Longtime Los Angeles lawyer Al Matthews, whose clients included convicted killers Barbara Graham, L. Ewing Scott and Fred Stroble in sensational court cases of the 1950s, died Wednesday in Yuba City. He was 79.
Matthews' niece, Joan Wilson, said Matthews suffered a stroke in February. He had been living in the Northern California community since last year.
Matthews, one of 13 children of a Dubuque, Iowa, judge, attended Southwestern University School of Law here and began his career with the Los Angeles County public defender's office. It was in that job that he defended Stroble, 68, who was convicted of killing a 6-year-old girl.
He entered private practice and in 1954 was appointed by the state Supreme Court to represent Barbara Graham after a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge imposed the death penalty for Graham's participation in the bludgeon slaying of a Burbank woman. Despite Matthews' efforts, Graham was executed in January, 1957.