Spector Gets 19 Years to Life in Clarkson Murder

Sentenced 15 years to life for the murder and four years for use of a gun.

Last Updated: May 31, 2009 @ 1:07 PM

Music producer Phil Spector was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison on Friday for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson in his home in 2003.

 

A Los Angeles judge sentenced the music producer to 15 years to life for second-degree murder and four years for personal use of a gun. He is also ordering restitution payments: $16,811 in funeral expenses, $9,740 to a state victims’ restitution fund and other fees.

Spector, 69, was found guilty in April of second-degree murder by a jury in Los Angeles Superior Court after a trial that began in October. It was Spector’s second in the death of Clarkson — the first jury deadlocked 10-2, favoring conviction, in September 2007. Spector also was found guilty of using a firearm in the commission of a crime.

The sentence means Spector must spend at least 19 years behind bars before he is up for parole. If he isn’t paroled, he’ll remain in jail for the rest of his life.

 

Spector looked straight forward and showed little emotion as the sentence was declared, according to reports. His wife, Rachelle Spector, also attended the sentencing.

 

"This is a sad day for everybody involved," she said. "The Clarkson family has lost a daughter and a sister. I’ve lost my husband, my best friend. I feel that a grave injustice has been done and from this day forward I’m going to dedicate myself to proving my husband’s innocence."

 

Spector was led away immediately following sentencing. Though his attorney requested he be transferred from county jail to a state prison immediately, it was unclear at which prison Spector would resign.

 

Clarkson’s mother, Donna, made a statement before sentencing which spoke of her daughter’s sense of humor and love of acting. 

 

"I’m very proud of Lana, proud to be her mother," Donna Clarkson said. "No one should suffer the loss of a child."

 

Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson said the outcome sent a message to those who believe celebrities are not subject to the law.

 

"If you commit crimes against our citizens, we will follow you and prosecute you," he said. "And no matter whether you are famous or wealthy, you will stand trial."

 

Jackson added that he found "nothing tragic" about Spector, and believes that everything the record producer did was "intentional."

Spector’s defense team has said it will appeal the conviction, but his lawyer has not yet filed a motion requesting that Judge Larry Paul Filder set aside the verdict and grant a new trial.

 

"Mr. Spector did not kill Lana Clarkson," Spector’s attorney Doron Weinberg said Friday, "and we hope by the time we are through we will be able to prove that."

During the trial, Weinberg argued that Clarkson, an actress and hostess at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip, shot herself while Spector watched helplessly in his Alhambra mansion. He maintained the actress was despondent over her dead-end career and financial difficutlies.

The details of Clarkson’s death have remained cloudy throughout both trials. Known for the 1985 B-movie “Barbarian Queen" and small parts in “Scarface” and “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” among others, Clarkson met Spector at the House of Blues and was found dead of a gunshot wound in the foyer of his home that night.

Spector was best known for his trademark “Wall of Sound” in the ’60s and ’70s that defined the Ronettes, Ike and Tina Turner and the Righteous Brothers, among others. He later worked with John Lennon, Leonard Cohen and the Ramones, and was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

Stories of Spector and his obsession with guns are well-known in the music industry. According to the 2004 biography “Wall of Pain,” Spector kept a gun in his recording studio, fired a shot at Lennon and pressed a pistol barrel to Cohen’s neck.