club where she was working.

Spector’s lawyers argued at the two trials that Clarkson shot herself because she was depressed. Spector pleaded not guilty but did not testify in his own defense.

The three judge panel will issue its ruling within 90 days.

Spector, a millionaire by the time he turned 21, worked with the Beatles, the Ronettes, Cher and Leonard Cohen at the height of his fame in the 1960s and 1970s. Before his imprisonment, he had lived for years as a virtual recluse in a mock castle in suburban Los Angeles.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant

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