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Jury: Posh Hotel Not Liable For Guest’s Death

March 1, 1988 GMT

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ The posh Fontainebleau Hilton Hotel is not liable for the garrote death of a Nevada mortgage banker who was killed there five years ago, a jury has found.

John Masegian’s body was found by a hotel worker in a stairwell with a 32- inch nylon cord with wooden knobs wrapped around his neck.

His widow sued, contending the death could have been prevented if hotel security was better. Defense lawyers told jurors the death was a contract killing that took place in Masegian’s room and that the body was dragged to the stairwell.


″This crime was not foreseeable, nor was it preventable,″ hotel lawyer Leland Stansell Jr. argued.

Jurors deliberated about 2 1/2 hours Monday before deciding the hotel shouldn’t be liable for someone murdered in his room, jury foreman Nora Langford said.

″The incident would have had to happen outside the room,″ she said.

Widow Carol Masegian, 43, had sought more than $1 million for herself and for five of the victim’s five children from a previous marriage.

Police initially treated Mrs. Masegian as a suspect after uncovering a mysterious telephone message she received at the hotel the day before the killing. However, she was never charged.

During the trial, defense attorneys portrayed her as a woman with much to gain from the death of her wealthy husband, who planned to divorce her and leave her with nothing.

Because of her husband’s death, Mrs. Masegian receives $857 a month from her husband’s worker’s compensation benefits and $140,000 from his estate.