Seven years after his wife's death, a fertility doctor is on trial for her murder

By Claire Wolters | Fact-checked by Stephanie Cornwell
Published December 6, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • A fertility doctor is on trial for the 2016 murder of his wife.

  • While he claims his wife died falling down the stairs, autopsy and investigations suggest the cause of death was homicide.

Seven years after his wife’s death, a fertility doctor is on trial for her murder.[]

Eric Sills allegedly strangled his wife, Susann Sills, to death on November 13, 2016, a prosecutor told jurors this November, The Orange County Register reported. The suspect then staged the incident to look as if Mrs. Sills had fallen down the stairs, the prosecutor said. Despite suspicious findings in autopsy and investigative reports, Sills continued to practice medicine and was not arrested until 2019.[][]

The motive for the crime is unknown, although some reports hint that there was strife in the Sills’ marriage. The couple were also business partners, having opened a California-based fertility center in 2015 — where Sills practiced until his arrest.[]

The timeline

2016: Sills called 911 on November 13, 2016, to report that a “patient” had fallen down the stairs, as noted in a recording of the call played in court. The prosecution said that Sills’ description of his wife as a patient is “unemotional,” while the defense said it exemplifies Sills’ “doctor mode,” The Orange County Register reported.[]

2017: According to multiple news outlets, investigators declare Mrs. Sills’ death a homicide following an autopsy and ongoing investigation, challenging the narrative of her fatal fall.[][]

2019: Police apprehend Sills for “suspicion of murder” in April 2019 while he is on his way to work. He is briefly taken into custody but released four days later after posting 1 million dollar bail. On May 23, 2019, Sills attended his arrangement and entered a not-guilty plea, according to a tweet by Chris Ercoli, a journalist on the scene.[] 

2021: Sills’ medical license expires.

2022: The New York Medical Board pulls Sills' license through an agreement signed by Sills that says he will not practice medicine while the investigation is ongoing. The California Medical Board also pulled Sills's license.[]

When asked by a reporter from CBS 8 about why it waited more than two years after Sills’ arrest to take action, a board spokesman tells the outlet that it "must prove that the crime that the physician has been convicted of is substantially related to the qualifications, duties, functions, or duties of a physician, which would constitute unprofessional conduct and be a cause for disciplinary action."[]

"In the case of Dr. Sills, the Superior Court judge agreed with the Board’s recommendation that Dr. Sills should not be practicing medicine pending the outcome of his criminal charges,” the spokesperson adds.

Trial continues

Sills’ fate has yet to be decided. The eventual ruling will determine his place in the criminal justice system, and whether or not he can practice medicine again. The trial began late last month.[]

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