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Jury Took Zsa Zsa With ‘Grain of Salt’ : Gabor Found Guilty of Slapping Police Officer

Times Staff Writers

Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor was convicted Friday of slapping a motorcycle officer, driving without a valid driver’s license and having an open container of alcohol in her $215,000 Rolls-Royce convertible when she was stopped while driving in Beverly Hills on June 14.

The fiery former Miss Hungary, whose outspoken comments outside of court led to a $500 fine for contempt of court, was found not guilty of disobeying Officer Paul Kramer when she drove away from him after a traffic stop.

Jurors deliberated more than 10 hours over three days in reaching their verdicts after a 15-day trial.

“I’d have been surprised if I wasn’t found guilty,” Gabor told reporters on the courthouse steps. “I have expected it all along.”

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“I can’t believe that in a country as great as ours that a 6-foot-4 policeman can beat up a lady of 5-foot-4 and use dirty language as if she was a streetwalker. I think Russia can’t be worse or Communist Hungary, either. I think it’s ridiculous.”

As for going to jail, she said, “That would be wonderful. I’d have time to write my book.”

“If I go to jail, Bistro Gardens (a restaurant) said they would serve me food three times a day.”

Municipal Judge Charles Rubin set sentencing for Oct. 17. Gabor faces a maximum penalty of 18 months in jail and a $3,500 fine.

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Jury foreman John Burke, 35, an accountant from Los Angeles, said he felt the panel made the right decision.

“She got a message from us about how we feel about her driving about town committing battery on a police officer,” Burke said. “I feel good about our decision. I’m glad that it’s over.”

Burke said the jurors decided to acquit the blonde actress on a charge of driving away from Kramer because they believed she could have misinterpreted an obscene comment he allegedly made to her.

Contradictory Testimony

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Juror Kathy Hudson, 30, a bank teller who lives in Los Angeles, noted that testimony presented during the trial was contradictory.

“Everybody (the jury) basically took everything with a grain a salt,” said Hudson, referring to Gabor’s testimony. “There were an awful lot of contradictions. She would say one thing and later something completely contradictory.”

Gabor was wearing an orange-and-black print dress and a diamond brooch when she arrived at the courthouse shortly before 3 p.m. in her Rolls-Royce.

“Of course, I’m nervous, Jesus,” she told a crush of TV cameras and reporters.

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Inside the courtroom, she seemed excited and chatted with about 70 spectators, likening the scene to “opening night on Broadway.”

As the court clerk read the first guilty verdict, she sighed, “Ahhh.”

Gabor’s lawyer, William Graysen, said his client will decide whether to appeal after she is sentenced.

Prosecutor Elden Fox commented that the judge had been “clearly deferential” to Gabor during the trial.

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“He was allowing her to walk in and out of the courtroom,” Fox said. “If she wanted to have a break, an aspirin, if she wanted a rest, these were allowed.”

Fox said he offered Gabor a plea bargain before the trial, but she rejected it through her attorney. The deal would have permitted the actress to plead guilty to one count of disturbing the peace on condition that she publicly apologize to the police.

The charges against Gabor grew out of an confrontation with Kramer after the motorcycle officer stopped the actress for driving her car with expired registration tags. While Kramer was checking for other violations, Gabor drove off.

When Kramer pulled her over the second time, Gabor slapped the officer. She claimed that she had acted in self-defense when Kramer pulled her out of her car roughly. Kramer insisted that the slap was unprovoked.

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Gag Order Ignored

Rubin imposed a gag on comments by Gabor, her attorney and the prosecutor during the trial, but Gabor repeatedly ignored the order, declaring that prosecution witnesses were lying.

After the jury was dismissed, the judge fined Gabor $500 for one count of contempt of court and dismissed a second contempt charge.


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