Record producer Phil Spector was charged in an indictment unsealed today (Sept. 27) with murder in the shooting death of a B-movie actress at his mansion last year.
Spector, 64, leaned on the arm of his attorney as the indictment in the slaying of 40-year-old Lana Clarkson was read, but showed no emotion. Outside the Los Angeles court, he railed at prosecutors, comparing District Attorney Steve Cooley to Adolf Hitler.
“The actions of the Hitler-like DA and his storm trooper henchmen are reprehensible, unconscionable and despicable,” said Spector, who remains free on $1 million bail.
He spoke only briefly in court, answering, “Yes, your honor,” to Judge David S. Wesley’s questions. Lesley set Dec. 16 as the earliest possible trial date.
Spector, creator of rock music’s “Wall of Sound” recording technique in the 1960s, suggested in an interview with Esquire magazine that Clarkson shot herself.
If he had been allowed a preliminary hearing, Spector said, his attorneys would have called to the witness stand three of the foremost forensic scientists and coroners in the world and each would have testified that Clarkson shot herself. Prosecutors avoided a preliminary hearing by taking the case directly to a grand jury, which returned the indictments.
District attorney spokesperson Sandi Gibbons said that was done in part to avoid any further delay in bringing Spector to trial for the Feb. 3, 2003, shooting. “It’s been almost two years since Ms. Clarkson was killed in Mr. Spector’s home and it’s time for a trial,” she said. “We believe there is a crime. We charged a crime. And that crime is murder. Nothing is politically motivated in this case.”
Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty. Spector could receive a life sentence with the possibility of parole if convicted.
The judge agreed to keep the trial in Los Angeles rather than move it to Pasadena, closer to Spector’s home in Alhambra. Attorneys for both sides expressed concern about the crush of reporters expected to attend it, and the courtrooms in Los Angeles are bigger.
Clarkson starred in Roger Corman’s cult film classic “Barbarian Queen.” She was working as a hostess at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip and went home from there with Spector the night she was killed.