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Archive for Friday, February 20, 2009

Second jury tours Spector’s home

February 20, 2009

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— The jury in record producer Phil Spector’s second murder trial toured his hilltop home Thursday and saw a piece of evidence the first jury did not see: the bloodstained chair in which actress Lana Clarkson died of a gunshot through the mouth six years ago.

The 12 jurors, plus six alternates, arrived at the home to find a courtyard fountain splashing just like it was when Spector brought Clarkson home with him in a chauffeured limousine. A duplicate limo was parked outside.

Jurors asked the judge if they could sit inside the car but were told no because it was not the original car.

Their tour was guided by enlarged photographs on easels that showed the scene of Clarkson’s death, with her body sprawled in the chair in the foyer. Spector’s first jury, which deadlocked 10-2 in favor of conviction, had only seen a replica of the chair. Members of the second jury were not allowed to sit in the chair this time.

Another difference was a pair of photos of Spector with Nancy Sinatra atop a credenza that allegedly contained the gun.

The jury’s one-hour tour was limited to the foyer, living room and a bathroom as Spector watched with his lawyers.

Afterward, jurors submitted nine questions to the judge concerning issues such as lighting of the interior and exterior of the house on the night of the death. Later in court, Judge Larry Paul Fidler provided some answers but said others, such as the wattage of bulbs in wall sconce lamps, were unknown.

The home in the suburb east of Los Angeles is known as the “Pyrenees Castle,” a compact 1926 estate with castle-like features and baronial decorations such as two suits of armor in the foyer, a coat of arms over the fireplace, crystal chandeliers and lamps, red carpeting and red velvet drapes.

Spector’s first trial ended in a mistrial in September 2007 after the deadlock. His retrial began in October.

Defense lawyers in both trials suggested a despondent Clarkson shot herself.

The splashing fountain had been an important element of the case. The prosecution tried to obtain an order for the fountain to be turned off during the jury tour, claiming the defense planned to turn it up to get a louder sound. But the defense established that the pump has only one speed and the sound of the fountain can’t be altered.

The defense claimed that Spector’s chauffeur may have been mistaken in his testimony that he saw the music producer emerge from the house and heard him say, “I think I killed somebody.”

They cited the noise of the fountain as well as the air conditioning in the car where the chauffeur had been sitting as sounds that might have obscured his ability to hear what Spector said.

Spector, 68, the eccentric music legend renowned for his “Wall of Sound” recording technique, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Clarkson, who became a 1980s cult figure through her starring role in the film “Barbarian Queen.”

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