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CNN PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Profiles of Phil Spector, Scott Peterson Murder Trial
Aired June 5, 2004 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, what appeared to be a perfect marriage becomes the plot for a national murder mystery.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT PETERSON, ACCUSED OF MURDERING WIFE: I had nothing do with Laci's disappearance.
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ANNOUNCER: A pregnant wife who was bright and vivacious.
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ANNE-MARIE O'NEILL, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: I guess you could call Laci an all-American girl.
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ANNOUNCER: The seemingly ideal husband accused of murdering her.
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ABBA IMANI, OWNER, PACIFIC CAFE: People really liked him. He was a very likable guy.
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ANNOUNCER: A storybook relationship that ended in a tabloid confession.
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AMBER FREY, HAD AFFAIR WITH SCOTT PETERSON: We did have a romantic relationship.
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ANNOUNCER: Beyond the hype and the headlines, the story behind the relationship of Scott and Laci Peterson.
Then, he is the legendary music producer who is now charged with murder. He was a high school misfit but soon found his calling. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARKY RAMONE, MUSICIAN: To produce the sound that he made at that time takes a genius.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: His "wall of sound" scored him hits and fame with groups like the Ronettes, but he was also known for his erratic behavior.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Spector pulled out a gun and shot it through the ceiling of the studio at A&M Records.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Now, the celebrity recluse is back in the spotlight facing trial for the murder of a b-movie actress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He referred to the whole thing as, yes; it's the anatomy of a frame-up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: The secretive world of Phil Spector. Their stories now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Hi, welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn.
A mother, her child, and a father charged with double murder, the Laci Peterson case. Opening statements in Scott Peterson's trial got under way this week with the prosecution targeting the defendant's credibility and his infidelity. The defense, meanwhile, argued the case against Peterson was circumstantial and flimsy. As both sides outline their strategies in court, we have a look at Scott and Laci Peterson, the all-American family who became a national tragedy. Here's Dave Mattingly.
SHARON ROCHA, LACI PETERSON'S MOTHER: I love my daughter so much. I miss her every minute of every day.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a story that has captivated the country. A murder mystery played out daily in the media.
TED ROWLANDS, REPORTER, KTVU: People wanted to know what -- where she was, whether she was OK and whether that baby was OK.
MATTINGLY: Each year in the state of California alone, thousands of adult men and women are reported missing, but in the final days of 2002, one of those cases went from an ordinary disappearance to an extraordinary media phenomena that has mesmerized the country.
S. PETERSON: I nothing to do with Laci's disappearance.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: One of the great mysteries about the Peterson case is why the public has responded to it so passionately, because it doesn't have a celebrity involved. No one had heard of these people before, but there is something about it that has grabbed many thousands of people.
MATTINGLY: Twenty-seven-year-old Laci Peterson gone without a trace on Christmas Eve. The media was flooded with images of a beautiful, beaming young woman and the tearful family members desperately seek her return.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laci Denise, if you're hearing dad, we love you very much and we want you home.
MATTINGLY: It just didn't make sense. Laci had a handsome, loving husband, parents, siblings and in-laws who cherished her. Plus, the substitute teacher was eight months pregnant when she suddenly disappeared.
Things had been good for Laci Peterson. She was starting a new chapter in her life in the place where her very first chapter began.
Modesto, California, a mid-sized city with a very small town feel, a place where happiness is spelled out in the welcome sign.
Laci Peterson was born in Modesto on May 4, 1975. Even as a young girl, Laci Denise Rocha had the same sunny disposition that was so familiar in her adulthood.
STACEY BOYERS, CHILDHOOD FRIEND: Laci is always smiling. No matter where we are or what we're doing, she's always bubbly and talkative. And she's usually the center of attention.
MATTINGLY: Laci was into everything and she had no shortage of friends. As a student at Downey High, Laci wasn't your typical angst- ridden rebellious teen, quite the opposite, in fact.
O'NEILL: I guess you could call Laci an all-American girl. You know, she was a cheerleader at high school. She was vivacious. She was outgoing and friendly. Her stepfather used to call her Jabber Jaws because she talked so much.
MATTINGLY: Pretty soon, cooking and gardening joined chatting on the list of favorite Laci pastimes and her green thumb planted her at San Luis Obispo at California Polytechnic State University with a major in horticultural sciences.
There she would meet the man who would become her husband. Scott Peterson was a handsome, athletic California boy from San Diego.
COLLINS: People who knew Scott at high school have described him as a kind of jock, very confident, slightly arrogant and yet still friendly and easy to talk to.
MATTINGLY: The consummate outdoorsman, Scott loved hunting, fishing and golf, but he also had an entrepreneurial spirit. As a student at Cal Poly, Scott made a good impression on his teachers in the agriculture and business department.
PROF. JAMES AHERN, CALIFORNIA POLYTECHNIC STATE UNIVERSITY: Very nice guy, a good guy, a capable student, interested beyond just getting grades and interested in knowing people and a good interactor, charming person that could talk well and was interested in what other people had to say, a very likable guy.
MATTINGLY: Scott's agreeable personality worked for him outside the classroom, as well. He parlayed his charm into a part-time job at the Pacific Cafe.
IMANI: His mom and dad were a customer here. They ate here regularly. And then when Scott graduated from high school he came and ate with them a few times and then he asked for a job. He was a very good worker, very responsible, but most importantly, very polite person. People really liked him. He was a very likable guy.
MATTINGLY: One customer in particular took a liking to Scott, fellow Cal Poly student Laci Rocha. After talking to Scott a couple of times, Laci asked a friend who worked at the Pacific Cafe to give Scott her number. He called right away.
RENEE GARZA, CHILDHOOD FRIEND: They're like teenagers in love.
MATTINGLY: That's how most everyone described Laci and Scott. Their relationship turned serious quickly and when Laci said she was bringing her mom to dinner to meet Scott, he went out of his way to impress her.
IMANI: He asked me to make some special appetizer for them. And I did. Some scampi, if I remember right, and he had some flowers on the table.
MATTINGLY: The storybook courtship led to a storybook union.
COLLINS: The wedding was really elaborate. Laci had a big part in planning the wedding. She made sure the flowers were just how she liked them. And she -- it was -- there was a white dress. Him feeding her cake, you know, the full routine. He carried her up the stairs. For a while there, his family thought he that might drop her, but he didn't. So the wedding by all accounts was a big and happy affair.
IMANI: It was a gorgeous day out on the beach, outdoor wedding. Perfect. Everything was just right and a nice couple. They were, like, perfect for each other.
MATTINGLY: It was a picture of perfection that would suddenly be shattered.
(END VIDEOTAPE) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ANNOUNCER: We now return to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Laci and Scott Peterson went from ocean front wedded bliss to a shack. The couple wanted to create a hangout spot where students from their alma mater Cal Poly could eat well for cheap. This was a dream they shared and they each took an active role.
BLAKE REED, FRIEND: Scott's an entrepreneur and he pretty much just built the place up, you know, from the ground up.
CHRISTINE REED, FRIEND: Laci's involvement, too, in the restaurant was significant. She loved to cook. She would go on these trips to France and learn to cook for a week or two and then come back and they kind of both sat down and developed the concept and the menu and then went and found a location.
MATTINGLY: The restaurant soon took off.
When they weren't working, Laci and Scott were out spending time with friends like Blake and Christine Reed. They say this picture taken at a dinner party perfectly summed up the dynamics of their relationship.
B. REED: All of the guys were sitting out in the back porch and we were all smoking cigars and drinking a scotch or whatever and just hanging out and it was all of the guys.
And so somebody wanted to take a picture of all of the guys sitting back there and they were just getting ready to snap the shot and Laci comes behind all of the guys and she wanted to get right in the middle and that's a really good way to describe Laci. She liked -- she was really gregarious and she liked to be in the center of things and be -- you know, she was real comfortable being the center of attention.
C. REED: You know, I never saw Scott feel -- or I never saw any expressions or his behavior never said he was embarrassed by that or angry by that. I mean he kind of just stands back and smiles and said, "That's my wife."
MATTINGLY: Though surrounded by friends and fulfilled by the success of their restaurant, Laci and Scott decided to move back to Modesto to be closer to Laci's family and to start a family of their own.
O'NEILL: Laci was really excited about getting pregnant. They'd been trying to get pregnant for some time and when she did get pregnant and she got the news she was pregnant she was on the phone at 7 a.m. the next morning, calling her relatives and telling them of the news. SUSAN CAUDILLO, SCOTT PETERSON'S SISTER: She and Scott were just thrilled about the coming of their baby boy and everything in their life that they had planned for the past five years and their marriage was coming. This was a big event for them and everything was going wonderfully.
MATTINGLY: Which is why it was so stunning when Scott called family members on December 24, saying he had just come home from a fishing trip and couldn't find Laci anywhere.
JACKIE PETERSON, SCOTT PETERSON'S MOTHER: They were all ready for Christmas, their presents wrapped, their plans laid and they had a little free time. And it's just like Laci to let Scott go do something he wanted to do, and she wanted to do a little more shopping privately, so that was their agreement and it was only for a few hours. It should have been fine.
MATTINGLY: But it wasn't fine. Hours passed with no sign of Laci. The family sprang into action, pleading for help on the airwaves and putting Laci's picture on every tree, lamppost and window in sight.
ROWLANDS: When Laci was missing, literally thousands of people who didn't know her came out to help search for this missing woman and they started to know her.
MATTINGLY: Laci's family, her parents, her brother and sister, as well as Scott's parents, became familiar faces.
ROCHA: I'd like to make a plea to the person or persons who have my daughter.
MATTINGLY: They appeared on television night and day. Noticeably absent, her husband, Scott.
ROWLANDS: When someone's going through this you don't know how they're going to react, but normally you've got a father or a spouse or a family member of a missing person who wants media coverage, who wants the picture out there, the flyers, wants to do interviews, wants to really do anything to get help to find this person. And with Scott it was a little different story where he was real standoffish; didn't want us to take his picture, didn't want us to interview him.
MATTINGLY: Slowly, people began to question Scott's demeanor.
TOOBIN: For better or worse, the public seems to have kind of a script in mind for how bereaved relatives ought to behave and he didn't follow that script. He was not quite sad enough.
MATTINGLY: Modesto police also seemed to think something about Scott wasn't right. He wasn't named a suspect, but he wasn't ruled out either. Police repeatedly questioned him and searched the home he shared with Laci. But the people who knew him best ignored all that whispering.
LEE PETERSON, SCOTT PETERSON'S FATHER: If you knew Scott as far as him being implicated it's just a non-issue.
O'NEILL: Laci's mother, Sharon, told us that she was calling Scott every day. They were speaking on the phone and she was telling him that they loved him and not to worry.
MATTINGLY: With Laci missing for one full week, the family and the town of Modesto came out on New Year's Eve for a candlelight vigil.
Scott Peterson raised eyebrows and got stares of disbelief as he laughed and joked with friends and even took a cell phone call while the rest of the family was in tears.
That, combined with frequent out of town, overnight trips and his steadfast refusal to speak publicly, turned Scott into a villain in the media. But it only got worse.
When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS continues, a potential motive for murder surfaces.
FREY: I met Scott Peterson November 20, 2002. I was introduced to him. I was told he was unmarried.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): Nearly one month after the disappearance of Laci Peterson, a shocking revelation.
KIM PETERSON, ROCHA FAMILY SPOKESPERSON: Approximately two weeks ago, Ron Grantski, Laci's stepfather, asked Scott if he had a girlfriend. Scott told him no and Ron believed him. Now, however, they believe that he has lied to them about this and possibly other things, as well.
MATTINGLY: At first, Scott continued to deny the affair, but a press conference with the other woman, Amber Frey, erased all doubts.
FREY: Scott told me he was not married. We did have a romantic relationship. When I discovered he was involved in the -- the Laci Peterson disappearance case, I immediately contacted the Modesto Police Department.
TOOBIN: The fact that Peterson was having an affair at the time his wife disappeared certainly raised suspicion on him and obviously gave him a motive for murder.
MATTINGLY: It was also the turning point in Scott's relationship with Laci's family.
TOOBIN: That was the moment when they went from being largely supportive of Scott to neutral to hostile.
MATTINGLY: Engulfed in a torrent of bad press, Scott Peterson agreed to what he had resisted for so long, on-camera interviews, but it had to be on his terms. At the time, Ted Rowlands was a reporter for KTVU in the California Bay area. His is now a CNN correspondent.
ROWLANDS: He called me on the phone the night before and said no lights, just one camera guy. I just want it to be a simple interview. He said I'd like to see the questions you want to ask me.
I've never had anybody ask me that before, so it was a definite situation where he was in control and he didn't want to say anything that quite frankly, would, I think, make him look bad.
MATTINGLY: And when it came time to speak he chose his words carefully.
S. PETERSON: I had nothing to do with Laci's disappearance. Even if you think I did, think about Laci.
MATTINGLY: He seemed the most emotional when speaking of the empty nursery for the baby they had decided to name Connor.
S. PETERSON: The nursery's ready for him. That door is closed. I can't look, you know? All of the little itty-bitty clothes and all of those wonderful things we have for him.
MATTINGLY: But public reaction was mixed.
ROWLANDS: I think that people thought he was guilty, and I think seeing him in his sort of pat answers and his reluctancy to really open up didn't help him.
TOOBIN: And then he started doing things like trying to sell Laci's car, actions that seemed inconsistent with a grieving relative and more consistent with a criminal suspect.
MATTINGLY: The downward spiral continued for Scott Peterson, but the darkest days were just ahead.
On April 13, just miles away from where Scott said he was fishing on Christmas Eve, the body of a fetus washed up on the shores of San Francisco Bay, followed by the partial remains of a woman.
The question on everyone's mind, could this be Laci Peterson and baby Connor?
Claiming Scott was a flight risk; the Modesto police didn't wait to find out. Just days after the bodies were discovered he was arrested near a posh golf course in San Diego, just an hour away from the Mexican border.
Despite appearances, the Peterson family stayed strong and supportive.
L. PETERSON: They made a rush to judgment because of all of the media pressure, I believe, and politics. And he's in there, he should not be and we're going to find out who did it.
MATTINGLY: But the attorney general disagreed, calling the case a slam-dunk. And the state of California said it would seek the death penalty against Scott Peterson.
After DNA results confirmed their worst fears, that the bodies that washed up were indeed Laci and her baby, Laci's family held one final, heart-wrenching press conference.
ROCHA: I literally get sick to my stomach when I allow myself to think about what may have happened to them. No parent should have to think about the way their child was murdered.
RON GRANTSKI, LACI PETERSON'S STEPFATHER: I know all of you would like for us to say something about Scott, but we're not going to do that. We owe it to Laci to let the courts bring the facts out.
MATTINGLY: The family took the high road and refused to publicly discuss their feelings towards Scott.
TOOBIN: Anyone who has followed the case at all closely can see that the Rocha family, Laci's family, has gone pretty much over to outright hostility to Scott, even though they have never said the words publicly, "We think Scott did it."
MATTINGLY: The defense tried to provide alternative theories.
MARK GERAGOS, SCOTT PETERSON'S ATTORNEY: We know that there are specific individuals who have information that relate to this -- to the kidnapping and the abduction and the murder. And we're asking that you come forward and we'll do everything possible to protect you.
TOOBIN: A cult murder. A random murder. A kidnapping. That gives the public something to think about except the obvious possibility, which is that her husband did it.
MATTINGLY: The defense had also worked hard to remind potential jurors that their client had a perfectly clean record.
ROWLANDS: He has a history of cheating, which is coming out, but as far as could he be responsible for this? There was nothing in his past and especially in the beginning, people were ready to stand up for this guy and say yes, he's acting strange, but believe us, he's a great guy.
MATTINGLY: After several delays, a change of venue and 12 weeks of jury selection, the trial finally got underway Tuesday.
TOOBIN: The prosecution will undoubtedly focus on a basic appeal to common sense, which is who else could have done this? Who else had the motive? The opportunity?
MATTINGLY: But the case against Peterson is largely circumstantial and the prosecution still has to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. TOOBIN: This case is not a slam-dunk, at least not in terms of the evidence that's public. There is no murder weapon. There is no eyewitness. There is no time of death established. Those are all things that the defense can explore.
MATTINGLY: In the meantime, two families are left to grieve the loss of Laci Peterson and her son, Connor. Forced to wonder how their loved ones came to their deaths in a watery grave, so close to home.
ZAHN: Scott Peterson's trial could last up to six months.
ANNOUNCER: Next, he's a musical maverick turned Hollywood hermit, now facing murder charges.
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RAMONE: He had an occasion to be a little macho, to be a cowboy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: The mysterious world of Phil Spector when PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns.
PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
He was the first tycoon of teen, the powerhouse producer who built pop music's "Wall of Sound". Phil Spector's genius and his eccentricities are legendary. But the man, who once made sound his signature, has spent decades in silence and seclusion. Well, now, Spector is charged with murder and a grizzly killing that has cast the reclusive music maker back into the headlines. Here's Sharon Collins.
SHARON COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It could have been an ordinary Los Angeles night on the town, a drive through West Hollywood, past the neon signs on Sunset Boulevard, drinks and music at L.A.'s trendy House of Blues. Instead, the night turned deadly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was about 5:25 in the morning when I heard the boom, boom, boom.
COLLINS: Early on Monday morning, February 3, police were called to the working class suburb of Alhambra, 20 miles from L.A., a world away from the Sunset Strip.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The house is located at the Pyrenes Castle, where it indicates 1700 Grandview Drive.
COLLINS: Dubbed the Pyrenees Castle, it's the biggest home in the area, owned by legendary record producer, Phil Spector, now a crime scene.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Phillip Spector has been booked for murder and has a million dollar bail.
COLLINS: Just hours after Spector had left Hollywood, he was arrested for suspicion of murder. Lana Clarkson, a 40-year-old part- time actress and hostess was found slumped in a chair dead from a gunshot wound in the foyer of his 33-room mansion.
RAY CAVALERI, CLARKSON'S PUBLICIST: Totally shocked. She had just started working at the House of Blues.
SALLY KIRLAND, CLARKSON'S FRIEND: When I read that it's my girlfriend, Lana, I went into a kind of a shock. And I thought it was pretty tragic.
COLLINS: Spector hired famed O.J. Simpson attorney, Robert Shapiro, and was released after posting a million-dollar bail. But now, after a lengthy investigation, the music mogul has been charged with murder.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Spector, is there anything you'd like to say?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Spector, what do you have to say for yourself?
COLLINS: Until the morning of his arrest, Phil Spector had been most famous for his "Wall of Sound" productions.
RAMONE: "Wall of Sound" was a bunch of musicians in the studio, a bunch of percussionists, tambourine players, two drummers, a chorus of singers. To produce the sound that he made at that time takes a genius.
COLLINS: That sound created some of the most memorable songs of the '60s, huge hits like the Crystals, "Da Doo Ron Ron," and the Righteous Brothers, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling."
MARK RIBOWSKY, BIOGRAPHER: Spector really was the first and the last of the great producers who were actually the star of their records. I mean people know who Puff Daddy is, but these people don't dominate the business the way Spector did. His sound dominated the business. His personality dominated the business.
COLLINS: Spector was also known for his erratic behavior in recording studios: drinking, surrounding himself with bodyguards and carrying guns.
RAMONE: He did wave them around. But I'm not saying he did it for any reason, to hurt anybody. He was like a cowboy at times.
COLLINS: At the time of the incident, Spector had become a recluse, barely leaving his hilltop mansion. Far away from his Alhambra castle, Spector grew up Harvey Phillip Spector in a lower middle class section of the Bronx, New York. RIBOWSKY: His was the typical Jewish family life in the Bronx, growing up in the '40s and '50s. The family emigrated at the turn of the century from Russia. And he had the typical family life -- the mother, father, sister and Spector.
COLLINS: When Spector was 8 years old, his father, under severe financial strain, committed suicide.
RIBOWSKY: He did it in a particularly gruesome way, too, and painful way, I would imagine. He ran a hose from his exhaust pipe of his car through the window of the -- you know, the front window and slowly died on the street in broad daylight as people walked by his car.
COLLINS: In 1953, Spector's mother moved the family to L.A.'s Fairfax district, where she worked as a seamstress. Spector enrolled at Fairfax High and had a tough time fitting in.
BURT PRELUTSKY, CLASSMATE: He seemed to be just about the only student at Fairfax High who wasn't on the academic track. So I figured, well, he's one of those few people that's taking shop classes or he's going to grow up to be a mechanic or something.
COLLINS: Spector was mostly drawn to music. He excelled on piano, drums, the French horn and guitar. He went on to write and record original songs with two classmates. In 1958, they formed The Teddy Bears. Spector took the title of their first tong "To Know Him is To Love Him" from his father's epitaph. The song went to No. 1.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him...
RIBOWSKY: Here is Phil Spector at 17, 18 years old, producing that song in a way that had never been done before in these L.A. studios where you come in and do a half hour session with three or four musicians and then go home. He would stay in there overdubbing the guitar parts, overdubbing the vocals, and running it through the echo chambers, doing it in a way that -- people out there thought he was nuts.
COLLINS: Spector left singing behind and honed in on writing and producing. In 1961, he co-founded the Philles record label. His first group on the label, The Crystals with songs like "He's a Rebel" went straight to the top.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because he doesn't do what everybody else does. That's no reason why I can't give him all my love...
DARLENE LOVE, SINGER: He would sit in the control room and be the master.
PHILLIP SPECTOR, PRODUCER: Hold it, hold it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I lay my head...
P. SPECTOR: Darlene... LOVE: He knew exactly what he wanted.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Baby, my darling...
COLLINS: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, Spector gets what he wants, more hits, like the Ronettes, "Be My Baby."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll make you happy baby...
RONNIE SPECTOR, EX-WIFE: When you heard that voice on the line and he said, "This is the voice I've been looking for."
COLLINS: But his romance with the group's lead singer takes a bizarre turn.
LOVE: Phil was in a rage with Ronnie. "Where have you been? I told you not to leave this studio."
ANNOUNCER: Now back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
COLLINS (voice-over): By the age of 21, Phil Spector had become a millionaire with songs like The Crystals, "He's a Rebel."
LOVE: After he talked to me, "He's a Rebel," he said, "Now darling, don't be deviating, just sing the song exactly the way I tell you to sing it." And I went, "Oh, OK."
P. SPECTOR: Let's forget about the intro for now. Let's just come right in. One, two, three.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every evenin' when the sun goes down...
COLLINS: Love says Spector was a control freak, running the studio like a factory, using musicians interchangeably in sessions that could last for days.
LOVE: One day I was mad at Phil Spector, and I decided I was not going to go to this session. And Phil said, "Sonny, didn't you tell me Cher could sing?"
COLLINS: Spector turned to his assistant, Sonny Bono. Bono asked his 16-year-old girlfriend, Cherilyn, who had always dreamed of becoming a singer, to stand in.
CHER, MUSICIAN: Phillip said, "Sonny says you can sing." And I started to explain to him what I thought I could do, blah, blah, blah. And then he said, "No, I just need noise. Get out there." And that was "Be My Baby," and that was the first thing I did.
THE RONETTES: Oh, since the day I saw you; I have been waiting for you.
COLLINS: That song eventually became famous by another Spector group, The Ronettes. It's still one of the most recognizable songs of the '60s.
R. SPECTOR: And I heard, "Be my" -- he said, "How catchy." And I said, "Is that really for me?" I didn't know. He was actually writing love letters to me while he was making my records.
COLLINS: Spector fell hard for the Ronettes lead singer, Ronnie Bennett, and although he was married to long-time sweetheart, Nanette Lamar (ph), a romance heated up in the studio.
R. SPECTOR: No one around me told me he was married --Cher, Sonny, Darlene, I'll kill them. They didn't tell me he was married.
RIBOWSKY: Phil and Ronnie were a great love story in the canyons of New York and the music business. Ronnie apparently opened up worlds to him that he didn't know existed.
COLLINS: The two married in 1968, but musicians say he controlled his wife like he controlled his music.
LOVE: So I said, "Come on, Phil, we went right around the corner to get hamburgers. We didn't know Ronnie wasn't supposed to leave." "Well, I gave her strict instructions not to leave here. She wasn't supposed to leave." I'm like OK.
COLLINS: By 1964, 25-year-old Spector had put 23 records in the top 50. He took on the white soul-singing Righteous Brothers and made hits like "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling."
THE RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS: We had a love, a love, a love you don't find everyday.
COLLINS: But Spector's run of hits soon dried up. By the end of the year, the British had invaded.
COLLINS: Spector tried one more time in 1966, with the Ike and Tina Turner album, "River Deep, Mountain High." It failed.
RIBOWSKY: That was his statement that he was going to beat back the Beatles. He buried Tina Turner in that song. So he miscalculated terribly, and he was gone. Just like that, he was gone.
COLLINS: Devastated, Spector turned his back on the music industry and became a virtual recluse. His behavior became increasingly odd. He drank heavily, surrounded himself with bodyguards and regularly carried a gun.
R. SPECTOR: I stayed married to him for a while, until I found myself being literally a prisoner in his home. There were barbed wire fences. There were security guards. There were security men.
COLLINS: She finally walked out on their marriage in 1974
Spector resurfaced briefly in 1970 to produce the Beatles "Let It Be" album but behaved strangely while working with John Lennon.
RIBOWSKY: John would come to him and say, "Phil, come on, let's do some work." And they would fight and scream, so at one point, John said -- you know, he must have said something, you know, more forceful than that. Spector pulled out a gun and shot a hole through the ceiling of A&M Records.
COLLINS: He also pulled out a gun during a session with the Ramones in 1980. He produced their successful "End of The Century" album.
RAMONE: He had on occasion to be a little macho, to be a cowboy. But I thought it was funny, seeing this guy do this. The great Phil Spector doing this, playing, you know, with the guns.
COLLINS: Twenty years later, that gunplay and Spector's reputation would come into question.
When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, Phil Spector, murder suspect, a late night rendezvous turns deadly.
ANNOUNCER: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
TINA TURNER, MUSICIAN: I'm very happy to say that the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame welcomes Phil Spector.
COLLINS (voice-over): A little more than a decade ago, Phil Spector was honored for being one of the best music producers of all time. Since then, he has spent most of his time, not in the recording studios, but holed up at his Alhambra fortress, surrounded by a six- foot wall, shielded by electronic gates. "Esquire" writer, Scott Raab, is one of the few journalists, Spector invited to his home.
SCOTT RAAB, EDITOR AT LARGE, "ESQUIRE": A bodyguard was sitting at a chair at the door. And suddenly, Phillip appears kind of at the bottom of the stairs, rumpled, but kind of elegant, small, friendly face. It's kind of like sitting with a comic in a deli or your Jewish uncle who grew up in the Bronx. He regales you with stories and he's really a -- he's well read. He's a funny guy.
COLLINS: Since Spector is known to be reclusive, it remains a mystery as to how he and Lana Clarkson came together that February night. Lana Clarkson's friends say she knew how to make an entrance.
KIRKLAND: When she walked in, it was like, who is that, you know. She's in heels, six feet tall, manes of hair, beautiful body, funny, you know, kind of like the old school of Hollywood.
COLLINS: The 40-year-old striking blonde always wanted to be an actress. Her first role, one word in the '80s teen flick, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."
LANA CLARKSON, ACTRESS: Hi.
COLLINS: Clarkson got more action in low budget movies like 1985's "Barbarian Queen" and later in "The Wizards of The Lost Kingdom."
CLARKSON: You know who cares about another privileged, upper, middle class, white male anyway.
COLLINS: And two years ago, she got some stage work. She played a feminist in the community theater play, "The Powder Room Sweep." But recently, a broken wrist forced Clarkson to put acting aside. To make ends meet, she took a job as a hostess at the House of Blues. She took it in stride.
COLLINS: But friends wonder why Clarkson would have left the Sunset Strip and venture to an unfamiliar suburb.
KIRKLAND: I doubt Lana even knew where it was. You know what I mean? It's like I don't know quite how that moment happened of going all the way to Alhambra. It was a fatal mistake.
COLLINS: According to news reports, around 10 p.m. Sunday, February 2, Spector left his Alhambra mansion and headed to Hollywood. His first stop, Dan Tanas, an Italian restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard. He reportedly arrived with a female friend and had two rum cocktails. He paid his bill, leaving close to a $500 tip. Around midnight, he arrived alone at The House of Blues. Lana Clarkson, on hostess duty in the Foundation Room, a room for big spenders, greeted him at the door. Spector reportedly ordered expensive champagne.
After the club closed at 2:00 a.m., the two were seen talking in the parking lot and then leaving together at 2:30 in Spector's limo. Spector and Clarkson left the Sunset Strip and drove the 20 miles to the strange Alhambra castle on top of the hill.
Around 5:00 a.m., Spector's chauffeur called law enforcement to report having heard gunfire in the mansion. When police arrived, they found Lana Clarkson dead from a gunshot wound. Police subdued Spector with a stun gun and placed him under arrest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're processing the scene, gathering evidence, trying to locate informants and witnesses.
COLLINS: Spector posted a million-dollar bail and returned to his Alhambra estate. Although both he and his former attorney, Robert Shapiro, turned down our request for an interview, in July's "Esquire" magazine, Spector spoke out, claiming his innocence and saying, in his words, that "Clarkson kissed the gun."
RIBOWSKY: It seems like the version that Phil told me was a fairly sanitized version of Lana Clarkson wanted a ride home that -- wanted to see the castle. He never, never saw her before in his life, had no idea what her agenda was, if she was loud and drunk at the bar, did she grab the bottle of Tequila on the way out, that it's a -- you know, it's a sad thing. It's a tragic thing, but clearly, the woman must have had problems.
COLLINS: Clarkson's friends defend her character.
KIRKLAND: And I read somewhere in the press that she killed herself. No, this was not someone who is going to kill herself. No way. She was at a very happy time in her life.
ROBERT HALL, CLARKSON'S FORMER BOYFRIEND: No way. Over the years, she's become very savvy and very smart. She never lets herself get into any kind of weird predicaments.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Shapiro, sir, could you speak to us?
ROBERT SHAPIRO, PHIL SPECTOR'S ATTORNEY: We've issued a written statement, James, and thank you.
COLLINS: Nine months after that grizzly February night and fateful encounter, the D.A.'s office charged Spector with murder, and now Phil Spector, the legendary rock producer, who became as famous for his eccentricities as his music, a man who has spent most of his years hidden inside his armored castle, has been forced back into the spotlight to face a different kind of music.
ZAHN: Phil Spector, already on bail in his murder charge, recently ran into more trouble. The music legend was arrested at his mansion last month after getting into a scuffle with his chauffeur.
That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Be sure to join us Sunday at 7:00 p.m. for our special presentation, "D-DAY: A CALL TO COURAGE." It's a dramatic look at the epic Normandy invasion through the eyes of those who were there.
I'm Paula Zahn. Please stay with CNN for the very latest on what's happening in your world.
ANNOUNCER: For more celebrity news, pick up a copy of "People" magazine this week.