April 26, 2007 / 1:44 AM / 12 years ago

Defence in Spector trial says actress shot herself

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Lawyers for music producer Phil Spector told a jury on Thursday that the actress he is charged with murdering shot herself while under the influence of alcohol and painkillers and that scientific evidence would prove it.

Music producer Phil Spector (C) is surrounded by his attorneys Bruce Culter (L), Roger Rosen (2nd L), Linda Kenney Baden (2nd R) and forensic evidence consultant Christopher Plourd (R) as they stand in the courtroom of Judge Larry P. Fidler before the presentation of opening statements in Spector's murder trial at Los Angeles Superior Court, April 25, 2007. REUTERS/Gabriel Bouys/Pool

In opening arguments on the second day of the long-awaited trial, one of Spector’s lawyers also said that four other women, who will testify that Spector brandished guns at them years ago, were telling “tall tales” and never filed charges against him.

Spector, 67, best known for his 1960s “Wall of Sound” recording technique and work with The Beatles and The Righteous Brothers, faces life in prison if he is convicted of killing B-movie actress Lana Clarkson in the foyer of his imposing Los Angeles area mansion on February 3, 2003.

Spector met Clarkson, 40, at a Hollywood club on the night of her death and the two went back to his home for a late drink. She died of a gunshot to her mouth.

Lead defence lawyer Bruce Cutler said Spector “had no motive to hurt this woman. He harboured no malice towards this woman.”

Spector’s other lawyer, Linda Kenney Baden, said Clarkson’s intentions were not known, but she had been depressed. “What we do know is that she put the barrel (of the gun) in her mouth. We know she was drinking, we know she was taking pills.”

She said the defence would show forensic evidence based on gunshot residue and on the position of the gun, blood and tissue spatter that would prove Clarkson herself held the gun inside her mouth, not Spector.

Baden told the jury that the prosecution was “selling you a story because they are not giving you all the scientific facts.”

The prosecution said on Wednesday that Spector had a long history of exploding into fury and using guns to intimidate women that culminated with him shooting Clarkson dead when she tried to leave his home.

The trial, being televised live, is expected to last up to three months in what promises to be the biggest celebrity court case since singer Michael Jackson was acquitted of child molestation in 2005.

It is not clear if Spector, who has shunned the public eye for decades and has described himself as battling depression and internal “devils,” will testify.

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