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MAN GETS NEW TRIAL IN KILLINGS.

Byline: Alex Roth Daily News Staff Writer

A Sun Valley man is entitled to a new trial on charges that he killed his father, stepmother and young stepsister in 1982, the nation's highest court ruled Tuesday.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to reinstate the conviction and death sentence of Robert M. Bloom Jr., 34, five months after a federal appeals court ruled that the Encino attorney who defended Bloom at trial botched the case.

On Tuesday, Bloom's attorney predicted the case would settle short of a new trial but wouldn't say whether his client would be willing to accept a life term if prosecutors promised not to seek the death penalty again. Bloom has admitted killing his father.

``(The District Attorney's Office) is obviously going to make an attempt to settle the case because the truth is that prior to the last trial they were willing to settle short of a death penalty,'' San Francisco attorney Dennis Riordan said.

The deputy district attorney who prosecuted Bloom has retired and the case has been assigned to a new prosecutor, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday. A spokeswoman for the district attorney didn't return phone calls.

Bloom's mother, who lives in Lancaster, said Tuesday that she was delighted by the court's ruling. Melanie Bostic, 55, divorced Bloom's father before the killings and accused the elder Bloom of provoking his own death by abusing her emotionally troubled son.

``The father was a very violent man,'' said Bostic, who has maintained regular contact with her son and also has become a vocal anti-death-penalty activist. ``I think my son just got mentally pressured and he just snapped.''

In December a federal appeals court ruled that Encino lawyer Sherwin Edelberg failed to properly investigate Bloom's psychological problems and abusive childhood, among other things. The appeals court accused Edelberg of a ``complete lack of effort'' during the trial.

Edelberg didn't return a phone call Tuesday. In February 1997 the State Bar placed him on 30 months' probation for a drunk-driving conviction and missing the deadline to file a lawsuit, among other actions.

The State Bar said it would begin an inquiry into any case involving alleged attorney incompetence in a death-penalty case. Bar officials wouldn't comment on this specific case or on possible discipline.

``I can simply tell you it would be taken very seriously,'' said Tracy Genesen, a special assistant in the State Bar prosecutor's office.

The deputy state attorney general who handled the appeal said Tuesday that Bloom's conviction should have been upheld because his troubled childhood was irrelevant to the issue of whether the killings were premeditated.

``He killed three people in a cold, calculated manner,'' Deputy Attorney General Robert Schneider said. ``His reasons and motivations - that's his problem. They aren't justification.''

Bloom was 18 when he shot his father, Robert Bloom Sr., outside their home in Sun Valley. He shot his stepmother, Josephine Lou Bloom, inside the house and then stabbed and shot his 8-year-old stepsister, Sandra Hughes.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

PHOTO Melanie Bostic of Lancaster displays a photo of her son, Robert M. Bloom Jr., during a visit to San Quentin Prison.

Jeff Goldwater/Daily News
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Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 27, 1998
Words:527
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