Spector Charged With Murdering Actress

Coverage of investigation into shooting death at the home of rock legend Phil Spector.

Rock music producer Phil Spector, accused of killing actress Lana Clarkson in his Alhambra mansion last year, has been indicted on a murder charge by the Los Angeles County Grand Jury.

The indictment, unsealed today, means that Spector will go straight to trial without a preliminary hearing. He pleaded not guilty, then blasted Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley for taking the case to the grand jury.

"This district attorney is pursuing a personal vendetta without evidence," Spector said outside the Los Angeles courtroom. "He secretly, as fascists would, went to a secret grand jury to seek and get an indictment."

Spector, 64, called for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to intervene and stop the "miscarriage of justice" and accused Cooley of tactics that are "reprehensible, unconscionable and despicable."

Defense attorney Bruce Cutler said he was frustrated that he would not have a chance to present the defense's case at a preliminary hearing, including testimony by forensics experts. A judge decides at a preliminary hearing if there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

Cutler said Clarkson was not murdered, but instead died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

"There was no crime," Cutler said. "Our mission is to make certain that we win this case here in this building and in the court of public opinion."

Clarkson, a 40-year-old actress and nightclub hostess, was found dead at Spector's home in Alhambra on Feb. 3, 2003. Clarkson had appeared in B-list movies such as "Barbarian Queen I" and "Amazon Women on the Moon."

Prosecutors charged Spector with the murder in November. Since then, Spector has twice switched attorneys and proclaimed his innocence. He faces a possible life sentence if convicted.

Prosecutors said they sought an indictment so the case would get to trial more quickly. The indictment, returned Sept. 20, also accuses Spector of personally using a handgun.

"It's been one year since he's been charged and we haven't even had a preliminary hearing yet," district attorney's spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said outside court. "We're not on the road to trial. It's time."

Spector, who is free on $1 million bail, is scheduled to return to court Dec. 16. Spector is best known for producing 1960s hits and for his layered "Wall of Sound" recording technique, a symphonic approach to pop music.