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Jury Hears 2 1/2-Hour Roston Tape Made Hours After Wife Vanished From Ship

Times Staff Writer

Hours after his new bride tumbled overboard to her death from their honeymoon cruise ship, Scott Roston told the ship’s physician that his wife had insisted they get married and had told him that “God must love her to make her so happy, to bring us together.”

“She just said that . . . it scares her sometimes how happy she’s been with me and with us getting married, you know,” Roston said. His tape-recorded voice sounded flat and tired during most of the interview that Dr. Wesley K.W. Young conducted while Coast Guard ships were still combing the waters south of San Diego for a sign of 26-year-old Karen Roston.

Sat in Silence

The Santa Monica chiropractor, on trial in Los Angeles federal court on charges of strangling his wife and hurling her unconscious body off the ship Feb. 13, 1988, sat silently most of the time that the 2 1/2-hour tape was played to the jury.

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In the interview, Roston said the couple made love “once or twice a day” and took long walks together throughout the weeklong cruise to Mexico. Karen, he said, loved life and never would have deliberately jumped overboard.

“She likes to roller-skate, swim. She wanted me to teach her how to play golf and how to snow-ski. She likes to do aerobics. She loves music and dancing. And she loves me,” he told ship’s physician Young. Roston began weeping quietly when he heard that segment of the tape.

Young testified Tuesday that he had examined Karen Roston a few days before her death when she claimed she had tripped and bumped her head. She had complained of some temporary dizziness, but Young said he found no sign of injury.

Mood Was ‘Odd’

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“Karen actually didn’t want to be there. Her husband felt very strongly about her being there to be examined. She was almost apologetic,” Young testified.

After she disappeared, Young said he interviewed Roston to try to piece together what happened.

“His mood, I thought, was odd,” the doctor said. “I would have expected somebody who had lost their wife to be a lot more agitated and excited, and he seemed a lot more calm.”

Roston, 37, did not reveal any hint of his claim now that Israeli agents, retaliating against him for a book he wrote about Israeli human rights abuses, seized him, drugged him into unconsciousness and attacked his wife. Roston says he was afraid to reveal the truth then because the Israeli agents were still on the ship.

Throughout the interview, Roston insisted that Karen had been walking laps around the ship’s jogging track in a stiff wind while he waited at one end of the deck. Suddenly, he said, he heard his wife scream for help.

Roston said he ran to where the screams were coming from and saw his wife on the other side of the 3 1/2-foot railing.

‘Lost Her Grip’

“I saw her trying to pull herself up on the outside of the railing and she was reaching up, and she lost her grip and she fell down and she was holding on to the edge and I was, tried to reach through to get her and I hit my face on something and, and . . . I tried, I tried to reach for her, but then she wasn’t there anymore,” he said.

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Roston said he must have gotten the scrapes and scratches the doctor found on his face when he hit it as he reached for Karen. But the doctor found other scapes on his arm, shoulder, chest and abdomen that Roston said he might have gotten while making love or while trying to help his wife.

Repeatedly during the interview, Roston asked ship officials if they had found his wife and said at one point that he had to go lay out her clothes for her return.

“They’ll find her,” he said. “God gave her to me. He’s not going to take her away now.”


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