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Former Jerry Springer Producer Sentenced to Prison in Sister's Death

Jerry Springer, The Jerry Springer Show

Former The Jerry Springer Show producer Jill Blackstone has been sentenced to eight years in state prison after pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter, Deadline states. 

She pled to one felony count of voluntary manslaughter, which involved the death of her sister Wendy Blackstone in March 2015 in Studio City, California. She also pled to three counts of animal cruelty involving three dogs, two of whom died.Police believe that Blackstone, who also worked on shows like Divorce Court and Family Court with Judge Penny, set a garage on fire, which killed her sister and the two dogs, and staged the scene to look like an accident. 

However, Blackstone's lawyer Danny Davis maintained his client's innocence, saying that she "pled no contest clearly to abate her exposure to dying" in prison. He added that his client has Parkinson's disease and lupus and uses a wheelchair. Had she been convicted of the murder charge, which was dismissed due to her plea, Blackstone could have faced life in prison.

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The coroner said that Wendy Blackstone, who suffered from vision and hearing loss, died from inhalation of combustion and the sedative alprazolam. But Davis contested the finding, claiming “we didn’t really have a solid proof of the cause of death." He stated prosecutors had taken three years to file the case, before which, he alleged, biological and toxicological evidence collected and analyzed were destroyed. 

Suggesting that further testing could have been conducted, Davis said of Wendy Blackstone:

They killed a chance to have a better understanding of what caused her death. 

Superior Court Judge James Brandolino rejected the defense's argument that the prosecution lacked sufficient evidence. Brandolino said that the evidence allowed one to draw a "reasonable inference" that Jill Blackstone had planned a murder-suicide that went "awry."