Phil Spector’s conviction In Los Angeles on April 13, 2009 of murdering actress Lana Clarkson is a reminder to assess facts objectively at the outset of litigation. If Spector had compared obvious facts to his own hubris, he might have pled guilty and received less than the 18-year minimum sentence he now faces.
Here are the circumstances Spector should have realistically considered:
1. He was 68, wealthy and famous; while Clarkson was 40 and neither of those things. In what mediators call a “power imbalance”, it is highly unlikely Clarkson would have gone home alone straight from work for the first time with a man that much older except for the attraction of his fortune and notoriety.
2. This was a first date; they had met hours earlier at the House of Blues, where Clarkson was working a waitress and Spector started a conversation.
3. According to trial testimony, Spector had for decades mixed alcohol with threats against women.
4. After Spector and Clarkson had been drinking for hours; Clarkson received a bullet from his gun.
5. Clarkson was shot in the mouth in the foyer of Spector’s mansion.
6. Women who commit suicide usually do not use guns; do not kill themselves in front of someone they are going out with for the first time; do not shoot themselves in the mouth; and do not choose to die in the entryway of someone else’s home. Suggesting that Clarkson was doing all these things – with no suicide note and in the presence of a virtual stranger – was inherently implausible.
7. Spector tried unsuccessfully to clean up the scene. People who are innocent spectators usually do not try to cover up evidence.
8. Spector’s driver quoted him as emerging from his home and saying “I think I killed somebody”. That does not sound like an outdoor fountain or the words “call somebody”, as the defense tried to suggest.
9. A previous trial ended in a hung jury, 10-2. Hello, Phil? Are you paying attention? You narrowly escaped in the first go-round. How could you reasonably believe you would “dodge the bullet” a second time?