Cheryl Christina Crane Inquest: 1958
Cheryl's Statement Introduced
Because of her age Cheryl was not present at the inquest, but part of her statement made to Chief Anderson on the night of the stabbing was read into the record as follows:
Chief Anderson: Tell us what happened.
Cheryl: They had an argument… he was threatening Mother.
Chief Anderson: Where was this argument taking place?
Cheryl: First in my bedroom, then in mother's room.
Chief Anderson: Did you go downstairs and pick up a knife in the kitchen?
Chief Anderson: Then you took it into the room?
Cheryl: Yes, in case he tried to hurt Mommy.
Chief Anderson: Then you thought your mother's life was in danger?
Cheryl: He kept threatening her and I thought he was going to hurt her, so I went into the room and stuck him with the knife. He screamed and asked me what I was doing. I ran out of the room. Mother called me back into the bedroom to help her again … I called Daddy before I went back into the room and told him to get over here fast.
Shortly before noon the 10 men and 2 women of the coroner's jury returned a verdict of justifiable homicide. Afterward, District Attorney McKesson, who had attended the inquest, announced to reporters: "After what I have heard today, and unless some new facts are uncovered, it would not be my inclination to prosecute her [Cheryl] on criminal charges."
Although this concluded the criminal proceedings, Stompanato's family filed a $752,250 civil suit against Lana Turner and Cheryl's father, alleging that parental neglect had caused the death of Johnny Stompanato. Jerry Giesler arranged a settlement of the suit of about $20,000.
Both mother and daughter survived the ordeal well. Oddly enough, the incident revived Lana Turner's flagging movie career. Her next film Imitation Of Life was a great box-office success and led to several more. Cheryl Crane, after further but minor skirmishes with authority, settled down and joined her father in his restaurant business.
The inquest into Stompanato's death afforded instructive as well as compelling viewing. For the majority of Americans, Lana Turner's torment yielded a unique opportunity to glimpse an absorbing and critical stage of the judicial process that is rarely reported by the press or understood by the public.
Suggestions for Further Reading
Crane, Cheryl And Jahr, Cliff. Detour. New York: Arbor House, 1988.
Crimes And Punishment. Vol. 14. England: Phoebus, 1974.
Munn, Michael. The Hollywood Murder Casebook. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1987.
Turner, Lana. Lana: The Lady, The Legend, The Truth. New York, Dutton, 1982.