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Jury Convicts Music Producer Phil Spector Of Murder

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

In Los Angeles this afternoon, a guilty verdict for legendary rock music producer Phil Spector. The 69-year-old Spector was being tried for second-degree murder in the 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson, a woman he picked up at an L.A. nightclub.

As NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports, it was Spector's second trial in Clarkson's death.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO: The first time Phil Spector was tried for murder, the jury deadlocked 10-2. That was two years ago. The rock music producer was freed on a $1 million bail, and prosecutors went back to square one to try him again.

This time, the jury was in agreement and after 30 hours of deliberations, they found Spector guilty of shooting Lana Clarkson in the foyer of his mansion.

Unidentified Woman: We the jury, the above entitled action, find the defendant Philip Spector guilty of the crime of second-degree murder of Lana Clarkson.

DEL BARCO: Spector had no apparent reaction to the verdict and was immediately placed into custody. He was led away by sheriff's deputies and will remain in jail until his formal sentencing on May 29th.

Defense attorneys had tried to convince the jury that Clarkson was depressed over her failing acting career and that she shot herself at Spector's secluded home. Just hours earlier, the 40-year-old had met him at the House of Blues nightclub while working as a part-time hostess. Clarkson agreed to go home with him for a drink. But three hours later, she was dead.

Spector's chauffeur testified that he heard a gunshot and then saw Spector walk out of the house holding a gun, saying, I think I killed somebody.

Clarkson died of a single gunshot to the mouth. Defense lawyers argued it would have been nearly impossible for Spector to put the gun in her mouth. But prosecutors painted him as demonic maniac, a drinker with a history of using guns to threaten women.

(Soundbite of song, "The Long and Winding Road")

Mr. PAUL McCARTNEY (Musician): (Singing) You left me standing here a long long time ago.

DEL BARCO: Few of the jurors who convicted Spector knew anything about his legendary career. In the 1960s, he created the so-called Wall of Sound, a layered reverberant sound technique, which he used to produce The Beatles, The Righteous Brothers, The Ramones and other pop and rock groups.

Now that he's been convicted of second-degree murder, the 69-year-old Spector could face 18 years to life behind prison walls.

Mandalit del Barco, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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As an arts correspondent based at NPR West, Mandalit del Barco reports and produces stories about film, television, music, visual arts, dance and other topics. Over the years, she has also covered everything from street gangs to Hollywood, police and prisons, marijuana, immigration, race relations, natural disasters, Latino arts and urban street culture (including hip hop dance, music, and art). Every year, she covers the Oscars and the Grammy awards for NPR, as well as the Sundance Film Festival and other events. Her news reports, feature stories and photos, filed from Los Angeles and abroad, can be heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Weekend Edition, Alt.latino, and npr.org.
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