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Spector Case Goes to D.A.'s Office

Detectives say he killed actress Lana Clarkson. Prosecutors will decide whether to charge him.

September 19, 2003|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

Detectives gave prosecutors their case in the shooting death of movie actress Lana Clarkson on Thursday, saying their investigation concluded that legendary rock producer Phil Spector fired the fatal shot.

"It's not an accident. It's not a suicide," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt. Frank Merriman said. "Phil Spector shot her."

Merriman wouldn't say what charges Spector would face stemming from the Feb. 3 fatal shooting of actress Clarkson, 40, in his Alhambra mansion. The decision now rests with the Los Angeles County district attorney's office.

"We turned over the case, Merriman said. "We had plenty of evidence for them."

Spector was arrested hours after Clarkson was shot, and then was released on $1-million bail.

Clarkson had been shot once in the face. Her body was found in the foyer of Spector's mansion. A handgun was found nearby. Alhambra police responding to the scene used a Taser-like device to subdue Spector before taking him into custody.

In an Esquire magazine article in June, Spector, who could not be reached for comment Thursday, described the shooting as a bizarre suicide. "She kissed the gun," Spector was quoted as saying. "I have no idea why -- never knew her, never even saw her before that."

Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said prosecutors received the case Thursday. She said a decision is not expected immediately.

The Los Angeles County coroner's ruling on the cause of death and other details have been sealed since shortly after the shooting.

Merriman said his office withdrew the request that the record remain sealed, effective Monday.

Delays in unspecified tests prevented detectives from completing the case sooner, Merriman said.

Spector had met Clarkson at the House of Blues, the Sunset Strip club where she worked as a hostess, earlier on the night she died. Employees saw her leave with him when her shift ended about 2:30 a.m.

They were driven in his chauffeured Mercedes-Benz to his Alhambra home.

About 5 a.m., officers responded to a 911 call from the chauffeur, who had heard gunfire inside the home, investigators said.

Spector reportedly insisted that he had no idea how she died.

The police "have the gun -- don't know where or how she got the gun. She asked me for a ride home. Then she wanted to see the castle," Spector said in the Esquire article. Contradicting House of Blues employees, he said that Clarkson was loud and drunk when he met her. Spector said that he had not been drinking.

Clarkson's family and friends have said the actress, known for a series of leading roles in B movies, was not suicidal.

Spector's fascination with firearms has been detailed by several of his associates.

Earlier this year, punk rock musician Johnny Ramone said Spector used guns to exert control over his band, the Ramones, in the 1980s. "We were prisoners at his house," Ramone said. "He wouldn't let us leave."

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