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Klvana Juror Dismissed Over Use of Dictionary : Justice: The panel hearing nine counts of murder against the Valencia obstetrician begins deliberations anew.

November 21, 1989|GABE FUENTES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A judge told jurors in the trial of Dr. Milos Klvana, who is accused of murdering infants through poor medical care, to begin their deliberations anew Monday after dismissing a juror who brought a dictionary into the jury room.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Judith C. Chirlin instructed the jury to start over after nine days of deliberations because the juror who brought the standard English dictionary to court last Thursday had to be replaced with an alternate.

Jurors are permitted to consider only the evidence presented at a trial. Chirlin dismissed the juror for seeking the dictionary definition of malice, which has a legal meaning that is central to the murder charges against Klvana and was defined by the judge in her instructions to the jury.

Klvana, 49, a Valencia obstetrician, is charged with nine counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of eight infants and a fetus between 1982 and 1986. He also faces 45 other felony charges such as insurance fraud, perjury, grand theft and conspiracy to unlawfully practice medicine.

The prosecution maintains that Klvana knowingly provided negligent medical care that led to the nine deaths, which resulted from common but high-risk birth complications allegedly mishandled by Klvana.

Klvana's defense attorneys, Rita-Jane Baird and Richard A. Leonard, suggested that the doctor may be guilty of manslaughter but not murder. They admitted that Klvana was negligent but argued that he did not know of his inadequacies.

Six of the nine deaths were attributed by the prosecution to Klvana's alleged misuse of Pitocin, a labor-inducing drug.

It was not disclosed whether the jury had reached a verdict on any of the charges.

"The only thing you know for certain is that it will be a different mix of 12 jurors," said the prosecutor, Deputy Dist. Atty. Brian R. Kelberg.

Leonard said he suspected the jury had finished with the other felony counts and was about to delve into the murder charges. The dismissed juror told the judge he brought in the dictionary to look up the word "malice."

Klvana is being prosecuted under the legal theory of "implied malice," in which he is alleged to have proceeded with high-risk deliveries despite knowing that his care was potentially deadly. The issue will be among several in an appeal that probably will be filed in the case, he said.

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