Judge declares mistrial in Spector murder case
LOS ANGELES – A mistrial was declared Wednesday in the murder case against Phil Spector when the jury reported that it was deadlocked 10-2 in favor of convicting the music producer of killing actress Lana Clarkson more than four years ago.
The prosecutor’s office announced it would seek to retry Spector, and the family of the actress also pledged to press on.
“We will not rest until justice is done,” said John C. Taylor, a lawyer for the family.
Spector and his wife, Rachelle, left the courthouse shortly after the mistrial.
Less than an hour after the jury was dismissed, Spector stood in the driveway of his Alhambra mansion, and looked to the sky.
Grinning, he waved at a news helicopter, then held his fingers up in a “V” victory sign.
The mistrial came after months of a trial in which jurors had to decide who pulled the trigger of a revolver – leaving no fingerprints – that went off in Clarkson’s mouth early Feb. 3, 2003. The jury had met for about 44 hours over 12 days since getting the case Sept. 10.
A week ago, the jury foreman had reported a 7-5 split. After that, Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler withdrew a jury instruction that he decided misstated the law and issued a new one, giving examples of what panelists could conclude from the evidence, including the possibility that Spector forced Clarkson to place the gun in her own mouth.
Some jurors agreed to talk to reporters at the courthouse but did not give their names.
One juror said that the holdouts argued over whether Clarkson was suicidal and that the entire jury would have liked to see a psychological profile of the actress.
Prosecutors had charged Spector under a second-degree murder theory that did not require premeditation or intent.
They called women from his past who claimed he threatened them with guns when they tried to leave his presence, and a chauffeur who testified that on the fateful morning Spector came out of his home with a gun in hand and said, “I think I killed somebody,” while Clarkson’s body sat slumped in a foyer chair behind him.
The defense countered with a scientific case, suggesting Spector did not fire the gun and offering forensic evidence that she killed herself – either intentionally or by accident. Gunshot residue on her hands, blood spatter on his coat and the trajectory of the bullet were the subjects of weeks of testimony from experts.
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