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A Noir Opening to Phil Spector Murder Trial

Spector arrives at Los Angeles Superior Court with his wife, Rachelle, and bodyguards.
Spector arrives at Los Angeles Superior Court with his wife, Rachelle, and bodyguards. (By Damian Dovarganes -- Associated Press)

Spector "never called for help," Jackson said. Instead, the prosecutor claims that Spector made "a pathetic attempt" to clean up the crime scene, discarding his bloody clothing, wiping off the gun, placing the weapon under the chair where Clarkson sat, dead and bloodied, her purse hanging from her shoulder. When police arrived, Spector refused to raise his hands, they said, so he was tasered -- twice -- and then pinned to the ground.

In a serious blow to the defense, prosecutors won permission from Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler to present four women who will testify that Spector has a history of pointing guns at his dates. As outlined by Jackson, with help from PowerPoint slides listing common elements of their stories printed in red:

· Dianne Ogden-Halder, a talent coordinator for the Grammy Awards, tries to leave Spector but he presses the barrel of a gun to her face, cheek, neck, forehead. He orders her upstairs onto his bed, where she lies next to him until they fall asleep.

· Melissa Grovesnor, a waitress: When she tries to leave, Spector erupts in anger, produces a gun, points it at her face and forces her to spend the night.

· Dorothy Melvin, the personal assistant for Joan Rivers, wakes up on Spector's couch and sees him outside pointing a pistol at her car. She confronts him and he slaps her. He points the gun at her. She begs to leave. As she is driving down the driveway, Spector follows her with a shotgun.

· Stephanie Jennings, a photographer, will testify she was held at gunpoint by Spector at the Carlyle Hotel in New York. She calls 911, police come and she leaves.

None of the women pressed charges. Some continued to see Spector socially after the alleged assaults, which occurred between 1988 and 1995.

Fidler ruled that the trial will be televised and said that it was time for jurists in Los Angeles to get over their fear that bringing cameras into the courtroom for a celebrity trial automatically turns the proceedings into a circus.

As part of his reasoning, Fidler suggested Spector's fame does not reach O.J. Simpson or Michael Jackson proportions, and that is true. Spector is one of the aging grandfathers of rock-and-roll. He is perhaps best known for his signature "Wall of Sound," the layering of multiple instruments -- not one drum kit but two, not one piano but three -- accompanied by orchestral musicians, complete with strings and sometimes choirs. You can hear his influence on the Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron" (1963), the Beatles' "Let It Be" (1970) and the Ramones' "Rock 'n' Roll High School" (1980).

He has been called a musical genius. "I would say I'm probably relatively insane, to an extent," Spector told a reporter for the Daily Telegraph a month before the death of Clarkson.

"I take medication for schizophrenia, but I wouldn't say I'm schizophrenic. But I have a bipolar personality, which is strange. I'm my own worst enemy. I have devils inside that fight me."


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