Former Jerry Springer producer Jill Blackstone arrived in a wheelchair for her appearance at Los Angeles County Court on Tuesday after she had been charged with murder for killing her disabled sister.
Blackstone, 58, had allegedly killed her deaf and partially blind sister Wendy, 49, who was found dead in the garage of their Studio City home alongside the corpses of her three dogs in March 2015.
Wendy had been found by paramedics on a pile of blankets with a coroner determining she had died of smoke inhalation and an overdose of the sedative alrazolam. It was reported that traces of Xanax were also found in her blood.
Originally thought to be a failed suicide pact, investigators later believed that Blackstone had been involved in her sister’s death due to the emotional and financial hardship of taking care of her.
Blackstone was arrested in April 2018 and faced charges of murder as well as three counts of animal cruelty.
Her lawyer David G. Davis is attempting to get the murder charge reduced to a charge of manslaughter which would carry an eight-year prison sentence.
Producer Jill Blackstone, 58, arrives in a wheelchair for her court appearance in Los Angeles Superior Court on a murder charge for allegedly killing her disabled sister Wendy at their Studio City residence in 2015
The death of Blackstone’s sister was initially believed to be a suicide after a note and a series of signs were found outside the garage where her body had been found
Investigators later believed that Blackstone killed her sister due to the emotional and financial hardship of looking after her
Judge Thomas Robinson speaks during Jill Blackstone’s court appearance on Tuesday
The death of Blackstone’s sister was believed to be a result of a failed suicide pact with Jill backing out at the last minute.
Paramedics had arrived to the scene on March 14, 2015, where they discovered the suicide note in Wendy’s hand as well as a series of disturbing signs that were outside their garage.
Prosecutors had initially claimed that the signs had given first responders instructions on where to find the two women and their three dogs as they had allegedly been poisoned by a lit barbecue grill.
‘There is a garage door opener on the wall to the left of the side door mounted on the wall,’ the first sign had read, according to the New York Daily News. ‘Both parties have do not resuscitate orders. They can be found in a binder inside.’
A sticky note at the bottom also read ‘Jill Blackstone/Brown Hair’ and ‘Wendy Blackstone/Red Hair.’
A second note read that the gas valves had been turned off inside the house and the garage with a third saying that the dogs were trapped in the garage.
Blackstone was arrested in April 2018 on charges of murder and three counts of animal cruelty
Wendy Blackstone, 49, was found dead in the garage of the resident after inhaling carbon monoxide fumes, believed to have come from a barbecue grill
They then found Wendy’s body in the garage along with one of the dead dogs lying beside her. The two other dogs were also found on the scene suffering from the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.
A suicide note was also found near Wendy’s hand after her body was discovered in the garage.
‘Under no circumstances do I wish to be resuscitated or kept on life support,’ the alleged note read. ‘My sister Wendy Blackstone shares those same wishes.’
Blackstone was found in her bedroom ‘dressed from the waist up, and naked from the waist down,’ according to LA City Fire Department paramedic David Jaureguy.
‘She told me that the dogs were in the garage with another body – that of her sister,’ Jaureguy said at a hearing in 2019. ‘I believe there was a comment about them being dead.’
She had reportedly been slow to respond due to the effects of the carbon monoxide poisoning and was taken to the hospital for two days.
Blackstone was said to have been found at the residence half naked by a paramedic as she revealed the location of her dead sister and their three dogs
An unnamed police source reportedly said that Jill – who was arrested after her sister’s death but was released two days later without a charge – originally denied knowing Wendy was suicidal.
However, authorities claim that Wendy’s death was not an act of suicide and that Blackstone had used the lit grill to get rid of her.
‘From the evidence, a reasonable inference can be drawn that defendant planned what was to be a murder-suicide, with the suicide going awry, but the murder being successful,’ Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Joseph Brandolino said in 2019.
‘I think the nature of the notes and signs clearly supports such an inference. That being the case, the question exists whether the victim knowingly participated.’
‘There is reasonable inference that Wendy Blackstone did not consent to and was not aware of defendant’s plan.’
Daily Mail Online reported in 2015 that Jill owed Wendy $122,000 and was in $1.4million of debt.
After Jill’s release in 2015, the LAPD confirmed that Wendy’s death was still ‘an ongoing murder investigation’.
Neighbors speculated that the sisters – who ran the Thumping Tails Animal Rescue Center together out of their home – had entered into a suicide pact.
Stephanie Cohen, 60, who lived across the street from the sisters, said at the time: ‘The police were here for 12 to 14 hours on Saturday. We were told they were investigating a double suicide, an attempt, and one of the people died.’
She added: ‘[Jill and Wendy] were having a hard time finding a new home because the sister that died was very ill – she couldn’t see, she couldn’t hear, she was housebound, she was very ill. So she needed to find a house that could accommodate her sister with the illness and the dogs.
‘Evidently the pressure was intense on them, but nobody expected this to happen.’
As a producer, Jill worked on Jerry Springer, Sally Jessy Raphael, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, Dr. Drew On Call, The Real, and The Osbournes.