Landis Invites Jurors Who Cleared Him in ‘Twilight’ Case to Preview

Times Staff Writer

The jury that found film director John Landis not guilty of manslaughter charges in the “Twilight Zone: The Movie” trial last year was invited by Landis to a special preview screening Saturday night of his new feature, “Coming to America.”

The invitation was met with mixed reviews.

Several jurors, who said Landis told them to bring as many guests as they wanted to the free show at Paramount Studios, said they were flattered by Landis’ personal offer, apparently extended to all 12 jurors and four alternates.

“I thought it was a really nice thing considering that he don’t owe us anything,” said juror Roger Aker, a pallet repairman from Downey. “I’ve decided I would wear a suit even though it’s summer.”


“I think the entire jury is coming and their family members,” said Wilbert Fisher, a retired bank official.

However, two members of the defense team in the 10-month trial, stemming from the 1982 film set deaths of actor Vic Morrow and two Vietnamese immigrant children, said Saturday that Landis’ action left a bad taste in their mouths.

“To be quite frank, what’s wrong with it is that the case from a moral point of view has never been resolved,” said attorney Harland Braun, who defended co-defendant George Folsey during the trial after representing Landis during pretrial hearings. “Even though he was not guilty of manslaughter, John Landis never got up and said, ‘Look, I feel morally responsible for the people dying even if I’m not criminally responsible.’

“I wonder if he invited the parents of the children because they were part of the case too.”

Attorney Arnold L. Klein, who represented a third co-defendant, said Landis has “not conducted himself like a mensch (a decent and honorable person),” and added, “If Landis was convicted, there would be no free movies.”

Klein, who was not invited to the screening, continued, “There are honor rolls and merit rolls. (The prosecutor) and I are on the toilet roll.”


Deputy Dist. Atty. Lea Purwin D’Agostino, who prosecuted Landis, said: “I think the jurors would probably have preferred to have been invited to the party he threw to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the verdict rather than a screening of a movie that I understand is not very good.”

Landis could not be reached for comment.