September 26, 2007 / 5:38 AM / 10 years ago

Spector judge declares mistrial

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles judge declared a mistrial in the murder trial of pioneering rock producer Phil Spector on Wednesday after jurors said for a second time that they could not agree on a verdict.

<p>Defendant Phil Spector sits next to his attorney Linda Kenny Baden (hidden) after a the judge in the case declared a mistrial due to a hung jury in his murder trial at the Los Angeles Superior Court in Los Angeles September 26, 2007. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>

Prosecutors said outside court that they intended to retry Spector, best known for his early 1960s “Wall of Sound” recordings, for the 2003 shooting death of 40-year-old actress Lana Clarkson in his Los Angeles area home.

“We will begin immediately to prepare for a new trial,” Los Angeles County District Attorney’s spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said.

Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler declared the mistrial after the jury foreman said the panel was deadlocked, 10-2, on second-degree murder charges against Spector.

A court spokesman later said the split was 10 jurors in favour of guilty and 2 in favour of acquittal.

“At this time, I will find the jury is unable to declare a verdict and I will declare a mistrial in this matter,” Fidler said as Spector, who came to court dressed in a black suit and red tie, sat quietly in court.

<p>Defendant Phil Spector (L) and his wife Rachelle arrive for a court session in Spector's murder trial at Los Angeles Superior Court in Los Angeles September 26, 2007. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>

Spector left without speaking to the media. The judge set an October 3 hearing to determine how to proceed.

Clarkson was found dead in the foyer of Spector’s castle-like home on February 3, 2003, after his limousine driver summoned police, saying that the rock producer had killed her.

Slideshow (5 Images)

Prosecution witnesses testified that Spector had a history of brandishing guns at women and said the Colt Cobra .38 special revolver may have gone off accidentally after he jammed it in Clarkson’s face when she tried to leave.

Defence lawyers countered that Clarkson, best known as the star of such B-movies as “Amazon Women on the Moon” and “Barbarian Queen,” had been depressed and may have been holding the gun herself when it went off in her mouth.

Spector, who created the innovative “Wall of Sound” recording technique and worked with The Beatles, The Ronettes, Tina Turner and Cher, did not testify in his own defence. He told a magazine interviewer early in the case that Clarkson committed suicide for unknown reasons.

After a five-month trial, jurors began deliberating in the Spector trial on September 10 and told Fidler on September 18 that they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

The panel resumed deliberations two days later after Fidler gave them revised legal instructions.

Additional reporting by Jill Serjeant

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