Some 19 months and three defense attorneys after actress Lana Clarkson was found dead in his California mansion, fabled rock producer Phil Spector was indicted for her murder on Monday. According to wire service reports, the grand jury indictment supersedes the previous murder charge lodged against Spector and bypasses the need for preliminary hearings to weigh evidence against him. The 64-year-old Spector, who remains free on $1 million bail, could stand trial as soon as Dec. 16. The producer of records for pop legends from the Beatles to the Ramones, he faces a possible sentence of life without parole.
Outside the courthouse, Spector blasted the Los Angeles prosecutors. ''The actions of the Hitler-like D.A. and his storm-trooper henchmen are reprehensible, unconscionable and despicable,'' Spector told reporters. ''They have conspired to deny me my California constitutional right to a preliminary hearing.'' Actually, as Spector's attorney Bruce Cutler acknowledged to reporters, the prosecution's tactic is legal, though Cutler said he didn't think it was ethical. ''We know it's legal, but we thought it was wrong to do it, unconstitutional to do it, un-American to do it,'' said Cutler, best known as the defense attorney for the late John Gotti. ''We wanted the people to see there was no case.'' Cutler reiterated Spector's contention, leveled last year in an interview with Esquire magazine, that the 40-year-old Barbarian Queen star shot herself in his foyer on Feb. 3, 2003. ''What Mr. Spector said, and what we've always said, is that the forensic experts have indicated to everyone that all the evidence is consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.''
District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons told the Associated Press that the purpose of the indictment was to avoid any further delays in bringing the case to trial. ''It's been almost two years since Ms. Clarkson was killed in Mr. Spector's home and it's time for a trial,'' she said. ''We believe there is a crime. We charged a crime. And that crime is murder. Nothing is politically motivated in this case.''