The Day the Hollywood Murderer's Luck Ran Out
It took a little over six years and two trials for justice to be served for the murder of Lana Clarkson. By now, the story is Hollywood legend: Clarkson was a struggling actress ("Not a B-actress. An actress" one friend would later testify) whose biggest success came playing the title character in Roger Corman's 1985 shlock effort Barbarian Queen, but who found herself working less and less as she progressed through her 30s. She had turned 40 just a month before making a fatal error, and taking Phil Spector up on an offer to accompany him to his Alhambra mansion after a hostessing shift at the West Hollywood House of Blues.
The jury took 27 hours to come to their decision -- the last had deadlocked 10-to-2 -- and it was that Ms. Clarkson did not, in a moment of despondency over her lack of career prospects, choose to shoot herself in the foyer of a strange man's strange home far, far away from the bustle of the Sunset Strip. (Alhambra is an L.A. suburb better known for its Chinese restaurants than hilltop chateaus. Spector once said, "I've bought myself a beautiful and enchanting castle in a hick town where there is no place to go that you shouldn't.")
Instead they sided with the prosecution's interpretation of the ghoulish events of that evening. He was drunk. He came on to her. She resisted. He produced a gun, put it in her mouth, and pulled the trigger. He then frantically tried to clean up the crime scene before stumbling outside and telling his driver, "I think I just killed someone."
The verdict was guilty on two counts: second-degree murder, plus the lesser charge of using a firearm in the commission of a crime. Taken together, Spector is looking at anywhere between 18 to 25 years to life. Presiding Judge Larry Paul Fidler instantly remanded him, whereupon the cold-eyed, Phil-in-the-headlights booking photo above was taken, the prisoner's wig shockingly devolumized with defeat.
First O.J.'s conviction, now Spector's -- suddenly, it's like all the great, free-moving murderers are being taken away from us. Just leave us Blake, will you? He's the last surviving icon of the Golden Era of Celebrity Justice.
· Phil Spector Found Guilty of Killing Actress [NY Times]