Obstetrician, Midwife Face Murder Trial in Deaths of Newborns

Times Staff Writer

A Valencia obstetrician and his midwife assistant were ordered Thursday to stand trial on second-degree murder charges stemming from the deaths of newborn babies under the doctor’s care.

After a four-month preliminary hearing, Los Angeles Municipal Judge James F. Nelson upheld six of the nine murder charges that had been filed against Dr. Milos Klvana, 47. Klvana’s assistant, Delores Doyle, 35, of Montclair, was ordered to stand trial on two of the three counts of murder filed against her.

Prosecutors have accused Klvana and Doyle of failing to take appropriate steps when they were confronted with serious complications during home births or at the doctor’s birthing clinic.


In the 1984 death that sparked the investigation, the mother was diagnosed with diabetes, considered a complication for pregnancy. According to a sheriff’s investigator, the parents said they did not object to hospitalization, but Klvana failed to recommend it, despite the baby’s breathing problems shortly after birth. The infant died the next day at home.

Drug Procedure

Another case required the injection of a drug to speed the mother’s labor, a procedure Klvana performed without hospitalization and without fetal monitoring, Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Brian R. Kelberg said.

The parents of that child, Julie James and Rudolfo Herrera, won more than $1 million in a civil suit against Klvana but have been unable to collect because he did not have insurance and filed for bankruptcy.

Nelson said he based his ruling on “a strong suspicion” that Klvana and Doyle had acted with “gross negligence” in the deaths.

“There were substantial and consistent departures from the standard of care applicable to out-of-hospital births,” Nelson said.

About 20 Klvana supporters and home-birth advocates were present in the courtroom. They have contended that Klvana and Doyle are being prosecuted because the medical and legal establishments are biased against home-birthing.


Postion Explained

But Nelson, in delivering his ruling, said, “This case is not about the propriety or benefit of home or out-of-hospital births.”

In addition to the murder charges, Klvana and Doyle each were ordered to stand trial on one count of involuntary manslaughter and numerous other felony charges, including insurance fraud and perjury. Nelson dismissed two of the murder charges against Klvana and set both defendants’ Superior Court arraignment for Nov. 6.

Nelson also reduced bail for Klvana and Doyle, who have been in custody for nearly a year, from $750,000 to $200,000.