Music Icon Convicted of Murder


Phil Spector Kills His Wife 

Phil Spector was a music icon and considered a genius in his day.  He developed the “Wall of Sound” concept of layering instruments.  Spector’s production called for large ensembles with multiple instruments doubling or tripling many of the parts to create a fuller, richer sound.  He felt the concept could carry a mediocre song and make it sound great.  It worked, he produced a series of big hits during his career. 

Spector worked with some great musicians through the 1960’s and 70’s, including the Beatles and Tina Turner.  But Spector seemed to have a problem being in public.  For months and years at a time he would disappear from view, living as a recluse.  This became much worse after a 1974 car accident that almost killed him.  He was eventually diagnosed as bi-polar and was heavily medicated for a large part of his life. 

By 2003, Spector was almost a total recluse, rarely leaving his home that he shared with his wife, Lana Clarkson.  On February 3, 2003, police were called to Spector’s Alhambra, California home.  Lana Clarkson was dead with a gunshot wound to her mouth.  Spector stated that the death was an “accidental suicide” and that she “kissed the gun”.  But he had made conflicting statements to staff and friends.  Detectives found that the gun was cleaned off and placed under Lana’s leg.  Blood was everywhere including on Spector himself and even in his pants pocket.  Spector had been seen holding the gun shortly after the shooting.  He had a history of drinking and pointing guns at people.  The evidence pointed to a homicide.

Detectives and prosecutors had a tough case on their hands.  There were no direct witnesses and it is always hard to make a case like that.  Clarkson had her own set of problems including heavy drinking, Vicodin use and depression.  Spector was arrested and charged with 2nd Degree Murder.

The first trial ended in a hung jury with two of the twelve jurors electing not to convict.  The prosecutors felt they had enough and elected to proceed to a second trial.  On April 13, 2009, Spector was found guilty of 2nd Degree Murder.  He was sentenced to 19 years to life imprisonment.  He did not survive the sentence, dying of a litany of ailments including COVID on January 16, 2021.   

Christopher Flanagan


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