Phil Spector lawyers seek new trial on murder charge

LOS ANGELES Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:57pm BST

Music producer Phil Spector (L) sits in court with his attorney Dennis Riordan at the Los Angeles Superior Court, during his sentencing for the February 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson May 29, 2009. REUTERS/Al Seib/Pool

Music producer Phil Spector (L) sits in court with his attorney Dennis Riordan at the Los Angeles Superior Court, during his sentencing for the February 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson May 29, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Al Seib/Pool

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lawyers for record producer Phil Spector were expected to urge a California appeals court on Tuesday to throw out his 2009 murder conviction and grant a third trial.

Spector, 71, once revered in the music industry for creating the layered "Wall of Sound" recording technique, is serving a prison sentence of at least 19 years for the 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson.

He was convicted of second degree murder by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury in April 2009, in his second trial. A 2007 trial ended in a mistrial after jurors deadlocked.

Spector's attorneys say his trial was prejudiced by testimony from five women who said they were victims of gun-related incidents with Spector years ago.

Prosecutors say Spector's prior gun play with other women were "highly relevant."

Clarkson died in the foyer of Spector's home of a gunshot to the mouth just hours after meeting him at a night club where she was working.

Spector's lawyers argued at the two trials that Clarkson shot herself because she was depressed. Spector pleaded not guilty but did not testify in his own defence.

Attorneys for both sides were scheduled to make their arguments in Los Angeles before a three-judge panel from California's appeal court on Tuesday.

The producer worked with The Beatles, The Ronettes, Cher and Leonard Cohen at the height of his fame in the 1960s and 1970s but had lived as a virtual recluse for years in a mock castle outside Los Angeles.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by Dan Whitcomb)

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