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Phil Spector is convicted

Phil Spector, center, stands with attorney Doron Weinberg, left, as the verdict is read at his trial in Los Angeles on Monday.

Associated Press

Phil Spector, center, stands with attorney Doron Weinberg, left, as the verdict is read at his trial in Los Angeles on Monday.

LOS ANGELES — Popular music producer Phil Spector was convicted Monday of second-degree murder in the shooting death of a film actor at his mansion six years ago, a verdict that will send him to prison for at least 18 years barring a successful appeal.

A Superior Court jury returned the verdict after about 30 hours of deliberations. The jury had the option of choosing the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, but did not do so.

The jury also found Spector guilty of using a firearm in committing a crime.

Spector, 69, exhibited no reaction to the verdict. His attorney argued that he should remain free on bail pending the May 29 sentencing, but Judge Larry Paul Fidler remanded him to jail immediately.

Second-degree murder carries a penalty of 15 years to life in prison. The use-of-a-gun enhancement adds three, four or 10 years in prison, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Defense attorney Doron Weinberg said he believed the case was swayed by the judge's erroneous rulings, particularly one that allowed five women from Spector's past to testify. He said it would be the basis for appeal and a request for a new trial.

Spector's wife, Rachelle, sobbed as the decision was announced. It was Spector's second trial. The first jury deadlocked 10-2, favoring conviction in 2007.

Lana Clarkson, star of the 1985 cult film Barbarian Queen, died of a gunshot fired in her mouth as she sat in the foyer of Spector's mansion in 2003. Clarkson, 40, met Spector only hours earlier at her job as a nightclub hostess.

Prosecutors argued Spector had a history of threatening women with guns when they tried to leave his presence. The defense said she killed herself.

Spector was out on the town in Hollywood when he met Clarkson on Feb. 3, 2003, at the House of Blues. The actor, unable to find acting work, had taken a job as a hostess. When the club closed in the wee hours, she accepted a chauffeured ride to Spector's home for a drink. Three hours later, she was dead.

The murder case was a flash from Hollywood's distant past, a reminder of the 1960s when Spector reigned as the hitmaker supreme with such songs as the Righteous Brothers' You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' and the Ronettes' classic Be My Baby.

Phil Spector is convicted 04/13/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 13, 2009 11:19pm]
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