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Phil Spector Trial Nears End

Phil Spector in court on May 16, 2007
AP Photo
The nine men and three women sworn in to hear testimony in Phil Spector's murder trial have heard months of evidence about whether he shot and killed an actress in his foyer.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys were expected to spend Wednesday and Thursday arguing to jurors about what all the evidence means. Then it will finally be up to them.

Now it's just a question of what the opposing sides will say.

"I think we'll hear brilliance out of Alan Jackson, the prosecutor," CBS legal analyst Rikki Klieman told The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen. "He has great facts on his side. His story is going to be history repeats itself. They had not one, they had five women testify that Phil Spector had pointed guns at them when they wanted to leave. And that's going to be his major theme."

The defense, on the other hand, will argue that science proves Spector could not have shot actress Lana Clarkson and that it was a suicide, Klieman said.


Photos: The Spector Trial
Closing arguments were set to begin Wednesday morning, and Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler has said the case will be submitted to the jurors on Friday.

Klieman says the defense and the prosecution decided that here was no possibility of a manslaughter plea. The jury will only decide whether Spector is guilty or innocent of second degree murder -- "that it was all or nothing at all."

"And the judge looked at the evidence and he agreed," Klieman said. "So the only question, Julie, in the entire case is, who pulled the trigger?"

It's a risky strategy, said Klieman, and if she was defending Spector, she would want the lesser offense included so the jury could have the option.


Photos: Courting Phil Spector
"Now, I think that the prosecution believes all or nothing and all they're going to get that conviction and somebody on that defense team must think exactly the same thing," she said.

Spector, 67, is accused of second-degree murder in the death of Clarkson, 40, who was killed around 5 a.m. Feb. 3, 2003, by a bullet from a revolver that was fired inside her mouth.

Clarkson, who starred in the 1985 movie "The Barbarian Queen" had met Spector just hours earlier at her job as a House of Blues hostess and had gone home with him. For Spector, their meeting came at the end of a chauffeured night of eating and drinking on the town.

Clarkson's body, with a purse slung over one shoulder, was found slumped in a chair in a foyer of Spector's castle-like home in suburban Alhambra. The gun was on the floor below her legs.

The prosecution presented its case under the theory of "implied malice," which requires the taking of an extreme risk that could lead to death and a callous disregard for human life. There was no allegation of premeditation or intent.

Prosecutors called five women who testified they were threatened by a gun-wielding, drunken Spector in long-ago incidents when they tried to leave his home or presence.

A major prosecution witness was Spector's chauffeur, who testified he heard a "pow" sound as he waited outside the home, and that Spector then came outside with a gun in his hand and said, "I think I killed somebody."

The prosecution also sought to show that blood on Spector's coat got there because he was close enough to shoot her.

The defense also called experts who concluded that Clarkson, who was struggling in her acting career and had money problems, was depressed and shot herself in a rash, alcohol-fueled "spontaneous" decision.

The penalty for second-degree murder is 15 years to life in prison. A convict has to serve 85 percent of the base term before becoming eligible for a parole hearing.

Spector, who was famed for his "Wall of Sound" recording in the 1960s and '70s, became, said Klieman, "the director of this production" in terms of his defense. He got rid of famed New York attorney Bruce Cutler from his team.

"Phil Spector decided that Bruce Cutler did not really play well to a California jury," Klieman said. "The judge had gotten on his case during the opening and the early parts of testimony. And Phil Spector said, 'Look, Bruce is gone for a long time, Bruce was doing his own TV show, Bruce came back, he had been gone too long to do the closing argument,' according to Spector. Spector said no more. Bruce said, 'Well, you don't need me, you don't want me, I love you, Phillip, I'm on my way home.' "