The murder trial of legendary record producer Phil Spector is getting underway as jury selection begins Monday in Los Angeles.
Spector, 66, is charged with killing actress Lana Clarkson on Feb. 3, 2003. According to grand jury transcripts released in January 2005, Spector told police he’d shot Clarkson accidentally, though he later suggested she’d taken her own life.
Clarkson, 40, was found dead of a single gunshot wound to the head in the foyer of Spector’s hilltop mansion in suburban L.A. The house was otherwise unoccupied, and a police search revealed Clarkson’s broken teeth scattered about the entrance area.
The coroner’s office called the shooting a homicide – “death by the hand of another” – but added that Clarkson had gunshot residue on both her hands and possibly pulled the trigger, the Associated Press reports.
Clarkson and Spector had met just hours before the shooting at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip, where Clarkson worked as a hostess.
Spector pleaded not guilty to murder charges and remains free on $1 million bail. He suggested in a 2003 interview with Esquire magazine that Clarkson may have shot herself.
In an e-mail to friends Spector called the death “an accidental suicide,” the AP reports. His attorney, Bruce Cutler, said his defense will be that Spector “didn’t shoot this woman. Everything in this case is consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
Jury selection is scheduled to last two days, with the jury expected to be in place by April 30 when opening statements are due to begin. The trial will be televised.
Spector is famed for creating the “wall of sound” in the 1960s, which revolutionized rock music. Clarkson was best known as the star of the cult film Barbarian Queen.