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Spector Judge to Withdraw Instruction

  Legal Business  -   POSTED: 2007/09/20 15:12

The deadlocked jury in the Phil Spector murder trial was asked to resume its deliberations after the judge yesterday said he would withdraw a legal instruction that jurors said was a stumbling block in reaching a verdict. The decision to drop the instruction came yesterday afternoon. Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler had earlier decided not to allow the jurors to consider a lesser charge.

"There's some good news," Fidler told the jurors before letting them go for the day. "We will give you new instructions that may be a benefit to you." Jurors will return this morning.

On Tuesday, the jury of nine men and three women said it was split 7-5 on whether famed record producer Spector, 67, shot actress Lana Clarkson, 40, on Feb. 3, 2003. The jury was not allowed to say whether the majority supported guilt or acquittal.

When Fidler polled the jurors yesterday morning, they indicated they had questions about Special Instruction 3. They also said they had discussions about how to determine reasonable doubt.

Special Instruction 3 lays out the prosecution theory of the encounter between Spector and Clarkson on Feb. 3.

"It is the prosecution's contention that the act committed by the defendant that caused the death of Ms. Clarkson was to point a gun at her, which resulted in that gun entering Ms. Clarkson's mouth while in Mr. Spector's hand," Fidler told the jurors Sept. 10 before sending them off to deliberate.

"The prosecution bears the burden of proving that defendant Spector committed that act. If you do not find that the prosecution has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the act, you must return a verdict of not guilty," Fidler said.

The problem with the instruction, Fidler said yesterday, was that the last sentence misstated the law. "I can see why the jury is confused," he said.

The judge said he would give both sides a chance to reargue before the jury resumes deliberations.


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