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Lobster Boy’s Stepson Convicted Of Murder

August 10, 1994

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ A jury convicted Lobster Boy’s stepson Tuesday of hiring a hit man to kill the claw-handed carnival performer, rejecting arguments that the slaying was a last resort to protect his mother from abuse.

Harry Glenn Newman, 20, quietly sobbed as the jury returned guilty verdicts on charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Newman, another sideshow performer known as the ″Human Blockhead″ for hammering nails into his nostrils, faces a mandatory life sentence without possibility of parole for 25 years. Circuit Judge Donald C. Evans set sentencing for Sept. 23.

The jury reached its decision after deliberating just over an hour.

″They soundly rejected the proposition you can claim self-defense in a murder-for-hire situation,″ said prosecutor Ron Hanes.

Defense attorney Peter Catania said he was disappointed.

Newman acknowledged he was never seriously abused physically by his 55- year-old stepfather, who was known as the Lobster Boy for the genetic deformity that left him with two-fingered hands and stunted, footless legs.

But he portrayed Grady Stiles Jr. as a drunken brute who routinely swatted his mother, butted her with his head and once listed the order in which he would kill his family members.

Newman testified during the weeklong trial that the murder-for-hire scheme was the only way to protect his mother, Mary Stiles, from the escalating violence.

The pair paid a teen-age neighbor $1,500 to shoot Stiles twice in the back of the head as he sat in his trailer, watching television in his underwear.

Prosecutors argued neither Newman nor his mother was ever in the imminent danger necessary to claim self-defense.

In her trial last month, Mrs. Stiles claimed she was a battered wife and was convicted on the lesser charge of manslaughter. Mrs. Stiles, 56, faces seven to 22 years in prison when sentenced later this month.

Christopher Wyant, the 19-year-old trigger man, was convicted last year of second-degree murder in the November 1992 slaying and is serving 27 years in prison.

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