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Former Studio Technician to Stand Trial in Slaying, Kidnaping, Arson

December 24, 1987

A former pyrotechnical engineer for a movie studio was ordered Wednesday to stand trial on charges that he killed his wife and attempted to kill his daughter.

Robert Peernock, 50, of Tarzana was held for trial by San Fernando Municipal Court Judge Michael S. Luros on one count each of murder, attempted murder, kidnaping and arson. Luros, under a pilot program sponsored by the Superior Court, immediately arraigned Peernock, who pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Peernock's eldest daughter, Natasha Sims, and the body of Peernock's estranged wife, Claire Laurence Peernock, 45, were found July 22 at 4:30 a.m. in Peernock's car in Sun Valley. The auto had struck a utility pole and had been doused with gasoline in what officials testified was a staged accident.

An autopsy on Claire Peernock revealed that she died before the crash of head wounds that were inconsistent with injuries that could have been caused by a traffic accident, James B. Wegener of the county coroner's office testified during the five-day hearing. Sims survived similar injuries, which were probably inflicted with a blunt instrument, Wegener said.

In a separate incident, Peernock also has been charged with soliciting the murder of Sims and her attorney, Victoria W. Doom, while in County Jail, where he is being held without bail.

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