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Jury: Phil Spector guilty of murder

LOS ANGELES - Legendary music producer Phil Spector was convicted Monday of second degree murder in the fatal shooting of actress Lana Clarkson in his Alhambra mansion six years ago.

The verdict means Spector, famed his work with Tina Turner, the Beatles, the Righteous Brothers and others, faces 15 years for murder and at least three for gun enhancement when he is sentenced May 29.

After nine days of deliberations, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury concluded that Spector, 69, killed Clarkson, a statuesque 40-year-old blond actress, on Feb. 3, 2003, just hours after they met in the Sunset Strip club where she worked as a hostess.

As the court clerk read the verdict, Spector's wife, Rachelle, who is four decades younger than he, began weeping in the front row of the courtroom. Her husband, however, bore the same stoic expression he wore throughout much of the trial.

His lawyer asked the judge to allow Spector to remain free on bail until sentencing The prosecution objected to the request, saying Spector's long history of "drawing guns" on people made him a danger to others.

Judge Larry Paul Fidler rejected the request and ordered that Spector be taken into custody immediately.

"Public safety and public protection are paramount," Fidler said.

Spector, dressed in one of his trademark knee-length suits, spoke only once during the hearing -- a hoarse "Yes" in response to whether he agreed to the date of sentencing. He then shuffled out of the courtroom surrounded by half a dozen uniformed court officers. He looked briefly in the direction of his wife before the door closed behind him.

After the verdict, the jury forewoman broke into tears at a press conference as she described the "painful" process of convicting someone of murder.

"You are talking about another human being. We all had hearts. We all have people we love," said the forewoman, a paralegal who declined to give her name.

Over the course of the trial, which began in October, the prosecution portrayed Spector as a sadistic misogynist who had a three-decade "history of playing Russian roulette with the lives of women" when he was drunk. A prosecutor told jurors in her summation that "by the grace of God, five other women got the empty chamber and lived to tell. Lana just happened to be the sixth woman, who got the bullet."

Spector's defense contended that Clarkson died by her own hand. They said she was depressed over her flagging career and accompanying financial worries and that she may have committed suicide impulsively after hours of late-night drinking with Spector.

"In that moment, given all of the things that were wrong in her life . . . can you say she would not have been capable of committing a self-destructive act?" defense attorney Doron Weinberg asked jurors in his closing arguments.

The panel of six men and six women included three gun owners, seven people who reported knowing someone who committed suicide and one man who said he was a fan of Spector.

A 2007 trial ended when the jury deadlocked 10 to 2 in favor of conviction.

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