A Calabasas teen-ager was sentenced to 17 years to life in state prison Monday for killing a schoolmate who exposed him as a homosexual on the night of his high school graduation.
Robert M. Rosenkrantz, 19, was sentenced in Van Nuys Superior Court to 15 years to life for second-degree murder and two years for using a gun in the June 28, 1985, death of Steven Redman, 17, also of Calabasas.
Rosenkrantz, who had been charged with first-degree murder, was convicted of the lesser charges June 9 for shooting Redman with an Uzi semiautomatic rifle on a Calabasas street.
According to trial testimony, Rosenkrantz was enraged because his younger brother, Joey, and Redman, who were best friends, spied on him, seeking to prove he was a homosexual. They later told his parents he was a homosexual.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday July 16, 1986 Valley Edition Metro Part 2 Page 7 Column 1 Zones Desk 2 inches; 43 words Type of Material: Correction
A photograph in the Valley Edition of July 8 incorrectly identified a bearded man in the foreground as Herbert Rosenkrantz, father of convicted murderer Robert Rosenkrantz. The man is Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner David Ziskrout. Herbert Rosenkrantz was seated behind Ziskrout in the photo.
San Luis Obispo Recommended
Over the objection of Deputy Dist. Atty. Larry Diamond, Judge James Albracht recommended that Rosenkrantz be sent to the California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo.
Rosenkrantz's attorney, Richard S. Plotin, had requested that his client be placed in the heavy-medium security facility at San Luis Obispo.
Plotin said he feared Rosenkrantz's youth, homosexuality and lack of a criminal record would make him subject to assault in maximum-security state prisons.
State Department of Corrections figures show that the San Luis Obispo prison has a far lower inmate assault rate than do prisons at San Quentin, Folsom and Tracy.
The prosecutor, however, told the judge that Rosenkrantz still "feels that someone else was to blame" for Redman's death and that there was little to "distinguish this case from any other second-degree murder case." Diamond said that others who committed less serious crimes would like to go to the San Luis Obispo prison, but don't have "influential friends," a reference to the wealth of Rosenkrantz's father, Herbert, a lawyer.
'Hero to Homosexual Community'
"I think it is unfortunate that this man has become a hero to the homosexual community," Diamond said.
Plotin said Rosenkrantz has helped hundreds of other homosexual youths who have written him in jail in response to widespread publicity about his case. A bailiff said Rosenkrantz receives more mail than any other of the 1,736 inmates in the Hall of Justice Jail.
Plotin said he will appeal the conviction.
In asking that Rosenkrantz be sent to San Luis Obispo, Plotin cited reports from several defense psychologists and psychiatrists and letters from the teen-ager's family friends describing him as an intelligent, nonviolent person who is unlikely ever to kill again.
"Robert has no criminal background whatsoever. I believe this is an isolated incident," said Plotin, who had sought a lesser verdict of voluntary manslaughter, arguing that Rosenkrantz killed in the heat of passion.
Plotin read from a letter written by Rosenkrantz to Albracht in which the youth said, "The overwhelming clear message delivered by Steve's death is that hate kills. There is no more room for hate! . . . I believe that Steve would not demand condemnation or retribution."
Dressed in a purple and blue shirt and white pants, Rosenkrantz smiled and waved at his parents and two younger brothers after the sentence was pronounced.
Although Rosenkrantz has been in custody less than a year, the judge said he will receive credit for 524 days served, counting time for good behavior.
With more credit for good behavior and work, Rosenkrantz will be eligible for parole in about nine years. However, defendants sentenced for murder are seldom paroled after their first hearing.
In the courthouse cafeteria shortly before court began Monday, Herbert Rosenkrantz was served with papers from a wrongful-death lawsuit filed June 20 in Van Nuys Superior Court on behalf of Barbara Redman.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Robert Rosenkrantz, his parents and brother, Joey, as well as Turner Sporting Goods Co. in Northridge, which sold Robert Rosenkrantz the rifle he used to kill Redman. Also named as defendants are Action Arms and Israel Military Industries, the U.S. distributor and Israeli manufacturer of the Uzi, said attorney Kathy Seuthe.
At the court hearing, the victim's mother, Barbara Redman, spoke against sending Rosenkrantz to the San Luis Obispo prison. "I don't think there was any justification for the murder of my son. . . . I ask you, I beg you, for justice to Robert Rosenkrantz," she said.