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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 March 2007, 08:41 GMT
Spector trial jury process begins
Phil Spector
Mr Spector was in court for the start of the process on Monday

Jury selection in the murder trial of music producer Phil Spector has begun, four years after he was charged with killing an actress at his mansion.

The jury will be chosen from 300 candidates in Los Angeles.

But the opening statements, which will be televised live along with the rest of the trial, are unlikely to begin before the end of April.

Lana Clarkson died from a single shot in February 2003. Mr Spector denies murder, saying she committed suicide.

Mr Spector arrived at the Los Angeles court smiling at the hordes of waiting journalists. He was wearing a dark, knee-length coat and his trademark platform shoes.

He was present as the first group of 75 prospective jurors filed into court. Forty-three people were excused by a judge after explaining they would have difficulty serving on the jury.

'No crime'

Clarkson, 40, had been working as a hostess at a venue called the House of Blues and went home with Mr Spector on the night of her death.

In pre-trial-hearings, the prosecution argued that Mr Spector deliberately placed a weapon in the mouth of the B-movie star.

They also suggested he had previously threatened women with guns, but was never charged.

The Ronettes in 1966
He was behind hits such as Be My Baby by 1960s group the Ronettes
A police officer who was sent to the crime scene is expected to testify that Mr Spector said: "I didn't mean to shoot her - it was an accident."

But one of Mr Spector's lawyers, Bruce Cutler, has said the defence would be a straightforward case of saying that the 67-year-old "didn't shoot this woman".

"Everything in this case is consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound," Mr Cutler said.

"There was no malice, no motive, no intent, no homicide, no crime," he told the Associated Press.

The first stage of jury selection will take two days, with those left at the end of the session given questionnaires to discover any hidden prejudices that may deny Mr Spector a fair trial.

The 18-page questionnaire asks candidates if they feel celebrities are "entitled to act however they please" and whether they "have bad tempers and act aggressively".

New look

Lawyers will take a month to read the answers before the final stage of selecting the jurors. The jury selection will not be televised, but the main part of the trial will.

The opening statements are expected to begin at Los Angeles Superior Court on 30 April.

Mr Spector is best-known for his so-called "Wall of Sound" technique, employed on songs by the Beatles, the Ronettes and the Righteous Brothers, as well as on his famous album of Christmas music.

He has been free on $1m (510,000) bail but faces a life sentence if convicted.

The producer toned down his eccentric appearance for Monday's court date with a new hair style, but his lawyer denied it was a trial tactic.

"I have never had a conversation with Mr Spector about how he should dress in court," said Roger Rosen. "And if I did, he wouldn't pay attention."


PHIL SPECTOR MURDER TRIAL

Phil Spector Hung jury
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