Autopsy results show Barry Levin killed himself
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Prominent defense attorney Barry Levin died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, autopsy results showed Sunday.
The autopsy confirmed preliminary findings that Levin committed suicide, Los Angeles County Coroner’s Lt. Fred Corral said.
Levin, 54, reportedly upset over a debilitating illness, was found slumped over the steering wheel of his car Saturday afternoon. The Vietnam War paratrooper was parked at Los Angeles National Cemetery.
”There’s nothing that indicates anything other than suicide in this matter,” said Matthew McLaughlin, spokesman for the FBI, which is investigating because the death occurred at the federal veterans cemetery. ”But we routinely investigate any unattended deaths thoroughly to verify that that is the case.”
Levin’s clients ranged from notorious accused criminals such as Erik Menendez to celebrities including Robert Blake. A former Los Angeles police officer, Levin was a longtime legal counsel to the department’s Command Officers Association, and served as lead defense attorney in last fall’s Rampart Division corruption trial.
Levin’s brother-in-law and law partner, Ron Dorfman, said Levin suffered from Gaucher’s disease, an inherited enzyme-deficiency disorder that causes victims to bleed and bruise easily. He was in constant, severe pain and already had a shoulder replaced.
Levin hid the disease from most of his friends, but over recent days had grown weaker and weaker. On Saturday morning he could barely lift his briefcase, Dorfman said.
”True to his character, Barry did not want to burden his friends and colleagues with his suffering, and they were not aware of his deteriorating physical condition,” Dorfman said. ”The discomfort he was in was extreme.”
Levin’s wife, Debbie, had taken him Saturday morning to his office in Brentwood so he could tie up some loose ends on his latest work, Dorfman said. After returning home, Levin left the house in his car.
Levin’s wife became worried and called police. His car was found about 2 p.m. at the cemetery.
FBI agent Richard Garcia said Saturday that investigators discovered ”some evidence of a note.” On Sunday, McLaughlin declined to elaborate on that or any other aspect of the investigation.
Described as aggressive, passionate and patriotic, Levin was one of the best-known attorneys in Los Angeles.
Levin spent 12 years a Los Angeles Police Department officer and was proud he never fired his weapon. He also served as an Army staff sergeant and paratrooper during Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart for being shot three times during the Tet offensive.
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