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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 11:09 GMT
Springer show killer faces life
Ralf Panitz
Ralf Panitz and his ex-wife had been fighting over their house
A man has been convicted in the US of beating his ex-wife to death hours after they appeared on an episode of the Jerry Springer television chat show.

Ralf Panitz, a German citizen, was found guilty of second-degree murder on Tuesday and could face life in prison when he is sentenced in May.

He thought only of himself and how he was going to win at any cost

Charlie Roberts, prosecutor
Panitz had appeared on the television programme, known for the shock revelations by its guests, along with his ex-wife, Nancy Campbell-Panitz, and his new wife, Eleanor Panitz.

The programme, entitled Secret Mistresses, was filmed three months before it aired on American national television

Campbell-Panitz thought she had been invited on the programme because her ex-husband wanted a reconciliation.

Stalking claim

Instead, he revealed he was remarried and he and his new wife accused Campbell-Panitz of stalking them.

But after the programme was taped, Panitz and his wife moved into Campbell-Panitz's home.

Campbell-Panitz's body was found in the house in Sarasota, Florida, which she and her ex-husband were fighting over.

Jerry Springer
Jerry Springer denies any responsibility
Prosecutors said Panitz brutally beat and killed his ex-wife because he was furious she had won a court order that day to throw him out of the house.

"He thought only of himself and how he was going to win at any cost," said prosecutor Charlie Roberts.

Prosecutors said Campbell-Panitz had been stamped to death after being choked. The defence argued she died from a heart attack suffered during a fight with someone, but not her ex-husband.

Drunken haze

Panitz had denied killing his ex-wife, testifying that he got drunk on the day of her death and did not remember anything until the next day.

Jerry Springer, the host of the controversial television show in which guests often end up trading punches, has said his programme has no responsibility in the murder.

The 11-day trial evoked memories of a case in 1995, when a former guest on The Jenny Jones Show was killed after appearing in an episode about secret crushes.

When guest Jonathan Schmitz found out his secret admirer was a man, Scott Amedure, he shot him dead.

He was convicted of murder and the victim's family won a $25m million judgment against the programme.

See also:

29 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Springer murder suspect arrested
26 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Police hunt for Springer guests
25 Aug 98 | Entertainment
Springer show slammed ... again
17 May 99 | Entertainment
Watchdog backs Springer
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