Phil Spector and the Murder of Lana Clarkson

Phil Spector in a court room

Pool / Getty Images

On February 3, 2003, police went to Spector's Los Angeles mansion after receiving an emergency 9-1-1 call. As stated in the police reports, police found the body of the 40-year-old actress Lana Clarkson sitting slumped in a chair in the foyer. She had been shot in the mouth and a blue-steel .38 Colt revolver with a two-inch barrel was found on the floor near her body.

The Investigation

Clarkson was an actress and also working as a hostess in a VIP lounge at the House of Blues in West Hollywood on the night that she met 62-year-old Spector and left with him in his limousine.

His driver, Adriano De Souza, told the grand jury that he waited outside after the two went into Spector's mansion. Almost immediately after the two entered the home, Spector returned to the car and got a briefcase. About an hour later De Souza heard a gunshot, then observed Spector going out the back door with a gun in his hand. According to De Souza, Spector said to him, "I think I killed somebody."

Spector is Charged With Murder

After police arrived to the scene, a small struggle incurred when Spector was asked to show his hands, which were jammed inside his front pockets. He fought off police and was eventually subdued after police used a Taser stun gun on him then tackled him to the ground.

"I Didn't Mean to Shoot Her"

Inside the home, police found nine additional firearms and a blood trail throughout the house.

Transcripts of grand jury testimony in the case show that Spector first told police he accidentally shot actress Lana Clarkson, then later said she had committed suicide. When police officer Beatrice Rodriquez arrived at the scene, Spector told her, "I didn't mean to shoot her. It was an accident."

After an investigation lasting over six months, Spector was officially charged in November of 2003 for the murder of Lana Clarkson.

The Trial

Spector's attorneys tried unsuccessfully to have the damaging statements suppressed, but on October 28, 2005, the judge ruled the statements could be used against Spector in trial.

A retired police officer who had worked at times for Joan Rivers as a security guard, testified during the trial that he ejected Spector from two Christmas parties for brandishing a gun and making violent and threatening statements about women.

One Attorney, Two Attorneys, Three Attorneys

Spector hired and fired three attorneys. Defense attorney Robert Shapiro represented Spector at his arraignment and early pretrial hearings, and arranged for his release on $1 million bail. He was replaced by Leslie Abramson and Marcia Morrissey. Bruce Cutler, the former long-time lawyer of New York City mafia boss John Gotti, in turn, replaced them.

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Montaldo, Charles. "Phil Spector and the Murder of Lana Clarkson." ThoughtCo, Sep. 8, 2021, Montaldo, Charles. (2021, September 8). Phil Spector and the Murder of Lana Clarkson. Retrieved from Montaldo, Charles. "Phil Spector and the Murder of Lana Clarkson." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 5, 2023).