Stephen M. Silverman
November 20, 2003 11:25 AM

Legendary music producer Phil Spector has been charged with murdering B-movie actress Lana Clarkson at his suburban Los Angeles mansion last February, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Spector, clad entirely in black with his eyes shielded by blue sunglasses, arrived at an afternoon court hearing in a white stretch Hummer H2, accompanied by an entourage and his attorney, Robert Shapiro, formerly of O.J. Simpson’s “Dream Team,” reports Reuters.

Appearing nervous as he stood before the bench during the two-minute arraignment in Alhambra Superior Court, the producer, 63, replied, “Yes, your honor,” when Judge Carlos Yuranga asked if he understood the charges against him.

When asked if he wanted to plead not guilty to the single murder charge, Shapiro uttered a defiant “We do.”

Spector, 63, was allowed to remain free on bail, and ordered to return to court on Jan. 23 for a status conference.

The producer was arrested Feb. 3 after Clarkson, 41, was found shot to death in the foyer of his home, but he since had been free on $1 million bail.

Spector claimed that Clarkson committed suicide, after they had met earlier in the evening at Hollywood’s House of Blues. Prosecutors, however, are pointing the finger at Spector.

Clarkson, a tall, blonde actress, had starred in such movies as 1987’s “Amazon Women on the Moon” and 1985’s “Barbarian Queen.” In September, following an eight-month investigation, Los Angeles coroner’s officials ruled that the her death was a homicide.

Said Los Angeles County Coroner’s spokesman David Campbell: “The manner of death was homicide and the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head and neck. How the injury occurred was she was shot by another person.”

The announcement contradicted claims by Spector that Clarkson killed herself in his 33-room manse after “kissing” the gun, as he told Esquire magazine.

“I never knew her, I never even saw her before that night,” he said. “I have no idea who she was or what her agenda was.”

To date, there has been no evidence reported that any other person besides Clarkson and Spector was in the house at the time of the shooting.

Campbell said in September that coroner’s officials based their decision on an autopsy of Clarkson’s body, as well as an investigation by police.

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