Accused Child Killer Granted Gag Order

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Times Staff Writer

Robert Stansbury, who is helping defend himself against charges that he kidnaped and killed a 10-year-old Baldwin Park girl in September, 1982, has been granted a request that a gag order be placed on his defense team as well as prosecutors and investigators connected with the case.

Transcripts show that Pomona Superior Court Judge James Piatt, who has denied most of the estimated 150 pretrial motions filed by the defendant and the attorneys appointed to assist him, granted the order after Stansbury asked that everyone connected with his case be silenced to avoid exposing potential jurors to detailed news media reports.

Meanwhile, jury selection continued through its sixth week last week, with Piatt admonishing prospective jurors to avoid reading or listening to news accounts of the Stansbury case. The defendant, with the help of a psychologist, continued screening prospective jurors.


The judge said he expects the trial to begin in the next month to month and a half.

If convicted, the 41-year-old Stansbury could face the death penalty. He has served about 20 years in prison for kidnaping and rape convictions. He was arrested in October, 1982, after the bruised and beaten body of Robyn Leigh Jackson was found in a Pasadena drainage ditch.

Prosecutors contend that Stansbury, who was driving an ice-cream truck at the time--in violation of his parole, which forbid jobs that could bring him in contact with minors--kidnaped the girl while making rounds in her neighborhood and then beat her to death.

The case has been marked by long delays and arguments in open court between Stansbury and members of his defense team. In November, after lengthy discussions between Piatt and Stansbury, Anthony Robusto, who had been serving as Stansbury’s advisory lawyer, was dismissed from the defense team, and co-counsel David Daugherty was relegated to serving in an advisory role.

Stansbury has objected repeatedly to Daugherty’s handling of the case, at one point making a motion that Daugherty be required to sit in a far corner of the room during the trial. When Stansbury threatened to withdraw his defense and refuse to participate in the trial unless Daugherty’s role was further diminished, Piatt, according to transcripts, told Stansbury his status as lead attorney would be canceled if he carried out the threat and that Daugherty would be appointed in his place.

Stansbury later acquiesced but remains adamant about handling the case. Pretrial proceedings, an almost daily occurrence for the last several months, are frequently stopped and the courtroom cleared to allow Stansbury, Daugherty and Piatt to discuss some particularly difficult point of law in private.

Last September, Piatt, frustrated with pretrial motions filed by the defense, told Stansbury he was “playing games with the system” and denied Stansbury’s appeal for more time to prepare his case.