Jury selection begins in Phil Spector retrial

18 culled from group of 80 potential jurors Monday

Jury selection began Monday for the murder retrial of music producer Phil Spector, who is accused of killing actress Lana Clarkson at his mansion five years ago.

About 80 prospects reported to court and an initial group of 18 was chosen for questioning by lawyers later in the day.

Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler asked the nine men and nine women if they can be fair and impartial and follow his instructions.

"What we do not want ... is people with an agenda," Fidler told jurors.

One woman gave a long pause about whether she could sit on a jury, before revealing her son had been murdered several years ago. A middle-age man said he might have trouble being objective, considering someone of Spector's stature is on trial.

"I feel that certain celebrities may have an advantage in the sort of defense attorneys they can choose and afford versus someone who cannot," the man said.

Spector is charged with second-degree murder in the 2003 death of Lana Clarkson. The 40-year-old actress died of a gunshot through the mouth while sitting in the foyer of his Alhambra mansion.

Spector's first trial ended a year ago when jurors deadlocked 10-2, with the majority favoring conviction. Spector's defense suggested Clarkson shot herself.

Spector was in court with his wife, Rachelle. The 69-year-old wore a long, black pinstriped jacket with a bright red tie and a silver dragonfly broach on his lapel.

Jury selection is expected to last the rest of the week.

Prospective jurors who reported Monday had already filled out lengthy questionnaires asking their views about the criminal justice system and if they had followed celebrity criminal trials, including Spector's.