LOS ANGELES – Police who found a dead actress in Phil Spector's mansion "had murder on their mind" and did not consider other possible explanations for her death, a defense lawyer said.
Spector's murder trial began Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court with a prosecutor laying out his case against the man whose "Wall of Sound" transformed rock 'n' roll in the 1960s.
Spector's attorney, Bruce Cutler, later told jurors that authorities were intoxicated by the prospect of arresting a celebrity and said Spector may be the victim of his own success.
Watch streaming video of the Spector trial on FOXNews.com at 12:30 p.m. EDT.
"The evidence will show that back on Feb. 3 of '03, before they even had a cause of death, let alone a manner of death, they had murder on their mind," Cutler said. "Fame and success come back to haunt you."
Cutler, a New York attorney best known for his defense of mob boss John Gotti, spoke after Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson portrayed the legendary music producer as a victimizer of women.
"Lana Clarkson was the last of a long line of women victimized by Phillip Spector over the years," the prosecutor said.
Jackson described four women he said the jury will hear from, including a personal manager for Joan Rivers, a professional photographer of rock stars, a personal assistant who worked for Spector and a woman Spector dated.
The women were expected to begin testifying after Cutler and his co-counsel, Linda Kenney-Baden, conclude their opening statements Thursday.
Spector, 67, lives in a rambling castle-like mansion in suburban Alhambra. It was there that he took Clarkson, who wound up dead in the foyer with a gunshot through her mouth.
Jurors were shown graphic photographs of Clarkson sprawled on a chair, her hand on her shoulder and blood smeared on her face.
Cutler said Clarkson killed herself. "A self-inflicted gunshot wound can be accidental suicide, and that's what it was," he told jurors.
He also said the women who would testify that Spector threatened them with guns would be tellers of "tall tales."
"These were women who were drawn to him and came back to him after the incidents," he said. "The evidence will show they kept taking his money and spending his money."
Cutler attempted to tell jurors about Spector's music career but was told by the judge to stick to the facts. He mentioned Spector's association with John Lennon and George Harrison and said, "This is a man whose music changed the world."
Prosecutors are proceeding on a theory of "implied malice," alleging Spector did not intend to kill Clarkson but caused her death by reckless behavior and taking an extreme risk.
If convicted of second-degree murder, he could face 15 years to life in prison.