Phil Spector prosecutors finally get their conviction

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Phil Spector prosecutors finally get their conviction

Mon Apr 13, 2009 @ 05:56PM PST

By Matthew Belloni

Spector,phil The wall of sound around Phil Spector has come crashing down.

The legendary (and legendarily weird) music producer was convicted today of second degree murder for the February 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson. Jurors also found Spector personally used a firearm while committing the crime at his Alhambra mansion.

The conviction carries a penalty of 15 years-to-life in prison, though sentencing will not be until May 29. Until then, Spector is free after posting $1 million in bail.

The guilty verdict comes a year-and-a-half after Spector's first murder trial ended with a mistrial in September 2007. So the question begs: what did prosecutors do differently this time?

At this point it's tough to tell. Most of the trial played out in similar fashion, with deputy district attorney Alan Jackson repeating a theme he had struck in the first go-round: Spector is a wild-haired crazy person who became violent when he drank.

As in the first trial, five women testified that they were threatened by Spector, even held hostage in his home, with a gun pointed at them and threats of death if they tried to leave.

Defense attorney Doron Weinberg argued that the forensic evidence proved the gunshot wound was self-inflicted. But prosecutors countered with their own witnesses saying Spector must have been the shooter.

One key difference this time: Judge Larry Paul Fidler told the jury they could go for involuntary manslaughter instead of murder. That option wasn't given in Spector's first trial, and the jury deadlocked 10-2 on the second-degree murder charge. We won't speculate as to whether that was a key factor--in fact, juries in difficult cases often settle on the lesser charge just to be done with deliberations--but prosecutors appear to have bet correctly. The jury took about 30 hours to decide Spector's fate. And, at least according to the forewoman, they considered the evidence carefully.

"This entire jury took this so seriously," she told the AP in an interview room after the verdict was read. "I don't think there could have been another set of people who would listen to everything, review everything. It is a painful decision. Until somebody is in our shoes, you have no idea. It's tough to be on a jury. You're talking about another human being. We all have people we love. You try to evaluate another human being and it's difficult.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to

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