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Death at Spector Home a Homicide

Coroner rules that actress Lana Clarkson died of a gunshot wound to the head and neck, and that she was shot by another.

September 23, 2003|Andrew Blankstein | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles County coroner's office has determined that the death of a woman at record producer Phil Spector's mansion in Alhambra was a homicide, a spokesman said Monday.

Lana Clarkson died of a gunshot wound to the head and neck, and she was shot by another, the coroner said.

The decision about any charges Spector could face rests with the district attorney's office. Spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said the case is under review.

Details of the coroner's report remained sealed at the request of prosecutors.

The report and police search warrants were sealed shortly after the shooting.

Sheriff's detectives gave prosecutors the results of their investigation last week. It concluded that Spector fired the fatal shot Feb. 3.

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

Sheriff Lee Baca said last week during a television interview that Spector committed either manslaughter or second-degree murder.

The body of Clarkson, a 40-year-old actress, was found in the foyer of the mansion.

Spector was arrested hours later and was released on $1-million bail.

He described the shooting to Esquire magazine as a suicide. "She kissed the gun," Spector was quoted as saying in the June issue.

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

Spector's attorney, Robert Shapiro, could not be reached for comment.

Also Monday, a Superior Court judge rejected a request by freelance journalist Carlton Smith that the search warrants in the case be unsealed.

Judge Michael E. Pastor met briefly in chambers with Deputy Dist. Atty. Pat Dixon and announced in open court that unsealing the warrants could result in the "substantial probability of irreparable damage" to the ongoing investigation.

Pastor scheduled a new hearing on the issue for Oct. 22.

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Times staff writer Anna Gorman contributed to this report.

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