After killing the Grahams and stealing their sailboat Walker and Stearns returned to Hawaii to obtain a new registration and repair a plank in the hull that was damaged by bullets discharged from Muff's derringer as she fought for her life with Stearns in the cabin of the Sea Wind. Before Stearns and Walker could depart for the South Seas they were discovered aboard the Sea Wind and arrested for theft of the boat.
In separate trials, both were found guilty of theft and several lesser charges. Walker was returned to prison on parole violations and Stearns sent off to jail for a few months.
Seven years later Sharon Jordan and her husband, while beach combing on Palmyra Island, discovered the remains of Muff Graham. Officials were notified and warrants for murder were issued for both defendants.
Walker was tried in July 1985. After two weeks in trial he was found guilty, the jury deliberating for less than two hours.
Stearns' trial followed in February 1986. She was defended by Vincent Bugliosi, well known prosecutor of Charles Manson. He was assisted by attorney Leonard Weinglass of Chicago Seven fame. Stearns was found not guilty despite overwhelming evidence she planned the murders and participated in execution and torture of Muff Graham.
Judge King, presiding over the trial, made numerous rulings which greatly assisted Stearns. Another factor playing a major role in Stearns' victory was the weak and confused prosecution directed by the U.S. Attorney's office.
In Bugliosi's subsequent best selling book "And The Sea Will Tell", (ATSWT) which purportedly recounts the trial, he completely misrepresented his skills while reviewing his supposed cross examination of Edwin Pollock (aka Bernard Leonard in ATSWT). The court reporter's transcript reveals it was Pollock, a crucial witness, that schooled Bugliosi.
Moreover, what Bugliosi presents as a withering cross-examination of another key witness, Curtis Shoemaker, did not occur as he suggested, but became a confused morass with Bugliosi, chastised by Judge King, limping off stage.
In his trial summation he employs the "lie of the half truth" as a persuasive device on numerous occasions. Moreover, after all his carping about searching for the truth one finds him shamefully suborning perjury as he examines Stearns who purportedly recalls a conversation that Bugliosi, himself, admits never occurred.
"Final Argument" exposes many of the lies propounded by both Stearns and Bugliosi in their headlong pursuit of a not guilty verdict. It shows Bugliosi to be an idol with feet of clay. Time and again the murder trial transcript reveals he crosses the line of propriety and ethics in pursuit of a not guilty verdict. All this is followed by whoring after fame and fortune in presenting a shamefully false narrative of his trial exploits in his best selling book "And The Sea Will Tell".
This revised version of Final Argument has eliminated some of the redundancy found in the original and takes a closer look at Bugliosi's questionable defense tactics that permitted him to prevail.
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About the Author
A graduate of the University of Michigan with a bachelor's degree in psychology, Juris Doctor degree from the San Fernando Valley College of Law, a sailor and wooden boat owner for nearly fifty years. Duly licensed to practice law in the State of California, a former Deputy Public Defender for the County of Los Angeles and trial lawyer for over forty years, now retired..
Several years ago I happened upon "And The Sea Will Tell," a book written by attorney Vincent Bugliosi and Bruce Henderson. It supposedly recounts the murder of Mac and Muff Graham on the island of Palmyra in August 1974 and the subsequent arrest and trials of Stephanie K. Stearns and Wesley "Buck" Walker who were charged with the murder of the Grahams.
Vincent Bugliosi, acclaimed prosecutor of Charles Manson, now working on the other side, defended Stephanie K. Stearns, who was accused of murdering Muff Graham. For myself, after arguing on behalf of thousands of defendants as a Deputy Public Defender for the County of Los Angeles, I too have changed sides, and now argue on behalf of Mac and Muff Graham and the prosecution. After reading ATSWT and reviewing the original trial transcripts I arrive at an opinion and conclusion contrary to that of the jury and am persuaded Stearns and Walker, acting in concert, murdered the Grahams for reasons set forth herein.