A California fertility doctor, E. Scott Sills, was found guilty on Tuesday of second-degree murder in connection with the death of his wife, 45-year-old Susann Sills.
The prosecution argued that Sills strangled his wife and staged her death to appear as a fall down the stairs. Initially reported as an accident in November 2016, Susann was found dead in their San Clemente home.
Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Walker contended that Sills killed his wife during an argument and then attempted to conceal the murder as a stairway fall.
According to an obituary in the Los Angeles Times, The prosecution presented evidence of blood stains in their daughter’s bedroom, where Susann had been sleeping due to a migraine. Text messages between the couple revealed strains in their relationship, with Susann expressing distress and a desire to break free.
The defense argued that Susann’s precarious health, including migraines, Valium use, and tramadol medication, might have contributed to her fall on the stairs.
Sills and Susann both worked at the Center for Advanced Genetics in Carlsbad, California, where Susann co-founded the clinic, and Sills served as the medical director.
Alleged points of contention in their relationship included a topless photo posted by Susann after losing a bet. The defense suggested that Susann’s health issues and medications played a role in her tragic fall.
Sills, a Cornell University graduate and a board-certified physician specializing in IVF and fertility surgery, now faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life in state prison.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 15. Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer characterized the crime as a calculated act, emphasizing the diabolical nature of murdering one’s spouse and disguising it as an accident.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.