Opening Statements Underway At Spector Trial
More than four years after a beautiful actress was shot to death at Phil Spector's hilltop castle in Alhambra, Calif., a prosecutor told jurors today (April 25) that at times the music producer is "siMore than four years after a beautiful actress was shot to death at Phil Spector's hilltop castle in Alhambra, Calif., a prosecutor told jurors today (April 25) that at times the music producer is "sinister and deadly."
Spector appeared tense during the televised proceeding as the prosecution laid out the murder case against him in opening statements. Prosecutor Alan Jackson said Spector is someone "who, when he's confronted with the right circumstances, when he's confronted with the right situations, turns sinister and deadly."
"The evidence is going to paint a picture of a man who on February 3, 2003, put a loaded pistol in Lana Clarkson's mouth -- inside her mouth -- and shot her to death." Spector's attorneys were to present their opening remarks later.
Yesterday, the gender makeup of the jury sparked a last-minute legal dispute when prosecutors claimed the defense was systematically removing women through challenges. A judge disagreed and an alternate panel of four men and two women was chosen. The regular jury, sworn in last week, has nine men and three women.
Spector, 67, lives in a rambling castle-like mansion in suburban Alhambra. It was there that he took Clarkson on Feb. 3, 2003. She wound up dead in the foyer with a gunshot through her mouth.
Clarkson, 40, best known for her role in the Roger Corman 1980s cult classic "Barbarian Queen," had gone home with Spector from her job as a nightclub hostess. He met her only hours before she died.
A chauffeur who drove the pair to Spector's mansion has told of hearing a gunshot and seeing Spector emerge from the house holding a gun and declaring, "I think I killed somebody." Spector later said he believed the shooting was an "accidental suicide" by Clarkson.
It took about eight months for authorities to charge Spector with murder. They are proceeding on a theory of "implied malice," alleging he did not intend to kill Clarkson but caused her death by reckless behavior and taking an extreme risk. If convicted of second-degree murder, he could face 15 years to life in prison.
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