Encino Man Ordered to Stand Trial on Charges of Setting Up Wife’s Killing
A San Fernando Municipal Court judge ordered an Encino tax consultant Friday to stand trial in the murder of his wife, after a hearing in which police described the man’s repeated threats to kill her.
After a one-day preliminary hearing, Judge Paul I. Metzler ruled that the evidence was sufficient to hold Melvin Green, 55, on the charge he arranged the ambush slaying of his wife, Anita Green. But the judge also indicated that the evidence did not convince him beyond a reasonable doubt.
“This is a circumstantial case,” Metzler said. “There is no doubt about motive. The question is whether Mr. Green is the one. . . .”
“If it does go to trial, there probably ought to be a lot stronger evidence,” Metzler said.
Anita Green, a well-known activist in the Encino Jewish community, was shot once in the back of the head Oct. 25, 1990, after she pulled into the rear parking lot of her husband’s business on Oxnard Street in North Hollywood. Witnesses said she was shot by a man who followed her on a motorcycle. He has never been arrested.
The victim, who was her husband’s office manager, had separated from her husband nine months earlier and had filed for divorce. She worked out of a nearby apartment and had come to the office to pick up a paycheck from her husband.
Prosecutors allege that Melvin Green set up the time for her to pick up the check so that the hit man could kill her while Melvin Green had the alibi of being inside with co-workers.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Kent C. Cahill said Green’s motives were that he wanted to avoid paying a hefty divorce settlement, feared his wife might expose alleged business improprieties and was jealous because she had become romantically involved with Steven Jacobs, the rabbi of the temple she helped found.
Los Angeles Police Detective Ray Hernandez testified Friday that after the killing he collected information from several acquaintances who told of threats made by Melvin Green against his wife during the three years before her death.
In one instance, Green asked an acquaintance how much he would charge to kill his wife, then offered to kill someone in exchange for the deed, Hernandez said. The acquaintance told police that he thought Green was only kidding.
Hernandez said Anita Green also had told friends that she feared her husband and knew of improprieties in his business practices, including a phony master’s degree certificate he hung on his office wall.
Melvin Green’s attorney, Arthur B. Alexander, unsuccessfully sought the dismissal of the case, saying it was “ludicrous” to believe Green would actually talk about killing his wife with several people if he intended to do so.
“I have heard no testimony that connects my client to the shooter,” Alexander said. “I don’t care how many times this man threatened this lady’s life, this does not make him the man who contracted her murder.”
Cahill called the case a jigsaw puzzle in which all the pieces must be viewed to show Green’s involvement.
“Someone arranged to have that man blow Anita Green’s head off,” Cahill said. “That’s exactly what Melvin Green had been saying he would do since 1987.”
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