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TV producer sentenced for manslaughter in sister’s death

February 18, 2022 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A television producer was sentenced to eight years in prison for killing her deaf and partially blind sister in what prosecutors said was a botched murder-suicide, prosecutors said Thursday.

Jill Blackstone, 59, was sentenced on Wednesday after pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter and animal cruelty. A murder charge that carried a potential life sentence was dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

Blackstone worked as a TV producer for programs including “The Jerry Springer Show,” ″The Tony Danza Show,” ″Divorce Court” and “Family Court with Judge Penny.”

Her 49-year-old sister, Wendy Blackstone, died in 2015 along with two of her three pet dogs. Prosecutors alleged that Blackstone drugged the woman, forged a suicide note, placed her in a garage at their Studio City home and lit a charcoal grill.

The sister died from smoke inhalation and an overdose of alprazolam, a sedative, according to an autopsy.

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Police said they also found notes that warned people to enter the garage carefully and stating that “both parties have do-not-resuscitate orders.”

Investigators believed Blackstone was motivated by frustration at the emotional and financial hardship of taking care of her sister.

She was arrested two days after her sister’s body was found but was released when prosecutors declined to file charges. Following further investigation, she was rearrested and charged in 2018 with murder and animal cruelty.