Judge: No Smoking Gun in Spector Statement

Part of Phil Spector's deposition testimony in a civil court battle with his former attorney will be released to prosecutors in his murder case, even though it contains no "smoking gun," a judge ruled Friday.

The record producer's lawyers argued that his dispute with attorney Robert Shapiro over a $1 million fee is irrelevant to the killing of actress Lana Clarkson. They said the deposition's release to the news media could prejudice potential jurors.

But Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson maintained that he is entitled to see the deposition testimony because it might contain an admission by the defendant.

Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler said "there is not ... a smoking gun" in Spector's deposition but that it contains material that may be admissible at the trial.

The judge said half the deposition contains information about the facts of the case as well as about Spector's degree of sobriety on Feb. 3, 2003, when Clarkson was shot to death at the producer's Alhambra mansion.

The other half, he said, contains financial data. The judge did not immediately decide how much of that would be released to prosecutors or made public.

Shapiro, who was one of O.J. Simpson's lawyers, represented Spector at his arraignment and early pretrial hearings, and arranged for his release on bail. When Spector fired him and hired two other lawyers, Shapiro refused to return his $1 million retainer.

Spector, who claims Shapiro didn't earn the fee, filed a civil suit.

The judge said the murder trial could begin at the end of April or beginning of May.