By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated February 03, 2004 01:00 PM

Music producer Phil Spector, charged with fatally shooting actress Lana Clarkson at his suburban Los Angeles mansion a year ago, has hired high-profile criminal defense attorney Leslie Abramson, thereby ending his relationship with Robert Shapiro, Abramson tells the Associated Press.

Shapiro, most famous for helping successfully defend murder suspect O.J. Simpson, could not be reached for comment, though his office confirmed to AP that he was no longer handling the Spector case.

Abramson, 60, who became famous for her role in the trial of brothers Lyle and Erik Menendez (who had been charged with — and ultimately convicted of — killing their wealthy Beverly Hills parents), said she had been planning to retire when Spector contacted her.

“I was about to hang it up when I got the call,” she said. “No other defendant would get me to give up my freedom. No other defendant was someone I considered an idol, an icon and the definition of cool.”

Spector, 62, famous for creating the legendary “Wall of Sound,” which gave a symphonic feeling to ’50s rock, has worked with the Beatles, Ronettes and Righteous Brothers, among many other musicians.

He is charged with shooting Clarkson at his Alhambra, Calif., castle on Feb. 3, 2003, and remains free on $1 million bail. “I don’t see any evidence that he did it,” Abramson said.

Spector, who was charged with murder on Nov. 20, suggested earlier this year in an interview with Esquire magazine that Clarkson may have shot herself.