Lawyers for producer Phil Spector have appealed his 2009 murder conviction, claiming he didn’t receive a fair trial. Last May, Spector, now 70 years old, was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison for shooting actress Lana Clarkson at his California mansion in 2003. Citing judicial error and prosecutorial misconduct, his legal team requested the conviction be overturned and he be given a new trial, the AP reports.
In papers filed Wednesday, the attorneys claimed prosecutors improperly used testimony from five women who claimed that Spector threatened them with guns in the past. The accounts, they wrote, “became the heart of the state’s case” and were used to persuade jury members to convict Spector “based on his bad character and evil propensities.” His lawyers said their testimonies had nothing to do with Clarkson’s death and that none of their stories “involved events in which Mr. Spector put a gun in someone’s mouth, much less fired it.”
Spector’s lawyers criticized the actions of Judge Larry Paul Fidler, citing that he allowed prosecutors to use the word “pattern” more than 40 times in describing Spector’s history with women and guns. They also decried the judge’s decision to allow jurors in the second trial to see a taped hearing from the first trial that was conducted outside the presence of Spector. On the tape, the judge was seen interpreting a forensic witness’s testimony about the position of the blood spatter on Clarkson’s body. “Under California law, a judge may not offer evidence in a trial over which he presides,” the appeal states, adding that the judge could not be cross-examined by the defense on what the prosecutors said was the most important fact of the case — whether the blood spatter showed who pulled the trigger.
The state attorney general’s office is expected to file a reply brief next month.