Spector faces life sentence for actress's murder

Record producer shot Lana Clarkson in the mouth at his LA mansion

Phil Spector, the legendary record producer who invented the "Wall of Sound" recording technique, is likely to spend the rest of his natural life behind bars after being found guilty of murdering a struggling actress at his hilltop castle in Los Angeles.



The 69-year-old music icon, who achieved fame in the 1960s and went on to shape some of the most influential music of the past 40 years, shot Lana Clarkson through the mouth during a late-night altercation at his sprawling Alhambra mansion.

A famous eccentric with a track record of abusive behaviour towards women and a fatal fascination with firearms, the characteristically dishevelled-looking Spector did not react when the verdict was read out by the foreman of the jury yesterday afternoon, following 30 hours of deliberations.

His wife Rachelle, a 28-year-old former Playboy model whom he married in 2006, began sobbing as the judge said he should be taken into custody immediately, pending sentencing at the end of next month. Second degree murder carries a sentence of between 15 years and life. In reaching its decision, the jury of six men and six women chose not to convict Spector on a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, which would have carried a sentence of between two and four years.

They found that Spector, who was a heavy drinker, killed Ms Clarkson with a single shot to the head after apparently falling into a jealous rage when she rejected his sexual advances. She was sitting on a chair in the hallway of his 30-room house. Despite being the only potential witness to the incident, he chose not to give evidence during the case. His only public comment about the killing remains an interview with Esquire magazine in late 2003, when he claimed Clarkson had: "kissed the gun."

In court, Spector's defence team claimed that the actress, whom he'd met at the House of Blues nightclub in Hollywood on 2 February 2003 and subsequently persuaded to return to his home for drinks, had decided to kill herself on a whim, after discovering his .38 Colt Cobra pistol. They argued that Clarkson, 40, who starred in the 1980s cult film Barbarian Queen but had since struggled to find acting jobs, was distressed over the state of both her career and her finances.

That was enough to prevent the jury in a previous trial from reaching the unanimous verdict required in murder cases under Californian law. However the prosecution in his retrial succeeded in portraying him as a "demonic maniac" who habitually abused women.

Prosecutor Truc Do produced five previous girlfriends who testified that Spector had become violent and waved firearms at them when drunk.

"Behind the VIP was a very dangerous man, a man who believed that all women deserve a bullet in their head," she said, in a highly theatrical closing argument. "This case is about a man who has had a history of playing Russian roulette with the lives of women. Five women got the empty chamber. Lana got the sixth bullet." The prosecution case also involved evidence from Spector's driver, who claimed the defendant had staggered into the driveway after the incident, clutching a pistol and crying "I think I killed somebody!"

Yesterday's verdict leaves Spector, a man whose fortune was once estimated at $50m (£33.6m), and who was responsible for producing "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" by the Righteous Brothers facing financial ruin.

Since Clarkson's death he has retained more than 13 defence lawyers since, some of whom are on $1 million a year. The Los Angeles Times recently reported that he was liquidating assets to pay for the legal fees. During the most recent trial, he paid $400,000 for several blood-spatter experts to give evidence that suggested the circumstances of Clarkson's killing were consistent with suicide.

Spector appeared in the LA Superior Court in a selection of bizarre designer outfits during the trial, sporting eccentric haircuts and make-up. At times he looked heavily medicated.

He created his "Wall of Sound" production style by employing large groups of musicians, sometimes using double and triple instrumentation, to create a dense sound. He once described his technique as "a Wagnerian approach to rock'n'roll: little symphonies for the kids."

Stories about his behaviour are legion. According to the biography Wall of Pain, he kept a gun in the studio, fired a shot during an acrimonious recording session with John Lennon, and once pressed a pistol to singer Leonard Cohen's neck.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game