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Phil Spector Appeals Murder Conviction

Phil Spector's lawyers have filed their opening brief in the appeal of his murder conviction.

[T]hey focused on a judge's decision to allow testimony from five women who claimed Spector menaced them with firearms in the decades leading up to Lana Clarkson's shooting.

Those accounts, which portrayed Spector as a violent misogynist, became "the heart of the state's case, the sine qua non of its efforts to gain a conviction" and amounted to impermissible character testimony, the lawyers wrote.

For one thing, while the judge instructed the jury the testimony could not be taken as propensity to commit a crime, [More...]

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Report: Charles Manson Reaches Out to Phil Spector in Prison

Via Rolling Stone: Phil Spector ended up at Cocaran, in its Substance Abuse and Treatment Facility. Charles Manson is at the prison in Cocaran.

Apparently the proximity generated a creative spark: According to the New York Post’s Page Six, Manson reached out to the “Wall of Sound” producer seeking a behind-bars musical meet-up.

“A guard brought Philip a note from Manson, who said he wanted him to come over to his [lockup]. He said he considers Philip the greatest producer who ever lived,” Spector’s wife Rachelle — a colorful personality who often bickered with the judge during Phil’s murder trials — told Page Six. “It was creepy. Philip didn’t respond.” [More...]

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Is Phil Spector Really Tweeting From Jail?

The Teddy Bears with Phil Spector (on right)

Update: The tweets are a fake, the author confesses and is going to stop.

CNET News issues a red-faced correction. [More....]

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Phil Spector Sentence: 19 Years to Life

Phil Spector was sentenced to 19 years to life today for the death of Lana Clarkson.

His lawyer said he was wrongfully convicted:

Attorney Doron Weinberg maintained that Spector was convicted wrongly. “The evidence did not establish Mr. Spector’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” the lawyer said.

The sentence included 15 years for second-degree murder, with a four year enhancement for gun possession. He showed no emotion during the sentencing.

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Phil Spector Convicted of Murder

Update: Phil Spector has been convicted of second degree murder . The Judge refused bail pending sentencing. He faces at least 15 years in prison. More here -- and on the rise and fall of Phil Spector here. You can watch the jury verdict here.

As the Guardian puts it, at 68, Spector is likely to die in prison.

Our prior coverage of the trial is here. [More...]

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Phil Spector Jury Resumes Deliberations

Update: Judge has canceled deliberations for remainder of the week due to a juror's illness.

After a few court holidays and a juror's illness, the Phil Spector jury is back to deliberating his fate. This time around, they have the choice of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, which carries up to four years in prison.

LA Weekly reporter Steven Mikulan has been writing really good articles on the case. His latest, Accidental Suicide? New Involuntary-Manslaughter Option in Phil Spector Murder Retrial, goes through the closing arguments in detail.

One of the two prosecutors is orginally from Vietnam. In her closing, she said: [More...]

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After Six Months, Jury Deliberates Phil Spector Case

The jury is out in the Phil Spector murder trial. Six months of testimony, three days of closing arguments, with the prosecutor, as always, getting the last word (they get the last word because they have the burden of proof.)

This time around, the jury has the option of involuntary manslaughter as a lesser included offense, which carries up to four years.

The prosecutor apparently borrowed some Martha Moxley-style graphic tricks in his closing today, blowing up the photos of Lana Clarkson and five other women who claimed Spector waved a gun around them when drunk. He saved Clarkson's picture for last and yelled "Pow" when it appeared, simulating a gun going off. [More...]

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Phil Spector : The Judge's Unorthodox Instructions

Update: No verdict today, the jury will resume deliberations Monday.

*******

Here's how to blow a five month trial out of a judge's desire to avoid a deadlocked jury: Let the jury deliberate a week and then change the jury instructions to add new ways the jury can find the defendant guilty. Then, suggest to the jury they change their method of deliberations.

It's hard not to be shocked by what the Judge in the Phil Spector trial did today. He went from this instruction:

...in order to convict Spector of second-degree murder the jury had to find that "the defendant must have committed an act that caused the death of Lana Clarkson." It went on to specify the act was pointing a gun at her, which resulted in the gun entering her mouth while in Spector's hand.

to this one:

Fidler told the panel that to prove Spector guilty, "the people must prove that ... the defendant committed an act with a firearm that caused the death of Lana Clarkson, such as placing a gun in her mouth or forcing her to place the gun in her mouth at which time it discharged, pointing the gun at or against her head at which time it entered her mouth and discharged, pointing the gun at her to prevent her from leaving the house, causing a struggle which resulted in the gun entering her mouth and discharging.

More...

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Phil Spector: Judge to Change Jury Instructions

I can't understand the Judge in the Phil Spector case. Yes, if you're a prosecutor or a judge, it's a drag to try a case for five months and get a hung jury. But when the jury is deadlocked, you don't get a do-over on the charges or the instructions just to force a verdict. That's a recipe for reversal, in my opinion.

Yesterday, the Judge said he was contemplating allowing the jury to consider a lesser charge to solve the impasse. At least a good night's sleep cured him of that.

But today, while deciding against allowing the jury to consider a lesser charge, he decided to modify a critical jury instruction by striking a central statement from it. To make up for any prejudice, he said he'll allow the attorneys to present additional closing arguments.

As the LA Times characterizes it, he "threw the prosecutors a life preserver."

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Phil Spector Jury Says Its Deadlocked

The Judge sent the Phil Spector jury home today after it advised the judge it was deadlocked, 7 to 5. (Background here.)

The Judge is hearing arguments this afternoon as to what to do. I think he should declare a mistrial. One thing he shouldn't do, as apparently he's contemplating, is give the jury a lesser charge to consider at this late date.

The parties agreed to only submit the murder charge. The Judge endorsed that decision.

Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler told attorneys Wednesday he pondered whether there could be "lesser included offenses," which might allow the jury to consider voluntary or involuntary manslaughter rather than murder. "I don't see it," he concluded. Both the prosecution and defense agreed that the legal definitions of lesser crimes do not fit this case.

The parties relied on there only being a murder charge in composing and delivering their closing arguments. To allow the jury to consider a charge neither side had the opportunity to address and argue would be manifestly unfair in my view.

The Judge should declare a mistrial.

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Jury Deliberating in Phil Spector Murder Trial

Phil Spector's five month jury trial is coming to a close. The jury began deliberating the murder case yesterday. In the afternoon, they asked to see the gun.

It's been a rocky trial. One of his chief lawyers, New York's Bruce Cutler, missed weeks of the trial to do a tv show and then withdrew before closing arguments over differences in who should preent the closing.

Linda Kenney Baden, who is married to forensic expert Michael Baden, a witness in the trial, gave the closings. She, too, missed some weeks of the trial due to illness. The prosecutor criticized the Kenney-Baden relationship at trial:

More....

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Opening Arguments in Phil Spector Murder Trial

Opening arguments are underway in the Phil Spector murder trial.

The LA Times is providing updates from the courtroom, blog-style.

You can watch the trial live on the internet (for a fee) at Court TV's extra.

There are nine women and three women on the jury. Testimony begins tomorrow.

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