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Deadlocked jury leads to a mistrial in Spector case

Phil Spector and his wife, Rachelle, left court in Los Angeles yesterday. The prosecutor's office says it will seek to retry him. Phil Spector and his wife, Rachelle, left court in Los Angeles yesterday. The prosecutor's office says it will seek to retry him. (Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press)

LOS ANGELES - A mistrial was declared yesterday in the murder case against Phil Spector when the jury reported that it was deadlocked 10-2 in favor of convicting the music producer of killing actress Lana Clarkson more than four years ago.

The prosecutor's office announced it would seek to retry Spector, and the family of the actress also pledged to press on.

"We will not rest until justice is done," said John C. Taylor, a lawyer for the family.

Spector and his wife, Rachelle, left the courthouse shortly after the mistrial. The producer's attorneys later met with the jury.

"We thank the people of Los Angeles for keeping an open mind and the jury for their very hard work and their willingness to share their thoughts with us," defense lawyer Linda Kenney-Baden said after the meeting.

The mistrial came after months of a trial in which jurors had to decide who pulled the trigger of a revolver - leaving no fingerprints - that went off in Clarkson's mouth early Feb. 3, 2003. The jury had met for about 44 hours over 12 days since getting the case Sept. 10.

A week ago, the jury foreman had reported a 7-5 split. After that, Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler withdrew a jury instruction that he decided misstated the law and issued a new one giving examples of what panelists could draw from the evidence, including the possibility that Spector forced Clarkson to place the gun in her own mouth.

Fidler polled the jury, and each member agreed that a unanimous decision was not possible.

Some jurors agreed to talk to reporters at the courthouse but did not give their names. The foreman would not say which way he voted; the other two said they voted for guilt.

One juror said that the holdouts argued over whether Clarkson was suicidal and that the entire jury would have liked to see a psychological profile of the actress. Another juror was troubled by what Spector, who did not call 911, did in the 40 minutes between the death and the time police arrived.

"He acted like a guilty man," the juror said.

The foreman pointed out that the "inability to reach a decision is controversial to most."

"Even on the jury there's deep regret that we were unable to reach a unanimous verdict," he said.

The mistrial also disappointed prosecutors.

"We will seek the court's permission to retry the case and begin immediately to prepare for a retrial," prosecutor Steve Cooley said in a statement. A hearing was set for Oct. 3.

Prosecutors had charged Spector under a second-degree murder theory that did not require premeditation or intent.

They called women from his past who asserted he threatened them with guns when they tried to leave his presence, and a chauffeur who testified that on the morning of the shooting Spector came out of his home with a gun in hand and said, "I think I killed somebody," while Clarkson's body sat slumped in a foyer chair behind him.

The defense countered with a scientific case, suggesting Spector did not fire the gun and offering forensic evidence that she killed herself - either intentionally or by accident. Gunshot residue on her hands, blood spatter on his coat, and the trajectory of the bullet were the subjects of weeks of testimony from experts.

Spector, 67, rose to fame in the 1960s with the "Wall of Sound" recording technique, which revolutionized pop music. Clarkson starred in the 1985 cult film "Barbarian Queen."

The defendant's wife, Rachelle Spector, 27, married Spector nearly a year ago and was with him every day of the trial.

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