A Santa Monica chiropractor was indicted on a second-degree federal murder charge Tuesday, accused of killing his bride of nine days by "beating her, strangling her and throwing her overboard" from their honeymoon cruise ship last month.
Scott Robin Roston, 36, has claimed that vengeful Israeli agents killed his wife to frame him in retaliation for his 1987 book criticizing his "torture" by what he called the "Israeli Mafia."
The body of Karen Waltz Roston, 26, a Florida-born licensed masseuse, was pulled from the sea 30 miles southwest of San Diego on Feb. 13, less than 12 hours after her new husband reported her overboard from the cruise ship "Stardancer." A San Diego County coroner's report ruled her death was a homicide, "strangulation associated with drowning."
Held without bail in Terminal Island prison since his Valentine's Day arrest at the request of the Bahamian government, Roston was already in court Tuesday for a status hearing on the Bahamas' extradition effort when the grand jury returned the single-count indictment. The Bahamas entered the process because the cruise ship is registered there.
Tuesday's action effectively stays any action by the Bahamian government. "The Bahamas wants to make sure he is prosecuted," said Assistant U.S. Atty. Patricia Collins, chief of the major crimes division. "They do not oppose our prosecuting him, but if we do not complete the prosecution here, they are reserving their right to extradite."
The indictment charges that Roston ". . . intentionally killed his wife, Karen Waltz Roston, by beating her, strangling her and throwing her overboard into the sea to drown, in callous and reckless disregard for her life."
The couple were married Feb. 4 in Las Vegas and set sail two days later on the Mexico-bound cruise. Roston, an ex-Navy corpsman and a graduate of a Georgia chiropractic college, first told investigators that winds blew his wife overboard from the ship's jogging track. But he later blamed her death on Israeli agents.
In a call last month from Terminal Island, Roston told The Times that he believed agents first drugged him, then killed his wife in order to frame him, and to discredit him and his critical 1987 book, "Nightmare in Israel," which he paid to have published.
The book accuses Israel of human rights violations against him and others. It describes Roston's drugging and brutalization in jail and a mental hospital after Roston says he was "framed" on a phony criminal charge by the "Israeli Mafia" during the 14 months he lived there in 1979-1980. He and his parents had moved to Israel to open a chiropractic clinic, he said.
A trial date is to be set at his arraignment next Monday.