It has been nearly eight years since two men with shotguns herded nine employees and two customers into a walk-in refrigerator at Bob’s Big Boy on La Cienega Boulevard, killing four and wounding four others.
The scars have not yet healed. Not for the survivors. Not for the families--either those of the victims or those convicted--not even for the detectives and lawyers who got caught up in the four years of investigation, trials and legal battles that followed.
Ricky Sanders, 32, who was convicted of four counts of murder, still waits on Death Row for the automatic appeal process to work its way through long delays in the filing of briefs and a change in his state-appointed attorneys.
Left Few Marks
Franklin Freeman Jr., 29, is in prison, where he is to stay for the rest of his life without possibility of parole. Carletha Stewart, 28, a former Bob’s waitress who is Freeman’s cousin and was Sanders’ girlfriend, pleaded guilty and is serving 25 years to life in prison.
Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Harvey Giss, who prosecuted the three during four years of pretrial motion hearings, conferences, hearings, trials and penalty-phase trials that followed, contends that the Bob’s Big Boy case left few marks on him.
“I’ve tried too many brutal cases since the Bob’s Big Boy case,” Giss said. “You become jaded, as brutal as it was. They’re all horrible, brutal cases. It just numbs me. You have to shut it out as best as possible.”
But then he begins to think about it: “Imagine putting those people in a freezer and trying to kill them all. . . . “
Giss, 49, still occasionally hears from survivors who had to relive the Dec. 14, 1980, massacre again and again when they testified against Freeman and Sanders. Mike Malloy, who was the night manager and lost an eye to a ricocheting shotgun pellet, apparently has overcome personal problems that plagued him afterward and is working for a Hollywood restaurant, with plans to get into the computer field.
Evelyn Jackson, a waitress who was shot in the head and had part of her brain removed, “sends me notes all the time,” Giss said. “She still suffers horrible headaches. She has an incredible upbeat attitude. When I think about it, it makes me sick.”
He heard a few months ago from Tami Rogoway, who was 18 when she and her boyfriend, David Burrell, 20, stopped in for something to eat after a Stevie Wonder concert. Burrell was killed, and Rogoway took a shotgun blast in the back. An estimated 100 pellets are still in her. “She still has the fear of one of those things causing nerve damage,” Giss said.
The detectives continued to work day and night during the trials. Chief investigator Rick Jacques suffered a major heart attack within a year of the conclusion and underwent a quadruple bypass. The No. 2 officer, Rick Stallcup, retired on a stress-related disability.
Giss said he faced a total of nine defense lawyers by the time it was all over. The Freeman trial, he remembers, was “so contentious; we fought every day.” The courtroom staff finally gave him and Freeman’s attorney, Leslie Abramson, each a pair of boxing gloves.
“I put it to bed a long time ago,” Giss said. “But when someone talks about it, it’s like turning on a spigot.”