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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
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

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick