March 26, 2009 / 7:30 PM / in 10 years

Phil Spector jury starts deliberating murder charge

Music producer Phil Spector is pictured during the second day of closing arguments in his retrial murder case in Los Angeles, California March 25, 2009. REUTERS/Al Seib/Pool

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The fate of music producer Phil Spector was put in the hands of the jury on Thursday after a five month retrial on charges that he murdered a Hollywood actress in his Los Angeles home.

Spector, 69, denies murdering B-movie actress Lana Clarkson, 40, with a shot through the mouth on February 3 2003 after meeting her in a Hollywood bar only hours earlier.

His first trial ended in September 2007 with the jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of convicting him. This time, the jury has also been given the option of finding Spector guilty of the lesser offense of manslaughter, which experts say increase the chances of a conviction.

Under California law a decision to convict or acquit must be unanimous.

The pioneer of the 1960s “Wall of Sound” recording technique who worked with stars such as The Ronettes, Cher, The Beatles and Leonard Cohen, did not testify at either trial.

Prosecutors argued that the shooting of Clarkson was part of a pattern of gunplay and violence toward women displayed by Spector in the past.

Spector’s lawyers argued that Clarkson was depressed over her failing career and shot herself. They also highlighted forensic evidence and a lack of Spector’s DNA on the gun that they said exonerated him.

If convicted of murder, Spector could face up to life in prison. A manslaughter conviction would result in about 8 years behind bars. Spector has been free on $1 million bail since his arrest in 2003.

Editing by Dan Whitcomb

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