What we had presumed would take a matter of hours—the handing down of a guilty verdict upon Phil Spector, after an endless parade of witnesses took to the stand to testify about his gun-toting and woman-hating rock n' roll-pioneer ways—is now dragging into its second week, the jury still deadlocked 7-5. To muddle matters further, Judge Larry Paul Fidler has revoked a highly technical instruction that rendered the hung tribunal (and us) thoroughly confused. The defense is now asking him to clarify what it is he meant when he said that Spector didn't need to be holding the gun to be found guilty of murder:
As jurors returned to deliberations in Phil Spector's murder trial Monday, the record producer's defense filed a motion asking the judge to give the panel more guidance to clarify controversial new instructions he issued last week to help break a deadlock.
After the jury reported the 7-5 impasse last week, the judge withdrew a so-called pinpoint instruction that several jurors indicated was giving them trouble.
That instruction said that in order to convict Spector the jury had to find that "the defendant must have committed an act that caused the death of Lana Clarkson," and it specified the act was pointing a gun at her, which resulted in the gun entering her mouth while in Spector's hand.
The judge decided that the instruction misstated the law by unduly limiting possibilities that the jury could consider. He gave a new instruction that included examples of inferences the jury could draw from the evidence, including the possibility that Spector forced Clarkson to place the gun in her own mouth and it went off.
Rendering the possibility that Spector talked Clarkson to death sufficient cause to convict should jostle the stalemated tribunal, who have since requested a VCR to examine unspecified evidence—possibly his limo driver's taped testimony. Should that still not sway the stubborn jurists, Fidler can always attempt to further reinterpret other previous instructions, explaining, "Remember when I said the defendant's unsuccessful attempt at getting inside the victim's pants and his penchant for showing up to court in funny wigs should have no bearing on your decision? Scrap that. The law in fact states that all that stuff is more than enough to convict."
- Spector defense seeks new instructions as jury deliberates [usatoday.com/AP]