Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Tuesday, 14 October 2008 13:27 UK

Spector prepares for trial encore

By Peter Bowes
BBC News, Los Angeles

Record producer Phil Spector is once again preparing to face the music as jury selection for his murder retrial reaches its final stages.

Phil Spector
Phil Spector has worked with The Beatles and The Righteous Brothers

Mr Spector, best known for creating the "Wall of Sound" recording technique, is accused of killing 40-year-old B-movie actress Lana Clarkson in 2003.

His first trial ended with a hung jury. After deliberating for two weeks, the jurors told the court they were split 10 to two in favour of a guilty verdict. The judge declared a mistrial.

The prosecutors, convinced of their case against Mr Spector, were quick to announce that they intended to retry the record producer on the same charge of second degree murder.

"We start afresh with a brand new jury and, in this case, a new defence team," explains Darren Kavinoky, a criminal defence lawyer and legal pundit who is not connected to the Spector trial.

"We're going to hear new opening statements, new closing arguments and cross-examination of each witness and, of course, there may be some tactical and strategic decisions that are made that are brand new as well."

Oddball character

Mr Spector has been free on $1m (570,000) bail since Ms Clarkson died more than five-and-a-half years ago.

He is an oddball character, known for his changing hairstyles as much as his musical legacy.

Lana Clarkson
Lana Clarkson made her name in cult film Barbarian Queen

Back in the day, he helped mould the careers of The Beatles, Tina Turner, The Righteous Brothers and The Ronettes.

During his trial last year, which lasted five months, prosecutors painted Mr Spector as a serial womaniser with a penchant for lavish living and guns.

Mr Spector's driver told jurors that, on the night of Ms Clarkson's death, he heard a gunshot and saw his boss emerge from his home with blood on his hand and say: "I think I killed somebody."

He met the actress, who made her name in the cult film Barbarian Queen, earlier the same evening at a Hollywood nightclub. She worked there as a hostess.

The jury heard from five women who knew Mr Spector. They all told similar stories about the producer threatening them with a gun, usually after he had been drinking.

One of the five has since died but it is understood that a video of her testimony will be shown to jurors at the new trial.

It is also expected that there will be at least one new witness, a woman who emerged after the first trial and who is prepared to recount a similar story about Mr Spector.

'Prosecution edge'

Throughout the first trial, Mr Spector's lawyers maintained that there was no forensic evidence to prove that he fired the fatal shot. It was suggested that Ms Clarkson's death was an "accidental suicide".

"Generally retrials favour the prosecution," says Mr Kavinoky.

"The defence keeps the cards very close to the vest but once that first trial has been run through then everyone knows where the defence is leaning.

"So, generally, that's going to give an edge to the prosecution."

The celebrity factor certainly could come into play and that's something that prosecutors really fear
Legal pundit Darren Kavinoky

That said, Mr Spector has a new team of lawyers to fight his case having parted company with his previous defenders. And with a new team could come a new strategy.

"The celebrity factor certainly could come into play and that's something that prosecutors really fear," explains Mr Kavinoky.

"It only takes one juror to vote not guilty and that mucks up the works for the prosecution.

"That's the fear - that one juror will be awed by who Phil Spector is, that he created the Wall of Sound, and it will be that that will prevent a conviction in this case."

The trial is expected to move faster this time. With most of the arguments having been heard and tested in a courtroom, the lawyers are expected to streamline their cases.

Some factors will not change - the trial will be presided over by the same judge and there will be the inevitable media attention that accompanies all show business trials in Los Angeles.

"There's a certain curiosity that comes with it and, as much as we like to see people rise, we also like to see them fall," says Mr Kavinoky.


Phil Spector Hung jury
Why the jury failed to reach a verdict in Phil Spector's murder trial




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