A coroner’s jury today cleared an 18-year-old Altadena youth in the gunshot slaying of his stepfather in the bedroom of the family home.
After only 5 minutes of deliberation, the jury called the death of Robert L. Wilson, 35-year-old Jet Propulsion Laboratory employee, justifiable homicide.
During testimony, the victim’s stepson, William R. Wilson, 18, recounted numerous occasions when his stepfather beat him, his mother, Bessie Fay Wilson, 40, and his sister, Mrs. Marilyn Campbell, 20.
Deputies reported young Wilson fired a .22 caliber rifle bullet into the chest of his stepfather to stop the man from beating him Tuesday night [September 22, 1959].
The shooting occurred at 846 W. Ventura St.
The boy told the jury he feared for his life and that when he retired that night he took the loaded gun to bed with him. He said he heard his stepfather approaching his room and he grabbed the gun when he entered.
“I was scared of him,” the youth sobbed. “He was holding that big flashlight like a club. I pointed the gun at him. He lunged toward me and I pulled the trigger. I didn’t even aim.”
“I was afraid of him because he told me that as long as he was still breathing he’d get me.”
“Then he slumped to his knees and mother came running into the room.”
Mrs. Wilson told the jury her husband had come home from work that day “like a mad dog.”
She said he struck her in the face and tried to choke her. When she was asked to identify the flashlight as belonging to her husband she turned to the jury and said, “My husband hit me many times with that flashlight. My husband was not only the kind that had to beat you, he was the kind that couldn’t stop. He had to beat you into unconsciousness.”
Funeral services will be held tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the Lamb Funeral Home, 415 E. Orange Grove Blvd.