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Man found guilty in "Lobster Boy' death

Published Oct. 6, 2005

During closing arguments Wednesday in the trial of the man accused of killing a retired carnival performer, the prosecutor told the jury, "He fired and fired and fired and fired until he held up his end of the bargain."

The jury apparently believed Assistant State Attorney Ron Hanes and found Christopher Wyant guilty of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit the murder of Grady Stiles Jr., a carnival sideshow owner who was once an attraction himself.

It was murder for money, according to the prosecution, who said Wyant, 18, received $1,500.

Although Stiles was 55 when he was killed in November 1992, he was still known as "Lobster Boy" to thousands who paid money over the years to gawk at his clawlike hands and stumpy legs. His appearance was caused by ectrodactylism, a genetic condition alternately called lobster-claw syndrome.

Stiles was gunned down in his Gibsonton mobile home while watching television.

The verdict against Wyant, who was originally charged with first-degree murder, doesn't end the case. Stiles' wife, Mary Teresa Stiles, and his stepson, Harry Glenn Newman, who are accused of hiring the hit man, will go on trial as soon as an appeals court rules on Judge Barbara Fleischer's decision to allow a battered-spouse-and-child-syndrome defense to be used in the case.

Wyant showed no emotion during the trial.

Testimony took only a day and a half, and the jury deliberated close to 6{ hours before reaching its decision.

Fleischer scheduled Wyant's sentencing hearing for Feb. 24.