Karen Roston
Murdered On Cruise Ship On Her Honeymoon
Stardancer - February 13, 1988
In addition, the medical examiner testified that there were signs of hemorrhage in her neck and eyes and the warping of her neckbones were evidence of manual strangulation.  Two days later, police arrested her husband when the Stardancer sailed back to the Port Of Long Beach.  He was held without bail at the Federal prison on Terminal Island, as the investigation continued.

Once in custody, Dr. Roston produced a third, most bizarre, explanation of Karen's death, saying that Israeli agents had killed his wife because he had published a book of government crime in Israel, the year before, titled, Nightmare In Israel,  which he paid Vantage Press to publish in early 1987.

In 1978, Scott and his parents had emigrated to Israel where he opened an unlicensed chiropractic clinic. In late 1979, he spent more than two months in jail and in a mental hospital where he claimed to have been drugged and brutalized. He says the Mafia in Israel targeted him, because he refused to marry a neighbor's neice while in Israel, according to him, turning down bribes to do so.

Right after the book was published, Sheriffs of Palm Beach County, Florida received a report from Roston's parents about an attempt to  kidnap their son outside a shopping mall. According to Scott, two Israelis in a white van grabbed him and proclaimed in Hebrew, "Israel wants you." Scott said he broke free and shot one of his would-be captors before speeding away in his vehicle.

Medical examiners noted that had she attempted to swim after entering the water, the air would have been forced out of her clothes and that therefore she must have been unconscious when she went overboard; she had subsequently died from drowning. The signs of hemorrhage in her neck and eyes and the warping of her neckbones were evidence of manual strangulation.

Material from the rubberized jogging track imbedded in her clothing suggested that she had been pressed to the deck with considerable force. Parts of her earrings were found on the deck eleven and a half feet from the railing, together with strands of her strawberry blond hair that appeared to have been wrenched from her head.

The trial began in late February 1989. The defense was based on Karen being murdered by Israeli men, with Scott being framed.

In its rebuttal case, the prosecution surprised Kenner by bringing to the stand Maurice Haziza, one of the two Israeli passengers. He testified that he was not a secret agent for the Israeli government, but a wedding photographer on vacation; he and his traveling companion, Emil Yaron, had visited Disneyland and Universal Studios before embarking on the Mexico cruise to complete their vacation after photographing the wedding of a friend.

The jury, unimpressed with the espionage defense, found Roston guilty of second degree murder on the high seas. United States District Judge James Ideman sentenced Roston to life in prison without parole, observing: "This is one of the cruelest crimes this court has ever seen. It is this court's hope that this defendant never be released."

At the sentencing hearing, the court observed that the forensic evidence collected from the ship's upper deck, as well as the condition of Mrs. Roston's body, showed that Mrs. Roston was severely beaten and strangled before her body was thrown overboard. The judge observed that he had never seen a case in which a honeymoon ended in such a chilling and heartless manner.

November 1994 Scott Roston appealed his sentence. Although sustaining the conviction, the Court of Appeals remanded for resentencing. The appellate opinion noted that by imposing a life sentence, the trial court had applied the penalty required under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for first-degree murder even though the defendant was only convicted of murder in the second degree. In November 1994 Scott Roston was resentenced to a term of thirty-three years, nine months. Roston appealed his conviction for the third time in 1999. The appeal  argued that the 405-month sentence imposed by the district court during the first appeal, based on a seven-level upward departure from the Sen- tencing Guidelines, is unwarranted. The court disagreed.

The Stardancer was Sundance Cruises only ship. Sundance merged with Eastern Cruise Line to form Admiral Cruises. She then became the Royal Caribbean Viking Serenade when Admiral was merged with them. In 2002 she was renamed Island Escape and operate 7-Day Mediterranean cruises. Stardancer was 40132 gross tons, 635 feet long, with a maximum passenger capacity of 2560.

Scott Roston's appeal case is here. He is due to be released from the federal prison at Fort Dix on July 8, 2017.

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