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TV Show Disrupts NY Murder Case

October 22, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ A television cop show took center stage at the real-life trial of a man charged with killing his former teacher.

State Supreme Court Justice Marcy Kahn quizzed jurors Wednesday about Tuesday’s episode of the ABC series ``NYPD Blue″ after defendant Corey Arthur’s attorney complained that it could unfairly influence the panel.

Anthony Ricco, Arthur’s lawyer, said the episode’s plot resembled the case, in which Arthur and another man are charged with robbing and murdering Jonathan Levin, a teacher and son of Time Warner Inc. Chairman Gerald Levin.

The episode was inflammatory and ``the worst kind of exploitation,″ Ricco said.

``It’s the network pimping off a tragedy,″ he said. ``Why did this show have to be shown now? They just wanted make money.″

Arthur, 20, and Montoun Hart, 26, are charged with the May 30, 1997, killing of Levin, 31, a popular English teacher at Taft High School in the city’s Bronx borough.

Arthur and Hart, who is to be tried later, are accused of binding Levin with duct tape, slashing and stabbing him to make him divulge his bank card number. Levin was then fatally shoot.

The television show’s plot resembles the Levin case, Ricco said.

``Almost every aspect of this case was copied,″ he said. ``Corey was portrayed as an animal. They (the two killers) use the victim’s ATM card; the victim is a teacher, and his father is a millionaire.″

Jennifer Friedland, spokeswoman for ``NYPD Blue″ producer Steven Bochco, said the episode was ``not a portrayal or representation of the murder″ of Levin. She did not account for the many similarities.

``Our episodes are written and filmed so far in advance of the air date that it is impossible to anticipate how current events will unfold,″ Friedland said, apparently referring to the airing of the episode on the trial’s second day. She said the episode was filmed in August.

When Kahn asked the 12 main and eight alternate jurors whether they had seen the show, two indicated they had. Both said they were unaffected.

``All I can do is express my deep disappointment,″ Kahn said. She said she often watches ``NYPD Blue″ but missed it Tuesday.

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