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L.A. judge allows TV cameras at Phil Spector trial

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A judge said on Friday that he would allow full television coverage of rock producer Phil Spector’s murder trial, despite an aversion to cameras in Los Angeles courts since O.J. Simpson’s controversial 1995 acquittal.

Music producer Phil Spector gestures in Los Angeles Superior Court during a preliminary hearing ahead of his murder trial in Los Angeles, in this October 27, 2005 file photo. A judge said on Friday that he would allow full television coverage of Spector's murder trial, despite an aversion to cameras in Los Angeles courts since O.J. Simpson's controversial 1995 acquittal. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler said it was time to put aside the “fear of cameras in the courtroom” in Los Angeles since the Simpson trial made an unwilling celebrity of his colleague and friend, Judge Lance Ito.

“They don’t want what happened to Judge Ito to happen to them,” Fidler said of Los Angeles judges. “In essence, what nobody wants is another Simpson ... In my mind, at some point we have to get past that trial.”

Fidler said he thought cameras could be a positive factor in the trial, which begins with jury selection on March 19, but warned that he would “pull the plug” if coverage was handled badly or if jurors were shown.

Spector, best known for his “Wall of Sound” recording technique and work with the Beatles, is charged with shooting Lana Clarkson to death in the foyer of his mock castle on February 3, 2003.

The 67-year-old music impresario, who is free on bail, could face life in prison if convicted of murdering Clarkson, the 40-year-old star of such B-movies as “Barbarian Queen” and “Amazon Women on the Moon.”

Spector told police that he met Clarkson while she working as a waitress at the House of Blues rock club on the Sunset Strip, and that she committed suicide at his home for reasons he did not understand.

Simpson, a former star athlete turned actor and TV pitchman, was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman in 1995 after the so-called “trial of the century.”

The sensational trial was covered around the world and broadcast live in the United States. The acquittal brought condemnation of the Los Angeles legal system and of Ito, who remains on the bench but has largely shunned the media.

Since then, Los Angeles judges have routinely rejected bids by the media to televise high-interest trials.

Simpson was found liable for the deaths by a civil court jury and ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages to the victims’ families, little of which has been recovered.

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