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Phil Spector case goes to jury

March 26, 2009 | 12:16 pm

Phil_spector Phil Spector’s fate is once again in the hands of a jury.

A panel of seven men and five women filed out of the courtroom at 11:40 this morning to begin deliberations. Jurors, who have heard five months of testimony in the legendary music producer’s retrial in the shooting death of Lana Clarkson,  are considering whether  her  death six years ago was suicide, as the defense contends; murder, as the prosecution alleges; or manslaughter, a choice required by law but embraced by neither side.

Spector, 69, the inventor of pop music’s “Wall of Sound,”  faces a minimum of 18 years in prison if convicted of second-degree murder. His defense maintains Clarkson was depressed and turned Spector’s .38 Special on herself. Prosecutors contend  he shot Clarkson in the mouth after she tried to leave his Alhambra mansion.

In a final argument to jurors before they began deliberations, a prosecutor seized on the actress’ chance meeting with Spector, three hours before her death, at a Sunset Strip club where she was a VIP room hostess.

He asked jurors to imagine they could speak one sentence to her before she got in Spector’s chauffeured Mercedes.

“You are all thinking the same thing,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Alan Jackson said. Dropping his voice to a whisper, he continued, “You’d say, ‘Lana, whatever you do, don’t go.’”

He said the impulse to warn Clarkson came from jurors’ knowledge of “the real Phil Spector” -- a “demon” with a history of menacing women with guns.

Jackson asked jurors in Spector’s 2007 trial to imagine the same scenario. That panel deadlocked 10 to 2 in favor of conviction.

Outside the presence of the panel, Spector’s attorney moved for a mistrial on the grounds that the prosecutor had argued the producer had a propensity to commit crime. Spector, dressed in a black suit and chartreuse tie, remained stoic during the summation. In the front row of the courtroom, Clarkson’s mother, Donna, wiped away tears.

-- Harriet Ryan

Photo: Phil Spector. Credit: Los Angeles Times.