Phil Spector Jury Deadlocked

Jury is split 7 to 5; judge decides against instructing jurors to consider lesser charge, plans to give them new instructions.

After seven days of deliberation, the jury in the Phil Spector murder trial is apparently at an impasse. According to the Los Angeles Times, the jury sent a note Tuesday morning to Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler saying that it is incapable of rendering a unanimous verdict.

The jury is said to be split 7 to 5 on the record producer’s fate, being unable to come to a decision on whether Spector murdered actress Lana Clarkson back in 2003 (see “Producer Phil Spector Charged With Murder” ). There is no indication regarding how many of the jurors favor conviction, and how many are leaning toward acquittal.

On Wednesday (September 19), Judge Fidler said he would not instruct the deadlocked jury to consider a reduced charge of manslaughter, which he was reportedly considering. “It would be inappropriate at this time to instruct a jury to a new offense,” he told lawyers after hearing arguments from both sides, according to Reuters.

The Times reported Tuesday that, in light of the stalemate, the defense called for a mistrial — a move Fidler swiftly rejected. Fidler then decided to send the jurors home. Before he discharged the jury, Fidler called them into his courtroom, and questioned the foreman, a civil engineer, who admitted the group was split 7 to 5; “I believe it comes down to individual jurors,” he told the judge. “At this time we don’t believe anything will change the positions of the jurors.” Fidler polled the jurors, and three cited questions about reasonable doubt.

But according to the Los Angeles Times, the judge informed jurors late Wednesday, before letting them go for the day, that “There’s some good news. We will give you new instructions that may be a benefit to you. It may help you or it may not.” The jurors are due to return to court Thursday.

Spector, if convicted, faces life behind bars for the shooting death of Clarkson, who was 40 at the time of her murder; Spector is accused of killing the actress February 3, 2003, just hours after the two had met the first time at West Hollywood, California’s House of Blues, where Clarkson was employed as a hostess.

The prosecution’s stance is that Spector killed Clarkson with a single gunshot through the mouth, but the defense has argued that the gunshot was self-inflicted, claiming Clarkson was depressed. Her body was discovered in the foyer of Spector’s Alhambra, California, mansion.

[This story was originally published on 9.18.07 at 5:34 p.m. ET.]