Opening statements in record producer Phil Spector’s murder trial began Wednesday, more than four years after actress Lana Clarkson was killed by a gunshot wound to the head inside his hilltop Los Angeles-area mansion.
Prosecutor Alan Jackson’s introductory remarks detailed the stories of five women who claimed they had been threatened in the past by Spector, who, Jackson said, was often under the influence of alcohol.
Jackson called the legendary music producer someone “who, when he’s confronted with the right circumstances, when he’s confronted with the right situations, turns sinister and deadly,” the Associated Press reports.
“The evidence is going to paint a picture of a man who on February 3, 2003, put a loaded pistol in Lana Clarkson’s mouth – inside her mouth – and shot her to death,” Jackson said.
Throughout the remarks, Spector, wearing a beige suit and a purple shirt open at the collar, sat blank-faced, staring straight ahead and sometimes holding his face in his palms.
Spector had arrived in the courtroom shortly after 10 a.m., reports Court TV, which is covering the trial live. According to commentator Jack Ford, the Spector case, presided over by Judge Larry Fielder, is being held in the same courtroom where Judge Lance Ito heard the O.J. Simpson double-murder trial in 1995.
In this case, prosecutors allege that Spector, 67, shot Clarkson, 40, in the foyer of his Alhambra home during the early morning hours of Feb. 3, 2003. (He was arrested that day and freed on $1 million bail.)
Spector, who has pleaded not guilty, has claimed that Clarkson committed suicide. If convicted of second-degree murder, he could face 15 years to life in prison.
Clarkson, a B-movie actress who starred in 1985’s Barbarian Queen, was working as a hostess at the L.A. House of Blues and had met Spector there only hours before going home with him.
The chauffeur who drove the couple to Spector’s rambling, castle-like home told police he heard a gunshot at about 5 a.m., then saw Spector come outside with a gun in his hand and say, “I think I just shot her.”
In November 2003, authorities charged Spector with murder. Attorneys Bruce Cutler, whose past clients have included Mob boss John Gotti, and Roger Rosen are representing him.
Prosecutors Jackson and Patrick Dixon are proceeding on a theory of “implied malice,” contending that Spector has an extensive history of threatening women with guns and, although he did not intend to kill Clarkson, caused her death by reckless behavior and taking an extreme risk, reports say.
The jury of nine men and three women includes a producer for Dateline NBC, a marketer for New Line Cinema, a civil engineer and several mechanics, the New York Daily News reports.