- Associated Press - Monday, June 23, 2014

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - A well-known obstetrician who said his wife died after falling in the shower two years ago was charged Monday with murder.

Dr. Robert M. Neulander faces charges of second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence in the case. He pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in Onondaga County Court and was freed on $100,000 bail.

Neulander’s 61-year-old wife, Leslie Neulander, was found dead in the family home in the Syracuse suburb of Fayetteville in September 2012. The county medical examiner’s office initially ruled the death an accident after Neulander told police his wife had slipped and fallen in the shower.

District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said Monday at a press conference that Leslie Neulander’s body was found in a prone position 60 feet from the shower by emergency personnel. He said she had obvious blunt trauma to the side of her head.

Fitzpatrick said the Neulanders, who were prominent in the community and in charity work, were divorcing when she was found dead. He said they had been sleeping in separate bedrooms.

DeWitt police said the death was treated as suspicious when it happened.

The Neulanders are well known in the Syracuse area for their philanthropy and generosity to charities in the Jewish community. He was the chairman of the 2013 campaign for the Jewish Federation of Central New York, which was conducted in memory of his late wife.

Robert Neulander’s defense attorney said the case appears to be entirely circumstantial and “not much more than a dark guess.”

“He is widely known and widely loved in this community, and the suggestion that he committed this crime is literally inconceivable to the many people who know him and know of him,” attorney Edward Menkin said.

The couple’s daughter Jenna Neulander, who reported the death, was asked to testify before a grand jury last week but couldn’t because she was unavailable and reportedly out of the country, Fitzpatrick said. She attended Monday’s arraignment.

Last year, the couple’s four children released a statement supporting their father “undeniably and with unconditional love.”

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