in

Leslie Abramson was phasing out her defense work with an eye towards retirement when she got the call from music producer Phil Spector to represent him in his murder case. As one of the nation’s best known and most colorful criminal defense lawyers. She replaces Robert Shapiro, best known for his role in the OJ defense.

The lawyer, who became famous for her role in the murder trial of brothers Lyle and Erik Menendez, said she had been phasing out her defense practice with an eye toward retirement when she was contacted by Spector.

“I was about to hang it up when I got the call,” she said Monday. “No other defendant would get me to give up my freedom. No other defendant was someone I considered an idol, an icon and the definition of cool.”

Spector, famous for creating the legendary “Wall of Sound” that gave a symphonic feeling to 1950s rock ‘n’ roll, has worked with the Beatles, Ronettes, Righteous Brothers and many other musicians.

The 62-year-old producer is charged with fatally shooting actress Lana Clarkson at his suburban Alhambra mansion on Feb. 3, 2003. He is free on $1 million bail.

“I don’t see any evidence that he did it,” Abramson said, adding she has studied the case files.

Spector, who was charged with murder on Nov. 20, suggested earlier this year in an interview with Esquire magazine that Clarkson, who also worked as a hostess at the House of Blues, may have shot herself.

Shapiro, the former O.J. Simpson lawyer, was on vacation and couldn’t be reached for comment Monday, but he previously confirmed to The Associated Press he was leaving the case.

Neither lawyer gave a reason for the switch, but Abramson said the decision came in the wake of charges being filed against Spector.

Along with Abramson, Spector also hired Marcia Morrissey, the lawyer who worked with her on the Menendez trials and later defended Carey Stayner in the high profile Yosemite murder case.

District attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said her office had been notified about the change in counsel. She said the prosecution’s case has been placed in the hands of two experienced deputy district attorneys, Kevin McCormack and Douglas Sortino.

Abramson said the change of representation was amicable.

“Bob and I have no problem. We had a very amicable discussion and he said lots of nice things about the client,” she said of Shapiro.

British MP George Galloway and his opponent the Daily Telegraph will leave no stone unturned to sort out what could be a spectacular libel case.

One of the authors claiming Dan Brown’s bestseller The Da Vinci Code copied his ideas has admitted he exaggerated his case in an interview with a journalist.