Roger D. Groot

Lawyer, Professor

Roger D. Groot, 63, a Washington and Lee University law professor who assisted the defense in the trial of Washington area sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, died Nov. 12 near Lexington, Va., after having a heart attack while hunting, according to a university official.

Mr. Groot joined the law school in 1973, two years after graduating from law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He taught criminal law and procedure. In 1999, he took over as director of the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse, a legal aid clinic.

He assisted lawyers for Malvo, 20, who is serving a life term in Virginia for one of 10 sniper slayings in Virginia, Maryland and the District in October 2002. John Allen Muhammad was sentenced to death for his role in the killings.

This year, Mr. Groot was appointed by Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) to the Forensic Science Board created by the General Assembly to establish policies, procedures and standards for the state's new Department of Forensic Science.

Joseph Bonanno Jr.

Son of Crime Figure

Joseph Bonanno Jr., 60, the youngest son and namesake of the late crime chieftain who headed one of New York's five original crime families, died of a heart attack Nov. 2 at his ranch in Ione, Calif.

Mr. Bonanno, the youngest of three children born to Joseph Bonanno, was shielded from much of the family business, according to his brother, and raised horses on his 20-acre ranch. He studied animal husbandry at the University of Arizona, where he was a bull rider and calf roper in club rodeo competition.

The family patriarch, nicknamed "Joe Bananas," retired to Arizona in 1968 after allegedly running one of the most powerful Mafia groups of the 1950s and 1960s. He died in 2002 at age 97.

Joe Bonanno Jr. was given a 120-day jail sentence in June 1985 after pleading guilty to making a false statement to a federal drug agent during an alleged cocaine conspiracy investigation. He and his brother, Bill Bonanno, also were charged in an alleged home improvement scam. Joe Bonanno Jr. pleaded no contest in a plea bargain, and his brother was convicted.

David Westheimer


David Westheimer, 88, a bestselling novelist whose most successful work, "Von Ryan's Express," drew on his experiences as a World War II prisoner of war and was made into a popular movie that starred Frank Sinatra, died of a heart ailment Nov. 8 at a Los Angeles hospital.

A former newspaper editor and columnist, Mr. Westheimer also was known for his 1965 novel "My Sweet Charlie," which explored racial tensions in a Texas town. He turned it into a successful play, which was produced on Broadway in 1966 and later made into a television movie that garnered an Emmy for actress Patty Duke.

Mr. Westheimer was born in Houston and worked at the Houston Post. His journalism career was interrupted by service in the Army Air Forces during World War II. He spent 28 months as a prisoner of the Italians and later the Germans.

"Von Ryan's Express," the story of an escape from a POW train, was his fourth novel and was made into an Oscar-nominated movie in 1965. He wrote a 1992 memoir of his POW years, "Sitting It Out." His last novel, "Delay En Route," was published in 2002.

Jerre D. Noe

Bank Computer Expert

Jerre D. Noe, 82, a banking computerization expert who helped develop technology that enabled early computers to read checks, died Nov. 12 in Seattle, six weeks after learning he had mesothelioma, a rare cancer, the University of Washington announced on its Web site.

He was the first chairman of the university's Center for Computer Science and Engineering, and retired in 1989. While he was working at the Stanford Research Institute in the 1950s, he led a technical research project that developed a computer system using checks printed with magnetic ink for Bank of America in the 1950s. The checks could be read by early computers, eliminating the need for clerks to handle each check individually.

Mr. Noe's team also developed the first machines to handle electronic fund transfers.