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Deputy Tells of Courthouse Chaos After Shooting

Crime: Testimony is given in hearing for Woodland Hills doctor accused of fatally gunning down ex-wife in front of 6-year-old daughter.

March 13, 1996|NICHOLAS RICCARDI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

VAN NUYS — Moments after her father fatally shot her mother in the Los Angeles Civil Courts building, a sobbing 6-year-old girl told sheriff's deputies: "Mommy and Daddy were talking, and Mommy said something Daddy didn't like, so he shot her," a deputy testified Tuesday.

Harry Zelig then approached deputies standing by his dying wife and calmly said: "I'm here. I did it," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Jim Kinney testified at Zelig's preliminary hearing.

Zelig, a Woodland Hills physician, was ordered held without bail on a murder charge for the Sept. 1, 1995, shooting of his ex-wife, Eileen, 40, after a contentious child-support hearing.

The Zeligs had fought a bitter divorce battle, and in court papers Eileen Zelig stated she feared that her husband wanted to harm her.

The deputies who testified Tuesday described the chaos in the downtown Los Angeles Civil Courts building moments after the shooting in a second-floor hallway.

"I heard screaming, but I heard a real scream, a terrifying scream," testified Deputy Sylvia Myers, who had been in a courtroom near the shooting. "I just ran toward the scream and it was a little girl. . . . She was crying. She said, 'My Dad shot my Mommy.' "

The girl was the Zeligs' 6-year-old daughter, Lisa.

On the floor behind her was her mother, bleeding.

"My husband shot me," Myers quoted her as saying.

Myers took Lisa to a secure room where the girl called her older sister and said, "Daddy shot Mommy in the arm." Scribbling on the back of cardboard, Myers took notes as Lisa described her father and the moments before the shooting.

Kinney also apparently heard Lisa's scream from three floors away.

"It sounded very, very--almost hysterical," he testified.

Dashing down three banks of upward-moving escalators, Kinney arrived at the side of Eileen Zelig seconds before her husband walked up and surrendered, he testified.

Kinney said he took Harry Zelig, 48, into a side room, and a deputy who apparently knew Zelig walked in and asked, "How are you doing, Dr. Zelig?"

"I'm having a bad day," Harry Zelig replied, according to Kinney.

Eileen Zelig died a few hours later from a single gunshot to her neck.

Zelig is scheduled to be arraigned March 26.

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