Skip to main content

Music legend Phil Spector expected to appeal murder conviction to high court

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court
updated 12:48 PM EST, Fri December 16, 2011
The California Supreme Court refused to hear Phil Spector's appeal.
The California Supreme Court refused to hear Phil Spector's appeal.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Spector is contesting his 2008 conviction in an actress' death
  • He faces a 19-years-to-life sentence on the second-degree murder conviction
  • He claims his rights were violated by comments made by the trial judge

Washington (CNN) -- Famed music producer Phil Spector is expected to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, contesting his 2008 murder conviction. Justice Anthony Kennedy had earlier allowed Spector's lawyers until week's end to formally challenge his conviction and 19-years-to-life sentence.

Phillip Harvey Spector, who turns 72 this month, was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of actress Lana Clarkson. She was found dead in 2003 of a gunshot wound in Spector's California mansion.

The justices will schedule a closed-door conference in coming weeks to decide whether to accept the case for review. Most such criminal appeals are routinely rejected by the justices, meaning the convictions stand.

The music legend claims his rights were violated when the trial judge made bench comments during expert testimony, but the California Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal. That prompted the petition to the high court.

Spector's first murder trial in 2007 ended in a mistrial as jurors said they couldn't reach a verdict after 15 days of deliberations. He was convicted in a second trial a year later. In the 2007 trial, Spector's attorneys argued that Clarkson was depressed over a recent breakup and grabbed a .38-caliber pistol to kill herself while at Spector's home.

But prosecution witnesses painted Spector as a gun-toting menace. Five women took the stand and testified that he had threatened them with firearms. His driver testified that he heard a loud noise and saw the producer leave the home, pistol in hand, saying, "I think I killed somebody."

Spector's professional trademark was the "Wall of Sound," the layering of instrumental tracks and percussion that underpinned a string of hits on his Philles label -- named for Spector and his business partner, Lester Sill -- in the early 1960s.

The U.S. Supreme Court case is Spector v. California (11A465).

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT