As someone who survived the non-stop, all-encompassing coverage of the OJ Simpson trial from almost Ground Zero (in Orange County), I’m shocked, shocked! to discover that a Los Angeles jury can convict a celebrity of murder. It helps when the celebrity in question isn’t a beloved NFL star-cum-pitchman-cum-comic foil, or a former child star turned gritty small-screen TV detective, but is a notorious strange-o like Phil Spector. Still, it took two tries to convict him:
Rock music producer Phil Spector was convicted Monday of second-degree murder in the shooting death of a film actress at his mansion six years ago.
A Superior Court jury returned the verdict after about 30 hours of deliberations. The jury had the option of choosing involuntary manslaughter, but did not do so.
The panel also found Spector guilty of using a firearm in committing a crime.
Spector exhibited no reaction to the verdict. His attorney argued that he should remain free on bail pending the May 29 sentencing, but Judge Larry Paul Fidler remanded him to jail immediately.
I’ve followed the case intermittently since the first jury hung. I’m not going to recap all of the evidence and testimony that put Spector alone with Clarkson before the shots rang out. Suffice it to say that any jury outside of LA would have convicted him the first time, especially given his penchant for threatening to do to other women what he eventually did to Clarkson.
How notorious was Spector? The Russ Meyer flick Beyond the Valley of the Dolls featured a character who was a record producer who goes insane and shoots a bunch of people in the end. Decades ago, everyone knew Corman used Spector as a template. Unfortunately, Corman wound up predicting the future, if not the final body count.
Anyway, kudos to this jury for seeing past the celebrity and paying attention to the evidence. Too bad LA couldn’t find juries like this over the past 14 years.
Update: Russ Meyer, not Roger Corman. Sorry about that! And yes, that Roger Ebert wrote it.