U.S. News

Life sentence for man who beheaded screenwriter

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A severely mentally ill man was sentenced to life in prison on Friday for beheading a Hollywood screenwriter who wrote scripts for Abbott and Costello comedies.

Keven Lee Graff, 31, a homeless former Marine described by his lawyer as “very, very mentally ill”, pleaded guilty in Los Angeles Superior Court to the June 2004 murder of Robert Lees, 91. Graff also admitted murdering Lees’ elderly neighbor in a crime without motive.

Lees started in show business as a dancer and went on to write a number of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello movies in the 1940s and 1950s. He was blacklisted in the McCarthy era but continued to work for film and television under the name J.E. Selby on episodes of “Rawhide” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”.

Police said Graff entered the Hollywood home of Lees, attacked him with a cleaver and took the man’s head with him as he climbed a fence and entered the house next door, where he also killed the occupant.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant