LOS ANGELES – The judge in record producer Phil Spector's murder trial decided Monday to let jurors hear from a celebrity security guard who says he heard Spector rant against women and declare they should all be shot in the head.
Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler had previously decided against allowing the testimony, but he said he reconsidered when the issue was raised again by the prosecution at the end of its case.
The judge said that although the comments may have been made as long ago as 1993, they were relevant to questions of Spector's state of mind toward women. He said he was struck by the specificity of Spector's comments about shooting women in the head.
Initially, Fidler said, he thought the testimony was inadmissible because the remark was made too long ago and did not address specifics of the Feb. 3, 2003, death of actress Lana Clarkson, who was killed by a bullet fired through her mouth while she was at Spector's home. But Fidler said he researched the law further and changed his mind.
"In this case, you have a woman who is shot in the head," Fidler said. "It is highly particularized."
The judge also said the testimony "tends to show the depth of Mr. Spector's anger."
Clarkson had been working as a nightclub hostess when she met Spector and agreed to go to his suburban mansion after work. Prosecutors claim Spector, 67, shot Clarkson in his foyer as she prepared to leave. Spector's defense claims Clarkson shot herself.
The ruling came after Vincent Tannazzo, a retired New York City police detective, testified without the jury present about providing security for two Christmas parties given by comedian Joan Rivers in Manhattan.
In both instances, a year apart, he said he wound up ejecting Spector from the parties. He said that in the first instance he brushed up against Spector and was able to tell that Spector had a handgun in his waistband, and when Spector made a move toward his pants he warned the producer that if he pulled the gun "I'd blow his brains out."
He quoted Spector as repeatedly uttering an obscene phrase referring to women.
Tannazzo said Spector said to him, "These (expletive). They all deserve a bullet in their head."
"It sheds a probative light on how he felt about Lana Clarkson. ... It shows a misogynistic state of mind, how he feels about women," Prosecutor Alan Jackson said.
Defense attorney Roger Rosen denounced the testimony as "character assassination" and said it should be excluded.
Spector rose to fame in the 1960s with a recording technique known as the "Wall of Sound." Clarkson, 40, was a struggling actress best known for her role in the 1985 film "Barbarian Queen."