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Attitudes About Homosexuality an Issue as Jury Is Selected in Calabasas Killing

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Times Staff Writer

Potential jurors in the trial of an 18-year-old Calabasas youth accused of killing a 17-year-old schoolmate, allegedly for exposing him as a homosexual, were questioned Tuesday about their views on homosexuality.

Jury selection in the first-degree murder trial of the youth, Robert M. Rosenkrantz, began Monday in Van Nuys Superior Court and is expected to last several more days. Superior Court Judge James A. Albracht estimated that the trial would take about a month.

Rosenkrantz is accused of shooting Steven Redman, also of Calabasas, nine times with an Uzi semiautomatic weapon last June 28.

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Police say the shooting occurred a week after Redman and his best friend, Rosenkrantz’s 17-year-old brother, Joey, spied on Rosenkrantz and then told Rosenkrantz’s parents and classmates that the youth was homosexual.

Embarrassing Questions

Rosenkrantz’s attorney, Richard S. Plotin, told the tentative panel of six men and six women, mostly middle-aged and elderly, that he would ask several potentially embarrassing questions about homosexuality.

Plotin then asked the prospective jurors such questions as whether they viewed homosexuality as a disease; if they believed that “calling a homosexual person a ‘queer,’ a ‘faggot’ or a ‘fairy’ would be insulting words,” and whether two homosexual men could love each other as deeply as a heterosexual couple.

“Do you find anything repulsive about their behavior?” Plotin asked.

Several potential jurors said their religious training condemned homosexuality but said their views would not interfere with their ability to give Rosenkrantz a fair trial.

Asked by Plotin what makes people become homosexuals, one elderly potential juror replied: “I think they’re born like that. They can’t help themselves.” He added that he “wouldn’t like it” if his relatives had homosexual schoolteachers. “I feel a lot try to convert them to their life style,” he said.

Sits Quietly

The panel was scheduled to return today for questioning.

Rosenkrantz, dressed in a neat dark suit and white tennis shoes, sat quietly throughout the proceedings, writing occasional notes.

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Deputy Dist. Atty. Larry Diamond said Monday that he plans to call about three dozen witnesses to testify, including Rosenkrantz’s brother, Joey, and father, Herbert Rosenkrantz. He said he will also call Redman’s parents, Barbara Redman and Larry Redman, who were in court Monday and Tuesday. Rosenkrantz’s parents also were present.

Rosenkrantz, who pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree murder with a firearm, is being held without bail in a special ward for homosexuals at the Hall of Justice. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 27 years in prison. He would be required to serve at least 14 years of that.

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