Retired Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Samuel Mayerson, a longtime deputy district attorney who prosecuted heiress Patty Hearst and two members of the Symbionese Liberation Army over a shooting in Inglewood, has died at age 96, his family announced Wednesday.
Mayerson died in his sleep of natural causes late Monday at his home in Palos Verdes, according to a statement from the family. He would have turned 97 on Sunday.
A Texas native, Mayerson enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1941 when he was 18 years old, pursuing his dream of becoming a pilot. During World War II, he flew missions in Tunisia and Italy before returning to U.S. bases as a flight instructor.
He settled in Los Angeles after the war, graduating first from UCLA then earning a law degree at USC. He joined the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in 1952, serving as a prosecutor for more than 25 years and leading the felony crimes unit, according to the family.
He led the prosecution of Hearst and SLA members William and Emily Harris over a 1974 shooting at an Inglewood sporting goods store. The shooting occurred one month after the more famed robbery of a bank in San Francisco by Hearst and members of the SLA.
The Harrises were convicted at trial in the Inglewood case. Hearst, who had already been convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison for the San Francisco bank robbery, pleaded no contest to armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon in the Inglewood case.
Mayerson retired from the District Attorney’s Office, but was appointed a judge in 1981 by Gov. Jerry Brown. He retired from the bench in 1994, but a short time later, he returned through state Assigned Judges Program, and he continued hearing cases into his 90s, retiring permanently in 2015.
He is survived by his son, Matthew; daughter Julie Mayerson Brown; and grandchildren Mickey Brown, Madeline Mayerson Adler, Samuel Brown and Anna Mayerson. Mayerson’s wife, Ruth, died in 2016.
No funeral is planned, at Mayerson’s request, but a memorial service celebrating his life will be held in November, according to the family. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his memory the Wilshire Boulevard Temple Camps or any other charity of choice.
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