Phil Spector’s defense lost a bid Tuesday to dismiss the murder charge against him and was rebuffed by the judge on a motion to reduce the charge to manslaughter.
Prosecutors, who rested their case Monday, filed documents saying the evidence “overwhelmingly establishes that the defendant murdered Lana Clarkson.”
And for the first time in the trial, prosecutor Alan Jackson argued that it may not even be necessary to show that Spector pulled the trigger to win a conviction. He said all that need be shown is that the music producer committed an act that was dangerous to Clarkson’s life — pointing the gun at her.
“He had the gun in his home, loaded with his bullets,” Jackson said. “Whether he pulled the trigger, whether he sneezed or she slapped his hand away or there was an earthquake — it doesn’t matter. It’s implied malice.”
He said that in the cases of three other women who testified about threats from a gun-wielding Spector, he said the producer threatened to kill them.
“He finally made good on his promise,” said the prosecutor.
Defense attorney Roger Rosen argued that the prosecution did not support its theory of second-degree murder by Spector in the death of Clarkson, a statuesque actress who was shot through the mouth at his mansion on Feb. 3, 2003.
Rosen said there was no showing of implied malice and the charge should be dismissed or reduced to manslaughter, which does not require a showing of malice.
Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler refused the motion for dismissal, which is routinely made at the end of a prosecution case.
“I’ve listened very intently to all the witnesses that have been presented during the people’s case in chief,” he said. “It’s very clear to me ... that there’s more than enough substantial evidence to support a conviction if there was one.”
He said his only job at this point was to decide whether the evidence presented was sufficient to support a verdict if the case goes to an appeals court.
The defense lost every motion it made Tuesday, including one to keep from jurors an extremely unflattering photo of Spector taken the day he was arrested. Rosen said it would be prejudicial and could be replaced by other photos taken the same night which were not quite as bad.
In oral and written arguments, prosecutors made it clear that the centerpiece of their case is the testimony from three women who claim that Spector threatened them with guns years ago.
The defense case, now under way, is focusing heavily on forensic evidence, seeking to show that Spector did not point a gun at Clarkson and did not shoot her. They are seeking to prove that blood spatter from her wound shows that he was not close enough to her to shoot her.
The defense contends that Clarkson’s acting career had faded and she was so despondent about having to work as a hostess at the House of Blues nightclub that she shot herself.
Spector, 67, revolutionized rock music recording decades ago with a technique that became known as the “wall of sound.” He is charged with murdering Clarkson after she went home with him from the club after work.