LOS ANGELES – An aspiring actress who had told lawyers in the Phil Spector murder case she considered him guilty was dismissed from the prospective jury panel Wednesday after she said she couldn't change her mind.
The young woman was one of five prospects removed through challenges for cause by both the prosecution and defense during a private conference at the judge's bench.
It was not known if any challenges were denied. Those dismissed included a native of Hong Kong who said she could not grasp the American system of justice, two women who had language difficulties and a man who said he could not forget the gunshot suicide of his nephew, which might influence him.
Five more prospects were immediately chosen and placed in the jury box for questioning.
Spector, the music producer famous for the "Wall of Sound" recording technique of the 1960s, is accused of murdering sometime actress Lana Clarkson in 2003. She was shot in the foyer of Spector's home after leaving with him from her job as a hostess at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip.
Among those who remained on the prospective jury panel after the first round of cuts was a city prosecutor who was questioned by the judge on whether she could really be fair; she said she could.
Also in the box were a TV producer and a woman who said she equated the Spector case with the O.J. Simpson murder trial and felt Simpson was guilty even though he was acquitted. She said she could put that opinion aside.
Another woman who remained had been questioned by Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson about the influence of TV shows such as the "CSI" dramas, "Forensic Files" and other programs based on scientific criminal investigations.
The woman said she knew the TV dramas were not realistic in showing how cases are solved.
"They look at a bullet and know exactly what gun it came from," she said, adding she knew that is not the way it is done.
"Are you going to hold us to that standard?" the prosecutor asked.
"No," the woman said.
"You're not going to expect some high drama where people will walk in with a fancy machine and solve everything?" he asked.
The panelist said she would not.
The influence of forensic sleuthing TV dramas on real juries has been a concern for the legal system. CBS' popular "CSI" franchise includes three programs: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "CSI: Miami" and "CSI: NY." "Forensic Files" is a Court TV program.
After the new prospects were seated, Spector attorney Bruce Cutler conducted a rhetorical session in which he expounded on the difference between talented people and those who only have celebrity status, and tried to convey that Spector came from modest means and was not always a wealthy man.
"Nobody handed Phillip anything in life," Cutler declared before he was cut off by a prosecution objection that was sustained by Judge Larry Paul Fidler.
At one point Cutler asked, "You don't have anything against him because he made an impact on the world with his music, do you?"
Before anyone answered there was another sustained objection.
Cutler also told panelists that cases such as those of O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake and Michael Jackson were unrelated to Spector's case and asked if they agreed.
They said yes.
"Phillip is accused of killing a stranger, you see the difference? It's a completely different case," Cutler said.
The prospects nodded.
"I don't want to retry the 1995 Simpson verdict," Cutler said. "Phillip has nothing to do with it."
"This case is special. Do you agree?" Cutler asked one prospect.
"Yes," said the man.
But there was no explanation of what made it special.
At one point Cutler raised his voice and seemed to yell at the jury pool. A few minutes later he apologized for being so loud and asked if the five new prospects would forgive him.
Four said they would and one answered, "No."
The courtroom burst into laughter.