LOS ANGELES -- A former California Highway Patrol officer could be sentenced to life in prison for being convicted of violating the civil rights of an aspiring actress found shot to death in the Mojave Desert.
George Gwaltney, 42, was convicted Thursday of handcuffing Robin Bishop after a routine traffic stop, having sex with her in his patrol car, then shooting her in the head. The jury said Gwaltney violated the civil rights of the 23-year-old Cedar City, Utah native.
The verdict in the six-week trial came in the second day of jury deliberations. Gwaltney will be sentenced June 25.
U.S. District Judge Pamela Rymer ordered Gwaltney's $20,000 bail revoked because of the seriousness of the crime and 'the danger to the community.'
Gwaltney was indicted by a federal grand jury after two state court juries deadlocked in favor of acquittal on first-degree murder charges.
The indictment charged the former officer violated the civil rights of Miss Bishop, who lived in Las Vegas, Nev., by raping and killing her after stopping her car in January 1982.
Gwaltney, the first CHP officer charged with committing a murder on duty, reported finding Miss Bishop's body off a deserted stretch of Interstate 15 on Jan. 11, 1982.
He listened quietly Thursday as the unanimous verdict was read, but his wife sobbed. Defense attorney Brian Robbins said he would appeal.
'The U.S. Attorney's Office wanted this conviction bad, and they spent unlimited amounts of money to win it,' Robbins said. 'This was a key prosecution for the government, and money was no object.'
Robbins said an appeal would be based in part on the prosecution's introduction of medical evidence during the nearly six-week trial linking Gwaltney's semen, which contained a rare antibody, with stains found in the back seat of his patrol car and in Miss Bishop's jeans.
'That kind of test, at this point in time, is not appropriate in a criminal case,' Robbins said.
Jury foreman Ray Loehr said the five-woman, seven-man panel took only one vote. The strongest evidence, he said, was Gwaltney's dismantled gun found in his locked pickup truck. The barrel, grips and chamber were missing.
'There was no accounting at any time by the defense as to how that gun frame could be explained in the condition it was in,' Loehr said.