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Widow Convicted of Manslaughter in Contract Killing of ‘Lobster Boy’

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Jurors convicted a woman on a reduced charge of manslaughter Wednesday in the contract slaying of her husband--the claw-handed sideshow performer known as Lobster Boy.

Mary Stiles, 56, claimed that she was a battered spouse acting in self-defense. She showed no emotion when the jury returned its verdict.

Jurors deliberated about 10 hours over two days before finding her guilty of manslaughter with a firearm and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. She had been charged with first-degree murder.

A teen-age neighbor who had been paid $1,500 shot her husband, Grady Stiles Jr., twice in the back of the head as he sat in his trailer, watching television.

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Stiles, 55, was a sideshow veteran who got his nickname for a genetic deformity that left him with two-fingered hands and stunted, footless legs.

Throughout the trial, Mrs. Stiles portrayed her husband as a powerful, drunken brute who swatted her with his pincer hands, butted her with his head, sexually abused her and threatened to kill her.

The state called it a killing of convenience, saying Mrs. Stiles hatched the plot weeks in advance and stood to take over such carnival shows as the Human Pincushion, the Blockhead and the Gorilla Lady Illusion.

Acting Circuit Judge William Fuente set Aug. 29 for sentencing.

Christopher Wyant, the 19-year-old gunman, was convicted last year and is serving 27 years in prison.


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