All-or-nothing was the new name of the game for the Phil Spector murder trial as the jury prepared for early September deliberations.
Judge Larry Paul Fidler announced August 29th he had approved the defense’s request for jurors to decide if the legendary record producer is guilty or not guilty of second-degree murder – no ifs, ands or buts. There is no option to find Spector guilty of lesser offenses such as voluntary or involuntary manslaughter, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The defense is resting its case on the theory that actress Lana Clarkson was not shot in the mouth by Spector on the 2003 night she came back to the producer’s mansion after ending her hostess shift at the House of Blues. They claim she committed suicide, having struggled with depression.
The prosecution didn’t have a problem with the judge’s ruling.
"We feel very strongly about the evidence in this case," DA spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said.
During the final day of testimony two days earlier, Spector lead attorney Bruce Cutler, who missed weeks of the trial to play a judge in the TV Show "Jury Duty," announced he was leaving the case because of "a difference of opinion between Mr. Spector and me on strategy."
Spector told reporters he decided Cutler "shouldn’t do the closing argument because it wouldn’t be in my best interest."
After Cutler left the trial, two of Clarkson’s friends were called back to the stand August 27th. Jennifer Hayes-Riedl and Backstage Café promoter Elizabeth "Punkin Pie" Laughlin repeated testimony that Clarkson was depressed and upset after Michael Bay snubbed her at a party. Bay previously testified he never saw her.
Attorney Dennis Riordan, who wrote the brief requesting the all-or-nothing verdict, was added to the defense team to replace Cutler, Phil Spector’s wife Rachelle announced late August 28th.
Closing arguments are set for September 5-6 and jury deliberations will begin the following day. If the jury finds him guilty, Spector faces a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.