A prosecutor told a jury that Phil Spector’s history of violence against women was like a game of Russian roulette that ended with the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson at his hilltop mansion.
Deputy District Attorney Truc Do urged jurors Monday in the music producer’s retrial to find Spector guilty of second-degree murder, not the lesser possibility of involuntary manslaughter. His first jury deadlocked 10-2 for conviction.
She referred in her closing argument to Spector as becoming “a demonic maniac” when he drank and “a very dangerous man” around women.
“This case is about a man who has had a history of playing Russian roulette with the lives of women,” she said. “Five women got the empty chamber. Lana got the sixth bullet.”
A ruling by Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler which permitted testimony by five women in Spector’s past was perhaps the most controversial of both trials. All the incidents occurred between 1975 and 1995 but none resulted in guns being fired. All involved women who said Spector confronted them with guns when they tried to leave his presence.
Attorney Doron Weinberg was to present the defense argument Tuesday. The original case prosecutor, Alan Jackson, was to argue as well before the case goes to the jury Wednesday.
Weinberg is expected to say that the 40-year-old Clarkson, a down-on-her-luck actress in despair about her career, put the gun in her mouth and pulled the trigger six years ago. She was best known as the star of the 1985 cult film “Barbarian Queen.”
Do, who joined the prosecution team for the second trial, is well known for her expertise with electronic evidence displays. She dimmed the courtroom lights and illustrated every point with photos, PowerPoint displays of testimony excerpts and the video testimony of a now-dead woman who testified at Spector’s first trial in 2007.
She even projected a scene of dunes in her native Vietnam and said this illustrated the “shifting sands” of the defense case.
Do spoke briefly about blood spatter evidence which she said proved that Clarkson could not have shot herself, but the bulk of her argument concerned two aspects of the case: the testimony of the five other women and a chauffeur who testified that Spector told him: “I think I killed somebody.”
She cited evidence of Spector washing his hands and trying to wash off Clarkson’s bloody face after the shooting.
“He can wash his hands clean of her blood but he can’t wash them clean of her murder,” she said.
At the end of Do’s presentation, Weinberg moved for a mistrial, saying she had overstepped the bounds of pretrial rulings by the judge in attacking Spector’s character rather than focusing on trial evidence. The judge denied the motion.
Spector, 69, the legendary producer known for his “Wall of Sound” recording technique and his eccentric personality, sat staring straight ahead as the prosecutor spoke. His wife, Rachelle, and one of his sons were in the courtroom.
If convicted of second-degree murder he could draw a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. Involuntary manslaughter carries a penalty of two to four years behind bars.