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Spector murder trial: Judge declares mistrial

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Editor's Note: As part of CNN.com's new Crime section, we are archiving some of the most interesting content from CourtTVNews.com. This story was first published in 2007.

(Court TV) -- A judge declared a mistrial Wednesday after jurors in Phil Spector's trial said they could not reach a unanimous decision as to whether the death of an actress was murder or suicide.

The panel deadlocked 10 to 2 in favor of conviction after 12 days of deliberations that jurors described as often heated and ultimately doomed by doubts raised by the defense concerning forensic evidence and the mental history of the dead woman, Lana Clarkson.

"Some thought there was enough background to say yes, possibly she did kill herself," an electrician who voted to convict Spector said at a press conference.

Prosecutors said they will try again to convict Spector of a second-degree murder charge.

"We are disappointed that the jury was unable to reach a verdict in this case and we will begin immediately to prepare for the retrial," a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said.

A status conference on the retrial is set for next Wednesday.

Spector would have been the first celebrity in recent memory convicted of murder by the prosecutor's office, which suffered high-profile defeats with the acquittals of O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake.

Spector, looking frail and much older than his 67 years, remained stoic as Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler polled jurors about the possibility of further deliberation leading to a verdict. As each panelist replied "no," Spector wore a blank expression.

Following the deadlock, he returned to the suburban mansion where the 2003 shooting occurred. He was accompanied by two bodyguards and his 26-year-old wife, Rachelle. Spector, who revolutionized pop music with albums for Tina Turner, The Beatles and The Crystals, is free on $1 million bail.

The judge told both sides that a gag order barring the Spectors, Clarkson's family and witnesses in the case from commenting would remain in effect.

Clarkson's mother, Donna, and sister, Fawn, looked shaken as the judge dismissed the jury. Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson leaned into the front row of the spectators' gallery and told Donna Clarkson, "I'm so sorry."

A lawyer for the family said the Clarksons, who have filed a civil suit against Spector and have attended the trial daily, were prepared to sit through a second trial.

"We will not rest until justice is done," attorney John Taylor said.

The foreman of the jury, who spoke to the press with two other panelists, said jurors felt a sense of "deep regret" that five months of testimony and 44 hours of deliberations had not resulted in a verdict.

"I don't think any jury has worked harder than the jury on this trial," the foreman, a civil engineer who lives near Spector's mansion, said.

His two colleagues said they had voted to convict, but the foreman refused to say how he had cast his vote. One of his colleagues, Ricardo Enriquez, told CourtTV Thursday the foreman was one of the two jurors who voted not guilty.

Asked Wednesday if Spector's celebrity had factored into their deliberations, Enriquez, a facilities manager, said no, but then added, "I think it bought him some experts," referring to the raft of forensic witnesses who testified for the defense.

Enriquez said he dismissed those experts, who included well-known pathologists Dr. Michael Baden, Dr. Werner Spitz and Dr. Vincent DiMaio, as hired guns "with books to sell."

He said he found Baden's testimony "suspicious" because his wife, defense attorney Linda Kenney-Baden, was representing Spector.

But, he said, other jurors felt the defense raised reasonable doubt with the expert's testimony that the death scene was inconsistent with murder.

"A lot of jurors expected to see more blood," Enriquez said.

The defense has said Spector's white dinner jacket would have been drenched in blood had he been standing within 3 feet of Clarkson at the time of the shot.

The jurors said that deliberations were often testy, with panelists debating how to interpret the many pieces of evidence presented at trial. They said they clashed over whether Spector's chauffeur understood English well enough to be sure that his boss said after the shooting, "I think I killed somebody."

"Most of us believed he said what he thought he heard," the foreman said. Jurors repeatedly watched a video interview in which the defense said the chauffeur had hesitated about what he heard.

"Some gave it a lot of weight. Some didn't," the foreman said.

Jurors also said there was emotional disagreement over the portrayal of Clarkson, 40. Spector's defense painted her as driven to deep depression by her difficulties as an aging actress in Hollywood. Prosecutors complained that the defense had "murdered" Clarkson again in court.

According to Enriquez, one of his colleagues criticized Clarkson for going home with Spector, saying, "A man will go only as far as a woman will let him."

"I found that so insulting," the juror said. "Was she a whore? Does she deserve to die for that?"

The jurors said they made some progress on reaching a verdict after an initial deadlock Sept. 18, when the vote was 7 to 5 in favor of guilt.

Asked if he felt the court's time was wasted, the foreman said no.

"When there's a doubt and the jury cannot find a unanimous decision, does that mean they wasted their time?" he asked. Answering his own question, he continued, "No. Those are the principles this country is founded on." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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