Jurors deadlocked in Phil Spector murder trial


LOS ANGELES — Jurors in the murder trial of legendary music producer Phil Spector said Tuesday they were deadlocked, raising the possibility of a mistrial after a five-month-long court-room battle. In a dramatic development at a packed Los Angeles Superior Court, jurors mulling murder charges against Spector said that after four ballots they were split 7-5, with no prospect of a breakthrough. “At this time we don’t believe that anything else will change the positions of the jurors based on the facts of the case,” the jury foreman told Judge Larry Paul Fidler on the seventh day of deliberations. Fidler later dismissed the jury for the day. They will return on Wednesday at 10:00 am after three members of the nine-man three-woman panel requested further instructions.

In a surprise development, Fidler said jurors may be asked to consider convicting Spector on involuntary manslaughter charges. He had earlier ruled that jurors would only be able to consider a second degree murder charge. Fidler also dismissed a defense motion for the case to be declared a mistrial. Spector, 67, who pioneered the “Wall of Sound” recording technique during the 1960s and is regarded as one of the most influential figures in rock-pop music history, is accused of gunning down B-movie actress Lana Clarkson at his castle-like home in February 2003. Prosecutors allege that the reclusive Spector shot Clarkson in the head as she attempted to leave his home after meeting him for the first time only a few hours before in the Hollywood nightclub where she worked. District attorney Alan Jackson said during the trial Spector had a “rich history of violence” against women, often flying into drunken, gun-toting rages whenever they tried to leave his company. No fewer than five women acquaintances of Spector testified that the genius behind 1960s hits such as “Da Doo Ron Ron” and “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” threatened them with guns in incidents dating back to the 1970s. Spector’s former chauffeur also provided damaging evidence, telling jurors that on the night of the shooting his employer had emerged from a doorway clutching a pistol in a bloodied hand to say: “I think I killed somebody.” Defense lawyers argued however that Clarkson, famous for her role in Roger Corman’s 1985 cult classic “The Barbarian Queen” but whose career had stalled at the time of her death, killed herself.