Jurors in the murder trial of Phil Spector last night told the judge that they had reached an impasse in their deliberations, raising the prospect of a mistrial being called as soon as today.
A mistrial would essentially leave the wildly eccentric music producer a free man.
At a hearing at Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Larry Paul Fidler questioned the jurors, who told him that they were split 7 to 5 — a sign of irreconcileable differences. They did not reveal which way the balance tipped: guilty or not guilty.
When asked if they could reach a decision if they were allowed to convict Mr Spector of involuntary manslaughter, instead of the original charge of second-degree murder, only three jurors said yes. Analysts said that this did not bode well for the prosecution.