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David Rose: Witness to the Prosecution

David Rose: Witness to the Prosecution
David Rose sketched Hillside Strangler Angelo Buono during his trial.

When Hillside Strangler Angelo Buono faced his accusers in Los Angeles Superior Court, artist David Rose often sat near him in the courtroom looking for any hint of emotion from one-half of the duo who terrorized Southern California in the fall of 1977. What he found was Buono’s contempt for society.

With colored markers in hand, Rose watched Buono’s facial expressions and body language, documenting what he observed. In the end, he captured in his illustrations the callousness of the man convicted of nine murders during what then was the longest trial in American history.

The USC Libraries have acquired these and other one-of-a-kind drawings to make them available to future generations of USC students, faculty and researchers. The images are now part of the libraries’ regional history collection.

During his career as a courtroom sketch artist, Rose witnessed and reported on some of the most notorious trials in the country.

In 2004, Rose donated many of his original sketches to UCLA, his wife’s alma mater. Shortly before his death in 2006, however, he expressed a desire to have a similar collection established at USC.

“Due to the university’s consistent commitment to diversity – and because of its stature as an educational institution where film, television and journalism is concerned – I knew that USC is a place where they would not only be cared for and preserved, but also a place where they would benefit students and researchers as well,” said daughter Lisa Rose, a successful artist in her own right who resides in Northern California.

Rose hopes that her father’s collection will assist USC scholars as they research historic trials for film, political science, law, and California and American history.

In addition to the Hillside Strangler trial illustrations, USC’s collection contains likenesses of Night Stalker Richard Ramirez; engineer and accused drug smuggler John DeLorean; and Ricky Sanders, a co-conspirator in the infamous 1980 Bob’s Big Boy massacre on L.A.’s Westside.

National news outlets also recruited Rose – who previously worked for motion picture studios such as Walt Disney and Warner Bros. as an animator, layout artist, publicity artist, art director, illustrator and designer – to capture the scenes at many civil trials.

In all, more than 600 of Rose’s drawings are held in the USC Libraries’ special collections.

For more information on USC’s David Rose Collection, contact regional history librarian Dace Taube at (213) 821-2366 or taube@usc.edu.

David Rose: Witness to the Prosecution

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