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Opening arguments to begin in Phil Spector murder trial

Michelle Caruso
New York Daily News (MCT)

Phil Spector

LOS ANGELES - Seven of the 12 jurors who will decide rock mogul Phil Spector's fate on a murder rap say they followed celebrity cases that ended in "not guilty" verdicts, including those of O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake and Michael Jackson.

As the record producer's trial for the slaying of B-movie actress Lana Clarkson begins Wednesday, prosecutors want to break the streak of celebrity acquittals, while the defense hopes to ride the wave.

The jury of nine men and three women ranges in age from 32 to 60 and includes a "Dateline NBC" producer, a marketer for New Line Cinema, a civil engineer and several mechanics and county employees.

Opening statements are slated to begin at 9:30 a.m. PDT. The trial will be broadcast on Court TV. Spector, 66, has pleaded not guilty.

Judge Larry Paul Fidler is the first California jurist to allow a TV camera in a celebrity criminal trial since Judge Lance Ito, who presided at Simpson's circus-like 1995 double-murder case.

Fidler warned he'll pull the plug at the first sign of antics by media members, lawyers or the defendant. During jury selection, which began April 16, Spector appeared subdued and sometimes timid, sporting a bowl-cut-style blond wig with an air of boyish innocence.

But prosecutors Alan Jackson and Patrick Dixon contend Spector is a sadistic killer with a long history of threatening women with guns. They say he jammed a revolver in Clarkson's mouth and pulled the trigger when she tried to leave his Alhambra, Calif., mansion in the early morning hours of Feb. 3, 2003.

Spector's defense lawyers Bruce Cutler and Roger Rosen say the 41-year-old Clarkson, star of "Barbarian Queen," was a depressed, broke, pill-popping, washed-up actress who shot herself - either accidentally or as a way out of her dead-end life.

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