September 28, 2004
LOS ANGELES - Moments after he was indicted on murder charges in the 2003 death of a B-movie actress at his Alhambra mansion, music producer Phil Spector called prosecutors "reprehensible, unconscionable and despicable."
Spector, 64, railed at prosecutors after the indictment charging him with killing Lana Clarkson was read Monday in court. Outside, Spector compared District Attorney Steve Cooley to Adolf Hitler.
"The actions of the Hitler-like DA and his storm trooper henchmen are reprehensible, unconscionable and despicable," said Spector, who remains free on $1 million bail.
The charges were returned by a grand jury whose indictment superseded a murder case previously filed by prosecutors in November 2003, seven months after Spector's arrest.
A grand jury indictment would preclude the need for a preliminary hearing, in which prosecutors would have to present enough evidence to hold Spector for trial.
Spector's case had been scheduled for a Dec. 16 preliminary hearing, now canceled. Spector said his attorneys would have called to the witness stand three of the foremost forensic scientists and coroners in the world and each would have testified at that hearing that Clarkson, 40, shot herself.
Defense attorney Bruce Cutler also complained there was no preliminary hearing.
District attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said that was done in part to avoid any further delay in bringing Spector to trial for the Feb. 3, 2003, shooting.
"It's been almost two years since Ms. Clarkson was killed in Mr. Spector's home and it's time for a trial," she said. "We believe there is a crime. We charged a crime. And that crime is murder. Nothing is politically motivated in this case."
Clarkson, who was best known as the star of Roger Corman's cult film classic "Barbarian Queen," was working as a hostess at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip when she went home with Spector on the night she died.
Judge David S. Wesley set Dec. 16 as the earliest possible trial date.
Spector, who did not speak in court except to say, "Yes, your honor," waived his right to a speedy trial.
The judge also agreed to keep the trial in Los Angeles rather than move it to Pasadena, which is closer to Spector's home. Attorneys for both sides expressed concern about the crush of news media representatives expected to attend, and the courtrooms in Los Angeles are bigger.
Spector is famed for creating rock music's "Wall of Sound" recording technique in the 1960s that has influenced the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen and many others.