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Court denies petition to man found guilty of murdering wife, microwaving Pomeranian to death

August 22, 2013|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com
  • John Levin arrives at the Glendale Police Department after he was found in Washington State on Thursday evening, October 29, 2009. The California Supreme Court on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, denied a petition to review the conviction of Levin, who was found guilty of killing his wife and microwaving his Pomeranian dog to death.
John Levin arrives at the Glendale Police Department… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a petition to review the conviction of a Glendale man who killed his wife and microwaved his Pomeranian dog to death.

John Levin, 49, had in May unsuccessfully appealed his second-degree murder conviction for the 2009 stabbing death of his 35-year-old wife, Michelle Levin, to the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

Levin was sentenced in July 2011 to 16 years to life in prison for his wife’s death. He was also ordered to serve eight months in prison after pleading guilty to animal cruelty for stuffing his dog inside a microwave oven, which officials said was turned on for an undetermined amount of time.

His attorney, Donna Harris, declined to comment on the court’s denial, saying she needed her client’s approval.

Levin, who is currently an inmate at a minimum-security facility in San Diego, claimed his rights were violated when evidence about the dog’s killing was allowed to be presented to jurors even though he’d already pleaded guilty to animal cruelty at the beginning of the trial.

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Detectives discovered his dog, which they said suffered “terrible burning,” inside the blood-splattered microwave oven.

According to Levin’s petition, the evidence “would inflame the emotions of the jury and cause them to want to punish” him. 

He also alleged that the trial court denied a request to instruct jurors that he was intoxicated at the time of the murder, adding that it could have resulted in a lesser sentence.

Police discovered the bodies of Levin’s wife and dog on Sept. 11, 2009, in their North Glendale condominium in the 200 block of West Fairview Avenue after receiving a call from someone concerned about the couple’s whereabouts.

A day later, Levin was arrested while attempting to cross the Canadian border. He had a cut on his chest, which detectives said he performed with a knife after stabbing his wife to make it appear as though it was a defensive wound.

Authorities determined that his wife was stabbed to death three days before her body was found in a locked second-floor bedroom.

Levin told police he stabbed his wife in the back “because she asked him to do so,” according to his petition. 

Officers testified during court proceedings that the couple’s home was littered with dog excrement and rotting food and there were pills scattered on a table.

According to his petition, he claimed to love his dog, which he reportedly fed, played with and regularly walked.

He claimed he was addicted to prescription pills, which ultimately led officials to terminate him from Montrose Search and Rescue in 2008.

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Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.

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