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Spector jury can hear about statements

By Lisa Sweetingham
Court TV

LOS ANGELES, California -- Legendary music producer Phil Spector's alleged admission that he shot actress Lana Clarkson is fair game for prosecutors to use at his murder trial, a Los Angeles judge has ruled.

"I didn't mean to shoot her. It was an accident. I have an explanation for this," Spector allegedly told Alhambra police officer Beatrice Rodriguez on February 3, 2003, the night Clarkson was found shot in the head at Spector's mansion.

No other officers heard the alleged statement.

"It's only the bare recollection of a woman doing her job with all of this chaos and danger and violence around her," defense attorney Bruce Cutler said, trying to undermine the officer's version of events.

What Spector likely said, according to Cutler, was: "I didn't shoot her. It was an accident."

Spector, 65, claims Clarkson shot herself, and his attorney argued that the .38 caliber special that delivered the fatal bullet did not even belong to Spector, despite evidence of a dozen other weapons in his home.

Cutler fought to keep out all of Spector's comments on the night of Clarkson's death. Most of his remarks ? "I'm sorry there's a dead woman here," and "If you're going to arrest me, just tell me what happened" ? were innocuous.

Cutler, who formerly represented Mob boss John Gotti, claimed that on the night of Clarkson's death, police "crashed" through the producer's home like "storm troopers," attacked him, hog-tied him, Tasered him and "figuratively punched him around until he said something." Cutler claimed that the statements were inadmissible because the police did not read Spector his Miranda rights.

Deputy District Attorney Douglas Sortino said there was no evidence that police engaged in any misconduct, and noted that the Taser had absolutely no effect on the producer, who refused to comply with demands to come out of the house with his hands visible.

The judge ruled all statements the producer made to authorities on the night of Clarkson's murder were admissible because they were voluntarily offered. Spector did not need a Miranda warning because he was never interrogated, Fidler said.

The judge also ruled that prosecutors could present evidence of additional weapons seized from Spector's home during a search warrant, but only if they contained ammunition that matched ammo found in the gun that killed Clarkson.

A seized 12-gauge shotgun was also allowed as evidence, because prosecutors intend to call a witness who claims Spector once assaulted her with a gun in his home and then chased her down his driveway with a pump-action shotgun. She is one of four witnesses the judge previously ruled may testify about the producer's alleged proclivity for pointing guns at women.

Prosecutors may not, however, delve into Spector's 1975 misdemeanor conviction for brandishing a weapon. Spector was initially charged in 1975 with felony assault with a deadly weapon for coming after a woman with a gun in his hotel room. According to prosecutors, he took a plea deal and the charge was knocked down to a misdemeanor.

Fidler set a trial date of January 30, but it may be changed to April 24, if Cutler is required to begin another trial in federal court in New York.

Spector had a subdued hairdo and a subdued expression on his face when he arrived in court Thursday. He wore a tan three-piece suit and knee-length jacket, a silver dragonfly brooch on his lapel, and black boots with three-inch heels.

A young, attractive brunette held Spector's arm in hers and appeared to be physically supporting the glassy-eyed, 130-pound producer as he entered the courtroom. Three oversized body guards kept watch from the gallery.

Spector first met Clarkson at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, where she was a hostess, and invited her back to his home in his limo. The limo driver later told police he heard a gunshot and saw his boss with a gun in his hand saying he had shot a woman "inside the castle."

"We deny in the clearest terms that he shot that lady, and it was Mr. Spector's gun," Cutler argued Thursday, pounding his fist. "We also deny in the clearest terms that Mr. Spector ever admitted that he shot that lady."

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