Possible threat against Spector judge probed
As the jury ends Day 11 of deliberations, sheriff's officials begin looking into a MySpace posting.The jury in the Phil Spector murder trial completed its 11th day of deliberations without a verdict today as the Sheriff's Department launched an investigation into what authorities said was an implied threat against the judge in the case.
A post on a MySpace page titled the Official Team Spector site stated, "The evil judge should die," possibly a threat against Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler, who has run the Spector trial for months.
The post was signed "Chelle," which is how some friends know Rachelle Spector, the wife of the famed record producer. Rachelle Spector several weeks ago clashed with Fidler, who issued a gag order to prevent her from giving television interviews. She later wrote a note of apology, which the judge accepted.
Defense attorney Christopher J. Plourd denied that Rachelle Spector was involved in the posting, which has been taken down.
"We are hoping we can find out who did it," Plourd told reporters. "Rachelle denies being connected to the quote, or knowledge of anything related to it. She took the judge's admonishment seriously about not talking to anybody. She's not going to disobey a court order."
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said it would investigate.
"This was an implied threat," spokesman Steve Whitmore said. "We take any threat against a judicial officer very seriously."
The dispute over the posting was the only visible movement in the Spector case as the jury worked behind closed doors to determine whether or not the famed music producer killed an actress more than four years ago. Last Tuesday, the jury reported that it was split 7 to 5; there was no indication which way the vote was leaning.
The jury of nine men and three woman began deliberations Sept. 10 but lost parts of three days while lawyers and Fidler argued over a new jury instruction to help break the deadlock.
So far, the panel has deliberated for more than 40 hours. The jurors will resume discussions Wednesday.
Spector is charged in the shooting death of Lana Clarkson, 40, on Feb. 3, 2003. They met for the first time hours earlier at the House of Blues, where Clarkson was working as a hostess in the VIP area.
If convicted of second-degree murder, Spector, 67, faces 15 years to life in prison.
On Monday, the jury asked for and was given a video player. It is unknown why jurors wanted it, but during the five-month trial videos were played of Adriano DeSouza, Spector's driver, being interviewed by sheriff's investigators.
DeSouza drove Spector and Clarkson to the music producer's Alhambra home, where Clarkson's body was found slumped in a chair in the foyer.
DeSouza testified that he saw Spector walk out of his home carrying a gun. "I think I killed somebody," DeSouza said he heard Spector say.
The defense argued that the Brazilian driver had problems understanding English and that noise from a nearby fountain could have hindered his understanding.
The defense maintains that Clarkson was despondent over her life and her flagging career and accidentally shot herself.