Lana Clarkson’s Family Waited Six Years Before Phil Spector Was Convicted of Her Murder
This month marks the 15-year anniversary of the moment Phil Spector went from producing legend to murderer, though it took over half a decade before he was convicted of killing actress Lana Clarkson. At the time, Phil was a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer known for his work with such recording acts as John Lennon, the Righteous Brothers, and the Ronettes. His victim never got to be so famous: Lana had only attracted a cult following for her work in B-movies like Deathstalker and Barbarian Queen.
Their lives collided with fatal consequences on Feb. 3, 2003. Here's a timeline of what happened on that night and in the six years before justice was served.
Feb. 3, 2003: Phil meets Lana at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, CA, where she is a VIP hostess. Later that day, she is found dead in Phil's Pyrenees Castle mansion in Alhambra, CA, slumped in a chair with a gunshot wound to her mouth. Phil is booked and later released on $1 million bail. His driver, Adriana de Souza, later says he heard a gunshot before Phil came out of the house holding a gun and said, "I think I killed somebody."
March 11, 2003: Phil emails his friends to say the incident was an "accidental suicide," but sheriff's officials say otherwise, per CBS News.
June 4, 2003: "She kissed the gun," Phil tells Esquire. "I have no idea why."
Fifteen years ago this week, a shot rang out in famed music producer Phil Spector’s California mansion. Actress Lana Clarkson was dead, and thus began a six year legal process to convict a killer. Take a look back at the case in this week's #Dateline Crime Capsule. pic.twitter.com/mdUKCiM7T6
— Dateline NBC (@DatelineNBC) February 6, 2018
Sept. 22, 2003: A coroner determines Lana's death was a homicide.
Nov. 20, 2003: Phil is charged with murder. He pleads not guilty.
Feb. 2, 2004: Phil fires defense attorney Robert Shapiro — a lawyer who also represented O.J. Simpson — and replaces him with Leslie Abramson, who calls Phil "an idol, an icon, and the definition of cool."
Aug. 24, 2004: Phil's defense team resigns, and Phil hires lawyer Bruce Cutler, who requests more time to prepare for the trial.
Sep. 27, 2004: Phil is indicted on a murder charge. He protests against "the Hitler-like [district attorney] and his stormtrooper henchmen."
Feb. 3, 2005: Lana's mother files a wrongful death suit against Phil on the two-year anniversary of Lana's death.
April 23, 2005: A judge decrees that prosecutors can provide evidence of Phil pulling guns on women in the past. Later, at the trial, four women would testify to that effect.
Oct. 13, 2005: Phil's attorneys unsuccessfully try to expunge the incriminating statements Phil made on the night of Lana's murder, saying he was high on prescription drugs.
Jan. 16, 2007: Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler says it's time to commence the trial, and jury selection is scheduled for March 19.
Feb. 16, 2007: Judge Fidler decrees the trial can be televised.
April 25, 2007: The trial begins, with each side presenting opening statements.
Aug. 27, 2007: Bruce Cutler leaves the defense team, citing "a difference of opinion between Mr. Spector and me on strategy" but also occupied with his courtroom TV show Jury Duty. Linda Kenny Baden takes his place as the defense lead.
Sept. 7, 2007: Both sides finish their closing arguments, more than four months after the trial began.
Sept. 26, 2007: After conferring for 44 hours over 12 days, the jury announces it is deadlocked, with a 10-2 vote in favor of conviction. Judge Fidler declares a mistrial.
Oct. 3, 2007: Prosecutor Alan Jackson announces the prosecution's plan to retry Phil.
Oct. 29, 2008: Opening statements begin as the second murder trial commences, with Judge Fidler again presiding. This time, however, the trial is not televised.
March 23, 2009: Closing arguments begin, nearly six months after the start of the trial.
April 13, 2009: Phil is convicted of second-degree murder and using a firearm in the commission of a crime.
May 29, 2009: Phil is sentenced to 19 years to life in the California state prison system. His attorney's subsequent appeals prove unsuccessful, and Phil will be 88 before he is eligible for parole.
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