- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2007

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A mistrial was declared yesterday in the murder case against music producer Phil Spector when the jury reported for a second time that it could not reach a verdict on whether he killed actress Lana Clarkson more than four years ago.

The mistrial came after months of a trial in which jurors had to decide who pulled the trigger of a revolver — leaving no fingerprints — that went off in Miss Clarkson’s mouth about early Feb. 3, 2003.

Mr. Spector and his wife, Rachelle, left the courthouse shortly after the mistrial.

Prosecutors said outside court that they intended to retry Mr. Spector. A hearing was set for Oct. 3.

The jury foreman told Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler the split was 10-2 but did not say which way the panel leaned. A week earlier, the foreman had reported a 7-5 split.

The jury had met for about 44 hours over 12 days since getting the case Sept. 10.

After the initial deadlock, the judge withdrew a jury instruction that he decided misstated the law and issued a new one giving examples of what panelists could draw from the evidence, including the possibility that Mr. Spector forced Miss Clarkson to place the gun in her own mouth.

Judge Fidler polled the jury, and each member agreed that a unanimous decision was not possible.

“At this time, I will find that the jury is unable to arrive at a verdict and declare a mistrial in this matter,” the judge said.

Prosecutors had charged Mr. Spector under a second-degree murder theory that did not require premeditation or intent.

They called women from his past who claimed he threatened them with guns when they tried to leave his presence, and a chauffeur who testified that on the fateful morning Mr. Spector came out of his home with a gun in hand and said, “I think I killed somebody,” while Miss Clarkson’s body sat slumped in a foyer chair behind him.

The defense countered with a scientific case, suggesting Mr. Spector did not fire the gun and offering forensic evidence that she killed herself — either intentionally or by accident. Gunshot residue on her hands, blood spatter on his coat and the trajectory of the bullet were the subjects of weeks of testimony from specialists.

Mr. Spector, 67, rose to fame in the 1960s with the “Wall of Sound” recording technique, which revolutionized pop music. Miss Clarkson starred in the 1985 cult film “Barbarian Queen.”

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