Judge To Determine If Phil Spector's Defense Team Must Turn Over Evidence

Unknown evidence at center of hearing in murder case on Thursday.

An Alhambra, California, judge will determine on February 17 if lawyers for accused murderer Phil Spector will be required to turn over evidence overlooked by police.

In a hearing Thursday, Deputy District Attorney Douglas Sortino asked Superior Court Judge Carlos A. Uranga to "compel the defense to disclose any item that they discovered at the crime scene," Sortino told MTV News Friday (January 23).

The prosecutor said Robert Shapiro, who is representing Spector, was contacted in September about an item of physical evidence the defense team's own investigators discovered within 48 hours of the February 3 shooting of actress Lana Clarkson (see "Producer Phil Spector Charged With Murder").

Shapiro was not available Friday but told reporters after the hearing he disagrees that there is an obligation under California law to turn over any such item if it was missed by authorities. "We're not saying we do or don't [have it]," he stated. Sortino said Friday he cannot comment on what the evidence is.

Both sides will file motions "on points of authority of what the law is," according to Sortino.

On Thursday, the judge ordered Shapiro to make sure the item in question is not destroyed or altered. "It is the state of the law if you do have a piece of evidence you have an obligation to turn it over to the people," he said, according to wire reports.

Shapiro told reporters if Uranga orders him to turn over the evidence, he will ask an appeals court to review the order.

Along with discussing the evidence issue Thursday, Uranga scheduled a preliminary hearing for within 10 days of March 16, Sortino said. The judge will decide at that hearing whether Spector must stand trial on murder charges.

The record producer is accused of shooting Clarkson in the foyer of his mansion. He remains free on $1 million bail and contends the death was a suicide (see "Phil Spector Says Slain Actress 'Kissed The Gun' Before Killing Herself").

Spector, dressed in black and wearing dark sunglasses and platform shoes, made only one comment Thursday, agreeing to the postponement of the preliminary hearing, which was supposed to take place in February.