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Opening statements set for Wed. in Spector trial
LOS ANGELES |
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Opening statements were set to begin on Wednesday in the murder trial of pioneering rock producer Phil Spector, who is accused of shooting a B-movie actress to death at his Los Angeles-area home.
A jury of nine men and three women was sworn in last week for the sensational case, which could last up to three months and is expected to draw worldwide media coverage.
Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler scheduled opening statements to begin on Wednesday after the last of six alternate jurors was chosen on Tuesday. The alternates would be called upon to weigh the evidence should any of the original 12 panelists be forced to step down.
Spector, 67, best known for his "wall of sound" recording technique, is charged with murdering Lana Clarkson at his home in the foothills outside Los Angeles on February 3, 2003.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers both say Clarkson, 40-year-old star of such films as "Amazon Women on the Moon" and "Barbarian Queen," met Spector the night before her death while working as a waitress at a Sunset Strip rock club.
There is no dispute that the actress was killed early the next morning by a single gunshot in the foyer of Spector's mansion, which was designed to resemble a castle.
But the two sides disagree on the fundamental question of who pulled the trigger. Prosecutors say it was Spector, who according to prosecution evidence presented at pretrial hearings owned a dozen guns and had pulled them on women in the past.
Defense lawyers say Clarkson put the gun in her mouth and shot herself. It was not clear whether the reclusive music producer with a penchant for odd hairstyles and wigs would take the witness stand.
Fidler has ruled that the trial can be broadcast live, making it the biggest celebrity case to be televised from Los Angeles since O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder charges in 1995 in a lengthy, racially charged trial that brought scorn to the city's legal system.
Fifty news organizations have asked for courthouse seats to cover the Spector trial.
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