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Court hears appeal in Phil Spector murder case

This booking photo shows Phil Spector after his arrest.

April 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Two years after being convicted of murder, a lawyer for Phil Spector asked an appeals court Tuesday in downtown Los Angeles to overturn that conviction.

The legendary music producer was sentenced in April 2009 to 19 years to life in prison for the death of actress Lana Clarkson. Spector maintains Clarkson shot herself inside his Alhambra mansion back in 2003.

Attorneys representing the California Attorney General's Office and Spector appeared before a three-justice panel from California's 2nd District Court of Appeal.

His lawyers asked the judge to throw out their client's second-degree murder conviction and grant a new trial on grounds of judicial error and prosecutorial misconduct. They contend that jurors should not have heard about five women who claimed that they were involved in gun-related incidents with Spector years before Clarkson's shooting.

In their response to the defense's filing, lawyers from the Attorney General's Office countered that "appellant's prior assaults with a firearm were distinctive enough to the incident in this case to be highly relevant to the issues of motive, and lack of accident, mistake and suicide..."

Another point that Spector's attorney, Dennis Reardon, argued was a statement the judge made.

Reardon said Judge Larry Fidler swayed the jury with a statement about where blood spatter evidence was found. The prosecution repeated that statement to jury using the judge's picture in closing arguments.

"The issue here was who fired the gun," Reardon said. "There was never any other incidence in which Mr. Spector fired a gun."

"It kind of brings it all up again. It's sad very sad for everyone," said Donna Clarkson, Lana Clarkson's mother.

City News Service contributed to this report.