707 F.2d 391 (9th Cir. 1983), 82-1545, United States v. Stearns

Docket Nº:82-1545, 82-1558 and 82-1777.
Citation:707 F.2d 391
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Stephanie Kay STEARNS, Defendant-Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Buck Duane WALKER, aka Roy A. Allen, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:May 31, 1983
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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Page 391

707 F.2d 391 (9th Cir. 1983)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Stephanie Kay STEARNS, Defendant-Appellant.

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Buck Duane WALKER, aka Roy A. Allen, Defendant-Appellant.

Nos. 82-1545, 82-1558 and 82-1777.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

May 31, 1983

Argued and Submitted April 15, 1983.

As Corrected June 17, 1983.

As Corrected on Denial of Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc

Aug. 4, 1983.

Page 392

Leonard I. Weinglass, Los Angeles, Cal., Earle A. Partington, Honolulu, Hawaii, for defendants-appellants.

Patty Merkamp Stemler, Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for plaintiff-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii.

Before BROWNING, Chief Judge, WRIGHT and WALLACE, Circuit Judges.

EUGENE A. WRIGHT, Circuit Judge:

Eleanor and Malcolm Graham disappeared without a trace in August 1974. Their boat appeared in October in the possession of the appellants, Stearns and Walker, who claimed that the Grahams had drowned. Appellants were charged with theft and convicted, and Walker's conviction was vacated and later dismissed on speedy trial grounds. See U.S. v. Walker, 575 F.2d 209 (9th Cir.1978); U.S. v. Stearns, 550 F.2d 1167 (9th Cir.1977).

In 1981, when Eleanor Graham's skull and some bones surfaced with evidence of foul play, appellants were indicted for felony (robbery) murder. At issue now are their claims of double jeopardy and res judicata.

FACTS

The paths of Stearns, Walker, and the Grahams crossed in the summer of 1974 in a lagoon off Palmyra, an uninhabited atoll in the Pacific Ocean. The Grahams arrived in their luxurious 37-foot boat, the Sea Wind, with state-of-the-art technology, outfitted for a two-year cruise.

Stearns and Walker had to be towed into the lagoon because of their sailboat's broken engine. Walker's boat, the Iola, had taken a month to make the trip from Hawaii, about 1,000 miles, although most vessels make it in four to seven days. Without money and provisions, they survived on a diet of coconuts and fish.

In late August the Sea Wind and the Iola were the only vessels left in the lagoon. On August 28th the Grahams made radio contact with Hawaii, pursuant to a prearranged pattern. All later attempts to make radio contact with them were fruitless. They were never heard from again.

In October the Sea Wind was seen in a Honolulu yacht harbor, with Stearns and Walker as its crew. It had been reregistered under a new name, its trim repainted, and its figurehead removed. On October 28th Stearns was arrested for theft of the vessel, and on November 1st a search team set out for Palmyra. The group found no clue of the fate of the Grahams or of the Iola, and no evidence of foul play. Walker, who was apprehended in November, and Stearns claimed that the couple had drowned, and offered conflicting explanations for how they came to possess the Sea Wind.

Appellants were indicted on charges of theft and interstate transportation of stolen property. Walker later was dismissed from the first indictment and indicted...

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