Monday, April 13, 2009

Phil Spector Guilty of Murder

The boy genius has given way to the convicted murderer.

Rock music producer Phil Spector was convicted Monday of second-degree murder in the shooting death of a film actress,Lana Clarkson at his mansion six years ago.

Spector, who was taken immediately into custody, showed no emotion at the verdict, reports said; his wife Rachelle sobbed.

Second-degree murder carries a penalty of 15 years to life in prison.

The 69-year-old Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member faces up to life in prison when sentenced May 29.

This was Spector's second judgment day on the Clarkson case. In 2007, a jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of convicting Spector.

At the second trial as at the first, prosecutors said Clarkson fell victim to a man who had a history of waving guns at, and acting violently toward, women, especially when he'd been drinking. Spector's defense argued she shot herself.

There was one new twist at the new trial, but it ended up being a nonfactor, unfortunately for Spector.

At this trial, jurors had the option of convicting Spector of a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. They not only didn't take the option, they also convicted the former hitmaker of using a gun while committing a crime.

For L.A. prosecutors, the guilty verdicts were a welcome change. They previously failed to win convictions against celebrity murder defendants O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake.

Spector, 69, who had long lived in seclusion at his suburban Alhambra "castle," was out on the town in Hollywood when he met Clarkson on Feb. 3, 2003, at the House of Blues. The actress, recently turned 40 and unable to find acting work, had taken a job as a hostess. When the club closed in the wee hours, she accepted a chauffeured ride to Spector's home for a drink. Three hours later, she was dead.

Spector's fame dates back to 1958, when, at age 19, he wrote and sang his way to No. 1 on the chart with "To Know Him Is to Love Him."

As a young producer, Spector dominated the pre-Beatles 1960s with hit ("He's a Rebel") after hit ("Da Doo Ron Ron") after hit ("Be My Baby"). The songs were predominantly recorded by girl groups and were exclusively backed by the aural sensation known as the "Wall of Sound." Spector's magic touch continued through the 1960s, with "Unchained Melody," the Beatles Let It Be, John Lennon's "Imagine" and George Harrison "My Sweet Lord," among other standouts.

But over the past 30-40 years, Spector's fame gave way to a kind of infamy—the mad genius who, per lore, pulled gun on Lennon and the Ramones, or who, per Ronnie Spector, of the Spector creation the Ronettes, treated her more as a captive than wife during their troubled marriage.

Spector's alleged gun-waving ways caught up to him at trial, if not on night of Clarkson's death at his Alhambra, Calif., castle-style home. At Spector's first trial, five women testified about being at the other end of a gun drawn by Spector. Their testimony was allowed to be introduced in the new trial.

The 40-year-old Lana Clarkson, star of the 1985 cult film "Barbarian Queen," died of a gunshot fired in her mouth as she sat in the foyer of Spector's mansion in 2003. She met Spector only hours earlier at her job as a nightclub hostess.

About five hours later, after the pair was driven to Spector's home, Spector walked out of his mansion, and, per testimony at the first trial, told his driver: "I think I killed somebody."

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