Yes, after a week went by, I knew. I grit my teeth; I cursed. I bayed at the moon. But I knew. And today, we found out for sure. The jury in the Phil Spector murder trial is at an impasse:
Jurors deadlocked in Phil Spector murder trial
LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Jurors in the murder trial of legendary music producer Phil Spector said Tuesday they were deadlocked, raising the possibility of a mistrial after a five-month-long court-room battle.
In a dramatic development at a packed Los Angeles Superior Court, jurors mulling murder charges against Spector said that after four ballots they were split 7-5, with no prospect of a breakthrough.
"At this time we don't believe that anything else will change the positions of the jurors based on the facts of the case," the jury foreman told Judge Larry Paul Fidler on the seventh day of deliberations.
Fidler later dismissed the jury for the day. They will return on Wednesday at 10:00 am after three members of the nine-man three-woman panel requested further instructions.
One woman juror said she wanted clarification on the difference between "doubt" and "reasonable doubt," although Fidler said later he doubted further instruction would help.
In a surprise development, Fidler said jurors may be asked to consider convicting Spector on involuntary manslaughter charges. He had earlier ruled that jurors would only be able to consider a second degree murder charge.
Fidler also dismissed a defense motion for the case to be declared a mistrial.
Spector, 67, who pioneered the "Wall of Sound" recording technique during the 1960s and is regarded as one of the most influential figures in rock-pop music history, is accused of gunning down B-movie actress Lana Clarkson at his castle-like home in February 2003.
Prosecutors allege that the reclusive Spector shot Clarkson in the head as she attempted to leave his home after meeting him for the first time only a few hours before in the Hollywood nightclub where she worked.
District attorney Alan Jackson said during the trial Spector had a "rich history of violence" against women, often flying into drunken, gun-toting rages whenever they tried to leave his company.
No fewer than five women acquaintances of Spector testified that the genius behind 1960s hits such as "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" threatened them with guns in incidents dating back to the 1970s.
Spector's former chauffeur also provided damaging evidence, telling jurors that on the night of the shooting his employer had emerged from a doorway clutching a pistol in a bloodied hand to say: "I think I killed somebody."
Defense lawyers argued however that Clarkson, famous for her role in Roger Corman's 1985 cult classic "The Barbarian Queen" but whose career had stalled at the time of her death, killed herself.
Kim at The Darwin Exception asks:
Yes, I suppose so, but I am nonetheless sick over it.
Well, we were kind of expecting this at this point, weren’t we?
The judge says that he has been reviewing case law, and despite both sides agreement that this is an all or nothing case, he has found case law to support the fact that the judge has a sua sponte responsibility to instruct on manslaughter. He gives the attorneys the specific case cite “People Vs. Lee” 20 Cal 4th 47,and says that if the attorneys can’t convince him that he doesn’t have this sua sponte responsibility, then he will re-open arguments and instruct the jury on this charge.
The Lee case is a case wherein a husband shot his wife, and forensic examination showed it was a contact wound to the head, but no one witnessed the shooting. This case held that brandishing the weapon was an included and lesser offense, and that the judge had a sua sponte responsibility to instruct on the lesser.
The judge says that he wants both sides to look at this case and argue to him why or why not the judge should have a responsibility to re-open the case for argument wherein each side will argue the manslaughter charge to the jury. Voluntary manslaughter is “in the heat of the moment” or “in the heat of passion:” - that doesn’t fit this case at all. Involuntary manslaughter is killing without intent or malice - which, while both sides agreed that this didn’t apply, the judge is now reconsidering. Involuntary Manslaughter in California carries anywhere from a 3 -6 year sentence, and then there is the gun enhancement in this case, which would be additional time.
And then we get to the heart of so many jury problems these days:
[Juror] #9 says that it would be nice to know the difference between reasonable doubt and just doubt.
I am tempted to say: it is the difference between being an idiot, or not.
Is it really true, then, that in America, justice can be bought? Or at least postponed.