Music producer Phil Spector convicted of murdering actor Lana Clarkson

Phil Spector is likely to die in prison after Los Angeles jury passed guilty verdict after nine days of deliberations

Phil Spector is likely to die in prison after the legendary music producer was convicted of murder for shooting the actor Lana Clarkson in a drunken and "sadistic" bout of Russian roulette.

The Los Angeles jury spent nearly nine days deliberating over the case in which the prosecution portrayed Spector, 68, as a misogynist with a history of pulling guns and "playing Russian roulette with the lives of women" while drunk. Prosecutors said it was only by a miracle that Clarkson, star of the cult film Barbarian Queen, was the first to die.

Spector was taken to prison to await a sentence next month of at least 18 years following his conviction for second-degree murder at his mansion six years ago.

However long he remains in prison, the trial has destroyed the reputation of one of the most influential music producers of the 60s, who pioneered the "wall of sound" with groups such as the Ronettes and went on to work closely with some of the most renowned musicians of the next two decades, from the Beatles to the Ramones.

Spector's wife, Rachelle, sobbed as the decision was announced.

The defence contended that Clarkson, 40, killed herself because she was depressed over her failing career and financial worries. But the jury at Spector's second trial – the first ended in deadlock – was persuaded by the prosecution's claim that the killing was malicious and that the music producer was a "demonic maniac" who on other occasions had pointed loaded guns at five women and pulled the trigger, although the hammer hit an empty chamber every time.

"By the grace of God, five other women got the empty chamber and lived to tell," said the prosecutor, Truc Do. "Lana just happened to be the sixth woman who got the bullet,"

Do told the court that Spector was used to tormenting women without suffering any consequences because he existed "in a world where money and fame buys you the VIP treatment."

"Behind the VIP was a very dangerous man, a man who believed that all women ... deserve a bullet in their head. In every single one of these incidents, Mr Spector demonstrates conscious disregard for human life. Her death was a death waiting to happen in his world."

For the final prosecution statement, deputy district attorney Alan Jackson repeated a theme he had struck in the first trial, taking jurors back to the night of Clarkson's death and asking them to imagine what they might have said to her before she got in Spector's car.

"You are all thinking the same thing," Jackson said. "You'd say, 'Lana, whatever you do, don't go.'"

In his closing statement, Spector's lawyer, Doron Weinberg, attempted to dispel the notion of the "demonic maniac", focusing on the forensic evidence which he said demonstrated that Clarkson had been holding the gun. Weinberg even showed jurors the gun that killed Clarkson, pointing it toward his own head as he argued that the blood stains on the handle proved it had been in her hands when it was fired.

"Phil Spector's DNA was nowhere on that gun," Weinberg said. "Every single fact says this is a self-inflicted gunshot wound. How do you ignore it? How do you say this could have been a homicide?"

Wienberg also attacked the testimony of Spector's chauffeur, who alleged that the producer came out of his house and said, "I think I killed somebody."

The driver, Weinberg said, was tired and hungry, his English was not great and there a fountain was running next to the car. "How do you know [what he said] wasn't 'Call somebody'?"

Spector, who did not take the witness stand in either trial, sat with his hands shaking, looking down at the table before him.

Clarkson's mother, Donna, is expected to press ahead with a wrongful death suit against Spector, whose fortune was once estimated in the tens of millions of dollars but has been greatly depleted by the cost of his two murder trials.


Dan Glaister in Los Angeles and Chris McGreal

The GuardianTramp

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