May 30, 2009 in Nation/World

Phil Spector gets prison sentence of 19 years to life

Linda Deutsch Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Music producer Phil Spector sits in a Los Angeles courtroom Friday for his sentencing in the murder of actress Lana Clarkson.
(Full-size photo)

LOS ANGELES – Phil Spector was sentenced Friday to 19 years to life in prison for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson, who was shot through the mouth in the music producer’s home six years ago.

Spector, 69, looked straight forward and showed no emotion as Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler ordered a term of 15 years to life for second-degree murder plus four years for personal use of a gun.

Clarkson’s mother, Donna, made a brief statement before sentencing, speaking of her daughter’s fine qualities, sense of humor, intelligence and dedication to her craft of acting.

“I’m very proud of Lana, proud to be her mother,” Donna Clarkson said. She added, “No one should suffer the loss of a child.”

The judge also ordered Spector to pay $16,811 in funeral expenses, $9,740 to a state victims’ restitution fund and other fees.

Spector, dressed in his customary dark pinstripe suit with a red silk tie, was led away immediately. His attorney asked that he be transferred immediately from county jail to a state prison.

Spector gained fame decades ago for what became known as the “Wall of Sound” recording technique that changed rock music.

Clarkson was most famous as the star of Roger Corman’s 1985 cult film classic “Barbarian Queen.” She was 40 when she died.

Spector’s young wife, who is in her late 20s, attended the sentencing.

“This is a sad day for everybody involved,” Rachelle Spector said. “The Clarkson family has lost a daughter and a sister. I’ve lost my husband, my best friend. I feel that a grave injustice has been done and from this day forward I’m going to dedicate myself to proving my husband’s innocence.”

Spector’s son Louis also came to the sentencing. He had attended much of the trial.

“I’m torn about this,” he said. “I’m losing my father who is going to spend his life in jail. At the same time, justice is served.”

Defense attorney Doron Weinberg told reporters that the appeal will be extremely strong.

“Mr. Spector did not kill Lana Clarkson,” he said, “and we hope by the time we are through we will be able to prove that.”

Spector had two trials with essentially the same evidence. His first, in 2007, was televised gavel to gavel and spectators flocked to the courtroom. But when the jury deadlocked after a five-month trial, his legal “dream team,” which at times numbered half a dozen lawyers, bailed out.

By the time the second trial started in 2008, interest had waned. The judge ordered cameras turned off and only a handful of spectators and reporters stopped in sporadically to watch testimony.

During jury selection, only a few panelists remembered Spector’s heyday as producer of teen anthems including “To Know Him is to Love Him” by The Teddy Bears, The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” The Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron” and The Righteous Brothers’ classic, “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’.”

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