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Phil Spector murder conviction upheld; appeals court says he got fair trial [Updated]

May 2, 2011 |  1:07 pm

Phil Spector in court before his conviction.

A state appellate court rejected Phil Spector’s appeal of his 2009 murder conviction Monday in a unanimous ruling that the music producer received a fair trial in the fatal shooting of an actress.

A three-judge panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal brushed aside a smorgasbord of arguments put forth by lawyers for Spector, including a claim that photos of the trial judge used in the prosecution’s closing argument had turned the court into a government witness.

In the decision, Presiding Judge Joan Klein wrote that the photos only demonstrated Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler clarifying the testimony of a forensic witness.

“The trial court never became a witness against Spector,” Klein wrote.

Spector, 71, is serving a sentence of 19 years to life for the murder of Lana Clarkson. His lawyers did not immediately return calls.

[Updated at 3:50 p.m.: In a statement, lawyers for Spector decried the decision and vowed to appeal.

"We believe that today's Court of Appeal opinion affirming Mr. Spector's conviction does not begin to adequately address the prosecution's remarkable assault on constitutional rights to a neutral judge and to cross-examine all adverse witnesses," wrote lawyers Dennis Riordan, Donald Horgan and Charles Sevilla.]


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Photo: Phil Spector in court before his conviction. Credit: Los Angeles Times