Grogan Death Decreed by Jury in Stuntman Slaying
Tuesday, November 9th, 1971
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 9 — Manson cultist Steve Grogan was sentenced to death in the gas chamber yesterday for the murder of stuntman Donald “Shorty” Shea.
The Superior Court jury of eight men and four women deliberated a total of 16 hours on the penalty verdict. They received the case last Friday.
Grogan, 20, smiled weakly at the jurors as they were polled on the death verdict.
Trial Judge James G. Kolts scheduled Nov. 29 for formal sentencing. Grogan’s attorney, Charles Weedman, indicated he would move for a new trial at that time.
Grogan becomes the seventh members of the cult, including Charles Manson himself, to receive a death penalty verdict.
Manson and three female followers were condemned to the gas chamber earlier this year for the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders. In addition, Charles “Tex” Watson received the death penalty for the same murders after a separate trial this summer.
The other Manson cultist condemned to the gas chamber is Robert Beausoleil, convicted last year of the murder of musician Gary Hinman.
The Hinman murder, the Shea killing and the Tate-LaBianca slayings all took place within a two-month period the summer of 1969.
The most unusual aspect of the Grogan trial was the killing of Shea himself, since the body has never been found.
Prosecutor Burton Katz contended during the trial that Manson ordered Shea killed. The stuntman, Katz said, was beheaded and buried at the Spahn Ranch in Chatsworth, one-time stronghold of the Manson “family” of nomadic young people.
Manson, meanwhile, is in the penalty phase of his separate trial for the Hinman and Shea murders.He was convicted of first-degree murder last Tuesday — three days after Grogan was found guilty.
The trials of Manson, Grogan and another cult member, Bruce Davis, were severed last summer. Davis has not yet come to trial.
In addition, still another member of the “family,” Mary Brunner, also has been formally charged with the Hinman murder. She too has not yet come to trial on that charge.
Weedman, after the verdict was read, sat at the counsel table and shook his head as in disbelief. Reporters tried to question him in the hallway when court recessed, but he dashed out without making any comment.
Katz, meanwhile, declared that the public “has served notice through the jury that it will not countenance further acts of violence in wanton disregard of the sanctity of human life.”
The prosecutor termed the death sentence a “real victory.”
He pointed out that the jury could have been swayed by Grogan’s age — 18 — at the time the crime was committed and also that it was a “nobody” murder.
This was the second trial for Grogan. His first before a different judge last summer ended in a mistrial when it was ruled that the prosecutor asked a witness “inflammatory questions.”
Dist. Atty. Joseph P. Busch Jr. stood behind Katz when the mistrial was declared and the same prosecutor handled the current case before Judge Kolts.