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D.A. Declines to Prosecute Physician in Wife’s Death

Times Staff Writer

Saying there is insufficient evidence at this time, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office Tuesday declined to file murder charges against a San Fernando Valley neurosurgeon who Los Angeles police say killed his wife more than a year ago by supplying her with a massive overdose of the drug Demerol.

Dr. Stephen M. Levine, 42, of Studio City, was released from jail Tuesday afternoon, about 26 hours after police arrested him at his medical clinic in Chatsworth.

“No comment,” Levine repeatedly told reporters before getting into a car outside the West Valley Division police station.

Police say Levine killed his wife, Myrna, 29, by giving her Demerol which he allegedly secured by writing prescriptions for a fictitious person. He then allegedly conspired with his older brother and medical partner, Dr. David Levine, 43, an orthopedist and resident of Studio City, to cover up the death last May 12, police allege.

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Brother Out of Town

Police had planned Monday to arrest David Levine, who signed the death certificate, on accessory-to-murder charges but learned he was out of town. Police were trying to locate him Tuesday when the district attorney’s office announced that no charges would be filed in the case, Deputy Police Chief Dan Sullivan said.

David Levine’s lawyer, Paul Fitzgerald, could not be reached for comment.

“The evidence is insufficient at this time to warrant filing charges,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Brian Kelberg, head of the county prosecutor’s medical-legal unit, said.

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District attorney’s investigators are seeking further toxicological and medical test results, and charges might be filed at a later date, Deputy Dist. Atty. Dino Fulgoni said.

The Levine case has caused continual friction between police and the district attorney’s office, sources say. The two agencies had been collaborating on the investigation for more than a year.

Delays in Filing

Unhappy with repeated delays in filing charges, Sullivan ordered Stephen and David Levine arrested on Monday, an action that apparently took the district attorney’s office by surprise.

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“This is not the end, by any means, of the investigation and it does not mean that charges will never be filed,” Kelberg said Tuesday.

“There’s no animosity between the police and the district attorney’s office,” he added. “They performed their part as they saw appropriate and we performed ours as we saw fit.”

“I am confident that we have solved the case of Myrna Levine and that charges of murder will eventually be filed,” Sullivan said Tuesday.

Police Lt. Bill Gaida defended the decision to arrest Stephen Levine without waiting for the district attorney’s office to conclude its investigation. He said police had recently fulfilled all the district attorney’s office’s requests for information.

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“We felt obliged to arrest him because we don’t just allow murderers to walk the streets freely,” he said.


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