Abramson Takes On Spector's Defense

Times Staff Writer

Music producer Phil Spector, who is charged with murdering actress Lana Clarkson, has hired criminal defense attorney Leslie Abramson to represent him.

Abramson said Monday that she replaced Robert Shapiro on Thursday. She would not say why the switch was made.

Shapiro, who was on O.J. Simpson's defense team, could not be reached for comment.

Abramson said Spector's business manager contacted her in the middle of January. She said she met with Spector several times last month before being retained. "It was all his initiative," she said.

Abramson, 60, is best known for representing Erik Menendez, who was sentenced along with his brother, Lyle, to two consecutive life terms for the murders of their wealthy parents.

She said she was planning to retire in June, and wasn't eager to take the job as Spector's attorney. But the case piqued her interest. "It's a very weak case, no matter how you slice it," she said. "The physical evidence does not support a murder theory at all. I don't quite get it."

Spector also hired Marcia Morrissey, who worked with Abramson on the first Menendez trial and who later defended Cary Stayner, sentenced to death for murdering three Yosemite National Park tourists.

Spector is charged with killing Clarkson at his Alhambra mansion in February 2003. He has pleaded not guilty. In his only public comment since being arrested, Spector told a magazine that Clarkson shot herself.

Abramson said gun residue was found on Clarkson's hands, and the gun was not registered to Spector. In addition, Spector and Clarkson had just met the night of the shooting.

"There is no motive," she said. "There is no argument. There is no bad blood. There is no history."

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