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`I EXPLODED,' MAN TESTIFIES IN KILLING.

Byline: Janet Gilmore Daily News Staff Writer

A Woodland Hills physician testified Wednesday that his former wife followed him down a courthouse hall and threatened to harass him with divorce-related court battles.

He said it was then he shot Eileen Zelig to death.

``I exploded,'' Harry Zelig testified calmly and stoically during his murder trial in Los Angeles Superior Court. ``It was like a fury I'd never felt in my life. It was like a volcano in my head blew up.

``I have no recollection of drawing the gun or pulling the trigger. I made eye contact with Eileen and the gun went off.''

The 50-year-old doctor is charged with first-degree murder for the September 1995 death of Eileen Zelig, a Chatsworth resident.

Zelig told jurors he did not intend to kill her.

For the doctor to be convicted of first-degree murder, prosecutors must prove that he intended to kill Eileen Zelig. Jurors could decide Zelig is guilty of a lesser charge, such as manslaughter.

Wednesday's testimony began with Zelig reviewing his troubled relationship with his former wife. He said the marriage had worsened after treatment for his diabetes left him impotent, and he filed for divorce in late 1993. Eileen Zelig began an intense campaign to force him to comply with court-ordered child support and alimony payments, he testified.

He said she called his employers, disparaged him, got him summoned into court and left threatening messages on his answering machine.

During this time, Zelig testified, he was dealing with work-related problems and news that his only sibling had died. His own medical problems pushed him deeper into a depressed and ``dissociative'' state, he said.

On the day of the shooting, Zelig testified, his former wife taunted him in a cheery tone. He claimed she told him that she would take his money, that the court battles would not end and that he wasn't a man anymore.

``I said Eileen, please, if you don't stop you're going to kill me,'' Zelig said, ``and she just laughed like: `Ha! You finally got it. You die, and I get (life insurance money worth) $600,000.' ''

Zelig said it was then the gun went off. He said he saw his former wife fall backward, and he stood there, stunned, looking down at her.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 20, 1997
Words:380
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