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Accessory Count Dropped in Sun Valley Killing

April 16, 1988|PATRICIA KLEIN LERNER | Times Staff Writer

A San Fernando judge dismissed a criminal charge Friday against the girlfriend of a Tarzana man accused of killing his wife and trying to kill his daughter.

Superior Court Judge Robert Fratianne granted a defense motion to dismiss one felony count of accessory after the fact against Sonia Bianca Siegel, 43, of Tarzana. Siegel had been ordered to stand trial on the charge in November.

The charge against Siegel stemmed from help she provided Robert Peernock, 50, also of Tarzana, while he was being sought in the murder last year of his estranged wife, Claire Laurence Peernock, and the attempted murder of his oldest daughter, Natasha Peernock Sims.

Sims, 18, and the body of Claire Peernock, 45, were found July 22 at 4:30 a.m. in Claire Peernock's car in Sun Valley. The auto had been doused with gasoline and had struck a utility pole in what police said was a staged accident.

On Dec. 23, Peernock was ordered to stand trial on one count each of murder, attempted murder, arson and kidnaping.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Pamela Davis-Springer argued in legal briefs submitted to the court that Siegel should be prosecuted because she helped Peernock manage his financial affairs between July 30 and his arrest on Sept. 4, 1987.

But Siegel's attorney, Victor B. Kenton, contended that Siegel was not breaking the law because she was following a lawyer's advice. Siegel consulted the attorney after police informed her that they were seeking Peernock on the criminal charges, Kenton said.

Peernock was ordered last week by San Fernando Municipal Judge Malcolm H. Mackey to stand trial on one count of soliciting the death of his daughter, Sims, shortly before Peernock's preliminary hearing. That charge will be included in Peernock's trial on previous felony counts.

A jail inmate testified that Peernock offered to pay him $20,000 to kill Sims, the only witness against him in the death of his wife. The inmate testified that he was told by Peernock to make it appear that Sims' attorney, Victoria W. Doom, was responsible.

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