Murder charges imminent for Phil Spector

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Phil Spector, the eccentric record producer and gun fancier, is expected to be remanded for trial on murder charges tomorrow, 19 months after a B-movie actress was found shot dead in his hill-top mansion in Los Angeles.

The creator of the Wall of Sound has been asked to appear in court, in an unorthodox legal manoeuvre that his lawyers believe means he has already been secretly indicted by a grand jury. Although prosecutors in the case have said nothing, his defence team believes the chances of avoiding a trial are now next to zero.

Spector, 63, met the victim, Lana Clarkson, 40, at the West Hollywood club the House of Blues on the night of 3 February last year. He then had his limousine drive them back to his mansion in Alhambra, in north-eastern Los Angeles. What happened next is a source of considerable dispute. Spector saidthat she came to his house to commit suicide. "She kissed the gun," he told Esquire. "I have no idea why - never knew her, never even saw her before that night."

The police, however, maintain that it would have been physically impossible for Ms Clarkson's wounds to be self-inflicted.

Spector has a history of playing with guns and threatening family and friends - not to mention artists he has worked with as disparate as Leonard Cohen and the Ramones. His ex-wife, Ronnie, of early protégés the Ronettes, also claimed he kept her captive in the house.

Spector has acknowledged a history of instability. As he told an interviewer shortly before Ms Clarkson's death: "I have not been well. Insane is a hard word. I wasn't insane, but I wasn't well enough to function as a regular part of society, so I didn't."

He has denied responsibility for Ms Clarkson's death from the beginning, however.

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