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Actress Susan Cabot's son gets probation in her death

By
MICHAEL D. HARRIS

LOS ANGELES -- The son of actress Susan Cabot, star of numerous 1950s 'B' movies, was sentenced Wednesday to three years' probation for bludgeoning her to death with a metal bar in 1986.

Timothy Scott Roman, 25, was sentenced by Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp, who convicted him Oct. 10 of involuntary manslaughter after a non-jury trial.

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Roman, who was born a dwarf but took steroids and other drugs as a child to stimulate his growth to his current 5-feet-4, could have been sentenced to up to six years in state prison.

Cabot, 59, who had been plagued by mental and emotional problems, was bludgeoned to death by her son in their Encino home Dec. 10, 1986.

Born Harriet Shapiro in Boston, Cabot made her film debut in 1950 in 'On the Isle of Samoa.' She later won starring roles in numerous other low-budget 'B' movies of the 1950s, including 'Fort Massacre,' 'Ride Clear to Diablo,' 'Duel at Silver Creek' and 'Gunsmoke.'

Her son, an art student at Pierce College, tearfully testified at his trial that his mother had attacked him the night of her death with a metal weightlifting bar -- the same object police say he later used to kill her.

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He said his ailing mother was delirious and did not recognize him that evening.

Roman also testified that he could not remember if he used the bar to strike back and kill her, but admitted hiding the bloody instrument in his clothes hamper.

'She picked it up and started swinging at me,' Roman testified. 'I grabbed it ... the last thing I remember is trying to push her away, just trying to get out of that room.'

Roman admitted under cross-examination that he gave police a fabricated story about the slaying. He initially claimed that he had been knocked out in a battle with an intruder garbed as a Ninja warrior, and that he found his mother's body when he awoke.

In his statement to police, Roman said his mother was 'very special. I loved her very much.'

Roman was initially charged with second-degree murder. But in closing arguments, the prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Bradford Stone, asked Judge Schempp to convict him of a reduced voluntary manslaughter charge.

But Schempp went further, convicting Roman of the even lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.

'I'm not dissatisfied with the verdict,' Stone said. 'Based on evidence presented by the defense, it became real obvious that he did not pre-meditate the slaying.'

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'I still get the gut feeling that he just snapped from the stress of living with his mother all those years,' the prosecutor said.

Court records painted a portrait of Cabot not unlike that of the Norma Desmond character in the 1950 film, 'Sunset Boulevard,' which starred Gloria Swanson as a tormented, washed-up movie queen.

Cabot was portrayed in the records as an aging beauty whose short-lived acting career faded long before her death, and who had withdrawn into a reclusive existence in her hilltop home, which had fallen into a state of disrepair.

Her second marriage was to Roman's father, businessman and former actor Michael Roman. That marriage ended in divorce several years ago. Cabot was also once romantically linked to Jordan's King Hussein.

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