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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Sun Valley

Man Found Guilty of Killing Stepmother

November 15, 2000|CAITLIN LIU

A Van Nuys jury Tuesday found Robert M. Bloom Jr. guilty of murdering his stepmother and stepsister, killings committed 18 years ago for which he now faces a possible death penalty.

The same jury from his retrial will now determine whether Bloom, 36, was mentally ill when he killed his family. If he is found sane, the jury will then decide if he deserves capital punishment.

Last week, Bloom was convicted of first-degree murder of his father, Robert Bloom Sr., whom he shot April 22, 1982, at their Sun Valley home. He was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder Tuesday.

Deputy Dist. Attys. Shellie Samuels and Dmitri Gorin argued that Bloom, who was 18 at the time, killed his father because the man was emotionally and physically abusive, then shot his stepmother, Josephine Lou Bloom, and 8-year-old stepsister, Sandra Hughes, because they had witnessed the crime.

Bloom's attorney, Deputy Alternate Public Defender Seymour Applebaum, argued that Bloom killed his father after a heated argument and deserves to be found guilty of only voluntary manslaughter, and that he was "fully dissociated" when he shot his stepmother and stepsister, thus deserving only involuntary manslaughter for their deaths.

After his first trial in the early 1980s, Bloom was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death. But his sentence was overturned in 1997 because the U. S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found his lawyer at the time had mounted an inadequate psychiatric defense.

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