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Phil Spector's trial in slaying opens

Prosecutor: Accused has sinister side

LOS ANGELES - An actress shot to death at Phil Spector's hilltop castle was the last of several women victimized by the legendary music producer in a decades-long series of alcohol-fueled confrontations, a prosecutor told jurors yesterday as they began hearing the murder case.

Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson's opening statement made it clear the case against Spector in the death of Lana Clarkson will rely heavily on the testimony of other women dating to the 1970s.

Jackson outlined what he called a pattern of behavior in which Spector would become exceedingly drunk, take a woman to one of his residences, refuse to let her leave and then threaten her with a gun when she refused to stay. He said Spector is someone "who, when he's confronted with the right circumstances . . . with the right situations, turns sinister and deadly.

"The evidence is going to paint a picture of a man who on Feb. 3, 2003, put a loaded pistol in Lana Clarkson's mouth - inside her mouth - and shot her to death," Jackson told the nine-man, three-woman jury.

Jackson showed a photo of Clarkson slumped in a chair, her face covered with blood.

Spector listened glumly during the televised proceeding. His attorneys were to present their opening remarks later.

Spector, 67, whose "Wall of Sound" transformed rock 'n' roll in the 1960s, lives in a rambling castle-like mansion in suburban Alhambra. It was there that he took Clarkson, who wound up dead in the foyer.

Jackson told the jury that Spector had gone out on the town for an evening with female friends and had many drinks at a series of restaurants before arriving at the House of Blues, where he met Clarkson, 40, who was working in the club's elite Foundation Room.

She had a role in the Roger Corman 1980s cult film "Barbarian Queen."

Spector, wearing a taupe suit with a long coat and purple shirt, appeared particularly downcast when a 911 call from his chauffeur was played. It showed that the operator could not figure out who the person was who reportedly had killed someone, mispronouncing his name several times.

Jackson highlighted Spector's faded glory by noting that Clarkson had not recognized Spector, had tried to keep him out of the Foundation Room and may have thought initially that he was a woman.

"Phil Spector recited the mantra of the rich and famous: 'Do you know who I am? I'm Phil Spector,' " Jackson said. But it was not until a supervisor told Clarkson to "treat him like gold" that she knew he was a celebrity, he said.

Jackson presented video-surveillance footage from a House of Blues camera that showed Clarkson leaving with Spector.

"She was found dead two hours and 55 minutes later," he said.

A chauffeur who drove the pair to Spector's mansion has told of hearing a gunshot and seeing Spector emerge from the house holding a gun and declaring, "I think I killed somebody."

Spector later said he believed that the shooting had been an "accidental suicide" by Clarkson. *