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Judge Declares Mistrial in Phil Spector Murder Trial


A mistrial was declared September 26 in the murder trial of Phil Spector, after the jury reported a 10-2 deadlock in favor of convicting the music producer in the 2003 slaying of actress Lana Clarkson.

The prosecutor's office announced it would seek to retry Spector, while the actress' family also pledged to press on. "We will not rest until justice is done," said John C. Taylor, a lawyer for the family of the 40-year-old actress, who was fatally shot in February, 2003.

The 67-year-old Spector and his wife, Rachelle, left the courthouse shortly after the mistrial declaration. The producer's attorneys later met with the jury. "We thank the people of Los Angeles for keeping an open mind and the jury for their very hard work and their willingness to share their thoughts with us," said defense attorney Linda Kenney-Baden.

The decision capped a five-month trial in which jurors had to decide who pulled the trigger of a revolver - leaving no fingerprints - which went off in Clarkson's mouth. The jury had met for about 44 hours over 12 days since getting the case on September 10. Last week, the jury foreman reported a 7-5 split.

Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler then withdrew a jury instruction which he declared misstated the law, while issuing a new one giving examples of what panelists could draw from the law. The new instruction included the possibility that Spector forced Clarkson to place the gun in her own mouth.

Fidler polled the jurors, each of whom indicated that a unanimous decision was not possible. Some jurors agreed to speak anonymously with reporters. One reportedly felt that Spector "acted like a guilty man," while another said the holdouts argued over whether Clarkson was suicidal. The juror said the panel would have liked to have seen a psychological profile of the actress. The foreman said "even on the jury there's deep regret that we were unable to reach a unanimous verdict."

In a statement, prosecutor Steve Cooley said "we will seek the court's permission to retry the case and begin immediately to prepare for a retrial." A hearing was set for Oct. 3.

Prosecutors, who sought to convict Spector of second-degree murder, portrayed the 1960s music producer as an unstable man who repeatedly threatened female guests at his Alhambra, California home.

The defense countered with a scientific argument suggesting that Clarkson fired the gun and killed herself, either intentionally or by accident. Expert testimony centered on gunshot residue on her hands, blood spatter on Spector's coat, and the trajectory of the bullet.

One of the most famous music producers of the 1960s, Phil Spector helped craft such songs as the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," cited by BMI as the most-played song in the history of U.S. radio. He also produced the Beatles' final album, "Let It Be." By the time he met Lana Clarkson early on February 3, 2003, Spector was a reclusive millionaire, largely forgotten by the public and the pop music industry.

Lana Clarkson, who starred in the 1985 film "Barbarian Queen," was a struggling actress who worked as a hostess at a House Of Blues nightclub. Friends testified she was struggling finanancially and emotionally.

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