Jurors in Spector Murder Trial Visit Murder Site

In Los Angeles, the murder trial of legendary music producer Phil Spector is winding down, more than four years after he was arrested in the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson. The jury went on a field trip to see Spector's mansion where Clarkson died.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Now let's go to Los Angeles next, where the murder trial of legendary music producer Phil Spector is winding down. It's been more than four years since he was arrested in the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson.

Yesterday the jury went on a field trip to see Spector's mansion, which is where Clarkson died.

NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports.

MANDALIT DEL BARCO: Wearing sweatpants, t-shirts, and sandals, Phil Spector and his wife Rachelle reportedly watched grimfaced as jurors paraded through part of his castle-like mansion in the L.A. suburb Alhambra.

Ms. LINDA DEUTSCH (Associated Press): They made it clear they would have liked a reenactment, but that was not to be.

DEL BARCO: Associated Press special correspondent Linda Deutsch was the only journalist allowed inside to observe as the jurors toured the exact location where Lana Clarkson was found dead of a bullet wound through the mouth.

Ms. DEUTSCH: Some of the jurors wanted to sit in the chair that was the duplicate of the chair in which Lana Clarkson died. They were sitting slumped in the chair with the arm over the side like hers was and their feet out in front of them.

DEL BARCO: Jurors also inspected the ornate foyer and living room, which featured gruesome blown-up photos of Clarkson's body. Spector is accused of murdering the actress after she went home with him for a drink the night they met at House of Blues nightclub.

(Soundbite of song, "The Long and Winding Road")

Mr. PAUL McCARTNEY (Musician): (Singing) The long and winding road...

DEL BARCO: Those words could have been prophetic for Phil Spector. The legendary musical guru worked with everyone from The Beatles to The Ramones, The Righteous Brothers, and 1960s girl groups like the Shangri-Las.

(Soundbite of music)

DEL BARCO: In the studio, Spector created a renowned layered recording technique dubbed the Wall of Sound. Later the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer walled himself off as a recluse with a bizarre reputation for wielding guns. During the murder trial, prosecutor Alan Jackson introduced four different women who testified that Spector held each of them at gunpoint at his home.

Mr. ALAN JACKSON (Prosecutor): Before Lana Clarkson came Stephanie Jennings.

Ms. STEPHANIE JENNINGS (Witness): He had his gun with him and he pulled a chair and put it in front of the door and said that I wasn't going anywhere.

Mr. JACKSON: And before her, Dorothy Melvin.

Ms. DOROTHY MELVIN (Witness): He got up and he backhanded me with a pistol again and said, I told you to take your F-ing clothes off.

Mr. JACKSON: And before her, Melissa Grosvenor.

Ms. MELISSA GROSVENOR (Witness): He walked right up to me and held the gun right to my face, with just inches between my eyes, and said if you try to leave I'm going to kill you.

Mr. JACKSON: And before her, Dianne Halder.

Ms. DIANNE HOGDEN HALDER (Witness): I cared about him. He didn't have to do that, you know? He could have been romantic and then - but he did it by gunpoint. He wanted to rape me.

DEL BARCO: A fifth woman is set to testify against Spector. But from the beginning, his lawyer, Bruce Cutler, argued that Clarkson killed herself.

Mr. BRUCE CUTLER (Attorney): The evidence indicates to you that this was a self-inflicted gunshot wound, that at the time of the discharge of the weapon - of the gun - it was in her mouth, by her own hand. Not by Mr. Spector's.

DEL BARCO: Lana Clarkson's main acting role of note was in the B-movie "The Barbarian Queen," where she played a sword-wielding warrior.

(Soundbite of movie, "Barbarian Queen")

Mr. FRANK ZAGARINO (Actor) (As Argan): Where did you come from?

Ms. LANA CLARKSON (Actor): (As Amethea): Same place I came from.

DEL BARCO: During the trial, Spector's lawyer showed the jury a 20-minute audition video by Lana Clarkson.

(Soundbite of archived recording)

Unidentified Woman #1: A wop bop a loo bop a loop bam boom. (Unintelligible)

DEL BARCO: Clarkson is shown in blackface imitating Little Richard, and she does a few skits. Legal expert Laurie Levinson says it was an effort to show that the 40-year-old actress was desperate.

Professor LAURIE LEVINSON (Loyola University Law School: What the witnesses have said about her is essentially she was a loser, and she was not getting much of an acting career and her life had become a pathetic existence - pathetic enough that she was willing to go over to a stranger's house and kill herself.

DEL BARCO: Daniel Kreps has been blogging about the trial every day for rollingstone.com. He keeps note of Spector's demeanor.

Mr. DANIEL KREPS (RollingStone.com): He's gone through many different looks and styles. It started out with that weird mad scientist Afro look. And since then he's changed wigs about four or five times. His style of suits have changed. I think he whipped out his disco era suits out of his I'm sure his large closet.

DEL BARCO: The bizarre antics, the Hollywood B list names, the references to musical history, all have made for the kind of celebrity trial Los Angeles is known for, says Levinson.

Prof. LEVINSON: He's kind of a has-been. I mean it's sad to say. His music was great.

DEL BARCO: That's what Phil Spector no doubt would like to be remembered for - the music, not what's been happening in the Los Angeles courtroom. If the 67-year-old Spector is convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Mandalit Del Barco, NPR News.

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