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Witness testifies that Spector threatened women

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Witness testifies that Spector threatened women

By Michael Muskal
Times Staff Writer

12:23 PM PDT, July 9, 2007

The murder trial of Phil Spector took a turn back to the prosecution today as a former security guard and onetime New York City police officer testified that the music producer threatened women and used obscenities to describe how they deserved to die.

After a hearing with the jury out of the room, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler reversed himself today and ruled that Vincent Tannazzo could testify.

The judge had previously disallowed the obscenity-laced testimony but changed his mind and ruled that Tannazzo's comments were important enough to overcome any prejudice that the jury would feel from the comments about women. The testimony illustrated Spector's anger about women, the prosecution said.

Spector, 67, is charged with shooting Lana Clarkson, 40, in the mouth in the early hours of Feb. 3, 2003. The defense contends that Clarkson accidentally killed herself in Spector's Alhambra mansion.

Tannazzo, now retired, described how he was working security for comedian Joan Rivers, who threw a Christmas party in the mid-1990s. Spector made obscene comments about women. "They all deserve a bullet in their head," Tannazzo said Spector told him.

"I ought to put a bullet in her head right now," Tannazzo testified that he heard Spector say at a New York hotel at another Rivers party about seven years before Clarkson's slaying.

Tannazzo said he frisked Spector after an altercation there between the producer and a woman and said he found a handgun in Spector's belt.

Four women have testified that they had encounters with a drunken Spector who threatened them with guns. The prosecution argues that Spector had a pattern of menacing women, especially when drunk. The murder of Clarkson was an extreme example of this pattern, the prosecution says.

The prosecution also hopes that the "bullet in their head" comment will remind the jury of how Clarkson died -- from a bullet through the mouth.

The Spector trial resumed this morning after a 10-day holiday break.

Spector arrived in court this morning sporting a new hairdo. Gone was the blond pageboy style, replaced by a brown layered shag-type wig. This follows a recent sartorial upgrade to include ties and conservative suits.

The new hair prompted speculation that the music producer was trying to tone down his image to be more appealing to the jury.