Michael Diller’s Killer Refused Parole

In 1981, 22 year old Michael Diller, the son of Stanley and Dorothy Diller, was murdered by a family friend. The Dillers and the murderer were Orthodox Jews.

The murder was the nail in the coffin for Stanley and Dorothy Diller’s marriage, which formally ended in 1985 and resulted in expensive litigation.

The murderer went to prison where he was recently came up again for parole, but the Diller family and the District Attorney successfully aruged against that option.


A Jewish prisoner in San Quentin is demanding that California reclassify him from “white” to “non-white,” giving a curious twist to America’s long-shifting attitudes toward Jewish ethnicity and race.

The petitioner is Stephen Liebb, 47, an Orthodox Jew and one-time lawyer, who is serving 25 years to life for first-degree murder.

…He was raised in an Orthodox family, educated in New York yeshivas, then graduated from Syracuse University with highest honor.

He moved to Los Angeles to study at UCLA Law School, graduating in 1980, according to UCLA records. He passed the bar examination, started to practice law and then the unthinkable happened.

“I had on ongoing dispute with a friend,” Liebb said. “I was confused, I had an emotional outburst, I stabbed him once and he died. That happened 22 years ago and I have been in different prisons since. I have been turned down for parole three times.”

Here is the court ruling on Liebb’s lawsuit.

Here is more on the case from a court document:

Petitioner became embroiled in a series of business disputes with
the family and friends of the victim, Michael Diller. He assaulted
Joe Gold, a friend of the family, hitting him fifteen times on the
head with a bat. He also hit Michael Diller’s brother, Arthur.

Later, in a telephone call with the Diller brothers’ mother, he
threatened the Diller family. The next morning, Arthur confronted
Petitioner. They fought, and Petitioner hit Arthur with a pipe,
breaking his nose and causing injuries requiring stitches.
Subsequently, Petitioner confronted Michael Diller, who was in a
car with a female friend. Petitioner grabbed the car door, pulled
it open before Michael’s friend could close it, jumped on the
friend’s lap and hit her and Michael. Michael accelerated the car
and Petitioner grabbed the wheel, causing the car to crash into a
building. After the crash, Michael jumped out of the driver’s side
and ran towards a park, with Petitioner chasing him. Michael ran
to the park office and dove through a half-open window. Petitioner
lay on the window sill of the park office, facing Michael.
Petitioner had a knife, and Michael grabbed it, cutting his hand.
Petitioner pulled the knife away from Michael, stabbed him in the
chest and then ran. Michael died shortly thereafter. The deputy
medical examiner testified that Michael died of loss of blood and a
stab wound through his lung and heart. The knife, a three-andthree-quarter-inch blade, had been given a hard thrust and twisted
inside Michael’s chest.

Here is an interview with the murderer:

“Basically, it was someone who had been a friend of mine, the brother of my girlfriend. I allowed a series of conflicts to escalate that could have been resolved without any type of violence. I stabbed an innocent person to death.”

“I have taken full responsibility, and for many years it was very hard to live with the weight of what I have done. At first I was in denial. A lot of people here are – it’s easy to stay in denial when you’re in prison, but I thought about what I had done. When I started to get in touch with the harm and grief I caused, it was very, very hard to live with, especially the first years. I felt so guilty I couldn’t see how I could ever be good again.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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