Lawyers To Question Potential Jurors In Phil Spector's Murder Trial

Monday, April 16th 2007, 7:19 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Lawyers in Phil Spector's murder trial are seeking to uncover hidden biases about celebrity defendants as they question prospective jurors individually.

Jury selection was set to resume Monday, a month after potential jurors filled out questionnaires that included a section on their attitudes toward celebrities. Lawyers are to question them in person about whether they believe stars get a fair shake from the justice system, get away with crimes because of their status or are treated preferentially by police.

The jury will be asked to decide if Spector was responsible for the death of Lana Clarkson. The 40-year-old cult movie actress was found in the foyer of Spector's home on Feb. 3, 2003, slumped dead in a chair, her teeth blown out by a gunshot to her mouth.

Spector has pleaded not guilty and is free on $1 million bail. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler has set aside two weeks for jury selection; he has said the trial could last four months.

Spector, whose age has been reported variously as 66 and 67, gained fame in the 1960s for his ``Wall of Sound'' recording technique. He changed the way rock music was recorded and influenced top recording artists including The Beatles.

But jurors, who may have limited knowledge of Spector's reputation, could hear allegations he has a dark side. The judge has agreed to admit testimony from five women who claim that Spector threatened them with guns at varying times, one as long as 30 years ago.

The jurors will also hear about Clarkson, best known as the star of Roger Corman's cult film ``Barbarian Queen.'' She was working as a hostess at the House of Blues when she went home with Spector the night she died.

The defense will offer a profile of Clarkson as a down-on-her-luck actress so despondent about her finances and faded career that she contemplated suicide, according to motions filed last week.

The coroner's office called her death a homicide, but also noted Clarkson had gunshot residue on both of her hands and may have pulled the trigger.

In an e-mail to friends, Spector called the death ``an accidental suicide.''