After being found guilty at his second trial for the February 2003 murder of actress Lana Clarkson, legendary producer Phil Spector was sentenced to 19 years to life in prison today by Judge Larry Fidler, the Los Angeles Times reports. The conviction carried a minimum 15 years-to-life sentence, plus an additional four years for criminal use of a firearm. The 69-year-old producer, who sat stone-faced and unblinking as the sentence was read, also won’t be eligible for parole until he’s 88. For Spector, the Clarkson family and the Los Angeles District Attorney Office, the sentencing marked the end of a legal drama that stretched six years and two trials.
In addition to the prison sentence, Spector was also ordered to pay the Clarkson family $17,000 to cover Lana’s funeral expenses, with Spector’s lawyer Doron Weinberg handing the check to Donna Clarkson, Lana’s mother. “All of our plans together are destroyed,” Donna Clarkson said in a statement on behalf of the family. “Now, I can only visit her at the cemetery.”
Spector was also denied a request for a new trial by Judge Fidler, though Weinberg told reporters after the sentencing that his client would once again file an appeal. Spector’s wife Rachelle, who often butted heads with Judge Fidler during the first murder trial, said of her husband after the sentencing, “Obviously, he’s not very happy. I’m going to stand by him and get him out of that awful place so he can come home where he belongs.”
After a hung jury and a mistrial marked the end of Spector’s first murder trial in September 2007, the second trial resulted in Spector being found guilty of second-degree murder in April 2009. Spector was immediately taken into custody as he awaited today’s sentencing. Spector, the mastermind behind the famed “Wall of Sound” recording technique heard on the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” was the producer for such classic albums as the Beatles’ Let It Be, John Lennon’s Imagine, George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass and the Ramones’ End of the Century, as well as countless chart-topping singles.
Spector, who also had a sordid history of threatening lovers and musical colleagues with firearms, took actress Lana Clarkson, who was working as a hostess at L.A.’s House of Blues, back to his home on the night of February 3rd, 2003. Clarkson was killed that night of a gunshot wound to the head, and while Spector supposedly told his chauffeur “I think I killed somebody” immediately after the shooting, the producer claimed his innocence while pleading not guilty to murder charges. Spector’s defense team argued that Clarkson was depressed about her struggling career and used Spector’s gun to kill herself. However, the prosecution found enough evidence to convince the jury that Spector was guilty of the murder of Clarkson.