The trial of Oscar Pistorius

2014-04-06 17:03

The lives and times of the sensational and celebrities have always, through time and history, been full of intrigue and huge drama. Actors, athletes and models are at the epicenter of people’s attention. Former US Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum said it well when he opined that the celebrities are the aristocracy that sway the people even more than politicians does.

That is how I see the Oscar Pistorius case currently pending before the Court of Law at the Place of Justice in Pretoria. The case is superlative and has touched the world because Oscar Pistorius is a sensational Olympic star. That is the basis upon which the case was afforded the rare status of being openly carried out live on public TV and other media.

The Oscar Pistorius case resembles other similar cases that involve the “aristocracy”. Way back in Good Friday of 1958 a similar horrific case took place. It was one of Hollywood’s most shocking, lingering and scandalous tragedies:

It was just before 22h00, 4th of April, Good Friday 1958 when the sensational screen goddess Lana Turner’s boyfriend Johnny Stompanato was brutally murdered with a big bread knife by Lana Turner’s 14 year old daughter, Cheryl Crane. This killing happened at Lana Turner’s multi-million dollar tantalizing mansion in Beverly Hills, in Hollywood. Lana Turner was then the biggest movie star in the world who lightened the careers of other movie stars like Marilyn Monroe following after her.

Cheryl Crane’s testimony before the court was that she mowed down Johnny Stompanato with the bread knife because he kept “swearing and threatening” her mom Lana Turner. “I did what I did to protect my mother”. “I jabbed at him with the knife out of split-second impulse to scare him – there was no forethought”.  “I don’t know what happened I just did it” “I didn't mean to do it”.

Cheryl Crane won the case on the basis that the murdered was justified – (what is called justifiable homicide). The reason was because when the court dug, unearthed and perused the past life of Johnny Stompanato they discovered that he was a violent man who was also a notorious gangster and mobster.

Though Cheryl Crane was never charged with any crime, the tragedy stuck with her, sending her life in a downward spiral of darkness and by the time she was 17 years old she was institutionalized, straight-jacketed in a padded cell.

But she ultimately overcame all odds and anguishes and went on become a brilliant real estate businesswoman and more important achieving a loving wonderful reconciliation with her famous screen Hollywood goddess mother.

Cheryl Crane explains all these in her book titled Detour - A Hollywood Story that she published in 1988. The dictionary defines detour as a “roundabout way temporarily replacing part of a route”. That is how Cheryl Crane looks at the horrors of her past – as a temporary interruption, a temporal setback that love and determination finally overcame. She managed to pull herself up from the darkness and the sharp pangs of deep guilt to become a normal person in the daily life.

In Detour – a Hollywood Story, Cheryl not only tell her personal story but also life in Hollywood, a world of nightclubs, wild parties, sordid luxury, mobsters and gangsters – a world where manufactured dreams too often turned into nightmares. That was the atmosphere that she was born and grew into.

Detour – a Hollywood Story is an intensely personal book that finally laid down the truth about what happened in Hollywood during that Good Friday night of 1958. It was the first time Cheryl Crane talked about the matter in such minute detail elaborating on the convoluted course of events that led to the murder. Hers was a tragic story that fascinated the world during that time.

The court case made Cheryl Crane’s defense lawyer Jerry Giesler a worldwide superstar lawyer for winning the case. Jerry Giesler went on to represent Marilyn Monroe in her successful divorce from Joe DiMaggio.

Jerry Giesler was indeed a powerful Hollywood defense attorney who also got Errol Flynn and Charlie Chaplin acquitted of rape charges.

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