A former television producer was ordered Wednesday to stand trial in the 2015 slaying of her deaf and partially blind sister in Studio City.
Los Angeles County prosecutors filed a murder charge against Jill Blackstone last year, after a two-year investigation by LAPD homicide detectives into the death of 49-year-old Wendy Blackstone. Jill Blackstone also was charged with three counts of animal cruelty.
In March 2015, authorities said, Wendy Blackstone was found unconscious next to a dead dog in an enclosed garage that was filled with carbon monoxide. Paramedics tried to resuscitate her, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Los Angeles County coroner’s office determined the woman died of inhalation of combustion fumes and ingestion of the sedative alprazolam.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joseph A. Brandolino ruled Wednesday there was enough evidence for the case against Jill Blackstone to proceed to trial, according to a spokesman for the district attorney’s office.
From the outset, investigators considered Wendy Blackstone’s death to be “very suspicious” and “possibly staged,” according to the coroner’s autopsy report.
She was found in the garage of a Studio City home in the 12000 block of Landale Street, atop blankets with a suicide note in her hand. Investigators said the note was written by Jill Blackstone. Wendy Blackstone was legally blind and required hearing aids, according to the coroner’s report.
Near her feet were a Weber charcoal grill and a trash can with ash in it — both believed to be the source of the carbon monoxide, the report said. Nearby was a mostly empty bottle of vodka, although no alcohol was detected in the dead woman’s body, it said.
Investigators said they saw several notes near her body with end-of-life instructions, including orders not to resuscitate, but none were signed by the dead woman.
Jill Blackstone, who once was a producer for Rosie O’Donnell’s talk show, was initially arrested after her sister died. She was released without charges being filed, but the district attorney’s office soon after ordered further investigation.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Blackstone rose to fame producing numerous television shows, including Sally Jessy Raphael’s “Sally,” according to her personal website. She also produced a 1993 episode of “The Jerry Springer Show,” according to the Internet Movie Database.
Times staff writers Matt Hamilton and Richard Winton contributed to this report.