Spector Trial Fails to Capture Public's Attention The jury in the Phil Spector murder trial is in its second day of deliberations. The music producer's trial never caught on with the public in the way previous celebrity trials have.
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Spector Trial Fails to Capture Public's Attention

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Spector Trial Fails to Capture Public's Attention

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Spector Trial Fails to Capture Public's Attention

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ROBERT SMITH, host:

This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Robert Smith.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

I'm Madeleine Brand.

What was billed as the celebrity trial of the year is winding down here in Los Angeles. Today is day two of jury deliberations in the trial of record producer Phil Spector. Spector is charged with the fatal shooting of actress Lana Clarkson back in 2003. Spector says she shot herself.

SMITH: Joining us now from the courthouse is Beth Karas, correspondent for Court TV and a former prosecutor.

Welcome to DAY TO DAY.

Ms. BETH KARAS (Correspondent, Court TV; Former Prosecutor): Thank you. Good to be here.

SMITH: Yesterday the judge had this heated exchange with Phil Spector's wife, sort of ending the trial in a dramatic note. He found out that she had sent e-mails to members of the press. And let's listen to a bit of this tape. He told her, in no uncertain terms, do not talk to the media.

Judge LARRY PAUL FIDLER (Superior Court, Los Angeles, California): If you do, you're in violation of my order, and you know what I do to people who violate my orders. I…

Ms. RACHELLE SHORT (Phil Spector's Wife): But I'm not a witness.

Judge FIDLER: Ma'am, I don't - I'm - you're in front of me. I'm making an order. You want to violate my order, go ahead and do so.

SMITH: That's not something you see every day, tangling with a judge.

Ms. KARAS: No. Indeed, this was a little different. I mean, to have the spouse of Phil Spector sitting in the public gallery, not even in the well, talking back to him - was not something that judges are accustomed to. And it did anger him. She sent him a note of apology, though, afterwards. And he accepted it and said these are stressful times for everyone.

SMITH: Well, this isn't the only issue they've had with the judge. This weekend, a news report came out that Phil Spector had said some unpleasant things about the judge. He denied that. But how did that play out?

Ms. KARAS: Well, he was quoted in a British paper as saying disparaging things about the judge - the judge not liking him. And he did deny that yesterday to another reporter in the hallway. The judge said he doesn't care how people feel about him. This was not published in the United States although it is getting reported in the U.S. The judge did tell Phil Spector that he is not to talk also, and not to have any surrogates speak for him.

SMITH: Now, despite this drama at the end and certainly the celebrity factor, this trial didn't really capture the public's attention, as people predicted it would, like other trials, like O.J. or Robert Blake. Why do you think people are more interested in this case?

Ms. KARAS: Well, I think it's because Phil Spector is a different type of celebrity. We don't have memories of Phil Spector like O.J. on a football field, in commercials, on television, in movies. Phil Spector, a big mover and shaker, a legend in the music industry, but not particularly well liked. There are certainly people out there who are friends, but he alienated a lot of people in his life including some of his own children - his three sons. They have been coming to the courthouse - two of them - who live in L.A. One hadn't spoken to his father in more than a decade.

So he has alienated people in his life, and I think that that - his character has sort of spilled over into the courtroom. What the jury knows about him isn't very likable, and perhaps the public has responded to that.

SMITH: Beth Karas, correspondent for Court TV. Thanks for joining us.

Ms. KARAS: My pleasure.

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