Spector jury says it can't agree

The Baltimore Sun

LOS ANGELES -- The jury in the Phil Spector murder trial believes it is unable to reach a verdict, Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler announced yesterday.

The jury, whose deliberations are in the seventh day, sent a note to the court saying it appeared to be hung, or unable to decide, on the issue of whether Spector killed actress Lana Clarkson on Feb. 3, 2003.

Wearing a gray striped suit and a red tie, Spector sat at the defense table where he has been a fixture for more than five months. He appeared stunned, his hands shaking as they have so many times before in the trial.

The defense asked for a mistrial, but Fidler rejected that move. He said he would send the jury home to return today.

"It is possible I may give you further instructions tomorrow," Fidler told the nine men and three women on the panel. He warned the jury that he might ask the lawyers to reargue a part of the instructions.

"Just set the case aside for the rest of the day," he said and then dismissed them.

Fidler also set tomorrow for legal arguments on whether to consider a lesser charge. The defense and prosecution both rejected any lesser charge, and Fidler concurred.

When Fidler brought the jury back he questioned the foreman, Juror 10, a civil engineer.

The foreman said the jury was split 7-5 but wasn't allowed to say what the position of the majority was.

"I believe it comes down to individual jurors," the foreman said. "At this time we don't believe anything will change the positions of the jurors."

Fidler then polled the jury. At least three jurors indicated that something more might be done to force a verdict. They cited questions about reasonable doubt.

At least one juror asked for a clarification of the instructions, but another juror said he believed a verdict would be a long shot.

The 12 jurors have deliberated more than 28 hours over seven days.

Spector is charged with shooting Clarkson, 40, hours after they met for the first time at the House of Blues in West Hollywood, where she was working as a hostess in the VIP area. If convicted, Spector, 67, could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Michael Muskal writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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