Long-playing Spector case won't fade out
EmptyThe specter of Phil Spector will haunt Hollywood well into 2008.
On Wednesday, the judge presiding over the legendary "Wall of Sound" producer's murder trial declared a mistrial after jurors indicated that they were hopelessly deadlocked, 10-2, in favor of convicting Spector on charges that he killed actress Lana Clarkson more than four years ago.
After the decision, the district attorney's office indicated that it would retry Spector.
"We will seek the court's permission to retry the case and begin immediately to prepare for a retrial," District Attorney Steve Cooley said. A hearing in the case was set for Wednesday.
Los Angeles criminal defense attorney James Blatt said he was not surprised by the district attorney's decision.
"The DA's office didn't receive the result they worked for, what they were hoping for," Blatt said. "I thought they represented a good case the way it was presented. The concern I had was the jury instructions.
"Sometimes it's difficult when you're not a juror to know what they're thinking, and that's why it's so critical for both sides to speak to a jury to know what went wrong or right in their particular decision," said Blatt, who appeared on CourtTV several times during the trial. "You might be doing something that makes sense to you but not the jury."
A retrial could break the already fragile Spector.
"When you go through the trauma and the anxieties of a criminal case in a fishbowl like Phil Spector did, it's draining psychologically and economically," said attorney Howard Weitzman, whose celebrity clients include Oprah Winfrey, Paris Hilton and Courtney Love. "And the ramifications of having a mistrial declared brings about a whole set of new problems."
Regarding Spector, Weitzman said he faces the question of keeping the same team of lawyers. That involves whether he financially, emotionally and physically can go through another trial, Weitzman said, with other considerations being his chances at the next trial and what to do if the district attorney offers a plea bargain.
"You're talking about an individual who is at a stage in life where imprisonment could be life-threatening, and I'm not sure, given that Phil Spector has gone to the mat once already, he wouldn't do it again," Weitzman said. "I believe any plea bargain that might be offered by the DA's office would be one that would not be acceptable to Mr. Spector."
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 Clarkson's mouth early Feb. 3, 2003. The jury met for about 44 hours over 12 days after getting the case Sept. 10.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.