Phil Spector requests new trial

March 11, 2010 at 11:47 PM
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LOS ANGELES, March 11 (UPI) -- Record producer Phil Spector has asked a California appeals court to set aside his murder conviction and grant him a new trial, court records indicate.

Attorneys for Spector filed the request Wednesday with the 2nd District Court of Appeal, arguing the judge in Spector's trial made several errors, particularly in allowing testimony by five women who said Spector menaced them with firearms, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

Spector's lawyers argue the testimony amounted to impermissible character testimony.

Spector, 70, was convicted last year of second-degree murder in the shooting death of actress Lana Clarkson at his home near Los Angeles. He is serving a sentence of 19 years to life.

Judge Larry Paul Fidler instructed jurors they could regard the testimony as evidence that Clarkson's death did not result from a mistake, as the defense had argued, but not as evidence of a propensity toward violence on the part of Spector.

In the appeal for a news trial, defense lawyers assert Fidler should not have allowed prosecutors to use the word "pattern" 40 times in their summation.

"Asserting that a defendant has a 'pattern' of violent conduct is indistinguishable from arguing that he or she has a propensity or character trait for violence," the attorneys wrote.

The California attorney general's office is expected to respond next month to the request.

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