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Topie: Robin Bishop, 23{desc: California Highway Patrol Officer George Michael Gwaltney}
September 10th, 2008 07:42 PM

United States of America, Plaintiff-appellee, v. George Michael Gwaltney, Defendant-appellant

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit. - 790 F.2d 1378

Argued and Submitted Jan. 9, 1986.Decided June 2, 1986

At about 5:00 p.m. on January 11, 1982, twenty-three-year-old Robin Bishop departed Los Angeles driving alone to her home in Las Vegas. At 9:23 p.m. on the same date, defendant George Michael Gwaltney, then an officer with the California Highway Patrol, reported by radio that he had discovered a woman's body beside a frontage road just off Interstate 15 some 30 miles northeast of Barstow, California. Robin Bishop had been killed by a single bullet that entered the back of her head. Bruises on her wrists indicated that she had been handcuffed ten to twenty minutes before she died. Autopsy revealed fresh semen in her vaginal cavity.

Two state-court murder trials in which Gwaltney was defendant culminated in hung juries. A federal indictment was thereafter returned charging that Gwaltney, acting under color of law, willfully assaulted and shot Bishop, thereby causing her death and violating her constitutionally protected right not to be deprived of life or liberty without due process of law. 18 U.S.C. Sec. 242. Gwaltney pleaded not guilty and the matter proceeded to trial. On May 10, 1984, after six weeks of trial and one day of deliberation, a jury found Gwaltney guilty as charged. On June 25, 1984 the district court entered judgment on the verdict and committed Gwaltney to prison for a period of ninety years,

At trial the government adduced considerable evidence concerning the characteristics of defendant's semen, the semen removed from Bishop's vaginal cavity during autopsy, semen stains found on the back seat of the patrol car driven by Gwaltney on the night of the murder, and semen stains found on the blue jeans worn by Bishop on the night of her death. Analysis of the semen removed from Bishop's vaginal cavity revealed that the donor had type A blood and secreted his typing antigen into his semen. It is undisputed that some 29% of the male population are type A secretors. Dried semen found on the back seat of the patrol car was also found to have been donated by a type A secretor, as was the dried semen found on Bishop's blue jeans. An enzyme found in the semen of 40% of the population, PGM 1+1+, was also identified in the semen stain found on the back seat of the patrol car. According to undisputed expert testimony, the occurrence of this enzyme is independent of blood type and secretor status. Analysis of a semen sample taken from Gwaltney revealed that he is a type A secretor exhibiting the PGM 1+1+ enzyme. Additionally, Dr. Edward Blake, the prosecution's forensic serologist, testified that using a relatively new procedure known as an immunobead assay, he detected anti-sperm antibodies in a sample of Gwaltney's semen, as well as in the semen stains found on Bishop's jeans and on the back seat of the patrol car. According to the testimony at trial, anti-sperm antibodies occur in less than 5% of the male population.

On the day after Bishop was murdered, Victoria Graham, a dispatcher with the California Highway Patrol, asked Gwaltney whether the woman whose body he had discovered the previous night was "cute." Over Gwaltney's objection Graham testified that Gwaltney responded: "No, she was a dog." Gwaltney argues that the remark was irrelevant and highly prejudicial. While he fails to challenge specifically its admission we infer such a challenge from his comments concerning relevancy. Gwaltney further contends that the court abused its discretion by failing to prevent the prosecutor from referring to the "dog" remark in closing argument, despite the absence of a contemporaneous objection.

On January 16, 1982, five days after the murder, Detective Lynn Waggoner of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office visited numerous gun shops in the Barstow area to determine whether anyone had attempted to purchase parts for a Smith and Wesson Model 19 revolver, by then apparently believed to be the type of weapon with which Robin Bishop had been killed. At that time, William Addington, owner and operator of the Powder Horn Gun Shop in Barstow, denied that anyone had visited his shop in search of such parts.

At trial, Addington testified that Gwaltney had visited his gun shop the day after the Bishop homicide in search of a barrel for a Smith and Wesson Model 19 revolver. Addington admitted that he had withheld this information from authorities throughout the state-court proceedings. Addington further testified that in May 1983, in the course of an informal conversation in his shop concerning the entry of the FBI into the Bishop case, he revealed that Gwaltney had lied "about his gun" during the state-court proceedings. Over Gwaltney's hearsay objection, John Landrum testified that he overheard Addington state "that the day following the death of Miss Bishop, ... a highway patrolman came in and inquired concerning the barrel to fit a model 19 Smith and Wesson pistol."

Gwaltney attempted to persuade the jury that an unidentified person broke into his house and stole his gun in an attempt to frame him for the murder of Robin Bishop. Despite the testimony of certain police officers that Gwaltney's house had not been burglarized, the trial court excluded testimony offered by Gwaltney of signs of forced entry into his home detected by a defense investigator during the second trial.
September 10th, 2008 07:45 PM
Suzieklued George Michael Gwaltney, a former Barstow based, CHP patrolman was convicted on May 10, 1984, in federal court, for the 1982 rape and slaying of Robin Bishop. Following conviction, Gwaltney was subsequently sentenced to 90 years, being eligible for parole after serving at least 30. Gwaltney died in federal custody.