Spector Jurors Can Consider Lesser Offense

The judge in Phil Spector's murder retrial said Friday he will allow jurors to consider the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter in the 2003 shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson at the record producer's Alhambra mansion.

That option was not given to the first jury to hear the case against Spector, which deadlocked 10-2 in September 2007, with the majority voting in favor of convicting him of murder.

At a brief hearing, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler said he believes he is "mandated under the law" to give jurors the option.

Spector's attorney, Doron Weinberg, countered, "I think it's an absolutely erroneous ruling ... All it does is confuse the jury."

The defense attorney said he believed it would be an "invitation to compromise."

During Spector's first trial, the judge considered giving jurors the option of manslaughter after the panel indicated it was at an impasse on the murder charge. But a day later, Fidler decided against it after hearing arguments from the attorneys.

Jurors are due back at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse on Monday, when attorneys are scheduled to begin giving their closing arguments.

Spector, 69, is charged in the Feb. 3, 2003, shooting death of the 40-year-old actress, whom he had met just hours earlier at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. She had recently begun working as a VIP hostess at the nightclub.

Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson told jurors at the start of the trial last October that Spector was in a "fit of rage" when Clarkson tried to leave his home and that the producer "put a bullet in her head."

Spector's attorney countered that the physical evidence would show the gunshot wound was "self-inflicted."

Spector, renowned in music circles for the "Wall of Sound" technique he invented in the 1960s and used in his work with the Beatles and other groups, is free on $1 million bail posted shortly after his arrest.

Clarkson, who was best known for her starring role in the 1985 Roger Corman cult hit "Barbarian Queen," had bit parts on dozens of television shows and in a few well-known movies, such as 1982's "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

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