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Phil Spector sentenced for murder of actress

Spector, who has been sentenced to 19 years to life in prison for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson on Friday, was a music producer,…

Spector, who has been sentenced to 19 years to life in prison for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson on Friday, was a music producer, a behind-the-scenes guy whose ideas changed the sound of rock music. He invented the “Wall of Sound”, a revolutionary recording technique.

He is a frail and ailing 69-year-old whose lawyer says he is enduring jail by focusing on his plans to appeal.

“He’s doing fairly well”, said Doron Weinberg. “He’s adjusting to the circumstances and settling down to wait out an appeal with high hopes. He feels he will win the appeal”.

Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler sentenced Spector to 15 years to life for second-degree murder and four years for personal use of a gun. The judge is also ordering restitution payments.

Spector had two trials with essentially the same evidence. His first in 2007 was televised gavel to gavel and spectators flocked to the courtroom. But when the jury deadlocked after a five-month trial, his legal “dream team,” which at times numbered half a dozen lawyers, bailed out.

By the time the second trial started in 2008, interest had waned. The judge ordered cameras turned off and only a handful of spectators and reporters stopped in sporadically to watch testimony.

The retrial lasted the same length of time as the first trial, but there was only one defence lawyer: Weinberg, a well-regarded veteran from San Francisco. A young woman prosecutor, Truc Do, was brought in to work with Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson. Most importantly, there was a new jury. The forewoman wept after the guilty verdict but gave no hint of what tipped the scales on the panel’s decision except to say it was based on “all the evidence, all the testimony.”

During jury selection, only a few panelists remembered Spector’s heyday as producer of teen anthems including “To Know Him is to Love Him,” The Ronette’s “Be My Baby,” The Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron” and The Righteous Brothers’ classic, “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’.” Spector also worked on a Beatles album with John Lennon.

Ironically, Clarkson didn’t know Spector’s music legacy either when she met him only hours before she wound up dead at his Alhambra “castle.” The 40-year-old actress had starred in Roger Corman’s 1985 cult film “Barbarian Queen,” but in 2003 she was working as a hostess at the House of Blues nightclub, where she had to be told by a manager that Spector was an important man.

His time had passed. And Clarkson’s career was also ebbing. Their fateful meeting, recounted in both trials, led to her death and the end of his life as he knew it. For the next six years he spent millions on lawyers as he sought to prove that Clarkson killed herself.

But what had happened inside his house was never clear. Clarkson’s body was slumped in a chair in a foyer. A gun had been fired inside her mouth. Spector’s chauffeur, the key witness, said he heard a gunshot, then saw Spector emerge holding a gun and heard him say: “I think I killed somebody.”

Weinberg said forensic evidence proved that Clarkson shot herself and cited her desperation at not being able to get acting work. Jackson said the shooting fit the pattern of other confrontations between Spector and women, and Do said Spector would become “a demonic maniac” when he drank. (AP)